Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bullet-Pointed Christmas

Please verify that Spouse and I are not the only ones who send emails like this during the holidays.  Explanatory notes bracketed and in Italics, actual text of the email appearing as regular text.

Christmas-related bullet points:
  • When you pick up C., tell him that I have K's body spray (Vanilla Bean Noel - the girl equivalent of Axe; I sampled the lotion, and now I reek), and a bag to put it and the giraffe ornament in.  He needs to remember to take her gift and the chameleon glasses to school tomorrow.

[These are the chameleon glasses.  They are Big Kid's gift exchange item for swim team.  He picked them because they look, sort of, like goggles.  But are totally unusable as such, on account of how they have no lenses.

Giraffes are the source of a private joke between Big Kid and his girlfriend.]

  • P. needs to bring his teacher gifts tomorrow as well.

[I have had Little Kid's teacher gifts for weeks and fully intended to send them up to school early, on the theory that it would be one less thing for a teacher to carry home on the last day of school.  Of course, I utterly failed to follow through on this awesome suggestion-to-self.]

  • I found an appropriately sized flag case for Dad’s casket flag (also got a free bottle of body lotion for Nana when I bought K.’s stuff) and got the balance of J.’s gift while I was out today, so the only things remaining on my to-do list involve picking up Water Gardens photos at Barron Photografix and buying replacement (actual human-sized) boot cuffs for L.G. at the antique mall.  Intentionally pushed off those two trips because they are off of the beaten path and can be accomplished Saturday AM while the unwashed masses are the (non-antique) malls.  

[My dad died almost two years ago.  We are just now getting around to putting his flag in a thingy.  Which is okay, I suppose, given that we purchased room in the crypt at his church for his ashes, the tab for which has long since been paid for, but Dad's still in a box in Mom's room.  Baby steps.
I ordered crocheted boot cuffs for my friend's nine year-old daughter through Etsy.  The item listing said "child"-sized.  I bought them based on a general working knowledge of Etsy sites and an understanding that "infant" means infant, "toddler" means toddler, and "child" means a smallish human who is nevertheless bigger than an infant or a toddler.  Yeah, what arrived are toddler-sized as best.  Little Kid couldn't even get them over his feet, and Little Kid is pretty tiny.] 
  • While “I” am basically finished, “you” are not – still need to finish Christmas for A. and birthday for Z. (framing gift cards for both?) and Christmas for B. ($25 Harbor Freight gift card).

[I shop for all of the women and girls, plus Spouse and the kids, neighbors, teachers, ministers, friends, etc.; Spouse shops for his three brothers and one male nephew, plus me.  That's five people on Spouse's list, and eleven-ty million-trillion on mine, but I always end up finishing first.] 

  • I am still waiting on two packages – a scarf for M. and the hymn wall hanging for T. and L.  Both are set to be delivered to the house.  Everything else I was waiting for arrived at the office when I was out yesterday.

[I have always felt like we were weird gifters - not in the sense of weird people who gift, although that probably applies, too, but in the sense of gifters who gift weird stuff - and seeing "giraffe ornament," "chameleon glasses," "casket flag case," "crocheted boot cuffs" and "hymn wall hanging" in the above communique pretty much seals the deal.]

Friday, December 12, 2014

That's How You Know

You may be the mother of a teenaged boy if:

1.  Much of what you have purchased for him for Christmas is apparel.

2.  You decide that it's a good idea for him to try on some of said apparel before wrapping those items - notwithstanding that that will spoil the surprise - because you suspect that some things are too short or too tight.  Good call, because YES, and YES, and everything pant and jean ended up having to go back to be exchanged for bigger sizes.

3.  You end up taking one shirt and one pair of pants out of the gift column and give them to him in advance, after you realize that, while he has a sports coat and slacks to wear to holiday functions with the one dress shirt that currently fits him, that's pretty much ALL he has to wear to holiday functions.  And swapping out a different tie only gets you so far.

