Wednesday, December 31, 2008
When Thing 1 was about 8 or 9 or so, she came to me at around 10 o'clock on New Year's and said that she was tired and wanted to go to bed, and would I come and tuck her in. (This behaviour wasn't unusual for Thing 1; she was the only 3-year-old I knew who would voluntarily go to bed, by herself, at 7:30. Thing 2 would fight to the death any idea of bedtime, no matter what the time, or the fact that she was so tired she would drift off to sleep in mid-sentance.)Without thinking too hard about it, I said 'of course' and put her to bed.
The next morning, when Thing 1 bounced out of bed, she happily asked if tonight was the night that she got to stay up all night. Oh, dear. I felt so bad for her...she had gotten the whole "Eve/Day" thing completely mixed up, and had gone to bed early the night before so that she would be rested for the coming night. She was so disappointed.....a year away is a long time when you are 9.
She never made that mistake again.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I'm not a big fan of New Year's; I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of rip-roaring, laugh-a-minute-fun-riot New Years I've ever had, and in 46 years, that's not much of a record. Mostly my memories of New Years involve standing in a snowbank wearing open-toed shoes, trying to hail a cab at one in the morning, all the while trying not to yawn so hard that it makes my head fall right off. Or I've found myself at 11 o'clock giving myself a pep talk ("Only another hour! You can do it!"), longing for my bed and my book and a cup of tea. (And before you judge, that was when I was in my 20s. It's not just because I'm old.)
Now, we tend to stay in an make a night of it with the kids. A few years ago, rather than have a big, fancy dinner, we decided that we would just have nibbles and appetizers all evening long. The kids were ecstatic; they thought this was the most sophisticated thing they had ever heard of! Combined with the idea that they could stay up all night if they wanted, they were over the moon with delight. (Just for the record, the longest they lasted was about 1 a.m., last year. Before that they struggled to stay awake until midnight. Just like their mother. But the very idea of it was dazzling, nonetheless.)
The hair salon is not very busy on New Years. Everyone tends to think that we are overrun on New Year's, but I find most people think that everyone else is doing something more exciting than themselves on New Years. The days of the elaborate, elegant dinner dances is long over...most people go to house parties or stay in, in my experience. And people don't tend to get their hair done for that.
I wish you all very well for New Year's Eve and the New Year itself. Nothing can be all bad when it starts off in my jammies with a big bowl of popcorn.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Man, there really is no greater magnet for children than water, is there? (Maybe fire, but that would be it.) Thing 2 and her friend poked at the very thin ice with sticks, risked life and limb by going way too close to the swollen creek, and fell down a lot. (Like, I mean, a LOT. Like, constantly. I began to think they had inner ear problems. The Mister got so frustrated with the two of them that he threatened to not take them to the Emergency Room if they broke their wrists. Like the idea of a home bone-setting would make them think twice about where they stepped.)
This is the pathway, still covered in water. We usually head for that bridge in the background, but today we were thwarted. The two girls were all keen to forge ahead and get to that bridge, but the Mister and I declined. Forcefully. Besides, there was that little matter of coming back through the flood that they hadn't thought of.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I love the week after Christmas, because the kids are entirely entertained, there is nothing that has to be done, and the house is full of spectacular leftovers, so I barely have to lift a finger to survive. I plan on spending the next few days lounging in my pajamas, reading all the good new books at hand and working my way through an entire box of Lindors all by myself.
Don't get me wrong, I do like Christmas itself, but the lead-up to it is exhausting and tiresome. My mother used to say that if the woman of the house doesn't make Christmas happen, it doesn't happen and she's right...I figure that the day I see a men's magazine covered in articles about "how to avoid stress over the holidays", then we will have acheived total equality.
We did have a lovely Christmas this year, though, despite my whining and complaining in the 6 weeks leading up to it. Our children are old enough now that they slept in on Christmas morning, and we opened our presents in the day light for the first time since they were born. Christmas Day saw us only changing out of our pajamas so that we could go over to my mother's for dinner, which was very nice. (A few years ago, my mother declared that she was never making turkey ever again...she and my father don't particularly like turkey or the leftovers, and she hated the way the turkey hijacked so much of her fridge space for 4 days beforehand. Usually we have prime rib, but this year we had roast chicken, which was dandy.)
