Category Archives: Holidays

Our Christmas List is Growing Up

I’ve been working on Christmas since last Christmas. No, I don’t put my tree up the day after Halloween, or even the day after Thanksgiving. I’m working on the gifts.

A couple years ago, we started doing our shopping the day after Christmas. It might make it sound like a drawn-out, stressful thing, but it has a lot of advantages. It lets us peruse through clearance sales, buying nicer items than we might normally be able to afford. If I want to do some handmade items (and I usually do), I actually have the time to enjoy making them. We also get to slow down and pick out gifts that are meaningful, instead of just, “Oh, crap. I don’t know what to get you. Here’s some lotion.”

I sat down this evening to look over our Christmas list and I realized something: My kids are growing up. The careful lists I keep (coded for what has yet to be bought, what has already been bought, and what has been wrapped) used to be full of dolls, blocks, and other random toys. My kids still have some toys on their lists, but they’re swiftly moving away from the primary-colored plastic Mega blocks and toward finely painted Schleich figurines. More and more gifts are electronics, or accessories for them. My oldest daughter (who is nine) has items on her lists like earrings, a knife, and new boots. Yep, she’s a replica of myself at that age, but it’s strange to see it happening to someone else.

I admit that in some ways it makes me yearn for their younger years. You know, when they didn’t talk back, argue about when they take their showers or what they watch on television, or bring home a surprising amount of drama from school. I can’t help but miss their more innocent days.

On the other hand, it is so awesome that they are finally a bit independent! They are absolutely brilliant (my six-year-old has a gargantuan vocabulary!), and I can have meaningful conversations with them. As far as the Christmas gifts go, it’s nice to know that if I buy them a $30 gift, it’s probably going to last them a few years instead of getting shoved under the bed and forgotten in six months. I think it is so awesome that my nine-year-old wants a pocket knife and is interested in going deer hunting.

As I watch my children and their Christmas lists evolve, it’s nice to reminisce about my tiny babies while I share deep thoughts with my about-to-be-big kids. I’ll go buy the boots that are almost big enough to fit me, and the chapter books that nobody wants to have read aloud to them. And I’ll enjoy it just as much as I always have.

My Christmas Wish List on an old typewriter

 

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November 19, 2015 · 9:22 pm

The Anti-Climax of Christmas

Even thought it’s a bit stressful, it’s fun to get ready for Christmas.  I enjoy putting up the tree and going through all those ornaments my kids have made over the years.  I love decorating the mantle with garland and my Christmas Snowbabies.  It’s fun to wrap presents as long as it isn’t on Christmas Eve.  Isn’t it great that they still run that same Hershey’s kisses commercial from 1989???

But then, it’s over.  Once we’ve visited every relative and stopped by every holiday party, once we’ve unwrapped all the gifts and pitched the crumpled paper into the trash can, all the holiday spirit is gone.  The tree is now just in the way, and the gifts are just something else I have to find a place for.  The miniature village looks more like a ghost town.  Christmas carols regress back to the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.  All of those Christmas cookies that seemed pretty innocent on the 23rd are now chock full of guilty calories.  People talk about getting depressed during the holidays, but most of it for me comes after the holidays.

Ah, well, time to move on to the next holiday.  A new year, and time to improve myself (at least for a month).  Time to make resolutions that I’m really going to keep this time (I really will get in shape this year.  Really.  Oh, look, cookies!)  And time to start worrying about what to give everyone for Christmas next year (I just can’t help myself!)

Mmmm....red velvet cookies!

Mmmm….red velvet cookies!

 

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Filed under Holidays, Uncategorized

If You’ve Ever Wondered Why I’m a Nervous Wreck…

Please note:  This was meant to be posted before Christmas.  I got pretty far behind with the kids bringing home stomach bugs, the passing of my dear Cutie Cupcake, and then of course preparing for Christmas.  It seems a bit less relevant now, but it would be a shame to waste it! 🙂

Wednesday, 6 a.m.  The dread sets in as soon as the alarm on my cell phone goes off.  It’s one of those ringtones that sounds pretty pleasant when you listen to it while you’re wide awake, but is horribly annoying when it actually wakes you up.  I usually wake myself up by thinking of all the things I need to do for the day.  It’s really not a good idea.  I know that I will need to walk two dogs (who can’t be walked simultaneously) and wake up three kids all pretty much at the same time.

