Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

So yesterday was Thanksgiving.  The kids were out of school all week, so I asked them to clean out their closets, which was, in a twisted sort of way, meant to make them grateful for what they have.  And it worked, because they got rid of a few things, some of which had LONG overstayed their welcome, and told me that now all the stuff they have in their closets is stuff they love.  This makes me happy, and it makes them happy, and now I feel like the things I'm getting them for Christmas will have places to live.

On Wednesday Oz brought them up to see Mama at work in the office, so I took them around a little bit and then they hung out in the waiting room until it was time to go home.  (Work is good, still circus-ish, but next week we're training one more new person and then we should be actually fully staffed, and that is a wonderful feeling.  I won't be in the main office on Monday because the girl at the satellite office had a family emergency and is dealing with that, so I'm covering for her, but it should be an easy day.  I digress.)  Then Oz and I changed clothes, took the kids over to my brothers-in-law's (how on EARTH does one make that plural possessive??  Because two of them live there, and they are my brothers-in-law, but should it be brothers-in-laws'???  My brain just exploded) apartment where the kids spent the night with both of the guys as well as my mother-in-law.  It was a crowded place, but they had a great evening/night, and Oz and I went for dinner and then met up with a friend and her new hubby down at a bar where we drank beer and ate sweet potato fries and played darts until my contacts were about to either fall out or adhere themselves to my corneas from sheer fatigue.

We got home safely, took showers, and crashed, but then Oz and I both got up around 5:30 to start the meat for Thanksgiving.  He took charge of the brisket on the grill - I had put on the dry rub on Tuesday evening, so it'd been soaking up the flavor for about 36 hours - and I handled the giant leg of pork that was going in the oven.  I used this recipe, and OH MY WORD it was the bomb dot com.  We threw the meat in their respective cooking places and went back to bed for another 45-50 minutes… and then we adjusted the heat and did it again.  Around 7:30 or so we both actually decided it was time to get up for good, so Oz started the coffee and we began the process of cleaning the house for our guests while letting the parade play in the background.  For the record, I never thought I'd prefer Matt Lauer and Al Roker as hosts, but they would've been preferable to the folks on CBS.  That was painful.

By 10:30 the house was mostly ready, which was good because my mom showed up about that time and I know I wouldn't have been able to do much cleaning after that... besides anything else, my mom never arrives without looking like she's moving in, and this time was no exception.  She had a box of fabric scraps for Boo, a box of needlework books and shirts for me to browse through, as well as a pie and the non-liquored-up version of something called Apple Pie Moonshine.  We added the booze shortly after she got here, and it is just as delicious as the web site promises.  Dangerous stuff.

My kids and in-laws arrived not too long after my mother, and from there on out, it was Party Time.  There were people cooking, people talking and laughing, and just everything Thanksgiving should've been.  One thing that was different for us this year was that I had sent out an open invitation via Facebook for anyone who needed/wanted a place to come and celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, and I had a couple of folks take me up on the offer.  I was so glad they came, and I hope - I think - they had a good time.  We all stuffed ourselves to the point of pure indigestion, I do know that!!

A few people left early, but most of the family and a few friends hung around into the early evening hours.  My mom got to play with a baby, and my kids were good with the older ones, so there were no incidents that I'm aware of.  My husband and his brothers wandered down to the fire pit for a while and had some bro time, and I just enjoyed talking with everyone and catching up.  It doesn't happen often enough.

In addition to all that, I scored a beautiful ring.  When my grandmother had moved into an assisted living facility a few years ago, she had handed me the ring that had belonged to her when she married my grandfather.  The stone was amazingly beautiful, but the setting was dated and far too large for my finger.  Oz and I had briefly discussed getting the stone re-set at some point in the future, but that date had never been determined.  When he and I were struggling with our relationship issues earlier this year, I figured it would never happen.  Then he and I had our come-to-Jesus, honest-to-goodness, heart-to-heart about everything, and we turned a corner.  A month or so ago, I told him I would wear a ring again if he A) got the stone put into a ring that was MINE and mine alone and B) took me on a few successful dates and re-proposed to me.

Oz and I had discussed rings off and on since then - I'd sent him pictures I'd found on Pinterest or Etsy of custom rings that I liked, and he'd found a local jeweler who does custom work, and I'd even gone in and met the guy and had my ring size determined (5 1/4, in case you're curious, which is an odd size) - but I did NOT know that the ring design had been both finalized and finished, and I certainly did not know that Oz had picked it up.

