Thursday, December 28, 2006
Last Thursday we went caroling at the local nursing home. I guess in my idea of a perfect world, the elderly aren't like discontinued figurines, placed somewhere then forgotten. It broke my heart when the home administrator, her voice choking with tears, thanked our group again and again for coming. She told us the residents we would see were the ones who rarely received visitors, especially during the holidays. Leading us down a narrow hallway, she brought us into a large dining room, filled with 50-60 residents, all displaying different stages of depression; some anxiously scanning the faces in our crowd, obviously hoping to see a long-absent loved one. Since I was pushing Robert in the stroller, we were moved to the front of the group. I wasn't too happy with that. I envisioned Robert escaping from his stroller and trying to go for a ride in someone's wheelchair, myself and a stream of people chasing him.
Our group hadn't sang together since last Christmas, but on that night, we were truly blessed, for our voices blended and complimented each other as we smiled and sang to that roomful of people. At the end of the first song, we were surprised by the enthusiastic applause. Robert, always wanting to be the center of attention, stood up in his stroller, clapped, and said, 'Thank you; thank you very much." The residents loved it, and clapped harder. They were so happy to have visitors. Allergies had me down all day, now I was ashamed that I considered not going there with my children.
We left there with a feeling of happiness, a result of the true meaning of Christmas
We had a quiet, but wonderful, Christmas. Christmas Day the boys played with their Kawasaki keyboard, and with the Playstation 2 and games Santa left. There's one game that they have a hard time prying me away from--it's called Dance Dance Revolution 2. It has a workout mode I'm in love with. I couldn't help but notice though, there a "clumsy" warning about falling and being too close to the television. Hmm. . .wonder if the designers created that warning with me in mind?
How was your Christmas?
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I found this fun meme at chelle's blog
The Letter A
Are you agnostic? No.
What is your age? I seldom act my age, so I lose track. Thirty-six.
What annoys you? People who are late and don’t have enough consideration to call and let you know they’re running late.
The Letter B
Do you like bacon? It’s okay. I could take it or leave it. .
What is your birthday? September 5th
Who is your best friend? John, of course
The Letter C
What is your favorite candy? Cinnamon disks
Who is your crush? John (boring, huh?)
When was the last time you cried? At the family Christmas. We lost 4 this year, one after the other.
The Letter D
Do you daydream? Course, that’s how I get some story ideas.
What is your favorite kind of dog? Husky/Malamute
What day of the week is it? Thursday
The Letter E
How do you like your eggs? Fried or scrambled
Have you ever been in the emergency room? Laughing my butt off on this one. Oh yeah. There for a while I thought they’d give us a reserved parking place.
What’s the easiest thing to ever do? Fall in love.
The Letter F
Have you ever flown in a plane? Yes
Do you use fly swatters? Yep
Have you ever used a foghorn? No, my voice is loud enough.
The Letter G
Do you chew gum? Yes.
Are you a giver or taker. Giver
.The Letter H
How are you? In what sense are you asking this?
What’s your height? 5′6 and ¾ inches. (might as well say 5’7”)
What color is your hair? Dark Brown
The Letter I
What is your favorite ice-cream? Chocolate mint
Have you ever ice-skated? Yes
Do you play an instrument? Yes, several.
The Letter J
What is your favorite jelly bean? Any kind that Jelly Belly makes
Do you wear jewelry? Toe rings, wedding ring, silver bracelet, necklace
Have you heard a really hilarious joke? Sometimes
The Letter K
Who do you want to kill? No one!
Do you want kids? As in do I want any more? I’m happy with these two
Where did you have kindergarten? Central Texas
The Letter L
Are you laid-back? Very laid-back; sometimes too much.
Do you lie? Not very much; I really try not to.
Do you love anyone? Yeah, friends, family. . .
The Letter M
What is your favorite movie? Rose Red
Do you still watch Disney movies? Yep
Do you like mangos? They’re okay.
The Letter N
Do you have a nickname? Deb
What is your favorite number? 23
Do you prefer night or day? morning.
The Letter O
What is your one wish? My children be healthy and prosperous
Are you an only child? Yes. My older brother is deceased
Do you wish this year was over? No.
