To anyone who has never truly experienced humid cold, bless.

Growing up in Utah where it would snow two feet overnight and one was still expected to make to school on time, the way Indiana reacts to weather has always amused me. Two hour delays and school cancellations for a few inches of snow. ADORABLE. In fact, Addie hasn’t had a full day of school since January began, if school hasn’t been cancelled (7th day cancelled today!) she’s been on a two hour delay, meaning instead of being dark and freezing cold outside, it’s light and freezing cold outside.

These are Addie's siren songs. #NoFilter

I’ve heard a lot of debate about why these school cancellations happen (also! church has been cancelled for two of the four Sundays in January so far as well.) Some say it’s because Hoosiers simply aren’t outfitted and prepared for this kind of weather, or that the more impoverished areas of the city can’t afford proper warm clothing. (Which is even more silly because chances are keeping kids home keeps working parents home or working parents paying for daycare or even kids home alone because their parents simply cannot miss work, on top of that many kids rely on the schools for their only meals in a day. Clearly keeping them home makes perfect sense.) It’s not like it doesn’t snow here, or get cold, because it does — and the same coat you use for that weather can be used for this weather, just put a few more layers underneath and don’t stay outside for long.

Even the government is shut down today.

Because it’s cold.

Not because it’s snowing, not because there’s already several feet of snow on the ground or because it’s a terribly blustery day. Nope, it’s just cold. The sun is shining, the roads are clear and it’s cold.

Show me a weather map and I could point to a dozen places that are colder and more weather affected than Indiana who are still doing business as usual.

Perhaps it’s just the Utahn in me who grew up knowing that life goes on no matter how much it snows? Perhaps it’s the mom in me who is tired of keeping two little girls entertained?

I wore them out. FIST PUMP.

Cody has found me crying in the closet twice, I’ve painted a dozen My Little Ponies (I’m getting quite good), I’ve eaten a hundred plastic and felt food meals served up by Vivi, I’ve read every book we own, watched every episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ever produced by Disney Junior, I’ve not only made entire cities out of Play-Doh — I actually cleaned and detailed all of our Play-Doh gear, using toothpicks to shove the dried bits out of every nook and cranny of every plastic rolling, cutting, squishing and shaping device. Later I will take a razor, a pair of scissors and a serious attitude to the brush of my vacuum which currently looks like a long thin tribble and I will lie in the middle of the floor in a patch of sunshine wishing I were anywhere where I could go outside with less than eight layers of clothing.

Perhaps it is that there is no end in sight, just cold for days and days and days and being indoors for days and days and days and not being able to go outside for longer than 10 minutes without feeling my nose hairs freeze and crack off.

Even the cats are sick of us, they have both found places to hide where we can’t find them all day. Only at night do they come out to borrow our body heat through the night.

Yes gentlemen, you have my attention?

Knowing my luck a whole school bus of kittens and puppies will freeze today and all the firefighters who try to rescue them will lose their noses and fingers to frostbite in an attempt to save them and I will be seen as a terribly grumpy and inhumane person. (Bitter Betty (hi, me) is going to take this moment to eat her words since there have been deaths related to all this cold. Apparently 5 people died while shoveling snow (which, don’t bother, it’s too windy anyway and no one’s going anywhere) and several have been homeless people who have either refused or not made it to shelter in time. Other deaths are from traffic accidents, not necessarily related to the cold, but still, they happened while it was cold. So while I am still grumpy about being so cold, be safe. A list of emergency shelters in Indianapolis can be found here.)

Where are you at? How’s the weather been for you? My friend Ami has been making her chickens hot oatmeal and baked potatoes, I don’t even make my kids hot oatmeal and baked potatoes.

 

I had my eyes checked today, they have continued to improve over the last several years. Three years ago my prescription continued to hold strong at -5.00 (twice legally blind! whee!) Last year I demoted (promoted?) to a -4.75. Today? -4.25! My eyesight is basically the only thing that has improved since turning 30.

DON’T GET ME WRONG, I LOVE YOU SO HARD 30′s!

But I don’t remember EVER requiring this much upkeep in my early 20′s. If I actually kept up on everything I think I’m supposed to be keeping up with I wouldn’t get anything else done.

