Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thirty One

That's how many pictures I took over the holidays. Thirty one! I usually take that many in a single sitting!

How pitiful.

Slim picture pickings aside, we've had a great Christmas. Santa was very good to us (even if he didn't think the knitting kits all the way through...who did he think was actually going to teach TWO six year olds to knit?). The kids were spoiled (oh my!), my liver got pickled and my belly expanded in direct proportion to the latter two.

It's just disgusting.

I will be a strict diet and exercise regimen come Monday. I know I've previously threatened to take before and after pictures, but I think I'm really going to do it this time.

Anyway, back to the cherubs (cough, cough). Here's Libby at the Gingerbread Town at school. Each child in her class was positioned behind his or her masterpiece while the rest of the school traipsed by in single file. She was ever so proud.
Maggie's class made gingerbread people which were displayed in the hall outside her class. We took the assignment very seriously and her candy laden person needed extra reinforcements to stay up on the wall.
Jack's teacher is exceptionally patient and created a holiday party the kids won't soon forget. She organized games for the group, one of which was a relay race opening Hershey Kisses with mittens on. Jack has some how earned the nickname "Soup" at school, and it was so much fun watching him scramble to open candies while all the boys chanted "Soup, Soup, Soup". Here he is on Christmas morning (a picture I had to crop as he was in his underwear for most of the day...can you imagine what he'd do to me if I posted a picture of him in his underwear!?).
The folks down south (Dallas-ites) also had a great Christmas Day together. They claim to have missed us, but judging from the pictures I've seen our absence went entirely unnoticed. Brighid sent some gorgeous pictures of the 'rents. This one is of Dad, soaking it all in and looking ever so handsome.
This is a great picture of Mom and her fifth grandchild (Wilson-The-Dog). She has weathered a rough couple of years, but you'd never know it by how beautiful she looks.
Speaking of Wilson, here is a disgusting public display of affection between him and his new boyfriend,Justin. Fellas! Get a room!
And that's it from me! I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and that the best things in life come to you in 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maybe Next Year

My neighbor arrived shortly before noon, with a bottle of Merlot. It was gone by 12:26pm...thus cancelling the Santa retrospective and house cleaning (thank God).

Such a shame, too. Maybe next year.

I have been so richly blessed. I have an amazing family, amazing kids and husband, and a great network of friends who truly care about me and mine.

What more could I ask for?

So, for you all, for Christmas and for 2009, I hope for the same. To feel loved, to feel blessed and to life your best life.
Merry Christmas!

Edited to add Wilson, who was to be included in the Santa retrospective.He's asking Santa for a bigger ding-a-ling. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Postage Budget

This will not be my last post before Christmas....didn't haul the crew to get pictures taken with Santa yesterday NOT to post a Santa retrospective...but had a small revelation this morning.


I've got a lot of nerve.

A big set.

Complaining bitterly about the lack of Christmas cards when sitting not two feet from me is a giant envelope filled with my overseas cards. They are addressed and licked shut. And sitting in a giant envelope. That's because I bought several books of stamps to send them in the first week of December, but forgot to weigh the cards before calculating how many stamps each would need. Before I left the post office I weighed one and after pushing my eyeballs back in their sockets ($.95 for EACH...I had over 20), I told myself I'd bring them back to be metered, thus saving the stamps (and extra postage) for the eighty plus cards I was sending State side.

Yes, a very well thought out plan...with very poor execution.

So, without further ado, to my friends and family in South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and 2008 Christmas card.

The front:

The back:

Merry Christmas and may the blessings of 2009 be bountiful!

Friday, December 19, 2008

1, 2, 3

Christmas is now literally around the corner. How did that happen? I have so much on my mind and have completely neglected my obsessive list making. Very unlike me. So, 3 quick lists to catch up.

Things I have lost track of are as follows:

1. What I have to bring for the kids "holiday" parties (they are not "Christmas" parties anymore). They each have a separate party at a separate time (which is so much easier and yet impossible), and I have volunteered to bring something to each (cookies, Hershey kisses, or something like that), but did not write anything down. I think I'll have to buy a few different things and just show up with a full Wegman's bag, open it up at each party and just say "take what you need".

2. Who I have left to buy for. All out of town gifts are on their way, but I still have 2 charities to donate to. I have 2 stocking stuffers left to buy and a couple of gifts. Which seems like, hey, I do know who I have to buy for, but the problem is it changes from moment to moment when I remember what I've ordered, where I've hidden boxes, etc. Which brings me to number 3.

