Yellow Daisy Chick Chat



David Sedaris, Robert Siegel, my Samsung Galaxy, and me

It’s my holiday blog! A hog, if you will.

So far my December has been made up of many, many lists of varying degrees of importance. There are lists of people to buy for, a list of people to send cards to, a birthday list for my oldest, grocery lists for holiday eats, quick lists for last-minute needs from Michael’s, and the usual to-do list that somehow needs to get done in the midst of holiday to-do’s.

This year, I’ve used technology like a junkie uses her heroin. If I misplace my Samsung Galaxy smart phone for even a nanosecond, I get the shakes. If I leave my phone at home while shopping, I start to trash the store like a Charlie Sheen hotel room. Ok, now I’m exaggerating, but suffice it to say I get pretty stressed out. My phone has my world in it. It has been so helpful to me in my time of need; I feel like it’s another appendage. My memo app is like a sister to me. At the least, a 1st girl cousin. It’s the personal assistant I’ve always wanted. It’s the wife I’ll never have; damn you, Heterosexuality!

My computer has been a helpful holiday tool, as well. I have ordered so many gifts online this year; it has been wonderful. I’m not really a big shopper. I like to get in and get it done.  I do not delight in finding that oh-so-difficult-to-find-toy; in fact, I despise it. My daughter, I discovered yesterday, wants one of those toys this year; last week, mind you, it was easy to find. It was relatively cheap. I just wasn’t ready yet…I didn’t have my list together. So this week, it’s nowhere. I mean, nowhere. It’s a voice activated diary, with invisible ink and at this point, hopefully in a jewel-encrusted case, because I had to go on eBay and pay TWICE the amount to “Buy It Now.” Newsflash: I do not have the attention span or patience for the auctions. Said toy also got mixed reviews online with the voice recognition looking questionable, but it was in her top 3. I’m realizing as I write this what an even huge-r idiot I am. But, it was free 2 day shipping. (NO IT WASN’T! YOU PAID TWICE THE PRICE FOR THE @#$% TOY, HUGE IDIOT!)

Despite this trauma, I am moving on and am just trying to finish the lists. My list for the kids is in Word, rather than a scrap piece of paper this year. I still have not gotten over the year that my son found the scrap paper and I had to do some scrambling to be sure he was surprised. He wasn’t even snooping; he stumbled upon it. While they shouldn’t be in my Word for any reason, I still was careful not to name it “Christmas List for the Kids 2011.” I tried to think of names for it that would repel any snoopage; I thought of naming it “Lunch at American Girl” for my 10-year-old son, but it wouldn’t work for the 6-year-old girl. There was “Church Clothes and Shoes”, but again, the girl would look. So I came up with “NPR,” a subject which creates a rare unity of disgust and annoyance in both kids. When it’s on the radio, their cries of “No, Mom” are in beautiful, Simon-and-Garfunkle harmony.

They even typed in their lists on my phone themselves. Again, no paper to keep up with. They put it in, so it’s not MY list of items bought. It’s their list for me. Perfect! Except there’s nothing handwritten to keep in their memory books. Oh yeah, they don’t have memory books. They do have memory boxes, which is filled with stuff that would look great in a memory book. I do plan on putting those together, as soon as I’m retired.

I am making my lists and checking them twice. Right there, on my phone and in my computer. I feel more organized this year, which probably means I’m about to go off the rails. Sometimes I feel like I live in the weeds; maybe I really like it there. I do need some pressure to get motivated, so maybe I am just a weeds kind of girl. If you’re gonna live in the weeds, you better have some technology and some lists.

How did we do it in yesteryear without all of this technology? We did it, but I’m glad we don’t have to anymore. I got a wireless printer early this year for Christmas, so no real need for a list for myself; but I do have one awesome gift for you to put on your list: David Sedaris’ holidays on ice. Here’s an excerpt:

“This afternoon I worked as an Exit Elf, telling people in a loud voice, ‘THIS WAY OUT OF SANTALAND.’ A woman was standing at one of the cash registers paying for her idea of a picture, while her son lay beneath her kicking and heaving, having a tantrum.

The woman said, ‘Riley, if you don’t start behaving yourself, Santa’s not going to bring you any of those toys you asked for.’

The child said, ‘He is too going to bring me toys, liar, he already told me.’

The woman grabbed my arm and said, ‘You there, Elf, tell Riley here that if he doesn’t start behaving immediately, then Santa’s going to change his mind and bring him coal for Christmas.’

