Monday, December 31, 2012

Stream of Consciousness: What We Traditionally Do On NYE

A quick Sunday Stream of Consciousness linked up at, on Monday. Oh well. Five minutes of what our traditional night (the prompt was "traditions") has been in the past and what it is tonight. It's a bit scattered but that's what I/you get for whipping something out quickly without editing.


We had a tradition when the kids were small, then middle sized, to ring in the New Year. We’d chose a time (selfishly), let’s say 10:00pm, to pretend it was midnight. Was this mean?

It was a simple trick to pull off.

During the course of the evening, Daddy would change the clocks ahead and we would ring in the year when WE wanted. The four of us would head out to the front porch with pots, big spoon and bang the beJesus out of them for 5 minutes. Yelling and singing and banging. Then it was a treat and off to bed.

We were never alone. Most of our immediate neighbors had young children just like us. And putting the kids down early left just enough time for us young dads and moms to share some alone time without our wee ones (wink, wink).

It worked…for a while.

When the kids got a little older we modified the tradition and included two other families, all in the same position. The 14 of us would go for an early dinner at the Sushi House then for Cosmic bowling in the dark with black lights. EVERYONE wore flannel pajamas! We ate French fries and drank Root Beer. Okay, we snuck a pitcher or two of the real stuff, too.

The bowling alley kindly upheld our tradition by counting down the impending year at the 11:00 hour while all the flare of midnight. It was packed with like-minded families and thankful parents. We were home in time to get them to bed then have a few hours to ourselves (wink, wink).

Most years, our New Year’s celebrations have included our kids. And they've always included games and close friends.

This year…

One is in Colorado, boarding with a freshly broken wrist. And the other is headed into the city with her boyfriend.

Dad and Mom are left to make our own fun with good friends eating pizza, playing games and singing karaoke.

In some ways I’m happy they’ve grown up and are doing their own things tonight but, mostly and honestly, I’m melancholy that those shared moments feel like a faint whisper in my ear.

Happy New Year Everyone! Be safe.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Do I Make You Uncomfortable?

"I feel I'm able to get rid of any demons lurking in my psyche through my writing, which leaves me free to create all of this and to enjoy our family life, stepping away from all the fictional traumas and the dramas. If I write about family in crisis, then I won't have to live through it, I guess."
                    - Jodi Picoult

This weekend Trifecta is asking for 33 words that exorcise a demon.  One of our own, or one from our imagination.  Let it bleed on the page.

I have difficulty sharing demons so maybe that is one of my demons. Being vulnerable. However, there is something that gets me in trouble from time to time which I should probably suppress. I will share as follows:

You’re like a museum.
React to your beauty.


Love all fairly
Gush my appreciation duly.

Have you no idea?

Words are better left unsaid.

Photos courtesy of


Note:  I’m a sucker for beauty of any kind, mostly inside but outside as well. I am also an equal opportunity appreciator! For both sexes but not in a creepy way, I hope. I've made some uncomfortable at times but wouldn't you want to know?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The World Needs More Love Letters

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

- Ann Landers

And if you want to read an extremely good book about love, then read On Love by Alain de Botton.

"We are in desperate need of clutching. Of holding one another closer in a way that was fiercer than yesterday. Of facing one another to admit how broken we are. And admit how we screwed up yesterday, but, as long as Tomorrow comes to visit in her bright red cape, we should start over. We should be closer. We should not worry so much about our image or our status or our need to always be right and just unplug long enough to see the need in one another’s eyes. It’s there. It’s living. It’s bright. "

"It is not a season to be merry and bright so much as it is a season to finally admit to someone else, “Look, I need you. I need you on every one of my calendar days. And I love you. And I should not have waited for the stores to don red and green just to write that in a card to you. And I’m scared. Really. Petrified. Really. Because our world seems pretty broken. And I realize I cannot fix that. But I want to do better for you. Is that ok with you? I. Want. To. Do. Better. In. Loving. You."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Trifecta: 'Tis the Season For...

 'Tis the season for gluttonous, coveting overdone-ness,

Hyper-jiggly with anticipation, excitement and too much of a
good thing-ness.

