Random Saturdays – Welcome Holidays!

The holiday season is here!  If you’re old like me, you find yourself saying, once again, “I can’t believe it’s already November.  Where did the year go?”  If you love the holiday season like me, you are also excited that the holiday season is here.  Canada has already celebrated Thanksgiving, and Halloween and Election Day have just passed in the U.S.  The next big U.S. holiday is, of course, Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is also the birthday season in my world.  From October – March it’s a non-stop birthday celebration.  I used to be one of the few summer birthday people that I knew.  Now that I’m married, half of the family have birthdays during birthday season, and the other half of the family has birthdays in the summer.  I’ve always felt sorry for people who had birthdays around the holidays because their birthdays are overshadowed by the big holidays, especially if you’re born around Christmastime.  That’s why I try to make a point of giving separate Christmas and birthday presents to Christmas babies.  Plus, there are so many great sales during the holiday season that it should be easier to shop for holiday season babies.

Oh and shopping.  There’s the neverending fight between shopping vs. meaningful holidays.  I really don’t think that they are mutually exclusive.  I believe you just have to be aware of the meaning in holidays and you have to try to share that meaning with others when you are giving gifts.  This is especially tricky with kids because they are naturally inclined to just want stuff, lots and lots of stuff.  If we don’t teach them to be grateful for what they have and to think about what they can give and do for others, then they turn into ungrateful adults who have the nerve to think they can actually criticize gifts given to them and favors done for them.  That is the type of attitude that kills the holiday spirit and turns everything into a debate about the “true” meaning of any given holiday in a bad way.

This was our first holiday season together. The kids are about twice the size as they were then. My stomach is about twice the size s it was then. (From left to right: Dora, Lego, Ben, Minecraft)


I am American and I celebrate Thanksgiving.  I love the food.  I love time off from work.  I love spending time with my family and friends. When I plan Thanksgiving at my house, I always try to do it as low key as possible, but then find myself stressing myself out by trying to cook everything perfectly and make the house look immaculate.  I do it to myself.  Not once has anyone ever criticized me for not having enough food, the right food, a dirty home, ugly decorations, etc.  It’s all in my head.  With the kids, I’m trying to be more aware of that and remember that if I stress myself out over this crap that doesn’t matter, then they will learn to stress themselves out over crap that doesn’t matter as well.  Just as bad, they may start stressing others out about crap that doesn’t matter and think they are entitled to criticize the cooking and entertaining abilities of others.  So, I’m trying not to pass stress and judgement on to my kids.

Then there’s Christmas.  Let me say now that I am not Crhstian but I do celebrate Christmas.  I grew up Christian, spent many years in a crisis of faith, and have finally found myself in a good spiritual place, the details of which I am not going to delve into during this post.  I celebrate Christmas because it’s what I grew up with and it represents a time of giving and spending time with loved ones for me.  When I had the Great Santa Claus Crisis around the age of 10, my mother told me that she believed in Santa Claus because he was the spirit of giving.  So, no matter how old you were, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  No matter how much or how little you got in your stocking, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  I decided to adopt that belief as my own.

We just had the kids write their letters to Santa because we won’t see them much in November and we wanted to make sure that Santa had plenty of time to get their letters.  They asked for some surprising gifts, but also had interesting conversations with Santa.  Dora was concerned that Santa might not like the milk and cookies she wants to leave for him.  Minecraft told Santa that if he were lucky, he would get cookies and milk.  Lego just wanted to know if Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing okay up in the North Pole.  They all decorated their letters with colorful pictures and included phrases like, “Santa’s #1!”  Three years ago, their letters to Santa just told Santa what they wanted.  It might not seem like much, but to see their thought processes go from “Here’s what I want,” to “How are you. Here’s what I might do for you.  I think you’re great!” is pretty cool.  They also helped each other write their letters, with no help from Ben or me.  We did have to get onto them once for arguing over marker colors, but they worked together well otherwise.  Now, I can add cooperation, mental growth, and emotional growth to the great things that Santa represents for me.

As I typed this, it was about 6:30 AM and I had been awake for three hours with a terrible headache.  The kids were just picked up for school by their bio-mom and Ben had just left for work.  The cat was running circles around the house, chasing invisible toys.  The Excedrin has moved from making my head a bit numb to making me rather dizzy and the cat has begun her grooming routine, signaling that she is ready to curl up with me for her morning nap.  I’m going to take the cat’s advice to end this post and get some rest.  I hope that you are as excited about the holiday season as I am and that it holds as much meaningful promise for you as it does for me.  Happy Holidays!

