Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas with the family

Busy is the season but had a few minutes to write up this past weekends events. First off, my parents came into town on Thursday night. It was a relaxing night, we settled in and tried to remedy the cold we are all harboring.
The next day, my sister drove down from Evanston, WY and as we were already a tight household in my 1200sqft house, we managed.

She brought with her, her husband, three boys and one daughter-in-law with their little (nearly) two year old son.

It has been a while since there was a baby in the family and Hunter is the latest addition. Just makes the holidays a little more fun to have a toddler in the mix.
My dogs have also not had any children around and it took them quite a while to settle down and give him some peace, but then, he warmed to them and vise-verse.
My daughter scavenged our house for toys fit for a youngster and found two singing toys. Hunter barely let them out of his sight. Here he is with my sisters youngest, Christopher. (Pardon the towel on the floor, it was wet outside and what is outside- comes inside.)

Here is hunters daddy, Anthony. Once again, avoiding the curious dogs. And their wet tongues.

My mother may not forgive me for posting this picture as she cant believe she was in so much red and that we let her do it! But wanted to share, Hunter helped everyone open their presents.

Cassidy, My sisters third child, in the back, is more interested in the football game than the presents.
Hunter moves on to the next present. Not sure what Chantel is doing here... and the football game got more snow than we did. However- we are to get ours today.

What holiday is complete without funky board games? Rachel had to hold a spoon in her mouth for two whole turns... Ignore the messiness of the holiday, we have been sick-- gees!

then Chantel had to feel our faces, to figure out who was who.... If we could have only held in the giggles, she never would have known.

My sister and family had to leave town yesterday afternoon, as she has to work today. The surprise that I have not been able to share here is that my son, whom we have not seen since August, is now home. His flight was to come in on Saturday night at 6:00 but because of a reservation glitch and then delays, he didn't arrive until last night at 10:30.

My sister didn't get to see him but we are working out another meet-up before he leaves again on the 3rd of January.
Boy it is difficult to keep a secret like that from my girls.. especially with the delays. But they were so excited to get to see him. And now, I too, will go and share the holidays with him and my family- there is a huge storm coming, time to batten down the hatch.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting into the spirit

I finally broke down and went to the doctor and came home with two different kinds of antibiotics. I am already feeling a little better...
My parents came into town yesterday afternoon, and although my house looks like Hiroshima AFTER the bomb, there is some comfort in family being there. They didn't seem nearly as mortified as my imagination warned me they would be.
We had a pretty laid back night, enjoying each others company and catching up on the past few weeks. I went back to work today, been out nearly 4 days, and we are to have our Christmas lunch today. There was a good sized snowstorm again yesterday and we are expecting a doozie this afternoon, so the drive home will be challenging at best.
My sister is coming down from Wyoming this afternoon or this evening, and I wish her a safe trip as I think there will be worse storming North of here, and they will be coming 'over the mountains. I was hoping to have so much more done this week and being able to blog blog blog on the festivities, but, I am so far behind, it will all have to wait.
If I am absent for a few days, please, Have a happy Holiday and as Paul Harvey used to say, stay tuned for the rest of the story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

HO! HO! Hum!

I want to be in the Christmas spirit. I really do! But After attending a Christmas party with a lot of old friends at a local 'watering hole' last Friday night. And then turning right around Saturday night and going to another bar with a friend, I caught a nasty nasty bug. I was down for the count Sunday, and even called in sick both Monday and yesterday too. All I feel like I have done for 3 days is sleep and I still feel like I have run a marathon.
My family is all coming to stay with me this weekend, and I am so excited! A big surprise I cannot share here right now is also coming this weekend. But- I am not ready.

I haven't finished my shopping, I haven't washed the sheets, there are tissues and dishes all over from my 'camp out on the couch'.

And- As you recall from my previous post? My Grinch tree is still in the exact same spot as it was a week ago! My house is half decorated.
So many things to do. I am feeling a lot better but now I am cursed with the fatigue that often follows three days in bed. So really- I WANT to be in the Christmas Spirit.. but not quite there yet. This is what I woke up to yesterday morning as i was feeling the chills of my chest cold....I love the first big snowstorm of the year!

Exception: When I have a cold in my head and chest!


I did get out to the girls concert last night, many more people watching anecdotes I would share if I didn't think that anyone reading here might think me a tad bit of a cynic. (Although I am SURE the woman next to me had chicken for dinner- that is all I am saying)
The Chorus teacher insists on holding the concert in a darkened room lit only by Christmas decor and lights, which makes for crummy photography especially when you have a camera like the one I have stolen from my daughter... But I managed to get a couple of darling photo's.
I would like to share:

Now- Gotta run and get some shopping done....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ever Heard the Twelve Pains of Christmas?

