Saturday, December 25, 2010

A very Merry Christmas

It's been a wonderful Christmas....a little nontraditional- but great!  All of our kids were with their other parents this year, so Brandon and I loaded up the Kia mini-van sleigh and headed to the beach for Christmas Eve.  On the way we stopped at one of the casinos (see I told you it was nontraditional) and stuffed ourselves at their fabulous buffet. Sooo much food!!!  Then we continued on to the Baywood Shores Bed and Breakfast ( in Lincoln City, OR.  What a gorgeous place! I strongly recommend you check it out if you ever have the chance.  We stayed in the "Captains Room". It had a big jacuzzi overlooking the bay, a private balcony, a fireplace and so many other little things that made it perfect.  We went and walked on the beach in the rain, spent a little time shopping at the outlet stores, then made a snack run to the grocery store.

After exploring the town a bit, we headed back to our room for a rousing game of Scrabble in front of the fire, followed by a dinner of cookies and eggnog.  Then we watched a movie and soaked in the tub while watching the twinkly lights across the bay.  So relaxing!  About 3:30am I was awoken by rustling in the corner.  It thought Santa had found us!  But no, it was just Brandon digging through our bags looking for some antacids.  Apparently, unlike Santa, he is not cut out to indulge in a dinner of cookies.

In the morning the innkeepers made us a lovely breakfast of "dutch boys" and fruit. More food, just what we needed!  We lounged around our room until it was time to check out, then went to pick up my kids.  Once home with the kids we opened their presents (didn't take long to open their stocking and gift card!) then got to work on making our Christmas dinner.  Yup, more food!

In the morning the kids and I are getting up at the crack of dawn and driving to Utah to visit my family. (It's going to be hard to get up early after being a total lazy butt for the past week!) Brandon will stay here and "staycation" with his kids.  I can't wait to see my family and especially my little nephews!  Hopefully the 13 hour drive will go smoothly, and the weather will cooperate.  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cindersoni, Cindersoni...

Today I feel like Cindersoni (ya know, Cinderella's lesser known cousin.  My mom used to sing the little song the mice sing to Cinderella when I was younger and I would complain about doing chores- except instead of singing Cinderell-y, Cinderell-y, it was Cindersoni, Cindersoni).  Like everyone else I've been frantically trying to get ready for the Holidays.  Wrapping presents, finishing homemade gifts, baking, shopping, cleaning, blah, blah, blah.  In addition to all this, I'm trying to get ready for two trips.  Brandon and I are going to a cute little bed and breakfast at the beach, then the day after Christmas the kids and I are driving down to see my family in Utah for a week. 

I'm not sure why these family trips bring out the worst of my slight OCD tendencies.  On three separate occasions in the past 14 months I've proven that I can be out the door and on the road within an hour in an emergency.  But if I'm planning on going, it takes me DAYS to get ready.  Planned visits bring on strange compulsions.   I feel compelled to do things like bleach my children's suddenly unseemly socks, get my brows waxed, detail my car, vacuum all the nooks and crannies of my house, clean out the window tracks,organize the Tupperware, alphabetize the bookshelf, and scrub out the fridge.

I suppose secretly I'm afraid I'll die while away, and you'll all come to my house and judge me.  (I come by this fear naturally- you should see the elaborate plans my grandma makes when going on vacation!)  Anyway, I gotta go change the sheets and pack the suitcases!  Good luck to each of you getting your holiday To-Do list done!

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Twas the night before Christmas

When I was a child, Christmas Eve was Disney Princess magical, not just normal people 'Christmas spirit' magical!  Our family would go over to my grandmas house along with my aunts, uncles,cousins and some second cousins.  Grandma would start the evening off with a fabulous meal.  Turkey, ham, her special layered cranberry-apple jello salad, potatoes, rolls, teeny tiny little sweet pickles and enough olives we could each have our own set.  (Ya know...a "set" of olives- one for each finger!) A plethora of cookies, pies and candy followed dinner.  Frequently, dinner was followed by a visit from Santa or one of his elves- who of course came bearing gifts for each of us. After the initial excitement of Santa wore off, the adults would sit around visiting, while us kids sat squirming, wiggling, and frequently asking "When are they leaving?"

