Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, Aunt Betty

In the morning after Thomas and Annamarie have opened their gifts and we have eaten our traditional Christmas cinnamon rolls, we will pack up the car and head to my parents' house in North Carolina. A trip to Grammy and Papa's is always loads o' fun, but we were especially looking forward to this one because Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill, who live in Georgia, were going to be there. Unfortunately Bill has been very sick due to complications of diabetes, and they aren't going to be able to make the drive after all.

Aunt Betty is my Dad's sister, and she never had children of her own, having married Bill at about the age I am now. My brothers and I adored Aunt Betty when we were kids (and still do). She worked for an airline and did a lot of traveling to places which seemed very exotic to us, like the time she took my grandparents on a very dignified trip to Israel.

My own first trip on an airplane was going from Charlotte to Atlanta with my Mamaw and Papaw to visit Aunt Betty. As pass riders, we were required to dress up to fly, which made the whole experience just that much more exciting.

My mom later worked for the same airline, and Aunt Betty would sometimes travel with us when my workaholic dad couldn't get away. Here we are in New York when I was around 14 years old, in this photo that was clearly taken by my youngest brother. Good job, Brett. I wish I this photo was of sufficient resolution that I could zoom in on the pink and green shoelaces in my Tretorns. I was a slave to The Preppy Handbook.

Please notice Aunt Betty's camera. My parents are not (NOT. AT. ALL.) picture-taking people, and I am fairly certain that no photos of my childhood would exist if Aunt Betty had not been around. I clearly inherited a love of travel and photography from Aunt Betty instead of getting my my mom's cooking and gardening genes, which missed me entirely.

Back in the seventies, Aunt Betty lived in an apartment, which seemed incredibly glamorous to me. I have told her that I remember her apartments in greater detail than I remember most of the houses we lived in, because she had so many fascinating items in her apartment, like a liquor cart with metal labels that hung around the necks of the bottles. She had styrofoam airplane models that hung from the ceiling and a board that you could stand on and do the twist, PLUS her apartment complex had a pool. There was nothing we looked forward to more than spending a weekend with Aunt Betty.

When I was about to turn 17, Aunt Betty took me to Acapulco, which was theretofore the coolest thing that had ever happened to me. OK, yes, my Mamaw and Papaw went too, but it was still the first time I had ever been outside the U.S. in my Ralph Lauren corduroy skirt and penny loafers, and I felt very grown-up and special especially when Aunt Betty let me drink margaritas by the infinity-edge pool at the hotel.

I could go on and on. I could tell you about her many trips to Korea to escort orphan babies home to their new families, or about how gently she always treated my grandmother despite Mamaw's often being pretty hard on her, but the bottom line is that my Aunt Betty is the salt of the earth. She is just good people, and she has survived breast cancer cheerfully and freaked out my children by taking off her wig, and now she is caring for her ailing husband, still cheerfully as far as I can tell. My children adore her as much as my brothers and I did at their ages, and I hope that somehow this post will convey to her just how much she will be missed today.

Although she is a terrible lurker (Aunt Betty, that's a person who reads but never posts comments), she is my blog's biggest fan, and it's just one of a million reasons that I love her. Merry Christmas, Betty and Bill. We know you are here in spirit.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Altered Cigar Box

This is another gift for an online friend. (Three of us did a handmade swap.) Making handmade things for people is scary, because you put so much work into it and then what if they think it's, as my friend Sandy says, "chumpy"?

