Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Clap On Clap Off the Calpper

Call me crazy but I painted my bedroom today. Crazy I say because tomorrow I am expecting a house full of guests. It has been so long since we have been able to have light shed our room. That a change was a desperate need. Is there ever really a good time to paint?

We removed the panels that King Ralph custom fit to our windows 17 years ago to make midnight shift sleeping more tolerable--we were like vampires being exposed to light for the first time. The dark olive paint offered yet another measure of darkness during day hours transferred over to a beautiful Cafe Au Lait. Looks like the perfect cup of Starbucks coffee is splashed upon my walls. My new comforter set and all its dozen pillows ,of all shapes and sizes, rests upon the 400 thread count sheets--which feel like silk. I want to go to bed now, tired or not, just to rest in its makeover.

One thing, one new thing that remains just as it was--my Clapper. One of my BWFs gave me the Clapper for Christmas when I casually mentioned that I always wanted one. I attached it to the night stand lamp...clap-clap on, clap-clap off. It is like having a new toy. It is a new toy.

The other night M and I had a clap off. I clapped on, she clapped off, I clapped on and this went on till M's clap failed to register. I puffed my chest out like a proud peacock and said "you my daughter are a young pad won learner of the Clapper, I am the Jedi."

Now, just as before the bedroom got its makeover, King Ralph and I can be heard at all hours of the day and night clapping the light on and off. Practical? Yes. Entertainment? You bet! Here to stay? Most definitely!!

I love my Clapper.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Celebrations-Part 2

It was time to celebrate with the Avery's-- all had finally returned from there trot to Vegas to witness the nuptials, long over due, of Debbie and Dan. And, my downstairs tree lights blew there fuse at the most inopportune time. What's a party without a snafu; in this case a darkened tree.

Princess A and my niece Stephie proclaimed this DFF gathering (remember what I always say; divorced parents make holiday celebrating dysfunctional family fun) to be the one to fashion your "holiday best". Here is a few of us wearing our "best". Stephie beats everyone--one can hardly compete with a full-on sequence vest. We let cousin Pat off easy--The Christmas Story Oh Fudge Oh Fudge T-shirt just barely made it in the "holiday best" category. Then again King Ralph's Charlie Brown tie hanging around his neck did nothing more than distract from his transformer boot.

(M's thrift store shirt smelled like a jar of pickles)

In my laid-back-cleaning-frenzy attitude of the day I forgot to hide my Elvis head. It has been known since I received Mr. Presley last year for Christmas that there is a hit on the head. Thankfully Uncle Dan brought it to my attention and I flew, calmly as not to draw attention to my panic, up the stairs to hide The King and place the standard framed "Elvis has left the building" sign on the piano in its place. Good save! My niece gifted Aunt Linda (my stiff competition for the tchotchke) and I each with an M&M Elvis ornament to commemorate last year's white elephant gift claim fight. This year's hot item: the Coors Light bottle bank filled with popcorn. Although I was the original taker on the Coors Light bottle I did not end the night as the lucky owner...and no fight on my end to retain ownership.

There was feasting on appetizers galore. Aunt Linda's BLT dip was my overall favorite.

Then we continued with games. Seinfeld trivia. Left, Right, Center. XBox and Wii. The gamer blue ribbon goes to Uncle Dan for his DDR talent. A virgin to the DDR he may not have had the best overall score but he most certainly had the best bootie shake and arm swings. (Just more proof as to why his profession is in talk radio.)

Now our abode will take a few days rest before taking on the eve of the New Year's with a bash.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Celebrations- Part 1

I am on a path of perpetual party hosting and plain partying. I have no complainants, why should I... King Ralph got his hard cast off, traded for a space-like boot that comes off to shower and sleep and my girlies are all healthy, finally.

Here are the things that made the Christmas holiday so filling...

There was the annual reindeer relay races...this is me and my team the "Dancers"
and this is me helping my team lose.

From work to my house the party continued...or should I say started. There was a good attempt made at some form of caroling via karaoke by the BWFs and there spouses. The failed attempt at good tone could be contributed to one of two things; lack of singing talent or tequila shots.

