Thursday, December 24, 2009

A little gift from me to you

I know what you’re thinking “It’s Christmas Eve, don’t you have about a million things you should be doing? Why are you BLOGGING instead of stringing popcorn with your kids?” Well, duh! Of course I have things to do; I’m saving them till the last minute, ‘cause that’s how I roll. Thanks for your support.

I finished the first season of MAD MEN yesterday.  Yes, I had time to watch TV~LAST MINUTE, remember? All I have to say about that is~ how lucky is Peggy that she went into labor over Thanksgiving weekend? Actually I have a lot more to say, but I’m waiting on my friend to catch up so we can go to lunch and spend an hour talking about made up people and their made up problems, because we're mature like that.

You know what’s worse than a braggy Christmas letter? A mystery. Yesterday we received a card from some friends, people we used to see pretty often, but over time our contact has dwindled to seeing each other a few times a year (half of those being chance meetings at the grocery store). Their card came yesterday with no letter and a new return address—in another town. Can you believe it? No, neither could I. They moved, without telling me. I woke up in the middle of the night wondering what the story is, and feeling a little bad that I didn’t do a better job keeping in touch.

You know what’s BETTER than a braggy Christmas letter (besides EVERYTHING)? Also in the mail yesterday was a card from my husband’s uncle and his new wife. She used her holiday stationary to tell us how they had reconnected at their 50 year high school reunion earlier in the year; both had spent many years single. She wasn’t looking to remarry, but he told her “he wasn’t going to lose her again”, he relocated, they married, and they’ve spent the rest of the year traveling the world and being happy. It was very sweet and genuine. She could teach my Granny a thing or two.

This woman says she knew Tiger was a cheatin’ ho. WHO CARES?! What I want to know is~what in heaven’s name is she holding here? Please tell me that’s not some kind of reward for good golf. ~James, I know you know what it is, spill. I’m counting on you.

Am I the only one who remembers Xanadu? I loved that movie.  I'm thinking of introducing my daughter to the magic of disco and Olivia Newton-John on roller skates. What could possibly go wrong?

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

They're not dead yet.

One thing I especially love about this time of year is getting all of the cards and letters from people I don't get to see on a regular basis, I don't even mind the braggy ones, it's just nice to catch up.  For example in my mailbox this afternoon was this cheery holiday greeting from my Granny~

"Hope everyone is well. We are feeling some better today.     Think you often. Don't suppose I'll get to see any of you in my lifetime. We lost six in the family this year, so we are all getting older and don't get around much.

Love you all!
Granny & Uncle Melvin"

Yes friends this is the message, possibly the last she will ever write, that my grandmother sent to her favorite granddaughter this Christmas (I know I'm her favorite because even though she's on a "fixed income" she still squeezes out a $1 on my birthday---but don't tell my brothers she wouldn't want them to feel bad). It might be that you have know my granny to find this amusing, but trust me when I tell you she's not anywhere near death's door and she gets around to the Cracker Barrel just fine.  Oh, and Uncle Melvin- that's her husband who used to be her brother-in-law until her sister died.

ps~If you haven't read the post below and VOTED, what are you waiting for?

Imagine if she had planned to stay for 3 weeks

~originally posted Oct. 9, 2009~

While I was in Virginia my mother came to get me one afternoon so we could go out to dinner, as she backed out of the driveway she told me how a few months before she’d bumped the little brick wall on the the property line and how my brother keeps giving her a hard time about it. “I don’t know what his problem is; I offered to pay to repair it, I don't think he wants me to give him any money because then he wouldn't have a reason to tease me, he thinks he's so funny.”

“Did Todd (that’s my brother with the broken brick wall) tell you about my accident?”

“Mom….you just told me about your accident.”

“Oh, no, I’m not talking about the wall. My accident, the one I got into while I was staying at Granny’s house last month, did he tell you?”

Okay, he didn’t tell me, but I’m not at all surprised to hear that there was one, in fact, as she jerked the car back into her own lane for the 3rd time in 10 minutes I was starting to worry that my brother might be telling people about another accident soon.

