Fill in the Blank Friday...last one of 2011!

It's hard to believe that 2011 is almost over.  It's been quite a year for me, and the kids...not the best year we've ever had but believe me when I say not the worst year, either.  Last year at this time I had a lot of ducks in a row (and excuse my inner 14 year old boy who can't stop laughing because I accidentally typed "a lot of dicks in a row") and I'm proud to say I put quite a few of those ducks (tee hee) in their place.

I'm not so proud of the fact that a couple of those ducks still remain, and damn if they don't seem to be bigger and more smug than they were at the beginning of 2011.  Kind of like MY PANTS.  I was sure that I'd be closing out this year in a size 10, but I'm not.  In fact I think I may be back to my "freshly divorced" size which is horrifying.  But luckily, I turned 45 this year and one of the things that happens when you reach this age (besides the disappearing waistline and the inability to read fine print) is you start to realize that nothing is etched in stone...nothing is the be all or end all of life.  You learn that every day is a fresh start and that the power to change things is, and always has been, YOUR superpower.  Whether or not you choose to flex that power, that muscle, is up to you...but no one can take it away.  Not even your sabotaging self.

Tomorrow is officially the last day, so I won't blather on anymore about the Auld Lang Syne stuff.  I have a whole 'nother day for that.  So, on with the blanks:

1. New Years is: Literally, it's just another day on the calendar.  It will happen just as sure as the sun rises and sets every day.  Like a newborn baby, it's something that will happen no matter what.  Figuratively?  It's like a diabolical yet loving genie hovering in front of you, with unlimited wishes to be granted.  Speaking as someone who loves wiping slates clean, it's like the biggest, cleanest slate out there.  And that's daunting.

2. One of my New Year's resolutions will be: Yeah, I'm all "my resolution is to not make any", but I think, secretly, we all make some to ourselves.  I have some concrete ones:  get rid of my truck, put up these framed pictures that I've had sitting here for a month, vacuum with greater frequency (today I actually had to DUST my vacuums. That can't be good.).  I have some abstract ones, too:  Get my brain organized, stop dwelling on past "stuff", don't be so damn sensitive.  If someone declines a game of Words of With Friends, it doesn't mean they hate me.

3. A New Year's resolution I've made in the past isDear God.  What haven't I resolved to do/change/make/accomplish?  It would be easier to list the resolutions I HAVEN'T made. 

4.  The most time consuming resolution I've ever made wasThe one where I resolved to stop double-spacing when I type.  Yep.  Still working on it.  I think I may be a double-spacer for life, yo.

5.  This year I will be spending New Year's Eve: Still up in the air about this one.  It's a no-kids New Years, which tends to mean a "sit on the couch with Walter and talk back to Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper on CNN" kind of night.  But...I've received a few tempting invitations.  Two things are keeping me from enthusiastically embracing them:  One, of course, is that I'm sporting an extra chin and back fat.  Not exactly making me want to get out and shake my groove thing.  Secondly, and here is where I start to question my sanity...I hate leaving Walter alone on holidays.  Isn't that the most pathetic  saddest thing you've ever heard?  I may be misreading him, but I swear he gets depressed when the kids aren't around.  And the last thing I want to come home to is Walter clutching a box of wine, watching Will and Grace reruns.  So we'll see.

6.  If I could wish one thing for my new year it would be: that it be either blissfully uneventful or uneventfully blissful.  Either or.

7.  2012 is going to be the year: that my oldest child graduates from high school.  The year my youngest child graduates from elementary school.  The year that follows 2011.  It could be the year that I become a college student again, or it could be the year I become a full-fledged businesswoman.  It may be the year I start parking in a garage again.  It might be the year that I change my relationship status on facebook.  It could be all of this, or none of this.  Catch me 12 months from now, and we'll find out. 

Happy second-to-last day of the year, my friends.  Don't forget to clean out your closets and drop stuff off at the charity places:  you'll be ending the year with clean closets and one last tax write off!

Hey, you know you want to do it:  why not fill in the blanks yourself and link up over at The Little Things We Do.  


TeN oN tUesDAy (isn't that completely annoying??)

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, if you celebrate.  If you don't, hope you saw a good movie and enjoyed some fabulous Chinese. 

We here at the Hausfrau household had a semi-pleasant day.  The kids spent Christmas Eve with Big Daddy, it was my second Christmas Eve without them since the divorce.  And it was easier than the first one.  Not awesome, but easier.  I was wrapping presents  up until the last hour on Christmas Eve, and not just because I had a nice amount of stuff to wrap (I did! Each kid had several gifts to open, and some great little extras in their stockings.  Santa even brought Walter a giant rawhide bone.) but because I SUCK AT WRAPPING.  I try so hard for the first few gifts, try to make sharp edges and try to fold the paper over nice and flat.  By the time I get to the last few they look like a drunk, blindfolded baboon with one arm tied behind her back wrapped them.  But if you have kids, you know they don't care.  So, then, I pretend not to care either.  I used to care, back in the day...I'd go to Hallmark the day after Christmas every year and stock up on perfectly coordinated, heavy weight wrap and bows and name tags.  It was pretty.  Now, not so much. 

But that's ok.  The day was semi-pleasant, because every single year there is a Christmas Meltdown.  It's usually performed by one of my middle children, and it's usually caused by a:  a gift they received that doesn't work according to the child's plans or b:  sadistic siblings.  This year's meltdown was brought to us by the latter, and Henry was the artist du jour.  Yelling, screaming, mom once again threatening to "not celebrate Christmas next year", followed by a cooling off period, followed by a ham feast with all the trimmings.  Eyes dried, hugs given, apologies doled out like bandaids.  Life goes on.  Later we went to my mom's house, which ended with me bawling in front of my mom.  She's not doing well and I feel like a crappy daughter.  She and I discussed how weird we are, how communication is so freaking screwed up in our family.  I left there feeling better for having talked to my mom but also kind of hollowed out, like a jack o'lantern.  What is it about Christmas?? 

Yesterday we chilled, I made a big ass breakfast and life got back to normal.  Today I put the tree outside (to be burned later by my slightly pyro-crazy friend Whitney, screw paying the garbage company $30 bucks to take it away), got a big old pot of chili made and made a trip to the grocery store wearing one of my sexually ambiguous fleece jackets with a Hanson t-shirt under it.  And now, I'm semi-prone on the couch, Walter snoring next to me and the laptop heating up my legs, watching "Zombieland" and clickety-clacking away. 

It feels good to be done with the holidays, sorry to say.  I feel like a huge weight has been lifted.  I hope next year is a better year for me and the kids...but I'm beyond grateful that I had hens, both local ones and those far away, once again circle the wagons around my little family and help us get through this.  I couldn't have done it alone, my friends.  Thank you.

