Tag Archive | holidays

Should I Run To Target Right Now For Half-Priced Easter Crap?


Ya’ll, I can’t think straight right now.  My brain is so addled with guilt that it feels like I have cotton balls where my gray matter should be.  Instead of having a thinker that can hum with solutions and solve complex problems, all mine is good for is removing nail polish.

I’m distracted because I keep thinking I should run over to Target and buy my kids proper Easter baskets filled with chocolate and jelly bellies.  It’s probably half price by now, and it’s only just a few blocks away. 

The thing is all I did for Easter was have my kids dye hard-boiled eggs and find them in the morning.  There were no baskets, no bunnies, no sugar, no plastic, no damn bonnets.  Nothing that I recognized from my own childhood Easters.   I’d stopped by Target twice last week to get the stuff, and both times I walked out with nothing.  I just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for spending money on crap they’ll either (1) fight over, (2) devour and then feel sick, or (3) complain that it wasn’t enough.

And when you are the parent who was raised Christian in the family, Easter falls on your shoulders.  I can’t expect Jeff to cook an entire Passover Seder meal and then go out and wander among the Easter aisles one week later.

I couldn’t find the spirit or the fun in it.  And on the consumer-minimalist I most certainly fall on the consumerist side, which is why I am fighting the urge to remedy my super lame Easter performance by trolling the discount aisles and begging for a do-over tonight.  I spent half the morning thinking that I did a good thing by not contributing to the parade of shitty sugar stuff offered to my children as a substitute for meaningful celebration.  The other half I spent chiding myself for being such a buzz kill for demonizing fun stuff like chocolate and edible farm animals.

So, which is it? Did I do a good thing  or a lazy thing?  And most important: Should I spend my lunch hour at Target?



Halloween Candy, the Cockroach of Holiday Accoutrements

What’s meaner than high school girls with menstrual cramps and also sweeter than pictures of the newborn babies that Anne Geddes arranges in adorable baskets? If you guessed Halloween Candy, then picture me doing that thing with my first two fingers where I point at my eyes and then yours to assure you that we are on the same wavelength.

Sweet bitches

Sweet bitches

Every damn year with the Halloween candy.  Sure, my favorite kind of Nike tennis shoe (Nike Air Rift) disappears forever and Trader Joe’s no longer carries my beloved Tomato Basil Soup, but Halloween candy, the cockroach of holiday accoutrements, shows up year after year.   As does my resolve to ignore it, which I do.  Yep, every year I Tweet about my iron, Crossfit-worthy commitment to shun the little bite-sized goodies, no matter how cute a tiny Twizzlers is.  I brag, I self-congratulate, and I buy myself a nice little treat from the Kate Spade outlet store because I did it! I stayed away from Halloween candy.

Then November 2 or 3 rolls around.  And my kids’ sad little piles of Tootsie Rolls and generic weirdo pumpkin candies look pathetic and unappealing.  Except.  Except there’s one Special Dark or Milky Way in there, shining like a pair of brand new Tory Burch shoes among dirty flip flops that no longer fit anyone in the house.

That’s when I get in trouble.  And that resolve? It crumbles.  But what about the Kate Spade Hallowvictory purse?  Well, that was final sale so I can’t return it anyway.  And my kids won’t miss this one little gem because they are too young to understand that some candy is really shitty and some candy is worth contracting diabetes for.

So, yeah, I haven’t dipped into the Costco-sized ultra jumbo bag of mostly decent Halloween candy, but it’s only October 30.  Check with me on Saturday, and if you see me with a new purse, you can bet your ass it was final sale.

Want to hear more about my relationship with Halloween candy? Here’s my take on how my to balance my ghosts with my children’s joy.  You want to click over because who doesn’t love a story that opens with a reference to Candy Corn?

Can We Get Real About Mother’s Day?

I don’t mean to go all Joan Rivers here, but let’s get one thing straight:

Mother’s Day is confusing, commercial and is a gigantic set up for my mommy’s-not-happy face.  My angst stems from the fact that I can’t tell if I am supposed to be actually mothering or if I should be taking a break and “getting away from it all.”


This isn’t a complaint about my husband either, because he’s willing to celebrate any way I want to.  The real problem is that I don’t know how want to or if I want to join in on Sunday’s festivities.

