Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year in Review

Ah, 2008, you were a very good year. Tonight, Hugh, Jana, Chris and I will send you out in style, complete with champagne and dirty jokes told round the table while we engage in an epic battle of Pictionary.

Before I bid you my personal adieu, however, it seems only right and proper to look back on the events that made you.

January- Rang in the New Year in the company of good friends.

First month of the new job and, oh my god, what a learning curve. Looking back, I can laugh, at the time? Not so much.

February- The Man-Cub lost the election for Class Mayor but learned a good lesson about politics-bribery doesn’t always work but candy always makes an excellent bribe. Hugh made his first trip to the Big Show, the State Wrestling tournament. We could not have been more proud of him and, you know, a trip to Denver to shop and celebrate the Girl’s 12th birthday, score!

March- Attended my first Spring Market for the hardware store. I learned a lot, the most important thing being that I can, indeed, hang suspended thirty feet in the air over a crowd of hundreds of people without totally wetting my pants. Oh, and my husband has No Fear. Good to know.

I also learned that my foot is an anomaly which explains an awful lot about, well, nothing. But, hey! Extra bone! Cool.

April- Gave blood for the first time in several years, didn’t pass out. Did, however harbor bad thoughts about the phlebotomist; pretty sure I’m going to Hell for that.

May- Watched the Man-Cub’s baseball team lose numerous games.

Watched them Win a couple.

Felt my age creeping up on me when I realized how grown-up The Girl was getting.

Discovered my children had a disturbing interest in science.

June-Planted a garden, fretted over the damn thing for the rest of the summer.

Spent some quality time with my sister and my nephew.

Witnessed a miracle on the ball field yet still prayed for our team to lose the All-Stars game so that we would not have to travel to the State Tournament, was not immediately struck down by lightning for expressing such blasphemy against the sport.

July- Celebrated our independence with Jana and company.

Instituted Porch Night, the greatest innovation since the fermented grape. Learned a lot about Jana in the process.

Finally got a landscaped backyard and it only took five years.

August- Discovered that the Great Salt Lake smells like ass but that even ass isn’t so terrible as long as you smell it with friends.

Sent my children off to seventh and fourth grades without weeping. Much.

September- Spent a lovely week on a tropical island with my husband of fifteen years. Cannot think of anything remotely snarky to say about that.

Started exercising again, like, seriously. It hurt, like, seriously.

Celebrated the Man-Cub turning double digits. Bought him a weapon to mark the occasion; still not quite sure it was the best idea but, as of today, he hasn’t shot his eye out.

October- Came to the realization that seventh grade is the ninth level of Hell for parents and that the threat of Catholic school works wonders.

Bought a boat, can’t wait for summer to get here.

November-Turned forty, oh my god.

December- Had a Special Talk with The Girl. Am still recovering.

And that’s just some of the stuff that I experienced, never mind all the major changes in our economy, society, educational system, political administration, etc., etc. It’s amazing how much one small year can entail; especially considering the fact that, each New Year seems to go by faster than the one before it.

But, maybe that’s just my perspective after all; I am getting advanced in my age.

Forty. Good God.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If I Never See Another Sugar Cookie, It Will Be Too Soon

But, I think I say that every year and, every year; I pig out on Christmas cookies for at least a solid week. This year was no different and my week of gluttony is officially over; it’s time to get back on the wagon.

So, yesterday, I started back on my exercise program and I’m here to tell you that the effort like to have killed me, dead. Honestly, the rate of decline in my strength and endurance after just one week was ridiculous and, granted, I am fighting a cold but, still; ridiculous.

Anyone care to guess what my New Year’s resolutions will consist of?

Exercise, obviously. Taking care of myself. Doing things for others.

All of which are very good things to do however, it’s not simply making and keeping resolutions that I plan to focus on in the upcoming year, instead I am going to focus on experiences; on trying new things and on taking more enjoyment from old things.

Things like spending more time with family and friends.

A return to Porch Night just as soon as the weather permits.

A trek to the Grand Canyon with the Girls, assuming we ever get off the waiting list and are granted a permit.

More dates with my husband and fewer evenings wasted on mundane chores that could wait for another time.

More time spent telling the people in my life how much I love them, how important they are to me and how grateful I am to know them.

More time playing with my children. More bubble blowing, slip’n’sliding, bug catching, Wii hoola-hooping, bike riding, swimming, making Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes on lazy Sunday mornings and more dancing around the kitchen like lunatics to the music on the radio (and, if you don’t think that we a do that already; you obviously haven’t been to my house).

Clearly, I am looking forward to 2009. It may throw some ugly at us. It may bathe us in happiness. Who knows? Part of the fun in life is not knowing what to expect.

Although, if I were a betting woman, I would lay odds in favor of another sugar cookie week right around this time, next year.

God willing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Great Depression

So, my Plans for this weekend, which consisted of traveling to the city of my college alma mater to attend the surprise 40th birthday party of one of my dearest friends, were totally derailed by crappy weather conditions, in this case; mountain passes closed due to avalanche conditions and shit.

Now, ordinarily, a little avalanche danger wouldn’t keep me from partying with my Girls but, Hugh and the Man-Cub also came down with the flu which further served to make the trip unrealistic and, thus I spent Saturday evening whining about my lost opportunity to drink wine with the ladies. I was whining rather than wine-ing, if you will.

So, in an effort to console me, Hugh took us all to see Marley & Me.

Note to my dear husband: A movie in which the adorable Clearance Puppy dies of old age is NOT so much a movie that will lift the spirits of your sad-hearted wife. I’m just saying.

Also, if you hadn’t seen the movie or read the book; I totally just spoiled the ending for you and I am sorry.

When we left the theater, it was snowing so hard we could barely see the road on our trip home which did make me feel slightly better about cancelling our trip because, if it is snowing in the valley, the mountains are generally treacherous and, you know, all joking aside; I really would rather live to party with the Girls another day.

Like, a day this summer. On the boat. When the only chance of having a blizzard comes in the form of an ice-cream treat from the local Dairy Queen.

And just think; only six months to go before that can happen.

Huh. That’s almost as depressing as the death of the Clearance Puppy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dear Mother Nature:

Thank you for the white Christmas, now; knock that shit off.

Seriously. I had plans for today but, we are snowed in. And, it isn’t even that we have so much snow, it’s that the snow we have is of the messy variety that causes the roads to become sheets of glassy Death and, that combined with the fact that people are idiots who shouldn’t be driving in adverse conditions to begin with; makes the highways and byways of our area quite unsafe to traverse.

Which sucks since, as I said; I had plans.


At least we had a nice Christmas. And, if we have to be homebound, we have plenty of toys and gizmos with which to occupy our time. In fact, as I speak, Hugh and the Man-Cub are playing a Lego Star Wars game on the Wii. The Cub got the game from his Aunt Barbie and he and Hugh have already become quite proficient at it.

The Girl got a PSP and has been holed up in her room with it, since Christmas; I guess that means she likes it.

I got a Cricut and a slew of cartridges to go with it. Now I just need to make some space for it in my craft room so that I can get started using it. Maybe being snowed in will provide me with the time to do just that; it might even ease the sting of having my Plans derailed.

Bright side. Glass half full, yada, yada.

Speaking of the bright side, in case I haven’t mentioned it; Christmas here in Petticoat Junction was lovely. Oscar and Emily spent Christmas Eve with us. We ate a delicious ham dinner before beginning the construction of our annual gingerbread house- which turned out quite well- and then we basically forced Emily to watch A Christmas Story from beginning to end which is a feat she had never before accomplished (I KNOW, we couldn’t believe it, either).