And now, time for tEN On TUesDay (people used to title their eBay auctions like this, drove me batshit crazy):

1.  Kids favorite presents:  Charlie loved his Levi's (from Kohl's).  Molly loved her jeans and her Blink 182 stuff (purchased with Visa and Mastercard gift cards). Henry loved his Adventure Time t-shirt (Visa gift card) and Adidas hoodie (Christmas shopping day at the church) and a new mike for the XBOX (Walmart, my first trip there, I might add!).  And William has declared this "The best Christmas ever" because he got a shinny hockey set (from Target).  My favorite gift was being able to watch their faces as they opened things.  Yes, I was totally the goofball in the corner, weeping a little.  It's been stressful, dammit, don't judge! 

2.  We still have mice.  I love how the kids think there's just one, they will come upstairs and tell me, "WE JUST SAW HIM!  WE JUST SAW "THE MOUSE") like there's a solitary, cuddly vermin.  Like we have our own Stuart Little.  Maybe we should put out tiny clothes and a little car for themhim?  I need to call Dave the landlord, because I've tried everything (well, I've tried those little Mouse Motel things and that's everything in my book) and I'm pretty sure it's not Stuart Freaking Little in our walls. 

3.  I must have slept about 22 hours between Christmas Day and now.  Isn't it wild how this season saps you?  Or maybe it's just me.  But I feel like I've just been through final exams, childbirth and colic, all rolled up into a tightly wound, four week-long ball. 

4.  I don't ask the kids about Spawn.  I figure, who needs to know the details about it?  But while we were at my mom's, she asked them about their new little half-sibling.  They said he looks just like Charlie did when he was a baby, and that made me laugh.  Laugh because Charlie is the kid who Secretary openly loathes.  So it strikes me as perfectly perfect that her own urchin looks like him.  Try hating him now, you skank.  In mysterious ways he does work, the Lord (say that like Yoda and it will make sense). 

5.  Did I mention that I got a new phone?  I did.  I signed away my soul for two more years with Satan's network, AT&T, and got a cheap Android phone.  To paraphrase Randy Jackson, it's aiight, dawg.  Sadly, due to my Joan Crawford tantrum, I lost EVERYTHING from my iPhone so I found myself without any numbers.  I'm starting from scratch.  And I was right:  I did miss a booty call.  A single booty call, from Cabin Boy.  He's in Spain now, visiting his daughter who's studying over there, but he'll be back shortly after the first.  I'm filled with self-loathing right now, and after a solid month of eating my feelings I'm not exactly feeling nubile and wantonly, but we'll see.  We shall see. 

6.  The kids and I watched an Indiana Jones marathon on Christmas Day, and I found myself explaining to them who River Phoenix was (remember, he played the young Indiana in "The Last Crusade"?).  It was so surreal, to talk about someone who was so cool and famous, and is now gone, to people who have no clue who he was.  I ended up saying that if he were alive, I think he'd be similar to Leonardo DeCaprio.  And that his whackadoo brother Joaquin probably wouldn't be spouting his raving lunacy on the late night talk shows if it weren't for him. 

7.  I'm still on my Friends re-run kick.  And here's some trivia:  Who played young Ben, the son of Ross and his lesbian first wife Carol?  None other than Zach and Cody, the awkward and wealthy twins from Nickelodeon or Disney Channel or whatever it is they're on (are they still on???).  I need to finish with this pretty soon, I'm starting to let Friend-isms creep into my everyday vernacular.  Like, I'm starting to talk like Phoebe.  And it's creepy.

8.  No school for two weeks.  It's Tuesday, and so far I've done 6 loads of laundry, run the dishwasher 4 times, gone through 3 gallons of milk and one bottle of wine.  We've also slept in, stayed in our pajamas all day long and had some good laughs.  I'll be climbing the walls before too long but before that happens, I'm determined to enjoy this downtime with my kids.

9.  Time for me to decide what I'm going to do when I grow up.  I am finally taking the advice of a wise friend, who told me not too long ago "You have to act like Big Daddy is dead.  You aren't going to see any money from him, no help, nothing.".  I've been sitting here, like a naive puppy who was abandoned and left alone on a side road, waiting for my master to come back, or at the very least, throw me an effing bone.  It's not going to happen, and that's finally sinking in (really, Einstein?  Was it the fact that you went to a food shelf that drove this home for ya??).  I need to be able to provide for these kids, and ultimately, for myself.  I have been weighing my options, trying to decide what I can do (aside from write a blisteringly funny, acerbically touching best selling chick lit novel which gets made into a universally loved movie starring Lauren Graham and/or Melissa McCarthy).  I could go back and do eBay full-force, that used to bring in a few grand a month.  But I think, ultimately, I have to go back to school.  Looks like Charlie won't be the only one in college this fall.  Watch out for the Freshman Fifteen, Jenny!!!!!  I'm thinking something in the Elementary Education arena...can you imagine a 46 year old student teacher?  Yikes.  But to quote the fabulous movie I'm watching right now, it's time to nut up, or shut up.  (Gotta love Woody Harrelson....remember "The Kelly Song"?  I do.  Saw him perform it live, too.  Sigh.)

10.  Walter has been enjoying the Christmas bounty...aside from candy left on the floor by oblivious kids, he's been the official plate licker of Christmas 2011.  Guess what?  Christmas food gives dogs gas.  Really bad gas. 

Hope you sweet readers (and some not so sweet...but we'll get to that later) had a lovely holiday.  Thank you all for being there for me, whether you've chimed in or not, while I've tried to process this long, strange trip that is now my life. 

Write up your own TeN oN TUEsdAy and link up at my buddy Lin's awesome blog, Linny's Vault.  Always good to spread the crazy around. 

Until next time, my friends...enjoy the afterglow. 


Fill in the Blank Friday 12/23/2011

Happy Friday!!!!  Two weeks without school equals two weeks home with my babies.  The past couple of weeks have been so completely amazing....I'll go into greater detail about it later (excruciatingly detailed detail, I promise) but for now, let me say that I have been humbled beyond belief.  For some reason, God or whoever is in charge has deemed me worthy of an amazing outpouring of love.  For some reason, the people in my life have once again turned into Christmas angels and blessed the kids and I with love and gifts and FOOD and beautiful notes and did I mention love?  I feel like freaking George Bailey, people.  I've cried enough tears to fill dozens of wine boxes.  And you know what the greatest gift has been?  That once again my kids have seen the Christmas Spirit in the flesh.  They've seen thick envelopes arrive in the mail, block letters on the front, notes inside telling us to hang on, things will get better, and most importantly...YOU ARE LOVED.

