Dear Santa,

By now, you have already received the “wish lists” from my children (aka – the contents of the entire Toys R Us/Target/WalMart/Best Buy holiday circulars). How about this? I’ll help you out with those pricey requests, but you have to help me out with my personal wishes.

I have been a good mom all year. OK, I’ll admit, on occasion I *may* have wanted to throw my children out the window (metaphorically speaking, of course!) and *possibly* pretended I didn’t know them while we were in public (to be fair, they were acting like jack-asses!), but on the whole, I have made sure they were happy and healthy. I did their God awful homework with them, kept them fed and relatively clean (10-year-old boys are pretty gross!). And I always have – every single day – loved them with all my heart (sigh)!

That said, I am asking for the following Christmas gifts this year:

  • One morning, JUST ONE, when the kids don’t ask me: “Where is/are my clothes, shoes, schoolbag, homework, jacket, etc.?”
  • One afternoon, JUST ONE, when the kids decide to do their homework without being told (bonus: without asking me for help or giving me a “just five more minutes” whine).
  • One evening, JUST ONE, when everyone is happy about the dinner menu (and NOT when it is pizza).  Bonus: they put their dishes in the dishwasher.  You know what, I’m not going to push my luck – JUST PUT THEM IN THE SINK!
  • One day, JUST ONE, when I wasn’t at least a little bit tired.  If you can’t deliver on that, maybe you can work a nap in to my day.  Pretty please.  With sugar on top.
  • One car ride, JUST ONE, without the kids asking: “Are we there yet?”  Oh, and it would be super awesome if they didn’t drop their fast food french fries or Xtra Cheddar Goldfish on the floor of the car.
  • A couple of “me minutes” each day – you know, enough time to brush my teeth and wash my hair without the constant sound of “mommy, mama, mom, ma, mommy, mamma, mom, ma” distracting me from everyday hygiene.

In return, I promise you the following:

  • Continue, each year, to support your image at our local mall by purchasing $0.79 worth of photos for $25 (no thanks, we don’t need the keychain – much less two of them…I can’t find my keys half the time anyway).
  • Hold you to one of the highest powers to ensure somewhat decent etiquette of my children (admit it, you love the power trip…though I will admit, the freakin creepy little Shelf Elf is a close second in terms of threatening the kids to have good behavior!).
  • To leave you cookies and milk (and maybe some Bailys!) every Christmas Eve and to make sure the fire is out in the fireplace…you’re welcome.

By the way, Santa, if you are feeling extra generous, feel free to leave *yours truly* gift certificates for an eye lift, hair coloring and a new wardrobe. Some wine and chocolates would be a nice treat too. By the way, does Mrs. Claus offer any free babysitting?

Thanks, in advance, jolly guy.

Hugs & cheers from … one grateful mom!


My first-born son, Joey, recently celebrated his 10th birthday.  I have been the mother of a young-man-in-the-making for ten years….one full decade…3,653 days.  In eight short years, he will be leaving the nest, flying the coop, heading off to college.

Here is how I see this going…

The time: August 2023, drop-off day at college

The setting: My 18-year-old son sits quietly on his neatly made bed in his perfectly clean dormitory room accented by family photos, including an 8×10 of his first love….his mom.  He is taking a break from studying (even before classes have started) to read a letter I slipped on his nightstand after a mutually tearful good-bye.

My dear son,

As you are ready – dare I say eager – to say goodbye and start the next chapter of your life as a college freshman, please know how much I love you and how proud I am of you – especially for receiving a full, four-year scholarship to one of the finest universities in America [This is my letter and I just dropped my son off at college – let me have this!].  I think back on all of the years mothering you, preparing you – and myself – for this moment.  Guess what?  I’m not prepared.  But I have prepared these thoughts for you.  Please never forget them, and never forget how much you are loved, how much you will be missed while you are away at school, and how important it is to change the sheets on your bed.  Seriously, change your sheets.

Looking back, I remember the greatest moments, the most fun times, the snapshots of your childhood.  And of course, I am reminded of just how much you love amusement parks – the whole experience from the rides to the games to the junk food we would share.  These are such wonderful memories that I will forever cherish.

