Tag Archives: birthday

Life at 35

Well, the worst is over.  I turned 35 today and I didn’t die in my sleep from old age.  Happy birthday to me.

Here’s what 35 looks like:

I always struggle with my birthday before it happens, usually ending up a pathetic mess of tears on the night before or the morning of my birthday. Each number I increase in is one more number away from the time I had less crow’s feet around my eyes, less sparklers in my hair, and less sag in my behind. You know, that age when I took it all for granted. The time before the big day, I spend it in a constant state of mourning. In fact, Shawn almost laughed at me in my misery last night, telling me he couldn’t understand how someone who professed so strongly about the power of positive thinking ala Wayne Dyer was actually focusing so intently on getting older and withering away. I had to remind him that he was a rather big baby when he didn’t get enough sleep or his bank account was lacking, and that he really should be more gentle with me because I was in a rather fragile state of mind.

Of course, once my birthday is actually under way, I’m able to get out of my self-induced misery and enjoy a day that’s all about me. Each text, Facebook comment, and phone call has made my day so incredibly special, how could I even be depressed? Besides, there are tons of really great bonuses to turning 35. Like, I can now be president of the United States!

American Me

I don’t know, President Crissi has kind of a nice ring to it. Nevermind that I don’t have any experience in government. Look at the mess those WITH experience are creating? I might just be the answer to turning things around. First order of business? Declare Mondays a mandatory day off with pay. That should turn the economy around.

But seriously, this upcoming year has some exciting things coming my way. And it will be interesting to see if it can overcome the greatness of 34 – when I got married to my best friend! But 35? There are lots of things to look forward to.

And in Top TEN fashion, here are my favorites of things I can’t wait for, and things I resolve to accomplish before 36 rears its ugly little head:

10. It’s the year of the story book. You guys, I am in love with this latest craze of taking childhood storybooks and twisting them into something dark and so rock & roll. I love the TV show Once Upon a Time (in spite of the absolutely horrendous acting). And same with every other movie that’s been created from fables and stories. Of course, we’ll just ignore the fact that all of them have been bombs, ok? Because HANSEL & GRETEL is going to be expanded upon in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. I can thank my lovely daughter for alerting me to this fact just this morning, before we proceeded to drool over the epicness of the trailer. Besides the fact that is freaking awesome and totally kickass, you just can’t go wrong with Jeremy Renner. This movie is going to be awesome.

9. And on the movie note, we also have the 2nd book of the HUNGER GAMES (omg!), Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby, Beautiful Creatures, Oz The Great and Powerful (below), and Warm Bodies to look forward to.

8. Getting back on the wagon. Ok, I have whined about it enough. This is the year I get back out to pound the pavement and get back in the shape I was in just a few months ago. It’s not like I have much to make up for. I can do this!


7. Excelling at work. My job is pretty cool. I get to manage the websites for both SantaRosaMom.com and 707.pressdemocrat.com. I get to write both parenting and entertainment articles. I get to peruse the internet for material. I am in charge of our events calendar and of any contest that rolls our way. I have a lot of responsibility. But you know what? Almost all of it is really fun. I’ve come a long way from where I once was. And this year I see myself making even more leaps and bounds professionally. That makes me really excited about this next year.

6. Read more.  That’s right, along with #8 of getting rock hard abs, I also plan to sit on my ass more and put my nose in a book.  With my new eReader (a Nook), this shouldn’t be too hard.  Currently I’m breezing through The Life of Pi (loving it).  Next up, by recommendation from another blogger, is The House of Mirth.

5.  Write another book.  Because why stop at 3 rough drafts?  As I finish editing my latest novel, I already have a few ideas hitting me from all directions.  It might be at next year’s NaNo, or it might be sooner.  But writing books is about to not just be a thing I’ve done, but a thing I DO.


