Friday, December 25, 2009

Waiting for Santa

When I was three I wandered out of my bedroom on Christmas Eve and discovered my mom putting presents under the tree and stuffing my stocking and just like that, the illusion of a jolly old man in a red suit delivering toys to all the children of the world was destroyed.

Somewhere between junior prom and my bachelor's degree the trend reversed; I became a believer.

Most people abide by 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things." Apparently I am not most people. The older I got, the stronger my belief grew in not only the magic of Christmas, but in the Big Man himself.

I often hear people say they don't watch the news any more because it's too depressing. They feel like the world around them is overrun with wars, poverty, economic downturns, gang violence, and celebrities and politicians who either can't remember or don't care who they're married to.

But when the Christmas trees go up and the lights come on, something amazing happens. Across the country bells ring and people throw their spare change into red kettles. Marines decked out in their dress uniform stand on street corners alongside their moms, dads, brothers and sisters to collect toys for needy children in their communities. Regular people and local businesses partner with radio stations donating time and money to grant wishes as simple as new coats for their children or as elaborate as a new van to transport a disabled child.

Churches, shelters, and soup kitchens feed hundreds of thousands of families who wouldn't otherwise get a meal. Charities buy presents for children whose parents are in prison, helping those children find some sense of normality during the holidays.

I have even been told there is sometimes a break during battle on Christmas day.

We become a little more like the people we wish we were.

I know it won't last. It never does. Once the decorations go back in the attic and we polish off the last of the pie, things will go back to normal. That's why I believe it is Christmas that brings the magic. And although he may not arrive on a reindeer pulled sleigh, there is just no denying that the spirit of Santa comes alive every holiday season.

Look around and I think you, too, will become a believer.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Waiting for Sound Theology

In the midst of this holy season I thought I would share with you some theology from a person whom I am quickly learning may be one of the great spiritual minds of our time; my five year old daughter.

The following are excerpts from conversations that have taken place between me and my daughter over the past year.


Me: Possum went up to heaven to live with grandma.
AK: Why?
Me: Because Possum was very old and grandma wanted to have a cat up there with her.
AK: Oh. Does God have a place for all the animals to sleep in heaven?
Me: Yes, I think he does.
AK: Who's going to die next? You or daddy?
Me: *pause* Well, only God knows that, but I don't think either one of us will die for a long time.
AK: Okay. Does God feed the pets in heaven?
Me: I'm not sure.
AK: Well, if God doesn't feed them, who does?
Me: I don't know. I'm sure somebody feeds them, or maybe God does.
AK: How tall is God?
Me: How tall do you think He is?
AK: About as tall as daddy.


Me: And on the seventh day God rested.
AK: So He could let Jesus do all the work?


This conversation was with my dad, a pastor of 40 years.
AK: Someday my mommy is going to die and go to heaven.
Pops: Yes, she is.
AK: And Pops, you are going to die and go to heaven.
Pops: Yes, I am.
AK: And I am going to die and go to heaven, and Nana is going to die and go to heaven, and my daddy can ride a bicycle standing up.


Me: What did you learn in church today?
AK: God lives in heaven. And sometimes Oklahoma.


Me: Jesus was born just like you and your brother.

AK: He has a mom?
Me: Yes.
AK: But He is God's son?
Me: Yes.
AK: Well that doesn't even make sense.
Me: I know it's a little confusing. Jesus is God and He is also a person, just like us.
AK: I mean. How did he . . How was he even . . . How did he . . . How was he even born there.... without a nursery?


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Waiting in Time Out

My child hits.

There. I said it. I feel like it should be cathartic. Like saying, "My name is Kristen and I'm an alcoholic."

Mostly I just feel like I have a child who hits and have developed a deeper understanding how stay at home moms become alcoholics.

My child hits indiscriminately. He enjoys the sound it makes, I think. He starts by hitting his plastic screwdriver off of the plastic toolbox it came with, and that is okay, I think. So I let him do it. He has the most fantastic laugh and the noise he discovered hitting the screwdriver and the box makes him laugh, not quietly, but a big belly laugh. Perhaps I should stop him, but I enjoy the laugh and it makes me laugh too.

He is twenty months and full of life and rolls of chub. He was born five weeks early and barely five pounds, so watching him now, full of chub, life, and laughter brings me great joy, even if he is now hitting a plastic hammer off of a tambourine. I reason that this is a musical instrument, so I allow the concert to continue, thinking that he could be a Blue Man in training.

He then moves with the plastic hammer to the coffee table, which is where I draw the line. Not because our coffee table is particularly nice. It is what designers call distressed, and I think to get it that way, I probably banged it with an actual hammer, but it is the principal of the thing. My child is clearly disappointed, as the noise from the table was much better than either the tambourine or the box provided.

He is not deterred. He finds a ladle in a kitchen cabinet it attempts to see how it would sound beating against the head of our nine year old beagle. Luckily for the beagle, I stop the experiment before he can find out.

His favorite target, however, is his sister. If there is something in his hand, or in his reach, be it soft, hard, long or short, he feels compelled to hit her with it. Sometimes out of anger, sometimes out of curiosity. Sometimes, I believe, just because it is in his hand and she is in his reach.

I have said the words, "No hitting," "Use nice hands," and "We don't hit," so much that he may think they are actually rooms in our house at this point. In fact, as he is raising his hand (or whatever object he has in it) to hit whatever it is he is about to hit, he will look at me and say, "No?" and then proceed to swing away.

