Insert Guilt Here

In a feeble attempt to wipe away memories of a certain football game, I spent the past hour or so wrapping Christmas presents. We're way ahead of ourselves this year with the shopping, in no small part thanks to the constant rain we've been having. If I can't put up lights, I figure we might as well do something Christmas-related

Alexis loves to "help" me with the wrapping. I suppose the fact that she has helped me wrap her own presents is going to take some of the surprise factor out of it all for her, but I refuse to care. I have the rest of her life to have to be sneaky with the gift buying and wrapping. Mostly she likes to help because she likes to paw and grope other people's presents. She's quite convinced that several packages that are clearly marked with other names are going to somehow end up permanently in her possession.

That is where the guilt sets in. We have not bought her a single thing for Christmas this year. Not a one. Sure, she has plenty of packages under the tree, maybe too many. But not a single one of them was an item that was bought just because of the holiday season. She has a Gap outfit that I bought last month because the jeans, sweater, and shirt were on clearance and cost a whopping $21 all together. I wouldn't have passed that by regardless of the circumstances. But since she's not currently hurting for clothes to wear, I tucked them away and declared them "Christmas." There is a pair of Dora pajamas that Daddy found on sale. When he tried to put them on her one night, I ripped them from his hands and called them "Christmas" as well. She's also got about ten books under the tree. Every single one of them was at TJ Maxx on clearance for $3-$4. I would have bought just as many of them in July as I did Thanksgiving weekend. I proceeded to hold them aside for gift-giving.

Probably her biggest gift is going to be a whole bunch of new Signing Time DVDs. If we're being honest, those are absolutely a gift for the adults in the house. As much as we love the all of the songs from the episodes she already owns, it's SO time for some new music. With a long car trip to Indianapolis in the near future, I guarantee I'll be busting those suckers out for the drive. She can happily stare at her portable DVD player along the way and we can enjoy the sounds of music we have never heard before. She'll be excited, but trust me, I'm more excited. They are brand new episodes that were just released on December 3rd. I would have bought them no matter what.

Notice the lack of actual toys? There is one doll under there, but only because it was on clearance for $7. Other than that, she's out of luck. No toys for Alexis. I'm mean like that.

The good news is that the girl has oodles of Grandparents that will likely come through for her in the toy department. If they don't, we'll be hitting the clearance racks and making sure she gets a toy-filled birthday next month. That is, after I go through all of her current toys and donate a few boxes of them to Goodwill. We do it every Christmas, and it's one tradition that doesn't make me feel guilty at all.

If you need a pick-me-up after that game like we do, go play this. Kicking Tom Brady's butt will make you feel a tiny bit better, I promise.



-- Geesh, people, all you want to talk about is the jeans. Well, here you go. Before you wander over to, make sure to note the fine detailing of the most perfect jeans ever made. Those little pocket flaps? Look good on all sizes of booty. The little bit of stretch? Not so much that the things are saggy and gross at the end of the day. Low rise? Yes, but not so much that you'll be competing with the plumber or the Best Crack Award. The dark color? Flattering! If anybody wants to throw a pair under the tree for little ol' me, make them a size 8 long.

-- I've officially decided that you haven't lived until you've gone Christmas shopping at the mall with a feisty Toddler. The adrenaline rush you get from the brisk pace, constant corralling, and fast decision-making kicks butt.

-- There will be no pictures of Alexis with Santa this year. When I asked, she enthusiastically said she wanted to see Santa. By that, she meant that she wanted to point from afar, smile, giggle, etc. But no way was she ever going to go past the five yard line. When I tried to walk in for the touchdown, her Daddy heard her screams all the way from the Steelers store. I found the whole thing to be exactly what I expected. The photographer seemed a bit weirded out by it, however. I guess some parents must force the issue. That's way too much drama for my liking.

-- A few of our nieces are big fans of Bratz. I personally despise the things and have permanently banned the dolls and all items bearing their images from our house. My dear husband didn't understand my vehement stance about them and thought we should consider some as Christmas gifts for the nieces. So we stopped to look at them in Target. His response when he saw them? "They're all dressed like hookers." Yes, honey, that is one of the reasons I don't like them. There's also this whole attitude thing that I just can't get in to. Ain't nobody getting any Bratz now.

