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.