Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas pictures.  After loading them all, I don't have the energy to write about them!  Tune in later.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Post Christmas Depression

Not really!!  We had a very nice Christmas ... now we just need to wade through all the detritus and find the floor.  The kids had all their Christmas wishes come true, and we had a nice family time together.  Mom and I hit the sales yesterday.  I was going to take something back at Target, but didn't think I wanted to stand in line for an hour. 

Anyway ... that's the short report; the long report will follow. 

Here's a picture of little me at the aforementioned lifeboat drill.  I didn't know we had picture of my terror!!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Big Apple Withdrawal

Back home from the Big City ... and having major post-New York-blues.  I don't know what it is about that place; I always feel happy when I'm there.  Whether I'm strolling down a street past eclectic shops, or checking out the extravagant street decorations, there is just something about New York City that lifts my spirits.  Part of it is because everyone is accepted there; normal, abnormal, grunge, punk, rich old lady with a full-length fur coat being pushed in a wheelchair by a nurse; faces of every color and eye shape and dress, be it Orthodox Jew or Arab woman in a burka ... it's just such a melting pot, and that kind of confluence of the world just makes me happy.  The pulse of the city is just so enlivening ... okay, enough already.

We had an absolute bash ... we danced, we ate, we laughed, we cried.  We shopped.  Oh my goodness, there's nothing left in the city and my kids are having a VERY nice Christmas this year.  My mom wanted something from Barney's of New York ... well, she's going to get a really nice shopping bag, because I couldn't afford anything there!  Yikes.  And between you and me, the place is a dump.  An expensive dump.  Dunno what the big deal is.

What I really want Santa to bring me is that Coach vest ... black, and trimmed with rabbit fur, the softest thing I have ever put my hands on.  Ever.  It was only $998.00!  I'm feeling it as I'm listening to the prima donna on her cell phone yelling at the dry cleaners or something, "I really need that ski jacket!  And when will my mink be ready?"  Sheesh-a-roni.  What a different planet.

We pressed our noses to the window of the "Today" Show set ... swam through the mobs of people around the three at Rockefeller Plaza.  Went to Burberry's where we contemplated buying $125.00 earmuffs (just for a nanosecond) and noted that there is a Starbucks on every freakin' corner of the entire city!

Anyway ... countdown to Christmas.  Mom and Dad will arrive tomorrow and I need to get some serious wrapping done.  Move the kids out of the basement so Mom & Dad can have a little apartment to themselves.  Schools' out, let the vegetating begin!!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

...But Ice is Nice!

Still neaux sneaux, but last night a system blew through Charlotte bringing freezing rain and ice.  Unfortunately, Colin still had school, though David decided to work from home, and drove him to school.  The other kids were on a 2 hour delay, but right as we were getting ready to leave, we got a phone call that school was cancelled due to the power being out.  Yippee!  We went and got haircuts and did a little shopping, then the spent the afternoon at Natalia's house.  Meanwhile, I puttered about in the freezing rain for a few Christmas gifts, and made a huge delivery to MailBoxes, Etc. with gifts for the out-of-town relatives.  Boudreaux is such a sissy dog; he won't go out when it's cold and rainy.

Off to New York tomorrow evening for a weekend with girlfriends.  Unfortunately there are rumors of a transit strike, so we may be limited as to what we can do.  No sweat ... even if we just hang out in our jammies, it will be fun.  We're thinking about hiring a limo to schlep us around in Manhattan, sounds like fun to me.  I still need stocking stuffers and whatnot, so perhaps I can finish that there.

I had two parties this week ... one at a friend's house, and one HERE.  It was nice to have my lunch ladies over for our Christmas brunch ... got the house all fixed up nice and all that.  The party the night before went on until 12:30, so I was running on 4 hours of sleep ... but managed to get some rest in the afternoon. 

Friday, December 9, 2005

Neaux Sneaux

Poor kids ... we live in that "in between" geographic area which is the cut-off between the snow and the "no snow".  Either that or it will snow to the south or north of us, but we won't get any.  We're in a weird "bowl" that is protected by the mountains to the west, so the severe weather goes over or around us.  Which can be a good thing, but when a bunch of little kids are praying for snow, they are often sorely disappointed.  So, here we are, a rainy Friday morning, and the temperature is around 34 ... cold, but too warm to snow.  Pretty gloomy and soggy if you ask me.  Pottery Barn is making another attempt to deliver me a couch this morning ... news at 11.

Yesterday was Melanie's little preschool Christmas program.  I of course did the crazy parent thing: kneeling on the floor to get a good picture of her ... took a small mpg of them singing and ran out of space on my memory card!  She was scanning the audience for me, and once she saw me, she yelled, at the top of her lungs, "HI MOM!  HI MOM!" over and over, and everyone was laughing.  It was too sweet.  They sang a song about bells, and had these little bell shaker things.  When the song was over, they were supposed to put them on the floor.  Melanie put hers down, then told everyone around her to put theirs down.  Can you say "bossy"?

