Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O Christmas Tree?!?!

These last few weeks in Annie's world have been a bit grim to say the least. 

So, in an attempt to find my smile, I broke out the Christmas decorations last night.  I decked the halls and fa la la la la-ed and generally got my Christmas spirit on!

My biggest accomplishment was to clear a space in my living room for my Christmas tree.

I know.

I know.

I am gifted.

And now I have a big, empty space just waiting for our annual Christmas tree which we will trek out to the frozen tundra to get this Saturday.

I can not wait!

In honor of this upcoming family tradition, I give you my Christmas letter to my hubby last year.


Oh Christmas Shrub!  Oh Christmas Shrub! originally posted 12/8/09

Dear Hubby,

It is that time of year again.  It is the time of singing carols, watching corny Christmas-y movies, and looking for the best  (and worst) Christmas light display.  These are fun times, undoubtedly.  But my favorite part of the holiday season has to be . . . our annual holiday tree fight.

You see dear, every year, as we trek out to the tree farm you bring up the inevitable.  "So, what kind of tree do you want to get this year?"

And, I know that that is really man-speak for, "How far do you want me to trek across the frozen ground to saw down a tree for you?"

Now, I always try to answer you politely with the truth.  "Honey, I'll know it when I see it."  And I do.  I always know it exactly when I see it.  The problem is that I am willing to trek over the river and through the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree.  I am kind of like Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation in that way.  I will trudge through snow, with children, and with children's frozen body parts in order to find the right tree and have that Alleluia-like moment of reveal.
(video complements of youtube and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation)

I am dramatic in that way.

This year is no different.  When we load up the kiddies to get our tree,  I envision the family bonding and the memory-making bliss that we are about to undertake.  I think that you envision . . .a long walk  . . . with 3 kids.  (Let's not forget that one of those kiddies has a cast on her foot, is unable to walk, and weighs 39 lbs.)  I envision a scene from It's a Wonderful Life.  You envision freezing temperatures, runny noses, and complaining kiddies.

Obviously, in this situation, I am the glass half full.

You, however, are the  beer glass half empty,  and you wish that you have already downed the first half.

Am I right??

To make matters worse, your idea of the perfect tree and my idea of the perfect tree are, shall we say, incompatible?

I prefer a tree with a conical shape.  You know, triangular?  Pretty.  Proportional. You are a math teacher.  I know that you get the idea.

You prefer a tree that looks remarkably like an overgrown bush. A rounded bush with long needles and soft limbs.  The kind of tree that can not and will not hold any ornament worth its weight.  If you really want a bush to decorate, we have several . . . in our front yard.  Just saying.

So dear, this year is no different.  I look forward to our little tree give and take.  I am ready to battle wits and words.  It is part of our holiday tradition after all.  And, I love it!

Just remember though,  I will win.  Make no mistake.  After all, if I am in charge of stringing lights and decorations, I will forever be in charge of picking out the tree.

Merry Christmas, hubs!

I love you and our battle!


Monday, November 29, 2010

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

When I went into labor with Abbie,  I was prepared.

I had read all of the baby books.

I had required hubs to read all of the baby books.

I had prepared the nursery.

I had attended the requisite child birth classes, and (despite the fact that hubs and I were asked to leave after we got an intense case of the giggles one session where husbands were required to kneel behind their wives while the wives were perched on all fours,) I felt that we had acquired enough knowledge to birth my first baby.

I was prepared.

That is,  I was prepared until the contractions (complements of pitocin) doubled me over.

Hubs grabbed my hand and looked me in the eye and asked,  "What should I do?"  My mom and hubs' mom left the room and started praying in the hallway.  And me?  My eyes glazed over, and I howled.

I was worthless.

Enter Amy.

With her brown bob swinging at her chin,  Amy entered the labor and delivery room pushing her overflowing navy blue stroller.  Her bright "Hey guys!"  fell on deaf ears as I wailed and hubs tried to soothe me. Quickly, Amy's determined eyes scanned the room and took in the scene.  And then she got to work.

