We don't have time to pee... {December 2016}

I've done nothing but sleep and read since the day after Christmas. That's not the whole truth, but it's 95% of it. December was a blur, and not in the cliche way, like it was so magical and jammed packed with fun it just flew by. No, it was a blur because it was jam packed with obligation and work and school and homework and unnecessary class party bullshit.

Oh. Wow, that took a turn. Sorry. Rant over.

Seriously, though. Can I be honest for a minute here? December was kind of a shit show. Between dance and Girl Scouts and dance recitals and school and homework and oh yeah, actual work, we were scheduled to the very minute. Every single minute of every single day contained a task, a plan, a to do list, some kind of obligation. I know what you're thinking. You do this to yourself, Meg. You say yes, you want to be the room mom and the scout leader and the mom who does all the fun holidays stuff like make sugar cookies and gingerbread from scratch. Yes. You're right. I'm guilty of wanting and not wanting to be that kind of mom, simultaneously. But if over scheduling a life was an Olympic event, I'd be a gold medalist to a Michael Phelps degree.

I didn't plan for an over scheduled holiday season. You would think since I'm a retail warrior I'd plan better since Christmas ornaments hit the sales floor on October (not even kidding). You would think that since I spent the week before Thanksgiving in Disneyland that was decorated within an inch of its life for Christmas I would have been better prepared.

I wasn't.

Fully aware of the calendar I still didn't even have a chance to make cookies with the girls until the week of the 17th. The 17th I made the dough, the 18th we cut them out and baked them, and on the 19th after school and before dance we decorated them. I'm not even joking a little that these were 110% scheduled. Within an inch of our lives.

Christmas shopping was done via Amazon and my weekly day off. It's almost impossible to shop on the weekend with kids who are old enough to know what kind of Santa shit you are trying to pull. I took an extra day off to wrap gifts. And then actually followed through and wrapped gifts because if not nine days before Christmas then when? Never, it would have never happened.

One afternoon during a Target run, in between dance (Mackenzie) and dance (Caitlin), I actually told Mackenzie, "We don't have time to pee". Bathroom breaks had not been scheduled for this Target run, and if we stopped we would be late to the next pressing appointment (dance). Don't worry, I'm not a monster, I took her to the restroom. Still I said the words, because I felt them with my entire body and soul. They were cold hard facts, I had not scheduled time to pee.

We made some good memories. I promise we did. The kind of memories that come with having a harried over scheduled slash over achieving mother. My daughters will always remember the "great boot hunt of 2016" the night before the Christmas program, staying out at the mall until 9 at night when we should have all been in bed, or at least homework for that matter. They will always remember the winter dance recital where their mom didn't realize how long it would take to do hair and make up on her two daughters plus herself. Which meant a breakfast of French fries and Dr Pepper courtesy of Jack in the Box, which they bragged about all day. My girls will never forget the last minute dash to do all the things: ugly sweater selfies, teacher gifts and making reindeer food in the 11th hour on Christmas Eve. Not even kidding when I say that we made reindeer food, put that shit out and went to bed. 

These are the moments that allow great children to become great adults. I promise you. Carefully curated Christmases are for psychopaths. Or so I continue to tell myself.

We had a fantastic Christmas. Was it sparkly and Instagram ready? Of course not. But after almost ten years of motherhood, it my brand of perfect. I wasn't ready, but I'm beginning to think I never will be. Not all the decorations made it out. The craft supplies that were supposed to be our 2016 ornaments are still sitting in the bag. The wreath I wanted to re-do has be carefully repacked into its bin. That beautiful chocolate gingerbread cake that I planned on baking in October, is still waiting to be baked. I never did see Love Actually all the way through. I never did read Jolly Postman Holiday to the kids. But none of those things matter now. Not really. We could do all of those things now, in January. In preparation for next year. Maybe the key to fitting in all the things in December is to start doing them in January. Eureka! I'm a genius. 

Now, in the most cliche way I have blinked and it's January. Actually it's January ninth, and my kids go back to school tomorrow. We are back to our regularly scheduled programming, and December is but a blur. Except for the fact that I still want to sleep all day and read all night. But I've held that belief since college. I'd like to say that December 2016 was the hardest and worst of the Decembers yet, but that would be a lie. The truth is, living on the edge, over scheduled and overwhelmed is exactly how I roll ninety nine percent of the time. That's where the naps come in. 

That my friends is how you win at December-ing. 

Goodbye December/ Goodbye 2016

It occurred to me an hour ago that I had not posted a single thing in the month of December.

I should have realized this sooner, but the truth is, I was too busy. Too overwhelmed. Too distracted by a season that should have been more focused.