You know how sometimes you wake up really late and you stumble into the bathroom to see if you grew any new blemishes or wrinkles overnight and a cat jumps on your back? No? Just me? Weird.

I read a terrible beauty magazine while waiting today and realized there is basically a surgery or cosmetic fix for every part of my body, and based on the magazine I’m supposed to already be on my second or third round of Botox and as my jowls are beginning to sag, it’s time to look into non-invasive procedures as I am the best candidate for such treatments.

Have you ever bought a refurbished something? A phone, a hard drive, a computer or camera? They always seem to come with some sort of sticker that says “Lovingly refurbished by the fine folks at Apple” or something like that? What if once someone crossed the boundary into cosmetic procedures there was some sort of sticker or bracelet that declared “Lovingly refurbished by Dr. Zoots?” Not so we could judge them or the work they had done, but so we could feel a little less terrible about our stock model bodies and maybe learn about what we’d like to have done ourselves? Maybe?

I wish I could say with absolute certainty that I love my body, because most days I do — but sometimes it betrays me. Genetics have landed me a pretty sweet set of undereye bags and cellulite worthy of a dozen cottage cheese jokes. I grow chin hairs, nipple hairs, neck hairs and there’s even a few dark ones that pop out on my cheeks. I’ve never had, nor will I ever have thighs that don’t touch or knees that aren’t extra padded.

Have you seen the ‘Tootsie’ interview with Dustin Hoffman about when  he realized he didn’t make a very pretty girl and no matter what had been done to him, nothing would have made him what he considered to be attractive? I had this big moment after watching that for the first time where I realized I never have been, nor will I ever be considered a whole host of what are considered desirable female attributes by society — and with body parts spreading out and heading a little further South each year I’m never going to be.

And that’s okay.

I’m not terrible. I have really good eyelashes, really good hair, a pretty good neck, amazing (all natural) boobs and petite little wrists.

I’ve started telling my daughters I’m beautiful” is one of the best things I’ve ever read on the Internet. It changed the way I look at myself and the way I talk about myself. I remember growing up thinking my mom was the most beautiful woman in the world, and I wanted to be just like her. With every derogatory thing she said about herself, she would shatter my realistic idea of ideal, which meant I had to find a new ideal — and guess what? The ideal I found in magazines and on TV was one I would never, ever be able to achieve without growing 6 inches, spending my life in a tanning bed and having several eating disorders.

With more and more people commenting that Addie looks just like a tiny me, I have to be even more mindful about how I carry myself in front of my daughters. I don’t ever want her to believe that my thighs, eye bags and soft belly are not ideal — because my thighs, eye bags and soft belly are closer to reality than anything she’ll ever see in the media — and they work just fine.

Walt Disney World Marathon

Last week I told her that there’s a very good chance that she’ll grow up to look just like me. (I was secretly terrified of what her reaction would be.)

Her reaction? “YAY! You’re the prettiest mommy in the whole world!”

Phew.

I’m doing something right.

(Please, don’t let me screw it up.)

 

I wonder if Cody will remember as much about our vacation last week as I remember about our cruise back in November, which isn’t much. While I remember everything overall (the gorgeous dining room, the shopping mall in the middle of the ship, a few of the shows and how big and bright our room was) there are an awful lot of little details I don’t remember, food for example. I know I ate it but I couldn’t tell you what it was (aside from the milkshake I had at the onboard Johnny Rockets, that thing was delicious.)

One day when I was particularly unwell the medical staff had me take my nebulizer treatment in one of the treatment rooms with a bed. About 10 minutes into my treatment an older gentlemen came in and started talking to me about how I was feeling, how my treatment was going and if I liked NASCAR. When I said I was from Indy he instantly started quizzing me on my favorite drivers (um, ?) and asking me if I had heard of so-and-so or such-and-such racing. He then told me his racing team had donated a few items to the High Seas Rally on board to raise money for charity and the ship had asked him to come down to the ship’s hospital to say hi to the patients. He then pulled out racing cards and started signing them, it was at that moment I realized he thought I was a chronically ill charity patient there with the High Seas Rally in need of a little celebrity pick-me-up from one of the rally’s sponsors.

HA!

