That Time I Compared Santa to Chocolate

  Photo by Pauline Campos

My sink is full of dirty dishes. The house is not Santa Spotless as is my usual. I have tons of gifts still to send out and even more missing from under my tree. I lost our magic Santa key so I told the child I texted Santa the code to the lockbox we save for dog sitter. I didn't bake one christmas cookie. I only sent out 15 christmas cards. My usual is 50. It's hard work dragging your ass out of bed when there's no other place you'd rather be, what with missing friends and autoimmune hell running the show.( I got an answer, by the way: psoriasis. The rest of that story will have to wait for another post another day.) But it's work that must be done when you're not the star of a one woman show. And my costars demand Christmas cheer and holiday magic. This is good, because I am doing Christmas even though I'd rather be binge watching bad movies and eating too much ice cream. Pretty sure that depressive, self-indulgent luxury is one every person who agrees to cohabitation loses as soon as Yours  becomes Ours. I'm even telling myself the cluttered mess of a house and the dirty dishes are progress because Instead of staying up until 4 am to scrub the house clean just so I could say I did,  I'm leaving them as they are.

Photo by Pauline Campos

My plans include wrapping a forgotten gift, writing a tiny goodbye note from her Christmas elf in sparkly gel pen in teeny tiny writing, and climbing into bed with The Husband and the child who was too excited to sleep, because Obviously Mom, Who Can Sleep On A Night Like This? She can, Obviously and Thankyouverymuch, tucked up between heartbeats that sandwich her own. Its the only sound loud enough, I think, to soothe her into an instant dream.

Photo by Pauline Campos

The dishes can wait. I've got sleepy hugs waiting. This is progress. Santa, like chocolate, understands.

Heart Pops (Revisited)

May 2011  

Let’s tell each other one thing that we love about the other person before we go to sleep.

Okay, Mama.

I’ll go first. I love the way your whole face lights up when you smile.

Oh, Mama. That’s sweet…And I love when you give me strawberries.

***

Where did I come from?

A wish on a star.

I’m happy you wished me.

Me too, baby. Thank you for being my wish.

Thank you for being my mom.

***

Mama?

Yes,  baby?

I love you so much it makes my heart pop.

You make my heart pop, too.

***

Mama, can I…?

No.

Why?

Because.

No, Mama. You have to give me a reason. “Because” isn’t a reason.

It isn’t a reason when you say “because.” But I’m a mom. So that makes it a reason.

Well that isn’t exactly fair.

***

Happy birthday, Mama. I’m going to hug you now. Because sometimes I just want to hug you because I love you so much. Okay?

***

And my heart pops just a little bit more.

The #MexicaninMaine is currently the #MexicaninMichigan, which, by the way, is not a big deal at all. We've got family to visit and friends to see and at the end of the week, we've got 17 hours between us and home. I'm obviously behind on everthing right now -- hence, the archive blog share --  because this is my first "vacation" since all of this writing stuff I do graduated from Hobby to J-O-B. The short story is this: I can run in circles trying to "get ahead" and go insane, or I can plug away, a little each day (while on vacation because that's how it  goes) and pat myself on the back for making it through another day.

I choose option B.

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.

Choose Your Word

I recently had the chance to hang out with Holly Fulger and friends (and fellow Speaking of Beauty contributing writers) in Holly's home in L.A. Don't freak out if you happen to be aware of The Cali Curse and the Me Being Banned from Ever Stepping Foot NEAR Cthe State of California thing. At least, not yet. I may eventually need to have a shaman clear me for seeing Holly in person, but right now it's all Google Hangout, but you're safe for now.

The purpose of our chat was to discuss the focus of our writing for Speaking of Beauty as Holly moves forward in her vision and her mission to grow the conversation of beauty, perception, and self-acceptance. That sounds a lot like Girl Body Pride, with my own personal flavor, of course, and I think it's why Holly and I were naturally drawn to each other. This, people, is one of the reasons I love social media. Pretty sure there's no way in hell there's any other way Regular Me would end up anywhere on Hollywood Actress Holly's radar without my iPhone in my bra, twitter, and 140 characters. And here I was helping Holly lead a group discussion focused on writing, inspiration, and sharing ourselves and our stories with the women looking to see themselves in our words.

