This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Please Stop Ruining The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

I wrote this post a little over a week ago and I wasn't going to post it because I thought it was a little too snarky for the Holidays, but this morning all I have seen on TV is all of these stupid Christmas commercials.  And since this post was basically done, I figured I'd go ahead and share it with you all. 
Do me a favor and go ahead and click the flashing thing over there that says "Vote For Me On Top Mommy Blogs."  All you have to do is click on it and your vote is cast.  I have given up on winning any of the Blogger's Choice Awards that I was nominated for, but I'd love to get back into the Top 25 on Top Mommy Blogs for Christmas! 
I hope that each and everyone of you has a blessed and Merry Christmas, and I hope that you have enjoyed my ranting and raving and complaining this year.  I promise that there will be more to come in 2012!!

I love Christmas.  It is my absolute favorite time of the year.  I love everything about the holidays -- I love buying presents, I love decorating the tree (usually at my mom's house), I love the food, the family -- all of it.  I love to listen to my Christmas CD's while I bask in the glow of the artificial lights on my tree.  There is nothing better than Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald belting out the beautiful songs of the season -- it makes me happy.

You know what DOESN'T make me happy?  Stupid commercials that ruin my favorite Christmas music.  This year's biggest offender is Verizon.  I swear if I hear their "Walkin' in a 4G Wonderland" commercial one more time I might have to throat punch a pink haired elf.  And is it just me?  Or does that song sound an awful lot like they are singing about some magical land of debauchery -- "An Orgy Wonderland?"  Why must companies do this?  I picture some really bad boardroom back in July where a bunch of corporate sellouts sit around thinking up ways to ruin Christmas songs by changing the lyrics to fit their products.  I get the idea -- I have a degree in marketing -- they want consumers to see and hear their commercials and recognize the song and have it drilled into your subconscious so that when you sing the song to yourself you automatically revert to their horrible lyrics. But it doesn't make me want to buy their products.  It makes me all stabby feeling.

I do recall, however, one instance where this worked.  Garmin did a commercial featuring "The Carol of The Bells" and let's face it, no one outside of a choir knows the real lyrics to that song anyway.  And I still can't hear that song without singing "Gotta, gotta, get a Garmin" instead of "Merry, merry, merry Christmas" at the end.

But it isn't just the music.  The car commercials just kill me.  One of my Facebook friends posted something about the Lexus ads that really struck a chord with me:  "Ok really, who buys their spouse a $50,000.00 car for X-mas. Hey honey I went and bought you a Lexus for X-mas and the first $1,100 payment is due in 2 weeks. Go ahead and budget that in."  All I could think was "For real!"  I hate car commercials like that with the big red bow on the roof of the car -- who does that?  No one that I know.  At least the people over at Honda recognize the downturn in the economy -- their Christmas commercial is about buying "A Honda Certified USED Car."  Riiiiiight....Because I can afford to spend $15-20K on Christmas for ONE person.  I spent about $500 TOTAL on Christmas this year for EVERYONE and that was excessive and will require me to forgo any trips to Sonic or Starbucks for the next few months.

The Toys R Us Ads about "The lowest prices of the season!" every freakin' weekend make me think that the prices will go continually lower until the last weekend of the season before the New Year's ads start with all of their new markdowns. And their "2-Day Sale" ads make me and my kids hear "Tooting Sale" causing hours of fart jokes from the 10-year old and snorts of laughter from the 3 year old. Yaaaaaaaaaay.

And I swear on all that is Christmas if I have to hear one more exclamation that "He went to Jared" I am going to lose my mind.  No one I know went to Jared.  They went to Target, or Wal-Mart, or Amazon.  And after all of their annoying commercials about the guys who went to Jared and the female GPS that FORCES the driver to go to Jared (all I can think of is the movie "Christine" when I see that crap), if my husband ever went to Jared I'd be pissed.

Then there are the commercials that try to pull on your heartstrings and make you feel all sentimental and mushy. I'll admit, there have been Hallmark commercials that make me reach for the Kleenex, but there are many of them that fall horribly short. The ones with Dr. Quinn and her "If you leave your heart open, love can always find its way in" diamond pendants make me want to slap her in her big cheesy grinning mouth. And since we are talking about jewelry, let me address the biggest marketing scam of all time -- Chocolate Diamonds. Really, ANY colored diamonds. Diamonds, for millennia, have been graded on their purity and their clarity. So when a diamond was dark or dingy it was crap. Well, kudos to the marketing genius that came up with the whole colored diamond scam. And chocolate diamonds are so far away from diamonds that they are basically shiny rocks. No offense to you if you happen to like shiny rocks, I just don't like them or the fact that they call them diamonds.

