Friday, December 28, 2007

A Complaint Letter

Dear Father Time,

I thought with the new year fast approaching, that this would be a good time for me to write you a letter, and let you know something. I'm on to you. You think that you are so subtle, leaving traces of your existence gradually, and in small doses. You think because I am so busy raising a toddler, that a wrinkle here, and a gray hair there will go unnoticed. YOU ARE WRONG.

When my first gray hair arrived at the tender age of 26, I shrieked, and pulled it out with enough force to give myself whiplash. But, then, I thought about it, and I'll have you know I took pride in that gray hair, Father Time, because I had earned it that year. Throughout these past nine years following that day, you have been rather kind, dispersing the gray hairs sporadically, and only a few at a time. I could just yank them out and go about my days, not giving them much thought. But, lately, the multitude of tiny regrowth hairs sticking straight up, making me look like Alfalfa, is making me angry. So, you want me to start dyeing my hair. Fine. I get it. More work for me, but whatever.

Let's talk about the noises. I don't recall my knees making that noise when I stood up before. What's that popping noise I sometime hear in my lower back? Come to think of it, didn't I used to get up a lot quicker and move more gracefully? You know what? That's not a problem either. I'm sure it is just a result of carrying around a 25 lb squirmy toddler, and bending over thousands of times throughout the day to pick up toys and books, so I don't trip on them - wouldn't want to break a hip, you know.

Let's talk about my eyes, Father Time. It's bad enough that I have to wear glasses or contacts. It's bad enough that my eyesight gets slightly worse with each eye appointment. It's bad enough that I've actually given the phrase "blind as a bat" thought. I understand where the dark circles come from - I used to sleep until noon! But, these wrinkles under my eyes and at the corner are unnecessary, don't you think? So, I've entered the days of standing in a grocery store aisle, poring over the thousands of ingredients I've never heard of, and that probably don't really exist, to decide which 40 dollar eye cream to buy. Fine. Less money for me, but whatever.

My ears really worry me, Father Time. Since I started out with bad hearing, I don't have a lot of leeway in this area. Could you just please be gentle with me? I know I'm teaching my kid signs, but I think I might need more than "milk", "more", "shoes", "car", "dog", "fish", and "eat", to communicate with my family, at least in any kind of meaningful way.

I remember when I was young, and I dreamt of getting a skateboard or a boom box for Christmas. (Shut up! Yes, I did say boom box). This year one of the presents I'm most excited about is the Zoom teeth whitening process that my husband bought for me. So sad, but so true.

And what about...(whispering)..the mustache. That's not even funny. Stop laughing! You are cruel and inhumane, Father Time, do you know that? I want you to know that I have noticed all of these things, and that's fine, I'll age, but I'm going to age gracefully, and with as much dignity as I can muster up. I will hold my old, tired head up high, and I'll go, but I'll be kicking and screaming. Hope you're up for a fight. And, listen, since we are apparently going to be on such close terms, mind if I call you "Dad"?

Friday, December 21, 2007

The One You've Been Waiting For

Well, the Christmas cards have been rolling in. How nice to finally get mail that isn't bills, fliers, or catalogs for a few weeks out of the year! I love to get cards, but of course, I have a few opinions on Christmas cards. I know, shocking, right?! Now, those of you who have already sent me a card, please don't take this too seriously. I love getting ALL the cards, so please, keep them coming, and feel free to ignore this particular rant.
But, here are my thoughts...

1. This might be the most important one. Glitter Sucks!! I hate glitter. No glitter, No where, No how! I think my hatred of glitter began when I taught preschool. It seems that in a preschool classroom every craft must be made by pouring lots and lots of glitter all over whatever you happen to be making that day. Glitter on the table that you will put your arm in for months, because you can never get rid of all of it. Glitter on the floor that you will step on, then track everywhere you go until you swear someone is messing with you, because "How did it end up coming home with me!!" Glitter in your hair, your clothes, your food! So, that is why, when I open a Christmas card with layers of glitter on it, I cringe.

2. Cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. James (and our last name). I know, I know, that is the proper way to do it. But, to being proper I say "Phllbbtt!!" I am not just an extension of my wonderful husband, James. I have a name, too. I gladly gave up my last name, (didn't care for it, anyway), but could I at least keep my first name?

3. As an only child, I have been complaining about this one for years... Cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. So and So & Family. And Family! It was just me. If they couldn't remember my name, they could put "& Daughter", although remembering my name would be good for my ego.

4. I actually kind of enjoy those hokey Christmas letters people send. I like to know what people have been doing. What upsets me are the ones written by the woman of the house (most of them are), that gushes about each of her kids achievements, and her husband's new promotion, but there is not one thing written about her year.

5. Cards addressed just to my husband! Yep, some bleepity bleeper actually neglected to even acknowledge both me and Dylan on the card! This bleeper got a card from us last year, so she knows of my existence and Dylan's, so that is just so bleeping rude. When I expressed my disgust to Jim, he said, "What does it matter? You're never going to meet her anyway, since she lives so far away." "Lucky for her"-my reply.

And now, without further ado, this year's card...

If you can't read this, click on it to see it bigger.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Three Candles

My grandfather on my dad's side was a man of few words. He didn't quite know how to relate to a child - what to do, or what to say. But, I knew he loved me. I didn't really see him much, but my dad always went over to visit him, and he told me that every time he went, my grandpa, (I called him Pop-Pop), would ask a bunch of questions about me. Once, when I was about 11 or 12, my dad took me over for a couple hours, and left us alone with each other. I looked at him, he looked at me, I looked at him again. "Well, what now?", we both thought. "Would you like to watch tv?", he asked nervously. When I said, "Sure", he handed me his TV Guide. He had gone through the whole evening, half hour by half hour, and circled the shows that he thought I would like to watch! Even at that young age, I remember being touched by that small act of love. The biggest act of love, though, that I remember, is when I was older. When I was in high school, I was very interested in art, and one year for Christmas I drew or painted something for each member of my family. When I went to his home a little after Christmas, there was my drawing, proudly displayed in the middle of his living room...upside down! He didn't even know what the heck it was, but he was so proud of it!

We spent a lot of time with my grandparents on my mom's side, as I was growing up. My grandma was one awesome lady. She was real - a here I am, this is me, no bullshit type of person. (I'd like to think I inherited that trait from her). She was all about her family. She would do anything for us. We could do no wrong - she was always on our side. I swear I could have said, "I kicked a puppy", and grandma would have said, "Well, I'm sure he had it coming". She was always in the kitchen cooking, and would warn us all, "Eat up, cuz that's all yer gonna get!" Then, an hour later, she would be shoving more food at us. She was funny, without trying to be. We like to play games in my family, and one favorite was a card game, Pit. If you've never played, basically you shout out the number of cards you want to trade, "TWO! TWO! TWO!", trying to get all the same cards, without ending up holding the Bear or Bull cards. We would all be yelling, "TWO! TWO! THREE! THREE!", and grandma would yell, "BEAR! BEAR!" I knew that more than anything, she wanted me to be happy. She was so thrilled when I married Jim, because she liked him, which was no small thing because she was tough on anyone who wasn't family. After only about a year of Jim and I being married, she asked me, "Has everything checked out with you two?" "What do you mean, grandma?", I asked. "Well, WHY haven't you had a baby yet?", she exclaimed, perplexed. She was so anxious for another great grandchild! I wish she could have met Dylan. I wish I could see her face light up when he walked into the room, but I feel that she does see him, and she is smiling.

In July of 1998, my fiance, Doug, was killed when a car hit his motorcycle. What can I say about Doug? He was fun, friendly to everyone, and passionate about life and those he loved. He cherished me, and made me feel safe, beautiful, and sexy. He was like a child, experiencing life with such joy. I remember when we went to a wave pool once. It was his first time going to one. When the bell rang, and the waves started, he ran towards them, along with all the kids, riding wave after wave. He would get up after being slammed by a wave, and turn to grin at me. He was affectionate, and wore his heart on his sleeve. When we were out together, people either looked at us like, "Oh, that is so cute", or "Oh, God, get a room". When Doug asked a person "How are you?", he really cared what the answer was. He understood me - I mean really understood me. That is not to say that we didn't fight. I think because we were so much alike, emotionally, we fought quite often, usually about hurt feelings, but we resolved them with love and understanding.

