Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite tree

This is a weird post for today I realize. The weather's gotten really, really warm. All the snow melted away. It's not winter looking anymore. It's about 50 degrees out and then tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 30s and then Sunday be in the 20s. So, yest it will be colder but we don't have any snow in the forecast.

I'm missing some snow. I know that's silly but I really do miss it. And I know it's just December and it will snow again. But I could be living in NYC and dealing with the blizzard and between you and me, I would be just fine with that. I like the snow as I've said before.

So while I'm missing the snow I started thinking about winter in the Wild West. We had a TON of snow there. I mean tons. We had that much snow all the time. It never made the news when we had 27 inches.

I had a favorite tree in the Wild West. I should say it was the only tree in the Wild West; I was a "plains" girl so it was all flat, barren rolling land. There were very few deciduous trees where I lived and I would get homesick for trees. So I found the perfect tree one day, on a drive. It was about a quarter mile drive up a rancher's lane. It was about 18 miles from my house. I tracked down the rancher and got permission to visit the tree. He told me as long as I didn't let the cattle out or hit any, I could see it all I wanted.

So, here's a picture of my favorite tree in the winter.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life's Soundtrack

Do you ever think about your life with a soundtrack? What if music would play in the background of our lives?

I remember when I was taking a film class back in college and we watched a bunch of films that were studio releases without music or sound. Halloween wasn't nearly as scary, neither was Jaws when there was no music; it was so weird. Then we examined Hitchcock and he often didn't use music to give his movies the scary hype but just relied on his expert film making prowess to scare the crappola out of the audience, and it worked!

Watching movies or a television show with just the right music enhances the production for me. I love it when there's an 80's flashback and the perfect Ah-ha or Springsteen song is the necessary background tune. But the reverse is often true for me as well. If the music sucks, it can trash a viewing experience for me completely. Same college course where we watched movies without sound taught me how to watch a movie for more than just the movie itself. Even though I'm not consciously analyzing the soundtrack, shadows, editing, cinematography, etc. I actually am. And when I know I'm doing it ("Gee, I love the way the rolling picturesque landscape was captured on film- way to go cinematographer!") while sitting in the theater, then I'm having a really bad movie experience- I analyze the crap out of a movie if I don't like it.

I love the orchestra music in Dances with Wolves and in Titanic. (But when Celine Dion starts singing that "My Heart will go On" thing it just annoys me!) The music in The Wedding Singer is perfect. In an old TV show that got canceled mid season back when I was in high school- show was called TV 101- there was a scene in one episode where a girl decided to lose her virginity in the back of a car and the U2 song "With or without you" played. I don't remember anything else about that episode but that- the music defined it for me. And think of Jaws, Halloween, Gone with the Wind, The Young and the Restless, Dr. Zhivago, M*A*S*H... all have memorable scores.

I think my life is very Hitchcockian (maybe my life is really more Capraesque but Frank used music and it doesn't fit my metaphor) but without all the killing and bloodshed (though as person who works daily with high school students I think about bloodshed: sometimes that of my students, sometimes my own!). My life is good enough as it is without needing a soundtrack to psych it up and make it more suspenseful.

Then there's the other side of me that thinks in terms of my life soundtrack; you know, what music should be playing at certain times in my life. I think music has such a powerful influence and can set a mood, modulate a tone of a conversation, build a moment, crush a moment, cause undue reminiscing, empower emotions, open flood gates, propel rage or cause giggles, snorts, smiles, belly laughs.

When the wanderlust attacks me I think a perfect song is Reba's "Is there life out there?"When I was getting dressed and trying on 4 outfits so I would be dressed to kill a little "Man Hunt" could be heard. Lately I'm so happy with life, I'm practically walking on cloud nine so I can hear "Walking On Sunshine".

I think it would be cool if you're just living life and you could hear music in your mind (with a volume control of course or I would be so distracted by the tunes I would lose the moment- you know, being ADD and all I get easily off track... oh, where was I?) that fit the mood. And warn you of stuff- I might've avoided getting a speeding ticket once if the theme from Smoky and the Bandit would've played on my internal Life soundtrack and I would've been wary and watchful for the coppers. I might not have gotten in involved with SD all those years ago if Denis Leary's "Asshole" would've played in my brain's little personal itunes.

What would your soundtrack play and when?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mac's Sperm Donor rears his ugly face... and here I thought he was dead

NO such luck. Wishful thinking. He's still alive and kicking and living on the other side of town.

This is a jerk who hasn't spoken a civil word to his son for a year. The last time they talked was February, on the phone and it ended with Mac hanging up on his father. Then one day in late April or early May Mac's itunes account wouldn't work. So he actually text his father about it who said he shut it off. Mac called him and cussed him out. Then he hung up on him. That is the total contact he's had with this so called father person.

Sperm Donor missed his honor's choir performance, 3 high school choir performances, every single football game, 2 band concerts, 3 plays he was in, and his athletic awards dinner. That's what I can think of off the top of my head. Not to mention the fact he's missed just about all the things a dad should do. He's just missed out on a year of Mac's life, of his growing up, his first girlfriend, his first crush, learning to drive, day to day stuff. He missed him applying to colleges, college visits, and the glory of getting in a college (his second choice, but still!!) with a HUGE scholarship! His SD has missed this all and had no clue what an awesome kid he has. That stupid M#$%^@F%*&er!!!!!!

So, in mid November, Mac gets a text from his SD telling him he saw his name on the honor roll, for grades and how proud he was of him. Mac told me and then waited a week and sent a response back that said "thanks." Here's where I think fate played: two days later Mac gets an auto-generated reply from Sprint saying his message was undeliverable. Mac said then it wasn't meant to be.

Until last week his dad just calls him out of the blue. They had a conversation. Which led to a lunch. I didn't ask a lot of questions, frankly, because I wasn't sure I could keep a civil tongue in my head. What Mac did tell me was that his father didn't apologize (figures), wanted to put it all behind them and go on like nothing happened (oh I bet he does, so like him to cause havoc and want to then pretend he's innocent in it all), and informed Mac he's in $38k of credit card debit (and what does that have to do with Mac, I'd like to know?). Mac said other than that, lunch was fine and the pizza was good.

Then Mac went with him 2 days later and they hung out for an afternoon. Mac wanted to go shopping with some girls from school but couldn't get all their schedules arranged. I told him I would take him and he said okay. I guess he had a conversation with his dad who said he would take Mac shopping so he went. I was so pissed off!!!!!!!!! Again I tried to not say much. Mac shared that he told his dad he wasn't ready to see his step-mother nor grandmother (poor kid has shrews on both sides) and apparently his SD said he hoped that would change; Mac told him to not count on it. Mac told me he also told his dad he was really negative and that influenced him as a young adolescent and he learned from me to be positive. He told SD if he could be positive around him then he wouldn't see him. Mac said he wouldn't spend time around someone who is critical of everyone and everything in the world. SD said he would "try" to be less critical.

I hate SD. I want him to stay away. I want him to go away. I don't want him near Mac. I want to know what he's up to. I don't trust him and I figure he has some covert reason. I hate him and don't trust him any further than I can throw his ugly, fat ass. I hate hate hate him. If hate were people I'd be China. I don't like what he did to Mac over the last year and how he thinks he can swoop in and be "buds" again. I don't think Mac will let him get too close but I just hate that he suddenly, after a year off and a year filled with ill will and bad feelings and so much hurt to my son, SD thinks he can just pop in. I want to tell him if he hurts Mac again or so much as makes him change his outlook on something as simple as what he wants on his burgers, he'll never see Mac again. I have no power to make that happen but I wish I could DO SOMETHING!

Thanks for letting me vent, spew, toss up some verbal vomit.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things we do for cash

I was thinking about all the things I've done for money. What prompted this thought was I got out of bed this morning at 7:45am. I work in education and this is Christmas vacation. Fellow teachers are probably wondering what in the heck is wrong with me and those of you not in education are probably wondering what the heck is wrong with me. Well... money.

I got out of bed to get ready to come to work at the school library for 2 hours. Before school was out for Christmas break, I had students begging me to let them check out books. Since so many of our kids don't come back after break (they either get sent home or to another facility) I collected ALL the books in an effort to cut back on losing materials. But I do have several readers who were begging me for books. So I VOLUNTEERED to open the school library this morning so kids on campus could come check stuff out. Now, I don't get paid in cash for doing this, but my boss is nice enough to see this was nice and offered me comp. time for each hour I spend here.

But the reason this seems like such a big deal is that I drove another 15 hour transport yesterday. I left at 9:30am and got back at 12:30am. Yes, 15 hours in a minivan with 5 teenagers, jacked up on sugar and caffeine and one who hadn't had her meds for 5 days. OMG!

So, while it doesn't seem like such a big deal to get up at 7:45 am to work at the library for 2 hours, it does on the heels of yesterday's drive. And, here I sit and not a soul has come in. Oh, I sent email reminders, one the day I planned it, a week ago. And again yesterday morning. I even asked them to RSVP. Guess I'll get comp. time for sitting here.

