Have Yourself a Merry Little- Oh Never Mind.

IMG_6256.jpg

So. Christmas is over.

Not really, I know. Christmas is really an all year long thing, as you well realize. But right now, that’s just one Hallmark card short of rubbing it in a little bit. I can’t help it. On December 26 I find myself in a taking down of all the decorations frenzy. Our kitchen seems to offer up only one food group anymore – fudgey items – and I seem to crave… salad. Who knew? If you eat nothing but pie and cheese for a week that spinach might start calling your name?

Also, taking down Christmas decorations is weird. It’s like, I love all the sparkly bits all over the house, but keeping them up just REMINDS me that the sparkly bits will need to come down. It’s like visiting Paris and knowing that in a day or two you will be getting on a plane and ending up in the Newark airport. So, let’s just take down all the sparkly bits now. Let’s squash those hopes of Paris, ca va? Paris is overrated.

My boys greeted me this morning with this nugget: “So, what’s the NEXT holiday we’ve got, Mom? And, are there presents.?”

Speaking of presents, right now I am listening to this:

“Red! RED! Whack the droid with your lightsaber! Use the force. THE FORCE, RED. NO, NOT THAT FORCE, THE OTHER ONE. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, WHACK THE GLOWING CRYSTAL THINGIE WITH YOUR FORCE!”

USE THE FORCE AND THEN RUN AWAAYYYYYYYY!”

Yep. We drank the Kool-Aid. The boys got a Wii for Christmas (we’re only a few years behind on technology. We take it slow here. Just a few months ago both boys were running around with the BOXES to their dad’s iphone pretending they were their OWN phones. It was kind of pathetic. I wanted to encourage them on being so creative and imaginative but I also felt a bit embarrassed about it all.)

And, I know for a FACT that no Jedi would EVER whack ANYONE with the force and then run away. That’s just silly talk.

Also, there’s this rather illuminating bit of marital knowledge: When you tell your spouse, “Really, there is nothing I want for Christmas. Just skip the gifts, ok?” you must remember this later. You must remember that you said it and you believed it about as much as you believe that elves make cookies in trees and that The Walking Dead is gonna have a happy ending. You need to maybe clarify this statement next year like this:

“Ok. I’m going to tell you that I don’t want any presents. But, when it is 7:35 am and I’ve had about four hours of sleep and the boys have reached a sort of unwrapping frenzy that makes you think of really cute sharks circling in the water, trailing ribbons, I might want a small gift. Just a wee morsel. Something shiny. Like four thousand dollars.”

I told the husband “no gifts.” And then, of course, I got him candy, a Popular Science magazine that he will never find time to read, and a gadget that doesn’t work. And for me? Nothing. Nada. He really actually listened to me.

This is so very rare.

Why is it he does not listen to me when I say things like, “Honey? There is a spider the size of New Jersey in the laundry room?  I tried to friend him on facebook, but he says he’s not on social media and could he just eat me instead? COULD YOU COME HERE AND SMUSH HIM????”

Nope, he doesn’t hear me when we are all about to be ransacked by big, hairy legged monstrosities in the laundry room. But he TOTALLY is all, “I’m the best listener EVER when presents are involved.”

My husband says there are too many caveats in marriage. Too many unwritten rules added to the written rules. I tell him that’s what keeps it fresh. Being married to me is your very own Clue game, only no one dies by candlestick.

The only recourse is to eat some of the candy that I had bought him. I am so over wanting salad now. There is peanut butter in the candy so it’s healthy.

So, my afternoon will be spent with a chocolate hangover and that weird, “there is too much down-time now” kind of feeling hanging over me like a needy roommate. On one hand, I want to deal with the roommate by washing all of her clothes and cleaning house from top to bottom. But the other half of me wants to watch my boys’ bludgeon each other with the Force and run in weird circles in that prancy way that Lego Star Wars characters do.  At one point it looked like Obi Wan Lego guy was doing the Hustle.

And… Lego Star Wars has won the battle for now. The force is strong with this day.

 

While Dreams of Martinis Danced in My Head.

Y’all. Christmas used to mean drinking.

It meant Bailey’s Irish Cream. And mulled wine (totally gross, and it involves the extra step of actually heating up the alcohol, which, if you think about it… why not just throw that stuff in the microwave if you must, but without the cinnamon sticks). It meant eggnog and rum. I think this is perhaps the most heinous of Christmassy drinks, but it was all “’tis the season” this and “let’s raise our glasses” that and I usually had my one cup of tricked-out eggnog and then just headed for the wine, like normal people do.

Anyhow.

