Friday, December 31, 2010

2010. The Year of the Sloth

I have to admit, 2010 was not my personal best. Although a lot of really wonderful things happened and although I enjoyed a lot of good fortune, I don’t feel like I did a very good job of running my life, rather; my life was running me.

A lot of that had to do with the crazy schedules that we kept due to the kids’ various sporting endeavors and with our work schedules being kind of all over the place but, mainly, it had to do with my apparent inability to motivate myself to use what little free time I had for things that didn’t involve sticking a fork into my mouth or sitting on the couch with the remote control in my hand.

I’m going to do better in 2011. Not that I’m resolving to do better, I don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions; I’m just saying, I’m going to do better.

Luckily, I have these guys to encourage and support me.


And, to kick me in the rear on the rare occasion that I need the motivation. I’m guessing there will be a lot of butt-kicking in my New Year and, that's ok; thanks to 2010, my butt is a much larger target.

Welcome 2011! Now, let's get cracking.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Just in, Local Weatherman Needs a Swift Kick in the Teeth

We finally got the epic snowstorm that the weatherman predicted the other day.


Yep, epic.

In fact, I hope we don’t hurt ourselves digging out.


The good news is, it also snowed in the high country and, since our sledding hill of choice is located at a higher elevation than our home, the epic storm may have dumped enough snow to cover the rocks juuuust enough to make them invisible. That will certainly add to the excitement of the day; who wouldn’t want to play the sledding version of Russian Roulette?

I guess I can’t really blame the weatherman for this fiasco, after all, he doesn’t control the weather; he just raises the hopes of outdoor enthusiasts by tossing around words like epic when what he probably meant to say was “sorry folks, there will be no snow this New Year but, hey! Coldmiser got the memo about the warm temperatures and you can now expect below freezing temperatures! “

So, while I can’t blame him for the weather, I do reserve the right to want to kick him in the teeth.

Speaking of…someone recently suggested to me that pursuing treatment for Gilligan might not be worth the vet bill, you know, given his advanced age and all. I also considered kicking said person in the teeth but I restrained myself.

It is the holiday season, after all.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heatmiser Is Determined to Ruin My New Year


I’ve complained about the warm temperatures we have been having this month. I think I also complained about the fact that we have had no snow so far this winter and, truly, we have had not a single flake float down from above. Not one.

The no-snow thing is particularly distressing because it puts our annual New Year’s Day sledding trip in jeopardy since the idea of sledding down a rocky hillside appeals to no one in my family. Well, the Man-Cub might enjoy it but he enjoys any activity that involves hurling himself from heights. Also, he is an accident magnet so his opinion doesn’t really count. Anyway, the rest of us are really holding out hope for an eleventh-hour snowstorm. Or three.

And, our local television weatherman totally raised our hopes last night by forecasting an “epic” snowstorm for today and into tomorrow. Unfortunately, the weatherman is a big fat liar because we still have no snow.

New Year’s Day is three days away.

I’m thinking Coldmiser needs to kick his brother’s ass to the curb and return us to our normally scheduled weather program.


Or, I need to invest in metal toboggans because, our inflatable snow tubes will not hold up to the jagged edges of all those rocks. And, hell, yes; we’re still going. I'm just going to pack a few Bandaids, cold compresses and our insurance cards.

Tradition will not be denied.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: The Aftermath


It takes about a week for me to get all of my holiday decorations set up; to find the perfect arrangement for the village pieces, the right place to display the Jim Shore nativity set, the best possible place to hang each ornament on the tree and the most visually pleasing way to utilize each of the other million and ten items that only come out of the attic once a year. Then, we enjoy the fruits of my labors for approximately five weeks before it is time to take it all down again, a process that takes considerably less time than it did to put it all out in the first place.

Every year, I tell myself that I won’t get everything out the following year; that I’ll cut back on the decorations, on the baking list, on the activities that I insist we pursue each year in the name of the Christmas Spirit and, every year; I fail to follow through on that vow.

You know what they say the definition of insanity is, right? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Finally! A diagnosis!

I wonder if this is covered by Aflac.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 1, Merry Christmas to All and To All a Good Night


What a fabulous day! It started at 6:00 this morning, a full hour later than expected; thanks, kids! Thanks for the extra hour of sleep!

Present unwrapping commenced at 6:02 and was finished by 7:00 with every member of the family receiving pretty much everything on their gift list, including myself, who received the new Tamron 18-270 mm lens for my camera. The lens that allows me to focus from this


To this


without changing the lens.

It. Is. Awesome.

Also awesome? The fact that Gilligan is still around to pose for these pictures and, by pose for, I mean; to lay on the tree skirt while glaring at me as I take his picture.

 After the week we have had with him; I’ll take it. Thanks, Santa!

As I said, Santa was generous with each member of my household. The Teenager got the phone that she had been hoping for as well as a laptop computer for which she dared not hope.

The Man-Cub got a phone of his own as well as a PSP and a Tony Hawk skateboard game for the Wii. He was pretty stoked which, in teenager-speak means he was quite pleased.

For his part, Hugh received a fish finder for the boat, the super-fancy kind that will enable him to reel in entire schools of fish (I’m guessing. You know, based on how much it cost. Also, has anyone seen my right kidney? I sold it on the black market in order to pay for Hugh’s fish finder and I would kind of like to buy it back) as well as a European shoulder bag that most men would kill for (ha! I totally hid a bottle of 12 year old scotch in a new purse and made him open it just to see the look on his face! For the record? While Hugh loves 12 year old Balvenie Scotch, he is not a fan of the man-purse, bah,ha,ha,ha,ha! BUT, I got a new purse out of the deal. Win-win!).

video


I appologize for the crappy quality of the video but, you know, 6:00 in the morning. Only so much one can do ,yo.

Following the hour of rabid unwrapping of gifts, we toiled about in the kitchen, preparing a turkey feast with all the trimmings. Currently, we are all in the process of recovering from a collective cheesecake coma and are watching one of the fifteen DVDs gifted to the various members of my family who arrived yesterday to help us celebrate the holiday.

Later, we might eat one of the popcorn balls that we made last night during our traditional popcorn ball-making extravaganza. So tasty and, so much fun!





But, in the meanwhile, I am nursing a (really large) glass of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio while thanking God for the blessing bestowed upon me, including my family, the roof over my head, the food on our plates, the friends I hold most dear and, most importantly this year; the whisper-thin marmalade kitty still sleeping underneath my Christmas tree.


I have been blessed. So very blessed.

Friday, December 24, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 2, Settling in For a Long Winter’s Night


It’s Christmas Eve and we all know what that means; a visit from the Big Guy! My household is awash in anticipation of his arrival and preparations for welcoming him are underway; the debate over which cookies Santa might prefer on his plate tonight chief among them.

For the record, I vote chocolate chip while the children are split between frosted sugar cookies and gingerbread.

And, yes, this debate is serious because, one of my children still believes in Santa (hint; it’s not The Teenager). Yes, at the somewhat advanced age of twelve, the Man-Cub still believes in the Big Guy. And, while I’m relatively certain that he has his share of doubts, he has done a remarkable job of setting them aside in favor of clinging to the notion of magic flying reindeer, industrious toy-making elves and Santa’s ability to squeeze his rather large girth down really narrow chimneys.

I am so grateful for his continuing belief in the special magic of this season for a number of reasons, the very least of which is; it makes my own belief in Santa seem somewhat less absurd.

