Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Perfect Christmas so far this year (except not a whiff of snow). Work was fun yesterday for me--we don't have any music playing up front in the store, so the kids started singing. The last 20 minutes they all stood at the door and "caroled" the customers. Loudly. Badly. But it was hilarious! Then presents with the husband and kids this morning. We never let the kids just rip and snort through their presents--we always took turns so that it would last at least a little while. I was always glad that they took the time to appreciate each gift as it was opened, not just toss it aside and grab another one. Then my folks are coming for dinner this afternoon. And we will have the "family Christmas" with my step brothers on Saturday. The only thing that could make it better (other than some snow!) is if my brother and his family were here. Anyway, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Now, If It Would Just Snow a Little!

I'm finally getting in the Christmas mood. I've decided everyone is getting fruit baskets again. I think I gave our parents fruit baskets last year, but after all, they don't need anything. My folks can afford to buy what ever they need, and they do. And we aren't particularly close to my husband's Mom or Dad, therefore, I have no idea what they need. They are more than happy to do up "special" baskets at the store I work at, so I think I'll get some extras to put in them just to make them less generic. So that's settled, and I have the rest of my presents wrapped. My daughter made it home from college yesterday. It's great having her home. We went shopping last night, didn't really buy anything but it was fun just spending the time with her. Right now I can hear her and her brother in the next room playing on the Playstation. It's nice. And to top everything off, the husband got a job! It's part time as an "Inventory Control Specialist" at Walmart. I hope he likes it and it lasts. Full time would have been better, but even a part-time check is going to make such a difference.
Roscoe decided the orange smell doesn't bother him any more. We've found him in the trees several times playing with the ornaments. So far he hasn't done any damage, but I've got the feeling we won't leave the trees up very long after Christmas this year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Great Christmas Cookie Madness of 2008

I started baking cookies before Halloween. I decided to experiment with making double and triple batches and freezing them just to see how it would effect different varieties. And for some reason I haven't been able to stop! A couple of years ago a friend of mine and I baked cookies and sold them on the Triangle just to make some extra money. She had mentioned maybe doing it again this year, and I think that is when I went into overdrive. We never got together and decided a date, but I just kept mixing and baking. It's like an obsession! I wonder a bit if it isn't my way of dealing with the stress of my husband's job situation this year. Yesterday, as I finished baking the last of the dough from the freezer, I decided "this is it--no more", but yet at the same time I kept coming up with kinds I meant to bake this year but haven't yet. Eeekkkk! Make it stop! I think lots of family and friends are getting plates of cookies this year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bah Humbug

I'm having a very difficult time getting into Christmas this year. We only put up half the decorations that we usually do (and I didn't even clean before we put them up--the shelves were pretty dusty!) and I don't have my shopping done. I'm usually about done shopping and wrapping by now. We don't buy for very many people and I'm done with the kids and the Husband, but I have no idea what to get for the few others I usually buy for. I think between the stress of trying to pay the bills on just my paycheck and all of the work I've been putting into my Avon business is just not leaving any time for anything else. My brain is a bit fried! Last weekend I had a booth at the LYF's Holiday Bazaar and today I'm hosting my annual Pre-Christmas sale. It started out strong this morning, but has died down. It didn't help that part of my last order didn't arrive with the rest of it, so I reordered and (naturally) ended up with a box full of duplicates! So it's another thing that needs taken care of. I love getting a 40 hour paycheck, but I sure miss my Thursdays off that I had for the 10 years before this one! It was nice to have a day to get things done. The daughter comes home next weekend--maybe that will lift my spirits!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sign of the Times?

We have Senior Citizen day on Tuesdays at the store. Over 60, get 10% off. Tuesdays are almost always good. Throw in a holiday and you have a busy day. Put a holiday on Thursday and you have two good days....normally. We had a good Tuesday. But not great. The day's total was only $90 better than last year. If you adjust for the higher cost of everything it wasn't better. And yesterday? Unless they really got busy after I left at 5, we aren't going to be anywhere close to last year's totals. We ran out of some of the basics--some things they didn't order enough, some because our warehouse shorted us--and some things we just couldn't get for some strange reason. But I'm sure that hurt us alot. We are the only store in town, and I believe that if our customers had to run to the next town over, they were just going to pick up everything while they were there. Quite frankly, that's what I would do. The day before Thanksgiving is usually one of our best days of the year. I won't know the actual numbers until tomorrow, but I'm betting we are down a quarter of what we did last year. It worries me.
P.S. I guess they did stay very busy and the day's totals weren't bad at all. Who could have figured?!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Roller Coaster Week