Our conversation was incredible, the group is amazing, and even Eliana had a chance to sit on my lap and say hello to Holly, as she will soon be joining the ranks as an official contributor to the site. I just need to remember to drink an espresso before the next time we get together, and perhaps write up a few bullet points to stay on track, because I'm pretty sure I gave the impression that I like sniffing glue.

Other than that, I learned I'm inspiring.

It's my word.

Speaking of Beauty features a Style Profile Test designed by Holly and business partner Melissa McNamara. The idea is pretty simple: Choose your word and find your essence. Holly and Melissa plan to launch a makeup line in the near future and the style profile is meant to help women realize that beauty truly is an inside job by first defining themselves before defining their style.

Choose your word and find yourself. Are you an Inpsirer? A Seeker? A Dreamer? a Leader? or a Thinker?

 

GROUP 1                                                                                                                               Visionary, Inventive, Original, Authentic, Spontaneous, Unconventional, Sexy, Outgoing, Idealistic, Inspiring, Stylish, Motivating, Exciting, Influential    YOUR WORD___________

GROUP 2                                                                                                                                 Curious, Funny, Natural, Musical, Entertaining, Joyous, Playful,Whimsical, Eccentric, Vibrant, Artistic, Blithe, Vivacious, Creative                                                                    YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 3                                                                                                                      Caring, Gentle, Peaceful, Graceful, Spiritual, Deep, Source, Ageless, Classic, Serene, Balanced, Soulful, Ethereal, Still                                                                                                         YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 4                                                                                                                          Passionate, Powerful, Independent, Commanding, Adventurous, Fearless, Bold, Athletic, Brave, Risk-Taking, Heroic, Confident, Indomitable, Forceful                                           YOUR WORD____________

GROUP 5                                                                                                                        Strong, Rational, Wise, Centered, Honest, Elegant, Prosperous, Logical, Focused, Loyal, Determined, Organized, Striking, Driven                                                                            YOUR WORD____________

WHAT ARE YOUR 5 WORDS?   __________,  _________,  ________, _________,   ___________

NOW CHOOSE 3 __________,   ___________,    ___________

NOW CHOOSE 1 __________

 

My 5: Inspiring, Creative, Deep, Bold, Driven

My 3: Inspiring, Creative, Driven

 

My Word: Inspiring

 

 

According to the Style Test on Speaking of Beauty, Inspirers are visionaries, idealistic, and spontaneous.

 

Inspirers stand out from the rest. Others follow you and the influence that you embody is very compelling. Your look has been designed to accentuate the aspects of your visionary nature. Since you are unafraid to take chances, a bold palette has been created. The Inspirer’s strength and sense of purpose can be conveyed by strong colors, a distinctive eye, and a defined lip. -- Speaking of Beauty

 

That sounds about right.

Me? I like my red lipstick.

You? What's your word?

Find it. Then go out and live it.

 

 

 

Introducing Eliana Mercedes, Blogger Child

 

A conversation with Eliana, my almost-six-year-old.

Me: Baby? What do you think of when I say the word "beauty?"

Eliana: Beast.

Me: I like it. But let's think of things you think are beautiful. What are the first five things you can think of?

Eliana (thinking): Flowers. And butterflies. And Princesses.

Me: Anything else?

Eliana: Yep. Love. And people's spirits. That makes them beautiful.

This will be my daughter's first transcribed post as a contributor to Holly Fulger's Speaking of Beauty blogging team. She talks. I type what she says. Or maybe vlog it. It all depends on if she's feeling like a rock star or a writer when it's time to work like Mama.
And this is the bio I wrote up for her.

 Eliana Mercedes is the daughter of The Husband and writer Pauline M. Campos. Up until now, she has been known online simply as Buttercup. But this homeschooling first-grader is now a blogger, which means Eliana Mercedes looks better in a byline. She has no idea what that means yet and only hopes it includes the chance to adopt a baby beluga and visit Disney World one day.

