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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The joy of the slacker Christmas

No big Christmas goose/duck/turkey/roast set on a fabulously decorated table.

Dinner was chicken nuggets and fries, followed by store-bought ice cream cake.

No fancy clothes. Actually, no clothes for the girls at all (they wore their PJ's all day, so get yer mind outta the gutter).

No chestnuts on an open fire.

No doorbells ringing.

No timetable. No guests. No agenda.

As much as I love to see my extended family at Christmas, this was quieter, more low key and held absolutely no expectations.

Heck, I had one strong drink at noon, fell asleep at two and woke when it was dark. And no one cared.

It was a slacker Christmas, and it was perfect.

Hope your Christmas was too.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Memorial Day: December 22

Five years ago, I lost my dad to colorectal cancer. I've remembered his passing each year, with a story about how caroling at the nursing home reminded me of his last days, how I missed the moment of his death, and by talking about how his dying so close to Christmas affected me.

This year, I've decided to pull out the eulogy I read at his memorial service that occurred a few days after Christmas 2004. When I wrote it, I had three additional houseguests, was still cleaning up wrapping paper, and had a three-month-old newborn along with a 1 and 3 year old. It isn't the most eloquent thing I've ever written, but I think he would've approved.

If someone didn't know our dad and just dropped in to look at his belongings and observe his life, they'd see they'd found a man with a strong inclination for neatness, detail and order.

From his incredibly detailed filing system, to the blueprints he created for his annual garden, to his workbench with a spot for every tool, pencil and rope, to his lawn---a perfect green patch of loveliness. When I was younger, I'd mow his lawn in crazy corkscrew and checkerboard patterns just to drive him crazy.

As my brother-in-law once said with great fondness, "people think your sister gets her extreme neatness from your mom; but while your mom is neat, your dad is nuts."

Our dad was also very intelligent. . .he could play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit. . .but I believe he used his intelligence not as a way to set him apart from other people, but as a way to connect to others. He loved to talk to people--all kinds of people--and he knew something about so many topics, he could almost always find a subject in common with the person to whom he was speaking. If you've ever had a long conversation with him and then wondered, "I didn't know Ed knew anything about XYZ", you know what I mean.

He was also a man of simple pleasures: a nice canoe paddle around the pond, a good piece of meat off the grill, an evening watching TV with his Fluffy cat on his lap, spending time with his grandchildren, tending to his garden, patiently teaching his sons-in-law how to do a home project. But again, he liked nothing more than sitting down with you and talking about whatever topic came to mind.

But, this is just part of the picture of my dad. He was also a guy with a great sense of humor who loved jokes and goofiness. His favorite movies were Airplane, Young Frankenstein and This Is Spinal Tap. When I lived at home, I could hear his laughter carrying down the hallway as he watched Saturday Night Live or some other late night show.

When the Connecticut River flooded our neighborhood and he was stuck behind to keep the pump going in the basement, he took my sister's Barbie sailboat and used it to hold his beer.
We had a "Don't Tell Mom" agreement between us which was invoked when he purchased a large piece of electronics or when I had another alcohol-infused mishap. Every summer, he'd blow up giant dragon floats for the pond and affectionately named them Cecil and Puff, supposedly to amuse the kids, but we knew better.

And, he's the only dad I ever knew who'd hear his girls scream "TURN DOWN THAT STEREO!" when we walked into the house. He liked his music LOUD!

It is in this spirit that I'd like to read a short passage from a song that I think he'd appreciate. There were many times, even in his final weeks, that we saw his sense of humor, his strength of character, his optimism and love of life shining through:

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad

Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle

Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best

And. . .
. . .always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the light side of life

(from Monty Python's Life of Brian)

Still missing you like crazy Daddy.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Busy, busy, busy. . .

The 12 Things at Christmas that have kept me from blogging this month:

1. Daily Advent Calendar is kicking my ass.

2. We're busy scrambling for candy thrown by cute little scouts.

Yes, even though we mailed all our Halloween candy away last month, we now have enough to get us through the long, cold winter.

3. Grandparents on both sides who ask me to shop for the kids. This is great in that I do love having control over what toys come into the house, but my basement looks like a haunted house, with sheets covering piles of hidden treats.

4. Annual Christmas target practice.

5. 135 Christmas cards. You know that line in this song where he says "I don't even KNOW half of these people?". Kind of like that.

6. Sinterklaas, which has one of the scariest Christmas stories ever. If you don't behave, he hits you with a stick and shoves you into his sack. Don't believe me? Well, David Sedaris says it's so.

Here, the children are relieved that there will be no stick-hitting/sack-stuffing:

7. Visiting local New England holiday landmarks, being sure to cover all the holiday religions: Christian, Jewish and old-fashioned Santa.

8. Meeting my niece for the first time and seeing my beloved sister-in-law who are up from Florida for the week. I'm getting baby time, y'all.

9. Making gingerbread men. I swear to you, the kids did this one all by themselves. Should I be worried?

10. Working like a busy little elf on cool product reviews and helping to get another website back into flight.

11. Wondering how the kids managed to make the creepiest looking snowman ever.

12. Taking up a new instrument. Badly.

Hope you are all having a rocking December too!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

To think that I used to worry that she'd never read

The page was open for all of ten seconds when I realized that Belly was looking over my shoulder at the laptop.



"Mommy. . . what's "Doing a Tiger Woods"?

(whirling sound of my brain)

"Um, it means being a really, really good golf player".

And then I made a mental note to keep her away from all supermarket checkout lines for the foreseeable future.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Surprised that lightening did not strike me down

I went to a religious shrine and the earth didn't swallow me whole. Read about it here.

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