Before turning in, the kids left milk and cookies out for Santa and the Man-Cub read us all The Night Before Christmas and he did it, perfectly. Best early Christmas present, ever.

Christmas morning, the kids allowed us to sleep in until six before tearing us from the warmth of our bed for present-palooza, the mounds of wrapping paper from which I am still cleaning up and, the day was off to a great start.

I spent most of my day in the kitchen, cooking and serving a traditional turkey dinner with all the side dishes, including my first ever stab at homemade cranberry sauce and, for the record, I will never eat canned sauce again. That sauce was so good; I ate several spoonfuls of it by itself after dinner. And, for breakfast the next morning. And, you know, as a snack here and there in between.

It was really good, is what I’m saying.

It was all really good. We are blessed and fortunate and lucky and every other word used to describe it. And we are thankful.

Believe it or not, I’m even thankful for the snow. It may have royally screwed with my Plans but, right now; the Man-Cub is talking about building a snow family today, a really cool snow family “just like our cool family” and, you know, suddenly snow kind of rocks.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Things That Make
Life Worth Living
Cannot Be Bought,
They Must Be Felt

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So Much to Do, So Little Time

Why is it that, no matter how prepared I think I am for Christmas; I always end up running around doing last-minute chores? I start this process in October, people, how can I not be finished, yet?

It is one of life’s greater mysteries, right up there with Is The Abominable Snowman Real and Does the Dryer Really Eat Socks? Which, for the record, it does (also for the record, the Man-Cub insists on calling it the Abdominal Snowman which I find freaking hilarious; not that I doubt the creature has great abs, I’m just saying).

So, what do I have to do today? Well, I have to make ham wraps, meatballs and a goodie tray for our store Christmas party, which Hugh and I are hosting tonight. I need to pick up soda and ice and a list of other items for said party plus bagels and lox for Christmas morning. I need to get to the bank and I need to purchase just a couple additional stocking stuffers for the Man-Cub and for Oscar (liquor store, here I come) and, there is a good five inches of new snow on the roads.

Last Minute Crap, you are killing me. Killing me, dead.

On a totally unrelated, yet still Christmassy subject; the picture above is of our store window, decorated for the town’s annual Light Contest. We did not win. I could cry foul because our window was the best window in town and, I’m not just saying that because the vintage theme was my idea but; we got beat by a light display set up at the old folk’s home.

You cannot compete with old people at Christmas time and expect to win, you just can't.

Plus, I find it somewhat comforting that I just turned forty and older people are still kicking my ass.

Way to go Old People! Way. To. Go.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tis the Season for Peace

So, why do Hugh and I engage in a battle of epic proportions every year at this time? Because it’s fun.

See, our battle is over a holiday clock given to me by my aunt a number of years ago. The clock is designed to look like a Victorian clock tower, complete with Victorian era carolers at the base. Every hour on the hour, the clock plays a different carol. Loudly. Really loudly.

For the first day or so, Hugh puts up with the music. On about the third day, he turns the music portion of the clock off, a fact that I discover roughly a few hours later when I miss the music. So, I turn the music back on and move the clock to a new location.

Once Hugh discovers the new location, he turns the music off and hides the clock.

Over the years, we have come to a silent agreement; he can hide the clock but he can’t hide it well since I don’t have the advantage of listening for the sound of the music like he does when it is my turn to relocate the clock.

In the time that we have been playing this little game, we have both gotten quite creative with the locations in which we hide the clock and, once, Hugh even staged a mock murder of the clock at the hands of the Misfits from Misfit Island (I’m pretty sure Rudolph had nothing whatsoever to do with it, clearly; he was framed).

A few days ago, Hugh hid the clock so well; it took me the better part of an afternoon to find it. That night, I placed the clock under his side of the bed and, when it struck the eleven o’clock hour, just as Hugh had drifted off to sleep; his reaction was PRICELESS, complete with disoriented flailing about and crashing into furniture once he leaped from the bed to track down the cause of the NOISE, the NOISE in his bedroom!

Hee-La-Ree-Ous, I’m telling you.

The point of this rather long and boring story is that; today is Hugh’s birthday and, when I asked him what he wanted, all he asked was that I never, never put that godamn clock underneath his side of the bed again.


Happy birthday, lover.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

T-Minus Seven and Counting

In case you didn’t realize it; Christmas is exactly one week away. One. Week.

I feel like I’m ready. The cookies are baked. The candy is made. The presents are under the tree and the turkey is in the fridge, slowly thawing out for its date with the oven.

So, why do I feel like I’m forgetting something?

Anywaaay…tonight the Man-Cub and I will frost the fifty mini-red velvet cupcakes that we baked for his classroom party while The Girl finishes wrapping our gifts to their teachers then, as of three fifteen tomorrow afternoon; the children will be freed from their daily grind for an entire two weeks.

I’m jealous.

On the other hand, I will be spared the daily drudgery of coming up with a new and creative sack lunch menu for the Cub so, there is a bright side. Plus, having the children home means having small minions to order about which means; daily chores will get a whole lot easier, for me.

Also, no running around, picking up and dropping off the children at their various after-school activities since such activities are suspended during vacation. Whoo-hoo. Bonus!

Wow! I am really starting to feel the Christmas spirit, now. Let's hope I have enough of it to pull off the store Christmas party, which is scheduled for next Tuesday night.

And, speaking of parties, Hugh's thirty-ninth birthday is on Monday. Yep thirty-nine; robbed the cradle with that one, I did.

I am planning a small gathering of friends and family for dinner that night and, holy shit....the man is going to need a birthday present.

I knew I was forgetttting something.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All Clear On The Breastern Front

The results from my mammogram came back and my film is, to quote my gynecologist; clear as a bell. I’m not surprised but I am grateful and; no more taffy pulling for a whole year.

In other news, although the results from the cookie poll appear to be a tie, Hugh has declared victory and is awaiting my concession speech.

For the record, I demand a recount.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Well, That's More Like It

We finally got snow this weekend and I was so happy to see it; I didn’t even mind shoveling the porch and driveway. Probably because I didn’t shovel the porch or the driveway, Hugh did. Eh, either way.

Since the storm was kind enough to hold off until late Saturday night, I managed to accomplish all of my weekend goals including the packaging and mailing of my treats for my goodie exchange. The line at the post office was ridiculous and I felt for the lone employee manning the counter-she looked completely worn out and, who can blame her at this time of year?

Since Hugh was officiating at a wrestling tournament that same day, I also had plenty of time to clean the house and to finish the very last of my baking-spritz cookies and gingerbread men. My shopping is totally done and with the exception of a couple of teacher’s gifts, all wrapped up.

The last item on my holiday to-do list was to decorate the cut-sugar cookies that I baked and froze earlier in the month and we set about doing that last night following Hugh’s Police Department Christmas party.

Some of you may recall that Hugh and I have a healthy rivalry going on over the decorating of the cookies. It started about two years ago with these cookies. For the record, I kicked Hugh’s ass.

Last year he came from behind and in a stunning upset, managed to whoop up on me with his magical reindeer cookie. In my defense, it was a new cookie cutter and I didn’t realize that I was decorating my reindeer as though he was looking over his shoulder or, as the children claim, as though his head was on backwards and, I would show you a picture but I cannot for the life of me find it-I think it may have been lost in the shuffle of changing jobs last year.


I lost it. I'm not embarrassed by how bad it was or anything.


So, um, anywaaayy... last night it was time for a tie-breaker, it was, as the kids say; on like Donkey Kong. We picked an angel cookie both for its’ degree of difficulty (hold that sucker in just the right position or the wings will break off every time) and by virtue of not having attempted it before. I’ll let you all be the judges but; obviously my blue angel kicks his red angels ass (and I will be toasting marshmallows in Hell one day for such blasphemy).