4. Celebrate one year of marriage on October 13, 2013.   🙂

(photo by Lisa Baylacq)
(photo by Lisa Baylacq)

3. Take tons of vacation time! Joining the Writer’s Guild this year gave me a few added benefits in my job, and that included upping my vacation time. Now I will be able to accompany my son on his 6th grade camp, be a chaperone at my kids’ summer camp, and even have a little time left over to visit my sister for an extended weekend in San Diego. And that brings me to #2…

2. Hawaii! This year, Shawn and I have plans to take the whole family to Hawaii. Since we are still paying off the honeymoon, it might be a little bit of a stretch. But we’re still bound and determined to make it happen. And you know what? I really can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to.

1. And, of course, my book HAS to be #1. This is the year. I am almost through with the 2nd set of edits on A Symphony of Cicadas, and it’s coming together beautifully. I can’t wait to see it on bookshelves – both online and in stores. But mostly, I can’t wait to be able to share it with you! I have tentatively slated May 2013 for the release date, though with all the progress I’ve made, it may be even sooner. We’ll see!

Today is a good day to be 35.  Here’s to making it the best year of my life so far.  🙂

5 reasons for the blues

I’ve been a real ray of sunshine on this blog as of late, haven’t I? I hate that the last several posts have been so negative. I’m afraid I’m becoming one of those people that use social media to complain – the very people I eventually unfriend on Facebook because I can’t take their negativity any more on my newsfeed.

Luckily there are only two or so of you who actually read this blog religiously. Unluckily, I’ll be real sad if either of you stop reading.

So hang in there with me, ok?

First off, I promise that my life is not that miserable. I have a lot of good things going on right now. I’m newly married, and totally still in the honeymoon phase (when we’re not being cranky, lol). I hope this phase lasts a long, long time. My new raise at work takes effect this next week, something that couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. My birthday is in two days (yay!), and Christmas is just around the corner (yay!). And the editing of my novel is going so smooth, it’s possible I might even be able to get it published before my projected May 2013 release date.

So things are good.

Then why do I have the blues?

First off, it’s possible I’m suffering from post-wedding blues. Maybe. I’m thrilled to not have to plan a wedding anymore. You guys, I am so not a wedding planner. And yet I put every ounce of my energy into planning that wedding. And then it went by before I could even remember what happened at the party. Then we went on this fantastic honeymoon. Now, things are back to normal. And the “normal” is both a relief, and a bit of a letdown. I’ve discovered I suddenly have a ton of time on my hands – which I have slowly been soaking up in novel edits.

Second, this lack of daylight is giving me the blues. In the morning it’s dark. I get home from work, it’s dark. As a result (or maybe my excuse), I’ve stopped running. A few months ago I could run 3-5 miles, no sweat. Now, I don’t think I could run a mile, at least not very easily.

Which brings me to my third thing. I’ve stopped exercising altogether. My muscles are still in that achy stage where they are trying to will me to get up off the couch and get in some exercise. But my body and mind are like, “Screw that, hand me another chocolate covered cookie, please.”

And that brings up reason #4 – I have gained back the 10 pounds I lost before the wedding. I know, I know. That doesn’t seem like a lot of weight. But on my frame, it is. All my clothes are fitting tighter, which is so depressing I keep reaching for the chocolate and carbs to make myself feel better. Any hint of muscle definition I’d gained before the wedding is now gone. My stomach is spilling over my jeans. My pants, that were loose on me two months ago, are now a struggle to get on. The simple answer is to stop the mindless grazing, forbid sugary foods from my diet, and start getting up and exercising. But for some reason, the drive I had before the wedding is totally gone. I even had to take the scale out of my bathroom because I was habitually weighing myself and getting depressed over the number, and yet I was doing nothing to change that number.

Finally, #5. I’m excited about my birthday. I’m not excited about getting older. I’m turning 35, which might not seem like such a big deal. But there was a time when 35 seemed really, really old to me. I mean, it’s practically middle aged. I’m officially leaving my early 30s and entering my mid 30s. I might have to start collecting social security.

