Remembering When: A New Day

This post was originally published on Janyary 17, 2013. Two years later and I'm still working on my new beginning. And I'm okay with this because it means I haven't stopped trying.  



A strange thing happened today. I didn’t notice it right away, of course. There was no dramatic realization. No being struck by a figurative lightning bolt. It was more like the rising of the sun…

Slow. Steady. And something that, when you stop to think about it, shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Sleep has been fitful and restless and mostly non-existent. I was lucky to wake up in time to get Buttercup to her morning pre-ballet/tap class. I didn’t bother bringing a book to read. She upgraded me, you see. A few weeks ago, when she first started, I was timidly asked to remain downstairs in the waiting room while she danced. I’m embarrassed, Mama. Instead of allowing herself to fully relax and enjoy herself with her fellow dancers, I think she had been too focused on my opinion of her performance.

So I waited. And eventually, she asked me to leave my book at home.

I sat in the dance studio with the other mothers while the dancers sues-sused and tapped their happy little hearts out. We smiled and laughed as our daughters delighted in the movement their bodies allow and reveled in their own conspiratorial giggles. We clapped, as a proper audience should at the end of a worthy performance, when the teacher announced the end of the class. Then we helped our happy girls change out of their dance attire and into their street clothes and made our way across the studio to go on with the rest of our days.

That’s when I saw my reflection in the studio mirror. I barely registered what I was looking at….there were too many things to do and think about to concentrate on the size of my ass or what my hips looked like. Hear that? Taking the time to criticize myself would have been a luxury. Buttercup was asking questions and we needed to go to Target and The Husband needed me to pick up a few things at the grocery store before we headed back home and I was trying to remember what they were and…hell. If I don’t have time to read a book or watch trashy T.V. or sleep, do I really have the time to stand in front of a mirror and pick myself apart?

And more importantly, is that how I want to spend the few precious moments I do find for myself? Self-criticism and self-directed body hatred as LUXURY like fine velvets and expensive champagnes and rare jewels and days like tomorrow when I can stay home all day in my pajamas and don’t have to bother with a bra?

I met my own eyes in the mirror once more before leaving the studio and that’s when I saw myself through the light of the new day and realized I had sat in front of a mirror for an hour and only concentrated on my daughter, her happiness, and how I hope she grows up stronger than me.

The woman looking back at me in the mirror was smiling now. Maybe because she realized feelings weigh so much less when shared with others who understand.

Am I fixed yet? No. But it’s a new day.

And that’s a start.


The Finger Monkey, the Kilt-Daddy, & the Sandwich that Sprained my Ankle


Sometimes I like to look up the search terms that lead people to Aspiring Mama. Usually this happens after a random conversation I have with a real person like The Husband or my kid or the one neighbor who's house I can see from the end of my drive (as opposed to the pretend people that live inside of my iPhone).

Today's foray into RandomSearchTermLandia was spurred on by Monday's blog post showcasing my girl and her daddy in their kilts and The Husband muttering something about his legs being all over the internet again. When I called him Kilt Daddy and told him to show me his Irish, he totally thought he was getting lucky later and, sadly, I had to tell him that was gonna have to wait for me to finish writing for the day. It took him a minute before he was all Who is this Kilt Daddy?

So I showed him. Since publishing the original post two years ago, that very term has been one of the most popular internet searches leading readers directly to Aspiring Mama. Other winners include

*Advice Columns of Satire

* Funny Stories About Maine

* Pictures of Finger Monkeys

* Do Cats Blink

* Multiple Women Naked Bodies

* How Much is a Baby Finger Monkey?



* Broken Legs or Sprain Ankles of Famous Persons


Just remember, y'all, while Google may be telling you the truth when it shows you The Husband's sexy legs when you ask it for the Kilt Daddy, Google is a damned liar about the finger monkey expert thing. That, my friends, was one blog post from way back when that was the first thing ever pinned by a reader and how I learned Pinterest had been invented.

Oh, and that one about the broken ankle? In my defense, there was a lot of meat on that sandwich.



