My bud Jo of Jo's PhotoMojo is up for anything. (Find her here on Facebook!) When I booked a session with her and then started to feel lazy about picking out laundered, ironed, unstained clothes that all looked good together in addition to picking out a location to take the pics, she didn't bat an eye when I asked her to just come to our house and take pics of us in our pajamas.
I'd make a New Year's resolution about not being lazy, but I just don't feel like it.
So there, merry belated Christmas. We call this session "Silent Night." You can read about how Jo drained our Elf on the Shelf (Mart Brent...yes, Mart as in Wal-Mart) of all his magic here. And the reason Mart Brent didn't move many times during this Christmas season is not because I am lazy or forgetful but is obviously because Jo touched him. You can't touch the elf. But I have to admit, it was kind of handy that she touched him for those nights that Mart Brent didn't go to the North Pole.
Stop looking at me like that. I'm not lazy! I just prefer to admire Facebook pictures of other people's elves getting into mischief while mine sits well-behaved on the mantle for a couple of days. I don't want to have to clean up elf-messes. Some elves are so stupid that they will spill maple syrup all over the counter (don't they know how expensive and sticky that stuff is?) or they will have fights with down pillows and some poor, unsuspecting mom will have to vacuum up all those feathers. Seriously. I'm not lazy. I just don't need to add anymore to my workload.
I'm already outsourcing things as it is. During our last track-out in November, I gave up trying to teach Daniel how to tie his shoelaces. I told Nat I would pay her $10 if she could teach him. He learned in five minutes. I just now paid up. I'm not lazy, I'm just behind on my bills. That, and I haven't had cash in my wallet for the past two months, only Chuck E. Cheese tokens and Taco Bell gift cards.
I did head out to Duke to visit my new friends at the Bone Marrow Transplant unit with cookies and icing and sprinkles in hand. It seemed like the adults were just as into it, if not more than the kids.
The young lady I made the birthday cake for gave me an awesome button she made with a picture of her and the cake on it. It was pretty much the best thank-you ever, and it now resides on my clown-car of a purse where everyone can see it and no one can see the hole it is covering up. My poor purse is on its last leg but I can't bear to part with it because it's pretty much Hermione's magic purse that can hold buttloads and buttloads of random items. I don't believe in carrying duffle bag-sized purses when I go out because I'M NOT BACKPACKING THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. What are you girls carrying in those, anyway? Bowling balls?
Maybe it's a Home Alone preparedness kit in the event that you have below-average cat burglars that are trying to break into your house. Speaking of, I have not laughed so hard at watching Home Alone as I did watching it with my kids for the first time. To be more specific, I was laughing at my kids laughing at the movie. It is the Citizen Kane of the elementary-school group- THAT'S how important this movie was. When young Kevin's family is stuck at the airport in France and are trying to convince the Parisian ticket agent to help them get home, Daniel wanted to know if she was speaking Britterish. No, Daniel, she is speaking English with a French accent. "Why did they fly to French?" I guess Britterish was too expensive. I don't know why my children cracking up over this hokiness was so hysterical to me, but seriously, the vein in my forehead was dangerously close to exploding. I might have to cut myself some bangs before we watch it again together next Christmas.
It was a much more enjoyable Christmas now that we can watch some movies that are more for an older crowd than the Rankin/Bass productions of years past. Don't get me wrong, I still love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer but why is everyone so mean in it? Even Santa is a terrible person, and he's supposed to be one of the jolliest of all the world's red-dressing fat men! Santa Claus is Coming to Town is just weird. As if Mrs. Claus' name would really be Jessica. Mrs. Kringle should be a Mary or a Gloria or a Golden Girl, but not Jessica. Not even if her maiden name was Tandy and she derives super-powers from being a part of the world's worst movie trailer. Frosty the Snowman I'm indifferent toward, but Frosty Returns is hands-down absolutely the most horrible Christmas movie of all time. John Goodman sounds like he has a cold and his nasal rendition of the forgettable "Let There Be Snow" makes me wonder why the director didn't stop and say, "Get this cat some Dimetapp!" I'm as liberal as they come, but this show is too much about climate change and corporate greed and not enough about magical snowmen who come to life when a black top hat hits their head. This crappy Frosty doesn't even need the hat and where the hell is his corncob pipe? THIS IS FROSTY THE FREAKING SNOWMAN.
