Friday, December 30, 2005

The House of Heroes

Photo: Superfamily from l to r: Violet, Dash, Mr. Death and me, Invisible Woman. (I think that is my best side.)
My place has been turned into a home for Superheros.

Here, they (my kids - Dash and Violet) are fighting the forces of evil (Mr. Right). It is a powerful war for both sides, for it is two against one and the one has a much longer reach.

It is a hide, chase and catch world here. There is much sneaking, creeping and snickering involved in this world. Not to mention screaming, laughing and all out fun.

I love that Mr. Right plays with the kids. They get to see that just because you grow up, you don't have to be a dud.

And who am I?

I am the Invisible Woman who helps to find really good hiding spots. I am good at that.

Gotta go... the Hero cry is calling me to action. It's nice to be able to save the day, even if it is for a only a few minutes.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

I am in Mourning... (sigh)

I am in mourning.

My parents left today.

I now have to figure out how to cook again, how to clean again, where my washer and dryer are located and how to use them. My favorite meals left with them because no one can make comfort food like Mom.

Instant babysitter - gone.

Game buddies - gone.

Mr. Fix-it - gone.

Children's playmates - gone.

Other people to talk to when I wake up stinking early - gone.

I guess I'll have to rely on the old proverb:

"If you love something, give it away. If it comes back, it's yours. If not, keep begging them to return and lure them in with a hot fudge sundae."

Hey Mom... I've a turtle sundae here and it got your name on it. One for Dad too. And I'm buying!

I'm sure it won't be the last we see of them...

Now where is the fridge? I'm sure there are some good leftovers there...


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Momentary Lapse of Reasoning...

There has been entirely too much merriment around here. I blame it on the sugar.

Here is an example of what I mean.

On Christmas Eve, my mom said that we needed a hot fudge sundae from Baskin & Robbins. It was already close to noon, and I didn’t know when we could work that treat into the eating schedule.

Something had to go.

So we had them for lunch.

My son wouldn’t believe his sister when she said we were eating ice cream for lunch. He came running to me (in a tattle tale sort of way) saying that his sister said we were eating ice cream. To his surprise, I said “Yep. Get your coat on; we’re going.”

“Are we really?” he said with disbelief.

“Yeah. Merry Christmas. Let’s go. There’s a sundae out there with my name on it.”

You should have seen the look of love for me in his eyes at that moment. He was in heaven!

I may be on to something here. Trust me the kids will remember it next year and ask for it again.

It wasn’t fair using hot fudge to break down my defenses.

Yeah, like you would have resisted, too.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Birthday Jesus!!

It’s the biggest birthday party that is celebrated around the world.

And what a celebration it is turning out to be.

We are having a wonderful time. Family has gathered here around the tree. (Many pots of coffee are a part of our holiday spirit.) We’ve lit our candles and have opened way too many presents.

(I have decided that next year, I am going to do a couple of gifts for the kids and let the grandparents take over. They do anyway and the kids really appreciate the presents from them. Yea Grandparents!!!)

Church services were wonderful, as usual. We gathered together to sing praises and to be encouraged in our Christian walk and to remember why we have Christmas in the first place. Oh and we had a nice surprise. A family that we have been asking to come to church decided to attend today. Woo Hoo! Now that’s a Christmas present!

We are about to have our Christmas dinner. We will feast together in great merriment and enjoy all the blessings that God has given us. And I don’t mean the presents we opened today…

I hope you all are having as joyful of a day. May you and your family be full of love and appreciation for the things that God has given you, too.

Merry Christmas… (in my best Tiny Tim voice) and God bless us every one.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Santa… the Greatest Sleep Aid for Kids

The night before Christmas, my kids were begging to go to bed.

Both of them.

At 6 PM.

I asked if they would like to have dinner first.

It was a hard sell, but they eventually heard me say lasagna, Grandma’s lasagna at that. They said okay, but they were going to bed straight afterwards.

I love Christmas Eve…

Anyone have a deck of cards? It’s playing time for the adults.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

A Peaceful Christmas to All and to All a Good Night...

An ode to all of you who have visitors over this special holiday...

T’was the night before company and all through the house
Everyone was working or else being called a louse.

The dishes were hung on the drying rack with care.
The mop, pail and broom leaning on the stairs.

The children were straightening thee covers on their beds
While visions of playtime danced in their heads.

And I in my scrunge clothes and my mom in her cap
Stared longingly at the made beds – just a short nap.

When down in the basement arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my scrubbing to see what was the matter.

Away to the basement I flew like a flash.
I made it look like the 100 yard dash.

The floor on the basement, clean moments ago,
Looked like a vacuum in a rage in reverse did blow.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But two little kids, quaking with fear.

And I knew in a moment, for you see I am quick,
Who was deserving a couple of licks .

More rapid than eagles my words they came,
And with two tight lips, I called their full names.

"What were you doing? Who made this big mess?
Go get the broom; don’t bother to confess.

To the first floor by the top of the stairs,
Grab the broom that’s awaiting you there!"

As little mice that before a wild cat do scurry,
When they meet with a paw, run around in a hurry,

So up to the stair-top the kiddies they flew,
To gather the tools to make it look new.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the first floor
The prancing and dancing done before any chore.