Memories, wishes, & assholes


We've lived in this house since May of 2013. We aren't even close to being  completely organized. Our basement is a mess of boxes and garbage bags full of out of season clothing and stuffed animals Eliana has outgrown. If we're missing anything from our last move (the fifth in four years), we wouldn't know it.

Our old landlord called yesterday to let us know we had left a box behind and was kind enough to meet The Husband to hand it off yesterday. Inside, we found memories we didn't realize were missing.

There's one of me at 21. The  Boyfriend that eventually became The Husband had whisked me away for our first romantic weekend getaway to Mackinac Island. Truth? Yes, it was a weave and no, he didn't know it yet. When the truth eventually came out, he was visibly relieved. Turns out the tracks connecting the weave to my scalp had left a lot of unanswered questions in those wild with abandon moments during which he ran his fingers through my hair.

Monkey toes.

She was so tiny when she was born. Long little limbs. The longest fingers and toes I have ever seen on a newborn attached to the daintiest pudge-free baby feet ever to have existed. She was six pounds and 21 inches with a perfectly round head that made everyone who saw her assume she was a c-section (she wasn't).

I remember looking at this picture when I first saw the proof. It took a minute to realize that my baby's ankle was positioned just above my arm and her toes stretched far below.

"We've given birth to a monkey, I think."

And the nickname stuck.


My mother's parents were killed in a car accident on their way back from a trip to Mexico when I was 10-months-old. My grandfather had been a native of Guadalajara (which, I guess, explains my hair), and my grandmother had been American-born but raised, for part of her childhood, in northern Mexico. My mother  was supposed to have gone on that trip with her parents but had decided at the last minute to stay home. I was just baby; too young to leave with family.

At 19, my mother buried her parents.

I lived in my paternal grandparents' home in Detroit for the first three years of my life with my own mother and father. My mom likes to tell the stories like how my Guelo was feeding me beans and rice at six-months-old and how I called my Guela "Mom" and called my mother "Dorothy." I remember going to Bingo with Guela and I remember translating an entire conversation between my grandmother and a postal worker dropping off a package while home alone with her one afternoon.

My grandmother died when I was six, leaving my sisters and me with one grandparent. He was  just over  five-feet-tall and was a big, round belly. In my entire memory, he is retired, always balding, with sharp, hazel-green eyes. His voice is gruff, his English choppy and so heavily accented it's impossible to understand. He commands respect and once drove an old station wagon and had a dog he called Come Cuando Hay which literally means "Eats When There Is." Every Sunday we ate dinner at Tia and Tio's house and every Sunday, Guelo left with a bag of bones and meat scraps and leftover beans and arroz. That's when Come Cuando Hay could eat because there was.

Guelo called us his cabronas. His little assholes. To me, that's just proof that anything in Spanish can be made into a term of endearment if said with love and a smile.

Andale, mis hermosas cabronitas.

Come on over here, my beautiful little assholes.

And there it was.

Love and a smile.

From Nothing


I tried planning ahead this year. Working from home while homeschooling and trying to keep up with the laundry usually means everything is last minute and so many things get pushed off until tomorrow. Or the next day. And then the day after that. I had planned to met my deadlines a week early and enjoy this week with my little family and some close friends. The house was going to be clean and the Christmas menu set and the food prepared so all I had to worry about was what to do with the leftovers.

We never got to that part.

I got the flu. The kind that came out of nowhere and hit my like a frat party hangover. Suddenly the world was spinning and my head was too heavy for my neck to lift. I sat there breathing slow and shallow breaths like the kind usually reserved for labor pains. The column I had started working on was put on hold as The Husband silently took away the Macbook and I shuffled off to bed. Tomorrow, I told myself. One day wouldn't change anything.

Three days later I was still sleeping more than I was conscious, burning up even when the thermometer didn't register a temp. Every breath felt like fire in my lungs. My body ached. The Husband took to sleeping in Eliana's room on her tiny little twin bed, hoping ti avoid the plague, while my little shadow crawled into our big queen and snuggled up next to me every evening. "I'm taking care of you," she told me. "Don't worry. I'll hug you all night so you feel better."

