Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Here's to a great 08!
May your New Years celebrations be Happy and SAFE! I generally do not go out but prefer to spend my NYE's at home. This year, will be spent with the neighbors. I usually have a large party. I opted not to this year and chose a small gathering of neighbors only.

It's been a difficult year. I was struck when I realized that '07 began with 15 Radiation treatments after surgery remove a large Sarcoma from my leg. I had Dr appointments every week and spent a good chunk of my time seeing Dr's either at the University of Chicago or Alexian Brothers to get poked, prodded, stuck with needles, X-rayed and zapped. Starting in Feb and lasting through July, I endured 3 day a week physical terrorist sessions so I could regain use of my leg and learn how to manage Lymphedema. Such is the life of a cancer patient. Surprisingly, it is now a blur in my memory as I see my Oncologist at the U of C every 3 months and have a Medical Oncologist at Alexian keep an eye on my scans. Physically, I feel great! I sleep well, eat well, have great energy and have managed to stave off every darn cold and stomach flu my kids have brought home. In January 07, I signed up to volunteer for Relay for Life. I worked on the Survivor committee and it was fun and I really needed to talk to other survivors. The internet is filled with information for cancer patients on death and dying. I needed information on how to go on living and learn how to deal with the uncertainty that comes with such a diagnosis. As a survivor, I will not put a darn thing on hold for any reason anymore. Finances will always be an issue but I'm not putting off that new car I need, the house repairs or graduate school. Money is just money. I'm all signed up for Relay this year and would like to add more Sarcoma related causes to my volunteer list. Since there aren't that many of us, we get the short straw on the research stick and really need some new therapies. I think that would be a great cause for me to undertake starting with getting the word out and then taking it from there.

I turned 40 this year, a milestone birthday. I was feeling pretty old until I went to a birthday party for an old family friend and was mistaken for a child in college. YAY!!

I went on one date this whole year. Didn't pan out to be anything but a fun 2 hours and that was OK. I decided that this is a direction that I don't really need to take with my life. I have 3 kids, a full time job, a part time job, friends, family and hobbies. My life is pretty full, hectic, kinda sucky with the cancer stuff sometimes, but not bad. I have an ex husband who finally did the kind thing and left us alone instead of terrorizing us and an ex boyfriend who is a psycho nutjob from Hell. He challenges every fiber of being as I'm torn between wanting to be a good person and wanting to rip the smug expression off his big mug and see him suffer! The angel/The devil... I guess there is one in each of us.

The summer brought three beer festivals, Barrington, Madison Wis, and Racine. A good time was had by all at each. It brought my sons graduation from 8th grade party which set records as the party that drained the sarcophagus sized cooler of beer and lasted until almost 4am. I went to bed long before the last guest left. We spent a neato week at our cabin in Wisconsin and little Emily got a taste of her first county fair complete with homemade lemonade, funnel cake, carousel and lots and lots of horses, pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, bunnies.... She had a great time. So did I.

Thus here it is the end of the year. My one year scan wasn't 100% clean as there was a 4-6mm nodule in my left lung. I'm hoping it was simple inflammation from my allergies or leftover from my cold. I'm due to re-scan in a couple weeks. If it's gone or no growth, there is nothing to do. If there is, it means more surgery for me. Pray for a good outcome. I really hated being in the hospital! 10 days of just lying there nearly made me crazier and being in pain just stinks. My Onco told me not to put anything on hold despite the news so I'm heeding his advice. I'm ending 07 on a good note doing exactly what I want to do.

Celebrate! Here's to my 08 being spent paying if forward, getting into Grad school to be that therapist I've always wanted to be, working towards a cure for Sarcoma and all cancers and being a success at AT&T plus all the great times with friends and family.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Aftermath

Christmas went wonderfully! Since we do most of our celebrating on the Eve, I spent the day doing prep for dinner. I was a little late choosing my recipes this year but I served:

Hot Crab and Shrimp dip with crackers and bread for dipping
Raw veggies with Dill or Ranch dip
Shrimp Cocktail, fresh from Ultra Foods
Pre celebratory beverage of choice. I chose beer or should I say, Joe did. He chose for me a Microbrew called Downtown Brown.

Spring Spinach salad. Nice and basic Spinach salad with fresh raspberries, walnuts, onions and a homemade poppyseed dressing.

Main Dish
Shrimp with Tarragon sauce served on Jasmine rice and a bed of wilted spinach. It was pretty good but it needed a little more lemon juice. If I make it again, I'll make a note of it.
Wheat rolls
2 bottles of chilled white wine.

Home made cookies
Some desserts my boss sent

This is a once a year thing. I'm no gourmand but on those rare occasions I decide to make dinner, I cook something nice. My children any other time of the year, live on 101 ways to make Mac and Cheese though I have been known to make a roast something now and then with some sort of marinade, glaze or sauce.

