Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Story I Never Told You: My Experience with Postpartum Depression {Part 1}

{Disclaimer: If I know you in real life and this is the first time you are hearing this story, please don’t be offended. At the time when it was happening I was ashamed and didn’t want to tarnish anyone’s opinion of me. By the time I was recovered enough to cast off that mistaken notion, so much time had passed that I wasn’t quite sure how to bring it up.}

I tend to keep the tone of this blog fairly light. I write a lot about house projects and sewing, which makes sense because those are the things I love to do. However, I have often wanted to share more introspective posts here, but I can’t because I haven’t given you the proper context. There is a big part of my history that I’ve left out, and without it my present doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been debating writing this post for a long time. I have just as many reasons to continue to hide it as I do reasons for sharing it, but in the end I have decided to be open about what happened to me in 2013 so that others who may be going through something similar might not feel so alone, as I did.

My resolution for 2014 is to be more honest--with myself, with my loved ones, and with the public. This post is an attempt to do that. This is my fresh start. 

So, before the clock strikes midnight, I want to tell you a story.

Well, here it goes.

During Holy Week of 2013 I was hospitalized to be treated for postpartum depression and anxiety. 

Part I: The Rising Action

I never expected it. Noni was a much hoped-for and eagerly anticipated baby. Before CJ was born I suffered from recurrent miscarriages, and when I became pregnant with Noni it gave me great hope that I might still fulfill my dream of having a big family. My labor with her was quick and nearly painless and right after her birth we enjoyed a lot of skin-to-skin cuddling. Everything began just perfectly.

However, by the time Noni was three weeks old it was clear that she was a colicky baby. The only way to keep her calm was to swaddle her, put her in the sling, and walk in endless loops around the first floor of the house. CJ, at nineteen months, was already a little scientist and he wanted me to participate in his exploration of the big, interesting world. He needed attention. He needed his mother. But I couldn’t stop walking. I couldn’t stop or the baby would cry, and I couldn’t stand it when she cried. I had to make it stop. People told me to just let her cry, but I couldn't do it. I saw it as a failure on my part. My job--my only job,  it seemed, was to keep her from crying.

Getting the baby to fall sleep was a Herculean task, and the only way to keep her asleep was to never break contact. She would only sleep in the sling or, at night, on my chest. When I was pregnant with Noni I dreamed of cosleeping with her so we could always be as close as when she was curled up inside me, but the real experience was nothing like it was depicted on Facebook. I am a very light sleeper, and having a congested, gassy baby sleeping six inches from my face meant that I rarely slept, and when I did it was only for 45 minutes at a time at the most. It began to eat away at me. Never being alone. Never allowed to curl up and rest. Never being able to let go.

When she was about seven weeks old I scrapped the whole idea of cosleeping and we moved the bassinet out of our room. After the typically horrific time trying to get her to go to sleep, something amazing happened: once she was asleep, she stayed asleep for nine hours. This happened night after night after night, and I was ecstatic to be getting a full night’s rest with nobody touching me.

However, during her waking hours the colic became even worse, and it seemed like those nine hours were the only refuge I had.  I began to obsess over them. Hoarded them like the dragon and the proverbial gold. As soon as I got Noni to sleep each evening I would reject Nemo’s suggestion that we watch a TV show or play a game (the idea of any form of recreation, especially the ones in which I had previously found fulfillment, like sewing, made my skin crawl), turn off the lights and lie in bed, all alone with the silence.

Being able to sleep at night should have made me feel better, but I kept getting the eerie feeling that I had lost myself somewhere, and I was no longer a person.

My body began rejecting what was required to keep it alive. Food began to lose its flavor. Nemo cooked all of my favorite dishes for me, but they were about as appealing as garden mulch. Even the smell of food began to repulse me and just the thought of eating made me feel ill. In the end I lost the ability to swallow (dysphagia). For a period of two weeks I could only eat two or three bites of food a day.