Both of the other ladies in this swap make actual non-scrapping crafty things. The recipient of this box sent me a lovely thick, warm scarf, and the other participant makes cool hand-painted glass items. So I, with my scrappy paper gifts, feel a bit like the little drummer boy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Teacher Gifts

Sets of six of the cinnamon ornaments Annamarie and I made, with a bag topper I created digitally. I like them!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There's not enough Ruby on this blog

According to Google Analytics, my blog traffic is up over 7200% this week, and I am still getting about 200 views a day from Boo Mama's home tour. It's like crack cocaine! Or crystal meth, which I understand is the crack of the 21st century. I mentioned before that I was thinking up ways to keep the traffic up (because I want the visitors to get the most out of the average 36 seconds they're spending here). I was reminded of that awful news story about people watching a murder live online...or was that on CSI? Regardless, that seems a bit over the top. But maybe a live webcam of a boy in a cage? Ruby was puzzled and concerned about why Thomas was in her crate and wouldn't get out of the way so I could get a good picture of the captive.

(Oh, stop. He put himself in there.) She didn't like this idea much better.

As you can see, she is very high-strung and nervous.

Her many jobs around the home require constant vigilance, especially the 24-hour Squirrel Patrol.

Those pesky squirrels always sneak into our yard while Ruby is doing laundry. In this photo, she is carrying four socks and a bone. Earlier she also had a partially eaten tennis ball in there too. She is an excellent multi-tasker.

It's a dog's life.

All is merry and bright

That title really has nothing to do with the rest of this post at all. I am just really, really sleepy and that's all I am coming up with. I am trying to turn my night owl self into a morning person and stop staying up until 3AM, so I got up at 7:30 this morning and I am about to fall over. What will undoubtedly happen, though, is that I will get a second wind at 10:00 and find many many things that need doing right away and can't wait until tomorrow.

Anyway, thank you so much for your concern about my feather tree. It actually survived the fall quite well and I am sorry to have alarmed you. (This reminds me of sitting by the phone waiting to hear that my nephew, Ford, had been born. My mom finally called, sobbing hysterically, and said something that sounded like, "He's gone." I became hysterical too, shouting, "What happened?" My mom finally got a grip on herself and it turned out that she had actually been saying, "He's born," but for me thoughts of his birth will always have a slight chill of death about them. Thanks, Mom.)

Back to the tree, I straightened it out and replaced the broken ornaments with some of the cinnamon ornaments Annamarie and I made the other day. And, HEY! Now all is merry and bright.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lacing Card Project

I made this for an online friend as part of a handmade item swap. I chose this color combo because her living room is teal and red. Her taste is much more young and hip than mine, so I hope she doesn't absolutely hate this. If she does I hope she gives it back to me because I am really happy with how it came out. The photo mats are loosely adhered so she can replace them if the size doesn't match her photos. For some reason the photo looks really blurry here but if you click it, it's much clearer.

Because this is a gift, I actually finished the backs of the cards because the thread ends weren't pretty. I see that I need to redo the bottom one because the "x's" are a bit crooked.

Christmas Tour backlash

This is what happens when you get all cocky about your Christmas decorating skillz and having 56 comments on your blog in one day. I was walking through the dark kitchen in the middle of the night and tripped on a laundry basket which you might well wonder what that was doing in the kitchen anyway. I stumbled against the table that was holding my delightful feather tree, and you see the resulting carnage above.

My faithful reader Jean (she is totally a stalker; I don't even know her) sent me an email saying that I must be in heaven with all of the comments, and she was oh so right. It's a banner day here when I get three comments on a post, and since midnight Monday I have had hundreds of visitors thanks to Boo Mama's Christmas Tour.

I am bit concerned about what happens after I publish THIS post and return to my normal obscurity. Will I be plunged into depression and sit here drinking whiskey vodka a nice Riesling until next year's tour? Will I resort to desperate measures to attract more readers? I'm not sure what that would look like--posting naked pictures of my 43-year-old self would surely be counterproductive.

I'm going to go decorate more things. Back later.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bloggy Tour O' Homes


If this is your first visit, WELCOME! One of the best things that happened to me in 2008 was discovering Boo Mama's blog, so I am thrilled to be participating in the tour for the first time. If you're one of my (two?) regular readers, be sure to click on the button above, and head over to Boo Mama's to visit more bloggers' homes, but only after you've hung around here a while!