Why, yes, Virginia; I do believe in Santa. It is a belief that I will take with me to my grave, a belief that I think makes me a kinder person, one far less likely to become a bitter old woman somewhere down the road. It is a belief that fuels my desire to create as many warm and wonderful memories as I possibly can for my children who will, ideally, go on to create warm and wonderful holiday memories for their own children, ensuring that future generations also believe in the generous and kind nature of a being who asks nothing from children save for the promise that they be nice.

I believe in Santa. Not the man in the red suit, exactly but, in the principals that Santa best exemplifies; that kindness begets kindness. Generosity begets generosity. And that one person can make a world of difference in the life of another person.

I believe.

I also really like chocolate chip cookies but, that is neither here nor there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 3, the Day Before the DAY BEFORE


As of 2:25 yesterday, the kids were officially on vacation from school. Actually, since she had finished her finals and was not interested in watching movies and helping the teachers clean their classrooms, The Teenager opted not to attend school yesterday at all so, technically; she’s been on vacation since 3:30, Tuesday. In contrast, the Man-Cub was more than happy to attend school because his class was going to the theater in town to see the new Narnia movie. Also, he thinks cleaning classrooms is suh-weet!

For the record, kids on vacation are quite similar to mental patients granted a three-day leave. The only exception being that, following two weeks of this, I will be the one who needs to be committed. This sucks on a variety of levels, not the very least of which being the fact that I cannot weave a basket to save my life. On the other hand, I hear those straightjackets are actually somewhat comfortable.

And we are moving on.

Last night, after celebrating Hugh’s birthday at one of our favorite restaurants, we hit the Hellmouth for some unplanned browsing and the purchase of stupid things that we didn’t really need (tis the season!). One item that Hugh deemed of absolute necessity was a gingerbread house kit, this despite the fact that The Teenager wailed and gnashed her teeth and declared herself too old to decorate a gingerbread house while rending her garments in a most dramatic fashion.

Gingerbread house-a-palooza is scheduled for tomorrow night despite The Teenager’s protests.

In Gilligan news, we continue to see signs of improvement although we have accepted the fact that he will never recover completely and will always require some degree of special care. Now, ask us if we care about the additional effort involved in keeping him healthy and well. We do not; we are quite willing to go the distance.

Speaking of going the distance, my parents are scheduled to arrive either today or tomorrow, depending on the weather. My older sister and her family will arrive tomorrow as well. And, then, CHRISTMAS!

I’m so excited, I can hardly stand myself. Soon, the anticipation will drive me to climb the walls, giggle spontaneously, squeal like a child and run in place, Flintstones-style.

I’m going to fit right in with my kids, is what I’m saying.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 4, Just Because I Say I’m Ready Doesn’t Mean That I Am


Presents purchased and wrapped, check.

Goodies baked and ready to make their debut on the silver tray purchased especially for that purpose, check.

Turkey thawing in the fridge, check.

Groceries purchased and stored, check.

On the surface, it appears that I am prepared for Santa’s arrival. At the very least I am prepared for the arrival of my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew but; I cannot shake the nagging thought that I have forgotten something.

I guess I’ll figure it out, eventually. Probably at 10:01 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Too bad the stores close at 10:00 sharp.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 5, ‘Tis the Season for Raging Migraine Headaches


Gilligan continues to improve, allowing the family to relax in our diligence. Unfortunately, for me, relaxation following a period of extreme stress almost inevitably leads to a migraine and, this experience has been no different.

Immediately upon returning home following yesterday’s visit to the vet, I was hit with a double migraine, something that I have not experienced since I was pregnant with the Man-Cub. Fortunately, I had my faithful Imitrex inhalers on hand and, that combined with a bottle of diet Pepsi and four Excedrin Migraine caplets managed to put me into a deep enough sleep to ward off the nausea that usually accompanies the headache.

Today, I am still feeling the effects of the headache as well as that of the medication; drowsiness, dull throbbing in the temples, weakness and tension in the back of my neck and a feeling of loopiness; not to be confused with my general state of loopiness, in case you were wondering.

Loopiness or not, I must forge ahead with the chores that I have left to accomplish before Christmas, including cleaning my house from top to bottom, wrapping the last of the presents, making the last three batches of fudge (mint chocolate, butterscotch and chocolate peanut butter), baking three loaves of pumpkin bread as well as a few loaves of banana bread to replace what Gilligan has eaten (thank you lord jeebus!) and, I need to wrap Hugh’s birthday present before tomorrow for, tomorrow is his birthday.

It seems overwhelming, to be sure but I am relatively confident that I can manage it all. Or, I will chuck the list out the window and spend the evening cuddling with Gilligan on the couch while we watch a movie marathon featuring It’s a Wonderful Life, Jingle All the Way, The Grinch and Dickens’s Christmas Carol.

It could go either way, see above: LOOPINESS.

Monday, December 20, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 6, Miracle on Sixth Street

Friday morning, I called the vet’s office to see if they could get Gilligan in for an appointment, he was still having litter box issues and had stopped eating. The vet was out of the office and an appointment was made for Monday at 10:30.

By 3:00 that afternoon, Gilligan was in complete distress, stumbling as he attempted to walk, incontinent and obviously failing. Hugh called the vet on her personal cell phone and she told him that she was just getting back into town following a week in New Mexico with her son. She instructed Hugh to race Gilly in and, Hugh, The Teenager and the Man-Cub bundled him in warm towels and made the drive into town.

At that moment, I was relaxing on the massage table, about to begin a much needed rub down. Needless to say, the appointment was rescheduled, clothing was hastily thrown on and I met my teary-eyed husband and offspring at the vet’s office.

Gilly was…not good. The doctor diagnosed an extreme kidney and urinary tract infection and gently informed us that our fluffy furball was in acute renal failure. She showed Hugh how to administer subcutaneous liquids via an IV port in Gilly’s neck, prescribed a round of major antibiotics and told us to prepare ourselves for the worst. If Gilly made it through the weekend, she would see us at the previously-made appointment on Monday. She was…not hopeful.

That night, Gilly collapsed under the Christmas tree, unable to walk, unable to control his bladder, unable to eat and scarcely breathing. We took turns stroking his silky fur and whispering our most tender goodbyes.

When he made it through Friday night, we were grateful although, not optimistic. There was no improvement and, if possible, he was even weaker than the previous day. Hugh valiantly administered the subcutaneous fluids three or four times a day, sleeping next to Gilly on the floor, since he seemed to prefer being under the tree and we wanted him to be as peaceful as possible.


At one point Saturday night, Hugh settled Gilligan onto his chest as they reclined on the couch, a position that has always been a favorite of theirs and, in what we recognized as the ultimate gift to us, Gilly mustered up a low purr. It was the first time he had purred in a week and it was both the sweetest-and saddest-sound that I have ever heard. I sent the kids to their beds, convinced that Gilly would take his leave of us sometime during that night.

He didn’t.

And, while we didn’t see any improvement, we had to give him credit for fighting so hard.

Late last night (Sunday), I sat down on the couch next to Gilligan; we had bundled him in warm towels and were basically trying to keep him comfortable, having accepted the fact that there was very little else that we could do. I happened to have a plate of banana bread with me and Gilly’s head popped up at the scent of his favorite forbidden treat (since he was a kitten, he would jump up on the countertop to get at banana bread, often going so far as to chew through aluminum foil to obtain his prize). It was the first interest that he had shown in food since Thursday and you can be sure that I was not about to deny him. He ate almost as entire slice from the palm of my hand; I cried the entire time.

