Thursday, December 28

Thursday Thirteen - Round 11

Thirteen Things that make me happy (in no particular order)

1. WJ
2. friends
3. my iPod
4. Starbucks
5. reading
6. family
7. driving fast
8. music
9. the sound of WJ laughing
10. snow
11. traveling
12. chocolate
13. my computer

Monday, December 25

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas
to all our family and friends!!
Love, Lisa & WJ

Sunday, December 24

today's the BIG day

Today's the BIG day! Well, the big day for WJ that is. Tonight he will be going to his first professional football game - the Seattle Seahawks and the San Diego Chargers.
His entire Christmas has revolved around football. A new Seahawks tree ornament from his paternal grandmother. Seahawks jacket from the Rents. Seahawks helmet and uniform from me. And the Seahawks game from his dad. I'm sure this is one Christmas he will not soon forget!
I hope he calls me when he gets to the stadium, but he probably won't. I'm tempted to call myself, but they probably won't hear the phone. And I'm sure the Chargers are gonna kick some Seahawk butt today, but I hope I'm wrong.
As much as I wish I was there, with him, to see the smiles and feel his excitement, I'm also glad I'll be sitting in the warmth of the house watching the game on TV. And looking for my little man in the stands.

Saturday, December 23

open house

Another busy holiday day for us. The Rents and I headed across the bridge to Barb and Steve's pre-Christmas Eve open house. It's the first time I've been out that direction. Beautiful area. Right on the water and very rustic.

Barb had so much food it looked like she was feeding an army. And it seemed that an army of people were streaming in and out all afternoon. Needless to say, I'm pretty sure I won't be needing dinner tonight after all the nibbling I did all afternoon.

She also gave us two bags - one for The Rents and one for WJ and I - of homemade peanut brittle. I've never been a big fan of the stuff, but her's is to die for. Oh, the holiday season is murder on my waistline!

Hope you've all had an enjoyable pre-Christmas Eve day!

Friday, December 22

now that we've "had" Christmas, what are we going to do "on" Christmas?

WJ's leaving for his dad's this afternoon and I'm okay with it. We had our Christmas last night. All of it.

I was planning on just giving him his two bigger presents - Seahawks helmet and Seahawks jacket - and holding everything else until Christmas day (since he'll be home around 2pm). He opened both and was so excited. Then, he wanted to give me one of my presents. A photo of him with Santa. Then another, and another. Next thing I knew presents were being doled out and ripped open by all. It was crazy!

So, now that we've already had Christmas, what are we going to do on Christmas day? LOL

Oh well! Everyone's happy. We all got what we wanted. And I get to still look forward to spending part of Christmas day with WJ.

Thursday, December 21

Merry Christmas! But not really

Wasn't I just telling you about how mellow and friendly everyone seems to be during this holiday season? I guess I jinxed myself. Not everyone is mellow and friendly. And apparently they feel the need to share their "bah humbug" with the rest of us.

Yesterday afternoon after filling up the gas tank, I popped over to the Starbuck's just across the parking lot. They're located at the far end of a strip mall and parking (right in front of the store, not anywhere else in the stip mall) is at a premium. So, when I saw someone backing out I smiled at my good fortune, pulled in, and got out of the car to go get my fix. While crossing the drive area in front of the store a large white SUV rolled past. I happened to look up and make eye contact with the passenger and found her glaring at me. Not just staring out the window with a disgusted look. Truly glaring at me. Like if she could shoot daggers out her eyes they'd be headed straight for me. I couldn't figure why that look would be meant for me, so I dismissed it.

After meeting up with a friend (already inside), we took our coffee outside and stood chatting for a little while. While we were laughing and talking and enjoying our special brews, a woman neither of us has ever seen before walks up.

Her: I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Me: (surprised) Well, thank you!

I was pretty shocked that a complete stranger, one that I hadn't had any interaction with at all, was wishing me good tidings. But wait! She wasn't really.

Her: I guess you didn't see my SUV sitting in the parking lot with the blinker on waiting for the parking space you just whipped into after going around me?
Me: (totally shocked now that a seemingly nice conversation was nothing more than an opening to slamming me against a wall) No, I truly didn't. I'm sorry!
Her: Uh huh! Sure.

With that, she walked away leaving friend and I dumbfounded.

I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt that her caffeine level was at a seriously low level right then. Otherwise I'd just have to bitch about how some people should just put a sock in it.

Thursday Thirteen - Round 10

Thirteen Things I’d Grab If I Only Had 15 Minutes to Evacuate the House
(people and pets not included)

1. cell phone
2. camera
3. scrapbooks
4. framed photos
5. WJ’s “friends” (aka stuffed animals)
6. computer
7. purse
8. clothes
9. prescriptions
10. portable DVD player
11. DVDs
12. sleeping bags
13. and pack it all in the car

Tuesday, December 19

Christmas shopping extravaganza

Do you want to know the best reason to go to the mall at Christmas time? It's a people watching haven. Truly. There's no better time than during the holiday season to see every walk of life come together in the same place. Especially now that the schools are on holiday break.

