Two interesting things…

1. The Boy has been desperate for me to see “Interstellar” with him for several weeks. We squeezed it in yesterday, and there was a lot to like about the movie. But the best part is this (it’s not quite a spoiler, but here’s an alert just in case): The survival of the human race is largely dependent upon a little girl’s book shelf. How incredibly awesome is that!?!?!?!?!

2. I have polled various members of my family, and the consensus is that this ad from yesterday’s newspaper is offensive. I mean, I’m a big fan of sparkly jewelry. I would not complain if, in some alternate universe, we could afford for the husband to give me such a ring for Christmas. But the caption in this ad is truly appalling:

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Happy Saturday, all!

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And one more Christmas giggle…

I’m not a big fan of those inflatable decorations people put in their yards this time of year. For one thing, they seem to create an addiction in the owners. One inflatable is never enough. I see yard after yard where every single inch is covered with Santa on a motorcycle, Snoopy’s doghouse, the Grinch, skiing penguins, and whatever other gigantic nylon characters Costco had on offer in November. Seriously, have these people never heard the adage “Less is more?”

But the worst part is what these displays look like during the daylight hours. Apparently the air pumps for these monstrosities only work after dark, because this is what they al look like in the day time:

christmas carnage

Remember the movie “Babe?” Remember when the goose goes running all over the farmyard after he discovers his friend has been cooked for dinner, shouting, “Christmas means carnage! Christmas means carnage!”

That is what I think every time I pass one of these houses in the day time. I suppose I should thank these Christmas-inflatable addicts for a good giggle every day during the Christmas season.

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Happy Mama

We have a video from when our kids were very small, in which Middle Sister, at about age three, is singing tunelessly to herself, “Happy Kayla” – her version of the happy birthday song for her big sister. Insert “Mama” into that little ditty, and you have a perfect summation of my day yesterday.

Breakfast out with two of my babies. Lunch out with my dad. Tons of birthday messages on Facebook, which I love no matter how repetitive they are. Returned home to the BIG “SURPRISE:”

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I am in literary heaven.

A new bookshelf for the living room. It’s long overdue – the one shelf we’ve had for years was overflowing, with books stacked three-deep. Part of my gift was that The Boy built it when it was delivered yesterday, and that Middle Sister assisted in rearranging the books and displaying them attractively. I think I spent at least an hour in the living room last night and this morning, simply admiring our work.

The most exciting thing about this project for me (besides the fact that it was lovingly organized by my family) is that the books that mean so much to me that they’ve become a permanent part of who I am, are now lovingly sorted and displayed. It’s the focal point of the room, and it’s a true indication of what I value.

IMG_1166We wrapped up the evening with a family conference call while I opened my other gifts, and then the three of us currently at home enjoyed a heavenly birthday treat, individual dark chocolate/sea salt caramel cheesecakes, created by Middle Sister earlier in the day. Our younger daughter is an amazing cook, and these were unbelievably decadent and delicious.

Blissful birthday!

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Excellent birthday morning!

My birthday got an excellent start at midnight last night when I  heard two of my dear ones coming home at the same time. Middle Sister from her boyfriend’s apartment, and The Boy from his college town, for a month of winter break. I didn’t fully wake up, though – just lay in bed smiling peacefully as I listened to their chatter.

ihop breakfastFirst thing this morning, I had a brilliant idea – breakfast out! Middle Sister was immediately on board, though she knew it would be difficult to find anything she could eat on the IHOP menu. Getting The Boy up was pretty tricky – he’d stayed up into the wee hours. I went in to nudge him awake, and got a beautiful flashback to his toddler days. In his sleep, he grabbed my hand and held on tight, then pressed my hand to his cheek. That was one of his endearing habits when he was a tiny thing – what a special gift to start out my day!

A meal with our family requires a lot of mental acrobatics, as topics zoom through the air from one subject to another at lightning speed. Thankfully I had my own full pot of coffee on the table at our booth, which woke me up enough to keep me from missing the trapeze bar and dropping to the net below.

Oldest, of course, couldn’t be with us, but I looked at her Facebook birthday greeting as we ate. It made me laugh so suddenly I almost snorted my spinach and mushroom omelette through my nose: “There is something wrong with me, because I saw people wishing Amy a happy birthday and I thought, ‘Amy? Who is Amy?’ Happy birthday to my very favorite female parent!”

Soon afterward, The Husband called from the road with his birthday greetings. Tonight we’ll do a family conference call/Facetime chat as I open gifts. But the biggest, most anticipated birthday gift will arrive later in the week – I’ll save that for another post.

Happy birthday to me!

 

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Just hear those sleigh bells ringing…

I have a great love of the absurd. Always have, even as a child. In fact, one time my appreciation for absurd humor got me in pretty big trouble…

Back when I was in fifth grade (in a public school), the world was a whole lot looser. Sometimes that was a good thing, but not always. For example, on the last day of school before Christmas vacation, our teacher gathered the whole class into the reading corner for a Christmas carol sing, which heavily featured religious hymns. That would be a no-no nowadays, and bottom line, I think that’s a good thing.

imageWe all loved it though, and eagerly peered at the ditto-paper copies (remember that purple ink?) of Christmas song words as we sang our hearts out.

And that’s where the trouble came in. When we got to the chorus of “Sleigh Ride,” there was a typo, along with an odd spelling: Giddy-yap, instead of Giddy-up. Only here’s how it was typed:

Giddy-yap, giddy-yap, giddy-pay let’s go…

I found that to be the funniest thing I had ever seen. And I insisted on singing it, loudly, as it was typed. My obnoxious singing got me a glare from the teacher.

