Friday, December 28, 2007

Chaos

1900 square feet. 46 warm bodies. 8 pizzas. 12 liters of root beer. 2 waterfights, a driveway basketball game and one guitar jam session. It's called dinner with my family. My oldest brother said the best part about these gatherings is watching the young cousins play together. A nice sentiment, but quite honestly it's the brothers and sisters-in-law roaming the halls with glazed eyes in search of a square foot without lincoln logs, or rummaging through the medicine cabinet in hopes of discovering a spare bottle of valium that I enjoy the most.

The anniversary party is tomorrow. We're just getting started.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

For those of you who don't get my Christmas card...

...I thought I'd share a few quotes that were included this year:

We were piled in the car, starting to back out of the garage:
Drew: "Oh! I forgot my gray sweatshirt!"
Kristy: "Do you know where it is?"
D: "Yeah."
K: "OK, tell me where it is and I'll go get it."
D: "Well, if you go in...and you see something gray...that's it!"
~~

Drew: Hey Dad? Are you a doctor?
Cory: (sensing a setup) Yes.
D: Oh good. Then can you get this fork out of my butt?
~~

Samantha, trying to entertain some little kids at our house:
"It seems like they like Drew's burping better than the puppet show."
~~

Drew: Dad, do you have a song stuck in your head right now?
Cory: No.
D: [bursts into song] Shot through the heart, and you're to blame - you giiiive loooove, a BAD name!
[pause...pause...]
D: Nnnnnnow do you have a song stuck in your head?
~~

Samantha, going through my jewelry:
S: Where did you get this ring mom?
Kristy: My mom and dad gave that to me when I graduated from high school.
S: Ooooooh...this one's OLD then.
~~

Drew: "Samantha, just because I'M being annoying doesn't mean YOU have to be!"
~~

Samantha, yelling from her upstairs bedroom:
"WHAT is going ON down there???"
Me: I'm exercising!
S: Why is it shaking the WHOLE HOUSE???
~~

Sincerely,
Vern & Co.
Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yuletide Highlight

I can't decide which part of my Sunday Christmas church service was the highlight today. The part where the main contribution of the program was a 7 member choir, the moment when the Bishop conducting the main meeting lifted up his leg over the pulpit to reveal his Christmas socks, or when the frail, old man got up to leave Sunday School early and farted four times on the way out.

Definitely a toss up.

Care to vote?

Friday, December 21, 2007

God is not dead in Los Angeles

We are in California for Christmas and a 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents. This morning I woke up around 6am and was unable to go back to sleep, so I decided to get up and go to the gym.

This is not a joke.

But here's my question. Why does television suck so bad at health clubs? It's the one time where I really need help maintaining focus on something else other than the perky former cheerleader next to me running a mile in the same time it takes me to turn on the machine, and I gotta say, CNN and ESPN don't cut it. I mean, come on. What are there, like 34 flat screens in one room and my choices come down to reports on worldwide catastrophe and men in tights? I'm not saying that the lady answering all your burning questions about refinancing and foreclosures doesn't know what she's talking about, or that Tom Brady isn't making somebody's day by beefing up their Fantasy Football scores, but that sure as hell isn't going to help me increase my speed into mile 3. I will say that there was one time I was running on the treadmill when "The Biggest Loser" (a weight loss reality series and not, in fact, a documentary on my life's accomplishments) was on, and I ran for an extra 45 minutes. I try not to go in the evening anymore.

I mostly rely on my iPod to help me through my workouts now, but I forgot to pack it. Which is why I found myself searching for reprieve from the TV monitors at six o'clock this morning, hoping for some kind of story to help me forget that I was running in public.

I never found reprieve, but I did get a fresh dose of surprise. Not because half of the channels were tuned to CNN, but because the other half were tuned to a 24-hr religious station! Here I was, staring at some emphatic scriptorian making grand interpretations on stage, waving his arms around like a circus performer without any animals, and this is what they had playing on multiple televisions in a public health club? In CALIFORNIA? California, where prayer in school has been publicly debated and is now a thing of the past and where the very pledge of allegiance has hung by a thread? Now, I think it's pretty obvious that I'm pro-religion, but I'll be honest. It's not my concern for salvation that has me sweating at 6am. I turned to CNN, hoping for something better when I read the following closed captioning: "FEMALE PASTOR HAS VISION ABOUT HER DALLAS FREEWAY...." They interviewed this pastor by the side of the freeway that runs through Dallas. She talked about a verse in Isaiah, Ch. 35 that mentions a highway being built, and now here they were, on "I-35". Apparently it's now a hangout for religious enthusiasts who stand there and preach to all the people driving by at 70mph. Sounds pretty effective. Later during a commercial break I saw a promo for a show coming up later in the week titled, "What would Jesus REALLY do?" As if Anderson Cooper knows anything about that! THEN, even later today we took the kids to Starbucks for hot chocolate and right next to us was a guy with his scriptures out, marking them all up, and typing some kind of report or sermon or something on his laptop.