My mother also made a trifle, which, as a dessert, I can take or leave, but as a breakfast, trifle is superb...the leftovers are highly prized. She gave me a great big portion, all for myself, which I enjoyed very much in the wee hours of the 26th. (When I lived with my parents, my father also held trifle for breakfast in high regard. There was a quiet but ruthless tussle for the remains of the trifle every year, which resulted in each of us trying to get up earlier than the other to have at it. We'd end up getting up at 6 then 5:30, then 5 to beat each other to it. I tell you, Christmas spirit and good will towards man went straight out the window when it came to polishing off the trifle before the other one knew what was up.)
We spent yesterday with the Mister's family, and got fed until we burst there, too.
I'm looking forward to a couple of days off work next week, too. As the kids have gotten older, I find their Christmas vacation time too short, and by taking a couple of days off I can manage some time with them. Usually, when they go back in January, I indulge in a little down time; I've made a habit of renting a movie on the Monday they go back and watching it in the middle of the afternoon. It feels like I'm totally playing hookey.
We are off to my mother's for dinner again this evening, but after that I hope to spend until Wednesday indoors, in my pajamas and on the couch with the cat. We have plenty of trifle and chicken and chocolate, we should do just fine.
Monday, December 22, 2008
The weather here has been terrible the past week or so, with a few snow squalls and storm systems wreaking havoc on people's shopping plans. The result is that every single person who celebrates Christmas went out today to get stuff done. Including me. Stupid me.
The roads were still very slushy and snowy, with the result that people just ignored the possibility of lanes, and just drove wherever they damn well pleased. The snowbanks in parking lots meant that there were fewer spots than usual, and somewhere along the line, people got the idea that if there isn't a parking spot available, you could just invent one and park there. Also, when it is snowy and people are desperate to get their shopping done, they stop driving with any degree of civility or decorum....it really does go against the spirit of the season to steal someone's parking spot. I was ready to have an aneurysm by the time we got home.
I'm not sure why Christmas is such a surprise to everyone every year; it's clearly marked on the calendar, and God knows the retail industry starts reminding us of December 25th somewhere around November the 1st. But every year, it's the same crush just before the day. I remember working in retail, many moons ago, and we were open until 3 o'clock on Christmas Eve. Inevitably, the store would be full of frantic, desperate men who would, quite literally, buy anything you put into their hands. ("Here, take this $4oo Complete Works of Beethoven set that we've had hanging around since May! Your wife will love it!")
Now the only thing I have to do is get something for myself, from the Mister. (We decided a long time ago to buy our own Christmas presents for ourselves. It saves me from getting Vegas-showgirl earrings, and him from getting a game he already has.) But at least I don't have to go out to get it for another 10 days or so.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I was walking to Starbucks this afternoon, when a youngish guy who looked like he really needed a shower asked me if I had any spare change. He wasn't particularly polite about his request (he never said "excuse me" or "please", which are the bare minimums, I think.) , so I ignored him and kept going. On my way back from Starbucks, he actually said "oh, I see you have enough money for coffee, but not enough for me", in a very wounded tone.
Not wanting to get into a verbal tussle with a guy who's not even smart enough to figure out how to put a roof over his head, I kept going. But, seriously, what the hell is that? He seemed so indignant that I selfishly spent my own money on myself instead of him. Entitlement in a homeless guy seems a little misplaced, if you ask me.
As a panhandler, his technique needs a bit of work, I think.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
When the Mister and I were first married, we lived in a house that was the size of a shopping cart. (Seriously, it was about 900 square feet, and only had two closets in the whole house. It was a real education in creative storage, let me tell you.) The Mister wanted a Christmas tree very much, but I was against the idea; partly because we didn't have the room, partly because we weren't home hardly at all at Christmas, but mostly because I couldn't be botherered. I suggested that if he really wanted one we put it up on his side of the bed, because that was about the only place I could think of for it to go.
Since we've been in this house, though, we've had a Christmas tree, sometimes a real one, and sometimes a fake one. I'm all keen on the fake one, because no matter how well we water a real one, it seems to hemmorhage needles all over the place, and I'm terrified that the whole think will burst into flames spontaneously. Once I was sitting in the living room reading a book, and all I could hear was the gentle but relentless sound of needles plopping onto the presents below. By the time Christmas finally got here we had a naked, brown tree with jaunty, shiny decorations all over it. Very festive; it looked like some sort of macabre art installation.
