Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Okay, I'm asking my readers - all 4 of you - am I being nitpicky? Son #2, age 9, had his best friend spend the night last night. Best friend is basically a good kid. Decent grades, I'm very fond of his family, etc. It's just that this kid annoys the daylights out of me. Little things. Like when he kicks back in front of the TV and props his feet up on the TV armoire. Or he decides to sit on the coffee table. Or when he decides to snoop in the fridge. I know I should be glad that he feels so comfortable in our home, but really, I don't think this is a testament to my hostessing skills. I'd also have no problem if I told him, hey, if there's anything you want, just help yourself. Truth is, I haven't warmed up to him that much. Case in point - a while back we treated him and Son #1's best friend to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. All was fine until this kid remembered there was a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream place next door and ASKED if we could get ice cream. (Because the $60 dinner didn't hit the spot?!)

If I ever pulled something like that when I was a guest of another family, and my mother found out, I'd end up smacked in the back of the head (and rightfully so - in my opinion - thanks, Mom).

It's hard for me to point out this kid's transgressions to Son #2 without sounding like I'm criticizing his best friend. And I know there are worse faults than being spoiled. But still, I can't help myself. I give Son #2 "The Look" and whisper to him, ever so discreetly, "You don't pull that crap at his house, do you????"

So tell me honestly. Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Am I too old fashioned? I am, after all, (gasp!) over 40. Have the standards changed? Oy Vey!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twas the Day After Christmas, and All Through the House...

CHAOS reigns!!!!!

Actually, it's not that bad (any more). I did manage to get the unwrapped gifts into the recipients' respective rooms. Many, however, are still in their boxes and stacked on the floor. But at least I managed to get them all out of the living room.

Santa Claus - and Grammy Claus (my mom) - were very good to the boys this year. Among their haul this year: a Star Wars light saber that lights up and makes sounds (Son #3), a large teddy bear (Son #3), a Star Wars light saber that plugs in to the TV so you can battle on-screen opponents (Son #2), various Nintendo DS and Game Cube games, stuffed pink pigs (Son #2), a Lego dragon kit (Son #1), a build-your-own robot (Son #1), two stuffed lambs (Son #3), Bionicles (for all 3), a mini roboreptile and a mini robosapien (both for Son #3), Barnes & Noble gift cards (Sons #1&2), pajamas (for all 3), two DVDs (Chicken Little and Over the Hedge), a bracelet with a small lucite square containing a real beetle (Son #1 loves it), and a Chinese dragon statue (Son #1 again). The list goes on and one.

Dear Hubby received three Star Wars DVDs, some dress shirts and a sweater from my mom. I gave him a bottle of Polo Double Black cologne. This is in addition to the two early Christmas gifts he received within the past couple of month (a set of Litury of the Hours, plus a backpack, sleeping bag and combo). My gifts included a small but really cute leather handbag, an iPod Shuffle (both from Dear Hubby), as well as three sweaters, two casual tops and two pins from my mother. I also received a Lowe's gift card from my brother-in-law. His family draws names for Christmas and he picked mine.

Now we all know that getting gifts is not the true meaning of Christmas. My kids are very tolerant of my near constant reminders of this fact. But once Christmas morning comes, let's just say the message gets a little lost in the mix. It's hard not to be seduced but pretty wrapping paper and bows.

I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas and may the true spirit of Christmas remain long after the mess is cleaned up and the decorations put away.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Deck The Halls...

Above is the finished product. The tree is an artificial 9.5 foot pre-lit (thank goodness!) slim pine. I think its scale suits the room, which is pretty small, but with 11 foot ceilings. The photo was taken at an odd angle - it's hard to tell, but ours is a corner fireplace. We painted that wall red as an accent. The white portion above the red is actually where the ceiling slopes downward. Obviously it looks better when you can see it in 3-dimensions.

Do you see the little village on the floor to the right of the tree? Son #1 and I had fun putting that together, although I have to watch it. Son #1 has an offbeat sense of humor and will sometimes make small "modifications". For example, there's a small fox that he propped up so it looked like it was peeing on the tiny fire hydrant.