By focusing on me, she was letting herself forget the suitcase she had packed in her room. The one full of randomly selected clothing and toys and even her toothbrush and toothpaste for her "trip" to see her Guela in Detroit. My mom had moved with us to Tucson when Eliana was 18 months old and lived with us for three years. When she moved out, Eliana was lost, but the presence of a very close-knit friendship circle did wonders for soothing her anxieties. Then we moved again and this time, Eliana was old enough to miss those we left behind and want so very badly to wave a magic wand and instantly recreate something out of nothing in our new home. Northern Maine is beautiful. We love it. But it can also be a little lonely when it's time to explain to a child that making friends takes time. Making friends that become family takes even longer.

So she packed her suitcase and pretended she was taking a magic airplane to see her grandma and would be back on Christmas morning in time to open gifts. I was the flight attendant. Her daddy was the cab driver. And then for the entire day before I got sick, I was my mother and our home became her home and I wished so very badly for Santa to fit a new friend-family under our tree. And then I couldn't move without the world spinning and her make-believe was forgotten because Mama had the flu and Daddy was either working or trying to help out when he got home and she dealt with it by comforting herself by comforting me and I love her for it.

Day four was better. I was able to get out of bed. The world was still again. My body ached and I moved slowly, but I was out of the woods and still planned to get those fucking deadlines met and out of the way. We were going to make cookies, dammit. And drive around to see Christmas lights. And play board games and listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate. And then on my birthday, we were going to drive the two hours to Bangor for the sales and a movie and a birthday dinner. That was the plan. Then the plan changed again.

Both Eliana and The Husband got knocked senseless by the same flu I had just weathered. My laptop sat open and waiting as the laundry piled up and the sink over-filled with mugs from tea with honey and hot toddies and broth. I didn't shower because I was too busy shoveling snow, carrying more logs inside to keep both woodstoves piping hot for heat, and making sure my husband and daughter stayed hydrated. I took their temperatures and grabbed my keys to drive to Walmart for Nyquil for The Husband and more albuterol for Eliana's nebulizer and learned I wasn't going anywhere until I shoveled away the snow the plow driver had piled four feet high against the garage door.

Christmas did happen, though. They opened their gifts from the sofa bed. Santa was nice this year, even if he didn't get a chance to tackle that last request from me. Eliana was well enough to get out of bed and play with her new toys but the suitcase stayed packed because she's not done imagining her grandmother closer.  And The Husband apologized for not being able to take me out for my birthday. I told him to shut up and just feel better.

Today was my birthday. I spent it taking care of my patients and picking up more prescriptions. We ate leftovers and the sink is still full and the laundry untouched. Then I made homemade pumpkin ice cream floats and they sang Happy Birthday to me before our ice-cream melted and we watched Mary Poppins and my laptop sat, waiting just a while longer, while plans were ditched in favor of The Moment that was right there for us to grab on to.

"I'm sorry about your birthday," The Husband told me before he dragged himself back to bed.

"Don't be," I told him. "We're together."

The Year the World Grew

I live in a small town.  

My chiropractor is my pastor, the closest Starbucks is a two-hour drive, and my 17-pound dog once tried to go bear-hunting at 2 a.m. I stopped him in time, but if my dog could have spoken to me as he self-righteously huffed his way back into our house, I'm pretty sure he would have insisted that he could have had him and it was my fault we weren't having bear for dinner tomorrow night.

Thanksgiving marked our first anniversary of our new life in Northern Maine. Last year we ate a turkey dinner at the local truck stop. This year we ate with friends as our kids played together in the basement. Last year we knew almost no one and purposely drove anywhere to see and talk with other people. This year, I haven't been able to catch a breath during the last week because our little world has grown.

We added a new friend today in this little world of ours. Her name is Josephine.

Eliana insists on calling her Josephina. And Josephina doesn't seem to mind at all.

A Text Message to My Mother

Hey Mom. Sorry I missed you today on Skype. We were going to call this morning but Eliana had an important hula hooping lesson. It went well. And we really like the instructor.

I figured we'd call later but then we had a surprise day out when a friend called to invite me and Eli to the Potato Festival. Eli got to walk in the doll parade with her Pip, her Bitty Baby, and got to climb inside a tractor, turn on the lights in a state trooper's patrol car, and flip the siren on in a policeman's car.