And since we went on Christmas break, I have worked a LOT of hours. The last day of school was Dec. 17. I went shopping on the 18th. I was deathly sick on 19-21. I worked on 22nd, 23rd, and the 24th. I was off on Christmas day and then I worked again on the 26th, 27th and then today, in the morning. I'm really NOT complaining nor whining. I did this to myself. I wanted the money. But as I sit here tired and aching and really wishing I was still at home in my nice warm new flannel jammies, I'm wishing I would've taken more time off to enjoy my holiday break.

There are 5.5 days left and I am not working any of them. I'm going to say no if anyone calls me to drive or answer the phones as the part time receptionist. I'm going to just chill. New Year Eve I actually have plans, a real date. I'm meeting my Photographer boss/ friend for dinner tomorrow night, and Curly and I are hanging out on Friday. Lilith and I are going to see each other at some point as well, but otherwise I am just chilling and doing some fun stuff with friends, obviously.

I would love to a take a "get away from it all" vacation. Maybe I should stash all my money and take a mini vacation... bwahahahahahahaha!!! It's a nice idea.

Being a bum for the rest of the day,

Monday, December 27, 2010

100 Things Meme

Today I'm driving another 12 hour transit. So I leave you with a meme; the last one of the year, I promise.

A. Copy this whole list into your blog.
B. Color the things that are true about you.
C. Whatever you don’t COLOR (left in black) is false.

01. I miss somebody right now
02. I don’t watch much TV these days
03. I love olives
04. I love sleeping
05. I own lots of books
06. I wear glasses or contact lenses
07. I love to play video games
08. I’ve tried marijuana
09. I’ve watched porn movies
10. I have been in a threesome
11. I have had sex with a member of the same sex.

12. I believe honesty is usually the best policy
13. I have acne free skin
14. I like and respect Al Sharpton
15. I curse frequently
16. I have changed a lot mentally over the last year
17. I have a hobby
18. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
19. I carry my knife/razor everywhere with me
20. I’m really, really smart
21. I’ve never broken someone’s bones
22. I have had an affair with a married person
23. I hate the rain
24. I’m paranoid at times
25. I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe and free of cost.
26. I need money right now!
27. I love Sushi
28. I talk really, really fast
29. I have fresh breath in the morning
30. I have semi-long hair

31. I have lost money in Las Vegas
32. I have at least one brother and/or one sister
33. I was born in a country outside of the U.S.
34. I shave my legs on a regular basis
35. I have a twin
36. I have worn fake hair/nails/eyelashes in the past
37. I couldn’t survive without Caller I.D.
38. I like the way that I look a lot of the time
39. I have lied to a good friend in the last 6 months
40. I know how to do cornrows
41. I am usually pessimistic
42. I have a lot of mood swings
43. I think prostitution should be legalized
44. I think Britney Spears is hot
45. I contribute my all at work
46. I have a hidden talent (it’s hidden from me too)
47. I’m always hyper no matter how much sugar I have
48. I feel my life is pretty complete
49. I want a relationship with someone I can't have

50. I have gotten more than 1 ticket in the last year
51. I enjoy talking on the phone
52. I practically live in PJ pants
53. I love to shop
54. I would rather shop than eat
55. I would classify myself as ghetto
56. I’m snobby and have worn a sweater tied around my shoulders
57. I’m obsessed with shoes.
58. I don’t hate anyone
59. I’m a pretty good dancer
60. I don’t think Mike Tyson raped Desiree Washington
61. I’m completely embarrassed to be seen with my mother
62. I have a cell phone
63. I prefer to work alone
64. I watch MTV on a daily basis
65. I have passed out drunk in the past 6 months

66. I love drama
67. I am willing to try any type of new food
68. I have a fear of flying
69. I have never been to a big concert
70. I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life
71. I want to have children in the future
72. I have changed a diaper before
73. I’ve called the cops on a friend before
74. I bite my nails
75. I am a member of the Tom Green fan club
76. I’m not allergic to anything
77. I have a lot to learn
78. I think I know more than I really do
79. Sex is overrated.
80. I am very shy around the opposite sex sometimes
81. I’m online 24/7, even as an away message
82. I have at least 5 text messages saved
83. I have tried alcohol or drugs before
84. I have made a move on a friend’s significant other in the past
85. I own the "South Park" movie
86. I’ve been to Europe.
87. When I was a kid I played "the birds and the bees" with a neighbor or friend
88. I enjoy some country music
89. I would die for my best friends
90. I think that Pizza Hut has the best pizza

91. I watch soap operas whenever I can
92. I’m obsessive, anal retentive, and often a perfectionist
93. I have used my sexuality to advance my career
94. I love Michael Jackson
95. I know all the words to Slick Rick’s "Children’s Story"
96. Halloween is awesome because you get free candy
97. I watch Spongebob Squarepants and I like it
98. I have dated a close friend’s ex
99. I'm happy as of this moment
100. I need to get laid (okay so who doesn't and when isn't this true?).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day 24: Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs.

I haven't given up on the 30 days of truth... yet. And since today is the day after Christmas and a Sunday I figure readership will already be low so I'd write a semi- uninteresting post that no one will read anyway on a day when few people will read.

This is a playlist, of sorts, to me. In reality it's a list of my ring tones and who I've assigned certain songs, and why. I had to change this up a little or it would've been sort of schmaltzy list or a sad one if I went with just regular old tunes, so here's something a little more fun.

1. "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett is assigned to my friend sam/P because she lives in Florida and she, like me, likes to occasionally have an adult libation.

2. "Your Song" by Elton John to ITSam because it's a song he sang to me once, (He has a lovely voice) and it's one of his favorites.

3. "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin to Mac because it's a loud song and I want to hear it when it rings, I have no other ring tone even remotely close to that sound, and because Led Zeppelin is one of his all time favorite music groups on earth.

4. "Soul Sister" by Train to XRay Girl because she's my soul sister and because I like the song (and Train is a favorite of mine).

5. "We are family" by Sister Sledge is assigned to DNice and Gulo because they're part of my (even long distance) family of girlfriends.

6. "Piano Man" by Billy Joel is assigned to Daddy-O because he plays the piano and he and I are both HUGE Billy fans. HUGE!

7. "Glitter in the Air" by Pink is assigned to my friend Lilith because I love this song and it's one of my favorites so I assigned it to one of my favorite people I love and who's a favorite!

8. "Love You Till The End" by the Pogues is a ring tone I gave to a Sam who lives in Ireland. He's a friend. He doesn't call often but it's there, just in case. He's a person i care about a great deal. The Pogues are an Irish band that I like to it's a good choice all the way around.

9. "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz is assigned to Curly, much for the same reasons as I picked a song for Lilith. I love this song and it's one of my favorites so I assigned it to one of my favorite people I love and who's a favorite!

10. "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen is assigned to my school and plays whenever they call me. It's my own little "heeheehee" moment.

11. "Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield is my default ringtone because one time Mac said it was the most annoying song he had ever heard and I wanted to mess with him.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Thank yous and randoms on Christmas Eve

Thank you to Gulo for sending me all the yummy baked goodies!!!! And since your dog is now a sock terrorist, all mine (socks, that is) are in hiding!

Thank you Patti for the beautiful necklace!!!! I'll be posting a picture of said piece of shoe jewelry that she made herself using my avatar off this blog!! it's stunning- thank you so much!

Mac had a girlfriend for about 2 months (though I just found out that she was officially his "girlfriend" about 3 weeks ago) and she dumped him 2 days ago. He is now the world's most depressed teenager. I hate her and I'm really tired of his attitude, but what can I do?

I transported 2 boys yesterday. Pray for one. He's got a rough life story but the next three days he's going to a foster home. For Christmas. With his brother. yeah, this boy is in a placement facility and his brother is in foster care. And he's going to the foster place for three days, with a family he's never met, to celebrate this huge family holiday.

And speaking of driving transits... yesterday's ode... well the day I drove that, it was 16 hours long. The kids were awesome and kind. They were respectful. They sang. Someone found my Kelli Clarkson CD and we sang along at the top of our lungs. Some woman in a bathroom in southern My State thinks I have 7 teenage girls. She's an idiot. Overall, they made me laugh. It was a good day.

I just finished wrapping all the gifts I'm giving except for one. And I've filled the stockings. Now I'm going to help Daddy-O wrap. Ugh! Why do I wait until the last minute? Oh, don't answer that.

This year I didn't send Christmas cards. I usually do but didn't this year. I couldn't find any I liked really well. I either liked the picture and hated the message or vice versa. I thought about, around October, of making my own and of course, I didn't. Procrastination is a terrible thing. Maybe I'll send New Year's Cards? Or Chinese New Year cards in later-ish January?

I told Mac I've decided to be Jewish by next year. We can still have a tree but for Hanukkah we're calling it a Hanukkah Bush. He asked if would fill his stocking with yamakas and dreidels. He asked me if that means I would register with J-Date. He's not funny.

Because of the flu/ cold from hell, I've also not basked. I figured cooking and contaminating is not the gift I want to give this Christmas season. But I didn't really need to bake since Gulo sent a wonderful box of goodies, Curly made us a huge platter of yummies, and my Auntie in Texas sent an entire box full of treats! Awesome people and awesome cookies, candies, and such! I am going to bake next week, though. I'm going to make my mom's recipe of cut out cookies, some chocolate fudge, a pan of mint brownies, and some fold over jam cookies. We'll see what happens!

