Monday, December 31, 2007

Baby Love

Teen Angel celebrated her fifteenth birthday yesterday? When did I get so mean, when did she get so grown up? Can she really be fifteen? In one more year, will she actually be dating and driving a car? Lord help us all when she gets on the highway. Lord help her dad when she starts dating. Actually, you should probably pray for any boy who has to get past her dad in order to take the girl on a date. She's so ready for all of this and I am sooooo not ready. Am I the only one who feels like parenting a teenager is like riding an out of control Amtrak train in the middle of Siberia? It's all moving so fast.

She moved quickly from the very beginning with labor pains that started ten minutes apart and burst through my pelvis at what felt like 90 miles per hour. She was birthed so fast I didn't even get my prepaid epidural. And yes, I WAS disappointed about the lack of pain medication. Don't believe any of that hocus pocus about natural birth not being that bad. It freakin' hurts. Two and a half hours of labor, and we were done! In no time at all she was washed and swaddled and I was being rolled over and checked for hemorrhoids. Ah, the humiliation that comes with pregnancy and childbirth. There are so many people who look at your hoo hoo and backside before, during and after childbirth that you start to feel like a display at the Smithsonian. I thought then that the really hard work was over. Little did I know that giving birth is the easiest part of parenting.

The freight train we dubbed Teen Angel zipped through those first few months with early milestones. Tossing her pacifier at six months, walking at nine months. She never really crawled very much. Once she figured out she could move, she stood up and walked. Well, she didn't walk much either, she ran everywhere. She had more speed than balance, bouncing off of walls and door frames like a drunk in a fun house. That girl was in a hurry. In no time at all, she was hopping on a school bus with a big bow in her hair and a gap toothed grin. She lost her teeth early, too. Elementary school brought friends, books and boys. Her first crush was in second grade. Puberty and middle school weren't far behind, and suddenly we arrived at high school. She is a freshman now. How did that happen? It's all moving way too fast.

In three and a half years she will head off to college to get a degree, become wildly successful and support her poor old aging parents who had to sell everything they own for her college education and Big Star jeans. She will likely leave our home in...just..three..and..a..half..years. Gulp. Could someone please slow down this train...just a little bit? I want her to love high school as much as I did and to enjoy college (not in the party like a rock star with every frat boy in sight way), so I will try to hide my "Oh my God my baby isn't a baby" angst and smile and cheer through the next few years. But Lordy this is hard. This really is tougher than the whole, no epidural, hemorrhoid part.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Good Eats

The Hula's are incapable of picking a restaurant on the spur of the moment if there are more than two of us in the car. It requires an act of congress, peace negotiations and a round of rock, paper, scissors in order to settle on a place to eat. Every time we eat out on the weekend, it's an ordeal just to find a restaurant. When it's just me, Teen Angel and Hubby, we literally have to take turns picking a place, but even that system isn't foolproof. We just spent two days shopping in a nearby big city with the rest of the Hula's and spent roughly 40% of our time finding restaurants. Papa T. wants to eat at Cracker Barrel...three times a day...and pouts if he doesn't get it. Teen Angel wants unusual stuff that no one else does like squid and sushi. The rest of us fall somewhere in between, but we have to factor in my colon's intolerance to grease, Mama J.'s need for (massive amounts of) fiber and Hubby's love of beef. We never seem to agree on the same place at the same time. To make things worse, Mama J. wants to worry about a meal six hours before the meal, cranking up our angst early. We'd probably be better off if we just pulled into a Piggly Wiggly and bought a tube of bologna and a box of crackers.

We had been on the road five minutes Wednesday when we discovered that only one person in the car (me) had eaten breakfast and that we should probably eat a meal to avoid everyone being cranky during morning rush traffic at our shopping destination. So, only twelve minutes into our trip we eased into the nearest Cracker Barrel. We all winked at each other, hoping this would get Papa T.'s Cracker Barrel fix out of the way for the rest of the trip. What does the bible say? Pride goeth before a fall? A snack here or there helped us through the rest of the day, and we didn't eat a meal again until around 7pm. Apparently, the was the time all of the other shoppers decided to eat, too because every restaurant we stopped at had a 45 minute wait. We debated Fridays, Texas Roadhouse and all of the other usual suspects. We cussed, fussed and discussed it until we ended up at a Golden Corral buffet. The meal was fine, but we were exhausted from all the effort leading up to it. We repeated this process several times during the rest of the trip with the tension culminating Thursday evening at the Cheesecake Factory. It was at the mall we were visiting, and Sissy and I thought it would be easier on everyone if we just made a reservation there, shopped until our meal time, ate there and saved a repeat of the night before. Well, that didn't work either. It all started when Papa T. decided he couldn't eat there because he doesn't like cheesecake. More cussin', fussin' and discussion lead to three different changes in our plans. We ended up eating at the the Cheesecake Factory after all. We still had a forty minute wait, and we ended up with a booth and not a table, which is not good for Mama J. because she can't get out of a booth once she gets down in it. It was too dark in there for Papa T.'s one good eye. Sissy read the menu to him, but in a childish act of defiance, he pitifully asked if they had grilled cheese, crossed his arms and said, "that's all I want". Senility is such fun.

After our Florida trip this summer, we decided that spending a week out of state was just too hard on Hubby's folks. After this week, we've decided that two days out of state is too hard on them, too. It's gonna take a little while to recover from this little trip. They wanted to go out and eat last night, but we took a pass because we didn't have the energy. Good thing. Sissy had to take them to Cracker Barrel. God bless her.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

This has been one of the best Christmases the Hula's have had in a very long time and not just because Hubby gave me diamonds. That's right. He surprised me with a beautiful princess cut solitaire and matching band that knocked my socks off. It was something I've always said I wanted on our twentieth wedding anniversary, and he gave it to me two and half years early because the price of diamonds is expected to increase dramatically in the next couple of years. I love it when he's practical. And impractical all at the same time.

While that was the best gift under the tree, the best gift of the season was having Sissy with us once again for Christmas. She hasn't felt like celebrating Christmas in the seven years since Chance died, but this year she moved home, put up a Christmas tree and celebrated alongside us. We've missed her on those seven Christmas mornings, and it feels so good to have her back. It's better than all the diamonds in the world to know she's passed a milestone in her grief. I hope your Christmas has been as wonderful as ours and that no matter what your burdens are, you have hope for brighter days and that you were not alone on this day. Merry Christmas everyone.

Special Delivery

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is to bake some kind of treat for the neighbors and hand deliver it to them on Christmas eve. It's a tradition I started when Teen Angel was little to teach her about showing love to others and giving when nothing is expected in return. It's also a great way to show our neighbors how swell we think they are. We really are blessed with good neighbors. There isn't a dud in the bunch. When Teen Angel was really young I would pull her around the neighborhood in her big red wagon while we delivered the goodies. The last few years we walked. This year's mode of transportation? A golfcart. Sissy says I should have decorated it with lights and tinsel. Maybe next year.