I began to wake countless times each night, my mind blaring, and I would not be able to get back to sleep for hours. One morning when it was time to get out of bed I started to hyperventilate. My whole body shook and I felt like I was going to faint. I told myself to stop being so dramatic, to snap out of it.

All mothers suffer from sleep deprivation and have to soothe crying babies--that's kind of the deal. It's the deal you asked God to give you, remember? Other mothers just suck it up and move on. Why are you being such a whiny brat about it?

I managed to bully myself into taking deep breaths and in a few minutes it passed. But a panic attack became part of my morning routine.

Then one night, I didn’t sleep at all. I could only watch the clock as it counted down to another day that I didn't want to face. My thoughts were out of control. Some of them ran backwards through my mind. Sometimes I would have two or three thoughts simultaneously. They all looped in on themselves and lead me to scary places. I tried every trick I knew to quiet my mind and bring on sleep, but no amount of counting backwards, Hail Marys, or imaginary walks through my childhood home had the power to make it stop. All night I lay in bed, sweating, shaking, and trying to resist the urge to run to the bathroom and be sick.

What I was feeling was fear. The most intense and primal fear that I had ever felt.

It's like when you are going down the stairs and you miss the bottom step. Your hind brain knows you're going to fall and you instantaneously break into a painful, cold sweat. Your heart begins to race so fast you're not even sure if it's still beating. Your muscles become rigid and your airways slam shut, preparing your body for the impact--but then you find your footing, and everything returns to normal.

That moment of abject terror is what I felt, but the moment didn't pass. It was forever and I was all alone. I reached out to God, to Mary, to any Saint who would listen, but I didn't feel anyone reaching back.
I realized that it wasn’t going to stop until I was dead. And if being dead is what it took, then that’s what I wanted. I didn’t have any specific suicidal thoughts, but dead was a place I longed to be.

That thought scared me. I saw it as an act of cowardice and I hated myself for doing it, but on Thursday, March 21, I called my OBGYN's office and asked to be evaluated for postpartum depression.

To be cont.
Read Part 2 here.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baby's First Christmas

Merry Christmas! I am totally milking the "it ain't over til the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord" thing for all it's worth, because our Christmas Eve/Christmas Day experience left something to be desired.

I will give you a visual clue as the the source of our misery:


So, Noni had been fussy on and off for the few days before Christmas. Sometimes she would be downright pleasant.


 And sometimes...not so much.


It got progressively worse and worse and by the time Christmas Eve evening rolled around, she was downright inconsolable. All I could do was wear her in the Boba and walk around and around the house, and then even that wouldn't keep her from bawling. I thought maybe she was just overtired, and I decided to put her to bed even though it was only 5:30 and we were right in the middle of the family gift exchange. 

I was just about to execute this plan when she barfed. All. Over. Us. (Remember, I was wearing her in the baby carrier)

I adjusted my hypothesis: A resurgence of the stomach bug we had battled the week before. I had foolishly thought that, since we JUST BEEN SICK that meant we would have a healthy Christmas. I can totally hear all you veteran moms out there giving me an, "Oh honey..."

I hurried her and her germs away from the family and shut us both up in the bedroom, and while I was getting her ready for bed she started to look very woozy and disoriented. At that point I put two and two together and realized that she probably had an ear infection. Neither she nor CJ have ever had an ear infection before, so I was a little slow on the uptake.

Of course it was Christmas Eve in the evening, we were far from home, and the local Med Express was closed for the holiday (what!!!! Is that allowed?!?!?), so I had take her to the ER for diagnosis. I tried to leave discretely so the rest of the family could celebrate but it is very hard to sneak off when someone is vomiting copiously all over just-changed clothes. It took several tries to get out the door.

By the time we got there she wasn't doing well at all. She's never really been sick before, and it was heartbreaking to see her so miserable.

Luckily we didn't have to wait long to be seen and the doctor found out pretty quickly that she indeed had an ear infection along with a pretty high fever (super-star mom over here didn't even think to check). We got the antibiotics and then hurried home to put that poor sick baby to bed. 

