My Secret Elf On The Shelf Addiction. Help, I Have A Problem

Hey Everyone,

Yes, it’s been like 35 years since I have written a blog post. Ok, not 35 years, but way too many months. If you follow my other social media channels, then you know that I post to them, and my YouTube channel almost daily. I really want to challenge myself to get back into blogging, because there is something about the written word that just reaches people and clarifies my soul like no Instagram post ever can.

I was posting my Elf on the Shelf ideas to my personal Facebook account, when a friend of mine (thanks Tracy) suggested that I should blog these ideas, because she had not seen anything like them before. If I may be so bold, she even used the word ‘Innovative’. 🙂

Anywho, it must be fate or something, because I have really been itching to blog lately, so here we go.

Let me start off by saying that up until about 2 weeks ago, I was (everybody hold onto their seats) genuinely irritated when I heard people talking about the whole Elf on the Shelf thing. Why? Simple. I am a bad person :-). Alright, no, that’s not true. It’s because I really didn’t understand what it was, and I kind of thought it was a little creepy.

Two weeks ago, as I was picking up my son from day care, he showed me his Elf at school, and asked when ours was going to arrive. Never one to take the last open seat on a bandwagon, I said, “Um, I will have to text Santa and find out.” After the kids went to bed that night, I looked up the general idea of the Elf kind of policing children for Santa, and by extension for me, and thought, “Yeah, I’ll give that a spin.” Oh, don’t judge, you know how this ends…with me spending $30 on a somewhat creepy little elf like millions of other parents.

I went to Walmart, then Target, to try to purchase this little North Pole Narc, and they genuinely laughed at me. They were like, “those things have BEEN sold out.” Ok, well, excuse me for not knowing that the freakin’ Elf was #trending. 🙂

Moving on. In comes my personal favy favorton Amazon.com. With the click of a button, my own little personal Elf was on it’s way from the North Pole…Ok, yes, I know it’s from the Birmingham, Alabama Amazon fulfillment center, but go with me here. We are dealing in suspended reality.

He arrives. The kids go through a slew of names from Stinky and Jingles, to Flake and finally circle the wagons back around to Chippy. Yeah, super original, I know. 🙂 Cut them a break, what they lacked in originality for naming our Elf, they make up for in creative ways to destroy their bedrooms, so I guess it all evens out.

The first night, I read them the story, and explained the rules, at which time I was promptly informed that, “Everybody knows that stuff mommy.” Oh, my bad for missing Elf 101 at the local community college. Geez, where’s the magic anymore?

After I put the kids to bed, I had two choices; 1. Hit up Pinterest for ideas. 2. Search my own brain for crazy stuff and see what falls out. Of course, you know I chose option 2, because I feel like I need to make everything in my life vastly more difficult than it actually needs to be :-).

The first night, I wasn’t feeling that adventurous yet, so I stuck him in the cookie display, and positioned him like he was holding a cookie and got stuck in there.

Night 1: Chippy Got Caught With More Than Just His Hand In The Cookie Jar.

Originality Score: I don’t really know, but I am assuming it’s somewhere near a 1, on a 1 to 10, 10 high scale.

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Elf In A Cookie Jar

The kids freaked out. They loved it. They were yelling at him about stealing their cookies, and laughing that he got caught. They of course overlooked the most obvious question…How Did That Elf Escape From His Packaging Without Mommy Touching Him? Ah, the magic that is Elf. 🙂

Night 2: Elves Need To Netflix and Chill Too

Originality Score: I think I was probably tickling like a 3 here, maybe.

Night two. I am starting to feel a little more like I can actually do this. I was studying while sitting on the couch, and I thought, man, I would really just love to Netflix and Chill right now. Then it hit me, Elves work hard too. Those little guys deserve to kick it on the couch in their fat pants too, and so this next idea was born. I staged him with an empty soda, and a half eaten popcorn bucket. I crushed up some Oreos and Cheese balls and sprinkled them around him. I added a remote for good measure, on account of it being somewhat difficult to Netflix and Chill without Netflix. Sure, he could have watched it on his iPad, but we decided to go old school, and use a real TV.

