I have been debating whether to write this post or not, but decided tonight I would.
I don’t have a good feeling about 2008. It started about three weeks ago… this sick feeling that something was not going to be right this year. It is one of the reasons I was so driven to make Christmas ‘just right’. It just seemed important. Don’t get me wrong, every Christmas I try to make special, but this Christmas had a different feeling for me and I felt even more compelled to make it ‘just right’. It had to be one that we remembered for all the right reasons…
And so I greet this year with not quite open arms, but more trepidation. I am nervous about its being here and never have I felt that way at the beginning of a year.
I told someone a couple weeks ago when I told them of this anxious feeling I have of this year, “I feel like if I tell more and more people, that I will for sure be wrong.”
And I really really want to be wrong.
I can’t pinpoint it… if it is immediate to me, familial or national… but I know its not something like hurricane. That’s not it. Its something different.
Here is to hoping that in 365 days each and every one of you will be able to comment here and say, “Bou, you ignorant slut… see… you were wrong!”
Let us hope. It is what I would like.
On a lighter note, thank you to each and every one of you who have stopped through this year and read what has gone on in my crazy head, with my crazy family, on my little patch of craziness, in this crazy world. Your comments make me laugh harder than anything I could ever come up with, your kind words warm my heart, and your good thoughts thrown my way during tough times have meant more than I could ever convey.
May this year be a Happy and Blessed New Year for all of us. I greet it with trepidation… but greet it nevertheless.
Happy New Year!
Phhht... and on an even lighter note, as I posted this, my husband just pointed out to me that while my younger kids are watching the ball in NY, my eldest boy has gone off to watch the Hooters Calendar girls on TV.
I guess he has kind of noticed girls... Heh. When did THAT happen?!!!
Oh and I notice my husband is watching it through a mirror, thinking I'm not noticing he's not really watching that ball... Good Grief. I have to laugh...
We took the boys to see The Water Horse. We enjoyed it. We enjoy going to the movies and its even better now that we can see them as a family.
There had been much begging that we would see Alvin and the Chipmunks. I refused. I may have five years ago, but now, there is a line that is drawn. It happened after I got coaxed into seeing Garfield. As my husband puts it, “I paid six bucks to take a nap”.
This line I have drawn, however, is odd. I will not EVER see Alvin and the Chipmunks, yet I want to see Horton Hears a Who and have told my younger boys that we will most definitely see the new Veggie Tales movie. I don’t know what it is about those silly talking and singing vegetables, but they make me laugh… so we will go.
Talking and singing chipmunks DO NOT do it for me, and we will not.
Dr. Seuss? Yes.
Chipmunks and Garfield? Hell no.
There are a lot of movies coming out for families and kids. It goes in odd streaks… sometimes there is NOTHING that I would take my kids to see and other times, we hit a matinee every other weekend.
As for the Water Horse, Scotland looks to be such beautiful country. I would love to visit, but fear I’d freeze. I’d most definitely have to go in a summer. I checked the weather in Glasgow today and it is rainy and cold. I did the 10 day forecast and it appears to be either rainy and cold or foggy and cold. BRRRRRRR!
And it appears to be windy!
I will have to settle for pictures for now. Good Lord. I don’t know how you Northerners do it. I do… not. It was in the mid-80s today, and sunny. Good Grief.
On Christmas Day we went to my brother in law’s home. He has a little girl and her little friend and her family were over as well. So on one side of the family room were two little girls playing the Littlest Pet Shop, there were scads of these plastic critters (Have y’all seen them? They all look like they’re depressed or strung out… that they either need a shot of prozac or need to be put down. Good Grief.) and on the other side of the family room were my boys making Bionicles.
Bones got them out today and set them on the kitchen counter. Too bad the Bionicles weren’t real robots. I think they’d have eaten all those freaky Pet Shop animals.
At work today I learned all sorts of cool things. That’s what happens when it’s a skeleton crew. You just start talking about things and learn interesting stuff about each other.
For instance, one of my co-workers is into birds and he told me that Cornell University has something called “Project Feeder Watch”. If you have a birdfeeder, you count your birds every two weeks for two days, and submit it to the university. There is a small fee to sign up, but you get a kit that contains forms and posters to identify common feeding birds.
If I EVER get any frickin’ birds, I’m going to do this. In case you were wondering… I’m still only feeding squirrels. Dammit.
Also, St. Lucie County is building a Waste Plasma plant. It uses something called geoplasma, where the trash is turned into energy. Supposedly enough energy will be produced for St. Lucie county to be able to power the plant, and power all the homes in that county, and still be able to sell something like 20% of its extra power. The slag produced is converted and can be used as an aggregate, and I believe there are concrete companies already ready to use it.
There are skeptics of course, but I really really want this to work. Supposedly they’ll be able to get rid of their landfill in the next 20 years. All the possibilities…. Georgia Tech is involved, Westinghouse is a major partner, the Japanese already have some smaller plants that have been working… I just have big hopes for this. How cool would that be to start to end our dependency on oil?
More random stuff in my head…
I have done much reading on the assassination of Bhutto in Pakistan. I remember when she was President. I remember wondering how it was that a woman came to run a country in a region of the world that is so hateful to women in general.
Whether she was corrupt or not is not for me to say. I have read both sides. Considering the clerics there said she was not a ‘good Muslim’, makes me wonder if in fact she was more honorable than anyone makes her out to have been. I don’t know about you, but I have problems trusting those clerics.
Anyway, so I was thinking, in that small country, with all those uneducated women, with the Taliban having taken that country back too many decades… with all that is wrong over there, they found a Harvard educated woman to run their country and this woman was possibly going to assist in bringing better democracy to her country.
And in this country, of millions of people and women and education and opportunities… we get Hillary Clinton. What is up with that?
This Christmas, we pretty much nailed everything. TGOO and Hubba got the boys a Wii, so it was a Wii Christmas. Morrigan got them Guitar Hero for the Wii, which means my eldest disappeared for hours… and hours… and hours. He also got a pair of inline skates, which don’t get removed from his feet often.
Mr. T received battling helicopters from Santa and they really frickin’ fly. Its amazing to me… they’re not broken and really battle. I’ve been buzzed too many times by them… its like having radio controlled cars in the air.
It was an Arts and Crafts Christmas for Bones. He has spent most of his time creating. That is goodness. Busy hands keep the mind busy too.
My husband and I had a date last night. We went to see I Am Legend with Will Smith. I LOVE Will Smith. I just think he’s a tremendous actor and he seems like a wonderful husband and father. He does a fantastic job in this movie.
If you like Will Smith and want to see a great performance, see the movie. If you don’t like movies that are scary, do not. I had my hands over my eyes for ¼ of the movie. You don’t leave the movie feeling happy. I could have passed on it… even though I love Will Smith.
I want to see The Bucket List. I love Morgan Freeman. He’s so dry in his presentation… kind of like he is inwardly laughing at the joke, wondering if you’ll get it. And with Jack Nicholson, I think it should be a hoot.
OK. I thought of two stories. I'm all over the road today.