As I drew in a breath to yell, “Come on down,
Down the steps they each came with a bound.

One held the broom, the other the pan.
The two worked it out as best as two can.

They swept all the dirt and threw it in the trash,
Now a toy in their hands, they looked ready to dash.

Their eyes -- how they twinkled! Their smiles were so bright!
They felt that with this task done all would be right.

Their cute little mouths were drawn up like a bow,
All felt complete; they were ready to go;

The broom they left askewed near the wall.
Never mind the hand prints now left on the wall.

As I grabbed a hold of their little round bellies,
I shook as I laughed at these two nervous nellies.

“Where are you going? There’s much more to be done.
Get yourself up there; there’s no time to have fun.

A wink of my eye and a given task that was said,
Soon gave them to know they had something to dread.

They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
And did all the chores, thinking their mom was a jerk,

And surveying their efforts all the way through,
And giving a nod of completion, out the door they flew;

They sprang to their bikes, with a yell and a whistle,
And away they both flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard them exclaim, ere they ran out the door,
"Thank goodness that’s done. Let go before she finds more!"

May your days be not hectic like mine; rather I hope they are full and devine.

I hope you have a Christmas as relaxing as theirs...


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Pretty Little Dolly

(Cue piano bar music)

(In a hushed, calm voice, like one remembering Christmastimes past)

My favorite Christmas song is one that is not usually sung around the Christmas tree. However, it is one that I usually love to sing with full emotions and spirit... with feeling, if you will. I hope that it is one that my children will learn and pass on to their children to come.

No other song that I know of will leave you feeling... well, something, for the special gift-wishing of Christmas. I, too, want this pretty little dolly. I am still hopeful that I will get one this year.

Now, without further adeiu, I give to you Mona Abboud's "Pretty Little Dolly."

May Santa bring you everything your little heart desires too.

(fade to black)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Lesson Before Buying

I hate shopping.

Find a parking space.

Go through rack after rack trying to find something you like.

Figure out if it is worth the arm and a leg donation I will have to make in order to take it home.

I usually don’t have enough money to make it worth my while to enter the stores. And I figure that if I avoid window shopping, then I won’t know what I am missing.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, even if it isn’t helping my fashion style.

Being a frugal sort of gal out of necessity, I have discovered a few places I don’t mind going because it is easier on my non-existent pocketbook. It may take a few more minutes to find what I want at these places, but it is worth the price when I find it.

I am a big fan of
TJ Maxx and Marshalls (I think they are owned by the same company). I usually head straight to the clearance area; since I am a small woman, I usually can find good items left on the rack at a deep discount. I walked out with a gorgeous evening dress for a Valentine’s Day date that cost all of $3. I’ve found dress pants for $4 a piece and shirts at a variety of low prices. Bonus! And if I need a gift, they have a huge selection of house wares from which to choose and the prices are really good.

Tuesday Morning is another gift place that is wonderful. You can find all sorts of items at big discounts. I mostly go for house wares at this store, but there are a plethora of items from which to choose. Sometimes the hunt involved makes the effort of finding things more thrilling because the store can be chaotic, especially around Christmas. If you haven’t been to a Tuesday Morning in your area, you should try to find one. They are not housed in expensive store fronts, but you are paying for a discounted item, not atmosphere.

BTW, by discounted, I don’t mean damaged. I mean overstocked merchandise from many other retailers. Get the same thing at some fancy-schmancy place for a lot less. That’s just smart thinking as far as I’m concerned.

Before I tell of the last place I have discovered, I need to give you a bit of background about myself. I grew up on hand-me-downs. I was so small as a child that everyone would filter their things to me. I loved it because I had tons of things from which to pick and choose to keep. It was like Christmas all throughout the year when I would come home and find a new stack of clothes that someone thought I might like.

Hmmm…This might explain why I don’t care to shop. I got use to having everything delivered to me. I think I need to charge myself a session for that bit of discovery.

Anyway, my friend Debbie introduced me to the
Junior League Resale Boutique. (Big kudos to Debbie!) It is my new favorite “store”. Yep, just like hand-me-downs, but cooler than things I ever got!

First of all, to “join” the elite JL, a woman pays a good amount in membership dues. Plus a member must donate volunteer hours to various associations and at least $150 worth of clothing to the boutique. (I said that all a member had to do was give a sweater and that should take care of it. But I would be wrong… A member has to give $150 worth of clothing at the prices at which they will sell it. I saw their prices. Someone would have to give a lot of clothes to reach that amount.)

Secondly, there were many things there that still had the tags on it. Not even secondhand. So you get to buy a new suit with the original tags still on it for $20 bucks, rather than the $200 tag price. And because mostly wealthy individuals participate in the organization, there are some really nice items available for purchase. Not that I have to have a name brand, but they were there all the same.

Lastly, I like that the entire purpose of this organization is to put money back into the community. The JL supports numerous programs, many involving literacy improvement. However, they also sponsor other organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House, Hope Lodge, Safehome, Junior Achievement, and others. The JL has charters all over the states, so most likely, if you live near a big city, you will find one.

There’s my lesson on good stewardship/being pennywise. Take it or leave it.

