A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Category: Christmas (Page 1 of 3)

Portrait of a Deviant Elf

Dobbie is back! He’s my family’s Elf on the Shelf and he is pretty popular around these parts.

If you’re just joining us, you can catch up on all of Dobbie’s most memorable adventures from the last few years HERE.

I have to admit, I’m enjoying him now more than ever… probably because every time Dobbie makes my kids smile or laugh, it eases my guilt for being such a Halloween slacker this year.

Also, this year, for the first time, Bucket Head has started communicating with Dobbie. Continue reading

Look what’s under the mistletoe!

Dobbie adjusts his mistletoe belt buckle by The Bearded Iris

Dobbie ain’t no dummy.

Hey, all you Christmas decorating pros, is real mistletoe always so flimsy and delicate? Geez Louise, I lost about half the leaves fashioning that belt buckle for Mr. Horny Pants up there.

Confession: this is actually the first year I’ve ever bought real mistletoe. Is that crazy? I’ve always wanted some, but I’ve never really liked the plastic mistletoe I see in most stores. So when I saw some little baggies of real mistletoe for $1 each at the local Christmas Tree Farm last weekend, I snapped up a few bags and brought them home with us.

Did you know that real mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows at the top of trees? The owner of the tree farm told me that there’s a gal in his neighborhood who shoots the mistletoe down with a rifle and then shows up in her head-to-toe camouflage to sell him big fresh clumps of it.

Welcome to North Georgia, y’all.

Anyway, what few hearty sprigs remained intact while I was making my bouquet are hanging in my foyer from the pendant light. So if you plan on stopping by anytime this holiday season, just go ahead and pucker up, Buttercup.

live mistletoe in the foyer by the bearded iris

How about you? Are you a mistletoe veteran or virgin? Got any tips or stories about mistletoe to share? Dish it up!

Yours truly,



The Return of Dobbie, The Inappropriate Elf on the Shelf

Today marks the one year anniversary of Dobbie’s Big Debut. If you’re just joining us, Dobbie is my family’s Elf on the Shelf, and he’s a little, uh…mischievous, you might say.

He was pretty popular around the blogosphere last year for his lewd and lascivious antics. He even finished in second place as one of the Top 11 Inappropriate Elves over at Baby Rabies’ Inappropriate Elf Contest for that time he wrote his name in the snow.

Dobbie writes his name in the snow by The Bearded Iris #InappropriateElf

Ah, good times.

Pretty ironic that he would become so popular because I never even wanted that little so’mbitch.

He was an ambush gift from my mom to my kids and I just knew he was going to be trouble. Like I needed to add one more labor-intensive holiday tradition to my already overflowing plate of Christmas duties.

But I begrudgingly let Grandma be the hero and give the kids the one toy they’d been so desperately coveting.

And long story short, we all fell in love with him.

Even my beloved kitty Gracie (RIP) enjoyed his company. These shots were taken last year and were part of my story about having to improve upon my husband’s lame attempts at Elfing. (Bless his heart.) That’s one of my all-time favorite posts, by the way. (And the photo below is the one I’m entering in this year’s Inappropriate Elf Contest at Baby Rabies.)

Dobbie plays Scat Scrabble #InappropriateElf by The Bearded Iris

Dobbie plays Scat Scrabble2 #InappropriateElf by The Bearded Iris

I sure do miss that sweet cat. She was the best. {Sigh}

This year, Dobbie the Elf arrived on Saturday, December 1st.

I clipped his little hands to one of the blades of the ceiling fan, turned the fan on low, and went to bed.

I would give anything to have a video of my kids’ reaction when they discovered him.

They were watching TV in the family room that Saturday morning, and it wasn’t until my husband said, “Hey, why is the ceiling fan on?” that they looked up and noticed Dobbie spinning around and around, with his little felt legs splayed out behind him like he was holding on for dear life.

Believe me when I say my kids went absolutely apeshit. “IT’S DOBBIE!!! HE’S BACK!!! HE’S ON THE CEEE-WING FAN!” (sic) shouted Bucket Head.

And that, my friends, is what this Elf thing is all about.

It’s not about comparing yourself to other mothers. It’s not about having to “remember to move the fucking elf.” It’s not about rules or obligations or judgement.

It’s about bringing joy to your kids. 

And let me tell you something about my kids: the horse apple didn’t fall far from the horse, if you know what I mean.

Elf on the Shelf Dobbie on the crapper by The Bearded Iris #InappropriateElf

Toilet humor—works every time.

And if you can make your husband laugh along the way with little surprises like this?

The Elf on the Shelf Dobbie has a mouth like a trucker by The Bearded Iris #InappropriateElf

Even better.