When Doug died, I started going to a Catholic church near my home, to light a candle. I'm not even sure why. I'm not Catholic, and I've never done that before. But, there was something symbolic about lighting that candle. It said that his memory lived on. That I would never forget. At Christmas, I lit a candle and kept it burning all day, symbolizing his presence.

At Christmas time, I often think of the people who have meant so much to me. I think of all the people, and the memories I have of them at Christmas. I think of what they have added to my life, and how they have shaped me. Maybe this year, amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas day, you will find three candles lit at my table. But, even if they aren't on the table, they are shining brightly my heart.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Cards from the Past - Part 2

Back to the Christmas card festivities...

This card Jim made himself. It's the typical picture of the husband, wife, and cat in front of the fireplace, with a twist.

On the back of the card was the same picture, only with me giving the cat a dirty look. Those who know us well, know that that cat drove me nuts, but I did grow to love it in my own annoyed way.

Here is the card we sent out last year. I took the picture, and Jim designed the labels.

What a peaceful, angelic scene, don't you think? But, you didn't hear the screams(ours and Dylan's), or see the madness involved in getting that perfect shot. Here are just a couple...

Wow, that boy could scream!!

To rave a bit, my wonderfully talented and creative husband always makes the Christmas card he gives me. I love each and every one! I'll leave out the really mushy stuff, for those of you who can't handle it. We are sappy people at this house! We met in 2000, and I have one for each year.

It is 3 dimensional and says "I Wuv Yu..Thif Muth! Mrry Mifmufff!!!"

Now, for 2001...

The one for 2002 hangs on our wall each Christmas...

The one for 2003...

I'm sure I was the one saying "Hey, watch it!".


Sometime after I received this card, I think I began to complain that while yes, I do love snowmen, that sooo many people had given me snowmen as gifts that they were taking over the house. My snowman affection was dwindling, which resulted in this card for 2005..

The "Official Snowman Free" Christmas card had a bunch of sappy sentiments inside that makes me all warm and gooey, but would make you all "Blabbity, blabbity, yappity, yappity, Blech, Blech!!"(finger on tongue), so I will spare you.

I can't find last year's, but Jim has the graphic on the computer. Inside it said something about him being thrilled with our new little snowball.
I'll end with a Christmas song I sent in a card for a friend of mine a long time ago. The back story is that the guy she was dating still hadn't said those 3 crucial words every woman waits to hear..."No, I'll clean", oh sorry, I mean "I love you".

Tis the season to be naked, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Liquor him up and get him wasted, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Don we now our lingerie, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Make him forget the time of day, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
See the blazing hormones raging, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Suddenly he is exclaiming, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
That he really loves you dearly, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
And he's been a fool clearly, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
Then you call me, scream and shout, fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.
While the poor guy passes out, fa, la, la, la, la, LA, LA, LA, LA!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Cards from the Past

Survivor is on, people!! Why am I posting? Because I have the best invention known to man - DVR. Also, after that depressing game we endured this afternoon, I know Pam and the Burgh Baby's Mom need to get back in the holiday spirit.
And hey, I hope these make the rest of you happy and joyful as well.

I took the photos and drew the picture for this one, and Jim used his awesome computer skills to put it all together. Inside it said, "Hope you get want you want for Christmas this year!" Jim wanted me dressed as a french maid, bringing him beer and chips. Here's a close up of Jim - cleaning our toilet -what I wanted for Christmas...

