Friday, November 30, 2007

Decking the halls...

We're in the midst of Christmas decorating and I'm simply wiped out! I know I'm out of shape, and I'm not getting any younger either, but I could swear those doggone Rubbermaid containers get heavier every year. I also forget from one year to the next just how many Christmas decorations we have. It's fairly overwhelming to be honest. We don't have a lot of outdoor decorations, but we have our fair share of indoor stuff.

We can't even put all of our Christmas ornaments on our tree because we have so many. Seriously, we could easily decorate three Christmas trees with all the ornaments we have. Two of them could be themed trees too - patriotic/Air Force and snowmen.

I wanted to get all the decorations out right away so we can enjoy them before we have put them right back into storage. I LOATHE packing up the decorations after Christmas. Thankfully my sweet husband is willing, able and very good at that dreadful task.

I wish I could be like Samantha from "Bewitched," and then I could just wiggle my nose and the decorating would be done. Sigh... The decorating will have to wait 'til tomorrow 'cause I'm too tired to wiggle anything except my big ol' backside as I head upstairs to bed. ZZZZzzzzzzzzz....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm a personal shopper, but I don't get paid...

Christmas is quickly approaching, or haven't you noticed? The stores have been decorated since September, for heaven's sake, so I'm sure the fact that Christmas is approaching can't have escaped even the least observant person.

This year I have started my own personal shopping business, only it's not a business, which of course means I don't get paid either. Hmmm... how did that happen?

We're blessed to have lots of loving, generous people in our lives, all of whom want to buy us Christmas gifts. What could be wrong with that picture, right? I'm grateful... really. The dilemma here, if you can even call it that, is that I'm the personal shopper and/or giver of gift ideas for seemingly everyone. Many of you are probably in the same boat. I guess it's a mom thing. Everyone asks me what to buy for each person in my family. Does that happen in your family too? Are you responsible for insuring everyone gets exactly what they want for Christmas? I understand asking what to buy for the kids, but why can't people just ask my husband what he wants instead of going through me? I have to rely on lists to help me remember who I told to buy Matthew the Star Wars Lego "whatchamacallit" this year, otherwise he may be receiving two of them! I'm telling you, my hair hurts from all the thinking my overworked pea brain is having to do right now.

This year I'm also actually DOING the shopping for a couple of people. Now... I'm not really complaining about this part because there are extenuating circumstances. My mother-in-law fell a few months ago and broke her hip and leg and injured her shoulder. She's doing great, but is still recovering. She sent me money and asked me to shop for my family. I'm fine with that because the woman physically is unable to go shopping. She has been pardoned.

I've also been doing part of my mother's shopping this holiday season. I gathered the gift ideas from everyone in my house, emailed Mom our wishlist, including where the coveted wishlist items could be found (catalog or store). If the items were found in catalogs, I included the phone #s, item #s, page #s, cost of the items... You get the picture. Some things she ordered via telephone and the other things I had to order online because she has a dinosaur computer and just simply can't do the online shopping thing. I feel sorry for her because, frankly, I don't know what I'd do without the ability to shop online. I rely so heavily on the internet for holiday shopping. Without it, I'd be completely insane rather than just partially insane, like I am now. So... I helped out my mother and I'm okay with that.

I've given gift ideas to my sister-in-law too, however, I still have to communicate with both of my brothers, my grandmother and my aunt, who are all waiting for me to come across with a list of gift ideas as well. Again... it's a blessing to have so many people wanting to give to your family, and it seems a downright sin to complain about it. It's just that it sometimes physically and mentally exhausts me beyond words. There are times when I just want to tell people to get us whatever they want us to have, but then, that could be disappointing and perhaps scary. And then there are times when I'd like to tell people to just give a gift to a family in need instead of giving to us, which I really should do knowing there are lots of needy families and we simply have more than we need. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or tick anybody off, particularly since I know they're being thoughtful and generous in wanting to get us (namely the boys) things we really want. It seems there's a fine line between selfish and unselfish, but I have a hard time determining into which category I fall. I've tried to explain this sometimes difficult situation, but I don't think I got through to anyone. So... I guess it's just part of my purpose in life - to be the personal shopper for everyone. Sigh...

Oh yeah, I still have my own shopping to do as well. I hope I didn't give away all the great gift ideas to other people, which has happened a time or two over the years. Now where on earth did I put that wishlist?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Human Growth Development

We all know that one day our kids are going to learn about sex, but most of us dread it with a passion and stick our heads in the sand until there's no denying that it's time to have THAT talk. And the main reason it's time for US to have that talk is due to the fact that our oldest child is in fifth grade this year, and his class is getting ready to study human growth & development. We're okay with that and want our son to participate in this program, but we want to be sure we know what they're teaching and how we can help here at home. The school will be covering all the basics (puberty, personal hygiene, reproduction, STDs & the benefits of abstinence), but you and I know they can't get into morals or bring religion into the classroom. We know that's where we need to step up and give our child some direction.

