Thursday Open Thread

Happy Thursday!

Let’s talk holiday cards. Do they stress you out? Do they feel like an obligation instead of a fun annual tradition? It seems many people think so:

For blogger Sarah Chang, who has a toddler and another baby on the way, December already feels chaotic, without the added pressure of trying to accomplish one more thing.

“It’s all too much,” Chang says. “Making sure my address list is up to date, getting the right picture.” And although she loves receiving cards from other families, she says the anxiety of creating that perfect holiday tableau causes her to procrastinate, which means paying extra to rush the order. So Chang has decided to send out New Year’s cards instead of Christmas cards to buy herself a few extra weeks.

Then there’s the cost! All those cards and stamps and address labels can add up.

But what can I say: I love sending and receiving holiday cards. I don’t stress so much over the photo. Some years we do professional photo shoots wearing  festive colors; last year I had a cousin with a good camera and a knack for photography snap some photos of us in front of a mall Christmas tree. This year our cards will feature a family photo taken way back in April during a beach vacation, because it was a good picture and meh, the kids haven’t changed all that much, amirite? :roll:   And um, yes, if you look closely Alex does have a fat lip in the photo because he had slipped on the hotel room tile that morning. I’m not interested in perfection; it will be fun to look at that photo one day and remember his fat lip, and my crazy sunburn, and how we were rushing to capture the setting sun.

I think some of the best photos are outtakes. This was one was taken by a wonderful photographer to commemorate our first Christmas as a family of four. And even though Maya has her father in a headlock and her fly is down, Alex looks like he’s trying desperately to escape my clutches and I’m the only tool actually looking at the camera, I loved this photo. I put it on the inside of our card that year, as kind of a nice/naughty juxtaposition.

And here’s a great piece of advice from the article:

It’s absolutely free to post a great holiday picture on Facebook. If most of the people on your mailing list are your Facebook friends anyway, you’ve achieved the same goal. And in some ways, the standard of what constitutes the perfect picture might feel looser for parents when they’re posting on their Facebook timeline rather than sending something through the postal service.

Speaking of holiday cards: don’t forget about the 4th Annual Mothertalkers Holiday Card Exchange Extravaganza 2012! Which, um, basically consists of sending Marney (mefpdx) your address so we can send each other cards and squeee when we open our mailboxes  😆 See her diary down below for details.

What’s on your mind today? Chat away!


94 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread

  1. Oh bah humbug. Of you don’t like cards don’t do them! I enjoy it and I do spend considerable time and effort on them, but since I’m a freelance photog, I consider it time well spent since it also serves as advertising in a way. I actually have mine done and printed and half are in the mail, new baby and all! Go me! I can’t wait to get all the MT cards. That’s a highlight for me! Plus I get to show you all off to my family!

    So… In other news I found out at my midwife appt this week that my abdominal muscles have separated from pregnancy. Has anyone experienced this? I think round peg had surgery for it. The midwife said that I might need physical therapy if it doesn’t heal by 6 weeks. I’m really bummed about this. Not just because of the way my baggy belly looks, but because I have no core strength at all. I’m only 2 weeks post partum so I’m not doing any heavy lifting, but I hate the feeling of having no stomach muscles at all. I feel so weak and…I don’t know, broken I guess. Between the 2nd degree tear, my separated muscles, and the baby’s broken clavicle, I feel like we’ve been through a battle. Something to talk over with the therapist I guess.

    • And I know yes our bodies are beautiful because of what we’ve been through, ect. I know that. But feeling physically weak and not knowing if it will heal is not helping my mood.

    • Your Christmas cards are always beautiful. Yay for you for having so many mailed out already! And I agree. Don’t like it: don’t send ’em.

      I don’t blame you for being bummed about all your physical hardships. The things we endure for our babies, amirite? Hugs to you sweetie. Hope you heal as quickly and thoroughly as possible,

      So the separated muscles sometimes heal on their own? How is the perineum tear healing up? What does 2nd degree mean?

