Friday, November 23, 2012

Not So Black Friday

After my last post, which was fairly thankless, I should tell you that we had a very nice thank-filled Thanksgiving yesterday. I don't want to leave you with the impression that we had a horrible day and were unable to enjoy even a moment of it. That's not the way things are. It was a beautiful day with lots of wonderful food and conversations with many family members. We took the dog on two walks, between our meals and played with the kids. It was a day to be thankful for.

My husband decided to venture out for the 10:00 pm early Black Friday opening of a local electronics retail store. We have never been Black Friday shoppers but why not try to get a good deal? said he. And besides he didn't have to go to work today, so going out late would be fine. Our 12 year-old went with him as a witness to the insanity. That's what they found. The line to get in said retailer was the length of football field. The retailer was controlling the traffic inflow into the store, not car traffic but people traffic. They would only let a few folks in at a time to quell the mob stampede. In the football field analogy, my two shoppers were on their 35-yard line, 65 yards away from the end zone. In the fifteen minutes that my husband committed to this attempt, they moved only 5 yards. It was a "3 and out" play and they gave up. They came home after 5 yards with no TV. There was no way they were going to stay for more. Like the University of Tennessee football team; they are better off not playing if they can't compete.

Speaking of my husband, he participates in the most popular fitness activity for men over 40: cycling. He rides several times a week and cycling is his mental and physical release. And he gets to wear spandex. Here's something you don't see everyday.

He usually doesn't wear this much spandex at one time, but it was pretty cold yesterday morning.

Speaking of cold, if we get the cold hard winter that is being predicted, we are all set. We rented a wood splitter this week.

It was a family work day.

So bring it on winter! There's another wood pile like this outside too. We are ready!

And on this Fragmented Friday, I leave you with this. Our Cub Scout Raingutter Regatta was held earlier this week. The Regatta adds another meaning to Webelos.....We- Blow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Roux of Rue

It is time for Thanksgiving.  Not just the day and the big meal, but it is time to give thanks. I have much to for which to be thankful: the wonderful family I have, my husband, my healthy kids, my health, my friends, the mere fact that we live in America and not one of the many warring, perilous places around the world. I could continue with this list but these are the top things that come to mind.

But even with all these blessings, I must admint I am finding it a bit difficult this year to give thanks. If I acted on some of my feelings, my thank you might sound more like, "Thanks a lot!" dripping with a sauce of sarcasm or worse, a roux of rue.

Amid the good things, 2012 also brought with it several helpings of disappointment, disbelief and despair. Sadness was served up for my family and me. Maybe you were served some too. We lost a loved one and recognized the first anniversary of another significant loss. All in our families (mine and my husband's) have struggled this year in many ways. But I know my family is not so different from yours. I am trying to recognize the benefit for these struggles, and my plate keeps coming up empty.

On a broader level, after the election, half of our country was left feeling like commerically-bred turkeys, ready for consumption. The other half of our country walked away from the election table feeling full and sated. And now the government is arguing over who gets credit for the meal and who's going to clean the kitchen. Politics always ruin dinner.

Trying to explain all of these personal tragedies and public debacles to my two young sons all the while leaving them with some shred of innocence is near impossible.

This isn't the Thanksgiving post you were expecting? Please accept my apologies. But I can't write a glib, all roses Thanksgiving post this year. I know I have an abundance for which to be grateful, but it is hard to appreciate stuff when the real things are out of order. People you love struggling, people you love no longer with us; those are the real things. Some of those real things may not change easily. And some of them definitely can't change. Even so, my sarcasm and bitterness definitely won't help.  I know that gratitude is healing when change is slow and all else fails.

I grew up in a house full of Boy Scouts, my three brothers. At many a mealtime, we recited the Boy Scouts' Grace. I was recently reminded of that prayer as it was posted in my son's Boy Scout Camp dining hall:

Our family version of this prayer was this:

For food,
for raiment,
 for life,
 for opportunity
for friendship, for fellowship
We thank Thee O Lord

Now that I have been reminded of this prayer, I recall it as one of my favorites back then. I like this simple prayer today just as much.

The path back to gratitude will have to be a simple one for me. I can be grateful for these simple things: food, basic necessities, life itself, opportunity, time with family and friends. These are real things too. Thankfulness for the other real things that are blocking my path to greater gratitude will have to come later.

Have a simple but Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pick a Holiday, any Holiday

This time of year all the retailers decide to move right on through the actual holiday that is next on the calendar and bombard us with items pertaining to the holiday that is second in line as far as dates go. They force us into the Christmas season before we can even give thanks for the blessings we already have, yet alone purchase the blessings that we will be gettin' for Christmas.

