Airing My Grievance

It’s that time, friends. Emily at The Waiting has reminded me that we are coming up on Festivus. As an observer of all Seinfeld holidays, I feel bound to honor tradition. Since I’m too lazy for any feats of strength, I’m here to air my grievances.

One of my biggest grievances was an inability to actually choose one. I debated. At first I thought my biggest grievance would be with Amazon for that email suggesting that a Kindle Fire, with all its free books, would be the perfect gift for the kiddies. Even though the vast majority of those free books are erotica, and there’s no way to actually filter that crap out in a search, I have bigger grievances to air.

Then I thought the biggest complaint might be Target and their crummy website with its limited products and lack of free shipping. I cannot order the sink strainer of my dreams, nor will they ship it to me gratis unless I agree to let them track my spending habits forever and ever amen. But I have bigger annoyances.

Was it the notice that the 50 Shades series was voted Romance of the Year on Goodreads? Though I am not sure how I can live in a world where such drivel becomes a best seller, surprisingly, I have bigger complaints.

Maybe my biggest grievance is that I am not the party animal that Squish is. He turned four yesterday, and though my special day is a mere four days away, I’ll never be able to celebrate with the same reckless abandon. He knows what he wants, and he just goes for it, let the chips (and the mustard) fall where they may. See what I mean?

What can I say? The kid knows how to party.

His birthday wish. What can I say? The kid knows how to party.

On my birthday, it is doubtful that I will even find a box I can fit into, much less get someone to make me lunch. Squish lives the good life. No, I will admit, I am a wee jealous, but that’s still not my biggest grievance to air.

Today I am airing my underwear. I was perfectly content with my choice of undergarment until yesterday, when I visited a new store in my town. If we had gone right but an aisle sooner, I would still be happy with my bloomers, but alas, we went to the left, straight into the hunting department. I saw it, and I covet it more than free shipping and lunch in a box. I want Scent Away, the underwear that promises to make me smell invisible.

I don’t know why no one has thought of it before. It’s such an obvious pairing. Smell and invisibility go together  like peas and nuclear warheads, chocolate sauce and gym socks,  Play-doh and woodwind instruments. Someone put two and two together and came up with this fabulous product. And I don’t own any. It’s not fair.

How can anyone now be satisfied with mere Underoos? Sure, it’s underwear that’s fun to wear, but while we may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or sling a web from skyscraper to high-rise, those villains have noses. All that leaping and slinging works up quite a sweat, you know. They’ll smell us coming from a mile away.

I could buy a pair of Scent Aways, I suppose. If they made them for women. THEY DON’T! . Stupid, sexist pigs odorless animals! Again, unfair.

Getting dressed is not any fun anymore. Who wants to be a superhero? Superheroes stink. Thanks, Scent Away, for making the unmentionables not worth mentioning. I don’t want to fight pretend crime. I want to smell invisible.

Are there any earmuffs out there that will make me sound weightless?

My Saddest News

My coffee pot is dying. Well, maybe it’s not technically dying, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to kill it, which will have the same end result. I have diagnosed the issue, but I don’t think it can be fixed. How do you treat a coffee maker for PMS? I’m fairly certain that’s what’s wrong with it because it seems to be retaining water, and it punched the toaster oven for saying the new filters make it look fat.

I’ve never had this happen before, and we’ve been through a lot of coffee pots. I put in 3 scoops of coffee and 5 cups of water, which should result in a nice, strong, wake-me-up pot of coffee. What I get is 6 cups of weak, watery mess that couldn’t jump start a Matchbox car. Where is the extra water coming from?

My theory is that it isn’t pushing all the water through every time, and sometimes it pees out the extra. The question is how to fix it. I doubt that we can.

It shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s Christmas, right? We could go to the coffee maker store and buy ourselves a nice, beautiful, new coffee pot as a gift to one another. Sounds simple, no? No. It’s going to take awhile before my sweet husband will be able to let go. Right now, we’re navigating the five stages of grief.

Denial – There’s nothing wrong with the coffee pot. We’re simply putting in more water than we think we are. Never mind that I have used the same measuring device twice a day for two years.

Anger– I think the anger is directed more at me than the fates for even suggesting that the Krups may be on its last legs. And my anger is aimed at husband for being so attached to this particular stupid coffee maker. I don’t care about the Krups, just gimme the joe. Even if you have to filter it through a sock.

Bargaining– This is where we’re currently setting up camp. “If we just add a little more coffee to the brew, it will be okay!” Let’s just forget for a moment that I am already adding 20% more coffee than is recommended. And that it costs $15 a pound.

Depression– I think we can rename this one “sleepiness,” and it’s coming soon. When we’re used to about a billion micro-grams of caffeine a day and we’ve been reduced to drinking dishwater, the nap-attacks are just around the corner.

