Friday, December 30, 2005
Tomorrow we are hosting the annual family New Year's Eve party. Hubby's two brothers, sister and mother, plus his favorite aunt, will be coming over to celebrate with us. We will have pizza and snacks and watch the ball drop together. It will be fun for everyone, and having it here means I can get the baby to bed at his normal time.
So if I don't get on here again before Sunday, have a great New Year's Eve, everyone! Don't party too hard!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Movies like this ought to have an additional warning. You know at the beginning when they tell you it's rated PG-13 for sex or language or whatever? Well, there should also be a tear-factor rating.
T-1: People who cry at commercials will probably cry at this movie.
T-2: Mild tear-jerking scenes.
T-3: Bring a tissue.
T-4: Bring a box of tissue.
T-5: Gut-wrenching sobs. Even the men will shed a tear during this movie.
I would give The Notebook a definite T-5 rating. Do Not see this movie without at least one box of tissue and someone to hold your hand. Definitely never watch this movie when you're PMSing.
If anyone knows who to lobby to get the tear rating system implemented, let me know. We have got to warn people about movies like this!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I have both Blogger and Haloscan comments working again, so you can use either one. Let me know!
Monday, December 26, 2005
Remnants of wrapping paper float across the floor like little green and red tumbleweeds. Pieces of "some assembly required" toys form a trail across the floor. Lego arms and legs are strewn everywhere like the result of some dreadful Lego land mine. Not to mention the food and drink that was spilled on the floor at some point during the festivities, though I do have to say the dog and cat did a pretty good job of cleaning all that up.
Yes, the Christmas carnage is everywhere. But the boys are happily playing with their new toys, coffee is brewing in my new coffee maker, and hubby is home from work. It's 10:35 and I'm just now getting around to blogging, which means I've been able to sleep in. I'd say all the destruction is worth it.
Happy Boxing Day! (What is Boxing Day, anyway?)
Friday, December 23, 2005
Meanwhile, the lovely Carol has tagged me for Christmas. So here goes:
1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider? Hot chocolate
2. Turkey or Ham? Turkey, though hubby's company gives him a ham every year and it usually lasts me all year.
3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree? Fake. We got a good deal on one years ago and it's still in great shape.
4. Decorations on the outside of your house? I always want to, but hardly ever get around to it, apart from a wreath on the front door.
5. Snowball fights or sleddin'? Both!
6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping? Not at Christmas time! I like it when it's deserted.
7. Favorite Christmas song?God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
8. How do you feel about Christmas movies? Love the animated Rudolph and Frosty I remember from my childhood. Can't stand A Christmas Story (oh, I'm just waiting for the flak on that one!)
9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? I listen to Rockapella Christmas all year round - it's that good.
10. Stockings before or after presents? After.
11. Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them? I've never had carolers come to my house, believe it or not.
12. Go to someone else's house or they come to you? My in-laws usually come here, and we always go to my grandmother's.
13. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when? Yes, no set time.
14. What do you do after presents and dinner? Sit around and socialize while the kids play.
15. What is your favorite holiday smell? Fresh cookies
16. Ice skating or walking around the mall? Mall
17. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? Christmas Day, unless we're doing all of them on Christmas Eve for some reason.
18. Favorite Christmas memory? See yesterday's post.
19. Favorite Part about winter? The cold and the snow.
20. Ever been kissed under mistletoe? Not in years (hint, hint, hubby!)
If I don't get a chance to blog over the weekend, Merry Christmas everyone!!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
As soon as the sun was up, I would spring out of bed and run into my parents' room. To go near the tree before Dad got his lights and cameras ready was strictly forbidden. We would bounce on their bed until they got up, and then Dad would go out and prepare to record the big entrance.
When he gave the word, my brother and I would run into the room where the tree was. We would then start exclaiming joyfully over the sheer volume of presents that had appeared under the tree since the night before. I have watched some of the videos, and I appear to have springs in my feet. I just bounced up and down, up and down! Now I know where the boys get it!
