Tag Archives: holidays

Let the festivities begin!


So this morning we ventured forth into the 22 degree weather to get our annual Christmas tree.  This marks the fifth straight year that we have done so as a family, going to the same tree farm each year.  We like this tree farm because although the trees are somewhat more expensive than the ones at the gas station, they have a petting zoo and free cocoa and they drill a hole in the end of your tree and stick it on a patented “Marriage Saving Tree Stand” so that when you get it home you just stand it up and it’s ready to decorate.

Note: feeding farm animals a handful of oats for 25 cents — thereby transforming a fifteen dollar bag of oats into a veritable gold mine for the farm (note to self: THIS IS WHERE THE MONEY IS EARNED, THE TREES ARE JUST TO LURE YOU IN) is a major draw for the children, but it’s the tree stand that brings The Lovely Rhonda and I back year after expensive year.  No price is too high to pay to get out of having to apply a rickety pot-metal stand to the nether regions of a majestic fir tree, and furthermore get it to stand up straight.   It’s a miserable hobby that nobody enjoys, least of all me, the designated spider-killer, lawn-mower and tree-erector of the household.

Each year we have also had to find our way to the tree farm as though we had never been there before, because we can only remember the vaguest details about it — “it’s the one with the goats, and I think there was a guy in suspenders?” — and certainly can’t be bothered to recall useful information such as, for instance, its name?  Or perhaps general location?

And so it was that we once again this year performed the traditional Festive Annual U-Turn when we realized we were, as with the previous three years, on the right road but going the wrong way.

Within moments of embarking from the Minivan of Justice we found a worthwhile adversary and, as always, I was elected to dispatch the thing.  We dragged its gory remains back to the van:

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Then as we drove it up to the barn for embalming shaking and baling, TLR said, Um, guys?  Look out the back window?  What is that?

And there was a llama being walked around the estate, all splay footed and knobbly kneed, and we had to pile out and meet it.

Her name was Shania Twain and we dutifully had a photo op.

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Once we’d exhausted the possibilities of the llama-tree-farm juxtaposition absurdity factor, we crept onwards to the barn.  We allowed the children to ride sans belts, on the floor if desired, and the eldest enjoyed a heretofore unprecedented joyride in the forbidden front seat.  Such is our carefree existence that this relaxation of protocol made them all giddy and unmanageable.

At the tiny guard hut where you pay for your kill tree, the cashier informed us jubilantly that the car ahead of us had gotten their tree for free.  One of the local credit unions was handing out envelopes with coupons in them for varying amounts off of the purchase price of the trees, and these lucky bastards fortunate holiday shoppers had received a fifty dollar coupon.  Ours was for twenty dollars for which we were pretty stoked, right up until we heard that.  THANKS FOR THE BUZZKILL, CASHIER LADY.

I kid.  The whole thing was pretty magical.  We had no idea they were doing that today and it was a really nice bonus to get the tree for basically one-third off.

We had that sucker shaken, baled and stuffed in to the MOJ in no time and proceeded on, as is customary, to the petting zoo.

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Then we piled into the MOJ and drove our trophy home, to display it in all its grisly splendor until the day after Christmas, at which point I will become physically unable to stand the disruption for ONE. MORE. SECOND. and strip it of ornaments and lights and dump it in the side yard.  The end.

And I’m Spent


So in just six short hours we will be mid-frenzy trying to get out the door to the airport.  The children are nestled all snug in their beds, actually all having a sleepover in one room to accommodate the house sitter and her son who will be holding down the fort while we are gone.

It was a real treat getting the little dears into bed.  Nobody was happy, but we grimly soldiered on and stuck to our exhausted guns.  They all swore they would never be able to sleep like this, not in a million long, boring years, but half an hour later they were all asleep.

Once they were down, we sprang into action.  Six clever be-wheeled suitcases (one each to carry on, one larger one to check) stand in a row by the front door:

Rollin', rollin', rollin'!


And the surprise Disney extravaganza notification has been arranged:

spring surprise

And now we are expected to sleep?!

