Dec 252013

Perfect last year, perfect this year.  You’ll excuse me while I take a “week off” and repost some of the oldies, but goodies from last year.  None more appropriate that today’s post.  Merry Chrismas and xo, dear readers…

Silent Night.

Holy Night.

Christ the Savior is Born.

Dec 232013


I’m struggling this year, I won’t lie.  I want desperately to feel the glorious Christmas spirit and impart some beautiful words of cheer your way today, readers, but…

This whole Christmas season I have been a beast.  In fact, it’s times like these I’m super-glad I’ve nailed my husband down with a wedding ring so he has to put up with me.  Love you, babe, xo.

I do not feel like trudging through the fourth miraculous snowstorm of the week for preschool drop-off.

I look at the ornaments from my mom on our tree and I miss her.

Hosting the annual party?  Good times, but I’m tired.

Speaking of exhaustion, whenever I try to watch a Christmas movie, I just fall asleep on the couch.  So I still haven’t seen Elf in it’s entirety this season, and that just feels horrendously wrong.  Also, and perhaps most egregious, I haven’t watched the Hallmark Channel once all season, and this is offensive to all things that define the fluffy part of myself.

The thing is, with kids, there is so much pressure as parents to make their season magical. To ice that gingerbread house, build that snowman, hang out with Santa, and slap bows on anything red or green.  It’s a lot. A lot of a lot.

While I was busy trying to convince myself the other day that my children will not require therapy for my failed efforts as a mother to provide the perfect Christmas, God sent me shot of clarity.  No, no perfect Christmases around here, nor will there ever be.  But maybe, just maybe, it is ENOUGH.  What my husband and I are doing for these kiddos is good enough.

Maybe it’s possible that they will still enjoy Christmas if the icing on the gingerbread house drips messily and the dog ate the cute gingerbread man that came with the kit.

Maybe they will just see a pretty sparkly tree and never ache for their grandma who helped decorate it.  Or maybe they will.  Either way actually seems okay.

Maybe they will somehow still “get” the true reason we celebrate the season is our Savior, even when Mommy grumbles through the icy parking lot on the way to church.

Maybe they will just see the parts that are there instead of the parts that are missing.

Maybe, even when things are off and we are so busy not getting it perfect, it will somehow be good enough and we can all still celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth amidst the sea of shiny wrapping paper and very-likely burned baked corn.

My hope and prayer for all of us this season, dear readers, is that our Christmases, while often far from ideal, can just be ENOUGH.

I love you all and Merry Christmas, dear readers.

Dec 202013

My film skills are notoriously bad.  Flipping the camera upside down, shaking the screen, forgetting it’s on and recording the carpet for 15 minutes…I do it all.  Maybe someday I will get my crap together and treat you to a montage of this sweet skill.

While sadly, my lack of talent precludes me from a Hollywood gig, the exciting news is that I am SO AWFUL at video-recording, that sometimes I can still surprise myself.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were trolling through old pictures and we came across this gem THAT I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HAD BEEN RECORDED.  When we found it, we both fell off the couch from laughing so hard.  It was awesome.

Remember this sweet photo-shopped selfie from when You have Lipstick on Your Teeth was released??

You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth #ITPRLipstick @meredithspidel

THIS is what went behind the capturing of this moment. Consider it my Christmas gift from me to you.

Tune out after 51 sec. because the guitar gets boring after that, but please, please note the highlights of me falling off the chair and then getting pissed at the camera.

xo with so much love, dear readers.

Holiday shopping #ITPRLipstick @meredithspidel

Dec 182013
Hey Mom...

Hey Mom…

There is no shortage of rituals that began around here after my mom died last year.  There is The Bracelet, which I filled you in on before.  There is the fact that I keep Yankee in business by having this bizarre need to burn a candle whenever I am home for longer than a millisecond.  That I call my doctor every 3 months and beg for more sleeping pills because my brain can’t seem to shut off without them. Yes, I am admitting I am a drug addict.

