Slacky Christmas and an Anticlimactic New Year

My favorite part about the holiday season is the spirit of giving.

... Okay, it's the family togetherness.

... Okay, it's the decorations.

... Okay, okay, I admit it! It's the yummy treats! The cookies! The dips! The candy! The trays of delectable goodies that my awesome neighbors bring over (from three different houses this year)! Remember my holiday diet? And the competition that my brother and my husband and I were having to see who could lose the most weight? Well - I won (duh!), losing ten pounds between Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas.

But the other day I weighed.



And that made me depressed so naturally I remedied it with some ice cream. And some pizza. And some spray whipped cream straight from the can. And my couch and my pajamas.


Anyway, despite the disheartening numbers on the scale (which I will start working on come January, like 99% of everyone else), I had a great Christmas. My brother was here, and I haven't gotten to celebrate Christmas with him in a few years, so that was awesome. Almost as awesome as his face in this picture.

Mr. "Nobody-Wants-a-Mug" didn't seem overly thrilled about receiving a sweet pair of men's Pajama Jeans, either.

As always, it was fun to see the kids so excited. We don't buy our kids a lot of stuff, so they're always super-thrilled about every little thing they get on Christmas.

Thrift store copy of Captain Underpants: 99 cents. The way Cameron is eyeing it: priceless.

My holiday took a turn for the better - or for the worse, depending on how you look at it - when Colin got Sim City 4 for his computer.

He was so stoked. Clearly. But when he started playing, it was a little too involved and complex for him and he got kind of bored. You have to, like, provide your city with transportation and electricity and water and manage your government and problem-solve and I think he just wanted to build stuff. So I thought, what the heck? I'll give it a try. And I installed it on my laptop.

Y'all? I pretty much spent like three days straight in a Sim City 4-induced blur. Things crumbled around me as I played. My kids ate Doritos for breakfast. My clean laundry mildewed in the washer. Nobody wore pants. And things like this happened:

Yes. That is a mattress propped up against my couch. And yes. That blurry streak is Cameron somersaulting down it. This, of course, was taken right before they got the brilliant idea to slide down said mattress in an empty laundry basket.

Yes. I let good and responsible parenting/housekeeping/personal hygiene slide because I was gaming. So sue me. The kids had a good time. But you know it's bad when your husband - who normally seems impervious to clutter and housework in general - starts casting pointed glances at you as he loads the dishwasher and wipes down the counters.*

*On second thought, perhaps I should completely zone out more often.

Anyway, now it's the last day of the year, which kind of floors me because I like just got used to writing "2013." Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999, which was the year I was nineteen. Which means I'm going to put on a cute outfit with a push-up bra and drink a lot and dance a lot and experiment with various drugs and stay out until I see the sun.

Hahahaha! I can barely type that with a straight face. Everybody knows I'm going to party like I'm thirty-three. Which means I'm going to eat a bunch of snacks "since my diet starts tomorrow" and fall asleep on the couch trying to stay up until midnight to watch the televised coverage of the ball dropping in Times Square.

Bringing it in with a bang, y'all.

Ugly Mug

I'm the kind of shopper you'll find scrambling through the store on Christmas Eve, frantically combing the picked-over merchandise for the perfect last-minute gift (and typically settling on something totally lame and cheesy, like a pair of socks. And then wrapping them like this).

This year, on Christmas Eve-eve, I found myself with only one more present to buy: something for my mom. At the beginning of the holiday season, I had grandiose visions of buying her this pair of pricey mini-chandeliers she wants. Then I realized that would be expensive and, hey, I've got tons of kids to buy for. So I thought I'd just give her one chandelier. But then the month wore on, and I still hadn't bought it. Then I ended up missing a week of work due to being sick and, therefore, missing a week's paycheck. That left me kicking myself two days before Christmas, wishing I'd put a little more effort into it.

My brother Steve, who my sister swears is Mom's favorite, came up here to spend Christmas with us. And he brought her a Keurig - you know, one of those fancy-schmancy one-cup coffee makers? Yeah. I resigned myself to the fact that, financially, I wouldn't be able to top that ... and the award for the best gift would have to go to my brother this year.

So I thought that maybe since she had the Keurig now, I'd get her a special mug to drink her coffee out of. I had visions of finding her the perfect cup - maybe something in her favorite colors with a nice design. I pictured her smiling as she filled it with coffee from her Keurig, thinking fondly of her children every time she raised it to her lips.

But standing behind me in the aisle at Walmart, my brother popped that bubble. "A mug?" he scoffed loudly.

"What's wrong with a mug?"

