A few of my favorite things….

Christmas 2009 has come and (almost) gone and I have been thinking about things that are my favorites this time of year.  A lot of bloggers have been doing this love/hate thing for the holidays or lists of their favorite songs and movies so I’m not sure how to do this and still be creative…..

OK best joke I heard on Christmas:  2 muffins were in the oven and one looked at the other and said “Wow! It’s hot in here!” and the other muffin said “Holy crap! A talking muffin.”  Thanks to my niece Sara for that one.

Best movie to watch on Christmas: Christmas Vacation.  My apologies to A Christmas Story and It’s A Wonderful Life, but I love Christmas Vacation.  It’s one of the movies that my family quotes on a regular basis (at least during the holidays).  The best line from the movie “I don’t know what to say, except, it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.” I’m still laughing thinking about Cousin Eddie and the RV and well….. just about the whole movie can make you laugh.  And if you’re interested in having an advent house like the one in the movie you can check them out here http://www.christmasadventhouse.com.  Oh yeah did I mention they cost $995.00… and the moose mugs they drink eggnog from…those are $180 for 2.

Best Christmas Story: My apologies to Charles Dickens and Clement Clarke Moore but the best Christmas story is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.

Best Christmas song: This one is hard.  I really can’t pick just one.  So the short list….  “All I want for Christmas is a real good tan” – Kenny Chesney, “My grown up Christmas List” – Kelly Clarkson, “Where are you Christmas” – Faith Hill, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” – the original by John Lennon (although I love the cover that Alicia Keys and Tim McGraw  did on Oprah this month), “Mele Kalikimaka” – also the original by Bing Crosby and the Andrews sisters, “O Holy Night” – Martina McBride’s version and finally “Santa Baby” – which has been covered by every platinum blonde known to man.  Better versions are by Madonna, Kellie Pickler, and the Pussycat Dolls featuring Carmen Electra (however that video is rated PG-13 or higher).  I’m waiting, I’m sure Miley Cyrus will sing it soon enough – in red daisy dukes trimmed with fur and cowboy boots.

Worst Christmas song: OK not technically the worst Christmas song, but the one that has been covered by every recording artist known to man – “Last Christmas.”  It has been played on the radio every 22.4 minutes by various artists such as Taylor Swift, Ashley Tisdale, Billie (yeah I don’t know who she is either) and even Crazy Frog.  I didn’t realize until this blog that it was written by George Michael and originally performed by Wham! who ironically have the worst version of the song.

Best Chanukah song: Obviously “The Chanukah song” – Adam Sandler.  This song will always make smile…and usually laugh for quite some time.  The first version is the best, but 2 & 3 are funny too.

Best Reindeer:  Vixen….or Blitzen… it’s a toss up.  For those of you who need clarification on what a Vixen is – look up the Pussycat Dolls version of “Santa Baby” on You Tube (not the one with Snoop Dog, “Santa-bizzle” and “gangsta” aside, NBC made them dress nicely for the TV version).

The Wow and Damn moment of Christmas: There is a house on Acton Road with a 1970’s camper parked in front of it hooked up to about  a 1982 Toyota pick up truck and it has Christmas lights dangling in all sorts of directions.  Not sure if it’s a shout out to Christmas Vacation, a Charlie Brown statement against commercialism or just what they are living in until they remodel their house.

Oh….that reminds me Best Holiday Special:  It’s Christmas Charlie Brown.  I even have the soundtrack for it because I love to hear the song “Christmas Time is Here.”  Hmm… need to add that song to the Christmas song list.  The show also contains one of my favorite quotes – “Of all the people I know, you’re the Charlie Browniest” as said by Linus VanPelt.  This also brings up Worst Christmas Moment 2009… I had gotten a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree in a white elephant gift exchange, which (because it’s a white elephant gift exchange) I subsequently lost to my neighbor’s mom.  Since my gift got taken away, I was allowed to take another one away from someone else, so I took the package of T-bone Steaks away from our host.  The steaks got taken away from me in the end too, by Dave’s Lieutenant, and I ended up with…. yeah I don’t remember.

Least Favorite Thing to do at Christmas Parties:  White Elephant gift exchange.  Don’t tell my neighbors who host our annual neighborhood party, but I’m not a big fan of the gift exchange.  Half the people don’t bring “gag” gifts – or maybe they do and I just don’t get their sense of humor (i.e. the package of Tbone steaks).  And… I really wanted that Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Most Important Lesson Learned This Christmas: Do not play drinking games with your niece who recently graduated from college and your former Marine nephew.  By the way….  I looked up Kings online and found some better “rules” and there was a whole twist to the game that we never played.

