Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where Oh Where . . .

Has my creativity gone? Maybe it is the cold weather, or the busy season, or the weird sickness I had before Christmas, but my blogging creativity has gone down the drain. I don't think I have an anti-muse like someone else does, but I'm not quite at my top blogging fitness level. Maybe that's what I should have put on my Christmas list instead of a new iPod Nano. Too late . . . and I really like my new iPod.

Anyway, here I am again stealing a blogging idea from another blogger. I figure it is OK since (1) she stole it too, (2) I think she's awesome and probably one of the best additions to the blogosphere this year, and (3) the ethics police don't seem to patrol the blogosphere in Peoria, at least judging from the viral outbreak of anonymous assholes commenting lately. So, I am safe.

I digress. Best get on with my unimaginative blogging, the last one of the year. 2008 is quickly coming to an end. So tell us exactly what happened in this unfor​gettable year.

How old did you turn? 37. Yikes. But, with that 37, I have to learn not to focus on the number but on how old I feel. I don't feel 37 and, if I do say so myself, I don't think I look 37. Well, maybe in the morning . . . but that doesn't count.

What school did you go to? None, thank god. I'm done with school. Never going to school again. I think the only school I was in this year was my kids' preschool.

Tell us about something good that happened: Oh, so many good things happened this year. My girl came back to live with me, I finally paid off all of my credit card debt left over from law school and before, I gained another nephew, I won a few cases, my grandfather turned 90, my parents celebrated their 40th Anniversary, and too much more to discuss here.

Did you change much? I'm sure I did. Anyone who doesn't experience even the tiniest changes everyday has stopped living a fulfilling life. I'd like to think I changed for the better, but who knows?

Are you happy with who you have become? Absolutely.

Tell us a song you were hooked on: Just in the last two weeks or so, I cannot stop listening to "All I Want Is You" which is the first song on the soundtrack from the movie Juno. It has a folksy sing-a-long quality that makes me smile. Plus, I can listen to it with kids in the car, which has an added benefit.

Did you go to the beach? Not technically, although I was on the beach of Puget Sound, but since it was October, it wasn't really beachy.

Did you get really dressed up for anything? For something special? Probably . . . I don't really remember. Nothing formal or anything.

Tell us a funny thing that happened? I think the highlights of my funny year were probably chronicled on this blog and include: my failures as a mommy, throwing my underwear around in public, being called a crook by my child, making up the song "Bubble Got Back", my son peeing on my head, learning that my nephew sleeps with a rice cooker, and various adventures in cooking, pet ownership, and motherhood.

Tell us the saddest thing that happened? I don't like to dwell on it, but the thing that happened in February, the thing that happened in March, and the thing that happened in October. Those are the three things that made me question my sanity and my happiness this year.

What are your plans for New Year? For the first time, I am having a party at my house. Actually, I should be preparing for it rather than writing this post.

What are you most looking forward to next year? The adventure is not knowing. Something in particular is going very well right now and I'm excited to see what happens next year with it.

Tell us something you plan on changing for next year? My kitchen. It has got to go. I didn't have the financial reserves to do it this year, but I am going to do it next year.

Think back to the beginning of the year and now think of now what’s different: I think the most significant difference between the beginning of the year and now is that I am no longer single. There are other differences, but that one is pretty big for me.

Are you happy with what happened this year? Overall, yes. I would love to be able to change some things, but they are things I can't change, so yes.

Was 2008 your best year? Probably not. It was a really stressful year. I'd like to hope my best year is always in the future. (Good lord . . . when did I become this non-cynical? I used to be such a pissy bitch. Must be the old age.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

And Now, a Report From Our Man Down Under

While reading my parents' local newspaper this morning, I saw the headline, "More Holiday Time Leads to More Sex." Intrigued, I read on. Apparently, in the modern age, people have more sex during Christmas and New Years. To assist in this important article, the author contacted a spokesperson from Trojan. His name is David Johnson.

In addition to Christmas and New Years, the spokesperson added:

"The long July Fourth, Memorial Day, and Labor Day weekends also produce spikes in condom sales, Trojan's Johnson said."

