Sunday, December 25, 2011


I sat down to write a year-end thing, and looking through what I posted for 2011 just depressed me.  I need to vow that 2012 will not be like this.  I have to snap out of this... I don't even know what to call it.  I'm lost.  I have to wake up!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So much to say, and yet I don't say it

1.  Paul.  He was accepted into the full-time gifted program at a different elementary school.  He was also officially diagnosed with ADHD, most likely a result of neurological damage from his premature birth.  Because he wasn't really thriving at the school he attended from K to 3rd (partially the fault of the ADHD, I know), I decided to take the opportunity and switched him.  We also began experimenting on him like a little guinea pig with ADHD medications.  The first one was a failure, with negligible results.  Next up, amphetamines - generic for Adderall.  The difference is astounding.   Homework formerly took all night, with Paul getting up from his desk and wandering away every ten minutes if I wasn't right there to nag him back at it.  Most nights he wouldn't finish.  I reacted very badly on more than one occasion, and it killed any hopes of us ever having any weeknight family activities.  It was awful and crippling.  He's been on the amphetamines for a week now, and homework gets done cheerfully and quickly, he finishes most of his work in class, he finishes tests within the allotted time.  We've gone to the hot tub more than one night.  Next week I might let him start going back to Cub Scouts (we couldn't afford the spare time before).  Tonight he finished his homework and then happily spent hours drawing pictures of Phineas & Ferb characters.  I don't even have words for my joy.  I may cry once I accept that it's all real.  There are side effects, but nothing hideous so far.  The most notable difference is that now he will talk my ear off if I let him.

2.  Eli.  Everything comes easily for him.  I have no doubt he'll be identified as gifted, since I guesstimate his IQ is 130 at a minimum.  He learns fast, draws conclusions based on the evidence he observes and infers, has tons of friends.  Everything that is difficult and hard-fought for Paul is natural and thoughtless for him.  As a result, he is the more neglected of the two.  I am so very, very grateful to have a child who I don't worry about.  Eli is still willful at times, but he is so drastically improved from the wild savage that he was before.  He is already a straight-A student, even correcting mistakes in the homework he is assigned. Paul (and I really do weep for joy about this), instead of being jealous, is as proud as can be of his brother.  Their love for each other, even though they fight like wild dogs at times, gives me hope that I'm not the worst mother ever.  An example of how much E loves P:  Paul hates speaking in front of people, so when we were practicing for the annual children's program at church, Paul was full of anxiety and clung to me, crying that he did not want to perform his part.  Eli came up, asked why Paul was sad, and when I explained it to him said, "Don't worry Paul, I'll say your parts."  I admit, I got weepy. 

There is more, but I'm out of time for the night.  Next time, band news.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cruel, CRUEL! Cruel Summer...

My little sis was naggin' me, and I occasionally listen to her, so here's a summary of summer.

1. Just before school was out, my cousin (once removed) Allyne came from China to hang out with me for a week or so.  We spent some time getting her essential supplies that she can't get in China, but then we tried to do some cultural stuff too.  We drove into LA, saw the Street Art exhibit at MOCA (which was cool, even if the Times Art review was pretty scathing), ate awesome Japanese pastries and stopped in Cerritos for Indian food.  Fun Fact:  Allyne had her senior prom this year (in China), and I went to a prom for grown-ups (here in the USA).  We wore the same dress, completely by accident.

2.  Cub Scout Day Camp.  5 days of wild Cub Scout toomfoolery for Paul.

3.  The Annual Clemens Family Beach Campout.  It's the same every year - seven days at San Clemente State Beach with D's family.   This year I packed my bike, and that was a very nice sanity saver.  I rode all the way down to the end of San Onofre SP & back, but didn't go down Trail 6 to see if there were any nude activists down at the beach. ;)  I also rode the bike route through San C.  There are some lovely charity shops and I always enjoy my treasure hunts through them.