This Hoosier cabinet in my kitchen is one of my favorite things, filled with a few of my other favorite things.

This corner, under our kitchen TV, is not one of my favorite things because of the lovely black cords that hang down. Perhaps I should have painted them red or green to make them more festive.

This cool feather tree sits on a table in the middle of my kitchen.

Just inside the front door is a little saltbox village, one of my favorite new things.

And my other favorite furniture thing, which is red all year. The three angels on top are so cute with their brillo pad hair, and they came from the Wal Marts of all places, a few years back.

I love, love, love these cute little packages wrapped in vintage paper.

No, seriously, this is my favorite thing: the Jim Shore nativity my husband gave me two years ago. Most of the Santas in the Hoosier cabinet above are by Jim Shore too. Now that I think about it, it's maybe kind of strange that the Holy Family is being watched over by a vintage cookie cutter garland.

Last, and maybe least, is a banner that I made on the spur of the moment from scrapbooking paper. It hangs in what used to be our dining room and now houses my kids' homework desk and my 10-year-old daughter's Important Stuff, otherwise known as every blessed piece of paper ever to pass through her hands. Note that I did not photograph that. It is not festive.

Naturally I've got more photos, including one of our fairly run-of-the-mill Christmas tree, but I don't want to keep you too long. I so hope you'll come by again. I'm making Cracker Candy tonight, and if you've never tried it, you can't imagine how delicious this simple recipe is.

Cracker Candy

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
chopped nuts
saltine crackers

Line a jelly roll pan with foil. Arrange 40 saltine crackers in a single layer.

Bring sugar and butter to boil and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over crackers and spread with a spoon. Bake at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes. Watch closely to make sure it does not burn. Remove from oven and sprinkle on chocolate chips. Let stand to melt. Sprinkle on nuts, if desired. Spread and refrigerate. Break apart and serve.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lights and Music

Friday night we took the kids and our friend Sandy to GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond. Annamarie's "Gotcha Day" (anniversary of her adoption) is on December 15, and for the past few years we have celebrated it with a trip to "the lights" and dinner at Red Robin. We bundle up and traipse through the freezing cold oohing and ahhing at the beautiful lighted creations, then we get hot chocolate. The kids run through a maze of lights over and over (it's not much of a challenge to them anymore) and then we head into the conservatory to see the giant Christmas tree. This year it was decorated in a peacock theme with beautiful blues, greens and purples.

It was a nice celebration of our sweet girl's ninth Gotcha Day. What a long way she's come since that first Christmas with us.

She sang in church today with the children's choir, and she was by far the most enthusiastic participant.

Nine years ago tomorrow was one of the happiest days of my life. I love you, Ree Ree.

Christmas banner

Just a quick photo of the banner I was making in a previous post. This is in our former dining room, which now contains the kids' desk and not much else.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Christmas Checklist

* Christmas tree: Up and decorated since the weekend after Thanksgiving. Despite daily waterings, it is dropping needles at an alarming rate. I hope Santa won't injure himself on our pointy stick with ornaments.

* Handmade Christmas cards: Bought! And mailed! Except for a handful of special people for whom I really still want to make cards. (Read: "People who are also crafters and won't throw away my hard work.") I just hope I actually get them done and don't cause those people to cross me off their lists entirely.

* Shopping: DONE! Seriously, it is so amazing for me to have finished my shopping before December first this year that I can't believe it. I have to interject an amusing story here. Yesterday I told Annamarie to empty her bathroom trash can, and she decided to empty all the ones in the house. Late at night I was craving chocolate and I remembered that there were M&Ms in the bag of stocking stuffers I had bought. All of the stocking stuffers were in a Target bag that I had tied shut and set on top of the waste basket in my scrapping area. It looked like trash, so I knew the kids wouldn't notice it, but I realized that Annamarie had emptied it into the trash bag and carried it out to the garage. Of course mine was the first trash can she emptied, so that bag (fortunately still tied shut) was on the bottom of the big Hefty Bag. I dug through all manner of unsavory things to retrieve my children's peppermint stick and orange. Hey, if it was good enough for Laura and Mary Ingalls....