Perhaps if I up my Vitamin D, I might feel better. Or maybe if I can get myself to at least take a daily walk I can chase away these blues. I don’t know. But please hang in there with me. I’ll try not to be so depressing.

Frugal birthdays

Now that it is February, I thought I would do my public service duty and offer this bit of free advice.  Starting next month until about May 15th, I’m sending out an advisory warning with all the bells and whistles.  Or should I say, without bells and whistles.  For in this time, it is being advised that you refrain from all sexual activity that might lead to reproducing a cute little infant that is born between December and February.  If you don’t heed my warning, you’ll be destined to another gift giving occasion that lands in between the winter gift giving holidays and Valentine’s Day.   

Seriously, if you like buying groceries, you’ll listen to my advice.  So either get it out of the way now, or just wait till June.

And while I’m there, I should probably add that you should be paying attention to which month you’ve conceived any of your children.  Know which month that is?  Good.  You can never have sex in that month again – because nothing will render you broke faster than celebrating two birthdays within the same week with no time of recovery.

I tell you this because no one was kind enough to fill me in on this particular detail of baby planning.  And apparently May seemed to have been a very celebratory month for me, judging by what came 9 months later.  Meaning that I totally grew them out of the ground, Dad.  My kids were born 3 years and 3 days apart, both in the beginning of February – when rent is due, when I’m still trying to come up for air from Christmas, and before any hope of a tax return comes.  So basically, my kids have grown quite accustomed to celebrating their birthday parties (when they get one) in different months from their birthdays, the occasional IOU for the better part of their present when the next paycheck comes, and celebrating both of their birthdays with extended family on the same day.

In truth, I wouldn’t really claim they’re suffering.  It’s still ensured that they’ll both feel special for their personal birthday.  And even if staggered, they’re still just as spoiled as any other kid their age.  But by the time their birthdays are done, I’m left catching my breath after pulling every single string out there to make sure they each have some kind of special meal, they get to do something great on their day, they have something to open, and there is something decadent to blow a candle out on.

Nevertheless, it’s done.  The birthdays are over and each kid is now one year older and a little bit richer thanks to generous family.  And now all that’s left is the birthday with friends. 

Let me just stop to clarify something right here.  There is no rule that a child has to have a birthday party every single year.  Whoever had you believe this was only hoping to make you feel bad when it became too much to handle, or is laughing as you pull out all the stops year after year for a kid who has grown to expect it.  I want to point out that your child has received a dozen or more gifts from you and their grandparents.  And then you are shelling out $100 (often times more) for a party for their friends so they can give them a cheap plastic toy they found at the Dollar Store?  Seriously, why are you killing yourself?  Do they really need a bouncy house, a piñata, a clown that twists balloons, and a bag full of goodies for each guest that will just end up under the seat in the car on their way home – every year? Is the stress induced worry about whether your party was better than little Johnny’s party last weekend really worth it? 

Do you enjoy it?

If so, carry on.  But me, I hate birthday parties.  When the kids were young, I totally fed into the hype.  We annihilated the Funky Monkey.  We abused piñata after piñata.  I planned out game after game as if I were some highly paid preschool teacher that actually liked a room full of screaming kids.  And I’d keep a smile on my face the whole time. And when it was done, I’d lock myself in the bathroom with an eye mask, a bubble bath, a good glass of wine, and strict orders that mommy was on time out.

That’s why I love the older kid birthday parties.  Well, love is a strong word.  But I tolerate them.  Since my kids had “special” birthdays (one is now a teen, one entered double digits), birthday parties were promised to each – one this month, and the other next month.  They can invite two or three friends for a slumber party where we’ll all do one fun, inexpensive activity.  And then they’re left to entertain themselves while I stay nearby to make sure no one starts bleeding.  Soooo much better than blindfolding a kid and having them whack a hollow donkey.

So let’s recap.  How are we to be intentionally frugal for our children’s birthdays?

