Monday, December 30, 2013

Go Tackle Somebody

So Christmas happened.  
And now it's ov-ahhhhhh.  I'm sorry all of you Christmas lovers out there who are sad that the holly jolly season is done.  I feel a little bit like it's the last day of school.  The pressure is off.  It's too late to study and prepare.  The test has been taken and it is done.

Yeah, Christmas joy is the test in this metaphor. I think if I were to get a would be a B+.  I could've done better, budgeted more carefully, been more thoughtful, sung a few more Fa-la-las, created a few more traditions.  But it wasn't as bad I stressed and worried it would be.

Money was tight.  Money is always tight.  Tim broke the news that I had to make a choice the week before Christmas--either get my roots done or buy the kids Christmas presents.  What a dick.  Just kidding, sort of.  It was a tough decision (just kidding, sort of), but ultimately I sacrificed my hair for my kids just like Jo in Little Women (well, sort of).

I took my two-toned hair, and my family, to church on Christmas Eve for the annual pageant.  The pageant where we usually take up half the roles.  I sat out this year.  The rest of my family played the roles of Roman soldiers (Tim, JT & Wade), an Angel of the Lord (Lucy) and a Wise Man (Peyton).  It actually worked out to be pretty damn good casting.
Not sure if Roman soldiers had tattoos and batting gloves, but JT thought they made him look like more of a tough soldier.
I agree, it did up the badass-ness of his church costume.
Wade waiting backstage to make his Christmas Eve pageant debut.  Well, he was Jesus a few years ago, but he didn't do much for that role.
They look like a girl group--Angels of the Lord.
The whole cast.  Notice Wade in the left corner just about to reach for a little hay.  I was honestly hoping he would throw some around just to shake it up a bit. 
Everyone knew this would happen eventually.  Everyone.

The kids held it together pretty well, but then Wade went a little nuts after the show.  But come on, it was Christmas Eve and he was soooo excited, so of course he had to tackle someone. Duh. I was relieved it was his fellow soldier, his brother.

After the pageant, it was off to Christmas Eve at Grandma's.

"We come bearing over-excited, rowdy kids," I announced as we walked in the door with our extremely loud gaggle.

Then it was all matching PJs, cousins, dinner, storytelling, presents and all sorts of excitement and sweetness.

Fast forward to Christmas morning.  I was nervous that maybe Santa sucked at our house.  I was worried that it wouldn't be enough, that it wouldn't be magical, that it wouldn't be believable.  Let's face it, my hair is expensive but it really doesn't go a long way when buying Christmas presents for four kids.  Three out of four of those kids believe that Santa and his elves can make ANYTHING happen.  That's a lot of pressure.

But I should have known, I should have trusted and remembered what I always preach--kids don't need a lot of things, they need time and love and stories and moments and attention and more love.  

The kids went shopping for each other at the Dollar Store a few days before Christmas.  It's a tradition we started when the kids were very little.  I promise you, they were more excited to give and get those gifts than the presents from Santa.  The game they played with most was the checkers game JT bought for Lucy for one dollar.

The one Santa gift no one could stop talking about however was the phone that Peyton got.  The phone that I didn't know had Internet on it.  The phone that I was pissed at Santa about.  But it sure did bring a lot of joy.
Merry syncing. 
Tim tried to take a nap on Christmas day.  Ha, ha, ha.

Wade's favorite gift was a Doc McStuffins doctor kit and doll.  I love that this kid can kick the crap out of a 9-year-old but has no problem carrying around a purple glittery doctor bag.

Time for a check up.

December 26th is officially "Go To Pittsburgh Day" in our house.  We roadtripped our Christmas-y selves to more family celebrations, more toys, more excitement, more stories, more food and more fun.
A million and five army guys= Wade's little piece of heaven.

They are reading the Great Brain series right now and loving it.

Wade doesn't really look like my baby Wade here and it is freaking me out a little.
A new football tradition was born this past week because quite simply, my boys can't go one week without playing it.

All of these "big kids" (otherwise known as dads and uncles) were pretty sore the next day.

The kids didn't get a pony or a trip to the Bahamas from Santa, but they got a whole hell of a lot of love and attention.  Looking back, maybe I'll give myself a better A-?  

