Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Makeover

A few weeks ago I got an email from someone who disagreed with me and instead of being all, "YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW ANYWAY?!?" I was all, "You know what? You are absolutely correct. Thanks for reaching out and bringing this to my awareness, I'm going to take your advice," like a real, live grown-up who didn't even make up any derogatory names for the other person.

He wrote to tell me he didn't like that the header said "I know why hamsters eat their young" and didn't think it fit anymore now that the kids are older, and he was 100% right.

When my kids were babies and toddlers, I secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, wondered why the hell people thought motherhood was so great. Yes, I loved my kids with all of my heart but I felt like if there had been an actual certification required in order to become a parent that I wouldn't have passed. I love other people abundantly but I'm not always great about doing for others, and holy crap does it take a lot of doing. And yeah, logically you know that going in but the reality still managed to surprise me. There was also some initial panic about where "I" had gone, that I was 100% the mother of these people now and wasn't sure if there was any old Ashley left anymore. It was lonely and yet I was never alone.

(NEVER ALONE. NEVER. NEVER. EVER. Not even to poop. Not even then.)

As I get older, I have just come to realize I'm not a baby/toddler person. Friends announce pregnancies and I think, "Oh man!" before remembering congratulations are in order. People ask if I want to hold their baby and I want to reply, "Do you need me to?" because otherwise I'm good with just watching them do it. Parents on Facebook proudly share first steps and I can only think, "Your life's about to get so much more exhausting." Don't get me started on three year olds. Biggest jerks in the world.

But goodness do I love ages 4.5 and up. I love kids (unless they're knocking on my door at 8:30am on a Sunday to ask if my son can come play, but who could love kids like that?) I love their perspective on the world and the innate creativity that goes hand in hand with imagination. My sons are such cool people and I enjoy every ounce of that now. I am never alone even when I am, because I have them and because they are a part of me, and that's the part of motherhood that makes cleaning up pukefests worth it.

I'm so glad new mom me didn't have access to a time machine so she could urge herself to think long and hard about this whole motherhood thing. I wish current mom me could go back in time with a case of wine and some reassurance to that version of me that had a 3-year-old and a newborn. Poor her!

I know exactly why hamsters eat their young, and I know why humans don't.

So long story short, I changed the header and I'm glad someone pointed out that I'm wrong.

(But let's not make a habit of it.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Great Elf on the Shelf Break-Up


The elf on the shelf--it began easily enough: a flurry of  imagination and excitement, visions of a new avenue to pave with fond family memories. And so year after year, this delightful little visitor would show up to make mirth, merriment and messes in my home during the busiest of seasons. His antics were great fun, and all of the labor that went into his amusing tableaus was absolutely worth the joy it brought.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Ksa0HAryJhs/TQZRXnZrb9I/AAAAAAAACx8/dMv3uL8FNBo/s1600/DSCN0319+-+Copy.JPG

Eventually, it was less fun though.

So many December nights of sleep interrupted with a start--had he moved? What would he do next? Did he have to?

So many tired mornings where his creativity was awarded with a cursory glance and barely a comment before the day began.

So many craft supplies. Glitter can kiss my ass, for real, yo.

And so this year, when thinking of Christmas, Harold Hubert Piggybottom was no longer a tradition that made me light up with holiday excitement. At all. There was some mention of his possible arrival from my 8-year-old and I listened with trepidation to these requests, and tried to gauge their sincerity. My 11-year-old was media blackout-style quiet at any mention of Santa or elves, his silence saying more than words could.

I wondered if the ELFS program was a good idea. I wondered if we could un-enroll. I wondered if our Christmas tradition had the potential to ruin Christmas for one of us. I wondered if Santa answered adult wishes, namely the one where he doesn't send a miniature terrorist to my home to create more work for me every single night. I wondered so many things because that is what my brain does, wonders and wonders and wonders.

And then Christmas magic happened.

We arrived home from having after school ice cream to find a package on our doorstep.


 Both kids started cheering that it must be Harold, since the package was so festive and had his name on it, and I was really nervous for what was to come next.