The eve of the thing in the place


So tomorrow morning at the most ungodly hour imaginable we will be harassing our children into clothes and stuffing them in our friend’s van for the quick trip to the airport.  The housesitter has been engaged, rides to and from have been arranged, tickets printed, clothing packed, lists checked and rechecked.  I’m not sure it took this much advanced planning to launch the first space mission.

This dramatization of actual events will give you both an idea of how things are progressing:

The Lovely Rhonda:  Did you pack your stuff?

Me: No.  I don’t like that bag.  I want the suitcase.  The one in the middle kid’s closet.

TLR: Ugh.  (sends kids out to play so we can sneak down hall and get suitcase)

Me:  This suitcase is tiny!  I can’t use this tiny suitcase!  What the hell!

TLR: Ugh.  (shows me where there is room in all the other suitcases for the rest of my stuff)

Me:  My stuff will be spread out all over the place!  This sucks!  Why can’t I have a real suitcase!

TLR:  Ugh.  (opens bottle of wine)

As long as our wine stock holds up, I should make it out of this thing alive.


Mustn’t. Tell. Children. Yet.


So we ultimately decided to spare the hapless travelers at the airport and tell the children about Disneyland when we wake them up to go.  We’re pretty certain that the shrill cries of girlish delight will grate on the ears of persons unrelated to the girls in question, particularly at that hour of the morning.

So we decided to do this in kind of a “Christmas morning” style.  We’ll wake them up and ask them to come to the living room, where there will be little bags on the couch.

pic dump march 2013 383

And the first thing they will see inside the bags will be neon pink t-shirts, lovingly crafted by yours truly.  Under these will be their own personal copies of the tickets to Disneyland and LegoLand.

Since we’re not stupid most of the time, we will have our own copies of all the tickets.  Because children.

Their bags will be packed and all that will be necessary to do is to put clothes on them, brush their hairs, and herd them and all the luggage out the door into the waiting van of our friend The Amazing Kirsten.  We will get to the airport, become caffeinated, feed everybody, and hop aboard the bus with wings.  A few hours later, it’ll be all about the mouse!

The Last Valentine’s Day Post, I Swear


So  I was in kind of a funky place all day vis-a-vis the whole Valentine thing.  Not so much because I was feeling pressure to meet some societal standard of adequate gifting etc.  The standard is self-imposed and is one that I’m comfortable with.

No, the problem was that the item that I had carefully hand-selected has not arrived.  And when I went online to check on its progress through life, I was informed that the website was sorry but that it could not provide updated information about whether it had even shipped, let alone where in the hell it might actually be.  I was welcome to call Customer Service.

I was not, frankly, in the mood to call Customer Service.

So, I resorted to the next best thing which was to substitute a place-holder gift to tide The Lovely Rhonda over until the real deal finally makes it off the slow boat from China or wherever it will be coming from.  Thus did the children and I hop in the van and head over to a place where such things could be obtained.

Just before leaving I was struck with some kind of flash of inspiration, or maybe it was something I ate — there is a wicked virus blowing through the house, more on that later — and found myself sitting at this very keyboard tapping out a little something.

I’m not much for mushy cards full of Hallmarky sentiment, but it turns out I can churn out a limerick for any occasion.  Behold:

There once was a nurse with red hair

Whose life needed urgent repair

She stole a man’s wife

‘Mid stresses and strife

Despite all advice to beware


They married, those ladies bespoke

And some might think she treated it a joke

But love is mysterious

She takes it quite serious

So, disregard naysaying folk


I love you more each passing day

I’ll go anyplace that you say

I’ll stick to you always

And chase you down hallways

If ever you scamper away


Be mine always

…. I didn’t really steal her but it sounds better that way.

And the virus?  Two kids out of three so far.  We would not have made that trip to the place in the van this afternoon had I realized it wasn’t just one of those things for the first kid.  It hit the second one as we sat at the dinner table.  Lucky us!

More About Valentine’s Day


So last night The Lovely Rhonda’s girls were getting their Valentine’s cards done for school today.  My kid had already had her Valentine party at school because her teacher is off for a few days starting today and didn’t want to miss it, so they had it yesterday.

We weren’t paying that much attention to what the middle child was doing with hers until she was nearly done.  The Valentine’s cards she had picked out were the kind that come with a sticker that you were supposed to insert into the card so that the recipient would then have a groovy sticker as well as the card.  But she was very carefully peeling every sticker off its backing and affixing it to the cards, one by one.

