Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Really Got it Right

**Warning: Comments do not match up with pictures and I give up. Blogger has a mind of its own tonight with pictures. It's late and I am tired of messing with it. You can get the idea***

This year, I really got a few gifts right. Jeff with the ipod. His old one died, a sad and unusual misfortune (hint: never buy an ipod anywhere but at an Apple store). And the Mountain Bike magazine subscription.

Andrew with his skateboard that he asked Santa for...

...or maybe not. How about Andrew with his crane.

Or Phillip's gift to Andrew--a copy of Monster's Inc. to replace the one he lost after he watched it 947 times and the hug that followed.

And Sam with the rolls and rolls of tape. I know it sounds like an odd gift, but I saw it at my favorite toy store and couldn't resist. It had him written all over it. He was so excited when he opened it and he looked at me as if we both knew just what he would do with it. About 12 tiny cartridges of tape with different patterns (spider web, aliens, skull and crossbones, caution, all different colors and more). I did know what he would do with it, even when I bought it I knew.
But, it's rolls of tape...its existence is finite. Here is what I found when I wondered upstairs tonight.
...on the linen closet

...the boys' bathroom door

...Phillip's bedroom door and on Phillip's wall

...around Phillip's desk chair
...on Sam's door (doesn't seem like enough caution warning for his room)

...on Sam's headboard

...on Sam's wall (that sort of looks like the beginning of some pretty offensive graffiti, doesn't it?)

...on Sam's other wall

...and on Sam's other wall

Exactly what I thought it would look like with the tape in hand...only not as bad as I had pictured. What is not photographed is the large, bigger than a softball, ball of tape that I found in his trash can. I love that guy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Better than Prom

There are two things I always wanted to do when I was a kid and my dad would always say no. 1) Carriage rides. 2) Rent a limo. We have taken the kids on a few carriage rides and, Dad, I was right--it is fun, dammit. The limo thing, I don't know why, but kids always want limos.

I remember my friends and I would save up money and pool it together to get a limo for a few hours. It used to be $100 per hour (way back when). Competition is a good thing and there are many more providers in the area than there used to be--now it is only like $60 per hour. But, we always needed a grown up to make the actual reservation. That never came from my house-my dad always hated the idea.

Lately, Phillip has been dying to ride in a limo. Every time we see one, he goes crazy and points out the window. He doesn't think there is someone special inside (like we used to), but it's the car itself he is fascinated with. So, we planned a big surprise for the holiday.

We rented a limo and it picked us up at 4PM. The kids new NOTHING about it, we didn't even tell them we had a surprise planned. It appeared in the driveway. They were confused, but calm. We all piled in. "Where are we going, what are we doing, did you know about this?" The questions started to pour out of all three.
"It's a surprise. We planned it for you." Then, I offered them all a Shirley Temple (a treat usually reserved for cocktail hour when we are at a hotel). I mixed them up in champagne flutes and passed them out. They were riding in style and loving it!
Our first stop was the State Museum to ride the train and see Santa (for the second time). Next stop, dinner at their restaurant of choice. They chose Friday's. By then the grenadine in the Shirley Temple's had kicked in and everyone was very squirly, so dinner was a bit rocky. I think all three of them, at one point or another, were on the floor under the table.
It got dark as we were eating and we left Friday's to head to the Zoo for Christmas at the Zoo (like a gazillion lights). We walked all around the zoo, rode the train and then headed back to the limo. More Shirley Temple's. We headed home but took the long way to look at some lights, including driving around the circle a few times.
They loved it! And, I must say, it was super nice to go all those places without parking, dragging everyone out of the car, coats, hats, etc. Instead, we just left a lot of that in the car, he would pull up curbside and drop us off. When we were done, just hop right back in!
They all kept saying this was the best night ever. Phillip, on the ride home, told me this was a great present. I was glad that he got it that this was a gift for him, not an expectation, but a gift. It may be a new holiday family tradition--we all had a great time.

New Photos Added!

I have added a ton of new photos in the web album and I added the pictures of the tree below. Check 'em out!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Perfect Christmas Tree

...doesn't live here. Our tree is a masterpiece clearly constructed by the hands of children. The ornaments hang in large clusters on branches near the bottom. Candy canes hang half-eaten and still in their wrappers. The lights, once tucked neatly into the body of the tree, now droop and hang.