I bake something different every year. Last year was cream cheese pound cake. This year it was Amish friendship cake. Nine loaves of it. It was another baking frenzy around here yesterday. Today was delivery day, and it was as much fun as I expected it to be. That's because I always get invited into their homes for conversation and sometimes a goodie or a beverage. I got all caught up with Miss P. about her engagement. She is possibly the nicest woman I've ever known. The O.'s were already opening a few gifts with their grandchildren. Mr. R. seems to be recovering well from his recent surgery, and M.'s daughter has already arrived for their big family get together.

There is one fewer face on the block these days. Mrs. E. died from cancer a little more than a year ago, and I really miss my Christmas chat with her. She was a kind and loving woman who helped her husband pastor a local church for several decades. She and Brother E. never had children, but they shared their hearts with a whole lot of people. They always invited me in for eggnog and a seat by the fireplace. We would talk and laugh about the neighborhood happenings, and I never failed to marvel at how such a quiet, dignified woman could fill up an entire room with just her presence. She was loved by many. As she lay dying of cancer, a bus load of people from other churches drove more than three hours to her house, just to pray for her. "Mom, come look," Teen Angel said as they pulled up in her driveway and started filing out of the bus. We watched in awe as they encircled her house, held hands and prayed for her. She handled her illness with incredible grace, even when she lost her beautiful long hair to the chemo. Mrs. E. was Pentocostal, making the hair loss that much more difficult. I miss her, but not like Brother E. does. As difficult as it is to visit their house without her in it, those little chats seem more important now than ever before. The same goes for my time today with Miss P.. Even though she's engaged now, she doesn't get a lot of company. For a sixty year old woman who has suffered a divorce and the loss of her mother in recent years, the holidays are somewhat difficult. We spent an hour talking and laughing, and she was in much better spirits when I left than when I knocked on her door.

I've decided that those deliveries really don't have anything to do with the foil wrapped cakes I leave behind. Oh, those folks tell me they enjoy the goodies, but I think they enjoy the company more than anything. Me too. They have no idea how much those visits nourish my soul. Teen Angel learned the lesson of the cakes a long time ago, but I think my lesson from the special deliveries has just begun.

Last Minute Wrapping Tip

When you've run out of bows and name tags, take old Christmas cards and start cutting the cute little mice, Santa's and Snowmen off of them and turn them into name tags. Heck, you can even use the whole front of the card if it doesn't have a message from Aunt Lucy on the back of it. Of course, this trick isn't necessary if you actually plan for present wrapping by purchasing bows and name tags instead of trying to get by with whatever was left over in the closet from last year. Or waiting until the last minute to wrap 90% of your presents.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Keeping Me in Stitches

Nothing helps to make the season bright like a trip to the emergency room. It's all my fault. I made the mistake of saying out loud the other day, "Gee, this is the first December in several years that someone in the family hasn't had surgery or needed medical treatment of some kind." I slapped my hand over my mouth as soon as those words slipped from my tongue, but it was too late. I had already put some kind of hoodoo, voodoo, double jinx curse on us. It was only fitting that I was the one who ended up needing the ER. That will teach me to keep my big mouth shut. Maybe I should have had the doctor sew that up too while he was sewing up my hand.

I was trying to open a box delivered by the UPS man. With the blade from some scissors I opened up my hand instead, right in that bend between the thumb and forefinger. "Yippy Skippy!," I shouted. Well, something close to that only a little more blue. Sorry Santa. I knew right away it was going to need stitches, but I kept putting it off hoping that oozing bleeding gap would magically seal up while it was trapped under a big wad of gauze. It did get a little better while I did a load of laundry and went for a run. When I finally peeled back the gauze it was obvious that cut would never heal in that location without a little help. With a pain level of two, no massive bleeding and no chest pain, I knew I would be low on the triage list when we got to the hospital, so I took a book and a snack.

The ER was swamped, of course. Is it ever not busy when you're there? There were the usual characters: the poor wailing baby who probably has a painful ear infection, the kid with the broken leg, someone with the flu who looks as if he'll yap down your back any minute, the guy doubled over with a kidney stone and an 89 pound elderly lady delirious with dehydration. We've been pretty lucky in that the few times we've needed the emergency room it hasn't been a dire emergency, except that time Hubby fell off the roof and I thought he had nearly killed himself. Remind me to blog about ladder safety one day. Anyway, yesterday's time in the waiting room was a good reminder of just how healthy we are. I felt a little out of place with my little old laceration. Miraculously, we were out of there in two and a half hours. I ended up with a few stitches and a tetnus shot. I couldn't remember the last time I had a tetnus shot. Probably when I was a kid and my mother the nurse made me get one. I didn't want my jaws locking up and hampering my ability to eat this holiday season, so I got the shot. We were home in time for dinner and still had time to drive around and look at Christmas lights. My cut should heal nicely, and the stitches should be out in ten days. And the best news of all? We finally found a pair of sharp scissors in this house.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I love surprises at Christmas. I've always been that way. As kids, we never knew what we were getting under the tree, and I loved the anticipation and elation that came with unwrapping the unknown. It's hard to be surprised by most of my family, especially Hubby's side. They tell everything they know. They can't help themselves. Even when they try to keep a secret it eventually comes tumbling out before its intended release date. It drives me crazy that I always know what I'm getting from them for Christmas. This year is different. Hubby pulled one over on me. As we say in these parts, he got me good.

I needed to go to the local mall today to pick up a few small, last gifts. He grumbled about going there. He pretended to miss the turnoff. He pretended to take the back streets to the mall. He acted like he was going to take me to the back of the mall and drop me off. Except he pulled into...a jewelry store. Now, he's not a jewelry present kind of guy. Heck, he's not even a roses kind of guy. That's okay because he's a do the laundry, vaccum the floor kind of guy, and that's way better than roses. We never buy each other gifts for our anniversary, and we don't get carried away with Christmas presents. We tend to buy each other practical things. I spend a lot of time joking about gifts of jewelry, but never in my wildest dreams do I expect small boxes of gems under the tree. Never. I mean, never. That's why I was so floored that he had picked out a piece of jewelry for me and wanted to make sure I liked it. I liked it...a lot. I mean alot. I wanted to cry. I'm a sentitmental old poop you know. I didn't cry because I didn't want to embarrass him, but it was all I could do to hold back the tears. I managed to until he dropped me off at the mall. I'm sure the folks in the Hallmark store and Victoria's Secret were wondering why I was bawling all over the cards and lingerie. It's because I have such a wonderful husband. Wonderful, not because he will buy me jewelry, but because after nineteen years, he still thinks I'm worth orchestrating a surprise for. Oh, and because I refuse to open gifts or reveal them before Christmas morning, I'm not telling what the item is. I'm going to be naughty and make you wait until December 25th. And don't give me that "it's not fair" line. I want to surprise you. I think it's worth waiting for.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Year in Pictures

One thing I love about this time of year is the year in review stories and videos that pop up near the end of December. I think it’s a holdover from my career in news. There is a lot I don’t miss about working in the news business, ie…the stress and irregular hours, but I do miss having an endless supply of stories, satellite feeds and pictures to read or watch at will. While I love a good work of words, I especially love a good photo because a great photo needs no words to tell a story.

