Behind the Wheel of a Large Automobile

32.9 miles exactly how far I will walk, and by walk I mean drive, just to be the mom to keep the magic of Christmas alive in this house. 

I've been procrastinating buying my son the one and only gift he has asked for this year, the one that makes his eyes 15 year old completely-over-it-emo eyes go all -

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because I don't even know why. There is no reason. I just haven't bought it because, and now it's sold out across like America and I didn't find that out until I tried to buy it online today, 17,204 months after he told me Santa bringing it to him would make his life

Yes, Santa is still bringing him presents. The first rule of Christmas Club is we don't talk about Christmas Club. When you stop believing in Santa, he stops believing in you. Santa brings you what your heart wants the most and what his heart wants the most isn't available at a single online retailer until the Ides of March and oh my god, I don't even know what to DO.  

So what I did was start pretending that I don't know how The Internet works and I called (like, with my phone and everything) (I KNOW) every (the) Best Buy in town, and they searched every Best Buy in the city, and then I did the same thing with Target, and then I did the same thing again with Gamestop and by the power of Greyskull, it WORKED. They found one for me at a Gamestop 32.9 miles from my house. Guess how long 32.9 miles from my house takes to drive? Oh, you know, an hour and a half.

The Far East Bay giveth, the Far East Bay taketh away. 

I know it's probably not smart to be hyperfocused on one child's Christmas gift when there are five children waking up on December 25th under my roof this year, but in three years this one is off to college and he'll spend one of the two Christmases I get with him before then with his father, so this is the 2nd to last round for him and me and Santa.

This is not my beautiful wife. 

I think I'd drive a lot further than 32.9 miles if it meant I got a few more years to torment him with Christmas pictures on Santa's lap, of baking cookies to leave out, of truths we dare not speak aloud lest we break the spell of childhood magic. We've never once, not beyond his very elementary years, talked about the existence of Santa Claus - we believe unitedly in the notion that someone out there delights in delighting us, and making sure he knows that that is worth all the tanks of gas on earth. 

A Time to Give

In the amount of time it takes me to drive from my house to my office, I could drive in the opposite direction and end my drive in Tahoe. We live in the sticks of Northern California because we have to. We have five children. We have to put them all somewhere.

When my boys were little, we lived in a crappy little basement apartment (which I loved so very much) in the middle of Denver. We hardly had enough space for us, let alone a bunch of kid stuff. For this one tiny little sliver of my life, I was Über-organized. I rotated toys in and out of circulation so they frequently felt they had a fresh supply of things to play with. I did the same with their clothes.

They had one toybox which they could keep full of all the action figures and Legos and Hot Wheels and Nerf guns and puzzles and dinosaurs and Dora the Explorer toys they wanted (because gender roles are for sissies, and Dora was *awesome*), but it wasn't to overflow. All their toys had to fit inside that one toybox (which really was just a big Rubbermaid crate with a bunch of stickers and shit on it) and if they didn't, some would have to be donated to charity. Not just any toys had to go, good ones were donated, ones a child who maybe didn't have enough money to buy new toys would be happy to find at the local thrift shop. 

Same went for Christmas and birthdays. Each year at the beginning of December, we brought out all the toys, all the games, all the Erector/construction sets, and we started making tough choices, because if Santa was going to leave presents, we had to make room for them. Each year I explained to them that not every family is lucky enough to be able to buy their children Christmas gifts, and that we could help make those kids' Christmas' a wonderful time by giving our best toys, the ones we have cared for and kept together and played with delicately, to the local thrift shop so a family who needed to find wonderful gifts for their kids at the thrift shop, would. 

My children (and really, every child ever) were delighted at this prospect. Yes, giving up toys they loved sucked for them, but they loved the idea of giving another kid a good Christmas, and I loved them for their kind little hearts. 

Of course, those little boys are not little anymore, and they don't really play with toys anymore. We don't have toyboxes, we have cable bins. We don't rotate stuffies, we rotate game systems. We have a great big house a million miles from no where that can store you won't believe how many crates of Legos and Airsoft guns and vintage handheld game systems. There are no more gently used toys to pass on to a new family, but the ritual of it is still important. These men-and-women-in-training need to have it instilled in them that thinking of others, that giving while they're busy receiving, is as much a part of this holiday craziness as turkey and trees and 33% off sales with free shipping.

Wanting to give isn't nearly as easy as wanting to get, until you learn how freaking amazing giving feels. 

The first Tuesday in December is #GivingTuesday. After school, we are heading out to the mall, where each kid is going to pick one gift that they want to get under their own Christmas tree this year. They're going to bring it home and wrap it gorgeously. We're going to take it our of our family budget for Christmas gifts, and count it as one of their personal Christmas gifts, and then we are going to give it away to someone else.