The "they" in question were all the extended family.  It's not that we didn't like them- in fact my cousins Jodi and Janna and I spent a fair part of the evening trying to catch our slightly older second cousin, Kyle, under the mistletoe so we could kiss him.  However, the truly fantastic part of the evening didn't begin until it was down to just my siblings, my 2 cousins, and our parents.  Eventually, the other families would head out to enjoy the rest of the evening at home.  That's when the magic happened. 

Like dutiful little elves we would all march down the hall to the "pink room" (Grandmas guest room which bore a cherry blossom pink quilt and rose covered carpets) and start carrying out the brightly wrapped packages.  We would deposit each of the gifts in a segregated pile marked with our name.  Then while Grandpa roamed around with his huge camcorder balanced on his shoulder, it was finally time!  You know those Christmas movies where civilized families go around in a circle and take turns opening their gifts?  They take time to admire and oooh and aaahhh over each item...we didn't do that.  Someone would count down and then like greedy little imps we would tear into our mountain of gifts. 

Inevitably there was a set of new Christmas pajamas- lacy frilly nightgowns for the girls, superhero pj's with capes for the boys.  While the grown ups picked up our wrappings (I told you we were greedy little imps) we'd all go change into our new pajamas, then hurry back to play with our new treasures.  Eventually, our parents would insist that if we didn't go home Santa wouldn't be able to come.  (Like we needed more toys!)  So we'd pack all our new stuff into the trunk, climb into the car and head home- happy as little clams.  The magic would carry home with us as we  tried to listen for sleigh bells on the roof and eventually drifted off to sleep with visions of sugar plums dancing through our heads.

Years later, when I was in my late teens, and had long since given up on Santa and elves, I was once again caught up in the magic of Christmas Eve at Grandmas house.  Her large family room was surrounded by windows on 3 sides.  As I looked out over the amazing view of the sparkling lights of the city and the glistening lake below, I was stunned to see a tiny sleigh being pulled by reindeer off in the distant sky.  It truly took my breath away in disbelief.  Only a moment passed before I realized I was seeing a reflection of a Santa picture hanging in the opposite window behind me...but for just a moment... I believed!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

day off

I have ended up with the whole day all to myself today.  Whatever shall I do?  I should paint the bathroom that desperately needs it.  I should clean out the "Harry Potter" closet under the stairs (where I'm sure I would find all the things that have been deemed lost, stolen, or missing for the past...well, since we moved into the house!) I should go check our storm drains and crawl space to make sure we're not going to float away in this horrific rain we've been enduring.  I should bake Christmas treats for my friends and neighbors.

Those are just a few of the things that I should do. But what I'm gonna do is make a nice hot cup of candy can cocoa in a snowman mug, turn up the heat, put on my cosiest hoodie, and que up the Netflix. One of the few perks of a rainy day (other than helping with bird poo as mentioned previously) is it makes a great excuse to have a lazy day! Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

bird poo

We have a large elm tree that hangs over our driveway. I love the tree- it provides a glorious covering of shade during the 9 days of summer we are blessed with every year, and each spring its weathered knots provide a nesting spot for the tiny little birds that flit about.  Argh...the birds.  It's no secret that I am deathly terrified of birds, and despise the little critters (they're like rats with wings), but even I can appreciate the cuteness of a nest of chirping, featherless, hideously ugly little babies.  But why, oh why, do they have to poo all over my car?