So when he re-proposed to me in front of almost all his family and mine… well, what else could I do?

I said yes.



I'm thankful for my family (and friends!) each and every day.  They make my world wonderful.  Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, if you're in the USA, and if you live elsewhere in the world, that you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving and Other Stuff

Time for my somewhat-regular, useless, narcissistic information dump, I think.  I'm sitting on the couch with a mug of lemon-honey tea next to me.  My neck is wrapped in a heated rice bag.  These things are 'necessary' because I have both a sore throat and a sore neck.  Note to husband: I need a new pillow for the bed.  I seem to have killed this one, and I suspect that is the cause of my sore neck.  The sore throat I'm chalking up to a combination of hormones and winter.

Work is good.  I really feel like I'm part of the team now, and I've been handed a couple of small but important extra responsibilities.  I am pleased.  Today was a completely exhausting day, the kind of nonstop day we haven't had for several weeks, and I'm proud to say that while we were all thoroughly worn out by the end of it, we made it through intact.  Somehow it all got done… and done well, I think.  We'll see.

We had our office Thanksgiving lunch today.  I brought pear pie.  I hadn't made it in quite a while, and I'm proud to say it was delicious.  Or so I've been told.  I don't want to brag.  I did enjoy eating a slice of it myself, but my opinion is biased, so I'd prefer to go off of the thoughts of others.  I'll make another one soon for a coworker who specifically requested one and even offered to pay for it.  Yes, I will be the office pie maker.  I am okay with this.

Thanksgiving here at the house next week should be fun.  In addition to my mom and sister and my in-laws, we've invited some friends over as well, ones who don't have any family local or who don't have a place to crash where they can be surrounded by folks they know.  I'm going to fix a fresh ham (need to get that picked up ASAP) and a brisket and let everyone else bring sides or desserts.  I may also let the kids make some cookies or brownies.  We'll see.

We had our first snow here over the weekend.  It wasn't much - a little less than an inch, I'd say - but it was the first real snow we've had in a while and certainly the first *November* snow I can remember in even longer.  It didn't mess up the roads, either, so that was a major bonus.  A family friend of Oz's is visiting from Sydney this week, so he came for lunch. Oz fixed chili, and I made cornbread muffins.  Everyone went back for seconds.  'Tis the season for much eating!

Tomorrow is Boo's violin recital, and next week the kids are out of school.  Oz is going to work from home and I'm hopeful that he'll be able to bring them to the office one day to see Mama in her new environment.  Then they have three weeks of school and then it's Christmas break.  I need to work something out for childcare for those two weeks, I guess, since I don't exactly have time off and won't be able to get it at this point, anyway… between a coworker who took the week of Christmas off as part of her hiring terms and covering for a satellite office the week of New Year's, it won't happen.

I've started ordering Christmas gifts for the kiddos (and Oz) and stashing them away.  Hard to believe that'll be here in a little more than a month.  Nobody's getting anything big or expensive this year.  Nobody has asked; nobody shall receive.  It's just working like that this time around.

And on that bombshell, I need to go do dishes, and then I'm going to go wash my nasty hair, reheat this rice bag, and read in pajama pants until I fall asleep.  Night!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Purging & Productivity

I did not intend to be productive this weekend.  In fact, when I woke up on Saturday morning, it was with the intention of staying in bed for the entire day because I lacked both the motivation and the energy to move.  I had been sliding up and down (mostly down) the depression scale for more than a week, and it seemed that it had gotten the better of me again, to the point where I could no longer move.

However, spending the morning in bed may have been exactly what the doctor ordered.

I emerged about noon.  And then I got busy.  Very, very busy.  I made cinnamon rolls and fish & chips.  I made a menu for the week, devised a grocery list and went to the store with Doodlebug (and even stocked up on stuff for a few extra meals in case the weather turns sour later this week… having a few extra meals on hand is not a bad idea this time of year).  I cleaned a few things, tidied up some others, and generally put things in order.  Before the kids went to bed, we played a couple of family games of Uno, and after they went to bed, I spent quite a while discussing tattoo designs with Oz.  I hit the sack late, but it felt good.  *I* felt good.

The productivity continued today.  I had promised the kids I would spend some time with them, and despite Doodlebug's protests that he wanted to do something indoors (i.e. laser tag), I told them that this was going to be one of the last beautiful fall days and that I would only agree to an outdoor activity.  So they put on their skates, and Oz and I walked behind them as they skated down one of the trails of a major park system.  It was a beautiful 2-mile adventure.

