Friday, December 31, 2010

Au revoir, 2010


2010 was a year of change for me.  I started a new job in January.  I'd been at my previous job for 13 1/2 years.  I didn't leave because I wanted to - I left because my division was sold to another company.  Fortunately, the new company offered me a position and I was technically only unemployed for a weekend (and believe me, the knowledge that 10% of the country is currently unemployed is never far from my thoughts).  I liked my old job for lots of reasons, including the fact that I had no commute (I could actually see the office building from my house and vice versa) and the fact that I was earning almost six weeks of vacation every year. So, at first I was more than a little reluctant to round that corner into something new.  I'm not the most adaptable cat out there.

However, in time I came to see that the new job, though very stressful initially, was probably just what I needed.  I lost my vacation time and some other benefits, but I was happy to be employed.  Whereas my division had been relegated to "red-headed stepchild" status at the old company, our web development team is a valid part of the new one. Honestly, the acquisition was probably for the best - I would have stayed at the old job forever otherwise. Stagnant.

Let's see, what else happened in 2010?  Our finances continued to suck. We're hoping things will get a bit better over the next year and a half, when both cars will be paid off. We're also hoping to avoid major household and automotive repairs for a while - this year we had to replace our hot water heater and some expensive part in P's car (after the car was, tragically, out of warranty by just a few miles).

I took up yoga in the fall.  I think I'm officially hooked.  I have no idea why I waited so long to go.  The instructors are so patient, too.  My brain may think it is telling my right foot to point straight ahead, but my right foot does not receive the memo.  Some kind-hearted instructor always comes around and gently corrects my rebellious appendage.

Other noteworthy events from 2010:
  • My baby started Kindergarten.  She is rapidly learning to read, and we can no longer spell stuff in front of her (I miss that already). 
  • We continued to foster for Boxer Rescue. One of the best moments of my entire year was when my senior foster pooch, Fritz, was adopted back in January.  The lady who adopted him has become a friend and I know I'm a better person for having met her. 
  • I turned 40.  I'll just leave it at that.
  • A and I went to DC in April to visit family.  I got mad at the TSA.
  • In August, we took a very relaxing family vacation. The kid noted that she interprets "relaxing" as "boring," however.  
  • In November, the kid and I drove to Oklahoma.  The drive was mind-numbing and I'm still working on blocking most of it out.
Another bit of excitement for me this year: a lot of really good music was released.  Now, I know ya'll hate it when I talk about music.  When I write a blog entry about music, my blog gets negative hits. Literally. But, I shall close by listing some of my favorite songs from this year. I cannot be stopped.
  • Carolina Chocolate Drops: Cornbread and Butterbeans - I love cornbread and butterbeans, and I love this song.  
  • Kanye West: Monster - I only have a few tracks from Kanye's newest album, but I can see why the critics have offered effusive praise for it.  Kanye is a douche, but he knows he's a douche. It's hard to deny that he's got talent.  I think Nicki Minaj really makes the song, though.
  • The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang - I love just about everything this band does. I think I listened to this song at least once a day for a while there. 
  • Arcade Fire: Month of May - I thought this was one of the better tracks on The Suburbs.
  • Vampire Weekend: Giving up the Gun - This came out early in the year, so I've listened to it to death. Still good stuff, though. 
  • The New Pornographers: You Hands (Together) - This was probably one of my favorite albums of the year. 
  • Janelle Monae: Tightrope - I really think she is the next big thing. 
  • Mumford & Sons: The Cave - I lost a little love for them once they got so popular, but I still dig them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Great, now I'm one of "those"

A less fat version of me (pictured here with my adorable niece)
I've never been one to make a new year's resolution. To me it has always seemed like a sure path to failure, so I never make them. However, I am truly in need of a change. I'm not making a resolution, per se, but rather, getting my act together.  The timing just happens to coincide with the new year. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Weight Watchers has a new program and I need to get on it. I have not attended a meeting since November 6th, but I will be at the next meeting with bells on so that I can get the scoop on the new program and get started. I have set a personal goal and a date by which to achieve it - June 1st. I have a particular reward in mind and am feeling pretty darned motivated.  For the past few months, I've struggled mightily with motivation (or lack thereof).  I lost a lot of weight in 2005/2006.  I then gained some of it back and lost it again in 2008. I did well for about a year and then set off on a self-destructive course in September of 2009. While I have not gained back all of the weight I lost, I've gained back more than half.

