Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Santa Issue

I love Santa Claus.  I love Christmas, and Santa is one of the main symbols of the season, so I love him.  He's chubby, he has a red nose, he loves cookies and milk, he enjoys snow and toys, and red is his favorite color.  We have a great deal in common, Santa and I.  But Santa is causing me some concern lately.

A is in 4th grade.  J is in 3rd.  I have a funny feeling that J might not believe in Santa, but he is keeping quiet about it for fear that if he questions Santa, the Santa gifts will stop showing up Christmas morning.  A believes in him 100 percent, and that's sort of stressing me out.  It's a wonderful thing to see in a child, that unabashed belief in magic, but at some point he's going to have to learn the truth, and it's breaking my heart to think about it.  I don't want him to be the weirdo that's getting beat up in high school because he still believes in Santa, and I think he's approaching a good age for the talk.  Hubby and I have decided that this year if he asks us or approaches us to talk about it, we'll have the talk with him.  We've talked about how to break it to him, and we have some good ideas, but I have a bad feeling about it.

When my Nephew3 learned about Santa, it broke his little heart.  He cried and cried, and acted like he had been deceived and Christmas was ruined.  It was AWFUL for my brother and SIL1.  I have a feeling that's what it's going to be like for A, and I'm not looking forward to it.  Nephew3 was over it rather quickly, but still.  Yuck.

When we explain it all to A, we're hoping to tell him that Santa is real, but not the way he thinks he is.  He's a real symbol of giving and of magic, and that Christmas is magic and still can be.  We'll tell him that now he's in the league of grown ups when it comes to Santa, and it is now his responsibility to carry on the magic of Santa in all the kids younger than him, and to help them continue to believe, so Christmas will stay magical for the little ones.  We will tell him that Santa won't stop coming to our house on Christmas Eve, but now he can stop trying to stay up so he can see him.  Hopefully that will all help cushion the blow.

When I was in 4th grade, I learned about Santa.  I think I already kind of knew, deep down, that he wasn't real, but I wasn't positive.  I asked my mom that December in the kitchen.  She told me the truth.  But she did it in such a kind way, and in a way that allowed me to continue to believe in the magic of Santa, even if I knew a chubby man didn't sneak into our house into the middle of the night every Christmas Eve.  She told me that it was my responsibility to help the magic continue for my sister, who is five years younger than me.  So I was okay about it, and believe me--I was a fervent believer.  But look at me know!  It certainly did not destroy Christmas for me.

I have to tell my little story about one of the reasons A is such a believer.  Five years ago, we were at the State Fair.  It was a magical year there anyway, as it was the last year we were there with my mother in law, and that was one of her favorite places to be.  Many amazing things happened that day, and this was one of them.  We were all over at the band shell to take a break and watch a band.  I was trying to assemble my little family on one of the benches, probably hollering out their names and telling them to come over and sit down.  All of a sudden we hear this, "Is that you, A (using his full name)? And your brother J?"  We look over, and SANTA CLAUS IS SITTING ON A BENCH FOUR ROWS BACK!  He is dressed in cargo shorts, suspenders, and a short sleeved shirt with a Christmas print all over it.  My kids' jaws dropped to the ground.  "Come over here, you two, I need a word with you!"  The three of us walk back to him, there's a walking stick leaning against the bench next to him that looks like a giant peppermint stick.  He tells my kids that he's been getting reports that they've been behaving wonderfully this year, and that he's very proud of them.  He says that if he continues to listen to their parents and be good to each other, then they should be very happy with what he brings them for Christmas!  Then he gives them each a business card, which on one side says, "Santa Claus--North Pole" and on the other side it just has a picture of him posing with some elves in his workshop.  He also gives them a little peppermint, shakes their hands, and send us back to our seats.

This is the Santa we saw at the Fair.
He's magic.

It was magic, and I was in tears.  That man cemented my kids' believe in Santa, and gave us a moment I will remember forever.  I found out who he was, and later discovered he has a website (which is very cool, by the way).  I was able to e-mail him and tell him how much that moment meant to us.

So anyway, Santa is kind of a big deal to me, and I don't want to handle this wrong.  I guess I should have faith in the magic of Christmas, and that it will be o.k. no matter what.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Funk

There are days, and yesterday was one of those days, when I sit down here to write, and a bunch of stupid crap comes out of my brain.  I then delete everything I wrote, look at the blank screen for a bit, and then just get up and walk away.

I was in a funk yesterday.  At first I thought it was because I had to go to another funeral.  It was for my great uncle, and I was not close to him, although I am very close to his son and his family.  Funerals are always sad occasions, but somehow when my family is with that branch of the family we always find things to laugh about.  So it was a healthy thing.  Sometimes my family is so goofy I feel like we would make such great subjects for a Modern Family style show.  I mean, we are all so very different from each other, and there's a lot of drama, but most of the time it's good comedy.  And sometimes it's so bizarre it seems like you couldn't make it up, it's too crazy.

But I stayed in a funk.  I don't know what's going on with me.  I was riddled with self-doubt yesterday.  After thinking about it, it may have started with the mess with A up at the cabin, but I can't be sure.  I do this to myself sometimes.  I start thinking, I'm not a good parent.  And I think I just get myself worked up so that I can turn everything into an attack on myself.  We were talking about money, and the economy, and instead of just conversing about it with the hubby, I'm thinking to myself, "I don't contribute to this family.  I should get a job.  I'm worthless and lazy."  I'm feeling bloated from all the excesses of Thanksgiving and the fact that I haven't been active lately, and instead of going for a walk, I sit on the couch and think, "I'm so ginormous.  I would never be able to lose all this extra weight.  I would fail if I tried anyway."  So I sit and stew all day about how unappealing and unworthy I am.

I do this to myself more than I care to admit, and I'm not sure how to shake it.  I feel a bit better today, it's a new day.  Sometimes I have to look around and very purposefully count my blessings and find things to be proud of.  My hubby must see something in me, because he certainly still loves me.  And I really wish I could see myself through my kids' eyes.  They think I'm pretty great, actually.  See, but right there--I was just about to type, "I must have them snowed."  Instead of, "so I must be doing all right."  My first instinct is always some kind of self doubt.  Augh!

I do need to take better care of myself.  I need to set a better example for my kids.  Mostly, I never want them to feel this way, so I need to show them how we should be proud of ourselves, and have some self respect.  I write this blog because it's therapeutic and fun for me.  Not because I think it's great literature.  Sometimes my posts may be interesting, sometimes they may be lame.  Who cares?

I'm going to get bundled up and go outside for a walk after the bus leaves.  That'll clear my head.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Perfection. One Minor Hiccup.

Our Thanksgiving was AWESOME.  We had the whole bunch up at the Fawcett House in Breezy Point Resort where we stayed for three nights, laughing, playing games, drinking, eating, chatting, sleeping, and just enjoying one another.  It was so cool.  The house was amazing.  There were hallways with bedrooms everywhere, great hide and seek places.  

The kids had a blast.  