My past two days have been filled with shopping - at the mall, home improvement stores (as mentioned in yesterday's post), and a variety of others including drug stores, warehouse stores, and your typical mega chains. The sheer amount of people shopping is staggering. But I'm sure we'll hear after the buying season is over that retail is reporting a loss this holiday season. Isn't it always? Then what's in the bags everyone is carrying to their cars?

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is the people you see shopping at this time of year. I love to people watch. In fact, it's much more fun for me to just sit in a mall people watching than racing from store to store shopping for things.

The one thing that's surprised me this year is just how mellow everyone seems to be. The sales people are friendly and helpful. The shoppers have smiles on their faces. And the children seem to either be very well behaved, or have very attentive parents. Never have I encountered so many people in such a small space seemingly enjoying themselves in a stress free manner. Maybe it's just that I'm not feeling any stress right now and that's given me a different perspective on things? Either way, it's been a pleasureable shopping experience. Now if I could just find the remaining few items on my list I could call it done.

I guess there's always tomorrow.

Monday, December 18

tree fun

There are definitely pros and cons to waiting until the week before Christmas to get your Christmas tree and other assorted holiday paraphenalia. I know because I spent half the day today running from store to store looking for these items.

  • Christmas trees are 50% off at Lowe's right now
  • Holiday lights are 33% off at Rite Aid
  • Christmas tree stands (that Lowe's didn't have and sent us to Target for and they didn't have that we ended up at Rite Aid for) are 50% off right now

  • You might have to wait awhile for the guys at Lowe's to get the chainsaw fixed so they can trim the bottom of your tree and wrap it up for you to take home (apparently they need to fix the one chainsaw they have... I guess they don't know a store that sell more)
  • What happened to the old fashioned tree stand? The sturdy, small ones that could be easily hidden by a tree skirt? The damn stands are enormous these days.
  • Speaking of tree skirts, they cost a mint ($40) and since they're buried under the mountain of stockings that have fallen off the display wall chances of them actually being bought are slim to none
All just more reason I walk into my garage year after year, unbox, set up, and decorate the tree. But it was fun... just this once. Thankfully Christmas comes just once a year!

Sunday, December 17

almost ready

I figured I'd better get a post up this morning before things start to get hectic around here. We're picking up the Rents today. They'll be here for the next two weeks, so my blogging time (and computer time in general) will be at a minimum.

Yesterday was spent playing catch up (again!) after having been without power for over 24 hours. It's truly amazing all the normal, everyday stuff you cannot do without power. Aside from computer time and TV time I mean. Things like laundry, vacuuming, running the dishwasher. Hell, even taking a shower. My neighbor pointed out that it (electricity) is really what separates us from the 19th century. I have to agree.

This morning we're almost ready. Just a few last minute things to take care of before heading to the airport. Blogging being one of them.

Before all the weather related setbacks, WJ had his Christmas program (Thursday night). It was the usual singing of Christmas songs by each of the classes. Off key. Off beat. But cute all the same. I tried to get pics of WJ singing, but every time he'd look at me with the camera aimed his direction, he'd look away before I could snap the pic. I couldn't believe it. My "camera hound" kid had suddenly turned shy. So, the only pics I actually got that are worth a damned are the one's I took before the performance.
The first one is Mrs. Farrimond (our school principal) and WJ. The second is WJ and "the two Jacks".

The most disappointing thing about losing power was missing school on Friday. WJ's class was to perform a play after mass, and he had a speaking part that he'd been preparing for all week. They were also supposed to have their Christmas party and ornament exchange. Plus, the books I'd ordered at the last minute were supposed to be there for pick up. I called his teacher yesterday to see if by some chance she'd gotten them, but no. The post office is still without power. Then she told me about the damage at school. Our classroom had a tree branch come through the roof... right over her desk. Thankfully (she said) she'd moved all of the children's things to a bookshelf on the other side of the room, but she lost some of her stuff due to water damage. The computer lab and science lab also sustained damage. It all sucks! I'm just happy the kids weren't at school when it happened.
Well, that brings you up to date for now. I gotta run and finish up some stuff around here. Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, December 16

shock & awe

I have received the most wonderful Christmas gift I could imagine. And it's not even Christmas yet!

WJ will be coming home in the afternoon on Christmas day!!!! So, his father will have him in the morning, and I will have him in the afternoon.

If I receive nothing else for Christmas this year it won't matter. I will get to spend part of the day with my little man.

i'm back... warm and thankful

Well, I guess yesterday was one of those unforeseeable (and uncontrollable) Holidailies non-posting days!! We lost power at midnight Thursday night and went without until approximately 1:15am today.

As awful (and cold) as it was, I'm back... warm and thankful!!

More to come later today, but for now I've got a mountain of things to get done before the Rents arrive tomorrow.

Thursday, December 14

Holidailies recipe swap

The cookie recipes are from my dear Aunt who passed away last Thanksgiving. Every Christmas she would bake up a storm and have tins full of wonderful delights for everyone who came to visit. Yum!!

