We Wish You a Streaming Christmas

T’is the season for wasting time in a seasonal fashion! Networks are blasting the airwaves with holiday specials and movies, but where do those of us who have been weaned off from the umbilical cord of cable to find our favorite yuletide fare? Fear not! I bring great tidings of joy! Below you will find a couple of lists (with no particular ranking) of the best Christmas favorites you can find online.

Netflix
Suitable for the Kiddos
Pee-Wee’s PlayHouse Christmas Special
White Christmas
Ernest Saves Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Yes Virginia
The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas
The Muppets’ Christmas Carol

Grown-up Stuff
Scrooged
Trading Places
Trailer Park Boys Xmas Special

Hulu Plus
For the Family
The Christmas Toy
A Garfield Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Fraggle Rock: The Bells of Fraggle Rock
He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas
Doctor Who Christmas Specials: 10th and 11th regenerations

Adult Business
Absolutely Fabulous Christmas Special
Peep Show: Seasonal Beatings

Available to Rent
Through Amazon for the Kids
The Year Without a Santa Claus
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Original)
Elf

For the Mature Crowd
Gremlins
Die Hard

Happy Vegging Out!

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Kids Aren’t For Everyone or How the Myth of Total Motherhood Hurts Everybody aka Parents: Treat Yo’self

Have you ever been asked when you are going to procreate? Or when you are going to bring a sibling into the world to join your current child? Or asked why you haven’t gotten pregnant yet? Or if you are trying? Or why the hell you have so many kids already? Or if you are going to ‘try for a girl/boy’?

If you have lady parts of any configuration of one or more of these questions have likely been put to you at some point in your adult life. That is because “motherhood” is an assumed part of being a woman. More to the point, what goes on in your personal uterus is considered part of the public domain. In general society, these questions are considered “normal” rather than extremely invasive, presumptive and rude.

This is something that needs to change, but it is going to take time, generations of time. We unfortunately have no control over other people. We can answer politely, give them a big ol’ “Nun’ya” or simply walk away, but we can’t stop them from continuing to ask every ovary owner the same jerk questions. We can’t stop these people from assuming motherhood is what all females regardless of race, class or area want to participate in.

Something we can control is ourselves. We can control the equally pervasive ideology that goes hand in hand with “mandatory motherhood” and that is the concept of “total motherhood“.

Total motherhood is the assumption that all child rearing responsibility rests solely on the mother. That once a woman begins the raising of a child she absolves herself of any and all worldly pleasures outside of said child. She alone must bear the weight of choices regarding the human she is in charge of. That any choice she might make will be the end all be all of her worth as a human, including but not limited to: feeding/sleeping/dressing/educating and cleaning the child.

In short, “total motherhood” is the philosophy that in order to be a good mother one has to be a martyr.

That, my friends, is complete bullshit.

Having children is not a walk in the park. It takes sacrifices. One must give up their time and boat loads of money for the care and keeping of kids. You have to be ready to give up sleep when your baby is awake in the middle of the night – depending on the child this could last for years. You have to be willing to cancel plans at the drop of a hat because your child becomes sick unexpectedly. You have to be able to show up when they need you.

Also: kids are grody and you are going to have to be okay with dealing with ALL of the bodily fluids…on your couch, bed, floor, bathtub AND person.

Considering all of that, is it really so shocking that a good portion of women would like to opt out?

Yes parenting takes sacrifice, but the cult of “total motherhood” when internalized takes it roughly one hundred steps too far.

I have heard mothers say they haven’t been out of the house without their child since the kid was born (and their child is four years old).

I have heard parents judge anyone who sends their child to daycare because they should be “raised by their parents, not strangers”.

Moms who skip taking care of themselves.

Parents who don’t go on dates.

People who literally give up every facet of themselves in order to focus their entire lives on the small being they are caring for.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? My experience has certainly shown this to be true. I tried the whole total mother/cult of domesticity thing. My only joy came from my child, his milestones, his giggles. However, I felt trapped, alone and miserable for a good portion of the time. And I spread that misery to the rest of my family.

This is not to say one can’t stay at home and be happy. I also found happiness being a stay at home parent, after I quit martyring myself.

I am one of the lucky ones, I figured out early that if cared for myself, I could do an exponentially better job for others. When I took time to recharge my child had a lot more giggles and I could handle tantrums without feeling quite as frazzled.

For me writing, yoga, sewing and running help my overall life satisfaction. Sometimes it is as simple as reading a book, drinking a latte at the coffee shop while it is still hot or taking a walk alone with my dog. The ability to be a person who is not in charge of another person, if only for an hour, is enough to remind you of who you are.

