Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello Goodbye

I spent a while in the car ride home from our post-Christmas Christmas in Pittsburgh writing a badass blog post.

Okay, yeah I was on Twitter and Facebook a lot too.

A post about resolving to be the best wife, daughter, friend, mother person EVAH.  But then in a moment reminiscent of a really bad day in college or one of my first few days when I wrote for a newspaper...I didn't hit save and all was lost.  All of my really badass blogging was gone, lost in cyberspace.

After arriving back home in Michigan and getting the kids to bed, I sat down to hit the publish key to share all my prolific new year's thoughts and realized my mistake.  And I cried.  And told my husband I hated him.  "I hate you too, " my husband said without missing a beat.  Then he gave me a kiss and said "just write something else honey, no worries."  And then I cried again and started writing, again.  Here it is, attempt at a badass blog post round two.

New Years Eve and Day is such a strange time.  It's celebration and reflection.  It's past and future.  It's sad and happy.  It's an end and a beginning.  It's hello and goodbye.

It marks the end of an extremely f#&*ing long holiday season.  And the beginning of a new year ripe with possibility.  It's full of promise and possibility--a new outlook, a new waistline, a new life, a new you.  It's all shoot for the stars, go for the gold.  At least until mid-January, when people realize many of the resolutions aren't going to happen.  Womp. Womp.

But it's not mid-January yet.  I'm all like "hey you, new year, hello, can't wait to see what happens and how great we're going to get along."  I'm in the Hello Phase.

This year I'm going to carve out more alone time, be more social, eat healthier, be a more patient parent, run longer and farther, stretch more, read more books and less entertainment web sites, eat more vegetables, learn to speak french, travel, get more sleep, write more, relax more, learn to sew, paint a canvass, learn the piano, be a more patient wife, care less about what people think, clean my house more often, respond to emails in a more timely fashion, remember to RSVP to parties, organize my closet, organize my drawers, organize my house, organize my life, play more, laugh more, love more and chill the fuck out more.

Since New Year's Eve and Day is so strange, not only am I looking ahead, but I'm looking back too.  As I reflect on 2012, the fact that the years are going by faster becomes even more real.  Thinking back to all the bedtime stories and ticklebacks or the middle of the night "it will be okays," the baseball games, the make believe magic, the backyard field of dreams, the hugs, the tears, the long talks, the family movie nights and road trips---it's bittersweet. 

I'm excited to see who my children are becoming, but knowing these sweet moments will never come again the same sweet way makes my heart ache.

There are a million little things that I will miss from 2012 and there are quite a few that I won't miss.  I won't miss the incredibly loooooong recovery process from Tim's shoulder surgery.  Yes, my husband is still sore from the surgery he had a million years ago in October.  I won't miss packing up a household and moving.  I won't miss changing diapers since baby Wade has been potty trained.

As I think back, I'm all like "hey, wait last year, I'm going to miss you, you taught me so much, I don't want you to leave yet." I'm in the Goodbye Phase.

Usually you can't be in two phases at one time.  It's a rule, right?  There has to be a rule about that.

Or maybe I'm just overcomplicating things.  Maybe it's really amazing.  To be in a moment where I feel a million emotions.  To be in a moment full of gratitude.  To be in a moment full of anticipation.  Maybe it's really simple.

"The answer to everything is simple," Paul McCartney said in an 1967 interview with Disc.  Explaining his song Hello Goodbye he said, "It's a song about everything and nothing.  If you have black, you have to have white.  That's the amazing thing about life."

The song that inspired it all:

Sure, I'm all Hello Goodbye, and it's pretty sweet.  Happy New Year. And Happy Last Year too.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Making It Great in 2012

Earlier this week we woke up to a snowy Christmas morning.  And then we woke up the next day to a blizzard warning that postponed a holiday trip to Pittsburgh.  Yeah, we holiday in Pittsburgh, so what, it's a great city.  

We made the best of our stuck at homeness.  

Looking back at the past 12 months, which is a popular thing to do this time of year, that's really been a theme throughout--making the best of things.

Through a short sold mess and becoming renters to broken bones and more, we've made the best of it.  Actually, most of the time we make it even better.  We laugh a lot.  We love a lot.  And we dance a lot.

Here's to more laughing, loving and dancing in the new year.