I said that Santa no longer traffics in coal. Instead, if you’re bad he comes to your house and steals things. I told Riley that if he didn’t behave himself, Santa was going to take away his TV and all his electrical appliances and leave him in the dark. ‘All your appliances, including the refrigerator. Your food is going to spoil and smell bad. It’s going to be so cold and dark where you are. Man, Riley, are you ever going to suffer. You’re going to wish you never heard the name Santa.’

The woman got a worried look on her face and said, ‘All right, that’s enough.’

I said, ‘He’s going to take your car and your furniture and all the towels and blankets and leave you with nothing.’

The mother said, ‘No, that’s enough, really.’ —Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris

I heart David Sedaris. Put it on your list. Better yet, go buy it now.

But please don’t mention to him that I put the excerpt on here. I think I could get in trouble, so if you know him, don’t mention it to him, ‘kay?

And, here is my holiday gift to you: this Elf Yourself video with myself, David Sedaris, Robert Siegel, and my Samsung phone:

Me and my elf buds

Happy Elfing Holidays to you and yours!


p.s. Sorry if the blog technology is not up to par…my absence from my blog might be showing in my lacking blog finesse.

Buster, the Elf: The Untold Story

Today was baking day.  Spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen baking away, with 3 successes and only 1 disaster, so all in all, a pretty good day.  Although, my disaster redo is in the oven now and I am praying to the cooking gods that it will turn out, because my holiday get-up-and-go has got-up-and-went!  My back is aching, my brain is fried and my kitchen floor is more or less covered in flour and sugar.  In the midst of my holiday baking-fatigued-anxiety, I thought I would distract myself with a good ol’ holiday blog on…Elf on the Shelf Mishaps.

Almost every family I know with young children now has an Elf on their Shelf.  For those unfamiliar, these Christmas elves appear on the shelves of little children, in order to report back to Santa every night on the children’s naughtiness or niceness.  They appear on different days, some at Thanksgiving, some lazier ones later in December.  Some leave gifts, some don’t.  They appear with a book that gives some vague information, which often leaves parents and kids having to fill in some gaps along the way. 

Our elf showed up several years ago and was given the name Buster; I’m already pretty sure that at least one of my future grandchildren will also have said name.  Buster’s arrival is anticipated as soon as the leaves start to change color, sometimes earlier.  Buster is a major celebrity at our house.  He is honestly approaching Santa status at this point, and I hope Santa doesn’t end up in rehab, or on a bad reality show, feeling like a has-been! 

Buster usually arrives in mid-December, after my kids are convinced that he will not show up because ALL of their friends’ elves have already come.  My 10-year-old still amazingly loves Buster as much, if not more, than my 5-year-old.  They leave him food, candy, and letters; they talk to him more than they talk to me.  It is a trip.  And if their behavior gets out of line, a mere mention of Buster’s reports to Santa will have them acting like little cherubs in no time.  I’m starting to wonder if we need a year round Buster…

Speaking of, one June afternoon a couple of years ago, my son found Buster under the bed.  I heard him screaming, “Mommy, Mommy, come quick!”  I thought he might be hurt, but soon found him on hands and knees, holding up the bed skirt.  “Buster’s here!  He’s really here!” he gleefully exclaimed. 

“Well, that’s strange, isn’t it?” I wondered.  Yet he was right, there was Buster, on his side, covered in dust bunnies, under my bed.  Then it came to me.  “I’ll bet he knew you were acting up last week and he came to check in on you.”

“Oh, yeah, you’re right, Mommy.  I’m going to go write him a note and tell him how sorry I am,” my son said, scrambling to get a pen and paper.  Buster, apparently satisfied with the apology, was gone the next day.

There have been other elf mishaps.  One morning, we awoke to find Buster slouched in a heap on our computer desk.  He looked like he had gotten into the egg nog the night before and was feeling a bit hung over.  The children found him and started worrying over him, because one of the rules is that you can NOT touch him or he will lose his magic.  “What happened to Buster?  What is wrong with him?  Why is he laying down?  But we can’t pick him up!” they fretted.  I thought about getting the kitchen tongs.  Instead, since he looked so peaked, I suggested we put the Children’s Tylenol by him to take later.  And when they returned from school, he was sitting upright and looking much better, thanks to that Tylenol.

Another friend’s elf had fallen down once, and their mother went to help him and he WINKED at her, which let her know she could pick him up.  And so far, his magic is still there.  Good to know!