After cleanup and the arrival of the grandparentals, Santa came. Emily was all about her packages. She ripped through like Hurricane Katrina and when there were no more boxes left, she started on everyone elses.

I got my son a cell phone. Yes, I caved, OK! But I did make it clear to him that if he downloads anything that costs me money, he will be paying for it and if he texts himself to oblivion, he'll be paying for that too. Yes, I have a cell phone and it's a rather nice one, a nice Motorola Razr phone that came with an instruction book 2 inches thick on all the bells and whistles attached to the phone. It takes pictures. I can surf the net. I can play games, set up alarms and I'm sure it can fix the sink and clean my house. I don't care. I want it to a) make a call b) receive a call. I use about 10 minutes a month, 60 during the months my friend Ron calls and I had about 4000 rollover minutes prior to giving Kris the phone. I think I'm now down to 2. But he loves it and when he opened it up, I loved the look of disbelief. Cass got a digital camera and she's been such a pain in the ass with it, I'm ready to hit her with it. She has taken 100 pictures .....of HERSELF. Look mom, here I am smiling. Here I am looking sad. Here I am looking scared. Here you are right after you woke up with your hair all over and that dead "where's the coffee?" look But she loves it so what can I say? Emily got a little set of stainless steel cookware and a set of little plastic dishes plus some My Little Ponies and associated accessories. It seems Santa forgot to bring some food to cook in her little cookware but Emily is industrious. She is just frying up the little ponies. We've had Pony Tetrazzini, pony surprise, pony AuGratin...
We've been eating ponies all week.

Now it is back to work.
I hope your Christmases were just as nice!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you!
Keep it safe. Hopefully we'll see some of you on New Years Eve!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pay it forward.

Angels in Indiana

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave 15 dollars a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck.

The kids stayed, crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything had to have a job.

Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when and the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added another strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered.

I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car, or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what.

When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was full-full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes.

There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

I BELIEVE IN ANGELS! They live next door, around the corner, work in your office, patrol your neighborhood, call you at midnight to hear you laugh and listen to you cry, teach your children, and you see them everyday without even knowing it!

Author Unknown

I didn't write the above. It's been passed to me several times in my email and I don't know whether it's really true or not and I don't care.

Last year, around this time of year, I received a Christmas card in the mail. I opened it up and to my surprise, $250 fell out into my lap. The card was signed "Friends who care." I have no idea who sent it and no one has fessed up to it but I kept the card and donated some of the cash to the Sarcoma Alliance, some to the American Cancer Society and the rest went for our holiday dinner. I've never forgotten it and one of the things hardest about receiving that envelope is that I couldn't thank who sent it and tell them what receiving it meant to me at one of the lower points in my life. I'm a cancer survivor, diagnosed last year. I survived treatments and a long and involved surgery and that's usually something I don't like talking about here because I deal with it so much in my normal life. The card itself, anonymously signed was gift enough. Today, a package came in the regular mail. Since I had everything I ordered online, I had no idea what this package was or who it came from. When I opened the package, there were gift cards and gift bags for all three of my children and for me with a note. This time the perps signed it, a long list of 25 -30 names who all pitched in and sent me and my kids a little extra for the holiday. To my Co-workers at AT&T, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for that. And since I can't send you all something for Christmas, I am vowing to pay it forward.

I got into a discussion a few weeks ago with a close friend of the family about Christianity and would God damn a non-Christian to Hell. She said "Yes" I vehemently disagreed. Not all of the folks who signed their names on this package were Christian. Jesus said, Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me" That implies that Jesus is in all of us, the Jew, the Hindu, the Muslim, and the atheists. Regardless of your religion, if a Non-Christian helps a Christian wouldn't it stand to reason that based on Jesus's words, he is doing unto Him? Is that not the "Way" to the Father? Are we not all capable of being Earthly angels? They really are all around us, there when we don't expect them, and always on time.

To my friends, have a Merry Christmas, a Happy and Blessed New Year, and Pay it Forward in everything you do.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The countdown begins.

