Tag Archives: Christmas

Take Five

6 Dec

In an effort to combat what my friend describes as “a case of early-onset crochety”, I am going to take 5. Five things that generally a)make me crazy b)stress me out c)lend themselves nicely to a rant and turn them into things I can be thankful for.

1. My kids. They are d)all of the above. Because of them I am broke, hungry, generally unshowered and sleep-deprived. But because of them I am also incredibly amusing. [Side note: Lil’ Sis just discovered the hide-things-behind-your-back-and-walk-sideways-so-Mommy-can’t-see-my-contraband trick. I wish you could see her.] And because of them I am also fulfilled, grateful and never, ever alone.

2. My car. It groans and creaks and is lacking two of its hubcaps, which of course, have to be special-ordered. But that baby got us to and from Kansas City last week, and can I just say how nice it is to have a whole row between us and our two Nosy Nancys? Wanna know why we take all these roadtrips? A full tank of gas and a portable dvd player are just about the only way we get to have an actual conversation.

3. My job. Because who really wants to work? I’ll tell you, it’s not me. I find work very inconvenient to my do-whatever-I-want schedule. But how in the world did I land a job that allows me to pretty much work when I can fit it in and where my bosses like Brother Bear (who generally tags along) more than they like me?

4. My personality. Let me just be honest. It is exhausting to be me. (Hence the sleeping on the bathroom floor routine.) The emotions I experience in an afternoon would last Mr. Dad a month. Or two. But I can be thankful for all this upheaval because I’d sure rather be unstable than bored. [Wish granted.]

5. My limitations. Gah. This is the one I’m finding most difficult to be thankful for. I want to do everything and do it to perfection. Unfortunately for me, I’m not that girl. I do lots of things, just not always well. But if I were perfect, none of you would read my blog. Because, admit it, you come here for stories of destruction and upheaval. I’m glad I can help. Consider my shortcomings a special Christmas gift to you–and one that never runs out.

What are you grrrr-ateful for today?

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Attitude of Grrrrr-attitude

3 Dec

Whine: Morning and I do not get along. We never have. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of waking me up can attest to that–I once hit a girl who tried to wake me up on a long road trip (So sorry, Carmen). And yet, thanks to the magic of parenting, I no longer need an alarm clock.

Cheese: Despite an early-morning wake-up call, I haven’t hit anyone. Today. (Poor, poor Mr. Dad.)

I hate waking up so much that my mother used to come in my room blowing a whistle and banging to pot lids together like cymbals. And after I finally stumbled into a darkened bathroom to take my shower, I’d lay a towel on the floor and catch a few more minutes of shut-eye before my mom figured out that the shower wasn’t actually running and came back with her homemade marching band.

And here I am, a mother myself now. But I definitely have the opposite problem. These kids don’t need clanging cymbals to rouse them in the morning. The fluttering of a moth’s wings two doors down is sufficient. And forget about trying to use the bathroom between the hours of 5 and 7 am (which happens frequently when you are up with little babies) unless you want really crabby company for the rest of the day.

But mornings aren’t all bad. The fact that Brother Bear woke me well before 7 is the only reason I have time to blog today. So even though I grunted and scowled my way through the first few paragraphs, I’m almost glad to be awake. (It’s still before 9am; let’s not push it.)

That’s what we’re working on these days. Replacing cranky, whiny, stinky attitudes with gratitude. And the kids are working on it, too. At first there’s definitely a little more emphasis on the grrrr. But as we keep flexing our thankfulness muscles, finding the good stuff gets a little bit easier every time.

The other day, I wanted to try out this handy new reframing habit. I could hear the sisters were bickering in the back of the car. I couldn’t completely make out the words, but the tone was enough to inform me of their malicious intent. So I interrupted them and told them to each say something nice about the other.

Big Sis looked over at her beloved sister and said, in all seriousness, “Lil’ Sis, I like the way you have snot running out of your nose.”

Sigh.

