Archive for December, 2012

Holiday Recap

Oh my word, December. Always so full of hustle and bustle, but this year was even crazier than years past. And yet, we still managed to fit just about everything in.

The holiday season really kicked off for us at Thanksgiving, when we took baby D on his second 9 hour roadtrip to visit my inlaws. My mom’s continuing mite issues meant we were spending turkey day apart for the first time in several years. I hated that, but we still got to spend lunch with my parents on our way back. And quite honestly, Thanksgiving was a lot more fun than I anticipated. Kind of like Christmas but without the presents. So much family, food, and crazy kiddos running around.


D with all of his cousins 

After that, I attended one of my best friend’s annual Favorite Things party. If you’ve never been to a Favorite Things party, here’s how it works: Everyone spends $20 on items they personally love – favorite nail polish, favorite lip gloss, favorite color scarf…you get the idea. Then you wrap everything or put it all in a gift bag without a tag. As guests arrive, everyone puts their bags together. Then each guest draws a number. Starting with whomever drew #1, that person picks a bag/gift from the bunch to be theirs and opens it. Then the person who brought the gift talks about each item and why those items are their favorite things. It’s really a lot of fun and everyone walks away with something they’ll probably love too. I’ve always been thrilled with my gift each year and look forward to this party more than almost any other party every year.

The next weekend, we celebrated Christmas with my grandma, aunt, and cousins. Being the first Christmas since my grandpa passed away, I knew it was going to be tough for my family this year, so I got together with my cousin to host our first family Christmas gathering. I did most of the cooking and organized a few games for us all to play, and despite some folks being sick, it turned out really well. The very next day, the hubs, baby and I got up and drove 2.5 hours to visit my other grandma for an early Xmas celebration. She’s 90 years old and has only seen the baby once, so I wanted to make sure she saw him again before the holidays. We probably won’t be back again until her birthday in March.

On the 23rd, we packed up the car again and headed east again. We stopped about halfway to have lunch at my aunt’s house. My parents met us there, as did my cousin who lives in Maryland with her 4 kids and my other aunt and uncle from Cincinnati. We only stayed about 2 hours but it was nice to see everyone – many of whom we haven’t seen in a couple of years.

Finally we ended up at my inlaws’ house where we spent the next three days just sitting around, eating artery-clogging food, and watching bad TV – like Duck Dynasty. Oh and taking pictures of this little guy.


Our families spoiled us rotten, as always. IMGP4621

All those presents? Yeah, those are just Dez’s. Mine are piled on the floor and hubby’s are on the other end of the couch. Like I said – SPOILED.


All in all, it was a pretty great Christmas season.


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Seven Months


Weight/Length: I don’t even know but I’m guessing about 19 lbs and 28.5 inches. He’s outgrowing a lot of his 6 mos clothes already, especially pants which look like board shorts on him.

Sleep: Most of the time it’s pretty great, but we had one night a couple of weeks ago when he woke up every couple of hours and was PISSED OFF. I picked him up and could hear him struggling to breathe through his nose. I pulled out the aspirator and just a little suction action did the trick. He went right back to sleep and didn’t wake up again until after 8am. Every since then, we’ve had to do this about every other day. Our house is incredibly dry in the winter time and the dry air means a boogery baby. I now have to do a combination of saline spray and an aspirator to clear the nose passages, and I run a humidifier in his room most of the time.

I’ve always hated winter, but now I have just one more reason to add to my long list.

Feeding: We’ve taken a tiny step back in this department. About a week before Christmas, baby D caught a nasty little stomach bug that had him vomiting every few minutes for about 2 hours until the poor little guy was just dry heaving. Once the heaving stopped, we waited a couple of hours before starting him on Pedialyte. Then we quickly transitioned to breastmilk, and eventually formula only for the next 24 hours. After that, we started back on solids with caution, just eating oatmeal and applesauce once per day. This week, I finally upped his solid intake to twice a day, but still sticking to foods that he’s familiar with. In another week or two, we’ll start exploring more food varieties  but for right now, I’m just taking it easy on his tummy.


Firsts This Month:  First Christmas, first snow fall, first time meeting/visiting several relatives, first time opening presents (he was excellent at this), and most importantly – first time sitting up like a big boy! He was wobbly for awhile but by Christmas Day, this kid had it down. Now that he’s sitting up, it’s like a whole new world. We’re able to play more and have more fun.