That said, I will try and convey these bits of advice in a way you might appreciate.  Let’s go on a little ride I call “Mother’s Wisdom:”

  • Life will always have ups and downs; twists and turns – it’s a roller coaster of sorts.  Always buckle your seat belt.
  • Sometimes it will seem like life is dizzying and you are spinning around and around – like you are on the Tea Cups.  Always know where the closest bathroom is in case you get sick.  (And, always wash your hands after using the restroom.)
  • You will often have to wait to get where you want to be – remember standing in line for more than two hours for a two-minute ride at that park with all the mouse ears?  Good things come to those who wait.  Patience is a virtue.
  • Funnel cakes, cotton candy and snow cones are delicious – but there is such thing as too much of a good thing.  Don’t overindulge – in anything.
  • You may want to win a girl a $2 stuffed animal that will cost you $20 – in other words, you will want to impress her with a gift.  If she is worth it, do it.  If not, save your cash and buy your mom something special.
  • While you are too old for the face-painting booth, if you are suddenly interested in getting a tattoo, you need to remember it will not wash off – no matter how hard you scrub.  Don’t do it.  (But, if you must, can I recommend the word “mom” with a nice heart?)
  • Do not focus solely on physical appearances.  Think of it like the House of Mirrors – what may look a little odd on the outside does not represent the person within.  See people for who they really are – not just what they look like.
  • Sure, you can kick butt in the water gun game, but sometimes it’s better to save some glory for the underdog or the child sitting next to you.  Think about your little brother.
  • This is a big one – perhaps the most important of this list: Treat women as you would want your sister to be treated.
  • The flashiest Roller Coasters are not necessarily the best use of your time.  Remember to enjoy the simpler things in life.
  • The Bumper Cars are a ride – only a ride.  Always drive responsibly.
  • Never underestimate the simplicity of the Merry-Go-Round.  There is always something different to see each time you travel – even on the same path.  Keep your eyes open for the things you never realized were right in front of you.
  • Even when you feel like you are on top of the world – like when you ride a Ferris wheel – you will, eventually, be brought down to reality.  Enjoy your successes, but remember life has its share of ups and downs.
  • Do not waste your time playing games that are designed not to be won.  Reach for the stars, but don’t set unrealistic goals.  Know your limits.
  • Don’t live on the edge.  Tightropes and trapezes are for trained performers.  Don’t gamble with your safety.  Ever.  EVER. E-V-E-R!
  • Do not hang out with a bunch of clowns.  Pick your friends wisely.  They can be fun to be around but make sure there is more to the company you keep than the ability to make balloon animals.
  • You must be “this many inches tall” to ride.  OK, you tower over me now.  You are tall, dark and handsome – I get that.  But you are still not old enough to drink alcohol. 

 Much like an amusement park, life can be exciting, thrilling, awesome, amazing and astounding.  But it can also be scary, nerve-wracking, overwhelming and terrifying.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, but always remember: 1) use good judgment and 2) if you need me, I will always be here to hold your hand – oh, and share your funnel cake.

I love you.  Now, go study.  Or, call me.  Yes…call me – I miss you already.

xoxo, Mom

(I miss him already)


I’ve tried to sock away some money to help with upcoming holiday shopping. I tried. I really tried. But I failed. I really failed. Something always seems to come up and I need to dip into our Christmas fund to pay for something I didn’t have available cash for: a school trip (mom, the money is due tomorrow), Girl Scout cookies from the girl down the street (Thin Mints, please. Make it two, ok three, boxes!), a birthday gift for the kid in the class (wait, the party is tomorrow?) or the occasional bottle of wine (Pino, please!).

If you are like me, the holiday fund is never enough to buy gifts for your family and friends, let alone for your children’s teachers (and any other important people in your life who you want to show appreciate to with a holiday goodie). And, at Christmas time – perhaps even more so than any other time of year – many people feel the importance of giving to those who need a little extra help.


I have teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers to offer you a cool holiday giveaway – and the best part is — not only do you score shopping cash for yourself (HOLLA!), but you get to give a donation to a charity of your choice as well (it’s kind of like a 50/50 raffle, but you don’t have to pay to enter. Read on!).

Right now, the amount is set at $125 for one winner, with a matching $125 for the winner to give to a charity (Big Brothers Big Sisters, the SPCA, Tabitha, Red Cross, or World Wild Life) but this amount may – and hopefully will – increase! (Fellow bloggers, e-mail budgetingfunstuff *at* if you are interesting in participating. Contributions are still being taken through 11/20/14.)

FOR YOU, THE ONE WHO WANTS TO WIN, this means that you should enter now through the Rafflecopter below! AND make sure to come back after November 20th to see if there are even more ways to enter to score the prize. The giveaway runs now through Nov. 27, 2014 at 11:59 pm EST.

A single grand-prize winner will be chosen randomly and WILL TAKE HOME $125 (again, this may increase. Score!)

That grand-prize winner will also get to choose one of the following charities to receive the rest of the pot of $125 (may increase) – Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Red Cross, World Wild Life, the SPCA or Tabitha.

Come play along and increase your entries to win some cold hard cash for yourself and also give to others – it’s a win-win! Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway