Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year’s Eve, and, It’s Time to Bust Out the Resolutions for 2014

Last year, I tried a new format when setting my goals; I used the letters in the word Resolutions to guide me. It was a great way to organize my thoughts and I’m doing it again for the New Year.

But, before we get to that, I want to check in with my 2013 resolutions to see how I did.... so:

Relax more…well, I had some relaxing moments. I think.

Eat better…nailed this one in the last three months of the year, following my thyroid diagnosis and the start of my meds. Managed to lose 27 pounds in three months. Not too shabby.

Sleep better…nailed this, once again, after the thyroid thing got figured out.

Organize the best damn Spring Luncheon in the history of my women’s’ club…oh, nailed that bastard, HARD. People are still talking about it.

Learn something new every day…thanks to Day Job, this was far easier to accomplish than one might think.

Use less profanity…yeah, no. I blame Day Job.

Try something new every day…mostly managed this. Not always something amazing or anything, but, I made an effort.

Increase my flexibility…managed this, thanks to the whole Piriformis Syndrome nonsense in my left leg. Stretching became a necessity if I wanted to walk without pain. I’m much more bendy in the hips, now.

Organize items in attic, have yard sale…done! And, our yard sale made the local news to boot.

Nest more…I accomplished more of this than I expected. Still have a lot I want to do in my home, but, baby steps.

Spend time doing things that make me happy…didn’t nail this quite as hard as I would have liked. I did make the trip to Arizona for the 3 Doors Down concert, and, I spent time with The Girls at Stampede, but, I think there is room for improvement in this area. For sure.

So, tomorrow, I will list my resolutions for 2014. I’m looking forward to setting some new goals and in seeing how well I do in reaching them. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take until the final months of the year for me to do so.

So Long, 2013. I Doubt I'll Miss You

I am very much looking forward to showing 2013 the door; it hasn't been my favorite year. While nothing majorly bad has happened to us (thank you, God), it has been an unsettling and frustrating year, nonetheless.

The economy is still bad enough that the hardware store can't get ahead and I am tired of fretting over how we will keep the lights on. And, while I doubt that there will be a major turn around in 2014, I am willing to give the year the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, The Teenager has no such reservations, and, is looking forward to the New Year since the change in one simple digit on the calendar makes the reality of her upcoming graduation that much more tangible. I am already feeling the reality of that particular situation, however, as I am the one who will be filling out financial aid forms and freaking out about the cost of college. I am also quietly freaking out about how I will manage in a household full of testosterone with no additional estrogen to balance things out, but, compared to the financial piece, that is only a small worry.

The Man-Cub hasn't indicated an opinion about the New Year in either direction; I wish I had his peace of mind.

Anyway, we plan to celebrate the holiday at home with friends, much like we always do. Then, tomorrow, we will hit the slopes for our annual (semi-annual, depending on the year?) sledding excursion, followed by dinner with Oscar and Emily.

At some point, we will also eat black eyed peas for luck and cross our fingers for a good year.

And, there will also be prayers, of course, because I like to cover all my bases.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Another Reason to Embrace Your Youth While You Can

Tomorrow morning, for the first time in nine days, I am going to have to wake up to an alarm. The kids still have a week of vacation before school resumes and they have to get up early.

That...doesn't seem fair.

Not fair at all.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


This past week marked the longest period of time that I have spent in Mayberry since moving away from there fifteen years ago. So, it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise when I had a hard time leaving. But, leave we did.

Since I had work to do at the store this afternoon, we left fairly early, allowing us the opportunity to view the landscape before the sun had a chance to burn off the previous night's frost, and, to say the view was stunning would be a vast understatement. Every tree, bush, power line, fence rail, and tumbleweed glittered as though made of diamonds, and, the air itself shimmered with crystalline beauty.

I  wish I had though to stop to take pictures, but, I doubt that my photographic skill could have done justice to the scene, anyway.

As it was, I have the memory of the morning to look back on, and, I shall consider it a farewell gift from my hometown; something to tide me over until next time.

