Let's be real, being a kid is hard work.
Not to throw myself a pity party, but... you're now all invited to my pity party - 7pm my place, bring your own chocolate...to give to me.
You see, my firstborn - as they say in Biblical terms (seems appropriate given that Christmas is next week) - had her school's "winter celebration" performance last night. She was so insanely excited for this performance. We're talking like Pee-Wee-Herman-riding-his-bike excited.
The problem came when I received a phone call at 10am yesterday. It was her school. She had a fever and had to come home, never to return again (until her fever had been gone for at least 24 hours). In other words, she couldn't go to the winter celebration.
Her heart broke. Mine broke even more. We cried in the school parking lot together. She was going to be the bell ringer in the performance. The freaking bell ringer, people. (I have no idea what the means, but it was apparently important to her.) It could have been a featured flick on the Hallmark channel that only plays Sunday nights. It was seriously the most heartbreak I've felt for my child thus far.
That's us being fake sad... I'm way better at it than her
What are you all doing just sitting there reading this? Somebody grab me a tissue for crepe's sake!
Anyway, it triggered some of my own childhood heartbreaks and the lessons we all have to learn through life about disappointment.
Like the time my mom packed orange juice in my sack lunch and it leaked out onto my lap during the bus ride to school. The girl sitting next to me looked at me in horror; strange liquid moving its way from my buttocks area, across the brown naugahyde seat and seeping into her pants. The bus driver made me stay on to help clean it up. Nobody at school believed me when I said it was orange juice dried all over my crotch. It was a harsh day. But hey, I learned my lesson: instead of asking for juice again, I started to ask my mom to put a quarter in my sack lunch to buy milk at school (I would inevitably throw the quarter away every day along with my paper bag lunch after eating...and then panic and debate digging in the trash to retrieve it. More often than not, my street-smarts told me that my reputation was way more valuable than that quarter.)
Or, that time when I had a crush on a boy named Josh something or another and he had a rattail. Does anyone remember rattails? We've got beards and moustaches back in full force, when are rattails going to make their comeback? Anyway, in my early-nineties-pre-teenage mind, I somehow thought it was hot. But, as everybody must learn at some point in life (unless you're Angela Jolie), sometimes you just aren't cool enough for the boy with the rattail. I dunno, maybe it had something to do with my outfit choices?
But, hey - redemption here, guys! This story isn't all soggy sad clouds. Mr. Rattail totally asked me to dance with him when it was boys' pick during gym-class square dancing later that year. Aw yeah. High fives all around the world.
Remember that one time when I thought my book would be most appealing to college-aged girls and instead it's on the best-seller lists in retirement communities?
So, here I am, a month plus as a published author (I know, seasoned, right?) and I'm learning that publishing a book is very similar to childbirth. Hear me out...
First, there's the gestation period. Every so often it's a fun ride, but more often than not, you find yourself cursing like a crazy woman at the giant bulge growing out of you a la Alien. You count down the seconds until the baby finally decides to grace the world with its presence. You're desperate. You try to reason with the bulge—willing to offer your firstborn in exchange for its swift cooperation. Then you remember, the bulge and your firstborn are actually the same thing.
Next comes the delivery. It's a bit of a whirlwind. You're not really sure how it actually happened, but you remember lots of screaming, gnashing of teeth, and other Old Testament-y type stuff. And then, by some miracle, your baby is on the outside of you. You look lovingly at it, planning every second of its life. In an instant, you become a mother. And with that transition, you suddenly (assume you) know every single thing about this child. It will always listen to you and will always follow the exact life path you have planned for it. Mother knows best, right?
But, in the blink of an eye, your baby starts to grow up and, much to your shock, it has a mind of its own. It gets a nose ring and a tattoo. It has its first wild rager at your house while you're away. Okay, so we're not quite there yet, but it turns out my book has its own ideas of what it wants to become.
You see, I was just sure that my book's target demographic would be 20-something girls in the midst of discovering their own versions of strong and being able to relate to my stories.
That was, until my 85-year-old father-in-law got a copy and fell in love with it. Not only that, he bought 20 - yes twenty - copies and handed them out to all of his sweet friends in his retirement community. And they love it. He's even getting ready to order another handful of copies.
