I’m sitting here in front of my computer, hopped up on migraine-fighting caffeine and with a slight fever, so this is bound to be the best Christmas letter I’ve written in a long time. You, of course, are thinking, “How many years has it been since you’ve sent Christmas cards? Of course this is the best letter you’ve written in a long time!” Touché.
McH is still working for The Great Mamma Corp. Kind of. He’s an associate director with OneBulb, and he keeps telling me he’s not in IT anymore but now works on the business side of things. All I know is that anytime there’s some kind of OneBulb IT outage, he’s on the phone, or the computer, or both. Seems pretty IT to me. We think our time with The Great Mamma Corp. is probably coming to an end soon, but last Christmas we thought we were moving, so who knows?
I am homeschooling kids. Still. For at least four more years. Maybe five. I’m not saying I’m burning out. I’m just saying that after 15 years of no promotions (unless you count my husband giving me the responsibility of more dogs and horses and God giving me more kids), no raises (unless you count my husband not questioning my Amazon spending), and no upward mobility (unless you count no longer changing diapers and wiping noses), I won’t mind “retirement.”
A~ is 20 now (next year is probably the last socially acceptable year to share her age, no?) and a junior at BYU where she is majoring in English, double minoring in editing and family history, and working for the BYU family history department. She promises to find a job and settle close to us after graduation if we leave Canada South.
L~ is 18 and a freshman at Utah State where she is studying wildlife management and working in a Clydesdale barn. We figure we can get her back after college as long as we provide horses and/or a place to keep them. She’s easily bought.
Midge is 14, just got her braces off, and is in 9th grade at the local public school, which is as much of an adventure with the third kid as it was with the first and second. After high school she plans to go to BYU or somewhere out west, probably, and study something. She’s only 14. I’m not worried. Yet.
Tank Boy is 13, doing 8th grade at home, and very much looking forward to public school next year so that he can finally play football. Hopefully. Our schools aren’t much for academics, but they are ate-up competitive about football. His current interests are Magic Cards and working out, and he’ll shank me in my sleep if we ever move from this area.
Quinn is 10 and doing 5th grade at home. He loves when we manage to take a trip into town so that he can play Pokémon Go on my phone. His favorite pastimes include Play Mobile adventures with his slightly younger brother and spending time with his family of stuffed cats. I don’t know what he’ll study in the future, but it won’t shock me when he marries a spinster.
Spuds is also 10 and doing 5th grade at home. Every now and then I want to yell at him that he’s going to drive me to drink, but instead I sigh a little, smile a bit, and tell him he keeps my life interesting. Now, when he meets new people and they start asking him questions about himself, that’s what he tells them: I keep life interesting. He is very much looking forward to wearing his Christmas fedora to church this year.
We hope this letter finds you and yours well, and pray that 2018 brings an abundance of blessings.
The E. Family
I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but it seems like now is a good time to see you your elf on a shelf and raise you a tomte. Christmas stupidity? It’s on!
Lately I have been stalking Pinterest for Christmas decoration ideas. I’m not looking for just any Christmas decoration ideas, however. No. I am looking for Grinch-themed decoration ideas. Not to worry. These decorations won’t be for my own home. No, no. These decorations are for something far more appropriate — our church Christmas party. Because, you know, nothing says “Remember the reason for the season” like going to a Grinch-themed Christmas party at church.
The theme for the party, however, was picked, approved and decided upon before I had anything to do with it. Now that I do have something to do with it, I am in charge of the decorations. Honestly? I’ve found some cute ideas and come up with some good ones on my own, so I’m I little more excited about it. But, still? I turn to my network affiliates when I want my kids to enjoy the cartoon versions of Christmas. I take them to church for (gasp!) more spiritual fare. Whatever.
In all my Pinterest perusing of thing Grinchy and Whovillian, I came across a cute outfit idea. It’s not a costume, mind you, just an outfit: green skinny jeans, green t-shirt, green Converse, and a red cardigan. I wasn’t looking for an outfit idea. I just found it. That’s how Pinterest works, after all. You just find stuff, and it sucks you in, and you realize you need it even though you didn’t know it existed five seconds earlier. So that’s kind of what happened to me when I saw this outfit. I concluded that, if I have to decorate for a Grinch party at Church, then I needed to go as the Grinch (without actually going as the Grinch). I decided I’m just too old to buy myself Grinch-green Converse high-tops, but red is a good color for me so I already have a bunch of it, and I figured the green jeans would be cute. I found a pair on clearance at Kohl’s, and, coupled with the current coupon (who in her right mind shops at Kohl’s without a coupon?) they cost all of $8.00 and change. That included tax.
