Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Poor Ian.

He's bored.

All he has is a Wii, a DS, 3 light sabers, a slew of army men, enough Legos to build a new space station, a shiny new Rubik's cube, and a cat.

Life sucks for poor, bored Ian.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Morning 2008

Eight on the nose,
Our boys arose
And just as they were taught,
Came to our bed
And thusly said,
"Let's go see what we got!"

Their plea denied,
Their dad replied,
"Not yet, you understand?"
He scurried past,
Then back so fast
With gift for me in hand.

Inside, an Elph
From Canon's shelf,
With charged up battery,
And memory
-4 gig for me!-
For pictures 'round the tree.

Then down the stairs
We went in pairs,
With Dani close behind us
And took our seats
Beside our treats
Where Santa knew to find us.

New GeoTrax
And Lego packs.
Soft Bath and Body lambies.
Puzzles to do,
Fatigues for two,
And Star Wars Lego jammies.

The paper flew,
The laughter grew,
The boys were good and jolly.
But 'cross the room
Impending doom:
Teenager melancholy.

The Office game,
A robe (so lame),
John Lennon book (she flaunted),
iTunes. And yet
forgiven debt
Is all she really wanted.

For Darren - YES!
For geocaching jaunts.
A cool fifty
To Academy
To spend howe'er he wants.

And then for me,
New game for Wii:
The Dance Dance Revolution!
To recommit:
Size 12s I'll fit!
This may be the solution.

The day is spent
How fast it went!
The family's soundly sleeping.
Except for me,
Writing faithfully
These memories for keeping.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the numbers on Christmas Eve

9 cousins
9 aunts, uncles and grandparents
8 quarts of taco soup
3 pies
12 birthday cupcakes
6 2-liter bottles of soda
14 Christmas carols
4 hours of laughter and delight
3 distinct patterns of wrapping paper, none with names attached (Only Mom knows!)
5 stockings stuffed
1 happy home ablaze with lights

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Christmas Kisses

The other day riding along in the car, Darren and I chatted with the boys about how cool it is when we see us in them. For instance, Aidan is just like me when it comes to math, and Ian is just like Darren. You see, Aidan and I are happy with a close guesstimation, but Darren and Ian see a problem through to its completion - usually faster than Aidan and I can guesstimate!

Aidan is also like me in that he's not ashamed to do whatever it takes to get a laugh. One of the girls in his class appreciates it, too. "Izy talks about Aidan a lot, so when I got to help with field day I really wanted to meet him," wrote Izy's mom in an email. "She thinks he's funny and Izy's all about funny!" That boy IS funny. He cracks me up on a daily basis!

Ian is more like Darren - he's shy until he knows you well. He's content to sit back and watch the action rather than be a part of it. He notices things and has very good intuition about people and possibilities. He's a thinker, not a reactor.

Aidan loves to entertain. When we're having company and the boys are being made to clean their room, Aidan is more interested in "decorating" it than cleaning it up. If girls are coming, he tries to decorate it "girly", setting up the stuffed animals in a welcoming way on the beds. If boys are coming, he mans it up with lego creations and train tracks. I'm that way, too. When company's coming, I'm more likely to decide now is the perfect time to update all the photos in the picture frames than to make sure there are fresh towels in the bathroom.

But there's one very big detail about our personalities that Ian and I share, and that Aidan shares with Darren. Ian and I are night owls, and Darren and Aidan are not. Two nights ago, at 11:00, Ian and I pulled all the ingredients out of the pantry and spent the next hour making Christmas Kisses. Today, the boys delivered them to some of our favorite friends in the neighborhood. We're making more tomorrow to share with our company tomorrow night. Hopefully Darren and Ian will clean while Aidan and I put finishing touches on the packages! :)

(Yes, Dani's still part of the family, but we haven't seen her in a while. Word on the street is that she's hobnobbing about with theater people and making movies about the French Revolution. I'll let you know more when I know more.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

leading up to Christmas

On Tuesday, I worked at the office from 8:30 am until 9:30 pm, with barely even a break for lunch. Got a LOT done, which felt good.

On Wednesday, I caught up on sleep and stayed in bed until a naughty hour, then made three 6'x3' banners for the Madrigal Feast Dani's choir was putting on.

On Thursday, I started the day with physical therapy (my therapist prescribed another 3 sessions and a re-evaluation, which she'll do tomorrow), then I went in to the office for 4 hours, then crammed in some errands before arriving at the performance hall, where Darren and I slaved away in the kitchen, preparing and plating food for the wenches and serfs to deliver to the royal court and their guests.

On Friday, I made a last minute decision to send Christmas cards this year after all, created 50 of them (after paring my list way down), and got them ready to mail. Then Darren, the boys, Darren's mom, our friends Tina and Wendell, their son Connor, and Tina's mom and sister all went to The Madrigal Feast together. This time, Darren and I got to be royal guests instead of kitchen grunts. The Madrigals put on a FABULOUS show - so entertaining and fun to be a part of.