It is a real tree, and always will be. We are real tree people. When I was growing up, my dad did some work for a tree farmer. Which, meant a trade. We not only continued our tradition of real trees, but we ramped it up to trees still in the burlap ball, which were eventually planted in our yard. Oh, the memories of that annual disaster. We have done that around here a few times, but for now are just sticking with the sawed off Douglass from Lowe's in an effort to simplify our traditions while the boys are so young.

Our ornaments remind me of our house before we got our own stuff. Our ornaments are a collection of hand-me-downs, freebies and a few simple ones we bought together here and there. Some from my childhood, some we have received as gifts over the year, some we bought together in the early years of our marriage. Sounds just like all of our old furniture before we moved to our grown-up house and got all new.

When I was growing up, I used to love to open the box and see all of my favorite ornaments. The glittery ice cream cones, the salt-dough Santa my aunt made, the puffy plastic (and now, clearly very creepy) boy and girl dolls, the ones I made all on my own and other colorful ones. Then, one year my mom announced she would be getting all new Christmas tree decorations.
It was the eighties, so she decked the tree out in peach and light green to match the decor of the very hip living room in which it always resided. Custom cut ribbons, frosty glass balls in peach, strands of greenish pearls, methodical placement of each piece. It looked beautiful, but certainly wasn't the tree of my childhood.

I get it now. My mom, no doubt, conceded to the crazy tree for all those years, knowing that one day, she could take it back and make it the way she wanted it. Me too. I know the tree is cute and kid-like, and I live in a house full of kids--but really, I long for a sophisticated, well planned and organized tree with a gazillion lights. Knowing my day will come--I will have 20+ years to decorate a tree with no kids (and I will no doubt be wishing our kids were here)--I let it go and enjoy the lopsided, lumpy, almost falling over, ornaments in a pile underneath or hanging in clusters on a few branches of a tree.

They stand back and admire, proud of their work. I am happy they care. The prefect tree doesn't live here--and I am okay with it. At least, for now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Man Cold

It has already been a difficult year in our house with colds. Andrew is on like number five. Last week, it was Jeff's turn. Watch this to see what might be in store for you this winter if your husband gets a cold...

But, I must say, my husband is nothing like that when he is sick. He is strong, brave and doesn't whine. I am lucky and in love.

Email Pet Peeves

Whether in email or a text message, for some reason every time I read HAHAHA, I think people are being smart, like saying, "haha very funny you asshole." LOL does not offend me, I get that but the HAHAHA I don't get.

I don't mind :), :0, : or :> but it does drive me crazy when people write Smiles!

I hate it when people write emails or texts in all caps. My husband's texts come across in all texts and it bothers me. At first, I thought he intentionally does that and I kept thinking, what is the point--is he trying to yell (as they always say all caps are in email)? Then I realized he doesn't have a Blackberry and his phone must just do it.

Ah, his phone. He had to have this damn Razor. He got it. He hates it. It really does suck. I swear it is possessed. It goes into roaming when he is standing in our kitchen or screams he has voicemail like six hours after I call (even mine does that sometimes). It freezes and he has to totally take the battery out just to get it to work again. He took it to Sprint to complain. They fidgeted, tested, massaged. The verdict--nothing wrong with it.

Anyway, where was I going with this random post about email. I also hate it when people have like size 24 font in their emails or the letters are in colors or wonky fonts. I hate business emails without signature lines and I hate personal (and business) emails with 16 line mantras after the signature line, things like, "laugh because laughing is the best medicine for making the world a brighter better place." Vomit.

I hate it when people forward with the full message buried 14 emails in. I hate it when people reply without the original message attached (I have talked about that one before). I hate it when people don't reply when they receive something from me via email--like a simple, "Thanks" or "Got it" would do just fine.

I also hate it when email from people that I have approved, verified, welcomed and corresponded with a million times ends up in my spam folder. My spam folder is only delivered once a day, so if an important message is in there, I don't know it until the next morning. But, I do like my spam filter. I haven't had a penis enlargement email in my inbox ever since my web guy hooked me up.

