Thursday, December 12, 2013

You Know it's Christmas in South Florida When...


1. All of a sudden you start seeing girls wearing Uggs and scarves with mini-skirts and tank tops as if that makes sense.

2. We go ice-skating on large sheets of wax. While wearing shorts. And don't forget the sunscreen.

3. Someone you know is going diving for lobsters for Christmas dinner. They're in season.

4. So are stone crabs, so someone better bring a tray to the holiday cocktail party.

5. If it's cloudy, everyone gets excited and pretends it's cold outside and pulls out the sweaters they've been dying to wear since last December.

6. At least once, you will take your kids to a local park where a big truck will come and dump a ton of shaved ice so they can play in the "snow."

7. It doesn't feel like the holidays until you make that three hour schlep up to Disney to fight the crowds and pay a fortune to stand in line, but it's all worth it when you see the Osborne lights.

8. Forget Johnny Mathis, you're jammin' to Jimmy Buffet's Christmas album.

9. You're really excited for the Starbucks holiday drinks, but, umm, you'll take your eggnog latte iced, thanks.

10. The gingerbread houses have screened-in pools and central air.

11. Every single person you know had their family Christmas photos taken on the beach and they're most likely all wearing white button-ups and either rolled up jeans or khakis.

12. You think it's ridiculous when you see houses decorated with a snowman theme.

13. Yet, it's totally normal to see flamingos with wreaths around their necks, Santa Claus in a Hawaiian shirt and you don't think a Christmas octopus is even slightly weird.

14. Your children believe that Santa arrives on a boat and not on a sleigh and that boat may or may not be pulled by marlins instead of reindeer.

15. Your friends have all pulled out their Caja Chinas and you've definitely ordered your whole suckling pig for Christmas Eve.

16. The strippers start wearing Santa hats and sucking suggestively on candy canes. "Ho ho ho" takes on an entirely different meaning down here.

17. After opening presents, we all go jump in the pool.

18. You start getting really friendly with people who live on the water so you can go to their Boat Parade parties.

19. Mrs. Claus? Who's that? Down here, Santa has a twenty-year old trophy wife with fake boobs and her name is Destynee.

20. You know how to say "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" in English, Spanish and Creole and you're happy to do so.

21. It's time to take a ride to look at all the beautiful Christmas lights. By boat!

22. On Christmas day, instead of chimney smoke, all you can smell is charcoal because in South Florida, we BBQ instead of bake our holiday dinners.

23. Northerners can keep that nasty fruit cake. South Florida's got key lime pie.

24. You have to go into a mall to remember it's Christmas because it feels like the Fourth of July out.

25. Christmas trees are palms and their trunks are probably decorated in alternating bands of red and white lights so they look like candy canes.

26. Red and green? What are you talking about? Aren't hot pink and turquoise Christmas colors?

27. Everyone, including you, is desperately hoping the temperature drops below 70, you know, so it's "cold" out and really "feels like Christmas," except of course all the Canadians and Germans, who will jump in the ocean when it's, oh my God brrrr, 68 degrees out.

Happy Holidays, everyone! 

** If you enjoy my writing, please support my work by sharing it on Facebook or Twitter and please consider checking out my memoir Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, on Nook and iBooks. It makes a great gift!**

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Wide Lawns Official Toddler Gift-Giving Guide

Ok, it's Christmas. You've survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday and now it's Cyber Monday or some nonsense and you have a ton of coupons in your email and on your phone and you have a bunch of kids to shop for. Some might be your own, some might be relatives or the kids of friends and you have no freaking clue what to get any of them. Fear not. I've got your shopping list right here.

Take it from me. I'm a mom to an active three year old. I've made a ton of mistakes but I think I finally have a very good idea of what kids like.

The good news is that you don't have to spend a lot of money, travel to some fancy boutique or order a bunch of expensive shit from Scandinavia. Here's what to get them:

1. Band-Aids - Children are obsessed with band-aids. Get any child a few boxes and you will be revered. Band-Aids with characters on them? You are a saint.