Where did the season go??? I remember running out for that Christmas tree as if it were yesterday. Now, there is less than a week to go to the Day and I just finished wrapping my first presents for the season. I'm off tomorrow thru next Wednesday except for some hours doing the retail thing and have one package left to ship off. There's always such build up, preparation, planning, things to do, people to see. It lasts an evening and that prep and planning, is packed in garbage bags and put on the curb. I'm happy to see a little progression this year in the "Merry Christmas vs Happy Holiday" debate and more and more people are voicing their disgust for the politically correct agenda which forbids us from wishing our neighbors anything related to Christmas though Kwanza seems to be acceptable. Last night was Cassie's holiday band concert. Again we had a song celebrating the miracle of the oil and a song about Kwanza. When it came to Christmas, we had Frosty and Jingle Bells. That's ok. I needed a new version of each because WLIT just hasn't played those songs enough. However, I find it ironic that when we discuss Hannukah, it's totally OK to mention God and the miracle of the oil but in the case of Christmas, it's taboo to mention Jesus. Santa Claus and Reindeer are OK. I've noticed that this year, there is a kind of a gloom over the neighborhood. Last year, just about everyone had lights. This year, the neighborhood is pretty dark. I don't know if this past year has been a year of economic hardship for most people or if the majority of Hanover Park is just not feeling festive. My dad wasn't big on outside decorations and we usually had some lights outlining one picture window or some garland over the garage until he started making Joe do it. On Christmas Eve, he did put out luminaria as did most of the neighborhood. It looked pretty cool actually. I haven't seen anyone decorate with luminaria since my childhood. My outside actually has my usual display of white lights, garland and some deer in the yard and is very basic. One house has just about every Christmas balloon on their lawn from the Spongebob to the Grinch. I frankly don't see what Spongebob has to do with Christmas. As for the Grinch, I have one of those in my life 365 days a year. Who needs one on my lawn? Other than two houses down the block and our across the street neighbors, no one put lights out this side of the lane. I'd like to spend an evening putting a hole in the stupid balloons. Nothing says happy holidays like an oversized penguin!

Thus concludes my rendition today of, "I really had nothing to talk about"

Tonight, Kris has his band concert. Other than the Labor Day parade, I have not seen his band perform at all so I am looking forward to it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Response to the oops

So, B. calls tonight....

First, he asked to speak to Emily. I handed Em the phone. She spoke with him for 1 min, handed me the phone and walked away.

First off, he said, I'm not calling to start a fight. I didn't come on Sun because you never let me have her back to back days. I told him that wasn't true as he had her T-day, the day after T-day and the following Sat all day. He said, well last year you didn't. I was going to say something along the lines of "you had a Christmas party last year on your b-day and didn't ask for visitation." But, I didn't. I said nothing.

You shouldn't have called my parents. I'm the dad. She's my daughter, not theirs. I said, "I needed someone quick and close. I was not in a position to spend too much time on the dilemma." He lives 40 miles from here. He said I'm in (xx suburb close to you) on weekends with "new enabler". Then he went on to say how much he loves his daughter and how much he would love extra time and how much he misses her during the week and how he wants me to take him to court so he can fight for overnight visits because he and dummy have a new room for her all set up and they would love it and how he plans on being engaged by this time next year and there should be no problems with Em spending time at new dummy's house because it will be their house and I need to be a better communicator and please stop talking to his mom because she twists things for her own benefit because she loves drama and just causes trouble. I should be talking to him only because he's the dad. In other words, don't talk to mom because she keeps blowing through my bull and he needs to be able to control me too.

The part that made me cringe the most was the part where he said that he and I need to talk more because he's not going anywhere and will always want to be a part of his daughters life and we need to raise her together and I am not doing my part because I don't talk to him, how he wishes me well, how he worried so much when I was going through my treatments because Em needed and deserved her mom, how he never says anything negative about me to anyone (that's an outright lie) and how he has nothing but the utmost respect for me and doesn't understand why I don't like him (oh let me count the ways) and I should respect him because he's the daddy and I should let bygones be bygones despite (I think he said this) "my leftover feelings for him", and it would be nice if I called him back sometime to talk when he (rarely) calls my cell phone. I told him if he has something to say, leave a voice message. That will do. He said, well most can be handled by a VM but we need to work on raising her together. We're both her parents and she needs both of us.

Oh yadda yadda!

When I didn't say anything he said, "you have absolutely NOTHING to say?" I said, "no"

I remember this rhetoric after court in 06. I remember how convincing he was. I remember falling for it. I remember being reminded right quick how full of sh-- he is. The sad thing is, once again during this call, I felt that again. Maybe he really has changed.. But, I took 5 and thought it through.

1) Him asking to talk to Emily at the beginning was a bait. He told his family on T-day that I never let him talk to the child when he calls. He calls once a month maybe and usually doesn't ask to speak with her when he does call. He was LOOKING to start something. I wouldn't be surprised if the new enabler was in the room with him.
2) When he mentioned his impending engagement to the last GF and overnight visits, I reacted. I suspect, he was expecting the same reaction and a fight. He mentioned it once along with the new room. He had a room set up in the old GF's townhome last year. He spent a good 10 min talking about how he wanted to buy her a ring and how they were all ready for D3 to come spend the night. SSDGF. It was a hot button then, why wouldn't it be now?
3) He kept raising his voice to tell me that he didn't call to yell and scream. I wasn't yelling. I said little. I certainly wasn't screaming. When he asked if I had anything to say, he was hoping I would so he could pounce.