 

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This Elf Needs To Netflix and Chill

The kids were sold! This one really made them think this little guy was for real. The crumbs were the real hero of this set up, or as I like to call them, The Elf Question Closer. There was no doubt left for the kids, this little dude was up and about in our house while they were asleep. They said, “he must have been so tired from flying to the North Pole and back.” Yup, mommy win!

Night 3. Elf with OCD

Originality Score: I feel like this one pushed me over a solid 5. If not, please allow me to exist in my own delusion. Thank you very much. Hey, not everyone’s work is appreciated during their lifetime, ok?

So the kids had gone to bed. I was sooo tired that night. I was unplugging the Christmas Tree, you know, because I don’t want to burn my house down and all. Yes, I have a real tree…GASP! I digress. I accidentally knocked a candy cane off of the tree, (clutz) and it hit me like a 2 x 4 between the eyes. Let’s get Chippy to try to fix the broken candy canes. Oh yeah baby, it’s show time.

I go into the garage and grab every kind of glue that I can find; Elmer’s glue, glue gun, Shoe Goo, Gem Tac, yup that’s it. I fooled you with that last statement, huh? I made it sound like it would be like 20 different kinds of glue. Seriously, I was just using a little puffery. Maybe you should lower your standards a little. Who the heck has 20 different kinds of glue?

Aluminum foil in hand, I set Chippy up on the back of the glue gun and touched the gun to the cane. Of course, I had to break a few more candy canes to really sell it, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Whack! Sorry little candy canes, it’s all for the cause.

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Elf with OCD Fixing Candy

The kids were particularly fond of this one. They said, “Man, Santa must really get angry when the Elves break candy canes, huh?” I’m thinking, “You better hope so, or our little elf Chippy has a wicked bad case of OCD. Let it go Chippy, it’s a candy cane. You can buy a whole box for a dollar at Walmart.”

Night 4. Time to Get Shredded Little Dude

Originality Score: I am definitely somewhere near a 6 or 7, but not yet at Innovative.

Ok Elf, If you’re going to stay, then you gotta stop eating that garbage and get fit! We don’t play around about fitness in this house, and I think that Chippy the Elf was feeling like he may have overdone it on his cheat meal of Oreos and Cheeseballs. As I was getting my own gym bag packed for the next day, I thought that maybe Chippy could get in on my bodybuilding action.

He really went ham and decided to lift 200 marshpounds, but hey, Go Big or Go Back to the North Pole, right? I set him up with my Beats headphones, some BCAA powder and a polka dot straw with two large marshmallows. Side note; it is super frustrating when you are trying to complete your evil Elf plan and you can not find the Sharpie, again! Why kids? Why must you constantly take Mommy’s one marker, when you have an entire basket of crayons and markers? Ugggghhh. I showed them. I went into my daughter’s room and took one of her markers to finish this set up. Nanny, nanny boo boo. My marker! 🙂

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Elf Getting Shredded

The kids literally dragged me out of bed at 5:10 in the morning to show me that Chippy was messing around with my gym stuff. Some parents have golf clubs, dishes, or electronics that you don’t touch. I have BCAA’s, protein bars, and Beats headphones that are punishable by death. 🙂

They said, “Oh Mommy, since Chippy has your headphones, I guess you can’t go to the gym today.” My face went blank. How had I not considered this outcome? Don’t freak out. I’m freaking out. I calmly said, “It’s cool, mommy has another set of headphones in my gym bag, so I’ll just use those.” Translation, once you are buckled into the car, I will say that I forgot my lip gloss and make a mad dash to separate Chippy from MY headphones. Bad elf!