Maybe it will go to a local foster child, maybe to a family who's having a rough time getting by or rebounding financially. It won't be worth a ton monetarily, because we don't have a ton to give, but it will be something. It will make a child's Christmas brighter, and it will give my children the greatest gifts I can think to give them - humility and humanity.

Join the giving movement here and find ideas for giving here.

I Think There May Have Been a Reason I Didn't Celebrate Holidays Growing Up

So I took myself out to lunch and then a mani/pedi for Mother's Day because if you want something done right, don't breed with an alcoholic who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Aside right here in the main content aside: Mani/Pedi just sounds harsh in the singular, don't you think? Like sewing, or words, mani/pedis should happen with friends. Particularly this one. She was the best mani/pedi-mate of all time, and I hate Indiana and Arizona for breaking up our very emo, feathery, glittery 70's grunge band. But anyways. 

I'm a Pisces, so pedicures are pretty much my Asian porn.  I wonder why I get shitty search rank in Google. I already go in every two weeks because I inherited my father's luscious chest hair and formidable foot callouses, but I figured that since my kids' dad had them all day long on the one day a year I could actually stand a chance of getting them to do anyfuckingthing for me (aside from being your amazing, awesome selves, kids; your momma wuves you - now stop reading my blog) and also YOLO so I went in for a Bonus Pedicure With Additional Manicure on my off-week.

So I deserve everything that happened next. 

They're already annoyed with me when I show up because I brought my own polish again and The Pedicure Gods do not like to use your inferior nail polish, even if it is the superest sexiest color in the whole world that you straight up stole they usage rights to from your co-worker *and* you've bought it three times in a row because you keep losing it, so it's actually $24 nail polish but they don't give a shit because NOT CHINA GLAZE. I got invited to sit in the 'twenty minute wait' pedicure chair which roughly translates to 'Oh, what, our polish choices aren't good enough for you? Ha! You will sit there and read that Seventeen Magazine and prune all the nasty ass callouses off your feet until we are damn good and ready to get to you, which may be this week. Also, you need to lose some weight and get out of the sun.'

And I sat in it.

Because Mother's Day.

Later this year, my pedicurist came over. Now, I go to this nail spot every two weeks like my eternal salvation depends on it. Occasionally, I bring all of my children with me. They handle my manicures, my pedicures, and my waxing. Of my face. Screw the rest of that noise. (I took the F word out of that sentence. See, Google? I'm making an effort.) I once got a Rose Marie Reid wax and I now question everything I thought I knew about life, love, and theology.

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I mean, pain like that can't have come to be by accident. There *must* have been some intelligent designer with some sa-heerious mommy issues behind it. So my pedicurist comes over and oh good, it's the lady who usually does 3of3's toes. She's nice, she doesn't make me talk to her too m....oh, wait. She's sitting down at the chair beside me. Weird, I was totally here first. And then he came over.

He.

A. Man. There are no men in pedicures. (Well, there was one dude in there with his wife, but he was adorable and by adorable I mean insanely hot and so we all smiled at him and did not drool at all and admired that he loved his wife so much he'd get a fucking lotus flower salt scrub pedicure on Mother's Day with her. That's devotion.) (Fuck Google.) (Also, my very insanely hot boyfriend is also into public displays of affection on Mother's Day, but I am pretty sure he draws the line at people touching his feet. We all have limits to our love.)

So this guy, whom I've seen at the nail place before, starts giving me a pedicure. I had just enough of The Patriarchy beat into me that there are not enough massage chairs and paraffin dips on earth to make me okay with a man admistering my pedicure. I was all WHAA? and he was all later you shall understand and I was like dude, you shall never wash my feet and he was all unless I wash you, you will have no part with me and then I was like well shit, go ahead then.

No, that was Jesus. Nevermind. 

Jesus for dummies aside: Snoop Dog needs to make the next audio-recording of the Bible. I'd totally play that bullshit on roadtrips.

So this guy is giving me a pedicure and at first I  don't even know what to make eye contact with or anything but then he started scrubbing my feet with the callous remover thing and oh my god you guys? Seriously? THE CLUB COULDN'T EVEN HANDLE HIM RIGHT NOW.  

Upper body strength - 1; 17 year in a patriarchal cult - 0.

And it was like nothing for him to do it. That much force would have seen my normal pedicurist up onto her open-toed, clear-heeled, bedazzled platform pumps, putting her tiny little delicate back into it. Him? He was like tra-la-la-lala Jeff Foxworthy sure is funny NOMORECALLOUSESFORYOU tra-la-la-lala

And that's when my guard came a'tumblin' down.

