Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Christmas Stocking

My favorite part of Christmas is the stockings.  I love making them up and I love getting one.  This is the story of why my kids are the best in the world.

The year their dad and I separated, we (obviously) didn't do Christmas stockings for each other.  I was a mess - it was a horrible holiday.

The next year was better.  The hatred was gone. But he was dating someone.  I was dating someone (who grew up without this tradition).  We weren't going to do stockings for each other.

My kids knew this was such an important part of my holiday - I'd never had a Christmas without one.  They knew the previous year was very tough for me.  And this year (which was really last year) was tough because their grandmother was dying during it all.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with my kids being the best in the world, right?  Hold on.

This year I was prepping all the stuff I had for the girls' stockings when I remembered what happened last year.  We have a rule that no one can sneak down the stairs early to cheat and see what Santa brought.  The girls broke that rule to sneak down the stairs and remove some of the candy and toys from their stocking and put them in mine. I was stunned.  I cried.  See?  I do have the best kids in the world.

This year we went back to old traditions.  We all had Christmas stockings.  My girls made sure I had a little bling in mine (with help from their dad).  Seriously, I love those girls.  They planned and prepped and made sure my Christmas was good.  Last time: I have the best kids in the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Friendly Side of Karma

Karma is a bitch.  We've all heard it.  And in my experience it's pretty much true.  But there's also a nice side to karma.  Every now and again I get a reminder from the Universe to pay more attention to that kinder side.

My day started out shitty.  My facebook status was going to say something like "If I don't drop dead from a stroke, this will be a successful day."  Then I started to hear my mother's voice in my head.  When we lived in Ocean City, NJ, she was on a positive thinking kick.  She would get a thought in her head and say it over and over - I suppose much in the way I do with my girls about making a positive impact on others' lives.  Only my mom's mantra was "Thoughts are things" and "Your attitude is your life".  I HATED hearing those phrases.  Yet, something must have sunk in.  Because about 30 years later, I'm still hearing them.

I fought with my daughters this morning.  I yelled.  I felt bad and it was a crappy way to start our day.  That didn't make me happy. It made my blood pressure shoot up and put me in full-on bitch mode.

Then I realized I didn't want to feel bitchy all day.  I wanted to start over.  Easier said than done.  But I would make an effort and see what happened.

I got to my job and waited until we found that it had been cancelled last week and we weren't notified.  I wasn't UNhappy.  I needed to be in that area anyway so it was okay.  But still.....

I went to the gas station and some dude in a tanker truck yelled at me.  Something along the lines of "why are you behind me?? You're blocking me!!"   Instead of giving him attitude and a finger, I rolled down my window and said in my nice voice "Do you need me to move?"  He asked if I was getting gas.  I did not called him stupid and say WTF??  Why else would I be at a gas station.  I just said yes.  His response?  He smiled and told me he'd wait.  That was good.

Then I went in the Russian grocery to get something my bf's mother introduced me to the other week. I wasn't sure of the name but I remembered I had taken a picture of it.  I asked the woman (who spoke to me in Russian) and she responded (in English) that they didn't have those things today.  Oh.  I must have looked sad because she went in the back, came out and asked if I could wait 5 minutes.  Of course!  And five minutes later I had them.  My attitude adjustment was becoming genuine.

I went to a craft store that has several online reviews about the snotty staff.  I needed to ask a question and wasn't looking forward to getting an attitude. I asked my question and instead of attitude I got a friendly sales person to help me.  The woman at the counter told me to download the app for the store so I'd get a discount.  She waited while I did it - and there was a line behind me.  Not too many people do that.

I'm not 100% sold on the "thoughts are things" spiel.  I do think "Your attitude is your life" might have some merit.  Clearly when I smile at folks and give them the benefit of the doubt, my interactions with them are more positive.  As my girls and I try to do additional deeds of goodwill to folks in memory of the children who died in Connecticut last week (they can no longer do it for themselves so we will do it for them), I need to remember that people have bad days or at least bad moments but that doesn't always (usually) merit me yelling or shooting the finger.

I will continue going through my day looking for the good things that happen when I don't yell at people.  It sounds like of odd but it works.  My daughter (A) points this out to me regularly.  I need to notice it more.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Hello.  My name is Judi and I'm an addict.

Addict to what?  It depends.

Sometimes it's to a tv show.  Or three.  Like Dexter.  Homeland.  Real Housewives (that last one is a secret vice.  Don't judge).