Frankly, I wasn't sure I really wanted to climb that mountain again. I mean, it's not like I'm morbidly obese and that there is some danger of the fire department having to knock out a wall in my house and hoist me out on a forklift. I feel fine.  I go to yoga, I go to step aerobics, and I hit the treadmill.  I don't work out daily, but I'm not sedentary either. The problem, obviously, is that I overeat.  I'm a vegetarian, so I do eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  However, I also have a vicious sweet tooth and it has great power. Also, I swear to you that I can literally hear my metabolism screeching to a halt (that's what turning 40 does for you, my friends). 

My main motivation/frustration, quite honestly, is that my clothes do not fit.  I look like shit these days. I refuse to replace my wardrobe yet again, so . . . . climb the mountain, I must. I'll keep the reward part to myself until the time comes. I'd be embarrassed to make a big production out of it and then not reach my goal.

At the beginning of each yoga session, we are invited to (silently) set an intention for the practice.  I usually try to hold the word "peace" in my mind during the class, as it is my intention to make some sort of mind-body connection and find peace within myself.  However, at last night's class I set the intention of "renewal"   (geez, I hope this isn't like a birthday wish where it doesn't come true if you tell someone what your wish was).  Of course, a few different words came to mind after I fell out of the Warrior III pose for the third time.  Damned gravity.

Anyway, I shall swallow my pride and join all of the resolution people who will be at the first Weight Watchers meeting after the 1st.  Time for renewal, indeed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fahoo Forays, Dahoo Dorays

Christmas Eve had an inauspicious start, when I realized that my debit card had been compromised.  Chase blocked the attempts to use my card, so I was glad for that. What surprised me was that the blocked transactions were for small amounts, all for "internet services."  Honestly, thieves . . . go big or go home.  Anyway, the only option was to shut down my debit card and send me a new one.  So, that was the first snag of the holiday.

I worked until noon on Christmas Eve.  Kindercare was closed, so P took the day off to stay home with the kid. I ran a few errands after work and then headed home.  We didn't have a lot of plans for Christmas Eve, other than attending church at 7 p.m. and then driving around to look at festive holiday lights (one house, in particular, goes all out). After dinner, the kid insisted on helping me with the dishes (for the first time in her life).  I mean, she was not taking "no" for an answer.  This sudden burst of extreme helpfulness may have been related to me telling her that Santa does not load up his sleigh until he is just about to leave the North Pole.  For borderline children, things really could go either way. Right up until the last second.

The Christmas Eve service at church was very nice.  We sang a few songs and then passed a microphone around to share stories and memories of Christmas.  The kid poked me in the shoulder and said she needed the mike ASAP. So, curious to hear what she'd say (and a little bit frightened, too), I raised my hand on her behalf.  The microphone was handed to me and I turned it over to my daughter. What, oh what, would she say? Perhaps she'd share some shining example of what the spirit of giving means to her. She gripped the mike in her hand and tilted her head downward before she spoke.  "My next door neighbor . . . " she began, "Dressed her dog up like an elf."  Alrighty then.

When we got home, I read to her for a while and then encouraged her to go to sleep (after declining her request to sleep on the couch).  P and I watched bits of "Miracle on 34th Street" (yes, the original - the only one really worth watching) and waited for Santa. We had guests coming over the next morning for brunch, so I started getting my act together for that.

The dogs woke me up bright and early Christmas morning.  I sure wish they understood concepts like "weekends" and "holidays." My daughter, on the other hand, slumbered on.  And on.  When I was a kid, I was up like a shot on Christmas morning. Finally, she rolled out of bed at around 8:45.  She tore into the gifts and P dutifully picked up the wrapping paper along the way.  We actually had to keep her on a pretty tight schedule because of the impending arrival of family members.

