Friday, November 30, 2012

I See The Light and What I Know For Sure (this week)

I live in a great Christmas town.  It's hard to not like the holidays here in Whoville Rochester, Michigan.  And that's good.  No, really, it's good.

Because there are melancholy, damaged souls like myself that struggle with the holidays.  I struggle with all the happiness, all the expectations, all the bad memories.  

Aside from dealing with all the ghosts of holidays gone by, Christmas with kids is really intended for people that have good plan ahead calendar skills.  Not people with a, well, um, more scattered, fly by the seat of your pants approach to life.  I'm not really much of a shopper, planner, organizer kind of mom/person.

Inspired by my town and my children's enthusiasm and sweet little innocence, I'm going to become a planner. What? No, sorry that probably will never happen.  But I will do my best to let go of the holiday darkness and see the lightness.  
The family and me right after the town was lit this past Monday.  It's a magical moment when thousands of people chant "light our town" and the mayor flips the switch (with Santa's help of course).  I mean what the hell?  Can you get more Lifetime movie-Hallmark-esque?  It's good, it's really good.

If I feel that overwhelmed, I'm not a good enough mom/person, holidays are for crying and remembering every bad holiday ever feeling creeping up on me I will drive through or walk through my town.  My town, full of bright lights and Christmas cheer.  I will focus on the lightness and the goodness.  I will remember all the good parts of the story:

  • the lights, duh
  • watching the specials on TV snuggled with the kiddos under blankets
  • reading Christmas stories
  • telling Christmas stories 
  • singing the songs
  • volunteering to help someone in need
  • using the fancy Christmas plates at Sunday dinners
  • sharing ideas about faith
  • thinking more about my own faith
  • making the cookies
  • eating the cookies
  • decorating the house
  • decorating the tree
  • celebrating in our own way
  • counting down
  • watching my children make so many happy memories
There really is so much lightness and goodness around me and I will push past the darkness to see it, this I know for sure.

Here's what else I know for sure (this week):

  • Chris Mann has the perfect voice for Christmas.  He's the new Bing. Seriously check him out.

His new CD is pretty amazing and feels a little like Christmas year round, click here to read a review of the CD Roads.

  • Hallmark has finally made it into the 21st century.  I LOVE this new commercial.  It's just all kinds of MMM-hmmm, especially for a words of affirmation junkie like myself.  Well done Hallmark.

  • I'm don't feel truly myself without being totally fake (my hair, people, I'm talking about my hair).

I look like getting my highlights is such serious business, it's so not.  Love my hairdresser/friend Gloria and hanging for a couple hours away from the kiddos--so fun.

  • Going to L.A., going to the Grammy Awards and winning a new car sounds amazing.  Right?  Um, you have a chance dude.   This contest is so easy, it takes five minutes and could change your life, or at least your year.  Click here to read more about entering this amazing contest.

  • My daughter Lucy's ability to get lost in a book ANYWHERE is just one of the 5 million things I love about her.
Right in the middle of the uber crowded store, people shopped around her, stepped over her and she kept right on reading.
  • Karmin + Christmas song= pure fun.  It looks a little bit like a Target ad, but I like Target ads.

  • Advent calendars aren't just for your kids.  For the past couple of years, I've been heading over to's fun and poignant online calendar.  Each day reveals a short quote and mini challenge described as "an easily doable but meaningful task to help you make the most of the Advent season." Click here to check it out.

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

If you'd like to subscribe to my blog and get each post emailed to you, click here.
All the pictures in this post were taken on Instagram.  Come play with me @jumpingwithmyfingerscrossed.
Oh yeah, and come follow me on Twitter @AngelaYBlood and check out my YouTube channel here.

I'm linking up today with my friend Greta from and her pal for the #iPPP link up.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rocking Out as a Family (Sponsored Post & Uber Cool Contest)

This post is brought to you by The New Santa Fe from Hyundai. Think your family rocks? Show us by uploading a photo of your family rocking out. Enter now for a chance to win great prizes.

This is the time of year when we reassess our values.  When we take a hard look at what's important to us and why.   

Sometimes I freak out because we can't afford to give our kids everything they want or what I think they need.  Because sometimes I am certain that my kids need to learn to play every sport and play every musical instrument and if they don't they're screwed.  Sometimes I get sucked into the idea that if my kid doesn't have his/her own iPad/iTouch/iPod than they won't make it in this world.