“Well, it happened when I went to Indiana for the burial of Aunt Joanie’s ashes, which by the way was a lovely ceremony. Such a shame though, do you know that Jonny Pat died in July and his sister didn’t even come to the funeral? She always was such a spiteful girl. Speaking of spiteful, there’s this woman at work who I asked if she would trade me days off next week and she refused and I know it’s not because she has plans, she never has plans, she’s been upset with me since I told her that the earrings she wears are too flashy for work. Some people just can’t take criticism, but when you work with the public you have to think about these things, that’s why I always try to be conservative. I guess it doesn’t matter anyway; I’ll just have to reschedule my doctor’s appointment. Last month, when Jim {by the way, that’s Beautiful Jim to me and you and the guy that engraved his headstone} came to meet me in Indiana we went out to eat at this Mexican restaurant and I had such terrible heart burn after, I think I may have a touch of acid reflux so I’m hoping to get something a little stronger than Tums, but Jim didn’t get there until after my little incident”

She took a breath, so I risked it all and asked what “little incident” she was talking about. Let me just take a moment here to tell you, in the event that you ever find yourself trapped in a small space with my mother and shes controlling the conversation (and it goes without saying, that small space or not, she WILL be in control of the conversation), sometimes it’s best not to interject anything or ask any questions, I’ve seen it go terribly wrong. I think I was just so confused by then, with all death and heartburn and spite that I threw caution to the wind.

“The accident, I just told you I was in an accident. Weren’t you paying attention? I was on my way back to your Granny’s house after the funeral, you know, I was just so upset, I was really a mess. I know that everyone dies, the circle of life and all, but let me tell you, I’m just so glad I took that trip to Texas for Joanne’s birthday last spring I really would have regre…”

MOM! Tell me about the accident already.”

“I am honey, if you’ll just listen. So, I was driving along, and out of nowhere came this car into my lane, and they just barely nudged me but it was enough. Almost three thousand dollars worth of damage. It’s criminal what body shops charge these days. And that's a low estimate, we went to the guy who does all of Jim's bodywork so I think we got a pretty good deal. Anyway, it was this poor elderly couple and he just ran me right off the road. He didn’t mean to you know, I must have been in his blind spot, but let me tell you, my heart was pounding. I heard the old man tell the police officer that I might need an ambulance because I was so upset.” (I’ve seen my mother “post funeral” upset, I can only imagine what throwing an accident into the mix would do, that poor old guy probably thought she was going to have a mental breakdown on the spot) “This is the incredible part, Sue Ann, (she calls me Sue Ann when she’s trying to get my attention and let me know something is serious which believe me, by this point, was completely unnecessary) my little car was just out of control and I was gripping the steering wheel so tight and you’re probably going to laugh when I tell you this, but I know that the only thing that kept my car from rolling was that I had my suitcase in the back and it was so heavy that it kept the car upright.”

“Did the police tell you that?”

“They didn’t have to, have you ever tried to lift one of my suitcases? Honey, I was packed to a two week visit.”

*This post is an entry in The Great Experiment over at The Girl Who.  If you liked it, and you know you did, go vote for me, you know you want to. Voting opens at 9 a.m.  Naturally you should read the other entries too, and I guess you could vote for one of them if you were so inclined.  If I win I'll get my mom something nice for Christmas, it's the least I can do.  Thanks! Go HERE to read and vote.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The power of a one of a kind homemade gift

An early Christmas gift from someone awesome.

I don’t know if the picture does it justice, but this is my new favorite thing. I'm trying to only wear it every other day. For the right price I might be able to get you one, I'm tight with the designer.

Also awesome......

Chocolate Swiss Army Knives…..from Switzerland!!

Not so awesome~

Eating a pound of fudge by yourself.  Seriously. It was a bad idea.

Having a giant inflatable Homer Simpson in your front yard is stupid. I don’t care if he is wearing a Santa suit.

When my husband does this thing-“We need to stop making fun of people, we need start eating better, we should really watch less TV”. He means ME and I just think that's kindof rude.  I hardly ever make fun of people.

