Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in the Desert

B and I made it to Palm Springs despite a major downpour, meltdown and soaking wet car ride from Ontario. Some highlights from our trip:

Waking up at 6am and curling up on the couch each morning together with no work or school to rush off to

Watching B trail his grandpa non-stop

Showing B the desert terrain and hearing him say, "This is SO different from Sacramento!"

Looking for rabbits on our desert walks

Shopping on Palm Canyon Drive with my step-mom while my dad spends quality time with B

Introducing my dad and stepmom to lunch at McDonald's

Surviving lunch at McDonald's

Seeing my dad hunched over a 500 piece Lego-type activity, glasses pushed down to the nose, brow furrowed, attempting to assemble a top fuel dragster for B

Consuming Tempranillo and Muse wine on my birthday. Oh, and there was salmon too.

Having my hair colored in pajamas, twice. Having my hair styled twice too.

Eating fantastic, home-cooked meals each night.

Reading 11 issues of People magazine and one issue of Sunset, you know, for culture

Picking through an entire box of See's Candy for the best chocolates and sharing a "it's my birthday, let's eat as many cookies as we want" experience with B

Hearing B say, "This is the best Christmas ever, Mommy! I don't want to go home."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Big Orange Boxes & Other Christmas Blessings/Chaos

I'm counting my blessings this Christmas while trying to remain zen-like in the chaos.

First, the presents. My child knows his Mommy really well. There was a big orange box under the tree this year. Anyone who has any idea about my tastes is well aware of my addiction to Lucy stores. Unfortunately, the present wasn't exactly a surprise as I had to take a little peek at the contents of the orange box last week to know how to reciprocate vis a vis a gift to B's dad (from B, of course). This whole topic of exes giving gifts, even from the children, is one that I have mixed thoughts about and wouldn't mind nixing completely. But, then again, I'm going to have a nice store credit at Lucy so it's not like I'm in a super big hurry to nix the tradition.

We are not staying home for long. In fact, by the time you read this, we'll most likely be en route for Palm Springs. Which is another blessing, although it's raining just as hard there as it is here and I just read online that a severe weather alert has been issued. However, two grandparents are standing by...waiting for some bonding time with B. Which means, yes, that I can sit back and enjoy some quiet reading time and perhaps a yoga class. But we have to get there first and my child is seriously overtired and overwired. We have an hour long flight into Ontatio then there's the whole car rental scene. At the rate we're going, my bag of tricks will be seriously depleted before are even airborne.

While we are away, my Mom is dog and house-sitting and also probably dipping into my Zanax stash because my sister arrived late last night with her two kittens. It's a good time for me to be far away because I just don't think that there is enough Zanax in the house to go around once my one-year-old Lab gets a whiff of those sweet, young kittens and the chaos truly begins.

True to form, my Mom arrived at my home last night weighed down with enough food for a month, and an assortment of organization tools. She has decided that my kitchen needs her organizational touch - which means, basically, that when we return, every glass, fork, ice cream scoop, spatula, and soup can will be color coded, labeled and cross-referenced. And let me tell you that she has her work cut out for her because I am already a neat freak in the kitchen. The obsessive compulsive notch is about to be dialed way up as she discovers that I don't have expired food or copious quantities of anything (except ice) in my freezer. There may be a stray drinking glass or some mis-matched Tupperware to contend with but that's about it. So the real blessing is that I will come home to a very organized house.

Most of all, I'm thankful and feel very blessed to look forward to this image (minus the cats, perhaps) for many years to come:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Gingerbread Houses

Once upon a time, there lived a 5-year-old little boy who had a mother who did not care for the holiday season, at all. To make her son believe that she was somewhat festive, the mother went through all the necessary traditions - trimming the tree, providing a morning sugar rush with an Advent candy each day, belting out "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" during every trip in the car, and making the appropriate comments about Santa's gifts. The mother even purchased a gingerbread house kit with grand visions of assembling the house - cue the background Christmas music - on a rainy December afternoon with her sweet son.

Unbeknownst to the mother, the father of the child also bought a gingerbread house kit for he and the boy to put together. On the second weekend of December, they did just that and the result was a very symmetric and well-decorated gingerbread centerpiece.

