Friday, December 29, 2006

Oh, the possibilities!

It's here.

My new desk calendar.

It came in yesterday.

Everyone else got theirs a couple of weeks ago, but for some reason, Shirley forgot to order mine.

Look at it. Clean. Uncluttered. Full of possibilities.

Sometimes I wish my life was still like that, like when I was younger - clean, uncluttered, and full of possibilities.

See how fast a calendar can go to "possibilities" to "realities?"

Our lives are the same way.

One minute, you're graduating from high school, or college, or getting married, or in the middle of insert-your-favorite-life-change-here.

The next minute you've made your choices, and you're living with those consequences - both good and bad.

I sometimes get a little blue when I read wedding announcements. Ironic, since it used to be my job to put those things in the paper!

I look at the happy couple, and read what they have accomplished so far: graduating from school, or about to; working their first job, or going to grad school; moving into their first home.

You know, Jason and I never had a wedding announcement. I never got around to submitting one to my local paper, and, well, Jason didn't really care about putting one in Augusta's paper.

I guess if we had, it would've sounded pretty great: we were college graduates, and he had a job at a church, and I was ready to take on the world.

Our reality was much, much different. The first six months, we survived on prayer and $250 a week. We had LOTS of credit card debt, because no one taught us about those things before we went to college. I couldn't find a job to save my life. If it hadn't been for help from some kind souls at church, I'm sure we would've been living with my mother-in-law by Christmas *shudder*.

I suppose those young couples could be in the same boat. I mean, you can make almost anything sound the way you want in print! The people reading the announcements don't follow you home to see if you make something of your life.

This year, let's make our possibilities into our realities. (Boy, some motivational speaker should be paying me big bucks!) Let's take this blank-slate of a calendar, and fill it with good things. Let's be at a different, better place in our lives this time next year.

Even if you're one of those whose life is perfect now (and if you are, I'd like to hang out with you for a day or two and see how you do it!) I think we can all find parts of our world where the possibilities don't match the realities.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Ta dah!

As promised, my Very Special Present.

(Sorry for the not-so-great picture. I took it this morning on my way out the door.)

I got it Tuesday. Jason brought it home, and I came in from work to find it smack dab in the middle of the kitchen where he'd assembled it. Thanks hon!

I really, really like it. It's got a counter that tells you how far, how fast, and how many minutes you've gone, along with how many calories you've burned. I really don't trust that last measure, but the others are all good.

And when the commercials say it's a total body workout, they aren't kidding! I've done a mile a day on it for the past three days, and I can really feel it all over. That's why I chose it over the recumbent bike I was considering, because I didn't think the bike would give me the upper-body workout I needed. I only have a short space of time to work out (I'm so important and pressed for time, you know) so I needed to maximize every minute.

Anna Marie loves it too. I'm not sure how safe it is for her to get on it, but she just kind of swings back and forth a little. I told her she could only get on if I was in the room to watch her.

I hate having it in the middle of the living room, but I don't really have any other place for it. I'd put it in my room, but the bed takes up most of the space. Also, I don't have to worry about disturbing Jason if he's got an early day and has already gone to bed.

Guess it's a good thing I got exercise equipment for Christmas, since I did gain that pound!

My mom is going to get the Ab Lounge. I told her we can switch up - she can come over and do the Gazelle (once her foot heals - she had another surgery yesterday) and I can go to her house to get on the Ab Lounge. Perfect!

I'm really hoping I can keep up my exercise streak. Wish me luck!

P.S. - I'm so (as Anna Marie would say) insighted - we get off at noon again today! Yippee!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh In

Well, I didn't get through the holidays completely unscathed, but I didn't do as much damage as one might have thought.

I gained one pound (bringing me back up to 171) but surprisingly, I'm not upset about it. I suppose it could've been much worse.

But, onward and downward. So to speak. I got a very special present for Christmas (actually the day after) that I'll tell you about later. Perhaps it will help me to get back on track!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Feliz Navidad!