I didn't set up my Nativity this year (I'm down to only one Wise Man anyway), but I did put the Holy Family under our tree. My advent wreath has a smaller Nativity included - that's on a table that's not visible in the photo.

You can't see it in the above photo, but there are small plush toys tucked in the tree. They are collection of Rudolph characters. My mother bought them for me at CVS Drugs a few years ago. I have the entire set: Rudolph, Sam the Snowman, Coach Reindeer, Hermie, Yukon Cornelius, Clarice, Abominable Snow Monster, Tall Skinny Elf, Grumpy Head Elf, Santa, King Moonracer (lion) and of course all of the misfit toys: train with square wheels, jelly gun, cowboy riding the ostrich, spotted elephant, Charlie in the box, plane that doesn't fly, and the doll (why is she a misfit anyway - she seemed perfectly fine to me). I'm probably omitting a couple.

Now, back to the tree. Here are a few more of our ornaments:

The ornaments above are Son #3's baby ornaments. Each of my kids has a set but for some reason Sons #1&2 opted not to put theirs on the tree this year.

Friday, December 15, 2006

More Christmas Spirit

Here are some more photos of our ornament collection. Below are some lovely glass bird ornaments. Son #1 has a fascination with peacock feathers so that ornament is his. I liked it so much that my mother sent one to me as well, but it's not visible in the photo. The little gold bird with the purple feather tail is Son #3's from last year. The ornament in the bottom left corner of the photo is a bird in a nest.

The below photo isn't great, but it's of three glass pink pig ornaments. The ones on the right and left belong to Son #2 (aside from Betty Boop, he loves pink pigs). The one in the center has wings. That one is mine, since I have a thing for flying pigs. As you can probably guess, this is pretty much the only pink we have in our house.

These are the Hallmark photo ornaments from a couple of years ago. Although you cannot see the photographs well, the one of the left is of Son #3 when he was 2. The one in the center is Son #2's First Communion photo. The one of the right is of all three of my sons. All the photos were take taken two years ago.

Tomorrow I'll post more pix, including a full length view of the tree (requested via email by a non-blogging reader/friend of mine).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

I'm borrowing an idea from Lala (you can visit her blog by clicking on the title: Insight to Lala's World). I'm posting some photos of the special ornaments that adorn our artificial 9.5 foot slim Christmas tree.

My ornaments are clustered by 'theme' on the tree. Over all, it's a hodge-podge of collections. We try to buy one special ornament each year for the boys that commemorate their activities, interests, etc. Unfortunately, my mother and I can't seem to stick to the one ornament "rule". :-)

The ornaments above are part of our collection of White House ornaments. My mother has been sending them each year for about six years now.

It's hard to see the top ornament in the above photo. It's Dear Hubby's policeman bell ornament. He was a police officer from 1992-1999 - a job he loved. The other ornament is mine. No, I'm not a convict. Some of you might recognize it as the Hamburglar from McDonald's. I worked as a secretary in their regional office a few years back.

One year I had the opportunity to don the Hamburglar suit (the fiberglass head stunk!) and accompany Ronald McDonald himself on a tour. We visited one of the local McDonald's restaurants, before visiting the local Ronald McDonald House (it's where the families of sick children can stay while their ill loved one is receiving medical treatment at a local hospital). Afterward, we visited the kids at Children's Hospital. Something as simple as two idiots in costume brought a lot of smiles to kids and adults alike. Despite the heat (it was 85 degrees that day) and the smell, it really was a fun day. It was also a nice McMemory.

The ornaments above belong to Son #2. When he was very young - 2 or so - he developed a 'crush' on Betty Boop, or "Miss Boop" as he called her (he's quite the gentleman). My mother-in-law had a little Betty Boop doll that Son #2 would carry around when he visited her house. His uncles were mortified. Their nephew with a doll - the horror!!! Betty Boop mysteriously vanished, never to be seen again. Gee, I wonder who was behind that? (you can't hear the sarcasm in my voice, but it's there) My mother got even by sending Son #2 another Betty Boop - ahem - action figure, which he still has. He drinks his cocoa from a Boop mug, and yes, has a few Boop ornaments.

