Sunday, December 28, 2008

Taking the easy way out...

I have been planning on writing a post-Christmas update but every time I sit down to type it out I fall asleep. Is it carbon monoxide from the constantly running heater? Post holiday narcolepsy? Too much rum? Nah.. just Gina being a lazy ass. Anyway, I'm going to take the easy way out and simply answer a few questions and comments and call it a post.

Jason at The Jason Show asks: So what happened? Did you ever make your way out to finish shopping? Was Christmas saved?

We were essentially snowed in for about six days although I did escape between storms to do some shopping. On Dec. 23rd we thought the storm was over and the kids and I unburied the truck (there was at least a foot of snow topped with a half inch of ice on it) and headed out to Target. It was a harrowing experience. The roads were partially clear but the parking lots were treacherous. We managed to buy presents and the Christmas roast. The liquor store, however, was virtually impossible to approach. In Washington you can't buy hard liquor in the grocery store, you have to go to the state run store. At a ratio of approx. 1 store to 30,000 citizens you can imagine what the lines looked like. I was forced to ration my rum... Christmas Eve brought us another storm and five more inches of snow but I had to go out to pick up my eldest.. thank heaven for four wheel drive.. and bring him home for Christmas. So, yes, Christmas was saved!

Vallen at Queenly Things offered her help: "Have a cozy holiday - and let me know. I can always ship in more rum - the USPS supposedly can get through any weather." Alas... this was the year we learned that the USPS does not deliver through any weather. Although they are better than the garbage service. The mail was missing for several days but the garbage truck missed two pick ups.. that's 15 days without garbage service! When that noisy truck finally came slipping and sliding down my street I was so excited.

And finally Debbie at ETC.,ETC.,ETC., asks:

*Did the rum last? Yes, but I was forced to drink an occasional Washington state approved Irish Cream "wine beverage" instead of the demon rum.
*How long did it snow? Ten days, then it started raining... and raining... now my back yard is a giant puddle with a few icebergs.
*Who was sent out to get more provisions? Since I am the only licensed driver in our house who is currently capable of operating a motor vehicle.. that would be me!
*Did you all survive? We did.
*Who was the winner of the games? I think we would have to declare Zane the big winner. On the night we played Monopoly a few of us begged him to just foreclose and end the misery.
*Did that oldest ever make it? This is our Christmas miracle story...

On the 23rd Ian got a phone call from the owner of a restaurant he had applied to. After many probing questions she asked if he could come in on the 26th for an interview. He agreed. Two hours later she called back and asked if he could come in on the 24th instead. A little bit later she called again and asked for his shirt size. The next morning he walked in and they handed him a shirt and asked if he could work until 3. (This restaurant is next door to a liquor store... so they were busy despite the terrible weather) So, Ian's best Christmas gift was a new job. I picked him up after work and he was happier than I have seen him in a while.

Christmas day was quiet and lazy for us. We were up early to unwrap presents and spent the afternoon watching children nap all over the living room. We've done almost nothing since then either. I've been slowly sliding into post holiday doldrums but that ends today. My Mom and Stepdad are arriving this evening so there are beds to change, floors to vacuum, laundry to hide, and cookies to bake. The holidays aren't over yet! (I really need to come up with a plan to escape the yawning black hole I keep seeing lurking at the end of this season though...)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spike the Eggnog

I know that in many parts of the country it isn't astounding to look out the front door and see a foot of snow. I spent five years in South Dakota, where a few feet of snow was considered a mild storm, and remember months and months of snow on the ground. I'm not a snow wimp. However, this is Washington and it rarely snows here. People don't know how to drive in snow, cities don't have enough plows to deal with day after day of falling white stuff. A foot of snow is crippling and we are inching toward a foot and a half.

There's still shopping to be done but if the weather reports are correct there is a good chance we won't be going anywhere soon. Tuesday may find me hiking the three miles to the grocery store to buy our Christmas dinner. It's okay though. We have electricity, food, games to play, and movies to watch.

... and the rum's not gone...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sometimes it's not easy...

On December first I made a commitment to enjoy this Christmas season. To focus on the positive and pay attention to the beauty around me during this month. To remember that Christmas isn't about gifts or expectations but about loving. However, sometimes the world makes it very hard to stay positive and the last few days have been a little harder than most.