Last night, We felt the Christmas lights pain, like labor pain! Just like the song above entails...
But this is good- it is good for my girls to know that life isn't easy right? That not all things are as easy as plugging in the wall socket and lighting up your day! Right? of course I'm right! If you are one of those who cannot deal with pain, and frustration- leave now.
A few years back we finally broke down and purchased an artificial tree. I hated it. I love the smell of a fresh cut tree. However, that is the problem, unless you actually cut the tree yourself, it isn't freshly cut.
Last night, the girls were both home, a rarity these days. So we put on some soup and sandwiches and decided to get the house ready for Christmas! This started out pretty well, although I was beginning to feel tired and a little under the weather- I think my girls cold germs got to me.
So we began: Rachel trimming the the bough
Hmm- Not sure about that bow- But I didn't have the heart to tell her. (Will have to come up with another option and change her mind!)
Then she set up the nativity:

Then the trouble started... And my point of this.

We pulled out the tree and I knew, from last year, that one of the three sections had a burnt out bulb, so we had to adorn it with a secondary set. But, last night as we plugged it in, nothing. Not one Blinking light! Or not blinking light for that matter! So, I sent my older daughter to the store for one of those light testers. Then I began to look for the insidious light.. I am generally, by nature, a patient person. But after the instructions informed me that, due to the reading I was getting on the little green and red lights, there was 'more than one light on the string' burned out, and that the only remedy would be to test each individual light-by-light pulling each one out and touching onto the leads of the tester.
Well, here - See for yourself!

Can you see the thousands of light bulbs we are talking about here? I am sure that when we purchased the tree, that was a huge selling point for us! Now? When one or more bulbs are not working? Notsomuch!

My older daughter and I spent the rest of the evening (whilst my youngest completed math assignments) slowly and tediously separating the light strings, which I am - one-hundred percent sure of now- were not meant to EVER be separated, from the tree branches.

O.K.- so I am sure that my posting here, just doesn't do justice to the agony we endured... However, I just know that some of you have at one time, or maybe many times, felt the same Christmas pain I describe.- We won't even discuss our outdoor house lights. If there wasn't a pain, there wouldn't be a song!

This is a gorgeous albeit small tree, and although trees are getting quite cheap now, in many ways more than price, I just couldn't bring myself to throw it out. So, now, In my living room stands a very naked, and very pretty grinchified tree. I say grinchified because as we had held each of the three sections on our laps yanking and pulling the branches in every conceivable direction,- lets just say they lost their tree-like silhouette. We were so tired and so 'sick of the tree' by the time the last bulb was pulled from the bough, that we just quickly assembled it and went to bed. Let's just say it resembles this:

-At the present time.

But Saturday morning we should be able to 'spruce' it up so to speak, while sipping our morning coffee and tea.

This guy!? No help at all. Infact- If the task could get any more troublesome- he was hell-bent on making sure of that. Like any great dog, under your feet, sniffing all the totally cool, colorful new 'toys' in the room!

We had tried out a new recipe for Snicker bar Crescent rolls, they sounded pretty good, however, we were not impressed... I think maybe I didn't use enough butter- alright, so I omitted the butter.... my bad. Anyhow, they sat on the cookie sheet in the kitchen, untouched... BlackJack- (The pooch Seen above) sat with his nose against the oven for approximately 2 hours, subtlely whining... wondering why we would let such a delicacy sit uneaten for so long. At one point his nose was a mere inch from a roll my daughter had on a plate next to her. He didn't eat it, he didn't try to get it, he just sat, still, staring at it while dreams of sugar plums....danced in his head. We will surly be turned in to PETA soon, cruel he says. So keep your fingers crossed that we actually get the tree looking festive before the festivities begin.. and that will be a week early for us this year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homework for the Holidays

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour."- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Rachel is still behind on her school work, we are working on it though. Last night, she was in a tired, agitated mood and felt overwhelmed. In her English class they were supposed to read 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens. The class had been discussing the story together. Rachel had begun reading it and the old English writing was difficult for her to decipher. She had given up and was no surprise, falling behind. I had offered a few days earlier (when we had a slow Sunday morning)to help her all I could, even read it together.

