Friday, December 28, 2007

362 Days Until Christmas

Christmas was a hit and run over here. After less than 3 hours sleep, the kids tore through a mound of presents in seconds.

And just like that, Christmas was over.

I know most normal people leave their gifts under the tree for a few days for easy access and subtle bragging. But, since I am not normal, and I need to sell my house lickety split, we have sorted and stashed everything that Santa brought in a wow-those-closets-are-HUUUGE fashion.

The tree and all it's trimmings are even gone.

While I do like the look of a clean house, I do actually feel bad for the kids. I have vowed to myself that no matter how my impulses direct me to clean up, I will let them have their presents out for a few days next year. We will even leave the tree up until New Year's day. In the formal living room. Where I can close the pocket door to the mess.

Oh well. The next few days will be a flurry of cleaning and staging as the realtor will be by on Tues/Wed to take pictures and get the house officially listed. The owner of the house we're buying is sending her realtor over, too, as she is interested in taking a look. She is apparently in the midst of a divorce and needs to downsize in the same school district.

Wouldn't that be something?

Anyway, we are days away from 2008 and by all accounts it looks to be a good one. Dad had a baseline PETscan on Wed, and we have every reason to believe that all future scans will be remain the same. If all goes as planned, Mom and Dad will be New York State residents again this year. If nothing else happens, I hope this to be the highlight!

My brother and sister-in-law are IN LURVE again...a great joy to the rest of us who thought we might have the first divorce in the extended family (no, the joy isn't that we avoided being the first...duh). Get a room, for God's sake! ;-)

My sister and bro-in-law are heading to Atlanta for a trade show next weekend...the beginning of yet another (I'm sure) profitable year for their business ( Wilson, of course, will still be the prince (Vinnie is king, baby).

And us? Hopefully I get to send out the change of address postcards I've already spent too much time obsessing about (sick, I know). If we're embarking on an exciting moving adventure, there are no four people of the planet I'd rather be with than my husband and our trio.

As for the rest of you...Happy New Year! May your wildest dreams come true!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I Feel The Love...

...from all six of you!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your gracious compliments about my new do...even if I kinda begged for them. I still like the cut, but that usually only lasts a few days. Then I'll start to get irritated with having to blow dry it everyday and grow it out.

That's how I roll.

I also appreciate your kinds words about the house. I am almost embarrassed about my inability to go with the flow on this one. I'm still stressed, although relieved to have the offer done with (mostly...we expect them to accept our offer this morning and our attorney will review it by the weekend).

I am determined to relax until after Christmas and to focus only on the things I can accomplish (like wrapping presents...oh my God...).

Yesterday during another small freak out, I decided to call Amazon and find out where my 5 shipments are (FIVE, for TWO separate orders). The customers service girl was friendly enough and our conversation started out with the civility you'd expect from someone like myself.

Someone one the verge of a nervous breakdown who needs to wrap her fucking presents!

She went through all the possible reasons why my packages haven't shipped.

Clickety, clickety, clack on the keyboard...a few moments of silence.

"I think there's a payment problem. Oh. No. Not a payment problem."

Clickety, clickety.

"I think some of your items may be out of stock. Oh. No. Everything is in stock."

Clickety, clickety.

"I think perhaps you entered the wrong shipping method. Oh. No. You didn't."

Clickety, clickety.

"Wait...oh yes, here it is. I see what's holding up your TWO separate orders in FIVE separate shipments. It seems that we pulled an item from our stock that didn't meet our standards. You know, a torn box or something like that. We pride ourselves for the highest level of customer service...and, what did you say?"

"No, no, I can't guarantee delivery by Monday. Yes, yes, I know we guaranteed it by the 19th, but that's before we found something that didn't meet our, I underst...."

"Ummm, no...I suppose on time delivery and keeping the magic of Santa alive might be more important than a torn box, but ummmm..."

"Mrs. Martine, please stop shouting at me."

"Mrs. Martine? Hello?"


I just checked my Amazon account. All but one of my shipments says it shipped on the 20th, and will arrive on the 20th. What?!