This morning, as Hugh lay sleeping beside him, Gilligan got up, stumbled over the train that encircles the Christmas tree and tried to drag himself to his litter box. The motion awakened Hugh, who put him in the box where, for the first time in over a week, he peed appropriately. Then, he took a few bites of kibble from Hugh’s hand, lapped at his water dish and then curled up for a nap, thoroughly exhausted by his efforts. For the first time in three days, Hugh and I breathed a little easier.

At 10:30, we made that vet appointment.

As I type this, Gilligan is laying next to me on the couch. He is able to walk short distances, has used his litter box, is taking food by the mouth, has started to put up a fuss when Hugh administers his IV and has become quite vocal about the injustice visited upon him by being bathed in a warm bathtub.

I have no idea what tomorrow will hold for him but, today, he is gaining strength and we are starting to see more of the old Gilligan. We will continue to treat him with IV fluids, antibiotics, rest, prayer and banana bread and, with God’s grace, will celebrate our seventeenth Christmas with him on Saturday.

None of us could imagine a more precious gift nor can we deny that we have been blessed witha small miracle right here on Earth.

God is good.

Friday, December 17, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 9, Where Are You Christmas? As Sung by Cindy Lou Who


Still no snow here in Petticoat Junction. In fact, the temperature hasn’t dipped much below 45 degrees all month. I have yet to break out my pretty winter coats, I haven’t worn a hat once and I couldn’t even begin to tell you where my gloves are. Ok that is a lie; the obsessive organizer in me will tell you that my entire collection of gloves (of which there are many) is safely tucked away in the canvas bin marked with my name in the closet in the guestroom, top shelf, right next to the canvas bins conveniently marked with the names of each of my family members. This need for the organization of winter appropriate gear being, perhaps, my only illness.

Well, one of them, anyway and, as is often the case with me; I digress.

Where was I? Right, bemoaning the lack of holiday-appropriate weather.

So, tonight Petticoat Junction is hosting its’ annual Parade of Lights, an event that usually adds to my enjoyment of the season. This year, I am so not feeling the Christmas Spirit at all and I’m not convinced that standing on Main Street in a hoodie while watching festively decorated floats (trucks pulling trailers adorned with a single strand of lights and a few kids in reindeer antlers) will do much to increase that spirit in me.

Maybe tomorrow’s final assault on the mall will help but, I’m not counting on it; at this point I would almost welcome a visit by three spirits sometime during the night. Maybe they could flip my Spirit Switch.

Or, it could snow a little** and all would be right with my world.

**And, by a little, you know I mean in huge amounts but, only on the sides of the road so as to not cause my family members undue stress in reaching my house next week. Now really, is that so much to ask for?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 11, The Demented Have No Business Decorating Cookies

Last night’s cookie-decorating extravaganza went smashingly well; the project took two hours, a double recipe of frosting, a viewing of the entire DVD of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and the patience of a host of heavenly angels. We worked side-by side as a family but, in the end, it was our individual decorating styles that resulted in the most eclectic collection of cookies produced in our kitchen to date.

For instance, I toiled over each cookie, attempting a work of art with each new design. The Teenager, on the other hand, decorated her cookies in an assembly-line fashion, finishing in record time, with near-identical results.

The Man-Cub created the most, um…unique cookies which actually comes as no surprise given his penchant for using as many edible decorative items as possible per cookie and, you know, the fact that he is color blind.

Hugh’s cookies warrant a discussion all their own most notably for the fact that he crafted such interesting items as:

-A group of three snowmen upon which something had peed, seriously; yellow spots in the otherwise pure white snow. Oh, and one of them was wearing a fig leaf over his private parts. For the record? I didn’t know snowmen had private parts, either.

-The Liberty Bell. No cheesy silver Christmas bells for him; history is alive and well as residing in our cookie tin.

-Officer Santa Claus, otherwise known as Santa in a policeman’s uniform, complete with silver badge and holstered gun which, will come in handy should the elves become unruly and stage a coup of Santa's workshop.

-A red and green striped reindeer.

In the end, we had a good time and, I can check one more chore off my holiday To Do list. Two items, actually, since we will be using many of the cookies to fill gift baskets for friends and neighbors.

With the obvious exception of the peed-on snowmen. I mean, really.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 12, Holy Crap, Where Is This Month Going?

Twelve days until Christmas and I have yet to finish anything that I have started; not my baking, not my shopping, not my endless nagging about how quickly Christmas is coming…

Nor have I watched one single holiday classic, I keep missing them on the regular television schedule and have been too lazy busy to pop a DVD into the player, all of which changes this evening; Hugh, the children and I are going to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while decorating the mess of cookies that I baked this weekend. This is a traditional event for us and, while it is occurring a bit later than normal, we are all looking forward to it and, by all, I mean the Man-Cub and myself; The Teenager has been rolling her eyes and whining about the prospect of doing it since I informed her of the plan yesterday and I wouldn’t exactly call Hugh’s sarcastic “great, sooo looking forward to that” to be a ringing endorsement of the plan, either.

Still, we shall soldier on.

Speaking of soldiers…


Threats of “cracking your nuts with one of these guys” may prove effective on one out of two of the cookie decorating naysayers.

Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.

Friday, December 10, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 16, Miracle at the Hellmouth

I went to the Hellmouth today to do yet more Christmas shopping. Once I turned into the parking lot from the highway, I made my customary right turn and headed for the third row from the end of the building to park in my usual spot.

What? Like you don’t practice a parking ritual every time you go to your local Hellmouth. Puh-leeze!

Today, however, as I was driving down the row I was suddenly headed right into a compact car that was clearly headed in the WRONG direction and, let me tell you, those rows? They are narrow.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the Hellmouth? Have I mentioned that EVERY FLIPPING TIME that I go to the Hellmouth I am confronted with apathy, stupidity or both? And here it was, in the parking lot, before I had even crossed the threshold into the bowels of hell, stupidity at its finest.

My immediate reaction was to swear under my breath (or, you know, OUTLOUD). Next I mentally weighed my options for the moment when our cars squeaked by each other.

I could:

a. Flip the bird.

b. Paste a scowl on my face and let my expression do the talking.

c. Shake my head at the driver as one would an errant child.

As I was weighing the options, however, the woman behind the wheel did a most precious thing; she raised her hands up, shrugged her shoulders and made the “I’m loco” motion where-in you point your index finger at your temple and rotate it in small circles while simultaneously cocking your head to one side as your tongue lolls out of the corner of your mouth. Then she smiled the most radiant smile that I think I have ever seen and not only did I forgive her completely but I think I fell a little bit in love.

Right there in the parking lot of the Hellmouth, a Christmas Miracle!

Who woulda thunk it?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 17, All Is Well That Ends With Pizzelles

I replaced my pizzelle iron this morning with a newer make of the same model; two bucks says I find my missing iron five minutes after I am finished breaking in the new one....

Nope.

It is now several hours and six dozen pizzelles later and still no sign of the missing pizzelle iron. I have no idea what could have happened to it and I cannot dredge up the energy to be concerned about it any longer.

Besides, I haz pizzelles.

