Simply Spooky

Halloween last year was pretty darn awesome. The fact that it’s on a Saturday this year could be a good thing…or not. We’re hoping that it will, at the very least, make for a more relaxed day. We can visit the grandparents early in the day to show off the little guy’s costume, maybe do some baking or movie-watching, not have to rush for trick-or-treating (although we’re only going to hit a handful of houses, like last year), then finish the night with some hot cider or cocoa and popcorn. I mean, really, what’s better than that?

Of course with baby stuff going on, my brain has been all over the place lately. I keep telling myself to get going on the little guy’s costume…then work on something for the baby’s room, or a writing project, or planning for school…and it doesn’t get done. It’s time to change that! I’m sick of having half-done projects EVERYWHERE. But, we’re hoping to simplify stuff to the point of “that wasn’t so bad”, if you catch my drift.
When Hadman was a baby, he was a giraffe. (He was only 3 months, so it wasn’t even really a costume as much as just an outfit and we didn’t necessarily “do” anything for it.) The following year, we got a Snoopy stuffed animal and did the Charlie Brown thing, which was pretty rad. Then, last year he was an apple. Clearly he’s starting to have a say in what he gets to be.

So, what did choose this year? Unfalteringly, he selected…ghost. The classic ghost. 

I remember stories of my big brother tripping over his sheet ghost costume a million times on the steps, and having the eye holes shift downward while trying to walk. Sounds like a good time for all, right?

Let me just say: Thank you, Pinterest!!! I ended up finding this spooky (and safe!) inspiration from Parenting magazine, and was hooked…

ghost

Not only is it WAY safer, but it’s adorable, classic, and kitschy…just like our kid! 

So, I’m doing it a bit differently. I’ve assembled a thrift store ladies’ white long-sleeved t-shirt for the base (going to trim and hem the arms), black felt to make the mask (which I can’t wait to add to his dress-up box), black (and white) sneakers, and even a pair of black and white striped leggings.

I may switch those leggings for black sweat pants if it’s cold (please…no…snow). Here’s what I’ve got left to do: cut out the mask, make the white hat (probably from an old t-shirt), and alter a white pillowcase to fit comfortably over top (if I can find a reasonably-priced pillowcase; seriously, how are they more expensive than the frickin’ sheets?!). If there’s time, I may get some gauzy tulle to go over top and some white gloves, but I’m not worried about the small stuff.  

Oh, and we’ll be putting out our jack o’lantern and painting a teal pumpkin like last year to let folks know we have allergen-free goodies. This year, we’ll be handing out more of the glow-in-the-dark teeth and spider rings from last year, comic books the Dorky Daddy has stocked up on, and I DID grab a couple of bags of Surf Sweets goodies. I wrote a piece for them awhile back and am in love with their products AND ethical, inclusive practices! (Plus, I can trade out some of the candy Hadman gets with these and he won’t know the difference. Candy = candy.)

So, slowly but surely, it’s coming together. I love hearing the ideas that kiddos (and parents) come up with for costumes every year. What’re your little ghosts and goblins going as this year?

Or, better yet, what was YOUR favorite costume ever? I loved the year my mother switched my costume, last-minute, from a princess to the Tooth Fairy (since I was missing 3 or 4 front teeth at the time). She’s super creative that way.

O’, Christmas Tree

This year’s Christmas tree undertaking is one for the D-family record books. Yes, it’s Had’s first Christmas tree…but it was also our first real Christmas tree as a family. And it was completely unintentional and unplanned. Go, us!

I’ve done the “real tree” thing in years back, in a very different place in my life, so I know the deal. I’m not sure Dave has ever had a real one before, though.

What took us on this path to a real pine scent and kitty free-for-all? (Thank goodness, we asked the vet if Winston’s regular stops for a drink at the Christmas Tree Pub were of concern and he said that it was fine — and that we’re lucky the cats aren’t getting IN the tree or toppling it over. Score 2 for us.) That would be the fact that our beloved Beardslee took it upon himself to sit upon tall presents the past couple of years, inadvertently bending (and even breaking several of) the bottom branches of our old, cheap fakey. I even recall saying, as we packed up the tree last year, “I guess I’ll have to keep another eye out on Black Friday next year.” Oops. Forgot about that. Minus one point. *wop wop*

So, when we started to put the tree together in our front room (much more room for it to “shine”, and be out of the way of the baby-cluttered living room), it became apparent that it had seen its last days. And, of course, it was already heading for 9pm on a weeknight. Dangnabbit.

