Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Well, this IS my lucky day!

I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a remarkable letter. I've posted it here, with my initial thoughts noted in red.

*****

Urgent Reply Needed!

From: DR.ANTHONY EMMANUEL.
Central Bank Of Burkina-Faso (BCEAO)
Ouagadougou-Burkina Faso

Attn: Please, (Been thinking about changing my name to something easier…"Please” has a nice ring to it.)

This Message Might Meet You In Utmost Surprise. (And How!) However, It's Just My Urgent Need For Foreign Partner That Made Me To Contact You For This Transaction. I Got Your Contact From Burkina Faso Chambers Of Commerce While I Was Searching For A Foreign Partner. (I can’t tell you how many contacts I've had since joining the Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce – what a great networking tool that has been!)  I Assured Of Your Capability And Reliability To Champion This Business Opportunity When I Prayed To God Or Allah About You. (You prayed to God Or Allah? Maybe both? About me specifically? How nice. I didn't get you anything.)

I Am A Banker By Profession (thank you for clarifying this, so many banking hobbyists out there) From Burkina Faso In West Africa (West Africa? Can I catch ebola through email?), And Currently Holding the Post Of Manager Of Bill And Exchange At The Foreign Remittance Department; Central Bank Of Burkina-Faso (BCEAO)(Your business card must be huge). I Have The Opportunity Of Transferring The Left Over Sum Of $10.5 Million Dollars That Belongs To Late Mr Rudi Hermanto From Indonesia Who Died Along With His Entire Family In The Tsunami Disaster In Indonesia And India 2004 And Since Then The Fund Has Been In A Suspense Account. (At least Rudi and his family didn’t live till 2014, and  die painfully in the ebola epidemic. AmIRight?)

After My Further Investigation, I Discovered That Mr Rudi Hermanto Died With His Next Of Kin. (Well, After MY further investigation, it seems that Mr. Rudi Hermanto from Indonesia was perhaps less than faithful to the Central Bank of Burkina-Fasso. Apparently he had USD$500K in the African Development Bank. Can we get that too?) And According To The Laws And Constitution Guiding This Banking Institution Stated That After The Expiration Of (6) Six  Years, If No Body Or Person (Body OR Person? Does it have any stipulations about the Undead?) Comes For The Claim As The Next Of Kin, The Fund Will Be Channel Into National Treasury As Unclaimed Fund. Because Of The Static Of This Transaction I Want You To Stand As The Next Of Kin So That Our Bank Will Accord You Their Recognition And Have The Fund Transfer To Your Account.  (You want me – a middle aged white woman who has no Indonesian ancestry or connection whatsoever – to stand as the next of kin? Yes, that probably won’t trigger any alarms or throw things into probate.)

Hence, I Am Inviting You For A Business Deal Where This Money Can Be Shared Between Us In The Ratio Of 60% For Me And 40% For You. (How did we arrive at this? I’m worth way more than 40%. Have you SEEN me?) And Any Expenses Incidentally Occurred During The Transfer Will Be Incur By Both Of Us. The Transfer Is Risk Free On Both Sides (Of course it is. Why would I even question that?) Hence You Are Going To Follow My Instruction  Till The Fund Transfer To Your Account. (Are you ordering me around? Hey, I don’t know what those bitches at the Burkina Faso Chambers Of Commerce told you, but I am NOT a pushover.)

Further Details Of The Transfer And Text Of Application Form Will Be Forwarded To You As Soon As I Receive Your Return Mail And You Should Contact Me Immediately As Soon As You Receive This Letter. (Yes. I’ll do that. Because this is a miraculous opportunity!)

Your Full Name.... (the one I tell people, or the one the govt. uses to track me?)
Your Sex..... (I’m married, so… it could be more often if I made the effort.)
Your Age.... (On file with the Burkina Faso Chambers Of Commerce.)
Your Country…. (is #1!!)
Passport / Driving License…. (I’m afraid I don’t photograph well. Will a selfie do?)
Marital Status… (see above sex question.)
Your Occupation…. (On file with the Burkina Faso Chambers Of Commerce. But, you can be assured of my “Capability And Reliability To Champion This Business Opportunity.” Since God, or Allah, assured you of this. Who are we to question?)
Your Personal Mobile Number….. (Would this be my license plate number, or the bib number from Run for The Cure in 2010?)
Your Personal Fax Number…. (Oh honey, nobody faxes anymore.)

Trusting To Hear From You Immediately (Wouldn't it be nice if everyone in the world was more trusting?)

Kindly Contact Me Back through Email dr.anthony_emmanuel@yahoo.fr 
Regards,

DR.ANTHONY EMMANUEL. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

When it hits me...

DD2 completed elementary school recently. In our district they finish in 5th grade – and go on to middle school for grades 6 thru 8.

About a month before DD2 finished, a thought hit me…
“She missed it. She missed all of it.”

In the Spring of 2008 my mom died. April 27th.  Her funeral was that Wednesday. And that Friday, May 2nd, was Kindergarten Orientation.

My baby’s entire elementary school experience happened without her here. From not being able to discuss her first day of school hair bows, to not laughing about school performances, to phone calls from DD2 to her Ammie about incredible happenings, to my needing to ask her advice about teachers… all of it. Without her.

An entire chapter in my daughter’s life has passed since my mom had to go away. Every chapter after will occur without her Ammie here to share…so much has happened within our family during DD2’s elementary school years. It simply doesn’t seem possible that so much has taken place since she has been gone.

My friend, Mrs. Nielson, was so right when she told me, “It never hurts less. It does hurt less often.” Even though our lives did return to normal after she died - and we don't perhaps feel her missing so constantly -  sometimes? “It” hits me like a truck. 


Sunday, April 27, 2014

5th grade Science Fair: The Parent Project

Ahhh, the Sunday Panic before this week's science fair. It never gets old.

I hypothesize that the real question is...
by which number child (ie; first, second, third, etc.) do the parents 
realize that TWO WEEKS would be a better time frame for getting 
the child to do a less stress filled, better quality science fair project?

Child #1 (DD1):
Weekend before = Chaos 
Not too stressful, as an entire weekend to run the experiments proved sufficient for child #1's project. Child had time to complete write up, print, and glue information / pictures / graphs to board by themselves, but only just. Glue MAY have been wet on display board as Science Fair was beginning.

Child #2 (DD2):
Sunday before = Greater Chaos (because the parents forgot how involved this actually was... and had plans all day on Saturday).
Mother to spend time during Monday or Tuesday typing and printing up the information which child is busily compiling with Father on Sunday evening. Some frustrated yelling in the kitchen has ensued. Glue will for sure still be wet on Thursday for Science Fair. Consider variable of using quick dry glue stick.

Child #3: this variable is lacking in our household. Suspect two possible outcomes:
Outcome #1: Start experiments two weekends ahead so there was no last minute rush = Happiness
or
Outcome #2: Night before Science Fair would be dubbed "sufficient time necessary" = Child in tears at 10pm when experiments not yet complete, parents sitting in living room Googling "results." Presentation board simply drawn on old Christmas boxes taped together by mom while child sleeps (using the only two markers she can find in the house), and spelling mistakes go uncorrected. (Let's face it, spelling mistakes go unnoticed until board arrives at school.)