After opening presents, and consuming vast amounts of Christmas cookies, we would pack up and prepare to go to my maternal grandmother's. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, so I would always pack some of the books I'd gotten (I always got books). We usually arrived around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and my grandmother would cook a wonderful meal for everyone: my family, my three aunts and their husbands, and my eight cousins. Then we would gather around the tree and exchange presents. We drew names every year so we only had to buy for one person, and it was a surprise who had your name. We had such fun opening the gifts. Then we would all ten dash to the family room to open our stockings, which would be stuffed to overflowing with apples, oranges, candy and little gifts.
Usually we spent the night and then traveled home the next day. Sometimes my cousins would sleep over, too, and we'd stay up half the night goofing around. Now they all stay in hotels or go back to their own homes. But at least I know that Christmas is the one time of year I'll get to see them. We still go to my grandmother's every year.
I hope that my boys have fond memories of Christmas, too.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
When I was a kid, every Christmas these friends of my parents would have a party, and sometime during the party, the doorbell would ring, and in would come Santa, Frosty and Rudolph. It was always so exciting! I think I am 10 in this picture, and still just as happy to sit on Santa's lap (even though I knew it was some friend of theirs in a costume). It was a great tradition. After telling Santa what we wanted, and each child receiving a small gift from him (which naturally he brought in a sack), we would all join hands with the three characters and dance around in a circle, while the lady of the house played "Frosty the Snowman" on the piano and everyone sang along. Great memories.
So, what are your great Christmas memories?
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Well, he's always putting legos in his mouth even though he's told not to, so I figured that's what it was. "You swallowed what?" I asked him.
"A sharp little metal thing," he said. Oh, fantastic. I called hubby, who rushed home. Meanwhile, Isaac kept crying that his throat hurt. You know that feeling when you take a pill and it still feels stuck in your throat? Imagine that with a little piece of metal.
When hubby got home, we took Isaac to the ER. We had in the meantime figured out that what he swallowed was a little one-centimeter-square piece of steel that came with some bar magnets. I had another one so I could show it to the doctor.
Hubby dropped me and the boy at the ER so he could run an errand. By this time, Isaac felt fine and was only concerned about whether or not he would get a sticker for being there. They gave him a paper bracelet, which he loved for about two minutes. Every two minutes after that, he wanted to know if he could take it off.
Finally, they took us back to a room, and then to get an x-ray. Sure enough, there was the little metal square staring at us from his stomach. We went back to the room to wait for a doctor. Hubby showed up with the other kids, and it was general pandemonium until I discovered the television in there had cable. I found Cartoon Network, and all was well.
So after all that, the doctor told us it will pass through his system. Obviously we need to watch out for pain or bleeding or anything like that, but otherwise, in a couple of days, it'll be out. So I guess when it comes to childhood trauma, this too shall pass.
This, my friends, is my 300th post!
I want to wish a very happy birthday to my darling husband, the most handsome, most loving, most wonderful, intelligent, witty and sweet man I could ever have hoped to marry. I love him more all the time and I'm so privileged to be his partner and his friend.
Happy birthday, my love!
Monday, December 19, 2005
Last night we were at a nice little restaurant celebrating hubby's upcoming birthday. At the end of the meal, I took the two older boys to the bathroom, thinking it would be just a minute. Joshua, unfortunately, was in it for the long haul. He went in the stall and shut the door.
A few minutes later, two little girls came in alone. They were maybe 3 and 6. I was in the other stall, but I could see the younger one crouch down and peek under Joshua's door.
"Who's in there?" she shrieked.
Joshua replied, "It's very rude to stick your head under the door like that."
She withdrew her head and repeated, "Who's in there?"
"Who's in there?"
"My name is Joshua."
By this point, I was done, and the little girl went into the stall where I had been. But this did not shut her up.
