Browsing Tag



How the strep stole Christmas

December 29, 2017

We have been positively drowning in holiday cheer over here. Well, holiday cheer and the white-hot throat daggers of strep. Both, equally and with the exact same amount of dedication. With just 5 days till Christmas, my true loves gave to me …

4 sweats and shivers,
3 blades to gargle,
2 swollen lymph nodes
And a bug that left me feeling shitty.

But it came in tasteful, shiny wrapping paper, so, ya know …

Being sick this time of year is such a treat, because there are so many sophisticated films to take in (i.e. the Christmas Prince) (But, for real though, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and a brutal fever is the perfect way to sweat out some of those Christmas confections you’ve been stuffing into your mouth hole.

As the mother, finding yourself bedridden for two days before the jolliest weekend of the year is not unlike playing Ebenezer Scrooge in a local church production of A Christmas Carol. You’re a ghost, looking in as your spouse carries on dutifully in your absence. This is what baths would be like if you weren’t around. This is what the dinner rush would be. This is how laundry would be folded. It would all march on without you; Slowly. Wrinkly. Whiney.

The chicks passed the ick like a filthy baton. Spike kicked it off strong, followed by JoJo, who was trailed, not far behind, by Sloppy Joan and myself, simultaneously. But it’s interesting how the sickness materialized, festered and then vacated each of their little bodies. I have found, in my eight years of mothering, that, when under the weather, my girls often fall into one of the following personas:

The Walter White.
This is the kid who leaves for school in the morning smiling and talking about weekend plans and how wonderful their cinnamon toast is and comes back to you an hour later entirely deteriorated, a completely different person. This is the scenario that always brings the most passive aggressive school nurse shaming. You just know she’s wondering why you sent your kiddo off in such bad shape. Little does she know she was so good just 3 hours earlier.

The Jo March.
This is the kid who gets crazy emotional and affectionate when she’s sick. She talks about what a wonderful mom you are, how you should go and enjoy frozen yogurt without her, and how sad she is to be missing the opportunity to play with her sisters whilst she’s ill. Always with giant cartoon teardrops in the corners of her eyes and an endearing redness in her cheeks.

The Katniss Everdeen.
This is the kid who comes down with the ick, goes to your bed and sleeps for 48 hours, waking only for medicine and a drop of water. She goes into a self-induced coma to recoup and reemerges like a true badass. Classic Katniss.

The Sixth Sense.
This is the kid who, after just 24 hours, makes a miraculous recovery. She’s running around the house and jumping off the coffee table so you send her back to school. Three days later she comes home with a 103 temp and hot tamale tonsils. You just don’t see it coming!

We shook off the strep just in time for the major festivities. Unfortunately, the burning little bitch gave way to a barky, brutal cough that left all three chicks barfing in their sugar cookie-filled pie holes. Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like hacking over Grammy’s hamballs.

But we’re coming out on the other side now. I’m almost 90 percent sure of it. I took some time off, which I used almost exclusively to find homes for all the new shit we had stacked in our living room. This, of course, was only made possible by throwing away all of last year’s new shit. The thing that truly scares me is that year by year, gift by gift, all of these treasures are finding a nook and a cranny in my home. But my home isn’t exactly getting bigger, right? So eventually I feel like I’m just going to wake up in FAO Schwarz. My house is slowly morphing into the apartment from Big. The toys are taking over and their army is mounting by the minute.

Anyway, with all the Amoxicillin flying around I didn’t get a chance to really wish all of you who spend 10 minutes a week with me on here a warm and Instagram-worthy holiday. I hope it was filled with warm cinnamon rolls and cocoa, lots of smiles around the tree and at least one thing you truly wanted for yourself.

Much like the strep, I’m ready to shake 2017 off like a labrador comin’ out of a car wash. Let’s rally and kick some ass in the new year.

Try That With Matt

Try that with Matt. Have a Hupe Holiday

December 23, 2016

Getting through the marathon and final 100 yard dash of the holidays is challenging enough. Instead of something new, we’re looking back on our treasured traditions. Hope you don’t mind.


The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, plastic figurines litter the yard, Dolly Parton’s holiday radio is at the top of my Pandora stations … ‘Tis the season to be Merry! (That’s my name. No shit.)