Best decorations: I love houses outlined in colored lights so it looks like a Gingerbread House.  And I love houses decked out all in white lights.  I like our real tree this year because it’s real, but our artificial one is bigger and brighter –  when it lights up, which it didn’t this year- which is why we have the real tree.  One Christmas-y thing I loved as a child and cannot find nowadays – there were tall frosted glass candles , the one I remember most had a picture of Mary and Baby Jesus on it and when you lit the candle you could see the image under the frosted glass.  And I miss Nana’s white porcelain tree with the colored lights.

So these are some of my favorite things…. not all of them because I would bore you to death.  So Merry Christmas from the girl who would rather be sitting somewhere beside a beach with a palm tree strung with white lights enjoying white sands for Christmas instead of white snow.

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Teaching, Nevada & what dogs hear

Today I am reflecting on the past 4 days…. there were multiple things that caught my attention so I’m lumping them all together in one blog.

First, in my quest to find a different occupation I have added “teacher” to the “not an option” list.  I helped Teagan’s 1st grade class during their holiday party make gingerbread houses.  I went with a positive attitude because it was only for an hour and a half.  How bad could 1st graders be for an hour and a half?  The answer to that question is “OH MY GOD!”  In all fairness to her class most of the kids were well-behaved and sat in their chairs and painted icing onto their milk cartons and attached their candies.  However there were about 6 children who were constantly out of their seats, grabbing a parent or the teacher with some urgent need for more M&M’s or to tell on one of the other five for eating the candy before everyone was done.  Two of these lovely children sit in Teagan’s desk grouping and neither of them needed sugar but both of them had consumed enough to send a diabetic elephant to the hospital.  By the end of the hour and a half I had contemplated the consequences for sitting on both of them just to keep them still for 30 seconds.  And I would have felt sorry for myself had it not been for the poor grandmother at the next table over who had one of the other girls who was out of control.  This girl had taken blue gel icing and smeared it all over her paper plate to “make a pond” at her gingerbread house and her hands were covered in blue dye, icing and sprinkles.  It finally took the teacher pulling the girl over to the sink to get her to wash her hands and I overheard the teacher telling one of the other parents that the same girl had a fancy ruffle on her dress earlier in the day that she had cut with scissors and then ripped completely off.  Not that going back to school to become a teacher is a realistic option for me, but there is no way I could handle children on a day-to-day basis.  God bless the teachers out there with all their infinite patience because I know I couldn’t do their job.

Second… “Nevada”. “Nevada” is an example of something I have pointed out many times to many people.  Pregnant women should not be allowed to name their children.  I was shopping for shoes when two children went running past me and I heard a mom yell “Cade and Nevada come here now!”  It wasn’t so much the Cade that caught my attention as the Nevada.  Actually I wouldn’t have given it too much more than a passing thought, but Cade and Nevada were notorious.  No matter what part of the store I moved to Cade and Nevada moved with me with their mother always demanding for “Cade and Nevada come here now!”  After the fourth or fifth time of hearing the mom’s demand for them to come here now my curiosity got the best of me and I had to peek around the corner to see Cade and Nevada.  Both adorable little towheads about 3 and 4 years old, running amuck while their mom attempted to shop.  What struck me was the older of the two was a little girl – the entire time I had assumed the mother was yelling after two boys.  Now I’m all about unique names for your children to avoid having an entire softball team full of Brittney’s (in fairness to my sister, there were only 3 Brittney’s on the softball team) – but Nevada?  All I could think about was in the movie Four Christmases where the characters were named after the location they were conceived (i.e. Orlando, Denver and Dallas).  I guess it’s lucky for little Nevada her parents weren’t more specific or else I would have been hearing “Cade and Reno…” or “Cade and Las Vegas!”  As I moved toward the front of the store to leave I passed the family once again, the mother again catching my attention with her exasperated “Cade and Ne-va-da!” (she had now separated each syllable drastically as if to show her increasing displeasure at her children’s misbehavior).  It took every ounce of energy I had not to go over to Cade and Nevada and pick them up and place them in their mother’s shopping cart and explain to her that by placing the children in the cart you would not have to yell at them in every aisle to “come here” or “put that down” because they are contained.  That was the angel on my shoulder…. the devil on the other side wanted to take Cade and Nevada to the glass aisle, give them a pound of sugar each and teach them to say “Mazel Tov!”