* Wrapping: Mostly done. I have a stack of gifts on the kitchen counter, wrapped in identical paper, with no ribbons or TAGS. I truly hope that I will remember who they're for by the time I get the tags made. I wrapped one of my gifts in one of these this year, and I laugh every time I imagine the face of the recipient, who asked for something very specific. I will be around to see it opened.

Thomas has been home for one day and is driving me crazy asking, "Where are our presents hidden? You can just tell me, because I am NOT going to look. I'm just curious." Right. This is total divine retribution because I was a terrible gift snoop. My poor mom had to devise codes for the presents instead of labeling them, and one year my assumption that I had figured out the code led to bitter disappointment when the Sony Walkman whose wrapping I slit open and re-taped turned out to be for my brother. Given my own checkered past one would think that my son's snoopiness would just amuse me, but it drives me insane!

Annamarie is right behind with her million questions about how Santa is going to make the sparkly purse she asked for and EXACTLY what time does he come and how does he get in and when will he leave the North Pole and all of this wouldn't bother me except that she is almost eleven. I am so torn between not wanting to spoil the magic for her and wanting to say, "Dude, do you not see any inconsistencies in this story?" And I am trying so hard to make them focus on Jesus this year and if Jesus would maybe just come with more sparkly pocketbooks and video games it would be easier. Annamarie melts my heart when, out of the blue, she says, "Mom, Jesus is my favorite." But recently she has been adding, "Santa is my favorite too." She is clearly hedging her bets, wanting to stay on the good side of whoever is bringing the loot.

Oh, was I making a list?

* Baking
: We made cinnamon ornaments, and they are stacked on the stove waiting for me to go over to the Ben Franklin and get some homespun to tie on them. Everyone who comes over thinks they are cookies and it is just a Christmas miracle that no one has taken a bite of their cement-y goodness. Tonight we made actual edible sugar cookies, most of which I am taking to my Sunday School class in the morning. Mmmm, sprinkles.

That's pretty much it except for last minute details and a lot more talking about Jesus and his birth. And a lot more, "No, I am not telling you. No, they are not in the attic. No, they are not in the garage. I am not telling you."

Scrapping? What scrapping?

I am sure I am not alone in feeling like Christmas preparations have taken over my life, am I? I am certainly not sitting around doing nothing, but I am certainly not scrapbooking either. I am making something really cute for a swap that was due oh, 3 days ago, but I hope my friend will think it's worth the wait.

And look! Here's a layout that I did for November's articles at Busy Bee, but I forgot to post it here. A rare and even decent photo of me and my hubby. I love love love this Urban Prairie line from Basic Grey.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I can simultaneously paint a house and read a magazine

Not only am I reminding you that I exist, I am painting chipboard houses and reading People magazine. People is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but tonight I couldn't find a catalog to paint on (puzzling, because this close to Christmas we receive approximately 74 a day) so I had to use an issue of People I hadn't read yet. I am just making sure to read each page before I use it as a painting backdrop. I am multi-tasking, yo.

I have room on my desk to do actual projects because I spent yesterday cleaning and reorganizing my scrapping area. I finally broke down and bought a second Clip-It-Up, which is the best storage system I have found. I am not good at using things that I can't see, so having everything (well, most things) out and visible encourages me to use my stash. The best price I found online was oddly from, sold by Ritz Camera.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Re: Puking and pouting

It's poor Annamarie who is doing the former, and me who is doing the latter. I took Annamarie to the pediatrician on Wednesday because a cough was making her asthma flare up, and also because she has had pneumonia the past two years. She did not have signs of pneumonia on Wednesday, so the doctor gave us a new prescription for an inhaler and on we went. On Thursday and Friday she went to school, claiming she felt much better, but not quite seeming herself.

