Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

We are having a lovely day, and I hope you all are, too! The kids have actually been getting along, there have been no fights, all phone calls have been made, and we have decided that we're getting the usual Chinese take-out for dinner. Yea and verily, it is Christmas, let there be 24-hrs straight of A Christmas Story and way too much cocoa. Ahhh.

Yesterday was one surprise after another. First thing, as I was getting ready to do the usual bi-weekly grocery run before making a dish to take to my SIL Kathy's house, the phone rang, and it was my other SIL, Jen, saying that Kathy et al had had a rough night with the babies, and they decided that they weren't going to host Christmas at their house as planned. Also, she informed me that Kathy has basically said that no one is even really welcome at their home because the doctor has told her not to let the babies have visitors due to it being cold season. So, could the family come here instead in, oh, say, three hours?


Of course, we said yes, I mean, what was I going to say?! The house wasn't in too bad of a shape, because I had cleaned it late last week in hopes I wouldn't have to do a lot over Christmas, and I was on my way to the store for food, anyway, so.... it's probably best that I didn't have a lot of advance notice, since I didn't have any time to stress out about it! I literally had just gotten the groceries put away and hopped into the shower when people started arriving. Then, poor Jen became increasingly ill while she was here with what turned out to be food poisoning from some leftover chicken nuggets from Wendy's (but which we thought was flu at the time, so you can imagine). So, she spent most of their visit in the bathroom. Her husband was almost out flat with back problems. Everyone was mildly upset at not being allowed to see the babies at all, and being thrown out of whack, but we squeezed in here and still had a mostly pleasant time. One of the best moments was when I went down into our finished basement with my niece, Katie, who is 2, and played with the color-changing, star-projecting ladybug nightlight we got her. She was *entranced*, and it was so great!!! Kids that age are so fun to buy for.

(oh, the movie just got to the point where he drops the f-bomb!!! HAHAHA!!!!)

Jen and family left around 4 to head over to visit some of her DH's family (thankfully she had gotten most of the food problems out of her system by that point), and DH's parents stayed until it was time to go to the children's service at the church. They came with us, but left partway through because all the poinsettias were too much for his dad, who had some kind of asthmatic reaction to them. They did get to see most of what the kids were doing, though, and he was fine once they left.

My baby totally rocked the house on the organ with Little Drummer Boy!!! The choral director opened all the pipes for her, and she blew everybody away. That's my baby!! She also played the bells in the bell choir, and sang with the kids' choir. The Boy, though, is lucky we even brought them home. When the Cherub choir left their pew, where they had all sat together, and lined up to sing, what did he do? He picked his lip. The whole time. I know, I should be glad it's wasn't his nose. He looked like an Idiot. Then, when they were done, did he come back to sit with us, like he was supposed to? Like all the other children did? NO. He blew right past our pew, where we were several people in (but he knew where we were), and went to sit with his friend, his mother and grandfather, all of whom we know. We were trapped, and couldn't go to get him, because the service had continued, and we couldn't go up there without walking around the whole place and making a scene of it. That boy refused to come and sit with us for about fifteen minutes!!!! Sigh.

(It was...soap poisoning!!!)

The rest of the evening went very smoothly, though, and we had a really wonderful day all in all. All of our friends from church were there, and everyone was hugging and laughing and happy. After we came home, we all got into our jammies, and snuggled on our big bed to read The Grinch and 'Twas The Night Before Christmas before the kids got into bed. Then, of course, DH and I spent about an hour getting everything out, and I went back to work trying to make some sense of my poor, poor kitchen. We only have an 18in dishwasher, so it takes a LONG time to do all those dishes. I actually just finished them all this morning.

I'm trying not to be negative about Kathy and her abrupt decision to cancel Christmas. I mean, isn't that something she should have thought of before? The whole reason we were going there in the first place on Christmas Eve, rather than doing it at DH's mother's house like always on the weekend before when it's good for everyone, is because that was what *she* wanted!!! Everyone who came to our place actually stopped there first to drop off gifts, and they weren't allowed to even SEE the babies, not even from a distance, even though Jen hasn't seen them at all yet. I can see not wanting them to go to public places, or be around people who are ill, but... we visited them in the hospital, for heaven's sake, weeks ago, and just made sure we scrubbed up well beforehand. I guess what gets me, to be honest, is that it doesn't bother her to cancel things. She's not sorry she didn't get to see everyone. We didn't do anything until the afternoon, and it would have been easy for her, or her husband, or our niece (who she said slept all the way through the night) to come up and see everyone for a little while, even without the babies. When I talked to her this morning, briefly, she said that DH can drop off their gifts on his way home from work one day next week. I mean, I could make a trip to drop them off myself, but since I will always have the kids with me, and I can't drive all that way and make them stay in the car, and then turn around and come back home, that's not going to happen. Besides, I would only be welcome to come inside myself if the babies were asleep and away, apparently, so who knows when a good time for me to stop by would be. So, I hope she likes those carseat covers I made, and that the babies get to use them, and... yeah. I'm trying very hard not to feel like I shouldn't have bothered. I made them for the babies, not her, and whether or not I get to actually see her open them, or even see the babies use them, should not make a difference to me. I should not need the satisfaction of seeing them do it.

