One Classy Holiday Letter, 2016!



Happy Holidays! Though, at the rate I’m moving, this letter may not reach you until late January…in that case, Happy Valentine’s Day.

2016 kicked off with Collin diving into the Atlantic Ocean for the Bethany Beach Polar Plunge on New Year’s Day. While he flapped around in the arctic waters, we huddled on the sand, wind whipping around us, and wondered “Why didn’t we just make a donation from the warmth of our couch?” Even our 3-legged dog with a coat as thick as my post-Christmas waistline looked miserable.

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While winter is typically a hibernation season for our family, there were some notables.

  • Ana started soccer for the first time, unleashing her inner beast and developing a ‘win at all costs’ attitude that we’ll need to keep an eye on.
  • We were grateful to inherit a back-saving snow blower from my father. After the first major snowfall, we hooted & hollered around that thing like cavemen discovering fire.
  • Collin went sledding exactly once.
  • Brian had surgery (he calls it MAJOR surgery) to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. And just how did he get a torn meniscus? Here’s an excerpt from last year’s holiday letter: “Brian began playing pick-up basketball at the gym twice a week. It’s a bunch of kinda in shape 40 year olds trying to compete with a bunch of really in shape 18 year olds.”  That’s how.
  • Just as we were about to lose our winter minds, Brian won a work incentive trip to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas! He and Ana swam with the dolphins, Collin split his time between the river ride and the Starbucks located in the hotel lobby, and I lay on the beach listening to couples argue over the cost of their bar bill “$24 for a margarita, Debra! Seriously? Wait a second…oh my god, you ordered two?!”

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In the spring, when the ground thawed out a bit, we reemerged.

Ana turned 7 in April. She continued on with soccer but also added intense tree climbing to her leisure activities. The heights she climbed scared me, but it was mostly her traveling through the neighborhood, placing our Squatty Potty stool around the base of Maple trees, that really made me want to cover my eyes. 

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Collin joined a local NFL Flag Football League, and we’re proud to say his team finished the season undefeated! However, their champion status was never acknowledged at the awards ceremony. It seems that until you’re old enough to pay taxes, EVERYONE’S deemed a winner.

Brian and I took a nice impromptu trip to the Poconos area to see Amy Schumer at the Mohegan Sun Arena. I say “impromptu” because I was in charge of purchasing the tickets and I’m terrible at geography.  Brian: Which arena are we going to tomorrow? Me: Somewhere in Wilkes-Barre. That’s near Philly, right?     It’s not.    Turns out it was almost 3 hours away. Who knew Pennsylvania was so big?

This summer was all about the beach and FUNLAND! Mostly Funland. Brian and the kids had a “we must win every stuffed animal even if requires dipping into the college fund” obsession. They were like trophy hunters, always on the search for a new animal to add to their collection. I’m surprised the summer didn’t end with each of them wearing a necklace made of teddy bear ears.

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The kids started school in the fall. Collin turned 13 (a teenager!!!), got braces, and joined the 7th grade middle school football team where he proceeded to get a concussion that gave him a pass on homework for over two weeks. I’m not entirely sure he regrets the concussion. Ana, still into soccer and working on developing her fan base, entered 2nd grade. She loves her teacher, hates the homework. Brian returned to basketball and tore his other meniscus.

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This December we went on a cruise from Miami to Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya, & Cozumel.  Our most memorable moment was visiting the Gumbalimba Animal Preserve in Roatan and having tons of little capuchin monkeys climb all over us and pick our pockets on behalf of their trainer. The cutest little thieves you ever did see.

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This year’s wish lists:

Ana – live puppy, live kitten, live horse, to have her American Girl doll’s limbs reattached.

Collin – every rated M video game he can’t have, cashier’s check/money order

Brian – for me to stop touching the thermostat, massage chair

Kim – Carb of the Month Club, tapeworm, peace on earth

As this year is coming to a close, we want to say thank you for being a part of our lives, whether near or far, yesterday or yesteryear, you are always in our hearts. May your 2017 be filled with an abundance of love, laughter, health, and happiness.

