Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Cards

I did it! All the cards are addressed and in envelopes. I just have to slap on return address labels and lick them closed. Oh, and put on stamps. I found out the hard way one year that the Post Office doesn't like it when you try to mail 50+ cards without postage.

I just want everyone to know that even if this is the only thing you get from us all year long, it's an envelope full of love and hugs. Anyone who knows me well knows I am TERRIBLE about social niceties like birthday cards or thank you notes. I just don't think about it, forget or remember when it's way too late. The last time I sent thank you notes was, I think, right after we got back from our honeymoon. You know, wedding gifts? I had neat little thank you cards printed up. Oh! I think I sent notes to people who sent me baby gifts too. I think. If I didn't...thank you! Aww, you guys know I appreciate you...right?

I know I've set a terrible example for my boys. My mom made me write thank you notes for every gift I ever got when I was living at home. I think that was the only time I wished fewer people loved me. *grin* Hand cramp!

But seriously, this is the one time of year I spend a couple days focused on family and friends. The process starts with me updating my address file. This year I cried as I deleted a couple more names. We lost some family and friends this year. I put extra love and hugs into the envelopes going to friends who lost parents or are going through a divorce. This time of year is going to be hard for them. We love you guys!

Then I try and catch John to see if he has any changes or updates. Like his new boss (who I still need an address for)... He's been sending cards to the same group of friends for as long as I've known him. Well...I send the cards for both of us. Which leads to another thing I think about. If something ever happened to me, would he send cards? I am thinking he would miss a couple years then start to feel guilty if any of our friends continued to send him cards anyway. ;)

Then I wonder what other people's rule of thumb is. We've only received, like, 3 cards so far this year. I didn't send any last year. If someone misses a year, do you drop them from your list for the following year? I keep sending until the post office returns a card (mail forwarding expired?) or I know something happened to the recipient or John says I don't work for/with that guy anymore. But that's just me. Once a year. We're still here. We love you. Hello? Hee hee!

Finally, it's time to take one last flip through and see if I missed anyone. If you'd like a card and I missed you this year, be sure to let me know! Seriously. I don't trust my brain. Meanwhile, I have my headphones on and am enjoying the Christmas Classics channel on Pandora Radio. Tyler yells at me when ever I forget and start singing out loud. Oops. Sorry son.

Happy Holidays Y'all!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Our Elf and other Christmas Nonsense

Every year it seems like something falls through the cracks. Last year, I had to 86 the Christmas cards. I simply ran out of time and the boys would NOT cooperate and take a photo together. Not the first time. A few years ago I resorted to this:

If they won't dress up and pose, I can paper elf them! Muhahaha! But seriously... This year I have a gorgeous new family portrait to use, so I am super happy with our card and eager to send it out. Last year I got the boys Lego advent calendars when they were on sale in November. It was also our first year hosting an Elf on the Shelf. She kept me hopping! This year? The elf came out right on time, but I forgot the advent calendars. By the time I remembered, the Lego ones were over $60. No way. I crossed my fingers and hoped the boys wouldn't notice. I also forgot to get some Hanukkah gifts and chocolate coins for Max's celebration - so I dug into the stocking stuffers and we used left-over Halloween candy to play our dreidel games until my Amazon order came in. He was happy. He also noticed the absence of his annual advent calendar. Rats!

Another quick visit to Amazon and I finally settled on these cute and inexpensive advent calendars from a Vermont chocolate company. A chocolate a day? Hey, I'd be thrilled. I gave them to the boys tonight. They have 11 days worth of chocolate to eat in order to catch up. Tyler was thrilled. Max? Not so much. He really REALLY likes the Lego calendar. This is why they can charge $60 for 24 days worth of minifigs and blocks. Note to self: Next year, order the Lego calendar really early. Maybe start looking around Halloween.

Back to the elf. I've only forgotten to move her once. So far, so good! Last night she left the boys this:

It was perfect. Tonight, she plans to make one of those rainbow loom rubber band bracelets for Max on his loom and she is adding jingle bells. Too bad we don't have any more red or green bands. There is one of those pesky cracks again. I also can't find the cornstarch. Snowflake the elf wanted to make indoor snow angels tomorrow night. Hopefully I can track down the cornstarch and the cutting board by then.

Last year Snowflake got the boys a kit to make a gingerbread Christmas tree. Turns out you really need beaters or a food processor to mix the icing. It was a tasty tasty mess. But Max still had fun putting it together and decorating. This year I think Snow is going to bake a Christmas tree braided cinnamon roll and leave some colored icing to decorate it. I have a list of ingredients. Just need to get to the grocery store. I also want to make and decorate sugar cookies. Maybe cupcakes too. Too ambitious?

So...what else have I forgotten? I think my Christmas shopping is done. I think.

Uh oh. I just remembered. I never ordered new Christmas PJs for the boys. They always get new jammies for Christmas eve. *sigh* Back to Amazon...

Friday, December 06, 2013

That's one for the books...

