Monthly Archives: December 2011

a boy, a doll and dad…


This has been a whirlwind week, with the kids still enamored by the Christmas presents. The doll alone has made several necklaces, bracelets and earings, thanks to a jewelry making kit (that scared the daylights out of me with its many many small parts and pieces), given to her by her Grammy. And not an hour goes by without her running to check and see what her hamster (Kitty) is up to.

The boy loves his new nook. What’s more, prior to purchasing any apps or books, he’s asked my permission. I’m so relieved! “Mom is it okay if I buy this astronomy app?” he asked me yesterday. “Astronomy? Let me look”. Oh my goodness, and educational app he’s buying freely!! Yay!!! However, the $20 he received from his Aunt Pud, burned a wide hole in his pocket before he convinced his dad to take him to Target to purchase some Yugioh cards. God help us he still likes Yugioh cards.

I would be remiss if I didn’t stop and appreciate what cool kids I have, all year round. I’m fortunate I have this blog to archive some of the fun and furious episodes in life we’ve encountered this year. My favorite quote from the doll came Wednesday night when I was syncing music onto her mp3 player. “I’m so lucky I have such a cool mom!” I think I might get that printed up on a T-shirt and have her sign the shirt, so I can wear it when she’s 14 and hates me.

The boy’s favorite quote came from last January when he was explaining to me how his socks were soaked from the snow outside, “It was as if I were standing on Godzilla’s neck as he descended into a vast body of water”. I love how this kids brain works! Even a simple, played in the snow all morning, turned into something more exciting.

As for the extended family with whom I may write about, I think my dad takes the award for most impressive year. Not only did he turn 90 very gracefully, he also put aside old feelings and hurt (WW2 veteran), donating money to the Japanese Tsunami relief fund.

Then there was the night I was over at a friends OSU v MU party and a man approached me named Larry. “Your Doc Tom’s daughter right? Is he home right now? Could you take me over to see him?” Larry, who walks with a considerable limp as a result of polio suffered when a child, and I entered my Dad’s house and they visited for a while. After about ten minutes, Larry and I departed, Larry carrying a golden rosary my Dad had made and had gotten blessed earlier in the week. As we walked back to the party Larry said, “I want to thank you for that. You have no idea how your Dad has influenced my life and made me a better man as a result”. “What?”

“When I was a kid, my folks had no money, and yet here I was, stricken with polio. They were wasting all their money on my treatments, putting the whole family into debt. I have always felt bad about that. Anyways, I developed really bad callouses on my bad foot and your dad treated me, free of charge. My dad tried to pay and your dad always said, NO. Then he made me some inserts for my shoes–that were expensive and again your dad said NO to the payment.

Your mom and dad had nine kids to feed and put through school, yet he wouldn’t take money for a job, just to help out my family. Even as a young kid I recognized right there and then, you don’t get through life without compassion for others. As a result, I count your dad as one of only a handful of people who made me a better person. Your dad is one of the best men ever in my book and now he’s given me this rosary; I will treasure this as another gift from him”.

Well I was floored from Larry’s proclamation, I still am. For all his goofiness with telemarketers, his inability to use the remote control on his TV sometimes and his online bill paying antics its easy to forget what a special person he is, and how incredibly blessed I am that he’s my dad.

Happy New Year everyone!


Christmas day….


I awoke before the children, which seemed unusual for me; Christmas morning and I’m awake first?  Soon after arriving downstairs to plug-in the crock pot (yes you can make cinnamon sticky buns in  a crock pot) the children began to stir.  Moments later, daddy entered the room, grabbing a camera and the best vantage point to view the present frenzy about to commence. 

Santa was tricky this year, making the presents hard to tell who they belonged to.   The kids had to really look hard to find a familiar “H” or “D” designating their presents.  “Wow, mom, Santa really wants us to work this year” the boy exclaimed, laughing over finding his first present.  Yeah, I thought;  but his trickery  helped  slow down the overall frenzy.

 As one could imagine, the boy was less than thrilled with the clothes his parents had purchased for him–with the exception of a hat-which as it turns out was too small.  The doll on the other hand kept saying, “Mom, I love this!” whenever she opened one of the clothes boxes.  I will say, I don’t think I ever thanked my mom for the clothes, quite like she did to me.  I definitely have a nicer daughter than my mother had.

Then the doll opened a box containing accessories that belong in a hamster habitat.  “Oh MY GOSH!!” she yelled.  “Mom, this is what we found at Grandpa’s!!”  “I know, way to go finding  your presents over there!” I said in return.  “But, how?”  Quickly I said, “Well sometimes Santa doesn’t have enough room on his sleigh for everything, so he stashes presents somewhere close…” “Oh, you mean like at Grandpa’s because he has so much space over there?” she finished for me.  “Exactly!”  Whew!!