      • I guess the degree of tear indicates the depth of layers of muscle it goes thru. I actually didn’t have any pain, so I guess it was sewn up well, but it feels kind of “weird.” Sorry TMI. I guess the abdominal muscles can heal but I’m not sure if they were separated recently or from previous pregnancies, so I don’t know.

        Your cards are always beautiful, too! I can’t wait to get mine, fat lip and all! :)

  2. I love getting good mail, and this is pretty much the only time anyone sends it anymore. What stresses me out is that this is the time of year when everyone who sends me clients comes looking for their payback. I don’t advertise, all of my clients come from wedding planners or word of mouth from past clients. The planners always ask me for things this time of year — holiday cards, new business cards, announcements, etc. — which I either do for free or for cost if it’s more elaborate. A fair trade-off, I’m sure, considering the thousands of dollars of ad money I am not spending. But gosh, I’m just tired. This is the time of year when I take 3-4 weeks off and it never ends up happening because I am putting together other people’s holiday cards! One of the planners keeps dropping last-minute things in my lap, too — we need menus for a photo shoot! My employees need personal stationery! All of it has to be done asap, and then she keeps bugging me about when her Christmas cards will be done. Hello? I’m good, but my hands can only do one thing at a time. I can’t die-cut menus and place cards and draw a map of the city at the same time. Blerg. Serentity now!

    Who knows when I’ll be able to get around to actually doing my own cards! I did the paper items for a wedding photographer this year for cost in exchange for head shots & a family photo session. Hopefully the image disc will arrive soon so I can take care of my own cards before the New Year!

      • I don’t really use Photoshop for anything other than editing images (if needed, most images are sent to me already edited by a photographer). I use Adobe Illustrator to create raw graphics and Adobe InDesign to lay out design files (put together the art & text). Photoshop isn’t good for working with text, and I usually have multiple pages in each order. InDesign allows for multiple pages for each file.

          • I have an electronic die-cutter here, it’s the kind that cuts from your designs on the computer. It’s nice for small projects, but really time-consuming. I can come up with any design and it will cut it. For big jobs I have industrial dies made and the cuts are made at a print house. I have a nice printer in my studio that I use for menus and things like that, or I have print companies that I order wholesale printing from depending on the type of job (like photo save the dates, or letterpress invitations). I’d love to be able to do all of my own printing, but the equipment is expensive and huge!

    • Ugh!!! Is there any way you can ask people in advance if they’ll be wanting cards so maybe for next year you can work on them during a slow period? Although it doesn’t sound like you ever slow down!

        • Aw, thanks. This is my slow season, and I know these requests are coming every year. People just have no clue how it can take 5 hours to create a suite of brand-new designs. Then print, die-cut, assemble.

          • I had a great idea to do one of my hand-drawn city maps for this planner’s holiday card, and infuse it with holiday twists. But a hand-drawn map is about 4-hours of work. Have I mentioned I’m getting on a plane to California tomorrow night so I have to get all of this done within the next 24 hours?

  3. I highly reccommend ditching all holiday-related stress… I mean.. who manufacturs this? who cares? send cards, don’t send cards, bake don’t bake, decorate don’t decorate.. who’s gonna tell on you? I love to go black friday shopping at dawn but I don’t let people lecturing on FB about how consumeristic it is to stress me out..I don’t bake.. like ever but I sure as hell eat cookies other people bake… I send cards..but not to everyone that sends me one..

    I haven’t yet been reported by the Christmas police I swear..

    • Word. I do the things my kids enjoy, but I gradually backed away from everything else as the commercialism ramped up. It really is much worse now than it was 20-30 years ago, and I thought it was obnoxious then. I’ve been known to hold my jewish husband up as a shield to deflect criticism from my family – I’m not proud.

      I occasionally send cards, which is of course worse than never sending cards at all since the receivers probably can’t figure out whether an obligation has been incurred. But my whole problem with the cards in the first place is that it becomes an obligation. So I usually only send the cards to immediate family.