Of course, the good thing about all of this is that my IL's did come up to see the kids, and the weather was good, and it was a family occasion that we all pulled together to enjoy. Having everyone here was fun, and it was easier for us to not have to travel, since we had things to do in the evening, and it was closer for Jen to get to her SIL's house. Our house is clean and comfortable, which Kathy's is not, and there are lots of things for kids to do here, whereas at Kathy's there isn't really anything for them to do.

Well, Josie is upstairs playing her new MP3, Patrick is playing with a neighbor boy with his new electric car set, and I have a sneaking suspicion that DH is asleep. Hopefully, they've all forgotten that I exist for the moment while I hide here on the couch and watch my movie for the millionth time, until it's time to feed the raging hordes again. :)

I hope you're all as happy as we are today, and I can't wait to read about all the wonderful experiences you have had. Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sewing Machine Abuse - Now With Pictures!

For the past two days, I have been going nuts trying to finish my new nieces'/SIL's Christmas presents. My sewing machine apparently doesn't like to sew anything thick, because I had to stop pretty frequently to realign the bobbin with the needle (or, I broke a needle, which happened FIVE TIMES). Also, note to self, regardless of how silky and soft furry fabric is, it makes a MESS and jams up said sewing machine, causing many Words to be uttered and Threats to be made to said machine. Ahem. But, look what I made!!!

When she opens the box, she will see these:

They're carseat buntings!!!! The insides look like this:

and the fronts are this:

Put them together, and you get these (mildly cooperative elf not included)!
Ta daaaaa!!!!

However, the elf DID get a parting gift for helping model these babies:

This is what I made with that little scottie-dog fabric I bought a couple of months ago!!!! You can't tell from the (overexposed) picture, but the fabric is that kind that shimmers between deep red and dark purple/black. I can't take credit for the little jacket - that came from Target - but since the dress is sleeveless, I thought it would be perfect. She wore it last weekend when she played the prelude at her piano teacher's church. I promised her that the next time I make her a dress, which should be next month (after I make Patrick a Batman cape complete with masked-hood for his birthday, sshhhhh!), that she can (gulp) help. If you see a sewing machine thumbing it down the road, little knapsack on it's back, you'll know that mine finally ran away from home.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yesterday, I volunteered at the kids' school all day, spending the morning in Patrick's class and the afternoon in Josie's. There were a couple of other parents there as well, and one of them I went to lunch with while we were passing the hour and a half between when the kindergarten kids went to lunch and the fourth graders got back from recess (staggered times). I learned something at that lunch that is just killing me.

I had thought that a boy I really like in Josie's class, S, had a crush on her because he always wants to come with me to read, and asks a lot of questions about her and what we do at home. I wish this were the case. In actuality, it's more me he wants to be with.

It turns out that his mother died a couple of years ago from cancer, and as a result his father and two older brothers have become alcoholics who show up to even kids' sporting events drunk, including a baseball game last year that S and the son of the mom who was telling me the story were in together, where the father and brothers were ejected from the game due to drunk and disorderly conduct. The poor boy, it's no wonder he acts out sometimes at school and always wants to hang out with me while I'm there. He wants mother-types to pay attention to him. He lives up the street from us, a couple of blocks down, and occasionally when we're talking he says that he's going to come over to our house. In the past, I've always joked about what he thinks he's going to do here, and that he'd be bored. The next time, though, I'm going to tell him that he can come over whenever he wants. If that boy wants attention from a mom, he can definitely get it at our house. After that story, I don't care if he moves in with us. Even if he and Josie didn't have a lot to do together, Patrick would be thrilled to have him over to play video games with.

It just breaks my heart. That poor family.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Animals and Good Fortune

Yesterday, we caught una rodencia (I have no idea if that's even a real word, but it sounds better than rodent, don't you think??) in our have-a-heart trap under the kitchen sink. I don't know what made me look at it, really, since it had been empty for days and we had kind of thought that the cat had already caught whatever left us all the little gifts around the tupperware, but all of a sudden I just had a Feeling, and sure enough, there was a tiny little grey mousie looking up the tube at me when I opened the thing up to look. It had cute little pink paws and nose, and black eyes. We did the wildlife release program on the way to school, way at the back of the second yard (we actually have two back yards, one next to the house and the other beyond the garage, so we have a kind of garage sandwich), and it bounded away from us and the house. I should probably re-set the trap, since where there's one there can be more, but I'm kinda lazy, so maybe I'll wait and see what happens. The funniest part was, the cat had been in the cabinet, just down at the other end, and when I pulled the trap out, she poked her head out the far end, as if to say, 'HEY!!!! I WAS SAVING THAT!!!!' She looked *pissed*. I told her that she had had a week, and too bad for her.

