Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve at Grandma's

Every year, for decades, my grandmother has thrown a Christmas Eve party in her basement bar. The basement is decorated for Christmas 365 days a year just for the party because why take it down if you're just going to put it back it up? Here's a few of last night's highlights.

Here's mom looking healthy and happy! What a beautiful sight that is!
And my dad surveying the bartenders and making sure they are doing an adequate job.
The bartenders are usually The Man and The Brother-In-Law, but pretty much anyone who wanders back there can have the job.

Like this favorite fellow of mine. We have way too many pictures like this I'm afraid. They will come back to haunt us. I have no doubt.
The sister won the first game of Left Right Center and was fairly pleased with herself about it. The Brother appears to be trying to bit off a finger.
The Girl won the second game with a come out of nowhere last minute move.
And my godfather solved both of these bar puzzle games one right after the other. He actually got five of them before the evening was over but other people had to mess with them before I could get photographic proof.

But the best part of the party is seeing the family I only get to see on Christmas Eve. It ends up being a mini family reunion with lots of kisses and long hugs.

Merry Christmas to all three of you! I hope your Christmas season is full of beautiful moments!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Following the paper trail

We recycle quite a bit around here. Curbside recycling takes away the plastic, glass, aluminum and steel. We set out one big blue bag every other week with all of that.

We save all of the cardboard boxes that we acquire in a spot in the basement until the mountain reaches a critical mass. Then they get flattened and take a ride to the cardboard recycling bin a few blocks away. You might remember an earlier post about me finally giving up saving cardboard. It's still a difficult thing for me to do.

We have a bag under the kitchen sink where we collect all of our dead batteries from various gizmos. When that bag gets full enough (or breaks open and spills batteries everywhere) we take it up to the library where they have a collection bucket for them.

Old clothes go to Goodwill. Household knick-knacks go there as well if they don't sell on Ebay first. The Man and The Boy have a big pile of found metal in the backyard that they haul up to the salvage place for cash.

But this post today is about paper. The thing that we are most successful at recycling is paper. No one is more devoted to recycling paper than we. Every sheet, scrap, envelope, ad and magazine goes into our paper recycling bin.

Our recycling bin is a good sized box. I'm not exactly sure how long it takes us to fill it but it's not very long. Then it gets to the point where it's overfilled and someone says, "We really need to get to paper recycling." And then some more time passes and the paper has started an annex in a bag beside the bin and someone else might say, "We HAVE GOT to get to paper recycling."

This time around was the absolute worst. We have never been so lax in taking the paper away. It's been weeks of us saying that it had to go but not being taken. Finally today it looked like this:

It's the overfilled bin and FIVE extra bags!

The Man and I finally packed it all into the van and drove it one block to the paper recycling bin.

The schools in the city have a yearly contest on paper collecting. The school with the most tonnage by the end of the year wins cash from the recycling people. Our favorite school wins every year. I like to think that the paper we collect at home is the the factor that pushes the total over the top.
After we did this little chore, we went to vote. Our mayor is facing a recall and the special election is today. The wording on the ballot said, "Shall he be allowed to remain as mayor?" Pretty grim way to say it. By this time tomorrow we will know if he shall or not.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sketchy Santas

Enjoy this little montage I found. The song is a perfect fit with the pictures. The baby who turns and looks around 0:59 is The Girl's favorite. The Santas wearing masks are way too creepy for me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Cards

Have you ever see a person at the post office who appears to be doing all their paperwork for the whole year right there in the lobby? They got piles of stuff spread from one end to the other? They are shuffling though things and mumbling to themselves? That was me getting my Christmas cards ready. I had them almost good to go except for adding the picture. But instead of picking up my pictures andthen doing it all at home, I consolidated my trips and put everything together on that long blue counter at the post office. I even took the one chair they provide. I couldn't have the entire counter though because there was someone else doing the same thing only they were adding stamps. Luckily, my envelopes were self-seal. I would have really put on a show if I have to lick them all closed.

I had to go to another holiday program at a different school yesterday. That's four shows in one December which ties a previous record. This show did not have the band and orchestra unfortunately. This was only kindergartners and first graders. It involved lots of props and interpretative dance and was winter themed instead of Christmas. Mostly the show focused on the music teacher trying to explain the pieces intermixed with her trying to hush the crowd. Strange show all the way around.

Yesterday was my last work day of the year. The phone rang this morning and I just let it go. The zombies are getting just to squirrelly to deal with. Besides that The Girl and Boy are on some funky midterm schedule that involves them coming home halfway through the day. I'd rather be home with them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Too long and rambling to name

When I woke up this morning the house was so quiet. The kids were catatonic. The Man was out teaching thirteenth graders. A perfect time to sit and blog. It occurred to me that I've been blogging less since I started on Facebook. I could probably graph it out and see an immediate and obvious correlation. Maybe later. And just for me. I won't make you suffer through that.