That's what he said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Christmas List

No - not that kind of list. A Christmas meme I made on my own (by stealing from several different ones I found on the internet - now that just screams Christmas spirit, doesn't it?) For some reason, my creative juices have needed a little sparking lately and I am bound and determined to post more individual posts than I did last year. After all, in 2007, I only blogged for 6 months and posted 117 times. This year, I have blogged all year and I am only just over 100. So, expect a lot more crappy half-assed posting from me in the next 15 days.

(1) Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. I despise gift bags. They create extra waste and show an extreme lack of individuality and creativity. Not that I EVER refuse a gift, but I might appreciate it more if it is gift wrapped.

(2) Real tree or artificial? I would love to have a real tree but I can’t seem to get over my extreme fear of fire and real trees. My parents have always had a real tree and I don’t get worried about it at their house. But, for some reason, I have this feeling I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night worrying about a real tree catching fire in my house. So, I have a fake tree.

(3) When do you put up the tree? Whenever I get the time. We just put it up last night and that’s about normal for my family - about 10 days before Christmas.

(4) When do you take the tree down? Again, whenever I get the time. Sometimes it comes down on Christmas Day because we don’t do much of anything else on Christmas Day. It is always down by New Year’s Day, though.

(5) Do you like egg nog? In small doses, yes.

(6) Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my 1970s split-level doll house. It is fabulous. I still have it, as a matter of fact. It even came with teeny-tiny little silverware and magazines. And all of the appliances were Harvest Gold.

(7) Hardest person to buy for? My sister-in-law. She and I have next to nothing in common and she hates normal every-girl type of gifts like lotion, candles, or accessories. Her hobbies are chess and mathematics. What the hell am I supposed to do with that? Plus, she objects to gift cards because "it is just like giving someone money." And tell me . . . what exactly is wrong with that?

(8) Easiest person to buy for? My kids. It’s not that hard to make kids under 5 happy.

(9) Do you have a nativity scene? Please. No. Everytime I'm even near a nativity scene, I have this strong urge to steal the Baby Jesus.

(10) Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. Emailed Christmas cards are tacky. Plus . . . how would I make fun of you if you don’t write me those dreadfully boring and unintentionally hilarious family update letters?

(11) Worst Christmas gift you ever received? My brother and sister-in-law gave me a hot pepper plant which was infested with aphids. Not only do I not like hot peppers, the plant gave aphids to the rest of my houseplants and they all died.

(12) Favorite Christmas movie? Scrooged. Or The Sound of Music, even though it isn’t really a Christmas movie, but they always show it at Christmas.

(13) When do you start shopping? Whenever. I refuse to shop the day after Thanksgiving, so I usually start around now.

(14) Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Well, I recycled that pepper plant right into the garbage . . . . Seriously, though. I have recycled many a Christmas present.

(15) Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies. I love Christmas cookies.

(16) Lights on the tree? My tree lights are white. My parents’ tree lights are multi-colored, however, and I would be really offended if they changed them to all white.

(17) Favorite Christmas song? Non-religious - Santa Baby, preferably by Eartha Kitt, and Happy Christmas (war is over) by John Lennon. Religious - The Little Drummer Boy, What Child is This, and Silent Night.

(18) Travel at Christmas or stay home? It just depends on the year. We mostly travel to my parents’ house.

(19) Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Not without cheating.

(20) Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. Our family trees have Santa Lucia on the top of them. The Lucy on top of my tree was made by my mother the first year my parents were married. When I bought my own house, my mother gave me that one and we made a new one together that currently sits on top of my parents’ tree. When my daughter has her first house, I hope to give her the old one so we can make a new one together. Every year, my dad has to make a comment about shoving the tree up Lucy’s ass. Every year. It never gets old.

(21) Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is for sitting around watching movies (marathons of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or James Bond), playing with your Christmas toys, and doing jigsaw puzzles.

(22) Most annoying thing about this time of year? Asshole shoppers. My one Christmas season working in retail, a woman threw a stack of books at me on Christmas Eve. Christmas spirit my ass.

(23) Favorite for Christmas dinner? We have a standing rib roast every year on Christmas Eve.

(24) Favorite ornament theme or color? All of my ornaments have a special story or meaning to them. I like to buy at least one new ornament every year and I particularly like Santa Claus ornaments.

(25) What do you want for Christmas this year? Well, that would make it too easy for you, wouldn’t it?