He spends a good deal of his day in time out and I spend a good deal of my day trying not to console myself with the stale Halloween candy hidden on the top shelf of the pantry. Our pediatrician suggested that he is simply exploring his surroundings and doesn't understand that hitting people causes physical pain. Meanwhile, I'm trying graduate my daughter from kindergarten without brain damage.

Advice in the mommy world varies from; stick to time outs (don't repay hitting with hitting) to hit him back (he'll never understand it hurts unless you show him).

If any of you have been there and done that, all of us here in the Escovedo Casa would be greatly appreciative of any advice you could give us, especially our daughter and our dog!

How have you successfully disciplined a toddler who hits?
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Waiting for December; How NaNoWriMo Stole My Life

To my faithful Waiting Room readers, first let me thank you. Second, let me apologize for my vast lack of posts in the last month. It seems my life, or at least my writing life, was sucked dry by NaNoWriMo.

Like many of you, I had never heard of National Novel Writing Month, lovingly dubbed NaNoWriMo, until one of my writer tweeps mentioned it on Twitter on October 29. A quick Google search landed me on the non-profit's home page
where I learned that;
"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30."
"How fun would that be?" I said to my husband, who was sitting next to me on the couch, Googling his own November project. Since leaving my job in August due to health concerns, I felt that God was calling me to write and this seemed like the perfect way to give my writing chops a work-out. Fifty thousand words, thirty days; no problem.

Well, maybe there was one slight problem. I had no idea what in the heck to write about. ButI had two whole days to think about it before the clock started ticking. I mean, come on. I was a woman with no full time job for the first time in my life. What else did I have to do?

Turns out that October 30 and 31 are pretty well occupied with all things Halloween in a house with two small children, one of whom is in kindergarten and had her first big elementary school event, for which her costume had to be made using things we had at our house (hello duct tape!).

November 1; The writing begins. Not only do I have no plot, I have no ideas for a main character, a setting, or even a ge
nre of book. I call upon my Facebook friends for help.

Kristen Walker Escovedo Just signed up for the National Novel Writing Month ( Writing a 50k word novel by midnight November 30. Now I just need a plot, some characters, & a setting. Luckily the goal is not for it to be good, just to finish! Kind of like if I was running a marathon, only in this case, I probably won't be lying on the ground crying at the end.


Brad Fitzpatrick
Plot; a young man in search of the etch-a-sketch his papa bought him, and some kid stole. Characters are Blake, Zeus (a dog), Nurple, and Brianne. The setting is Cleveland, OH in 1983.
November 2 at 12:29am

Elizabeth Lopez Hatley
Cheerleaders.....need I say more?
November 2 at 5:47am ·

Greg Leetz
You can write my Autobiography.... Beer, Girls, and...... OK. Maybe you need to find someone else.
November 2 at 10:58am

Let's say Facebook was a bust. So, November 2 came and went and I was still without a plot, characters, setting, or genre, but I decided I should probably start writing. And I did. I wrote nearly 9,000 words (about a week's worth) before a story developed.

By that time I realized that my characterization of "How fun would that be?" was not entirely accurate. While some sessions were fun, others felt like the days your mom forced you to sit down and write thank you notes for ugly hand made sweaters your aunts from West Virginia sent you for your birthday while your friends were all riding their bikes outside on a perfect 74 degree sunny day.

A week's bout with bronchitis put me almost 8,000 words behind and a weekend visit from my dad and another from my best friend tempted me to get even farther off track Can't you see them now? All of your friends running through the sprinkler, eating red Popsicles and rolling down grassy hills while you are forced to read the entire dictionary? And not the small paperback copy. That big hardback copy that your mom uses for a step stool to reach the pitcher she keeps on top of the fridge at Thanksgiving. Hello my life in November.

Many late night into early morning hour writing sessions helped me stay in the hunt for the coveted PDF certificate printout that goes to "winners" if they finish by midnight on November 30th. But something else happened along the way. I actually started to like my book. My characters started to take shape and every day they surprised me. I never went into a writing session with a preconceived notion of what I was going to write about that day (which is pretty easy when you have no plot lined out), and I just let my characters live for a thousand words or two (depending on how long my 18 month old napped that day or how long I could keep my eyes pried open before I started accidentally writing my children's names into the book).

And on those days, it was fun again.

On November 29, after a seven hour marathon writing session, I typed my 50,202nd word and ended my first novel.

For now.

It is not in readable format, even for my husband, who keeps asking me when I'm going to take it to Kinkos and print it out so he can see what was so important that he and the kids had to eat PB & J for a month. I can't imagine how many comma splices, typos, and sentence fragments it contains. I haven't even read the whole thing from start to finish. During the last night of writing I realized I had inadvertently changed a character's name halfway through. Whoops! But I finished and I'm proud. And to any of my writer friends who gave up their November for

calendar,December 2009Image by hichako via Flickr

NaNoWriMo, I'm proud of you too, win, loose, or draw. Keep that book as a badge of honor, because contrary to popular belief, sometimes, we do need stinkin' badges.

Someday, after Santa makes his way down the chimney, I will go back and fix the comma splices and make sure my kids don't make cameo appearances, and I'll develop this little novella into an actual book.

But for now, I'm ready for December.