In a related story, Christmas is a total beatdown for parents. Not just because of the hustle and bustle and teetering around financial pandemonium. But because of the challenge of teaching our kids to be content with a house bursting with toys and games they mostly don’t play with, despite the fact that they desperately need a whole ‘nother house filled with MORE toys and games for them to use once then ignore.

Which leads to pretty continuous conversations about what everyone else has and how much and how we can never be happy because she has the super-deluxe-edition dolly and I only have the regular-deluxe-edition one. Isn’t life SOOO unfair? And right as I’m schooling my sweetie that the best cure for a raging case of envy is to find all the good stuff you already have, I catch myself drooling over the souped-up 2011 minivan with all of its hubcaps that is driving by.

So I guess I’m thankful that I have kids that force me to face the sad, five-year-old state of my heart so we can learn contentment together. Or should I say grrrateful?

 

*Come back Monday for Part 2 of this post. Two posts in a week? Now that’s something to be thankful for.

 

Big Time

3 Jan

Whine: I had a dream that I went to my OB appointment and had gained 10 pounds in a month. Based on the fact that all my pants are currently cutting off the circulation in my belly, I’d say that either my dryer likes playing cruel jokes or I’m a psychic.

Cheese: I’m starting out 2010 with a clean junk drawer. Which, by it’s very name suggests that having it cleaned out is a significant accomplishment. Based on that, and the fact that I took a 2-hour nap today, I think 2010 is shaping up to be a pretty good one.

New Year’s Day, 2010, I  awoke to a head butt. Followed quickly by the feeling of having a snotty little nose wiped on my pajama shirt.  Before I could counter, a pair of tiny little lips were blowing a gigantic, slobbery raspberry (or zerbert) on my exposed belly. You know, there are worse ways to start a new year.

Speaking of good starts, I’m sitting on my living room couch and there is not even a hint of Christmas left in this room, (unless you count all the sugar cookies and eggnogg I’m wearing around my middle). The decorations are packed and stowed. The oodles and oodles of new toys have somehow found hiding places. I’ve even mostly slept off three weeks of constant activity and sleep deprivation.

I mention all this not to make you wish to stab me with an ice pick, because that is my general reaction to people who are done with Christmas before February. No, I mention it because as far as my mommy memory can tell, it has never happened to me before. And, based on the fact that my personality has a lovely procrastination/overcomitting/sitting-around blend and I’m about to have another kid, it will probably never happen again. So I would like to mark this momentous occasion with a moment of silence. Or computer solitare. Or a giant rootbeer float. Or feet up on the couch watching Return of the King. Who am I kidding? I did all three tonight. (By the way, do you think when they cast the role of Aragorn(the king) they were specifically looking for someone who looks really good with greasy hair and a stubbly beard? Cause boy, they found their man, didn’t they?)

I like this feeling of not living in total chaos all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be a little bored without some chaos. Why do you think I keep having kids? But total chaos 24/7 wears on even a hype-junkie like me. So I’ve thought of a few new habits I’d like to try out for Janurary: like battling the dirty dishes on a daily basis instead of letting them set up their own colony in the sink; remembering to feed myself a breakfast not comprised entirely of Little Debbie snacks before I leave the house; doing laundry when the basket is full instead of when I have to choose to run to the store to buy more clean underwear or wash some clothes.

We will call these things “healthy life habits.” We will NOT call them resolutions. Because we all know that the quickest way to not do something, is to make it your New Year’s Resolution, right? In light of that fact, I do have a few New Year’s Resolutions to make. In 2010 I resolve to gain lots and lots of weight. To not sleep through the night at all. And to be a mean and crabby person. See? Now I’ve guaranteed that I will be skinny, well-rested and kind at least in 2010. I’m glad that’s taken care of, especially with that new baby coming and all.

So now I’m feeling pretty big time, you know. Doing things (er, I mean planning to do things) that most other people do without needing a round of applause (or rootbeers). But I can’t help it. I’ve got a lot going for me. Mostly that, after taking almost two years to completely potty train one child, the other one seems both (gasp) ready and (gasp, gasp) interested. I’m not claiming she’ll be potty trained in one day (it’s already been a week) or even a month, but at this point, anything’s better than two years.

