A Post Christmas Poem

‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house,

The only creature that was stirring was my computer mouse.

The children were all busy with their brand new toys,

Not fighting or behaving like bad girls and boys.

The little one built Legos all by herself,

While the big one played video games like a good little elf.

I thought to myself, “This is too good to be true,”

“Maybe they’re both coming down with the flu?”

No objects were broken or needed return,

No clothes so hideous that I wanted to burn.

It would be the very first year I didn’t schlep to the store,

To return a gift or two….or a hundred and four.

Thrilled with the prospect of staying home all day,

I put on my sweats and on the couch I prepared to lay.

As I dozed off to sleep I felt a terrifying jolt,

And sat up from the couch with a heck of a bolt.

I cracked open my eyes and who should be there,

But my lovely dear children who were starting to stare.

“Hello Mommy dearest,” they cooed in unison,

And I immediately knew the pain I was going to be in.

Their words were benign but I feared their tone,

“What do you want?” I asked with a groan.

They waved their gift cards that were fanned in their hand,

And then they each grabbed an arm to help me to stand.

“Let’s go to the mall!” the kids cried with glee.

“You don’t have to spend any money! It all will be free!”

“Like hell!” I shouted, in the air went my fist.

If I had to leave the house, I was gonna be pissed.

They begged and they pleaded,

And cried till they got overheated.

As they wailed, I shook my head with disgust,

Why should my lounging today be a bust?

“No!” I shouted with a frown on my face.

“Why must spending gift cards always be like a race?”

“Two months from now you will surely whine and cry,

When you want something that you have no money to buy.”

“But we want these shoes, book or a game!”

It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s always the same.

They get those gift cards in their greedy little hands,

And out the window goes Mommy’s relaxing plans.

With annoyance I grumbled as I tugged on my boots,

And glowered at the children who were now in cahoots.

“Let’s go you little brats,” I growled with distain,

Going to the mall today would be a major pain.

Five million people either on line to return,

Or those like my darlings, with money just dying to burn.

Off to the mall we shall go and bid goodbye to my couch,

My kids may drag me there, but they can’t make me not be a grouch.

 

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Crazy for Christmas Cookies

The accepted definition of insanity is something like, the act of doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, right? Ok, then by those standards, I must be certifiable because I KEEP MAKING CHRISTMAS COOKIES. Every. Damn. Year.

Who invented Christmas cookies? And why do I never see men making them? (Hmmm…I may be on to something) For what ever reason, though, I seem to have it drilled into my skull, maybe as far back as infancy, that we MUST MAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES. If we don’t make cookies, Christmas will not happen. It’s as essential as gifts and a trees and baby Jesus. So every year, I make the damn cookies. And every year, I swear I am NEVER MAKING THEM AGAIN.

Maybe once upon a time I had one or two batches come out nicely. By nicely I mean they looked appealing and were tasty. Every other batch has been miserable in some other form or other.  Some are burnt, some are mushy in the middle, some could double as spare tires. Yet every year I feel compelled to drag out the mixing bowls and beaters and make friggin Christmas cookies.

I guess it’s because I keep seeing everyone else’s fantastic cookies plastered all over Facebook. Tell the truth people…you pick them up at a bakery and spread them on your holiday plates and say, look what I made! You must, because there’s no way you make cookies that perfect. Hell, I can’t even get my cookies to rise half the time…and yes, I follow the recipe. I’m actually meticulous about following the recipes. The only explanation I can come up with is that other people lie about their cookies. Either that or the cookie gods absolutely hate me.

So this year I once again decided to embark in the hellish nightmare that is cookie making and as usual, I dragged my daughter down with me. Actually, she was the one who pushed for it this year. Not that she necessarily enjoys baking…she’s a real big fan of eating cookies. So she annoyed me and tormented me until I decided I was going to suck it up and bake the damn cookies.

I donned my apron that I break out once a year, cranked the Christmas music and set to work. I preempted the disaster (I thought) by declaring we were only going to bake four kinds this year unlike the usual six or seven I torture myself with.  In fact, I was going to practically cheat and use of those bags of sugar cookies that you only have to add water and an egg to. Seriously, it’s so simple it’s fool proof.

Apparently I am a bigger fool than I though. The oh so simple sugar cookies stuck so badly to the parchment paper and our fingers when we tried to cut out the cute little Christmas tree shapes, that we had to roll them into balls and squash them down with our fists. This is the result:

image

Yeah, not so fabulous. I got eight cookies out a batch that was supposed to yield 36.

We moved on to the reindeer cookies…a cute little project I saw on Pinterest (damn you Pinterest for deluding me into thinking I could make cute reindeer cookies with phrases like EASY and FUN!). Here’s what they were supposed to look like.

image

I should have just written EPIC FAIL next to ours. I didn’t realize that it would be better…no scratch that, ESSENTIAL, to take the cookies off the cookie sheet before applying the oh so melty chocolate candy. This is what happens, by the way:

imageAt  least theses were edible even though they looked like the reindeer was drunk or had a stroke. Either way, bad for the reindeer.

But never fear, the next cookie was chocolate chip. I’ve been making the Nestle toll house cookie for years, the recipe right off the bag. I carefully measure all the ingredients out and even chill the dough over night. I don’t know if the oven is defective or maybe our baking soda is bad because this is what happened:

image

The bottom dropped out…heck, there was no bottom, and the cookie shriveled up into a mushy mess when I tried to take it off the sheet. It didn’t even taste good. Maybe I need one of those new fangled mixer things. Yeah, that’s it. If I had one of those, I’d make perfect cookies.