The last time I was surrounded by this much religion in one day was when I attended religion class in college. For my birthday a few weeks ago my friend Ali gave me a shirt as a joke that says, "Got Jesus? It's hell without him." Looks like Los Angeles already got that memo.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shameless

Since surprising Cory with the trip to Hawaii, I’ve received several comments about my rock star status like, “Wow, that’s so great that you had the whole trip paid for before you even told him! And with all your OWN money! What a great wife you are.” I’ve shamelessly accepted all compliments, drawing the line only when a person started to bow in my presence. I’m not afraid to say I think I AM a great wife. A great wife who really wanted to go to Hawaii wanted to show the love of her life the lengths to which she would go for his happiness. Indeed I went to GREAT lengths.

With a month to go on the deadline for paying for the trip, I was still a few hundred dollars short with no photography gigs on the horizon. I began scanning the home for items to sell on craig’s list – I stared longingly at Cory’s golf clubs, and wore a sinister grin as I lightly traced my finger over his collector baseball cards. Then reminding myself that I wanted to STAY married, I searched for different options. As if the mailman heard my pleas, two random checks showed up in the mail, one from our insurance company and the other from our escrow corporation. We both had to sign them, they both went into my account. Then later in the week, with only a few more dollars to be gathered, the voice of a coin shop owner I had recently spoken to echoed in my head, “I buy old jewelry and melt it back down for new jewelry…” he had told me. I ran to my jewelry box. I found a chunky piece of silver, an old earring that was missing its counterpart, and then, in a parallel moment of shame and glee, my eyes fell upon my Young Women’s Medallion. [Note to reader: In my church we have a program that allows young women to earn what they call a “Young Womanhood Recognition” award, similar to a young man earning his Eagle Scout. The crowning piece of recognition has come in various forms over the years. At the time I received mine, it came in the form of a gold, oval shaped medallion. Much like an Eagle Scout award, it seldom gets worn again.] Unsure of its value, I imagined Satan’s lips curling up in Grinch-like fashion as I tossed my medallion into a bag to take to the coin shop.

“I’m not sure if it’s plated, or solid, or even if it’s worth anything,” I explained to the owner.
“Well, the only way to find out is to cut into it. If it IS real, it will ruin it,” he warned.
I hung my head, suddenly ashamed that I even considered this and walked out the door.
“I regret that it has come to this,” I replied.
“Works for me!” I announced.

He got to work.
Cut.
Pour suspicious liquid over surface.
Watch it fizz.
Rub on a strange surface.
Declare to unfit medallion holder, “Well, it’s solid 10 karat gold. Which works out to about...(punching into the calculator) thirty-three dollars."
I agreed to the transaction, he wrote a check, I immediately went to the bank to make the deposit, and then celebrated the fact that I just hocked my YW medallion for an amount of money that would probably buy us both a bagel once we actually got to Hawaii.

When I came clean to Cory about my jewelry incident, I was prepared for him to be slightly disappointed with my cavalier regard for it. But in an unprecedented turn of events he not only wasn’t disappointed, but he LAUGHED!!! And he laughed HARD! Thus proving to me once and for all that there will never be another man for me.

In conclusion:
Trip to Hawaii: $5200
YW Medallion: $33
Bagels and Juice: $32.99
Selling my soul to the devil for $33, some bagels and a laugh: Priceless

Thursday, December 13, 2007

She's just not that into you

If my best friend was my boyfriend, I'd think we were only a date away from the "let's just be friends" talk. She's been trying to take me out for my birthday for two weeks now, but the juggling of two family schedules, Christmas, and both of our husbands on business trips has complicated our efforts. But if my best friend was my boyfriend and said he couldn't go out Friday night because it "conflicted with an HOA meeting", I'm pretty sure I'd think our relationship was on the rocks.

While on the phone with each other yesterday we tried again to find a good time. "Monday? During the day?" We both pondered and thought it had potential. Then she said, "Let's TENTATIVELY THINK about it." Tentatively think? I laughed and joked that it didn't get much more non-committal than that.

I guess it's a good thing we're already "just friends".

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Christmas Card Needs

If Maslow were still around, I think he would have a separate hierarchy of needs for Christmas cards, and I believe it would go as follows:

First, there is the basic essential human need for a Christmas card. This is the basest of all cards, consisting of the pre-printed greeting and a signed name. Not ideal, but still better than bills and craft store coupons.

