Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snowed In

Winter has definitely arrived in this part of the country, and while it does get cold and snowy it doesn't happen very often. Where I live we are sheltered by the Chesapeake Bay so most of the time the bad weather misses us. Not the last couple of years, much to the Bumper's delight. Last year we had one very decent snowfall -- about 5inches and this year so far we have had one and are in the middle of getting another.

As an adult my perspective on snowstorms changed. When I started working after college I suddenly realized that wintry weather could be a pain, because gone were the carefree days of tobogganing, snowmen, and hot coca; they have been replaced by shoveling the driveway, scraping off the car and actually driving to work in the stuff. YUCK!

Fast forward a dozen years or so and the Bumper enters my life. Hello childhood magic, how  I have missed you. The Bumper is three this year and she has gotten the idea about snow. She loves the stuff! She makes snow angles, and snowmen, and dizzy crazy tracks in the snow. I can enjoy her laughter and enthusiasm, while vainly trying to convince my headstrong daughter that 8 degrees F is not play weather.

In the end I caved, bundled the two of us up and headed out with her. When we finally came in I made a bowl of maple candy, since the Bumper does not care for coca, and soon we will pop some pop corn  and sit by the pellet stove. Winter bliss I say.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Of Toddlers and Tea Parties

One of the things the Bumper received from her grandparents for her third birthday was a musical play tea set. That's right musical, the tea pot "sings" I'm a Little Teapot. I plastered a smile on my face and politely said thank you. In my head I was thinking "Oh no! Not another noisy toy!"
Well, the Bumper fell in love with the tea set even before it was out of the box. She could hardly wait for me to take away the package, and once I did she promptly served tea to her grandparents. Even though I switched the dial to off, it did not take the Bumper long to figure out how to turn on the sound. I contemplated taking out the batteries, but seeing her jumping with excitement when the kettle made pouring noises stayed my hand. I am glad. For something wonderful happened.

After the initial excitement wore off, the Bumper seemed to forget about the little play set and I thought that would be that.  A few weeks later she discovered it again and this time the figured out how to make it play the song. She was ecstatic!  she jumped, she danced and she sang. Then she insisted I find the lyrics online and perform the dance that goes along with the lyrics. I obliged and I had so much fun showing the Bumper how to be the little teapot. We spent about three hours (not kidding) doing this until she learned the song and the movements by heart.

Since that afternoon we have had many pretend picnic tea parties, but the music has stayed off. The Bumper turned off the sound herself at the end of our dance party. She decided she likes quiet tea parties instead. She still likes the song and dance and every so often I catch her singing it to herself and making the movements.

A toy I thought would be a nuisance turned into something that opened the doors of imagination for the Bumper. I am glad to have been wrong on this one. I love watching her play and invent stories for her stuffed animals.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Whew! The Holidays Are Over or Dickens Is Rolling In His Grave

I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge this year. It is not that I don't like Christmas, I do  and it is a good thing because my family tends to stretch it out until the middle of January. We start on Christmas Eve and end with the Fiesta for the Infant Jesus of Cebu.

I felt like Scrooge because of the ghosts. I knew this Christmas was going to be difficult with my husband's death shortly before Thanksgiving, but I did not expect to visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come.

 When I went to midnight mass I had a hard time concentrating on the service because I kept remembering years past. I remember the year we got engaged and how happy we were, singing "Joyful, Joyful we adore thee," at the top of our lungs because we were bursting with heartfelt joy. Then I remembered last year; we were separated and still angry with one another, but the two of us made time to go "sneaking" (the three of us flattened ourselves against the walls of the sanctuary and scoot around the room) with the Bumper.  It was with a pang I realized that was the first and last time the three of us would ever do that, so in commemoration after Mass I went "sneaking".
On Christmas day we went to a Christmas brunch where the Bumper was showered in gifts, and go to play with some children her own age. Afterwards we went back to Nana's house where the Bumper's paternal grandparents came over and her even more gifts, the Bumper and I have been quite overwhelmed by all this generosity. Yet in the middle of the happiness, I was ill at ease waiting for the moment when the Bumper asked to see her dad. When that moment came, none of us present knew what to say and instead chose the diversionary tactic of a tea party with Grandpa.

As we headed into the New Year, I began to understand that I was going to have to create new holiday traditions with the Bumper, one of those traditions will be visiting with my sister on the day after Christmas, but I am not quite sure how to incorporate all of the Bumper's dad's family. Another new tradition may be opening family gifts on Epiphany.

The next few weeks were taken over by dance practice for the fiesta. The fiesta is a Filipino custom that is part party, part cultural showcase and part religious devotion, and although my family is not Filipino we have been adopted by the community. This was Marie's first year dancing and she did not quite have the hang of all the steps, but she sure had fun! As I watched her my fists instinct was to to share the pictures I took with her dad, but he is no longer there. Instead I have been sharing the pictures with as many friends and relatives as possible.

The Holiday season was good because I was able to connect the Bumper with some of her dad's family, and take pleasure in her delight in everything. Yet at the same time it was hard because I was, and still am, grieving. As I stood in front of the Nativity at our church I thought about that first Christmas so long ago: Mary and Joseph were far away from family and the comforts of home, the were most likely scared and lonely, yet they had faith in God's plan and they persevered. Even the great event of the birth of the Savior was tinged with sorrow. I am comforted by that, knowing it is okay for me to be sad as well joyful. I also have faith in God's plan and I too will persevere.