Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NOT IT…A Crappy Holiday Story

NOT IT!!! This is what I heard Timmy yelling from his room upstairs. It was yesterday after school, book bags were laying all over the floor in the kitchen, empty snack bags and juice boxes in the family room with kids lying on the floor in front of the TV. This is what I saw when I walked in the door from driving dance carpool which Molly didn't even go to because she wasn't feeling well with a head cold. We all seem to be feeling under the weather for that matter.

Anyway, I walk in the door and I got into mom mode, "Who's empty popcorn bag is this? Throw these juice boxes away! Why are all the book bags on the floor? Ryan, empty the garbage, it's overflowing. Timmy, laundry is in great need of getting done! There is a basket at the top of the stairs, bring it down and get started. Shannon, dishwasher…unload and load! 

There is a commercial that I hear on the radio, A guy complaining about "Stressmas." As much as I try to keep on top of everything, make my to-do lists, promise myself I'll do a better job next year…this last week before Christmas is stressful. There is just so…much…to…do!!! And yesterday I needed help with just the basic stuff, like pick up your book bags and throw away your garbage. Is that too much to ask?

So Timmy was then upstairs now getting the basket of laundry and I hear him yell, "NOT IT!!!" He says it a few times and he then yells for Ryan and then says it again, "NOT IT!!!" I ask, "Tim, what are you talking about?" Well, one of the dogs peed on our rug and I have to do the laundry now so I'm telling Ryan that I'm not it, he'll have to clean it up."

"Not it." I know these words from tag. Everyone is gathered around in a circle, deciding who's on what team and then everyone yelling, "Not it!!!" I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if it that worked for adults?!? All we would have to do is yell, "Not it," and then we would be relieved of any responsibilities that we had. 

I was standing in Timmy's and Ryan's room and I called everyone upstairs. Family meeting in the boys' room, right in front of the peed on carpet and for ten minutes I gave the mom speech of this is the busiest week of the year, you know how much work there is to do, I need everyone to DO things withOUT being asked, like your normal chores of laundry and dishwasher and garbage and homework and reading and making your bed. This would all be a big help if I didn't have to ASK you to do the things you already know that you need to do. I DON'T need people yelling, "NOT IT!!!" That is not the spirit of Christmas…and I went on…and on…and on about our goal is to have everything ready by Sunday so we can go to Grandma's house. What can YOU do to make that possible?

This was all said firmly but no yelling. I asked them if they understood. I told them what was expected of them going forward…first thing…the pee on the carpet needs to be cleaned up…there was a silence...and then the girls both yelled, "NOT IT," and ran out of the room, and the two boys started arguing about who watches more TV and who had more work to do with homework and chores. And that is when I BLEW! I screamed, "NOT IT!!!"

They stopped and looked at me. I said, "Not it to making you guys dinner! Forget about the chores, forget about dinner, you are all in your rooms for the night!!!!!!!!"


And with that, I walked out of the boys' room and walked to my room. I needed to regroup. I needed to calm down. I need to…and as I stood in the doorway of my room there was a present for me, right there on the floor, on the carpet, was not just one, but many piles of dog poop. While we were busy arguing who was going to clean up the pee, the dogs were busy doing their own thing. So basically, it was a crappy day all around. While the boys cleaned up the pee in their room, the girls did clean up the poop in my room and then they all were in their rooms for the night. No dinner!

Chris walked in the door about an hour later, gave me a kiss hello and mentioned how quiet it was. I told him that it was just the two of us for dinner and that everyone was done for the evening and in their rooms. 

His response, "GREAT, love it!" And then gave me a huge hug, the kind where I had to let go first kind of hug.

We sat at the counter together, ate our dinner together, and I shared my day.

Yesterday was the perfect storm, the week before Christmas, full moon, throw in a little, or a lot of PMS, and four kids with head cold and you get Hurricane Kathleen.

But today is another day, another day to start over and hoping that my four hungry children got the message…and now back to Christmas preparations. And by the way, if anyone wants two dogs for Christmas, I know where you can get two real cheap…free actually, I'll even supply a big red bow!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Making Magic

If you watch with "glittering eyes" you can find the magic. The kids had a two hour delay this morning and while they were still sleeping, I was looking for magic. 

This is what I found…a part two from yesterday's post.

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves") imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” ~ Carl Sagan

And who doesn't love good old fashion fairy tale magic? Just bought tickets to see Cinderella in New York over the holiday break. I love Broadway shows, the magic of set design is real and in front of you…no special effects with a computer like in a movie. It's like making magic.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Magical Monday

This morning I was on my phone, checking emails and Facebook, still in bed because we got a second snow day. Two separate storms came through back to back. Yesterday was snow and then ice.