Finally, what dogs hear.  Dawson talks to the dog a lot.  He talks to the dog like someone might talk to a baby and the dog loves him for it.  But on occasion the dog is bad and Dawson yells at him.  Like earlier today when Bam ate Teagan’s gingerbread house (yes the Gingerbread House that I spent an hour and half in hell a.k.a. 1st grade making) and I heard “BAM! NO!……. You are a bad bad dog!  You go to your crate! Now Mister! Fine you can have a cookie but go in the condo!” (note: we call Bam’s crate his condo – as if to make it seem he is on a luxurious Florida vacation while confined).  I imagined what Bam heard.  “BAM! blah blah blah blah condo blah blah blah blah cookie.”  I would have added that he heard the word NO! but I know he didn’t because that word seems to be a bit of an obscure concept for him.  Bam knows exactly 5 words, “Bam,” “Cookie,” “Sit,” “Kissy” and “Condo,” and one phrase “Where do good puppies go for cookies?” The answer is “condo.”  “Kissy” will get you slobbered on and “Sit” only works in conjunction with “Cookie.”  But Dawson does his best at communicating with the dog, my only hope is that soon he teaches him “no” and “bad dog.”  The bad thing is we went from a dog with an extensive vocabulary: sit, stay, come, down, off, car, speak, find, bad-dog, jump and free-dog.  And could do tricks like “hokey pokey bear” and “stop drop and roll.”  And now we have the bully who thinks “kissy” will fix anything he screws up.  Just so were clear it has taken me a while to write this because there is a dog snoring and resting on my right hand the entire time.  OK I’m done… he is now slobbering on my right hand and I think the slobber is dripping into my keyboard

Winter Safety & the Soccer Mom

I recently visited the Dept. of Homeland Security’s website to search for something and stumbled upon their “Winter Preparedness” guide.  I glanced over it – not truly giving it a second thought until last night.  Last night our old reliable pick up truck wasn’t quite reliable.  The driver side doors were frozen shut, I had to climb in the back passenger door (the only one that would open) and after all this the trusty truck wouldn’t start.  This was complicating the plans to go pick up a Christmas tree.  I decided a small enough tree could fit in the back of the Blazer with the seats folded down so I opened the back hatch to clear out room.

I hadn’t done anything with the back of my Blazer since November 1st… the last day of soccer.  There in the cargo area I was reminded that no matter how hard I try not to fit the stereotype:  I am a midwestern suburban soccer mom (they say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery).  As I started to drag the items out one by one I realized that most of these things were on the DHS list for winter preparedness.  I gave my self a gold star for not only having 1 blanket and 1 sleeping bag as recommended but also a secondary blanket.  Jumper cables, check.  Flashlight, check (ok I will admit it doesn’t work and I didn’t have spare batteries for it, but it was there).  Extra clothing, particularly boots, hats and mittens, check.  Ok I had 3 knit stocking caps, 1 mismatched pair of gloves, a spare pair of shin guards, one pair of soccer socks (also mismatched) and 2 pairs of shorts.  (Hey I never said I was a good soccer mom).  Emergency flares…. hmm nope but I do have a small reflective triangle that came with the truck in the spare tire hatch, check.  Bottled water or juice and non-perishable high-energy foods (i.e. granola bars, raisins, nuts or cheese crackers). HA! A soccer mom lives for this stuff!  I had 2 Capri Suns, 2 1/2 bottles of water, 1 Gatorade, 3 granola bars, 2 bags of fruit snacks and a McDonald’s BBQ sauce pack.  I gave myself a triple gold star for that.  First aid kit and necessary medications… in the bag with all the snacks there was 2 band aids, some kleenex (a couple used) and a wet wipe from BW3,  Check.  Necessary medications… (really how long am I going to be stranded?) OK well not in the soccer bag, but in the glove box there is Midol, Benadryl and Immodium – all leftover from various road trips, check.  A cell phone and car charger, check.  Ice scraper and snow brush, check and a silver star because it’s a Scraper/Brush combo!  Tire repair kit… well there is usually stray gum somewhere in the backseat, check!  A bright-colored cloth to tie to the vehicles antenna to signify you need help… I could remove the cover of my hot pink, orange and yellow flowered lawn chair it should stop traffic fairly effectively.