We had happy hour for free every night across the street from the house.  We prepared an amazing Thanksgiving meal right there in the kitchen.  We said our prayer and had a nice toast.  There were fireplaces, candles, and no drama.  We went on our big walk right after dinner to make room for our pie.  


We had a free breakfast buffet every morning at the restaurant across the street.  We went in to the darling town of Nisswa to do some shopping on Friday.  It truly was as good as everyone was thinking it would be, and I am so grateful to my mom for making it happen.  It was warm, happy, and food-filled, a fine tribute to my dad.  We had a picture of him on the table, and we had a picture of him carving a turkey on the counter.  

There was one glitch.  And I'm still shaken from it, and I'm trying to figure out how to recover from it.  

My kids had been looking forward to this trip since the day we found out about it (as I learned from A, for "three weeks and one day").  Especially A.  He loved the place so much he didn't want to leave it.  The first night we were there we left for a short while to go see my sister's house and where she worked, and that didn't go so well.  A just wanted to be back at the big house.  The next morning I had to have some stern words with him because he was all grumpy at breakfast.  After we talked about it, he told me that he was just looking forward to being at the house so much that he didn't want to leave--couldn't he just have breakfast at the house?  So I decided that if we were just going to be going across the street to eat or whatever, he didn't have to go anymore.  He knew where we were if he needed us.  He did go with us into Nisswa and enjoyed it very much, but he had brought his birthday money and wanted to spend it.

So anyway, we get to Saturday morning.  Yesterday.  We're all packing up, getting ready to go.  Checkout is at noon.  We decide to run over for our last breakfast.  A does not want to go.  I decide I won't make him.  He just wants to hang out on the comfy couch and drink cocoa and watch Spongebob.  So I tell him: if you need anything, you know where we are--just come get me.  And we go over.  I don't think too much about it.

I'm not gone long--perhaps a half hour.  I head back to the house because I can't breathe and I need my nasal spray.  Nephew1 and his best friend who had come along on our trip meet me at the door.  A is on the couch looking upset.  Nephew1 tells me that A got locked out of the house and somebody brought him to the resort front desk (just the next building over on the street) where they saw him because they were at the gift shop there.  I go over to him and he's cold and shaken up, and then I get the whole story:

He decided to go out and get a root beer.  We had kept all the pop outside on the front porch because it was like a refrigerator.  The door shut behind him.  He didn't know he needed the key card to get back inside.  So there he is, outside on the wet cold morning, in his socks, and he can't get in.  He walked through the grass and mud around the whole perimeter of the building trying all the doors, and he couldn't get in.  So he was panicking.  He says he didn't think he should come get me in the restaurant because he wasn't wearing his shoes.  So he's out there panicking.  Then a couple drive up in their car and ask if he's ok.  He says he's locked out of the house.  They ask where his family is.  He says, "at breakfast."  They ask where.  He says he doesn't know, because he didn't know the NAME of the restaurant!  The decide to take him to the front desk so they offer him a pair of gloves, and drive him to the front desk where he runs into Nephew1 and his friend.  

That's the jist of the story, and he's fine now.  He's over it, and thank God he's okay.  But people, here's my issue that I cannot get over--he got in their car.  HE GOT INTO THE CAR OF A STRANGER!  All I can think about is Jacob Wetterling and all the kids like him.  I was near hysterical.  I was crying so hard, hugging him so tight.  I tried to talk to him yesterday about getting in cars with strangers, and it's so hard to make him understand.  He processes things so differently from a normal child, and explaining things like that can be so difficult.  He thought, they weren't strangers because they were trying to help him!  I'm grateful for the nice people that helped him out.  I don't know who they are.  I know there are more good people in the world than evil.  But there is evil out there, and my A is a vulnerable kid.

I felt like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad parent yesterday.  I felt so low.  So ashamed.  So guilty.  He's 10, but I still should not have left him.  I was across the street!  But I left him.  I had told him what to do if he needed me!  But I left him.  I left him.  Alone.  I feel like I can never do that again.  And I feel like I don't deserve him.  Everything is fine.  But it could have gone so very wrong.  It could have happened.  And it would be my fault.  I left him.  My baby.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Closet Love for Bloodsuckers

I have to come clean about something that I haven't talked about on here yet.  Over the months that I have been writing this blog, I have felt the love from my little group of readers, so I feel like I can say this without fear of too much harsh judgment:

I am a Twilight fan.

O.K., it's out there.  It shouldn't be a painful thing to admit, but it is.  It is, primarily because I am not a 13-year old girl.  And because I LOVE a good book.  And these, folks, are not good books.  And to be quite honest, the movies are sort of horrible.  But I love them, and it almost makes me feel dirty.

I started reading the first book during the media tour for the first movie.  I just wanted to see what all the dang hype was about.  Five days later I had read all four books.  I could not put them down.  And not because of the riveting writing, but because the story strikes a chord.  It is every girl's fantasy.  And they are easy to read.  They are like candy.  Cheap candy.  Like Skittles that you can't stop eating, even after your saliva has turned into Jello and the insides of your cheeks are all chewed up.  I mean, I abandoned my kids during the days that I read those books the first time.  (Yes, I said the first time.  Judge away, people).

So then I did the only thing a rational woman can do.  I had to get someone else hooked on them so I could talk about my shame with someone.  So I called my poor sister and got her hooked.  It was like giving someone their first joint.  I feel terrible about it and delighted at the same time.

And then the movies started coming out.  The first movie is crap.  Some of the casting is way off, the directing is a joke, it looks low budget, the acting is subpar.  And I loved every second of it.  It's like a drug to me (oops.  Inside joke to the people who share in my shame.)  Sister and I talk about it, and we call it Delicious Garbage.  And that's exactly what it is.  We have started a tradition with these movies where she comes into town (she lives several hours away) for a night when the movie comes out--not the first night, because we don't need to share our experience with that crowd--but during the first week.  We go out to a nice restaurant and get dinner and adult beverages.  Usually it's something like a scotch so we can reassure ourselves that we're grown ups.  Then we go to the movie and turn into dorky teenage girls, taking every scene personally.  It's so ridiculous!  But it's one of my favorite things to do.  We have a great time, and I love that I am so comfy and myself when we hang out.  So that may be why this dang series is so special for me.

Anyway, last night we went to see the first installment of the last film, Breaking Dawn.  Already I'm fighting the irritation that they had to break the last book into two movies, as if they are like Harry Potter.  Folks, there aren't many people around who are bigger fans of Harry Potter than I am.  That is great literature.  And great movies.  And I don't normally believe that Twilight and Harry Potter belong in the same paragraph, much less in the same dimension, but I'm only doing this to say I was worried that they were trying to be like my Harry Potter.

