Category: Around the House

A tour of the town.

The Mayor of Christmastown agreed to give my loyal readers, er reader, a tour of his fine town. It’s a little long (almost 4 minutes) and the Mayor does not have the steadiest hand, but it amusing none-the-less.

The next week promises to be filled with lots of Christmas cheer, so I’m not sure how much I’ll get to post. Thanks for reading. I wish you all a healthy, happy and safe Holiday Season.

The Impatient Perfectionist

War Is Hell

I guess I started the battle, but it has seriously gotten out of control.

Remember back to 2003. A time when inflatable outdoor decorations were just hitting the market. Most were small (4 feet or under) and still relatively expensive ($60 and up). It was the day before Christmas and I was cruising for last minute stocking stuffers at the drug store (WHAT? where do YOU shop for stocking stuffers???????).

I spied an inflatable Santa Claus for half price. Just the night before we’d had dinner with my in-laws and were bemoaning those silly things. With a gleam in my eye, I called my husband. Should I? It’s half price! The deed was done and I headed home with my inflatable friend. While my in-laws were out, he set it up in their front yard in all of its breezy glory. My mother-in-law was horrified. “Did you put that tacky thing in my yard?”

“Who us?” we smiled innocently. She promised revenge, but actions speak louder than words. The next year, my husband got to the Christmas decorations first and constructed a perch for dear old St. Nick so he could tower over all comers from the second floor window of her barn. Tee hee, gotcha!

Except a few weeks later, as I rounded the bend in the driveway, there stood a 9 foot inflatable Snowman. My kids were barely taller than Frosty’s boots for Pete’s sake!! We fired back with an 8 foot candy cane arch with “twinkling lights” that would chase each other. Now that my friends is T A C K Y tacky!

There have been other volleys in the war of décor, such as the lighted wire frame bear that Home Depot called “Yard Art”, but sadly not all of our soldiers returned from battle. The arch was so well made, it lasted about 2 seasons, before finally meeting its maker after a wind storm. There were the 1970’s era plastic angels handed down to a friend who volunteered them for our cause. The original owners (her parents) requested they be returned for a mission in, well, I can’t disclose their exact location as they are undercover somewhere in the mid-Atlantic region. There was also the lighted reindeer who’s heads turned, back and forth. They met a grisly end at the paws and teeth of the collie, he claims he cracked under the constant surveillance. It is the majority of the “fluffies” who have had the staying power. There was one new recruit who didn’t last even a day, but alas, that is a tale for another time.

It was only this year, that the original Santa Claus was deemed unfit for battle. As my husband and I were plotting our next offensive, grousing about our inability to locate TRULY tacky Christmas decorations, it dawned on us, we have become desensitized. We have become THAT yard. The one that has been so taken over by Christmas decorations you can barely tell there is a house.

How did this happen? Isn’t this some kind of syndrome? The one where you find yourself surrounded by your enemy and find that maybe, it isn’t quite so bad?

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate, a New England Colonial home with a spotlight in the yard, white candles in the windows and a wreath on the door, but the kids love the fluffies and every time I walk by one of the front windows, I chuckle. *sigh*

From where I sit, there is only one thing to do. It is time to redouble our efforts and dear readers, I need your help. If you spy truly tacky outdoor Christmas decorations (especially at bargain prices) PLEASE, PLEASE tell me. At this point I think we’ve exploited the brigade of fluffies as much as we can. We need something shiny and spinny and with lights that twinkle and chase each other. If you spy something that you think meets my criteria please email me at imreesie (at) g mail (dot) com. WE NEED YOU!

‘Tis the Season!