Don't get me wrong:  gift cards ROCK.  If it weren't for some anonymous (and some not so anonymous) friends and the gift cards they sent, my kids wouldn't have much under the tree.  Before this tsunami of love washed over us, I had budgeted about $65 per kid for presents.  And that was pushing it.  Now?  I have multiple presents for each of them...Charlie and Molly finally have some new clothes, Henry has the video game he's been pining for FOR MONTHS, William has a cool Minnesota Wild hat (and jersey, thank you Laura!!!) plus a totally kick ass Nerf gun that Mommy would have never been able to afford.  These things?  They are AWESOME.  They are tangible, physical, touchable things that the kids can rip open and hold up and wear and play.

But...all of you secret santas, you Christmas angels, you anonymous elves..you have given my kids something that no money in this world could buy.  You have, once again, in all of your infinite beauty and generosity, given my kids a gift that is the perfect size, it's the perfect color and it's exactly what they needed:  You've shown them the good that is in this world.

I have four kids who have gone through a crappy time.  Even though they've made it through with flying colors, they've sustained some damage.  You can't see it on all of them, but it's there.  Tiny, hairline fractures just below the surface...they've seen the underbelly of this world, they've seen bad things and sad things and things that kids shouldn't have to see.  But the past couple of weeks?  They've seen such amazing grace.  Such giving, such unabashed love, and they've seen it up close.

I can thank you all from now until the end of time, and it wouldn't be enough.  How can you thank someone for showing your kids something as golden and special as this?  How on earth could I ever thank these people for materializing in front of my kids as the pure embodiment of the Christmas spirit?

Bottom line is, I can't.  There aren't enough words, there aren't enough exclamation points, there aren't enough hugs.  But please know...I am forever indebted to you and someday, somehow...I will pay it forward.  There will be a day when I will be the one sending that fat envelope, I'll be the one leaving a bag of groceries on the front step, I'll be the one sending gifts in the mail to someone who needs it.  And even more importantly?  My kids will be there with me.  What you've given them is priceless:  you've given them the knowledge of what it feels like to be the ones receiving this love.  And for that, I truly cannot thank you enough.

And now on with the Fill in the Blank stuff......

1. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to:see this time of year through a child's eyes.  Forget about trying to be perfect, trying to make everything Martha Stewarty and Real Simply perfect, and just try to embrace this season for what it's really about.  Once you start doing that, the cheer spreads like a freaking virus..

2.  The things I love most about Christmas are:the little things.  The pleasantries you exchange with a harried cashier at Target, the glow of Christmas trees that peek out from houses as you drive by at night, the kids who wear Santa hats to school.  The news stories about strangers paying off layaway balances for struggling families.  The feeling you get when you stuff a couple of dollar bills into a Salvation Army bell-ringer's bucket outside of your favorite grocery store.  These little things that only happen during the weeks that lead up to Christmas Day.  

3.  The holiday season is a time for: new beginnings, hope rekindled and reinforcing the love you have for family and friends.

4. My favorite thing to eat at the holidays is: Candy canes.  Honey baked ham.  Iced sugar cookies.  And did I mention candy canes?  Our tree starts out with about 40 candy canes...by the time Christmas Day rolls around, you're lucky to find one or two hidden deep within the branches.  Please ignore the crinkling of plastic wrappers coming from my pockets.

5.  I will be spending Christmas:In my pajamas, with my kids.  Listening to the boys fight over who gets to play their new game on the Xbox first, watching William play with his new shinny hockey set, watching seasons one and two of "That Seventies Show" with Molly.  And eating ham.  Lots of ham.

6. Tis better to (give or receive?):Oh my gawd.  If you don't know my answer to this one, you must be a first timer here.  To receive is to be blessed beyond your wildest dreams; to be able to give is that feeling times infinity.  This year, I couldn't do the former if someone hadn't done the latter.  Both are wonderful, and both are indescribable.  I will say that this one is a tie.  A sweet, sweet tie.

7. I'm dreaming of apeaceful, relaxing, rewarding, beautiful Christmas.  And I know...dreams do come true.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, beautiful holiday, no matter what you celebrate.  Love those around you, love those who are with you in spirit, love those far away from you.  And know that your love is felt, and appreciated.

Merry Christmas, my friends.  May God bless you and yours, and may you be truly lucky enough to feel the real reason for the season in your heart.

And if you are so inclined, please fill in your own blanks this Friday and link up to the lovely blog The Little Things We Do so others can see what this beautiful season means to you.


Search Engine Musings...and how to tell God "Hint received, man!"

So you know I like to look at the stats tab that Blogger offers.  It's not like I get thousands of hits here every day (ha) but I do find it kind of interesting to see how people find me, out of the billions of other sites in the world.

The gross/funny ones are always good for a laugh.  Lots of guys in Germany looking for some hot hausfrau action.  My post about "Craigslist, Segways and Again with the Anal" still hooks in a few poor souls every week (and I often wonder if they ever do find all that they're looking for on craigslist).  And the fact that over the past year and a half I've mentioned "ladygardens", "boners" and "three pumps and an apology" draws in a few looky-loos every week too.

But the ones that always get me are these:  "What to do when your husband leaves you".  I still get at least a dozen of these a day, sometimes more.  Way more.  There are endless variations:  "My spouse left me, now what?"  "What do I do when husband leaves me with debt" "How to hold your head high when husband leaves"  "Being left for another woman" "How to deal with being left".  Etc.  But last night, I read one that felt just like a kick to the gut:

"What do I tell my kids when their dad leaves right before Christmas?"

Cut to a chubby, fleece-clad Jenny weeping over the laptop.

Seriously, can you imagine what this person was feeling?  And I honestly don't have any advice for her.  Other than my standard, "be all strong, you'll get through this, yada yada yada" stuff.

What kind of guy would do this?  Are there people out there who are so dense that they don't understand how this stuff is remembered?  It's never just "Oh my dad left us" or "I remember when dad took off".  It's that, plus so much more.  Like an Anguish Layer Cake.

There's the base layer, of course, which is the thickest part of the cake:  Daddy left.  On top of that is however Mommy reacted.  Was she crying so hard she could barely talk when she told us?  Was she eerily quiet? Did she look like a zombie, or like a lifeless marionette being moved by some giant, out of sight hands? Or did she just pretend that EVERYTHING IS FINE?  Third layer is what you were doing when you found out.  Were you playing outside and a family meeting was called?  Were you getting tucked into bed?  Did they get you and your siblings together for it or break the news to each of you, individually?

And the icing on top of this horrible confection?  What time of year it happens.  I remember exactly where and when I found out that my parents were splitting:  It was summer time, a few weeks before school started.  My dad sat me down, alone, on my blue and white bedspread and he cried as he told me that my mom wanted him to leave.  My parents were kind of the opposite of most, it was mom who found someone else and dad who was left, but I don't think kids care about those details.  All you know, at that point, is that life has changed.  Forever.  And you never forget the small stuff.  I still remember how rough and nubby my bedspread felt under my hands, still remember being confused, and still remember how my 9-year old brain thought is was oddly comical see my tough, quiet dad sobbing next to me.  I remember asking him, "But where will you go?".

