Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

I know it is New Year's Eve and I should be preparing resolutions...

But I've been busy. Doing what? I don't know. But it's been busy.

I'm mulling over my resolution list and I'll get back to you...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sometimes you get it right

Christmas did come and it was good. We had a great time Christmas Eve at Marna's and Pa's house. The boys were spoiled rotten and the grandparents loved the numerous framed photo collages of our children that they received as gifts. They are good sports that way.

The best part may have been making my mother cry (in a good way. not the usual way...). We did it by accident.

It started with one brother who did not get our mother a gift so he called another brother to bail him out. The second brother called his sister (me) to complain about it... and that's when I remembered that I did the purchasing for Christmas last year for Brother No. 1. And I think I didn't buy the right thing so I tell Brother No. 2 what I think I should have bought.

He thinks it's  a great idea and heads to the mall. Through multiple phone conversations, phone photos and internet searches, we manage to find a cross necklace much like the one my mom had years ago that she lost (and was heartbroken over). We all pitched in and a great present was purchased -- on Christmas Eve even.

Our mom opened it and started to cry, "It's my cross..."

That's when we all started blubbering. Not a dry eye in the house, as they say...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

We've just spent the last 2 hours wrapping furiously. Santa has a procrastination issue. He's in therapy for that.

We wrapped the gifts from us. We wrapped the gifts from the dogs. We wrapped gifts to the dogs (I apologize to the cat people I mocked previously). We wrapped gifts from Santa (in special paper with special bows and special tags. We are thorough.)

While I have several nasty paper cuts and there was an incident with the new-fangled paper cutter, I'm giddy. Santa came tonight and Christmas comes tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bad boys

So I'm thinking up chores for the kids. That's what happens when you don't behave at Pa's house.

My Dad uses a walker so he can't really catch them. We have to rely on respect and fear.

They need to respect their Pa, and they need to FEAR what will happen if they don't. We aren't the beating types so we find chores... lots of chores....

Vacuuming the stairs is always a good chore. I hate doing it and so do they... it's a win-win. Folding laundry is nice, especially towels and socks. They can't really mess those up. 

Currently, they are changing the sheets on their beds and vacuuming upstairs. After they struggle trying to get that fitted sheet on and I've had my tea, I might help them out.

The bathrooms could use a wipe down too... or maybe the front walk needs a sweep... darn it, I already did the dishes...

Somewhere in the back of my mind I think they will appreciate the work Mom does every day, but the rest of my brain knows better.

Stop the kissing

Jack: "Mom, what's mistletoe?"

Me: "It's a plant. At Christmas time you hang some and if you are caught under the mistletoe, you get a kiss."

I attempt to kiss him, but he artfully dodges it.

Jack: "I've got to warn Neil."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas is coming ...

Good Morning! 5 days and counting till Christmas.... I woke up yesterday with a cold, and then almost no voice this morning after last night's football game. Yahoo. This is going well.

Have I done any Christmas shopping? A little. When did I think I would finish? 

Have I made Christmas cookies? A few, but they have been eaten.

Have I cleaned up the house? Clearly not.

Have I made those handmade ornaments? Yeah. Not gonna happen.

Have I wrapped anything? Mailed Christmas cards? Shopped for Christmas dinner? Taken the kids to look at lights? Visited Santa?

Have I knitted myself a new scarf? Seriously, I just made that up. But I'm cranky and beating myself up.

I'm going to forage my way through the kitchen, tossing debris and cleaning up what's been piled up then I'm gonna mess it up again with freshly baked goods. Then I'll probably collapse on the couch and I will be exactly where I started (but I'll have cookies so that's a step forward).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shout out for Comet

Neil loves Comet. You know, the reindeer.

He cheers when he hears Comet's name at the beginning of the song "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

Of course by the end of that song, he's complaining that Rudolph gets all the credit. Why isn't there a Comet song? Where's Comet's song? He does a good job too.

I can't tell you how many times I have had to listen to Neil's version of Comet the Red Nosed Reindeer...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Neil: "Hey Mom! I've got a joke for you."

Me: "OK."

Neil: "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Me: "I don't know. Why?"

Neil: "To get to the other slide."

He then dissolves into laughter... "the other slide. He likes that one better. Don't you get it Mom?"

Oh, I get it. Wait till you're old enough to get it, my man.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

True tales of trees past

Oh, Christmas tree how I love you. How I’m willing to torture family members to get you...
This year was no different (This post is for you Ken)...