Luckily she was recovered enough by morning that we still had a nice Christmas Day. No more digestive pyrotechnics, thank goodness.


Even with antibiotics and a steady stream of Tylenol, life hasn't been easy for Noni (or me) for the last few days, but I think she may be turning a corner. I'm looking forward to a non-screamy remainder of the Christmas season.




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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Channeling Miss Gulch {What I Wore Sunday}

Linking up with the Fine Linened ladies again this week.

So, Noni is going through the stage of "I don't want you to hold me, but I DEFINITELY don't want you to put me down". This turns the 60+ minutes of Mass into an amazing upper body workout as I wrestle a 30-pound teeth-gnashing honey badger.

I was so worn out that after the Eucharist I had to take her to the cry room just so I could sit on the floor and she could crawl all over me. This is her solution to the "we must be touching, but don't hold me, woman!" problem. Of course when I left with Noni, CJ had an only-mommy moment and Nemo had to bring him to the cry room too. Sigh.

Despite that, it was actually a very pleasant Mass. After all, there were no head injuries. I call that a win.

Zee outfit.


Blouse: Inspired by Laura Rose's high necked blouse from a couple of months back. Gosh, what a great top. I found this one at a thrift store, and I'm not quite sure if it is actually vintage or just vintage style, but either way it is 100% polyester, baybee! 

...Actually, now that I think about it, it must be vintage, because I had to remove some giant shoulder pads before I would wear it out of the house. 

Well aren't I cool, wearing bona fide vintage clothing and whatnot.

Skirt: Worthington. Has been languishing in my mending pile for several months because the stitching on the closure was coming loose. So boring. Who wants to waste nap time on fixing skirt closures? Finally got around to it a few days ago and boy am I glad I did because it's one of my favorites, fit-wise. 

Shoes: Note the conspicuous absence of my Keen boots. The weather is bananas right now, and it was in the 60s by the time we left for the 11:00am Mass. Spring-like weather calls for actual shoes! These ones are Madden Girl, of the ancient variety.

The crazy weather made taking the pictures kind of difficult. When we headed outside it was fine, just a little overcast--but within 10 seconds a strong wind kicked up and 10 seconds after that it started raining.

Ok, we're done here.

I'm not sure I nailed this outfit. Am I channeling my inner Gibson girl or am I just a little

?



Happy Sunday, everyone!

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Culling the Herd

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when all the toys we owned could fit into a breadbasket. When CJ was a baby, we would collect all of his little stuffed animals and rattles at the end of the day, then pat ourselves on the back for keeping the house so tidy when we had a four-month-old.

Don't worry, you don't have to kick me in the shins for being so smug. The universe already took care of that.

Fast-forward two years and I am constantly wading through a toy swampland. I can no longer stomach the nightly chore of tidying up, so we just start the next day with yesterday's activities strewn all about.

And now that Christmas is coming I have a stinking suspicion that our toys are going to have some new buddies, so obviously it was time for a makeover.

I had two goals:

1) Put some toys in storage and establish a schedule to rotate the old boring toys and the "new" toys.

2) Establish a "toy lending library" system. I read about this over at Young House Love a few months ago and I have been wanting to try it ever since. Basically, most toys are kept out of reach and only one activity is allowed out at a time. If you don't pick up, then no new toy.
I was feeling very ambitious on Monday and Noni had actually agreed to take her morning nap, so I got right to it.

First I got all the toys from various locations all over the house and put them in a central location. Then I started weeding out everything in the following categories:

Toys--not technically toys.
Seriously, Eva, you were letting them play with a bicycle pump? There were also some casters of unknown provenance, a shim, and various other tools and DIY supplies that didn't make it into the shot. Also a lot of dirty laundry.



Toys--intended for felines.
This isn't the half of it, but Pippin ran off with most of them.


Toys--outgrown
Goodbye, rattles, teethers, and stuffies! See you again next time we have a wee baby. Noni no longer fits the bill.