And then comes Christmas.  This one is tough for me.  Tough because I love this season so much and swoon whenever I see red and green, but…BUT…but…last year I sort of fell apart.  It wasn’t pretty.  There was a lot of runny mascara, crumpled kleenex and a very baffled husband who had no idea what to do to abate the pain.

I don’t have answers for how to do this year “better”, but who knows?  Without making any predictions, maybe it will naturally just be better because it’s not the first year without my mom here.  Firsts are always such nasty beasts.

I do know that I have started yet another ritual.  When digging through my mom’s holiday stuff several months ago, I found a gorgeous sweet porcelain bud vase.  I knew instantly I had to put it out and keep a single red rose in it during the Christmas season. I am not sure why I had this conviction; it wasn’t as though she liked red roses more than any other flower.  But when I saw the vase, I knew.  I knew there had to be a red rose and it had to be in that vase.

And how could my husband argue with this reason to buy flowers?  Nothing like playing the dead mom card…

I can’t bring her back. I can’t shop with her or see her face when she watches my kids on Christmas morning. I can’t call her in panicked tears when I’ve managed to burn all of the cookies I was baking or need someone to bring an extra gravy boat to the family dinner. She can’t be here.

But a red rose has found it’s way into the bud vase for the season.  And in this way, while the jingle bells are jingling and the tree sparkles in the background, my mom found a way into our Christmas.

xo, Mom.



Dec 092013
Source  Stop laughing, Santa, this is legit.

Stop laughing, Santa, this is legit.

Gosh, yes, we all know that what I really want most for Christmas is more cuddly time by that gorgeous Christmas tree with my family…or with a book and a hot chocolate while I put in ear plugs and pretend I can’t hear my children.  Same difference, really.

But in any case, if we were to focus on more material things, this is what I’m praying Santa throws in my stocking this year:

***Disclosure: NO DISCLOSURE, since I am not cool enough to figure out how to do one of those sponsored gift guide things.  This is just all stuff I really like.  Very similar to October Crush, when I just swooned freely over cool things.***

1. Sea Salt Spray.  What the wha???  Exactly, I know.  But I read an article where Salma Hayek said this goop changed her hair life, so naturally, I had to try some too, and…suddenly, strung-out witchy wavy hair easily structures into sweet curls?  Um, yes please.

Embracing Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggin-ness in all it's perfection

Embracing Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggin-ness in all it’s perfection

2. Tights. TIGHTS. Mostly, I blame my friends for not telling me that, despite my thighs looking obscenely large in this garment, the cozy knit fabric in these beastly winter months is WORTH IT.

3.Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. I have the driest hands in the world. This elixir?  Perfection in a tube–plus less scaly, cracked knuckles? Always a score in my book!

4.Elf If you don’t instantly pee yourself in agreement, obviously you have not seen the movie.  Or shouldn’t be reading this blog.  Either way, go rent it, and don’t be a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggin.

5. Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses. Sure, I’m all for Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus (as in, pursuit to any other end is foolhardy), but this song? Makes the holiday for me; true story. PLAY IT AGAIN PLEASE!!

6. Those reindeer antler things people rig up to stick out of their car windows? Not.  NOT. If you are of the camp that takes pride in these things, perhaps I can assuage my strong disenchantment by saying that, truly, I am in awe of you having your crap together enough to get them on your vehicle.

Source The Lucia, in all her sold-out glory.  Don't despair, similar items to swoon over still available.

The Lucia, in all her sold-out glory. Don’t despair, similar items to swoon over still available.

7. Darn me for agreeing to host this Stella and Dot trunk show.  Sure, I am the bleeding heart over these NICU baby families and love the opportunity to help them through this sale.  But not only do I find myself begging friends to buy stuff to support the show, I am now obsessively checking sale prices for items such as the astounding Lucia necklace. I am sucked in.