Oh, and if something doesn't fit, you can always send it to me.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'm turning into my parents...

I cannot sleep lately. I come home really tired, force myself to be helpful and patient (failing often) and there for the kids and am going to bed right after my daughter is tucked into bed, which is not as early as I would like it to be. (I am thinking of changing her bedtime to 7 PM.)

Although I am dead tired, I toss and turn until I fall asleep, but I awake at 3 AM feeling as if no sleep has helped me. And I am getting cranky... and emotional... I woke up this morning wanting to cry. Just too tired for my own good.

My parents have been in this pattern for a long time, especially my mom. I don't see how the woman is still alive, living on the little amount of sleep that she gets. It is something to which I am NOT looking forward.

At least I am guaranteed some private reading time or some uninterrupted prayer time.

I'm sure that God is trying to get my attention about something, but I can't figure it out yet. Pray that I get it soon, because if not, I am going to lose it.

Okay that's my blog for today. Gripe. Gripe. Gripe. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Let me end on a positive note.

Aren't these kids cute?

There. I feel better already.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Shall We Dance?

Mr. Right and I went to his office Christmas Party on Friday sans kids. But first it started with the pre-party. This group likes to get out is all I can say. And drink.

We met at Mr. Right’s manager’s house, or should I say mini-mansion. It was as if I had just stepped into a Pottery Barn catalogue. Beautiful! They must not have any kids because 1) they looked 15 years old, 2) there were no stains on the white carpet and 3) the house was immaculate.

See, now that would never happen at our place. If I get something new, the kids have this inborn sense of duty requiring them to make sure that every new object or room to have either a chocolate handprint embedded on it or a crack installed within 10 minutes. They are very diligent at this task…

Oh, and 4) they had a huge selection of wine from which to choose. I love childless couples. They get to have some major fun or at least money to look like they have fun. I was drooling over the wine cellar. A bottle never lasts long enough at our place to make it into a cellar. It usually goes from bag to table to glass. Perfect order.

Being that it was the first time I was meeting his fellow workmates, I met lots of new people. Correction… new, YOUNG people. I think the new hiring age is 14. I just can’t keep up with all these new laws…

I teased Mr. Right that he was the old man of the group. He didn’t seem to mind. Darn, I’ll have to get him on something else…

As a team, they seemed to gel pretty well. They were cutting each other, making each other laugh, and telling some good stories on each other. They were accepting of the spouses/girlfriends at the party too. That is always a big relief when you don’t know anyone. I was totally preparing to have them spring the “Name Game” on me. I think I might have won, too. (Bob with Rebecca, Nate with Jackie, Jeff with no one, Jared with Natalie, Sean sans mate, Mike with Sarah, Wes with Abby, Karen sans boyfriend… See, it’s been three days and I can still remember. There has got to be some use for this talent…)

From the gorgeous mini-mansion, we went to the big party, the one with all the big bosses and little bosses and in-between bosses and every other employee. We went to one of the many country clubs in the area… ones of which we are not members, to say the least. I can’t even be a member of the book-of-the-month club, let alone some posh, swanky country club where you have to have on your best underwear to enter the door. (I’m sure that they check that as they check your coat…)

After thwarting the panty-check guard, we made it to our party room. The company puts on a good spread… smoked salmon, spinach puffs, ravioli, smoked turkey and roast beast, I mean beef, but it was huge, it could have been a beast.
There was an open bar with two free drinks, but my favorite parts were the three wine bottles on the table and the live band with a dance floor.

This was shaping up to be a good night…

The company was good, the wine and food was great and the band was, as Bridget would say, fabulous. They could play a variety of music, at all different speeds and from a diverse grouping.

Mr. Right and I figured that we would start the dance floor side of things.

Okay, being that Mr. Right hates to be the center of attention, it was all me begging him to get out there with me. He gave in after the promising to … well, never mind. He danced with me.

Now I’m not sure if you have seen my picture yet, but I am a white girl. Even further, I am a Christian white girl who grew up in the Bible belt. Further yet, I am a Christian white girl who grew up in the Bible belt who can’t dance. Where many of my friends spent time at dance clubs and bars, I went bowling, watched movies, hung out with my friends, stayed involved with plays or choir practices and went TP-ing, with the occasional entry onto a school dance floor or a dance club. Needless to say, I have no neat moves in my groove. My grooves are more like a drunk stumbling in the street.

But fortunately for me, I don’t care what others think of me. I just like to have a good time.

I think, however, Mr. Right and I were the only ones who didn't mind looking like fools. We danced three dances, and still no one joined us on the floor. Mr. Right was starting to break out in a sweat. He stuck with me, though. After the third one, he seemed to relax and just enjoy himself. We wound up smiling (laughing) at ourselves. But we had fun!

Eventually, Jeff came out to dance with me and Ray taught me the Pretzel. John and his wife came out and dance a couple of dances too. I think a few people finally got enough liquor in them to try it out.

It was sad that one of the oldest couples (us) with kids (we were one of the few couples who did have kids) were willing to get out there and enjoy ourselves. We saw lots of people watching with the look of wishing to be out there, but they were glued to their chairs.

