Thursday, December 27, 2007

Garbage Duty

I have a friend whose husband would get up every morning and take out the trash before he went to work. EVERY morning! She didn't even have to beg, plead, bargain, nag, nothing! He just did it. He'd wake up in the morning, shower, get dressed, take out the trash, and go to work. She divorced him. What the heck?! Isn't that what we're all looking for in a man? Someone who will take out the trash when it's needed.

Then I actually thought about it. What good, redeeming trait that Bill has would I be willing to give up in exchange for garbage duty? Hmm. That's a tough one. He's good with the kids, he cleans up the kitchen sometimes, he has a job, keeps a job, and goes to his job. Good looks, he thinks he's funny (which is funny in itself), he's pretty smart, and he cares about all of us. He listens pretty well and has gotten used to my fits of rage to the point where he doesn't rage back. He just stands back and takes it knowing that I will apologize as soon as I get back to a sane frame of mind. He finally took the hint (and hint, and hint, and hint) and has started buying me flowers, and enjoys it. Basically, I think putting up with me is all I can ask at this point because I don't think anyone else would...especially someone who takes out the trash.

So, I'll keep Bill and I'll keep taking out the trash (or nagging him to do it). I like him the way he is and I'm not willing to give anything up for it. As for my friend...her loss was actually her gain...he became a better part-time dad than he ever was at home, AND she found another man.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What was I waiting for?!

Hello!?! Digital cameras. I've been stuck in the dark ages with my 35mm thinking it was fun to get a surprise when the pictures were developed. Are you kidding me?! 3 trips to Costco to drop it off, pick it up, find out it's not there or I'm too early, and then back again. THEN all the lousy shots that were taken and didn't turn out right. Digital...instant gratification and you KNOW if the picture sucks and you need to take another. Oh, and did I mention I can send my order to Walgreens at any stinking hour of the day and then pick it up at my leisure?! What a delight. And you only have to print the ones you want or have the money for. WooHoo!

Tasha and Kyra each got a camera for Christmas. (thanks mom!) This was out of neccessity so I could keep my sanity. I think Tasha is a future photographer and wanted to use mine ALL the time. It's new though, and I'm not letting my 3 year old bounce around the house with it. Here's the camera (probably the most expensive) came with the capacity to hold 8 photos. Kyra's, a Kodac (yes, the camera people!), can hold 20. Tasha's, the super tough, built to withstand a toddler's dropping, kicking, throwing, and dunking comes with the memory to hold like 900 pictures. Fisher-Price is KING! (or QUEEN?!) Leave it to a toy company to realize what we really need in a product. Hmm, maybe those camera people just need you to purchase more stuff, like memory cards. Well, I got one of those in my stocking (thanks Babe for telling me to open that first!) and life is all better now! I guess I just need to learn to download now...I'm so spoiled.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

(music playing...)
(December 26th) oops, I never finished this post so I'll try here...

So I've been a bit of a Scrooge lately although I haven't had anything really against the whole thing. I've just been not wanting to do all the typical busy work. No baking, no Christmas lights, no tree, not really much decorating. I put up the nativity the night I brought it home from church (was that Dec 1st?). Then I put up another. I started writing replies to the Christmas cards I received but haven't even mailed them yet. I helped Tasha put up the Princess tree (yes, it's pink and purple and VERY girly) just to shut her up. How's that for spirited?! I just haven't been in the mood.

(Thursday, the 20th) Last night we went to see the Temple lights and had a decent time there. It was followed by a terrible car ride home. I think I actually told the kids they had to do everything together today to prove they loved each other. Yeah, right! Like I have the energy to make THAT happen.

(Friday, the 21st) So this morning I woke up with a different attitude. I was able to help Kyra with her room a little and tried to give a little service. That helped. AND I felt like I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. I ran a few errands and I came home to put up our little trio of trees. The twinkle lights are all aglow as I type. I knew it would be good but resisted for some reason.

(Saturday, the 22nd) A few more bits of service, good stuff that service.