The color is totally off on here, but you get the idea.
I was gonna do more, but I really need to go watch Survivor now. More tomorrow.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Freaky Friday

For those of you wonderfully compassionate people who were wondering how the rest of my week was going, let me just say this, it didn't get much better. I was in a seriously bad mood - you know it's bad when I can't even find the humor in my crazy life. But on the upside (to quote my blogger buddy Kellan), I didn't buy a bazooka and go postal either.

Then, came today. Did you ever have a day that feels like you are living in a Bizarro cartoon? First off, the switch over from formula to regular milk has been so smooth for Dylan, that I decided today was the day to attempt milk in the sippy cup. He has been happily drinking juice in his sippy cup for a long time, and he likes the taste of regular milk, so how bad could it be? Honestly, I expected it to be bad. I was prepared for bad. He LOVES his bottle, and I know this. So, when I put the cup down, my hands practically shaking with anticipation, and he immediately started drinking, I was ecstatic! YES!! Woo-hoo's!! High fives!! Ooooh yea, ooooh yea. Hey, Dylan! Hey, Dylan! But - it is Freaky Friday - and he suddenly realized "Wait! I'm drinking milk, out of a cup?! Where's my da*& bottle?" Then came the meltdown of all meltdowns, resulting in choking and then throwing up on the rug.

Jim missed the fun, because he had an appointment at the Mac store with "The Genius". No kidding, this guy's job title, as it reads on his business card, is "Lead Genius". At first I was all "I want that job!", but then I was all "That's a lot of pressure!" The Genius was very busy when Jim got there, (as a genius should be), so Jim had to wait. He sat in a beanbag chair and played with some kid's software (wish I could've seen that). While the Genius, and his not so genius coworker were looking something up for Jim on the internet, the power went off in the store, and the alarm started going off! Freaky Friday, folks.
When he came home, (with no answers to his questions - what kind of a genius is that?!), I tagged out, and left for a couple desperately needed hours of ME time.

First I headed to the bank to cash my work check. Now, I will attempt to tell this story without offending anyone. I will be totally PC, and use the terms Caucasian and African American, but I'll shorten it to C, and AA, since I'm lazy. This particular bank is in a part of town with mostly AA's. When I went in, there was a long line, and I'm not very patient during ME time, so I was crabby. There was only one other C, other than me, in the long line of people. Everyone was behaving as one does in a line of strangers, staring at the wall, or the ground, fidgeting, and shifting from leg to leg, when suddenly the C starting talking. Just random stuff, about the weather, or something. I don't know. I wasn't paying attention, and was kind of weirded out that she was talking in general. No one was answering her, either. Suddenly, everyone was staring at me! Staring! Do I have a booger, I was thinking. Then, I realized because I am a C, and she is a C, that they assumed she must be talking to me! Why isn't she answering, they were all thinking.

After the bank, I went to the post office and got stamps, then went to ONE store, where I got almost all of my Christmas shopping done in less than 2 hours! Before I walked into the store, I had no idea what I was even getting anyone! Freaky Friday, I'm telling you.

For dinner, the 3 of us went to King's. We were sitting there attempting to feed ourselves, hold an adult conversation (for once), and throw the food at Dylan fast enough to keep him eating and more importantly, quiet, when suddenly this guy started talking to us. He commented that Dylan has a great smile. People are often commenting about Dylan, so this wasn't strange at all. What was strange was that he kept talking...and talking...and talking. About the time I thought he was going to move his family over to join our table, he started talking to other people sitting nearby. Then, to other people. Hey-ay, it's a party, at Ki-ings, we're all he-ere.

Maybe some people are really feeling the Christmas spirit, or maybe I woke up this morning in another town where people are actually friendly. Either way, I'm a little freaked.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This Isn't Good Either!

When I left for work this morning, my dad remarked, "Have a good day". Then, he chuckled, and said "Well, you'll either have a good day, or some more blog material for tonight!" Does the fact that I'm here blogging again give you a clue how my day went?