Rather than wait until December, I wore my outfit today to our Super Saturday Holiday Workshop (it’s the one day a year the women in our congregation “take off” for 4-6 hours (depending on whether or not one is in charge of it) (I was) to get together and make crafts that we can give as gifts) (so imagine our
piss-off-ed-ness consternation when the men scheduled something, rather last minute, on the same day at the same time, as if the children only belong to us) (harrumph).
Anyway, back to the outfit. I wore it today. Green jeans, white t-shirt, red jacket. It was quite Christmas-y and, since the t-shirt was not green, not even a bit Grinchy (at least, I like to think that). I still had it on as we were sitting together as a family for dinner tonight, and I said, “I’m half tempted to go back to Kohl’s and get the same jeans in red.”
“Other than Christmas, when would you ever wear red jeans, mom?” A~ asked.
“I could wear red jeans lots of times,” I said. “Like Valentines day!”
“Yeah, and you can wear the green ones again on St. Patrick’s day,” Midge piped in.
“Sure. And . . . let’s see . . . I could wear either the red or the green ones on Mardi Gras. That’s a colorful holiday. It doesn’t really matter what color . . .” I was saying as my husband interjected:
“I don’t know about the jeans, but I’ve got some Mardi Gras beads I’ll give you.”
A~’s hand froze, half way to her mouth, and the baby carrot she was about to eat just dangled from her paralyzed fingers as she looked at her plate in dismay and said, “I get that. I get. that. one!” With me to her right and her father at the other end of the table to her left, she didn’t know where to look, so she just kept staring at her plate while I laughed hysterically, her father turned a soft shade of fire-engine red and sniggered like a school boy who’d just been caught snapping a girls’ bra strap, her younger teenage sister tried to puzzle it out in her head, connecting a dot or two, and the three youngest just said, “What? What?!? I DON’T get it! WHAT IS SO FUNNY???”
June Cleaver would be mortified at both my attire and our dinner conversation, not to mention the current state of my house. I shall never wear pearls.
Tewt the Newt, on the other hand, couldn’t give a flying fig about pearls and feels mighty smug about the fact that he is already green.
My long-time readers may remember (but really, why would they?) that back in 2007 I wrote a post about Christmas traditions I have missed out on since my parents have been so negligent about passing on my cultural heritage. Harumph.
If you don’t remember, or never read, that post, let me bring you up to speed as quickly as possible:
On my father’s side we are somewhat Appalachian, and, therefore, should have been shooting anvils into the air and shooting shotguns (blanks, of course) at neighbor’s houses so they would give us cookies and cider.
On my mother’s side we are Swedish, and, therefore, should be putting lit candles in the hair of at least one of our daughters and telling our children that a tomte (gnomish, elfish creature) lives under our floorboards to keep an eye on us throughout the year.
If you care to go back and read the post, I explained my plan to combine the two cultures into one, big Scappalachian Christmas celebration.
Okay, now that everybody is all caught up, let us jump once again into the present. Presently, because I am so very old, I take a ceramics class once a week (it’s at my neighbor’s house across the street – mighty convenient). Also, presently, I just finished a project. And, presently, I got a new camera (Canon T2i, for those who will ask if I don’t mention it) and will take pictures of anything.
Quick aside: Yesterday I contemplated taking and posting a picture a day for the next 45 days. Each picture would be of a food I can not eat for at least the next six months. I started with chocolate. I am not posting that picture. Probably. I am also not going to do the 45 day project. Be glad. Be very glad. Because really? Who wants to see a picture of black pepper? Or a frozen turkey? Or beef?
Wait! I just realized I forgot another important part of the story. So. In the back of my mind for the past three years, I have been storing the tradition of the tomte, and occasionally wondering if I could/should incorporate it somehow into our family culture. Then, this past Christmas season, I saw this new book that you all might have seen: The Elf on the Shelf.
The whole premise, as I understand it, is that the elf sits on the shelf, mantle, wherever, and keeps an eye on the kiddies so that he can report behavior stats to Santa. Sounds an awful lot like the tomte, no? Yes. Except the tomte, as previously discussed, lives under the floorboards.