Here's a look back at some of my favorite moments of 2012:

Dancing and Beat Poetry
I love dancing and creative expression of all kinds.  Click here to read the post where I write about how I had to to do...I had to write and perform a beat poem.  Then watch it and forgive me my very Michigan accent. Ugh.


Click here to read about some of my thoughts on the past four years (personally speaking).

My 20th High School Reunion

Click here to read the post about the reunion.

Some other notable posts from the last year:

The One Where I Tell Off Know It All Moms--
F#@* It, Just Be Nice

The One Where I Go To A Blog Conference-I'm Outta Here

The One Where I Take The Reader Back In Time To Panama City 1989- Spring Break Total Recall

The One Where JT Breaks His Arm And I Yell The F Word (a lot)- Very Lucky

The One Where I Get Hit On By A Biker (Sort Of) And Discover The Good In the World-What Are You Looking At?

The One Where My Hatred of Cats Is Revealed- 
Furry Socks/Cats Suck

The One Where Lucy Makes A Case For Getting Lost In Space-
Lost on Mars

What about you?  What are some of your favorite moments of 2012?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Real Winner

I recently won something.  I never win anything.  Okay, wait, once I won a free Tai Chi class.  It was a random drawing and I thought it was a sign that my life was going to change, that big things were going to happen. It turned out to only be one very short Tai Chi class at a gym that was trying a new marketing strategy, little did they know that I was 22 and broke and wouldn't be signing up for any more classes.

So, no, my life didn't change that much after 20 minutes of free Tai Chi and nothing has been won by me since then.  (Okay, yeah, I get it, I won the lottery of life because I have a great husband, four beautiful kids and I'm healthy, but you know what I mean.)

That all changed last week when I found out I was nominated for MomPulse Mom of the Year in the Funniest Mom Vlog category.  They gave me 24 hours to campaign and I knocked on every door, set up informal phone banks and sent out spammy emails and text messages.  I went a little f-ing crazy.  I thought if I win it was a sign that big things were going to happen.

And just like a lackluster season of Dancing With The Stars, I was the D Actor that pulled out the upset win.  All my campaigning paid off big time.  I got an award for being Mom of the Year--not for being a crafty mom, not for being the best overall most caring, compassionate mom, not for being the most well-behaved mom at the car loop (even though if that was a category I think I really might win that too, people suck at the car loop!), nope, I got it for being funny.  I can live with that.

Has my life changed in the last week? Not so much.  But it does feel awesome to win something.

Check out my acceptance/thank you speech where I reveal what Sandra Bullock and I have in common.  

Check out a few other videos from my MomPulse Channel...

Real Housewives Intro:

My top tips on romance (this one's a little PG, mostly because I mention porn):

My MomPulse Intro Video (how it all began)

Click here to head over to my MomPulse YouTube Channel and subscribe if you like to laugh.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Miracles

Merry Christmas!

The past 24 hours has been full of mini Christmas miracles.  

Wade's rash was diagnosed as a creepy, weird sounding autoimmune problem that will eventually go away and IS NOT CONTAGIOUS.  Thank you Father Christmas, Dr. Pediatrician, sir, you just made our Christmas Eve so much better.  Not only will my whole family not be covered in the hideous rash that is all over baby Wade, but we were able to all go to church and be a part of the Christmas pageant and head over to grandma's afterward.

This is the sign I made and pinned to Wade's shirt for the church nursery.  He ripped it off after a few minutes however.
It's a good thing we made it to the pageant seeing how our family took up half the roles: Peyton was an innkeeper, Lucy and I were angels, Tim and JT were Roman soldiers.  The mini Christmas miracles continued with a rousing performance by the Youngbloods, well, er, at least none of us forgot our lines completely.  Sure we kind of made the finale our own when the Roman soldier (Tim) put his arm around the Angel Gabriel (me) and gave her a kiss as we all hovered over the baby Jesus (played by real baby Jimmy).  But I think it worked.

As we left church and headed to my mother-in-law's house, snow began to fall.  It was going to be a white Christmas after all.  

We stayed up late and the kids woke up early.  (And Tim and I are f#&*ing exhausted.)  

Everyone was happy with the gifts they got.  We are not a supersized Christmas morning family, but it honestly doesn't seem to bother the kids.