1.  No sex from March till the middle of May to ensure no holiday money-grubbing children.
2.  Space those kids out.
Note:  If you mess up and don’t follow #1 and #2, lie about their birth dates.  Like any little baby born in February would really know if you change their birthday to July – a much better month to have a birthday.
Train your kids when they’re young that they don’t need a birthday party every single year.

Any questions?

9 years ago today…

9 years ago today, a loud and wailing cry sounded from a tiny hospital room in North Santa Rosa. That’s right folks, the Taz had entered the building – and the world – and was making his presence known.

He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. And once he learned to smile, he used that little grin of his to win the hearts of anyone who came in contact with him. The Taz was a happy baby. And a happy toddler. But from day one, the Taz was full of energy and couldn’t be held back. He was in too much of a hurry to learn how to crawl, so he adapted a new way to move by lifting one leg in the air and scooting around on his belly – fast. I would race after him, and he would be hard to catch. At 2, he would disappear from our house right under our noses to go hang out with the teenage skateboarders in the parking lot. He would escape from his room to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – in his bed and all over his walls. He would corner our poor cat and organize his toys on her belly while she just laid there, looking at us as if to wonder when we were going to rescue her.

That’s the thing about the Taz. He’s a natural animal charmer. We had this one cat in our neighborhood that we stayed clear of. He was big and orange, and looked at anyone who got close to him like he was going to kill them. The Taz, at age 5, had that cat laying at his feet and purring while the Taz scratched his forehead. It’s an amazing thing to watch – this boisterous little boy that, at times, can’t be calmed down, has this thing about him that draws animals to him.

He’s also brilliant, though I don’t think he realizes the full extent of it. In 1st grade, he was helping his 4th grade sister with her math homework. For “fun”, he likes to do math problems in the car with me, just to see how fast he can do the problems in his head. And his writing skills, who knew? When he has an essay to write for school, he’ll try to get me to write it for him. And when he gets frustrated by the lack of help I am giving him, he will just do it himself out of spite. And what he writes is more amazing than I even knew he was capable of.

The Taz is just full of surprises.

Of course, there’s also the side of Taz that refuses to be too serious. Somewhere along the line, my little Tasmanian Devil decided that he couldn’t smile nicely once a camera was in front of him. He is famous for his photo bombs…..


And then there’s also all of the blog material I get out of him. “The Taz was misusing the bathroom – again.” “The Taz has no shoes on today because he threw them on top of the school.” “Today I couldn’t get all my shopping done because the Taz was break dancing in the aisles.” “The Taz let his friend hold his wallet, and now wonders where his $50 in Christmas money went.” “I had to buy the Taz new shoes for the 3rd time this year because his shoes were talking to me – and I couldn’t have him go around with duct tape on them for the rest of the year…”

The Taz makes my life interesting, to say the least.  He creates little crisis’s that has me pulling out my hair and leaves me, at times, wondering if I’m really cut out for this motherhood thing. But he also has a firm hold on my heartstrings. At the end of the day, he is the first one to snuggle up to me and tell me he loves me. Those three words come out of his mouth easily and full of meaning, and he tells them to me often. As strong and independent as he tries to be, he leans on me for support and to keep him safe. In many ways, he is still the little boy with the big blue eyes, looking up at me with the mischievous grin that wins my heart every time. And I love him back, a million times over.

Happy 9th birthday, Taz! I love you!

12 years ago today…

12 years ago today, I was looking my newborn daughter in the eyes for the first time. I held her tiny body (all 9 lbs, 12 oz of her) and couldn’t believe that they were going to let me take her home. Didn’t they know I had never done this before? I wasn’t sure I could be trusted to know when to feed her or how often to change her diaper. I was unsure what would happen if I ever stopped counting how many times she breathed. I was sure, with as fragile as her body was, that

I was going to be the one to break her.