Each year the National Press Photographer’s Association prints a book featuring the top photos from the world’s best photojournalists. It is always an emotional, graphic read that breaks your heart, makes you think and makes you smile. I love it because it moves me in so many ways, with my emotions flipping with every turn of the page. As Dolly Parton’s character Truvie says in Steel Magnolias, “laughter through tears is one of my favorite emotions”. But you’ve probably already guessed that about me, haven’t you?

I’ve been combing the internet and checkout stands for this year’s best pictures. Here is an annual compilation I think is one of the best. The news photos are great. Don’t skip the sports pictures even if you’re not really a sports fan because there are some good pictures in there. Don’t worry. There’s a little caption to tell you who the heck you’re looking at if you’re a sports idiot like me and can’t tell Kyle Petty from Peyton Manning. The space pics are really cool, too and when you’re done, you can vote for your overall favorite photo. Here is the one I voted for. It’s from John Moore of Getty Images, and it ran on the front page of the New York Times. I don’t have permission to reprint it, so I’m providing you the link to the picture and Moore’s description of how he captured it. Go ahead and look at it. I’ll wait.

Hmmmm. Doop De doo. Hmmm. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost hmmmm. Done? See what I mean…no words needed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Twelve Snacks of Christmas

Everybody sing along!

On the first day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
A big piece of chocolate fudge

On the second day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Two Turtle pies
And a big piece of chocolate fudge

On the third day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And a bigger piece of chocolate fudge

On the fourth day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And a huge piece of chocolate fudge

On the fifth day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And some more hunks of chocolate fudge

On the sixth day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Six rumbling stomachs
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And a platter of chocolate fudge

On the seventh day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Seven bites of popcorn
Six rumbling stomachs
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And a big pan of chocolate fudge

On the eighth day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Eight cream cheese muffins
Seven bites of popcorn
Six rumbling stomachs
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And a tin full of chocolate fudge

On the ninth day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Nine sips of eggnog
Eight cream cheese muffins
Seven bites of popcorn
Six rumbling stomachs
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And some more d*@# chocolate fudge

On the tenth day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Ten cocktail wienies
Nine sips of eggnog
Eight cream cheese muffins
Seven bites of popcorn
Six rumbling stomachs
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And a trunk full of chocolate fudge

On the eleventh day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Eleven cups of Chex Mix
Ten cocktail wienies
Nine sips of eggnog
Eight cream cheese muffins
Seven bites of popcorn
Six rumbling stomachs
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And some dried out chocolate fudge

On the twelfth day of Christmas my friends all shared with me:
Twelve Hershey’s Kisses
Eleven cups of Chex Mix
Ten cocktail wienies
Nine sips of eggnog
Eight cream cheese muffins
Seven bites of popcorn
Six rumbling stomachs
Five Tagament!
Four fruitcake logs
Three Motrin
Two Turtle pies
And the last piece of chocolate fudge

PS-Have you ever noticed when eating out of those Christmas popcorn tins that the buttered popcorn gets eaten first, the caramel corn is not far behind and the cheese corn is always last?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Happy Birthday

Thursday is Super Cop’s birthday. He’s five years younger than me. That means he’s been putting up with me bossing him around for 38 years. Being the big sis and already in kindergarten by the time he entered the world, I bossed him around plenty when we were growing up. You see, I was used to getting all of the attention, and I wasn’t really happy about him moving into my territory. I remember dancing around his baby carrier and taunting him when he was a tiny little thing. I got over it, but it took me a while, and the evidence is in the pictures. Here he is on his first birthday.

And here I am minutes later after I whined and cried and insisted on having my picture taken, too.

Here I am trying to upstage him again a year later. Ignore the pile of dirty Christmas dinner dishes in the background.

By the time he turned three I had learned to stay out of the picture.

He’ll be happy I posted this picture and not the one where he’s covered in frosting. By the way, this is the period where mama decided she would sew all of our clothes. She had a little problem with pants. The crotch was always droopy. I asked for skirts. Brother couldn’t.

Looking back, he was pretty patient with my bossiness. Oh, he protested when I insisted that my Cat Woman always beat his Batman, but he usually gave in. And he didn’t get TOO upset when I covered him in mud during a mud puddle fight. (Mama did). He let me have my way plenty, but usually got me back later. Like the week before my senior prom when he and Handy Man had the chicken pox and chased me around the house, trying to give them to me. Or when he teased me endlessly for crying because I shot a toad with the BB gun. I’d say we’re even in the sibling torture department. Well, I may be one up on him after posting these pics. Sorry bro, I couldn’t resist.

He’s a good brother, and I’m proud of him. He puts his life on the line as a police officer and takes good care of his family and friends. He has a big heart and a great sense of humor. That’s why I love him. I love him enough not to post the picture of him in a droopy diaper and a camouflage hat or the fifth grade school picture with the crooked grin or the six pictures where he has a big bump on his forehead…. Happy birthday Super Cop!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Strike Out

I’d like to take this moment to thank the writers in Hollywood for going on strike. Because of the horrible state of television lately I’ve been able to get a whole lot more done around the house. In fact, I’ve been considerably more productive without the distraction of TV. Ugy Betty rerun….two loads of laundry. Grey’s Anatomy rerun…more laundry. No Amazing Race….twelve gifts wrapped. Repeat of Desperate Housewives….dishwasher loaded, cookies iced. No new Brothers and Sisters….grocery list prepared. With nothing new slated for the boob tube tonight I’ll probably knock out those three holiday arrangements for the cemetery in no time. Yes siree, this strike has turned into a beautiful thing. It just goes to show that I could be at least 25% more productive if I didn’t stop throughout the evening to channel surf and vegetate before the squawk box.

In fact, I need this strike to last a while longer. The longer it goes on the more likely I am to:
1. Clean out the bathroom vanity.
2. Scan and organize my old family photos.
3. Sort through my plastic ware and get rid of the stuff without lids, the pieces that have melted somewhat in the dishwasher and the sixteen amusement park cups we collected this summer.
4. Clean the oven.
5. Clean my pores.
6. Clean my cabinets.
7. Finish that ten year old scrapbooking project.
8. Complete that stampin’ project I started two years ago.
9. Scrub my tile.
10. Scrub my baseboards.
11. Exfoliate my feet.
12. Loofah my back.