Wow, my sister is so amazing. All I had to do was make a semi-blatant comment that she hadn't gotten me the pictures, and POOF! There they were.

(Along with a shameless plug for her Amanda Goes to England blog. Go to the comments on the Boxing Day post, and follow the link from there. And leave her some comments - she won't think you're weird or anything.)

So, without further ado:

We had a candlight service Sunday night, and afterwards went to mom's house. We ate until the world looked level (well, I mostly had raw veggies, and had a sloppy joe, but that's another matter) and had a great time remembering the holidays when we were kids. Eventually, we got to Anna Marie's favorite part: the presents.

Since mom is still pretty much chair-bound, I took over the job of official present hander-outer.

One of the best parts of the evening was the Christmas crakers. No, silly, not small pieces of dough made to look like ornaments. You know, those things you pull, and they explode, and you get a tissue paper crown, some small trinket of a toy, and some jokes for your trouble.

Here is the official Raney-Turner-Thompson Christmas Cracker Photo:

From left: Dad, my sister-in-law Lindsey, my brother Jeremy, Aunt Debi, Anna Marie, Amanda, and Jason.

Festive, no?

We had lots of fun. Dad had the job of sitting in a corner, having his picture made with random family members.

Like my Aunt Debi.

And me!

(Dude, those are some SERIOUS bags under my eyes!)

And here is a close-up picture of Lindsey and Jeremy. Even though they live in the same town we do, we don't get to see them very often.

And yeah, we did actually get a picture of mom too, this time with Aunt Debi.

We went back home, finished lighting our Advent candles, and went to bed. Thankfully, Anna Marie didn't get up until about 8 a.m. I guess she was tuckered out from the celebrations of the night before.

We opened our presents to ourselves, and got our stockings. My favorite present was a circle pendant that Jason got me from QVC. Anna Marie's favorite, hands down, was the Dora scooter my mother-in-law sent back with us at Thanksgiving. She's basically not gotten off of that thing since yesterday morning, and has ridden it all over our hardwood floors.

My family came over for lunch yesterday, and we had a smoked pork shoulder (yes, we're from Memphis, and we had barbeque for Christmas dinner) along with some leftover turkey and dressing from the auction. Oh, and my aunt made her ex-mother-in-law's fruit salad, and that stuff is addictive, my friend.

So we had a good Christmas, right up until the part where Jason couldn't find the keys to our extra car, and we spent an hour and a half looking for them, and the evening disentigrated into a pretty nasty argument.

Yeah, good stuff.

Turns out the keys had fallen into a gift bag we'd taken to mom's. Wish I'd have known that before I went to the trashcan (already at the curb for today's pickup) and got the bag out with the wrapping paper, and dumped the whole thing out onto my kitchen floor, just to be sure that we hadn't accidentally thrown the keys away.

All's well that ends well, I suppose.

Happy Boxing Day!

Yeah, I know - I didn't post a "Merry Christmas" yesterday. I'm waiting on my Official Photographer, Amanda, to come up off the pictures.

(I'd better be nice to her. She's babysitting the little one today.)

Anyhoo, I thought that whilst I was awaiting the Official Christmas Snapshots, I'd wish everyone a Happy Boxing Day.

What's that? You don't know what Boxing Day is? Let me put on my slightly-snooty-hey-my-sister's-been-to-England-so-I-know-lots-of-British-stuff hat and fill you in.

According to Wikipedia (what did we ever do without THAT?), Boxing Day is a public holiday, celebrated on the day after Christmas, in the British Commonwealth.

"Boxing Day in the UK is traditionally a day for sporting activity, originally fox hunting, but in modern times football and horse racing," so says the Wiki.

There are lots of different theories as to the origins of Boxing Day, from employees taking boxes to their jobs into which their employers would place money (oh, heck yeah!) to churches giving the money out of the collections box to the disadvantaged on the day after Christmas.

