Santa's Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right Night Before Christmas

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Maybe this book should be called When Santa Goes Wild. Okay, so maybe the word here shouldn't be "wild". Perhaps the word is rogue. Santa goes rogue in this book and what ensues is all kinds of hullabaloo that cannot be missed. What would you expect from a book called Santa's Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right Night Before Christmas?Santa_Zany_Cover

You're probably thinking "it's not even Thanksgiving, Sili!" but hear me out. I need to tell you about this book so that when you go out shopping after Thanksgiving, you will KNOW that this is a must read for young and old.

I adore being read to. It's one of life's simple pleasures and I welcome you to do it this holiday season.

There's a special place in my heart for the retelling of the Night Before Christmas. I read this book out loud (sans the girl because, I take my job VERY seriously, people!). Of course, once it passed my test then it went on to the Frog Princess who had all kinds of questions surrounding the mix up thanks to one small thing going wrong. How Murray Saves Christmas is still top of my list for the humorous retelling of the classic, but I will say that this adorableness of Santa and his laundry situation is too cute to pass up.

How cute? Well, Mrs. Claus is sick on Christmas Eve and someone ends up having to do his own laundry. Simple enough, right? No siree! Santa ends up putting paint in the washing machine thinking it was soap! Now, I do think this was Santa just trying to get out of doing laundry in the future but, that could just be me.

Santa delivers all of his presents in what is now a purple suit. All goes off without a hitch except...the purple suit did not go unnoticed and all of Christmas is just not what it should be. First of all, can I just tell you I was thinking about Prince and how he would rock the purple Santa suit? No, I can't stay on task because...#purple and #Prince. But, I digress!

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I will say that in the end (SPOILER), I had a slight issue with laundry duties going back to Mrs. Claus since Santa obviously needs to stay in his lane. But, I'm setting aside my feminist fierceness and giving this book 4.5 stars for Christmas cheer and holiday humor.

Buy it, read it to as many people as will listen and enjoy it. Then, let me know how you like it.

What's your favorite holiday book?

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Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of this book to facilitate this review. Links above are affiliate links. All thoughts,  opinions and daydreaming of Christmas are purely my own.

The Christmas Hangover

No, this is not about any alcoholic consumption that took place. Alas, this is about that generally feeling of grief that hits me once the clock strikes midnight after December 25th. We had a fantabulous time on Noche Buena. Don't know what that is? Well, we celebrate Christmas  Eve in a big way and then usually just lounge on Christmas Day as we open gifts and remember the reason for the season.

This year, my siblings and I hosted at our house. And it was great. With well over 25 people in the house, I can say that there was certainly a feeling of togetherness. I'd like to think my photo booth props helped! Special thanks to my girl Gigi for doing that post last week. So loved the idea!

I'm still thinking of all of the appetizers eaten, of the drinks passed around and of the general sense of celebration that filled this house. And the house feels emptier. The tree, full of gifts for just a little over 36 hours now feels hollow. And is it me or is the smell of pine gone?

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Christmas hangover, I tell ya.

But what's still here are the memories. The ones that I didn't write about on social media (gasp!), the ones I couldn't capture with my camera but certainly captured with my heart. The whispers of love, the smiles as we opened gifts. The spirit of the season which to me is always rooted in love.

I hope you are suffering from the Christmas hangover because if you are, it means you have thoroughly sucked in the true joy of the holiday.

Now if you'll excuse me, my boss has given me a mile-long to do list!

Sunday Blessings: Messages

My blog late on Friday confessing that I wasn't feeling the holidays stirred up some emotions.  It also allowed me to be free from that sense and feeling and focus on the reason for the season.  Thanks to all who sent messages and left comments.  I firmly believe that we all serve a purpose in the divine.  Regardless of what you believe, I am convinced that there's a reason for you being here, reading this blog, right at this moment in your life.  Most times it's not even so that you can get something out of it but, so that you can help me (and others) on our particular journey. I'm not going to get too metaphysical here.  The sermon on Christmas Eve was about getting beyond ourselves during this season. Beyond our feelings of hurt, sorrow and sadness. It was deep and thought-provoking as most, if not all, of Dr. Hunter's messages are.  If you want a more concise explanation, you'll have to check it out for yourself as I'm terrible at paraphrasing sermons.  I equate it to me eating an orange.  When I'm done with it, all that's left is the stuff that I couldn't eat and who wants to put that in their mouths afterwards? In the same fashion, I digest the Word, take out all of the juices and it takes me a while to digest and my body to produce it as nourishment for another (pretty deep, eh? Bet you never thought a sermon was like an orange).