First, for those of you who don’t know my family, they’re a little bit crazy when it comes to Christmas. I mean, I didn’t come up with the saying, “Have a Hupe Holiday!” own my own. The joys of Christmas run deep, on both sides of the family. DSS ordered a favorite Christmas memory, but I opted to reflect on this magical time of year while Home Alone is on in the background.

My grandpa Hupe put up outdoor lights and figurines. My uncles, my dad … it’s legit in our blood. Kids, don’t you want a house you can be proud of? Sure you do! I could tell you plenty of stories about helping Dad, testing bulbs, getting figurines out of the attic, making an annual trip to the Christmas section to find what would be the new additions to the yard. Our operation was no joke, people. Let me put this in perspective for you. One year I brought a couple buddies to help us execute the display. My sister and I got into a disagreement about where Santa No. 11 should go and Jolly Ole Saint Nick, aka Big Rog, gave me my walking papers. His exact words were, “Matt, get your friends and get the hell outta here!” I am still the only person in the family to be kicked out of Christmas decorating. It’s that serious.

I took the knowledge I absorbed over the years with the old man and applied it to my own home. After countless hours spent bulb checking, circuit blowing, figurine staking, it became second nature. And I’m happy to report that in my second year as a homeowner I was awarded first place for my display by the neighborhood association. It was a major award! I know my grandpa was looking down, proud and probably noticing which little lights were out.

On Mom’s side, the Christmas crazy comes through in baking, ham balls, taco dip and sentimental gifts. Every year, for as long as I can remember, we’ve gathered at my folks’ on Christmas Eve to shovel all kinds of calorie-loaded, butter-soaked goodies into our fat faces and get our cheer cranked up. I have so many memories here, from my uncle’s parents having a snore off that was caught on camcorder. (It was the 80s, so you know it was the kind that made you look like a local news reporter when you propped it on your shoulder.) To my aunt giving me a Christmas peanut one year because I was supposedly bad (I don’t buy it.) Or the annual butt shot of the oldest sister, who’s the designated Santa, as she climbs around pulling gifts out from under the tree. My mom has three sisters. They’ve collected an ornament every single year for God only knows how long, so there is always the opening of the ornaments, which signals the grand finale. Oh, and how could I forget … there’s always the one gift that someone gets that makes all of them cry … and they all cry the same. It’s a packed house, full of family, food, drinks and shuffling from room to room to avoid hearing the same story eight times. It’s our tradition and to me it’s the moment Christmas begins.

Trying to think of a favorite Christmas memory isn’t easy. There’s just too many options. I mean, I got my dog Babe for Christmas and she meant the world to me (I think she rides next to Santa in his sleigh now), DSS got engaged on Christmas morning, I got an Atari for Christmas … How can you narrow down a field like that? Well you can’t. It’s impossible. My favorite memories have nothing to do with gifts and honestly every memory is a treasure. It’s seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces to see what Santa brought this year. And the excitement on my mom’s face as she tries to focus her special eyes on what in the hell her grandkids are opening and hoping that they love it. It’s getting together with my dad and my uncles and listening to them belly laugh for hours. It’s having breakfast with my family Christmas morning while my old man seeks everyone’s approval for the new casseroles he whipped up. It’s listening to my aunts talk about health issues, recipes and grandkids, and having some drinks and cracking up with my cousins.

Christmas is so special because it brings out our inner kid. We all have that one memory of that one gift that just took things to the next level. How did Santa know? So embrace your inner kid this Christmas, enjoy your family, your friends, tell that stranger you hold the door for Merry Christmas, sing as loud as you want on Christmas Eve at church … because you know what, when Santa squeezes his fat ass down that chimney this year, why shouldn’t he see the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse? Oh, and if he happens to have a little beagle with big ears with him, give her some love for me, would you?

Merry Christmas to you and your family! Enjoy every second of it.

Love, Just Matt


I am a Christmas junkie. I live for the high of giving the perfect gift, the rush of sneaking things under the tree and the dizzy delight of too many treats chased with cream-drunk coffee. My family knows these instant gratifications will be followed by a sad yuletide crash, complete with 48-hour stretches in the same sweats, a dent in the couch from my cheeseball-lovin’ lard ass and loads of seasonal self deprecation.

Truly if you don’t like Christmas, I fear you are dead inside. Black. Hollow. Cold. Dead. Just know that if you tell me you aren’t that into it, these are the thoughts I’m having.

When I close my eyes I can feel the still, quiet buzz of anticipation in the room. My nose fills with the plastic film of wrapping paper and the punched up pungent aroma of pine. It’s like the tree knows this is it, the big show. I love all of it … well, almost all of it. I could do without shopping and cleaning for company.

The memories are deep and long, and each is too precious to push aside. There was the year my brother fell down the stairs as we went searching for Santa and I thought he was dead. The year my sister ate all the chocolate in her stocking and barfed all over Mom’s new couch. Getting dolled up in big fancy Christmas dresses and singing Sandi Patty. My dad’s matching jammie sets. The year my brother had mono and slept through the whole thing. Me and Hank’s first Christmas as a married couple, and our first Christmas as parents.

And while I don’t like to play favorites, and seldom do (that’s a lie), I would be remiss not to take this opportunity to relive the morning Hank asked me to marry him.

Mairlyn don’t play when it comes to Christmas. Though we’d been together for five years, my boyfriend had never been to our family Christmas. That was Mom’s rule. As Matt said earlier, everyone who drove past our home during December knew how the Hupes felt about the holiday. The same could be said for anyone who stepped inside. Garland and stuffed Santas and bowls of striped candies covered every wall, every surface, every banister. So when my sister said she wanted to go get extra decorations for the family room, I was a little surprised. But she’s a Hupe by blood, so I went with it.

We were about 30 minutes into opening gifts on Christmas morning when Hank walked into the entryway just outside the family room. I saw him and had one thought and one thought only: Who died?

I knew Hank and I were going to get married from the day we met. It was really just a matter of when. We talked about it from time to time and he always said the same thing. “I would never ask on a major holiday or when I know you’re expecting it.” No ring at the bottom of a glass of champagne on Valentine’s Day. No princess cut peeking out of an anniversary souffle. And absolutely, without a doubt, 100 percent no Christmas. And so, when I saw him there, with the most sober face I’d ever seen him wear, I immediately went to death.

Of course the only thing dying was my bachelorettehood. When I walked back into the room, ring on the right finger, my brother was crying. Turns out he and I were the only ones who didn’t know this was coming. Everyone else had been in on it. And Hank got to stay for Christmas. He was officially locked in. I remember how my heart dropped, and then quickened and then swelled. It was a Christmas to remember and I’ll never forget.

I wish you all a weekend filled with tons of twinkle lights, magical moments and giggling children. May their naps be lengthy and their meltdowns be minor. And above all, I wish you peace and … you guessed it, wholeheartedness in the new year.

Love, Courtney


Merry Marilyn and her bag of tricks

December 27, 2015

I’ve managed to pull myself out of my sugar cookie coma just long enough to piece together a blog post before the week runs out. This is not a drill, people. Today alone I’ve consumed 2 snickerdoodles, 2 chocolate mint cookies and 4 peanut butter Frosted Flakes candies. I hope your Christmas was full of family, food and chaos, just like ours. At 6, 4 and 1, the kids were so into it this year and it just made for so much fun. Candy the elf was here with her typical shenanigans and, for the first time, I set an alarm but didn’t have to go wake up the girls. The sound of those excited little feet, followed by, “He came! Oh my gosh, Santa came!” made my ovaries wink up at me with that familiar ache of fleeting bliss. It was the sweetest. (The girls, not the ovary wink.)


But as much as I feel like I get through the season with some successes – ignoring the fact that I’ve never gotten Christmas cards out the door and didn’t roll sugar cookies of my own for the second consecutive year – I always find myself in awe of the master of the holiday, my mom. I was born from Mother Christmas and she is as legit as they come when it comes to jivin with the holly jolly.

Here are a few things I’ve observed in my time watching her in action.

The more the merrier.
I’ve mentioned the Grand Lighting Ceremony and a bit about the outdoor decorations, but truly, my parents’ house is a joyful joint in its entirety come November 29. I don’t know where she keeps all this stuff the rest of the months, but once the turkey goes in the fridge, every beam is garnished with garland, every cabinet topped with a stuffed Santa and his pals, every light adorned with ornaments. When your dwelling is deemed the “Christmas house” I suppose you acquire a lot of yuletide knickknacks. It makes sense. But it’s during this time, when her home is dripping in glitter and gifted craft show Santas, that my mom seems most comfortable in her house. And I love the smell … like sticky kids and cinnamon pinecones.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 7.11.01 PM

Be the classic. Let others experiment.
My mom always hosts at least two, often three, Christmas gatherings at her house every year. The amount of food this woman churns out makes my wallet, back and stomach hurt. Rows of slow cookers brimming with simmering meatballs, ham balls, chili cheese dip, macaroni and cheese, and wings. Platters of rye bread, cheese and meat. Ham sandwiches and homemade vegetable dip on the relish tray. As impressive as the quantity of it is, the menu is constant from year to year. She has mastered her holiday spread and thus, her plan of attack the day before and morning of the party. People look forward to her predictable fare and never get bored because everyone else brings different sides and desserts. Every Christmas is deliciously familiar with some new things to nosh on as well. Genius.

Get a list and then get creative.
I can remember, when I was a young girl, my mom would give me the catalogs that came in the mail and a marker and I would go to town. I’d circle things I liked and triple circle the ones I had to have. No doubt three circles, pressing hard with the marker, was unspoken code for, “Put this one next to my new Popple, yo.” Guaranteed, on Christmas morning I would get my most-treasured catalog callouts but also, a handful of the most thoughtful surprises. Things I didn’t even think of, but I was so glad Santa did. A classic is the year Mom got a beagle puppy for my brother. She hid the dog for at least a week, often right under Matt’s completely unsuspecting nose. Christmas morning, she has him close his eyes and plops this precious little pup down in his lap. I swear the giant smiled the most sincere, most surprised grin I’ve ever seen. It was like holiday urban legend. It was my maternal role model at her finest. She conditioned me to go for the big moment. Now, as a mom, I have to have at least one thing for everyone in my family that they weren’t expecting and, upon seeing it, realize they can’t live without.It’s an exhaustive pursuit, but when it works out, it’s like Christmas crack. I know a lot of folks like to give their loved one a list with very specific links to very specific products in very specific colors. I dabble in that, but I still love the unpredictable presents. It’s a Marilyn move, and it’s pimp, to deliver a Christmas miracle for someone you love, especially when they never saw it coming.

Holiday albums on fleek.
Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, the Judds and Sandi Patty. Those are the CDs that magically pop into the shuffle every December at Mom and Dad’s. Just a few notes into “A Christmas to Remember,” with Dolly’s sweet, sugary voice popping from the speakers and I am all in for holly and twinkle lights.

Throw a blanket on it.
When it comes to the packages under the tree at my family’s Christmas, three things are guaranteed: 1) My mom will have at least 5 gifts with no name on them that she then has to open herself to hand out to the proper owner. 2) At least one person will get a gift that makes them sob like a little holiday bitch. (This year it was a hand-painted portrait of Mom’s dog, Buddy, who she lost last year.) and 3) Childlike excitement will build around the giant gifts in the corner with blankets thrown over them. Sometimes it’s a big ticket item, sometimes it’s a laundry basket. You just never know. And that’s the joy of the blanket. In the end it doesn’t matter what’s under the blanket. It serves its purpose by populating hype. It’s a mind game and she’s the master.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 7.09.35 PM

Be Scrooge at the end of the movie.
From Christmas Eve through Christmas night, my madre’s merry spirit makes all of us feel so grateful and giddy and lovey. She is so generous and so thoughtful but doesn’t make a show of it. She just wants to watch everyone enjoy her hard work. She doesn’t even open her own presents until the kids are already playing with theirs. Since having kids of my own, I get it. I gather more jollies from my family’s reactions when they open something special than I do from anything someone could pick up for me at a store. I feel nostalgic about the season and people and the traditions. I see Christmas through my mother’s eyes and it’s beautifully simple and worth all the hard work. God bless us, everyone.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 7.10.17 PM

Happy holidays, everybody. Let’s all meet back here in time to make some New Year’s resolutions and revaluate these bad dietary decisions, shall we?