#3: Holiday task planning for kids

holiday matrixHa, ha, ha! Oh, you were serious? Clearly the writer of today’s sad and desperate search term is not a regular reader. I can’t even get my kids to set the table or empty the dishwasher on a normal day. What makes you think I can get them to deck the halls?

But in the spirit of shared desperation, I’ll offer these simple tasks children and teens can help with in the run-up to the holidays.

  1. Wrap gifts. Make sure they use an obscene amount of gift wrap and an entire roll of tape. Corners need not be square, the pattern on the paper need not be straight. Just tell them to go for it. That paper will get ripped to shreds when it’s opened anyway.
  2. Make bourbon balls. Oh, wait – is it OK for kids to handle bourbon in a cooking setting, or can I get into some kind of trouble for that? Not that I think they would actually drink the bourbon, but they might spill it and we do have some cats with poor judgment so I could end up on the wrong side of the ASPCA.
  3. String holiday lights. Never mind that your children are merely 4 feet tall, they can hang them at shrub height. If it disturbs you, and you want to view the lights from below, just lie down in the yard. You’ll probably feel like doing this anyway as the holidays approach.
  4. Put together that *@!#$* fake tree. Right, it looks almost real. If you stand 25 feet away and squint. Once it’s up, have them tear recklessly through boxes of carefully packed ornaments looking for the most fragile. Make sure they fight over who gets to hang them.
  5. Sweep up broken ornaments. See above.
  6. Have them learn carols to perform for your guests. They can sing in unison or, if they are over-achievers, in harmony. Not only will you be able to listen in rapt attention as they learn their parts, you can trot them out like the Von Trapps (matching outfits optional). This task is so wonderful because it is something they can do together. It will be even more fun than getting a single child to practice the piano.

Oh, the blessed holidays. I can feel my spirits rising already. Now, where is that bourbon?


A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Read the holiday series

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Also known, on alternate days, as MeWriSoPo. Let’s just say National Novel Writing Month is not going well for me. It’s a little like training for a marathon I’m never going to run. All effort without satisfaction and bragging rights.

We are past the halfway point and I have only 8,180 of the targeted 50,000 words. I probably should have opted for NaBloPoMo since I have already convinced myself that, given the motivation, I can crank out a post a day for a limited time.

I seem to be at my best writing in short bursts of about 300 words. (If you have math skills equivalent to 5th grade or higher, you may now divide my actual count by the number of days that have passed in November and see how abysmally long this is going to take me. And that’s if I never take a day off. I have “taken off” approximately 14 of the last 17 days.)

Besides 41,820 words, here’s what I’m missing:

  • A plot. OK, that’s an overstatement. What I’m missing is a compelling plot. One someone might actually want to read.
  • A name for the character who is narrating the story. As dumb as this sounds, it is keeping me from writing my synopsis and completing my NaNoWriMo profile. Which has become a writer’s block. Suggestions, anyone?
  • An attention span longer than 20 minutes.

A little planning would’ve helped. Characters keep popping in and out of my story like drive-bys on the highway. I get a quick glimpse of them, and then they’re gone. And it would help if I could keep myself from being derailed as life happens, because life seems to be happening a lot around here lately.

Excuses, excuses.

(This post is exactly 300 words. See what I mean?)

I had a pair of yoga pants

IMG_0344One of our favorite family reads is a book called Joseph Had a Little Overcoat about a resourceful man who recycles a coat down to a little button. An excerpt:

Joseph had a little overcoat. It was old and worn. So he made a jacket out of it and went to the fair.

Joseph had a little jacket. It got old and worn. So he made a vest out of it and danced at his nephew’s wedding.

~ Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, © Simms Taback, 1999

In memoriam to a pair of faithful, but recently retired yoga pants, I have written my own version:

I had a pair of yoga pants. They were new and snazzy. So I put them on, went to yoga class, and did Adho Mukha Svanasana about 400 times.