Sorry for that tirade. That movie gets me worked up.
Elf was obviously right up there with Home Alone but without the hoke. I have an inherent mistrust of anyone who does not think Will Ferrell is funny. I don't know if I used "inherent" right, but 2013 is the year of the wildcard adjective. Or year of the snake. But it's inherently creepy, both snakes and people who don't think a grown man running around in his underwear yelling, "Help me, Jesus! Help me, Jewish God! Help me, Allah! AAAAHHH! Help me, Tom Cruise! Tom Cruise, use your witchcraft on me to get the fire off me! Help me, Oprah Winfrey!" is funny.
We showed the kids A Christmas Story for the first time. I had forgotten how fast Ralphie talks. He's like Natalie when she's done something wrong and she's setting up a whole story with insignificant details that led to her doing something wrong which was not ever her fault. Well, Daniel and I were playing UNO and then he put down a wild card and changed the color to yellow and I didn't have any yellows so I had to draw a card and then I took a break to get some water and then he played a card while my back was turned and poked me in the back with his elbow and that's why I punched him in the face.
"Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie!" is all fun and games and quotable by little kids for hours on end until something happens when Daddy's really gonna kill someone. Unfortunately for the children, I have no empty cabinets under the sink for them to hide in.
The sound was a bad sound. A really bad sound. I was in another room (surely doing something productive and most definitely NOT hunkered down with my Kindle) when the crash came, then all was silent. As I entered the dining room, I found Eve and Daniel staring wide-eyed at the china cabinet pointing at each other. Nothing scares children more than unexplained calmness, which is what I gave them. You need to go to your rooms uttered barely above a whisper will send them crying and terrified up the stairs with a quickness. And anytime Eve is ordered to go to her room while she's crying, she always cries herself to sleep. Expensive nap, yes, but hey, I take what I can get.
I finally did give into my curiosity about what soap tastes like later on that night because, well, I'm stupid like that sometimes. It pretty much happened like it happened to Ralphie's mother, where it wasn't so bad for the first few seconds, and then it was noxious. And then my kids seemed to think it wasn't a stupid thing to want to do, so I happily passed around the bar of soap for everyone to try. It was so disappointing that it tasted so horrible, because brand new bars of soap are the best smelling things in the world, and I may or may not secretly tote around brand new bars of soap with me just to sniff when I need to calm down. I may or may not be kind of weird. I may or may not care. But soap is cheaper than booze, and it's legal to sniff and drive.
I left my soap at home when we went to the Holly Springs Christmas Parade, because even I know better than to walk in a parade while sniffing a bar of Dove. Daniel was in the parade with his Cub Scout pack and the girls were in the parade with their dance studio. Natalie was dancing while Eve had to be pulled in a wagon with the other preschoolers. Since we don't have a wagon anymore, I borrowed one from our neighbors minutes before we left and Eve reminded me we were supposed to decorate the wagon to look like a Christmas present.
I went all out. Yes, that is a pink bow. We used up all the red and green bows last Christmas. There was also a purple bow, but it fell off along the way because I had taped it down with tape you find in the dollar section at Target.
Eve and her ballerina friends performed their version of The Nutcracker for us, which is much cheaper than buying tickets to the real thing. Which means more money for
Natalie's dance class performed in a holiday show, but we had to pay to see that. I guess that comes out of the college fund.
The kids got to see Santa Claus in the lobby afterward where he gave them candy canes.
The kids couldn't eat said candy canes, though, because at the beginning of the month, they decided to make a family pledge not to eat candy until Christmas day. *They* as in the kids. I have no problem staying away from candy, as long as there are plenty of cans of nacho cheese to go around. Nope, this whole idea was their own and surprisingly, they stuck to it. Except for that day Nat ate M&Ms at school because she "didn't know they were candy." But when your kids aren't eating all the crap they bring home over the holidays, it's easy to see just how much crap comes home. Enough to make some pretty decked out gingerbread houses, with two tons more leftover candy that the houses couldn't support.