Seemingly satisfied,  she proceeded to open the rest of her hamster presents.  “As she looked around at the stash before her she said, “Mom, something’s missing here….”   “A hamster?” I asked.  “Yes, I have everything a hamster might want, but no hamster, what the heck?”  she queried.  “Well, Santa and I thought you might prefer picking out a hamster on your own…so there’s a gift card for you”.  The doll’s eyes brightened.  “Can we go today and pick him out?”  She asked excitedly.  “Sorry doll, you’re going to have to wait until Monday, they aren’t open on Christmas day. ”  “Oh yeah, that’s okay, this way I can do some research on the different types of hamsters and which one will work best for me”.

The boy meanwhile, seemed happy for his sister, yet a bit disappointed for himself; until he came to his last present.  After  unwrapping the package, he looked confused.  “Boy, that’s an e-reader, but better than a kindle” I said.  A big smile crossed his face as he hurriedly opened the package.  “We have to register the darn thing first (easier said than done by the way), but you should be able to download books from the library, as well as  game apps, etc.” Looking at his father and I the boy exclaimed, “This is the best Christmas ever!!” A sentiment his sister and parents concurred,

Christmas cheerleader…


Throughout the Christmas season, we never made the attempt to see Santa Claus at the mall.   Life just got too busy and the kids never complained.  Besides, if Santa really does exist  and he’s watching all the time, then he already knows what we want in our hearts, right?  At least that’s what I was banking on.

When we arrived home, in the wee hours of Christmas morning; we instructed the kids to go straight to bed.  We were all tired and they did so without much complaint.  As dad and I began to set the stage for Santa’s arrival, the doll came out into the living room and set a package down on the card table,  “Mom, could you make sure Santa gets this letter?” she asked.  “No problem doll, I’ll put it right next to the milk and cookies” I replied.  Giving her father and I one last hug and kiss goodnight, she exited the room and off to dreamland she went.

After we set up the livingroom  for Christmas morning, I grabbed the doll’s Santa letter and walked into the kitchen.  There I untied the string, opening the package; exposing the letter enclosed.   Here were four neatly written pages,  expressing what she would like for Christmas–on the outside bet, Santa wasn’t sure.  She also gave explanations why she wanted those items just in case that might help in Santa’s decision making:  “I would like a hammster, to help teach me about responisibility; a laptop so my brother and I wont fight over the computer any more….” along with a few other items which rounded off her list. 

I stood in the kitchen reading her Santa wish list, which surprisingly resembled the gifts she was about to receive Christmas morning; and giggled silently until I reached the last page.  There written as a post script, was the most poignant wish she could have offered for Christmas: “The thing I wont most of all is for my mom and dad to stop up sessing (obsessing) over the kitchen and poot up a Christmas tree at ower house”.

The doll hit the target right on the head. 

We did have a lack of Christmas spirit inside our house this year. There were no decorations put up; no window light display, no real tree, not even a nativity scene. The mood inside the house has been one of “get the kitchen done” not, “let’s celebrate the birth of our savior”. We’re at a critical juncture in our nine year old girl’s belief system.   The least her parents could do, was make this Christmas the best one yet, despite our obvious lack of spirit. The hub and I looked at one another, smiled and said, “Let’s go to bed…” praying the kids would be happy with all the Christmas cheer they would wake up to in the morning.

the voice (game) changer…


the boy biding his time...

The boy approaches Christmas eve a little different from his sister.  His expectations are so low, he brings along items to help him pass the time.  “Why are  you bringing your DS along?” I asked while we travelled to my brothers.  “Because, you never know,  I might receive a new game, so it’s all ready to go.” he said.  “Then why are you bringing your book?”  “Because, what red-blooded american doesn’t go to parties without a book?”  Um, yeah….okay.

Someone had the bright idea to hand the boy some mistletoe; to walk around  encouraging everyone to kiss one another.   No one was exempt from  his mistletoe ambush, until his uncle Dan asked him to stop.  Evidently Mary doesn’t appreciate being asked to kiss everyone.

Our family has held a white elephant Christmas the past few years.  This year, I chose not to participate, much to the boy’s displeasure.  You see, there is one common present that is regifted year to year (as a running joke) that the boy decided he wanted to have:  a pair of adult Christmas one piece red pajamas.  For whatever reason, he set his sights on these.  “Mom, what’s your number in the game?”  he asked excitedly.  “I’m sorry, we’re not playing this year.”  “What? I want to play!” He said with disappointment.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t bring a gift to exchange.  If you have something you want to exchange, then maybe they’ll let you into the game”.   His wheels began to turn….