Being the dutiful, cheery husband that he is, Dave shlepped over to Kmart (while I was on baby duty) to see what they had in stock. Cheap-o crappola or over-priced nice? Eh. Neither, thanks. Then, he realized that Lowe’s would have some more fake-os in stock. So, he drove there (with minutes to spare before they closed). Moments later, he calls me to give a very brief description of their artificial trees, but cuts himself off with, “But, they have real!!! I know we were going to wait until we have a bigger house to do the real thing, so you can totally say ‘no’, but it’s an option.” By this point, I was getting exhausted (can’t imagine how tired he must’ve been!), so I did the, “Okay, whatever, get what you want” thing. Shortly thereafter, he’s pulling an un-bundled tree through our side door, needles spraying every which way.

The cats were in heaven. I was a tad surprised the thing wasn’t tied up, at least.

We got the thing up, with a glitch or two, in pretty good time. I had to saw off some of the bottom branches so that it would actually fit in the stand (which Dave had to buy). I didn’t bother cutting a half inch off the bottom (our saw’s dull and it was a pretty thick base), but it seems to be thriving just fine.

Of course, because of this lil’ glitch, we couldn’t decorate right away. After all, our previous tree was pre-lit and in case you didn’t know, Santa doesn’t make pre-lit real trees. Just not possible. *shrugs* So, Dave bought a lengthy strand one night and we finally got to (eventually) decorate it.

I’ve gotta admit that, while it’s more work (watering), the cats LOVE it (they haven’t gone AS nuts over the ornaments this year — just broke one! New record…knock on tree) and it turned out to be the perfect size and downright gorgeous. You can see a little of it on our annual Christmas greeting (Dave’s news station does several of these every year) —

So, what kind of tree do you use? Is it a tradition? I’m not sure if this is a tradition or not, but it has made for quite the memorable “Hadley’s First Christmas”! Oh, and I’ve heard that the eco-friendliness factor is 50/50 — reuse from year to year (but eventually ends up in a landfill) or toss out every year (with possibility of having it mulched, woohoo!)?

***Side note: Christmas card outtakes — a million shots of kitties running away or getting loopy, Hadley was coming down with the bug so the fact that we got the “smiling baby” shot astounds me, and he totally had poop up his back the whole time — I didn’t know that ’til just before we finished. That outfit is a frickin’ poop magnet. (And I totally look like a dork, but it’s not about me — it’s all about Hads and his “three wise men”.)***

Fourth of July Miscellany

What did y’all do to celebrate Independence Day? I’ll give you a little Instagram (the hubs’ iPhone) hint as to how we spent ours…
Since there’s (still) no new baby in our lives yet, and my parents came to help us play around with a shaky ceiling fan (well, the boys did that), we agreed that it might be nice to achieve one or two longstanding to-do’s on our list. Enter: table and chair set purchased around Christmas, stage right. (And that picture above? The view of our credenza/sideboard has been obstructed by the HUGE box the table was living in, which got daily clawings from Beardslee and chewings from Jasper. Chewings – that’s a word, right? Regardless, Dave hasn’t been this excited about house stuff in awhile…and, y’know what? I’m excited to have a put-together space for the baby to come home to.)
What better way to celebrate the birth of our nation (and distract us from the birth of OUR little one) than to accomplish some procrastinated projects? In this case, one of the biggest jobs was clearing out the space prior to setting up the table. Sorry, I don’t seem to have a before picture of the disaster we were dealing with. Let’s just say that we couldn’t invite friends over (even those close friends who gladly ignore clutter) to entertain for low these 6 months. Or so. I’ll remember this bad-hair-day-picture of Dave setting up the table (by far the easiest part – chairs, fine but lengthy process) the next time we’re sitting enjoying a meal or getting our arses handed to us over a game of Scattegories.

I-n’t he cute? And handy, too. Again, I don’t have pictures of us working on the chairs, but we only purchased four – mostly because of the minimal space we’re working with here. The plan down the road is to get a couple of parson’s chairs (or something else possibly upholstered) for the ends of the table. For now, we’re absolutely smitten.

Oh, and I did lots of hanging! (“We must hang together or we will most assuredly hang separately” — wow, we really DID celebrate the Fourth in style!) Here’s one example – and they’re not crooked in real life. They’re black-rimmed mirrors that came as a set of 3 for $9.99 from The Christmas Tree Shop; the third is elsewhere (and has a different frame style). The other neat thing about this picture? That’s the Boston Massacre print that we got for Dave during our last Boston trip (we got it a rustic frame, it’s pretty darn cool). Oh, and you can see the colors I’m considering for the dining room. Needless to say, I HATE THE RED. Hopefully I can “get the red out” before six months pass…again. Which also means I’ll be hunting for a fun new rug for the space, too – or switching the living room one in (quite the neutral) and finding a new one for THAT space. Decisions, decisions.

