2016 total: $2706.45


Bah. Humbug.

If I were to paint a portrait of my inbox, it would portray piles and piles and piles of papers stacked haphazardly from the floor all the way to the ceiling. That is to say, I'm way behind. I have big dreams of catching up over the Thanksgiving break, but for now, I'm just treading water.

Somehow as I was doggy paddling through email today, I happened to notice a new message purporting to be from PayPal. I gave it a quick once over and thought it to be a phishing scam, but a few words from the email tugged at my soul. I figured it wouldn't hurt to log into the PayPal account in question, just in case.

What I found was that the email was real. I won't bother to copy and paste the whole thing here, but if you read between the lines, basically it says, "Somebody reported that Christmas Crazy is a scam, so now you are going to have to jump through 23523 flaming hoops. If you don't, we're going to shut down your account in six days."

I've had a few hours to stop being angry that someone would be so ridiculous as to potentially keep kids from having the Christmas we've worked to put together. Perhaps it was someone who desperately needs attention. Perhaps it is someone who hates the sparkle and joy of the holidays. Perhaps it's someone who has something against me. Perhaps it's somebody who just has too much time on their hands.


Regardless, there isn't anything I can do to fix whatever it is that person needs. I've posted plenty of photos showing piles of gift cards that were sent to Alle-Kiski HOPE Center and The Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, as well as photos of the mountains of toys which made their way to Toys for Tots. Literally millions of people have heard mention of me showing up for Stuff-a-Bus with enough toys to fill half a bus. Plenty of people were generous enough to help with the shopping and delivery and saw it all with their own eyes.


To keep PayPal from cancelling the account, I'll be photocopying receipts and getting letters and filling out forms and generally wasting valuable time. I have absolutely everything--I kept every receipt for every toy and gift card last year. I have receipts for everything that has been accomplished so far this year. I'll provide the copies. I'll fill out the forms. I will waste the time of everyone involved at the various agencies. I'll jump through whatever flaming hoops are thrown in front of me because it's for the kids.

But I will absolutely be grumpy while I do it.


Never Ask Dr. Google Anything

It started out completely innocently. I had turned to Dr. Google to try to find something for work, but as often happens, a wormhole opened up and sucked me into the Land of Random. A click here, a search there, a few more clicky clicks and there it was. I found myself looking at a list of symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in children.

As I glanced at the list, I started to place a mental checkmark next to the things that applied to Alexis. Check. Check. Check. And . . . check. And . . OMG . . . check check check.

There was a whole lot of checks.

For a split second, I felt the raw edges of worry begin to seep into my brain. What if? Should I? Do I? Is she?

And then I took another look at the list.

Oppositional behavior. Yup, the kid has been known to do a few things I've told her not to do.

Frequent mood swings. OMG, yes. Alexis is the queen of Giggles Turned to Tears. I mean, it's all fun and games until the Bulldog looks at you wrong.

Silliness, goofiness, giddiness. Ding! Ding! Ding! The kid can't be serious for more than ten seconds at a time.

Restlessness, fidgetiness. Well, yeah, getting Alexis to sit still generally requires duct tape and bricks.

Grandiosity. Hmmm . . . yeah, if you ask Alexis to describe something, she usually exaggerate it a bit.

Impulsivity. Sure. I mean, Alexis has been known to blurt out things like, "Boys can't have ponytails!" after seeing a REALLY big guy who looked like he had just hopped off his Harley.

Distractibility. Oh, hell yes. All it takes is something sparkly or shiny or Jonas and the kid is all "Huh? What's the what?"

Hyperactivity. I imagine bouncing off the walls counts? If so, YES. YES. YES. Alexis is bouncier than a rubber ball on speed.

Thanks to Dr. Google, I now realize Alexis has Bipolar Disorder. Either that, or she's a COMPLETELY NORMAL FOUR-YEAR OLD.

Stupid Dr. Google.


I Have a New Curse Word.

As I sat down to quickly check email, somehow Alexis' lyrics cut through my many thick layers of I Can't Hear You. It's a skill I learned from Mr. Husband, a method of self-preservation. I simply ignore anything Alexis sings when we're at home. Given that she spends 99.9% of her waking hours making up words and phrases and stringing them together into lyrics, I rarely hear her. It's completely necessary that I block her out. COMPLETELY. Hearing her lyrics inevitably leads to trying to understand her lyrics and absolutely no good can come of that.

I mean, what's the point in trying to find the logic in lyrics like, "There's a volcano in my ear . . . dance girl, dance . . . the kalilli is on fire?" THERE IS NO POINT.

But, somehow, someway, her words cut through to my head. She was singing some sort of alphabet song and despite knowing that nothing good could come of paying attention, I found myself tuned into her words.

"D is for dinner, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," she sang. (Literally. She sang the non-word, "blah, blah, blah" out loud.)

"E is for elephant . . ." she continued, humming where I assumed the second half of the line belonged.

"F is for f*ck . . ." OH, YES, SHE DID.

"G is for God, who from heaven talked to nanny sooooo," Well, OF COURSE. If F is going to be for THAT, then why wouldn't G be for God? And why wouldn't he be talking to the nanny? Who else would he want to chat with?

Apparently sensing a little parental concern, Alexis paused in her singing. Looking up at me, she started to sing the song over again, this time watching me closely for a reaction.

I remained stone-faced even as she repeated the exact same lyrics for a second time. I was listening closely to her intonation, trying to determine if her word choices were intentional or the product of her usual need to create fake words when she doesn't have a real one.

She was making up the word, or at least she thought she was making it up. The conviction just wasn't there to make me think it was an intentional choice of sounds.

Realizing that she truly had my full attention, Alexis began to ask, "Momma, what does f*ck mean?" It's something she does all the time--she makes up words and then acts like I should know what they mean.

It was EXACTLY the word that was running through my head at the moment is what it meant. In a flash, I blurted out, "It's not a nice word, do you mean 'fudge?' or 'funny?' or 'fantastic?'"

"FUDGE!" she shouted. "I meant FUDGE!"

She started the song over again, this time using the slightly less graphic f word.

I sat completely still as she continued to sing, worried that if I so much as breathed a sigh of relief, she'd realize that it would be Really! Great! Fun! to incorporate her new word into her vocabulary on a daily basis. Fun for her. Not me. It wouldn't be fun for me at all.

A few minutes went by, me silently considering whether I needed to make more of a big deal about the accidental cussing or if I was better off just letting it go. Alexis continued to sing the song, over and over. Except I realized that she was singing a whole new set of lyrics on her most recent repeat.

"A is for angel," she started. This was new. A had been an apple before that moment. She continued on, declaring that B is for Bethlehem and C for cattle. Realizing that the whole song had abrubtly changed, I sat silent eagerly waiting to hear what F was going to bring.

Frankincense. F brought Frankincense.

I have a whole new perspective on those Three Kings and their gifts now. The dirty old men . . .