Not A Bah Humbug Month

We aren’t decorating for Christmas this year. With the house for sale, the impending move, ornaments deep in storage somewhere, and just a general feeling of discontent, different priorities, and overwhelming to-do lists – well the decorations can hide in a box in their unknown location this year. The girls have been told to expect little to open this year – the house, their new rooms, and the new space will be present enough. Sure, I plan to dig out the stockings for some Christmas morning surprises. But there won’t be packages stacked in front of a tree or toys to play with after breakfast. We will pretend that we are traveling. But without the traveling. Christmas day this year will be a day perhaps of skiing and Chinese food and time together. Present enough.


We’ve started talking more about “experiences” rather than “things” – and how we’d rather save for vacations, ski days, parties, concerts, volunteering days, and giving to others than making lists of things that will just end of packed up again one day so we can move, or de-clutter, or dig out of the daily madness of the collections we all manage to build. How do we teach them to focus on people and feelings and experiences over owning more.


It’s an easy conversation though really – our kids hadn’t even made a list yet this year. And when Astrid talked to Santa this weekend she told him that she wanted food for everyone, but maybe a few new jars of Play-Doh because hers dried up. Esther asked for more friends. And Eloise just smiled and told him she was “all good” and was just standing up there to make her baby sister happy.


“All good.”


I want to say that more. I want to teach that more. How to make sure everyone is “all good” this year in whatever that means – economically, in their relationships, mental states.


December is hard. Memories of lost loved ones come back hard in too many reminders. Family so far away missed just a smidge more. Financial hard-aches grow. People are rushed and busy.


I’ve asked the girls that instead of gifts maybe we can do some simple parties or crafts with some friends this year. Have some girls over for tea or a movie or to make blankets for the animal shelter or to shop for Toys For Tots.


Experiences making memories for a lifetime. We don’t need a tree and ornaments to make that happen or to help us produce Christmas joy.


We were invited to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. We were sitting and eating and laughing in the mix of 20+ people – grandparents, friends, neighbors, in-laws, cousins, and strangers. No one needed a “card” to belong. No one worried that they were spending the day with “this” family vs. “that” family. No one was excluded. Everyone – not related – or related just enjoyed a day of Thanksgiving and holiday.


I talked to my kids after that day and told them that no matter what – NEVER exclude anyone in their lives. NEVER think well we can’t invite them because we are invited them instead. NEVER let anyone sit home alone on a holiday. NEVER play favorites. And NEVER be selfish enough to think that a holiday is an invite only occasion.


I learn daily from the lessons I try to model and teach my own kids. And our friend’s Thanksgiving was no exception of a lesson teaching me that I can do so much better too.


And when one day we leave this life, it won’t be the things we own or the tree we put up that will mean something – it will be the people we loved and loved us back, the hands we touched, and experiences we shared, and the life that was lived well. It will be the conversation with Santa, and not that the damn Elf on the Shelf was moved every morning.


December can be hard. I say we stop making it hard and just think about how we can make it easier and more joyful for everyone. Lovers and strangers alike.



I Believe In Magic

“Mommy, I think I’m ready to talk to Santa this year.” Astrid says very quietly one evening after dinner when all of us still gather around the dining room table doing homework, writing, paying bills, and if you are only four years old – coloring.


“I mean, I will talk to him – but I’ll be standing next to him. Not on his lap. I don’t want to touch him. But I’ll say hi maybe and tell him my name. I want to tell him that I only want a talking scale this year just like the one in Costa Rica so it will yell out “31.2 pounds” all day every day if I want it to. I need to tell him about the scale so I get it. That’s the only thing on my list.”


“Maybe it’s a good idea for all three of you to get your Santa lists ready!” I suggest after Astrid’s announcement that she is “Santa-talk ready” this year. “I’ll make reservations for us to visit him this Saturday.


Eloise looks up from her algebra – stopping mid-problem that has something to do with coefficients and rises and runs and things I no longer understand – and says “Yeah okay Mom, let me get right on that. Ha!”


