Category Archives: Holidays

6 Weeks Postpartum: The View from Out Here

It has been too long since I’ve written for you, my friends.  I think you have forgiven me, considering I gave birth, missed a holiday, spent some time in a NICU, had a birthday, tried to establish a routine with my tiny and my toddler, cut down a tree, decorated for Christmas, had four Christmases, and then missed the New Year because we were fighting so hard to stay awake and got sucked into a movie.  Yeah, the grand life of a SAHM with two under 3!

Six Weeks and My Brain is Full

Since the birth of our son, I keep thinking of these great blog post ideas:

    • My birth story, take 2

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    • Breastfeeding, pumping, and milk storage

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    • Handling a newborn while potty-training a toddler

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    • The trick to getting enough sleep
    • What life is like in the NICU

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    • Handling the holidays with a tiny and a toddler

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  • Handling the holidays when your in-laws live Right. On. Top. Of. You.

Since the birth of our son, I have found that when I do have time to write these awesome blog posts, I just don’t want to.  I want to snuggle with him and read a book.  And finally finish that second cup of coffee that I’ve reheated a bajillion times.
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New Year’s Resolution

I will come back to you, my readers.  I resolve to write more and nitpick my writing less.  I resolve to let it all out in effort to fulfill my promise when I started this blog:  to share what I’ve learned on my thoughtfully sought path through life in order to help others learn how they, too, can embrace all there is to offer while keeping healthy and sane.

I resolve to build this blog!

After I take a nap…

 

I Survived! … This Round (Surviving the Holidays, pt. 4)

New year, new you?

I don’t think New Year’s resolutions are a good idea. When making goals to change for the better, one ought to have an end date in mind…not a start date. If you’re serious about changing something, you start then and there. You don’t wait for the start of a new year.

Plus, as you watch your friends and coworkers start then fail all around you, you’ll start doubting yourself, too. Start NOW with an end date in mind; not the other way around.

What I need to change

I swear. A lot. Like a drunken Irish sailor. I’m an intelligent, educated individual who only makes to demean herself when I talk like I’m trash. I need to stop, for many reasons. The most obvious of these it’s that my toddler says, “Shit,” whenever she drops something; the least obvious to everyone else is the damage to my soul.

I mean that literally. I take the Lord’s name in vain frequently and colorfully. It needs to stop before I spend eternity burning in Hell because of something I’ve got complete control over. I’m the one who made it a habit, and I’m the one who must break it.

Getting to the point

I do not make New Year’s resolutions. If I did, I would have failed before breakfast on January 1st. I must gradually build up to the end of my swearing, and I need a date in mind to accomplish this by.

I firmly believe that in order for one to accomplish her goals, she needs clear steps and deadlines as well as the most support she can gather.

You really want to change? Tell everyone: your spouse, your friends, your coworkers, everyone. You don’t have to ask them to hold you accountable; they don’t ever need to say or do anything. Just you knowing they know you have a goal will be enough for your subconscious to kick your conscious self when you step out of line.

Of course, it is helpful if everyone you tell does say or do something to keep you in check. It would be nice for me if every time I say a curse word, I’m given a look. Not a verbal warning, though, because that would just piss me off.

The root

Maybe instead of attempting to change the problem behavior, I first should look at the root of it. I have a bit of a temper and almost no patience. My anger-managing skills are severely lacking. The root of my swearing is in part the habit I’ve developed but mainly in how I deal with stressors in my life.

Well, isn’t this cathartic

I applaud you for recognizing where in your life you need to change, whether it be your diet or marriage or career. Set a date by which to achieve your goals rather than a date you’ll start working towards them. You’re more likely to get to your destination that way.

Might I recommend a book? The Path by Laurie Beth Jones was a not just a helpful guide for me but also a major eye-opener. You don’t have to be religious or even a believer in anything (although Jones is strong in her faith and wrote Jesus, CEO) for this book to help you take steps on your own path to knowing yourself, setting goals, and achieving a better and more focused life.

I might need to reread The Path soon. Or at least review my notes. If I’m not focused on my path, then I’m not working towards my goals, which leads to a lack of patience and understanding with myself and those I love, taking me back to my old, nasty habits of bringing me down… And cussing like a drunken Irish sailor as I fall.

Note: No disrespect intended towards the Irish nor any sailors. But drunks don’t deserve respect… They swear too much. 😉

Her Second Christmas (Surviving the Holidays, pt. 3)

Her second Christmas

Sippy Cup

Angel Baby received only a handful of Stuff from Santa, and everything fit in her regular-sized stocking. Seriously.

The first present in the stocking was an upgraded sippy cup, more for a big girl, with a twirly straw. She got a brush and comb set with Minnie Mouse. She got five pretty barrettes. There was a slinky repackaged and wrapped because she’d snagged it off a shelf at Target and had it opened before I caught on. Thank goodness it was $1!