My last post to this blog was November 8th, and after that it seems as though I have blinked and today is December 31st.

To say that December was hard is a complete understatement. Busy became a four letter word. I struggled the entire month to hold on tight to traditions, my knuckles turning white, and seemed to fail regularly. Christmas cookies were a three night project. I took a day off from work to wrap gifts. Class gifts were forgotten, gift cards were chosen last minute, even my regular binge of Christmas movies didn't happen before the 25th.

I spent the last 10 days before Christmas in a panic. How would it all get done? The class parties and the dance lessons, and the parties at the dance lessons. The Girl Scout party, the "Adults only" Christmas party, the family celebrations. As usual, they all fell into place, some last minute, some by the skin of our teeth. Some things we just had to let go of, because there were never enough minutes, barely enough moments.

That is why I woke up on Christmas Eve and decided to be happy. I made the conscious effort to be content. That is why I watched all five of my favorite Christmas movies between the 24th and the 26th. All in bits and pieces, I only saw my favorite scene in Love Actually (Hugh as the PM dancing, because duh); half of The Holiday while Santa worked furiously putting together a doll house. I switched back and forth between A Christmas Story and Scrooged. Home Alone on Christmas Eve afternoon while I baked cakes. It wasn't pretty or perfect, but I saw enough of them to soothe my soul. To make it feel like I was ready for Christmas.

Because I needed to be ready, for my family, for my kids, and I wasn't quite in the Christmas spirit. But the bits and pieces came together and made it feel whole enough to tear open gifts and eat candy first thing in the morning. To enjoy gifts of coloring books and colored pencils. To laugh with and at cousins I don't see regularly. To make reindeer food last minute with my girls who couldn't go to bed until the milk and cookies were out, and the reindeer food sprinkled.

We spent a rushed Christmas happily. All the traditions we didn't get to were forgotten Christmas morning. We didn't look back, we were too busy celebrating.

Truth is we are still celebrating. Our tree is still up, the lights are still on the house.

We haven't finished quite yet.

Because we made it to today, with a few bumps, but we still made it.

I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for today and all the yesterdays of 2016. Even if some of them were complete and total bullshit. Even if some of the days included loved ones getting life altering diagnosis. Even if some of those days included fights about politics with family members. Even if some of those days included mom fails and wife fails and all around adulting fails.

I'm grateful I'm here. With my health and my family. With the people I love and those that love me. Tonight I'm heavy with reflection as I say goodbye to 2016. I'm heavy with hope for 2017. Mostly I'm happy and thankful as I greet a new year. It's like opening a fresh notebook. Blank pages just waiting to be filled.

Cheers to filling them well.

Chapter One...

30 Day Writing Challenge {Day 1 /Social Media}

November is National Novel Writing Month and every November I promise myself that I'm going to hunker down and write my novel. I haven't, but what I found was a 30 day writing challenge for the month to spark some creativity. I found this pin on Pinterest, and have been following it, mostly. I've also used this one too. 

As you can see, I'm publishing these out of order, the only reason is that I'm just writing the prompts and they are piling up before I can get them onto the blog. Day 1 was "The Problem with Social Media". I write these on my phone and leave them pretty much unedited. If you want to join in the challenge, check out the pin and jump in!

At first glance the obvious problem with social media would be the time it can consume, the envy that it can bring, the bullying that inevitably follows, and the overall idiocy that continues. Right now social media is a mirror image of what's happening in our lives. The election, black lives vs blue lives, trashy Halloween costumes, celebrity scandals and gossip. People are bullied. Families are divided over Hillary vs Trump and everyone is offended.
I could write for hours on all the problems and issues that plague social media.
Instead, Here is what I know is great about social media.
I'm connected with friends and relatives that I normally wouldn't be. Some live near, some live far, but thanks to Facebook and Instagram they are a click away.
I like that my husband and I speak meme, fluently. We can send each other memes all day long and talk and laugh about them later. I love those direct messages from him.
I love that social media allows me to connect with people I would never meet otherwise. Two of my dearest friends are products of the blogging world. We've only met up three or four times in real life. We text every day. Without social media, I wouldn't have them in my life and that would be a crime.
I love that people all over the world can have a heart felt connection over a cat video or a sheriff dancing in a high school gym. Real connections. Sharing comments.  Being kind or showing support. It's fun to read positive reactions instead of the negative ones usually highlighted on social media.
I love so many things about social media, about my iPhone, about Internet connections. For all the awful and negative aspects of this new age of communication, there are so many positive ones. It's true that my children will never know about a life without Facebook or Instagram. A life where real, tangible mail ruled. A world where you couldn't just download the best selling book or movie the night it was released. Standing in line on press day, waiting for the five o'clock news, having to wait for a rerun of a favorite show, are just tales of lore. Stories of yesteryear.
Still there is something to be said about watching a table of ladies, grandmas and great grandmas to be specific, taking pictures of each other, then taking selfies. Maybe they all have Facebook accounts to keep up with the kids. Maybe they have Instagram accounts for all the filters. Maybe one of those cool grannies even has a Snapchat and added the deer filter. I have no idea, but from where I sat last Saturday in a restaurant, those ladies were happy as can be. Armed with iPhones and great filters. Giggling and laughing at what technology is doing for them.
Oh to be that cool one day.