Finally, I hate it when you are on a mass distribution list and some idiot hits reply to all with their response. Wow, full of a lot of hate about email today. Back to cleaning out my inbox. What are your email pet peeves?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Annual Maintenance

Tis the season for my annual maintenance. I start this week with my annual trip to the dermatologist for my annual exam. Melanoma runs in my family, so an annual exam is necessary. If you have never had an annual exam by a dermatologist, it is one of the most invasive exams ever. There isn't a square inch of your body that they don't examine--up close and personal.

Last week, the annual eye exam and the annual gyno exam. Eyes, no problems. In fact, my vision is always fine. The reason for the visits is again, the melanoma. You can develop melanoma in the back of your eyes-did you know that? I didn't until the dermatologist made me start going to the eye doctor every year. So, every year, we look at pictures of my eye balls (which, eye balls totally gross me out) and make sure there is nothing there.

The gyno, first let me just say I love this woman. She has delivered each of my three children and I have been going to her since I was 15. She is a character straight out of a movie. But, she always seems to know just what I need, especially in labor. Her relaxed and natural approach to all things human has always been a good fit for me. She had a firm voice when I always needed it and a gentle concern when I was scared.

But, the annual exam is always brutal. I knew it was coming-my weight. I have gained and she was certainly going to comment on it. She did. The conversation started with a review for me (as if I didn't know) of my weights for the past three years. I cannot believe what I weighed three years ago. "Tennis just isn't that great of exercise" she said. "Especially if you play doubles." I play doubles I said, but I said I play at a decent level at least four times a week and most often do drill-and-plays for 1.5 hours, it's a fair amount of cardio I said. "No, it just isn't a very good form of exercise."

Okay, first there is no way I am giving up my tennis. Second, it is so much better than no exercise at all and third, I can thank that not good form of exercise for my lovely leg muscles that I am quite happy with. But, okay--point taken I have gained weight. She notes I am still well within healthy ranges, but for me it represents quite a gain. Well, I reminder her, this is the longest I have gone without being pregnant or breastfeeding in eight years--a lot has changed about my body over the past year and I think that, and turning 35, have a lot to do with it.

Yes, probably she agrees. But still, you are on the upswing, let's stop that trend. I again chime in with the fact that I got to that disgustingly low weight after the birth of my third by starving myself, and I mean starving myself. I never ate. I just wanted to be skinny, so I would starve myself. My weight was so low that there was no way I could healthily maintain it. So, I slowly started to gain. Okay, she said, glad you are eating, but watch what and how much you eat.

Well, I try, but since I am so active (with that tennis that is a bad form of exercise), I seem to get very hungry some times. I eat incredibly healthy. But, sometimes I make the wrong choices, which for me pretty much focus around chocolate, bake goods or pasta. No fast food, really rarely even any restaurants.

I now weight the same I did in high school and college. I hate how much I weigh, but I am still within normal ranges and my BMI is still healthy. I couldn't believe I was rationalizing my weight with her. I am now feeling worse about it than ever. All I can think is that she must not realize how sensitive to it I am, how much the numbers on the scale bother me. And, they bother me a lot.

I am trying to reverse the trend, I am trying to get noticeably skinny again, but life is demanding and it is hard. That is not a reason not to succeed, but sometimes things interrupt my quest and remind me there are more important things in life than being super skinny (although I think I only believe that about half the time).

For me, preparing and sharing a great meal with people we love (friends, family, etc.) is worth it. I love that feeling. I hate the way my pants feel the next day, but I love the feeling of fellowship over a meal. That is my constant struggle. On again off again. A mad, mad love affair with food and a deep desire to be skinny. I am manic about my weight. In our casual once a year office visit, I am sure she doesn't realize how obsessed with this issue I am.

I will always struggle with, one of my deep insecurities, perhaps my number one secret--my weight. Someone who is otherwise very confident is stuck viewing themselves as living in a body that is fat. I do need to lose weight and I will--I can, but I think she should be telling me if my BMI is fine and my weight is well within healthy, that she is glad I am not still starving myself all the time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More Secrets

First, thanks to a comment from someone I realized I left the Hills off my list of favorite reality shows. Really, I meant to say The Hills and instead put The O.C.--which is where it all started for L.C. and her crew. I love that show and all the dirty scoop that comes with it. Okay, now on to more secrets.