Big Daddy chose to leave us in the wee, early hours of the last day of school.  I remember it was still dark as he loaded up his little car and headed off to greener, firmer and more attentive pastures.  I made him tell the kids, because I knew, from my own experience, that they'd never forget finding out.

But Christmas?  And not just Christmas...there's Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, et al. It's four weeks of the year that carry some pretty huge significance on our calendars.  That's cold.  That's cruel and unusual, sadistic, mean, awful.  What could compel a man to leave his family during this time?  Did he promise to spend the holidays with his girlfriend?  Was the pressure of faking it under the glow of twinkling Christmas tree lights too much to bear?

I'm not thankful about much that Big Daddy has done over the past few years, but one thing that I think was halfway decent on his part was leaving during a lull.  He gave me and the kids a whole summer to deal with the blow, to get the big questions out, to tell our friends.  To prepare for the rest of our lives.

But for all of those women who stumble upon this little blog after sitting down at their computers, and through their tears type those words into Google or Bing or whatever, I'm sorry.  I don't know what to say other than that.  To wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year rings hollow and phony, to say "hang in there" or "be strong" seems trite and worn out.

I will say that you are not alone.  Even though you may feel like a tiny, solitary boat being tossed about a huge and violent ocean, you are not alone.  This Christmas or Hanukkah and New Year's Eve may suck, I won't lie.  But it will get better.  Trust me.  I'm sitting here next to a tree that was given to me at no cost because I'm poor and for Christmas the kids and I will be counting our blessings instead of presents under said tree, but it's better than it was before.

I will also say that this is when you need, more than EVER, to model the right kind of behavior for your kids.  This is the time when you need to put on your happy face and keep it on.  The kids are watching your every move, and even though I'm a huge proponent of being honest with them, it never hurts to put on a brave face even when you're dying inside.  And here's a little secret:  keep that happy face on long enough, and it starts to sink in.  Before you know it, you will actually start to feel again, feel things other than despair or depression or doom.  You'll start to feel joy again, I promise.

And someday?  You will have a Merry Christmas again.  More importantly, your kids will.  You cannot change what has happened.  He's left?  That's his choice.  You can choose to move on, to build a new life for you and the kids.  It's not going to be easy, and believe me, it's not always going to be fun.  But you can do it.

Ok, so I wrote everything up there yesterday morning, before going to work.  And while I was in the bathroom at school that day, I was thinking about this post (like you think about anything more worthwhile in there??) and had a tiny little epiphany.

Remember how I recently learned to try and see things from other points of view?  So as I sat there in the preschool bathroom, I thought, for a second, about why a man would leave his family at Christmastime.  I thought about it like a man would think about it, and I came up with this:  Perhaps they leave at this time of year because they think it's the right thing to do.  Maybe they feel as though they're doing their family a favor, maybe they've done such a good job of separating themselves from their family (in their head) that not being there for the holidays seems like the right thing to do.

Or maybe they're just selfish, mean babies who let their pee-pees do all the thinking.  Whatever the case may be, remember these two points:

It will get easier and

You're not alone.

Now on to the "hint" thing:  So I mentioned up there ^^ that I got a free Christmas tree, right?  I did.  Apparently when you are deemed "food shelf-worthy" you qualify for a program that allows you to go to a special "Christmas Shoppe" and pick out a few gifts for your kids.  If you know me, you know I'm a weeper.

I've done a lot of weeping over the past week or so.  A lot.  I mean, a lot even by my soggy standards.

So, this "Christmas Shoppe" was at a church not too far from my house.  My friend and I went (not sure if said friend wants her life publicized so I'll refer to her as Friend for now).  Friend and I were a little wary about this...we had imagined a dark church basement with a few piles of donated toys, and both of us were terrified that we'd run into people we knew.  We shouldn't have worried.

It was a lovely, clean, well-lit and well-run operation.  We were both able to pick out a few things for each of our kids.  I was thrilled to the gills to find big packs of socks for all of my boys (believe it or not, all three have said they'd like socks for Christmas.  Have I mentioned how much I love these kids?).  A gorgeous scarf for Molly.  A few other items that I can wrap and put under the tree.  They even had rolls of wrapping paper and tape.  If you are one of the kind souls who donate items to places like this?  Know that what you do is appreciated.  Very much.

So anyhoo.  I approached the little table where you check out with your items, and who do you think I saw?  Yep.  The man from my church.  The man from the food shelf.  The man who lost his son, Nick.  Our eyes met, and for the second time this month I found myself in front of the man who made a difference in the lives of my kids.  And, for the second time this month, I started blubbering like a lunatic (this poor guy must think I just walk around crying).  He was sweet, didn't bring up the food shelf thing, just asked me, "How are you?". That was all.  How are you.  Not, "Oh, I see you're still poor" or "Jeeze, you again?".  Just "How are you?".

He checked out my bags, took my hand and wished me and the kids a Merry Christmas, and then, as I was leaving, called out, "Hey!  Do you have a Christmas tree yet?".  I shook my head, no.  He walked over with a little slip of paper in his hand.  "There's a tree lot out back.  Give this to the guys there...we want you to have a tree."

And that's the story about how we got our tree.  It's also the story about how I think God, or someone else pretty high up there, wants me to keep running into that man from church.  I just have to figure out why...is it to remind me of how good life is?  Or maybe that I need to realize that the hand I've been dealt is kind of crappy, but it could be so.much.worse.  I think part of it is a reminder that I need to give back.  The kids and I have been on the receiving end of so much goodness, so much generosity, so much LOVE, we need to pay it forward.

I don't have the means to give much, but I do have a little spare time, a strong back and the desire to help in whatever way I can.

Beginning next week, I'm volunteering at the food shelf.  A couple hours a week...not much, I know, but it's a start.

And maybe, just maybe...I'll run into someone I know.  Someone who needs a hand.


Do I know "The Reason for the Season?" Pretty sure I do.

Here's the thing about facebook:  nothing, and I mean NOTHING you put on there is ever really private.  You can cinch up your security settings as tight as Kris Jenner's face, and yet...sometimes all it takes is a friend of yours liking something on your page; commenting on your status and *BOOM* all of a sudden, you're not clucking away in a small gathering but rather, screaming to a packed stadium through a megaphone.  Point being, people other than your friends can see the stuff you post.

Today I saw something that an old friend of mine posted.  She was talking about how a friend of hers hated the Christmas season and felt like a Grinch because she couldn't buy her kids lots and lots of things.  This saddened my old friend and led her to muse, much like SJP on SATC, "and it makes me wonder how many other people feel this way?  Don't they know it's all about the birth of our savior?  Tis the reason for the season.  I wish more people would remember that."  Or something like that.