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Random Saturdays – Random Saturdays

As I write this, I am working on a Saturday morning, or rather, waiting for someone else to do his job so that I can finish working.  We have on-call rotations at work and this is my week.  It used to not be a big deal.  It was usually a matter of logging in, working for 15 – 30 minutes, and logging off.  You maybe got five calls during the whole week.  Now, it is a nightmare.  We all dread it.  Just because of the organization of the company, being on-call has become a thing that we all hate.  I think the company should start giving a week’s worth of valium to each person as she rolls into on-call.

Surprisingly, Ben is the one who got the 4 AM wakeup call this morning.  He’s not on-call;  he’s backup on-call.  For his company and his team, that really means that he’s on-call.  So, he got up this morning and went into the office at home to work.  Needless to say, he wanted to sleep in more than me this morning.

Oh, and the kids.  They’re not on-call, but they are busy little buggers.  Dora is in cheer.  Lego is in basketball.  Minecraft is in football.  Normally, I’d be excited about this, but since they live so far away, our weekends have been eaten up with driving them to all of their games.  Let me remind you that they live over an hour away from us.  So, some of the games they have at other school are even further than that.  Today, we have a football game from 2 PM – 4 PM and then we have a basketball game at 5 PM.  So, we’ll be spending the entire day driving out to Nowheresville, shuttling 3 kids between two games.  Then we have to drive exhausted and sweaty kids back home.  We also need to make sure they do homework at some point this weekend.

Ben and I are also on-call during all of this.  *STRESS*

Also, per the divorce papers, the kids’ mom can decide that she doesn’t want to take them to games or practices if, for example, she decides to plan one of the kid’s birthday parties at the same time.  We do not have that choice.  Per the papers, we have to take the kids to every practice and game, even if the kid is so sick that he can barely stand.  This was decided after Ben tried to appeal a few times.  This is what the courts think is best for the kids, I guess.

It’s really difficult to make any plans when you have no idea what will be going on.  They changed the times of Minecraft’s game at least five times in the past two weeks.  Lego knows he has a game today, but had no idea what time it was or where it was.  Once again, since we’re not the primary caregivers and we live so far away, it’s harder for us to stay in the loop on the kids’ schedules.  We end up being the annoying parents who text coaches constantly to verify the information.  Then, we have to bring phones and laptops to the games in case we get calls.  Lately, because of the weather in North Texas, we also have to deal with whatever last minute crazy weather is thrown at us.  The other day, we had to flee from a pending tornado, and thankfully missed the tornado that we were driving towards.

I wish we could just take the kids up the street to the local schools and enjoy a weekend in our neighborhood with the kids.  I wish that most of our time with the kids wasn’t spent driving.  I wish that I didn’t have to hear comments from the kids like, “Oh, you’re working again?  You’re always working.”  If I did hear comments like that, it’d be nice if I actually had a comeback like, “Well, if you want to live in this big house and wear designer clothes and have your stepmom be one of the only female CEOs in the tech industry, then I’m going to have to continue to work and I wish you would be more patient and understanding with me.”  No, no.  I have to say, “Yes, I’m sorry, and by the way, we can’t afford to do anything else since all of this driving is eating up money on fuel.  So, I’m sorry that I have to work again and your dad and I still can’t afford to get you a new desk that won’t collapse on you or new clothes to keep up with your growth spurts.”  It makes you feel like a terrible parent, a bad person, and a horrible employee all in one go.  Ben and I both feel completely hopeless in so many regards when it comes to the kids.

Still, I’m glad the kids have found activities that they enjoy, even if I wonder how much they enjoy them with some of the lack of interest they show the day of the games.  I’m glad that I do have a job that allows me to drive across the state to go to the kids’ games.  I’m glad that I don’t have to drive into work if I get a call, which is what my dad always had to do when I was a kid.  I’m grateful for any time I do get with the kids.  Not having much say over how we spend time with the kids makes me grateful for any bit of freedom we do get.  I’m thankful that Ben understands my work situation and doesn’t make me feel any more guilty any time I have to choose work over the kids.  We just have to take what we can get sometimes.

