Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Greetings and Gay Happy Meetings

There'll be holiday greetings
and gay happy meetings
when friends come to call --
it's the hap-happiest season of all!
-- It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

[So much pain swirling in our national conversation right now, so much urgent advocacy,
sorrow upon sorrow.  But I've been writing and advocating about painful things elsewhere.
Here, I've got two cheerful daughters, a snow-day tomorrow,
and lots of Christmas anticipation --
so let's talk holiday greetings and gay happy meetings!]

JoyDad and I attended a delightful musical-revue comedy the other weekend.  It was a rollicking four-character holiday production, starring four singing church-organist ladies -- all delightfully played by men, in a production by a company that "creates exhilarating, entertaining, challenging queer theater."

At one point in the show, just after the intermission, one of the church-organist ladies comes out alone on stage and serves up some earnest, hilariously off-pitch sensitivity training about "the gays."  First, she told us how to greet "a gay."  You turn on a brilliant thousand-watt smile, and wave one arm in a huge over-the-top dramatic circle of greeting, and carol out, "Hell-OOOOOO!"  We all got to practice, so we learned how to do it just right.

After several other tidbits, she then instructed us on how to recognize "a gay."  You see, she confidentially shared with us, gays can't whistle jazz.  So, in order to figure this out better, let's all try whistling together so-and-such classic by Charlie Parker... met by silence or muffled giggles from the audience as she whistles alone.  OK then, how about this-and-such Miles Davis standard?  Again, her solo whistle tails off into silence... and then she beckons the other organist ladies out to join her on stage, and nervously shares with them in a loud stage whisper:  "THEY'RE ALL GAY!"

And then the ladies fanned out onto the stage, pasted on thousand-watt smiles and greeted us with huge circular waves and a big cheery "Hell-OOOOOOO!"

Guess what greeting we went home and taught Joy the next day?

You see, stereotypes aside, Joy absolutely loves bright-eyed interaction and big gestures and dramatic, musically-spoken utterances.  She thought the big "Hell-OOOO!" was hilarious, quickly absorbing it and turning it into a game where she and a partner take turns echoing "hello" and "bye-bye" at one another.

Today, she and I were playing the game as we walked up the hill to school.  We met another mom on the way, and I prompted Joy to say hello.  And she gave the most adorable wave and recognizable "hello" -- our game had turned into something not overly dramatic at all, just a lovely greeting for a happy meeting.

Wishing you many, many lovely holiday greetings and gay happy meetings when friends come to call!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 2

It's been a long time since I blogged about seizures.  Joy was still having seizures when I started Elvis Sightings in mid-2008, but we were well on our way to getting the just-right meds combo at that point. The last seizure we saw was on September 11, 2008.

As of this Thursday morning, it had been 1554 days.

But no longer.  On Thursday morning Joy had a seizure that was powerful enough to knock her down.  I'm pretty sure I missed the actual seizure itself, which must have happened while she was on the couch with her iPad while I was whirling around packing bags and wraps for school.  But when I got her up to put on her coat and go to school, she tripped over her boots and fell to the floor.  She fell again in the driveway a minute later, and then she was very sleepy and out-of-things for about an hour.  Clearly a seizure event with the sort of post-seizure sequence that we used to see all the time.

We've consulted with her neurologist, survived a blood draw, bumped up one of her med doses (which hadn't been changed since the seizures went away).  

So the count has started over again.  Now we're on Day 2 since the last seizure.

It would sure be nicer to have it be Day 1556.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let It Snow!

It's been a mild, mild kick-off to the winter season in Wisconsin so far.  We didn't harvest our last Swiss chard until Thanksgiving, and we're still getting bits of thyme and sage.  JoyMama has enjoyed bike-commuting to work into December, and JoyDad has appreciated the reprieve from snow-removal.

Rose, however, was pining for snow, making wistful observations about the chances of a white Christmas.

Sometimes, though, when you have no snow, you make your own!

Joy and Rose kick "snow" on a pier (cattail fluff)

This photo is from Saturday, a clear, relatively-mild day for December.  That white stuff that Joy is gleefully kicking looks for all the world like snow, but look a little closer...

Close-up of cattail fluff on a wooden pier

That's not snow, it's cattail fluff!  Turns out that the brown part of the cattail is actually made up of densely-packed seeds, each attached to a bit of fluff to carry it away on the wind.  When you unpack a dried cattail, it explodes into more "snow" than you ever thought possible!  (Even up close, it looks a little like frost-tracings, doesn't it?)