The Letter P
What is one fear that you are most paranoid about? Being stalked, again. Happened several years ago when I was in my twenties.
What personality trait would you look for in someone you wanted to date? Honesty and humor
The Letter Q
Are you quick to judge people? No not really; I try and give people the benefit of the doubt.
The Letter R
Do you think you are always right? No, not perfect
Do you watch reality T.V.? Yeah, sometimes. I, um, like American Idol
What is a good reason to cry? When there’s a good reason for it.
The Letter S
Do you prefer sun or rain? I love rainy days. I light a candle, watch old movies, listen to music, read, or bake.
Do you like snow? I love it.
What is your favorite season? Fall
The Letter T
What time is it? 6:16 pm.
What time did you wake up? 5:30.
When was the last time you slept in a tent? A year ago in my back yard
The Letter U
Are you wearing underwear? Let me check. . . yeah!
The Letter V
What is the worst veggie? Brussel sprouts
Where do you want to go on vacation? Spain or Italy
What was your last family vacation together? This past summer
The Letter W
What is your worst habit? Being sarcastic
Where do you live? Texas
The Letter X
Have you ever had an X-ray? yes.
Have you ever seen the X-Games? no.
Do you own a xylophone? No.
The Letter Y
Do you like the color yellow? It’s okay. Blue’s my favorite though
What year where you born in? 1970
What do you yearn for most? ?
The Letter Z
What is your Zodiac Sign? Virgo
Do you believe in the Zodiac? nope.
What is your favorite zoo animal? Zebra. I’d love to ride one. J.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I waited until Thursday to do my major cleaning, and paid dearly for my procrastination. The house looked worse than it did before I started; cleaned window treatments were draped over the back of couches--which were pulled away from the living room walls so I could sweep behind them--cookie sheets and empty mixing bowls filled the kitchen sink, and remnants of Christmas wrapping paper littered my bedroom floor.
"There's no way I can get all this done by tomorrow," I muttered, rubbing my forehead as I walked from room to room, surveying the damage. In addition to the cleaning, I still had to finish cooking, Christmas shop, and finish stringing up the rest of the outside lights I had bought a few days earlier.
"Hey Mommy," Robert called from the living room. "I'm helping you clean."
That bodes no good, I thought, my "mommy-sense" tingling as I hurried to the living room. I pressed my fist hard against my lips, fighting the scream that was building inside of me because of what I saw.
There, standing by the antique off-white couch my mother-in-law gave me before her death, watercolors and paint brush in hand, was Robert. "See, I made it pretty," he announced proudly, pointing to the large, rainbow-colored streaks on the cushions. As dismayed as I was, I couldn't remain angry; after all, he did think he was helping.
"Umm. . .yeah. . .that's pretty," I said, kneeling down until I was eye-level with him. "But, you know, we don't paint furniture. Why don't you paint that pretty rainbow on paper, then give it to Granny as a gift?" Robert's face had fallen when he was told he couldn't create masterpieces on the couch, but his enthusiasm returned at the prospect of giving Granny a gift. Great, now I have to add "steam clean the couch" to my list, I thought tiredly, getting manilla paper out of the craft drawer for Robert's creation.
By Thursday night, the chaos was under control, or so I thought. Friday morning I cleaned furiously, as if my life depended upon it; in a way, it did. My mama, the "neat freak", was coming with the remainder of the family, so everything had to be perfect. In the past, when she came to my house, inevitably, she'd find a wayward toy under the coffee table, or peaking from beneath the couch. This led to a five minute lecture from her on the "tripping hazards". Not this time though, this time my house would be perfect. My house isn't filthy; I guess, in a sense, I'm a "neat freak" as well.
At noon, Robert and I stopped cleaning long enough to pick up a couple more gifts Christmas in town--would you believe nothing happened--and grab a bite to eat. I finished up the house when we got back. Later that afternoon, I became a mother again, six times over. John came home with Seth's 4H project, five baby bunnies and their mother. We had just put the bunnies in their hutch when my family pulled into the driveway.
Noisy, heartfelt greetings were exchanged, and we all trooped into the house. I held my breath as Mama coolly glanced around the house. "The house looks and smells wonderful," she said finally. Everything past inspection, and I was relieved.