I refuse to be one of those couples who sit things out because they’ve gotten older or they worry about what others will think. I plan on going out dancing, well if not dancing, then at least with a bit of pizzazz in my step.

I can’t wait until next year’s party… Maybe I’ll get my dance lessons in by then. Then I’ll really cut loose!

You should still watch out for your toes, though. I'll most likely still step on them...


Friday, December 16, 2005

Call me Claus... Mrs. Claus

I'm beginning to look a lot like Mrs. Clause. I am eating my way through the holidays. This is not necessarily a good thing.

Pastries, cookies, candy, Christmas party spreads… It’s all spreading on my thighs and my belly. You know, the one that is shaking like a bowl full of, well it’s not quite jelly yet. It’s more like preserves... for now.

If I can just figure a way for it to spread upward… that’s a place I wouldn’t mind extra padding that’s real.

Why can’t salad be as exciting as Death by Chocolate Cake? Why can’t vegetables be as tempting as frosted sugar cookies with the sugar sprinkles?

I’ve met many a pastries that I’ve loved getting to know. I’ve not met a brussels sprout that I cared to give the time of day.

Conversation between me and cheesecake:

“Hi, Cheesecake. It’s so good to see you again. How’s it going with you?”

“Oh, Shalee. It’s been great. My family and I are going to the best parties. It’s so nice to be wanted.”

“Well, you have always been a favorite of mine. I always seek you out when I know we’re going to be at the same place together. Will I be seeing you at the Christmas party tonight?”

“I’ve already sent in my RSVP. Look for me. I’ll be dressed in the strawberry sauce! I’ll be looking good tonight!”

“It’s a date!”

I always keep my dates with Cheesecake. Mr. Right is very understanding.

Conversation between me and the veggie tray:

“Excuse me. Do you have the time?”

“Do you have any brussels sprouts with you?”

“No, not today. Just us broccoli and carrots here.”

“Well, it’s 7:10. Now don’t talk to me.”

Then I'd give them the cold shoulder. Now if brussels sprouts were on the tray, I would have given the entire tray a long, hard stare, making them quake in their compartments, then give them a cold shoulder as I walk away.

You see my dilemma. If you have any great recipes that will entice me to eat some good veggies, post them on the blog. I bet others are in the same boat. They just aren’t fessing up to it yet.

But remember: I know Cheesecake. And we talk!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Share the Joy of the Season, but not the Germs

Sorry Lynnette, no pictures on this blog. You wouldn't want to see them anyway. It would not be a pretty sight...

I don’t want to see another load of laundry for at least a week.

Okay, I’m sure it will appear before the day is through, but I don’t want to see another “You’re sick so now I have to wash every article of clothing, bedding, towels and anything else that you’ve been touching” load. It just sucks to have to do laundry around the clock.

Mr. Right woke up Monday morning at 1 AM, feeling quite nauseous. The sickness swelled into nausea and some serious bathroom time by 2 AM. Add a bowl for the chance that the two symptoms would meet, court and quickly marry, which they did from 2:30 AM on. This was not a wedding I wanted in my house.

Now if there is one condition that Mr. Right despises the most, it’s being nauseous. He hates the idea of retching and, of course, the process of doing it. Throw in the fact that he usually cannot force himself to do so when he is really in need of it, and you can see why he has a serious aversion to this complaint. I kid you not, given the choice of sticking a sharp needle in his eye or being nauseous for a day, he would take the needle every time.

He stayed home on Monday, of course, which is what the family who were sick with this virus should have done rather than going to church, thereby sharing it with everyone else. (Oh yes, we were not the only recipients of this wonderful gift. “Merry Christmas. Here have a virus. There’s plenty to go around.” They shared with many. I understand that this is the season of giving, but come on, you can keep some things to yourself!)

Can you tell that I am a little perturbed at these virus-passing people?

Lesson to be learned today: When you are sick, STAY HOME!!!

Mind you, Mr. Right just started a new job. He wass not even three weeks into it. He not only had a death-like virus coursing through his body, but now he had job insecurities/worries bouncing through his brain as well. He was not in the best of spirits.

I did call his new boss to tell him what the situation was. I got his voicemail, so I had to leave a message.

Did I tell you that we have a very sensitive phone? It can pick up sounds from another room. I later heard from Mr. Right about the retching sounds that were recorded on the voicemail. Who’d of thunk… At least his boss knew that Mr. Right wasn’t playing hooky.

He wasn’t any better by the time I got home from work. The kids were already worrying about their dad, but of course I didn’t want them to go near their father. It was one of those “Look, but don’t touch - now go wash your hands” moments.

I started to worry about him by Monday night when I suggested calling the nurse line and he handed me the phone. After talking to the nurse, conveying every symptom, giving her all information about Mr. Right, from birth date to belt size, from pain rating to highest game score ever made on Age of Mythology, she recommended that he go to the emergency room.

Mind you, this was now 11:30 PM. Where do you find a sitter at that time of night? Mr. Right evidently still had a few working cells because he threw out John’s name. Of course! John, our wonderful friend, came rushing over. (John has a new jewel in his crown! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!) He didn’t even complain about being awakened his beauty sleep. What a guy!