With ease,  Amy popped open a Tupperware container filled with cereal, and then she poured it onto the stroller tray for her daughter Cara.  Then she reached under the stroller and extracted a fast food bag from out of nowhere.  I swear, it was as if she were Mary Poppins and that stroller was her travel bag.  I smelled the yummy hamburger before she pulled it out.  With a smile she stated simply, "I figured that Paul hadn't eaten."  Then she lured a helpless hubs away from me, and over to the uncomfortable couch  with that hamburger.

Then, Amy came over to my bedside.

She gently grabbed my hand and said, "It hurts pretty bad doesn't it?"

I answered with a whimper, and her eyes widened with understanding. 

She patted my hand, wiped my hair from my face, and then asserted with no-nonsense, "I will be right back!"

I watched as she gave a quick check to Cara, and then over to Paul, and then she hurried out of that room and into the hall.

And as calm and in charge Amy was while in my room,  she was a crazed force when she went into that hall.

"WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE GET MY GIRL SOME DRUGS IN HERE!"  she bellowed in the hallway outside of my room.

And when no nurse responded quickly enough, Amy again took charge,  "WE ARE STILL WAITING FOR SOME PAINKILLERS DOWN HERE!!!"

Finally, a nurse took action, and Amy returned to my bedside calmly.  She restated the obvious and explained, "They will be right here with some meds."

Then she held my hand until that nurse arrived with the painkillers.

Amy was that kind of friend.

She knew exactly what you needed even when you, in fact, did not.  She was a mentor mom to me when I was new and inexperienced and doubting every damn thing that I did as a new mom.  She was another mom and friend that had "been there."  She got me without explanation.  And, she made me smile just to be around her and her warmth.

And that is why I can not believe she is gone.

Last Tuesday  Amy went in for a routine surgery to help with her migraine headaches.  There was a complication.  Amy never woke up.

She left behind her four kids and her adoring husband.

She left behind a doting family.

She left behind an insane amount of friends and people that she had touched.

And, she left a hole in my heart.

I will miss you my girl.

I will be lost without your compass.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Til Death Do Us Part . . . For Real . . .

After being a sounding board for some friends, and reading some of your blogs out there about the realities of marriage, I thought that this favorite post of mine was worth a repost.


The Decision

When my dad toasted hubby and me at our rehearsal dinner, he pointedly looked at each of us and said, "Love is a decision that you make each and every day."  At the time, I was so engrossed in the moment and celebrating with my family and friends that I did not really comprehend what he was saying, but nine years later, I am beginning to grasp its meaning.

To fully love another human being, you have to recognize that love is not just a feeling, it is a choice that you need to actively make. Each. And. Every. Day.  Falling in love . . . getting that butterflies in your belly feeling, that feeling that you get when you are a little kid and you are swinging just a little bit too high on the swing set, that feeling that you get when you are just about to dive off the high diving board at the pool, that feeling . . . is the easy part. 

It is the staying in love that is the hard part.

You see, once life takes over, the ability to choose to love takes over too.  And, choosing to love your honey when every fiber in your being just wants to scream, beat your fists into a pillow, and just let honey have it, is so much more difficult than just allowing the hate and anger to consume you.

So, when hubby decided to scrape the snow and ice off of my window one morning before work and used our metal shovel to get the job done, I had to almost bite my knuckle raw in order to not kill him for putting 4 foot long scratches across my windshield with the shovel.  When I found out that we would have to replace the windshield, I had to switch knuckles and keep on gnawing in order to maintain control.    I had to actively remember that hubby was just trying to be nice when he scraped my windshield down. I had to choose to love hubby even when every little nerve in my body was so mad that I could strangle him.  There was no rosy, pretty pink love feeling at that moment.  Instead, there was a bold and cold decision that I knew that I had to make, even though I didn't feel like making it.  