I mean, I couldn’t be trusted to carry more than a couple dishes at a time. I had broken my mother’s favorite coffee cup that way. I wasn’t very careful with my books, still guilty of dog-earing the pages and returning borrowed paperbacks with the hints of everything I had eaten that week between the pages. And some of them were just never returned at all. I couldn’t for the life of me put things away in their proper place. Hair supplies sometimes were in the art cabinet. Food storage containers were under my bed. Our only flashlight was somewhere in a pile of stuff. And I couldn’t even remember where I had placed my nail clippers. I lost stuff all the time.

Oh my jeez. What if I lost the baby???

Needless to say, they did let me take her home, ignoring the deer caught in the headlights look in my eyes. And needless to say, I never lost her. I caught on pretty quickly to the whole new mother role, falling in love with my daughter immediately and effortlessly. And that kind of love was stronger than any feeling I had ever felt my whole life.

I look at her now, the little girl she once was slowly slipping away. She more closely resembles the woman she is going to become than the pigtailed toddler in overalls that used to follow me wherever I went. Now she is independent, very clear on the interests of her life and where she wants to be in several more years. She’s almost as tall as me, and will surely pass me up by the summertime. She is my second hand, the one I can rely on to help start dinner, clear the table or dish rack, or locate her brother outside. She is old enough now to be able to share stories with and have a laugh, much like I would with my own friends.  My daughter has an old soul.  She’s incredibly smart and responsible beyond her years.  She’s been through a lot in her young life, and you can see the strength that she possesses.  

I don’t just love my daughter, I genuinely like her.

She might be quick to roll her eyes or tell me when one of my ideas are lame.  She is the first to tell me that the outfit I’m wearing is not really flattering at all.  If she believes in something, she will argue it as far as she can.  If she can’t win verbally, she’ll shut her mouth and make it clear that what she is thinking about me can’t be pretty. 

In short, she’s just like me. 

She watches me when I put on make-up.  She won’t let me show her how, but she pays attention so she can learn.  Every now and then she’ll spill the secrets of her soul, just needing to get it out, and trusting me to guard her heart.  She holds the same passion for writing that I do, constantly keeping a notebook closeby so that she can jot down more ideas and storylines towards the novel she’s creating.  And occasionally she’ll run ideas by me, reading snippets of passages or asking about a certain concept.

And this amazing person was trusted to me for the last 12 years, and hopefully 200 more, to raise, guide, and love.

Happy 12th birthday, my not-so-little drama queen.  I love you.

Birthday parties

My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow, and my son’s is this Friday. And we are still in the works for planning their birthday parties. In past years we have had numerous sleepovers, a couple of outside slip n slide events, a day over at Scandia, and have let the Funky Monkey take over and do all the work. There have been some years that have cost me a fortune (though not as much, apparently, as some celebrity parents), and some years where I allowed only the minimum to keep things in a tight budget.

It seems that when kids are young, there is a competition to throw the most memorable and fun party, complete with gift bags of the latest accesories. There is nothing worse than a mom coming to pick up her child, and overhearing how much the party sucked. I admit, I fell into the trap, and felt like I needed to go all out to make sure that every kid was well sugared up after playing tons of activities I had been putting together for months. Birthday parties left me exhausted, and I dreaded them each year.

Now that the kids are older, their requirements are a lot less than before. They don’t need jumping houses or pinatas. They don’t want to be greeted by a clown or play in a ball pit. But they do want to invite their friends and have fun. And for the most part, fun involves as little interaction from me. So we have more slumber parties, invite fewer kids, and do one fun activity such as the movies, dinner out, or miniature golf and racecars. And then I tuck them in and let them keep the noise level at a low roar, and go to bed. Painless (except for the occasional threats that there will be no more slumber parties if they don’t stop jumping on the couch) and affordable.

What are some of the things you do for your child for their birthday parties?
Do you have a limit on how many friends they can invite?
And what exactly do you put in those dang gift bags?

Oh, and if you are looking for a birthday party that will top the Jones’, be sure to check out Over The Top Productions, a company that specializes in birthday bashes for your precious little one that will only cost you a cool $10,000 or more. For that price, maybe they’ll remember turning 2….

(Join the discussion in the forums about birthday party ideas)