Love,  

Brian, Kim, Collin, & Ana

One Classy Christmas Letter – A Year in Crappy Pics 2015

One Classy Holiday Letter - Our 2015 in Crappy Pics  www.OneClassyMotha.com

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you’ve had a wonderful year. While we didn’t take as many trips as we did in 2014, our shared moments and experiences have been just as special.

 

January – On New Year’s Eve, we came across a Basset Hound standing in the center of a snowy PA back road. After exhaustively riding around to look for his owner, we took him home, placed internet ads everywhere, then named him Scout. Unlike our ungrateful dogs, Scout LOVED the kids, and the kids LOVED Scout. And then the owner called to claim “Sparky”…Sparky? Who names a slow moving,  droopy-eyed Basset Hound, Sparky?

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After the alleged owner submitted the required vet records, pictures of him & Sparky together, and a preliminary DNA sample, I reluctantly handed him over asking, “Are you sure he wouldn’t be happier with us? I mean, he did try to run away from you.” But he couldn’t hear me over the wails of our children.

That was Day 1 of 2015.

February – After a 12 year maternity leave, I finally returned to work at my family’s tire & auto business. Because I’m gone from 7:30am-6pm each day, Brian has taken on some of my family responsibilities, like getting Ana on and off the bus everyday and staying home with her when she’s sick. As for Collin, he’s 12, we gave him the garage code and a copy of Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival by Denise Long.

March – We went sledding once, on a hill by our house. After peeling off our wet clothes with burning red hands and mopping up the laundry room floor, we took a vote and agreed it wasn’t worth it. So we bought one of those clear acrylic birdfeeders with suction cups and placed it high up on our sunroom window.

We then spent the rest of March watching two squirrels desperately flinging their bodies at the feeder. We named them Dumb Squirrel (he had zero street smarts) and Smart Squirrel.  Smart Squirrel was clever, quick, and stealthy. He was superior to Dumb Squirrel, and us, in every way- we were annoyed by his greed and put off by his confidence. But Dumb Squirrel…now there was a rodent we could root for. Oh how we loved to watch him! He’d circle under the window, staking out potential launching points, usually all poor choices. Then he’d momentarily give up, looking on the ground, perhaps for fallen seeds or an elevator. We’d cheer him on “You can do it!” “Believe in yourself!” “You got this!” And he did believe in himself until {{smack}} he didn’t. By the end of March, we had removed the bird feeder out of concern for Dumb Squirrel’s safety

Not so coincidentally, this was also the month that Brian’s obsession with bourbon based craft brews really took off.

April – Having just started horseback riding lessons, Ana decided she wanted her birthday party to be held at the stable. So naturally I spent most of April on Pinterest.com planning for this glorious event. It wasn’t until I yelled at Brian for blocking the monitor while I was trying to read user reviews on two competing disposable fork manufacturers, that I realized I was drowning in the details. But in the end, I think we can all agree it was worth it.

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We spent Easter with family at Brian’s parent’s house. A wonderful dinner that ended with an impromptu Easter Egg fight. We pelted each other with plastic eggs for over 30 minutes, and proudly ended it before anyone lost an eye.

 

May – Our family decided to try something outdoorsy again. We received a flyer that our neighborhood lake was having a fishing contest in an attempt to thin out the overwhelming Carp population. So I got the kids all excited (Brian remained appropriately pessimistic), called my brother to join us, then went down to Walmart where I bought 4 fishing rods, bait, and an honest-to-god fishing license.

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Despite the association’s “we have too many Carp in our lake” claim, Collin and Brian caught nada, I got my line tied in a tree, and Ana hooked a snapping turtle…twice.

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We repacked our tackle box for the first and last time, and went home. My brother stayed behind to enjoy the peace and quiet. It was a fun time, just one we won’t soon be repeating.