My husband has chosen to take the lead with this challenge and I'm ever so happy to allow him that opportunity. I also love him dearly for the time and effort, not to mention the sensitivity he's putting into giving our son the scoop about the birds and the bees. My husband bought a book at the Christian bookstore to help give him some guidance and it's been very helpful so far.

We're trying to determine how much our son knows. He's not the type of kid to share information about his physical self, unlike our youngest, who would tell a stranger on the street anything they wanted to know and then some. I'm not kidding. My husband has had the opportunity to take advantage of times when our youngest hasn't been around, therefore he's able to talk a little more freely with our older son.

This is a special time in our son's life, but it can also be scary and awkward for all involved. We don't want to mess this up! My husband and I are attempting to prepare our son for what he's about to start studying in school without giving him more information than he's ready to process. We want to be upfront, honest and open about things so he'll feel comfortable coming to us with his questions and concerns, but at the same time we want to treat this subject gently and respectfully. How I wish there was a foolproof manual with step-by-step instructions on how to do this the right way! Parenting isn't for wimps, that's for sure!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Don't dis' Santa or Mom & Dad!

We are quite fortunate, and yet cursed, to have some very generous relatives. Someone in our family (I won't name names - TONY - because you know who you are!) always gives our children gifts above and beyond the price range of Oprah. Okay, that might just be a wee bit of an exaggeration on my part, but you get the picture.

While we appreciate the generosity of you-know-who, we also want to tell them to knock it off. First of all, we don't give quite the same amount to their child because we have LOTS more people with whom we exchange gifts, and we just can't afford to give in the same way you-know-who does. They don't seem to mind, and that's a relief, because otherwise they would definitely be sad people at Christmastime. I believe they simply enjoy giving and if it's something they really want our boys to have, they don't necessarily look at the cost of the item... They just buy it!

Of course our boys think you-know-who is AWESOME, and who wouldn't? And I'm sure that makes you-know-who feel rather special too, which is great. I'm all for mutual admiration.

But what ISN'T awesome is the fact that you-know-who has a tendency, probably unbeknownst to them, to make a bigger and better impression on our boys than we and Santa combined could possibly make. That ain't right! You can't dis' Santa or Mom & Dad! Seriously. We're supposed to be able to trump everyone when it comes to gift giving to our children at Christmastime. Now... if you-know-who wants to give ME an over-the-top, expensive gift for Christmas, that would be okay. That would give you-know-who the pleasure of giving generously, it would give me the pleasure of being Top Dog with the little people on Christmas morning and of course I would be the recipient of a fabulous gift. See? Everyone can be happy and fulfilled. Now, what did I do with my wishlist?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stinky Sweatsock Casserole... It's what's for breakfast!

Yesterday morning my youngest decided he wanted Eggo waffles for breakfast, so I get them out of the freezer and see that there's some kind of label attached to the front of the box. The bottom of the label, in case you aren't able to read the small print (I couldn't either), says, "Smells and tastes like old shoes. Yum!" What is it with my kids and stinky feet references? Turns out my oldest was behind this deed and thought himself quite funny. I rather think he is too, but don't tell him I said so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Could the jig be up so soon?

My kids are growing up and I'm a little melancholy about that statement of fact. Yesterday afternoon when we were at the pool, my youngest was having his swim lesson while the oldest was working on homework. I was making small talk while he was getting his notebook out, etc. Here's sort of how the conversation went down...

Me: So are you excited about Christmas coming up?
Him: Yes.

Me: Do you want to go visit Santa at one of the malls this year?
Him: No, I don't think so.

Me: Why not?
Him: I think I might be getting too old for that.

I'm nervous and dying to know what he's thinking at this point!

Me: You're too old? Don't you believe in Santa?
Him: Oh, I believe, but I just think I'm too old to sit on his knee.

Me: Hmmm... Do you and your friends at school talk about Christmas and Santa?
Him: Not really.

Him: I'm not so sure I believe in the Tooth Fairy anymore.
Me: What? Why not?

Him: I'm just thinking the next time I lose a tooth, I'm going to check the amount of money you have in your wallet before I go to bed, and then I'll check the amount of money in your wallet again the next morning.
Me: (About to laugh) So you think I'm the Tooth Fairy?

Him: Maybe... I'm just sayin' maybe.
Me: I'm not saying you're right, but what if I am? Would you keep it to yourself or would you share that information with other people? (I'm hoping he won't spill the beans to his younger brother.)