I had a pair of yoga pants. They were old and worn. So I designated them as home office wear, and wore them all winter while I wrote medical website copy.

I had a pair of office pants. They were old and worn. So I turned them into cleaning pants, and mucked out the utility room.

I had a pair of cleaning pants. They were old and worn. So I cut them off above the knees, and wore them to spade the garden.

I had a pair of garden shorts. They were old and worn. So I retired them, took them to the garage, and used them to wipe down the car.

I had a rag to wipe the car. It was old and worn. So my husband used it to block a gap under the garage door on a 9 degree morning.

Which was today. I don’t think there is anywhere for them to go now but into the trash. A sorry ending for a loyal companion.


Glitter: Where Title IX falls painfully short

IMG_0623 - Version 2Title IX was newish when I hit junior high and decided I didn’t want to take home economics. This was back in the day when all girls took home ec, and all boys took shop. Nothing wrong with home economics, I just, personally, thought it sounded like a snore. The boys got to mold plastics and use power tools. The girls learned how to make white sauce. I could not see how white sauce fit into my future.

My parents, in a much-appreciated burst of advocacy, petitioned the school board to let girls take shop, and ultimately prevailed. Although the board’s ruling came too late to save me from Mrs. W’s high-fat cuisine, it did clear the way for kids like my younger brother to learn how to sew an apron and do his nails (I kid you not. He is still, to this day, extremely well groomed.)

Fast forward several decades. Title IX opened up a vast array of opportunities for girls. But while both boys’ and girls’ sports require me to sling hot dogs at the concession stand, write checks so large they make me tear up, and hit the grandparents up with all sorts of fundraising campaigns, there is one key difference.

My daughter is on the dance team. And for the dance team, I have to rhinestone a costume.

Make no mistake; the dance team girls are athletes. If you don’t believe me, try kicking your leg over your head for the next three hours and then tell me whether you didn’t pull a hamstring, a groin muscle, and everything in between. But I have never been asked to rhinestone a baseball jersey or apply sequins to lacrosse pads. I do not have to alter ski gear. And while my boys have occasionally required the use of kinesio tape, neither has ever required the use of Hollywood Fashion Tape® before entering the field. In short, boys’ sports do not require me to use any crafting skills whatsoever.

This inequity makes me uneasy, but frankly, it’s probably not because it throws us back to the days of girls vs. boys as much as it is an aversion to rhinestoning. Let’s just say it is not a core competence.

But as sports parents know, when your kid signs up, you sign up.

And thus, a recent Saturday morning found me beside other dance team moms, coffee at hand, using industrial-strength, cancer-causing glue to attach dozens of rhinestones and sequins to a piece of nylon that wouldn’t cover one of my calves. (I noticed no fathers were present.)

This is my daughter’s first year on the team, and I certainly will be required to rhinestone again. The coach has decided that the girls’ time is too valuable to devote to modifying their costumes. My time, however, carries no such premium.

Just call me the Rhinestone Cowgirl.


Sorry we woke you

Sarah Day:

I’m not blogging here this week – other things on my mind – but please visit me over at BlogHer and help me empower teens to take action if they have a friend in trouble.

Originally posted on Parent Your Business:

IMG_0349Friends and readers, I’ve written something a little different today over on BlogHer, a personal story about teen depression and suicide. Please visit if you are so inclined. It’s an important message, and we need to spread the word.

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#2: Why do some people dislike dressing in costumes?

holiday matrixWell, Halloween has come and gone, as has the pressure to be something you’re not, specifically, someone who loves to dress in a costume. Some of us abhor this custom, but clearly, we are only one side of the equation. In this post, we’ll try to answer the writer of the sad and desperate search term Why do some people dislike dressing in costumes?

Well, dear reader, it comes down to this: Some of us are just not creative and fun. For those of us who spend an average day staring at our wardrobes with loathing and disgust, the need to select a costume just ratchets up the pressure.