June – This was the end of Kindergarten for Ana, and Collin’s last year of Elementary school. Collin made us so proud by winning The Principal’s Award at school, which represents a well-rounded student, both academically and socially. And Ana made us proud by finally working out a window-seat rotation plan with her bus nemesis, Julianna. Never mind it was the last week of school.

July – Brain, myself, Collin, Ana, and my mother-in-law Pat, packed the car with vodka and board games and set off on a 1,500 mile trip to visit Brian’s side of the family in Chicago and Wisconsin. Seeing aunts, uncles and cousins was definitely the highlight of our summer! While there, we went tubing, paddle boarding, jet-skiing, visited Millennium Park, saw the U2 concert at the United Center, and ate at a really good “I’m surprised a health inspector hasn’t shut this place down” dive restaurant.

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Shout out to “BIG & LITTLE’S” where the tacos are worth the risk!

 

August – Ana participated in several day camps and Collin started tackle football with practices four nights a week. We also finally met our new next-door neighbors when Ana sent their 8 year old daughter home with a ziplock bag full of dead hamster meant for burial. “What’s wrong with that?” she asked, “Her parents probably want to see it.”

Needless to say, they came over pretty quickly to see US.

September – The kids went back to school, Ana in 1st grade and Collin in 6th grade. Our lazy Saturdays were now replaced with travel football games, which I wasn’t crazy about until Brian introduced the idea of checking out local pubs or BYOB restaurants after each game. GO, TEAM, GO!

October –  For Collin’s birthday, we took a bunch of kids downtown to Exodus Escape Rooms. That’s where each rooms has its own specific escape plan that requires puzzle solving, clue finding, and teamwork to find your way out. It’s the newest trend in team-building. When we pulled up, I was dismayed to find that the business occupies the once residential house I partied in during my college days. I looked down at the brochure in my hand “Every room provides the most entertaining experience.” Sounds about right.

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Brian began playing pick-up basketball at the gym twice a week. It’s a bunch of kinda in shape 40 year olds trying to compete with a bunch of really in shape 18 year olds. As a result, his ankles killed him all month.

Also in October, sadly, Mr. Bojangles passed away. He wasn’t the best dog or even the almost best dog. He was a food thief, a chewer of Barbie doll heads, and he’d tear the eyeballs out of a stuffed animal just for looking at him. But his love for his family was unwavering and true. He was quite a character and we miss him dearly.

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November – With Mr. Bojangles’ weak bladder no longer a concern, we replaced our living room carpet and area rug. Then we all laid on the floor and rolled around appreciating both the presence of DuPont Stainmaster chemicals and the absence of urine.

On Black Friday, Brian’s beer obsession hit its peak when he bundled Ana up and they headed off to Liquor World at 7:30 in the morning to be the first in line for the 2015 release of Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout. While I was at work, I received the text “I’m the only one here with a kid. Strange.”        Is it?

Brian was still playing basketball. The pain now extended to his shins.

December –  This month has been a bit of a blur as we try to get ready for the holidays. We saw “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Everett Theatre. Brian’s brother, Kevin, played Sawyer, and he was awesome! The kids loved it! In fact, our Christmas Card picture was taken there. And the Santa in the picture actually played Santa in the play! And speaking of this Christmas card, I think we all know it’s not my most photogenic moment, but everyone else looked so nice I decided to use it. Talk about being selfless around the holidays!

And Brian’s still playing basketball. He just sat down and placed a bag of frozen peas across his kneecaps.

 

As this year is coming to a close , we want to say thank you for being a part of our lives, whether near or far, yesterday or yesteryear, you are always in our hearts. May your 2016 be filled with an abundance of love, laughter, health, and happiness.

