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Saturday, December 28, 2013

How to survive the last part of Christmas break

Christmas break from school (and work for me) is a wonderful thing. We all look forward to it every year. Days of sleeping in. Nights of watching TV past the usual bedtime. The glitter and color of Christmas celebrations. The laughter (and ok, sometimes, gritted teeth) of time spent with siblings and cousins we don't see all the time. And then.

And then Christmas is over. The celebrations are mere crumbs and crumpled paper in our memories and the kids still have 10 days at home before school starts again. So now what?

Now the "How to Survive the Last Part of Christmas Break" idea list, that's what. Here's what's rolling around in my head...
  1. Empty the backpacks. You can skip this if you've already done it, but I can tell you that my kids' backpacks are sitting on their bedroom floors, untouched since they were dumped there the last day of school. Time to drag those things out, toss all the stale and crushed snacks left over from the class Christmas party, smooth out the instructions for the over-the-break project that's probably lurking in there, and for good measure, toss the pack in the washing machine to remove a semester's worth of dirt and germs.
  2. Edit the toys. In with the new, out with the old. While it would have been a good idea to do this before Santa arrived, doing it with shiny new toys in the picture makes tossing the old ones less of a painful experience.
  3. Spend those gift cards. I made the mistake letting Robbie spend his Christmas money at Target the day after Christmas. Now that 1,000-piece Lego is built -- yes, it did take him a good 5 or 6 hours to do. I should have waited until next week when the "I'm boreds" have hit.
  4.  photo 49b72e72-3886-4a23-ba40-bf524094ad1a_zpsba43b66a.jpgCreate. Bake or paint or build a snowman if you're lucky enough to have snow. Santa brought us a Rainbow Loom for Christmas. So far, we've made one bracelet. So next week when the kids are whining about wanting something to do, we'll work on a matched set. Provided I get my hind end to the post office today, next week my niece can use her well-honed Rainbow Loom skills to take it to the next level. I was the lucky recipient of a review copy of Loom Magic, a new book filled with 25 loomtastic projects.* There are instructions to make a watchband, a cell phone cover, hair barrettes and even rubber nunchuks. Since we are newbies to the loom, I'm sending my copy to Camryn. I can't wait to see what she whips up.
  5. Phone a friend. A little too much family togetherness can spoil the soup (or something like that). ( call it "family fatigue syndrome." Now that all the planning and prepping for Christmas is behind us, this last week of vacation is the perfect time for the kids to hang out with friends. Bonus points if they go to the friend's house.
  6. Clean out the cabinets and closets. Much to my children's unknowing chagrin, this is indeed on our list of things to do this coming week. I have 2, maybe 3, closets in mind. They won't love the task, but a little character-building decluttering never hurt anyone.
  7. Enjoy! As much as my kids might argue differently, I am not all about cracking the whip. I do want to enjoy this unencumbered time. We will take in a movie or two (matinees on the cheap, of course). We will sleep in. We'll watch the Rose Parade and a bowl game or two.
What will you do to thrive and survive this last week of Christmas break? I'd love to have a few more ideas to add to my list.

*Loom Magic is published by Sky Pony Press, the company that provided me with my free copy. If you click the link in this post, it will take you to If you buy the book from Amazon following my link, I will get a few pennies as a thanks for directing you there.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The love child with the funny name

Sing with me...

"On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..."

 photo 1C5AFCC3-BC39-41BA-B787-0FC24593EE14_zpswwpvyoy7.jpgA vintage-real-life-never-out-of-the-box-signature-on-her-bum-birth-certificate-included-Cabbage-Patch-Kid!

She was a little delayed on arrival, but given that she's been in a box since 1985, I'll cut her a break for not knowing about GPS.

The box came just as we were leaving for Charlie's basketball game. It was big, but light. I didn't have a sense of what was in it, but Mike was happy it had made it. So when we came home from the basketball game, we all sat in the family room as I opened the box. I'll admit to getting a little teary when I saw the yellow cardboard packaging with the chubby leafy baby logo.