She ran barefoot in the rain with her friends for hours and stood in line for the homemade piñata a new friend brought with her.

She asked to listen to the country band and ran up to interrupt the singer to request a Toby Keith song and they made her smile when they started the next song.

I got to leave with 2 lobsters for $18 because the rain made for a smaller crowd. I'm not complaining.

Thank you, God and Small Town America.

When we got home, Eliana got in the tub to wash off the mud and then invited me to a sleepover at my "house" in the basement room. Tomorrow morning I get to go to her place for breakfast and grown up talk about our writing and going to New York because that's what writers do. We might even use the rainbow we saw as inspiration for a story. She says it depends on her mood.

It was a long day. I'm exhausted. The laundry didn't get touched and the sink is full of dishes. But it was amazing. I need more days like this.

Love you and sweet dreams.




This Week's List


Things I've done this week:

* Confused a gopher for a beaver

*Packed up and moved from one rental to another

* Photographed a caterpillar

* Slept only when my eyelids gave up

* Decided that anyone who moves and is able to unpack within a week is probably using magic from fairies who owe them favors

* Got published on

* Watched The Husband get the moving truck stuck in 4 feet of swamp

* Laughed while a front loader towed both both The Husband and The Husband's friend out of the swamp

* Explained to Buttercup that The Husband wasn't pissed off at her while he swore like a sailor after getting the moving truck because he's a man and that's what they do when they colossally fuck up and they have to call for back up

* Said this sentence to my child, "Daddy isn't mad at you, baby. He's mad at the world. We just happen to be in it."

* Kept a secret still a secret (I know, I'm impressed, too)

* Watched the moon follow us home


Mexican Musings from Maine


A text to a friend:


"Snow shoed. Finger knitted. Watched the plow truck get plowed out of our driveway by a construction plow, the fed ex guy park behind the plow truck while still stuck and jog through 50 yards of foot deep snow carrying packages under one arm like it was a Sunday jog, and grilled salmon on the deck while my kid played in the snow for an hour after snow shoeing. Just your regular winter night in Maine."


Her response:

Let me know when your column launches.



Challenge accepted.

Between the Lines and My Cups Overfloweth

The problem with my brain not automatically transmitting my thoughts and images into blog posts that publish themselves is that I end up so far behind myself that it's usually not worth catching up. But that's only when I haven't lost my mind just a few days shy of my 35th birthday and learned that the local health clinic for general care no longer prescribes ADHD meds to anyone over the age of 18 citing "problems" when they were. In other words, all you assholes too lazy to search out your own community meth lab in Someone's Basement because you didn't need a prescription have now left me scrambling to find anyone who can get me legal speed in a bottle with my name on it before I run out of what I've got. Also, I'm wondering exactly how ADHD is supposed to magically fix itself once the patient turns 19 or if that's the reason Somebody's Basements keep popping up all over the place.

Other highlights from the past week or so include a depressive fog so thick I could make soup out of it and driving two hours to see Santa and showing up three times at the post office for holiday crap after my meds have worn off. I'm pretty sure the staff looks forward to the next time I stop in. Or maybe everyone in Maine is just that nice and I haven't picked up on the "Dammit, the crazy lady's here again" vibe. Either way, you get the rest of the inside of my head in between the lines.











And then I run out of steam. It's 2 a.m. and I have words to write for the other site that doesn't pay the bills but means the world to me and my sanity. I have more to share here. Until then, Happy Christmas Eve.

First Snow

I'm going backwards. Before I show you the ride between Tucson and Northern Maine, I'm showing you the first snow fall and how Buttercup was so excited that she insisted in skipping breakfast and suiting up to go play first. She doesn't understand yet that snow is not the rarity here that it was in Tucson. But I doubt it will make a difference when she does. I have never seen her more excited to get out of bed and race out the door.  





Ninja Attack Guppies & Other Funny Moving to Maine Stories

So we booked the moving truck yesterday. I'm also pretty sure the only reason my head didn't explode for the 24 hours between signing on the truck to move the belongings we aren't selling and finally securing a rental home for the next six months is the fact that I'm ADHD and allowed to forget I already took my Xanax. Three times.