      • right.. and I’m unabashed in my love for outdoor lights and driving around to look at them.. I put up a small display and love them but I don’t ring doorbells of people who don’t and say “for SHAME!!!” just like people who bake don’t pound on my door and demand I feed them cookies

          • I’m married to Bizarro Clark who wants nothing to do with putting up any lights, which meant it was me and the 12 year old up on a ladder over the weekend putting up the lights. (And only because DS has wanted lights for years.)

            I like looking at other people’s outdoor lights but I have such mixed feelings about Christmas in general, in addition to just not really caring enough (nor does DH care even the tiniest bit), that we’ve never put them up before.

            • I bet you made DS so happy! I, too, always longed for my parents to hang lights, and they never did. I had to settle for hanging lights in my bedroom window, which faced the front of the house. A little pathetic, yes?

              Funny thing is they hang some lights now, and even have a tiny Xmas tree (we never did when I was growing up). All for the benefit of the grandkids. Not that I’m bitter or anything 😉

                  • I just picked up solar-powered strands of LED lights for my wreaths! No batteries, no cords. I did a test and it seems to work.

                    It is an indulgence, and I’m ok with that for these few weeks. LIke MusicTeacher said, it gets so dark and the rest of winter can be so blah…the festive lights help me enjoy the onset of winter.

            • I’m married to one of those too. He likes that I like it but he’s never been helpful. So even with him out of commission this year, it still feels like a normal year. Silver lining there I suppose. Funny thing is he enjoys other people’s displays and has opinions on things like where the items are placed in the Nativity Set etc. It’s kind of weird.

        • but that’s my point… enjoy it ? do it! don’t enjoy it? don’t do it… who cares? These “Holiday stress” articles make me laugh b/c the only people putting this stress on us is us.. I love love LOVE Black Friday shopping .. .Lyn hates it.. you don’t see either one of us demanding the other change her tune. I HATE to bake… many on here love it.. yet none of you demand I bake nor do I tell you to cut it out? So I never understand where all this stress is supposed to come from…

    • Yes! If the cards are just too much, then just don’t do them. I can’t be bothered with them personally, but I absolutely love cookie baking day. That’s fun, not stressful (for me), so I would hate to not do it. I miss Christmas lights, but it doesn’t get dark here until 9:30 in December, so there isn’t much point to putting them up. It sure would be nice to have them in June, though, when the world is cold and dark and depressing. Also, I love Christmas carols, whereas my DH barely tolerates them. I can’t resist the discord of singing “let it snow” at the height of summer.

      • I lurv cookie baking day. I’ve also discovered the great joy that can be had by saying “go ahead and decorate that tree any way you like.” I love outsourcing.

    • There are also these things that you can buy at marshalls or places like that…they are kind old fashioned but they are called Christmas cards and they have pretty pictures on them

    • I have a hard time just ditching stressful things. The weeks leading up to the holidays are always uber stressful for me, because it’s the busiest time in the semester for me. So throw all the holiday stuff on top of work stuff and my own expectations for how I will do things in both areas and UGH. But I really like all the holiday stuff, is the thing. I don’t know what else I would drop. I don’t bake much and I’m cutting back on decor this year, but I’m still doing those things a little. The shopping for anyone other than my kids stresses me out, but I can’t really get out of that. I think I will try to get DH to do more of it, though. I like doing cards and getting cards, I just wish the time pressure didn’t make it all so stressful. Every year I think that I should get my mailing labels all ready to go and buy stamps early, but I never do. I know I’m causing my own stress, but I don’t know how to stop it without being really bummed about what I’m giving up.

      • you know what’s REALLY awesome…
        no more santa…. no more pretending.. no more wrapping different presents in santa paper and letting him take all the credit…

        that’s fantastic

        • We are alike on many things, but I love playing Santa. I think it will make me sad when he goes away. Well, who knows? Maybe not. Given that I have a 1 year old, it’s gonna be awhile before that happens. Maybe I’ll come around to your view by then.

          BUT Santa doesn’t wrap much around here, so it’s only the assembly that gets us down. One year I thought I might kick DH out of the house at 1am because he was ruining my Christmas with his cranky. I seriously had “we should split up” thoughts that stuck around for a few days afterwards.

            • seriously. Santa is giving all the good presents this year. We ‘re giving a couple of lamo ones.