Developments:  In addition to sitting up, I can tell he’s learning more words. He knows the word “hungry” and I think he’s learning the dog’s name too. He plays with toys a lot more now too. He’s really good at spinning the wheel on his jumparoo, jumping in his jumparoo, pressing buttons on his exersaucer, and turning pages in books. He also pets the dog without pulling his fur, and his eyes light up when the Disney music starts at the beginning of his Baby Einstein DVDs. He even knows when I’m about to switch the TV to the DVD player because of the remote I use. It’s pretty incredible what this kid picks up on already.

Likes: mommy and daddy – even though he’ll let just about anyone hold him, he definitely knows who we are and lights up when he sees us. He also LOVES dogs. Especially dogs that look like teddy bears. And teddy bears. He smiles at just about any stuffed animal. Mirrors are also a big hit around here. He’s already a ham.


Dislikes:  Tiredness, hunger, or boogers are usually the cause of any crankiness with him. Otherwise he’s a pretty happy, smiley baby.

What I’m Thankful For: An easy-going baby. Even when he’s not feeling his best, he’s still pretty easy. And I take full advantage of those moments for extra cuddles. He’s not much of a snuggler – at least, not ALL the time like I am – but when he is, man I soak it up. Every second of it.

What I’m Looking Forward To:  It’s hard to believe, but I’m actually really enjoying this time right now. I was eager for him to sit up, but I’m not ready for him to crawl or walk yet. We still have not babyproofed so I’m hoping we have a couple more weeks before that stage happens. Until then, I’m just enjoying him exactly how he is right now.

How Mommy’s Doing: I’m down to pumping just once a day, and expect to pack away the pump for awhile after this week. As a result though, Aunt Flo has finally returned. I did not miss her.

I also took the plunge and signed back up for Weight Watchers. More about that later, but I’m excited to start focusing on my health again.

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The Holiday To-Do List

As much as I love the holidays, I’m always overwhelmed at this time of year too. So much to do. So many “must-do” activities. And since this is baby D’s first Christmas, the pressure is on to make sure we’re celebrating appropriately. I don’t even know what that means really, but I just have this internal fear that I’m going to forget doing something significant and will therefore ruin his first Christmas. And possibly every Christmas after this one. All because what? I didn’t leave cookies out for Santa and instagram the moment for his baby book? Or by somehow not doing Elf on the Shelf, I’m setting myself up for Christmas 5 years from now when D asks why the Elf didn’t visit him when he was a baby? I don’t know. It’s the “new mom crazy” I tell ya.

To keep myself somewhat sane, I came up with a list of our Holiday Must Dos, crossing them off as I go.


Ok, so this list is really a “Mommy & Daddy Must Do” list, but you get the idea. And as you can see, we did almost everything except the PJ photo and the ceramic ornament. In future years, I’ll add things like making a gingerbread house, but this was about all I could manage to fit in this year.

One of the more time consuming but fun things on the list is always our Xmas cards. Last year, we used our Xmas card to announce our pregnancy.



So of course we had to play off of last year’s and incorporate the little red Cardinals shoes. In theory, this was a fantastic idea. But photographing the feet of a wiggly baby and an impatient Labrador proved to be quite the challenge, so here’s the best we could come up with.



And just for fun, here’s the back:




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Make it a Better Place

Friday, I did nothing but stay glued to my TV and social media. I picked fights with people who thought it was appropriate to declare “Guns don’t kill people! People kill people! Guns aren’t the problem!” Because, really? Of all the opinions to express today, you’re going to choose to share THAT one? Suddenly, every redneck I know was spouting off about their right to own guns. As if this country will EVER place a ban on all firearms. Ludicrous.

(For the record, I’m not against all guns. I’m against semi-automatic guns. I’m against irresponsible gun ownership. Gun control does not mean no guns for anyone. That’s why it’s called “gun control” and not a “ban on guns.” )

My husband, who is not as into social media as I am, said I was too worked up over it. And at first, I was. I was using these little fights as a way to distract myself from the thoughts that were really trying to settle into my mind – like the faces of the children, their grieving parents, the heroic teachers, and the young survivors that will never get those images out of their little heads. Fighting about gun control was the only distraction a lot of us could come up with that day. Calling for better gun control makes us feel like we’re doing something, when all of us just feel so damn helpless.