We spend Christmas day at home all day and all night, playing, resting, eating, resting and having fun together.  
The kids had fun trying out JT's new bow and arrow in the back yard.  I said they could all be Olympians if they practiced enough.  They said to lay off mom because they were just playing hunter. 

Hope you've had some Christmas miracles and happiness at your house this year too.

Here's one of my favorite Christmas songs from She & Him- Christmas Wish.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Coping and Believing

I spent most of yesterday walking around on the verge of tears.  Okay, I went over the verge quite a few times.  Things just felt all wrong--nothing was working out the way it was supposed to work out.

The day and night before had been so promising and full of holiday happiness.
Lulu's impromptu holiday jam session on the piano interrupted by a streaker.  She had no idea and didn't miss a beat.
A busy, chaotic living room.  I love it like this.

Even though we had to cancel our grown up party plans because of sitter issues and Wade having an allergic reaction, we had a nice evening.  The family watched Elf and laughed at all the silliness and joy.  Who doesn't love when Buddy says "I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite."

But the next morning, yesterday, we woke up to discover Wade's allergy was more like a rash and was more like nobody is going to want this kid at a pageant or holiday dinner.

I am not good with change and no control.  That might surprise you because I certainly lack control a lot of times and have no real organizational skills or life plan.  But you see, this chaos that is my life is usually my doing.   I'm fine with no plan as long as I am the one controlling the fact that we have no plan.  Is that confusing?

Bottom line is this: I had an expectation of what Christmas Eve and Christmas was going to be like and the rash f@*&ed it up.  And I lack the coping skills to deal.

My children are so very excited about Christmas that they didn't notice how weepy I was.  They went about the business of being kids two days before Christmas--bickering a little bit, singing Jingle Bells, shaking presents already under the tree, counting the hours until Santa starts his journey across the world, etc.

Sweet JT watching his Santa video.  He's a total believer in the magic of Christmas.

Tim stayed home from church with Wade because of the baby's horrific and most likely terribly contagious rash.  While he was home he made videos with special messages from Santa on Portable North Pole.  It's a really fun site and the videos are amazing and can be personalized.  After church, the kids watched.  They all liked them, but JT LOVED his video.  He loved it like a kid that really believes.  He believes with every ounce of his little being.  He believes in the magic, the wonder, the possibility.  He believes in Santa.

It got me out of my funk for a few minutes.
Then we had a family game night, which was also pretty awesome.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted.  Exhausted from crying and being bummed out and then being happy and hopeful and then being sad that Wade will most likely miss out on the Christmas Eve celebration at the in-laws and I was going to miss out on being a co-Angel of the Lord with Lucy in the pageant.  Waaaa.

I was really ready for the kids to go to bed.  JT asked to sleep on the floor in Lucy's room and we said sure.  Shortly after they went up to bed, Lucy came down to get me.  "JT is crying because he's going to miss Keith Babu," she informed me.  "You better come up."

I found my little guy crying his heart out.  So sad because Keith Babu our homemade Elf-on-the-Shelf (an old wrestling action figure) was leaving to go back to the North Pole tomorrow.  

Turns out I'm not the only one who can't deal with change.  Wait, is that sad/embarrassing that I relate so well with a 6-year-old?
JT has been drawing pictures of his new best friend for the past two weeks.

Bottom line: holidays are emotional, change is hard and my little believer doesn't want his new best elf friend to leave.

Here's a note JT and Lucy left for Keith Babu:
Notice how we all spell Keith Babu's name differently? And how Lucy was trying to get her big brother on the naughty list? Nice.

I sat down next to JT and comforted him.
"Everything is going to be okay," I told him.  "Think about all the happy things that are happening right now," I told him, and myself.  "Don't worry about the things that make you upset, feel good about all the wonderful things."

After a good cry, JT and I will be fine.  
Just like JT, I'm a believer.  I believe that even though I lack coping skills, I will bounce back and feel good about all the wonderful things and make the best of it, for the whole family.

Bottom line: I believe it will be a merry Christmas, hideous rash and all.