And for Christmas, I received the sweetest present from Mr. Dad. He went out and found a tiny little sterling silver whine wine bottle for my charm bracelet. And not because I get tipsy every night. He tried really hard to find a tiny little cheese charm to go with it, but was unsuccessful. Isn’t that sweet? He not only tolerates my blogging habit and all it entails, he actually reads my posts and is sweet enough to make me feel like a real, live writer by buying little wine bottle charms for me, cause that’s what makes you a real writer, right?

And finally, I feel really, really BIG TIME because I now have my own website.  It looks exactly the same but can now be found at www.alittlewhineandcheese.com. So bookmark it, highlight it, frame it,  forward it, throw it a party.  We are official now!! I’ve got some “healthy blogging habits” I’d like to put in place (NOT resolutions), but we’ll talk about that next week. . . (I told you I was a procrastinator.)

I’d like to leave you with a picture of one more of my big time accomplishments from this week. A birthday cake for my niece who really likes Snow White (and by “my niece” I actually mean “her mommy”).

Snow White's Chocolate-Coated Cottage

The Christmas Spirit

11 Dec

Whine: Has noone yet figured out how to clone mothers during the Christmas season? I’m not sure how anyone expects us to cram a week’s worth of cleaning/cooking/errands/parenting into each and every day this month. Really, it’s inhumane.

Cheese: I’ve been heavy on the cooking part of my list: double chocolate M&M cookies, caramel corn, chex mix, pesto and sun dried tomato cream cheese, and not so much on the other parts. Unfortunately you can tell this by looking at a) my hips or b) my kitchen floor, neither of which are faring so well this holiday season.

I spent most of my waking hours on Wednesday trapped in my local house of horrors (i.e., WalMart). It started innocently enough with a grocery run. Since I had somehow managed to run out of every necessity simultaneously, plus a few random items like cornstarch and sea salt, I knew it wouldn’t be a quick trip. Then I remembered that I still hadn’t purchased the gifts for my “angels“, which should have been delivered several days ago, so I added a few gifts to my list. Then I tallied up all the supplies I would need for my holiday baking extravaganza, remembered a few Christmas gifts I could grab there and I realized my list had grown from overwhelming to completely unmanageable.

By the time we checked out two hours (and lots of $$$s) later, Lil’ Sis and I had truly found the Christmas Spirit. If by Christmas Spirit you mean me stumbling through the check out, incoherent and dehydrated, and her whining, screeching like an angry little llama and eating the hot dog buns through the bag. Obviously I’m a terrible mother and never feed her.

Then we bundled up and braced ourselves for the trek to the car. (Seriously, down here we act like a day that’s 45 degrees is the dawn of the next ice age.) The wind was doing it’s thing, chapping our cheeks and smearing certain people’s runny noses all over, when I realized I hadn’t zipped my purse. And my receipt, filled with Christmas purchases (which are all the wrong size, I’m sure, and will need to be returned) grabbed a seat on the Windy Express and went flying upward. For a minute it flew so high, I thought it might land on the roof. Instead it caught a jetstream and went flying through six rows of the parking lot. Here I am, a lady with an awkwardly prodtruding belly pushing an angry toddler in a cart that needs a WIDE LOAD sign and flashing light, dejectedly watching it fly away. Crap.

And then something remarkable happened. Some nice man (were those angel wings peeking out from under his jacket?) took of running after that runaway receipt. Sprinting. Jumping. Through six rows of parked cars. And finally, from behind an old Chevy truck I saw him emerge, arms raised in victory. My hero. I didn’t have adequate words to thank him, so I did my best to sputter out my gratitude, then said a little prayer that there would be an extra little Christmas blessing for his family this year.