2. Chapstick - Basically the only thing that kids love more than Band-Aids is Chapstick. They like to eat it, smear it all over their faces, your face, the dog's face, their stuffed animals' faces and also your nice clean windows. If you give a child some Chapstick they will think you are a god. Their parents may not agree.

3. A Cardboard Box - It's almost a cliche this one, but it's true. I can't tell you how many times people have gotten my daughter all kinds of fancy toys only to have her spend hours playing with the box the toys came in. One day I watched my daughter and my niece play with a box for two hours straight without taking a break.

4. Gum - This is up there with Band-Aids and Chapstick and should never be given to your own children for obvious reasons. Save this for other people's children. Preferably the children of people you don't like. Don't forget to give them a jar of peanut butter to get the gum out of their kid's hair. It works miracles.

4. Solo Cups - Yes, the red plastic, frat party staple. Children love them. My daughter and my niece (a different one, not the cardboard box niece) entertained themselves quietly for the duration of an entire family BBQ with a stack of solo cups. I kid you not.

5. A Box of Kleenex - Yup. The whole thing. Just for them. Hours of fun. Hours of clean up for the parents.

6. A Water Bottle - Go to the nearest convenient store and buy any bottle of water. Heck, you can even drink half or all of the water if you want. Give it to the kid. They don't even care if it's not Fiji. Any used, plastic water bottle will suffice.

7. A Bucket of Ice Cubes - Every parent knows that children universally possess an inhuman tolerance for cold. It's like their cold-sensing nerve endings aren't yet developed or something and thus, sticking their hands repeatedly in ice isn't the painful experience it is for us adults. Kids love ice. It's messy and melty, it breaks but won't cut you like glass and it's sparkly. Plus, it has just the right amount of danger as a choking hazard to make it thrilling.

8. Laundry Baskets - Give your kid his own laundry basket, which won't be used for laundry of course, and watch him go to town. Kids don't long for ponies. They just want laundry baskets.

9. Tupperware - Kids love containers. I have no idea why because frankly, I just don't see the excitement, but they do. Throw in a wooden spoon for extra amusement.

10. A Soap Dispenser - Ahh, the unparalleled thrill of pushing down a pump and having soap miraculously come out of it onto your hand, or the counter top, or in the sink, or the floor or pretty much anywhere else except your hand. I'm not kidding people, you've never seen anything like it. Soap. It comes out of it. Wow. Can we push it again? And again? How about again? How about 27 more times?

11. Straws - Not necessarily to drink with. Kids can find a million other uses for straws. My daughter is fascinated with everything having to do with straws. Except actually drinking out of them, because if I put one in her cup, she usually takes it out to play with. If I go to Starbucks the first words out of her mouth are "Mommy! Did you bring me a straw??"

12. Scotch Tape - Give a kid a roll of scotch tape and get out the video camera. Enough said. Thank me when you win the $25,000 prize on America's Funniest Home Videos (is that even on anymore?). Post-its are a close second.

13. Bubble Wrap - Just admit it, you like it too.

14.  Costco Sized Box of Goldfish Crackers - Because that's usually all they want to eat anyway.

15. Lotion - Ever wonder why kids have such soft skin? I have your answer. It's because they're all obsessed with lotion. Want to make a kid happy? Give them their own bottle of lotion, preferably one with a pump dispenser (see above) and let them slather themselves to their heart's content. It may take a while, so you might want to put in a movie or something.

See, your kids don't need an expensive tablet filled with apps. They don't need an Elmo that hugs them, a big, pink castle that seven princesses can live in or a Disney laptop. They just need the contents of your junk drawer and a few personal care products for endless joy. You're welcome. Now take all the money I've saved you and take a nice vacation this winter.

*If you like my writing here, you'll love my memoir. It's about what happens when the ultimate good girl, suffering the worst breakup of all time, decides to go to work in a strip club to make over her life. Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat is available on Amazon, Nook and iBooks. Makes a great holiday gift for your favorite reader too!**

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