While it was all pretty damn good, I'm still glad it's done.  January is almost here.  A month full of absolutely zero expectations and no holidays that involve buying presents, um it's my time to shine folks.  I'm so excited I might just go tackle somebody.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rolling Eyes, Throwing Punches & Dancing-- Merry Christmas 2013

I stopped mailing Christmas cards last year.  It wasn't something I decided to do, it just sort of happened.  I'm actually not getting very many Christmas cards anymore either.  One of my theories about why some of us aren't sending out as many or any cards around the holidays is because we all loved showing off our babies.  Oh look, there's my cute little baby with Santa.  Awwww, here's my adorable toddler kissing my new baby by the Christmas tree.  Those were fun cards to send.  Now, I'm not so sure people want to see pictures of my surly preteens by the Christmas tree.  They are still really good looking kids, but it is challenging to catch the older ones smiling in between eye rolls.  
Oh wait, this shot is pretty good.  They are all sort of smiling.
But of course, a photo shoot usually ends up in some sort of mayhem.
 Wait for it...
Of course, the baby Wade throws the first punch.  (He is truly one tough kid, watch out Pre-K.)
Mayhem.  But it's my mayhem and I love them with every fiber of my being, even when they are rolling eyes and throwing punches.

For fun, I started doing those little dance videos.  The kids loved watching the videos over and over and over.  Then it just sort of happened again, I stopped doing them.

But we didn't stop dancing. Duh.
So, I thought for this year's Christmas card/video, I'd put together a mash up of some of my favorite dance clips from 2013 and put them to my favorite song from 1985.   As far as dance-y years go, this one wasn't the danciest.  Parts of this year looked like the sad little town in Footloose where dancing was outlawed (before Kevin Bacon liberated them).  Slowly, I am getting my groove back and I have high hopes for 2014 to be one of the danciest years yet.  

Check us out:

Annnnnnd Merry Christmas!  
Hope you are somewhere dancing your heart out because just like Midnight Star sings in the video, it's so easy and so right.  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snow Meditation, What I Know For Sure & #iPPP

The other night I was reading a book to Wade.  It was a book I hadn't read in a while, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  As I read the quiet, simple book I started to feel something.  "Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow," I read.  It was poetry.  It was meditation.  It was quiet.  It was calm. What I was feeling was my shoulders relax and my mind stop racing.

Wade asked me to read it three times.  I did.  Each time I read it, my voice was quiet and I concentrated on each word carefully.  I think he needed the calm, be-in-the-moment, shoulders relaxing, mind-stop-racing kind of feeling too.
I mean it's been a crazy couple weeks.  Mostly all good, but just nuts.  Jesus had a birthday party at church, breakfast with Santa, concerts, family visiting, crafts, memories to make, trees to cut down, good times to be had, specials to watch, parties to plan, parties to attend, all the regular homework, practices, work, running around here and there and everywhere.

And a lot of us have ended up like this:
Can't get much cuter in my opinion.
And I don't even like animals.

And this:
This was on the way to his big brother's class party.  

Being busy isn't anything new to our family, probably not yours either.  But holiday busy is a whole other kind of busy.  

The other morning I sat on the front porch stalking watching Peyton's middle school bus pull away (I know it's dumb but I feel better watching the bus pull away, that doesn't make me a helicopter type mom does it?), I sat for a few extra minutes.  Snow was falling.  The world was quiet and dark and beautiful.  I could hear the muffled sounds of cartoons and little kid laughter coming from the living room window behind me.  Off in the distance there was a sound like a quiet ocean.  It was really a thousand commuters speeding carefully on the slick roads to work somewhere.  Normally not such a beautiful sound, but in that moment it was sort of magical.  My shoulders relaxed.  My mind stopped racing.  I was calm.
My snowy, dark porch.
Of course, moments later I was racing around like a mad woman getting lunches made for the other kids and finding snow pants and matching gloves and boots and hats and maybe cursing wintertime just a little.  BUT I'll always have my morning meditative moment and that means something.

It's not the first time I have looked to a children's book for meditative inspiration.  Books that I originally thought were sort of boring--as life got busier I rediscovered the meditative powers Good Night Moon too (I wrote about it in a post creatively named "Good Night Moon Doesn't Suck."). 

