Stocking Stuffers

As I was strolling through the house earlier this week with a smug smile on my face, congratulating myself on finishing all of my Christmas duties, I noticed something was different at our mantle (besides the fact that Sarah had once again re-organized the stockings based on her personal Naughty/Nice List for that day….usually Chris and I are in reversed positions so I’m curious to know what triggered this change in my status and what offense Chris committed to be demoted below the dog):

The five large stockings are for Chris, me, Sarah, Katie, and our dog Ellie. But what do I spy? Another smaller sock! Closer investigation revealed this:


Who is Star, you ask? Well, let me introduce you to this member of the family whom I have yet to mention in any of my blogs. Everyone, meet Star.


Yes, Star is Sarah’s Betta fish. Sarah has taken it upon herself, bless her little heart, to make sure that every family member is equally represented for Santa’s consideration this year. What I wanted to do was take Sarah aside and explain to her that Santa is a very busy person with limited child care and does not do well with last minute additions, exceptions, and alterations and that such changes might drive him to secretly binge on huge quantities of Christmas cookies in the dark hours of the night and maybe take out his frustration on his unsuspecting spouse who has no inkling how stressful the holidays can be and who only has to buy for one person on an ever growing list of family members, friends, babysitters, teachers, cleaning ladies, bus drivers, and other “support” staff. Instead, I found myself at the local PetCo one afternoon, navigating treacherous roads and icy parking lots to buy Star some new sparkly turquoise gravel and a neon orange plant to spruce up the joint. After all, every one deserves a little holiday cheer…no matter how small.


A Christmas Miracle

I noticed that the house seemed eerily quiet.  Katie had announced about ten minutes before that she wanted to play by herself in her room…a smallish miracle of sorts since she is usually never more than 2 feet away from me during the day.  With this unexpected reprieve from my normal servant chores, I took the opportunity to stuff our Christmas cards.  Another five minutes passed with no sounds.  Then another.  Finally, I couldn’t stand it a minute longer and had to investigate.  And this what I found:


Katie napping!  It’s the first time she’s done so in months.  I debated whether I should wake her up; she was Pull-Up less and I’ve had my quota of laundry for this week.  I decided to risk it though and I snuck out of the room to continue to work on our cards.  Then, the snow started falling.  So beautiful.  So peaceful.  So quiet.  So not like my normal day.   And for the bow on this perfect gift- we have a sitter tonight so I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to put an overly rested 2 year old to bed!  Miracles do happen everyday. Hope y’all are experiencing your own holiday magic during this season.

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

In case you missed it last night, Jimmy Fallon and the Roots performed with Mariah Carey on perhaps my all time favorite Christmas song (Contemporary Non-Religious Category), “All I Want For Christmas is You” which is featured in perhaps one of my all time favorite movies (Christmas/Romantic Comedy/Feel Good Categories), “Love Actually.”  If this doesn’t put a smile on your face this morning, I don’t know what will.  Not sure how they could have made it any better…maybe more cowbell?

Becoming Normal

When we first had Sarah almost 7 years ago, I remember thinking that I’d never be a “normal” person again.  In that winter of 2006, “normal” to me meant a person who didn’t have a leech-like being attached to their breast 24 hours a day.  It meant that I wouldn’t need a 3-page flow chart of procedures and decision trees if I wanted to schedule a dentist appointment or a haircut.  It meant that I wouldn’t have to plan my day in 2.5 hour increments based on the napping and feeding habits of my young one.  Deep in the trenches of new mommy-hood, I couldn’t see beyond what I was experiencing in those first few weeks.  I imagined myself toothless, with gray wiry hair down to my ankles, hobbling along with an 18-year old Sarah suckling my desiccated bosom.