Whatever was left (and there was still a lot) got divided up three ways:
  • Sewing room toys I put a lot of boring toys in this box because, let's face it, they would rather be playing with my craft supplies)
  • Living room toys This is where we spend the bulk of the day, so the living room got all the best toys, including the play kitchen, art supplies, and puzzles
  • Toys to put in the basement until the kids forget about them.The toys that annoy me the most  had the privileged of getting thrown in this box. Good riddance. See you in two months.

In case you're wondering, the kids' bedrooms got zero toys each because we SO do not need the drama. Those babies need to be in dark quiet jail, or sleeping just doesn't happen.

I spent all day on this project, and somehow the living room still looked like this:


Bah.

The good news is, CJ caught on to the "lending library" concept pretty quickly. The bad news is that he is a super-star puzzle-doer, so I have to stop what I am doing every 2.6 seconds to get him a new puzzle.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Giveaway Winner!

My Advent Giveaway has ended, and we have a winner! Stephanie G, head on over to my shop and pick your favorite item as your prize:)

Thank you to everyone who participated! This was so much fun that I'll probably have another giveaway in the spring.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What I Altered, Then Wore on Sunday

First of all, today I am guest  hosting the What I Wore Sunday linkup over at Fine Linen and Purple! So if you are in the mood for some Eva-style rambling, head on over!

Also! My Advent giveaway ends in seven hours. You should enter, you know.

Today's outfit started with s blue and white polka-dot top that I got at the St. Vincent store. It was a size small, which I typically don't wear, but I just had to get it because it had really cute buttons.


When I got home and tried it on, I found it was actually way too big for me. This is why it is a good rule to check out ALL sizes when you're thrifting, because a lot of the time the reason a piece of clothing is there is because it is not true-to-size. 

I started by taking in the side seams about 3/4" on each side, but even so it was still kind of boxy-looking. Boxy does NOT jive with my body type.

 More intensive alterations were in order.

I took in the sleeves about 3/4" inch at the shoulder. I've been meaning to do this to a lot of my tops, as I have really narrow shoulders and the shoulder seam of most clothing tends to interfere with moving my arms. Sounds bizarre, but it's true!

I also took in the side seams and the darts in the front just a little bit more.

Then came my favorite part! I wanted more of a "v" neckline, so I made 2 darts on either side, starting at the third button from the top and ending under the lapels. I really, really wish I had remembered to take pictures of this, because it is very hard to explain. So I'll just stop trying to.

Anyway, after the alterations were complete I went on the hunt for some red jeans, which I thought would compliment the blue very well. I ended up finding a great pair at Goodwill, and they are so comfy I just may wear them to bed.
 
The cat has set up housekeeping in the Christmas tree.

Top: Karen Scott via St. Vincent Store
Sweater: New York & Company, via a generous family member
Jeans: Sophia Vergara, via Goodwill.
Necklace: Chewbeads, because I won't make this mistake twice!
Boots: Keen.

Happy Sunday, everyone!
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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Elf, Beer, and Floor Plans {7 Quick Takes}

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary

{one}
I am a sucker for floorplans...I spent most of my childhood sketching out floor plans for hypothetical houses on my dad's pad of graph paper. I was a whole new breed of weird. Anyway, I was delighted to see this infographic, which has the floor plans of many fictional homes, including Bilbo Baggins' hobbit hole and Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre.  CHECK IT OUT.


{two}
The other day we had some gift money lying around so Nemo and I (responsible adults that we are) spent it on beer. We got a Magic Hat variety case, with the intention that I would get all the stouts and porters and he would get everything else. I like me some dark beer.
Anyway, I tried some of his IPA (India Pale Ale, a style of beer known for its hoppy flavor and is somehow sweet and bitter at the same time) and I found it to be undrinkable.

Me (in a very polite tone): HOW CAN YOU DRINK THAT STUFF IT'S DISGUSTING!

Nemo: Because it makes you burp flowers.

Me: ......

(To clarify, he likes IPAs because of the sweet, flowery taste. I have never been able to detect any flowers because the bitter flavor steals the show.)