Everyone needs space to think.

Self care is important because YOU are important.

So reach out, build a village. If you have family just *dying* to watch your little one, let them. Coordinate with other parents to swap childcare every other week. Hand the baby to your partner and take off for the grocery store (go on and stop for a coffee and a cookie to eat on the way). Let the pre-schooler veg out in front of Thomas the Tank Engine or Frozen and watch a movie OF YOUR OWN CHOOSING on your computer with headphones.

Find a way. Find yourself. Your kid will thank you.

They probably won’t thank you until they are thirty or so, and then it will probably not be a thing they say to you, but trust me.

Oh and while you are at it, tell everyone to lay off your sister/cousin/friend who is child-free, because that is the most understandable decision a human could make.

When Black Cats Prowl and Pumpkins Gleam

It’s that time again. There are clues everywhere. The sound of cloth dragging through fallen leaves time, a scoot and a crunch. The scent of sugar and burning yard waste on the air. The sight of a cape whipping around a corner. The atmosphere is electric with the promise of chill and suspense.

Halloween!

It is fast approaching as I rush about collecting the last items for costumes and send my children searching out their plastic pumpkins which lie in some forlorn corner of the house, dusty and forgotten since last year.

Halloween holds a special place in our family. We have a LOT of traditions associated with the end of October. We make a new decoration each year, we also have a group costume, we carve pumpkins, we watch spooky movies (Hocus Pocus, anyone?) and we go trick or treating. One thing we do not do however, is encourage our children to go into a sugar coma give our kids a sack full of candy to consume.

We aren’t health nuts, but if you could sum up our parenting style (and lifestyle too, I suppose) it would be: all things in moderation.

The kids bring home at least a pound of candy every year easily. There ain’t nothing moderate about that.

So, rather than allowing them to binge on sugar we have yet another tradition. This tradition’s name is *The Sugar Sprite*.

Rather than being the “bad guys” and having to take away all the sweets we encourage an exchange with a mythical creature. The children are entitled to as many pieces of candy as they are years old, which they choose with the greatest of care. The rest goes into a big bowl placed near the door. In the dead of night the Sugar Sprite swoops in, takes the candy and leaves a small surprise gift for each child.

(Actually, what happens is after bedtime my husband and I invite our friends over to watch a scary movie and to eat all of the candy. Shhhhhhhhh.)

Although, the exchange is voluntary our kids have never opted for the candy and this has been going on for eight years.

The Sugar Sprite usually spends about $20 bucks on two gifts, which is a whole lot less than the copay for two dentists visits to have cavities filled.

Smooth Waters Do Not a Sailor Make

Hi Friend,
This month has been rough. There has been a lot of upheaval, intense shifts and what seems like terrible luck. I know I am not in that boat alone, in fact I feel like this ship is sinking a little due to the sheer number of people who seem to be getting cosmically screwed at the moment. But this is not a missive to place my hand delicately upon my forehead and cry out “Woe is me!” (I save that for my husband). Nope, I’m going to count one of my blessings whilst catching y’all up.

Remember how I was going to be working only 27 hours, leaping lightly into the unknown- forgoing monetary security and all of that? Well, it never happened because the very week I quit my job as a green apron wearing coffee jockey, I started training for a new position at my awesome job.

Let me tell you about my employer. I work for Spoonflower. Yes, the http://www.spoonflower.com. Yes, the one that has opened up the realms of possibility for makers, crafters and artists everywhere. It is based out of my town and I am magically employed there, now full time as a printer.

If you aren’t aware, Spoonflower is a company that custom prints textiles. Fabric, wallpaper, gift wrap can have literally any design on it. You can choose from countless patterns on the site or you can upload your own. It is pretty much the coolest thing ever. I work in the print room, running these machines. It is fun and frustrating, challenging and rhythmic. Like playing Tetris. I love it.

And I get free fabric every month. I go to work feeling like this is happening every single day.

That amazing benefit plus my creativity constantly being sparked from being surrounded with awesome materials and talented people has led me to finally reopen my Etsy shop. There is little in this world as satisfying as imagining something and then creating it.

And the best part is my schedule actually allows me to have more time. More time with my kids, more time to sew, more time to write, run, do yoga and enjoy drinking my coffee.

Eventually, the tides will turn and things will seem to come easily again. Until then, the things that matter are steadfast and wonderful. I have a wonderful, healthy family. I have loyal and helpful friends. I am happy in my work. At the end of the day, it seems ridiculous to ask for anything more.

