Sunday, December 22, 2013

DIY Elf and Yoga with the Swans

A very important package arrived in the mail this week. Yep, that's right, Santa sent us our own Elf on the Shelf. Now, the keen eye might detect a resemblance between this elf and some dolls I have made in the past, but my children do not have keen eyes yet, so it's all good. (If you are curious, about DIY Elves on the Shelves, take a look here for inspiration.)

I realize that the Elf on the Shelf craze probably peaked two Christmases ago, but I am usually slow to embrace current trends and so I'm perpetually running a few years behind everyone else. So now I have an Elf on the Shelf, own several pairs of skinny jeans, and have decided to try hot yoga.

Deciding to try something and actually trying it are two different things in my world. Recently I have tentatively stuck my big toe into the vast ocean that is yoga, but following along to yoga DVDs while wearing pajamas in my living room was getting old fast. So when my friend Kate found a Groupon for hot yoga classes, I was all about it, in spite of my limitations when it comes to following directions and any sort of organized movement. The thing about Kate, besides her perfect hair, is that she makes anything possible. I think the proof of this lies in the fact that I've made it this far through teaching sixth grade... Also, she has this obscenely adorable baby:

Anyway, adding to this quickly spiraling cycle of awesomeness was the fact that my friend Alexa teaches at the yoga studio! And in addition to knowing my deficiencies/challenges (both physical and otherwise), Alexa is a crazy talented teacher, which is exactly what I needed. It would take some crazy talent to get a gangly klutz like me doing hot yoga in a room full of strangers, that's for sure.

More holiday merriment while I build intrigue for the story of my first yoga class.

Kate and I committed to a class on Sunday morning. On Saturday she texted me reminding me that I should be hydrating. I was hydrating all right, but not in the way I should have been. There was wine, then some pear cider followed by beer. What can I say? I had seven kids in my house making candy sleighs, these were dark times. 

I wasn't sure what I should wear until I remembered that I had actual yoga pants that I had purchased years ago and had worn for a variety of purposes, but never for actual yoga. Perfect, I thought.

Kate arrived to pick me up bright and early and we equipped ourselves with water bottles (I was cramming for finals with the hydration at this point) and I walked to the closet to grab us some towels.

"Oh, we don't need to bring towels," Kate confidently informed me. And because Kate knows everything, my yoga pants and I followed her out the door sans towels.

We arrived and checked in for our class, immediately feeling intimidated by our classmates. Alexa tried to put as at ease, explaining that there were plenty of other newbs in the class that day. "Did you see her?" Kate whispered at me as we unrolled our borrowed mats at the back of the room, gesturing at one of the other first-timers. "She's like 6 feet tall and a professional athlete!"

The room was HOT. I sort of couldn't breath as Kate and I waited for class to start and whispered to each other about whether or not it was okay to be whispering. The humidity was rolling over us in waves and the smell of tea tree oil hung pleasantly in the air. As someone who is chronically cold, I was actually enjoying the warmth, though it would have been nice to be able to breathe.

Class started and Alexa went fast. I was downward dogging and sun saluting and planking my way right along just fine for about five minutes. Then the directions started getting kind of confusing. Something about my left "peace fingers" and the inside of my right knee and pushing my feet into the ground and extending my back... forehead to the what? I twisted myself up into a pretzel and hoped I was doing okay. They have you looking into a mirror the whole time, which I suppose would help most people, but for me that just made the whole left/right thing more of a challenge. I was a sweaty mess, teetering on some extremity and praying I wouldn't topple over and send us all down like dominoes. And then I make the mistake of looking over at Kate. She is a swan, serenely stretching across the mat in total synchronicity with the rest of the flock. Meanwhile I am playing a game of solitary Twister.

Time goes on. We contort ourselves into frogs and trees. I am a warrior. Sweat drips into my eyes and mouth. I start to really wish I had a fucking towel. The swan sweats gracefully beside me floating her feet and extending her arms as if she has rehearsed this choreography before. I am now sweating so much that I contemplate taking off my yoga pants. Would that be weird? What underwear am I wearing? Am I delirious? 

75 minutes later it's all over. I am a wet noodle as the swan and I gather our things. The room is definitely not smelling like tea tree oil at this point. I realize that hot yoga reminds me a lot of natural childbirth. 

I came home to unsigned Christmas cards, two pairs of boys' pajamas that apparently aren't going to sew themselves, a Christmas Eve dinner menu to plan, a missing stocking to locate, and an Elf who can't seem to keep himself out of trouble. 

But if I can survive hot yoga, I'm sure Christmas 2013 will be a piece of cake.

PS: Kate, you bring the towels next time, k?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saved by the Snow

I came home from work last Thursday with a ridiculous to-do list.There were so many things going on: crepe making supplies to purchase for my French class, Christmas card photos to order, pies to assemble for my friend Peter who had graciously agreed to let me raffle off the privilege of throwing a pie in his face to my sixth graders, my knock-off Elf on the Shelf sewing project (more on that later) to finish, Christmas jammies to begin, an Egypt unit to plan, a loved one in the hospital to visit, the advent calendar to stuff, a zombie party to mentally prepare for, and, oh shit, what was I supposed to bring to the staff Christmas party on Friday? Etc.

"Mom, can I sew a pillow?"
"What are we having for dinner?"
"Did anyone feed the dog today?"

You get the picture.

Sometimes I can roll with all of this. Some days I am checking items off my list and taking names. Often I am amazed at what I can actually get done in a day.

But on Thursday it was all too much. There was a lot of talk about potential winter weather that night, and so I rolled the dice and banked on a snow day for Friday. In other words, I did NOTHING on Thursday night. Not one single thing. Well, I did have a beer and put my feet up, of course, but I did not touch any of those pressing items on my to-do list.

And on Friday we woke up to this:

We thought we scored with a three day weekend. I finished the elf and planned for Egypt. Brent ordered the Christmas card photos. The parties were canceled. Clementine joined me for yoga meltdown.

As the weekend wore on, I entertained the idea that I might not be going back to work on Monday. Little did I know...

Brent and the boys discovered the perfect sledding hill in our neighborhood. Since the rules don't apply around here when it snows, it was also the perfect off-leash dog park...

By Sunday we realized that the snow wasn't going anywhere. I was feeling itchy to get the Christmas tree up and so Brent and the boys walked down the road and found one at a local lot. They pulled it home on a sled.

School was canceled on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We filled our days with sledding and playdates, movies and popcorn, the Nutcracker and pizza with friends, legos and Christmas books by the fire, and Uno and cookies.

I think I will have to go back to work tomorrow. We finished up all of Jack's homework for the week while decorating sugar cookies tonight, Jubelale in hand, Christmas songs on Pandora. Our washing machine froze during the storm and I've just about made it through the seven loads of laundry that had piled up.

The Egypt unit is totally fucked. The crepes and pie throwing can wait.

My loved one is on the mend in the hospital across town.

Friday, I'm ready! I've totally got this.