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Friday, December 27, 2013

All Good Things Must Come to an End

This morning I woke up and realized that I have to go home tomorrow. And, while I miss my kitty* something awful, and, while I love my home and my job and everything that goes along with my life; I am sad at the prospect of leaving the comfort and relative ease of my childhood home.

I'll get over it right around the time we pull out of the driveway, of course, but, yeah. Feeling a little bit blue.

On the bright side, I have one last day with my parents and, my mother and I are going to spend it exploring a new gift shop that has opened in Mayberry. The Teenager is going to treat a friend from Mount Pilot to an early birthday goody from the local Dairy Queen. The Man-Cub is going to continue his quest to spend absolutely every waking moment in possession of the remote control for the movie-sized television in my parents' media room, and, Hugh is going to replace the outlets in two of my parent's rooms so that they will be able to better accommodate computers and other modern electronics.

Our last day will be a busy one, is what I'm saying.

* Both cats are on Hugh's shit list for having set off the burglar alarm at the house on Christmas Day. Apparently, they activated the motion sensor on the wall in the front hallway and we received a call from the security company to inform us of the breach. Hugh's fellow officer was quick to respond to the alarm and he checked out the house to ensure that there was no intruder, which we appreciated, greatly. But, the cats are in big trouble when we get home. There may be harsh words. And then lots of snuggles. We're consistent in our discipline like that.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twas the Day After Christmas...

...Hugh and the children went snowboarding at the nearby ski area, making use of the Man-Cub's Christmas present...

The Teenager didn't take her Christmas present with her, she was too afraid to lose it.

Her present was an amethyst ring that replaced the amethyst ring that she lost earlier this fall. The original ring had been a gift from her father on Christmas day 2010 and she loved that ring, needless to say, losing it was traumatic for her, so; when Hugh found the replica of it, he was quick to snap it up. The look on her face when she opened it was worth every penny he spent.

Which is why it is safely tucked away, leaving The Teenager free to hit the slopes without fear. As one does the day after Christmas, apparently.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Traditions Continue

Every year, when we are fortunate enough to be with my side of the family for Christmas, we engage in a decades-old tradition of making Christmas Eve popcorn balls, using my mother's old recipe. At some point during the day, we will have also decorated a gingerbread house, and, most years; we will have run to the store for some last-minute-can't-do-without present. Then, before the kids are tucked into bed to await the arrival of Santa (the believers among us, that is), they each open a present containing a pair of new pajamas after which they select a number of cookies to leave with milk by the fireplace so the Big Guy won't go hungry.

This year, there were no exceptions to the traditions.

So, without further adieu, I give you, the Griswold family Christmas Eve....well, not really, but, close.

The traditions don't end with Christmas Eve, of course. This morning, we awoke early, to see what goodies Santa had left for the children. Granted, it wasn't as early as we have awoken in years past, but, it was early enough.

After oohing and awing over the kid's presents, we opened stockings, followed by unwrapping the large pile of presents under the tree.

Once we were done with the unwrapping, we relaxed amongst the wrappings, ribbons and boxes for a bit before tackling the chores related to serving a huge dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, which, is where we are at right now.

Needless to say, the tradition of lying down for a long afternoon nap is scheduled in shifts-some one's got to stir the gravy, after all.

Later, once the dishes are done and the wrapping paper has made it's way to the trashcan in the alley, we will relax with spiked eggnog and hot cocoa liberally laced with peppermint schnapps or Kahlua.

And we will reminisce about past Christmases, make jokes at the expense of those who weren't able to join us this year, and remark on the tremendous blessings bestowed upon us by the Lord.

Because, thanking God for the birth of his only son is the most important tradition of all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Family Time

The holidays are the time for family, and, we have wasted no time in taking advantage of our time together here in Mayberry.

Yesterday, my mother, Barbie, The Teenager and I enjoyed a leisurely day of antiquing and browsing the various gift shops located in the town west of Mayberry. One of the shops was an old pharmacy where my mother had a chance to reminisce about her days as a soda jerk at the fountain in Mayberry.

After the pharmacy, we took a lunch break at an historic hotel, where I ate an interesting Cobb salad that featured avocado and green chilies; it was quite tasty. The hotel itself is lovely and accurately restored to it's previous grandeur, following several decades of vacancy and neglect.