Here's the note that Keith Babu (aka Mr. Christmas himself, my husband Tim) left for the kids in response to JT and Lucy's note:

That's pretty wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful things, here is the winner of the Joyful Giveaway sponsored by catching fireflies is Wendy.  
Her beautiful comment was selected by using

Joy... Hmmm at this very moment is Simplicity. Hugs, tears, giggles, snowdays (school just canceled for tomorrow), Legos, vhs tapes of my old favs that my kids have discovered, believing in Santa and 'elves' living all over the house each night, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, board games and hot cocoa. Singing Silent night at mass on Christmas eve & holding hands with my husband and children while we recite the Our Father at mass. And Joy may be winning a prize on Monday! Lol

Check out some of the other inspiring comments about joyful moments here.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Full of Life and What I Know For Sure (This Week) and a Giveaway

This past week has been full.  
Full of emotion, full of classroom holiday parties, full of activity and full of reflection.  
Full of life.    
I saw this quote on a friend's instagram and felt it described moments this week perfectly:
"when we did art with the kids, the demons would lie down"
- Anne Lamott -
Life is complicated, amazing, heartbreaking, simple, exhilarating, always changing, utterly monotonous, achingly sweet and unbelievably short, that I know for sure.

Here's what else I know for sure (this week):
  • It felt extra sweet to laugh this past week and this video WILL make you laugh.  It's one of the best of YouTube last year.  Not only will you laugh, you will find yourself singing it over and over in these last-days-before-Christmas rush and asking yourself "what ain't I got time for?" (i.e. long lines, family drama, etc.)

  • Sometimes the best accessories are the least expensive.  JT made this necklace by cutting out a million felt squares.  He asked me to wear it to his class party this past Monday.  I've never loved a necklace more.  His eyes lit up when I walked into his classroom with the felt masterpiece around my neck. 

  • People are a little more excited than usual about the Christmas pageant at church--Lulu is making her triumphant return as an angel.  Years ago there was a little incident.  I wrote about it over at Ring Around the Rosies.  Click here to read all about it.
Lulu at dress pageant rehearsal.

  • Giving stuff away feels really good.  One of the fun parts about having this blog is getting the opportunity to host giveaways.  This week's giveaway was all about joy--people had to leave a comment about what is making them joyful right now and they were entered in a drawing to win a gift card to a most joyful store/web site catching fireflies.  The comments were amazing and made me so happy, click here to read them.  

So let's keep the joy going...the giveaway is still in full effect.  Leave a comment here about either what you know for sure this week or what is bringing you joy right now.  You could win what I like to call the "arm candy of hope" pictured above as well as a $34 gift card to catching fireflies.

  • You can make a difference.  Here is an amazing way to help the families in Newtown, CT.  My friend Jaima from Ring Around the Rosies, who also lived near Newtown for years, has put together a collection of night lights for the surviving children of Newtown.  Click here for details.

What do you know for sure (this week)? C'mon, we're friends, share what you know.  Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page.

  Come play with me on Instagram @jumpingwithmyfingerscrossed.
Oh yeah, and come follow me on Twitter @AngelaYBlood and check out my YouTube channel here.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Preach Marmee Preach-A New Review of An Old Movie

Humor, kindness and moral courage, these are the things I cherish most about you.

I so wish I could give my girls a just world, but I know you will make it a better place.
-Marmee in Little Women, 1994

Every Christmas, we bust out some pretty sweet traditions.  They aren't too fancy, but the kids seem happy.  They make us all happy.  I am big on traditions. Traditions are good, they are solid, safe and reassuring, and fun.  
Lucy and Peyton lighting the candles at our Sunday Advent dinners is a treat for them.

One of our traditions is an Advent Calendar, like a lot of people.  

But ours isn't filled with candy or gifts, it's filled with what the kids call "fortunes"--notes like in a fortune cookie.  Each note has a special activity or event such as "Family Game Night" or "Stay Up An Hour Past Bedtime."  

We try to include as much one-on-one time with each child as possible in the "fortunes," because let's face it one-on-one time is pretty much a Christmas miracle in this busy, hectic household.

"I know my time with mom will be shopping," Lucy announced one day before reaching into the calendar pocket.  I asked her why she thought that and she replied "because that's what moms and daughters do, shop."

I almost spit out my drink.  You see, I'm not a shopper.  My kids have only been to a mall a handful of times and they act like it's a museum, all strange and new and fascinating.  

There's nothing wrong with shopping, but I simply don't want my only daughter to think that's the only way we can bond.  I don't want shopping to be our core commonality, our identity as female reps in this house where testosterone reigns.

Marmee to the rescue.

One of our other special traditions during the holidays is watching movies.