Late this afternoon we were debating whether she was well enough for us to go to our Bible study home group, when she suddenly threw up all over my pillow, sheets, quilt, and the back of my shirt. We decided not to go to home group. She wanted to lie down in her own bed, so we cleaned her up and took her temperature, which was 104. She is sleeping now, but I suspect we will be returning to the doc tomorrow.

My pouting is directly related to the poor child's illness: We were supposed to have friends over for dinner tomorrow night and I correctly assumed they would prefer to reschedule due to the whole fever and throw up-thing. We had all been looking forward to the visit of these very dear friends we haven't seen in ages. We met Jim and Cassie eleven years ago when we were waiting for a birthmother to choose us to parent her baby. We had already been waiting for a long time and were likely to wait a lot longer, and we were beginning to consider international adoption.

Jim and Cassie joined our church just about then, along with their incredibly beautiful 5-year-old Bulgarian daughter. I remember the first time I saw them, and how adorable Mary Anna was in a little red coat, but I didn't get to know them right away. Lumped on top of my normal social phobias was a lot of depression about our infertility struggles and that did not make me very outgoing or friendly.

Every woman who has experienced the hell of primary infertility knows what I mean when I say that when you're longing for a child, every Mother's Day is akin to having red-hot pokers stabbed into your chest. Only worse. So in 1997 I was relieved to be spending that awful day not in church but in New York on a business trip. I came home to find a vase of freshly picked flowers and a card from Cassie, that she had brought to church and given to Ron. For me. I barely knew this woman, but she knew me. She knew from experience how badly I was hurting and she wrote on that card, "Because you are expecting, even if your wait is longer." I am crying as I type this, as I have every time I've remembered that card and those flowers for the past eleven years. It is the kind of gesture that I long to make to others, that I think of making, and am always too scared of reaching out, or I put it off until too late. Cassie actually gets up and does the thing that is going to touch someone's heart.

I have said before that I firmly believe God inserts certain people into our lives just when we need them, and just the flowers and card would have been enough to back that belief up for me. Of course God had a bigger plan in mind. One Wednesday night at church I had just had enough of waiting. I was extra emotional because a friend had died unexpectedly the day before, and I said to Cassie, "I want you to tell me about your Bulgarian adoption." She and Jim were well into the paperwork to adopt their second daughter. Cassie replied by saying that she hadn't wanted to push the idea of international adoption on us, but it just so happened that her attorney had just called and had a child he wanted to place as soon as possible.

We called the attorney the next morning. He told us in his Bulgarian accent that, "This is the best child in the orphanage. He is quiet child, but healthy." He sent us this by overnight mail:

And the rest is history. Holy cow this has gotten long, and I haven't even told you the part about dragging Cassie into the scrapbooking world, and her dragging me into the country music world, or a million other reasons I love and miss her and her sweet Godly husband and her gorgeous (17! and 13! year old) girls. And I especially didn't tell you about the time we went to lunch when Annamarie was four and sick and she threw up in Cassie's purse.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Whew, it's over

Day 30 of NaBloPoMo and I DID IT. I filled up the internet with meaningless drivel every day for a month. I hope that I will be able to keep up the regular posting, but don't expect to see me every day.

My brilliant husband was mentioned in a New York Times article today. You have my permission to say, "Wow, I know this guy!"

My Christmas list consisted of exactly one item, and it is apparently the Tickle Me Elmo of Christmas 2008. It is back ordered and expected to ship in 11 to 13 weeks. Three months, are you kidding me? Oh, you can purchase one on eBay for about a thousand bucks, but I am not insane and neither is my husband. So tell me, my friends, what do I want for Christmas now? That's what I get for being fiscally responsible and not buying it for myself months ago.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Scenes from the Wiikend

We hung around my parents' house this morning long enough to see my youngest brother, who had been visiting his in-laws in Florida, and we arrived home with just enough time to buy our Christmas tree and get the lights on it before the kids went to bed. We dragged all of the Christmas stuff out of the attic and there are boxes everywhere. The only piece of the decor that is completely up is the nativity scene, but it's the only part that is non-negotiable anyway.