Five minutes ago.




So now we have a house on actual property and shit. Which is cool. And then I looked at a map and about fell off my chair. Maine? You mean THAT Maine? BY THE OCEAN? I may have to put the Xanax away once we arrive just so I can take in all the thisisnotthedesertness that will probably overwhelm me into writing sappy poetry and hugging trees that I am am not allergic to.

When I'm not crying about the Living in Maine and Can't Eat the Lobster Thing, I mean.

Also, and only because I consider it a public service announcement to the world, I just listed this for sale, too.


Beautiful 5 gallon fish tank with live plants and added serenity background. $60. As an added bonus you also get the guppy, which I am convinced is a trained government assassin, and the Ghost Shrimp, otherwise known as the "clean up crew". I'd offer you the single little school fish left from the school of five we had yesterday, but I can't promise it will still be alive in the morning. I'd tell you more, but I'm pretty sure I'm being watched.

Make a Difference, Tucson. Here's Your Chance.


I'd cut my hair for this if I had any to cut.

Since I don't, I'll ask Tucson to step in and make a difference for a child in need.

I posted yesterday about the Disney on Ice Dare to Dream show coming to the TCC in October. Today I'm going to tell you about an incredible event that is so full of FEEL GOOD FEATURE that the former reporter in me is tripping over myself with excitement.

Feldman Entertainment is hosting the Hair Raising Event (playing off of the Rapunzel story, of course) at the Foothills Mall on Saturday, Sept. 22 to benefit Children with Hair Loss. If you are local and have 8-inches (or more) of hair to cut, you would be helping create free gifts of wigs to children who truly need them. The organization has provided many of the wigs they have helped create to the children at Diamond Children's in Tucson.

Added incentive?  The first 25 people that register to donate their hair will receive a complimentary Rapunzel necklace when they arrive that Saturday (advance registration is preferred).  AND everyone that donates hair will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the show and will get to take part in a fun event on opening night. Alls I'm saying is ya get to meet Rapunzel and launch Chinese Lanterns outside of the TCC that evening!

I know. It's going to be amazing.

Now for the cool part:

Do I have any volunteers to have their hair cut ON LIVE TV  prior to Sept. 22 to kick off the Hair Raising Event? If so, please be sure to contact me right away and I'll get you in touch with the PR whiz behind this whole thing.

Oh, and you can thank BellaVita Salon for the complimentary hair cut you'll get after donating your hair at the Foothills event. This isn't just a snip off the ponytail and kick you out of the chair, people. This is a chance for you to make a real difference and walk away with a brand new look.

So, Tucson: Who's up for making a child smile? Leave a comment. Spread the word. Let's make some noise.



Alternate Title: Free Magic Always Sparkles More

Disney on Ice shows have been such a huge part of my childhood that when I got to take Buttercup for the first time I actually teared up. There she was, sitting on my lap, clapping and giggling and in love with the magic. And I got sappy. Like I was passing on some kind of torch or something.

We've gone to every show that has come to Tucson since moving here when she was just 18 months. And every time, I promise myself I am going to take her to every show from here until her 18th birthday and that I will drag her kicking and screaming to that last one, if need be. Because dammit, it's all about the magic, people.

And the magic is coming back, y'all. She doesn't know it yet, but my sweet girl and I will be heading out on opening night, courtesy of Feld Entertainment, to see Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream on October 11 at the TCC (The show runs from the 11th through the 14th). And thanks to some really good marketing, a phenomenal charity event that made me wish I had hair long enough to cut (I'll tell you about THAT tomorrow), and the fact that I actually remembered to check my email, SOMEBODY gets to win a family pack of four tickets to see the show, too.


*Nods head*

For Free.

Don't worry if you don't win because there's a special discount code available for readers to get $4 off per ticket for the following shows.

  • Saturday 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday 1:00 p.m.

The code is MOM12 to receive the discount and can be used at or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

I am supposed to legally tell you that all opinions are my own and the free tickets thing and more stuff about how I would never promote something I didn't truly enjoy or believe in but I won't bother. You've probably been here before. If you are new, this is the post where I don't say bad words.