We finally made it to the lot on Sunday. I was feeling antsy. I need a tree. I need a good tree, a perfectly shaped tree, one that is about 7 feet 6 inches tall and about 5 to 6 feet wide at the bottom. I am specific in my tree needs. This is the maximum amount of Christmas tree I can fit into our living room. We’ve lived here almost 14 years and hard experience has brought me to this knowledge (and my husband tries desperately to keep me in line).

I have purchased a 14 footer and stuck it in the entrance way of the house -- the only place with a high enough ceiling once Dean removed the hanging light-- but the ornaments blow off every time you open the front door. And it wasn’t easy having to go through the kitchen every time you wanted to go to the living room. And when you sat on the couch you could only see just over half of the tree.

My mother refuses to shop for a tree with me. My brothers mock it. My friends tell stories of times they have been caught up in it.

The aforementioned Ken used to keep himself and his truck available when he knew we were tree shopping. It was just easier that way when he had to come rescue us and our tree. Ken has moved to Colorado so it takes a little more commitment on his part.

I have been offered 20 bucks and a tree to leave a tree lot. I know a good deal. I took it. That tree was a beautiful Scottish pine.

We’ve had Nordmam pines, Fraser firs, Grand firs, Noble firs, Monterey pines and the dependable Douglas fir.

There was the year I bought three trees. Dean returned the first one (yes, they will give you a refund). The second we gave to a friend. It was a beautifully shaped tree but too skinny. I thought I could live with it, but I couldn’t. I was miserable. When our friend Art told me he trimmed three inches from the top, I nearly cried. I’m still a little upset.

The year I was offered cash to leave a tree lot was the first year Dean (and Ken) went with me to get a tree. Poor man. He had no idea what he was getting into.

The tree was for my family’s home. I was just home from Prague. We got the cash and the tree and headed home. This was before they put the stand on the tree for you so my mom handed Dean the stand and wished him luck. She retreated to the kitchen.

My lazy brothers stood in the kitchen with my mother laughing. They knew what Dean must have just been through at the lot (looking at tree after tree after tree after tree in search of the perfect one). Being just a boyfriend, Dean was low man on the totem pole and my brothers were enjoying the torture.

When Dean asked for something to whittle the tree trunk down a little to fit it into the tree stand, my mother handed him a steak knife.

He gallantly worked at it for an hour or so before he got the tree in the stand and upright.

Meanwhile Ken had planted himself on the couch and my father was giving him beers. Lots of beers. Pretty soon my dad and Ken were laughing like old buddies, slapping each other on the back, and my dad had nicknamed Ken “Fast Kenny.” He promised him his own engraved mug and a permanent spot on the couch.

My dad kept saying,”Joi, I really like Fast Kenny. You should go out with him.”

Thanks Dad, but I think my boyfriend who is sitting on the floor whittling our Christmas tree with a steak knife might object.

Why did Dean not run away?

Our first Christmas tree as a married couple written up in the local paper.

We went to the local cut-down-your-tree lot. We wandered around this huge field of trees. It was like heaven. Tree after tree after tree available for inspection. I asked friends to stand in front of potential trees until I found the perfect one.

It was a beauty. Only thing was we didn’t really think about the size. We were young and in love. We had just gotten married and returned from a honeymoon in Italy. We weren’t seeing anything straight.

We cut down that tree and we lugged it to the booth to pay. And then when we went to put it on the car ...

We drove a Civic. We tossed that tree up there and that’s when we got an inkling of what was to come: the tree was longer than the car. It hung off the front. It hung off the back.

Hmmmm. Did this stop us? No. The Civic is a compact. How long could it really be? 9 feet?

We lugged the tree up a flight of stairs to our condo (thank you again Ken). We put it in a stand. It almost touched our 14 foot ceiling. Almost touched, no room for a star, but it made it into the house. Yahoo!

Then we started to cut the netting off...

Whoooooooooosh! The netting tore and the tree limbs sprang out. Tim swears a squirrel ran out.

The tree reached from one end of the 8 -foot sliding door to the other end. It was wall-to-wall tree in the living room. It was AWESOME.

And then it fell over.

Thank God there were no small children or animals around. They would have been crushed.

We tried another stand and another stand. Eventually, we nailed a stand to a giant piece of plywood and anchored the tree to the walls to keep it upright.

We decorated only the front of the tree. We couldn’t get around it, and truthfully, we couldn’t afford any more ornaments.

To get the ornaments at the top of the tree, Dean had to get on Ken’s shoulders. Apparently, a ladder wasn’t one of the wedding gifts.