I'm as popular as Matlock.
So there it is, my book loves hanging out with grandparents. And grandparents love hanging out with my book. In fact, my book is planning a tour of Christmas caroling throughout the nation's retirement homes. I kid, I kid. Or maybe I don't. I'm not sure - maybe it really is practicing the alto part of "Joy to the World" as we speak...I have no control of anything anymore.
In a world with some very serious debates going on—gun control, immunizations, blue/black or white/gold dress—one has been at the top of my mind this past week.
To real Christmas tree, or not to real Christmas tree.
Growing up, we always had a fake tree, it was just the way it was and it worked. When I met a beautiful Jewish boy who had never tracked Santa Claus' Christmas Eve journey or made himself sick on egg nog and cookie sprinkles, he loved the idea of getting a real tree. Who was I to argue? Whatever would spark the Christmas elf in my Jew.
Here's a history of our relationship by Christmas tree:
Year 1 - Tiny Rosemary Tree. It's important to not overwhelm your Jew by introducing too much at first. The lovely pine smell of a real Christmas tree would have simply been sensory overload.
Year 2 - I like to imagine that we got this looker of a tree from one of those farms where firefighters sell the trees they had to chop down to help prevent forest fires, so you don't feel bad when your tree looks...well, like this...because at least you prevented a forest fire. Alas, I don't think that was the case. Can I somehow blame the Christmas mishap on being hugely pregnant?
Year 3 - I have no recollection of anything Christmas-tree related this year, but here's a picture of some adorable baby goats.
Year 4 - This is where it starts to get good. Because this happened
Year 5 - We really hit our stride. Not only did we drive up the mountains A la Clark Griswold to cut down our own tree...
...but we also captured the joy that is ugly Christmas sweaters in front of the tree! Year 5 was operation "fully immerse Bill into Christmas" year.
We really have a thing for being pregnant around a Christmas tree...I don't know...
Year 6 - After going so big the year before, we calmed things down a bit and just got our tree at our local grocery store. And then didn't take any pictures of it. They called us Mellow Yellow.
Year 7, aka, yesterday - I've been shamelessly eavesdropping on conversations lately about Christmas Tree Conversion. People who once swore by real Christmas trees have taken the plunge to go fake and now can't imagine their life before. Sort of similar to when I eavesdrop on conversations about boob jobs, but that's a post for another day.
I brought the topic up with Bill, who listened intently, like the great husband he is, and then reminded me that the magic of Christmas for him is picking out a real tree. So, we went to our local hardware store (because yes, they sell Christmas trees.) (Because yes, it's better than your local hardware store.) (McGuckins, you can make a check directly out to me for the shout out, thanks.) Only, McGuckins is a little bit too cool and their tree selection is absurd. It felt like I was on a game show where nobody prepped me for the questions:
- Which varietal tree is your favorite?
- What size do you want?
- Snow frosted?
- Who was the only James Bond to kiss less than eight hundred women in a single movie (trick question, none of them)
Some people get meat sweats. I get shopping sweats. When there's an overwhelming amount of options in a purchasing situation, I lock up.
I panicked and pointed to the first one I saw, then ran into a corner to rock myself back into sanity. I left my husband to make the call. He went with the one I pointed at, coaxed me out of my corner, and we merrily went on our way to set up our tree.
His first comment on the way home was about how nice it was that the kind people of McGuckins shaved down the bottom of the tree for us so he didn't have to pull out his chainsaw (re: Year 5.) Mere minutes later, we realized that the base of this tree didn't fit in the trusty little stand we've used WITH NO PROBLEM for the past six years. Out came the chainsaw to shave it down even more.
Next came the twisting of the little screws into the tree trunk. Six years of happily twisting those guys in WITH NO PROBLEM. Year seven...they refused to hold up the tree. Our poor kids sat patiently watching, ornaments at the ready in their eager little hands. I stood holding up the top of the tree while Bill was crouched below, trying to get it to stand upright; both of us completely covered in sap and pine needles. On the plus side, the pine needles smelled delightful. An hour and a half later, our tree was (sort-of) secure and (sort-of) straight. We decorated the hell out of it like ravenous fish attacking smaller, less ravenous fish (I just watched Animal Planet the Ocean, don't judge.)