I had asked for a simple answer, but ended up getting a tirade. "Seriously? A mug? Nobody wants a mug!" Steve railed, waving his hands. "I've gotten mugs as gifts before. They're so generic. Like ties. Trust me ... NOBODY wants a mug."

It was this surprisingly impassioned anti-mug rant that led me to buy something else for Mom's Christmas present. It is also the reason why, as soon as we got home, I let Steve open his Christmas present early.

"Oh my God ... it's a mug, isn't it?"

He asserted that since it was shaped like a toilet, it was okay.

... For a mug.


First it was our neighbors. Then it was our other neighbors. Then it was my mom.

Do you have any Pepto? I'm, she texted. (Mom has yet to master the whole texting phenomenon.) But I didn't need the rest of the text to understand: she was sick with a stomach virus. And she was just at my house for, like, the whole weekend. Between her and the rest of the neighborhood, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it would only be a matter of time before the yucky germ infested someone else. Someone close to home. But I chose to be optimistic. "We're all healthy!" I said out loud (and overly enthusiastically) to no one in particular, as though simply sending the words out into the atmosphere would make it true.

You have to understand my aversion to vomit. It's not just that it grosses me out - on top of that, it gives me, like, a panic attack. At the first sign of a gag, or even an "I-think-I'm-gonna-barf" face, my heart starts racing and I literally feel fear. You can imagine how I feel when a stomach virus sweeps through the house. But as a mom, I have no choice; these things must be dealt with, and dads are great at dramatically pretending they can't handle it.

My mom wanted sweet tea, so I made a pitcher and dropped it off at her house, trying to talk without breathing too deeply as she told me about how she'd thrown up all night long. When I got back into the car, where I'd made the kids wait, Colin was like, "My stomach hurts."

"You're fine!" I chirped. "Just fine!" Lord please just let it be that he's hungry or he has to poop or something.

We got home. I was making dinner. Colin was laying on the couch watching TV. And then:

"Mommy!" he whimpered. "I accidentally threw up on the couch."


Most moms are kind and patient and sympathetic when their kids are puking, right? My own mom used to rub my back as I heaved into the toilet. But I'm not like that. Call me a terrible parent, call me callous and insensitive, but I can't deal - especially when I know that the puker in question is well old enough to make it to the toilet.

Sure enough, "I accidentally threw up on the couch" was an understatement. He may as well have said, "The lasagna I had for lunch only half-digested and is now splattered on the seat, back, arm, between the cushions, dripping off my chin and forearms, all over the comforter I dragged off the bed, and oh yeah, on these two pillows."

"Colin!" I shrieked. "You know that when you throw up you have to get to the toilet!"

"I tried," the poor guy said weakly. "I'm sorry, Mommy."

But "sorry" doesn't clean up the couch and wash the comforter. I put Colin in the shower and set about cleaning and disinfecting. (And yes, later I told him I felt bad that he's sick and rubbed his back. But NOT while he was barfing.)

So now it's official. The stomach virus is in the house. It's only a matter of time. I'm preparing for it the way someone might prepare for a major snowstorm or, you know, an apocalypse. Laundering all the bedding and towels, stocking up on medicine and clear fluids, gathering up my antibacterial cleaning products, spraying everything with disinfectant, washing my hands until my knuckles are raw.

And as if on cue, I just glanced at Coby, who was standing very still in the kitchen. When I asked if he was feeling okay he said, "Yeah. Well, sort of okay. My stomach is kind of hurtable."

Break out the sanitizer. I think we're in for it.

POST-SCRIPT: I'm writing this two days later because I couldn't get out of bed to post the original. Just as I thought, Coby was the next to come down with the ick. And as I lay there awake in bed that night, listening for the first sign of a cough or gurgle from the other rooms, I started to shiver. Then I started to feel nauseated. I willed it away, but no matter how hard I wished, by morning it had hit me like a truck. Let me tell you: nothing is more SUPER AWESOME than changing diarrhea diapers and watching other people vomit while you're trying to hold it all back yourself.

Not only that, but while I was sick, the kids got better. So they took full advantage of my convalescence and ran amok, as largely unsupervised little boys tend to do. Which is why every single room in my house pretty much looks like this, or worse:

Note the vacuum sitting there ... as if somebody's gonna use it. Haha.

Yesterday I mustered all the strength I could gather, peeled myself out of bed, and disinfected every knob, handle, remote, and toilet in the house. Cameron and Curtis still haven't gotten the virus - plus my brother is coming this weekend - so I'm trying to get a handle on it before anyone else falls victim. My hands are as dry as freaking sandpaper, but at least my toilets are sanitized.