I'm kind of proud. Kind of scared. And maybe a little crazy. But keep in mind that this child does not watch TV with commercials and has no concept of the media trying to brainwash us all into a singular concept of beauty. That's exactly why I cannot wait to see what she has to say next.

 

Moving to Maine in November: Insominia & Other Stories

 

It's midnight. The grandfather clock tells me so, loudly, and interrupts my five-year-old's current explanation for why she is still awake and will she grounded from that birthday party this weekend because she is?

Yes.

No.

Maybe.

No, I have to. I haven't gotten any work done (or even started ) and I have to keep her from a birthday party on Saturday even if we are moving or become the mom who never follows through on consequences. I know the move is on her brain and its causing anxiety and many mixed emotions so I'm trying to be lenient. But it's midnight and she's just now allowing herself to relax enough to drift off.  Sometimes t all boils down to wishing Benadryl made her tired because I can't keep clocking in at midnight and stay sane.

We drive to Maine in 16 days.
I can't sleep when I'm anxious.
She may never see this little boy again so I have to let her go to the party and I can get firm another time, right???
We drive to Maine in 16 days and I am going to miss my first best friend so much it hurts because being connected via tweets and texts and status updates become different things when time zones hamper communication and plane tickets are required before scheduling joint pedicures.
Buttercup can't wait for snow and white Christmases and spring and running barefoot in the grass. I can't wait for seasons and new adventures and the next chapter. We both understand that we have to go because severe mesquite allergies and Southern border living are not a good combination. It sucks, actually.
We have so much to look forward to.We know we can't stay and we have known for a while and instead of just looking for rentals, we are actually looking into purchasing a home. There's email and post cards and promises to video chat with the friends we love.
There's so much. To look forward to. That we are leaving behind. That we are trying to bring with us.
Doesn't make leaving easier.
I climb out of bed when I know she is asleep, tuck her in, and kiss her cheek and give in to her innocence like she knew I would but promise to be firm when...well...not today. We are going to the party on Saturday. And I'm pretty sure she's going to be up until midnight tomorrow, anyway.
That's okay. I understand because the BFF sent me a text message that simply read ...
Please don't move
...and I won't sleep at all.

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?"

"Circulo."

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

"How do you say 'triangle?'"

"Triangulo."

"Square?"

"Cuadrado."

Dodecahedron?

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.

 

Moments. Mothers. Days.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012  

 

Mama? Is it Mother's Day yet?

No baby. The calendar says it's not for a few more days.

But I want to give you your bracelet now!

I can wait.

Please, Mama!

 

 

I crumble. The excitement is shining in her eyes as she runs to get a manilla envelope that just arrived with my name on it. The return address is her preschool. She has printed her own name in the top left corner. She might not realize it, but the envelope is part of her gift to me.

 

 

 

I carefully open it and gently extract a large card fashioned from construction paper and a message telling me that her heart flutters for me. I see a bracelet and her smiling face and see her pictures for me and then collapse into laughter, tears streaming down my cheeks, and hold my defiant little princess close to me. Teacher Jessica captured her personality alright. And I couldn't be more thrilled with what has to be the most honest Mother's Day card in the history of the universe.

 

And then this morning

 

Open it! Open it!

 

 

It could be Christmas morning judging by the level of squealiness in Buttercup's chirpy screams. She's been waiting for a few days now, trying to convince me to ignore the calendar and just tear into the gift my sister, her godmother, sent for me. Receiving anything at all from someone other than my child or The Husband Who Knows He is Contractually Obligated to Forget a Card but Still Be Awesome is a bit of a surprise, and it's a nice one.

 

I unwrap the box, cut through tape, and lift packaging materials out to find that I've been sent an angel. I am instantly in love with her serenity and how it so fluidly flows throughout her form.

She's beautiful, Mama.

I know.

I set her on my desk to watch over me as I write and we continue with our day.

 

The Bitch and the Lullaby

"Mama, I can't sleep."