Next we have the card with the letter but no pictures. While not including a picture is disappointing, points are gained if the letter is funny. Points are lost if you talk too much about your 3-year-old speaking multiple foreign languages or mastering long division, but are regained if you share a story about them saying/doing something embarrassing in public. Any points gained by including a letter are immediately revoked if you write more than 2 pages. And really, if you write that much it had better be good.

Level 3 involves a card, and a letter, AND a picture. You are approaching perfection in the Christmas card world, but lose credibility if the picture is only of your kids. I don't care how cute you think they are, they're usually not all that. But major points for including all three card elements. However, when pictures and letter are included, actual card loses some significance and may not be necessary. Again, any points lost can be regained if you bring the funny.

Finally, self-actualization on the Christmas card pyramid. This is achieved with or without a card, but most definitely includes a letter of some sort which must consist of at least one self-deprecating reference and zero mention of your pets. Critical at this level is the photo that includes a picture of everyone in the family regardless of weight gain or hair loss. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to solicit a Photoshop tutorial on "How to shave off 30 pounds from your Christmas card photo."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

for one more day


Have you heard about this book? It's the story of a man who gets the chance to spend one more day with his mother who passed away 8 years earlier. I haven't read it yet, but I'm familiar with the sentiment it's intended to ignite. And that is, If you had one more day to spend with a loved one you had lost, who would it be and what would you do? I've given this a lot of thought, and I think I have come up with my answer. But first, another question.

What if you never really got one day in the first place?

I'll never forget hearing my sister's voice as she called me from the hospital. "I lost the baby," she said. The walls in my room went blurry, the voices of my kids downstairs faded into background noise, and my eyes caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror across the room from where my slumped figure sat on the bed. "What??!" I managed to ask, in the kind of voice that blends a gasp with confusion and disbelief. She seemed to be testing out the words herself, as if saying them out loud would either help it sink in or make her wake up from a bad dream. She repeated, "I lost the baby." I could hear the shock and confusion in her voice, and I struggled to process her words which seemed so disconnected from reality. This seemed impossible. She was only two weeks away from being induced, and though we knew that the little girl she was carrying had Down Syndrome, everything seemed to be going fine. I tried to be of comfort but fell pathetically short, as I guess anyone would. I would have thought that after all the years we spent together in this life as sisters, I would have something else to say besides "I love you", but suddenlty the space in my head and the air around me felt void of words and it was all I had to offer. There seemed to be nothing to do but cry. Which I did. For days. The thought of imagining my sister the very next day in a hospital, forced to deliver her baby girl whose cries would never vibrate the room was excruciating.

I flew out to California a few days later for a memorial service at their home where I watched in awe as my sister and her husband navigated their new territory. I was in the room when I had to listen to her re-explain to her 3-year-old daughter that she would be unable to give her baby sister the stuffed animal that she had picked out, but that she was more than welcome to put it in the casket. And, "...yes mommy's sad, but I love you."

It's been a little over a year now, and I still do a little knee jerk every time I see a little girl with Down Syndrome. Because I wanted the chance to be her aunt, to shower her with love and to beat up any mean kids who were ever...well...mean to her. I wanted my kids to be able to play with her and love her at our family reunions. I envisioned her older siblings who would have spoiled her on ridiculous levels. I imagined her being the best thing that ever happened to our whole family.

I. I. I.

Enough about me, what about my sister? That's why, after giving it a lot of thought, I would choose to give MY day to HER, to spend with her baby girl. Except the baby would be old enough tell her what a great mom she is, and that she's sorry it's hard, and that she loves her. She would smile back, give great hugs, and smear Cheerios into the carpet.

Just one day. Yes, I believe that's what I would do.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Deep Thoughts

Remember the days when overalls were cute and trendy?

*sigh* I miss that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What I Know For Sure - Vol IV

1. I don't care if they still sell it at the Nordstrom counter, Polo cologne only smelled good in the 80's. And if one of you could please pass this information on to the clerk at my grocery store I will love you forever.
2. Some people should never wear midriffs
3. And by "some" I mean "all"
4. The Bravo series "Real Housewives of Orange County" is horrible television, and I can't take my eyes off of it.
5. Five days of diarrhea can be an effective weight loss enhancer
6. You don’t have to be European to feel passionate about nutella
7. When water leaks from my shower, it comes through the light in my family room
8. $350 will fix the igniter on your furnace
9. $600 will get you two license plates on a new car
10. Both on the same day will encourage binge eating

Monday, December 3, 2007

Coincidence?

No. If I'm being truthful, the answer would be "no", I'm not interested in meeting Dr. Phil in person. So hopefully no one in my family (or friends posing as such) visits his website, because I shudder to think what would happen if they came upon this. Please, don't get any ideas. Unless the airfare to Los Angeles is included.