8. The Great Christmas Light Fight.  The only bummer of this seasonal ABC show? It didn’t start until 12/9.  We all know my seasonal obsessing (including open-mouth awe-ing at people who care this much about outdoor Christmas lighting) starts way earlier for me…

9. Margaritas with my Dead Parent Support Group (The DPSG).  Not only do I love these ladies, I know too well how tricky these holidays can be when you’ve lost someone special.  While formal grief group don’t personally work for me right now, tossing back a Mexican drink with my sisters in the thick of December most definitely does work for me.

10. The Portable North Pole.  Confession: I paid “up” $4.95/per kid this year.  Hanging the threat of Santa Claus’ wrath all season long?  EXCELLENT.

Source With my cohorts/friends during this Christmas season? No better therapy I know of...

With my cohorts/friends during this Christmas season? No better therapy I know of…

Dec 062013
Source See? The lights are out. Perfect!

See? The lights are out. Perfect!

Aiming Low is putting up with me again and letting me toss around all the reasons I am declaring a WIN this holiday season. There’s a little teaser below, but please head over and check out the whole scoop.

You know if I am writing something in between shoving my way through the massive lines at Target and kicking myself for forgetting preschool teacher gifts, it has to be pure genius…or least you could just be proud that I managed to string together a few complete sentences?? xo, readers.


On average during the Christmas season, about five times a day I read the suggestion to “simplify and enjoy the holidays” by “lowering my expectations” and “focusing on the meaning of the season”.  This wisdom is usually followed with a detailed explanation of how to make my own popsicle stick manager scene and give myself grace if Mary’s head keeps falling the rest of the magic HERE.


photo credit: Jesse f/2.8 via photopin cc

Nov 072013

You could win $500 from Checked Twice @meredithspidel

CheckedTwice is a free online gift registry for families and friends to create and collaborate on holiday and special occasion wishlists – making gift-giving simple, organized, and fun.

CheckedTwice makes it easy to add gift ideas from anywhere, create and manage lists for younger children, share gift giving across family, friends, and other groups, and more. And no spoilers here – CheckedTwice won’t reveal what’s been purchased from your registry, so the joy and surprise of gift-giving stays intact!

When less time is spent shopping and the gifts are guaranteed to please, there’s more time to celebrate the season with friends and family. Happy Gifting!

I won’t lie.  I am crying into my coffee pretty heavily this morning because with co-hosting this giveaway, I can’t win the $500.  My head sort of spins with the possibilities of what I could do with $500 (van payment? Fantasy redeemed in the form of a Michael Kors watch?).  I think I’d better sit down because I’m getting a tad overly excited.

But hey, the good news is I can still sign-up with Checked Twice!  It would make organizing the kids’ ever-growing Christmas lists so much easier with grandparents, but moreover, I could FINALLY BUY A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR MY HUSBAND THAT HE WOULD LIKE.  By some odd stroke of God’s planning, I got myself hitched to the pickiest man on earth.  Just once, I would love to get him something that he wants, but not something that he has specifically told me to purchase.  This would make Christmas morning for me.  And now with Checked Twice?  I think this might actually be possible.

So check this one out, friends.  Sign-up for Checked Twice to make holiday dreams come true!  And just to reinforce…

One lucky winner will receive $500 to help you get started on your holiday shopping!

CheckedTwice is giving away $500 to help you get started on your holiday shopping!

Giveaway ends November 18th at 8 pm ET, open to residents of US and Canada, ages 18+.

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 202012

What real moms want for Christmas @meredithspidel #dearsanta

It probably goes without saying that what we all really want this Christmas is for the horrible tragedy of last week to not have happened.  Our hearts are so broken and hurting as we think of these families.  While they remain heavily in thought and prayer, here’ s hoping this last installment of  the”Dear Santa” note series can provide a small dose of levity and cheer amidst all the sorrow.  These ladies always make me laugh so much, and hoping their requests can do the same for you today.