"Shhh ... just close your eyes and relax, baby."

"But mama, I tried that already. I caaaaaaaaan't sleeeeeeep."

"Maybe if you try longer than three seconds, it just might happen."

"But Ma..."

"Shhh ... Daddy's already asleep. Want me to sing you a lullaby? Whichever one you want, baby girl."

She finally stops her fidgeting and snuggles closer to me. "You pick, mama."

Without hesitation, I launch into the first bedtime lullaby session in recent memory. She's almost five and while I'm holding on to her wanting to co-sleep for as long as she will let me, she stopped asking me to sing her to sleep a few years ago. I softly sing that she is my sunshine, my only sunshine, as she relaxes even more into my body.

I smile into the dark.

 

 

The day didn't start this sweet. Buttercup has been home sick from preschool for over a week now with a low-grade fever, congestion, vomiting, and lots of whining brought on by the horrible Tucson allergy season. Nebulizers and medications and trips to the allergist and waiting in the Walgreens parking lot for more prescriptions have been par for the course lately. So has an attitude that makes me fear the day she realizes she has hormones. The kid hates being sick.

This morning she woke up happy. But somewhere between getting out of bed and sitting down to pee, the stars must have fallen out of alignment because the child shot right passed crabby and hit bitchy in ten seconds flat. Her eyes narrowed and she glared up at me from her perch on the toilet with a look that gave me every confidence in the world she's ready to hold her own on an elementary school playground. Then she announced that she couldn't pee.

"What do you mean, you can't pee? Do you mean you don't have to go yet?"

"No," she spat out. "I have to and I just can't."

Um...okay....

"So try harder?"

"I am, Mama! I. Just. CAN'T."

And the stand off began. I had things to do today and lots of shit to attend to before I ran out of time. BFF Heather was going to be coming over later to tag along on another one of my doctor appointments this afternoon while her fiance was set to play dollhouse and watch princess movies with Buttercup. I wanted to make sure I had a bra on before they showed up in four hours.

"Do you hurt in your belly?" I ask.

"No," she grunts back.

"Does your vagina hurt?" I ask.

"No, my bagina does not hurt." She says back, her teeth clenched. "I just can't go."

Satisfied she doesn't need a trip to the pediatrician and this is just the world's most original tantrum, I leave the bathroom and make my way to my shower.

"Fine," I call back as I walk away. "Sit there as long as you want to. I'm not scheduling my day around when you decide to stop being a drama queen."

I'm answered with furious tears and sobbing. Turns out she hadn't expected me to leave. And yet she's still sitting there after I return, dressed, teeth brushed, flossed, hair done, and make-up applied. Kid knows how to dig in her heels, that's for damned sure. So I called her bluff.

"I guess we need to go to a hospital."

"NO!"

"Well, if you can't pee, that's not a good thing for you body. And that means I need to take you in so the doctors can fix you." I pause for effect. "I'll go get my purse and the car keys so we can leave right away."

Her eyes are wide. She's blinking. A lot. The wheels in that head of hers are turning furiously. And just as suddenly as she flipped the switch to bitch, she flips it back to sweet angel as she finally let the iron hold on her bladder go. "Wow, guess what, Mama! I'm cured!"

I gloat inside of my head and rejoice with her as we finally get started with our day.

 

 

 

"Mama, I love you," she whispers. Her head is on my chest now. Her voice thick with the sleep that's about to consume her.

I ask her to please never take my sunshine away, and hug her closer.

 

 

Mom vs. Murphy

I woke up this morning like I usually do. Buttercup's arms around my neck, the dogs at my feet, and a vague memory of a good-bye kiss from The Husband before he left for work at 6 a.m. Normally I haul booty to get us both cleaned up and dressed (with the bath and the shower and the hour to decide between two different kinds of cereal) for the day before depositing her in front of the television for about twenty minutes while I answer emails and get my morning twitter fix. Then we grab her back pack and lunch box and make our way to preschool drop off at 11:15. But today, we were lazy. We stayed in bed until about 9 a.m., me on my iPhone and she on her hand-me-down iPod, while I decide if the 11 a.m. work call I accidentally scheduled is going to make it possible to get the girl-child to preschool on time. And because it won't unless I bribe the secretary with Starbucks lattes I don't have to watch Buttercup if I drop her off 20 minutes early, I decide to go with Plan B.

