Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This One Really Snuck up on Me.

Yep it's New Years Eve. Didn't really think about that until yesterday when the Big Guy and I started talking about what we should do tonight. We wavered between movies at home, a scrumptious dinner or drinks with friends. Of course no decision was made and the day went on... and the next thing I know plans have been made and all I have to do is show up (with my famous salad, veggies and dessert). We will be dining (on Lobster) in Uptown, drinking with friends all while the kids watch a movie. It must be ESP...and luck that some other schmos didn't have plans either.

A toast from the Grouchy Dog: Dance as if no one is watching...Sing as if no one can hear you...Laugh with abandon...Hug with your heart...Kiss like it is the first time. 

"Act so as to elicit the best in others and thereby in thyself." Felix Adler

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

They Think I'm an Expert.

The point of this story is that they...the Wild Ones...actually think I'm an expert at something. No, it doesn't matter that they are not talking about calculus, physics or American literature. It just matters that they have admitted the expert thing. I guess you'd like to know what makes them look at me in awe...well, they say I am the best at making up nicknames. Yeah I know...some talent. I guess it gives away my goofiness at home or around friends...although the friends don't always get it and I have received some pretty interesting looks, but I guess it is in the Wild One's explanations to their friends that I have learned of my expertise. I hope I have not blocked out the part where they say "she thinks she's an". The Wild Ones are more commonly known as Migli, Boodle and Ju Ju Bee among many others. So it was only natural that after we named the kitties, that we would come up with some crazy alternate aliases for them. I have called the tiny one Darbilicious (I don't know just came out one day) and the giant one Japperdoo. So last weekend I was standing at the kitchen sink and the Big Guy came walking in with Darby in his arms and they both were looking rumpled and cute and when I opened my mouth I said, "Oh...Dickilicious." I think I was referring to the cat...perhaps I need to rethink my expertise. The look on the Big Guys face was priceless and we had one of those laughs that add years to your life...or so I like to believe!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Where to Start?

The relatives are gone, the tree is down (but still sitting on the front porch waiting to be hauled to the Grouchy Dog for a winter bon fire) and the toys are in the correct bedrooms...although slowly being hauled out and investigated. We are still eating cookies and apple pie for breakfast and ham with potatoes, ham in soup, ham on buns and ham cold out of the container for all other meals. The snow is hard packed (and sitting on an inch of ice), the sun is shining and wee friends are showing up on the doorstep. We are all in sweats (well maybe some of us are still in jammies) lounging with "nothing pressing to do". What a perfect way to spend a day of Winter Vacation.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Little Under the Weather.

I don't know about you, but I am wiped out. Volunteering at school (and shelters and for the Big Guy), Thanksgiving (yeah, I know that was a month ago, but it hasn't stopped since then), traveling, know the drill. And through all of this I have not stopped to take care of myself (unless you count holiday cookies and a few extra cocktails...hey it's all the festivities) and now I am too pooped to take care of anyone else. Thank goodness the friendly little cold virus that had been knocking at my door did not find his way in until the last stragglers of Christmas dinner were on their way out the door. I plan to spend the day...perhaps the next week...snuggled in my new pink jammies and robe (perhaps the Big Guy and the Wild Ones saw this one coming) on the couch watching movies or reading one of my books (well I will try for at least an hour until I get antsy and need to take the tree down or shovel the patio or organize all the new toys). I hope all was merry for you and your families and that Santa found his way through the seven levels of the candy cane forest and across the sea of twirly whirly gumdrops.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Feeling Lucky.