This was an old custom we used to share, the three kids and I, in the years following the divorce. We would choose a small Christmas story and read it together during the weeks before Christmas. It was a nice custom, all in our comfy sweats or PJ's climbed onto my bed and depending on the size of the book, and they ages of the kids, either take turns reading a page, or a chapter.

Not only did it get us in the spirit, but it was some quality time spent. (when they were younger, it also got them to read more)

So, Last night, Rachel and I got into our comfees and snuggled up in a throw and began the book.

And let me tell you, that was some pretty tough reading, even for me. We finished the entire book in just under three hours. stopping once to heat up some chicken noodle soup and tea to warm us up.

How sweet it was to snuggle up. She is my baby, my youngest. I don't have too many more days like this left. When she was a baby, as I mentioned in my toast to my children, She was not a cuddly baby. But it seems the older she gets, the more she is. I love this!
We finished the book about an hour before our regular bedtime, but she is just getting over a cold, and went to bed early.
I only wish I could be as eloquent with the written word as Dickens.
- Side note: My first name (given at birth, is Shani) I was named after an actress who appeared in a movie based on a Dickens' story- Oliver. too cool! I love serendipity.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's Mine is Yours

Raising teenage girls has for the most part, been a blast! We shop together, like the same movies, like to eat at the same restaurants, have the same playful and goofy demeanor. We are like best friends. The girls can talk to me about anything, I think.
We just enjoy each others company.
Although I have a really great relationship to my son too, there is just a special bond between a mother and her daughters.

Does this bond carry over to sharing clothes? Ugh! Most times without consent!

I have never been one who wears out clothes and shoes. Don't know why, my sister could get a new pair of sneakers the first week of school, by November hers would have holes and the sole would be hanging on, and even grass stains. I was her polar opposite, shoes would last me well into the next year. This pleased my mother, however, wanting to fit in with the new style each year, this could be a bit disheartening for me.
My sister and I rarely had the same tastes in style, and I don't recall we ever wore the same size shoe. So most times she would need a new pair not long after getting her first pair, and my mom always tried to be fair so I too would get to choose a new (albeit cheap) pair. So I most always had more.
With my daughters, one wears a size 6 1/2 tiny- one wears an 8 1/2 or even a 9. They also have a difference in taste. So there is not much in the way of stealing or sharing shoes. Clothes are another story entirely!
Lucky me! Not only can both my girls fit into almost all my shoes. But also most of my clothes. Things of mine that go into the wash- never to return. This would not be so bad, other than the times I actually want to wear something that I cannot find, something that is mine. But my girls seem to have my sisters genes when it comes to clothing wear. Things just never come back in the condition they were when they went AWOL.
Just the other night, while watching TV together, I looked over at my oldest daughter, nice clean white glistening tennis shoes... they caught my eye because her shoes never look that new- not even when they are new!
Thing is, I don't even wear the latest styles. Not that I don't want to. But after attempting to keep them up on their own fashions, not much in the way of funds for dear old mom. So why is it that mine are so appealing? Boring, no brand names, no cool logos.
Ahh yes- They are well taken care of!
Even as I sit and write this, I notice odd colored stains on my winter coat. It has not been out of the closet all summer. I know I didn't put those there!
Pishaw! At least my son doesn't take my clothes- well all of them anyway.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Saturday night

Saturday night, the girls had dates to Preference, a girls choice dance. The new thing to do now on school dance dates is to have a 'Day date'. Activities can include, dinner, bowling, mini-golf, any number of things that teens like to do on regular dates I suppose to let them get out and have a relaxed and casual time before getting all 'spiffed up'. A time to get wild and crazy without worrying about ruining a rented tux or $200 dress.

Rachel's date consisted of only dinner at a local Mexican food restaurant and the dance. Which was plenty- I have no photos of her as their driver (a girl from another couple) picked her up before picking up her date, so I will post them when they get the dance pictures back.

She did however get these from her dad, while they were primping for the dates.
(And another dozen pink roses from her date at the dance- SCORE!)

Beautiful, and VERY unexpected! As a mother I cannot help but think that my other daughter felt a slight pang of hurt. Not by my younger daughter, more the fact that her 16th and so many other birthdays for all of my children, just didn't cross his mind.

He is just not the type of person who thinks beyond his nose... But no sense worrying about that. He will NEVER 'Get it'. And - It was great for Rachel!

Chantel's Pre-date, date was a movie and snacks at our house.
Although they were to eat a large, expensive meal at one of those Benihana type Japanese steakhouse's and they girls didn't want to ruin their appetites, the boys managed to fit both.