Sunday evening I glanced over at my car and was thoroughly perturbed to see that once again the ol' Taurus was covered in  white splatter. I shook my head in disgust and resigned myself to parking in the outer parking lot at work so noone would see my shame.  However, on Monday morning I woke to the sound of raindrops pounding on my roof.  "Stupidmiserablerainwithitsstupidclouds" I thought to myself as I stumbled out the door at 6:30am.  (Guess what I like even less than birds?  Rain!) But then, as I looked at my car, I was suddenly grateful for the miserable, wet drops that were pounding the city.  All the poo was gone!  What a glorious suprise!

After making the school run with the kiddos I pulled back into the driveway to get ready for work.  I was parked there less than an hour.  When I went to leave, my car had once again been victimized.  No fewer than 12 poop bombs once again covered the windshield, hood, and roof of my car.

I think I'll cut down the tree.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It ain't what it used to be

When I was a little girl, Christmas was truly "the most wonderful time of the year".  For months beforehand  I would spend hours carefully pouring over the Sears and LaBelles catalogs seeking out my list of desired treasures.  With a colored marker in hand, I would circle each and everything my little heart desired.  An Easy Bake oven and Kewpie dolls eventually gave way to much more sophisticated toys.  Things like the Barbie Dream pool, Snoopy snow cone maker, and a ruffled umbrella.  My brothers circled things like race tracks,GI Joe figurines and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  After months of consideration we'd submit our pared down lists to the fat guy in the red suit. Between Santa, my parents, and doting grandparents we usually made off with a pretty good haul.

My parents went to great lengths to ensure the joy of Christmas magic was complete.  One year a sooty boot print was left by the fireplace. Another Christmas morning revealed a torn piece of red velvet  left behind as evidence of Santas misadventure with our fire grate.   One year I was heartbroken when the baby doll I longed for wasn't there on Christmas morning, but a few days later my mom came in with it from the backyard...seems Santa had dropped it on the roof and it took a while for it to roll off!  We always left out cookies and milk for Santa, as well as carrots for the weary reindeer.Eventually I started counting the carrots that were back in the fridge come Christmas morning and was dismayed to find our offering returned...

When my own kids came along I tried to duplicate the impressive Christmas mornings I remembered from my childhood.  Care was taken to insure that Santas presents bore their own special wrapping paper so as not to be mistaken as a gift from us, the lowly parents.  Cookies were set out, as well as carrots for the reindeer (which were NEVER returned to the fridge!).  With two little boys we saw an abundance of train sets, Hot Wheels tracks, and super hero pajamas, followed by doll houses, stuffed animals and tutus when Andrea joined us.  Later we moved on to K'nex, Legos and RC cars for the boys, and Barbies, Polly Pockets and Little Ponies for the girl.  Christmas was a delight.

Fast forward a few years.  I-pods, phones, and requests for cash make up the list.  That's it.  Nothing cute, nothing fuzzy, nothing fun to give.  Enjoy 'em while they're little- cuz Christmas ain't what it used to be!

Monday, November 29, 2010

stupid #$@%! phones (a personal rant)

Recently Brandon acquired a new all inclusive cell phone from work, so we decided to shut off his personal cell phone.  Unfortunately this led to a whole slough of problems as I was forced to switch my teenage sons phone over to Brandon's number due to contract issues.  However, I figured it would be a simple switch, and we could all get on with our technically savvy lives. I should have known better!  Unbeknownst to me Collins phone had a security feature that locked it if and when the SIM card was removed/replaced.  Should be easy enough to fix...if you have the password.  We tried all the obvious choices- last 4 digits of the phone number, our stand by PIN's, 0000, 1111, 1234...all to no avail.  We did however succeed in completely locking down the phone from our repeated attempts. AAAARGH I thought to myself- but I figured a quick trip to the cell phone store would remedy the problem***sigh***there is no such thing as a quick trip to the cell phone store.