On the way home from school, poor Baci got bit by another dog. A BIG one. A guy catty-corner from us has been rehabbing the house, which I'm not sure but I think he's trying to flip, and was outside with his bull mastiff. It's a beautiful dog, about 120lbs, I'm guessing, and brindle. It was wagging its stubby tail, sort of, and woofing, so I asked the guy if it was friendly, since Baci was wagging his fool tail about OFF at it. He said yes, so we went over. MISTAKE. Thank God I was in front, and that I had left old Tyler dog at home, because it could have been much, much worse had this happend to him, or heaven forbid, one of the kids. The two dogs sniffed each other's faces for a minute, and Baci started licking the Mastiff, when all of a sudden I heard this huge growl and he lunged at Baci, who started yelping and backed away. The guy had thankfully kept a hang on the leash, so was able to hold him as Baci got away, and the kids were still behind me. I said, 'well, I guess not,' and we left. I mean, it happens, and we were on it's turf and all, but I was mildly surprised that the guy didn't seem surprised *at all*. Now, why say it's friendly if you're not sure? He didn't apologize, nothing. We walked home, and poor Baci wedged himself up against the kitchen cabinets as I looked him over. Amazingly, the dog must have missed, or Baci must have pulled back just in time, because all he has is a big scrape on his right shoulder, and a place where a patch of his fur was ripped off. Obviously, we will not be going over there again, and the kids are under strict orders not to go to pet it, no matter how friendly the guy says that dog is. Poor Baci walked around with his tail between his legs for awhile, but he's really none the worse for wear. Phew.

I know a lot of my posts lately have been of the 'poor me' variety, and it's pretty inexcusable. On the whole, I am actually a very happy person. Maybe it's due in part to my being able to exorcise my demons on here. Anyway, I have to say that really, the past few months have been probably the happiest of my adult life. This town that we moved to two years ago has been a huge blessing for us. I always thought that I wanted to live in a city, but I didn't realize that the loneliness of city life was more city-specific than just the way that adults lived. Since we have moved here, we have met the most wonderful people, and made such good friends, that I would be a idiot to be anything other than grateful at the end of every day. When we lived nearer to DC, the entire area was in such transition due to the nature of the work there and the military presence that it was near-impossible to make good friends, because either people were at work all the time or they were going to be moving again in a year, so you'd just get to know someone and they'd leave. There was also a lot of shallowness and rudeness that I had accepted as the way that life was. Now that we're away from all that, yes, I miss the retail and restaurants and proximity to cultural things, but our quality of life is so much better. I actually have friends here, people who would drop what they were doing to help us out, and have done so on several occasions. People pay attention to each other, and respect each other, and aren't constantly trying to out-cool each other. It's so relaxing, and real, and homey. So, to Marty and Karen, and Shannon and Bill, and Chris and Rob, and everyone, I am so thrilled that we've met you and your kids, and know how lucky I am to count you as friends.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Re-Gifting the Inlaws - Is It Too Late?

There are trade-in plans for cell phones, rental cars, and lots of other things. I think it's about time that someone invented one for in-laws. I am royally, royally pissed off at mine. In fact, I have been furious since last week, and it's taken me this long to cool down enough to even talk about it.

About two months ago, they (ie my MIL) emailed me looking for dates for events that the kids were having this season so they could come to them. When I told her that there were three - the school musical, the church Christmas pageant, and the Christmas eve family service - in her words, they wanted to do them all. About two weeks later, she backed out of the church pageant because my SIL's husband's sister was having a surprise 30th birthday party. BUT, she was still coming up on Thursday for the school thing, and have dinner with us beforehand.

Two days before the performance, I emailed them to make sure they were still coming, saying I knew they had been driving up this way a lot for the new twins, and were they still planning on coming here still. Nothing. I knew then, but I waited. The morning of, I got an email saying that it was going to be really rainy, so they weren't going to come. They ditched Josie on the day of her school performance because of RAIN. They never even bothered to call or connect with her at all. I had thought (hoped) that Josie wouldn't remember, because I hadn't said anything, but she did, and for the first time, she realized that she had been ditched, and cried because she had really, really wanted them to come. It was the first thing she asked when she woke up, if they were still coming for dinner and to hear her poem read that night, since hers was one of seven selected from the entire third and fourth grade to be read.

My baby cried. Strike one.

Then, they had another opportunity to come here to support her a few days later, at our church pageant, where she had a solo, but I don't think it occured to them to ditch my SIL's husband's sister for their grandchild. No. Granted, they had said they were going to go, but I'm SURE no one would have cared had they not gone, and everyone would have understood. I doubt Chrystal would have cried had her brother's inlaws not shown up. But, NO.

Strike two.

I'm telling you, if they don't come here on Christmas eve, and either of the kids cries over it, I will be PISSED. What's *supposed* to happen is that we're having Xmas eve brunch at Kathy's house, with the new twins, and then afterwards they will come the rest of the way to our place for the rest of the afternoon/evening, and to the service to hear Josie play in the prelude and both kids perform in their choirs and the kids' bell choir. I know they're getting older, and rain is unpleasant, but come on. They could have at least come to the church pageant; it was a beautiful day, and it was a great performance. I had even emailed them a response that Josie had cried when she heard they weren't coming, but that she understood. I never even got a response.

DH and I have talked about this, and we know what's happened - the new twins were born. It was like this before Ryan passed away, too. He and his sister were It for them, and unfortunately it took Ryan's death to make them wake up and spend more time with the other children. Now, though, there are more twins, and they're new, and will fill some of the void left by Ryan, so... yeah. Except, this time, my kids are getting old enough to know they're being ditched. My other SIL, Jen, and I have talked about the noticeable difference in how our combined children are treated compared to the older two, so it's not just my kids.

They're not bad people, and they're not being hurtful on purpose. They just don't think. Somehow, that doesn't really make it better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Am A Genius

OK, probably not so much, but I did have a STROKE of genius this morning, so I think that counts. And I'm sure you're probably all already doing this, and I'm a ding dong, but here it is anyway.