"But dear," she continued, looking me up and down disapprovingly, "you're not going to go out to eat with us looking like that, are you?"
I felt, and knew I looked like crap. My hair was windblown, and waving in different directions; glancing down at my dirty, rabbit pee smelling shorts, I had an evil thought. "Of course I am Mama, and I'm going to stand up and announce to the restaurant what your name is, that you never let me have nice clothes as a child, and this is the only way I know how to dress," I retorted mischievously.
"Funny girl," she replied, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips.
I showered--rabbit pee isn't my perfume of choice--changed, then we all ate at Texas Red's, an old cotton gin converted into a restaurant. You're served peanuts as an appetizer, and since the floor is hardwood, you're asked to throw the peanut shells onto the floor, so that it can absorb the peanut oil when the shells are stepped on.
Mama didn't understand the philosophy behind the discarded shells at first. "Debra, didn't I raise you not to throw trash on the floor?" she scolded. I tried to explain, but it was in vain, she was convinced I was making excuses. I grabbed a passing waitress, and made her explain it.
"Well, I'm not going to do it," Mama whispered to me huffily. "I think it's rude."
I sighed and slumped in my chair. Mama was a lot of fun to be around, but she was so proper, sometimes too proper. The dinner went great, the only exception when Mama got into the habit of throwing her shells, and accidentally hit my cousin in the face.
The next day, we celebrated Christmas together, and after the cars were loaded with their gifts, we bid the family a tearful good-bye. The house whose walls rang with laughter, now sat quiet, too quiet. The dust had not yet settled in the driveway, and already we missed our family members.
Our sadness was short-lived when a family friend (a surrogate grandfather) arrived a few hours later, gifting us with a slightly used golf cart. Way cool!
Hmm. . .golf cart + me= adventure and possible disaster, don't you think?
What did you do this weekend?
Thursday, December 14, 2006
“C’mon Mommy. Let’s go, everybody is there,” he urged, pulling me toward the soccer field.
“We have plenty of time,” I replied, “we need to wait for Daddy.”
My calmness was a façade. I had been involved in sports for as long as I could remember, and now I was fluctuating between wanting to play the entire soccer game by myself, and looking for a quiet place to puke. Neither was an option; I had to coach my son’s team in our final game. We were a young and inexperienced team, and despite all our efforts that season, we were playing for the bragging rights of fourth place in a six-team division.
“Gee, thanks,” John quipped, grunting as he lifted a cooler from the rear of the vehicle. “You could help me carry this.”
“I’m watching our child,” I said, “and besides, you’re so much stronger than I am,” I replied, batting my eyelashes and lapsing into my “I’m just a poor helpless girl” routine.
“Good call, Coach,” a soccer parent chuckled, patting my back as she walked past.
“Yeah, right,” her husband retorted, rolling his eyes. “Here, I’ll help ya,” he told John, grabbing the other end of the loaded cooler.
“Come on Seth, let’s go,” their son and Seth’s teammate, Dexter, chimed. We let the boys run ahead to the fields, and walking at a more leisurely pace, we joined them a couple of minutes later.
My teams’ shin guards were too big, almost reaching their knobby knees, but donned in their uniforms, they looked like shrunken versions of the soccer players seen on TV. My heart soared as I watched them skillfully pass the ball to each other; they had come so far in the short amount of time we had.
“Hey, who do we play?” Dexter’s mom asked.
“The Angels,” John replied.
Just the mention of that team brought a hush over the parents standing on the sidelines. We had played them twice that season, and each time they trounced us soundly. “More like “Hell’s Angels,” one dad said, causing a ripple of laughter.
“Maybe they’ll forget and not show up,” another offered.
“Oh no, they’ll show up. They’re playing for first place.” I said. I shook my head, still not understanding how it could be fair to get first place by beating a weaker team; but the Angels were almost undefeated, and if their nemesis, The Raccoons lost, the Angels won the division.
A few minutes before game time, the opposing team arrived; clad in sky-blue colored uniforms, they were the pictures of confidence. “Ready to get beaten again?” My stomach lurched at the sound of the obnoxious voice behind me. Turning, I faced Brandi, a mountain of a woman, and who, perhaps if I could have found a ladder, would have received a swift kick in the kneecaps from me. A sharp glance from John reminded me there were children present, and a normal smart remark from me would not be a good idea.