Marry Christmas Eve,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Transporting kids home: a poem

Twas three days before Christmas and all through the state
Kids were going home to have fun and celebrate
1 Crazy lady, 8 girls and a guy
Were all in a van, wheels spinning, oh my.

The boy was out first, relieved to be free
From the giggling girls, blonds there were three.
Gabby was next,
her mom wasn't there,
so wait 10 extra minutes they did,
I was pulling out my hair!

Princess was home, into her family's arms she did run
Their faces lit up as warm as the sun.
I hugged her goodbye
I wished her adieu
I exclaimed to her I would "miss you!"

Back down the road we did ride,
The music playing loud,
The traffic parted like the tide or a crowd

One more girl here, another there
I left one on the side of the interstate,
My van was becoming bare.

Finally with two left we did go
To the other side of the state, I'll have you know
Now Ali was home, Kenni was too
After 15 hours on the road, I was weary, and left to stew.

My 5 hours back north did I drive in a rush
I relished the peace, the quiet, the hush
The kids were home and I was almost, too
And now I'll just say "Merry Christmas to you"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Meme

Since I'm leaving at the crack of dawn and won't be back until around 10pm, I'm wussing out and writing this Christmas meme. Enjoy, and feel free to steal it!

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?

Hot Chocolate. I can make a frozen one or a hot one and sometimes I make an adult version- add a little of that new Baily's Chocolate Mint creme to the ordinary cocoa and... bliss.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
He sits them under the tree unwrapped. Dad and mom always wrapped their gifts to us.

3. Colored lights on the tree/house or white?
White lights only. And they cannot blink or flash or stutter. Just plain white lights on the house and the tree. The end!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Yes I do. Also, I have a hat with some pinned on but I need to be careful when I wear it, ewwww.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
We used to always put them up the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year I left my pink Christmas tree up all year around and turn it on each night in December

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Well, you mean there's other food than dessert at Christmas? 'Prolly bacon breakfast casserole, I guess.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Probably decorating with the family or lighting up the courthouse

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I just don't remember. I still get my picture taken with him at the mall... what truth?

9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve?
Not anymore!

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?
Whatever kind I have left. One year we left him homemade fudge.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

12. Can you ice skate?
Uh, no! But I wish I could. I tried to learn the year I got ice skates but it didn't get cold enough and we didn't have an indoor rink. Then I outgrew the skates. Oh, then another year I was pregnant and skated one time around the rink and felt sick so I stopped, then found out I was knocked up a few weeks later. Nice, eh?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
It was probably the handmade Barbie dream house

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
'Bout time we had this questions: my mom's recipe of homemade sour cream coffee cake, and her cut out cookies. I have the recipe for these and make them now

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Opening stocking first, then eating breakfast and then opening gifts in order of age while we all watch each other and take pictures and be silly!

17. What tops your tree?
This year I have a tiara.

18. What do you prefer... giving or receiving?
Both equally.

19. What is your favorite Christmas carol?
"The First Noel", "Deck the Halls", "Hark the Harold Angels Sing," "Silent Night" hands down, "O Holy Night" if Connie sings it, "Santa baby" by Ertha Kitt ONLY... oh, I didn't read the question- it said carol- not carolS

20. Candy canes... yuck or yum?
I like 'em. Bring 'em on. Yum!

21. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Yes. And here's a funny- my dad said I need to date someone named Dean because several years ago I dated some guy named Dean and we broke up right before X-mas and dad found a gift with the name Dean that they had bought for him so we need to give it to someone... go figure!

22. Favorite Christmas movie?
Love Actually

23. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, my dad hand painted me one.

24. What's the most annoying thing about this time of year?
MONEY or the lack there of

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Doing too much

Yesterday I tried to do too much after having been sick. I felt like poop in the morning but felt better in the afternoon so I went shopping. And to get new books from the library. And for coffee at Starbucks. And took ITSam shopping. And for a haircut. And stayed up late.

Then around midnight I had the full body shivers again and chattering teeth and shaking. So I downed more meds, took another hot shower and then went to bed.

Today I now have a snotty chest cough and a scratchy throat and just feel crappy.

Mac asked me if I was going to be an extra in the Day of the Dead.

However, my new hair cut looks great and I'm almost done shopping.

I must get better by tomorrow because I'm driving a huge transit of 8 kids on about a 14 hour journey so I have to be better.

Must rest.

And I wish I were more creative here but I can't even think of creative let alone put it into words. Too much snot.

Hoping for a healthier Wednesday,

Monday, December 20, 2010

the sick day

The plan for yesterday was to sort the gifts, finish shopping, wrap some stuff, see Curly, see Princess, see Daddy-O's cantata, see the Christmas lights in the park, and drink Starbucks.

The reality of yesterday was get up, take meds, drink hot tea, blog, read emails, drink more tea, decide I'm too sick to do anything so I go back to sleep. Wake up at 12:30 pm and repeat previous steps. Wake up again at 4 pm and repeat all these steps. At this point I had a conversation with Daddy-O that I was too sick to attended cantata. Had a conversation with Mac, arranging transportation for Curly. Contacted Princess's jailers to let her know I was too ill to see her. Let ITSam know I was too ill to see him. Went back to sleep.

Wake up again at 6:30 pm. No one is home. I decide I must stay awake until something that resembles bed time. And a time not so close to the Day-Quil dosage so I can take my Ny-Quil dosage. So I talk to ITSam who brings pizza. I try to make tea but doze off in the chair and wake to the smell of the kettle being singed since I ran it out of water. I eat. I try to watch TV but don't have the strength to concentrate so I turn it off. Ditto blogging, reading blogs, surfing the 'net, and reading emails. Ditto reading books. Mac gets home so I take a shower. I don't have the energy to hold the hair dryer so I sit with my hoodie over my head. I beg Mac to make me tea. He does.

I finally say to hell with the closeness of day and ny-quil doses (I was off by an hour) and take it anyway and go back to bed.

How could I sleep that much? How could I have so little energy that breathing takes effort? How could I have that much snot? I hate it when I'm so congested I have to sleep with my mouth open, which dries my mouth which wakes me up coughing. My chest aches from all the coughing.

Please let me feel better today.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm sick

I started sneezing and having watery eyes on Friday night. I was not going to get sick. I just wasn't.

Yesterday I woke up blowing my nose and all stuffed up. I sounded terrible but I thought I would be okay. I took my tissues with me and had a pocket full of them, as well as a purse full. Every time we got out of the car, I blew my nose.

Last night we got home from shopping and I carried everything in the house. I had one more thing to do. Yesterday was ITSam's birthday and I was going to take him to dinner. Since I got home so late I thought he'd eaten but he waited so we went to dinner. Sitting in Applebee's I got the shivers and couldn't stop. I shivered all the way home. My teeth were chattering and I couldn't stop shaking. I think it all caught up to me. The heat was on full blast in the car but I still couldn't warm up.

I came straight home and took the hottest shower I could stand until I warmed up. I never did. I pulled on layers of jammies and went to bed. I piled on the covers. The fever broke sometime in the night.

I feel a little better this morning. I still feel like a bus ran over me. I'm blowing green snot this morning. Not a good sign. My left ear hurts and my glands are swollen all over. I'm coughing. I feel great... yeah, right. I'm taking handfuls of Tylanol and Day-Quil. I'm having hot tea right now.

I hate being sick. The first two days of my Christmas vacation and I'm ick. Damn it.

My plan was to sort gifts and finish my shopping today. Tonight I was going to Daddy-O's cantata concert. I'm not shopping, that's for sure. I thought I might watch White Christmas and wrap presents but I think dripping snot on gifts sort of ruins the holiday season. Don't you?


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shop til we drop

And we did.

XRAy Girl and I went shopping today. We left the house at 9am and returned at 9pm. We went to over 20 stores. We are tired. We were brave. Some might have thought us stupid. But we did it.

There were tons of people, yes. There were crazy drivers, yes. There was 1 rude store clerk (at Stine Mart), yes. There were rude fellow shoppers, yes. Kohl's screwed up my order, yes. I have a cold, yes. BUT we still had fun. Xray Girl and I have fun no matter what; it was all good.

We found some amazing bargains (Plato's Closet and Bath and Body Works and Kohls and Half Price Books). We noticed that men shoppers are not as rude as women shoppers. We learned that we don't have to go to a mall to find what we need. We learned that when you have a pocket full of money to shop for Christmas gifts you always find the best stuff for yourself. We also found that Von Mar has the best bathrooms.

I wanted to get Princess some pink or orange boots but everywhere was sold out but I went with plan B. I wanted to get some knitting looms for ITSam and so far everyone is sold out. And I was an idiot who forgot her Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon and I wasn't paying full price for a scrapbook. So other than needing to back for those two things, printing some pictures and getting some miscellaneous stocking stuffers, I am finished.

Now I have to wrap it all....


Friday, December 17, 2010

Feeling like Christmas

I'm pretty excited because today is the last day of school. Yes I agreed to work some days over my break to make some extra money but I still have a big chunk of time off. And I'm feeling pretty good and starting to feel Christmas-y.