After I pondered over where the graph paper might be and some colored pencils, it then occurred to me that my blog readers and my FB friends don't overlap. You are one or the other. I might have a few FB friends who occasionally stop by here if they have absolutely nothing else in the entire scope of their life to do, but not many. And the three of you are not on Facebook. So there it is.

(But just so you don't feel bad, my devoted blogosphere-ites, I don't update my status on FB that often either. Twice a week max. I'm in short supply all over.)


If you'll remember last year, I gave myself permission to blow off Christmas cards. Seems they were just that one straw too many. Now I'm not sure what my problem was. I whipped out those cards in one night thanks to the magic of pre-printed labels. But they haven't gone out yet because my choice of the Christmas picture got nixed by the girl. Nixed big time. Her idea of the picture would be a one where she and The Boy would be doing something bad and we would caption it with something along the lines of they chose to be naughty this year. My suggestion was trying to break into a car. There suggestion was breaking into a safe.

Awhile back I wrote about finding my little safe and the miraculous way I remembered my combination. Their idea was to dress up in black, get flashlights and get a picture of them being caught trying to crack it.

This type of picture is exactly as complicated to take as you can imagine. Here's some of our attempts, mostly at trying to get the lighting right.

There are literally dozens of pictures like these and none of them are even close to what they want to achieve. I'm giving them this weekend to either come up with a better plan or perfect this one. If not on Monday I'm sending out the picture I originally planned on.

Marco has been sick. He got sick the day after I spent the day shampooing the living room carpet. He got very, very sick in both possible ways all over my clean carpet. I'll admit I cried.

But he didn't seem sick. He was acting exactly like himself. Obnoxious, loud and annoying. He was eating and drinking and had a cold nose. We figured it must have just been something he ate and it was over.

The next morning, the same present waited for me by the Christmas tree. And the same dog was not acting as sick at all. The mystery grew.

Morning three Marco left us no late night gifts. It was over?

Morning four, no, not over. Worse than ever. Time to call the vet.

The diagnosis? Roundworms! Isn't that charming! Medicine and a shot for Marco and drops for the cats, just to be safe. (The cat medicine was banana flavored. On purpose. Why would they do that?) Since the late night decorating has stopped, I guess he is cured.

The vet went through all the ways that Marco could have caught roundworms but they all involved being around other dogs, which he hasn't. We have no idea why this has happened. Is it possible to catch roundworms from raccoons or squirrels? We've got plenty of those. Anyway, I'm going out to re-rent the carpet shampoo machine.

I've had to sit through three Christmas programs in the past week as part of my zombie duty. Three programs in three different schools. You could say I was just unlucky, but this happens every year. Teachers ditch on program day.

Winter programs always involve trotting out the band and orchestra. At the first school (we'll call it Tolerable School), both the band and the orchestra were just terrible. It was painful and the only solace was that it was a very short program. The instructors made excuses that they had only been playing for seven weeks and this was as far as they got. Understandable, but still torturous. Two days later I had to sit through another program at a different school. Let's call it Miserable School. This time different instructors started out by explaining that their groups had also only been meeting for seven weeks. I braced myself.

In the end, both the band and orchestra at Miserable considerably outplayed the ones at Tolerable. They played the exact same tiny songs but Miserable had better control and sound. They also seemed happier at Miserable than at Tolerable. I'm handing this one to the instructors. The ones at Miserable really seemed into their zombies and were very excited to be there. The ones at Tolerable were phoning it in. Yay for good teachers!
The Man is home and the kids are up. What? Hungry? No clean clothes? The cat did what?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas Tree Day '09

Today is Christmas Tree Day. We are celebrating it one day early this year since the actual date lands on a Saturday and the kids threw a fit. Getting out of school for half a day is a large part of the magic of Christmas Tree Day.

This morning I started thinking about all the past Christmas Tree Days. This will be our seventeenth tree sacrificed to the idea of jolly hollyness. We've had all kinds of weather for this adventure. Warm, shirt sleeve days. Knee-high snow. Sloppy, shoe-sucking mud. Toe numbing cold. And two years ago, we had to drive home in a blizzard. The one thing we didn't have was a camera with us every year. I only remembered to capture the day five times over the years. So I present to you a truncated history of Christmas Tree Day subtitled The Man and his Conquered Foe...



And today.
Let the merry times begin!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

On the first day of December

  • Had a fight with my label making program-- and won
  • Chauffeured my brother to school
  • Rented a carpet cleaner
  • Went out to lunch with The Man. Luchitas. The Best.
  • Went to town on the living carpet
  • Chauffeured my brother back home
  • Taught the carpet a thing or two more about clean vs. dirty
  • Picked up my own children from school
  • Gave the carpet the what for and the how come and the why not
  • Decided that the family could fend for themselves with leftovers for dinner
  • Took the carpet cleaner upstairs to frighten my bedroom carpet clean
  • Ran a large pile of teenagers all over town to their various things
  • Enjoyed a nice glass of wine in my very clean house