Therefore, I conclude that - no matter how many children the parents have - this never gets easier.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A significant new metaphor for the mommy generation...

I had my hair cut today.  I have needed a haircut since approx. mid January... but kept having to reschedule.  This time I just didn't even bother with  my regular salon.  I have a friend who cuts hair, she's awesome, and the only reason she isn't my regular stylist is because she's my friend and when I get the itch to switch I would feel bad about leaving her.  I love her. You shouldn't love your stylist like that - it's just bad manners to do the bitch-switch to a good friend.

Anyway, I was explaining to her what my normal stylist does, and how she gave me a few more layers last time after she saw that when I came in to the salon I had left my hair wavy because I was in a hurry that day. I'm explaining how I like the extra layers because it makes it easier if I'm in a hurry or don't have to look so great I can just throw some aveda curling product in it and run. 

Her interpretation?
"Like yoga pants for hair."

By far the most brilliant and perfect metaphor I have ever heard.
Ever.
She's like the Aristotle of hair.  I love her.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Homework's little helper...

(DD2 missed math today because of doctor appointment.  Tonight she had the classwork as catch up work, plus tonight's homework.  Six pages of math, between 5 and 10 problems per page.  I'm bleary eyed after a long day, and then I have to teach her the days lesson. My thought is, 'She's bright. She can probably do most of it herself.  A few quick words from me and she will sail through this.'

WRONG.

DD2: "Mom, how do you write 2784 in expanded notation as the sum of multiplication expressions using powers of 10?" 

Me: (crickets)
              :
        (What....the....)
              :
      "I have no idea what that means." 


Seriously? Was that even in English?  She didn't read that right....she couldn't have read that right...
...Oh my god, she did read that right.

And then it hits me, I don't have to die a slow, painful death while my brain melts over the way the questions is worded.  I have a SECRET WEAPON. How did our parents every manage to help us with homework when they didn't have the Secret Weapon?  The Secret Weapon of Maths Mass Destruction... the Secret Weapon that lets us know, "OH! They're talking about expanded notation with exponents of 10! Why didn't they say so?*"

THE Secret Weapon:
Interpreting Ridiculous Homework Instructions for Parents Since Sometime Around the Year 2000.
 
 
*Honestly, was the person writing the math book being paid by the word or something?

Monday, December 3, 2012

My drama queen

DD1 likes to be on stage.  When she was little she'd go through an entire year of ballet and tap just to get to the recital.  While I believe it started out as a love for the costumes, stage make-up and flowers, it has ended up with her liking to perform on stage.  Which, as a mom, is fun to watch. 

Her school does two plays each year.  A 'regular' play in the Fall, a musical in the Spring.  She doesn't sing, so she didn't want to do the musical. She does realize she has a flair for the dramatic, however, so she likes to do the drama/comedy/non-musical play in the Fall.  When she tried out this year, since she made it last year, I figured they would give her at least a small part. On the day parts were announced I was excited for her - even though it was going to be rough going on her time-wise for a few months.  I was also a bit worried that maybe she didn't make the play.

Our conversation at school pick-up went something like this:

Me: "So, did you get a part?"
DD1: (almost in tears) "Yes."
Me: "What part did you get?"
DD1: (humiliated) "I'm a 19 year old pregnant girl."
Me: (knowing this was a play that had something or other to do with the Titanic, and now I'm feeling bad because she is crushed at the part) "You mean like a maid or something? Do you die? Don't be sad."
DD1: "I don't know if she was a maid.  I live, I'm Molly Brown's best friend."
Me: (I started smiling, because I've seen James Cameron's version of Titanic maybe 25 times. I know from that clue who she has been cast to play.) "Honey, what is your characters name?"
DD1: "Madeleine."
Me: (and I know what I'm about to tell her because there are a couple of snarky remarks made about this 19 year old woman in the movie and they stuck with me) "Would your name be Madeleine ASTOR?"
DD1: (looks amazed) "How do you know that???"
Me: "Madeleine Astor was the scandalous 2nd wife of a very famous man, John Jacob Astor."
DD1: "So?"
Me: "You play a woman who is married to like the richest man in the entire world at that time. You play a society woman, and she was in all the papers after the Titanic sank.  Her husband died on the Titanic. One of the richest men in the world from one of the most well known families in the country at that time."
DD1: (Perks up) "Really?"
Me: "Yep."
DD1: (Beaming) "Well, that's a pretty good part!"

Sure.  Pregnant widow at 19... a pretty good part!  So there you go.  Smiles from the tragedy of the Titanic... I wonder if James Cameron would have ever guessed his aside remarks from characters in a movie he directed would make my daughter so happy?  Also, my gift for trivia seems to come in handy somewhere other than a board game... we're all winners here!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What's in a name?

So DD2 turns 10 tomorrow.  My kids always like to hear stories about when they were little, or have you tell them thing about themselves - even more so around birthday time when they are particularly self involved (as only the young can so innocently be).  Today over oatmeal we had a fun conversation.

DD2: Did you like when dad picked out my name?
Me: Yes.  It was on our agreed upon list.  When we met you it seemed to fit.
DD2: What does {her name} mean?
Me:  'Cruel.' It means 'Cruel and bad mannered.'
DD2: No it doesn't.
Me: Yes, It does.
(and then I giggled over my bowl of oatmeal, which blew my cover.)
DD2: (huge smile) You're not funny.  What does it really mean?

I blanked.  I have no idea what her name means.
Because the second child gets the shaft.
I know that my first daughters name is Hebrew and means, "Grace" or "He (God) has favored me".  We were careful with her first and middle names that they were strong, sounded good with our last name, and that they looked good on a resume. I had always loved her name and since I was young I had wanted a little girl with that name.  Husband and I discussed this name and boy names at length with our first pregnancy. Naming our child was a responsibility we took very seriously.

DD2 was named over email correspondence.
What?? We were busy.

I emailed a list of names to Husband. He edited, added, and return emailed. Back and forth over several weeks when we had time. Seriously, I wish I had kept the thread, because there were comments from Husband like, "the girl that cuts my hair likes {name}" (so that name would go on the list) I would send things like, "My sister (the kindergarten teacher) said we shouldn't use {name} because there was a girl in her class one year called {name} and she always bit people and smelled bad" (and remove another name from the list).

Oh yes, such depth of meaning and careful consideration went in to picking her name. Looking back I'm surprised "Afterthought" never made it on to the list.

But when we went to the hospital to have her we had four name combinations that we really liked:
Catherine Grace (who we would call 'Cate')
Grace Elizabeth (Because DD1's name means "Grace", and so they would match)
Julia Catherine (thank you to girl who cuts Husband's hair, she liked this one)
Eleri Grace (yes, Eleri is NOT a common name - and no way was Husband ACTUALLY leaving the hospital with a daughter named Eleri... but it was so cute when said out loud with our first daughter's name that I wasn't removing it from the list.)

Also? It was Husband's turn to name the baby. I was the one who named our first daughter - I had picked out her first name and we went from there.  Husband got final decision on this baby.  I was totally OK with that, and liked the idea of meeting her first.  About 15 minutes after she was born he said, "I like the name {name} for her."  Which surprised me, because I thought he was favoring a different name on the list.  But I had to agree - the name he chose fit her.