As for me, my mom hooked me up quite nicely. She always gets me all sorts of fun things (like eye shadows, bath stuff, manicure sets, etc) as well as stuff I really need (like new sheets for the bed, towels, and so forth). P and I don't exchange a lot of gifts at Christmas.  We do stocking stuffers.  However, we do try to buy decent stocking stuffers - we don't just toss each other a candy cane and call it a day.  This year, I only asked for two items: the "Despicable Me" DVD and this ornament from Hallmark:


The ornament I actually received:

Do you see a resemblance between the two?  Yeah, me neither.  This is what happens to husbands who wait until December 23rd to shop, when the gifts their wives actually wanted are sold out. Now, I know what you're thinking.  "It's the thought that counts blah blah blah."  Well, there was no thought, you see.  If I'd known it would be that challenging, I would've just bought it for myself.  In the mean time, I went out and bought him exactly what he wanted, which was Grand Turismo 5 for the PS3, an electric shaver, some candy, and some cologne.  Also, I took the kid out and she got him a sweater, some lotion, and an iTunes gift card.  But no, I'm not bitter.  Not bitter at all.  He's just got some lonely nights ahead of him, is all.

You're probably wondering if I've had the opportunity to enjoy some baked goods fresh off the light bulb.  Indeed I have.  Cripes, though - between warming up the oven, the actual baking, and the cool down period, it takes the better part of an hour to bake a cake the size of my palm.  The things we do, I swear.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

She's Closin' in

Yesterday I took the afternoon off from work.  I met a friend for lunch at Noodles (Penne Rosa with tofu, oh how I love thee) and then headed home to wrap gifts.  You see, Santa finds it challenging to wrap gifts for a certain recipient, when said recipient is a) home all the time and b) stays up later than Santa does. Hence, the need for an afternoon off while Short Stuff is in school. It's pretty rare that I've got a weekday off, so part of my plan also included the viewing of trashy talk shows, court shows, and the like.

I gathered all of my wrapping supplies in the living room.  Then I noticed that the couch was looking a little . . . crumb-y.  I dug out the vacuum, dismantled the couch by pulling off all of the cushions, and then vacuumed out its contents.  I sucked up enough crumbs to feed a small unincorporated town, which is strange to me because I don't actually allow eating on the couch. Hmmm. 

Then I got back to business.  I settled on the floor, tape and scissors in hand, and then turned on the TV.  What's this?  President Obama delivering a special news conference?  On every bleeping channel?  Son of a !!!  President Obama, I voted for you and this is how you repay me?  I didn't just vote for you - I've maintained steadfast loyalty since the election.  I can't believe you could be so thoughtless as to deprive me of the opportunity to watch roommates battling it out over a cell phone bill on The People's Court.

Plan B: I had a couple of Netflix movies to watch.  I recently re-ordered our Netflix list and bumped my stuff to the top, much to my other half's chagrin. The Netflix account was my idea to begin with, but he quickly took it over and nothing but crap has shown up at our house since that day ("Blood Creek," anyone?).  But this tyranny had to end sometime.  Anyway, I had "The Lottery" so I watched that.  It was a very interesting documentary - really made me think about education and how few opportunities are available to children in some areas of the country.

I started wrapping gifts and quickly discovered that:

WRAPPING PAPER + PUPPY = IRRITABLE SANTA

I put up a baby gate (with pup on the other side) and completed the project. Now we're all set for the big event.  Hiding stuff has gotten more challenging over the years, though.  It was a lot easier when the kid didn't know how to work a doorknob.  Also, she never bothered to figure out those doorknob covers where you have to pinch the sides together to get enough traction to turn the knob.  Those only came off within the last year or so.  The least-used room in our home is a dank little room in the basement.  It contains an old futon, a filing cabinet, some random boxes, and oh yeah, my father-in-law's ashes.  Nobody goes in there unless they have to. Hence, the perfect spot for hidden gifts.

I'll leave you with a photo of my favorite Christmas decoration.  My mom got it for me years ago.  It's an image of Santa that just really works for me . . . an image of kindness and giving that is extended to all (even adorable woodland creatures).  Rock on, Father Christmas, rock on.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Target, Oh My Target


I ended up at Target twice this weekend.  Yes, a week before Christmas.  Now, if that's not enough proof of mental illness, get this: I also went to Best Buy. I'm done with most of my holiday-related tasks.  I just have a few odds and ends left over, each of which requires me to hit a different store in a different part of town.  I suppose I shouldn't say I'm "done" with everything.  There were some tasks that I simply didn't do this year.  I always send holiday greeting cards and this year I did not.  I dug up a box of cards from the bowels of my desk and sent a few to immediate family members, but that's about it (and I really only did that so that I had some way to get A's Santa photos to them).  I felt really guilty about not getting it done (and there are lots of reasons for my failure to send cards to the masses) but then it occurred to me . . . five years from now, is anyone really gonna say, "Hey, remember that year Claudia totally dissed us and did not subject us to a photo card depicting her daughter in holiday finery?"