I took the cards and bragged about them at dinner, I also felt a little guilty that I wasn’t exactly the type of patient he had been sent there to cheer up, but I was most certainly cheered up in a strange and twisted kind of way.
Cody learned how to sur...nevermind. #FreedomOfTheSeas

The other thing I remember about our trip was Cody’s obsession with the Flow Rider, a surf simulator located at the front of the ship (or maybe the back? I was really sick.) Cody declared after one turn on the Flow Rider that we would only be cruising Royal Caribbean from here on out because of the Flow Rider and over dinner he asked the PR rep for Royal about each ship, “How many Flow Riders does each ship have and which one is the least busy?” I spent a lot of time watching him, and others — because even though I was sick, seeing other people wipeout never stops being funny.

Cody actually got really good towards the end of our trip, but no one wants to watch someone getting really good at something — they want to watch the process of getting good at something (aka they want to watch people fall. A lot.)

So I present to you Cody’s finest wipeouts in his learning-to-surf journey:

(Cody and I were invited to experience the Freedom of the Seas together back in November. Travel and accommodations were covered by Royal Caribbean. All opinions are my own. Especially the one about people falling down on the Flow Rider being funny.)

2014 is already 1/24th over and I’ve not done a thing around here, not that I haven’t wanted to — I’ve just been busy keeping other people alive. Tiring work, keeping other people alive. But I feel as though I need to give you a brief update, as well as document things for myself because if 2014 goes as fast as 2013 I’m going to look into suspended animation because, whoa, slow down.

1. I actually cried over a biscuit last night. It was this culminating moment where I just felt so screwed over as a parent and was so frustrated and selfishly angry that parenthood is such a thankless gig. I DO EVERYTHING FOR THESE PEOPLE, I just wanted the biscuit I ordered. (Maybe there will be more on this one later, I’m still feeling out my emotions on it.)

2. I cried at the bottom of some stairs on Monday night because the elevator was broken, it was 11 pm and Vivi was fast asleep in her stroller. It wasn’t the true emotional pressure release I really needed, but it was a start. Woe be unto the people who are around when my true meltdown occurs.

3. Oh, by the way, we were in Florida all last week. We covered Universal Orlando, Disney World and the Walt Disney World marathon. We took off last Saturday because we knew the weather was going to get dicey and we just got back at 8 am this morning. Yes, we drove. Yes, 16 hours is a long way but it was totally worth it.

4. Despite being gone for 12 days, Addie only missed two days of school because school was cancelled ALL OF LAST WEEK. Meaning had we not gone I would have been stuck in the house with these little girls for ANOTHER week (after Christmas break) with polar temperatures outside. WE BASICALLY RULE ON VACATION TIMING.

5. Cody ended up getting vertigo on Monday (brought on by a double ear infection and sinus infection) and he was easily the most sick I’ve ever seen him in our entire marriage. He was rendered completely incapacitated for at least 4 days, and is still recovering from the spins. He’s also recovering from running a marathon on Sunday, six days after he was released from the ER.

Cody runs his second marathon in the morning, six days after being the most sick he's ever been in our 13 years together. His motivation? He wants the medal. Wish him luck. #runDisney #wdwMarathon

6. Poor Cody, yes? Also, perhaps you remember that the last time we went on vacation together I got pneumonia. At least on that trip we didn’t have the little girls with us, I was a very primary caregiver for the majority of our trip last week which is part of the reason I cried at the bottom of the stairs and over a biscuit.

7. Regardless! We had fun. So much fun. Those two little girls together surrounded by Disney magic was just that, magical.

We're just going to pretend a dozen toddler meltdowns didn't happen today.

8. Our hotel room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge had bunk beds for the girls. Despite our best efforts to wedge Vivi in, she still managed to fall out of bed at least five times.

9. Vivi is addicted to roller coasters. She went on Flight of the Hippogriff at Universal Orlando six times in a row, and the only reason we stopped at 6 was because I was *thisclose* to passing out. At Magic Kingdom she rode Goofy’s Barnstormer 10 times over the course of three days. She giggled like crazy every time. Addie on the other hand, she’s always cried on roller coasters and still does.