I put a packet of cocoa in my mug before I brewed my coffee this morning (we have one of those pod coffeemakers). It brewed coffee right into my cocoa!!!! Whoopeee!

I know this probably seems like an incredbily idiotic thing to get excited about, but it's one of those mornings where the world should all go back to bed. It's raining/sleeting/snowing outside, not hard enough to really cause problems yet, but definitely enough to be gross. Snow, I like. Winter rain is just shitastic. Plus, I woke up fifteen minutes late this morning, so thank heavens the schools here offer free breakfast to the kids, because they didn't have time to eat here this morning. I am still in my pjs, because I didn't have time to get dressed, and really, once you've driven the kids to school in your pjs, why bother getting dressed once you get home? So, I am here in my pjs, reading all your blogs, drinking my fabulous creation, under a blanket, with Baci snoring happily on my legs. I know it's LAZY, and I do have the sense to feel moderately guilty about it. But, I've been crazy-busy lately, and damnit, I'm gonna drink my coffee!

AND, even better, I'm listening to my fabulous new cds that came in the mail yesterday from Kelsey at Midwest Mom!!! She sent me TWO!!! I'm listening to the one for grown-ups at the moment, and I have it on repeat, because I LOVE IT. The second one has all-kid music on it, which I also love!!!! Thanks, girlfriend!!!!

AND, the winner of my embarrassing holiday story is... CK!!!! So, send me your address, chickie, and I'll send you a present!!!!!! I was planning on giving out two, but since she's the only one who actually posted an embarrassing holiday story, I'm just going to give her an extra-big one instead!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Funniest Thing I Have Ever Read

I am totally stealing this from my friend, B, who was shopping with her little man today. He is three. Caution: do not eat or drink while reading this. You will snarf.

Shopping with E:

I throw a small box of OB in the cart. E grabs it and here's what follows:

E: What dis?
B: OB. See those letters? OB.
E: Oooooh, OB. I yike dis box mommy.
B: I'm glad Eamon.
E: Dis for your jina mommy?
B: Yes, but we don't talk about it with other people around.
E: Why, mommy. Why dis for your jina?
B: Shhh, we don't talk about it with other people around. (We're now in the busy dairy section)
E: (increasingly loud) Why dis for your jina mommy!
B: (Trying to ignore him) Shhhh, Eamon.
E: (pissed off shouting) MOMMY, WHY DIS FOR YOUR VAGINA! (why does he say the full word at the top of his lungs?)
Woman next to us cracks up.
Man passing us looks away uncomfortably.
I take the box and put it in the back of the cart, out of his reach, and give him a box of bunny crackers.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Musical Extravaganza!

This weekend has been a whirlwind of Musical Stuffs!

Saturday night was (finally) the kids' Christmas pageant. It was called It's A Wonder-Full Life, and it was about a boy who wished he could get rid of all the religious stuff and get straight to the presents because he was tired of having to work so hard in his church Christmas play every year. Josie was in it, and played a child whose part in the play-in-a-play was Mary, so my little Pea was dressed up as the Virgin Mary! It was so cute!!!! Also, she had a solo, and she sounded so beautiful!!!! And, I am NOT AT ALL biased. At ALL. Nope. It was a great, funny play, with a lot of laughter and costumes and choreography.

This morning, the adult choir, which I am in, did a Christmas Cantata that took the place of the regular sermon - basically, we sang a sermon comprised of various pieces about the shepherds, since it's the third week of Advent this Sunday, and the third candle is for the shepherds. We had been rehearsing and rehearsing and REHEARSING for the past few weeks, including two hours on the past few Saturday mornings in addition to our regular times. Our music director is also the choir teacher at a local magnet school for the arts, so his chamber choir also came to sing with us, AND we had an orchestra play with us, too!!! It was great. I love being able to be a part of things like this. Choir is really both a source and an outlet for joy to me, and this is one of the best times of year to be there. The pieces we did today were really, really difficult, and they pushed my range WAY higher, which is also good (now that it's done). Tomorrow night a group of us are going caroling at a local elder-care home, which I am both looking forward to because I like caroling and I like to make people happy, but am also dreading a tiny bit because, well, it is what it is. I remember going to those places as a high schooler and having a lot of the people not even really know we were there, which made it a really rough experience. I know we'll have fun, though, and the people will appreciate it.

Also this morning, Josie played the prelude at her piano teacher's church (her teacher is the music director there, across town from where we go), on the ORGAN!!!! Apparently, as long as you aren't fiddling with the buttons, it's a lot like playing the piano, except you play an octave higher or something. So, my baby played the huge pipe organ at a 200+ year old church today. I wasn't there, because I was doing the cantata, but DH took her, and she said she had a great time and really liked it. Her piano teacher told DH afterward that he thinks she should take organ lessons as well, and could probably get a job playing organ for a church as a teenager on Sunday mornings, and make a good deal of money. He really is a lovely man, is constantly telling us how gifted she is and what a pleasure she is to teach, and typically extends her lesson well over the allotted time at no charge, sometimes spending a full hour with her just because he wants to. Josie, in turn, really loved the idea of taking organ lessons, and of course loved the idea of being able to do it for a living someday, so now I'm debating as to whether to let her do that or not. I don't think her regular teacher teaches organ, just piano, so it would mean another lesson during the week, and of course more money. On the one hand, he really thinks that she's gifted, and I've had several other people tell me that as well, and I don't want to hold her back, but on the other I don't want her to be overscheduled, either. Then, too, there's Patrick to consider: Josie has a lot going on, and he really doesn't have anything, other than the kids' choir at church. He could probably use a physical outlet during the winter, but that would mean even *more* money out of our pockets. Maybe I could get him into something at the Y again, that would be cheap. Ugh, and I don't want to live in my car, either. Down by the river. (five points if you get that reference!)