And, if the missing iron should make a surprise reappearance in my life, I will be able to make twice as many pizzelles in the same amount of time next year. Glass half full, yada, yada.

On a completely different topic, save for the fact that he also likes pizzelles; Hugh is traveling to Nebraska tomorrow to officiate his first ever college wrestling tournament. He’s really, really excited. And, nervous but, I keep reminding him that he will do great, and, on the off-chance that he royally screws the pooch; he will have an eleven-hour drive home during which time he can ruminate over whatever mistakes he made, allowing him to get over it before he arrives on our doorstep.

Also, I will have pizzelles with which to soothe his wounded pride.

Say it with me people, glass half full, yada, yada.

As an aside, how many times can I use the word pizzelles in one blog post? How many lights are on this strand?


I’d say it’s about even.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 18, All Otis Wants for Christmas Are His Two…I’m not Even Going to Finish That Sentence

Otis the Hardware Store Cat went to the vet today for his neutering; he is now officially two nuts short of a Sundae and, to say that he is unimpressed with this recent state of events would be a vast understatement.

He may forgive us, eventually but; the jury is still out.

Speaking of juries, guess who got a summons to appear for jury duty? I’m not worried about having to actually serve; announcing that I am married to a cop and that all defendants are guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty! generally guarantees me exclusion. Not that I’ve actually tried it but, I‘m confident that it will work out that way.

Hey, you know what is pissing me off, today?

Segue train just jumped the tracks on that transition, no? Yes.

Anyway, I’m very irritated because I cannot find my pizzelle iron. I only use it once a year and, the rest of the year it lives under the counter with the rest of the appliances that don’t see daily use yet, now it is gone. I have no idea what could have happened to it and I have looked everywhere for it on the off-chance that Hugh took his life in his hands at some point and moved it. No luck.

This could seriously undermine my ability to do good hair. No, wait, that’s from Steele Magnolias, what I mean is; this could seriously undermine my ability to finish my holiday baking which will undermine my ability to pull off another fabulous Christmas weekend.

I am almost as displeased as Otis. Because everyone knows that having one’s reproductive organs unwillingly removed from their body is exactly the same kind of horrible as not being able to bake delicate waffle-like cookies.

Exactly the same.


                                                   Otis would beg to disagree.

Monday, December 06, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 20, Four Down and Four Meeeelion to Go

I’m talking cookies, of course. This weekend, despite being ridiculously busy with a host of activities (more to come on that), I managed to bake four different varieties of holiday treats. I baked chocolate chippers, drop sugar cookies, my mother’s oatmeal raisin cookies (known affectionately in these parts as Son-in-Law cookies due to Hugh and my brother-in-law’s love for them) and, chewy gingerbread cookies. I baked those particular varieties because they are the least time-consuming of my cookie inventory because, as I said, cah-razee biz-ay over here.

Crazy.

Saturday the Man-Cub and I rang bells for The Salvation Army for two hours in front of one of the local super markets. This is an activity we participate in almost every year and, like every other year; my heart warmed at the generosity shown by the people we encountered. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Man-Cub wore his “dancing hat”, the one that plays Jingle Bells and waves around to the beat while perched on his adorable little head. Old ladies appear to love little boys in dancing hats; little boys who aren’t afraid to shake their booty in front of a grocery store for the entire world to see. I enjoyed it, too.


While we were ringing bells, The Teenager was at home, glued to her cell phone, waiting for word from Denver, where our Pirate football team was playing in the state championship. When she texted us to say that the team had won, we gave a little cheer and shook the bells harder. For the record, this is the team’s second state title in three years, not too shabby for a small school.

After bell ringing, I took the kids to see our community theater’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant, Ever. It was performed by the children’s theater group, comprised of local kids and they did a fabulous job. They may have actually salvaged any hope of The Teenager enjoying theater since she declared the play “Waaayy better than that thing you took me to see the last time”. So, yes, there is hope.

After the play we went out for dinner and then home where we baked the first two varieties of cookies of the holiday season. We also managed to successfully defend them from a raid by Hugh when he got home from officiating at a wrestling tournament in another town although, a new hiding place will have to be located if we are to have any cookies left for Santa come December 24th.

Sunday was spent preparing for the charter banquet for our new ASTRA club, which is the junior arm of the woman’s service club to which I belong and the club that I have spent so much time working with the last few months.

The banquet was held at our community center and we catered it ourselves, we being the women from my service club. With half of our membership, including three of our officers, in Denver at the state football championships, we weren’t sure how many people to expect but, happily, the team made it home early in the day and we ended up with all but three of our 23 members and were missing only one officer.

The banquet went really well and, despite stressing over how many parents to expect (Mini rant: Why in the name of good manners do people not RSVP to formal invitations that clearly ask for RSVPs? Why? Why, Dear Abby, why???? End mini rant), we had plenty of food, lots of support from the kid’s families and a really lovely event.

After which I came home, baked two more varieties of cookies, chased Hugh out of the kitchen approximately fourteen times and fell into bed, exhausted and with aching feet.

Tonight, round three of cookies baking, with plans for two more varieties; pizzelles and spritz cookies because, as The Teenager says, you can never have too many Christmas cookies.


Also, cookies are yummm-ay!

Friday, December 03, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 23, The Traditions Live On

I came by my love of all things Christmas quite naturally, at the feet of my mother who also did the holidays in a big way. Every year, she baked too many treats to count, some more popular (Popcorn balls, how we love thee!) than others (does the world really need another fruitcake, mother?) but the important thing was; she made them every year. Without fail. Every year.

I’m a big fan of tradition thanks to my mother.

And, as I said, a big fan of Christmas. How could I not be? This was the outfit my mother dressed me in for my first ever holiday…


As an aside, doesn’t my mom rock the beehive? And, doesn’t my older sister look happy to have a baby sister to dote upon? Yeah, she got over that fairly quickly; in fact, I think the reason she looked so happy in this photograph…


…was that she was under the mistaken impression that I could be returned to the store from whence I came if only mother had saved the receipt. She did, right? She saved that receipt? Tell me you saved that receipt!

Its ok, eventually she warmed up.

Aside from baking delicious treats, my mother also made it a tradition to take us all to see Santa, Christmas wish-lists clutched in our chubby little hands.


Apparently, I should have asked for a tissue that year.

Of course, we had a Christmas tree every year; ours was fake due to my younger sister’s allergy to the real thing. Each year, my dad wrestled the tree down from the attic and engaged in a battle of the wills, Man vs. Tree; spouting his own bastardized version of curse words so as to protect our delicate ears from the real thing (sappo-mother was a huge favorite and, one I use myself these days. Try it! It’s fun!) until my mother gently requested that he run to the store to pick up some item she was in sudden dire need of at which point she would successfully assemble the tree, herself.

He said sappo-mother! Ha, ha, ha, ha!

And, on Christmas morning, she would pose my sisters and me with our holiday loot for a photograph to commemorate the day. I did that with my own kids up until just a few years ago.

In fact, I do a lot of the same things with my kids that my parents did with us because, as I’ve said, I am a sucker for tradition.