Even if we had ZERO idea of what it meant.

That's right - we never stopped to look it up.  Which I didn't realize until this morning. 

So I grabbed my phone, found a baby name site on the internet, and looked up her name. She has a very pretty name, so I'm expecting to find something about beauty or strong moral character.

Me: (after reading the meaning) Uhhh... its Latin and..... well? I have good news and bad news.
DD2: Huh?
Me: According to the name finder it means, "Down-bearded youth."
DD2: What is that?
Me: I think it means that you may get your Italian great-great-grandmother's moustache, but if you do at least it will be very soft.
DD2: (blankly looking at me)
Me: Oh wait - right here it says, "Youthful."
DD2: Youthful?
Me: that means "young".
DD2: I know. 
Me: So, you got that going for you. Finish your breakfast.

What's in a name, then? 
I'm not sure. 
But when you look at my second daughter?  The one with the dark hair, fair skin that never tans, blue eyes, high cheekbones, and freckles?  The one with the sparkle of mischief in her eye that could only be because her 11th Great Grandfather on my mother's side was half Leprechaun?  Perhaps we should have listened more closely to DD1 when I asked her all those years ago...
Me: What should we name the new baby?
DD1: (then 2 years old) "Fionna." 
To which I replied: "No. That is WAAAYYY too Irish!"

Turns out?  Not so much. I just checked and Fionna means, "Fair, white, beautiful." 
Go figure.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

REMOVED FROM SITE!!! Party "GAME" sold by Urban Outfitters

UPDATE:  As printed on the Urban Outfitters Website... "We're sorry. This product is no longer available."  YAY!!  And a huge THANK YOU to Urban Outfitters!!!!!

And Thank You 9News for following up on a tip from a concerned viewer!!  You guys rock!

Please note: The party game mentioned in this blog entry and the one linked from Facebook is not manufactured by Urban Outfitters.  They sell this game.  My issues is that they have marketed this game to their demographic in such a way that  I feel it may encourage violence and reckless use of guns, and I would like to see it removed from their product offerings.  The maker of this game is Can You Imagine, inc. (www.cyi.net) - and I'm not suggesting you boycott their products either.  In fact, they make some pretty cool stuff it looks like.  I'm contacting Can You Imagine, inc. regarding this product also.  They may not have any idea that members of the general public find this offensive and disturbing.
**********

I find this so highly offensive that I am at a loss for words.  (Well, not exactly - I just don't know how else to get my point across.)  THIS is a "GAME" being marketed by Urban Outfitters right now:


A "GAME" called "Party Roulette" that retails for $16.00.

I am not an anti-gun advocate.  My husband owns several guns, and I do not want anyone to think what I am saying here has anything to do with the 2nd amendment.  What I happen to be disgusted with is that Urban Outfitters is selling a game of Russian roulette to young people.  How is that in any way responsible marketing?  Of course this isn't a real gun - but this is just so outrageous I can't sit back and not say anything.  I have kids; I appreciate when consumer advocacy groups create a backlash when inappropriate clothing is marketed to underage kids.  I don't agree with sexualizing our youth, I also don't agree with making a party game out of Russian roulette. 

LOOK AT THAT PICTURE!

I'm not conservative. At all. I'm understanding that retailers make mistakes. A bit of the response Urban Outfitters has received in the past has been nonsense in my opinion. I like the idea of a shirt proclaiming the support same sex marriage, and I don't at all mind that they showed two girls kissing in their catalog any more than I would mind them showing a guy and girl kissing in their catalog. Kissing pictures can be done in good taste. Most of the adverse reaction, however, has been pretty well earned. The pro-booze shirts and "USA Drinking Team" shirts marketed to consumers under 21 were in bad taste.  Color options listed as, "White/Charcoal, Obama/Black" can only be thought of as disrespectful. And they do show an anti-Semetic bent at times which is absolutely unacceptable (if you click the following link it will take you to the article outlining the ways they have crossed the line on this):  ' "If Urban Outfitters is good at something, it is getting publicity," says Ami Cohen, an American Apparel employee in Tel Aviv. "This company has a history of coming into conflict with Jews." '  (This link is a list of "11 Urban Outfitters controversies" posted by The Week in August of 2012.)

But this isn't a t-shirt.  This is a party game.  So will people be as outraged? This isn't something that our kids will be wearing - it's a game that may end up at parties they attend. Out of pure curiosity, I searched Russian roulette, and this popped up, "Teenager dies in game of Russian Roulette - the THIRD death in U.S. in four months."  This was published two days ago. This isn't fun. This is tragic - and there is a game that is basically selling it as a joke to our teenagers and young adults.

It is my feeling that this needs to stop. I don't know how to organize a recoil in response to offensive product marketing - but I'm ready to learn. I'm so offended that I'm taking this to the "court of public opinion" as my nephew phrased it. In the same way it is not OK to mock racism, offensive to mock abuse of any group, and outrageous to promote the sexualization of young people... it is barbaric to mock the senseless violence that is reckless abuse of guns and violence. The game, the picture, the mocking... it is distasteful, insulting, and ghastly. From what I can find on the internet, they have stopped selling products in the past which the public has let them know to be controversial or offensive.  I would like to see that happen here.

You may not agree with me. I respect that. Please respect my feelings too. I would be happy to expound on why I think this is so very reprehensible if someone needs more clarification.

In 1964 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when making a clarification on how to tell when something (pornography) is an obscenity, "I know it when I see it."

How do I know when something is profoundly offensive? I know it when I see it. This goes way past good natured fun - I don't expect to see Waterboarding become a party game, I wouldn't support blackmail being featured on a late night infomercial... and I think that turning the idea of Russian roulette in to something frivolous is not only reckless, but dangerous. And for me the fun stops here.

What I suggest certainly isn't a boycott of Urban Outfitters - but perhaps an email to their Chairman, CEO, President Richard Hayne.   richard.hayne@urbanout.com   If Mr. Hayne doesn't know of the consumer displeasure with a product, he can do nothing to correct the problem.  Certainly I wish he would pay closer attention to what his company is selling - and look at it from a more conscionable point of view - but since this slipped by him? I think letting him know would be a good first step towards getting things like this off of popular websites that teens and young adults frequent and where they are influenced. I like a lot of the fashions they have on their site - I can see why my daughter would like being an Urban Outfitters customer (with mostly her parents money).  But I'd feel a whole lot better about her shopping there if I didn't see such huge examples of bad judgement and gross disregard for the danger that is gun mis-use being displayed where she shops.  To make Russian roulette in to a fun game?  Is sick. 

So, please spread the word - join me - contact Mr. Hayne.
 Or tweet. #urbanoutfittersaction
Blog.
Talk.
We can make a difference!

Dodi
Twitter: @dodim
Gmail: mail4dodi@gmail.com
Or, leave me a message in the comment section. 

THANK YOU




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shock and Awe...

OK, I'm aghast.

Shocked.

Appalled.

(What I'm not, however, is speechless...)

Found on the site hostessbrands.com:

Hostess Brands is Closed.
We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets. For more information, go to hostessbrands.info. Thank you for all of your loyalty and support over the years.


