– There’s a gift shop in town that I walk or drive by almost every day. Outside the shop they have a chalk sign with a countdown of how many shopping days are left until Christmas. Today is said 41. Forty one days! I always find myself thinking around this time each year that I have plenty of time to figure out what I want to give my family, only to find myself with very little time left and virtually no ideas.

Michael is the kind of “I don’t want anything”, which is guy speak for “I haven’t really thought about it, but if you give me some time I’ll probably come up with something. Like, three days before Christmas.” I used to be great at avoiding this by listening and more importantly, remembering, things he mentioned during the year, so I was great at surprising him. I LOVE surprises. I hate knowing what is inside those pretty wrapped boxes on Christmas morning until they’re opened. I think that’s still the kid in me. But even more than that, I love surprising others and seeing them happy over something I gave them. It’s really about the giving after all, isn’t it?

This year, however, he hasn’t mentioned anything! At least not anything that would qualify as a surprise. So I have (according to the sign) 41 days to figure it out. What are you getting your significant other? Any ideas I can hijack?

– I despise the phrase “You look tired.” Hate it. Because really, there are only two scenarios that go along with it.

One, you’re not tired. Not even a little. In fact, you feel bright and spritely, and you put on some makeup that day and did your hair and think you look super cute. And then someone has to point out that you look tired, which is really just a nicer way of saying “You look like poo”, and you wonder what the point was in getting all dolled up if you’re just going to look like poo tired.

Or two, you actually are tired, because you worked all week, or were up with the baby a couple of times during the night or are just, well, TIRED. In this case, they’re just pointing out the obvious by saying you look tired, which is really just a nicer way of saying “You look like poo”, and gee, thanks. That’s very nice of you.

And it’s not like we go around saying “You look fat today”, because that would be considered flat-out mean. Instead, we sugar-coat it and call it “tired”. Because “tired” is OK.

– Lately I’ve been having a crazy craving for chicken and dumplings. I think I’ve actually had it once in my life — way back in high school at Cracker Barrel — so I don’t know where this craving is coming from. I have no recollection about how it tastes, but it my head it sounds delicious. I did a quick web search for a recipe, and a lot call for cream of celery or chicken soup and that’s kind of turning me off to the idea. Is this actually a good dish, or am I just making it up? Is there a better way to make it without using condensed soup?

– Every time I put Owen in his play walker or Bumbo seat, he inevitably poops up his back. I’ve done a lot of laundry lately. Just thought I’d share. Maybe I’ll start telling him he looks tired after he does it. It’s much nicer than telling him he’s covered in poo.