But then I come back to reality, usually after a long, reassuring talk with my level-headed husband.  I remember the things we are doing right, i.e. teaching our children about good manners, patience and responsibility.  I remember the values we believe to be very important, i.e. compassion and freedom of expression.  I remember the things I love about our family, i.e. our backyard baseball games, our traditions and our rocking out kitchen dances.

Rocking out has always been important to me.
When I was a kid I used to sing into a pretend microphone (my mom's old baton from her high school majorette days) on the fireplace hearth.  Some of my all-time favorites were: "Candle on the Water" from the Pete's Dragon soundtrack by the amazing Helen Reddy, "Gloria" by Laura Branigan and "Fame" by the amazing Irene Cara. (You are singing some of these classics in your head right now I know it and I love it.)

I choreographed dance numbers to Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" and produced sibling dance shows for our enthusiastic audience (my mom and dad).

Music, dancing and self-expression was a huge part of my growing up.  My house was always filled with music.  My parents sang in the car, danced in the kitchen and around the house.  It was....amazing.

Even when the music stopped for my parents, after their marriage ended, I kept dancing, singing and loving music.  

Passing on the love of rocking out.
Sometimes I think the greatest gift my parents gave me was their love of music and art and life.  Now that I have four kids of my own I get it.  I get the joy of sharing what you love.  Music and dancing is a huge part of our lives.

Some mornings, if the kids are looking a little sluggish at the breakfast table I blast a little old-school "Apache" from The Sugarhill Gang and we have an instant breakfast/before-school dance party.  We also rock out in the car on the way to school, or on our way anywhere.

Music and dancing allows people/kids to blow off steam, act nutty, have fun, get it all out.  It lets you head bang your anger, whip your hair back and forth Willow style, sing yourself silly, feel the beat, feel the rhythm, lose yourself, find yourself, express yourself.

We try to have Saturday Night Kitchen Dance Parties once a month.  They consist of mom or dad or oldest brother playing DJ on iTunes and rocking out.  Dad gets to show the kids how he wooed me by doing the Worm at the house party where we first met. (Saw that and knew he was a keeper right away).  Mom (me) gets to bust a move.  The kids get to go a little nuts and have fun rocking out.

Rocking out into the future.
So yeah, my kids don't have iPads/iTouches/iPods of their own.  But they do know every word of "Apache."  They also have an appreciation for creative expression.  Each child expresses it differently--one child dances everywhere from the kitchen to his flag football game; another child will only bob his head slightly but pays close attention to lyrics and rhythms; yet another child daydreams and creates stories to all the music in our house; and the baby simply soaks up the fun dancing in his underwear.

I hope they take their own interpretation of our rock out/dance party fun and carry it with them forever.  I hope they embrace who they are and keep on rocking out and expressing themselves.  

How does your family rock out?
Hyundai Santa Fe and Rolling Stone are looking for families who rock.  Upload a photo of your family rocking out along with a description of your fam (500 words or less), click here.  The prizes are pretty awesome.  You could win a photo shoot in Rolling Stone shot by an industry photographer, airfare, hotel and transportation to the 55th Grammy Awards and a fully tricked-out Hyundai Santa Fe custom rock 'n' roller.  Yup, that's pretty awesome.

It's seriously such an amazing contest and so easy....explain why your family is awesome and how you rock out.  Click here to enter. The contest ends December 14, so hurry and enter.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Small Boy

There are a lot of mysteries in the world.  Like how in the world can Dancing With the Stars still be pulling in such high ratings?  Or how one small little boy can wear me out.

Not just wear me out, but make me so tired my eyelids won't stay open.  So tired I walk around the house grunting like a pro tennis player with the smallest of chores.  So tired I want to stand in the middle of my kitchen and cry (okay I just did that).

When my older kids went back to school after the holiday break, I did a happy dance.  I thought it would be a breeze with only one child, baby Wade (age 3), at home.

Here's the happy child drop-off at the school car loop on Monday:

I promised not to complain until Christmas break.  And I'm not complaining, just trying to figure it all out.

It could have something to do with me getting old(er) and Wade being just a little bit rowdy.
Look at that smug smile, like he's saying "yeah, I broke the lamp behind me, what else you got?"
He's cute, he's funny.  He's got his own ideas.  He's my little buddy.  
But god dammit he wears me out. 

Check out what we did last weekend...we went to a really cool, big city right down the road: Detroit.  
Yes, Detroit.  And we had a blast.
Read about our family's mini adventure here:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pinterest Poser/Try It Tuesday Challenge Holiday Style

I look a little maniacal in this picture, which is how I feel during the holidays anyway so it works.