A wreath on your grill is one thing, but when you go dressing your car up like a reindeer, with antlers and a red nose, that’s where I draw the line. What’s next? Stick arms and a carrot nose? Come on, doesn't your car deserve a little respect?

*The cowboy shirt is supposed to be funny, it's a joke (a pretty darn funny one if you ask me).  My husband has just informed me that not everyone would know that.  Apparently there are some people who don't share my bizzare sense of humor. Go figure.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Christmas and we're all in misery

I had this SUPER GREAT idea this afternoon.  I said to myself "Self, you should do some holiday baking with your children this evening."  I mean after all, I did neglect them all weekend during my 48 hour craftpalooza and what could be more fun than an evening in the kitchen with your family listening to Bing Crosby and baking treats for your friends and neighbors? (Hindsight being what it is, I can now tell you, that something like getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick could be slightly more fun.)  So I hauled my sorry self over to the grocery store and grabbed a big ol' bunch of baking supplies, then I came home and told my kids about the fun evening we were about to have and somewhere around the very second I finished saying fudge they started fighting amoungst themselves over something important like who ate the last Boston Cream Pie yogurt. You know, matters of life and death and all.

I didn't let that stop us.  We plowed ahead.  Instead of listening to Bing we watched Christmas Vacation and despite the fact that the bikering continued all blasted evening we baked those damn cookies and made the stinking fudge, and then we packed it up and shared it with our friends and family, and by golly we were so HAPPY!!! Just full of holiday joy.

Holy hell Christmas is fun.

Prepare to bask in the glory of my craftyliciousness

This weekend I completed 6 pairs of pajamas, 1 batch of fake food, a tiny apron, and two fabulous crowns.

Now is the time to thank your lucky stars if you're on my gift list, and if you aren't, to find a way to get there next year. 
I know what you're saying.  You're saying "Sue, don't cha know you can buy a pair of pajamas at Target for $7 and a whole big box of fake food for $10?"  To be honest, I think it's really sad that you guys would say that to me.  You poor souls obviously don't know about the true spirit of Christmas.  The true spirit of Christmas comes from creating the "perfect" gift for those you love the most so they will be able to tell that you love them the most, because nothing says "I love you the most" like a one of a kind handmade gift.

Feel free to use my ambitious example to set the bar for yourselves. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The tree is (finally) up...

....and decorated (mostly).  Hopefully this will put a stop to (or at least slow) all of those rumors about me being "the worst mom EVER!"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas cards GAH!!!

I was not not not going to send a letter. No siree. I’d had planned to write a personal note to those too old or too stubborn to join us here in the future and send everyone else a link to our family blog. Ho ho ho! If only I had the inner strength, but I don’t. Nope not one stitch of ability to fight the flow. So, after an hour deciding on the card design, an hour of updating the mailing labels, 4 hours writing 2 versions of the holiday letter (one for those with a sense of humor and one for those poor souls without), another hour begging everyone to stop complaining and just sign them for crying out loud (my husband insists on real live signatures from each family member on EVERY single stinking letter), and finally another hour at the post office, where for the love of civil servants at the MAIN BRANCH there was only one very relaxed hippie type postal employee “working”, our Christmas cards are in the mail.

Praise be. Now I can move on to my totally realistic list of gifts to make with my own two hands and the tiny bit of sanity I still possess.

I love the holidays.

Are they kidding?

I'm sorry, but this is the most annoying hokey, and unfortunatley OVERPLAYED Christmas song EVER.  Don't listen, you'll regret it.  It will get stuck in your head and play over and over all day until you are nearly insane and willing to pay money to have the Charlie Brown song replace it. 

I warned you.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Am I the only one who remembers this?

Back in the olden days when I was but a girl, we always watched Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas.  I think it was on HBO.  My husband had never heard of it (they didn't have HBO, he couldn't even watch that liberal ol' Captain Kangaroo, poor kid) and my kids think it's dumb, but it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me until I've forced everyone to watch at least once.

They'll thank me someday.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Totally Awesome Books to Give as Gifts

I love books. Really really love them. A friend once told me that food was the only thing she didn’t ever feel guilty buying because you HAVE to have it. That’s how I feel about books, I never feel bad about buying them. You can have your silly old groceries; the things I can’t live without are books.

