As the Christmas cards start rolling in, I am touched that we have so many friends and family who care enough to include us on their Christmas card lists. I marvel at the fact that they were able to locate us, given our nomadic lifestyle. And I am stricken with a twinge of guilt, that we have not reciprocated the holiday spirit in the form of an adorable photo on a Shutterfly card, delivered by the mail carrier. So for all of you who standing next to your mailboxes, shivering in the cold, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our annual holiday card...go inside. It ain't happening in 2014. Please accept this Top 10 List not a spattering of excuses (I prefer the term "reasons why"), but as a compensatory gesture for the disappointing holiday card void in your mailbox. Presenting:
The Top 10 Reasons Why We're Boycotting Christmas Cards This Year:
(Ok, so "boycotting" is a strong word. But what fun is a blog without a little hyperbole? Just go with it...)
10. We had a baby - Ah yes, people do this every day. But Lydia came via C-section - a major surgery which equates to a six week recovery.
On top of that, Lydia is our third baby. And even though she's the most delightful baby (she truly is!), it's still an adjustment going from two to three. I'm still not sure I've got a handle on it. But hey - fake it until you make it, right?
9. We moved...again - I always laugh because my mom gets out a pencil and paper to reply to an email (she does! I couldn't make this stuff up!) I actually got out a pencil and paper to tally how many times Travis and I have moved since graduating college and getting married: we have had seven (going on 8) residences in 12 years!!!! I've blogged about this before: Travis works for a global company that has afforded us many fun and exciting opportunities to live in different places. Our most recent stint in the Tundra lasted just over a year.
Basically, three months after having a baby, it was time to stick a "For Sale" sign in the yard, pack up our belongings, and meet with a realtor in a new state to find a new residence so Travis could start his new position.
8. Condo Life - The plan was to travel south to our new state, meet with a realtor while my mom and sister were trapped in a hotel room with 3 kids, see every available house on the market and purchase one...within a 48 hour window. We tried. We did. We saw every single listing by every single broker...we navigated through the FSBO's...we even brought in a contractor to bid on renovating current listings. I'm pretty sure if our realtor never saw my face again, it would be too soon. And ultimately, we ended up in a two-bedroom condo. Literally. Five people in a shoebox. It's a lovely little place with a view of the golf course. Here is our family room:
Here is the girls' bedroom:
Here are the girls in our bedroom:
This completes the tour of our condo. You can literally stand in one spot and see the whole thing. We go to the grocery store almost daily because we don't have the space to store an excess of anything. In fact, the our second shower is housing boxes of diapers, baby wipes, paper towels and toilet paper because there's no place else to put those things.
All hands on deck when hauling in the groceries. Mother Hen helps out by pushing a cart and Baby Lydia serves as a door stop.
It's actually a very amusing experience - I equate it to moving into a nursing home. We are the youngest residents by a good 40 years. And the stories I could tell about our neighbors! Boy! But I won't because I'm sure they could tell some stories about us. And I'm sure many of them raised much larger families in residences that weren't much larger than this without complaining. There's so much to admire about that generation.
And as cozy as this place is and as cluttered as it gets, I'm pretty sure the lack of personal space, storage, and various other single-family home amenities will give birth to endearing memories. Some day we may even laugh about that one time we lived in Shady Pines.
7. Building a Home - After an exhausting search for existing homes, we came to the conclusion that building a home was the best way to meet the needs of our unique family. Both of our parents built homes when they were our age and the timing just seemed right. We were fortunate to find a nice lot in a great location/school district.
Little did we know what an overwhelming experience building a home is. Especially for Little Miss Indecisive, here. What kind of door knobs, faucets, light switches do I want? Huh? Am I supposed to have an opinion on those things? Why are there so many choices?! What am I supposed to do with these three little kids while I meet with the lighting expert in a showroom full of breakable glass fixtures that just beckon exploration from inquisitive toddlers?!
Even our realtor asked Travis if he felt like I was ready to take on the challenge of building. Nothing like having your mental health status and stress coping mechanisms questioned by someone who has known you for all of two weeks! It's been a busy year, Lady. Admittedly, my acuity and composure aren't what they once were.
Ah but here we are, pouring all of our energy into creating what will ideally be our last residence before we find ourselves buying a pine condo...or at least until we buy our retirement condo in Florida. And when it's finished, it will be so awesome. Even more appreciated in light of the fact that we've spent the 9 months prior living in a glorified hotel room.
6. Pink Eye - So yes, all of the aforementioned things happened and I still had every good intention of creating and mailing Christmas cards. Granted I do not have all of my photography equipment with me here at the condo (most of our belongings are in storage until our house is finished), I still have my camera and a few cute kids so I figured we could pull something off in time for the holidays. Then Thanksgiving rolled around and things started to unravel beginning with pink eye.
Yes, I literally did not know what I was seeing when Merryn came into my bathroom where I was drying my hair one morning with all this gunk all over her eyes. I quickly texted a picture to a dear friend who is an expert in all things medical and she diagnosed it right away: pink eye. Ewww! Really?! She must have gotten it at the gym daycare the day before. There's all the excuse I need never to work out again...