Why do I bring this up?  This old friend happens to be the woman who called me out about my financial status a few weeks ago.  The one who, when I said I couldn't attend her birthday party because it was too far for me to drive, made a big stink out of it and went so far as to point out that she thought I'd been making "non-essential purchases" as of late (which I should really thank her for, by the way.  "Non-essential" has become a running joke in my circle of hens).  Anyhoo, it's all here in this recent post.

Was her status about me?  I don't know.  I'm not so self-absorbed to think that I'm the only one who may be dropping Grinch references about this time of year.  He is pretty iconic, after all.  I do know she reads my blog, which is fine with me...have at it, girl.  And I do know that just a couple of days ago I mentioned in a post that I don't like this time of year because I feel like The Grinch.  Coincidence?  Mayhap.

But here's what chaps my hide about her post, and other posts just like this:  it reeks of passive aggressiveness.  Vague yet detailed status updates like this are today's version of writing on bathroom walls. Just like frustrated, spineless girls and boys used to scratch whatever what was on their mind onto the mint green painted walls of the high school lavatory, people now turn to facebook to tell the world what they think about their "friends".

Maybe she was talking about me, maybe she wasn't.  Whoever she was writing about, though, deserves to feel the way they feel.  In my case, my Grinchiness isn't so much about not being able to buy my kids LOTS and LOTS of stuff.  Sure, there's a little part of me that wishes I could go out and stuff carts full of goodies for my kids, but for the most part, this season makes me sad because it reminds me of all that my kids have lost.  The traditions, the memories, the structure..it's all gone.  And it bums me out.

The reason for the season?  Yes.  Yes, my dear old friend, I'm fully aware of that reason.  I'm not one to cram my religion down anyone's throat.  I'm not even one to drop my beliefs in everyday conversation.  But I go to church.  I volunteer my time to teach young people of my faith all about God and Jesus and the Bible and everything else all churchy like that.  I get it.  December 25th is the day Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.  It's also the day my Jewish friends eat Chinese and see movies.

Maybe my old friend's post wasn't about me.  Maybe it was someone else in her life, another woman who is feeling frustrated because she can't meet the expectations of the season, real or imagined, and that makes her feel crappy.

Here's the funny part of this story:  You know when I saw this post?  I saw it this morning, after I had dropped William off at school.  After I dropped him off, I went to the food shelf.  I've mentioned the food shelf a couple of times now (just the other day, I believe) but haven't gone into too much detail about it.  I'll do that, soon (working title:  "Adventures in Foodshelving" or "My Mom Went to the Food Shelf and all I got was this Lousy T-shirt and some mac & cheese").  I'm not embarrassed about it.  I don't care who knows.  There's a food shelf about 2 blocks away from my house.  I used to donate food and clothes there, a lifetime ago.  And now, I sometimes get food there.  That's life.  It's not as awful as you'd imagine it to be...in fact, once you get past the initial horror it's not unpleasant.  But we'll dish about that later.

Today I went because we're short on food.  I picked out a cart full of soup, pasta, tuna, cans of green beans and corn.  They have a freezer where you can pick out as much bread as you want.  Have I ever mentioned the fact that I make legendary French toast?  I do.  So I made sure to grab two loaves of French bread.  I think I gasped when I saw that they had milk there today.  Gallons.  It expires in three days, but you know what?  It'll be gone in two.

I hurried through, because I had to be at work a bit before noon.  I "checked out", where the volunteers go through your cart, separate the hygiene products and the bread and the produce from everything else (today I got to sit there and listen while two kindly older women bickered about whether or not the jug of syrup I had was considered a condiment or a baking product.  One of them finally said, "Oh it's Christmas time.  Give it to her."  I have no shame left...not a freaking drop.).  Got everything boxed and bagged up, and left my cart by the back door so I could go get my truck and move it closer to make loading it up easier.

When I moved my truck, one of the food shelf delivery vans had pulled up next to the backdoor.  No biggie, I thought, and parked a little ways away.  I walked back to the building, grabbed my cart and proceeded to load up.

Everything loaded up, I walked my cart back to the building, and almost bumped into the man who had been driving the van.  "Oh, I'm sorry, young lady.  I think I may have taken your spot!  I didn't mean to do that."  I looked up, and immediately recognized him.

He goes to my church.  He and his wife had a son named Nick.  Nick died in a car accident a few years ago, he was a senior in college and was heading back to school after coming home for a weekend visit.  This man and his wife lost their boy Nick, lost him in the blink of an eye.

This man and his wife have honored their son in many ways.  One of the ways they do so is to offer scholarships to our church summer camp every year.

This past summer, Henry and William went to camp.  They went there thanks to this man and his wife and the scholarships they offered in the name of their son Nick.  There was no way in hell I could have scraped up the money for them to go, not in my wildest dreams.  I managed to come up with the down payments, but when it came time to pony up the rest, I had nothing.  "No problem" the people at my church said.  "We have a couple of very generous scholarships for Henry and William.  No kid should be denied camp because of financial hardship."

When you get the scholarships, the church encourages you to write thank you notes to the donors.  I have the thank yous, have had them for almost five months.  Sitting there, on my desk, ready to go.  I never sent them.

This man and his wife came to our confirmation night a few weeks ago.  They talked about their son, talked about how it felt to lose a child, talked about what they've done to deal with their grief.  I wanted to stop, after their talk, and thank them, but I had my group of girls with me and I was sure that I'd start sobbing the second I attempted to talk to them.

Sobbing like I did this morning, in the rain, in a food shelf parking lot.  "You go to my church, sir" I began.  And I told him everything.  About my boys, about the scholarships, the thank you notes, the talk at church.  I cried, ugly cries I'm sure, as I apologized to him for not giving him and his wife a proper thank you.  "I'm sorry" I stammered out.  "I'm so sorry."

This man hugged me.  He hugged me tight, and as his face pressed near my ear he said "It's okay.  Thank you for saying something."  We broke from the hug and he held my shoulders and looked at me and said, "We suffered a horrible tragedy, but look at what has happened...your boys went to camp.  You felt Nick's love.  This is God working through all of us.  This is God's love in action."

When I got home, I still had tears on my cheeks.  I put the perishables away and quickly checked my emails before heading out to work.  I saw the status of my old friend, and I shook my head.

I know the reason for the season.  I know it well.  I felt it, today, in a cold wet parking lot.  I felt it in the embrace of a man who has lived through a parent's worst nightmare.  I felt it as I told him about how my boys still talk about that week at camp and how grateful, how deeply grateful I am, and always will be, for this gift.

So yeah...I know the reason for the season.  And for you, my old friend, and anyone else up there on a pretty, shiny pedestal of judgment and assumption...it's not just this season.