It's snowed today! It looks so pretty. X-Ray Girl and I have plans to do Christmas shopping tomorrow. If I can spring Princess from Alcatraz we're going to Daddy-O's Christmas Cantata and to drive around and look at Christmas lights on Sunday. I want to do some baking. I have a stack of books to read. I have a few craft like projects I want to work on: hats, quilts, blankets, scrapbooks.

I'm excited to shop. I have some ideas of gifts for people and I'm looking forward to wrapping presents. I have some Christmas movies to watch; I want to try and reduce that "not watched" list. I'm going to hang out with Curly and with Lilith. I want to take pictures. I want to catch up on my blog reading.

I realize there's a lot of things to do on this list but I'm looking at them as thing I want to do not as a true "to do" list. I'm going to do some serious relaxing and just stuff I want. Selfish, maybe, but I can live with that.

I even have all my favorite jeans and red shirts clean so I'll even look Christmas-y!

Full of cheer,

And please vote for me for Best Blog. Today is the last day for round 4 and I'm just lagging about 14 votes behind as being one of the top 5! And thanks to all those who've voted for me already!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Random Thursday

Mac has a girlfriend. It's his first one. She's cute and seems nice. But Mac has a girlfriend. And I officially got ditched the other night; he went to do something with her instead of me. It's official. And weird and I'm not sure I like it.

I have over 100 followers. That is so cool! I hope I can end the year with over 100. Thanks to all of you who follow.

This is the next to last day of Round 4 in the voting for Top Blog. I'm 13 votes behind making it to the top 5. Please vote for me. I'd love to make the top 5!!!!!!!!! I know, from looking at the numbers, that I won't win but with a surge of voting for me at the end and I could make the top 5 at least! And a huge big thanks to all of you who have voted for me all along!

Today I get to see the Broadway musical Annie. I'm chaperoning a school trip! This is a cool perk! I have no insurance and I barely make above minimum but I get a free theater ticket and food to one of my all time favorite shows!

I had a chance to drive a transport last night. And it looks like I might be able to drive a whole bunch over Christmas vacation if I want. I'm torn between the lure of cash and the time off to rest.

I discovered I can be bribed with Oreos. Yeah. I worked the concession stand the other night at a high school boy's wrestling match and was bribed by the athletic director with Oreos and I caved. By the way: I'd never been to a boy's wrestling match before and it's icky. And this was a long one- it was a 4 school invitational. Ah, what I won't do for the bliss of chocolatey goodness and creamy filling.

Earlier this week I wrote about the Christmas movies I'd watched and not. Well, the day that posted, I went to the library. I was speaking with the librarian about the Christmas movies I have NOT seen like White Christmas, specifically. What caused the conversation was a huge stack of Christmas DVDs that she was putting in a display. It wasn't in the stack; someone had checked it out. But as the words are spoken and hanging in the air above our heads, like a balloon attached to a cartoon, a guy returns a stack of movies and White Christmas was on top. It was fate and too much coincidence. I checked it out and it is here, at my house, ready for me to watch this weekend. (So was The Bishop's Wife, which I had to snag as well.)

So, I work in a library but I'm not reading much this month. Part of my issue is that I have head aches and need new glasses. I'm going to have to cave in and get the stupid bifocals this time. Ugh! The other part is that I just feel like I'm struggling to find anything that appeals to me. I have a huge list of books I want to read, like about 103 to be exact, but I just can't seem to find a focus.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Maggie the Librarian

I've been doing my new job for a few weeks now, as the high school librarian at Alcatraz. I like it.

It's a lot less stress than being a high school English teacher. I have no lesson plans and no papers to grade. I have no students I have to manage. About 90% of the time a student spends in the library is with their classroom teacher so I don't have to be in charge of them. The other 10%, the kids are on a time limit from a teacher, who has called me to get permission to send a kid to me for 5 minutes or less. There are three English teachers in the building and they bring their classes in all on Mondays and Tuesdays so kids only come in at random the rest of the week.

I get to be with lots of books all day long. And we all know I love books. I'll save the bibliophile speech for another day because we already know how much I love books. Not only do I get to be with the books, but I'm also in charge of ordering new books. Yes, I get to buy books with someone else's money. And I get paid to read. Seriously. How cool is that?

It's quiet. I listen to the radio softly while I work. There aren't many people who come in and out so I get to work at my speed, on any project I chose, for as long or as little as I want. There is very little I have to do in a day that's required. I have to put out the newspapers. If I get a new magazine, I have to put it out and get rid of the old. I have to check in and out books and put them away as necessary. I have to help students. Otherwise, I can do things the way I want and on my own time schedule.

The previous librarian ordered about 200 books right before she left and it's my responsibility to process them- covers, spine labels, card catalog labels, AR labels, Dewy Decimal, check out slips and register them in the computer. Other than a wonky computer problem that customer service at the software office is trying to help me fix over the phone, it's like I've done this job forever.

I learned all the software programs enough that I can do the basics and a little more. I know how to do new student intakes (which is part of my job, though I have no idea why, but it is). I know how to shelf books, and process them. It's awesome.

It's a really good fit for me. It makes me happy. My first "real" job (I don't count being a car hop, paper route or babysitting) was working in the public library as a student assistant. I did that for all of high school and all of college. Now here I'm back in the librarian. Full circle... maybe I should get my Masters of Library Science rather than teaching? I thought at one time in life I wanted to do that and how here I am, so maybe it's fate?


And in honor of librarians everywhere, I present...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Decorating for Christmas memories

When my mom was alive the tradition was that on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we always gather at my parent's and decorate all the trees, eat, and just have a good time.It was always one of my favorite days of the year.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we arrived around after church time and started hauling out the decorations. We had to get started on time and early because it's a lot of work putting up and decorating 7 trees. Yes, 7 CHRISTMAS TREES!!!!!!!!! Were my parents insane or the real Claus's you may ask? "Maybe" is the best answer I have for you.

After we hauled all the trees and their decorations out of storage, along with 10 (or more) nativity scenes, the Santa Claus collection and the village my mom painted and other miscellaneous decorations, we could get started. I was usually assigned the kitchen tree which I loved. It was full of novelty lights- the glowing snowmen, twinkling candy canes, the shining M and M shaped lights, the old fashioned bubble lights and so many others I can't remember them! I get tickled every year when I pulled out the strings of lights that are ensconced in their own decoration. This tree is also covered with novelty garlands like trains, popcorn, cinnamon sticks and beads. There are wooden cranberries and snowballs and snowmen and Lifesavers. All the ornaments that adorned this tree are kitchen and food related. It's a full tree- like 6 feet- your standard average tree. It was adorable and everyone loved it when they came visit.

In my folks bathroom was a Charlie Brown looking tree covered with bird ornaments that fit the decor. The guest bathroom had a table top tree with music ornament- notes, instruments. My parent's bedroom had a blue spruce with old fashioned ornaments in antique pinks and creams. The staircase tree was covered in nothing but crystal ornaments and clear glass bulbs. Oh yeah, the tree on the screened in porch had twinkle lights and was covered in huge red balls and gold ribbons. The upstairs tree was my bro's and was a white tree with blue lights and ornaments that struck his fancy.

While I am working on the kitchen tree, the apple cider was on the stove making the house smell all warm and cinnamon yummy. There were snacks set out- munchies like cheese and crackers and pumpkin roll, which we never got any other time of year. Mom made sausage balls, nacho dip, baby hot dogs in sauce with pineapple. Everyone else was doing their parts, moving from room to room to decorate their assigned trees or lug boxes for mom. Mom directed our cheery (though sometimes motley) crew in where everything goes- like we couldn't remember from year to year but we humored her and took the direction well, only exchanging a few well intended eye rolls. Dad was often outside hanging outside lights and swearing. Or he might be in the house, weather depending, doing trees, Santas, village, swearing... Christmas carols were played and we were singing alone from all over the house but voices combined in a cacophony of sound that only sounds sweet at the holiday.

It was also my job to crawl in the closet under the stairs to hand stuff to dad that cannot be outside like his antique, hand-painted nativity village, the snow globes, the fragile things that have survived the years.

Then there was the family tree. It's the one we decorated last and we all did it together. Mom sat in her chair and dug the ornaments out of the boxes and handed them to us. We all had "our" own ornaments- pink things or frogs for me, trains for Bro, purple or butterflies for my SisIL, music for dad, and a potpourri of "boy" things for Mac, and the list goes on and on. Ornaments that represent us each year- our hobbies and interests, our favorite colors, our marriages, babies, new homes, new jobs, little pieces of our past that came with a story that someone told. The penguins that look like they are frolicking in the snow or the round balls covered in glitter that always look like sugar plums to me need to be hung up. We sang carols together and Bro always tried to sneak "Grandma Got ran over by a Reindeer" in and my dad and I guffaw while mom and Bro howled with laughter and we all ended up singing along. We remembered when my ex- husband broke the first ornament that was ever on my grandmother's tree and it was irreplaceable. We laughed at the baby's first Christmas ornaments and us babies are all in our 30's and Mac is a teenager! We'd eat and laugh and sometimes cry.

Then we tried to clean up or finally give up. We'd go to our own homes now that we were all grown up. Sometimes I thought that day was better than Christmas day itself.