Sometimes it's to a book.  50 Shades had me hooked there for a while.  Usually it's something far more mundane.  Illusions - my favorite book.  I've read it at least 50 times.

Sometimes it's a movie.  We won't talk about how many times I've watched Rocky Horror - but that's been over 30 years so that's not so bad.

Sometimes it's a food.  When I was in second grade I loved maraschino cherries.  I loved them so much I ate an entire jar in one sitting.  Haven't touched one since.  The site of one makes my stomach hurt.

Sometimes it's people.  That is a separate post entirely.

Sometimes it's a restaurant.  We used to eat at the Woodside all the time.  Now I avoid it.  It never was a great place to eat.

Sometimes it's a store.  I used to LOVE the unique store.  It catered to my need to treasure hunt.  Now I don't have time for it.

I need a good, not expensive, not unhealthy addiction.  Suggestions?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All that glitters....

Most folks know I am not a huge fan of Christmas.  I think I actually like the holiday.  It's just all the gift buying and wrapping and baking and being sociable stuff I don't love.  I like it all in parts.  I would just like those parts spread out over, say, a few months instead of a few weeks.

M asked me the other day:

Mommy, what do you want for Christmas?
Um, I don't know.  I have everything I need.
It's not about need.  It's about want.  What do you WANT?
Huh.  I don't know.  What do I want?
You want perfume.  Or jewelry.  Or pretty socks.  Not stuff you need.
Those are all good ideas.  I like all of those things.

Every Christmas (and Mother's Day and my birthday), it's kind of the same thing.  I need new tiles for the kitchen floor.  I need a new filter for the refrigerator.  I want something sparkly.  And I feel bad for wanting things.  I don't know why that is.  Maybe it's because I stress about money, the car, the girls education so much that I can't see past that. I need to stop doing that.

My ex and I limit the girls' requests of Santa to three things.  We've always done that.  Three very well thought out things.  This year they can't come up with three things so at least one will be a surprise.

Maybe my problem is that I have good (read: expensive) taste.  I like Channel Allure perfume.  I like gold and silver, not plated, jewelry.  I like electronics.  And my girls are taking after me.  This is a problem.

Some of the best gifts I've ever received were things I wanted and didn't know I wanted.  A keurig (I didn't even drink coffee then!).  An iPod.  Now I listen to it almost every day.  A double burner griddle - pancakes are so much easier now!  A Kindle - I read far more than I did before.  Those were all wonderful and were obviously gifts that required some thought.

I have a few folks in my life for whom buying gifts is tough.  I want to get each of those folks a gift that will give them that Oh, she knows me! feeling.  I'm coming up blank.  This makes me nuts.

If you, my fabulous readers, have great gift ideas, please leave comments.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Fresh Coat of Paint

I did something I don't often get to do.  I got a make over.  This probably isn't a big deal to most folks and I didn't think it was a big deal to me.  Then I realized it was.

My sister-in-law (and brother) are in town for our family holiday, Thanksmas.  It's a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one.  It's normally a time for my girls to spend time with the aunt and uncle and my mom to spend some time with her son.  It's usually a rushed sort of weekend, trying to get a lot of things done in a short period of time.  My participation tends to be making sure the girls are wherever they're supposed to be and attending the family meal.

This year was a little different.  My brother was taking my mom to an appointment and the girls were not yet out of school.  I got a text from my SIL that said "come play with me!".  I had paperwork and billing and cleaning and laundry and blah, blah, blah to do.  But I don't often get time with just her so I went.  

There wasn't much time before we had to get the girls so we walked around downtown Silver Spring for a bit.  I never get to go in Ulta (makeup store).  Going in with two 11 year old girls is a nightmare.  Please don't touch.  No, you can't wear Smashbox makeup.  No, I'm not getting you Bare Minerals.  Don't try on more than one perfume at a time. That is why I don't go in there with them.  They weren't here and Kelley was so we went in.  I wanted something new - a new color, a new something different.  

At Kelley's urging, I sat in the chair and the makeup person started her magic. I told her I thought she has the best job - she makes people feel pretty.  She had brushes and lotions and powders.  At the end of it all, I had new colors on my face and a new attitude.  I haven't had another person do my makeup since my wedding.  That was 1998.  It's been a while.

I feel all shiny and new.  I didn't want to wear my glasses - I wanted everyone to see my new colors.  When we picked the girls up from school, M noticed right away.  You're wearing makeup.  That's a new color!  That's why I love that kid.

My new attitude and new look and new happiness are going to celebrate Thanksmas.