Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One-stop shopping

Let me tell you about my one-stop shopping family.

We have preachers, teachers, singers, and musicians, and we know how to put them to good use.

Yesterday, we went to my uncle's funeral. The visitation was the two hours before the service, because my cousins felt that it was best to do the whole thing at one time and get it over with.

Can you tell they're both male?

Anyway - we got to the funeral home, and the person who was supposed to conduct the service never showed up. He had been the pastor at the church where my uncle attended for several years (before his health made it difficult for him to attend) but had since resigned his church in a blaze of scandal.

So, we Coleys (that's my mom's maiden name, and thus my uncle's last name) pulled ourselves up by the proverbial bootstraps, and in 20 minutes had put together a fitting memorial.

My oldest aunt is a preacher, so she did the service. My mom played the piano (which the other man was supposed to have done too) and she, along with two other siblings, sang several songs that they had sung together in church while they were growing up.

My mom helped write the obituary, and the only surviving brother read it.

After my aunt's impassioned funeral sermon (she's one of those fiery types) my mom got up to say a few words. Out of the 10 children in that family, she, her sister just younger, and this brother were the closest. There was probably a six-year span between the three of them.

She talked about how they were termed the "three termites" by someone, and how they always got into trouble together. She told how that my uncle would come up with these grand schemes, and, somehow, she and the younger sister wound up doing most of the work.

Because my uncle was the only one in their group allowed to wear pants, they always tried to figure out where to put him when the time came to line up for a dose of my Papaw's 'shillelagh' (as he called whatever he was spanking them with.) Did they put him at the front of the line, so Papaw would get worn out by the time he reached the girls? Or did they put him at the end, in the event that as their dad went along he got more and more worked up and spanked harder and harder?

I don't think they ever figured out the answer.

She told how that they'd dreamed up a "distress call" and that he'd used it once, only nothing was really wrong, and they couldn't figure out where in the world he was whistling from.

My uncle loved a good story, and he had a terrific sense of humor. If the day hadn't been in his honor, he would've thoroughly enjoyed the service.

The whole storytelling type of eulogy is somewhat unusual for our family, but I'm glad my mom did it - my cousins needed to remember that before their dad got sick, before he led such a hard life, and brought them with them on his journey, that he was just a kid who roamed the streets of North Memphis with his sisters, seeing what kind of mischief they could get into.

My uncle was one of a kind. He'd had a T-shirt made somewhere that said "Coley University" and told his sons he wanted to be buried in it - and he was. T-shirt and blue jeans and all. Just like he would've liked.

(I'm sure he would've liked a pot of beans in there with him too, since he never thought he'd had a meal unless beans were involved, but that would've taken things a bit far.)

He would've loved hearing his little sisters and big brother sing again. He would've laughed at the stories, and interjected some tales of his own.

Out of all the deaths in my family, we got to have a funeral that, at least to Amanda and me, fit the personality of the person being buried.

Each of us can only hope for as much when it's our turn to exit this life.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Please take care of yourself

I implore all of you out there in blog-land: please, make a commitment to yourself, and to your family, to take better care of yourself.

I'm off work today, because I'm getting ready to attend yet another family funeral.

The second in two weeks.

Thursday night, we'd gone to my cousin's house for Christmas. His older brother lives next door, and their dad lives with the older brother. Consequently, I was able to see my uncle - my mom's brother who is just older than her, and the same age as my dad - for the first time in many months.

The first thing I said to my mom as we left was, "Mom, Uncle Joel looks really bad."

She said she saw in his eyes that he wasn't doing well. We knew he wouldn't be with us much longer.

Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon. In an odd turn of events, all of my family (well, besides the brother in Montana) was at my mom's house. (Despite the fact that two of my siblings have moved back home, and I live five miles away, that doesn't happen too often.)

My dad, my brother, and Jason were outside working on various vehicles. Amanda, Anna Marie, my mom, and I were inside. My dad walks in, calls my mom's name. When she stands up at the alarmed tone in his voice, he tells her to sit back down.

Her brother was dead.

My cousin had just called my dad to tell him that his older brother had tried to wake their dad up around noon, and he was unresponsive. The ambulance was unable to revive him - he was already gone.

He was 57 years old, but he looked about 77 when I saw him Thursday night. I remember looking at his hands as we sat around the dining room table talking, and the skin had the pale, translucent look of a much older person. He was wheelchair-bound and on oxygen, and he had lost a lot of weight.

The saddest thing about this is that he had told one of his other sisters on Thursday that he realized he had brought his health problems upon himself.

My uncle and my dad were friends in high school, a scheme which I'm sure my dad perpetrated to get closer to my (too-young-to-date) mother. The friendship stuck, though, and they were as close as any two brothers would be. But my uncle spent too many of his years in the proverbial "hard living" stage.

Although he had cleaned up in the past few years, the damage to his body was already done.

One of my cousins, who lives in New England and hadn't been home in several years asked me if he'd had cancer. No, but he had a host of other problems - cirrhosis, emphysema, diabetes, hepatitis - that were directly traceable to his lifestyle choices.

His sons buried their mother (he had since divorced her) two years ago, for much the same reasons. Those boys - we'll, they're 25 and nearly 40, but they're still boys to me - are minus both parents at much too early an age.

My uncle had survived Vietnam, but was done in by what he did after he returned.

So as we approach this new year, and people are evaluating what they've done in the past and what they hope to accomplish in the future, please, if not for your sake, then for the sake of your family - take care of yourself!

You've got a lot of living left to do.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The recovery phase

As much as I've been dreading Christmas this year, I have to say, it was actually quite nice.

I left work at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, and spent a couple of hours doing some last-minute running around. Apparently, so did everyone else in town, because the stores were PACKED.

Anna Marie and I spent Wednesday afternoon putting together our gingerbread house, and I was elbow-deep in icing and gumdrops when Amanda sent me a text message saying she was about to leave to come get us.

(Whoops! I had forgotten that we were going to her church's Christmas Eve service. We had to leave at 5 p.m., and it was 4:45, and neither Anna Marie nor I was presentable. I still had icing on my arm when I got to the church bathroom to freshen my lipstick.)

Jason stayed home, which turned out to be a good thing - the church is an hour from here, and we didn't leave there until 7:30, so he had dinner waiting on us when we got home. Dad and Jeremy were here too, and they were watching - what else? - A Christmas Story.

We had such a good, Christ-centered Christmas Eve. After we opened our presents (and Anna Marie had her screaming fit at the sight of the Nintendo DS box) we finished our Advent candles. I'm actually starting to miss it already!

Yesterday morning we stayed at home until lunchtime, when we went to mom's and had smoked turkey. We watched Patch Adams, which I've never seen, if you can believe it.

And then last night - the grand finale - we went to my cousin's house. Our extended family hasn't gotten together in years, mostly because we can't get along well enough to be in the same house for any length of time. I don't know what was different about last night, but as far as I could tell, everyone had a good time. I think part of the solution was that it was a really big house, so pockets of folks could gather and talk. At my grandparents house growing up, we were all shoved together, and, as they say, familiarity breeds contempt.

(Or maybe the troublemakers didn't show up this year. Whatever.)

And now - well, I'm needing a major detox! I did nothing but eat yesterday, most of it stuff I had no business eating. My cousin who lives in California sent my mom a box of See's Candies, and oh my goodness - I told my mom that those were fancy chocolates, and I was not disappointed! Mom, Amanda, and I sat on the couch watching movies, cutting the chocolates in half to see what was inside, and almost making ourselves sick!

(In fact, I told Amanda that this was going to be remembered as the year we sat on the couch, cut mom's fancy chocolates open, watched movies, and just about made ourselves sick.)

I was fortunate enough to leave work at 2 p.m. today, and, miraculously, the house had recovered from the Christmas melee! Unbelievable!

Anna Marie has barely put that Nintendo down, but we have a slight problem. One of the games is playing some music that I find entirely inappropriate for a seven-year-old. We've promised to take her to a used game store so she can trade it in towards something better - something that doesn't ask the question Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?

(And it was rated "E" for everyone, or so the box would lead me to believe.)