If you have eyes and ears you heard the news yesterday.  It's unbelievable.  Hostess?  Gone?  How can that be?  How will life as we know it play on?  To you it might just be snack food - an unhealthy harbinger of obesity and childhood cavities.  But I was a child of the 70's.  I hit the age of 5 in 1970, and never looked back.  Twinkies?  Yes please!  Hostess Ding Dongs?  Those yummy chocolate cream filled treats that were individually wrapped in aluminum foil?  Don't mind if I do!  Sno Balls!  Come on - SNO BALLS?  Those pink, furry looking marshmallow covered snack cakes?  Say it isn't so!  Childhood without tasting a bright pink Sno Ball?  (And spitting it back out, because ewww!)

Really?

One simply does not "grow up" without Hostess. 

Think about it.  Fruit pies?  What was a slumber party in the late 1970's without hostess fruit pies? For goodness sake, I think I ate Hostess Cinnamon Rolls three times a week in high school for lunch. (They were sold in the cafeteria line. Heck, in the winter time they'd even warm them up for you.  YUM!)  And how does a large family even BEGIN a long road trip without packages of Donettes flying around the car?  (I preferred the waxy chocolate, but there were also powdered sugar and plain if you liked.)

Possibly the worst tragedy of this entire event?  The crippling fact that may bring this country to it's knees?

Next week is Thanksgiving. 

And what do you do the day after Thanksgiving??

You eat a turkey sandwich for lunch!  Leftover white meat, mayo or Miracle Whip (depending on where you grew up and how insane your parents were for thinking that Miracle Whip wasn't the ONLY choice to be made here), maybe you slap on some of the leftover cranberry sauce... and you make the sandwich on WONDER BREAD.  It is the only time of year we buy the soft white bread that reminds us so very much of our childhood.  Wonder Bread is the bread that pops in to your mind when someone references "White Bread", right?  Soft, squishy, bland, perfect white bread.  And I cannot fathom a day after Thanksgiving turkey sandwich without it. 

Guess what Hostess owned?  That's right kids... Wonder Bread.

This?  Combine this with the fact that war is encompassing our world, global warming, natural disasters at every turn, erotica (lady porn) ended up on our National Best Seller list, the Kardashians are more successful than ever, and Gangnam Style has been unleashed.

People, how do we trust our future to people who will never have been exposed to Twinkies? Never tasted a Ho-Ho? Won't recognize the iconic loops of white frosting on a Hostess Cup Cake?

The only conclusion we can reach from all of this?
The Mayans may have known what they were talking about.
 I expect Zombies any day now.
Zombies who would rather eat brains than day-after-Thanksgiving-turkey-sandwich on wheat bread.

Word.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

DD2: Fashionophile

DD2 just gave me a 3 minute dissertation on how wearing the right boots can cover up a fashion faux pas.  Like wearing pants that are too short.  (Specifically about pants that are too short, in fact.) She was well prepared, I'm surprised she didn't have note cards.  Instead of an expected power point presentation?  My darling daughter had thought outside the box.  She had dressed the part, thus providing me with real life visual aids. 

Now I wonder two things:

1) how long has she been planning this little "intervention"? 
and
2) which outfit of mine prompted the need for her fashion wisdom?

Friday, September 7, 2012

When things are not right with the world...

I make wishes on falling stars, on birthday candles, and on soft, white, puffy dandelions.

And I wish for extraordinary things.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I'm forgetting what that felt like...

August 10.
That morning... the last time I was happy. 
Really happy, without a cloud waiting in the wings.  Not that I could see anyway.

It seems like a really long time ago. 

It wasn't.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

NOT helping my Karma situation any...

I have a feeling lately that Karma is on my tail.  And not in a good way.  If this is the case?  I didn't do myself any favors today.

Today I decided to stop the store on the way home from school drop off.  Grocery shopping, pick up a prescription... aren't I on the ball? 

Well, yes.  Until I get back out to the parking lot with a cart full of purchases and not one clue where I'm parked.  I drive a grey Acura MDX - the most generic car of the last 10 or so years... there are seriously thousands of twins to my car out there.  At least 5 in every parking lot.  Today, after walking straight to the second of the matching cars I'd decided enough was enough.  I've been under a LOT of stress lately.  I had no patience for a lost car - especially when I was the one that lost it.

So, what's a person to do when looking for a car in a parking lot during the daylight hours? 

Hit the Panic Button. 

Ummm, yeah.  Not my best idea. 
Because my car was about 12 feet from me, in full view. 
Also in full view?  A toddler and her mom. 
A toddler that was passing directly behind my car as the horn started to go off.
A toddler that was so freaked out by the happenstance that she shrieked as her body lifted from the ground.
A toddler who landed FACE FIRST on the pavement right behind my car.  As she looked up?  Her face was a little scraped and she was sobbing. As I walked past them, exchanging a look with the mom that said "why is the horn going off?", I saw her hands were scraped too.

I?  Did not stop.  No WAY right now do I have it in me to deal with that mom.  Because that mom would have GONE OFF on me (rightly so), and I did not feel like being yelled at in a parking lot.

I walked on by, turning in between a couple of cars, where I stayed crouched and hidden until she loaded her toddler up in her car and left. 

I am a coward.
OH MY GOD. 
It's like I just invited Bad Karma to the prom, and offered to pay for the entire evening. 

Damn.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I look at her...

Right now I am constantly looking at DD1.  Because when I saw her performing on stage - confident, beautiful, graceful, fun, serious - I can see a glimpse of who she will be when she is older.  Not what she will be doing, but snippets of what she will be like.

I will start by saying that when my daughter is in her stage makeup?  She is gorgeous.  Which I know is a weird thing to think when she is 12 and I don't want her to grow up so quickly and I totally mock the Toddler and Tiaras crowd. I always think she's a pretty girl, I'm her mom.  Realistically I know (read: hope) that she won't wear as much makeup in real life as she does on stage, but I can see what it does for her eyes and how it shows off the fullness of her lips (which I would love to have, alas - she did not get them from me) and I know she'll wear makeup when she's older like we all do... and having a glimpse of that is kind of cool. It's probably cool to me because it is temporary.  I'm sure later I'll wish I could see her fresh faced again and wish she didn't always wear makeup.  It seems there is no pleasing a mom!

There is a "look" my daughter does... she's been doing it since she was tiny tiny tiny, and to me it is so very "her".  When I remember her being little, this is one of those "looks" that I see.  She looks up through the tops of her eyes, but it isn't an eye roll.  It's one of her thinking looks - she used to do it a lot when she was talking or telling a story, now I only see it occasionally when she's talking about friends or school. She does it when she dances, and I'm so glad she does. Because for a fraction of a split second she is my little girl again. She has no idea she does it, it is one of those completely unconscious moves that one does that makes them unique. It makes me smile.

When I watch her dance I see that she isn't always in the right place at the right time, but she makes adjustments quickly.

When I watch her dance I see her being in front of people doing something very personal that could be judged, and she is comfortable there.

When I watch her dance I see that she is willing to work hard and doing so brings her joy.

When I watch her dance I can see that she is growing up, but still retains things that make her "DD1".  Things that are a part of who she will always be no matter what.

I look at her...
My daughter.
My amazing daughter.
I love you more than you will ever know.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Whisper


Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three.

