It’s All Relatives – Christmas Edition

English: Photo of Dr.Oz at the Time 100 Gala.

Image via Wikipedia

This was originally my Thanksgiving post from November 23, 2011.  I haven’t been blogging long enough to truly “re-post” anything but for those of you who might be on the edge of pulling your hair out or those of you who might have missed this early post, here’s a slightly updated version:

In a recent Facebook post, Dr. Oz cautioned readers to beware of the sodium in your holiday foods because they could raise your blood pressure and “negatively affect your health.”  Well, Dr. Oz, it ain’t just Aunt Edna’s Mac n Cheese that’s raising blood pressures at all these family gatherings.  Often times it’s Aunt Edna!  Or Uncle John or Mother-in-law or Sister-in-law . . . come to think of it most of the time it is “Someone-in-law”.

Have you ever heard that verse, “It’s the most, wonderful time of the year” and thought “yeah buddy, you don’t have to spend it with my family!”  If you haven’t then yea for you.  Probably time for you to leave this blog and go find one about how to turn the simple act of wrapping a present into a 4 hour ordeal which includes weaving your own ribbon.  This ain’t that blog.

When you Google “Families and Holidays” the first several results are along the lines of tips to reduce family “burdens” and “stress” around the holidays.  Doesn’t something about that seem off?  Aren’t these supposed to be the people you hold most dear?  Then why do they irritate the living fool out of us?  I remember reading an interesting article 20-25 years ago either in Seventeen or Cosmopolitan magazine.  It was geared more towards romantic relationships but the part that stuck with me was that the reason someone could exasperate you to the point of insanity was simply because they mattered so much to you.  You don’t spend as much time annoyed at someone you don’t care about.   This person (or these people) are so important to you and you love them so very much that every little annoying thing they do can infuriate you.  That explains a lot, but doesn’t exactly warm the heart.

Back when “Home Improvement” with Tim Allen was on, I didn’t watch it regularly but I did see a Christmas episode when one of the kids wanted to go on a ski trip instead of spending the holiday with his family.  Tim Taylor, the Dad, comes home to find him sneaking out while the rest of the family was at church.  Tim says, “Christmas is not about being with people you like, it’s about being with your family!” 

I love that line!  Because the truth is we don’t often like all the members of our family (or our spouse’s family), but they are important to us.  And truthfully, more important than a lot of people we call friends.  It’s hard because most of us spend much more of our time at work with co-workers and bosses and people who “need” us than we do our families these days.  But if I die tomorrow, while I’m sure several people at work will miss me, within a few weeks they will hire someone else to take my place.  My family isn’t going to hire another Mom, Wife, Daughter, Niece or Aunt. 

So, if you are headed home for Christmas, Google all those helpful hints about dealing with family stress and take deep breaths when Aunt Edna comments that your turkey is extra dry this year, or when Uncle John has a little too much holiday wine and starts snoring in front of the TV, or when your mother-in-law corrects your children’s table manners then makes a comment not completely under her breath about “blame it on their mother”.  Put on your rose-colored glasses and maybe invest in a good pair of ear-plugs.  Relax and enjoy the family drama – heck maybe even blog about it.  There are people throughout our country who are all alone this Christmas and they would give anything to be where you are.  There are soldiers in Afghanistan, and places we don’t even know about, who would love to experience the holiday with their irritating, overbearing family.  We have the distinct honor and privilege of being with ours.  And it’s not all bad, there’s Aunt Edna’s Mac n Cheese after all.

Recipe for Mac N Cheese

I’ll be gone for a few days for Christmas but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to blog about when I return.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Merry Christmas, and Season’s Greetings

I’ve seen several postings on Facebook this holiday season adamantly opposing using the phrase “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”.  These same folks are usually angrily declaring that they are Christians and will from here forth refer to this season as Christmas!  This is usually followed with the phrase of “Put Christ back in Christmas” or “He’s the Reason for the Season.”  Of course then you are told that if you are a Christian you will copy and post to your status.  Doesn’t it seem as though these people who are fervently trying to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas might have lost a little bit of it?

I would like to heartily wish every single one of you reading this post a Very Merry Christmas.  If you do not celebrate Christmas, I doubt my wish offends you.  I believe you take my wish in the spirit in which it was intended as any reasonable person would. 

courtesy of some of my angry facebook friends

I apologize for not publishing the best posts lately, I’ve been a little distracted getting ready to celebrate with my family.  I hope wherever you are and whatever you are celebrating you have a wonderful, safe time.  I will be taking a few days off to spend with family – hubby, Tink and the extended members of it – and I’m sure I’ll be good and angry and ready to post more ramblings after the holidays.  Until then, Merry Christmas AND Season’s Greetings and thank you so very, very much for taking the time to read my goofy little blog.

