Monday, December 19, 2011

And just when you think you've seen every bit of crazy Mary Poppins has in her bag, she pulls out a coat rack.

Yesterday, my MIL called.  We were having a rather pleasant conversation, and I casually mentioned to her that I would be stopping, on the way to her house tomorrow (which is now today), at the mall to pick up something for our neighbor as a favor.  We'd be leaving early, and this would not infringe on the time we were to be visiting for my husband's birthday/Christmas gift exchange.  Immediately my MIL got upset and told me "This isn't just his birthday, you know.  It's our Christmas celebration, and I have gifts for everyone.  I really want you to be there!"  As I continued to try to explain to her that we would all be there, she kept acting like it was some tragedy.  I know, as well as anyone else who knows anything about my MIL and I, that she does not like me that much, and so it was odd she was acting like it was so terrible that I should have a 30 minute errand to run.  Now, I also should point out, she will be coming to see us on Christmas Eve, so this is not her only Christmas celebration with us.  Now, for the rest of the story...

After 12 years, I am used to a level of strangeness.  I can predict, with impressive accuracy, when she is about to pull a stunt.  I could smell it coming, but I was a little off on what I thought was about to go down.  I thought maybe she'd have a Santa come to the house, like I do for our party.  I wasn't convinced of that, because I don't think even she is brave enough to go that far.  That part I was right about, at least for now. 

When it was time to open gifts, she had gotten something for each of us. I was taking pictures and videos (as any great paparazzi mom would do), and so I held my package to the side.  I watched as everyone opened their gifts.  One by one my husband, brother in law, and sister in law opened their gifts.  She had made everyone a personalized, photo calendar.  She pointed out that "all of the important dates are marked, too!"  I watched everyone ooooh and aaaaah over their calendars, and the pictures.  How nice of her to do this for everyone!  Everyone, but me.  I opened my package, and inside was a Farmer's Almanac magazine.  You did not read that incorrectly.  It was the magazine that they sell in the check out lines at the stores.  My "what am I looking at here?!" face was still in all of it's glory, when she looked at me and said "I felt bad, and I just had to get you something!"  Like she was planning on getting me nothing, but at the last minute grabbed something to make herself feel good just simply knowing she gave me something.  But wait, it gets better!!!  (Hard to believe that, I know!)

When we got home, for some reason, the "All of the important dates are marked!" popped into my head.  I checked July, and, sure enough, there was her boyfriend's birthday.  I looked at march, there was my sister-in-laws birthday... So I flipped to my birthday.  Nada.  Apparently nothing important happened that day.  Everyone else had their bday noted.  My sister-in-law, who was also floored by the Farmer's Almanac, hunted through the calendar and eventually found some other day marked as my birthday.  I understand.  In the 12 years I've been around, it could be hard to figure out if my birthday moves around or not.  And, even though I just explained to her, a few weeks ago, that we still would not be attending Thanksgiving because it's so close to my birthday, sometimes is on my birthday  (and therefore we celebrate my bday with my side of the family on turkey day), she decided to put me in a corner in September instead. 

I figured out that she did not want me to run my errand and risk me not being there to see the thoughtful gifts that she spent her time on for everyone but me... and that she couldn't even be bothered to get my birthday right on those calendars. 

Maybe it seems like I'm being unfair, but after 12 years of this, I've earned the right to complain about it.  Whether it's been to slip in an attack on my weight... "Here, you can have the low carb mashed potatoes *while everyone else got regular ones*, or "I was at BJs and saw these pants for you!" and handing me pants clearly way too large for me... or letting me cook a holiday meal for her, and then one hour in advance call to say she wasn't coming because she wanted to go out to campaign for a political election.  Or, after I had been cooking for several hours to prepare a birthday meal and dessert for her boyfriend, calling to cancel because her COUSIN didn't feel well... who we found outside in the sweltering heat, walking his dog and smoking a cigarette when we stopped by her house to deliver the meal instead.  It's years of this complete nonsense that had lead to me no longer "suffer in silence", which, you can imagine, was hard for me to do in the first place!