I'm so glad I have another two weeks before Weight Watchers meets again, because I'm going to need it to recover from the feasting we did yesterday. I'm surprised I could zip my pants this morning.

I hope everyone out in Blogland had a good, blessed Christmas too - and that you could get your pants zipped today as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And so it begins…

(First and foremost, I have GOT to quit hitting the "RETURN" key instead of "TAB" on my keyboard. What is wrong with me?)

It's almost Christmas, y'all!

Know how I know?

1. We had our office Christmas breakfast yesterday. Breakfast casserole, sausage balls, banana nut muffins, and a fruit tray. And my general manager handed out presents, even though we've agreed for the past two years to not exchange presents, instead giving the money to charity.

(I scored a nice silver necklace with my initial on it, strung on strands of black ribbon and cords.)

2. My landlady has come by my office to bring me a Christmas card. And include a check! Who does that? My landlady, that's who!

(Jason says we'll be depositing it and writing it right back to her, in case you were wondering.)

3. It's raining. That's right, around here we don't have a white Christmas - we have a wet Christmas.

(And guess whose umbrella broke today? I TOLD Jason I needed a new one for Christmas, and now I really do.)

4. The stores are full of folks wandering around with a blank stare on their faces, eyes glazed over, trying desperately to finish their shopping.

(I know this primarily because at lunch today I was one of those glazed-over folks.)

5. I finally bought our gingerbread house kit! Yay!

6. We've been doing our Advent candles. We sort-of forgot to do them for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, so we're doing them the four days before.

(Hey - we're Pentecostal - we're new to this whole Advent candle thing. Cut us a little slack!)

7. Random advertisers are bringing by trays of goodies. Today, it was one of our electrical companies, and there were brownies topped with buttercream frosting involved.

Don't ask if I ate one. I'd hate to lie to you this close to Jesus' birthday.

Do you get the same feeling I do at this time of year? Right before Christmas? It's kind of like some imaginary lever has turned, and we're heading full-steam into the holiday - no turning back!

Here come the holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

No, we're not ignoring you

Have you been anxiously awaiting your Turner Family Christmas Card, that pantheon of photographic greatness?

Yes? No? Maybe?

Well, you've been waiting in vain.

Sorry, folks, but there will be no Turner Family Christmas Card this year.

Heck, we haven't even managed to put up all of our Christmas decorations this year. There are no icicle lights gracing the front of my house - mainly because the edges of the roof are rotten, and Jason posits that when he goes to take the clips down, he'll have to go ahead and replace the whole bunch at once, or risk having another raccoon taking up residence in our attic.

I know this won't be a surprise to those who have read this blog - and my descriptions of the funk in various shades of blue which I've been experiencing. That is topped only by the extremely dark blue shade of funk being experienced by some of the people in my life, and with which I am being forced to grapple.

(Keeping everyone encouraged is hard work, y'all.)

Add to that the general business of the season - parties, practices, and work obligations - and you have a recipe for no card photo.

What's that you say? I can send a card without a photo? Poppycock! With a photographer like Amanda at my disposal? And a kid with no front teeth? That would be wasteful!

This year has been all about keeping it together and rolling with the punches. And a photo Christmas card is one punch with which I have not rolled.

Sorry, gentle readers. We'll have to make double-time on this next year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dear maker of Ritz


Why must you do it?

Why must you make your delicious, buttery crackers in the shape of cute little snowflakes?

I can resist them much of the year, but there's just something about those shapes which calls to me.

What was so wrong with your standard shape? And, in these trying economic times, is it really cost-effective to switch your dies and make a product which is only applicable during a short period of time each year?

I think not.

And I think that, if you care about my health and well-being (not to mention your bottom line) you'll stop production.

Immediately.

And when I've single-handedly saved your company from bankruptcy, I expect nothing in return.

My reward will be the knowledge of a good deed done.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Out of focus

Since I'll have no "Official Thursday Weigh-In" this week (Anna Marie has a school play and I can't make the meeting) you're getting a deeper, more philosophical post today.

You're welcome.

Is it just me, or is it more difficult to stay focused this Christmas season? And by focused, I mean on the real Reason we celebrate.

A couple of weeks ago I posted about being in a "blue funk" about Christmas. It got somewhat better, but this week it's back with a vengeance. Part of this is hormonal, I know - my "friend" came to visit yesterday. (For Christmas! And I forgot to get him anything! And I know it's a male, because only a man would make a woman feel this crappy!)

But part of it is situational. The same dynamics which normally cause turmoil in my family are still at play. The usual financial strains are there, but of course more pronounced because it is the holidays. And yet, there is so much more.

I won't go into detail, out of respect for those involved, but a member of my extended family passed away this past weekend. The sadness has been multiplied immeasurably by the manner of his death, and no one seems to know quite how to handle themselves. It has, quite literally, thrown the whole clan for a loop.

I've thought in the past few days what an odd mixture of emotions that grief truly is: anger, sadness, regret, loneliness, it's all there and more.

Tomorrow is the funeral, and I don't know how anyone is going to handle it.

His death has helped me put some things into perspective - for instance, we were in danger of bouncing a check over the weekend, because of an unexpected withdrawal, and I realized that really, while I didn't want it to happen (and apparently, it didn't) it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Inconvenient, yes, but we'd make it through.

I have so much to be thankful for! I have a roof over my head. I have plenty of food to eat. I have a healthy husband who treats me with respect and a beautiful, healthy, happy daughter. I have a job, and even though it gets stressful and frustrating, there are many these days who can't say that. I have a wonderful, Spirit-filled church with a true man of God as a pastor and people who care about me.

(Oh, and wonderful bloggy friends! Hello!)

But sometimes, all of that seems to not matter so much. We get out of focus.

We begin to focus on the wrong things - the economy, the cold weather, the infighting in our families.

I told Jason today that I wished sometimes that the holidays wouldn't come. It isn't because I don't have anything under the tree for my child - her new, candy-apple-red Nintendo DS Lite came in today! - it was more because the situations in my family are making the traditional Christmas celebration almost impossible.

(Oh lawd. Here come the tears.)

He looked at me, and told me that maybe I was focusing on the wrong part of the holidays.

And he was right.

Really, as much as family celebrations are a part of Christmas, that isn't really the most important thing. I have to remember that we celebrate Christ's birth, and I can do that in my very own heart, even without anyone around.

It saddens me to think that Christmas may just be the three of us, but if I have to pull away from others to be able to keep my heart focused on Christ, I just may have to do it. I have resolved that my home is going to be peaceful, in as much as I have control over that. And sometimes, that means keeping out the turmoil from without just as much as keeping the peace within.

I've got so many different thoughts and emotions swirling around in my heart right now - so many questions.

It's hard to keep focused on the most important things when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. But if I don't keep that focus, this weight I carry might just pin me to the ground.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas list - UPDATE


Let's take a look at where we are on Anna Marie's list, now that we're a week out from Christmas.

Let's also remember, that I don't encourage her to make this list. This is the first time (I think) for a list, and she made it out on the way to church. I'm not really interested in fulfilling everything on the list, but I thought it might be good for a few laughs.

That being said:

• Ben 10 watch - probably not going to get. She saw one again at Walgreens yesterday, and again, I'm just not that into the alien thing.

(Unless David Tennant is involved, which he is not, so no go.)

• Her two front teeth - one is already peeking through, so the other won't be far behind. I can't promise they'll be back within the week, though.

• A bike with trick pegs - um, no. She got this idea because the Children's Ministry at church is having a contest, and this is one of the prizes.

• Cough gone - done, except now she's got the sniffling/sneezing thing going on.

• Laser Tag - no. Not even really sure if they still make them.

• Nintendo DS - actually, thanks to several relatives pooling some change they'd been saving, this is on it's way here as we speak. It's RED!

• A crown - my mom has some of these lying around her house from a Women's Ministry thing she did, so I might be able to arrange this.

• A tablet - actually, thanks to Walgreens, I scored a tablet and a box of envelopes dirt cheap. I figured she could use them to write letters and leave our (good) stuff alone.

• A plant - again, huh?