Guess what? We live in a house that has wooden floors now, so . . .
Is there really a quantifiable difference between an elf and a gnome? I’m going with “no” on that one. So this is Tommy the Tomte, or The Gnome on the Roam.
(I believe, after I started painting him all up, someone, somewhere, told me that the Travelocity gnome is called the “gnome on the roam”. This, of course, caused me no small amount of artistic angst and whatnot; but then I decided, “Who cares??”)
I finished him up last night, and today at lunch introduced him to the children and explained that he would be moving about the house, from location to location, keeping an eye on their behavior ALL YEAR LONG.
A~ requested I never put him in her room at night, because if she woke up to him, she thinks, she would totally freak out.
Tank Boy sat in his seat and asserted, “I’m being good. I’m being good.”
Tommy here is busy picking his favorite floorboard.
And just because it’s the only thing I apparently can do with chocolate right now, I am going to post it after all:
I keep telling myself they look an awful lot like rabbit droppings. It’s not working.
And by real I mean . . . umm . . . not too bad, actually.
I mean, we had to move, and I hate moving, and our relocation dude was so bad that he sucked and blew at the same time, so that would go in the “bad” column. But we moved due to a work promotion, and the move got us out of Little Town, so there are two marks in the good column.
And? We really, really love our house and our new area in general, so that is another strike in the “good” column. I mean, we aren’t terribly close to the wide range of retail and civilization that we originally had within minutes of our home (two homes ago), so I guess that would be a mark in the “bad” column, except that we do have a full-sized Mega Mart, Wally World, a Kohls with two doors, and a movie theater within 10 minutes of our house, so that all goes in the “good” column.
McH’s commute sucks rocks, of course, and we see far less of him these days than we did in the past. Squarely a “bad” tally. But he has a job, a good job, and it is going well. A huge “good”.
And I lost 7-9 lbs. (depending on the day, you know), so that goes smack dab in the “good”. Of course, I lost that weight because I developed a migraine-inducing sensitivity to wheat. That belongs, unquestionably, in the “sucky” column.
Aside from the migraine stuff, though, I am healthy and the rest of my family is healthy, so that’s a huge mark in the “fabulous” column.
This past year I also found a Dr. who deals with bio-identical hormones, and they have helped with my migraine problem, so another “good” tally. I don’t think the Dr. is fantastic, however, and her office is a dive and her staff is . . . umm . . . wow . . . just . . . umm . . . also not fantastic, so that can go in the “bad” column. But all my reading and hormone taking got my mother in to see an anti-aging/wellness Dr. in her area, and he seems to be really good, and he is way cheaper, so I have an appointment with him in six days – hopefully another check mark in the good column.
Though, I suppose, that would count for 2011, wouldn’t it?
Quinn is talking more and more, another “good”. Of course, now that he can better articulate just how he thinks the world should be run, the level of disappointment when his every wish is not obeyed, every whim not catered to, is unpleasant. I would put that in the “bad” column, except that his expressions of displeasure, compared to those of my other children when they were his age, are like the harmonious clinking of wind chimes compared to . . . let’s say . . . the deafening blarting of Ozzy Osborne on the bagpipes. So I’m creating a neutral column.
My oldest became a teenager this year, which anyone with any sense knows is “bad” because, hello? We all have been, or have been around 13-year-old girls, right? Plus, it means I’m old (yes, it always comes back to being about me, doesn’t it?). But, she is a phenomenally wonderful 13-year-old girl, so I’ll stick her in the “good” column. McH doesn’t always get just how easy we have it with her. He sees the angst and, at times, argumentativeness, but he doesn’t realize how: A. normal it is; and B. mild her case of it is.
So, 2010, I’m kinda sad to see you go because, overall, you weren’t too horrible (though I fear that if I got back and read my blog posts from this past year I will find an inordinate amount of whining, but I chalk that up to residual stress from two years in our soul-sucking country location and the many things that happened while we were there, and another move).
As we embark on this new year, I can honestly say my attitude is shifting and I find myself relaxing a little more with each passing day. For a couple of years I felt like I was on High Alert, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, the next bout of Other People’s Crazy to attack, the next . . . whatever . . . whatever you can think of that is bad and stressful to happen. But now I feel like I’ve reached the light at the end of that tunnel and things are shifting. For now anyway.