So, there you have it.  I couldn't make this stuff up.  I just don't have that big of a bag when it comes to my own brand of crazy.  But, I will hand her this, she made that Home Depot gift card look pretty freaking awesome and like a gift with way more effort and thought than I was giving it credit for, originally.  So there you have it. I didn't just wake up one morning with "Bitch Syndrome" or something, it took years to make me this cynical and cold when it comes to my relationship with that woman.  I stopped caring so much about if my telling people what actually goes on would hurt her feelings when I realized she was, quite obviously, absolutely never considering my feelings.

I think I'll be sending random birthday cards to her and her boyfriend, whenever I feel like it. I mean I don't have a calendar telling me the actual date of their birthdays, and I can't be bothered to keep track of when they are each and every year, so this seems practical.  It at least seems like I'll be extending the same courtesy to her that she extends to me.  My sis says, and rightfully so, to get my MIL nothing.  I pointed out that there are way worse things than nothing.  Giving a waitress a penny is worse than leaving no tip.  If you leave no tip, the reason could be you forgot, but if you give that penny, it's a hostile penny.  You made the clear choice to give them something virtually worthless to them, and representative of your displeasure.  That Farmer's Almanac is my penny tip.  She clearly had chosen to give me nothing, but got me a token at the last minute to ease her guilty feelings associated with that.  She didn't forget, she just purposely excluded me, and so obviously... in more ways than one. 

You cannot make this shit up.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pictures with Santa, brought to you by Robitussin Peak Cold, and someone's getting hit in the face.

I know I've been missing.  Our entire family came down with some nasty respiratory virus that's been going around.  I'm just now starting to get better.  This is NOT the time of year to be out of commission.  To make a long story short, I've been making up for the past several days of being held back due to illness and just crammed about 4 or 5 days of work into one day.  I wanted to get the boys to the mall for the traditional Santa picture, and for my oldest son to get to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas.

Last year, we took the boys on a Saturday to see Santa.  It was horrible.  The line was horrendous.  The baby was asleep (so I chose not to wake him, so no picture for him), and... while waiting in line, my son (who was waiting patiently and on his best behavior), had the monster child standing in front of him turn around and snarl at him and slap him in the face!  In front of Santa!  That is pretty gutsy.  My husband told the kid "Um, do not hit my son in the face.", and the brat's mother turned around, glared at us, and never once apologized for her child's terrible behavior.  She did, however, treat us like we had some nerve to stand there and get slapped like that.  I know, we are terrible people to just stand there like that.

Needless to say, I was not overly excited for the hoo ha you have to go through to get those cute Santa shots.  Who wants to stand in line with a bunch of screaming kids, then plop their kids in some stranger in a stinky synthetic beard's lap that some kid probably already peed in, and all in their nice Christmas outfits... oh and risk getting beat up in line?  Ho ho ho!  However, I played my cards right this year!  I gave the boys an early lunch, dressed 'em up, and off we went.  We were the only ones in line.  The non-existant wait was face-slap-free, and the boys got to spend extra time with Santa since no one was behind us, either.  The boys loved it, and we got a cute picture.  The baby didn't smile, but he didn't cry.  He just looked apathetic.  haha  He's such a serious thinker, that one. 

Upon getting home, my littlest was ready for his nap.  I got to work cleaning the house for our company tomorrow.  Almost as soon as my kiddo woke up from his nap, my oldest gave him some sort of hug then went to pull him to the ground with him, and instead slammed him head first into the corner of our coffee table, narrowly missing gouging his eye out.  Like 1/4 inch different, and the baby would not be seeing out that eye anymore.  Luckily, the eye was spared... but he has a huge shiner now for the rest of the season's holiday pictures. 