I don't know how we'd celebrate Boxing Day here in the US, but traditionally, it seems that people here go to the after Christmas sales and stock up on decorations and gifts, and they promptly forget where they hide them, and then they have to go back next October and buy up all new stuff again.

And then, on Christmas Eve, like at my house, someone's mother is scratching her head saying, "I know I bought you another present. Where did I put it?

Man, that's the worst, especially when you're a kid! A mythical present! It could be anything - a race car, a pony, or an Old Navy gift card that everyone else in the family got except you.

And I'm not kidding on that last part.

So, anyway, happy Boxing Day. Whether you celebrate by playing football (or, as we Yanks call it, soccer) or by elbowing people in line at Target to get your hands on some half price Choxie, have a great day!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Clean and tidy

Well, mostly anyway.

We've worked hard all afternoon on our house, making sure everything (with the exception of Jason's office!) is presentable. I thought we were going to have Christmas Day over here, but Amanda mentioned everyone coming over tomorrow night as well. Whatever - we'll just go with the flow!

Thursday night we realized that the top third of our (brand new, prelit) tree was not lighting! Well, Friday night Jason went to the local Big Box Retailer for a light tester. Apparently it was too sensitive, so we took it back today. It's replacement was one recommended by the consumer reporter from one of our local TV stations. It worked perfectly, and we found the offending (and not blown, just loose) bulb.

Let there be light, indeed.

I can scarcely believe that tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Although, since I've been out in all the hubub the last few days, it should not come as a surprise! We're having a candle light service tomorrow night, which I was charged with writing. Then, we'll probably go to Mom's and open presents. We'll leave some here, like the ones we bought, to be opened Monday morning. I told one of my coworkers that I didn't want Anna Marie to be completely overwhelmed, and he said that was kinda the point.

Not really. Especially when you're trying to teach a young child to appreciate all the gifts she has been given - both the tangible and the intangible.

I pray you all have the most wonderful, blessed Christmas season you've ever experienced. Thank you so much for listening to me ramble on during the past year, and for even posting comments to let me know you're there.

Oh, and say a little prayer for Valerie over at Random Thoughts and her husband (and furbaby) - they're a little under the weather, and they're planning an airplane ride for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Yes, it's Friday, not Thursday.

I was too tired to post anything last night.

I'm still holding steady at 170. I know that I should still be losing, but it's the holidays, and I'll admit it - I'm not staying within my points range every day.

(There. I said it.)

So, maintaining it is. Not going to be upset about that, nosiree!

We're having our office Christmas breakfast (complete with gift swap!) and then I get off at noon.

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ghosts of Christmas past

I found these pictures recently.

WARNING: Viewing these photos may not be pleasant. I'm going to show them anyway.

This is the first year we took a Christmas card picture, when Anna Marie was about 14 months old. We'd just moved from South Carolina to Mississippi, and this was taken in front of a huge tree in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

Note: we couldn't get the paci out of her mouth long enough to take a picture. Bad, bad parents that we were. And those were the only pacis she would take, making it difficult to replace them when she inevitably bit the nipples.

(Man, I should get lots of Google hits with those last few words! Score!)

This is the next year, in front of a tree at Peabody Place Mall.

Note the "French Whore" style of makeup I employed at the time. Why did no one point out the amazing amount of blush on my cheeks?

(Ooh, another Google hit spectacular!)

christmas pic

And of course, this year's model.

We did take a picture for Christmas 2004, but I couldn't find a copy. And last year was the infamous waiting-on-the-DirecTV-Man-to-show-up-with-the-DVR year. No picture, no cards.

So I'll leave you with a story from this afternoon.

I was traveling down a main road in our town, which is actually a state highway, on my way back to work after running errands at lunch. There is a car dealership next to a stoplight on said road.

When I was stopped by the light, in my Amazing Technicolor Dream Van, I noticed someone in front of the dealership waving me down.