Thank you Maxine.com (I very well may be considered one of those dim bulbs!)

Distractions – A Post About . . . Wait, What?

A Green Planet water bottle, made from vegetab...

It all starts with the water bottle (Image via Wikipedia)

I am easily distracted.  I most often notice this when I am sitting on the couch and realize my water bottle is empty so I get up to refill my water bottle.  As I walk to the kitchen I think, I might as well go to the bathroom while I’m up.  On the way to the bathroom I see the light on in the laundry room and fold a load of laundry I had forgotten about earlier in the day.  I take Tink’s clothes to her room. 

Tink’s sitting on her bed and I ask if she has everything ready for school tomorrow.  She replies “Yes and oh by the way I need you to sign my Algebra test”.  I see the grade and we have a 10 minute discussion about paying more attention in class and avoiding distractions.  (ironic right?)  Finishing our conversation I go to leave her room and then she reminds me I need to sign the test. 

This remind me, I need to pray for these kinds of grades (image by graphicsfactory.com)

So I go to my office to get a pen.  While I’m in my office I see the message light blinking on my phone.  I go ahead and listen to the voicemail.  It’s my mom telling me when my sister and her kids are coming in for a visit and she’s not begging or anything but it sure would be great if we could make it too.  So I leave my office and go check the calendar on the refrigerator.  That date should work.  I ask my husband if we have anything to do that afternoon.  He says no.  I type an email to my mom telling her we’ll be there, then I sit down on the couch and reach for my water bottle.  <sigh>  I get up and start the process all over again.

My friend Sandy mentioned the other day that she’s recently been practicing yoga and meditating and she asked me if I’d ever tried it.  Well, I do some yoga but I don’t really try to meditate.  When I meditate it turns into a to-do list in my brain and then I just start feeling anxious to get all the things on my to-do list ta-done.  Then I wind up more agitated than I was before I tried to relax.

Yoga postures halasana

I need to go to the bank, iron my pants, make Christmas cookies, call Mom . . . (Image via Wikipedia)

My Aunt Mary Alice, God rest her soul, used to say she did the same thing when she prayed.  These days I find myself doing that too.  “Dear Lord, forgive me for my sins, help Tink continue to grow strong and smart . . .”  Then . . . “What am I going to have for dinner tomorrow night?  Maybe chicken and rice.  Wait, do I have rice?  I have wild rice but do I have regular white rice?  Oh yeah, we need to eat that broccoli I bought last week.  Why didn’t we eat that?  Oh, because we had hot dogs and . . . wait . . .”  I pause just a moment, “Dear Lord forgive me for my sins and maybe help me concentrate just a little bit more?”

"Heaven Help Me" (image by graphicsfactory.com)

For another view on distractions that are more productive than mine, check out “Thieves and Poachers!” by littlesundog!

Camel Feet Care and Concern

Finally, help for the Dromedary owner (image from National Geographic)

Do you remember my post from a week or so ago:  “A Camel, A Donkey and Golf Cart“?  It was about a local Christmas Parade and I mentioned a nativity scene in it.  Ok so the nativity scene was a little perilous for the plastic Baby Jesus but still there was a lot of info in that post.  A lot of stuff about convertibles, candy, cheerleaders and beauty queens, but for some reason a lot of people out in Google-opolous have been finding my blog due to their concern about the feet of camels.  Specifically the toes of said Dromedary’s feet.  (Dromedary = Arabian, single hump camel.  Heaven help me with the Google searches that will find this blog with “hump” and “camel” in it.)

Who knew that camel’s feet were such a concern?  I mean are there a lot of camels walking around with ingrown toenails or something?  Because a whole lot of people each day are searching about it.  I had no clue that so many people were in charge of the care of these animals.  I envision a group of men wrapped up in their white robes in the Arabian Desert searching the internet via their snazzy new tablet computer to try to find a remedy for their poor animal’s sore feet.  And instead they find my blog which was not helpful at all.  Just a story about a small town parade.  Imagine their disappointment!

Cover of January, 1915 National Geographic Mag...

Image via Wikipedia

So maybe all those people diligently searching about ailments that affect the feet of their pet camels will benefit instead from this post.  I didn’t find a lot of information specifically about the feet of camels; however, if you need some information about camels, go hereNational Geographic, where I found all this helpful information, is a resource for all things wild and woolly and sometimes creepy-crawly.  Isn’t it funny to think that when we were kids we looked through these same magazines in our elementary school libraries to see the naked savages?  Silly kids! 