What I'm trying to say is...calm down, people.  I know it's busy right now, but just breathe, relax your shoulders and maybe pick up a children's book and meditate for a minute, even if there are no children around.  It's good to take a break, especially during this crazy, busy, sort of nuts holiday season, I know that for sure right now.

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

  • My favorite Christmas jam this week has been old school Otis Redding.  The divas are amazing, but dayum, Otis is amazing too.

  • Watching your kid go it alone is hard.  Lucy was totally prepared for her holiday piano recital this week, but I was still a little bit of a wreck inside watching her go up on the little stage alone.  It might as well have been Carnegie Hall.  There was a lump in my throat--proud of her and hoping she felt happy.

  • I don't mind looking like an ass on YouTube.  This week I sang a Christmas song and linked up with Mama Kat's Vlogging Prompts.  Check it out:

  • Meryl Streep is my hero.  I already knew that, but I know it even better this week.  She stars as a crazy, southern, mean, drug-addicted mother in the new movie August: Osage County. Ahem, sound like anyone you know (or have read about here on this blog)?  The more I learned about the character, I was worried it might be a little too close to home.  But after watching Meryl talk about her character on The View this week, I am definitely going to see it.  She said she had a wonderful mother but she chose to do the movie for a friend who didn't have a great mother.  Her friend encouraged her to take the role for all the girls who "clawed their way past those people who told them they were nothing and you'll never be anything." Oh holy shit, Meryl, are you kidding me? I look forward to seeing this movie and as one of those girls, I say thank you.

  • It's almost showtime.  The Christmas pageant is happening Christmas Eve and my whole family has roles, except for me.  This year I get to watch Lucy be an angel, Peyton be a wise man and JT, Tim and Wade be Roman soldiers. 

  • I can't not laugh at autocorrect fails.  It's impossible.  They are like the new America's Funniest Home Videos, which I also never could not laugh while watching.  I dare you to click on this link and not laugh at least once.

  • What time is it? According to my boys, it's always football time.  Rain or shine or snow, it's football time.  Only have fifteen minutes before you have to go somewhere? No problem, it's football time.  "One more play, mom, just one more play," my boys can be heard saying any time I tell them it's time to stop playing. And I'm not complaining.  I love that they love to play outside.
The little kid in the Santa hat is indeed my youngest, Wade. Smack dab in the middle of the action.

What do you know for sure (this week)?  C'mon, we're friends, share what you know. 

Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Please come play with me on Instagram @jumpingwithmyfingerscrossed

I'm linking up today with my friends Greta from and Robin from for the #iPPP link up.  They host a link up where they encourage people to share "your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite photos of the week" from our phones. 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Christmas Season Vision

This season has gone fast.  I've only done a handful of things I wanted to do.  I half-assed the Advent calendar.  Didn't watch the holiday specials I usually watch.  After forgetting to include one of my children's name on last year's Christmas cards and not noticing it until Lucy asked "why didn't you put JT's name on the card?," I gave up on Christmas cards all together.

There's all that, but Christmas is still a little less than a week away.   There's still time for a throw-open-the-shutters type of holiday morning moment.  Or a heart growing three sizes experience.  It ain't over yet.

However, when I try to invoke that Christmas-y feeling and do holiday-ish activities, it doesn't work out exactly like I envisioned.

"Can I stop making cookies? I want to go play war," said my only daughter.

I guess this does look a little more fun.

The kids are getting older and asking a lot more questions about everything...Santa, elves, "snowdeer" as Wade calls them (get it, instead of Raindeer?)...

"I'd rather have the sex talk," Tim said shaking his head.  He really doesn't want to reveal his betrayal to the kids that haven't figured it all out yet.  Especially to Lucy who still believes with her whole heart in all the magic.  

When we sit down to read a Christmas book or watch a holiday show, it ultimately turns into wrestle mania with the boys.  One of them always gets hurt or mad, always.  And then none of them can figure out why I scream strongly suggest "no more wrestling or hitting or kicking or jumping on each other's heads especially at Christmas!"

