Monday, December 31, 2007

First Night

Now that I am back on the computer (slowly trying to get back in the swing of things) My work was good to me this year. I was afraid of getting the same "bonus" as last year. I told a co-worker that last years bonus was enough to fill my gas tank and get a sandwich. My boss explained that my bonus was prorated since I didn't start until August and year end was September. This year was MUCH better! With my bonus I can buy a brand new washer & dryer and many, many sandwiches. Plus a nice big raise AND a Promotion!!!

My raise takes effect in January and I will receive my bonus check sometime in January as well. I am not in a super hurry for the bonus check just yet. I can wait until the end of January if need be. Why? Well, I need some time to reorganize my laundry/storage room before they actually deliver my new washer and dryer.

Today I have been on a mission - Find Coal. It is New Years Eve and I still haven't found any coal! I looked during the Christmas shopping season for those cute little round red tins with a piece of real coal people give out as gag gifts, but no luck. I have started looking for charcoal but due to this being winter and all the stores do not seem to have that either. A few years ago when I was in the same situation someone suggested buying a fish tank filter since many of them have coal inside. That year I lucked out by finding one of those cute red tins at a drug store. This year I had to make due with charcoal.

Why do I need coal on New Years Eve? For First Night of course! This has been a tradition in my family since before my mother was a little girl. What? You don't know what First Night is? It is an Irish tradition which was not practiced widely here in the states. My father did tell me tonight he was happily surprised to actually see a write up in his local news paper today. Well, here is how it goes. The first guests to enter your house after Midnight on New Years Eve usually arrive bearing meaningful gifts meant to bless you all through the New Year (also great for house warming parties as Auntie D reminded me).

First foot (first person to cross your threshold) should have dark hair...Not have red hair. This can be a difficult task in Ireland and sometimes leads to a scavenger hunt for someone with dark hair. Interesting way to make new friends, No?

Second foot is someone bearing a gift (any thing, cake, bell, scarf, car freshener he.he.he)

Third foot you shower with food and drink and ask if they would like to sing a song (they do not have to be in key or even Irish - did I say that?)

For the rest of the guests they can be the bearers of the following items (one person for each, duplicates are also welcome or you can hold on to them until you are at the next house)...

Bread - so you will never be hungry

Coal - so you will never be cold

Spirits - (alcohol or sometimes we use lottery scratch offs) so you will always have laughter to share.

Money - (Usually a coin or a lucky penny) so fortune will always find you.

Spice - (any you wish to give) so your life will always have a bit of spice to it.

A Plant - to give you growth, mentally and spiritually.

Chocolate - so you will have sweetness in your life.

Now you know about First Night.

Here is what my First Night baskets look like. After the stroke of midnight we will carry on a bit at our house and then go knocking on the neighbors' doors...with the baskets. (click on photo to enlarge)

Be Safe, Be Happy. Try doing both at the same time.

I have been writing posts to keep up with the many things we have been doing over here the last few weeks . I will post them later tonight or tomorrow.

Happy New Year to ALL !!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wonderful Home Coming

Whether coming home from a long day or from an extended time away there are sights that warm us all the way to the depths of our heart and soul.

Your husband waiting at the front door with open arms.

Your children rushing from the front door because they cannot wait for you to make those small steps from the car to enter the house.

Your cat or dog sitting in the front window with tails wagging while doing a little happy dance with great anticipation of you opening the front door.

Add to this the site of your own Christmas tree as you pull up in front of your home. Lights shining in an awe inspiring way. Vague shapes and shades of ornaments accenting and mixing into the beautiful glow. Peaceful. Wonderful. A feeling of “this is the season for joy.” Taking a moment to stop and appreciate all who are around you. All that is your family and your life.

Remember to Refuel and Recharge Yourself

Last week ManSon decided to take a seasonal job with FedEx. I am all for my teenagers making their own money. Since his car is no longer with us, (it died in Tennessee) I drop him off at FedEx during my lunch hour. After work I pick up Snow White and we head straight to FedEx to pick up ManSon.

In the morning rush to get Snow White and myself out the door I also try to take care of as many things as possible. Apparently this week that does not include eating breakfast. I make sure Snow White has her breakfast while I am in the shower but I cannot seem to slow down enough in the morning to actually sit down and have a bite to eat before starting my day.

The hustle bustle routine of my lunch hour is mimicking my morning. I go home, let Pup out in the back yard and take ManSon to work. I forget to bring lunch to work or grab something to eat at home. After I drop off ManSon I rush back to my office. This has happened all week.

Yesterday, after work I picked up my children and went straight home. Since I have been too busy in the morning and during lunch my body was starving for fuel. As soon as we were home I slid a full plate of sliced roast beef in the microwave. My arms and legs were shaking from lack of substance. Finally I was able to sit down. I inhaled my dinner. Almost immediately I felt both dizzy and relieved, ill and satisfied. It was a very strange feeling. My poor body.

Last night while getting ready for bed I promised myself I would make sure to eat breakfast and lunch tomorrow.

Morning came a little later than usual. I must have hit the snooze button when my alarm went off. So much for my promise to eat breakfast. I will make sure to slow down and have lunch. Even if it means eating at my desk.

Lunch time rolls around and I am in other peoples’ offices when I should be wrapping up things at my own desk. When I finish up with the other people I RUN to my van and head home to pick up ManSon. Remember that steep hill I slid down during the very small snow fall? I was on my way up that very same hill when my van started to sputter! I glace over at the gas gage and realize I have not only neglected to refuel my body, I also forgot to fuel up my van. Yes, I was running out of gas on that very steep hill! Again I made it to the top of the hill. I thought maybe I could make it to the gas station but no such luck. The van stopped dead just as I turned on to a semi-main road. I thought how lucky I was that it stopped here since it looked like a pull off area. Wrong. There was a no parking sign right next to my van so I tried the ignition hoping to go a little further up the road but the engine would not turn over.

Instinctively I picked up my cell phone to call ManSon to make him aware of the situation. Oh my, this was just not my day. That’s right, my cell phone battery was dead. I remember reading about a number you can punch in to get emergency power but could not remember what that number was. I grabbed my little purse out of my enormous bag and started walking towards home.

As I walked I thought, “This wont be so bad. It really isn’t that far, right?” Sure, there are no sidewalks but drivers will surely notice my bright flowing pink blouse. In my rush to leave the office I thought why would I need my coat? I will be in my van the whole time right? Wrong again. When I thought I was nearly halfway to my house I realized I had not even made it to the entrance of our development and my legs were starting to hurt. One and a half miles later I see my mail box. For a brief moment a feeling of great pride washed over me. I had walked briskly just over 2 miles in 30 minutes. As soon as I saw my Lincoln in the driveway I decide there is no way I could possibly walk all the way to the gas station and back to my van.

I should have junked or donated the Lincoln back in June but I just could not part with it. The Lincoln has been sitting in my driveway for 6 months. Just sitting there. The tags expired back in July and I never registered it here in our new state. The reason it is still with me is the seats. They are by far the most comfortable seats ever made.

ManSon saw me walking up the drive way. By the look on his face I could tell he was confused. All I could manage to say was “Out of gas. Get gas can.” When he came back with the gas can I opened the driver’s door and slid into the seat. “Ahhh. I. Love. This car.” ManSon laughed at me but I had another thought pressing me. Would the Lincoln start after sitting for so many months? Thank God! (literally) It started! YEAH!

Before pulling out of my driveway I said a little prayer that I would not be caught by the police. The tags are expired! A cab? It would take an hour for a cab to make it’s way out here to our house in the country. Everyone I know is either at work or out of state. The Lincoln was the only choice that did not involve ManSon and I calling our supervisors to say “We wont be coming (back) to work today.”

First stop, gas station to fill up the 5 gallon gas can. Next I drive to my van and who do you suppose is right behind my van waiting for me? A friend? Not exactly. It was a State Trooper! I park the Lincoln on a side street and run with the gas can over to my van. The Trooper, still in his car, motions for me to come to his driver’s side window. “Is this your vehicle? You are not permitted to park your vehicle here. We have received several complaints about this situation. Do you realize you even left your purse in the vehicle?” I explain that I did not purposely park my van here, that I simply ran out of gas and could do nothing about where it stopped. As to why I left my purse in the car? My purse is a tiny little thing that fits into my carry all bag (they match perfectly). Not wanting to go in to all of that with the Trooper I played up the Poor damsel in distress by saying “Oh! I didn’t realize. I was so flustered about the whole ordeal.” I was cheerful though my explanation. I smiled and I remember waving my hands around a lot.

Finally, the Trooper smiled back and said he would void the ticket. He also stepped out of his car, picked up the heavy gas can and poured the contents in to my gas tank. The Trooper made sure my van started and even followed me back to my house. How gallant.

After the Trooper drove away we dashed off in a hurry. Halfway up the highway it occurs to me that ManSon must call his supervisor to say he would be another 15 minutes. My cell phone is dead and his is in his bedroom. I laughed as I said “We are really getting back to basics today. First I end up walking to where I need to be and now we are without a cell phone looking for a payphone. “Do they still have payphones at gas stations?” We did find a few non working payphones and eventually found a working payphone. ManSon’s supervisor said it wouldn’t be a problem since today they were not starting until 1:30 pm. Thank you God, again! Instead of being late he would arrive on time.

