How We All Doing?

Did you do okay with Christmas? This dead week is still going on. The week where work is lighter, there is no school, and you still have your lights up. It can be a nice slice of a quieter life.

Or it can be trying.

Last year the slow pace of this week drove my husband and I up the wall. We were still silently freaking out after having found out on the 12th of December that we has been largely wiped out by Bernie Madoff and company (Sidebar, just saw that a local station in North Carolina said evil M had some punches to the face or some signs of an assault. Is it wrong to want to buy the guy who did that a beer? Sidebar, sidebar, my husband said it would be a funny skit, a cop standing over a beaten Madoff asking, “Do you have an enemies?”). All we could do is try to be pro-active with what economic life we had. Talk to realtors, a budget overhaul, look around for things to sell. We wanted to get busy so we could salvage our life and stop the screaming in our heads, but it was “wait till next week!” Also, I knew I was giving birth mid-February, so I really needed to make hay.

It’s also a bad week for a mental health crisis. I have gone through that with a relative and unfortunately it is happening again with another relative. It’s the hardest time to find a bed in a mental hospital because this is the busiest time of year to snap. Christmas time is very hard on some people. But we knew that right? I thought it was interesting when I found out it is not a punch line or anecdote, people really do end up in scary, lonely situations at holiday time, and as my sister who is a licensed therapist said, “The dirty secret is there are not enough places for people with mental illness, and no one cares until they have a family member who has fallen ill.”

Which I think must be everyone. In a few hours of hearing of my family member who is in crisis, the few people who I told all had a sister who healed with electric shock, a cousin who had recently killed themselves, a brother who has to live with his parents since his release, and it went on and on.

And from my previous experience dealing this, and it seems to be following the same course this time, not all facilities are equal. Often the institution wants 1) to keep the patient from harming themselves and 2) wants them to be compliant. Which means they are put in restraints, and it feeds into whatever scary scenario the injured brain had already manifested. There isn’t a course of treatment. And good luck getting a doctor to get on the phone with you. All of us were stiff with tension, minds distracted. I keep saying “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The constant balance of talking to shrinks, while playing happily with your little kids. “Everything is fine! Let’s play catch.” While you wonder if an anti-psychotic would be better than anti-anxiety drug.

A few years ago when we were mired in this, it was about a 4-month journey. At the other end was a breathtaking recovery. But nonetheless on the other side was also a changed life. A much, much better life than had seemed possible in that holiday time, but it was a different one.

No wonder I dread Christmas.

Can’t Read the Paper

One of the differences between our younger selves and our more mature selves is the acceptance that it is the accumulation of small things that can make your life good. Our ennui and youthful boredom somewhat stems from thinking life should be like a Samuel Jackson film, even if that means snakes on a plane, or the excitement at the end of a romantic comedy when the dog has run into the wedding cake, the fat lady is thrown into the pool, and the guy tells the girl he has been in love with her all along. See the last scene of The Graduate for some reality on that one.

Remember how when you were little and your grandma’s friend was so excited about the new tea cup that goes with her collection and you thought, “What is the big deal? It’s a tea cup.” Well, I seriously think it’s better to embrace the tea cup collection. There are some small things that can really make your life good. For me, it’s having a strong cup of coffee in the morning with my husband. I must have half and half, a little sugar, and then I like to read the paper.

If I can.

Merry Christmas

I hope you all are having a decent holiday time. I’ve long had gripes with this time of year. Pressure of spending money, family tensions, the usual. But last year was the worst Christmas of my life. Well, maybe neck and neck with the Christmas where my high school boyfriend broke up with me.

I won’t go over it again, but I’ve been bracing to be mildly depressed this season as well. I can happily report except for one day –2/3 of the day– where I ran over to my mom’s so I could nap and have a pity party, I have avoided the big Christmas blues (knock on wood).

All that happy, happy, joy, joy can feel like such a burden when your heart is breaking. I hope everyone who has their own challenges and struggles can enjoy themselves at least a little this year. Get a charge out of the kids’ joy is my favorite way to do that. I’m so lucky to have my kids. They have natural excitement. And we are excited about about the my husband’s new place opening up, The Tar Pit. Fingers crossed.

Thanks so much to all of you who come to Cool Mom and especially those who wrote kind things to support me and my family in our dark and hopeful times. I’ve gone a on journey with you all. I really appreciate the caring. Without knowing most of you, I feel a connection, and I can only hope that your families are safe and sound and prosperity is under the tree for everyone.

Happy Holidays.