I often wonder how this low contact will reflect on me in court. I tried the co-parent, let's be friends thing when he duped me the first time. It resulted in a lot of drama I didn't need and a lot of needless hurt on my part. Not again. EM goes on her visits and she comes home. Fostering the relationship by telling her what a great guy he is, no, I don't do that. I never will. But I've never interfered either and usually plan activities when I know she's going to be away. It gives me some ME time which I never have.

The smartest thing the devil ever did was convince the world he didn't exist.

I often feel guilty because I dislike him so much and I don't really want to carry around a lot of dislike. I absolutely do not want this person back. I frankly find him repulsive and sometimes it's difficult to look at him because all I see is one very ugly person standing there. I do still feel angry because he gets away with it and keeps finding these people to take care of him and take care of Em for him and it's just the injustice of it all. The boy is a toxin. Sometimes I do wonder if Satan walks this Earth as Brian. The idea of talking with him makes me cringe. I put up with him for Emily. As the old saying goes, "Some people are like Slinkies - not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs." Both times he fell off my stoop, well....I had one whopping grin. I know. I'm going to Hell. But, I'm Catholic and according to the born again dude, I'm going there anyhow so why not smile?

Who's your slinkie?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nobody told me there'd be days like these...

What a weekend! Friday, I took the day off because I had things to mail. Yes, I took a day off to mail things. So what!? I had hoped to sleep in to at least 8:30. Alas! At 7:00, after I had gone to bed just 6 hours prior, there was Kris standing in my room telling me he missed the bus. ARGH! So much for sleeping in. The fact that he missed the bus was not surprising. I have been expecting this since the first day of High School. What is surprising is that he managed to stave it off for 3 months. But, when one misses the bus, they all do. With nothing to do with Emster, Cass had to watch her and missed her bus. Therefore, I had to herd Em into the cold car with her pull up and a jacket on and nothing else. Then I spent the day running around. I went to Wal-mart to do some light shopping. I packed an envelope for the UK and a box for the Czech Republic. Went to the Post Office. Stood in line to mail the envelope to UK. Went to UPS to mail the box to Czech Republic. Stood in line. The transaction took 35 minutes. I had to declare everything that was in the box for customs and I had a new associate. After he totalled the cost of the shipping, I nearly had a coronary. IT COST HOW MUCH????? "$471 maam." The lady NEXT to me asked him to repeat it because she thought she misheard. Before she took her packages elsewhere to ship, she asked me where I was shipping mine. I guess Brown doesn't go that world wide. Then off to Wal-mart to discuss a schedule and unbenownt to me, I was asked to stay to train awhile. Stayed till five. Ran out of there to get Em. Got Em from Grace's and then handed her to Brian. Returned some movies to Blockbuster and brought Cassie and the giggle brigade to the movies.

It is now Sunday. I was put on the schedule at Wal-mart from 9-1 yesterday and 7:30-4:30pm today. I woke up at 5:30 to make my shift. It snowed last night and the temp dropped about 250 degrees overnight. Kris used my keys to get at my driveway salt and misplaced them so that he and I were running all over the house trying to find them at 6:45 this morning. My car was freezing and covered in snow and I haven't had nearly enough coffee today. That place is a 3 ring circus. I am checking. There was nothing but a steady stream of people from the time I clocked in to the time I left with very little break. My back is sore. My legs are sore and I'll be hearing the beeping of that register in my sleep. What is it? Christmas or something? I checked out lots of toys, candy, grocery, dog treats, cat treats, chips, boxes that weighed a ton. All I can say is, Thank God, I don't do this every day. To make matters worse, B didn't pick Em up this morning and I thought he was. It wouldn't have been that inconvenient but the kids had plans to see their grandpa today and go shopping. I am absolutely not supposed to have my cell phone at the register but I had it on vibrate in my pocket. The kids called oodles of times and I couldn't answer the phone. I handled the situation on my lunch and one break in the afternoon. When I got home, I was so happy to see the huge mess the kids left for me. Right now, I'm trying to decide if I want to yell at them or scream at them. GRRRRR.. So now, ow. I am finally sitting. I think I'll wash floors tomorrow. The kids can handle the rest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Picture day

Yesterday was the yearly trip to the mall for the photo shoot. It is the only time you will catch my butt near a shopping mall until either dragged by my hair or after the last Christmas Sale whichever comes first. I picked the worst day of the year. It rained and froze all day. Emily, in spite of herself, was pretty darn good and got to see Santa Claus after the ordeal. After she saw Santa, she felt free to revert to her terrorist little self and it was then time to go home and put her to sleep so I could rest. The bonus: The pictures all turned out great and it was most difficult trying to figure out what to buy.