The kid had two birthday parties to attend this weekend, so that was the reason for the first trip to Target.  I picked up gifts for both kids Friday night.  On Saturday, I hit the gym and P dropped off A at the first party.  The honoree is a boy in A's class.  She says this classmate is "kinda weird" but I suggested she not say that in front of him. While the party was in full swing, I made lunch for the two of us. We sat down and ate a peaceful meal at our dining room table, and hardly knew what to do with ourselves.  "Is this how it used to be?" he asked me.  Family mealtimes with the three of us are fine, but there's a lot of poking at vegetables and "I can't eat this" going on. Many such meals end with the shortest member of our family in time-out and a heap of uneaten vegetables in a dog bowl.

I picked the kid up from the party at the appointed time and it was immediately clear to me that she was completely jacked up on sugar.  Big time. Fearing the worst, I took her to Target to let her pick out a Christmas gift for her dad.  She chose the store, mostly because she wanted to get an ICEE after we were done shopping.  She's a giver, that kid.  The shopping trip was not a fun one.  I found myself gritting my teeth and saying things like "Get out of the Barbie aisle - it should be pretty clear that your dad does not need a copy of 'Barbie in a Mermaid Tale.'"  Also, I should add that every resident of our city was at Target at that precise moment, mostly concentrated in the toys and electronics aisles. The whole scene was making my eye twitch. Finally, A settled on a couple of gifts and I took her home. But not before there was a sizable tantrum over the ICEE.

By the time we got back to our humble abode, I was feeling pretty irritable.  I should have gone back out and finished my errands without Miss Generosity, but I had no gumption at that point.  Instead, I did something fairly uncharacteristic.  You see, I have to be doing something at all times. Although my husband can sit on the couch and play video games until he's got bedsores, I always have this compulsion to do something productive.  Even when I was a small child, I refused to nap.  Anyway, I grabbed my foster pup and shut myself in my bedroom.  I then proceeded to watch a marathon of "Pit Bulls and Parolees."  I watched for several hours.  I'd have kept going except that eventually an episode came on that I'd already seen. When A would come in and ask me for something, I'd pull out the old "Go ask your father" and send her on her way.

This morning, the kid was in a holiday play at church.  She had a very pivotal role as a member of the chorus.  The play was about Good King Wenceslas, and she was instructed to stand up and yell, "Huzzah! Huzzah! God save the king!" periodically. It was a stellar piece of acting, let me tell you. Later in the afternoon, I took her to her second birthday party of the weekend.  More sugar was ingested, but a good time was had by all.

Now, as I type this, she is in the living room, losing her mind.  Last time I checked on her, she had tucked a sword into one side of her skirt and a Hannah Montana microphone into the other. She was wearing plastic princess shoes and balancing herself on a wooden train track while playing a pink princess guitar and watching Spongebob Squarepants. If I wanted this kind of craziness, I'd hang out at Target.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Concert

My kid is in the front row, sixth one from the left
Yesterday I attended the “winter concert” at my daughter’s school.  I wasn't sure why they didn't just call it a holiday concert, since there was a lot of Christmas-ing going on.  There wasn't even a token Hanukkah or Kwanzaa song this year.  This is only my second year having a child in school, but I learned last year that the seating at these concerts can be pretty cut-throat.  You've got grandmas saving three rows of chairs for people who may or may not show up. You've got dads knocking you over to get a photo of their kid. Anyway, I've learned to get their early.  There were two performances: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I made plans to attend the a.m. show, with P attending the p.m. show (and taking the kid home from there).  I got there 1/2-hour early and still had to sit halfway back in the gymnasium. However, my kid is short and I knew she'd be in the front row (making it easier for me to spot her and vice versa).

The 4K kids went first.  Adorable, as expected.  Then it was time for the Kindergarten classes (two classes combined).  As predicted, my petite lass was in the front row.  I pulled out my camera and did some sort of awkward stand-crouch thing and snapped a photo. The kids sang a song about gingerbread men and another one called "Christmas Makes Me Sing."  For the record, she did not find it all amusing when her dad and I filled in alternate lyrics while she was practicing the song at home.  "Christmas makes me poop my pants" was particularly unappreciated.