ManSon was at work, on time and I was rushing back to my office. Apparently no one missed me. I was all set to tell them my sad little story and how everything still worked out in the end.

Well, nearly everything worked out. Not only did I miss breakfast but now I had completely missed out on lunch as well. The rest of the afternoon I was exhausted and felt like I was sputtering, just like the engine of my van when it was running out of gas. Tonight was a repeat of last night…heat up dinner, inhale, feel ill and full all at the same time.

Having my van run out of gas was suppose to be a wake up call to remember to refuel and I still forgot to eat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pretty Snow in the Country

Look! A whole field of Christmas Trees. Maybe I should check out this place Christmas know, incase there are presents under all of those trees! he.he.he.

This is the view from my office. It is no longer the view of D.C. but it is a pretty view none the less. The reason the picture is so gray? It isn't fog or smog...It's SNOWING!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Snow Day 2007

During my lunch hour I normally go home, let the dog out and have a bite to eat while watching the news. Today was different, I postponed my midday routine in order to pick up Snow White from school. It being winter and white fluffy particles falling from the sky meant school was closing early.

I could have let her go to daycare but after thinking things through it was best to take her home. The snow was accumulating in the parking lot at work and I had no idea what the roads were like. Driving from the school to our house was half the distance of driving from the daycare center. This is my first winter with our van which means I do not know exactly how it will maneuver in these conditions. The path to the daycare center would require me to drive up one very steep hill on the way there and another on the way to our house. Sliding down the front or back of either hill would land us in a stream. Gambling with my child’s safety is not an option.

Snow White was THRILLED when the teacher announced she would be a car rider today. She was not thrilled with the idea of spending a whole afternoon at the noisy daycare center. “Mom, you cannot understand how loud that place gets with SO MANY kids in one place. They do not understand how to keep their voices level. I get a headache just about every other day from all of their noise.” Structured play time with rowdy children or free time with her big brother? She will always pick free time with ManSon.

The roads were clear but wet when I returned to work. My mind was not on the roads as I drove back to office. Yes, I went back to work since no one else is trained or capable of doing my work. Ok, part of it is that I cannot stand the thought of someone else working on my projects. That would mean my over active imagination will stress me into believing I will have to work twice as hard to fix all that they mucked up. In reality I think the work would just sit until I returned to work. Sure, some people left early but come on it was only four inches of snow and the roads were fine…at 2 pm.

I could not stop myself from taking a picture when I saw a field of Christmas Trees on my way back to work. (will load pictures in a bit)

This is the view from my office today. An old weather beaten barn across the field which held a vast amount of corn this past summer. That is not a haze or fog you see, that is the snow coming down.

On my way home at 5 pm, what was wet at 2 pm was now frozen. I do not live far from my office but the drive was not what I was expecting. It was only FOUR inches of snow for goodness sakes! Where were all the other rush hour drivers I am so accustomed to seeing on my way home? Why were they not out in droves pushing the snow and ice off the road little by little? FOUR inches people! Did everyone cowardly rush home at the sight of a few flakes?

“WHAT WAS THAT?!” As thoughts of people being cowardly about the meager bit of snow fall passed through my brain…my van began to fishtail (back end swerving side to side). I was only going 20 MPH in a 40 MPH zone. Maybe it was God’s way of telling me to not be so hard on others.

I regained control of my vehicle without incident. It was too late to back track and go another rout. A steep hill ahead was coming into view. I saw a large sedan making its way up and purposely gave them room ahead of me just incase they slid back down. When they made it up to the top a huge sigh of relief escaped from my lips forming that oh so familiar cloud from warm air making a presence in the outdoor cold.

Now it was my turn. I made sure not to go too fast or too slow. I was reaching the underpass, saw the stop sign at the top of the hill and I started to smile. THEN THE VAN STARTED TO SLIDE BACKWARDS!! As I looked into the rear view mirror I could see where I was headed. Straight for the cement walls of the underpass and feeling of despair washed over me. My children are at home. They wont know what happened to me. In a few hours or maybe in a day or so a policeman, a stranger, will knock on my door and tell them he is sorry.

Great sadness filled my soul for a flicker of a second. Then, my Mommy side kicked in and said “NOT TODAY! No Way! I kept my foot off the break and pumped the gas peddle. Eventually my tires made contact with the road and I was on my way back up the steep hill. When I reached the stop sign at the level top I turned off the engine and cried for a few minutes.

When I started the engine again I thanked God for getting me to the top of that hill. I told myself there are no more hills on the way and I have all night to carefully make my way home.

Did I make it home? Of course I did silly! Otherwise I would not have been able to write this tonight. I hope everyone made it home safe and sound tonight. During the winter months please remember to give everyone on the road all the space they need for the unexpected. Another lesson I learned, do not be quick to judge those who decide to head home early from work, a holiday party or a nice visit with you. My usual, very simple, 7 minute drive from work was not what I expected it to be.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Christmas Look

This may sound silly but I have been thinking of how sparse under the tree will look this year. My children will receive spectacular gifts but due to the cost of each there number will be far less than I am accustom.

I should be excited at the fact I can afford these luxury items for my children. That they will be overjoyed when they open just one of their presents. As shallow as it sounds I love the look of a Christmas tree with a mountain of presents piled up beneath.

I realize presents nor the cost are the point of Christmas. Me, at 40 years old still loves the WOW factor when you first wake up Christmas morning and see overflowing stacks of presents. It makes the whole room look picture perfect…until the children race in. Sure they have that same awe struck moment of WOW. After the presents are opened, wrapping paper strewn about the room and toys, gadgets, gizmos, clothes, etc cover the floor. This sight is not nearly as pretty as the one moments ago.

Has anyone put up their tree yet? I really should pull out our decorations this weekend.

What is your favorite decoration/ornament/centerpiece, etc. of this holiday season?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Black Friday Experiences

Thursday, Thanksgiving Night

After laughing and taking a few photos of the all night Black Friday campers we went back to my house for a little shut eye. I tried to fall asleep but after staying up so late it was difficult. Around 2:30 am I finally fell asleep. At 3:00 am I was awakened by what I thought was a strange noise which turned out to be my cell phone.

Remember, I had signed up for all the short cuts and emails and everything for the Black Friday sales and secrete in store sales. I answer the phone not really awake “Hello. This is your local Walmart manager calling to say Happy Black Friday. GET YOUR BUTT UP! IT’S TIME TO SHOP!” I had only slept for all of 45 minutes so I was a bit groggy. After this sort of off the wall greeting via phone I softly say “Hum, it must be one of those things I signed up for on line.” Then comes a burst of hysterical laughter on the other end of the phone. It was my brother, Uncle C, giving me wake up call.

Finally, I realize the stores would be open in one hour! I live out in the country now! We had to get dressed and start driving! I grab some clothes and start dressing as I run from my room up two flights of stairs to wake up my sister. “Hurry Up! It’s time to go!” Apparently my running sort of scared her dog Bear. He was asleep on the bed right next to her. At first he just popped his head up but as I ran up the stairs getting closer and closer to the bedroom door….Well, lets just say he almost wet the bed.

I take him out for his potty break. Pup was not about to be woken up at this time of the morning to do his business. I throw food in the cat bowls, dog bowls and rabbit cage. Auntie D was ready in a flash and out we went.

My driving had Auntie D pretty scared. She yelled a few times “SLOW DOWN! Don’t hit that car! Are you really awake!” he.he.he. We made it to Kmart in 15 minutes flat! Wait a minute. Why does it look so deserted? Oh poop! It is almost 4 am and this store doesn’t open until 6am. What can I say? The number one item on my list was the 19 inch, LCD, flat screen TV with DVD player for $197 at Kmart.

On to plan B. We head over the Circuit City for the Gold Nintendo DS and Zelda game for $139.99. On our arrival we discovered the line had indeed grown since midnight but not by much. It was almost time for the doors to open but I started thinking. With the number of people lined up outside it would take a good 30 minutes or so for us to actually get through the doors. Did I mention it was 29 degrees outside? After a few minutes of deliberation I proclaim Snow White too young for a DS and we head over to the mall next door.

While making it across the 4 lanes from Circuit City to the Mall we witness an awful accident at the light heading towards the main roads. The traffic lights were blinking Red on two sides of the intersection and blinking yellow on the other two sides. The problem was an extra large pick-up truck on one of the blinking yellow lights side came plowing through the intersection and sent a large SUV spinning. It made a horrible noise! We waited a few moments to see if they were ok. Given that the SUV and another car next to it started to back up we figured they would be ok. The pick up truck looked like it just kept going but might have stopped a little way down the road where we could not see it. Ok, I am wide awake now!

The mall stores opened at 4am so we started out in JC Penny’s looking for work out clothes for Auntie D’s new boyfriend “Chief”. She was very picky and selective about what was considered good work out clothes and what wasn’t. I wish I had her sense of work out fashion. Me, I am girly, girl. I don’t care about the brand name or what the material is as long as it would look super cute on me. Then again we were shopping for a man.