It's been quite the week. Not bad, mind you, just up and down. Work was okay, except we got extremely busy Tuesday afternoon and everyone had already left, leaving me and Jean to cope with lines of customers. My son broke his arm in PE on Wednesday. He really thought he had just fallen on it wrong, but by the time I got home from work it was hurting pretty bad. We sat in the Emergency Room all evening. It's just a buckle fracture and should heal fast and he should have the cast off before Christmas. I took a "vacation day" on Thursday, did some follow up stuff from the night before, went to coffee with my friend Tina and went shopping and out to dinner with my Mom. Made for a decent day. Today, hopefully, I'm going to take advantage of the sunshine and put out some Christmas lights. And my daughter should be home Thursday for the weekend, so I'm looking towards a good week ahead. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Experiment, Part 2

Well, the experiment failed! He basically attacked the tree and the ornaments. He didn't actually climb the tree, but as we pulled ornaments from the lower limbs and placed them higher, he was stretching his little body as far as it would go. Next step would have been climbing! So we took them down and then did some research. One site said cats don't like the smell of orange so I took one of his little paper balls that he loves so much and put orange flavoring on it. He won't have anything to do with it! Today while we are shopping I'm going to try and find some orange oil (like for candles) and we are going to lace some pine cones with it and hang it on the lowest branches. Fingers crossed, again!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We always put up our Christmas tree(s) the weekend after Thanksgiving. I think it has been our tradition since our first Christmas 21 years ago. We've always had at least one pet around, sometimes several. And some of them noticed the Christmas decorations, but never really bothered them. However, we still rarely put bows on the presents because Kitty would pull them off and try to eat them! (And she has been gone for more than 10 years!) So we decided last weekend to go ahead and put up a tree with just one short string of lights and a string of beads to see if Rosco was going to be the tree-climbing type of kitten. He has been having fun batting things around, but (fingers crossed!) he hasn't tried to climb it yet! I still think my antique ornaments may stay in the box this year!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Defining Moments

My daughter came home from college last weekend so she could vote. I've always believed it was important to be part of the process--to me it is part of being American. I know I get that from my folks. Dad always said if you don't vote you don't have the right to complain. I've always taken that to heart and been vocal about it! And apparently at least one of my kids was listening to me! I admit right now that I've never been as emotionally vested in any other election. I don't even have the words to express how I feel. I think for the last few weeks I've been holding my breath waiting for it to be over. I was so afraid the vote would go the other way. Everyone at work was so sure that Obama would win, but I was afraid they were getting too cocky--that maybe that certainty was going to jinx it! I don't know if Obama can actually do anything he promised, but just the fact that he got elected shows me there is hope for the American people. I guess living in this town where world views can be rather narrow wears on me. I would have loved to have put up an Obama sign in my yard or worn a button to work, but I have to deal with "customer relations" and most of the town voted the other way. I don't do political arguments (just like I don't do religious arguments). I just hope that they realize what a historic thing just happened.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Favorite Places

One of our very favorite places is the St. Louis Zoo. We went several times when I was a child, the whole extended family--aunts, uncles and cousins. We would always take a picnic with cold fried chicken and potato salad and the sweat bees would buzz around our sodas. My husband and I spend part of our honeymoon in St. Louis and the Zoo was our first stop. Somehow, when the kids were still babies, we started a tradition of taking them to the Zoo. It's not quite an hour and a half drive, especially if we go on Sunday. The Zoo is free, but parking is a bit expensive and most of the "extras" (the train, the children's zoo) have an extra charge. I began to purchase a family membership and we have generally made the trip 2 or 3 times a year. It's hard to find an activity that parents can share with teenagers (especially teenage boys!) but this one works for all of us. It's been our tradition, our "place". So the fact that my daughter is going to school in Indianapolis now, meaning the total opposite direction, has affected my decision to renew our membership. I figure if we have a free day, instead of heading west we will probably head east. Except, I'm noticing we are all suffering withdrawal! Especially my 16 year old son! I admit, I'm really surprised about that. I knew he enjoyed it, I guess I just didn't realize how much. I realize I'm blessed with kids that actually like to spend time with their parents. Hallelujah!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sign Of the Season