Instead, I gathered my team around me. “They’ve beaten us every time, and they think this will be easy,” I remember saying, fire in my every word. “But they’re not gonna score one goal are they?”
“No!” retorted the team.
“What? I can’t hear you!”
“No!” screamed the kids, boiling out onto the field as the whistle to begin play sounded.
All through the first half, I walked the sidelines, yelling instructions and encouragement to my players. “Stay with them! NO ONE GETS PAST!”
“Gee, Coach,” said the ref, pausing a couple of seconds beside me. “Why don’t you just give ‘em helmets and pads and let ‘em go after it.”
‘If you think it’ll help,” I retorted with mock innocence. My tiny players were determined, and not one goal was scored on them the first half. During the juice break, I raved to them on how well they were playing; it was obvious they were tired, but they still has “the eye of the tiger.”
In the last few minutes of the game, our opponents had the ball and were driving to our goal. Suddenly their player lost control of the ball, and there was a mad flurry of legs as both teams sought possession. Then, out of the dust, emerged Seth, my baby, driving toward the opponent’s goal, the ball well under his control, no one in front of him.
I felt like I was in a dream as I raced down the sidelines, hurdling coolers and chairs, while calling to encouragement to my son. Not only were we going to win, but also my baby was going to score the winning goal!
Then it happened. I watched in dismay as Seth stopped abruptly and bent over. Was it an injury, a cramp? I couldn’t believe what I saw next. Plucking a flower from the field, he abandoned the ball, and trotted over to the sidelines towards me, the plant clutched tightly in his sweaty hand. I felt like a deflating balloon as I watched the other team kick take the ball back down the field and score.
That’s the game,” the ref called, glancing at his watch. I couldn’t block out the jubilant cries of the Angels, and I hate to say it, I felt ill. It’s not so much we lost; it was the fact we lost to Brandi.
“Mooommmmy,” Seth yelled, pulling at my sleeve. I picked this flower just for you ‘cause I love you. It’s so pretty, don’t you think?”
I took the slightly smashed dandelion he offered me, thankful I had such a loving, considerate child. The other team may have taken home the trophy, but I, I had the real prize.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
In the wintertime, where I reside, the temperature rarely dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, either in the day or night, making the use of Central Heat unnecessary. Instead, we use RIVAL floor heaters. When we bought the heaters a couple of years ago, the smiling sales associate pointed out that this brand of heater came with a safety mechanism; it cuts off if tipped over. We never had any trouble with them until a few nights ago.
This Thursday, after my usual nightly walk, I collapsed on the couch with the remote. Everyone else was asleep, and I intended on having some much needed “me time” with the TV.
I can’t remember falling asleep, but the next thing I knew, I was awakened by the sound of an extremely loud commercial. Yawning, I turned off the TV, and rolled over on the couch. “Might as well bunk here tonight; don’t wanna disturb John,” I muttered to myself.”
I closed my eyes, only to open them with a start. It’s unexplainable, but something didn’t seem right. As if led by an unseen force, I got off the couch and walked down the hallway, pausing in front of my oldest son’s room. Just outside the door, my nostrils were assaulted by a foul acid smell.
To my horror, the floor heater in his room was laying face down on the floor, the motor running full blast. As I said earlier, the darn thing is SUPPOSED to have an automatic cut-off switch, but it didn’t cut off.
It what seemed to me like slow motion, I jerked the heater off the floor, turned it off, and unplugged it. My heart caught in my throat when I saw the damage. The heater had burned a palm-sized spot into my wooden floor. The spot was as hot as a stove burner. I felt sick when I thought about what could have happened if I hadn’t awakened; we all would have perished in a house fire.
Therefore, I beg of you—no matter how the manufacture guarantees the safety of their product, if you can, please refrain from using floor heaters. It is literally, a matter of life or death.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
At the party, we had pans of homemade baked ziti, lasagna, sausage and peppers, baked ham, and roasted turkey. Everything had been demolished with gusto, except for that cursed yard bird. There it sat, mocking me at the end of the table, the new giant "albatross around my neck." Thanksgiving had just barely faded into the past, and everyone, like me, was sick of turkey.