I was only supposed to work from 11 - 2pm, three hours wouldn't be so bad, I reasoned. I was to go to the house by 11:00, pick up the car seats, get to the school by 11:30, and pick up the girls. We would get back to the house around 12:00. I'd give them lunch, clean up lunch, then we'd have a little free time until we had to leave at 1:15 to meet their mom at the doctor's office where Bella had an appointment at 1:45. That was the plan. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Instead, when I got to the house at 11, there was a note asking me to turn the oven on before we left to cook the chicken in there, and have the girls clean their playroom. I knew the "have the girls clean the playroom" part would throw a kink in the plan. The playroom is a M.E.S.S., with far too many toys, and not enough places to put them. The girls HATE to clean the playroom. It usually results in whining, bargaining, threats, screaming, stomping, crying, and lots of eyerolling (you guess who does which).

I picked them up from school. Grace had colored two pictures - one of a Christmas tree, one of baby Jesus in a manger. Bella immediately upon getting into the car demanded to know which one Grace had made for her. Grace, being ever so gracious, said she could have the Christmas tree. "I DON'T WANT THE CHRISTMAS TREE!! I WANT JESUS!!", came Bella's ever so appreciative reply. I remarked, "If I offered to give someone something, and they yelled at me, I wouldn't give them anything", to which Grace remarked, "Yea, Bella, now I'm not giving you either one!" That resulted in about 10 minutes of crying, fighting, pulling hair, and screams of "I WANT JESUS!!" over and over. After so long of that, I was wanting Jesus myself - to come and take me away, far away from there.

When we got home and I fixed lunch, I handed Bella a plate with her order - a hotdog. Then I watched as she lifted the plate to move something under it, and the hotdog rolled right off the plate, onto the floor, where the dog scarfed it up whole, like a vacuum cleaner. "Lovely", I sighed as I pulled another hotdog out of the package to cook. They were finished with lunch by about 12:30. I told them "I brought something really cool in my nanny bag, and whoever does the best job of cleaning up the playroom gets to use it first!" That actually worked pretty well, and they were done cleaning by about 12:50.

As we came downstairs to get my cool thing (Fashion Plates - remember that? I still have mine.), I stopped short, and just stared momentarily in horror...There was a huge pile of dog barf on the living room rug. You know how I feel about cleaning up kids' barf, how do you think I feel about cleaning up hotdoggy dog barf of a dog that isn't even mine? I set the girls up in the kitchen with the Fashion Plates, and mentally prepared myself for the cleaning task. I walked into the dining room to find another pile of hotdoggy loveliness on that carpet. It was now 1:00, and we needed to leave the house by 1:15. Oh, and I forgot to mention that immediately upon entering the house each day, the girls run upstairs and Grace puts on a cheerleader outfit, and Bella becomes a princess. That is what they were wearing at 1:00, while I was cleaning up dog barf.

When I realized that is what they were still wearing at about 1:10, I suddenly became a lunatic. I yelled, "GO UPSTAIRS AND GET DRESSED!!! WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE IN FIVE MINUTES!!" with the eyebrows in full force. When Grace came down a few minutes later still wearing the cheerleader outfit, I yelled, "GRACE!! GET DRESSED!!". She started to cry, and I wasn't far from it myself, when Bella traipsed down the stairs wearing a very interesting getup that she had picked out all by herself. I didn't have time to care.

We left the house, and when they starting bombarding me with questions in the car, I said "I need to think. I have to follow these directions, and no one is to say another word until we get to the doctors, understand?". The fact that I was breathing fire, and my eyebrows were about to pop off my face, must have got the point across, because they were silent.

When we got to the office, (only 5 minutes late!!), their mom asked, "Could you stay with Grace while I take Bella in to see the doctor?" "NOOOOOOOOO!!!! I WANNA GO HOOOME!!" (in my head). "Sure" (out loud). An hour later, I finally went home.

No offense to all of you, but I really, really, really hope I'm not blogging tomorrow night. By the way, I never did turn that oven on. Wonder what they had for dinner?

Monday, December 10, 2007

This is BAD!