Stuff People Say – Princess Ear

I wanna be a princess! I wanna be a princess!  I wanna be a princess!

–sung by Dora repeatedly for 10 minutes straight, until…
*commotion, tears, and yelling*

I don’t wanna be a princess no more ’cause I keeped saying, ‘I wanna be a princess,’ and then I fell and busted my ear and need a bandaid now.

–Dora, our clumsy and logical lil girl

Random Saturdays – Food Love

I recently decided to try subscribing to Love with Food.  Each month, you get a box of snacks sent to you along with coupons and information on that month’s charity.  With every food box sold, the company donates one meal to feed the hungry.  Considering that similar snacks sell in the vending machines at work for around $2, the price and cause make the monthly Love with Food box very reasonable.  Honestly, I liked some of the snacks better than others, but that’s another plus of the food box.  You can try things without committing to jumbo bags of something that you might not like.

September was the Smarty Pants Tasting Box.  Like I said, it was hit and miss, but here’s what I thought:

  • Adult Complete Pack by Smarty Pants – These were gummy vitamins, but since they had gelatin and I don’t really like gummies, I didn’t try them.  I gave one to Dora and one to Lego and they liked them.  You have to eat like, 6 gummies to get your daily dose of vitamins.  So, it might be a better option for kids, who need smaller doses.  For now, I’ll stick to my regular multivitamins and supplements.
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple by Bear Naked – Delicious!  I tried it alone and stirred into some Chobani Pumpkin Yogurt (bought separately).  Brilliant combination!
  • Mini Peanut Butter Clutter by JimmyBar! – This made me feel like I was eating a very fancy fig bar without the cakey part.  It wasn’t too sweet, not hard, not gloopy.  I was impressed.
  • Cookie Thins (Cake Batter OR Chocolate Chip) by Mrs. Thinsters – I had Cake Batter flavor in my box and they were super delicous!  The cookies were crisp, thin, vanilla-y, and buttery.  They may have been too buttery because they left a bunch of butter on my fingers.  I told myself that made the cookies healthy, since I wasn’t ingesting all of  those calories.
  • Pretzel Crisps® Gluten Free Original Minis by Snack Factory® – I have had these before, but not the gluten free variety.  They were very crunchy, but had a weird aftertaste.  I’ll stick to regular pretzel crisps, but this seems like a good alternative for people with celiac’s disease.
  • Cheddar n’ Stuff SUPER CRACKERS by Funley’s Delicious – The package says the crackers have broccoli in them, but that you won’t be able to tell.  They are yummy and they are cheesy.  I didn’t taste broccoli, but I tasted a deeper flavor than what you’d expect with a cheddar cheese cracker.  I’d buy them in the store, for sure.
  • Harvest Snaps Snapea by Calbee – These were the most surprising item in the box.  They tasted like fancy potato chips.  I don’t mean fancy potato chips with crazy flavors or anything, just the kind of potato chips you find in the organic section of the grocery store, you know, preservative free, “organic”, blah blah blah.  I had no idea that peas could taste like potato chips!
  • Fruit Snacks by YumEarth – These were yummy and cute.  While I don’t like gummies much, I do like fruit snacks, but I don’t eat them.  Dora and Lego are supposed to avoid fruit snacks because they already have tooth problems, so I didn’t feel bad eating these.  They were good and a nice snack, but I don’t think I’ll add them to my regular grocery store trips any time soon.

If you’re looking to try a food subscription, this is a nice one to try.  I’m pretty happy with the results, so I’m going to keep my subscription.  In fact, I think I’ll go ahead and do the year subscription for the biggest discount.

Stuff People Say – No Worries

To preface, Dora is my new codename for Ben’s daughter.  His boys will be Lego and Minecraft and everyone who knows them will know why.

Angela (to Dora and Lego) — Can you both go brush your teeth, please?

Dora — Yeah, I gonna brush all over all my teeth!

Angela — That’s good.  That’s exactly what you should do.

[I have a five minute conversation with Dora about Ben, showering, getting ready, brushing your teeth, and who can shower/get ready in which order.  Lego is silent the whole time.]

Angela — I really need to take my shower now.  Your dad is getting ready and will be out in a minute.  Will you please go brush your teeth now?

Dora — Don’t worry about it, Lego.  Let’s just go brush our teeth.