3. Where I've stashed the goods. I have a couple of things hidden in my closet, under my bed, and in the basement. The closet and the bed are very manageable. The basement, not so much. There are things hidden in totes, bags and boxes that look remarkably like the ones we packed when we moved. I can see it now, rushing to the basement on Christmas morning to retrieve forgotten somethings or anothers. Libby is already very stressed out that I have not bought any more wrapping paper (she has no idea that I wrapped presents until my knees when numb on Monday). She keeps saying "Mommy, you're gonna need to buy A LOT of wrapping paper to wrap all the presents. Right? All the presents? Right?". She would be blown away if she knew how much was hidden in place sight!

Things that are irritating me:

1. Christmas cards. Don't people send them anymore? I love opening my mailbox and seeing a big pile of cards. Love it. But not this year. Very disappointing. Oooh...which reminds me. Tami, I went to the post office this morning to mail the other Webkinz that arrived yesterday...and found your Christmas card from us (the second one) still in my purse. It's on it's way!

2. The economy. Without launching into a debate, I'm just beyond stunned at the level of incompetence in both the private sector and the government. Scary times.

3. A little shit head at Jack's school has implicated him in an unseemly incident. Asked him to lie about something pretty serious and (thank God) Jack refused (and promptly told me). I thought it was appropriate to let Jack's teacher know what went down, and now it looks like Jack will need to give his version of events to the principal. He is in no way, shape or form in trouble...I just know that that kind of attention is very stressful for him and now I'm wishing I'd kept my mouth shut.

Things I'm floating on air about:

1. The results of my Dad's surgery. First of all, the surgery itself was not nearly as traumatic as previously predicted and he was home in less than half the time expected. His pain levels have decreased, and he has already resumed his regular life (putting himself back on the work schedule after the New Year). The results of the pathology reports were all encouraging (4 of the 5 were negative, the 5th showed some cancer cells, but they were unable to determine if they were live or dead). So really, we got the best possible outcome and have much to be grateful for!

2. I'm going to have a house full of Aunts in a couple of months! Hoping to see my Mom's two sisters in March/April. Very, very exciting!

3. My kids. They are so excited and so cute about Christmas. I can't wait! I hope Christmas is always this much fun.

That's it for today. Oh, a quick funny story. The kids have those advent calendars that have a little piece of chocolate under each day of the month. Libby came downstairs a couple of mornings ago and says,

"WHAT?! 24 is GONE! Wait, 18 is gone, too! MOOOOMMMMMY!"

Turns out Maggie snuck downstairs and ate everyone's chocolate. Every last day was in her belly. It was so naughty, and the other two were SO mad...but, damn...that's funny!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dear Gramma and Grampa

Suffice it to say we are thinking of you tonight, on the eve of Dad's second major surgery. You must know that you are in our hearts, in our prayers and in every thought. Dad, we will say a prayer for your speedy recovery and that this is the last time you ever need to see inside of a surgery suite again...ever. You have endured enough, and I feel very strongly that this will be it. Your cancer marathon will be done and the rest of your life will be waiting for you on the other side. Mom, we'll pray for your strength and perserverance to keep going, even went it seems too impossible.

The above is a quick word from your grandchildren, who miss you and will be sending their own brand of healing energy and love!

We love every sense and depth of the word.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Little Elf

A little preview for you. I've started gathering pictures for a retrospective of sitting on Santa's lap. I'm missing at least two years, but I know they're here somewhere. If I get the time this weekend, I'll scrounge around and scan them for Monday. In the meantime, here's Jack at about six months old.My God! I just wanna eat him!

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Libby got off the bus and announced that she wanted to shovel the driveway. We'd had about an inch of the heavy, slushy stuff and she wanted to help Daddy by having the driveway clear before he arrived home from work. Steve pulled into the driveway to Libby wielding a giant shovel, wearing her knee high pink boots and a Santa hat.

What a welcome sight!

Once back inside, Libby settled in for a little after school TV, only to be harrassed by her twin. Maggie flitted about, obstructing Libby's view often and relentlessly enough that she lept up from the couch, tackled her and gave a her a closed fist punch to the back. They were both sent to their rooms immediately...Maggie for taunting and Libby for the back-to-front knuckle sandwich. Libby stomped off, begrudgingly accepting her punishment. Maggie flailed about the family room floor until I started to count to three, threatening to double her room time. To which she slammed the TV remote onto the coffee table, realized she meant to be more dramatic, picked it back up and threw it on the floor. For good measure, she turned around and kicked my Christmas candle off the table across the room.

She didn't come out of her room until dinner.

And Jack just sat there, doing his spelling.

I'm leaving all my riches to him.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Linkedy Goodness

I have a long list of blogs I read regularly. Someday when I figure out how to do it, I will link them all in my sidebar, like real bloggers do, so that you can share in their literary goodness. But until then I'll just shamelessly steal ideas from them and occasionally link to something I think you shouldn't miss.

Like this.