“Ha!?!” I stand and hold my hands up to my heart as if shot and take a deep breath in before responding with a “Santa is watching and he heard what you just said!”


“Oh, okay Mom. Let me just get right to that list after I finish my algebra and type-up my endangered animal study paper….”


I look to Astrid and Esther who have already gotten out plain paper, red markers and stickers and are happily making Santa Lists.


And I sit back down hard as I realize she no longer believes. And the hurt takes me by surprise.


I mean she’s 11 and all – and maybe you’re thinking “Geesh, it’s about time!” Because maybe that’s what I was thinking a few years back when at eight and nine she still did believe while I figured the whole ‘Santa’ thing out by the time I was five.


I continue to sit quietly at the table and glance over my coffee and then I meet Eloise’s eyes. She gives me a quick, small knowing smile and wink before getting back to her work.


And I cannot help from almost crying as our eyes meet because I know she gets it. Because even though she may no longer believe in the actual Big Man himself, she still gets the magic of the season and the importance to not give her new found knowledge away to her little sisters.


Later that night she hands me her Santa List – which even starts with “Dear, Santa” and ends with “Love, Eloise” – and as she hands it over to me she says “You know just in case you’d like to know what’s on my list too.”


I smile as she walks away and heads up to bed.  I carefully unfold her letter and read the first two items on her list…


-I would like to raise at least $100 to adopt a Panda from WWF to help stop their endangerment.

-I would like Astrid to get the talking scale she wants


And I know that she still believes in magic because she continues to wish for very good things.



Do you have a Holiday outfit planned for your little girl for Christmas? I was thrilled to receive the Twinkle Party Dress and matching dress for Bitty Baby from American Girl to review.  Astrid pretty much doesn’t go anywhere without her ‘Baby Anna’ and now they can match when we have breakfast with Santa this weekend. And they can ask for the scale together! In fact Astrid has refused to take her party dress off for the past three days because she feels like a ‘special princess’ and has told me that ‘Baby Anna’ will never wear anything BUT her fancy red dress. So there you go. They love their matching dresses and I about died from the cute. I think Santa will be equally impressed this weekend and now we don’t have to stress about what to wear on Christmas eve.


If you haven’t purchased your Holiday Dress yet and you have a little one who loves AG – I for sure recommend these cute sets! I am a HUGE fan of American Girl as you know – for celebrating girls and sending a positive message to our kids…so having these special dresses for Astrid and ‘Baby Anna’ is just a bit of sweet icing on the cake for us.


When Your Tween Steals Your Laptop

I love to brag and rub it in your face about the fact that my kids don’t really use technology. They play dolls, run around the neighborhood playing with friends, or spend hours on art projects on the family room floor. I mean sure, as a family we own two laptops(one for me and one for Jed), and we have a shared family iPad, and we both have iPhones…but the kids do not own anything techie for themselves – no gaming devices, no tablets, no iPods, no laptops, no phones..nothing. Basically it’s because we don’t love them as much as the parents who buy their eight year olds laptops and iPad Minis.


But maybe the future therapy bills will be more expensive than just buying them a tablet?


They’ve never asked for anything with a screen or on-button. And until lately, they rarely have asked to use our computers or phones, and I just found the iPad under a pile of books – and it had a lot of dust on it.  It also took me three hours to find the charger cord thing.


We also don’t ever talk in hashtags in our home. And my kids have never sent a text. #lame


Oh my gosh – I’m raising outcasts.


But this school year is killing me and my computer time. I know some of you probably nobody have been wondering why I’m not blogging as much, and can you guess why I’m not blogging…

A. I’ve made all of the money I care to make blogging and I’m now so famous that I need to give someone else a chance.

B. I don’t remember my passwords.

C. My 10 year old has to type one million pages a week  and do research on one million projects for school


The correct answer is probably actually ‘B’ – but today let’s just say ‘C’ or this post won’t make any sense.


Because now Eloise needs technology to complete her homework – from setting up an email account for her to communicate with her teacher and classmates with whom she is working on projects, to researching the Kwakiutl Tribe, to typing out a five page personal narrative every single week. And if you are adding up all that computer time – in blogging time – that’s about 5,000,000 hours and 3,000,000 posts that I can no longer write because HOMEWORK, and the girl is always on my computer.