That. Was. It. She’s 18 months, for cripe’s sake! What more does she need!? There was no way the grandparents, aunts, and uncles were not going to buy her Stuff. She isn’t in need of anything. And to be a total douche about it, she isn’t going to remember what she got from whom on this particular gift-giving occasion. Heck, she didn’t remember this morning that she didn’t like eggs yesterday so ended up eating the leftovers… And enjoyed them!

Angel Baby loved unwrapping everything. I mean everything; it didn’t matter whose gift it was or if it was just a decoration. Her joy on Christmas was from tearing paper. Her favorite gift: The big girl sippy cup. The pictures from Christmas are mostly her with that cup or in a toy wagon she received for her birthday… Something she’s been playing with since July.

Clareberry Christmas

Ok, sorry, back on point:

I overheard a conversation between the BHE and someone unmentioned. This someone asked about what Angel Baby got from Santa (re: The BHE and I). He replied with the short list of Stuff and sounded proud that all of it fit in her stocking. The one with the query sounded incensed and demanded to know how Angel Baby was going to learn about Christmas if those were the only gifts she got to unwrap.

Deep. Breathing.

Sadly, meditative visualization doesn’t work for me with my ridiculously vivid imagination and propensity towards unrealistic violence. Like, after hearing that statement about my daughter learning about Christmas, I was picturing my fully decorated tree as a javelin, piercing this idiot in the eye.

Grateful

I loved seeing what everyone got Angel Baby. I loved watching her reactions. I am so thankful to everyone who made her holidays bright. Were she older, she would verbalize her appreciation as well as she it in her actions. I won’t raise her to be ungrateful. Like her mother.

Ok, let me rephrase. I’m not ungrateful. I love it all. But the best part wasn’t the Stuff. The best part was watching her dance at my aunt’s. The best part was seeing her play with her two older cousins, rough-&-tumble boys who are around 10. The best part was witnessing the exploratory play she quietly engaged in at her great-grandparents’ house when my grandmother brought out my father’s toys.

Wood toys

Yep. Wooden. Chipped primary colors. Squeaky springs. Those things were purchased in the early 1950s, made in America out of natural products, and did not require batteries. (Please, keep comments about lead paint to yourself.)

Almost to 2015

It was a great year. One that went too fast, watching my baby grow into a little girl. I feel like I didn’t see enough of all those I love.

I’m grateful for the Stuff we received. I know a lot of heart and thought went into it. Thank you to everyone who did spend time and money on gifts for the BHE, Angel Baby, and myself. Know that the best gifts received this holiday were the ones of love, friendship, time, and joy.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Cramming It All In (Surviving the Holidays series, pt. 2)

People think I’m crazy.  I hear it every time I mention our yearly Christmas party… and what happened at the previous ones.

The first was in 2011; it fell on my 29th birthday.  (Legit, 29; not like I’m trying to avoid 30.)  We had owned our house for about a year-and-a-half, all 3500+ square feet of it.  That night, we turned our creepy-ass basement into a bar to rival your favorite pub.  We had over 70 guests come out for the craziness and at least 30 crash overnight.  It was a party to remember!  Except, well, I couldn’t.  There’s an ugly rumor that I had to take a nap prior to the start of the party because I’d gotten overly schnockered with the early arriving guests.  That ugly rumor is true.

Twenty-Nine and Full of Wine

Twenty-Nine, Full of Wine

My house was trashed.  One darling overnight guest had a fit in the morning over the “disgusting PIGS” that had trampled through my kitchen.  She was trying to tidy the mess so it wouldn’t be overwhelming for me.  Luckily, I have friends like that.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

See, crazy-huge-drunk-as-a-skunk-in-the-snow holiday parties sound like a nightmare to many people.  Well, those who might be hosting.  Guests tend to think these things are darn good ideas!  As I host, I do as well.  Again, people think I’m crazy.

It is all about learning how to smile.  So many people get wrapped up the stress of the holidays, the pressure to buy the best gifts and cook the best dinner and have the best decorations and make sure Every. Single. Person is the happiest they could possibly be because you are the best.

Get over yourself.  You aren’t the best because you can’t be.  You’re human.  You can be your best but not if you’re distressed over every last little detail for the solid month (at minimum) that covers “the holidays.”

Why on earth do three or four days (for us:  Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve) have to take up a solid month?  Thanks for asking.  I’ll address that here.  See, the BHE and I are both children of divorced parents.  We both have siblings.  My paternal grandparents are still living.  He has coworkers he considers friends, and I have friends from two former jobs.  Also, I still have a relationship with my ex-stepfather.  Don’t forget our friends, his friends, and my friends; that’s three different but sometimes overlapping groups.  Gah!  That means we have many people, many families, many locales, and many miles to travel to cover everyone we love.