Crabby Cat and I got a nice lunch (which she didn’t eat, guess that plastic bag/hot dog bun filled her up) then headed to fetch Big Sis from school. Of course, Lil’ Sis took the four minutes it took to get to preschool to fall into a coma-like sleep in the back. Which meant that I would have to rouse her and drag her inside to get Big Sis. Which also meant that she probably would consider those four minutes to be her “afternoon nap.”  I pulled into a parking spot and prepared myself for some serious crabbiness.  Then, out of nowhere, the Mommy parked in the next space (were those angel wings on the hatch of her SUV?) rolled down her window and offered to stay with Lil’ Sis outside while I ran in. Obviously, she’s woken a sleeping toddler before.

I got my sweetie from her class, where her teacher reported that she had had a great day, but that she had played the role of  class plumber all day due to the droopiness of her adorable (and apparently ill-fitting) Gap jeans. I somehow made it home and got both babies into their beds, knowing they would have to wake up prematurely so we could make it to the last-minute dr. appt I had managed to get for Lil’ Sis and her chronic smoker’s cough. Then Kiki, one of our superhero grandmas, called and insisted that she come get Big Sis so I didn’t have to drag her unnecessarily to The Land of Inevitable Infection (i.e., local pediatrician’s office).

It was a good thing, too, since we waited there a really. long. time. We closed down the office. I felt bad because as soon as that receptionist finished checking us out, she grabbed her purse, turned off the lights and made a beeline for the door. But our friendly doctor is always worth the wait. He diagnosed- -double ear infection; prescribed – -antibiotics, ear numbing gel and Nicorette (for the Lil’ smoker);  and chatted- -about internet hysteria and the H1N1 vaccine.  

Again, the Christmas Spirit swelled up inside of me. If, by Christmas Spirit, you mean a constant worry about saving any amount of money by any means necessary. And by any means necessary, I mean a trip back to the local house of horrors along with the rest of SW Fort Worth at 7pm with a sick baby. Because their pharmacy is cheap. So we staggered around inside for another hour waiting for the magical pink medicine and went on a quest through each aisle (twice) for sun-dried tomatoes, which we never found.

As we went through the check-out, someone started falling apart. Lil’ Sis was pretty upset, too.

I guess the late-nighter I’d pulled the night before (I have no self-control when it comes to chatting with friends) and the fact that we weren’t going to get to get into the Christmas Spirit and make magical memories and get our Christmas tree that night, compounded by the fact that I hadn’t eaten any dinner, all brought me to a point teetering on teary exhaustion. And just as Lil’ Sis and her angry scowls and cries were about to push me right over the edge, she stopped fussing. I looked up from the small print on the credit card machine to see four frat boys (were those angel wings poking out from under their loud Christmas t-shirts?), waving their hands and dancing around for her personal amusement. And then she smiled.

I guess you really can find the Christmas Spirit at WalMart. If, by Christmas Spirit, you mean people imitating the originator of the Christmas Spirit and showing spontaneous and sacrificial love and generosity to someone pitiful and generally undeserving. 

Merry Christmas season, friends, I hope you find some Christmas Spirit this month, even if you have to brave WalMart to do it.

P.S. This just happened. While I was blogging in the other room.  Apparently it was a group project. I especially like that Lil’ Sis’ unzipped jammies make her look like a late-70s Elvis in his jumpsuit.  See what I go through for you guys??

There are no words for this. . .

Nine Words Defined

30 Jan

Whine: Two Words: Cardio Mix. I went to the gym today and did a class. My thighs and glutes realized halfway through class that taking two months off from the gym puts me back in the “beginner” category.

Cheese: Two Words: Surprise Donuts. Good thing I managed to do some of those “advanced” moves and burned some extra calories (right before I passed out) because when we arrived home from the gym, there was a bag of donuts in our mailbox from Uncle A. When Big Sis saw the donut bag in the mailbox she said, “That’s so in-ster-est-ing.” My tummy thought so, too.