I forget if I have told you…. have we had that whole uncomfortable, hey, did you know this little tidbit about me thing where I unload my personal history and tragedy, but in a totally “it’s all cool” kind of way – like if you came bopping up to me and said “Hey! Hi! Cute shoes! Did you know I used to steal cars?”

What I’m trying to say is: My name is Dana, and I’m an alcoholic.

I don’t drink anymore. But Christmas? Christmas is a time that I really remember it all. The insanity. The lying. The situation that somehow I had gotten myself into, me, an intelligent, “had it together” mom of two. Me. Hiding vodka in my closet, tucked away amongst all those cute shoes.

Christmas is for a lot of things. But for me, drinking is no longer one of them. Tonight, Christmas is for sneaking around with wrapping and tape and a La Croix, and lots of whispering and staying up way too late. It’s for eating yummy things and crying while I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I always cry. It’s the law.

Christmas is all about second chances, after all. George Bailey understands that, I think. So does Christ. It’s his birthday and He is so happy celebrate it with all of us. Christmas is for playing endless board games and making candy and hoping the roads aren’t icy and splurging at the store to buy your kid a ridiculous Pikachu shirt because that odd yellow creature speaks my kid’s love language. I dunno. I don’t get it. But when I was a kid I went nutball for the Superfriends, so perhaps we’re just repeating ourselves.

IMG_6234.JPG.jpeg

Christmas is for seeing how a baby gave us the colossal reset. It’s for taking a breath and realizing goodness and right is still in charge. Still good. Still right.

And still right here.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Mine will be spent playing bingo and eating cookies and probably forty thousand other things, all with family. For those with family far away or an empty chair at the table, I know. And I know for some, hanging up that one thing that plagues you so is still not part of the plan for Christmas. Do yourself a favor. Give yourself the gift of freedom. Set down the glass or the pill or the shopping or the comparing of the gambling or whatever it is that keeps you stuck.

Set it down and enjoy the best gift. Life.

Love you and Merry Sober Christmas.

 

 

The Best Lesson Plan in the Whole World

Merry Christmas break, y’all.

I start out with glitter and cookies and reindeer magic. By the end? I’m covered in crumbs and fatigue. You know if reindeer hang out too long, it just gets… messy.

Teachers have a slightly different view of all this. know from experience. They are getting a much needed break. Unless they have children of their own, and then it’s just kinda a continuation of their lives but without a planning period.

I have been thinking lately about my favorite lesson plans. I used to write many of these. We teachers, we’re always planning, thinking, plotting, commenting, “Oh! I need to use that in my classroom!” We can’t help it. We are wired weirdly. I’m sure a science teacher could explain.

As a teacher, I was in the classroom for over twenty years. Think of it. Six classes a day, for some two hundred days, for some twenty years, with plans upon plans and more plans… YOU do the math. I don’t teach math. That’s another teacher’s department.

But as a substitute teacher, these past two years, I have come across some real lesson planning gems.

Some teachers go all Big Brother:

  1. Here is a list of all my students’ pictures, seating arrangements, allergies, likes, dislikes, deepest fears, hopes, dreams, and what they had for dinner last night. Please make sure to utilize this list throughout the day.

Or, General Patton:

  1. 7:52: start the hour with spelling and pushups.
  2. Continue the pushups into math at 8:43 on the sharp.
  3. Children will remain silent and lined up at all times.
  4. Everything on my desk needs to remain at right angles.
  5. There is no crying in math class.

Or, Unicorns and Rainbows:

  1. Hug the cherubs! Tell them I miss them! Arts and crafts for everyone!
  2. Glitter and candy!
  3. I’m on a long break but I’ll be all better soon! *twitchy laughter*

Or, my favorite:

  1. Whatever you do, don’t feed them after midnight.
  2. Good luck, kid.

I recently “subbed” at a living museum called “The Body” at our school. I was in charge of The Mouth. There is really no reason to point out the irony here, is there?

So, here I am:IMG_6186.JPG

Those scrubs are so commmmmmmfffyyy. I have a plan: I am going to start wearing scrubs all the time. That way, people will assume I am in the medical field, which is so cool,  AND I’ll be sooooo comfy at the same time. Double bonus.

Also, yes, that are gigantic nostrils looming above me.

Then, there’s this:

IMG_6185.JPG

And as I unpacked my gigantic toothbrush and floss, I came across my lesson plans, a series of instructions for how to keep the kids seated on the huge teeth without flipping over, and that Laffy Taffy is basically the devil.

