Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Opting Out

December starts tomorrow.


How did that happen so fast? That means Christmas is twenty-six days away. Twenty-six days in which to bake, shop, wrap, package and mail stuff you shopped for and wrapped, write cards, and, if you are really lucky, rest, relax, enjoy, and revel in the Christmas Spirit.

I don't know about you, but, I tend to miss out on the rest, relaxation, enjoyment, and revelry more often than not. Not this year, though; this year, I am opting out of events or activities that I feel will push me out of the Enjoyment Zone and straight into Holiday Overload and Frustrationville.

Item number one that I will be skipping: Decorating my door for the annual office decorating contest. I share the office with two people, let them figure it out if they so desire.

Item number two: The naughty Christmas sweater party that Hugh and I have been invited to. Hugh will actually be out of town the day of the party and, just the thought of trying to come up with a clever sweater makes me itch, never mind gathering the supplies necessary to pull one off. I can drink wine at home alone and scratch less.

Item number three: My women's club's annual holiday party. It stopped being a Christmas party several years ago, and, frankly, I'm not in the mood to play the politically correct game this year. I'll stay in and watch The Little Drummer Boy on DVD instead.

Item number four: Present overload. I am scaling back on my shopping this year, mainly because we are trying to save money for a trip to Hawaii, but also because my loved ones have been pretty clear about not needing a lot more crap in their lives.

Item number five: Anything I am asked to do/invited to attend/encouraged to participate in, etc. that I don't feel the need to do/attend/be a part of.

I'm really feeling good about this. I wonder why I didn't think of it earlier?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Fifty's Door

Today is my 48th birthday, which is just crazy; I don't feel 48. On a good day, I barely feel 28. Ok, maybe not quite 28, but 38 at the oldest. You know, except for those days when my body is achy and my finger joints are swollen and I can't read the label on a soup can; maybe on those days I feel closer to 48. Or, 108, either way.

Today, though, I feel pretty good. It doesn't hurt that I was thoroughly and completely spoiled by my friends and family, including gifts of wine, chocolate, coffee, an antique camera, a set of lighting reflectors for Serendipity Designs, and a second Roomba, whom I have already named Alice and assigned to life on the second floor where she will henceforth be known as Alice, the Upstairs Maid.

It's been a very good day.

Tomorrow, I am going to dedicate myself to improving my physical health so that I may continue to feel slightly younger than my chronological age, but, for tonight, I am going to indulge in that chocolate and wine. Age has its' privileges, after all.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Queen B made it down this evening to help us decorate the Christmas tree, officially ending my holiday decorating preparations for the Christmas season, can I get a hallelujah!

I have to admit that, despite the exhaustion, two broken fingernails, a seriously pulled muscle in my neck, and general soreness in every muscle of my body, the house looks great and I am thatmuch closer to feeling the Christmas spirit.

Seeing the Man-Cub's delight in every musical and/or animated ornament that he placed on the tree didn't hurt, either, nor did his discovery of an ornament that he made when his hand was quite a bit smaller...

...believe it or not, that's his tiny little palm print disguised as snowmen. I...give me a second... I've got something in my eye.

And, I'm back.

This year, it was Queen B's turn to place the star on the tree, and, Hugh was determined to assist her in pretty much the way that he has since she was small; while he managed the feat without breaking his back, it's probably a good thing that our Aflac policy is up to date.

Anyway, the tree is up, the cocoa bar is open for business, and actual presents have been purchased (not nearly as many as should have been by now, but, I'm working on it).

Bring on the holiday.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, Goofballs Ringing Bells

Tis the season! Hugh and the Man-Cub raced back to Petticoat Junction yesterday so that the Cub wouldn't miss practice last night. Today, I raced back so that I wouldn't miss a chance to see the Cub and his teammates ringing bells for the Salvation Army.

Coach volunteered the team for the duty all day today and the Cub's assigned time of 3:00-4:00 made it just late enough in the day to be chilly, so, I made sure to arrive with hot cocoa.

I'm so proud of the boys for jumping in to help without complaint and I'm impressed with our new coach who, understands both the fine art of team building and the importance of community spirit. This is yet another reason that I know the boys are going to have a winning season, even if they lose.

Friday, November 25, 2016

As We Emerge From the Turkey Coma...

I ate my weight in stuffing yesterday and I have the bloat to show for it. I would feel bad about that, but, it only happens once a year, so, not so much.

Besides, I spent the day running off the calories with my sisters; we did some Christmas shopping, grabbed some coffees, and, scouted locations for a photo shoot that my younger sister and her son sat for later in the day. In reality, I probably burned far more calories than I ingested, which is why I feel no guilt for diving into the leftovers again this evening.

Once a year, people! Once a year!

Anyhoodle, here are some pictures that I took of Barbie and my nephew; surely I burned a few calories pressing the shutter button, right?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

And This is Why I'm Thankful For That Guy Who Created Facetime

Thanksgiving without the Queen has been odd; several times today, I thought of something that she would get a kick out of so I would get up to go and tell her, just to remember that, oh yes, she's not actually here.

Thankfully (that is the theme of the day), she must have sensed my distress long-distance, and, during dinner, she conspired with the Cub to join us in whatever way possible.

And, while we did inadvertently sit her down on the kitchen table for a short period of time when the connection got a little wonky, it wasn't because we don't love her and weren't absolutely thrilled to have her join us at the Thanksgiving table, because, we certainly do and we totally were.

Modern technology really is a wonderful thing.

Counting My Blessings

Happy thanksgiving! I hope you have a blessed day, full of family, friends, cheer, and good food! I am enjoying time with family and counting the many ways in which we are fortunate, including:

- A home with a solid roof over our heads.

- Love of family and friends.