Cassie got a little penguin for her birthday that says a word when you press its little wing or flipper or whatever you call what penguins have. On Monday, Cassie ran up to me and said "I figured out what I'm going to name him!" "Oh?" says I, "What?" "DOUCHE!" she says. Kristopher nearly choked on his water and I was trying hard not to laugh. I said, "um Cass. Maybe you want to think of a different name." She said "but he says "Douch" when I press his wing/flipper." I said, "I doubt that." She couldn't understand why we were busting a gut laughing at her. The penguin actually says "Fish" when you squeeze him. And after I explained to her what "Douche" actually means, she huffed off to her room. She did actually change the name. And she now has her own container of Vagisil...err Vaseline.

The difference between the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible is the addition of the Apocrypha and a longer version of the Book of Esther and the addition of one or two other Old Testament Books. During the Big Schism, Martin Luther chose to omit these. In any case, there are many translations of the Bible. 250 people can read the same passage and come up with 250 meanings. A religion teacher in high school, told us to glean at least the essence of what is being said. Look for the larger meaning and don't focus too much on words. It's the actions of Jesus we need to pay more attention to. In everything you do, ask what would Jesus do? How would He handle it?
I ponder religion often. Most would find that surprising because I don't really go to church but I don't call myself a non-practicing Catholic. I have a relationship with the Almighty. It may not be traditional but it is mine. I'm sure there are plenty who go to Church and spend that time thinking about lawn mowing, that nap they're going to take when they get home and whose big idea 7:30am Mass is?

Our all Christmas song station stinks. I have been listening to it because Emily loves it. Their Playlist:

Mel Torme - The Christmas Song followed by the Nat King Cole version one hour later, followed by the Musak version the hour after that and so on until every one who has ever sang it or played it, has been represented.

Silver Bells by Anne Murray, followed by Bing Crosby..followed by...

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams every hour because we just can't have too much of THAT song.

Santa Baby by Madonna and then for a real treat, they'll play the Eartha Kitt version a couple hours later.

Can't have too much Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer, Frosty and Holly Jolly Christmas. Everytime I turn on the station, I hear one of these in the 15 minutes I am forced to listen to this station.

There's nothing like any Christmas music sung by Barbara Streisand or Neil Diamond.

Do You Hear What I Hear by Whitney Houston and Johnny Mathis and sometimes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Andy Williams and....

OH BOY! The Trans Siberian Orchestra! SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

Santa Claus is Coming To Town by one of the billions of artists who has recorded it.

It just really grates my cheese. This one baffles me. Twice I've heard Dan Fogelberg's "Another Auld Lang Syne" which mentions Christmas Eve in one line. There's barely anything religious. Yes, sometimes they throw something in like JOy to the World or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlman but that's after at least 4 hours of Gene Autry Rudolf followed by Burl Ives Rudolf followed by the immortal song that EVERYONE has on their sing along list "Suzy Snowflake." Where is "Mary Did you Know?" Where is the Halleluiah Chorus? No, lets listen to Merry Christmas Darling sung by Karen Carpenter and follow that up with Silver and Gold. GAH!
I played my favorites on the piano today. For Emily, I shall continue to cringe and listen to another rendition of "Winter Wonderland".

To the Lite, you really need more than a 10 song playlist. End of gripe. HO HO HO.
I think I'll make that my friggin Christmas Wish.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Ice Baby and other random thoughts.

Day 3 has hit of the fantabulous midwestern round of ice storms.

I survived my daughters sleepless over though I'm not sure Cass did. She's home sick with a sore throat and temp today. I have sent her to bed with some herbal tea. Emily is so thrilled that someone is here sharing her morning boredom, she has spent her time bugging Cass and not me. YAY! Outside it is dripping and slippery. Since Saturday, rain and ice has plagued my little world. I went to Menard's to grab some salt for the driveway. Kris dumped 20 lbs onto the driveway to no avail. On the driveway is frozen salt. On Sunday morning, I got up and out, chipped ice off my car and risked my life to get donuts for the posse of girls downstairs. That's love I tell ya.

I'd like to vent about something that chaps my hide. As I get older, it bugs me every time I hear it and I hear it at least 3 times a year especially around the Christmas season. I am Catholic! I have been Catholic my whole life though I'll admit I am terrible about going to church. As a child, I went to church practically every week at school and then with the family on Saturday nights. I went to Catholic grade school. I went to Catholic High School. I studied Religion formally and not formally. I know the basics. Though I couldn't match anyone quote for quote, I am well versed in the teachings of Jesus and what He wanted of me. That's right, the teachings of JESUS. So why the heck do I hear every year that Catholics are not CHRISTIANS?? I would like to set the record straight. Catholics ARE INDEED followers of Christ. We are the ORIGINAL followers of Christ. The Catholic Church was established/founded by St. Peter the Apostle. We were Christian when Christian wasn't cool. Yes, I know all about the history of the Catholic church. The Brothers and Sisters didn't gloss over the corruption that occurred in the Church oh what..1000 years ago!! Yes, there are some bad Priests but please Mr. Pentacostal et al, you are not immune to corruption of your own. The Catholic church is big and is a great target. Most of the Fathers, Sisters and Brothers I dealt with lived an ascetic life and were good role models. It is unfair and wrong to bash an entire Religion for the actions of a few idiots.