We went to the ER and found out that Mr. Right was not, contrary to his belief, dying. He was just the lucky winner of the PYGO (Puke Your Guts Out) lottery. Now if only I could have that happen with the Kansas Lottery… I would, of course, have to actually buy a lottery ticket for that to happen, but seeing how we never purchased a ticket for the PYGO lottery, my chance could be good.

Anyway, after pumping him full of an IV, drugs and more drugs, Mr. Right came home. It’s amazing what modern science can do for a man in pain. He slept throughout the rest of the night and awoke at 10 AM on Tuesday, cautiously taking in a bit of sustenance, something he hadn’t been able to do since Sunday night. Everything was good so far. He fell back asleep. He slept most of the day, awakening to test the eating process very slowly.

Me? My tasks had just begun. Job? Wash everything in sight. Additional chore? Wash everything not washed in the first job. You would think that my house would be clean, but you would be wrong. There is only so much I can do to in a day, even with the kids at school. Besides, it would just get the lived-in look as soon as they came home…

So once again, my day off from work was not for me and not really a day off. Ahhh… the joys of being married and being a mom. I love feeling needed.

Mr. Right is 85% back to being his whole self. The other 15% is hanging around waiting to see if it wants to inhabit his body again.

Now, I’m just praying that I don’t find out that the newly married symptoms came from a shotgun wedding and were already producing little baby viruses just for the rest of the family. That would just suck all over again…


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Miracle on 157th Street

December 2005 - the year soon to be known as the first Christmas in our new home. We are really so excited about this Christmas because it is the first time in a very looooong time that we can have guests without having to strategically place every foot, hair, bedroll and, more importantly, bathroom breaks.

There are things you don't find out about your new home until a certain season appears. Then many things become apparent - like how cold your basement really can get in the winter, how warm your upstairs will get in the summer if you don't turn on the ac, how poorly insulated your front door is at -3º, and how excited your neighbors get over a holiday.

It’s the latter that is the most worrisome for me.

Starting on the weekend of Thanksgiving, we watched in awe as three workmen began work on the Christmas decorations for that house. First they covered the street lamp with red paper and wrapped a set of runner lights down the pole. Then lights were wound around the trees, pre-made decorations started appearing on the lawn, in the windows, over the garage. Each day we could see some addition to the lawn.

Much to our dismay, as the days passed on, the men moved on to the house beside said house. A train base was built around a tree. More lights appeared in the tree. The house became a tangle of wires, lights, decorations and all things bright.

Even more to our dismay, we noticed them working on a huge nativity light display on the house across the street.

Much to our horror, they moved on to the house next to ours. It was like a fungus that was spreading to all areas nailed down. This was not looking good, literally and figuratively. Literally because there were wires everywhere.

Figuratively because would we be next? Would they take over our undecorated house to put us in the Christmas spirit? Would we have to pay for all that electricity? Would everyone soon be staring in dismay at our place too?

Okay, it’s not that they don’t do that already since we have two very active kids, but hey, we invite the stares at that time. It comes with the territory of having kids.

But this? This was entirely different.

I ran outside and threw a wreath up above our door… Literally. I don’t have a ladder yet. Fortunately the previous owners had a nail up there from previous years.

They finally finished up on the house next to us and left. Whew…

Maybe because we were new, they wanted to give us a year to break us in.

Fine with me. It gives me a year to figure out how to tell them no.

Okay I have to admit that although it looks like a big mess during the day, it is very entertaining at night. They even have choreographed music playing with it.

The traffic in front of our normally non-busy street is starting to get congested around 7 to 8 in the evening. If this keeps up, maybe I can start a toll road. Hey, I could make a little money to pay for Christmas gifts.

Now there’s an idea!


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Deck the Halls, or the Tree (but not each other)

We have a system when we trim the tree. Here is the exact order in which it must be done, or else all that is chaotic and unjust in the world will be let loose, and then who knows what will happen next.

1. Mr. Right works to get the lights on the tree. We have a deal. He does all the stringing and I do all the holding and walking around the tree with the lights, and no one cusses or gets hurt. (By no one, I mean me.)

2. I unpack all the ornaments, while the daughter is reprimanding the son for breathing on any of them. ("No! They are very fragile!" says she.) She is ready to tackle him for encroachment.

3. I remind the daughter that she is not The Mom.

4. Daughter continues to watch her brother very carefully, biting tongue when desiring to rebuke brother. Thankfully, brother is clueless about said sister's attitude.

5. Ornaments are hung all over the tree, except the ones the son hung. They all seem to belong on the same branch - right next to the ones he hung previously.

6. I distract the son while rearranging the 29 ornaments on the now breaking limb.

7. We sit in front of the tree, admiring our handy work, talking about how lucky we are to be able to do this simple (or not so simple) task as a family.

I love Christmas!

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Monday, December 12, 2005

To Tree or Not to Tree, That is the Question

We are “Real Christmas tree” people. I always had a real one growing up and so did Mr. Right. I can’t picture switching to a fake one. I love the smell of the fresh cut tree entirely too much!

So a week ago, the kids and I went out to the choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm to… well, choose and cut our very own Christmas tree. It was “a day of fun” (said the kids).