Indeed, last week, when Hugh was putting up our Christmas tree and Part A slipped out of Part B, and Hugh dropped an F bomb (and, Part B); I got a little misty because; he totally meant to say “You sappo-mother!” I just know it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 24, Christmas Carols Are the Worst Brain Worm EVER

Last Friday I asked Hugh to switch the satellite station at the store from easy listening to holiday music, figuring that shoppers like to hear carols while sorting through holiday merchandise, except, of course, for when the carols are being piped through the store and the holiday merchandise consists of jack-o-lanterns and Power Ranger costumes, Hellmouth, I’m looking at you and, as usual, I digress…

…anyhoo, Hugh changed the station and the onslaught of carols began at the store. One song, in particular, has caused me many minutes of emotional turmoil because, the first fifty times that I heard it, I swore the lyrics contained the phrase, “It’s Christmas, time to lick the donkey” and I was like Dubbya. Tee. Eff? Lick the donkey? Is this some strange pagan ritual of which I am completely unaware?

And, no…on the fifty-first playing of the song, I actually went to the office to view the station monitor which is when I learned that the title of the song is Dominick, the Italian Christmas Donkey and, a quick search on Google provided the actual lyrics of the song which include no mention whatsoever of licking the donkey. Here is a small sample, just in case you have never heard the song and totally think I am making this shit up.

Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It's Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.
(la la la-la la-la la la la la)
(la la la-la la-la la-ee-oh-da)
Santa's got a little friend,
His name is Dominick.
The cutest little donkey,
You never see him kick.
When Santa visits his paisons,
With Dominick he'll be.
Because the reindeer cannot,
Climb the hills of Italy.

And, yes, the hee-haw, hee-haw sounds pretty much like one would expect to hear issuing forth from a donkey.

So, no licking; mystery solved. You know, other than the part where I have to ask myself what the hell a donkey has to do with Christmas.

Maybe the Italians know.

                                                                Hey, paisons! It's time to lick the donkey!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

25 Days of Christmas: Day 25, the Countdown Begins


Soooo, yeah…December 1st and I have accomplished almost nothing on my Holiday To Do list. Usually, by this time, I have mailed all of my out-of-town presents, ordered my Christmas cards, started baking and decorated the house. What have I done so far this year? Decorated the house. To say that I feel a bit overwhelmed and behind already this holiday season would be an understatement.

Granted, I will have my cards ordered by this evening (just received the Get ‘Em FREE code from Shutterfly!) and, I have my out-of town presents purchased, I just have to wrap them and package them for shipping which, really, shouldn’t take more than an hour.

And, I could start baking this evening as well, you know, after I take the Man-Cub to tutoring and to basketball practice. Oh! And, after Hugh and I attend the High School’s wrestling team’s annual fundraising banquet. And, of course, after I wrap those gifts and order those cards.

But, why rush, right? I still have 24 days.

Commence hyperventilating into a paper sack in….three, two, one…

Monday, November 29, 2010

If Scrooge Had Known About Shutterfly, He Would Have Been Less, Well... SCROOGISH

Every year I wrangle the children together for our annual Christmas card photo session and folks? It. Is Never. Fun.

You know what is fun? Using Shutterfly to design cool cards using those photos. And, while the photo session might take anywhere from one to five years off my lifespan, the ease with which I place my Shutterfly order makes the life I have left worth living.

Last night, I uploaded the pictures from my most recent session of banging my head against a wall our most recent photo session. Then, I perused the enormous collection of cards from which to choose this year’s design. It was no easy task considering how awesome all of the designs are, but, I found a few favorites, designs like this


 and this.

When I was finished creating my own unique card (which you will not be seeing because it is a surprise), I spent some time looking at the fun calendar designs offered by Shutterfly. Photo calendars would make an awesome gift for friends and family so; I’m thinking of doing a sports-themed one featuring The Teenager and the Man-Cub (they do play sports year-round, after all, perfect material for a calendar). And, by thinking about it, I mean totally not doing it, Mom and Dad; the two of you are getting socks and underwear for Christmas. Say thank you!

Oooh, speaking of saying thanks, I should order some neat thank you cards to give to all the people who are kind enough to think about us this holiday season, Shutterfly has them, too. In fact, Shutterfly is one-stop shopping for people like me who enjoy using their creativity to produce one-of-a-kind gifts. Also, for people like me who hate to fight the crowds in the stores and who prefer to do their shopping from the comfort of their own homes. With a stiff drink to dull the pain from banging their head against the wall steaming mug of cocoa in their hands.

In addition, Shutterfly’s prices can’t be beat; the cards I chose normally cost a mere .90 each and they are going to be beautiful. And, free.

Ebenezer would totally approve

Another Year Older, None the Wiser

I had another birthday yesterday which officially makes me OLD. And, you know, old isn’t so bad; I get to ignore my son’s pitiful pleas for yet another ridiculously over-priced Leggo set at the Hellmouth and blame it on age-related deafness. I can excuse myself from Wii bowling on the grounds that I might snap a hip and, I get to indulge in frequent afternoon naps because that is what old people do.

Two points for aging.

Of course, when I was younger, I thought that old people had all the answers, knew what to do in any situation as well as the right thing to say for every occasion. Now, since I don’t know jack shit about anything, I have to assume that I was wrong ; aging won’t automatically make me smarter and that sucks.

I’ll take my two points back, now.

Speaking of points, I’m totally considering joining Weight Watchers Online after the first of the year. I have heard that counting points is a really easy way to help lose weight and, since I only want to lose a few pounds, it shouldn’t take very long. Plus, joining the program entitles me to recipes from the website and, lately my culinary arsenal is empty; I need new ideas.

Plus, I read somewhere that you can eat as many Christmas cookies as you want, after January 1st because calories don’t count in Christmas cookies once the holiday is over.

That’s my kind of program.

And, yeah, none the wiser, obviously.

Gah.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday: Blacker for Some than Others

I get the distinct impression that Otis the Hardware Store Cat doesn’t like his new holiday uniform…


First clue? He blew raspberries at the camera; I didn’t even know a cat could do that.


Then, he hid his face as though in shame; I think he is worried about losing street cred with the other tomcats in the neighborhood.


The Man-Cub gave him a straw and told him to suck it up…


...because, this could get a kid beat up in Middle School. You know, if word got out. Or, if your mother posted it to say, Facebook. Not that she would, or anything. I'm just sayin'.

Hmm, me thinks they call this leverage. Black Friday is starting to look up.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things To Be Thankful For

Free range turkey that practically melts in your mouth.


Healthy, if not slightly strange, children.


A husband who is willing to put up the Christmas tree before the turkey carcass is even cold.


At least one more day together.


We are blessed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Thanksgiving

There is a pumpkin pie baking in my oven, a pot of homemade turkey broth simmering on the stovetop and a pan of cranberry sauce merrily boiling away on the burner next to it; I’m feeling pretty smug about my culinary expertise right about now.

That is not to say that I have accomplished this all alone, indeed; the Man-Cub assisted in the making of the pie by seeding the pumpkins, peering anxiously into the oven as they roasted, pureeing the cooked pumpkin in the food processor, adding ingredients to the mixing bowl and pouring the batter into the pie shell. He is destined for a future as a pastry chef with his own reality television show, a line of high-priced exotic spices and a horde of groupies. Or, at the very least, he will be a connoisseur of pumpkin pie and there’s no shame in that.

Tomorrow, I plan to get an extra hour or so of sleep before wrestling Foghorn Leghorn (who, by the way was apparently a rooster, at least according to Wikipedia. Why did I think he was a turkey? I have no idea. Do I really care? No; my turkey looks like a Foghorn Leghorn therefore, he is) out of his salt bath. I’ve got the base of my stuffing ready to go so; I’ll just have to add vegetables, butter and broth to it before shoving it all up in Foghorn’s bidness and throwing him into the oven.