Right before the show, as I was driving to the church, I came across a terrible accident ... there was a fatality, and it was very sad to think about a family with such a loss so close to the holidays.  I was 12 years old when my older sister, Lisa, was killed in a car accident around Thanksgiving ... it was a long, horrible road to normalcy for my family, and I always grieve for anyone who loses a loved one, at any time, of course, but especially during the holidays. 

Last night we were at Hopewell High School for the Foreign Language festival.  Colin has been studying Japanese for the last two years, and they had lots of sushi and other Japanese foods ... and they sang Christmas carols in Japanese.  "Jing-u ber-oos" was a favorite!  Of course Christmas isn't a big holiday there, being a Shinto and Buddhist country, but they have imported all of the secular Christmas icons, like Santa and such.  As a child in Japan, I remember going to these big glitzy banquets with colleagues of my dad's, on Christmas Eve.  It was more like New Years' Eve, with confetti and noisemakers and silly hats, and a cheesy orchestra.  It was torture for us, of course, because it went on pretty late in the evening, and Santa couldn't come until we were home and in bed.  It was fun, yeah, but a little nerve wracking!

Right before we had moved to Japan, our dachsund, Punch, was hit by a police car, and we were all pretty torn up about it.  So one Christmas morning in Tokyo, a nice Japanese man delivered a little dachsund with a red bow on his collar!  We named him Oscar.  A year or so later, when we were transferred back to the States, Oscar came down with distemper, and we spent thousands of dollars on vet bills.  He recovered nicely, only to be run over by a truck near our house in Connecticut.  Sheesh.  That was our last dachsund; we figured our luck had run out.  Later on we had two schnauzers that actually lived to old age, something I thought dogs never did; they just all got mowed down. 

Monday, December 5, 2005

The Flying Christmas Tree

I think our tree is cursed.  First a stowaway grasshopper, then TIMBER ... it fell over.  Saturday morning ... we're all sitting around in our jammies doing what people usually do on Saturday mornings.  All of a sudden, it just toppled over.  Bam ... crash ... tinkle!  No one was near it, so it was completely spontaneous.  Luckily, not too many ornaments were broken ... no important ones, anyway.  Except one of my "Twelve Days of Christmas" ornaments that my mother-in-law gives me every year (I think we're up to 10 Lords-a-Leaping).  The six geese-a-laying are broken, but I think with a little superglue they'll be good as new.  Of course all the water from the basin spewed all over the floor, so we had a really nice time cleaning it up. 

Quentin had gone to Saturday School (aka detenion) for not turning in his progress report on time.  Seems a little harsh, but dem's the rules.  They had to sit there for 2 hours doing nothing.  The philosophy is you waste our time, we waste your time.  Seems fair.

The fence is not finished yet.  The fence guy showed up on Sunday and explained that his Mother-in-law was very ill and they were headed to Florida.  He did finish the fence part, but there are no gates or chicken wire.  Ugh ...

It's cold and rainy today, and Melanie's speech was cancelled.  We're hunkered down ...



Friday, December 2, 2005

Don't Fence Me In

Okay, DO fence in my back yard.  Please.  The fence guys are here right now, getting some post holes dug.  Boudreaux is going to be one happy dog; and his parents are going to be happy people.  Every night we get ready for bed, and one of us slaps our foreheads and remembers that we have to take the dog for a walk.  These frosty evenings have made the chore even more of a pain.  Of course, the exercise isn't hurting us any.  Usually I walk the kids to the bus stop in the mornings and then take off with Boudreaux for a nice brisk walk.  I know I'll get lazy and throw him out in the yard once the fence is built.  And seeing as my cholesterol report just came in yesterday I really need to keep up the exercising.

I just found Melanie with a box of fudge-covered Oreos that she had snuck upstairs and had for breakfast.  Well there were 5 left.  Sneaky little thing.

When I was five years old my dad was transferred to Tokyo, Japan (is there another Tokyo somewhere?  That's like saying "Milwaukee Wisconsin") to open an office there.  My mom has always had a fear of flying; she usually started out flights with a glass of Scotch and two Valiums.  On our first trip to Japan, my dad noticed that the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese in Louisiana (where we had lived) was on the plane!  Mom was relieved somewhat, (thinking maybe that the Bishop's presence would protect us?) but flying was still difficult for her.  (Ironically several years later, this same Bishop was killed in a plane crash in New York).  Mom took it on herself to try and find alternative ways of getting across the Pacific.  She found out that some cargo ships will take a few passengers.  After our first summer home leave in the States, we left from San Francisco on the MM Dant.  The crossing took about 8 days, and believe me it was no Carnival Cruise.  There were two families on the whole ship, and there was no floor show or cruise director.  It was booo-ring.  The other family had children, too, and so we kids would put on plays for the adults (Rumpelstiltskin was one, I remember coloring 1000 sheets of paper yellow for the "gold")   We would always eat dinner with the captain.  But the most frightening thing of all for me was the lifeboat drills.  There we were in the middle of the largest body of water on earth, which is the deepest, darkest color of blue you've ever seen.  The ship's horn would be blasting, and we would all have to put on our lifejackets and stand next to the railing, where they would let the lifeboats down almost to the water (all this while we're moving along at 10,000 knots per hour, or however you describe speed in ship lingo).  I was scared to death that we were actually sinking -- I missed the memo about it only being a drill.  Hey, I was only 6 years old!  All I could think of was how dark that water was, and that there wasn't a body of land within 1000 miles of us.  Talk about fear!