For Christmas Eve dinner, I decided to have a beef tenderloin to go with the calamari sauce my husband and his dad were making.
I went to the local butcher that has an amazing selection of meat. I don’t know him that well… only going in when I know I need… an amazing piece of meat.
Christmas Eve qualified.
The butcher is from a Slavic country. I have yet to discern exactly from where, but at first thought Greece, but settled on somewhere Slavic…
I walked in and told him I needed a beef tenderloin and after we settled on how much I needed the following conversation ensued to the best of my recollection:
Me: I just wanted to pre-order it today… Its Friday and I don’t need it until Christmas Eve.
Butcher: You buy today, you buy today. You buy tomorrow, you VAIT! (referring to the rush of shoppers that would be at the butcher on Saturday)
Me: It’s my fridge. Is it as cold as yours?
Butcher: Yes. Yes. You buy today, eet seets een YOUR refreegerator. You buy tomorrow, eet seets een mine. You buy tomorrow you VAIT!
All weekend I’ve been quoting this guy. “You buy today, you buy today. You buy tomorrow, You VAIT!”
Needless to say, I walked out with the meat. The expensive meat. That I proceeded to carry into every store I walked into, so as to not keep it in my car. That would be Publix and… the Boy Scouts store.
Which brings me to another story that just popped into my head…
Bones received a pocket knife for selling so much popcorn for Cub Scouts. The pocket knife will not stay in his pocket. That would be because… the kid hippity skips around all over, constantly, tumbling, jumping, leaping, perpetual motion. So for Christmas, at the last minute he proclaimed, “I’m going to ask Santa for a case for my pocket knife so I quit losing it.”
Now we have not only taught him how to open and close a pocket knife, and all the safety stuff that goes with it, but we have reviewed where one can and cannot take said knife.
The knife NEVER goes to school, the airport or the court house. All governmental buildings, the knife stays home. He understands.
So we were on our way to see Santa and he looked at me and said, “Mom, I think I should take my knife to see Santa so he can see how big it is, so he knows what size case to get me.”
Holy crap. Can you imagine? Santa has been sitting there for hours and hours having little kids sit on his lap, only to have my blue eyed blonde haired imp whip out a pocket knife? Now maybe he’d have been fine with it, but hey, there is always the stroke possibility, with the world being what it is today.
I quickly said, “NO! Add to your list of places your knife cannot go. It can’t go see Santa either.”
The knife stayed home. Good Grief.
I've got nothing.
No focus. Maybe too much sugar.
So. We'll see...
Christmas Eve is spent at my home… on the years we are here. It is easier for the family as my sister in law works in retail. I do Christmas Eve dinner and she does Christmas Day.
So the masses were here tonight and dinner was excellent. My husband and father in law made a Calamari sauce to go with spaghetti and I made a beef tenderloin and horseradish butter with Diana potatoes, steamed green beans, zucchini casserole, salad, and TGOO made an Asagio bread. Dinner was very very good.
Dessert was a King cake, traditionally eaten during Mardi Gras, but TGOO makes an excellent King cake and we have it on Christmas Eve, with whoever gets the baby (aka Baby Jesus) receiving Good Luck for the new year. I also made a German Chocolate Pie.
My five year old niece got the baby this year (yes, it was rigged) and it was worth it just to see her pure excitement at getting the baby. She was so funny, telling us in her Mickey Mouse voice, “At first I thought it was a seed!”, which I thought was funny since it had a cherry and cream cheese filling… I’m not seeing any seeds in this cake.
Mr. T and Bones sang The Little Drummer Boy, with Ringo on the drums and TGOO playing the tin whistle.
And then… for our activity… good Lord you can’t make this stuff up…
We had to have an activity. Bones said.
About four weeks ago, in Social Studies they learned about Mummification. Last year the 3rd grade teacher had them mummify a chicken, but evidently it smelled so horrible, this year, all the kids mummified their own apple. The parents brought in gauze and salt and the kids mummified it… complete with creating its own sarcophagus.
Flash forward… our activity was… to UNWRAP the mummified apple. That’s what we did after dinner. Bones presented his mummified apple and then unwrapped it.
It was like watching a children’s version of some science show on Egypt, where they unlock the hidden secrets of a crypt, opening the grave.
Except it was an 8 year old and an dried up apple.
I’m still a bit puzzled as to his logic line on how unwrapping a mummified anything on Christmas Eve would make an EXCELLENT activity for us, as it was told to me. Baby in swaddling clothes? Mummified Apple? It’s the best I can do.
And so to begin ending this post, my answer to Jay of The Extended Table and the Meme he tagged me with.
1.Wrapping paper or gift bags? – I love to wrap.
2. Real or artificial tree? Wow, I’ve been blogging on this all season. We have a fake tree, we’re plastic people, but this year it’s real. It was real, it was fun, it was real fun, but we’re done. (Favorite answer is Erica’s… she’s a burning bush kind ‘o gal. That cracked me up.)
3. When do you put up your tree? I like to put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving, but that is not always possible. To me, that’s when it should go up. Watch the Macy’s Day Parade with Santa at the end, enjoy Thanksgiving, and then that Friday, put the tree up and decorate for Christmas. But… our lives are hectic and it’s tough, so it is usually 1 December or the first week of.
4. When do you take the tree down? Either the day of the Epiphany or the day after.
5. Do you like eggnog? Not so much. First, I don’t drink. Second, its texture. It’s a bit too thick and icky for me.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? – This is a tough one… mmm… I loved the Christmas I received a Barbie camper… but there was this very fun doll I received while spending Christmas at my Nana’s house in Toledo. She had long brown hair, wore a purple outfit, and played the guitar. That would be the doll… not my Nana. My Nana had wonderful white hair, played Poker, and drank vodka.
My favorite gift as an adult… My kitchenaid mixer that my husband gave me two Christmas’s ago. Good God I love that thing. If I had a million dollars, I’d redo my kitchen just around that frickin’ mixer.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? – Yes. It was a gift to my husband and me for our first Christmas from TGOO and Hubba.
8. Worst Christ gift you've ever received? – I’ve never received a bad gift.
9. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? – Mail.
10. Favorite Christmas movie? – Well, I love the Christmas Story, but I always also loved The Little Drummer Boy on TV when I was a kid and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (I always cried when watching the Little Drummer Boy…)
11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Pretty much all through the year, although I know I spend more when I do that. So… I am trying to shop the week before Thanksgiving more. Odds and ends for stockings are done the week before Christmas.
12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? – Wow. Dessert. If there is ham and cheese grits, the grits. If there is pie… the pie. I love Christmas dinner. In our house, tradition is a BIG Christmas Eve dinner, so the women don’t get stuck in the kitchen Christmas Day.
13. Clear or colored lights on the tree? – On my tree it is colored. On the house? The house is outlined in white lights, bushes are colored, trees are either red, white or blue… on the trunk, but palm frons are done in white. Mmm… and one white reindeer, new, as my other two are dead.