So, Dear 2011, I have high hopes for you. Nothing extravagant, actually. Just some calm, boring, normal, stable living, with the typical ups and downs that don’t involve moving or any other major life changes.
And while we’re on the topic of expecting some calm, boring, normal, 2011, did you really have to start off with Dick Clark making out on t.v. last night? Really??? I mean, I don’t begrudge my elders some lovin’, but it was like watching my grandparents dementor kissing. And, NO, I never actually saw my grandparents sucking face, but if I had? It would have made me feel just like I felt last night, in my family room full of a zillion teenagers who didn’t know where to look when all the t.v. kissing started because they are probably all so . . . umm . . . (is there delicate synonym for the word “horny”?) but none of them had anyone to kiss, and even if they did they wouldn’t have dared do it at a party full of church kids with the adults sitting right there, and there was that 150-year-old getting a little sumpn sumpn on the wide screen, and then I didn’t know where to look. It was just an entire room full of awkwardness and decidedly not normal-ness.
But it may explain why we had to go downstairs at least five times* to to turn the lights back on and tell the kids, AGAIN, that tag and hide-and-go-seek in the dark were, we were very sorry, just not allowed. If you want to come up with come covert way to cop a feel, boys and girls, don’t do it in my house. Mmmkay?
Tewt the Newt is now going to go scrub his brain and take a nap.
*After tallying up the number of times I told the kids to leave the lights on, the number of times McH told the kids to leave the lights on, and the number of times another chaperone told the kids to leave the lights on, and realizing it was completely ridiculous how many times these kids had been told to leave the lights on, the basement bunch was “invited” to spend the rest of the night upstairs with the other kids. McH pretty literally had to guard the basement door after that since the little buggers kept trying to sneak down stairs.
I haven’t posted anything in 13 days (13 days! That’s nearly two WHOLE weeks!), so I figured I should post something before I lose my five or so remaining readers. The problem is? I can’t really think of anything to say.
So let me say it in as many words as possible, shall I?
I guess a “Merry Christmas!” shout out to my Christian friends and a “Happy Hanukah!” shout out to my Jewish friends would be a good place to start. Sorry to any Kwanza peeps out there, but I’ve got mixed feelings about that one (because I’ve heard various things about it and its founder and don’t know exactly what is true and what isn’t), so I exercise my right to (for the time being) pretend like it doesn’t even exist. *La la la la la la la*
Moving right along . . . Happy New Year! Because who knows when I’ll post again?
So a quick Christmas recap:
We did the one big gift per kiddo, like I think I mentioned before, and then did the “Things We Love About You” jars, which I thought would be a Grand Hallmark-type of Christmas Moment. Yeah, not so much. I mean, the kids all expressed tons of gratitude for them, and they even read one or two of the slips of paper we put in the jars, but then they just set them aside because they knew there were other gifts still under the tree. A~ even said, “I’m not going to read them all now, because I want to save them for those times when I’m feeling . . . you know.”
Sure, I know. Translation: I’m going to save them for those times when you are a raving banshee and I’m a moody 13-year-old who is sure you hate me and pretty sure I hate you. Then I’ll read one or two of the slips of paper in the hopes that they will give me a good cry and the warm fuzzies; but then I’ll save the rest for later. Because, you know, that raving banshee bit you do is probably more frequent than you realize.
Anyway, the kids were all quite happy with their one store-bought gift (if you don’t count the Christmas Eve pajamas or the stocking stuffers from Santa) (or all the Old Navy $10 jeans I got but gave them before Christmas because some of them really needed jeans and I didn’t want to wrap them), but the big hit? The BIG hit?
Their gifts from the Sperm Donor. In all honesty, he just sent a check, not gifts. But McH decided it would be a good idea to cash that check and buy everybody (and I do mean everybody) (even though on the note section of the check it specifically stated “for the kids”) Nerf guns. Of course, he got me a little six shooter and got himself some automatic something-or-another than required many D batteries. I didn’t even know anything took D batteries any more.
So you can imagine my confusion when I found D batteries in my stocking. Confusion that was obviously further enhanced when I got nothing that needed batteries but my husband got some kind of Nerf assault weapon that . . . anyway . . .
The Nerf guns were and are the hit of this Christmas. A~, after a long and hard-fought Christmas Morning gun battle with the missionaries, declared this “the best Christmas ever!”
It was actually quite fun watching my kids, my husband, and two 19/20-year-0ld boys running through the house, hiding behind corners, strategizing, etc. I would have joined in but, you know, in addition to the fact that someone else was using my gun (and my gun is a six-shooter, did I mention?) I was in the kitchen cooking breakfast.
*The life of a mother.*
At least I managed not to cry into the bacon as I realized that, had I been a slightly more normal BYU co-ed (and by “normal” I mean “BYU co-ed normal” not “regular world normal”) I would be the mother of a 19 or 20 year old. I just don’t feel old enough for that? Know what I mean? But it just really sunk in this year that I am no longer a young, married person having these young missionaries over for Christmas breakfast with other young adults and their very young children. No, I am more like a surrogate mother on Christmas morning now. Blarg.
But? At the same time I was having this depressing thought (because, yes, I find getting old to be depressing), I was also very much enjoying that I could be some kind of surrogate Christmas Morning Mom, cooking bacon and eggs and sausage while they got to run around like the kids that they are and shoot my children with foam darts.
Midge graciously let them use her gun and took on the role of Supply Chain Commander. I guess it wasn’t really much of a supply chain, since she was the only one running through the fray, collecting the used ammunition, and yelling, “I’m your supplier! I’m your supplier! If you need ammunition, I’m your supplier!” I was half shocked that she didn’t actually charge people money for her supplies.
Anyway, it was a fun morning. But I’m adding, “The missionaries are stealing our ammo!” to my list of things I never expected to hear.
Later we delivered plates of cookies to the fire/police/dispatch department and to some random people working at the local hospital. So awkward and out of my comfort zone, and I kept thinking, “They’ll probably just throw all those cookies away, because who is going to eat food just handed to them by random strangers?” but still . . . hopefully it was good for my kids. Good for them to realize that not all families get to spend the holiday together, that people are out there making sacrifices so that people like us will have access to help should we need it, and good for them to focus on others and not just on themselves on Christmas.
Wow! Didn’t I tell you I’d tell you nothing in as many words as possible? And I don’t even think I’m finished yet. But I’ll try to be brief. Maybe use bullet points or something. Anyway, only one more topic: my hormones.
I think I’m going to switch doctors. I think my current doctor has too many irons in the fire and isn’t specialized enough in this whole wellness/anti-aging thing to fully help me. Plus her office people lie to your face, and they’ve lost my records. When I called them on it, the one lady pointed to the shelves of medical records and said, “Do you see all of these records here that we have to keep track of????” I said, “I’m 40 years old. I’ve been to lots of doctors’ and dentists’ offices, and your little collection of records there is pretty much nothing.”
Yeah, nothing brings out my good side like being lied to. In my defense, it is a small office, and their little collection of records is pretty much nothing. In their defense, they told me the doctor carries the records of her wellness/anti-aging patients with her back and forth between her two offices and her home, so it really wasn’t their fault because, for all they knew, my records were sitting on her dining room table. Umm . . . is that even legal?
Anyway, as much as the hormones have helped, they aren’t perfectly balanced. Given my doctor never even bothered to ask me about the dates of my period (oh. my. word! I’m officially one of those bloggers who blogs about her period!) before she gave me the hormones, well . . . that’s kind of an important thing to know. I mean, if you look at the numbers on the lab report without even knowing where the patient was in her cycle when you ran the tests, then anything you do after that is pretty much shooting in the dark.
So I’m thinking of switching. The doctor I’m thinking of switching too is about five hours away. That is a big minus, of course. On the plus side, however, this doctor has a pretty set fee schedule (unlike my current one who says, “How much did we charge you for the hormones last month? Ahh, okay. That’s how much you owe us for this month’s supply), and his prices are way more reasonable. Also, his five-hours-away location just happens to be back home, so when I do need to go for testing or in-person follow ups, the kids and I can make it a visit with family and friends. Also on the plus side is the fact that his practice is a wellness/anti-aging practice that operates, to the best of my knowledge, out of one office, not a family/minor cosmetic procedures/wellness/anti-aging/walk-in clinic practice that operates out of two offices.
You see what I mean about irons in the fire?
One more thing and then I’ll stop with the blather: I highly recommend you all read Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness by Suzanne Somers. Seriously. Read it. Before you take another pharmaceutical drug, read it. Oh, I’m not saying you should never take pharmaceuticals, I’m just saying you need to look into the possibility of other options. Go. Read.
Tewt the Newt is going to bed.