No company is immune -- Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, Kohl's, Macy's, Sears, Penney's, etc.  They ALL have obnoxious sales touting the "Lowest prices of the year on top name brands!"  There are BOGO sales, door buster sales, midnight madness sales, and cyber sales.  There are coupons in your Sunday paper for extra discounts on top of the sales and if you sign up for their store credit card there are even MORE sales.  After all that, you'd think there would be some free crap (There's not, by the way.  I checked.)

The truth is, nothing kills my Christmas spirit and brings out my inner snark more than the Christmas commercials.  Christmas is commercial enough without having advertisers whore it up for us.    I am extremely thankful for my DVR which allows me to bypass all of the commercials because all of the ads make me a Scrooge.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa Mom

Today's post is for all of my fellow Santa Moms out there.  I wrote this variation on "Twas The Night Before Christmas" earlier this week, and I was going to wait to post it on Christmas Eve.  But, I started really thinking about it and I realized that the closer we get to Christmas, the less time all of us Santa Moms are going to have to sit around reading blogs -- no matter how awesome they are.  So I am posting it now so you will have plenty of time to read it and share it and promote it before you actually live it.  I know that many moms have a dad to help like I do, but there have been many years when the dad at this house was working the night before Christmas, and since I am a control freak, I generally don't let him do anything anyway. 
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Twas the night before Christmas
There was so much to do
Santa Mom sighed
Wondering when she'd be through

There were toys to assemble
Still presents to wrap
And all of those stockings
Had to be stuffed full of crap.

She put the minions to bed
And she sat and she waited
Until the giggles and whispers
Had completely abated

She put on the coffee
And as it was brewing
She got out her list
And she got straight to doing.

Cross-legged on the floor
She laid out the parts
Instructions and diagrams
And the insanity starts

There's German and French
Italian, Chinese
Where in the hell
Are the ENGLISH ones PLEASE?

Pieces A4 and B6
Are supposed to fit tight
C7 and 8 are just
Not looking right.

She stares at the picture
On the front of the package
And then down at the pile
To see how close the match is

There are some extra screws
And a washer or two
She drops those in the junk drawer
Beside the Super Glue

The toy is together
Just took a few hours
She gets ready to summon
Her Santa Mom powers

She stands staring down at
The thing she'd assembled
She thought how to wrap it
And she literally trembled

It won't go in a box
It won't fit 'neath the tree...
A trash bag and a bow!
"Looks good to me!"

Onto the next task
She must make haste
Christmas morning is coming
There's no time to waste!

The scissors are flying
There's tape in her hair
There's bows on her butt
And she just doesn't care

She pours "Santa's milk" in her coffee
And eats all the cookies
A crucial step
Often missed by the rookies.

She fills the all the stockings
Even dad's, dog's, and her own
The den looks like its been hit
By a Christmas cyclone

She collapses in bed
All done with her work
But before she drifts off
She sits up with a jerk

That damn Elf on the Shelf
Has to be put away
She was supposed to go back
In Santa's big sleigh.

A few hours later
The kids jump on her bed
She's grabbed by the hand
And to the den she is led

With so little sleep
She should be a grouch
But dad hands her her coffee
And she sinks into the couch

The packages she wrapped
Late into the night
Were attacked by the kids
And ripped open on sight

The kids are excited
They scream and they squeal
And Santa Mom knows
It was worth the ordeal

The magic of Christmas
Preserved one more year
Made special by mom
For those she holds dear

Who cares if the kids
Think Santa did all that crap
With legions of elves
To get the presents all wrapped?

One day they will know
It wasn't a fat man in a suit
Who created the the magic
And gave them their loot

She may not wear red
Or fly through the night
But Santa Mom knows
How to make Christmas bright.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Here's What I've Decided....

It is less than a week until Christmas and I am working on finding my merry & making it appear that the few presents that the kids are getting look like a lot more than they actually are. I am considering wrapping all of the 25 Lego pieces in the little box I got for William separately. Usually, they get one gift from Santa and one gift from us and their stocking. But I guess its the guilt this year, because I am trying to find other little things to wrap up for under the tree. I have decided to go by this nifty little poem that I saw somewhere (apologies if it was yours):

"Something you want, (A big present that is something they asked for)
Something you need, (An item like socks, underwear, or a new backpack)
Something to share, (Probably a game or a movie)
Something to read." (Obviously, a book)

I am adding a couple of lines.