When asked about my idea vision for the day, here’s the first off-the-cuff answer I gave:

  • Let’s do the breast cancer 5K in the park as a family (start time: 8AM)
  • Grab some breakfast somewhere (as if that’s easy)
  • Naps for everyone (as if my 3.5-year old would tolerate that for a hot second)
  • Mommy gets some alone time to write (read: watch improbable animal videos on the web)
  • Delicious dinner as a family
  • Mad Men viewing

My second answer:

  • You all leave me alone all damn day

I’m not sure how it’s going to go this Sunday.  Hopefully, there will be a mix of mothering and getting a break from mothering, even if it’s just extra long trips to the loo.

For a further analysis of why I hate Mother’s Day, click yourself over to my post at Mom.Me and check out my new post.

What are you doing this Sunday?


How To Make Holidays Suck: My 3-Phase Process

I’m starting to think it’s my approach to holidays is that makes me say such charming things as “holidays suck.”  Like most things that I deem sucky, I eventually come to understand that what actually sucks is (1) my process, (2) my attitude, and (3) my failure to shop strategically.

And because Christmas baggage has more layers than a yule log, it’s easier for me to see how these principles operate to ruin a perfectly nice holiday like Easter.

24 hours til the hunt (that I registered late for)

24 hours til the hunt (that I registered late for)

Here’s my 3-phase process.

Phase 1: Denial.  These are the days leading up to the holiday when I am busy acting “above it all” and living my lofty “life of the mind.” I am too beleaguered by daily life to make any preparations or think about how (or why) I might want to celebrate.  While everyone else is ordering smocking dresses off Zulilly or ordering a free-range hams, I am swaddling myself in my denial blanket. “Oh, we don’t really celebrate that,” I say when asked about my plans.  Too much money, too much hassle, too consumer.  I lob hard balls at any notion that the holiday might actually belong to me or bring me joy.

Phase 2: “Keeping it low key.”  Underneath all that denial is a little seed of desire that cannot be suffocated no matter how many blankets I throw on its head.  It’s that sapling of desire that peeks out in this phase.  This phase occurs usually two business days before the actual holiday, so there is still time to put something together, but it’s just late enough that I feel like I have to scramble.  As I make my way to Target, I profess that we have decided to “keep it simple” this year with just a few “memory making” items.  Most of what I say in this phase is a lie, but they are smaller and cuter than the ones in Phase 1.

Phase 3: Balls Out In Target.  This phase begins the minute I see a full-blown store display of Easter stuff.  As I round the corner with my big red cart, I can see what looks like an explosion of pastel goodies. It’s like Sasquatch pooped out a bunch of spring-themed items that suddenly become my “must haves.”  Here’s where I lament my procrastination as I spy empty spots on the shelves where items have already been picked over. “But Easter is still two days away. Why are the egg-shaped sushi plates already gone?”  All my days of denial catch up with me, and I start grabbing anything that isn’t nailed down.

  • Pastel versions of candy I don’t even like in the original primary colors? Hell yes.
  • Table cloth and runner? Of course, it’s Easter!
  • Easter bunny boxer shorts? Yes, my Jewish husband has always wanted Easter boxers.

Having denied myself for all but 48 hours of the holiday preparation, I cannot contain myself. I’m like Tammy Faye Baker in front of a free make-up counter.

Several thousand hundred dollars later, my wallet is depleted, my back aches from loading the 6-foot Easter bunny into my car, and my adrenaline is pumping as I perseverate over how we can possibly have time to make cake pops and the macrome spring fling scene by Sunday.

There’s got to be a better way.  Right?  I should just admit I like holidays and give in to the celebration. So what if it’s not as glorious as my heart’s desire? So what if it’s not Pinteresting?

Most importantly, maybe if I started earlier, I might have gotten those sushi plates.

Holiday Gift For Your Therapist?

This holiday season, you are going to fork over cash/gifts to all those people who make your life easier and better.  Maybe you will bake Pinterest-inspired cookies for your children’s teachers.

But what about your therapist?  Have you thought through your gift for him (FN1)?

He’s tricky to buy for, right?  He’s the guy who knows all about your fetishes, frailties, and foibles.  You must choose very carefully, because he’s going read into your gift. You must project pure holiday cheer (and improving-daily self-esteem).  You can’t get too symbolic or you will be “processing” the gift until June 2013.

I’ve compiled gift suggestions that are broken down into two tiers: the token gift for the newbie patient, and those for the lifetime patient.