Now for the contest. I'm making this an easy one because I need to get back to that other job that doesn't pay me. To enter:

* be 18 or older

* leave me a comment on this post by no later than midnight (Eastern Standard) on September 26.

* Done.

Just make sure you fill out the portion of the comment form with the email address. I'm the only one that can see it and I can't contact you without it.

PS-come back tomorrow. You'll kind of hate yourself if you don't.


Awwww Coconuts...

I traveled 2,500 miles yesterday so Buttercup can be a flower girl in a family wedding this weekend and jet-lag has turned my brain into baby food. I'd rather wax hysterical about the wisdom behind making sure you marry into a family only if the future in-laws and the current crazy you refer to as family have no less than three states between them because there's probably a sit-com idea here just waiting to be born -- and because it's like THE BEST PREMARITAL ADVICE THE SINGLE COULD EVERY POSSIBLY HOPE TO RECEIVE -- but I think I'm already asleep. Instead, I'll let myself take a vacation day from the blog, rest my muddled brain and close my allergy induced bloodshot eyes because it seems I'm allergic to the entire planet, and give you something I else I wrote and saved for a rainy day.  

The first time I heard a Latino friend refer to themselves as a coconut, I was clueless. And to be honest, I actually forgot about it until yesterday when I had this conversation with Buttercup:

"Mama, how do you say 'circle' in Spanish?"


She repeats me, nods her head, and then taps her chin. She's thinking.

"How do you say 'triangle?'"





What the HELL?

"Dodeca WHAT?"

"Dodecahedron? It's a shape with 12 sides."

Right. Thank you, Nick Jr., for this moment. Because now my five-year-old is aware that I actually don't know everything.

You. Owe. Me.

"Um??? Wow. Sweetie....that's not really a word I've ever used in conversation in Spanish."

"I've never heard you use it in English either, Mama."

"Yeah. Exactly."

Also? Coconut: Brown on the outside. White on the inside. Spanglish is my national language. My daughter knows just as much Spanish because of Dora as she does Chinese because of Kai Lan. And Google is my savior.

Dodecahedron? In Spanish it's dodecaedro, thank you very much.


Five: In Pictures




And when time for bed came, Wonder Woman looked at her mother, the Queen, and bravely told her that teenagers (like her) don't sleep with their mamas but that I (the Queen) was welcome to come into her room to read her a book and sit on the floor holding her hand until she (my Wonder Woman) fell asleep. And I did and she did and just like that, my baby blossomed into a girl.


The Vicinity of Wonderful

This is it. My last post before 2011 fades away and 2012 becomes the year that we all joke about the end of the world. I had planned for something Deep and Meaningful. But that was before I remembered that the in-laws were going to be here from Michigan and that would mean day-long outings and running out of room in the refrigerator for yet another set of restaurant leftovers and a frantic search through my non-existent draft folder in the hopes of finding something Wonderful that I might have been saving. I looked. I found plenty of Somethings. But none of them were anywhere near the vicinity of Wonderful. Some were kind of Meh and a few gems were complete Disasters. More like an exercise in free-writing while high on expired Nyquil than something I'd like to share with the world.

So that leaves me to come up with Something New. And I'm hoping it's Deep and Meaningful.

I'm supposed to talk about those as-of-yet unbroken promises I haven't quite narrowed down to committing to for the immediate future. And buy some new running shoes so I can get to that new gym with the brand new membership I'm supposed to rush out to buy so I can fight for an elliptical machine until most have decided to wait until next January to try again, right? Or am I supposed to look back on 2011 and the stories shared, memories made, and goals achieved?

I could do that, except maybe I won't. Not because I'd rather avoid the imminent panic attack next December when I finally fall asleep wondering if the world will still be there for me to wake up to or if social media will be alive and well and pointing fingers at the Mayans for being total drama queens. And that's because this (read: the me having a Conspiracy Theory-worthy panic attack) will probably happen. I'm just wired that way.

I won't wax poetic about the end of the old and the start of the new simply because, for me, I feel caught in limbo. Between what and what, I have no idea. I just know that this feels like my last post of 2011 no more than the first one did and that this was the first year that my birthday was really just another day and maybe 34 is the year that the passing of time becomes nothing more than a measure of how fast my child is growing and not a direct reflection of myself or that last grey hair I pulled out.