Chantel chose a movie called 'I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry' a comedy about two men who pose as domestic partners in order that Chuck can get pension benefits for his kids. The movie was hilarious but had some parts that made the teens blush to have me in the room. Nothing wrong with that! Was kinda fun for me to watch them squirm!
There were some side-effects to the movie watching however....

Exhibit A:

Chantel, Brandon, Josh and Josh's Date Jenn

Watching the movie... but then!!!!

Exhibit B-
The boys took the movie a LITTLE too Literally!
Your dates are the girls!!
Then they went home and got gorgeous...
Sorry about the red eye. I really need a new camera!

Doesnt Josh look like a man from those old time- old west pictures in that second one?
He and Brandon almost look like free standing, cut-out dates. Or that they belong in Madame Tussaud's famous museum.
More pictures from both dates forthcoming...
I just love being a mother of teenagers who love life and try to stay out of the drugs, drink and drama (soap opera kind)!

Friday Night Blues--- Aqua?

My baby turned 16 on Saturday December 6th, 2008. She wanted a party but didn't want to break the bank of her poor mother right before Christmas.

Here she is in her birthday suit. I mean- the outfit she got from me a day early so she could wear it to school. The sash was her sisters idea so she could announce her birthday at school. A fun thing when you are 16- as opposed to 39. (Not that I would know, I am completely guessing how a 39 yr old would feel- must suck to be that old)

When my older daughter turned 16, we were in a similar monetary famine and had opted for a karaoke party. This would save us a lot of money because we had the sound system already. (I have moonlighted as a Karaoke DJ a few times for spare change, and we have a 350 disk set with microphones and the whole deal). The only thing we ended up spending money on were, Balloons (Helium tank supplied by a man who was in my life at the time), some snacks, and $50 to rent the old recreation hall down the street.

This party however, was a little bit more challenging as my daughter had invited 40 people and this time of the year, EVERYTHING is booked. So, our 1000 sq.ft house was the scene.

Luckily, only a handful of the invited guests could make it, which was better as they were her closest friends anyway. The party went off great! A friend of mine showed up to help me keep an eye on things, which was more of a chit-chat session for us due to the smaller attendance.
Rachel had a busy schedule the preceding week, running tech (lights and sound) for the Christmas programs at school two nights, then she worked on Wednesday and Thursday nights until closing. So Chantel and I went shopping for and decorated for the party for her. Here is the food spread , which was gone in seconds flat! i certainly didnt buy enough for all the teenagers and thier bottomless stomachs.

The cake!- To me, was a fiasco- But to Rachel, it was great!
A friend of Rachel's, has a mother who works in the bakery of a local grocery store. She had offered to make a special cake for Rachel, in lieu of a present. Sweet of them to offer such a thing. The week prior to the party, they even let Rachel come up with her own design, and as she loves the color aqua, that was her choice of frosting color. They even mentioned a tiered cake. Great huh? BUT! Fast forward to 2 hours before the party- Rachel calls and informs me, that I need to pick up the cake, the girls mother had to work and they wont have time to drop it off. Also, that they are tight on money, and just cant afford to 'gift' it after all.

Side note: I know all about being tight for money- I know all about feeling the pinch this time of year.. But, I don't offer to pay for something, for someone if I cannot follow through. Needless to say, it was for my daughter, already made, and to her specifications ( I was a little concerned because I know how my daughter can be when left open with options) So, I went to get it.

I met the other mother, sweet lady, she was so proud of the cake. Nothing was said regarding payment. She ran to get the cake, showed it to me, and explained how she had created it as Rachel intended (minus the tiers, which turns out, cost way more). However, It was difficult for me to keep a straight face as she opened the lid. BORING, not even artistic, I cant bake, I cannot write legibly with frosting and yet, I could have made a MUCH better cake. The hardest part for me was, I was worried Rachel would be disappointed. Even though my children are not complainers, they take what they get without complaint 99% of the time. Also the fact that I could have bought another cake, a better cake, somewhere else at a LOT cheaper price had we been offered this one. I guess you should not look a gift horse... oh wait, this was not a gift!
I brought it in the house, entering with all the disclaimers to ease Rachels reaction. An how the cake does not make the party.. but ..... Rachel LOVED it! Whew!