10. We have something in our family called “Mickey Sandwich O’clock.” It started with Addie when we took her to Disney World for the first time in 2008. You know that point in a very busy day when everyone is DONE and tears are all over the place and there’s maybe a little screaming? That’s when we seek out Mickey-shaped ice cream sandwiches and chill. Works every time.

11. Wink missed us. He held hands with Cody and me as we took a well deserved recovery nap today. I’m fully expecting a face full of cat tonight.

12. Cody refused to wear his marathon medal out in public — because despite him finishing a marathon after being so sick, his medal was third tier in the assortment of available runDisney medals. You see, people had the option of completing both the half and full marathon and receiving a special “Goofy Challenge” medal. There was also a “Dopey Challenge” medal for people who completed the 5K, 10K, half and full marathons over the weekend.  In protest to not winning all the medals, he’s already got his eyes on the “Double Dumbo” and “Coast to Coast Challenge” medals in Disneyland. THEN he can walk around with all his medals and not feel the least bit inferior.

ER to finish line in under a week. He got his medal, now he gets a nap. #runDisney #wdwMarathon

13.  Addie is quite possibly the best kid to ever exist. I mean, ignore the incessant questions, the refusal to comb her hair and the fact that she can’t keep her room clean for more than an hour — the kid is just spectacular. I could have never survived last week with Vivi without her. She also managed to run a 9:06 mile in her “Mickey Mile” race, Cody is boastfully proud of that little girl.

TERRIBLE driver. (But fun!)

14. Totally unrelated to last week, I’m amazed at how many people were pregnant at the same time as me or after me in 2011 and already have another baby, or are pregnant for a second time. I cannot even fathom either, I am barely holding myself together with two six-years apart — even friends who swore they were done with 2 are onto 3, 4 or even 5. I am not that lady and God knew *exactly* what He was doing when He gave me the two He gave me when He gave them to me.

15. Last week I received an unexpected email that informed me that my best is moving to Belgium by fall of this year. I’m not really okay with it but I don’t really have a choice. All I do have is a current passport and a broken heart, she was my first real friend I made in Indiana, she’s who made Indiana home to me. Sure she’ll be back and I’m sure time will fly and we have the Internet and blah blah blah, but Indiana will never ever be the same without her. :(

So a lot of good, exciting and once in a lifetime stuff went down in 2013, which maybe explains why it went by so fast? I decided in October I was going to make a reverse life list, acknowledging all of the crazy and amazing stuff I’ve been blessed enough to do instead of focusing on all the stuff I thought I should be doing. These are kind of in order, and I’m probably missing some — but I’m pretty sure NYC with Addie was the best if I had to pick the best one.

Going to the fancy wedding of a dear friend with the world’s best flower girl.

Britty is a Mrs.! @brookempaulsen @britmariger

Going to the Animation Research Library and seeing pencil sketches from ‘Plane Crazy’ and ‘Steamboat Willie.’

Hanging out with Minnie in Disneyland.

Disneyland

Whenever Addie got off the bus.

Looked for it. FOUND IT. #LookForTheLovely (look at Addie's face over Vivi's shoulder in the first photo.)

Having my family drawn in penguins by a Club Penguin artist.

I don't even have words, my family in penguins! Including my one eyed cat! #ClubPenguinSummit

Spending my birthday in Disneyland.

BIRTHDAY. MADE. #MinnieStyle

My mom meeting my friend Minnie for the first time ever.

My mom went to Disneyland the year it opened and never had her picture taken with Minnie,  until now. #DisneySMMoms

Going to New York City with Addie.

Day two: Endless possibilities. #AddieInNYC

Photographed the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

I'm photographing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir today! Are you coming to their show in #Indy tonight? #MoTab

Kayaking in Florida

@luxurytravelmom on a luxury canoe through Oscar Scherer park

White Sandy beaches with this little creature.

Beachnastics. #SponsoredByCarnival

Going to the Animation Research Library again and seeing original sketches from ‘The Little Mermaid’ then interviewing Jodi Benson.

Going to the world premier of Planes and running into the Dane Cook, not that I like him, but still, kind of cool.

OMGEEEEE. #PlanesPremiere

Surprising my dear friend Rachel for her birthday and spending a perfect day on the lake with her and her family.

So there's this place in Texas that's all about beavers so Rachel took me there and it was strange and wonderful.