The holidays are never short on drama, are they?!  I am pretty caught up now, thanks to a marathon day of grocery shopping, gift shopping, Santa sitting, complete house cleaning, laundry doing, cookie mailing, and boo boo fixing.  Now, tomorrow, drive my son to and from school, get someone from the airport, and attend a retirement/Christmas party.  We're gonna aim for no more illness or injury... hopefully we'll make it to 2012. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Shopping Past

I was going over Christmas list ideas for the kids with my Aunt today, and she brought up the incredulous idea of her husband shopping for Christmas (it was incredulous for both of us, as we instantly thought about what that would mean... if either of our husbands shopped for Christmas).  Talk about a nightmare before Christmas!  So, I must thank her for reminding me of the following Christmas shopping horror stories... or our very own ghosts of Christmas shopping past...

The first Christmas that my husband (then boyfriend) and I shared together, I had the privilege(?) of going with him as he did his Christmas shopping.  It was no lie when I told my Aunt that he had 2 go-to gifts back then... car cleaner, or a generic candle.  I watched as he picked up 3 bottles of Simple Green, and 3 generic cinnamon candles for the 6 people on his shopping list.  Yes, if you were a girl, you got the candle.  If you were a boy, you got the cleaner (for all your car cleaning needs, though I'm not sure what part of the car you use that on... I just know that was the intended use).  I didn't have to watch him give these gifts to his mom, step-dad, brother, sister-in-law, dad, and step-mother, and I was very happy for that.  I was also thrilled to discover that I got the obligatory "stuffed bear for your girlfriend" gift, instead of the first candle he spotted at Walmart and grabbed for every female in his family, or worse yet, the degreaser.

It was that very first Christmas, 12 Christmases ago, that I realized he did not approach gift giving the way I did.  Christmas shopping, for me, is an Olympic event, and I wanna bring home the gold!  He could care less where he places.  As I walk to my car, I hear our national anthem playing, and watch as the other shoppers watch in awe as they clap in slow motion.  As he walks to his car, he thinks he better get home quickly because Christmas Eve dinner is about to begin.  I go home, and wrap my gifts in color coordinated paper and bows with care.  He patches together whatever scraps of paper he can find, and uses an entire roll of tape to secure it together in some lumpy mass.  I wait with eager anticipation as the gift recipient opens their gift, and he often forgets to even give his gifts out.

One year he went out to Ollies, and tried to purchase Christmas gifts there.  He loves Ollies.  He would furnish his home with misprinted 3 legged sofas and tables on wheels if he could.  I had to have an intervention right then and there.  There was no way that I could allow him to purchase the factory second version of tickle-me-elmo that would spark and shout Russian nursery rhymes when you "press here" for his niece.  I told him Ollies was not for Christmas shopping.  Instead, he bought himself a $15 winter coat with a lion printed on it.  The buttons didn't match, it was unclear if it was supposed to be green or black, and the waist cinched in like a woman's coat would, but he loved it because it was cheap.

My sister-in-law told me it was very obvious when I started taking over the Christmas shopping for him.  The gifts were no longer confusing or awful.  They made sense, and were appropriate for each individual based on their personality, likes, and dislikes.

The curse of the terrible gifts did resurface one year, after we were married.  He decided he knew what I would like for Christmas, and he wasn't going to use a list for ideas.  He hated just getting people what they wished for.  So, he went out on his own.  That year I got a bottle of vitamins and a gift card for target.  He gave his wife a GIFT CARD FOR TARGET.  I think that is actually slightly worse than the vitamins.  Super thoughtful.       Super.      Thoughtful.        Only he knows me so well?  Ugh.

I can, happily, report that these are, indeed, the ghosts of Christmas past.  Last year I asked him for one thing... just for him to make the holidays nice for our kiddos.  Be merry!  He did, still, get me gifts, and most of them were not on my list.  All of them were thoughtful, and reflected that he does, indeed, know who I am.  Apparently, even the grinchiest of scrooges can finally master the art of Christmas shopping.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fickle Fritter

The following just happened in my house, this evening:

Everyone is sick.  I have pain, pretty much everywhere, and everything is stuffy and swollen and stiff.  However, there are no sick days for a mom.  My husband is starting to get over his illness, so he ran out for milk and medicine today.  So, now you're all caught up!