Anywhere but here
Anytime but now
Anyone but me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One of those magical mornings of childhood...

Sometimes "special" breaks out without even a moments notice. 


"Mom, can we have a tea party outside?"
Sure...  so I sent out cups, saucers, small plates, cookies (freshly baked yesterday, thank goodness that today I'm the mom with good snacks), and the neighbor kids set up the picnic blanket. A 1/2 gallon of pink lemonade later and an impromptu tea party has broken out on my front lawn.

I love that.

I love that we have neighbors that my kids will have such special memories of, that are a huge part of their childhood.  They run back and forth all the time, but sometimes for just a short while it's extra special. Something that they will share with their kids when they talk about being kids themselves.

My next door neighbor kids lost their grandfather last night.  I'd like to think that for a moment he and my mom were next to each other and looking down at their grandchildren having such a wonderful, innocent, honest moment of being sweet kids... one of those unplanned moments in life that is just so happy.  And they will smile at each other.  Because is there anything grandparents love more than their grand kids?

I truly believe that this moment of special was brought to us today by the Universe.  Because sometimes as a mom the most special moments don't happen to you directly.  They happen when something blossoms in your children and you get to watch.  From the shadows, but you get to watch. 

And then it's over. 

I'm guessing that moment of peace and quiet and friendship and sharing will shortly be replaced by a water fight.  Because that? Is what Summer Break is all about.

(In Memory of Jerry Warren Gilman: September 24, 1941-July 17, 2012. Thank you, Mr. Gilman, for giving me my friend Jen.  She and her family are such a blessing in our lives.  You have earned your rest, enjoy eternity with your Heavenly Father. Give my mom a hug for me, and thank you for sharing your stories with me. I love that you remembered so much detail about meeting your wife! One of life's great romances.)

Friday, July 13, 2012

You'd think by now I'd know...

Why, in the middle of the night, when I am suddenly woken up by someone standing over my bed does it never (ever) occur to me that it might be one of my children?

Why on EARTH would it be an intruder? 
It's never been an intruder.
Are there many intruders who are under 4' 10" who run around in nightshirts and messy hair?

And yet, my first thought is never "Oh, just one of the kids".  It's always "(GASP) WHAT? WHO ARE YOU?"  Sure that the waking poke was from a knife (which might not be the case if I made them cut their nails more often), I'm certain with every fiber of my being, for that split second in which I first notice that someone is standing over me trying to wake me up, that I am in mortal danger. 

And then I'm cranky, because really?  Being woken up by an intruder is scary.  Trumping any nightmare they might have just had, which is probably why they are standing ominously over me, poking me, trying to wake me up.

You'd think I'd learn.  But no. 
Tiny little intruders with teddy bears, calling me mom. 
Clearly you can see why I'm terrified.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The 80's to the rescue!

Hmm, yes.  I'd scream too if I saw this on mom's bathroom counter top...



 How is a mom to handle this when dad is out of town?  Probably the same way she'd handle it when dad was IN town - since being the CEO of Bug Killing makes him roll his eyes.  First? You panic.  Because even though it was maybe only an inch long, it's still a centipede.  And GROSS!

Then?  You grab THIS...


The good thing about having my formative "hair" years in the 80's is that you can still to this day find a can of extra strength hair spray in my bathroom.  ALWAYS.  This is non-negotiable.  And, as it turns out, quite handy.


Then you grab the water glass that is always in my room (and there is always a water glass in my room.  Sometimes several.  I'm a big forgetter when it comes to taking them back downstairs), and empty the stale water in to the sink. You SPRAY THE HECK out of that stupid centipede... and they're kind of fragile looking so I thought the hair spray would act more quickly... but that thing ran all the way around the back of the sink before starting to stiffen up.  I may have been screaming "Die! Die!", but there were no witnesses to confirm.

Then?  You cover the hairspray engulfed creature with the glass and leave it to die a slow or quick death.  I'm not sure if the Big Sexy Hair fumes affected him the way they seem to affect my dog.  Which is to say she makes a huge production of leaving the bathroom when I spray my hair, like I've done something to personally offend her.  Whatever.  You leave it to die.



I'm guessing this thing should probably stay there in his "death curl" for at least two days before I dare to raise the glass and quickly smash him with a wad of Kleenex - because what if it's NOT dead?  Do you KNOW how hard it is to get dried super fabulous hold hair spray off of the counter tops?  Better safe than sorry. 

So, in the end I think we've all learned a lesson. 
And you might want to apologize to me now for making fun of my hairspray addiction. 
The line forms to the left.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Infuse this

I'm annoyed.

Which will come as no surprise to those who know me, as I'm generally at least a tiny bit annoyed by something going on around me.  But I can hold my tongue no longer.  I heard something on television today that raised the hackles on my back like a cornered porcupine:

"Lemon infused water." 
Used to describe this...


Oh, so by "Lemon infused Water" you mean LEMON WATER? 

I seriously am SO SICK of things being "infused" with other things.  We don't have flavored vodka anymore, we have infused vodka.  Flavored olive oil is now infused.  Strawberry shortcake is now made with "sugar infused strawberries".  Are you kidding me?  This is as out of control as the word "repurpose" was a few years ago.  Whenever a designer on television moved a dang chair it was "repurposed."  Shoes were repurposed as planters, hardback books were repurposed in to jewel boxes, mens ties were repurposed in to pot holders... it's still happening, only now they call it "upcycling." Because to say, "I'm using this cowboy boot as a planter" isn't really telling the whole story, correct? They had to say, "I've repurposed this cowboy boot to use as a planter", and today it would be, "I've upcycled this boot for planting."  The latter is actually the most confusing - don't you just love progress.

To drive home my point that this infusion infestation has crossed the line, I'm going to share with you that there are water infusion recipes out there.  Go ahead, Google it... I'll wait.  (Or click HERE, and really? It's water with food floating in it. Surprisingly there are no recipes for "Water infused with Ice." Because the leap to that from simple Ice Water is staggering. Are you sure people don't need a guide?) 

So, now that we've become addicted to the concept of INFUSING, I expect that before long we will see the following changes:
Loaded Baked Potatoes = Jacket Potatoes infused with butter and sour cream
Tide with Bleach = Tide infused with Decolorizing Agents
Pastel Pink = Red infused with White
Vacation = Entertainment infused Travel
Intravenous Plasma = IV Solution infused with Electrolytes
Old Age = Youth infused by Time

To leave it plain is to accept it as less than it could be?

Honestly folks, I'm not against things being slightly ostentatious.  I'll pay more for a label, I'll admit to some pretension about parts of town people live in, and I buy the expensive shampoo and conditioner.  I do.  You got me.  I'd rather wear a pair of Stephen Bonanno sandals than ones from Target, and I wish my diamond was from Tiffany & Co.

But the second they take my "Damage Remedy" shampoo and label it "Moisturizing Shampoo infused with Damage Repairing Nutrients"?  I'm switching brands.  Because at this moment in time? I'm infused with annoyance...

at least I'm not "mad" anymore. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We need to start working on her endorsements

I'm not sure what happens at your house... but on the "next to last day of school", the day when they empty out desks and lockers?  We experience what is known as The Dump.  The Dump occurs when the child walks in the door, and immediately dumps whatever is contained in their armloads of collected stuff just inside the doorway.  Sometimes this is by the front door, sometimes by the garage door.