Thanks so much to all of you for playing along!  I’ve had such a fun time with these notes, and I’m so glad you’ve been tuning in.  I’ll turn it over to these moms and then The Bloggess herself send us out with her oh-so-perfect wish.  How does she always just get it so right?

I imagine at this point Santa is getting a bit nervous, being that he only has 5 days until Christmas to make this stuff happen.  But hey, he’s in charge of the Christmas magic, so I’ll let him figure that all out.  For one last time, Santa, listen up!



Professional needed here

C’mon, Santa, Kim’s not asking for a full-time personal barista or anything, just a few hours/day:

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good girl.
For the most part.
OK, there may have been some questionable moments.
Whatever.  Let’s forget the semantics.
Look, the Keurig you brought me last year was great. For a while.  The truth is that my coffee habit has gotten out of control.
So can you bring me a barista to work a shift in my home?  I’m talking daily, 6-10am, and then again around 3pm.
I think this is in everyone’s best interest.

Thanks a million –



At the very least,
leave one of your elves, Santa

A shower, a clean house, a potty-trained son, and just few simple things will rock Sara’s world this year:

Dear Santa,

I’ve decided this year I am not going to ask for expensive clothes or handbags.  Truth be told, they will just end up in my closet with the tags still on.  This year I am going to be practical and ask for things that I just wish would happen.  Since you’re oh so magical I know you can make it happen.

1)       Just once a week I would like you to send a magic elf to hypnotize my son  so I can take a normal shower.  You know one where I am not hopping out of the shower every 30 seconds to check on him.

2)      I would LOVE to wake up on Christmas morning and for my house to be sparkly clean.  I’m not just talking dishes done but super clean.  For example the grout in my shower could use a good scrubbing.  Those blinds with a half inch of dust could use a magic elf to clean them up.  My list goes on and on.

3)      I have a scrapbook of Little Bear’s first year and am only up to his 7th month.  He is now three years old.   Waking up on Christmas morning to a completed scrapbook would not only take away some mommy guilt but also make me more organized.  It’s a win/win.

4)      Do you have an elf that can just magically get Little Bear potty trained?  It’s been a year of potty training and we are still wearing pull ups.  I can use some magic in this department.

5)      Hell, if you want to just leave the magic elf at my house all year I’m  sure I can find a few things to keep him busy.

I still believe in you Santa!

Sara of Confessions of a Redheaded Mama


A Jetson car?  Kristy is brilliant.  I’ll take one of these too, Santa!

Dear Santa, 
For Christmas this year, I have just a couple simple requests. First, I would love to have a self-cleaning toilet. I live with all boys. Self-cleaning stoves have been around for awhile now, but I’m still waiting on that toilet. Help a girl out and hook me up!
Second, a flying car would be nice – you know, Jetson-style. It sure would be helpful for saving us some time in the morning when my boys lazily eat their breakfast, when we should be headed out the door to preschool. Perhaps I wouldn’t be perpetually late anymore then either? It would also come in handy for shortening those looooong road trips to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. As much as my youngest loves riding in the car and all, this would really help speed things up! ;)
I’ve been pretty good this year, Santa, so I would love to see one or both of these gifts under my tree…or rather in my bathroom or garage this year! Thanks!

As Steph says, Santa, her list is completely reasonable.  Get on it!:

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good girl this year. I’ve kept my swearing to a minimum — only a 5 – 10 times a day, I have been volunteering on the PTA (don’t be thrown by the fact that I don’t attend the meetings), and almost every time I borrowed cash from my kids’ wallets, I returned it.  As such, I was hoping you could be extra good to me this Christmas.  I think you’ll find my list to be completely reasonable.
Here’s what I want for Christmas:
  1. A firmer belly
  2. A clean house
  3. Someone to do homework with my kids so I don’t have to
  4. A tad bit more common sense
  5. More help, cooperation and appreciation from my children and husband
That’s only five things. Not too much, right Santa?
PS, I’ll be sure to leave milk and cookies out for you on Christmas Eve! My cookies are to die for.