Once the sack was opened, a balloon floated out with a scroll tied to its end. The scroll said:

Season's greetings! For years now, you have been outstanding members of the E.L.F.S (Elf Live-in Foster Service) program: always willing to share your home, accepting and patient even with one of our more challenging elves, and a shining example of good behavior to Harold Hubert Piggybottom, aforementioned challenging elf. We are so fortunate to have children like you welcoming the magic of Christmas in such an intrusive, and often messy, way. We have learned so much about your family, culture, and the lives of modern children through your participation--and, let's face it, we got a lot done without Harold around. If you think he's challenging for a few weeks, imagine what we deal with the rest of the year! You have been amazing hosts.
 Anyway, we are honoured and excited to announce that this year marks a very special occasion for the McCann brothers. Due to your kindness, diligence, respect for others, and believing natures, you have both been awarded an honorary elfship and have graduated from the ELFS program. What does this mean, you ask?

Well, in order to qualify, nominees had to be in the top 5% of children for good behavior this year. That's WORLDWIDE! You scored in the 96.7 percentile collectively, which is extraordinary. Congratulations on your secured places on the nice list!

(Please open the enclosed gifts before continuing.)

At this point they paused and opened the boxes.


And found silver coins nestled within (within Easter grass, which is STRICTLY forbidden in this house, even more so than glitter. Seriously, Santa?).


There was some hushed awe as they flipped them over in their hands and marveled at the weight. I continued reading:
 These silver coins are tokens from Saint Nicholas himself (currently known as Santa Claus--modern times forced an image re-branding). In the days of olde, he used to leave tokens like these in the shoes of children to spread the spirit of magic, joy, and love every Christmas Eve. Your job as honorary elves is to continue to practice the spirit of kindness and giving to spread peace on earth. It is essential that the children on the good list help establish our future through their strong leadership skills and we know the McCann brothers are up to the job.

(Yes, it's real silver. Try not to pawn the spirit of Christmas, though, okay? Santa hates seeing these things on ebay.)

Your honorary elf names are Tippy Tannerick Trueluck and Chip Chaseton Chariot. We don't expect you to put that on your driver's license or anything; it's a designation similar to when the Queen of England knights rock stars, and does not afford you lodging or employment at the North Pole.

I'm sure you are wondering what this means for your friend Harold Hubert. Well, we are also proud to announce that other than an "accidental" incident with a silly string machine (please note: we are no longer gifting silly string or any variation thereof due to its high flammability rating), his behavior has been exemplary. He has been nominated as community leader and will be the co-pilot for this year's present drop, which is a great honor. His excitement is infectious, we are all hopeful and optimistic about his new role!

Harold loves you both and has vowed to verify your names on the nice list each year, but I have to confess that as of now, Harold isn't allowed near the lists so I'm not sure why he promised that. But maybe one day, right? (Note to self: double check the security of the list vault.)

One last thing, your confidentiality in this matter is of the utmost importance. If other children knew about this honor, their behavior may be influenced for the sake of a prize which is not true niceness, so we ask that you not share this exciting news with your classmates or online. You may tell adults, as most have lost their magic and may not believe you anyway, which is an unfortunate symptom of growing up. As honorary elves, we know that you will become the type of adults who help keep magic alive.

Thank you for inviting us into your delightful home. Please continue to make life magical. Harold Hubert Piggybottom will always live on in your hearts and will be watching...from a safe distance. Have the merriest of Christmases, this year and always.
                                                                    
"Wow," I concluded. "This is insane, I've never heard of anything like it. The top 5%? Wow, you guys, congratulations. That silver coin is amazing."

"I'm pawning mine on eBay," Big Kid stated, as I gave him a look he ignored.

"Dude, this is a collectible. You sell it on eBay and you'll get the value of the silver but if you hold on to this thing, bro, it's gonna be worth a ton of cash some day. I wonder when our elf is coming?" little kid said.

My heart sunk a bit. I thought the message had been clear. "Uh, I don't think an elf is coming," I picked up the scroll again. "It says you've graduated, I think that indicates that you've moved beyond needing an elf--"

"Well, that's sad." His face fell.

"But you got the silver," I reminded him.

"Yes!!" His smile returned. "Now I will get silver every year, probably with a different design on it. That's a pretty good deal."

"Well, I don't know. I'm not sure you get the silver every year."

"Oh, I'm sure that I do. It's like a special club. Where you get silver every year."

"Hmm." Okay, I reminded myself, it's a small price to pay.

"I'll sell mine on eBay every year," Big Kid said again.

