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The Truth About Santa

After my last post (unintentionally) bashing Santa’s helper elf, I felt it important to clarify my feelings about Santa.

That I know he’s real. And his heart is huge. And, while he (and his non-shelf elfs) create toys – that’s not the biggest importance of his magical, mystical figure.

I couldn’t quite find the words.

So, per usual, I borrowed them.

This letter is the truth of it, and what I will (and have) told all my children whom I adore more than I adore myself.

Just read it. It’s worth your 5 minutes. It’ll continue down the stories that we tell our children and those that we love — forever, in infamy.

Such a great letter, full of so much truth.

Share it with everyone, please. They all deserve to know.

The Truth About Santa:

http://www.cozi.com/live-simply/truth-about-santa

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December First (AKA: That Creepy Fucking Elf)

Today’s Huffington Parents’ Blog post totally describes my family. Kathryn is freaked (the fuck) out by this little dude. And even though we never did the “Chauncey reports back to Santa” bit, even my little Susan (who loves everyone) was freaked out by this random creature in her home “watching” her. (No, seriously. This child anthropormorphizes everything on this planet….even leaves. And by that I mean every leaf. Every. Single. Leaf.) So the fact that this elf was acutely, astutely watching her. (I mean, if he’s not playing with me, what else could he possibly be doing….Mama? MAMA?) And then she (repeatedly) verbalizes: “Why is this elf in our house on the bookshelf? That’s not his SEEEEEEEEEAT” said my pragmatic, intelligent, impatient Susan….

Maybe if I had actually done the entire “return demonstration behavior” thing with Chauncey (you know – he’s Santa’s ‘helper’: every day he goes back and tells Santa if you’ve been bad or good, if you touch him he looses his magic, etc.) Maybe if we’d done that with him (why is this elf always a male, by the way?) it might have made more sense to my daughter(s).

(However, that entire concept is never going to work for our family. We, personally {and honestly, no judgments to any other parents who choose to do what they believe in and works for their family} don’t do the whole “Santa brings gifts only if you’re good” thing. I’m sorry, maybe I’m an annoying “stupid liberal” hippy, but we don’t really find that scaring my kids into being good because some magic being who can fly through the sky one night a year might have the gifts you (really, really, really)  want in his magic sky-vehicle. One of the primary reasons that I can’t follow through with this “myth” is because it would become my (ahemcoughonlycoughahem) go-to parenting tool. Starting some time around, ya know, March or so of every year……

In my family, we just have a hard time teaching our children at ages 2 and 5 (and yes, we also had a hard time at the ages of 2 and fetus, and also as teenagers with the older two) that some “mystical being” will provide my children with material rewards for behaving well. And let’s be honest here, Santa is a “myth” even though I believe in the Spirit of Santa whole-fucking-heartedly. 

I just want them to love others and be full of joy and be kind this time of year, with the hope that the spirit of Santa and Christmas will trickle down to their thoughts and actions and feelings (especially towards others) throughout the entire year. And yes, I do fucking get that we all get paychecks (AKA: ‘material rewards’) for work (and our behavior there and whatnot determines if we get to continue to reap that monetary compensation….yaddah yaddah yaddah   **COUGH** shut the fuck up). And yes. I agree. On some level. Christmas isn’t about that, though. It’s not a quid-pro-quo situation where you fulfill “x” and then are rewarded with “y”.

My husband and I also feel as though Christmas is about so much more than just rewards in return for the appropriate behavior. Christmas should be about being a good person who simply has a loving heart…..just because you should. No, even more than that. Not because you ‘should’ but because you CAN. Because you are able to do so. Just because there are other human beings out there whom you would like to spread joy and love with. There are people who could use a hand during the horrible five minutes of their life at this time of year – this time of year that should be celebratory. Just because you could do a good thing – with absolutely no expectation of reward or compensation – you chose to. Those are the kinds of messages that I want to bestow on my children during this time of year. Anyone can reach out to another living, breathing, loving entity who happens to be living simultaneouslyAnd it’s much easier to do it (or teach it) when there are twinkly lights in your periphery, the smell of cinnamon in the air, and the sound of Salvation Army bells ringing in your ear –  it’s easier to teach this lesson at Christmas-time. To enjoy it at Christmas-time. To know it in your cynical adult heart at Christmas-time. And I truly hope that that feeling carries with my children thoughout the year becuase, frankly, you can’t embody that every minute of every day. You have to take advantage of the popcorn stringing and Miracle on 34th Street to warm their hearts and teach them about the magic that is selfless love of other people. So, yes, I (and my husband) absolutely hope to ingrain this in the minds of our very, very, very young children during this magical time of year. We do this in the hope that it will be branded in their (loving) souls forever. (And also because we are suckers for the swelling music of shows like Charlie Brown Christmas and it reminds us how we’ve been falling short up until this point this year….)