The hotel was decorated for the holidays, with an enormous tree and various other items, but, the showcase of the hotel lobby was a display of gingerbread houses that had been decorated by the owners of the local businesses and their families, it was impressive and lovely, and; we gathered a number of ideas for our own gingerbread house, which we will be decorating later this evening.

The waiter told us a story of a ghost who supposedly haunts the hotel, which we found quite interesting, and; we spent the rest of the meal enjoying the conversations that only happen between people who have known each other for their entire lives.

When we returned to my childhood home we were greeted by my nephew and his girlfriend and we spent the remainder of the day visiting, eating the fabulous green chili burritos my mother had prepared, and, shooing the boys away from the tree, where they have made a game of shaking packages in order to guess the contents.

Boys are silly. Even old boys.

Speaking of presents, we are off to the stores to brave our fellow last-minute shoppers for some final gifts. I would sooner choke on a razor blade than fight the crowds, but, there are things to be done, and, I draw strength from the women with whom I will join the fray.

Although, if you don't hear from me again, soon; you might want to send out a search party.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Loading up the Sleigh and Heading Out

We made it to Mayberry in good time on Saturday, despite a stop at Oscar and Emily's to drop off packages, a stop at the sporting goods store to pick up a birthday present for Hugh (who celebrated his birthday on Sunday while in Las Vegas officiating at a college wrestling tournament), a trip though the Sonic drive-thru for a chicken sandwich for me (hold the mayo!), and, a trip through the KFC drive-thru for a mashed potato bowl for The Teenager and a large macaroni and cheese for the Man-Cub (road trip food at its finest).

The car was packed to the brim, leaving no additional room for the larger presents that Santa is scheduled to deliver (Santa being Hugh, who will arrive in Mayberry on Monday), which, gave the Man-Cub a slight amount of anxiety because he is his mother's son.

Once we got to the Pod People's house, we settled in like we had lived here all our lives, and, when my younger sister, Barbie, arrived on Sunday, we had managed to take possession of ninety-nine percent of the available guest space. We're considerate like that. I did give up a portion of that space when Barbie produced a bottle of wine for my gastric pleasure, however. Because I am also easily bribed.

Last night, Barbie, The Teenager and I went to the cinema to watch American Hustle, and, I can see how it is generating Oscar buzz, because, like most other Oscar contenders; I didn't totally dig it. I did thoroughly enjoy Jennifer Lawrence's performance, however, as is right and normal.

Today, my mom, Barbie, The Teenager and I are headed to a nearby town to peruse the antique stores. The males in the family will be glued to their video games and large screen televisions, and, Hugh will arrive at some point in the afternoon so the official Christmas festivities can begin in earnest.

Updates to follow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Crunch Time

The Teenager and I spent a couple of hours wrapping presents last night. The Man-Cub piled the presents next to the door, in anticipation of loading them into the car today.

I am ten minutes away from packing my suitcase and both kids already have their suitcases packed and piled in the mudroom, ready to go.

Hugh is in Las Vegas, officiating at a college wrestling tournament and won't meet us in Mayberry until Monday, which, is when my sister and my nephew are also scheduled to arrive.

Old Man Winter and Mother Nature conspired against us with a snowstorm that rolled into the area yesterday, coating the roads in a nice thick layer of ice, but, I am determined to make the drive, whether that means going more slowly than usual, or, not (I'm actually hoping for not, given that my mother has been baking and cooking for the past month and, nothing beats Mom's goodies).

 The cats have been eyeing my open suitcase since I pulled it out of the closet earlier this morning; they know something is up. I have my fingers crossed that our extended absence won't translate into an opportunity for them to trash the Christmas tree or damage the property in some other fashion.

 Who, me?

Anyhoodle, I suppose my ten minutes are up and I should get that suitcase filled. The next time I write, it will be from the warmth and comfort of my childhood home, tucked into the loving bosom of my family.

I don't suppose I have to tell you how much I am looking forward to that.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Fearsome Foursome Get An Early Christmas Present

The Man-Cub's team met their biggest rival on the basketball court last night. The rival team, hailing from Pixler, has a reputation for playing dirty. Their fans are well known for acting like unsportsmanlike assholes, and, the school administration tends to look the other way rather than addressing the issue. They are a clusterfuck of crappiness, is what I'm saying.