2) I have a tattoo. It's tiny and done poorly, but I will never forget when I got it. I was 18 and home from college for Christmas break. My best friend and I were both feeling rebellious. My parents had just informed me they would be getting a divorce and I decided to return to Philadelphia early--but before I left, Liz and I drove to the nasty side of town and got tattoos at Don's. I seriously cannot believe I didn't contract HIV or hepatitis from the experience. Now, I need to get some work done on it and have an idea, but being older and wiser, I am waiting for just the right person to do it--no more filthy tattoo parlors for me.

3) I stole a pair of earrings from Target. Yes, I was young, couldn't even drive. And, the same old story--a friend made me do it. I even remember we paid for some stuff, so it wasn't like we didn't have the money (but I guess stealing isn't always about not having the money). She loved it and got such a thrill from it. I remember being so scared and feeling rotten. I never stole again (although, I am pretty sure she did).

4) I have bad, unfounded and completely crazy generalized feelings about certain ethnic groups. Am I a racist, well in the Jerry Springer sense, I would say no, but I am sure there is someone out there who would want to prove me wrong. These are things that like you always here your grandparents say like, "Never trust a German" or "Europeans are ungrateful and pompous." Or things like, Chinese people shuffle their feet in their shoes (see? big generalization. I am sure not all Chinese people do that, but I think they do). But, they are my beliefs and most of them are stuck in my head.

5) I sometimes like it when people are jealous. Okay, this is a big deep secret. But, think about it. You work hard, you do your best, you invest in your house, your job, your family--whatever it is. Sometimes, when people are jealous, it feels kind of good--like affirmation, like yes, I have done good--good enough to make someone else wish they could do it that good too. I know, it's wrong, but we are talking secrets here, people.

6) Last one...I once saw something so awful, I have never told another person. I think about it often and keep thinking maybe one day I can say it out loud, but I have never been able to and deep down inside, it makes me feel horrible. Someone suffered because of it and I did nothing. When I think about it, I feel so sad and like I missed an opportunity to stand up and help someone, like I contributed to that person's misery. I wasn't brave enough, I was scared and I made the wrong choice. Maybe one day I will tell the secret and feel better. Maybe I will send it to PostSecret and feel a burden off of my shoulders, but I doubt it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My Secrets

There are a few secrets (or even hints of secrets) that when I divulge, people gasp. "No way, never"...they say..."you never did that, you were never like that, you never thought that." But, they are true. I did do those things, had those thoughts and acted that way, I did. Not that I am some goody-two-shoes, but people that I have met later in my adult life cannot imagine what I was like in my early twenties. They don't believe the stories--but I promise they are true and one day, I hope you read about them in a book.

My big secrets today are too secret to really discuss in this blog. People I work with, people I live with read this thing. Family members, friends and friends of friends. I am not divulging the really deep ones here, the ones I would write on a postcard and mail to PostSecret. But what about some not so dangerous ones. Ones that are embarrassing or ridiculous or make me even stranger than you thought I was. Let's do this a little bit at a time.

Secret number one. I am a total TV junkie. I plan my evening around television shows; I have had a television in my room since I was five and need it on to be able to fall asleep (or I have to take something as the anxiety alone of no TV is enough to keep me up). I love reality television. I watch every show I can--you name it, I try to see it. Here is a list of some I won't pass up when flipping through the channels.

The O.C.
Run's House
Kimora Simmons-Life in the Fabulous Lane
Family Jewels
Amazing Race
Project Runway
Top Chef
Kathy Griffin Life on the D List
Hell's Kitchen
Wife Swap
Nanny 911
Kitchen Nightmares (I think that is what it is called)
Real Housewives of Orange County
House Hunters
Trading Spouses
Dr. 90210
The Girls Next Door
The Bachelor
Beauty & the Geek
Big Brother
The Apprentice

I watch them all for different reasons and with varying levels of interest, but I love reality television. People are so freaking weird and this lets you see that up close and personal. Even if they are acting, how weird is that...that someone would go on a reality show and act?!?! The whole thing is a study in the bizarre behavior of humans and I love it. More secrets next time.

Really, I Should Just Give Up

Don't you think? I mean, I just don't seem to be able to do it. I am going to try again, really I am. It just seems like it takes so much time, not the writing part--that comes easy, but the blogger part. The spell checker sucks, it takes time to upload pictures and then it seems like, for what? No one every comments and after more than 45 days without an update, my daily views are down to like nine. So, for you nine people who look, I am going to try again. Check in tomorrow for a fresh start.