The fun progressed on Christmas Eve when I was taken hostage in the kitchen--the stove my hostage taker. I served a hearty breakfast to my gift bearing little brother...where the favorite lines of the morning were; please pass that pint of five-dollar pure maple syrup and this is the best syrup why don't we have this around the house more often. I am thinking King Ralph will now be asking U.B over for extra fluffy buttermilk pancakes every weekend. He could even forego the other four dishes I served for a swig of pure maple syrup.

Just before we left for church I took our traveling wisemen-- who have moved from room to room, spot to spot around the house for the last month-- and placed them into the navity scene. Then we went to church were I missed Princess A, for the first time in six years, not playing Silent Night on her flute as the congregation peacefully sang with flickering candles in a dimly lit sanctuary--college changes much. We returned home to a table set with our best china and crystal then feasted on a dinner of steak-n-crab legs.

December 24's caloric intake--unmeasurable. Every bite--fabulous!

I woke on December 25 to cook a feast for our 20 guests. First, gathered around the tree, wrapping papers danced in the air-- starting at 8am...there was cameras and cell phones and hair straightening devices and slippers and 400 thread count sheets and over stuffed stockings.... It was Santa and magical memories all rolled into one. By noon wrapping papers and silver bows fluttered through the air once more while mini-meatballs, shrimp and cocktails were juggled from hands to mouths. As the guests continued rolling in one by one the prime rib was sliced and placed as the star next to these totally delicious butter and brown sugar green bean bacon wraps (tapping my inner wanna-be-chef I was on Food Network/Martha Stewart fire).

One of my favorite gifts was this cocktail slipper from cousin Nancy--a drink coaster. How cute does my martini look all dressed for Christmas?

Of course no Christmas is ever complete without adding another thousand calories so, we nibbled on homemade cookies of variety, cheesecake, red and green apples with homemade carmel pecan dip. Sugar comas for all. (I remained in that coma well past the day-late-once-a-week-trash-pick-up I am screwed till next Thursday, I mean really screwed.)

December 25's caloric intake--off the chart!

What are family holiday gatherings without a few snapshots:

There's the always customary family shot.

There's the girls (taken Christmas Eve).

The cousins...

and the group first cousins shot with my Alaska planted nephew and his wife added in by name on paper (we miss Capt. Charley and Capt. Suzanne).

Of course we had to snap a photo of the Newlyweds (and daughter). "Spousal Equivalent" was promoted in reference to "Spousal Unit" and the girls got to call Funcle Dan Uncle Dan for the first time.

I took today to...shop, do the dishes I left all over the house and prepare for tomorrow's festivity.

In other words--to be continued....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vegas Wedding Watchers Top Ten List

Reason to love attending an on-line Vegas wedding:

10. you can eat a bowl popcorn while you watch
9. your date can be a box of Franzia wine
8. you can wear sweat pants and no make-up to the wedding
7. you can laugh at the Mexican minister who says things like "Danny go claim your bride" and at his sermon that was like a Dr. Seuss book--his words all rhythm
6. you can laugh out loud
5. you can call the cell phones of those who traveled to Vegas to see if they'll answer
4. if they answer you can request they all wave to those sitting there living rooms watching
3. there is no obligation to chicken dance at a reception
2. if you have a highly contagious disease, say like mono, you can still attend the wedding

and the number one reason to love attending an on-line Vegas wedding...

1. Funcle Dan can wave and say for all watchers to hear: "Alee, Maddi, Demi I am no longer your Funcle Dan I am your Uncle Dan"

Congrats to my sister-in-law and her man Dan!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sixteen Candles

I can't stop singing sweet sixteen songs to our Maddi-Phyl this morning. She is getting annoyed...who wouldn't be at 6am with there mother batting off songs with a few soured notes. But I don't care; my middle girl, my tall girl, my funny girl is sixteen today. Sweet sixteen.

Once a chubby little baby girl who didn't like dresses because it slowed her crawl. Who like clothes more reminiscent of Punky Brewster than Heidi Klum. Who's brown curls where more like a mop. Who would see trash in the street and imagine an art project. Now stitches fashion creations on her machine, loves to wear dresses, who's long brown tresses are twisted a top her head and is tall and lean. Sweet sixteen.