14. Favorite Christmas song? – And just as Jay’s, my favorite is Oh Come Emmanuel. I love that song… A fun Christmas song experience, however, was the kids’ music teacher had the kids sing some song and then on the 4th stanza, the parents sang Silent Night. It still tears me up at how beautiful it sounded. She said it was a ‘partner song’. Very cool, very cool…
My tree has the gifts under it and Santa has arrived. I’m the last to turn in for the evening… my being awake in my quiet home as everyone is nestled all snug in their beds… while visions of unwrapped mummified apples, dance in their heads.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, From the House of Boudicca to… Yours.
I received a few recipes for Gingerbread men! Thank you to those who sent them… I’m publishing them here or giving a link. I’m guessing most of you folks don’t make them. Is this not a tradition in everyone’s home?
First from Marie of Practigal, THIS post and I am making her recipe first. I will eventually try them all. I think it should be a pretty big batch as it calls for 7 cups of flour, so I bought more flour as back up because… that just sounds like A LOT of flour! The recipe seems to have a really nice spice mixture.
Next from Jay at The Extended Table, I received a link to the Food Network’s version. He said he cooks a lot and the Food Network has never done him wrong! I believe him. I need to wait on this one though, as it says they are spicy and my boys don’t do spicy. I have to say… they sound REALLY yummy.
From VW of One Happy Dog Speaks, I received her Mom’s recipe in an email… her family has been sick as big dogs and I know she was packing to travel for Christmas. It was incredibly nice that she threw it into an email for me and I KNOW for a FACT that VW is a great cook. If her family likes it, I know I will. We’ll be making these as well.
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
Blend until creamy : 1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
Beat in: 1/2 cup dark molasses
Sift: 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Resift with: 1 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture in about 3 parts, alternately with
1/4 cup water, if you roll the dough or 1/3 cup if you model it.
You may have to work in the last of the flour mixture with your hands.
Roll the dough to the thickness you want. Cut out your figures either by using a floured cookie cutter or by making a pattern of your own.
Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes or longer according to their thickness. Test
with your finger for doneness by pressing the dough. If it springs back after pressing the gingerbread cookies are ready to be cooled on a rack.
Old Joy of Cooking page 662
And from my frequent reader, Peggy U. Holy crap. Read the recipe, but you have to get down into her description as to what she does and does not do according to the recipe. I have to do this eventually, just for the hell of it. TGOO was reading this and started to laugh. He had to read it out loud to Hubba and me, and we were all laughing. That girl cracks me up.
Rolled Ginger Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. vinegar
5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 to 3 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses, and vinegar. Sift together dry ingredients; blend in. Chill 3 hours.
Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut in shapes. Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 5 to 6 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove to rack. Makes about 5 dozen.
This is the recipe we use every year. Now here's where I deviate. I throw in more cinnamon and less ginger than it calls for. I'm too lazy to sift and too impatient to chill. If the dough isn't stiff enough to roll out, I add flour until it is. Sometimes I throw in a little vanilla or lemon juice, just for the hell of it. I have also been known to guesstimate on the salt, baking soda, etc. if I can't find my one and only teaspoon measure. And I'm pretty sure I roll the dough out a little thicker, and I've NEVER greased a cookie sheet! Also, given that I roll the dough thicker, I let them cook longer (from 8 to 11 minutes, or until they look kind of light brown on the edges)and then I let them cool on the cookie sheet. Ok, I don't follow directions so well!
We always use those little red hots, or cinnamon candies, for their mouths and buttons. We use chocolate chips for eyes. Don't ever put a gumdrop on before baking - they melt, and not in a pretty way!
Sometimes we modify the gingersnap recipe from the same cook book. There is brown sugar in that recipe, so it is a little different. I can send that one along later if you'd like. Merry Christmas!!!
posted by Peggy U on December 21, 2007 11:57 PM
Baking starts tomorrow!!!
We spent the day running around picking up things I still needed for Christmas.
We almost ended up as a Pez-less Christmas home. The frickin' travesty in that. Every kid's stocking needs frickin' Pez! Do you know we went to THREE stores before I found Pez?
What in the hell is the world coming to? And I almost got the last three. Good Grief.
I'll be posting Gingerbread cookie recipes tomorrow, so feel free to send me one if you have one! I have a few recipes already.
Oh... and for dinner tonight I made BBQ baby back spare ribs, corn, salad and for dessert I made THESE chocolate toffee cookies that are... sinful. Yes. Oh yes. Holy crap...
Last night we decided to drive around the neighborhood and look at all the Christmas lights. We all piled into the van, three generations, my husband and TGOO in the front, Hubba and I in the middle row, and the boys in the back of the bus.
The lights on our house are the best. *ahem* Seriously. We are getting Christmas cards from neighbors now telling us so.
Many of our neighbors have those blow up snow globes in their yards. One neighbor has FIFTEEN of them on their front yard. Forget the cash it must've cost to buy them, yard snow globes are definitely a case of "Less is More".
In my opinion, anyway. Then again, we have 300,000 lights on our home.
One neighbor has a big blow up Scooby in the front yard. Not much else. Lights on the house, white lights on the bushes, big blow up Scooby on the lawn. I am trying to figure out the significance of a 7 foot Scooby. One of the kids says its Scooby pretending to be a reindeer. I didn't have my glasses on... could be.
And the following conversation occured to the best of my recollection as we made our way through the rest of our 'hood.
TGOO: What the hell is that in that snowglobe? Is that an astronaut?
Me: No... Its, its... its...
Hubba: I know what it is! Its those kids from South Park!
Me: No! Nobody would put South Park kids on their front lawn for Christmas! It's... its... Frosty the Snowman?
(I was drawing a blank as to what the name of old Christmas special was.)
TGOO: Who would put an astronaut on their front yard?
My Husband, stopping the car: NO. It is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Remember, the kid who wants to be a dentist?
TGOO: Oh... its the Yeti.
Hubba: Oh... yeah...
It was a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer snow globe and TGOO thought the Yeti was an astronaut and Hubba thought the entire crew was from South Park.
I still can't quit laughing...
I am looking for a gingerbread man recipe. I’m looking for a GREAT gingerbread man recipe. If you think you can help, I am asking you to do one of two things.
If you are a blogger, if you can post your recipe and then send me the link, I’ll put the links up on Sunday.
If you are not a blogger, or you just don’t want to put it on your blog, if you can email it to me at boudicah at hotmail dot com (you know the drill with the ‘at’ and ‘dot’), I will post it for everyone to see or not post if you prefer not. Let me know your preference as to posting or not.
TGOO and my kids love to make gingerbread men together. It’s their thing. However, we have yet to find a gingerbread man recipe we like. TGOO has been pulling them off the internet every year and they’re ‘ok’. Nothing to blog about. He was thinking of buying a mix this year and I said, “NO! Wait! I’ll blog and see if my readers can help!”
So there you have it. We are in need of a recipe.
Thank you in advance!
And yes… in case you were wondering… and this should have been a done deal in your mind… occasionally the boys make their cookies anatomically correct. I think this is a male thing. I have yet to see a little girl decorate a gingerbread cookie and add a hoo hoo. I have yet to meet a boy who hasn’t added a weenie.
Go figure. Heh.