As you know I was gone for a few days and that always causes a bit of anxiety for me (I'll get to what happened in Florida and what didn't happen at home another time). The Big Guy and I were laying in bed the morning that I was flying out and he turns to me and says (totally out of the blue), "We will be OK if something happens to you. We will miss you, but we'll be OK." WTF??! So that is what I had to think about for four days alone (while caring for my ailing grand parents)...nice! Well I made it to Florida (with an extra 7 hours of layovers due to lost crews and missing planes) and boarded my first of two flights home. As we were beginning our initial descent into the Memphis airport, I turned to my seat mate (a very nice older lady from Port St. Joe) and was about to comment (probably something trivial) when I see a plane coming right at us. took a second to register that THAT WAS NOT NORMAL! The woman must have seen my face turn white because she whipped her head to the window and turned a very non-flattering shade of green. I started hyperventilating and almost threw up. She spent her time comforting me as visions of my family "missing me, but doing just fine" went floating through my head (Thanks BG). This all happened in about 10 seconds (or maybe it was only 5...I'm not sure, you don't stop to check the time when you are sure that you are living your last seconds on earth...or should I say in this realm) and by the time the flight attendant saw what was happening, the other plane and turned and ended up behind us (it was heading toward the front of our plane when we first saw it). Her African American face began to turn from white back to it's natural "coffee with cream" color as she kept repeating, "It's OK, it's behind us now." I notice that she stood with us (if she was shaking even half as much as I was I'm sure she was afraid to move for fear of falling into someone's complimentary beverage) and checked about 12 times to make sure it was really gone. If these two had not been with me and saw what I saw, I am not sure I would believe that it had happened, it seems much more like a dream or a clip from a movie (although the feeling I get in my arms and the back of my neck even as I type this tells me that it was more real than anything I have ever experienced before). We landed about 10 minutes later and my next plane had already begun to board. The pilots sitting in that cockpit (maybe their legs were shaking and they couldn't stand either) should be grateful for my hasty departure as I would have had a few words to say to them if I had had "WTF! You dudes always fly like this...were those your buddies I waved to back there...are we on a movie you have any Valium?" I sped through the Memphis airport, looking like a drunk housewife (my stiletto boots didn't help) praying to make my connection and that the flight attendants would be speedy with their beverage service...near death experiences give a little credibility to the saying "I could really use a cocktail right now."

Monday, December 15, 2008

On my way...

Bathing suit...check. Camera...check. Flip flops...check. Books...check. Sunglasses...check. Sound emotional state of well being...working on that. My bags are packed, one Wild One is off to school with dozens of cookies for the teachers exchange (yes the families bake for the teachers and they "exchange"), the other two Wild Ones are starting to stir and will soon be off with their cookies too. Instead of sending the Big Guy off to the office, he will be sending me off in a plane. I am on my way to Panama City Beach to see my very special grandparents, "Grammer" and "Great." Yeah I know it's not the best time to leave (unless you consider I am trading -5 degrees for 75 degrees), but sometimes "you gotta do what you gotta do" and that time is right now. I hope to post pictures this week, but in case I become MIA you will know where I am (I dare you to come find me). Til then...revel in gratefulness and share a few extra hugs.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Speaking of Elves.

This crazy little guy has been in my family for...well let's just say...ever. He is a little worse for the wear, but his magic is still alive. You see he shows up when he wants to (sometime around the Christmas holidays) and where he wants to. He moves around when no one is looking and we never know where to expect him next. We haven't seen him in a few years, but again this year when we were decorating our Christmas tree we started to look for him. We couldn't find him and it was kind of sad, we figured maybe he had moved on (perhaps another family...or gasp...went to Elfie heaven). We hung our new star garland and went about the business of eating Christmas candy and watching Christmas movies and soon let our thoughts of The Elf become fond memories. The next day I was standing in the kitchen when I heard one of the Wild Ones screeching...I listened for a second to decipher the "type" of screech I had heard, determined it to be an excited sound and leaped for the living room. The Elf had appeared...lounging in the new garland as if he hadn't been gone for all those years. You think I am making this up? The Big Guy and I looked at each other "knowingly," each sure the other had something to do with it. We did just one had seen it, no one heard it, and no one knows how it happened. All I know is that he is back, raising the level of Christmas cheer each time we find him hiding in a new spot. This is where I found him this morning.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Family Tradition.