I feel pretty good about it.  It honestly was the best of the movies so far.  I had heard so much crap about this movie, such as "it's slower than turtle sex" and worse.  My expectations were exceedingly low.  But this one was the truest to the books so far.  The two main characters FINALLY get it on, and that scene did not disappoint.  I believe that, best of all, they tried very hard to be true to their twihards.  There were a couple scenes in it that were groanworthy bad, like the dang CGI wolf conversation, but it is Twilight, after all.  My sister and I were basically just hoping it was better than the original Clash of the Titans, the bar for which all wonderful horrible movies can be compared.  And it held up.  Granted, it would have been hard for me to be disappointed due to my low expectations, but I really did enjoy it.  Pretty people.  More laughter.  Beautiful scenery.  And the music was GREAT!  So it was fun, and I don't care who says otherwise.

Okay so tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I'm off to my family adventure, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to check in very soon.

So I want to wish you all a warm and blessed Thanksgiving.  Take a few minutes to go be alone in a quiet space, and really think about your blessings.  Thank God for the gifts in your life.  Embrace your families, with all their flaws, frustrations, and drama.  Love them.  Laugh with them.  Eat WAY too much food.  And as soon as you're physically able, eat some more.  Make a toast to something.  Stay safe.  Watch some football.  When everyone's busy eating, take a Clark Griswold moment to look around at the people you're with and be in the moment.  Remember to honor traditions.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Getting a Cold. What Timing!

Allow me to apologize in advance if this post makes no sense.  It's very early, and I feel like I have socks in my nose.   There's probably little sparkles floating around my head like in the cartoons.

I'm a little worried.  I have the big Thanksgiving extravaganza coming up and my nose has been completely plugged up for two days and I have a tickle in my throat that feels a bit foreboding.  I do NOT have time to be sick, people!  I'm not sure what to do, chug a bunch of orange juice and carry nasal spray are the only things I can think of.  And keep my fingers crossed.  I don't get sick very often, and it's been a really long time since I have been, so maybe I'm due.  But come on!

So who's going out for Black Friday?  I did once.  Several years ago, my sister, SIL1, and I did the early Black Friday morning.  I remember thinking it was going to be fun, getting up in the middle of the night (basically), grabbing a coffee, and meeting the ladies in the parking lot of Kohl's (our first stop).  It was very cold, and very crazy.  As I recall, we all got a few things as we trudged from store to store, but it wasn't that amazing.  And there are some crazy ladies out there!  We all decided that we were glad we did it so we could check it off our list, but it's something we don't need to do again.  I think you really have to know what you're doing to get anything out of it.  You have to really know what the retailers are going to sell, what you need, and who you're gifting it to.  We probably weren't that organized.  I've now become much more of an online bargain hunter.  Black Friday and the whole Thanksgiving weekend, I'm able to find lots of good stuff on line, all while staying in my warm house in my jammies, and waiting for it to magically appear at my door.  Lovely.

I do love to Christmas shop, though.  I think I just do it differently.  I like to casually go to stores in the Christmas season, especially little cute shops, and just wander and enjoy looking at stuff.  And if I see something for someone, I do.  If not, it's still a nice time.  And I like to shop at malls at Christmas time and wear my Santa hat, as long as it's during a weekday and I don't have a long list of stuff I have to get.  I hate stressy shopping.  Christmas shopping should be pleasant.  With yummy coffee, Christmas music playing on the speakers, and finishing with a nice meal with someone.  That's what I love.  And I especially love to Christmas shop with my mom, because we do it the same way.  It's part of my whole tradition.

So here we are, I have no time to do any Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, and I think I have a total of two little gifts done, from a list of about 40 people I need to shop for.  So it will be a busy, but hopefully lovely, shopping month for me in December.

And this is all assuming I can keep this cold at bay.  Right now I cannot breathe out of either nostril, and it's very frustrating.  I will be very busy today, but the evening is going to be topped off with a lovely outing that I will write about tomorrow.

I have to get some nasal spray.

By the way:  I'd like to wish my Great Uncle Tim godspeed on his way up to Heaven, and I hope it's some comfort to his immediate family that my dad will be there to shake his hand.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Peaceful Boy-Filled Life

My kids are doing this thing lately that's driving me INSANE.  It's the whiny, high-pitched, arguing with each other.  They fight about the most inane things.  Who gets to hold the remote.  Who gets to be the Vikings when they play Madden.  Who touched who in the backseat.  And it's the tone of it all that really gets to me.

I know this is a universal thing.  I remember my parents being driven to the edge of sanity by our squabbling.  I have little to no patience for it.  And the worst thing is, sometimes I find myself basically joining in!  I have actually been involved in heated discussions over who's turn it is to pick what channel they get to watch.  It's horrible how long it takes me to realize how idiotic this is and to just withdraw from the whole issue.  I have to remind myself that I'm never going to completely stop them from pick-pick-picking, but I at least don't have to be involved.  I'm trying a new approach lately--when I hear them doing that I tell them to go upstairs if they need to continue this discussion because I don't need to listen to it.  That usually gets them to stop for a while because it's silly to go upstairs to continue fighting.  Ha!

The worst is when we're in the car.  I have a little Focus, it's a tiny little thing, and when they're arguing it becomes like a torture chamber.  I feel like my brain is swelling.  And there are so many times when we're riding along, me in the passenger seat, the hubby driving, and I have the two goofballs in the back fighting about who gets to hold whatever piece of crap they're holding at the moment, kicking at each other and wriggling around like toddlers, and the hubby in the front seat, oblivious to it all, trying to give me his latest take on current events.  I'm sitting in my seat, desperately trying to listen to what hubby's talking about so I'm not rude, trying to ignore the kids because I can't stomach hollering at them for the 17th time in five minutes, and feeling like I'm literally about to explode.  Then I finally freak out, scream at the kids to knock it off, and look at my hubby like I'm trying to pay attention to him.  He usually just looks at me like I'm the crazy one, and why am I so grumpy?  Augh!

The particular career my hubby has chosen is one in which he is required to be able to focus on his task no matter what the environment around him is like.  So he is able to laser focus on things--the tv, his current conversation, whatever website he's looking at--and not be distracted no matter what.  I swear, the house could be burning around him, and if he's paying attention to something else, he'd burn up in the blaze.  I cannot do that.  If I am talking to someone, I can't concentrate if there's screaming kids in the background.  I think he gets frustrated by my lack of patience with those situations, but I am bewildered by his ability to shut things out.  Maybe it's just a guy thing.  But still, it makes me bonkers.