Lemon Squares

Blend 1 can condensed milk with 1 tsp lemon rind and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Set aside to thicken.

Cream 2/3 cup margarine with 1 cup brown sugar.
Sift 1-1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt.
Add 1 cup oatmeal and mix.

In lightly buttered 12/13 pan spread 1/2 mixture in pan. Add lemon milk mixture over top and spread. Add remaining crumb mixture over top.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Cool 14 minutes and cut in squares. Leave in pan till school. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Butter Balls

1 cup margarine or butter
4 Tbsp powdered sugar
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, add flour, then nuts and vanilla. Knead with hands and form into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes (until lightly brown). Roll in powdered sugar.

Note: Do not use mixer! Mix by hand.

Almond Cookies

Cream 1 cup margarine with 1 cup sugar. Add 2 egg yolks and 1 tsp almond extract. Blend well. Add 2 cups sifted flour and 1 cup chopped almonds. Roll in hands to form balls. Press down slightly.

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Cool and spread with tea frosting. Top with 1/4 almond.

Tea Frosting
Dissolve 4 tsp plain instant tea into 2 Tbsp milk. Cream 1/2 cup margarine. Add 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar and tea mixture. Beat until spreadable. Ice cookies and top with 1/4 almond.

Thursday Thirteen - Round 9

Thirteen Things I Want To Do That I Haven't Done (Yet!)

1. travel to Egypt
2. skydive
3. travel to Australia
4. drive a racecar
5. take a photography class
6. go to a culinary academy
7. ride in a hot air balloon
8. visit Stacie and Liss
9. go on a cruise
10. win the lottery
11. take WJ to Disneyland
12. go to a taping of the Oprah show
13. decide what I want to be when I grow up

Wednesday, December 13

holiday food

"What's the one food it simply wouldn't be [your winter holiday of choice]without?"

My paternal Grandmother was a chef. Not a career chef. A chef in her own right. Several years ago, when I was a scrapbooker, I created a layout about her cooking. Ironically it seems fitting to answer today's writing prompt for Holidailies.

The Art of Cooking

"If there were one passion in my life that I can attribute to heritage, it would have to be the art of cooking. Grandma Smith was one of the best cooks that I know. And she could literally create a gourmet meal out of what seemed to be nothing more than two or three items in her refrigerator.

Her kitchen was the size of a postage stamp, but was stocked with every kitchen gadget that her cabinets could hold. Almost every Sunday we would visit Grandma and delight in the smells and tastes of her wonderful cooking. She delighted in making sure there was something on the table that everyone could enjoy. If it was Dad's favorite entree, then it was Mom's favorite side, and my favorite dessert. And though she would never admit it, I think she delighted in eating too. She would trim one more piece off the meat, or cut one more sliver of pie, just to "even it out", she would say.

On holidays she would fill the tables with a feast of traditional treats, some of which I have continued as traditional dishes at our holiday meals. Not only did Grandma cook for family, but also spent years catering parties in San Francisco for the likes of well known individuals, such as Shirley Temple Black.

She never followed a recipe, and never wrote one down. Her recipes looked more like grocery shopping lists with no instructions, left up to the maker to decide what the final product would look like. When Grandma passed, I was lucky enough to be given many of those "recipes" and have attempted to recreate some of her masterpieces. Though I know they will never be quite as good as when Grandma made them, I delight in honoring her by enjoying the art of cooking."

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are two side dishes made in honor of Grandma - Pennsylvania red cabbage and honey glazed carrots. Probably not dishes that would be considered "must haves" for most, but definitely something it wouldn't be Thanksgiving or Christmas without in our home.

Tuesday, December 12

the hurdle

I truly thought about taking a day off from blogging. In just less than 3 hours I would have succeeded.

With playing catch up on the homefront, I spent the day finishing the Christmas gift wrapping and scrubbing the house from top to bottom to get rid of the nasty cold germs that might be lingering. I am tired. Not just physically, but emotionally as well.

I spent the evening with my son. Initially we were both doing our own thing. He watching TV and playing. Me reading. At some point in the early evening he wandered into the living room and said the words I've been longing to hear. "I'm going to miss you on Christmas Mommy."

We spent the next hour talking about how we would spend our Christmas - apart. How and why his father and I divorced. How much we love and depend on and care for each other. We took silly pictures. Laughed. Cried. Spent much needed time together.

I am drained.

The hurdle I've been avoiding for weeks doesn't seem so high anymore.

Because we have each other.

Monday, December 11

two days behind

The only two things I've kept up with this weekend is my Holidailies posting (if you could call my pitiful whining about being sick worthy posting) and the laundry (well, sort of - it's washed and folded, but hasn't been put away yet). I now have a mountain of things that all need to get done before Sunday.

But first I want to quickly catch up on some of the daily prompts I haven't blogged about yet. I like having the prompts, but don't always use them. So, get ready for the Reader's Digest version to catch me up!

12-01-2006: "Introduce yourself and your website to Holidailies readers."
If you haven't already read mine, you can go here.

12-02-2006: "Appreciating the smallest things"
Did this one too... just a day later than the prompt.