Sorry, just had to share.


{three}
Overheard:
CJ was playing with his alphabet puzzle and he kept turning one of the pieces over and over.

CJ: Now it's an M! Now it's a W! Now it's an M! AMAZING!!!

I laughed a little because he was SO earnest. He really was amazed that when an M is turned upside-down it becomes a W.

But I think he learned the word "amazing" from me saying it very sarcastically when he's trying to show me something when I'm clearly VERY BUSY.

{Four}

I spent all of naptime yesterday modifying this thrifted shirt with the intention that I was going to incorporate it into a new awesome outfit to wear to my MOPS meeting this morning. 



At the last minute I remembered that the meeting was a pajama party. I was a little disappointed, but on the plus side, I didn't have to get out of my jammies this morning. I'm still wearing them, in fact.

{five}
I saw this sign out front of our local elementary school this morning. Of course I had to take a picture so I could remember it always.



{Six}
Due to an unfortunate incident involving a cute little home-destroyer named Pippin, we are currently living without a couch. It's hard, ya'll. The other night I had insomnia and didn't go to sleep until 4:30am, so I could have reaaaallly used a nap, but there was nowhere comfortable to get horizontal and still be within earshot of the kids. It was a problem.
Thankfully, my in-laws decided to buy us a new couch for Christmas! We went to the furniture last weekend and this is the one we picked:


Unfortunately they had to order it so it won't arrive until the new year, but I am looking forward to many pleasant naps on it.

{Seven} 

The giveaway is still going on! The winner gets to pick their own prize from my shop, so be sure to enter the giveaway here and then head over to the shop and take a look around at the potential prizes!


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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Humblebee Family RV Vacay Experience

So a while ago I blogged about our dream to buy a bus and convert it to a motor home. If you know me in real life I've probably talked your ear off about it. We're completely geeking out. 

We are still DEEP in the planning phase, but we thought while we are waiting for various ducks to get in a row, it might be a good idea to rent an RV for a short trip just to get a feel for the whole experience, seeing as we haven't actually gone RVing before. That sounds like something a responsible adult would do, right? We are so mature sometimes that it kills me.

Since we were scheduled to visit my family in Michigan over Thanksgiving, and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity. We drove most of the way there in our little car but when we got a little nearer to our destination we ended up renting a 30-foot Class C motor home from Cruise America and then parked it in my parents' driveway for the long weekend. And they pretended not to be embarrassed by it AT ALL. They are such troopers.


 I was a tad worried about the sleeping arrangements. There was a master bedroom in the back with a queen bed for Nemo and I, but there was very little floor space for portable cribs (yes, CJ still sleeps in a crib at the ripe age of 2-and-a-half. He has yet to figure out that he can climb out. I thank my lucky stars for that every day).

When we were planning this trip we decided that CJ was going to have to sleep in a portable toddler bed, like so:

My MIL and I scored it at a consignment sale a while back but we had yet to use it. I brought it out the night before we left so CJ would be familiar with it, and luckily he took a shine to it.

So we ended up putting Noni's crib on the folded-down dinette and CJ's toddler bed on the folded-down futon.

Despite never having slept in the same room before, they slept like super stars. I credit their exhaustion from playing with cousins all day. CJ managed to roll over the barrier of the toddler bed and fall off the futon the first night, but luckily he wasn't hurt and it didn't happen again.

After Thanksgiving we made an overnight trip out to my family's farm, in a small town that is right out of a John Mellencamp song.



The hour-and-a-half drive there in the RV was awesome. It was really comfy, compared to a tiny tiny Honda, and I felt pretty dang spiffy when we were cruising around in that beast, let me tell you.


via

On the whole the experience was very positive. Price-wise, it was slightly cheaper than staying at a Holiday Inn Express, it was just as clean and comfy, and it was actually a lot nicer than a hotel room because I didn't have to share a room with these loud sleepers:

Plus, unlike the a Holiday Inn, it was right next door to my parents' house.

It also had cupboards to play in.