Upon returning to his mother's home, the boy told her of the fine time he had with his dad and the lovely gingerbread creation they had produced together. The mother, hiding her surprise quite well, pulled out the gingerbread kit she had purchased and showed it to the boy. "That's it," the boy exclaimed. "That's the same house I did with Daddy!"

Not to be outdone, the mother turned to her kitchen shelves and pulled out every container of sprinkles she could find. There were sprinkles left over from Easter, unused sprinkles from Fourth of July, and a large stash of red and green candy from last Christmas. "These," proclaimed the mother, "will make our gingerbread home a masterpiece!" "And," she added, "you may eat as much of the frosting and as many sprinkles as you like."

The project was laid out, the music was cued up, a candle was lit and the rain came down. It was the perfect setting for a festive afternoon. Except for the small issue of a weak gingerbread foundation.

After multiple attempts and several verbal expressions that cannot be shared in this little story, the mother scooped out as much frosting as she could with her hands and tried to stick the walls and the roof together. The house remained upright. For about one minute. And then the roof caved in, the sides fell apart, and the child let out a bloodcurdling scream. Upon hearing the scream, the dog jumped off her bed and ran for the back of a chair. The child fled from the kitchen, sobbing. And the mother wondered if she should call Child Protective Services. The mother opted instead to search for a bottle of wine. Fortunately she didn't have to look very far. She surveyed the scene:

The mother dragged the child back into the kitchen and delivered a strong lecture about overreacting and generally acting like a spoiled brat. She said things like: "Do you think that the kids in after school care are making gingerbread houses right now?" And: "Do you know how lucky you are that you are home with me, doing this?" And the clincher: "Do you know that Mommy should be at work full time to cover this Godforsaken mortgage payment and that we could crumble like this gingerbread house?" The mother then recalled some wise tidbit about not involving kids in adult problems and she coerced the child into getting into the car and driving to Target to procure another gingerbread house.

So, the mother and the child dashed through the pouring rain and found the gingerbread aisle in Target. And it was quite barren. Except for the large selection of gingerbread train kits.

A train kit was scooped up by the boy and the story of how his mother "ruined" his gingerbread was re-told to anyone and everyone in the Target store - register clerk, security guard, other moms, bored teenagers - who would listen. "My dad's gingerbread house is so awesome," he added, each time, and for good measure.

The boy and his mother returned with the kit and the mother just about fell over in joy upon seeing that the innovative people who thought up the gingerbread train also had the brilliant idea to provide a foundation in which to place the icing and the crackers. As she opened her bottle of wine, she also realized that she could salvage the remains of the original gingerbread structure and have nearly double the candy and icing. This seemed to please the boy, as well.

Train assembled, the child went after the candy, eating to his heart's content and occasionally placing some on his train while the mother sat nearby, chugging (oh, I mean SIPPING), her wine.

Two hours later, the child held his belly and told his mother that even though he had eaten too much candy, that the train was the "best" part of his Christmas. "Even better," he added happily, "than that gingerbread house at daddy's."

And that is why the mother now has ten gingerbread train kits and umpteen containers of sprinkles.

Friday, December 19, 2008


The self-help gurus say that our lives are not shaped by what happens to us. Instead, apparently, we can become more EVOLVED by analyzing the quality of our reactions to life's events. Knowing this, let's take a look back at my reactions this week:


Mom's biopsy. Partial lung collapse. Instant overnight hospital stay.

My reaction: Panic

"My mom's going to die! B will never know his Grandma. Who will help me with child care? What will I do without a mom?"


Find out details about B's school holiday show. B is an elf, supposedly, for "Rudolph" number.

My reaction: Indignant.

"An elf? Really? Which child is Rudolph? Who is Santa? Our family has so much musical talent...Aunt J revived Carnegie Hall in her day, Uncle R plays for the Met, Cousin E pals around with Yo Yo Ma when they're not in concert together, well that's the other side of the family, actually, but...really, an ELF?"


The announcement comes home in the backpack: Lice outbreak!

My reaction: Shock (with, perhaps, a bit of ignorance), obsessive compulsion

"Lice?! But this is Montessori. I thought that Montessori schools were immune to lice. We need to re-think private school. B, get your backback, your jacket and your lunchbox into the washing machine NOW. In fact, why don't you hop in there too? Just for a short cycle. Never mind that the water's scalding hot. Wait, wait, what are you doing? Are you scratching your HEAD?"