So, last night's win was extra-sweet for our boys.

The game was close, we traded the lead back and forth through much of the first three quarters, but, in the final quarter, we pulled ahead by eight points and we stayed there.

the Man-Cub had a particularly good game. At one point, he took a charge, landing him on his butt and earning him two free throws, which, he made with ease. The best part of that situation, however, was the hearty "thank you!" he gave his opponent for offering him the opportunity to shoot. The parents in the stands around me got a huge kick out of it, as did I.

The win was an excellent way for the boys to go into the holiday break- games won't resume until after the New Year, although, "unofficial" practices will pick up again the week after Christmas.

The boys will miss each other next week, I'm sure, but; we all need a break, and now, we will begin that break with even lighter hearts.

Those boys seem to have that affect on us.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Is There No Gift Wrapping Elf?

As indicated by the title of this post; I am woefully behind on my wrapping. Each day, I awake with the best of intentions for completing the chore, and, each day I fail, miserably.

And, as also indicated by the title of this post; I have to believe that, were there really a Santa, he would command that creepy elf on a shelf to wrap my packages in festive papers while I slept.

Instead, my elf just swings lazily in the hammock-like embrace of the Man-Cub's stocking, which, is hung by the chimney with care.

Unfair, says I.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oops, I Did It, Again

At the Man-Cub's basketball game last night, I accidentally fell while attempting to climb three steps to my seat in the bleachers. In my defense, the fall was caused less by my lack of grace and more by the fact that I was wearing heeled boots with very little traction, so; I slipped more than I tripped, which, is usually the cause of me going ass over tea kettle.

On the bright side (I'm starting to think that phrase should be the unofficial title of this blog), when I slipped, I didn't really fall; I just, kind of gracelessly sunk into the splits, which, according to the father of one of The Fearsome Foursome, whom I happened to go to high school with; was reminiscent of my cheerleading days.

And, while I don't remember the searing sensation in my inner thighs from doing that particular stunt in my high school days; I appreciated the sentiment, nonetheless.

Also, the Man-Cub was totally preoccupied with warm-ups, so, he didn't have to see the incident, sparing him any embarrassment from having his old lady a) take a graceless fall, or, b) attempt a stunt from her Glory Days.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Now That I Have a Chance To Sit Down...

The weekend passed in a blur of last-minute Christmas chores. And, while you might be thinking to yourself, "But, Christmas is still a week and a half away, what's the emergency?", let me explain: the kids and I are leaving for Mayberry on the 21st. If I hadn't accomplished the last of my shopping, baking, crafting, etc., I wouldn't have gotten it done prior to our departure, because, this week is going to be filled with work, basketball games, Christmas parties, and packing; there will be no time for much else.

On the bright side, I did manage to finish almost everything that I needed to do: I shopped (only a handful of presents left to purchase, yes, still), I made DIY gifts for my coworkers, I wrapped more presents than a department store elf, I baked banana bread and gingerbread, I dipped pretzels in chocolate and I frosted enough sugar cookies to force a small child into a sugar coma.

I feel almost prepared.

As an aside, while we were frosting those cookies, The Teenager was doing her level best to entertain us. At one point, she expressed her intention to pay her way through college by working at a strip club. When her father pointed out that there are no strip clubs in the town where her college of choice is located, she countered back with the fact that the college is open to students starting new clubs. Yeah, I don't think that means what she thinks it means, either.

We got a good laugh out of it, though.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dear Santa...

I got our Christmas cards out earlier this week, and, with any luck, they have made their way into the hands of our friends and family (USPS, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, here).

The idea for this year's card came to me sometime around Halloween, when I was searching the stores for an appropriate costume for my office party.

The kids were totally on board with the idea because they didn't have to:
 a.)  Dress up
 b.)  Go outside
 c.)  Witness any sort of affectionate nuzzling between their parents, or,
 d.)  Apply any part of their bodies to an ice-cold flagpole.

I was being extra-generous with them this year, clearly.