Either it's a Christmas miracle or she's messing with me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Look What I Did

I was getting a little sniffly on the phone with Steve today about the overwhelming-ness of all this house stuff. I think it's generally pretty stressful buying/selling a house on impulse (reading the offer contract line by line, and realizing how many people have their grubby hands in your pocket before you even sign anything) but doing it one week before Christmas is bordering on certifiably insane.

But...whatever...Steve wasn't entirely unsympathetic, but I do remember something like "save the drama for yo' mama".

So after I hung up with him I decided to do something I've been thinking about for months.

I cut my hair. All of it.

At Supercuts for God's sake.

When I sat in the chair I was so sure it was exactly what I wanted. I didn't hesitate for a minute. And then the size 2, blond "cosmetologist" (who is probably young enough to be my daughter) started shaking.

And 10 inches of hair fell to the floor.

But I like far.

And I really wanted to show it off to my readers. All two of you.

The thing is, I'm so vain I made everyone in my family take a different picture of me until I finally settled on one that didn't make me cringe. I would have asked Steve to keep taking pictures, but he wasn't feeling my angst, so the kids had to step in. Seriously. Seems I've got myself a nice set of jowls and my very own Paris-Hilton-Wonky-Eye, so I had to keep cocking my head just so and trying to make my eyes look uniform.

It was exhausting. Even the kids got sick of it.

Then after dinner, I had to make the rounds to all my neighbors to show off the new do and fish for more compliments. They all told me it looked "cute" and "darling"...and that I look years younger (I'm never moving).

So, there you have it. My impulse action for today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

She's That Cool

The full depth of my emotional neurosis is frankly a little frightening. And maybe it's because I'm feeling super vulnerable about the whole house deal (like the fact that we're submitting an offer tomorrow that, even if accepted, means squat 'cuz it's contingent...which means someone with a non-contingent offer or deeper pockets can scoop it up after I've finally brought myself to the point where I could actually fall in love with another house and leave my beloved little chalet). Which just fucking blows.

I digress.

I've been sitting here in my recliner with a giant lump in my emotional mess. I've even shed a couple of tears. Real ones.

And you wanna know why?

Because I'm listening to my sister's ipod.

It's the strangest I'm invading a little part of her personal space. But I'm not. She gave it to me (being the superstar saleswoman she is, she won a couple of shuffles in her days at Sager and has since upgraded to something fancier, so she passed hers along to me).

She told me before she sent it that she wished she knew how to clear the play list for me, but I can't tell you how glad I am that she didn't.

I've had the volume up so loud I know Mom would be reminding me of all the nerve damage I'm doing to my ears. But it's okay.

From Justin Timberlake to Elvis, Metallica to Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin to old school Run DMC. Eminem, U2, Billy Joel, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Garth Brooks...and some crazy, eerie shit that made me cry even more.

And Neil Diamond.
...we're coming to America...

I can't take it.

So diverse, so cool, so rich and soulful.

It made me realize that there's this whole chunk of her that I don't know, that I'm not a part of, that I've missed. And not because we aren't close...she's my best friend...but because we live so far apart. If we lived in the same town, we'd see each regularly. We'd be all up in each other's business. We'd go places, we'd do lunch or late night drive-bys past old boyfriend's houses.

We'd be together and I'd know what she listened to on the radio.

But she's there and I'm here. And maybe that's why I'm so touched and so emotional about her ipod. It makes me realize how much I miss her and how much I would love to have her in close proximity. I would love nothing more than to have her be one of the be a fixture in my home and my family.

She'd have a key to the house (I don't know which one) and everything.

She's the type of woman I'd be friends with even if she wasn't my sister. She's brilliant, sharp as a tack, wicked funny (wicked...make sure you always read the comments for her perspective), deeply emotional and completely devoted to those she loves. I admire everything about her.

She facilitated and paid for me to go to Dallas when the girls were newborns and the weight of postpartum depression was crushing me. She made sure my parents were able to get back to South Africa to provide comfort to Gramma after Grampa passed. She stepped in to do what was needed while Mom and Dad navigated his diagnosis, surgery and subsequent treatments.

