Archive for December, 2004

Dec 28 2004

Christmas 2004 and thoughts about Grandma.

Published by under Holiday Magic,The Fam,The Man

Ahhh. . . Christmas.  I wish I could say “Oh, isn’t it wonderful that it’s over”, but it isn’t over.  Not for us, anyway.  We still are headed “Up North” tomorrow to spend time with the Medical Mothers-In-Law (hee) and Lucky and Galleta.  But regardless of my whining in the second sentence up above, I am so, SO looking forward to going up north.  I love it up there.  We will just have to buy and wrap several Christmas presents for the moms tomorrow.

Anyway, regularly scheduled Christmas proceeded much as it does every year, with one plot twist: instead of going to my mom and stepdad’s house for “early Christmas” as we usually do, we headed down to my stepsister’s in Detroit on Christmas Eve and did the whole shebang there.  It was nice, although her house is kind of small for nine adults and one baby and one LARGE dog.  The bonus part of this is that I got several hugs from my sister while we were smooshed on the couch.  My sister hugs very nicely.  Plus, we managed to get there in an hour and fifteen minutes, an unheard-of travel time.  Everyone seemed to like their presents.  My stepdad in particular was geeked about the T-shirt I bought him.  Apparently I got the Extra Super Special kind of T-Shirt that does not shrink in the wash.  Who knew?

Christmas Day was the usual groggy morning gather at The Man’s father’s house.  This year we actually got there at 9:30 as opposed to 7:00 in the freaking morning.  And we weren’t even the last to arrive!  We hung out there until about 12:30, looking at wedding pictures and stuffing our faces with pigs-in-a-blanket.  I spent some time amusing Rowan (the youngest kid), but it wasn’t too hard to keep her amused.  It was harder to keep her shoe out of her mouth.  She wanted to eat her shoe, something I couldn’t countenance.  Her mom got a big kick out of me saying “Don’t eat your shoe!  Shoes are dirty!  You’re already sick, you don’t need to be licking the bottom of a shoe!”

After the in-laws, we headed to Grandma’s house for Large Christmas Dinner and Obligatory Wine Drinking.  The dinner, I must say, was excellent.  My grandmother made roast beef, and it was falling apart tender.  She always complains about her own cooking, but really, she makes the best food EVER. More looking at the wedding pictures ensued.  Much drinking of my brother-in-law’s homemade wine ensued.  I had a nice little wine buzz going on, but I managed to remain somewhat normal instead of becoming Loud Foolish Girl, as I often do when drinking.

Anyway, there was really nothing terribly special about this Christmas.  It was the usual, which I was supremely grateful for.  I like routine around my holidays.  I don’t like surprises or big changes of plan.  I like to be with my family with a minimum of hassle or stress, and that seemed to be accomplished.

One thing that struck me this year, that hasn’t really struck me in years before, is that it is quite possible that this might have been my last Christmas with my maternal grandmother, the one who is always called Grandma on these pages.  It’s not that she is in bad health or anything, or that she’s had any serious scares.  But, she is old, and anything may happen.  It makes me extremely sad to think about her not being in this world anymore, but at the same time, I know that she would like to be with my grandfather again.  I can’t kid myself, I know she’s been lonely for the past seven years.  Selfishly, I never really think about what it’s like for her, I generally just think about what’s convenient for me.

My grandmother is one of the strongest and kindest people I know.  She is fairly outspoken, but she does not beat people down.  She does not like anyone to use the word “hate”, even as a figure of speech; “hate” is an emotion that should never be felt or expressed because it is not the way we should treat other people.  She is a devout Christian Scientist, but despite her beliefs, she thinks George W. Bush is a dope.  Grandma believes in the healing power of faith in God.  Doctors don’t know everything, and should be aware that they do not have the ultimate power in their hands.  One of my favorite Grandma stories was told to me by my mother.  This happened when my mom was a child:

Grandma had been losing strength in her right hand for awhile.  She couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but it was getting to the point where she couldn’t do anything with her right hand.  My grandfather took her to the doctor’s, who told my grandmother that she had contracted some sort of virus which was degrading her muscles.  Her right hand would never be useful again.  Actually, it was likely that she would lose all use of it and never regain any sort of control.  When my grandparents returned from the doctors and their children heard what the doctor had said, they were all scared about what was going to happen to their mother.  My mom asked my grandma: “What’s going to happen?” and my grandmother simply replied “Don’t worry about it.  Nothing is wrong.”