• Lots and lots of friends - she has those, but I think the thing here is that none of them live in our neighborhood. We have mostly older retired folks on our street.

• A ball - does.not.need.another.one.

• A belt - OK, so I could stick one of those in her stocking, because who wants their daughter's pants to fall down on the playground? Not me.

• A robot - probably not, unless there's one coming from a relative that I don't know about. Besides, she'd probably just use it to take over the world or something.

Or shoot her eye out. Whatever.

• A remote controlled helicopter with a laser - ARE YOU KIDDING ME? YOU'D SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT, AND MINE TOO PROBABLY.

• A teddy bear - again, has she seen her room lately? Without all those stuffed animals it would be MUCH easier to keep clean.

At least she's covered - I'm having a bit of trouble focusing/getting motivated/finding time/finding money to do much other shopping. Nothing for my dad, or my brother, or sister-in-law, or step-niece - and nothing for my mother-in-law!

And Christmas Eve is a week away!

And I have lots of other things to do between now and then besides just shopping!

Guess I'd better get busy printing out those IOUs.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

This is what a commitment to weight-loss looks like.


No, really.

I only ate one! See, that's commitment!

And this is what it looks like when your sister doesn't realize that there are a few more cookies to bake, and she turns off the oven, except she doesn't tell you, and you wonder why those cookies aren't baking, and then you turn the oven back on, and then you completely forget that the cookies are in there.



Nice.

Oh, well, we really didn't need those cookies anyway.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Official "Thursday" Weigh-In

Yeah, it still may be Thursday somewhere, right? Like Japan, or China, where all our kids' toys are being made right now?

I do have good reasons for my tardiness. Our meeting went extra long because they were rolling out the new "Momentum" plan (more on that later) and then I had to come home and eat, and then I had to get Anna Marie's stuff ready for school today, and then I had to put her to bed, and just as I was finishing, my sister came over to use the internet and I stayed in the living room to talk to her (and watch The Office and Pushing Daisies.)

(And so help me, if they really have canceled that show, I'll be mightily upset.)

I do have good news to report on the weight front - 147, losing a pound from last week.

Now, on to my beef with Weight Watchers:

They used to have two plans, Flex and CORE, and said that you could pick whichever one fit your life. I spent most of the past three years on Flex, until I hit a bad spot and realized I was spending too many POINTS on junk food. So, in February, I went on CORE. I really like not having to "penalize" myself by counting POINTS for healthy things like fruits and fat free dairy. I really like that this plan has encouraged me to eat more whole foods, and I do cook more.

I really, really like CORE.

Now, there is no CORE plan. There is only Momentum, and everyone is expected to count POINTS. They have changed the CORE foods list into the "Filling Foods" and try to get everyone to eat more of those.

They've changed the weigh-in books too - if you go to meetings, you used to get a little white book that they put your stamp in each week when you paid and wrote down your weight. Each one was good for about six months. You could either take it with you, or leave it in your folder at the meeting site (which I did, because I was afraid I'd forget it one week.) Now, it's all in one little book: your foods list with POINTS values, your weigh-in pages, and your POINTS slider, stuck on the back. They've made the POINTS tracker smaller, and it now goes into the front pocket.

And that tracker now expects you to get all touchy-feely and chart your hunger throughout the day. Who has time for all that?

So now I'm at a crossroads. Do I ditch CORE and start counting POINTS again? Do I stay with CORE and ignore Momentum, knowing there is no support for the CORE plan anymore? And if I do ignore Momentum, is there really any point in my continuing to go to the meetings?

Part of me thinks that this Momentum plan could help me get this last 10 pounds off, but I already know from being on CORE for the past 10 months that I'm not going to be tracking POINTS for the rest of my life. Why start something, lose a little weight, and then stop? That seems a little like fad dieting to me.

The only thing I know is that I don't have to make this decision now. I most likely won't go weigh in next week because Anna Marie has a school play at 6 p.m., and weighing in at 5:30 (the absolute earliest, and even then I may not get to at that time because the staff might not be ready) won't give me time to get dinner. And, she's probably got to be at the school about that time anyway. And the next two weeks, Thursdays will be taken up with holidays, so we won't meet.

I don't understand why that Weight Watchers would take away a program that a lot of people (judging by their message boards) are really happy with. I know some folks probably abuse it, but that's true with most situations.

I have to get ready for work now, and you're probably needing a bathroom break, so I'll end this little rant.

And maybe I'll forward it to the Powers That Be over at WW headquarters.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I (heart) Walgreens

Did I tell you, we finally got a Walgreens here in town?

That might not sound like much, but it's been a real Godsend. I know what you're thinking - "Drugstores are crazy expensive, Mel. You'll lose your shirt shopping in a place like that."

To this I say: "nu uh."

You just have to be smart about shopping there like you would any other place.

For instance: today, I spent about $18. (Actually, I spent about $20, but more on that later.) I brought home:

• Three 12-packs of Coke products
• Six gift bags
• Six candy bars (not for me - for the Two Redheads - if they're going to eat them, I might as well pay 39 cents instead of 75 cents for them)
• Four cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup
• A writing tablet and envelopes for Anna Marie for Christmas, since she did ask for a tablet.
• A roll of Reynold's Wrap aluminum foil
• A box of Frosted Flakes.

Now - after my in-store coupons, and my manufacturers' coupons, and the sales, the total was $20. I was supposed to have gotten a $2 Register Reward coupon to use off my next purchase, but we're having awful storms today and the lights went out this morning. Therefore, the Register Rewards computer was not working. Therefore, the manager just gave me $2 cash out of the register!

(Therefore, I took that cash across the street to the Wonder Bread store, and got a loaf of light wheat bread with 40 calories per slice for $1.29, as opposed to nearly $3 in the Big Box Store here in town.)

Jason did my Kroger shopping this week, so I haven't seen the receipt and have no idea how much we spent/saved there. I did make a HUGE haul at Walmart for next-to-nothing today too, but there is a Christmas present for someone in that list that actually reads this blog so I won't spill the beans.

I will tell you that it included a bag of Weight Watchers shredded cheese for just over $2, and two *somethings* which should have cost me $50 but combined only cost me $3.

Tonight, we feast on our bounty - tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Perfect for a rainy day like today!

Sigh I love the smell of savings in the afternoon!

Monday, December 08, 2008

She's making a list…


So, apparently I already have a blog post by this title somewhere, because Firefox tried to auto-complete it, but I couldn't find it, so it's going to be the title of this post.

It's Christmas, and you know what that means to kids - especially my kid.

Christmas lists.

(Or, more specifically, "Chrystmas" lists. Yes, she knows how to spell it, but that's the way she wrote it on her list. I think it might have something to do with the fact that they just finished studying butterflies at school, and she's thinking it should be spelled like "chrysalis" because it sounds similar.)

Her list this year is pretty extensive.

"I want a Ben 10 watch for Chrystmas."

(Sorry, kid, you know I'm not a big fan of that show. Something about the aliens creeps me out a bit.)

"All I want for Chrystmas is my two front teeth."

(I am NOT making this up. Also, I have no control over this one.)

"I really, really, really want a new bike with trick pegs."

(I've explained to her that she can't ride the bike she has now without the training wheels, and that I didn't think they made super-cool stunt bikes with them. She's out of luck.)

"I at least want to get my cough gone."

(Done and done. Mostly. I think.)

"I want to get a Lasor Tag game."

(Hmm. Do they still make those?)

"I want a Nintendo DS."

(Well, I thought we had this taken care of, because Gramma ordered her one on Friday. But then the nice people at Radio Shack decided to cancel the order, rather arbitrarily we think. Haven't gotten an answer from the company as to why.)

"I want a crown."

(Well. We think a bit highly of ourselves, don't we?)

"I want a tablet for Chrystmas."

(I haven't figured out the reason behind this one yet. Is she trying to tell me she's out of paper at school?)

"I want a plant."

(What kind? You're being vague here, Little AM.)

"I want lots and lots of friends."

(Someone's been watching a bit too much High School Musical.)

You can see the rest of the list above, and I bet if you click on that picture, you'll get a bigger version.