5. Staples - a few days after our doctor visit for pink eye, Merryn experienced another doctor visit - this time it was for a gash in the back of the head that she suffered while she was goofing off after bath. She fell backwards into the shelves that store our toys in the family room. I thought she was fine and I cradled her until she calmed down. Then she sat up and there was blood all over my sleeve and all over the back of her shirt. Off she went to the urgent care where she received 3 staples in the back of her noggin. Get this, folks: she didn't even cry! She's one tough little mama!
We'll spare you the gory photos in favor of this super cute photo. You're welcome.
4. Croup - Just when we thought we'd achieved our medical excitement quota for the week, Josie decided to take a turn. She had not one, but two, ER visits for what was ultimately diagnosed as croup. She had a fever and a horrible wheezing sound accompanied by a barking cough that sounds like a seal's mating call. And given Josie's respiratory history (new readers can catch up in the 2010 blog archives starting in August), we take these sorts of things very seriously.
A hefty dose of steroids and a week off of school to recover and Josie was fine. But Merryn wasn't...
3. Merryn...and Mom...and Lydia get sick. I shuffled the gang back to the doctor...I inquired about renting a room there just to cut down on travel time. Little did I know, things could get worse...
That's right - I'm always learning new things about parenthood and I learned a very important lesson: When Mom gets sick, there are no sick days. No paid vacation. No PTO - period. So while I was shivering with chills on the sofa running a 102 degree fever and whimpering about my aching body, the kids still expected to eat, bathe, brush teeth, read books, do art projects, have clean clothes...There was no substitute mom to call; no "Out of Office" messenger to cue up.
Lydia was the next one to show off her extravagant souvenirs from her recent tour of the germ factory. As these things go, the sweetest, smiliest, most pleasant baby on earth fell prey to the winter illness curse...
So I hauled the crew back to the doctor to learn that Miss Lydia had gone through the buffet line of germs and taken a heaping helping of everything!
2. Travis the traveler was traveling - Loyal readers know that Travis' job responsibilities have always included travel. Early December was no exception. So illness hits, we start dropping like flies, and Travis is jetting off to a mandatory conference that has been on his schedule for months. Now no one begrudges him for working hard and bringing home a paycheck to support his family. We appreciate the fact that he is a wonderful provider. However, his absence was definitely felt during the last leg of the injury and illness marathon.
2. The bar was set too high - I know what you're thinking 'You had a baby, moved, live in a shoe box, are building a house, single parenting, and everyone got sick. Still, it's Christmas! Pop a card in the mail for Pete's sake!'
I know, I know. I had every good intention of doing so. But given the precedent that's been set over the last few years, not just any value-pack of holiday greetings from Walmart will do!
Exhibit A: Christmas 2011
Exhibit B: Christmas 2012
Exhibit C: Christmas 2013
I caved under the pressure!!!!
1. I found myself on the naughty list - I feel like this part should start with a sports analogy. Ten seconds left, the clock is ticking, something about a tied game and a free throw at the 50 yard line and the buzzer sounds (Ok, I don't exactly have the sports proficiency to carry this off so I'll stop). The point was, this was my "Hail Mary" pass. As us Type A, neurotic perfectionists are prone to do, I wasn't ready to give up. So as soon as I could scrape myself off the sofa and in good conscience, drag my sickly little crew out of the house, we decided to pay a visit to Old Saint Nick. I wiped the crusted snot off the girls' faces and dressed them in their fancy Christmas dresses from Mama Hop and we headed towards the most festive destination this side of the North Pole: the mall.
As luck would have it (we're just full of luck these days), Santa was out feeding his reindeer. No problem, I'll just burn through Merryn's braces fund letting her ride that ridiculously overpriced Polar Express train over and over and over until Mr. Claus returns.
We decided to stop before we burned through her college fund as well. Instead, I figured we'd pose by the beautiful Christmas décor - the elegantly decorated trees, poinsettias, and twinkling lights that we have no space for in our condo - and maybe, just maybe, I could get a holiday card worthy photo. But you know my kids...
Lovely. Just lovely.
Oh but Merryn's gold mining wasn't the most vile offense of the day. No, that title goes to me; good old mom. Do you see Santa's stern glare and the finger pointing? That accompanied the "No pictures, Mom! Stand over there!" talking to Santa gave me after I violated the mall's "Oh-heck-no-you-can't-take-your-own-snapshot-gosh-darnit-you're-going-to-pay-$26-for-our-lousy-photo-Merry-Christmas-Hope-you-enjoyed-your-visit-to-this-cattle-call-racket-right-of-passage-of-every-well-adjusted-childhood" policy.
And that's when I knew I'd solidified my spot on the naughty list...it was also precisely when I realized it was time to throw in the towel and give up the 2014 Christmas card dream.
But I'd like to take this opportunity to make a virtual toast: To a happy, healthy, and fun-filled 2015 with some much needed stability. Heck, maybe even a little bit of boredom would be welcomed after the year we've had.
Happy Holidays to all of our blog readers!