 

 

I just made a disturbing realization about myself. I am becoming aware that I sort of run from making decisions.  (See? Even that sentence is indecisive.) And not just hard ones like which parenting philosophy to choose, but stupid, easy ones like creamy or crunchy. Maybe I already knew that about myself. I’m pretty sure Mr. Dad has been trying to point that out for, like, ever. But I didn’t realize just how gutless I’d let myself become.

The last few months have been tough. Fun and exciting, to be sure. But also frustrating and exhausting. Starting with Thanksgiving until now, we’ve been in and out of town, hosted lots of people and just generally burned the candle at both ends (whatever that means, my candles only have one end.) Now that I’m through to this side of it, I look back and wonder what I could have done differently so that I came out a little more me at the end of it all. To be honest, my initial thought was that I should have cut something out. So where do I start? Maybe I should have cut Christmas? Or my sister-in-law’s wedding? Or the memorial service for Great-Grandma? Or parenting my children in general?

But I realized that my calendar, which is filled with connections to the people in my life,  is not the problem. Which is good, because as I figure it, my family and circle of friends are not going to get any smaller. No, the problem is me. I have a hard time making decisions. Or taking care of myself.  Or saying what I need. Or knowing what I need for that matter.

But I suspect that through these last few months, I was stuffing down my inner Mom. You know, the part of you that isn’t afraid to admit that she gets especially cranky when she’s hungry and tired. The part of you that knows how to best take care of you so that you can take care of everybody else.

When my inner Mom told me to speak up and ask for help I said, “No, I got it.” When she told me to go to bed so that I could face the next day, I said, “Oh, it’ll be fine to stay up just a few more hours.”  When she told me to shorten my to-do list so that I could make it to they gym for my own health (physical and mental) I told her, “Oh, be quiet.” (She was just getting irritating at that point. And I really didn’t feel like exercising.)

The point for me is, I don’t necessarily need to give my life a makeover. Just like with money or dieting or anything else, I lost myself when I wouldn’t do the little things. Like sleeping or eating or taking a shower or blogging. (Ok, some of those aren’t so little.) I just need to listen to my inner Mom. And be willing to take a little time for myself here and there. Be willing to let someone, somewhere be disappointed in me because I can’t do everything all at once. Be willing to take a risk and actually make a decision for myself .

And so, in light of today’s post about embracing your inner Mom to know and say what you need, here’s a hilarious email forward I received (Thanks, Kellie!) about the ways in which women “communicate”. Note: I DID NOT WRITE THIS. I wish I knew who did so I could give her (or a very insightful him) a huge high five. This could save marriages everywhere. . . .

 

Nine Words Women Use

#1 Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

#2 Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

#3 Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.

#4 Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don’t Do It!

#5 Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)

#6 That’s Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

#7 Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you’re welcome. (I want to add in a clause here – This is true, unless she says ‘Thanks a lot’ – that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say ‘you’re welcome’ That will bring on a ‘whatever’).

#8 Whatever: Is a woman’s way of saying “I’m done with you!”  (Temporarily, at least.)

#9 Don’t worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking ‘What’s wrong?’ For the woman’s response refer to # 3.

 

So this week I’ve challenged myself to figure out what I need and be grown up enough to say it.  I need a donut.

You’ll Shoot Yer’ Eye Out

7 Dec

Whine: Two words–blogging drought. (Don’t worry, it’s not for lack of material.)

Cheese: Homemade Cheddar Jack Queso. Mmmmmmmmmm.

 

When you were a kid, did you have a Magic Memory Filter? You know, the thing that makes you remember sitting rosy-cozy with your family by the fire while Dad reads the Christmas story or decorating festive sugar-cookies with Grandma in a hazy, yellow glow.  If you look back at your childhood memories and get the same feeling as you do when you watch the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, you know you had a Magic Memory Filter, because in reality, it was probably a little more like A Christmas Story**. You know, dogs eating the Christmas turkey, receiving really random, inappropriate gifts from distant relatives, and people getting their tongues stuck to frozen flagpoles.