Bones had a 3rd and 4th grade music Christmas program at school today. We have a new music teacher and she instituted this, and I’m happy she did. As our children get older, there are no more hand made ornaments, no more Christmas pageants and it is all a bit sad for me.
So I slid through the door like Kramer today, running from a meeting at work to see Bones sing, and I looked at the program and it said, “Piano music played by Mark Smith, 4th grade.”
All the parents looked at it and thought, “Oh, a 9 year old that is learning to play the piano. We’ll get Christmas music. How sweet.”
The music teacher stood up and introduced him and said, “And what is special about this, is that he wrote this piece.”
OK, folks, the kid is 9. What are you thinking? You know you are thinking what we were thinking. “Oh, this will be sweet. He composed a little tune.”
And so we sat there and waited for Mark to get to the piano, and he started to play, like I expected, two fingers on one hand, plink plink plink plink, and then he added a few more notes and he got a good beat going and the kids were digging it, and it was nice and then, holy crap, he had both hands on the piano and things were starting to move, and a melody took form and he carried it through this 5 minute piece and I kid you not, it was a Beethovenesque piece that just frickin’ blew us away.
We went from looking at our programs thinking, “How sweet” to one huge collective *Blink* as we all craned to stare at the blonde haired imp sitting at the piano. The principal had been sitting behind me. He had been listening and half way through, he stood up and walked to the front to watch Mark play.
It was the most phenomenal thing I have ever witnessed… because… here’s the part I had forgotten.
I know Mark’s Mom. I know her well. And I suddenly remembered her telling me that Mark doesn’t know how to read music. He has a perfect ear and can hear things and put together things that nobody else can do. He’s NEVER had a piano lesson.
All of us can play music, but not all of us are musicians. I am not a musician. This young boy most certainly is.
He plays with both hands. He can hear the cords and the melodies and how they are supposed to go together. He seems to intuitively understand the music theory… and THAT is what continued to blow me away.
He is 9.
Then again, I remembered his Mother’s brother has his PhD in music. She and I spoke. She said he was the same way… just like her Mark. Amazing stuff… truly a gift this child has.
And I feel blessed for having been able to hear him today. What… a gift.
Pam had asked me in my comments what I thought of the real tree. If you recall, we bought a real tree so Bones could see what it was like. He didn’t remember when we used to get a real tree.
And the verdict from the family is… we are a fake tree family. I know. That sounds awful and… plastic. We are the plastic people.
I am ashamed.
First what I like about the real trees… I like the smell and how they look. They are just beautiful.
And that’s where it stops.
I can deal with the shedding. It’s shedding like a sheep dog in a South Florida summer. I’m cool with that. I can deal with having to water it. It’s just become one of my routines. My morning and evening routine has become, “Feed the kids, water the tree.” I’m cool.
BUT, I can’t handle how difficult it is to keep ornaments on it. Fake trees… I know the branches aren’t going to get all rubbery, flinging an ornament to my tile floor. Needless to say, the glass ornaments aren’t on the tree unless *I* put them on. Fake trees are rigid. I like that. The whole limp branch thing is just… not for me.
Also, fake trees don’t do saggage. We have a spot on the tree, that.... holy crap, dropped two feet when we put ornaments on it. So one side of the tree is hanging so close to the ground now that the ornaments are literally lying on the ground, probably holding the branch propped up. Meanwhile, the other side the tree stayed firm. So its very… well… it looks lopsided. It’s just funky. And I can’t spin it because its 10 feet tall and once you get that sucker in a stand, you dare not move it a week later… WITH all the ornaments on. NO.
So. We’re a fake tree family. It was fun. We did it. It was important to me as I think this is the last Christmas I’ll have a child believing in Santa. I want this all to be just right… the magic of Christmas still being what it is in the eyes of a child…
Next year we cart the raggedy old fake tree out of the attic, the kids will have a great time carrying on as they put it together, I’ll vacuum up all the plastic tree crap that is falling from its branches as its getting old… and my ornaments will stay put.
Oh and my reader, S, asked if we had an assortment of balls, in my post on Weapons of Plastic Destruction and we DO NOT have a Zball… but I suspect, if I can find one, each boy may have one in their stockings. Heh. We’ll see…
A 10 foot REAL tree takes more ornaments than an 7-8 foot fake tree. Height, width, the whole damn thing is bigger.
This means that ornaments you've tucked away as 'dead ornaments', those you thought had been used to the extent of their Christmas ornament life expentancy or you thought you'd rather be caught dead than putting them on your tree... end up on the tree.
This also means that it takes longer to decorate and when after an hour and a half and its not finished, fully expect a child, perhaps your ADHD child to say, "Can we turn off the Christmas music now? I'm sick of it..."
Live and learn, folks. Live and learn. Heh.
Folks, this is great stuff. I've watched it too many times. Thank you to Mrs. Who of House of Zathras for leading me here and I've been meaning to link it as my Mom even sent me a note saying, "POST THIS!" with a gentle reminder to make sure I hat tipped Mrs. Who. (To you bloggers out there... you never know if my Mom may be lurking! Heh!)
Ah, she was right. Great stuff. Enjoy.
And for those of you not quite in the Christmas Spirit yet, I hope this helps.
I spent today going through the kids’ toy room and a quick run through their bedroom closets and started to pile things up to give to a local children’s shelter.
I’d never gone through their stuff.
I have three boys and most toys become hand me downs for Bones and I always wanted to make sure everything was played with before I got rid of it. Today was the day.
That homeless shelter will either LOVE me or HATE me. There will be no in between.
Some mental notes I’ve made to myself. We have a lot of balls in this house. Oh, I know, being the mother of three boys and being married, I find myself thinking quite exasperated, quite frequently, “There are TOO MANY balls in this house!”
But not those. I mean the throwing kind.
I have BOXES of balls. Every size, texture and color, hard and soft, nerfy and baseball, weird crap spinning in them and hollow, whiffle and footballs. Name it. Name a kind of ball. We have it.
And we may have more than one. I have a ball for every sport played, even if they don’t play the damn sport.
And so I went through them, put a half in a box, left the other half behind and thought, ‘The children will love these’ only to have my boys come in and say, “Wait, we have to go through all these balls. We play with these for certain games when we’re outside, like dodgeball and our nerf guns.”
No kidding. My boys actually play with MOST of these balls and my husband was the first to raise the ‘ball red flag’. “Hunhead, you need to have the boys go through these, they play with most of these balls…”
And Nerf needs to come up with new weapons. We own every frickin’ Nerf weapon ever invented AND they are played with extensively. Kids come to my house, they all grab a Nerf shooter thingy, and they have a war outside.
We love Nerf. We need new Nerf ideas.
And speaking of weapons, we must have a bigger arsenal than… a 3rd world country. Granted, theirs are real and ours a plastic, but Good God, we have plastic swords, knives, nun-chucks, medieval weapons, light sabers, and I know I’m missing some, but folks you have to believe me… it is truly amazing. Once again, all played with, so they stay.
I have a house full of boys and if you look at their toy room it shows.
