Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Jammies, Christmas Tantrums, Christmas Carrots

We don't do Christmas jammies.

In fact, my children tend to choose their most hideous bedclothes to wear to bed on Christmas Eve so that when we open gifts in the morning they look downright terrifying (the hideous bedclothes, of course, being accompanied by some wicked bedhead).

Similar to the idea of coordinating Halloween costumes, the idea of coordinating pyjamas—for the entire family—seems entirely outside my sphere of control. Sometimes, from the look of social media (and this is when social media turns into a bad thing, I guess, because I shouldn't be comparing traditions but literally every post in my entire feed is about Christmas pyjamas). I feel like we're maybe missing out on something. But how am I supposed to (a) convince the entire family to wear the same style of pyjama or (b) surprise everyone with cute pyjamas to wear that they'll each be thrilled to pieces about wearing?

How do families pull this trick off?

Guaranteed if I tried it the results would be disastrous. Someone would cry or refuse to wear their pyjamas—probably both. Also, someone would manage to stain their pyjamas before I would manage to take the coveted Christmas Pyjama Picture.

I'm fine with that usually. I mean, they're pyjamas, which don't really matter at all until it's pyjama day at school and you realize all your tween ever wears to bed are Grandma's old t-shirts. Those aren't so cute to wear to school...sorry about that, Rachel.

Ahem. Anyway...

Even if I were a jammy-coordinating mother, I wouldn't have had the patience to pose for a matching jammy picture this evening. I would have been the one glowering in the frame, my right eye twitching from tiredness/frustration. Not that anyone else in the picture would have been cooperating either. Ha. It would have been a joke of a picture.

This will be a Christmas Eve for the books, I'm sure. One that the children will talk about for years.

The year Mom snapped and boxed up Benjamin's presents and took away his stocking...remember that?!

You're welcome, kiddos!

Long story long...

2018 was quite the year and we're ending it on a good note—super sickly!

Andrew's been sleeping on the couch downstairs to keep from coughing a lung out. Alexander and I have been sharing the bed, taking turns running a fever. Last night I got up with the baby once after 2 AM (when we finally finished wrapping the presents (me: because I'm "good" at it) and folding laundry (Andrew: because I'm "good" at neglecting that task)) and put him back in his own bed. But the next time he got up, I just stumbled back to my bed with him and fed him there because I honestly didn't think I could get him back to sleep before falling asleep myself.

And then the next time he got up I just fed him for a few minutes before he drifted back to sleep again. I was just getting comfortable and felt myself drifting back to sleep when...


Zoë, who I had no idea was in bed with me, rolled over and let her arm flop to the side, some how managing to punch me right in the eye!

On the one hand, she deserves some credit for joining me in bed so stealthily. All I know is that she came in sometime between the second and third Alexander wakings, but I honestly don't know how I didn't know she was there!

In my defense, Alexander likes to pivot so he's kicking me while he sleeps (a super annoying habit) and he breathes really loudly so, I mean, how would I even notice if it were multiple children breathing/kicking or just the one? If the bed's not crowded because I'm the only grown up in it apparently I have no way of knowing until one punches me in the face (which Alexander couldn't have done because he still (yes, still) gets swaddled at night—that's how I knew).

On the other hand, that little punch she landed both (a) scared the snot out of me, and (b) hurt like the dickens!

And that wasn't even the last time either of those two woke me up.

So it wasn't the best night. I woke up feeling, as Grandpa Torrie was fond of saying, unsure of whether I was just getting up or just going to bed. But Grandpa (our Grandpa, not Grandpa Torrie) had gone on a donut run and the children had miraculously not woken me up because there were donuts for breakfast, so I went downstairs and had a donut and then took a few deep breaths, gave myself a patience pep talk, and went downstairs to finish painting ornaments with the children—for happy Christmas memories and all that stuff.

We'd started a few days before, but between feeling sick and other chaos we didn't ever finish. I left out the supplies, which was probably a mistake on my part, but also did the responsible thing and threatened the children that they'd really regret it if they got into anything they shouldn't.

Evidently I didn't threaten them quite enough.

I first noticed that my older girls had done some painting on their own...which they kind of had permission to do, but they had left the bottles of paint open and hadn't rinsed their brushes. I took a few deep breaths and when they saw how annoyed I was they rushed to fix things. Rachel rinsed the brushes until every bit of (now dry) paint was off of them and Miriam tidied up their station.

I took a few deep breaths and went back to the table.

That's when I


On the wall. On the bench. Everywhere.

"BENJAMIN!" I roared (because—little buddy!!—it's always you (you have got to tone down your life)). "WHAT HAPPENED HERE?!"