Fortunately, at least to the girls' minds, we had no need to turn to the cattails on Sunday:

Snow on the tomato cages in our garden

Above is the scene in our garden, glorious sticky mantle-of-white all over the fence and the stacked tomato-cages.

Joy, age 8, in the snow

And there goes Joy, ready to revel!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

O Christmas Tree

I've been photographing and commenting on Christmas trees in the Joy household since the blog began in 2008.  That year, in a reflection on boundaries, I said:
I didn't exactly imagine that we'd still putting our Christmas tree out of reach with a four-and-a-half year old, but such is the way of things around here. The "safe" place for the little artificial tree (as safe as it gets, anyway) is on top of the stereo cabinet. No glass ornaments, just in case.
Maybe next year, we could consider a real tree, I said.

Christmas tree 2008

In 2009, the little fake tree was up on the stereo cabinet again, and I wrote a longer and somewhat frustrated reflection to the effect that holidays only come around ONCE a year -- and how do we expect our kiddos who learn things by routine and repetition to master things that only come around as exceptions?  (Christmas comes but once a year, and Einmal ist keinmal!

Christmas tree 2009

In 2010, it looks as if I had other things to reflect on in December, including what happened when Joy encountered Santa Claus in the mall.  But if you look at our Christmas Day photo, there's that little tree up on the stereo cabinet again -- and the presents didn't come out until the girls were in bed Christmas Eve.  It looks like I pulled a Cheater McCheaterpants in January 2011 reflection on Inchstones -- not having actually taken a tree-alone photo, and the tree was down by then, I re-used the 2009 photo!  The "inchstone" that year, though, was that we were able to replace the tree with a potted plant when it came time to take Christmas down -- and the plant became an unmolested part of the year-round decor.  (Well, I think she's stashed little items in the pot from time to time.  But other than that!)

Christmas 2010, with tree

Christmas 2011, and I apparently had nothing new to say about the darn little tree, and can't find as how I took ANY real photos of it.  There were other good things happening with Joy, though.  And Rose came to the rescue with an arty shot on her new Christmas camera.  Maybe she was using the paranormal setting (her charming misreading of the label "panorama")?  Anyway, there it is, little tree up high once more.

Christmas tree 2011

And now it's Christmas 2012, and once again the time rolled round to decorate a tree.  December crept up on us fast this year, and I keep falling down on the job of early-purchasing an Advent calendar (it was something that my mother used to do for me, and she passed away in 2005, and darn it if I still haven't quite come to terms with the Advent calendar responsibility being mine.  Miss you, Mom!)  However, this year it worked out all to the good, because finding the bookstore sold out of Advent calendars, Rose and I ended up devising a home-made Christmas-tree Advent calendar for Joy instead!  Instead of opening fiddly little card-stock doors, Joy gets to move a numbered sticky-note each day from the "Ornaments" page to the Christmas tree.  Rose did all the artwork, and is so excited to see Joy move the ornament each day.  Joy, meanwhile, needs some support to make it happen, and is happier to take on the task some days than others, but she hasn't refused yet!  Here's how this tree looks -- don't you just love the "star" effect of the camera flash?

Christmas tree Advent calendar, 2012

And so this is Christmas, and once again we come to the tree... and perceptive readers will notice something just a little bit different this year.

Christmas tree 2012, with Nativity set

Joy has come so very, very far this past year.  It was clear that this was a year that the big tree was worth attempting.  We were still a little bit too wary to attempt a real tree, given that there's water involved if a real tree were to take a tumble.  So we dug way back into the most-hidden of our storage -- we hadn't used our big artificial tree since we moved into this house in 1999!  We found it, though.  And Rose was ALL agog to help me disembowel the box, and put the tree together.  And Joy sat on the couch, playing with her iPad and taking it all in, in the indirect way that she has.  We called her over to help put some of the branches in, and then again to help us hang some of the easier ornaments.  She let us take her through those tasks, but didn't ask for more.  And she hasn't given the tree any trouble at all, in over a week.

The Nativity set, though, is a toy as well as a decoration.  Though the tree above it is off-limits, the creche is hers for the playing.  And she does, flawlessly making the distinction between the off-limits tree and the all-hers Nativity.  Her favorite characters are the camels.

= = = = = = = =

It turns out that einmal im Jahr (once a year) is not negligible after all.  She remembers.  She's learning.  We see it with all the holidays, not just Christmas -- she can collect colored eggs into a basket at Easter now.  She can knock on doors and take a piece of candy for her bucket at Halloween.

Next year, we're going to a tree farm to cut our own, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise.

Merry, merry Christmas!