Thinkin he might be in distress, I rolled down my window.

Car Guy: Hey, aren't you ready to trade? (Motioning to the $30,000 vehicles behind him).

Me: No, not today.

Car Guy (Obviously eyeing my 11-year-old, multi-colored van) Are you sure?

Me: I don't think my husband would be too happy if I did that.

Car Guy: I think he would.

Me: No thanks!

Car Guy: Merry Christmas.

Thankfully, the light turned. What would Jason have done if I'd taken a long lunch, and he came home to a new car in the driveway? A new car we really, truly can't afford the payment on?

I don't know, and I don't want to know. I just know what I'd do if he'd done the same thing, and I think it's in everyone's best interest that this car deal doesn't go through.

Merry Christmas, Car Guy. I just saved you from the Wrath of Jason. You can thank me later.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Grizzlies lose again!

Man, this is just NOT their year.

Friday night, Amanda, Anna Marie, and I met Amanda's friend Kelly in Memphis for a Grizzlies game. We were super stoked, because it marked the return of Amanda's favorite player, Pau Gasol, after an injury over the summer.

You should've heard the (not so jam-packed) crowd at the FedEx Forum when the announcer said his name during the introductions. They went wild!

Although we had stopped for dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Anna Marie started saying she was hungry before the game even started. I'm trying to get her to understand the difference between true hunger and, say, smelling the barbeque plate the guy two rows in front of you is eating.

I put her off until the end of the first quarter, to give her time to really see if she was hungry, and we went downstairs for some grub.

(Did I mention we were on row "V"? MUCH better than our last seats on row "Y.")

I figured the best bang for my buck would be a soft pretzel, which we could share and which would also serve to fill her up with its carb-y goodness. I got it without salt, because I figure they have to brush it with extra butter to get the salt to stick.

I dropped nearly a whole "Hamilton" ($10 bill) on the pretzel and a drink! At least the cup was the big 32 oz. souvenier cup, which is reusable, and which I got without ice so as to have more drink for us to share.

Amanda also wanted some hot chocolate, so I went down the escalator to get that too. Somehow, we made it back up the escalator with our pretzel, diet pepsi, and hot chocolate, and spilled nary a drop.

This is what Anna Marie did with her portion of the pretzel, which, by the way, did serve to fill her up so that she didn't get hungry for the rest of the game:

(Oh, this wasn't the only part of the pretzel she ate. In fact, I asked her to hold it and she had eaten about a third of the thing before we made it back to our seats.)

It was a good game. Even though we got the first basket, we pretty much trailed the rest of the night. The closest we got to Atlanta was four points down.

During the last quarter of the game, they had the "Gibson Air Guitar Contest." We couldn't get Anna Marie to play the air guitar, even after extensive lessons from us, but she did dance her little rear off. She even got so hot, she shed her Grizzlies hoodie. She is the queen of twirling several stories up.

During halftime, we went downstairs and walked around, and I went into the Grizzlies Den (team store) to get a window cling for my van. I think it's the first time Anna Marie has ever gone to a game and not come out with something from that store, but I told her it was too close to Christmas.

When we got back to our cars, we spotted a wallet on the ground next to a car. While we were pondering what to do, a police car appeared and we flagged him down. We gave him the wallet, which he figured out went to the owner of the car we found it next to. He took it, and put a note under the guy's windsheild telling him where to pick it up. I guess we did our good deed for the night.

As we were leaving the Forum, I took this picture. I always laugh at the restroom signs in the building, and I think you could find these only in Memphis:

Rock on, baby.

Friday, December 15, 2006

From Valerie

Just for fun on a Friday...
4 jobs I've had:
Fast food worker, daycare worker, retail worker, and newspaper reporter. (Just four? It was hard to narrow the list!)