"Are you still in there?"
"Well, get out. My sister has to make in there."
"I'm not done."
"Are you a girl?"
"You sound like a girl."
"I'm a boy."
"No you're not."
"Yes, I am!"
"What's your mother's name?" What this information would tell her I had no idea.
"But what's your mother's name?"
"But what is your mother's name?"
"Well, what's your baby sister's name?"
"I don't have a baby sister."
"So what's your baby sister's name?"
"I have a baby brother." I could hear Joshua's frustration with this girl. I was, of course, standing there laughing at them.
"But what's your baby sister's name?"
"We are all boys in my family. Except my mother."
"Oh." At last, the light of understanding dawned. "You really are a boy!"
Friday, December 16, 2005
This is the obligatory leftover Christmas ornament we found under the sofa sometime last March. It has been sitting in my living room waiting for the Christmas tree to be put up again so it can join its long lost siblings. You'll notice that Smoky has a much different fate in mind for it. This does not bode well for the Christmas tree...
This is the new futon my parents gave me for Christmas. I decided on green to match the tile in the basement, where it's going to live. My parents will be testing it out for me next week when they come to stay for a few days. Isn't it pretty?
Something I decorate:
My piano usually goes all out for Christmas. As you can tell, I have not yet gotten any of the decorations out this year. Yes, I know, I'm slow. Anyway, I have a garland that I put up there and little bits of greenery and a nativity scene. It always looks fabulous. And it's really the only thing in the house I decorate, besides the tree.
So there you have it. Did you play?
Thursday, December 15, 2005
If you ever get sick of all those people who post pictures of their cats and talk about how wonderful they are (not that I do, I'm just saying), then this is the site for you. MeanKitty.com has page after page of actual cats, with pictures and descriptions sent in by their owners. All the cats are mean, nasty kitties with an attitude. The boys and I sat here and laughed and laughed the other day. It almost makes me wish our kitty were mean so we could put him on there!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
We just got home from seeing The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I must say I was very impressed. Everything was just as I had pictured it when I read the book. The children liked it, too. I was afraid Joshua and Isaac would be scared at some of the more intense scenes in the movie, but they were fine. They both really enjoyed it, and Joshua gave it a "When that comes out on DVD, I want to buy it!" which is his equivalent of two thumbs up! I probably would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have a squirmy one year old on my lap, but oh well.
I thought the four children were perfectly cast. Lucy and Edmund were just wonderful. And Tilda Swinton, who played the White Witch, was the perfect blend of charming and evil. The boys loved the talking animals, especially the beavers (which are the first talking animals we see in the movie). Isaac kept saying, "They talk!"
I would highly recommend this movie, especially to anyone who has read the book. It remains very true to the original text and nothing major is added or taken away. I really enjoyed it.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The problem is, they have no parental controls. So when you buy them for your children, you're giving them unlimited access to the internet.
The disturbing part of this is that the porn industry has started making videos specifically for PSP and the video Ipod. They also offer downloadable porn for cell phones. The thing that struck me was when the commentator said that you think your kids are playing a game, and they're actually watching porn. There is literally no way to keep them from it if they go looking for it, and worse, they could come across it accidentally.
So first, don't buy these things for your kids. Second, call or write to the companies that make them and ask for parental controls. If you already have one, be vigilant. We can never be too careful in protecting the eyes, ears and hearts of our children.
Monday, December 12, 2005
We received a letter on Saturday telling us we owe back taxes to our local area tax office from tax year 2003. One problem: we didn't live here in 2003.
This letter did not surprise us. It is not the first time some part of the Pennsylvania bureaucracy has decided to see if they could "get us." I bet they get people this way all the time. There are so many different taxes we have to pay, people are probably quite willing to believe they missed one, and pay up. We have state income tax, local income tax, local school tax, local property tax, per capita tax, and occupational tax. All are paid separately. You can see how a person might get confused.