Which brings me to this year: The boys really wanted to cut down their tree. So we carefully picked a tree, noting its height and width (I must stay it is almost exactly 7 foot 6 inches by 5 feet). Weren’t we smart?

Not so much. My husband who had surgery just a month ago starts sawing and sawing and sawing...

The kids and I try to help, but we can’t even get the saw to budge. Dean realizes he doesn’t want to include a trip to the ER with saw wounds so he takes over again.

He’s sawing and sawing. Are we sure the blade is even remotely sharp?

It’s dark by the time we decide to tackle the tree. Yes, tackle the tree.

Dean lined up and knocked it flat. Then Neil jumped on it. I had heart palpitations. Not because I thought they would get hurt, I just didn’t want the tree damaged.

We got it home without incident. Even got it standing in the living room with lights and ornaments and ribbon.

The tree is perfect. It smells fabulous. And the house feels like Christmas.

Ah, Southern California

It was freezing this morning! And I don't mean California "freezing" (you know, when the temperature hits 60 degrees).

I mean FREEZING -- as in we couldn't open the van doors because they were frozen shut (thank you association sprinklers that I have no control over and I'm bitter about it). FREEZING -- as in the hose was a block of ice. FREEZING -- as in the neighbor's car wouldn't start.

FREEZING -- as in I could barely get a patch of the front windshield thawed out enough to see so I rolled down the driver's side window (no small feat because that was frozen too), stuck my head out and drove the kids, the neighbor and her son to school. I think I scared the neighbor. She seemed VERY relieved to see the van thawed out some after we walked the kids in to class and came back.

I'm drinking hot coffee and wishing I had made sugar cookies yesterday. I'm pretty sure the neighbor is having something in her coffee to calm her nerves.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh Tannenbaum

We are finally getting a tree today! I hope anyway. This has been a slow-getting-started Christmas. Usually the house is completely decorated. The tree is up and shining beautifully, as well as taking up half the available space in the living room.

There's Christmas play practice today and a CIF championship football game to attend in San Jan Capistrano (Go Tartans!), but I think in between is tree-getting time... big, fat, green, Christmasy tree getting time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Working it

Want to know what kind of a day I have had? Bet you can tell from what I have allowed my children to eat today. Let's use Neil as an example:

Neil started the day eating the leftover frosting (maybe two teaspoonfuls -- I'm sober enough to realize I should justify myself ever so slightly). Then he moved on to scrambled eggs and bacon.

We ended today with plain pasta and garlic bread made from leftover hot dog rolls (that's the kind of cooking I learned from my mother. But you should try it. It's pretty awesome, especially when it's the only bread available.).

I have worked in Neil's class, manned the school book fair, taken Neil to a birthday party at a bounce house, made dinner, practiced a speech with a kindergardener, created a tri-fold brochure, helped my father plan Christmas Eve dinner, thrown in a load of laundry, washed days worth of dishes ...

I'm a do-er. A tired do-er...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Really, really it's been 14 years since the husband and I said "I do." Well, we still do. 

It'll be an exciting dinner of take out with the kids. I'm picking a kissing movie to watch. Neil is protesting, but I refuse to watch "Clone Wars" again and it's an absolute NO to "Elf" for the third time this week. It's sad when "The Princess Bride" is your best option. As you wish...

We are setting the table, lighting candles and the boys will be mortified.

Neil has already asked me twice if I "HAVE" to kiss Daddy. "Couldn't you just skip it?"

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I found the person who will get the cat card... her license plate says "Cat Lady" and she lives on my street...

Monday, December 01, 2008

I'm allergic to cats

Now, I know people have serious relationships with their animals (I will repeat: "It's OK to love your animal, but it is not OK to LOVE your animal.). But I think the situation might have gone too far ...

I was in Hallmark this afternoon looking for a group gift card. It's amazing how many niches there are in the card market. You can get a very specific card for your dentist, for your "service provider," your child care provider, and just about any other contributor to your life. I'm not sure why your average holiday card wouldn't work for your dentist, but maybe you are closer to your dentist than I am to mine.

Then I saw it... the ultimate niche card ... the card you could buy for your cat. Yes, your cat. No dog one. Plenty of cards FROM the dog or the cat (I had no idea they were big card givers). But this one was for the cat. I would have assumed the person who needs a card for their cat would have made one. From scratch. With photos of you together. And dipped in cat nip.

Dear person who needs a Christmas card to give to their cat:

This is not healthy. Either the cat is holding you hostage to its demands or you need more friends... friends who are not felines. Friends who would tell you not to buy your cat a card. The cat can't read. And you reading your card to your cat, that's weird...