The school holiday show makes its way into a third hour.

My reaction: None, really. Just a slow and tortured death.

"Can you hear everyone coughing in here? If you didn't have a cold before you got here, you're certainly going home with one. Every grade is performing tonight? The entire K through 8? Note to self...enroll B in K through 6 programs from now on. Didn't they consider possibly implementing a time limit on these skits? It's hour two and the kindergartners are dropping off like flies. Hey, speaking of flies, that kid seated next to B is scratching his head. A LOT. Move B away from him! Quick, move B!"


Off to oncologist appointment with mom. Biopsy results are benign! There is no cancer! Only sarcoidosis.

My reaction: Immediate and immense gratitude.

"The best Christmas present of all. Thank you, God."

Oh, but I'm not done yet.


Walking the dog through McKinley Park in the afternoon; rather, struggling to keep my rotator cuff intact as she lunges for squirrels, small children and other dogs. Catch a glimpse of Santa, yes, the big, red man from the North Pole, in a convertible, top down, with Rudolph in the passenger seat, cruising down J Street.

My reaction: Not surprised, but slightly miffed at myself for not carrying along a camera at all times for such occasions.

"Only in Sacramento would Santa be seen in a bright red, convertible Corvette. If this were San Francisco, New York, DC, or any other city with an ounce of sophistication, Santa would certainly roll in a convertible Saab or something comparable...Mercedes, BMW, you get the picture. I thought that the old guy was past a mid-life crisis but apparently he got the Sacramento memo, stating that all men should have a Corvette, preferably of the convertible variety, and should drive said vehicle slowly while ogling females and their dogs in McKinley Park. And I thought so highly of you, Santa."

It's Official. I've LOST it.

I was invited to one measly holiday party this year. And it wasn't even technically a party as it took place from the hours of 3pm to 6pm and there weren't any "under 50s" invited, except for myself and a girlfriend. Nevertheless, I squeezed into my va-va-voom black pants and my once-a-year-fire-engine-red-sweater and made my way downtown.

Midway through the festivities and with two glasses of wine on board, imagine my surprise (and complete horror) when I looked down and saw THIS:

Nine West? Bandolino? Couldn't decide, so why not wear one of EACH?

Granted, I have a slight obsession with Mary Jane style shoes but you think I would have noticed the style of the toe (rounded or square), the size of the buckle (small or large), and certainly I would have noticed that I was standing much taller on the left side of my body and feeling rather lopsided from the moment I put my shoes on and dashed through the pouring rain.

This occurrence reminded me of a certain incident that happened downtown last year, in the same midtown area, but with far more alcohol and more people involved. I ended up coming home with my left black boot and my friend's right black boot. Since my parents read this blog, I can't go into the specifics, suffice to say that I haven't shown my face (or my shoes) on the midtown bar scene since.

Recalling Sunday's footwear fiasco to a friend, she empathized by saying, "You have a lot going on, J. Your mom could have cancer, it's the middle of the holiday season, your son is driving you crazy, you have a new dog, you haven't slept in days. You're just stressed. Very stressed."

To which, I replied, "Really??? Do ya think?!"

And then just to keep things interesting, I bought another pair of Mary Jane's. Black, of course, but with big red flowers around the buckle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

On The Edge & A Camp-Out In December

This week, my normally sweet 5-year-old morphed into a crazed, demonic creature and I don't know what to do about it.

It all started last weekend, at his dad's, when B had a little fever and a cough. The fever continued and the cough worsened. B stayed home from school on Monday. I picked him up on Tuesday morning and he looked like death warmed over. His voice was squeaky and his cough was barky.

I kept him home on Tuesday and made an appointment with the doctor. B's behavior was fairly normal for a sick child...a bit whiny but nothing too out of the ordinary. The pediatrician diagnosed croup and said that B could go back to school the following day if the fever was gone and if the night was restful.

Wednesday: fever gone - check. Restful night - check. Off to school. I picked him up at school that afternoon and that's when things started to go seriously downhill. We went to PetsMart to look at animals, then to the health food store to "sample" all the chocolate covered goodies. While we were at the health food store, I bought B his own stash of cheddar sesame sticks. Then, as we pulled into the driveway, he started to kick the back of the seat.