- Jobs that provide food for our table, cars to transport us, and items both essential and not.

- Love of family and friends (some blessings, you count twice).

- Fond memories of those who can no longer be with us.

- Excellent food.

- Healthy bodies, hearts, minds, and souls.

-  Pets, because life is happier with furry friends.

- Opportunities for education, and the ability to provide them to our children.

- Children with kind hearts and generous spirits and the absolute privilege of having been allowed to parent them.

- Modern technology, for allowing us to feel closer to those far away.

-  Good, strong cups of coffee.

- Chocolate.

- Freedom.

- A connection to God, without Whom, we would have no blessings to count.

Happy thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

They Call it Comfort Food For a Reason

Tomorrow morning, I leave for Mayberry, where my mad pumpkin pie baking and cranberry-cooking skillz are required in the Thanksgiving dinner preparation marathon to be held in my mom's kitchen; I take the responsibility quite seriously.

Hugh and the Man-Cub will join me later in the evening; the Cub has basketball practice at 3:45 and Hugh needs to close the hardware store. I don't mind driving down by myself, and, I'm glad that they will be able to come together since I'm not a huge fan of the Cub driving over wintry mountain passes in the dark.

I wish QB would be joining us in Mayberry as well, but, she will be working on Thanksgiving. Insert sad face, here. Thankfully, she has been invited to eat dinner with her manager's family, so, at least I know she will be fed and will have some company. Still, it's hard to picture a holiday without her, and, while both of my sisters will be joining us in Mayberry, as well as one of my nephews and my niece; I'll still have a QB-shaped hole in my heart to be sure.

I guess I'll have to comfort myself with food; exactly how much turkey and stuffing do you suppose it takes to fill a hole in one's heart?

I'll have to let you know.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Did Anyone Get the Number of That Truck?

You know, the one that ran over me, backed up, ran over me again, and then sideswiped me for good measure? No? Me neither, I was flat on my back with skid marks all over my psyche.

Seriously. The weekend kicked my ass. I don't know what is wrong with me, I used to be able to hang with the best of them and now, all it takes to send me scrambling for the ibuprofen is a couple of trips up and down the attic ladder; I may need a medical intervention.

On the bright side, my very busy weekend resulted in a fully decorated porch and a house that is 99% decked for the season (Christmas tree goes up tonight, finishing off the chore). I also had an enjoyable Girl's Night, complete with wine, cheese, and a good movie, I helped organize a photo shoot for the senior basketball boys, and I contributed a crockpot full of chili for the basketball team fundraiser at Saturday's scrimmages, which, I also attended while running back and forth to the hardware store to get my work done.

Huh. No wonder I feel like road kill.

Anyway, about those scrimmages; the boys did great! They played like, well, like a team! I honestly believe that this will be the boys' year to win, and, I don't mean just a few games (although, even one win would be a 100% improvement over the varsity record for the past three years). These boys could be contenders!

Today, I am using some of my PTO to relax and practice breathing out of my nose instead of through my mouth because, I somewhere along the line, I also caught a cold. Because, of course I did! Or, maybe this is just another consequence of getting hit by that truck.

I'm not ruling it out.

Friday, November 18, 2016

It All Comes Down Tomorrow

My Thanksgiving decorations go back into storage tomorrow, to make room for the Christmas decorations. Yes, I used the "C" word before a single bite of turkey and stuffing has been consumed; trust me, I am just as disappointed in me as you are.

In my defense, we are spending Thanksgiving in Mayberry and I neither wish to rush back on Friday to decorate, nor can I wait until the first weekend in December to do it because, that weekend, I will be back in Mayberry for the Man-Cub's first basketball tournament of the season, which, is taking place in a community about 30 minutes away from Mom's.

It's now or never, folks.

Ok, not never, but, like, not until really, really late, and, you know, if I'm going to go to all the trouble to pull that shit out of the attic and plaster it all over my house, I am going to enjoy it for as long as I can.

So, here are some pictures of the Thanksgiving decorations, which, we enjoyed for approximately two weeks. It's better than nothing, I guess.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Another Last

Tonight, we attended the Man-Cub's final football banquet. I would mention that I got teary eyed, but, at this point, I'm pretty sure that you already just assume that, if I mention that it is the last anything, I will be teary-eyed, so, I'll spare you.

On a happy note, the Cub received another Academic All StateTeam honorable mention, which makes him four-for-four, so far. We are very proud.

In fact, we are very proud of all of our boys; 8-out-of-10 of the seniors received All Conference Academic Team awards and the final two missed it by smidgens. They are athletic and smart.

The posters that BCPE and I worked on were a huge hit with both the boys and their parents. I think even the Cub was impressed, which, considering how many times he has been photographed over his lifetime, is saying something.

Tomorrow, the boys go in different directions, some to basketball, some to wrestling, others to part time jobs or more academic pursuits, but, they will always be a team, united by the memories they made this season, and, while it was bittersweet to acknowledge the ending tonight, it's also exciting to watch their new beginnings unfold.

As Coach said during his speech tonight, they are going to do great things.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

So, How's Business?

Thanks for asking! Since hanging my shingle, so to speak, I have had the privilege of photographing two families, three high school seniors (not including my own), a baby shower, and a wedding. The experience has been both nerve-wracking (wedding!) and hilariously fun (my boys, naturally) and I almost feel as though I should be paying these kind people for the chance, rather than the other way around.

I am, however, happy to take their money.

Here are just a few of my favorite shots from each of the last few sessions...

...are these some gorgeous people, or what? And, yes, I'm including my kid in that; I'm a mom, I'm allowed to brag. I just wish, when I am working with the boys, that they wouldn't take it all so seriously, I mean, loosen up a little, guys..., we'll keep working on it.