I picked up a beaded canopy for Oldest Daughter since it was half off and then another 10% off at the register. Those things are pretty expensive. When I was looking at them in the spring they ran from $75 - $150. It was on sale for a really good price so it would be one of her small gifts. We needed to spend a certain amount to get an additional percentage off at the register so I picked up a cashmere scarf set which was normally $30 but on sale for $10. This gave us the amount we needed but were told that discount is for 3pm. Oh well, they were still really good buys. We stood in line for what seemed FOREVER! Each sales counter in the store had four registers but only one cashier. Hey, it’s Black Friday! What were they thinking?

During our 15 - 20 minutes in line we made a few friends and laughed about this and that. Just when I thought the whole world had been put on pause, a lady came up and softly said “I can take some of you over here…in draperies.” Auntie D jokingly said “Oh, so you have been hiding from us?” As the woman unlocked the keys of her register I started to get a little nervous. We had been in the store for a good while and in line longer than we anticipated. Would we still get to Kmart in time for the LCD TV?

We were rung up, checked out and running for the exit. I raced down the highway and we were at Kmart 5 minutes before opening! Wooohoo! We rock! Wait? What is that I see? A line? How dare they start a line now when there was no line at midnight or 4 am. Oh well, to the end of the line we go. It wasn’t a particularly long line. There were about 70 people in front of us. People lining up behind us were complaining a little saying it was already past 6 am and what was wrong with the employees watches?
The moment arrived! The doors were opened! …then it started. People started cussing and yelling and I am still about 50 feet away from the front doors. Apparently some people came out of their cars and walked right up to the front doors. They made no attempt to go to the end of the line. Sure, the people who have been freezing out here in line will have no problem letting them hop out of their toasty warm cars and butt in front of them. “GET TO THE BACK OF LINE!” a group shouted at them. They said other things but I wont repeat them. Did the new comers do that? Nope. They waited next to the front doors and scooted in here and there when they could.

Ok, I am through the doors! Auntie D rushes off to get a cart and I head over to Electronics. I was here just a few days ago to make sure I knew where the store was. There was no barricade to this department then. The employees set it up so only one person at a time could get either in or out of the department.

Auntie D wiggled her way in since she is far braver than I. What was I doing? Guarding a completely empty cart. She is only about 4’8” so it was difficult for me to see her over the barriers. I saw people coming out with two or three of the TVs in their carts. One young woman who might have just turned 20 parked her cart right infront of me like maybe I should get out of her way. Then she started looking over her shoulder and turned her back on her cart a few times. Auntie shouted that the TVs were all gone.

For a brief moment I considered an awful thought. Maybe the next time this 20 year old looks over her shoulder I could just grab… Oh for heaven’s sake. I couldn’t do that! I had to laugh at myself for even thinking I might be able to out run her or not feel guilty for taking one of her TVs.

The woman behind me looked like she was going to really cry when she heard Auntie D say there were no more TVs. Then she raised her chin and said “That’s ok. Walmart has them for a dollar more.” Off we ran for the exist, the woman, Auntie D and me.

We arrive at Walmart and run to the Electronics department where we met Surfer Dude salesman “What? Oh. The TVs? Yeah. They’er gone. You are Soooo lucky you weren’t here for that. There was hitting. And fighting. And cussing. And yelling. Yeah. You were lucky.” At this point it is about 7 am and all I have purchased is a scarf set and a beaded canopy at JC Penny’s. Neither of these were on my list of gifts. Ok so I asked Auntie D where she wanted to go next?

She decided it would be a good idea to head back to the mall. Yeah! the traffic lights were really working now. No more blinking lights to cause crazy accidents. They did have the police there directing traffic inside the various parking lots around the mall. The accident from earlier that morning was cleaned up when we left for Kmart but a new accident involving 4 or 5 cars had happened while we were in JC Penny.

Ok we are at the mall. Gleefully swishing through Boscovs, Hot Topic, Pet Gourmet, a few Jewelry shops and I cannot for the life of me remember what other shops we ventured in to.

It is almost noon and all I had was a muffin and coffee at 3am. My body is starting to give out from lack of fuel and rest. I resign that we must eat before we hit any more stores. Auntie D agreed to eat a quick lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. As we ordered I noticed I was slurring my words and might have only had my eyes half open. I would have mistaken myself for a well dress drunk. he.he.he.

Food was good but not the answer. I still could barely move and realized if I did not get some much needed sleep my body would indeed give out. Auntie D reluctantly gave up her protests that I just needed to get my body moving again.

Oh my goodness, we made it home and not a moment too soon. I took my shoes off and fell asleep as soon as my body hit the bed. Really, I was O-U-T, out! Auntie D tried to wake me up a few times with things like “Your bathroom upstairs is flooding.” Or “Hurry! ManSon just left a message on your answering machine! He is in trouble! He needs you! Help Him!”

In answer to her first claim about the bathroom I say “Plunger. My bathroom.” I might have motioned towards the bathroom door but I am not really sure. When she mentioned ManSon was in trouble I yelled back “MANSON IS FINE! HE IS FINE! SHUT UP! GO AWAY!” Makes you want to rush over and be a guest at my house doesn’t it?

If ManSon was really in trouble he would have called my cell phone, not the house phone. When I said I took my shoes off and fell asleep…I couldn’t stay awake long enough to get undressed and put on jammies. I even forgot to take off my blue tooth. he.he.he. Well, I was extremely tired and only had about 3 hours sleep in the last 48 hours. I played the message and it was some man wanting to sell me a car warranty which I already have, thank you very much. The bathroom was fine too.

After sleeping for four hours I did get up and we headed back out to the shops. First stop, Target. Auntie D was looking for a specific GPS system with all the bells and whistles. She wanted it to talk to her, sing to her and be her very best friend on all her long travels. Me? I just need map quest and one of my children to sing to me on road trips.

I could duct tape the old Game Boy on to my dash and pretend it is a GPS thing-a-ma-giggy. he.he.he. Oh hush. I thought it was funny at the time. I was giddy from shopping, lack of proper sleep, rushing and just well everything.

Oh look! Something Shinny! It was a Gold Nintendo DS in a box inside the square register area. “Why, yes miss. We do have the Gold Nintendo DS with the Zelda game right here. How much? $139.99 plus you will receive a free $10 gift card.” She opens the box and pulls out a few pink ones with the lame Nintendo Dogs game then hands me the coveted Gold one! Here it was, Friday evening and I had one of the coveted Black Friday super sales items in my very own hands! A lady standing next to me also asked to see the Gold Nintendo DS. I held mine tight to my chest but that was silly. The sales lady had a whole box of them right there. She said it was a gift for her daughter and had the same opinion of the dog game. Neither of us Moms were going to give into buying a DS for our daughters just because it was our daughter’s favorite color. We know our girls would appreciate the Zelda game more. Besides, you can buy pink covers called “skins” (creepy huh?).

It turned out buying the DS at Target was much better than standing in the cold waiting to get into Circuit City. The price was the same and I received a $10 gift certificate right there at the register. Some stores offered gift cards with Black Friday purchases but when I read the fine print … “to be used at a later date” or “will be mailed to you in 6-8 weeks.” I did look at the back of the card to see if there was a time limit to use it or anything saying it depreciated if not used. Nope. Not on the card at all so I was really happy. Hey, maybe add this to the Teacher’s gift?

Eventually we went to the mall closer to my house. We walked around a bit but the only store we actually purchased anything from was Bath and Body Works. Aunt C, our sister-in-law is not someone you want to get the wrong gift for. Well, let me put it another way. We really enjoy seeing someone’s face light up when they open a gift from us. If that doesn’t happen I feel like I just chucked money in a garbage can. I thought the Cherry Blossoms would be a nice fragrance for Oldest Daughter but WOW it really packed a punch. I finally found a sent I liked and Auntie D was still having trouble picking out the perfect gift for Aunt C. The staff was super nice, non-intrusive and ready to help. Finally we decided to buy the red alligator style gift bags. We saved a few bucks by going the gift bag rout than we would have had we just bought the bottles. I also saw a manicure set in a case that matched the gift bag…for $10! They looked so cute I wanted to buy one for everyone I knew. Ok it was almost 10 pm and we skipped dinner. I might have been a little light headed but still, they were cute!

The stores in the start to pull down their gates and close the doors. It was time to head home and have a little something to eat. But wait! It is late and nearly everything was closing up. There was no way I was going to turn on my oven in my tired condition. We decided Pizza Hut would be open and cheesy breadsticks sounded like it would really hit the spot. We tell the cashier we would like 4 orders of breadsticks. Auntie D adds “Family size please.” I haven’t been to a Pizza Hut in forever so I had no idea what that meant. The cashier looks at her and then at me “Are you sure you want 4 orders?” All I hear is 4 orders of breadsticks and I say “Yes. I have teenagers.”

We sit at a table and wait for our breadsticks to go. After a few laughs about things that happened through out the day the cashier comes over to our table. “I am so sorry. We seemed to have burned two of your orders. Can I offer you a free drink while you wait.” We laugh it off and agree to have a root beer. A few minutes later the cashier returns with 4 large pizza boxes! Um what? How many breadsticks did we order? Auntie D starts laughing and says “Family size…that means we actually ordered 40 breadsticks.” Oh well, I do have teenagers and they have friends.