I intentionally planned a fun outing after school as an incentive to get B to cooperate for a family Christmas picture. He was well aware of the plan.

When we came in the house, my mom was here. B immediately started whining to her about being bored and not knowing what to do. This is a common statement in our home and it drives me nuts. I told B to go to the bathroom and change into a sweater for the picture. He told me no. Rather, he shouted no and ran away.

I grabbed him by the back of the neck and marched him into the bathroom and into the bedroom to change, while he screamed and pushed me.

We got it together long enough to pose for a picture which was a miserable failure - one croupy toddler, one lazy Labrador, and one over-zealous mom...recipe for multiple photo attempts.

I gave up on the picture. I had to get ready to go into work for the evening and my mom was going to watch B. I told B that we'd have to take a bath before I left. That really set him off; he hates bath time, always has.

Nevertheless, I dragged him back to the bathroom and threw him in the tub. Then he threw the dreaded statement at me: "I don't like you. I don't want to be with you at all."

I am such a sensitive sucker that I couldn't help but tear up. I looked away, pulled it together, got him out of the tub, kissed him goodbye and headed to work with a very heavy heart.

The next morning, I awoke to "THUMP-THUMP-THUMP" at 6am. B was in his bed, kicking the wall. I went in to his room and he began what would be a two hour rage session. Nothing could calm him down. I really didn't know how I was going to get myself ready for work and get him to school. I felt like I had a madman on my hands. In desperation, I threw him onto his bed and called my mom. I made multiple attempts to get B to do the normal stuff for school: go potty, wash hands, change out of PJs into school clothes. Nothing worked. I yelled. I used (a little) physical force. He had multiple time-outs. When we finally did make it into the car, he wouldn't look at me or talk to me. I walked him into class and told the teacher that we'd had a rough morning. He wouldn't interact with the other kids and wouldn't give me a hug good-bye. I felt like my heart was breaking.

It was hard for me to keep it together during my work hours. B doesn't understand that he and I, due to the nature of divorce, only get to spend 50% of our time together. Deduct school hours and work hours from that and you're looking at about 20% of the time. It truly kills me to be a part-time mom to B but I know I can't project my expectations onto him. Maybe in time he will understand.

I will spare you the rest of the details of Thursday and Friday, suffice to say that it was more of the same. "Incorrigible," I told my mom after a long, long day on Thursday. The next morning, we had the same struggles, only this time, there were several comments from B about his dislike of school.

On Fridays, I teach yoga at B's school. When I came into the classroom, B wouldn't look at me or participate in the poses.

B's dad, K, picked B up from school and they will be together for the weekend. I talked to K about B's behavior tonight. "Well, he's been fine for me," K replied. Right. Of course he has.

I am really stumped. Granted, things are a bit stressful at my home as my mom awaits her diagnosis. And, my house isn't the play zone that B has at his dad's. But, generally speaking, B is much more comfortable here with me and is always excited about returning for his stints with Mommy.

And here's the kicker. K informed me that they are having a camp-out in the backyard tonight. OK, it's as cold as it gets here in Sacramento right now and B has had croup all week. I had to seriously bite my tongue on that one. So B is going from sleeping in the tropics (humidifier and space heater, as directed by the doctor) to his dad's backyard and to the biting, dry cold of Sacramento fog. A camp-out in December? Only my ex would do this.
I am not pitching a tent in my backyard to compete with B's dad. However, as I reflect back on the last three days, I'm astonished by how much time I spent with B - one-to-one, doing activities that he truly enjoys and ignoring household chores to go to the pet store, the toy store, the ice cream shop. I think he's a pretty darn lucky kid.

On Monday, we'll start another three days together. I've never dreaded my time with B and I'm not about to start now. It's a new week and croup will (hopefully) be behind us. That is, if he doesn't have pneumonia from sleeping outside in freezing conditions. In the meantime, I've got a lot in the way of Christmas tasks to distract me from last week's events.

I know that single parenting is a long journey and a difficult road. We'll have a whole new set of issues to deal with at age 10, and even more at 15. Things are actually probably the easiest that they will ever be now, at age 5. If only my sweet boy would just return...

Christmas photo attempt #1:
"Molly, I know you just retrieved the ball 22 times but for the love of God, SIT UP!"