Love,

Brian, Kim, Collin, & Ana

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The Worst Way To Meet Your Neighbors

The Worst Way To Meet Your Neighbors

 

 

I kept meaning to meet our new neighbors, like REALLY meet them. You know, have a conversation, maybe invite them over for wine, show them around the area, etc. Something other than the casual wave in passing.  Unfortunately, months went by and the opportunity never presented itself-  meaning either my house was a mess or I wasn’t wearing a bra (both of these things have admittedly held me back from a deep and rich social life).  However, Ana has struck up an almost obsessive friendship with their 8 year old daughter, Emily.  They flutter back and forth between our homes, going from one make-believe game to the next. I can only hope little Emily lacks the critical eye of a child accustomed to fine housekeeping.

Well guess what?  I finally met them last Sunday. Let me set the stage for this beauty of a meeting.

 

 

FRIDAY

A few neighborhood parents & their teens were hosting a weekend fundraising sleepover camp at our clubhouse, sleepover optional. Ana was super excited, so she and I stayed home while Brian and Collin went to the beach. Truth be told, I was the most excited. Ana in camp all weekend, husband and child#1 at the beach. In the days leading up, visions of me slowly walking the aisles of Marshalls while sipping a Starbucks Mocha Latte became all I could think about.

5PM, we arrived at camp. I was almost giddy.

 

Ana: I’m not staying here. Let’s go home.

 

I’m not gonna lie, at that moment everything in my world went black.

Reaching out into the darkness, patting the head of the little girl who had just crushed my solace seeking soul, “There there, let’s not be rash.  You LOVE everyone here. There’s your babysitter, there’s your friend, everyone’s doing crafts, and they’ll probably order pizza later. And if they don’t I’ll buy out the Dominos down the street and have one delivered to you every hour. How’s that sound?”

Ana: I’m scared. I don’t want to stay here, I want to go home.

Me: You need to be brave and give it a chance. Trust me, you’ll have so much fun! It would be a shame to miss it. What if we leave tonight but try again in the morning?

Ana: I’m not coming back.

Concerned parents were now gathered around. I smiled and said, “Excuse me while I give her some loving words of encouragement.”

Kneeling down, I pulled her pissed off face close to mine and whispered sweetly:
“I swear on Bunny (holding her lovie tightly by the neck) you WILL go to camp or YOU WILL spend the entire weekend in your room. So it’s THIS or staring at your bedroom walls for the next 48 hours.”

Standing up and smiling. “So what do ya think? Feel ready to give it a try?”

She gave it a try, and I went home and listened to the silence until 9PM when it was time to pick her up.

 

 

SATURDAY

Saturday morning was a thing of beauty! She was thrilled to go to camp, and even said she might stay overnight. I wasn’t holding my breath, but the thought was intoxicating.

After dropping her off, I did my first workout in months, PLYO FIT EXTREME, then I kept the momentum going by cleaning out the foyer closet.  It took 4 hours to clean that damn closet. 4 hours, people. foooouuuurrrr hours! It’s not even a big closet (4×4) but it does have some serious height of which I have taken full advantage.  Trust me, shit was all stacked up Jenga style. Looking through coat pockets for receipts, I was able to date the bottom layer of crap back to 2005. I even came across a baby tooth…or cat tooth…or broken Tic Tac, I can’t be sure. I just threw it in a memory box and kept moving.

After gathering a very large donation pile, I put everything in the car and headed to my first stop, Marshalls!

As I stepped out of the car, and my legs collapsed like snapped rubber bands, I thought of an important tip:

If you haven’t exercised  in months, a workout with the word EXTREME in it might not be the DVD for you. Especially if it’s in all caps.

Holy Crap! It’s like my muscles needed those last 4 hours to really digest what I had done to them, and then they were all like “OH HELL NO! WE’RE SHUTTING THIS SHIT DOWN.” And I was all “No, no, please. We’re done exercising! I just need you to get me to the clearance shoe section and back!”

Bless them, they did. Barely.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the couch watching my legs lock up.

Around 6 PM I received a text from our sitter:

Ana says she wants to stay overnight at camp with me.

 

I couldn’t believe it, I had the whole evening to myself!

Most of it was spent trying to get up the stairs.