In 1997 we sold a house in Louisiana. The next day, we bought a house in PA. Two years later, the state told us we owed them tax on the money we made selling the house! We were able to show that we did not actually live in PA when we sold it, so we were off the hook for that one.
We moved from Hanover in 1999. We were told in late 2000 that we didn't pay our 1999 per capita tax in Hanover, a tax which isn't owed until after the date we had moved. They even sent us to a collection agency, despite our proving we didn't live there. The amount of the tax? Five dollars.
So now, our local tax bureau wants us to pay income tax for the year before we moved here. We moved into this house on February 29, 2004. We didn't even own the house until February 28. So how could we owe taxes for 2003? Obviously, we don't. But now I have to waste my time and energy digging up the contract for the house and the papers for the tax we paid in our other local area to prove that we don't.
How much money could the people of PA save every year if we just eliminated all this local bureaucracy? I bet just the postage on letters to people who don't actually owe any taxes would be hundreds of dollars a year.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
I was definitely planning on playing Stuff Portrait Friday this week. Several problems: my computer is still dead, I can't get this computer to recognize the camera, and I don't have one of the three things we're supposed to take a picture of.
#1: A tattoo or birthmark.
I have a red blotch of a birthmark next to my left eye. I have no tattoos, nor will I ever. I get woozy when they prick my finger to take blood; there's no way somebody is going to draw on me with needles. In related news, I heard my brother wants to get a tattoo of his dead kitten on his chest (as it appeared in life, not as it is now). This is the guy who, as a child, screamed bloody murder every time he had to get a shot. I would pay money to see this tattooing.
#2: Your bumpersticker.
Don't have any. On our old van we had a sticker from my college in the window, but not on the bumper. Not really sure why. I'm sure hubby could leave a comment and tell me why we don't have any bumper stickers.
#3: Something you keep changing.
You're looking at it. I like to keep changing my blog skin. It's fun, and the more I do it, the more I figure out how to do different stuff. I'm working on my first original blog skin right now, which should premiere sometime after Christmas. I kind of like the idea of changing my blog's appearance with the holidays. Plus people don't feel like they're looking at the same old thing all the time.
So, there's my lame attempt at participation. Be sure to tell me what a lousy job I did!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
When I found out my fourth child would be a boy, I began spending a lot of time on BabyCenter's Raising All Boys bulletin board. There I met Amanda, a mom of two boys. She was always cheery and friendly to everyone and never had a negative word to say. When she found out her third child would be a girl, she sadly left the group. I kept in touch with her by email, and then one day in June I got the shocking news that her 21-month old boy, Preston, had died. She sent me the following message, asking me to pass it on, and so I am. It is long, but I feel it is important. My heart still aches for her.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Jewish religion the Bar Mitzvah is the "rite of passage," the crossover from childhood to adulthood; a milestone in a Jewish life. Melissa's son, Andrew, is about to make this rite of passage and in their synagogue all Bar Mitzvahs are asked to create and complete a mitzvah (social action) project. Andrew has chosen to create one close to all of our hearts. He has created the "Preston's Auctions for Awareness" project. All of our families have been touched by the loss of Preston Jack Drummond, who at the age of just 21 months old was lost to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). For Andrew's mitzvah project he would like to raise awareness and be able to give a very large monetary donation towards research for SUDC, a Program of the CJ Foundation for SIDS.
Preston's mother Amanda, states "Preston was the greatest joy in my life. He loved everyone and was so full of life. Always blowing kisses and waving. He has the biggest brown eyes, beautiful smile, curly wild brown hair, chubbiest cheeks, full belly laugh, chubby, chubby hands he is perfect in every way. We call him Moose cause he was always such a chunk so many rolls. I miss him every moment of every day." Preston also leaves behind his father, Brandon, big brother, Dakota, and baby sister, Alivia.
The SUDC organization has been developed to provide a centralized resource for information, support and advocacy. It serves families and professionals affected by the tragedy of SUDC, and promotes awareness of SUDC in communities.