It is just not Christmas around this house until we have watched this least 3 times. Who am I kidding, we watch it all year long (and I don't re-watch movies...unless I have forgotten that I even watched it in the first place). I don't know if it is the tights, the pointy shoes or the resemblance to The Big Guy, but this giant elf makes me smile. The Wild Ones use lines from the movie to argue what they should be allowed to eat, "The four food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup." Perhaps the Wild Ones are enamored with Buddy because his personality reminds them of their parents...a little bad singing, a little goofy and a lot of heart. If you have not seen this movie (what rock have you been living under?) take your fingers off your key board, and run (don't walk) to the nearest Target (or Best Buy or grocery can probably even get it at your local gas station) and buy it...renting won't do, you won't want to return it and then you'll get charged late fees and then you will eventually own the movie for $75. Call in sick, get a big bowl of your favorite candy and enjoy some christmas cheer..."The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." And if you don't're a cotten-headed-ninny-muggins!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What would it be like?

What would it be like to walk 2 miles round trip to get one bag of groceries...then turn around and do it two more 17 degree snowy weather? What would it be like to have two boys with winer jackets, but no snow boots? What would it be like to pay your rent, electricity and gas bills and have no money left over for food? What would it be like to lose your job due to recession and have to move in with a friend who is barely covering his bills? I honestly don't know. I have lived a privileged life...yes there have been times when my parents went with out so I could have new shoes for gym and times as an adult where I have had to eat Ramen instead of something fresh, but I have always been fortunate enough to make ends meet...and on the occasions when I couldn't I had family to back me up and help me out. I have worked 3 jobs at a time, I have lived with in-laws and I have sold everything I owned, but I have never been forced to understand true financial hardship (Now heart ache? That's my true story).

I was asked by a friend to volunteer with her at our local food shelf this week...and in the depths of my co-dependency I couldn't say no. I am glad I made that choice. I have volunteered all my life...animal shelters, kid's with autism, disabled children using horses for therapy, the Wild One's schools...preschool through 6th grade. I have donated money to causes close to my heart and causes in honor of others. I stock my wallet with one dollars bills to help pad the red kettles each christmas, I donate (and instigate) clothes drives and I single handedly filled the local Goodwill last month. NONE of that compares (don't get all cranky...everything I have done was very worthwhile, enjoyable and I will continue to do it all with enthusiasm) to working first hand with people who cannot provide themselves with basic human supplies. It was a very humbling experience (although I did have to flick the judgmental kitten off my shoulder a few times). 

I felt strange when people came in asking for toilet paper...when I need toilet paper I hop in my car and drive to Target and load up a big old 24 pack. I will never do that again with out thinking of that soft tissue as a privilege. If anyone is moved to donate to your (or my) local food shelf please learn something from my experience. The people that I met don't necessarily want or need the things that we have been lead to believe that they need. Items that were most often requested were toilet paper, feminine products and easy to prepare foods, but remember that if things like oil, butter, milk and eggs are needed to prepare...they probably do not have those things at home. We could not give away the canned veggies or fruit, but quickly ran out of coffee, milk and cookies. Check with your food shelf as the one I was at does have freezers (for things like hamburger) and refrigerators for perishables.

While it seemed like some people were working the system (everything is weighed and tracked...although no one is ever turned away), others turned down our offers of more...they only took what they absolutely needed. One boy left with a new pair of boots (and a mother who had the most beautiful smile) and an older gentleman left with this phrase, "Thank you for being here. Thank you for volunteering." Sign me up for next week.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wait it gets better.

I stopped in to grab dog food today and the first thing I see is...the cute puppy from the car...OK it might not have been the same cute "dad," but the puppy was overly excited to see me...he went crazy. When I stopped to pet him (no way could I resist that) he knocked me down and climbed in my lap. His "dad" didn't think that was very good manners and told him to get off me. Guess what he called him? Go ahead, guess...Oliver. No wonder we were so attracted to each other...although after kissing him on the nose, I had to wander off before the "dad" saw the tears rolling down my cheeks. That is just what I needed to keep me going...Thank God for the wonders of the world!

For Your Ears Only.