"You're not a woman!," Wade screamed at JT the other night as we read a chapter from one of my our favorite Christmas books, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Wade yells this "insult" at his brothers (or anyone) when he's mad at them.  We have no idea why or where he got it.  I don't think he got it watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  I mean he's a really confused kid anyway.  He calls his hips his nipples.  I'm not sure where he got that either. I'll address these things after all the Christmas madness is over.

It hasn't looked or sounded exactly like I imagined it in my perfect snow-globe kind of vision. But it truly is a wonderful life with these weird little confused, violent, but oh-so-cute beings I call my family.  

And it ain't over.  There's still a few more days to live the Christmas season dream.

Did you see my version of Feliz Navidad on my latest vlog?  Yeah, that didn't sound exactly like it did in my head either, but here it is anyway.  Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The One Where I Sing On YouTube (again) & Linking Up With Mama Kat

I really haven't done any Christmas shopping yet.  I am the worst.  Crafting and baking and Fa-la-la-ing? I'm all over that.  Christmas traditions? Yup, got that too. But alas, my aversion to shopping and budgeting gets me every Christmas.  
Source: Click here for some last minute gift ideas too (found this on Pinterest).

Speaking of Fa-la-la-ing, I linked up with MamaKat's Vlogging Prompts this week to sing a favorite Christmas song.  And I wasn't even drunk when I made this video.  Yup.  Check it out.

(If you are an email subscriber, click here to watch.)

And check out the hilarious Mama Kat.

Speaking of Mariah Carey, here's my favorite holiday song from the Christmas Diva:

Speaking of divas, I can't not put a song up from the beloved Whitney Houston:

And since I referenced the Mandrell sisters in my video, this post wouldn't be complete without a video highlighting their amazing-ness.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Holiday Statement, A Pinterest Poser Challenge

I've decided I sort of need crafting like I need running and writing...I need it to survive.  Yeah, that's right I just said if I can't craft I will die.  It might be a slight exaggeration.  I mean, I'd live if I couldn't ModPodge or write in my journal or run a couple miles.  I think.  But I am happier and better when I get it all out of my head and my heart and my mind.

So the other night when I felt a little overwhelmed with issues and problems and worries that I have absolutely no control over whatsoever, I searched for a craft I could make while watching heartwarming Christmas specials with my kids.  I was inspired by something I pinned and got to work.

For this week's Pinterest Poser Challenge,* I made a DIY Holiday Statement Shirt.

*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every Tuesday-ish 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.**

Part of the fun of this project was to figure out what kind of holiday statement I wanted to make.  
Some ideas the kids and I came up with were:
I Believe
Merry and Bright
Holly Jolly

I decided I wanted to go with a message that actually transcends Christmas.  A message of calmness that I need year round, but especially at Christmas.

Peace, Joy, Love

While the kids and I watched The Polar Express, I cut and painted.

My supplies included:
Plain white T-shirt from Michael's around $5
Contact paper from Home Depot around $7
Fabric paint (I chose black/grey) from Michael's around $3
Scissors, paint brush from my kitchen drawer.

I wrote the words on the contact paper and then cut them out.
I placed the outline of the words on the T-shirt as a stencil and started painting.  (Don't forget to put a towel inside of the shirt so the paint doesn't bleed through.)

I let the paint dry.  

Then I threw on a red sweater/jacket and wore my kickass Christmas statement T-shirt to church the next morning.  Spreading Peace, Love and Joy everywhere I went.

I plan to dress it up with a sequins jacket for an upcoming holiday party.

It's not a perfect project.  And yes, I probably would have lived without making it.  But making a shirt about peace, love and joy brought me peace, love and joy.  And it was fun, easy and cheap.  In a season of Christmas sweaters and similar holiday dresses/shirts/outfits from Old Navy or Ann Taylor or wherever ladies shop nowadays, I like standing out in my imperfect holiday statement shirt.

Have you made anything on Pinterest lately? Any holiday projects?
 Any statements you've made? Share what worked and what didn't, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.
Come on over and follow my Pinterest boards too.

Here are some of the projects I've already attempted, the good and the bad:

Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here
Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here
Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowersclick here
Earth Day CupcakesClick here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Funclick here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
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

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