And when I call the homeless shelter, I am going to flat tell them, “I have a van full of items for children, but you need to know, and completely understand… I am coming from a home full of boys.”
Hopefully they’ll get it… If not, they will when I unload.
I have said in the past, I could blog strictly on my father in law. God Bless him. The stories abound.
I put the stuff that makes me *gasp* up here typically, not the stuff that pisses me off, although it does piss me off he's still driving, I'm more aghast at the State of Florida, but we won't get into that today.
Anyway, Pop threw his back out and it makes me nervous. He's got Parkinson's and he is crippled (he uses a walker) and lately I have thought he looks like he is getting scoliosis, but nobody is really listening to me. But to have this man throw out his back, in his sleep according to him, makes me nervous as I know somehow, this is going to effect this home and not in a good way.
I'm not trying to sound like a jerk, but you need to trust me when I say, there is MUCH you do not know. Those who know who read me are nodding their head in agreement.
Pop lives 30 minutes from here. We tried to get him to move closer, 10 minutes away, but he refused.
So he called and told my husband that he threw out his back. My husband was of course alarmed and said, "Dad, do you need me to come up and bring you dinner tonight?"
Pop replied, "No, I need you to come make my bed..."
He was dead on serious. He asked my husband to drive an hour to make his bed.
Needless to say... the answer was no. I have to wonder if he is starting to get dementia...
Last night I was going over the boys’ school assignments on line when I ran across an item highlighted on the school online bulletin board. It was on the front page. A holocaust survivor was to speak at the school for the 7th graders and parents could attend.
I’ve known holocaust survivors and I’ve read about the various accountings. I’ve spoken to men who were there when various camps were liberated. But, knowing that this man would be there to speak to our children, I had to hear him. I had to hear HIS story and his recounting of history as he lived it.
And so I attended. The 7th grade boys and girls filed in single file, sitting on the floor and in chairs. They were quiet. I had asked my eldest if his teacher had been properly preparing them for what they were going to hear. He said they had.
Mr. Leon Rubinstein was probably one of the most wonderful speakers I have heard. I will tell you, that listening to Mr. Rubinstein has altered something inside me. He has seen evil in its purest form and he has seen good appear when surely there was no hope.
As I listened to his story, I cried. This afternoon when talking to one of the 7th grade girls, she said to me, “I didn’t cry or anything. I just found his story amazing.”
And THAT is the difference in a 12 year old girl and a 42 year old woman. She views it all as a black spot in history and Mr. Rubinstein’s survival is truly a miraculous story. It is one that rang a continuous song in my heart, “There are no coincidences, it was not his time, he was meant to be here.” To hear him speak of his life, you cannot help but think that his voice was meant to be here, to tell of the darkest time of our modern history in first person, to teach other generations, to be an example. Listening to his story, there are so many reasons he should NOT be here. I don’t understand why others were not meant to be… why evil is allowed to be at times and good people, wonderful people are taken from us… but in listening to him, by having his story speak to our hearts, you feel that he is where he should be… teaching this next generation.
Yes, his story is amazing, as the 12 year old girl told me, but to me, it was far more than that. At 12, you do not know of the ills and evil of this world. The world is perceived so differently in the eyes of a child than that of an adult. And that was the difference for me this time in my life, as I listened to Mr. Rubinstein speak of the history of WWII, his visit to Auschwitz in 1988 where his father was murdered most probably immediately after his arrival in the extermination camp, his own story in escaping the holocaust with his mother, I viewed it now as a wife and mother.
I realized I was his mother’s age during these horrible years he was describing.
And as he held up the picture of his two beautiful cousins, who were murdered at ages 10 and 14, I saw the faces of two boys who were probably like my own sons. And as he spoke of his mother, I thought of the horror of seeing the evil take her husband away, thinking at one point her only son was gone as well, knowing she would never see her soul mate again, knowing all their family was dead or dying, and running for her life with her son, from country to country and town to town, praying for the kindness of strangers and knowing that at any moment, she could lose the life of her son or her own… or both.
The despair is what overwhelmed. I felt the despair. Upon his showing the pictures of his cousins, I started to cry and tears streamed down my face for the next half hour as I sat intently, listening to every word.
What a loss for the world. What a loss for humanity that dark time was. He explained, 1.5 million children died. As our children sat there listening he said, ‘But you cannot comprehend 1.5 million children, so let me explain…’ and he said to them that it was 50 stadiums filled with 30,000 children. But still, he realized, that was not comprehensible to the 7th graders and he explained further it was nearly 1000 children, every day, for three years. Two of our schools a day, every day, for three years, emptied. Look to your right, look to your left… everyone of them… gone.
He explained to our children, that all of them would be gone, not having met the criteria of keeping for work, with the exception of two larger boys (over 5’6”) who would have been worked to death.
That seemed to hammer it home for the children more… but still… as adults, we understand the magnitude. Children do not.
It was such a privilege to hear him speak. I cannot tell you how truly blessed I am for having heard him… He touched all of our souls.
And whereas the kids look at this as a horrific oddity in our history, I look at it as something that could happen again. Evil is there. I thought of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and what he did to his people and the Kurds. The absolute nutcases are still out there… we are never safe. We must always be diligent.
I bought his book, Escape to Freedom. I want to know his entire story. I only wish everyone could hear it.
And as I proof this for the 3rd time, I struggle with the gut instinct to hit delete, because the words I write can never do justice to Mr. Rubinstein, his story, and his courage and tenacity to continue to speak to our children, this being his 10th year at our school. He is a remarkable man.
I am having router problems. I'm finally back up on the internet, via my desktop, but things are still wonky...
Hopefully I'll be able to resolve the technical difficulties shortly.
I think most of you know I have a brother, two years my junior, that lives out in LA. He's an actor. He goes by TN here in my comments.
When we were kids, my grandfather used to send us this ENORMOUS Swiss Colony package, filled with sausage, cheeses, tortes, nuts, and as TN puts it, 'the dreaded Swiss Colony fruit cake'. Every year we'd plow through that thing, crackers and cheese and sausage, trying the various items that came in the pack.
Morrigan may not remember most of this since she is six years younger, but I think that the Swiss Colony package from Grandaddy was one of the highlights of Christmas. We LOVED that.
And so this holiday season, I was thinking of TN and what to get him beyond my usual fare. There is not much he wants or claims to need, so typically I'll get a box and put together foods we ate as a child, Captain Crunch, Cheez Its, Circus Peanuts (those orange candy things... he HATES them now, calls them choking down orange granulated sugar), etc. And usually I'll have a little something, more grown up in the box as well.
He's still getting his standard box of 'memory food', but I remembered back to Grandaddy's Swiss Colony package and had an Ah! Ha! moment. And a memory....
I was probably eight at the most, making him six. (Morrigan... do that math, was two, so she won't remember this, although I feel certain she was part of it.) We gathered all the cheeses out of the fridge, got some crackers (I think... although we may have just been eating cheese) and set forth to try and eat every cheese that came with it.
Holy crap, there was a lot of cheese. They weren't big wheels of cheese, but the little sample sizes, enough for a few crackers a piece.