At home we each ate maybe 3 breadsticks each and went to bed. Auntie D lives in another state so she wanted to get a jump on the holiday traffic. This meant I would get up at 3 am …again. I did wake up, say my goodbyes and even waved from the front porch as she drove off. Then…I slept until noon. Ahhh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Black Friday (With Photos)

Thursday night Auntie D and I packed up our vehicles and head out towards the highway. First we had to stop off at a gas station to fill up. Auntie D almost had a heart attack! $3.45/per gallon! Meanwhile back at our house gas was $3.07.

ManSon, Auntie D, Pup, Bear and I all arrived safely at our house around 11PM. We unpacked the cars and looked through the print outs of the deals I received via email. I signed up for emails from just about ever store out there. We only printed out the pages with the deals we were interested in. Auntie D was most interested in sporting goods and work out clothes for her boyfriend the Chief.

I had only a few items on my Black Friday list …

1. 19 inch, LCD flat screen, HDTV, with DVD player and many high tech options which I know nothing about. All of this for only $197, a real bargain at Kmart. Okay, so I don’t usually shop there for anything but they do seem to have the good deals on TV’s every Black Friday.

2. Nintendo DS Lite at Circuit City for $139. You can choose from the Pink version with the Nintendo Dogs game or the Gold version with Legend of Zelda Phantom of the Hour Glass. Snow White would really like a Pink DS but I think she would rather have the cool Zelda game. She is a big fan of the Zelda games.

There was also the option of an Xbox at Walmart at $279 for ManSon. He has wanted one since they first came out. Why has this game system not come down in price over the last few years? I am big on giving my children great gifts but usually they do not ask for such trendy/fad items.

Since he is 19 years old I decided to let him figure out which gift he would like for his big present. We discussed it on the way home from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. He was pretty taken aback when I suggested the TV or Xbox. He had only asked for me to fix up my Lincoln. Yes, I still have my old car even though I bought my new van back in June. What can I say. I am really attached to that luxury car. There is no seat in this world that comes close to the comfort of the driver’s seat in my Lincoln. Aside from the Lincoln he asked for an alarm clock.

Ok so instead of an alarm clock and fixing up the Lincoln (new muffler and motor for the driver’s side window) I am offering a brand new TV or Xbox. After much deliberation he chose the TV. I think Santa will bring him the alarm clock and I will fix up the Lincoln since his car is out of commission.

It was 11PM when we arrived at our house. We had out sales pages laid out and our plan of action was to hit Circuit City first since it opened first. Aunt C told us they were opening at midnight. This was a surprise to me but hey, I was willing to do a little shopping at midnight.

Auntie D and I headed out to Circuit City. We arrived at 12:30 AM and there was a decent sized line formed across the front of the building. The store was not open. The Circuit City Black Friday campers were 99% teenagers. Since we were out and the store was not open I decided to park and ask the only adults in the line (at the end of the line) when the store would open? They told me the store opens at 5AM and they were all in line for the $800 lap top which would be on sale for only $300! I assured them I was not interested in a lap top. My goal was the Nintendo DS. They all looked at me as if I had three heads. They did not know what it was so I explained it was a child’s hand held game. I know many teenagers have them too as Oldest Daughter and her friends have them.

Then we headed over to Best Buy. This store was not on our list but we spotted a tent and a huge line. I could not resist driving by and laughing. There is nothing on sale this Black Friday that would make me sit down on a cold concrete side walk freezing my wee bum off for 5 hours or more.

I did not take photos of the Black Friday Circuit City sale campers since I would be returning in a few hours. Look here at the Best Buy. The first person in line has a TENT set up! This was the first time I had seen someone using a tent for the Black Friday customer line up.

Oh and a few minutes later more people and tents were added to the line. The line not only went across the front of the building but down the side and curved around the back of the building! Since I was snapping pictures here I did not venture out to ask what they were hoping to get for their Black Friday bargain.

One thing I saw really annoyed me. There was a Mother, Grandmother and a little boy around 6 or 7 years old. Why on Earth would someone bring a child to sit out in the cold and wind for 5 hours?! Surely one of them could have staid home with the boy while the other scooped up the bargains!

After seeing the enormous line at Best Buy I could not help but laugh at the measly line of about 4 people camped out at Staples.

I cannot wait to read your Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday posts!

To be continuted....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving with the Family

I truly enjoy our family get-togethers. Your family really understands you. They often finish your sentences before you have a chance to just because they are on the same wave length. We can look at each other without saying a word, laugh hysterically and know exactly why something was so incredibly funny!

Last year both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner were at my house. This year Thanksgiving was at my parents house. This was their very first big holiday dinner at their new house. We planned on leaving early in the morning. Due to being so excited the night before it took several hours for me to fall asleep. This lead to a late start for us.

I was also worried about a phone call I received that night from my sister. “Mom is a bit upset with you. She wants to know why everyone is calling you to coordinate HER Thanksgiving dinner.” It never occurred to me WHY? Just as I never think to ask Why when just about everyone in the family asks me what to get so and so for their birthday or Christmas? Or when anyone wants to know when so and so’s birthday is they always call me. Well, I pretty much call everyone when there is a birthday in the family to make sure they at least call to give Birthday wishes. Anyway, I think everyone was calling me to see when me and the children would arrive and to make sure we were not all bringing the same dishes.

Oldest Daughter decided it would be fun to have a non traditional Thanksgiving with Dad. His version of Thanksgiving was eating crab legs at a Chinese buffet and going out to watch a movie. My children are old enough to decide which parent they would like to spend the holiday with and I will not pressure them one way or the other. I do miss them terribly when they are not around but I do realize I am not their only parent.

Since no one would be at home to let the dog out when he need out, we took him along with us…on a long, long road trip. Before heading out on our road trip we had to take out the long seat in the very back of the van and one seat in the middle row. This was to insure we had plenty of room for the organ Grandma and Grandpa were giving us. Plus Pups dog cage, two large pumpkins for Grandma’s pumpkin bread and veggie soup and the large cooler with wheels for the food we were bringing.

Due to the missing seats the pumpkins, dog cage and cooler started rolling around the back of the van. Pup was so afraid one of those large pumpkins was going to roll right over him! He jumped up in the passenger seat right in ManSon’s lap. I had to pull over, put the pumpkins in the dog cage and buckle the handle of the rolling cooler to Snow Whites seat. Pup still cried for the first half hour. He eventually settled down by curling up in my extra large purse between the two front seats.

The day before I told my sister we would arrive at our parents house in the morning. We arrived around 1pm. Why the urgency to arrive early in the morning? Well, my sister was visiting our parents since the previous Saturday. Yes, almost a full week of visiting before Thanksgiving Day. It does not matter how much you love the people you are visiting, there comes a time when enough is maybe too much. A thoughtful parent can cover all the ways you should improve your life in one afternoon but imagine all the ways they can make up in a week. My little sister, Auntie D, is just over 30 years old and pretty much has her whole life together. The one thing she wants to improve in her life is her job. She has yet to find the perfect job. She has a job which pays the mortgage, all of her bills and allows her some financial and personal freedom. Auntie D is looking for a job which better suits her experience and educational background. What she has to improve upon is beyond me.

My older brother, Uncle L, knows what he is doing in life and has many things he wants to work on. Thus his visit started the night before Thanksgiving and will end with his departure Saturday evening. See with age does come wisdom.

As soon as we arrived there was just barely enough time to hug my parents and visit the bathroom before Auntie D was hustling me out the front door. She insisted that we take our dogs, Bear and Pup, for a much need walk.

While we were on our walk with Snow White and our dogs, ManSon unloaded the cooler and put the food away in the down stairs refrigerator. I brought a large ham which was the same size as the large turkey. My super pasta salad that had so many veggies you could almost see the pasta. Well, what can I say. I got a bit carried away with the chopping of veggies with my giant, super sharp knives. Along with these two items I also brought two pumpkin pies since our family is really big on pumpkin pies. Seriously, ManSon alone could eat a whole pie himself.

Soon we were all sitting in the living room, Grandpa, Grandma, Auntie D, Uncle L, Snow White, ManSon and myself while Bear and Pup got acquainted. We caught up on what everyone has been up to last week or so. We touched a little on politics but mostly talked about personal items. Everyone asked about Oldest Daughter and I explained she was spending the holiday with Dad. Sad sighs were released from everyone in the room but they understood.

My personal stuff was derived from a few official letters I received in the mail recently. One was to inform me of a “fee” which sounds more like a fine for receiving child support. The other letter was from the Court House via the school telling me I better sign Snow White up for the program for Handicapped Children. At first I laughed at the letter thinking they must have confused her with someone else. She is not handicapped in any way shape or form (Thanking God). I will get into these two letters in another post. I wont go into anyone else’s “personal stuff” as it is their “stuff” and so minimal it would boar you to tears.

A few minutes later Uncle C called to say they were just about to leave his house. This was about the time we sort of expected them to be just around the corner. Who am I to complain? I arrived hours later than expected myself.

When they arrived hugs and kisses were given all around then another jaunt around the neighborhood with the dogs. Snow White loved showing off HER dog to her cousins. Everyone in our family loves dogs but it wasn’t like this was the first time her cousins had met Bear and Pup. Uncle C teased Snow White by saying “Since you have our Bunny visiting you why don’t I take your dog for awhile?” She persisted that there was no way in this world he was going to have HER dog. “Come on. I will give you a whole quarter. No? Ok how about 50 cents? 50 cents is a lot of money! I will give you 50 cents for him.” Uncle C was not about to take her dog but he could not resist teasing her about it. We all laughed at his futile attempts and her reaction to each proposal.