While he cooks, I’ll bake my rolls (double ovens, oh how I love thee!), prepare mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole. Also, during the day, I plan to watch the Macy’s parade with the kids while we decorate our Christmas tree. I’m also going to set up the rest of my decorations and, if the stars align just right, to take Christmas card photos of the kids. Really, though, since it will just be Hugh, the kids and me for dinner, I’m looking forward to it being a relaxed day.

And I’m thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preparing To Do Battle

My fresh-from-the-farmer (Grower? Rancher?)-turkey arrived today and I am pleased to report that he arrived both naked and headless. In addition, I’m relatively certain that the tasty bits of his innards are indeed safely tucked away in a little baggie located somewhere up his hoo-ha; I just haven’t had a chance to get all up in his business to make sure. Give me an hour or so.

Then, I plan to submerge Foghorn Leghorn in a bucket full of tasty brine where he will marinate for the next thirty-six hours before being subjected to a fisting with stuffing and a slow roast in a hot oven at which point my recurring nightmares featuring half-decapitated zombie turkeys armed with bloody basters and trussing twine will certainly cease in their entirety.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

If It Looks As Though I Could Burst Into Tears at Any Second, It’s Because I Could

Despite my optimistic nature and glass half-full philosophy of life, I find myself struggling to put a happy spin on a certain situation in my life, namely, the fact that my cat, Gilligan, is declining. Although the decline has been gradual, it has become extremely obvious over the past few days, the missed litter box fiasco being a symptom of the larger problem.

At this point, Gilly has lost most of his body weight despite eating from a menu fit for a king. When stroking his body, I picture my hands running over a soft bag of delicate bones and, lifting him to cuddle against my chest requires less energy than it would take me to lift a marmalade-colored whisper.

While climbing the fifteen stairs to the second floor of our home appears to present no problem to him; the task is accomplished at a slower pace than ever before and, descending the stairs doesn’t happen in any big hurry, either. His daytime naps are becoming even more frequent which is saying a lot for a cat who has always loved his naps and, it’s been a long time since he had the energy to bat at one of his cat toys.

I am just so sad about this. He was our first pet; coming to live with us as a tiny ginger puffball just days after we returned from our honeymoon. He spent the first few nights of his life with us sleeping in a tiny ball, nestled in Hugh’s armpit before adopting one of the pillows as his own. He was never very good about company, ignoring guests for the first day and throwing hissy-fits every day thereafter but; he was always loving and sweet toward the children and the dogs. He is agoraphobic, slightly anal about his space and completely in love with Hugh, whom he follows around the house until such time as the man finally offers him his lap.

He’s family and now, he’s failing and my heart is breaking and I can’t think of anything happy to say about that. Indeed, yesterday's joke about being able to replace my pets was the equivalent of whistling past the graveyard; if I joke about it, it won't happen. I wish that were true.

Really, I do.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Who Needs Babies? I Have Pets

A few years after the Man-Cub was born, I suffered from a wicked case of baby fever and, for just a few days; almost regretted my decision to have my tubes tied. Then, the Cub caught a particularly virulent case of stomach flu and, after two solid days of cleaning up barf, diarrhea and tears, I was pretty much over it.

This morning, I awoke to yet another pile of dog puke, a puddle of cat pee and a molten pile of someone’s diarrhea, probably the cat’s since it was a relatively small pile and was on a throw rug located in the vicinity of the litter box.

I have officially arrived at the conclusion that the only difference between raising pets and raising small people is the fact that pets require more vacuuming up after them which, as an aside, seriously, dog? Considering how much fur I empty from the vacuum canister every day, how do you have any hair left on your body?

And, I digress.

So, already this morning I have washed a load of laundry consisting of the covers to the dog’s beds since, that is what he soiled with his pukage, plus several towels used to sop up the puddle of cat pee (which was, conveniently, contained on the rubber mat placed under the litter box, making the accident less frustrating since it was clearly a near-miss of the litter box and not some jacked-up cry-for-attention cat thing and, the rags used to clean up the mystery-although more than likely cat generated-pile of poo.

This is exactly the kind of laundry I used to do when the kids were babies, so; please consider any possibility of baby fever for this girl to be OVER. Also, the next time one of the children casually mentions that it sure would be neat to get another puppy, you know, as company for Rowdie; manual strangulation of offending party may commence.

Ok, not really; I can replace my pets but I could never replace my children. Oh, hey! There’s another difference between the two! Huh.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some Things Are Worth the Risk of Spending Eternity in Hell

Yesterday I had to run into the Hellmouth for a few items while the Man-Cub was at tutoring. When I got to the store, I grabbed the first cart offered to me by the senior citizen manning the front door and started on my way. After only a couple of feet it was obvious that the cart was a Thunker (first clue, loud thunking noise emanating from the right front wheel) so; I turned around and traded it for another cart which, as is my luck when it comes to all things Hellmouth, was also a Thunker. Two different Thunkers later and I simply resigned myself to the fact that the Hellmouth employs only damaged carts and I began my shopping, albeit ten times more aware of the thunking noises coming from every other cart that passed me as I browsed.

Seriously, thunk- thunk, thunk- thunk, thunk-thunk, ad infinitum.

Then, a miraculous turn of events! In the pet section, I needed to move someone else's unattended cart in order to reach my preferred brand of cat litter and,when I did, lo and behold, no thunking. None! It was as silent as one of my children when asked to confess to a particularly heinous crime.

Dilemma!

I mean, the cart obviously belonged to someone else. But, you know, it was silent! So, I exchanged the items in the silent cart for the items in my cart (quick! Like a bunny!) and off I went, sans preferred litter but filled with euphoria over no longer having to listen to the grating noise of the Thunker.

Will I burn in Hell for this transgression? Maybe. Will my personal Hell feature an eternity of thunking noises? Probably. Did I care at that moment? Most certainly not.

As an aside, if you were shopping in the pet aisle of the local Hellmouth yesterday at around 4:00 Mountain Time and your perfectly quiet and reliable cart suddenly turned into a Thunker while you were debating the merits of canned salmon versus sliced beef; I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

Also, I would have gone with the sliced beef but, that’s just me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Insert Wolf Whistle and Fist Pump Here


People Magazine just named Ryan Reynolds as the Sexiest Man Alive, saving me from having to boycott the magazine's very existence as would have been the case had they tried to shove that fickle Brad Pitt down the throats of the American public.

People Magazine, I applaud you and, not just because Ryan Reynolds is the new Green Lantern, which makes my nerdy little geek heart swell to three times it's normal size.

Although, there is that.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Post Brought to You by Nothing in Particular and Many Things in General

I started listening to Christmas carols on my car stereo today; it is only a matter of time before we are inundated with them in the stores so I figured what the hell? Might as well get a refresher course on the Jingle Bell lyrics.

I made ham, roasted potatoes in cheddar sauce and garlic bay biscuits for dinner tonight which, if you believe my children, totally threw the planet off it’s’ axis, causing it to spin completely out of control. Why so, you may ask and, I shall tell you; because it isn’t a holiday. That’s right; apparently, I am only capable of making ham on a holiday, preferably one involving the imminent arrival of a particular jolly old elf. Where have I gone wrong with these children, I ask you.