When my daughter Lucy was little she would snuggle on the couch with me and watch one of my holiday favorites, Little Women The 1994 Susan Sarandon/Winona Ryder version.  

Of course, many years she would fall asleep next to me or spend part of the moving coloring or playing quietly.

This year however she came to the couch to really watch.  She had questions and was appalled that Jo wasn't going to college when Laurie did.

We talked about how women couldn't vote or own property.  We talked about the clothes they had to wear in the 1860s and how they had to sometimes hide their true personality in front of boys and men and they had to be proper ladies.

Winona Ryder as Jo reminded me of my little Lucy, crinkling her nose, stomping her feet, loving large and fighting big.  

Susan Sarandon's take on the character of Mrs. March, or Marmee as her daughters call her, was nothing short of inspiration.  A feminist/political power with tenderness and love who had some really great quotes.  I found myself nodding saying "preach Marmee, preach."

Go, and embrace your liberty.  And see what wonderful things come of it.
-That amazing Marmee again

Halfway during the movie my boys wandered into the room and reluctantly sat down and started watching the movie.

In true Jo fashion, Lucy crinkled her nose and said, "What are the boys doing here?"

But she quickly forgot being annoyed when Beth got sick. Worried about Beth, everyone became invested in the movie.  

Little Women wasn't just a mother/daughter movie, but a whole family movie.  Even my husband sat down and was surprised by the actor who plays Laurie.  "Is that Batman?" he asked.  Yup, that's Christian Bale.

The whole family watched--we enjoyed a movie about women and identity; we discussed history, including how lucky we are to live in a time with good medicine and no Civil War and more equal rights.  Turns out, I not only want my daughter to know that women do more than shop, I want my sons to know that too.

The movie was about a family holding onto each other, and their ideals, loving each other in an uncertain time. Um, yeah, I can relate.
And that's what makes it timeless and a definite holiday classic.

What holiday movies are on your must-watch list?  

This movie review was done for Mommy Bear Media where you can purchase Little Women and a slew of other family friendly movies.

Take a look at Mommy Bear Media--they have a wide variety of older movies and the best new movies on DVD for the whole family. And they offer free 2-5 day shipping on all orders.  In addition to their website, you can follow up with them on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Love, Joy and a Giveaway

The last few days have broken me open.  

I've tried not to read the updates online or watch the news.  I've deliberately tried to avoid reading the stories of the CT victims.  But I can't escape the reminders of what happened.  Every time I look into my children's eyes, especially my own sweet first grade little boy.  The past couple days at the car loop dropping off my children, picking them up. The holiday parties in their classrooms this week. All reminders of the families and their tremendous loss.

But my soul hasn't just broken open to fear, sadness and vulnerability.  It's also been broken open to more compassion, deeper appreciation and true joy.
I wear these awesome bracelets as my new manifesto. I do believe.  I do have hope. (Check out how you can win this arm candy of hope at the bottom of this post.)

My love is stronger, my empathy is bigger, my eyes are clearer.

I posted this video last week, but now, like most everything, it seems sweeter and even more joyful.

Let me get really real here too.  Yes, I've hugged my children more often and held those hugs for what felt like an eternity to them I'm sure.  But I've also gotten frustrated and sent them to their rooms for bad attitudes, taken Wii privileges away and had to apologize for snapping at them at breakfast this morning.  

It's real life, but my god, I even appreciate all of that more.

In honor of joy and love and hope and gratitude, I'm giving away a gift card to one of the most joyful, amazing stores/web sites I know--catching fireflies.

We are lucky enough to live in Metro Detroit (honestly not a sentence I've said that much in the last few years) and within walking distance to one of the catching fireflies stores.  Lucy and I love to go, simply walking inside the store makes us happy.
Here's my Lulu picking out gifts for her teachers.

The store is full of color and art and happiness.  It's the perfect place to find hostess gifts, funny magnets and creative gifts for all ages.

catching fireflies is sponsoring this giveaway with a $34 gift card. The winner will also win a HOPE bracelet along with other a few other colorful bracelets that are made from recycled plastic, and are awesome (see picture above).  The bracelets were bought at the catching fireflies down the street from me.

All you have to do is leave a comment here about what brings you joy or what is filling you with love right now.  The winner will be chosen by a random drawing (using and will be announced on Monday.