Eve's preschool class did a Christmas pageant and she was a wise lady. Most definitely not a wise man. Wise men aren't as pretty, she said. And they also would have arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts. Eve would have given Mary a push present in the form of a Taco Bell gift card.
"Jesus loved tacos."
Matt always takes Daniel to Cub Scout meetings but the girls and I managed to stop by one night and see what they were up to. It looks fun. I wonder if Cub Scouts are accepting applications from 30-something mommies.
I know, I'm too old to join. I'm so old. So, so old to hear Daniel speak of it. But not as old as the folks at the nursing home where Natalie and Daniel played piano. I know they were old because I heard it over and over again.
-They are SO OLD!
-Will they be able to hear us play?
-They are so old that this will be the best thing that happens to them today because all the old people at Grandma's apartment told me their favorite part of the day is watching kids because they can do all the stuff that the old people are too old to do.
For the record, they could all hear. I know this because they were all singing along. I love old people! I want to be one when I grow up.
To counteract the getting of old, we try to surround ourselves with lots of children. Like fifty of them at a time. Because we so crazy. Here is our baby tree, filled with cookie ornaments for all of our 18-and-under guests at our Christmas party. Covered in red frosting so when your kid pukes post-party, you'll have to stop and guess if they have internal bleeding or just spilled his cookies. Not that Daniel would go on to passing out and doing this.*
This year's prize for best cookie was a cake that I had thought would be classy if I painted "Merry Christmas, sh*tter was full." on it. And truth be told, it was.
We had a whole house-full of hikers just carbing up for the next big hike that no one has planned. Two of them left right before we took the pic but they were seriously with us in spirit. And in Microsoft Paint.
Our party was the perfect time for me to own up to a secret addiction of mine. I have a fancy cheese addiction. And my freezer is like a weird cross between Hoarders and Intervention. I LOVELOVELOVE going into the grocery store and searching for cheese that has been marked down for quick sale. I have a problem. I can't stop buying them. If I haven't heard of it? All the better. I. love. mysterious. cheese.
(And dramatic usage of periods.)
So, what better time to make a cheese plate than at a party for eighty of our closest friends? Jesus fed everyone with a few loaves of bread. I can feed the greater-Wake County area with the contents of my frozen cheese collection.
I dived into my kitchen freezer and started going through all the beautifully wrapped wedges and blocks. I counted 29. I realized I had a problem. I didn't bother going through the cheese in the garage freezer because...I ALREADY HAD OUT 29 WEDGES OF CHEESE.
So, I tell you all this because I want to be held accountable. I am going to refrain from buying fancy cheese until we have eaten all of the fancy cheese that is living in my freezer. I will give all the money we save to the bald kids. I will readdress the need to buy so much awesomely-priced fancy cheese when we are cheese-less. THIS I PLEDGE TO YOU.
I will also try to refrain from saying ridiculous things in this new year such as, "We are in DESPERATE need of new wine glasses." I am not, nor will I ever be in desperate need of a wine glass. I am in desperate need of only access to clean water and insulin. And Taco Bell, since I was pressured to stop buying so much fancy cheese.
I pledge to throw more parties the day after we throw a huge party because A) the house is as clean as it's going to get and 2) Matt always overbuys the party beer so we are in DESPERATE need of mouths to drink it.
Our friend Katina turned a special age that I will not disclose in this post but we had a small surprise party for her 40th birthday with all of my favorite things: a nacho bar and margaritas. Because her birthday is pretty much all about me, although I did make her a carrot cake just because it's her favorite and definitely not because anyone who has eaten nachos washed down with margaritas ever said, "You know what would be the perfect ending to this meal? Carrot cake."
I think I forgot to feed the kids dinner that night. I'm sure they got cake, though. Pretty sure. They're just so easy to forget about when you put them in the den with a movie and some juice boxes.
Matt likes to remind people how tall he is by standing on his toes in pictures. He manages to make the rest of us look like dwarfs. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but if you're going to make me look like someone I'm not, how about a woman with no gray hair, no acne, and bigger boobs?
Actually, my boobs were so big, they didn't even fit in this picture.
Dan knows how to dress for a party.
He cut out and colored that bow tie all by himself, although I did trade him a paperclip for the chip-clip he used to attach it to his shirt. That kid is cooler than I'll ever be. That kid is cooler than Edward James Olmos will ever be.