The Sexiest Man Alive edition of People magazine comes out this week and rumor has it that Brad Pitt will take top honor. If this should happen, People magazine is dead to me. Dead.

Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton today. My dream of one day seeing The Teenager walk down the aisle wearing a diamond tiara and dragging a fifty foot train has been crushed, crushed, I say.

Gwenyth Paltrow is guest starring on Glee. HATE.

I just finished the last carton of Ben & Jerry’s carrot cake ice cream. It was a limited batch and I cannot replace it. Woe.

That is all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

All’s Well That Ends…Without Bloodshed

My day with The Teenager went quite well. We enjoyed several hours of shopping, indulged in peppermint mochas at Starbucks, gorged ourselves on Chinese (food, in case you were confused. Or,you know, nervous if you happen to be Chinese), volunteered an hour of our time at the fundraiser set-up and managed to stay awake through Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound at the local community theater; the staying awake part being a bigger challenge for The Teenager than for me since I actually enjoy theater while she would prefer ritualistic torture to bettering herself through culture. And, yes, if you asked her; I’m sure she would say they are one and the same.

Anyhoo. Time spent with my daughter in any endeavour is time well spent and I plan to arrange another Girl’s Day, soon.

The boys, on the other hand, didn’t fare quite as well and, despite two consecutive days of stalking through the woods in knee-deep snow, Bambi lives. On the bright side, no one got frostbite or, you know, shot their eye out.

Moving on…

…work today went well. I got the last of the Christmas displays done at the store, despite the antics of one pain-in-the-ass juvenile feline who, in news not entirely coincidental, will be getting his testicles snipped off by the end of the month. Unfortunately, the mere threat of castration has no discernible effect on the cat’s determination to ruin each and every festive holiday display that I set up but, that won’t keep me from shaking my fist at him while bellowing “Off with your nuts!” as he absconds with yet another ribbon streamer, bow or jingle bell. As an aside, I wonder if cat testicles could be fashioned into a set of click-clacks.

Discuss.


Wait, you want to do what with my balls?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Girls Day, No Weapons Allowed

The Teenager and I are spending the day together. First, we have to take the centerpiece I made for my women's club fundraiser to the bank at which the fundraising event will be held next Friday evening. While we are there, we are going to help the ladies set up the venue, checking out each of the festively decorated trees, centerpieces, wreaths and gift baskets. Then, we are going shopping, out to lunch, to more stores for more shopping, attending a holiday open house at a boutique owned by one of my friends, going to dinner and, finally, finishing the night at a performance of Broadway Bound at the local community theater. It’s going to be a full day and we are looking forward to it.

Plus, it will give me a chance to tease The Teenager about The Crush, which just never gets old. For me; I imagine it will start to wear thin on her right around, oh, noon or so. Maybe earlier.

Speaking of The Crush, Thursday night's dinner went quite well. That is, if you disregard the part where Hugh met the young man at the door with a gun. Oh yes, he did. And, while there is a rather long and boring story behind it (short version: he and the Man-Cub are going hunting today and he was checking their equipment so they would be ready to go), I find it far more entertaining to say that he was trying to be intimidating.

Which didn’t work at all, by the way; The Crush seemed quite unruffled and comfortable in our home. He even joked about the gun and volunteered that it could have been worse; Hugh could have met him at the door with a gun and a shovel. I think he’s going to fit in with this family and I’m guessing that, if nothing else; he and The Teenager will have a long and beautiful friendship. Minus any touchy-feely nonsense, of course, otherwise; there may very well be a gun and a shovel in his future.

And, while we are on the topic of Hugh’s guns, I will reiterate the fact that the boys are hunting today. My baby is traipsing through the woods on his first hunt. With a loaded gun; I’m going to need to focus on all the shopping that The Teenager and I are going to be doing just to keep my mind off this fact. And, while I hope he bags his first kill (gag), The Teenager and I will be bagging our own prey, starting at Sephora and working our way to the local chocolatier. For the record though, all the season-scented body wash, new make-up pallets and hand-dipped caramels in the world won’t ease my worries until we are all home safe and sound tonight.

That’s how I roll.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hello, Winter, It’s….Nice to See You?

Woke up to a light skiff of snow this morning which was a slightly more pleasant discovery than the pile of dog puke that awaited me on the throw rug by the back door but, only slightly.

I’m just not ready for freezing temperatures, shoveling snow and arguing with my son over whether or not he should wear a hat when shooting baskets outdoors (he should). I am, however, ready to break out my cute snow boots but, only because they are really, really cute and because they go so nicely with my wool pea coat and the jaunty little beret that I purchased on clearance at Old Navy last spring, otherwise, yeah; not ready to dance with Old Man Winter.

Something else I’m not quite ready for? Cooking dinner for The Teenager’s boyfriend “special friend”, AKA, The Crush but, that’s exactly what I’m doing tonight. On the one hand, it will be a nice chance for us all to get to know each other better. On the other hand, Hugh will have to fight the temptation to practice his intimidation skills and I’m expecting a conversation peppered with vague threats featuring the words shotgun and shovel to feature on the menu.

Oh, and spaghetti, one of the few foods The Teenager has deemed non-embarrassing to eat in front of company.

So, yes, I’m hosting winter and The Crush this evening; fingers crossed that the dog doesn’t feel the need to do a repeat performance of the exorcist on my carpets because; a girl can only take so much and, The Teenager would be mortified.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Well, It Was Nice While It Lasted

Last night The Teenager and I attended an informational meeting for an elite traveling volleyball club that she is interested in trying out for; I have no reason to believe that she won’t make the team.

Today, I registered the Man-Cub for basketball, a sport that he has never played competitively but that he has decided to try his hand at; I have no reason to believe that he won’t be great at it.

I'm grateful for my kids' athletic ability and for having the means to support them as they strive to reach their goals.

Both kids will start practicing in December with weekly tournaments to follow right up until The Teenager starts spring track and the Cub starts wrestling so; I’m also really grateful that Hugh and I invested in the good stadium seats from the Booster Club as bleacher butt is sooo unattractive.

So, we are going to be getting really busy, again. That's ok, I didn’t need all this free time, anyway. Really, relaxation is so overrated.

Le sigh.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Earlier and Earlier and Earlier

Remember when you were a kid and it seemed like the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving lasted forever? And, then, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to just drag on and on and on? Yeah. I miss those days.

As it stands, now, there is no downtime between Halloween and Christmas, we simply blow the candle out in the last jack-o-lantern and start hanging the holly and the ivy. This is especially true when one is involved in the retail trade as I have learned since joining Hugh at the hardware store.

For example, I put the finishing touches on our holiday window display today and, while I’m quite proud of the work I did and I really love the finished product, I am concerned about running into Holiday Burn-Out. My parents are joining us for Christmas this year and I really don’t want to be completely jaded and Scrooge-like by the time they arrive, rather; I want to be jolly and relaxed and to provide everyone with a picture-perfect holiday.

To that end, I have informed my store manager that we will, no matter what it takes; finish decking the store halls by the beginning of next week. That way, I can take a break from decorating until Thanksgiving when I will start on my home decorations. This seems like a reasonable plan and the best possible way to avoid having my head spin right off my body.

In theory.

