Sunday, November 30, 2008

Merry Christmas to MEME

Confession: I'm a serial meme thief. Beware. If you post it, I may too.

That said, here we go. I stole this one from a OLD friend of mine. (Think: big bangs and stirrup pants, folks. I'm talking OLD.)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gimme bags anyday! Easy-peezy! I like to buy the solid colored bags at Target and decorate with scrapbooking stamps, multicolored tissue paper and a curly bow. However, at Christmas time, I do break out the rolls of Santa paper. Way cheaper when wrapping in bulk.

2. Real tree or artificial? Confession number 2: I'm a convert. I was raised going to the actual tree farm and watching Daddy Dearest CHOP DOWN A TREE. Now, we have a very tall, very full PRELIT (cue angels singing and spotlight -- this feature is sent from heaven) tree.

3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving weekend or soon after (consistency is not our thing...)

4. When do you take the tree down? After Christmas, generally before New Year's (again, consistency is not our thing...)

5. Do you like eggnog? I have to say honestly, that I have not tried it yet. It doesn't sound too great, but I imagine, with the proper hootch, it could be good.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? This is next to impossible to answer. I never got a pony or anything outlandish like that...but loved my presents each year. I was very into Barbie (are you surprised?) and loved getting that. I guess one year that stands out is the year I got the Barbie Home-Office.

It was, coincidentally, the same year my brother got his Miami Vice suit and a Boombox! Oh, yeah, baby! We were jammin'! I believe my mother also clogged up the kitchen sink and/or smoked up the kitchen that year..........Good times.

*Thank you, ebay, for the photo. No, I do not still own this.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My brothers. One has everything he wants and expensive taste (not that that's bad), the other is just tough.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My daughters!!! This should have been a different question: Hardest person to not buy too much for?

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, it's a tradition.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? To be honest...most years, neither. Most years, I work hard on writing a letter, finding a picture, and/or writing personal notes and signing cards...and then never get them in the mail. I find them, still in a box, in late February and hate myself all over again. I cannot tell a lie.

11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A package of miniature cooking supplies themed around eggs. Literally. They had pictures of eggs on them. (These were given to my daughters for their play kitchen.)

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love Christmas movies, old and new! I especially love Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, The Christmas Story, White Christmas, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and Polar Express. I also have a soft spot in my heart for all those old animated TV specials from my childhood: Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, etc.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? My formal shopping season begins Thanksgiving weekend, though I DO NOT shop at obscene hours. If I go out at all on Black Friday, it is usually toward the late afternoon/evening, when crowds have thinned. Informally, though, I try to stash a few odds and ends away beginning in October or so. Trouble is, I tend to forget about them...oops.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Lord, have mercy, YES! I've never recycled from family, though. Occasionally, students, neighbors, and Secret Santa gifts have been regifted, though. Usually, it is a lateral move. (i.e. not to family or close friends, but to other periferal folks)

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies, pies, my mom's jello salad, my mother-in-law's chocolate covered peanuts, raisins, pretzels, etc. SWEETS. Yummy, yummy SWEETS!

16. Lights on the tree? Lots and lots and lots of white -- prelit, dahling.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Don't know.....I love a lot of them.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Usually home. Daddy's schedule.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Of course! Who are you kidding? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all.........

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We have a star that is painted to look like a snowman. I love it! Our tree isn't fancy, so I just couldn't see going with a fancy angel or glittery star. Our topper is very childlike and fun.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Presents from Mommy and Daddy are reserved for the morning. Extended family can be opened on the Eve, if scheduling needs demand it.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The fact that the Christmas decorations and Christmas carols emerge in stores the day the Halloween stuff comes down. What the hee-haw happened to Thanksgiving, people? My five year-old is even annoyed!