Saturday morning I woke up, briefly checked the news, and then unplugged the rest of the day. Same for Sunday. My heart is too heavy. I had family Christmas activities planned for both days, and I’m glad because it gave me something else to focus on. Something happy.

But I keep coming back to Connecticut, trying to find some way to help.

Fortunately, there are lots. And so far, my favorite idea is this:

Commit to doing 26 Acts of Kindness. One for each child and teacher.

I’ve started a list, and will be crossing things off as I go. I lost a lot of faith in humanity on Friday, but maybe if all of us do our best to help one another, the good in this world will outweigh the bad once again.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1. Donated to the community of Newtown. There are so many funds being set up in the names of the victims, so your choices here are endless. I donated to the Newtown Parent Connection, which is committing to bring in extra counselors to the community to help them process what’s happened.

2. Made a donation to the  My Sandy Hook Family Fund.

3. Dropped off cookies for the people that man the lobby at work, making sure everyone that doesn’t work here signs in and has a legit reason to be in the building. I feel secure knowing they’re there.

4. Brought in bagels for my colleagues.

5. Purchased hats and gloves for our “mitten tree” at work. All items will be donated to charity.

6. Contributed to my office’s Adopt -A-Family giving program. Our family this year was a family that lost their home in hurricane Sandy.

7. Bought groceries and Christmas presents for a mom in need.

8. Delivered a pumpkin cake to my neighbor, who is currently on short-term leave after she suffered mysterious seizures on Thanksgiving and was in the hospital for a few days. Doctors still don’t know what caused it.

9. Say “yes” every time a retailer or restaurant asks me if I’d like to “donate a dollar to X charity” when I’m paying my bill.

10. Tipped the garbage man.

Here are the other items on my list that I plan to do over the next week. I’ll cross them off as I go.

11. Make a donation to St. Jude.

12. Make a donation to the DAV.

13. Send an unexpected note or letter of encouragement to a friend.

14. Drop off cookies or some other baked good to my other neighbor whose mother is on hospice, currently dying of cancer.

15 – 19. Donate 5 toys to Toys for Tots

20. Donate old towels, dog beds and dog toys to the Humane Society.

21. Donate my old shoes.

22. Buy coffee for the person behind me at Starbucks.

23. Buy some pet treats and donate them to the Humane Society.

24. Make a donation to the Red Cross

25. Tip the recycling man.

26. Tip the postman.

(Update: since I wrote this, apparently Ann Curry started this? I’d like to give credit where credit is due for whoever thought of it, but I’ve seen it so many places now, I’m not sure. Anyway, here’s an article that came out today showing 26 Random Acts of Kindness, if you’d like to get on board and need ideas.)

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The Unimaginable

I saw a post in my FB news feed this morning. School shooting in CT.

“Not again,” I thought.

Scroll to the next post. School shooting in CT.

And the next. School shooting.

It wasn’t until my entire newsfeed was nothing but prayers and outrage that I finally turned on the news. Twenty-something dead. Most of them children. A 20 year old man opened fire on CHILDREN in an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL! For fuck’s sake. Just like any story on the news of a child being harmed, outrage oozed from my pores. I told my husband. Even more outrage from him.

“That fucking coward. Fucking nut job. Who the fuck does that?” (We swear a lot when we’re angry.) Part of me was glad he was already dead but another part of me wanted him to be publicly tortured to death. It’s not fair that someone so evil should die so quickly and relatively painlessly.

Then the sadness set in as I imagined myself as one of those 20 sets of parents receiving the news today that their precious son or daughter would not be coming home. Not tonight. Not ever. And I bawled when President Obama delivered his comments and visibly choked up at his own words.

But then I quickly got angry again as the debate for gun control started happening on Twitter and Facebook. Some people, and even the White House, said today is not a day to debate gun control. Others said it’s the perfect time, before another innocent life is lost as we just idly sit by and watch. I see both sides and I agree with both statements.

Then there were the people who just kept on posting about their day as if nothing happened. And the people that criticized them for doing so. Once again, I see both sides. For some people, the only way to cope is to keep going about their daily life. For others, it’s insensitive to do so. What happened today should not be ignored, but nor should it be a reason to ridicule someone for how they cope with national tragedy.

I just read this post from one of my favorite bloggers.

And this one from The Onion.