My grandmother never lost the use of her hand.  As a matter of fact, within several weeks, she had regained almost all of the control she had lost and was back to normal.  She didn’t take any pills or do any special exercises.  She placed her faith in God and his ability to heal her, and so it was.

Now, you might scoff and say there is some rational explanation for all of this, that the doctor’s prognosis was wrong, or whatever.  I don’t necessarily agree that God came down and healed my grandmother’s hand, but regardless, that story has always been a favorite of mine because it shows my grandmother’s courage and will.  She has never accepted quietly what other people hand her just because that’s the way it’s done.  She is a gentle and kind woman, but she also has an intelligent mind and is not afraid to use it.  She has tried to teach me lessons in courtesy and patience. . . some of which, I’m sad to say, didn’t take very well.  But, she is an example to me of how it SHOULD be done.  She doesn’t lose her temper and yell at her loved ones.  She doesn’t write people off out of hand as idiots or useless.  She doesn’t ignore those who she might rather not speak to. . . instead she is polite and gracious.  She is funny, and she loves to laugh.  She has the great ability to laugh at herself and the WONDERFUL ability to not laugh at others when doing so would cause hurt.  She is not selfish, and she does not ask much of those around her.  She works hard, sometimes harder than she should, and she doesn’t complain about the things that she can’t change.

I’m sure this is starting to sound a little unrealistic, like my grandmother is some kind of a saint or something.  She’s not a saint, but she is a very good human being.  If she ever read this, she would probably tell me that I was overstating things by quite a bit, and it’s true that she does have her faults, like everyone else.  But tremendous kindness and love excuses a lot of things, and my grandmother has kindness and love in spades.

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Dec 11 2004

Yucky carrots and wieners.

Published by under The Fam,The Man

I spent most of the day babysitting.  One of The Man’s sisters needed some kid-free time to do her Christmas shopping, so we hosted Necie (age 4) and Vanna (age 2).  The girls are pretty well-behaved, as toddlers go.  They are loud, true, but we have sat for them several times and haven’t really had any tantrums or major problems.  Usually we just throw a video in, open up The Toy Box (orphaned toys that we save for the small children who come over) and let them go at it.  There have been several small mishaps, such as the last time when we just kept pumping them full of Juicy Juice and they ended up with diarrhea.  Not having kids of our own, we didn’t know the havoc that pure fruit juice could wreak on a young intestinal track.

Today, however, was diarrhea-free.  But we discovered that the girls have become much more vocal about what they want and need.  Necie used to ask for everything in a very soft, high-pitched voice which always resulted in me going “What?  WHAT?  No, you can’t bite the cat!  Oh, you said you want to see my hat?  Sure, knock yourself out.” and Vanna couldn’t really talk very well at all, so she mostly pointed and grunted.  But now, oh now, they will tell you without hesitation what they want.  A list of things they wanted today:

  • Toys
  • To watch a movie (Little Mermaid 2 and Lion King 2, these kids are big on the sequels)
  • To pee (seriously.  They said “I have to pee”.  I was expecting the euphemism ‘potty’, so this cracked me up)
  • Milk
  • Food (we fed them mac and cheese, and later on, a carrot.  The carrot comes into play later)
  • To play on the computers
  • A blanket and a pillow (though they did not nap)
  • To pet the cats (who did not cooperate)
  • To pummel both of us

Kids are big on the mock-fighting, I’ve noticed.  Pretend to kick their ass, and they are squealing balls of glee.  Tickling falls into this category, but having been tickle-scarred in the past, I don’t tickle too much.  Vanna spent a lot of time standing over me while I was laying on the couch and falling down on top of me.  To give credit where it’s due, she would warn me that she was about to do this by going “Ready?!  Three-two-one, GO!” and then collapsing.  It gave me time to put my hands up to catch her.  Later, when I was sitting in a chair trying to read “Jane”, Vanna amused herself by climbing onto my head.  I didn’t know my head could support that much additional weight, but eventually I had to pry her off because she was trying to tie herself to my noggin using my hair.  Interesting idea, but she would not have made a very attractive hat.