As I pass by my son’s room, I see that there’s no light under his bedroom door.  No surprise.  His alarm is set to go off before mine does since he’s such a slow poke in the mornings, but as usual he has turned it off and gone back to sleep until I blaze into his room and roust him.  One of these days I’m going to get really mean and douse him with a bucket of water, but for the moment I’m still too nice.  One dog goes out, while the other whines that he wants his turn.  My eldest daughter is up and dressed, all on her own, but she’s whining (again) about how tired she is.  We are all tired, I tell her, but it never sinks in.  I start trying to wake up the youngest, who’s 5.  I can’t seem to get her trained to an alarm clock.  The hulking hunk of Hello Kitty colored plastic on the corner of her dresser can be blasting beeps that can be heard all over the house, but she will still be snoring peacefully.  I can come up to the side of her bed, however, and ask her quietly what she dreamed about, and she will be wide awake and chattering in a moment.

Her kindergarten class is making gingerbread houses this morning, and they asked for volunteers. When she presented the flyer to me last week and said, “Will you be there, Mommy?” well… How could I say no? It doesn’t matter that an elementary school is the worst nightmare of an antisocial germophobe; if big blue five-year-old eyes ask you to go, you go. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, even though one little boy insisted on eating ask if his decorations before they could make it onto his house, and one little girl insisted on licking each decoration.

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I realize when I get home that I had promised her a pretty dress to wear to her holiday recital tomorrow night, but I never went and bought one. I tear through the girls’ closet, feeling like the worst mother ever. I come up with a glitzy black number that her older sister wore three years ago, and hang it with shaking hands at the foot of her bed, simultaneously hoping it’s good enough and reminding myself that it must be good enough.

Oh, crap. We’re supposed to make treats for the Girl Scout holiday party.

I pause here for The Middle. This is the one pleasure I allow myself that I actually DON’T feel guilty for. Two reruns are aired back-to-back at lunchtime, and I bask in the glory of their dysfunction daily.

When the kids get home from school, the evening chaos begins.  Trying to orchestrate three children in their homework and their chores while also finding time to make dinner is simply not a calm process.  We try to squeeze in some down time on the couch somewhere among baths, packing backpacks for the next day, deciding who’s eating school lunch and who finds school spaghetti deplorable. Oh, yes, and baking cakes for Girl Scouts.

At some point I collapse into bed and fall asleep while visions of undone chores dance in my head.

Thursday, 6 a.m.

For the first part of the day, suffice it to say we can just repeat the first couple of paragraphs for Wednesday.

After a few cups of coffee, I’ve cranked out the rest of my paper.  I click save just in time for my husband to remind me we need to go to town and run some errands.  This pretty much means the rest of my day is shot, because by the time we get back home it will be almost time for the kids to get home.  Did you know that around 3:30 every vehicle that comes down our road sounds like a school bus?  True story.

Fortunately, there’s no homework today so we can get straight to icing the cakes we baked for Girl Scouts.  The girls each want to do it themselves, independent little things that they are, and I eventually let go of my OCD and just let them have at it.  Sure, you can put sprinkles on it.  Dump the whole darn container on there for all I care, as long as they’re done and I can shove them back in the fridge.

It’s time to get ready for Claire’s holiday concert.  I always make a much bigger deal out of these things than need be.  Always.  I get on my best sweater, actually bother with putting on makeup between shouting at the kids to stop fighting already, and try to explain to Violet why camouflage snow boots might not be the nicest attire for her little sister’s concert.  I get Claire into her sparkly black dress (which she was thrilled with…phew!) and the black tights I’d grabbed at Walmart when we ran errands.  Then I have to remind her incessantly that no, you simply cannot carry around our giant furball of a cat while you’re wearing black.  Several lint roller sessions later, we’re finally ready to go.

You know how on Black Friday you see lines of people waiting to get into stores?  That’s what our elementary school looks like at 6 p.m. the night of a concert.  The smart ones get their early to grab their seats so they don’t have to be standing at the back of the gym like they did last year.  We get a decent spot on the bleachers near the stage, but once the kindergarteners file onto the stage, I can just barely see my daughter over the top of a poorly placed microphone stand.  Next year we’re leaving 45 minutes early instead of 30.