Something to eat (Candy, popcorn, etc.)
And a group activity, (A craft set, a board game, etc.)
Something that's neat (This is literal -- something to help them organize their crap)
And something for charity. (We are giving each child a small amount of money to either donate or buy something to donate.)

Some of these will come from us, some from Santa. Some will be in their stockings, some under the tree, and the money for the charitable act we will hang onto until they decide what they want to do. (Or until we get it....) We have discussed charitable acts before with the kids. Jackson, the 3 year old doesn't get it. Lorelei, the 5 year old, will want to donate her money to an animal shelter. Bella, the (almost) 8 year old, will want to do toys for kids in the hospital or clothes or food for the homeless. And William, my sweet 10 year old, will no doubt have some specific kid or family in mind that he has quietly observed in need.

The truth is, as mad as my kids make me sometimes, they are (in general) awesome.  And it is not their fault that we are stuck in Texas this year.  It is just one of those things.  I think that the list is a great idea, it works with any budget (even our limited one this year) and it is an awesome guideline to keep from going overboard.  Even when I'm feeling guilty about them (and me) missing out on all of the Alabama fun. 

My mom is constantly telling me that "Happiness is a choice" but lately I guess that I have decided to not be happy, because I've been a Grinch about Christmas.  Everything that my kids wanted was out of our budget (heck, everything that me and my husband wanted was out of our budget) and I found myself wallowing in self pity about everything we COULDN'T have or that we COULDN'T do.  It occurred to me that I'm not practicing what I preach with my kids.  I tell them all of the time that "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."  Well, truth is, we've got quite a lot.

And you know what?  It will be okay.  We will still have a good Christmas.  No, it will be a GREAT Christmas.  I've decided.  Period.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Bit Naughty

Well, after all of my self-pity last week, Jackson had to remind me that I have other things to be worrying about.

He came running into the living room one afternoon, completely naked and excited and yelling.

"MOM! I made a J! For my name!! Come see!!!"
"Why are you naked?"
"Because I made a J! Come see!!"

So I got up, and followed him into his room where he had "made a J."

By peeing on the recliner.  He was so proud of his "J" that he had precisely pissed onto the back of the seat.  I was not as impressed....

Then, he asked for Jello.  I said maybe after dinner.  So without asking and in his usual stealth mode, he got into the fridge and ate at least 3 handfuls of Jello. 

Then Friday night, he found an envelope of hot chocolate mix, tore it open, dumped it on the couch and ate all of the little dehydrated marshmallows out of it.  Now every time I vacuum it smells like cocoa.  While I was playing on the computer, he went to the kitchen, used a step stool to climb up onto the counter, opened the cabinet, and proceeded to finish of an entire bag of mini-marshmallows. 

And yesterday, he drank syrup straight from the bottle and got it all over his shirt. 

This kid's quest for sugar is never ending.

And, just now, I caught him in the kitchen again.  He had gotten into the fridge and was standing there with the door open, spraying "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray into his mouth.  He is such a little freak.  And he gets into stuff that the other 3 never even thought of.

No wonder our Elf on the Shelf, "Snowflake" labeled his baby picture "A little bit naughty" last week.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stuck On The Dark Side -- And There Are No Cookies

I am in a funk again. 

I'm in a funk because my kid is having surgery, which is eating up all of our Christmas money and preventing me from going home to be with the rest of my crazy family or see my friends.  And yes, I am feeling sorry for myself. 

But I can't show it to my kids -- especially not the oldest girl who is having the surgery.

I have to be the happy, bubbly, optimistic mom who is thrilled to be making new traditions instead of celebrating the perfectly good traditions that have been in place for 37 years.  I have to pretend that it is okay that I am forfeiting one of 2 trips "home" to Alabama a year.  I have to fake being excited about making my own breakfast pizza on Christmas morning and not having homemade oatmeal raisin cookies that my mom made.  I had to tell my parents and my in-laws not to buy gifts for my husband or myself, because the only thing we need is money for my daughter's surgery.  Don't get me wrong -- we are not destitute or anything, but it just seems like every freaking year we have some major expense.  One year , we moved from Georgia to Texas, one year we had Jackson and a tubal, one year the girls had their tonsils out, one year the husband had a mastoidectomy (they cut off his ear and removed a bone in his ear canal), and EVERY year, we spend thousands of dollars on a lost cause -- the van.