Him: I'd tell the world!
Me: (Mortified) Why would you do that?

Him: Because I'd want other people to know the Tooth Fairy and maybe even the Easter Bunny aren't real.
Me: (Sadly) But think about how much fun you've had believing in them all these years. You wouldn't want to ruin anyone else's fun, would you?

Him: Well... I don't know.

The conversation ended and I'm thinking the jig is up, folks! The smarty-britches 11-year-old has our number and I'm betting the younger brother calls our bluff soon enough. Doggone it! I've been dreading this day for so long, the day when innocence and childhood fantasy come to an end and the realization sets in that your parents have been lying to you all your life. I can only hope we have helped give our kids some very special memories of these years. Maybe our oldest will keep his thoughts and opinions to himself and allow his younger brother to believe for a little while longer.

A hot fries, ho-ho and grape juice kind of day...

I've had one of those days I'd either like to start over or totally forget altogether. Nothing significantly horrible happened, thank the Lord, and I'm okay now, but earlier today I was just not enjoying life. I don't know where things went wrong.

I started out the day just fine. The boys got up early, made themselves breakfast and got ready for school without having to be begged or threatened. The house was orderly and I was ready to run my errands by 9am. I guess that's when I met with challenges. I had a bulletin board project to finish that involved emailing some information to my church for approval. When I got to the church, I realized I'd failed to attach the file I'd intended to, and therefore, I had no information to work with and couldn't finish my project. Grrrr... I hate it when I do boneheaded things like that! I was not very nice to the ladies in the office and later had to call and apologize for getting so bent out of shape. Of all places to get bent out of shape too - the church!

I did what I could do with the project and then had to quickly leave because Mondays are "short days" at school for the boys in that they are dismissed at 1:10pm. And now both boys have swim lessons after school on Mondays, so I have to pick them up at school rather than have them ride the bus home, otherwise we'd never make the lessons on time.

I also needed to go grocery shopping today, but that didn't happen either, which seems to be a trend for me lately. I have a real aversion to grocery shopping anyway. Of course I thought about ordering groceries online, but after the first experience with online grocery shopping turned out to be a total waste of my time and cause for me to use ugly language and pitch a royal hissy fit, I decided to get that idea right out of my head. Today was not the day for the grocery store morons to dis me yet again.

I picked up the boys from school and remembered I hadn't even eaten lunch and my stomach was telling me about it too. I was so hungry, but didn't have time to even stop at a drive-thru, therefore I'd have to suck it up and eat something from the ever-healthy vending machine, that is if I could manage to scrounge up enough change since I had NO MONEY in my wallet and no time to stop at the ATM.

After we'd arrived at the pool and everyone was settled, I go to look for some change and discover I can't find my wallet anywhere. I could just envision having to cancel my credit cards, get a new license and military I.D. card, all things I'd rather take a beating than have to be faced with doing. Thank the Lord my son found my wallet lying on the front seat of my vehicle. Things were looking up! Lunch ended up consisting of a bag of hot fries, half of a package of ho-ho's and part of a grape juice. Mmmmm...

The little kid swam while the big kid did homework and things were fine. Then we did the switcharoo and the little man came to do homework, but he didn't have any homework except for reading and he'd forgotten to bring a book. He decided he'd like a healthy snack as well and share my drink. Somehow he picked up my drink and promptly dropped it in his chair and it proceeded to pour out onto the floor. He just sat there with that "deer in the headlights" look kids get when they know they've messed up. Luckily the juice hadn't spilled on the seat, therefore the little man was clean, and thank God too, because he HATES getting sticky.

We made it home and finished homework and I started trying to decide what to do about dinner. My husband is my hero tonight, seeing as how he brought home pizza for dinner since we, once again, have no food in the house. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a more productive, positive day for me. My reflux simply won't allow for another hot fries, ho-ho and grape juice kind of day. Would somebody pass the Prilosec, please?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Just go already!

Friday night our family ate dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants, IHOP (a.k.a. International House of Pancakes for those who aren't familiar, although I can't imagine anyone not being familiar with IHOP). We often like breakfast food for dinner and our boys really love the chocolate funny face pancakes. Okay, I know it's not the healthiest of entrees, but it makes my kids happy and I usually get a bite or two because these pancakes are so big they cover the ENTIRE plate and then some. It's not like we feed our kids chocolate for dinner every night.

So we're sitting in our booth enjoying our meal when this family sits at the table on the other side of the wall from us. It's two men, one obviously a bit older than the other, and two kids - a teenage girl and a little boy who might have been 3 years old at best. If I had to guess, I'd say it was a single dad with his kids, meeting the man's father for dinner. I'm a people watcher and I notice things, what can I say?