"Wouldn't you like to take some yummy turkey home?" I begged my 3 year-old great niece who was "helping" me in the kitchen.
"Ew, no!" she said swiping her hand over her mouth. "I tired of turkey."
"You and me both sis," I said tiredly, starting to wrap up the left over bird. Then it occurred to me that the internet would probably have a wealth of turkey recipes. I froze half the bird, and put the other half in the fridge.
After the last tearful good-bye was made, I went in search online for a good recipe. I wasn't disappointed. Here's a couple of recipes I found, one on the net, one I found on my recipe CD.
The one off the Easy Chef version 4.5 CD:
Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Enchiladas
Leftover cooked turkey (white or dark
1 or 2 cans cream of celery soup or
cream of chicken, cream of
mushroom (whichever suits your
1 can diced green chilies (I eliminated the chilies and used chopped bell peppers which I sauteed with the onions)
1 reg. size pkg. plain tortilla
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cheddar cheese, grated
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Monterey Jack cheese,
1 sm. onion, chopped
1 jar jalapenos (optional)
Saute onions in butter or margarine in medium skillet until golden brown. Add green chilies, soup, and 1 soup can of water. Stir and simmer until heated. Crush tortilla chips, using 1/2 of package. Spread a layer in bottom of baking dish. Evenly place a layer of cooked turkey on top of chips. Spoon a layer of 1/2 of soup mixture over chips. Add jalapenos, if desired. Sprinkle with 1/3 of both grated cheeses. Repeat chips, turkey, and soup mixture; top with grated cheese. Quantity is determined by the amount of turkey available. For larger amounts, simply continue to layer ingredients. Conventional Oven: Bake in oven at 350 degrees until thoroughly heated and cheese is bubbly.
Microwave Oven: Heat at medium high power until thoroughly heated and cheese is bubbly. Note: This dish is great during holidays after everyone is tired of turkey and dressing. Cooked chicken also works great. This recipe reheats well and tastes even better as a leftover!
Click here for the internet recipe
Monday, December 04, 2006
“Darling, let me take you away from all of this,” Rhett Butler said, pointing at the clutter in my kitchen. Globs of cookie batter sat hardening on cookie sheets, while rivers of turkey gravy poured off the counters and congealed on the floor.
John stood by the stove, wearing a Chef Boyardee hat. “How many minutes per pound do I cook the turkey?” he inquired, waving a baseball bat sized thermometer.
“Just ignore everything, and come with me,” Rhett demanded, sweeping me into his powerful arms.
“I-I can’t,” I whispered “my family needs me,”
“Then kiss me once and I’ll be off,” he mumbled.
I watched him through my eyelashes as he lowered his head to kiss me.
“Mama, wake up,” an obnoxious voice screeched, interrupting my dream.
Opening one eye, I saw my oldest regarding me grouchily. “Are you hurt?”
“What time is it?”
“Six o’ clock”
“Already?” I asked, yawning. It seemed like I had just crawled into the bed a few minutes earlier. I stayed up until 3 AM, every night that week preparing for the family party, and now, on Friday morning, the lack of sleep was catching up to me.
Wearily, I slunk out of bed and shuffled off to the kitchen, where my savior, the coffee pot, was awaiting. Leaning against the counter, I sipped my coffee and made a mental “to-do” for that day. Suddenly, a feeling of uneasiness enshrouded me, tying my stomach in knots.
“Something awful is going happen today,” I announced, to Seth and John, kissing them on the cheek as they left for work and school, “so be careful.”
“I’m not worried, I don’t have the history you do with mishaps. It’s all in your head; if you think something bad will happen, it will. Don’t worry, nothing will happen.” I watched as he drove away, almost running over my black cat, Midnight, as it scampered toward the porch.
“He’s right,” I told the purring cat as I scratched the white spot under his chin. “Nothing will happen.” Famous last words.
After kitchen was cleaned—my dream of the dirty kitchen was still very fresh in my mind—Robert and I set off to town. We had just entered the interstate, when I heard A LOT of road noise; glancing in the mirror, to my dismay I saw the back window of the Jimmy had come open. Behind the backseat was a whirlwind of empty trash bags I used to line the carpet when the dog rode with us.