There are two friends I can text with kids at the preschool. Both live close enough to me that it's possible one of them may be able to adjust their morning to stop at my house to pick up my kid on the way. But the first is sick and her kids will be staying home because of it. The second is on her way to a doctor appointment on the other side of town and her husband is handling the morning school drop-off, which is going to be complicated enough without adding my own child into the mix.

It's on to Plan C. I email the teacher and let her know that Buttercup won't be in today because Mommy can't be in two places at once. They know I work from home and this isn't the first time this has happened so hey...might as well take advantage of the opportunity to make a choice like this while I can. Kindergarten, obviously, won't be as flexible.

We bathe, brush and floss, choose comfy stay-home clothes. I watch the time as I serve breakfast, which sounds much fancier than dumping cereal into a bowl because that's what actually happened, and proceed to set up my work station upstairs with my Macbook, phone, and a notebook with a pen I just made sure actually works. With thirty minutes left before my phone is scheduled to ring, I rush back downstairs and explain to Buttercup the importance of Not Interrupting Mommy While She's Working as I set her up with a DVD, a snack to tide her over until lunch, a drink in a sippy cup so I don't have to worry about Mommy I Just Spilled JOOOOOOOOSE being screamed up the stairs while I'm on my call, and let the dogs in and out so they can do their business before I get busy at my desk.

With ten minutes to spare, I kiss the kid, pour myself a cup of coffee, and go back upstairs to play on Facebook and Twitter until my phone rings. With five minutes to spare I double check that the pen still works and then double check that I have the right date and time. I'm ready.

But my phone doesn't ring. I check the date and time again, see that I am correct, and figure a few minutes is no big deal. But when an entire hour has passed, Buttercup's DVD has ended, and her understanding of how much time Mommy Needed To Work has morphed into Mommy Can Play Now Because She isn't Working, I find myself stuffing my phone into my bra to keep it close, getting her lunch ready, going back upstairs to my desk because surely the phone will ring now and MOMMY I JUST SPILLED MY JOOOOOOOOOSE AND THE GLASS BROKE ON THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!

Mercifully, the phone does not ring while I am sweeping and saying bad words inside of my head and serving more juice in a sippy cup because Mommy is a jackass and heading back upstairs to write a blog post while waiting to see if the phone will ring at all. It doesn't. So I head into my bathroom and turn on the faucet in the bathtub before pouring an obscene amount of bubbles into the stream. I let it run and bubble and go back to my MacBook to finish the blog post you are reading now before going downstairs to tell Buttercup she gets to swim mommy's giant tub full of bubbles.

"Can I stay in as long as I want?"

"Of course you can," I tell her. "Mommy isn't busy anymore today."

I take her hand and we go upstairs, her content with our lazy afternoon and me knowing that my phone would have rang at 11 a.m. on the fucking dot had I gotten us dressed and tried to get her to school.

Well played, Murphy and your stupid laws. Well played.

The Things She Says

  As I'm trying to finish a blog post, I feel a kiss on my elbow and hear a soft giggle.

Because I love you too much.

 

I'm folding clothes and trying to make some headway on the to-do list when she bear hugs my waist from behind.

More than chicken in cherry pie, Mom. That's how much I love you.

 

On the way to the park so she can ride her new Tinkerbell bike on the trail.

Mom? When I grow up and am a lady you have to drive me to my wedding.

 

While brushing her hair after a bath.

I think I'll have just one kid when I'm a parent. It'll be nicer that way. And more room in the car.

 

After a long day at the zoo and I squeeze myself into the back seat of the two-door jeep so she can cuddle with me.

Yay! Your big butt didn't get stuck! That's great, Mom!

 

As I dry myself off after my shower she kisses the belly she made so soft.

I love all of you, Mama. Do you love all of me?