4.  Had a couple of gigs thrown in between other stuff.  Oh, there's band news, but I'll get to that after summer!

5.  Drove to Arizona with the boys.  My China cousins were going to be there, and I hadn't seen them in ages.  The drive out was rotten (took closer to 12 hours than 9!) and then I woke up the next day with a fever while staying at my friend Nicole's house.  Her Russian mother-in-law took care of me (which meant feeding me a great deal of dairy products and hot herbal teas) as I shivered miserably under blankets on the couch.  I went outside in the 100+ degree weather and felt comfortable, that's how feverish I was!  I owe them a really, really nice thank-you gift. I managed to recover enough to drive to my Aunt & Uncle's small ranch in southeast AZ.  We stayed for a few days and the boys had a grand time being spoiled by Uncle Reed, riding horses and eating homemade ice cream and Aunt Karen's beloved tacos.  Dan flew in for the weekend and got to visit with everybody. Then we headed back to the Phoenix area and stayed a night with my Unitarian minister activist friend Carolina and her new husband Jim (who's a peach), and Carolina's adult son John.  Lovely times. 

After Dan flew home I went up to stay with STEPHANIE for a few days.  Steph and I have been friends for a looooong time, she's as loyal as they come and I adore her.  The boys played with her little Annie and we thrift-shopped and made delicious food and were just comfortable.  I had dinner with Cynde, who I hadn't seen for probably fifteen years, and her handsome husband.  Then, the China Contingent came in and I drove back to the ranch with them.  I drove to Fort Thomas to see where my Grandma Mabel lived as a little girl, then to Morenci (which is, I kid you not, a mining company town in the middle of nowhere) to visit my cousin Julie and finally see her daughter.  Then I had an amusing misadventure finding Uncle Reed's family cabin.  All ended well and we had a delightful night reading excerpts from Twilight to each other until we broke down in giggles.  I drove back with Lee, Allyne and Emma in the car with me - Eli was the only male there and I realized how sad I am that I have so few female friends close by.  I have so few opportunities to be girly.

Drove home through Yuma so I could visit my beloved  Unca J & Aunt Joan.  Then, while driving through the Imperial Valley (which is a hot, hot desert), the A/C quit.  I had frozen bottles of water in the cooler and bandannas in the glove box, so we tied wet bandannas around our heads and held frozen bottles to our necks and survived.  I tied mine under my chin and felt like a glamour girl from the 50's.  Except for the sweat.

6.  Had about three days to recover from AZ and get packed for a week-long family backpacking trip.  E stayed at Gramma's, and D, P, and me all hiked the Rae Lakes Loop

We had allotted eight days for it, but P was a complete rockstar and we did it in less than six days.  He wanted to stay at Gramma's house, dangit, and if he had to hike farther every day to achieve that goal, then he would! And he did.  It was great and exhausting and deserves a post of its own.

Then we had about two weeks before school started.  We were mostly very lazy, and it was lovely.

How was your summer?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hoo Boy

The dining room/office is mostly complete.  Not settled into yet, but assembled and installed.  It's not as elegant as I had hoped for, but after getting a quote of over $800 for two cabinets from a local shop, I'm still glad we'ev mostly cheaped out.

I've been culling and culling and will probably cull more.  We got an "inspection report" from the management service here at the park, and I spent hours and hours cleaning up the yard and trying to address the things they were nitpicking with us about.  When they re-inspected, they just left me a xerox of their original report!  I was peeved, and I still am.  

I have removed all the geraniums and privet hedges from the west side of the house.  I decided we couldn't afford the custom metal trellises, so I'm building them out of wood.  I've also removed all the gravel from the northwest corner of our lot and will build a 8'x11'x6" cedar box, fill it with the dirt I'm going to remove from our perimeter, level it and make a flat patio area where we can have chairs & a table. 

I planted flowers along our picket fence - penstemon, sweet peas, hollyhocks, larkspur, zinnia, salvia, coreopsis.  They look very pretty.  I found four large eggplant-purple planters at a a local discount store and I put them along the front porch.  They've been planted with eggplant, peppers, New Zealand spinach, tomatillos and chard.  I tucked flowers in-between and behind them.  The yard itself is just dirt (I'll seed it with Eco Lawn in November), with one raised bed (planted with peppers and some kale that miraculously hasn't gone to seed yet).  I planted tomatoes along the fence and they are coming up beautifully. 

Inside, there is still soooooo very much to be done.  I need to be even more ruthless than before, and I need to stop being so very, very lazy.  Progress is slow, but it's still happening. 

I am struggling with whether or not to send Paul back to school for fourth grade.  The psych evaluation told me what I already pretty much knew - he's classic ADHD and very smart.  She has suggested that we try neurofeedback, which our insurance will miraculously cover.  NFB is unproven, but it is also harmless, and I'm tempted to try it.  Medication is also an option.  I haven't made a choice yet.