If I didn't have a checkbook with what will probably be a month's worth of ruined checks during the 2012 honeymoon period while I retrain my brain to write the new year, I'd probably forget that anything has changed.

Buttercup and I were out shopping the other day when a store employee asked Buttercup how her Christmas had been. After the expected excitement and squeals and Santa Brought Me's, the employee smiled and asked Buttercup what she was doing to bring in the new year. Buttercup wrinkled her nose and blinked.

New Year? The look on her face told us both that she had no concept of what was being asked of her. She simple stood there for a moment while she tried to figure out for herself what this New Year was and how exactly one was supposed to Bring It In.

Finally, she smiled and her eyes brightened.

"But it's not June yet," she said, "and that's when my new year starts. I'll be five then. I'll probably have a birthday party with my friends. Right, Mama?" And  I told her that yes, she very probably would.

More or Less

I can't tell you what gifts I received from most of my family and friends during Christmases past, but I can tell you that the year we were served enchiladas and tamales at my aunt's house left us to lie and tell our friends we had turkey just like they did when we went back to school. And that I had never tasted bread stuffing or sweet potato souffle until after I got married.

I can tell you that my sister makes a mean Christmas ham. And that my tio is famous for his buttery mashed potatoes. And don't even get me started on The Husband's ability to work magic with a turkey fryer. Or the bread pudding I'm expected to prepare anytime family comes to stay for the holidays.

It's about the food, people. No matter what anyone says, it's about the food.

I'm not judging. I'm relating. Because every year I've partaken in the Fun and Food and Merriment which, really, don't seem as they would be as much fun if it was just Fun and Merriment. It's about the food, people.

Or at least, it was about the food.

This year it's going to be about what makes me feel good instead of just what tastes good  and the memories we will make instead of how many pies I'll be baking.

I've been dealing with an ever-growing list of health problems that I've come to think are mostly related to food sensitivities. I'm currently under the care of a new doctor who is running all kinds of fancy tests and sending me to all different kinds of specialists to figure me and my rash on my rib cage and my hair that's falling out and my inability to lose weight no matter how often I get on the elliptical. I'll probably know more on Wednesday when I see him next. What I already know is that, for some reason, eliminating grains from my diet have, in less than 36-hours, eliminated the rash I've had on my ribcage for over a year and my hair loss seems to have almost completely stopped.

I know the holiday itself and the week following will be a bit difficult with my in-laws visiting, but I'm feeling pretty good about my decision to put my health before my taste buds.

The thought of waiting until after the holiday did cross my mind. I won't lie. One last taste of pumpkin pie. And stuffing. And sweet potato souffle with marshmallow topping. And laughter with the in-laws over jokes and plenty of wine. But instead, I'll focus on the look on Buttercup's face when she realizes that Santa brought Nana and Papa to visit her for Christmas. And I'll smile while my mother-in-law spoils her granddaughter just as silly as she'll spoil our dogs and listen as Buttercup squeals with delight when her Papa lifts her high into the air like he used to when she was a baby.

And I'll remember that Christmas is about so much more than what's being served for dinner.



Made of Awesome

Did you get a chance to read about our weekend trip to the North Pole? *Nods head* We got to see Santa, talk to an elf, and I gave Mrs. Clause my business card. Which reminds me...I've got to cross that last one off of my bucket list....

Anyway, I didn't tell you what happened after I hit publish. It's simple, really. But it's also made of awesome.

We drove home. And because we had about five hours between Where We Were and Where We Actually Live and mainly because my nerves couldn't handle it we were on our first road trip with Buttercup not in a pull-up, we made more than one visit to the rest stops on the way. That meant we had to take a few more moments for me to take photos of the Scenic Lookouts, right? Come on, moms...don't lie to me. You and your road-trippy self might never be caught dead in one of the instagrammed pics you plop up on the Interwebz for the world to see, but you'll be damned if you miss an opportunity to force your kid to stand in one place and JUST SMILE DAMMIT in the name of preserving a memory.

Which leads me to this...

And this...

Two shots.