 

Always. (Mostly.)

Happy Effing Valentine's

Remember when I sent a Christmas card of my daughter unknowingly flipping off the camera to my husband's sixty-year-old co-worker? I know. Classic, right?

I'm not much of a football fan so while The Husband watched the Super Bowl and I messed around online, I had the brilliant idea to spread the love.

Why limit the fun to just one holiday? Am I right?

So here you go, world. My gift to you.

Buttercup can now flip off your Valentine, thanks to the greeting card I just set up on Zazzle. Think about it. Everyone boring sends roses.

Your welcome.

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.

A Letter to Santa

 

Dear Mr. Claus,

May I call you Kris? I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your yearly contribution to the marked improvement in my daughter's behavior at the end of the year. Although I do have to say that it is a tad disconcerting that, unless reminded that you can see her when she's sleeping and know when she's awake, I can't get her to put one foot in front of the other without a fight. Not to mention that, after having reread that last sentence, I just realized I may be a little bit afraid of you now.

No matter, Kris. I may call you Kris, right? Santa seems to be reserved for the sitting on your lap crowd, and I am obviously beyond that. But do you mind if I ask you to submit to a background check before next year's mall photo and gift request? (I do hope you understand.)

I found it quite charming how you made Buttercup so comfortable during her time with you this year. She can't wait to see if you brought her that special doll she asked you for. And no thanks is necessary, Kris. My husband and I took it upon ourselves to go to extreme lengths to purchase the requested item, buy a special roll of wrapping paper that is only being used for gifts "from you", and hide said gifts until one of us can sneak downstairs after she falls asleep on Christmas Eve to leave the small stash of goodies "from you" beneath the tree. We all know the economy sucks and I'm sure the lost manpower during the last round of elf lay-offs still has you frantically trying to keep up with and meet product demand by the expected deadline. We will, however, be submitting an itemized expense report outlining all expenses incurred on your behalf and expect to be reimbursed for our troubles. I hope Paypal works for you and the Mrs.?

I'd also like to ask your opinion on parenting tactics come the day after Christmas. Let's face it, Kris. She's four and has no real concept of time. Next year is about as threatening to her as next week, and because neither is happening in the next five seconds, they don't matter in the slightest. That means I'm looking at about 10 months of parenting hell because I can't drop a Santa-bomb until Target kicks the Halloween candy to the curb, skips right over the Thanksgiving turkey, and starts blasting the Christmas music early enough to make even you want to throw up. And please give me more detailed advice than last year because asking her to "follow me in merry measure" when we would both rather throw tantrums frankly does me no good.You deal with a world-full of children in one 24-hour-period, while they are all sleeping of course, so I'm sure you understa...

Oh never mind.

Anyway, feel free to stop in on Christmas Eve and don't feel that you need to BYOP (We already covered the presents, remember?) but do enjoy the cookies we will be baking in your honor. We left a magic key for you to use since we don't have a chimney and you can't seem to remember the alarm code before the damned thing goes off, so please, consider the key our gift to you. We will leave it hanging on the front door. We just ask that you remember to lock up after you leave. And for the love of Christmas, please make sure to pick up and properly dispose of any reindeer business before you take off. I'll be sure to place the garbage can where you can find it.

Please give my love to Mrs. Claus and remind Rudolph that he's always special. I do remember how the therapist said he thought Rudolph only felt worthy of attention after a major snowstorm and all.

Sincerely,

Aspiring Mama and The Husband

 

Merry Everything

No matter how thorough one thinks she may be, there's bound to be an "Oh Shit Which Christmas Card Did We Send Them?" moment when one decides to get all complicated with the This One's for the Family and This One's for People with a Sense of Humor categories.

Because when one means to send this photo with a sweet "Merry Everything" printed on it to her husband's sixty-year-old former co-worker...

...and sends this one instead?

Well...one needs to realize not everyone is going to see the humor in being inadvertently flipped off by a four-year-old in a cowboy hat.

*These photos were taken by my friend Melanie at Above All Fabric.