For the newbie. If this is your first holiday go-round with your therapist, you want to keep it light.  Your gift need only acknowledge the relationship.  Humor always works as long as you don’t hint at your latent sexual feelings for him or your homicidal rage– avoid gifts sending those messages because they will screw up all of your January sessions.

I suggest this:

Freud action figure (available at Amazon)

Freud action figure (available at Amazon)

Put a bow on it and give it to him at your next session.

Lifers.  You are my people.  We both know you are going to see this man until one of you dies (and of course you want to die first because you can’t bear the abandonment).  You can’t run to Macy’s and grab a fiesta ware bowl (what color would you get anyway?) or a bathrobe (way too much sexual energy wrapped in a robe).

You have to show up with something that conveys gratitude, psychological insight, and a dash of constructive feedback on how he could better serve you in the coming year. It’s OK to highlight a few areas where you would like him to bone up in the New Year. (Don’t use the phrase “bone up” with your therapist, because he will think it’s sexual, and it will get awkward. Trust me.)

You know where I am going with this right?  You have to make your therapist a mix tape.  Just like that Depeche Mode-INXS mix you made in high school.  Pack it with messages and hints and blessings and wishes.  That shit worked in high school, so don’t reinvent the wheel.

Here’s a sample of the songs appearing in the 2012 Outlaw Mama Therapy Mix.  Borrow liberally (FN 2):

1. Don’t Call Me Daughter (Pearl Jam) — It’s a solemn nod to your daddy issues. Therapists love that shit.

2. Better Be Good To Me (Tina Turner) — This song sends the message to your aging therapist that he better stay on his game for 2013 because you have dreams to fulfill and at $100+ per session, there is no time for him to have an “off” season.

3. Thank You For Being A Friend (Golden Girls Theme Song) — Yes, your therapist is your expensive friend, but also, you want him to know that you respect old people, because he’s becoming one (like Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty).

4. Man In The Mirror (Michael Jackson) — This is gratuitous, but let him know you are not committed to being a victim. You will start with you.  (He’ll think he taught you that.)

5. One Foot (Fun.) — This song should be included especially if your therapist shoves practices the 12 steps down your throat. You can tell him how you listen to this song and think about “putting one foot in front of the other” and taking it “one day at a time.” I am hoping this is impressive enough that I score a free session or two in 2013.

6. Closer To Fine (Indigo Girls) — No, it’s not 1990 anymore, but I like to include something folksy with a retro-indie flair.  “I went to the doctor / I went the mountain.” He will listen to this mix in his nice domestic sedan, and he will congratulate himself on what a great job he’s doing with you.

7. Tubthumping (“I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again”) (Chumbawamba) — What therapist doesn’t want to hear this anthem from a patient? Show him your resilience! Your “can do” spirit.  (Caution: There are lots of alcohol references, so if you are struggling with “problem drinking,” skip this.  Also skip: Jimmy Buffett.)

8. Many Rivers To Cross (Jimmy Cliff) — This is the song that will keep him on his toes, and make him sweat a little.  This song doesn’t scream “I’m getting out the razor blades, Mother F*ucker,” but it does remind him that you have a few desperate longings that he’s supposed to be “treating” with his fancy Yale-University of Chicago degrees.  Keep him from getting complacent over the holidays.  Send him running to his JAMA articles over the break.

9. This Little Light Of Mine (I’m Gonna Let It Shine) (Gospel version) — If he’s Jewish, it works for Hanukkah because LIGHTS.  If he’s Christian, it works as well, since it’s about Christ.  If he’s an atheist, it works because works as a secular ode to self-empowerment.

Whatever you do, end on a high note. (Maybe the theme from Rent.)

FN 1: For the purposes of this post, I have assumed a male therapist, because my therapist is male, and I have a feeble imagination. Also: it’s all about me.

FN 2: Use the songs that work for your relationship, but you should avoid these: Psycho Killer (Talking Heads), Jolene (Dolly Parton), and anything by Amy Winehouse (don’t scare him), audio recordings of Sylvia Plath and/or Anne Sexton (keep suicidal ideation out of Christmas/Hanukkah).  Also, avoid the work of Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Elvis.

10-ish Signs I Am Losing It Completely

We are not even in the holiday crunch time, and I am already fried to a crisp.  I cannot pinpoint the exact day that I lost my mind, but the evidence all around me suggests it’s long gone.  My mind is somewhere drinking a fruity drink adorned with a swizzle stick, while sitting next to Elvis and Donald Trump’s original hair piece.