I also hung the nursery art (it’s damn near 99% finished, canyabelieveit?!) and switched out the wall hangings (my Katharine Hepburn autograph, a print on handmade paper replicating a 1683 publication entitled “The English House-Wife”, a bulletin board) and the third black-framed mirror into the office. Lots o’ hammering…and, yet, none of it seemed to “loosen” that baby! Dang it.

But, the holiday wasn’t all household chores and “why did it take us that long to do that?” funness. It was a tad too humid (pregnant lady + a guy who prefers 50 with rain = don’t fare too well in humidity) to grill like I’d intended, so I used my brand new (another Christmas gift, holy crap! I wanted the other one to bite the dust first) eco-friendly grill pan to grill up some organic hotdogs from the farmers’ market, and for lack of corn-on-the-cob, we made do with frozen corn and salads. Throw in some “John Adams” (if you have never seen this mini-series, put it on your bucket list…seriously, it’s THAT GOOD) and it made for a nice, relaxing-yet-productive day! Nevermind the disappointment of not watching “Yankee Doodle Dandy”…or delivering our own…. We make our own happiness sometimes.

Valentine’s Day

This year, I’m all about Valentine’s Day. Who knows, next year I may not be – I’m an ever-changing person who has a hard time ever making her mind up fully about…well, much. The important things (like a husband…kids…), pretty good with. The little stuff like “how do I feel about Valentine’s Day?” – eh, we’ll see.

Last year’s day o’ love was pretty crappy. I don’t recall whether I went to school, but I know that I felt AWFUL. That night, we were in the car, on our way to our favorite “only for special occasions” place to eat, when I knew we had to turn around. Neither one of us was going to enjoy it. It took months to finally get there for our “Valentine’s Day dinner.” Huge bummer.

This year has already gone smashingly. I’ve learned that, although Dave’s not a mushy guy by any means (sensitive in his thinking, yes…mushy, no), he’s got a romantic streak and seems to love showing it…when appropriate. 😉 We don’t discuss our feelings a whole lot, so it’s awesome to take some time out to communicate it, and to know you’re appreciated. Plus, this year, we’re sharing an extra special type of love — and enjoying the last semblance of peacefulness in our relationship before parenthood.

Every girl likes getting a flower. Heck, some even love it. While I’m by no means a girlie-girl, I AM a girl, after all…and I, too, enjoy gettin’ me a flower or two.

What’s even cooler is when you get a gift that millions of other people on Earth would probably roll their eyes over, hate to receive, or simply be puzzled by – but which I adore. This morning, after I got my sweet, sweet card and just as sweet pink rose (it’s a good thing pink is growing on me ;-)), I was given the third season of “Avonlea”, a TV series that I watched when I was a kid that I still LOVE to this day (which, of course, isn’t in reruns anywhere). It’s one that I’ve insisted our children watch, and strangely enough, Dave has grown to like it, too. (Mostly when a certain character is in the episode. He’s a Jasper fan. Any idea where I thought of our third little boy’s name?)

Even without our awesomesauce dinner plans tonight, I’d say this is one of the best V-days I’ve ever had. Knowing that the hubs truly knows and appreciates me (and who I am – I mean, seriously, “Avonlea”?!) just. Makes. It.

Oh, and I can’t say what I GOT for him (since I’m giving it to him this evening…and it’s more of a “made for” thing than “bought”), but I can tell you that I made him a card. Half of you will think that’s sweet…half of you will think I’m a 6-year-old. I’ll post a picture soon so that YOU can be the judge. 🙂

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day (which, by the way, is not a “made up” holiday…if it was, then I suppose you could say that ALL holidays were made up by someone ;-); my opinion just so happens to sway in the middle – it was originally a pagan fertility holiday that was merged by early Christians to represent a day to honor St. Valentine (or any variation of the name)…the old jail story’s a good one, too, though) and were able to take time to enjoy and appreciate the love in your life, from wherever it may come.

On a sentimental side note, this day has always been a bittersweet one for a seemingly random reason. My thoughts are inclined to sway into memories of my grandfather on Valentine’s Day. He was one of several men whom we considered our stand-in father (along with our brothers, and eventually a step dad). He wasn’t obligated to do anything special for my siblings and I, but he always went above and beyond the call of normal grandfatherly duties to make us feel special, and to teach us what a true gentleman should look like. As young children, he used to get my sister and I (and, if I recall correctly, my mother) each a huge box of chocolates with which to celebrate the day. Of course, now I’m a crying pregnant mess, but it reminds me of how special he made us feel, and how lucky I am to be married to just such a gentleman.