Oh, the list of things I could accomplish is endless. I could be organized, cleansed, prepared and polished for anything and everything that comes along. Or....I could check out E! True Hollywood Story tonight….or some abdominal surgery on TLC….maybe a rant by Nancy Grace….or Sanford and Son on TV Land. Yeah, I’m sure there’s something I could watch. I can always get to those cabinets later. They’re not going anywhere. Besides, I need a little break. I'm getting way too organized.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Sweetest Hangover

Roll my hair and call me Betty Crocker. I have been a baking fool today. While I can't clean for spit, I am a pretty decent cook. I love to bake, and I'm so addicted to the Food Network that Hubby has considered a twelve step program for me. I dream of Bobby Flay showing up at my house for a hashbrown casserole throwdown. Every year right before Christmas I am overcome with the urge to bake every cookie and sweet treat lurking within the pages of my 200 plus cookbooks. I never know for sure when the holiday baking binge is going to hit, but I always know it's coming, so for the last month, I've been stockpiling sugar and butter like a wartime widow with six hungry kids. I felt it coming on yesterday. It's kind of like going into labor. You're not sure if that first twinge is the real thing, but in a few hours it's rolling over you in unstoppable waves. By noon today I was ready to give birth to several dozen goodies.

In the last few hours, I have mixed, rolled, kneaded, cut and baked. I've drizzled, swirled, iced and topped. I've washed my KitchenAid mixer bowl six times. And let's just pause a moment to praise Jesus for the KitchenAid stand mixer. I love my KitchenAid. Adore my KitchenAid. Can't live without it. If it dies tomorrow I will buy it a memory box. It's the Cadillac of mixers. Now the Bosch is the Porsche of mixers, but the KitchenAid is not too far behind. Sometimes I pat it when I walk by it, just to show it some love. For you men out there who don't get into cooking, it's like holding a Dewalt cordless drill in one hand and a chili cheese dog in the other while watching the Super Bowl on a 52" HDTV. Mmm hmm. That's what I'm talking about. Thank you Lord for the Kitchen Aid mixer and forgive me for all the sugar I'm about to put into my body this week. Amen.

Today I have used all six of my measuring cups, both sets of measuring spoons, and just about every pan I own, including the big muffin pan and the mini muffin pan. I have used up every stick of butter (salted and unsalted), every crumb of cocoa powder, five pounds of sugar, five pounds of flour and the last drop of vanilla from a very large bottle. There were pecans, homemade caramel sauce, miniature peanut butter cups and golden drops of Bailey's Irish Creme. White sugar, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, powdered sugar and even peanut butter. It was one of my biggest baking binges evah, and I will share the results with my family and my coworkers. However, I will NOT tell them how many calories are in each of those chocolate sandwich cookies with the Bailey's filling (120). As my friend Yvonne used to say, I might as well rub it on my butt because that's where it's going!

It was great fun while it lasted but now comes the food hangover. I have tasted, checked and sampled so much dough, filling and batter, that I can't eat another sweet. I am full, done, finished, ready for a nap and ready for something savory. Hey, I have a party later this week that requires appetizers! Lord have mercy! Is that another pain I feel?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Me, Me, Me

I have been tagged by Pensieve for one of those “more than you need to know about me” things. Thank goodness. I don't have the foggiest notion of what else to blog about today, so this comes at a good time. (I first typed “figgiest”, and now I can’t stop singing “Oh, bring us some Figgie pudding”…I digress.) She wants to know seven things about me I haven't published yet. As mama says, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. After pondering this one for a little while, I came up with a list about a mile long and then decided that parts of my past aren’t really appropriate for a family friendly website, and that some things are just too embarrassing to share. Therefore, I have narrowed it down to the following nuggets of useless but curious information about me:

1. I have an inexplicable desire to learn how to lay brick. I am not an orderly person at all. I don’t like symmetry, but something about the neatness and precision involved in this craft is very appealing to me. I often admire brick from afar.

2. I was a radio deejay for several years. My very first job was at my hometown radio station where I spun country music records (they really were records back then) on weekends. I did this all through college, moved into the news department upon graduation and worked in radio news for three years before landing in television news. I still “voice” radio commercials occasionally. I loved radio.

3. During my senior year of college I had a good friend who was a mercenary for the U.S. government. He would disappear for weeks at a time in foreign countries. I didn’t ask a lot of questions because I really didn’t want to think very much about him killing people. I often wonder where he is now...or if he's alive.

4. The lines in my left hand form a perfect Star of David smack dab in the middle of my palm. It kind of gives me goose bumps when I look at it for a long time.

5. Speaking of goose bumps, and don’t let me lose you here…I sometimes have premonitions. It happens less frequently now than when I was younger and it usually foretells something bad that is going to happen. These dreams happen at night and are generally pretty specific and accurate. I rarely talk about it because most folks don’t believe in that kind of thing and it makes me sound like some kind of freak.

6. I have climbed a 35 foot pole and stood (briefly) on top of it with outstretched arms. I attended one of those leadership retreats where you team build by falling back into the arms of your teammates, scaling walls and rappelling from high places. The retreat culminated with everyone trying to climb the “pole of confidence” and stand on top of the pole. I was scared witless but made myself do it and was so, so glad I did because I’m not always good with heights. I loved it. I also loved the zip line through the forest even though I had to close my eyes and jump off the platform without looking down.

7. Hubby and I want desperately to be on The Amazing Race. We watch every weekend and discuss how we would handle each detour and roadblock. At 6’4” and *** pounds, he’s got muscle and the ability to work through pain and obstacles. I’m a puzzle solver and navigator. I also know six phrases in Spanish. Despite that little incident in St. Louis this summer, we navigate well as a team. (Stop laughing, Supercop). The only problem would be the profanity that would come spewing out of our mouths when we were tired, hungry and lost in Uganda. CBS would have to bleep us like the Osbournes.

There you have it. I’m not good at tagging other folks, so I’ll just throw the invitation out to any of you who want to play along. Just follow the rules below. All I ask is that you make it interesting. If I’m going to own up to the premonition thing, you boys and girls can ‘fess up to something freaky, too. And thank you Pensieve for bailing me out on a dry idea day.

1) Link to the person who tagged you.

2) Post the rules on your blog.

3) Share 7 facts about yourself.

4) Tag 7 random people and include links to their blogs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rear Window

December is an expensive month at our house. Besides Christmas, we have birthdays to take care of, insurance premiums to pay and a variety of other stuff that sucks the money right out of our pockets faster than a jack rabbit on a date. By December 25th we are broke, broke, broke. That’s why it’s inevitable that we will have some kind of unexpected, mechanical malfunction before the month is over. Sometimes it’s an appliance. Sometimes it’s a car. It’s always expensive and falls at a time when we least need it. This year it’s the controller for the automatic window on the driver’s side of our van. It quit working a couple of weeks ago. Hubby discovered this problem on an unusually warm day when he hit the button and pfffft, nothing, nada, sorry for your luck, so long sucker, I’m out of here, hasta lavista baby, hit the road Jack and don’t ‘cha come back no more, no more, no more. It refused to budge from its already lowered position. Having a car window that won’t go up is a problem in the winter. He struggled with it and tugged and pulled until he finally got the window back up. A quick phone call to the mechanic yielded a verdict of at least $154 for the repairs. That total will likely go somewhat higher when all is said and done. Since it was either fix the window or eat this month, we decided to tough it out and wait until next month when the holiday bills are paid and the tax man has taken his slice of flesh off of our backside. We figured what the heck, it’s winter. It’s cold outside. We won’t need to roll down the window anyway. That theory worked fine….until last night.

