Thursday, December 31, 2009
So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu
I really wanted to write a post about how awful this past decade was, so long to the aughts and good riddence, yada yada yada. There was a lot of bad stuff that happened. Terrorism. War. Two, count 'em TWO recessions, one of which nearly collapsed the global economy. Nearly everyone in my family lost their jobs or was forced to take early retirement packages at one point or another over these last 10 years.

But I'm watching my eight year old daughter cook me breakfast. It is the best bowl of oatmeal. Ever. My four year old is watching the snow fall at the window. They are both bright and healthy and wonderful. Our extended family is scattered across the country but that doesn't stop us from loving one another through thick and thin. So maybe this decade, with all its ups and downs (great ups but good lord there were a lot of downs!) was not so bad after all.

I wish you all a wonderful, shiny, happy and healthy 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009
Sea World
I took almost 800 photos on our trip and over Christmas. As you can imagine, it is a challenge to really weed through them all.

I'll spare you the pictures of the orange groves along SR-60 and the pictures we took of the Florida geckos and share this one with you. Taken in Sea World at the underwater viewing area for the dolphins during a quiet moment, which are so rare on a family vacation. It was the last one for awhile that day: shortly after, Sophie got lost in a crowd and then Harry wandered off to look at something.

Of the 800 photos, none document the my-child-is-lost-in-a-theme-park heart attacks we nearly had that day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009
That's Post-Christmas Stress Disorder.

I hate the first few days after Christmas. After weeks of having it shoved in our faces and 24 hours of Christmas music and daily reminders of how many shopping days are left and retail sales figures, it sorta feels like it never happened. There are empty boxes waiting for recycling day, stale cookies and hundreds of Legos that prove otherwise. Also, my pants don't fit, further testimony that the holiday was here, with all its lovely treats and once-a-year dishes.

Yesterday was my post-holiday do-nothing day. The day I refuse to go anywhere, do anything, or wear anything that isn't a yoga-style pant and lounge around. After shopping and wrapping and cooking and decorating, I like to set aside a day where I have no obligations to anyone or anything. It was glorious.

I didn't get a chance to watch a lot of my favorite Christmas movies this year and we are still living in the dark ages without a TIVO/DVR device so yesterday I watched both It's a Wonderful Life (on VHS) and The Bishop's Wife (which was shown on Reelz network).

As much as I like to see these movies every year, it was much better watching them after Christmas. There were no holiday preparations looming over me, nothing to distract my attention except Harry, who couldn't understand why Cary Grant didn't have wings and kept asking "but what's a bishop's wife?"

Saturday, December 26, 2009
Happy Holidays. It's Good to be Back.
We were in Florida having a ton of pre-Christmas fun, then returned to New York where we jumped right into Christmas.

Here's a quick run-down of what we've seen and done, Harper's Index-style:

8.12: Inches of rain that fell our first 24 hours in Ft. Lauderdale

12: Inches of snow that fell in our hometown while we were gone

20: Number of relatives we've seen and visited with over the past 1.5 weeks

2: number of birthdays celebrated with both our mothers while in Florida

6: Number of wild boar we saw grazing on the Florida Turnpike

66: percentage of wild boar that were babies

2: Number of days we spent in Sea World

1: Number of Shamu shows we viewed

4: Number of times the kids told us they like Disney World better

2: Number of picture albums we viewed with matriarch on in-laws side

100: percentage of photos that were glamourous

5: number of Florida cities visited

2: Number of times we drove through Yeehaw Junction, Florida

3: Number of appetizers I made for Christmas Eve celebration

1.5: hours it took to drive to family Christmas Eve celebration

20: minutes it takes to make the same drive the other 364 days of the year

562: number of legos strewn across our living room

4: hours Sophie spent playing Mario Kart on her Nintendo DS

1: hours spent reading as part of her regular school break homework.

Pictures soon. For now, the kids are at a movie with John and I've got an appointment with the sofa!

Monday, December 14, 2009
  1. The lost cat I sheltered for a night turned out to be a boy.
  2. He made himself quite at home in our basement and was comfortable enough to request food. At 5 a.m.
  3. I could not be in his sights at all times so the cat, nicknamed "Cat" for practical purposes, preferred to sleep on our doormat.
  4. A strange cat on the other side of a door induces craziness in resident cats.
  5. A neighbor from two doors down stopped by Sunday morning to see Cat after hearing the news of my generosity and optimistically said "don't worry, we'll find her owners."
  6. Ten minutes later the same neighbor reappeared with the owner, Mischa, who coincidentally approached her and asked if she'd seen a gray and white cat.
  7. I learned that his name is Bunk and now that he is home, we've been de-Bunked.