"Then I bet you won't get more than one because it said not to sell them on eBay," I said, with a hard edge in my voice. He smirked at me.

"Now I KNOW Santa is real because there is no way parents could get their hands on a collectible like this," little kid said with wonder in his voice, turning the coin over in his hand again before shining it on his shirt. "It's going to be so hard not to tell the other kids but I don't think we should, bro. But I don't think anyone in my class is in the club, because they would've told me. Mom, can I write Santa a thank you note?"

I told him he could. I wanted to write him one as well.

It said:  




Neither child liked their honorary elf name. The silver has been mentioned a few times since the arrival of the package, but the elf has not.
                                      
And that's how we broke up with our elf on the shelf. Our time with Harold was magical and I don't regret it--I'm just happy the relationship ended before the magic did.

Click here to read more about our life with Harold Hubert Piggybottom.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Me for the Holidays


Is it too early to drag the Christmas tree to the curb?

What if I haven't decorated it yet?

I kind of hope it will catch on fire but, clearly, it would need to be outside for that to work out well.

Could someone just wake me up in April?

(I was originally going to write February but decided that was too soon.)

Maybe Christmas every single year is just too much.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Tiny Farm Co. Winner

So, I thought for sure Rafflecopter would automatically update to tell you guys who the winner was, because it did that in the past and I didn't love that at the time, but I was counting on it this time.

It didn't do it this time. SORRY.

I'd love to blame them but it is more than likely entirely my fault.

The winner was Autumn and I will email her so she can start smelling delicious ASAP.

A huge thanks to The Tiny Farm Co. for the awesome stuff, their patience with me, and for enticing me to shower often. Everyone appreciates it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Tiny Farm Co. Giveaway

Good news!! Someone wants to give you guys something!

Actually, people want to give you things frequently. But I don't know if you like giveaways and all of the emails and proposals are overwhelming (and some of them are obnoxious--some day I'm going to start giving PR people my log-in info and tell them to manage my email for a day and then they will understand that I'm not just a lazy jerk, even though I am a lazy jerk, but that it is just impossible to even keep up with replying, little less writing posts about each of them.)

But Ashley from The Tiny Farm Co. and I became friends on Instagram and I really liked her. She seems like she's into this whole being a good parent thing and homemade/do-it-yourself craftiness but also still a normal person who manages not to be all EVERYONE, LOOK AT ME BEING A GOOD PARENT AND MAKING COOL STUFF about it, which I appreciate. It's like she just really enjoys what she's up to in life, and those are my favorite kind of people.

Anyway, she is living a sweet little farm life and makes all natural soap, lip balm and other stuff. She asked if she could send me a sample and I said yes because at least you can always use soap, unlike the book of vagina photos someone pitched to me earlier this year.

This soap smells so incredibly good, though. At my yoga studio job, we're not supposed to smell like anything (good or bad) and it leaves me smelling so clean and citrus-y, with a hint of the good type of earthiness, that I feel guilty about it. I love it.

She also sent lip balm and I happen to be a lip balm/gloss connoisseur. I hate when it's sticky or feels thick, and Tiny Farm Co's glides on smoothly and just feels nice and moisturizing instead of like a thin film of questionable substances sitting on top of my lips. I keep it in my purse and use it nine million times a day.

And now you get some too! A lot, actually, because The Tiny Farm Co. is offering you two combo sets--one to keep and one to give! Or if you are a not-as-great friend like me, two to keep! So, one grand prize winner will win two packs of The Tiny Farm Co.'s new combos and two lip balms.

 Warm Winter Pack: Orange, Pomegranate, Orange Patchouli, Vanilla and Oatmeal


Fresh and Clean Pack: Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Lime and Tea Tree.

Trust me, you're going to wonder if you're getting old and boring to be this excited about soap. When I began to suspect that my husband was using mine, I hid it behind a barrier of shampoo bottles so he couldn't. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway Enter through the rafflecopter widget above. Contest ends Tuesday, December 2nd at midnight and winner will be announced here then.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Smells Like Teen Spirit

"Remind me next week and I'll send you with money to buy some spirit wear," I told Big Kid.

"Honestly, I don't care."

"I know, I feel bad I keep forgetting, though. Just let me know which items you like and we'll get some."

"No. I mean I don't care to own spirit wear."

"No?"

