There’s a toothbrush in our rowing machine.

Happy 2020.

Tish Warren (of the Anglican church) wrote this amazing op-ed in the Times about how we should embrace advent and “face the darkness”:

“To practice Advent is to lean into an almost cosmic ache: our deep, wordless desire for things to be made right and the incompleteness we find in the meantime. We dwell in a world still racked with conflict, violence, suffering, darkness. Advent holds space for our grief, and it reminds us that all of us, in one way or another, are not only wounded by the evil in the world but are also wielders of it, contributing our own moments of unkindness or impatience or selfishness.”

The “darkness” of Advent leads to the “light” and joy of Christmas. And Christmas means hot cocoa, watching The Mistletones on Disney +, anticipation, and watching little ones in onesies tear through gifts hoping for a Frozen Barbie or a green toy car.

This year, Seb hoped for a phone. To which I replied:

Seb got an art set from Costco. Socks. And a taxidermy alligator head.

He also received permission to throw a post-New Year’s party since we didn’t host our annual Christmas Open House.

Sebaleb invited his entire class, including his teacher, who e-mailed to say she’s sorry to miss the fete. Because I’m sure Mrs. B would love nothing more than to spend the weekend with all the 9 year old weirdos she handles all week.

Seb also started the Peiffer Museum of Natural History. Apparently Eric & I endowed this with his $5 earnings for helping me with laundry folding. We beat the Sacklers to it.

The museum consists of a taxidermy alligator head, a bone, and a shark tooth he picked up with Uncle Wally while out in Arizona.

January has begun. Feeling tired? Recovering from the holidays?

If so, just know that John Legend’s wife, Chrissy Tiegen, revealed she has a nanny for each of her two children, two nannies during the day and two nannies for at night. Good for her. That should be comforting to us moms everywhere – we are essentially doing the job of 4 people, night and day shifts. No wonder we get tired!

Mr. Eric Boaz got his first haircut. While L’il Eric sat in a plastic police car soberly and maturely getting his locks cut, Eric & I frantically tried to beat the 5 year old who’d set the previous record on the Cuts n’ Curls basketball scoreboard. We missed it by 1 point. But we shall return.

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MJ got Disney +.

I say MJ  but actually I mean me. High School Musical: The Musical is clever, sardonic, and has some good tunes. Although I have a problem with my 3 year old child singing to “Born to be Brave” that she’s a “queen Messiah” in a purple Toy Story Pull up.

I think not.

I did laundry yesterday. Unfortunately my sweater is a “delicate genius” which must be washed separately.  And don’t be alarmed by my next statement but we had to go to the ER for a massive splinter Sebby got lodged under his toe nail.

At the ER, as my son hobbled through security, the security guy dutifully took my scissors from my purse and spent a solid ten minutes packaging up the scissors as I signed a form saying he could abscond with my precious scissors…all while I wondered if maybe Seb’s throbbing toe might not make it.

Now I need these scissors. I carry them in my purse at all times. Because Hipsters (the thrift shop in Chagrin) tags all their clothes and I don’t think it’s necessary for Seb to know that his Nautica blue shirt cost $5.99.

So I take off the price tags with my scissors in my car, wash the shirt, and hang it in his closet. What my boy doesn’t know can’t hurt him.

My efforts at hiding the origin of his clothes were recently foiled however when the lining inside his navy blue blazer read “Jordan Falk.” Jordan, I don’t know who you are. But thank you for the gift of your $9.99 blazer. Sebby thanks you as well.

And since Sebaleb just stuck his hand in the Fresh balsam candle wax for no apparent reason and subsequently wiped his hand on your blazer Jordan, it was exactly the price I wanted to pay for a blazer that would be worn precisely 4 times before getting ruined by Fresh balsam candle wax.

The kids are enjoying a box; it’s a big brown cardboard box our freezer arrived in last month. Thus far it’s been an ice cream truck. A McDonalds. And a Menchies.

When they tired of the box one Sunday afternoon we drove to Chesterland to see some Christmas lights. You know, one of those beautiful things you do as a family to celebrate Immanuel and cozy Christmas-ness.

Seb & MJ pierced the cozy atmosphere within minutes while bickering non-stop in the back seat. So I did what any wise and wonderful mother would do – I bought them fudge and stuffed their mouths with it so they couldn’t speak.

It worked.

In order to partake in these Christmas activities you do have to get them winter-dressed though:

MJ learned about making a “good choice” and a “bad choice” at preschool recently. We agreed that stuffing a toothbrush in the rowing machine would constitute a “bad choice.”

She had to explain her “bad choice” to Eric, who couldn’t quite fathom how the toothbrush found its way into his exercise equipment to begin with.

I say Eric, but I really should say Brad Pitt. Because a friend saw the Ad Astra poster and commented how much it looks like my guy. I concur. So to be clear, I’m essentially married to Brad Pitt. I just thought you should know.

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Seb finished memorizing Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

In other exciting small town news, we took a trip to Party City to procure a balloon for a birthday party. They really know customer service there and by “know” I mean “know how to frustrate the heck out of you” as you stand in line for 25 minutes behind a  gentleman wearing a t-shirt that reads: “Greatest Farter ever.”

It’s a new year which means Chloe’s mock trial stuff will get going. So that one day my girl can join Harvey Levin in saying:

Pheebs returns to Miami end of January and I got a letter awhile back announcing we could purchase a paid subscription to send her care packages. Because nothing tells your child “I love you” like outsourcing her Valentines Day care package.

It’s 2020. A few resolutions:

Give up resentment. C.S. Lewis said we have to give up hate like we’d give up tobacco or alcohol – ergo, giving up hate is really hard.

Be good. Alexis de Toqueville once said that “America is great because she’s good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Are we still good? I have to ask that of my country but more importantly ask that of myself. Because we can’t understand hate if we only view it on a macro scale. Hate doesn’t start in the Middle East, it starts at your HOA. Your office. Your home. At MJ’s preschool there’s a stone outside the door that says, “Write your hurts in the sand and your blessings in the stone.” I really want to do that. And I really want to be a better forgiver. To, as Tim Keller writes, “absorb” the cost of a wrong in the new year.

Other practical goals? Hit a Barre class (which is conveniently located next to Burger Fresh). Start practicing my violin again. Try some new recipes. Get on my Peloton bike.

As we head towards a new year, there are tennis parent meetings, orientations, wellness checks, dental appointments, Amazon boxes, and my favorite: cancelled plans.

I’m with this girl:

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There’s also some reflection. I was reading about some people in youth ministry who talked about “making God cool again.” I’m not interested in my children believing in God because he’s “cool”. I want them to believe in Him because He’s true.

 If I pass nothing else along to my children, I hope they remember this: God is good. All the time. God is true. And true to His Word.

Let that sink in as we close 2019 and start a new year.

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