(Sunday the 23rd) Church is always crazy the week of Christmas. Hate it and love it. Our Primary class did our Nativity play for Sharing time and then we included ALL the rest of the Jr. Primary class. I'm not sure which was the most adorable...the 4 wise men from the CTR 5 class, the 2 sheep and a cow dressed in their Sunday best dresses moo-ing and baa-ing from the sunbeam class, or little Justin on top of his teacher's shoulders to be the star shining over Bethlehem. After church I made tamales with my friend from high school. OK, I'm not a fan of the actual tamale, but I love to assemble, socialize, and eat the red chili meat in a HOMEMADE tortilla. YUM!

(Monday the 24th) Making tamales apparently brought out the cook in me and I went on a baking spree all morning and afternoon. BIG mistake, although it brought about some happy results. Greek cookies, yum. Caramel corn, big flop...I think I used baking powder instead of baking soda (sorry anyone who got some of this!). Cookie mix in a jar...hmmm, I went to deliver some of these and forgot the instructions, DUH! Anyway, by 3:30 I was pooped and had family coming over at 5pm.

(Christmas Day) OK, 2am and it really doesn't feel like Christmas now. There is NO WAY that you can have a migraine on Christmas day! Against all better healthy judgement I popped the magic pill (that would be Imitrex, the miracle migraine relief) and went back to bed...I think all the sugar in the baking really did me in. NO more sugar! (yeah, right)

Kyra was up for good around 6:30 and Bill was kind enough to entertain her until Tasha woke up around 8. Tasha really didn't get it for quite a while. For a moment I thought she was going to reject Christmas, presents, and Santa. Oh well, she got over it and loved running back and forth from the other room to deliver the gifts. She and Bill took a nap while Kyra and I went to see Enchanted. I love to see movies on Christmas day and haven't been in years. Thanks Babe! It was a really nice day...riding bikes, playing games, and taking pictures of kids taking pictures (that's a whole 'nother story!).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas...or...Happy Holidays?!

I don't know what Merry Christmas means anymore. Christians are all in an uproar because businesses won't put it on their signs and then they congratulate other companies that make the stand that they will use the saying. Are you kidding me? I think Merry Christmas has turned into more of a slogan than an actual greeting. Let's face it, in the retail world it is a slogan, and it means buy more stuff because that's the spirit of the season. So what do I care?! I care because people are just out to make a stink and I'm sick of it. What do Christians think Merry Christmas means anyway..."I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating Christ's birth"? Well, I don't think so and I have a little proof. (call me a cynic if you must)

First, the Christmas station on the radio. I decided to tune in to get the true spirit. I listened to it for an hour and after about 4-5 songs I started a list of what they were playing. Here it is: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas Darling, Sleigh Ride, Silver Bells, Carol of the Bells (instrumental), Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman (a jazzed up, funky guitar version), Merry Christmas Canon (instrumental), Joy To the World (instrumental). So there you have it. One song in an hour that has anything to do with Christ. Yeah, yeah, they all have to do with giving and sharing, and loving, and the "spirit" of Christmas. Later that day Kenny Rogers brought it all home though when he sang a classic version of Mary, Did you know? Thanks Kenny, I can always count on you.

Next we have Christmas movies. Santa Clause the Movie, The Santa Clause, Rudolf, Frosty,Charlie Brown Christmas...even the classics like Miracle on 32nd Street and It's a Wonderful Life. They all bring happy feelings and sometimes a hint that there is a God. It's a Wonderful Life has an angel, Linus tells us the true meaning of Christmas, but the new version of 32nd Street even took "Trust in God" out of the ending to prove there was a Santa Clause. The Nutcracker has nothing to do with Christ's birth but we love to see it every year.

How about books? The Christmas Jar is a wonderful story of giving but I'd have to reread it to see if the mention Jesus or religion at all, maybe they talk about faith. Here's a quote from A Christmas Carol (it happens to be playing in the background): "Christmas is...A time when men and women can do good to others." Scrooge refuses to say Merry Christmas back because he doesn't do good unto others. Right? My favorite story is The Night Without Darkness about the Nephite Christmas. Of course I don't read this to the kids until Christmas Eve.