I took Teen Angel to a Christmas party and did a little shopping while she was rockin’ around the Christmas tree. Before I picked her up again I went through the drive thru at Steak and Shake to get Hubby a fresh, nutritious 8:30pm dinner. I forgot about the “don’t put the window down under any circumstances” rule. I remembered a split second after I hit the automatic button; the one that zips the window down in .00002 seconds. It was too late. Trying to grab it before it slid down that crack was like trying to catch a greased pig in a butter factory. Of course it refused to budge. Did I mention it has rained here for five straight days? Including yesterday? Yeah, good times. I yanked, tugged, pulled, jiggled and jerked all parts of the door to no avail. It was about this time the light drizzle became a heavy drizzle. With the heater on full blast and a cold wind rushing through my hair, I slid into the Applebee’s parking lot on two wheels, hollered for Teen Angel to get her fanny in the van quickly and took off. “Did you bring a coat?” I asked. “You’re gonna need one.” It was about this time the drizzle became an all out rain shower. We still had a twenty minute drive home. I yanked, tugged, pulled and jiggled some more to no avail. I should probably tell you that Hubby is extremely particular about the vehicles we drive. He is a neat freak and likes every part of his car clean, shiny and spotless. He spends more money on car cleaning products than Britney Spears spends on chewing gum. He has a serious aversion to water spots on leather. More tugging, pulling and jiggling. And a little prayer. About the time I started to panic, the window magically arose and slid shut. “Thank you God!” I shouted. In no time at all we were toasty warm and singing with Motley Crue. Until the first car passed me on the interstate.

“Did you hear that?” I asked. “That car seemed a little loud. Something’s not shut. Is there a window cracked or a door not closed? There’s a draft somewhere.” I started to panic again because it was raining pretty hard. We looked but didn’t find anything. A few more cars whizzed past. “I KNOW something isn’t shut. I can tell. Find it.” We finally discovered that in all of my button pushing earlier, I had hit the switch that opens one of the windows in the very back of the van. I didn’t even know that window could open. Never mind that we’ve had that van for about three years. Relieved that we had prevented an outright flood of the rear of the van we drove home peacefully to the soothing sounds of “Girls, girls, girls”. When we got home I grabbed a towel in the garage and wiped out the driver’s side of the van before going into the house. While I felt no particular need to alarm Hubby over the whole water on leather incident, that stinkin’ Teen Angel had already tattled on me, so I had to come clean. Hubby rushed out to check out the van, and it was then that I learned that the little button that operates the rear window also controls ANOTHER rear window that was still open. It was open during the entire rainy drive home. Oops!

So, in order to keep our marriage intact, I’m just going to stay away from the van until we get it fixed. I just can’t guarantee that I can keep my finger off the buttons. That will keep the ho, ho, ho in our holiday and keep me, me, me out of trouble. See, if we lived in Aruba this would NOT be a problem.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

PS Santa

Dear Santa,
In reviewing my previous letter to you, I realized it’s possible I may have overstated the quality of my behavior during the past year. Saying that I’ve been “an extremely good girl” may have been an exaggeration. Not that I intended to mislead you. I was under the influence of a Milky Way when I composed that letter, and I really cannot be held accountable for anything I do during a chocolate/caramel buzz. I would not want my inaccurate information to affect the quality or quantity of gifts you choose to bestow upon me, so perhaps I should ‘fess up to some stuff and explain a few things before you slide down my chimney.

First of all my profanity has been much better this year than in past years. While I certainly have not eliminated it from my vocabulary, I have made greats strides in curtailing my cussing. I have found that “doodles” and “puddin’” are great substitutes for the really ugly words. I do let a few of my old favorites fly every now and then, but it’s usually when I’ve hurt myself….like this morning when I stubbed four of my toes on the end of the bed. Surely you can understand that.

I was kind of bad during Hubby’s colonoscopy, but you must admit the whole flatulence thing was pretty funny. And the gaping hospital gown, wasn’t that a hoot? What’s a girl to do when presented with that kind of opportunity? I am sorry about that. Really, I am, but they say laughter is the best medicine. I just thought it would help him feel better. I know I felt better afterwards.

Then there was the cookbook incident. I borrowed one of Mama J.’s cookbooks and thought I returned it. She asked for it back, and I swore I gave it back to her; insisted that I gave it back to her; argued with her about it until I had convinced her she was wrong and then I found it in my hutch about six weeks later. I didn’t want to admit to her she was right so I slipped it back on her shelf when she wasn’t looking. Yeah, I know it was wrong, but think about it. Don’t you hate it when you have to eat crow in front of your mother-in-law? I thought so.

To be honest I don’t pick up my phone when my mother calls between 8 and 9pm on Thursday nights because Grey’s Anatomy is on. It’s shallow, I know, but I hate missing one little minute of hospital melodrama and smut. I’ll work on this one since I have DVR now. Besides, I always call her back later.

And finally, I should probably apologize for the way I spoke to that young babe that tried to cut in front of me and 50,000 other people in line for the port-a-potties at the Jimmy Buffett concert. I may have been a little too …hmmm…shall we say assertive….in that situation. It was the margarita in me talking, and I had to pee really badly. If it makes any difference to you, I’ve bitten my tongue many times this year when I wanted to ream someone out for cutting me off in traffic…or screwing up my fast food order….or cutting in line at J.C. Penney’s….so… well, you get the picture.

Well, that about does it. I could probably think of a few more things if I dug a little deeper, but let’s just call it quits for now. I think that’s enough for one day, don’t you? Besides, you don’t want to hear all about my occasional road rage or quick temper. And don’t get me started on the topic of being a smart aleck. And while I’m thinking of it, let’s just keep this letter between me and you. There’s no need to ask Hubby for more information or his opinion on all of this. And that whole cookbook incident? I’d rather he not know about that. Thanks Santa. See you in a couple of weeks. Don’t forget that bling. Size 5 on the ring finger.

Hugs and kisses,
Hula Girl

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Santa Baby

Dear Santa,
I’ve been an awfully good girl this year. No need for independent verification on that. Just take my word for it. And I really see no need to get my husband’s opinion on that either. I’m sure he’d tell you the same thing. What? No. That is not my fingers crossed behind my back. I have arthritis, and they’re stuck that way. Anyhoo, in light of my excellent behavior I’m forwarding my Christmas list to you in hopes of some special treats under the tree in a couple of weeks. These are listed in no particular order.

1. A red, 1957 T-bird convertible. Blue or white would be okay, too, but red is my favorite. With sunglasses and a scarf I could pretend to be Grace Kelly. Come on, Santa. We’ll have fun, fun, fun until the state police take my T-bird away.