Yesterday my middle school daughter happened to come in after school through the garage door.  This is her yearly Dump - and I have to admit that it is an incredible effort. 

If this were a dive? 
I'd have to name it a Forward bi-directional layout with a full outward twist. OR, the DD1 Dump for short.

Notice how, when the pile of crap gently used school supplies hit the floor, they spread both towards the powder room and towards the stairs?  Notice how - with remarkable degree of difficulty - the crap gently used school supplies have actually turned the corner and started up the stairs themselves?  I'm telling you, this is Olympic level Dumping in it's most highly trained, world class form. 
Elite Dumping, if you will.

Score from the Irish/English/Italian Judge:  8.5

You GO girl!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

My favorite name

So, before I had kids I was pretty certain that IF I had children, things would be a certain way.  I thought, for reasons of simply not knowing any better, that I would have control.  I would get to decide how this parenting relationship would go.  My children would be an example of put in a little effort... do the right thing... the results would speak for themselves.

And, just as surely as I would emerge after childbirth saying to people, "I had no idea it would be that painful, no one ever told me" (although in hindsight it was really more that I hadn't listened when they spoke because really?  How bad could it be if people kept doing it?), I was slapped in the face by the reality of parenthood. 

This shit? 

Is HARD.

When you are pregnant, your women friends who already have babies will try to tell you that getting that baby out of there is going to be difficult and painful.  Some women are born to give birth.  Well, OK, most women are born with the ability to actually GIVE birth... but some have an easier time with it.  Their bodies handle pain better, their minds control fear better, and their reproductive systems seem to know better what to do at the right time.  Then you have the rest of us.  And by "the rest of us", I mean pretty much all but like three people that I personally know.  The ones who tell you, in their sly way as to not scare you, "Keep an open mind about that epidural."  Because to take a class in childbirth is to believe that pain relief is something that is truly optional. And I suppose, if I were in a third world country, even considered a luxury.

I'm here to tell you that for me?  Epidural was not optional.  Oh, I thought it was.  I knew it would be "painful", but people have been doing this literally FOREVER, which is why we're all here.  If it was that poorly designed surely someone would have caught on and stopped this madness.  Right?  Anyway, until you experience some things you simply do not have a frame of reference for the situation.  Like not knowing that you were going to feel physical pain the first time your heart was broken.

Childbirth redefined pain for me.

Motherhood redefined love.  And patience.  And creativity.  And madness, boundaries, relationships, judgement, sleep requirements, etc.

Before I was a mom, seeing a child acting out in public?  Not on my watch.  Not gonna happen.
Before I was a mom there was a lot of that going on.  Not my kid, I will never let that happen, no way is that happening when I have children, oh how embarrassed they must be... you know.  Judgy stuff.

One thing that used to drive me nuts?  When a child over the age of about 3 called their mom "mama," and when a child of over about 6 called their mom "mommy."  NO FREAKING WAY.  I was not having that.  That is ridiculous. 

And then I had kids.  Two daughters that - oh, they take my breath away.  How overwhelming is the love, the protectiveness, the anger, the applause, the emotion, the everything.  The absolute everything of being mama. The irrational warmth of being mommy. 

My kids are 9 and 12.  And I am still "mommy."  To them both, when they are scared or need me at night, or want to crawl up for some evening snuggles because we just love each other?  I am "mama." 

I LOVE being mommy.  I LOVE being mama.  I hope that never stops.  I'm hearing "mom" a lot more now than I used to, especially from the older one... but the others aren't gone.  I hope they never go away. 

Because before I was a mom?  Well, I don't even know that person anymore.  She thought she had so many answers... answers that I don't have even now.  The difference is that now I know the questions are out there - and "pain" was not the only word redefined by giving birth.  The word "never"?  Ha Ha Ha!  The only time you can use that word when you are a parent and have it be true is when you acknowledge that you NEVER know what having kids will bring.  And while some what they bring is really tough, a lot of what they bring is really great even if it started out tough.  And some of what they bring is just happiness and greatness the entire way through. 

So on Mother's Day I will admit to the world that my favorite thing in the entire world to be called is "Mama".  Because that was the first things my babies knew me as, who I was to them when they needed me most. 

The me before I had kids?  Not so smart.  Not so wise.  Not so "Mama."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happiness is...

Do you know what Monster High dolls are?  No?  Let me give you a quick primer: they're about the size of a Barbie, but they're teen-aged children of the "monsters" we all know from literature and movies.  Dracula's daughter is Draculaura, Cleo de Nile is the daughter of The Mummy, Gholia Yelps is the daughter of a Zombie, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?  Well, Jackson Jekyll is the son of Dr. Jekyll and Holt Hyde is the son of Mr. Hyde. You get it.  The list goes on and on.  It's pretty clever actually.

DD2 has wanted the "Monster High Abbey Bominable Doll with Pet Wooly Mammoth" since October.  You can probably guess that Abbey Bominable is the daughter of the Yeti.  She is a foreign exchange student at Monster High - her native language is "yetish".  DD2 adores this character. She wore the Abbey Bominable costume for Halloween.  She has been searching for the "original Abbey" since she found out about her last fall. We have been unable to find it for less than about $75.00 - which, no.  I'm sorry.  Not going to happen.  Wanted to get it as a surprise for her at Christmas, but the price only went up. 

She got an amazon gift card from her uncle for Christmas - and she's been wanting Abbey.  She checks regularly on amazon.  She gets discouraged regularly too.

So, about two weeks ago we were looking on amazon, and I noticed that - while not the original - there was a character from the "Skull Shores" series.  (Oh, they have different "series" of each dolls: the original dolls, "Dead Tired" slumber party series, "Sweet 1600" party edition dolls, "Skull Shores" beach series, etc. This could be endless.)  Abbey the actual doll is the same, but no pet woolly mammoth, and the outfit is different.  HOWEVER... they sell additional outfits for the dolls (of course they do), so that they can have even MORE series options - but without having to buy new dolls each time.  There is a "School Clubs" series of outfits, of which Abbey is a part of the Snowboarding Club.  (Of course she is.)  SOOO, I pointed out that if she got the Skull Shores Abbey, and the Snowboarding outfit, she could still have a "winter" Abbey, just not the original.

She loved the idea.  So I helped her with the purchase (she still has some money left over in her amazon account now, bonus), and the shipping instructions said 2-4 weeks.  So I told her that she'd probably have them in time for Spring Break.  Not what she wanted to hear, but she's waited this long... what is another two weeks.

Or, as it would turn out, FOUR DAYS.  Abbey showed up in our mailbox in 4 days.  COUNTING the weekend.  Not special shipping or anything.  I think the "company" selling this toy through amazon must be a garage based business down the street from us or something.  Crazy.

BUT, what a wonderful surprise.

Then, since the doll arrived so quickly, she started checking the mail EVERY DAY for the package that was the winter outfit. 

So cute.  Watching her check the mail box every afternoon. Made all the cuter because this wasn't a present from someone... this was something she had purchased with her own money.  Which made it all the more special for her.

And then?  On Wednesday?  It happened. 