I have no worries about Eli.  Kindergarten was great for him and for me.  He's come such a long way and the wild animal that he was is disappearing, replaced by a charming boy who has just the appropriate level of mischief.  Now if I can keep them from each other's throats all summer, we'll have a grand time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Funk

It was not the worst funk I've ever had, but it certainly put the kibosh on my getting much of anything accomplished.  I've been an emotional skeleton crew for the last month or so, and I'm just starting to wake up from it.

Things are going nicely with the band.  We've had two paying gigs so far and eventually I'll break even on my investments.  The pay is miserable but that's not why I'm doing it - it's an outlet and a growth opportunity, plus I genuinely like Dave & Dan and it's fun to hang out with them once a week and play & sing.  We are still searching for a drummer - the first one was a friend of Dave's who felt he wasn't ready to be playing live just yet and had to drive too far anyway, and the second we had for about a month.  He was the best of the drummers who tried out with us, but he gradually started creeping us out and for me the final straw was when he showed up at our Farmer's Market gig with a porn star sticker on his bass drum.  Yuck.  There were little girls sitting right in front of us while we played.  It wasn't an explicit image, but it was objectification and the implications were obvious.  I was mortified.  Luckily the guys also had misgivings about him and ended it. 

We went on the annual Grand Canyon backpacking trip.  Paul was great, a real seasoned pro.  Eli did a great job with the hiking, but not such a great job with the personal cleanliness and bathroom aspects.  He's just not ready for long hiking trips, so we've decided that he won't be going on our week-long trip this summer.

OK, that's all I have in me for now.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I've been attempting to ward off a deep blue funk, plus our computer is down.  I'm doing everything through D's laptop, which I do not enjoy.  I've been immersing myself in undemanding fiction and trying to keep things light, so there isn't much to tell, really.  The office is now about 85% put together; the last few steps are my responsibility and I've slacked a bit while fighting off the sadness.  It will be done very soon.

The band has had two very low-key performances so far, which went well.  I think I am finally relaxing into the role.  We've been auditioning drummers and have found a fellow who really knows what he's doing.  The question is - will he stick with us?  Since we are an original band we don't make the kind of money cover bands can.  I'm not in it for money, so it's of little importance to me, but when we first auditioned him he indicated he was accustomed to $50 a gig at minimum, which he will not make with us.  Dave (guitarist) made that clear, but the drummer has come back to rehearse with us since then so we shall see.

We still haven't installed new windows.  We've had two quotes, one very reasonable but I have an instinctual dislike of the business owner.  The other quote was 3 times the price, and again I felt a great aversion to the salesman.  But I need to get the trellis installed NOW if I want to grow anything worthwhile on it for the summer.  The trellises will look more or less like this:

They'll be 12 or so feet tall and span the front of the house, which I think is about 24 feet or so.  I was thinking about having them powder-coated in a deep raspberry color, because when we replace the window trim I want to paint the new trim a deep saturated purple.  I'll keep the house white, paint the front door raspberry as well, and maybe the porch railings in the deep purple.  Of course, if the HOA says no then I have to come up with a new plan.  Grumble, grumble.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Am Not Exactly an Urban Homesteader

For the benefit of my friends who don't follow the urban homesteading movement, a quick explanation:  a family in Pasadena that has been doing wonderful work on educating about self-sufficiency and urban agriculture has suddenly suffered from some kind of fit of self-importance and decided to trademark the phrase "urban homestead" and a few other related phrases.  They have sent threatening letters to a number of bloggers, news websites, and the authors of the book "The Urban Homestead."  This has caused quite a tempest in the urban homesteading community and there is a campaign underway to flood the sphere with the dubiously trademarked phrases.  Here's my contribution.

I am not really an urban homesteader.  First off, I live in about as sub-urban a town as you're ever going to find.  Second, because I live in an incredibly expensive suburban area and have chosen to be a stay-at-home mother, we own a manufactured home on a very small lot.  Third, we've only owned the place for a few months and I am starting from scratch, so aside from two 4'x8' raised beds (that don't get enough sun and are only partially planted so far) and a fence full of pea vines, we're not even close to producing one dinner's worth of vegetables.  There are a lot of plans, and someday you'll all be amazed at what comes out of my tiny patch of dirt, but for now I am at square one.