I know I should be helping the kid with his spelling, but then I wouldn't get things like this, and that would make me sad enough to want to prison tattoo a tear under my eye:
I made a bird, but this is no ordinary bird. It is a singing rock star bird! He does his hair each and every morning. He has 10,002,000,900 fans! And 1 that is not his fan. He is sooo handsome, he gets everything for free!
Dan's rock star bird is cooler than I'll ever be. Dan's rock star bird is cooler than Edward James Olmos, too.
I don't know why I'm bringing Edward James Olmos into this, either. But he's such a cool Mexican-American that you can only imagine how freaking cool rock star bird must be. Mexican-American actors are, as a general rule, a lot cooler than white women with gray hair, acne, and small boobies.
Christmas morning was pretty much filled with Eve using exclamation points.
The rest of Christmas was spent seeing who could stay in their pajamas the longest. Daniel is the coolest, as he will happily chill all day long in his "dayjamas," bed-head and all. My dayjamas end up covered in sausage ball grease and I have to change into sweatpants. Dan for the win!
Jesus is the reason for the season and if you're not friends with him on Facebook, then all of your deep, well thought-out posts about how Obama is the devil and how he's sending us straight to hell are going to go unanswered until he responds to your friend request.
After Christmas, we kept hitting up the two-dollar theater. It's such an incredibly awesome deal and the popcorn there is ten times better than the full-priced theater. We did have to sit through commercials for St. Jude where celebrities told us all the good things they are doing to help cure sick kids. Like Jennifer Aniston is freaking sitting on a tumor board. Come on, people, she's too busy working on her latest rom-com flop.
After the movies, we moved onto a skating birthday party. I used to go to the Wheel-a-While ALL THE TIME when I was a kid. Nestled in beautiful Waldorf, MD behind the Pizza Hut and Choo-Choo's Lounge (for gentlemen!), this rink was boss. Its dirty bathrooms were poorly lit so you couldn't tell if someone had sprinkled all over the toilet seats and the DJ played lots of Color Me Badd and it was cooler than Edward James Olmos. It was probably the last time in my life that I listened to popular music. As Matt says, Christy hasn't heard it until it's on Kidz Bop. And he's right and I'm not ashamed. My parents would drop me off with a couple of dollars and I'd live like a king for the afternoon. Enough money for skate rental with some leftover for three palmfuls of Runts from the candy machine. You have to eat all the banana ones first because those are the most disappointing.
My kids don't skate. They haven't been given the opportunity. I keep telling them how easy and fun it is so just get out there and do it!
Until Natalie finally asked if I'd skate with her.
Okay, skating is hard. I forgot. It came back to me after a minute but those first sixty seconds, I thought I was going to eat it.
It's extra fun to roller skate for the first time in twenty years while children pull on you for balance. Lots of fun. So much fun.
Daniel surprised me with his willingness to dive right in. Normally, he's thinking of incredibly awful ways to get maimed if something goes wrong.
I have to admit, I was thinking how I'd like to go roller skating again, except with no kids and maybe pitchers of beer. But then I would probably break an ankle and I can't bear the thought of telling the kids how Daddy pushed me down a flight of stairs because I would NEVER drink and skate. I'd sniff and skate, though.
Eve just wanted someone to hold her since she was so distraught over learning to skate. Also, Eve is much heavier while wearing roller skates.
Eve is a bullsh*tter.
Don't hate the skater, hate the skates.
We moved onto the bowling alley down the street because there's nothing safer than arming Daniel with a ten-pound ball.
I'm pretty sure the people in the next lane that he threw the ball at would agree. He just needed to watch Nat to see how you're supposed to roll the ball. She plays a lot of Wii bowling. She knows things.
Or Eve. She totally knows what she's doing.
After the kids went to bed, we broke out a puzzle. Puzzles are like pretzels. You don't remember how good they are until you do them and then you're like WHY DON'T I DO MORE PUZZLES AT MIDNIGHT?
We know how to thrown down.
Plus there were Solo cups involved, and you know what goes in Solo cups.
May your new year be filled with lots of pretzels, puzzles, and bars of soap.