Any thoughts? Should I let her take organ? Is it too much? Am I holding her back if I don't? Ugh. She already has Battle of the Books once a week from January through March, kids' choir once a week, and piano once a week. Then, in the spring, there will be softball that will take the place of BotB. Maybe if I could talk her piano teacher into combining her lesson with organ, that would just make what she already has a little longer rather than adding another day. Sigh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Egad! Rodencia!

Oh, holy hell, I just finished decorating seven dozen cookies, and went to empty the dishwasher so I could load it full of baking stuff, and what should I find in my cabinet but mouse poop all over the giant cabinet space under the counter, from under the sink all the way to the wall, where we keep the pet stuff, bowls, plasticware for the kids, and all the tupperware. For heaven's sake, we have a CAT! Isn't this HER job?!

So, tonight, the cabinet is cleaned and empty but for some plastic bottles of dog vitamins, and the door will remain open so the cat can get in there and crawl around. She's in there now, actually, so hopefully there will be a gift for me in the morning. Otherwise, it's off to Lowes for some traps. Sigh.

I shouldn't be surprised. We had a few mice at our old place, too. Still, what do I have to do, hermetically seal the place in a giant ziploc baggie?!

Please Pass The Cheese

I am pooped, emotionally and physically.

This week has been crazy. Josie had piano, rehearsal for the Christmas pageant at church, the school music performance (for gr 3 and 4), family movie night at the school tonight, and the actual pageant tomorrow night. DH had band rehearsal. I had choir rehearsal, and an extra rehearsal tomorrow morning because we're doing a musical Christmas contata tomorrow in place of the sermon. Also, I have to bring in a couple dozen cookies for the cookie sale fundraiser tomorrow morning, and I am in charge of refreshments tomorrow night at the pageant.

On top of this, I have a few friends who have just drained me emotionally. My one friend with her surgery that I wrote about is doing better physically, but isn't taking care of herself, isn't taking it easy like she's supposed to, and is still in a poison environment with her mother. She calls me regularly to unload. Another friend is having a life crisis with her marriage, sexual preference, and a love triangle; occasionally I agree/offer to help her contact the third person because she's in such a misery that I can't stand to see her without trying to do something, *anything*, to help. Then I end up feeling like shit afterwards, because I'm not sure it's good for her, and it makes me feel amoral. I want to be a good friend, but I have problems setting boundaries, I think. I tend to give people my shirt and only later realize that, oh, wait, I kind of needed that! Does anyone else do that, do things you're not perfectly comfortable with for friends?

Also, the situation in Josie's class is kind of stagnant at the moment. There is a full-time second teacher in the room now, which is good, but unfortunately I think she's taking cues from Mrs. Not only does she *also* not speak to me when I get there every other day, but when I introduced myself as Josie's mother and explained what I did with the kids, and I held out my hand to shake. She looked at my hand, and then held out hers in that kiss-my-ring way that some old ladies have - except she's my age, and she's a new teacher. I'm not kidding, she barely touched me. Maybe she thought I had cooties. Anyway, the classroom seems mildly better, and I'm interested to see what's going to happen. I heard through the school grapevine that sometimes this means that Teacher #1 is going to get the boot in favor of Teacher #2. Supposedly this Mrs.2 is going to be there through Christmas as an aide.

Then, last night, when we went to Josie's school performance (which was sweet, and Josie's poem was one of 7 chosen out of the entire 3rd and 4th grades to be presented in addition to the music - that's my baby!!!!), it was POURING rain, I mean the kind of rain that makes you want to build an ark, except that it was also FREEZING. The paper she brought home from school said that she had to be there by 6:45 or her speaking part would be given to someone else, and the music teacher said that they should be there by 6:35 to be safe, so we left here at 6:30. We slogged our way to the school only to find about 150 people standing outside, getting soaked, because the doors were still locked!!! The principal was in there, she just wasn't opening the doors! Everyone was PISSED, to say the least. Once we finally got in, I ended up sitting in front of the treasurer of the PTA, who had apparently told her son's teacher that she wanted to talk to the principal. When the P came over, she said that she hadn't opened the doors because some of the teachers hadn't come yet (Josie's never came, of course), and there was no one there to supervise the children. ?!?!?! HELLO ?!?!?!?! She didn't apologize, didn't acknowledge that maybe she messed up, nothing, even when faced with many wet and cold children. WTF?!

Anyway, so DH has taken the kids and a friend to movie night at the school, and I am going to open a bottle of whine wine and decorate about 5 dozen cookies, and maybe finish the Christmas cards if I have the oomph left. If anyone has some cheese, I've got the crackers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grocery Roundup, Dec 9, and Awesome Music Link

(I know, two posts one right after the other... I had actually written the PIF one last night, but was having problems getting it to post. Still, Dork.)