Okay, okay, okay. I apologize. I feel I may have digressed, a bit.

Ultimately, I just want my kids to be grateful for and believe in the magic of Christmas — just for the sake of Christmas. I want our elf to be kind of a sort of kindness elf concept (http://theimaginationtree.com/2013/11/alternative-elf-on-shelf-tradition-kindness-elf-kindness-elves.html) – and our children to just decide to do good, kind-hearted things just for the sake of doing them.

I am not judging other parents for whom the Elf on the Shelf works. I don’t know what daily struggles you deal with. I also don’t know what lessons you are teaching your children. I certainly don’t know what beliefs you hold in your heart. I certainly don’t mean to insinuate that everything I just typed in the last three (and-a-half) sentences means you are “less-than”.

Okay.

I’ve lost my point.

This post started about that creepy (to me. And to my daughters…..okay, probably our entire family) Elf on the Shelf and has morphed into a post about how I just want everyone to take this time of year to recognize that we can all love one another and reach out to help those in need….not because we have to or because we  should… but just because that’s truly what our heart of hearts wants to do.

You know…the right thing???

Okay, before all my distracted typing I just wanted to share this post, from one realistic parent living with their realistic children to another.

I mean, it is the Christmas season. (Oh, and my birthday, too in four days!!!!)

PS — Aside from my inane rambling: this is a well-written, awesome, articulate blog post that truly hits home what it’s like to be a Mama that wants to be “that Mama”……but just has to acclimate to the genes she’s been birthed, whether she likes it or not.

Read, and enjoy.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tabatha-kammann/why-we-finally-gave-up-on-the-elf-on-the-shelf_b_6202268.html

It’s December 1st. Happy X-mas season.

XXOO

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Mulch

So, my littlest baby girl had to have surgery when she was just barely 12 months old. She had a very, very, very rare birth defect that caused her belly button to explode with exudate (AKA: pus) all over my close friend Rane in the middle of Susan’s co-op preschool class for which I was (obviously) volunteering as the assistant.

Poor baby Kathryn then had every. single. complication. imaginable.

This is the story of bath time one night very shortly after the aforementioned surgery:

I had been instructed by her surgeon that warm compresses and baths were acceptable, as long as the surgical site (her bellybutton) was not completely submerged in the bath water.

So, I’m preparing a warm compress (AKA: soaking a clean wash rag) to help cleanse and soak her surgical site (belly button). I begin to wipe the baby’s belly. She giggles. (SO CUTE!) I hold the warm compress against her belly button, per the surgeon’s instructions. The pus and gunk easily slides off her adorable, recently sliced open, abdomen.

And there’s a bit of white gunk on it. I use the warm compress rag to attempt to wipe it off. I am unsuccessful. So I use the rag to try and pinch it and pull it off her belly so it’s nice and clean and shiny.

The baby screams.

I feel resistance.

I start. Woah, what the fuck?

I decide it’s probably just some super crusted on pus around her surgical site. (Kathryn has been known to be super sensitive about these kinds of things.)

So I try again.

She screams. Again.

My husband asks me if “everything’s okay in there?”

NO! Everything is not okay!!!

I realize that what I am trying to pull off of my daughter’s abdomen is internal suture from her surgical procedure. It’s basically white stitches that are not where (THEFUCK) they are supposed to be!

Fuck.

I take a deep breath and have to focus myself and pretend this is not my kid. (It’s the only way my previously full time emergency medicine brain can not flip out. Scott deals with spiders. I deal with this.)

So I leave the bathroom – my husband is in the room with the 12 month old baby girl and the 3 year old girl in the bathtub. I run out and call Children’s Hospital (lying that I’m a practitioner to get through more quickly, of course….). I am being intense on the phone about my daughter’s dehissance that is clearly occurring post surgically, etc etc etc.

I talk and talk and talk and get an appointment and instructions and a prescription from the PA on the phone (there is still pus, people!). I ask incredibly specific questions (nurses are the worst patients) about what to do in a plethora of circumstances.

Right as I’m hanging up the phone my husband starts hollering. “Oh! Shit! No. Mari?!! Can you come here?!!!!”

So I run into the bathroom, expecting my baby girl to be bleeding all over creation.

I look into the tub and am instantly confused.

“Scott?” I ask. “Who threw mulch into the bath water?”

Because that’s clearly what has happened. My two baby girls are sitting in a tub full of what has now obviously become mulch water.

“No, no, no. Help me get them out. Right now.

He rarely speaks in this tone, so I follow directions.