Missed minuscule moments
for personal reflection.

long lost love


returns with the New Year-ness.


Inspired by this quote:
“In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!” 
― Dave Barry
This weekend Trifecta wants us to give them a pithy summary of our feelings about the holidays. Our response does not need to be cynical or sarcastic. Expressed in 33 words.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Trend That Drives Me Insanely Bonkers

Mama’s Losin’ It

Mama Kat's Prompt 
1. A trend that you can't stand right now.

There is a trend, right now, that drives me nuts. Completely insane. Insanely bonkers.

It's not a fashion or decorating thing.

I’ve ranted about it before and I will again, no doubt AND I’m guilty at times myself for a portion of it.

I have a smart phone. I like it. It does a lot of things that help with the coordination and organization of my daily life. However, I don’t even know half of what it does because, frankly, I don’t care.

I want to text, take photos, retrieve email, and call my family or a friend.

I want to look up directions in a pinch even though I’ll never admit to being directionally challenged because I’m not so I rarely do. I want to check a movie time or the weather someplace where I’m shortly to depart.

Things of this nature.

So what is the trend I can’t stand?

The constant need for people to continually and obsessively play with their smart phones especially in the presence of other people. And double especially if they are with their friends or families.

Every single thing that comes out of someone’s mouth, they’ll say, “Oh, I’ll Wiki that.”

However, I have several friends who will pull out their phones at dinner or a party or even while sharing a cup of coffee at the local joint for no other reason than to mindlessly use it. That bothers me. It makes me feel as if what we’re doing or saying is not as important as what they’re doing or saying to someone else.

And their phones are constantly beeping, ringing, tweeting, etc.

If I’m going to leave my home to share time with someone, and they’re going to take time out of their busy day for me, I’d like to think we’d focus our attentions on each other and not someone who is not even present.

There are times when it can’t be helped and I am all over it if my kids are calling or texting from school, or someone else’s children, family, or friends are in need of them. We need to be available for important stuff, be reliable to those we care about. I get it.

I don’t bring my phone out with me at night. I have a husband for that ;-). If we are together, which is more often than not, there’s one for emergencies between the two of us.

But when I see people looking at their phones constantly, absorbed,

Tap, tap, tapping on the keys,

Totally distracted from those in their immediate presence, I kind of (no really) have a problem.

Let’s look each other in the eye and speak.

Otherwise, we might as well stay home and text each other instead.

Then we’d probably be in our sweats, on the couch, with a glass of wine and book open in our lap.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To: Mom, From: Santa, Re: Your Present

Do you ever think about going "off the grid"?

I do, once a day at least;

Traveling to a place no one will find me.

A remote place where there’s no accessing Facebook or Twitter or email or even phone calls, maybe.

It’s like I want to exist but not, both at the same time, 

Sometimes wanting to disappear. 

So I planned in advance to do just that

And taking not just me

Off the grid.


Every year since my kids were babies, I'd wrap a present,

            To: Mom
            From: Santa

Something that hadn’t quite made my Christmas list (purposely maybe). Always using the same special, as if by gloved hand, big bubble print in red and green marker and the same secret Santa paper. 

As our kids passed out Santa’s gifts on Christmas morning, they’d say with excitement, “Mom! He didn’t forget you or Dad!” Because, of course, Mom always included one under the tree for Dad, too.  

My college kids don’t believe in Santa anymore, obviously, although they believed until they were quite old. There are always presents under the tree from him still. They enjoy pretending.

And with Christmas working a bit differently this time, some gifts will be opened early in anticipation of our first trip together, just us four, in more than that many years. And while everyone else receives new swimsuits and books from Santa on Friday evening, I envision a wrapped note like this, for me:

            To: Mom
            From: Santa
            Re: Your Present

“For your trip to a far away island off the coast of a third world Central American country, I, Santa, am granting your wish. There shall be: 


Only books and playing cards and conversations.

Texting boys/girls, 
Facebooking, Tweeting,
Instagraming Mom in swimsuits.

Your family's complete and undistracted “presence”

Is your present.

They're all you need.”