Here we are, entering the joyous holiday season.  We have our first coating of snow on the ground.  We got our lights up outside the house yesterday.  We should be all peace and harmony, right?  But alas, I have young boys.  And a hubby.  Sometimes I feel so outnumbered by boys I feel like I need to run away to a spa.  Even though I don't think I would enjoy a spa--I'm not one who would like facials and massages.  But I got out for a dinner with SIL1 last night, and it was delightful.  And oh so necessary.  Then this morning it was back to refereeing the little sweeties.  Funny how one night out can make me feel like I have the strength to put up with the men in my life for a longer time.  I love my men.  I really do.  But sometimes I get lost in it all.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bittersweet Anniversary

Yep, that's my parents.
Yesterday was my parents' 44th anniversary.  My brother and I went to the cemetery with my mom where she laid a rose at my dad's grave.  It was so sad.  My dad is buried under the same stone as my baby brother, and the stone is still just my brother, with a temporary marker for my dad until the new stone is there.  There is still a rectangle of dirt from the fresh grave, with grass seed that will hopefully take hold next spring.  And now there is a lovely red rose there, a symbol of a wife grieving, unable to go out to dinner with her man to celebrate 44 years together.  It's too devastating to think about for too long.  I have a hard time with grief, and I always feel a pressure to bottle it up.  It's hard to watch my mom be in so much pain, and I have this overwhelming need to take care of her.  But it's healthy for her to feel this, to go through this process.  I think she's doing it in a much healthier way than I am.  I don't know if I've even dealt with the whole thing yet.  I stand there, hurting for her, but I have this need to just ignore the hurt, push it away, distract myself from it.  Run away.  It was her anniversary.  44 years ago yesterday she married him.  And through thick and thin, they loved each other.  They depended on each other.  They were life partners in every way, best friends, soul mates.  And it must be so difficult to face life without him.  I hope she's able to feel the joy of her wedding day, to remember the happiness and allow it to comfort her.

As we move toward Thanksgiving I worry for her.  I know this is going to be such a fun time, our whole crew hanging out at a big old cabin for a few days.  I hope we can honor my dad, enjoy his memory, and help my mom through her sad times.  I hope I can help in an honest way, without feeling the need to change the subject or run from the pain.  I wish I was stronger emotionally.  I'm afraid of my own pain, afraid of my kids seeing me hurt, of anyone but my hubby seeing me hurt.  My mom lets it all out, and I respect that about her.  Emotion can be a beautiful thing, no matter what it is.  We hurt so much because we love so much.  And that's a good thing.

After we left the cemetery yesterday, we went out for lunch at a Mexican place.  That was dad's favorite kind of food, so we figured that's where he would have wanted to go if he was here.  I think it was nice, I know it was good for my mom.  But every time we do something like that it's hard to see her drive off afterward.  I don't want her to be alone.  But I know she has to be sometimes, she's learning her new normal, and she's determined to find her way.  I can't help but wonder how I would be if I lost my hubby.  It's hard to even allow the thought into my brain, because I don't know how I would survive.  Every time he's gone at work, especially in the evenings, if he's not home when I expect him to be my mind immediately goes wandering to very dark places.  His car is in a ditch.  Stuff like that.  I have worried like that since we got married, and it never goes away.   I don't know if it's normal, but I can't help it.  Just like when the kids were babies I used to go in their rooms if they were sleeping too peacefully and feel for their breath coming out of their little noses to make sure they were still breathing.  It's so dark and twisted, but I'm always worried someone is going to die.  And I don't know how we are able to survive such loss, but I guess people do.  My mom will.

Now there's all these reminders that it's our first holiday season without dad.  I made my list yesterday for gift shopping.  I hated not writing his name down.  When I send things to my mom's place, I hate writing only her name on the envelope.  Things are just different.

But we can still be happy.  The people I have lost do not want us to sit and stew in sadness.  They want us to feel joy, to feel silly, and to celebrate our lives.  So yesterday my mom was sad.  But she was also celebrating the 44 years she was able to spend with her husband, the father of her kids, the man who made her laugh almost every single day.  He enriched her life.  And during our holidays we will celebrate our lives, our health, and the traditions we have built over the years, traditions that would be so much different were it not for my dad and for the other loved ones we have lost along the way.  And if I were up in Heaven, looking down at all my loved ones, I would hope that they would be loving their lives.  Drinking a peppermint martini in my honor on Christmas Eve, and going along with their lives, still laughing, still feeling satisfaction, and enjoying regular moments.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Little Prayer for a Little Girl

Today we all need to take a minute to realize how lucky we are and pray for those who are struggling.  There is a little girl in a hospital in Denver with a bleeding disorder of some kind, and I know her family is terribly worried as they try to figure out what's going on.  She is the niece of my MOH, and I would appreciate any prayers for her.

My little family is healthy right now, thank God.  We've had a few bumps in the road--infant asthma, broken collar bone, car accident, broken wrist, and so on.  But we made it through it all, relatively unscarred.  So far so good.  But seeing your babies suffer is just about the worst form of torture there is, and my heart is just hurting for the little girl and her mom, who I've known since she was a little girl.  She is a tough cookie, but stuff like this can bring anyone to their knees.  So I pray out loud, quietly, and now I'm writing it:  Please oh please, God, take care of little Hannah.  Hold her in your arms and keep her safe and strong.  Be the strength her family needs so much right now.  Amen.

And I am powerless.  I live several states away, I can't even bring them a casserole, which is what my Minnesota mind is telling me I should do.  All I can do is text them and wait for updates.  I hate that powerless feeling.  I hope someone is making them a casserole . . .

So that's all I feel like writing today.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Beauty of a Buddy

My Buddy
I had coffee with my Chihuahua friend yesterday.  We talked about the fact that I call her that on this blog, and thankfully she gets the meaning behind it and isn't offended.  I just want to throw it out there that I call her that with love.  I had a Chihuahua.  Her name was Buddy, and we loved her so much.  She was five pounds, and we could carry her in our shirt.  My friend just got that "pet" name from me because she's tiny, cute, and I wish I could carry her around in a tote bag.  I just wanted to make that clear.

Chatting with her is always therapeutic for me.  We are friends for the simple fact that we enjoy each other's company and have a LOT in common.  As much as I adore my family, it is so refreshing to hang out with someone once in a while who has no stake in anything related to me.  Her life is so separate from mine, yet so similar.  We are both raising boys, similar in ages.  We have lived in the same states.  We like the same kinds of things.  It's so important to have people like that.  She can tell me things that she can't tell other people close to her, and I can do the same.  Like I said--therapy.

It got me thinking about friendship and how precious and important it is, and how rare.  Over the years, my friendships have really evolved.  I don't mean my specific relationships with certain people, but the way I relate to friends and the roles they play in my life, not to mention the priority that I place on the relationships.  When I was in grade school, it was tricky because of how often I moved.  I remember having close girlfriends, but they changed year to year, since we bounced around.  But back then it's all I knew, so it didn't seem that strange.

Once I was in high school, my friendships were deeper, more important.  I had few girlfriends, but good ones.  Girls are more difficult to hang out with than boys--we are so competitive with one another, it's part of our biology.  But I had three solid girlfriends in my first high school--one whom I have lost touch with over the years, one who I reconnected with over e-mail several years ago and now am friends with on Facebook, and one who was a foreign exchange student who I also keep in touch with on Facebook.  Technology is a wonderful thing.  These women were my friends during such a critical time in a person's life, that even though we were close for a very short time, they left an absolutely permanent mark on me.

At my second high school, I made several friends who meant a great deal to me.  My senior year was so wonderful.  At school at least.  The kids at my new school were so welcoming to me, and I was lucky enough to earn several real and true friends there, male and female.  It was a horrible year for my family, and I don't know what would have happened to me had I not had them in my life.  But as life goes on, it takes a cruel toll and we grow apart from each other, grow into our careers, our new families, our adulthood.  And we look back on those years the same way we look back on John Hughes movies.

