Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 3 Worst Christmas Gifts of All Time

Here we go!

3. The most God-awful sweater ever made. A gift from my Mother-In-Law the first year that JeepMan and I were dating. It defies explanation.

Suffice to say it was knitted in olives, pumpkins, browns, hot pinks, and yellows. Colors which, mostly, I would never wear individually, and which were heinous in concert. There were 4 panels woven into the front, each featuring a 3D of which had dangling balls, right over the boob.

You'll be glad to know I smiled and thanked her. In the car later, JeepMan asked me: "You aren't really going to WEAR that thing, are you?"

To this day I am unsure if she really thought I'd like it, or if it was re-gifted (she's since been caught red-handed doing just that), or if it was a not-so-subtle "you're not good enough for my only son, beeyatch!" kind of gift.

Oh well, I'm still here...take that!!

2. (Formerly #1) A six-pack of underwear from my Grandmother. I was about 13, at that age where everything embarassed me. And I opened these. In front of my entire extended family.

Oh, did I mention they were USED? Yeah. They had once been my mom's!!

My darling Grandma had saved them all these years because you could "hardly tell they'd been worn," and she thought I'd like to have them. God bless her; she lived through the Depression and she saves everything.

Again, I smiled and thanked her, then shoved them deep down into a bag. When we got in the car later, my mom told me gently, "When we get home, you can throw those things away. I can't believe she gave them to you!" I'd never been so relieved!

1. We have a new #1 this year, thanks to JeepMan's Uncle Mike. MIL's brother. He works sporadically, usually as a painter (of structures, not fine arts). He rarely has any money, what he makes he spends on cigarettes and beer. We never expect him to get us anything, and we've told him that before. Still, he insists. Usually I open his gift, smile, nod, and think, "well, it's the thought that counts."

This year was different. JeepMan opened our gift from Uncle Mike and what to our wondering eyes did appear? A gallon-sized ZipLoc bag full of coffee. In individual 4-cup packages. In an interesting coincidence, this summer Uncle Mike had painted the interior of a church and some dorms....places where one might find just such packages of coffee.

There had to be 25-30 packets stuffed into this plastic baggie. JeepMan and I just stared at it. Uncle Mike said, "You guys drink coffee, don't you?" We just nodded. And carefully laid the bag aside.

A gallon bag of stolen coffee. My new #1 worst Christmas present ever!!

"When even the thought doesn't count!!"

Anyone else want to share?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coming Up for a Holiday Breather

Just a quick note to let you all know that I am indeed alive, and that I will try to resume my posting schedule (and I use that term loosely) this coming week. I'm hangin' with the fam at my folks' house, stuffing my face and basking in the familiarity and closeness that is ever-abundant in this, the home I grew up in.

For almost a week now, I have been wallowing in the holidays. In my own family, this means goodness, excess, and love of family. In JeepMan's family, it means excess, tension, and a thinly-veiled and ill-maintained facade of "family appreciation." It's sad, really.

But if nothing else, these contrasting holiday scenarios have made me appreciate what I have even more.

And they provide fantastic blog fodder!!

In upcoming posts look for:

-A list of my top 3 worst Christmas gifts of which was this year.

-A rundown of Christmas at JeepMan's, with character sketch emphasis.

-A funny or two from the kidlets.

-And, if I get on the ball, a New Year's introspective.

So thanks for hangin' with me, and I'll see you real soon.


....Hmmm....are the chocolate-dipped espresso cookies all gone.....?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TINTINTS Thursday 12/18

Things I Never Thought I'd Have To Say:

"It's NOT okay to tell your mom she's 'sexy.'"

Plato, in his 7-year-old mind, thinks I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. Bless his heart.

And I appreciate that; I really do. I think it's super-sweet and I know he won't think that much longer.

At least I hope he won't.

But one day he gave me a bear hug and a big smooch, started rubbing his hands over the sleeves of my silky blouse, and proclaimed: "Mommy, you're ssseeexxxyyy!"

At which point he, albeit innocently enough, crossed that line from cute to creepy and I had to put my foot down.

Now. Try explaining to a 7-year-old what 'sexy' is, and why it does not apply to his mom, no matter how beautiful he might think she is.

Can you say, "AWKWARD?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Forehead-Slapper

I almost forgot to post this gem from our Moab vacation last month.

As you know, we took the In-Laws with us. We thought long and hard about this decision. On the plus side, they claimed to have interest in off-roading, and what better place to go than Moab? They could also help with the kids, and if they weren't into off-roading, they could hang with the kids and we could have some time to ourselves. They have a Nissan Armada (which I refer to as the "land yacht"), so there was lots of space to put stuff. Our Jeep has very limited storage space (much like our house).

On the minus side? They can drive us nuts in very short order. They are indecisive, yet tend to be dissatisfied (especially MIL) with the decisions that are inevitably made for them. Our interests vary widely. We do not operate at the same speed. In short, spending 10 days with them could have very easily spoiled our much-anticipated vacation.

And then there's "THE GAP."

JeepMan and I have similar intelligence levels. Similar social skills. Similar levels of tolerance and acceptance and easygoing-ness. FIL? He's mostly just along for the ride. He really has no other option, being married to MIL.

MIL. What can I say? She's just not like us. I marvel that JeepMan shares any of her genetic material. I can't even begin to list where the differences begin. Suffice to say, neither JeepMan nor I would voluntarily hang with her if there were no blood relation. Alas, you cannot choose your relatives.

This is not to say that we can't tolerate her. We must, and we do. As I stated: we are tolerant, accepting, and easygoing...skills we employ every time we are together with her.

One of the things she does that drives me the craziest is that she speaks without thinking. Just whatever pops into her brain, it pops right out her mouth. Unfortunately it is often at the most annoying times: while watching a movie, while having a conversation with a group, to random strangers such as wait staff and store clerks. The issue isn't just that she makes moronic commentary, but that she rarely realizes the inanity, and thus expects serious consideration to be given to whatever has just been said. At which point JeepMan and/or I are tasked with trying to address her comment or question with as much feigned seriousness and geniune tact as possible; i.e., without making her feel like a complete idiot. It's a thin line to tread, my friends, and it taxes my serenity greatly.

Since starting this blog, I've attempted to create a little mental vault to try to store her asinine remarks as future blog fodder. It helps me to be a bit more positive when, say, we are watching a baseball game and she is yakking on about how fat the players are and why do they spit so much, and why do they always wear white pants when they KNOW they're just gonna get dirty?

Back to vacation, then. We were leaving after spending 2 days traveling out and 5 days in Moab. Moab lies in a curve of the Colorado river. We first sighted the river in Colorado, then followed it, more or less, into Utah. We had taken a scenic drive into Moab through a canyon carved out by the Colorado. We crossed it going to Arches National Park. We crossed it going to see dinosaur footprints. We photographed it from multiple overlooks. We crossed it yet again going to Hooray Pass and Chicken Corners. In short, we encountered it multiple times in those 7 days, and even ate Thanksgiving dinner in a lodge overlooking it.

Why, oh why then, dear God, did this statement come out of her mouth on our way out of Moab, as we were crossing the bridge over the Colorado River, on that 7th day? Why?

"Hey, that sign says 'Colorado River.' Are we that close to Colorado?"

Silence in the car. She can't think what I think she thinks. Maybe it was a rhetorical question. Yeah. That's it. Maybe she'll drop it....

"Shouldn't it be the 'Utah River,' now that we're in Utah?"


FIL stepped up and took this one for the team: "No, it's still the Colorado River. It goes all the way through to Arizona. It's the same river that goes through the Grand Canyon."

MIL was quiet.

But only for a second. "Really? I thought that rivers named for states were just only in those states."

Did I mention that she lives about 8 blocks from the Mississippi river? In Iowa?

No, Seriously. I'm not kidding.

FIL pointed this out, tactfully. Bless his heart.

"OH! I guess you're right!! I never thought about that before!"

A long silence. JeepMan and I were exchanging eyerolls and trying not to bust out laughing.

She just couldn't help herself, though:

"Does the Mississippi River even GO through Mississippi?"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be Like This Guy

Last Friday night, I was on the last segment of my flight, due to arrive at 9pm. Like 90% of Friday night air travelers, I was exhausted and just wanted to keep to myself. Most of us have been out of town on business, and this time of year in the midwest brings a myriad of blights on the already mercurial air-travel experience. Delays, overweight and/or overbooked flights, and the dreaded flight cancellation all loom ominously larger in winter, especially for the well-seasoned traveller.

All of these factors, coupled with the urgency to get home after a long week away make Friday nights in airports especially charged with negative energy.

As I was boarding my plane, I saw a mother hugging and kissing her son, who was wearing a letterman's jacket that said 09 on the sleeve. The fact that she was allowed to accompany him to the boarding gate (unheard of in post-9/11 times) coupled with the way she clung to him - a little too hard, a little too long- before wishing him luck and telling him everything would be ok, caught my attention. Immediately I marked him as having some kind of mental disorder.

Then I shot up a prayer to St. Christopher, Patron Saint of Travellers: Please, don't let him be sitting by me.

I am ashamed to admit that I do this frequently. I scope out the crowd at the boarding gate and wonder which one I will be sitting next to. Inevitibly I find a few I really hope I won't be sitting next to: the extremely obese guy in grungy sweatpants, the somewhat tipsy lady chatting incessantly to someone she obviously doesn't know, the woman holding her rosary and praying, who jumps every time an announcement comes over the intercom, the guy who speaks exceptionally limited English and is asking anyone he can make eye contact with about his ticket, bags, etc.

Then I feel like crap for being such a bitch.

I guess part of me feels that I've helped a heck of a lot of people in my lifetime, and is it too much to ask to be able to sit in my miniscule airplane seat and just read a book, without having to smell, touch, listen to, talk to, or otherwise be imposed upon by the person who just happened to be assigned to the seat next to me?

Yep, bitchy.

At any rate, I got on the plane and realized this kid was behind me and to my right, at a window seat (I always take an aisle seat). His nose was plastered to the window and he was watching all the ground activity with avid interest. I thanked St. Christopher for coming through for me, and settled in to my "luxurous" airline seat for the ride home. Then a middle-aged businessman took the seat next to the kid, and the kid pounced on him.

"Hi, I'm Greg! I've never been on a plane before! This is so cool! I'm really nervous though. What's your name?"

I groaned mentally, feeling very sorry for that guy. He responded politely but noncommitally, which an ordinary person would have interpreted as "Thanks for the offer, but I'd really prefer not to chat with you. No offense."

But Greg was far from an ordinary person. He related his whole travel story to this man, and because his voice carried quite well, soon much of the plane knew of this kid's situation. He was going to visit his uncle, his uncle had paid for the ticket. He had never flown, and was excited and scared. Where was the businessman from? Oh, yeah, that was close to where he was going. What was the weather like there? What did the businessman do? Wow! He flew in planes all the time? Wasn't he scared that he'd die in a plane crash? Had he ever had to go out an emergency exit?What's that sound? The cargo door shutting? Where's the cargo door? Where was the businessman from again? Oh, yeah, that was close to where he was going! ....Oh boy....they're closing the plane door.... We're going to be okay, right? Must be about time...!

As the plane pushed back from the gate, the kid's mood escalated. As the flight attendants gave their spiel about plane safety, emergy exit rows, water landings, etc, the kid was quiet. Then he said to the man, as quietly as he could, "Well, I don't feel like any of those things are going to happen on THIS flight, do you?" The man assured him that those things were rare, and that he had flown enough times that if anything did happen, he would help the kid out; he had heard those instructions hundreds of times. The kid breathed a sigh of relief, and said, "Well, I'm glad I'm sitting by YOU then! Thanks." Then he got real quiet for the taxi. I sincerely hoped the kid wasn't going to go off the deep end as we took off, or freak completely in flight. My years of nursing experience taught me to always be wary of the quiet ones.

As the plane took off, the kid's nose was once again plastered to the window. He couldn't contain his excitement, and nearly yelled, "WOAH!! THIS IS AMAZING!" Most of us hid our surreptitious smiles, and I was reminded for a moment of how it felt to take that first flight.

The kid was nervous, though, and anxiously questioned every sound, every bump, every speed change and bank of the plane. The man reassured him tirelessly, and very patiently. He told the kid many times, "Everything's fine. Really. It's all normal. You're going to be okay, OK?"

By the time we landed, the kid was elated. He'd finished his journey. It was the coolest thing he'd ever done. He couldn't wait to tell his uncle. The businessman "shared" in his enthusiasm, and congratulated him on being a great traveller. They parted ways with a, "Good luck," and a "Nice to have met you," and that was that.

I really really wanted to pat the businessman on the back and tell him how much I admired him for being so patient and supportive of that kid, and for bolstering his confidence and not squelching his enthusiasm. I didn't though, because I didn't want to embarass the kid. Or the man. He knew he had done well, and hearing it from me could have done more harm than good.

That kid had a 95% chance of sitting beside someone who would have tried his or her best to ignore him. Or pooh-pooh his anxiety. Or look with disdain on his enthusiasm. Or shut him out entirely. It could have ruined his whole experience. Yet this kid was lucky enough to sit next to a man who was able to look far enough beyond his own frustrations and exhaustion to see that this kid needed someone to lean on for the 45 minutes we would be in the air. And then he made the decision to give this kid what he needed, wholeheartedly, and with sincerity.

I'd like to think I would have done the same. But I honestly don't know if I could have on that particular Friday night flight.

Or if I could have, if I would have? And if I would have, would I have been able to do it with such goodwill and genuine concern?

I just don't know.

But witnessing this act has made me certain that I now have an example to live up to.

Bless you, patient and kind businessman, wherever you may be. You've made a positive difference in that kid's life, and in mine too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Congratulations are in Order

The Drofen's had their son last night, a whopper at 8 lbs 13 oz, after just 3 pushes by superwoman Mrs. Drofen!

Pop on over to The Fourth Strike for a pic of the little guy and another of proud big sis! Leave them a comment, and tell 'em I sent ya!

Yay for babies!

TINTINTS Thursday 12/11/08

Things I Never Thought I'd Need To Say:

"Look at me. LOOK at me. Are you listening? If I pass out or stop breathing, check my pulse. HERE. Can you feel that? If you DON'T feel that you'll need to do CPR. Put both of your hands HERE, and push down hard and fast. Don't worry if you feel my ribs break - Just keep doing it. And after every 30 compressions, hold my nose, tilt my head back, and give me a big breath. You have to keep doing that until the ambulance gets here. It'll seem like forever, but you CAN'T STOP. Do you understand? OK, just don't leave me, please?"

You can read the whole story HERE. Ironically, it happened on a Thursday.

(cue Twilight Zone Music)


KLS, Student Nurse


Student RN Tiffany

Be sure to check their comments for some hidden gems, as well!

Thanks for playing!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who Knew?

I'm in my hotel room, working (can't you tell?) and the movie "Eragon" is playing in the background. I saw this movie when it was in theaters, and remember liking it fairly well. No, I haven't read the books, so I don't have an opinion there. But for sheer entertainment, I didn't feel my money was wasted.

I remember being pleasantly surprised that John Malkovich, one of my all-time favorite actors, was in the movie. But I remember being most intrigued by the character "Durza," henchman of the king (Malkovich) and wizard/shade/generally creepy bad guy. I remember wondering who the actor was who played Durza...I thought he was incredibly good, and vaguely familiar. Here's a Durza Tribute from YouTube. Unfortunately there's no dialogue but you can get a gander at him:

So there he is. Creepy, huh?

So at the time that I saw the movie, I thought maybe it was Paul Reubens. You may remember him as Pee Wee Herman? Or you may remember him for his infamous adult movie theater incident. Either way, take a look:

You can see the resemblance to Durza, right? Right?

So imagine my surprise when I Yahoo'd the movie and found out where I'd REALLY seen this guy.

I was stunned.

And impressed.

(drum roll please...)

This Guy:

Is THIS Guy:

Oh, I SEE the resemblance. Now.

But in The Full Monty, Robert Carlyle's character "Gaz" was about as polar opposite of "Durza" as possible. And yet Carlyle played them both so convincingly!

I was impressed to learn that Carlyle starred in the film adaptation of my favorite book of all time, ever: Angela's Ashes. I never saw the movie because I didn't want to be disappointed. I can't fathom how one would even START to put the work of Frank McCourt to film. If you've ever read his books, you know what I'm talking about. A large percentage of the pleasure of reading his stories is the READING part...but I digress.

I know I've seen Carlyle in other films as well, but he always seems to be that guy that I can't quite place, but who puts on a good show (ha ha). I will now start paying more attention to him as an actor.

Interestingly, he played Hitler in a TV miniseries a few years back. I never heard about it, and I'm not sure I could stomach it, but I may have to rent it just to see Carlyle act. Here's a pic:

And the creepiness just doesn't end....

Monday, December 08, 2008

MY AWARD!!!! (and a Plato funny)

Dude, I'm so lame. I've been desperately trying to keep up on my blog-rounds, and have come to depend on my handy-dandy little widget over to your right there to let me know when people have posted. It's like my own Google Reader, right here on my front doorstep!

Anyway, the thing doesn't, of course, tell me when I've missed more than one when I go visit, I need to click on the blog title, not the post title, then scroll through to make sure I haven't missed anything.

Well I goofed. Big time. SUV MAMA gave me an award on NOVEMBER 29 (yes, you read that right!) and I only just discovered it this weekend. I'm not sure I even still deserve it, but since she hasn't taken it down or yanked the graphic, I'm claiming it today. Here's what she wrote (about moi)!

"...I don’t think she’s revealed her “real” name but I think it’s okay if I call her G.

G was kind enough to meet me for dinner in Denver. I had a lovely time. We talked as though we had known each other for years. She’s just that kind of person- warm, funny, and sharp. My kind of cheese. G’s brain is always on, always working, and always going faster than the speed of light. Her view of life is positively interesting- and centered on being a grounded, dedicated wife & Mom who has achieved success through hard work- and yes, ingenuity..."

(sniff, sniff) Oh, you're done?

Well, I will agree with my brain always on, but the "always working" part seems to have been missed this time. Maybe it's because it's been going TWICE the speed of light lately...yeah, that's it! Either way, you all know me by now, and I am going to chalk this one up to a blonde moment.

Thanks, SUV Mama (Jess). I'm honored by this award and will place it proudly in my sidebar. You rock, and I'd love to meet you in Washington should I ever get the pleasure of going there again. Keep that baby boy of yours snug in your belly for the holidays, and I can't wait to hear all about him when he arrives, safely and soundly. You're the best!

Now, here's the award:


And a Plato funny:

We spent Saturday night at my folks; they babysat the kids while JeepMan and I went to a lame-0 Jeep Club Christmas Party (that was so lame it doesn't warrant elaboration).

The next morning my sister, "Aunt Tiff" and I were at the breakfast table with the whole family, discussing the evening before over fresh strawberry belgian waffles, a-la my dad. She had babysat the kids with my mom.

Apparently they were having a snack of sliced apples when Plato inquired as to what the nutrients in the apples were good for (a topic near and dear to his heart ever since the nutrition unit in 2nd grade).

Aunt Tiff: "He wanted to know if they were healthy for his eyes....or for his bones...or for a 'chest cold...'?"!

This last was accompanied by a cocked eyebrow and quizzical look.

Me: "Well, he HAS had a yucky cough for a couple days, but we've never called it a 'chest cold;' wonder where he heard that?"

Mouth full of waffle, Plato mumbled something that sounded like, "Thf nf wumf umf dumf."

Me: "Plato, don't talk with your mouth full. Swallow, then you can speak."

Dutifully he chewed and swallowed. Even took a drink of juice. He cleared his throat and spoke.

Plato: "I SAID, 'That's not what I said.'"

Aunt Tiff: "Well, then, what DID you say?"

Plato: "I ASKED, was this healthy for my eyes, my bones, or my Testicles!!"

Suddenly JeepMan was trying desperately not to spray waffle all over the table, my mom was speechless, my sister was turning several shades of red trying not to bust a gut laughing, and my dad was hunched over the waffle maker, his shoulders shaking with probable laughter.

Plato, being a quick study, immediately claimed the spotlight:

"You know, my BALLS!"

Dear Lord:

Please Save Me Now.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

TINTINTS Thursday #3

Things I Never Thought I'd Need To Say:

"Do you really think Mommy is living at the airport while I'm gone, honey?"

(In response to Lulu's asking me when I'm going to be done staying at the airport this time.)



Frazzled But Loving It


KLS, Student Nurse

Student RN Tiffany

Thanks Everyone!!