One of the presents he received that night was a “voice changer” gadget.  Not too impressed by the toy, he decided this would be the perfect gift for the game.  Finding a discarded Christmas gift bag, he placed gadget inside, then found out what the last number of the night would be and wrote it on a piece of paper.  Thinking he covered all the bases, he entered the game.  Unfortunately he forgot one important detail, to tell the rest of the players.  

When the game ended he came back with a disappointed look on his face.  “I had the pajamas, but Jessica took them away from me.”  “Bay, you realize those pajamas are a running joke with the family.  They are not to be worn, not really”.  “Why?, Those pajamas were cool!”  “Well at least  you still have your voice changer…” I said, knowing that wasn’t much of a consolation prize.   Looking disappointed he asked, “Can we go home now?”  Sigh,  “Soon… go wake up your dad”. 

Afterward, one of my sisters approached me and asked, “What did the boy think trying to take those pajamas?”  “You don’t understand, he inserted himself into the game…he put a present in, found out the last number and figured he did everything he was supposed to in order to play.  His fatal flaw was not informing you all.  In his mind he was playing by the rules.  He thought the pajamas were cool, for whatever reason, he wanted them to wear.”  I said.  “Oh, wow, that’s why we had an extra gift at the end.  Where is he, I want to apologize to him.”  she said.  “No worries, by the morning he’ll be ensconced in his new presents that he won’t even remember this.” I said hoping I was right.

On the ride home I reiterated to him about the running joke with the pajamas.  “You know some day, I’ll get you a pair of red one piece pajamas and take your picture.  Then we’ll all bid on it during Christmas, make T-shirts with you wearing the jammies on the front and send them all around the world…” I said hoping he’d understand.  “Don’t bother mom,  the pajamas looked comfortable;  and oh, by the way, your family is weird.” 

I smiled then added, “um, yeah, so what’s your point?”

worries, wonderments and Christmas eve…


The doll and boy were ready. A night they just couldn’t wait for had arrived. Dressed in our new Christmas outfits we attended a 4 pm mass which when finished, officially marked the beginning of the holiday weekend. First up Christmas eve with mom’s family–an intimate affair with 60 of our closest friends; most of which are related to one another.

Unlike Thanksgiving when my family gets together, the time to sit and talk is minimized. There is just too much going on… God children clamoring for gifts; secret Santa’s waiting on pins and needles to begin sharing; food to be eaten… food? “Mom, I’m dying here. When can we start opening gifts?” The doll inquired in a voice stained with impatience. “Go ask uncle Danny…he’s the host” ( I said more than once).

Frustrated, the doll took solace with her older cousins.  I stopped by to see how she was doing and was greeted with, “Aunt Marsha,  how old were you when YOU went on the Polar Express?”  “Oh…lets see, I think I was about…hmmm…13?”  I said.  The doll looked over at me in amazement.  Her cousin Carrin then said, “You know, I think I was about eleven.  What about you Carolyn?”  Carolyn, thought for a moment and then added, “Well I think I was closer to ten”.  The doll was flabbergasted.  “Aunt Marsh, the doll is having some real concerns about Christmas and Santa.  Shes’ really worried.”  “I know, but she’s at that age…” I concurred.  “Well mom, I’m not really really worried, just kinda worried…” “Totally alright doll, but don’t let your worry about stuff, overshadow your fun this evening…”  Hoping I said the right thing, I left her with her cousins, still discussing the Polar Express. 

The time had finally arrived: the present frenzy commenced when my sister Ann Marie arrived, carrying three laundry baskets filled with toys.  “Oh Joy! Oh Joy!” the doll screamed out.  She just knew my sister would be bringing her most wanted gift….A hamster!  (When the doll had found presents over at Grandpa’s, I may have pointed the finger at my sister as the purchaser of the items)  As the wrapped packages were handed out, the doll eagerly opened every one.  Not finding what she thought she would, she began to get discouraged.  “Aunt Ann, are you sure you don’t have anything else for me?” she asked.  “No honey, sorry, that’s all I have”

The doll began to sulk.  When I looked over at all the stuff she had been given throughout the night, I said, “Wow, that’s pretty good loot you got over there!!” “Uh, not really mom!” came her reply.  “Hey doll?  Do you remember what we are celebrating?” I asked.  “YES MOM I KNOW THE BABY JESUS!  ITS JUST I THOUGHT I WAS GETTING SOMETHING ELSE!!!”  “Sorry about your luck  honey, but tonight is about family and spending time with one another.  You’re coming home with actual presents,  while  my present was the evening with my family. 