As everyone calmed down and sat in the living room for another round of catching up Grandpa asked me take a look at his computer. Apparently his Wiifi was not working properly. My Dad has had a computer for the last 10 years or so and for that I applaud him. Most of his generation, friends, consider them too complicated or they just do not want to bother with them. My Dad sees the advantages of using a computer but does not have all the training required to use his highly techno loaded computer to the fullest. For this he relies on me. Each time I visit we have a mini computer class to help him use his fully loaded computer system. When I say fully loaded I mean FULLY LOADED! He has EVERY gadget, gizmo in the latest and greatest technologic software and hardware. He puts the rest of us to shame.

As soon as the rest of the family hears I am working to fix his Wiifi lap tops start to appear out of thin air! Apparently many of my family members want to keep in touch with the world wide web even on Thanksgiving Day. If I had not been on a family computer tech call I would have posted to my blog.

During a computer class intermission it was time to walk the dogs again. Snow White, my nieces, Auntie D, Bear, Pup and I walked the dogs around the neighborhood. We ran, laughed and all carried on like children. Then something stopped us dead in our tracks. Snow White was several yards ahead of us. We saw a pack of DEER running! In the first second we were all excited about seeing the deer. The next second I was RUNNING towards Snow White YELLING!! It wasn’t excitement that made me yell! It was pure FEAR! “SNOW WHITE!! SNOW WHITE! LOOK! LOOK! LOOK OUT!!”

Thank goodness she was walking Pup. He spotted the deer before Snow White saw them and he barked as loud as a little dog could. The deer veered away from her and gracefully traipsed across the street in front of her. Auntie D, our nieces and I finally caught up with Snow White. Auntie D was trying to take pictures as she ran but they came out a little blurry. As the deer skipped across the street we counted them….8 reindeer! “Snow White, how many reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh?” “EIGHT! MOMMY THERE WERE EIGHT!! Mommy! Santa‘s reindeer are practicing at Grandma‘s house!!” Moments like these are truly priceless.

Well, it was time for everyone to start gathering around for the feast. My sister-in-law, Aunt C, brought green beans and new potatoes in her extra large crock pot, home made sweets -snickers pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cookies, rice crispy treats and home-made-melt-in-your-mouth-make-you-drool macaroni and cheese. Grandma’s turkey looked too good to eat! She also made pork beans with brown sugar and mustard spice, rolls and croissants and I cannot remember what else. I was later told that Auntie D made the mashed potatoes which were whipped creamy and so delicious. After dinner she told us they came from a BOX! I have tried instant mashed potatoes before but they were nothing like this. Her mashed potatoes tasted wonderful! When everyone was saying their goodbyes later you might have caught me licking the spoon and scraping the bowl. he.he.he.

When we were figuring out who was sitting where my youngest niece, 11 yrs old, was standing at the formal dinning table. When I said “All of you girls and ManSon will be eating at the kitchen table” which was just a few feet away. She jokingly said “Oh no! Not again! Us at the kiddie table?” We both laughed but apparently it was not funny to my sister-in-law, Aunt C. I saw her rush over to my brother, Uncle C, and heard her say “We need to talk. OUR family must eat together” In the end the kiddie table consisted of Auntie C, Uncle C, my nieces and Snow White. Since Aunt C and Uncle C were going to eat at the kiddie table that freed up some room at the formal dinning table for ManSon.

It really is no big deal who sits where but I thought it a bit odd that Aunt C made it a point that she and Uncle C sit at the same table with their girls. The girls would have been just fine at the table without their parents. The whole point of setting up the tables dividing the adults and the grandchildren was for conversation. Mind you ManSon is a great deal older than my nieces and Snow White but he would have carried on a great conversation with all and kept it going. Most importantly he could be my spy to find out what is on their Christmas lists.

When the turkey was carved Grandpa asked “Who wants a drumstick?” Snow White is all about the drumstick weather it is turkey or chicken so she held nothing back when she shouted out “ME! ME! I want a drumstick!” As soon as she had possession of that drumstick everyone wanted to snap a shot of the youngest family member with a giant drumstick. “Hold it right there…just a little closer to your mouth…almost there….one more for me..and me too.” Snow White was a trooper in the beginning but then she said “Can I eat it yet!”

During our feast there were laughs all around and many funny photos taken. One photo was of Auntie D and Uncle L dulling with carving fork and knife. One of Auntie D looking like she was about to poke me with carving fork and Grandma in the background looking like she was tisk tisking the idea.

We have many, many years of formal family photos over the years. We still pose for these but something happened years ago when I was pregnant with Snow White. Our Dad said he has everything he has ever wanted so from now on asked that his Christmas gift be a photo of all of us. That year we had a group photo session for just his children. We wanted to include our sister-in-law but she said she was happier shopping. Anyway, the photo shoot went well and you know when we get together there is just too much fun! While the photographer loaded up the camera for the next set of photos we joked around with different poses of us attacking each other. The photographer laughed with us and said she would gladly take a photo of us doing just that if we really wanted one. In unison we agreed we would really want one photo of us joking around. To this day that is one of our favorite photos of each other.

Keeping in the new tradition of our silliness we took a silly photo of us last Christmas. This photo came back to us in the shape of a surprise Thanksgiving envelope for each of us…full of money from Uncle L. We all thanked Uncle L for the early Christmas presents! Auntie D was not in the photo since she took it last year nor was Aunt C. Well, they were trying to work out their issues with the timers on their cameras and could not manage to get in the photo in time. During which I said “Show us your silly!” I got the first photo then it was a game and I was in the photo Auntie D took which was the best of them all!

Since Grandma was too ill to come to Christmas at my house last year and Auntie D and Aunt C were trying to take the photos none of them were in our silly photo last year. This year we had everyone minus Oldest Daughter. Auntie D had perfected her camera timer and this year we did another silly picture.

Auntie D took 125 photos or more and I only took a mere 15-20. I might post some later but for now this post is very long as it is.

How was your Thanksgiving holiday? I will post my Black Friday experience next.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Child Excited... Hannah Montana or Vegtables

A few days ago Snow White siad she might like to try Califlower. This is not a normal request parents often hear from their 8 year olds. While browsing the produce section last night I recalled her request. Why not let her try it. Unfortunately, there were no small portions available. I had to purchase a "bunch" which resembled a human brain but twice the size.

Tonight while feeding our loaner rabbit, I suggested we see if he likes califlower. Snow White also insisted that she try it. I poured out a large dolup of ranch dressing on a small plate with a few pieces of califlower. "No! No dressing yet! I want to try it plain first so I can really taste it."




Then she was pushing whole pieces in her mouth.


Next she looks at the dolup of ranch dressing and gingerly dips one piece and..."Oh. This is dreamy."


She is so excited about this new found veggie deliciousness she immediatly exclaims "GRANDMA! GRANDMA! THIS CALIFLOWER IS SO DELICIOUS! IT REALLY IS!" Moments later she finds out it was Auntie D who answered the phone (she is visiting during Thanksgiving vacation). Then Grandma gets on the phone and she thinks she is talking to Auntie D. When she realizes Grandma is on the phone her enthusiasum is the same as when she first placed the call. "GRANDMA! GRANDMA! I JUST HAD TO CALL YOU AND TELL YOU ABOUT THIS CALIFLOWER!! IT IS DELICIOUS! IT IS JUST LIKE BROCOLI !!"

You would have thought this kind of excitement would come from a visit from Hannah Montana or a visit to Santa's Magical Workshop but from a veggitable? I would have never guessed it myself.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Black Friday and Christmas Sales

Holiday shopping oh how I love it!! Today during my lunch hour I decided to visit a few stores just to find the exact locations of the Super Sales items for Saturday morning. Oh My Goodness! The store was holding a Secret Sale today on tomorrows items PLUS so much more! I have signed up for emails of Secret Sales and Weekly Ads for All the major stores I shop at or think might have something on my shopping list.

Thank Goodness I went to the mall during my lunch hour today! I bought my mother a 1.5 ct sapphire with 0.5 ct tw diamonds at a fraction of the regular price!!! (HUGE SAVINGS! HUGE!!) I bought one for my wonderful mother and Santa even had enough to add one in his bag for me. I also bought bracelets for my nieces, sister -in-law, Grammy K and one for Santa’s to put under the tree for me. Since I purchased an obscene number in pieces of jewelry (high volume low comparative cost) the sales woman gave me a discount card , which resembles our library card, for repetitive use from now until mid December. A bonus gift of free Disney toys was also given. Since the toys were very age appropriate for my Ex’s son who would truly LOVE receiving them, will have them under his tree. No, he is not my son but he is a wonderful part of our lives. Super savings on jewelry plus a free gift for someone who would love it is GREAT!

Lesson I learned today, just because the ad says the sale is tomorrow does not mean you should wait until tomorrow to visit the store. A few of the items I purchased were advertised via TV and emails specials for tomorrow morning. If you went to the store today and asked about tomorrows sale items specifically, you were given the sale today! Another way around the secret sales and to get you in their stores shopping before the advertised events.