The party went off with only a few minor quirks, a last minute dash to the neighboring town to pick up one guest, A sad and confused guest who chose to entertain by shooting staples into his arm then lying outside in the dark in the middle of the street. Great timing too just as one parent was arriving to pick up thier child and see him in their headlights. And me ( the bad parent chaperon) on the porch goading him back into the safety of the party. I guess I wont be nominated as PTA parent of the month.
There was also a small tad of teenage drama, from a guest who was not even on the invite list.

But- Rachel had the time of her life! And that is what is important is it not?
Presents were opened, wishes made, She really has some thoughtful and very close friends. Her 'guy' is the one in the white shirt at her feet. He gave her jewelry- and the comments from some of the other males at the party made me think they were told (I assume by him) NOT to get her jewelry. Am I the only one who finds that a tad bit creepy? and clingy? Hmmm better keep a close eye on this one. Many Pigs were seen at the party, no- not the guests!- they are Rachel's 'thing'. No Rachel, you still cannot have a pot bellied pet. - And yes- that is a gift bag on her head. Drama students are a whole different breed I say.
Tears were shed for a few more personal gifts. Awwww. Poor girl, you got your mothers Genes.

Next, the party moved back to the kitchen to 'the cake' Sparkler candles were lit, scared the crowd a little, then 'The wish'. It took about 10 minutes for her to get up enough wind to blow them all out.

Deven, her 'guy' made the mistake of saying that he wasn't really a cake person and didn't want a piece. Next thing he knew, Rachel was insisting he have some. REALLY insisting! Note: Although I'm slow and the camera slower still, contrary to the following picture, he did NOT shove this into his own face.

And then: Retaliation

And then: The 'Best Friend'
(Note the cell phone usage in the forefront- there was more of this at the party than all the other activity)

Another friend
Then:- All hell broke loose!

The 'Guest of Honor'

Yuck! Yuck! and more Yuck! Aqua Monsters!

Note to self: Don't put drama students and cake in the same room! However, I feel better about the cake now. I know, I know, let it go.

The end of the night, there was cake EVERYWHERE! We are still finding aqua frosting, ( I insist on saying aqua just as many times as Rachel did when deciding on her party colors.. not blue- not green- AQUA!)

It is also relative to the number of times that one guest mentioned his 'brand new socks' Which i am nearly positive was a Freudian slip regarding his mothers potential reaction upon seeing Aqua frosting on them. He (and most of the males) managed to avoid the frosting war for a long time, cowering in the next room, but it was futile.

Rachel ended up jumping in the shower, clothing and all, to clean up. Some of the guests washed, some went home aqua-fied!

Just after the 'cake fight' one parent arrived, to the girl I had picked up prior to the party, in her abercrombie hoodie. I watched out the open front door as she approached their car, covered in 'Aqua frosting' I heard laughter and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. I am sure you could hear the breath leave my lungs to the next county! So far- no angry parent phone calls.

However, we ARE still finding frosting, aqua colored, all over the house in the strangest places, in the pantry, on the shower curtain, under the bathroom sink, under the couch, and so many more I am sure we will be finding it until her 80th birthday! When we sell the house we will have to put it in as an incentive to buy.
A few crime scene photos -For the court case:

I am happy to report, the the mess was quickly cleaned up by the crew! Mostly the boys while the girls were cleaning themselves up in the bathroom. SWEET! cant ask for more than that! And they did a great job! Even the guy with the 'brand new socks'. (I suppose once you have a spot- there is no use crying over aqua stained socks!)
After the party- When all the guests had headed home to scrape the hardened frosting from their scalps, feet, between thier toes and off thier faces, the dogs, who had watched the whole party from the outside of the sliding door, were let back in. Like a tornado, they ran through the house sniffing EVERYTHING, the smell of teenagers and party food, and candles and ...

Then they both came to a dead stop!

And discovered that this funky green- er Aqua, stuff on the floor actually tasted yummy! And all that was left from the clean-up crew, was lapped up in a matter of seconds!
The birthday was a success and went off beautifully.
Happy Birthday Baby!!!! I love you!
But I think I have hit my Aqua er ---quota!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Creativity is amiss

I have been perusing other blogs over the past couple days and I love how creative the writing is, childhood memories, and deep thoughts. I love to write creatively, however, here on this blog, I just cant get the juices flowing if you know what I mean.

I have funny childhood stories, I get into sidesplitting laughter with my sister every time we get reminiscent of our childhood escapades. My close friends all know what a Murphy-law type life i lead. There are many many humorous anecdotes in this brain, and I will put them here as soon as I can figure out how to start.
I suppose this is the reason I have yet to start my novel. Or as it is, finish the one I started 4 years ago. I wonder if this is how all writers begin?
and so, for now. you will have to wait for the wit!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How time flies!