Right after church, I received a message from a kindred spiritual being.  My brother from another mother.  A man that I once shared the stage with. A beautiful dancer with an even more beautiful soul.  To anyone else who might read the message, it might sound harsh.  But knowing him as I do, his words came straight from the heart, with nothing but love and sprinkled with quite a few messages from my mami.

At the root of it was the same message I'd heard minutes prior.  There's more to it than you.  More to it than this pain and in order for me to continue the work that I feel I was put on this earth to do (including shepherding my frog princess along), I need to put my big girl panties on and get going!  As I read his message all I could do was smile and nod in agreement. With that, I was able to enjoy my Christmas Eve as best as I could and I have been able to find peace on this Christmas Day.

I love that as connected beings, we can reach the heart and soul of someone else.  That we can minister with words when actions do not (and vice versa).  That a sorrowful confession on Friday turned into a lesson taught on Saturday and a smiling heart on Sunday.

It is my deepest hope that all of my readers (who I consider family and friends probably because most of you are just that) have found the reason for the season in these past few days.  That you've looked beyond the presents under the tree and looked around to see the presence of those that count.  That you are leading your life with purpose in spite of the hurt, sorrow or disappointments that you might be feeling.

Consider this my Christmas message.  May this coming year lead you to your purpose and may you find or remember the reason not just for the season but for your being.

How was your Christmas?

My Confession

It is the eve before Christmas Eve and I think I have spent all of my Christmas Spirit.  Today I received the Target Gift Card from Olive Garden and was able to make purchases that will allow me to give more babies what they need.  I am doing this for mami. I felt all kinds of joy and happiness. But, as I sat here and thought about what tomorrow will bring, I realized that joy was to be short-lived. I've decorated a live tree. I've purchased items in her name for the frog princess. Things she wanted to get last year but couldn't.  But it is not the same.  I think about last year. Driving out of town on Christmas Eve as she headed to the hospital after battling with us that she did not need to go.  She'd spiked a fever.  Sepsis from an unknown infection.  Days later, I would be told that the tumor was growing again.  That they couldn't do anything for her.

I would tell her this in as soft a language as I could muster (because it was my job to deliver all news).  She looked at me and the tear that rolled out of my eye and told me to not get like that. That she had no plans of dying.  Less than a month later, she was gone.

This holiday that I have been dreading is here.  Superficially, I want to do all of the things that are appropriate and expected.  But, I suddenly don't feel like interacting with anyone.  I don't feel like smiling in order to make others feel comfortable with my grief.  I don't know what to do.  How this holiday is supposed to ever feel okay.  How the gaping hole in my heart can ever heal.

I miss her.  Especially now.  Especially in her home.  Especially at this time.  Though many mourn her, I can't help but feel completely alone in my sorrow.  Displaced like an old toy cast aside as a new one is unwrapped.  I wish I could write a lovely post about the meaning of Christmas, the joy in my heart and the happiness I feel.

Truth is, I feel numb.  I've wrapped gifts for my child and still can't get in the spirit.  A Christmas Story has played and for the first time ever, it seems to have ended too quickly.  I have a house full of clutter and no desire to do anything about it.  I'm wondering if all of the pomp and circumstance was a good idea after all. If perhaps, it might've been better to not plan anything this year.  I wonder how I will feel tomorrow.  If my dreams tonight will help lift some of the sorrow in my heart.

But as of right now, I confess, I am not feeling the hopeful happiness that I've worked towards these last few weeks.  I just feel empty, sad and alone...

