My Christmas porch and entry decorations

Confession: I don’t love to decorate for Christmas. I get super excited and go crazy for Halloween. Thanksgiving is easy because I only need to switch a few things out. By the time Christmas gets here I’m tired and busy. I do what I can but it always seems kinda lame. With that  in mind I thought I’d share a few of my holiday decorations. This isn’t everything – I’m not that lame – just my front porch and entry. Enjoy.

laughing abi Christmas entry

Santa stands just inside the front door on my little entry table.

laughing abi Christmas entry

Next to Santa is the last letter my daughter wrote to Santa before she learned “the truth”.

laughing abi Christmas entry

Of course, I had to include some pics of my girls with the big man himself. Seems so long ago.

Christmas entry table

Here it is all together. (Apologies for the bad flash photography.)

laughing abi Christmas entry

Hanging on the wall above the Santa table is this chalkboard.

laughing abi Christmas entry

My front porch.

laughing abi Christmas entry

laughing abi Christmas entry

laughing abi Christmas entry

This is a bench that sits in my front yard. See the front porch in the background? If you look closely you can even see my little chalkboard and Santa just inside the front door.

The truth about my Christmas guilty pleasures.

This isn’t an ooey-gooey- sweet post describing how the spirit of the season moves me. This is about the truth. This is about some of the things I honestly love at Christmastime. You can judge me, or you can just fess-up and admit you love them too.

1. Starbuck’s gingerbread lattes.
If loving a $5 cup of coffee is wrong, I don’t want to be right. You can only get this liquid gold in December and I lap up every drop I can. Ain’t no shame in it.

2. Watching my teenage daughter try to be nice to me.
It’s obviously painful for her but she does it anyway because she wants the goods on Christmas morning. I realize her affection is shallow and self-serving but, like my beloved gingerbread latte, I’ll take it while I can get it.

Christmas guilty pleasures

3. Black Friday.
Yep, I’m one of those sickos who like to shop on Black Friday. I don’t camp out in front of Wal-Mart or anything but I do love the hustle and bustle of the crowds. And nothing makes me more tingly than a good deal. I also think it’s the best day ever to people watch – there are some real doozies out there. One caveat: under no circumstances do I enjoy Black Friday shopping with my children. That should be against the law.

4. Justifiable shopping.
Shopping makes me feel happy. Really, really happy. Most of the year I have to restrain myself  like an AA member at a tequila factory. But in December I can go to Target three times a day, every day, and nobody says boo.

Target store

5. Buying presents for myself.
I won’t even bother explaining this one. I know I do it and you know you do it. Enough said.

6. Out-decorating my neighbors.
I could tell you I put out a dazzling display of lights and scenery for Christmas that puts all others to shame, but I promised to be honest so here’s the truth. Of the four houses surrounding mine one is abandoned, two don’t decorate at all, and one hangs up three strands of lights. My holiday decorations may be small and simple but I can still say they’re the best on the block. It’s all about perspective people.

Christmas guilty pleasures

7. The “threat” of Santa.
Right or wrong, we’ve all played the Santa card before. Melt-down at the mall? Santa’s watching! Won’t go to bed when they’re supposed to? Santa’s watching! Didn’t mix mommy’s vodka-tonic properly? Santa’s watching!

8. Eating, drinking, and eating and drinking some more.
You know those holiday tips for not overindulging during the holiday season? BAH! If I’m at a party and something looks yummy, I’m eating it. If someone wants me to toast the season, I’m drinking it – twice. I’ll worry about calories in January when I’m reorganizing my closet and donating all the pants that don’t fit anymore.

9. Watching cheesy holiday TV specials.
Traditional. Musical. Animated. Old. New. I watch them all. I know some of them are awful but I don’t care. I love them. My favorite this year is Michael Buble’s “Home For The Holidays”. He’s so dreamy. Sigh.

Christmas guilty pleasures

10. Guilt-free lying to the children.
Lying is bad – unless it’s during the holidays. Then, it’s actually a requirement. Think about it, how many Christmas surprises would be ruined if we were totally honest with our kids? So lie away, it’s ok. Besides, it’s not like you’re breaking a commandment or anything. (Wouldn’t that be ironic?)

How many will you admit to?

Brown paper bags turned into holiday decorations

My sister-in-law is an amazing artist, one of those people who can do everything. She paints. She draws. She throws clay. She crafts. She crochets. She takes inspiring photographs. Even her name screams creative genius – Piper LaRue. Nice, right? So today I’m sharing a few of Piper’s masterpieces with you, specifically her hand-drawn gift bags. Yep, these all started as plain brown paper bags. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away after last Christmas so I trimmed, laminated, and framed them. Voila – handmade holiday decorations.

Santa Elvis

Santa fish

flying Santa

Santa puppet

If you don’t have access to an amazing young artist, you can find fabric and scrapbooking paper these days that’s frame-worthy. I’ve even seen some wrapping papers here that I would gladly hang on my wall. Do you have any “repurposed” holiday decorations? Send me a link, I’d love to see it.