Oh easy there, Mother Superior. My kids never saw that. By the time they woke up that day, the egg carton was closed, and the elf was in a much more family-friendly position…

Dobbie The Inappropriate Elf on the Shelf licking a large turgid candy cane by The Bearded Iris

…licking an enormous, turgid candy cane.

Because there’s nothing inappropriate about that, right?

May your holiday season be filled with joy, laughter, and plenty of minty freshness.

Yours truly,

PS – Please follow me on Pinterest for more Elf fun and Christmas humor!

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Mary, your baby is 42 pounds. And he’s giggling.

Last night was the Live Nativity at our church. We participate in it as a family every year and it is always the highlight of our holiday season.

In a nutshell, we set up 8 outdoor scenes depicting Mary and Joseph’s journey to the manger and we guide groups of visitors through the scenes, singing Christmas carols and telling the story as we go. All the actors are children and we bring in live animals for most of the scenes. It’s epic, and I don’t use that word lightly.

I wrote about our first experience with it a few years ago. Frankly, I’m surprised we ever went back for more after Mini-Me’s traumatic accident during practice and then the whole donkey poop issue.

But the kids love doing it, so we sign up again every year.

For our first three years, Mini-Me played an angel. It was not a speaking role. All she had to do was look cute and sing. Piece of cake.

Mini-Me and Donkey our first year in the Live Nativity, 2008. She was 6 years old.

We had so much fun, Mini-Me’s big brother Nature Boy decided to join the cast as a shepherd the following year (2009).

Nature Boy (10) as a shepherd and Mini-Me (7) as an angel with animals in the stable, 2009.

The last two years, he has wanted to be a Magi with his BFF. They have an alpaca in their scene. They love the alpaca.

I’m always a shepherd. It’s the only day of the year the neighbors aren’t wondering why I’m outside in my bathrobe with a curtain on my head.

Iris, Nature Boy, and an alpaca butt.

This year, Mini-Me decided she wanted to be THE Virgin Mary in the climactic final scene…

Why yes, that IS a rooster on a leash.

…the super-pregnant Virgin Mary who has just lined a manger with fresh hay so she has a place to put the newborn baby Messiah she’s expecting any minute.

It’s a major speaking role.


I was fine with that. She’s got a dramatic flair, as you know.

But I didn’t realize the exact depth of her storytelling skills until I overheard a conversation she was having with her little brother, Bucket Head.

“Now you hide under my gown and when I give you the signal, you POP out and cry like a newborn baby. Okay?”

“Should I be naked?”


Naturally, I put the kibosh on it when they went to get the ketchup.

“Guys, stick to the script please. Mary doesn’t actually give birth during the show, sorry to disappoint you. Jesus isn’t born until Christmas day,” I scolded (trying not to laugh).

I had visions of Bucket Head’s curly mopped impish face crowning betwixt Mary’s white gown folds reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining: “Heeeeeeere’s JESUS!”

I was also more than a little nervous about Mini-Me thinking it would be glamorous to be an unwed pregnant teen someday so I made sure to drop a few phrases like “ring of fire” and “incontinence” when she asked me if wearing a pillow is what it feels like to be pregnant.

“Aw Mom. We’re just kidding. But that would be a funny Christmas card for next year, wouldn’t it?” Mini-Me suggested.

(Cue the shock and awe.)

So I got my Christmas miracle early this year: the Live Nativity went off without a single hitch. Everyone had a blast and rocked their parts. And yes, they all stuck to the script. (Just to be on the safe side, we sent Bucket Head to his Nonni’s house for the majority of the show.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved. Support your local perineum.

What “Are you ready for Christmas?” might really mean.

The first time I heard it this year was on December 8th: “Are you ready for Christmas?”

I effing hate that question.

It makes me bristle every time with anxiety about all the items not yet checked off my mile-long To Do List.

So when a friend cheerfully asked me this a few nights ago at the nursing home where we took our scout troop caroling, I turned to her and snapped, “Ugh! Why do people ask that?”


The look on her face!

She was visibly deflated by my sharp, growling reply.

“Gosh, I don’t know. Just making conversation, I guess,” she answered.

“Well, no. I’m not ready for Christmas. In fact, I have so much to do that I feel like my head is going to explode. My cards haven’t arrived yet. I haven’t wrapped or mailed a single gift. My husband keeps asking when I’m going to start baking and every time he asks I want to stab him in the eye.” I ranted.

“Oh. That’s totally not what I meant,” she sighed. Her shoulders were suddenly slumped.

I did that to her.

Desperately, “It’s not? What did you mean?”

“Well, it’s just that I love Christmas. Preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus is my favorite time of year! I just get really excited! And so I was wondering if you are as excited about it as I am.”