As I type this, it is snowing out. Yay the first snow of the season! There are Christmas Carols on the radio and my kids are setting up their Fischer-Price Little People® Christmas village. We started the collection when my daughter was little. It was purely in our own interests, but it has developed into one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

When we first got together, my soon to be Mother-In-Law started a collection of Christmas in The City from Department 56® for A-Man and I. The buildings are made of porcelain, beautifully detailed and very breakable. The thinking was, if Fish had her own village, she’d leave ours alone and for the most part this was true. Mim was a different story. As a toddler, he had an almost magnetic attraction to all that was breakable, so we left the grown up village in the attic and focused instead on the Little People®

the years, we’ve added new pieces as they have become available, to the point that we now need an 8 foot table to hold everything. For a few years, Fischer-Price didn’t add any new pieces, so I was pleased and surprised to see the addition of “A Visit From Santa” this year.

Each piece has one electronic piece, that chimes a tinny Christmas jingle and flashes lights when provoked. That part I could do without, but it is so far outweighed by the benefits. I live with it.
We install the batteries (reluctantly) and leave it to the kids to set up. Through out its annual appearance, it will get deconstructed and reconstructed many many times.

I love listening to the kids make up stories about what is happening in Christmas at any given moment. It really brings out their imaginations and at times give me insight into what is going through their minds.

As time passes, I’m sure they’ll outgrow it, and we’ll once again set up Christmas in the City, but I plan on hanging on to these pieces in the hopes that someday my grand kids will enjoy them just as much (yeah, I do plan a head).

In the mean time, I’ll try and get you a tour of the Christmastown before the season ends.

Fischer-Price also offers a nativity themed set and a Hanukkah celebration set. Firemom wrote a great post chronicling her boys playing with the nativity set.

Don’t Gimmie No Lines and Keep Your Germs to Yourself

The stories are everywhere; you can’t open a paper (for those of us that still read them) or turn on the radio without hearing the words flu or H1N1 mentioned. The topic is all over Facebook and Twitter as people lament their illness, or that of their kids and spouses.

The flu is serious business, it can be deadly for some populations, but arguably, for most people, it is just uncomfortable and inconvenient. Yet as Americans, we take any kind of illness personally, it is like some sign of weakness to admit that you weren’t able to fight off a stupid little virus. So, rather than doing the smart thing and staying home and keeping the germs to ourselves, we put on our superhero capes (or martyr robes depending on your perspective) and soldier on, runny noses, scratchy throats, hacky coughs and all.

Sick days to the working person are like those plastic decorations on a cake. They look good in an employment offer, but you aren’t really supposed to consume them. Some companies even reward employees who DON’T use sick days. This means that super Joe or Jane comes to work spewing germs thus infecting poor Mary or Marty who doesn’t have the strongest immune system and ends up taking sick time. Joe or Jane gets a reward at Mary or Marty’s expense.

The age-old argument is “I don’t have TIME to be sick”. Really? Why is it that doctors say the best remedy for colds is rest and fluids? If you’d stay home when you are first sick, I bet you’d find you feel better faster than if you barrel on like a locomotive infecting everyone for miles.

Don’t even get me started on parents who send sick kids to school. In most cases, I don’t blame the parent as much as I do the parent’s employer. When I was volunteering in my daughter’s second grade classroom, I overheard J, an obviously sick child tell the teacher she couldn’t go to the nurse because her mom would lose her job if she left work to care for J. What is a teacher supposed to do with that?????

My kids inspired this post. Both are home today. I kept the younger one home yesterday because he was a veritable faucet of mucus and is not good at blowing his nose, remembering to cover his mouth when he sneezes or coughs, or washing his hands. Germs are the only things he is good at sharing. He’s 5, I am optimistic this will change. He didn’t have a fever and spent most of the day be-bopping around the house.

The older one also had a runny nose yesterday and the beginnings of a cough, but since she is better at containing her germs and she BEGGED (really!) to go to school. I sent her. I send decongestant with her and when she visited the nurse yesterday, for a regular dose, she complained of a scratchy throat, so the nurse took her temperature it was 100.3. So, home she came. Both kids are still spewing liquid today, but both are better. Still, they are home. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m no saint in this game. I’ve sent my kids into the fray plenty of times when they weren’t 100%, but never when I knowingly thought they were seriously ill.