12-03-2006: "Sunny or snowy: Which makes for the better holiday season, and why?"
Short and simple. Snowy. We get enough sun during the summer and I love the change of seasons.

12-04-2006: "Holiday music: essential part of the season, or 'no way, it makes my ears bleed'?"
Another one I used. And on schedule.

12-05-2006: "Tell us your favorite shopping-mall horror story."
I honestly don't have a horror story to tell. I try my damnedest to get my shopping done early, during the week, and NOT at the mall. Why? The cashiers are crabby. The babies are screaming. And the shoppers feel entitled when they shouldn't. Sometimes avoidance is the best course of action.

12-06-2006: "Today is St. Nicholas' Day: Did you believe in Santa Claus/Father Christmas? How did you find out the truth? Would you tell your kids about Santa?"
Yes, there is a Santa Claus!

12-07-2006: "Write about a memorably perfect day in your life."
The only memorably perfect day in my life was the day WJ was born. Since I don't remember all of it, it's perfect! LOL

12-08-2006: "Letter to Santa (or another potentially gift-bearing entity)"

Dear Santa,

Can you do me a favor? Wake me when you get here so I can ride along with you for the rest of the night. I really don't wanna be home this Christmas.



12-09-2006: "Are you blogging to avoid doing something? Release your troubles! "
Yep! Did you read my first paragraph? I'm two days behind on things that MUST get done. Figured I'd procrastinate a little longer. If I keep ingoring it, ya think it'll just go away??

12-10-2006: No prompt today

12-11-2006: "Those mass-produced family holiday newsletters"
Been. There. Done. That. Not this year though. Can't decide whether it's good or bad that there wasn't anything that noteworthy happening in our lives to write an entire holiday newsletter about? Hmmm!

So there it is. All the prompts used. Probably not as those who suggested them intended, but hey. Cut me some slack. I tried!

Sunday, December 10

how close we are

The problem with being sick is you pretty much just sit around doing nothing all day. Just to be clear so you don't run off without reading... this is not another "I'm sick and feel like ass" post. (Cuz I'm sick of those already, and starting to feel a bit better too.) It's a reflection post on "being sick". Being sick and still having to take care of children, household chores, and myself.

I remember the times I was sick as a child. My mother would dote on me, bringing me juice and soup, warm blankets, books, and the various medications she thought would make me better (most of which were so awful tasting I thought I'd rather eat brussels sprouts than have to swallow yet another dose). My favorite memory of being sick (yes, I actually have a good memory of those times) is the smell of Vicks Vaporub. To this day, whenever I'm feeling under the weather, I open a jar of Vicks and the comforting smell envelopes me like a warm blanket.

Fast forward to the present.

Nowadays, being a single parent, being sick doesn't stop the world. It might slow it down a bit, but the basic, regular, daily activities still happen and need attention. Things like meals and snacks, homework, laundry, and the very basic spending time together. Fortunately (very fortunately) I am the mother of a wonderful, caring, supportive child who is so in tune to me and my moods.

For the first time in several years I had someone to take care of me. To a certain degree. And it felt great. Someone to bring me Kleenex before I sneezed. Someone who wanted to cover me up when I lay down to take a nap. Someone who drew pictures and get well cards to cheer me. And most important, someone who didn't complain at all that we didn't leave the house since coming home from school on Friday afternoon. It's moments like these that remind me just how close we are, and how far we've come together.

Thank you sweetpea for everything you do! I love you!

Saturday, December 9

simply saturday

I am still sick. Therefore, I haven't a creative thought in my head. Nor have I done much of anything today.

The only thing I accomplished (that I've been needing to take care of for awhile now) was filling in all the questionaires/forms for the new government hiring website. Before October 1st, when you wanted to apply to a government job opening you had to fill out individual job applications, hiring questionaires, etc. for each and every department. As of October 1st they streamlined the system so that all of your information is in one central database that is accessed by all state agencies. You still have to search job openings and submit for specific jobs of interest, but by releasing your profile you make your name available to recruiters as they search for candidates to fill vacant positions.

The process was a total PITA. Approximately 2 hrs into it I clicked on the next window button and it took me back to the start. Since I'm feeling like ass and didn't really want to mess with this today anyway (but knew I needed to) I completely lost it. Stomped upstairs (almost in tears), took a hot, hot shower, spent some time reading with WJ, then took a nap. When I came back to figure out what the hell went wrong I realized it was a system glitch, but not a fatal one. All the info I'd already entered was still there. Whew!

Anyway, the good news is I'm now in the system. I also found three jobs to apply to which means I've met my unemployment requirement for the week and can start filing for that again. Now if I can just start getting some interviews. Keep your fingers crossed.

After all that, I need a beer. Cheers!