"I'm sorry ma'am, but as that is a security feature you have enabled we can't unlock it."
"OK, could we just replace the SIM card then?"
"Sure, this will just take a moment....hmmmm....this is strange....just a sec...let me Google this...ummm, you're going to have to call the manufacturer."
Anyway, after a long and complicated process involving myself and several "helpful customer service agents" from somewhere in the deep South (aren't they all from there?) I finally obtained a series of codes that would enable me to turn off the security feature that locked the SIM card...only to discover that as a final step I would need the original password to do that.  Isn't that fun?

I figured while I was there I'd try to resolve a separate cell phone issue (we get no reception in our house). My new friend Kelly at the cell store suggested I call customer service to see about getting a '3G cell' that would boost our reception.  Already frustrated, but grateful for the tip I called customer service.  A helpful fellow named Patrick (also apparently from the deep South) knew exactly what I was talking about and told me to a specific location on the companies website.  I searched the web site, found the product in question...and was directed to go to the store ...*%^$#@!

Friday, November 26, 2010

'Tis the Season

It is here! The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday- the official start of the Christmas season. (Unless you work at Target- Christmas arrived there the day after Halloween.)  As is our tradition I planned to load up all the kids and set out to find the perfect Christmas tree to spark the holiday merriment.  Andrea, who is my mini-me, happily donned her boots and  grabbed a jacket.  Then I moved on to the less enthusiastic crowd..."It's Christmas time guys!  Who wants to go get a tree?" "Ummm, no, I think we'll stay here," grumbled my husbands 4 children.  Then on to the teenage boys who were still sleeping soundly.  "Hey guys, we're going to go get a tree!  Wanna come?" "imtryingtosleepgeez" mumbled Jared as he glared at me through the one visible eye. "No" was all Collin mustered before he rolled over and put a pillow on his head.  So off Brandon, Andrea and I went to Sleighbells Christmas tree farm where we found a beauty of a tree in the form of a 7 1/2 foot Noble Fir.

Then home we came with our Christmas treasure.  I turned on the Christmas music and asked: "Who wants to help decorate the tree?"
"Not I," said Brandons kids.
"Not I," said Jared.
"Can I go to my girlfriends house and help them decorate their Christmas tree?" asked Collin.
"I'll help" answered Andrea.

So the tree is up, the giant candy canes are in the yard, stockings adorn our banister, and ribbons and lights have given the house a festive glow.  I'll let you guess which of all the children is going to get the most presents this year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How Did We Survive?

A few days ago my 16 month old nephew peered into the fridge and pointed at some leftover birthday cake as his choice for breakfast.  My little sister reflected back and remembered that our mom used to let us eat cake for breakfast, so she decided to carry on that decision.  It caused me to think back on some of the things my siblings and I used to do when we were kids.   Some things were harmless pleasures like cake for breakfast, or seeing who could spit the cherry pits the farthest across the kitchen.  (My mom was pretty indulgent of our childish antics!) Other things would no longer be considered safe, or even legal.  It made me wonder how so many of us who grew up in the age before seat belts and bike helmets made it through childhood unscathed, or at least mostly intact!

One thing I remember doing on several occasions with  2 of my brothers was taking turns "riding" in the dryer.  One of us would climb inside while the others closed the door, and turned it on.  Round and round we would tumble. At the time we thought we were so cool, now I'm amazed we didn't end up on the evening news. (Pretty sure mom didn't know we were doing this!)  We also enjoyed mounting a plastic sled and riding it down the stairs, with the wall at the end of the hallway to stop us.  And who could forget tying a tube or old slip-and-slide onto the back of the car and sliding around the neighborhood on a cold, winter night?

How about riding around while lying  in the back window of the car?  I remember riding through  Canada that way (though the memory is a little fuzzy as I may have had a concussion at the time...but that's another story...remind me to tell you about jumping on the tent someday!)