Finding a Little Christmas Magic

I've fallen off the editorial calendar wagon. It's okay, the grief counselor said not to commit to anything during this first holiday season without mami so, I'm cutting myself some slack and you should too! I'm taking a break from my nervous breakdown earlier today after finding that one of the awesome closet systems I purchased was missing some parts.  A few puffs into a paper bag after looking at the mounds of clothes, bags and boxes that I'd taken out of the closet and voila! I was good as new.  But, I digress.

Have I told you that I love the holidays?  From preparing for Thanksgiving to planning for the new year.  Always have. This time seems magical to me in so many different ways.  Last year, though, mami went in to the hospital on Christmas Eve as I made my way out of town. I'm still working to get over the guilt of that. I turned around and came right back but, the thought that I was not present on her very last Christmas day here on earth is hard to swallow.  Needless to say, I've been on a roller coaster of emotions over the last few weeks.  If you know me, I want to apologize in advance for not being myself.  I hope you understand.  If you don't well, then there are bigger problems to resolve like, how can I get you out of my contact list.

Mami loved Christmas.  She was a giver and I learned that little talent from her.  I love giving.  And this year it has been especially hard because as much as I want to pick something up for this person or that, I can't.  I got a couple of things for the frog princess and the monkey king and that's about it.  The rest of whatever "extra" cash I had has gone to my Bags of Blessings for Babies. I make each and every bag hoping that the person NOT getting a gift from me this year will understand that I've invested in a cause that's near and dear to my heart.  I aim to make these bags in mami's honor.  She loved children.  One day soon, I'll tell you about one of my earliest memories of giving.  In each one, she was very much present.

This week, I told my dad about my Christmas project and expressed how disappointed I was that I didn't think to start this earlier and how I'd love to be able to do more than the 12 bags that I plan on putting together with the help of a few of you who have donated.  And then it happened. The Christmas magic that I have fallen in love with over and over again.

I received a Tweet from Olive Garden:

It didn't refer back to any of my previous Tweets and at first I was slightly suspicious but, I contacted them.  Long story short, they wanted to help with my cause.  And I was shocked.  Speechless even.  I haven't really been able to put words to this until now.  An answered prayer.  Olive Garden wants to help me!  They are giving me a $500 Target gift card! What do you say to that?  Um, YES PLEASE!  I'm praying the card gets here in time for me to take advantage of the totally awesome Target sale that's going on.  They have the majority of the items that I need (snap tees, onesies, towels, blankets) on sale as a buy one, get one 50% off.  If that sale holds, I think I can put together 40 additional bags for these babies (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I took away the one and carried the three during that little bit of remedial math I was forced to engage in).

Thank you does not seem to be enough!  Not just for the mamis and babies that will receive a special package on a most special day when perhaps hope has been lost and they are wondering what will come next.  But for reminding me that in spite of everything that's going on, in spite of the rough year I have had, God still smiles down on me.  That people care about others.  That I'm on the right track as I continue to help others in spite of my circumstances.  And that there's still Christmas magic in my midst.

Have you had anything this week remind you of the magic of Christmas?

Getting In The Spirit

I've been trying my best to get in the spirit of the season.  Mostly though, I've been concentrating on the decorating and the community projects. I've been too busy hyperventilating over clutter, the kitchen remodel and the closet system that has yet to go up to really start feeling it. This morning I realized I had no idea what I was getting the frog princess for Christmas.  And then I realized that Christmas is very near by.  Don't judge me, I am a visionary and always thinking that there is more time for stuff than there really is (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

The tree is up, the lights outside are not.  My mother's grave has been festively adorned with poinsettias (in two colors) along with some holly.  Ditto for grandma.  I am feeling the reason for the season deep inside of my heart.  But I've been looking for something that will make it bubble over.

Then, late last week I saw this video.  It stirred something inside of me. This morning, I watched it again.  Shortly afterwards, I was online loading up several virtual carts with items for the frog princess and smiling.  Ah! There it is!  I don't know if you can watch this video without feeling "it".  Without it making you smile.  Without it, perhaps, making you tear up.  And, if you can watch this video and not feel the Christmas spirit bubble over then, my friend, we have bigger problems to deal with (I have the names of some really cool therapists that you might want to talk to, not that I've ever needed them or anything).

Are you in the spirit?  If not, watch this and answer the question again...

This post is sponsored by T-Mobile.