She doesn't have the resource of the Big Book (isn't that what they used to call the Sears Christmas book?) as a reference. I used to pore over that thing, until it was dog-eared, wishing for the wonderful toys between its pages.

Somehow, I think staring at a computer screen just isn't the same!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Official "Thursday" Weigh-In

Well. Since I'm baking cookies that I won't be enjoying, I guess I have a few minutes to fill you in on my weight-loss journey.

I, like some other weight-loss bloggers, am having a bit of a slowdown, nay, a backslide in this journey, and I fear that you, The Reader, will tire of me.

For what it's worth, I gained back the two pounds I'd lost two weeks ago - before the three Thanksgiving dinners, and the two parties this week.

And all that before this week, when I have a community waffle breakfast and a wedding, all in the same day.

'Tis the season to be jolly, huh?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Found it! Found it! Found it!

(Ok. So I only found it after asking Jason where it was. But still! He only told me where he'd laid the memory card. I still had to look on the desk and find it my own self!)

This time last week, I was at the Pink Palace with Anna Marie and three busloads of first graders.

(And also, several busloads of kids from other schools. Who coordinates these things anyway?)

More precisely, at this time last week, I was waiting in line at the museum's IMAX theater, which is under the front lawn, and which is impervious to cell phone signals.

(I know. I tried to check my email before we went in. UNDERGROUND! NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM! OR SEND YOU A TEXT MESSAGE!)

Before we descended into The Abyss of No Cell Phone Coverage, we ascended (the escalator) to the Festival of Trees.

The general idea is that different organizations decorate trees, and the entrance fees are donated to charity.

Here were a few of our (meaning Anna Marie and my other charge, her BFF Madi) favorites:



Hannah Montana, of course. But what is up with that creepy head at the top? Could they not have used something a little less grotesque? Is there no end to The Creepy at this museum?



I liked this tree, with its gold and white and musical instruments and "JOY" ornaments. Just plain pretty.



You knew this was coming, didn't you? You knew SOMEONE was going to put a High School Musical tree together. This was, obviously, the very favorite of the two girls I had in tow.



While I am not a big fan of satin-ball ornaments, I did very much like this tree. I wish I had somewhere that a white tree with bright ornaments would work at my house! It would be FABULOUS.



Yet another white tree. This one had a snow/penguin theme, and it's a little hard to see, but there was a giant snowflake as the tree topper.

(CAUTION: we are now entering the super-secret part of this post. I was all snap-happy taking pictures, and wondering why I didn't the last time we came, and then I realized that I wasn't supposed to be taking any. View at your own risk, and if you're caught, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence.)

Let me remind you: these decorations were used at least 30 years ago, because that's about how long ago my parents took me to the basement of a downtown department store to see them. They spent several years in storage after the store closed, and when I was in high school, they were moved to an agricultural exposition center. A few years ago they were moved to this museum, and here they stay.

That being said, on with the cheesetasticness.







There was, of course, more to look at, but The Man got all hot and bothered about the photography going on. Some of the stuff moved! And everything! I promise!

(Those elves - they're the main thing I remember from seeing this stuff as a toddler. Scarred for life!)

Now that that's over, I have one more, really scary thing to show you:



Not so scary, you say? What if I told you that each one of those stuffed penguins had set someone back $50? What say you then? Sure the money went to charity, but that's a lot of Benjamins.

(Or is it Hamiltons? I honestly have no idea whose picture is on the $50 bill, because I haven't seen one in so long.)

And how many kids do you think actually heeded that sign telling them not to touch the penguins. Yep, just that many.

Perhaps later today, I'll get around to telling you about Anna Marie's Christmas list, which she compiled on the way to church on Sunday, and which involves both her teeth and a plant.

Maybe by "plant" she means "money tree," because that's what it's going to take to fulfill her wishes!

Monday, December 01, 2008

EEEEK!

No, it's not a mouse - it's a missing memory card out of my camera!

(I'm pretty sure Jason knows where it is, but I'd have to eat a good bit of crow to ask him. I left it in his laptop's card reader, but yesterday it wasn't there. So I assumed it was back in the camera. But I assumed wrong!)

I was going to tell you that my blue funk seems to be fading to a light, powdery shade of aquamarine, and show you some pictures from The Enchanted Forest last week, but - EEEK - no memory card!

Guess I'll have to settle for posting a link to pictures that Amanda took after The Nutcracker a couple weeks ago:

Our little ballerina

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bah, humbug?

I have a cousin who always wants her blog to be a place of encouragement and light.

This ain't that blog, at least not today.

Bear with me a minute, folks - this post is going to be a little rough.

I'm having a really, really tough time getting into the "Christmas spirit."

(Hey, remember me? I'm the girl who was "ready" for the holidays just a few days ago! Wasn't expecting a blue funk to get in the way, unfortunately.)

It's shameful, really, that I'm letting the concerns of my everyday life intrude upon what should be a joyful celebration of my Savior's birth, but that's what I'm in danger of doing.

I should be good to go - thanks to Sam's Club (and their small army of Chinese workers) my tree looks fabulous this year. And I got to hit a couple of Black Friday sales yesterday, before work, and I got Anna Marie a new coat (which she badly needed, and has already gotten) and a couple pair of pajamas (which she also badly needed, and which she also has already gotten one pair) and a couple of Webkinz (buy one, get one free!)

And tomorrow, Jason and I get to help the preschoolers at church learn their Christmas carols, and attempt to figure out the handbells, so they can perform in front of an adoring congregation.

And my gracious, in the past three days, I've watched TWO Home Alone movies, and The Santa Clause, AND I'm currently watching Elf.

(Oh my goodness - it's the scene at dinner, where he just downed an entire two-liter of Coke, and is about to drown his spaghetti in maple syrup! Wohoo!)

But, before we get to Christmas, there's just so much stuff. There's our town's Christmas parade on Monday, and Anna Marie is supposed to march with her dance school, but guess what - her cough is back! And lest you think that I can just keep her home, oh no - if I'm not in the parade, I have to cover the parade, and although it's been in the mid-50's for the past two weeks, the temperature promises to drop to about 30 just in time for the parade to start.

Yeah, my camera usually freezes at some point during the night.

(Monday night, when I have a meeting straight after work, and then the parade, and God only knows when I'll get back home.)

Tuesday night, I've been asked to sing at our church's Women's Ministry banquet, which is a HUGE honor for me, but also a HUGE stress, because it's what, three days away, and I have no song! Guess where I'll be tomorrow night while Anna Marie is practicing for her Christmas musical - at the Christian bookstore, looking for a soundtrack.

(Tuesday night, which is also the night of one of my meetings, which means I'll be nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs waiting for the meeting to be over so I can drive to church.)

And, someone very close to me got a call today that, unless they came up with a mortgage payment by 2 p.m., their home was going into foreclosure today. Merry Christmas to you, too, mortgage company!

(And lest you think this was part of the whole sub-prime mortgage mess, it wasn't - it's more of a health-related inability to work.)

While these folks probably won't be out on the street by December 25, it does certainly put a damper on any celebrating that was going to be done.

There is a good bit of drama going on in my family (no, not Jason and Anna Marie - he's always afraid folks will think I'm talking about him) and drama, if you didn't already know, always seems to complicate the holidays.

I guess I'm either depressed, or real close to it, because I've been eating everything in sight today - and it's not even anywhere near time for my "friend" to visit.

I feel like such a putz, complaining to y'all when there are so many others out there who are worse off than I am. I told you this entry was going to be rough, and I'm trying to count my blessings instead of focusing on what is wrong.

(Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah - it was our pastor's sermon last weekend.)

Sorry about being a gloomy Gus tonight, folks - just keepin' it real.

And, like everything else we go through, I just have to believe that this, too, shall pass.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

All she wants for Thanksgiving


Is her two front teeth.

And maybe some pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's make this Christmas mean something this year


Why yes, I HAVE started listening to my James Brown Funky Christmas already, before Thanksgiving even arrives!

(That album, by the way, was one of the best purchases of holiday music I've ever made, which is saying a lot, because I have purchased a lot of holiday music in my time.)