(26) Do you hang mistletoe? No. The way I figure it . . . if you want to kiss someone, just do it.

(27) Favorite holiday memory as a child? As a child, we always spent Christmas with my dad’s parents because he’s an only child. I can’t remember one memory in particular, but I remember loving the feeling of Christmas time - everyone sitting around the living room talking and having fun, singing songs, playing with their new toys. It is the most overwhelming feeling of warmth and happiness I remember as a child.

(28) When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Never. I always knew the truth about Santa since we didn’t believe he was real. Just like all other fictional stories, it was a nice story but we didn’t believe it was true.

(29) What’s the most important thing about the holidays? Giving gifts to people you love and spending time with family.

(30) Favorite Holiday tradition? I have so many, so it is hard to pick one. I love Advent calendars, I love all of the baking with my mother, I love wrapping presents, I love singing Christmas songs, I love celebrating Santa Lucia (and, yes, I do wear a crown of real candles on my head. Nothing says "Christmas" better than hot wax in your hair) . . . . Probably the best one we have as a family is that everyone has to open gifts one at a time and everyone else has to watch them. It was torture as a child, but I like the focus it puts on the giving part of Christmas, rather than on the receiving.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Too Smart for My Good

I'd like to go back to that time in parenting where you can get away with lying to your children. Specifically, I would like to go back to the time where I could eat something in front of my daughter and she didn't have to have a part of it or know exactly what I was eating, mostly because I'm eating something I would never let her eat. Usually, it is something with either a lot of caffeine, alcohol, or sugar, or on a good day . . . a lot of all three.

Last night, my daughter was in her first Christmas pagent at school. It was very cute and very chaotic as it was an all preschool production of semi-recognizable Christmas songs shouted at the top of their lungs. About 80% of the kids picked their noses on stage (including mine), several girls managed to show off their underwear by lifting their fancy Christmas dresses, one child had to be removed from the stage in tears, and only a few boys got in fist fights. Good times.

But, I'm going to have to rely on my excellent memory if I ever want to look at pictures of the evening again because Bad Mommy forgot her camera. I suck. Although I enjoyed the show, I sat there the entire time thinking about what kind of mother I am that forgets to bring a camera to my child's first Christmas pagent.

Anyway, I was feeling a little down when we got home and decided to fix that with some sugar and chocolate. I really had a craving for S'mores, and for the first time ever, I actually had all of the necessary ingredients in my house at the same time. And they weren't stale! (This is mostly because we still have Halloween candy sitting around.) Being the only one awake in the house, I poured myself a little drink, put on my pajamas, made S'mores, and watched a re-run of Grey's Anatomy.

(In case you are wondering how I made S'mores inside my house without a campfire, I will let you in on a little secret. If you have a gas stove, you have a perfect S'more making device. It is much easier than using a candle or the fireplace, but you have to be careful because the heat from a gas flame is much hotter than the heat from a candle or wood flame. Do not be surprised if your marshmallows burst into flames within the first 5 seconds. Given some time, you will discover the perfect technique.)

After a gripping episode of Celebrity Rehab (boy, that Shifty is really fucked up, huh?), I dragged myself to bed, completely forgetting the S'mores mess in the kitchen. In the morning, my daughter walks into the kitchen for breakfast and the following discussion occurs:

Girl: What happened?? (looking at the stove and counter area strewn with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate wrappers)

Me: Nothing.

Girl: Whatcha eat, Mama?

Me: Nothing. A snack.

Girl: Shellows?? You eat SHELLOWS? (shellows = marshmallows in our house)

Me: Yes. I did.

Girl: Teddy Grahams? YOU eat my TEDDY GRAHAMS? (we call all graham crackers Teddy Grahams . . . just so you think I wasn't making S'mores by pasting together 50 tiny Teddy Grahams to make one big graham cracker.)

Me: Yes.

Girl: When? When you eat . . . CANDY? (She has just seen the chocolate wrappers as I am trying to throw them away to hide the evidence.)

Me: Yes. Just a few pieces last night.

Girl: Why don't I get some? Can I have some now? Can I have some S'mores for bfast?

Me: No. You can have yogurt for breakfast with toast. Wait . . . how do you know what S'mores are? Where did you learn that?

Girl: School.

Me: Damn education.