2. A permanent solution to this gray hair thing that keeps cropping up. Not only have I gone from a “once in a while” color to a regular dye schedule at my stylist, I’ve had to bump up my last few appointments. I WILL NOT go gray before I’m 80, so we need to do something about this. This is getting old.

3. A non-surgical boob lift. The girls are getting a little tired, and I’m scared of the whole cosmetic surgery thing. Ya’ got anything to jack those puppies up that doesn’t require a blade and anesthesia or twenty pounds of lycra?

4. One of those snazzy new treadmills with an iPod jack and speakers. How cool is that? I could lose my hearing and get fit at the same time.

5. Low calorie margaritas. Maybe you could put them in 100 calorie packs like Nabisco does its cookies. I’m thinking little juice boxes with a straw.

6. Some bling would be nice. Something in the two carat range because, despite what men say, you can never have a diamond that’s too big for your hand. That’s just crap they make up because they don’t want to spend a few grand on something that doesn’t run down the street on two wheels and is referred to as a“ hog”. Not that we’ve already had that discussion in my house or anything.

7. A condo in the Caribbean. I’m not really too picky about the location, but I’m awfully fond of Aruba. Just a teensy, weensy house near the beach? Pretty please, with sugar on top? I’ll quit swearing if you give me this one. Well, at least I’ll quit saying the really, really bad words…when people are around.

8. And finally world peace, because I would sound terribly selfish if I didn’t ask for something like that. Gosh, who doesn’t want world peace. Do I even need to write this one down?

So, there you have it. If you need any more information like my ring size (5)or favorite hair color (San Tropez) just let me know. Have your people call my people and we’ll work it out. Okay? In the meantime, take care of yourself and watch out for those cookies at the gray house up the street. They're always dry. Oh, and if none of the above items are available, I’ll just settle for some perfume, an iTunes card and world peace…especially world peace.

Hugs and kisses,

Monday, December 10, 2007

Put Me In Coach

I’ve decided that I’m a real weenie. I don’t want to be, but I am. I’m just not rough and rugged like some folks. Part of the problem is my size. I’m scrawny and weak. I have no muscle. In fact, if my survival depended upon climbing a rope, I would be a goner. I’m especially lacking in upper body strength. If you’re old enough to remember those President’s Physical Fitness tests they used to have in grade school, you know what I mean when I tell you that I failed the chin-up portion. I could dangle from the bar all day, but I couldn’t pull myself up. In fact, I have years of mediocre PE performance under my belt. Oh, I tried to be athletic. I warmed the bench in grade school basketball and summer softball, but the closest I ever came to athletic prowess was playing on the championship intramural volleyball team in college. Trust me, it’s not too hard to win when most of the other teams are drinking their way through the tournament. I was proud of our win though, and still have the T-shirt after all these years. Post college, I found success in other areas, and that was enough to make me feel good about myself for most of my adult life, but that desire to be good at a sport, any sport has never gone away. And I’m not giving up. Barring any major illnesses or disasters, I still have a few more years to take a shot at it before my knees give out, the gout creeps in and the bad vision screws up my depth perception. I think that’s why I’ve taken up running. I figure if I stay at it long enough I’ll eventually outlast enough folks in my age bracket to win some races. In other words, I don’t have to be fast, I just have to be tenacious.

Tenacity is what I need in the next few months. A friend of mine has challenged me to run in a trail race in early March. The distances? 26K (13 miles), 26 miles, 50 miles or 60 miles. Up and down hills, over the river and through the woods. Muddy if it’s raining, which it tends to do here in March. Blech. IF I decide to do this I will do the 26K. Thirteen miles is nothing to experienced runners, but I’ve never run that far before. I’m sure I would have to walk some of it. I…am….so….scared…of….thirteen….miles. But…I’m….tempted. I want to see if I can do it. My only goal would be to finish the race.

I really am intimidated by the challenge. I thought a little research would help, so I did what I do whenever I want to learn something new, I Googled it. What did I find? Page after page of folks with blisters the size of half dollars, ACL injuries, people throwing up in mid race. People with diarrhea in mid race. People falling down and hurting themselves. I read some articles from Runner’s World. Same thing. Nothing to quell my fears there. Just a bunch of people pushing their bodies to the limit by running 100 miles and such. And while I don’t have the stomach for that kind of test, a part of me would like to be that person…just one time. That’s why I will toy with the idea of running this race over the next few weeks. It’s why I will pick up my running schedule and start pushing myself down the street harder. It’s why I’ll check out the trail shoes when I’m shopping in Nashville after Christmas. And maybe…just maybe….I’ll shed my weenie-ness for one day and give it a shot. I don’t know…..

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Diversity 101

My home state, Kentucky, has a hillbilly reputation. People who live in other parts of the country tend to think of folks here as redneck, backwoods folk who lack in dental care and love on their cousins. It's easy to see why, thanks to television interviews with tornado survivors and movies like Deliverance. We're really not that way. We wear shoes, most of us have teeth and we do not marry within our own families. We're also not racist bigots, although that attachment to the rebel flag some southerners have leads people to paint us all with the same red brush. Oh, we have pockets of racism, but we're pretty much like the rest of the country. We have our struggles, debates and slow growth, but overall, most of us are trying to do the right thing.

The Hula's consider themselves pretty diverse in thinking. We try to love everybody regardless of age, race, gender or religion. Once in a while we stumble. Like the other day when I was talking with some friends about Little People, Big World and was surprised to hear how much money the father on that tv show makes. I realized I was surprised because I assumed he made less as an actor because of his size. I was appalled and confused by my assumption. Do I have some kind of little people bias and don't know it? It just goes to show that we all have prejudices or flawed opinions that need to be worked on, and our diversity lessons never end. Mama J. gives us a little diversity lesson every Christmas, and she doesn't even know it. She does it with wrapping paper.

She gives little thought to holiday wrapping paper. That's because she buys whatever is on the clearance shelf at the Dollar Store right after Christmas. She grabs it without looking, stashes it away for twelve months and drags it out in early December. She then wraps her packages rather hastily. The theme of her wrapping paper has been a little interesting the last two years because of this practice. Year before last, everything was wrapped in paper that featured black Santas. Kind of ironic, given that we're probably the palest group of people you'll ever see in one room at any given time. Last year, our gifts were covered in blue paper covered in dreidels. Yes, she wrapped Christmas presents in Hanukkah paper, and didn't have a clue why we thought that was funny. We're taking bets on what this year's theme will be. Latino perhaps? Do they make Canadian paper? Or maybe something Asian. We've come to enjoy her reckless wrapping. We get a good chuckle out of it, and it gets us talking about heritage and race. That's a good thing. And fortunately my black and Jewish friends see the humor in it, too.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Tag

I’ve been tagged by Jason on this one. His timing is great because I don’t have a creative thought in my head today, couldn’t think of a clever blog topic if I tried and am immobilized by grief over losing yet another “name that photo” contest at the Pioneer Woman’s crib. Here we go with the ho, ho, lo-down on a Hula Christmas.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. I love a nicely wrapped package, and I especially like it when all of the boxes under the tree are wrapped in coordinating paper and ribbon. However, Martha Stewart doesn’t live in my house, so my gifts are wrapped in whatever happens to be on hand, which is usually borrowed paper from Mama J. that she found at the Dollar Store back in January.