Dammit all, Crammit all!

Or we host a great big shindig at our house and hope to see them all in one fell swoop.  (Or, should I say, swell foop?)

“Why, Sarah?  Why on earth would you invite over 70 people into your home?  What are you thinking?  And how could you do it year after year?”

Ahem.  Please reread the opening line of this post.

Now you’re wondering how in the world one couple hosts such a large party every year.  And now they have a toddler.  And only one income!  Well, my friends, keep reading.

Learning How to Smile

The first rule of party-throwing is that you must LET IT GO.  Whatever preconceived notions you have are wrong.  Whatever idyllic scene you have in your mind is so far from reality that you really ought to stop thinking and start drinking.  This isn’t a movie.  This is life.  You aren’t reading a Victorian novel.  This is life.  You can’t have the perfectly decorated tree, the gorgeous spread of beautifully displayed homemade food, the children who smile up until bedtime when they quietly shuffle off to their beds, the guests who wipe their feet at the door… nope.  Can’t have it.  This is life.

You have to learn to let go of what you really want at the same time you have to let go of the responsibilities and stressors that come along with party-throwing.  Realistically, you cannot do it all.  I tried that once.  I like to refer to that attempt as My Wedding.  Let’s discuss THAT another time, shall we?

My "ugh" face, ready for more wine

My “ugh” face, ready for more wine

Back on track here, you want to throw an awesome party that you enjoy so you must recognize that you cannot have negative stressors—you can’t be under distress.  Not only will you not enjoy the fruits of your labors, your guests will see and feel your stress and either (a) feel guilty for attending a party whereby making you work harder or (b) feel like your sour-puss behavior ruined said party and wonder why you threw it in the first place.

Here’s what I have learned:

You cannot do it all.  Look around and decide what it is you must do.  This is typically shit you do anyway:  vacuum the rugs, dust the mantle, put up your tree and maybe other decorations, make the beds (but with guests in mind), and wipe the toilet seats.

I use vinegar water (1:1) to clean everything as it is a natural disintectant.

I use vinegar water (1:1) to clean everything as it is a natural disinfectant.

Send out invites as cheaply as possible.  One year, since we send out a Christmas card to everyone we know each holiday season, I included little strips of red and green paper that had basic party info on it:  date, time, location, BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything:  drink, mug*, bedding, clothes, toiletries, maybe your favorite coffee creamer, etc).  The money was being spent on the photocards and postage anyway. This year, I created a Facebook “event” and also sent out a mass email since not everyone we know is on FB.  For those who aren’t online at all?  I bet you never even thought of this:  We call them!  Of course, that’s like all of three people, but whatevs.

Make it clear you are not providing food and drinks.  Yep, you read that right.  Go ahead, read it again.  This isn’t a full-service gala at the Ritz or whatever.  This is a big ass party at your house.  Hell, it is YOUR HOUSE.  You have to clean before AND AFTER.  Yes, we have had to use a floor squeegee for the “after” a couple times.  This is a big deal.  Your guests know this and appreciate this.  It isn’t so far out of bounds to ask them to bring drinks to share or a casserole or a bag of chips or a cooler of “drink ice” or plastic cups or paper plates or even toilet paper.  It really is ok to ask for these things.  Almost all of your invitees will agree this is totally acceptable hosting behavior.  Those that don’t can suck it.

Enlist your besties to come early and stay late.  I had two lovely ladies show up two days before our first party not only to decorate BUT WITH DECORATIONS.  I shit you not; they brought the decorations and hung them.  I just had to take them down and return them later.  Every party we’ve ever thrown has included a clean-up bit.  People naturally pick up after themselves (particularly in the light of day).  Those who don’t stay overnight get out of it, but those who are here for breakfast automatically chip in.  They gather trash, sweep the main areas, rinse bottles and cans, etc.  Our second Christmas party included various bins for separating recyclables… and people did!  Don’t underestimate your friends.

Choose to enjoy your holidays!  Try to recognize your stressors and eliminate the ones you are in control of.  You can’t control the weather.  You can control your reaction to it.  You can’t control the mud and slush getting tracked into your house.  You can remember that your floors are meant to be walked on and will be cleaned in good time.  All in good time.  Deep breath!

Merry Christmas!

Borrowed from http://www.frammentiarte.it/. Google Image Search terms "Hogarth+tavern"

Borrowed from http://www.frammentiarte.it/.
Google Image Search terms “Hogarth+tavern”

*mug= The majority of our friends tend to go to all social gatherings with an 18th-century-style ceramic or pewter mug.  See, the largest portion of our social circle is from the group of people with whom we reenact.  THAT is a series of posts in and of itself, so stay tuned to Thoughtfully Sought to learn more about our crazy lifestyle and the strange steps we take on this path through life.