Goodness! I have not had a minute to sit let alone come up with anything semi-witty to say.

The thanksgiving week was great! my parents came into town Wednesday night and stayed until Monday just after lunch.

They were not the reason I have not had time to blog necessarily. But time with family was great.
Wednesday night we completely absent-minded-ly forgot the homeless dinner we help with every year! Duh- There we were home, baking pies, readying the house for the grandparents, it totally slipped our minds.

Oh well, the way it turned out, we barely got the pie finished by bed time anyway.

Sorry to you needy! However, it is a big event and sometimes the volunteers are too plentiful and stumbling over one another to serve or clean anyway. Nope- still doesn't make me feel less guilty.
After my parents arrived in town with my mothers sister Karen, in tow, we had about an hour to chat with her while she waited for my cousins to show up to get her. That too was nice as i don't get to see her as often as I would like to.

The next morning we woke up and began making the thanksgiving feast- sans the Turkey, ham, potatoes, and relish plate that my mothers youngest sister (the host) was to supply. Well that, AND the house we ate at.

I got creative, -which I should not be allowed to do on a traditional holiday-, and decided to try some flavorful breads in my herb stuffing this year. I had sent my daughters off to the store with instruction to get one loaf of sourdough and one loaf of another darker bread. Possibly a Pumpernickel or a Rye? My younger daughter voiced her distaste for rye, and so, I received a beautiful dark loaf of fragrant pumpernickel. [The stuffing turned out OK, but a later batch using 2/3 sourdough to 1/3 pumpernickel was much better].

Dad also got creative. As he is not the cook on thanksgiving and really, most other days too, but was craving deviled eggs. So he asked how hard they were, and with a little direction, made some pretty darn good eggs.
Mom made her sweet potatoes, and parsnips,. Rachel created some cordon bleu asparagus wraps. Then we loaded up all the food, and some pie and headed off.

It was about half the crowd we normally have. My cousin, her son, was back in Guatemala he had served his LDS mission there, went back to visit, and met a girl. her oldest daughter was at her in-laws, and my son was in Alabama still. ( my first thanksgiving without all my kids). But dinner was delicious and games and chit chat afterward was typical of this family.

Now- let me get off subject (thanksgiving I mean) for just one moment.
I would like to point out a peculiarity in this family. (one of, oh so many)

Let me preface- My mother is the oldest in her family of 5 girls. Maxine my mother is the oldest, followed closely in age by Diane then Karen, then a few years down are Dawn and the youngest - Beth.
It was Beth's house we spent thanksgiving at. It has been said by many- that of the 5 sisters, Maxine the oldest, and Beth the youngest, look the most alike.

Beth has been married more than once and her children are spread out in age. She is also only about 10 years older than me. At the time she was having her youngest (twin girls) I had already had two of my kids. This is a picture of my two girls, and her twins.

I think that they would be considered to be second cousins? Anyway- there is a point to this. The first girl, is my baby, Rachel turning 16 on Saturday Dec. 6. . Next to her, Jessica 17, then My older daughter Chantel 17. and then her other twin Erica. The craziness? Her twins could very well have been twins with my girls.

Rachel and Jess?

Drama students, scholars, both wore glasses at a very young age, same personalities to a Tee!

Erica and Chant? Boys, boys, boys, sports, clothes, hair, makeup, wore glasses later in thier teens. Again- personalities? to a tee!

and even thought the twins are identical, can you see the similarities to my girls? It is crazy. And I am their mother, well to two of them.

Just thought I would share the madness!

Cranium and another game, imaginiff got so out of control

That these guys:

Could no longer 'hear' their football game- who needs sound in a football game?! Don't you make your own calls anyway?

Hey guys! He who yells the loudest...

................wins the game?

But it was a lot of fun, we had some good times and way too much food and pie. Then hurried home, we weren't hitting the sales early on black Friday but Beth had to work at 4am. UGH! I better call and make sure she is still breathing.

the rest of the weekend was just a lot of shopping, family, some Mexican train matches (if you have not played it, you should) and more turkey and pie.

On Sunday night, as we had left all the leftovers at Beth's, we cooked up a second thanksgiving dinner. Still not sick of it. And it gave me a chance to tweak the stuffing recipe with a little less pumpernickel.

I met mom and dad for lunch Monday on their way out of town. Cant wait to see them again at Christmas.