When I was in college, I worked with a small town girl who's dad was a preacher or big wig in the church of the Pentacostal persuasion. The first thing she asked me was, "What religion are you?" I said I was Catholic. The FIRST THING she said was..."Oh, I'm sorry. You're going to Hell!" Uh excuse me?? Where in the world does anyone get off making that determination? "Judge not lest ye be judged" "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord." <------- two quotes I do know. She then went on to list a list of grievances she had with Catholics and though I hate discussing these things, I felt it necessary to defend my faith. And again yesterday, I had to convince a Southern Baptist close family friend that I was indeed a Christian just like they were. Oh No, only SOME Catholics are Christians, she said. "No," said I, "we all are. " I'd like to say that no one faith owns Jesus. As a Catholic school girl, I was taught we all are brothers and sisters. Jesus was sent here for everyone, the Muslims, the Jews, the sinners and the righteous. Jesus was born of humble beginnings. Jesus' spent his time teaching. He spent his time with the sinners and the outcasts of society and proclaimed that God wanted them too. God wants us all. God wants the Jews with Him. He wants the Hindus. He wants the Buddhists, Muslims and the African bushman. He wants the sinners as much as He wants the Righteous. If we are to take anything from the teachings of Jesus, it is that. In all faiths is that message. We are all ONE. We are all facets of God. Among the Christian faiths, there are differences in semantics that is all. THe core is that we are all followers of Christ and it is Christ that we as Christians have found our path to God. I've heard that others seem to think that Catholics have a different Bible. HUH? When Catholics need a new Bible, the probably go to the same Christian book store as their Methodist neighbor and get one. The Abbey Press and other specifically Catholic stores sell what they call a Catholic Bible and I honestly couldnt' tell you what the difference is. There is a new Testament and an Old Testament with the same Noah, the same Moses and the same Jesus.

1) As a Catholic, we revere Mary. Yes, as a child I prayed the Hail Mary like any Catholic child. But we did not see Mary as God. We saw her as someone worthy of respect. She was chosen by God to do something so important, raise Jesus. Mary didn't have to. She could have said "NO". Mary didn't. She risked being stoned to death as was the law for those that were with child without a husband. On the same plane, we revere Joseph. He took Mary anyway. He as well could have told God no. When your Father wants you to raise His Son, that is well... a very large undertaking. Obviously, they did a good job. Jesus was a good son and a good Jew. When you think of Mary, you think of the ultimate Mother. Sometimes, there are things you want to discuss with Mom and not Dad. Thus, we Catholics sometimes talk to Mary as well. Her benevolent apparitions have appeared at Lourdes and Guadalupe. She has also appeared in Egypt and in Yugoslavia to children and adults. (the jury is still out on whether she really appeared on that tortilla or underpass in Chicago but...) Because of her appearance to St. Juan Diego, Christianity has flourished in Latin America. The water at Lourdes has resulted in so far, 65 certified miracles. Many more uncertified ones.

2) We are NOT icon worshippers. Catholic churches are well decorated with religious depictions but please, we were never worshipping the idols. That's just ludicrous. Our depictions are Art that stems out of reverence, not idolatry.

3) Yes, we believe in Transfiguration. When we take the Eucharist, we believe that it is Jesus' literally and figuratively.

4) We believe in works. Practice what you preach. If you are a follower of Christ, you will do his works.

5) We do not believe that abortion is just the expelling of a few needless cells. We respect life in all its forms.

6) We do not view the Pope and our clergy as "Infallible." If the Pope says something "infallible", he will note that before he speaks. He does not do that willy nilly. To declare something infallible requires much soul searching and would require taking much responsibility. I don't think there has been an infallible statement in my lifetime.

Nowhere in my teaching as a Catholic was I ever told we were RIGHT and all the other faiths were WRONG. We were never told to go out and tell people that disagree that they are going to Hell. WE were never taught to be exclusionary. We were never told that we alone own Jesus and his teachings. I frankly have no idea who is going to Heaven and who is going to Hell and it is not my place to make that determination. God loves all His people whether their path to him is through Jesus, Muhammed, the Buddha, Krishna, Judaism etc. God is complex and if we are in His image we are as well. I believe God knows us and speaks to us in language we understand. If there is more than one way to fry an egg, there just has to be more than one way to Him. The right Religion is whatever religion brings you closest to Him and of course does not harm another. And for God's sake, Catholics are CHRISTIANS.