It's only a wish, my wish, but I'll anticipate and embrace life "off the grid" if even only for moments.

This week's Trifecta prompt is the third definition of anticipation: 3. a : visualization of a future event or state

"Do Not Disturb" Kitties

This is not your ordinary, everyday stuffed animal. Please meet “Do Not Disturb” kitty. These special kitties live together at Riverbend, a beautiful lodge in the woods of Wisconsin. Their tag says, “Put the cat out.”

Obviously, these kitties are laid outside one’s door in the evening before bed, or whatever, and sometimes in the afternoon when guests want a little quiet time.

Over the course of many visits to Riverbend, we’ve often played with "the kitties". Sometimes they wind up in precarious positions with other kitties, outside our friends’ doors, in the wee hours of the night. They’re a source of daily amusement because, even at our age, we’re occasionally juvenile. I'm guessing we aren't the only guests who do this but I could be wrong.

On Saturday morning, we leisurely wandered into Riverbend's festive lobby and sniggered wondering if our kitties were curled up on the beds. Opening the door to our room, I immediately saw my cute little friend. 

I was so excited, I snapped the picture and sent it to my girlfriends in a text with a caption. The caption was inappropriate in nature as it made reference to my kitty. There are many improper connotations to the use and term of "kitty" so one might pose the question, “Why not use stuffed puppies instead?” 

A few minutes later while sitting at lunch in the dining room, one of my three girlfriends said, “Oh my God! I got your text. It was hilarious.”

“Bob wondered why I was laughing so hard.” Said another friend.

“How come I didn’t get a text message from you?” My third friend said disappointedly.

“That’s strange. You were the first contact I entered for the group text.” I insisted. “Must be the cell reception here.”

My first friend replied, “See here. Your name’s….” and she stopped mid-sentence.

“Her name’s what?” I asked in confusion.

“Oh, no! You posted it on her Facebook wall.” 

My friends burst out in raucous laughter now getting the attention of our husbands sitting at the other end of the table.

As the realization sunk in, an odd sort of frenzied laughter began bubbling up from deep inside of me. The pieces of the puzzle were beginning to arrange themselves. It started to make sense. 

“Get it down!” I said mortified.

“I’m trying. Cell service is really bad and I can’t get on the Internet. We’re too remote.”

“Crap! Please try harder. My kids and their friends are going to see it.”

I was starting to panic while everyone was laughing, which on one hand was helping but at the same time it was distracting to my friend who was desperately trying to figure it out. It wasn’t until we located a desktop in the library that we could truly assess the damage.

Four “likes” in ten minutes!

So what’s the lesson here?

Is it to be more careful before sending inappropriate text messages?


Refrain from sending inappropriate texts at all?

The moral of the story, however, is you’re not necessarily “off the grid” even when you think you are.

Monday, December 10, 2012

10 Things I Wouldn't Put In My Mouth

Today’s agenda at Stasha’s place is LIST 10 FOODS. Topic courtesy of Bridget at Twinisms.

I could assemble a list of my 10 favorite foods but I talk about food a lot anyway, so that bores even me.

I could put together a list of things I’ll eat. As indicated by the reaction of my scale this morning after a weekend out of town celebrating the holidays, that list is way too long and would be arduous to narrow down to just 10.

I could challenge myself (why would I do that on a Monday during the holidays?) and think of 10 foods I do not like, generally boycott, or would refuse to choke down. There’s so few of those that this should prove burdensome.


1.    Peas- It’s a known fact I hate them. Would I eat them on a dare or if someone forced me? Yes, but I wouldn’t be happy about or like it.

2.    Raw mushrooms- I wouldn’t just pick one up and eat it. I have a difficult enough time with cooked ones (other than portabellas) because of their slimy consistency but like peas, I’d eat them if I would get some benefit like money out of it.

3.    Raisons- Never liked them as a kid and hated when people gave them out as treats for Halloween. Still don’t care for them and not even in cookies. Put in chocolate or butterscotch chips instead.

4.    Goat cheese in sweets- I tried a goat cheese brownie yesterday. If I weren’t at a restaurant, I would have spit it in my napkin. Actually, I should have. It gave me the willies and I almost refused to swallow it. Don’t do that to brownies, please.