Monday, December 13, 2010

3 airheaded women rather than 3 wise men

XRay Girl, Princess and I went Christmas shopping in a nearby mall yesterday. Heard:

1#: XRay Girl is paying for purchases at Bath and Body Works. Princess is smelling stuff. I'm about 50 feet away from Princess smelling candles. Then she yells, "OOOOOhhhhh! Look, Maggie! Smell this one" and sprays the air.

Not to be outdone...
#2: Princess, who is age 16 and to be 17 next month, is riding in the back seat, XRay Girl is driving and I'm riding shotgun. XRay Girl is telling us a funny story about her hypochondriac husband. She's talking along and says, "After all that he still wanted to have..." and she paused. She looked in her review mirror at princess and then sideways at me, and continues, "Then after all that he wanted to have S-E-X" and spelled it. As not to taint the 16 year old ears of Princess. Of course Princess and I are hysterical with laughter.

Finally, to make us all even,
#3: Princess and I are making bread. She's mixing up one batch and I'm doing one, a Chocolate chocolate chip. I'm stirring and stirring and stirring and finally say, "I can't get these lumps out. I'm gonna have to use a mixer. How old is this stupid mix, anyway?" Princess looks at me, the mix, the box and says, "Um, aren't the lumps the chocolate chips?"

After yesterday I'm glad we weren't the ones who were supposed to head to the manger...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Movies?!?

I have no idea how I, of all people, missed out on watching so many famous holiday movies. I'm not kidding. When I tell you what I haven't seen you're all going to think I crawl under a rock or a cabbage leaf in December or something.

I was trolling around Pink Saturday blogs yesterday and the theme of the day was "favorite Christmas movie." There were lots of movies mentioned, some that weren't really Christmas movies but movies that were just people's favs, but the list of Christmas films looms large. And I have been a girl on the naughty list when it comes to watching some of these.

And while there's nothing wrong with ABC Family's 25 days of Christmas movies or the Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas movies or made for TV movies, when I think of Christmas movies, I think of movie movies. Does that make sense? I also don't usually consider "Christmas Specials" in this category either, like Frosty the Snowman or Charlie Brown Christmas or the like. I mean MOVIES!

Here are the movies I've watched:

Christmas Vacation. This was one of my mom's favorite holiday movies. What is so funny about that is that it went against her nature to watch something so ridiculous yet this particular movie tickled her funny bone and made her laugh out loud! (Even though the rest of us thought it was rather stupid we still all watched it with her because SHE enjoyed it so much!)

Home Alone I. it was cute how clever Kevin was and how he enjoyed his quiet time away from the family, until the burglars screwed up his alone time.

Love Actually. Saw it, love it, one of my favorite movies ever. Click the title to read my review.

Die Hard. Stop laughing, it does take place at CHRISTMAS time!!!! (um, and I hate it point out that so does Die Hard 2)

Scrooged. This Bill Murray film is a variation of A Christmas Carol but it's own twist. I've seen it and sometimes I crack up and other times I shut it off before it's over. Must be a toleration level or a "mood" thing.

A Christmas Carol. There are about a million versions of this. I love the Albert Finney version. I also like a musical version. The Patrick Stewart version is also good. I haven't seen the new Jim Carry one yet, but this season I will. Everyone has their fav- which is yours?

Miracle on 34th Street. A little girl doesn't believe in Santa until she meets a Macy's Santa and things start to happen! I love the original black and white version, but the newer one is cute, too.

The Holiday- one of my favorite movies and if you look at yesterday's post you can see the trailer. Love a good romantic comedy this time of your.

Four Christmases. Hated it. Hate Vince Vaughn.

The Family Stone. For some reason when someone yesterday mentioned it, I never thought of it as a Christmas movie but it is, of sorts. It's not a very good movie, though. Though... maybe I need to watch it again?

This Christmas. An African American cast about a dysfunctional family at Christmas. I saw this one, too.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. This was originally a made for tv movie with Loretta Switt (remember her as Hot Lips on M*A*S*H?) starring as the mom. I swear, this is one of the cutest movies ever. Please rent it. It's just an hour long. Of read the book by the same title. Your life will never be the same again once you meet the characters, the Herdmen's.

Elf. This is the only Will Farrell movie I like. Except for the spaghetti part, that is. And when they sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside"-- well, that's awesome. I just watched almost all of it the other day, shy the last 20 minutes. I fell asleep.

Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas. Otter puppets (I think it was puppets) sing and dance and mother/ son otter love over the holiday. I actually cry. Yeah.

The Santa Clause 1 & 2. Time Allen plays a man who becomes Santa. It's cute! And the elves crack me up. The first one is my favorite, but 2 is still fun.

Jack Frost. I like this Michael Keaton movie where he becomes Jack Frost and still looks out for his son. Or something like that.

While You Were Sleeping. Sandra Bullock is so lonely at Christmas that when the stranger she has a crush on is injured in an accident and is a come, she accidentally pretends to be his fiance. I just read that. Rent it. It's good, regardless of what I wrote here.

The Wizard of Oz. Is this a Christmas movie? It was on a lot of Pink Saturday people's lists. I know it's not Christmas themed, I've seen it, but is it historically tied to Christmas?

The Sound of Music. Again, mentioned on lots of PS posts but not a Christmas movie; however, it's it often shown on television on Christmas eve? I love this movie and would watch it any time of the year, frankly!

The Preacher's Wife. This is a remake of The Bishops' Wife. It stars Denzel and Whitney Houston. It's a pretty good re-make and Houston's voice is amazing.

When Harry Met Sally. Okay, I wasn't sure where to put this. I watch it on New Year's Eve every single year of my life. It's my thing. I love it. I don't usually associate it as a Christmas movie but as a holiday film, but I'm weird. I am soooo Sally Albright. Not kidding. So I put it on this list my bad self!

Here are the movies I haven't seen-- and I have the guts to admit I am really embarrassed that I have NOT seen SOME these (I'm guessing you will be able to tell the ones that I'm , if you can imagine.

A Christmas Story. This is the one they run on TNT 24 hours in a row, right? Something about a sled a bb gun, a bad word, a tongue frozen to a pole and a leg lamp?

Ernest Christmas. No.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Jim Carey starred in this live version of the adorable Seuss tale but I've missed it. I might see it. Might.

The Nightmare Before Christmas. A Tim Burton animated movie. I've not seen it because I'm not sure I want my Christmas that skewed.

The Santa Clause 3. I saw this on a PS post, as a pinkie loving all three parts. I didn't know there even WAS a part 3! My bad.

Eight Crazy Nights. Is this a Hanukkah movie? I know it's animated and stars Adam Sandler and its plot revolves around holidays in December. And it's a musical. It scares me.

Holiday Inn. Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds are performers an inn that's open only for the holidays.

Babes In Toyland. Umm, about toys?

The Bishop's Wife. Cary Grant is yummy. I didn't know he was in this. I don't know why I didn't know. I need to see this. Cary Grant is like the Johnny Depp of that era. A bishop prays for guidance to get funds to build a new church and a guardian angel- Grant- shows up but his help isn't all that helpful. Or at least this is what I think it's a about.

White Christmas. I know, I know. I love Christmas, musicals, old movies, and dancing. I have no idea how I've survive this much of my life without it. I suck as a human being. I can't believe I've missed this Irving Berlin classic.

It's a Wonderful Life. Alright, you may now commence the throwing of objects since I've not seen the most classic of all Hollywood Christmas fares... I think my brother will kill me when he sees I haven't seen this since it's one of his favorite movies of all times, starring one of his favorite actors of all time, Jimmy Stewart. And my bro is a prison guard and KNOWS how to kill people. I'm dead meat. (SisIL- don't rat me out, please!)

This year I vow to see some of these. At least one. Maybe two. Or all. So, everyone, when you're done flogging me, tell what is your favorite Christmas/ holiday movie?


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Swap on Pink Saturday, plus a movie! And please vote!

Happy Pink Saturday! I have a two fold post today. First, Beverly the host of the PS event at How Sweet The Sound has given a theme of "favorite Christmas movie" to share this PS. I will be getting to that, I promise. I have to do some pink business first.

I participated in a Christmas Swap. I received the most wonderful and cutest package from the blogger of Happily Ever After in Seattle. Look at all the sweet and wonderful, and thoughtful goodies I received! I can't say thank you enough- thank you thank you thank you! What a wonderful treat to come home to!

Thank you again for such wonderful pink pretties!!!! And a special thanks to Lisa Marie at This Girl Is... for hosting such a fun event!

As for my favorite Christmas movie... well, it's a bit non-traditional, like me. The Holiday is a romantic comedy starring Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Jude law and Cameron Diaz. I love this feel good, sappy Christmas fare.

In Shoes We Trust,

Oh and voting! I just found out I made round 4 at being nominated for one of the best blogs of 2010 at The Blog Guidebook (click here to vote!). Please go vote for me! I can't believe I'm still in the running- how flattering! Thanks to all who voted before and who will be voting!

*I apologize for the crappy picture quality. I took them with my phone because I have a video on my digital and it timed out uploading. So, I'm sorry for these horrid shots of such pretty things!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Food

I'm starved, hence a post about Christmas food. Okay, I'm always starved or hungry or eating which is why I am huge right now, or at least I feel huge right now! I'm also writing a list of all the yummies I want to fix over Christmas. Then I'm going on a diet.