I’m not really sure what the answer is. Employers complain, that sick time costs money and lost productivity, but I think they are being incredibly short sighted. If they’d allow employees the time to stay home and get well, I think they’d find that that productivity would increase because when employees ARE on the job, they would be well and focused on their work rather than ill and jonesing for that next cold medicine fix.

I work for myself, so I have fairly liberal sick time policies. How about you? What kind of sick time policies does your company have? Can you work from home when you are sick? Are you at risk of losing your job if your kids get sick?

Grief Sucks!

It is amazing to me how grief can sneak up on you and stop you in your tracks, even when you are expecting it.

It was Monday July 21, 2008. I had just dropped the kids off at their summer program and pulled out my cell phone to make a call.

I’d missed a call from Becky. Oh shit. If Becky calls me, something is wrong with Dennis. Something was indeed wrong with Dennis, he’d ruptured his achilles tendon. Ow. Ow OW OW OW!!!

Dennis was my emotional father. My biological father was not really a part of my life until I was well into adulthood. Dennis and I didn’t share genes, but a bond much stronger. Even after he and my mother parted ways on less than pleasant terms, Dennis and I stayed close. For many years, he was one of the few sane people in my life. He was a giver and never a taker and so much of who I am can be directly traced to him and his influence on my life.

He was incredibly funny and a gifted writer. He could put anyone at ease, but if you crossed him, he’d let you know with a smile on his face. He was a ‘call ‘em like I see ‘em kind of guy’ and that set me straight more than once. He was not perfect, far from it (he’d be the first to admit it). He was terrible at taking care of himself and eventually, that caught up to him.

He went into the hospital to have surgery to repair the torn tendon. He had type II diabetes and had already survived a kidney transplant and an amputation. To say he was not in great health would be an understatement.

When I saw the voice mail from Becky, I knew it couldn’t be good. I tried to track everyone down to find out what was going on, but was unable to reach anyone. He HATED hospitals and hated having a fuss made over him, so I held out and called his cell phone only as a last resort. He answered sounding awful. I got the details and was able to say “I love you.”, before we hung up.

Through the day I got updates from Becky and his sisters. When the phone rang at Midnight, my first thought was my daughter and her grandparents who were driving across the country, but as I crossed the floor to the phone, I knew it was a call about Dennis. Still, I had to ask the sobbing Becky, “Are you telling me he’s gone”? I knew the answer, but I had to be sure.

Yes, he was gone.

Oh shit. Oh shit OH SHIT!!!!

The surgery to repair the tendon was successful. Becky spoke with him post op, but shortly after that, his heart gave out. If I’m being truthful, it was a better way for him to go. The transplanted kidney was failing and he was facing a grim future. I am sorry he’s gone, but I wouldn’t have wanted him to suffer.

It’s been almost a year. The date isn’t marked on my calendar, but it doesn’t have to be. He died Monday, July 21, 2008 at the age of 59.

I thought the anniversary of day itself would be hard and scheduled myself pretty tightly in an effort to keep the demons at bay. Turns out, this, week, the week before has been brutal. Everywhere I turn, there is a reminder. My iPod and the radio have ganged up on me.

He wouldn’t want this. He would want me to remember the good times, like when he read me Little House on the Prairie, when he tried to teach me to fish, the infamous New Year’s day brunch that went on all day, my wedding day (he walked me down the aisle and we danced to Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion), the Father’s day weekend he came to visit and met my daughter and we hung out in Rockport eating lobsters and drinking beer or the fall weekend he came to meet my son and he and I had third row seats to an amazing concert.

I remember all those times and more, but there have been too many times in the last twelve months where I could only shake my head and think “Dennis would have loved this.” I hate that he’s not here to share those things with

I have no pithy ending. Life will go on and as is customary, the grief will ease with time, but IT WILL ALWAYS SUCK!

This says it all I Still MIss You by Keith Anderson.