Now... I don't make it a habit to eavesdrop on others' conversations, however, I couldn't help but overhear this family's discussion. They were talking about plans for Thanksgiving and it appeared the younger man was attempting to talk the older man into joining the family for the holiday. The older man was hemming and hawing about not wanting to "drive all that way" and the younger man tells him he's just making excuses and asks him what the real reason is for his lack of desire to join everyone. The man finally says it's because he doesn't want to dress up and he doesn't enjoy eating out. I'm thinking to myself, "Hello? You're sitting in a restaurant, aren't you?" and I nearly laughed when the younger man said EXACTLY the same words at the very same time.

Grandpa (That's what I'll call him) says that eating with just a few people is fine, but not huge crowds and certainly not dressed up because that makes him uncomfortable. The teenage girl and her dad (Again... I think that's the relationship here) both tell him he doesn't have to dress like he's going to a wedding, but wearing a nice pair of khakis and a decent shirt or sweater is sufficient. Grandpa tells them he likes jeans and sweatshirts and he's simply not going to this Thanksgiving gathering... period. End of discussion. The younger man says something to the effect of "I don't understand why you don't want to spend time with everyone. Other people make concessions. Why can't you?"

That was really the end of the conversation and I sat there in my booth wanting so badly to speak up and tell the old guy to lighten up, get over his attitude and join his family. I wanted to scream, "Just go to the dinner already!" I came so close to going over as we were leaving, but I didn't have the courage. I figured I'd cry if I even began to speak. I lost my dad almost 6 months ago. My parents were divorced when I was 4 and I saw him once a week throughout my childhood, more sporadically throughout my teenage years and college, and rarely ever (maybe once a year, sometimes twice) during my adult life because we're a military family and don't get home very often. I never expected Dad to die so soon and what I wouldn't give to be spending some time with him this holiday season. So many people don't have the opportunity to be with family, for whatever reason, and yet here was this man complaining about the fact that his family wanted him, and was practically begging him to join them for a holiday dinner, but he was unwilling because of ridiculous reasons. Open your hearts, folks, and gather close those you love and those who love you back.

Stinky Feet

Last night all four of us gathered in the master bedroom to watch a movie. Our youngest son was lounging on the bed between my husband and me when he began talking about his feet and how he's betting they probably stink. He takes off his socks, then proceeds to pull one foot up to his nose (I used to be able to do that about a hundred years ago) to take a whiff. "Yep," he confirms, "they stink alright."

Friday, November 16, 2007

You can date when you're in middle school

I have no idea how my boys got on the subject of girls and dating, but a couple of days ago, I heard them (Okay, I sort of eavesdropped on their conversation!) talking about when it's appropriate for kids to start dating. My oldest son informs his younger brother that he can start dating when he's in 7th grade in middle school. What? That would mean he's going to be dating in less than two years!

My boys are 11 and 8 years of age... Isn't that terribly young to be concerned with this kind of stuff? Let's talk about sports and bodily functions and other gross things! Now I'm wondering if there's more to the story. Is the oldest starting to take notice of girls? Does he have a crush on someone? That could explain the occasional blank stare when he's doing his homework. I'm going to keep my eye on this situation!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

'Tis the season...

Don't you just LOVE all the catalogs that are delivered to your house during the holiday season? It's not even Thanksgiving, folks, and today I received 18 catalogs in the mail. 18! I was totally overwhelmed and immediately threw 15 of them away. I guess it's only going to get worse between now and Christmas, huh? 18 catalogs! That's crazy! 'Tis the season, I suppose, but it still amazes me at the amount of junk being printed and distributed every single day. Save a tree or two and stop sending me your catalogs!

Report Cards

The boys' report cards came home yesterday and we were very pleased as well as very preplexed. Both kiddos did well academically, but let's start with the our little man. 2nd graders don't receive traditional letter grades yet, which I honestly didn't know until the parent/teacher conference last week. They receive O's for "Outstanding," G's for "Good," S's for "Satisfactory," and N's for "Needs Work."

The little man brought home a couple of O's (His teacher tells me she doesn't give many of those), lots of G's and a smidgen of S's. Of course every parent would love for his/her child to come home with straights O's, right? That's just the way we are. What perplexes me is that he received S's in the area of "Work Habits," specifically "Complies with Established Rules," "Exhibits Courteous Behavior" and "Respects Personal and School Property." What? Okay, I understand these S's mean my kid is doing fine, that his overall works habits are satisfactory, but they aren't "good." I'm not necessarily worried, only curious. What I'm wondering is... what on earth is he doing or not doing that prevents him from getting a better rating? And he's not respecting personal and school property well enough to at least get a G? Is this how juvenile delinquency starts? Things that make you go "Hmmmmm."