My day didn't start out well. As I left for work, Dylan had a meltdown, crying pitifully and reaching out for me as I left for work. Ouch, my heart! When I got to the car I realized I didn't have my cell phone, but there was no way I was going back in to redo that goodbye, so I left without it.

When I got to my employers house, there was a note reminding me that Grace had speech today, so I would have to take the girls straight there after I picked them up from school. Their dad had packed a lunch for the girls to eat before speech. I had forgotten about speech, and packed something for myself that needed microwaved. So, I got to sit there, my stomach growling, my mouth salivating, while they picked at their enormous lunch time feast like birds. They left almost 3/4 of the food uneaten, but knowing where those hands have been, and the fact that they had touched all of the food, kept me from eating a single bite of it. So, I was grouchy. I had only eaten a granola bar for breakfast. Oh well, we would get back to their house around 2:00, and I would eat then. Not exactly.

When we got to the house, I grabbed the assortment of papers, drawings, notes, stuffed animals, etc. in the car, instructing each of them to carry one item. (Any more than one, and you get drama and papers flying all over the yard). We ran in the pouring rain to the door, and I put in my key, and pushed the door - BANG! "What?!" The chain lock was on. "Oh, come on!!". We ran over to try the other door. The storm door was locked. I exclaimed, "This is BAD. This is very BAD"! Cue the parrots.."This is BAD. This is very BAD. This is BAD. This is very BAD", and so on. "Okay", I said. "The sliding glass door in the back is never locked. Let's go back there". "This is BAD. This is very BAD"...from the parrots. The gate to the yard was locked! I pulled a lawn chair over to the gate, climbed onto it, climbed onto the gate, then over the banister to the stairs, while the parrots were squealing "Miss Jen, we're getting all wet!". "Yea, me too", I replied, before finding the sliding glass door was also locked. Reverse climb. "What are we gonna do, Miss Jen?", asked Bella. "I gotta pee", exclaimed Grace.

We ran back to the car, and I cursed myself for not going back in for my cell phone earlier. I tried to quickly think of a place that would have a phone, a bathroom, and would tolerate 2 loud preschoolers. "To McDonalds!" That started the chorus of "Can we eat there? I wanna eat there! Can we?". Well, taking children to McDonalds and not letting them eat, is like taking a kid to Disney and not letting them ride the rides. "First, we pee. Then, we make a phone call. Then, we eat!" As soon as we got into McDonalds Bella grabbed a whole handful of straws and put them in her pocket. "I'll deal with that later", I thought. Grace was nearing the point of peeing her pants, so we all rushed in to the ladies room. While Grace peed, Bella passed out straws to women as they came out of the stalls. "Here you go. A straw for you". "Um...thanks", replied the first victim. "It's a new service McDonalds is offering", I explained.

While I called their mom's cell, Bella gave the customers entering the building their straws. No answer from their mom. "Guess we'll eat", I said. They ran over to the counter, and started telling the guy what they wanted. He barked at them, "YOU'LL HAVE TO WAIT YOUR TURN! THERE'S A LINE!" I thought, "Geez, chill buddy". When we got up to him again, the girls were grabbing and touching everything, and he again barked "DON'T TOUCH THAT! LEAVE THAT ALONE!", before I could even tell them to put stuff back. "Wow, this isn't a museum, it's McDonalds. If you aren't kid friendly, go work at my Giant Eagle where nastiness is expected" (I said in my head, unfortunately). Since I only had enough cash for their lunches, I didn't order anything.

After we ate, I called their dad's cell, and found out that the right side of their garage door is always open. I had checked the left side, and upon finding it locked, assumed the right side would also be locked. "There's a lot of stuff in there, but you'll be able to get in", their dad told me. When we got back to the house, and I opened the garage door, I realized "a lot", stood for "A LOT!!!" I literally had to climb into the house, as the girls shouted, "Be careful, Miss Jen! Don't hurt yourself!", from the driveway. I finally ate my lunch at 3:30pm.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bah Humbuggin'

Let me start out by saying, I DO like Christmas. Christmas is good. But today I am just so NOT IN THE MOOD! I looked at the calendar this morning, and it suddenly dawned on me that Christmas is in about 2 weeks. Two weeks?!? How the hell did that happen? I envisioned bringing Dylan downstairs, all "Dylan! Look at the tree! And the lights! And the snowman! And the wreath! And the lights!" His eyes would get wide, his smile would get wider, and he would toddle around from one wonderous decoration to the next. Instead, it's "Look, Dylan. It's all the same old crap you've seen every day for the past 12 months! Yippee." We haven't taken a single decoration out of their carefully organized and labeled boxes.