When Bob's company announced upcoming lay-offs...

We prayed and then decorated the tree.

The tree is beautiful and I only had a teeny tiny melt-down when I used the pruner to trim the very top in order for the spire to fit... and accidentally cut the light wire in two.

When our oldest son's girlfriend called hysterical because they had been fighting... and when he screamed that he wasn't going to talk to his mother about anything because she doesn't care anyway and hasn't for years... and when he called back later and apologised but said he needs money... and when he called one more time to say he and the girlfriend were going to work things out but can they come over tonight and get money...

I prayed and cooked a nacho fiesta. Then we watched some really bad Christmas Cartoons.

And then when they didn't show up or call for the rest of the weekend...

I prayed some more and photographed a very exciting chess tournament.

Which ended with a wrestling match between Green Mrs. Claus and Red Santa... and two very giggly girls.

When worry about the future tried to shake me I grabbed a fluffy puppy... and prayed again.

And when I felt like I had reached my limit and just couldn't find anything positive and didn't want to pray anymore...

A huge group of complete strangers knocked on my door, sang me a song, handed me a plate of cookies, and invited me to visit their church.

Which I guess should remind me that God is listening... and unpredictable.

(I was too shocked to photograph the carolers and the cookies went really fast!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


by Anne Porter

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common

But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gingerbread Memories

When Zane was in fifth grade we had been homeschooling, with some help from the public school district, for a few years. It was an arrangement that my more experienced homeschooling and unschooling friends found too restrictive but I really needed the structure and reassurance. I chose the curriculum and the district supplied the textbooks, some enrichment classes, and teacher support. All they asked was that I agree to teach to the district standards and check in with an education coordinator for a review once a month. However, by December of the year Zane was in fifth grade things were changing. We had an arrangement... I wrote out a daily agenda with a detailed explaination of the work I wanted him to do. He would sit down for breakfast, quickly scan my carefully prepared list, and then tear through the work as fast as humanly possible with as little help from me as he could manage. I wasn't really teaching, most of the time I was just verifying that he learned what he was supposed to. Usually he was done by lunchtime and the rest of the day was spent goofing off. But, the one thing that would slow down and really concentrate on was history. He loved history and, in the fifth grade, California expects children to do a history unit on the California Missions. I saw an opportunity to do something more interesting than just flipping pages.

At the beginning of December I told our education coordinator that we were already halfway through the textbooks for the school year and we were going to take a month off to study missions. She was super supportive and we had an amazing month. Looking back on it I can say without a doubt it was my shining moment as a "teacher". We read about adobe construction, studied maps of California, learned how ocean currents effected the Spanish colonization, learned a little Spanish, talked about the Catholic church, read Island of the Blue Dolphins.. which was probably a strange choice but he liked it and it was the right time period and location, attended mass at a real Mission and toured the grounds, and we finished the month with the construction of a model mission... out of gingerbread.

I'm not sure which of us learned more but it sure was fun. This year I'm hoping to have enough time before Christmas to work on another Gingerbread creation just for fun.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tree Wranglers

Today was Christmas Tree Day. In a normal year it would take most of the day to stalk a wild tree, take it down, and drag it home. However, this year we needed to get done fast so we chose a nice, docile, precut tree. A friendly boy scout wrapped it up tightly...

and when we got home we discovered that even a domesticated tree needs a little wrangling to get it ready for Christmas.

Eventually it was subdued.

Tomorrow we will attempt to saddle it with lights.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crazy Busy

Friday was a teacher "in-service" day for our district and we had such a busy and fun day at home. Taylor has been bugging me to color her hair again so Friday morning we both picked out new colors and had some fun sprucing ourselves up. Taylor really wanted to get rid of her natural red highlights (why? I don't know.. because she's 13 and beautiful but doesn't know it?) so we picked a color with that goal in mind. It didn't work. Her hair still has lovely red highlights even though it's now a shade or two darker than natural. I covered up all of my gray with a nice reddish brown (because I like my red highlights!). I think we both went a little bit too dark but it's temporary color so it will fade fast. I have a friend who is a bit scandalized that I change my hair color on a whim and actually allow my daughter to do the same but if it washes out in a few weeks then what's the big deal?