Horseback riding on the beach in South Carolina

Horseback on the beach. #Kiawah

Mumford in concert with my honey.

I may never again be comfortable around huge crowds again, but it was worth it tonight. #Mumford

Seeing this in Michigan during ArtPrize.

One off the most AMAZING things I have EVER seen. #ArtPrize

Spending the night at West Point.

It's not everyday you wake up at West Point. #NikonSubaruAdventure

Drove across the George Washington Bridge and into New York City in my dream car. (Red Subaru Outback wagon.)

Doing this.

When you have a waterproof camera, you have to remember you're waterproof too. #ClickRetreat (photo by @ohhbetsy)

Having three of my very bests in the same place for an entire weekend.

Bests. #ClickRetreat

Hanging out and getting a massage on Disney’s private island.

I now interrupt your trick or treat photos with Castaway Cay and the #DisneyMagic, because for Halloween I went as a terrible person.

Watching Cody fall learn how to surf on a boat.

Cody learned how to sur...nevermind. #FreedomOfTheSeas

This sunset after a terrifying storm

I've never seen a better sky than the sky in Indiana. #NoFilter #AfterTheStormGram

When it snowed in Disneyland

YOU GUYS. IT JUST SNOWED IN DISNEYLAND.

These thighs:

One more from today. Because thighs and hips should be celebrated.

Witnessing the relationship between these two.

Copyright Cody and Casey Est. 2001

Let’s do this 2014.

On Sunday we had our Christmas program at church, it was a good one. It convinced me I need to find a different church to attend on Wednesday (Tuesday?) so I can hear more Christmas songs sung by a choir. I don’t even know how Christmas services work on Christmas since we don’t do them (I mean, unless Christmas is on a Sunday.) What I’m trying to say is there is a severe lack of live Christmas song singing by choirs in my life and I’d like there to be more. (There is however plenty of terrible Christmas song singing done by me in the privacy of my own home.)

For as long as Addie has believed in Santa I have bent over backwards, sideways and in various plank positions to bring her exactly what she asked Santa for.

This year? Nope.

Partly because she tried to pull a fast one on me Santa last year and also because she keeps changing her damn mind. To be fair I feel doubly confident in my decision not to indulge her elaborate Santa desires this year because she actually hasn’t sat on Santa’s lap, nor has she written him a letter so really it’s up to Santa’s discretion what he’s going to be bringing down the chimney on Tuesday night. LEGOS IT IS.

Addie had the chance to visit with Santa but passed, Vivi did not.

First photo with Santa. Nailed it.

Addie chose a Marilyn Monroe ornament this year, not that she knows who she is or that she’s seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Once she finally made her decision she excitedly whispered “Mom? This is what I look like as a famous movie star in my head, that’s why I chose this one!” I wanted to say no, but I wasn’t going to argue with her. Perhaps someday she’ll end up being the feminist to bring all other feminists to their knees and I’ll have this ornament to remind me of this time of her life. Or perhaps she will end up an actual movie star or Marilyn Monroe historian — regardless, 2013 has been the year of reminding Addie that Marilyn Monroe is not Madonna or Lady Gaga and yes, she was a real person and a very famous movie star.

Vivi has absolutely NO IDEA what’s going on, we have to be careful when we bust her messing with the presents because she has a tendency to throw them as hard as she can in the opposite direction when she gets caught handling one. Addie made the mistake of showing one that was meant for her, “THAT’S FOR ME? OKAY!” as she plopped down and began to tear it open. We’ve had to glue three ornaments back together due to her intense and passionate desire to carry around them the house like treasured possessions, and you know what? I’m okay with it. The one she’s most enamored with is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ornament she chose from Hallmark this year — poor Mickey was so loved that his little hand popped right off. In 7 years when she pulls it out of our ornament box  we’ll be able to show her the little bits of leftover superglue and tell her about the Christmas she spent with that ornament in her hand until we were forced to take it away from her.

Tonight Vivi was taking orders in a notebook “What do you want to eat?” she asked Cody.

“A green salad.” said Cody

“Candy canes it is!” replied Vivi.

She also thinks Santa says “Yo ho, yo ho!” and whoever corrects her will be put on my naughty list.