I am fighting against the early start of the Christmas season today. And I am doing it with an equal and opposite force. If they want us to go forward in time, my blog today forces us to go another holiday. If you don't want to go forward past Thanksgiving just yet, settle in here for a moment and slide back in time with me to Halloween. This is all just a lame excuse to set up my Halloween photos that I have only now downloaded. 

Halloween 2012 was the first time either of my kids wanted to dress "scary". By scary, I mean this:

This is Helios as Michael Myers the Halloween movie killer as Groucho Marx in the Hunger Games. This costume evolved over an afternoon rather than being a specific, well-thought out you probably might have guessed. I suspect this was the only Michael Marx Everdeen out trick-or-treating in 2012. Mark my words: I predict it will be one of the best-selling costumes for Halloween 2013 now that I've put it out on the web for the masses to see and embrace.

Halloween 2012 was also the first year that Leonardo didn't dress up. Middle school. Enough said.

Both boys wanted to carve pumpkins though so we got down to business. They let their personalities lead their carving styles. Leonardo chose an intricate design from a stencil book and set to work.

Michael chose a free-form design and stayed mostly in character.

He let me know with a mere look that he was not open to help or suggestions and I decided based on his reputation to let him do it his way.

Actually, his way turned out nicely even if his technique was a bit murderous.

All the while, Leonardo made slow but precise progress.

In fact, Leonardo took so long on his masterpiece I began to wonder if he was reproducing The Last Supper or possibly the Mona Lisa...

Michael Myers (no longer Marx) Everdeen just decided to play some computer game rather than wonder what his brother was doing.

They were both proud of their creations. Leonardo didn't recreate a famous work but chiseled out this scary face and completed it with a creepy color-changing LED light thus combining art and science, as he is known to do.

Michael Myers Everdeen thought his jack-o-lantern looked better in the Groucho glasses so they became part of his Halloween display, thus adding humor and the unexpected as we have come to expect from him. 

Our Halloween culminated in our ever-growing neighborhood chili dinner and group trick-or-treating.

A motlier crew you will not find elsewhere.

Hope you had a haunted Halloween!  And now you may move forward to whichever holiday suits you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Amazing Race

I don't routinely watch The Amazing Race but have seen it a few times. From my limited knowledge of the show, here is my take:  each episode, the contestants are put through seemingly nonsensical, purposeless challenges only to be moved forward to another nonsensical, purposeless challenge.There are various snafus along the way to keep things interesting.

As I was driving around this morning following my list of errands, it occurred to me that I am living my own version of The Amazing Race...minus the all-expenses paid travel to exotic places and travel companion. Here is My Amazing Race challenge for the morning which I had to complete in a very specific order otherwise I would fail this challenge:
  • Text two other moms to confirm afternoon tranport for my kids (thanks ladies!)
  • Email various school personnel to give permission for altered afternoon transport
  • Travel by van to dry cleaners for drop-off and pick-up
  • Notice that all my buttons are literally hanging by threads on the coat I am wearing; leave said coat at dry cleaners (snafu #1)
  • Travel back home to get another coat
  • Realize while at home that list of errands is sitting on kitchen table. Be glad I came home for another coat (snafu #2)
  • Travel to the Golden Mile to service station to check warning light that keeps coming on.
  • Service station is next to ToyRUs, conveniently, thankfully since new Nerf Darts are needed for weekend lock-in (bonus point!)
  • Rendevous back at home with Egg Lady for black market, organic egg delivery
  • Travel again by van to pick up root beer & Cool Ranch Doritos (for the lock-in, of course)
  • Return home again to clean the bathroom, finishing with a shower
Ok I know this isn't as thrilling as the actual Amazing Race. But this is the life of a mom of tweens and my daily list looks about this random every day. I am happy to say I won this particular challenge and can move forward to the next seemingly nonsensical, purposeless challenge tomorrow.  And I happy to be able to do this crazy, random stuff for my kids and family. There is sense and purpose to it all, I just know it.

I am especially thankful to be able to play along in My Amazing Race when there are things going on like the continued struggles of those in the Northeast following Sandy and the winter storm earlier this week. I also don't know how long My (and our country's) Amazing Race will continue when I watch the news and listen to all the concern about the fiscal cliff that we are approaching. OMG!

One last random thought...on a local level, this weekend the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in our area will be picking up non-perisable food items for the annual Scouting For Food drive to support nine Frederick County food banks. The Scouts in this area supply 75% of the food donations to these local food banks. Please remember to put your food donations out on your front porch Saturday morning before 9:00 a.m. for the Amazing Scouts to collect. The collection efforts are an Amazing Race in and of themselves!

There are other amazingly random things going on at Mrs. 444s Friday Fragments