Anyway, Christmas food. The best kind of food ever. I have so many memories associate with food and the holidays.

On Christmas morning we had a traditional brunch meal. Mom ALWAYS made the staples- bacon/ cheese casserole. My son eats almost a whole one all by himself. She also made a hash brown casserole, like the one they sell at Cracker Barrel- also some of the best food on the face of the earth. We had juice and coffee. We also had fruit salad, which can change continents yearly, but still a fruit salad of some sort. Once we even had fruit slush which we all loved, but I don't think that made the holiday menu again- it got deregulated to a lesser holiday, something like a Memorial Day picnic food. I might have to bring that back- okay, adding that to the aforementioned list! I will be recreating this meal on Christmas day, of course! And since I love you all, if you click right here it will take you to an old post I wrote that includes the recipe. I know, ya'll are probably tired of me praising this casserole but I can't help it. It. is. that. GOOD!

Then there's the sweet bread. This is the only reason to have breakfast/ brunch on Christmas morning in my family, in my opinion. This must occur before gifts are unceremoniously ripped open. This is the true meaning of Christmas...Okay, not really, but this is seriously the world's most perfect food. Without a doubt. This is most perfect coffee cake in all of history. Jesus could come to Earth and eat this cake and know it was better and more miraculous than walking on water. He would've fed this with the fish instead of loaves- the story would be "fish and coffee cake." Sour cream coffee cake. It's so good I could eat a whole one by myself. And if you think I'm kidding, well...I wish but no. I LOVE this stuff. I look forward to it all year. This is the most moist cake ever. It is the perfect blend of cinnamon and goodness and just...Heaven on a plate. I swear to God if I had to pick between a lifetime of going without chocolate or the coffee cake, I would put Hershey's out of business. It is a true toss up between coffee cake and sex as to which is better and I think coffee cake wins. Seriously, this is some fabulous baked goods. Momma made it in a special pan with a hole in it- not a mere bunt pan but some other special coffee cake baking dish. And it MUST be served on the cut glass crystal pedestal cake plate that is never used the rest of the year. This pan and this plate enhance the taste and enjoyability of the sour cream coffee cake as a whole. I dig this coffee cake. You know when you were a kid and said "if you love it so much why doncha marry it?" Well, show me where to sign... Bliss. True bliss. I love Mac more, but barely... And now I have this recipe and I can make it myself. I've done it and it turned out just like mom's! And since I love you all, and since I've written about this food before, you can click here to go back to an old post for the recipe!

We always had special foods like munchies and appetizers on the day when we would decorate the house. Why did those taste better when eaten with an associated activity like decorating trees? Once, I ate little hot dogs in sauce at a Super Bowl party and they just tasted wrong, like I violated the Christmas Food treaty or something.

My Grandma F (the good grandmother) always made a tureen of wassail to drink. It was sooooooo good. I think it was because it was in a tureen. How often do you ever really get any sort of food out of a container called a tureen? Doesn't that just class it up some how? And calling is wassail- rather than hot apple juice? Com'on ya gotta love it! A tureen of wassail- how cool is that? And served in special matching cups, to boot! She always had cheese and crackers too. There was an orange cheese spread that I loved. It was an unnatural shade of orange- almost a day-glo orange that isn't really in the color spectrum at all. I loved this cheese and again, we only had it at Christmas time. I remember a few years ago I went to the market with my mom (obviously when she was still alive) and we were reminiscing about the cheese at Grandma F's (yeah I loving reflected back on a past cheese experience- how weird is THAT?!). Since she passed away, there was no more orange cheese spread. I was laughing about how I always craved it around Christmas. And you know what? My mom, being the all knowing goddess about these types of things because she was just that sort of super prepared person, told me it was right there in the store. In a normal store- a mortal Kroger's!We just went right up to a display and there it was. It came in a JAR! Cheese in a jar is just unnatural, I realize, but this stuff was 1980's Frankie Says Orange so how natural could it be to start with? It is Kraft pimento Cheese spread. That's all it was. And for years I thought my Grandma F had the market cornered on some special Christmas Cheese from a special Christmas Cheese Store. Wonders never cease!

My mom also had an amazing cookie recipe for cut out holiday cookies. The kind you roll out and use cookie cutters and stuff? I love these as well. One year mom made a huge batch of these and they were on a pretty lil' holiday plate on the coffee table. The family adjourns to the dining room for brunch on Christmas morning (or as I like to call it "Sour Cream Coffee Cake TIME"!) . After the meal we return back to the living room and the entire plate of cookies is gone. Now this wasn't a cute little "Santa must've eaten the cookies" thing. This was a "where the Hell did all the cookies go" thing!?! Come to find out the dog liked the cookies too, to the tune of an entire plate full. The coffee table with the cookies in the middle of an empty room and just at her eye level proved to be too much temptation and she polished off the whole thing. Whilst Bro and I debated killing the animal, dad help her flee to the backyard for her safety. Mom, however, being the brilliant woman she is, pulled another bag of cookies from her hiding place and we again had cookies. Bro and I guarded them, almost smacking Daddy-O's hand as he tried to pilfer one-oops!

I must mention the pumpkin roll. About 15 years ago, I guess, mom found this at a bazaar or at a bake sale or something and we all thought we had died and gone to pumpkin heaven. It was cold bread or something like that with cream cheese frosting all in a roll, then chilled and sliced. This was some awesome stuff. We loved it so much that the next year mom called people in town until she got the recipe out of some woman. Bro and I were ready to kick some tail if this chick wouldn't have freed the recipe. So needless to say, we add pumpkin roll to the ever growing list of foods I forever associate with Christmas. (An aside: I love cream cheese frosting. The world is good when there's cream cheese frosting. There would be no wars if we covered all soldiers in the world in cream cheese frosting. Hand me cream cheese frosting and I promise to love you forever...or until the frosting runs out...! Life is better overall with cream cheese frosting!).

Yes, I realize this is mostly sweet yummys. Yes, I realize it's a lot of calories and junk, but it's Christmas. And I like it. I love it. I want some more of it. One side of my family is from the south and food goes with everything- funerals, celebration, surgeries, stopping by while on a Sunday drive, you name it, we eat regardless of the event- have gall bladder surgery and the family has a carry in (and ya'll get something covered in mushroom soup, in addition to a jello-mold with fruit in it!). So it goes to show that at Christmas time we are so gonna indulge and pig out. It's part of my heritage and cul-ture! And I love food. So hand me the sour cream coffee cake and nobody gets hurt!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Busy busy busy!

I've been so busy! I know it's partially the time of year, but I feel like I'm super busy even when not doing holiday stuff.

This week alone I've had Mac's choir concert and tonight is his band concert. I had to sort all the Alcatraz Prom pictures with the photographer last night. Monday night I helped ITSam- he needed a ride to his son's band concert so I did that ('tis the season to be nice, right?). Something every night this week!

Friday we're going to help Daddy-O decorate the rest of the house for Christmas. I committed to working an extra secretary shift over the weekend. I promised to take Princess Christmas shopping Sunday, which is a good thing since I haven't bought a single gift! (Thank goodness I have a list of what I want to get!). XRay Girl wants to have dinner one night this week, I haven't seen Curly socially in a month, and I only could see Princess for 2 hours the other night.

Additionally, I promised Mac to help him with a HUGE paper that's due tomorrow and he wants to get some serious extra credit in Spanish class so he needs to MAKE a pinata. Are you kidding? I offered to just buy one, but that's not allowed. I told him to ask Daddy-O for help since that's an art project.

Add to this a new job and then working extra as my "peripheral" jobs... ugh. I've been so very tired. I've been trying to make hats for the Alcatraz kids (with the help of my elves, thank you very much!), blog, read blogs, read books, relax, hang with friends and there's no time for anything. I'm really not complaining; I just feel so overwhelmed. I actually went to bed last night at 8:20pm.

The purpose of this post was originally two fold- to just say thanks to everyone who is reading me (and voting for me as one of the top blogs- please keep voting!) and to tell you that I'll be back to reading soon... maybe over Christmas break?

I could also preview a few other upcoming posts: Christmas food, my 40 things to do before I'm 40 (PLEASE more ideas needed!!!!) my new job, kiwi fruit debate, and the Christmas swap.

I do miss you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Living in a Barbie World

I wanted a Barbie Dream house when I was little. I was about 9 years old, maybe? I was totally into Barbie dolls. I LOVED Barbie. I had clothes and a horse for my Barbie. I had Barbie's dog. I had a Barbie camper. I had inflatable Barbie furniture that was in the ever so stylish shades of green, gold and orange. I had a car for my Barbie.

When it came to Barbie clothes, I was the queen. We had a super babysitter, a little old lady who sewed Barbie clothes and made peanut butter candy. She was so sweet. So I had the best Barbie clothes- homemade ones! And this wasn't stuff out of the rag bag- no sirree. My homemade Barbie clothes still were glittery satin gowns, a green velvet coat with a fur collar, and all sorts of dresses, gaucho pants (when they were obviously in style the first time around) and just every day wear. The benefit of homemade Barbie clothes was that Barbie could have matching purses and hair bands. She could have several outfits in the same material and she could have clothes for her little sister and her dog that also matched.