2. Real tree or artificial? I love a real tree, but we use an artificial one. I’m allergic to cedar, and my family likes to put up the tree on the day after Thanksgiving.

3. When do you put up the tree? I’m an all or nothing gal. It either doesn’t get put up at all or it goes up on the day after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? As soon as possible. I think Christmas decorations look very sad and forlorn after December 25th, so I try to get them down quickly.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, with amaretto. I really like boiled custard better. I sometimes make homemade boiled custard during the holidays. Last night I was sipping the store bought kind right out of the bottle while standing in front of the refrigerator and ignoring the label that said each swallow had 6,000 calories.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? This is a sappy answer but it’s true. It was the year my mom was in the hospital at Christmas recovering from surgery. Her fever was up, and she didn’t get to be home on Christmas Day. All I wanted was for her to come home as soon as possible, and she did the next day.

7. Do you have a nativity set? Yes, we have a beautiful one that Mama J. made for us when she was into painting ceramic stuff about fifteen years ago. She also made us a bowl and pitcher, a plaque and two dolls.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My parents and Hubby’s parents. They don’t need or want anything.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Teen Angel, but she’s turning fifteen this month, so that will probably change soon.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I can’t think of one in particular, but I always hated getting socks and underwear when I was a kid.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. I really love the tradition of Christmas cards. I have received two already, and I get excited when I find them in the mailbox. Of course, I get excited when I find anything other than bills in the mailbox.

12. Favorite Christmas move? Hands down, “A Christmas Story”. It’s like the Rocky Horror Picture Show at our house. We know all of the lines and shout them at the screen the whole time. Nutta-finga! Remind me sometime to tell you about the time I thought I shot my eye out as a kid.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Early January. HOWEVER, I am not REALLY one of those people. Every year I resolve to buy a present a month so that I’m finished by fall. I buy one in January, fall off the wagon, buy the rest in mid-December and replace the January gift that I can’t find.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? A friend of mine makes insanely delicious Italian Cream candy. I might as well rub it on my butt because that’s where it’s going to end up.

16. Clear lights or colored? I love, love, love clear lights. Hubby likes colored, so we compromise and use both. Spoil sport.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I have so many I can only narrow it down to four: Mary Did You Know/Kenny Rogers and Wynona, Breath of Heaven/Amy Grant, Happy Christmas/John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Do They Know it’s Christmas/various artists, O Holy Night/Celine Dion, Santa Baby/Ertha Kitt , Holly Leaves and Christmas Trees/Elvis and Silent Night. Oops, that’s eight. Sorry. Crap. I left off Nat King Cole. That’s nine. Oh what the heck, let’s do the top ten and add Ho, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum/Jimmy Buffett.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Travel within a forty mile radius to be with family, although one year I’d like to spend Christmas in the Caribbean.

19. Can you name all of the reindeer? Yes. Blitzen is my favorite name, just because it sounds fast and cool.

20. Angel on the top of the tree or star? It varies. My family likes something traditional, but I get all artsy and put odd stuff up there. This year it’s a gold reindeer wrapped with a piece of silk that’s actually a table runner if you look closely. It drives my family crazy when I do this. I can’t help myself. I have a secret desire to be a floral designer.

21. Open the presents Christmas eve or Christmas morning? Nevah on Christmas eve. That’s just wrong, I tell ya’.

22. Most annoying thing about Christmas? That fact that it’s supposed to be a celebration full of love and peace and yet people are cranky and rude to each other because they’re so stressed out. Also, the commercialization of Christmas is way out of control, in my opinion, but I’ve already griped about that so I’ll move on. Right after I mention that I really don’t like holiday inflatables or jingle bell earrings.

23. What I love most about Christmas? Food, music and family.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You've Got Mail

I’ve decided that email is both a blessing and a curse. I love keeping in touch with folks far away with just a few clicks of the keys, but some days it seems like I spend so much time handling email that I’m not really productive. Shuffling electronic messages is just as time consuming as pushing papers. Despite my best efforts with filters and rules, I still get a lot of email that wastes my time, even though it’s well intentioned. I mean this in the nicest way, but one man’s treasure is another man’s trash, and well, some email that my friends think is important enough to share is not that important to me. In fact, some of it drives me batty so I’ve developed a few guidelines boys and girls that I hope folks will follow when sending me email.

1. Please don’t send me the request to click daily on a breast cancer website that will provide free mammograms for women. I love this cause, but I have this bookmarked already. I don’t need it again and again. I click regularly. I’m doing my part. I promise.

2. I don’t need any more copies of the picture of Barack Obama without his hand on his heart during the national anthem. The picture has no context and reeks of speculation. I’ve checked out this picture on and read the rules about what to do during the Star Spangled Banner. I will not base my decision on who to vote for solely on how vigorously a candidate waves the flag. Also, the insinuation in that email that Obama could be some kind of terrorist because his last name sounds middle Eastern is racist and offensive. Please don’t assume that I agree with that kind of thinking by sending me that stuff.

3. Urging me and every other American not to buy gasoline on a certain day in order to stick it to the oil companies won’t work, so don’t forward this one to me, either. I don’t like the cost of gasoline, but compared to the rest of the world, our prices aren’t too bad. I don’t think we can complain unless we’re ready to give up our big, guzzling SUV’s.

4. I’m on every no-call list there is, so save this one for your favorite procrastinator.

5. I’d like to share a recipe with twenty other people so I could get 110 recipes in return. Really, I would, but I just don’t have time to dig out a recipe, type it up and search my address book for twenty people who actually have time to cook. It’s useless to send me this email because the folks I’m supposed to send a recipe to are going to be disappointed, and that’s not fair to them.

6. The story about the premature baby who was the size of a peanut but survived, grew up to play baseball and told his mom how it feels when God holds you is inspiring and makes me all misty eyed (we’ve already established that I’m a crybaby). However, I have no way of knowing if this story is actually true, and I’m certain it has circled the world at least sixteen times now, so I think we can put it to rest. Same goes for the one about the lady whose car mysteriously quit working long enough for her to buy gas and Happy Meals for a down on her luck mother and kids on their way to Oklahoma to start a new life.

7. I married someone in law enforcement, so I know to look in the back seat before I unlock my car at night. I know someone could hide under my car and grab my ankles, and I’ve learned how to signal for help from a locked car trunk. I also won’t open my front door if I hear a crying baby on the porch followed by the doorbell. Thanks for worrying about my safety, but I can take a pass on these emails.