**Ok, I have now typed "like this" 10 times and attempted to hyperlink or some such shit, but clearly I don't know what I'm doing. So, please, copy and paste the URL into your browser and read this blog entry. It is the single funniest piece of casual writing I've ever read (and I've revisited it several times in the last couple of years). I reread it this morning and laughed til I cried. Then I cried til my contacts leaked out of my eyes. Stick with it until the end. It's some funny shit (ha! ha! ha!). I promise.


**Edited to add that I will not let Blogger beat me. I finally figured it out. I linked! I have linkedy goodness! But, I was too lazy to clean up the rest of the post. So I left it.

Looks like I wasn't done writing! I got my Christmas presents yesterday! And I couldn't resist! I told Steve we'd wrap the packages up to put under the tree (hence giving him a major break in the gift buying catagory), but when I opened the boxes I knew I had to take everything out immediately and set it up. What is "it", you ask? Well, first let me remind you what my bedroom looked like just 9 short months ago. Ouch. It hurts my eyes to look at the hideousness. Except the comforter. I like the comforter. It's the sea foam green that makes me wanna hurl.But look at it now! Isn't it spectacular? Don't you love it? The walls were painted a couple of months ago in preparation for someday, maybe, just possibly splurging on the comforter set I'd been coveting from...drum roll, please...JCPenny's (sorry, Mom...couldn't resist). Mom casually mentioned last week that on one particular day she could get an additional DEEP discount (not the five finger kind), was there anything I needed? Yes, I needed to work my husband over to convince him that NOW was the time to act. I may, or may not, have had to do dirty things to make my point...
...but wasn't' it worth it?!

Next is a simple iron headboard and some big art for over the bed. I have some "work" to do.

Angels at Marketplace

Mondays are typically days I can plan on running errands and staying off the computer and phone (my phone whoring day off). So this morning I rushed out to Marketplace to spend my $10 JCPenny coupon because if I didn't I would have felt like I just wiped my ass with $10. I also had a pair of pants to return to Ann Taylor Loft, where the sales clerk managed to completely piss me off and make me break into a cold sweat (or a hot sweat...I refused to take my wool coat and scarf off because I didn't want to carry I was roasting). She refused to credit my mall gift certificate (which I fucking USED to buy the stupid cuffed jeans. Yes, cuffed jeans) and instead made me take a store credit. And I had a receipt! I stomped out of there like a child and proceeded on to Dicks where I lost my shit in line behind a woman returning a pair of baby poop colored Uggs. Really. How long DOES it take for you to find the credit card you used to purchase those attractive boots?

I hate shopping.

Anyway, I was making my way back to my end of the mall, the end where I parked my car in such a way as to make the quickest getaway possible (I know myself too well), and witnessed two random scenes that put a lump in my throat and made me want to go back and so I was sorry to the Ann Taylor lady. I was so moved that I grabbed my cell phone and called the home phone and left a message to remind myself to blog about it. I could barely get the words out without crying (I quickly deleted it when I got home so Steve didn't have to wonder if I'd finally lost my marbles).

The first was right when I walked out of Dick's and was just gaining speed with my long, purposeful, get-me-the-hell-out-of-here strides when I had to slow down for an older couple holding hands. They were two men, in their late 50's, I presume, and of different races. As I passed them, I glanced back and saw that one was profoundly mentally challenged. They were strolling through the mall, hand in hand, checking out the sights and watching other people. I suppose the "normal" guy was used to second glances. But he seemed oblivious to anyone and held the other mans hand so sweetly that it made me want to stop and hug them both. And buy them ice cream.

The second was only moments later. I was walking much slower by now...and hopefully didn't look quite so bitchy anymore. I wasn't exactly sure which way to go, so I stopped to look at one of those "You Are Here" maps (my quick getaway plan did not account for my poor sense of direction). Right behind the map was the North Pole and Santa was seated at his throne for pictures. Sitting on his knee was a woman who was 95 if she was a day. She had her picture taken, and, hunched over so low her head was near her cane, she was gingerly helped down by a woman in her 50's. The younger of the two quickly told Santa she'd be back, then turned her attention to the little old woman, and brightly told her "You looked beautiful". She slowly lead her back to the line, where three other old women stood waiting. They, too, were waiting to get their pictures taken with Santa.

Oh my God. I wanted to pick them up and put them all on Santa's lap, then take them for ice cream, too. I truly do hate the mall. I hate shopping. I hate the crowds. I hate sweating. But today I was reminded that you don't have to look too far to find the goodness in people. That there are people so willing to be at the service of others, who will endure the madness at the mall during Christmas to help someone far less fortunate enjoy the holidays.