Once I was upstairs, it seemed kinda quiet, like really quiet. Then I realized what it was, Ana’s little crackhead hamsters weren’t on their squeaky wheel. So I checked on them.

D.E.A.D.

Both of them! How the hell…why…both?  I sat there examining the scene like a forensic detective. One was inside their little house, while the other laid in the doorway. A domestic dispute? Did Sparkles say he was running out for a pack of cigarettes, but Pinky knew he had no intentions of coming back?

I was beyond upset. Not because they were dead, everyone knew I despised them, but because they died mysteriously while home alone with me.

Know any good lawyers?

I put them in a Ziplock bag with a tiny murder/suicide note and stuck them in the garage. Then I stayed up all night rehearsing the ‘circle of life’ speech I’d have to give Ana in the morning.

 

 

SUNDAY

I cried as I came down the stairs that morning. No, not because of the hamsters, but because every muscle from my neck down was screaming. Five hundred dollars and 12 years later, my Lamaze breathing techniques finally came in handy.

After picking Ana up from camp, I army crawled into the kitchen and delivered the terrible news. I expected sobs and screams asking the universe to grant her “just one more day with them”. Instead, her reaction was what I’d call underwhelming. Some brief ‘sad eyes’ and then “Can I go play with Emily?”

“Sure. I guess we can bury them later?” And off she went.

Around noon Ana walked in from the garage.

 

Me: Where’s your friend?

Ana: Oh, she’ll be right back. She just went to show her dad my hamsters.

Me: YOUR DEAD HAMSTERS!?!? NOOOOOO!

 

I shuffled as fast as I could into the foyer. Through the windows on either side of our door, I saw Emily skipping across our lawn, smile on her face, Ziploc bag full of dead hamsters in her hand, murder/suicide note visible.

“EMILY! COME BACK, COME BAAAAACK!” I screamed through double-pane glass.

She couldn’t hear me and my knees wouldn’t bend beyond a 30 degree angle. So I did the only thing I could do, I put on my bra and waited.

Not surprisingly, it only took 10 minutes before I was meeting our new neighbors.

The dad appeared in my garage and started casually sweeping his eyes around the room, no doubt looking for more dead animals in baggies. The mom stayed a little farther back.

 

Me: Hi! I’m soooo sorry Ana sent your daughter home with dead hamsters.

Him: Oh, um, don’t…um…don’t worry about it.

Me: It’s just that we haven’t had a chance to bury them yet and she thought they were interesting. She thought maybe you’d find them interesting. I explained to her that we don’t send our friends home with dead animals. I think she gets it now.

Him: Well, they…um… looked peaceful?

Me: Ha. Yeah. Oh, and that murder/suicide note? Just a joke.

Him: Ha…so how did they both die at the same time?

Me: Heyyy, could I offer you both some wine? Or maybe show you around the area?

 

And now my goal is to convince these people that we’re actually a very normal suburban family. And I think I can do it too….until the day they Google “felt pajamas” and it auto corrects it to “felt vaginas” which will then lead them to this blog.

 

 

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Weekend in Crappy Pics (Disney World – Part 4)

The Weekend in Crappy Pics - Disney 2014, family vacation is not always a fairy tale.

Ok, so I HAVE to do this Disney vacation wrap-up. No, really, because this blog is the only record my family will ever have of this trip…or of anything we ever do. How screwed up is that?

In 20 years:

Collin’s kids: Dad, where are all the pictures from when you were little?

Collin: Well, let me just pull up your grandmother’s blog…

Maybe I should create scrapbooks, you know, like a normal mother? Or maybe stop sewing felt vaginas?

But I digress…

Day 5 – Epcot

All you need to know about Epcot is that their World Showcase is not real. I mean, I know it’s not real real, but as it turns out, the products they sell ARE NOT EVEN FROM THE COUNTRY YOU’RE IN!

For example, the kids loved playing with the instruments displayed in Africa, so I thought to myself, “Candy Ass, you should buy the darlings a tambourine so you’ll have something valuable to take away when they start acting up.” (TIP: Always be prepared to deprive them, otherwise, they hold the upper hand.) 