It’s really here, Christmas morning is two sleeps away and it’s going to go by so fast. This may very well be our last Christmas with a two year old around and I want to remember every silly little thing she does. It may also be Addie’s last Christmas believing in Santa, to be honest I’m almost ready to give up the gig and explain to her that Santa is a feeling and a spirit that I very much believe in and have her be more involved with it in the coming years for Vivi so she can enjoy seeing the magic through her little sister’s eyes.  I have this feeling if I don’t consciously remind myself to be present on Christmas day or if I let myself get too caught up in everything I think I have to do I’ll forget and the day will be over.

That seems to happen too much lately.

I wish I could record every little moment of Addie and Vivi’s relationship, it just seems too good to even be real. (They danced, kissed and hugged each other through all of our church program on Sunday.)

This Christmas, it’s going to be a good one and it will be thanks to those two little lovebugs up there. Their relationship is the best gift I could have ever been given.

What magic do the little kids in your life bring to your holidays?

*****

I’m so thankful to have partnered with Hallmark during this holiday season on this series of sponsored posts to talk about all the little ways this season can bring us together and allow us to look at life and our relationships in a new way, I know that’s exactly what it has done for me. When’s the last time you mailed a loved one a real card? Save $5 on your $10 purchase in stores now with this printable coupon.

Vivi has this way of fitting against me as I rock her at night, it’s going to be one of the things I miss the absolute most as she gets bigger and more independent. One of the things I ached for the most when I was trying to get pregnant again was to hold a little sleeping body, I’ve never put a sleeping Vivi down before I was ready. I can remember times when I simply couldn’t bring myself to put her down, so I didn’t — and I don’t regret a single hour spent with her little sleeping body in my arms. Holding a sleeping toddler is like holding a sleeping wild animal, it has all the potential to kill you where you stand — but while it sleeps it’s peaceful.

Addie's 9th Birthday Party

There’s this powerful feeling that comes with caring for a little human (which can also be terrifying and all encompassing if you think about it too much.) You are their safe place, their home base. When the snow is falling, the wind is blowing and the temperature is so cold outside snot freezes on contact, you can hold them in your arms and keep them safe and warm — they don’t have to worry about windchill and tomorrow’s forecast because they have you. Even though Addie is now nine and composed entirely of long, bony limbs, I’m still one of her greatest comforts. The amount of gratitude I feel that Cody and I can provide a warm, safe home and family for these little girls is what begins my prayers every night.

I’m beginning to think that many of my neighbors keep their Christmas lights out year round not because it’s 2 degrees outside and they’re kind of lazy, but because they give a warm glow to an otherwise chilly and often dark landscape. As much fun as I had in LA  two weeks ago, it just wasn’t the same without (real) snow. At this exact moment I’m sitting by the fire covered in cats and basking in the glow of Christmas lights hanging from my mantle. I was never much for decorating at Christmas until we owned our own house, and after four years we have December down to a traditional science. The little girls each have an advent they attend to each day and every Sunday we watch a different Christmas movie. The car is nothing but Christmas music thanks to satellite radio and the house always smells like some sort of baked good (today was carrot cake and corn bread.)

Last week we all bundled up to build a snowman and worked together to build a pretty sweet snow fort. It was a bittersweet moment where we were the perfect little family I had always wanted to be a part of growing up. Today Vivi ran around the house with a string of bells yelling ‘JINGLE BELLS, CATS! JINGLE! BELLS!” She randomly breaks out into festive songs and Addie has taken to wrapping anything that even remotely resembles a gift. “You’re sending that check to the electric company? THAT’S KIND OF LIKE A PRESENT! LET ME WRAP IT!”

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This year Addie has gotten into the giving groove, we even chose a family to play secret Santa to and Addie has been in heaven wrapping dozens of little gifts that we will leave on their doorstep on Christmas Eve. She insists that every single gift be adorned with ribbon and a bow and she takes great pride in how far her wrapping skills have come this year. Vivi, the constant observer has taken on a fondness for wrapping as well, in fact there’s two plastic plates and a wad of bubble wrap under the tree right now — wrapped, taped, and tied up with ribbon in a way only a toddler could.

Vivi wrapped a plastic plate for you, not to spoil it - but she's wrapping bubble wrap next.