The 5th grader brought home all A's and B's, which was definitely pleasing to us. He's in an advanced math class, which challenges me daily (That's another blog), but he pulled out an A and we're thrilled. Go get 'em, Tiger! He received A's in all academic areas except one... Science, where he received a B. B's are good and we're cool with those.

But here's the perplexing part of the report card... He received B's in P.E. and General Music. What? How do you get a B in P.E. and Music? I didn't think that was possible, but apparently, I'm wrong. Come to think of it, he received B's in P.E. last year as well. Do we have a lazy, couch potato on our hands or what? I guess we should be happy he's not in high school where GPA means everything these days, otherwise how would we begin to explain to perspective colleges that our son just couldn't attain that elusive A in P.E.? I did notice that every category in which the big man received A's, he also received an "Outstanding" for effort, however, every category in which he received B's, he received a "Good" for effort. Things that make you go "Hmmmmm."

What to do?

Today I was shopping in a local Hallmark store, looking for special cards since I don't have a lot of extra time to stamp my own right now, but that's a different issue...

While I was perusing a card aisle, a woman approached me asking for money. She had just asked a man shopping nearby and he waved her off. This woman appeared to be someone who didn't speak English as the only word I understood her to say was "Please." She thrust a hand-written note at me that explained she was poor and couldn't afford to feed her children, and in the name of God would I please give her some money.

I was totally caught off-guard by the whole incident. My heart goes out to anyone who doesn't have the ability to feed themselves or their children, and it's in my nature to want to trust that what someone is telling me is the truth. I reached into my purse and pulled out some money to give the woman. She thanked me and went on her way.

After she walked away I found myself standing there wondering if I'd been "had" by some scam artist looking to get a hand-out. I watched the woman to see where she would go and I noticed that she went into the adjoining room, which is a separate store. I approached the salesperson in Hallmark and asked her if she knew the woman and she said she didn't, but another customer had reported that the woman was begging. I can't imagine that this woman could stick around in the store very long because I'm sure it can't be good for business.

I made my purchase and walked outside and saw this same woman talking to another woman, then they parted ways, walking in different directions. The woman to which I'd given money then started approaching people in the parking lot, I'm assuming asking for more money.

I still don't know if this was a legitimate plea for help or a total scam, and of course I'll never really know. I now find myself wondering if I should have handled the situation differently. Should I have given her money at all? Should I have given her more? Should I have asked to pray with her on the spot? I don't know. I wish I had been better prepared.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Precious Moments...

The last couple of days have been full of simply precious moments for my husband and me. Yesterday was Veteran's Day and our boys joined their Cub Scout Pack for a flag-raising ceremony at the beginning of the school day. I love it when the kids participate in patriotic events because they are so intent on doing a good job, taking it all very seriously.

The boys wanted Daddy to wear his military uniform because it was Veteran's Day, so he obliged. They're very proud of the fact that their dad is a military man. So am I!

Later in the day, we were fortunate enough to be able to attend the school Thanksgiving dinner and joined both of our boys during their classroom lunch periods. Each classroom met parents in the lobby and sang a patriotic song before going in to the cafeteria. I fought back tears listening to those sweet singing voices. There's just something incredibly moving about hearing children sing.

Thanksgiving dinner was actually pretty tasty (turkey & gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans) and brought back memories of past Thanksgiving dinners at school. We were getting ready to eat with our 2nd grader when he surprised us by asking if we would say the blessing with him. Usually he's shy about praying in public, and if we do pray, he wants us all to say our old stand-by "God is great, God is good" prayer together. Yesterday he held our hands and prayed his own special prayer. My husband and I were both fighting back tears.

Last night my husband and youngest son made a bird feeder together in the basement. It was a Cub Scout activity they needed to do for an achievement. The little man was so ecstatic about doing something special with his dad. He got to use some of Daddy's tools and he was so proud of himself afterward. He immediately ran upstairs to show his brother and me what he'd made. He told my husband, "Daddy, that was fun! When can we make another project?"

Today I was invited to read a story to my youngest son's class (I volunteered last week in my oldest son's classroom). This morning we picked out a book together and then I showed up this afternoon to read. He was so happy I could be there and I just felt this overwhelming feeling of thankfulness for the opportunity. So many parents don't have these opportunities, so I realize how fortunate I am to be able to volunteer.

These moments with our children are fleeting. I feel the days just flying past us and I want to freeze time and savor every day. Before we know it, our kids will be in middle school and won't want Mom and Dad to come to their school. It won't be cool then and we'll probably be an embarrassment. I'm enjoying these precious moments while I can. Investing in my children is the greatest gift I've ever given myself.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thanksgiving Memories

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? Wow! Where has the time gone? The older I get, the more I feel time is just flying by. I reminisce more than I used to and Thanksgiving always brings fond memories to the forefront of my mind.