8. And for Pete’s sake, stop sending me emails that demand I immediately stop what I’m doing, pray a specific prayer and pass it on to twenty people right this minute because if I don’t then I don’t love God, I’m embarrassed about my faith and I will go directly to hell on a fast train. I get one of these almost every day, and demanding that I pray “or else” rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t seem Christian at all, and I don’t like it. I pray, often. I pray what I feel in my heart and according to the needs of those around me. I want people to judge my faith on the way I behave and how I show love to others, not on my attempts to extort a prayer out of them by email.

If it’s your birthday, you have good news go share or want to send me something funny, that’s okay. I can always use a good laugh, and I never get tired of those “do you remember when” emails because I usually remember “when”. I love hearing about your day, don’t mind taking a survey once in a while and like to hear about medical breakthroughs or good bargains. I like pictures of your kids and grandkids. I love funny stuff from YouTube. And if the folks at my favorite clothing website ever stop sending me preferred customer sales information I’ll just curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb. So keep those cards and letters coming. Just don’t hold ask me to forward them to twenty other people in the sixty seconds.


While I did manage not to hurt myself after 4pm yesteday, I wasn't done with mishaps. I got to my aerobics class and realized that a frozen dinner I had put in my gym bag yesterday morning and had forgotten about had thawed. And leaked. All over my clothes. So, I taught a class while wearing wet clothes that smelled strongly of garlic and butter, especially as I began to sweat. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In The Express Lane

Some days I wonder how I’ve made it through the day. This has been one of them. Before 8am I had dropped a glass of water, spilled a bag of oatmeal and run into a wall. Head first. As if I don’t walk by that same wall twenty times a day. By 2pm I had managed to cover my black pants in cotton batting and my face in glitter (I was dismantling a parade float), whack a finger with a power drill and cut another finger on a piece of metal. I have roughly six hours to go before bedtime, and I’m a little worried about the way this ball is rolling downhill. I’m not going anywhere near heavy equipment or an open flame.

I consider myself reasonably graceful, but every now and then I have a day where I stumble around like a wino in a funhouse. What can I say, it’s a gift. Actually, it’s a result of moving too fast and doing too many things at one time. It’s a bad habit of mine, and I need to stop. Not only does it cause accidents, it makes me grumpy. And I’m trying very hard not to be grumpy this holiday season. Apparently, I’m trying harder than others. Sissy was in line at the photo center at Wal-Mart last night when the lady behind her yelled at her for taking too long at the picture scanner. This same lady had just rambled on and on with a friend about church and praying for someone in bad health. Hippo-crit. I hate it when people pretend to be all churchy and then act like a turd. Sissy said the lady manning the photo center was just as mean and that the checkout counter was filled with a line of cranky people. Probably folks squeezing too much into their day, just like me. If they’re not careful they’ll find themselves running into walls.

I think we should have a special day before Christmas called “Take a Deep Breath Day”. Maybe around Dec. 20th (that’s SuperCop’s birthday, by the way). We would all agree to slow down, be patient with one another and be nice to everyone all day, even the turds behind us at the photo center. We would also be required to eat pie that day. Pie is good. We all need a little more pie in our life because it forces us to linger over a meal and savor the flavors. (I’m a little disturbed that I worked pie and poop into the same paragraph.)

As for me, I obviously can't wait until Dec. 20th. If I expect to live until Christmas, I need to slow down now. So, I am going to step carefully the rest of today and put myself into a lower gear tomorrow. Oh, and I'm going to find some pie.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Joy to The World!

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus! While making out my Christmas shopping list I discovered that I don’t have that much to buy. Half of my list is already taken care of. I’m so happy I could kiss someone. Where’s a shirtless Matthew McConoughey when you need him?

We bought Sissy’s present weeks ago when we stumbled on a great buy on something she needs. We went halvsies with Sissy on Mama J.’s and Papa T.’s presents which Sissy found two weeks ago. All I had to do was hand her some money. Joy to the world! Hubby bought Handman’s and Supercop’s presents when he was running errands last week. Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings! Hubby wants money for Christmas, and Teen Angel’s list is short and uncomplicated this year (a Christmas miracle if there ever was one), so I have little left to do when Hubby and I hit the stores Friday. I have the day off. I’m taking a list, handing him half of it and shopping like a commando until it’s done. I did a little more pre-planning than I thought. I guess even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.

Between now and Friday, I will settle on something for Baby Ruth and Zeke, which is always a mind bender. I will review Teen Angel’s wish list and check out a few websites for gift ideas for those lovely people in my life who help me to maintain a clean house, dyed roots and manicured hands. And I will pick up gift cards for some kids in the family. Gee, this whole Christmas thing is going better than I thought. If I work it right Friday, we should have groceries bought by noon, the Christmas list knocked out by dinner and still have time to sit in the hot tub under a chilly, starry sky. Silent night….. Everybody hum along…..all is calm, all is bright…..

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Tug on The Heart And a Tear on The Cheek

Perhaps another reason people think I don't enjoy Christmas is because I shed so many tears this time of year. I'm not depressed. I'm just a sympathy crier. If someone in the room gets misty, so do I. I can't help it. I've always been that way, and the holidays just seem to bring out the emotion in me. Also, I'm just a sentimental old poop. I live by instinct and feelings, and it shows. I find that tears are useful for any emotion. I cry when I'm happy. I cry when I'm sad. I cry when I'm mad. Someone dies of cancer in a movie? I cry. Boy gets girl in movie or book? I cry. Cute kid smiles at me and says something sweet? Tears. Clever Hallmark commercial? More tears. Hallmark Hall of Fame movie? Lots of tears. St. Jude's commercial? River of tears. Actor thanks his mother when accepting his Oscar? You guessed it. I've tried to control it over the years, but I can't seem to help myself. Hubby hates to see a chic flick at the movies with me because we have to sit in the theater for ten minutes after its over so I can blow my nose, recover and blot my face back into order. It's bad, I'm tellin' ya. I finally gave up trying to stop a few years ago, and now I just drip and snort my way through all kinds of special Christmas.

I got all misty eyed in church this morning when we sang our first Christmas song of the season. I got all sniffly yesterday when I heard "Do They Know it's Christmas" on the radio, and Boy George started wailing about how there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas and the greatest gift they'll get this year is life. Starving kids always make me weep. I felt a little emotional when kids put money in the Salvation Army bucket I was manning last weekend. I will shed a tear or two when our church choir performs their beautiful cantata in a couple of weeks, probably when someone sings about Mary. Children stumbling their way through Christmas programs will tug at my heart. Even Charlie Brown's tree will get me a little choked up, and I've seen that darn tree for 35 plus years. Of course, I could be weeping because I'm old enough to have seen that special 35 plus times. The holidays also seem to accentuate the gap between the haves and the have nots. I'll be worrying about poor people, hungry people and lonely people this season. That's sure to stir up a few tears.

I'll be an emotional mess over the next few weeks, but don't mind me. I'm fine. I'm just wearing my feelings on my face for the whole world to see. I might be sad a time or two, but mostly, I'll be feeling good and full of hope for this big old messed up ball of earth that wobbles on its axis every day. Hmm. Maybe the big old messed up ball wobbling on its axis is me.