There were 2 things listed I didn’t have.  Sand or non clumping kitty litter for tire traction in case you get stuck in snow or ice… well we have dogs so no need for kitty litter, no sand except what might be left over from Gulf Shores… wait don’t I have all those other things to keep me alive in case I do get stuck?  And how do you get stuck “in” ice?  The other item(s) I didn’t have was a steel shovel and rope to use as a lifeline.  A truly crafty woman, however, could fashion a rope from one of the blankets…so 1/2 check.  Not to mention the items I had that DHS hadn’t even thought of:  3 Piggie and Elephant books, 1 coloring book, various markers & crayons and the DK Eyewitness Shark book.  If needed, i would burn the Shark book for heat.  The Shark book has 1000’s of facts about sharks that the kids read over and over again every time we’re in the car.  I also had 4 folding chairs… maybe I could use those for traction in place of kitty litter?

So there you have it, I should be able to survive 30-40 minutes in my car should I become stranded – let’s face it I live in a populated suburban area not a remote location in Wyoming.  Luckily I didn’t become stranded on the way to get the Christmas tree because I had taken my soccer mom stash out of the car.

Suburban soccer mom’s are a unique stereotype.  Once a coworker saw the cargo area in my SUV and stated that if a hurricane hit midwestern suburbia everyone would be just fine because the soccer mom’s would have enough supplies available in their minivans and SUV’s to set up a tent city capable of taking care of people for weeks.  Maybe we should start some type of Disaster Response Team… we could be like Fema’s USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) team only we could be SuSMAT (Suburban Soccer Mom Aide Team).  Maybe I’ll pitch that idea next soccer season and see what becomes of it.

(My apologies to my pals at DHS… Bryan 🙂 you know you think I’m funny)

Santa’s Secret List

For those of you who don’t know, Santa has a secret list.  I’ve had to share this list with Teagan this year.  Dawson heard the same list about the time he was in first grade too.

This is the list of things Santa only tells certain people so keep it quiet!

1.  Santa can’t make people who are sick get better and can’t bring people and pets who have died back to life.  You can still wish for people who are sick to get better and Santa can wish with you but even his magic can’t cure everything.

2.  Santa cannot bring puppies, kitties, ponies, donkey’s, hamsters or any other live animal for Christmas.  There are FFA flight regulations preventing live animal travel in sleighs not to mention that the ponies can make a big mess and no elf wants to clean pony poop out of the sleigh.

3.  Santa has a limit on his Best Buy credit card which means he only has so many electronic games and gizmos he can give out each year.  To accommodate this problem, the elves but all the names on the “good” list into a bin and hold a lottery to see who will win.  This is why some kids get Xbox’s and Wii’s and Ipod’s and others don’t.  At this time Sony, Nintendo and Apple are still protected under copyright laws and the elves can’t get license to build them.

4.  Santa can’t bring you a cell phone.  There are no service providers in the North Pole, not even Verizon so there is no way to get a cell phone from Santa.

5.  Santa rarely leaves the North Pole after October so the Santa’s you see at the malls and at Christmas Parties are really just men dressed up like Santa – that’s why some of them look like they are only 25 years old and some aren’t fat and don’t have white hair.  But all the mall Santa’s wear a secret microphone that transmit’s directly to the North Pole where there are special dispatcher elves who enter your Christmas list into the computer.

6.  Santa requests that children keep their Christmas lists to a minimum of 3-5 items that you REALLY REALLY want.  Not just everything you see or all the same things your friends are asking for.

7.  Santa cannot provide employment or a change of employment for your parents.  So if you wish for your dad who is an accountant to become an astronaut it isn’t going to happen, Santa has limited influence on NASA.  Unfortunately Santa is not an equal opportunity employer and only hires elves, so unless your parents are elves Santa can’t provide a job – but remember Christmas is a magical time and lot’s of good things happen to people this time of year.

8..  Cookies are really good and so is milk, but Santa also likes any leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner like some of those BBQ meatballs or some of the cheeseball and crackers and a Diet Mt. Dew would be GREAT!

and most importantly……

9.  If your mom and dad said “no” to something, don’t bother asking Santa because he always follows mom & dad’s rules first and foremost.

This is Santa’s highly coveted secret list so share it if you must but remember not everyone knows these Santa secrets. 😉