Last Night. Night 5: Twisted Elf With Weight Issues

Originality Score: This is the one that pushes me over a 9, and may even qualify as Innovative. Hey, relax, I said may.

Alright, as you can clearly see if you have read the post to this part, I may be a little too invested in this Elf situation. Pump your brakes their Judgemental Jenny, you may want to find a mirror, because you’re the one who read all of this. We may just be in this Elf thing together. 🙂

All of that said, when you are this far down the rabbit hole, who knows what you will find, so of course, I keep digging.

I have to attend an event next week, and I have to wear a dress that is very elegant, but in no way forgiving. Though I work out like a crazy person and am super careful what I eat, I think this dress is going to give me nightmares. I keep trying it on thinking that it will fit differently next week, and yet, same result. Hey Oreos and Red Wine, you’re up. I quit :-).

I decided to make the Elf the living embodiment of my struggle. I went to my daughter’s room to pull a dress off of one of her Barbies to complete the look. Sidebar for a second: Remember when dolls had dresses that came off? I had to go through 5 dolls to find one where the top of the dress wasn’t permanently affixed to her body. Who are we kidding here? What Barbie wants to wear the same dress, day in and day out. Who is making these dolls?????

Alas, I found one. My victim was to be none other than, Cinderalla. Naked doll in hand, I tossed her back in the bin and went looking for her shoes. Why can’t those things be glued on? Oh, there you are shoe, in the VERY LAST bin that I looked in. The Barbie Gods are against me, but I will prevail!

I grabbed my scale, an empty wine bottle (give me a break, who doesn’t keep empty wine bottles lying around their house), some Oreos, the shoes, and a tissue. I propped Chippy up, with his butt not able to fit in the dress. Let’s overlook for a moment that he was even trying to put a dress on in the first place :-).

He clearly tried to fit into the dress, which he could not (no comment), probably because of his Oreo and Cheeseball binge from the night before. Sure, blame it on the water weight Chippy. We feel you. He weighed himself, saw the nasty cold hard number staring back at him from the scale, and decided to cry himself to sleep after drinking wine and eating more Oreos. Yeah Chippy, that’s the way to solve that problem. You show those Oreos who’s boss!

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Elf With Weight Issues

I snapped the picture of Chippy with the wine bottle for you guys, but I don’t think leaving that out for the littles would have won me the Mother of the Year award, so I did the responsible thing. I pitched it into the trash can with reckless abandon and almost woke up the kids. Way to go Mom!

The kids were laughing so hard at this in the morning. They were like, “Oh Chippy, you can’t fit it the dress because you ate too many Oreos little buddy.” I wasn’t sure that they would understand the set up, but they totally did.

Again, I was really not thinking ahead on this one, because I left him in the middle of the kitchen. Elf:2 Mom: 0. Now I have to tap dance around this Calorie Crime Scene until the kids go to bed tonight.

If you want to know what other crazy ideas that I come up with, I put these pictures on a Pinterest Board for you. I will add a new one each morning. I don’t promise that they will all be ‘innovative’, but I may have 4 or 5 more slam dunks rattling around up there.

I just wanted to say another thank you to Tracy for taking the time to not just click like, but to encourage me to get blogging again. I forgot how much fun this is. I am usually sitting here laughing while I am writing, and hope it brings a smile to your day.

Gratefully,

Raphaela

 

This is Divorce: The Sudden Shift in Your Reality

This is Divorce

This is Divorce.

Hello Everyone, 

For many weeks I have been completely silent online. There was one reason for that only; my husband and I separated for the final time. Just before we separated he began an argument with me about what I had been writing on my blog. He said that I was using my blog ‘to trash him’, which was in no way true. I was simply explaining some of the ins and outs of my personal life, and how you can not allow those factors to cause you to lose sight of your goal. 

That said, for the duration of our marriage, he never watched any of my YouTube videos, nor read any of my blog or social media posts. Suddenly, upon realizing that we were on the brink, he took interest in what I was writing and saying. I am not writing any of this to be mean or spiteful, but only to explain why I didn’t write anything for so many weeks. 

Let’s just say that for the purposes of this blog at this moment that the safety of both me and my children was in question. That reason, coupled with my new knowledge of the fact that he was reading all of my social posts, did not lend itself to an environment where I felt free to share. Has that changed? Only slightly. I am sure that at some point he will make time to pry into my life by reading these posts, but after weeks of losing the right to write on my blog, I simply do not care anymore. 

I decided for myself that he was not going to take one more thing from me, not my training goals, not my spirit, and not my ability to communicate with the world on my blog or any other social media channels.

There will be a time in the future where I may share the details of the final moments of our marriage, but this is not the time. We are getting ready to go through an ugly divorce, a nasty custody battle, and I will not provide his team of paid henchman with any ammunition to use against me and my babies. The only thing that I will say is this. I did what any mother would do in my situation; I protected my children, even at the expense of my marriage. Enough said for now. 

This pretty much sums it up.

This pretty much sums it up.

So what does divorce look or feel like? It feels like having your guts ripped out, while watching your standard of living plummet towards the earth, and having to figure out how to rebuild your life from basically nothing, and you have to do it all with a smile on your face to protect your children from the truth of their life. 

It doesn’t hit you all at once. For me, it happened in little ways. First, it happened the day after he left. I was making our usual amount of coffee, and realized that I no longer had to do that. The next day, it was looking at the door and seeing three jackets hanging, where once there had been four. It is tiny little knives that meet you around every corner.

Little knives in your heart.

Little knives in your heart.

You think you are just going to do the laundry, when you realize that one of his socks was mixed in with the clothing. You are overcome with a myriad of emotions; anger, resentment, profound grief, disbelief, disappointment, fear, and so much more. You look at your children playing joyfully in the bath tub, and you try to establish new routines, implement new rules. You have to tell your children that ‘Daddy loves you very much, but Mommy and Daddy are not going to live together anymore’. You have to fight back the urge to say the things that you are really thinking, because this is not their fight. Thankfully in our situation, they were not asking where Daddy was or why he was gone, so that has been a small blessing in all of this.This is their only childhood, and it is your job to protect them from this terrible new reality. 

When my parents were going through a divorce, I felt like a tattered and worn ball that was thrown violently between two parties that didn’t want to play ball. They were both highly educated, incredibly intelligent people who made the profoundly stupid mistake of not understanding that we were not responsible for their divorce. They would take their resentment towards each other and pour it on us like some disgusting syrupy goo that you could not wash off. I remember thinking that I wished that they could understand that I could, and would not divorce either of them. I was not going to choose one over the other, even though there was plenty of reason for me to do that. I was only issued one mother and one father at birth, and I didn’t get to dismiss them from my life because my parents were unable to make their marriage work. Case closed. 

Why do I tell you that? Simple, because I learned from their mistakes. I know what that feels like. I know the insecurities that created in me and my siblings. I simply will not do that to my children. It is my job to model love, compassion, and strength for them, even if I have to do it as a single mom who doesn’t think so highly of their dad. Is he a terrible person? I will let my children form their own opinions about him. As for what I think, I wouldn’t divorce a kind and loving husband, so I guess you can deduce what I think. I am not saying that he will not make a good husband/boyfriend to someone else down the road, but I am saying that the shelf life of our relationship expired, a long time ago. I was too patient, too forgiving, and simply just too stupid to end it. Thankfully, his actions took care of that for me, and now all I have to do is deal with the collateral damage. 

Do I hate him? No, I still love him. I will always want the best for him. I just no longer want to be a welcome mat for he and his family to abuse. Honestly, I could fill this blog and several others with the terrible things that happened during the course of our marriage from he and his family, but I probably won’t. The reason is because when I decide that I am truly done with something in my life, I release it. I don’t hold onto it, mull it over, regurgitate it and reanalyze it. I try to learn from it. I make my peace with it, and I just go on a more mature, more seasoned version of me. More to the point, my children and I deserve a peaceful life, filled with two parents who love them, and are whole. The only way that he and I will be happy is apart. It took me years and years, almost 10 to realize this, but it is an undeniable fact.

