Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Can you even believe that Christmas is only a few days away? We spent the weekend doing the things we should have done earlier—cutting down the tree, decorating said tree and making the Christmas cutout cookies. I don’t know why these things all seem so magical in theory, but the reality is that nobody seems to get much enjoyment out of any of it. The kids fight over who gets to hang which ornament and who is decorating which cookie, with what icing and it goes on and on and on. Instead of telling them about all the special ornaments, I am mediating and yelling “Wait, don’t touch that one!” and cleaning up broken shards of glass (Thanks Liv). I am left frazzled, and though we end up with a decorated tree, and a tray of sugar cookies I’m also left with a huge mess to clean up in the form of icing smears and lopsided ornament clumps and…well, you get the picture.

I’m really struggling here. I want my kids to have great Christmas memories that aren’t just about waking up on Christmas morning to a mountain of presents under the tree. I want to have traditions that we all enjoy together and look forward to every year. I want things to be seamless and fun and stress free. Does that not exist? Can I force it to exist somehow?

I did that portable north pole thing for the kids last week and psyched them up for a big surprise. They watched their videos from Santa in turn, and I was sure their little minds were being blown. And then Lucy said “You know mom, when you said you had a surprise for us, I thought it would be better…like a present or something.” It doesn’t seem like I can win.

I am officially on Christmas burnout, and I haven’t even wrapped yet. I know it will all be worth it in the end. I will have smiling, grateful kids. But right now, it’s hard to see the light.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

christmas. CHRISTMAS!

Oh, I am starting to feel the pressure of The Christmas. I was so proud for having done a whole lot of our shopping early this year. I felt so on top of things. And, well now… not so much. My cards are addressed, but waiting for stamps which my husband has set out to buy on no fewer than 3 occasions but managed to return home without. Our Christmas tree lumberjack adventure was thwarted on Sunday due to rain, so we are a week behind there. The tree farm is only open until 5, so we can’t go on a school day, which means that we have to do it on Saturday. Because of the snow, we’ve been unable to do outside decorations. I’ve not baked a single cookie, AND The Children’s Place has a crappy selection of pajamas this year, so I have to go on a hunt for the perfect matching jammies for Christmas morning.

But wait, there’s more!

The kids have been obsessed with pillow pets this year, and my mother bought them for Christmas gifts. Initially, she bought Liv the Bumble Bee one, but after seeing the commercials, Liv decided that she needed a “Pink Pig Pillow Pet”. And nothing else. My sister-in-law found one on Black Friday and picked it up for my mom. My mom decided to give the bee to my niece so she would have something to open while the kids opened their gifts. Yesterday, I took Lucy to my mother’s with Liv because she was sick(ish) and while on the internet she told Liv that there were no more Pink Pig Pillow Pets. They were out of stock! (boy am I glad she can read) And then she made Liv pick out another one that she might want, which in this case is a panda bear. So now she is telling us “There’s no more pink pig pillow pets. Now I want a panda bear!!”. She might give my mother a heart attack.

And finally, the big gifts this year for the kids are Nintendo DSi’s. We initially purchased one for them to share, and then FIL said he would pay for a second one so they could each have one. So before the first one even came, the one that I pre-ordered thanks to a tip from Want Not, we ordered a second one. When we had the snow storm, we didn’t get mail or UPS or anything for 4 days, so I wasn’t overly concerned that the package hadn’t arrived. When I looked at the tracking a little bit closer though, I realized that USPS said it had been delivered the day before the snow storm. It seemed fishy, so I talked with Amazon. They asked me to give it another week because sometimes USPS says things are delivered when they are not. (we did speak to our mail carrier and she knew exactly what packages she’d delivered to us recently—that wasn’t one of them) So I did, only to find out when I checked back in to say still no DS, that the bundle we originally ordered was no longer available. And sorry, but we’ll give you a refund. I realize that Amazon can’t control that once it shipped it never arrived…I get that, and I appreciate the refund with no questions asked. But I was pissed that I had been told to wait and because of that, I missed out on what I wanted. I told them so, and they gave me a $10 credit off the new, more expensive DSi that I now had to order. Basically, that covered the shipping, because I wasn’t about to go super saver again. So, it will arrive tomorrow and Christmas will be saved. And even though it’s probably better that they will have identical units with identical games to avoid fighting, I still can’t help but to be miffed.

There has been some good though.

When we finally started getting mail last week, my package from Shelly came, which included coffee and gloves and foot warmers for me, and a ton of stocking stuffer things for the kids. It was a small box packed with a bazillion things. Totally made my day.

We had family Christmas with my mom’s side of the family last Saturday which is an off-shoot of the Polish Wagilia my Gramma had every Christmas Eve. We get together before Christmas now because the cousins are all grown and have their own families and new traditions, but it is so nice to still have Christmas with some of my very favorite people in the world. We spent the evening playing games, and eating pierogies, and an over-abundance of chocolate desserts and having a great time.

We took the kids to the mall for dinner and to see Santa on Sunday because of the rain, and we actually got an ok photo, PLUS the mall Santa people have partnered with Shutterfly, so with my package, I also got a $20 gift card to spend on anything I want over there. (I’m looking at you, desk calendar…)

Hub and I are finishing up our shopping on Friday morning, an annual tradition of getting the last minute things, plus the perfect wrapping paper to identify each of the kids’ Santa gifts. Then we have plans to drive to Syracuse this Friday, as soon as the big kids get off the bus, for Lights on the Lake, which is a huge Christmas light display around the lake there. This is really for Liv who screams “I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!” every time she sees Christmas lights.