This list is by no means complete, I could have gone on and on, it has taken great restraint to keep it this short. I tried to list books that would make good gifts, It would be great to hear about your favorite books to give (or receive) so please comment away.

Due to lack of space and the fact that it would have taken me all day to write the sort of descriptions these books deserve I’ve linked everything to amazon.com so you can take a look for yourself if you’d like.

And the categories are~

“If I’m going to read to someone I’d like to enjoy it too.”

Olivia~ What can I say? She’s some pig.

The Outrageous Bodacious Boliver Boggs~This book is out of print, but is usually available used on Amazon. One of our kids checked it out from the school library years ago and it quickly became a favorite bedtime story.

“Not a little kid, but not too surly yet”
Ramona the Brave~If they met on the playground Ramona would trounce that dumb little Junie B. Jones with her horrible grammar.
The Mischief Makers Manual~ Our boys received this as a gift from the best aunt & uncle in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. The 11 year old has been studying it intently trying to master each level of mischief so he can advance to the next. He’s currently saving his money so he can buy chocolate flavored laxatives to use in his holiday treats. We're very proud.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid~ Shrieking hilarious.

“Teens are impossible to buy for, but let’s give it a whirl anyway, shall we?”
The Book Thief~ This is a young adult book but I really think it’s good for anyone over probably 13. It’s a holocaust book so it’s fairly serious and dark, but the story is so moving that you can hardly put it down.
Catcher in the Rye~ I asked my sons which books they like enough to read more than once. One looked at me like I was nuts and asked “Why would anyone read a book twice?” But my favorite child suggested this one. His copy is worn out from being carted around in his backpack.

Uglies~I have not read any of these (it’s a trilogy) but I have it on good authority from girls in the 14-17 set that they are not to be missed.

“Fiction for Grown Ups”
The Help~ If you haven’t read it already, what are you waiting for? Also, unlike some of the books I enjoy, this one is free of anything questionable that would keep you from giving it to your grandma.

The Ladies Auxiliary~ A great story about tolerance and group dynamics.

This is Where I Leave You~ Probably not the best choice for your grandma, the humor is a little dark, the relationships are complicated, there’s swearing, oh, and a tiny bit of sex. You know, the kind of book you want to stay up all night reading.

“Non-Fiction for Nerds Like Me”

A Voyage Long and Strange~ I haven’t read anything by Tony Horowitz that I haven’t enjoyed. He's informative and entertaining all at once.  I bet he's great at parties.

Manhunt~The story of the hunt for John Wilkes Both, this is on my nightstand, I haven’t read it yet but it comes highly recommended.

“I like to eat, but cooking isn’t my thing”
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook ~ I don’t have this book (so maybe if my husband asks you what to get me….), but my sister-in-law does and from what I’ve seen it’s super groovy. I don’t especially enjoy cooking and I’m wary of trying new recipes because you never know how they will turn out. This book takes care of that problem. Everything has been tested and the best method is what you get, along with helpful tips and equipment advice. There's a baking book too. Just what I need!

There you have it. The books you should buy for everyone on your list.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lemme just fetch you another percocet honey

My daughter is on a field trip today.  I didn't go.  I wanted to.  I love field trips, especially now that she's 9 and there's all that girl drama between her and all of her friends with their pre-hormonal mood swings.  I was going to go, but then something came up.

My husband threw out his back, I hate that phrase "threw his back out", you know what my granny calls it? Down in the back.  It makes me laugh, makes me think of going out yonder to grab some clothes off the line and some okra from the garden.  I'm going to start calling it that, because when your husband is down in the back you need a laugh. Otherwise you're just driving him to the chiropractor and fetching ice packs and propping him up and plying him with drugs all day and I hate to seem uncaring, but after 6 or 8 hours of moving that ice pack "just a little more to the right", I start to get a little cranky.  I'm small like that.

Tomorrow I'm posting my Totally Awesome Books to Give as Gifts Guide.  It's going to be, you know, totally awesome.