However, my heart is in this thing 100%.  There is an indescribable glory in knowing that you're responsible for nurturing something you're going to eat.  The peas started flowering this week, and that's immensely satisfying.  The broccoli florets are small but growing.  Once we get the windows replaced in front, I'm going to have a trellis made that will span the whole front of the house, which is west-facing.  The trellis will be used to grow climbing squash, runner beans, indeterminate tomatoes and maybe even nasturtiums (which are edible too!).  It will shade my house and save me from the temptation to use the air conditioner.  

I'm not a novice at this - I had an extensive vegetable garden and a flock of eight chickens when we were renting a house for a couple of years.  I learned from books and websites and my own mistakes.  I learned nothing from the Dervaes family - the folks who have started this little storm with a misguided attempt to monopolize a movement they have no right to control. I never found their website all that helpful, although I appreciate that they offer classes & tours, I'm too far away from them to take advantage. I'm not angry at them, just puzzled by the belief that a movement can be trademarked and owned.  The idea of urban homesteading isn't new - people have had kitchen gardens and brewed their own drinks and raised chickens in cities for pretty much as long as there have been cities.  So I fervently hope that this dispute gets settled on the side of fairness & openness, not on the side of ownership and intimidation.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Knock It Off

Enough whining.  The desks are finally coming together.  I ordered the desktops (two 96"x30" solid-core doors), bought four drawer units and one generic cabinet from IKEA, and requested a custom quote for the one cabinet that's been bedeviling us - we want pull-out shelves for the printer & scanner.  The IKEA junk looks like this:

Each one of us gets our own drawer unit, and the cabinet will hold our network server.  The desktops will arrive next week and I am chomping at the bit to get the desks set up.

We also finally broke down and bought a new sink & faucet.  Our current faucet leaks (we knew about this from the inspection and bargained accordingly) and the sink is pretty shallow (none of my cookware can be machine-washed), so Dan finally got fed up with it.  The new sink is white granite composite and looks like this:
The left side is 10 inches deep!  Heaven.  And the new faucet:

There's still a lot to be done, but getting the office together will be such a relief.  I'm more excited about that than anything else.

Band-related news: we have our first gig this Saturday as part of the Santa Ana Art Walk.  It's going to rain, so the audience will probably be minimal.  BUT it's a low-key, low-pressure gig that will give me some live experience before we start working harder for better gigs.  I've been trying to figure out what to wear all week.

Paul news:  We had a meeting with the school psychologist, the RSP teacher, Paul's teacher and the immersion speech pathologist this week.  The school district is already in violation of the law, since I submitted a request for assessment and they have not provided me with any paperwork within 15 days of my request.  Sigh.  I'm patient for now, but I was told I would be e-mailed a questionnaire and that has not happened yet, so I will soon hit a low simmer.   We have also received approval for 10 hours of testing through our insurance, and Paul spent about 1.5 hours this week with our private psych.  Her preliminary assessment is that he's a gifted child (duh) with "classic ADHD."  I dispute the H part, because I think Paul was just excited to be out of school and having a new and interesting experience.  I've seen no hyperactivity at home and his teacher also is very firm that there are no hyperactivity issues at school.  He just mentally floats away.  I'll fight that minor battle later and just let the assessments continue for now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It Were Me Birthday

I took the day off yesterday and went to Glen Ivy Hot Springs with me mum.  I have never been to a spa in my life, but they let you in free on your birthday so we went and sat in the stinky sulfur mineral pools and I smeared clay on myself and rinsed it off in another stinky pool and wasted some money on a facial (It felt nice, but I'm not sure it was worth it) and sat in more hot pools.  Then I scooped up the boys & Dan & my dear friends the Wilsons (who are contemplating abandoning us for Idaho, which I am attempting to be gracious about) and forced them all to try a new Afghan restaurant that just opened a few blocks from us. 