Susan starts screaming “I WANTED TO PLAY IN THE WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-TEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!”

Scott snags Susan out of the much-filled tub (I already have baby Kathryn wrapped in a towel in my arms).

“NO.” He informs her. “You may not play in shit.”

Shit? I think.

Oooooh.

Shit.

Kathryn is on a metric ton of antibiotics, which cause her stool to be absolutely disgusting. (To be fair – her autoimmune disorder has made her shit almost never solid most of her entire life — this has just complicated matters.)

Usually this adorable baby defecates in her diaper. Not in the bathtub.

Actually, I don’t think any of our four children have ever shat in the tub…….at any point in our entire combined 21 years of parenting.

I drain the tub. All the while laughing at myself for wondering who the fuck thought it was a good idea to throw huge handfuls of mulch into my bathtub while my children are gaily splashing around in it? That’s really what you thought was going on.

Mulch.

Mulch in my bathtub.

It’s obviously not mulch. My baby girl has had antibiotic induced diarrhea in a tub full of water. Which – if you were ever wondering – looks exactly like chunks of mulch floating in water.

I swear, I can’t make this shit up. (See what I did there?)

Luckily she’s cute.

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Dog Farts

I have wanted a dog my entire 32 (nearly 33!) years on this planet. For a million reasons I was never able to get one. I am quite the dog person. I finally decided (and told my husband very explicitly) that my terms were this: I will be getting a dog when we own our own home and all of my children are out of diapers.

So, while living with my mother (in her basement, (because: toxic mold) where we were so very grateful {and super cramped}) the babiest of the Griders was begging (and begging and begging and beggingto “use the potty” and “wear unnie-pants” (yes, that phrase is as cute as you can possibly imagine) like her big sister. Repetedly. Add this to the fact that the (nearly) five year old cloth diapers started to leak on a regular basis…so I decided that since I was dealing with wet pants anyway that I might as well try (for the third time since Kathryn was 18 months of age) to potty train her. She magically got potty trained in about 4 days at 22 months of age! I should throw a celebratory party. Just a few weeks later than this milestone we settled on our very first home.

I then decided that the house needed to be unpacked and the few non negotiable things that needed to be taken care of in the new home needed to be cared for first and then, finally, finally, fucking finally, I could adopt a dog. (We had an external door that was broken, and an HVAC system that decided to crap the FUCK out before the ink was dry on our first-time-home-buyer settlement papers, a broken disposal/dishwasher and a few other ‘minor’ but necessary things). We moved in July 22nd (after a crazy, no-holds-barred weekend of “dear god we must wash every wall, scrub every counter top, scourge every toilet, suds every baseboard, have every. single. carpet. professionally cleaned, every air duct professionally blown out, and at the end of it all paint. every. single. wall. in. the. entire. house {while completing all of this in under 48 hours})”. I would like to point out that I fucking rule, goddamnit, and I got this crazy list of this shit done WITH TWO SMALL CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE following me most of the time (but I must give a shout out to the Duffy/Orem/Haas/Chicca clan for taking the Grider Girls for 12+ of these daytime hours, and also praise the Hall/Lederer/Eason/Rohrbaugh/Grider group of people who helped with the actual chores — I am so grateful for the people that helped me complete this motherfucking insanity).

So I finished all of the aforementioned craziness. And then I needed the big things in my “first time homeowner list” completed before I added more (AKA: a 66 pound dog) to my life. Then I went to the local “pound”. They have fantastic guidelines – which ensure that animals that are adopted from their facilities end up living in homes where they will stay and not be kicked to the curb over a small slight. I respect and understand that as an animal health care professional. Particularly as a previous emergency/general practice veterinary technician I completely understand the need for people who ‘get’ the importance and responsibilities that are involved with being a pet owner.

But, as a person who really, really wanted a dog I was impatient and frustrated at the process! (Because I’m still the 5 year old that wants a puppy, okay??).

We looked at a total of seven dogs.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Seven.

My entire family came to see three of them. (They have this guideline that your entire family needs to be present and meet the new family member. Really, I do agree with this. It just gets hard on the fifth or sixth time, that’s all…..)

It was such a (fucking annoying goodamned long) process.

I just WANT A DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOG, I’ve been waiting soooooo LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG.

(Yes, shut the fuck up. I know I sound like a goddamned six year old. I don’t care. I felt like a six year old who was STILL BEING denied something that she was really, really, really desiring. And deserved. And could HANDLE. And…and….and….and………where’s my puppy….?)

And we finally got approved to keep a gorgeous, chill, sweet, perfect dog. She was just over one year of age, spayed, vaccinated, microchipped and her adoption fee was PREpaid! (I did not know this until we’d already decided to bring her home – I swear!)