Love, Daphne

E-Cards Are Not Cards: How a Blended Family Can Send a Real Card

Okay, I’m about to gripe. But I’m not alone. I have had it with THE EMAIL HOLIDAY CARD. No, it’s not okay. And if it’s an email it is NOT a card. It’s an email, which we all get way to much of. All year we delete group emails. We rarely get personal mail through the mail box anymore. The holiday season is the one time of year we get some sort of personal mail. Something that a human had to stick a stamp on. Oh, goody, instead I will get less personal mail and more emails that lack any warmth. And don’t tell me they are green. That’s a cop out. They are powered and received on large machines that suck electricity faster than Tiger Woods can ask a cocktail waitress for her number.

I get it. Some years one is more overwhelmed than other times. Than either skip the ritual, or do a pared list like I often do in less well planned years. You know the great aunt who doesn’t even know what Facebook is let alone how to access the pictures you post there, people like that. Or if you are behind, send a New Years card.

I am not a fan of getting electronic greetings to begin with. If I have to sit and wait while some amusing Jacquie Lawson animated pixie talks about a bird landing on a leaf, and it unfolds same sappy greeting I’m going to stick a fork in my head.

Here is what I want in a Christmas Card: A picture and or a little something about your life. Or a short personal message. PERSONAL message. That means written to ONE person. Not everyone on your contact list. That is what Facebook is for. And even with people I keep in nominal touch with, I like seeing the pictures of the kids and the letter talking about the promotion and the terrier they rescued outside of church. I’m a dork that way.

When I got one or two of these email christmas cards a couple of weeks ago, I was like, okay, happy holidays to you too. But, now, it’s gotten to be too much. It must stop. We are already an overly casual culture. As Bill Maher joked, (paraphrase) dressing is so casual now that people aren’t going to be happy until they can walk around in a diaper.

Look, I always get my cards out late.

I have HORRIBLE handwriting.

I get overwhelmed and don’t send them to all my friends and family.

But, dang it, I’m still trying to keep this ritual going.

To that end… I wanted to share with you my personal journey with holiday cards this year and pass on a discount that I also enjoyed.

I think I am not alone in having a hard time finding one photo where all members are accounted for and no one is blinking. I don’t need a professional photo… we don’t all have to walk on the beach. We just need a decent picture. Where I don’t look tired and my back fat doesn’t show.

The single card holiday card is not my favorite. You know the kind that arrive, you notice how little Susie has grown and then it lies flat on the mantle or china hutch because there is nothing else to hold it up. When did the Christmas post card come into vogue? Well, better than an email card (which is not a card). It’s like bringing frozen apps to a party and expecting the hostess to heat them up (this happened to me last year). Don’t make me do the work to find a place to prop up the piece o’ greeting.

So, I stumbled upon a well known web greeting company, Tiny Prints. But they had the perfect blended family card. It holds 5 pictures. And not in a montage, but one where you can put a little story to 4 of the pics. And since a lot has gone on this year I thought this would be perfect.

I had some explaining to do. I had a baby, yet sent out very few announcements. We moved and never sent out a change of address. It’s not the kind you want to “woo-hoo every one, had to sell the dream house and now we are renting. Not sure how long we will live here, but the address is…” Yeah, let’s skip it.

I used the petite alma line at Tiny Prints. The one that has 5 pictures to choose from, plus you can write a little bit underneath about 35 words, so each picture had a caption/story.  

I always have a problem with typos or fitting a picture correctly, but they have a line where a real human who speaks English called me to clarify some of my choices/mistakes. They were cheaper than doing those ones on the Mac (which I tried and aborted).

So, if you are a late deliverer or REAL holiday cards here is a last minute discount for  Coolmom.com readers www.tinyprints.com/holiday and the Promo code is TPHOLIDAY.  10% off orders with an order of $75 or more. Expires 1/1/2010.

I also liked the graphics on paperculture’s card, but they weren’t folded so I couldn’t pull the trigger.

Yes, I wish I had a minion to run and get stamps and calligraphy the addresses so my friends and family don’t think they are getting a note from a prison, but I can hack it.

I’m not sending an email holiday card. It’s such a Teens decade thing to do, and I peaked in the ’90’s.

The Web Files

Still trying to get my mojo back after a whirlwind work trip to NYC. And then someone said, it’s Christmas this week. Say what?? While I get my blogger fingers and my vlogger sass back, here is an interview I did for a web show called The Web Files. It’s longer than a cool mom vid by about 5 minutes. Just a warning, there are a couple of pop ads that flash across my face you might need to click off.