Today is just snow.

As I was lying in my bed, I came across a post from Gretchen Rubin. She wrote the books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She was talking about the word, lagniappe. This word was new to me. It means something given as a bonus or extra gift, the extra doughnut in a baker's dozen, the free gift with purchase at the cosmetic counter, or the prize in the Cracker Jack box. Ahhh, that's exactly what a snow day is, a bonus, a gift. Yesterday, not only did we get to sleep in and the kids got a day off from school, but there were no after school activities as well, no basketball and no religious ed. Snow days are a lagniappe. No matter what you do with this new found time, whether it is to cross off a bunch of things on the Christmas to-do list, or sit around and watch movies with your kids, bake cookies, or take a nap, it's all good. It's all stuff that you might not have been able to do on an ordinary day. 

Yesterday was a magical Monday. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the word "magic." At this time of year, you hear the word a lot, it just kind of goes with Christmas. 

Last Monday was not magical. When I picked up Molly from school that day, my usually smiley, bubbly, happy girl, that bounces into the car and tells me everything that happened at school that day was not the same. Somedays, she talks so much, I think she doesn't even take a breath. But last Monday, she got in the car and just sat in the back seat, sad face, head hanging low, I could tell that something was wrong. She then told me that there were kids at school that were doing a "survey" during recess to see who believes in Santa and who did not, then if you said you were a believer, they processed to tell you why you shouldn't believe. The words Molly used were, "We don't want to ruin your childhood but..." 

Molly was broken-hearted, devastated. She came in the house that day, got herself a snack and sat in front of all our Santas and our two Elves wondering and thinking and processing. I gave her some time, and then came in and snuggled and hugged. She did not want to talk about it, even though I asked her several times what she was thinking. She never asked me directly if it was true. I took this that she didn't want to know, that she wanted to hold on to the belief, that she wanted to hold on to the magic.

So we sat and we talked about every Christmas movie that talks about nonbelievers. We talked about The Santa Clause and the line "Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing." We talked about the Polar Express and hearing the bell, and then I read her the letter "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." I was so sad for her, you see, Molly is one of those kids that makes her own magic and to see her so deflated just hurt my heart.

If you look up the word magic, there are three definitions.

1. A power that allows people to do impossible things by saying special words or performing special actions.
2. Tricks that seem to be impossible and that are done by a performer to entertain people.
3. Special power, influence, or skill.

The word magic is everywhere. Molly just did a report on Walt Disney last month at school. He was the King of Magic. He even built a whole kingdom for magic. 

The thing is, people have the magic within them. Some people are born with it at the surface, it bubbles over and they can find something magical in their life every single day. Others have it, but it seems to buried deeper within them. They have to look harder to find it. Just like happiness, I don't think it is something you can pursue, you just have it. There are people in this world that have everything, but still aren't happy. And then there are people that have near nothing and you would think that they have every right not to be happy and yet they are. It's like the end of the Wizard of Oz when Glenda the good witch tells Dorothy that she had the power all along to go home. The magic, the power, is within us.

So last Monday, when my youngest sat in my lap, and didn't ask a direct question about Santa, I could tell she was afraid to ask, she wanted to hold on to the magic. People like Molly, bring out the best in others. She has an energy, a happiness, a magic, that she brings to the things she does and brings it out in others. But every once in a while, the opposite happens and someone steals your magic, or at least you think they do.

Molly found hers again, and yesterday was a magical Monday. Thanks to a lagniappe of a snow day. Shannon and Molly did one craft after another. Snow flakes were made, ornaments were painted, wreaths were made, cookies were baked, and a gingerbread house was built.

The magic is back!

And today, our second snow day, we went to see Santa.

We go to see Santa because we believe.

Fifteen years of Santa pictures and still counting
 because we BELIEVE!

And here is number that they will still get their picture for me...and they do it for Molly.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mamas, Don't Judge One Another

 Our two elves, Buddy and Jovie, returned over the weekend. Buddy showed up to our house four or five years ago for the first time. I remember seeing the book Elf on the Shelf when it first came out. I knew people with kids younger than mine that had one of Santa's elves come to visit their house daily to check up on everyone to see if they were being naughty or nice. My first reaction was, I don't have the time for this, this is just another thing I'll have to do during the Christmas season, my kids weren't little toddlers anymore, they won't be into this. But then, one year my thought process changed. I can't remember if one of the kids had asked about the Elf on the Shelf or if it was something else that changed my thought process, but instead of thinking, "Oh, my kids are too old for this," it changed to, "Let's try to keep them young for a little bit longer." And so I found myself with An Elf on the Shelf in my house and my kids LOVED it.