She came home mid-August. We renamed her Juno. (Her previous name was Sasha – uck. Who names a doggy Sasha?!!) And she had such a rough life previously. She’d been a stray that had been adopted from the same pound with a new family with kids – for a whole week. Clearly a week is long enough to determine that this dog is awful and I must return her because she is awful and just a terrible per.

However:

I adore her.

I love her.

I want to be the best (doggy/step/biological) mother ever.

And I am getting there. I have so many skills and so much patience and a ton of experience.

We’ve worked so long with her and her behavioral problems (she’s got severe separation anxiety – because of course I would adopt a dog that will bloody her nose if I leave her in her crate for more than 30 minutes….) and after a long period of patience and love, she is acclimating to our family nicely.

I adore this dog. She snuggles with me in bed.

When I cry over the fact that my mental health is deteriorating (fodder for another post) she licks my tears.

She curls up at my feet when I’m watching the Gilmore Girls (YES I know I’m over a decade behind. Hush).

And she farts.

I feel like “farts” is just so completely inadequate to depict the situation of which I am describing.

My husband and I choke in the miasma that emanates from the rear end of my adorable pup. Almost daily. Some times half a dozen times daily.

It’s beyond awful.

No, really.

I’m not exaggerating.

Seriously. One night a few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night – around 3am or so (this awful shit always happens sometime between 1:30 and 4am).

My master bedroom smelled like shit. Literally like shit. I woke up with the taste of poop in my mouth.

I then spent a good 20 – 30 minutes searching the upper level of my house for shit. I was wondering if my baby girl had shat her diaper, or if my first born had decided it would be a good idea to shit in our master bathroom and not flush (this is not an uncommon occurrence in my home, frankly). I searched the crate at the foot of my bed – maybe my new pup decided to cement how very much she hates that metal contraption…?

No poop. I could find no feces anywhere.

I was unable to locate the source of the shit smell that had been so incredibly fetid and rancid that it awoke me from a deep, dead sleep. (If you don’t know me personally then you do not understand how significant this is. I never, ever awake from sleep unless there’s a screaming child that my husband has not already attended to. Or, occasionally, I might be awoken because I need to vomit into (and by ‘into’ I mean somewhere around or leading to the room in which the toilet is housed).

So, now that we’ve clarified the (very, very, very) few (and absolutely far between) things that would wake me from a deep sleep: I then went back to sleep.  (DUDE! It was like 2:30am!) Once I was aware that my daughters were not sleeping in or rolling around on shit and that I would not awake in a slimy mud puddle of poop early in the morning I decided to go (the fuck) back to (my favorite thing ever ever ever EVER ever ever EVER EVER) sleep.

The next morning I said to my hubby: “DUDE. I woke up sometime during the night to what I swear was poop in our room. It honestly smelled like there was poop in our bed!”

He informed me: “Yes. There was poop smell in our room. Our dog was farting,”

Farts? You mean the nasty, poop-in-my-mouth, wake me up from a dead sleep and search my house, smell was a 66 pound animal breaking wind?

Yes, he tells me. Repeatedly.

I think he’s full of shit.

But I feel as though I must tell those of you who are reading my blog that during the 23ish minutes I’ve been typing up this I’ve been resisting the urge to vomit. Why, you ask?

Because of dog farts.

My beautiful, soft coated, sweet, kind, chill pup – she farts like she’s trying to kill someone who is attempting to drown her most recent litter of puppies. With a method of gas that required a mask…..

doggie farts.

Seriously.

I wish I had “Parenting, Illustrated by Crappy Pictures” sitting next to me to demonstrate what it’s like to sit on my couch typing on my laptop in the general vicinity of my television….living in a cloud of death. There should be photos in the PigPen cloud that surrounds me. Complete with flies. Flies that are dying mid-air because of the stench.

Oh, my. I swear that I love this pup. Really, I do.

But why the fuck did I choose a dog (who I swear I love, after thirty two years of waiting for a dog) who farts like a motherfucker – she farts almost as though she wants to kill me.

I’m choking just writing this.

But she’s supremely beautiful and loving.

And smelly.

So. Fucking. Smelly.

Poop-smell-in-your-mouth-that-causes-you-to-wake-up-from-a-dead-sleep smelly.

However, seeing her completely covered in stickers (that my 2 year old placed on her only moments after my 5 year old finished attempting to ride her – I stopped her, calm down) just reminds me why I put up with the fucking god awful dog farts.

a

Dog farts.

I’m going to live with the miasma of dog farts for the rest of my life, aren’t I?

It’s a good thing I drink a lot of wine…….

The wine almost helps to make me forget the smell. Almost.