Let's face it, if you want a story, show or religious offering at Christmastime you have to choose to do so. Yeah you can get it at church, but that's a given, just like any time of the year. I'm not saying that this is wrong. Frankly, I don't need the Christmas season to declare that I am a Christian. I think what most people mean when they say Merry Christmas is "have a great holiday season with your family and friends". So..."Have a great holiday" is what I choose to say during this holiday time of year. Unless, of course, I go to church with you and want you to remember Christ (hah!). I'm not chickening out, like Bill thinks, I'm just saying what I mean so that there is no confusion on the receiving end.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear Santa,

Kyra will be joining the ranks of "Santa helpers" this year. She had purchased a gift for Tasha and then Tasha asked one of your Santa clones to get her it. So when your Tempe Santa reports in that Tasha Durrenberger would like a Hungry Hungry Hippo game don't worry about it, her sister is taking care of it. She is excited about being Santa and already wrapped Tasha's gift. I know in the years past you have always left them open but Kyra was excited to get going. I explained that Santa couldn't use the same paper that we did so she got out the craft stuff and drew a picture of Rudolf. She worried that she should disguise her handwriting but we assured her that a 3 year old would not see the similarity.

As for the rest of us, more games would be nice. Kyra said, "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas", so if you can find a Webkin Hippo that would be great. Bill could probably use something to take his mind of work and school, maybe a game of golf somewhere. I'd really like world peace, an end to global warming, and if you can take the calories out of chocolate that would be nice. If none of that works out then a good book would be appreciated.

Let us know if there is anything else we can do to help out down here. I know you've got a lot on your plate so whatever we can do to help, we will. There are no lights on the roof this year so landing should be a cinch, and the fireplace is covered so just use the front door. Do you still like the Greek cookies? Soy, regular, or organic milk?

Love, H

Sunday, December 16, 2007

30 minutes

That's how long it takes to get just about anywhere in the valley...IF the beginning and ending locations are close to a freeway, AND you don't have any crazy traffic. This is only true if you know where you are going. If you don't then it might take longer, like maybe a full hour. Let's say, for instance, that you go to 16440 NORTH 32nd street way in the heck out off the 51 and Bell road. THEN the address isn't there and there isn't a school anywhere to be seen. So you look at the scribbled note your mom wrote and see the "s". Mom? Do we need to go to 16440 SOUTH 32nd street? Well, ya, duh. That took 30 minutes. 51 to the I10 to the 202, off at 40th street, shoot down to 32nd and a half a mile north to the high school. Tasha took a nap, we were 10 minutes late but the show didn't start on time. Thanks mom for the Nutcracker experience, next time I get the directions.

Sugar High

What was I thinking buying a gigantic bag of brown sugar? Oh, I know. I was competing with the gigantic gallon of corn syrup Bill bought 2 years ago. Why all this brown sugar and corn syrup you ask? Well, we like to make caramel corn at Christmas time. It's cheap, it's easy, it's quick, and everyone can help. Plus, there's that really cool part when you add the baking powder and the sugary mix starts to explode out of the pan.

So we made 3 batches this evening and ran out of salt. Who runs out of salt?! Oh, that would be someone who has neglected their food storage from 8 years ago. The good thing is it took me 8 years to get through my year supply of salt. Hmm, guess I didn't calculate that one too well.

Two weeks ago we made 3 batches before running out of vanilla. What the heck? Who runs out of vanilla?! Not me. Maybe this caramel corn just isn't supposed to be made. We certainly don't need any of it in our house. Yum, but so bad for us.

So what should I do with all this brown sugar?! That's 12 cups that I've used and I can't really see a dent. Suggestions anyone? I have a yummy recipe for "Ice cream cone cookies" but you have to roll and cut. Bring your cutters and some flour and we'll have at it, I have no interest in doing that by myself!