So? Which do YOU like better? Mine or Hugh's? No pressure, really; I want your honest opinion.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tips for Enjoying Your Annual Mammogram

Ok, maybe enjoying isn’t the right word, instead, let’s call it; Tips for Leaving Your Mammogram Relatively Unscathed.

Number One and, this is important to remember: PMS + Mammogram = F’OUCH! (F’ouch being the PG version of the ever popular fucking OUCH). So, ladies, do yourself a favor and schedule your exam for a week during which you are not craving chocolate, bloated like a week-old corpse, acne-prone, already experiencing boob tenderness and, you know, irritable. Trust me.

Number Two: Introduce yourself to the radiology technician; you don’t want to go to second base with a total stranger you are, after all, a lady.

Number Three: Prepare a list of songs that you can sing along to in your head as the technician maneuvers your girlie-bits onto the machine. At the appropriate moment, burst into song; if your singing voice is as bad as mine, this will be at least slightly less embarrassing than having a total stranger, albeit one you are now on a first-name basis with, feel you up. If you have a great singing voice this will obviously not work for you so…um…eat a couple of burritos prior to the appointment and pray for noisy flatulence.

Number Four: Once the technician has your breast correctly positioned between the Lucite plates of the imaging machine and begins to crank the plates together, DO NOT LOOK DOWN; you will never shake the image of your boob as road kill. Never. Shudder

Number Five: When the technician tells you not to breathe, yeah, don’t breathe, it will cause the image to blur and you will be forced to go through the entire boob manipulation routine all over again.

Seriously, don’t breathe.

I hope this list helps to prepare you for your next go-around with the taffy puller. If not, a stiff shot of Jack Daniels following your appointment can help to dull the edges around the memory of the experience.

Or, um, so I’ve heard.

All kidding aside, ladies; get your boobs checked. It really isn’t that bad and your health could depend on it although, for the record, I stand by Number One on this list.

Seriously, f’ouch.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Do We Call Them "Goodies"? They Are Bad, BAD, I Say

The holiday season brings with it many enjoyable activities; decorating the house, shopping with friends, watching classic holiday movies and, unfortunately, eating, eating, eating. My diet lately can best be described as “poor”. I’m still exercising six days a week but one can only burn off so many extra calories and, when one factors in the calories from several M&M cookies, a few chunks of fudge, a cheese and cracker plate and a stack of pizelles as tall as a juice glass, well; an hour of cardio and weights just isn’t enough to undo the damage.

I’m trying to do better. I locked the goodies away in the freezer-out of sight, out of mind-and I restocked the pantry and fridge with healthy options but, you know, it isn’t like I’m immune to the siren call of the junk food. Not immune at all, in fact; I’m a total whore for the bad stuff.

Thank goodness I will be sending away a lot of the treats that I have baked. I have my internet cookie exchange, goodie-plates to make for the store, boxes to put together for several of our elderly neighbors and the Man-Cub’s classroom party to serve. With any luck at all, I will be able to find my willpower and stop myself from sampling everything that goes into the packages.

With even more luck I will have the willpower to avoid all the equally fattening foods that will be placed before me at all of our upcoming Christmas parties but, you know; I’m not holding my breath.

Except for the times that I’m sucking in my gut so as to appear thinner, of course. Totally holding my breath, then.

On a totally unrelated topic, I have to go in for my now-annual (thanks 40!) mammogram, today. I'm sooo looking forward to it because, nothing says fun like taking the twins to a taffy pull.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid

As I’ve mentioned before, the Man-Cub has a Christmas wish list about a mile long. One of the items on his list is- I don’t even know how to say this other than to just throw it out there - a gun.
And, when I say gun, I’m not talking about an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, either; I’m talking about an actual hunting rifle, one that he can use when he goes with his father on their annual elk-stalking adventure.

And, I’m torn. Hugh already bought the thing and, every once in a while I catch him opening the closet where it is hidden. I can hear him whispering some gleeful anecdotes about all the good times they are going to have together ( said as he strokes the box lovingly although, he would vehemently deny that part) and, I get it.

I know that men, particularly men from our neck of the woods, love the hunt. There exists a rich tradition in hunting, our ancestors clear back to the times of the caveman were hunters. Fathers bond with their sons over this shit, seriously. And, I’m not anti-hunting by any means; the elk that Hugh brings home each year saves us a ton of money on groceries plus the meat is better for us than some processed beef but, still. I worry because; that’s what mothers do.

It’s what we have done since those very same times of the caveman; the only difference is that, back then, mothers had no cool shoe stores in which to shop away their anxiety over the fact that young Ugg was joining his father for his first hunt, they had to find other distractions like, inventing the wheel.

Anyway, this Christmas, the Cub will be getting his first hunting rifle along with an enrollment form for the next available Hunters Safety Class. In fact, he will have to complete said class before he is allowed to touch the gun which, I realize, might make it a little less appealing as a gift but, you know, safety first.

With any luck, I’m getting a prescription for Quaaludes and an IV drip full of chocolate.

And still; I'll worry.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It Beginning to Look…Nothing at All Like Christmas

All around us, snow is falling. Ski areas are open for business, snow plows are out in force, some schools are closed and we? Are dry as a bone with no sign of snow for the holidays. Yesterday, it rained. Rained! So, I ask you; what Christmas Grinch crawled up Mother Nature’s ass and died? Will she recover from her affliction (ass-fliction? Ha! I slay me!) in time to give my kids a white Christmas and enough snow for our annual New Year’s Day sledding trip?

Time will tell.

Granted, I can’t complain about not having to shovel snow or about not having to mop the mud from my wood floors eleven billion times a day and; not worrying that some useless excuse for a driver will plow into me on icy roads as I go about my errands is certainly a bonus but, still.

Won't you please think of the children, Mother Nature?

Think of the children.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ok, So Not Everyone Loves Christmas Traditions

But, I do. And this weekend I took part in a plethora of our personal family traditions. Friday night, the kids placed their letters to Santa underneath their pillows for overnight pick-up by the elves. In the morning, the letters were gone, replaced by chocolate coins and enough magic flying dust to appear convincing.

This particular tradition is something that I started as a way of remembering my departed Grandpa Nick who was born on December 6th; which is Saint Nicholas Day. I have been doing it since the children were quite small and it always brings a warm fuzzy feeling to my heart.

While The Girl has recently become aware of the deception in the practice, my heart was also warmed by how excited she got about the event; the Spirit of Christmas is strong in that one. The Man-Cub, thankfully still oblivious to the fib, was mostly stoked over the chocolate because; he is his mother’s son.

Saturday morning, I headed to a local store to ring bells for the Salvation Army. My woman’s club participates in the ringing every year and I have actually chaired the committee for three of the past four years. Sometimes the kids accompany me but, this year they were attending Kaley’s birthday party so I was on my own. I missed them; they were always good company.
And, you know, freakin' adorable.

The weather was surprisingly cooperative, cold but clear, and I did bundle up, for all the good that it did me. Experience has taught me, however, that the amount of money people place in the kettle rises in accordance to how miserable the bell ringer looks and, since I am naturally cold-blooded and looking miserable comes second nature to me; the Salvation Army did pretty well during my stint.

Since neither of my children was available to keep me company, I had to make do with one of the store’s employees who was responsible for cart round-up; I saw quite a bit of her as rounding up carts is apparently a never-ending job and, before long, I was referring to her as Sisyphus in my head. She was a nice kid.

