Once again referring to the list I created when I decided to stop blathering on about the complexities of my life, I'm back to write about one of the topics -- the speed at which my nieces and nephews are growing up.
I'm one of those people who scratches her head wondering how it's possible to be this close to 40 years of age, when I honestly -- genuinely -- don't feel a day over 23. I still listen to brand-spanking-new alternative and indie music. I just bought a car that is not only desirable to teenagers and college students, but is actually marketed to them (and I tricked it out with a $1200 stereo, including a kick-ass subwoofer). I like change. In fact, I not only embrace change, I create it on a regular basis.
Sure, there are hints that I'm not so young any more. Silver hairs ('grey' is such a dull word), creaky bones (rheumatoid arthritis caused by chronic EBV), seven moves in three states (Maine, Washington, and Connecticut), a few newly acquired food intolerances (what could possibly be wrong with eating blueberries?). But I don't feel like a full-fledged grown-up. Maybe it's because I'm not a mother.
That's a story for another day.
So, my nieces and nephews (nine of them, ranging in age from almost-8 to just-turned-19) have been a central part of my life since the first one, Andrew, was born in 1986. They are a big part of the reason I moved back to New England after my 8½ year stint in Seattle (and one of the very few things that could convince me to leave a place I love as much as I love Seattle). I adore them. And if any of them are reading this, don't get a big head about it, you! ;-)
Christmas shopping is a year-long process for me. If I see something that one of the kids will like (in addition to my nine, there are five other kids we buy for), I pick it up and put it into a big plastic container for safe-keeping. The first container is usually full by about June: this year, it was January (my Hawaii trip netted many gifts). By August, Costco (a treasure to any Christmas shopper) begins carrying great gift-type items, and the real shopping begins. As of today, we have five 40-quart storage containers brimming with presents, with a few too-large items stacked on top. Each year, I create an Excel workbook with four pages (family and friends, kids' stockings, work, and pets) to track spending and understand what's left to be bought. I know. It's a sickness.
So, how does all this relate to my nieces' and nephews' race toward adulthood? There are so many great little kid toys that I love, but very few of my kids are little enough to enjoy these types of toys anymore. Thankfully, the three youngest of my non-related kid friends are 5, 4, and 1, so I can still indulge in Playskool and Lego. But for my own rapidly-maturing kid kin, primary colored plastic and gigantic soft fuzzy are out.
Still. There's some great stuff in the containers this year. The content for the stockings is definitely the best yet (although last year's unique Australian contents [coins and candies] were pretty cool). The reality is that gifts for a teenager can be just as innovative and fun as those for toddler.
OK, enough on this topic. Will I continue to reference this list? I veered off course for a bit to address serious topics like hurricanes and frustrating ones like my sucky-ass emachines computer. Perhaps, I can actually pull myself back on track. Or maybe it's just dumb luck.
Real post time 1:47am. And despite the late hour, there is a party going on next door with very loud mariachi music and a crowd of people singing very loudly (and off-key) to it.