I’m just happy I can be of help to all those camel owners.  Now their desperate searches will be rewarded and they can receive exactly the kind of response they deserve!  No need to thank me Camel Caretakers – you’re welcome!

So Much For Banker’s Hours

image via graphicsfactory.com

So it’s 8:30 pm and I’m just sitting in front of the TV watching Pawn Stars and I hear a faint ringing.  [Hey – Pawn Stars is on the History channel so don’t judge me!]  I turned my cell phone down during our meeting at the bank earlier in the day and I almost didn’t hear it.  I see it’s a local exchange but not a number I have saved in my phone and therefore must be a wrong number so I didn’t answer.  Besides, they are trying to figure out how much an Olympic Torch from the 1984 Olympics should cost – this is riveting stuff!

Pawn Stars

Image via Wikipedia

As my phone rings for a second time I reluctantly answer it.  I suppose it could be an emergency but most likely a wrong number.  I flash back to a time when cell phones were not as common as they are now and occasionally I would answer a late night call and hear something like “Hey baby, watch you doin’?”  Now those were WRONG numbers!

Anyway, I answer and the nice professional lady says, “Angry?”  Wow – what do you know, this call is for me!  “Hi, this is Lisa from the bank.  Do you have a moment to chat?”  Oh holy crap!  What could have gone so terribly wrong with our account that they are calling us at 8:32 pm??  “Um . . .” I stuttered, “Sure?”  I mean what the heck do you tell the BANK when they call you at NIGHT?  “No, I’m waiting to see how much this idiot gets for his Olympic Torch so he can go buy surf boards”?  (I just thought that line I didn’t say it to Lisa – she might judge me)  Lisa goes on to say that she’s ‘just working night and day lately’.  She’s calling me at 8:32 pm so evidently she really is.  Nothing was wrong, she just had a few questions so she could get our refinance paperwork started.  I guess when interest rates drop to 3.25%, Refinance Specialists don’t get to work banker’s hours.

Interestingly enough when we were AT the bank earlier in the day, discussing a 10 year loan and what our plans were for paying for our daughter’s college education I said to my husband, “Do you realize that in 10 years when we pay off the house, Tink will have graduated from college?”  We just sat there staring at each other.  That was a very sobering thought.  Neither of us could bring ourselves to imagine a world in which Tink was not living in our home with us.  It was a few hours later before it dawned on me that we could only HOPE that in 10 years the house is paid off , Tink has a 4-year degree in something other than Parks, Recreation and Tourism, a good paying job and her own place to live.  Equally as horrifying is if in 10, 15 or 20 years Tink, her husband Bubba and 4 children ARE living with us.

Anyway, bankers hours now last until at least 8:41 pm (when our conversation ended) and I’ve got to be prepared to write checks for college tuition in about 4.5 years.  I suppose I should tell Tink that if she’s looking for a 9 to 5 job when she grows up she should probably go ahead and scratch Banker off her list.

PS – It turns out there were quite a few 1984 Olympic Torches and it was only worth about $1200.  You know you were wondering how that turned out.

Sarajevo 1984 olympic torch, Olympic museum La...

1984 Olympic Torch Image via Wikipedia

Just How Comfortable Do We Need to Be?

I like to be comfortable.  Sometimes I’m convinced this is a part of Middle Age, but when I think back, I’ve always wanted to be comfortable.  My biggest complaint about going to church on Sunday mornings was having to get dressed up in itchy, scratchy dresses and tights and shoes that pinched my feet.  I still have an extreme aversion to wearing itchy, scratchy clothes, panty-hose and shoes that pinch my feet.

See? She looks like her shoes hurt!

I am lucky enough to be able to work from home when I’m not traveling.  So most Mondays and most Fridays I am working from my home office and the dress code is always casual in my office.  We haven’t reached the age of video phones in my work world yet so no one knows whether I’m wearing my power suit or gym clothes and the gym clothes are far more comfortable.  My co-workers and I are really glad there is no video conferencing yet.  I’ve attended conference calls with wet hair, half dressed, the make-up of one eye complete but not the other, you get the picture.  By the way, there is nothing more disturbing than having one eye made up and not the other.  What if I forget and actually go somewhere like that or even just answer the door?  Can you imagine the UPS man’s horror? 

"Um, your eyes . . . . they . . . here's your package ma'am."