I'm having trouble finding the bright side, and I'm having trouble faking it.

I want to go home for Christmas, but it just isn't possible this year. 

It's not just that. 

I will miss the giving and getting of super awesome, jaw-dropping gifts.  I know that Christmas is not about the gifts, but I LOVE giving presents.  I love the look on my friends' and families' faces as they get something that they weren't expecting -- especially my kids.  I put a lot of thought into the gifts I choose to give.  I am not a big "gift card" person and I don't like the generic gifts.  I like for the gifts to be something that the recipient REALLY wants -- their favorite wine, the perfect accessory for their favorite outfit, a bootleg CD of their favorite artist -- you get the idea.  And we usually do a couple of angels off of the Angel trees, but not this year (yes, the surgery is THAT expensive).  This year, we are seriously budget conscious.  We are always budget conscious.  It gets old. 

And I would be a total liar if I said I didn't also love getting presents.  I mean, its not that I was expecting a new min-van (although I could really use one to replace my 1999 Town and Country), but Christmas is usually the ONE time a year that we are a little frivolous.  Christmas is the one time of year that we cheat a little on the budget and try to get whatever usually seems just out of reach.  Christmas is the one time of year when I can expect something like a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure, or to get my inch long roots attended to, or a nice pair of earrings or a sweater or something else that I would never buy for myself.  Before the news of the surgery and medical bill that is coming along with it, the hubby was going to get me a netbook.  But not now.  Now I'll probably get a candle and some bath salts from the kids and nothing from the hubby.  And the parents and in-laws usually do even MORE for us -- I mean, there is usually the practical stuff -- a grocery and/or gas card, a Costco membership, a little cash to help meet that renewed deductible -- but then there are the extravagant gifts too -- a cashmere sweater, jewelry, electronics, etc.  And I love getting the helpful things and I really love getting the gifts that I would never get for myself.  I was going to ask for a Nook or a Kindle, but instead this year, I'm getting help with a medical bill.  YAAaaaay.......

So, in an attempt to snap myself out of this funktastic funk, the hubby and I are going to exchange a special "gift"with one another.  We are going to make a list of things that we'd like to get each other, accompanied by a statement of what we are thankful for in one another.  I don't mean the things that we would NEVER buy -- no Tuscan Villas or private islands -- but stuff we wish we had the money for this year.  For example, I wish I could replace his 1997 Buick Le Sabre with a newer, nicer car.  But I am thankful for him working a job that he doesn't like so that I can stay home with our kids.  He might say that he wishes he could get me a netbook to write on so that I didn't have to worry about the computer locking up on me every time I try to write a blog, or a new camera, or that Nook or Kindle I wanted.  It's hard to stay all sad and cynical when you are thinking of things you are thankful for.  And I really WANT to be happy.  I want to be appreciative of the fact that my daughter's knee problem is fixable and not all that serious.  I want to be thankful of all of my many, many blessings. 

But for now, I seem to be stuck here on the dark side.  In Texas.  With no homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fa-La-La-La-La, Wah, Wah, Wah, WAH!

Sorry its been more than a week since my last post, but it has been one heck of a week.  My in-laws came for Thanksgiving and stayed through Sunday.  I realized that I have somehow managed to lose my charger for my digital SLR camera, and I have looked EVERYWHERE.  Monday I had to fast for a procedure that I had on Tuesday, and the husband switched back to 3rd shift (that's right, after a full 4 weeks on 1st shift, they have now rotated him to 3rd).  Also on Monday, we had to take the nearly 8 year old to the doctor about her swollen knee, and ultimately had to take her for an MRI where we discovered that she had a torn meniscus.  Tuesday, I had a procedure all morning and spent the afternoon in the bed.  Wednesday and Thursday were normal craziness made a little nuttier by the addition of Vicodin, and then Friday happened. 