              Also, we bought DD a dollhouse. I was all for the plastic preassembled kind but DH is like “no, no this nice wood one” that needs to be assembled. God is my witness if that thing is not assembled BEFORE christmas eve I am totally never asking his opinion on gifts again and I may consider divorce.

              • I actually kind of like that dynamic. Santa gives the crap, parents give books and art supplies and clothes and stuff like that. Because why in hell would mom ever buy a stupid Easy Bake oven? Must be santa.

              • Hey – I was going to comment on your stressed out holiday diary but then it disappeared. Just wanted to say that it’s not out of the ordinary to be unable to relax at other people’s houses. I wondered if it would be better if you hosted and then the kids would be in their own house rather than you having to monitor them in someone else’s house – that’s wicked stressful.

                Not that having to host isn’t stressful but I find it gives me a greater sense of control over things. I’m not a good guest.

            • Exactly! My husband actually got mad at me last year because I kept their big present and wrapped it from us rather than having santa give it.
              In his (and now I guess our…) family, santa doesn’t wrap so as soon as you come down in the morning you know what your big present is. Bam. Christmas is over in 20 seconds and there’s nothing but unwrapping the socks and underpants that your parents gave you…might as well go back to bed.
              And I want credit for the good stuff. I just do.

        • Yeah….I’m secretly thrilled that my kids ditched Santa really young. I really don’t like Santa. It takes away my fun. Plus…too much effort involved in the lying and sneaking. I just can’t be bothered.

  4. Yep I’m skipping cards this year. First real holiday as a separated family and I can’t really deal with it. It seems like some kind of really public statement that we are a family of 3 right now and I don’t really feel like doing that now. So I’m not and only have a very small amount of guilt about it.

    Happy Thursday everyone! I am very very ready for the weekend. The owner of our company (English Language School) is here for his for his yearly visit and it is a bit stressful. I had to open my big mouth and tell him about a great restaurant close to where he is staying and now I got invited to the dinner he and my boss and the accountant are having tonight and of course I can’t say no. I’m bummed though because it is my last night with the kids for 5 nights and I am leaving tomorrow for the weekend in LA and have to do laundry since I have no clean clothes. Oh well at least I will get a good meal out of it.

      • Pleasure. One of my best friends from my small Iowa town lives in Laurel Canyon with his wife who I also love. Another friend of ours from high school (who was a high school kind of boyfriend of mine and may be a future romance…….. I know so cliche for a newly separated 40 something year old woman. And no we did not reconnect thanks to Facebook :-) ) is flying out and arriving midnight tomorrow.

        • Ever since the movie “Laurel Canyon” I have been wanting to go there. We have been to LA a few times but we haven’t gotten up in the canyons, but it looked like such an interesting place!

          • It is really great. It is just minutes from Hollywood, but you feel like you are in the middle of the country.

            And yes I’ll let you know how it goes. I guess it is cliche for a reason: the idea of being romantic with anyone is pretty freaky, so it’s not strange something has developed from something familiar. It’s funny because I have never thought of him as “the one that got away” but our lives have crisscrossed over the years and we have always been very fond of each other. True story: we became close friends even though we had very different groups in high school (think Pretty in Pink I was the weird one and he was the smart jock) because our Senior Year of High School was the same year of the ’88 Iowa Caucus. He comes from a very Republican family but already at age 18 knew he was a Democrat (#bonuspointsforhim). We talked endlessly about how exciting it was to vote for the first time. In the end he went with Paul Simon and I Bruce Babbitt.

  5. In other news, I love my midwife. Yesterday I had an appointment with her that I originally made when I was pregnant. I forgot to cancel it after I miscarried but decided to keep it anyway since I had a suspected yeast infection.

    Last time I was at the medical office was the day I started bleeding, when I went to the lab to have my blood drawn for testing. It was a little surreal to be back. My midwife was so lovely. Just the way she looked at me and touched my hand and told me she was sorry. The perfect amount of sympathy. I shed a few tears for the first time in a while, and it felt good. I’m sure she gets plenty of practice due to her profession but you almost think she’d be a bit desensitized, you know?