And for those of us who spend an inordinate amount of time on our grooming with the only goal being to get in the range of acceptable, the idea of assuming an appearance that is worse than we usually look is daunting. We’re spending a lot of time to avoid discolored teeth, straggly hair, wrinkles and pallid skin. Why, dear reader, would we want to throw that all away by accentuating our natural flaws?

And, because I cannot stay silent on this subject, let me point out that dressing in a costume for a party or to trick-or-treat with your kids is one thing. Being asked to don one for a day at the office, or a professional event, is downright cruel.

Clearly, I am more aligned with the writer of the search term I hate Halloween costumes for work. I’m with you, pal. I’m with you.


A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

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#1: Why I hate Halloween

holiday matrixIt’s not hard to figure out why this particular Sad and Desperate search term hit my site since I wrote a post titled Why I hate Halloween. That post, however, dealt with the specific and heinous practice of employees wearing costumes to work, a “tradition” I abhor. Dear reader, there are plenty of other reasons to dislike Halloween!

It destroys perfectly good linens. I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to lay my head on a pillowcase that has been dragged through every lawn in our neighborhood.

It’s heck on those costly braces. Chewy candy is bad. Bad, bad, bad. But how can one resist a whole pillowcase full of it?

It kicks off the holiday eating season, that depressing time of year when you watch the numbers on the scale go up while your energy and enthusiasm go down. (Although in my family, the holiday eating season kicks off even earlier with the celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving, not because we are Canadian, but to accommodate other family commitments, iffy November weather, and one family’s annual November 1 departure to Florida.)

The acceptable age to “trick-or-treat” seems to be going up, and the older the trick-or-treater, the less effort goes into the costume. I expect any year now to be opening the door to a bunch of college students dressed as, well, college students.

Over the years, I have found only one thing to like about Halloween – the neighbor one block over who hands out beer to the adults in the party. Thank you, dear friend.


A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate: Holiday edition

holiday matrixIt’s on its way, that moment you’ve all been waiting for – the continuation of Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate, the series in which I offer advice to the searchers whose terms hit my blog.

The series has been on hiatus since Andre and his friends hijacked my traffic, but since they seem to have moved on to other b-grade content, I’m picking it up again with a holiday series. Sort of like the second half of the final season of Mad Men, and the Downton Abbey holiday episode all rolled into one!

Stay tuned over the next few weeks while I answer questions and respond to musings like:

Why I hate Halloween

Why do some people dislike dressing in costumes

Holiday task planning for kids

Bad gifts

Company Christmas party on Christmas Eve, and a particularly sad entry:

Finally the day is over

Not a holiday post, you say? I beg to differ. Stay tuned…

Warning: Take the Month Off

IMG_0291Yesterday, the Daily Post writing prompt asked us to invent an astrological sign for ourselves. While I was too upside down and backwards to do that piece, I’m pulling myself out of the depths for today’s post: The actual horoscope for October, written in retrospect. Retrospect I can do.

October Horoscope

During this month, the pieces of your carefully constructed reality will fly up in the air and come down again in a different order. You’ll want to move forward, but you won’t know where anything is.

The people closest to you will suddenly seem to have lost their minds. They will make decisions you don’t understand and can’t prevent. People will exit and enter your life at a dizzying rate, leaving an impact far beyond what is reasonable or predictable. Things that felt solid will dissolve under your feet. Things that seemed moveable will remain so solid you cannot budge them.

And although you are entering a period of extreme unrest, all you will want to do is rest. You will find yourself resting as items on your to-do list pile up around you.

Make no mistake – this energy is taking you somewhere, you just don’t know where. Big change is coming. It has to. You’ve felt its approach for a long time now, but you haven’t been ready to face it. Well, get ready. You can’t stop change.

The temptation will be to close your eyes, open them up when it’s all over, and see where you’ve landed, like Dorothy in the tornado, headed off to Oz. If that’s the tack you take, just be ready, when you open your eyes, for your surroundings to look completely different. And to, somehow, find your way back home.