By the time the actual Thanksgiving gets here, it will be the third such dinner this week - and that's only if Jason doesn't bring home leftovers from the auction dinner on Tuesday, for us to have on Tuesday night.

(Not that I'd complain about that, mind you. The foodservice he uses makes a mean dressing.)

Last night, we had our church's Evening with the Turkeys - and I laughed so hard, and so often, that my face was sore by the time it was all said and done. But Anna Marie? Not so much! I guess most of the humor was over the head of a seven-year-old, because on the way home she gave me her list of ingredients for a funny skit:

1. Someone falling down.

2. Said person getting bandaged.

3. And having rocks in their mouth.

4. And pretending to swim.

A tall order, yes, but apparently guaranteed to make even the most dour-faced elementary school student laugh her tail off.

She was sitting with friends, not with us, and as we were leaving she said (VERY loudly!) "I didn't laugh the whole time!"

Apparently, the sight of our pastoral staff in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? mode was funny, but not quite funny enough to get her to laugh. But, if one of them had fallen down, well then, Katie bar the door, she's going to guffaw until next week.

Our office will be celebrating our Thanksgiving dinner today, in about an hour or so. It's catered by a local shop, and it's one of the best spreads this side of the Mississippi - or the other side, for that matter.

I still have no idea what we're doing on Thursday, except that Jason finally told his mom that we weren't coming to Georgia this year.

(Yeah, he's a last minute guy like that. He waited until the invitations were nearly printed to tell her that we were getting married at my church, in Mississippi, and not at her church, in South Carolina. Her reaction? "You're paying for it. You can do whatever you want.")

(Insert slightly disgusted look here, by the way.)

But, I was wondering - do multiple Thanksgiving dinners take all the meaning out of Thursday? Back when I was a kid, it doesn't seem like we did this much celebrating - but we've already eaten it once, last night at church, and I'll do it again today, and Jason will have some tomorrow at work, and then comes Thursday.

By the time the real holiday rolls around, I may just be in the mood for a hamburger!

Oh, nevermind - I forget, I'm married to the man who wanted turkey and dressing for our rehearsal dinner - and we were married in July.

Gobble, gobble, y'all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Official Thursday Weigh-In

So, apparently the last three weeks have been some sort of fluke.

Because I lost two pounds this week.

146 is my current weight, or 91 pounds total lost.

No weigh-in next week, as I will be joining the rest of the country in our sacred national tradition of stuffing my face with everything in front of me.

(I kid! I kid! Only half of the stuff in front of me! Portion control!)

The scary part is - I have THREE Thanksgiving dinners this week, and this is just the beginning of the "serious eating" season.

Heaven help us all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's product review time!


While I haven't quite delved into the lucrative world of paid endorsements (blast you, David Beckham), I can give my unqualified opinion from time to time.

And this, gentle reader, is one of those times.

A few weeks ago, there arrived in my mailbox (and in the mailbox of my office) some coupons from McDonald's for their new line of McCafe coffees. I'd heard their java was right up there with Starbucks, and, having no Starbucks anywhere around, had considered trying it out.

The word FREE written on some of the coupons was just the thrust I needed to try them out.

(Note to companies - giving away something FREE, especially when requiring no additional purchase, is an EXCELLENT way to get broke folks such as myself to try your product.)

Since my area has finally decided that winter is here, and the heat isn't working in either my car or my house (and the temperature in my office is a bit too chilly sometimes as well) I went in for a cuppa yesterday.

A cuppa non-fat, sugar-free-vanilla latte.

Mmmm.

It was good.

So good, in fact, that I had every intention of using another free coupon this morning - only, I spent that time searching the bottomless pit of a hall closet for my scarf and the hat Amanda bequeathed to me a couple years ago.

I haven't figured out a way to get back over there yet, but I will, make no mistake!

I highly recommend these coffees, especially since an automatic machine makes them and that leaves very little room for "operator error" on the part of the employees.

I don't know how much their regular size costs, but it's got to be cheaper than the almost $4 I shelled out for one at Starbucks recently. That's the amount I usually spend on a whole meal!

They also have several non-sugar-free varieties, as well as whole milk, and if you like your coffee iced they'll do that too.

If only they'd work on their atmosphere a bit, they could give Starbucks a real run for their money!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm ready!

I'm ready for the holidays to be here!

Don't get me wrong - I haven't bought a turkey (HAHAHAHA! Like I'll even cook one! That's what Cracker Barrel is for!) or baked a pie, or truth be told, even cleaned off my dining room table.

I'm ready for it to be the holidays. I spent part of Saturday at our town's Christmas Open House, and now I want to put up my tree! I've got so many new ideas (not to mention a big container of brand new ornaments) that I want to try out.

No, I haven't bought a single present, but I'm ready for Christmas.

And I'm ready for it to be Thanksgiving, too. Not ready in the "got all the ingredients for my world-famous stuffing" (HAHAHAHA again!) sense but ready in the "I watched Food Network this weekend and I'm ready for some turkey and dressing" sense.

That kind of ready.

I'm ready for next Sunday night, when we'll have dinner and lots of funny skits at the Evening with the Turkeys. I'm ready to bake a dessert, and fix a side dish, and (if last year's reports are to be believed) laugh until my stomach hurts.

(Hey! It's cardio!)

I'm ready for the following Tuesday, when I'll chaperon Anna Marie's trip to the Pink Palace Museum, where they have the Festival of Trees and the Enchanted Forest.

(On that note, I'll have to take plenty of pictures - that Enchanted Forest is exactly the same now as it was when I was a kid, and my parents took me to see it. It's so cheesy, it's wonderful!)

And how could I forget, I'm ready for our annual Thanksgiving dinner here at the office, with food catered by a local restaurant, and a few minutes' break from the work-a-day world.

I feel like SpongeBob Squarepants, as he stands by his mailbox repeating "I'm ready! I'm ready!" over and over again.

I may regret saying this in another week - but I'm ready for it to be the holidays!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Official "Thursday" Weigh-In

Oh, dear.

This doesn't look good.

After getting to an all-time low weight of 146.5 a few weeks ago, I have now lost ground and regained weight.

148 is what I weigh this week, up a pound and a half. I almost didn't go weigh in last night (how many times have I said that?) because of the bad day I'd been having, but I did, and I owned up to it, and I'm moving on.

And today is Jason's birthday, and I have no idea what he wants for dinner because all he's given me is his usual "uh um uh."

(Sorry - I don't know the onomatopoeia for the shoulder shrug and mumbled "I don't know" that I get as the answer to EVERY SINGLE QUESTION I EVER ASK HIM.)

Ahem.

So - hopefully both Anna Marie (who got on red again yesterday!) and I will have better days ahead of us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Frustrated

That's how I feel right now.

This has been a very frustrating day so far.

I started out frustrated, because of some comments made by someone I was having dinner with last night. The comments were ignorant, and hateful, and concerned our new president-elect.

I will go ahead and admit, I did not vote for him. But, I am not as "devastated" as I have heard some folks describe themselves. I am at peace with the outcome of the election. And, my reasons for not voting for him had nothing whatsoever to do with the color of his skin, or whether or not he is a "secret Muslim." I understand, though, that scripture teaches that those who are in authority are put there by God, and that we have a responsibility to pray for them.

I will also admit that I have not prayed for our current President nearly enough, and that is a situation I intend to rectify immediately.

Also, I am frustrated because my very best friend in the world is going through a very difficult time, and while I can comfort her with my words, there is nothing I can do to take away the pain she is feeling. Time will mend it, I know because I've been there, but that knowledge does little at present to fill the emptiness she's experiencing.

And now, my own Darling Daughter has misbehaved so badly that I just got a phone call from her teacher. And I'm frustrated, because, like her teacher, we've tried everything we know to get her to see the importance of following the rules. We've talked to her about how it helps everyone learn better, and makes the teacher's day better, and just generally makes things run smoother.

We've set consequences in place for not following the rules, in addition to the ones that are set in place at school, and have followed through with those consequences.

And yet, here we are, with her having gotten into as much trouble as she possibly can without a trip to the principal's office. And here I am, racking my brain to think what else can be done to get through her thick red head.