File this under "Things that one should NEVER repeat to anyone," cuz really what happens when you are one else would ever have to know. Friday I dropped the Wild Ones off at school (did the double crazy loop) and was feeling pretty free, music cranked up and ready to face the day. I was sitting at the "I'm never going to get out of here" stop sign when I looked to my left and saw the most adorable dog staring right at me. I couldn't look away and being all lost in my freedom, I started making faces at the dog and saying things like "Oh cute little puppy, you want to come home with me...don't you?" I even made little puckering kisses at it. Just as I was about to check my status in line, I looked up and saw a very handsome man looking right over the head of the me...smiling. As I turned away in horror, I saw (from the corner of my eye) him...the handsome man...pucker his lips and wink. 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Club I Don't Want You to Join.

As beautiful and wonderful as this statue is, I hope you never have to place a brick there. You see the angel is surrounded by bricks memorializing children that have died. We will be there tonight with hundreds of other people (including a dear friend and the first grade teacher of all of the Wild Ones who lost an adult brother many years ago on December 6th) lighting candles for our sons, daughter, siblings, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends. It will be bitter cold and we won't care. We will stand together in tears, holding hands and remembering. We will pray and take strength from those gathered with us. At 7 pm light a candle for Oliver and all the other children you may have know. We will recite a poem titled, "We Remember Them." Take a moment to count your blessings and give your kids an extra hug. We will feel the energy from all the love and hugs you are sending. There is strength in hope, love and friendship.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas.

I keep expecting a call from Visa to warn me that my Visa may have been stolen due to an unusually high rate of spending. I knew it was time to slow down yesterday when I stopped by the library to get a few books for the Wild One's school projects and instead of giving the librarian my library card...I handed her my Visa.

BTW...yesterdays cartoon that I obviously thought was so funny, but didn't care to make big enough to share with the rest of you reads: "I'm sorry dear, I haven't been listening. Could you repeat everything you've said since we got married?'

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Apologize.

The littlest Wild One went running through the kitchen last night and wiped out...flat out, whole body splayed on the floor wipe out. Not too out of the ordinary...until it happened for the third time. Turns out the Big Guy had sprayed furniture polish on a magazine (long story...had to do with fixing the treadmill taking up space in the basement) and the overspray landed on the floor making it extremely slippery. Soon all the Wild Ones were running through the kitchen trying to wipe out. I was laughing hysterically, so much so that I could barely talk. You see, while I did find the wipe outs funny, that is not really what I was laughing about. I was remembering something that I had been meaning to get around to (for about 6 years)...apologize to the Big Guy. When we lived in our old house we had a two story entry with a stair case that wrapped around the hallway upstairs. On occasion I would actually clean all the woodwork around the stairway. The first time I attempted this I sprayed the wood (as opposed to spraying the cloth) and then wiped it down. It looked great, I went about my day and the Big Guy came home from work...nothing unusual. Until he went to put something in the office (passing under the aforementioned woodwork) and completely went down...cartoon style...feet up in the air and everything (I bet you are laughing now too). Well I never really admitted to knowing exactly why the floor was so slippery (I didn't do it on purpose...the first time). So now, formally I would like to apologize to the Big Guy for all the bruises I may have inadvertently caused way back when...and for all the uncontrollable giggles coming from around the corner.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fake is for the birds...oh wait.

I received an email last night (you know the kind that asks you all sorts of personal questions, you fill it out, pass it on and wait to hear everyone else's responses? I do have to admit I love those things...must be the "Nosy Nellie" in me...Thanks Nicki) that asked the question, "Real tree or artificial?" It reminded me of when I was "married with no kids" and my mother and sister were into the fake trees. I had no kids to impress and being ahead of my time in the green movement, I thought I would give it a try. So the Big Guy and I put up the Christmas tree and he promptly left for a business trip. I was left to decorate the "tree" and it just wasn't working for smells, no pile of needles digging into my bare feet as I walked by and no bloody knuckles when I hung the lights. If that wasn't bad enough the dang tree would not stay upright in the stand. So being the industrious gal that I was (I was a terror on the bobcat and could whiz any power tool with the best of them) I decided to have a look around the garage, but all I could find was a dry bag of cement and a few rakes. So I did what anyone would do, I went inside and opened a bottle of wine. Rigged up with a little liquid gold I ventured back into the garage and mixed myself up a bucket of cement and plastered that dang tree right into the stand. So the answer to that email question, "Real of Fake?" Mine is so real I will be picking pine needles out of my feet (and the back of my hair) for weeks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not so cute at 2 am.