SOOOOOOOOOOO, come one, come all to my house with a box, bag, or tin to fill with some caramel corn! I made it with fake butter so "glairegs" are welcome. :)

Satan in a Box

That is what I nicknamed our big screen TV. It was fun for a while but then it was just a big giant piece of noisy furniture. It started blaring obsenities at us if we weren't paying close enough attention to it. Blah, blah. Then it started to get those flickering lines occasionally. Then more often. Then the repair would cost $600, so fortunately Bill didn't feel it was worth the expense. THEN someone realized that it only flickered as it was warming up and after 20-30 minutes it would be OK. Not a good thing. That meant that people would leave it on so it wouldn't start to go crazy again. Whatever. Bill's dad gave us a TV that he didn't want (they thought 3 TV's and 2 people was a bit excessive) so Bill agreed to get rid of the big screen. Yippee for us! Satan is gone...or at least he's in a smaller package now and doesn't need to run for hours on end.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

HOV and the fast lane

So what is the proper driving etiquette on freeways that have an HOV lane and it's not HOV hours? You know what I'm talking about. It's the forbidden lane from 6-9am and 4-7pm but all other times it is fair game. Does it now become the fast lane and the fast lane is just another middle lane? I think this is confusing for some drivers, especially those that don't ever get to use the HOV lane. Personally, I usually have a kid with me so it's my lane. My sister-in-law would pretend she had a kid in the back if she REALLY needed to get somewhere and used that lane. She would turn back periodically and "yell" at the kids that were messing around back there. I think that's pretty funny, and it works if you have a van and the seats are up high so you can't really tell who is in there.

Anyway, It's confusing to drive during off hours. The slow drivers in the fast lane think you can pass them in the HOV lane. The fast drivers in the fast lane are scared to used the HOV lane. Then there are the slow drivers in the HOV lane because it is an HOV lane and they have lots of people in their car. They are entitled to be there, and dag-nab-it they are going to drive it. Sheesh, no wonder we have road rage and accidents.

Bless the internet, google, cell phones, and freeways...

In that order! Christmas shopping can be a struggle sometimes and sometimes not. I've never been good about getting ideas for people early on in the game. So, for me to be looking for something before the 15th is pretty much a miracle so I thought I'd be doing good. Well, not so much! That's where the Internet comes into play. I had no idea where or what kind of a certain item to get Kyra so I started browsing. Then I googled it and got even better ideas. Then they offer free shipping...oh wait, not on that item it's out of stock. But wait again, you can pick it up from the store nearest you. Oh, but wait, that store doesn't have one. Or the next nearest one, or the next...and the list goes on. But I'm really excited that I found the perfect item. There's no way I can go wrong with this baby. But how do I get it?! I have a friend coming from San Diego, they have one. I have a friend traveling to Albuquerque, they don't have one. Do I have the nerve to call the friend with toddler twins and ask her to haul it over here for me?! Not yet. One more try the next day. But wait...the Peoria store has one (or more?)! Yippee for me. But wait again...yesterday I traveled to a Costco on 19th Avenue because they were supposed to have something else that we needed. No such luck. So as I leave the house, headed to Peoria I get on my cell phone and call the Sears I'm headed to. It rings, and rings, and rings again. Three tries to the department before I get someone. She checks. No luck, but they have some up front, does she want me to check up there? Well, ya...please. She takes my name and number and I keep driving, expecting to get there before she calls back. But no, just a few minutes later and we have an affirmative that the item is not only in stock but the have several and they are already assembled! Woo Hoo! Now comes the getting there. Freeways. Hmmm. Did you know that it only takes 30 minutes to get to Peoria? Who knew?! That was a really slick hour of shopping and now we will have a happy girl. Well, several happy girls (I got one too, and Tasha's is already purchased but not assembled). Too bad I still have shopping to do. All that trouble and it was for a gift from grandpa. Since when does the mom have to do all the shopping?! Oh well, we love him and his desire to give us what we want and I know it isn't a check on Christmas morning. Boy are we going to have this year. Thanks Dad.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


People of all ages seem to make assumptions or generalizations on subjects and people. It seems like adults do all the assuming which tends to be negative. We say or think things like why people are broke, why other peoples children behave a certain way, and how things could have been better "if only...". But then there are kids who haven't learned to be cynics yet. They have to whole world to look up to and learn from. They are learning to cope and figure things out and try to find a place and make a statement. Here are some of the great things I've heard/seen come from kids lately:

"I love you three" in response to my "I love you two." I'm sure both my kids have used this one when they were in the learning to count stage.