I picked the kids up a tad early from school because I was using my father-in-awe’s truck and the headlights had decided to quit working the moment we got it, so we had to do everything before it got dark. The kids were thrilled because 1) they realized they weren’t in trouble, even though they were summoned to the Principal’s office, 2) they got to leave school early, especially on a Friday and 3) they were excited to pick out the tree. This year was the first time that they would have a say on which tree we would get. I, of course, had winning vote. [I love being the mom… I have Ultimate Power (cue echo sounds) Wah Ha Ha Ha…]

On the 20 minute drive to the farm, we sang Christmas carols, listened to the Christmas station in town and tried to keep warm. (We happened to be going on one of the coldest days we had so far.) We discussed all sorts of things, like decorating the tree, what kind of tree we wanted (green was a priority on their list), and how soon it would take us to find “the perfect tree”.

I really liked the family-owned farm. The family tried to make it a fun adventure for everyone. We took a hayride, which was mighty cold, out to the trees; when the tractor stopped, the driver told me to take a saw and to go find a tree. He would be by later to pick us up.

Now when I said I wanted to go to a choose-and-cut tree, what I really meant was that I wanted to go to a place where I would choose and someone else would do the cutting, dragging, shaking and carrying. That is my idea of a good time tree hunting.

I must have had this deer-caught-in-the-headlights (but not my headlights because remember- they were not working) look, because he then said “Put the saw on the tree and I will come by and cut it for you when you are ready.”

Ahhh… Much better.

So the kids and I walked the tree farm looking for the right one. Boy, were they picky! I would have taken the third tree I saw, but it wasn’t full enough for them. They kept walking around looking for a tree that was tall, full and very green. They wanted one not so pokey, but I told they that that was part of tree package deal. They decided that would be okay, as long as they didn’t have to touch the tree. They actually agreed on a tree in a fairly reasonable, amount of time. And they were nice about it!

Darn… I’ll have to use that Ultimate Power some other time…

Long story short (TOO LATE!), we found our tree, had it cut and drugged to the stalls where they shook the life out of it (the kids really laughed at that sight) and the son of the farm owner carried our tree to the truck. We went in to pay for it and they had some hot chocolate and a peppermint stick for everyone, along with a fireplace to warm us up.

Yes, we did make it home before dark. Mr. Right came home, and we started the festivities of decorating the tree.

I’m thinking this is a tradition that I want to keep going for as long as possible. These are the memories that I hope stick with the kids … and me too.
Photo: See they really were nice to each other that day!


Friday, December 09, 2005

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

We had some beautiful snow start to fall on Wednesday night. The kids were so excited!

Now this makes the cold worthwhile.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Good morning. You are the 101st caller…

This morning I was listening to the local radio station and they had a contest to win a breakfast with Santa at a really posh restaurant. I started thinking that the kids would love that bit of excitement, considering if we do get to eat out, it usually has something to do with a golden arch or wrapped food. They love those choices, but I am sure it would not hurt them to actually see that there are restaurants that serve food on something called a plate and it needs to be eaten with those shiny things beside the plate called silverware. They see these things at home, but I am not sure that it has translated to eating out yet.

Anyway, you had to wait until they played “It’s Christmas in Kansas City” and then book it on the calling. Since it was Star 102, they wanted the 102nd caller to win this really cool prize. I never call on those contests because 1) I never win and 2) you have to sit there pressing cancel and redial for a long time. But I thought that since it was for the kids, I would give it a whirl.

Let me say that I would love to hug the person who invented the redial button. It’s a handy dandy button to have because it was taking a while to get them to answer.

Hmmm. It seems that everyone had the same idea.

ERRR. (That the sound for busy signal.) Hang up.
ERRR. Hang up.
ERRR. Hang up.
ERRR. Hang up.
(Repeat 58 times.)
ERRR. Hang up.
RIIIIING. (Oh, wait! That's a ring. Don’t hang up.)

This is it! Oh please. Oh please. Oh please.

Jean Ashley answered the phone. A really good sign as she is the disc jockey in the morning!

“Hello. Star 102. You are the 101st caller."

So I replied as any mature person would:

“Noooooooooooooo! One off? That’s so not fair!”

To which she replied, “I know, but life’s not sometimes. I'm so sorry.” Click.

I don’t like her.

That man in the red suit is too fat as it is. He could do without a breakfast with us anyway.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Do You Get My Meaning?

I love and hate Christmastime.

I love the meaning behind the season.

  • Christ coming to this world as a baby and living among us
  • Jesus being the joy, light and reason for our lives
  • The little baby bringing hope, love and salvation to a world of sinning dying souls
  • The idea of putting others before ourselves
  • Giving delight to others – strangers and loved ones alike – in the form of presents, just like the Lord gave the gift of love to us through his death
  • Singing praises to the King

I hate what it seems to have become – the season to spend, spend, spend.

  • Buying gadgets that aren’t needed
  • Spending outlandish amounts on decorations, inside and outside of the house
  • Making a multitude of goodies to eat, when we don’t need or want to eat them
  • Trying to outdo ourselves or each other in the gift-giving scenario
  • Cringing in January because the credit card bill will be a lot thicker

And the mall? Don't even get me started... That is an entirely different blog!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not Scrooge reincarnated. No bah hum bug here.