This was a rough trip. We were almost entirely out of snacks AND we needed toiletries, OUCH. Plus, I bought some things I don't usually get, like juice (I'm trying the V8 banana drink in hopes that it will not taste like a carrot's ass) and ice cream. Plus, DH told me that we were out of frozen veggies, when in actuality we had FIVE BIG BAGS of them behind the ice cream. So, with that in mind, we're probably set until the new year on many things because I bought doubles of other things as well that were on sale.

Items purchased: 164
Coupons Used: 40
Coupon Savings: $30.09
Bonus savings: $9.05
Club Card Savings: $74.45
Total Spent: $378.53
Total Saved: $113.59
Percent Saved: 23%

I am disappointed in this, to be honest. For one thing, that's a lot lower percentage than I usually save. For another, I got Reba Redneck at the register, and she was NOT good with coupons. For instance, when she encountered ones that didn't scan through easily, she set them aside and then, before I knew what she was doing, added them up in her head in a wad and put them in as a big store coupon. This kept them from being doubled, AND I know that she added them wrong, which I pointed out to her, so she put in another $.40 off after that, but still, I'm pretty sure it was still wrong, and it cost me money. :( OK, so it was probably only a dollar or two, but still. It's the principle of the thing. Hmph.

Anyway, here's something else: this is the coolest Christmas song I've heard in YEARS, from Straight No Chaser. Listen to the WHOLE THING, because it's not what you expect it to be.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Prizes and Awards, Oh, My!

Well, I can say that I feel nothing if not loved and lucky over the last week! I got two awards, and won TWO PIFS!!! How can this be?!?! So, I have a lot of gifty karma to catch up on!!!

First, I would like to thank CK and Sher for giving me the kick-ass awards below:

Awesome, right??? So, the rules are that I have to...

1. Say one nice thing to a man in your life.
DH is the nicest, most patient person I know. He's a wonderful parent, probably better than me at times, and is most definitely the only person who could put up with me on a regular basis.

2. List at least six ways that you measure success in your life (or for your blog).
I feel successful when/because
- my kids are secure in their lives and in the knowledge that they are loved
- I accomplish things that I set out to do
- I make other people's lives easier by helping / volunteering
- people actually seem interested what I have to say! :)
- my relationships with my friends and extended family are kept up
- I overcome fear to try new things (like I'm going caroling as part of a quartet next week, and if I don't faint/throw up, I will have succeeded!)

3. Assign this award to six other blogs and leave them a comment telling the blogger that you’ve assigned them this award.

1. Kelsey at Midwest Mom

2. Jean at Stimeyland

3. Erin at MO Mommy

4. Kristi at Autobiography of a Material Girl

5. Cherish at A Girl and Her Blog

6. Rebecca at Life With Boys

Unbelievably, I also won Cherish's and Kelsey's PIF contests (!!!), so I need to run one of my own. Hmmmm..... we'll need two winners.... OK! What is your most embarrassing holiday moment? Winner number one will be for The Most Scarring For Life, and winner number two will be for Snarfed-My-Coffee-Funny. (If you all are too hilariously scarred as a bunch, I will resort to random selection.) Now, come on, SPILL!!! I know you won't disappoint me! The contest will end at 11:59EST on Saturday the 13th.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Threw Up, v.2008

Whew!!! The inside of the house is officially entirely decked out. The problem is, as usual it is now almost impossible to keep the house neat AT ALL. On normal weekends, the house gets messed up, but during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hoo boy, get out your shovels because you're gonna have to make a path! Between decorations, shopping bags, craft stuff, things that the kids bring home from various places, and MAIL (holy God, the catalogues!!! Do I *really* need the Hearthsong catelogue to come every. freakin'. day?! I think not.), the house goes completely to pot over the holiday weekends. This is partly because I refuse to kill myself trying to keep up, and partly because I refuse to clean on weekends (unless someone is coming over, and that someone is someone who doesn't usually come over so I feel like I have to clean up for them, which hardly ever happens). At this time of year, I'm so busy with school and church activities that I barely have time to put on clean clothes, never mind clear off space so we can eat at the table like normal people. No, no - we will be eating in the living room for the next several weeks, I believe.

Anyway, since so many other people have posted such lovely photos of what Christmas means at their homes, I figured I'd post what Christmas is at our house. I tried to take photos that didn't show the mess. You're welcome.

So, this is the tree, unlit and lit:

See, I told you that you can see these LED lights from space, particularly the blue ones! There are all colors on there, but the blue ones are pretty bright.

This is my favorite nativity scene:
I really like cute nativities, and I have sort of a collection of them now. This is the best one, though. I love the expressions on the faces, and the little animals.

This is one of my best Christmas purchases EVER. It's an LED flickering candle that turns itself on and off!!! It goes on every night at 6, turns off six hours later, and then turns itself back on the next night!!!!! How fabulous is THAT?!?! I love how houses look with candles in the windows, but the cheaper ones ran out of batteries all the time, were tippy, and I had to remember to turn them all on and off every morning and night. Right. These will last all season, aren't tippy at all, and come with a big suction cup to help them stay put! The only problem is, the suction cup isn't long enough to reach over the sill to the glass, so the ones that are directly on the sill can't use the cup. They're currently $6 at Michael's. I know, steep, but I figure I was replacing the crappy ones all the time due to breaks and paying for all those batteries, so it works out the same in the end.