She and I arrived home, she ran to check the mail, and shouted, "It's here! It's here!  My package.  It's here!"  Then, with arms full of package and mail, she ran for the house.  I hope I never forget the image of her, the back of her anyways, running through the garage and repeating, "I've been waiting, and it's here!  Abbey will be so excited."  Just so cute.

She dumps the armful of mail on the table, and with a huge smile grabs the scissors and opens the big padded envelope that is her package.  Addressed to her.  Then, with a giant smile and look of wondrous anticipation, she pulled the doll outfit out of the envelope and did a little happy dance (which still looks like 'the potty dance' to me, so I get confused sometimes), and hugged it to her chest.

If I had ever wondered what pure joy looked like?  There it was, right in front of me.  And I will never let that image out of my head.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SO not that old!

Dear Classmates.com,

Sending me a message "See YOUR yearbook from High School!" was a nice thing to do.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the message and found out that the yearbook in question was from 1970.  As I had not yet started Kindergarten, I'm fairly sure my picture will NOT be in said yearbook.  Please adjust your records.


Very truly yours,
Dodi.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Two Women

I never imagined, when you met a few years ago over coffee, that your lives would intertwine is such a way.  My sister-in-law, "K", and my good friend, "M".  In the last two days you have both lost someone significant to you.  "K" lost her older sister yesterday, "M" lost her best friend today.
I'm thankful you are both in my life.  I'm thankful that you were interested enough in the person you had gotten to know over the internet that you wanted to meet for coffee.  I'm thankful that my family and my friends sometimes mesh, because it's so cool for me. What I'm not glad about is that something so sad has happened in both of your lives...and so very close together.

I am thinking of you both tonight.  Sending you both so much love.  Shedding tears for your sadness, and wanting you to know that a shoulder to cry on is simply a phone call away.  May God and time ease your pain, and may you know that there are so very many people that love you.

*****
Molly Mahoney: Are you dying?
Mr. Edward Magorium: Light bulbs die, my sweet. I will depart.
*****

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Don't be afraid



I want my daughters to know that if you don't show the world who you really are, how will anyone recognize what is so perfectly perfect about you?



Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's 2012!

It was a good year in 2011.  We survived a tsunami (not that we were in any real danger, but HEY... we were in a tsunami evacuation. How many Colorado girls get to say that??) Along with that, our first vacation in Hawaii. Which our kids LOVED. DD1 took to the ocean like a dolphin, DD2 discovered how much she hates sand in her pants. We all loved shaved ice, and Husband's family was the perfect addition to paradise. 

In 2011 DD1 started middle school, and has had a wonderful time. DD2 is in 3rd grade, and is growing up so fast it's amazing. Honestly, she's not a "little kid" anymore. Weird!

Sadly, my aunt died in 2011.  Although I'm sure heaven counted 2011 as a complete success because of it happening.  My uncle, my mom, their siblings, her parents, their aunts and uncles, cousins, friends... that sound of trumpets and rejoicing wasn't in your head. You could hear them from here. No one I know had more people waiting for them there, and at the same time left so many people here to miss them and think about what a positive impact one person had on the world. The world is a better place because she was here.

2011 was a year that I made a lot of decisions about my personal future. Ending some relationships, but keeping the important relationships in my life close to my heart. There isn't enough time in the day for hate, jealousy, and things that hold you back. People who don't want the best for you, and for whom you don't want the same in return? It's best to put those relationships aside.

2011 was a year of learning. I learned that tearing the kitchen apart just before Thanksgiving was a bad idea, although to be honest I think that was an outcome I probably could have predicted without actually doing the legwork. I learned that I'm never going to make the Christmas Card mailing cutoff date... so from now on its going to be Happy New Year cards only from here on out. I learned that I should have taken notes three years ago when oldest daughter was in 4th grade math, so now that youngest daughter is there it wouldn't cause me to rip the rest of my hair out. (Would that we'd had three children so that I'd have had a chance to get something RIGHT for a change.)

2011 was the year that Husband and I celebrated 13 amazing years of marriage together by taking the kids up to Breckenridge for the 4th of July weekend.  We enjoyed the time away so much we now think of it as a family tradition, and are already planning the trip to Breckenridge for our 14th anniversary.

2011 was a year of lots of travel for Husband, lots of driving for me. It was also the year that we decided we needed to be serious about either planning a move to the part of town where the kids schools/activities were, or move their schooling/activities this way. We'll let you know which decision we went with in 2012. (There are actually plans that go in both directions, we've got some thinking to do... but that we've started putting things in to place to help us make these decisions is a big step for us.) 

2011 was a year when we had some really special house guests, the time we spent with all of you was awesome. 

2011 was the year my oldest daughter FINALLY got to experience a Harry Potter move on the big screen. (If you haven't read the books, you don't get to see the movies!)  She managed to get through the last two books in time to see Part II of book 7 in the theater opening weekend, and I was so psyched for her! Her BFF got to join us, as she'd put the book work in too.

2011 was the year I returned to work.  Part time, but I made the leap.  I like the company, work with very creative people, love my boss, and I think 2012 will be a good year work-wise for me. I'm excited.


2012 has a lot to live up to... lets get this party started.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas Beaver

Some families have very normal traditions.  An angel on top of the tree, a special Christmas Eve meal, a story told around the fire during the holidays.

Our family, too, has a tradition - although not as conventional.

Ours, you see, involves a Beaver.

A scented Beaver.

THIS scented Beaver:


It's a little blurry here, but you get the idea.

Probably 7 or 8 years ago, my friend (JS) and I went to a holiday craft fair.  In the 16 years that I have known JS, we've missed this craft fair only twice.  Every couple of years we go crazy and make some less than stellar purchases, caught up in the excitement of getting ready for Christmas.  This particular year, 7 or 8 years ago, was one such year.

We happened upon these darling women who had some very unique crafts going on - they had taken stuffed animals and dipped them in scented wax.  So, they looked sort of like resin animals, but smelled really good.  I, wanting something "Christmassy", concentrated on the animals with Santa hats and smelling of cinnamon, cloves, evergreen - you know... Christmas smells.  There was this really cute little Beaver, about 4 inches tall, and darling.  This was my purchase.

A scented Beaver.

The ramifications of which would not hit me until about a week later.  When I mentioned to someone that they should smell my Beaver.  At which point I knew it would become a Christmas favorite.

Which it is.  Particularly of my young daughters - who have no idea on earth why this is as funny as it is.  They love to bring out the Christmas Beaver, giving it a place of honor each year on the piano.  Which is always funny, but now makes us howl with laughter.  (And here is where our newest Christmas Story begins...)

Once upon a time JS and I took our daughters with us to a Holiday Craft Fair that we try to hit every year.  The year was 2009, and my youngest daughter was not quite 7 at the time.  We were having a wonderful time with our kids, running from craft booth to craft booth, dodging all the 4 million or so people that were there that night.  (I had never seen it so crowded)  When we stop at a booth with candles.  So many candles - and the girls want to stop and sniff each one.  Now, you know how sometimes - when you're in a really crowded place - all of the sudden a silence will hit?  Like it gets REALLY quiet for just a few seconds?  Well, in that unexpected lull was the precise moment in time when my youngest daughter decided to tell me, in her very loudest voice, "Hey Mom!  This candle smells JUST LIKE YOUR BEAVER!"  I kid you not when I tell you that all 4 million or so people swiveled around to try to see the woman with the holiday scented beaver.  My friend, JS?  She and her daughter ran from the booth, screaming with laughter.  Once I picked my jaw up off the floor I smiled, looked down at my daughter and said, "Well yes, it certainly does" and, trying to salvage what dignity I had left, put the top back on the candle she was smelling, grabbed her hand and headed off to hunt down JS, who was halfway down the damn aisle by then. 