Jeremy also called this weekend. He was able to participate in an adopt a soldier program. He was adopted by a local family and had thanksgiving with them in their home. If he couldn't be with us, I was glad that he still had the family atmosphere. He mentioned their dog, and how she resembled ours. he got their contact information and made some lifelong friends. How sweet is that?!? We sure miss him!

Well, that is our holiday- in a nutshell. Not too different from many a blog entry for Nov. 21st.

Happy belated Thanksgiving. I will attempt to keep up with this, but this time of the year, it is hard to find the time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scary Scary- The Ice Man

In speaking with one of management here at work at the beginning of this month, it came up in conversation, that we were both a little fascinated by serial killers. Not in a groupie kind of way- more of a 'how could someone be so calculating and smart and so stone cold too' kind of way.
I had mentioned that I had recently been reading an account of some interviews with Ted Bundy, a serial killer known to have been right here in the area I grew up in back in the 70's when I was just a baby.
My co-worker mentioned that he has just watched a documentary on television depicting the life and crime of a mob killer who went by the name 'The Ice Man' and how chilling it was to him (my coworker) to see.
Later that week (a couple weeks ago) he mentioned that he had purchased a book about Richard Kuklinski (the mob contract killer) and was mortified by what he was reading but couldn't put it down. He finished it in less than a week and offered it to me to read. I began Reading the book (all 61 chapters) last Friday Nov. 21st. and like the friend who offered it, I cannot seem to put it down. i am repulsed by his lack of empathy for human life, and yet at the same time, so sad for his childhood. He, the monster, was CREATED by his circumstances. And honestly it is frightening me so much. I had a hard time sleeping last night, after reading a few chapters. i am about half-way through the book now and have been told this half is worse than the first.
I am thankful though, that in the middle of this madness will be thanksgiving, a time for me to reflect on just how much i have to be thankful for. I have a very loving and close family- I was not abused as this man was in his early childhood or thereafter... and I was not nor did I know any of his victims. Not that I could have- back in the 40's thru the 80's in New Jersey.
However- reading stories like that certainly makes you take account of your own life, and how small any struggles seem in the big picture.
I think that when my parents get here in town tomorrow night, I will take a break from the book for the long weekend. Clear my head a little bit. It truly is one of the most emotionally charged books I have read. It actually brought me to tears in a few chapters. Both for his own hurt- and those of his victims.
But- This is going to be a great holiday! getting to see my parents and other relatives... I cant wait.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yummy Pot Pies

Just stopping in for a bit- don't have much time to write.

Last night there was just a teensie bit of chill in the air, So I sent my 17 yr old on some errands that I didn't want to do, and well she is chomping at the bit to get the car. Then I pulled out some left over pork roast from Sunday and whipped up these cute little pot pies.

I didn't take the time to journal-ize this recipe but it is so simple. Start out your pan like many other recipes, with a little olive oil, some onion and some garlic, add stock, I used a whole carton of beef stock. Then chop up any veggies you like, we used Carrots, potatoes and some corn because that was what we had. Throw in some spices to your liking.

Note: Do not spill the pepper into the pot like I did unless you have a box of tissue handy- whew! can really clean out your head!

While the pot simmered for about 30 minutes, I readied the crusts, I cheated, I had some 'pie in a box' crusts in the refrigerator.

When the stock was done I used a smidgen of half-and-half with some corn starch to thicken the gravy, then poured into bowls and covered with dough. This can be fun when you have more time. I have seen the cutest crusts.. however, I only had time and energy for some simple strips criss-crossed.

Threw them all in the oven for another 30-40 minutes. (The larger pie is made from my extra 'gravy', hoping it is even better the second day- even with too much pepper) I love, love, love, these bowls, safe for the dishwasher, oven and microwave. But I am down to only four. Darn things keep getting dropped.

Anyhoo- These little pies hit the spot!

On a side note: I notice every once in a while that my 'readership' is increasing. Sure would love a comment... always fun to know what lurkers think of my ramblings..