Hugging me, taking in deep cleansing breaths, trying to hold back the tears, she said, “I just thought I was going to get the stuff we found at Grandpa’s; tonight”.  “Did the stuff have your name on them?”  “No.”  she cried.  “Well then they were never yours to receive, were they?”  Sadly she said “no”.  “Please go back and thank everyone for your gifts and enjoy the rest of the evening, okay?”  “Okay” she said, leaving to do just that. 

drinking faux champagne, in matching jammies on Christmas eve...

Little did she know what was in store for her Christmas morning…

Chrsitmas Cards or letters?


The other morning on my drive to work, I listened to a radio program where the DJ’s were arguing the difference between receiving Christmas cards and Christmas letters. One of the hosts noted they would be offended if they received an annual update letter, which is sent during the Christmas season; rather than receiving a simple card wishing them goodwill and peace. I thought to myself, this was a silly argument to have. After all, receiving anything from anyone should have an intrinsic value; unless of course what you are receiving is a bill for services rendered, with a “Merry Holiday” stamp located at the bottom for good measure.

My Mom I think, employed an entire post office, by the amount of Christmas cards she sent each year. I did not inherit that Christmas spirit. I am always happy when I receive Christmas cards from my in-laws; they do not hold my Christmas card deficiency against me. When we were first married I tried to uphold the tradition, begun by my mother, however I have never been organized enough to do so.

I guess I could argue, this forum-the blog could act as my Christmas card to the world. That way, your choice to read the blog determines whether you receive glad news and salutations from me. Lazy on my part? Do you know me?

I think overall the Christmas spirit has been missing in our household, primarily because we’re in such disarray. We finally put the tree up-at my Mother in law’s condo, simply because we don’t have room for one right now. Last night the kid’s Great Grammy noted how cool the tree was decorated; by all the homemade ornaments we’ve kept from school projects over the years. Simple, yet elegant in our own way.

That’s what Christmas means to me…family: simple elegance.

Merry Christmas to all my readers, friends and family members. Remember Christ is the best present we have ever received, because by his love, we are saved!

….though my new Ipod touch is pretty cool too!

coal or candy?


The boy accompanied me to Target yesterday to pick up some last-minute gifts for various family members. Who knew a ride in the car would be so entertaining? As we drove toward our destination I said, “Boy, I’ve written a long, long letter to Santa explaining to him why I think you should receive coal in your stocking, instead of presents.” Giving me a stern look he only replied, “What?” “You heard me…” I said and then added, “I’ll give you three reasons why you should receive coal…instead of say, candy. First reason, you are too argumentative with me. You and your sister argue with me about everything.” “But mom, I’m a child; that’s my God-given right to argue with my parents”. “Sorry, wrong boy. Your God-given right is to obey your parents…ten commandments, ever hear of them?” He shrugged his shoulders and prepared for my next reason.

“Reason two. Whenever I ask you to pick up the living room, I mean just that: Pick up and put away everything, regardless who it belongs to. Instead when I come into check on your progress I am greeted with, ‘That’s not my stuff, I didn’t make that mess’. “Well that’s true” the boy said adding “Why should I have to pick up after the doll?” “Really?” I replied. “Yes, really” he said firmly. “So you expect me to clean up after the two of you, when I didn’t make the mess?” I asked. “That’s your job, as a mom”. Came his reply. “Really? Then consider this my notice, because I quit.” I replied. “Alright, I’ll try to clean up better. So what’s the third reason?”

“The third reason is your constant bickering with your sister and the girls” “Mom, that’s not fair, you know all girls are EVIL” “Boy, that’s not true, there are equal evil boys and girls at play here.” “Well they’re evil to me.” He said. “Be that as it may, I think you give as well as you get. Besides, I’ve asked you to purposely stay out of their way and yet I watch you go and do the exact opposite.” “But Mom, it’s my house, I should be able to do what I want”. He said. “Not at the expense of my sanity.” I said trying to implore to his sensibilities.

Once inside the store, we wandered the aisles looking for the presents. He was busy pushing the cart through the aisles while I stopped and deliberated on purchases. As we approached the check out I said, “You know, I’m willing to forgo the coal if you help me pick out candy for your stockings… Smiling he said, you know there are better things (Yugioh starter decks) than candy that you could put in my stocking…”

Smiling I simply replied, “Don’t press your luck…”