The kitties are doing well (as in they have not run away, they are using their litter box and they have not scratched the Rotten's eyes out). When we brought them home we were going to acclimate them to the house and the dog slowly, but getting an excited 9 year old to follow that train of thought is easier said than done. As we drove up the drive way I laid out explicit instructions as to how we would separate the kittens from the dog and  get them settled before the introduction. I think I was talking to myself (it happens). Rotten was in the driveway when we arrived and was jumping near the car when we stopped. The middlest Wild One immediately opened his car door (boy kitten in hands) ran over to Rotten and said, "Look Ruger, a new kit....ahh....oooowwwieeeeeeee!!!!!" Evidently the kitty didn't know the large, strange black creature was his new brother...which should have implied friendliness...and tried to hide in the back of the Wild One's neck. The kitten was thrown toward the car (in an attempt to trap it in the car...ha) and mayhem ensued. The other Wild Ones were trying to get the girl kitty inside, I was chasing the middle Wild One with one hand and trying to gather a soapy wash cloth, hydrogen peroxide and neosporin with the other. If the neighbor across the street had not had his music playing loud enough to shake the other neighbors windows someone may have come out thinking we were performing some satanic ritual. We can all laugh about it now (now that the wounds have cleared up and the cat was found hiding under the car), but I was not laughing at 2 am when Jasper was sharpening his claws on my ankle every time I moved (I think he was trying to save me from the evil creatures residing under my covers) and his sister Darby was breathing in my ear...but they are so furry I forgave them...for now.

Meet the New Abbotts

Monday, December 1, 2008

Santa came early.

Every year we do the same thing. We bundle up the Wild Ones (hope to remember gloves for ourselves) and head north to Jan's Christmas Tree Farm. It's great...they have a pile of hay bales, bonfires, people who reenact old stuff (think blacksmiths and rope makers), horse drawn carriage rides and Santa even flies in by helicopter. So this year we decide to go early and take advantage of the nice weather (I had to brainwash myself into believing it was OK to get our tree in November and that it will still be fresh by Christmas, but hey there is something to be said for avoiding frostbitten body parts). 

Santa flies in, we wait in line, we visit the "people" (the Big Guy ended up with a hand made rope and the tiny Wild One ended up with a musketball-both made right before their eyes) and just as I am suggesting a carriage ride or a roll in the hay the Wild Ones spot the kittens. Santa's "nice" helper announces that she is sure it would be ok to take one home with us. Have I ever mentioned the whining and begging that immediately starts spewing from the pores of the Wild Ones at the thought of having their very own kitten? I almost told the Wild Ones that it was too bad they had already seen Santa cuz they could have asked him to bring them a kitten (sometimes those things just slip out), but then something magical happened...The Big Guy actually said yes. None of us believed him (and I kind of felt bad for the Wild Ones standing there with a look of "almost delight" on their faces not quite sure how to react), but before he could say, "Ha, just kidding" the Wild Ones were off in search of the best kitten...fighting even before they got there about which one they would bring home. The Big Guy seemed serious so I followed the enthusiastic banter to the room full of cats and watched as our new family member was passed from kid to kid. With a purring kitten in arms, we went in search of the Big Guy to weedle into his soft spot. It took a while to find him and when he turned around he had "the perfect kitten" in his arms. I took one look at him, shook my head and laughed the words, "We're getting two kittens aren't we?" His answer? "This one came right to me." As if he had to talk us into it! So much for the hay bales and carriage rides...the Wild Ones wouldn't even get out of the car (and leave the kittens) to help pick-or cut- the perfect tree...oh well, they know by now that I always have the last say any way.