In the afternoon we hosted an impromptu Pokemon tournament for Zane's friends. Six fifteen and sixteen year olds who spent the day pretending to be ten again. They battled with their Pokemon cards, played video games, and turned Zane's entire bedroom into a fort with sheets draped over strategically placed furniture. Of course, while they were all in the fort, one of them farted and they all had to come running downstairs to tell me about it. It was truly hilarious to see these big boys having so much fun acting like little boys. I don't think they planned it that way.. it was a spontaneous mass regression. For dinner we made "build your own" pizza. The boys ate ten of them and were still looking for more.

Taylor left for a sleep-over and Delaney was a little sad to have nothing to do so we invited the girl next door over to bake and decorate cookies. They did a fantastic job cutting out snowmen and Christmas trees but frosting them was a pretty messy. Then the boys came back downstairs and devoured the freshly frosted masterpieces.

By ten everyone had gone home and it was just me and my dirty kitchen.. and the realization that I didn't take a single picture to document all of the fun. I guess we'll just have to do it again...

Today I should have done laundry and at least vacuumed but instead I went Christmas shopping for awhile and then came home and painted gifts for my neices and nephews. I guess it's been a rather productive weekend. Tomorrow we will go to get our tree and I promise to take at least one picture!

Friday, December 5, 2008

On the fourth day of December...

my true love showed to me...

Four titanium screws, Three more weeks in the neck brace, Two healing vertebrae, and a tricep ready for physical therapy.... lalalala...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Activities - Day Three

In the box today we had fun foam Santa craft kits to do but poor Santa is just going to have to wait for another day because everyone was too busy to sit down and work on a craft. I should have just put candy in the box today but I didn't have any and I didn't want to go to the store. Laziness thy name is Gina...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Burden of Proof

Two months ago Bob was run off the road by another driver. The car rolled, my man got broken, the other driver didn't stop, months of medical fun ensued... but you know all of that. What you don't know is that, a week after the accident, a letter arrived from the State Patrol and in that letter was a ticket. A ticket for "speed unsafe for conditions". Not speeding, he was travelling at the speed of traffic, but unsafe driving based on the interview the officer did at the hospital while Bob was heavily sedated. I'm surprised he wasn't cited for being under the influence of a mind altering substance... the whole situation was just wrong. Poor Bob. He has always enjoyed driving and he is a safe driver. Only two accidents in almost thirty years of driving and the first one was a fender bender twenty years ago. But in an instant so much was taken from him. His health, his confidence and a car he loved... so that little yellow slip of paper that said the accident was his fault was more than an insult.

Today he had his day in court to contest the ticket. He was well prepared with graphs showing the path the car took, a witness, and twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one* (ok.. maybe not that). My point is that the man was prepared to stand before the judge and argue his case. He didn't have to work very hard to convince her though. The officer did not come to court but he sent a five line narrative. The judge read this statement aloud, listened to Bob's testimony and Ian's testimony, and then said some of the nicest judicial words I've ever heard... "The officer has failed to provide significant evidence that a violation occurred" and she dismissed the case.

So at least this one little issue has been completely resolved. It won't make Bob's neck hurt less, or take the place of his ever present knee brace, but in a small way I think this small victory makes him feel better. Ultimately it's small victories, a few hours without the neck brace, walking the dog, getting down on one knee and getting back up again, that will lead to complete recovery.

Today, we are happy.

* Does anyone remember Arlo Guthrie?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Countdown - Day One

Many years ago my Sister in Law, Anne (Hi Anne!) gave us an Advent cabinet with a drawer for each day of the month leading up to Christmas. I love the cabinet but every year I forget to put it out until the kids remind me. So imagine how surprised they were when they came home from school today and not only was it out but it even had a project in the first drawer.

The project for tonight was construction paper Christmas countdown chains for their bedrooms. There isn't always a project in the drawer, some days it's just a couple pieces of Christmas candy. Other days I will put a note in the drawer announcing a special event, like cutting down the tree, or a pizza and Christmas cartoon marathon. It's one of the few traditions that I manage to keep year after year.

December is not my favorite month. It's too busy, too full of expectations, too expensive, and it ends with me turning a year older. But this year I'm going to try very hard to just relax and enjoy it... and I'm going to keep blogging daily to drag all of you along with me. However, like the cabinet, some days I'm just going to toss some candy in the drawer... other days I might manage something a little more special.