We also had some stellar babysitters that provided the highest level of care.  I remember my teenage aunt babysitting us one night, and literally sitting on us, because she said that's what she'd been hired to do.  Another sitter dared my brother  to eat a worm.  He fried it up, slathered it in ketchup, and consumed the worm.  Yet another sitter (funny, they didn't seem to come back more than once...) kept us amused by launching us off of his feet through the air and into the mattress he'd propped up against the wall.  You'd be surprised how high a six year old will go.

Sometimes I worry my kids are missing out.  They've never ridden in a car without being properly strapped into their seat, never felt the exhilaration of their face hitting the wall at the end of the stairway, and never slid around behind a car at 40mph with the snow blowing through their hair.  They have however, had cake for breakfast!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gloopy mess

I've been trying to eat a little healthier lately.  In lieu of a Diet Coke and a PB&J for breakfast I've been making myself a gloopy bowl of hot oatmeal with frozen blueberries in it each morning.  Unfortunately, it's throwing off my morning groove.  I have a carefully timed, and well tuned routine I go through each morning- right down to leaving my house 5 minutes before I have to be at work.  (It only takes me about 4 minutes to get there- I know, it's a rough commute!)  Anyway, my new found fiber and antioxidant rich breakfast takes exactly 5 minutes to cook- compared to the 60 seconds the PB&J required. This leaves a 4 minute deficit in my schedule.  I could probably absorb that into my morning somehow- maybe only shave one leg, skip flossing, or resist my email compulsion.  But that isn't the only problem.  A PB&J can be polished off while walking out to the car, or while operating the motor vehicle.  My purple stained oatmeal is not nearly so condusive to on-the-go consumption.  Why don't I just eat it before I leave the house you ask?  It's too hot.  Why don't I eat it while sitting at my desk at work?  It's too cold.  But in the car, precariously perched between the steering wheel and my chest, with one hand spooning, and the other hand maintaining balance...In the words of Goldilocks, well, It's just right!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rough Start

Most mornings my alarm clock and I engage in an elaborate tango of sorts.  As it creeps towards its allocated time of torture I spend the last hour or two with one bleary eye taking careful note of the position of my stalker.  But after a four day weekend my defenses were down and my biorythyms were off. Suddenly and unexpectedly my blissful slumber was rudely awakened by distant strains of "Viva LaVida" blaring. AAAAAAGGH! Welcome back Monday,  It's gonna be a long week!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Picture Perfect Memories

Each year I spend some time creating pages to add to the kids' scrapbooks and give them to them as part of their Christmas gift.  I start out each year with the grand intentions of keeping current with the photos, but when that fails I spend an immeasurable amount of time throughout November and December trying to sort through the photos and create beautiful creative pages that will be passed down and treasured for generations (heehee- at least that's how it goes in my head). 

This year as I was sorting through the past 12 months and 18 gazillion photos I realized something. The photographic evidence of our celebrations, vacations, and milestones is often the best part of the event.  For example, when I looked through pictures of the family all carving jack-o-lanterns, all I saw was smiling happy children joyously celebrating the bounteous squash harvest and eagerly anticipating an exciting night of trick-or-treating and dressing up as a beloved character.  I didn't see slimy pumpkin seeds mashed into my carpet.  I didn't hear whining about the frugal improvised version of the costume they'd wanted.  I didn't feel my teeth rotting from the Dots and carmel apple suckers.  It just looked like some good holiday fun.

As I waded through the pictures of our family trip to California and Disneyland last spring I couldn't help but wonder who that perfect family was in all the shots. A snapshot of a teenage brother carrying his adoring little sister on his shoulders, a fun-loving family all splashing together in the sparkling pool at the hotel, a relaxed couple lounging on the beach as their children gathered shells along the shore. Beaming faces exploring Mickeys wonderland.  Gone was the evidence of children bickering for the entire 20 hour (each way!) road trip. Nowhere to be found was the snide comments, short tempers and achy feet that were prevalent throughout the week.  Amazing!