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Our tree is very eclectic. It largely the result of my mother-in-law's compulsive buying of Hallmark ornaments, since my husband was BORN. Now, there are Hallmark ornaments for everyone!!! At least 5 or 6 new ones every year! I'm trying, desperately, to combat this by building a collection of picture ornaments and others that I love. This year, I just got some Florida themed ornaments -- a pretty fish, a frog in flippers, etc. I like whimsical!

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Turkey with dressing and all the rest. (Repeat of Thanksgiving.)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A massage, maid service, and lots of gift cards for pedis and manis. Bring it on!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Family Traditions

Traditions are funny. Have you ever noticed that some traditions are deliberately created and nurtured, while others are purely accidental? And then there's habitual traditions...which is pretty much a different beast entirely, if you ask me.

My little family has a handful of holiday traditions. Some are well-loved. Others...not so much.

For instance, as a child, Christmas in my parents' home meant pulling out our entirely unique and handmade stockings (crewel, cross-stitch, beaded, sequined, you name it!) each year and cooing over how much you liked your own better than all the rest. As an adult, each year at Christmas I pull out the store-bought stockings that I FINALLY broke down and bought for my family once I gave up on the dream of living up to my mother's tradition and sewing everyone their own stocking. Then, my mother, husband, and in-laws crack jokes about my husband's and daughter's stockings which are STILL in different stages of INcompletion. In my defense, I DID finish one stocking for my neice. And it's lovely.

Here's another favorite of mine. Ha. Each year, as we decorate the house for Christmas, I carefully unpack the nativity set from my husband's childhood home, unwrapping the weathered newspaper from each figure, stuffing it back in the box for another year's use. I delicately and thoughtfully set up the scene, as logically and "correctly" as I can muster. Then, my loving husband rearranges them all, claiming I didn't do it "right". (Not sure where he found the blueprint from Bethlehem, but apparently, he did.)

Some traditions are gifted to your family. A few years back, my brother and sister-in-law sent us a lovely advent house, filled with little prizes for us to share with the Little Princess(es) each year. This tradition has continued, and evolved, throughout the years. The doors, you see, are quite small. It can be quite difficult to find goodies for the little compartments. Never fear! Santa is a wise man. He has been known to leave a message in the compartment, sending the children on a scavenger hunt for a mysterious package, wrapped and labeled, somewhere in the house!

Other traditions are copied. My mother always had a collection of Christmas books for us to read each year. Each year, after the holiday had passed, she'd box them up and put them away. As the decorations were pulled from their yearlong hiding place, we were thrilled to meet again our old favorites! I, too, have been working on a collection of Christmas books for my girls to know and love. (This -- children's books -- is already an obsession of mine. As a literacy teacher, I JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH BOOKS!!!) I coo at the books in the bookstores this time of year. Running my fingers over book covers and pages, I imagine myself reading to my babies year after year. Then, I imagine the years when they will quietly steal away to a corner of the house and read the books about Santa and his elves, despite the fact that they are long past the age of believing.

With a firefighter for a husband, our holidays look different year after year. Some years he works on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so each year we vary our schedule. Gone are the days of my childhood where traditions allowed one present to be opened on the Eve, while the rest were reserved for after the Early Morning Stocking Jubilee. Some years we've woken up very early and shared Christmas morning before his departure for the station, while other years we've waited till later, so he could hurry home for the festivities. These are minor sacrifices we will gladly make so our Daddy is there.

One thing I love about traditions is that they are yours. Whether you love them, or hate them. They belong to you. You control these traditions, just as you control your parenting style, your home decor, and your travel plans. If you've grown up with traditions you never really cared for, ditch them! Always wanted to do something different? Try it! This is your ball game now!

I suppose, in theory, I could change our traditions of roasting Mommy about unfinished stockings, or rearranging the wise men and shepherd boy. I don't know...maybe next year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Botox or Notox?