We made several crossings in the three years we lived in Japan, mostly on the Presidents Line, where each ship was named after a President (go figure).  One was the McKinley, but I can't remember the others.  Once mom and I did it alone, while my two sisters got to fly home alone - that was a big deal.  It was so boring that to this day, I know about 1000 ways to play solitaire, because that's about all there was to do.  On one ship there was a huge world map on the wall, and mom would send me off to find the capital of country after country (probably to keep me out of her hair).  This is why I always did pretty well in geography, I think.

But for some reason I have always been afraid of the ocean.  Probably because of those blasted lifeboat drills, and the day after interminable day of being on those ships.  It wasn't all bad, though, it was a unique experience, for sure ... I remember the humming of the ship's engine that would put me to sleep at night, and the excitement of going to bed at sea and waking up the next morning in port.  The way the steward went around banging on a little xylophone to announce that dinner was ready.  Learning about ships in general.  One interesting thing my dad told me about was that they put these round metal "discs" on the ropes that tie the ship to the pier.  That is to keep the rats off the ship that climb up the ropes onto the ships.  (I'm sure you could have gone another day without knowing that!)  The way the ship would rock from side to side in heavy weather and scare the dickens out of me.  One time Dad saw mom and me off at Yokohama, and we waved to him as the ship pulled away.  I remember throwing an apple over the railing to him, as he was hungry and had a long drive back home.  I saw flying fish around the prow of the boat, and porpoises would follow us, prancing and jumping around the boat. 

But to this day, I have never been comfortable at the beach or even at a lake.  I am a pretty good swimmer, but give me a nice swimming pool any day.  Poor David missed the memo and took me to Hawaii on our honeymoon.  I tried to put on a good face, and really did enjoy hiking through the mountains overlooking Hanalei Bay, but he didn't see me putting my toes in the ocean too much. 

I don't mind ships ... we went on a cruise several years ago with the kids and there was no fear ... but I get chills just thinking about being IN the water.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Now THAT'S a tree!

For the first time, we have a two-story living room in this house.  So, I sent David out last night with the kids to get a Christmas tree.  He wanted "tall and skinny" ... with the emphasis on TALL.  Man, I need a cherry picker to decorate this thing!  It's huge!  I think it's about 15 feet tall.  It's Christian's turn to put the star on top, but I think he may have to take his life into his hands to do it.  I think I'm going to leave the higher branches to David, due to my life-long fear of heights.  (And the ocean ... but that's a story for another day).

Last night we were watching TV, kicked back and looking at the new (as yet undecorated) tree.  I swear I saw something "jump" out of the tree out of the corner of my eye, but didn't see anything on the floor.  I had visions of a bug-infested tree in my living room, which gave rise to another phobia in my life, bugs*.  Later on we heard Boudreaux scratching around in the corner, and he knocked a porcelain bowl off a shelf.  Upon investigation, we found a HUGE grasshopper who had stowed away on the tree.  I hope that he came alone!

*Scary bug story:  when we lived in the Philippines (all four years of high school for me), we got used to cockroaches the size of small chihuahuas.  (Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea).  In high school I took English horse-back riding lessons for a while ... yes, complete with jodphurs and boots and fancy-ass helmet.  (Can I say "ass" on this blog?)  The boots were very tight, and had to be put on with "pullers" these hook-like things that you attached to loops inside the boots, with wooden handles that you then pulled with all your might to get the boot on.  Needless to say, you could NOT take the things off without help from a second person.  Well, one day I was getting ready for my lesson, and pulled my boots on.  I suddenly felt a little "flutter" in the inside bottom of one of the boots.  All the blood rushed out of my head as I realized that there was a giganto cockroach in very close quarters with my foot.  Of course, my mom was on the other side of the (very large) house, but I'm sure she and half the population of Manila heard my blood curdling scream.  I came hopping out of my room hollering like I was being eaten alive, and it was only after some heavy tugging that my mom got the boot off and shook out the perpetrator.  The thing was the granddaddy of all roaches.  (Maybe it has grown in my imagination over the years, but still!)  Ever since then, I have scrupulously inspected all footwear before putting it on.  UGH, I get sick every time I think of it.  Stay tuned ... I'll tell you the reason I have a phobia of the ocean in my next blog!