Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas flops, Camels and our $20 Kmart special

 Growing up, each Christmas our family got a live tree. My grandparents own a Christmas tree farm in Virginia. Each year, we would go work on the farm to get the trees ready to sell. Being the youngest, I couldn't do much, but I was given smaller tasks. I would pull the little red wagon from the house full of goodies to everyone working, or follow behind whoever was plugging grass and place a single square of toilet paper over the hole to indicate where a new tree was going to go. 

My grandparents had beautiful trees, but we always got first pick. Even years later when my grandparents got too old to care for the trees, and sold the rights, they still set aside some trees for our family. My favorite was the white pine, even though they shed and dropped needles everywhere. My mom liked the Douglas Firs, but I thought they were prickly and hurt. Every year we'd get our tree, and hang it up. One year, the cat attacked our tree three times.

In 2002, back when I was still with the ex, I had just moved into a dumpy little duplex in Charleston, SC. We didn't have a dime to our name or furniture for that matter. One of the fellow seaman and his wife gave us an old plaid orange couch and chair that had once been in a fraternity house. (True Story) The couch had no springs left in it, and was hideous to say the least. However, I was just grateful for something to sit on. 
It resembled something like this. I'm just too lazy at the moment to bring out the old pics. Anywho, that year, my mom found 5ft tall Christmas trees on sale at Kmart on black Friday, 2002 for $20. She bought my sisters and I a tree. I remember what a sweet little tree it was that first year. Two states away, pregnant and on bedrest, I'd have that tree on 24/7. It felt like it was a little piece of home in my new home. 

10 years, 4 kids, and another husband later, the tree still stands. Mr. Man and I have discussed getting a new tree. In fact, last year, he changed out a good 100+ light bulbs on our $20 Kmart tree. This year, as I got it out, I complained more bulbs were out, but I was wrong. There's just that few lights on it. 

 This year may be our final year for our little tree. The branches are droopy and spread out. There's huge gaps in between the different pieces. Mr. Man said he doesn't see any of that, and he feels like for $20 it's a steal. After Christmas, our sweet tree will be disappearing to the Good Will, and I will feign ignorance next year when we can't find our Christmas tree.

Tonight, we took the boys to see a living nativity at First Baptist Church in a town nearby.  I was so excited. This whole month of December, the boys and I have been through the Christmas story piece by piece. We've talked about the Old Testament prophecies leading up Jesus' birth, why Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, and about how it would be to have a little baby in a stable. I was so excited for them to have a visual at tonight's living nativity. Well, as you know, nothing with kids goes as planned. They thought it was neat that they were asked to sign in and pay a "tax." They thought the towns people with all of their stores were really cool. They wanted to pet the donkeys and the camels. Liam even said the angel was pretty and he wanted to pet her. As we stood by the manager scene listening to the pre-recorded account of Jesus' birth, Kieran declared, "Ewwww! The camel is pooping." Which Cam followed up with, "I just want to see it spit. Camels spit you know." We finished the night by listening to the choir sing Christmas carols. I was standing in the cold thinking how neat it was to be able to worship and was really feeling overwhelmed with the love of the Lord, when a train went by. The boys were completely enthralled and yelling, "Choo choo!" They continued to give a commentary on the train for the next 3 minutes. (It was a really long train) Liam resumed conducting the choir, and the older boys asked Mr. Man if mom was "done yet" because they were cold and hungry. 

And for my final Christmas flops....  Tonight, I delivered my batch of Christmas cookies to my girlfriend. I handed her my red paper plate with crinkled foil as she gave me a beautiful Christmas box of butterscotch bars and snicker brownies. She took off the foil and asked if the cookies had mint in them. I was so proud. "Why, yes, there are mint chocolate chip ones." Apparently, putting those cookies in with the others, turned ALL of my cookies into mint cookies. Mint sugar cookies. And mint peanut butter and chocolate cookies. Thankfully, she's my close girlfriend, and we could laugh about it together. By laugh, I mean, shake my head, and want to scream, "I QUIT! I QUIT!!!!!!!!!" lol* 

May you all have a very blessed and Merry Christmas. May you keep you sense of humor amidst the flops of the holiday season, and may you never ruin 10 dozen cookies by contaminating them with mint chocolate chip ones. 
<3 Suzzy  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Picture disaster, raw cookie dough and diabetic cookies: Failures in Life.

Today has been a disaster, no a failure. I'll back up, and begin with last night. My good friend was scheduled to come over and take family photos for our Christmas cards. I scoured the web to find poses. I had in mind the adorable, priceless pics we would take. A picture with the boys spelling out the word "J-O-Y", one with the boys huddled around Dylan as he read the Bible, and an endearing shot with Mr. Man and I looking lovingly into each others' eyes. 