We always spent Thanksgiving at home when I was growing up. There was no "over the river and thru the woods to Grandmother's house we go" when I was a kid. Instead, we invited family to our house, which I rather enjoyed. My maternal grandparents, step-grandparents and uncle were always there, and occasionally another uncle and his wife would come or someone would bring a guest. We would clean the house until it was sparkling and then my parents would begin to cook a day or two in advance.

Thanksgiving morning was always spent watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. To this day I truly enjoy the parade. Even if I'm too busy to actually watch it, I know it's on and it represents a special time in my life.

Family would arrive while everything was being prepared and they'd sit in the family room and watch TV and munch on summer sausage, cheese, beer cheese and crackers. By the time dinner was ready, it would be around 1pm or so in the afternoon. We'd all gather in the kitchen and my step-dad would say the blessing before the meal.

Our Thanksgiving banquet was something to behold! Honestly, I don't think I've ever tasted better food in my entire life. Do all kids feel that way about their mom's and grandmother's cooking? I obviously did and still do! We served traditional fair - turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, green beans, dressed eggs, jell-o salad, tuna salad, a pickle and beet relish tray (a must for us southerners), yeast rolls (Those things would absolutely melt in your mouth!), and of course lots of sweet tea (Is there another kind?). For dessert my mom usually made pecan and pumpkin pies and perhaps a Derby pie (If you don't have this recipe, you NEED it!). My step-grandmother usually brought butterscotch and key lime pies too. Our family loves sweets, so we had to have a variety.

We ate until we were sufficiently stuffed and then still managed to eat a little more. After we ate, the men would retire to the family room to watch football and nap while the ladies cleared the table and cleaned the dishes. Now that doesn't seem very fair to me, but at the time, that's the way it happened year after year. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching football and just conversing with one another.

Along about 5 or 6pm, we'd get the food back out for "Round 2." We'd heat up the leftovers and have another plate of food. I LOVED Thanksgiving leftovers, especially turkey and Miracle Whip sandwiches! My aunt, uncle and cousins would come to the house and we'd eat and then draw names for Christmas. I looked forward to this for weeks! Drawing names was so much fun.

Thanksgiving was truly the kick-off of the holiday season for me. I guess that's one of the reasons I love it more than any other holiday. It's a time to reflect upon all the things for which we are thankful, reminisce about the past, and to think ahead to Christmas and the joy the season brings.

Now that I'm married and have children of my own, Thanksgiving means even more to me. We move a lot and circumstances don't always allow us to be with our families, so we spend it with good friends instead. We have a big meal, serving favorites from our individual pasts, turn on the parade and later watch football. I want our boys to have fond memories of this special holiday. Next week on Thanksgiving Day we're gathering at my in-laws since we only live a couple of hours away, therefore "over the river and thru the woods to Grandmother's house we go" really applies this year.

May you and yours have a most blessed Thanksgiving, remembering to pause and give thanks, enjoying time with loved ones, and making cherished memories for years to come.

Boys like to make noise...

The boys went to a birthday party yesterday afternoon. A kid in the neighborhood had his party at an indoor laser tag/arcade place and he was kind enough to invite both boys. It was a great deal for my husband and me in that we didn't have to go hang out and help chaperone. We had several hours of uninterrupted free time to ourselves. What did we do during that time? That would be none of your business...

The boys came back from the party and told us about the great time they'd had. They were given whoopie cushions at the party and it's amazing how entertaining those things have been in only 24 hours. If you have boys, you understand what I'm talking about. Any noise that simulates a bodily function is simply hilarious and needs to be repeated over and over and over.

The boys have been chasing one another in the house with their whoopie cushions and have come up with a new game called "Toot Tag." Think we could market that idea or what? Boys! You gotta love 'em!

Friday, November 9, 2007

How'd I do that?

I now have music on this blog! I'm very excited seeing as how I'd been wanting to do this for a while now. There are a couple of other blogs I've been reading lately that have music, therefore I was prompted to COPY the idea. It took FOREVER to figure out how to do this! One of my friends explained to me how she did it, saying it was pretty easy. Yeah, okay, Shannon... whatever you say! You don't know who you're talking to. I'm techno-challenged!

I got my husband in on this and even he had some issues (one of my favorite words by the way... ISSUES) and he's pretty computer literate. I didn't feel so bad about myself then.

Anyway... we finally tried this music-on-my-blog thing again a couple of nights ago and somehow... someway... we miraculously made it work. Okay, my husband made it work, but I was there for the moral support.

