Adventing Things

I recently realized how insane my mother was this time of the year. Not only did she normally take on the choreography and cooking of Thanksgiving, but she also started a tradition of putting together advent calendars for my brother, myself and all of our cousins. We don’t have a huge family, but I had 6 cousins on each side. So we’re talking 14 advent calendars. If you like math, which I do, 14 kids x 25 days = 350 items.

If that doesn’t seem crazy to you, then let me explain what I went through the weekend before last shopping for Jack and his ONE-AND-ONLY-COUSIN.

First off, shopping is dumb. I like shopping sometimes, but shopping with other people around drives me bonkers. And to keep costs down on buying 50 small items I spent a good amount of time in the $1 Christmas crap aisle at the store.

Thank god Jack and Bella are at the age where most of the stuff for $1 would be cool to them. Pretty sure this advent calendar thing is going to wear out when they get to the age where smurf chapstick and a bottle of bubbles stops being exciting. Or the advent calendar will have to just convert to every day being Reese’s Trees (effing delicious FYI) day.

So anyway, picture me in a store with other people, trying to look at rows and rows of $1 shit and trying to think “mmmkay 25 girl things, 25 boy things….what things can I get one of and split between them?….do 2.5 year olds need their own bottle of hand sanitizer? Nail polish is probably a bad idea. Chapstick yes, lipstick no – what are we raising whores?”

I would grab 4 things for Bella and then 7 for Jack and then lose track of where I was. It was a mess. So anyway imagine that times 7 for what my mom was doing every year. What a mess!

Oh and after the shopping is done, it isn’t over. No, she would wrap a lot of that shit individually and, depending on the year, package it for each kid. I remember her making boxes where she would attach each item to a ribbon. Then you’d pull until that day’s present came out. Then one year, she wised up and made all of us permanent advent calendars out of fabric. Which probably made each year after that easier, but I imagine her sewing 14 fucking advent calendars and wanting to murder all of us.

I also recall that she would put together craft packages (probably Martha’s fault) where a few times during the month we would make something. Like a reindeer out of a candy cane, or a paper santa with a cotton ball hat brim and end. Perhaps this woman should have been committed?

Also she had to pull all of this off BEFORE Thanksgiving so she could put it in the mail to all the cousins.

I decided I would learn from her and go straight for the cloth advent calendar for Bella. Jack has been using mine (thanks mom!) and I actually have my brother’s (shhhh don’t tell him) so Baby Dos won’t need one either. Over the last week I have sewed and puff painted and, honestly it has been great. I feel closer to my mom for the realz and super appreciative of the magic she created for us every year.

Yesterday I parked Jack in front of the TV downstairs (YAY for parenting!) and pulled out my secret bags of advent crap so I could wrap them without his “help”. Andy made the grave mistake of saying “you know considering you are not religious, isn’t it ridiculous that you are putting together advent calendars?”. Good thing I was feeling all lovey and close to my mom and just let that one slide on by. Boys really don’t get it.

I was going to label each day, but then I realized what a pain in the ass that would be for her parents to hunt through the bag for the right day. Sure one could stuff her entire advent calendar ahead of time, but knowing how I was as a child, I would have opened that shit all at once, especially at 2.5 years old.

Jack’s cartoon ended before I could finish wrapping all of his presents. And he came upstairs asking ‘Oooo what is this? Is this my presents?’ and trying to open things. Relaxed Natalie had to tell Control Freak Natalie that it was no big deal if he saw some of his stuff. He’d forget about it all in about 5 minutes.

Anyway, Bella’s stuff is almost ready to go. I just have one last thing to finish on the calendar itself and then I have to package that shit up and mail it….in the next three days!

I e-mailed my sister-in-law to tell her she was only allowed to have 2 children otherwise there would be no advent calendars for them. My mom could maybe handle 14 kids, but I sure as hell can’t imagine doing this for more than 4 or 5. Even that feels impossible and I might have to go to the “send their parents $50 and tell them to shop for the fillers” tactic.

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You Win Some You Lose Some

I’ve been gone forever. My brain is so all over the place I can’t even decide what to tell you about.

First off I suppose – Jack is a rockstar. Thanks to superhero themed underwear, he potty trained in about two weeks! I was really surprised and completely thought it would take longer than that. We didn’t even need to do a pull-ups at night phase. Where did this awesome kid come from?

My two goals to work toward for Baby Dos’ arrival were to get him potty trained and to move him out of the crib…..so technically he is out of the crib….but by technically I mean he is back in bed with me/us. Meh, you win some you lose some.

He was actually sleeping just fine on a mattress on his floor for several months until one week he decided sleeping more than an hour at a time alone was not for him. Now as a pregnant person I was at the point where having him in bed with me was the path of least resistance. After the first night, getting him back into his own bed became harder and harder and I became less willing to fight him over it. Soon “i need to sleep downstairs” was said every night.

My midwife said the same thing happened with her oldest son. He moved back into her bed when she was pregnant, but when the baby arrived and disturbed older brother’s beauty sleep, he quickly moved back to his own room. So I choose to believe this issue will solve itself….or we will just forever be that weird hippie family bed people that make the rest of your parents uncomfortable.

I swear this is not a hippie thing at this point. It is an “I need my precious sleep and am too surrounded by pillows to notice another person in the bed with me anyway” type thing. Besides, like I said – fully potty trained totally wins against sleeping in a big boy bed….and if we’re being technical, he IS sleeping in a big boy bed, it just so happens to be our big boy bed. Meh whatever. Win some you lose some.

Another update with a similar theme is money. I decided to stop our extra retirement savings to help free up some money for life. Things were just getting ridiculously tight. It was the end of a long month, we were down to eating ramen noodles and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner (like not at the same time, that would be too fancy) and I looked at our bank accounts. I realized we were allocating about $400 in additional retirement savings (besides our Roths and 401Ks), yet I had to figure out how to avoid a grocery store visit for another 3 nights. So I decided it was time to give us a break.

Of course then a few weeks after the cancellation on those withdrawls was finalized we found out our clay sewer pipe finally gave up the ghost. Really universe? I mean the upside is, now I don’t have that combined with those extra payments, but seriously?

Meh, again, I guess you win some you lose some. I suspect in a few months when we recover from sewer pipe replacement I will reflect on how everything happened as it should…or something like that. I can tell you that after two days of being a sweaty (yes I am sweaty even in cool Fall weather), leaky pregnanty lady, a shower at any cost feels worth it.