(And seriously, I wasn't sure if the teacher was listening on the other end, so I didn't want to tell her that I was going to beat the fire out of her when she got home.)

(I kid! I kid! I'd only half beat the fire out of her. Maybe 3/4.)

Jason and I have a game plan for the evening, including the ever-popular "Come to Jesus Meeting" of which I am a big fan.

(Also including locking her Game Boys up in our lock box. No, I'm not kidding about that one.)

I'm about to leave to get her from school. On the phone, I told her she'd better not make a SINGLE SOUND the rest of the day. Unfortunately, there's only so much of the fear of God I could put into her on the phone, but fortunately, I can do a pretty good job when I get her in the car.

And fortunately, tomorrow is another day, for politics, and my precious friend, and my smart-yet-talkative daughter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Success!

Well then. I've been having a scary amount of success in the past few days getting things accomplished.

I almost hesitate to report on my recent successes, for fear of the dreaded "jinx."

Saturday, for instance, went well. I did drop Anna Marie off (after successfully getting her hair into a bun!) and drive to Starbucks. I did pay for a cup of coffee what I'd normally spend on an entire meal, and I did spend an hour in there reading my book.

And then, my attention span did wane just a bit, so I went to Sam's to pick up our prints.

I was going to drive home after the show and cook dinner (read: OPEN A CAN OF SOUP) for the two of us since Jason was working, but I thought better of it and took her to Red Lobster instead. She's been asking to go (she hasn't been in nearly two years) and I figured it would be cheaper to buy one adult and one kid meal than for all three of us to go.

(I was right, but it was still more than I was comfortable spending for two people to eat.)

Sunday went well, too, despite the fact that I realized shortly before service started that I'd forgotten our towels. Luckily, I ran into the pastor's wife with a panicked look on my face in the hallway, and luckily, her daughter was being baptized too, and luckily, the pastor's study has a shower so they keep a few towels around.

Anna Marie was third out of a dozen folks getting dunked, and you could hear her before you could see her. Apparently, as I was running around like a crazy woman looking for towels, she was asking the children's pastor (who was giving everyone the run-down of the morning's goings-on) if the water would be warm.

"Yes, it will be warm," he said.

"Will it be hot?" she asked.

"No, but it'll be comfortable."

As she (and I) were stepping into the tank, she can be heard to say, "Oooh. It is warm!"

She started holding her nose and closing her eyes (I was holding the glasses) as soon as she got in, and she was so relaxed that her legs kept floating up to the top while the children's pastor was trying to talk to her!

We got a DVD, but I haven't gotten it ripped to a computer so I can show you guys yet.

Yesterday, I did come to work for a couple of hours (because I had a meeting to cover) and then I did go home, change into sweats, and curl up in bed to read some more.

And then Jason came home, and we ate lunch, and I finally finished my book - The Cat Who Robbed a Bank.

I'd been wanting to read this series for a while, and I think I'm going back for more. The main character in this book had the kind of life I'd like to have in a different life - he's independently wealthy because his mom's best friend left him a load of money. He lives in an old barn in a quaint little town "400 miles north of everywhere." He writes a column for the local paper a couple times a week. And he has two Siamese cats who help him solve crimes!

In my estimation, his life is just about perfect.

(Not that mine isn't, mind you, but sometimes I just get a little too caught up in the books I read!)

So, here's to celebrating success, and not jinxing it, and to getting all the important stuff done.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Making plans

Good Saturday morning to you all, Bloglanders!

I hope yours is peaceful and productive.

I'm catching up on my blog reading (on which I was WOEFULLY behind), and drinking coffee, and watching the second season of Picket Fences on Hulu.com (hooray that they finally loaded another season!). Multitasking!

Anna Marie has a Nutcracker performance today. This year, as a first grader, she gets to be a soldier - a good guy! I won't get to see today's show, though, because none of the rest of my family can come so we're going to her next performance on November 16.

(That is, IF we can ever get our rears in gear and buy our tickets! Ooops!)

After I drop her off, I'm going to pick up some pictures that Amanda took yesterday and put in at Sam's for developing, and look something like this:



And then, I'm going to go to Starbucks! And I'm taking a book to read! And I'm going to order some coffee and read my book and pass the time until it's time to pick Anna Marie back up from the theater.

And then, we'll be on our own tonight because Peansaps Catering has a job, and I have NOT volunteered to help - I figure that Anna Marie will be pretty exhausted by the time she finishes the ballet, and we'll just come home and watch movies and veg out.

And then, tomorrow (if nothing rips, breaks, or tears) Anna Marie will be getting baptized! As a parent, there is no greater joy than seeing your child progress in their relationship with God. She's been asking about getting baptized for a while, and tomorrow we're having a baptismal service, so tomorrow is the day.

And I get to go into the pool with her, which I think will help her nerves a great deal.


(That, by the way, is what I meant by "rips, breaks, or tears." I think she'll be fine, although a little nervous about getting up in front of the whole congregation.)

In a few minutes I'll have to get my shower done, so that I can get Anna Marie's shower done, so that I can finagle a way to put her hair in a bun. A bun! Aaaah!

Have a great day, everyone - and I hope that all your plans for today go well.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Official Thursday Weigh-In

First off, let me apologize that I haven't really been the best at making the bloggy-rounds this week. Between my normal first-week meetings, and this election (which, in my county, is ending in a runoff for some offices, God help us all), colliding with my second week of having to do a special edition - well, I'm just all tapped out.

Apparently, though, my fat isn't tapped out, because some of it is still there - I stayed the same this week, holding steady at 146.5 for the third week in a row.

Sheesh.

And about that election - I've stayed away from politics here, other than to urge you to go to the polls, because quite frankly I have to deal with it in my everyday life and sometimes I just get sick of hearing it. And I'll not comment on the outcome of the presidential race, other than to say that I'm rather ashamed - not that we elected who we did, but that it took such a polarizing race to get everyone to vote. In my county, we had something like 70% turnout, which is probably a low estimate, because there are probably a good number of dead/relocated voters still on the rolls.

NO WHERE in the "rulebook" does it say that we need to vote just when we really like one candidate, or really don't like another. It shouldn't take the prospect of making history to get us to the polls - because in reality, we make history every time we cast our vote.

So let that be a lesson to all of you who rarely cast a ballot (which I know is NONE of my readers, because you're all bright and civic minded folks). You can make a difference, even if your candidate doesn't win. Yours will at least be one less vote that he/she lost by, and you will still have let your voice be heard. And the next time there is an election in your city, state, or county, don't sit back and think that it isn't important - because EVERY time we exercise our duty as citizens, it IS important.

(Ok. Getting off my soapbox now. Will see you all tomorrow!)

Monday, November 03, 2008

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

A.K.A. if I'd just post these things every day or so, you wouldn't have to take a day off work to read them.

Wonder what I was up to last week (other than not losing any weight?)

There was much baking and decorating to be had:



These were done during It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! Anna Marie was supposed to be "helping," and I guess she did, if by "helping" you mean "putting sprinkles on the three cookies destined for her mouth."

(And yes, I had one(ish). It's a slippery slope, and the next thing you know, you haven't lost any weight for the week.)

But how can you possibly be sad at the number on the scale, when you have these precious pumpkins smiling back at you?



Orange-tinted cupcakes + chocolate frosting + pumpkin PEEPS = happy first graders at their Halloween party.

And, inspired by my too-cute-for-words friend Brooke (who spelled out her infant daughter's name in pumpkins last year - good thing it's "AVA" and not "GERTRUDE" because that would be an awful lot of pumpkins) I did this on my lunch break on last Monday.



Yay for Sharpies and tracing letters printed off the computer!

That picture (as well as the cookie picture) were on my camera, and it's taken me this long to find the adapter for my microSD card so I could upload them. While I was there, I also found these gems:






You didn't know Jason was a famous animal wrangler, did you? This was at a Sears appliance store back in the spring, while we were in the Jeep waiting for my dad to buy a grill (and we somehow walked out with a new lawnmower for ourselves). The duck came right up to him, and he fed it Teddy Grahams out of my mom's purse.

