How My Kids Brought Back The Magic Of Christmas

There comes a time in all of our lives when childhood begins to wane and, along with it, the magic and belief in Santa. I remember the hollow sadness accompanying the realization that Christmas would never be the same again. I knew I’d never again look up in the sky on Christmas Eve and feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end at the possibility of seeing a sleigh dart past the stars. I knew I’d never again awaken in the middle of the night to the sounds of crinkling paper and jingle bells, my heart pounding with exhilaration and fear

And then, just recently, I found myself turned completely around in the car, wagging a pointed finger at my kids in the backseat with a reindeer-shit-eatin’ grin on my face, singing along with the radio, “You better be good for goodness sake!” in that classic mom fashion that would have made my teen self cringe.

At that moment, something clicked, and I was taken aback by this sudden jolt of merry rocking my system. As I slowly turned forward in my seat again, mouth agape, I realized what had happened:

I felt it. I felt the magic again.

Excited to be up on Scary Mommy again tonight! Head on over to check out the rest of this post!

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How to Survive the Apocalypse with Kids

A few nights ago as I began to drift to sleep, my husband sat up in bed and turned to me. “Do we have a meeting place?” he asked. “You know, like if there’s an apocalypse.”

While I made a mental note to cancel the alien show from our DVR, I began to wonder what an apocalypse would really look like for our family — mostly, what my chances of survival would be should I ever have to traverse a post-apocalyptic terrain on foot with three small children.

Could I bring the double stroller? Would there be diapers? What if my two-year-old started doing that thing where she throws herself on the floor and screams for 15 minutes and an alien/zombie/violent looter was nearby? So many questions…

Are there still Cheerios in the apocalypse? Here’s the thing: one of my kids is allergic to almost everything edible, one is a baby with four teeth, and the other will not touch any kind of meat with a 3-foot foam sword. My children have proven they would rather eat dryer lint than a steak dinner, so if we have to start hunting bunnies that aren’t made of cheddar, we’ll be moving into hangry-mode before you can say, “You don’t have to eat ALL the squirrel! Just try one bite!” We’ll have to at least get some kind of sharp cutting implement — for protection, for hunting, and for halving grapes. I feel confident no one will want to eat my children if times get tough, since they probably taste like plain noodles and obstinacy, but we’ll have to figure out how to smuggle crackers or something because the attitudes that flare when they haven’t eaten in more than two hours? WATCH. OUT. My son could catch an entire plague of locusts on his outstretched bottom lip.

How will we carry all our stuff? The meeting place suggested by my husband is about three miles from our house and in the middle of the woods. With the baby in a carrier on my chest and an overstuffed diaper bag slung around my shoulder, I’ll have to bank on the adrenaline rush triggered by the fear of face-eating zombies to rally through the pain of my collarbone caving under the weight. If my four-year-old is walking, he’ll make it ten minutes before his pockets are weighted down by all the rocks and garbage — I mean, treasure — he picks up along the way, at which point he’ll sit down in the grass and stare at the sky until Jesus waves to him from a cloud (or until we bribe him with cookies). If my two-year-old is on foot, she will run for as long as I can convince her she’s an airplane and then cry until I “hold her like a baby” the rest of the way. We’ll also have to bring the stuffed monkey, so many cuppies of water, and approximately 7,000 diapers. I can at least count on not having to carry wipes because I swear I forget the freaking wipes every time.

Where will we go? The meeting place is presumably only the first step along our road to survival — the place we meet my husband. On a standard day, I’d have already made several frantic calls to his office to say the sky is falling and he should hurry home, so if it really happens I’ll have to up my ante so he knows I’m serious. By the time he arrives, then takes his usual sweet time peeing and changing out of his work clothes, I’ll have had time to finalize a plan. My first instinct would be to get out of the suburbs, ’cause you know the entire city is heading this way to fill their packs with our bottled fizzy water and to convert our Pottery Barn cribs into makeshift guerilla zombie blinds. We can’t go to the country because most of them have been mastering their shotgun aim since they were knee-high to an alien predator. Can’t go too far south because every time we go to a Mexican restaurant, my kids accidentally offend 8 percent of the world’s population by saying “Olaf!” as a greeting. The answer? Head for the nearest Target. We always blend in there.

How will we stay alive? My husband is a brilliant man, but his idea of “working with his hands” is mastering three monitors with a single keyboard, so he’d probably be the first to die. My kids and I would be useless in building a shack without popsicles. Moreover, if there is any type of killer virus floating around, we’d be among the first to start oozing eyeball blood — we catch EVERYTHING. My kids are afraid of strangers, spraying water, and that cat in Cinderella, so if someone (or something) attacked us, our best chance would be to play dead. Then again, asking my children to lay down and be quiet is like asking the four horsemen of the apocalypse to live-Tweet their ride into town, so perhaps we’ll just hope for a divinely-inspired early exit — like in that Kirk Cameron rapture movie where some people get to ditch their clothes and skip straight to heaven. Am I the only one who’s seen that?

“So in the event of an apocalypse, we don’t even really need a plan,” I sighed to my husband, my head falling back on the pillow. “Our family might as well bend over and kiss our needy, suburban asses goodbye.”

We turned off the lights, but my mind wouldn’t quiet. Who are we, after all? We already live off everyone else’s discarded food scraps, function on minimal sleep, and never shy from getting our hands dirty. I carry basic living essentials like hand sanitizer, scissors, and Barbie Band-Aids in my bag every day. Plus, just ask my baby-toting biceps how strong I’ve gotten these past few years.

We’ve survived colic, for crying out loud!

The light flicked back on as I shot up in bed, pointed a determined finger at my husband, and kissed him square on his needy, suburban mouth. “See you in the woods!”

In Defense of Kid-Craft Walls

For those of you following our story, I’m so excited to tell you that we have found our dream home. It’s everything we had hoped for, and we’re counting the days until we get to move in. We know the sellers, too, so it was only moderately embarrassing when our kids made themselves at home the first time we toured it by immediately throwing rocks off the deck. Hello, new neighbors! You’re going to love us!

We’re still two months from closing, so we have the luxury of packing at our own pace. This is both a blessing and a curse for someone like me because now I get to agonize over all the memories attached to the clutter we’ve stuffed into every nook and cranny these past three years — this single baby boy shoe that’s been lost for ages, the old sticker charts documenting new words spoken, homemade games that have been broken and lost pieces but still stir up nostalgia remembering the joyous 18 minutes we played with each.

Pulling me out of my sentimental haze is the anticipation of getting to decorate our new home. As years-long renters, we’ve never been able to choose paint colors or window treatments. Having married and gotten knocked up five minutes out of college, we’ve never had the extra money to spend on “nice” wall-hangings, furniture that isn’t hand-me-down, or upgrading out of the self-assembled Swedish fare. We’ve always told ourselves that it wasn’t worth the money to decorate a temporary space, but rather we should save up for the real thing since we had no way of knowing what style or space we’d be dealing with.

And so I have decorated our walls the only way I could. Rather, I let the kids do it:

Noodle art, puff balls, and enough paper plates to host 79 toddler birthday parties.

I realize this is neither soothing nor aesthetically pleasing to the untrained eye. But these walls have evolved over time, telling our family’s stories and charting our children’s growth.

For instance, guests may walk into our kitchen and see nothing but a piece of paper covered in jungle stickers; I see a hesitant 18-month-old boy passing time as his mommy nurses his brand new sister on their first day home from the hospital. It took far longer than either of us anticipated, and so the stickers began to overlap and diminish all the white space as time drew on. I see that picture and I feel his patience, feel the guilt that crept into my heart that day. I look at that picture and remind myself of the sweet beauty that came out of the apprehension and nerves that day. I see my baby growing into a boy, able for the first time to command the stickers in his clumsy fingers.

At some point, we graduated from single crafts to duplicates as Baby Sister earned her glue-and-sequins badge.

At some point, we graduated from single crafts to duplicates as Baby Sister earned her glue-and-marker rights.

Friends may see splotches of paint, where I see progress as little hands grew and the tools they used became more sophisticated — from crude finger swipes to a rubber duck whose head became a handle while its body became a makeshift stamp when dunked into paint. I see where we graduated from foam brushes swiping through a single color to the intricacy of having to rinse and dab a paintbrush before moving to a new well of color in a tray of many.

This looks like it came straight out of a Pottery Barn catalogue if you’re drunk enough.

There are handprints and footprints for every occasion, decorated as reindeer and ghosts and fishies and turkeys. They may all look the same to you, but I know which chubby little fingers belong to each child, and I remember the painstaking effort it took to dangle those tiny kicking feet above a canvas, trying to make a clean print. I see the smudges that inevitably encircle each and laugh at my naivety — the nerve of a rookie mother, thinking she can expect perfection.

Antlers are hard.

A friend recently introduced me to the teachings of famous de-clutterer Marie Kondo, and as I begin the great purge that precedes a move to a new house, I’ve found success in thanking every thing for its service before tossing it in the can. There’s something about these walls of crafts, though, that ping the little hoarder center of my brain. Perhaps a blog post in their honor is my own way of thanking them, and one day soon I’ll be able to recognize that my kitchen is not a preschool and it’s time to part ways.

Soon I will be living in 50 shades of Restoration Hardware gray, blissfully ensconced in the grown-up decor we’ve been dreaming of. And I know I can take photos and even pack these crafties up to take with us if I can’t get a grip and pitch it all if I’m so inclined. But for now, I’m content to sip my tepid coffee in a room that matches my state of mind: haphazard and busy, but full of love and color — and largely overwhelmed by the shmears of young children.

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