"I don't know!" he shrugged.

"What do you mean you don't know?" I asked.

"I didn't mean to."

"How did you go from 'I don't know' to 'I didn't mean to'?"

I'm not a very experienced painter, but we'd broken out some ceramic figurines and some of Grandma's old paints because Grandma used to paint a lot and we found an entire basket of cute snowmen decorations that were calling to be painted. I was super worried because the bottles all said PERMANENT, but I didn't have to be too worried because they were just acrylic paints, which are water-based and water-soluble and because he'd just squirted it last night it hadn't quite "cured" (or whatever paints do) though it had already dried. With ample scrubbing he was able to get it off the wall and the bench and everywhere else he got it (on the roller coaster as well, apparently, though I didn't notice that (Miriam did)).

Before we figured that out, however, I went talk to him in his room and he told me all sorts of stuff before he finally got to a plausible story. And then I had to bring up one more thing.

"So, I'm missing twenty dollars," I said to Benjamin.

"Weird," he said.

"Yeah," I agreed. "It was out on the 'landing pad' last night with some other money. The other money is there. But the twenty dollar bill is gone."

"Huh," he said.

"You don't know what could have happened to it?"


"Okay, well, here's the thing: when I was looking for it last night I thought to myself, 'I really hope none of my children would just take money that doesn't belong to them, but if they did it would probably be just to play with it.' Like, I don't think one of my children would take money from someone to make them sad or just to be mean. I think they would take it because they wanted to play with it."


"Yeah, so I came into your room and what do you think I found?"


"A treasure box."

"A treasure box?"

"The one that goes with your pirate ship."

"Oh! My treasure box?"

"Yeah. It was on the middle of your floor."

"Weird. Zoë must have left it there."

"Maybe, but I don't think so because she's not very good at folding things and I found something inside the treasure chest."

" looked inside the treasure chest?"

"I did, yeah."

"Did you...find anything?"

"I did, yeah."


"No, Benjamin!" I said, losing my temper at him again. "Why don't you tell me what I found?"

"Mom, whatever you found, it wasn't me! I have no idea how that money got in my treasure chest!"

And then we got into a fight about lying—when I'd given him every single way out in the book—and how I was so, so very done with such things (squirt green paint on the wall by all means but don't lie about it because I already know it was you!) and I stormed downstairs and rifled under the tree until I'd collected every single present with his name on him—both from us and from our secret Santa (and from his school teacher and from my mom and dad and from everybody)—and I dumped them in a box and then, very grinchily, snatched his stocking down on my way up the stairs.

He spent the day scrubbing the wall, weeding the garden, and cleaning the bathrooms to earn back his presents one by one. And then he wrote an apology letter to Santa and two apology letters to me.

But, like—guys—it was a day for the books.

I suppose I enjoyed listening to him misuse the word "expect" while I was supervising the scrubbing of the wall.

"I'm so close to earning back my presents!" he said energetically. "I'm going to get them all back!"

"Well, you haven't even earned one back yet, so I wouldn't count your chickens," I responded flatly.

"You got me chickens?!" he said, almost dropping his rag with elation.

"No," I said. "Just...scrub."

"How do you expect this wall?" he asked.

"Perfectly clean," I said.

"Well, then," he said. "Expect it."

"I do," I said.

Later, though, he asked me how my "expection" had gone and I realized that he'd been conflating "inspect" and "expect" the whole morning. He did eventually pass my "expection," exceeding all my "inspectations."

We also had a fun time working in the garden together. We finally pulled the rest of Miriam's carrots, which we'll have for dinner tomorrow night. I have been meaning to write about her carrots for a long time because she planted rainbow carrots and we've had such a fun harvest! The kids left seven little orange carrots and one little purple one (for Rudolph and the other reindeer) when they put out some milk and cookies for Santa.

Maybe fresh Christmas carrots is a tradition we can pull off a few more times!

I may not be able to coordinate Christmas pyjamas, but—by golly!—I can neglect to clear the garden until late December!


  1. New PJs for Christmas was a family tradition for us, but they never matched! Sometimes they might be similar, but never the same. I wanted to do that with my kids, but it just never worked out that way. I did get footie PJs for K, A and D in 1983. Pink, dark blue and light blue. So still not all matchy-matchy. What a day you had! But it is fun to read about it, even if it wasn't fun to live through it!

  2. We do new Christmas jammies. Stores make it easy and so do my kids. They still just wese the stuff I buy. I don't know why because they are major pains on other things, but this one small favor they will do. Hope your Christmas is much nicer then your Christmas eve!