Friday, December 8

another iTunes game

Open iTunes (or whatever program you have your music stored in) to answer the following:

total number of tracks - 1154 (this doesn't include the other 858 tracks I haven't imported from Windows Media Player)

sort by song title, first song on the list - 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins

top 10 most played songs:
  1. All the Same by Sick Puppies
  2. Anything But Ordinary by Avril Lavigne
  3. Lips of an Angel by Hinder
  4. You Get Me by Michelle Branch
  5. Ever the Same by Rob Thomas
  6. Fix You by Coldplay
  7. Clocks by Coldplay
  8. Tell Me Everything by Collapsis
  9. Breathing by Lifehouse
  10. Bitch by Meredith Brooks

first five songs that comes up on shuffle
  1. How Could You Want Him by Spin Doctors
  2. Woman to Woman by Joe Cocker
  3. Bigger Than My Body by John Mayer
  4. On Your Side by Pete Yorn
  5. Charlotte Sometimes by The Cure

how many songs come up when you search:
sex - 1
love - 42
you - 119
death - 1
hate - 0
wish - 5

today i am sick

For two days I tried to deny it. Ignore it. Will it away.

Today I am sick.

There's no getting around it. Stuffy nose. Watering eyes. Hacking up phlem. Damn!

What's even worse is my sleep cycle. It's broken. Waking up (wide awake) at 3:30am after going to bed at 11:30pm sucks. I'm sure the short nap on the couch didn't help things. Nor the dozing in the recliner. Now I'm doomed to one of the erratic sleep cycles I get into occassionally. If this one follows pattern, I'll be waking five or ten minutes later each morning for the next two weeks or so until my body finally gives up in exhaustion and pulls me down for an extended nap.

In the meantime I'll keep on. Run through my daily routine as best as I can. Fight the urge to collapse on the couch. Bite my tongue so as to not be snappy or sassy to people. And force the dozen or so pills down my throat every day in hopes of shortening the misery.

Today I am sick.

Did I mention this sucks?

Thursday, December 7

HO HO HO... it's the Santa parade

The Santa parade was here! What's the Santa parade, you ask? It's volunteers from our local police department who cruise the streets of our city's subdivisions spreading the joy of Christmas.

Grandpa Jerry and his Granddaughter

Every Christmas Santa rides around in an old fire truck adorned with holiday cheer playing Christmas music and belting out the traditional "HO HO HO... Merry Christmas!" He's escorted by two volunteer police cars and a host of children and adults passing out candy canes. This is our 6th year seeing them parade down our street.

The Big Guy

It's the one time during the winter months that the whole neighborhood comes out. And it's the one event that usually signals the start of the holiday season for me. Seeing the excitement and joy in the kids eyes is incredible. Even the big kids... like me.

Thursday Thirteen - Round 8

Thirteen Rants About the Christmas Season

Shopping season begins too early
There is no reason they have to start bringing out all the Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving. Hell, this year it was out right after Halloween! Next year they might decide to start setting it up just after Labor Day. Ugh!

Crowded parking lots
It is totally unneccessary to block the entire row of parking while you either sit in your car waiting for someone to come walking down the row or coast along following people who are heading to their cars. You DO NOT need to have one of the first two parking spots in front of the store as there are always MANY at the back end of the parking lot. The damn exercise will do you some good!

You know the type. The ones who insist on stopping in the middle of the aisle, or better yet in the middle of the entrance/exit, while they argue, wipe snotty noses, figure out where to head to next, or just stand around in oblivion. Move over!

Putting up the tree
When it's up, I'm happy. But assembly, lights and ornaments are the absolute worst part of decorating for Christmas. Do they have people you can hire to come do that sort of thing for you? Hmm!

Holiday food
The problem isn't that I don't like holiday food, it's that I like it too much. Oooh the temptations!

No, not the Dicken's Christmas character. The rotten, bitter, angry people that work at and shop at the stores. The ones who won't crack a smile. Barely speak a word to you. Complain loudly about anything and everything. If you're so miserable, take it home and take it out on yourself. Sheesh!

Buying presents for people who have everything and don't say what they want
If you don't tell me what you want, you ain't gettin' nuthin'! Nuff said.

So far I haven't had to go through this with WJ, but I remember a year being at my cousin's house. We doled out all the presents to the kids first. They each had a stack of them. Like a dozen a piece. Within five minutes they were all opened and tossed aside, and one of them had the gall to ask "Is that it?" I never bought those kids another gift. Yeah, that's it all right!!

Whether by car or air, I won't do it ever again. No. Way. No. How!

Spending so much money
This year not being able to buy freely has really got me down. I never really go 'crazy' with the spending, but I feel like I have to mentally justify every single penny I'm spending. It's making me crazy!

Screaming children
Your kids don't want to go shopping. They don't want to be strapped into shopping carts or dragged around the mall. So don't take them. They're miserable. You're angry. And you make the rest of us who didn't bring children want to slap you for bringing yours.

Jesus vs. Santa
Why can't we have both? They are two totally different, totally acceptable ways of celebrating the Christmas season. It is possible to celebrate more than one way.

Having to share
I will be without WJ on Christmas Day this year. It will be my first Christmas without him. I have to share the holidays with his dad and I don't like it. Not one bit. I'm pretty sure that's why I have so many things that are bugging me about the Christmas season this year. Sure, some of them bug me every Christmas season, but this one is extraordinarily rough. {sigh}

Wednesday, December 6

more excitement with the Lego calendar

Okay, I just had to share! Here's the 6 different things we've built so far with the Lego Advent Calendar I told you about yesterday. Today's was the baggage scanner.