On Friday, the 2 oldest went to school like always, but I knew that I had to pick up Bella to take her to the orthopedic surgeon later that afternoon.  Now, in an attempt to expedite this process in the hopes that whatever needed to be done for her knee could be handled before January 1st when the insurance resets and out huge deductible starts over, I agreed to take her to the doctor's OTHER office.  The main office is in Fort Worth, about 20 minutes away.  The "other " office is in Hurst.  I had no idea where Hurst was exactly, but according to Mapquest, it was about 35 minutes away and I said that it was worth it.  Her appointment was at 2:45, so I planned to check her out of school about 1:30 (just in case) and to give us plenty of time to get there and complete any necessary paperwork and such. (I really wanted to fool this new doctor's office into thinking that I was a super-responsible parent and not the slacker that I really am).  So with the younger 2 in tow, I got to the school and signed out my daughter.  We got about 10 minutes away from the school when they called to let me know that the oldest had just thrown up all over the place.  (He was supposed to go home with his best friend).  Soooo, we turned around and went back to the school to get him, putting us off our schedule by nearly 30 minutes.  Then, turns out that Mapquest's 35 minute estimate was off by at least 10 minutes and there was Friday afternoon traffic to contend with so we were pushing it to get there on-time, and we ended up being about 5 minutes late.  Oh well, better to not give the office any false hope of future performance on my part.

The doctor informed us that her meniscus in her knee is malformed, and that is probably why it tore.  It is supposed to be a thin C-shaped thing under her kneecap but hers is a thick disc.  They will have to do a laproscopic procedure to go in and trim away the excess of the disc and make it the C-shape that it is supposed to be.  The thickness of it cannot be fixed.  And her other knee, that isn't torn (yet) has the same malformity.  They will not do anything to it unless it also tears someday.  The problem is, that many children who need orthopedic surgeries schedule it for the 2 weeks at the end of the year when school is already out, so we won't know until Monday if they can get us in before the end of the year or not.  If they CAN fit her in, then we cannot go home to Alabama for Christmas because it would be bad to try to make her ride in a car for 13 hours.  If they cannot fit us in, then she will have to have the surgery after the first of the year when our deductible starts over and the surgery will cost us about $1,500 MORE than it will before the end of the year, and we really shouldn't spend the money that it would take to make the 1,500 mile round trip to go home for Christmas. 

So we will be having our first Christmas in Texas. 


If you read my post from before Thanksgiving, you know that I have not decorated for Christmas in 5 years.  Not since Christmas 2006, before we moved here from Georgia.  We moved over the Holidays in 2007, so I did not put up a tree that year.  I have/had a very nice artificial tree.  It has been in a box for 5 years.  We will most likely have to replace it.  We have lights and ornaments, but the lights probably don't work anymore.  We figure that we are going to have to spend about $300 to make this happen.  But creating that Christmas vibe that my kids are used to having from the decorations at their grandparents homes is worth it. 

In addition to having to worry about the safety of my child as she undergoes the knee surgery, the major medical bills that will be coming regardless of when the surgery happens, and all of the hassle of having toun-wrapped presents from Santa, eat our traditional Christmas morning breakfast pizza, settle into the den around the tree with fresh cups of coffee to watch as everyone rips into the 5 gazillion wrapped presents under the tree.  As soon as that madness is over, we get dressed and drive the 6 or 7 miles to my husband's parents house where the cycle repeats.  Santa must be confused because he also leaves my kids stockings over there.  Then there are 500 more presents from Grandma and Papa Raffy, and we eat again -- a huge spread of ham, rice, green beans, and tons of other stuff, followed by a traditional Puerto Rican Flan for dessert.  At some point after Christmas Day, we travel south to Tuscaloosa where we spend the day with my great-aunt Martha.  No presents at this feast, but what a feast.  Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash casserole, green beans, fresh rolls, and at least one dessert choice per person -- sugar cookies that melt on your tongue, moist oatmeal raisin cookies, red velvet cake, chocolate pie, pecan pie, lemon meringue pie, hot fruit compote, pumpkin pie, and at least one other type of cookie, cake or pie to choose from.  I usually gain about 5 pounds over the Christmas holidays. 

But I will miss all of that this year.

To add insult to injury, other than the purchases I made here on Small Business Saturday, I ordered all of our Christmas presents online....and shipped them to Alabama.  I decided that it would be easier than trying to hide them here for weeks and pack them into the car without being seen with the kids.  Craptastic.  I guess that is what happens when I try to be efficient and plan ahead.

And I cannot let my incredibly sensitive daughter know how sad it makes me to be missing out on my Alabama Christmas because she already feels like not going to Alabama is her fault thanks to her incredibly insensitive big brother who said "Thanks a lot Bella" when we informed our kids that we will not be making the trip "home."

So today we are getting ready to go out and find our Holiday Cheer, and I find myself wishing that some of those Facebook friends who finished decorating their houses and doing all of their Christmas shopping right after Halloween were here to help me.

Hey, you can help make my Christmas a little bit better, by voting for me!  Click that little brown button and vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs!  :)