Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Home For Christmas

No planes. No trains (except the toy train set for Keegan and Alden). No automobiles (Alden's matchboxes excluded). Yet we had family all around this Christmas, and what a fun thing that was. We had such a good time together that everybody actually agreed to pose for a photo (you have no idea of the magnitude of such an agreement where Baileys are concerned -- clearly everyone was in a festive mood).

For those who don't know my side of the family, here is the photo. From left to right: (back row) Me, Keegan, Kathleen, Dad, Alden, Mom, Kate, my niece Taylor, and Hani, who will be marrying my brother Ryan very shortly; (front row) brother Matson; his wife Jennifer; my nephew Jordan (both he and Taylor belong to Ryan); Ryan; Steve Marx and my sister Shalise, with their two boys, Liam and Sam. Oh, and Marley, the chocolate lab who belongs to my sister, except when he spills hot chocolate all over my dad, like he did today--then he belongs only to Steve.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Now Just Wait A Minute . . .

Alden would like to voice his strong opposition to my proposal for having little girls rule the world (see last blog entry). Turns out it can be pretty darn hard on us guys. My little man sure is beautiful though.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Little Girl's Christmas Wish

Today was exactly the type of day we moved home for. Yesterday and this morning we got pummeled with snow, and tonight was crystal clear and cold (16 degrees!) and white about everywhere you looked. The kids went sledding earlier in the day, and then we had Grandma and Grandpa Bailey over for dinner (Indian Food!). After dinner the kids, (including Keegan) danced energetically to "Linus and Lucy," that absolutely perfect jazz piano number from a Charlie Brown Christmas, after which we all read Christmas stories together.

Among the stories we read, my favorite was "A Christmas Dress for Ellen" by Thomas Monson (chokes me up every time). Kate focused on "Christmas in the Trenches" by James McCutcheon. It recounts a Christmas Eve early in World War I, when British troops, huddled in their frozen, wet trenches, hear a beautifully rendered Christmas carol, floating across no man's land, sung in German. When it stopped, they returned the favor, singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Towards the end of that song, a lone figure, waiving a white flag, is seen walking across no man's land from the other side. A British soldier leaps out of their trenches to meet him, and soon they are joined by several others from both sides. They exchange small gifts, play a soccer game, and sing Silent Night together. Then as the morning is about to break, they return to their trenches, and all continues as it was before.

It may seem like an unusual choice for Kate, but she remembered a story we had told her some time ago, about my Great Grandpa Ludlum, who had served in World War I and had been gassed with mustard gas while in those trenches. He survived the initial attack, but his lungs were so scarred and burned that he lived for only a year or two after the War, with the result that my Grandma Winnie was an only child.

Some time after dinner was over, and everyone else had gone home or gone to bed, I came upon Kate, reading the story again, tears welling up in her big brown eyes. I asked if she was O.K. and she replied that she was just thinking about Great, Great Grandpa Ludlum, and all those people in the trenches. She wished "that he hadn't had to die that way, and that people would just stop fighting wars and keep singing Christmas songs." She wanted to know if he was in heaven, and if she would ever be able to see him so that she could hug him. We hugged for a long time -- she is so special.

It made me think about what the world would be like if it was ruled by little girls. Everyone would have to have a tender heart. There would be no wars. You could always stay up as late as you want to listening to music and reading and talking to friends, and you'd get to sleep in too. Ice cream would be a health food. Everyone would be fashionably appointed. Barbie would always find Ken, they would always have true love (and many children), and they would always be together. Best of all, there would be lots of hugging to go around.

So my Christmas wish for all is a world ruled by little girls. May sound silly, but I think we would be in very good hands. Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Children and Church

Well, it has taken all of two weeks for the Baileys to become 'that family' no one wants to sit next to in Church. Yes, that is right. Serving as Bishop five months ago, we were (supposed to be) models for a whole ward to follow. Now, you can't get anyone to sit within three pews of us.

Let me preface this downfall by mentioning that Keegan, 1, and Alden, 3, are already in full-throttle sibling rivalry. Everything Alden does, Keegan wants to do. And of course, Alden does not want Keegan to do what he is doing, at any time, in any way--threatens his very identity, don't you know. Now imagine that nascent testosterone having to endure three hours of church from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with hour and ten minute long Sacrament meeting (our main, sit in the pews and listen to adults talk about the gospel meeting) last. This means, inescapably, that our Sacrament meeting pew is a bloody battle ground. By the time people start to give talks, Alden is dying hungry. Whatever he eats, Keegan dives after. Alden shoves back. Keegan bumps his head and screams. Dad gets mad at Alden. He cries loudly. You know the drill.

Well, we've managed to surpass even that regular ruckus lately. Two weeks ago, the Bishop and his counselors (the leaders of our local congregation), bless their sweet hearts, decided to talk for the whole meeting about Reverence. Yes, that lovely, sit still, be quiet, pay attention and prepare yourself to receive the message principle that is the bane of every parent. (Unknown if we are the root cause of the decision to address the issue. Speculation has run rampant, however.) Well, after spending half the meeting trying to wrestle the boys apart, I turned to Kathleen and mouthed 'get Keegan out of here.' She did. And no sooner had she walked out the doors to the foyer than Alden began to cry, in none too sotto voce, "I want my mommy!" Of course, he didn't really care about his mom. He cared that Keegan was with his mom, and he wasn't. But he wouldn't stop crying, so I had no choice but to usher him out, and leave his mother to wrestle them in the foyer, where they wouldn't disturb anyone. I came back in to sit with poor Kate, who had been left all alone in a big, long, empty row, with toys, cheerios and other detritus from the battle strewn all about.

All seemed well until just that moment when the Bishop was giving his most impassioned testimony about the importance of reverence. He had just built up to it when Alden came running through the foyer doors, straight to our row, and said, "Dad, Mom says it is time to go. Now." I'm not sure whether the Bishop heard it, but judging by the snickering laughter, almost everyone else did.

But did the embarrassment stop there? Oh no. Keegan had to top it the very next week. As usual, it was Sacrament meeting, and they were fighting over food. It got so intense that I told Kath, "I have to get Keegan out of here" (see, we learned something from the week before -- this time it was me taking Keegan). So I grabbed him under the arms, pulled him over so he was facing me, and was just on the verge of standing up to leave.

That is when he decided to vomit. Not just run of the mill spit up vomit. This was Projectile Style, complete with little chunks of food amidst the sour breast milk. And talk about volume--that boy must have hollow legs. Even his belly (which looks like his father's at this point) could not possibly hold such quantities of fluid. Kath tried desperately to block it with a clean diaper. I think she might have gotten a teaspoon or two. Mostly, I was the blessed recipient. It was on my shirt. It covered my tie. It absolutely coated my pants -- both front and back (I am not joking). It even pooled inside my shoe, which made for a nice squishy sound when I walked out-- amidst dead silence, and looks of "can you even believe that" horror/pity.

Keegan was no worse the wear five minutes later. I, however, have been scarred for life. I have now resolved to become one of the "Foyer People." You know, the ones that go to church but never actually step inside the chapel or the classroom. Just safely in the foyer, near the emergency exit. I think I'll be alright there. I think.