Mike said he had tried to buy a doll with red pigtails, like the one my sister had, but I'm glad he didn't get that one. All those years ago, in the year without a Cabbage Patch Kid, I didn't want my sister's doll. I wanted my own. And now I have her.

She came, still affixed to the packaging with twisty wire, her birth certificate still glued to the cardboard next to her.

Her name: Elna Fanny.

Elna, which means "sun ray."

Fanny, which means, well, duh. Fanny, bum, bucket, buttocks.

My very own Cabbage Patch Kid and her name means, loosely translated of course, "sun shines out her arse!"

I wasted no time in opening the box. This is no collector's item doll. This is my doll. And I will love her and hug her and squeeze her...sorry to go John Steinbeck for a moment.

Anyway, it is pretty funny how maternal I felt toward Elna Fanny as soon as I freed her from her box. Even after 28 years encased in cardboard and cellophane (imagine the bedhead!), she has that baby powdery smell that I remember Cabbage Patch Kids having. Her birth certificate came with a form to fill out so I can send away for an official certificate suitable for framing, though I have a feeling that's a piece of mail that would go unanswered these days.

 photo F14671B8-ACA5-48E9-BB3E-3E99F5DBAA6F_zps95bydfsp.jpgI sat on the couch with her and smelled her chubby cheeks, finding myself talking in baby talk and allowing my mind to wander a bit about how it might be to have a REAL baby in the house again. Then I remembered real babies don't always smell like powder and they are not often content to sit in one place for 28 minutes, let alone years.

So, I thanked Mike with a kiss, and took Elna Fanny -- it's a must to use both names -- upstairs to bed with me. Oh, no worries. No co-sleeping here. She is tucked into her own call-it-a-bassinet-but-its-really-a-laundry-basket next to my bed, that just happened to be there in a handy spot.

She'll probably hang out in my room most of the time. Some days, maybe I'll pick her up just to smell her powdery sweetness. I might peek at her bum just to see the "real" Xavier Roberts signature again. And sometimes I'll just smile at the thought that Elna Fanny is the love child of my childhood dreams and my husband's desire to make them to come true.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 things you think to yourself when you're about to go under the knife

  1. Wait! I changed my mind.
  2. I hope the surgeon doesn't sneeze while he's cutting on my neck.
  3. Which will be better…sleeping a long time or watching movies for days on end?
  4. They really ought to re-think what qualifies as outpatient surgery.
  5. I wonder if the titanium in my neck will set off the metal detector at the airport?
  6. I hope the kids pick up the house a bit before my parents get here.
  7. Is it inappropriate to wear jammies to the surgery center? 
  8. I sure hope this works.
  9. I wish the kids were awake right now so I could give them one last squeeze.
  10. Wow. I could use a Diet Coke.
BONUS: This is going to be one epic game of Mommy's legs are broken.

See you on the flip side. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The year without a Cabbage Patch Kid

 photo bf8fde66-0227-4ff6-82da-f76e804bc817_zps179fabcb.jpgThe year was 1983. The hottest Christmas toy -- Cabbage Patch Kids -- were flying off the shelves and leaving parents all over scrambling to put one under the Christmas tree. I was 13, probably too old for dolls. I don't recall wanting a Cabbage Patch…that is until I didn't get one.

Christmas morning, my three siblings and I sat at the top of the stairs, waiting, as we did every year, for my dad to go downstairs to check if Santa had come. He made his way downstairs, started the coffee, and declared that we were up much too early, that Santa had not arrived yet.

We all hollered our objections and tore down the stairs into the living room, which we only really used for Christmas and for sitting in the green chair when we were in trouble. There, under the tree, was a so-ugly-it-was-cute, orange yarn-haired, chubby faced doll peeking out from behind a cellophane window. The doll's birth certificate showed through the window, proclaiming her name to be -- well, I don't remember what her name was, probably because I was distracted by another name on the box:

To Shelley. Love Santa.

This doll wasn't for me. She was for my 10-year old sister.  A wave of disappointment swept over me. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of another figure.