Santa Claus and the Bearded Dragon: I Believe

My daughter wants a bird for Christmas this year. I told her no, but remembering what happened last year maybe I should start shopping for a cage. Here’s the story.

bearded dragon

(Originally posted March 26, 2012)

This was the conversation between me and my 8-year-old daughter right before Halloween:

Her: I want a lizard for Christmas.
Me: Um, no.
Her: Please mommy.
Me: No. No way. No way in H-E-L-L.
Her: Why?
Me: Because they’re yucky and icky. And because I said so.
Her: Fine, I’ll ask Santa for one.
Me: Santa doesn’t bring gifts mom and dad haven’t approved.
Her: You don’t know about Santa or lizards mom. I’m asking him for one!

Now repeat this conversation each and every day for the next month or so, which puts us somewhere in late November. I’m at a neighbor’s house (a neighbor who knows nothing of the convo between daughter & me) for a fund-raiser/party when she pulls me aside to show me this “crazy new thing” she has. I follow her into the next room and find myself face to face with a large, scaly, beady-eyed bearded dragon lizard.

Me: WHUCK?!
Neighbor: It’s not mine. A friend found it abandoned in one of his rental properties and couldn’t leave it there to die so he brought it here. I don’t know what to do with it. If you know anyone who wants or needs a lizard, let me know.
Me: (Insert stunned silence here.)

Folks, I’m not a religious person but I think my little girl must have been praying every single night for Santa to bring her a lizard. Praying hard. And since I’m too smart to spit in the face of divine reptilian intervention, Santa brought a bearded dragon to our house on Christmas morning. Her name is Elizabeth, Lizzy for short, and it took about a day for her to melt my heart. I’m not ashamed to admit I was wrong – she’s not icky or yucky. I love her. When I pet her I’m reminded that Christmas is a magical season, that you’re never too old to believe in Santa, and that my youngest daughter is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

bearded dragon

Little Miss Multiple Personalities

multiple personalities

I originally wrote this as a guest post for ScaryMommy.com. This child is now 13 and I still don’t know who I’m gonna get when she comes downstairs in the morning.

I have a tween. A girl – the most savage of all tweenkind. My goal is to survive. Not win, just survive. She is my first-born so I have no previous experience to help me, only a stash of vodka coupons and a therapist foolish enough to give me his home phone number. (Duct tape is an amazing motivator.)

When she turned 11 I thought, “I will be able to handle this. She’s only ONE little girl.” Now that she’s on the brink of 12, I realize she is not only one little girl. She is actually 7 different people ranging in age from 3 to 40. Let me introduce them.

The BFF
Age: 35-40
This woman goes with me to get manicures, chats over lattes at Starbuck’s (always my treat), and goes out of her way to listen to my problems and help in any way possible. The BFF doesn’t come around very often but when she does you can hear the angels singing from above.

The Sweetheart
Age: 6
This is the sweetest, dearest little girl you will ever meet. She loves to snuggle and give kisses. She will climb up on the couch next to you on any given night just to tell you how much she loves you. She comes around even less than the BFF.

The Devil’s Twin
Age: Unknown
This evil twin usually lurks around my house during late afternoon hours. She looks exactly like the BFF or the Sweetheart but when you speak to her burning acid shoots out of her mouth and does not stop until you flee the room, screaming profanities. Occasionally she rears her ugly head early in the morning so beware.

The Einstein/Miss Independent
Age: 11-20
This girl knows everything and can do everything herself. Everything. The easiest way to identify her is by her language. She only speaks two words, “I know.”

The Mature One
Age: 18-22
This is a young woman who knows how to handle herself. She tackles every chore with maturity. She does things without being asked. She engages in conversation with adults in a way that makes you consider admitting you are her parent. Unfortunately, sightings are rare.

The Baby
Age: 3-5
Often confused with the Drama Queen, this child believes every single, itty, bitty, teeny, weeny injury is a near-death experience. She once asked to go to the emergency room because she bent her hair.

The Drama Queen
Age: 10-20
This girl is very similar to the Baby. However, she does not need to be injured to believe the world is ending. She only needs to be breathing. No clean jeans to wear? End of world. Can’t find her hairbrush? End of world. It’s Tuesday and she wants it to be Wednesday? End of world. Please note, the Drama Queen can instantly transform into the Devil’s Twin without any warning or notice.

That is everybody living in my daughter’s body. At least for today. I will be sure to let you know if anyone new moves in when she reaches the ripe old age of 12. Lord help me.

The tooth fairy’s epic fail.

tooth fairy fail

The tooth fairy got busted at my house last week. Our youngest daughter called him out, tooth in hand.

“Dad, why are you taking my tooth?”

“I’m not honey, I was just checking on you.”

“Dad, I SAW you take my tooth.”

“Um, yea, I took your tooth. Go back to sleep.”

Go back to sleep? Does everyone know what that means? It means he’s leaving for the train station and when she wakes up I will have to clean up his mess. It also means the tooth fairy is getting his ass kicked. Continue reading