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Karaoke + fake snow + elf hats = holiday awkwardness.

Karaoke + fake snow + elf hats = holiday awkwardness.

 

It’s that time of year again. The season of pine-scented family rooms, rum-spiked eggnog, stressed out store clerks, and awkward social gatherings. Awkward holiday gatherings come in many varieties, but I will focus my survival tips here on what is perhaps the biggest offender — the holiday office party.

Work parties can be uncomfortable because your co-workers may not be people you would normally choose to hang out with during your off hours. You’ve got Bill Lumbergh, the coffee-breath boss who makes you work unpaid overtime and drones on about — well you can’t remember because you weren’t listening. Then there’s Milton, your co-worker who clearly has Aspberger’s syndrome and keeps accusing you of stealing his stapler. Also you have Dwight Schrute who farms beets on the weekends and values his mediocre job above all else. Clearly you’re the only normal person at work.

However, as awkward as it may be to go to your own office party, it’s even more awkward to go with your significant other. You don’t even know their co-workers after all. So what to do? Do you end up spending the entire evening playing Solitaire on your smartphone?

I’ve been to my share of my hubby’s holiday work parties. My first was also the most, um, memorable. It was a dinner party at a local restaurant, complete with White Elephant Gift Exchange. The firm was generously paying for everyone’s food and drink. We hadn’t been there long, perhaps an hour at most, when our waiter informed my husband’s boss that they would no longer be serving alcohol.  Many of my husband’s co-workers were visibly intoxicated, and the restaurant staff didn’t want to be held liable for any drunk driving incidents. The boss got into an argument with the restaurant manager, who finally agreed to continue serving alcohol. Then came the White Elephant Exchange, which included a few bottles of liquor, which people started chugging. Time for my husband and I to make a graceful exit.

My advice would be this: Yes, you should go to your office party and/or your spouse’s office party. Try to be friendly and stay for at least an hour. After that, you’re free to leave. If you, like me, have a young child, you have the perfect excuse for leaving any social gathering early. If you don’t, try out one of these excuses:

* “I have a Festivus gathering to attend.”

* “I need to meet my World of Warcraft friends online.”

* “Well, looks like I just got a booty call.”

* “My hemorrhoids are acting up.”

Any other favorite excuses for leaving an awkward party?

My daughter has been doing some cute things lately — so I am writing them down before nap time ends and I forget.

Cute thing #1: Yoga, or more specifically downward dog, as can be seen in this slightly out of focus iPhone photo.

Upside down baby.

Upside down baby.

Maybe she does this because I took her to mom and baby yoga with me from age 5 to 8 months. Or maybe she just likes looking at the world upside down. Who knows? She also says “Om” and “Amen.” I’ve learned from yoga that sometimes it just feels good to say “Om” when you’re having a hard day. Hard days are common when you’re parenting a young child and you don’t have a dishwasher or a washer/dryer. So I say “Om” a lot.

Cute thing #2: Yesterday morning when she woke up she kept softly touching my face and saying “Gentle, gentle.” This is what I tell her when she touches other babies. Then she smacked me. I think she was making a joke. Toddler humor.

Cute thing #3: Last night my husband was cuddling with his arm around her. He thought she was asleep and he took his arm away. She said, “No!” and then she grabbed his arm. She loves her cuddle times.

Cute thing #4: Kissing babies. She is obsessed with babies — whenever we see one she yells, “baby!” Often she will go up to them and kiss them. She also likes to kiss her own reflection in the mirror. Narcissist.

Cute thing #5: Singing. She will sing “brella, brella” (umbrella) over and over. This is her reinterpretation of the song “Under my umbrella,” which we sing in baby sign class and library story time. She also now sings “Hello, happy” which is her rendition of another song from baby sign class. Additionally, she enjoys playing the piano, so perhaps I have a future musician.

Dessert, such as a Hawaiian shaved ice, is just one reason your child may have a tantrum.

Dessert, such as this Hawaiian Shave Ice, is just one reason your child may have a tantrum.

 

On a warm July evening at a SE Portland foodcart pod, a 4-year-old is throwing a tantrum. Tired Mom holds a red and green Hawaiian Shave Ice in one hand, and an ice cream cone in the other. “I don’t want green,” screams the 4-year-old.

Tired Mom sighs. “What happened?” asks Dad.

“Some woman said he was spoiled,” says Tired Mom.

“What the f–k!?” says Angry Dad.

“I told her, ‘he might be a little spoiled, but he’s also tired. He didn’t get his nap.”

“I don’t want green!” screams Spoiled Child.

“Let’s just go home,” says Tired Mom. “He’s having a meltdown. I just spent $4 on an ice cream cone he didn’t want, then $3 on a shaved ice he doesn’t want.”

Dad stands up.

“Are you going to find that woman who called him spoiled?!” says Mom.

“I don’t want green!” the mantra continues.

“I’m going to get him another shaved ice. He doesn’t want a green one,” says Dad.

Family exits stage left. End scene.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thegirlsny/3536983155/”>TheGirlsNY</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

 

Dear Baby Bear,

We seem to have a problem. You want to wake up every 2-3 hours at night, and I don’t. I miss the days when I used to get a blissful, uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep and wake up ready to seize the day. Now I spend my days as a half- awake zombie.

I realize that you’re a baby and you don’t really understand what’s going on. The world is new and exciting, and sleeping through the night is a concept you’ve yet to appreciate. Also, I know you don’t like sleeping in your crib, but it can be awkward when you sleep against me, causing my right arm to fall asleep and my left arm to fall off the bed.

Could you try sleeping for longer stretches at night? Maybe even in your own bed? And if you do wake up –– no need to cry. Just go back to sleep and in the morning, I promise we can hang out. What do you think Baby Bear? I guarantee that you and I will both feel better.

Love always,

Mommy

I want to make new friends, but I’m too tired. Plus I forget how.

Probably the first step is to leave the apartment. Which I actually have been doing quite a bit lately. Mondays Baby Bear and I go to sign language class, Tuesdays to the library and on Wednesdays it’s yoga. We try to keep a busy schedule. Hence, I have not been updating my blog.

Going to these activities is great. They provide fun ways for Baby Bear and I to interact, and allow us both to see a little bit of the world. I’m feeling much happier than I did when we sat at home all the time.  However, I kind of wish I could make friends with some of the other moms in these classes.

But how to make friends? If I’m being honest with myself, I’ve never been great at making friends even in the best of situations. Maybe it has to do with being an only child. Or being really nerdy. Whatever. Either way, I’m just an extrovert wannabe.

This is not to say that I don’t have friends. I do. I have some wonderful friends. But it has taken years to make them.

I’ve read How to Win Friends and Influence People. It helped. I now have a general sense of how to converse at a dinner party. If you haven’t read it, the basic gist is: 1) smile 2) ask people lots of questions 3) remember their names 4) give compliments 5) never tell someone that they are wrong – even if they are.

Number 5 is kind of hard. Working on that one. All of them can be hard when you haven’t really slept much for 6 months, actually.

I have made one new friend lately. We’ve been spending a lot of time together. Some might say we’re even best friends. She’s not potty-trained yet, but she does have an amazing sense of humor. Her laugh can light up the whole room.

Me with friends — yes, I have them!