Can anyone tell me what the attraction is with being upside-down when you’re a kid?  While Necie typed away on The Man’s laptop, Vanna was in my lap, throwing herself backwards so that most of her weight was resting on her head.  I would periodically haul her into an upright position, because I didn’t want her to pass out, but as soon as I did she would launch herself again, giggling all the while.  Finally, I just let her be upside down.  I figured when she wants to be right-end-up again, she’ll shimmy the rest of the way to the floor and regroup from there.  I think we should have bought her some elevator boots for Christmas.  That way The Man’s sister could just hang her up when she needed a few minutes to cook or whatever, and Vanna would dangle happily out of harm’s reach.

Finally, their mom called and let us know she was on her way to pick them up and she’d be there in about a half-hour.  Of course, the girls immediately were STARVING.  They wanted to eat again, and when I tried to tell them that they were leaving soon and their mom would give them dinner, they just looked at me like “Do you not understand, woman?  We have not eaten in an hour and a half and we require FOOD.”  Necie went so far as to open the fridge and mournfully peruse the contents.  To her dismay, there isn’t much in there.  She found a bag of carrots that were probably two months old and demanded that I give her one.  I picked them up and looked at them – not rotton, and they didn’t feel soft.  I warned her that they were old, and might not taste good, but she said “I. Want. A. Carrot.”  OK, chica, go to it.  I peeled one and handed her half.  She had a few bits and then declared “This is yucky” and threw it in the trash.

About five minutes later, their mom showed up and we started the arduous process of Getting The Socks and Shoes Back On.  Neither of these kids like footwear, but Necie is old enough to understand that in winter the ground is cold and therefore shoes are a good thing.  She got into her shoes and coat with no fuss.  Vanna, however.  Vanna fought back when I put her socks on, but I did get them on.  When it came to the shoes though, she went from annoyed to Full Nuclear Meltdown in two seconds.  Crying, screaming, thrashing.  It was like I was trying to secure the shoes to her feet with drywall screws or something.  Finally, The Man had to pick her up and restrain her while I got the shoes on her feet.  She kicked the entire time.  I handed her to her mom, who was laughing uncontrollably, I thought at my attempts to shoe her daughter.  However, it turns out that while I was fighting the Footwear Fight, Necie had confided to her mother “All they have to eat here is yucky carrots.”  When I heard this, I turned to Necie indignantly.  “What about that macaroni and cheese we fed you, hmmm?”  She had no answer to this, and her mom told me “Oh, she reports on all of her baby-sitters. ‘She talked on the phone the whole time’, ‘She wouldn’t play with me!’  She’s a little tale-teller.”  I eyed Necie up and she smiled sweetly.  OK, kid, I’ve got your number now.

The best line(s) of the night come from Necie, of course.  Here’s the conversation that ensued while The Man was hiding in the bathroom:

Vanna: I have to pee.
Me: You have to wait for your uncle to get out of the bathroom, then I’ll take you to pee.
Necie: Boys pee with their wieners.
Me: Uh, they sure do.
Necie: We have to sit down to pee.

Nothing like a little honesty.  I think I’ll try that line the next time we’re at a fire and one of the guys announces his intentions to go take a leak.  I bet I get a very different reaction than Necie did.

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Dec 07 2004

Who cares?

I was going to link to the online album of wedding pictures that our photographer put online, but then I realized that those are not all pictures of just me and The Man, and some people might not want their mugs all over the internet, so I refrained.  If you were in the wedding party or at the wedding and you don’t mind having your mug on the internet, leave me a comment giving the OK and I will post more pictures.

I freaked out a bit yesterday because I had zero Christmas shopping done, and no idea what I was going to get for anyone.  Usually, with my family I can just wing it, but The Man’s family “doesn’t believe in lists”, and I don’t really know his sisters that well, so they end up getting the same thing – last year it was a faux suede and sheepskin throw, the year before Galileo thermometers.  Ditto with the brothers – usually sweatshirts.  This year I have no freaking idea.  I’m thinking I’m just going to go to Old Navy and get everyone a Performance Fleece or a scarf or something.  Don’t believe in lists, my eye.  Tell me what you want!

Anyway, yesterday I started to panic so I started shopping online.  I bought things for my sister, my dad, one sister-in-law (the only one with an Amazon wish list), Chris, Michael, and The Man.  That leaves me with 24 people who have nothing bought for them, and several people who need additional gifts purchased.  Every year I do this, and every year I tend to just finish my shopping in one mad dash, picking up the first thing I see that will sort of fit the bill and growling all the while.  I like to give presents, but only when I know something about the person I’m gifting, OR I HAVE A LIST.  The other problem is that The Man has way too many siblings, and those siblings have way too many children.  I have seven family members I need to buy gifts for.  He has twenty.  TWENTY.  I will probably go shopping tonight, and I will come home angry, red-faced, and with exactly one gift purchased.