After the songs were over, the Kindergarteners were unloaded from the risers and instructed to sit on the floor in front of the stage.  Then all of the subsequent classes performed.  A few parents left after their kid's class performed, but I felt like it was only fair to sit through the whole thing.  After all of the classes had finished, the entire student body embarked on a grand finale - a song about peace that I didn't recognize.  They couldn't fit all of the kids on stage, so some of the classes were led down the aisles.  This is how my little buttercup came to be situated right next to me. 

Now, when she was up on the stage, she looked perfect.  It was dress-up day in honor of the winter concert. She was wearing a black taffeta skirt (perfect for twirling), a red glittery sweater, and a shirt under that.  A velvet headband and black shoes (faux patent leather) rounded out the ensemble.  However, when she appeared by my side for the finale, she had morphed into a homeless street urchin. Sweater? Unbuttoned.  Shirt? Untucked. Skirt? Twisted at some odd angle and pushed down onto her hips.  The piece de resistance was her hair.  Apparently she had taken off the headband and attempted to put it back on, thereby creating some weird sort of hair tumor that now bulged off the side of her head.  Since she was so close to me, I quickly tried to re-assemble her.

Her teacher came over at about that time and informed me that A keeps bringing chapstick to school and attempting to share it with the other kids.  Mrs. L had to throw them away, which I understand completely. I guess it never occurred to me to tell my daughter: "If it goes in or on your mouth, don't share it."  I mean, there are so many things in life that you just know, that it's easy to forget that common sense does need a bit of time to develop.

Anyway, the concert was a hoot and I can hardly wait for the spring version. Onward and upward.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Much Family Togetherness


Lately I've been feeling like Christmas is hurtling towards me like one of those high-speed trains they've got in Japan.  Well, if that train were a demanding one with a lot of expectations and shipping requirements, then I guess the analogy would work.  I honestly do try not to let the holidays drive me insane.  I enjoy the decorations in our home, I love watching "Muppets Christmas Carol," and I do love a nice cup of mulled Christmas wine. I get a kick out of my daughter's holiday-induced giddiness.  As I type this, there are two post-it notes stuck to my monitor.  One says "Nic list" (nice list) and below that is a drawing of the illustrious classmate Tyler and some random dog (not one of ours apparently). The other note says, "Santa Clos. I love you Santa." She has been laying it on pretty thick with the man in red lately. She colored him a picture yesterday and instructed me to send it to the North Pole.

Lest you think I am one of those who ignores "the reason for the season," fear not. Although we are Unitarian Universalists* and may celebrate Christmas a little bit differently, we talk a lot about the birth of Jesus and how Jesus was a great teacher who taught us about love and kindness. Just to confuse matters, we also talk about the solstice. I think it will all click in her mind a bit better as she gets older. I hope.

Because I have to ship so many of my gifts out of state, I do have to get my act together ahead of time, and it does get a bit hectic.I started this weekend with a tight jaw and a stress headache after ending the work day on Friday with a phone call from an irate client who had an email issue.  An email issue that apparently was my fault, personally. Because, you know, I randomly delete people's email accounts just for sport. On Saturday, I had a pretty long "to do" list but then a funny thing happened on the way to overachieverville . . . a winter storm rolled in.

The snow was supposed to start in earnest by early afternoon, so I did get a few things done prior to that.  However, the skies were still empty after lunchtime, so I took the kid downtown to a museum.  At Christmastime, the museum always features department store window displays from the 60s.  The animatronic dolls and whatnot have been restored and the nostalgic displays are fun to see.  A gleefully chatted with a talking Christmas tree (she told him she wants an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas - woot!) The museum also offered a "children's holiday shop."  Kids were invited to step inside a little house and shop sans parents.  I handed the kid $12 and sent her in (she was allowed to buy up to four gifts, priced at $2-$3 each).  "Get Mama an iPhone!" I called out as she walked through the wee door.

When we got home, we decided to make Christmas cookies.  Although she was a bit more judicious with her sprinkles this year, the cookies still got a heavy dose.  It took me the better part of two hours to clean the kitchen after the baking project was done.  Later, I took a hot bath while the kid watched the Muppet movie and her dad played something-or-other on the PS3.  As I was enjoying my bath, a note flew under the door and skidded across the tile. "I love my mom."