It's the reason for every season.  I know it, my kids know it...that wonderful man and his equally wonderful wife know it.

But you, my old friend.  Do you?


Ten on Tuesday..already

Holla, friends.  Your crazy friend Jenny can still type and I'm back with the TEN.  Not feeling so crazy today.  I had a nice long talk with my ex-mother in law today.  I love her.  We were wrapping up our conversation, when I had a sudden case of Tourette's and blurted out, "Hey, I have to tell you how bad things are here.  I know I shouldn't drag you into this, but I need to talk about it."  And then I proceeded to tell her, in stuttering, weepy, gory detail, how life has been for me and for the kids since Big Daddy stopped paying child support.  Everything, from the foreclosure mess to how I recently made a trip to a food shelf (I haven't shared that story yet, have I?  Oh, I will.  Believe me, I will.).  She was upset.  She was comforting.  She was supportive.  Will it change anything?  I doubt it.  But I feel better.

So anyhoo.  My insanity level is no longer at crisis level.  It's back to functioning level, which is awesome because I got me a whole lotta functioning to do this week.

On with the Ten...

1.  I've been openly bitching about the freakishly warm weather we're having here in Minneapolis, but today I took Walter on a long walk and not once did I worry about slipping on ice and shattering my hip.  So I guess (and I say this with a begrudgingly submissive tone in my voice) this warmer weather is ok.  But it should snow for Christmas, dammit.

2.  Last week, during my mental breakdown on Panic Monday, I threw my phone.  I'm not usually a thrower, but up until that morning I had never crawled under a bathroom vanity and wept before either so it was a day rife with firsts.  Within seconds of doing it, my inner Joan Crawford was flooded with remorse.  But remorse don't buy new phones, does it?  Dammit.  I'm left with 2 choices:  suck up my pride, renew for 2 more years with Satan's Network AT&T and get a new phone, or buy a cheapie go-phone thingie.  Seeing as how I'm penniless this week I have time to think about it.  But lesson learned:  don't throw tech items.

3.  Addendum to the phone thing:  It's not so bad being phoneless.  But I will admit I'm wondering how many booty call texts I've missed.  (did you hear my sarcasm?)

4.  Please let the Christmas commercials end.  Please.  Especially the Best Buy ones.  What do all those bitches have against Santa, anyway?

5.  Little known fact:  Howie Mandel voiced Gizmo in "Gremlins."  Who knew?

6.  I've been watching Friends reruns on Nick at Nite.  It's conveniently on at my bedtime.  Once again, Chandler is my favorite and Monica bugs the crap out of me.  Is it wrong that I now have a bunch of first grade girls at my school saying, "How YOU doin'?"?  And OMG, the high waist jeans.  My eyes, oh my eyes.

7.  Does Google Chrome work?  Ever?

8.  So thanks to some Redbox freebies, I've watched Friends With Benefits, Crazy Stupid Love and Our Idiot Brother.  The only one I can recommend?  Crazy Stupid Love.  It was sweetly predictable (with one major OMG moment) but super good.  And I have to warn you:  Our Idiot Brother contains a "seen from behind BALL shot".  And I'm not talking about a basketball.  Naked man, bent over.  Not a pretty sight in real life, definitely a shocker in a movie.  Especially when you're sitting next to your 16 year old daughter.  Awkward.

9.  So in an attempt to drum up some business on eBay, I added "Best Offer" on all of my items.  So far, it's been working meh, ok.  But I forgot how bad my eyes used to hurt from ROLLING so much after getting some ridiculous low-ball offers.  Really?  Ninety percent off the asking price?  I'd have to be living in a cardboard lean-to, going to the library to use the internet and posting auctions using pictures I've drawn with a Sharpie before accepting that.  (and yes, sometimes I do accept those offers because money is money and beggars can't be choosers.  But still!  Really??)

10.  I'd like to admit something, something that may change the way you feel about me.  Something I've never told anyone.  I've been a liar, I've been a faker.  I've pretended to love them, sung (sang??) along to their songs, watched the movies..but I don't like The Beatles.  I do love The Grateful Dead though.

Come up with YOUR ten and post them over at Linny's Vault.  She's awesome because she admits to having chub rub.  And that makes me like her even more.

Happy Tuesday!!!


How To Keep A Smile On Your Face While You're Going Insane

Going crazy.  It's not just for the hopelessly insane anymore.

I honestly feel like I'm losing my marbles.  I won't bore you with the mundane details, like the day last week I have dubbed Panic Monday.  That was the morning I curled up under the weird little spot under my bathroom vanity (I think there's supposed to be a little tufted stool there so the Lady of The House has somewhere cushy to sit while she applies her makeup), hit my head against the wall and sobbed like Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense" or Brad Pitt in "Se7en" (awww what's in the box) or any of these weepy mothers in the clip below:

Yeah, it really was like that. Mostly like the first Sylvester Stallone one, and the Tom Cruise one.

Everything just seems to be piling up on me, like the bulldozer of life just keeps shoving piles of STUFF on me, covering me.  I feel like I'm drowning, to be honest with you.

Maybe it's the holidays, maybe it's PMS (one of these days I am going to WRITE DOWN WHEN IT HAPPENS so it doesn't blindside me), maybe it's the crushing poverty I'm dealing with.  It could be me trying to raise three teens and an 11 year old who is obsessed with drawing giant penises on everything (umm...the front window, people.).

It's life.  And I am feeling it.  I can't be the only one, so here is my little list for any of you who may also be feeling the strands of sanity slipping between your fingers:

1.  When someone asks you, "Hey, how are you!?!?" don't pause, don't spread the crazy around like cream cheese on a warm bagel. Look at the greeting friend, or the perky waitress or the guy behind the counter at Super America and repeat after me:  "FINE!"   "GREAT!"  or, to add some variety, "JUST FINE!"  "JUST GREAT!".  Practice saying this in the mirror.  Make sure you have a smile on your face while you're saying it, otherwise you look insincere and that might trigger well-meaning conversation.  Which will probably lead to you crying in a public place.  So just smile. 

2.  When someone innocently says to you, "Happy Holidays!" or "Hey, Merry Christmas!" please don't tell them to eff off.  It's not nice.  You should also avoid telling them that Christmas can kiss your big white Irish ass.  Just say, "Hey!  Back at ya!".  You can mutter all that other stuff when you're alone in your car.  Because not everyone feels the holiday blues.  There are actually people who embrace this season.  If you're like me, you are patiently waiting for January 2nd, when all of these insipid commercials will end and your kids stop looking at you like they're waiting for you to rip off your Mom mask and reveal the Grinch face underneath.  I can't help how I feel about the holidays...I desperately want to feel that warmth again, that cheer, that love.  But the fact that I'm going insane is like wearing a pair of BlueBlockers that block out all holiday spirit.  Baaah.  Humbug.