And this is my favorite decoration:

Isn't it beautiful? It's glass, and I've actually managed to keep it in one piece for about eight years now. It's about the size of my hand, and weighs about what a paperweight would. I just loce the way the snow blends into the branches, and how the ribbon on the packages looks like the most perfect frosting. Just perfect.

And now for something totally different. I present to you, Captain Underpants Vader:

If there's a category of merit badge that specifies Being Prepared for a Jedi Situation, he would win, hands-down.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fothermucking Fudpuckers! and associated angst


Surprise! The plumbing work we had done in October is NOT covered by AHS, there will be NO refund, and we have been running around the mulberry bush for two months to find it out!! Hooray and merry Christmas!!!!!

Yes, even though *one* person said that it was definitely covered, two more said that it was 'most likely' covered, there was in fact no chance at all that it actually was, because the pipe in question was inside the foundation of the house. Apparently, it's like renter's insurance - anything on or inside the place is covered, but anything outside or under is not. Sigh. You know, I probably wouldn't be this mad if 1) people had returned our phone calls and not forced us to constantly call them, 2) there was actually an account manager assigned to certain accounts, rather than just having anyone talk about any account, so there was continuity in response and so that we wouldn't have to go through the entire story every. freakin'. time. we called, 3) if the plumber had actually done what he was supposed to do in the first place, which was call AHS *before* the work was done once they realized that the job didn't entail what they had originally thought, 4) if the plumber himself had ever, even once, called AHS to talk to them (the only reason we got a decision today was because DH finally was transferred to an adjuster, to whom he faxed photos of the work that I had taken), because the only people who called AHS from the plumber's office were secretaries who had never seen the job and who told them random information, like the work was done in the yard (?!?!) .

(Pant, pant, pant. Ranting takes a lot out of a person, particularly when that person's keyboard has a heavy dog ball dropped on it every thirty seconds so half the line has to be retyped. Person should sit at a table in the future.)

So, we are out $3600. Ho, ho, ho. Please send vodka. I apparently can't afford my own anymore, but I desperately need A LOT of it!

In other news, I also got a bill today from the quack doctor who misdiagnosed my gall bladder issue as reflux for a year. His office actually had the gall (haha! I'm so clever!) to bill DH and I for missed appointments (which I had most certainly CANCELLED, thank you, as soon as I got out of the HOSPITAL, HELLLO), to the tune of $50! Um, no. I had ignored the bill for DH's 'missed visit', but yesterday another one came, and today one for me came. Apparently, whoever I called to cancel our membership (or whatever it's called) in his practice didn't cancel our six-month pill-pushing well visits that had been scheduled. I seethed for awhile, and then decided that it was high time for me to exorcise my demons on this issue. SO, I got out paper and pen, and wrote a long letter saying that I knew I had cancelled our appointments on July 10th, because that was the day after I was released from the hospital after being admitted with near-pancreatic failure due to his incompetance, and that I had withdrawn from their practice because not only did he misdiagnose me for a year, but when he finally showed up at the hospital, he admitted to me that he didn't have my chart, had no idea who I was, and didn't know why I was there! But then, I told them, I wasn't surprised, since he had tried to tell DH that he wasn't diabetic when he has been for TEN YEARS, and had never once been prepared for an office visit with my name and condition. Since I was on a roll, I told them that it would be a cold day in hell when I paid these two bills, and that while I had been advised by the doctor on-call that day to contact the state medical board, I had not, although I probably should have. SO THERE. I have never written a letter like that, but then again, I have been fortunate enough to never have been half-killed by a doctor before, either. I wonder if they'll have the nerve to respond? Because if they do, I will TOTALLY go to the state medical board. Writing it made me feel like the Grinch whose balls grew two sizes today, so hell, bring it on! I've got cohones now!

(for those of you who don't know, fudpucker is the mixed-up way I now have to say Pudfucker, which is a common New England swear, so I can still use it in front of the kids. It's the best swear word, EVER. Try it - it's both funny AND expressive! as in, 'you stupid pudfucker!' -or- 'oh, pudfucker!' -or, if you should drop a waterbarrel, ahem, on your toe, yelling 'PUDFUCKING BARREL!!!!' is definitely appropriate. See, it works in every situation!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Vet Appointment, and A Surprise

The other day I took the dogs to their annual vet appointment for shots, etc. Baci, being a puppy (albeit an 86lb one), was of course fine, but... Tyler, at 11.5, is not so fine. As labs are prone to do, he has developed a lot of large, soft lumps in various places on his body, which don't seem to be bothering him too much, and aren't of great concern. However, this appointment is the first time he has actually lost a significant amount of weight. He is at his lowest weight ever, that I can remember, at 63lbs. She feels that his lumps have begun to grow inside, where they are a lot less likely to be benign. When I made the comment that DH and I were thinking that he probably has about one good year left, she hesitated and said, 'yyyeeahhhhh...' I guess that about sums it up. Yeah.

On the up side, he is now allowed to eat whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, until. I'm sure he will appreciate the bounty of table scraps he is about to receive.

