Archive for December, 2010

Lost in the Amazon

I got a Kindle for Christmas. 

Say what you want about e-readers — and most people are either for or against them — but a gadget is a gadget and I am a gadgeteer. 

While I most assuredly love books in paper form, and my bookshelves at home attest to this, as do the boxes of as-yet-unread books, the very notion of being able to cart around one item that holds the several books that I am in the process of reading is an appealing notion, indeed.  I know I could probably accomplish the same thing with a tote bag and the actual copies of said books, but… gadget. 

I am currently indulging myself in a significant perusal of the wares available on Amazon.com and don’t expect to come up for air until after the holidays are over and I am forced to resume my harried schedule as Mom’s Taxi Service. 

Stay tuned. 

— Mox

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Houston, we have a diagnosis.

Influenza type B. 

That’s right, Spawn’s Christmas gift this year is a headache, fever, sore throat, and croupy cough.  Followed by numerous rounds of Tamiflu, which according to my loving little germball, is plenty gross. 

Oh, and the doctor suggested we keep away from other people for the next five days. 

Hello?  Christmas?  Remember that? 

Traditionally we go to church on Christmas Eve (which is my absolute favorite thing to do during the season) and then to my cousin’s house for noshing and a round of Dirty Santa.  And on Christmas Day this year, we are due to have our family-less neighbor and my elderly widower uncle to join us for dinner. 

I think it may be time to resurrect the practice of the Kid’s Table.  Even if there is only one kid sitting at it. 

I have had less stressful holiday seasons, folks. 

I try not to get too overwrought over stuff but sometimes it’s just easier to freak out. 

Merry freakin’ Christmas. 

— Mox

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I must have been bad this year.

Let’s enumerate, shall we? 

1.  my car craps out on Thanksgiving day.  In the rain. 

2. my car, fixed the next day, decides that it now needs a new catalytic converter. 

3. the Great Window Fiasco of 2010, where we had five windows installed in the house… but only had budgeted for four.  A mixup on our contractor’s part. 

4. my stove craps out.  The week before Christmas.  

5. my husband’s truck craps out.  The week of Christmas.

6. Spawn spikes a fever on the evening of the last day of school. 

Comparisons are being drawn to Job right now.  I am not sure I have the fortitude Job had. 

Somehow we have to come up with funding to pay for a boatload of car repairs, extra window, property taxes.  My parents are giving us a new stove for Christmas. 

I know that someday down the road we are going to reflect on this period in our lives and marvel how we got through it. 

Alright, here’s the thing…
The optimist sees a light at the end of the tunnel,
the realist sees a train entering the tunnel,
the pessimist sees a train speeding at him, hell for leather,
and the machinist sees three idiots sitting on the rail track.
— Mox

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My husband and I belong to a subset of people who are prone to give handmade gifts when at all possible.  There’s a certain amount of Depression-era practicality in both of us (me moreso than him) mostly because we were raised by parents who remember the Depression firsthand.  And the people we give these things to, for the most part, have a real sense of appreciation about such gifts. 

Last year someone gave us a wine bottle night light.  Some might not think such a thing would be attractive, but both of us love it.  I use it on the back of my sink to light the kitchen at night.  It reminds me of fireflies in a glass jar, which of course reminds me of summer, which is of course the preferred season to my mind. 

So we got the bright idea to make a few of these nightlights ourselves and give them to family.  Because our family will love and appreciate them. 

On Sunday afternoon, while a particularly nasty winter storm pelted our home, we hunkered down beside the fire and put together these love offerings for Christmas gifts. 


You can see what we do with our free time on those long, long summer evenings.  I think the Cuervo bottle might be my favorite. 

Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven… or the distillery… or the vineyard…


— Mox

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this time of year is when all the charities pull out all the stops.  I mean, no one wants for anyone to go without on Christmas, not if it can be helped.  So there are toy drives and food drives and clothing drives and flat-out money drives, all the time.  It’s hard to know where to draw the line sometimes. 

I admit I feel a fair share of guilt about not doing more than I actually do.  And on the flip side, I feel guilty about reappropriating some of the household money in order to give to someone.  And I feel guilty about being guilty.  See?  I’m on my way to being a Good Catholic. 