With Wink’s recent vet trip I realized I like this place where I’m at, I like that I can make him feel better. I like that I can give gifts to my friends, family and a few strangers along the way. While it’s often unheralded, I like that I can give my kids simple comforts so they can go about being kids — not having to worry about hunger and homelessness. Maybe it doesn’t mean much to them now, but maybe someday it will. I like being the giver — all that time I spent so stressed out about what to give my parents when I was younger, I have to believe that they too at some point crossed over into enjoying being the giver more than the receiver.

Maybe we all do?

******

I’m so thankful to be partnering with Hallmark during the holiday season on a series of sponsored posts to talk about all the little ways this season can bring us together and allow us to look at life and our relationships in a new way. Save $5 on your $10 purchase in stores now with this printable coupon.

 

We’re moving in four days. Not a single box packed. I took an epic nap of denial today. So there’s that.” -@oiler02

Christmas is less than a week away, which means I should be vibrating with holiday cheer and magic — but instead I’ve become incredibly familiar with the epic nap of denial.

Today I made the mistake of going to the grocery store sad, hungry and alone which means potato chips for breakfast with a Pop-Tart chaser.

Wink decided yesterday that what we really needed in place of nice Christmas dinner  and presents was a vet bill for $170.

Seems this is the fourth year in a row of the Christmastime glums, but each year has been marked by sadness for a different reason. Not sure what’s wrong this year, but three years ago I can clearly remember being so sad and pregnant that I took up permanent residence on the couch watching old Christmas movies. Meet Me in St. Louis is the one that sent me over the edge, Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was the nail in my proverbial coffin of holiday cheer.

I don’t dislike Christmas, in fact I rather enjoy a dozen different aspects of the holiday season — especially all the lights. I’ve convinced myself that my neighbors keep their lights up until April, not because they’re lazy — but because Christmas lights brighten up the oftentimes miserable landscape of Indiana in winter. I love playing Santa for my girls, I love the smell of our tree, I love seeing Vivi play with her little nativity and I love when Addie gets home and attends to every advent we’ve accumulated over the last several years.

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But there are other aspects that aren’t my favorite. The commercialism, the greediness, the gimme-gimme and the complete loss of the whole reason Christmas began.

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Being with my family and having our little traditions is what carries me through each year. Like Chinese food and  watching Elf on Christmas Eve (modified from my childhood tradition of crab legs, which I still love, but no one else does and when you’re the only one who actually enjoys a tradition it’s really just everyone else putting up with your strong need for drawn butter and difficult food) Christmas jammies, (started when we moved to Indiana) a giant bowl of M&Ms on Christmas Day (Cody’s childhood tradition) and a delicious Christmas brunch (sort of a conglomeration of both our childhoods and the belief that brunch is the best most indulgent meal of life.)

This year we added driving around looking at Christmas lights and cutting down our own Christmas tree.

It doesn’t help that so many other people in the world are all “GO GO GO!” and if you’re not “WHY AREN’T YOU?” I did everything important ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to leave the house in December, but that’s part of the problem — I haven’t left the house. There may be a little cabin fever going on, but I don’t want to leave the house, it’s crazy out there. So I hang out in the house painting with Vivi, playing games with Addie and baking way too many treats.

And really? It’s not that bad. Vivi is hysterical, Addie is always down for a snuggle, the house smells of Christmas and there’s always these two little girls together:

...Vivi's little paws wrapped around bunny...

Maybe I’ll stop looking at my epic naps of denial as failure during the holiday season and instead look at them as a way to recharge and take care of myself during a season full of so much. I mean, I’ve already finished the things that needed to get done, and there will always be more things to do so why not just snuggle down right here in front of the fire and zzz…

Where do you find the most magic during this time of year?

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I’m so thankful to be partnering with Hallmark during the holiday season on a series of sponsored posts to talk about all the little ways this season can bring us together and allow us to look at life and our relationships in a new way. I’m also thankful to Hallmark for having cards that deal with some of the more difficult moments in life, the ones that show it’s okay to not be 100% and that laughing about it is okay. If you haven’t been in a Hallmark store lately you should go, a mailed card really is the best way to get to someone in this increasingly digital world. Save $5 on your $10 purchase in stores now with this printable coupon.