But hey, look! It all turned out okay. Beautiful, no? At least it was until somebody brushed gently against it and the whole thing went tumbling over, shattering ornaments and shooting pine needles out in every direction.
At least we've got our trusty Christmas gondola to fall back on in case of tree disaster (also a McGuckins purchase. I told you our hardware store is cooler than yours.)
Year 8 - We're going fake.
You can now pick up my book I'd Rather Wear Pajamas at the Boulder Book Store, people!! Right next to a book about cats, because the world is a good place.
I've been revisiting my old blog Random is More than a Word, It's a Lifestyle, and was reminded of some of my past rants... I thought you might enjoy them, too.
(Note: I intentionally didn't capitalize anything in that blog. It was kinda my schtick. Woe is my younger self.)
while i can follow most kids' books, i'm having a really hard time with this series lately... could someone please explain to me how a mouse, who talks and dresses and lives in a house like people, can have a pet cat who's just a normal cat??
it really boggles my mind. and she runs a farm, too with a bunch of farm animals that live in a barn and eat hay and poop wherever they want just like normal farm animals. but she lives in a house and is potty trained and these other animals' lives depend on her?
i similarly always wondered why goofy, who seems to be a dog, can talk and walk upright and hiccup-laugh while pluto - also a dog - actually acts like a dog. poor thing doesn't even get to wear vests. what gives?
and speaking of animals in places where it doesn't really make sense... guess which website is home to these chubalubs:
if you guessed a christmas tree farm website, you're exactly right!
the place proved just as fantastic as the website promised... i mean come now - any christmas tree lot with horses to ride...
random hubcaps all over the place...
and these guys selling you your christmas tree...
count me in! as you can tell from the boy's proud "i just cut down my own christmas tree" stance, he was just as entranced.
(isn't he adorable??)
the fun had only just begun though. we went with our friends, who also cut down a good-size tree and we decided we could haul them both the several blocks home on a little red wagon.
i was very impressed that they only toppled over once and that was before we even started moving!
and since we were down one red wagon, we also decided to haul home three kids on one sled...
(note quincy's cat hat... see how nicely i'm threading the theme through the whole post?)
now that's what christmas is all about, charlie brown!
(isn't she a beaut?)
oh and don't forget...
Relationships are tricky. From early on, we all watched those notorious Disney Princesses dance and sing about finding their one true love, and sighed with longing just wondering when our princes were going to come save us so we could live happily ever after.
Fast-forward to our teenage and young adult years, we devoured all the classic rom-coms equipped with a carton of ice cream and a box of tissues. Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, Batman Forever (was I the only one swooning over Val Kilmer and Nicole Kidman falling in temporary love to the tune of Seal’s Kiss from a Rose?)
In all of our daydreams we created the perfect romance, complete with that phrase we vowed to always tell our partner, even if we want to strangle them for not putting the dishes away correctly for the thousandth time in a row. That’s right: I Love You.
Those three words are not what this post is about. Sorry to you smug readers out there who thought for sure you knew the answer. Don’t get me wrong, those three words can be extremely powerful when used genuinely. But, they can also easily become a routine, humdrum reaction.
The three words I’m talking about require vulnerability, surrender, and honest, true presence and acknowledgement of your partner. I know, crazy hippie woo-hoo stuff, right?
Drum roll please
You. Were. Right.
I view those words as the golden idol of relationships. When you use that phrase, a million and five things happen, including:
So, there you are. The three magic words. Try them on for size. Maybe you’re not ready to apply them to a serious argument quite yet, but start small; Hey, I added cinnamon to my latte this morning. You are right, that’s really yummy! Or, You are right, little Jimmy really likes wiping his boogers on the bathroom wall. Let’s do something about that.
Now go forth and make your relationships awesome. You’re welcome.
Like what you see? Check out my quirky memoir about finding your path in life.
I'D RATHER WEAR PAJAMAS