The Coal Collective

Not to intentionally be a downer (because, at this time of year, of ALL times of year, who wants that?!) but I just thought I’d share a few things that are on my “you seriously deserve a lump of coal…how do I ensure that this happens?” list. Feel free to add any of your own gripes to the comment section. Sometimes you just have to vent a lil’ bit; we’ll call it purging the negative to make room for the positive.

– Wet bus trips, you deserve some major coal. I accompanied a group of high schoolers to NYC on a class trip this week after checking the weather report, which said the rain should stop by 2pm. Major lack of “prepare for anything” on my part. Ended up soaking wet and cold (it rained the entire time), and most involved were miserable by the end of it. Christmastime in NYC is magical, but this year, I’m just glad that this trip’s over.

– Rude salespeople. Granted, rude shoppers are way worse than rude salespeople, but let me divert the conversation and clarify for a moment. During our soggy shlep through the streets of NYC, we stopped to see the infamous Rockefeller Christmas tree. While there, we have a tradition of stopping at a tres expensive, tres delicious chocolatier (which shall remain nameless). Upon entering, I was fully planning on getting some orange cream chocolates for the love of my life. After browsing for about 10 seconds (yes, dripping wet and enjoying the first roof I’d had in two hours), a worker whom I remember purchasing items from in previous years shouted out to the crowded shoppe that this was a place to purchase, not “hang out” and to leave if we were only there to warm up. Wicked snooty. I loudly voiced that I had been planning on making a purchase, but didn’t feel in a jolly mood to do so any longer. Sometimes ya just gotta speak up…most of the time I don’t.

– Unexpected illnesses. These can hit anyone – you, your loved ones, your friends, your colleagues – but when they throw a scary bump in the road, they can be terrifying and always unwelcome. On the bright side, they definitely make you count your blessings.

– The cat that insists on dumping a very large, very full bowl of water all over the kitchen floor. Subsequently, due to the consistency of said cat, parts of our awesome B and W floor have yellowed. ‘Nuff said. (WINSTON!!!!!)

– Faceless Facebook rudies. While I DO do my best to stay away from this toxic place, I have found myself stumbling upon some of the offensive, bigoted, close-minded comments on FB lately. I suppose it’s my own fault. Coal to me – time to back away from the FB madness again!

– Similarly rude local yocals. I’m all for the general working class that helps our local society run – heck, I consider myself one of them (along with, oh, say, all of my relatives who have ever lived and worked in the Mohawk Valley). But, the ignorance that they spout when some major issues arise (such as a possible huge merger of 4 school districts), without educating themselves of all the facts, or the same ignorantly rude phone calls that my husband hears day in and day out…the general lack of class and human compassion is enough to shoot smoke from my ears, pack up the family, and head out. Unfortunately, there is no utopian area where everyone is at least open-minded (we don’t want a homogenous place with absolutely no diversity or free thought; quite the opposite). We have often spoken about boarding a way-back machine, if the opportunity were ever to arise. *sigh* Let’s just say that these are the people who are first to make complaints about our area (never do they offer a solution or to help), only to drive folks like us away who’d LIKE to help the area move in a good direction.

So, yeah. Those mainly uncontrollable pet peeves that can ruin an otherwise happy existence. Speaking of which, I suppose I should leave you with some “yay! I’m happy because…” moments…’cuz it is the “most wonderful time of the year”, after all, and I can’t be half empty without being half full.

– Our health. Sure, we creak and have strange aches and issues that we’re trying to attack with eating right and all that fun stuff…but, for the most part, we’re healthy. No terminal illnesses here. Whew…we’re luckier than many. Far too many.

– We have a house. It’s crooked. There are a plethora of other issues with it. But, it’s ours, our payments are incredibly reasonable, and it’s a great place to “start out”. I’m reminded from time to time of how lucky I am to HAVE this house, mostly by dear friends who only wish they could afford such a luxury.

– The love in our lives. We have support – as a loving married couple, from our dear friends and family, from a few strange cats (who show their love in very weird ways). It’s all good.

– The miracles of life that happen everyday. I received a new niece this year, and any time you look at a baby, you know that it’s an amazing gift. This little animatronic creature, with little to zero knowledge in its head, none of the aforementioned rudeness or will to be naughty, EXISTS. Neat!

– Jobs. We’re working. We’re paying our bills. Our minds wander to other places to keep us sane, but for now, we’re able to live life, put food on the table, and make a Christmas for ourselves…and isn’t that enough?

There are probably a million more, but don’t forget – if you’d like to vent, feel free to comment below. 🙂 Here’s to karma and Santa putting some coal in the stockings of the annoyances of life…and here’s to a little cheer to those who try to make life something wonderful and good!

Black Friday

I’m all for Black Friday. As you may already know, it’s sort of a tradition (albeit one that we could drop in the future if things get hectic) for my sister and I to have a bit of a sleepover on Thanksgiving, getting up around the 3am area, and shlepping out to stock up on reasonably-priced items. All year, I see a deal and think, “Is it as good as a Black Friday deal?” It has helped me define what I’m willing to pay for an item. This doesn’t apply to those one-of-a-kind items that will remind me that, “We bought that on our anniversary trip!” or “I got that for Dave when I was chaperoning a trip to NYC.” But, yeah. A deal is a deal.

I’m discouraged, however, when I tell people that, yes, I do, indeed, shop Black Friday. It’s assumed that I’ll…say…be willing to pepper spray a crowd to get at a wide-screen TV…or…say…pull hair and punch out some teeth for a cheap phone. Just because I, in verb form, “Black Friday”, doesn’t make me crazy. Lots of other things I’m do can attest to my craziness, I’m sure. But the fact that I want to spend some quality time shopping with my sister, obtain some considerable deals whenever possible (although, alas, the jeans I usually can snag for $11 were $14 this year…sigh), and start off the holiday season with warmth in my heart does not, in fact, make me crazy.

I know why I get an eyebrow raise or sneer, I do. I do my best to laugh it off. If they don’t understand that it’s part of a holiday tradition for me, that’s fine. Heck, I wrote an impassioned essay in college as to the hell of working Thanksgiving/Black Friday in retail – I’ve been there! I always try to be super polite to the workers, and honestly, we just have basic cable…do you think we’ll be getting a flat-screen anytime soon? Dave’s proud of the fact that we won’t, and that we have another extra old TV in the basement as insurance.

But, when I call my mother for our also-traditional 5am phone call (once we get to the second floor of JC Penney…it’s usually quieter and, here’s a hint, the lines are way shorter) or receive a text from my husband, both having watched the morning news and both worrying because a local Walmart had a case of trampling and other rude behavior, I get mad. Not mad at my mom (she has as much fun waiting to hear what we bought, especially since she usually sends us with a list – which I have fun finding!) or my husband (he’s a worrier, and I love him). I get mad at those fools who give the rest of us a bad name.

There’s a new reason that it’s called Black Friday. That blackness that can be found in every man’s soul (mind you, I also believe that there’s good in every single person, as well) seems to rise like cream to the top when a sick deal is to be had. Or, perhaps the tryptophan comas make folks cranky…if they even wait to finish their meal before going to a (I CAN’T BELIEVE IT) Thanksgiving Day sale! One might also call it Black and Blue Friday, and it’s shameful.

This is why my sister and I try to hit the lower-stress places. We never go to Walmart or Best Buy (well, we did BB years ago, but it was a lesson in patience and self defense). We almost always go to a department store, like JC Penney or Macy’s, depending upon the sales available. Some years, the items we need are split between numerous stores, so depending upon a) what deals will be gone already and b) how crazy busy the place will be, we prioritize. It takes a lot of strategery (name that SNL comedian) to keep one’s sanity on Black Friday.

We also try to go to a store that will provide more of a sense of Christmasy-ness, when possible. This year, after stocking up at JCP, we went to Michael’s. Just seeing the ornaments and decorations (even when not purchasing them; last year I remember stocking up at Hobby Lobby, though) and hearing the Christmas music (rather than the rumble of the crowd) is lovely.

Not that the experience at JCP was bad. The only difficulty was asking people if you could break through the line to get to a different section, since it was so long. It’s like they think we’d steal their spot in line. Nope, just need to look at the men’s socks.

We even had some silly, fun moments. Upon finding a particular shirt display (at an insanely low price), I dove in only to realize that the woman next to me was telling me all about her son’s size…at which time SHE realized that I wasn’t her shopping companion. We laughed quite a bit and I told her that she could tell me about his sizing all she likes – my brothers had impossible to find sizes, so I could relate. There were several moments like this. People weren’t fighting to get what they wanted. If the store was out, they were out.

As it happened, my sister thought that she’d missed out on an insane deal (I can’t say what the item was…this is Christmas, after all!), but at least we’d gotten everything else. While taking a moment to relax and call my mother, the manager came out with a cart full of the item to re-stock. Sometimes politeness karma really does exist! AND, since we had tons of time to spare (did we really HAVE to get up at 3:30?), we decided to shop a bit for her baby daughter. While we didn’t find much, we realized that the line had dwindled down to nothing…and the same thing happened for the customer service area (for obtaining boxes). What luck!

After a deliciously filling breakfast with my hubby and brother-in-law (Mary, alas, had to work — can you imagine, doing Black Friday then working?! I’m too lucky), Dave and I even hit up some more local shoppes. Just don’t tell him he went Black Friday shopping. I guess if it isn’t before 8am, it doesn’t count. 😉

Christmas Card

Christmas cards. Where does your mind go when you hear that phrase? A cramped hand and stressed shoulders over having to make out dozens of cards to folks you haven’t talked to in awhile? The enjoyment of thinking of your loved ones while sticking on stamps? The variety of designs (and self-made digital photo options) that you can choose to send? The “aw, crap, another one” feeling when you receive one in the mail from a person you hadn’t sent to?

Sure, I think about these things, too. But, from about Halloween ’til now, my mind jumps to a different kind of Christmas card. It isn’t literally a card, but that’s what it’s called. I suppose it should be called a “greeting” – one that incorporates a not-terribly-well-known-unless-you’ve-lived-in-the-Mohawk-Valley-awhile song that is *ahem* illegally *ahem* used. But take away the song, and it’s not the same.

My husband is, some would say, lucky enough to work at one of our local news stations. I admire the work and stress that he endures in order to bring the most thorough, accurate-as-possible, locally-encompassing news coverage in the area. And now that they have competition, I’ve noticed what an incredible job he does even more.

So, annually, the hard-working folks at his station get a little personal air time for themselves and their families (or friends, or whatever may be the case). It’s a way for folks at home to know more about the people that they *think* they already know – who’s married, who has kids, who works behind the scenes, who has pets, etc. Oftentimes these short videos are a mash-up of simple, sweet “waving” shots. Dave and I, however…well, this is last year….

…aaaaaand the year before, well, it isn’t available online anymore. Poop. Let’s just say it involved Dave being pelted by a snowball….

A little wacky, right? Wouldn’t want to be anything other than ourselves, after all. So, of course, here comes the stumper – we’re trying to figure out what to do for this year. We’ve now got 3, count ’em 3 cats. Even doing a basic waving one with 3 cats would be close to impossible, mainly because of that old “like herding cats” saying. It’s so very true. You just can’t do it!

We’ve got a long-shot idea that we’ll keep under our hats JUST IN CASE it works out and we magically have enough time to git ‘er done, but I’ve got another idea or two that are way lame that I simply won’t mention because…well, they’re lame. I know that I probably think about it more than Dave does, but that’s probably because I work at a way slower pace throughout the day (for the most part) so my brain has more time to wander around. 😉

It’s just interesting to think about how most Christmas cards get read by 20…50…100…200 people, max. These get seen by…well, let’s just say way more. I guess we’d better get working on it! After all, we’ve got our first bit of snow for the year, finally.

So, not that we need advice as to what to do (I’m sure we’ll figure something out – we always do!), but what I’ll leave you with today is this: What would YOU do if you had a 5-10 second spot (or in some cases, cut down from 30 seconds! We’re bad, I know) to say ‘hi’ or act out in your own way?

P.S. Yes, we still do normal Christmas cards. After all, we love the traditionalism of hand-writing a message to people we love, and Dave is SO on top of things like birthdays and anniversaries (seriously, it’s crazy! Folks from high school, egad!!) that I’d probably have to cut off his right arm to get him NOT to send them. So, we do our “friend” ones mostly separately, and our “we know them together” ones together (or at least choose the appropriate card together). We’ve got such a mismatch of cards that we often have lots to choose from…although during our Boston trip over the summer, we happened upon a Borders (*sniff, sniff*) that had some cards that perfectly matched some of our old ones at home on uber-clearance. And guess who spotted them. Yep, Mr. Remembers Every Birthday, himself. I’m so proud of that guy.

Giving Thanks While Busy as Heck

Sorry I’ve been a tad MIA lately! I’ve been exhausted, and now that our show (“Arsenic and Old Lace”) is over, I’ve got the Book Fair arriving at school TOMORROW. Of course, throw in more theater board responsibilities, and things get a little nuts. But, isn’t it the season for nuts?

Tee hee, I totally just wrote that. I really mean nuttiness. Things get hectic, but would we really want it any other way? Well, sure. I’m already thinking, “I can’t wait until Thanksgiving” with the fervor usually reserved for kids and Halloween candy or Santa. But, seriously. I really, really can’t wait. I won’t be over-stressed. (After all, I’m not cooking!) I will enjoy being with loved ones. And the day after, I will (tentatively) go shopping crazy early with my dear sister. It’s a tradition of fun, and we wouldn’t keep doing it if we didn’t have fun.