What has changed for Black Friday this year? Well, a few years ago in Indiana ( I was there at the time) you only received the Black Friday sales flyer from Walmart IF you were already signed up on their mailing list. The sales flyer did not go out in the regular edition of the news paper with all the other store flyers. I was only on there for a 6 month project so, um, no. I was not on the Indian mailing list at my temporary living quarters. Thank goodness my cousin was on the mailing list! Otherwise I would not have found out about the 20” TV for $79, $60 Dirt Devil all in one vacuum cleaner and many, many other items. My cousin’s mother-in-law laughing said “Your poor children.” True, nothing was on sale at super savings that my children wanted. They are just not the type who crave the “Gotta have it now, newest, latest greatest creation of all time, right now.” They want things that no one else usually thinks about wanting for Christmas or for a gift of any kind. Black Friday sales have never assisted me in purchasing their rare requests.

Although Black Friday sales usually have no effect on my children’s wish lists they do come in handy for items other family members wish lists or house hold items I need or want for my own house.

I do have to wonder with each year Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping displays over lap each other more and more. Sales that resemble “Black Friday” special hours and “Super Holiday Savings” sales are now peeking before the normal Black Friday. This year the holiday bargains are more like musical chairs. The music plays, sometimes on TV, sometimes on the internet and sometimes only in the actual store.

Millions of shoppers are preparing for the holiday sales events. I am really loving the idea of finding Super Deals before they normally happen. Mind you, if I find out you saved on a Nintendo DS, Leapster and Bratz Math Game, Princess/Bratz TV or a 19 in dual AV outlet TV and I did not know about it in time I would be pissed….extremely as these are my Black Friday targets. I think I would be so upset by it I might even go so far as to boycott that particular store for a full year. After all, they did not notify me of their sale when I tried so hard to make sure I was on every list possible, so why should I bother with at all with their store?

I wonder how many people will miss the Pre- Black Friday Super Sales. How many of them were actually planning to spend and save before Black Friday this year? I was actually making out a budget to follow the Black Friday sales and not the Pre-Super Sales. This resulted in my missing a few huge sales last weekend and the previous weekend. I was not planning to shop on those weekends nor will I be likely to make the jump start on my Christmas shopping so early next year. The normal path of my monthly bills and my repetitiveness from years and years of Christmas shopping just will not allow me to be sucked into the retailer’s and wholesaler’s who would like to make this a new trend. Extra savings is always nice but where do we draw the line on the calendar to end Christmas Savings accounts and budget for the spending feast which usually happens during that special time of year?

Monday, November 12, 2007


Hello Again! I missed all of you! I hope to have a few free moments here and there to catch up with each of you on your blogs. I am so far behind in my reading and commenting.

I finally made it back to my semi-normal self and ready to get back in the swing of things. During my illness I tried to keep on top of things like taking Snow White directly to school. What?

School: Why was she late this morning?
Me: I am sick.
School: Sorry, that does not excuse her for being late.
What I wanted to say: You are so right. I should have just shoved her out the front door and said ‘Hope you figure out your way to the school even though you have never walked there before.’
Me: Ok, she can use the first of her allowed 5 unexcused absences.
School: You should have called to let us know she would be late.
Me: I cannot call if I am not awake.
School: You should make better plans in order to be prepared in the morning.
Me: I am sick. I did not plan to be late.

The lady at the front desk was still chattering about something or other but I was done. I walked away to allow her to continue her ridiculous conversation alone. Rules shmules I giggled on the way to the car. When you are this sick and the only parent something has got to give a little.

My meds were a bit strong. I was waking up late if I took them at night. They completely knocked me out which prevented me from taking them during the day. So I had to skip taking them during the week which only allowed me to take them during the weekends. This is why it took so long to recover from my illness. When you are the only parent in the house it gets a little tough to stay on the normal schedule like school and work. There is no one else to back you up. I am not saying this only happens to Single Moms. Military wives are home alone taking care of everything much of the time as are women who’s husbands travel for work.

During my illness I did do a few good Mommy activities. Snow White did not miss one Brownie meeting, school activity or outing. I even managed to Trick or Treat with Snow White and a few of her friends. The cool air felt good on my steaming hot forehead. Everyone around me said it was actually pretty warm outside. One of the houses in the neighborhood put on a really great haunted house! Our little troop of Trick or Treaters were anxious to see this house until we were right in front of it. Snow White could not persuade her friends to join her inside so she and I went in alone. It was just spooky enough to get a good rise out of her and tickle her to bits. Even the big kids got in on some Halloween fun. No, they did not go out Trick or Treating. They had a teen function that started after Trick or Treating. The picture below was taken just after Snow White and I returned home when Trick or Treating ended. ManSon and his friends were just on their way out.

Hot Topic Chick, The Crow, Hermione, Faceless Hippie, Dog no likie Hippies

Snow White’s Brownie Troop had a badge ceremony and a Juliet Lowe party. Mrs. Lowe is the founder of Girl Guides in the UK and Girl Scouts in the US She was born on Halloween so many of the Girl Scout troops have a party on or around Halloween to celebrate her birthday. The ceremony was so cute. There was a little skit about what goes into making a Brownie then each of the new Brownies crawled out of an oven made of cardboard. After which they were presented with the badges, pins and patches they have earned up to date. After the ceremony and before the party started I asked her to let me hold on to her badges, pins and patches. She didn’t know what I was talking about. I explained “Let me hold on to what ever was given to you on the stage.” Her loud reply “I didn’t get anything on stage. I got SQUAT!” Then she ran off happily to decoupage her pumpkin with the other girls. The troop leader assured me it was a mistake she will rectify soon.

The girls and their families all seemed to have such a wonderful time. Each parent brought in some sort of food or party item which made a terrific super sweet banquet. All the tasty sugary goodness a child could imagine and then some. ManSon made three large batches of brownies and he even wanted to come along. He helped us set up the tables and took care of the heavy lifting. When it came time to decoupage the pumpkins he was the one who helped Snow White. I was a little taken aback and felt a bit jealous at first. Sort of “Hey, that’s my job.” You could tell he was truly enjoying his time with Snow White. This allowed me to help more with the party and take many photos.

I brought a veggie tray with ranch dip. After seeing all the yummy treats I thought for sure I would be taking home 98% of the veggies but I was wrong. The tray was filled 4 times and then….“Where are the veggies? Mrs. Momma didn’t you bring more?” Even ManSon was disappointed. By the time he made it through the food line there was only one carrot stick left. Snow White walked up next to him and gave him a great big smile. Jokingly he said “Go head. Take my one and only veggie.” Which she quickly grabbed then skipped off with her friends. All he could do was laugh.

We helped with Snow White’s Math Game project. It turned out fairly well considering I had a fever, she is only in 3rd grade and thank goodness for ManSon’s artistic ability. He painted the die and wooden box. His ideas were really clever. He painted the 1 on the die as a Pokeball and the box would have looked just like a Pokeball if it were round.

I hope to catch up with a few of you tonight and more of you this week.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Veteran's Day

Veteran’s Day

This is a photo of my Dad and his colleagues laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Monday, October 29, 2007

When A Single Mom Gets Sick

Hey, I am back. Not all better yet but getting there. What happened? Well, two Thursdays ago (Oct 18th) I woke up, made myself ready for work and Snow White ready for school. Just like any other week day.

When I arrived at my office I felt sluggish but quickly brushed it off as "You are just tired." An hour later the room seemed to move when I thought I was sitting perfectly still. I had an important meeting with my boss at 11 am and I was determined to make that meeting. Breathing started to become difficult but I thought "Don't worry, you just have a really bad cold. Worst case scenario you have the flu....but it is too early in the year for the flu!"

I kept telling myself to just make it through the morning until that meeting was over. After all, I work close to home and could run home to take a nap during my lunch hour. It might have been two hours after I arrived at work that my co-workers started making comments such as "You look horrible", "Are you ok?", "Maybe you should go home" or just plain running the other way when they saw me coming. I shook it off until my meeting when my boss, who really does not like me to take a sick day, took a few steps back and said "I think you need to go home. We don't want you to get everyone else sick."

After our meeting I literally saluted his Administrative Assistant and declared for all in ear shot to hear, "I am Going Home." I might have said it in a sing song fashion but I do not really remember. I don't even remember GOING home.

The next thing I remember was ManSon coming in my room to ask me what time I was going to pick up Snow White from Daycare. I woke up, put on my shoes and picked her up. Knowing I was feeling ill I decided not to cook, instead I did the McDonalds Drive Thru. I hate McDonalds food but my children think of it as a real treat and it was easy dinner for me. After all, I was sick and was not feeling up to eating anything. There is nothing wrong with McDonalds food. It is just not my preference. Anyway, it works out as a substitute when Mommy is not feeling well.

As soon as we were home I went straight back to bed. I woke up often coughing or in need of the bathroom when my body decided to violently extract something from one end or the other. ManSon took care of Snow White and made sure she went to bed when it was time. Around 7:30 am, during one of my bathroom calls, I called my boss to let him know I was still ill and would not make it in to work. I crawled back in to bed and went to sleep for a little while.