Acceptance- I wish I could say that with this stage would come a visit to a department store to purchase a new pot. Instead, we’ll start the thrift store prowl in the hopes of finding a better coffee pot than we could ever afford to purchase new.

.

Wake me in about a month.

Christmas Spirit; It’s Free

Christmas can be a tough time of year. I know this from experience. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the demands on our time, bank accounts, sanity. For many years, I have struggled to hold onto any kind of genuine Christmas spirit, and then I beat myself up for not feeling the way I should feel. So helpful. I am learning that it doesn’t have to be this way. The joy of Christmas is free.

Here’s what’s working for me:

1) Let someone in line in front of you. Be it at the grocery store, or merging in traffic. Wave someone in and let them take your spot. Do it graciously. With a smile. It’s a little thing, but it’ll make you feel great, and it’s free.

2) Withhold judgment. That toddler who is face down on the ground screaming his head off? Instead of thinking “Ack! What a brat!” think instead that maybe the poor kid has just been dragged to 15 stores and is over this whole Christmas shopping deal. Or perhaps they are developing an ear infection and Mom is killing time in the toy aisle while their prescription is filled. Grace is free.

3) Take a little kid to a Christmas parade. If you don’t have one, borrow one. There’s magic in seeing the season through the eyes of a child.

I see Santa! And I just ate a doughnut.

I see Santa! And I just ate a doughnut.

 

4) Do some cleaning. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Tackle a drawer, a cabinet, even a closet if you’re brave. Find five things to donate to a charity (did you know animal shelters would LOVE your old towels?). Not only does it feel great to straighten things up a bit, it’s sometimes helpful to realize how much we already have. Straightening my family room and seeing the embarrassment of riches reaffirmed our decision to limit what the kids are getting this year.

5) Simplify. The calendar, the gift list. Trim what isn’t necessary. I bow out of any evening meetings that pop up   toward the end of the month, and we only agree to the activities that will add to the feeling of joy. The gift list is at a minimum, partly because we’re on a budget, but mostly because running around like chickens with our heads cut off to complete a gift list detracts from the meaning of the season.

5) Pour a cup of hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie. And any good movie will do, as long as it says Christmas to you. I recommend The Nativity Story, which is a beautiful interpretation of the Christmas story. Amadeus is on my Christmas movie list, too, because it always played on television at Christmas time. Whether it’s a Griswald Christmas something Dickens-ish, many libraries offer movies as free loans. Check out their selection.

6) Share your memories. I love to talk about favorite Christmas memories. Bringing back the magic of my childhood warms my heart. Find someone to share your stories with, and listen to theirs. In fact, what I want most for Christmas is for my friends and loved ones to write out their favorite memories for me.

7) Listen to Christmas music. NOT these songs, unless that’s what does it for you. I say go for the good stuff. A little Tchaikovsky, some Handel, stuff without lyrics that get stuck in your head. Again, these are often a free loan from the library.

8) Put some money in the bucket. Okay, this one isn’t free, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. I keep a pocket full of change to drop in the Salvation Army buckets. Our tradition is to drop change into every bucket we pass. We don’t have a ton of money to spare, but it’s a constant reminder that we are already so blessed; having a little something to give is just a bonus. And it’s a good opportunity to teach the kids about giving.

9) If you don’t feel it today, try again tomorrow. That’s the thing about depression. It is a sneaky-snake of a voice that tells us we’re never going to get it right. And it’s a lie. If today was not a great day, get up tomorrow and try it again. My commitment to myself this season is to not let yesterday’s mistakes spill over into today. It’s a new day, friends. And it can be glorious!

 

How do you add joy to a holiday season?

Oh, No! I’m a Week LATE!

On my giving thanks post. What did you think I meant? The turkey has digested, but the thankfulness is still around. Here’s my list.

1) Ding dong, the Twinkie’s dead. The first step in my diabolical plan to have MoonPies named King of the Snack Cakes.

2) Squish wants a homemade gift for Christmas. Sure, his wish is a baby sister, and he’ll be disappointed on Christmas morning, but I’m so proud that he isn’t feeding into this frenzy of rampant consumerism.  Actually, maybe he is. He keeps asking me to call the baby store to see if his baby sister is in. I tried to explain about Black Friday, but I’m not sure he understands.

3)  Our weekend after Thanksgiving was spent hiking. We went from an environment where we were grateful that there were fewer than 20 people in line ahead of us at the register to feeling a little crowded when we saw six people on the trail.

He could have used that stick at the mall. Why didn’t I think of that?

.

4) We will not have to visit the mall and wait in endless lines to meet Santa. Because Squish is still afraid the fat guy in the red suit is going to eat him.