I bought two gifts so far. Two!! Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I made a well intentioned and admirable pledge that is "ruining Christmas for everyone else" (Jim's words). At first he was all "Jen, I admire you for taking a stand, and sticking to your beliefs". Then, after about the fifth thing he wanted to buy said Made in China, his tune took a drastic turn.

We decided since Dylan would surely redecorate anything within reach by promptly putting the items in his mouth for a taste test, that we would start a new tradition. We would buy a small tree to put on a tabletop that would be Dylan's tree. Each year when he is old enough we would let him pick out an ornament for his tree and decorate his tree. Sounded good, until we searched every darn store in the vicinity for a tree and discovered the Chinese have cornered the xmas tree market. Grrrrr.

Moving right along to the Christmas card merriment. Every year, or almost every year, since being married, Jim and I have designed our own cards to send out. We both went to school for art, although Jim is a MUCH better artist than I am, we both are creative, I love photography, he's great with design, I write poetry. It should be simple. It's not. NOT, NOT, NOT! If I am designing the card, Jim has to have his input. If he is designing the card, I have to have my input.

So today was the day to complete the card. I took the photo of Dylan last weekend, with Jim's help keeping the subject in the shot - not an easy task with a newly walking toddler! I finished the poem to go with it last week. All we had to do was choose a layout on the Target website and order them. But, the 300 or so (I exaggerate a tad, but there's a lot) designs were snubbed, poo-poohed, and deemed unacceptable by my fussy, must have the best card ever, husband. He spent the better part of the day coming up with his own design, thank you very much, while I bit my tongue, and counted to..oh hell, I lost track. But, the card is done, and now we just have to pick them up, print out the poem, cut them out, find envelopes, label them, buy more stamps, and send them. Then, to decorate, string the lights, buy the gifts... I'm going to need alcohol - lots of alcohol.

I know you are dying to see the card now, but you must wait, like everyone else! (Evil laughter)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

An Introduction to Snow

Last year at this time, we were bundling Dylan into his car seat, throwing a blanket over him, and booking it to the usually already warmed up car, because he was little, fragile, and brand spankin' new! Needless to say, he didn't exactly get a proper introduction to snow, not that he would have noticed or even cared. But, this year, I was eagerly awaiting the moment there would be enough snow on the ground that I wouldn't look like an complete loon if I took him out and made the introduction.
Today was the day, after a quick call to "daddy" to make sure he wouldn't be pissed about missing this first.

I approached it methodically, as if planning a battle. First, I went through my winter box, finding my snowpants (that now need to be held together with a safety pin - YIKES), hat, gloves, thermal wear, turtleneck, heavy socks, boots, and ski coat. I put the first layer on, then moved on to Dylan. I got his stuff ready, a turtleneck, heavy fleece pants, warm socks, snow overalls, hat, and jacket with attached gloves. I bought 3 pairs of boots at a consignment store a few months ago anticipating this very event, so after changing his diaper, I starting trying them on him to decide which ones would work best. The first two I couldn't even get on his feet, which makes no sense because they are actually a size bigger than what he wears in shoes. The first of the third pair, went on no problem, but by that time, he was over trying on boots, and decided to take it off and hightail it out of there. Cue the corny music they play in old movies where one person is chasing another. I chased him around the house, trying desperately to get those *&^% boots on. He decided this was great fun, and giggled and hee hawed through every room in the house.