I have a few of those rosy-cozy memories myself, I have to admit. But now that I am the Mommy (i.e., the one responsible for orchestrating said rosy-cozy memories) I realize that all of my memories that come with a rosy glow must have passed through The Filter, because I’ve discovered that any event involving children looks less idyllic and peaceful and more chaotic and tornadic. Norman Rockwell? My kids? More like Norma Wreckwells.

 

Childhood Memory: One of my favorite Christmas memories/traditions was going to get a real, live Christmas tree. My dear, sweet saint of a single mother obliged me every single year, even though it was almost the death of her. I remember hiking through pristine snow and getting to choose my very own tree. We then cut it down and brought it home to decorate, the scent of fresh pine emanating through our cozy apartment.

What Really Happened: We bring the tree home and it won’t fit in the stand. Undeterred, my mom bundles me back up (it was winter in Michigan) and throws me in the car, drags me to the store and bought a new stand. We get home and try again. The tree still won’t fit. Mom’s starting to get just a tad frustrated now. Somehow she comes up with a saw. I don’t remember where it came from, but I’m sure it involved either going to another store or calling up a friend. While she’s sawing off the offending branches, I’m in the bathroom and the toilet is not working. Mom comes in to investigate, removes the lid from the tank, drops it and it splits in half. My mom says a few things that if I’d been smart I’d have saved for leverage at a later date. Finally, after much ado, we fix the toilet (mostly), stuff  what is surely by now “that darned tree” into the stand and decorate it, and collapse into bed.

 

Fast forward twenty-some years and now I’m the Mommy (aka the Memory Maker) and I’ve got a plan.

Intended Memory: In my minds eye, we all go out to a farm and choose the perfect tree. It’s chilly, but I’ve got hot chocolate in a thermos in the truck. As Mr. Dad loads the tree in the truck, we listen to Christmas carols and sing together. We drive home then decorate, reflecting on the Reason for Christmas.

What Really Happened: We load into the truck and head to the local mega-hardware store. We choose a tree from the pile (and it is a looker, I must say), but the checkout line is long and its cold out there, so the kids and I head inside to find warmth. Big Sis finds a display of enchanting (and by enchanting I mean debilitatingly intrustive) singing snowglobes. She entertains herself by pressing the button on each snowglobe one at a time so they are singing in perfect disharmony and every time one goes off she has to restart it and between the six snowglobes she’s pretty much pusing buttons every 3 seconds and the “music” of each individual snowglobe is trying to wedge its way into my memory bank so that I’m singing six different carols at once and can’t get any of them out of my head. And then when it’s time to leave and make that special memory of getting a Christmas tree she’s screaming and hyperventilating because she really desperately needed at least one of those delightful snowglobes. She screams all the way home, even though I keep turning the volume of the Christmas songs higher and higher. And when we finally get home and stop crying (her, not me), I make the hot chocolate, but it gets cold because there’s a hungry baby, two time-outs and a potty emergency.

 

But I realize now that I’ve got biology on my side, because we did manage to get ourselves into our snuggly footie pajamas (I’ve got a pair, too) just in time for Mr. Dad to plug in the lights and sip some hot chocolate. And the moment he lit up those twinkly lights on that gorgeous tree, Big Sis’ eyes did the same and the Magic Memory Filter kicked into action.

 

IMPORTANT  UPDATE!!!

I just spoke with my mother regarding the aforementioned Christmas tree debacle. She alerted me to the fact that I left out the most imporant part of the story. After she finally managed to saw off some of the bottom of the tree to make it fit, she realized too late that the tree possessed a double trunk. So once she cut it, our gorgeous, hand-picked Christmas tree split in two. I didn’t remember that part, but now all I can say is HAHAHAHAHHAHA! (Sorry, Mom.) So apparently we stuffed both halves of our once-glorious tree into the stand, propped it up against the wall and called it a day. Just further proof that The Filter exists.

 

**If you haven’t seen A Christmas Story, it’s about a young boy, Ralphie, who really wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. The classic line from the movie is when Ralphie finally gets the gumption to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas and Santa shoves him off his lap and says “You’ll shoot yer’ eye out, kid.”