Here is our tree this year, right after Thing 2 put the angel on the top
That angel is not moving, by the way. That's the way she sits. We did eventually put it to rights, but I rather enjoyed the whole "angel in a hurricane" effect.
We are lucky that Toby pays almost no attention to the Christmas tree whatsoever. Although he thinks that a tree in the house is an excellent idea (possibly the best idea we've ever had, in fact, other than tuna.) it has not occurred to him to climb it, gnaw on it or assault it in any way. Mostly, he just arranges himself in his meatloaf pose underneath it:
Trees in the house. What a concept.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We had our staff party last Saturday night, and we had a blast. We have a wonderful staff and they are all a ton of fun to hang out with, even if the Mister and I are old enough to be their parents.
Big Liver Girl and I went to see our high school young-'uns perform at their music night, and, believe me, any event is enhanced when one is sitting beside Big Liver Girl. We had a good laugh at her oldest daughter, who is a gem of a girl and I'm very fond of her, but cannot snap her fingers on the beat to save her life. (The kid is damn near perfect, so it's heartening to see one tiny flaw.)
The Mother Shark had our annual Christmas get-together, where we eat a lot and and have possibly the most cut-throat ornament exchange I've ever witnessed. It's one of those games/fight to the death where one person chooses a present out of a pile and then the next person gets to pick one off the pile or viciously snatch a present from a person in the group against whom they hold an enormous grudge, and then that person gets to perpetrate the crime amoung the other members of the group and so on. Apart from the tears and the bloodshed and the lifelong vendettas, it's a lot of fun.
There were a couple of other events this week that I didn't even get to go to.
Next week will be busy enough again, and then I think I will hang up my partying hat for another year....or until Big Liver Girl calls again.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I finished the sock I was making, and I am inordinately proud of it:
It's my first sock, and it really looks like a sock, doesn't it?! I managed to "turn the heel" and everything, without having a major aneurism or anything.
I can't lie, though, that thing is huge. I don't know how it happened, but I made a sock big enough to fit both my feet in at once, and maybe a couple of other people's, too. If I had a Yeti on my Christmas list, I'd be all set.
I'm making the other one as we speak, and I seem to have been able to make it a more reasonable size. (They are both for me, so I don't really care if they look ridiculous. Besides, the First Rule Of Knitting is: I made it, I'm wearing it.)
Eventually I hope to be able to make socks that actually match.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I had a few more epiphanies while shopping this time:
* The purpose of the self-serve check-out is somewhat diminished when it doesn't work without help. I usually love the self-serve check outs; not having to deal with a pimply teenager who is clearly unhappy with my spending money in their place of employment enhances my shopping experience tenfold. But yesterday, at Wal-Mart, the self-serve check-outs were inclined to be a bit tempermental, and it was clear the the breakdown of civilization was at hand. Luckily, we got out of there before that happened.
* Along with issuing Driver's Licences, there is a clear need for some sort of Parking Licence to go along with it. I realize that in this part of the world the lines on the ground are somewhat obscured by snow, but come on, did you really think that leaving your car on a 35° angle was exactly were it was supposed to be? And since one bad parking job gets magnified all along the row, it's probably a good idea to park in a reasonable spot if you're the first one there.
*Also, I've come to think that some sort of licencing system for operating a shopping cart is not out of line, either. The way some people drive those things is nothing short of criminally insane.
*At Michaels' Craft Store, not only were they NOT playing Christmas music which improved my mood no end, they were playing Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which you have to agree is a bold departure from the usual auditory onslaught this time of year. Made my day.
By the time the Mister and I found ourselves wandering around the mall going "I don't know, do you think she's like that?", we figured it was probably time to go home. And we did, with "Ziggy Stardust" floating around in our heads.
The other day she mentioned to her father that she would like to add something to the list: a mat for the bathtub so that she "wouldn't sand off her butt when [she] slides around".
He had to explain to her that, generally, people liked having some sort of traction in the tub precisely so that they did not slide around easily, and that since she was the only one who treated the bathtub like an amusement park, she may have to put up with a little butt-sanding.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I was happy enough that Nick and Starr won; they ran a great race and didn't particularly bug along the way. I would have been happy enough if Tina and Ken had won, too; they did a good job even if she did harp her way around the world. As Thing 1 said "I don't care who wins, I just care who doesn't win". Andrew and Dan were out of this thing in the first 10 minutes, and I'm delighted that they didn't do any better than dead last.