College friends are a different breed.  Through my years in college, I had roommates, drinking buddies.  I loved them, I really did.  They were fun, silly, necessary.  I had one close girlfriend that was like a sister to me, but most of my best friends were guys.  And I love them all to this day.  They all know who they are, and I think they know what they meant to me.  They saved me so many times, from so many different things, they were like the big brothers I needed while my real big brother was far away from me.

Once college was over, and I began life as a wife, my world got so much smaller.  In a good way, but still, smaller.  I think it happened to almost all of my friends.  You become an adult.  All of a sudden figuring out your real life is your priority.  Not figuring out your weekend.  Marriage, bills, and starting a family becomes the focus.  Our new families begin to replace our friends, and we grow apart.  It's a bittersweet thing.  Our lives have new meaning and focus, and we leave behind what seemed so necessary and critical to us only a few short years ago.  But it's natural.  When I see some of my old friends now, I feel heartsick about how little I know of them now.  Sometimes I get nervous when I know I'm going to see some of my old crew, at homecomings or reunions or weddings.  There was so much intimacy, so many skeletons that we all knew about each other.  In some cases, it's probably best that time and distance has separated people.

But now my kids are growing up.  My life is in a comfortable routine.  I am meeting new friends, through parenting, through the community, through my family even.  And once in a while I meet someone like my little Chihuahua.  Someone who's like a breath of fresh air to me.  My husband is the best friend I could ever ask for.  I love my family.  I love my SIL's.  They are more than my friends, they are my lifeblood.  But we all need some friends.  Some people who are just our buddies.  They are like the cinnamon sugar on your toast--you don't have it all the time, but when you need it, well, it's there in the cupboard.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bring it On!

My weather guy is telling my it's FINALLY going to start getting colder.  Sheesh!  My halls are all decked now, and I need some snow!  We live in Minnesota!  I have expectations.  I not only expect a white Christmas, I prefer a white Thanksgiving.  It's not necessary, but it would be nice . . .  My nephew is a ski-er (skier?  he skis?)  He's on the high school ski team (much better).  He needs his snow to get himself back in shape!  They can't even make snow on the hill unless it's cold enough, so come on!

So I'm continuing the process of decking my halls.  It's a huge job.  I have kind of a lot of Christmas decorations.  I'm more excited this year than I have been in a few years, though, so I'm going to try to do a very thorough job.  I have hosted Christmas Eve for my family every year since hubby and I were married. Until the past two years.  Two years ago we were starting a big remodeling job on the exterior of the house, and things were completely torn apart so my brother and SIL1 hosted.  Then last year it was MOH's first Christmas at his new place and he wanted to host, so two years in a row I haven't done it.  It was very difficult for me.  Both places did a beautiful job, but I'm so happy to have it back at my place.  For me, it's the big show.  But since I didn't host the past couple years, I didn't do a completely thorough job of the decorating.  
It's so on this year.  I have a Christmas Village--one of the Department 56 villages, the North Pole.  It's not a complete collection, but I have a pretty big chunk.  I haven't put it up in two years.  It's a LOT of work to put it up and take it down, and it takes a LOT of space.  I put it up yesterday!  It took me almost the entire day, but it looks so great!  I'd like to be like Lily Tomlin in the Incredible Shrinking Woman and move into it. 

My mom started me collecting these in 1994.  She got my sister, SIL1, and me each a church or chapel from a different village, and we've been slowly adding over the years.  I put my set up on some shelves in my kitchen.  It now fills all my shelves and spills down onto the counter below the shelves.  You can't see the whole thing in the pictures, it looks so cozy!

So I think I'll finish my decorating over the next couple days, and I'll post some more pictures.  I'm determined to spread this holiday cheer (sickness?) to at least some of you!  Happy Decking!




Monday, November 14, 2011

I Think I Need a New Sweater

A lovely weekend!  Hubby and I went to the Gopher game on  Saturday--it was a beautiful cool day, and we had a great time even though the Gophers got clobbered by Wisconsin.  Ugh.  Then on Sunday we had a crowd of family come out and celebrate J's birthday party.  SIL2 walked in and said, "Look at this place! It's like Christmas at a casino!"  Ha!  It was pretty funny.  I had half-decorated for Christmas and just put a bunch of magic and playing card decorations right over the Christmas stuff.  Deliciously tacky.

I'm very excited for today.  I have no more kids' parties to plan.  All I have now is Thanksgiving and Christmas, so now I can concentrated on that!  The rest of the Christmas decorations are going up starting today, and I can start making my list for our Thanksgiving extravaganza!  

So I've been thinking about our Christmas card.  We've evolved over the years to doing a photo card for Christmas, even though I resisted it for years.  I felt like it was too easy.  For many years I would do traditional Christmas cards and enclose a regular picture of my family.  It was kind of a lot of work.  Because I would write in every card, and write names, ages, and the year on every photo.  Then last year I was behind schedule so I just did a photo card.  It was so easy I almost felt guilty.  So I'm sold on them, and they've come a long way.  I love all the layouts and designs you can do.  Hubby got a new camera this year, and he's a talented photographer.  So it will be a fun project.

Now I just have to plan what we're going to do for our photo.  In years past we've done pretty traditional stuff, usually outside.  We always try to come up with something creative, and then just run out of time.  I was telling my brother that it would be fun to stage an "Awkward Family Photo" like the ones in that book (or on the website--you should really check it out.  Google awkward family photos and I promise you it's a good chuckle).  It's a fun idea, but I don't know if we could pull it off.  My kids might not want to play along.  So I have to plan something fun.  I'll never get my three men into tacky Christmas sweaters, so that idea is out.  I thought it would have been awesome.

Speaking of Christmas sweaters, you should know that my hubby has basically said he would divorce me if I ever started wearing that stuff.  You know, the seasonal sweaters that are all embroidered and have flair all over them?  Like the sweater in Sixteen Candles that Joan Cusack wears in the water fountain scene.  It has a girl on the sweater with a skirt on--check it out here.  I'm talking blinged out sweaters with jingle bells stitched on them, or pom-poms sticking out of them, or other stuff.  Hubby HATES those.  And I know they're not that fashionable, but people, in my head, I am one of those ladies that wear them.  I know I am.  And I go as far as I can without crossing that invisible line.  I wear all kinds of gaudy holiday jewelry that jingles or sparkles.  I wear a Santa hat.  I have lots of Christmas shirts--like a red t-shirt that just has "Joy" printed on it in sparkly letters.  So as close as I can get to the holiday sweater without hubby being too embarrassed.  But I think I need to have one of those Christmas Sweater parties where everyone is supposed to wear the tackiest one they can find.  Because it's funny and you're supposed to be making fun of those.  And nobody would have to know how much I secretly enjoyed wearing mine.  Now that's an idea.  I need a reason to have one of those!  And I can serve all kinds of old-fashioned things like Tom & Jerry's (which are nasty) and hot buttered rum (also nasty) and Divinity (whatever that is).  Oh, that would be so awesome!!!!!  Folks, help me come up with a reason for the party!!!!  