"The freeway is loose today" came from my 9 year old. Well, why not? It's not bumper to bumper so it's loose. Now we joke about it all the time.

"Only girls go to preschool" came from Tasha's 4 year old friend Justin. I guess when the only kid you knows that goes to preschool is a girl, then that is true.

Friends when they meet just once. Tasha will go play at IKEA and talk about her friend. You can also convince her to go someplace because her "friends" will be there. She may or may not know someone, but if they are her age they are her friends. WOW! Could adults learn something from that!

Now here's one that relates to reading. Good generalization, bad assumption, and terribly difficult to overcome...I had a first grader that used the sound "w" every time he saw the letter "o". What?! I was so frustrated. Here I'm teaching him phonics, he knows that "o" has the sound in "hot", but insists on saying "w" every time he sees it. It took me a month or more to figure out why he was doing it. We were reading a book, he was sounding out most of the words and occasionally there would be a sight word he would just say. Hmmmm, one of those sight words was "one". DUH! He probably learned it in pre-school with all the numbers on the wall or with flash cards he did with someone. So gosh, there's no good solution to this one. We discussed the issue of "cheater words" again and it took a good month to fix but he got over it.

So what's your favorite (or least favorite) generalization?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Love New York!

The Big City! The Big Apple! Crazy traffic, drivers, shoppers...everything about it makes me ache to go there. Public transportation that is convenient, city lights, festive/traditional activities accessible to all. Time square, the Flat Iron building, SoHo, Uncle Nicks Greek restaurant, Manhattan Temple, Central Park, Washinging Heights and my Aunt Yota. Tiny pizza stores with no room to sit, stand, or buy and leave to eat your pizza huddled on the stairs to the NYCity Public Library. Even the dingy smell of the deisel fuel that looms in the air is appealing to me, aaahhh, the smells of NYCity! Car horns, sirens, bings and clunks of the subway, "yah, yah", aaahhh, the sounds of the city! The hustle and the bustle that isn't so crazy if you accept it, relax, and enjoy the experience.

I'm intrigued by any movie or book that takes place in or is about NY. I don't like them all but it draws my attention like nothing else, except maybe WWII. I'll put on "You've Got Mail" for background noise when I'm up late at night...I know right when to look up for the scenes of the city "...he loves the streets of New York almost as much as I do...".

Bless my sweet husband that lets me run away to NY! I know he does it partially because he has NO desire to be there. He suffered through a one day experience, once. That was enough for him, Billy, and his parents but Kyra and I went back...a couple of times! I've been as a tourist, visitor, and as a mock tour guide on a 3 day crazy pre-Christmas adventure. There is nothing like Christmas in NYCity! My favorite visit was a time with my mom. She came along for support, as one of my aunts was in the hospital. We staying in the Bronx, rented a car, and enjoyed all our time away from the hospital. We drove to Astoria to get a taste of Greek life, food, and got our nails done. I conquered NY City driving, and YES, was honked at, and did some honking of my own (I think, or was that my vision of greatness?!). We didn't do any of the touristy things, we just were.

So, to my sweet friend who is moving to NY and is not excited. I hope you read this and become excited! I've never lived there, but really feel like I could. You have a fabulous adventure ahead of you and I'll come stay with you anytime you'd like!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"Gag me!"

I actually used that expression the other day and I couldn't believe it. It came out without even knowing it and I was completely embarrassed. I didn't acknowledge that I said it, I just kept talking, hoping that nothing quite as ridiculous would come out again.