And then, of course, there was this little tidbit of information:

“DO NOT ALLOW THE CHILDREN TO PUNCH THE UVULA.”

You know? You just don’t hear that very often in a lesson plan.

Merry Christmas, and have a very merry vacation, teachers. You deserve it.

vmkfr.jpg

Hello, my name is Dana, and I can’t wrap presents.

Momsie, Christmas 2016:

This year I will make sure we do a meaningful and very spiritual Advent activity every day!

This year, we will not fight or argue during our Christmas break because Jesus is about to be born and he needs his sleep! Peace! Goodwill! Etcetera!

This year I will make fudge that actually ends up as fudge, not glorified frosting!

This year, I will wrap the presents BEFORE CHRISTMAS EVE.

THIS YEAR WE WILL DO ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS!

 

Bet you can guess how I’m doing on my list, eh?

You know that sledding scene from It’s a Wonderful Life where George’s brother careens right into the pond? Well, that’s how our Christmas can go if we are not careful. Right. Over. The Merry Cliff.

I am pretty sure Jesus did not have this in mind.

Anyhow, what will happen is that I do make the fudge, and we eat it with a spoon and it’s YUMMO.

Also, I will make divinity for my dad because he is the best dad EVER and he’s reading this right now, and I am maintaining my status as the favorite child.

Also, I will put off wrapping because when I wrap presents? I seem to channel my inner idiot savant (what? We all have one. Don’t judge) and my presents end up looking like this:

980x

I would like to state for the record that there is no booze in this post. The item in the sock is “stunt liquid” – perhaps some olive oil, or a lovely bottle of Sprite. Perhaps a nice 1997. That was a good year.

Anyhow.

Wrapping. Wrapping happens. It’s unavoidable.

NETFLIX TO THE RESCUE!

Netflix has soooooo many new shows to view, I don’t even know what to start. If for some weird reason your children* are a part of this whole wrapping thing (rare, and also very painful for all involved. I mean, have you ever WATCHED a six year old try to wrap a box? It’s like green and red paint drying.) You can watch these two gems:

large_syfpdg2jz1ozzd3nnmboowiaj8e

Tim Allen is so JOLLY in this one. It’s perfection.

 

or : 61456a59-f862-446b-bc27-9e0fb05c8332_1-40f4d8069640ced9fde27ccd4522295b

This bunny one? It’s adorable.

And, like the tag says, “Everybody needs some bunny to love.” SO TRUE. We could all do with more bunnies to cuddle! Bunnies for everyone!

Also, the movie also stars Florence Henderson in one of her last roles, and she is so gruff and real and NON Florence Henderson-y in it;  she really was awesome in this movie. The story line is about adoption and fostering children. I am such a fan of those families who open their hearts and homes to children – even the “tough ones.” Just watch it. Bring kleenex. Or, maybe a bunny to hold onto while you watch. To wipe away the tears.

*Um, it’s also possible that the boys whilst watching the movies will be so transfixed by Christmas goodness that you can slooooooooowly slide the presents out of their sweaty little hands and then wrap those suckers for them in two seconds. I’m not saying I’ve done that, or that I’ve even done a good job IF I’ve done that, but we needed to be done wrapping that ONE BOX by 2017.

If you’re not watching with the babies, and you are also husband-free (he seems to avoid the whole wrapping thing because he knows better. I get surly. Plus, his style of wrapping, as an engineer, involves a level and measuring tape and, I think at one point there was some math formulas from an app on his phone involved) I go for the Hallmark-channely, romantic Christmas wondefulness stuff that is fluffy and happy. I like fluffy and happy. Heck, I’M fluffy and happy, so there’s that.

Here’s an example:movie-poster-back-to-christmas-563e51c486673-cb49ecc125dffb8d4491e3688e98609ba30f8aca-1“Sometimes you do get a second chance.”

That is cinema gold, people. We all need second chances, and if you’re a It’s a Wonderful Life-Ebenezer-Miracle on 39th Street kinda girl, you might realize –

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SECOND CHANCES.

Jesus would agree.

And finally? I give you my second chance at wrapping:

cat-wrap

 

My masterpiece.

 

Merry Christmas! Sit back, relax, spoon up some fudge, and enjoy the season, with the help of Netflix.

 

screenshot-2016-01-27-11-14-52

Banish Worry and Anxiety in Five Easy Steps!

Gotcha.

I hate to say it, but worry doesn’t go down that easy. It doesn’t do “steps.” Sometimes, it doesn’t even do logical.

And it doesn’t play fair. Does it?

Some of you know my whole story – the one that digs back behind the funny parenting posts and tells you that I am an alcoholic, in recovery. And here is the rub:

Worry was my THING.

