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.


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.


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


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