A Mami's Christmas Story: Keeping Your Home Clean...

I hope the title got you here. I'm sorry to say I have no clue how to keep my home clean during the holidays.  I don't even know how to stay awake long enough to write a post according to my editorial calendar (for example, this post was supposed to go up on Friday. Instead, I am fashionably late due to my inability to stay up past the frog princess's bedtime). For those of you who don't know, I moved into my parents home a few months ago after mami passed away earlier this year and dad, overwhelmed with grief and the upkeep of a home, had a heart attack in July.  I moved from a 4-bedroom home into a 5-bedroom fully furnished home.  To say that we have clutter is an understatement.  My life is a puzzle! I move things from one place to the next, declutter then move back.  It doesn't help that during the 10-months of my mom's illness, very little was done around the house and to be honest, no one but her really knew what it took to keep up with the home.

So here we are: CHRISTMAS! It was my mom's favorite holiday and so I really want to decorate and do it all up. Except for the whole "where the heck to I put stuff" question.

Well, I put up the tree.

And everything looks fancy schmancy, except for the surrounding areas which looks like this:

On a good note, I've been able to wrangle enough bins to at least clear up the clutter in order to give myself a little bit of sanity.  At a later date, I'll take them one by one and peruse through them for further purging.  But right now, the decorations must go up!

In a day or so everything will be nice and neat and the house will smell of fresh pine and potpourri and will sparkle and shine from all of the cleaning I will do (I like to use great Mami products like: Nail & Polish, Moxy Sheen and Kazoom! Haven't heard of them before? Well, they are my own brand! If you should want to sponsor me then perhaps you can see your products listed here instead!). You may be asking yourself, with all of the stuff I have, how will my house be clean and neat in such little time?  Well, I have this:

Also, if you should come and visit, I want to let you know that you should NOT OPEN ANY CLOSET DOORS! If you do, please be sure to 1. pile everything back in the way it was and 2. don't sue me for any injuries you may have gotten as I've just warned you to not go in there!

What do you do keep your home clean during the holidays?

I am sharing my holiday home decor and cleaning tips for the chance to win prizes from The SITS Girls and Great Cleaners.

Naughty or Nice: Mami's Letter to Santa

I admit it. I STILL BELIEVE! And I don't care how bad things get, how many grown up decisions I have to make or what kind of mayhem is going on in the world, there's something about The Big Guy that I can't shake. Even as a grown up, I've written letters to Santa.  I think that writing these letters makes me believe. It makes me think about a time in my life when I believed that a fat man could seriously get through the security of our windows through the fire escape (I grew up in NYC and, how else was he going to get in the house?).  I also think that, if you're not in the spirit, there's nothing like a good letter to get you downing egg nog and kissing inappropriate people under the mistletoe.

This year, Christmas will be difficult for me.  It marks not only the first that I'm spending without mami but, it's a reminder of the beginning of the end as mami got ill Christmas Eve last year and was hospitalized until after the new year.  But still, this was her favorite holiday and she had dad decorate the tree so that the frog princess could have a festive environment. Anywho, this is also why I feel the need to write to Santa. I'm hoping he has a link to my blog.  If he doesn't, I'll be heading to the mall and chatting with him about why he doesn't love me enough to read what I write and then will shower him and his elves with my business cards! Yes, I've had plenty of time to think about this as I lie awake at night after making the mistake of falling asleep with the frog princess at bedtime.  

I put a linky at the bottom of this blog so that you can share your letter to Santa with me (I mean he'll probably read my blog before yours so, this way you're covered).

