Note to self: Perhaps next year hanging a Johnny Depp calendar will help keep spirits up. 🙂

Don’t let the door smack you in the a$$ on the way out.

So, January is not my best month.  Never has been.  Some of my darkest days have been January days.  I’m not entirely sure what comes over me, but it’s been compounded by the fact that both of my kids have their birthdays are in January.  I wrote about this last year too.  I love my kids with the intensity of a thousand suns.  I want to love celebrating their birthdays.  But the truth is, I am always in survival mode.  I do what I need to do to get through the festivities with a plastic smile on my face before collapsing into a stupor of relief afterwards.

Another part of the problem is that the world takes off in earnest in January.  My Google reader filled to bursting with posts about resolutions, goals and plans for the new year.  People seem to head back to their work, their lives with new gusto while I struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  My January doldrums were not improved this year by a head injury I’d sustained in late December, or by the family of mice that took up residence in our kitchen cabinets and took a week to do away with.  We also went to New York and spent two weekends skiing in Keystone, which added a huge element of fun and excitement to the month, but also served to push me further and further behind in my attempts to get back into the saddle of life (pun intended).

Supposedly, Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  After years of enduring bad Januarys, I finally had an epiphany: January won’t change, but I can.  In this spirit, I have created my own 5 commandments of January as follows:

  1. Treat January as an extension of the holidays. With two kids celebrating birthdays in January, this is really true.  Parties, presents, planning.  I cannot expect to re-enter the normal flow of life with two seminal events to celebrate in the same month.
  2. Do not take on any new or extra commitments. Because everybody else seems revved up with new goals and new energy, opportunities for new challenges and experiences abound.  Many of them are extremely worthwhile and hugely tempting.  The lovely Kat Apel, for example, hosted the Month of Poetry in January.  I participated for five days and then fell off the face of the earth.  Then I felt terrible, both for reneging on a commitment and for failing to support a friend.  From now on, no matter how tempting, I just need to say no to putting more on myself this month, even if it’s something fun.
  3. The New Year begins February 1st. No more New Year’s resolutions/goals for January (see #1).  The real new year will begin for me on February 1.
  4. Focus on family. It’s not my kids’ fault that they were both born in January, with birthdays ten days apart.  Even though the birthdays come right after Christmas, they are still a huge deal to them – rightly so.  My fatigue, seasonal depression, eagerness to get back into a routine, does not change the fact that they need and deserve to be celebrated this month.  I’ve always managed to pull off their parties and festivities, but this year I made a couple of decisions in the name of expediency/making it easier for myself that ended up disappointing my daughter, even though she put on a brave face.  This leads to my last commandment, which speaks to making sure I have the energy reserves to support these four, which is:
  5. Be kind to myself. I need to give myself permission to keep things at a slower pace.  Read books, take naps and hot baths.  Cook nourishing food.  Drink tea.  Meditate.  Exercise.  Write.  If I nourish myself, hopefully I will be able to provide birthday celebrations for my kids that I enjoy too.

Do you have months that are historically difficult for you?  If so, what are your strategies for surviving and thriving?

Categories: Birthdays, Family, Health/Fitness, Parenting, Winter · Tags: , , , ,

25. January 2010 · Comments Off on Birthday King – or, Birthday Weekend #3

The Birthday King

Today my baby Jay is four whole years old.  The birthday extravaganza continued this weekend as we celebrated with a few of his friends at the World of Wonder Children’s Museum.  The party was easy and fun.  Four-year old boys are very easy to please (especially compared to seven-year old girls!).  Jay got his very own crown.  Very appropriate since he is and always will be the king of our hearts, on his birthday and all days.

Yesterday we celebrated again with dinner, cake and presents at my mom’s house.  Here he opened his favorite gift by far – a chainsaw that sounds very realistic.  In this photo, he’s preparing for his upcoming role in the kid version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Here he is pondering over his cake, making a wish.  He looks so serious.  I’m sure he was working up a very profound wish like world peace and not another toy rocket.  Actually I take that back.  I know he wished to have his favorite food for his birthday dinner at home tonight – chocolate pancakes with bacon and strawberries.  An easy wish to grant.  Then we will finally, FINALLY be done with birthdays for a while, which means my wish will come true too!

Happy Birthday to my sweet boy.

Categories: Birthdays, Family · Tags: , ,


Today my baby girl is 7 and as promised, she is celebrating with her first slumber party.  My house is now filled with four squealing little girls – before they’ve had cake.  I got out some board games, hoping they might be tempted to play quietly, but no dice.  For now I am tolerating the screaming.  After dinner I will banish them to the basement for a movie.