And sometimes, it still is. The holidays are a time of festivity and lights and our Savior’s birth, but did you also know? For a lot of us, the holidays are fraught with fear, anxious thoughts, worry. Sadness. Depression. A whole cocktail of tangled thinking stirred with a cute little swizzle stick of “We SHOULD be totally happy right now! It’s Christmas! NO ONE can be sad at Christmas! It’s un-American!”

In some ways, worry is an addiction all its own. It can be picked up and put on, like one of those big puffy coats that make you look like the Michelin Man – it buffers you from all else. It wraps and constricts and, at the same time? It might just be what we think keeps us warm and safe. If we worry, that means we just might have a shot at fixing whatever worries us.

We think we can fix, with worry.

Instead? We only damage more.

Lately I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this:

screenshot-2016-11-29-12-38-45

Here is a bit of wisdom (in the form of a list! You KNOW how I love lists!) from the author, D. C. Berkel, CPA:

Worrying has never:

  • Paid a bill
  • Turned around a failing relationship
  • Made a sick person well
  • Improved anyone’s physique
  • Changed anyone’s mood to one more positive
  • Made a job more fun or secure
  • Taken out the trash
  • Mowed the grass
  • Painted the house
  • Or kept the mother-in-law away

Now, not all mother in laws are worry-inducing. But, this list? It makes sense. We worry. We worry about all sorts of things. And Christmas? Sometimes, in all this joy and celebration, it crashes up against us and makes the worry hit back. This workbook? It has a lot of help to offer. It defines anxiety, and worry, and tells us why we sink under it. It gives us some very practical advice, in a written workbook format, step by step. It takes it slow.

And that’s how we deal. We need to take a breath, do some writing, some thinking about our past, some work. Maybe because we owe it to our future.

I still worry. But, I don’t let it control me. And I don’t suffer from it, like I used to. It doesn’t cloak me, and my life, like it once did.

Did you know? About six years ago, every time I got in a car with my family to go on a road trip, I would envision our little vehicle ending up in a terrible crash. I would see it, the metal on the road, the ambulances, the terror. I would breathe deep and clench my fists and pray like crazy, but that, my friends, is some palpable, evil anxiety to deal with. So, today? I do every thing I can to work on it. I gather my tools and I keep them close. God asks us pursue wisdom, and knowledge, and live right.

This book is one of those tools to live right. I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in getting a copy, click here.

b486cf4047c940999436fd96653a9c22

 

Countdown

I’m walking the boys home the other day and noticing the trees. All the oranges and reds and yellows. It’s your basic God’s glory kind of material. The usual off-the-hook stuff that He specializes in.

And I’m all:

 

leonardo-dicaprio-1-435.png

Prancing home in the leaves, like a happy little Leonardo.

Also, since Halloween is on Monday, we are having one of those “Dress Crazy Every Day Because This Will Help Us Not Do Drugs” weeks at school. Because Halloween is scary, and so are drugs. And dressing up is fun!

Ok, I am not, my friends, providing any snark about this. Ok, maybe just a little, but it’s from MY end, not the kids’. The kids are cute and adorable and yes, we need to tell them about drugs. But, just a note: Sometimes, when I am trying to find the ONE Captain America glove that has curled up in a little ball and is hibernating VERY SUCCESSFULLY in our house, at 6:46 am, and yes, I know, it’s Superhero Day and if a Superhero doesn’t wear his gloves then he’s Captain Loser and the world has lost all meaning… Sometimes? It’s at times like these that I, just for a teensy tiny minute, think something like this:

“I might really like to have some of those drugs right now.”

Irony, eh? It’s here to keep hitting us upside the head every once in a while. Helps us feel alive.

And I know. I’m awful. I promise I won’t take up drugs just because we didn’t get organized enough to find all the Captain America accessories (of which there are more than BARBIE has, for the Love of Thor). That would just be silly. Hugs, not drugs.

ANYHOW. Back to Fall, where we take the Obligatory Pictures of Children in Costumes (these are of Superhero #2, also known as Flash, which is SO not really in his personality profile, but for the time that he did wear the costume, he did actually TRY a few times to be quick while moving at the same time. He ran into a wall. It was endearing.)

I like to call this series:

The Dog Gets Increasingly Embarrassed

1.

IMG_6058 1.png

2. IMG_6059 2.png

 

3. IMG_60603.png

 

Oh, and there was Crazy Hair Day. Also known as: Spray a lot of Glitter on my Children Day and Hope They Don’t Get Close to An Open Flame.

