Me and Taylor are going back to December

I wish we could get double portions of December and just skip January altogether.


After the jovial over-indulgence of December (“Eat! Who ever heard of a skinny Santa??”), here comes that blasted harpy January–with all its cranky resolutions and its Weight Watchers commercials and its relentless reminders of reality.

Every year, January just comes at us like an icy blast of water to the face, and quite frankly, I don’t care for it.

January is a drill sergeant flipping on the lights in the middle of a perfect dream about going sleigh riding through Devonshire with Colin Firth and screaming, “Drop and give me twenty!” (which I haven’t done since last January.)

January is a sneering busybody slapping my hand with the snickerdoodle in it.

January is a big fat boring killjoy taskmaster who’s weirdly obsessed with everybody’s weight. And on top of all those endearing qualities, January is cold. (Usually.)

I am not a fan.


Here’s our dead wreath. Also not a fan. (January is the Wreath Reaper.)

Sure, December struggles with being a bit too frenetic and trying a little too hard, but somehow we can let that stuff go because December’s just so darn charming.

I mean, think of all those twinkly lights and the crackling fires and the cheerful songs. Oh yeah, and the copious amounts of cookies.

IMG_4099IMG_4004IMG_4105It’s like one minute we’re basking in all the treasures under the tree, watching Danny Kaye tap dance across our TV, and trying to remember what it felt like to be hungry.

The next minute, a cold shriveled finger is wagging in our faces, browbeating us on how we’re gonna right this ship and get our crap together and eat a salad already?

I know I should have made some New Year’s Resolutions, but I just wasn’t in the mood for January’s theatrics this year.

(Oh, here’s a resolution. I really should get my watch battery changed so I can stop wearing my daughter’s Minnie Mouse watch. Or not. I honestly don’t care.)


But that’s it.

January, you are not the boss of me. I’m ready to skip right on to February. There may be only 28 days, but at least they’re crammed with hearts and flowers and rows and rows of candy I can buy for myself.

I’m so ready to run headlong into the loving arms–and candy aisles–of February. Because February loves me.

Its conversation hearts told me so.

Actually they said “TXT ME” and “U Go Girl.” But you get the idea. There’s definitely something there.

And seriously, I’ll take “#LOVE” any day over another Jenny Craig commercial.







Mars, Venus, & Valentines

Entire books have been written about men and women being different. I don’t have much spicy and new to add — except maybe this. I now have photographic evidence.

Pictured below is a GIRL writing her Valentines cards, sitting across from a BOY doing his. Tell me what you see.


(You do NOT see piles of laundry in the background. Those are NOT the droids you’re looking for…)

The careful observer first notes the female child and the studiousness with which she embraces her task. (I believe her tongue might have even been sticking out in concentration.) You see that the female child is laboring over each card with loving attention – even taking time to write sweet words of affirmation on each one, like “You are the best dancer in the world!” or “I think you’re the funniest kid in the class.” Awww, you know that’s tender.

Now please note the male child and the total goofy disinterest with which he embraces his task. Note that the male child’s entire head is located under the table where his task can no longer even remain in eye-shot. Please also note the position of his rump aloft in the air, so that squirming can be accomplished but little else.

This, my friends, encapsulates the difference.

This is what homework looks like at our house every night.

And this is why it’s so exhausting being a female trying to parent one of these male creatures.

I have no idea what’s going on in that crazy little boy head of his. Mainly because that head is mostly under the table and all I see is butt.

So here’s a big Happy Valentine’s Day greeting from our house to yours.

I think this goes without saying…but don’t expect a card from Will.

P.S. If you have your own evidence of “la différence,” please share! Consider it your contribution to modern sociological discourse or whatever. 

Champagne Wishes & Motivational Poster Dreams

This was the best New Year’s EVER.

You really have to try this for yourself next year. Here’s what you do:

1) Conspire with friends to pretend it’s midnight at 10:15 p.m.

2) Swig a quick glass of champagne.

3) Go home and get into your best chubby couch-sitting pants.

4) Fall asleep while the ball drops.

Take that, Ryan Seacrest.


Champagne was poured. Glasses were clinked. Count it.

Maybe you whooped it up with the masses and your favorite air horn. Maybe you cozied up by the fire with some lobster tails and that special someone. But as for me and my New Year’s Eve, eh, I’d rather sleep through it.

I mean, really. All those glittery hats? All those Times Square nut jobs? And all the noise?

All the noise, noise, noise, noise!

(Oh. I hear it now.)

Look at me being a New Year’s Grinch, when I long to be Cindy Lou Who.

I honestly wish I was that person who welcomes each new year with bright-eyed wonder, who turned the page on her 2015 calendar of motivational sayings just bursting with hope, daring, and to-do lists.

“Yes!” I would repeat to myself in the mirror. “In the confrontation between the river and the rock, I WILL BE THE RIVER that wins, not by strength but by perseverance!” (You can actually buy that poster at a website actually called Not even kidding.)