Next thing I know I can't even feel my calves because they are now fucking lotus flower salt scented jello and some show that I can only guess is called Are You Smarter Than a Christian is on the tv - and I am p0wing the fucking shit out of it. I realize this whole thing is going down exactly like Misery but I can't make it stop because this crazy ass man has me by the feet and if I do not spell Nebuchadnezzar correctly in the next 15 seconds he is going to cut me. 

Did I mention I also ate kale for the first time yesterday? That's an experience I don't intend to repeat except to, like, save the world n' stuff. 

And then it was over. He applied my $24 nail polish and I learned a valuable lesson - men can and should give pedicures, but under no circumstances should you ask even the most Foxworthy-loving-combover-sporting-Hollister-wearing man to apply your $24 nail polish. My five year old son did a better job than this clown

Everyone stopped reading two hours ago, so no one is going to click that link aside:

TXU, helping his pregnant momma out. And being really adorable. 

TXU, helping his pregnant momma out. And being really adorable. 

So of course, the only way to end this night was to take myself to dinner, which ended up being me and the kids and their dad because he was just running them through the drive through for burgers on his way to bring them back to me so I invited them to join me. For Mother's Day dinner. Because Opposite Day. And then we came home and watching Mama because the only person with more delicious mommy issues than either the asshole who invented bikini waxing and Walt Disney is Guillermo del Toro, and we know how to take any holiday celebration entirely too far. This was fine, of course, until 3:27 this am when I had to go pee, so I went in the boys' bathroom because I was sleeping on the couch because I was too afraid of my daughter to go sleep next to her and right as I walked out of the washroom, my 15 year old walked out of his bedroom door.

Hilarity ensued.

The end.

This Week in Gratitude

After barely-squeaking through a week of being too sick to do much more than work and sleep - and neither of those things to any real degree of effectiveness - i have never been more grateful than I am right now for Platex Purple Plastic Dish Gloves

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I try to keep the a/c off as much as possible when the kids aren't home, because (like pimpin') a/c ain't easy. When my March electric bill, with no ramp up or warning or anything, leaps straight for the clitoris and exactly doubles itself, I find myself willing to endure a little more in-home sauna experience than usual. Which you'd know is really saying something, if you've ever smelled me in the summer.

Sex Education aside, because you totally forgot about this, didn't you? You're welcome:

My kids have pretty much been left to their own devices this week, because my skin, something inside and under both my right rib cage and right hip bone, and all the glands from my belly button up declared mutiny this week, and so there has been a lot of breakfast-cereal-with-a-side-of-Xbox for dinner which is great in an air-conditioned college dormroom, but isn't so idea inside the tandoor ovens they try to pass off as Real Estate in the Sun Valley. 

Lucky-Charms-milk left out on the counter for just two or three hours in the desert heat turns was the inspriration for The Leprechaun. Fact*. You should probably just take my word for that.

And so now it's Mother's Day, I'm off the Lance Armstrong dose of predanose, and I have a week of dishes to catch up on. Because nothing says Happy Mother's Day like opening up your dishwasher and finding all your good mugs stained damn near black from tea, and probably your mother in law's soul. 

You see, my mother in law, who I've managed to say pretty close to not a single word to since her son and I broke up once and for all, came to spend some quality grandma time with 3of3 while the boys and I hit the road for Mom 2.013. Which was very nice of her. I kind of thought the giant super fancy dishrack on the counter, the purple dish gloves hanging over the faucet, and the utter lack of dishwasher detergent in the cabinet would have been clue enough that we don't really use the dishwasher in this house, and if you leave all of your dishes in there, I'm going to find them a week later having just come off of Autoimmunopocalypse and you are going to cease being my best friend. 

It wasn't.

Maybe I should stop talking to her in smoke signals and hints and grow the fuck up.

Nah.

And so I'll be spending most of Mother's Day wearing a scrunchie and Playtex Plastic Purple Dish Gloves, scorching the last week's yuck off of our dishes, then our floors, then the laundry, and bleaching my ex-mother in law out of my Starbucks Architectural Mug collection while my not-so-little one spend the day with their father going to see Iron Man and swimming and yard-saling and doing whatever it is they do on his days with them that don't have anything to do with me anymore - so that when they get home tonight, we can just be. Together. With no distractions. Because the only Mother's Day present I need or want is to be theirs**. 

*ish.

**That, and I have the a/c set to 76 today. And I have the whole house to myself. #rebel