I shudder when I think about how flaky I will be once the holidays hit, and I am staring down a cross-country flight with the junior members of my household, AND Costco will be crowded TWENTY FOUR SEVEN.  Oh, god, it’s gonna suck.

The good news is that maybe because I have already lost my mind, I won’t have the wherewithal to care. In fact, I probably won’t.

Don’t believe me that I am cracking up?  I have proof.  I am not so far gone that I am unable to blog about my beloved-and-now-departed good sense.

Here are the 10 signs that I have lost my ever-living mind:

  1. Toy Tampons:  It was a low point when I realized that I had let Simon play with a box of tampons so I could take a shower.  On the plus side, they were unopened, so there were no sanitary breaches.  Also, I had gotten extra when they were on sale two for one so the fact that he opened and ruined a few was not as tragic as you might think.  My main defense: don’t call your company Playtex if you don’t want me to have my children play with them.

    Watcha playing with, kiddo? Feminine hygeine products? That's cool.

    Watcha playing with, kiddo? Feminine hygeine products? That’s cool.

  2. Homecooking:  Wait, here’s another low point.  I decided that I would make us all a home-cooked meal.  So, naturally I heated up a Trader Joe’s chicken burrito.  But, I didn’t want to appear to be “phoning it in,” so I also made a pizza by spreading some tomato sauce on a pita and melting cheese on it. I had the nerve to call it “International Cuisine Night” at my house.

    International Cuisine Night at Chez Outlaw Mama

    International Cuisine Night at Chez Outlaw Mama

  3. My hair: Despite the Cindy Brady-esque bangs that I have right now, I  nevertheless have thought they looked “decent” on the two occasions I have taken off my do-rag long enough to see them.  I’m not taking a picture of them, but trust me, these bangs are a lot of things, but they are not decent, I am simply loco.
  4. Costco: I have forsaken my beloved Costco on 2 (not 1, but TWO) family outings.  I heard myself say to Jeff, “You guys go ahead without me,” and I should have known something was gravely amiss.  Skipping a Costco trip means only one thing: someone needs to up her medication because she’s not right in the head.
  5. Halloween Candy:  Sadie’s purple plastic Halloween pumpkin sits on our counter with her dwindling candy supply.  We are down to the fruity Tootsie Rolls (a travesty if you ask me) and the Smarties.  I finally dipped into her stash to eat a DumDum lollipop after  bragging for weeks on Twitter that I hadn’t touched her candy.  Excuse me, what dumbass forgoes Snickers, Reese’s, and Twix and decides to give in to the temptation for a stupid blueberry lollipop?  A Woman Who’s Lost Her Mind, that’s who.
  6. Music: The other day I went on a run and I was 15 minutes into it before I realized I was listening to my kids’ music.  My endorphins were queued up and ready to kick in, and I found myself humming along to “B-I-N-G-O.”  I stopped on the sidewalk and wept for the 15 minutes of adult, cardio-friendly music that I could have enjoyed.  Then, I stopped in a church and lit a candle for the three songs I would have listened to but for my total lapse in sanity: (1) Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel, (2) Erasure’s Give A Little Respect, and (3) Milli Vanilli’s Girl You Know It’s True.
  7. Shopping:  Three times I have gotten that urgent email from the Gap about how I can get 400% off my entire purchase by midnight.  Each time, I tell myself that I will do some early Christmas shopping for myself my loved ones and take advantage of the deal.  I even put items in my cart.  But then, POOF! I just forget to finish the purchase.  Do you know how impossible it is for me to “forget” to finish shopping? It’s unheard of.  I finalized purchases within 15  minutes of a C-section (on two occasions).  I don’t even know myself anymore.  This one’s going to hurt when I have to buy those “boyfriend cords” full price in a few weeks.
  8. Make-up: I’m from Texas and was raised to believe that lip gloss and powder are as essential to life as oxygen (the gas, not the network) and water.  I have watched my Estee Lauder powder dwindle down to about 3 flakes.  For weeks, I tried to remind myself to order it on Amazon or run over to Macy’s to get it. Have I? No.  Now, I have nothing but an empty container and an Estee Lauder powder puff to keep me company.  This is very, very bad.  Who is so busy she can’t order her everyday powder? I’m sorry, Texas. I swear I am better than this.

