Monday, December 30, 2013

Up Where They Play All Day In The Sun

My very favorite Christmas tradition happens on the night of Christmas Eve: We get dressed in our jammies, load our blankets and pillows out to the car and drive around looking at all the Christmas lights and listening to the Christmas music on the radio. As a child I remember looking forward to this with just as much anticipation as opening presents. I loved being together as a family, gasping over beautiful displays, laughing at mistaking real deer for Christmas decorations, judging if a cul-de-sac was too covered in snow to get the car in and out without getting caught in a snowbank,  and falling asleep to the hum of the car engine. My dad knew all the best decorated houses and neighborhoods in the city. I remember picking out my favorite decoration and knowing just which lights I would decorate my house with, once I was old enough to have one.

Now I am old enough to have a house. I do have a house, but I do not put up my long list of Christmas lights up on the outside. Christmas lights in Sunland seem a little sad to me: forever waiting for that soft blanket of snow that has no intention of coming. Christmas light in Sunland seem like a mimic; a knock-off. It just doesn't hold the same magic.

Still, my daughters don't seem to mind, so the tradition of Christmas Eve light-driving continues. Even if it does make me a little nostalgic for Hometown.

Don't feel bad for me. In fact, if you are cursing your current cold weather, do not read this post any further.

Feeling nostalgic for hometown lasted almost twenty four hours. After that the high seventy degree weather won me back. Saturday we spent a perfect day on a beautiful beach: playing ultimate Frisbee barefoot in the sand, getting a small sun tan, eating the most delicious food barbecued in front of some breath-taking waves, and generally enjoying the summer weather.

Monday we drove down to the tide pools. The tide was at a low and we went in search of all sorts of sea creatures. We went in shorts and barefeet: swimsuit tops and sunglasses. We waded through the foot-deep warm waters that were as clear as glass and poked under rocks to see the crabs scurry away. We saw lots of sea anemones, that I learned you can actually stick your finger in and they will suck it in along with all thjeir little waving petals. We toughed a few crabs, which reared up in irritation, and we even saw a starfish and a the coolest, softest sea slug (which is much prettier than it sounds). Afterwards we soaked in a hot tub and made plans to spend New Year's Eve Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding on the lagoon.

Now this is the way to spend Christmas vacation. I love it here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

He Does Not Go To School. He is Too Busy Making Those Sneakers You are Wearing. I Kid You. He is a Doctor. I Kid You Again. You are so gullible

I've always been gullible, although I prefer to use words like: "open-minded" or "non judgmental". Still, if I read something: it's true. if someone tells me something: it's true. Multiple choice tests were always the worst for me. I'd know the answer to the question, but when I read the different choices I'd find myself saying: "Oh! I see how that could be true. That one does have a good point. I see where this one is coming from..."

I've found that part of me changing a little bit. Maybe it's because I'm a little wiser (hah!)? Maybe because I'm getting set in my ways? I'm not sure. But here is the proof:

A friend of mine told me that T (a person we both know, but not very well) was engaged. "Was" being the key word. According to T her finance died last week. He was bitten by a spider and died within a day.

This is not the sort of thing a raging arachnophob likes to hear. And yet, when I heard, my reaction was to cock my head to one side and say "Huh. I do not think that is truth."  Which is a surprising reaction coming from my gullible self. I sat down to google the chances of dying from a spider bite. I din't get very far. All websites with such statistics also have pictures of spiders, so I couldn't stay on the website for more than half a second.

Still, from what little I could glean, unless T was engaged to a very small child or a pregnant woman, her statement was false. Chances of dying from a spider bite in the U.S. for anyone: slim to none. Chances of dying from a spider bite in the U.S if you are an adult male: none.

So I answered: "Are you sure she didn't break up with her finance and she just wished he was eaten by spiders?"

Who knows? Certainly not me.

That very night I was outside taking my laundry off the clothesline. It was already dark and I was barefoot (of course. The reason I live in Sunland is so I can go outside, at night, mid-December, with no shoes and not get cold).  As I stepped on to the grass my toe began to burn. I knew instantly I'd been bit or stung by something. I screamed and shook my foot but in the dark I have no idea what bit me. I ran inside to apply a baking soda paste (which works great on bee stings) while trying not to jump to conclusions. It was no use: I was bitten by a spider. I'm going to die. I have less than a day to live. This is my punishment for being skeptical instead of compassionate toward T. Good-bye cruel, vengeful-spider-filled world.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I am so very sick.

For Thanksgiving we went to Drek's sister's house and met up with the majority of Drek's family like we did the year before. I have loved it both years. I'm all in favor of making it a permanent Thanksgiving tradition.

