On My Television, Holiday Edition

MV5BMTQ3NTYyNTk0OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjk5Mzc4MDE@._V1_SX214_AL_I Am Santa Claus (2014)

From IMDB: “We have documented an entire year in the lives of five real-bearded professional Santa Clauses to find out what the rest of the year is like for a man who perpetually looks like Jolly Saint Nick. In the process, they are shown for who they actually are, flawed, flesh and blood men who feel an overbearing responsibility to protect the integrity of the spotless, untarnished reputation of the ‘Red Suit.’ I Am Santa Claus is a documentary that poses a question about a ubiquitous holiday figure that few parents ever ask themselves; ‘Whose lap is my child sitting on?'”

My Thoughts: I stumbled onto this one in the Netflix new releases and just loved it. Loved it! This was a behind the scenes look into the world of a professional Santa and I was really surprised. Who knew there are Santa agents and men traveling all over the country depending on their contract? In addition to the regular working Santas, the movie follows wrestler Mick Foley as he prepares to don the red suit for the first time. And I have to admit – that guy made a damn good Santa. My favorite Santa was Jim, the big ‘ole bear Santa with rainbow suspenders under his costume. He seemed like a lovely person.

Highly recommended! For any time of year, really.

Yesterday’s Holiday

Judy Garland – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (1944)

Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (1961)

Lewis James – When the Christmas Chimes Are Ringing (1922)

Birchbox, December 2014


Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream ($1.28)
This sample is tiny. I’ll probably keep it in my purse for chapped lips – I don’t see how there could be enough to make a difference on any sizable section of your skin.

Hayadi Relief Hair Mask ($2.64)
Even if I won’t use this, my husband will use it for his hipster beard. I’m kind of partial to the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! mask when I do decide to do a deep treatment, but I’m willing to give this one a try.

BORGHESE Superiore State-of-the-Art Mascara ($6.50)
Mascara, always good. I don’t even remember the last time I had to purchase a full tube of mascara. I’ve heard good things about this one. We’ll see.

Miracle Skin Transformer Miracle Revival Mud ($2.45)
Yes, it is a foil sample. It’s cool though, as masks are pretty perfect for foil samples. It really only takes one use to see if you are going to like it or not. I’ll add this to my stash. I have a big bag ‘o masks.

SeaRX Anti-Wrinkle Facial Lift Treatment Serum ($1.40)
The day I started using a serum as part of my regular routine, the heavens opened up and the skincare angels blessed me. I’m always happy to see a serum in a beauty box [stay tuned for a serum round-up review in January] – I’ve discovered that it really doesn’t matter what kind of serum I use, as long as I use one. I have no problem going through these samples. The sample size is pretty standard, so I’m pleased.

RUSK® Texture Spray ($3.38)
Mine came missing it’s lid, but it clearly hasn’t been sprayed so I won’t worry about it. I use some sort of texturing product on my hair every day (when I bother to style it, at least). Never tried this one, so I’ll be anxious to see if it works for me.

Total spent: $10
Total value: $17.65

Not the highest value box, but I really like it. Its nothing spectacular, but all of the products are good to add to my stash and use when I need them.

As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link.

Right now (until 12/23) you can get 70 extra points on purchases $30+ with the code TENFREE. That means you end up with at least 100 points. That equals $10 to spend in the Birchbox store.


From leitesculinaria.com

My little girl-butt turns twelve on Saturday. Unbelievable, I know. We celebrated with a few of her friends at a painting party last weekend and will be taking her out for the brunch of her choice on the actual day.

In honor of this special occasion, I want to share twelve cute things she said when she was little (once upon a time I used to blog her nonsense). Just thinking about some of these things melts my ice-cold heart.

  • My finger tastes good because of the play-dough.
  • That television isn’t on. Maybe it’s a clapper. [claps in an effort to turn on the television]
  • Everything I’m saying to you is a sentence.
  • While watching television, Dad jokes that a song playing is “old school.” She looks at the television and says: Yeah, that is a school. You can tell it is old. That is an old school.
  • Titter! [Translation: Thank you!]
  • Yah-der! [Translation: I love you!]
  • Dabu! [Translation: Grandma!]
  • Rachel Ray is going on vacation and – guess what! – we can join her!
  • [yelling] Come in here and turn me something on that isn’t the damn old news!
  • Daughter: Did you watch the thing to see who won to be president?
    Mom: We didn’t elect the president yet; that was just the debate.
    Daughter: Yeah, they argued. [gestures with hands to indicate back and forth] But they tied so now they have to do it again.
  • You have a habit of yelling! [aside] Just like Daddy!
  • I’m gifted. That means I’m smarter than you.

On My Bookshelf

Look! I had time to read a book! And with jury duty starting tomorrow, I should have even more time to catch up on my to-read pile.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

From Amazon.com: From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner . . . . Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

It should be fairly obvious, but I’ll start out by saying you probably shouldn’t bother reading this book if you don’t like – or have never seen – The Princess Bride. This it not a memoir about Elwes’s career; it is about the beloved movie from cover to cover.