So the RV conversion is happening, folks. Brace yourselves.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Metaphorical Carbs {What I Wore Sunday}

Pssst....Have you entered my Advent giveaway yet? 

This weekend we made a quick trip to Nemo's hometown so the kids could get some face time with Mimi and Pap-Pap. So this morning we headed to the University chapel at Nemo's Alma Mater. This chapel holds a special place in my heart because it was where Nemo and I first went to Mass together, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent in 2004.

My wonderful in-laws watched the kids so Nemo and I went to Mass kidless!

I am 100% pro-children at Mass. Bring 'em! Bring their friends! Let me hold one or two! That being said, I have zero angst about foisting the kids on the grandparents once in a while so we can go to church solo. Parenting during Mass is a character-building experience. But sometimes you have to rest up and carbo-load before the next workout, you know? So today I feasted on spiritual pasta and bread sticks, and next week I'll get back to building my character.

After Mass we ran across the street to the University library to explore and take some pics.

The outfit.

Dress: Anthropologie via eBay
I was so excited about this dress. I first saw this style over at Twice when I was looking for Black Friday deals, but as much as I loved it (It's my color! It has a fitted waist! And more importantly, it's CORDUROY!) I couldn't bring myself to buy it because it was the wrong size. I couldn't get it out of my head so later that week I was hunting around on the internet and I found one on eBay that was new with tags and 1/3 of the regular retail prize.

I was super pumped that it arrived in the mail just in time to throw it in the suitcase as we were heading out of town. Why, oh why, don't I try things on? While it does technically fit, the buttons down the front absolutely refused to stay buttoned. I had to use a bunch of safety pins in order to keep it rated G. I'm thinking of just stitching the front closed, which worked well for me with this project.So, stay tuned for that, I guess.


Jewelry: Gift from my mother-in-law. No idea where from but undoubtedly someplace cool.
Tights. Target???
Boots: Same old, same old Keen.

After playing hooky at the library we finally headed back and as it was snowing pretty hard we thought it would be a good idea to bundle up the kids and take them outside to play in the snow.

 
CJ was kind of skeptical at first (due to the last two winters being weirdly wet and muddy, this was his first snow experience) but he ended up liking it.


Ok, I should probably return Nemo's laptop to him now. Happy Sunday, everyone!


 Linking up with the ladies at Fine Linen and Purple.  Head on over for some outfit inspiration!

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, December 6, 2013

In the Nick of Time

Sorry about the title. I just couldn't help myself.

Today is the feast of Saint Nicholas!

 It snuck up on me, of course. I made a resolution to start celebrating the liturgical year better, but there it was the evening of the 5th, the kids were in bed, and I hadn't prepared for St. Nick's visit.

{I did remember to fill CJ in about St. Nick bringing presents and apparently he is getting old enough to understand such things because his response to the news was an appropriate, "Oh boy!}


I had intended to make slippers for the kids to leave outside their bedroom doors, but I only had five hours before it was officially St. Nick's feast day, so I had to whittle down my expectations a little bit.


Since CJ and Noni didn't have stockings yet, and I thought making stockings was a bit more realistic that making slippers. I had lots of cute corduroy and flannel in my scrap heap, so why not?


First I traced the outline of a stocking using Nemo's as a template...


Then cut out all the pieces...


 Then did some quick-and-dirty letter appliques...


And then sewed it all together.

 I (I mean, St. Nick) left each of the kids a Brother Francis dvd (lucky for me I had them on hand; I didn't actually buy them for St. Nick's) and also the leftover Halloween candy that neither mommy or daddy was interested in eating.

 No chocolate. Not interested.

I put the stockings outside the kids' bedrooms and left a St. Nicholas statue (that I picked up at a thrift store earlier this year) to stand guard.


I got in just under the wire--in bed by 11:30pm.

Now let's feast!

P.s. I loved Tsh's post about celebrating the real Santa Claus.

P.p.s. Have you entered the Humblebee Advent Giveaway yet? Dooooo itttttt.

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Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.