Perhaps the most embarrassing moment of my entire life. 

Solidifying that darn Beaver's presence at every Christmas for the rest of my life I suspect - as my husband now encourages the placing of the sacred Christmas Beaver in it's place of honor each year. 

He'll probably have it buried with me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Solstice: Half of the Real Reason for the Season

OK, OK - I'm not here to knock Jesus Christ. I'm a appreciative fan - and am not trying to start a religious war by saying his birth shouldn't be celebrated.  It should... but lets face it, he probably wasn't born at this time of year.  Springtime is most likely when it really happened since shepherds were in the fields day and night only during lambing season - and I don't know the bible very well, but I'm pretty sure that at least Paul mentioned the shepherds were in their fields at night. I have studied neither theology or ancient cultures in any depth, but from my reading I have learned that celebrating Christ's birth in December with Merrymaking and Parties?  Most likely THAT is because of the Winter Solstice. Or, rather, what the Winter Solstice signifies.

Celebrating the day after the shortest day of the year - the passing of the Solstice... welcoming back the sun.  The days get longer, which in our society of electric lighting and central heat isn't such a big deal.  But if you're a peasant or a farmer that can only get stuff done by the light of day, and the nights bring cold and the need to stoke a fire all night long to stay warm?  It's a pretty big deal.  Almost ALL pagan cultures celebrated some form of this passing.  Call it Yule, Hogmanay, Mōdraniht, Sol Invictus, or a hundred other names... it is how the "New Year", the rebirth of the sun was celebrated.  And it was important.  So important there was going to be a lot less converts to Christianity if they were told that this particular celebration wasn't important.  Christianity needed to incorporate it with its own twist in order to get converts.

These weren't societies of instant gratification.  People were willing to make sacrifices of the very currency that sometimes kept them alive, and things didn't get better overnight. It would be months of cold and starvation (things they had spent a lot of time preparing for) before things actually improved enough to make a big difference.  However, every day that they had a few minutes more of sunshine was a reason to be thankful to their gods. 

It isn't groundbreaking to say that the early Church decided that they needed a big holiday to help the pagans over to their side.  The early Church didn't celebrate Christmas the way we do - to them it was simply a "Feast Day."  A day to go to Church (get out of the house in the better of your two outfits), celebrate the Mass, and then have a special meal at home in honor of the feast.  Since celebrating the return of the sun was a pretty big deal, the Church needed a pretty big occasion to nail on to this Feast Day.  The birth of Jesus Christ?  Well, other than the death of Jesus Christ - which is the biggest Feast Day in the Church, the birthday was one they weren't already celebrating and since it had been two or three hundred years since the occasion had actually happened? Who knew the real date?  Following the Winter Solstice was a pretty good day to pin to that Feast. In fact, in the early Church, the feast day of Christmas kicked off the 12 days to the real celebration... the Epiphany.  When the Biblical Magi turned up to celebrate the word of God - the announcement that the savior had been born.  Twelfth Night was, for a long time, the big event. Thus distancing the true reason for Christian thankfulness (the Word of God) from the Feast day of the Birth... yet tying in the pagan celebration day quite nicely. 

So. long story short, they came together.  One half pagan, one half Christian.  And the Feast Day / day of Merriment made everybody happy.  Jesus would have been on board with that, he was all about the happiness of mankind.  And really, when you get to the age he was when he died?  Who really cares about their birthday anyway?  You're kind of over it by then.  Human nature, getting older, looming death - it all plays in to that feeling of "You're only as old as you feel" trumping "Can I have a BIG party this year???"  Actual birthdays cease to really matter.

So, as I sit here watching the snow pile up outside and thank God I am in a house with electricity and heat (and fairly soon, a usable kitchen), I don't want to offend Christianity or dishonor anyone who celebrates the Birth of Christ this week. (My family celebrates Christmas.)  Christianity had to do what it had to do to get converts - they had an agenda... and that it probably really ISN'T his birthday this week isn't all that important. He WAS born at some point during the year, and my kids have had birthday parties a month after their actual big day. I like to think of Christmas as a gift the early Church gave to the Pagans.  They didn't take away their holiday, just gave them a new reason to celebrate... Oh, and eternal life.  Bonus.

Monday, December 19, 2011

9 going on 15

Oh my holy hell - was it this bad when the older one turned 9 and I've blanked it all out?  Honestly, this child, my Darling Daughter #2, the light of my life?  So NOT the light right now. 

If at all possible, more erratic moods than her (almost) 12 year old sister.  And I'm hoping with all hope that this isn't hormones - because if she gets her curves and her cycle before her older sister?  All hell will break loose around here.

She's got a friend over today - her BEST friend.  Who, for 70% of the time, has only been playing with DD1.  Why?  Because DD2 has been in her room "thinking about her behavior" several times already today.

She was SUCH a good baby.

But right now?  I wish her door locked from the outside.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bah Humbug, sorta...

I'm not completely a Grinch, but sort of more this year than other years.  Normally I'd be all up for decorations, only this year - with the remodeling in mid swing - it feels like just one more thing we'd have to clean up.  Almost like, "Can we just skip Christmas this year? I'd be willing to make it up next year with double Christmas."  I'm not wanting to bake (which isn't so new), I'm not wanting to decorate, I'm not wanting presents, I'm not wanting to shop and spend money. 

Because when you're changing things in the house on the scale that we are, even though not a ton of money is going in to it, it all feels so... I don't know... costly?  Like you really notice how much you spend on things, and when you are trying to find a place to put all of those toys they already have, and you clean out your cabinets and find appliances you didn't even remember were there... it seems like we don't need more stuff.

And, like it or not, sometimes it feels like Christmas is really all about the "stuff".  The decorations, the preparation, the food and gifts and wrappings.  I've not been playing holiday carols at home, except for the tree and the gingerbread houses the house is undecorated (and covered in drywall dust no matter what we do).  I'd consider it a successful Christmas if I got my cabinet bases all stained before the big day (upper AND lower) - and we have company coming to stay with us right after Christmas.  Our dining room is full of what normally resides in cabinetry, and I hope to God our upstairs hall bathroom is usable by then.  If not?  We're going to be in a world of hurt regarding getting those guests showered.

I haven't plotted our Christmas card strategy yet, which means I haven't even snapped a picture of the kids for the card.

So, Bah Humbug, sorta...

I mean, today is the first day that really felt like the holiday was on it's way and might be worth celebrating.  The annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party thrown by our dear friends was this afternoon, and the neighborhood ornament exchange thrown by T.Z. was this evening.  So much fun - and so festive.  Maybe it'll be enough to kick my behind in to high gear and get some holiday prep work done...

I'll pull it together for the kids, but honestly?  I'd like to not accumulate more "stuff" this year.