Back at home, the kids undressed and coerced into bed, I fall asleep on the couch watching my favorite show and wake up with an undeniable craving for chocolate chip cookie dough.  After arguing with myself about it for awhile, I haul my pajama-clad self into the kitchen and start baking.  Fast forward half an hour and I’ve eaten enough cookie dough to satisfy my craving and make me feel incredibly guilty.  I leave the mixing bowl in the sink to soak overnight.  I’m ready to curl up in bed and read until I fall asleep with a book on my face.  It’s been a long day, just like all the other ones.  As I settle back into my  pillow, I realize my son doesn’t have any clean pants for school tomorrow.  Sigh.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Parenting, Uncategorized

National Dog Day – Porkchop and Leo

It’s National Dog Day, and since even I have to take an occasional break from Dragon Month, I’ve teamed up with the good folks at Dropcam to talk about what kind of PUPtectors I have.

PUPtectors

First up is Porkchop.  You’ve seen him here before.

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Porky is my fuzzy shadow.  When I’m working, he’s under my desk chair.  When I’m cooking, he squeezes himself between my feet and the stove.  You can always count on Porkchop to be in the middle of the action.

When you have dogs and daughters, a puggle with fairy wings is inevitable.

When you have dogs and daughters, a puggle with fairy wings is inevitable.

Porkchop’s PUPtector personality is the Barking Buzzer.  He will bark any time he has the opportunity.  There’s the obvious stuff, of course, like barking at the mailman or when someone knocks on the door.  But there’s also a bark for every car that goes down our road, a doorbell on TV, the evil yellow school bus that picks up the kids in the morning, or random noises from the mischievous cats.  Yesterday morning the garbage truck came by, and he actually barked with his mouth full.  Too cute.

My other sweet pooch is Leo.

Leo loves his girl!

Leo loves his girl!

He might not look like it from this picture, but Leo is definitely The Bouncer.  He barks at the normal things, like the mailman, and howls mournfully when he hears a siren, but otherwise he’s the strong and silent type.  Leo lets me know what he thinks of people, and I’ve always trusted his opinion.  If Leo doesn’t like you, I don’t like you.  At one point, I was staying in an iffy section of town, and Leo scared off a would-be intruder with his massive bark.  He might be getting up there in his years, and only have three legs, but I always feel safe if Leo is around.

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Happy National Dog Day!  Remember there are many dogs waiting in shelters for your love and attention, so don’t contribute to puppy mills.  Those of you here in Southern Illinois, be sure to visit P.A.W.S. for your next furbaby, and to check out Leo’s modeling debut.

This post inspired by:

Dropcam-logo-horz

 

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Filed under Animals, Holidays

Father’s Day

Since it’s Father’s Day, it seems only appropriate to dedicate this week’s post to (surprise!) my dad.  I’m one of those lucky people that has a pretty good relationship with her parents, but what my dad and I have always had together is nothing short of an adventure.

We’ve ridden down muddy hillsides during foxhunts, kayaked through swamps, gone mushroom hunting, and even built a barn or two.  He’s seen me go through high times and low, and often has added a bit of humor to both.

So, thanks Dad.  And Happy Father’s Day.

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The Kindness of Strangers

Mother’s Day, 2009.  I’m sitting in an out-of-town IHOP.  My only breakfast companions are my three-year-old and my very pregnant belly.  An elderly couple leaving the restaurant stops at my table and wishes me a Happy Mother’s Day, and they were just the first ones.  At least five random strangers took a couple seconds out of their day to give me a smile and some kind words.

None of them had any idea of the very rough times I was going through, but even without knowing they helped me through it.  So thank you and Happy Mother’s Day to all the strangers out there.

 

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Photo Credit, David Niblack, Imagebase.net.

 

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The Last Good Guy on Earth: The Extinction of a Great Species

According to several people I know (and no small amount of Facebook statuses), there are no good men left.  Not a single one.  I find this interesting, because I have a good guy.  So does that mean I got the very last one?  I cleaned out the proverbial Man Store?  Fished the last fish out of the sea?  I find that pretty hard to believe, but if social media says so than who am I to say otherwise?

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Photo courtesy of artur84, freedigitalphotos.net

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Filed under Holidays, Relationships