You may be the mother of a teenaged boy AND an elementary school kid if all of your holiday photos look like the one above, and you find yourself sympathizing with the photographer who had to get Manute Bol in the same frame as Spud Webb and Muggsy Bogues.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ninja Shopping Assassin

I got a late start on gift acquisition this year, on account of being sick, tired and sick of being tired for most of Thanksgiving.  (Thanks, ever-changing North Texas weather and killer pollen counts!)  But I am making up for it.

In fact, I'm prepared to call it:  I am a ninja shopping assassin.

Immediate family:  done.  Mother and mother-in-law:  very close to.

Sisters-in-law and grown niece:  final touches knocked out in a half hour of online shopping completed this morning, thanks to Lands' End, Macy's and Neiman Marcus, who conveniently offered me deep discounts, shipping deals AND money in the kids' Upromise account.  Only missing one monogram.

Baby nieces:  done.  Besties and their kids:  one item lacking, another en route from an Etsy seller.  Otherwise, complete.  Neighbors:  done.  Teachers:  done and done.

You get the idea.

Not done:  two brothers-in-law.  Spouse is in charge of acquiring their gifts.

Pray for us.

I like to make lists, and I like to efficiently cross items off of those lists (while also leaving some wiggle room for impulse purchases).  This year, I have a Trello board for my lists.  More on that later.  My game plan always involves purchasing and wrapping a little each day, every day, so I don't get overly stressed, and I try to wrap up that process at least ten days out from 12/25.  Spouse's default mode is more of the "wheels-off, skid-across-the-finish-line-on-fire" kind of thing (although he has gotten SO much better over two decades, something for which I take SO much credit, and it's been a long time since he accused me of being the Grinch for suggesting that waiting to do his shopping until 12/23 and 12/24 was kind of a wack idea).

(Note to file:  I am so blond that, after I looked up how to spell "wack" and was surprised to learn that it wasn't spelled like the real word "whack," it took me a five-count to go, "OH - SHORT FOR WACKY."  I am forever "discovering" obvious things like this.  A recent example, driving down Montgomery Street here in Fort Worth:  "Look, hon.   Billiards and Barstools put up their giant inflatable holiday bear, and Vending Nut put up a nutcracker again.  OH, I JUST GOT IT.  IT'S ALWAYS A NUTCRACKER BECAUSE THEY SELL NUTS.")

I have spent a lot of time this year serving as personal shopper for Big Kid, acquiring gifts for youth ministry staff and choir directors and white elephant items for multiple gift exchanges.  Once upon a time, I participated in multiple gift swaps, but now I'm down to one, and for every one I've dropped, Big Kid has picked up a replacement.  I refer to this as the Matter-Antimatter Theory of Holiday Gift Shopping:  everything offsets.  An aged family member dies, and a baby joins the family in the same year, so you still end up shopping for the same number of people.  And, apparently, I will always need to shell out $X for Y number of gift exchanges.

As Yoda would put it:  balance in the Christmas force, there is.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sudden Realization