Oh, just drink in that Grand Canyon at sunset. Consider yourself MOTIVATED.

But for me, all the New Year’s hype seems to have the reverse effect.

After the confetti falls, there I stand on the same messy carpet in the same messy house with the same messy family that somehow, some way, needs to clean up its act. Instead of invigorating me, New Year’s gets me all angst-ridden and weary and forces me to vacuum. (This is not my idea of fun.)

New Year’s also weirdly compels me to clean out drawers, where just yesterday I found a long list of my 2011 resolutions. Oh man, I was hard-core that year. Everything was detailed and plotted out to the nth degree in an effort to be über-intentional and not my normal wishy-washy back-sliding self.

Back then, I’d wanted to help the kids be more self-reliant, grow a strong work ethic, be mannerly, be more active and creative and not addled by screen-addiction, to grow in their faith. As for me, I wanted to use wrinkle cream now and then and dress better and eat my veggies and grow professionally.

O-kayyyy. Seems I have all the same resolutions these four years later. I mean, to the T.

Guess that could mean one of two things: I am stuck. I am no better than I was four years ago. Nothing will ever change. I am a failure. (Those messages are playing on a really loud loop on my internal mix tape.)

OR it could mean: Most of those things I’m working toward are hard. They are important. And they take time (sometimes years, sometimes a lifetime) to attain. And I’ll probably need help — from above and from down here, too. I may have to ask.

Just because I haven’t won yet doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve lost. It just means there’s more to do.

Can’t you just see the motivational poster now? Something about life being a journey, not a destination? Picture a canoe on a riverbank. And oh yes, picture a sunset.

And then picture me paddling that infernal canoe until my dying days. That’s how long it’ll probably take me to start eating my veggies.

I Can’t Spell Good – and Other Christmas Card Confessions

File this one under: EPIC CHRISTMAS CARD FAIL.

I just took a closer look at our family Christmas card, and (deep sighhhhh), I spelled our own bleepity-bleeping last name wrong.


Shut up. You don’t know how to spell it either. (I have since learned it’s “Filiatreault.”)

I am a writer by trade. I mock bad spellers for sport. I am a cotton headed ninny muggins.

Maybe this is Christmas Card Karma (if I believed in such a thing). Because over the years, trust me, I’ve cared a little toooo much about pursuing the perfect Christmas card — especially the picture part. I deserve my comeuppance.

Every year without fail, I would designate one dreaded perfect fall afternoon as PICTURE DAY. I would scout a quintessential New England spot — preferably a beach or a Currier-and-Ives-ish tree farm. I would cue the sun to bathe us in a golden glow of afternoon light.

And, with lots of Yosemite Sam mutterings, I would commence to hen-pecking and cattle-proding the brood — all to get its collective act together long enough to simultaneously look cute. And color-coordinated. And to smile naturally without that weird straining. And to not look pouty or blink or squint or have chapped lips that take over an entire facial quadrant.

As God is my witness, I would have my perfect Christmas card photo. And I didn’t care who suffered PTSD in the process.

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One year a friend took our pictures at a local mansion, which was quite lovely. But I couldn’t help wondering if I looked like a Real Housewife of Suburban Connecticut. Not near enough silicone, but still…

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This one didn’t make the cut. Check out the randy pair in the back.

Oh, there have been tripods and there have been tears.

Some years I pulled it off. Some years I hired it out (which went way better – see above). And some years I just flubbed it royally.


Here’s the year we were all weirdly blurry.  I was hoping people would think I was being “artsy.” I was not.

And finally, I just decided — to heck with it. I am so done.

I am done forcing the issue. I am done caring so much about something that really doesn’t matter. I am done turning a perfectly lovely fall day into a forced march of grumpy dwarves. I am done being all phony baloney.

Now I just do a collage card of some nice pics from the year (that did not require bloodshed) and call it a day.

I mean, really. Our family has never once lounged in khaki by sand dunes or walked hand-in-hand on train tracks (that is seriously ill-advised). Our family does not smile all the time or like each other all the time or dress presentably even a fraction of the time.

But we do love each other…most of the time. And we do sit together on the couch in our PJs more of the time than any board of pediatrics would recommend.

So here’s a real Merry Christmas photo (or three) from the FILIATREAULTS (see how I did that? I can spell occasionally).


The doll is the best dressed of the lot by a country mile. (And don’t tell, but I cheated and covered our fraying couch arm with a blanket coated in dog hair. Because THAT’s better.) This is how we roll.


Will has been throwing up all day. How’s that for reality?


My feet look enormous enough to smote a small village. They are usually not pictured. Just keepin’ it real.

Merry Christmas from “the real us.” From the heart and from the couch.

(Now it’s your turn. Tell me — or better yet, show me — one of your Christmas card fails so I can feel better about myself.)