If you know me well, you know that I have certain struggles with church.  We have friends at church, but not really FRIENDS - you know, the kind of friends you call just to call and you really start to miss if you haven't seen them for a week and who think to call you if they're doing something they think you'd like to do with them.  And then Connie & Darrell moved in and we hit it off, not just individually but as a couple and it's been so frigging awesome to have FRIENDS for the last year & a half. Connie will never read this (I adore her but she's just not into reading blogs), so I can agonize about them leaving without fear that she'll see this and feel guilty.  A tantalizing job opportunity for Darrell has appeared in Idaho and I can't blame them for thinking really hard about taking it if it's offered.  It's looking like a strong possibility it might happen.  So I'm struggling with a wee bit of agony.  Heck, Connie is struggling with a wee bit of agony!    I'm trying not to think about how lonely it will be to have them gone and trying to figure out how on earth we're going to find anybody to fill that void.  It's going to suck.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Family Man

I read two webcomics - Hark! A Vagrant and Family Man.

If you like historical/literary humor and don't mind the occasional curse word, check out Hark!  Kate Beaton, the author, sends me into fits of giggles very frequently.  Don't read it with curious kids in the room.

Family Man is blowing me away.  If you aren't scared off by the fact that it's about a Jewish Christian semi-atheist theologian living in eastern Europe circa 1768 and the story is destined to segue into realms of the supernatural, then start reading it here.  Her artwork starts out a little rough and the Jewish nose is deliberately exaggerated.  But it's fascinating and thought-provoking and the footnotes are wonderful. Oh, and her style has matured with time and her art is becoming absolutely sublime.  To wit:

Monday, January 31, 2011

Now Available in a Mojo-Free Edition

Meh.  I am feckless.

I've figured out what we're doing about the desktops.  They'll be slab doors, 30"x96", birch hardboard which I'll stain white & varnish.  Cabinets?  No solution yet. 

I haven't wanted to bore you to tears, so blogging is slow for now.  It will pick up when I have wonderful exciting things to show you.  Someday.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why I Love Paul

Paul had his initial appointment with the psychologist, and she needed to question him without me in the room, so I went outside and sat at the door so I could eavesdrop.  I don't leave my child alone with strangers, even if they have Ph.D's.  She got to the subject of school and asked him what he doesn't like about his school, and he gave her a few reasonable answers.  Then she asked him what he likes about school.

Paul: "I really like that everybody can go to my school."

Psych: "What do you mean?"

Paul: "You know - people used to have to go to different schools, and they had to use different drinking fountains.  I'm glad it isn't like that anymore, and everybody can go to my school."

Of course he completely missed what she was getting at, but I just melted a little bit listening to what a sweet heart he has.  What a good kid.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


So I sing now for this band. I'd tell you the name and give you the MySpace link, except we're considering finding a new name and all the songs on the page are still recordings of the previous singer, and you're all fans of ME anyway.  The old name was the one they used when they were a cover band, and since they want to focus on original songs they feel a new name may be in order. Band names are tricky, but I welcome your ideas.

And we may have our first gig.  It's really low-key, an art gallery in Santa Ana is having an open house and we'd play for around an hour.  But it's less than a month away and putting together an hour of music is actually a lot of work.  I think we can handle it, it just means putting together a set list and rehearsing the list only until we feel ready.

It's fun, this band thing.  It's challenging and gets me out of the house.  I don't really know how to describe the sound.  Vintage rock & roll with influences from folk, swing, blues & jazz.  I get to sing many different styles and intensity levels, and we have a LOT of harmony - Dave, the guitarist, sings as well and some of our stuff is downright lovely.  I occasionally get the chills in rehearsal.  Dave thought "The Chills" would be a cool band name, but we're not a beatnik band, baby!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Sweet progress. Dan & I installed three wall cabinets yesterday that run the length of one of the dining room walls.  The remaining three should be installed today. They are just cookie-cutter in-stock cabinets from Home Despot, but the price was right and they actually look very nice. I'll customize them later with knobs and maybe a little paint special effects.  Here's a stock photo:

We got some really promising ideas for the desktop - apparently we can special-order laminate countertops in whatever depth we want, which is AWESOME because the stuff I thought would work from Ikea turned out to be the wrong dimensions. Yay!

I want a pattern, because the desktops will inevitably end up getting pencil marks & other smudges on them. So I'm leaning toward a subtle vintage pattern from Formica called VirrVarr:


I'll probably end up going with the first one. In the brochure the second print is much bluer, and I'm trying to keep the workspaces as neutral as possible. I'll add color with paint & accessories, and I  want the workspaces to visually retreat, not overwhelm the room. I want my grandmother's lovely table & chairs to be the focal point.

Against the third wall I will eventually have this armoire from Ikea, which will serve as a china, linen and sewing fabric cabinet:
 I know it's a lot of white, but I don't want to mix any more wood tones into the room. We already have a beautiful antique wood table & chairs, plus a different wood tone in the flooring. I think anything else large in a different wood tone would be too much. 

I still have no idea what color I'll paint the walls.  I plan on hanging whiteboards and making a custom Homasote bulletin board for the walls underneath the cabinets, so it remains to be seen how much of the actual walls will even show once I'm done with all of this.

Friday, January 14, 2011


What does it say about me that I really want to introduce all of my current statements with cursing?  I am a tired Mama.  I dropped out for this semester, it's an unnecessary class and I really have too many other irons in the fire just now.

This week I finally broke down and admitted that Paul needs the kind of help I just can't give him.  He saw a psychologist yesterday, after a particularly miserable day where he cried three times in class and his dear teacher finally asked me, "Have you considered that he might be ADD?"  The visit was actually encouraging.  She (the Dr.) thinks Paul's problem may be neurological and may stem from his prematurity (Some of you may not know that Paul was born 9 weeks early - it was awful, but Paul is awesome).  I've been wondering for a while if Paul's poor gross motor skills (can't ride a bike, can't hit a ball, etc.) might be a long-term effect from his birth, but I admit I had failed to tie the focus problem to that.  So we're waiting to see if our insurance company will approve further neurological testing.  Paul has really improved this year, but his difficulty in focusing on self-directed work is making him fall behind in school and is eating up our afternoons & evenings at home.

We're also searching for a physical discipline for the boys to pursue.  A non-aggressive martial art with an emphasis on self-control might be good.  We're also trying out a yoga class next week.  We'd love to get Paul & Dan a membership to a climbing gym, but the local one went out of business (damned recession) and the closest one now is 18 miles away and ridiculously expensive ($1200 a year for a family of three).  So $#@%.

Friday, January 07, 2011


OHMYGOSH.  I am pleased to report that we have come to a consensus on the office design.  I don't love it, but it will work and I can move forward with it.  Phew!

HOWEVER, another layer of work has asserted itself.  Our walls are not drywalled - they are super-groovy 1971-era 1/8-inch-thick wooden paneling.  They have been painted though, so they look pretty nice.  I had been waffling about maybe eventually drywalling the house, one of those "in the future" ideas.  Then, Monday night, our neighbor's house burned down.  Everybody got out alive, with only minor injuries.  But the house burned down so quickly it was stunning.  I mean, that thing just burned and burned and burned.  And burned and burned.  And I looked inside my house, at those 1/8-inch thick panels, and my first thought was "tinder."

So Tuesday I bought three new smoke/fire alarms, replaced all the batteries in the existing alarms, and bought two additional fire extinguishers - one for each bedroom.  Drywall and new windows (the one in the boys room would be difficult for them to escape through in a fire, because it's too high) have rocketed to the top of the list.  Soooooooo, today I'm pulling paneling off the walls in the dining room/office.  Tomorrow Dan will help me cut and install our first sheets of drywall.  I will hire out the taping & mudding, because that seems like the sort of thing you need experience for.  Then priming, then cabinet installation.  I'll paint after the cabinets are installed, becasue I'm going to use a super non-toxic paint that has to be special-ordered AND I haven't even picked out the colors yet!  I think we'll be able to get the whole office put together for about $1200 (not including the drywall costs), but we may have to split that up over two months.  The cabinets will come first (because they're on sale this month) and we'll make do with the tables we have until next month when we can put together everybody's workspace.

Monday, January 03, 2011


It's inevitable that the moment of discouragement comes, particularly for someone like me whose mind is often a maelstrom of feelings.  Most of the time I have the tempest contained, but obstacles and failures sometimes knock it loose a bit and then I struggle.

Christmas is always difficult.  Add in unpacking a house, mild disagreements on how to organize and what new furniture we need (which currently means a stalemate and an office/dining room that looks awful and depressing), kids fighting, a failed vacation, technical difficulties and other seemingly endless demands on my time, and I have reached a point of discourage. 

How do you rally yourself?  I've given up several unhealthy self-comforts lately, so I need ideas.