I took this picture of a rather grumpy Red:

IMG_6064.jpg

And I realized something….

He kinda looked like:

th.jpg

Which, as you KNOW… is part of the cast for this classic:

fNpBQ8mAIG4wUs4DQWwVNTxA2rc.jpg

 

So, I am reminded, logically….

CHRISTMAS MUSIC EVE WILL BE HERE IN FOUR DAYS!!!!!! Woo HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

 

Thank you for staying with me through my thought process on this post, which was brought to you by:

  1. Allergy medication
  2. NO other drugs
  3. Possibly a little glitter

 

Merry Christmas Music Eve!!

I’m coming for you, Joshie!

keep-calm-listen-to-josh-groban-christmas-music.png

 

 

I got your Christmas letter right here.

Greetings:

We have had a great year. Better than most.

Sincerely and Merry Christmas,

Momsie

 

Ok, I know, that’s probably not worth the postage. Here’s the truth of it:

  1. No one was arrested or deported. Steve the cat is always on the cusp, I tell you.
  2. Right now is Christmas “break” which, by its end, will have “broken” me, but for now, we’re still merry. We’re decorating things and listen to a lot of Christmas music. Like, a LOT. We especially love that our Pandora station keeps dialing up Neil Diamond’s Christmas album. Mr. Diamond, I think, is Jewish? So, this makes this even more special?
  3.   My precious cherubs got a hold of my phone.

 

IMG_0506

I like to call this piece Furry Despair

 

IMG_0530

This one is called I Might Kill You

And:

IMG_0542

Title: My Resentment Will Mean I Pee on Something

I know these cat pictures are totally enthralling, but the catch here is that my children took over 100 of these things. I mean, how much furry white anger can you capture with an old iphone?

4. Then, we did this:

IMG_4917IMG_4916

Yes, the second kid is not mine. She’s in there because look at her. She’s adorable. We did the whole “Hark! I bwing great tidings of JOY!” pageant thing and they sang “Away in da Manger” and my head exploded because of the cuteness. For real. Before the pageant started, both boys had me sign a waiver. It was that good.

5. Also, last night at dinner, Red pretended he was a raptor because thank you, Wild Kratts. And then, afterwards, he said, “Mom, I’m full. Can I save my chicken for later? Raptors like chicken.” And I beamed with pride because wrapping up leftovers is My Thing and makes me feel like my mom, and I said, “Sure honey!”

And this is what he did:

IMG_4940

Note: this is not chicken.

Note also: I am leaving it in my fridge even though the shelves are at that “move everything around to just get to that one container in the back” kind of full, because every time I see it I laugh.

And who doesn’t need a good chuckle every time they look in the fridge? I know I do.

6. Also, Blonde would like to ask: Why are there scary ghost stories in the tales of the glories of Christmases long ago? Why? He asks me this, all very Cindy Lou Who, and all I had to relate it to was the Mickey Mouse Christmas where Donald is Scrooge,(Netflix plug!) but still, no comprehendo. So I dialed up my favorite: A Muppet Christmas Carol* and the Marley scene made them both almost burst into tears with total frozen fear, and we now have a therapist on speed dial, thank you. So you’re welcome, children, Christmas is terrifying.

7. Which it is, kind of, when you realize you have to go to the Big Blue store later today for That One Thing You Forgot on the List, and the horror. The horror.

xmas+shop

 

7. I totally realize this Christmas letter has jumped the shark. But, that’s who I am. A shark jumper.

Merry Christmas, y’all. You are one of my most precious gifts. I love you.

When you find yourself getting buried under all of it – the lists and parties and stocking stuffers and how do we wrap a chainsaw? kind of stuff, remember this:

Jesus didn’t ever rush. He never did. You never read about Him saying, “Come now, apostles! Let us hasten on to the next village! I got a parable presentation at four!”

Jesus took His sweet time.  He knows how precious time is.

Take some of your time, and take a breath, and allow God to bless you this season.

Oh, and also this:

8. I think he got over being mad. I like to call this:

I Will Strangle You With My Love

IMG_0505

God bless us, everyone.

*A Muppet Christmas Carol is wonderful. It really is. I have tried to get my boys to watch it for TWO years now and for some reason… I dunno. It’s the muppets + real people part that gets them. Like, one day, they’re gonna be walking around and shazam! Some muppet creature is going to pop up out of nowhere and start singing at them. They just can’t. They’re little brains get all freaked out and they start backing out of the room. But I will not give up. One day, my pretties. You me, and a bunch of tropical rats are going to have a movie date.