Today I'm dressed. I look normal. I'm not throwing up. But I still feel like I have either a.) morning sickness or b.) a massive hangover. Neither of which are fun when you've got a massive housecleaning to undertake and four children to threaten care for.

At least maybe I lost a few pounds ...

20 Gifts You Won't Find Under the Tree

I'm not gonna lie: if somebody were to slip, say, a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer or a zombie-themed, well, anything under my tree, I'd be a pretty merry Mommy. But sometimes the best things you can get aren't actually things. There are plenty of little gifts that life sometimes gives us ... things you could never wrap up in a box, but that are AWESOME just the same. (You've gotta find joy in the simple things, right?) Here, in no particular order, are a few that I appreciate.

1. Those times when you ask your kids what they want to eat and they're just like, "Cereal!"
2. When your kid actually lets you wipe his nose/clip his nails/wash his hair without putting up a fight
3. Skinny days
4. When someone takes a photo of you at exactly the right angle and you look great. Bonus points if they tag you in it on Facebook.
5. Snagging a great parking spot. Especially if it's cold. Extra-especially if it's busy.
6. Finding money. Any amount. Anywhere. The bottom of your purse, the back of your drawer, an old coat pocket ...
7. Seeing a photo of a celebrity who didn't magically lose their baby weight within half an hour of giving birth.
8. Hearing, "Let's just order a pizza."
9. When someone else buys your lunch. Especially if you didn't know beforehand that they were buying, and you didn't even try to be frugal when you ordered.
10. When your kid takes an extra-long nap.
11. When someone cancels plans you wish you didn't have to begin with.
12. Doing something exactly right on the first try. Bonus points if it's something from Pinterest.
13. When it's not your kid throwing the tantrum at the grocery store/restaurant/church.
14. When there actually is something good on TV.
15. Going to the grocery store by yourself.
16. The feeling of taking off your shoes/bra/other constrictive garments at the end of the day.
17. Running into someone you know when you actually do look decent (not like this past Saturday when I went to the eye doctor fresh from the shower with zero makeup on and my hair pulled back into a bun and happened to run into my kids' pediatrician who happens to be sort of cute)
18. Going to the bathroom alone. Bonus points if no one knocks and/or shoves things underneath the door.
19. Hitting all the green lights.
20. When you say "no" and it isn't followed by "But whyyyyy?" or "Pleeeeeeease?" or an incessant repetition of the question or some sort of tantrum.

... Oh wait. #20 doesn't really happen.

Well anyway. You get my point. Sometimes there are moments when life tosses you a little break - and it's just like a present. Minus the wrapping paper that you feel guilty for not recycling.

Snot: a Problem

'Tis the season!

No, I'm not talking about the holidays. Although 'tis that season too. No, what I'm talking about is far less enjoyable.

Snot, y'all.

All my kids, it seems, have almost-perpetually snotty noses this time of year. It's disgusting. We go through tissues like someone is eating them.*

*Okay, so Cameron may actually be eating them ... but you know what I mean. 

But despite the mass consumption of Kleenex, I feel like I still deal with an inordinately large amount of mucus around this piece. When the kids were all little, I had to worry about them wiping their noses on me. I had snot smears on every single garment I ever attempted to wear within five minutes of putting it on.

Now, though, I'm in an extra-special position. Because having an eight-year-old, a five-year-old, a four-year-old, and an eighteen-month-old, I have all kinds of different booger disposal methods to deal with: it's not just wiping noses on Mommy's pants and/or shoulders any more.

Take, for example, my eight-year-old. He's obviously old enough to know better than to wipe his snot on me; he's evidently not old enough, however, to remember to use a tissue every single time. Because he has this habit of running his snotty nose along the length of his sleeve, as though he couldn't possibly take the time out of tinkering with his computer or playing with his LEGOs or tormenting his brothers to actually go and get a Kleenex and use that. His sleeves are always streaked with vague dry smears of white. Blecch.

Then there's my five-year-old, who is apparently just as busy as his older brother - because instead of fetching a tissue, he just uses the handy built-in utensil I like to call HIS TONGUE. Blecch. Got a pesky blob of green goo streaming from your nose? No biggie - just a couple of licks and it's gone. This, however, creates a different problem: a horribly chapped, red, scaly area that not only encompasses his upper lip but the skin under his nose. So he walks around looking like he's sporting one hell of a Kool-Aid mustache unless I slather it with heavy-duty moisturizer three or four times a day. During which he screams "My liiiiiiips!" like someone is trying to murder him and I yell, "Then use a Kleenex and stop licking them!" Over. And over. And over. It's like ... it never actually sinks in.