And when I recently messed up our bank account, hubby had every right to be downright ticked at me.  I had screwed up and screwed up royally, and it was going to cost us extra money that we did not have.  But instead of taking it out on me, hubby immediately recognized how terrible I felt, swallowed his angry feelings, and gave me a much needed hug.  He chose to love me even when I felt completely unlovable.  He made a decision to love me. A decision that, at the time, was not easy.

Hubby and I have to make these decisions daily.  Whether it is his clothes on the floor or my penchant for leaving egg shells in the sink, if we let the little things bother us day to day, if we accused and used each other to get our petty anger out, then we would be chipping away at our own foundation as a couple and we would be in no shape to handle the big things when they inevitably creep up.

And they always do creep up.

By choosing to love each other, hubby and I are constantly reinforcing our foundation.  With every choice, our wall gets a little thicker, and with every decision, we are just a bit more solid.  Together.  That's not to say that we don't have our cracks, either.  We do.  But because our focus is to be proactive in our foundation and in our relationship, we can weather the cracks.  We can repair them. And we are that much stronger for it.

So, when we have to face a new life or an unexpected death, when we have to face financial adversity or a tragic loss,  or when we have to face a success or a defeat, hubby and I are ready.  

We have nine (now ten!) years of decisions to prove it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This "Baywatch Babe" Says Goodbye . . .

Ages and ages ago, before my kids, before my stay-at-home momdom,  I taught English . . .  to seventh and eighth graders.

Yes.  I know that I have already earned my spot in heaven.

I taught those pubescent boys and girls about my love for reading and books.  I coerced them to write, write about anything.  We examined the parts of speech and their impact on the students' writing.  We rewrote Shakespearean scripts with modern day twists.  ( Anyone ever read a MTV's Real World show in Shakespearean form? No?  It was hysterical!)  We wrote soap operas and sitcoms.  We read poetry and music lyrics.  We talked about them.  We wrote about them.  And, even though my students were challenging every damn day, I loved every minute of it.

One class I had was particularly challenging.  It was an 8th grade composition class.  This class met immediately after lunch each day, and it was filled to the brim with 8th grade boys. 

Hormones-raging 8th grade boys stuffed in one small room after being hyped up with lunch time sugar. . . and one petite 20 something English teacher?

Not a good combination.

It was enough to make me start drinking.  Heavily.

Instead though, I tackled that class head on, including one particular student, Craig. 

Craig was the ringleader of those boisterous boys.  His red hair and freckled face were reminiscent of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman, and his blue eyes were animated and filled with life and laughter.  Students naturally gravitated toward Craig.  He was good looking, quick witted, and pretty much a natural leader.  And even though at times he was wickedly ornery and made me want to pull my hair out, there was just no way that I could stay mad at him.  (Believe me.  I tried.)  His smile and his eyes disarmed me every time.

He had charm, and he knew it.

One time the students had a fairly straightforward assignment to write about a memorable teacher, good or bad.  I read countless papers about my colleagues that recounted ways that they had spent extra time with certain students or how they had inevitably scarred others.  (Incidentally, do we teachers really realize our influence?)  Then, I got to Craig's paper.

It was about me.

Except, it wasn't about how I had helped him discover all the wondrous joys of the English language,  and it wasn't about how I had scarred him from ever picking up a book again.  Nope.  Craig wrote about how I was a memorable teacher because I reminded him of one of the Baywatch stars on TV.

Yep.  Craig was saying that he thought that I looked like a Baywatch babe in a paper that I had to read and grade.

Brazen little sucker, wasn't he?

I remember reading his essay and thinking,  "This kid has got balls!  What was he thinking?!"  And truthfully, as a young teacher, I wasn't quite sure what my reaction should be.  I took the essay in hand and went for some counsel from the principal.

He read it silently, but before he was done, his shoulders shook with silent laughs and tears escaped the corners of his eyes.

"Well?"  I questioned.

He answered simply, "You have to confront this."  And then he added, "Good luck,"  with a wink.


So, I did the only thing that I could,  I called Craig up to my desk, pushed his paper across it, and looked him in the eye.

"What were you thinking with this, Craig?"  I asked.  "It is totally inappropriate."