Yesterday I got brave and decided to try to change my original song choice, just to see if had enough sense to do it. I also wanted to see if I could change the widget because I didn't like the one I had because it was way too big. I actually did it, but the crazy thing is that I have no idea how I did it. Does that ever happen to you? You try and try to make something happen, nearly give up and then it happens, but you have NO IDEA how it happened, thus you'll probably never be able to duplicate it again?

Anyway... enjoy my current choice of song (or turn your sound down or click on the widget to turn it off - YOUR CHOICE), but only for a short while because I'll be changing songs periodically, if I can remember how it's done........

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

If it ain't one thing, it's another...

Yesterday was one of "those" days, if you know what I mean. I woke to find it raining, which was actually okay because we need the rain and I rather like rainy days from time to time. No biggie. But because it was raining and the boys were home from school for those parent/teacher conferences days, I didn't feel like dragging everyone out to go grocery shopping, therefore I decided to go online and order from a local grocery store because they will deliver. Shoppers just have to be sure to place an order prior to 9:30am for same-day delivery. No problem. I finished my order at 8:16am and scheduled the delivery for sometime between 4-6pm. I thought I was doing great since I'd already done my grocery shopping in my pajamas sans makeup. That's the ONLY way to shop!

I gently reminded my 5th grader that he would be going back to school the following day (today), therefore he needed to buckle down and get the remainder of his homework done. He complied and got busy, finishing his homework in no time. I went to check his homework, as I always do, and discovered he hadn't followed the directions in one section of social studies questions. He was going to have to re-do all 10 questions. You'd have thought the world was coming to an end! I explained how great it was that we figured it out rather than to have turned it in the way it was. I was trying to put the positive spin on the situation, right? He wasn't seeing it that way at all. It's like I had done something wrong by catching his error. He finally starts to try to fix his mistakes and he's just sitting there, doing nothing. I ask what's wrong and he complains that he can't find the answers. It's because they don't literally jump off the page and say "Here I am!" and I tell him he's lazy. I got a little ugly with him and he nearly teared up and cried. I hate it when that happens! Makes me feel like a lousy mother. He finally got a better attitude and he finished the homework.

In the meantime the rain stops, the skies clear and the day ends up being absolutely beautiful. Maybe we should get out and enjoy it. Oh yeah, the 5th grader is doing his homework. And once the homework is done, we only have a short time before the groceries are to be delivered, and of course we have to be here to receive them. Can't go anywhere.

Along about 5:00 or so, my husband calls and says he needs me to pick him up at the slug lot just up the road because he can't ride the Metro home since there was a FIRE in the tunnel at his Metro stop. So he's jumping in a vehicle with some other sluggers and heading our way and will be at the slug lot in about 20 minutes. Of course I go to pick him up, thinking the whole time that the grocery delivery people will probably show during the 5 minutes I'm away from the house.

Miraculously, the grocery people hadn't shown yet, but it's now 5:30-ish and I haven't even started dinner because part of the dinner was supposed to be delivered. Our 2nd grader had a Cub Scout meeting at 7pm, and we need to go pick up my husband's vehicle from the Metro station, so we're not so patiently waiting for those groceries to arrive. I don't know what happens if you're not available when the delivery is made. I'm sure they charge you, which is understandable.

6pm comes and goes and still there has been no grocery delivery. We go online and make an inquiry, but we know we won't hear anything back right away, so I also dial this 877 number and ask what's going on. The man I'm speaking with tries to locate the driver of the delivery truck and can't seem to find him. My options are to schedule a re-delivery for the next day or to get a total refund. I have things to do the next day (today) and can't give them a delivery window, so a total refund is in order. I'm so disappointed... No, I'm hopping MAD! This is the first time I'd tried to order from these people and I was very careful to make sure I'd done everything correctly.

Now it's 6:20, we have no dinner, we still have to pick up my husband's vehicle and get the little guy to Scouts by 7pm. We leave the house and head to the Metro station. Our plan is to divide and conquer. I will drop off my husband and the little guy at the parking garage and they can go on their merry way, stopping at a drive-thru for dinner and going on to the Scout meeting, while I take our oldest son and also stop at a drive-thru and then go grocery shopping.

We get to the Metro station and it's a zoo, an absolute snarl of traffic and people because of the fact that the Metro isn't running and people were stranded all over the place, trying to get back to their vehicles. We're in traffic for quite a while. My husband and I just look at each other and start laughing. This is such a typical thing to happen to us!

My husband's plan has now changed and he's taking the little guy to Scouts with no dinner. I'm still going to stick to my plan until my husband calls me on the cell phone and says the little guy has decided he wants biscuits and gravy for dinner. Biscuits and gravy? Where did that come from? Since my son hasn't had much of an appetite lately, I figured I'd feed him whatever he requested, therefore my plans then changed. I took the oldest son and went to dinner at Bob Evans and ordered two entrees to go, one of which was biscuits and gravy. Needless to say, after having dinner in the restaurant, there is no time for grocery shopping before the other half of our family will be home from their meeting, starving and in need of food. The grocery shopping is nixed and we go home.