Some were GREAT, I salivate remembering how I loved them, and some were OK. I was not fond of cheeses with funky spices in them that looked like rye or thyme. Keep the spices out of my cheese.
But then... good Lord, we still talk about this... there was this white cheese with this funky texture... the texture of what I would say was cellulite. Fat. It was white and was just nasty and we named it Butt Cheese. It was AWFUL. Absolutely awful. We still have no idea what cheese it was, we just always say, "Hey, you remember when we were tasting all those cheeses and there was that Butt cheese?" to which the reply is always, 'Oh! Gag! Yeah! I remember that!" (And being as I said Morrigan might have been there, we were the type of older siblings that would have coerced her to eat all the Butt cheese.)
Remember the scene in BIG, where Tom Hanks tries caviar and starts to try to scrape it off his tongue? We were probably not far from that with the Butt Cheese.
Anyway, flash forward to last week, I was on the Swiss Colony site and I knew, that whatever I got him had to have two things: a torte and... Butt Cheese.
Do you know how hard it is to identify cheeses from their pictures on-line, let alone try to figure out if one would resemble Butt cheese? Yeah. I suspect I missed the boat.
So I got him this HUGE variety, including two mini-tortes, and in hopes... there is Butt cheese. Heh. That will make my day if I nailed it. Absolutely... make my day. He got the package today. Now I wait...
I know I'm not the only one that has these crazy annual Christmas gift memories. Come clean folks... put them in my comments if you have one. I want to hear!
So... my son was invited to a birthday party yesterday, from 4-7. I don't know the mother, but many of his friends were going, and their mothers knew the mother, and so I said yes.
An hour and a half into the party, he called me from the Mother's cell phone, saying he bumped his head and felt awful, and to come get him. We were on our way to a family party, which he was going to join us at later, so we stopped by and picked him up.
He was sick to his stomach and by the time we arrived at our destination, all he wanted to do was sleep.
He hit his head on the floor HARD at this party. HARD.
We checked his pupils, but from how he was starting to act, we realized we needed to take him to the ER just to rule out concussion. My husband took him and fortunately, they were in and out in about an hour.
So here is my question. Am I the only person that would call a Mom the next day to make sure her kid was fine? He is fine, but still has a blazing headache, his head hurts, and he's still a bit sick to his stomach. The ER doc said no concussion and sent us on our way. That's great. And I know the Mom has no clue we even had to take him to the ER.
But still. It was a party for her daughter, he hit the back of his head HARD on the floor in a game that SHE organized, he got sick enough that he had to call his parents to come pick him up... and... I have not gotten one phone call asking how he is.
I think that's odd. Rude too. I have a feeling I will be so bold as to walk up to her and say something... something like, "Oh, I just wanted you to know that Ringo is fine. The ER doc ended up ruling out a concussion and we were SO thankful. Just thought you should know..."
I can see that coming... it will be hard for me not to end it with 'Bitch' under my breath as I turn away.
Don’t ask me where the members of my family find the incredibly odd things on the internet that they do, but TGOO sent us all THIS link to a McCormick website that tells you if the spices in your spice drawer should be tossed.
Because… you know… they may be too old. Not that it ever crossed my mind that they could ever be… old.
Well, as good fortune would have it, I cleaned out my spice cabinet last week. I have no idea what’s wrong with me. First I clean the fridge for the first time in 11 ½ years and then I tackle my spice cabinet for the first time… well… ever. Probably since I married, which is coming up on 17 years.
God forbid should I actually tackle the big stuff that screams to be cleaned... like the boys' toy room. (Time to donate old toys... a daunting task.)
I took down the lazy susans, washed them down, threw out spices I knew intuitively needed to be tossed, threw out spices I LOATHE, and wiped out the cupboard, which had also never been done. (Tarragon, do people actually like the taste of that? Goes right up with cilantro in tastes I abhor. Cilantro tastes like soap. Tarragon tastes like… ick.)
Then I received said link from TGOO and thought I’d go through and see if I had spices that needed to be thrown out, but were not intuitively obvious. Back in the day, spices didn’t have a ‘best if used by’ date, like they do now.
Back in the day would be, when I got married.
I found I needed to throw away my ground ginger, which was fine as I had two, because it was in a package that McCormick’s doesn’t use anymore except for black pepper. Ummm… according to the site, they haven’t used that packaging in… 15 years.
The site has a place where you can look for the manufacturer’s date, which I did for a few of them. I’m sorry, but I’m just not getting rid of all my spices. I know some of them were manufactured in *ahem* 1992 *ahem*, but if they smell spicey to me, I’m keeping them.
Same goes for my extracts. The site says they are good for 4 years. Well, if my coconut extract, which I feel certain is over 10 years old, still smells all coconutty, it stays.
I did get rid of a couple. If I had dupes and one of them was really old, it got tossed. Some of them… it was time. If it was dated 1992 and was clumpy? It got trashed.
But until I hit the lottery, I’m not replacing them all. Maybe one at a time… but definitely not at once. And that was just my McCormick spices. I have French, Badia, Spice Islands, and assorted other brands. I buy whatever is the cheapest or on sale.
For now on, I just need to buy whatever is in the smallest container. Other than the basics like cinnamon, paprika, basil, oregano and garlic powder, all of which I must buy in bulk, the others never get used up!
Last night my eldest boy had a school dance and my husband a meeting. I asked Bones and Mr. T where they wanted to go for dinner. I’ve been exhausted lately, having to drag myself anywhere, so wherever they said, I was intent on going, even though I knew I’d not be in the mood. They picked a Japanese Hibachi grill.
Now the fact it was Pearl Habor Day had been on my mind most of the day. I just completely forgot at that instant when we decided to eat at a Japanese restaurant. So, hoping this is the correct use of the word ironic, I found it ironic when I sat with my two youngest, in a Japanese restaurant, in America, on Pearl Harbor Day, and as most of the night’s conversation revolved around WWII with my emphatically stating to my children how it was the right thing to do to drop atomic bombs in Japan, my listening to Mr. T’s view on WWII and in turn giving my own little tidbits of history to straighten things out.
Everyone gets history wrong when they are young… hell, I thought TGOO was at Pearl Harbor for years. (He was one.) And then there is my eldest boy’s rendition of his grandfather’s time in WWII.
But for Mr. T, it was straightening things like… he thought the assassination of the Archduke of Ferdinand was the beginning of WWII. I had to explain he was getting his World Wars confused and that was WWI, and that America didn’t become involved until the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
You know… our schools take a pretty bad wrap for how they cover history. Let me tell you, my 5th grader knows an awful lot about WWII. He knows a helluva lot more than I did at that age. I’d never heard of the Arch Duke Ferdinand until my 9th grade year in high school. And he may have gotten the war wrong, but he not only knew OF HIM, but knew of the circumstances.
And as we spoke of WWII, he started listing the countries that were part of the Axis. His only mistake was repeatedly trying to put the Russians, as he called it because he knows not of the Soviet Union, with the wrong side. I understand why he kept putting them in the Axis, but we need to spend more time on where the Soviets fit. It gets confusing even for adults. I’m not sure he’s aware that the Soviets lost 20 million citizens in WWII.