When this isn't happening, you can find him at any given time with a finger wedged firmly in his nostril. Who knows: maybe he's trying to plug it so it won't run. Or maybe he's trying to touch his brain.

Either way, I just hope he outgrows all this before he tries to, you know, get a girlfriend.

And my four-year-old. He doesn't eat his boogers, thank goodness, but that's only because he seems horrified by snot in general. When his nose starts to run, he starts to scream - and doesn't stop until I've had a heart attack and rushed over to see if he's bleeding. "My nooooooose!" he bellows, in a tone that would usually be reserved for someone trying to snatch it off his face.

He is perfectly capable of reaching the tissues. He is perfectly capable of wiping his own nose (and he's learning to blow, unlike the time he shoved a popcorn kernel up there). I'm not sure what the deal is, but a runny nose renders him temporarily helpless. And more than slightly annoying.

Most of the time, I don't wish the years away. I try to take the advice of all the wise mothers who came before me, who tell me, "It goes so fast. They'll be grown up before you know it." BUT. When it comes to everyone controlling their own bodily functions - properly - I'm pretty sure I'm willing to hit the fast-forward button on that one.

PS - Don't forget to enter the giveaway for an awesome pair of Jax In-Ear Headphones from SOL REPUBLIC! Winner will be announced tomorrow and your odds are GREAT at this point! Just click on the "Giveaways & Reviews" tab at the top of the page!


I'm dieting, which is probably the stupidest thing a person can attempt at this time of year. Ugh.

Normally I have a strict no-diet policy. I try to make decent food choices as often as I can (which is how I lost over 100 pounds), but when it comes right down to it - I'm a foodie, y'all. Cooking and serving and eating makes my heart happy.

Unfortunately, it also makes my thighs huge and my ass wobbly and my stomach floppy and my chin double. (Yet has zero effect on my boobs, which is a ridiculous level of unfair.) I do teach Zumba three times a week, but when you love buffets and baking, it takes more than three hours of Zumba to keep those extra pounds at bay. So I find them creeping up. And my clothes start to fit snugly. And ain't nobody got time for that.

Anyway, I'm dieting now because my brother Steve and Curtis (the husband) and I entered into a friendly competition to see who can lose the most weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And by "friendly" I mean "I'm gonna win at all costs, suckas." Did I mention I can be overly a little competitive? I'm at an automatic disadvantage to start out with because men lose weight faster (the jerks). Yesterday, for example, Curtis went to the grocery store - and came back with three fresh pizzas from their deli.

"What the -!" I exclaimed. "What about our diet?"

"I've lost ten pounds," he shrugged, mumbling through a gooey mouthful of pizza.


Meanwhile I'm feeling guilty about the 230-calorie yogurt I had for breakfast (but seriously, have you tried Chobani Flips? This is totally not a sponsored post - I wish! - but I ADORE those things. The Key Lime Crumble and Almond Coco Loco are out of this world). And he's scarfing down pizza like Weight Watchers is paying him to eat it.

It's a horrible time of year to diet because everywhere I go, there are cookies hitting me in the face. Not literally (although that would be kind of awesome), but you know what I mean. I open up a magazine: hot tips for holiday decorating, look great at your company party, CHRISTMAS COOKIIIIEEEEES. I see a sign advertising a holiday festival: fun and games for the kids, free photos with Santa, CHRISTMAS COOKIIIIEEEEEES. My boys bring home a list of holiday traditions they came up with for an assignment at school: trimming the tree, reading Christmas books, CHRISTMAS COOKIIIIIEEEEES.

And there's the aisles at every store. Overflowing with treats. My Facebook feed, where everybody is posting recipes for various holiday hors d'oeuvres involving cream cheese and/or bacon and/or crescent rolls and/or those little bitty fattening sausages. I don't even dare go near Pinterest.

All this is combined with my (unfortunate) instinctive urge to practically live in the kitchen this time of year. As soon as the cold weather hits, I'm in there cooking up hearty soups - you want a good recipe, click here or here - and baking bread and whipping up comfort foods and did somebody say dessert? CHRISTMAS COOKIES MAYBE?!?

So yeah. I've been struggling a little bit lately. I'll be glad to get a few of these pounds off, and if I win the competition I'll certainly enjoy the bragging rights, but man. Of all the times to try and do it. Why can't I just hibernate?

Speaking of winning - I've got an awesome giveaway going on right now! Somebody's gonna win a pair of spectacular Jax In-Ear Headphones from SOL REPUBLIC! Click on the "Giveaways & Reviews" tab to check it out.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to trying not to think about Christmas cookies.

... Damn it.


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