Anyway, I give you the theme of the 2013 Casa de Chelle Christmas card....

Dear Santa, We Can Explain....


....Really, we can.

I would post an actual image of the card here, but, Shutterfly won't let me steal my own material, so; this jury-rigged posting will have to suffice. Believe me when I say, the card was put together a lot better, but, you get the basic idea.

I enjoyed the process of creating the props for the pictures and I got a kick out of the theme, given Hugh's profession and all. Hugh did say that this had better be the only time he sees his offspring in prison stripes, and, I must concur. The dog, on the other hand, should wear stripes more often; they really flatter his figure.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Is It Christmas Yet?

Work is kicking my ass and I'm really ready for a break. Luckily, Christmas is just around the corner, and, with it, a trip to Mayberry for an extended visit with the Pod People. The kids are already planning the best ways to exploit the kindness of their grandparents and I am looking forward to a week without taking a crisis call from a client, without having my fingers turn black from counting dirty money, and, without the thought of juggling a multitude of household chores.

And, it goes without saying that I am anticipating the good food, fun times, and slew of new holiday memories that we will, no doubt, be making.

I'm not entirely looking forward to the sub-zero temperatures that naturally occur in Mayberry this time of year, but, a girl can't have everything.

So, ten days and counting.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Good Deeds

Saturday morning, I set out to tackle some more of my Christmas shopping. My first stop was Target, where I was pleasantly surprised to find a relatively small crowd of fellow shoppers, allowing me to relax and enjoy the experience.

As I was perusing the Christmas aisle, I ran into a young mother who was shepherding two small boys, each under the age of five. The woman was hugely pregnant and I immediately felt sorry for the challenge that she must be facing with those two active boys. I quickly learned that I needn't worry; that young mom guided those two boys like a very quiet, very kind, drill sergeant. The boys were given choices in a firm, sweet voice, and, the mother treated them like small humans, capable of making good choices when given the proper encouragement and opportunity; the boys responded by behaving like angels.

It was such a nice thing to witness.

Of course, I was mentally comparing her parenting skills to those of most of my clients and I couldn't help but think that she would make an awesome parent coach.

After two similar experiences with parents who are Doing it Right, one in the electronics department, and one in the checkout line (I officially love Target); I ventured to my next stop on my agenda: The Hellmouth.

Let me just say right now: there is a reason I call it The Hellmouth, and; Saturday's shopping trip did nothing to change my mind about the honorary title.

Before I even made the turn from the main road into the parking lot, I witnesses a pair of panhandlers surreptitiously sipping from a flask while taking turns hiding one another from the view of the people leaving the parking lot. This couple has been working that particular corner since early this summer; they hold a sign that declares their need to for money...to repair their spaceship (not kidding), and, prior to this weekend, I had never seen them getting their drink on while "on the job". It was disheartening. It was also quite humorous, given the whole "creating a human shield from the prying eyes of the public" thing.

Once I was in The Hellmouth, things didn't get much better. I was still feeling the glow of quality parenting from Target when I hit the grocery section and got to watch unattended children running amok in the produce, a random toddler licking an apple before returning it to its place on the shelf, and a father mildly instructing his child not to kick a small container that had fallen to the floor, and, then watching him ignore the child as he continued to kick the item across the floor.

My glow faded, quickly.

I salvaged it, however. I decided to throw some good out into the world, and, as such I moved shopping carts away from a car that had been blocked in by rude cart-abandoners, I purchased hot chocolate for the Salvation Army bell ringers and I dropped a twenty in the kettle.

I felt better when I was done.

And, I've decided that shopping at The Hellmouth will always be a chore that I attack with the lowest possible expectations. Maybe someday I will be pleasantly surprised.

Not holding my breath.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Dear Teenager,

Yesterday, you and I got into a spirited debate over my reluctance to allow you to drive to a wrestling tournament in a town an hour away. My reluctance centered around the road conditions following the first real snowstorm of the season; I was, understandably, worried about the possibility of an accident given your relative inexperience with winter driving.

Your position centered around your imminent relocation to a college which is located in a city many hours, and, an entire mountain range, away, and; in needing to gain experience with winter driving before you are required to make that particular drive with any sort of regularity.