As I was flinging decorations out on every surface it occurred to me, as it does every year about this time, that sweet merciful heavens someone is going to have to put all this mess away in a month.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving, and I took almost no photos. (Shocking, I know. I have got to start carrying my good camera again and get back in the swing of taking better photos.) The ones I did take were pretty awful, but I had to share these two of sweet baby Ford, who is so amazingly gentle with my mom's hateful mutt dog Xena. Poor Ford has been really sick with some respiratory ailment and was even hospitalized overnight last week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

You'll pardon me if my post is brief tonight...I am a bit sore from all of the sports I played today. I am not used to playing tennis, baseball, and bowling all in one day.

Ron and I did head out for some Black Friday shopping this morning at the crack of ten. I'm not sure we got any huge bargains, but we did almost finish our Christmas shopping. Ooh, I did get seasons 2 & 3 of The Office for $13 each--score! We came back to Mom and Dad's with two bags; one containing some socks and disposable razors and the other full of clothes for our "Adopt-A-Snowflake" kids. Thomas and Annamarie were surprised and puzzled that we let them look in the bags and that we didn't have anything else stashed in the car. They don't know about the stop we made at the Pak'n'Mail, heh heh. We shipped home a big box of stuff that we never could have kept out of their sight, sneaky little ponkers.*

We are heading home tomorrow to purchase our Christmas tree and get it decorated before Thomas heads back to school Sunday. It will truly be a Christmas miracle to have the shopping and decorating done before December first.

Now I'm off to ice my pitching arm.

* "Ponker" is one of our special family words. Annamarie made it up when she was little and it stuck.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am thankful for y'all and for the Wii

Happy Thanksgiving! I am very grateful for all of you, my seven readers, and I hope you had a wonderful day with your families. I trust you're as pleasantly stuffed as I am. For the first time this year my mom ordered most of our feast from the K&W. It was pretty good, although nothing could beat Mom's stuffing, and I was glad that my mom had some time to enjoy the day outside the kitchen. We had a small crowd this year as well, with one brother visiting his in-laws and my niece and nephew at their dad's house, and no aunts and uncles available. We missed them, of course, but it did mean that we had fewer people to fight over the Wii.

Several weeks back Mom and Dad were having dinner at the home of some friends who introduced them to the siren song of the Wii, and they went home and bought one! My parents bought a Wii before any of their three technology loving children, and they bought a big screen TV to maximize their gaming experience.

I had never had the opportunity to play Wii before, and after today I am wondering whether I am going to need an accountability partner after Santa comes this year. It is so much fun! We bowled all afternoon, and the suprise natural talent is Annamarie. She doesn't overthink anything, just flings the ball and beats the pants off nearly everyone. Thomas the video game junkie was eaten up with jealousy and bad sportsmanship.

I did take photos of the Wii-playing and of my precious nephew loving on the dogs, and I would happily share them with you if I had remembered to bring my USB cord. I promise you that the photos of Ford and the dog are even cuter than you're imagining.

Still deciding whether I am going to do any early morning shopping.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Over the river and throught the woods

To Grammy's house we came. We are in North Carolina visiting my parents for the weekend. I can't imagine why my children decided to revert to their toddler years and whine and squabble through every one of the 270 miles we drove today. We had to institute "silent time." The only reason this worked at all was that it was too dark for them to make faces at each other. I may have to FedEx them home in separate boxes because I am not sure I can face a repeat performance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You broke your bed, now you must lie in it

About six or seven years ago we bought new bedroom furniture, including a king-sized bed to replace the queen we had before. Not too long afterward, Annamarie dropped one of her precious items of plastic jewelry down behind the headboard and commenced to screech her fool head off, which was her preferred method of communication before she learned to talk 16 hours a day. The only way that infernal noise was ever going to stop assaulting our eardrums was for someone to retrieve the jewelry. To this day I don't know why we didn't get a long stick with duct tape or a broom or anything more well thought out than trying to move that whole king-sized bed, mattresses and all, by yanking on one corner of it.