And I loved it. This book was just fun.

It is always a little iffy when you buy a book written by an actor (or other famous person) – you just never know if they will be able to tell a story in an interesting manner. Joe Layden, the co-author, has a lot of experience with celebrity memoirs, so I assumed this one would be up to snuff. Verdict: It is.

My favorite story: In the scene where Westley is speaking with Count Rugen after being captured leaving the fire swamp, he is knocked out by a blow to the head from the end of the Count’s sword. Apparently, Elwes and Guest were having problems getting the timing right and Elwes suggested Guest go ahead and touch the sword to his head so the reaction would be better. Unfortunatly, the pair underestimated the weight of the authentic metal sword. It knocked Elwes out cold. His next memory is of the hospital. And Westley getting knocked out? Absolutely realistic. It was not reshot.

By the way, if you get the audiobook you will be treated to narration by Cary Elwes, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright, and Billy Crystal. Had I realized that, I might have went with audio instead of purchasing the hardcover.

Today’s Holiday

Pentatonix (feat. Tori Kelly) – Winter Wonderland / Don’t Worry Be Happy (2014)

Leona Lewis – One More Sleep (2013)

Straight No Chaser – Santa Claus Is Back In Town (2009)

And Now For Something Completely Different (and a bit of a downer, if I’m honest)

Since I’m supposed to be using this blog for general stress-relief and other mental health benefits, I should probably stop the fun holiday posts and get down to the real issues (not that I don’t love the holiday posts). I’m just going to brain dump here, forgive the ramble. [Edited to Add: I felt so much better after getting all of this out of my system.]

I’m having a rough time right now.

For starters, I’m struggling with a lot of uncertainty. I mentioned our current consideration of the Baclofen pump a few days ago. In addition to that, I’m starting to grapple with the very real question of what we are going to do next year when the little man starts school. What are we going to do when we have to transport his wheelchair around? It doesn’t fit in our cars, especially not with other people in there. He can ride the bus to school, of course, but who is going to pick him up or be there when the bus drops him back off? Will we need to hire a nanny? Can we afford that? Will I have to cut my hours back at work? Can we afford that? Will my job suffer?

Our daughter’s school doesn’t have buses, so I’m already picking her up every day – taking my lunch break to pick her up at 3:15, then heading back to work four days a week. I can’t keep that up forever. This current plan keeps me on the road 39 miles a day. We only live 9 miles from where I work. The kids are going to be at schools six miles apart from each other next year. How in the world is that going to work?

Outside of the basic transportation issue is the big question of summer care. There aren’t exactly special needs daycares popping up on every corner. Where is the little man going to go for those three months? Back to those nanny and work questions. Can we continue to do this and both work out of the home? And therapy. Even if we can get the little man approved for summer therapy (and I’m sure we can given the level of his disabilities), who are we going to use? How will we get him there? I’ve never worked with any therapists in this town other than his regular therapists at school and at the children’s hospital. It will be like starting over.

And another looming problem – the little man is quickly getting too heavy for me to carry. I try not to even think about that one.

Work is wearing me down. I won’t go into specific complaints because 1) it doesn’t really matter, 2) I’ve never thought it was very smart to do that, and 3) several coworkers read this blog and will all know the next day. How does one become independently wealthy? Some days all I really want to do is work on my projects (mostly writing) from the comfort of my own home. Other days I know going to the office every morning keeps me sane. I tried being a stay-at-home mom for a few months when my daughter was little. Didn’t like it. Plus, I love my career. I know a lot of people aren’t lucky enough to be able to say that; I can’t let a few warts scare me away.

Moving on, it is becoming painfully clear that my social life is nonexistent. I’ve already talked about the difficulty in finding a babysitter for a five year old who doesn’t talk, sit-up, walk, or eat by mouth. On top of that I just don’t really have any close friends around here. Now, I know and love a lot of really wonderful people. I have great people in my life that I can meet for lunch or the movies, but I don’t have the kind of people you call up to bitch about stupid stuff or wander around the mall with for hours. The go-to friends. We didn’t live here for very long before we adopted the little man and – I suppose – I let the stress related to his medical issues stop me from cultivating those kinds of relationships. It’s only become harder as he has gotten older.

At home it is the typical stuff: strained finances (right at the holidays, naturally), overextension (always, but we aren’t as bad as some), not being able to get the husband to do the things I’m counting on him to do (he seems pretty burnt out too lately), laundry. There is always laundry, right? So much damn laundry.

In better, but totally unrelated news: I’m taking a weaving class in January. With a loom, people. A loom!

Christmas Past

For a short time, the daughter had a due date of Christmas Day. She was actually born on December 20th by scheduled c-section. Christmas 2002 was fun, scary, busy, and painful all rolled into one. My legs were still swelling from retaining water – pretty bad, actually, but the doctor didn’t take me seriously – so holiday celebrations were difficult. The daughter got a huge Clifford doll from my parents and we took photographs of her riding it. She was asleep, of course. We decorated a tabletop tree, put up a string of lights, and did tiny stockings. It was a simple holiday.