-- One of these two is really enjoying the hugfest. The other one, notsomuch:


Maybe Someday I'll Let Her Help Take Down Santa

I was going to show y'all the cutest t-shirt EVAH but somebody got hungry while she was at school and thought she'd munch on an orange marker. She, uh, missed her mouth a few times (or something), so we'll have to save that until after Daddy washes it.

Anyhoo, before I picked up the kiddo, I was sitting at work getting drilled about my Christmas obsessions. It only took a few days for word to get out that I have a bit of a problem. I thought they figured it out because of the sparkly Christmas tree that I put up in my office, but actually it turned out to be because someone has seen our house. We live a whopping 2.8 miles from my new office (for those of you who are curious, the new job ROCKS! (so far)) and very near a neighborhood grocery store. You can see the Christmas sparklies from the grocery store parking lot, which I mentioned to someone. Another someone was picking up some bread and milk, figured they would wander across the street, and saw the sparklies for themselves.

I was horrified. We are a solid day away from finishing up the Christmas magic, so I was all sorts of embarrassed that anyone would be judging my skills based on so little actually being done. Apparently, my idea of "hardly any lights are up yet" is someone else's idea of "holy smokes, look at all those lights." And so the conversation went. At one point, someone asked me when this whole thing started. Were my parents crazy, too? Or, is this a new disease?

I didn't get it from my parents. My Dad enjoyed decorating outdoors when I was a kid, but I found the practice to be absolutely ridiculous given the whole -20 degrees in the dead of winter in North Dakota thing. In fact, I went out of my way to sabotage his decorating. When I was 10, my Dad sent me onto the roof (in January, people, in North Dakota) to help take down the four foot tall plastic Santa that was residing up there. I hated that Santa. I hated how tacky he looked. I hated the stupid tire that was used to weigh him down and keep him from blowing away. Mostly, I hated the stupid grin on his face. So I did what any self respecting 10-year old would do--I threw him off the roof. Guess what happens to cheap plastic when it's frozen to -20 degrees then thrown to the ground, one story below? Ka-blooey! (Shhh . . . don't tell my Dad. He still thinks it was an accidental death rather than a homicide.)

I think the disease first began to creep into my being when I lived in Spain. I spent my 17th Christmas there, immersed in a culture that does a much better job of remembering the true meaning of the season. I don't think it matters whether or not a person believes in the religious origins, you will have no choice but to be amazed by the parades, belens (incredibly detailed and often life-sized nativity scenes), foods, and celebrations. In my mind, there was just one thing missing--snow. It was a rough life I led at the time; I was on the Mediterranean coast suffering through 60 degree weather. I compensated for the lack of snow by cutting out dozens of paper snowflakes and hanging them from my bedroom ceiling (photos exist, but I couldn't tell you where they are). That was the first time I ever decorated for Christmas on my own accord.

I kept up my spiriting ways in college. I was the kid that had a tree in their dorm room, lights hanging from the ceiling, and made sure there were pretties in the hall. The Christmas that I spent working at Walt Disney World came complete with roommates that were a little crazy, too. We had an Itty-Bitty Christmas (you have to read that using the voice of Genie from Aladdin when he talks about the big, powerful genie and itty-bitty lamp). The three of us went to Target and bought the smallest trees we could find, decorated them all fancy, and set them in our living room window sill. Then we drug the whole complex into our apartment to see our Itty-Bitty Christmas. We were the only ones out of the 900+ college students there that had Christmas decorations in our apartment, and we made sure everybody knew it as we forced them to sing Christmas carols in our living room and pay homage to the Itty-Bitty display. (Why yes, we were awesome. Still are, if you ask me.)

Eventually I moved into an apartment of my very own and my boyfriend at the time was forced to come along for the ride. Ten years later, he's begrudgingly become my official light tester and roof decorator. But this year he's doing it with a smile because I have a new accomplice in my evil plans:

(Hey look--It's a rare Coal Kitty sighting!)