“So, you’re not trying to make me feel inadequate or guilty or more overwhelmed?”

“Oh my gosh, NO. Why would anyone do that?”

“For sport?”

“Girl, you need to get your Christmas spirit on. Forget the To Do List. Think about God’s incredible gift to us: his Son.”


I was missing it. That’s so like me, to focus all my energy on the wrong thing.

We gathered up our girls and entered the nursing home. Most of the residents were already in the social hall, eagerly awaiting our arrival.

This was going to be a tough night.

And not just because old people scare me.

Our scout leader handed all the girls song packets and instructed each of them to share with one of the elderly residents. We spread out around the social hall.

A few minutes later, the room was filled with song.

It was going really well until I looked to my left and noticed this:

The meaning of Christmas by The Bearded Iris

This sweet woman was gently patting her new friend on the back and then hugging her with her one arm. It was truly precious to behold.

I felt a lump slowly rising in my throat, making it really hard to sing. I didn’t want to cry. I wanted to be strong for the girls.

But I couldn’t help it. I was holding back a river. My lip was starting to quiver and my voice was cracking.

Thinking fast, I moved to another part of the room, pretending to go help one of the girls.

Bad move.

That is where I met Ginny Mae:

Ginny Mae had already made friends with one of our scouts, a beautiful 11 year old girl named Anna.

Ginny Mae was holding Anna’s hand and telling her “Thank you for coming here tonight. This is the best Christmas ever. I love you,” over and over. She was radiating love and light.

I could see that Anna was about to cry. And just like that, my tears spilled over. I turned away and rummaged through my purse for tissues.

Anna’s mom sensed that something was wrong and quickly crossed the room to check on her daughter. When she saw that we were both crying, she started to cry too. We were a pretty pathetic little bunch. One of the nurses came over and asked if we were all okay. All of this was happening during a rousing rendition of Up on the Housetop. 

That’s when this lady turned around and signaled me over.

I tenderly leaned down to hear what she wanted to tell me, emotionally bracing myself for another heartbreak.

That’s when she quickly grabbed my arm with her bony hand like a scene from a Stephen King novel and hissed “Would you tell that lady [Ginny Mae] to shut up?! I can’t hear the God damn music!” 

Alrighty then! Even in the nursing home, I thought to myself, haters gonna hate.

Then it dawned on me, like the proverbial lightbulb turning on over my head, I don’t want to be like her. I want to be like Ginny Mae. 

Creeeeeeaaaak. I could feel my Grinchy little heart actually growing two sizes.

A few minutes later, one of our scout leaders asked for a handful of us to go with her to sing to Isabelle, a resident who could no longer get out of bed. My daughter Mini-Me volunteered. She grabbed my hand and said, “Come with me Mom.” How could I say no?

There were photos all over the walls of Isabelle’s room. One immediately drew me in…it was a beautiful, buxom young woman, probably taken in the 1940s or 50s. It was definitely Isabelle, but the change over time in Isabelle’s appearance was startling.

She couldn’t talk to us, only smile. She was so tiny and fragile, her hair white and sparse.

We sang Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. She smiled.

But as we sang Silent Night, a single tear rolled down her cheek onto her pillow.

I was a goner.

Looking around, I could see that everyone else in the room was silently crying now too. Even the nurse. It took my breath away.

Silent night, holy night.
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

It was a transformative evening, no question about it. Thanks be to God.

And now, even though I still have a To Do List a mile long, I’m totally ready for Christmas. Go ahead, ask me.

joyously and with childlike anticipation,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved. Love each other.

Last Minute Holiday Shopping Guide

Holy CRAP – is it really December 20th? Where did this month go?

Well, the good news is that today is the last day you will have to endure my obnoxious vote whoring for Dobbie (#54), the infamous Inappropriate Elf contestant and highly skilled urinographer.

I’m feeling good about Dobbie’s chances today. He’s not in first place, but his magic yellow snow-writing pen has attracted a heck of a lot of votes and he’s right up there with some truly awesome entries. I may not be a talented photographer. I may not be trying to win that iPad2 for a worthy cause. Shoot, I may not even know where my children are at this very moment. But gosh darn it, I know inappropriate and I am a whiz (get it?…see what I did there?) with yellow embroidery floss, family heirlooms, and passive aggression.

So last chance, vote for Dobbie (#54). Contest ends at midnight tonight. Tell your friends.

Now if you’re like me and you’ve squandered the majority of Advent doing horrible, awful, unnatural things, in addition to Inappropriate Elfing, you might need some last minute gift ideas. I’ve got you covered; read my column In the Powder Room today.

Comments are closed here. Go write on the walls In the Powder Room…I’ll be there all day to read your wondrous smut!

fondly and with no artificial sweeteners,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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