This one was a doll, too. She had a similar round face with wide eyes, though hers were brown, not blue. Similar, but there was something just a little off. Instead of two pigtails, this doll had dark brown hair pulled back into one pony tail.

She was just sitting by herself under the tree. No box. No birth certificate announcing her name. The only paper this doll came with was a sticker on her ugly white and seafoam green pajamas.

To Amy. Love Santa.

Santa had left me a fake doll. Of course by this time, I knew the truth about Santa, so I knew that my mother, my very own mother, had thrown me under the cabbage bus and left me with an inauthentic version of the best toy of Christmas.

I don't remember my reaction. I hope I was gracious, but I'm sure my disappointment showed. There was my sister playing with her real deal doll, straight from the Cabbage Patch, while I was left holding a square-bodied imposter that did not have Xavier Roberts' signature on its butt.

Looking back as an adult, I can appreciate that my mom took the time to actually make my doll. Sure, she may have risked bodily harm to snag my sister's authentic Cabbage Patch Kid, but she gave up hours of her own time to make mine. I think that doll, whose name I don't remember either, is still in my parent's basement.

I laugh about it now and tell the story to point out how my sister was always the most favored child. I have an appreciation of stretching the Christmas budget and trying to make the kids happy without breaking the bank. Yet somehow, there is still a sting in the memory of the year without a Cabbage Patch Kid.

Earlier this week, I was at #PLAYIndy, hosted by Indy With Kids. There was a Cabbage Patch doll there available for winning. I held out a secret hope that my name would be called. That I would be the one to walk away with the real deal doll.

I'm not sure what I would have done with the doll if I'd won it. Perhaps I would have donated it to the Giving Tree at church. Maybe I would have sold it on the Facebook garage sales. But just maybe, I would have brought her home, taken her out of the box and enjoyed my very own Cabbage Patch Kid.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

KitchenAid Mixer on your wish list? Enter to win one!

One of the greatest things about being a blogger in Indiana is having the opportunity to get to know and work with several of Indiana's farming families. Much of that opportunity has come from the Indiana Family of Farmers. I've learned so much about where our food comes from and how dedicated these farm families are to bringing nutritious food to my table.

Now IFOF wants to learn from you -- and they'll give you a shot at winning a 5 Quart Artisan KitchenAid Mixer just for sharing your thoughts on food safety and nutrition.

IFOF Kitchenaid Giveaway photo KitchenAidGiveawaycopy_zpsf39d1f6f.jpg

What's required of you?

Click the survey link, then answer just 10 questions (click, click, click) about your perceptions of food safety and nutrition. Once you complete the survey, you'll click "DONE" and be taken to the entry page for the KitchenAid. Simple as that. 

Do you have to live in Indiana to complete the survey? 

NO. If you eat, or feed other people, and you have opinions about food safety and nutrition, you're eligible to participate.

When can you enter? 

Well, NOW would be good. But the survey will be available until December 20. But seriously, don't procrastinate. You're thinking about it now. Just do it. Now. Please.

Ready? Set? Opinionate: IFOF Survey.

-- Contest is open to U.S. residents ages 18 and over and ends 12/20/13. --

This post was sponsored by the Indiana Family of Farmers; I received compensation in exchange for sharing this survey opportunity. I did not receive a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, which, given my culinary history, is probably a very good thing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I said "milk, bread, hot dogs..."

We're getting our first big snowstorm of the season tonight. Earlier today, while I was still at work, I texted Mike and said "I'll pick up the boys, but could you run to the store and pick up some milk, bread, hot dogs and hot chocolate?"

You know, the basics.

So when I checked Facebook shortly before I was ready leave work and saw this:

 photo Targetcart_zps6fc108a4.jpg

I quite honestly LOL'd. I think it's the funniest Facebook post my husband has ever made. I'm not sure if it was the caption that got me or the fact that he had strayed so far from my suggested list of items.