It is raining today.  Raining and blowing.  Plus, it’s just on this side of freezing.  If it was any colder, the rain would be snow.  I would actually prefer snow.  I hate cold, driving rain.  I don’t like to walk outside and get drenched with cold rain, because then I’m cold for the rest of the day.  The weather is doing NOTHING for my mood, which is in the shitter anyway.

I don’t feel like writing much lately.  I don’t feel like I have a lot to say.  The fact that the wedding is over has left a big, gaping hole in my consciousness that I’m not sure how to fill.  I was focused on this event for so many months, and it was always in the back of my mind.  Now that I don’t have to worry about it anymore, I wonder what new thing will take its place?  So far, there is nothing, which is probably why I feel like I’m out of words.  Part of my mind is empty.

This may also have to do with the fact that it’s my least favorite time of year: the “get dark at 5 PM” time of year.  I’m sure this has something to do with not enough sunlight (winter in Michigan is about two things: overcast sky and snow), but I feel groggy and lethargic.  My internal clock is askew.  I think it’s 9 PM when really it’s only 5:30.  I’m tired most of the time.  I feel listless.  I have problems caring about things like work, dirty laundry, or personal hygiene.  I still do/take care of all of these things, but the whole time I’m thinking “Bah.  What’s the point?”

So, all that being said, you might not hear from me as regularly for awhile.  I will write when I think of something to write about, or have something to share that I think is funny.  Updates will most likely be sporadic, but e-mail is always on if you have something you need to say to me.

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Dec 05 2004

More house pictures and Mouse Season 2004

Published by under Holiday Magic,Pets,Photos

The Man and I decided to buy ourselves wedding presents.  He got a 19″ LCD monitor, and I got a digital camera with a dock that is also a printer.  My digital camera rules.  I have dubbed it The World’s Awesomest Digital Camera, and it is thanks to this purchase that I have finally fulfilled my promise of many months ago and taken new pictures of the house.  If you would like to see our house now that it has been worked over a bit, you can do so.

If you need reminding of how things looked when we moved in, click here to access the old house pictures. *Edit May 2007 – there’s no link here, because I lost the digital copies of the old house pictures.  Sorry.*
If you just want to see the new stuff, click here for the new improved house tour.

I put up the Christmas tree today.  I love our new tree.  I couldn’t even fit all of our ornaments on it!

This week saw the opening day of Mouse Season 2004.  I woke up on Friday, and lumbered downstairs to take my shower.  There were two spots of blood on the bathroom floor, so I figured someone had cut himself shaving or had a nosebleed.  I wiped them up and went about my day.  When I got home that night, I was talking to Fate, who was rolling around in a gift box lid, as she loves to do.  Except something was in the box with her – a mouse tail.  My cats will eat every part of the mouse except for the tail.  I think they like to keep it to prove that they did something.  The mystery of the blood on the bathroom floor was solved, and I thanked them for being courteous enough to kill the mouse on a washable surface.

Yesterday, when I went down to do some laundry, I glanced to my left and saw a dead mouse lying next to the water heater.  My cats aren’t allowed in the basement, so I have to assume that the mouse drank some of the washing machine run off that sometimes creates a small stream to a floor drain.  This run off, being full of detergent, fabric softener, and dirt is neither Kid Tested nor Mom Approved, and is apparently lethal for rodents.  I made The Man clean it up – I did the mouse tail, he can do the entire mouse.

Some people ask me WHY I haven’t gotten my cats declawed, since they scratch the furniture, the humans, and themselves, and apart from the facts about how cruel and painful declawing is, and how it can irrevocably alter their behavior, I point to the dead mice.  We live in the country, and there is nothing we can really do to keep mice out.  Two fully armed (or clawed) cats do much better than we ever could.

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Dec 03 2004

One wedding picture.

Published by under Photos,Wedding

We got the disposable cameras from the wedding back today – 16 rolls in all!  Stylin deserves a freaking MEDAL for getting all of them developed.  Anyway, I figured I’d put one online so you all could see it – I’m at work so I don’t have time to do a whole montage right now.

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