We’ve made plans for New Years Day to do Christmas with my BFF and her family.

And we’ve decided to have a sledding party for Bud’s 7th birthday (7!! OMFG, my baby will be 7 in like 3 weeks) because he wondered why he couldn’t have a big party in the park like the girls do every year. And really, why can’t he?

Everything will be fine, I know it. We just have to get through these next 10 days.

What about you, are you ready for Christmas?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snowy Days

Oh Hai! Did I mention that it snowed here?? It did! A lot! We are, in fact, still digging out of it all. We had 36 or so inches fall over the course of about 2 days and, well, wow. The kids were basically chomping at the bit to get out and play in it, and Bud went out to help Hub start clearing a path before I even thought about going out with the girls. We couldn’t open our back door, so the boys pretty much dove off the front porch to get out. And then Hub had a good time throwing Bud in to the deep deep snow. Bud thought it was pretty funny too.

Although I was home with 3 kids, I had a project plan that I had to put together yesterday morning, and there was no getting around getting it done, so that is what I did while the boys worked. The girls were supposed to be entertained by Grandpa, but somehow kept escaping, and so my work was slow. But I did eventually finish, and was able to get the girls dressed and ready to go out. True to form, It took 30 minutes to get dressed for about 10 minutes of play. But as far as they were concerned, it was worth it. Liv wasn’t overly thrilled with the snow; she was afraid to walk on it, and I wasn’t about to carry her around, and accident waiting to happen, so after snapping a few pictures, we went inside.

This is my van:

Here is Bud on FIL’s car. Notice how his wrists are exposed? They were very red for a long time yesterday and I was nervous—but he is all better now.

Lucy will pose for the camera anywhere…that’s my girl!

Here is Liv before she decided that she hated the snow:

This is our yard all covered in snow. The kids enjoyed climbing in to their playhouse and pretending it was a snow fort.

And here is the front of the house. This is a very lot of snow.

And finally, here is me! I really wanted to show you my new purple coat, but not my bushy eyebrows that desperately need tending. But, you get what you get. See also: cheap Target hat. I need something cuter. And my good gloves were trapped in my van, and you can’t see it here, but I have Bud’s Spiderman gloves on. Good thing I have small hands!!

Oh, and afterwards, we all had hot cocoa, of course!

Last night, the National Guard was on our street pulling out stuck cars. It was really kind of neat to see, in the way of holy shit, this is kind of a natural disaster. The Thruway was closed for over 24 hours, with people trapped in their cars. It was kind of crazy, but this is the sort of thing that happens here from time to time. People tend to get their panties in a bunch about it, saying things like “our leaders should have better plans for dealing with snow”, etc etc. I think it is on us to have the plan. Like how about stay off the thruway when it is snowing at a rate of an inch per hour. Tractor trailers will jackknife, and you will be stuck. I guess it’s just easier to bitch though.

Today, schools were closed again, and I sent Bud and Lucy with Liv to the daycare who gladly takes school agers on snow days (cha ching!). I couldn’t deal with the stir-craziness again today, plus I had several meetings to attend, so it was better to have them gone. I threw together beef stew in the slow cooker, and cleaned up a bit and got lots of work done. Hub has spent more time snow-blowing our elderly neighbors out of their driveways than he has on ours, but I’m confident I’ll be able to drive again tomorrow.

I really don’t mind the snow; I couldn’t imagine winter anywhere else or any other way. I have fond memories of growing up in the city, and walking with my father among snow piles taller than me. And really, as long as we are safe and warm, what is there to mind?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Diet Like a Man (in 11 easy steps)

Step 1: Lament for a few weeks that it is probably time to start watching what you eat, all the while gingerly rubbing your belly.
Step 2: See your doctor for something unrelated and bring up the subject of diet. Scoff at his suggestion that you see a nutritionist since you don’t like healthy food, and can’t see how having a donut and cup of coffee for breakfast 5 days a week is really all that bad for you—isn’t not eating anything at all just as bad??
Step 3: Decide to finally pay attention to what you eat anyway. Ask your wife for some tips---hey, she’s ALWAYS dieting.
Step 4: Laugh at suggestions of small frequent snacks and protein. A hardboiled egg? No. Oatmeal not loaded with brown sugar? No way. No, really. What are you supposed to eat? Almonds?
Step 5: Spend day 1 of your “diet” really paying attention to what you are eating. After breakfast, have a small handful of almonds. Eat an early lunch because you are SO! HUNGRY! By 2PM declare yourself too hungry to do anything; concentrate or work. Take a nap until 4PM when the kids get home. Decide that you can’t deal with STARVING and eat a bowl of cereal.
Step 6: Have a sensible dinner with your family and talk about how hard it was to get through your day of “dieting”. Declare yourself to still be starving after dinner. Make plans for bedtime snack. Pretend you don’t see the eye-rolls from your wife.
Step 7: Plot strategies for day 2 to stop yourself from being hungry to the point of nausea. Be determined to have a better day tomorrow.
Step 8: Begin Day 2! Apply techniques from day 1 but delay nap until 4PM. Call your wife repeatedly to ask for advice that you won’t take.
Step 9: Ask your wife to consult Google, because there surely has to be a better way. Don’t believe her when she tells you there isn’t and to suck it up and learn to be hungry; that it’s mostly in your head and that it gets better.
Step 10: As Day 2 ends, tell your wife that it’s too hard. Jokingly (but not really) ask her for permission to just give up and live life fat and happy; a heart attack waiting to happen. Watch and be amused as your wife’s head explodes.
Step 11: Begin day 3 on your own.