The little guy comes in from his Scout meeting and is excited about the biscuits and gravy (and a few scrambled eggs as well). He takes a few bites and then stops eating. He's not hungry for that anymore and opts for a can of mandarin oranges instead.

Today I have to go grocery shopping.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Yesterday I went to parent/teacher conferences and spoke with both of my sons' teachers. These meetings always seem to make me nervous and I don't know why. The boys are good students, they're well-behaved and things always go just fine. I somehow end up feeling intimidated and want to just run from the room. Is it because I'm afraid something negative is going to be said and I'm going to be disappointed or hurt? I'm very sensitive when it comes to my children. I suppose most mothers are though. I end up talking incessantly about anything and everything and later I can't even remember what was said. Good grief! What is my problem?

I do remember a few key things that were relayed to me regarding my boys and I have to share them because they made me laugh and nearly made me cry...

My youngest son is a social butterfly. His teacher told me he's well-liked, but talks too much. In other words, he's being a "Chatty Matty" (His name is Matthew) and he's disruptive at times. He's sweet as can be, she says, and always wants to please and is incredibly helpful whenever she asks him to do something, but he simply can't quit running his mouth. I have to laugh because he's JUST LIKE ME! I got in trouble for talking in class in 2nd grade too! I even had to stand in the corner because Mrs. Pearson didn't tolerate talkers. I think Matthew's teacher is a little less strict than Mrs. Pearson, thank God.

I also was told Matthew has BEAUTIFUL handwriting. He does have remarkable penmanship and I told the teacher, "Cattle prods work wonders!" Of course I was kidding! I have always stressed good penmanship though. I think teachers appreciate the effort, and even if you don't get something right, at least it was legible.

On to the next parent/teacher conference....

David's teacher told me he doesn't always pay attention, therefore he doesn't always get the full scoop on homework assignments. I didn't have to be given that tidbit of information because it's evident on the nights when I get the blank stare and the response "I don't know" when questioned about homework. Give me strength! I did hear some AWESOME news in that David currently has an "A" in advanced math. We may have to celebrate! That class has totally stressed us all out, but it's great to know our efforts (Yes, "OUR" efforts!) are paying off.

Lastly, David's teacher told me he's very kind to other students, particularly those who are in need of a friend and perhaps serve as targets for ridicule. She relayed a story to me about how he'd made another student feel better after receiving a poor grade on a test. He was very positive and told the kid it was okay, that it just meant she could do better next time. Now that almost made me cry. I don't care if my child is or isn't the smartest kid in the class, but I do care that he treats others with kindness. A mother longs to hear these kinds of things about her children.

The boys had to come with me to the conferences because I didn't have another option yesterday, but they sat outside the classrooms and played their Game Boys (LOVE those things at times like these!) quietly. After the conferences were over, we were walking down the hallway and Matthew pipes up and asks, "Did she say I talk too much?" I ask him why he wants to know and he says, "Because I do talk too much." When a kid confesses his sins and shortcomings upfront, it's difficult to be too tough on them. Do you suppose they know that?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Is it this year or last year?

I engaged in a very confusing conversation with my 8-year-old son today. We were talking about baseball season, which ended in June. I made a comment about "this year's baseball team" and my son tells me that was "last year." I explained to him about how baseball season ended less than six months ago and it was 2007 then and it's still 2007, so it was "last season," not "last year." He then goes on to say that he was in 1st grade "last year" when he was playing baseball, and now he's in 2nd grade. I have to further explain that the school year actually starts in one year and ends in the next year, but it's different than the "calendar year." Oh my goodness! This had my poor child thoroughly confused and frustrated. And of course we're having this conversation while in the vehicle, so I can't just show him a calendar and make things more concrete for him. I ended up with a major headache and he still doesn't get it. I'm not so sure I want to bring it up again either.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Scenes from Halloween

These neighbors always have lots of fun, spooky decorations.
This year they had this scary mummy in the window.
The boys thought it was way cool.
The neighbors went all out and decorated their front lawn with caskets and had lots of scary characters roaming around. The kids thought it was awesome! I was rather impressed myself.
Several of the kids in our neighborhood went trick-or-treating in one big group, which made it a lot of fun. My boys dressed as Harry Potter and Peyton Manning. The older one was going to be Spider-Man, but changed his mind and decided to wear his coveted Colts jersey
and be Peyton Manning instead.
We had a blast carving this pumpkin!
Boys love gross things, especially fake vomit.