Twelve four-five-six Twenty Twenty

Let's recap the weekend.

Starting on Friday:

Esperanza landed on Mac's school desk, in a jar so she could be easily moved. Smart move on her part. Mac as excited that she could show Esperanza to her school friends on zoom. However, she was very concerned that Esperanza couldn't spell. I told her I don't think there is a strong emphasis on spelling at the North Pole. 

I picked up with "Who-ville" Tree at Sprouts on Friday. I got one last year, and we let it die, because that's what happens to most plants in this house. Friday's advent activity was to watch Christmas movies with lost of snacks and blankets. We chose Home Alone 2 and hot chocolate. I even followed the recipe on the back of the cocoa box because I was out of instant. It wasn't all that hard, and I impressed my thirteen year old and myself. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how good Home Alone 2 was, sequels usually don't hold up. 

Saturday Recap:

Esperanza got a hold of The Who-ville Tree. Doesn't she know how precious toilet paper is during this pandemic. The kids thought this was hilarious, and that it was very possible that Esperanza brought us a roll from the North Pole. The cute countdown is a Target Dollar Spot find that my friend Heidi picked up for me. It was only five bucks!

Our advent activity was to make paper snowflakes, the girls did while I ran errands. They were just as messy as I remember and no one was really happy with how they turned out. I think my girls are perfectionists like their mother, so if they weren't perfect they went in the trash.

Sunday recap:

Esperanza challenged the girls to a drawing contest. They took it very serious, and they did a fantastic job. I wish I could draw as well as they do. Also, with Esperanza sitting in a bowl, we were able to move her around as we wished. That came in handy as the girls helped me wrap Christmas gifts. My wrapping has never been this ahead of schedule. Now, before I continue let me say, I had to let go. I had to let go of the "perfectly" wrapped gift, and let them help. Honestly, the paper gets torn to hell anyway. This is the first year I just said yes, sure, wrap that gift with more paper than is needed. It's 2020, if I've learned anything this crazy year, it's to let people help me when I need it. 

Sunday's advent activity was to have breakfast for dinner so we had eggs and hash browns. It was simple and easy and everyone was happy. 

I also did six loads of laundry on Sunday, and folded and put them away. Well I had help putting them away, but still. I'm tired.

Happy Monday, 

Twelve Three Twenty Twenty

Esperanza made her way to my bookcase, and brought a friend. This friend, a plush mini elf was hanging on a tree on the opposite side of the house. Well played Esperanza. This picture also shows off some of my favorite books and my Funko Pop figure of Elf on the Shelf. There was a time when I bought everything Elf on the Shelf related. I used to blog four to five times a week then too. 

Today's "service" advent was, "Do one of your sister's chores". Groans all around, but they made it work. Their rooms are clean, and their school stations organized. I can't complain. 

Yesterday, our advent activity was to read books to each other. Mac read Jolly Postman, Caitlin read Crayons, and I read Santa Mouse. Did we use funny voices and create our own endings? Of course we did.  Was it time well spent with zero screens? Yes! I love so many things about Christmas, but I think Christmas books brings real magic. As a kid I always loved reading about other traditions and foods. I can remember reading Santa Mouse for the first time and insisting that we leave out cheese with the cookies on Christmas Eve. I have a shelf full of Christmas books, for kids and grown ups, and love returning to old favorites every year.

Today was my last zoom for the screenwriting class I took this semester, and I am a little heartbroken. I've been wanting to take a screenwriting class for years, but I could never find one I could really afford or attend. Many of them happen in other parts of the world. Lucky for me, I discovered one at my local my community college, and I knew I would regret it if I didn't sign up. My professor was fantastic, the guest speakers were amazing (Hello, Bruce Gilbert who produced 9 to 5!), and I wrote act one of a full length feature. To be honest, Act 1 is only about 25 pages, but even after years of creative writing it was still challenging to write. I can say that the payoff was amazing. When my class workshopped and did a cold reading of the script, they laughed at all the right places. It was bliss.

Twenty Twenty has been weird and isolating and sad at times, but taking this class really helped me focus on other things. I actually had a place to be and deadlines to meet. I'm sad that I won't see those people on a regular basis, but I did sign up for the playwriting class for the spring. Flexing my writing muscles in ways I haven't before is one of my favorite things. For now, I'm sitting with the success of writing an Act 1, getting it workshopped, revising it, and turning it in. It may never go farther than the "submit assignment" box to my professor, but I did it. 


Twelve Two Twenty Twenty

Esperanza landed by our"sanitizing" station. Our stockings also happen to hang here as well. Just a friendly reminder to wash your hands and sanitize. I have yet to figure out how to make her a mask, so maybe that's something I can look into. Today's advent is to pick a Christmas book and read it out loud. Mac picked Jolly Postman Christmas, Caitlin picked The Day the Crayons Quit Christmas, and I picked Santa Mouse, because I've loved that book since I was a kid. 