4 movies I could watch over and over:
Ferris Bueller, What About Bob, A Christmas Story, Shrek

4 places I have lived:
Memphis, TN, Horn Lake, MS, Franklin Springs, GA, North Augusta, SC

4 TV shows I love:
Ugly Betty, CSI Miami, Modern Marvels (on the History Channel), Good Eats

4 places I have been on a vacation:
Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Tennessee

4 favorite foods:
Chocolate, Mexican, pasta, peanut butter

4 places I would love to visit:
Montana, Colorado, California, Washington State

4 Living Women I Admire:
If I name names, someone's going to get left out!

4 Favorite Actors:
Johnny Depp, James Spader, Jamie Foxx (loved him in Ray), Christian Bale

4 Concerts I Have Attended:
Hmm - haven't been to many lately, but in college, we went to see Newsong A LOT. Cheesy, I know, but their concerts were within driving distance, and usually just required a small donation at the door.

Anyone else want to play?

Run, run as fast as you can!

(I was tempted to name this post "The Best Little Gingerbread House in Mississippi," but I didn't want to offend anyone.)

We made our first gingerbread house last night!

And yes, I said "made," because although I didn't bake any of the components, I did labor intensively in the construction phase.

Christmas with Anna Marie has been great. Every little thing makes her, as she says, "So insighted."

This was no exception. I told Jason to tell her that if she cleaned her room yesterday we'd put this together last night.

The place could've passed military inspection. It was spotless.

She was waiting when I got out of the school board meeting.

Here is our pictoral essay, "The Turners Make a Gingerbread House."

See, these kits are great! They give you everything you need to make a gingerbread house that Hansel and Gretel would enjoy nibbling on.

Her "insightment" over the house was eclipsed only by her enthrallment over this, her latest Happy Meal toy. I don't understand! It's an odd thing with a nose that lights up!

Ok, so the pieces had these indentations to help guide where you put the frosting. Idiot proof, right? Wrong! I think I put the roof on upside down, causing me to have to "freestyle" the shingles. Not a good thing.

I'm not exactly sure that sprinkles on icing make the best paving material, but that's what the box picture had, so that's the direction we took.

See, I couldn't even get her to take her eyes off the toy for long enough to smile at the camera properly. Oh yes, I know it's a pitiful picture of the house, but I lack the common-sense photography skills that my sister is blessed with (as in, I was too close so it's slightly out of focus and the flash bounced off all that white.)

There you have it. The first Turner construction project. I declare it a success, and a yearly tradition.

My Papaw Coley, the carpenter/farmer/preacher, would be proud.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Oy vey! What a day! At least my weigh-in went well.

I didn't lose any, but I didn't gain either.

Holding steady at 170.

I'll take that, especially this time of year!

One problem: WW decided to "overhaul" their plan, and I got new materials tonight, but I couldn't stay for the whole meeting because the school board is meeting again tonight.

Well, I don't know if it's a problem or not, since I really haven't looked over the stuff. And besides, if it ain't broke, don't fix it - I may just keep doing things like I was, since I am getting results.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Especially for Amanda

I'm not a big "Mr. Meaty" fan, but they've been showing this commercial on Nick and Anna Marie thinks it's hilarious.

And she thinks it's even more hilarious to sing it to her (vegetarian) Aunt Manda.

(Man, I LOVE You Tube!)


That's what the last couple of days have been.

An (almost) wipeout.

(Speaking of which - does anyone remember the 80's rap group The Fat Boys? They had a song called "Wipeout" they did with the Beach Boys, and I had a copy of it when I was in middle school. The lyrics started going through my head for no apparent reason yesterday morning when I was loading the dishwasher.)

We're still having computer problems. Yesterday I had to work in spurts, putting together my Hokey Christmas Greetings Section a bit at a time. I again spent most of the day with two of my coworkers, getting to know one another better, while our poor classifieds/IT/whatever needs done around here guy, Travis, worked on our problem.

He stayed on the phone to our DSL company's tech support until 7 p.m. last night, and got most of our problems fixed.