Our tree is an I Spy.
I spy two (of three) sequined partridges (sewn by my mother),
a poodle and a felt horned frog (sewn by my grandmother-in-law),
one of a growing number of sock monkeys,
the Wizard of Oz,
the parrot judge from Alice in Wonderland,
a bunny rabbit dressed like Superman . . .
. . . and on, and on, and on, and on.
Our tree reminds me, sort of, of the Special Shapes Glodeo, an event we attended with Little Kid when we visited New Mexico during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  Only the non-balloon-shaped hot air balloons participate, and they don't take off.  Rather, they are inflated shortly before dusk, and when it gets sufficiently dark, someone counts backwards from ten, and all of the balloon pilots ignite their burners at once.  You have not lived until you are standing in the middle of a field (yes, you are encouraged to go out amidst the balloons), surrounded by the most random combination of nightlights-on-steroids imaginable.  To your left, the Belgian flag, next to Chesty the Marines Corps Bulldog.  To your right, a piggy bank next to a matryoshka doll.  In front of you, a giant bottle of whiskey.  I promise you that is one of the most surreally beautiful things you will ever see.
Our tree makes as little sense - and as much sense - as the Special Shapes do.  Each ornament is unique, some are quite weird, but, together, they make sense.
Every one has a story behind it, and the stories are a big part of the beauty.  I get that now.  When I was young, and being raised by a non-matching-tree mother, I used to go through holiday catalogs and wonder what it might be like to have a coordinated tree.  At one point, I suggested that Mom do away with all of the non-matching stuff and just buy a few kits of entirely impersonal, but totally coordinated, glass balls, in colors to match the furniture.  She declined.  And now I have my own version of a Hodgepodge Tree, with WAY too many ornaments, and I cannot imagine having anything else. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Speaking of Pineapples . . .

. . . and I WAS, I apparently have a kindred spirit living somewhere in Los Angeles, who decided that the best birthday theme for her toddler was . . . FOXES AND PINEAPPLES.  Because he loves (get ready for this) . . . FOXES AND PINEAPPLES.  What a co-inky-dink, right? 

(Technically, the kid wasn't so much of a fan of foxes, per se, as of that "What Does the Fox Say?" song, but I digress.)

This is exactly the sort of inspired nonsense that I live for.  Parties should be personal, and what's more personal than mashing up two totally unrelated things?  Bonus points if you can mash them up with this level of style:


Coupla things:

  1.  I'm prepared to call it:  2015 will be The Year of the Pineapple.  Well, at my house, anyway.  But I'm going to try to make it a thing elsewhere.
  2. I need a "Party Like a [Pineapple Wearing Sunglasses]" pillow, stat.
  3. This mother was fortunate that her child liked a song and a fruit that translated into a cute, citrus-colored party concept.  Both of our boys, oddly, were obsessed with Earth Wind & Fire's "September" as wee ones, although neither one knew the true title until years later.  Big Kid called it the "Oh-Dee-Oh Song," because of the chorus, and Little Kid called it "Night-A-Gruseum," because it was featured at the end of the film, "Night at the Museum," which Big Kid was watching on a continuous loop.  In terms of food, Big Kid's most notable culinary achievement as of age two was a chile relleno, and Little Kid liked carrot cake.  So, trying hard to mash up Earth Wind & Fire, cheese-stuffed chile peppers and carrot cake, and kinda failing.
  4. When I say "coupla things," I almost never mean a couple of things.

Entire party can be viewed on the Inspired By This site.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Apropos of Not Much: Pineapple Motives

I am really regretting that that Regretsy chick decided to focus on voiceover work (she's the voice of Wander's sidekick on "Wander Over Yonder," in case you were wondering), because this would be SO up her alley.
DISCLAIMER:  I swear that I did not go in search of crocheted monokinis on the Internet.  I was actually looking for boot toppers for a preteen girl.  Somehow, this showed up as a search result:
"A black monokini with pineapple motives."  I am 99.9% sure that the owner of the shop meant to say "pineapple MOTIFS."  But "pineapple motives" is now my FAVORITE PHRASE OF ALL TIME.  And I plan to work it into conversation AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Allow me to point out that I first discovered "a black monokini with pineapple motives" when I was still suffering from a horrible "dregs of seasonal rhinitis" cough, and I laughed so hard that I tripped my coughing wire, and then it was all I could do not to actually pee my pants.
There are so many things I love about . . . THIS.  Among them, why do items only ship to Australia from Georgia?  Some of the monokini selections seem to be targeted to the Americas (see "Puerto Rican Monokini" and "Jamaican Monokini").  Is there a market for crocheted-Puerto-Rican-flag-motif-plus-size-swimwear in Oceania?  If so, why?  And then there is this:

"And any size in other body parts" is my second favorite phrase next to "pineapple motives."