Christmas photo attempt #2:
"B, open your eyes! Down, Molly!"

Christmas photo attempt #3 (aka: the final straw):
"Molly, get up. GET UP! B, try not to look so sick. One more time, just one more. Don't cry. Oh, just forget it!!!"

Now, how the heck do I get rid of this duplicate? Where's the delete function???

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cancer & Croup

Cancer and croup...both topics are alive and well in our household.

My mom's PET scan results came in today which revealed spots on her liver. We are still optimistic that sarcoidosis is the diagnosis but we won't know for sure until she has a lung biopsy on Monday. Mom had to wait several hours on the nurse practitioner to call back with the results. She was here the entire time, helping out with B and I could tell that it was very stressful for her. Sometimes I wonder why medical results have to wait until the 5:00pm hour to be discussed. Obviously doctors are busy, but a few moments, maybe in the noon time hour doesn't seem like too much to ask for.

Meanwhile, B has croup. He's been out of school all week. His imitation of a seal is dead-on today. Hopefully, that won't be the case tonight at midnight. The pediatrician ordered up a prescription of prednizone, which is, ironically, the nasty stuff used to treat sarcoidosis.

So here's the riddle of the day: What does it take to obtain said prescription?

Obvious answer would be: One trip to the local Long's pharmacy.

Actual answer is: One trip to Fair Oaks pharmacy, two phone calls to dr's office from that location, one Hot Wheels purchase to pacificy the barking boy, two more calls to dr's office from cell phone en route to another pharmacy, one phone call to dr's office also en route, change route to re-group at home and get the bark under control with some dinner, three more calls to Longs, two calls to dr's office, and an "I give up, kids lived through croup without the stuff...there will be no prednizone tonight!" Complete process with a call from the nicest woman ever at the local Long's and a follow-up apology call from the dr.'s office. Oh, and a $5.00 co-payment for the medication and a statement of "thank God the child is on his dad's health insurance plan and not mine!" and now we're in business with prednizone administered and B fast asleep with the humidifer blasting away.

What is up with the medical community anyway? Is everything so backed up and super slow that a simple phone call - whether to calm an anxious 65-year-old woman, waiting on a cancer diagnosis OR to get the right medication into a croupy 5-year-old - cannot be made in a timely manner? I can't come up with a good answer and thus...

I am so done for today.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Then & Now

How much can two best friends alter their appearances in the short span of just two months? Amazing what a pair of scissors and a bottle of bleach can do.

Take a look at my best friend, K, and me at B's birthday party in October:

And, here we are at the birthday party for E, K's son, last weekend:

I think K's channeling Sharon Stone and Halle Berry, while I've got an obsession going with Brit and Nic.

Now what's really crazy is the party last weekend, I am wearing the jeans that K borrowed when she was pregnant and she is wearing the jeans that I practically wore out in my super skinny days. We've literally traded both pairs of jeans back and forth, depending on who's having a baby, who's nursing, who's going through a divorce, and who's too busy to eat (that would be her...3 boys under 5...she barely has time to feed them, let alone herself).

I don't have the heart to show you any photos of us before and after children. Maybe after a few rounds of Botox, we'll have some different pictures to post after next year's birthday parties. In the meantime, we've got our great hair stylists and our super cool jeans and heartfelt friendship with each other and between our 5-year-old boys. What more could we need?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kneeling In Church: Do So At Your Own Risk

Being a fitness instructor keeps me on a fairly short leash. Anything requiring any kind of risk is pretty much out for me. Crappy health insurance, no disability plan, zero sick days, single mom, big mortgage payment...need I say more?

About this time of year, I start turning down invitations to ski (I've never been good at falling - someone once remarked that my falls resembled yard sales...skis, boots, clothes, and body parts everywhere!).

Then there's bicycling. The training wheels came off when I was about 16 and I've never had any balance improvement. Cycling down the American River Parkway sounds like great fun, not to mention a super way to meet fit and fabulous guys, but I wouldn't last a mile without tipping the bike and taking out someone else in the process.

My beloved roller blading ended, sadly, in 1999 when a nasty fall in SF landed me in bed for two months with a double-fracture pelvis.
Funny sideline on this one. When my mom heard the news, the first question out of her mouth was NOT, "Are you OK?" Instead, it was: "Can you still have children???"