I love giving and receiving gifts. My favorite moment of the entire season is when I get to open my presents. I am one of those who can’t wait for Christmas morning, waking up at an entirely too early hour and wishing others would get up too, so I make all sorts of noise with the coffee pot and the pans to make breakfast so that others will, conveniently, wake up on their own too. It’s funny, but we all seem to get up around the same time every year…

But it seems that many miss that the entire reason that this day is celebrated: to mark the birth of the Savior. We sing about it without hearing the words. We hang lights with no thoughts to why the lights are so meaningful in the first place. Presents are exchanged without deliberating about the gift from God.

It’s so sad.

Mr. Right and I are attempting to teach our kids what we think the meaning of Christmas is. Yeah, we do the Santa thing and the stockings and the decorating and the baking, but we want them to know that there is more to Christmas than that.

Much more.

We as a family do service projects together throughout the year, relating it to the services rendered by God. The kids shop for gifts to give to others in need, hearing that all that we have belongs to God and He asks that we share our blessings with others. We talk about the ultimate gift of God relating to the gifts that we give to each other, and we sing lots of songs some about the happiness of the season and others about the Christ child. (My problem is that I can’t remember all of the words to the songs. I’ve got to get the songbook out because the kids aren’t believing me when I say that “Watermelon really is the word to that song.” You singers will know what I’m talking about!)

Some of our coaching is starting to sink into their heads, especially with our daughter. She already is asking about what we are going to do for gifts to a family in need this year.

Ahhh… music to my ears.

I find that even though I really desire to have a spiritual depth to Christmas, I still fail miserably. I am often thinking quite selfishly. So I came up with a plan to remind myself about the genuine joy of the day. If you want to do something small as a reminder, maybe you can try this idea, too.

Everyone in the family buys a new candle. They then are placed them around the house to await the lighting time – Christmas morning. We try to remember to light them before opening the gifts, but if we forget in all the excitement, we go around afterwards. The candles represent the birthday candles for Jesus, giving us mini-reminders throughout the day that there is more to the day than new games, toys and feasting.

I love walking into the kitchen and seeing the candle and briefly uttering a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus while I am going in for my third piece of gingerbread.

Now what I really need to do is to light them the other 364 days of the year. I think I could use the reminder about Christ all those other days too…

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…

No, I mean it.

It’s downright scary. Horror movie frightening… Like The Shining, except no Jack Nicholson or haunted spirits. The only thing after you is a strong, warmth-killing wind, trying to suck the remotest particles of heat from you, killing all active brain cells that usually tell you to get your butt inside where the fire is warm and the food is on the table. Okay, so that is not just like The Shining, but that was a freak you out, chill you to the bone movie, so it kind of works...

It’s stinkin’ cold around here. We had this wonderful nice fall weather one day and the next thing you know, God made it as cold as my freezer. The deep freeze freezer… I’m telling you, it’s glacial around here!

I saw some penguins moving onto the fake lake this morning. They said the polar bears were right behind them, then they started all that cute penguin-y stuff, like sliding everywhere and pushing each other in the hole in the ice that they made.

Cold. Cold. Cold.

I’m thinking a trip south somewhere is in order. Where can I go with $1.96? That’s all I have left after Christmas shopping…

And I get no sympathy from anyone around here, except Mr. Right. He gives the proper “Awww” sounds, hugs me and hands me a nice warm cup of tea. Plus he lets me warm my cold feet on him. Reason #8596 to keep him!

What I usually hear from everyone is “Put some meat on them bones.” Humph…Men!

Puh-leaze. What are they – stupid? As if I want to get big just to stay warm. I mean that is why God made desk heaters, hot chocolate, fireplaces and down comforters!

The upside is that since it is going to turn into the Antarctic this week, we get to have pretty flurries to make it look as if the cold is going to be worthwhile. I find that I can handle the cold as long as it looks like it’s trying to be pretty outside. Otherwise, it is some trial to be endured until the thaw comes.

I hope all this wintriness means that we can have a white Christmas. For that, and a good sled ride, I can make it through the chilliness. Now you’re talking!

Pass those hand warmers, would ya? I got a hill to tackle.

Look out below!!!!


Monday, December 05, 2005

All I Want for Christmas Is Money to Pay the Tooth Fairy

My daughter lost two bottom canine teeth last night. Both in one night...

The Tooth Fairy was scrambling to find something to go under her pillow.

Long ago, when she lost her first tooth, Mr. Right and I decided that the Tooth Fairy was going to bring either money or a gift to exchange for the tooth. This has worked out pretty well because sometimes I have no moolah to put under the pillow, but often I have some gift squirreled away (hey, that’s another way I am turning into a squirrel... This is getting very sad for me...) that I can put in place of money.

Score one for the parents.

Well, it worked until the girl figured out who the Tooth Fairy really is. Now when she looses a tooth, she states, indirectly of course, what she hopes the Tooth Fairy will bring. Like a Tamagotchi virtual pet or the new Harry Potter book or some new hair clips or lots of money, especially since she lost two teeth in one night.

Score one for the girl.

Too bad it is so close to Christmas. The girl will be lucky if I can find a couple of bucks stashed away in a coat pocket.