However, today, none of us can print. We're hooked up wirelessly to one main printer, and all that comes out for us is pages and pages of gibberish.

The solution we've come up with: make a PDF of whatever we need to print, and then print from Acrobat. Seems the only program having a problem is Quark.

Our "official IT guy" hasn't returned our calls today. He's a couple hundred miles away in Jackson, and we aren't supposed to call him into the office (per our publisher) unless there's a real emergency.

I think this qualifies.

At any rate, I got my pages finished (still waiting on a couple of last minute ads) on the greetings section. And now I can start to worry about the next two days, wherein I have to do all the stuff I haven't been able to do the last three days.

At least our publisher is in Atlanta, and won't be breathing down my back Friday.

Thank God for small miracles.

(Hey, did I mention that it's 70 degrees here? In December? Crazy mid-south weather!)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Insert picture of a halo here.

Because, when I tried to find one online, all I got was 3,469,439,458,327 pictures of some dumb video game and some poor people in traction.


I have to be on-task today. I have much to do!

And I have little sleep to do it on.

I told myself last night, "Self, you're going to bed at a decent hour. Like, maybe, right after you put Anna Marie to bed. She's had a cold, and you're tired and not feeling so hot yourself, so Self, you need to rest!"

But, I forgot it's almost Christmas. And I had cards to address. And a calendar to finish for my mother-in-law.

Double GAH!

So I stayed up too late. And then, instead of waking up when Jason left (which would've made more sense) I woke up about an hour later - 3:30 a.m. - and had a hard time getting back to sleep.

When my alarm went off at 6:30, it was dark outside, so I got up to check another clock to see if maybe Jason had accidentally reset the time, and it was really 5:30, and I could lay in bed another hour.

No such luck. It's just raining outside.

And yesterday at work was pretty much a wash, because we had internet problems and server problems, and well, all my pages live on the server, so if I can't get to the server, I can't work. Savvy?

Oh, and because the server is next to my computer, every time the server had to be worked on, I couldn't even get to my machine to do anything even remotely productive. I spent the whole day walking around the office, reading the papers.

And I have a really hokey "Christmas Greetings" section to get out this week, in addition to my regular work.

Triple GAH!

So I'll leave you now.


Time on task people, time on task!

Friday, December 08, 2006

This one is for Jolene

So, Jolene (over there at Jolene George, I'm too lazy to give you the hyperlink) had this tag post. And she didn't officially tag anyone, but just put it out there to the general blogging world.

So now that I'm past my "attitude-of-gratitude" and "Official Thursday Weigh-In" posts, (and my boss has left for the day!) here are my answers:

A - Available or single: See answer B

B - Best Friend: My husband

C - Pie!

D - Drink of choice: Coke Zero, or water with lemon.

E - Essential Item(s) you use everyday: computer, cell phone, contact lenses

F - Favorite color: Blue, preferably dark

G - Gummy Bears or worms: gummy bears

H - Hometown: Born in Memphis, TN.

I - Indulgence: Dove Dark Chocolate

J - January or February: Neither. I'm SO over being cold by then.

K - Kids & Names: Anna Marie, and my big kid Jason!

L - Life is Incomplete Without? My faith, my family, and my friends

M - Marriage Date: July 11, 1998

N - Number of Siblings: 3: sister Amanda and twin brothers Jeremy and Jonathan

O - Oranges or Apples: Apples, and make them Granny Smith, please.

P - Phobias or Fears: Buggy wuggies

Q - Fave Quote: It's really not that you can't see the forest for the trees, you've never been out in the woods alone.

R - Reason to Smile: my family, service to others, blogging buddies, a beautiful day!

S - Season: Summer!

T - Tag 3 or 4 people: Tag yourself!

U - Unknown Fact about Me: Hmm. If I could, I would've been a perpetual student. I loved school that much!

V - Vegetable You Don't Like: I can't think of a single veggie I don't like!