I told you last year how I really don’t mind the strange amalgamation of Thanksgiving and Christmas. (If Halloween gets in on the party, though, I’ll have to put my foot down. Too freaky. It needs to be its own thing. One that scares me – I mean it, I’m not a huge Halloween fan. I guess my students would say I’m a Halloweenie.) But, Thanksgiving and Christmas are like cousins to me – it’s okay for them to get together once in awhile; in fact, it’s only natural.

While the literal definition of each holiday is obviously different (Jesus and Pilgrims…hmm), the themes and emotions behind them are the same. See your loved ones and enjoy your time with them. Be grateful for the things that you have and help out those in need. Eat some great food (but be sure that you’ve given some to someone else, be it a food drive or a humane society). Enjoy some sloth. Think about how important the “simple” things are. Depending on your religious affiliation, thank God for everything. It’s all good – literally!

Again, this is why I’m totally fine listening to Christmas music now…even when we have strange 60-degree weather. (I will NOT be this pleased if December hits and we have nothing to show for it. There’s a reason “White Christmas” is one of my favorite songs.) It’s way cheerier than most of the music I hear the rest of the year!

I think that the jolliness of friends, family and classic Christmas music help temper the rudeness of distracted drivers and selfish shoppers. It’s a huge feat when I can finish a morning of Black Friday shopping with my sister and not be downtrodden by what mankind has become. Mind you, this feat rarely ever happens. Often, I find myself riding shotgun after my husband and I have enjoyed my brother-in-law’s incredible Black Friday Brunch near tears over a person who nearly hit us (and then gave US the finger) or over a fight that broke out while shopping at 6am, only to finally resolve that the rest of my holiday shopping would be accomplished online. *sigh*

It’s not for lack of optimism and cheeriness on the part of my sister and I. We figure there’s no point in going Christmas shopping if you’re not in the holiday spirit. We bring tea or cocoa, and in the past were even known to sing Christmas carols while waiting in line. People either rolled their eyes or joined in. And, in a nutshell (there are those nuts again), I think that’s what a simplified cross-section of mankind would be: those who join in with the song and those who roll their eyes.

This is the first day of the holiday season…the first day that it’s socially acceptable to start celebrating. I always wonder what percentage of the items on Black Friday are given as gifts, and what percentage are going straight on the TV stand or into one’s closet. Sure, consumers can buy as they like, but it really brings down the day when it’s about “me, me, me” rather than “my kids, my parents, my siblings, my loved ones”. It bothers me when people see it as an excuse to act grabby, selfish and downright rude. Probably one reason I don’t go for the big ticket items. Slippers, please! 😉

So, while some of you may want to fight the holiday season with all your might and others of you may embrace it even more than I do, I just want to say that I hope you all get to truly enjoy it this year. And don’t forget to really give thanks, in whatever way you see fit. Now, I suppose I should finally figure out what I’ll be BUYING for people this year!

Earth Day — in our own way

My fiance, Dave, and I stumbled upon “Food, Inc.” on PBS last night and were equally touched and horrified by what we saw. I gotta tell ya, well-produced documentaries sure are the way to get tears and fears out of me, but I suppose that’s what they’re meant to do. I hate to fall into the trap, but I agree with and accept the information they provide — in general.

While watching it, my mind started hopping from thought to thought. Why are we so dependent on big business? Has it been given too much of an opportunity to grow, thus take over our lives? Are Americans (well, many humans, not just us) so ignorant that they follow the leader so eagerly (and lazily)? I don’t want to sound overly hippie, but this all turned my stomach…well, it could’ve been all the slaughter scenes, but anyhoo….

One reason that Dave and I get along so well is that we seem to transcend time. No, we’re not Dr. Who or Marty McFly. We’re just very connected to past time periods. I’m not sure about him, but I’ve always wished that I could live in a different time, from the Colonial period to 19th century to the 1940s to the 1960s…hard to live in the now, but we are where we are. I know the grass isn’t always greener, but when it comes to eating, I wonder if we’d be a lot better off living a century ago. So, my first extreme idea was to buy a farm, quit our jobs and start a whole new lifestyle.

Go ahead, take the time you need to finish laughing. I can wait. 🙂

Not even sure Dave understood what I meant when I tearfully explained that. But, I never expected it to become a reality. The second idea was less extreme…but still extreme: moving away to an area that has more resources for healthy living. Of course, this would mean leaving family, friends and jobs. Not something that we’re currently ready to do.