Aren't these just too freakin cool??

yes, there is a Santa Claus

"Mommy, is there really a Santa Claus?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Because [mean brother of best friend] and [neighborhood bully] said there isn't!!"

"Do you really want to know?"

Of course I didn't really want to know, but I also didn't want the bigger kids thinking I was a baby for believing in Santa. I was seven. Every year around Christmas I think about this conversation with my mom. It's as fresh in my mind 31 years later as it was the day we had it.

My best friend and I were playing outside when [mean brother of best friend] and [neighborhood bully] rode up on their bikes, laughing and pointing and calling us babies.

"You're babies!" they said. "Only babies believe in Santa Claus."

Then they rode away.

I looked at best friend, then turned and went in the house. (I certainly wasn't gonna cry in front of anyone. Especially the big kids.) Finding my mom in her bathroom, I asked the dreaded question. Instead of a direct answer (which my parents normally provided) I was given the option. Did I want to know, or not? I shook my head and walked away.

I was (and still am) anything but a whimp. I endured the taunting and teasing from the big kids all the way through Christmas that year. Best friend and I secretly confided in each other - we believed. Kinda. Sorta. Maybe? Neither of us able to fully commit one way or the other.

The following Christmas I knew the teasing was coming again. Only this time I was going to be prepared. Before the first mention of the Big Guy from the even sassier big kids I went to my mom.

"Mom, is there really a Santa Claus?"

"Are you ready to know now?"

Exhaling very slowly, I shook my head. "Yes," was all I could mutter. Then holding my breath, I waited for her response.

"Yes, Lisa. I think there's a Santa Claus."

I almost fainted! I couldn't believe my ears. There was a Santa Claus and my mom just confirmed it. What was I so worried about? Then she continued. Uh oh!!

"You know the man in the red and white suit that you see at the mall?" she asked.

"Yeah... Santa!!" I almost yelled.

"Well, that's not really Santa," she continued.

What? How could this be? Just seconds before she'd confirmed there indeed was a Santa Claus. Now she's telling me the Big Guy who's lap I sat on every year confiding my secret holiday wishes to WAS NOT Santa?? Was this someone's idea of a bad joke?

"Then who is he?" I stammered.

"I don't know and it doesn't matter," she said.

How could it not matter? I was more confused than ever.

"Honey, the image of a plump, rosey cheeked man in a red and white suit is just that - an image. It's what the image of Santa means that's important."

"Uh... what do you mean?"

"What I mean is Santa is all about giving. Every time we give - presents, or help, or comfort, or compassion - we are acting like Santa. So, everyone has some Santa in them, but they don't all run around in red and white furry suits." Then she asked, "Does that help you understand?"

At the age of eight, I wasn't sure I really understood. Although I was pretty relieved to know that even if the man in the furry red and white suit at the mall wasn't the real Santa, he still kinda sorta was. In a roundabout way. Over the years I've recalled her words and have seen what she told me to be true.

Some day I will be having the same conversation with WJ.

But not this year.

Tuesday, December 5

better than chocolate

What can be better than chocolate you ask? Not much, really. Maybe ice cream, or coffee. If you ask WJ it's his Lego Advent Calendar he received yesterday from one of my friends.

How cool is this? Every day he gets to open a little window and inside is a new addition to the Lego city. Being that we just started opening windows last night, we opened four at the same time. So far he's built a construction worker, an airplane guider, two sets of road construction tools, and a luggage cart.

I received a traditional chocolate filled Advent calendar but since I don't want to put back on all the weight I've recently lost, I probably won't open it.


But not yet.

Monday, December 4

holiday music

Having a good, but rather frantic day (and not a lot of creativity in my brain because of it) I saw that the blog prompt today is about holiday music. Since I love to talk about music - all kinds - why not holiday music?

Growing up we used to drive to my Grandma's house every Christmas Eve. On the way home, we always had the radio tuned to the 24 hour Christmas music. We'd sing, and laugh, and have loads of fun. I grew up listening to the classics - Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Burl Ives. Their smooth voices a perfect match to croon the best tunes of the season. My dad and I also wouldn't miss the PBS broadcast of Handel's Messiah. We'd sing at the top of our lungs along with the choir and TV, and every year we'd say "we need to go do that next year". (We never did, but the memory still remains.)

By the time I was in high school it seemed all the best bands of the time, and individual artists too, started recording their versions of the classics. I listened to the likes of Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Garth Brooks and Pat Benatar. Not the same smooth voices I grew up with, but enjoyable all the same.

Over the years I collected various different Christmas albums. Some of the classics, some of the new stuff. Then, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Groove hooked me up with a boatload of Christmas tunes. Classics. Rock. Country. Blues. Opera. I will never again need more Christmas music. We played tunes for hours while decorating the tree the other day and barely even touched the surface. It was awesome.