Sunday, December 13, 2009
Greetings from Crazy Town
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.
It all started when I went to shake out the tablecloth. It was full of crumbs from dinner. I shook it, then stopped to see how the Christmas lights were looking. Were they straight enough? A bulb hadn't burned out, had it?

Everything looked great and when I turned to head back inside, I heard this tiny meow. I looked and saw this scared, half frozen cat hiding behind a neighbor's stoop. I thought it lived with those neighbors, a couple I'd seen just a couple of hours earlier bringing in their Christmas tree. "Ah," I thought, "she must have run out when they were bringing in their tree."

But when I rang their bell and said "I've got your cat!" they were surprised because both of their cats were inside. "Can't be ours. Must be Flo's." It wasn't her's either. I tried to walk away. I really did, but the cat followed me. I turned to her. "You can't come home with me!" but she just rubbed her head against my leg and meowed.

She wears a collar so I knew she belongs to someone. She is obviously well cared for and very well fed. The little tag on her collar shows she was vaccinated for rabies in 2007 at an animal hospital in Toronto.

Soon, three neighbors were on the street with me trying to figure out what to do. Did we know of anyone who'd recently relocated from Canada? No. Had we seen any Ontario license plates on cars parked on the street? Not that we could recall. We tried calling the number listed on the tag but the animal hospital was only open for emergencies and couldn't help us. The one person that could help us, the neighbor who knows most comings and goings of all residents was off on a trip to Atlantic City so we were truly at a loss.

Sophie soon brought out food, which the cat scarfed down. Soon we were all in agreement that the cat would need to be taken somewhere. "24 animal hospital? Whose got a cat carrier?"

"We can't take her there. She's not sick. Someone should take her in for the night."

That's when everyone turned to look at me.

"But I have two cats! And two hamsters!"

"But we can't take her either. It'll just be for the night."

"But I have cats!"

"So do we! We'll even lend you a litter box. With litter."

"My kids can't handle taking a cat in then giving it back."

"Yes, they can! Sophie will understand!"

And little by little, they wore me down. And the cat meowed in her little Canadian kitty accent and before you could sing "Oh, Canada" I was setting up a makeshift kitty apartment in our basement.

Thursday, December 10, 2009
Thanks, Mister. I Feel Better Now!
Present buying, holiday card ordering, work deadlines, school functions. I'm feeling the holiday pressure big time. My shoulders have been hunched up and my mind is constantly racing.

For a while I've really felt like I was right on the border between Crazytown and Loony Bin Falls (which happens to be closer to Cuckoo Junction than one would think). Then I took the subway home this evening and watched a man finish his Starbucks extra-grande beverage. That is actually quite normal here in New York City. The strange thing is that immediately after finishing, he removed the lid, tossed it to the floor and proceeded to EAT the paper cup.

I guess I'm not thisclose to crazy afterall.

Sunday, December 6, 2009
Plug 'n Play
I have no idea where the previous 7 days went. My last post was Thanksgiving wrap-up and now here we are, 7 days into December and the holiday season. How did that happen?

In the past week I have worked lots of late nights, published one bilingual church newletter, washed eleven loads of laundry, found 1 lost backpack on school grounds, chaperoned one school dance, bought and returned one artificial Christmas tree, bought another Christmas tree, discovered my oven works (a Christmas miracle!), joined Amazon prime for the free 2 day shipping, caught a cold, eaten three bacon egg and cheese sandwiches, decorated the aforementioned Christmas tree and was a guinea pig for the upstairs neighbors foray into egg nog making. She is heavy handed when making the egg nog. I really like my neighbor.

As for the tree, this is the first year in, oh, maybe 20 years that we've put up an artificial tree. We're going to travel this month so a real tree is out of the question. Sophie has complained about it every day since we decided to go the artificial route, saying it just won't be Christmas without the smell of a real tree, the falling pine needles all over the floor, watching me water it every day, then playing Nintendo DS while her father and I wrestle it out the door to the curb come early January.

The best part about the tree we ended up with is that it's prelit so once it was assembled we plugged it in and called it a day. The kids ended up not minding so much since they didn't have wait for us to string lights around the boughs, rearrange them to make sure they were evenly spaced and argue whether or not we need to add another set of lights to the tree. As soon as the tree was assembled they could bunch all the ornaments to the front of the tree while we sat and drank the neighbor's egg nog.