So I find myself at 7pm whining and stomping around the house and throwing a tantrum for my 10 year old to just get off my laptop so I can work check Facebook! And Eloise is all “Well maybe it’s time that I own my own laptop!” And I’m all “Well maybe you need to get a job!” And she’s all “You don’t love me and you want me to fail school because you won’t let me use your laptop to complete my homework!” And I’m all like “I did like you better before you learned how to type!” And she is all like “Nobody understands me around here!” And I’m all like “I hope you still believe in Santa because the big guy might be your only saving grace of owning your own technology this year!” And she’s all like “Does he love me enough to buy me a MacBook instead of a cheap Windows machine?” And I’m all like “Have you seen the unemployment numbers lately?” And she is all like “Mother!”


And then I just go watch Orange Is The New Black on Netflix until she gets her paper finished ON MY LAPTOP. But by the time she is done and is in bed at 8:30pm I am too tired to do any work – so I just fall asleep too.




And I really don’t want to get her a computer. Because she’s only 10 and why does she have all of this homework????


But I can no longer live in technology-denial…..So we are making a plan for her(and her ‘soon to have too much homework too’ sisters) to ‘earn’ money to help buy one laptop for ALL THREE GIRLS TO SHARE and maybe Santa will kick-in the rest.


But until December 25th – you may never see me again. Because homework.


So what say you internets(not that I can respond..BECAUSE HOMEWORK) – do your elementary age kids own technology thingys???


I Believe

I’ve been quiet this week as I struggle with what to write. We’re busy. Busy with school and music and friends and activities and shopping and general prepping.


Maybe busier than we need to be just so my mind can’t stop and think of the sad.


And I’ve been looking for little miracles that I can grab hold of and hang on to as the world seems to cruel to me right now.

I find even watching the news about the fiscal cliff makes me angry for the posturing on politics versus just doing what’s right for the people. And Lord knows we’ve had enough politic discussions this year to last us until 3245.


And the big and sad of everything just continues to get me down. So I need to stop looking at the bigs and the leaders for those miracles, and maybe just start with what’s inside these four walls.

Because children still believe. They believe in magic and miracles and simple goodness. They believe that the good guys always beat the bad guys and that love is so very easy.


A kiss heals a boo-boo and a hug wipes away tears. A cookie makes the day better and holding a friend’s hand makes the playground almost as good as Disney World.


My kids still believe that the Elf moves itself each night. They write notes to Santa that Sophie takes back to him. They ask to all sleep in Esther’s room so they can hear Santa’s Jingle Bells as he goes down the chimney. Even my 10 year old. She believes. She believes.


They believe in the good. The miracles. The magic. The good guys.

So maybe I need to take my cues for the little ones. Who make the little things more important than the big things. And the big things not so scary. And the spirit of the season alive in our hearts.


I so want to still believe in miracles.

And sometimes when I close my eyes and hug my children tight…I see them all right there…



My Trusting Kids

I was about five or six when I figured the whole Santa thing out. My brother and I used to snoop in our parent’s closet..under the bed…in the cupboards… finding the unwrapped gifts that would miraculously end up under the tree Christmas morning with the tag “from Santa.”

(me “santa” and my brother Troy…1972ish?)

I remember being about seven or eight watching my parents around the corner of the family room as they stuffed our stockings and I wondered if they knew that I knew that the gig was up…as I was sure not talking.


Finally when they gave up on the “Santa is real” thing they would just put all of the presents under the tree before Christmas – which was truly a beautiful thing as they were both working parents so after school I would carefully unwrap everything and re-wrap it before they got home.


I had no surprises Christmas morning.


By the time I was in junior high my mom would drive around the whole month of December with my presents in her car trunk so I could not open the damn things. Drove me nuts.


Sometimes I think that at nine, Eloise knows who the real Santa is…but she would never question it nor talk to her sisters about it. I would like to think she will believe for as long as Astrid does.