Pulling over, I stopped on the shoulder. Mama always told me not to play in traffic, yet here I was, on one of the busiest roads in Texas, jumping out of the truck to close the window, and praying I didn’t become a hood ornament for some inattentive drive.
“Was that fun?” Robert asked after I got back in the truck.
“Yeah, loads.” I replied wryly.
“Can I do it?”
“NO!” I replied quickly, mentally kicking myself for being sarcastic. I should have known my daredevil son would have taken me seriously. “Never play in traffic; it’s very dangerous, and I don’t wanna lose you. I was just trying to be funny when I said getting out in traffic was fun.”
Soon, we arrived at the grocery store. Oh great, I pouted, glancing at my watch as we scampered across the parking lot. I’m running behind schedule; there’s no way I can get everything done in time. I still had two more stops, plus cook; clean the house, and steam clean the rug and furniture.
I plopped Robert into the shopping cart, and faster than a miner can spit, we zipped up and down the aisles. Then we encountered IT. . .every harried shopper’s worst nightmare. . .the unattended cart in the middle of the aisle. “Mama will just move this and we’ll be on our way,” I told my son as I gave the cart a push. It didn’t go the way I wanted, and instead rammed a display of Q-tips, causing them to rain down on my head and scatter everywhere.
The people in the aisle stared at me, some hiding smiles behind their hands as I stared at them. Either I can be indignant, or I can play this off as humor. “Why does this always happen to me?” I asked jovially. Everyone chuckled with me.
“Don’t worry honey,” an older woman said patting me on the back. “It happened to a store employee just a few minutes ago.”
“My next trick will be getting out of the store unscathed,” I joked as I picked up the Q-tips.
Our next stop was the Dollar Tree, where I planned to get a few table runners. I saw them a few days earlier; they were very ornate, polyester, and a dollar. I couldn’t beat that deal with a stick. Evidently, other people thought the same thing. When we walked in, there were no shopping carts.
Standing near the door, I held a wriggling Robert, waiting for someone to return a cart. An older woman appeared by my side evidently waiting for a cart too, but I thought nothing of it. As a shopper was returning the basket, the lady stepped in front of me and yanked the cart away. “I need it more,” she told us.
Fighting the urge to “deck her halls,” but not with “boughs of holly,” I excused her rudeness by calling, “I hope you find what you need; don’t worry about me, I’ll just stand here and wait for another cart.” A sympathetic customer hastily unloaded their purchases on the counter, and smiling, wheeled the cart over to me. There were only five runners left, the amount I needed; I felt a sense of triumph as I was checking out and heard the rude woman tell ask a clerk if there were any more runners left.
Our last stop was Wal-Mart. Robert eagerly climbed into one of the electric kiddy carts as I paid the dollar. He sang to the Barney tunes as we started shopping, then, as suddenly as it began, the cart stopped. Once it stops there’s no way you can push it, the wheel lock up. Luckily, an employee saw it stall. “Go tell them at customer service, and I’ll wheel this out to the lobby for you,” he said.
I extracted a screaming, red-faced Robert from the cart, and half dragged/ half walked him to customer service.
“Can you help me?” I asked a gum- popping, fingernail painting, employee at the desk.
“I guess,” she sighed, blowing on her nails.
“Look lady,” I said, plopping Robert on the counter. “I’ve had a very stressful day, and I could probably bite steel nails right now. I’m SO SORRY I’m bothering you, but I was told to come up here and tell you my kiddy cart broke down.
“And what do you want me to do?” she retorted.
“Was it CART 6?” another desk employee asked me.
“That’s the same cart that broke down on me last night,” the second employee said.
“And, again, what am I supposed to do about it?” the first employee asked.
“Give her the dollar back,” her co-worker replied coldly. “I’m so sorry madam,” the co-worker told me.
Grudgingly, the first employee handed me a dollar from the register. Robert was forced to ride in a regular cart, which he hated and didn’t mind telling me.
Oh well, lately most of the shopping trips went smoothly; I guess I was due for drama.