I also had an array of Barbies. I got one with bent arms when she first came out- ready to shake hands. I had one that I could really put earrings in her ears- but if she didn't have the earrings in, she had huge gaping holes. Hmm, guess now she would be in style and be without her "spacers", eh? I had an African American Barbie, Barbie's little sister Skipper and a Barbie baby. I had a Charlie's Angels Barbie doll- it was Chris since she was my favorite angel. I had a Fonzie Barbie too. It was Fonzie and he was so hot. But he was short so he could never date Barbie; he always dated Chris the Angel since she was short, too. I also had a Ken doll- two of them- one with brown hair and the traditional blond.

Back in the day Barbies weren't super expensive. I got some from my parents, at kids birthday parties, grandparents...I managed a good haul on the Barbies come birthday and Christmas. And if that's all you want and refuse to put anything else on your Christmas shopping list...Well, Santa did me pretty well.

But one year I wanted a Barbie Dream House. I poured over the JC Penny Wish book. I screamed for my parents to come in the living room whenever the commercial came on TV. I tried to build on out of cardboard shoe boxes but it never worked. I loved the Barbie dream house. And that year when we went to the K-Mart, there was one on display!!! A whole Barbie dream house put together and in a plastic display case. I about died. Right in front of me, so close but I still couldn't touch it, was a Barbie dream house, all in it's red and pink plastic glory. It was the most beautiful thing I could ever dream of, at that age. My Barbies needed that house. They had to have that house. They could no longer reside in the plastic pop up case with a Murphy Bed. They could no longer live under my bed. They could no longer have a conversational grouping of furniture on the carpet. They needed to move on up and live the dream.

I campaigned for the Dream House that Christmas even though it was $50. I wrote letters to Santa. I hung the picture on the fridge. I begged. I pleaded. I did extra chores. I flirted. I told Santa at the store and the Santa at church and the one at school. I told the entire free world that I was such a good girl that year and Santa really needed to help my Barbies and to please, please, please, bring me the Barbie Dream House.

On Christmas Eve we went to my grandparents for Christmas. It was tradition. We went every year and opened gifts they got us, we ate a meal and we went to church. It was usually a grand time. We always got some really nice toy and then clothes. That year we ate first. My Bro and I liked to race around the house to shake gifts and try to guess what was in there, but this year we weren't allowed to even go on the sunporch where the tree was. We were told had to eat. So we did.

After dinner we had to shut our eyes and we were brought in the room with the tree. And when we opened our eyes, lo and behold- THE BARBIE DREAM HOUSE! I screamed! I shrieked for joy! I jumped up and down! I kissed and thanked everyone, even my Bro, who was like 4 at the time and had no idea what was going on with his crazy big sister. I threw myself on the floor and was too stunned to move. My grandmother had arranged furniture in each room and I went screaming to the front door to get my Barbies I had brought along. (Where I went, Barbie traveled along- I mean, really!) I put Barbie in the house and then I noticed it. The difference.

Mine was made of wood! Mine had a front door that opened and closed and was a double French doors! Mine had real plastic flowers in flower boxes on the front! MINE had a stair case! MINE was really big! MINE had more rooms! Oh MY GODDESS! For a brief moment I thought that because I had begged so hard and wrote so many letters to Santa and prayed to Jesus, God and the Mattel creators, that the elves made a special one for me. Then it hit me- my grandfather BUILT ME A DREAM HOUSE!!! This man who was a master carpenter and built real life homes and made furniture by hand and carved wood designs and built kitchen cabinets from scratch for the rich people all over town built MY BARBIES a dream house. I was aghast, or would have been if I knew that word at that age. It was amazing. It was wonderful. It was special.

I played with that doll house for years and kept it in my room even as a teenager. I learned, as I got older, that he had gone out to the K-Mart and studied the house and the colors, then designed and made his own blueprint to build my Barbie House.

It was one of the best presents ever!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Undercover as an English Teacher

Did I ever tell ya'll that people in the Wild West, in the town where I lived, thought I worked for the FBI? Go ahead and laugh. It's too hilarious. Yup, me- an overweight, pink wearing, friend to Lady Clairol, shoe loving me working for the Feds. You people read my blog- ME and FBI agent???!? (And if you are new to my blog and reading this post as your very first one- welcome and it's about time you got here...Read some of the past stuff and you will totally see what I mean when I say I'm NOT an Federal agent!) I was flattered. Or impressed. Or scared. Or ready to use it to my advantage and have some laughs, as long as I don't get killed in the process since these folks do believe in the old adage of the "3 S's": shoot, shovel and shut up.

Some years ago near where I lived in the Wild West there was a dust up between some local extremists and the Feds. It ended peacefully after an 81 day standoff with the FBI, but people around there were wary of outsiders. This was also a ranching/ farming town and people there are really of the old Wild West mentality (I am dead damn serious here folks!) and they hated the government to begin with. Add their little encounter with Feds/ CIA/ ATF and other government employees a few years ago, and their trust of strangers was limited to none. And I was about as an outsider as could be.

Now think about it: I moved there with the only reason being I wanted to teach high school English and had always wanted to see the Wild West. That school, in that community, offered me a job so there I was. I had no family there. I was single (still am) and went there alone. I'm college educated and from what they considered a big city and for no good reason I came to smalltownsville, Wild West? Add this to the fact that I kept pretty much to myself and got lots of packages in the mail. (This has been observed as being unusual by the locals). I had no 'visitors' from home. At that time, I had no formal education in teaching, just 5 years in the college arena. And no one had any proof of any of this. They had my word on where I came from and my background. Anyone can put anything on a resume. Did I mention I was pretty closed mouthed about personal stuff when I visited the bars, almost amounting to being cryptic? I was also pretty politically aware and not afraid to voice that opinion. Oh yeah- and I'd been to big cities like DC, NYC and Boston and can talk with more knowledge of one who just went on a holiday but like someone who might have *audible gasp* lived there! These people decided I worked for the Feds. Most people still even thought it when I left, because when I left, I LEFT. No looking back.

It didn't help much that when I went to shoot a gun I had dead on aim. I mean I hit 11 out of 12 beer cans at 200 yards and 6 out of 6 Gatorade bottles at 350 yards. And it was the first time I ever shot a gun in my life. These folks didn't believe it after watching that display of marksmanship and the word got out. So, they all decided I committed some big 'wrong' while working in DC or at the NYC field office and was banished here. I swear to Goddess I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

It doesn't matter that I didn't look like a Fed- I'm not built like a Fed. I had great aim, I'm from a big city and I knew stuff. It was too funny. And because strangers came to town every so often and then leave suddenly without an explanation or a trace... Well, they thought I was a Fed, like these others were. (I have no idea if these others were Feds or not, but hey, who knows?) And see, I didn't circulate much with the locals- or get close to them. I had some teacher friends but that is to be expected- right? But when it comes to town folks, I had very few friends. And the people outside of school I kept company with (ie: read "men" here) was a guy who worked for the environmental branch of the government (what the hell is the ENVIRONMENTAL branch???) and a local law enforcement officer; they thought the only reasons I dated him was professional because I might need some help from the local cop shop- also according to the local rumor mill. The other guy I was associated with came from out of town and was supposedly working on a construction crew building a government owned building...You see the connection here? This is the stuff people talked about in the bars, at the grocery store and at the post office. I was become part of the local lore around there.

Why the FBI? That's simple: Since the skirmish that involved the Feds happened ended peacefully, some of those towns people involved were still around so therefore the FBI had agents in town undercover to keep an eye on these people so it didn't happen again. The FBI had the disaster in Waco, the Unabomber, and then Ruby Ridge so they wanted to make sure to never have an incident like that again so the Feds lived among the natives in order to prevent another siege. That is the thinking and the mind set. True or BS, who knows, but it's what the people there believed!

So there I was ready to protect and serve the country by keeping peace and teaching poetry to the masses in the Wild West. When I was home for Christmas that first year, I remember sharing this story with a friend, who, after his hysterical laughter ceased, decided I should screw with these folks. He said he was going to start sending me mail with simply Washington, DC and a long number typed as the return address. He swore he was going to give me a navy jacket with the bright yellow FBI. He said I should walk around and wear mirrored sunglasses and talk into my wrist. I thought I should have lots of handsome, sexy men visit me because then they could gossip that I was getting laid WITH a fellow agent! (I didn't know any men that fit the description but it would've be hysterical if I had).

I always wondered if there was a real agent around town. I would've loved to meet this person for giggles and grins. I certainly took a lot of heat off of him or her. I should've gotten metal or a check from the government for doing my civic duty!

And that what people in the Wild West talked about in the bars for a long time: their high school English teacher was really an FBI agent.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Lights

I was listening to the radio at work yesterday and there were several public service announcements touting different holiday light displays for people to see, which are all over town. This reminded me of Christmas light stories in the past. Yeah, it seems like have a story for everything when it comes to Christmas but I just LOVE Christmas. It is my favorite time of year.