She doesn't hesitate...she just does what's needed.

She's been a rock...for them and for me. I'm beyond lucky to have her as my sister and my friend.

And I miss her.

If she were here she'd talk me down from my crazy house fears, she'd tell me to quit crying over an ipod and hey...where's my Cabernet?

We'd crank up the hi-fi...I'd be making up words to some song I don't even know while she jams like a rock star.

Cuz's she's that cool. Really.

I love you, Brighid.

(an ode to my brother in the coming days...I dig him, too)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oh. My. God.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm terrified. Terrified to get my hopes up for the new house and terrified to leave this house. I'm even too scared to talk about it to anyone who isn't blood related.

I love it here. I love my neighbors, I love my house (love it). I actually can't believe that Steve and I find ourselves at this amazing fork in the road. We both feel drawn to "that" house...but I feel deeply indebted to this one. I brought all my babies Anytown Lane.

But it feels like the next stage of our lives is waiting for us at that house.

And it's blowing my mind.

If you're the praying type, please say a prayer that the right thing happens.

Playing Catch Up

I'm having a tough time finding time this week. That almost doesn't look like a real sentence...but nonetheless. It's been busy.

There is some pressure to meet my monthly goals for work there will be fewer and fewer people around in the week between Christmas and New Year. So I've been squeezing work in where I can...and neglecting other things.

Like this blog.

Most of my Christmas shopping is done. None of it is wrapped. There are other items on the Santa list not yet accomplished...and time must be made to take care of those things.


And, as if I didn't have enough on my plate, we are looking at a house. Well, we're probably putting an offer in on a house. Which means we're listing our house. Well, not until after Christmas, but we have to get the house ready to go on the market right after the 1st.

And that a lotta holy crap!

OK...much more about that later!!

So, pardon my silence. I actually have a lot to say (like how sad I am for an old friend's family as they face his manslaughter charges after a terrible hunting accident), and will find the time soon.

I promise.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is Russell Crowe

It's 11:08pm on Saturday night.

My face is stinging and my eyes hurt. Just got done watching Gladiator...again.

Those last 7 or 8 minutes.

"Lucius is safe."

That music.

"Honor him."

Gets. Me. Every. Time.

Tomorrow...Christmas shopping with Steve. I think my face will sting and my eyes will hurt by the time we get home.

At least I got me some Russell tonight.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mad Respect For My Son

I think when you're 37 and try to use hip phrases like "mad love, mad respect, mad props" you just sound like a giant dork. Which I can totally live with, because my boy impressed me so much yesterday.

See, two days ago, the little man was playing outside with some of the neighborhood kids. They had two groups of kids on either side of the street and were constructing snow forts and stockpiling snowballs. Conveniently, it was four middle school boys against 3 elementary schoolers (2 girls and Jack). One particularly large kid stomped on Jack's fort at every opportunity, and the poor things couldn't get the fort off the ground. So, at some point, Jack tries to dart across the street and have a quick go at their impressive, 3 sided fort. He is quickly grabbed by Sid (remember Toy Story...the demented neighborhood boy who blew up toys...Sid) and thrown to the ground.

A quick side note. I hope to achieve some level of anonymity in this blog. I don't want any of my friends, family or neighbors to recognize themselves in my writing, nor do I ever want feelings to be hurt or trusts betrayed. So, I will just call the boy Sid, instead of the little %&*$ that he is.

(Sigh...I tried).

So Sid sat on Jack's back long enough for the other three boys to shove snow in his face. Of course, he came in the house sobbing...hurt and humiliated. As this was not our first run-in with Sid, I urged my husband to address the situation...firmly.

Steve was just about to head outside to snow blow anyway, so he put on his camo snow pants, his big camo jacket and face mask. He looked big and scary. As I watched through the bathroom window, he strode (loooong, commanding steps) toward the boys. He singled Sid out, reminded him of his size and age, and made certain that he understood the consequences of ever laying a hand on Jack again.