Girl: You say that?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Late In the Evening

I stole this meme from Sarah and Katie. I see that Katie was motivated enough to actually link to the videos of the songs. I'm not that motivated. I thought about including the artist's name, but then I thought it would be more fun to make you guess.

So here are the rules:
1. Put your iTunes or MP3 player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!

1. IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY? Eight Days a Week (so, I guess it is really OK)

2.WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY? Chasing Cars (Kind of true, actually)



5.WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? Redemption Day


7.WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? A Love That Will Never Grow Old (also kind of true)

8.WHAT IS 2+2? Do You Love Me Now?


10.WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE? Bitch (this is probably true too, but I mean it in the nicest possible way.)

11.WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel (HA HA HA)

12.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? Something's Gotta Give




16.WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? Could Be Anything (no, that's the name of the song, really.)

17.WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? You Can Close Your Eyes (now that just sounds dirty, doesn't it?)



20.HOW WILL YOU DIE? Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby (Yikes)

21.WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET? Typical Situation (yeah . . . no kidding)




25.WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST? Honey Bee (actually, Tom Petty does scare me a little bit, but I love that song.)



28.WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? Late in the Evening

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Which My Child Fails to Understand the Point of Christmas

My daughter is three years old. I am really looking forward to this Christmas because it is the first time she will really get into the magic of the holiday. But, so far . . . she is missing the point of a kid's Christmas. The gifts.

That's right . . . we're a shallow bunch in the PH world. We don't think about Jesus on Christmas and we don't believe in Santa Claus. But, just because we don't believe in mythology doesn't mean that Christmas isn't magical for us. We have many family holiday traditions that are much more meaningful to us than Jesus and Santa Claus. Anyway, all of that is for another post.

I have been asking my daughter for the last few weeks what she wants for Christmas. I don't really feel like adding more toy flotsam and jetsam to my house. We already have tons of toys the kids ignore. I'm trying to make her Christmas gifts really special - things she really wants that I wouldn't buy her ordinarily.

What's her answer when I ask her what she wants for Christmas?

New pink shoes.

New pink shoes. Nevermind the fact that the child has seven pairs of shoes right now. Nevermind the fact that four of these pairs of shoes are either entirely pink or have some pink somewhere on them. New pink shoes.

Ugh. And when I try suggesting items she might like . . . new books, puzzles, clothes, babydolls, or craft items, she says, "No! I want new pink shoes." Then I try upping the anty. How about a kitchen? Or a dollhouse? Or a new trike? "No! I want new pink shoes."

I really don't know what I expected. After all, her favorite toys are a deck of playing cards, a tape measure, a pen and paper, and her babydoll. I should be happy I have a child who only wants new shoes for Christmas because I have a feeling that she's gonna figure out this Christmas thing before next year. And then I'll be sorry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jesus Loves You . . .

. . . everyone else thinks you're an asshole.

My cousin and I love this saying because this is the way we feel about our Aunt J. J is one of the primary reasons I dislike organized religion. She is one of the fakest, do-as-I-preach-not-as-I-do Lutheran hypocrite Christians out there. She is the type that makes a big deal of her Christianity only when it serves her purposes, such as putting other people down, making herself feel better for small acts of "goodness" like praying for people who don't want it, excuses for making or living with her mistakes, the reason for refusing to accept responsibility for her life and her decisions, and just about everything else.

Jesus is the reason for everything good in her life, other people are to blame for everything bad in her life. Personal responsibility plays absolutely no role at all.

As with all family issues, my issues with J go deep and broad. From day one, I knew she wasn't right. She was my Uncle T's second wife, a total rebound after his wonderful first wife left him because he was a fucking do-nothing asswipe. I remember the day J walked into our family - a family wedding and T brought this plastic white-trash piece of flim-flam as his date. I was seven years old I knew she didn't belong. Bleached blond hair, set like Dolly Parton circa 1978, make-up she chiseled off at night, hoochey polyester disco-esque pantsuit. She was nothing like the rest of us.