We got home, and I tidied up some more and had the kids start cleaning out the game room.  This had needed to be done for a long, long time, but today I found the motivation to figure out what furniture needs to go where and how it all needs to work together.  They got everything cleaned out in a little more than an hour and a half, and Oz helped get rid of some extra furniture.  Then we moved the computer and desk from the guest room into the game room.  Eventually we'll move the chaise lounge and ottoman from the game room into the guest room and get a couch for the game room, but that hasn't happened yet.  I ordered a lamp for the guest room as well, and I'm going to have Oz hang a painting in there.  I need to get a new trash can for that room as well, but one thing at a time.

In the meantime, I started some Guinness beef stew for dinner (it's getting close to being done as I type this) and cleaned out the desk drawer.  I also ordered a few Christmas gifts for the munchkins and started officially planning the giant Thanksgiving that we're going to host here this year.

Next weekend I intend to clean out the attic while the kids clean out their bedrooms.  They'll hate me, but if it can get done before the holidays, I'll be a very happy camper.

I may clean out the bathroom cabinets tonight.  That needs to happen, too, and I figure I should get it done while I have the energy!

Because tomorrow, it's back to work.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Christmas Plans

It's time for my annual Grinchy post about Christmas.  I love Halloween.  I can tolerate Thanksgiving.  But I loathe Christmas.

OK, that's not quite correct.  I love Christmas with my husband and kiddos.  I love making it magical for the kids, even though they don't technically believe in Santa any more, and I enjoy getting them gifts and seeing their faces on Christmas Day.

What I loathe is the level of expectation.  It starts in September.  SEPTEMBER, for Pete's sake, before I've even begun to think about my son's birthday or Halloween or Thanksgiving or any of the stuff that has to happen before the blessed holiday is upon us.  It varies from year to year as to who the person is, but someone inevitably mentions Christmas in September… and usually throws in an expectation along with it.  "You'll be at my house this year, right?" "Are you doing X again this year?" "What are your plans for Christmas?"

I hate it.

And it only ramps up from there.

By the time December, let alone Christmas itself, rolls around, I'm exhausted.  It's all I can do to keep up with the kids and their holiday stuff - which is the stuff I *want* to do - let alone manage all the stuff that I'm supposed to do.

And every year, I wind up loathing Christmas.  It has taken on a year-round aspect at this point.

I know some people love the holiday.  I wish I could be one of them.  But I am not.

So.

Because this year has been a year of many revelations and changes for me and I am finally making me a priority, I am going to do things differently.  The following changes are now in effect:

1.  I will NOT be going anywhere on Christmas Day.  My children have already requested to stay home; my son wants to plan a menu and cook Christmas dinner for us.  I want to let him do this.  So I will be staying home on Christmas Day.

2.  I do not intend to purchase gifts for anyone over the age of 12.  If you are old enough to have your own income, expect either A) nothing or B) a gift card.  My sister and I have already cleared this with each other, and I am hoping to follow suit with both my parents at some point soon.  It's quite freeing to not have to worry about so many bills and wonder whether or not you've purchased the perfect gift for somewhere between 12 and 20 people, not including anyone who lives in this house.

3.  I do not want any gifts myself (again, unless you live in this house, and that's only because I can't really stop them).  I have what I need.  I do not want extra stuff.  Just send me a card to know that I'm thought of.  I enjoy those!

If I'm perfectly honest, I'd love to give up celebrating Christmas altogether and just celebrate Yule/the solstice.  I'll conform to the societal norms for form's sake, mostly because my mom, dad, and some of my in-laws are strong Christians (and I live in a town that threw such a huge fit over having a 'holiday' parade that for several years they had two parades just so the people who wanted a 'Christmas' parade would be happy), but I'd be perfectly content to follow my own pagan path and celebrate my way.

Maybe next year.

Because I really don't want to hate Christmas.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Surprises

Today was a day of surprises.

Boo's school put on on a giant Veteran's Day program today.  They've been practicing for weeks, and Boo was quite upset that neither Oz nor I thought we would be able to come, especially since there were two performances - one at 10 in the morning, specifically geared toward veterans, with a free luncheon for veterans afterward; one at 1:45 in the afternoon for family members of the students.  We told her we would love for her to sing the songs for us afterward, but of course that's never the same as being there when your girl wants you… and she definitely wanted us there.