Not surprisingly, the wood splintered at the point where the sides hook onto the footboard. As a temporary measure we put a stack of books under that corner, which luckily faces away from the door, and thus it has remained until this very day. Well, with slight modifications by Ruby, who decided the books were great fun to chew on. Upon which to chew? Whatever. Isn't this fashionable home decor?

The time has come to purchase a new bed and probably other stuff to match. The rest of our house has fairly nice furniture, but the master bedroom is propped up on dog-chewed books and features an armoire that we bought for $269 at Office Depot and I assembled myself. It is made of genuine wood products (TM) and pressboard and the drawers don't close quite right but it has served us well for 14 years or so.

The challenge now is that Ron and I have different tastes in furniture. I am wanting something in a style like this:

And Ron would prefer something more like this:

I think that formal cherry furniture is lovely, but it doesn't go with the rest of our casual, country-ish home. There is certain to be marital discord before a compromise is reached.

There is also the question of where to buy. Do we hit the local furniture stores and hope for holiday sales? Do we drive to High Point, NC, furniture mecca, and overwhelm ourselves with choices? Do we trust online vendors and buy furniture sight unseen? Maybe we ought to just replace the books.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All that stands between me and frostbite

Sometime Saturday night while we were sleeping, our furnace bit the dust. We woke up Sunday morning to find that it was 60 degrees in the house, and please know that I am fully aware of the millions of people who don't even have walls or blankets or heated mattress pads that kept them blissfully unaware of the malfunction until the alarm went off. I totally acknowledge that this is a first-world whinefest.

Ron leapt out of bed like he always does. It's one of his superpowers, that ability to just get up without moaning and cursing the injustice of morning. My own superpower is, well, not that. He exclaimed, "It's COLD in here," so I stuck an arm out and discovered that it was indeed frosty, at least in contrast to our normal balmy 72 degrees.

I was cozy still under my quilt and flannel sheets, and lying on the aforementioned heated mattress pad which was set on 9. I briefly considered skipping church because I couldn't bear the thought of leaving my toasty cocoon, but I realized that at some point during the day, probably several points, I'd have to get up and go to the bathroom, and the toilet seats would probably be warmer over at the church.

The heating and cooling guy arrived shortly after we got home from church, and was here (along with his 5-year-old son) for two and a half hours. Apparently the blah de blah on our 15-year-old furnace wasn't sending a signal to the bloogity bloog to turn the fan on, and of course they didn't have a replacement in stock. But if we would just keep the fan set to ON instead of AUTO it would be fine and we would be warm until the part came in Tuesday.

Except that when I went to bed Sunday night it wasn't working at all. And this morning it was cold again. So I was forced to keep warm by going to IHOP with a friend and eating stuffed french toast, oh! and to Lowe's to get a space heater so that Annamarie wouldn't freeze to death in the night. Ron brought that little one in the photo home from his office and it is keeping the icicles off of me and my computer.

[Side note: I love the English language and grammar, and although I remember the rule about never starting a sentence with a preposition, I cannot seem to write a blog post without doing so several times. Witness the last four sentences. The grammar po-po are surely coming to take me away.]

I hope the repair guys are back promptly in the morning, but I feel 99.8% sure that they are going to want to come by around 12:45 which is when I am going to have my thyroid ultrasounded.

Also, I am not a big quote person, but I heard an ancient Chinese proverb today that I really love: "My barn having burnt to the ground, I can now see the moon."