I picked the boys up from school, and went straight to get hair cuts. I knew this would leave little time to get home, and put on the coordinating outfits, but I wanted them to look nice and kempt. I don't know if somewhere along the line I offended the older barber, but he refuses to cut my boys' hair. I will walk in, with no other customers, and he'll sit in the chair and assure me his grandson will be back soon. He'll then read the paper. When the next customer walks through the door (young or old) he'll put his paper away, and promptly begin cutting their hair. In a way, this makes me feel funny, but if you saw the hair cuts he gives, you'd probably be telling me to be grateful. 
Old man barber seems to have one style, and one style only. It involves cutting the back and sides of the hair very short, and leaving some on the top. Always with zigzag bangs. I can always tell when he's cut Mr. Man's hair. (Yes, the grudge is only with me.) After haircuts, we raced home, and I found Mr. Man grumpy as can be. I was yelling at the kids to get ready, rearranging the house, and trying to curl my hair which refused to hold any style except frizzy and limp. By the time my girlfriend arrived, tension in our house was running high. The boys were running around like animals, and Mr. Man had decided he was going to start dinner. (yes, just as the photographer arrived.) Nothing went right. Screaming at the kids to behave. Screaming at the kids to smile. Threatening. Yelling. Begging them to give me one good shot. All the while, Mr. Man did that embarrassing man thing, where despite company, and me trying to leave the "we're an amazingly happy, loving never fighting couple" impression, he moped, and yelled the entire shoot. I felt embarrassed, and wondered why I even bothered. My friend in PA also has four boys, yet she ALWAYS manages to get her tree just so, and the perfect family photo (including the dog) with her beautiful tree, and clean house in the background. 

Today wasn't much better. For weeks, I've had wreath stuff piled in my family and living room. I couldn't wait to load them up to the craft fair, and have my house back. I woke up, and got dressed, while Mr. Man loaded the beast. Again, it must be a man thing, but when I am in a rush, Mr. Man is on Texas time. He does this thing where he refuses to be rushed, and if he knows you are in a hurry, he seems to sloooooooooow down. I arrived 30 min before the craft show and began setting up, while Mr. Man sauntered in and began setting up my displays. Tick tick tick. The boys meanwhile, are running around like animals in the gym, and I begin to sweat. 

  Luckily, two my girlfriends (have I mentioned what AMAZING friends I have?) came to see me. They each bought a wreath, and then this sweet woman bought another. Three wreaths in the first 45 minutes! Praise the Lord. I sat and waited for me people. And waited. And waited. Luckily, Mr. Man came back to bring me tape for my sign, and left my eldest to keep me company. 
 With my 250 business cards, and my ultra swank sign, I felt very professional. Minutes turned into hours. This place was dead. I felt heartbroken. By 4 o'clock, I called Mr. Man, and told him to come get me. Apparently, I had woken him up from a nap, and he arrived an hour later. The boys marched in like soldiers, and took my displays down. They carried each piece of heavy wood to the beast. I must admit, by this time, I had pulled the van up behind the beast, and just sat *pouted* and watched as they loaded each wreath back into the car. 

By the time we got home, it was nearly 6pm. I lingered in the bathroom, having a pity party for myself, and taking off my earrings, and exchanging my black pants for a pair of oversized sweat pants. My boys continued working. They carried all of my wreaths up to the bonus room, and carried on about what "pretty" wreaths they were, and how people had been "crazy not to buy them." I must admit, this comforted me a bit. As a mom of four boys, there are some perks, this is one of them. I get huge compliments on all "girl" things I do. To people who can't match clothes, (or socks for that matter), they are in constant awe of my creations, (even the hideous wreaths I make which I dub the "ugly babies" AND which always end up selling quickly.) 

After dinner, Mr. Man was in the kitchen baking some sugar free cookies. As part of my pledge to make Jesus the center of our Christmas (and yes, I realize the irony, and hypocrisy of my horrible attitude blog, but bear with me, I'm human) I organized a group of my mom friends and their kids to go to a nursing home. I figured a little singing, hand out some cookies and candy canes, and let the sweet old people visit with the kids. Apparently, I forgot about the diabetic geriatrics, and was warned some of the residents had swallowing issues, and would not be permitted to have any of our sweets. Mr. Man volunteered to make the diabetic batch of cookies. He offered me a taste, and I graciously gave Dylan the rest of it. We exchanged glances while trying to swallow down the tasteless biscuit cookie, when Mr. Man called from the kitchen to ask which kind of [sugar free] icing he should make to accompany the cookies. Dylan leaned over and whispered, "The kind that covers up the flavor of the cookie." We commenced to laugh ourselves silly. Luckily, Mama found a stash of leftover chocolate chip cookie dough, and we were saved from the delicious sugar free dessert. I hear as you get older, your taste buds get duller, in the case of Mr. Man's cookies, this will definitely work towards the diabetic residents advantage.