the Post-Christmas Post

Santa Bug

It has been way too long since I blogged. I hate it when I do this because now I’ve got four or five other posts all jammed up in my head and I can’t write about them until I write about Christmas! Normally, I would just skip writing the old post (You don’t have to know EVERYTHING in my life. There’s that 90 percent of my life that is supposed to be private, right? Ha ha.) but it’s the Christmas post! Bug’s first real Christmas that she understood and used her claws of greed rip open presents like a rabid Tyrannosaurus ex. I can’t skip that.

a blur of unwrapping

So yes, there was some rabid ripping of paper going on. She definitely understands the concept of presents. I think she got that last year too but this year was definitely more urgent. The poor kid had to walk by all her presents for weeks and weeks because I stupidly put everything under the tree right away. You know me, I didn’t know where else to put them! I guess I’m going to have to clean out the linen closet and stash them in there next year.

Even though I’ve been celebrating Christmas for ten years now (I didn’t grow up celebrating it) I still feel clueless about things. Do we tell her about Santa Claus? Or do I tell her he’s just a silly guy at the mall? Do we open presents on Christmas Eve or the next morning? What if Toby doesn’t wake up until noon (he works at night)? Do we have to wait until then to open presents? What about going to church on Christmas Eve? How do I tell her about Jesus and the manger? Is she going to understand? Questions questions questions. Thankfully things are working themselves out.

As usual, I’m kicking myself for worrying so much. It’s like I’m a new mom all over again spending hours worrying about what detergent to wash everything in. Little did I know that two years later I would let her eat things off the floor and put clothes on her from Target before I even rip off the tags.

Anyway…things have a way of working out EVEN when Toby and I don’t communicate very well.

I woke up before the crack of dawn and snuck out into the living room. Much to my chagrin, Santa (aka Toby) had NOT set up the toy train that I had explicitly asked him to set up on the coffee table. I thought that would be a nice touch since I was the idiot and forgot to hide any of the presents beforehand. I didn’t think Santa would forget too. He forgot.

He did eat some cookies and left one on a plate with a very obvious bite out of it. I thought that was sweet, especially since Toby and I didn’t discuss anything like that and poor Santa had to go find a cookie somewhere in the kitchen and set it up himself. But the train was nowhere in sight. So I had to go find it in Toby’s office and set it up like a mad elf. I thought for sure Bug would wake up. I’m so klutzy. Me and wooden tracks at 5:45 in the morning are not a good combination.

Miraculously, Bug did not wake up. I think I got the last track fit into the circle and was trying to find a place for the extra tracks when she came padding out to find me. I quickly stashed the extra tracks in the hat that Santa had left behind. That’s a good place I figured.

Bug was totally surprised. She loved her train set! It was magical. To me anyway because I never did that. I never woke up to find presents on Christmas morning. I got presents out my arm pits on my birthday but Christmas was just another day. So this is all new and fun and strange for me.

We played with the train for a few hours and I think we munched on something or other for breakfast. Then another miracle happened: Toby woke up! He never wakes up before nine in the morning unless he has a work appointment. I’ve probably written about this before but Toby does most of his photo-editing at night when the house is quiet and goes to bed regularly at four or five in the morning. So getting up at seven is like asking you or me to get up at 2 am. Not a pretty sight. But it was Christmas and Toby didn’t want to miss the fun either. That made it special for everyone.

Bug and Dad

I’ve since forgiven Santa for forgetting the train.


I do not know why Bug thinks her arm is so tasty. That silly kid.

is it present time yet?

There were a few other surprises in store of course. Like some great big packages that came in the mail!

wowie zowie! this is cool!

Nothing says “s-p-o-i-l-e-d” quite like a fancy-shmancy puppet-show theater that is big enough to crawl into. Hot diggety dog! How did my in-laws know I’m plotting a puppet-show-themed birthday party for Bug in January? They must just know. Bug enjoyed it thoroughly.