This is what a man-cart looks least a cart for my men.
  • Six different kinds of frozen pizza
  • Lean Pockets
  • Protein shakes and protein bars
  • Hot dogs 
  • Bread
  • Waffles & frozen French toast (Who buys that? Even I can make that!)
  • Syrup
  • Two kinds of Oreos
  • 3 kinds of crappy cereal 
  • Milk
  • And of course, Diet Coke
I think the only green he managed to pick up was the green on the Lean Pockets box. He does get points for going generic on many items and for using the Target Cartwheel

Charlie and Robbie were in heaven seeing the groceries unpacked, which means all of that food will last approximately 3-1/2 hours.

Mike hasn't caught on yet that you have to buy some food that they will only eat if they are really hungry -- things like carrots, apples, bananas, you know, the good-for-you stuff and things that require some work on your part and can't just be snarfed down straight out of the box.  Otherwise, the kids blow through it all like they haven't eaten in weeks.

I'm not complaining. Honestly. I'm glad to have been freed from the chaos that is a pre-snowpocalypse grocery store. But seriously, have you ever tried to warm up with a mug of Oreos?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy pills

 photo 82320686-01f5-4adc-b73a-7133f9fcf019_zps0ff75c35.png

I think my first encounter with depression happened when I was a junior in high school. No one called it "depression" then, but that's what it was. I don't recall all the details, but I do remember a succession of disappointments -- cut from the soccer team, not being selected for yearbook -- had something to do with the overwhelming sadness I felt. My parents sent me to the school counselor and I got through it.

I don't recall being especially depressed during college, though the self-medication I did at weekend fraternity parties during my freshman and senior years might have been an indication of something going on. Or that could have just been my own personal "girls gone not-quite-wild" endeavor.

My first major depression as an adult came in the form of post-partum depression after Charlie was born. It wasn't depression in the long crying jags, sort of way. It was post-partum OCD, which was characterized by what they call "intrusive thoughts" and is really not something I'm ready to write about in detail yet (yes, 15 years later), but suffice it to say, those 15 months were the darkest of my days, ever.

It was during that time that the most-wonderful-woman-in-the-world-who-quite-honestly-saved-my-life encouraged me to look at depression as a disease like diabetes. There is treatment available and it improves health and quality of life, so use it. And mostly I do.

Sometimes, though, I think "I've been doing so well, maybe I'm 'over' it." So I stop taking the antidpressant I've been on for years. And usually, I do ok...for a little while. And then my view of the world begins to change. Sometimes I get sad. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that all I want to do is stay in my bed, or once out get back in it. Mostly, I get very irritable and the world is full of idiots who don't know what they are doing.

So duh, just take the meds, right? Well, it's not actually that easy.

When I don't take the antidepressant for several weeks, or a month or longer, I feel things I don't usually feel when the drugs are managing the chemicals in my brain. I cry at situations where normal human beings would cry, when, medicated, I find tears hard to come by. I'm a little more spontaneous and free to be silly with my kids. I actually have a sex drive. (TMI?) Is it any wonder that many of the most famous artists and thinkers in history have also been classified as a little crazy?

That's where I am right now. I didn't make a conscious decision to stop taking my antidepressant. I thought it was on auto-fill at the pharmacy and I just didn't pay attention to the fact that I'd run out and hadn't gotten a call that a new prescription was ready. A week or two went by and I thought, "Hey, I'm doing pretty well. Maybe I can handle this." Then another week or two went by and people around me kept getting more and more irritating. I could hear myself being unnecessarily snappy. Mike commented that I seemed to be on edge. I do find myself tearing up with greater ease. But I am kind of enjoying the thought of being "free." I'm not paralyzed by sadness. I'm not feeling a magnetic pull to my bed. I'm not having any crazy thoughts.

So I'm here, trying to decide where to move from here. Go back to the antidepressant which has served me well and which resolves the world of so much of its idiocy (as I perceive it to be) and takes the biting edge off my anger? Or stay drug-free? If I choose Plan B, I know I'll need to employ some other techniques for dealing with it -- things like exercise, meditation, etc. (For the record, Mike is all for Plan A.)

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write about this. Maybe that's part of the unmedicated inhibition that I'm experiencing? Maybe because I suspect others know where I'm coming from. Who knows? I guess you can just call me crazy.