With 21 days to go until "the big day" I have no doubt we'll have Christmas music emblazed in our brains long after the season is over.

Sunday, December 3

not all life's simplicities are simple

After having WJ home virtually the entire last week due to school closures and delays, as much as I love him I was really dreading the weekend. There were things I wanted to get done and things I wanted to do just for me. Having him under foot I knew "my" stuff would just have to wait. So, yesterday morning I laid out the game plan for the day. Probably the list was too long to begin with but he was eager to get going and help.

We started by vacuuming and dusting the downstairs - partly just because it desperately needed it, and partly in preparation for putting up The Christmas Tree (TCT). Every year TCT is set-up in the same spot. (Yes, we have an artificial tree! And before you start cringing too much, it's not that I don't like live trees. They're expensive. And make a mess. And ours is a beautiful artificial tree. Plus, this year I was given a little bottle of evergreen scented oil I can put on the tree and get the same great smell as a live tree without all the hassle.) Anyway, I digress. TCT always stands in the corner of the living room by the stairwell. Except for this year.

Figuring out how to rearrange the living room to accommodate TCT was quite a challenge. We moved the coffee table. Moved the throw rug under the coffee table. Moved the copper kettle that sits where the tree normally stands. All the while vacuuming every square inch of open floor space. Finally it was time to move the love seat. We pushed and pulled and turned and pushed some more until it sat (rather awkwardly) in the corner. (I should note that our living room furniture is BIG. By big I mean comfortable. We actually use our living room instead of having it sit, empty and sterile, waiting for special holidays or guests. Our living room is lived in.) I wasn't convinced that the big love seat didn't dominate and dwarf the corner it was perched in but decided to leave it alone and start working on the tree. Until I had a brainstorm.

Back in my married days ex-MIL started buying me pieces of one of those lighted Christmas villages. In all I am the owner of five buildings - a church, a bakery, a lodge, a winery and a toy shoppe - as well as a handful of trees, people and fencing. I realized - after moving the love seat to have TCT standing in front of the bay window - I now had window sills I could use for the Christmas village. WJ had never seen the village. Well, he'd seen it when he was 2. That being the last time I'd pulled it out. When I started setting it up his face lit up. It was the same happy face complete with the "oohs" and "aahs" I'd heard when browsing the Christmas village aisles at Michael's year after year. It made my heart light.

With living room rearranged and cleaned better than it'd been in months, and the Christmas village in place on the window sills, it was finally time to set up TCT. It's amazing how quickly it goes up with the help of a second pair of hands. Fully assembled it filled the vacancy the love seat had left and balanced out the living room. It was a good decision. Now it was time for the most boring and tedious task of all - stringing the lights. Ugh! If there's anything I hate about Christmas decorating it's stringing the tree with lights. I hate it so much that the past two years I've contemplated buying one of those prelit artificial trees. To make things even more complicated, WJ wanted to have colored lights on the tree. (I know, I know. Again, before you start judging or bashing me... I. Like. White. Lights. I don't really know why that is, but I've used only white lights in decorating for Christmas for so many years that when he said he wanted colored ones my brain took a dump.) Did we even have any colored lights packed in one of the half dozen Rubbermaid totes that stored our overabundance of Christmas decorations year after year? To my dismay we did, and they worked. Then another brainstorm.

I could mix the colored and white lights making both of us happy. WTH was I thinking? (I never said my brainstorms were all good. Ugh!) So I began stringing not one, but two separate strings of lights at the same time going around and around and around our 7' tree. Two and a half hours later (with very little assistance at this point from WJ since "stringing the lights is so boring Mom") TCT wore somewhere close to 1000 lights.

At this point my back and knees were aching, I needed a shower, and I needed another extension cord. After cleaning up we jumped in the car and headed up to Rite Aid, grabbed what we needed, and proceeded home to put the ornaments on TCT. Or so I thought. Apparently WJ had decided he was "done helping" and wanted to go play with one of the neighbor kids. Off he trekked across the street while I stood at the end of the garage watching him - and smoking. Then I heard it. I barely audible hissing sound. I walked around the garage trying to discern just where the sound was coming from. Nothing. WJ came home with a pouty face and "he's gone with his dad" sigh, so I told him to go back in the house and I'd be in in a minute. Then I heard it again! It was that same hissing sound a car makes after you've been running the air conditioner on a hot day and the car is turned off. On the 35 degree day we were having we certainly weren't running the A/C, so what in the hell was hissing. Now, standing next to the back driver's side my brain registered where the hissing was coming from. The tire. Sure enough there was a nail lodged in the tread.

Quick as a flash I ran in the house hollering "put on your shoes... put on your coat... we have to get to the tire store before the tire goes completely flat." Making a mad dash to Discount Tire we were told we'd have an hour and a half wait. With only two stores within walked distance we headed off to shop. Then (I know it's shocking at this point) I had another brainstorm. It was my saving grace. Starbucks.

