Word of the Year

I was watching Louis C.K. the other night. My favorite thing about him as a comedian is that he has the ability to say things very clearly in a way that makes you listen. He said “Life is amazing. And it’s really short.” Maybe it was the late hour (9:30pm on a Thursday is now the equivalent of 4:30 am on a Saturday to me) or the beer I had after dinner, but that really struck me. He is totally right. Life is short, none of us know exactly how short until it’s too late to do anything about it, and it is really, really awesome. And I let way too much of it pass me by without appreciating it.

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My lovely and talented friend Deb Stone introduced me to the idea of a word for the year. Instead of making a list of resolutions, you pick a word for the year and incorporate it into your life in any form it takes. I love this idea and think it is a better way of going into the year, with a word as your guide rather than a list of things I want to change about myself. Because, if I am being really honest, I don’t think I am changing too much. A resolution isn’t going to magically transform me into a person who always flosses before bed and who loves to do squat lunges. But a word is something I can get behind. A word has meaning, can be adaptive and open to interpretation across many aspects of my life. A word is its definition and all of its connotations combined. A word is as simple or complex as you need it to be.

My word for the year is Presence. I spend way too much of my life with my head somewhere else. I daydream, check out, worry, dwell instead of taking notice of the moment I am in. I don’t want to miss the life I was given. I will never have this time again, this specific time with my kids at these ages, having these experiences, and I know when I am an old lady sitting on my porch drinking green tea and yelling at the neighbors to get their cat out of my yard, that these are the times I will long for again. I think it is only fair that I honor this life by giving it my full attention. Somewhere along the way in adulthood, I have lost my sense of wonder. I think by being present I will find my way back to appreciating the world I have been blessed to live in.

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I haven’t worked out all the details yet of how I am going to adopt my word, but that is the beauty of a word for the year, it is an evolving process. I have picked out a mantra to help bring me back to the here and now when I find my mind wondering down a tunnel of what if: “Be here now.” Because here is wonderful and now is all we have for sure. I hope you all have a fantastic year ahead of you.

What is your word for the year?

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Harry, the Laziest Elf on the Shelf Ever

I never planned on getting on the Elf of the Shelf bandwagon. It seemed too cutesy for me and honestly, that wide-eyed elf face creeps me the eff out. But one day a few weeks ago the kids were fighting over what to watch on TV. David was watching Spongebob and Benny kept turning off the TV. David would get up and scream at Ben for turning it off. Then Ben turned the TV off again and laughed. Then David did his high-pitched whiny thing he does when he is really frustrated and and screamed “Benny stop it!” before turning the TV on again. Periodically, I would yell from the kitchen, where I was trying to prepare the 300th meal of the day, to stop touching the TV. I think i even said something like the button would wear out from being pushed so much and that I wouldn’t buy a new TV if they broke it. They didn’t care and after this loop of annoyance was repeated over and over, I lost it.

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Tell me this isn’t the stuff nightmares are made of.
Photo courtesy of http://www.elfontheshelf.com

 

“That’s it!” I yelled, stomping my way to the living room. “I am sick of you guys not listening to me. I called Santa and he is sending an elf to watch you and tell him if you are being bad!” Because nothing says Christmas like threatening your children with a permanent spot on the naughty list.

“Santa is sending us an elf?”David said, his eyes lit with glee. “Can I see the elf? When is he coming?” I hadn’t anticipated his excitement since I didn’t exactly frame this elf thing in a positive light, but David was excited. Benny just looked at me and then hucked a train across the room.

So the elf came and we read the book and picked a name (Harry) and set him on the shelf. And it worked like magic. Every time the kids started to fight over a toy, I would see David look up at the shelf, and then hand his brother whatever piece of plastic they were about to come to blows over. Throughout the next few days, David chattered happily about all the good things Harry was going to tell Santa. Everything was going according to plan, except for one thing–I didn’t realize how much involvement this stinking elf would require of me. I’m supposed to move this stone faced little freak all over my house each night. But I can’t just stick him on the couch and be done with it, it’s supposed to be getting into mischief. Now I barely have enough room in my brain to remember to feed the dog twice (okay once, but it’s a super big bowl) a day, how am I supposed to come up with 24 fun and original scenes of elfin adventures?

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Seriously people, can we lower the bar a little?
Photo courtesy of crazyloucreations.blogspot.com

 

On day three, David woke up and ran into the living room. His face fell as he looked at the shelf and at Harry sitting exactly as he was the day before. “Hey, Harry didn’t move!”David yelled. “I thought he was magic.” Leave it to me to introduce a heartwarming and cherished Christmas tradition just to crush it three days in. In my defense, I fall asleep putting my kids to bed most nights. It’s not like I should be expected to stay awake past 8:30pm just to move a stupid elf around the house.

Thinking quickly, and having enough introspection to know that Harry would be sitting on that shelf for many more mornings to come, I said, “David! Can you believe it? Santa sent us a lazy elf! Harry is so lazy he doesn’t even move.” David looked at me and the rumpled his eyebrows.

“Mom, our elf is so lazy! Santa is going to be so mad at you Harry!” David said, pointing at the wrongly accused elf. I couldn’t help smiling to myself and thinking how lucky David is to have such a smart mom. Now David is happy when Harry is found in a different spot in the house (I did manage to hid him in the pile of laundry on the couch and in a bag of pretzels) or if he is still on the shelf. So the moral of the story is to know yourself, your limitations and abilities, and have a clever excuse at the ready to explain away any of your shortcomings.

Are you an Elf on the Shelf over-achiever or slacker?

Merry Christmas!

Jamie’s Jargon: The Resurrection

Well here I am at the close of another year, hair greasy from the lack of a shower, house smelling faintly of onion and burnt tire after the dog was assaulted by a skunk last night, and a pile of dirty dishes waiting in the sink. So, obviously nothing has really changed for me in the last year, which should make the lack of blog posts easier to come to terms with. I know, you have all been wondering what I have been up to the last twelve months. While staring into your slightly mushy bowl of cornflakes you may have found yourself thinking “I wonder how big  the pile of laundry on Jamie’s couch is?” or “I wonder if Benny and David are sleeping in there own beds yet?” or “I wonder how many times Jamie had to clean up vomit from the crevasses of the car seat?” The answers to your questions are huge, no, and too many to count. Side note: I have discovered that the best way to rid your car of the smell of curdled milk after your two-year-old rage barfs all over the backseat is diluted white vinegar. You’re welcome. And now we are all caught up!

Seriously though, everything I just wrote is completely true and a pretty good summary of the year. Life as a housewife is redundant and, if you are lucky, the household crises  don’t rise above the level of expelled bodily fluids or waking up at 5:30am because your son has decided the become partially nocturnal and wants to rise before the sun. We made it through another year happy, healthy, and (mostly) sane. And for that I am endlessly grateful.

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Look, we all held still long enough to get a picture without a blurred head (David and Ben) or a half-closed eye and open mouth (Me). It’s a Christmas miracle!

I am going to write a more extensive post in the next few days about what I am working towards in the New Year. Not resolutions so much as prioritizing those things that are important to me but that get pushed aside for the daily grind of parenthood. One thing I can share now–I am writing with intention and part of that will include regular updates to this blog. So I am hoping you are looking forward to hearing a lot more from me. See, it’s like I just gave you all a virtual Christmas present!