I'll post more pix soon!

Monday, December 11, 2006

And Yet I Caved.

Yes, I'm overprotective, but I ended up giving in (see previous post). I had a couple of nice, rather lengthy phone conversations with Birthday Boy's mom and her family's values seem similar to ours.

She only allowed Birthday Boy to invite a few friends to the sleepover and he ended up with a pretty small turnout. Of the 3 other kids that attended, Son #1 knew two pretty well, plus I know the parents of one of the other guests (who is also a neighbor of the Birthday Boy's family) so I did let that influence my decision a bit.

Son #1 ended up having a great time. (Whew!)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I'm Over-protective

There. I said it. Son #1 (age 11.5) was invited to a classmate's sleepover/birthday party but I'm not sure how keen I am on allowing him to go. It starts Friday around 6-7 pm. The next morning there'll be cake, ice cream, gifts, followed by pizza and a movie. The invitation says we can pick my son up between 4 and 5 on Saturday afternoon.

Red flag #1: How insane must these parents be to host a houseful of boys (8 are invited) for almost twenty-one hours??? Okay, so I'm mostly kidding there.

The birthday boy and Son #1 have been in the same class at school for the past three years. Last year, they didn't get along so well, but Son #1 tolerated Birthday Boy's teasing because they share a mutual friend (Son #1's best friend ever). I recall last summer Son #1 hoping that Birthday Boy would not be in his class this year. We talked about ways that Son #1 could better stand up for himself without making Best Friend Ever choose who to hang with. We also talked about how Birthday Boy might mature over the summer.

Well, here we are halfway through the school year and Son #1 and Birthday Boy are getting along fine. Son #1 is happy to have been invited. He's rarely invited to parties unless it's for family or he's being invited as a courtesy because Son #2 (the more outgoing of my two older boys) has been invited and their social circles overlap. Actually Son #1 doesn't have much of a social circle. He has a few kids he spends time with at school, but at home, he prefers reading and building things to spending time with something as trivial as people.

Son #1 wants to attend the party. I spoke to Best Friend Ever's mom. Her son was invited but isn't too excited to be going. There are some "things" going on (red flag #2), but she really didn't elaborate. I think BFE might be tiring of Birthday Boy. She said if BFE wanted to go, she'd let him, but she's not pushing it, which I can respect.

Son #1 and I left it at this: he needs to ask Birthday Boy who else is attending. If Son #1 knows them pretty well, I'll consider it. My concern is if Son #1 doesn't know any of the other guests, how will he handle it if Birthday Boy reverts to his former pattern of teasing my kid?

Am I worrying too much? Am I not trusting Son #1's judgment enough? Son #1 has ADHD and a speech impediment. He's an eccentric child, but very small for his age. Sometimes (okay, often) I'm afraid this will make him an 'easy target'.

My latest thought is that perhaps I can come up with a conflict for Friday night, but call Birthday Boy's mom to see if it would be okay for Son #1 to join the festivities early Saturday. It would be different if I new Birthday Boy and his parents better. On the other hand, I share his excitement that he has another friend. I know I can't hold his hand forever, but I have a tough time knowing when to let him spread his wings. (And to be honest, I do sometimes underestimate Son #1.)

Decisions, decisions....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The End of Life As We Know It?

Okay, I'm exaggerating, but we finally got cable TV. We had it when Dear Hubby and I lived in Virginia but when we moved back to our birth state in 1999, we didn't bother with it. No particular reason why. We were in an apartment, the kids were small (4, 2 and non-existent), we spend much of our free time at Dear Hubby's parents house. It just seemed...unnecessary.

When we moved into our house in 2001, we considered getting cable, but truth be told, we had gotten used to not having it. Plus we could always find something else on which to spend the 50 or so dollars a month. Then there was the whole having to wait at home for the cable installer to arrive. Why this would bother me, a stay-home mom, I don't know.

