Archive | December, 2011

Um – that was a close one

28 Dec

So – marriage can be difficult, even in the best of times. It’s even more so when things are hard – and that’s where my husband and I found ourselves in 2011.

I want to acknowledge that tons of friends had a difficult year, be it because they lost a job, or lost a loved one – or simply had a difficult time financially. For us, the difficulties started with the  gang members, squatters, and knife-wielding neighbors at our beach condo, which created some challenging living conditions for our family. We went from a generally care-free “couple +1” to a tag-team obsessed only with protecting our children and getting the hell out of a dangerous situation. The stress alone was hard; seeing how it impacted my husband and our relationship was even harder.

That disaster lasted through September, when we finally moved to the suburbs. Still, the stress of having two properties – and a new baby – has been a tremendous financial burden for us. It’s hard to focus on your marriage when you’re focused on keeping the kids safe … and fed … and happy. It’s hard to healthfully deal with all of the emotions – from fear to anger (make that ‘rage’) – when you’re trying to be strong – and happy – for the kids.

(Though I do want to note that the birth of my gorgeous little chub-chub Rhett Lee this year was a blessing of epic proportions – no matter how bad the rest of the year has been.)

I guess my point is: I used to overlook anniversaries as nothing more than an opportunity for a romantic dinner or a night away from the kids. This year – for us – “Happy Anniversary” isn’t enough to capture the immense amount of work it took to keep our world on track. This was a year of survival – not thrive-al. The fact that we got through it has got to mean something. :)

There are things we could have done better. There are more things yet we need to learn. Like how to make more time for one another, even when it’s hectic. How to block out the difficult parts of life without letting them penetrate our relationship. How to make hard decisions more gracefully – together.

On this sixth year of marriage, we can celebrate that we’ve made it through “for worse.” Here’s to hoping 2012 brings along some “for better.”

xoxo

Randomly, a song that sums up my feelings for this “year in marriage.” A little sad, but still hopeful. (“A verse of hope there on that reel lets you know the way I feel …”)

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Christmas Lessons 2011

27 Dec

A few quick things I learned this past holiday, in no particular order.

1) 3-year-olds cannot take Communion. I learned this the hard way at Christmas Eve mass when I tried to take Blake through the Communion line, only to find that there are certain requirements one needs to fulfill before doing so. In my defense, I’m not Catholic, and Blake likes crackers. I was thinking no further than that. As I now understand:

First Communion is considered one of the holiest and most important occasions in a Roman Catholic’s life. It means that person has received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Most Catholic children receive their First Communion when they’re seven or eight years of age because this is considered the age of reason. Others can receive communion for the first time whenever they’ve met all the Church’s requirements.

Point taken. I will definitely keep that in mind next year.

2) Gifts should be given, not earned. I heard this one at the afore-mentioned Christmas Eve mass. And even though I got in trouble for requesting a wafer for my 3-year-old, I did very much appreciate the service message: When we tell kids that if they’re good, they will get a gift for Christmas, we’re missing the entire point of Christmas. Gifts are freely given, out of love, because someone wants to give them. They’re not things to use against people, or to win favors from them. Like – ever. Christmas or not.

3) Transformers are a mother-f@cking  pain in the @ss to put together. Yes, in theory, they rock. However – if you need to provide an 18-STEP how-to guide to help figure it out, there is definitely a problem. Especially when the box says “Ages 5+”

Something doesn't look right ... but I can't put my finger on it ...

4) I suck at “Christmas shopping.” It feels incredibly unnatural to me. I’m not a girl that likes to give gifts for no reason. On the other hand, if I see something that reminds me of someone, or I happen to be thinking of them, I’m apt to send a gift just to tell them so. So many of the “family” gifts we gave this year felt empty. We give you a gift card; you give us a gift card back. Is there really a purpose to that? Do we really need to exchange gift cards to know we care about each other? I’m rallying for choosing a gift for charity as a family next year. Let’s give to those who really need it and teach our children the purpose of the season (and life in general, actually).

5) One special present is enough. For real. When Blake opened his stocking (which we made – at home – for $0) he thought those little stocking stuffers were the only things he was getting. And he was happy with it. Which was a major sign that the Christmas gift craziness just isn’t necessary, at least in our family.

6) Fine jewelry comes in many different packages. This is the coolest thing B has ever given me. And I’m not even sure if he plans to let me keep it.

Fine jewelry, care of Blake Dean

7) I need to accept my in-laws for who they are. I’ve been doing Christmas with them for a decade. And every time I come here, I get frustrated with them because they aren’t the kind of people I want them to be. They’re not bad people. They’re just different people from the ones I grew up with. And I need to start accepting that. Christmas will be a lot less stressful for me if I do.

8) On that note: just a little reminder for the in-laws: His name is Rhett – not Brett! Please write it down if you need to!

9) It’s important to step away from the work for a bit. Even though I felt guilty neglecting emails and projects for a few days, it did me good to get out of the grind for a bit. Clearer head = better worker, and better mama all around.

10) It’s starting to feel more and more necessary to live closer to family. Blake lights up like a Christmas tree when he’s around his aunt and uncles. It’s starting to feel cruel to keep him (not to mention me!) away from more people to love. Southern California, I love you. But a girl needs her family too. TBC …

xoxo – merry christmas

Stuff it!

20 Dec

So – last night, Blake and I finally finished making his Christmas stocking, just in time for the holiday. To make the process more interesting (for him) we covered it with small patches of things he loves so that Santa would know what kinds of stocking stuffers to leave him. (I have a feeling this might become a new holiday tradition …)

Best part (for me): I found everything I needed (including white and red fleece!) in my remnant bin.

Best part (for Blake): That kid loves cutting up fabric with his “snippies”!

Total cost: $0!

Merry Christmas!

xoxo

With eyes like this (grrrrr) …

13 Dec

So – inspired by finding the Christmas list my mom saved for me when I was 3, I sat down with Blake Dean this morning to write out our very first letter to Santa.

Now – I must say – I’m not a fan of encouraging kids to make huge long lists of things they want, especially when they have everything they could possibly need. Thus, when the Christmas season came upon us this year, I explained to Blake that good boys get to pick one special present for themselves, and one special present for another little boy or girl.  I want him to know from a young age that giving gifts is as fun as getting them, and that it’s important to help those in need.

Regardless, today we sat down to make his list, and I was impressed that he did in fact list only one present, even though I asked numerous times if there was anything else he wanted to add.

In addition to selecting a present for another boy or girl who misses his mommy (that’s the way Blake refers to kids who are sad/in need), he also decided to ask for one for Baby Jesus, which was sweet. We’ll probably go with letting Blake donate an animal through Heifer International rather than the motorcycle thing … but the thought was definitely there.

When I re-read the list to Blake to make sure it was accurate, he told me “grrrr” was not a truly accurate depiction of the sound the robot’s eyes should make. Let’s hope Santa knows what he means. God knows I don’t!

Merry Christmas! Wishing all the other parents out there good luck in encouraging the wonder of the season, while also maintaining the reason behind it!

xoxo

[Review] 6th Annual Aimee Mann Christmas Show

11 Dec

So – Saturday, we had a chance to ditch the kids and head out to one of our fave L.A. holiday traditions – the Aimee Mann Christmas Show. We were lucky enough to hit the very first show at Malibu Performing Arts Center when we moved to Southern California. Super fond memories … although this year’s show wasn’t the best. (Sorry, Aimee!)

From the outset the show seemed promising. Aimee’s hilarious promo video won me over in a blink.


But maybe it set my expectations too high. From the moment she came out onstage, the show seemed doomed. It was slow, and confusing. I wasn’t sure which bits were supposed to be funny, and which ones were actually serious. Even the super-funny Paul F. Tompkins and Tim Heidecker couldn’t keep the show on track.

To be fair, I’m not sure the venue (The Wiltern)  was a good choice for her style of show. With a large space, it’s hard to be laid back and quirky – jokes get lost in the rafters even when things are properly timed. Subdued innuendo is difficult to see from shitty seats. (And btw, our seats were definitely shitty – even though they were $50+ each, we couldn’t see a damn thing over the people in front of us.)

However, I will say this: acoustics were great. Aimee’s duet with Michael Penn (Halelujah, I’m a Bum) is way worth a download. She also played some faves –  Deathly, Save Me, and a new song (Labrador) that she previewed up at Mountain Winery in August. (“But I came back for more … then you laughed in my face, and you rubbed it in …”)

I’m sorry to be harsh! I’m usually the nicest critic ever. If I love a singer, I generally walk out of their shows feeling like it was the “best show ever.” Not this time, Aimee! For a girl with two kids, $50 a ticket plus $60 for the babysitter = just not worth it.

Rating? 2.5 / 5.0 stars

Love you always regardless.

xoxo