30 Day Writing Challenge {Day 2: Earliest Memories}

November is National Novel Writing Month and every November I promise myself that I'm going to hunker down and write my novel. I haven't, but what I found was a 30 day writing challenge for the month to spark some creativity. I found this pin on Pinterest, and have been following it, mostly. I've also used this one too. 

Day 2 was "Your Earliest Memory" and I had a few to share. This was fun to write, even if it was just on my phone while my girls were at dance. If you want to join in the challenge, check out the pin and jump in!

I can remember going to preschool, Bo Peep and Ms. Jean was my teacher. I always wanted to get the "good egg" award. It was given to the most well behaved children at the end of the day. It was a card stock egg, on a string. It was coveted by all the children. I remember the beautiful schoolhouse that was once an actual house on a street in town, and it had neighbors. I remember celebrating my fifth birthday with the most beautiful cupcakes from Pollyanna bakery. White cupcakes with white butter cream air brushed to look like grass, with jelly beans and candy eggs on top. The privilege of being a spring baby. I remember the playground. Filled with play houses with real food boxes, recycled for play before people did such things. A large fort with real logs. Play cars that I literally fought over. Because the red one was always mine. I remember the most delicious sugar cookies, their tops packed with “nonpareils”, every color of the rainbow. I nibbled that cookie all the way down to my fingertips but refused to eat more, because my hands were dirty from playing outside. My request to wash them denied, my need for clean, germ free hands, intense. But I remember the cookie, still thirty four years later. The buttery film it left in my mouth, the crunch of the non perils, the heartbreak of losing the last third of it to dirty hands.

I remember my first quesadilla. Jack cheese on corn tortillas. More please. I always wanted more of whatever My grandma Chila was cooking. We sat on the porch of her house, watching the cars go by, the afternoon sun fading, a glorious day for Salinas. A rare fog free day. We waited there for my mom to pick me up after work. Maybe I was four, maybe I was five. I remember my Grandpa's red and white can of Budweiser, the sharp tang of the Monterey Jack cheese, the soft shell of the corn tortilla. I can still see the angle of the sun on the porch, and know all these years later that I was barefoot and in shorts. I can still feel the sun on my back from the beautiful Salinas day.

I can remember the first time I wrote my name, in a picture book. Over sized capital “E” and “A”, as though I had a preference for vowels. I had been writing my bike in the driveway and stopped to look at the book. The sun was bright and I had to squint to see my name on the page. The first time I remember reading was with Mrs. Perkinson my kindergarten teacher. I read her flash cards of colors, orange and red, purple and blue, then of words like house and cat. I can still remember the paste in the jars, the stamps on the back of my hand when we were good, the lunch that my grandma would pack… One half ham sandwich on white, one half banana, red juice in a plastic barrel that she had bought at Monte Mart, because I didn’t like milk.

For the month of November I'll be posting the things that I write in this challenge. It just takes me a few days to get them from my phone and edited. I hope you liked reading as much as I liked writing.

Uncommon Gifts for this Holiday Season {Uncommon Goods}

***I was approached by Uncommon Goods to give my honest opinion on their site and the kinds of products they offer. The opinions expressed in this post are mine. I've been a fan of Uncommon Goods for years, so this was a fun post to write. And yes, I was compensated for this post.***

Halloween has passed, and I’m  playing Christmas music and strategically planning my Christmas shopping. To be honest I think about Christmas gifts all year because I have a lot of gifts to buy, but I also like to find unique gifts for my family. I love finding things that they love, and maybe wouldn’t buy for themselves. This gets difficult with my kiddos that are spoiled rotten and have everything you see in Target. I love when I can find something that isn’t Disney or whatever movie is currently playing. For the adults in my life, like the Hubbs, I love finding gifts that will make an impression. Half the fun of shopping is in the “hunt”, what’s great about Uncommon Goods, is that you can “hunt” in your pajamas!