This year we had the bright idea to set the Christmas tree up in our master bedroom. This meant our all-over-the-place-walking-child would stay out of the tree. It also had the added bonus of allowing me to snuggle in front of the tree every night. When Christmas morning rolled around, we all sat on the bedroom floor opening presents. Right next to the television stand with the sharp corners. That was in the room so our daughter wouldn’t trip and fall into it. . . You can see where this is going. She caught her forehead right on the corner and we spent half a day in the emergency room waiting for an x-ray. It was just a flesh wound, but she spent the next couple of week with a nasty bump/bruise and bandaid on her head.

Our first Christmas in our own home. Well, one we owned anyways. We moved in just before Halloween, so things were still a little bare around the holidays (apartment to house is a big change). We decided to stay home on Christmas day and stop the grandparent shuffle. Eventually my parents decided they would come to us – just couldn’t bear to be away from us! – and we made spaghetti with Cajun meatballs. It was delicious. Now, everyone comes to us and the husband cooks a massive meal. It is fun, but I’ll always look back on that low-key holiday fondly.

Our first Christmas with the little man. Nothing special happened this year, but it is the first holiday enjoyed by our family in its current form and the first time I had to buy for presents for two kids.

I had my median sternotomy with thymectomy in early December and was just starting to feel alive by Christmas time. Outside, the neighborhood was covered in more inches of snow than we’ve seen in recent years, but – sadly – I could only enjoy it from my couch. We had the family up for dinner and opened presents. Thanks to pain killers, I think I enjoyed most of it. Can’t really remember many details though. There were coordinating sock monkey pajamas for the kids, a bow for the daughter, and a small ball pit for the little man.

Gifts for Your Minecrafter

Minecrafter? Minecraftian? Player of Minecraft?

My daughter and her friends love Minecraft. In fact, I think she would be most happy if I put her in her a room with a computer, a few snacks, and no one else to bother her while she played all day long. As this is such a huge interest of hers, we have gifted several Minecraft-related things to her over the years and I have some suggestions for those of you out there looking for similar gifts.

FYI: These are not affiliate links – just random. And the photographs come from the website I’ve linked to.

51QkrbkFlSL._SL500_AA300_Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection
You can buy these handbooks separately or this in snazzy new set. Know your audience though – my daughter is just as happy to look up tutorials and hacks on YouTube than to open one of her guides. In fact, she will watch someone randomly playing Minecraft while she plays Minecraft. Meta Minecraft.

f499_minecraft_foam_sword_pickaxeFoam Weapons
The Minecraft home décor is not complete without a collection of less-than-deadly, pixelated weapons on hand. These are foam, but are not soft. Plus- they are sturdy. Minus- it would hurt if you got whacked with one. We own the regular iron sword and it was a big hit when it came in the mail. I think these are pretty pricey for what you are ordering, but you can catch sales often.

My kid plays Minecraft on her computer and likes to park herself down right in the living room while we are trying to watch some evening television. I’m thrilled to have her with us instead of hiding in her room, as almost-teenagers are prone to want to do, so a good pair of headphones is the perfect accessory. This pair is high quality, but won’t break the bank at $60. They come recommended by the tacky techie husband. Plus, you can use them with your Xbox One or PS4 with a $15 attachment.

f04f_minecraft_masksCardboard Creeper or Steve Mask
You should buy this for three reasons: 1) Your kid will look hilarious trying to walk around with it on. So will the adult you talk into putting it on. 2) You have a go-to, last-minute Halloween costume. 3) You might be able to put it on the dog for a few minutes and it will be totally worth it.

f056_creeper_plushCreeper Plushie with Sound
This thing makes the standard Creeper hiss/boom sound and is much bigger than it looks. Keep your friend close and your enemies closer, right? Now you can sleep with a Creeper right next to your head. Plus, you have a great sound effect to engage before you do something destructive.

81Mhf0RMW2L._SL1500_Minecraft Lego Sets
My family tells me a young Minecrafter would appreciate one of these sets. I don’t get it – you are already building in the game, why do you need to build in real life too? Probably a good way to get your kid out from in front of their gaming system or computer though. Is anyone else always surprised by how expensive Legos are?

Looking for something a little more unique? Hit up Etsy where you can find hand-painted Creeper shoes, Christmas ornaments, and all manner of personalized clothing.

Christmas Parody

Wrecking Ball Parody (Deck the Halls by Dave and Brian)

[Yes, I shared this one last year too. I just really like it.]

Betty White Christmas (White Christmas parody by The Kinsey Sicks)

[FYI: The Kinsey Sicks are super fun and I advise you to check them out on YouTube. A lot of their songs aren’t what you would call family friendly though, don’t say I didn’t warn you.]


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