This evening I admitted my blunder to my husband and he laughed. Not quite hysterically, but pretty good. The hysterics didn't come until later and they were from me. Bill proceeded to spout off a list of 80's sayings beginning with the complete version of of gag me..."gag me with a spoon!" Here's what else we came up with...

Like, TOtally. (you TOtally agree with them)
What-ever. (emphasis on the E in ever.)
I'm soooooooo sure.
Like, OK. (usually sarcastic)
As if. (was that the 80's or just from Clueless?)
Barf me! (or Barf me out)
Bodacious. (That could refer to anything. Boys usually used it in reference to tatas.)
Don't have a cow! (I think we used that to the max! My friend was known to moo.)
Fer sure.
Gnarly and grody were good discriptive words for anything nasty.
Tubular (just an expression, I'm not sure what it means)
Grody to the max. (this doesn't even need explaining, does it?!)
Totally radical, dude. (another guy one, I think I hear Sean Penn saying it)

Well, now that I've got that out of my system hopefully I won't let any of them slip out again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bad Hair Month

I realize that it is only the 4th but it is and will be a bad hair month. Literally. I've been fighting with my hair since my last cut and it made me mad. Mad, hormonally challenged, emotional women should not be allowed near scissors. Especially in the morning when they are late getting their children to school. Especially a second day, when they are late again and their hair is wet. Especially when they tried calling 2 salons the night before and both were closed and there was not hope in sight at a real person helping them out.

It was a mess and I almost cried. Then I determined that I wouldn't get out at school and would head to the nearest Great Clips. That sort of worked except that nobody keeps hair books out so that you can show them what you want done. I can't ever explain what I hate and how I style it. So now the bangs are much shorter than I ever would have wanted just because the sides were angled funny. Whatever! I almost cried again. I know it's just hair so I only got to the teary eye stage.

So now I will take it out on my house and clean the heck out of it for as long and Tasha will let me. Maybe I'll put up the Christmas tree and the nativity and try to get the Christmas spirit. As for my me and my hair, we'll be the ones hiding under the Santa hat.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rainy Day Hike

Kyra's school hikes. They hike 3-5 times each year. The first all school hike is planned usually a month in advance and lasts all day. It's amazing to see 100 kids plus teachers and parents zooming up a desert hill. All right, there is no zooming (except for the 20 or so that have to prove a point or are avid hikers) but it is pretty great to see all that energy.

The first all school hike was this past Friday. Yes, Friday, November 30th, 2007. Check the weather report. We got more rain that day than we have all year. And we were hiking in it. That was crazy, but fun. All the kids were decked out in garbage bags. This is Phoenix, who has rain gear?! So we didn't win the "friendly to the environment" award that day, but I think the school makes up for it during the rest of the year.

We didn't get to play on the rocks because common sense made us leave early. And I'm sure it was record time getting back to the car. It only took 1 hour to hike out because it was raining on us the whole time. We didn't really get cold until it came to the car ride home. That was fine though because it gave us an excuse to stop at Starbucks for some Hot Cocoa. Try it with a little Amaretto syrup, yum!

The Wheels on the bus...

My baby rode the bus today! Yes, my baby is 3 1/2 but holy cow she's little! Ever since she started preschool she has been talking about riding the bus. Her friends ride the bus. Her friend even rides the bus when his mom has to come to school at the same time. I thought kids hated to ride the bus. When does that start, elemenatry school? Jr. High? High Schoo? Personally, I never rode the bus. My parents strategically picked a house within walking distance of every school I ever attended.

Back to Tasha. What made me think that this was OK? When Kyra was 5 I was terrified to send her to all day Kindergarten. But now there's Tasha and I don't think it is a big deal. Is it because she's my second? I'm less protective? She's more independent? I don't know but neither one of us looked back after she was on. As I was driving, I thought about driving by her school to watch her get off but then I knew that would be ridiculous. Silly me. She was soooo cute!