It's time again for the Pinterest Poser Challenge.  In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,* every week I  detail a new Pinterest challenge whether it be a new recipe or a craft.   
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.** 

This Tuesday I'm kicking off Pinterest Poser For the Holidays Four Weeks of Gift Ideas.  Or otherwise known as, four weeks of gift reveals for some of my favorite relatives.  Luckily, most of my relatives don't read this blog so they won't see the potentially crappy homemade gifts they will be getting.

The first gift idea comes from two separate pins.


And here:


So, I headed to the Dollar Store and bought a couple mugs and a plate, looked up some good quotes online and grabbed my trusty Sharpie.  

And I sat staring at the hardware.  I forgot I hate my handwriting.  Like seriously hate.


My handwriting sucks and I'm not very good at straight lines--walking in them, living in them or writing in them.

But oh hell, giving it my best shot is what this whole I'm not a poser exercise is all about.  So, here's what I ended up with...

And this:

And this:

Double Ugh.
Pinterest fail?  Quite possibly.

I baked them for 30 minutes in my oven set to 150 degrees. Ran them through the dishwasher to see if the whole baking thing really ensured the Sharpie wouldn't come off.  The baking worked, sort of, only a little bit of my god awful handwriting came off. I would reccomend hand washing the finished plates/mugs even after baking.

"Well they can't all be masterpieces," my sweet husband said reassuringly as he walked by my Sharpie-d messes.

Okay, the plate, I could live with.  I could even give as a gift to someone who loves me and accepts my inability to be a straight-line, neat-writing kind of gal.

This is an incredibly easy and awesome homemade gift idea for all you people with sweet handwriting.  So easy and personal.

Are you planning on making any gifts for people this holiday season?  Do tell.  Share your project ideas or gifts that you've made before in the comments.

Check out some of the other Pinterest Poser Challenge projects I've made in the last month:

Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here

The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here

Please share what you're working on in the comments here or over on Facebook.

Oh yeah, and come on over and follow my Pinterest boards too.

You can also find me on Twitter @AngelaYBlood and Instagram @JumpingWithMyFingersCrossed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Where To Start?

"Going anywhere for Thanksgiving?," someone asked me last week before the big holiday.

"Ugh, yes, my mother's," I said with an eye roll.  "I haven't seen in here in almost a year, should be fun," I added a bit flippantly.

The person (a nice, normal looking mom in the waiting room at Wade's speech therapy class) looked at me very seriously with wide innocent eyes and said "oh, I'm sorry, I can't imagine that."

"Oh, she's a little crazy and an addict and well, um, it's complicated," I said with a wave of my hand.  "What are your plans?," I quickly asked changing the focus.

I forget that not everyone can understand having a mother like mine.

This year, Thanksgiving was, Thanksgiving-y.  
Brothers and cousin.  Boys + giant leaf pile= fun (and leaves in their mouths, but they didn't seem to mind that much).
Only Lucy's plate looked like this.  Who doesn't eat turkey on Thanksgiving? Come on!

There was turkey and stuffing, football on TV (per tradition the Lions lost), cousins playing, pie.   It was, um, well, fine.  Which is a million times better than last year.

Last Thanksgiving was pretty hellish.  Right before we all sat down to eat dinner at my sister's house, my mother fell down the stairs and broke her neck (read the whole horrible story here).    The rest of the weekend last year was spent waiting in the hospital, trying to figure out all the details of a very complicated medical case that is my mother.

A lot of times writing about my mother, thinking about my mother or trying to explain my mother gets confusing.  Where do I start?  Do I go back and tell people about how she really was such a sweet, fun, loving mother when I was a little girl? Do I tell people what it was like as a teenager watching her heart break, her mind go manic and her body go heavy with the deepest, darkest depression?

Do I tell the stories about her her desperation for a connection to somebody, anybody?  How she used to pour her heart out to anyone who would listen, even the Encyclopedia salesperson that came to the door? Yes, people I am so old that salespeople, selling research manuals, actually went door to door.  Do I tell people how he looked like he would hand over his daily sales just to get the hell out of there?

Or do I tell people about the alcohol and drug addiction that she's battled for over 20 years?  Do I tell people that when she moved to California when I was 17 to marry someone she knew only a couple months (and didn't invite me or my siblings to the wedding) it was the best thing that ever happened to me?  I was 17 and on my own and able to break free of the negative spell she cast on me.  Free to discover that I wasn't the horrible, unintelligent, insensitive, slutty person she had me believing I was.

Maybe I should tell people that I'm not angry or bitter.  