For some reason my big fat stupid mouth opened and I said, “Oh no, you’re not supposed to do that.  The stickers are supposed to go inside the cards… but… and you’re almost done… and… ”

And at that point I wanted to turn back time because now this poor kid, this poor seven-year-old kid who has already had kind of a rough evening, is sniffling and sobbing about how she did them all wrong as she very sadly finishes putting the stickers on the cards.

So yeah, I felt super good about that.  I just looked at TLR and said, “What is wrong with me?  Why did I say that?”  And she didn’t have a good answer either, because there wasn’t one.

So I grabbed the car keys and said, “You know what?  I’m going to go get  you a new box of Valentines cards because I don’t want you to be sad on Valentine’s Day.”  And I raced to the store and got not just a new box of cards but a box of cupcakes too.  Because I made a kid cry for no reason but my own inability to shut my face.

And I got some flowers for TLR because her gift has not arrived yet.

This is just not my year for holidays.  I kind of blew her birthday present too.

After I got home I sat with the kid and she addressed them and I folded them and put the stickers inside, and everything was okay after that.

This parenting thing.  It’s exhausting.

Valentine’s Day


So today is Valentine’s Day, or as we like to call it, “Thursday.”

We actually do a little bit of celebrating of Valentine’s Day, but nothing over the top.  Everybody gripes about it: its origins, the commercialism, etc.  As with most things, I’m rather a moderate on this topic.  Personally I think it’s kind of harmless to take a day to send little love notes around or buy flowers for your sweetie.  And, nobody’s really connecting it to the saint it’s named for, just like we don’t really connect Easter bunnies and eggs to their origins either.  Big deal.  I think it’s a lot of butthurt for something as innocuous as this.

That being said, we also kind of “have” to engage in it a little because we have three school-aged children and they do it at school.  There are rules: every kid gets a card from every other kid, no playing favorites.  I think this makes it fair, and you can get the little boxes of cards at the dollar store if you want.  The kids enjoy it and no harm done.

The Lovely Rhonda and I don’t get all crazy for it either.  We spend enough time appreciating one another as it is that we don’t have to invest any special meaning into this day.  It’s not the only day of romance either of us gets.  Maybe it would be different if it was.

But we still do a little something, because chocolate.  And trinkets.  And the opportunity to gross out the kids by acting like we like each other a little.

Unfortunately, my gift to Rhonda has not arrived yet.  In my defense, I ordered it in what seemed like plenty of time!  Stupid internet.

There’s a lady who does a blog called Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Picturestm.  She posted a picture about Valentine’s Day when dating and when marriedvalentines-day-dating-married

And while this is funny, in my case it’s more like this:

Valentine's day

Yeah.  I’m incompetent.

Say goodnight, 2012.


So it’s New Year’s Eve.

Shortly I’m going to log off and make fudge and take it over to some friends’ house and sit and play games and talk to people and eat things dipped into other things and drink things mixed with more things (but not very many things because I want to come home tonight safe and sound, so really it’ll be mostly soda) and aside from the fact that The Lovely Rhonda won’t be there, it’ll be a) lovely and b) essentially a repeat of last New Year’s Eve, except I drank more things that time.

I won’t be sorry to see the end of this year in some respects, because some Difficult Things happened, but there were other things that happened that were nicer.  So it’s not like it was the worst year ever.

We lost an ebullient backyard Lothario of a cat who mercilessly slaughtered every small animal that crossed his path.

We gained a petite girl cat who loves food in almost all forms and sleeps curled up in an impossibly small ball.

We lost the friendliest, most unassuming fetch-obsessed dog in the world, and with him the, um, fragrant clouds with which he liberally salted the house.

We gained a small black bundle of energy, part terrier, part wiener dog, whose only real fault so far is that he cannot resist the siren call of the hallway carpet if left alone too long.

We endured many discomforts that cannot be discussed here, and we were not always nice to each other.

We always made up and learned from our mistakes.  Mostly.

Okay, maybe just Rhonda did that part.

We did millions of loads of laundry, paid many bills, washed many dishes, and sent many text messages.