Steph of I’m Still Learning



Calling in the grandmas
this holiday season

Call in the grandmas for Jelli:

Dear Santa,

It’d be grand if one of the grandmas could fly south in December to spoil my little girl while the hubs & I live it up at a couples beach retreat.

Love, Jelli of Jellibean Journals


Just a robot, some chocolate a little bit of playing with time for Jen, who wisely thanks you for remembering what’s really important about Christmas:

Dear Santa,

As a Mom of 2 boys (ages 6 and 9) I’d like a robot that can pick up all the toys left behind.  That shouldn’t be too hard.  Just combine the technology of the Roomba and make it able to pick up larger items, and spit them out where they belong.  The old “Clean up, clean up” song no longer works for the boys and the tiny legos really hurt when you step on them.  So yes, a Clean Up Robot would be perfect.  I’d also like a big box of chocolates.  You just can’t go wrong with chocolate.  One last request, maybe you could make these years last just a little longer.  Time is flying by too fast and my oldest is a preteen.  I want time to slow down so we can snuggle a little longer, tickle till we cry, and play chase till we’re tired.  Those are the precious times I don’t want to lose with age.  

By the way, thanks for always taking second place to Jesus.  I wanted my boys to believe in you, but never wanted Jesus to be in your shadow.  So thanks for bowing out when necessary but always providing that extra “magic” that makes Christmas morning so fun.

Jen of Second Chances and Lessons from the Garden


Wrinkled Mommy only wants 3 days.  Just 3 days!  Surely you can manage that?:

72 hours completely alone. As in NO ONE at home with me at all. The first day I would clean house and do all laundry. The second day I would stay out all day shopping. The third day I would lay around on the couch ALL DAY watching anything I wanted on TV.

Wrinkled Mommy


Give this sweet mom, Melissa, a little rest and a little break:

Dr. Santa,

This year for Christmas I have been a very good girl.  What I would really like would be to wake up one morning and just not feel tired anymore.  What I also would like is to get to eat a meal in peace and decide when and for how long I sit at the table.  If either of those aren’t feasible, I will settle for getting to go the the bathroom alone.  Thanks.  Cookies and milk will be waiting for you.

Melissa of Adventures with Captain Destructo


cheesecake flavor

And this is the flavor we’ll be needing
in our veggies from now on

And our final note of the season comes from the very sage Bloggess, who asks for the one thing we would all ALWAYS want. She’s like, super-famous, Santa, so you’ve gotta make this one come true:

If not, all I want for Christmas is for carrots to taste like cheesecake.

The Bloggess



Remember to tune in Monday, when Santa has agreed to share the note he is writing to my kids this year.  No, I don’t think he had it in him to respond to all of these amazing requests, but hey, it’s really all about the kids, right? ;)

Dec 172012

This is a repost of one of my favorite posts from last year’s Christmas season.  Happy reading and hope this can bring some joy and warmth your way in the midst of all the recent pain.

The full script of Virginia’s 1897 sweet letter to the editor and his even sweeter reply is a wonderful heart-warmer during the Christmas season.  Check it out here.

Recently, it occurred to me that the whole idea of believing in something so amazing that it seems unreal closely parallels our daily experience as parents…

Still believing despite all logic

This is a paraphrased conversation I had with my sister, who we lovingly refer to as Aunt A:

Me:          “Yeah, you can never sleep in after you have kids…”
Aunt A:  “Probably not often, no.”
Me:           “Like as in, never.”
Aunt A:   “Not never, I’m sure”.
Me:            “No, never.”
Aunt A:    “But if they stay up late the night before or something…”
Me:            “Kids don’t sleep in. No matter when you put them to bed, they still wake up at the same time.  It’s one of the profound phenomena of young children.”
Aunt A:    “No way.”
Me:            “Very way.”
Aunt A:    “But like if you guys get away for the weekend or something without the kids?”
Me:            “Doesn’t matter. Your body becomes so conditioned to getting up at the crack of dawn, you lay there cursing the clock in the hotel room at 6am.”
Aunt A:    “And you still like these kids?!?”
Me:            “Yes, we still like these kids.  And we love them. A lot, actually…” :)