The thing I loved most was how they entered the hall through the audience as they sang, allowing us to hear each choir member's voice individually as they went. The Madrigals are a 25-voice choir, and each one of them are incredibly talented - not a so-so voice in the bunch! It amazed me that they could be so far apart, in motion, with audience chatter going on around them, and they STILL sayed on key and together through the songs. I'm so glad that Dani gets to be a part of such an awesome group during her last year of high school!

On Saturday, I shopped. Up to that point, I'd only bought two gifts, but with a strict list in hand, I conquered most of Tarrant County's main shopping districts in under 6 hours, and crossed all but three small items off my list. I crossed two more off today and only have one more gift to buy. YAY! I've even wrapped most of them. Go me! (My foot hurts. A lot.)

Today, I decorated and prepared for the Fortress YDC Christmas Party. The Sunday School class that I teach was performing at the party; my 1st and 2nd graders - all boys - performed a skit about the shepherds who followed the star and found Baby Jesus just as the angel said they would. The boys wrote their own lines several weeks ago and have been practicing at home and on Sundays during class. They did such a fantastic job! I was so proud of each one of them today. Their audience was an overflowing, standing-room only crowd of 120 or so kids and adults, but they weren't nervous at all.

Tonight, the five of us hopped in the car and drove around to all of our favorite Fort Worth neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights. We made a game of finding "the worst lights we've ever seen", an honor which went to a certain house not far from home, and we oohed and aahed over the lights on the huge oak at Park Hill, the Lowden house near Rivercrest, and the backyard docks on Luther Lake.

And now I sit here, planning another week that's sure to be as busy and fun as this past one has been. I promise to blog as I go, though. I PROMISE.

Monday, December 15, 2008

tennis elbow and dodging shoes

If any of you have played Wii Fit enough to be busted upside the head with a flying soccer cleat or three, then you were mightily impressed with W's dodgeball prowess this week. That's all I'm saying. (Ignore the cleat marks on my forehead.)

Speaking of Wii, I've gotten hooked on tennis. Darren and I play here in the family room after the kids go to bed, and tell me this isn't weird: when you play Wii Tennis, you don't have to actually move your body. All you have to do is move the remote. That's not the weird part, though. What's weird is that I cannot play worth a patoot unless I move about as if on the court. I position myself for either a backhand or a forehand shot, serve overhand, and even grunt ala Serena Williams when necessary. When I stand there and just move my remote - which works for some people whose names begin with AIDAN - I miss the dern ball everytime.

What's been happening is wonderful: I'm getting an actual aerobic workout bee-bopping all around the room, AND for once in my life, I'm able to play more than 1 volley of tennis before falling dead on the cement.

My favorite tennis memory: busting my little brother in the eyebrow and thinking I'd knocked his eyeball out when blood starting spurting all over the court. It was ALL HIS FAULT! If he'd have stayed on his own side of the court instead of being such a BOY and hogging MY SIDE too, my backhand would've never found its way to his face. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Is it possible to get tennis elbow standing in my family room? Methinks yes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Calm Christmas

"When you have time, I'd love for you to go in and read the story Aidan wrote today. We wrote about our favorite Christmas memories. His is precious."

As it happened, I had time at that very moment, so on his teacher's suggestion, I walked inside the school and looked for the Santa paper with Aidan's name on it, expecting to read about a new bike or the year the kids got a Wii, or the year we went to Holiday in the Park at Six Flags.
"On my fifth Christmas, it was calm," I read aloud. "We talked about Jesus
christ and how he effected our Lives. We got no presents that year. I did
not care about presents. I care about my family. Oh, how I Loved that
christmas. it was so peaceful. Dear god. Thank you for are food and famLy,
thank you for everything. in Jesus name amen."

I glanced over at Aidan, who was smiling sweetly, clearly proud of his effort. I thought for a moment about what to say.

Finally I said, "So, Aidan. I don't remember this Christmas."

"That's because I made it up!" he exclaimed, breaking into a huge grin. "I couldn't remember any Christmas memories, so I just made one up!"

I congratulated him on his wonderful story and told him I thought it was beautiful. Then I called Darren from right there in the hallway, trying not to laugh out loud.

"Hey, listen to this story Aidan wrote and see if it rings a bell to you. It's his favorite Christmas memory, but I'm having a hard time remembering it myself. "

We had a good laugh, talked about how sweet the whole thing was, and then wondered if getting no presents THIS year would go over well.