And one last thing (again with the prepositions): Am I entitled to a discount because the repairman's cute little boy broke the hurricane lamp on my coffee table, necessitating the vacuuming up of hundreds of fake berries?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Flushed with discount fever

Way back in 1997, Ron and I took a weeklong driving vacation to New England and I still look back on that vacation as one of the best we ever took. The stars seemed to be aligned such that the whole trip was perfect, and besides it was about 100 degrees when we left Virginia and about 75 in Massachusetts. It was one of those before-kids times when it actually worked to take a road trip with no planned stops, just a vague idea of where we wanted to end the day. But if you asked Ron, he would probably say that I have such fond recollections of this trip because of the outlet shopping we did in Maine. Freeport, Maine is not only a picturesque coastal town, it is home to some truly awesome shopping, including the home of L.L. Bean. At the time(remember that this is 1997, and please be forgiving)I was a huge fan of Laura Ashley clothing and I found huge stacks wonderful items at the Laura Ashley outlet almost for free. When I came out with a giant bag of treasure that I had paid about $30 total for, Ron laughed and said that I was flushed with discount fever. I couldn't argue with that, because I was pretty darn excited. Who doesn't get feverish about saving big bucks on stuff that you probably would've bought anyway?

Once again my background information is probably excessive, but I felt that flush of bargain shopping again today. I had asked Thomas to mail home his Christmas list and received it in the mail before he came home on Friday. This is the child who usually has a terrible time coming up with three or four items for Santa. It's not that he doesn't want anything; rather he expects us to know him so well that we can read his mind. Either that or he's too lazy to look up the proper name of the video games he wants, but this year he had about $1000 worth of stuff on his list. Ironic given that we had already given both children the lecture about the economy, cutting back this year, blah blah blah.

Anyway, seeing Thomas' list inspired Annamarie to make one of her own. When she pointed out that she didn't know how to spell most of the things on her list I told her to cut out pictures of items from the many catalogs that she has been saving and glue them onto a piece of paper. She might as well have just handed me the Limited Too catalog. The sheet that she handed me was covered on both sides with photos of sweaters, purses, Webkinz, scarves and jewelry. If it wouldn't wake her up, I would go into her room right now and take a photo of the racks we hung up tonight to hold her purses, scarves and jewelry. I don't think she could squeeze in another item on those racks. But as I have taught her to say recently, "Bygones."

I went to the Limited Too website just to see how many thousands of dollars this is going to cost us, and to make a long story short (too late) I lucked into a double coupon situation that ought to make my newly penny-pinching husband want to be my best friend forever. After narrowing down her list a good bit, I was able to order $180 worth of pink sparkly crap for less than $70 plus shipping.

I am understandably flushed and trying very very hard not to reward myself by spending the $110 I saved on scrapping stuff. I do not want to upset my new BFF.

Unrelated to any of the above, we took the kids to see a university production of the musical Oklahoma! last night. Ron and I both love the theater and have tried to cultivate a similar love in our children. I think we have mostly succeeded in Thomas' case, but unless there is tap dancing and sparkly costumes Annamarie has a hard time following along. She enjoys herself as long as there are snacks at intermission, and because she just generally loves being out and about. It's not a review that you will read in Variety, but as we were leaving the theater Annamarie exclaimed, "Mommy, I was not too bored!" For what it's worth, I wasn't bored either --- I thought it was great for a local production.

(When I think about it, I compose my posts using Dragon Naturally Speaking and a microphone rather than typing, at which I am exceptionally terrible. A couple of paragraphs back the speech recognition program went all wonky and I said to myself, "why are you not working?" My computer heard that as "re: network gaming." Either I talk too fast, or I'm mumbling, or God is sending me a message that I am playing too much Slingo online.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The gang's all here

Thomas is home this weekend and we have had so much fun being all together for the first time in a month. We had a big Sorry tournament Friday night.

We love Sorry because even Annamarie can understand and play it well. And it's such a dramatic game. The highs...

And the lows...

And I won't mention any names, but some of us wear a horse on our heads for good luck.

I won, by the way. SORRY!!