Both helped.

The ones that really got me thinking were the posts about how to talk (or not to talk) to your kids about things like this.

My child is only 6 mos old, but after just a few minutes of watching CNN today, I made the decision to switch to a Charlie Brown Christmas or some other cartoon and stay up to date on the news via mobile Internet and social media. I will probably take this course of action any time there’s a horrible tragedy like this. I wish I could shelter him forever so he never has images of children being shot, like I do right now.

But I know that’s not possible. And one day, not so many years from now, I won’t be able to keep the news from him and I’d rather he hear about certain things from me rather than friends or strangers, the news, social media or pretty much anyone else. I want to be there to comfort him and to answer any questions. (As best I can, anyway. Because the only question running through my mind right now about CT is “WHY?” and I don’t have an answer. No one does. Pure fucking evil, man. Pure fucking evil.)

So today I’ve just been paralyzed. Wavering between anger and overwhelming sadness. But the worst part of it all, for me? Is the feeling of helplessness. I just feel so damn worthless and vulnerable. Why couldn’t I stop that guy? Why couldn’t anyone? And that’s when the thoughts about gun control and mental healthcare and safer schools all comes up because we feel like we need to come together as a community and DO something. Just fucking do something already. We want to believe that this sort of thing is preventable. That with enough laws and regulations and evaluations, we can keep this from happening ever again.

And maybe we can.

But maybe we can’t.

And this is all very heavy shit and much bigger than me which brings me right back to feeling helpless again.

But here’s what I can do. I can say a prayer for all of those innocent lives and families that were destroyed today. And I can promise to raise my own son with love, compassion, understanding and once again, love. I can educate myself on depression and mental illness and look for warning signs should he ever stray down that dark and evil path. So while I can’t control what horrible things might happen to him, I can at least do my very best to make sure he knows love, and that he never does horrible things to anyone else. And maybe that is all any of us, as parents, should hope to do.

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One of my blogging buddies and fellow new mom has a series on her blog called “New Mom Confessions.” I’ve absolutely love reading everyone’s confessions. Some are funny, some are shocking, some make you think, and some even make you cry. Today, my list of confessions is on her blog, so head over there to check them out. Go on. I’ll wait.


Ok, finished? Great.

I’ve saved one of my bigger confessions for here though. Ready? Here it goes.

I already want a second baby. Like, bad. No, I’m not pregnant, nor are we trying to get pregnant. I’m not Jessica Simpson over here.

(And speaking of Jessica Simpson, is it weird that I’m ridiculously bothered/jealous that she’s pregnant again? Her baby is only a month older than mine. How is she pregnant again already? I haven’t even had a period yet!)

There’s just something about snuggling my little baby that makes me want a million more of him. I’ve said to my husband, more than once, that I want to swim in a sea of babies. But not just any babies. OUR babies.

Almost every mom says the same thing at some point in their child’s first year. “What happened to my tiny baby?!” It usually happens when we’re packing up the newborn clothes, and the 0-3 mos clothes, and then the 6 mos clothes. It also happens when they start rolling over, holding their own bottle, sitting up, and crawling.

It’s no secret that we want more kids. But the “when” of it all is up for debate. And also, quite admittedly, not entirely in our control. Baby-making in your 30s isn’t as easy as all those teen pregnancy shows on MTV would lead you to believe. So I’ve tried to tell my friends who have yet to jump on the baby bandwagon: If you think you’ll want a baby in about a year, best to get off the birth control and start prepping your body NOW. It takes a crazy long time to grow a baby and when we finally decided we wanted one, I was incredibly impatient with the whole process. Waiting to ovulate. Waiting to see if it “took”. Waiting for the stupid second line to show up on the pregnancy test (THREE whole minutes? OMFG.) Then waiting for that first doctor’s appointment to confirm it. Eight weeks doesn’t sound like a long time, but it’s a damn eternity for a hopeful pregnant woman. Once you hear that first heartbeat, it’s all over. You’re hooked and ready to meet him or her. You see those little arm and leg buds on the screen and yet you still have to wait entire SEASONS until you can cuddle it. Patience has never been my strong suit and I never realized just how much I sucked at being patient until I was pregnant. I wanted my baby and I wanted him NOW.