Dear Santa:

How you doin'? I'm here just chit chatting with my bloggy friends. You know how it is. Listen, here's my letter. I know I'm probably a little late but, I figure the little kids are sending their crappy letters through the mail and you can read mine instantly on the net! Plus, as a blogger, I'm giving you exposure so, that should count for something.  Anywho, here's the list, big man. I trust that my name has made it on the nice list.  I mean, you did get my letter of apology for the teensy bit of road rage I got while driving in that traffic jam earlier in the year, right? I sent it with some cookies so hopefully, you received it. If you didn't, check with the elves.  While we're at it, I think you need a main project manager elf because sometimes, I think the elves don't do stuff just because they think you're busy not watching them. I'm not up for the job or anything but, I can certainly make some recommendations. My list is not that long this year.  Check it out:

All I Want for Christmas:

  1. World peace - I heard recently that if we don't include this little request in our letters you tend to just skip right by it so, there it is.  I know it's a biggie so the rest of the list should seem like cake to you
  2. An iPad2 - I also heard that you're all high tech these days.  I am as well! I'd like one of these to keep up with all of the great stuff I do all year to stay on the nice list. It will also allow me to play Angry Birds which I'm hoping will keep my road rage aggression to a minimum (though I won't play while I'm driving)
  3. For you to put the jerk that cut me off the other day on the naughty list stat! I mean I don't know his name but you do find out who is naughty or nice and Santa, let me tell you: he's not nice! He just cut me off clearly when I was trying to cut in front of him fair and square! I mean who does that? He saw me trying to go into that lane, why not just let me in?!
  4. Baby clothes and money to help me get these bags for the kids together. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm mad at you! I've been working hard trying to get people to donate so that babies could have clothing when they are born. Go read the blog, Santa! I mean really! While you're at it, I haven't gotten a lot of feedback or commitments for this. Santa, who doesn't love babies? People who don't help out with this definitely need a bag of coal!
  5. Some writing gigs. While I'm on the topic, Santa, I've been checking out some of the stuff out there for you. I think you might need me to blog for you and keep up with your social media.  Also, are you ready for that tell-all autobiography? Because I'll be more than happy to work with you on that.  I'm thinking that you might need an image overhaul as well. I know you're tired of the same ol' same ol'.  Want to take it to the next level? You need to hire me to be your dream coach (I'll give you a discount depending on what I find under my tree ;-) )
  6. A Kindle Fire.  Do I need to explain this one? I think not!
  7. Pajama Jeans. My friends would probably unfriend me on Facebook if I got a pair of these for myself but, if you bring them to me, who could argue? I mean they would be from SANTA! Have you tried these? I'm curious to see if they are comfortable and if people can really not tell they are pajamas when I roll out of bed and stroll into the Walmart because the Tinkerbell jammies are definitely noticeable right now
  8. The winning Fantasy 5 numbers. You are probably asking why I'd ask for this and all of the stuff on my list. I don't want to put you out of work, you know? But I am just trying to make a little cushion for myself so that I can continue to do what I love which is writing and helping others. Think about it. I don't want the lotto numbers or anything. That's just too much money and hassle. But Fantasy 5 will allow me to get what I need without the drama of everyone wanting me to get them houses and cars and an education. They should play their own numbers or ask you for a winning ticket!
  9. A BRAND! Can we talk business for a second? I need like an official brand behind me. I initially thought someone like Mac or Cover Girl but then realized I don't wear make up (although if I had a make up brand I'm sure someone would teach me to use all that stuff to make me purty and whatnot).  I want someone that will see my awesomeness and know that I am going to change the world and they should totally be part of it. I'm really thinking a wine company because that's right up my alley but, I'll let you choose
  10. Tickets to Blissdom and BBC for next year (and perhaps Type A since I haven't been to NC). If I am to do this seriously, Santa, I need to attend some conferences. Would you consider sponsoring one (or all) of these trips? Have your elves call my frog princess and set something up so we can talk (she just got a Leap Frog phone for her birthday so, she's connected and ready to take your calls)
  11. Six-digit Monthly Page Views. 'Nuff said
  12. To have an awesome Christmas Eve that's drama-free, full of love, the spirit of the season and happy memories of mami. Oh and some coquito!

I thought I'd round out the list at 12 to coincide with the 12 days of Christmas cuz I'm cool like that.  Listen, you know how to reach me.  If you need additional confirmation of why I need to be on the nice list, I have a spreadsheet and a PowerPoint presentation with pie charts (all in red and green, of course). I'm also including a picture of my first Christmas in the States. You remember, don't you?

By the way, I have a fake chimney thing in the house. Are you going to be able to make it in with magic sprinkles or something? Because if you attempt to use the front door, there's a slight chance you'll get tazed.

oxoxox, Me