5.    Frog legs- I don’t even think I need to explain this. Who thought eating them was a good idea? I have a brother in law who, every time he orders them, picks them up and performs a little dance with them before he sinks his teeth in. Wrong!

6.    Lamb- Anything and I’ve given a good effort here. I really have. Sometimes, I’ll take a bite of someone’s lamb chop and think, “That’s not so bad.” But then, why would I eat a whole plate of it if it were not so bad? AND if you cook it in your house, which I mistakenly have for one of my kids, your house smell like funk for days.

7.    Wild game- I’ll group Buffalo, Venison, wild birds, and any other four legged mammal, bird or amphibian that’s not a cow, pig or chicken.

8.    I Don’t Do Organs

9.    Blue Cheese- If you want to see me vomit which I guarantee no one does, don’t make me eat a hunk of Blue Cheese. And don’t try to pass it off in a salad or dish. I can taste it from the moment it touches my tongue. You know that’s its mold, right?

10.                  Sardines (any way they come), Anchovies (unless you chop them up so small and don’t tell me (but I’ll know and not make a huge deal about it)), Herring- When I was in college, gold fish eating contests were big. Nothing alive and squirmy and slippery will ever end up swimming around in my stomach.

I thought this was going to be harder than it was. As I said, there’s not much I won’t eat.

I’m not getting on the scale for a few days until I can get this S$%T (me) under control around here!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Wonderland and Sitting On Santa's Lap: Stream of Consciousness

Jana, over at her place, said today is a free writing day for Sunday Stream of Consciousness in honor of her birthday. She’s a young thing though, like 37, 38 or something obnoxious like that. Happy birthday, Jana!

The deal is to write for five minutes about whatever, leave it be (no editing) and hit publish.


This weekend we, again, had the opportunity to go to the lovely metropolis (not a metropolis) of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, undoubtedly the beer and brat capital of the world. Actually, we were in the town of Kohler (birthplace to all those wonderful plumbing fixtures), the sister community to Sheboygan.

There were 10 taverns between our hotel and the restaurant where we ate last night. That should tell you a little bit about what’s important to the Sheboygan-ians. Amazingly, it has a wonderful Italian restaurant called Stefano’s but of course Herbert Kohler, Jr. wouldn’t have it any other way (you should see the size of him).

Speaking of size, the lodge where we stayed had a Christmas brunch this morning with absolutely the best Santa we have EVER seen. His entire girth was his own as was his beard! I swear he must have used a curling iron to get it to roll this way. And he talked with the cutest Minnesotan accent (you know, hey dar!).

There weren’t any children around right then so I asked him if I could sit on his lap. Being a jolly sort, he was very encouraging. He asked what was on my list and I told him “I don’t have a list.”

You know what he said?

“That’s a good thing because you were naughty this year. Santa likes naughty girls. Ho Ho Ho” He giggled.

“I was not naughty.” My childish self said.

And my friends said, “She was too, Santa.”

Thanks girlfriends.

I look really tired. Christmas parties are hard work sometimes.


Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Trifecta: Souvenirs

Kitzbuhel and the Alps at night,

Opposing Vail,

Newlywed wives planned instead a cheap flight to Kitzbuhel’s slopes.

Spilling every last drop on Austrian cobblestones,

And reimbursing broken bed fees,

Naught remained for keepsakes.

Life’s memento arrived 9-months later.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Freaking Lights and Why I Hate Hobby Lobby

Prompt courtesy of Mama Kat’s Losing It":

 3.) What was the last thing you bought?

I stand corrected from previously posted opinions. 

There is a place I despise more than Costco. And the only reasons I hate Costco have more to do with the environment (parking lot, crowds, negative energy of patrons, etc.) than what it offers. I DO spend money at Costco. And lots of it. That part is easy and, mostly, I enjoy what I buy especially the books, wines and meats!


It used to be I went there several times a week for the "this and that" needs of my kids. It was the only place carrying stuff for projects and they loved going there.

As they got older, I finally got smart. Letting them off at the door, I'd give them a 45 minute shopping window and I parked the car to read. This worked well, I thought.