 My kids named him Buddy after the movie Elf. Just like most of us, we are HUGE Elf movie fans. When we go into New York City during Christmas break, everything is a reference to the movie, Ray's Pizza on 11th, the Empire State Building, crossing the street like Buddy, and one year, Shannon even ran into a Starbucks and yelled, "CONGRATULATIONS, you did it, World's Best Cup of Coffee!!!!" Shannon talked about doing it for days. I did not think she was going to really do it or I would have gone into the Starbucks and videoed it. But there we were on the streets on New York City one minute, and the next, she was inside a Starbucks. Shannon also loves candy canes, I mean really loves candy canes! She stock piles boxes and boxes of them in her closet so that she can have them throughout the year. She brings boxes to school and hands them out in the hall during class change. She has also brought them to New York City and randomly handed them out during the day. Shannon, decorated our whole house this weekend, except for the tree that we did together as a family. Shannon is a Santa Elf.

But when it comes to the Elf, there seems to be lovers and haters. I was never a hater, but I do remember thinking, I don't have time for o n e…m o r e…t h i n g! But, I cannot tell you how much fun, my whole family has with Buddy and now Jovie. Jovie showed up last year to help Buddy keep an eye on all the mischief the Nealon kiddies can get into. At first, Buddy just moved around from place to place, but like so many other elves, they started having a bit more fun with the kids, planting candy cane gardens, decorating ice cream cones to look like Christmas trees, and sometimes warning the Nealon kiddies that they better shape up when they had a few rough days. What started out as "one more thing" to do, has turned into our own family tradition. 

Now, I know not everyone loves the Elf on the Shelf. I have heard a lot of comments about how creepy the whole thing is, an elf moving around your house from place to place. Maybe if my kids were younger when Buddy first arrived, they would have been "creeped out" by him. My kids are actually terrified of leprechauns, really truly terrified. Sleep in my bed on St. Patrick's Day terrified. For years Shannon was convinced that she saw them walking around her room and when Molly was a preschooler, I had to tell her teachers to tone down the leprechaun talk because she was so scared.  So I get if little ones don't embrace the Elf on the Shelf. 

But the thing is, all of us moms try to do the best we can, whatever that may be. There are some nights that my kids are lucky to get a dinner out of me, except for that one night when it was 9:30 and I told them to go to bed and one of them said, "But wait, we didn't have dinner!?!" And they were right, some how in our busy evening, I truly forgot to feed them. But then there are other moms that do every idea they see on Pinterest, whether it's that new recipe they saw for dinner, a craft idea to do with the kids, or a new Christmas cookie recipe that you know took hours to decorate and if you ever attempted to do it, it would never look like the Pinterest picture. My point is, whether your kids are lucky to get dinner and have on clean underwear or whether you are the mom that does all the Pinterest crafts, both are okay and we should try not to judge each other. Whether you're the mom that sent out her Christmas cards before Thanksgiving or you're the mom that just hopes that the cards arrive by New Year's, it's all good. Whether you're the mom that has all her presents wrapped perfectly in coordinated paper, or you're the mom that is scrounging on the floor at the bottom of the closet looking through old gift bags to get that last present wrapped minutes before you walk out the door with it, it's all good. I myself, go back and forth. Sometimes I gets bursts of creativity and feel like I can do it all, and then there are days my kids get Spaghettio's for dinner. It's all good.

For me, being a mom at Christmas time is all about making memories for my kids, so whether you are making those memories with an Elf on the Shelf or with other family traditions, it's all good. For this mama, if an Elf on the Shelf keeps my kids young at heart just a little bit longer, than I'm a fan. To my friends that have elves visit them, I love seeing all the pictures of what they are doing. And to my friends that have other family traditions at Christmas time, just sit back and enjoy all the pics you'll see on Facebook or just keep on scrolling down your newsfeed and don't "like" the pics, it's all good. 

Buddy and Jovie have arrived 2013.

 It all started with a book, the authors are a mother daughter team that wanted to share their own family tradition.

 "Small acts of kindness will not be loss."

"Let's make it a game."

Some pics from 2012

Jovie arrived for the first time last year.

 The Nealons still visit Santa…why wouldn't you?

All wearing Elf shirts…Elves stick to the four main food groups.

Elf Ryan

Ryan on his knees…remembering when he used to actually be small enough to go into the play area at the mall.