We spoke of Pearl Harbor, the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with my ending that part of the conversation that he is never to allow anyone to convince him that was the wrong thing to do. I found that funny to say in a Japanese restaurant, but I stand by it and would tell anyone that is how I feel. We did not start that part of the war, we just ended it.
We spoke of the literary influences of WWII, such as the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We spent time discussing the horror of what it must’ve been like to live in London during the strafing and how terrifying that would be. We moved on to his Poppy who was on a destroyer that was hit by a kamikaze and the aftermath.
We spent time discussing what a difficult time it was in this world. We complain and we worry, but WWII was a time I often wonder if our country could stand behind and deal with now… as we are. Our country is not made of what it was then. I don’t know where it went wrong.
Maybe I am wrong.
The other day, we were driving down the road and we were stopped behind a car that had a license plate that read, ‘Pearl Harbor Survivor’. Good Lord. I had the boys do the calculations with me as to how old that gentleman, who was thankfully NOT driving, must’ve been. Older than their Pop and they think their Pop is old.
There will be a time when we don’t have the WWII veterans to talk about the war… to remind us of what it was like… what turmoil the world was in… and how it pulled together, everyone pulled together, to fight the evil.
I wonder if we could do that today…
Meanwhile, our local paper had an article today on a surgeon here in town that went to Iraq. He’s back and revamping one of the local trauma centers based on what he learned during his tour in this war. It was very interesting. And to up the interest just a notch… he is an immigrant to this country from communist Yugoslavia.
He had a great quote. He said, “…America is the best non-perfect society man has ever structured”.
I didn’t have to think long to know… He is right.
I thought I’d do a bit of an update on the young man I am tutoring in Algebra II. He’s a smart kid, he had just gotten himself into a bit of a jam with not understanding it all, it building up, and then his confidence took a big hit. When we started, he was pulling a C-, pushing towards a D. He ended the 9 weeks with a solid C.
It was a start.
I’ve been pretty honest with him about his teacher. I don’t like his teaching style. I understand where he is coming from, but I don’t think it’s conducive to teenagers… or anyone for that matter. Maybe confident college students… but not teenagers.
If you ask a question in class, he makes the student get up in front of the entire class and work out the problem… stumbling through it with the rest of the class offering assistance in what step is next.
I don’t call that teaching. I call that humiliating. Of course, nobody wants to ask questions. Every now and then someone gets the guts, but this boy I’m tutoring says really only the smart kids in the class ask questions. But everyone else? They are 15 years old… peer pressure is great and how they are viewed by their peers is of the utmost importance. This kid I’m tutoring is a good looking boy and will be a heart breaker with the ladies when he hits about 17 or 18, but now? He has acne, he’s just starting to shave and he looks like puberty struck a 15 year old. He’s very athletic, so he’s physically comfortable in his skin, but mentally? Not so much…
So I have issues and I’ve told this kid that. I told him, ‘Look, I completely disagree with how this class is being taught and I don’t care that I’ve never taught a class and he’s been teaching 20 years. Preserving one’s dignity is important.’ I also told him, “You need to know that if you don’t understand something, most of the class doesn’t either. If you stand up to answer a question on the board MOST of the class is saying two things, “I so don’t get this, thank God he asked” and “I’m so glad that’s not me.” And after you’re finished, half of that group still won’t get it, but are afraid to ask.”
He seemed to listen to me and he agreed. He told me he doesn’t ask because he doesn’t want to get up in front of the class. And guess what? When one’s confidence is taking a hit in a class, then you DEFINTELY won’t stand up.
So I’ve spent the last month explaining parts of his homework he didn’t get, back tracking through basics missed, explaining why he got it wrong and what to look for, and telling him over and over again, “You are so smart… you just need a little light in the dark spots.”
I decided it was one thing for him to hear his Mom and Dad tell him he was smart, but different for another adult to flat tell him to his face, “You are smart.”
I make sure when he fumbles through something, I let him know I’ve made the same mistakes and it is all practice.
This last test, he got the 2nd highest grade in the class.
I was so happy, I was beside myself. It hasn’t taken any extra effort on his part. He was already doing the homework. He just needed to have someone show him one on one what he was doing wrong, since he wasn’t getting that in class.
And he just needed to believe in himself.
And I was proud of his teacher. When this kid got his test back, his teacher praised him in front of the entire class on how he cannot believe how much his grades are improving and how he’s doing such a great job.
I suspect by the end of the semester, if we keep plugging away, with my just shining a bit of light where needed, he’s going to have not only one of the highest grades in the class, but his classmates will view him as the one who’s got it going on.
And I told his Mom, this is not my doing. This is HIS doing. He’s the one earning the grade, doing the homework. She said *I* put it back on the front burner and got him to believe in himself.
Perhaps. But that’s HIS grade. Not mine. And I can’t wait to tell him when I see him next how damn proud I am of him.
I really am.
Sex Education appears to be continuing in this household, with me once again, acting as Dr. Ruth.
I’m short. She’s short. I’m open and honest. She’s open and honest. That’s about where the similarities end… other than the fact we’ve both had sex.
It seems that Mr. T’s best friend in school just found out that his mother is expecting.
Her fifth child.
His fourth sibling.
Wow. I was overwhelmed with the mere thought of all the potential work with five kids. I’m overwhelmed with three. Some folks can have tons of kids. I am not one.
Some folks can raise a small village. I struggle to raise a pod.
And so we were in the car, where all these discussions seem to take place, his fortunately obeying the first rule of ‘talks’ where Bones cannot be nearby, and he says to me:
“So I guess this means that they…”
And he starts waving his hands around, moving them around kind of like that Penguin guy in Madascar when he says, “You didn’t see anyyyyythingggg…”
And I look back at him and he says, ‘You know…’ while continuing the hand signals.
I sat there for a second grinning and started waving my hands like his, bobbing my head, and said, “Had sex?”
And he started to grin and said, “yeah, I guess this means that they had sex… again.”
Because… you know… this would mean it was five times for them now.
I can’t quit laughing about it…
I live in a neighborhood that has a little newsletter. It usually talks about things that are going to affect our neighborhood, like a development going in next door, water, or security.
I received this month’s newsletter today and it had a little tidbit that I could not help but condense and show you here, in particular for Jim of Parkway Rest Stop.
It is entitled: … ON THE GATOR PATROL and subtitled, Who you gonna call?
It opens with “Having trouble with a nuisance gator? Apparently some residents are, and they are worried about the safety of their children.”
It continues, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, repeated calls to Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control…. Blah, blah, blah, blah, no one came out to remove a gator described as a 10 – footer from the lake at the rear of their properties…”
It goes on with who to call and how it is illegal to shoot a gator. And the following is what got me to chuckling, as I seriously doubt that any neighborhood newsletter in New Jersey contains the following paragraph,
“If, by chance, you do come upon a gator and it begins to chase you, run away as quickly as you can in a zigzag pattern on a diagonal with steps about 10 feet in one direction, then 20 feet in the other direction away from the reptile. While gators are pretty quick in a straight line, they don’t change directions very well.”