Last week I noticed that my "smile lines" (If they're going to be there, why not give them a happier name?) seemed more pronounced than usual. In fact, they looked like the great divide! What a depressing feeling to notice you looked like a wrinkled pig as you cut in front of a third grader, making a mad dash to the potty, claiming "teacher's privilege". Talk about helpless! Not only are you miles away from any quick fix supplies, but you are T minus 10 seconds until the 20-some-odd 8 year olds explode into a state of pandemonium!

I quickly tried to "rub them out" (I have no idea what I was thinking. Somehow, it seemed like a good idea at the time.) and returned to the classroom, thankful that my students love me and don't seem to notice my aging epidermis. My thoughts of panic, though, were neatly tucked away as another item on my mental "Figure This Out and FIX IT" list.

This weekend, as I waited endlessly in the checkout at Walmart, my eyes wandered over the current People magazine cover.

OK. No, this is not the exact cover. But, HE'S SO CUTE! Wouldn't you rather roll your eyes over this cover than another picture of the Obamas? (No offense to Barack and co.)

Anyhow, as I thumbed through the pages, I stumbled onto an article about Botox. No, this never entered my mind as a possible option for my own personal smile lines. (Can't afford it and husband would never approve.) However, it got me wondering. Would I if I could? Hmmm....

Perhaps. Would you?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Love-Hate Relationships

I have learned that my life is filled with love-hate relationships. Dang it! There is nothing more frustrating!

For instance, I HATE to go to the gym. Yet, I love it. When I haven't been in a while, I dread it like a trip to the OB/GYN. However, when I'm in a groove, it can be invigorating and uplifting. WHY THE HEE-HAW CAN'T I GET THROUGH THESE SLUMPS, THEN??? Am I really that short-sighted? Do I have memory issues that prevent me from remembering the high of endorphins flooding my bloodstream?

Perhaps that memory condition is the same memory condition that makes me consider, one day, having a third child. As I watch friends and relatives blossom with child, planning for their own blessed events that will soon change their lives forever, I reflect on my own pregnancies and start to daydream about another baby. WHAT AM I THINKING??? I guess my memory must be failing me again. Don't I remember how my body felt as it buckled under the pressure of my little miracle? Have I forgotten my own post-partum insanity so quickly?

On that note, I recall my shopping trip to Target yesterday. OH. MY. GOD. Have you ever wanted to be Elizabeth Montgomery and wiggle your nose to make something, or someone (perhaps yourself) disappear? I love my children. They are, I promise, the light of my life...and all that stuff. Yesterday, though? I was ready to be rid of (at least) one of them!

I was in a completely LAZY mood. (I attribute this to my recent avoidance of exercise. Currently, I'm completely submerged in "fat and lazy" mode.) I didn't even want to get dressed. However, my darling Baby had run out of diapers. Poop! (Pun intended.)

After approximately 30 minutes of necessary preparations required for any dash away from home on a cold day (sweaters, jackets, sippy cups, emergency snacks, blankies, pacie and books), we were finally off. We made it to Target and the trip went downhill from the moment we were in the door.

Any normal folk can just saunter into a store, grab a cart or basket and they're off. Not us. My girlies have to have a "train". (This is their pet name for the Big-Mama-Daddy-People-Pusher/shopping cart. You know, the one with the enormous red plastic two-seater platform attached behind the cart? The one that is next to impossible to push when its empty, much less loaded down with kids and goods?) Fine. We'll get a train, I reluctantly agreed, hoping this would buy me some peace and quiet.

Uh-oh. No trains on side number one. "No problem. Mommy has to return something, so we'll check at the other door." After making my returns, I was disappointed (yet, not surprised) to find that there were no "trains" at this entrance, either.

Fortunately, my eldest was perfectly content to ride in a regular cart. She's really getting too big for this, so she rides in the bottom of the basket. I am aware this is not the safest option, but, as the oldest, she is generally a very obedient child and not at risk of bailing out unexpectedly. My youngest, however, is a completely different story.

"No! I no want to ride! I want free ride!"