My baby girl is sweet and sixteen. Happy birthday!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding Meaning in Advent

My family attends church on Sunday. We attend Advent worship with our confirmation aged, and youngest, daughter each Wednesday evening. We sit silently while a verse is read from the bible that represents the candle of the Advent wreath-hope, love, joy, peace. Each week we join with the congregation after that lighting in song; celebrating another week of anticipation of the coming of the Lord's birth. Christmas. The real warmth all the candles glow will bring.

Now, I don't often write about what it is I do at work. Mostly because the nature of my job is guarded by privacy acts. But, Saturday morning I readied myself to donate my time for a good cause--Adopt-A-Family.

The school had spent the last month competing to raise funds to purchase gift certificates, donating food and household goods, purchasing specific gifts for a specific--yet unnamed-- individual, family. The signs of a recession showed little. Generosity was abound. The halls of the lower level were stacked tall and wide with boxes; each marked with just a number to represent the family in need. Anonymous they remain to most.

I'm sure we have all done this, donated something during December for someone in need. Giving just brief thought to the nature and meaning of the donation. Probably a feeling of we helped and then going on with our own blessed lives.

Saturday changed that for me.

I carried box after box, bag of presents after bag of present; then I saw the meaning of those Advent candles come to life. I had nearly finished loading a car for a family with young children when I walked to the passenger side of the car to load one last box that had no place to fit in the back. I was lifting one of many bags of presents to slide the box of food under the bag when the mom picking up the donated gifts; and I know believing she was safely alone in her car to shed her emotions of gratitude, turned her head towards me with tears streaming her cheeks. I smiled at her and wished her Merry Christmas. Then I shut the car door.

My heart was humbled.

That mother felt it, the symbols of Advent; the hope that there is goodness in this conflicted world, the love and kindness of strangers, the joy that she would be able to give her children a Christmas unlike one she could provide and peace. Peace of mind? Peace on earth? Just maybe so, if only for her at that moment, in this time.

For me, everlasting.

Several weeks ago someone in my church gave every member of the congreation five dollars to take out into the world and do some goodness. To sprinkle our touch of Advent some where in the community. King Ralph, Princess A, M and D all donated there money to Children's Hospital so they could purchase gifts for the kids who will spend the holiday couped inside lying in a bed. I had different plans.

I am taking my money and buying ice cream for six children who are on the free lunch program. These are the kids who are blocked from being able to purchase snacks. It is so hard to watch a kid want to be just like everyone else, but they can't be because the family finances can't allow.

I hope tomorrow when I buy the ice creams they all love it and they feel the joy a sweet treat can bring. It will give me the peace this season is really all about.

Advent is alive.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let the Good Times Roll

King Ralph and I had one of those, happens-more-often-home-alone Friday nights. So we went out for a steak dinner. Then instead of getting drunk on beers and martinis we got drunk on the list of upcoming holiday hosting we have on our calendar.

We sat there going over the dates and the menus. The drink selections. The guest lists.

Then instead of enjoying our Red Box movie I flopped on the couch with my head spinning in a drunken stupor--only wishing it was a real drunken stupor.

Let's see there's next Friday's BWF "choir practice": drinks, lots of them and Christmas karaoke (because if we are going to call hanging with co-workers after 330pm "choir practice" we need to really sing-- at least once). Saturday's Vegas wedding watching party, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, M's Sweet Sixteen...

I've got the Today show hosts every 5 minutes reminding me that I have 12 days till Christmas. I need to wrap more. Bake. Decorate a bit more. Shop for a few more things.

I'm going into a panic!

In the mean time I am due at work in less than an hour. Needing to put in three hours for a good cause.

I will need two things to get through the next several weeks: Valium and an enema.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Today my hair smells like:
A) Best Western $29.99 a room complimentary shampoo
B) A mix between my Grandma's face powder and toilette water from the cosmetic area in Walgreens being passed off as expensive perfume
C) a shampoo scent that should never have left the laboratory, let alone been manufactured
D) All of the above

The correct answer is D.

Please daughters, STOP, S-T-O-P, taking MY shampoo from MY shower!

My suggestion to you both (because it seems to happen so often to single either of you out), that you put an emergency bottle of cheap hotel complimentary shampoo in your showers--for the times your bottle runs dry.