By Sunday, the storm had done its damage.  The drifting was unreal.  Church was canceled.  My other half set about the job of snow blowing the driveway.  We have a snow blower given to us by A's Godfather.  This particular snow blower is roughly the size of a Smart Car and was made somewhere between the end of Vietnam and the start of the Iran Hostage Crisis (I am not exaggerating). P had no idea how to use it.  We studied some videos on YouTube (do not ask me why men film themselves blowing snow and fondling their snow blowers, but there are literally hundreds of such videos out there) and he was able to figure it out. The authorities all but banned travel today, but we'll have to leave eventually.

Anyway, we spent lots of time indoors this weekend.  We played games, we watched movies, and we wrapped gifts. The good news is . . . we are still speaking. Mulled wine does wonders.

*P is Christian, but as far as I can tell, the denomination is "The Church of the NFL" and is conveniently held right in our living room on Sundays.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Aaaaaand bake by the light of the bulb

Just as young girls have done for the past several decades, my daughter has asked for an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. P and I talked it over. We decided that if I could get one on sale on Black Friday, we'd go for it. I mean, Santa would go for it. I never owned an Easy Bake Oven as far as I can recall and so, before purchasing the oven, I posted the following on Facebook:

Two-pronged question for my friends who are parents. My daughter (5 1/2) wants an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. 1. Is she too young? 2. Will I be able to stand eating that shit?

Well, let me tell you - people have some very strong feelings about the Easy Bake Oven. I got a ton of responses. Most said that the kid is definitely not too young. So, that question was answered easily. However, I received lots of editorial comments about the oven and the “baked” goods that come out of it. A random sampling:

  • Who doesn’t like cake?
  • I think you’ll live
  • Oh, yeah!!! Cooking over a light bulb....pretty gourmet if you ask me!!
  • 5 is a good age. My daughters were 3 and 5 when they got theirs. After showing her how to put the pan in and take it out, she was able to do it just fine on her own. The EBO packets are gross and ridiculously expensive. We buy the Jiffy cake mixes and just dump out the extra batter. They are about $.50 compared to the EBO mixes at $3-$4. You can also find directions online to make your own mixes, but I just go with the Jiffy.
From my reptile rescue friend: Claudia, I don't have kids, but seriously could an easy bake oven be any more dangerous than your daughter running around with one of my snakes? ;)

My personal favorite came from a church friend of mine: As for eating that shit, don't worry about it because you won't live long enough for the little light bulb inside that thing to actually bake a cake to completion! But seriously, the little cakes weren't bad. Becky said she loves 'em.

Also, one of my cousins in Texas read my post and then called to tell me how her kid had nearly burned down the house with her Easy Bake Oven.

I looked up the toy on amazon.com. Well, the reviews were pretty much abysmal. No love for the oven, ya'll. The thing that seemed to piss parents off the most is that the bulb does not come with the oven. And yes, the mixes are ridiculously expensive. Most seem to clock in at around $6-$7 each. My initial game plan is to con some of A's aunts into buying her some mixes for Christmas. After that, I think I will experiment with the Jiffy mixes as one of my friends suggested.  I mean, seriously, I could buy half a dozen gourmet brownies at a local bakery for the same price as one Easy Bake Oven mix.

As luck would have it, Target did have the Easy Bake Oven featured as a “door buster” on Black Friday. I got it for $16.99. Even better, when Santa asked the kid what she wanted the other day, she said, “An Easy Bake Oven.” (and didn't mention anything else) Now, her Christmas list was pretty extensive and we mostly ignored it because it was impossible to focus on specific items when there were so bloody many. She asked for everything for which a commercial has ever been made, and everything that was listed in the toy guides from Target and Toys R Us (including baby toys as well as items marketed solely and specifically to boys). Seeing as how she asked Santa for it, however, we’re hoping she’ll be thrilled to receive it. She'd better.  I had to smuggle that bugger all the way back from Oklahoma and pray she wouldn't realize it was stowed directly under her feet in the van.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. On Christmas Day, I expect to be gnawing on a room-temperature cake with gluey icing by noon at the very latest.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Santa: not as effective as he used to be


I've been making liberal use of the "Santa card" almost since my daughter was born.  In general, it's been relatively effective. "Oooooh, you know how Santa feels about dirty teeth/kids who don't eat their dinner/liars/children who throw clothes on the floor," I say with a sad shake of my head. I mean, really, you know how he gets about these things. A frowns in return, momentarily persuaded that Santa is indeed furious about her failure to throw her dirty tights down the laundry chute (which, incidentally, is located six inches from her bedroom door).