Oh and cover your ears, I’m about to yell “I”M NUMBER 33, I’M NUMBER 33!” Babble ranked the top mom bloggers and this vlogger made the list. My name was misplaced, but that’s okay.  It ‘s the thought that counts.

Sky Mall

I was just in NYC for the final leg of my media for Upromise MasterCard. I was flown business. Now, a few years back I flew all the time for work. I had tons of miles racked up, I was an old pro at traveling. No more. I rarely take a long flight and rarely ever without my family.

So, I really stuck out from the jaded, business men who sat next to me and around me.   was super excited to enjoy my flight. On my way to NYC, it was kind of a disappointment. I had envisioned a personal monitor where I could catch up on all the movies I’ve missed for the last 4 years. But sadly,  Continental business class only had a tiny screen tat hung a few rows ahead and a B movie to boot.  The food was edible. That was it, nothing great.

Happily, coming home, which is the longer leg of the trip, I was flown back on Delta. Now, they know what to do. The seats were really big. I had a TV screen and on flight 709 I had the nicest flight attendants I could remember. They rushed over to me and asked if I wanted a drink. I was like, “me?” I started to say I was fine with water when I saw all the boozy businessmen around me slurping up the free drinks I changed my mind.

“I want a gin and tonic. Right, I can have one?” They laughed, yes, I could. They came around to take our orders for dinner and when I said, “steak and mac and cheese.” The flight attendant said, “You are one of the few people who ordered.”

I turned to the accountant next to me. “What are you thinking?” I wanted to yell, “Quit showing off that you LEAVE your house!”

Man in gray flannel suit, “I will eat dinner when I get home.”

ME: “That will be in like, 8 hours!”

I stashed the pulp novel I had bought at the airport and hunkered down to watch movie after movie. First one was 500 days of Summer. Enjoyed it. Think that kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun did well. Then I watched an episode of Big Love. Completely missed the last season when we tried to save money and canceled HBO (since been reinstated) and 4 Christmases with Vince Vaughn. I was sure it would be dumb, oh,not, this easy audience member. I laughed and laughed, and I sopped up every bite of the kid-you-not-delicious steak and very good mac and cheese. When the fresh cookies came out I would have had to unbutton my pants, but thinking ahead, I wore my maternity pants!

I was so excited I elicited a few chuckles from the working staff. “Is it okay if I have another drink?”

Here is one thing I thought of while traveling.

Look of the Zeros: The Video

Oh boy, I would be embarrassed if it wasn’t so pathetically comical. A clear chapter in the ongoing saga of my life, I’m so flipping tired. I’m so flipping tired that when I recorded this video a couple of days ago it flew out of my head so I posted yesterday’s blog ON THE EXACT SAME SUBJECT. It’s like when I did stand up and every stage you perform you do the same act, or it’s like I have early dementia. Might.

Okay, sorry for being repetitive, it’s just the fatigue. But I am still trying to sum up the decade.

Look of the Zeros

We are not only closing a year but a DECADE. And what a decade it was. Personally, it’s when I hung up my single skates and totally embraced a new life. Children, step-children, wife, blogger.

In terms of our country in ’01 we experienced the worst terrorist attack in US history, which took over 3,000 lives. And our response to this was entering two wars, spending hundreds of billions of dollars while vital services and schools go begging, and the loss of about 4,500 (went to a few websites to get numbers, but not sure how current) US soldiers’ lives. Wow, we sure showed them.

The latter can make me so depressed and/or enraged that I’d like to survey a different, less critical part of our past decade: fashion. On my show “The Fashion Team” we will be talking about hits and misses, so I had to do a little red carpet review ( how airs Sunday 20th at 7pm on TV Guide).

I wanted to ask you: What were the looks of the zeros? Not red carpet looks, but “normal folk” looks. I know it’s a little early to have perspective, but let’s make a stab at it. The ’80s: big hair, shoulder pads, unconstructed blazers. The ’90s: Melrose Place style, short skirts, vest, not heavy on adornment, Jennifer Aniston hair. Zeros: Uggs, return of leggings, bubble skirts, layered t-shirts. That was new one for ’00s. The long sleeve shirt showing untucked beneath another shirt and the mainstreaming of the flip-flop. That became more acceptable to wear in fair weather. The water bottle as not only an accessory but a borderline life support for some. Imagine we use to just wing it with water!

So, brainstorm, what looks jump out for you as being characteristic of the zeros?