Then I searched out Mrs. Bradshaw; I wanted to make sure she knew the story wasn't entirely accurate before she nominated us for KLTY's Christmas Wish or something. I can hear it now... Frank Reed sniveling and weeping, "Today's Christmas Wish comes from a second grade teacher, Mrs. Bradshaw, in Fort Worth. 'Dear Christmas Wish, I'm nominating the beautiful Kocur family because their poor children don't get gifts (sniffle snarvel chokechokechoke) on Christmas Day, but they're so precious they don't care. They went all semester without a haircut and looked like ragamuffins until someone finally took them to SuperCuts over Thanksgiving. (hey, gimme a break. I had a broken foot.) Sometimes they don't wear socks. (That's Aidan's preference, thank you very much.) They have to eat peanut butter every single day for lunch. (I try to make them branch out, but hey - they're peanut butter connoisseurs.) I want them to know the joy of opening a gift, for once in their sweet (snarf, stammer, sniff) lives."

"I found Aidan's story," I said when we found the teacher, "but he neglected to tell you that it wasn't a real memory."

"What!" she gasped, turning her attention to Aidan. "You MADE THAT UP?!"

I thought he was about to get reamed.

"I can't believe you made that up. Aidan! Have you ever thought about being a writer?"

He looked at the floor and barely shook his head.

"If you can write something that good sitting in class without even thinking about it, you should definitely think about being a writer when you grow up."

Then she looked at me and said, "It was such a sweet story."

I think she was disappointed that it wasn't true.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stacy's Christmas Playlist

Darren and I began building our Christmas music collection the first year we were married. For many years, we bought one Christmas CD each season, and we got to take turns picking out the year's album. On my years, we acquired stuff like "The Coolest Christmas", "A Very Special Christmas", and "Christmas with the Stars". I like compilations. When it was Darren's year to pick, we added the likes of Aaron Neville, "Celtic Christmas" and "Christmas with the Judds". One year, a friend gave us Celine Dion's Christmas album, and I threw up in my mouth a little. That is, until I heard "The Prayer", her duet with Andrea Bocelli. That song instantly became one of my lifetime favorites. I doubt I'll ever tire of it, partly because it reminds me of Aidan as a tiny baby. I'd play it over and over, singing in English and a sad excuse for Italian while he snuggled in my arms.

These days, we just cruise iTunes in search of a CD's worth of tunes. This year, I discovered an artist named Ali Matthews and became mesmerized by her silky smooth voice - it's so pure and melodic. Check her out! Her Christmas album is called "Looking for Christmas". I also discovered MercyMe's new Christmas album, "The Christmas Sessions". I went to high school with Bart Millard, the lead singer, but he was a lowly freshman and I was a snobby senior, so I never even knew him. I regret that every time I hear his warm, gravely voice on the radio.

A few years ago, I uploaded all of our versions of "O Holy Night" to iTunes and burned a CD for Darren. It's his favorite song, and I thought it would be really cool for him to have a CD of all its different variatios. I never did figure out if he thought it was cool or not.

This past weekend, I took a wise friends's sage advice (okay, it was Darren) and set aside an hour after the kids went to bed to slow down and just be. With no projects on my schedule (not that there weren't projects to be done - I just wasn't allowed to DO them!), I discovered time to do something I've wanted to do for a long time: I uploaded all of our Christmas CDs. Then I carefully and painstakingly chose a 25-song playlist of the tunes I can't live without each year.

  1. O Holy Night by John Berry
  2. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
  3. The Prayer by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli
  4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen
  5. Ave Maria by Andrea Bocelli
  6. What Sweeter Music by The Cambridge Singers
  7. Still, Still, Still by The Cambridge Singers
  8. Have A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
  9. O Holy Night by Point of Grace
  10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by The Smithereens
  11. The Friendly Beasts by Garth Brooks
  12. The Christmas Song by Aaron Neville
  13. Winter Wonderland by Aretha Franklin
  14. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by MercyMe
  15. Christmastime is Here from A Charlie Brown Christmas
  16. Sweet Little Jesus Boy - Natalie Cole
  17. In the Bleak Midwinter - Ali Matthews
  18. One Small Child - Ali Matthews
  19. O Come O Come Emmanuel/What Child is This - Ali Matthews
  20. Baby It's Cold Outside - Louis Armstrong
  21. We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Relient K
  22. Hallelujah Chorus - A Soulful Celebration
  23. I Saw Three Ships - Sting
  24. Angels We Have Heard on High - Point of Grace
  25. The Wexbury Carol - Yo-Yo Ma with Allison Kraus

It's a mix of old and new, tried and true. Still and solemn, rocking and energetic. I love it all, and I love it all mixed up. Music - it's one of my favorite things about Christmas.


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balancing act

It's not anything that 1000s of other Moms don't do every week, but this working gig is kicking my tail. When it comes to maintaining any sort of "normal" around here, well, I'm not. Right now, I'm struggling to catch up on scrapbook jobs, decorate and shop for Christmas, celebrate both boys' birthdays, rehab my foot, catch up on all the little household things that got neglected when I was broken... and finding the new normal will just have to wait until the holidays are over.

I do love working again, though. And I've managed not to show up at the office in my pajama pants even ONCE! ;)