Uncommon Goods is a great website to find gifts for everyone on your list. From Infants to Grandparents and everyone in between you are sure to find something they will love. Uncommon Goods also has a registry and a Blog called The Goods, where they go in depth when presenting their products. What I love about Uncommon Goods is that they have unique gifts from artists around the world that they partner with. Many of them right here is the USA. Great for family members that want American made products, and for those of us who try to keep it “local”.

For this post, I scoured their website to find some great gifts for those folks on my “Hard to Buy” list, for my kiddos, and of course, Me. I couldn’t post every item, but here are my favorites.

For my “Hard to Buy” folks, I started with (1) Game of Phones, which will keep us all connected and engaged, because lets face it we are all on our phones anyway. I love that it’s competitive texting and Google searches, among other competitions. A (2) Smart Phone projector makes a movie night possible anywhere and anytime. I have family members that travel so how fun would this be on a long trip? Also for my friends that have impatient little ones, movie nights in forts while the adults recover from the day. I loved these (3) Zodiac necklaces for my women friends. Unique to each person who receives it, but also not overly flashy. I love that these necklaces can be worn all the time, dressy or casual. For my wine enthusiast friends, (4) Personalized Wine Barrel lazy Susans are perfect. Each can bring some rustic charm to any setting, and how perfect would they be for cheese and crackers? Score! Finally for my beer drinking folks, (5) and Insulated Growler. Perfect for the tailgater in your life, or maybe the camper. It holds 64 ounces and stays cold for 24 hours. You can also take it a step further and get the keg kit that goes with it, to turn the growler into a personal keg!

Searching for unique gifts for my kids was super fun. My girls are spoiled rotten, so I’m always looking for gifts that you can’t just buy anywhere, but also will make an impact. I mean, how many more Shopkins can we buy at this point? For Caitlin I loved the (1) Llama Pouch. It’s perfect for pencils, make up, or whatever she can stuff into it. She loves anything with animals these days, so this seems like a great buy. For both girls (2) the Mobi Math Game. It’s like Scrabble, but numbers. I’m sure they won’t even notice they are learning since they are so competitive. I’m pretty sure they both need (3) Gummy Bear lights, because really who doesn’t need Gummy Bear lights in their life? And finally, (4) Unicorn and Rainbow mismatched earrings. Unicorns are big in our house right now. These are just perfect.

Of course I could not visit any website with awesome products and not create a wish list for myself. I absolutely want a (1) plush uterus. Sure there are other organs available, but come on, the uterus is the only way to go. It’s looks so mild and unassuming, like most organs, but we all know she is the strongest. I also have to have (2) Game of Phones. Any game that allows me to be on my phone with purpose is okay in my book. (3) The Zodiac necklace is a must, especially since it’s pictured in my sign, so now I know I can’t live without it. But my real wish is to have (4) The Diana Camera. It’s a definite throwback, as it takes real film… Real FILM. It also produces those soft and dreamy images that we all flock to Instagram to create. It’s a must have for any photography enthusiast, or for someone like me who is just obsessed with Instagram. 

Even if you haven't started your Christmas shopping, Uncommon Goods is a great place to go when you need a unique gift for the special people in your life. Check out these other categories and my favorite picks from each one...

Great Personalized Anniversary gifts can be found on the Uncommon Goods top picks page. My Favorites include: The Personalized Family Print, turn your family into a fun illustration; The Intersection of Love print, you and your love intersecting in name; and these amazing personalized Whiskey Barrels, I'm not a fan of whiskey, but my best friend is and she would love this in her life!

Need a one of a kind baby gift? Need a housewarming gift for the family that has everything? Is Dad tired of socks and ties? Uncommon Goods top Personalized Gift collection is the place to find the perfect gift. My top three from this collection are: The personalized Alphabet Book for any child on your list, an awesome baby shower or first Christmas gift; The Personalized Amp Doormat, awesome for those rockers in your life; and The Baseball Stadium Blueprint, for any baseball fanatic!

Finally my top three birthday gifts for her, picked from the Uncommon Goods Birthday Gifts collection. The Make a Wish personalized birthday candle, with the birthday girls name and age; The Friendship Tree trinket box, for your dearest friend; and The New York Times Custom Birthday Book, which is a collection of the Times front page every year since you were born, what a unique gift for news lovers in your life!

Shopping is one of my favorite things to do, so this post was so fun to write. I hope I’ve peaked your interest and you will be headed to Uncommon Goods soon to check them out. Hopefully I’ve helped you find some great gifts for people on your list this Holiday Season. Check out Uncommon Goods on Facebook and Instagram for more gift ideas.

Happy Shopping friends!