Well, I have to get back to decking my halls.  


Friday, November 11, 2011

Cars

I'm not a motorhead.  I have always said that a good car is just a car that gets me from Point A to Point B without me having to wonder if I'm going to make it there or not.  I've had a LOT of crazy cars is my time, and now that I am used to having a dependable vehicle, I don't think about cars much anymore.

But I have a dream car.  And as time goes on, I think about it more.  Especially because one is featured in one of the tv shows that hubby and I are watching lately.  First, allow me to give you my vehicular history: my first car was actually my brother's, but we sort of shared it during my junior year in high school.  I loved that car, and I have fond memories of it.  It was a 1964 Ford Falcon.  I moved out of state the summer before my senior year in high school, and my brother kept it with him at college, and wrecked it a while later.  But it was good while it lasted.

After I got to Minnesota, dad got me a little Chevy Chevette.  It looked like this one in the picture, but it was solid poop brown.  It actually looked like a poop.  And it would backfire REALLY super loud and pour out black smoke from the tail end occasionally, which was sweet.  Especially since I was the new kid at a rich school  where all the kids drove either a new Bronco II or a VW Cabrioulet.  Awesome.  It had no radio so I had this little pink portable radio/cassette player that I put on the dashboard.  It had no floor under the passenger side front seat, just carpet.  You could literally lift up the carpet and watch the highway race by under your feet.  True story:  I was driving to my first real full-time administrative job at the University, my FIRST DAY no less, and it was raining.  I hit a huge puddle and a blast of water shot up through the floor, around the windows up the passenger door, along the ceiling of the car, and dumped down on my head.  It was so great.

That car died after a while, good riddance, and then in college for a short time I drove a Dodge Colt that I got from a boyfriend's friend.  It was a manual transmission with a skull on the gear shift.  It looked like this one, but totally matte orangish-red.  And rusty.  It didn't have 2nd, 4th, or reverse gears, so I had to go from 1st to 3rd to 5th, and I could never parallel park.  I would have to drive through open parking spaces and park facing out so I wouldn't need reverse.  And I'd have to parallel park butted up to a driveway so I'd have room to pull out.  And it only started sometimes.  So one time at the University, they were doing street cleaning.  Since I rarely drove, I didn't pay any attention to the signs to remove your car from the street, so my car got ticketed and towed.  I just let them keep it.

Then there was the Ford Tempo that had electrical problems.  I had to stick a hairbrush in this little butterfly thing in the engine (I know, you'd never know my dad was a mechanic) to keep in running, and sometimes on the highway it would just quit.  I'd have to pull over and jiggle some wires to get it going again.  That car only lasted a couple months.

And then my fiance (now the hubby of course) bought me a car.  A new car (well, almost new).  It was so beautiful.  A Ford Contour, 1992, beautiful shimmery light blue.  I loved it.  I drove it for a few years, until an incident on the highway with a chunk of debris that went under the car and damaged the car so bad we had to total it.  My car accident woes are a topic for a whole different post, by the way.  So I'll leave it at that.

But now I have had a string of very reliable, albeit not-so-exciting cars.  I've gone through Cadillacs, conversion vans, and now I'm driving my second Ford Focus.  We got it new in 2009, and I LOVE it.  I really do.  It's a nice size, it's got great mileage, it's roomy, and it's cute.  I'm happy with it.

But here's my dream car.  I've loved them ever since I can remember, and the perfect one is driven by the wife in Breaking Bad.  I WANT ONE SO BAD!!!!  They're boxy and cool, and you can still find them for sale.  Unfortunately, they're usually too rusty, but I'm trying to get hubby to hunt for one in really good condition.  I.  Want.  This.  Car.  The Jeep Wagoneer, any time from a late 70's model to a mid to late 80's model.  Red, Silver, Brown, whatever.  I just want one.  With shag carpeting.  Be still my heart. Maybe that would be a good Christmas present. . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Going to be a Jammies Day

Man, it's nice out.  It's chilly, breezy, and there's a few new flakes of snow on the ground, our first of the season.  The air feels crispy.  I love it.

This morning at the end of the driveway, as we were waiting for the school bus, I was watching the kids toss around a football--their normal waiting for the bus ritual.  Not a word about the chilly air, just excitement over the snowflakes on the ground.  I'm raising tough kids.  Minnesota kids.  I'm very proud.

And the chill in the air is just what I needed to be inspired today.  I'm getting my jingle on!  I've already started a bit here and there, but as I've said before, I wanted to be careful since I also have to do the birthday party Sunday.  I can't take it.  I'm just putting it up.  Maybe not all of it, we won't have a tree up, but the majority will be up today.  I'll just decorate for the birthday over it.  It might be hilarious, but very festive!!!  Woo hoo!

Tonight we're going to see Nephew5 in his Veteran's Day program.  I love the little kiddo programs.  There's not really much cuter than that.  But since I have to go out in public, I will have to reserve time in my cleaning/decorating frenzy to shower and get presentable.

It's funny how when you're a stay-at-home mom there's not as much reason to get fixed up.  I don't want to admit the percentage of my days that is spent in jammie pants with no bra.  It's another one of those things that happens as a result of my particular line of work--I put myself last.  So much so that I actually tend to forget about myself.  The priority is to get the kids ready for school, dressed, homework done, driven here and there, meals prepared, house picked up (ahem), laundry done, etc.  There are days that (if I don't have anywhere I need to go that day) I won't get dressed and fixed up until right before kids or hubby come home.  It's not right.  I should try to start waking up an hour before the kiddos so I can shower, have a cup of coffee, and be presentable for my family.  Poor guys.

It's also funny how as I type this I'm sitting here in yoga pants (that I only changed into from my jammie pants so I wouldn't embarrass the boys at the bus stop), hair in a sloppy ponytail, and mascara smudge.  The kids are at school, hubby's at work.  NO reason that I shouldn't go take a shower and get dressed right now.  But I'm going to post this, and right after that I'm sure I'll go make my second cup of coffee, turn on the Christmas music, and start cleaning and decorating.

By the way--I did clean out my fridge the other day.  It's surprising how good it feels to have that done.  And it's a messy job.  Luckily I was wearing jammies when I did it. . . .

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

At Least I Remember to Brush my Teeth

I think there's something wrong with me.  Normally, I'm relatively organized, and I try to be ahead of the game.  But ever since my dad was put in hospice, and now after his passing, I just can't seem to get it together.

Last month was A's birthday.  I put the wrong date on the invitations I sent out (yes, I still do old-fashioned invitations).  I had to then send out an e-mail and let everyone one know that I was off by a week.  Now this weekend is J's birthday party and I have had to adjust the date and time several times.  Once because I actually forgot that hubby and I had tickets to the Gopher vs. Badger football game (in my normal brain I would NEVER forget something as awesome as that), so not only did I have to change the date, but I had to line up my mom to come over and hang out with the kiddos.  Then I had to change the time, because I forgot J is going to one of his best buddy's birthday party.