I have to say that the quality of the artist's work is amazing.  I can't even fathom how one would go about crocheting a one-shouldered ANYTHING, let alone a swimsuit, and the actual crocheting on some of the pieces is crazy-intricate.  The lily-motif bikini is absolutely beautiful.

But THIS one is my favorite.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christine the Elf

Friend Christine is a Santa elf in human form.
Sitting at my desk, and a message pops up.  Just a picture - this picture.

BING.  Another message.  "Does P need a chair in his room?"
YES.  If it's a shark-shaped chair, and it's flipping adorable, YES.
My actual response:  "OMG, WHERE ARE YOU?"
Her response to my response:  "Homegoods!  Call me."
As I am dialing the number, picture #2 comes through:

"They have yellow and navy, black and green, and gray and turquoise."

A good friend calls and tells you that there are shark-shaped chairs at Homegoods, in a variety of colorways.  A really good friend advises you that the chair is getting purchased either way, because technically she's not finished with your son's birthday present, but she is giving you the option of being the awesome person who gifts him with a shark-shaped chair.  (I believe her actual words were, "I don't want to upstage you with the shark chair without permission.")  We agreed on the more authentic grey/turquoise color combo and that she would buy and I would reimburse.

"Okay, he's in my basket.  I knew that you would want to know, and I knew that he wouldn't last long."

Yup, and agreed.  Aaaaaaaaaand, in five minutes' time, "whimsical wow gift for under the tree" was crossed off of my list - before said list was even completed.

I am fortunate to have several such elves in my life - those awesome girlfriends (plus one male coworker and my mom) who randomly discover something that they know I will want to know about, and possibly acquire, and immediately text me (well, Mom doesn't text, she calls) and offer to serve as personal shopper.  You all know who you are, and - because I don't say it often enough - you're all kinds of appreciated.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

All Is Right With the World

THE ADVENT CALENDAR HAS CANDY CANES.  Now the fighting over said candy canes can commence. 
"It's my turn to get the candy cane."

"No, you're odd days, I'M even.  This one is mine."
I bought two dozen extra, so that BOTH kids will get a candy cane EVERY DAY, regardless of who updates the calendar.  That may cut down on the bickering.  Although the bickering, I think, is part of the fun, for all involved.
Candy Cane Santa hangs in the hallway next to the "Doodle of the Day" chalkboard that, in retrospect, I should have titled "Doodle That Mom Adds, Maybe, Occasionally, When She Remembers."  Let the record show that it currently has a seasonally appropriate doodle.  Which will probably stay in place through December and not be replaced until February.
Meh.  Consistency is overrated.  More fun to keep them guessing.  For example, by starting the Christmas countdown on December 2nd.

Once Again, The Mom's Heart Grows Three Sizes

When I went to bed last night, I thought to myself that, perhaps, I had outdone myself on the tree-trimming.  Like, possibly, my best work ever.

My very next thought was that this was, sort of, ironic, because - at 10 and 15 - the boys can now both be accurately described as "big kids" (although I will continue to refer to the little one as the Little Kid for clarity's sake).  Big kids who are, maybe, a little bit jaded about the whole Christmas thing, meaning that this year's Christmas decorating is the equivalent of playing to an empty room.

And then this morning happened.

On the way out the door to school, Big Kid stopped.  Got out his smart phone.

"Wait, Dad, I need to take a picture of the tree.  I want to make it my wallpaper."

(His previous wallpaper was a photo of his girlfriend.)

And then:

"Mom, don't forget that you need to buy candy canes for the Advent calendar.  Like, now.  We're already a day behind."

The Little Kid echoed his sentiment:  "Yeah, Mom.  We HAVE to have candy canes.  It's, like, a tradition."

Big Kid was humming a Christmas carol as they left the house.

Possibly not as jaded as I thought.  And, hopefully, never completely so.