And then there's Half Dome, an out of this world experience that I love to do with my dad. I've bowed out in recent years, given the fact that the whole cable system is just too darn antiquated for my comfort level.

I won't even go into the number of guys who have tried to persuade me to ride on a motorcycle. No f---ing way on that on one. Even more important than my career and ability to make money is my responsibility to be around for my kid which immediately eliminates all Harley enthusiasts and gosh, there are a lot of them out there.

So getting around to the title of this post. Finally. Here I am in church last week going through the stand up, sit down, share the peace - all the rituals associated with the Episcopal church. We do this every week, same thing, and I'm almost to the point where I don't need to cling to my "instruction sheet," also known as the weekly bulletin, as my lifeline. Then we get to the Confessions part of the program. My personal favorite. I love to have a clean slate with God, particularly when it only takes 30 seconds (give or take) of reciting.

The person next to me pulls down the kneeling pad (there must be a name for this but I am a new Episcopalian so I haven't learned it yet), I adjust my skirt, I start to bend, I land, "CRACK" goes my right knee as it makes contact with the pad.

"God is punishing me this week," I think, as my knee throbs. Could it be that unkind word to my mother? Or the swear word that just happened to slip out when B threw his play dough at me? Or maybe, I'm being reminded that this month's offering to the church was slightly lower due to the fact that I've contributed more to my other holy institution, known as Starbucks. Whatever the case, my knee is not happy.

After confessing, I wait my turn to hobble down the aisle and receive communion. Here we go again: adjust skirt, bend, but this time, I angle my right knee back so I'm kind of in a lunge at the front altar. Like a "low lunge" in yoga. Skirt and all. I eat the body of Christ, drink His blood, go through the Eucharist motions, limp back to my seat and vow to never return to church.

Just kidding. We actually have two more opportunities to kneel during the service which I choose not to do. I go home, ice my knee, and reflect back on my Baptist upbringing and the physical rituals involved in that church: stand up, sit down, a little swaying, possibly some arm waving. I'd bet that no knee cartilage was ever jeopardized in the Baptist church.

This entire week I've had to explain to my students and clients exactly why I can't demonstrate exercises on my right knee. Which has been pretty darn embarrassing. And so, if you happen to see me in church wearing knee pads, you'll now know why.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Behold The (Fake) Tree

I won't be blogging much about the holidays because I really, really loathe almost every part of the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's. I'll spare you the details, suffice to say, I am the ultimate scrooge. I think I get it from my dad.

I do manage to grace our home with a lovely Christmas tree every year. We are not of the "hunt and kill" Christmas tree tradition. Being a single mom with no adult male on the scene (um, at least consistently), I cannot fathom the idea of taking an ax to a would-be Christmas tree, loading the thing onto my car, making it home with the tree still strapped onto the car and then somehow negotiating it into the house and wedging its trunk into the tree base. The mere notion of that whole process makes me feel like dipping into Santa's little helper jar, otherwise known as the Xanax stash.

As a child, my parents took us kids to the tree farm and we had the fun-filled experience of finding the perfect tree and bringing it home to live with us for the holiday season. God bless my parents for doing that. As a parent now, I can sincerely appreciate their efforts in making the tree event truly special (and fairly peaceful, as I recall). They must have popped a lot of Xanax.

These days, the only thing that stands in the way of me and the tree is a big load of rat poop. The tree lives in the garage year round and makes a brief appearance during the four LOOOONNNNNGGGGGGG weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Come the day after Christmas, that baby is whisked off to live among the garage rats for another 48 weeks. As far as I'm concerned, the tree's purpose is to provide shelter for all the gifts and the moment the gifts are removed, well, the tree must be too.

This year, I must say, B's interest in decorating the tree was significantly improved. We ended up very "bottom heavy" on the ornaments but I did some re-decorating while he was in bed and all is proportionate now. Now if I can just get him to play along with the "Let's Move the Ornaments Around Game So Mommy Can Surf the Internet." Of course I mean, "So Mommy Can Get Her Paperwork Done."

In any event, the damn thing is up and the holidays are alive and well in our home. B's breaking into his advent calendar candy every morning at 6am and I'm looking longingly at the Xanax bottle. Oh, yes, Christmas has arrived.