So, the compromise that Dave came up with after sleeping on it a bit was to take our first steps to get healthier — and we don’t mean in order to lose weight, but to retrain our bodies not to depend on the salt, sugar and fat that they have thus far grown to crave. Mmm. Sugar. *shakes head* That’s gonna be a tough one.

In our area of the country, we’ve gotta drive about half an hour to a modestly-sized city (where Dave works) or an hour to the east or west for a larger option. We’re between suburban and rural; we’re relatively close to farms but they still seem foreign. Many of my students live on farms, and a lot of the kids I went to school with back in the day (a town over from where we currently live) also lived on farms. Oh, and suffice it to say, Dave’s from the above city and my parents both grew up on farms (Mom eventually dated a dairy farmer, so I spent lots of time on it during that time — being a youngster on a farm has its merits), so farms are a little less foreign to me since I’ve vast experience scraping cow pies into gutters. Yessiree.

While you’d think that a quasi-rural area like this would allow us tons of great organic produce, it isn’t necessarily the case. We still rely on Walmart, Aldi (man, why can’t they have more organics?!) and Hannaford for groceries; the harsh winters take up most of the year, so farmers markets get set up for the summer — making it rough the rest of the year. Also, much of the “goods” the local farmers create are for a larger market, so they’re feeding (literally) right into the big business hype. *sigh* Sometimes we think that if we lived closer to a city, we’d have an easier time living differently. Strange how that works.

But, there’s some good news (albeit not cost-effective), and it’s what Dave’s great idea is. We found a local buying club called The Foodshed Buying Club on Facebook which, depending on the time of year and availability, offers eggs, meat, produce, etc from local farmers. You can order by Sunday night and pick up your goods that Friday or Sunday. There’s an annual $15 fee for their services (can’t blame ’em, and that’s not too bad, is it?), you get organic, hormone-free foods, AND support local farmers who, in turn, support our cause — buying locally.

So, here’s our first step — talking. Ohhhh, it sounds so simple, but rather than jumping in and spending a fortune (which we don’t have) on everything the Foodshed has to offer, we’re going to discuss our priorities and what we can’t already buy at a sufficiently healthy level in a “normal” environment. So far, my priorities are as follows:

  • MEAT!!! Ew. What are they FEEDING us?! We were raised as the traditional, all-American omnivores (with a big accent on the meat and potatoes…or heavy pasta), which there’s nothing wrong with. Well. There sort of is. We’re flabbier than we probably could/should be, and that probably has something to do with it. Regardless, once I’ve used up all the bulk goodies in the freezer, I’m buying no more meat from the grocery stores (unless specifically labeled as grass-fed…which is rare around here). This is one area that we will pay a pretty penny, and rightfully so.
  • Dairy – All the corn-fed (corn sounds healthy…it’s not…and it ain’t natural) cattle are producing hormone-infested milk and cheese products. Now, we’re not big milk-drinkers (didn’t we drink it, like, constantly as kids?) but I’d like to get into the habit of not grabbing whatever plastic container is cheapest, especially since we’d like to have a brood of our own one day. Instead, here’s one place that we’re a little luckier. Hannaford has organic milks as well as some locally-produced no-hormone brands which aren’t uber pricey — so, shall we say score?! Yes. They and the Foodshed also have great cheeses and yogurts which, although slightly expensive, aren’t enjoyed that much in the McCoy-Dellecese household, so will be a nice splurge here and there.
  • Produce – Here’s where I’ll have to do some experimenting. I’m not completely ignorant; I know that just because it’s a fruit or veggie, it’s not necessarily “good for” us. But, this is also the area that I think leaves us the most wiggle room. It’s still way healthier than hormone-laden meats and poultry, so, for now, we’ll work on getting fruits and veggies that help us stay within our budget.
  • Grains – Since I don’t bake as much as I should (why can’t I be Donna Reed?), I figure I can splurge on the whole wheat and organic flours from Foodshed. The harder thing is figuring out what to feed my guy — brown rice is always a go-to, but pretty boring, and anything with a strange-sounding name is a no-no. He’s a little like a child with some foods; I guess we all are in our own ways (I hate hate HATE raw tomatoes). Here’s where I’ll need to do some research. ANY SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME! 😀

We’ve already gotten well underway with our beverage consumption (except for that moo juice!), drinking mostly seltzer or flavored waters with zero additives, juice, plain water, etc. The occasional soda (ginger ale) gets tossed in when we’re feeling naughty. Oh, okay, and beer or wine, but those are social or mental health beverages (rough day at work much?), and consumed rarely.

So, that’s a start, I think. We’ll update when things get further underway. I know there’s a lot more in our area that’s still untapped. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to take a new stance on our own impact? Well, at least I’m not crying over meat anymore.