5) My NaNo project has turned into TWO projects. And I’ll dig in right after the holidays. I’m still writing, but I have some time-sensitive projects that need to get done soon. And they’re projects that I enjoy, so there’s that to be thankful for, too.

6) The kids aren’t too big yet.

There might be room in here for a baby sister, no? The correct answer is NO!

 

What’s on your gratitude list?

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: How I Make My Christmas List

Do you have any idea how much stuff there is in the world? It can be confusing to make a holiday wish list. I keep things simple. My list usually includes:

A favorite book:

I’ve had this copy for longer than I’ve had my husband.

Aww! Don’t judge a book’s condition by its cover. Well, maybe this cover…

Sad spine. Pages barely hanging on. I do hate that Johnny chose to get drunk on this page. There are children following my blog. Or maybe I dreamed that last part.

Something sad:

This towel was a wedding gift. 17 years ago. That’s not a stain, I swear. It’s a diamond. Not only is it faded and ragged, it has *ahem* apparently shrunk in the wash.

Something I have set on fire:

Not only did I set it on fire, it got washed in hot water and is now an oven mitten.

Something I miss:

Sad story here. Not only do I not have this on DVD like I thought I did, I no longer have the video, either. Apparently, I gave it away because, hey, I had the DVD. Did that make you sad? It makes me sad.

What’s on your list this year?

My Star Wars Saga

The Padawan is a Star Wars fan. I’ll pause for a moment while you recover from that shock. Better? Good.

I’ve known for months exactly which magnificent Star Wars Lego set I wanted to get for him for Christmas. I had the money in hand, I just needed to find a good deal. I am a patient woman, so I waited for the prices to drop, which predictably they did.  I am also a cheap woman, so I waited a little longer to see if they would drop still more. Did I mention the part where I am also stupid?

It has been a long time since I have shopped like this, about a year, actually. And I had forgotten that prices hit bottom on the good stuff in October and will steadily climb until Christmas. A year is a long time to remember that I should loosen the purse strings a little.

So now, the cool item has disappeared from store shelves. On Sunday, I found a store that would ship it to the store of my choice for free, and the set was at a supremely sweet price to boot. One catch. We have our holiday funds in a new account, strictly for the holiday shopping. The lesson I do remember from last year is that when a giant online store messes up, it can take months to straighten out the ol’ bank account (I’m looking at you, Amazon). So we set up a separate account for online stuff. The card was due to arrive on Monday.

On Monday, the set was no longer available. I found another retailer. They were going to charge me so much to ship the thing that it was no longer worth it. I almost gave up on ever possessing that set. But I found new determination, the same kind that leads a cat to believe that it will one day catch that laser pointer.

I went to The Source. You know, the Lego Store. I found the set I wanted (back-ordered, but available for presale), plus a precious freebie set, free shipping AND 10% off. So, yay! Sale ending in six hours. Thank goodness the card had arrived!

Card declined. I tried again. Declined.  I called the bank, which happens to be a local credit union. It was 5:30, and everyone was gone. No 24 hour service.

Husband’s card also declined. Same deal. Verified, authorized, useless. I may have pooped my pants.

Called the Lego Store to beg for mercy. And free shipping.The nicest guy helped me out.

The little freebie was gone.  Sad face. BUT the fellow set up an order for me so that I qualified for free shipping and 10% off. He assured me that they are getting more of my set on the 15th, but no more are scheduled to arrive after that. If my order didn’t complete early the next day, it might be gone for good. No pressure.

Called the bank. At 8:30 sharp. I was transferred to the person who could help me. Except that she was out of the office. Tick tock, Clarice.

Discovered the problem.  Turns out, when the teller had set up this account, she had missed the last step in the process. You know, the one that actually opens the account.

I called the Lego store.  The nice lady clicked some buttons and said the order was verified. I didn’t get a confirmation email, and I told her as much. She said I’d get the confirmation in 2 days. For real? In the digital age, it takes 2 days to know if my payment went through?

I asked her to double-check. Turns out, she didn’t even have my payment information, which is kind of important for buying stuff. We tried again.

Did it work?  I have no idea. I gave her the info, and the order was verified. At least she says it was. Neither the order or the payment will be processed until Thursday. Awesome.

May the Force be with us all.

Why am I trying so hard? Maybe because I am stubborn and like beating my head against the wall. Or maybe because the kid looks SO much like his mom that I feel like I owe him big time. No guy wants to look this much like his mom did at that age. Seriously.  It’s almost as bad as finding out Darth Vader is your dad. 

Post-Holiday Blues

Holidays can be a bit of a mixed bag. While it’s great to get together with family that we maybe don’t see as often as we like, there’s also that bit of awkwardness. Maybe it’s just in my family, or maybe you can relate.