We didn’t even get to make the peppermint Oreo cookies because at this point, it was after 9:00. I was cranky and fed up. My daughter wanted to decorate the sugar cookies with different colored icing and designs and crap like that. I told her we are NOT dying the icing at 9:00 at night for six frickin cookies (we lost two in the sheet to cooling rack transfer) and she proceeded to throw the box of food coloring and stomp out of the room telling me how I ruined Christmas.

I sighed as I scraped the one batch of chocolate chip nightmare into the garbage, turned off the cheery Christmas music and turned out the light. I’ll deal with the mess in the morning. And next year I swear…I’m buying the cookies from a bakery.

 

I Want a Do Over and I Want It Now!

I want a do over for today and I want it now. Ok, so maybe I sound like that spoiled girl in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but I had a crappy day. I want be like Dorothy and click my heels three times and say “There’s no place like home” and I wake up in my bed twelve hours ago. Why, you ask? I want a do over because I FAILED today. No…fail is an understatement. Today was an EPIC fail. Today I didn’t get the Christmas shopping done. Today I didn’t go to the gym. Today I didn’t get my Christmas cards out. Today I didn’t cook dinner. Today I let laundry sit in the washer so long I had to wash it again. Today my kids ate McDonald’s AND frozen pizza. Today I didn’t work on my book. Today I didn’t make a list and check it twice so that I accomplished everything I set out to. Today I was a terrible wife and ignored my husband. Today I was an even worse mother than I thought I could ever be.

Today I screamed at my daughter because she wouldn’t go to school. By “wouldn’t” I mean full out kicking, screaming, tantrum throwing, refusing to go. She pulled out every excuse she could to get her way. She was “stuffy” (“snuffy”), going to PUKE (say this out loud as dramatically as possible for full effect and clutch your abdomen as if you are giving birth), scared of a fire drill (making sure to squeeze out just enough tears so that your mother notices) and “just wanted to snuggle”. She picked the worst day on earth to “pull this $hit” (my exact words) because staying home with a fake sick kid was not on my agenda today. Needless to say, I did not handle it well.

I, after attempting to reason with her for about ten minutes (knock this crap off, of course you’re going to school), ended up screaming and stomping and throwing a hissy fit myself. I actually had to lie down because I gave myself heart palpitations. After a hit of my inhaler, I popped back up and threatened to take away Christmas. She shrugged and said, “I don’t care”. She actually signed a “contract” that said she didn’t want anything for Christmas and she wouldn’t cry when there was nothing for her under the tree (oh, yeah, right). I knew it was one punishment I would never be able to uphold and she did too. (Yeah, yeah, tell me you could do it?)

Finally, I told her flat out to get her shoes on. She slammed her bedroom door and locked me out. I broke the lock and told her if she didn’t get her butt in the car (I’m paraphrasing for the Family friendly nature of this blog), I was going to take away her iPad. She laughed at threw a stuffed animal at me. I took away watching TV. She replied with “see if I care”. My eyeball was literally pulsating in my skull. I slammed the door and stomped downstairs to choke down my coffee in attempts to ward off an inevitable migraine.

As I strummed my fingers on the table with aggravation, I considered my options. I certainly wasn’t going to try to drag her kicking and screaming to school. If I could even get her out of the house, I still had to get her out of the car and into the school. I would be sweaty and pissed off and DYFS might be called by some nosy person who had no clue. Plus, I wasn’t going to subject her teacher (principal, secretary, fellow students to that sort of thing). I refuse to bribe her (mostly because it doesn’t work) so I needed plan B.

Taking a deep breath, I approached her like one would approach a cat you’re planning to throw in the bathtub. She didn’t hiss at me so I wrapped my arms around her and asked her what was wrong, why did she not want to go to school? I apologized for my own outburst while internally congratulating myself for my calm and rational behavior. She was immediately receptive. Yes! Maybe this day was salvageable after all!

After I let her whine and whimper and totally manipulate me with a completely made up story of why she didn’t want to go, I told her I would fix EVERYTHING (insert sunshine here) when we got to school. I said, “Ok, let’s get your coat. We can still make to school on time!” Fingers crossed with a perky attitude!

Nope.

Screaming commenced again, this time with a dramatic blanket over the head maneuver. I was done. I left the room before I lost it and sat in the kitchen to stew. I let her stay home. I didn’t do anything that I should have done. I let it ruffle my feathers and affect everything else I had to do today. I might as well have pulled that blanket over my own head. I suck and I know that. But what can one do when your kid absolutely refuses to go along with your plan? Even if it’s a simple plan that she should go along with, like freaking GOING TO SCHOOL???

Simple. You suck it, chalk it up to a loss, and try again tomorrow. Parenthood isn’t about that one day you failed just didn’t have the answers to move forward with a win. Those days are going to happen. It’s about all the days combined that you DID have the answers and you DID win. So maybe I don’t get a do over for the epic fail today was, but tomorrow is another day! I sound a bit like Scarlett O’Hara there, don’t I? Maybe I should just pour some wine, cut my losses and settle down with a movie… Maybe this day can be saved.

Why I Love That Creepy Little Elf on the Shelf

Still love the elf!

Author Heather Balog

ImageAs the days tick closer to Christmas, the height of the frenzy is upon us. I’ve seen a lot of complaints on Facebook lately about the Elf on the Shelf (mostly from people without kids) about how it is “creepy” and “lazy” parenting. People are saying it’s a cop out to hide the elf around the house and expect kids to behave so that he or she doesn’t report back to Santa. They don’t want to see pictures of the cleverly posed elves invading people’s homes. They think it’s not the “right” way to encourage kids to behave. That kids should be taught to behave and if you can’t get them to do that without threats or bribes, you’re a bad parent. You know what I say to that? Bah Humbug. Parenting is really just a series of eighteen (or more) years worth of threats and bribes.
You would think…

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