So yeah. I’ve already been thinking about baby number two. It’s what gets me through the sadness of packing away D’s barely-used but adorable baby clothes. And when we put away his swing this weekend, I’ll tell myself it’s only a matter of time before we’re getting it back out for the next one.

But how much time? I don’t know. My body isn’t ready yet, that’s for sure. I’m still carrying around about 12 lbs of baby weight. Not to mention I was already about 8-10 lbs heavier than my usual, thanks to my stupid foot problems, and well, I have about 25lbs of weight I’d like to lose before putting my body through that torture again. (But I’m not dieting yet. I enjoyed pigging out WAY too much last year while I was pregnant to EVER diet during the holidays again. But come Jan. 1? It’s on like Donkey Kong.)

We also said we’d like to wait until D was out of diapers because diapering two babies is just…well, it’s a lot of damn diapers. So it’s going to be awhile, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it almost daily.

Which brings me to my biggest confession of all (at least for anyone who’s known me pre-baby):

I freakin’ LOVE babies.

Who knew? I sure didn’t.


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First Meeting with Santa

I remember strolling through the mall last year around the this time, already into my second tri-mester, and upon seeing the gaggle of kids lined up to sit on Santa’s lap (and most likely scream their little heads off), I stopped and said to my husband,”That will be us next year.” Even though I hate standing in lines, and being around other people’s screaming kids, a part of me was excited right down to my toes (which I could barely see anymore, ahem). I couldn’t imagine it. My own little baby sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time. This tiny little person growing inside of me will, at this time next year, be getting his or her photo taken with a fat man in a red suit.

And then I promptly forgot about it until late November when one of my friends with a baby D’s age posted pics of her daughter with Santa.

Oh shit. We have to do that this year.

Cue the obsessing.

What outfit will he wear? I picked out three of his best outfits, snapped a photo, and polled Twitter and Facebook for a winner, much to my husband’s chagrin since he had a clear favorite. It was almost unanimous, and thank goodness it was the same outfit my husband wanted.

Now, which Santa should we visit? This took a lot of researching. Fortunately, a few of my other friends did the dirty work for me, polling their friends and family using Facebook for suggestions on the best Santa in the area. We narrowed it down to two locations and on one of my vacation days, we dressed our little man up, praying to the spit up Gods that he wouldn’t ruin his outfit before picture time. In my mind, I was prepared to drive half way across town to the second location if the first one was a bust. But that wasn’t necessary, because here’s what we got:

SantaI mean, does it get any cuter than that? I think not. I love how he’s grabbing Santa’s thumb and now I wish I wouldn’t have been so antsy ordering our Christmas cards on Cyber Monday because everyone will miss out on this cuteness. Except for you guys. And Facebook. And my parents and inlaws because they’re getting framed photos of this for Christmas. Ok so no one is missing out, but still.

And for anyone wondering, we went to Bass Pro at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon with NO line, but a pretty real looking Santa AND a free photo. Not this one though. I snapped this gem myself.

Here’s the free photo. I’ll probably stick this in his baby book so that years from now, we can laugh about the photo-bombing Reindeer in the background.


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Six Months

IMGP3986Is it just me or does six months feel like a huge milestone? Six whole months. Half a year we’ve been able to keep this little munchkin alive and healthy. That feels like something worth celebrating!

Weight/Length: Even though baby D turned 6 months on Nov. 30th, we just had his 6 month checkup on Wednesday, Dec. 5. He weighed 17lbs 14 oz and was 27 3/4 inches long! That puts him at 50th percentile for weight and 90th for height.

Sleep: Still the best little sleeper. We’re blessed, for sure. Bedtime is around 8:30 pm and he wakes up typically around 8am, but has been known to sleep past 9am sometimes! It’s incredible.

Naps are about an hour long from around 9:30-11am, 1-2, and 5-6. Roughly. We’re not super strict on nap schedules. He just generally seems to get tired around those times so we put him in his crib for a nap whenever he starts showing signs. If we’re out and about, he’ll sleep in the car, though not as long and so we end up with a super tired baby around 7pm. Bath time seems to help get rid of the crankiness though. This kid LOVES the bath!

Feeding: We’re in the exploratory stage of different purees now. Peas and green beans were a bust, but squash was a fan favorite. We only do solids twice a day, max, at noon and 4pm and a bottle four times a day at 8am, noon, 4pm and 7:30pm.