When I was little, my family lived in a house that was 3 blocks from the courthouse. Our town's courthouse is on top of a hill and then downtown sort of lays at the foot of the hill and the courthouse stands over and guards it. Anyway, my hometown always puts lights on the top of the courthouse and turns them on the Friday night after Thanksgiving. So my parents would bundle up my brother and me and, if there were snow on the ground, stick us in a sled and pull us down to the courthouse. Then the four of us would stand on the sidewalk and wait for the lights to come on. It was like magic. No one else ever was around- cars would drive by but no one else ever stood out on the sidewalk and watched. We would "ooh" and "ahh" and clap and squeal when the lights came on. Then we would walk the 3 blocks back home, singing Christmas carols. When we got home, mom always made hot chocolate.

We always drove around and looked at lights, too. I remember that we would always be getting ready for bed and in footie pajamas and we would think we were going to bed and instead we would pile in the car, drive around Civilization and look at lights and there was always more "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" and clapping and squealing. We always found the houses that were our favorites and we drove past those many times during the season, and always went back year after year to see if they were the same.

Then my hometown started thinking and for a few years, the town council found out they could make it a town event- the lighting of the courthouse. The downtown businesses stayed open late and local choirs strolled around as carolers. The mayor did a proclamation, lots of folks gathered and sang carols. Hot chocolate was sold by local churches. Santa arrived on one of the local fire trucks. Candles were lit, prayers were said and then the lights on the courthouse came to life as do all the lights that decorate the downtown. It was no longer just me, my Bro, and folks standing on the sidewalk, waiting for the magic moment, but most of the town.

The parks department in Southern Civilization also does a "Walk Way of Holiday Lights" display. They set up huge holiday lights of all shapes and sizes. They move and sing. They are in all colors, shapes and sizes. Visitors may walk or drive a route to see all the different displays. The local radio station plays Christmas music the entire time. It stretches for several miles. Even as adults, we always piled in with my parents, in their van, with Mac and SisIL in tow, as well, and we drove over to see that display every year. We'd sing carols, laugh and have a good time. When we get back to home, we'd drive around and look at local lights, just like when we were little kids, sans pj's.

With Bro & SisIL having two babies and no more van, it's hard to all pile in to see the park display. The town council gave up the lighting ceremony. It's not even publicized when the lights will be turned on anymore; they just suddenly are. Times change and things change, but the good memories still linger on.

I think this year I'll grab Daddy-O, Mac and Princess and we can all see the park display, and then hit the Starbucks for hot chocolate on the way home. Start a new tradition.

Happy Holidays,

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The first snowfall

I love the first snowfall of the season. It's like magic. I love the fresh white blanket left all over the ground, making everything look clean and pristine. It's beautiful.

Falling snow also makes me feel energized. Happy. Perky. Smiley.

Yesterday we had out first "real" snowfall. Oh, we got a mere dusting earlier this week, but yesterday was the first big one, which really just amounted to about an inch but it sure was festive and pretty coming down, all those big, wet, fat flakes floating about. It was lovely.

Snow always reminds me of good childhood memories, like going sledding at our local park on a hill that, as a child I thought was HUGE, and now as an adult... well, not so much. Snow makes me want to run around in it, catching snow flakes on my tongue and making snowmen and snow angels. I want to be the first to run through a smooth surface after sitting and admiring the perfection of nature's canvass. I love waking up in the middle of the night to catch Jack Frost spreading his magic all over the country, under the cover of darkness, and going out to watch the snow fall on my hair in the silence and peace of the night. I love the quietness that comes with the snow fall, the whispering of the flakes as they fall, barely touching down.

When the sun shines on the snow and it glistens in the light, the world looks covered with diamonds.

With snow comes winter, of course and there are some things I still love about this chilly season and for some reason, the first snowfall always makes me love winter, and all that goes with it. I love my winter clothes. I love my short wool skirts, thick tights, chunky soled shoes that are cute and comfortable. I love my sweaters and turtle necks and wearing layers. I love my twill jackets, pink boots, and jeans. I want to wear my black velvet dress. I love wearing my long wool coats and all my pink scarves and stocking caps. I love the smell of wet wool.

I remember my first winter in the Wild West. It was so cold and my apartment couldn't get warm, it seemed so I had to wear a scarf and fingertipless gloves in my living room to stay warm. For some reason, it added to the magic of winter. Another night I sat in my pajamas and winter coat, drinking cocoa and peppermint schnapps on my front stoop at 2 am watching the snow swirl around me, dancing flakes, twirling flakes, coating me like sugar. Deer walked through my yard, sensing my presence and watching me wary eyes. I just sat and enjoyed the hauntingness, magic, of the moment.

I like that during the winter when snow is on the ground that the darkness isn't really dark. Even in the dead of night the moon lights up the snow, or the night just doesn't seem as dark.

The smell of the cold air is invigorating. I like the way it fills my lungs and smells like clean.

Snow on Christmas makes the day perfect. Snow around this time of year makes me want to shop for gifts, decorate, sing carols, and bake. Daddy-O installed in a fireplace, which makes the season perfect. I like the first snow so much I'll admit to liking the shoveling of the white stuff, but I like running the snowblower even more!.

Snow fall. The first of the season. Perfection.

Maggie the Snow Queen

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Although there was no frog at the manger...

I have always loved to perform. It’s in my blood. My dad sings (and so did my mom) and they both did community theatre and church choir for as long as I can remember. My earliest childhood memories have to do with music and performing. We would sing in the car whenever we went on trips even if it was 20 minutes out to my grandmother’s. We would sing in harmony. My parents carried a hymnal in the car and I learned songs like “Old Rugged Cross,” “Amazing Grace,” Man who Stilled the Water” and “I'll Fly Away.” I remember sitting on the piano bench next to my dad and learning the entire score to West Side Story and The Sound of Music when I was barely tall enough to climb onto the seat. I remember being granted permission to stay up late to watch a musical on television and thinking it was the coolest thing in the world.

Early on I wanted to be a famous actress or singer or be on Broadway. I wanted to be a STAR- in capital letters! I learned all the songs and dance steps to Annie and was going to be the next one. I loved to be in church plays, school plays and my entire family was in The Music Man when I was 8 years old and we did community theatre. I was Gracie Shin, the mayor's tattletale daughter. Being on the stage and losing myself in lights, costumes, music and the thrill of being someone else was appealing at even an early age and the magic wasn’t wasted on me even then.

When I was in second grade, my big break came along, or so I thought. Every year we had a Christmas musical. These weren’t the average run of the mill act out the nativity things either; the music teacher wrote, choreographed and assigned music to make a huge production with full blown costumes and staging. This year it was “Christmas in Sesame Street.” The tradition was, and everyone knew it, that the 6th graders got the big speaking parts with solos and all the rest of the grades, K-5 trooped on stage together as a class and sang a few numbers and trudged back off to sit in the front three rows and be quiet or go to the principal, for the rest of the show.

This magical year something different happened. All of the main speaking parts went to the 6th graders like normal; except for one role: Kermit the Frog. He was going to be in his reporter mode and interview Santa Claus. We had to audition. I have no idea why- maybe because the music teacher didn’t have enough 6th graders that year? Maybe because she knew us little kids had talent? Maybe because we were the only ones small enough to fit the costume but still learn lines? I have no idea but…I was chosen to be Kermit!! I also beat out my biggest rival- Gina G. She was a horrific child and my little 2nd grader persona hated her for whatever reason. I was so excited! I couldn’t believe my luck! I knew I was going to be famous! It was going to be my big break! I was going to get to be Annie on Broadway because of this! (I have no idea how my mind made the leap from our tiny town of 12,000 people to me being on Broadway, but…)

So I learned my lines. I practiced at home. I memorized them all. I got out of class for 45 minutes three times a week when we have full rehearsal. This was even better than I dreamed. I despised my 2nd grade teacher and I got to miss her class- it was like winning an academy award on top of getting the role! All the other kids were so jealous. I had a costume! I had lines. I missed class. I was cool.

Then the music teacher told me the other part. The play was going to end with everyone in the swamp where Kermit lived and we were going to have a big production number. We were all going to dance and sing to “The Disco Frog.” (Kermit sings this on the Sesame Street Disco album and Christopher Reeves performed this little ditty when he made a guest appearance on The Muppet Show. I totally showed my age here, didn’t I?) And because I was Kermit I had to sing and do a solo dance. *SWOON*. I was in the height of my glory and about ready to start writing my speech for the next Tony awards. This was the best thing to ever happen to me.

The show went great. I was great. I knew my lines. Everyone did really well. The kindergartners got through without any of the little kids falling off the stage and no one forgot their lines or music. I danced and interviewed Santa like a pro. It was amazing. It didn’t matter that I was hot and sweaty in my frog costume or that no one could see me because it had a hood. It was a wonderful night and the grand finale was a show stopper. I boogied around and did the hustle and the famous Travolta hand to hip then across to the air. It was phenomenal. People clapped and cheered. I was forever now ensconced in the theatre and my love of performance could never be stopped.

This is why my parents gave me something froggy for Christmas every year, ever since 2nd grade. Sometimes it’s a stuff animal, stationary with frogs on it, ornaments, key rings, music boxes, t-shirts, pajamas, a purse, whatever. For many Christmases, well into my adulthood, I always was given something with a frog on it for Christmas- not a Kermit, but a frog. That way I can always remember the year I was a STAR.