Dan's remark that this was "like the Superbowl, the Stanley Cup and the World Series all rolled into one" got a big snort at my house. Because, actually, it was none of those things, it was like a racearoundtheworld.
I got all teary when Ken pulled out those rings at the finish line. I know, I know, I'm a sucker. But I have to say, out of all the couples who have come on this race to "figure things out", (which is an idiotic form of relationship therapy) these two seem to have actually sorted through a few things here. (My marriage would not only be in tatters at the end of this race, one of us would likely be in jail as well.)
I liked that their prayer in the taxi wasn't about winning, but about accepting the outcome, no matter what. Because God does not care who wins this thing, and I'm glad someone finally noticed that.
Why, if you are scared of heights, would you choose a Detour named "High and Dry"? Because you would think you might be a bit sensitive to such nomenclature if you were.
Nick DID look just like Peter Pan! He was the only one to arrange his legs in that delicate little diamond shape with his ankles crossed just so! Had I been doing that task (which looked amazing!) I'd have been very thankful to avoid any "Dumbo" references.
Favorite Line of the Night: from Starr- "Thank God that guy likes donuts!"
That memory task looked brutal. Trying to calm yourself into thinking rationally when you're working on minimal sleep and you have adrenaline shooting out of your ears would be tough. Also, the running, the running! Thing 1 and I were all sweaty just watching them.
I noticed Toni and Dallas were not at the Finish Line in the "Gauntlet of the Philiminated". They were probably still trying to get out of Russia, and having to stay at the Bakery Ladies house for the duration. (Actually, I hear that they got new passports the next day, but that they were already out of the race by then.)
Until next season!!
Friday, December 5, 2008
I'm trying very hard to imagine any scenario in which "Fruit Flavored Beef Jerky" is going to be the answer.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The Mister and I began our shopping last Monday, because A) we both have the day off and B) if I have to suffer, then so does he. (I've never understood the whole "the woman does the shopping for the entire family" thing....just because I won the X Chromosome lottery does not mean I like slogging through the bargain DVD bin at Best Buy any more than he does.)
A few things that caught my attention this time around:
- There is a lot of shit for sale out there. Seriously, who really thinks to themselves "The only real impediment to my happiness is an interactive tyrannosaurus rex "? or "God, there's no point in living if I don't have a Richard the Lionheart toilet seat cover."
- The combination of big winter coats and overstuffed stores is a recipe for disaster. Claire's was so jammed with crap that when I turned around to see what was behind me, I took out an entire display of "Hello Kitty" backpacks. (Just to tell you, if you've never been in "Claire's", and believe me, you should thank your lucky stars if that's the case, it is a store for girls that looks as though each and every Disney princess threw up in it. It is stocked to the rafters with hairbands, earrings, key fobs, jewelry cases, necklaces, purses, makeup and diaries, all of them in pink and purple and covered in glitter. It's craptastic.)
- There should be a special place in hell for people who walk through the mall and just stop. Especially if they are talking on a cell phone while doing it. Seriously, if you can't carry on a converstion while remaining in motion then maybe you should walk over to the side, where there isn't anyone else trying to get by you while plotting your imminent and violent death.
- When there is a line behind you a mile long, it's probably not a good idea to pull out that expired coupon for 10% off and insist on it's redemption to the pimply, minimum wage earning clerk who has the IQ of a carrot. The people in that line are going to snap.
- Caffeine, and plenty of it, is the drug that makes Christmas shopping at all bearable. I asked the Mister to go into the drive-through at Tim Hortons on our way to the mall, and he, the non-coffee drinker that he is, asked if I really needed to. I replied that I was deadly serious, and did he honestly want to go shopping me me unmedicated? He silently and wisely pulled into the drive-through. Regular and copious administrations of carbohydrates help too.
- Gift certificates are the greatest invention of modern man. Forget computers and indoor plumbing and internal combustion engines, the fact that I can just go in, get one of those little plastic cards and be done with my shopping makes me want to weep with gratitude.
- Wal-Mart is hell. The narrow aisles, the surly help (when you can find it), the unending Christmas music and the ever-present screaming toddlers makes Wal-Mart my Number One Place To Avoid In December. This is followed closely by Costco, Zellers and (shudder) Toys R Us. Truly, if they played rap music, served blue cheese and required me to wear high heels, it would be a perfect hell.