She’s such a better kid than I was.  She cares about the magic and will keep it alive for a very long time…because that’s what it is. Not the guy in the red suit…it’s the magic.


And you will never see me getting all sappy around the holidays. While I do love a little holiday magic – you will mainly find it in laughter and jokes from me.  And wine.


If you are a santa house – how old were you when you stopped believing in the big man in red? ( or does your mom still not know that you know…no worries…your secret is safe with me)


Weekly recap…

And I need wine because I cannot craft. And I hate glitter. And I admit I get all judgey on mom’s who make organic play-doh. Mainly because you never make enough for us.


I was so sick this week because evidently I will be the first to go in the Rapture. Also I need to get pregnant stat so I can have another toddler to keep that potty chair handy for emergencies. Thank you again to my sweet neighbor, Ami for the ginger ale and bonbons. xo


Yo Elmo fans – if you are in the Minneapolis area – you can win FOUR tickets here – low know you want to see Elmo, yes?


And I finally figured out why I don’t have any mom friends.



Also, did I tell you that I am now contributing to Savvy Sassy Moms – well I am and this week I posted about the latest trend of Animal Hats. Oh my word my kids love these and they seriously crack me up. I love a fun and silly trend.

I also wrote a post this week for All Things Chic with some great ideas for stocking stuffers for tweens.  One of the items I mentioned are called Jiggysticks! I bought these for my kid’s stockings but gave them this gift early as these lip balms are so amazing and it’s been so dang dry here.  (I need to place another order.)

I love supporting small companies and love this natural product that the family is making in memory of the beautiful daughter they lost. I would love for you to read their story. ..and check out their yummy flavors.(note: they don’t know me – I am just in love with the lip balm and love sharing finds with you all)



So do you have all of your Holiday shopping done? I do NOT. GAH!


Elf on the Shelf Poem

Oh yay – Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to bring out the Elf on the Shelf. Dammit.


Our Elf is on year four – or maybe five I believe. I get the concept and I thought it would be fun to do – but here’s the thing..


1. It’s a pain in the ass to play this game.

2. If I may, my kids don’t ever misbehave..because they are weird. I  know. So the elf is pretty much not required except as a please refer back to #1

and 3. When we bought the Elf – it was a hard to find item at small gift shops and online….NOW it is at the Wal-Mart check-out lane. WTF? My kids are like – why are there Elves at Target! I thought Santa sent him.  And I’m like – those are FAKE ELVES TRYING TO STEAL CHRISTMAS WITH THE ZOMBIES!


Seriously how can we fool our kids into believing this Elf was sent by Santa to watch them if we put him first on the conveyor at Target. It’s like lying to your kids isn’t even sacred anymore! I believe the Elves should be kept behind the counter with the cigarettes, condoms and sudafed. Right?


Anyway, since I cannot even remember my children’s names there is no way I can remember to move and care for a plastic elf each season. Last year I lost it after FOUR days he sat in one spot and the total gig was up.

The Elf’s days are numbered. In the meantime I’ve resurrected the poem I wrote last year about our Elf on the Shelf.


Dear Santa I failed

I have to admit

I can’t care for another

Even one that just sits



I have set him on fire

I have dropped him on his head

But he keeps coming back

It seems each year from the dead



My girls wait for his coming

How he moves through the air

And each morning I say

“Ah f*ck” he’s still there



See all part of the game

Is finding him each day

In his brand new spot

To watch  my girls play



But because I am lazy and

I suck at this game

I forget to move him

Now my kids think he’s lame


So I move him when I can

When they all turn their backs

I am so magical that way

They think I am whacked



Or perhaps while

They were at school he did walk

And though Astrid did see me do it

I thank god she can’t talk



So dear Santa I say

I don’t care whose been good

The elf  needs to stop haunting

My quiet neighborhood



I have too much to do

This game is quite dumb

My kids are too smart

My brain old and numb



I know people are rich

From this stupid charade

You have nothing to do with it

The parents this elf has played



But please end the madness

Can we all kill our elves?

And take Christmas back

and rely on goodness ourselves