Thinking about how ill I was I sort of knew it would not be wise to drive any further than necessary. I decided it would be better to sleep for another hour and drive Snow White to school which was only two small blocks from our house rather than stay awake and drive all the way to the daycare center 7 minutes away. Seven minutes away may not seem like a great distance but the way I was feeling it was cross country traveling.

After dropping her off at school I return home, call the Dr to make a sick call appointment. They inform me I will be seen at 3pm so I slide back in to bed after setting my alarm clock for 2:30 pm.

At 2:15 pm ManSon comes in to check on me and I realize I went back to bed in my work clothes from YESTERDAY and I still have my shoes on. Oh well, at least I am ready for my appointment. I get up, brush my teeth and pull out a coat from the front closet. Um, it wasn't cold enough for a coat, it has been exceptionally warm for this time of year.... and it wasn't even MY OWN coat.

I arrive at the Drs office in yesterdays clothes, my teenage daughter's dress coat which she herself out grew a few years ago and a full box of Puffs Plus in my purse. Hey, you have to give me credit for actually bringing my purse.

When the Dr. saw me he mentioned the box of Puffs "It's never a good sign when a patient arrives with a whole box of tissues." They tested me for strep but it came back negative. The Dr. mentioned my lungs were clear which caught me totally off guard. How could they be clear when I was having so much trouble breathing? Apparently my tonsils were enlarged for no apparent reason and my entire throat was swollen!!

I was not processing this information I was just hearing it. When the nurse came in and said "Here are your prescriptions" all I thought of was "Here is your relief. You can sleep without the bathroom calling either end of your body. You will get better. You will live through this."

Then, I rushed to the grocery store across the street to fill my prescriptions. After looking over my credit card receipt from the Drs. office (apparently unable to count out the cash in my purse) and the receipt from the ATM at the grocery store it took me 30 minutes to make it across that street. While waiting on my prescriptions, I wondered around the grocery store picking up more Puffs and $50 worth of Progresso and Campbell’s soup (not an exaggeration). At one point I thought a man was checking me out. Later I realized he must have been staring at me wondering what type of hospital lab was minus this experiment.

I pick up my prescriptions, Snow White, more McDonalds then back to bed. The medication worked really well, just like the nurse said.

Saturday morning around 7 am Snow White was complaining of a sore throat. Oh No! Not that! How could I take care of a sick child while I was so very ill myself. So, what did I do? I called the Drs. office and made a sick call appointment for that morning. It is wonderful to have a Drs. office open on Saturdays! The nurse says she thinks it is strep. How much more wonderful could this weekend get? Their lab would be open on Monday so they would call us when they had the results.

Snow White started crying about a birthday party she was suppose to attend. She has been ready for this party for a week! We even had the presents wrapped and in the car for a few days in preparation. She had her pirate's costume in the car, which she checked daily to make sure she had everything she needed to be the pirate she wanted to dress up as for the party.

The out of state birthday party we both so wanted to go to...started like hours ago! I panic! How can we get there? Taxi? No it is out of state. Can I drive? I think I can drive. No. I cannot even stand up straight without the room shaking my feet and making me wobble all over the place. Franticly I dump everything out of my purse remembering I had put the invitation in there. I cannot find the freaking invitation! I know the Mom giving the party gave me her cell phone number so I must have written it on that invitation. I give up looking for the invitation and go to my computer. Maybe I have an email with the Mom's cell phone number.

I do not remember if it was an email or my computer address book which had her cell phone number but I did find it. I called her and she thought maybe I was lost somewhere in the state looking for the party. Sadly I had to explain we were sick and could not make it. I wished it was just as simple as we were lost and looking for directions. This Mom, her daughter and their entire family are people you just really, really want to be around. They are such a joy to be around it would have surely cured me by being there for just a few minutes. That is how wonderful they truly are. I am not sure what exactly I said during our phone conversation other than we are not lost and gifts will be mailed out.

Sunday, I spent all day in bed with my children checking in on me from time to time. I did eat some soup and I think I managed to take my prescriptions a few times during the day. Monday morning I went to work but still not feeling any better. Snow White went to school since she did not have a fever and we would not have the results back from the Drs. office. After lunch the Drs. office called to say she does not have strep. The sore throat and cough must have been the caused of post nasal drip. All that was required was cough syrup.

This is getting long so I will go for now. There are good things coming.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sick Leave

Sorry everyone. I have not been up to blogging over the past few days due to illness. Hopefully I will be back to normal tomorrow or Wednesday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shopping Marathon

Friday. Well, I cannot remember much from Friday other than we rushed here there and everywhere. It started at the crack of dawn rushing around the house to get ready for work and school. All day at work I rushed to get things done then waited for this and that to come back with important information.

During my lunch hour ManSon said "My wallet was stolen." Oh My Gosh! When? Where? What happened? "Well, it was at so and so's house." But that kid lives in another state. You haven't seen him since..."Yes. I know. Since May." Why are you...What do you mean..Are you pulling...Your Social Security Card? License? WHAT?! {deep breath} How is it that you waited this long to say something?

I make phone calls to the State License agency and Social Security Office. Apparently you need a utility bill in your name if you are over the age of 18. What the heck? What about college students? Surely there must be some college students at the local University who live with their parents so the parents can save some money. You also need a birth certificate and your Social Security Card. No surprise there. The list of items needed to identify you for your Social Security card is just one...a Doctors Note.. A birth certificate doesn't do a thing for you. Thank goodness a dentist note will do. ManSon has not been to a doctor in the last three years since he has not been injured or seriously ill (thank God).

After work I rush home, make dinner and a lot of rushing about to get things done around the house, homework and such. I was dead on feet by 10:30 pm but did not get to bed until much later.

Saturday morning we had a basic breakfast then it was off to the Post Office to pick up a certified package addressed to ManSon. We think it was the Cobra paper work from my employer. Unfortunately it was addressed to him so we could not pick it up due to ManSon having no ID.

After the Post Office we decided to go on a shopping spree for ManSon. He was in need of a whole new wardrobe. Really, this boy has specific taste. He becomes really attached to the clothes he buys and wont let them go until they are about to fall apart. Unfortunately, he has very good taste so it takes a very long, long time for them to wear out.

Another problem with purchasing clothing for ManSon is his size. He is 6 feet tall, has a 29 inch waist and likes about 2 inches of his pant cuffs to rest on the top of his shoes. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a pair of Man's dress slacks with a 29 inch waist? It is like finding a needle in a hay stack and I really truely mean that.

We went to the big mall which is nearly located in another state. We split up into groups to scour the stores for 29 inch dress pants. After three hours of blinding ourselves looking at every size of ever pair of pants in the two story mall we met up at the food court for a break. When I sat down I swear my muscels let out a huge sigh of relief. I had mannaged to find 3 pairs of imported dress slacks with a 30 inch waist. Hey, that beats out the rest who only found 34 inch waists. ManSon even tried on JEANS! He has never worn jeans in his intire life. I had to laugh at the thought of him wearing jeans. It would be like putting ice cream on pizza and not being pregnant. Well, I said to ManSon "You in jeans is like watching Escaflowne without subtitles." It is like nails scraping on a chalk board to hear Escaflowne in English. Weird.

Ok so we are all worn out. We take a 15 minute break and rush off to the one store which actually has pants ManSon size. He tries them on since they are imports and hip hurray they fit! ManSon looks over the jackets and swears one of them would be the coolest item he owns. Lucky for him the matching jackets are half price if you buy the pants. He was beside himself when I said we would take both of the jackets he liked. The pants were on sale for $75 each then bonus buy (purchase jacket) made them $45 each add on $64 for each jacket.

Oh my gosh Pup is whining at the moment. Snow White has her bedroom door shut so she can change her clothes. Pup is outside her door whimpering, howling and barking. He thinks she is going to bed without him.

Ok back to the shopping spree from this weekend. ManSon's girlfriend "Corkie" was part of our shopping possy. She dyes her hair different colors but seems to be down to earth with a strict mother. Really nice girl trying to figure out where she belongs with a mom who can reel her in. I could not be happier for the moment. She was very helpful with the shopping, quick to get tasks accomplished and a joy to be around.

While ManSon was trying on the pants she helped me look through the many, many long sleeved sweater shirts. ManSon wanted long sleeves with a collar but not dress shirts and goodness knows how he dislikes logos. We found one shirt in the whole store and it was a Men's Medium. In this particular brand the medium was a tad bit long but he really liked it so that was added to our purchase at that store. We still needed 4 more pairs of pants and a dozen shirts. By this time the stores were closing so we gave up for the did our legs.

Sunday afternoon we decided to tackle another mall and check out their stock. The same store that had his size pants but in a different mall. They had clothes ManSon really liked but way too big. "No one carries that size. It's just not done. " ManSon's response "In a world of obesity concerns no one stocks small sizes. Maybe I need to start eating those 'can my butt look any bigger' meals. We all laugh and walk away leaving the sales lady looking perplexed.

Snow Whtie was telling me about two cartoon theme songs she thought were the greatest. She really doesn't watch too much tv. I told her to ask her brother if he still has his Pokemon sound track from when he was in 2nd grade (remember ManSon is 19). He knew exactly where it was and handed it right over to her. He knew how excited she would be! I can hear Pokemon Master blasting in the background.