Firsts This Month:  First Thanksgiving (and our first Thanksgiving with my in-laws); first time trying peas, green beans, squash, chicken, and beef; first time rolling off the bed followed by first urgent rush to the doctor (not so much as a scratch or a bruise, thankfully!); first time seeing the Christmas Tree Lighting downtown; first dinner out at a semi-nice restaurant (Pi)

Developments:  This kid’s hand-eye coordination is awesome. He can reach and grab things, throw things on purpose, hit things, and the best is when he does this little raking motion with his hand like he’s petting me. He’s gentle and cuddly and I just eat it up. I’ve watched him even pet the dog, not just grab fistfulls of fur. Speaking of the dog, I think D may be allergic to dog saliva. If the dog licks his hand and then D rubs his face, he breaks out with a red rash all over. A little warm water rinse seems to clear it up, but he looked pitiful for about an hour or two, even though it didn’t seem to bother him.


Likes: Same things as last month but I’ll emphasize a few like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, the ABCs, being held above our heads or pretending like he’s flying through the sky, his Baby’s First Sounds Baby Einstein video, and stuffed animals – particularly bears. I just bought him a little polar bear that lights up and changes color at the $5 or less store, and he LOVES it.

Dislikes:  Same as last time but I can add most veggies to this list. He’s starting to show a few minor signs of separation anxiety but nothing a little toy distraction can’t take care of right now.

What I’m Thankful For: That even though we had to learn the hard way just how fast little man can roll off the bed, I’m thankful he wasn’t hurt. (And by we, I mean daddy, since it happened on his watch. But it could’ve just as easily happened to me too.) It was quite the scare for all of us and considering we have a fairly tall bed and hardwood floors, it’s a downright miracle that he wasn’t even bruised. He’s one lucky little boy.

What I’m Looking Forward To:  No more pumping. I’m down to three times a day now but I’ve got a long way to go. I have mixed feelings about no more boobie milk, but I’m taking it slow so it’s not such a shock to my body or my baby.

How Mommy’s Doing: I hate my body and my hormones are a mess right now. My skin is worse than when I was 14, my hair is still falling out (though not as bad as last month), and I find myself getting irrationally angry at times. But all of that pales in comparison to being this little boy’s mama. When he smiles, I don’t remember how flabby my belly is. When he cries, I forget how much hair is on the floor that needs cleaning up. I’m more concerned about his wardrobe than mine, even if he never leaves the house all day. When I watch TV, I’m mostly watching his reaction to what’s on the screen. (He smiles at Ellen Degeneres now, since I watch her show so often.)

Happy 6 months baby D!


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Oh Christmas Tree

IMGP4201I played around with some of my camera settings and was able to get this cool glow effect for my tree. Ignore the fact that I don’t have curtains. I’ve only been in my house for oh, almost SEVEN YEARS. Call me indecisive. Or lazy. Or both.

Speaking of which, if anyone would like to come over and help me pick out curtains, I’ll buy you lunch. Do it in less than 30 minutes, and I’ll splurge for a cookie too.

I can’t believe we have less than 2 weeks until Christmas. I’m about 98% finished with my shopping, but I still have wrapping, cooking, baking, and a half dozen other holiday-related things left on my to-do list. Thank goodness I still have a couple of vacation days left to get everything done. I’ll likely end up spending my vacation days folding laundry while watching Elf and blowing raspberries on a cute baby belly, but either way, I’ll consider it productive.

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One hour. That’s all I needed. Just one hour to wander aimlessly around Walmart to peruse the aisles, pick up some essentials, and finish my Christmas shopping. I left the baby and husband at home so I could take my time and actually enjoy this little shopping excursion. Plus, I had a lot of stuff to buy. Now that my grandpa is gone, I feel an even greater responsibility to do things to keep my family together. So next weekend, my cousin and I are hosting our first family Christmas gathering. The two of us will fix all the food and I’m making it my job to ensure there are games and prizes to keep everyone entertained. We’ve never been the game playing kind of family before, so this is new for us, and for me.  I also picked up a few extra items for my other cousins and their kids. Both of them are on government assistance so I know they won’t be giving or getting much this year.