Located just inside the grocery store is a full Starbucks. Heat. Comfortable chairs. Good eats. And the grande non-fate latte I so desperately needed. That's where we passed our time. Just the two of us yakking about football and Christmas and anything else that popped into our heads. We laughed. And we bonded. At one point WJ was so deep in thought I couldn't help snapping a couple of pictures with my phone. Unfortunately you will not be seeing those pictures since I don't have the right connector to attach them to my computer for downloading. I have them - on my phone - where I can look at them to remind me of our special time together.

The time passed quickly and we headed back to check on the car. After waiting a short time in the lobby one of the workers brought the car around and called my name. "You're good to go" he said. When I asked how much I owed for the repair, to my great surprise I was told "nothing at all." Wow! How great was that?

A full day behind us we headed home. I couldn't help thinking about all the simple pleasures that seemed to just happen throughout the day. A helpful son. The sparkle in his eyes. The compromise of mixing both colored and white lights making both of us happy. The special bonding and conversation over a latte, pumpkin loaf and a glass of water. The free tire fix.

Not all life's simplicities are simple, but I'm enjoying the one's I can.

Saturday, December 2

life meme

Life Meme (thanks to Creative-Type Dad)

1. What time is it? Time for a cold one.
2. What is your full name? Now you can't seriously think I'll be posting that here? Can you?
3. What are you most afraid of? Dying a slow, painful death. Closing my eyes and never waking again seems about my speed.
4. What is the most recent movie that you have seen in a theater? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
5. Have you ever seen a ghost? Seen. Heard. Live with.
6. Where were you born? Redwood City, CA
7. Ever been to Alaska? Not that I know of.
8. Ever been toilet papering? Of course. Who hasn't?
9.Loved someone so much it made you cry? Hell yes. Then again I cry at songs, movies, TV commercials. Yeah yeah! I'm just a big crybaby. Wanna make something of it?
10. Been in a serious car accident? Unfortunately. And I still suffering from it some 15 years later.
11 Do you plan to have any more Children? Plan to - no. Want to - yes.
12. Favorite day of the week? Thursday
13. Favorite Restaurant? The Mayan
14. Favorite Flower? Iris
15. Favorite color? Black
16. Favorite sport to watch? I try not to. Favorite sport to tune out and ignore seems to be football.
17. Favorite Drink? Coffee
18. Favorite Ice Cream? All. I'm an ice cream whore!
19. Favorite fast food restaurant? I haven't eaten much fast food in the past year while dropping my unwanted pounds, but if I had to pick one I'd say McDonald's (for their fries!).
20. What color is your bedroom carpet? Dirty, just like all the carpet in my house.
21. How many times did you fail your driver’s test? 0 (and have never had to take one again... ever... but don't tell anyone!)
22. What do you do when you are bored? Watch TV.
23. What time is your bedtime? Usually between 11:00pm-3:00am
24. Favorite TV shows? Most reality TV (Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother).
25. What are you most grateful for? My top 13
26. What are you listening to right now? The sound of my computer humming and chicken baking in the oven.
27. How many pets do you have? 1 (Jake)
28. Which came first the chicken or the egg? Don't know. Don't care.
29. What would you like to accomplish before you die? Helping just one person in need.

I'm tagging all the Holidailies participants that read this! Make sure to let me know that you've taken the challenge and leave a link to your site in the comments so I can go read about you.

Friday, December 1

it's Holidailies time!

Today marks the starting point for Holidailies. Don't know what Holidailies is? Click here, check it out, and then come back and hang out for awhile.

(For those of you who read regularly, come back later. Or tomorrow. You already know all this stuff.)

So, this being the first day, I want to introduce myself and the rest of the cast of Refuse to Blog. My name is Lisa (as you can see from my profile). I'm a single (currently unemployed) parent living in Western Washington. (If you've got any job leads in the area, hollah!)

Refuse to Blog started a year and a half ago when my good friend Stacie (who's also participating in Holidailies) decided that I needed a blog of my own. You can read my first post here to see just how thrilled I was. Not. So. Much. Yet here we are today - still blogging. (I seriously think Stacie knows what's best for me much more than I do. Shhh! Don't tell her I said so.)

What happens here at Refuse to Blog? Well, that depends on the day. And my mood. This is your warning that I like to rant and rave and bitch and whine. And what better place to do it? But I also throw in a mix of funny stories, meme's, shout outs, and the weekly Thursday Thirteen. You'll never know what to expect.

And now, the cast:

The Regulars:
Wesley (aka WJ) - my wonderful, sometimes annoying six year old son
Stacie (aka Stace, Stacky)- my wonderfully, amazing friend who I've never met IRL (yep, 3 years strong!)
Liss - a kinda sorta new friend, met through Stacie (they hang out IRL)

Guest Appearances (and comments) made by:
The Rents - my meaning-well-but-sometimes-overbearing parents
Groove (aka Hu) - friend, former coworker, and co-author of evilness
Sis (aka Jessica) - friend, talented artist, and Sister (not IRL)
Johnny - the ex and WJ's father (though don't expect to see much on him)

Hopefully that helps with your acclimation to Refuse to Blog! Questions, comments, answers (when I ask the questions) are all encouraged.