Husband I brought home two fritters, and one of them is mine!

Me Ooooh!  Apple fritters!  Thank you!

So, I saved my fritter for after the kids went to bed.  That way, I could sit in peace and quiet and enjoy my fritter while watching my Thursday night TV.

We took the kids up for bath, stories, and bed.  Then, I, quite literally, came skipping down the stairs, announcing to my husband:

I'll be right there!  I'm just gonna grab my fritter and a drink, and I'll be right in.  I've been saving it all day!

I walked over to the counter where the fritters were, and... there. were. no. fritters!!  The bag was gone!

Me Hey honey!  Where'd you put the fritters?  I thought the bag was next to the toaster oven.  Honey?  Honey?  Hey, hon?  *walk into the living room*  Honey, where are the fritters?

Him *silence followed by frantic typing on his laptop*

Me Dammit, honey, where are the fritters?  They better be here.  Where are they?

Him *will not even look at me*

Me YOU ATE MY FRITTER!!!  You tell me you got 2 fritters, and one is for you, so WHO got the other fritter?  I even thanked you for it?!  AND YOU ATE IT!  Did I not just say "I've been saving it all day?!"  

Him That just made this whole thing so much better.  It really set the stage for the big let down.  I didn't know you wanted it.

Me Why did you tell me you got them, and then why did I say thanks, if one wasn't for me?!  Here I thought you were doing something nice for me, and YOU ATE IT!  Like "Honey, I see how you have been working so hard, and you're really feeling sick, so I wanted to cheer you up with a nice treat.  Oh, but I'm gonna EAT it before you even get the chance to get to it!"  You ate my fritter.  What kind of person does that?!

Leave it to him to do something nice for me, and then eat the evidence.  I foresee a lot of "Remember when you ate my fritter?" moments coming in the future. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cloudy with a chance of... lies... it's all lies! (Brought to you by your local supermarket.)

I am pretty sure the weathermen (weatherpeople?) are sleeping with the supermarkets.  Stick with me... So for days I've been hearing talk about all this snow we were to get this week, yet each time I checked the weather on my iPhone, xnay on the nowsay.  Sure enough, however, we get a "winter weather advisory" as of yesterday, telling us that in the part of the state we are in, we will get 2-4 inches of snow.  It will be very heavy snow, and it could bring down power lines and tree branches!  The snow will start by 7pm, and be heaviest at midnight.  It will be super hard to see while driving, and is sure to cause disasters.  Run out now and grab your bread, milk, and TP or you'll probably starve and run out of butt napkins.  Then, when you die and the emergency crews are finally called to your house (long after the cats have eaten half your face and that dead body smell is strong enough that it's never coming out of the upholstery), they will notice that you didn't follow the weather report and make haste to the nearest supermarket to duke it out over the last roll of Charmin. 

Then tonight, like 5 minutes ago, I get the email saying "Oh shit, sorry about that.  Just kidding."  Winter weather advisory cancelled.  Then it dawns on me... there must be a reason the national weather report didn't mention the snow once, but the local news was all over it.  I do believe we are in the midst of some disaster capitalism!  (If you do not know, understand, and have the ability to sniff out disaster capitalism, do yourself a favor and read "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein.  You'll feel like a total idiot, like you were sleeping through the easiest class in school, and failing miserably.)  Anywho... there is only one conclusion... the local tv weatherpersons must be in some illicit affair with local grocery stores around here.  The grocery-persons were probably all "Well... I don't know if I can meet up with you tonight.  I'm really upset because we have so much bread, milk, and toilet paper, and I do not know what we could possibly do about it.  It's such a problem."  And weather-persons were all "Hey baby, I can take care of your problem.... can we say 'Winter Weather Advisory'?  Then I'll cancel it right around the time everyone is going to bed, and has already been out to get their emergency bunker supplies."