In the end, it would have been just fine if J simply didn't look like us. But her differences, and her extreme need to point out why her differences made her better than the rest of us, were much more destructive. In a proud immigrant family (my mother and all of her siblings, including T, were born in Sweden), J insisted on wearing shirts saying "100% American." She insisted on praying before meals even in my grandparents' house where praying before meals was not desired, appreciated, or tolerated. She refused to eat the food served at any of our houses and often brought McDonald's for herself and her kids to our nine course family dinners, which usually had been prepared over the course of several days.

She didn't drink and disapproved of anyone who did, including her husband, in a family where your first full size shot is ingested before the age of 14. She refused to be gainfully employed in a family where work was valued above everything else. She constantly harped about germs when her kids were always the sickest of them all. She refused to fly or travel by bus or train, stating she had a fear of the shape of the plane, train, or bus (umm . . . Freud anyone?) Since my family is spread all over the country, any family events had to be planned around her driving schedule, even if it took her days to get somewhere. My grandmother's funeral had to be delayed by five days because J wouldn't get on a fucking plane.

In short, I have issues with J and always have. But, the point of this post is that her misuse of religion has always been my biggest issue and the biggest divider in our family.

In October of 2006, my Uncle T was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was given two to five years to live. He went through all of the aggressive treatment options. Nothing has worked. It has been two years and he has gotten tired of treatment after treatment and is now refusing treatment. He wants to die. He is ready to die and we have accepted it. He is suffering and doesn't want to be poked and prodded and experimented on and feel sicker and sicker. He has lost his business, his ability to dress himself, to walk, to talk, to use the computer, to play the piano or violin. He can't drive a car, write with a pen, understand TV, read a book, or drink alcohol. He barely enjoys food, or jokes, or time with his kids. He is done.

And who could blame him? Most rational people would make the same decision he has made in the same situation. He wants to die. The only person who cannot accept it is J. She has made it her mission in life to "cure" him with every new and experimental treatment available. He has steadfastly refused treatment and is preparing to die. (Actually, he told everyone during Thanksgiving that he was going to die today, December 5th, but we all kind of doubt it works like that, even if you really want to die.)

I no longer have regular contact with either my aunt or uncle but my Aunt J writes a blog of sorts about her experiences with T and the tumor. I never read it. My dad reads it all of the time and then fumes about it for days because it is so . . . irritating. The last entry was at 11:45 pm on Thanksgiving. After talking about all of her blessings and gifts from Jesus, of course, she went on to talk about T:

"A friend brought over another new treatment option to be discussed with T's Neuro-Oncologist, so we talked about this and other options over dessert tonight. I am going to ask you to storm the heavens with T's name, and ask that God will guide and direct these conversations in such a way that T will listen and be receptive."

In other words, "God . . . please do my will and force my dying husband to seek treatment he does not want and live a hollow life that he does not want so my life can be better."

I may not be a devout believer in the Christian idea of God, but I'm pretty sure that God's purpose is not to do our will just because we believe we are right about a certain situation. Convenient belief = the worst type of Christianity. I understand that she loves him, I understand that she is scared shitless to lose her husband before the age of 60. I get that she feels incredible grief to be in this situation. I would not wish her situation on my worst enemy (which, honestly, is probably her . . . so I speak with authority that I did not wish this situation on her.) But using God as her weapon? That's what makes her an asshole.

Nothing is certain. T may die today like he wants. He may die tomorrow or next month. However, it is more likely he will die a long, slow, painful death because of J's selfish need to keep him alive. And that is much, much sadder than the death itself.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Matter of Fact

Last year, I posted a portion of my parents' Christmas letter. My parents take turns writing the letter each year. Last year it was my dad's turn and, as usual, his was very sentimental. This year, my mom wrote the letter and it was true to her style of things. It is short and to the point, on plain white paper using a plain font. No Christmas stickers or pictures or even a Christmas stamp. At the top in the center, it says "2008 Holiday Letter." The first line is "Dear People:"

That's my mom - no frills.

So, they got their letter out early this year to tell people of their change of address. She talks about the new house a little bit, a little bit about the moving experience, and that they are still working and have no plans to retire. Then comes the last line:

If I started talking about grandchildren and their parents, this letter would become either one of those disgustingly proud displays or a tell-all testament to the challenges of relationships, no matter how special and long term.

Gotta love my mother. I'd like to think my children and I fall into the "disgustingly proud displays" category rather than the "challenges of relationships" category. I think that one is reserved for my brother and his family.