Lately, we are battling some behavioral issues that are challenging our parenting abilities and patience. The lying drives me batty.  We've tried punishing for bad behavior, rewarding for good behavior, and everything in between. I think on some level she realizes that no matter what she does, it's not like anything THAT bad is going to happen.  It's not as though we're going to cut off one of her limbs or sell her to a cult or anything (but don't think we haven't thought about it, mister!)

Anyway, we visited the man in red tonight and I have to admit it wasn't as effective as I'd hoped.  As soon as we walked in through the mall entrance, the kid spotted him and he in turn shook the sleigh bells and gave her a hearty ho-ho-ho.  She giggled and jumped around, her dress shoes clacking against the tile floor. We helped her get her coat off and then she was in his lap in a flash (there was no line, fortunately). I waited until the photo had been taken and then approached Santa.  He and my daughter were speaking in conspiratorial tones.  "Hi Santa," I said. "Listen, we're having some issues at home with someone fibbing and not listening and -"  Suddenly, the kid jumped off his lap and began to run away. I grabbed her arm and she continued to pull in the opposite direction.  She was half-laughing, half-frightened about Mr. Claus being made aware of her crimes.  Not wanting to ruin her visit with the big guy, I gave up and encouraged her to go back and tell Santa what she wants for Christmas.

I have to give props to Santa, though, because I did hear him tell her, "Listen to your parents. Be nice to your parents."  Of course, I'm aware that his primary objective is to get me to fork over a sum of money roughly equivalent to a mortgage payment. In exchange, I received one 5X7 and four wallets. Oh, and a candy cane.  We wouldn't want to forget that.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Week That Was

It's so tragic that it takes me a week to catch up from a week's vacation. But so true. I will try to come up with a more meaningful post soon.

Highlights of the week:
  • My daughter brought home her first trimester report card on Thursday.  At her grade level (Kindergarten) the school grades on a numbering system: 1 through 4.  She received mostly 3s and 4s, along with some nice comments from her teacher. P and I read the report card together and started laughing simultaneously when we got to the two 2s we spotted: "Listens when others are talking" and "uses time productively."  Mrs. L has her number, alright.
  • On Tuesday, I went to my third yoga class.  This session seemed more challenging than the last two, or it could just be that I am falling apart.  My hips quickly put the kibosh on a couple of moves I was asked to do. Mostly I just muddle through until we get to Shivasna, which is where you make like a corpse, flat on your back, and think about nothing. Me like.
  • On Thursday, I had my foster pup neutered.  Because, you know, I like to ruin a young man's week for no reason.  Honestly, though, he never even seemed to notice that his wee little nuggets were gone.
  • On Friday, Gretchen and I attended our final Rally class of the year.  We had two run-throughs.  The first one was atrocious.  She acted like I'd just met her THAT DAY. The second one was much better, but still left me thinking that we should probably just hang up her training leash. Maybe I'll have better luck finding a dog who gives a rip next time around. I should probably look for another breed, though.
  • On Saturday, we cut down a lovely pine tree (at a tree farm, totally authorized), installed it in the living room, and decorated the bejeebers out of it.  You should have seen the puppy's face . . . "Whaaaa?"  He seemed incredulous that we brought an outside thing inside, when we are always telling him that just about everything that comes out of him belongs outside.  
  • On Sunday, I took the kid to see "Tangled," which was very good. These 3D movies are killin' me, though.  Two tickets plus popcorn and two drinks = $34.50.  What on earth do big families do?  Suck it up or just not go?  
Here are a few photos from our trip to Oklahoma (and believe me when I say that even though we've been back for a week, I can still scarcely stand to look at my car).

My nephew, having a tantrum. Adorable, no?

Me and my wee baby sister.

A and her Meemaw playing "Pretty Pretty Princess"
My other nephew, who actually is a Pretty Pretty Princess

My kid, squeezing the soul out of a barn kitty