Then I paused, continued to look at him, and waited.

He met my gaze, let a slow smile creep across his face, and answered, "Well,  I thought that it would get me a good grade."  Then his eyes twinkled and he asked, "No?"

It was all I could do not to laugh, and I replied simply, "No."

Yes.  Craig was that student that no matter what he did, he really could do no wrong.  So we continued the year.  He continued to drive me crazy, and I continued to suppress my laughs . . .unsuccessfully.

He was a life force, that Craig, and he was one of my favorites for sure.

That is why the news of his death has knocked the breath right out of me.

Craig, with his sparkle,  Craig, with his vitality,  Craig, with his endearing orneriness is dead.  There are just so many things that are wrong with this.  He was too young.  He was too vital.  He was such a force.

I am overwhelmed with sadness for all the things that Craig and his family will miss.

And one thing that I know is for certain.  He has definitely taken a part of this "Baywatch babe's" heart with him.

Rest peacefully, you imp!

I will miss you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to Tell When You Have PMS . . .

Reasons My Hubs Can Tell That  I Have PMS

1.  I proceeded to eat directly from the bag of pretzels and directly from the bag of chocolate chips simultaneously while we were having a conversation.

2.  When Hubs came home for lunch, my car was parked with two of its wheels on the curb.

3. My three year old's hair is not brushed, and I do not care.

4.  In addition to Ellerie's non-brushed hair, she also has several leaves still in it from our morning walk and again, I do not care.

5.  I am eerily not freaking out about the fact that a) Thanksgiving is at my house this year.  and b) THANKSGIVING IS AT MY HOUSE THIS YEAR!!!!!!

6.  I have consumed 5 cups of coffee today, and I could probably go for 5 more.

7.  I am considering inventing a salty lolli-pop to get me my salt fix.

8.  I have rearranged all of the furniture in my living room . . . two times, and, I still don't like it.

9.  I am considering tiling the kitchen myself tonight after dinner.

10.  I fell asleep for the night at 8 pm.

How can you tell when you (or your love) have (has) PMS?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

That Woman . . . You Know the One

*****I am linking this to Mama Kat's confession prompt this week, since being "that women" entails  confessing some of my craziness. :)  Enjoy!**********

I am that woman.

I am the woman that allows her kids to climb through the clothing racks in the mall while I shop.

I am the woman that frequently has kids with unbrushed hair or dirty fingernails.

I am the woman that does not think twice about dropping off my kids at school while wearing slippers.

I am that woman.

I am the woman that goes to CVS to pick up a prescription without remembering to remove the zit cream from her face.

I am the woman that you caught picking her zit at a stoplight, while checking herself out in the rear view mirror.

I am the woman in the grocery store line, frantically searching through her purse for her ATM card, only to remember that I left in in my jeans pocket from the day before.

I am that woman.

I am the woman that occasionally (OK.  OK!  frequently) uses a curse word or four when the stresses of everyday life get the best of me.

I am the woman that will yell at her children if the occasion requires it.

I am the woman that will yell at YOUR children if you are at the park, with your nose in your kindle, and the situation requires it.

I am that woman.

I am the woman that dreads bringing treats to her kid's class.

I am the woman that would much rather pull my hair out strand by strand than organize and lead a girl scout meeting.

I am also the woman that feels guilty about the above, and therefore gets suckered into volunteering.

I am that woman.

I am the woman that likes to go on dates with my hubby.

I am the woman that loves to get tackled by my kindergartner as he gets off the bus.

I am the woman that loves tickle fights, wet kiddie kisses, and the smell of dirty kids after they have played outside for hours.

I am that woman.

I am the woman that wears her heart on her sleeve.

I  am the woman that prays hard.

I am the woman that loves harder.

I am that woman.

Hear me roar!

How do you embrace your "that woman"?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow . . . Obama Chia for Christmas

Each year, as the holidays draw near, I eagerly anticipate the joys of the season. 

I look forward to the yummy holiday dinners I share with my family.  (Let's face it. . . any meal that can combine potatoes and marshmallows is a winner!)