It was a valid argument, I must admit.

Your secondary argument, however? Not so valid.

The point, according to you, was that you are practically grown up now, and, hence, I should no longer worry about you.

Which? Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha!! Have you met me?

You do realize that I am your mother, right?

Then you must realize that, as your mother, I will worry about you for the rest of your life. Indeed, when you are seventy-five years old and are driving to my nursing home to celebrate my hundred and second birthday; I will be anxiously wringing my hands and pacing the halls with my walker, worrying about you driving through a late autumn snowstorm.

That's my job.

So, no, dear child; your secondary argument will not stand.

I will, however, acquiesce to your first argument and I will allow you to test the roads, in order to gain experience for your future driving needs.

And, I will increase my conversations with God, accordingly. He's a parent, too; He gets it.

Love, your momma.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Snow Day

Wednesday's blizzard dumped so much snow on our area, the kids actually got a snow day, yesterday. Granted, by yesterday, the snow had stopped falling and the sun was out, but, having opted not to cancel school during the actual dangerous part of the storm; the school district apparently decided to throw the kids a bone.

I don't understand it, either.

Anyway, The Teenager and her friends took full advantage of the unexpected free time by going sledding while the Man-Cub and his friends spent their time at basketball practice, because; school might be cancelled but practice must go on.

Yeah...I don't understand that, either.

Anyway, the school closure was accompanied by closures of the County government, including the probation department, so; my day at work was decidedly more quiet than a typical Thursday generally is.

I took advantage of the unexpected free time by getting a facial. Then, I joined Jana at the community theater to watch Kaley perform in her choir's Christmas musical. Which, despite school being cancelled, was still held, because, as you know; the show must go on.

That part, I understand.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Father Winter is Having His Way With My Porch and I'm Totally Ok With It

The snow started falling around midnight last night. We didn't start to see accumulation until around six a.m., and, that accumulation is rapidly coating my porch decorations in a fluffy layer of winter frosting.

It looks quite pretty, and, will look even prettier tonight when the lights are on.

As an aside, the fact that this weather isn't bothering me, that the snow accumulating on my precious decorations isn't making me insane, and that I am feeling a general calmness at the thought of driving to work in a blizzard are all signs that my thyroid medication is working to keep me sane.

Also, I feel really sorry for the person I was this time last year, 'cause this shit would have sent her straight into a downward spiral of desperation and despair.

It's a holiday miracle!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Another Pinterest Victory

When I decorated the house for the holidays this past weekend, I used a mix of old and new decorations. The newest were things that I crafted with my own two hands, inspired by pins on Pinterest, and created after viewing instructions on You Tube; I have become cyber-crafty. It's a gift, really. Or, you know, not.

My point is: I have had more than my share of Pinterest Fails, but, my Christmas decorations were a victory.

The materials I used included Deco Mesh (I am having a temporary love affair with Deco Mesh. I'm certain it will pass), a Deco Mesh Work Garland and Deco Mesh Work Wreath form (I got mine on Amazon, but saw them later at Hobby Lobby), shatter-proof ornaments, sheer wide ribbon, various holiday picks, and a glue gun.

The finished products included a wreath and two large garlands. In all, the project cost less than forty dollars and took about two hours of my time, and that includes shopping for the materials.

See why I am enamored of the Deco Mesh?

Monday, December 02, 2013

Deck the Halls With the Entire Contents of the attic, Fa,la,la,la,la,la,la,la,la!

My house looks like Christmas threw up all over it. This makes me surprisingly happy. Mostly, I am happy that I am done with the decorating; that shit takes it out of me, like, for real. I would like to believe that, now that the decorating is complete, I will be able to catch up on my rest, but; there are cookies to be baked and candy to be made and presents to be purchased and wrapped, so, not so much with the resting, I'm thinking.

That's ok; Christmas comes but once a year, and, I'm reveling in it this year. Besides, I can always rest next year.

Plus, I'm glad that I got the outside decorating out of the way, considering that a snowstorm is in the forecast for this week. I seriously doubt that I would have felt nearly so festive if I was setting up the porch tree in a blizzard.