The only thing worse than Christmas shopping, I think, is Boxing Day shopping, and luckily, I don't have to do that.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
It looks like I read a lot of non-fiction this year, which I don't think is accurate; it's just that it turns out I liked the non-fiction better than the fiction this year. Go figure.
(Books with the star are fiction.)
- McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy. I re-read this one right after Christmas, and loved it all over again. The author took a tour of Western Ireland with the one rule that "you should never pass a pub with your name on it". Sadly, McCarthy passed away a few years ago, and only has one or two other books out.
- *The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. Thing 2 and I read this for our "Mother/Daughter Book Club", and we both liked it very much. It's the story of a young girl in present day Afghanistan who can pass herself off as a boy in order to make a living for the family. A great reminder of what other people have to do to survive.
- The Worst Hard Time by Tim Egan. An account of the Dust Bowl of the Dirty Thirties, this book was really great. From telling you how it happened, to the way people coped to the aftermath and today, this book enthralled me.
- Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. How did a nice, educated, middle-class kid with every advantage end up dying alone in the Alaska wilderness? Even when you know how it ends, it was still compelling and interesting.
- *Nineteen Minutes by Jodie Picoult. I don't know that I would have picked this one up except that I had to read it for book club, mostly because I have a kid in high school and school shootings are something I shouldn't think about too much. But this was about much more than the actual event; what led up to it, what happened afterwards and there was a twist at the end that I really didn't see coming.
- *This Charming Man by Marian Keyes. My very favorite author. She makes me laugh out loud, and well up, all on the same page. I'd read her grocery list, if she'd let me.
- The Know It All, and The Year Of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. In the first book, the guy takes on the task of reading the entire Encycopedia Brittanca, and in the second, he decides to live for one year according to the rules in the Bible. Both were hilariously funny and thoroughly enjoyable.
- Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose. Lewis and Clarke undertook an amazing journey in 1814 to cross the continental US to the Pacific on the behest of Thomas Jefferson. A wonderful account of that trip and the men involved.
- *Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. One of the reasons I like being in a book club is that it makes me read things I don't think I would otherwise read. This was one of those books. The subject matter didn't really interest me, and I thought I'd be slogging through it, but once I gave it a shot, I couldn't put this one down. The story is set in a travelling circus in the 30's, and I was thinking about this one long after I had finished.
- *Twilight by Stephenie Meyers. Teenage vampires and forbidden love. The 14 year old girl in me was totally hooked, and the 46 year old in me was happy to let it happen.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Man, can you imagine if it had been Ken who lost that bag??? We'd still hear the shreiking.
It was once again the Curse of the Fourth Place....every team I've truly loved was eliminated in the fourth to last place: The Clowns, The Original Frat Boys and The Cha-Chas (twice!).
Thing 1 and I were wondering why Phil came up to Toni and Dallas on the street to tell them they'd were out, and from reading on the net, I gather that it was largely because begging in the streets is illegal in Russia, not to mention that foreigners wandering around without passports is strictly forbidden. (If you lose your passport you are supposed to head to your embassy right smart and stay there until you're sorted out. Apparently, you can take Communism out of Russia.....) On the upside, Moscovites are incredibly generous.
Dan is such a smarmy little weasel, I just want to smack him. His glee at Toni and Dallas's predicament pushed me over from not liking him to outright hating him. I don't feel at all guilty about laughing at that puddle splash at the beginning now. I'll bet that ASU is getting all sorts of people retracting their college applications in response to these two.
That Roadblock was hellish; there were so many elements to get just right. I'd have rocked that statue thing though, because my university degree specialized in Soviet history and politics, about the only thing I got out of it is the ability to identify Lenin and Stalin at 100 paces. And that Detour was detailed....the explanation went on longer than the actual task.
Best Shot of the Night: Ken and Tina bickering while Starr and Nick get into their cab in the backdground.
And I liked that "Cyrillic" is now "Acrylic".
Was I the only one who thought that the Park of Fallen Monuments was a kind of Russian Island of Misfit Toys?
That Pony Lady needs some Prozac, I think. I suppose she's a little bit bummed at having completed Basic Training in the Russian Army, and has been assigned pony-sitting duty.
I'd be happy if either Nick and Starr or Ken and Tina win, but my money's on Nick and Starr. Just as long as it's anyone but those two Fun-Suckers.
Until next week!