One of my co-workers, Rita, who also works from home, commented to me a few months ago (via a non-video phone of course) that it was nearly noon and she was still in her work out clothes.  Rita then said, “Just to be clear, I don’t actually ‘work out’ in my work out clothes, they’re just what I wear to run my kids to daycare and any errands before I get my shower and get ready.”  Rita thought that she was the only person who did this and was quite shocked when I told her I do the same thing.  Not only that, but go to the grocery store any weekday morning and take a look around.  Every woman (and man for that matter) there is wearing exercise apparel.  I get up every day and put on my work out gear.  Several days a week I actually DO jog a few miles on the treadmill, climb half a mountain on the stair-stepper and lift some light hand weights, but lately I haven’t been doing so well with that.  My work out clothes just seem to mock me from the hamper as I do laundry.  I imagine them saying “We’re not even dirty, there’s no sweat on us why the hell are we in the dirty clothes pile?”  (I haven’t mention to other people that I imagine my clothes talking to me.  I think that’s one of the things the meds are supposed to be for.)

Really?? I mean really??

Anyway, sometimes I think I’m just a step or two away from being one of those people who never wear real clothes but just stay in my stretchy yoga / running capris and loose, comfy t-shirts or warm-up suits.  But there’s one thing I promise to myself, and to you, that I will never do.  I will never don Pajama Jeans!  Have you seen those commercials?  Just how lazy do you have to be to wear jeans that feel like pajamas?  Are these people blind because these things do NOT look like real jeans.  Real jeans are . . . well . . .  jeans!  They are made out of denim.  That’s what makes them jeans!  Besides, I saw Pajama Jeans on sale at CVS this weekend and they are $39.99!  For $39.99 you can get a very comfy work out suit with a jacket at Old Navy.  Of course when you start talking about work out gear at Old Navy it gets that commercial ringing through my head, “Don’t jiggle it, when you wiggle it!”  Have you seen that commercial?

Sorry, I get distracted easily.  That’s probably my next post.  Anyway, I will continue to be comfortable, often dressing in my sweats or work out gear and yoga pants, but I promise that the day I seriously consider Pajama Jeans, I will seek immediate medical attention.  Now I suppose I should go get on that treadmill since I’ve got my work out clothes on . . .

Conversation with a 5-year old

Near to heaven

Heaven? (Image via Wikipedia)

A wonderful blogger, WorryWart, posted The Long Story of How Liver Becomes Pâté a few weeks ago and it gave me the idea of posting this conversation that I recorded in my journal between my daughter and I from over 8 years ago.  WorryWart is a terrific blogger and I’m sure you will love her story if you haven’t already read it.  I hope you like mine.

To give you a little background, my husband’s father passed away in February 2001.  My daughter, Tink, was not quite 2 years old at the time.  She had a vague memory of her Papa, but this particular summer she seemed to be putting together that he was “missing”.  My husband, Tink and I were visiting my sister-in-law and her family and had just returned from visiting my parents.  Here is mine and Tink’s conversation from Sunday July 27, 2003 when she was 5 years old:

Tink Age 5 - Full of questions!

T= Tink    M = Me

T – Is Nana at the beach?

M – Yes

T – Who is with her?

M – Adam and June, Alicia and Jessie and Aunt Barbara.

T – Is Papa, well you know I have a Papa at Grandmama’s house and I used to have a Papa at Nana’s house?  Is he at the beach too?

M – No he’s not

T – Well where is he?

M – He’s in heaven

T – Why?

M – Because he passed away a while back when you were a baby.

T – You mean he died?

M – Yes

T – Why?

M – His heart stopped beating.

T – It just stopped?

M – Yes

T – You mean it stopped beeping? (I made a note that Tink clasped her hands over her chest and her eyes were very big.  She also thought at this age that hearts “beeped” instead of “beat”)

M – Yes

T – Maybe he got old and got dead ’cause that happens when you get old?

M – Sometimes, yes.

T – But you’re not old Mommy, you’re not old (she was shaking her head)

M – No baby, I’m not old.  (I’m not trying to compliment myself here, but to ease the mind of my child you understand)  I say I’m old sometimes but I’m not really old.

T – You say you’re old, but you’re not really old?

M – That’s right baby.

There was a short pause while her little brain tried to wrap itself around our conversation.  Then Tink narrowed her eyes and looked at me and said:

T – You mean you LIED????

Just so you know, our conversation pattern has not changed all that much 8 years later.  Enjoy the weekend folks!  I’ll be back on Monday with more random ramblings!