"I don't really want to give them money so they can advertise on me."

"He has a point!" little kid interjected. "You'd be like one of those...giant movie signs."

"A billboard! Yes. Using kids as walking billboards and getting them to pay you for it. Oh, yeah, let me give you $20 so I can wear a generic t-shirt advertising your name on Fridays. Uh, no thanks."

"Well, it's more to raise money for the school and to show support to your school community."

"I'm not going to wear it in public. I don't need random people in public knowing what school I go to and it's not a cool shirt or anything, it's not like I would look nicer wearing it. What's the point?"

"Okay, no spirit wear then."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Brothers

Today while little kid and I waited in the parking lot to pick his brother up, I spotted him in the distance.

"There he is! Look at him, just wandering around all absent-mindedly, hair flopping like a muppet. Man, I love him so much!" I said.

"Me too. Who in the world doesn't?" little kid replied with a soft sincerity.

As I was letting the beauty of that sink in, he added, "Hey--don't tell him I said that. Promise you won't."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Anti-Gravity

"Do you remember when you were little and you were always worried that gravity would cease to exist?" I asked Big Kid.

"No, not really."

"I think you were in first grade. Black holes and no gravity were things you thought about a lot." 

"How would no gravity be a bad thing? It sounds awesome," my 8-year-old asked.

"It would be complete chaos. You'd probably float into the atmosphere and die," Big Kid explained.

"But have you ever imagined hula girls in zero gravity?" he asked.

There was a moment of silence while we all considered that.

"...No, little kid, I haven't. Why would I?" I asked.

"Why wouldn't you is the real question, " he replied.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

With Ease

"So there's this girl in 7th period who keeps touching my hair," Big Kid told me.

"Oh, REALLY? What do you think about that?"

"It's weird. She's weird. People say she's...flirting with me."

"Oh, she's definitely flirting with you. That's not even a maybe. Do you like it?"

"No! Why would I like it?"

"Because flirting can be fun."

"Oh, god, mom. Gross. Gross!! No, I don't like it, she is STALKING me."

"She is not stalking you."

"Would you let some random guy touch your hair?" 

"No. No, I wouldn't. You have a point there. She is coming on strong. Would you like the flirting if it was someone else?"

"I don't even KNOW her. It would be one thing if we were friends or something."

"She probably doesn't know how to become your friend. Her approach is awkward, you're just kind of getting to that age where girls think this is what boys like."

"Well, THIS is not the way. Even if I am getting to the age, I was hoping the world could kind of ease me into it. With ease! Not like this, with her trying to sneakily hold my hand and touch my hair. Then the other day when she did it, someone said, 'Hey, Big Kid, looks like you could have a girlfriend,' and she said, 'I would never!' right away and I wanted to say 'Then WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING MY HAIR all of the time?'"

"Ahh. She was embarrassed that someone called her out on it and got defensive. Maybe just ask her, 'What are you doing?' next time she tries and see what she says. If you don't want her to touch you just say, 'Please don't touch me,' and I bet that will be the end of it."

"I don't know. The Beautiful Day Monster will be back tomorrow and she won't have as many chances since we get yelled at for breathing." 

"Well, that's good, the Beautiful Day Monster will rescue you you from love. What a twist of fate!"

"Can you do me a favor and not talk right now? Like, at all? Every word coming out of your mouth is hurting my head."

"Do you need a doctor, bubby?" little kid asked.

"I need a therapist," he answered.


(I later apologized for not answering like he wanted me to and he forgave me.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rebellious Teen

"Mom, may I please have a yogurt?" Big Kid asked.

"Yes, and feel free to help yourself to the yogurt without asking. You live here, you know if you're hungry--have a yogurt whenever you want, hon."

"I won't ask! Then I'll eat ALL of the yogurts! I'm a rebellious teen and I'll do what I want, I'll eat 10 yogurts if I want."

"Except that you're not a teen, but whatever."

"As a rebellious teen, I'm rebelling against starting as a teen and starting now. AND I WILL EAT ALL OF YOUR YOGURTS!! I'll eat whatever I want."

"Okay, then."

There was a few moments of silence and some quiet sounds of struggle.

"Mom?"

"Yes?"

"Could you...could you help me open this yogurt?"

I tried not to let him see me laugh as I opened his yogurt. 

I think I'm safe for now.