It’s a wonderful blessing to be together, but after a little, you realize that nothing has changed. You see them living in the same mistakes year after year. Every year you hope it will be different, that they will have learned a new way of doing things, that you won’t have to experience the pain of the sameness, hurting and wishing they could see the mistakes they are making as clearly as you do.

Every year you wonder if this will be the year that you get up the courage to say something, but then in the end you retreat like a whipped dog, afraid to be the big bad guy, of being rejected. You feel like a coward because someone needs to be brave and take that first step.

This year, it is going to be me. I am being courageous.

Mom, the coffee was kind of weak. Can we have French Roast at Christmas? There. I feel so much better now!

We’ll pretend that this is a photo of my mom. She doesn’t like her pic on the interwebs, and Squish looks so much like her that it’s like he didn’t even need me as the middle man.

A Good Place To Be

It’s a good day. Yesterday I experienced a big perspective shift that really knocked my socks off. I’ll share it with you soon.

I am a lucky girl. Here’s how I am blessed today:

1) We’re coming up on the half-way point in NaNo, and I’ve realized I will not finish my book by November 30. You want to know why? The story I am telling pleases me greatly. It has been easy to write up until this point. That may change tomorrow, but for now it’s cooking along well. But I will need more than 50K words to tell the story. Like, way more. I’ll meet the word goal, but I’ll only be about 1/3 of the way through the book. So I won’t write “The End” by November 30, but I will still be a winner. In a big way.

2) Last year’s project is speaking to me, also. It’s a story that still wants to be told and desires to see the light of day. I am getting excited about that story, too. And there are two other future works that are talking to me. I am a writer again.

3) Every time I ask my kids what they want for Christmas because grandparents are anxious to finish their shopping, they say “Um, I haven’t really thought about it.” Wow. They aren’t spending all their waking hours (or any time at all, actually) thinking of things they want people to buy them. They’re better at the whole contentment game than I was at their age.

4) I made a giant crockpot full of apple butter yesterday. Want the recipe? It’s easy. And the best part was that the Girl-child helped me make it.

5) I canned the apple butter this morning. I have nine jars lined up like little soldiers on my counter, and all of them sealed successfully. There is no sweeter sound than the ping of a sealing jar. Never canned before? It’s not too hard.  And you don’t need any special equipment to do it, I don’t care what the Ball jar box tells you. A big pot and a dish towel is all you need! Oh, and some jars. And some apple butter. Get peeling!

6) The depression that threatens to swallow me whole around the holidays hasn’t made its appearance, glory to God. It may show up at the door tomorrow, but for today I am not just functioning but thriving. I will take each good day as it come, and we’ll make the most of it.

7) Squish has become my cooking buddy. Yesterday he wanted to make muffins, so we found a good recipe and set to work. They were so good that we’re making them again today! I’ll try to take some pictures and share the recipe.

8) I’ve managed attended a write-in with real people in a real room. Writing has become a very solitary activity for me since I am no longer in close proximity to other writers. I grew up with AJ, and I always had a live and in-person collaboration buddy/idea bouncer off of-er/critic. I miss that. And her. So I attended a write-in. Next time I’ll get brave enough to introduce myself.

9) The last lesson I worked with my computer students on really captured their attention. They took notes, were engaged and interested, and they may remember what they learned for longer than a week. I really felt like a teacher.

So that is where I am. And where are you this fine day?

A Treat for the Ears. Or something.

I am sick today, so you get a reblog. It’s the time of year when all the radio stations and shipping malls are regaling you with Christmas tunes, anyway, so I’m not that early. Heck, Hallmark has their ornament premiere in July, so I might even be a little late. Anyway, enjoy.

Becoming Cliche

Everybody has a list. Here’s mine, in no particular order.

Christmas Shoes – This has to be the sappiest song ever written. And it makes no sense. A kid’s mom is terminally ill, so his dad lets him wander away from the hospital with maybe thirty-five cents in his pocket (okay, I made that number up. But it’s based on research with an actual child. My kid’s pockets contain less than fifty cents at any given moment) to go buy his mama some shoes. So she can look pretty when she meets Jesus. Personally, I thought the Prince of Peace was looking at our hearts and not our footwear. Maybe I should buy something other than Birkenstocks. And what kind of shoes does Dad think the kid can even buy with a quarter and some pocket lint? Even in the clearance rack at Wal-mart, the pickings would be pretty slim…

View original post 512 more words

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Happy Independence Day!

From my home to yours: I hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July!

.

The forefathers declared independence in July. They must have intended for us to celebrate with picnics and swimming pools. I bet Ben Franklin had a nice Ballpark Frank to celebrate.

.

And to my British friends – no hard feelings on that whole War of Independence thing, right? We cool?

There’s nothing more independent than a toddler. This is his day, and he’s celebrating!

 

Squirt me with that water gun, and you’ll have a whole new understanding of “Rockets’ red glare.”