    I showed her a picture of DS (she delivered him) and she was so excited to see the big, smiling boy.

    AND… she gave me a prescription for Diflucan, which will hopefully nip this infection in the bud. Because my hoo-hah is not happy right now.

    • My neighbor is a midwife, and at our block party a few years ago I said something about how it must be great to see all of those babies born. She said it was, but it was actually the whole circle of life that she really loved — being there for the births, the miscarriages and even the stillbirths. She felt it is just whole-woman-care and not just about the deliveries.

      I felt so much more comfortable with the 6 midwives in the practice I chose (we had to do rotating visits and see all of them at least once since you never know who will be on duty during delivery). I won’t even see a male GP, so the thought of having to see the 3 or 4 male OBGYNs in the practice made me panicky, so I stuck with the midwives.

      • After my miscarriage, I went for a massage from my massage therapist who has also been a birth doula for 30 years. (She is also the one who did F’s craniosacral session). She is one of those people who is just naturally drawn to taking care of women, also. Seeing her was so healing. I cried through the whole massage but it was a big part of my recovery.

        I love that there are women out there drawn to this. Definitely not me, but I so thankful for the ones that are!

        • I don’t doubt there are awesome OB’s of any gender (just like I’ve heard horrible reviews of female OB’s from friends). I have issues with male docs. I just do. It causes me panic. It’s totally related to childhood trauma that I have no memory of unfortunately.

        • That doesn’t seem funny to me, actually. The thought of a man seeing my business is creepy, because the only other time I would have a man down there would be sexual. I’ve only had an appt with a male once, and that was plenty. Women always make it seem more clinical and comfortable. So I imagine that it might work the opposite for you.

          • I guess I don’t care either way, I just find the women more judgy…I’ve had my male OBGYN for 23 years now.. he saw me through my pre-cervical cancer issues, delivered my daughter, saw me through my divorce, celebrated my coming out, and got me through my ablation… he’s like a part of the family LOL

              • Don’t mean to assume that all women are great. I’ve had some great ones and some so so ones and some terrible ones over the years. I’m sure that’s the case with men, I just can’t get over my creepy vibes to find out. In general, I find that midwives or nurse practitioners are more sensitive and careful than drs, but I realize that’s not always the case.

                • I preferred my midwives to my female OBGYN. I recently saw a new OBGYN for my annual, since the midwives practice can take months to get a non-pregnancy appointment, and she was ok. Not great, but fine. The thing is that even if I haven’t loved any of the female docs, I don’t feel creeped out like I do with a male doc. It’s my own personal issue, it’s not really a judgement on any doc I’ve had experience with.

                  One thing that did annoy me with this last OBGYN was the pushing to get me on some kind of hormonal BC. I don’t do hormonal BC because of family history of blood clots. So then she was pushy about Essure. I’ve had a total of 2 pregnancies, both planned. I think our methods have worked juuuuust fine, thanks.

  6. So a new driver is supposed to text when she gets there. An hour later a nervous mom calls and texts. The reply is oh crap, no service.

    Do we believe her, mothertalkers?

    • Depends…..i’ve had some real situations where DD did not have cell service.


      That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t stress to our “new driver” that calling or texting is not an option….it’s imperative. If there really is no cell service, then use a pay phone or house phone or someone else’s phone.

      I’ve told my DD that I own my crazy worry – if I don’t hear from her when I expect to, I think the worst. I know it’s nuts (odds are she’s fine), but it’s MY nuts… deal with it and just call me! (same thing goes for when I hear from her when I don’t expect it – a call in the middle of the day from college stops my heart for just a second, until she says “I’m fine…” and goes on with whatever news she wants to tell me!)

      • I’m guessing she forgot. But she also needs to know that if service is out, you try, try again until you’ve found signal.

        I think I guilted her enough that she’ll remember in the future. But if not, I think of something that will get her attention.

  7. Have never sent any. Not gonna start. My mom is scandalized by this, but it goes on the list of things I don’t have the energy to even consider. Not my scene.

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