Yet another friend told me that their neighbor came over and saw their elf and didn’t know that you couldn’t touch him.  The neighbor picked their elf up and started running around with him, while her children were freaking out, tears in their eyes, begging their mother to stop her!  The mother was able to rescue the elf, and assured the kids that as long as a family member did not touch them, his magic was still safe.  Also, good to know. 

My friends and I all seem to have elves that sometimes don’t move every day; it’s always a little disconcerting when Buster hasn’t moved or hasn’t brought the daily treat.  Of course, sometimes the Tooth Fairy forgets to stop by our house, too.  But I guess even elves and Tooth Fairies need a break every now and then, and it never seems to happen 2 times in a row.

Maybe you have an Elf on the Shelf mishap you’d like to share?  Please feel free to comment, I’d love to hear more stories.  Buster may have caused some concern from time to time, but is definitely a big part of our Christmas.  I can’t imagine the holiday without him; he has touched us all (while we take care not to touch him!)  May his magic live on forever… 

The Elf on the Shelf

*A special thanks to all the friends who shared their stories with me- you know who you are!

Survival, Simplicity and Screw the Joneses, Ya Jackwagon

Today I did something that made my Christmas.  Every year, like many moms, I end up mega-stressed with all of the decorating, the shopping, the commitments, the hectic pace of the holidays.  And years like this one, when my freelance work isn’t bringing in the big bucks, have the added financial stress.  We’ve been sick this week, survival mode is beginning to set in, and it’s only December 4!  And although I know I shouldn’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses, I’m always wondering how our Santa visits compare to other families’.  It’s enough to give me a migraine.  Maybe I need to go see that shrink on the Geico commercial, “why don’t we chuck on over to namby pamby land!  And we’ll get you some self-confidence, ya jackwagon” and then he would throw the Kleenex box at me.  I love that guy.

So today, in the midst of it all, our family went to see “A Little House Christmas” at the Legacy Theatre in Tyrone, and it has already made my holiday.

As a little girl, my favorite tv show was “Little House on the Prairie.”  I watched it every week, back in the days when cartoons were only on tv on Saturdays and DVDs were nonexistent.  I begged my mom to make me a Laura Ingalls dress and wore my hair in braids.  I watched it until she was married to Almanzo (what kind of name WAS that?) and there were those extra random kids, like Jason Bateman…I wonder if the tv folks made that part up?  Anyway, I was their #1 fan, and I may have been more excited about the play than my kids were.

It was our first time to the Legacy (, and for a small local theatre, I was impressed.  Tickets were only $10 each, an affordable family outing compared to the high prices at the Fox or elsewhere.  The set and costumes were really good, and the actors were great and acted and looked true to their parts, especially Nellie- she was the perfect mix of prissy, bitchy, and just plain mean as a snake.  I hadn’t thought about Little House in years, and hadn’t remembered their Christmas stories in decades.  One thing I remembered from the show was that they got an orange, a peppermint stick, and a shiny penny in their stocking.  As a kid, I thought they were royally ripped off, as compared to my stocking overflowing with artificially flavored candy and little toys Made In China.  As an adult, I love the simplicity of it. 

After they throw a Christmas party with their friends and family, there is a bad rain storm and the bridge near their Little House is washed away.  Since the bridge connects them to town, Ma and Pa explain to the girls that Santa might not make it this year, because he had left their gifts in town.  Sure enough, there were no gifts from Santa Christmas morning, but the girls make homemade gifts for Ma and Pa.  They make the best of it.  And then, good ol’ Mr. Edwards shows up!  Turns out, he had run into Santa in town and brought their gifts to them!  Their gifts were…get ready… coats.  The girls were thrilled.  They oohed and aahed over how nice they were.  They appreciated the value of the coats in the cold winters of Minnesota.  Can you imagine a time like that?  When I think of the true value of most of the stuff I give my kids, it’s pretty pathetic.  Many of the plastic toys break, clothes are cheaply made and last a season, but hey, at least they are affordable.  That is the price we pay for modern life, I guess.

Mr. Edwards was awesome, and I remember thinking he was the coolest guy when I was a kid.  They ended up having a nice Christmas morning with a simple meal, Pa on the fiddle, and decorating the tree.  They knew what really mattered, in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s words, “love, kindness, being with friends and family, and just being good.”  In that theatre, I imagined my heart growing three sizes like in the Grinch.  And I realized, screw the Joneses, it’s the other true friends like Mr. Edwards and our families that count.  Armed with that revelation and a focus on keeping it simple, I just might survive the holidays.

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