EDIT TO ADD: My views are solely my own. Jesus may be my way but I don't think there is any harm in questioning and talking and debating and accepting that my way is not his way or her way nor is it my place to decide which way an individual chooses to go. The Bible is full of choices. Mary made a choice. Jesus made a choice. Neither was obligated or forced by God to do anything.
I was taught to question. To think things through and to look for answers. I don't think that makes me less Christian or even less Catholic.


Here is an example of what I'm talking about:

This person is seriously MISINFORMED. I, of course, am not offended by what he wrote here. I am saying that whoever wrote this is seriously guilty of some very Un-Christian behavior and some largely erroneous assertions about the Catholic church and he therefore made a judgement that is not his to make. I did a Google search on "Are Catholics Christian" and came upon some very creative answers. One woman said Catholics were guilty of Crucifying Christ because Pontias Pilate was a Roman. Roman Centurian vs. Roman Catholic..get it? I had a very hearty laugh with that one.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Cassie's "slumberless" party is tonight. 5 girls, caffeinated beverages, pizza, chips, frozen appetizers, and cake is a nice recipe for me being up all night listening to giggling, Kristopher griping they are bugging him and Joe sucking down most of the coffee in the morning. I can't hardly wait.

I bought beer for me and Nikki and Joe who will be helping to supervise the chaos. It is time for me to get off this computer and start my daily list of chores. I took yesterday off, left the house at 12:30 and did not return until 11pm. Then, I went next door and had a beer with my neighbor, Diane, got home at 1:30am, took a shower, fell asleep at 2:30 and was up 5 hours later to get Em out the door with Brian who of course was 1/2 hour late because he was at a Christmas party last night. Typical! But if I hadn't set the alarm and slept late, he would have been right on time. I can't stand that guy!

I need some good Mojo.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dude, where's my car?

It snowed Tuesday night:the first significant snow of the season. I wandered into Walmart to do more of those courses but my ID, though reactivated, needed an additional 24 hours to show up in the system as such. So, I picked up some Christmas gifts I ordered and had shipped there and wandered out into the parking lot. I couldn't find my car. I am the queen of "can't find my car". I have a tendency to do that often because my brain is on 100 other things that I just don't pay attention to something as insignificant as where the Hell I parked. So, I try to look cool as I wander in and out of lanes when I'm really thinking "WTF!" Such was that night but it's difficult to look cool carrying a huge box with a car following me hoping to snag my spot as I then realize my car isn't there and duck between two mini vans. 15 minutes later the idea of theft crossed my mind and then I caught myself. "Who would want MY car?" It's a van with scratches on both sides because someone keyed it and two missing door handles on the back due to two ice storms that iced my doors shut. I ripped those suckers right off trying to get the door open and almost beat the living hell out of the car out of frustration! I found it exactly 3 lanes down from where I swear I parked it. I'm a yutz!

When I got home, Emily was all excited because it was snowing and she wanted to go out right then and build a snowman. She spent a lot of time at the window watching the snow. So did I. Though I usually find snow annoying, I was struck by the quiet as I got out of the car and stood there for a bit just noticing how peaceful it was outside. It looked really pretty over our outside lighted deer family, the garland on the railings and the trees. The trees were frosted..very nice. And then reality struck yesterday when I had to go outside and shovel all 6 inches plus what the snow plow threw on the end of my driveway. Magic over.

It was Cassie's birthday yesterday. She is now an official annoying teenager. I gave her a purse with some makeup, (mascara and some eye shadow, a lip balm, and a $50 gift card to her favorite store. I put a $100 in the little wallet in there which was a cash gift from relatives. She asked for Tacos to eat and I bought a small birthday cake. She spent the evening putting her pens and pencils, bus pass etc. into her new purse.

Monday, December 03, 2007

One of those getting to know you things Christmas style

I never send these things on because I'm a bad friend. I am the name they always list as least likely to play but here's one Christmas style:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I HATE WRAPPING!!! It's one of the pains of Christmas. I buy the wrapping paper and spend the night before the Day, sucking down wine while I fight with the damn paper. After losing the scissors, pen, and tape ten times in a pile of wrapping drippings then trying to figure out how to make the paper that I cut too short, fit on the box, I get about two hours of sleep and my presents look like crap! Gift bags!! GIFT BAGS FOR EVERYONE!!

2. Real tree or artificial? FAKE! I like my fake pipe cleaner tree. No dry needles, no fire hazzard, easy clean up and it pays for itself in 3 years.

3. When do you put up the tree? I do not. I make my brother do it so it's usually whenever the stupid Illini aren't playing and he's sober. This year, it was Thanksgiving Day.

4. When do you take the tree down? Infinity, Effinity....the Feast of the three wise men.

5. Do you like eggnog? yes, especially with a shot of rum.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? There were two: my Barbie townhouse that my brother sat on 5 hours after Christmas and bent the cardboard support so it was more like the Barbie townhome post San Francisco Earthquake and this little green record player I got when I was six.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes, it's a nice one and it's been in the box for the past three years because it's expensive, difficult to put together and my three year old and two cats have no scruples.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad because he has every fricking thing. My sister is a close second for the same reason.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Emily. Just order the toy section in the Wishbook.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Uhh whatever I get at the Bowling grab bag, some perfume (don't wear it) Turtle neck sweater (don't wear those either. I feel like I'm choking)

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Christmas cards??