This is the only explanation for what happened today.  The numerous emails I got, assuring me we were getting enough evil snow to cause disaster, just to find out we were punked at the last minute?  They aren't even trying to hide their sordid affair. 

Now, I will add in one small disclaimer here at the bottom of the post:  I'm pretty freakin sick.  I have no Nyquil or anything else awesome to fight off my symptoms overnight, and to help me sleep.  So, I have decided that a little rum would probably be in my best interest. But, that does not mean I'm not right about this!  It does seem awfully fishy....

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Maiden Voyage

After hours of putting together my new Nordic Track elliptical machine, my husband told me she was ready to run.  We had placed it so I could see the TV, if I liked, and the thing is iphone/ipod friendly, so I could choose to plug in my own mp3s.  I was probably most excited about that.  I'm not very graceful or sturdy, for that matter.  This leads to problems with my ear bud wires when working out.  I always manage to get the wires caught on something, and usually that something is a part of my own body.  Occasionally that part is a moving part of the machine I'm on.  It's never pretty.  So, I thought the mp3 player compatibility was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I was right, to an extent.  It turns out, the even better thing was being able to watch whatever I wanted on the big screen TV, and WITH sound.  Not for one precious moment did I have to suffer through Fox News or any soaps. I listened to my music, watched a bit of this weeks Community (that I had already seen... c'mon people, watch the show!  It's smart and funny.  One of the best.), and then a Colbert (I had not yet seen).  It was Heaven. 

After more than 2 years without setting foot on an elliptical, I was so proud to get in a full work out.  I remember years ago, when I first started going to a gym, how I could barely stay on an elliptical for 3 minutes.  Exercise was so foreign to me, and it sucked so bad.  I just wanted to topple over the skinny girls on their machines, tearin it up, looking awesome and perfect.  Eventually, I was the little girl on the machine, and then I didn't mind the other tiny girls so much.  Funny how that works.  Anyway, I still hated working out in front of other people.  I only went in for the elliptical, did my thing, and left.  I HATED when the guy who worked their would come chit chat with me.  And you all know how much I love chit chat, but not while I'm sweaty and gross and beet red.  Keep your distance!  I'm busy over here, and I'm pretty sure I'm actually melting like the wicked witch. 

Thank you, Sears, for having a great Black Friday sale!  My husband woke at 4:00 AM to get there at 4:30 and placed his order to bring the gym (or really the only part I loved about the gym) to me.  So, now I have everything I loved about it, and nothing I hated.  I have MY music, MY shows, no one watching me, no set gym hours, and I can wear whatever I want.  Then, in the end, I just walk upstairs and go straight to my private shower.  And that brings me to this moment.  I have all the lovely endorphins you get from exercising, making me feel good, and I get to relax and write my blog instead of drive home in the cold, dark night. 

I need to mention that my husband is currently sick with, what appears to be, a nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection, yet he still wanted to put this together for me.  On top of that, he told me I was Superwoman.  It was nice, that even in a moment where it's totally acceptable to be self-absorbed due to illness, he recognized how much I bust my butt around here.  Don't worry, I helped put it together, and while I wasn't doing that I was cleaning and organizing the basement.  Then, after it was finished, I thanked him profusely.  (I had previously suggested we skip putting it together, and take a nap instead, but he turned that down.  Our oldest was at the movies with my Mom, and the youngest was sleeping, but he wanted to get that finished for me.  Super sweet.)  He wins the day!

I should have asked him for world peace, this Christmas.  I am pretty sure he would've made that happen, too. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mother Of The Year strikes again, but now she's been working out (well, almost, but let me explain...)