It was fucking awesome! This same child, who has repeatedly mouthed back to me when I've confronted him with other issues, was crapping bricks. Putting him in his place was long overdue.

Anyway, as I am now reduced to childishness (no need to flame me...I know), you wanna know what Jack did?

He got off the bus yesterday (with one of his friends), suited up in his snow things and headed right back out there. He reinforced his fort before the older kids got off the bus...and waited.

Over the next two hours, the older boys and the younger boys were locked in a very civilized snowball battle. No one messed with Jack...but it didn't matter. He'd already showed them that he wasn't going to back down. That he wasn't going to let them decide with whom or where he was going to play.

I can't tell you how proud I am...and how much I respect him for his courage.

I stood quietly in the bathroom, pumping my fists in the air and he spoke volumes by showing up again.

Wow. Just wow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We're Ready

Friday night was rough. It was the night I started the serious efforts in Operation Computer Restoration (OCR)...and stayed up until 1:20am uploading all my pictures onto snapfish in case things went drastically wrong (read 'in case I f*cked it up even more').

And the kids lost their minds.

They were wild, loud and undeterred. Steve had to work this weekend, so he was of little help. They wrestled, jostled and chased until I became completely unglued and sent them all to bed...without their supper.

Oh, get over it. They ate.

Do people still eat "supper"?

Saturday morning was a continuation of OCR, but with less intense attention required at the screen. So, I decided to keep everyone busy and put up the Christmas tree. This is the third (I think) year with our fake, pre-lit tree. When we first bought it, we told the kids that it would be our "back-up" tree, that we'd still go out and cut a live tree if the weather was good.

Yeah, right! You'll never see me trudging though the woods, freezing my ass off...EVUH again!

Jack is most disappointed, says he likes the smell of a real tree. But...that's why they make pine scented candles.

Putting up a not-so-real tree is not as easy as it would seem. The limbs need some coaxing, fluffing and positioning...a task completely lost on the kids. After all their futile begging for a real tree, they had no interest in making the fake one look less like it just slid out of the box.

Anyway, the rest of the tree decorating was an exercise in restraint on my part. Maggie only hung ornaments that were "cute", Libby hung all her ornaments on one branch and Jack took my advice to heart and hung all the good stuff in the back of the tree ("remember, you can see all the way around the tree, even if it's in a corner"). I had to constantly remind myself to stay in the moment, let them follow their impulses and enjoy the activity, not the end result.

And after only a few tweaks here and there (and some gentle prodding to lighten the load on some branches), I think we ended up with a pretty great looking tree.

The kids were thrilled and excited, I was happy to have the tree done AND a fixed computer and Steve was jacked up that he didn't have to take all the stuff down from the attic.

We are ready for Santa, ready to celebrate the season.

And ready to cover up those extension cords with some presents!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Lost Weekend

The worm. Or trojan thingy. Or malware discontentitis.


That thing kicked my heiney over and over again. Just when I thought I had it licked, it reinstalled itself. I got so excited more than once, only to have my desktop disappear, turn red and a "DANGER" skull and cross boney thingy warning me that I may have spyware.

Ya think?

It took over 20+ hours (basically my entire weekend) of scanning, downloading, rescanning and posting sweet notes to some poor computer geek in Essex, England, begging for help to finally clear my infection (they don't mince words). For anyone who finds themselves in the same predictament, the folks over at do an amazing job. I guess they are all volunteers (with a paypal donation logo in each post...not so subtle) and have found a delicate balance between holding your hand and using terms that most dictionaries don't list. Anyway, I made a well deserved donation to Martin (ironic, eh?) only to find the exchange rate between the dollar and pound was quite favorable...for him.

I think it only confirmed to the dear boy that I'm an idiot.

But...onward and upward. We are sparkling clean again...ready to tackle this weeks topics.

Like how many times Brighid called me from Vegas to tell me she'd seen someone famous.

And how many times I sent my kids to their rooms because they went batshit crazy while I holed myself up in the basement office at the 'puter.

I will never run out of material for this blog. Never.