Yesterday, I found myself in need of things only one place offers. Cheap ass Christmas stuff!

Has anyone ever noticed that most of their stuff is cracked, broken or chipped?

I really needed extra outdoor lights for the backyard like this (the front yard is white):

And Hobby Lobby is the closest place. It’s right up the street.

I brought home four strands, strung them on the magnolia tree with the others already hanging there and pushed in the plug. Ta Da!!!

The freaking lights didn’t work. I tested them individually inside and they lit up fine. Just fine.

I packed them up, drove back, got four more strands and headed home.

I'm not dumb. So I tested them, together this time, in the kitchen before heading out. These freaking lights didn’t work at all! "Cheap ass Hobby Lobby stuff! Screw the freaking lights!”, I said to my husband. Actually, I may or may not have used stronger language.

I packed them up and drove back.

Yet there is a pleasant ending to this dreadful Hobby Lobby debacle. I picked up some mistletoe. And I hung it in the busiest thoroughfare in our home, the path from the stairs to the mudroom.

It didn’t take my husband very long at all to notice it. As a matter of fact, it was just about the first thing he saw when he came home from work. Maybe I planned this ;-).

There’s nothing like taking time to test mistletoe and I'm happy to report ours is in full working order. Hopefully our family will stop for a few moments in these next few nutty weeks and kiss the person standing under it. It will probably be me! 

Addy and I were the first true testers. Shush, don't tell!

I’m pretty happy with the very last thing I bought. Hobby Lobby was good for something.

What did you last buy?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You Know What They Say About Small Packages

Packing two overtired kids and a trunk load of presents into the car, my parents made the rounds to our grandmothers’ houses every Christmas Eve. The car radio set to a station that chronicled Santa’s journey giving updates as to his current whereabouts.

Our first stop was perennially the “old” Lithuanian neighborhood to drop off gifts for my great grandma and great aunts. Shortly after, we'd be turning right at the Baby Doll Polka Club just behind Midway Airport and our car would glide to the curb in front of Grandma Genny's house in Chicago. 

The big picture window framed her slight body, which was aglow in lights as she hung ornaments on her tree by herself. As a child, I always wondered why grandma never spent Christmas Eve with her mother and unmarried sisters.

Obligatory hugs and kisses traded, my brother and I sat expectantly on her plastic covered couch to patiently wait for “present time”. Once the grown ups settled into living room chairs with their beverages, our job was to distribute boxes as excitement bubbled over. 

Grandma Genny gave the best gifts. Covered with sparkling foil paper and candy, a fun toy or game from Woolworths was always inside. She didn’t have much but she gave thoughtfully.

Seeing my name on a box I thought was far too small, my nine year old heart sank. Eyes immediately shifting to my brother’s gift, gigantic in my opinion, sizing it up against mine. 

My tear-rimmed eyes found Grandma Genny’s and she patted the seat next to her on the couch.

“Good things come in smaller packages.” She whispered in my ear.

It's hard to believe that when you're nine.

“What order should we open presents this year, Grandma?” asked my brother.

“Why don’t we go youngest to oldest? Jimmy, you go first.” Grandma squeezed my hand.

Like a Tasmanian devil, my brother tore threw his larger than life package ripping heavy gauge tape to get inside. Screaming with joy, he spilled out 1,000 green army men and a plastic camouflaged tank from a nondescript box.

I looked to Grandma for reassurance, “Your turn, honey.”

Slowly unwrapping her gift, my eyes became saucers as I unveiled a white transistor radio for my bedroom. Ecstatic, I threw my arms around my Grandma Genny’s neck in thanks.

She was perfectly right. My small gift was far better to me than any big box of plastic soldiers. My brother was lining up army men and attacking them with pillows while she helped me tune into Santa’s journey.

The following year, as was tradition, my parents packed up for the same road trip around Chicagoland. This time, as my brother opened his extremely large box, I smiled knowingly at Grandma Genny.

My brother received a case of his favorite black olives.

And I opened a beautiful jewelry box.

Never again did I contemplate or compare the size of a present. I learned to trust the giver.