Just click on the link below and write me a hello, a sentence, or a novel. I welcome all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


When I started this blog, I actually intended it to be a bit of a diary of the life of a single mother. I wanted other mother's single or married, to be able to come here and see that life as a mother is not always easy. That there are good days and bad.
Lately, I have been sidetracked with the fun events of this time of year. I also have been a little leery of sharing too much as I am a Libra and hate to offend. When I think of challenges with my ex husband for instance, I catch myself worrying if he ever caught sight of this site, would he feel hurt that this is one sided? or my children, when we have struggles, will they feel bad when I share it with the world? My parents, Friends, how can I blog of experiences without spilling my guts about them?
But then, that too is one of my challenges, albeit an internal challenge.
Last night was a rough one. My youngest and most forthright of my three, is falling behind on her school work, literally not doing it! She claims to be too tired, too stressed, and even too lazy. However, when it comes time for 'fun' activities, birthdays (her own 16th is in two weeks), or time for friends, somehow energy presents itself.
I admit, I have been a little lax in recent years with the kids. In part, out of exhaustion. After working a full 8-hour day, night school 3-4 nights a week and then hours upon hours of my own homework, there was not always enough of me left to 'enforce' the rules, as much as I should have.
Not that my kids run wild, I was there, I was a parent, Just not as good as maybe I could have been, had I had a little less on my plate.
I have been extremely lucky in the fact that my kids generally have really great self-discipline, and seem to keep themselves on track pretty well with little supervision. Of course their rooms look like Hiroshima AFTER the bombs and there have been some moments when I have had to really come down on them, but for the most part, I am/have been lucky.
Last night, was one of the 'other' moments. The night started out well enough. I left work early to take them to the orthodontist, there was talk about the possibility of braces removal... however that is not to be- yet. Rachel possibly will get hers off in January-Chantel maybe February.
We stopped on the way home for a snack as I had missed lunch. Then we hurried home to get cleaned up. My youngest had work, and my older daughter had an awards ceremony for her color guard/ marching band.
The ceremonies were great, a lot of fun and I even saw an old high school classmate of mine. Her son attends the same school. That was fun.
Then we got home...laying sprawled out on the couch, was my younger daughter, (the one who is about a million assignments behind) the one who had every excuse in the book why there was not enough time for all of her responsibilities... She had been let off work early due to slow business.
The fact that she had extra time, and wasn't using it to catch up, after all the excuses I had already heard the past few weeks. It hit a nerve! I walked down the hall to drop off some things in my room, passing both her room and her sisters! Again, looking like aftermath of some forgotten war! Her sister was in her own room, a disaster also, and sending a text message to a friend...This has been an issue with my older girl... averaging 8,000-10,000 text messages a MONTH! We are on a plan that allows free unlimited text. There is a reason we are on that plan. Because I could not afford it otherwise... But how do you stop the madness that seems so prevalent? It reminds me of that old shampoo commercial from the 80's? 'So I told two friends, and she told two friends and so on , and so on'.... remember that? Well, that is what a teenage with a cell phone and 30 friends can amount to.
The state of their rooms, the lack of completed assignments, the improper prioritization in the house--- and I lost it! I am sure to my daughters I seemed like the anti-Christ! I'm sure my head was spinning in circles, my skin may have changed shades... and I WENT there..
Where? To the place where parents sometimes go- then regret. Letting loose feelings of frustration, telling them they are not acting their age, that they are no longer kids, they are young adults and should be acting like it. It became a silent anger with my older daughter, to her mothers wrath. It became a screaming match with my younger daughter. Even comparisons with friends who would have run away from home by now. My head hurt, my throat was raw, I'm sure the neighbors had already called child services...from the screaming.
I spun on my heels, walked to my room, alone, and cried. Crocodile tears, cried. This is a defense mechanism that is common (I think) with mothers. Being mothers and becoming the demons we must be sometimes to instill responsibility in our children, hurts us so much more than it hurts them.
My head hurt worse, I let out tears of so many frustrations, not just the kids, not just messy rooms. Struggles with Finances, Holiday stress, Work stress, Busy schedules. And sometimes, it has to release, in its own way.
I figured I would have a good cry, step back out, and speak a little more civilly and apologize for my outburst. But I couldn't stop, the tears flowed freely. Then, before I could gain control myself, my oldest peeked her head in, I could see the empathy on her face. How do I tell her the tears are not her doing? Then my youngest, who by this time had stomped to her room slamming the door behind her, opened up her door and came in my room. She climbed onto my bed alongside me and held me, apologizing for yelling and being obtrusive. I felt horrible. How could they think that all these tears and frustration were their doing? Sure life gives us struggles, challenges, but my children are gifts.
We talked a lot, held each other, but it was late, we were tired, I am sure hormones and estrogen were playing a bit part, and well, again this is a stressful time of year.
But I am glad to say that today is another day. It may sound strange but a good cry did me some good. We were joking and laughing again this morning. The house is filled with love. And--- I think some homework just might get done and rooms cleaned up. Only time will tell. I'll keep you posted.