After bell ringing, I went home and baked cookies and made candy until it was time to meet Jana and the kids downtown for the annual Parade of Lights. Jana and I have been taking the kids to the parade since they were in strollers but this year it was just the two of us on the crowded sidewalk as all five kids were riding on a float built by the company that Chris works for.

The kids had a great time being in the parade and Jana and I had a great time visiting while stomping our feet on the hard pavement in an effort to stay warm. Didn’t work but, that’s kind of a traditional thing, too.

Yesterday I was back in the kitchen, baking cookies for a cookie exchange that I am doing with some friends from the internet; I’ve never done this before but am hoping to see it turn into a tradition as well.

After all, any tradition involving cookies is alright in my book.

Friday, December 05, 2008

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

I have a ton of things on my To Do list for today and this weekend. I need to drive to neighboring town to finish the very last of my Christmas shopping. I need to wrap everything that I buy. I need to hit Sam’s for food in bulk to get us through the Christmas dinner, the store christmas party, our annual New Year’s Eve get-together and our sledding trip on New Year's day. I need to get my ass in gear with the baking; I’ve been slacking in that department. I need to mail out my cards. I need to clean my house. I need to spend more quality time with my children. I need, I need, I need.

It’s a never-ending cycle.

What I want to do is to laze about on my couch with the latest issue of some trashy magazine and eat bon-bons while an able-bodied man-servant takes care of everything on my To Do list.

And then, rubs my feet.

With peppermint lotion.

Huh. I wonder if it is too late to ask Santa for a manservant.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The First Stage of Grief is Denial

Starting this evening, I become a Wrestling Widow.

Over the years, I have gotten somewhat used to the situation and, as soon as Hugh gets his official schedule of officiating duties; I up my Netflix subscription to the next level, fill my queue with chick-flicks and stock my kitchen with Cheese-Its and chocolate, all the things that a Weekend Widow must do to deal with her isolation and, for the most part, I am never bored or lonely without him.

Of course, it helps that I generally still have a ton of baking to do for the holidays as well as last-minute shopping and wrapping of presents.

Oh, and let’s not forget that I usually still have to plan our holiday meals, allowing enough time for hyperventilating over the lack of perfection in my culinary expertise in addition to which; the mental debate over whether we should have turkey or ham for Christmas dinner generally takes up a good deal of my time not to mention all the time spent agonizing over whether or not I should bake pumpkin and banana breads when, in all honesty, I am the only one who ever eats them and, really; do I need all that fat? No, I do not. But, still! Pumpkin bread! Banana bread! How can I break with tradition?

And, yes, that debate rages on in my head every year.

So, you see how much time this takes up, I’m sure.

I'll be fine.

Not lonely at all.

No boredom, here.

To recap: I’ll miss Hugh but; I have things to do and, you know, fat cells to feed......

oh my god, I need a hobby.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's Not Like I Didn't Know This Was Coming

Last night, The Girl and I sat down for The Talk. She'd been "hearing things" at school and had a lot of questions for me and, while I’ve been preparing myself for this since practically the day that she was born; it was uncomfortable for both of us.

I answered her questions as honestly as I could and tried my best to describe to her exactly how her father and I feel about the issue. I told her that it is ok if she is confused and disappointed and even a little bit sad. I expressed my agreement that it seems wrong for adults to do it when they teach their children not to but, that in time, when she is grown up with children of her own; she will come to enjoy the practice as much as her father and I have all these years.

After all, it isn’t really a lie; it’s more like a really well-intentioned fib meant to instill a sense of wonder and excitement in children at Christmas time. And, as long as you believe, then Santa is real.

Wait, what?

Did you think I meant the sex talk?

Please, I just destroyed the child’s faith in the Spirit of Christmas; the easy stuff can wait for another day.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Nut Does Not Fall Far From the Tree

As you can see, my family and I had a very nice Thanksgiving. Between eating all the delicious food, shopping and catching up with family members and friends there was almost no time at all to play hide-and-go-seek but; we made do.

The Barbie Mansion is a most excellent place for hide-and-go-seek with plenty of places to hide and lots of room to run around. In fact, there is so much room; we had to split into teams of two for the seeking, otherwise, the lone seeker would never be able to cover enough ground.

Barbie and I were teamed up and, when it was time to hide, we chose an excellent spot in a very dark storage room. There was more than enough room for the two of us plus my Dad and, since the room was on a lower level of the house, it took The Girl and my niece, the Rodeo Princess, quite some time to make their way to us. In fact, by the time they did find us, we were ready to be found; not wanting to be the last ones discovered lest we become “it” and have to seek for a second time.

For the record, Barbie and I were the best hiders. Hugh and my brothers-in-law came in a close second and my Mom brought up the rear due to her insistence on hiding in the exact same spot for every game (FYI, Mom; hiding your face in a corner does not make you invisible to other people) and, if you are reading this and finding it hard to believe that eight grown adults would willingly take part in a children’s game, please refer to the above picture; we aren’t quite all there, is what I’m saying.

But, lest you think us totally immature, let me assure you that there were adult games as well, in fact; Hugh and my dad cleaned out the wallets of both my brothers-in-law while playing poker well into the night. At one point, Barbie’s husband had to excuse himself to run upstairs to the safe for extra money and, it wasn’t until the next morning that anyone realized that by the “safe” he meant my sister’s purse.

I’m pretty sure she forgave him.

On the shopping front, I did experience my first ever Black Friday shopping trip and it was, well, a trip. People are crazy, y’all. We got up at 4:00 to be at the stores by 5:00 and people were already engaging in tug-o-war battles over certain items by the time we arrived. Thank goodness I didn’t need anything in particular or I might have joined in the frenzy (although, I did get a little aggressive over a Cricut that was on sale for half off the regular price, Merry Christmas to me!).

The best part of the shopping experience was spending time with the women in my life, including my good friend, Melimel, who made an hour-long drive just to see us. We had a great time catching up.

Saturday, while Barbie and I went shopping, yet again, Hugh and the children attended the State Football game and cheered our Pirates on to victory for the first time since like, um, 1932 or something like that. I am told it was a good game.

And, now, I am home, trying to get the house prepared for the next holiday. I have a ton of baking to do, cards to send out, presents to wrap and, if I prove more tenacious that my husband and children; caroling to be done.

After all, I don’t mind embarrassing myself in public and, if you refer to the above picture, you will see that I come by that naturally.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Birthday To Us

Dear 16,

Wow, are you young. I’m going to use your youth to excuse all the stupid stuff that you are doing. I’ll forgive how you are throwing away all the potential that you have to be a really good student because, after all; we do eventually make it to college. I’ll even forgive the rather crappy choices that you make in boyfriends although, if I could reach back through time and shake you, I totally would. I can’t however, excuse your –sometimes rather shabby-treatment of our parents; karma is a major boomerang and, now; I am paying for what you threw out into the universe. That kind of pisses me off.

P.S. The stirrup pants-long sweater combo that you so love is actually making a come-back; who could have guessed? Also, you might as well enjoy all that crap you love to eat because your metabolism will never run as high as it does right now. I kind of hate you for that.

Dear 19,

College not all it was cracked up to be? Bumming over the poor choices that you made at 16, shall we say, in boyfriends, perhaps? Relax, a wonderful thing is about to happen to you; you are going to meet Girls who will become some of the most important women in your life. They will open your eyes to new experiences and, more importantly, to new possibilities. When they come knocking at your door on a cold winter night, bearing a bottle of Kaluah and a carton of ice cream; open the door. The friendships forged this night will be far more valuable than the blender you destroy in the process of making those Kaluah shakes.

These new friends will, however, fail to give you any good advice whatsoever regarding your choices in wardrobe and cosmetics, in fact, they will shamelessly enable and encourage your love of the acid wash denim, blue eyeliner and gigantic mall hair; this is perhaps their only collective flaw. Thankfully, you all get over it and have nothing but the old photos to remind you of your folly; photos which will become the centerpiece of many future drunken laugh-fests over what dorks you all were in college. Thanks for that. And, thanks for opening that door.

Dear 22,

I told 16 that this would happen and I’m pretty sure that 19 saw it coming; first heartbreak sucks majorly. On the bright side, you have friends and family who love and support you. Your parents will never say “I told you so” although, they could. Your friends will comfort you with alcohol and enough salt water taffy to drain the oceans and, in the not too distant future; will introduce you to the one person on the planet who could possibly restore your faith in the male race but, I’ll let that be a surprise.

The next year is going to be one of the most challenging of your young life. Career? Love? Finding your place in this big world? It won’t come easy. Fear, insecurity and doubt will be your constant companions but, the path, the right path, is already laid out for you. You can’t see it but, you’ll know it when you step upon it, I promise. In the meantime, take care of yourself.

Oh, and buy some pretty underwear; you’ll thank yourself for it later.

Dear 25,

Holy crap, you’re married. And you own a home. You are, like, an adult. Yes, I know; how the hell did that happen? First things first; stop freaking out. Breathe. If you will recall, you chose this; you did not wake up one morning to find yourself shanghaied onto the Good Ship Matrimony although, I admit, sometimes it will feel that way but! You and Hugh will grow into this and you will actually turn out to be pretty good at adulthood and, after some practice; good at your marriage.

Don’t laugh, I’m serious.

Plus, in just a couple of years, you get to become a Mom. You’ve always wanted to be a mom and you, my friend, are going to rock at it. Oh, sometimes you will despair and often you will question why you ever let that sperm anywhere near your precious egg but, for the most part; you are going to thank the heavens for the two little miracles that come your way.

Oops, spoiler!

Dear 30,

Oh, honey. That weight that you feel on your heart, on your shoulders, in the pit of your stomach; it will lift. You have to hold on. Adulthood is hard, parenting is a challenge and sometimes you can’t control the things that go on around you, you just can't.

You will weather this storm and you come out on the other side stronger for it, in fact; I’m still kind of in awe at how strong you turn out to be. Totally makes up for all that stupid shit you pulled from 16 through 29.


Dear 35,

Put. Down. The. Donut.

Step away from the fridge. Moooove on over to the salad bar and get your ass in gear; you are far too young to let yourself go like this. Having children who are growing up at a phenomenal rate, a demanding job and a home that is in the thralls of a three-year remodeling project are not excuses to become a sedentary lump of goo. Challenge yourself, reward yourself, find yourself again.

You can do it; you do do it, I promise.

Love, 40
(Who is currently at the Mall, shopping on Black Friday for the first time in her life because; apparently she didn't learn a thing from you guys)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Visions of Thanksgivings Past

As we gather around the table this year to celebrate our blessings with my extended family, I look back fondly on one particular Thanksgivings that was….um…a bit more humble than that which we are currently enjoying here at the Barbie Mansion.

Thanksgiving 2004. Hugh, the kids and I are on our own as both sets of our parents are fulfilling obligations at the homes of our siblings. Our own home is in a state of chaos and disarray thanks to The Remodeling Project from Hell, which has been going on since 2002.

Our kitchen, such as it is, is in no shape to handle a traditionally cooked meal so; we have opted for the Thanksgiving Feast in a Box, offered by our local supermarket chain. The turkey is dry, the mashed potatoes are instant and the store has forgotten to include our pumpkin pie. But, we are together and, with just a little bit of effort, we can see the potential in our home.

After all, when we bought the house in 1999, it looked like this.

There was not a lot on the market at the time, at least not in our price range and, the house was in a good location, close to the hardware store and the schools so; we considered it a “fixer-upper” and signed on the dotted line.

After some tender-loving care and a little landscaping, the house looked like this.

And, we made do with the tiny kitchen, tiny bedrooms and non-existent living room for a couple more years before starting the Remodel from Hell.

During the remodel, we lived in rooms that looked like this:

And, while I suppose there is something to be said for walls you can see through; it was still a bit taxing on the nerves. The children, however, delighted in the project and, why wouldn’t they? When their friends came over, they got to throw hammers through walls. They got to graffiti the floors, walls, and ceilings without fear of punishment. They got to sleep on mattresses on the floor and, depending on which room we were working on at the time; those mattresses moved all over the house.

Hugh always made sure that I always had my own bed to sleep in; granted, we moved it five separate times but, I never slept on a mattress on the floor. And, I tried vainly to retain some sense of normalcy in our daily lives, destroying two vacuum cleaners in the process but! I had a semi-livable space to occupy most of the time. You know, as long as you didn't look up.

The outside of the house was no picnic to look at, either

but, amazingly, our neighbors still talk to us.

And, ultimately, we got this:

I cannot express how thankful I am for it every day of my life. Not to mention my gratitude for the man who built it all with his bare hands. It may have taken three years to accomplish but, we didn’t go into debt to do it and our marriage survived, no thrived, during the process. When you take all that into consideration, one Thanksgiving dinner eaten in a dining room consisting of walls that have been torn down to the studs just doesn’t seem all that tragic.

I am still a little pissed about the pie, though.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Over the River and Through the….You Know the Drill

So, in just a bit, Hugh, the children and I are hitting the road for the trip to my sister’s house. I’m looking forward to spending time with my parents, sister, nephews, niece and brothers-in-law as well as to hitting the mall on Black Friday with my dear friend, Melimel.

I’m looking forward to the turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie and to not really paying attention to what I eat for a day.

I’m looking forward to my birthday on Friday. I never really worry about turning another year older and, as the women in my service club said yesterday as they feted me with a cake and a gag gift of Monster energy drinks (since I’ll be sooo much older and lacking in energy); turning 40 is a milestone that must be marked. I’ll tell you what, if I age half as gracefully as the older women in that club; I’ll consider myself lucky.

And, I am lucky; I have a lot to be thankful for and I get the privilege of spending the day typically set aside to count our blessings with the people who matter the most to me.

I could not ask for more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It’s That Kind of Day

I woke up twenty minutes earlier than usual this morning and thought “cool; now I’ll have more time to relax before work”. The universe heard my proclamation and thought “oh, hell no”.

Minutes into my bathroom routine, The Girl implored upon me to blow-dry and braid her hair which took up ten minutes of my extra time.

The Man-Cub then informed me that the cat had puked on the carpet downstairs, the cleaning up of which took an additional five minutes of my extra time.

As I was wandering around our bedroom in my underwear, searching for something to wear, Hugh gave me The Look, the one that couples have for telegraphing that they want to spend some “Special Adult Time” together and I was all Hell to the No because I only had five extra minutes left and damned if I was going to waste it on Wii bowling.

Well, what did you think I meant?

Anywaayy, my coffee filter split at the seam and I ended up with grounds in my café au lait, I thought I had one last packet of oatmeal for breakfast but, alas, did not and, the jeans I planned to wear are suddenly too big on me (I know, cry you a river) and thus make me look like I am carrying a load in my backside.

I’m starting to think that getting out of bed early was a curse; you can bet I won’t let it happen again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It’s Beginning To look a Lot Like Christmas

Friday night’s Holiday Festival went swimmingly although; I don’t think the club made quite as much money on the auctioned items as we did last year. The bids weren’t going very high and several items still lacked any bids at all when I left the event at 7:30. Unless people really started up the bidding wars after I left; we are looking at lower profits. On the other hand, sponsorships averaged last year’s numbers so, we may do ok and, you know, we all had a good time. I really enjoyed chatting with some of the women whom I hadn’t seen in a while as well as my boss from Old Job.

The rest of the weekend was busy, busy, busy.

Saturday, I spent the majority of the day setting up my porcelain village. It looks great and really got me into the whole holiday spirit even though I still think it is insane that the local mall welcomed Santa’s arrival Friday night; the hell? It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet.

While I was toiling over miniature houses, Hugh and the children were cheering our High School football team on to victory; the team is now headed for the State championship and, if the universe aligns just right and Hugh can find someone to cover the police shift that he was scheduled to cover this Sunday; he and the Man-Cub will be able to see the game which is being played in Denver this Saturday where, coincidentally, we will be spending Thanksgiving.

You follow?

Good. Moving on.

So, Saturday night, I dragged my tired ass to the neighboring town with Hugh and the children to attend a birthday party for a friend of ours. The party was held at a bowling alley and, while I am not the world’s worst bowler, I am certainly not the best. I made a good effort, though.

The Girl, being a twelve-going-on-thirteen-year old, initially refused to bowl and, once she noticed that, horror of horrors, the Vice Principal of her school was also there, the refusal became adamant. For like, five minutes, at which point she donned her fancy rented shoes and joined the fun, handily beating said Vice Principal and earning the reward of being able to raid his candy cabinet today. Twelve-going-on-thirteen-year-old-girls are apparently swayed by the sugar, who knew?

Yesterday, I worked on more Christmas decorating and then, while Hugh endangered his health and welfare by stringing lights on the rooftop; I took the kids to see Twilight because I had to make good on a bribe that I offered them in order to get them to pose for yet another round of pictures (Emily wants a framed photo of the kids for Christmas). They were fairly good sports about the whole thing although; some of the pictures would lead you to think differently.

Anyway, the movie wasn’t bad but; I liked the book better.

Today, I am back to the work grind and, this evening, I intend to decorate the Christmas tree so that I have one less thing to do when we get back from Denver on Sunday. As I said, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.

But, at least I’m not hosting Santa.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Now I Know Where Hitchcock Got His Inspiration

I ran out of birdseed this week and just haven’t had a chance to get to the store. Now, there are about twenty-five sparrows sitting in the tree outside my window and they are looking at me. I guess I better get to the store today for fear that, tomorrow, there will be fifty of them and they will be plotting their assault on my home rather than just giving me crusty bird looks from the tree branches.

Tonight is the club’s Holiday Festival. I need to put together the appetizer plate that I promised to take as well as finding something vaguely appropriate to wear; I’ll be flying solo this year since Hugh has to work for the Police department. Afterwards, I have promised the children that we will pull the boxes containing my porcelain Christmas village down from the attic so that, tomorrow, we can tackle the chore of setting it up. I know it seems early but, with us going to Denver for Thanksgiving; it makes sense to get a head start on the decorating.

The rest of the weekend will be taken up with routine chores and the local High School football game; our team is in the running for the State title and one of the qualifying games is being played at home. Hugh and the children are planning to attend the game while I run errands and generally avoid the mass pandemonium caused by football fanatics in our small town, not that I don’t have team spirit, go Pirates! Whoo. I just have a lot to do.

Like, buying birdseed to feed the hungry mob currently amassing outside my window; fifty of the little bastards by tomorrow might be a rather modest estimate by the look of things.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It’s Official, I’ve Broken up with My Foot Doctor

Yes, he was willing to fondle my feet, yes he gave mad props to whatever shade of the OPI I happened to be wearing at each appointment and, yes, he was somewhat easy on the eyes but good, God; those orthotics he prescribed for my plantar fasciitis hurt like a mutherf*^%&er.

And, while the plantar fasciitis healed and I no longer have any heel pain or foot pain; I have had nerve pain in my leg since I started wearing the tools of SATAN orthotics back in April or May. And, it isn’t even the same leg that had the plantar fasciitis so, clearly; my body was meant to be unaligned and you know, unique. I’m not meant to have the gait that normal other people have and I needed to get rid of the orthotics in a big way.

So, I ditched them. I haven’t worn them in over a week and the heel pain has not returned. The nerve pain in my left leg has abated and, wonder of wonders, my balance is better; I no longer resemble a drunk when I do my workouts.

I’m still trying to find something to be grateful for every day this month and, if you don’t think that not resembling a drunk is something to be grateful for. Well, we might just have to have a drink together you are crazy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chivalry Lives

As I dropped the Man-Cub off at school this morning, another car pulled up behind us, a little girl got out and, immediately I recognized her as the Object of My Son’s Affections; the daughter of a family that we know through her older sister’s friendship with The Girl and whom the Cub has had a crush on since the third grade.

Before I pulled away, I watched the Cub join the girl, take her backpack from her, grasp her hand, walk her to the door and then; hold it open. The gesture was so sweet; I swear I felt cavities forming in my teeth.

I am so grateful for the kindness that boy shows to people. I’m thankful that he appears to be a gentleman and I’m glad that the Object of His Affections seems to be a nice kid, as well.

Granted, if I were a different person, the type to look at the negative rather than the positive, I might worry that I’m going to be a grandma before I hit fifty but; that’s not how I roll.

I’m rather grateful for that, too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trapped Like the Donner Party but, At Least We Have Food

As I shut the garage door this morning, after dropping the kids off at school, the spring on our automatic garage door broke, essentially trapping my car inside. Hugh had not left for work yet so, his truck was trapped as well. Apparently, we aren’t going anywhere until the garage door repairman can get here to save us.

Trapped in the house all alone, together. Whatever shall we do? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Oh, Hugh just reminded me that we actually live three blocks from the hardware store and that I can walk to work, it is a beautiful morning, after all.

I would kill him now but I’m too lazy to clean up the blood.

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother-in-law last week.....

Emily: Chelle, do you have some extra room in your freezer?

Chelle: Why? Do you need to hide a body?


Emily: No, I just wanted to put a turkey in there; they go on sale today and I don’t have any room in my freezer, why would I want to hide a body?

Sometimes, I just don’t think she gets me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Thing She Was So Cute

Today is my sister, Barbie’s, birthday. Thirty-eight years ago she displaced me as the baby of the family and stole that role for herself. She took over my room, my toys, my parent’s attentions and, later, my clothing, cassette tapes, and fancy banana clips (what!? Banana clips were all the rage). If she wasn’t such a good person, I might have held those things against her. As it stands, I'm eternally grateful that she "disrupted" my life all those years ago and I can't imagine my life without her in it.

Happy birthday, Sis!

Our weekend was productive, I managed to take the photo for our Christmas cards and I even got the order for the cards placed; I should be addressing envelopes in a matter of days. Yikes.

The children were, um, somewhat cooperative this year but, not until after I abandoned my first concept for the picture which included the dog and some rather extensive poses and which was, quite frankly, a pipe dream the equivalent of attaining world peace, anyway.

The picture we ultimately ended up using took all of five minutes to capture, including the short drive to the location I wanted to use and everyone was happy. Sunshine! Rainbows! Unicorns! Yay.

In any event, we are done with that chore for another year and I can cross it off my Holiday To Do list. I can also cross off Shop for the Distant Relatives and Wrap Presents because, with the exception of gifts for Hugh and the children, those chores are done as well. I’m starting to feel almost smug about the whole holiday season which means that a massive head cold, stomach virus, leprosy, or bubonic plague are just around the corner, ready to derail my locomotion.

In fact, I think I felt a tickle in my throat just as I typed that.

Yes, I'm certain I did.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Wow, This Week Just Flew By

I can’t believe it is Friday, already. I’m glad it’s Friday, I just can’t believe how quickly time flies.

The weekend is certain to fly by as well and that is a bummer for sure. Tonight, The Girl is attending a dance at the Middle School. Hugh is on duty for one of the regular police officers and he has threatened to attend the dance which, as you can imagine, is just what The Girl wanted to hear. I assured her that I can distract him with a home-made apple pie and she seemed to take some comfort in that. Also, apple pie….mmmm.

Tomorrow, the kids are going with me to the local bank to set up for the Holiday Festival. My service club members have managed to put together 152 items for auction. Among the items are fifteen six foot Christmas trees, a number of nine foot trees and even more four foot trees, all of which are fully decorated in varying themes. We also have wreaths, garlands, centerpieces, gift baskets and stockings stuffed to the brim. With any luck, we will sell the items for as much money as they are worth and will net around $14,000 for our service budget. Of course, in today’s economy, we realize that we might fall short of that goal.

Since returning to the club, following my leave of absence, I have thrown myself into the fray with as much enthusiasm as I have ever felt for the club and its mission. The fact is; the club does an awful lot of good things for our community including providing scholarships to local graduates, books to under-privileged children, Lifeline units to the elderly and a number of other services. I’m proud to be part of the effort and I’m grateful for the other women in the club who work as hard as they do to raise the funds necessary to continue our good work.

I’m also grateful for the friendships that I have made since joining the club in 2002 and for the opportunity to leave the hardware store for a couple of hours every Tuesday to attend our weekly meeting because, sometimes I need to get away from that place.

Oh, wait; did I just say that out loud?

And, did I mention that I’m very grateful that today is Friday?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And So It Begins

XM satellite added the Holly channel to its line-up this morning. Carols have been playing over the speakers at the Hellmouth since the day after Halloween. Our town’s Public Works department has been instructed to start hanging the Christmas lights and, last night; the Man-Cub presented me with a Christmas wish list as long as my arm.

The mad holiday rush is, as they say, on.

Last year, due to the job change and the general chaos that it created, I was less Miss Merry Christmas and more Ebenezer on a Bad Day but, thankfully; this year I am feeling far less scrooge-ish and far more energetic and I know we are going to have a great time.

Jana and I have already informed the husbands and the children that we will be going caroling this year, reactions to this statement were mixed:


The Man-Cub-I can play my trumpet (um…I’m not sure that Mary Had a Little Lamb is quite the song we are going for but, thanks for the offer)!


The Girl-Oh god! What if someone I know sees me!?

Chris- No. Just, no.

Obviously, we are still working out the details.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grateful That It Wasn’t Worse

There was an incident in one of our local High Schools yesterday; a fourteen year old boy slashed the throat of a seventeen year old girl whom he didn’t even know. The boy, who was not a student at the school or at any school in the district, was arrested minutes after the incident. The girl is recovering from the surgery that was performed immediately following the attack and the school did an amazing job handling what could have been an even bigger tragedy.

One of the women from my service club happened to be at the school at the time that it happened and she said that the kids’ response to the attack and to the immediate lock-down that followed was nothing short of amazing. She said that, once the lock-down was announced over the intercom system, the students moved with practiced skill and she was left standing alone in the hallway less than a minute later. One of the administrators was then kind enough to show her to a classroom where she joined the lock-down and she had nothing but praise for the school, the staff and the students in the minutes that followed. Her surprise at how little chaos there was, given the situation, was evident.

The school is not the high school that our kids will be attending when the time comes but, since we reside in the district, our kids have been practicing the same lock-down drills since they started school. On the one hand, the need for such drills breaks my heart-when I was growing up, we had fire drills and bus safety drills and that was pretty much that-but, after yesterday, I am so grateful to live in a school district that has given such a high priority to the safety of our students.

Yes, one obviously mentally ill person managed to get through but, in the big picture, my feeling of security for my kids while they are attending our public school remains pretty solid and I am grateful that I can say that.

The victim of the attack is expected to recover and her family is encouraging the community to pray for the family of the boy who attacked her; he obviously needs help and maybe now, he will get it and, while he does, he will be off the streets and unable to attack another innocent person.

The school personnel and students are being praised for their handling of the situation as is the local police department. There are counselors on sight at the school to help any student who feels the need to talk to someone and that opportunity is also being made available to the students-like mine-at neighboring schools within the district.

When you think about how much worse the situation could have been, you really do have to count your blessings as well as those of your community.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kiss a Veteran

And be grateful for the sacrifices that they made to ensure our freedom; I know I am.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank God for Imitrex

I got a right lovely migraine headache on Saturday, the first one that I have had in a while. I blame The Girl and all her young and snappy pheromones; not only are they screwing with my cycle but, now they are triggering headaches and I am most displeased. Once we get into the rhythm of cycling together, we should both feel a lot better.

If you are reading this and you happen to have an X chromosome, you are asking yourself, what the hell is she talking about? And, I love you but, I am not about to explain it to you-try Google.

Perhaps it was also her pheromones that caused such discord between The Girl and her brother all weekend. As it was, I spent a vast majority of my time interceding in turf wars, mediating disputes over toys and television rights and breaking up wrestling matches once negotiations inevitably broke down. Sunday evening, I finally helped draft a temporary détente and as of this morning, the siblings are like peas and carrots, once again.

If it wasn’t the pheromones, perhaps it was something in the water and, maybe they could both survive on tomato juice and Gatorade from now on; hmm, it’s worth investigating.

When I wasn’t acting as the Secretary General of the U.N. or writhing in pain from the headache, I was working on the centerpiece that I got suckered into making volunteered to make for my service club’s upcoming Holiday Festival. It turned out a lot better than I had expected and, while it isn’t to my decorating taste, it should sell. Not for much but, it should sell.

The festival is a week from Friday and I have also been roped into offered to make hor’dourves for the evening. I have a tried and true recipe for a cheese spread; it is popular with the men who attend the event and it is relatively easy to make compared to the bacon-wrapped-garlic-dipped-shrimp-on-a-skewer-etc. hor' dourves that some of the more talented and ambitious women make. I am nothing if not lazy (as we have covered times too numerous to mention).

I am not, however, too lazy to finish my Christmas shopping and, I am proud to say that, with the exception of Hugh and the kids, I am done. Done. Done. Done. I still have wrapping to do but, that is one of my favorite parts of the process so, I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m grateful to have a place in my home where I can set up the wrapping table and work on the project at my own pace, without having to store everything away between wrappings and I’m grateful to have two children who-despite their inability to share a remote control-are willing to cooperate on wrapping projects.

On the other hand, Christmas is the season of miracles so, maybe that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Now, if The Girl could just keep her pheromones to her damn self, we would be all set.

Friday, November 07, 2008

It’s a Right Hullabaloo of Gratitude

Number one, it’s Friday! That right there is something to be grateful for. Also, I lost three pounds this week after losing nothing last week; my fear of a plateau was misplaced, apparently and thank God.

In addition, Hugh didn’t lock The Girl in an ivory tower yesterday after getting yet another phone call from the school-yes, another phone call from the school-I think we are 0-7 for weeks without a chat with the principal and I am not happy.

But, as I said, Hugh handled it far better than I, in fact, his punishment (writing an apology letter) fit the crime (being insolent and disrespectful to a teacher) and he went a step further, promising The Girl that, if it happens again, she will write another letter and SHE WILL READ IT IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE CLASSROOM, apologizing to the class for disrupting their learning environment as well as to the teacher for being disrespectful.

And, he delivered this punishment in a matter-of-fact way that totally bowled me over. There I was ready to rip her belligerent ass right out of school and sentence her to hard time with the nuns and he comes up with something so brilliantly diabolical; I got hot just listening to him. Plus, my punishment plan totally paled in comparison to his, I mean, the threat of public embarrassment trumps knuckle-rapping nuns any day of the week as far as Middle School girls go.

Oh, we also grounded her from the phone, the computer and sleepovers with her friends for two weeks (that’s FOURTEEN DAYS, Young Lady! according to Hugh’s very explicit terms) and we got to proof-read the letter to the teacher before she delivers it.

To say the child took it all very well would be a vast understatement and, this morning, she was cheerful as could be when I dropped her off at school. Clearly, our parenting skills are so far advanced, we should get a medal.

Or, it is the calm before the storm and we will one day find ourselves on the business end of a bullhorn, begging her to abandon her life of hermitage and rejoin society again.

And still I am grateful for having the opportunity to parent the child.

Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

At Last, a Little Down Time

With football and volleyball seasons finally over, I am enjoying my evenings again. There is no rush to get somewhere, no hurried dinners comprised mostly of left-overs or convenience foods and no major stress over finding an extra half-hour to nag the children until they get homework done.

Instead, I have been cooking again. The kids have time to play games after their homework is finished. I started re-reading Twilight while drinking a nice glass of wine. I have soaked in the jet-tub three out of four nights this week and I haven’t lost my shit with Hugh or the children once- not even when the children allowed Rowdie to chew up one of The Girl's summer flip-flops although, while we are on the subject; it snowed around us yesterday-what in the world are flip-flops doing out and about in the house this time of year? Not to mention being anywhere near the dog who is, let's face it; quite fond of chewing on thongs.

And, by thongs, I mean flip-flops not, like, thong underwear or anything.

Um, not that I have thong underwear just laying around the house for the dog to chew on, I swear; my thongs went the way of the garbage bin the minute I quit Old Job.

To recap:

-I love watching the kids play sports that they enjoy but, damn, I am grateful for this unscheduled time.

-The Girl had probably outgrown those flip-flops, anyway so, I am grateful that we didn't lose a good pair of shoes.

-I no longer work at a job that requires me to wear dress pants thus creating a need to wear thong underwear, thank God.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Knew That Spider Was Trouble

The night before last, as the Man-Cub was preparing for bed, I heard him urgently calling his sister to his room. Once The Girl got there I heard her squeal like, well, like a girl and I had no choice but to investigate.

What I found when I got to the room almost made me squeal; in the tarantula habitat were not one but two tarantulas. Two.

The thought that Tank had spontaneously reproduced a twin was so damaging to my psyche; my mind auto-piloted its way to its Happy Place simply for its own protection…rainbows, butterflies, unlimited amounts of pink frosted donuts with no caloric consequences….and I was still disturbed by the sight.

Luckily, The Girl realized that Tank had merely shed his exoskeleton and had not spontaneously reproduced like a freaking Tribble nor had he cloned himself in some diabolical arachnid science experiment. Whew! Dodged that bullet!

I am grateful that: I managed not to have a stroke, not to have bad dreams that night and not to immediately throw that fucking spider right out the front door.

Which is probably a blessing because, I mean, what if he did have diabolical cloning powers and he then came back with reinforcements? Huh? It would be really hard to find something to be grateful for amongst all that mess.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Grateful, Day Four

After viewing the lines outside the polls this morning; I am grateful that Hugh and I voted early. While I did have to stand in line for a while with The Girl, since voting was an assignment for her Social Studies class; the line for Kid’s Voting wasn’t nearly as long as the line for the adult voting and we were through it in no time at all.

On the subject of voting; I’m grateful to live in a country where we-the people-decide who will govern us. We may not always make the best choices, we may not always have the best candidates to choose from but, we have the opportunity to make that choice and that is a lot more than people in other countries can say.

Of course, I’m not exactly grateful for the recorded phone messages interrupting my dinner, junk mail items crowding my mailbox or the nasty rhetoric thrown around on both sides of the campaign but, that’s almost over now, too. Thank goodness.

While I am in such a grateful mood, I should also tell you that I did a new exercise workout yesterday and I am extremely grateful to have made it through the thing without throwing up.


Hey, this whole month of gratitude thing isn’t going to be nearly as challenging as one might have expected!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Just to Show My Appreciation

Halloween was a blast for both the kids and the adults. Our Trick-or-Treating excursion netted the kids each a huge bag full of candy and we didn’t even venture that far-just around our neighborhood. The weather was gorgeous, warm enough for the kids to wear their costumes without jackets and for Jana and I to enjoy the evening without carting a thermos full of Irish coffee.

Oh, we carted the thermos, anyway; we like Irish coffee.

And, we laughed a lot, like usual. One of the biggest laughs we got came from the illiterate children of our small town who identified Kaley not as Pippi Longstocking as she was meant to be but as “that girl from the Wendy’s commercials”, the hell is up with that? Do these children not read the classics?

I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to read them as a child and that I then read them to my children; they may not have been totally interested in the adventures of Pippi or Laura Ingalls Wilder or in the sleuthing abilities of Nancy Drew but, by God, if they see a Halloween costume featuring a girl in bright red braids that stick out hither and yon, at least they know she isn’t shilling for a hamburger joint.

Speaking of things that I am thankful for; it’s November! The month that we recognize and celebrate our blessings, in light of which I have challenged myself to spend each day recognizing at least one thing in my life for which I am grateful. I’m calling it my Month of Gratitude and I have challenged the kids to try it as well.

This morning, the Cub informed me that he is grateful for the time change because it is light outside when he goes to feed Rowdie. The Girl is grateful for her friends, a common refrain that I anticipate we will hear quite often this month. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

I’m grateful that I have a husband who indulges my desire to celebrate holidays in a Big Way. He worked his bum off to decorate the house for Halloween and it was a huge hit with all the neighbors and with the Trick-or-Treaters. Most men would scoff at the notion but not my Hugh, he dives in head-first and, for that, I am truly grateful.
And, of course, let's not forget Irish coffee. Irish coffee is a blessing all it's own.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! Thank you, Thankyouverymuuuch!

When I asked the Man-Cub what he planned to be for Halloween this year, I was as surprised as anyone to hear him reply "I want to be the ghost of Elvis". But, you know, I like to encourage my kids' creativity so, there ya go.

No doubt, the real Elvis would be rolling in his grave, if you know, he were really dead and not living in hiding somewhere on the Vegas strip.

Or, if he hadn't been abducted by aliens or whatever the popular theory is these days.

For her part, The Girl picked out this costume.

I'm not entirely certain what she is supposed to be but it met both of our Specified Criteria for Acceptable Halloween Costumes:
Mine-it shows neither visible cleavage nor butt crack and, hers-it is green and kind of goth.

The Girl, being a Middle Schooler and all, is only slightly more interested in having double root canals performed without anesthesia than she is in having me anywhere near the school for today's festivities so; she's on her own.
The Man-Cub, on the other hand, still in that unblemished blush of love for his parents, has invited me to attend his classroom party. I am taking the Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein cookies that we baked and decorated together and am certain to have a good time.
Tonight, Chris, Jana and the kids are coming over to join us in the annual pilgrimage to beg candy from the neighbors followed by a bowl of hot chili and a marathon session of scary movies.
In preparation for the event, Hugh is taking the day off to decorate the front yard and porch for the Trick-or-Treaters. He has some new ideas and some creepy stuff up his sleeve and it should be another great year.

So, happy Trick-or-Treating!

Be safe out there.