So I stopped. But then it occurred to me how funny it would be to get to one particular line, and just keep on singing it. With last-day-of-school abandon, I belted the song out with my new twist:

(Try singing it to yourself this way. It’s high comedy.)

Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy (pause) cozy are we,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy (pause) cozy are we,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we!

I was summarily dismissed to the hallway for the rest of the carol sing.

But it’s not a sad Christmas memory. I cracked myself up. And I still sing the song that way today – with my family backing me up in every absurd line.

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Full house.

Yesterday: Alone in the house, solitude, quiet music, and two hours of aerobic chores.

Today: Full house.

The Husband arrived home unexpectedly at midnight. Thankfully The Boy and his girlfriend were here for the night, and out and about at midnight, and therefore able to go pick up the father from the parking lot where he parked his truck.

Yesterday I had peace and a sense of accomplishment.

Today I have people all over the place to cook for, to do laundry for, to visit with.

It’s all good.

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A new phase of parenting

Raising kids is all about phases and milestones. Some are harder than others, but it seems that every phase sneaks up and catches me a little unprepared.

We’ve entered a new one: the addition of the significant others.

christmas-crafts-partyReally, we’ve been practicing this phase since Oldest was in high school. I won’t say much about that experience, except to say that I have rarely celebrated as joyously as I did the day she told me that particular relationship (which kept me awake at nights for three years) was ended. I mean, that one wasn’t abusive or dangerous – just as WRONG as it could possibly be. I cringed every time that guy entered our house.

I suppose there’s a positive aspect to the fact that that initial experience with the significant other phase was so crummy. It made me appreciate the next significant other that much more.

Summary of our current situation:

Oldest comes home a week from Monday. A few days after Christmas her boyfriend, who she met while an undergrad in Chicago, joins us for several days. That was my idea, because we don’t get to see him much, and he’s a great guy. Plus I knew it would mean a lot to Oldest to get to spend time with him over the holidays.

Tonight The Boy brings his new girlfriend home to spend the night – he’s making a flying trip from his college town to attend our high school’s Christmas concert. Again, the addition of new girlfriend on this trip was my idea. I’ve met her briefly, and want to get to know her better. The Boy was thrilled that I offered the invitation. As much as we liked the previous girlfriend, I have a feeling something’s a little more serious about this relationship.

Perhaps the most interesting development, though, is the relationship Middle Sister has been in for the last couple of months. A great kid she met at her university – because he lives in town we’re getting plenty of opportunities to get to know him. He’s her first real boyfriend, he’s perfect for her, and he fits right in with our weird family.

The thing is, at the ages our kids are at, any new relationship could possibly be “the one.” Not that I’m rooting for anyone to settle down and get married right away. Please, let’s graduate first and start a career. But I feel it’s important to go out of my way to create my own good relationship with the people they care about. And holy cow, am I ever thankful that in each case, at this point, we’re welcoming into our home and our life people I genuinely like.

It’s a new aspect of parenting, and I’m figuring it out just like so many other phases we’ve been through. By the seat of my pants.

 

 

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Another Christmas giggle.

Seen on my drive home from work:

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There are city works projects going in several areas near us – how disappointing to have your front yard turned into a disaster area during the Christmas season. This particular house is really getting the worst of it, and I applaud their sporting attitude. I rather imagine the construction workers are getting a kick out of it, too. In the meantime, Mr. Grinch (background) now has a place to relieve himself.

Ho ho ho!

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Christmas giggles

We decorated our tree on Thanksgiving day – first time ever, but that’s how the schedule worked out.

I don’t think we’ve ever thrown an ornament away. Even the old and busted ones have a home in our storage box – I just can’t bear to get rid of those memories.

Oldest dug this one out and took the photo.

mouse

Our recollection is that this guy was not originally a Gangnam Style dancer. Nor was he a crotch-grabbing pop star. We think he came with a rocking horse that fell off somewhere along the way.

He’s a lot more fun now, though.

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It’s got to go.

I hesitate to say this out loud, but…I’m getting rid of a book I’ve had on my shelf for four years. Ooh, that’s so painful.

Last year at this time I wrote about my favorite Christmas-themed books – ones I read every year as part of my holiday celebration. I’m in the midst of reading through them again, and loving every minute of it.

Ouch.

Ouch.

There’s one Christmas book, though, that did NOT make that list last year: “An Irish Country Christmas.” It’s one my mom gave me for Christmas four years ago. I should have loved it – the setting is a mid-2oth century small Irish village, so it’s right up my alley.

The first two years I had it, I read the whole thing through, enjoying the characters and the story lines. But with every line I cringed at the terribly poor writing. Actually, the problem was probably a serious lack of editing. Any editor worth his or her paycheck should have cut the darned thing by about 75 pages. The whole thing is full to the brim with author intrusion, lack of trust in the reader’s intelligence, and repetition. And then there’s the truly painful and awkward dialog, which only rings true about half the time. I’ve actually considered going through the book with a pen, marking up all the changes that should have been made before this book saw the light of day.

The really sad thing is that “An Irish Country Christmas” is part of a series. I must admit I checked out two others from our library, because I truly did like the characters and the setting. But both of those were just as over-written and poorly edited as the Christmas volume.

So it is with a bit of regret (and honestly, a great deal of relief) that this Christmas book is making its way into our Little Free Library this afternoon. The rest of the family is fed up with my groaning and complaining every time I try to read it. I suspect they’ll all be happy to find that this book is gone from my shelf.

It’s time to give up. Maybe someone else can overlook its issues and have a nice, cozy Christmas read.

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