I haven't related a tale from my misspent youth in quite some time. Basically, every time I think of something funny or interesting, I find that I already talked about it here. Did I really run out of stories? Then my friend Emily posted a funny anecdote on FaceBook about a recent visit to the doctor and his comment that he'd never seen "one so big" in his entire career. She had a cold sore. It must have been very very large. ;)  It reminded me of an amusing incident from when I was 12 or so.

As I've related a few times in the past, I was an outdoorsy child. Not by choice, mind you. My mother would chase us kids out of the house and tell us not to return until the street lights started coming on. So I spent a lot of time sunning myself while reading. I also spent many many happy days avoiding the summer heat at the pool on the local air base. Back then, most Moms didn't worry about sun exposure. If we started to get red, they'd make us sit in the shade. As a result, I'd be dark brown by the time summer vacation ended. Nicely toasted. As winter arrived, that summer tan would fade and I'd have a nice new crop of freckles on my arms, legs and back to admire.

One year, the tan had faded everywhere but my left shoulder. I still had a large patch of dark skin there covering my shoulder blade and up over the top of my shoulder. I was 11ish. The next summer, the dark patch vanished as the rest of me turned the same shade of dark brown. But once again, by winter, the tan was gone everywhere but that large patch on my shoulder. This time, the area was covered with dark hair. I was a hairy child anyway...a fine peach fuzz of light brown. But my shoulder looked like it could use a shave. For a young girl headed into puberty, this was NOT acceptable.

My mom pointed it out to our pediatrician. He poked at my skin, scratched his chin and decided to send us to a specialist - a dermatologist at Children's Hospital in Boston. This was not our first visit there. I already told the story of my spinal curvature, I think. Now my mom was nervous. I started hearing whispers of "cancer" and other horrible possibilities. My vast and active imagination went into overdrive. Could that persistent tan KILL me?!

The dermatologist was very nice. He had a big magnifying glass with lights built in. He studied my skin carefully. He took a scraping (OUCH!) for biopsy. He consulted a couple books. Then he asked if he could bring in some colleagues. I was feeling particularly vulnerable in my backless hospital gown, but sure. The more the merrier, right? First it was 2. Then it was 4. Soon it was 6 or 8 people poking, squeezing, pulling and staring at my shoulder and conferring in varied whispered tones.

The doctor finally approached me and said, "This is extraordinary. We've never seen a some scientific term I no longer remember this large before! May I take some photographs? I want to submit your case to some medical publication I no longer remember and possibly get it published in some medical text book I no longer remember too!"  He seemed very excited. I nodded numbly and he took a bunch of photos of my back from various angles. I still had no idea what was going on. Was I going to die? Hello?

Finally, the doctor explain things in simple terms. It was a giant mole. "See how the darker skin is slightly raised? That is also why the hair there is darker. Moles often have more and darker hair." Ah. Still wasn't feeling better. I already felt like a freak of nature. This was just confirming things. He went on to stress that I use sun screen and avoid too much sun exposure. There was a higher risk of melanoma. I remember THAT word. He gave us a bottle of something that might possibly fade the skin discoloration a bit and make the "mole" less noticeable.

I did use the skin bleach stuff a few times, but it was hard to apply myself and there was NO way I was asking my Mom for help. Hello awkwardness and body shyness. Puberty is so so much fun.

The next summer, I hardly ever took off my swimsuit cover-up. I wanted a suit with wide straps. I spent most of my teens hiding my shoulder. It wasn't until I was a senior  in high school that I got a strapless prom dress. Even then, I had a cardigan.

To this day, if I get too much sun, my shoulder darkens. So I wear a swim shirt now. You won't find me in tank tops either.  And I never did find out if my back was featured in any medical publications. Any dermatology students out there? You might have seen me.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Happy Hanukkah!

Max decided again this year that he wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. I've always found researching and studying other faiths extremely interesting, so I've not had a problem with that. I love that my little boy is open minded and curious. He embraces everything and everyone and you'll never find me discouraging that. I posted this photo on Facebook a few days ago on the first night:

A Jewish friend left a funny comment about being unaware that Max had converted. I jokingly reminded him that Max had "converted" last year (the first time we celebrated Hanukkah.)  We were promptly accepted and welcomed by said friend as "members of the tribe." I love my friends. *grin*

My parents aren't on Facebook, but I have other relatives who are. My aunt showed my Mom the above photo and accompanying comments with a "You never told me Max converted!" My Mom, of course, was dumbfounded. I'm willing to bet my Aunt was joking and told Mom "Your Daughter doesn't tell you anything, does she." But my mother has no sense of humor, so she took this information literally and promptly called me to remind me she was there for Max's baptism and is his god mother...yadda yadda.  Oy gavalt. (See what I did there? hee hee)

I had to reassure her that Max didn't REALLY convert. Honestly. He is seven. When he is more mature, if he really wants to convert, I won't have a problem with that either. She'd have a cow if she heard me say that. Such a yenta, my mother. Also a bit meshuggina but that's common in my mishpocha.

Being me, of course, I can't let this extremely amusing misunderstanding go. Max will be wearing his yarmulke when we go visit at the end of the month and I'll coach him to start calling his Nana "Bubbe" instead. Maybe I can talk my mensch of a husband into taking a video. It should be SUPER funny.