And there you have it, this Mom of the Year’s 2011 2012 version of believing in something profound and beautiful despite all logic…:)

Dec 112012

You’ve got them, we all do.  Those really bad cheesy Christmas tunes that fill the airwaves come December that you secretly love?  You might try to blow them off publicly with a  good eye roll, but score a little alone time in the minivan and you know you’re cranking them up and crooning along at top volume.

Cheesy Christmas Music

Ring those bells! I’m singing along with these cheesy tunes.

When the very witty, very cool, looks-so-sophisticated-with-a-wine-glass-in-hand (seriously, check out her profile pic) Kim of The Fordeville Diaries shared her idea to do a Christmas Music Confessional, I was so in.  I am a sold-out Christmas music dork.  If I wasn’t pretty sure my husband would divorce me, I would crank the tunes out year-round.  I’d like to keep him around, so I limit myself to the holiday season, but believe me, I get my fill during these precious few weeks.

I’m not even sure where to start because there are too many that I love, and I know you potentially have things more important to do than reading the longest blog post in history about my favorite Christmas songs?  So I’ll limit myself to listing 6 of the cheesiest, most corny tunes that I am crushing on during this festive time.  Here’s what’s rocking my playlist:

1. “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses.  Hands down, my favorite.  It’s just so darn punchy and poppy, I instantly start to chair dance a whenever it comes on.  I’m not even entirely sure what this song is about.  I know there is a girl who is feeling the holiday hustle and bustle (relatable) that keeps trying to connect with a guy she’s interested in (sweet), so it works.   Let the bouncing in my seat commence.

2.  “Last Christmas”.  You love it or you hate it.  I love it, and it’s gotta be the Wham! version.  Taylor Swift, you are adorable, but it’s has to be the original if I’m going to get all sappy sad about unrequited love over the holidays.  As I sway in the driver’s seat on the way to preschool drop off, I  just keep cross-finger hoping George Michael finds his “someone special”.

3. “Snoopy’s Christmas” by the Royal Guardsman.  When it gets to the chorus, I am belting out “Christmas Bells those Christmas bells” with the best of them.  A lifelong love of Peanuts that easily crosses generations makes this a favorite tune for parents, kids, and grandparents too.  Leaves you with a sweet warm feeling as you cheer, “go Snoopy!”.

4.“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee.  Does this conjure up the scene in Home Alone when Kevin is making all the manquins dance in front of the windows for anyone else?  This is instantly what I think of when I hear this tune, but I love that movie, so it works for me.  And the song is happy, peppy and everything I love about the holidays.  Crank it up!

5. “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time” by Band Aid.  An obvious choice, but the message is rock solid and it’s a beautiful reminder to take this time of the year to care for others.  Plus, I know all the lyrics since I’ve been hearing it non-stop for 18 years, so it makes me feel cool to be able to sing along to a song without having to make-up half the words.

6. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, the Toby Keith version.  When Toby belts out this tune, his beautiful voice is showcased in all its glory.  and is there any other song that fills you will such a perfect nostalgia for your childhood Christmases and all those sweet memories?  It has the uncanny knack of allowing you to be sad, happy, and filled with the Christmas season all at the same time.

I wish I could say I was embarassed to admit that I love these songs, but the thing is, I’m just not.  I’m proud to be a cheesy Christmas song geek and that is my Christmas Music Confessional.

Thanks for letting me play along, Kim!  Be sure to check out her list of corny songs that are topping her playlist and the lists of some of my other favorite funny bloggers.  And then crank up the radio and belt it out.  We’ve got some Christmas cheese to spread!


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