On Wednesday, however, upon returning to the main office from the satellite location I'd covered on Monday and Tuesday, I discovered that all but one of the doctors was going to be out this afternoon.  There were a grand total of eight patients slated between the hours of 11:30 and 5 p.m., and two of those were just coming in to pick up orthopedic hardware or have a cast change.  The rest of the doctors were going to be out, in surgery, or were going to a continuing-ed seminar about workers' compensation.

On Thursday I learned that the remaining doctor had bailed and rescheduled his patients and also that one of my coworkers, one of the ones who comes in at 6:30 a.m., was going to be working the seminar for the day and so wouldn't be in.

Since I already had an hour of overtime for the week, that meant if I came in at 6:30… and didn't take a lunch… I could leave at 1:30… and still have my 40 hours for the week… and could surprise my girl.

I worked it out with the rest of my team, and that is exactly what I did.

To make it even better, Oz's afternoon was quiet, and so he was able to attend the program as well.  When I walked into the gym, I spotted her facing away from me.  She was standing on some risers waiting for the program to start.  The look on her face when I tugged on her belt loop was priceless.  If she hadn't been so conscious of her height and weight being enough to topple me, I think she would have jumped straight down into my arms.  She performed beautifully during the program, and when we were walking back to her classroom afterward, I was very pleased to see that she is one of two students in her grade who has mastered multiplication and division and has moved on to fractions.

Good surprise(s).

-----

After the program, I checked Boo out from her classroom and brought her home.  On the way, we discussed the fact that we would beat Doodlebug home, and I asked if she wanted to surprise/scare him since he wouldn't expect her to be there.  She loved the idea.  He scares her on a weekly basis, if not more often, and so I thought a taste of his own medicine might do the boy some good.

He came home and promptly scared the crap out of himself when he saw me parked on the couch.  Highstrung already.  He ran to the bathroom and took care of his school stuff and then decided he would try to negotiate for electronics by volunteering to do *HALF* of his chores.  Bless his ever-loving soul, he tried, but this mama ain't no fool.  I told him no cigar - entitled turd monkeys did not earn electronics by doing HALF their chores.  I reminded him, half listening to his protests in the meantime, that the rule has always been and shall remain that all chores must be done before rewards are given.

He did not like this.

He stormed upstairs.

The girl was waiting.

And she scared him.

And because he cannot for one instant control himself… he decked her.  Not once.  Not twice.

Thrice.

And then told me *I* was being unfair when I told him he had to write his sister an apology and clean her half of the game room.

"BUT SHE SCARED ME!!!"

"And how many times have you scared her over the years??"

"LOTS, BUT…"

"No.  How many times has she hit you after you scared her??"

"None.  BUT…!!!!!!"

"No!  No buts!!!  You. Hit. Your. Sister.  Not once, but three frikkin' times!  You need to apologize to her, IN WRITING because you're currently not allowed to talk to her, and then you need to GET YOUR CHORES DONE."

*stomp stomp stomp*

"And don't even THINK about asking for electronics sometime in the foreseeable future!!!"

Bad surprise.

-----

Welcome to the weekend from the Land of Ups and Downs.  Pass the tequila.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Whew!

Today is over, and that is a very, very good thing.  After last week, I kinda needed something to go right.  Last week saw me wind up in the ER with a massive kidney infection, two separate couples on the verge of breaking up (one is making positive progress now; the other is still struggling), spent two days cramming my head full of information to be used today, and, of course, the holiday, among other stuff.

So by Saturday night, I wound up in a puddle on the floor, bawling and saying I couldn't keep going on.  There's only so much emotion one person can bottle up before it hits like a Mack truck.

Part of my stress was work today.  I've been on the job for two months… and today and tomorrow I am running a satellite office for the office administrator who is taking a long weekend trip to visit some family.

No pressure or anything.

Last Tuesday was my first day out there.  I spent the morning going over bunches and bunches of data entry and making sure I knew what Ts to cross and Is to dot (and getting permissions changed via the IT department so I could cross said Ts and dot said Is in the first place).  In the afternoon, the doctor showed up and saw patients in the clinic.  It was hectic.

On Thursday I went out again and learned even more.  I left feeling like I knew just enough to be dangerous but not enough to function.

Today I was in the hot seat.

Thankfully it was a quiet day in the clinic.  The schedule wasn't jam-packed on either side (there are two sides/departments to this clinic, and they're both very, very different), and I was able to keep mostly caught up.

Tomorrow I'm back out there again.  I'll have a very busy afternoon, but the morning should be quiet.  I'm going to see if I can get as much done as I can.  I'm just glad I didn't screw everything up!