Speaking of movies, I’m reminded of the scene in Annie where Miss Hannigan (aka  Carol Burnett)  laments her lot in life.  Alas, this song has been stuck in my head for the past hour:

“Some women are drippin’ with diamonds.

Some women are drippin’ with pearls.

Lucky me, lucky me, look at what I’m drippin’ with —

Little girls!”

Likewise, this is probably what I will look like after (if!) they finally fall asleep tonight.

Categories: Birthdays, Family, I Need Wine Pronto!, Movies · Tags: , , ,

12. January 2010 · Comments Off on Slumber Parties

Well, Em’s Michael Jackson birthday party was a huge hit.  Now we begin preparation for Birthday Weekend #2, where four little girls (plus Em) spend the night at our house.  My mom is finally going to get payback for all the times she pounded into the living room during my slumber parties at 4:00 a.m. and threatened us with our lives if we didn’t go to sleep NOW!

I’d say from about 4th – 7th grade,  I celebrated my birthday each year by inviting about 14 of my closest friends for a slumber party.  We stretched our sleeping bags in two rows facing each other and gossiped, told ghost stories and jokes, confessed our crushes and played silly games until the very wee hours.  My friends did the same for their birthdays.  They were always held on Fridays, and you could practically taste the anticipation during the school day.  We’d all pile into the hostess’ bus, sleeping bags in tow, and immediately start belting out “99 bottles of beer on the wall.”

We always got to eat pizza, rent movies and play video games, three activities that occurred far less often than they do today.  For some reason, we usually started by playing Spoons.  In the version we played, the loser had to eat some wretched concoction put together by the person who took the first spoon – soy sauce, Tabasco, mayonnaise and onion powder mixed together anyone?  When night fell, the games got creepier, like Ouija board or “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.”   Next there would be a round of confessionals of who had a crush on whom and maybe even ordering a pizza for delivery to one of the crushees.  In the adolescent years, we got more daring and sometimes called the boys themselves, passing the phone around from one to another to see who he talked to the longest.  We played endless rounds of Truth or Dare.  I once went to a summer slumber party where we slept in a tent in the backyard (smart mom!) and one of my friends made good on a dare to run around the tent naked three times.  Ah, the glory days!

My brother always had to spend the night at a friend’s house when I had my slumber parties.  I suppose my mom was afraid he’d pull some kind of Brady Bunch itching powder prank.  I am continuing that tradition by having Jay sleep over at my mom’s on the big night.  There’s just no room for testosterone with all that estrogen floating around.  In fact, I don’t even think my dad was ever around during my slumber parties.  He probably scheduled an overnight business trip or slept in his office or something.  Anything to avoid the mayhem of a house full of girls!

Now Em is about to embark on this girlhood rite of passage.  In the meantime, I’m already carving out time on Saturday for a nice long nap!  “Slumber” party being a misnomer, you see, since nobody really sleeps!

Categories: Birthdays, Childhood, Family · Tags: , , , ,

09. January 2010 · Comments Off on Birthday Weekend #1

I made the grave error of telling Em she could have a few friends sleep over after her birthday party.  Then I realized that we couldn’t do that because she has skiing lessons on Sunday mornings.  Having already “promised” her a sleepover, she is now having one next Friday after school which happens to be her actual birthday.  The weekend after that will be festivities for Jay’s birthday (still unplanned – the plight of the second-born with the later birthday).

I’m not huge on kids’ birthday parties – even my own kids’.  Actually, that’s not true.  I love the birthday parties Em goes to because now I get to drop her off!  Today though, I’m not the dropper but the droppee.

BUT – I must admit I’m a little excited about her party today.  Ever since we saw This is It, Em has been fanatical about Michael Jackson.  (Ah, the innocence of knowing him only through his musical genius and not the Wacko Jacko years).  So she wanted a Michael Jackson party.  Amazingly, there’s a place right in our town called Dog House Music that does rock n roll birthday parties.  They’ll give all the kids a rock star makeover while they snack and do the Moonwalk to Billie Jean and Thriller.  They get to listen to a teenage band play live for them, then get on stage and sing and air guitar (on plastic guitars) to Smooth Criminal.  Em has her fedora hat and white glove all ready to go.

So it should be fun.  Who knew I’d be reliving my own adolescent/teenage MJ fanaticism through my daughter?  Somehow we two managed to sit on the opposite cusps of Michael’s bad times – me at the front and her at the back – so who cares about all that bad stuff?  Let’s Dance!  Let’s Shout!  Shake Your Body Down To the Ground!

Here was one of her practice runs from right after we saw the movie.

Categories: Birthdays, Childhood, Family, Movies, Music · Tags: , , ,

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