SUDC is the sudden and unexpected death of a child over the age of twelve months, which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation is conducted. SUDC is a diagnosis of exclusion - given when all known and possible causes of death have been ruled out. SUDC is not a new phenomenon, but it is very rare. Its incidence is approximately 1 death per 100,000 children. In comparison, the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is 50 times more common, being approximately 1 death per 2000 live born infants. It is not surprisingly therefore that there is very little known in the medical literature about SUDC.
Andrew is asking for people to donate items to the project to be sold on eBay in which 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the SUDC Organization/CJ Foundation for SIDS in Preston's honor. All items are welcome. Use your imagination. Items may include but are not limited to: video games, handbags, blenders, luggage, linens, and electronics. You name it and we can try to auction it!!! Everyone has something they aren't using. Once you have chosen your item or items for donation contact us immediately so we can work with you to get these items to us or onto the eBay auction site.
Monetary donations are also very welcome for this project. Checks can be made payable to Preston's Auction for Awareness/CJF and be mailed to:
18944 Concerto Drive
Boca Raton, FL 33498
Please visit the following websites to be touched by Preston and SUDC the way we all were:
The eBay site is slowly starting to get up and running and can be visited at:
Andrew may have started this project, but we plan to keep this going forever because Preston will always remain in our hearts and his soul will live on forever. So we ask that if you find it in your heart, please forward this to people you feel would want to contribute to such and important cause. Together, we can prevent another tragic loss.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I got complaints about my last blog skin, so I'm trying this one. I'm not entirely happy with it, but I figure it's only 3 weeks until Christmas. I'm working on an original skin, which should be ready by the time I need it. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday scenery!
Is anybody else really glad it's winter? Hubby has the coal stove cheerily glowing in the basement, there's a dusting of snow on the ground, and I can see my breath in the air. It's supposed to be 16 degrees tonight. Yeah, baby!
I'd love to do WBW this week, but my main computer is dead. No power. I could move the scanner up here, but I'm not that motivated.
And now I leave you with a favorite song lyric, by Randy Stonehill. It's funny 'cause it's true: "If Jesus came back today, they'd try to book him on the Oprah Winfrey show."
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
There must be a syndrome called Post-Vacation Stress Disorder.
For the first few days after I get home from a trip, I feel shell-shocked. Is this really what I was doing every single day of my life before we left for a week and a half? All this cleaning and laundry and dishes and having to come up with three meals a day. Aye aye aye.
The kids feel it, too. Schoolwork, schmoolwork. Let's play all day like we did last week. Let's stay up until midnight.
And on top of that, you have the stress of unpacking. Unpacking is my least favorite part of travel. After hauling everything in from the car and dumping it in the kitchen, it all has to be sorted through and put away. I hate that.
So you'll forgive me if I seem a little dazed and out of it for a few days. My body is in Pennsylvania but my brain stayed in Florida.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Isaac and Joshua study the map to find the next ride they want to go on. They have to do this while Caleb is on one of the bigger rides because he is the official navigator and becomes incensed if anyone but him looks at a map.
This is Sheikra, the newest coaster in the park. That hill is ninety degrees straight down. "The only way down is face down" says the commercial. The car has eight seats across. The first time I rode it, I was all the way in the left seat of the front row. I got to the top of that hill and looked down and there was just nothing beneath me at all. I remember saying, "This was a bad idea!" However, it was an awesome ride! I went on it twice more.
World's most adorable baby dinosaur! That thing he's holding is the empty cup in which I sampled some non-alcoholic beer. He had to have that cup. You can't see the big Anheuser Busch eagle on it, but it's there. The funny part of this is that he was walking around with the cup, still very much the beginning walker, wobbling and falling down all over the place. I turned to someone nearby and said, "You see what happens when you give a one year old beer?" It was hysterical. Maybe you had to be there?