Well, that’s it. I said 10ish.  8 is in the ballpark.  Someday, I will tell you about the comb I let Simon play with while I took a shower and where he stuck it when I had soap in my eyes.  It’s more proof, but I have to get treatment for my PTSD before discussing it with you on the Interwebs.  I could also mention the ill effects of my dried apricot addiction, but you know what? It’s late and that story is gross.

Let’s call it a night while we are all still friends.

It’s Not That I Hate Halloween; It Hates Me

I am not sure how to write this post without coming off as a holiday hater. Nobody likes a holiday hater.  But, Halloween– it’s on my very last nerve. I, for one, cannot wait until November 1, my  new favorite day of the year.

Part of the issue is that we started celebrating Halloween in mid-September.  Our pumpkin rotted before the first leaves fell.  So, some of my distaste for Halloween is sheer fatigue.  We’ve costumed up the kids no less than 6 times this October, and I have about 718 photos to prove it.  I will spare you that.

But seriously, remember when Halloween was one stinking night?  When did it spawn into six weekend days scattered throughout the fall?

This pumpkin perfectly captures my Halloween spirit right about now. (Um, also, it's moldy because it was carved before the first Presidental debate.)

This pumpkin perfectly captures my Halloween spirit right about now. (Um, also, it’s moldy because it was carved before the first Presidental debate.)

And, I can’t really say I decorated the house, because a lone gourd and a plastic Halloween table cloth does not a decorated house make, but I am sick of staring at that shriveled up gourd, and the table cloth? I’m burning that tonight.

This morning, I actually felt a tiny flicker of Halloween love remaining in my cold, shriveled heart.  “It’s the 31st! We made it! If I can just get through today….”

Famous last words, people. Please carve them on my headstone. Or into the Jack-o-latern that you place on my grave every Halloween.

I should have known that Simon sleeping in until 6:05 AM was not necessarily a good omen, though it beats the candy corn outta hearing him bellow for me at 5:20 AM.  For her contribution to the morning, Sadie crawled in my bed around 6:30 AM, but fell back asleep.

It should have been perfect.  Except.  Except, she rolled over at 7:20 AM when I was furtively typing a blog post.  Ya’ll, she looked right into my eyes and said, “Mitt Romney.”

What the caramel-coated fudge did that child just say to me?

So I said, “What did you say, Sweetie?”  She repeated, lazily, “Mitt Romney.”

I hate to school my kids so early in the morning, but they bring it on themselves.  “Sadie, it’s customary to greet your mother with something less inflammatory.  How about ‘Good Morning,’ or ‘You never loved me’? Don’t come at me with ‘Mitt Romney’ before noon.”

But, I meditated for a few minutes and pulled myself together.  For the kids.

The middle part of the day was okay (because Simon was asleep and Sadie was at school), but before that everywhere we went store clerks (at the UPS Store, the grocery store, and the dry cleaners) gave my children handfuls of candy. Without asking me.  “Hello! Can you see me? I am the one holding the Benjamins that will pay your ass so don’t you dare give junior here a Charleston Chew.”

Have you ever tried to get a Whopper away from a toddler?  There were tears, there was rage, and there were bloody surrenders. (Mine. I am the one who surrendered.)

Then, the trick-or-treating.

I rallied, people, I really did.  I pulled out our entire costume array once again.  Both of my angels opted to wear costumes roughly 2 sizes too small, so Simon donned a Mickey Mouse get-up that was designed for a six-month old baby. I am pretty sure his junk was smushed up in that red plush long enough to have done long-term damage. (To his future wife: you may have to adopt.)  And Sadie? She decided she had to wear the pumpkin costume that was meant for an 18-month old.  The good news was that both kids waited until we stepped out the door to complain about how their costumes hurt.

Can I say one more thing about those costumes? Both ensembles required tights.  Do you know how slippery tights are? Both of my children fell off stools, and stairs, and chairs all night long.  My nerves are still clattering from the phantom sounds of my children’s heads hitting our hard wood floors.  Next year, we are either getting carpeting or banning tights.

I know I sound like a crank.  Frankly, I am.  I should probably just settle on the couch with Sadie’s stash and let the Laffy Taffy love the pain away.  And I will, as soon as I finish this post.  But, it’s not going to be with some fruity candy– I want the Mounds, the Reese’s, and the Butterfingers.  I’ve earned it.

So long, Halloween, don’t let the door hit you on the ass!