Don't get me wrong. I like to think that I am kind and have a generous spirit. I frequently embarrass Steve by following older folks to their cars with their groceries. I've helped elderly or handicapped people into their cars and taken their carts back the coral. Helping other people does actually make me happy. I try to be a good person. And for some reason the grocery store doesn't bring out the worst in me quite like the mall.

And today I forgot that there are all kinds of people trying to get things done at the mall. People who challenges far exceed my need to get in and out. People who deserve my patience and respect. I was embarrassed with my short temper.

I will avoid the mall (and other places full of shopping crazed people), but if I find myself back in the same situation, I will remember those two angels at Marketplace today. And I will be patient and kind...and patient.

And you must, too.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that before I left I had to go back and eat crow at Ann Taylor. I had $37 of store credit, with no intentions of visiting the mall in the near future, so I wanted to be done with it. First of all, Ann Taylor's clothes are heinous, and secondly, they cost a small fortune. I scrounged up two t-shirty things and found out at the register that I still had $7 dollars to spend. Without thinking, I told the sales clerk that I'd quickly find something else to buy because "I will not be stepping foot back in this store".

I guess you can't go cold turkey on bitch.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A New Tradition

Last year my friend, Beth, and I arranged a craft night in lieu of exchanging gifts. She contributed these giant wooden Christmas trees that she'd scarfed up from the Michael's 90% off Christmas sale the year before, which the six kids painted and decorated. My contributions were six Haunted Gingerbread Houses that I snagged after Halloween at Aldi's ($2 each! How could I not?). I just bought a couple of pounds of Christmas candy and we were in business! It was a great evening and made Beth and I feel so much better about not spoiling the kids.

Trouble is (or was) that Maggie, Libby and Jack assumed that we had started a new Christmas tradition. A tradition of rushing to Aldi's after Halloween to grab the clearance gingerbread kits. A tradition of spending a small fortune on candy and a powdered sugar/super glue concoction. A tradition of 14 (no lie!) tubes of hot glue to hold the structure together and about 30 minutes of table and floor clean up time once we were done.

But it was so worth it! We had such a fun night. They were a joy to watch.They each focused on their own house and asked for help only when they needed it. And they tolerated my interventions when I couldn't keep my mouth shut or my hands to myself. They were EVER so proud to pose with their masterpieces when the last candy cane was slathered in place.So, yes. I guess we do have a new family tradition. Some day it will be fun to look back on the progression of their imagination, patience and willingness to NOT eat the candy!
God help me if Aldi's stops selling Haunted Houses!

PS. It was 15 degrees today. Libby dressed herself.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm cranky.

Being sick sucks. I got myself a raging case of strep throat on Monday, followed quickly by a wicked cold. Spent most of Tuesday in bed, felt slightly better yesterday, but got another kick in the pants today with relentless sneezing and nose dripping. I'm a hot mess.

But...I'm also a trooper and I ventured out this morning to get my hair highlighted. My hair dresser is pleasant and easy to talk to, and she tolerated my sneezing and snot fountain without comment. And since I'm not particularly picky, and hair is just hair, I don't ever tell her when I'm not 100% happy. Last time she over highlighted my hair...I looked like a beach blond, and over time my roots looked horrendous. This time it's not light enough. But...I like it, it will grow in nicely over the winter and it improved my mood significantly.

Worked for the rest of day the with moderate success, and called it quits at 4pm. Sweet Mother, where the fuck I am going with all this? I can't quite complete a thought. Mmmm, let's see. We rushed through a hastily prepared dinner so as to get the girls to Brownies on time. Tore out the door, pulled right up to the door at school, raced up the empty cafeteria. Fucking Brownies. Wrong week.

So I blew my diet and stopped to buy some Cherry Panda Paws Ice Cream. Ah. So nice.

And that's it. No, no it isn't. Steve can't find his wallet. Hasn't seen it since Tuesday. You can see why this might be a problem. His accounts haven't been touched, so we're not freaking yet, but will cancel his cards tomorrow if we don't hear back from the church gym where Jack had practice on Tuesday.

Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It speaks to Maggie

So I was putting laundry away (if you've read from the beginning, you know that putting laundry away sucks the very life out of me) and Libby's was first. I put her things away, leaving a pair of pajamas on her bed for her to put on. On my way to Maggie's room, where I planned to repeat the process, I yelled down the stairs to Libby to come up and get changed.

This is the conversation that followed.

Me: "Libby, come up to your room and put your pajamas on."

Libby: "What about Maggie? Why doesn't she have to put her pajamas on yet?"

Me: "Uh. Ok. Maggie come upstairs and put your pajamas on."

Maggie: "WHAT?"

Maggie: "What do you need, Mommy?"

Me: "I need you to come upstairs and put your pajamas on."


And that, my friends, is Maggie in a nutshell.