Our family doesn't spend that much time watching TV. When Son #3 (age 4) and I are home during the day, the TV is rarely on. I might let him watch an episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog or Dragon Tales on the small TV in my room when I'm taking a shower, but that's pretty much it, until Dear Hubby gets home. He seems to like having the TV on as 'background noise.' Personally, I think our household generates enough noise on its own so I only turn the TV on if there's something I want to watch. Without cable, the choices are pretty limited. Two really clear local stations (ABC and FOX) and a few more fuzzy (CBS, CW) or hit-or-miss stations (NBC, PBS).

The rabbit ears were letting us down, so I finally decided to call our local cable company, which interesting enough, does not have a local phone number. Go figure. Let's just say that getting cable was not as simple as one phone call. Below is a brief synopsis:

Oct. 23 - I placed my initial call to the toll-free number set up service. I'm told they'll have to do a "serviceability assessment" to see if they service my area. Whatever.

Oct. 31 - Sharona at the cable company (she's in Tacoma, WA) tells me that my 'ticket' is listed as "pending" which means they're still working on it.

Nov. 1 - After spending several minutes on hold, Randy (Minneapolis, I think) tells me that serviceability has been approved, but the details have not been entered into the system yet.

Nov. 6 - Lisa (don't know where she is) said I needed to talk with the repair dept. Before I could tell her that no, I don't, she transfers me to Ellen who says that Randy was incorrect and that this company does NOT serve my area. That's a crock and I tell her so. I explained that prior to Hurricane Katrina, the people across the street from me had cable with this company. (They switched to satellite because it took the cable company 3 months to restore service to our neighborhood.) Lisa transfers me to Ellen who suggests I visit my local cable office and gives me an address for one approximately 40 miles away. She said they didn't have a phone number on file for that office.

Nov. 8 - I speak with Kim in Kingsport, TN, who checks the log associated with my address and says that they do indeed service my area, and that apparently I need a piece of equipment installed - a "4 port, 10 tap". Since they don't have a phone number for my local cable office, she'll ask her supervisor, Lori, to email them. I'm told to call back in a few days. Do I need a direct phone number, extension, etc.? Nope, Kim says, just ask for the Kingsport Help Desk.

Nov. 16 - After not hearing back, I call speak to Isara to tells me that they do not service my area (what the ???). I ask if she can transfer me to the Kingsport Help Desk but she says she cannot without an extension number. At this point I hang up, and go door to door checking with my neighbors to see which ones have/had cable TV. There are only 11 houses on my street. The house across the street had cable, the house two doors to my right had cable, the house to my immediate left has cable. Armed with this new info, I call back.

Nov. 16 - I speak to Dante (Atlanta, I think) and tell him of my little neighborhood "survey." He pulls up my record and says that I had an "appointment" on November 9th. What??? No one told me of any appointment, nor did anyone call me (I provided my cell phone number so I could be reached no matter where I was). He says he'll 'reissue' the ticket.

Nov. 21
- I see a cable truck driving up my street. Resisting the urge to throw myself in front of it, I'm cautiously optimistic when it stops right in front of my house. The guy asks what kind of trouble am I having with my cable. Uh, getting it? He looks at my house, and the utility pole next door. Yep, they service my area (duh).

Nov. 30 - Kerry from the local office calls. The local office, by the way, is only 8 miles away,and yes, I have her local phone number stored in my cell phone now. We discuss the plan I want (Expanded basic, no premium channels). She extends the new customer discount for longer than what's generally advertised. She sets up the installation for the following day.

Dec. 1 - we finally come into the 20th Century (I say 20th, because I'm still on dialup internet).

So now, I'm wondering about the effect on our family dynamic. We're a family that usually watches TV together, or else Dear Hubby and I watch TV while the kids are off playing elsewhere in the house. I've kind of prided ourselves on being one of those families that does stuff, instead of spending hours in front of the tube. But now, there are more viewing options. Will the kids want to hang out glued to Cartoon Network like they do at their Paw Paw's house? Will Dear Hubby opt to watch the History Channel in the bedroom while I'm watching AMC in the living room? How much TV will we be watching? How much sleep will I lose now watching back to back episodes of 'Forensic Files' on A&E? Is this the end of civilization as I know it? ;-)