I also have the ability to understand the long game here. Someday, emotions will calm, he may remarry, I may remarry, we will have to learn to find peace in the one fact that we have to co-parent our children together. At the end of the day, years from now, that is all it will be. It will simply be another relationship in my life that I need to manage. It will have a different dynamic. It will have different expectations, but I hope that it will always have love and respect. I know that may take many many years to achieve, but I will conduct myself according to that one goal. I do not want to do or say anything that my children would ever look upon with disgust. I want them to see their mom as someone who took a really bad, and completely unfair situation, and built a life for them that was so much sweeter than the life that they had. I want our story, my story to be one of victory, not simply survival. I want to thrive in my divorce, not just survive my divorce. 

So what do you do? How do you go on? You make the slow realization daily that you were once a person who didn’t have another half. You used to be able to choose your own movies, your own evening activities, meals, vacation places and more. You were a person with hobbies, friends, goals and dreams of your own before you merged them with someone else’s. You realize that for the first time in your 40 years on this planet, you are actually going to be allowed to exist, in your own right, and live your life your way. There are these small victories that happen when you realize that grocery shopping is easier, there is less laundry, and you can really focus on yourself and your children. 

These children are going to need a lot of love and counseling. I can help them with the love, but we are all going to counseling together (Ava, Cash, and I-not the ex). They need to realize that they are not at fault and that they do not come from a broken home. They lived in a broken home, a very broken one, but now they are going to live in a whole home, one where the foundation is solid and stable and sure. I despise the term broken home, because it is positively laughable to assume that simply because two people manage to tolerate each other and live under the same roof, that they are somehow not broken. This is a lie. It’s a lie that society feeds us, to keep us in place, to keep us half alive. 

Sure there is a stigma with walking around with two children, and no wedding ring. People look at you. They make assumptions about you that may or may not be true, but they don’t really know anything about the situation. Just today, the kids and I had to get out of the house, so we walked into town to get ice cream. We live in a very upscale part of New Orleans. When we walked into this store, ordered and sat down, I felt the stares. I noticed one blonde woman and her husband in particular who kept looking at my left hand for a ring, which was not present. 

She was your typical trophy wife; tall, blonde, well dressed, huge ring, etc. She was me until 2.5 weeks ago. She is just walking around in her safe, secure, over privileged life not wanting for anything. What she doesn’t know is that the river that separates her life from mine is not so wide. She could be me in an instant if the tides turned. As I sat there thinking about that, it occurred to me that even though her stares were making me uncomfortable, that I didn’t want to live her life anymore. 

She was at this ice cream parlor, and it obviously meant nothing to them. They ate half of their ice cream and threw it away. For us, it was a huge treat. My children at every last bite of their ice cream, because they know that it will not happen again for quite some time. It occurred to me in that moment that I felt somewhat dead in my former life. We had everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. This new life will come with far less in the physical sense, but we are blooming as a new family unit. 

In case you are wondering if I have completely let go of my bikini bodybuilding training as we have navigated this new life, NOPE! I haven’t missed a single workout. I have lost more than 10 pounds since I began training. It has actually been wonderful to have a goal and a plan to focus on while the rest of my life is very uneasy at this time. Bragging? Not even close. I am simply telling you that when you make a decision for yourself that you are going to do something, you will move heaven, hell, and anything else that comes down your path to make it happen. 

It is going to be a long, bumpy, and windy road until this is over and I can look back and laugh. That said, I am going to strap myself and my babies in and enjoy this ride. I feel alive for the first time in so many years. I feel free to breathe, to exist, and to be. 

Living my Life, 

Raphaela