Also, these are just the birthday parties we have for the family.  I haven't even planned the kids' "friend" birthday party yet, where they invite buddies from school.  So I have to do that, and it's going to have to be later in the season, possibly the first weekend of December.  Wow.

There's much planning to do for the big Thanksgiving bonanza, and I haven't started that yet.

I know this may not seem like a big deal, but it's a signal that something's going on in my brain.  I am a planner, and a major list-maker.  I haven't even started making my lists!

This does not bode well for the holiday season.  I am giddy with excitement at the upcoming festivities, and the decorating opportunities, photo ops, and music and movies, but I'm so scatterbrained!  I have GOT to get it together.  My house is a wreck, and I have a party this weekend.  So what am I doing today?  Going out with my mom.  I am hoping to get a lot done tomorrow.

So what is wrong with me?  How do I get myself back?  Maybe I need to start exercising in the morning, get my brain straight.

People, I haven't even brought out the holiday glitter pens yet.  HELP!!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, J.

Nine years ago today seems like a long time ago.  That's the day we went in to the hospital and I gave birth to my second born son, only 13 months after I had the first one.

He was different from his brother, right from the start.  I had to have an emergency c-section with him because his arm was stuck up over his head, and they were afraid his arm would be broken on his way out.  The c-section was awful.  Seriously, awful.  I highly recommend avoiding them if at all possible.  But in the end I was given a beautiful little cherub that became my little cuddler.  J was a mommy's boy right from the start.  He's an extremely affectionate little guy, and he wanted to be attached to me 24 hours a day.  Which was a nice change, because his brother is not the most affectionate little dude, and I wanted a cuddler.

J has the brightest blue eyes I've ever seen.  They're like a royal blue.  I love them.  And he was a chunky little guy.  I used to call him "Chunkalicious."  He was buddies with his big brother right from the start.  They are still so close, I have become dependent on their relationship.

They fight, they argue, they pick at each other.  They're brothers.  But they also play together, joke with each other, laugh together, and look out for each other.  When one of them is hurt, the other one is upset for them.  It's amazing how sweet they can be.

Raising boys is messy business.  And raising a boy like J has it's own challenges and rewards.  He is brilliant.  When he learns something for the first time, he knows it forever.  As he gets older, he keeps getting smarter, and my challenge is to keep him challenged.  He is a very physical kid--not only is he affectionate, but he loves to wrestle and monkey around outside.  He LOVES bugs, creatures, plants, dirt, anything from nature.  He is truly fascinated with rocks, minerals, and gems.  As a 3rd grader, he already has a passion for science.

J is an adventurous eater.  He (like his mommy) has a love for food and food culture.  He will try any food, and he likes almost anything.  Sushi, guacamole, shellfish, anything.  It's really fun to feed him.  And he loves food television.  Bizarre Foods is one of his favorite TV shows.

He's funny.  Super funny, and it's awesome now as he's getting older, his sense of humor is maturing, and his jokes are getting funnier.  And he has developed a love for card tricks and magic tricks, and it's stunning how good he's getting at the card tricks, and card handling in general.

J loves music and he's a good dancer.  Unfortunately, he's shy about dancing in front of people, but I am lucky that he will dance for me.  And he's very good.  He has his iPod loaded up with everything from 80's hair bands to Bruno Mars and Pink, and a good helping of Christmas music in there too.

J has a lot of friends at school.  They're a goofy bunch, with special handshakes and weird voices they use to joke around with together.  He makes friends easily because he is sweet and outgoing, and he obviously enjoys being with people.  But his very best friend is his brother, and his cousins are all incredibly special to him.

I'm very proud of my goofy, smart, cuddly, adventurous little man.  As I have said before, I have no idea how I can be so lucky, how I am raising such an amazing human being.  I have loved watching him grow so far, and I can't wait to watch him grow each year, and to see the man is to become.  He is a blessing from God.

Happy Birthday, my 9-year old Little Man!  I love you like CRAZY!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Laughing

Laughter is the best medicine, and  I haven't been laughing enough lately.  Last night I went out with SIL2 and SIL3 to celebrate (belated) SIL3's birthday.  There was a lot of giggling and several solid belly laughs, and it felt so good.  When I left, I realized it had been a while since I'd really used the laughing muscles.

We have all had those times where we laugh uncontrollably.  Where you have tears in your eyes, your face hurts, your stomach is cramping, and it's almost torture, but it's an amazing release.  That's the kind of laugh I'm looking for.  I have cried quite a bit in the last couple months, and that's also a release and therapeutic and all that, but now I need the laughter.  And I was thankful for the reminder last night.

I remember as a kid having these laughing fits where I couldn't stop laughing.  My family would just be either staring at me with an almost concerned look on their face, laughing at me, or just going about their business while I tried to compose myself.  The more I would try to stop, the worse it would get.  It was seriously painful, but so great at the same time.  I haven't done that it WAY too long.  I'm hoping we all get a chance while we're on our little Thanksgiving adventure this year.

Now I need some more reasons to laugh.  We did decide last night that we should get together more often.  We've said that before, though, and life gets away from us.  All of a sudden it's been a year since we all hung out without the kids.  So how can we make it happen?  I'm thinking of just designating a time.  Since last night was the first Sunday of the month, that's what I'm going to do.  So if you're reading this, SIL's, Are we on for December 4th?  And I think SIL1 should join us.  Ladies night, every first Sunday of the month.  There.  Done.  I'll see you there, and I think we should take turns picking the place.  I'll pick the next one.  Yay!

I'm going to have to try to remember some of my favorite funny movies or shows over the next couple days for a more immediate hit.  Hubby and I love a good funny movie.  So help me out--what are some movies that you guys have seen that make you do the silent or snorting laugh?  The way hubby does the honking laugh during the hotel scene in Borat.  Or the way I laugh  when the naked guy bounces out of the trunk of the car in the Hangover.  Or what books are out there that are actually funny?  Come on, people, help a girl out.


Today is going to be a good day.  I think I'm going to clean out the refrigerator.  I know that doesn't sound that fun, but it should be very satisfying.  And just for full disclosure:  I will be listening to Christmas music while I do it.  Oh, yeah.  And I'll be singing along loudly, too.  My poor hubby.  I hope for his sake he has some errands to run or some work to do outside.


And in the meantime, here's some awesome funny stuff:

Yummy Ryan
He's Harry.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thanks Ryan. Oh, and a Movie Review.

Okay here I go again.  It's late at night.  These Friday nights kill me.  It's hard for me to sleep, so I end up watching movies.  So I rented Crazy Stupid Love tonight.  (By the way, brother and SIL1--thanks again for the AppleTV.  You really know how to feed my addiction.)

It's a perfect movie.  Perfect.  Allow me a disclaimer--I'm a sucker for a good rom com.  I have seen a few that were poor, but it really has been only a few.  And I've seen almost all of them, so that's saying something.  It's saying I don't have high standards.  But this one was awesome.  Not as good as Love Actually, but what is?!?

So this one really captured it, in my opinion.  First of all, let me give you this:

Mmmmm.  Ryan Gosling.  Disrobing.  So the movie was good enough with just that.

Yep.

Just wait for a while.


mmm-hmmmm.



It's a really good movie.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  Basically it's about a marriage.  A long marriage, and remembering why you got married.  It's a romance, a guy who has lost it all, and finally realizes it's worth fighting for.

And mixed in are a bunch of sweet stories about love, young love and old, and how real it is, how powerful it is, and how awesome Ryan Gosling looks without his shirt on.  ahem.

So ladies:  If you haven't seen it, see it.  And gentlemen:  if you haven't seen it, see it.  It's very educational.

Good night, all.  I hope you have sweet dreams.  I know I will....

Welcome to Dorkville

What happens to kids to turn them into such dorks?  It seems like at a certain age they just start spontaneously acting dippy.  My kids started a couple years ago, but now it's goofball central around here.  They say weird things like "Boom!", meaning, "I told you so."  And doing all these gestures like they think they're all gangsta.  What's with the upside down peace symbol every time someone points a camera at you?

I think I'm very old, and I certainly have nerd tendencies.  But this is some strange phase I think all kids go through.  I remember when my nephews started acting all dorky.  Thankfully, they've grown out of it for the most part.  But I remember shooting my brother looks like, "you must be so proud" when his boys would act dippy, and he would just roll his eyes.  I'm so there now.

I remember when I was kid, and I actually remember some of my dork phase.  Unfortunately, my phase was very long, and sometimes I think I'm still going through it.  Remember how we used to make that stupid gesture in front of our face and say "face!" or even worse, "face your case!"  Ugh.  That was supposed to mean "I told you!"  How about saying "gag me with a spoon" or "righteous"?  Hubby says that sometimes they would say, "jackson!" to mean cool.  How goofy were we?

I think when we are between the ages of 9 and 13, we're just learning about the importance of being cool.  And following trends.  And since we're not mature enough to make good decisions for ourselves, we follow the crowd no matter what.  I don't remember hearing the expressions I used as a kid for the first time, I just remember using them.  I'm sure they came from school, but how they originated is beyond me.  Especially since a lot of the goofy words we used seemed almost universal.  We would go to other states on vacation, and the kids there used the same stupid phrases.  Now it seems like a lot of the things kids say come from iCarly or other Nickelodeon or Disney XD channels.  I'm sure it's all harmless.

When I was that age I was watching The Facts of Life and Dif'rent Strokes.  Nickelodeon was in its infancy, and pretty much only aired "You Can't Do That on Television" and "Turkey TV."  I don't remember expressions from those shows, but I don't think that's where "tubular" came from.  I think that's a surfing word, and I grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for the most part.  Now they have a huge range of tweener shows to watch.  And some of them are actually pretty funny.  I have to admit I'm a fan of iCarly, and I liked Drake and Josh.

At least our kids have more options.  In the late 70's and early 80's, pop culture was a pretty small world.  We had early MTV, which was huge, but not that many popular bands.  There was a fraction of the tv channels that we have now.  Fashion trends were very specific.  You had to have a certain kind of jeans.  A certain kind of tennis shoes.  Your hair had better feather correctly.  We all watched the same stuff, listened to the same kinds of music.

Here's a strange observation:  Technology has made the world a much smaller place, but yet made pop culture so much more vast.  It's nice how now it seems like there isn't one particular "cool" kind of music.  There is so much access to so many different kinds of music, that the variety is endless.  The top 40 is almost pointless now.  And there is so much good television for all ages, both for entertainment and for information.  So now when there's a dorky trend it spreads crazy fast, and it seems to fade just as fast.  As a parent, it's impossible to keep up.

So I just roll my eyes a lot and wait for this one to pass.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beyond Chance

Funny how life works sometimes.  So yesterday I was missing my dad because I was thinking about the upcoming holiday season.  I had started to think about it the previous evening, and that's why I wrote about it yesterday.  I had plans to have lunch with my mom yesterday, she was going to stop over and bring another bag of random stuff that I had left at her place from our time there.

She got here around 11 a.m., and told me she wanted to talk about something, and she seemed very serious.  I was worried.  She had made what she called a "selfish decision".  She proceeded to tell me that she decided to reserve the Fawcett House at Breezy Point Resort to have our Thanksgiving, she wanted our whole crew to go up there and stay.  She needed something to think about, something cheerful, and she said the idea had hit her like a ton of bricks the night before, and she felt like it was dad telling her she should do it.  Funny, because I was thinking about Thanksgiving and dad at the same time.

My first reaction, to be quite honest, was sadness because I knew my hubby would not be able to join us.  There's no way he'll be able to get that time off work with such short notice.  Due to his strange work schedule, I have spent many holidays without him, and the idea of another one isn't that great, but I'm also sort of used to it.  And SIL2 is hosting Thanksgiving here at home, so at least I know he'll still have a warm, family-filled, fun meal.  My second immediate reaction was to feel worried for my mom because I didn't think it would be remotely possible to get the Fawcett House for that period of time with this short notice.  But I thought it was a great idea, in theory.  Very bold.  Our family Thanksgiving has been celebrated the same way, basically, just adding people as families grew, since my parents got married.  And to change it up is definitely going to shake everyone out of their comfort zone a bit.  This was definitely bold.  And expensive.

The Fawcett House is this old mansion on the property of Breezy Point Resort.  It's super cool.  My sister was the landscaper for the Breezy Point for years, until very recently, and I had visited her there last year and she gave me a thorough tour of the Fawcett House.  It's an 11-bedroom, 9-bathroom lodge, and during Prohibition it was a safe haven for mobsters.  It has a great story, and it's in a beautiful location.  It's a great place for family reunions and large gatherings, and is usually booked up for years in advance for big dates like Thanksgiving.  I was so worried my mom would be disappointed, and I told her it was a great idea, but just in case it doesn't work out, we'll try to figure out something similar to it.  We went back to the office and looked up the information on my computer.  I called the resort and left a voice mail.

So we're getting ready to take off to go to lunch, and my phone rings.  It's the lady from Breezy.  She says the Fawcett House is available!!!!!  My mom immediately said she'll take it.  I could not believe it.  So we went through all the details with her--cost, package information (free cocktail hour each evening, free breakfast each morning), standard information (sleeps 32 comfortably, 2 gas grills), and got everything reserved.  And right after I hung up the phone, I couldn't stop grinning.  This has the potential to be a great time.  If we can get everyone that usually comes to our Thanksgiving dinners, we will have right around 30 people.  That is a bit doubtful, but I'm sure most of them will come.  So the rest of the day was spent making calls, talking to everyone about the little trip, and getting more and more excited.

It really was as if dad was orchestrating the whole thing.  From the idea to the open reservation, it was beyond chance.  And now my mom has something very happy to look forward to, we all can have lots of fun planning it, and I'm sure many special memories will be made at Thanksgiving this year.  Truly a time to be Thankful.  So thanks, dad.  And thanks in advance, mom.  Great idea.