"Free ride" is an old family term for being carried by Mommy or Daddy. No slings or carriers will do, either. It is ONLY the real deal.

"Baby, you're too heavy! Mommy can't carry you! You can walk or ride." My attempts to persuade her to conform were in vain. She's freakin' stubborn. So, I tried to be sly. I carried her in front of me, resting her bottom on the top of the basket. This did not go unnoticed. She would scream, tightening her death grip around my neck and straightening her body so she slid off the cart.

I, calmly and lovingly, would explain to her (again) that this was not safe. She is too heavy to be carried throughout the store. I'd present the options over and over again, wasting my breath.

Now, fast forward to about...oh...6 minutes later. I'm breaking down and beginning to resort to threats. I've learned that time out may work at home, but in public it is nearly impossible to enforce. However, Daddy had some luck (relatively speaking) with spanking lately...dare I threaten this? What the heck! It can't get any worse, right?

So, I put it on the table and she -- why was I surprised? -- CHOSE THE SPANKING!!! She called my bluff!!! I quickly realize that there is NO WAY I am going to haul off and pop her a good one right in the middle of Target. Not wanting to back down (yet), I start to make my way to the family restroom. I could get her in there and issue the punishment.

I chickened out. I circled around and decided to go home. Through the checkout I would go and this nightmare would be over.

Enter Princess Number One. I had promised her a treat for being so good. (She really was being remarkably good. Not only was she minding me, but she was attempting to help persuade her sister to mind, too!) Crap. On to the cereal aisle for a little snack-sized bowl of Fruit Loops. On the way, I decided to crack open a can of teacher talk.

"Thank you SO MUCH for being such a good little girl today. Mommy is SO proud of you. I LOVE the way you're SITTING ON YOUR BOTTOM and riding so nicely! You deserve a special treat for your behavior!!! What would you like, honey? Some Fruit Loops?" Of course, IMMEDIATELY, Little Sister pipes up.

"Mommy? I want Fuit Woops. I want wide in de caht."

I felt low. I felt like a sucker and a doof...but I took what I could get. Into the cart she went and I zipped around the store, quickly gathering the items on my list.

Crisis averted, right? WRONG.

The tasty diversion worked for a while, until Baby decided she was finished. Fortunately, she remained content to ride...but she was now charged with sugar. Lord, have mercy. There were Fruit Loops flying all over that store! Squeals and screams, of joy, mind you, filled the store! I spent my shopping time scooping cereal from the floor each time she accidentally tipped the bowl. Sorry, Target, for the ones crushed under the wheels of the Cart O'Giggles. I left my broom and dustpan at home.

I love my daughters dearly, especially my Baby. But, I HATE shopping with them, especially my Baby.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Status Updates

I admit it. I've become addicted.

It all started when I made a new best friend. I call her, The Pink Lady. She's pretty. She's skinny. (I should be so lucky!) Her two favorite colors are my two favorite colors (pink and black). She LOVES to talk....and chat...and twitter...and Facebook. (Funny how it has become a verb, isn't it?) She and I go EVERYWHERE together. I feel naked without her.

My Blackberry an I have become inseparable. I have, as a friend put it, "pimped out" my phone to include Facebook, twitter, and Google apps. The world is at my fingertips!

Consequently, my fingertips are very busy lately. It is so easy to connect with the world in 140 characters or less, that I have, inadvertently, become unmotivated to blog. It seems like such a big commitment to sit down and write a whole post!!! (What??? I don't have that kind of time!!! I can't focus for that long!!! Give me the 30 seconds or less version, please.)

I've considered posting. Really, I have. But, I just can't seem to think of something worthy of a post! However, during the time since my last post, I am embarrassed to say, I have found the need to post nearly 100 "worthy" updates -- on twitter alone!

I never thought I'd see this day come. I have become noncommittal. Apparently, I am just looking for a one night stand. No relationships. Just tweet and run.

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