In actuality, my head will spin off right around this time next week, anyway.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

There’s No Going Back Now


I just reserved my fresh Thanksgiving turkey from a local turkey farmer, an actual turkey farmer! Rancher? Grower? I have no idea. I also have no idea what form a fresh turkey arrives in from the turkey farmer/rancher/grower but, am really hoping it doesn’t involve the need for me to chop off any vital body parts, such as a head. I never would have imagined such a possibility had it not been suggested by the Man-Cub who, on a totally unrelated topic, has his very first pimple.

This latest development seems to have left him, in equal parts, proud and embarrassed and is obviously quite a big deal to the Cub. In fact, he seemed genuinely nonplussed when he asked me when I had gotten my first pimple and I could not recall; the offhand comment I made about my mother neglecting to note the date in my baby book being far less well-received than one might hope. Pre-teens, so prickly.

Also prickly? Turkey feathers. Which I just pictured arriving, intact, on my Thanksgiving bird. That doesn’t happen, right? Farm-fresh turkeys still arrive at your home naked, headless and with their innards in a nice little baggie, right?

Please, someone, tell me I’m right. All this stressing is likely to cause me to break out in pimples of my own and, should that happen, I would be decidedly less proud than the Cub, I assure you.

Friday, November 05, 2010

TGIF

If there was ever a thing to be grateful for, it is the fact that today is Friday. I have had an exhausting week which makes no sense to me whatsoever considering the fact that my children no longer require my presence at sporting events; where does my time go?

Speaking of my children, I am proud to report that they both made the school honor roll. Bumper stickers are on order although, The Teenager has threatened to disavow any knowledge of a relationship between us should I actually display said bumper sticker on my car.

She may change her mind as I have assured her that the alternative involves me displaying said bumper sticker on poster board while walking a circuit in front of her school, picket-line fashion, while wearing a t-shirt bearing her photo and the words PROUD MAMA OF THE TEENAGER!

On a totally unrelated topic, I think I heard her weeping in her sleep last night; can’t imagine what could have given her nightmares. Huh.

Anyway, it’s Friday. Tomorrow I get to sleep in and, while getting a mere additional hour of sleep constitutes sleeping in for me; I am really looking forward to it.

Then, I am attending a brunch hosted by one of the women in my woman’s club; we will be working on holiday decorations for our upcoming fundraiser and, experience has taught us that it is always more productive to work on these things in a group as we seem to be more creative, the work gets done faster and, we brainstorm ideas for the next event.

Bloody Marys and Mimosas may be to blame. Or, to credit, either way.

Sunday, I am planning to clean the house from top to bottom. It is my month to host Book Club and I don’t really want my guests to leave my home wearing cat and dog hair on their asses which, is bound to happen if I don’t vacuum my couches. Thank goodness for my new vacuum cleaner; it sucks like a two dollar whore.

As an aside, how well does a two dollar whore really suck? Would a four dollar whore suck twice as hard? I really don’t understand that analogy at all.

Oh well! TGIF!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Gratitude


November is the month in which we express our gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us and I have decided to spend the month naming at least one thing for which I am grateful each day. Today, I am grateful for the gorgeous weather we are having. I cannot remember another autumn this warm or colorful and I am especially grateful for it given the crappy spring weather we had earlier in the year and the windy summer to which we were subjected.

Granted, the nice weather can’t last and winter is bound to rear its’ frigid head sooner rather than later but, for now; I shall enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face as I stroll amongst the brittle leaves as they fall gently from the trees, grateful for each step.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

How to Put a Major Cramp in Your Daughter’s Lovelife

So, The Teenager has a new crush. I say crush because, while the object of her affection appears to return her feelings of adoration , I am loathe to call him her boyfriend considering the fact that he is sixteen and a junior in High School.

What's that you say? She’s almost fifteen and she’s a freshman in High School, so what’s the big deal? Well, I’ll tell you what the big deal is; two years age difference, a driver’s license, and he’s a boy, that’s what.

Excuse me while I breath into a paper bag for just a minute....

So, yeah; The Teenager is crushing on a junior whom we will not allow her to date until such time as: she, herself, is sixteen, also has a driver’s license (although, no car), has successfully completed her father’s course on self defense and has been fitted for a regulation chastity belt.

That’s really not asking so much, now, is it?

In the meantime, because we recognize her need for some semblance of a social life, The Teenager will be allowed to spend time in the company of The Crush under very controlled circumstances. Namely, her brother will accompany her.


This worked out really well for us on Halloween; The Teenager was allowed to wander about town with The Crush and a group of their mutual friends as long as the Man-Cub was with her. This was win-win for all of us; The Teenager got to spend time with The Crush, the Cub got to trick-or-treat, I got to stay home to hand out candy to the various ghosts, ghouls and goblins who visited our front porch and Hugh got to cruise around in the squad car, shining the spotlight on The Teenager’s group at random intervals throughout the evening.

Who could ask for a better compromise?

If you just said The Teenager, you win a cookie.

Apparently, having one’s younger brother along on a faux-date constitutes a major buzz-kill; probably because said younger brother spent a large portion of the evening walking between the teenagers, reminding the teenagers of his parent’s strict hands-off policy and saying snip, snip to The Crush while making scissor motions with his fingers all of which killed whatever mood The Teenager was hoping for.

Who would have guessed that would happen?

Oh, that’s right, we did, see above: title of this post.

But, seriously, can you blame us?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Holy Halloween, Batman!


Last night, the kids and I volunteered at the elementary school’s annual Halloween Carnival. The Teenager and several other members of our newly formed ASTRA service club had dipped caramel apples on Thursday night and we set out to sell them at the carnival as well as assisting in a number of other booths. The hours spent at the carnival will count toward the number of community service hours the Seniors in our club need to graduate and the experience will aid in getting the younger teenagers used to volunteering on a regular basis. Or, so we hope.


In addition, the kids had fun and, because it was a Halloween carnival, many of the kids went in costume, including The Teenager, who went as Batgirl, accompanied by Kaz as Supergirl. And, since every super hero needs his (her) arch nemesis, the Man-Cub went as a Mobster, complete with Tommy gun and ginormous cigar, a costume that won him second place in the costume contest held for his age group.


We sold out of apples within the first hour and half of the carnival and the girls were free to help in whichever booths they found most entertaining. The Man-Cub was free to spend his entire report card earnings on chances at the cakewalk and I was free to circulate amongst the crowd, delighting over costumes and visiting with the other parents who were volunteering their time. It was a nice way to spend the evening.


Later, I supervised Hugh in the carving of his most recent addition to our permanent jack-o-lantern collection. Hugh has carved an artificial pumpkin for the kids every year since 2005; we take turns choosing the design and this was my year so, I picked the Bride of Frankenstein to go along with the Frankenstein’s monster that the Cub picked out a couple of years ago. I love this collection and especially enjoy the fact that Hugh carves a message to the family into the bottom of each pumpkin; they are a nice legacy to leave for future generations of Halloween lovers.


And, speaking of Halloween lovers; we will be disappointing a few this year since Hugh is too busy to decorate the front yard and porch or to throw a mini-haunted house as he has in years past. Hopefully, the fact that I purchased the premium candy for the trick-or-treaters will take the edge off their disappointment and we won’t wake up to a tree flowing with toilet paper or a trail of egg yolk down the front of the house.

On the bright side, if that happens, we can always call upon the Superfriends to avenge us. Or, we could take out a contract with the mob and the Cub could whack them about the head with his giant cigar, making it well worth the $1.99 I paid for it.