The truth is, we have a lot.  Not as much as some, but we have jobs and a roof over our heads and food in the fridge, and we have the wherewithal to purchase clothing and whatnot so that we don’t go naked into the world.  And yes, our wants outstrip our income a lot of the time, and we have to keep a tight rein on the budget a lot of the time, but the fact of the matter is, we have what we need and a good many of the things we want. 

I have always been very careful, from Day One, about giving to others within sight of my child.  As soon as Spawn was old enough to understand, I’ve let the kid witness me giving food to food drives and gifts to Angel Tree kids and money to the Salvation Army’s red kettles.  And as soon as Spawn was old enough to participate, I’ve enlisted the kid’s help. 

Of course in a Catholic school there is a great deal of emphasis on the Seven Works of Mercy, not just at Christmas but all year round.  It’s nice to have backup in this parenting endeavor, because a lot of times kids tend to discount what their parents do as weird or out of touch, and the school tends to parallel the things I’ve tried to teach Spawn all along.  Makes me seem a little less weird, at least for the moment. 

The school does service projects throughout the year, both at grade level and through the various clubs and organizations.  Each year at Christmas the whole school does a large service project, where they collect warm mittens/gloves and hats and toys as well as money for distribution to needy folks.  The whole idea of the project is to have the kids learn the value of giving to others out of their own pockets, and not relying on others to do it for them. 

The other day, Spawn came to me with a stack of quarters and asked me for a sack. 

“What do you need it for?”

“I’m going to take it to school.”

“What for?”

“To give to the Christmas project.” 

“Oh.” (Momentary lapse of memory on Mom’s part.)  “Ok, go into the kitchen and get a ziplock.” 

Spawn has been collecting state quarters for a while now, refusing to spend them.  Thus far the kid had saved 18 of them.  And now they’re going toward making Christmas a bit better for someone else.

I love that kid. 

— Mox

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Frankly, my dear.

A not-too-well focused photo of one of my Gone With the Wind ornaments, the collection of which is hanging over my arched dining room entryway. I’m supposed to be this highly educated Literature major, but darn it, it’s among my favorite books. 

I also love the movie, though the movie is not nearly as good as the book in my opinion, save for the lavishness of the whole thing.  My husband had never seen the movie, so one day while we were still young marrieds, and I could still get him to agree to most anything, I rented it and we watched it.  His opinion of the movie, and Miss Scarlett in particular?  “She’s a pain in the ass.” 

And there you have the main difference between me and my beloved. 

I so very rarely get to sit down and enjoy a movie anymore.  My husband and I have reached that point in our relationship where neither one of us goes to a movie that we don’t particularly want to see, just to please our spouse.  Last weekend I wanted to go see Burlesque and my husband, no fan of Cher and like all men no fan of a musical, would have rather gouged his eyes out.  He wanted to see some sci-fi alien movie, to which I am not unopposed to in principle just so long as it’s a good one.  I mean, a really good one.  He couldn’t even remember the name of it, so, no.  We compromised by going out to dinner instead. 

I thought I had him when The Blind Side came out.  A movie about football (check), based on a true story (check), with a good-looking chick in the lead role (check).  The main draw for me was that Tim McGraw was in it, and I’d go see a hog wrasslin’ contest if Tim McGraw was in it.  The Blind Side seemed like a win-win in my book.  Only I couldn’t ever get my husband in the mood to go to a movie, and, fearing that it would end up on video before I got the chance to see Tim McGraw in 20-foot glory, I snuck off in the middle of the day during the workweek and went to see it by myself. 

Now, I have no problems going to the movies by myself.   I can get my popcorn exactly as I like it, and not have to feel guilty that it costs a fortune.  I can sit wherever I want in the theater.  And I can linger over the closing credits if I so choose.  Plus, I know that whatever movie I see, if it’s a stinker I don’t have to bear the blame of picking a bad movie, and if it’s a great movie, it’s a nice treat I’ve given myself. 

I may need to play hooky again here soon. 

— Mox

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