3.  Go ahead and cry.  Try to do it in private though, maybe when the kids are in bed, or my all-time favorite place:  in the shower.  That way your mascara doesn't run.  Holding in tears that want to come out is like holding in pee:  it can cause bladder infections.  Ok, maybe not really.  But letting it out is cathartic.  Just like peeing.  Or is that just me?  Whatever.  Point is, go ahead and let the waterworks fly.  You'll be able to act more sane later in the day.

4.  Talk to friends who are also going insane.  You know you have them.  Give them a call.  Or better yet, have a few glasses of wine with them.  When you're surrounded by crazy, your own special bag of whackadoo doesn't seem so awful.  Crazy loves company, ya know.

5.  If all of your insane friends are busy wailing in the shower or muttering in their cars, try keeping a short list of your favorite, sane friends.  My friend Gillian is the sanest person I know.  She's my go-to call when I get that twitchy feeling.  I called her and Uncle Lorie last Monday when the walls started closing in and they both did a bang up job of holding my hair and talking me down off the ledge.  Lorie came over and made sure I wasn't sharpening my Ginsu knives on my fingernails and made me jasmine tea, which I have never tried but do believe helped mellow the crazy. Gillian is a master at crazy-person soothing:  she not only makes you feel less cuckoo, she somehow also manages to make you feel pretty and like the best mom in the world.  And sometimes she brings you brownies.  But don't get any ideas...I saw them first.

6.  In the event that your insane friends are all being counseled by your sane friends, try calling your drinking buddies (that is, if your drinking buddies are separate entities from your pool of sane/insane friends).  9 out of 10 psychologists would say that tipping back a glass or box of wine when you're feeling down is a bad idea, but the 1 that's left over says "GO FOR IT".  At the very worst, you'll wake up the next day with a wine mustache and be filled with panic over shit you posted on facebook.  At best?  You'll laugh at the shit you posted on facebook.  But be responsible, people.  No driving after the wine.  Can you imagine the horror of seeing a drunken mugshot of yourself? 

Ok, I feel a little guilty about posting that picture.  Sure, it's a random one I found after typing "crying mugshots" into Google but she actually looks like a nice person.  Maybe she's just a poor mom who went insane, and here I am, a fellow looney tunes using her darkest moment of despair for a laugh.  Let the record show, I feel remorse about this.

But seriously, let the record also show that it would be super humiliating to have this on the Internet.  So don't drive drunk, no matter how badly you want Taco Bell.  Ok?  Crazy in the suburbs is one thing, crazy in prison is a whole 'nother can of nuttiness.

7.  Get off your big butt and exercise.  Part of the reason I went batshit crazy last Monday was because I was once again, out of gas.  I was hoarding my last 1/4 tank for taking William to hockey and Henry to a choir concert and my fat ass to the gym, and wouldn't you know one of my angels missed the bus.  Meaning I had to drive them to school (it's too far to walk, otherwise I would have gone all Postal Mom and made them walk).  So guess what got sacrificed?  Yes, my trip to the gym.  A half hour later, as I was curled up in the fetal position under the bathroom vanity, I was feeling sorry for myself because I couldn't go to the gym after work.  Guess what I should have done?  ANYTHING.  I should have walked outside, I should have done my kettlebell DVD, I should have pretended I was Richard Gere in An Officer And A Gentleman and done pushups in the shower.  But instead, I wasted a good hour of my day bawling.  Next time, I'm going to remind my crazy self to work out.  You don't have to be in a gym to do it.

8.  Get off of facebook.  Seriously.  Facebook is to a crazy person what a crowded bar is to a fist-pumping, wifebeater-wearing-redneck jealous boyfriend with anger issues.  You have a lot of friends on facebook, and chances are only a slim percentage of them know that you're insane.  So the friends who are in, say, the Bahamas and can only bitch about the room service or complain about the water pressure in the spa shower don't know that you want to scratch out the monitor when you read their posts.  People don't know that not every person in facebook land is holding hands, swaying back and forth and singing the Whoville Christmas song (yes that's my second Grinch reference, scorekeepers).  If you're like me, which means you are crazier than an outhouse rat, every single status update that reeks of good cheer is like a bully tripping you in the hallway at school.  BUT...it only seems that way because...wait for it...you're crazy.  So play your Words With Friends, mayhap a little Family Feud, stalk your stalkees, and then log off.  Nothing good will come from you staying online.

9. This is my last, and my most favorite, tip:  Do something nice for someone else.  You know how awesome it feels when you're surprised by a random act of kindness?  Try being the kindness giver.  And don't say "Oh I'm so poor, I can't!" because if I can do it, any one of you can.  It's not always about buying stuff...you can do so many things for other people that will make them feel good, which in turn, makes YOU feel good.  And feeling good has been clinically proven to scale away the crazy that has built up in your brain.  Or maybe that's Listerine pre-brush rinse, but you get what I'm saying, right?  Make a batch of brownies and run them over to your neighbor, offer to watch a friend's kids, volunteer for something you'd normally NEVER do, have your kids make ornaments or cards for their grandparents.  Just be there for someone when they need you.

Because being crazy doesn't mean you can't try and spread some joy.

One other thing you may want to try...write out your feelings.  I've been so wound up this past week, and now, after writing about it, even though these may resemble the writings of Ted Kaczynski, I feel a little less insane.


The Guthrie Presents: A Christmas Carol...You Gotta See This

So, if you know me, you know I am very meh about Christmas.  It's actually a pretty depressing time of the year for me (and for lots of other people, I imagine).  I cringe when the commercials start, and that Target commercial that shows the Donna Dixon-esque blonde and her uber-nerd bespectacled husband and the damn present she won't/can't open actually makes me want to boycott Target.  Which would be like boycotting oxygen, but still.

When I got the email from The Guthrie offering up tickets to the iconic "A Christmas Carol", I was a tiny bit nonplussed.  I knew that these tickets are highly coveted, and I knew that generations of Minneapolitans have been flocking to this show for 35 years.  I knew that once you see it performed at the Guthrie, you are infected with it, and have to see it again, every holiday season, for the rest of your life.  But...and here's where the puzzlement figured in...I don't like Christmas.  I wondered if I could handle a couple hours of theater-y merriment and, gulp, a literal Dickensonian Christmas fix.

The good news:  I could handle it.  And not only handle it, but, by golly, it transformed me.  I walked out of that theater brimming with the Christmas spirit (and yes, I'm sure the lovely pinot noir served up by the fabulous barkeep Ben stoked the fires of that spirit, but anyhoo...) and feeling the joy, the love and the warmth of the season.

Guthrie?  Well done.

Where to start with this production?  Where else but what you see when you first walk into the Wurtele Theater:  the most amazing set EVER.  Worthy of a Broadway show, the set transports you from the hustle and bustle of downtown Minneapolis to a charming London street circa 1843.  Every last detail has been painstakingly attended to, from the frost on the window panes to the quilt on Scrooge's bed.  Adding to the magical trip back in time are the rotating buildings and the trapdoor openings on the floor...it's like the worlds coolest dollhouse come to life.

And the acting:  can we talk?  I'm not the world's foremost authority when it comes to casting, acting and all that goes along with it, but this play was, in my humble opinion, PERFECTLY cast.  J.C. Cutler is the actor playing Ebenezer Scrooge, and dude nails it.  He does the seemingly impossible:  playing a character who is completely loathsome but somehow endearing...I felt sorry for him, almost from the get-go.  His misery is palpable, and as the story unwinds, his regret over the way he's lived his life is etched upon his face and displayed in every move he makes.

Other standout performances include Kris L. Neslon as Bob Cratchit, Angela Timberman as Scrooge's housekeeper/lush Merriweather, Zach Fineblum as the young Scrooge and Lee Mark Nelson along with Suzanne Warmamen as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, respectively.  The Fezziwigs are present in the production for a brief time, but they definitely make a fabulous impression.  I want to be invited to a bash like theirs!

Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the ghosts:  Past, Present and Future.  Absolutely GORGEOUS and DETAILED costumes and effects on these characters.  I don't want to give too much away here but these otherworldly creatures almost steal the show.  One of them, and I'm not going to name any names, makes a remarkably terrifying entrance which, according my date, "scared the **** out of me".  My apologies for this rather crude remark, but it was pretty freaking scary.   My apologies also to the little girl sitting next to me, I think seeing this chubby 45 year old jump a foot in her seat was probably the low-light of her night. 

Everyone knows how this story goes, we've all seen our share of productions, from the Muppets version to the Bill Murray movie "Scrooged" (one of my favorites) to, God help me for having this in my memory banks, the Mr. Magoo version.  It's hard, if not nearly impossible to take something so timeworn and make it fresh.  But that's exactly what the Guthrie has done.  And not only have they made it fresh, they've stayed true to the original story that Charles Dickens penned over a century ago.  Not much has changed, but this adaptation is incredibly watchable and immensely likable.  It takes a special cast and crew to manage something this spectacular, and the Guthrie has done a spot-on job with it this year.

Before I saw this play, I was in my typical Christmastime funk.  I worry about buying presents for my kids, I worry about trying to keep the spirit of the season alive when every day is such a struggle for us.  But when the Cratchit family was sitting around their meager feast, I felt moved.  I brushed away the ambush tears that sprang up in my eyes and swear to God I felt a Grinch-ish heart transformation happening.  I can't remember what he said verbatim, but Bob Cratchit said something along the lines of "Let's not dwell on our misfortunes, but rejoice upon our blessings".

And that's exactly what this Scrooge needed to hear.

Thank you, Guthrie Theater, for again allowing me opportunity to enjoy your amazing gifts.  I am going to use all of my super-blogger powers to try and procure tickets for this show so my children can see for themselves the beauty of the Christmas season, Dickens style.

Now, get over to the Guthrie's website and get yourself a set of tickets.  Stuck on a gift for that impossible-to-buy for person?  Let me suggest a couple of tickets to this show.  I guarantee it will be the right size, the right color and definitely the right sentiment.

Baby Teeth

The difference between people with kids and those without?  If you find stashes of human teeth in a non-child household you might think "serial killer" rather than, "awww, the Tooth Fairy was here". 

I was cleaning the other day (really? Did I really hear giggles and eye-rolling?) and I found teeth everywhere.  It was like being Jame Gumb's housekeeper.  Molars, little tiny front teeth, a couple of canines.  I found them in the junk drawer, in the top drawer of my bathroom vanity next to the floss and the concealer, in the little votive holder/change catcher in the kitchen.  Everywhere. 

Being the Tooth Fairy is so fun when you're a rookie.  I have vague memories of tip-toeing into the sleeping babe's room, gently holding their sweet angelic heads aloft while slipping the envelope containing glitter and a handwritten note and a crisp dollar bill under their pillow. 

That was what happened with Charlie, the first/alpha kid, and maybe for the first couple of teeth Molly lost. 

William, the fourth child, now just hands me whatever tooth has come out and I give him whatever I have floating around in my purse.  For the last tooth, I think he got a Subway coupon.  But the thought is still there. 

Now that they are all getting older and my mind is more occupied with things like lost innocence, lost ATM cards and lost remotes, I find myself wondering....what to do with the teeth?  Do you toss them in the garbage?  Bury them in the back yard?  I know, from years of watching CSI and Law & Order, that teeth aren't biodegradable.  They find them, years later, and I hate to think of the FBI knocking on the front door of one of my grown children after finding a mouthful of their teeth in a landfill or a backyard.  

I suppose I could go all Tim Burton/Ed Gein and make a mosaic picture frame or trivet with them.  But that might raise eyebrows.  Besides, I totally lost my glue gun in the big move last year. 

At moments such as these, I try to think WWMFWHCHD?  (what would my friends who have clean houses do?).  I know the answer.  They'd chuck the teeth without a moment's hesitation.  But I can't do that, not just yet.  Maybe it's because I'm so super sentimental, maybe it's because I come from a long and distinguished line of hoarders.  I don't know. 

But I do know that for now, the teeth stay.  I have moved them from their scattered resting spots, and gathered all of them in a baggie and tucked them into a dresser drawer, like the world's most horrifying stash.  They share drawer space with my collection of size 8/10 bathing suits, so you know they will lie, undisturbed, for a long time. 

Mommies, what do you do with the teeth?  I welcome any/all suggestions.  Just please don't tell me I'm the only one who has kept them.  This could easily turn into the next "What?  You guys didn't keep their umbilical cord stumps?" debacle.  Talk about awkward.



So you know how people write little pictures or messages on a steamy bathroom mirror, and the next person who steams it up sees the sweet little "I love you" or a heart or a smiley face?  I'm talking about people in non-dysfunctional relationships, people who still like each other, people still stokin' the fires of romance, you know.

Yesterday I took a shower (yes, my third one of the week!  I was on a ROLL!).  And as I stood in front of the foggy mirror, avoiding eye contact with the towel-clad middle aged woman standing there, I saw an image in the steam.

At first, I thought it was an upside down heart.  "Aww..which one of my angels are sending me a message?" I wondered.

And then I saw that no, it wasn't an upside down heart.  It was a huge, cartoony, right-side-up penis.

I can't say for certain which kid did it, but just between you and me?  I'd put my money on the 11 year old.

I cannot wait to tell this story to his future girlfriend.
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