W - Worst Habit: Procrastination

X - Xrays: Ankle, teeth

Y - Your Fave Food: Peanut butter!

Z - Zodiac Sign: Leo, but I don't really read my horoscope.

And that's all there is to it. If you haven't answered this tag yet, here's your chance!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Official Thursday Weigh-In

Drumroll please:

Last week: 172
This week: 170

"Released": 2 lbs.

Total: 67 lbs!


Now, I have to go cover a school board meeting, but boy, am I happy!

Today, my heart is full…

Of gratitude.

It's cold here. Really, really cold. The weather guys call it the "Arctic Express."

Up until today, I hadn't bought Anna Marie a coat yet. I'm not neglegent, but it's just now really getting cold. She has a long, fleece coat that was a hand-me-down, and that has done her up until now.

We were out for lunch, and decided to stop into our local Super Walmart. Because, what better place to waste the last half hour of your lunch break? I can't think of one.

When we got out of the Jeep, it was apparent that the fleece coat was not doing the job in the icy, icy wind. My baby was cold.

I had looked around for coats - mostly at my favorite consignment shop, Jack n' Jill's. That's where most of her clothes have come from this season, and last year I got her a really nice coat for $5.

Yep, just five bucks. Dude!

No such luck this year. I was beginning to wonder what I was going to do, and I was putting the decision off.

Well, today, I could put it off no longer.

We walked into the store, and Amanda suggested that we look for the poor kid a coat. At first I balked, saying "They're all like $20! I don't want to spend $20 for a coat she's only going to wear this year!"

(Gah! I sound like such a Scrooge! "No, honey, you aren't cold. Just shiver a little more, and your body should be fine!")

Then you know what I realized? I had $20 to spend on a coat for my kid.

Rather than hold out trying to find a cheaper coat, I could just buy her a coat. Right then. She could exit that store warmer than she entered.

What a humbling thought, that I could supply such a major need for my daughter so simply and so immediately.

It goes back to my mindset - I'm not as broke as I used to be. Especially not this year, because I've done some side jobs for a friend of mine and made some extra cash - enough to put tires on my van, and hoses, and, well, buy my kid a coat.

I felt so thankful, and awful at the same time. What do parents do who really can't spend $20 or $30 for a coat for their child? Or who have several children? Especially with Walmart doing away with layaway, what then?

I almost burst into tears in the middle of a Big Box Retailer.

I wished right there that I could mount some kind of campaign to make sure every kid in Tate County had a warm coat for winter.

We found her not just a coat, but a four-in-one coat. She'd had one of these when she was two, and it worked out really well. Our weather is so wonky around here, one needs several forms of outerwear to be comfortable.

The best part was, it was on sale! It was down to $18 from $24!

Ok, maybe not. Maybe the best part was when I put it on her as we left the store and she was warm.

Yeah, that was definitely the best part.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I love a parade!

Well, I don't love it that much, but I have a small child.

And she LOVES parades.

Her favorite part is the marching bands.

Last night, we had our annual Christmas parade in Senatobia. Why they can't have it during the day, I'll never know. I'll also never know why the weather can be sunny and 65 degrees in the days leading up to the event, but that night, it turns blue cold.

We're talking 25 degrees here, folks.

Last year, I didn't even take Little AM. She spent the night with my mom, way out in the county, where she didn't even know there was a parade.

I stood on a street corner for two hours, freezing both myself and my camera, to get pictures that didn't come out anyway.

This year, I had a plan. My general manager doesn't seem real happy with it, but my publisher told me to.

I went to the parking lot where the floats were setting up about 4:30, before it got dark. I got a picture of a group and their float.

I then went to cover the county school board meeting, which had been moved up to 5:00 p.m. so that board members could get out before Main Street was blocked off.

It didn't let out until 7:15. I had to take a back road and park at the bank next door to my office so I could walk over and clock out.

I really, really didn't want to have to get back out, but our house backs up to the businesses on Main Street - it isn't like I could pretend that there was no parade going on in our backyard. Besides, she was ready to go when I got there.