Money is tight though. Since my husband left his corporate job to work for himself and also watch the baby full-time, we’ve had to make some cutbacks. We refinanced our mortgage, we put off getting new cars (both of our cars are 7 and 8 years old, but totally paid off), we dropped our gym membership, movie rental membership, and other things that were a bit unnecessary. We’ve tried cutting back on our Christmas spending too, but that’s been difficult. When you buy for 42 people (Seriously. Forty. Two. And that doesn’t include gifts to each other or the baby. So 45. Or the money we donate to our favorite charities every year.) and spend anywhere from $20-$100 per person, it gets kind of crazy. And I can’t NOT give gifts to some of these people. Even though I receive less than half that number of gifts in return, that’s not the point. Instead, I’m just trying to find better gifts for my smaller budget. Hence my trip to Walmart. And for the most part, I feel like I did pretty well this year. $3 fleece blankets for my cousins? YES! $5 slippers for my aunt? You betcha. Time to check out!

If you have ever gone shopping at Walmart on a weekend in December, you know the checkout line is HELL. I don’t know why a store has 35 checkout lines but only has 6 of them open at any given time. It’s infuriating. Kind of like getting behind that person with a million coupons or the person that needs a price check because the tag is missing. And it’s always an item from the farthest end of the store. So the cashier flips her little flashing light and your head explodes while everyone else in line does a collective sigh because we all know, this is going to take awhile.

The odds I will be right behind someone like this is about 1 in 3. So when I pulled my cart up to lane 16 and noticed the woman in front of me unloading her SECOND cart full of stuff, I knew this might take some time. But I was in a good mood, mentally checking off the things from my list and hoping the baby would still be awake when I got home. That’s when the pink and purple slippers on the checkout belt caught my eye. And the mini-yoga pants with a hot-pink band around the waist. The woman was buying girls clothes. Possibly for Christmas.

I looked at the woman, and she was exactly the type of customer you would expect to see in a Walmart. Tattered jeans, grungy sweatshirt, no makeup, unkempt hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, and skin that looks like she’s spent her fair share of time in a smokey bar. I watched her ask the cashier if she could stop ringing her out and tell her the current total. With tax, please. The cashier looked up at her, slightly annoyed, and said, “$211 and 36 cents.”

“Is that with tax?”

Another worker came over to help figure the tax. Two more people got in line behind me.

A new total. $240-something.

The woman looked at the rest of her items on the belt, looked at the cash in her wallet, grabbed the giant tube of ground chuck (the cheapest kind you can buy) off the belt and asked her to add that to the total but then stop, because she didn’t have enough money to buy the rest of the items. In her hand, I could see the Missouri EBT logo. Welfare money. She swiped her card. It covered the majority, but she still owed around $40, not including the stuff that had to be put back. She counted her tiny bit of cash and started looking at what else she could take off the bill so she could afford everything. She apologized for the inconvenience and asked if she needed to go put those items back for them. I looked at the items already in her cart. Palettes of can goods. Kitty litter. A bag of onions. This wasn’t her weekly shopping trip. This was her MONTHLY shopping trip. I looked at the rest of the items on the belt. The items she couldn’t afford to buy. Eggs. Coffee. A piece of chocolate cake. A couple cans of soup. Apples. And of course, the slippers and yoga pants.

Another worker came over to put the items into an empty cart and haul them away. She apologized again for the inconvenience. I looked at my wallet. $20 was the only cash I had on me and I started to pull it out to hand it to her, but I wasn’t sure if it would cover the total. I didn’t want this lady to have to agonize over what to buy for another minute. The line was already getting pretty long behind me. Impatient sighs, toe-tapping, and weight shifting from leg to leg as people peered around to see why the hold up. So I did the next best thing.

I grabbed the worker’s arm and quietly said to her, “You don’t have to put that stuff back. I’ll buy these items for her.”

“All of it?” She asked.

“All of it.”

The woman turned toward me before my words had registered. I watched her face turn from embarrassment to shock and then to thankfulness.

“You don’t have to do this,” she said. “Do you want my phone number or can I get your address to pay you back? My husband and I know how to do home repairs, so if you need some work done to your house, I’d be happy to do it?”

“No, that’s ok. I just noticed it looked like you were Christmas shopping,” I said, as I pointed to the slippers.

The cashier finished. “Your total is $42.65.” I swiped my card and was glad I didn’t just hand her the $20. It wouldn’t have covered it.

“Yes, for my little girl.” I could hear her words getting caught in her throat.

“Those slippers are very cute. I hope she has a nice Christmas.”

“She will now…”

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