My burning bush is starting to turn red, which means Fall is officially here. And it actually finally feels like it! For the last week, the nights have been hovering around 40 degrees, while the days are only hitting the 60s and low 70s. (We had been hitting 80s the week before.) Weather-wise, it's been a strange year. Spring was wet. So wet that the crops got out extremely late. It got so late for corn, in fact, that many farmers put out soy beans instead. But after the rain finally let up and the farmers finally got their crops out, we had almost a perfect summer for them. The weather was warm without being unbearable--in fact, down right cool at times, and it rained just enough. We have been in "drought" and "near drought" for so many years, this summer's rains refilled the lakes and the reservoirs. This is an agricultural community. If the crops have low yields, the whole community suffers. So talking about the weather isn't just making small-talk, which I've always found amusing! The down side of it for me was that we hardly got to swim in our pool all summer! It rarely got warm enough for the water to get comfortable. The summers for the last few years have been almost unbearably hot. There doesn't seem to be any pattern anymore. Makes me wonder what is going to happen the next few years.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Triangle

Ever since I was little and realized most towns had a town square, I've loved the fact that my town had a triangle! The layout of the town centered around two railroad tracks that crossed each other, but didn't dissect each other at a square. I've heard they are planning on tearing down the present gazebo and building a new one. The Triangle really is an integral part of our town. I don't believe the space is used as much as it could be, but it's not uncommon on a Saturday in the summer for there to be a bake sale or pork burger sale that draws large crowds. The Halloween parade and the Abate motorcycle parade both circle around the Triangle. I've heard in "the olden days" there used to be bands that would play on Friday nights. After the original building blew apart in a storm, walls would be put up around the gazebo in the winter to serve as "Santa's Cottage". I wish I had taken pictures a month ago. The Garden Club has been planting and caring for flowers on The Triangle for several years, and this year was especially colorful.

Monday, October 6, 2008

This is Rosco

I had every intention of getting some cleaning done and putting out the Halloween decorations yesterday. Typical Sunday--I got some of the cleaning done and a few decorations up. There are just too many distractions! One being Rosco. We've had him for eight weeks now. We found him at the reservoir. Probably someone had dumped him. We couldn't leave him there, so we brought him home. I really didn't intend to keep him, but he stuck and he's definitely made himself a part of the family!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

One of My "Pets"

I love flowers, and I seem to have a thing for Praying Mantises. I think it goes back to when I was a kid and Mom found an egg case and stuck it by the door. When they hatched we had babies all over the place and I've been a fan ever since! Last summer when we were working on my son's bug collection for school I caught a large momma and brought it home. (She didn't make it into the collection!) Now we have several larger specimens in the yard. Even tho I try to go light on pesticides, we haven't seen many mantises this year, but the warm weather must have brought them out of hiding because we found quite a few today. This one made it to the top of the pump. Don't know where she thought she was going from there! I'm just really hoping they are all busy laying eggs this afternoon!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Longest Week

This has been the longest week. I didn't think Friday was ever going to get here. I'm not sure why it seemed so long. Maybe because I expected it to be busier. Usually the first few days of the month are fairly busy just because people get their food stamps and come in and stock up. Our store has exceptionally good meat, and people come from quite-a-ways. The first week usually sees a big surge in meat bundles. But for some reason that didn't happen. I get alittle tired of hearing about the economy (which is a huge topic in a grocery store!) but I imagine it has everything to do with the economy. My guess is that the people with food stamps went to Aldi's and Walmart to try and stretch their bucks, altho one friend went over and said they didn't seem any busier than normal. It's a mystery!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Product of the '80's

I took my 16 year old son to see a movie yesterday afternoon. On the way, "Everybody Must Get Stoned" by Bob Dylan came on the radio and I'm singing along. And he repeats the words almost like it's a question, turns towards me, and says, "so, did you ever get stoned?" Now, how do you answer a question like that, especially if the answer isn't no! I laughed and said "I don't think I'm going to answer that!". "So, in other words the answer is yes". And I went on to say how stupid a thing it is to do.(being the good, responsible Mom, after all) The funny thing is, I've always wondered how I would answer that question. Thank God, my 18 year old has never asked. She's laughed a few times at the thought of her parents doing drugs--"drinking I can see, but drugs!"--but she's never actually asked. I don't regret doing them, I don't regret the things I did while doing them. After all, they are a part of my history, a part of what and who I am today. And, hey, I had some good times! But it was also before I ever even thought about getting married and having kids. I really believe you have to grow up at some point and become a responsible adult. I do wonder sometimes if some of my health problems go back to the abuse I put my body through. To be honest, most of the abuse was alcohol, not drug, related. That's one thing I miss less and less as I get older! And to think, at one time, I thought being a bar-fly was a valid life choice!