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Shadow and Shadow

Autumn has arrived bringing along lovely low temperatures, so that even here in the south I can imagine that seasons are still as wonderfully regular as they are in books.

Fall is the best time for me. It is beautiful- windows open and nature puts on her most lively ensemble. The kids pull out boxes of Halloween decorations and we hit thrift stores, scouring the aisles for the perfect pieces to complete our costumes.

It is the time of year in which, no matter how busy I am I pick up Something Wicked This Way Comes and revel in Bradbury’s atmospheric, perfectly crafted world. A world which houses boys like mine, one light, one dark.

There are soups and warm mugs.

And sweaters.

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Welcome Fall!

The Courage to Start

In my absence, I became a runner. Yes, it is unexpected. Frankly, there are days when I am still surprised when I tie my laces and cue up MapMyRun.

I run without music, only the rhythm of my breath syncopating with the pounding of sneakers hitting pavement. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks or podcasts if I’m going far. A few weeks ago I ran eight miles while listening to a cool and polished British voice tell me the story of Northhanger Abbey. I refer to 3 miles as a “short run”. I have trained through the humid, sweltering summer running in full sun just to get it done, watching my mileage increase with a certainty that I can and will run my first half marathon in one month’s time.

However, just two years ago I couldn’t run for 3 minutes straight without feeling like walking home. I huffed and puffed and watched my stopwatch counting the seconds until a walking break. Those first weeks of doing Couch to 5K were a test of my will and commitment. I was sore, tired and sweaty.

I started and stopped several times always in the first two weeks of the plan. Then some friends of mine convinced me to sign up for a race.

I was overweight and I struggled with the public performance aspect to running outside. I was a body truly in motion. I could feel my stomach, thighs, arms and everything else bouncing in time with every footfall. It took a lot of self love to keep going.

Three times a week, I came home and laid on our hardwood floors dripping with perspiration, swearing I wouldn’t be able to complete the next step.

But I did.

Just a few months after I started, I ran my first 5K to benefit Autism research.

I remember being sure I wouldn’t be able to run for 8 minutes straight, but I now routinely run for over an hour. And I do so smiling.

That’s right, I smile. It is my therapy, time to be silent and unneeded by anyone. My brain floats away from problems, my focus is only on getting a step further on my path. The endorphins that come with accomplishing a goal commencing with each run.

I still lay on the floor afterwards, sweating. The only difference is the doubt.

I write this, not to inspire others to run, but rather as a reminder to self that even when something seems impossible you never know what you can accomplish until you try. Do not allow self-doubt, false starts or level of difficulty to keep you from working toward a worthy goal. The only sure way to failure is never trying at all.

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It’s a New Day, It’s a New Dawn

It’s a new life for me and I’m feeling goooooooooooooooooood.

Hello darlings, I have completed my time as a corporate coffee jockey for the foreseeable future. I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that my green apron is truly cast off, but I am very grateful that it is.

I could say a lot about the plight of the lowly “partner”. I could spend pages upon pages reminding people that although there are literal signs placed about that the company “takes care” of it’s baristas, the workers start out at minimum wage and despite good reviews and raises years later the people busting their humps to make your beverages still do not earn a living wage. I could wax philosophical about union busting, corporate globalization and the endless tyranny of rude customers who demand above-and-beyond service while never tipping.

However, I won’t.

I will instead tell you that my former workplace witnessed my laughter. Loud, ringing and genuine guffaws. In that building I laid eyes on some of the most true and supportive friends I have ever had the good grace to acquire. It gave me stories. It reenforced my belief that classism is alive and well and needs to be eliminated. It reminded me that kindness is a currency that will fade fast if not practiced.

Also, it gave me free coffee. Gallons and gallons of free coffee.

Most importantly, it gave me perspective. The lessons I learned in that service industry position accumulate to two overarching principals: 1) face to face customer service employment is some of the hardest and most unappreciated work that one can do and 2) Perspective and attitude can carry you far, but it can not make up for having to do the work of three humans for less than a third of that pay.

I am grateful of the education that having a position on the lowest rung of a corporate chain provided me, but I am even more thankful to find myself at a company that truly values it’s employees as human beings. The fact that my current job sparks my creativity, challenges me and has room for improvement and growth don’t hurt things a bit either. I love them so much I went in on my day off to attend meetings with a big ol’ grin on my face. That is a FIRST in my employment history.

Freedom (from wage slavery) is mine.