I'm tired. My mother seemingly has more than nine lives. Accidents (cars, stairs, overdoses, etc.) don't stop her.  And just try to help her...she'll suck the life out of you.  That's what happened the last two years, when I went to her bedside when the the hospital or neighbor called.

I'm sad sometimes.  It's all a little overwhelming when I think about how full her life could be.  And even though I am almost 40, there are moments when I long for a mother.  A mother who could give me advice and unconditional love and make me feel stronger, better.

I'm not angry.  It is very hard to be angry or hateful about mental illness.  And my mother suffers from something mental, yet to be successfully diagnosed and treated however.  

Maybe I should tell people humor helps me cope.  Cope with all those accidents, the past and even a so called "normal" Thanksgiving-y Thanksgiving.

I mean it's a little funny that this year my mother was more interested in showing me her latest purchase (honestly a very cool hair dryer/brush in one, which I tried when she wasn't looking) from QVC than asking about how my kids are doing in school.  
Now playing, all the time, at my mother's house....QVC.

It's a little funny that she was lighting her cigarettes on the stove burner dropping ashes in the stuffing.  

I may not know where to start, but I know which way to go right now.  It may be hard for people to understand but since last Thanksgiving I had to set up boundaries--I had to make my own children and husband a priority over a mother who will never get better.  And it's okay, I get that not everyone will get it.

After spending the successful (meaning nobody fell or overdosed) holiday day, the rest of my weekend was spent at my house with those children and that husband I prioritized.

Movie nights--the silly slapstick in Home Alone 2 gets my kids laughing every time. I'm a little more like "eh, whatever Joe Pesci" but love to see and hear my kids laugh.

My husband wins the greatest dad EVAH award...he has some seriously good Barbie story lines (gets them all from the alternative high school where he is a principal).
A little make-believe never hurt ANYONE. Here's Lu in my old prom dress. 

The magic and fun of the first snow (snowball fight).
Hot cocoa in Santa cups is mandatory this time of year.
And moving on to the next holiday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dance I said, Dance, Dance And What I Know For Sure (This Week)

Um, I didn't like Knocked Up and never thought I would quote Judd Apatow, but damn I love what he said.
Wednesday morning I woke up inspired.  My brain wouldn't stop.  My ideas wouldn't stop.  I woke up and scribbled down my thoughts.  When my husband, Tim, woke up I told him the news.

"Honey, I wrote a poem," I said with the excitment of three cups of coffee before 7 a.m.  "It's beat poetry, I think you'll love it."

As I performed it for him, he stood there rubbing his eyes, convinced I had completely lost my mind.

"Um, well, I sound a lot cooler in my head," I told him after I was finished.

He smiled and said, "Honey, we all do."  
And then the he encouraged me to put it on YouTube.  Either he wants people to laugh at me or he is just all kinds of sweetly supportive and thinks creative expression is cool.  I wholeheartedly believe it's a little bit of both.

So, here it first attempt at beat poetry.  Here's a piece I call Dance I said, Dance, Dance.

Creative expression is vital, taking risks is invigorating and dancing is integral to a happy life, that is what I know for sure (this week).

Here's what else I know for sure (this week):

  • If there's a bright side to global warming, it would be warm November afternoons.  Afternoons perfect for family hikes.

Another album cover right?  They all look way too cool for this walk and this photo. Except maybe Tim, who wore sweatpants. What the hell?

  • My heart grew three sizes (Grinch style) just in time for Thanksgiving. Check it out:

  • Thanksgiving is over dude, it's all Merry F-ing Christmas from now until Dec. 26-ish.  My kids are already catalog shopping and Christmas list making.

  • Time is a funny thing.  If I'm posting this, it means that I survived Thanksgiving with my crazy mother. It means that time has moved on.  It means that I am trying to revel in the right now, this moment and find hapiness in it.

  • Instagram isn't dumb.  I've seen people in Facebook posts try to dumb down Instagram and I get so pissed.  Instagram is fun art.  It's creative expression.  It's a picture, a filter and a quote.  It's finding the right light, the right angle.  It's finding your inner photographer that you didn't even know was there.  It's brilliant.  All the pictures on this post were taken with the Instagram app.  Come play with me here:

  • They can't. They won't. They never will. Stop the party. Okay those are lyrics from PitBull.  What the f&#k did we ever do before Pitbull?  Here's his latest lyric video, because even though I love him the other video was way too racy.

Get funky. Now stop.

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.

I'm linking up today with my instagram/Blissdom/blogland friend Greta from and her pal for the #iPPP link up.