Score for the Tooth Fairy.

Don’t feel too sorry for her. She found a handful of change under her pillow. That girl is now richer than me!

Girl wins the game.

Maybe if I start wiggling my tooth, I’ll find a gift card to Wal-Mart or Target under my pillow. Heck, I’d even take the virtual pet thing now…

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Call Me Squirrely...

Call me squirrely. Okay I’m sure that I am it applies the way you’re thinking, too, but that isn’t actually what I meant.

I mean that I think I am turning into a squirrel. I find myself stuffing my cheeks as far as they will stretch and still looking for more to eat. It’s like my body has decided that food will be running short all winter long, and I need to pack on the pounds to make it through the winter.

If it can be eaten, I will snap it up, munch on it and store it away for future use. Okay, that use will probably be sitting around and eating more food, but it will be put to good use! I mean you have to have enough energy to lift the fork… (work with me here…)

And when you look in my desk, I have all sorts of goodies packed in drawers. Popcorn, granola bars, mandarin oranges, tuna… I had Pop Tarts, but they, ummm… mysteriously disappeared. Hey they were Chocolate Fudge! You can’t expect them to last very long around me! The point is that I am like a squirrel, hiding food all over the place so that I can retrieve it at a later time.

It won’t help me that Leisa, one of my coworkers, is a baker. She says she loves to bring in homemade goodies. Great… More stuff that I won’t be able to keep my hands off.

So it seems as if my body is just trying to match my mentality. I think I’ll be fine… as long as I stay away from trees. They are starting to look like a pretty comfortable place to live…

Photo: Don't try this at home.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Subject Advisory: Girl Talk Ahead

Do not proceed if you want to stay out of the female psyche.

Last chance to close it down…

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m a pretty regular gal. I brush my teeth regularly. I take a shower every morning. I eat chocolate chip cookie dough and watch chick flicks on a regular basis. I take part in girl gabs and I cry over Hallmark commercials, even if I’ve seen it 20 times. I even fantasize about being a 5’10” supermodel, but then I think about all the stuff I would have to give up to look like that, so I find myself content as a 5’2” female eating a pint of Baskin & Robbins chocolate fudge ice cream.

Yep, just your normal, everyday gal.

My body is on a schedule, too. I have always been very regular with my cycle. Every 28 days on the dot… It makes the motto “Be prepared.” pretty easy because I know down to the day when I will be starting, what sensations will precede the “big event” (PMS) and exactly how long it will last.

Like I said, I’m a pretty consistent girl.

Now imagine what I have been thinking when my period still has not arrived a week after it was due. And my breasts are very sore. And the smell of coffee is making me sick. All events that happened prior to finding I was pregnant the first time.

You need to be aware of another part of my history: Mr. Right got snipped after we had our son. We had one of each sex, and he thought post-partum was too hard on me (that is an entirely different blog to be discussed at a later date, but I can tell you that it wasn’t), so he had the vasectomy. (He volunteered for that task when we first married, so we didn’t have any kind of argument about who was doing what. Now that’s a nice guy!)

As far as I know, there was only one Immaculate Conception, so if I am pregnant, Dr. Woods has some serious explaining to do.

And I have some serious thinking to do.

I’ve had 5 years of not having to get up in the middle of the night to feed, 3 ½ years of no diapers, all of my baby clothes and furniture have been passed on and I fit into all of my clothes… well, not since Thanksgiving, but that isn’t due to a baby. That’s because I don’t know when to stop eating, but I’ll fit back into them after Christmas. (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.)

So news like this is quite shocking. Bewildering. Pensive. Thrilling. Elating. Worrisome.

I have run the gamut in emotions.


To: It would be neat to do the whole pregnancy thing again. (I loved being pregnant, even the not-so-desirable parts.)

To: I always have wanted a third child, so this is God saying you need another one. (Because if it is in God’s plan for me to have one, it doesn't matter how many surgeries my husband has. God will do what God wants to do.)

To: Wow! Another baby… Wouldn’t that be a great blessing for our whole family!

There is something about having those moments of hope that is so exhilarating and breathtaking. To start over again with a new blessing from God… To do some things differently… To do some things exactly the same… To have another chance at getting things right…

So many questions have arisen from these few days of uncertainty:

What would the baby be like? Would he be a snuggler? Would she smile and be happy most of the time? What kind of personality would the baby have? Would she look like Mr. Right or would my features be dominant (like me)? What gifts would he/she have and what would God have in store for him/her in the future?

But the big ones are: Am I too old to do it all over again? Will I have the energy it will take to raise another one? How will we ever afford to do it again? How can I keep from making the same mistakes again? Do I really want to go through those embarrassing experiences again, you know the ones just like Antique Mommy just regaled?

But then I take a breath and remember that God has never failed me yet. He’ll take care of all details like He has already with my son and daughter. Everything will work out in the end. Even the embarrassing stuff.

I guess He has worked it out. I started today.

Maybe God just wants to remind me that I need to rely on Him in all things and to remember that I am blessed with the babies I already have.

Hey, I think I’ve just given birth to something new for me: perfect peace. Now that’s something I would love to raise.

Maybe God just has a sense of humor and He wanted to hear me laugh.

It worked.