A few days from now we will stand in front of a bunch of weirdos our friends and family and pledge to keep doing what we already do, only now with certain legal benefits previously unavailable to us.   And we will eat cake and high-five each other, or something, and life will continue as it has but more so.

Come on in, 2013.  Stay a while.  Maybe about a year?




So yesterday I woke up Angry, and the other six dwarves: Cranky, Pissy, Funky, Disorganized, Impatient, and Depressive.

I suspect this was a combination of hormones (because I am elderly) and a delayed reaction to what happened in Connecticut.

Those babies.  Those teachers.  Those families.  My heart hurts.  I think everybody’s heart hurts right now.

I’m not engaging in the gun control vs. mental health funding debate going fast and furious on Facebook, because I am not that kind of person.

Hello, I work in mental health.  I’m always going to be pro-mental-health-care-accessibility.  Which means funding.

And, although I don’t enjoy the thought of anyone shooting anything living, I’m not anti-gun.  Look how well it works to outlaw drugs.

So, I don’t know the answers.  And I don’t want to debate them here.

I just know that yesterday was a hard day for me with very little joy in it.  I did a bit of holiday shopping and found that I could not make up my mind about anything, so even a few small purchases seemed to consume half the day.  I did manage to pick up some silvery metallic hose to wear to the wedding.


And school.  And Christmas.

What were we thinking?

Today will be better, perhaps.  Already I woke up and thought, I will try on The Dress with The Silvery Hose and The Shoes. 

Everyone should have a shiny black dress with a smart little jacket that channels the spirit of Lucille Ball, and shoes that look pretty swell and don’t hurt to walk in.

And just now, the small cat discovered the cursor and batted at the monitor quite fetchingly, and also attempted to make off with my fuzzy hat which she has been sleeping on every chance she gets.   Come to think of it, yesterday afternoon when I got home I sat down on the couch for some quality time with The World’s Most Affectionate Cat and soon found myself with all three cats and two dogs curled up within five feet of where I sat.  It may account for the slight lightening of my mood by the time The Lovely Rhonda got home.  She is very tolerant of me and deserves a medal.

I’m staying home to avoid inflicting myself on anyone in case this is infectious.  I’ll get some stuff done and it will make me feel calmer.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

Why I Cannot Clean The House Except Under Tremendous Pressure


So it’s Thanksgiving next week, and as always we are booked solid until Thursday morning.  The Lovely Rhonda is working her four-day stretch, ending on Tuesday, so she’ll be relatively useless on Wednesday.  I say that completely without rancor because her workdays are twelve hours long and sandwiched between forty minutes’ drive each way.  We jokingly call it Bathrobe Wednesday but it’s no joke; as far as I’m concerned she’s earned a day completely off.  She never gets one, but she has one coming to her.   About the time she’ll be feeling halfway human we’ll be off on an errand.  (I’d talk about what the errand is but it makes us sound all goody-goody.  We’re not.  We are fortunate and grateful and humble.)

So it’s up to me to clean the house for the holiday, and I accept that with my usual grace, i.e. wretchedly and with great reluctance.  It’s not that I don’t value cleanliness and as I stated above, it’s not because I don’t think I should have to.  I just don’t wanna.

Here’s part of why I don’t wanna:  It will take me bloody ages, because I am a perfectionist.  I figure, if I’m going to clean, I’m going to do it right.  So, I can’t just clean the kitchen counter off.  I have to rearrange the entire kitchen because it’s been irksome to me how crowded the canisters are.  I can’t just vacuum around the couch, I must also take a damp rag to the arms where the dog chews his rawhides and leaves gummy crusty patches, and I must remove the cushions and clean under them and vacuum the dog hair from them and take the rag to their spots also.  I cannot just shove into a drawer the various pencils I find all over the house now that all the children can write yet cannot put a pencil away under pain of death, I must sharpen them and put them in the pencil cup.

Now, if there is someone coming over in an hour or two I can do those things, but not when I have an entire day to clean.  So far today I have done the things described above as well as repaired a book’s torn/ragged cover, washed every blanket/afghan/item of clothing that I come across that might be minutely less than clean, and dusted a shitload of owls.

Oh, and blogged about it.