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Holiday Inn. I have no idea why.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Well, every year I intend to buy a little throughout the year and every year I start around the week before Thanksgiving, put it all on credit cards and have it paid off sometime around the following July.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Does giving it the Goodwill count?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies, chocolate, beer, wine, beer, shrimp, beer shrimp, champagne...

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Lots of little colored lights on a NON PRELIT TREE inside! White lights outside.

17.Favorite Christmas song? The Halleluiah Chorus by Haydn. God was truly with him when he wrote that. It gives me chills. (It came to my attention that it was Handel that wrote this not Haydn. I knew that! What was I thinking??? I apologize for the misinformation.)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Sit at home on my ass and drink beer in my jammies.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Vixen and um..uh... Guess not and RUDOLF does not count! Which one am I'm missing dammit??

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A beanie baby Ostrich. Ask my brother.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Eve. We're freaks.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Let me count the ways, STARTING WITH WRAPPING PRESENTS! No parking, crowds, going into debt...

But, if we all watch the South Park episode with Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, we all learn that we spend too much time listening to the Politically correct media gripe about Christmas and all that's wrong with it, that sometimes we forget what's right with it. So screw saying Happy Holidays. It's MERRY CHRISTMAS!

And to my Jewish friends, Happy Chanukkah. I know that starts Wednesday!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I'm not as stupid as I thought.

Kris is doing better. His biggest complaint is sore muscles from all the throwing up so he's been walking around rather gingerly today. Some of it may be pain. Some may be the lifted chore requirement for being sick. I made him get up and walk around for at least 10 minutes each hour and was quite the Nazi about it. Kris looked at me and said, you had a few physical therapy sessions and you've turned into a terrorist! The Immodium AD is working and he's starting to regain his appetite. Maybe I should have gone to med school after all :o)

Walmart called today apologizing. I was initially confused but the HR person said that there was a miscommunication between her and management and I should not have been put on the schedule. She said, we'd like to have you back if you want to give us a second chance. But they were modifying my role to cashier so there will be no lifting, bending and running around. This position allows for more flexibility in scheduling which is a good thing. Cool with me. I'm supposed to go in and discuss a start date and a training schedule. I guess the hiring practices of the largest retailer aren't as disorganized as I thought and I wasn't the dummy who missed something in the orientation.

My GRE studying has gone better. I am starting to at least score better than 60% percent on the Math portion. Verbally, I'm a lot stronger but I am a woman and we're known for garrulousness (<------ GRE Study word) The first practice test I took, I scored 330 out of 800 on the practice Math. Now, I know how to add. I know how to multiply and I know how to divide. I can even add fractions! But um, apparently I'm deficient in figuring out how fast Pump A and Pump B can clear out a basin of water together if there is a thunderstorm looming and approaching at 30mph and Pump B has a hair line crack and Pump A's operator had to take a Union enforced lunch break. I'm working on that though. Now what was that Quadratic equation again?

Em has been better or I've been handling her better. Last weekend, my work laptop died and I had to ship it back to the Laptop service center to get it fixed, which resulted in me being absolutely BORED to tears at work all week. I modified my personal laptop to accommodate a few of the applications I use in my daily grind but my Dell has issues and it's slow so most of my day was spent rebooting and clearing blue screens of death. Anyway, I needed a password reset to access my online version of Outlook. Called our helpless desk in Denver and spoke to a woman. Em was home with me all week because Grace was on vacation. The week before Thanksgiving, I was going crazy with her. She was rotten and I just didn't have time for it. So, while I was talking to this woman about my password, Em started screaming to get out of her crib. The woman asked how old she was. I said, oh, she's 31/2 and capable of getting out of the crib herself. She just doesn't want to. She's got some behavioral issues. The woman said, OHHHH! Well, do you mind if I make some suggestions? Sure, says I. I am ready to accept any advice that will help me with the child. Turns out her son has ADHD. Some of her advice really really helped to diffuse some of the temper and the meltdowns. I'm not perfect with her and sometimes I lose it but it was a much better week. I guess God was looking after me. I spoke with someone I needed to speak with at the time I needed it. It's funny how that works. I was never one to believe in cooincidence.

Midwest Winter has hit. It's really blech outside. I left the house to run and errand and it took around 45 minutes to drive 7 miles. Stupid snow. Stupid ice. Stupid Winter. This just means the stupid locks are going to be stupid frozen on my stupid car and I have to use the stupid ice scraper on the stupid window.
Stupid Stupid Stupid...