This year I thought it would be great to get a remote control for our Christmas tree.  It's not that it's hard to push the button to turn it on and off, it's just I don't like to bring any more attention to touching the tree in front of the baby than is absolutely necessary (yes, we have started the "Don't touch the tree!" track on repeat for the next month or so.)  Pretty soon I had thought of other wonderfully exciting uses for this remote controlled Christmas tree.  *cue the evil laughter*

My four year old walked downstairs to see the tree we put up the night before.  He was so happy to see it, and lost his mind when *poof* it lit up like magic before his very eyes....

Me Wow!  See, Santa is watching!  He knew you woke up and came down to see the tree, so he lit it for you!

Son Mommy, it's magic!

So my one little, innocently fun use of the remote made my son so happy, and he was completely sucked into all the holiday magic.  He bought it, full on, no questions.  That's when my wheels started turning and the smell of smoke was noticeable all around me... I could use this to my advantage... he believed it!  He now really has proof Santa is watching him... let's see how far we can take this, shall we?

Later that day, my son was misbehaving (apparently, he has been possessed by some demon for the past 3 days, perhaps it's something he caught at school...), so *poof*, off went the tree.

Son Oh no!  Mommy!

Me Uh oh.  Santa saw you push your brother.  He's mad now.  He turned off your tree!  

Son No!  You need to call him and tell him I'm good now.  Tell him it was a mistake, and I'm really a good boy.

Me Well, you better get to time out, so he knows you mean business!

It's been 3 days, and he's still buying this charade.  Thank goodness that remote is pocket sized.  I just stick it in my pocket, and I can feel the buttons through the fabric and voila!  Tree on, tree off!

We have a family tradition of sending out photo cards for Christmas.  The first year was a pretty picture.  The next year, my son had a mohawk and a family member said we could NOT have that in the picture... so, of course, I took that as a challenge, and we all wore lumberjack hats in our nice holiday clothes with little happy, formal smiles on our faces.  Then, the next year it was a picture of us all in matching jammies, and my husband and I were opening two big presents.  Popping out of the presents were our children.  So, this year, we had to get creative again.  Something we haven't seen before... I think we accomplished it.  However, it may require a "parental advisory" sticker for families with young children.  No worries, it's not obscene... it's just parents should have the first look-see so they don't get a surprise reaction from their kids and go "WTF?!" and grab the card.  But, for my family who sent the "'Happy Holidays!' is how you declare war on Christmas!" emails... at least the card says "Merry Christmas!"  :)  If I could include audio in this seamlessly, you'd hear me snickering right now.  Anywho, they are on order and will be shipped out to those of you on our Christmas card list as soon as we get them.  I will be printing up the address labels tomorrow to speed things along.  Possibly offending the masses cannot be delayed.

I'll wrap up this long, Christmassy post with the good news that the elliptical machine arrived!  I had spent all day grocery shopping, cooking and serving 3 meals, doing 4 loads of laundry, logging 9 hours of volunteer work, scrubbing a stain out of the carpet, changing the kids' bed clothes, and cleaning the living room and play room, so I was very sore.  Those 9 hours of volunteer time were spent sitting cross-legged on the wood floor, hunched over a paper cutter.  My back and legs felt so painful and stuck in that position by the time I was done.  I just wanted a hot shower, muscle relaxer, tylenol, and to lay down... but the elliptical machine is a "team lift!" item.  So, I tried to help my husband get it down to our basement.  Ha.  I nearly dropped it on him no less than 4 times.  Just trying to figure out what to hold onto that was sturdy enough to carry it by took a long time.  It was just the motor part and the legs for the foot rest thingies (yeah, they probably have a real name), but that is the heaviest part and has little to safely grab on to.  After all that, I felt that was enough working out for this year, and we could just take it back.  A thoughtful friend of mine, thanks T, suggested it be my new clothes drying rack.  How resourceful!  Alas, taking it back would require taking it back up the stairs, so I guess I'll keep it for when I'm ready to move any parts of my body again.  (Maybe 5 muscle relaxers from now...)