Uhg, teenagers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When Will They Ever Learn...


No, it's not Santa: Burglar gets stuck in chimney
Wednesday, December 10, 2008 4:22 PM ES
The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Santa aside, that trip down the chimney doesn't work so well after all. Police arrested a burglar early Wednesday who spent a harrowing three hours stuck inside the chimney of a pawn shop.
Authorities were called to the location at 3 a.m., and found the man wedged in the chimney, unable to move. After about three hours, rescuers were able to knock away bricks and free him.
He was taken to a hospital for evaluation. The man's name has not been released.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Cookies Sing-A-Long

Where is that cassette tape hiding, the one with this song on it?

I think Princess A being away at college [during this festive time] has got me all nostalgic; remembering driving around town doing December errands while we girls all sang this song.

In between performances we cranked out dozens of varities of Christmas cookies--mostly my Grandma's cookies. Still do.

M, D come here momma wants to have an ole' fashion seasonal sing-a-long...I sure do like those Christmas cookies Sugar, I sure do like those Christmas cookies Babe....

Nostalgia always warms the Christmas spirit.

And, I, guess, someone should start baking!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Help Secured

It was suggested that if I hung the Christmas house lights myself they would look like this:

So I secured my brother for Sunday light hanging. That's what little brother's are for!

One more thing checked off my holiday to do list.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Holiday To Do List

1. Pick up photo cards I just ordered, address and mail...buy stamps

2. Hang greenery on top of kitchen cabinets and on pillars in basement

3. Bake cookies, lots of cookies

4. Finish shopping

5. Wrap, wrap and wrap some more

6. Find some kind soul to hang lights on the eaves of my house since King Ralph has a broken foot and can't climb a ladder this season

7. Ask my little brother to be that kind soul.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My Favorite

This was always my favorite as a child. What's your favorite?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Blogcation over...Thanksgiving break too.

It appears by the date of my last entry that I took a sort of blogcation. If you must know I am completely and totally exhausted! I spent days cleaning, cooking, partying, shopping, cleaning, cooking, partying....

Thanksgiving was fabulous. Low key in terms of the amount of company I served but, still the same amount of food prepared and consumed. My mother-in-law's husband couldn't eat enough of my green bean wraps, M may actually be a mashed potato and Princess A ate like...well like she was trying to put on that "freshman fifteen" all in one weekend visit home. I wish I could insert a photo of the most beautifully roasted turkey, however my bird did not believe in nude photography so, bird pornography was out. Maybe next year.

Friday, Black Friday, I drug King Ralph (at his request) out shopping before the moon set and the sun rose--his first ever Black Friday. He was dismayed at the lined crowd outside the Target store and swore to the good Lord above that I would not get the gift I purposely set out to capture. Ha-ha, ye of little faith, I walked briskly in a safe non-threatening manner and grasped my hands onto the golden box. A niece is surely to love me more come Christmas. We continued on this path of mad shopping all day. Returned to gobble up leftovers, refueled with an afternoon nap, then back out again. I am nearly done shopping. What a good feeling that is!

Saturday back to cleaning but little cooking, and lots of partying. The girls hosted a chocolate and cheese wedding shower for Aunt Debbie. Her engagement may possibly be the world's longest--7 years plus. According the game the girls made up she and Funcle Dan have been spousal equivalents for 17 years 3 months. Since she didn't want a shower, or should I say a typical shower we surprised her with a rain of quarters to use in Vegas on the slot machines. Hopefully she'll hit the jackpot and not need to find a replacement job [for the one she lost]. So while we feasted on chocolate and cheese we chased it down with wine and mud slides. Then when the men returned from the hockey game we had family game night and feasted more.

(counting quarters $10, $20, $30, $40, $50, $100...)

Somewhere in all this hustle and bustle Princess A managed to get the tree up and the mantle decorated before returning to college. (The tree may need to retire soon as it is being held together, well not together rather shall I say being kept horizontal with a few dry wall screws and an unseen bungee cord.) In a failed attempt I tried to get a creative photo for our Christmas card. I may have to get extra creative this year.

So what did I do today, Monday...I went back to work to relax.