He reprised his role on Mother's Day, when a snapping turtle found itself snared in Anna Marie's soccer goal.





And yes, that is Jason fussing at the turtle. It had tried to reach it's long neck around and bite him, when all he was trying to do was free it.

(Don't tell PETA, but he actually hit the turtle on the shell. I'm sure the turtle didn't feel a thing.)

And finally, here are our Halloween pictures. Anna Marie staged a bit of a mutiny after I got home from work on Friday (and a mere HOUR before the festival at my mom's church started) and refused to wear the Indian dress she'd successfully worn at both her dance class and as a Warrior (the school's mascot) on Warrior Day. We finally compromised on Biker Chick, and she even designed two tattoos (using her Magnadoodle) for me to draw on her arms.





(I don't know what that one is supposed to be. I just copied what she drew - and the words say "COOL KIDS CLUB.")



All tats were approved by this guy, my brother, a.k.a. The Man Who Look Like He Fell Through A Tackle Box And A Vat Of Ink Pens.




(Yes, that's a costume, folks. He's not NEARLY so redneck in real life. Who knew that a fake rat-tail could look so real?)

I hope everyone has recovered from their sugar comas, and is ready, willing, and able to get out and do their civic duty tomorrow!

GET OUT AND VOTE!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Official Thursday Weigh-In

So. We meet again.

Let me just say, if I never see another mini cupcake again, it will be too soon.

Let me just say, I now have nearly 100 orange-colored, chocolate-iced mini cupcakes in my house, half of which will be going to school with Little AM tomorrow.

(How do I know which half? They're the ones with the pumpkin-shaped Peeps on top!)

The other half I'm trying to take somewhere (like work, or maybe my mom's church tomorrow night) because, contrary to what my husband believes, we do NOT need four dozen mini cupakes lying around.

(Oh. My weight is the same as last week - 146.5. Since I had to bake tonight, I weighed in and then went to eat hamburgers with Anna Marie and Jason. Think maybe that's why I can't lose this last 10 lbs.?)

Anna Marie's school is having a breakfast tomorrow morning for those who had all A's on their report card, and guess what - she's in! They've invited parents, but I'm going to her Halloween party at lunch so I'm trying to convince Jason to go to breakfast.

I took pictures of the cupcakes, as well as a couple of other things we've done this week (cookies! pumpkin decorating!) but I'm in bed, and some of the pictures are on my phone, and you'll just have to wait a day or two for those.

It'll give my hands time to rest after all that icing!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Scary stories to tell in the dark

Ok, so actually, this post is about a scary story that happened in the dark.

(By the way, do you remember those books? Scary Stories to Read in the Dark? My cousin had one, and maybe a sequel. But I digress.)

(Tangents! I has them!)

We took Anna Marie to the Haunted Hayride at Cedar Hill Farms on Saturday night. You remember that little debacle, don't you? How I paid $30 for 10 tickets to that place, hoping to use them on Anna Marie's birthday, only to be turned away at the door?

I called last week to find out exactly what it was that I could do with those tickets. Turns out, not much: one attraction for each ticket, either the Haunted Hayride, or the Trail of Terror, or the Corn Maize.

Oh, and we could also do paintball, but the only ones in our group with insurance were the kids (thanks, CHIPS!) and I've seen what those balls of paint can do to a bloke.

We settled on the hayride. We knew it didn't start until after dark, and we knew that there were live actors, but we were totally unprepared for what we were about to experience.

Several trailers were loaded up, with bales of hay around the perimeter and a clearing in the middle. We (and by we, I mean my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, my three-year-old step-niece, and the three of us) sat near the front of the trailer, close to the tractor that pulled it.

The man from the farm told us that if we felt the need to "go somewhere" it needed to be the floor of the trailer, not the side.

Duly noted.

We start into the woods, where it was pitch black dark. And then, it began.

Every few minutes our trailer would slow down, flash its lights, and stop. And someone would come out of the darkness and get all up in our grills, growling and roaring and generally making menaces of themselves.

Some of the actors actually came up into the trailer, and walked among us.

After what seemed like an eternity at each station, we'd start up again.

So, I'll just own up RIGHT NOW to the fact that I was scared. I'm not ashamed. I will admit to swatting at an actor in a werewolf costume, because he kept leaning into my face and growling.

I am not proud.

Anna Marie started out OK, but after a few minutes (and in my mom's lap, no less) she was getting pretty hysterical. I had already moved to the floor of the trailer, and when she didn't stop crying, I had her come down with me. Mom got down too, and the three of us huddled together and tried to calm her down.

There were mad scientists, and murderous rednecks, and the obligatory guy in the hockey mask with the chainsaw - but I didn't see much of it from the floor of the trailer, and I had to keep from screaming myself so I wouldn't startle Anna Marie more.

Finally, after the longest 20 minutes of my life, we were back at the beginning.

We went to Wendy's for some warm food and LOTS of light, and I had to hold Anna Marie's hand in the back seat the whole way there and then the whole way home.

She was so upset - she just kept crying, and saying she couldn't stop thinking about the hayride. I prayed with her, and quoted scripture to her about how if there's anything good, or lovely, or true, etc., that we should think about those things. And I gave her a list of "pretty" things (as we call them) to think about. And somehow, she got to sleep that night.

But I wasn't so lucky. All I could think about was how scared my child had been, and how I was the one who had put her in that situation. I felt just awful.

(By the way, the three-year-old was crying when we exited the trailer too, and there was a six-year-old near us who had spent the entire time with her head in her dad's lap and sat up at the end saying "What happened?")

She seems to have recovered (though she just told me that she was still thinking about it) and I have a new not-quite-New-Year's resolution: to THOROUGHLY investigate things before I get us into it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Official "Why no, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth" Weigh-In

Man, if these things get any later, I don't know what y'all will do with me!

I have a very good reason, I promise - see, when I got home on Thursday night, I was fixing my dinner, and getting Anna Marie in bed. And then, Jason was using the laptop to work on a website for a customer (how DARE he?) and it was too cold in the office to use the desktop. And then, I was at work yesterday and really busy, and I had to go to the school TWICE - once to get a car pass, because I had to do an emergency pick-Anna-Marie-up run since Jason was delayed in Memphis.

(Because if I don't have a car pass, I have to park and check her out, even after school is dismissed. And if she's checked out, she's not a HAT (Here All the Time) kid. And if she isn't a HAT kid, she can't wear a hat at the end of the nine weeks. And we can't have that.)

So, last night, Jason took my parents out to dinner to pay my dad back for traipsing up to Memphis to help him (with something that turned out to be SO SIMPLE that he was SO ANGRY when he realized the solution) and Anna Marie went home with them. And then we spent the evening catching up on DVR stuff.

So now, I've gotten up, had a pot of coffee and some oatmeal, done a couple loads of laundry and a load of dishes, and caught up on my blog reading. And now, I'm FINALLY going to get around to telling you what I weigh.

Whew!

146.5. I gained a pound, and the lady at the scale said, "Is it your time of the month?"

Oh, don't I wish it were, so I'd have an excuse! It might have something to do, though, with the batch of brownies I baked for Jason and Anna Marie, and of which I snuck a bite here and a nibble there.

Yeah, that might be it.

Luckily, those things are long gone, and that was the last box in the pantry!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This is what punishment looks like in Melz World.

I came home Monday to a silent house.

As Jason walked through the kitchen, I said, "She got on 'red', didn't she?"

"How did you know?" he asked.

"Because the house is so quiet," I answered.

In an effort to encourage Anna Marie to follow the rules at school, we've told her that if she gets on "yellow" she loses computer for the afternoon, and for "red" it's the TV too.

So, on those days, the house is quiet - because Jason and I don't watch TV either. I know, it's kind of a punishment for us, too, but, whatever.

Anna Marie makes a HUGE mess on those days, because with no electronics to keep her occupied, her imagination goes into overdrive - usually involving lots of paper, and tape, and stuffed animals.

And sometimes, it spills outside to the sidewalk.

She did this while I was cooking dinner.



It's what she had to write, over and over, in her journal at school.