Fortunately, these fears did not come to pass.  Sarah did eventually detach herself from my mammary glands and I found that with time, I only need a 1/2 page flowchart to schedule my routine maintenance appointments.  I never became the completely “normal” person that I had been prior to Sarah’s birth though.  How could I be?  I had acquired an almost Rain Man-like knowledge of all public restrooms within a 200 foot radius of whatever my location.  I ravenously devoured the discarded scraps from Sarah’s meals for my own lunch like a homeless person rummaging through a dumpster of unwanted food.  By the time Sarah was 3, I experienced glimmers of normalcy: driving in the car by myself, enjoying a multi-course meal with her in a public setting, not automatically developing an exit strategy everywhere we went.  Then I got pregnant and we had Katie.  Katie was born shortly before Sarah turned 4 and I started all over again with the constant feedings, the barrage of diapers, the torture of sleep training.  Normalcy eluded my grasp once again.

Katie is now almost 3.  And readers, last week, something EPIC happened.  I flew home to Texas with the girls by myself the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Chris planned to join us later in the week and then, all four of us would fly home together after the holiday.  The last time I flew with the girls by myself,  Sarah was 5 and Katie was 14 months old.  That disaster of a flight ended with passengers around me talking in not-so-hushed tones about what a train wreck the three of us were.  I swore never to fly with them by myself again but Thanksgiving 2012 found me once again, strapped in at 36,000 feet with my girls and no viable exits in sight.

I was prepared to go to any lengths to keep my children from being THOSE kids…you know, the ones everyone wishes they could shoot with a tranquilizer gun.  I would have performed a one woman rendition of Riverdance on the seat tray if that’s what it took.  My tote bag was full of snacks, treats, books, electronics, paper, pens, crayons, and wipes.  With adrenaline coursing through my veins, my whole body was rigid with anticipation.  I was on DEFCON 1 alert, ready to spring into action should my children let out the slightest whimper of hunger, thirst, frustration, or boredom.

And do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing.  Katie did not freak out when all electronic devices had to be stowed away until we reached a minimum altitude of 10,000 feet.  No one spilled their drinks.  No one raised their voices.  No one pooped in their pants.  No one regurgitated their snacks.  No one used the seat in front of them as a proxy for a soccer ball.  Instead, they both tuned me out, plugged into their various “i” devices and there I was, with only a SkyMall catalog to entertain me.  Because even though I had prepared for all eventualities involving my children, I had not prepared for this: me with nothing to do.  In fact, I found myself…dare I even say it, bored.  And about an hour into the flight, it happened.  I fell asleep.  That’s right.  ASLEEP! In mid air! With children! By myself!  LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!!!  I know I just used a lot of exclamation points but really, I think this occasion is multiple exclamation points worthy.(!!!)

My brief nap lasted all of 10 minutes but what a significant 10 minutes they were.  We landed in Dallas on time, without incident, and I was a different woman than the one who had boarded the plane in Minneapolis.  I was 10 minutes closer to arriving at the Land of Normal.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the ones you love most!

All I Want for Christmas

Like most major retailers across our nation, Sarah has chosen to completely ignore Thanksgiving and has moved right on to Christmas.  While cleaning her room last week, I found this piece of correspondence sitting neatly on her desk:

Brushing aside all issues of privacy and discretion, I opened up the envelope without hesitation to see what Sarah had to say to good ole St Nick.

This is a dramatic departure from last year’s list when Sarah had at least 10 items from which to choose.  This year, she’s putting all her chips on the table and is asking for one thing…a phone.  I should at least be grateful that she didn’t put an “i” in front of it but I doubt she’s imagining opening up a rotary phone on Christmas morning.  And then, as an alternative, if Santa cannot cough up said phone, she writes, “You pick.”  So simple yet so diabolical.  I can imagine her sitting at her desk, tenting her fingers and whispering, “Excellent,”  à la Mr. Burns as she crafts this note.  She is basically testing the guy by saying, “Santa, you with all your magical skills and wisdom choose the one other item that would bring my little heart joy, fulfillment, and happiness.  Let’s see you work for this year’s cookies, buddy.”   Chris and I are going to need some serious strategizing this year.