No kidding. This was in our newsletter. Two thoughts popped into my head. The first was, “Serpentine! Serpentine!” which is a line from a movie and the second was, “Oh, Jim will frickin’ LOVE this!”
Working at Company X was high stress. Those of us who worked there, often speak of the people we knew that died while working there. Cancer, heart attacks, strokes, mostly people in their 50s, much too young to die, considering also the average American was projected to live nearly 20 years longer.
Young women were not able to get pregnant, nearly all of the one’s I knew had to use fertility drugs, men in their 50s died, and it was all just considered… normal. We knew there was stress and pressure… we knew it was tough, but it was what we knew. It was not until after we left the company, that we all realized how stressed we were… 10-12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, IF you could leave work at work… until you retired.
And this came up today as my Tech Lead was speaking today about how he felt his blood pressure rise and his body start to react to the stress, just by walking to the doors of Company X HQ a couple weeks ago when he was presenting our finished project.
The floodgates opened amongst us about stories of people dying at work and how ‘you didn’t die on the property’.
That was key. When working there, we always joked about it, but it was serious. You did NOT die on property. We had our own paramedic staff, fire engine, etc, which we had to have considering the nature of the work at our site, but one did NOT EVER EVER die on plant site.
We reminisced about a gentleman we knew that hit the floor dead, was brought back, and Life Flighted off the premises, only to be declared dead in air.
And then I brought my horror story of a gentleman who worked in my group two rows down, had his head on his desk when a co-worker punched another one and said, “Hey, wake him up! He’ll get fired!” only to have the co-worker nudge the guy and the guy’s head lolled to the side, purple tongue hanging out.
Another co-worker immediately performed CPR, 911 was called, Company X’s paramedics arrived, and they got his heart started, and had to actually stop the gurney twice before making it to the ambulance, to jump start his heart with those shocky things and get him alive again. Unfortunately he laid brain dead in the hospital for a week, but usually when it was that bad, they’d declare them dead in the ambulance once off plant site.
You didn't die on the premises.
My boss informed us that there were actually reasons for it, both financial and legal. Evidently if you died on plant site, it cost the company considerably more. I don’t know if it was life insurance or what, but it was enough that the company was going to do anything it could to make sure it didn’t happen.
Which brings me to the funny side of the horror story we all laughed at. Morbid humor keeps people going at times.
So we were telling our stories when a guy I work with, I’ll call John, told us that he was back out at Company X working as a contractor when he stopped by Medical (Company X has a full Medical staff complete with Dr, nurses, and psychologist), to check his blood pressure when the head nurse came by and said, “Wow, that’s really high…”
She made note of it and asked him to come back in an hour. He told her he’d been struggling with it but he was sure it was a fluke.
An hour later he returned and it was slightly more elevated. She got his boss's name, doctor’s name, meds he was on and then according to him said, “I’m not trying to sound cold, but we can’t allow you to stay on the property. You have to leave.”
No kidding. We were laughing hysterically at that. You don’t die at work… not when you work for Company X. Good Grief.
I can’t help it. I can’t.
I recieved a magazine from Target the other day in the mail. I flipped through it to see if there was something I’d not seen, that might make a good gift. Ideas… always looking for ideas.
And I saw on a few of the pages, a man giving a woman a box.
And I couldn't help it. I couldn't and still can't.
I could not quit thinking of the SNL skit, Dick in a Box.
Not seen it? Not really work safe… Go HERE.
We’re a fake tree family. It’s just so… convenient. No wrapping a tree to the top of the car, making a special trip to a tree place spending hours looking at trees, no needles all over the floor, no shaping the trunk to fit in the base, no cussing, no watering.
Lots of positive nos.
But there is also no smell, no making the trip to a tree place spending hours looking at trees, no shaping a trunk to fit the base, no cussing… no real tree experience.
And I think that kids should be able to experience that. My kids LOVE helping me put the fake tree together, but I realized this year, Bones doesn’t remember when we used to get a real tree. He only knows our fake tree with color coated branches.
That bugs me.
We were in Publix last week, just Bones and me, when he saw a white bag for tree disposal in the check out line.
“Mom,” he said, “What is this bag for?”
Me: You put it under the tree as you get your tree up, so when you’re finished, you can just pull it over the tree and take it to the curb.
Bones: You throw a tree away.
Me and the bagman: *blink*
The man bagging my groceries looked at me like this was nutty. He said to my youngest, “You don’t get needles all over the house when you go to drag your Christmas tree to the curb.”
Bones: Christmas trees go to the curb?
Me: Yes, baby, they are dead. By the end of Christmas, they are dried out and losing their needles. You take it to the curb so the garbage man can haul it away.
Bones: You mean… wait. Can’t you just plant it in your backyard?
Me: Dude, it’s dead. Someone cut it off at the bottom of the trunk.
Bones: But if you plant it, won’t it just grow roots like plants?
Me: Nope, it’s a tree, not a bushing plant. It’s dead.
Bones, incredulously: People kill trees at Christmas?!
And that is when I realized, we needed a real tree for this Christmas. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to have a child that believes in Santa. Right now, the older two love the magic of Christmas, but there is just something special about having a child in the house that still Believes in The Man.
And this could be the one I need to make extra special. And so I am.
Besides, we have a lot of Christmas company this year, which makes me happy and somewhat giddy, so I want to make it all festive. Lights on the house, wonderful decorations within, the smell of cookies, the sounds of Christmas music, the smell of a real tree.
We’ll be shopping for a Christmas tree next weekend. South Florida is a tough gig on plants, everything dries out, and so I am afraid to buy one too early. Besides, I’m still damaged from when I was in high school and we went to my grandparent’s home for Christmas in Birmingham.
My granddaddy used to get so excited when we’d come visit, all his children and grandchildren under one roof, he’d start buying groceries a month in advance.
Unfortunately, that went for the Christmas tree as well. I think he bought it Thanksgiving Day with great anticipation, but unfortunately, he didn’t water it. By the time we arrived, the tree was so dry it was a frickin’ fire hazard. He still had those big bulbs that got hot, which made it worse. We would walk by the tree and the ever so slightest change in the air around the tree from someone walking by would send needles to the ground. You could hear it all day long… as it the tree shed its dry needles.
Shedding is such an understatement. It was as of the tree was THROWING them on the ground, in piles!
Christmas morning came, needles all over the gifts, and as tradition called for, the lights were supposed to be turned on for the gift exchange and opening. All the adults were nervous. An adult rounded everyone up, and then another adult quickly turned on the Christmas lights, we all said, “Oooooo!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!!” and then ‘blink’ the lights were unplugged.
The next day when the tree was hauled away, I think there was not one needle on the tree… there was a river of needles along the path through the house, to the road.
I have no desire to replay that scenario, as funny as it was, and as much as we all laugh about it now. We’ll be purchasing our real tree next week and I’ll be watchful about water… and Bones will be able to see what its like to have a real tree.
Every kid should remember a real tree. At least once… everyone has to have tree stories.