In addition to this worrying condition, poor Tyler Bear's arthritis has been acting up horribly, to the point where he groans in his sleep whenever he shifts at night. We give him special doggie asprin, which keeps him pretty limbre during the day, but I guess like any old person (or, on some days, me) when he sits still for too long, it's not good. So, when I was at Petsmart the other day, I looked for a new doggie bed. We have two already, one of which is orthopedic, but I would like to have something more cushy and yet supportive, since the one we have is getting old (like Tyler, I suppose). I found The Bed, the bed that I wish I could sleep on myself. It's about five inches of orthopedic foam, topped with a regular thick cushion dog bed. It's the first bed that I've ever found that I couldn't feel any hint of the floor through no matter how hard I pushed on it. I didn't get it then, because it's (I hate to admit this) $90. I know, I know, but he's old, and, well, he's Tyler Bear. He's been the best dog ever. He wags whenever he hears our voices, on command, and even in his sleep sometimes. He listens to everyone, including the kids. He lets Patrick walk him with no tugging at all, even though he could easily drag him down the street if he wanted to. The kids used to ride him, pull on his ears, and play in his water bowl. He's practically their grandparent, come to think of it. When he was a puppy and DH and I went to the breeder, HE actually chose US. We had sat down in different places, and Tyler ran back and forth between the two of us, first climbing on and licking one and then the other, over and over, the entire time we were there. The other puppies played and frolicked around us, but Tyler was Ours from that moment on. Now that he's outlived his brother by two years, and put up with Baci for almost that length of time, he deserves all we can give him.

So, when my mother asked what I wanted for Xmas this year, I told her I wanted a gift card for Petsmart, and I told her why. She actually said that she thought of Tyler as another family member, and that since she didn't have any pets, SHE would buy it for him! Who is this woman?! Someone has secretly replaced my mother with Another Person, obviously! So, she's sending a gc this week, and Tyler Bear Dog will have his new bed this weekend. We'll put that one upstairs in our room for overnight, and move one of the other ones down here into the dining room for when he wants to be alone (otherwise, we get him to lay on the couch).

Oh, Baby Bear, I will miss you so. I hope you prove us all wrong and live to swim another summer. Until then, I'm squishing in on that bed with you!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why Don't Things Work Anymore?!

I give up. Why is it that things break constantly now, or simply don't do what they're advertised to do? And why, oh why, am I not even SURPRISED when this happens?!

Things that I have discovered do NOT work:

- the trigger thing sold at home repair and craft stores that is supposed to fix strings of lights (this seemed like it might work, since it's supposed to make the string forge a connection past any broken lights, but no)

- Christmas lights. Every year or two, they all break. This year, EVERY STRAND except one was busted. This may have something to do with the roughness of our movers, but STILL. When I was a kid, my mother insisted on throwing a giant garbage bag over the entire tabletop tree we had and tossing the whole thing in the basement year after year, and I don't remember ever having to replace the freakin' lights on it.

- Saran wrap, or any other kind of plastic wrap. The one exception to this that I have found is the press-n-seal kind, but other than that, it doesn't even seem to stick to itself anymore, never mind and dish or plates! The only thing it wants to stick to is ME. Damn crap.

- Any kind of cream for eye bags, circles, or puffiness. Nope. Maybe I am just perpetually exhausted-looking, but it's a common complaint - an online friend of mine was just complaining about this same thing the other day.

I'm sure that there are more things, but I can't remember what they are at the moment because my brain is also one of the things that used to work that doesn't anymore.


One thing I want to mention - if any of you have a Five Below store near you, GO IN. They have everything from Wii accessories to socks in there, and it's all less than $5! I'm not kidding - books, including those huge fold-out books that are popular for kids at the moment, toys, games, legos, Xmas stuff, iPod stuff, sports play, everything. I actually don't feel all tense when I go in there like I do when I pop into other stores, like Target, where I can hardly ever escape without spending $100. I thought to post about this because Swistle has been talking about table books, and I've seen several of them there.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Luke, I Was Your Father (sort of)

As many of you know, Patrick's hamster, Anniken, came to an untimely end at the vet few months ago when a tumor was discovered to be the cause of his weight loss. Since Patrick had done an excellent job, for a four- and five year-old, of caring for the little dude, we told him that when he was ready, he was absolutely approved for another pet.

Today was The Day.

During a regular trip to Petsmart, we noticed a new addition to their hamster collection - long haired ones. We particularly fell in love with this one, the only albino in the group:

As you can see, he has some hair to spare!!! He looks like a giant cotton ball that has gone through the dryer. Even better, since he has such trailing hair on his bottom, it hides his, um, boy bits like a little skirt. Excellent!!! (BTW, why on earth ARE their boy bits so HUGE?! I mean, proportionately, a guy would need a SLING to carry those things around!!!)

What is the newest little dude's name, you ask? Well, since the previous guy was Anniken (actually, ahem, for those in the know, it was really Anniken II, ahem, but what certain people don't know didn't result in hours of sobbing the week after Anniken I was purchased), this guy is OF COURSE Luke Skywalker. I mean, really, what else could his name possibly BE?!

At any rate, he has been very sweet, and despite what I imagine must have been a very traumatic day (rudely awakened, plopped in a cardboard box, driven in a car held by two maniacally giggling children, put into a home that smells like predators, etc), he has not once made a move to nip. Best of all, his adoption has resulted in this: