Holiday Smiles and Silly Families

In addition to being the week before Thanksgiving (yay) this is also the week that people in my extended family start Christmas shopping. (Not me, I’m busy cooking/working two jobs/raising three kids/you know, stuff) But that does mean that everybody wants the kid’s Christmas lists. This works for me, as a kid extended family (ie people who you see two times per year) would never have a clue enough about my personality, likes, dislikes, or shoe size, to actually get me anything I wanted/could wear/would use. As a grown up, this means we can spend those weeks in December returning crap, or (the option I prefer) actually hanging around/getting to know (this year’s version) of those family members. So each of the moms makes a list, and then emails it to everyone. Honestly, this is usefully for those of us who see kiddies all the time but can’t keep in their head their own kid’s shoe sizes, much less other people’s.  These lists were started when I was in high school by one of my aunts. What is less helpful (IMO) is that these lists became like a newsletter of sorts. You know “Tilly Mae is now a Junior in High School and is {of course} still making straight As. She enjoys volunteering at the local homeless shelter, and has time to do that despite her busy school/band/choir schedule due to the fact that her father and I decided we prefer to fund her activities {because they made $100s of thousands of dollars per year and could do whatever} rather than her having an afterschool job. She recently won an award for Excellence on the Field {which was awarded as a participation award, I remember asking her} with her soccer team this year as they made their way to the season finals {no mention that they got in as an alternate}Go Eagles! She has always been a joy to us and we approach her last two years before college with the mixed feelings of those who are as proud and blessed as we and will miss her terribly.” This is the same cousin who that year I caught smoking pot on the front stoop of my mother’s house while everyone was inside. They would go on and on, these newsletters, and then have a list at the end of overpriced gifts none of us could afford to purchase.  So when I started making lists for mine I will put a brief “Hey, how are ya’ll” at the beginning and make applicable personal comments in the actual lists. I mean, if you mail (on red or green paper, natch) or email me a 3 page diatribe, what will we talk about when we all get together, right? So I sent out our list yesterday, after 2 request texts (one while I was at work) and then a reminder text a day later. I have since then been told that I should share my letter here, because “this is cracking me the fuck up” as I was told.  So I have changed actual personal info using {brackets and fake names}, but figured, what the hell? Hope it makes you giggle a little this morning as well…

Back by popular demand! A Christmas list (or maybe just inspiration guide) for the kiddos here. Thank you in advance for sending me your kiddo’s list as well (ahem) if applicable. We are looking forward to seeing everyone around Christmas time this year! If we haven’t gotten together and nailed down a time, please text/call me/email me/send carrier pigeon/something. I really am hoping to see all of ya’ll soon (& force you to take home copious amounts of baked goods), so let me know. Also, since this stuff ends up changing all the time (are some of you trying to be cyber anonymous? Or perhaps you just don’t like Christmas cards? 😉 ) My contact info is listed here, please reply with any updates of your own. I did try to make this list as clear as possible, but since you don’t have the benefit of being inside my head (lucky you!) let me know if anything requires further clarification. I asked the kids to be cost conscious when making their lists (some are better than others, as you will see) feel free to ignore overpriced items or donate towards them. Again, I feel, and am (still) trying to convey that the getting to see family and friends, the fellowship of the season, celebrating a  birthday, and the joy of giving are Christmas, not who got what from whom. Please, keep that in mind as you go about shopping this year. We love you and are truly looking forward to seeing you.


Address: {you may send an e-card, but I prefer no strange visitors, that I’m not related to}

Cell Phone: {also, do not call me}

Email to phone (ie you want me to read it NOW-in important & capital letters):


Email to computer (ie you have attached things & want me to be able to see them on a nice eye soothing full screen, and it can wait till I get home & put people to bed-or the weekend):

Email at work (ie we are almost sending an IM, but with links & it is happening Monday through Friday 8:45am to 4:45pm EST): {ormyworkemailnosey}  or {alsonot thisone}

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!!  (yes I am excited, time for dancing, I do believe…)


BoyChild I:

Plasma Nebula Ball (a link here:  Doesn’t have to be this one, this is an example of one.)

Legos (Esp, Star Wars)

Lava lamp in black, green, blue (or another “soothing” color)

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Tennis Shoes (size 7 ½ Men’s) Because he keeps 1 pair at school for gym & wears out tennis shoes fast!

Money towards the purchase of a Nintendo DS (his broke & he is trying to save enough to replace it)

I just replaced all of BoyChild I’s clothes (since he grew 6in & gained 28lbs over the summer!) So he is good on clothes right now (give it till say, February & then he’ll be naked again lol)

Bathrobe Boy’s XL or Men’s S (size 14 in boys clothing)

Stress Balls (he goes through these during the school year)

Pair of sturdy work gloves (for outdoors work/gardening/etc) Men’s S

Giant Floor/Body Pillow in dark green, navy or khaki (please not white-he really is going to lay on this in the floor! Or Dark brown-Will has one in that color & it’d be best to keep them identifiably separate. Lol)

Books (Enjoys genres/reading level like: Red Wall series, A Series of Unfortunate Events series, Percy Jackson series, Hardy Boys series, lots of fantasy/mystery/adventure)


BoyChil II:


Books (Enjoys genres/reading level like: Flat Stanley series, BFG & other Roald Dahl books, Captain Underpants, Boxcar Children, any funny books, he is not a fan of fantasy/mystery or adventure-ugh, I know- there is a great list here: )

Playground Ball

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Pillow Pet (specifically the Dream Lites Snuggly Puppy)

Huge Ben 10 & any “classic” superhero (Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk, Flash, Wolverine, you get the idea) fan

BoyChild II spends a lot of time pretending to be one of the above, any “props” or costume pieces would also be great ideas as those things get worn out fairly quickly around here & he & K-man are constantly running around in ½ costume & creating sound effects/destroying bay guys/etc.

Bike Hemet (Children’s M)

BoyChild II is also good on clothing (what with all the hand-me-downs)



iPod Touch (or money towards her saving up for one)

Cookie Monster, Elmo, or Oscar Snapbacks with a flat bill. (I think these are hats, but I’m not nearly hip enough to know what that is exactly)

Studded Belts (any color/pattern/etc) Size Women’s M

1in curling iron


Sports Bras (34C or Women’s M)

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Books (Enjoys genres like: Twilight series, Undead and Underemployed series, YA romance-please be content aware, Mom thanks you-, Flipped, “girl power” type stories)

Jeans size 5 or 6

GirlChild just got a new bed that is a twin with a twin sized trundle, all of her bed linens (in addition to being horrifyingly-her words- childish)are double bed sized. She still likes pink, purple, green, yellow, etc, just doesn’t want to sleep with her fairy/Bratz/Princess blankets anymore. Any contribution would be welcomed, even gift cards to Target to pick out her own.


Merry Christmas all!



Do you have (or have you received) Christmas lists/newsletters/ etc this year? Maybe one from years past? Do share; I would love a chuckle as well. Hope you have great weekend!


Self Esteem, Storm Troopers and Losing

This is something I have always thought was ridiculous. But with it having been all over the web recently with articles like this, and the commencement address at the beginning of summer I haven’t said anything, most of it’s already been said. I only posted to Twitter the ridiculousness of BC II winning a certificate of Achievement for  (not making this up) Confidence. At lunch. At the end of the school year award ceremony. What?! He thought it was silly too. His words, “I’ve always been confident at lunch. It’s something I’ve always been good at. You know, eating, so I am confident, but it’s not like I got better at it. Weird, huh, Mom?” He and I talked about how he would rather of not gotten an award at all if it was going to be something like that. I did ask him if it was fun to get an award, instead of no award. He said, “No. Mom, it’d be like if we had a race and everyone won. That’s not a race, the real winner doesn’t get to celebrate ’cause it wasn’t special. That’d be lame. Then no one would want to race.”

But this week, I’m planning yet another birthday party, BC II is turning 8, and I am reminded of another party a few years ago. Because since that party I have debated the very way I throw parties for kids, at each party I consider this one boy who brought the dark side of this issue screaming into my little village. (For the record this kid, who lives 2 blocks away was never invited back) I wanted to tell this story to help parents understand why those of us in the participation trophies make entitled little brats grow up to be entitled, jobless thirty year olds sleeping on Mom and Dad’s couch complaining about how the world has done them wrong, think that way. This is not the story of a thirty year old, it’s the story of a birthday party for a ten-year-old (BC I) and how we all need to be careful with how much we protect our “babies” from the world. If they never get to lose as a child, they will lose at life, not cool Mom, not cool.

So to set the scene it’s a lovely October afternoon, and we are having an outside birthday party with about 12 9 to 11 year olds in attendance. The theme is Halloween, as Halloween will be the following week, and all the boys are in costumes. The problems start when we play Halloween Bingo and escalate from there. The boy dressed as a Jedi wins, we all cheer and he picks a bouncy rubber vampire on a spring as his prize (there is a large tin that used to contain Halloween popcorn filled with items like this, you know the stuff you would put in a goody bag, and as prizes each kid gets to pick one). I had the boys decorate trick-or-treat bags (orange lunch bag sized bags) earlier and wrote everyone’s name on theirs. I had explained at the time that we would use them to hold everyone’s game prizes and other take home treats. I told the young Jedi congrats again and to put the vampire in his bag. Then I asked the boys if they wanted to play again or if we should move on to the next game. We ended up playing until two other boys had also won (a vampire and a batman). Then I put up the bingo and got out this blow up pumpkin and started organizing the boys to play “rotten pumpkin” (like hot potato) explaining the rules as I cue the music. A little (well actually he was really tall for 11 and pretty pudgy too) Storm Trooper starts whining. “But I didn’t get my prize” (Imagine all the letters drawn out & high-pitched) “But you didn’t win yet,” my own 5-year-old Spiderman pipes up, “you have to win to get prizes.” “that’s not fair.” (same whiney tone) ” We will play lots of games, I’m sure you will win a prize, too,” I step in, mostly because I can’t stand that whiney voice. We begin the game the Storm Trooper gets eliminated about the third or fourth time the music stops. He starts crying, “No FAIR! NO FAIR!” I come over and pat his shoulder, trying to console him with the fact that we will play this game again and several others and that would he like some punch or some of the food laid out while he waited for this one to be over. The other boys who were already out (one of whom was K-man and 2 at the time were staring at this kid like he was crazy while munching and watching the game. Star Trooper didn’t calm down until I got him a cookie (he was not interested in the veggie garbage dip & I have a theory now regarding his chubbiness) and a brownie. We play 3 rounds in all. Guess who one the third round? Yup, our Storm Trooper. We move on to play Graveyard Dash, which is a race/relay game I invented involving cardboard gravestones with the party guests’ (ahem who remembered to RSVP) names on them. We begin and the Knight wins. Again with the crying. “But I tried really hard. We should all get prizes. My Mommy would never let anyone not get a prize, it’s not good for our self-esteem.” I mentally put on the breaks, my brain tires smoked a bit as I just stared at this kid. “What?!” “My Mommy knows I should always win so that I will be happy, you are mean!” (brief pause in the story to remind you this kid is ELEVEN, not two) Now I’m just dumbfounded, I can’t say “Well your Mom is an idiot, raising a spoiled brat” so I just stare. BC I (as a Gladiator, he was going through an ancient Rome phase at the time) rushes to the Storm Trooper and starts angrily telling him, “My Mom is not mean. She has enough respect for us that she doesn’t baby us like the teachers do. Her games are fun because we all get to play and someone ACTUALLY wins.”  “Yeah, ” pipes up the Jedi, “BC I’s parties are always awesome cause there is good food, and cool games with real prizes.” “You’re just being a baby, ” this was from my five-year-old Spiderman. I break up the verbal assault, with thank yous to my defenders, but reminders that we are all going to play nicely and enjoy the party and not be mean to each other. (blah blah blah, had to be the mom there) We continue on like this with each and every game we play. If the Storm Trooper wins, he’s happy, if someone else wins, tears and whining. When we stopped playing games each of the kids had won something about two or three times each. We move on to presents. My Gladiator opens gifts and profusely thanks the givers. We start to move on to cake (and the end of the party) when Storm Trooper starts whining again! “Where are MY presents?” I didn’t get a present!” My Spiderman points out that it’s not his birthday and everybody only gets one birthday turn a year, so it’s fair. (The answer I have given every toddler in my house when this issue has come up before) “I’m telling my mommy how mean you are!” This is directed at me as I am lighting candles on a haunted house cake. ” Honey, you won several prizes, have a cool bag and a pumpkin you painted and a ghost lollipop all to go home with. Isn’t that nice?” “NO! I want MY PRESENTS!” “Well I am sorry, but we are having cake right now, would you like some?” (this calmed him down until his mother got there)We thanked him for coming (and my Gladiator learned an important lesson in politeness) as he walked away, arms full of loot (including a plate piled with snacks “for the ride home, he gets cranky in the car and transitions are just so hard for him” was the explanation from his Mom) I heard him telling her all bout how mean it was that he didn’t win every game and there were no presents for him.

I tell this story because it’s so ridiculous an example of what people are doing to their kids. That 11-year-old had a miserable time at a party that the other boys had a blast at. He hasn’t been invited to any parties at my house since then. He is missing out on a lot the joy of being a kid thanks to the way his mother (and I have to assume father) allows him to always win. I know this is how they treat the kids in Elementary school at least and that not all of them were acting like that, but this little Storm Trooper will always be on my mind, every time I plan a party. I worry, am I too firm? Was I too unaccepting? Or was that kid just a brat? I haven’t run across another as bad as the Storm Trooper (which is what we call him now, since the memory is burned in our brains, but we can’t remember his name) but I often wonder what, if anything I should have done differently?

What do you think? As we get geared up for party season around here I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions regarding dealing with any future Storm Troopers.