Tripping Over Words

This is my third attempt to start today's blog post. It's the writer-equivalent to tripping over my own words because my mouth can't keep up with the ideas trying to pour fourth from my brain. Every time I attempt to start a sentence, my breath hitches in my chest and I stop mid-syllable because maybe I should have said this instead...or maybe it was this... Or maybe...?

I could go the easy route (for me, at least) and post a few pictures of my crafting/baking weekend with Buttercup and tell you all how the making of the spinach chips...

...and from scratch chocolate pudding...

...and Quinoa protein bars...

...and gluten-free gingerbread men cookies...

 

...and mason jar snow globes we made just kept me so busy I just plain forgot to get on the elliptical. And, to be fair, it would be at least half-true.

Or I could tell you about how I'm wondering how many of Buttercup's future issues will be a direct result of all the effort The Husband and I are putting into The Great Lie about that guy in the red suit who somehow wiggles his fat ass down our chimneys each year, despite the cookies he pounds down, and leaves gifts for our kids that We Didn't Have to Pay For because His Elves Made Them in His Workshop before The Flying Reindeer helped him circle the globe in one night to deliver the goodies just because It Makes the Children Smile? If you think I'm overreacting, then I'll just let the Asking The Husband to Sneak Downstairs to Quietly Open the Front Door last night and Ring the Doorbell before running upstairs with an Elf-Delivered envelope for Buttercup containing Santa's Magic Key slip into history as a moment of genius and not a reason to funnel Buttercup's college savings into a Ways My Parents Set Me Up for Therapy fund. And I'll spare you the details about the raised eyebrow we got in response when Buttercup told us that the elf wasted a trip because everyone knows that Santa just magically makes chimneys appear on Christmas night so Why Would He Need a Key for the Front Door, huh?

Of course, I haven't told you about new doctor on the other side of town or the MRI I have coming up on Wednesday to see if that pesky little (benign) pituitary gland tumor is back, or the skin biopsy I have scheduled for next week to try and come up with a reason behind this crazy rash on my ribcage that just won't go away, or the results of the 14 different blood tests I'm waiting on with at least one of them (hopefully) providing an explanation for the changes in hair texture and the piles I leave behind on the shower floor every time I wash it.

Remember the hat? I'm not just wearing it because I think it looks cute.

But then again, if I told you all of that, I'd feel obligated to share the fact that I'm living proof that it is entirely possible to work out almost daily and still gain so much weight that I'm now just under what I was when I gave birth four years ago and that my doctor almost brought me to tears when he told me I wasn't crazy and that we would work together to figure my body out and fix whatever is broken.

And seriously? I'd rather just avoid that topic altogether.

So instead I'll tell you about how Buttercup and I selected a snowman off of the Christmas Angel tree at her preschool and went shopping for a two-year-old girl and how I explained to my own little girl that it's important to help her Angel girl smile because Mama remembers waiting in line long ago for a wrapped toy that came from a big box and was handed to her by a kind stranger. That gift made me smile when I was little, I tell my baby girl, and she asks me if ours will make Angel Girl smile, too. Yes, I say, smiling gently. I think it will.

And then we all go on with our days.

 

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.

Done.

 

Have Imagination, Will Travel

Teacher asks Buttercup: "How can you be a good friend?"

Buttercup responds: "I give my mom a present at her birthday. She will say Thank You Thank You after she opens it up and she will say, "Oh, Baby! Lovely, Lovely."

And teacher writes it all down on construction paper, sending her home with her imagination stuffed safely in her backpack for Mama to find later that afternoon.

Automatic

Soft breath on my cheek. Eyelashes brushing my own. "Mama?" She whispers, still half asleep.

"Yes, baby?" The response is automatic. Not yet fully awake, I put my arm around her waist and draw her closer. "What do you need?"

"I just wanted to tell you something," she says.

"What is it?" I nuzzle my nose into her cheek and she giggles a bit before pulling away to place her hand on my own.

"My heart loves your heart, mama."

The response is automatic. Not yet fully awake, I put my arm around her waist and draw her closer.

"My heart loves your heart ,too."