Bug in a tube!

Does anybody know where this giant green tube came from? It just showed up on our porch without a note or a card. There was a packing slip with a company name on it so I will definitely be calling them but as of right now I have no idea who gave this to us. If it was you, a big thank you! Now we have two tubes for crawling in and Bug thinks it’s the best thing on earth.

And with that I will finish this post because Bug is now awake and is insisting on eating cereal on the floor like a cat.

Christmas 2008 from secretagentjo on Vimeo.

Here’s the home movie version of this post…I apologize, it’s a little long and maybe boring.

Nine years and still running strong…just like a Norge

holding up like a Norge

I’ve been lagging on posting my anniversary post for several days now. Mostly because I wanted that perfect photo to go with the post and since taking a portrait together didn’t work out, I had to think of something more creative. Leave it Toby to give me the inspiration for this shot.

It’s our fridge. Our Norge that I bought way back in 1996 with an old roommate. We bought it used. I’ve written about it before. It was an ugly mustard color but Toby and I painted it red. That was before we were married.

The other day, on our anniversary—the twenty-fifth to be exact, I commented to Toby that our refrigerator sure has held up a long time. We’ve had it for more than ten years and it’s only broken down once. He laughed and said something along the lines of how ancient it is, even older than our marriage. We got a good laugh out of that, thinking about how our marriage is still going strong after nine years just like a Norge.

I don’t know what it is about that name “Norge” that always cracks me up. It’s just so matter-of-fact and unapologetic. Like the name Marge or barge. It’s not glamourous at all but it’s good and sturdy like an old refrigerator built to last. Which is sort of like our marriage.


I can’t even believe it myself that we’ve lasted this long. It was rocky in the beginning. I expected a lot and was never happy. When I think back on it, I was a real pain in the neck. A whiney, bitchy, yucky person to be around. I complained all the time and was forever moping about how Toby didn’t hold up to my idea of what good husband should be. I never even thought about what would make a good wife. I was so immature. It’s a good thing I was a lot cuter back then than I am now because I don’t know why Toby would put up with me.

As time went on things got so much better. We talk about it a lot. We were so different back then, opposites really. It’s not that I’ve changed him (though I tried, believe me, I tried) or he’s changed me but we’ve both adapted to suit each other. I never saw it coming. It just happened.


I think having Baby Bug was the turning point for me. I know that is sad considering that we were married for seven years before she was born but it’s true. I was always looking for a way out before she came along. I always secretly thought I could do better on my own. But once we had a kid, I stopped looking at the cracks and started trying to fill them for her instead. I don’t want to bore you with the lovey dovey crap but changing my perspective like that was exactly what I needed to do to be happy.

famous rain pipe

Now I’m so thankful. Toby could have been a horrible guy. I was so blind when I chose him. (Do you see those shoes?!! And skinny jeans were not in style in 1999. But please ignore this parenthesis.) I went from having all my decisions made for me by my very close-knit family to wandering blindly by myself, having no clue what decision to make. It was a scary time back then. I think I stayed in the relationship so long because I didn’t know how to get out of it.

It would have been nice if I had a more active part in the decisions I made back then. I remember going to a counselor during the months before we were married and going through boxes and boxes of tissues as I cried rivers over whether or not I should get married. I really didn’t know what I was doing.

But now, in hind sight, I’m glad I was clueless. I might have turned Toby down if I had a clue. I might have passed him over because he didn’t have a solid career or a plan for the future. He didn’t have a savings account, he had years of debt. He wasn’t from the same religious background I was from. He came from a broken home… He was a bad choice on paper.

But maybe there was some part of me that recognized that he is a good guy because now it’s nine years later and he is a the best father and a wonderful husband. He has a good job and a solid grip on where our future is going. Every day I’m more and more thankful I did stay with him. I love him more and more every year that goes by.


I hope we last for ninety-nine more years.