Yesterday, our advent activity was to send 3 cards to friends we missed. I ended up sending six cards. Is there anything better than getting a card or a letter in the mail? I've always loved getting mail, especially when it's not your birthday or a holiday. Getting a card or letter is a reminder that someone thought of you, in such a way that take pen to paper and sign their name. I love that.   

It's also my Grandma GG's 87th birthday. We won't get to celebrate because of Covid, but we are dropping her gift off after dinner. Covid makes everything weird, but after nine months it kinda feels the same. 

I hope you all are in good spirits and good health. I'm off to do some online shopping. Which roughly translates to me buying stuff for myself and hiding it. 

Merry everything, 

Twelve - One - Twenty Twenty


What a strange and wild ride twenty twenty has been. Didn't we have such high hopes for a new year and decade. I did. Then I didn't. Twenty twenty has been so much about survival. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. I've done so much writing and reflecting, most of which I have kept to myself. With the end of the year just one month away, I thought I'd try something different. For many of us, we have been home. Work from home, school from home, life at home. It hasn't been a terrible experience for my family. I'll admit, leading up to March 2020 we were already looking forward to lazy days of summer because of our already over extended schedules. When the world (or maybe it was just California) shut down, I for one welcomed it. Of course I didn't realize that two weeks would turn into, what is it now, nine months?

Here we are, with thirty days left. This story that I'm going to share with you is going to happen in real time. Maybe not every day, but I'm hoping to stop here in this space and let you know how we are trying to recapture some much needed magic. 

A few weeks ago, Mackenzie, age 10, started asking about our Elf, Esperanza. We have two elves, if you remember Buddy, and for the last few years, both elves have been living a life of luxury since we broke the cardinal rule and touched them. When my girls were little, they viewed the elves as part of our family and Christmas decor. When they started school they soon realized that our elves were the minority. Imagine their surprise when their friends told them that Elves were NOT TO BE TOUCHED!

Back to Mackenzie and Esperanza. 

Esperanza was gifted to us from Grandma Linda. Grandma bought the last available girl Elf and her book happened to be in Spanish. Hence the name, Esperanza, which mean Hope. Esperanza was never magical and didn't bring gifts or do fun things. I would tell the girls that the elves were here to take a vacation from Santa's workshop and it was up to us to show them love and let them relax. And it worked, until this year.

Last week Mackenzie wrote a very impassioned letter to Santa, pleading for Esperanza's magic to return. In the letter she let Santa know that she understood that Buddy was too old for such fun, but Esperanza needed her magic back. My heart broke for a number of reasons but two really stood out. 

One, this kid, despite the TikToks and James Charles videos, still believes in the magic of Christmas. Two, if there was ever a time for Christmas Magic, this is the year. We could all use some magic as we close this tumultuous and distanced year. I got to work. I made a calendar, and even followed the fun up with an activity advent of things that weren't too strenuous, but involved the entire family. We have been cooped up in this house for months, but honestly most of the time we are on devices, we all in the same room and all on phones or iPads.

Yesterday, Mac sprinkled cinnamon on Esperanza and put her on a high shelf so the cats wouldn't interfere with her return. We did a little research and cinnamon is the vitamin C of the Magic Elf world. We went to bed early and guess what?

We woke up to Esperanza, delivered special to this curtain rod, ready to fill this house with magic. Also today's activity is to choose three friends we miss and send them Christmas cards. After they sign out of virtual school we will get to work. Would you believe I have stamps and everything? 


Hello Thirteen

My oldest daughter turns 13 tomorrow. 

How that happened I cannot say, one day she was a toddler and then I was dropping her off at middle school last August. In the blink of an eye is an understatement.

I've been thinking about this day thirteen years ago when I was forty pounds heavier with swollen ankles and an endless supply of rocky road ice cream. Thirteen years ago it was a Monday night, and I was ten days past my due date. It was torturous as I had already had one induction cancelled, and my sweet doctor looked at me with sympathetic eyes that Monday morning and said, "Everything looks great. Baby is just comfortable and not ready to leave the nest". Sure it was good news to know we weren't in distress, but also could I please have my baby because she was supposed to be born almost ten days ago? I went home from that appointment with strict orders from my doctor to wake up at six the next morning, head to the ER and tell them my "water broke", because they would have to check, and then when they called my doctor, he said he would come over and break my water. Typing it makes it sound like something out of a slapstick comedy, but the local hospital had been hit with a baby boom and I wasn't emergent. 

John and I went home. I made my nest on the couch, complaining of lower abdominal pain, that the doctor had earlier assured me was "pressure from the baby". I lounged on the couch eating ice cream and watching tv and the clock. Six a.m. couldn't get here fast enough. 

Then it was six the next morning and I was silently crying because holy shit I was about to become a mother. At some point on this day, this baby was going to be outside of my body, and I would be in charge of another life. I felt like there should have been a test for that. 

Long story short, that pressure in my abdominal area, those were labor pains and even though my water had yet to break, my contractions were eight minutes apart. I honestly had no idea. Approximately ten hours later, Caitlin made her debut. 

I'd like to say it was mushy and Instagram worthy, but to be honest it was an out of body experience. I felt like I was watching someone else be simultaneously over joyed and scared out of their damn mind. I was a mother, but also I wanted my mother, because who was going to raise this baby? Oh yeah, me.

If you have been a guest here for any amount of time in the past, you know that motherhood was no easy task for me. I worked and fought really hard to become a solid mother. Not the best and not the worst, but some balance in the middle that prays my daughters future heath care plans include coverage for therapy. Motherhood for me didn't feel natural, and it took me a long time to figure out what motherhood looked like for me. Thank God Facebook was in its infancy and Instagram had yet to be birthed, because I was already comparing myself to other mothers in real life. Who knows if I could have survived the mommy wars over social media.

Thirteen years later, I am an adolescent mother. 

I'm also going through an awkward and gawky phase. I finally figured out how to mother small children, and now I'm trying to figure out how to navigate teenagers. Adolescence is a transitional phase where a person grows and develops from a child to an adult. I didn't know that parents will do this too. I'm now trying to find my space in between TikTok videos and Instagram filters. I'm now told which photos I can posts and which I cannot. I'm required to be the expert on acne and body odor, but I'm not allowed to make recommendations on such things. Shorts are getting shorter, bathing suits have extra lining, and holy crap we have a stash of "woman supplies". I'm also transitioning and learning how to discipline mini adults who think they know more than me. I've turned into both my mother and my father as I've caught myself saying, "I've been alive 42 years, don't you think I know more about this than you". Not my finest moments, but seriously. I've been alive 42 years, I had the worst acne that required prescription drugs, I know what to put on your face and it's not that stuff you saw on TikTok!

I've always known the dynamics of motherhood. In the beginning it seemed like an endless loop. Early motherhood was like a scene from Groundhog's Day, where you just do the same feeding, diapering, and sleeping for days on end. Then one day you wake up and they don't like that binky or bottle. One day they wake up and they can crawl or walk or feed themselves. They grow and so do you, but nothing ever really prepares you for the day they don't need to cling to your body like a wet t-shirt. Nothing prepares you for the day they don't want to hold your hand in Target. The day they don't want to change in front of you. The day they absolutely do not want you to dance to that song on Spotify because how embarrassing

Recently the transition from having a child to having a teenager looks like stolen moments. For Caitlin and I its laughing at memes before bed. Memes that maybe she shouldn't laugh at, but the kid has got a wicked sense of humor. It looks like secret trips to Starbucks where sometimes she treats me to a drink because I'm driving. Mom I'll buy your Starbucks if you drive. Our transition into adolescence looks like the two of us realizing that neither one of us is perfect and maybe neither one of us has all the answers. It looks like the two of us realizing that none of that means we don't love each other so fiercely that it hurts sometimes. Now that we are thirteen we can say those things to each other, planting better roots as we grow. 

Thirteen is awfully close to fifteen which is awfully close to other teens that I cannot discuss because I'm not emotionally prepared in any way at this time. What I wouldn't give to be up at 4 am with that tiny, sliver, of a human. That little slice of heaven who kept me up until sunrise, who never wanted to sleep, who confused me and made me second guess every single move I made. I'd do it all over again and not change a thing. I sometimes wish I wouldn't have rolled my eyes when people said that it happens so fast. I didn't understand in those wee morning hours that once the days were gone, they were gone. I used to think that it would be so much easier when she was just a little bigger. Big enough for solids. Big enough to walk and talk. Big enough to feed herself. Big enough to... grow up before my eyes. Just one more thing that I could not control as a mother. Once I gave up trying to control every aspect of motherhood I was finally able to enjoy it. Thank God for that. 

Let me tell you how much control I don't have. We ate dinner at 8:45 tonight after a late swim at my moms. The girls are now watching make up tutorials on YouTube and I'm writing this. We will most likely stay up late and I'll set my alarm to go to Starbucks in my pajamas to get the birthday girl her favorite. Her gifts are not wrapped, the house isn't decorated let alone clean, and I still have to make her cake. This is my evolution you guys, this is how I learned to enjoy motherhood. 

Twelve years ago on the eve of Caitlin's first birthday I was prepping food and making sure I had enough balloons. I had her clothes all laid out, the cutest dress, which she took off twenty minutes into the party to run around in the sprinkler in her diaper. Best laid plans let me tell you. Tomorrow will be filled with as much birthday as you can expect in a pandemic. Curbside order at Chik-Fil-A; homemade cake, a parade of cars in our front yard. 

It will be as exactly as motherhood intended. 

Unorganized. Messy. Imperfectly full of love. 

I just wish I could tell that laboring mom on the couch thirteen years ago.

She kind of needed to know.