I made myself a PB&J and we set out to find a parking space. Call me soft, but I was not leaving the confines of my van. We'd be cold, but at least the wind would be off of us and we could crank up occasionally and get some heat going. Plus, I wouldn't have to worry about an excited five-year-old running out into the street.

I got lucky - even though it was close to 7:30 when we left the house, and the parade started at 7:00, we found a spot - at an intersection around the corner from my house. We were allowed to park in the middle of the street, because, well, Main Street was blocked and no one was going to be coming through anyway.

The parade was just about to get to our section, so we didn't have to wait long.

Anna Marie kept making these odd, giggly noises. I asked her if she was OK, and she just kept telling me how excited she was.

It lasted about an hour, and then I got out into traffic and found a place to turn around at a red light. We were cold. We were tired. But at least one of us was happy!

Like I said - there was no use in my trying to take the pictures anyway - my shutter gets sluggish in the cold, and it's too dark to get pictures of floats in the dark. Plus, I have a little point-and-shoot, and my flash is absolutely useless.

So I had to endure the disappointment of my GM, when she knows good and well that in the four years I've been working here we've never had a picture of the first place float to go on the front page.

There is another parade in our county tonight, and the GM says she's going to try to take pictures. I can't go, because I have another board meeting to cover.

*and 10 points to whoever can tell me where that song "I Love a Parade" comes from. I have no idea, but it's been circling through my head today.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

MIA no longer

Betcha thought I went to Georgia again.

Nope! (Thank God!)

I've been doing this:

tree pic

(It looks better in person. I didn't do all those neat things that Jolene suggested - I was trying to be quick and easy. Maybe I'll do a better one later!)

The best thing about this tree: it's pre-lit. And, all the presents underneath are segregated according to color, thanks to Little AM.

I did that Thursday night. Then Friday night, I did a little more (garlands, etc.) We still haven't gotten our outdoor lights up, and I suspect they won't go up until at least Wednesday, unless Jason gets a wild hare and does them in the morning.

Yesterday morning, we attended a waffle breakfast sponsored by our local Optimist Club. One of my co-workers is the president of the local chapter, so we go to a good bit of their stuff. It was good - but I limited myself to one waffle (the big, fluffy kind). Jason, on the other hand, ate FOUR. And bacon. They had a Santa there, but Anna Marie didn't want to talk to him. We decided not to push the issue.

(I guess all that not-making-a-big-deal-about-Santa stuff is taking hold.)

Last night, I attended a birthday dinner for my aunt's mother-in-law. It was at a Mexican restaurant, and it was muy delicioso. My aunt got a picture of Anna Marie and her granddaughter Savannah (both wearing their glasses) and I suppose I'll post it when she emails it to me.

Yes, I had my camera, but we played "musical chairs" so Savannah could sit by Anna Marie, and I didn't know where my purse was for a spell.

And then today, we went to take our Christmas card picture. Anna Marie doesn't look forward to these photo shoots, and asked me if we could just draw pictures instead!

Silly, silly child.

If I were as talented as my scrapbooking friends, well, I'd be making my cards. However, a clever picture is about all I have time for these days.

We traveled to the auction where Jason works, because they have a big tree in the middle of a big lobby. Amanda was gracious enough to spend her afternoon snapping the shots.

Here is the traditional family picture I considered:

christmas pic

And I actually spent some time Photoshopping the area next to Jason's head, because the tree was too narrow that high up and you could see the floor behind us. We were on a staircase that was blocked at the bottom by the tree, and Amanda was above us.

But, this is the picture I ended up going with:

christmas 2

Not very traditional. You basically can't see me at all.

But you know what? I think it conveys both how we feel about each other and how we feel about the season.

They're coming from Sam's. Jason will be able to pick them up in a few days, and then comes the fun part - trying to located addresses, because we never keep a list from year to year.