When I finally wrestled, (in this corner - Sweaty Mommy! In this corner - Annoyed Kid With Too Many Layers On!), him into all his clothes, and got my own on (while he sat there looking pissed, cute, and ridiculous all at the same time), I made a decision about the boots. They wouldn't stay on, and he couldn't walk in them at all, so I put on a pair of his shoes, and put a zip lock bag around each one, securing it with a rubber band. "A little piece of genius, right there", I smugly thought to myself. Then we were off. "Snow, Dylan. Dylan, Snow. Nice to meet you".

After my poor kid slid halfway across our back deck, on his zip lock iceskates, before the big crash and burn, I had a vague recollection of my mom doing the EXACT same thing to me when I was a kid, with the EXACT same result! Holy Crap! We really are destined to repeat our parent's mistakes, aren't we? Luckily, my parents didn't make very many, (right Mom and Dad?XXOO). I had a great time, and my newly signing smartie pants kept signing "More" when we came in, so I guess he enjoyed it too!

"Yea, Mommy. I can't move OR see. This should be fun".

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Past, Present, and Future Meme

Okay, so Burgh Baby's Mom, at , decided to get creative and come up with her own holiday meme, then she tagged me! I like the fact that she didn't just follow the crowd, but took initiative, and did her own thing, so I'll gladly play along. (Well, sort of. I'm not tagging anyone. I still don't know how to link to someone else, and I hate to play favorites anyway).

So, I'm supposed to list my favorite childhood Christmas gift, my favorite gift that I received as an adult, and a gift that I would like to receive in the future.

Past: I'm an only child, but I spent a lot of time growing up with my two male cousins. Combine that with the fact that I have never been a girly girl - never liked to wear dresses, braid my hair, paint my nails, buy shoes(size 11, remember?!), swap recipes, etc. So, every year when Christmas rolled around, I was dreaming of matchbox cars, skateboards, and machine guns, and every year, I seemed to get...dolls. But, one year I got a toy I truly loved. You got to be a pilot, and look through the scope at the slowly spinning disc that had various targets. Then, you would pull the trigger and drop a bomb, KABOOM! What fun! Wish I still had that. (Inside my soft spoken, laid back self, is an inner bad ass vigilante just waiting to escape).

Present: As an adult, my best Christmas was last year. Dylan was only a month old, and I was basking in the glow of new mommyness. Since Jim and I are both only children, holidays were small, quiet gatherings, but adding a baby to the mix has made holidays more exciting, more joyful, and much LOUDER! I love it. The best gift, other than my son, was a gift certificate to Nemacolin for a 1 hr. couples massage. Wow. After enduring Dylan's colic scream torture for months, that massage was heavenly. When we walked out, I turned to Jim, and informed him "I'm leaving you for Heidi. Sorry".

Future: Somewhat along the same lines of Burgh Baby's Mom's answer, I would love for someone to give me a trip for Christmas. Not necessarily to Disney - I would be thrilled with just about any trip. The reason for this is simple. Sometimes I think I should change my name to "We". Let me explain. I don't really think of myself as a leader, but it is a role that I always seem to find myself in. In high school, my group of extremely different from each other friends, would all turn to me and ask "Where are we all going to go this weekend?" In college, more of the same, and on and on in just about every relationship I ever had. My family, (my parents, aunt, cousin, and I), once went to Sea World for my birthday. I felt like a sheep herder. I was screaming, and running around them in circles, "People! There is a show in 10 minutes all the way across this park! Let's go! Can we talk and walk at the same time? Is that possible?" My husband, Jim, is no different. He calls me the activity director because I plan, well, everything. When we go on vacations I hear this from Jim..."Jen, did WE make the reservations yet? Did WE remember to pack the suncreen? Did WE remember the tickets? Did WE cancel the mail? Do WE know how to get there?" "No, Jim. WE didn't, but I did". Having all the details of a trip planned for me would be AWESOME! If all my stuff would magically pack itself, that would be good too.

If any of you would like to take this one on, go for it, it is a lot of fun. It put me in the holiday spirit. Where's that spiked eggnog?