"I will stop talking in class."

And this little confession was out there as well - like her own version of Post Secret.



"I am on red Mom and Dad."

After dinner, when I was trying to clean the kitchen, she took her sidewalk chalk to the concrete block building in our backyard. She asked me to come help her color the parts she couldn't reach.

(How did she draw the outline, and then find herself unable to color in that outline? Beats me.)



Editor's note: the following photographs were taken by a seven-year-old. They are unretouched.





While I did the hard work, Anna Marie took a little "photo safari" around our backyard.







(That is Spiderman's mask, and a Pokemon ball, per Anna Marie.)

She also took a picture of me with the finished product:



And I returned the favor.



Yes, I busted up my hands (and a couple of fingernails) on that concrete. But we have been studying The Five Love Languages of Children in Sunday School, and Anna Marie and I took a "love language test" on Sunday. And I discovered that her main love language is "acts of service," which means that she feels most loved when someone is helping her do something (and feels most like she's showing love when she's helping someone with something.)

It makes perfect sense to me - I thought that she just never wanted to do anything alone, but really, she wanted to feel like she was helping, or someone was helping her. So now, I'm trying to be more understanding of behavior I had thought was a bit annoying.

Makes me wish we'd have taken that test a long, long time ago.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Raccoon update

Oh, did I forget to update on the wildlife taking up residence in MY residence?

I was a bit busy when we got home - sweeping, mopping, and wiping down the bathroom, helping Jason with yard work, and bandaging Anna Marie's back after she slipped and skinned it on a tree.

(Don't worry. She's fine!)

When we left for church yesterday morning, we did an inspection of the outside of the house. And lo and behold, one of the mesh screens covering a vent hole was displaced.

Seems God did tell that raccoon the easiest way out, after all!

After church, Jason did an inspection to make sure there were still no vermin up there, and patched up that displaced mesh. We think we've solved the problem, for now.

(And really, if someone had come after you with a giant fishing net and a spear, and all you were trying to do was escape, would you come back?)

Anna Marie was much relieved to learn that we were raccoon-less now. And we both prayed that God would help that critter find a better place to live than our house!

And now, we have little raccoon prints in the dust in the attic, as a reminder of his visit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Trapped in the attic

(When I told Amanda this story, she asked me if "trapped in the attic" was anything liked Trapped in the Closet. I told her that I was unsure if there was a midget or a cell phone involved.)

Y'all, the fun never stops here at Melz World.

Earlier in the summer, we noticed a hole in the trim around the front of our house. It's an older house, and we need a new roof, so it isn't a stretch to think that it needed replacing too. Jason told the landlady, who told him to take care of it and send her a bill.

That was in July. He went out of town, and never got "around to it."

Last week, he saw some squirrels scouting out the hole (which is, of course, attached to the attic) and decided it might be a good idea to take action before winter set in.

So, this afternoon, after we served lunch at the auction, we bought some materials and he came home to fix the hole. My dad came over, and in about an hour and a half, the job was done.

Now, as I was fixing my coffee this morning, I thought I heard something in the attic. I told Jason, and he said he'd experienced the same thing but when he'd checked, there was nothing. He said it was just something on the roof.

(Note: roof is not the same as attic.)

Dad and Jason had worked through dinner, trying to use up all the daylight, so they left to grab a bite. A bit later I was in my room folding clothes, and I heard the most awful racket up above me. It sounded like scratching, and pounding, and something throwing itself against the wall!

(Note: the hole was above my bedroom window.)

I called Jason, and told him I was 99.9% sure there was a squirrel trapped in the attic.

He came home, took a shower, and started working on the computer. When I went into Anna Marie's room to put some clothes away, I heard it again!

This time, he went up to investigate - and I've never seen him exit a space so quickly in my life.

"It's not a squirrel," he said.

"Oh, no - its a rat!" I exclaimed.

"No, it's not a rat. It's a raccoon!"

Oh, yes, dear friends, there is a real live piece of wildlife living above my humble home.

Jason said the thing just stood there and looked at him!

I called my mom, to see if my brother had any friends in possession of a raccoon trap.

Nope.

I called Amanda, to give her the chance to photograph this real life wildlife - and she immediately thought of the parallels to a certain R&B singer's wildly ridiculous opera.

I finally called Cathy, one of my co-workers, because I knew her boyfriend was a die-hard hunter.

The boy has a digital camera hooked up where he hunts, so he can count the deer.

I think he was intrigued, because a few minutes later she called to ask me if we needed them to come over.

They showed up with a giant fishing net.

Jason showed Jamie where the animal was, but he was unable to get it into the net. At one point, I heard Jason's saw, and the next thing I knew, Jamie was going up the attic steps with an angled piece of wood.

"I'm gonna spear me a raccoon," he announced.

Fortunately for the raccoon, that plan didn't work either. He had wedged himself into the overhang area, and he wasn't coming out.

They left, sans raccoon. (Cathy said Jamie wanted to mount it if they caught it.)

We figure the thing is nocturnal, and woke up and tried to get out the same way he got in. Jason left the light on up there, and Anna Marie and I prayed that God would tell the raccoon to go to one of the vents in the overhang and burrow his way through the mesh.

When we get up, we'll see if anything looks like he got out - if not, we'll either be stopping by the Home Depot on the way home (did you know those traps cost $50?) or calling the law. It's been suggested that, with the threat rabies, they may have a trap.

(And yes, we have a wildlife rehab outfit, but I don't know if they only take injured animals.)

(And no, I WON'T be traversing into the attic to get a picture. Are you crazy?)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Official "Thursday" Weigh-In

Oh, y'all. I'm so sorry about not posting last night - especially since a.) I didn't weigh in at all last week, and b.) I actually have good news!
I dropped another 1.5 lbs. this week, taking me to 145.5. 91.5 pounds gone.

Guess I must have worked harder than I thought on the house on Tuesday!

In other news, my most awesome sister posted the pictures she took at Anna Marie's birthday shindig. Feel free to take a look!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ferris Beuller'sMelissa Turner's Day Off

I think I need a day off from my day off.

What did I accomplish today? Not what I'd hoped, but:

* Took out the trash. That might not seem like much, but Jason usually takes it to the curb on Monday nights. And last night we were in bed, and he said, "Oh, I forgot to put out the trash." And I said, "Don't worry. I'll do it." And then he said, "But what if you don't get up in time?" And then I said, "Don't worry. They don't come until around lunch."

Guess what time I heard the garbage truck? 8:30 a.m. I had to scramble to find a pair of flip flops, and run out to meet the truck. Just in time!

* Washed the curtains from two rooms, and dusted those rooms. And felt embarrassed at how long it had been since I'd done either of those things. Unfortunately, "dusting" in the bathroom is always more time consuming, because the moisture in there binds with the dust to make an impenetrable gunk that requires much elbow grease.

* Cleaned out Anna Marie's room, to include sorting through three drawers, a clothes basket, and another basket full of stuff to be put away. I also hung a shelf in there to display some of her stuff, and rearranged some of the furniture.

* Found some black and white photos that I never knew we'd taken, and arranged them into a frame we already had (which I spraypainted to match my current decor, using spraypaint I already had) with a matte from another, broken frame. I then hung the resultant collage in my living room, in a space that was empty and bugging me greatly.

I really, really have gotten a lot accomplished today, but you wouldn't know it to walk into my house because it was all in Anna Marie's room and the bathroom. I'm sure Jason wondered just what I'd been doing all day when he first walked in and found me, still in my jammies, watching TV on our bed.

(Oh, I also made homemade applesauce with some apples which Anna Marie had dropped and bruised yesterday, and ordered 50 prints from Snapfish for the sum of $0.30 plus shipping.)

I'm so exhausted (and I should've worn my tennis shoes, because I was barefoot all day and my feet are KILLING me now) and now I have two days worth of work to catch up on when I get to the office. I would've liked to have gotten some scrapbooking done - or, heck, some DVR caught up on - but the look on Anna Marie's face when she came in tonight and saw her room made it all worth while.

She immediately promised to keep her room clean "forever," but we'll see how long that lasts!