I look forward to the fun of holiday decor.  The bright colors and shiny decorations always bring a sparkle to my day.  (Although organizers of the nativity animal scene take note:  Please make sure that the donkeys refrain from playing "horseback" with each other while we visit your display.  Thank you very much!)

And,  as the days become more crisp,  I also look forward to holiday shopping.

I know.  I know.

You think that I am crazy.

And, truth be told, I probably am.   I just love hunting for a deal or a special memento to give to the ones that I love.  I like to give my friends and family members just a small token to let them know that I am thinking of them.

And this year, I have found a gem of a gift that I know that each and every recipient will cherish.

(And, if President Obama is not to your liking,  Joseph Enterprises also offers a Chia Lady Liberty and a Chia Abraham Lincoln.)

After all, it's the least that I can do to show that I care.

*******Author's note . . . Apparently, this little Chia is causing a great controversy.  He has been banned by Walgreen's stores according to a CNN report because he is seen by some to be "racist."  While that was not my take on the gift,  I can certainly appreciate and validate that opinion.  I just wrote this post to poke a little fun at those of us that take gift buying a bit too seriously, and because I thought that it was ridiculous to put any president on a chia pet.  I mean, how does a President of the United States rank with the likes of the Shrek or Scooby Doo chia?  Seriously?!?  That said,  when I first spied the Obama chia I did chuckle.  So, readers, I ask you.  Is the hoopla warranted?  Should Obama chia be banned, or are we all taking ourselves a bit too seriously?************

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Good, Very Bad, and Really Horrible Hair Day

When I was 18, I could have passed for a prostitute.

It was not because I wore short skirts.  (In my defense, mini skirts WERE in fashion.)

And, it was not because I applied too much make up.  In fact, at this point in my make-up career, I had not discovered the wonders of mascara or of  tweezers ( I think Bert of Ernie and Bert, Sesame Street  fame would correctly describe my brows).

No,  when I was 18, I looked like a hooker because of my hair.

As a Florida girl in the early nineties,  my hair was long.  Very long.  Middle of my back long.  It fell in lovely, long waves and was chestnut colored with honey highlights compliments of the Florida sun.  Looking back,  my hair color was beautiful.  To die for really, but did I appreciate it?

No.  I did not.

So, the summer before my freshman year in college, I decided to color my virgin hair.

I asked for some low lights.  I opted for some caramel colored tresses to mix in with my own natural highlights.  I pointed at pictures in magazines.  I pointed at color charts in the salon.  I was confident in my decision.

That is, I was confident until the stylist wheeled my chair around to the mirror for my tah-dah moment.

Except, there was no tah-dah.

Just crickets.

Then tears.

Then snot. 

And, more snot.

Instead of the caramel-y streaked tresses in my vision, my hair was white.

Madonna, in the Blond Ambition tour, white.

(Compliments of madonna-online.ch)

Skunk stripe white.

(compliments of Looney Toons and above mentioned gallery.)

It wasn't pretty my friends.

Not pretty.

I cried the whole way home, the rest of the day, and finally I cried myself to sleep.

The next morning, I woke up and momentarily forgot my hair fiasco.  Then, I walked past a mirror, caught a glimpse of my unrecognizable self, and commenced crying again.

With my very dark brows, dark roots, and olive skin, I looked very much like a street walker . . .and I had no one to blame but myself.

That wasn't even the worst part.

When I went to work that morning to my camp counselor job, one of the 3rd graders started to cry when she saw me. 


When I asked her gently what was wrong, she wailed, "My grandma's hair turned white like yours when she got cancer.  You must have cancer!" 


When I called the salon to make an appointment to fix my hair, they explained that I needed to wait at least a week with my hooker hair.  They did not want to be responsible for my hair falling out.


I had hooker hair for a week, and I vowed never to go blond again.  My only regret about my experience?

I did not let my mom get photographic evidence.

******Linking to Mama Kat's workshop.  Read more BAD HAIR DAYS there.*****

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