We finally went to Macy's and they HAVE mens' shirts in size Small!! We bought up a full lot of shirts but may have to go back when they replenish their stock. From now on we will shop at Bonton for pants and Macy's for all of ManSon's clothing.

So, after 9 hours of running (litterally) here and there for ManSon's wardrobe we made a dent in what he really needs to replace. Shoes...well he wants Vans but the shoe stores here do not sell Vans! Well, they sell the slip on multi color/deco Vans at the skater shops but not the Vans he has become acustome to. I see an out of state shopping expedition in a big city in our near future.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Few Updates ...

My car is finally all legal and mine! I have the registration and real honest to goodness tags to prove it. That all happened Friday around lunch time. Andrea from the dealership called to say Mr. Fix-it from the shop will be right over to deliver your registration and sticker. When Mr. Fix-it arrived at my work he said “I never get out of there for anything. Thanks for having them make me come out here. I really needed the break.” I respond ever so cheerfully “I am glad you are getting a break but it was the King of Stupid at the dealership who suggested my registration and sticker be delivered. I don’t think he wanted me back in his show room.”

Snow White is doing well with the Brownies. I had one minor incident where I almost smacked the Assistant Leader for saying something not so very nice in front of little Snow White. After a few days I got over it and the next meeting the Assistant Leader was all cheer and pep. Maybe the Troop Leader saw that I was about to attack and had a little chat with her. Anyway, we had a great time sewing, painting, and we watched synchronized swimming! I had no idea there were teams of synchronized swimmers out here in the country. From ages 6 to 60 some-things they really put on a great show.

Remember when I said how happy I was knowing I would never see Bunny again. Don’t you just hate it when your words come back to bite you in the tuckus? My little brother helps EVERYONE. He busts his butt to make sure everyone else has things easy. If there is the slight chance you might need help with something, anything, he is right there taking charge and making it easy on you. He never seems to need help with anything himself. Well, he called me and he needed a favor. Oh my goodness! He needed a favor. Whatever it was I knew right away I would do it!

I broke a house rule that I made. Nothing else that poops will be brought into our house. Snow White exclaims “Yeah, we have a Bunny rabbit!” She is honestly thrilled. This outburst creates a very opposite reaction in my nieces (11 & 13 yrs old). They not only cried, they sobbed and moaned loudly. I assured them we were not keeping their Bunny forever. It will most certainly be returned to them as soon as their new house is built. They even call to check up on him. My brother and sister-in-law assure me the girls lost interest in the Bunny a few years ago. Pretty much it is my sister-in-law’s Bunny as she takes care of it every day. I chop veggies for it in the morning and ManSon cleans out the cage 2-3 times a week. The cats take turns sitting next to the cage just watching it. Pup barks incisively while the cage is open during feeding time.

Gas went down to $2.65 for awhile. During that time I noticed some numbers on my grocery receipt. The cashier explained for every $50 I spend they will give me $0.10 off per gallon of gas at their gas station. Since I had no idea about the gas discount and I have teenagers my savings were substantial….$.090 off per gallon! How long ago was gas $1.75 per gallon?! I saved $16.00 on gas that day. It pays to have all those membership cards. I have a card for every hotel chain, grocery store, airline, airport parking facility, book store, music store, etc. So glad I can save so much on gas.

Monday, October 08, 2007

School Picture Day

Tomorrow is picture day at Snow White's school. For years and years I have worked 2 hours or more away from where we live. For years and years I have sent my children to school in what I deem their best possible outfits (sometimes to their great protest) with their hair neatly groomed and a clean face. A month or so later a package comes home with nearly 100 photos that do not look like the children I sent to school on picture day.

I swear they wait until after recess, gym with their hair all sorts of here and there. Better yet after lunch with blue pudding etched around their lips or spaghetti with matching stains on shirt. There must be a prize that out shines any lottery awarded to the photographer who captures the most awful photo of a child.

Anyway, I have had to deal with the pain of being a single mother who cannot take a full day off work to help my children realize the person taking the school photo only says "You look fantastic" is not actually looking at you but has 300 more children to photograph today and only wants you to take up the 2.5 seconds allowed per photo. They no longer give the children time to check themselves in the bathroom, class room window or even give them a comb any more.

You may think you are saved by not purchasing the school picture photo package but you would be sadly mistaken. That photo is the only way to preview the photo which will appear in the school year book. Yes, from pre-K to High School senior the photo taken on picture day is the one that will be distributed to every person in that school. It will also be kept as a record at the school for many years to come. That photo will never go away.

Last year after receiving yet another set of 'Ooops!' photos I opted to take a half day off for retakes. I had put up with "Ooops!" photos from time to time since ManSon was in kindergarten through 11th grade! I was there when she was in line. I was also brushing the hair of other students who had just been out at recess. I made sure her hair was brushed down (super curly needs some attention) and that year there was a really nice photo we did not have to explain away Blue super berry yogurt, recess of who can hang upside down the longest or why my hair has brambles and thistles that match the outline of the playground.

It is my goal tomorrow to be at her new school and supervise. I just looked at the weather forecast and it will be humid and rainy. Her extra curly hair will need extra attention. With all the stay at home moms here I am sure not to be standing there in the photographers line alone.

Impromptu Vacation

Saturday was like being on vacation but better.

I did not have to pack up the suit cases, fret over what could be the one item I forgot to pack. I did not have to sit through many renditions of the Sponge Bob Songs or hear “he’s touching my side of the seat” or “She’s looking at me again.”

No, all of this was avoided on my impromptu vacation day.

My normal Saturday goes like this…up at the crack of dawn. Feed all the animals so they do not trodden me to death in my bed. Prod children out of bed. Make a big breakfast. Fit in household cleaning chores in between all the rushing about here and there for my children. It has been this way for years and years.

This Saturday morning…I actually slept in! How was this possible? All of the children woke up at their normal time and made their own individual breakfasts. No pets came to jolt me out of bed. Apparently my children fed all the animals.

I lazily laid in bed awake but still enjoying the warm comfort of the heavy blanket in the coolness of the room. Then a telemarketer interrupted my bliss. I let them go with their spiel then said “Hey, thanks for the wake up call. Have a nice day.” It was then I noticed that my bedroom door was shut. It is always open so I do not have to get up 20 times in the middle of the night to let a crying cat or a fuzzy Pup in or out of my room.

I went to check on everyone. Snow White was battling in Majora’s Mask in the family room right outside my bedroom door. She turned the sound off so she would not disturb me. That really impressed me since it seems the sound is really important for playing a video game. ManSon was in his room looking through his books and Oldest Daughter was visiting friends.

All the animals were laying about like they didn’t have a care in the world. A few minutes later Snow White proclaimed she was bored with the video game. I reminded her about the book sets she has not yet read through. She went off to her room and I didn’t see her again until a few hours later.

I decided to dive into the Half Blood Prince which Oldest Daughter kindly lent to me. I had the whole day to lounge around and read. Which I did. The whole day long. I lingered over the book while I ate breakfast peacefully in the dinning room. Later on I lounged on the family room couch in complete comfort, just reading. I eventually ended up in the living room sitting in my favorite chair reading while one of the cats laid at my feet. During the day I would make a few stops in the kitchen for something to snack on or drink. Each time I saw one of my children reading a book and like me rotating from room to room. I like that we can spread out in the house and each have some time to ourselves.

When lunch time came we were each so engrossed in our own books we did not want to leave them. Lunch turned in to “When I’m hungry I will make a sandwich.” Dinner was the same way. No one was hungry at the same time and each insisted they would make their own dinner eventually. This was a really nice break for me!

We let our normal Saturday household chores go for the day since the house seemed pretty well clean already.

Saturday was perfect. I was feeling the great need to get away from it all and head out for a vacation some where. Turns out home is a pretty good place for a vacation.

Monday, October 01, 2007

What Color is a Death Bed?

This weekend, in between travels and house cleaning chores I sat down to watch 10 - 15 minutes of TV. I caught a few minutes of Forest Gump, Medium and a few other shows I cannot recall.

At one point Snow White came to sit next to me on the couch. In the show I was watching a young man just had a small accident and was in the hospital. He was fully awake but had a little boo boo on his head.

For some unknown reason Snow White asked “Is that a death bed?” I explained that the accident was very small but the hospital wanted to check him out just to be safe.

Later on while watching a show on Life Time (cannot remember the name) a little girl coming out of a coma was laying in a hospital bed. Snow White was suppose to be getting ready for bed but she popped down to snuggle up next to me on the couch. “Is THAT a death bed?”

“Honey, what is with this fixation you have about death beds?”
The puppy dog eyes and super-sad-about-to-let-out-river-of-tears frown came. With her voice quiverying she said “Mommy. I just want to know what it looks like. I don’t want to accidentally sleep in one.”

I hug her and I burst into laughter. Not just a little giggle but a full hearty laugh. “Honey, those are hospital beds. People go to hospitals to get better. A death bed is when someone is very ill and they know they are dying.”

“Why do they call it a death bed? Why do they have to be laying down in a bed?”

“Well, I rarely see old people who know they are about to die out doing jumping jacks and cartwheels. {she laughs thinking about this} “They are too tired for all of that. They are laying down because it is almost time to go to heaven and their bodies are tired.”

This seemed to satisfy her.