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So I picked up the African tambourine and…

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HECHO EN MEXICO?

HECHO EN MEXICO?  

So let me get this straight, we visit Africa, in America, to buy a tambourine made in Mexico? UGGGHH. I wanted nothing more than to push that Mexican musical cart right through boring Norway and into the base of the Mayan temple!  …and then buy another margarita, seeing as I was back in Mexico. But I didn’t, so it was on to Japan…

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 Yup- Japan gifts, made in China.

Oh well, at least I knew the shit in China would be real. And it’s not like you can find “Made in China” products just anywhere, so there’s that.

 

Day 6 – Disney Quest

Ah, Disney “The 5 story video game place that we get into for free with our park tickets and our kids would have been happier just to stay here all 6 days” Quest.

Because our family is extremely competitive and hates to lose, we spent most of our time playing in KidQuest, the gaming zone designed for children ages 2-7.

Here’s Brian kicking a tiny game’s ass as a group of preschoolers form around him, some in awe, others crying, one offers to buy the next round of juice boxes:

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Sure, setting the high score in the kiddie area might be a boost to our self esteem, but it’s entering the winning initials “A.S.S.” that we truly live for.

 

After Leaving Disney Quest, we walked over to the Lego store…

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where Ana played until the kid in the black jacket sneezed into the Lego bowl then fished around for his cough drop.

 

After generously coating everyone with hand sanitizer, we headed to a nearby Irish restaurant for dinner.

Much to our delight, they had dance performers throughout the meal and, at one point, they invited children to come up.

Here’s Ana performing:

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I had two chocolate martinis made with Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Martini #1 – “Look at her, she’s a natural!”

Martini #2 – “You know, I’m signing her up for Irish dance lessons the moment we get home because she really seems to enjoy it, you know? I bet she could get a scholarship, you know?”

Day 7 – Heading Home

During our trip, the stroller we’ve had since Collin was a baby, broke. I wanted to cry.

I know it sounds stupid, but I felt horrible knowing I’d have to leave it behind. This wonderful apparatus, this, this, godsend, this beautiful stroller, it restrained my children for many years, allowing me to do some really special things, things like peeing in public stalls, trying on clothes in handicap dressing rooms, and walking through various mall parking lots wondering where the hell my car was.

So it was with tremendous grief that I carried the stroller into the rental unit’s garage and, amid the screams of “MOM WHERE ARE YOUUUU?”, said my final goodbyes.

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And then I put it down.

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If I’m honest with myself, Stroller had been struggling for years. It really was the most humane thing to do.

Farewell, good friend, farewell.

 

The Airport

Apparently, airport security does this new thing where they ask your kid who you are to them, and you have to stand there with your mouth shut hoping they’ll say “My mom” and not “She must be my kidnapper because my real mother would have bought me that Mickey Mouse pin from the gift shop”.

But either way, this security measure is truly unfortunate for us, as Ana tends to clam up when put on the spot.

After she met his third request of “Who is this lady?” with yet another shrug and blank stare, I began to panic. My mouth smiled at her like ‘aren’t you being super silly’ but my eyes, my eyes screamed, ‘SAY MOTHER! SAAAY MOOOTHERRR! SAY IT!’ In that moment, I realized that there’s a fine line between trying to get your kid to claim you and looking like a child trafficker coercing your abductee to lie, and I was walking it.

Finally, “She’s my mom?”

A question? She phrases it in the form of a question?!?! Oh, Jesus, I’m going to the big house.

I guess sick of us wasting his time, the security officer decided that was good enough and let us go. No cavity search required.

And as we were about to board the plane, the last thing I heard on our vacation was this announcement,  “Attention  passengers, we are paging Joe Momma…paging Joe Momma. Would Joe Momma please come to the courtesy desk?”  HAHAHAHA, that’s a classic!

 

 

 

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If you’re bored, go back and read Disney, Part 1 here

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