My hope is that as the kids grow, and look back at their "oh so fabulous" scrapbooks, they'll also discover the phenomenon I'm coining as "Picture Perfect Memories".  I hope they'll remember the good times- the trips to the pumpkin patch, picnics at the park, summers at the cabin, baking cookies in the kitchen.  I hope the picture perfect memories will overshadow the arguments, the lectures, the frustrated sighs. Someday I hope to be the mother my photo album says I am!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A great place to work

Recently at Brandon's work they did some remodeling. I expected new, cheery paint, brighter bulbs, new desks and tables. The usual office improvements and upgrades. Tonight he took me for a tour of the new place. First we stopped by the spectacular modern chrome kitchen . After taking advantage of the free Starbucks cappuccino and hot chocolate machine we mosied over and lounged on the couch in the large cushy rec room with the massive flat screen TV. Then we meandered through the upgraded and sparkling cafeteria with it's free drinks, blood pressure machine, and in house bank, past the fitness room, and on to the game room with another big screen TV, a pool table, a Foosball table, and each took a seat in the Cadillac of massage chairs. For 15 minutes my body was kneaded, pulsed, vibrated and rubbed from head to toe.

"Why would they do all this dear?" I asked, thinking to myself that these upgrades had to cut back on employee productivity. "They want us to think this is a great place to work" he replied. As I thought back over my day at work I pondered the perks of working for the public school system...900 kids...and their boogers...hmmmm...still pondering...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

206 days until summer

I love summer! I love the warm sparkling sunshine, the clear blue sky, the smell of fresh cut grass. I love the lazy mornings and late evenings. Picnics at the beach, outdoor movies at the park, the smell of BBQ's wafting through the neighborhood, and road trips. But most of all, I love the feel of fresh dirt between my fingers, spending hours wandering through the nursery finding the perfect additions to my yard, watching tiny seedlings push their way through the soil to reach for the sunshine. I love watching the bulbs spring forth as their sumptuous blooms come forth after a long winters nap. I love the hanging baskets of geraniums and trailing lobelia and the climbing clematis that liven my front porch and make me smile as they grow.

As fall sets in, with winter quickly on its heels, my spirits seem to fall a little as each of the plants in my yard begin to turn yellow and wither away. The gray skies move in, sunshine grows dim, and the whole world seems to sigh as it settles into the dreary winter months. I've considered hibernating from about the first week of November until mid-April, and have even done my part to pack on those winter pounds, but the logistics of taking off 5 1/2 months has just never proven doable. Laundry still needs done, kids still need fed, and my employer refuses to agree to the arrangement. So, as a compromise between myself and Mother Nature, this year I am attempting to keep a little piece of summer around all year long.

My computer room is now brightened by the cheery red blooms, and green foliage of my plentiful collection of geraniums. Last week, on drizzly Saturday in late October, I carefully and lovingly repotted my large outdoor plants into more suitable indoor containers. Then I shifted and scrunched the current "space-taker-uppers" from off the filing cabinet, table and shelves to make room for my 6 glorious pots. I'm hoping they'll take to their new gentler surroundings and flourish and grow, as an alternative to the yearly suicide their predecessors have chosen come winter. I'm also hoping they will help keep my winter-blah's at bay. Maybe I'll make a little picnic, spread a blanket on the floor , turn the halogen lamp on high and pretend that summer is just around the corner!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Got Blog?

After years of intending to join the ranks of bloggers around the world- here I first shot at worldwide fame, or at least a token gesture at some regular journaling. "But Soni", you might say..."isn't each and every day of your life basically just a boring repeat of the previous day, and a precursor of what lies ahead tomorrow?" "Yes indeed," I reply. But after 36 years of living I've decided that uneventful days are some of the best ones. It's the dramatic and eventful ones that seem to cause the gray hairs and credit card bills. So here's to the journey, and hoping it is prosaic (a little word I picked up while meandering through the thesarus ...not to be confused with a Prozac journey!) Wish me luck!