But it does have drawbacks. Thanksgiving is during cold and flu season. There are fourteen small children (and counting!). One of them, if not half of them, will be sick. Or getting sick, or recovering from being sick.  Gathering children from three different states ensures that new germs are being introduced to young, inexperienced immune systems.  Sugar is a must for Thanksgiving (cereal for breakfast, pies for dessert, candy everywhere) so my children's  immune systems shut down. Driving home all day in a car with sick kids, breathing the same contaminated air means that by the time we arrive home we are all sick.

After spending WEEKS with sick kids, sick husband, and being sick myself, canceling plans, missing LLL meetings, and generally being miserable, we finally all start to recover when we are hit with a new strain of something and I find myself even more sick than I was, with a throat so sore I can't swollow, wondering if, between a four year that won't take naps no matter how sick she is, and an infant that coughs so hard at night she throws up on me (three nights in a row), I will ever have three hours of uninterupped sleep ever again.

And yet, it's December. And I have small children. It should be a given that our family spends a month hovering near the brink of death. That's just how it works. I should be grateful that our family usually misses this sort of thing, and, in fact, it's been a few years since we were all this sick.

But I'm not grateful. I'm cursing these germs. I'm furious at the timing. My dear friend starts emergency chemo and radiation today. I haven't been able to see her since we left for our Thanksgiving vacation. I can't go anywhere near her, or have her come anywhere near the girls, because she might get our germs and since she has no immune system, she will die.

So here I am, uselessly lying in bed, waiting. Hoping I will get to see her before it's too late.

Friday, December 13, 2013

There Up In The Sky A Star To Follow

I got Drek clothes for his birthday. Since Drek isn't big on surprises, it was more of an announcement: "Hey! I'm getting you clothes for your birthday! Happy Birthday!" and then pulling up a few websites for him to order from. He ended up ordering from two stores: Macey's and JC Penny. He ordered with the intent to return the majority of clothes, since clothes shopping for him is an every-other-year event and he's not sure what styles and sizes he will like.

The clothes arrive, he picked his favorites, we were careful to save all receipts, tags and bags. Today I googled the nearest mall (yes, I had to google it. Why would I go to a mall except to return stuff ordered online?), packed the kids in the car and off we went! As I turned the corner and saw the mall in front of me I was hit with a sudden realization: It is December. I am at a mall. Oh noes.

Finding a parking spot was awful. I had to follow someone to their car and take their spot. Once we parked I realized Ash didn't have any shoes. You may think that would have been enough for me to give up and mail the return back, but no. I had already googled this place. I already wasted gas to get here. I already found a parking spot.

So I put Ash on my back in the baby carrier, hold Alexa in one hand and the two huge bags of returns in the other hand. Off we trek through the parking lot! Into the mall! Bypass the huge line to ask the employee where I return stuff! The answer was in any line. So I wait in line for ten minutes, do a quick and pleasant return, then set out through the mall to find the other store: JC Penny. Of course it is on the other side of the giant mall. While we are hiking through the enormous building Ash is asking all sorts of questions, because she's hasn't been inside malls very much and she wants to know what EVERYTHING is. We make it to the middle of the mall and, of course, there is Santa. Groan.

Ash wants to talk to Santa. She doesn't know what she will say, but she really wants to talk to him. I tell her we'll talk with Santa on the way back, because I still have one huge bag that I is slipping out of my hand, but I can't switch hands because I'm carrying Alexa.

We finally arrive at JC Penny. I find the Customer Service desk and wait in line. When we finally make it to the front I am informed that returns must be done downstairs.

I search for an escalator, take it downstairs, find the desk marked "Service: returns and exchanges" and wait in that line. When I get to the front of that line, I am told that internet return are at a different place. She directs me to the proper counter. I go off in search of it, get lost, ask someone else, wander around, and finally find the desk. Even better; there is no line! I give her the bag and the receipt and then watch in horror as he does the return by hand. She does not scan barcodes like Macey's. She has to to match the twelve digit numbers by hand. Because I am returning seven items out of a ten item receipt, it takes a long, long time.  While I wait realize that in two years, when Drek is wanting new clothes, I might have forgotten this experience, so I send him a text:

Rule 1: No clothes for your birthday because that means I am returning in December. From now on you get clothes for Easter.

Rule 2: We are NEVER ordering from JC Pennys EVER AGAIN. Macey's, on the other hand, is just fine.

After everything is returned I make the journey back across the mall with my hands bag-free, although the child on my back is getting heavier by the minute. We make it back to Santa, who has just gone on lunch break and won't be back for an hour. I can't say I'm not thrilled. I tell Ash that Santa will be at the ward party, so she can talk to him tomorrow. She does not complain.

We head out, find our car and I slip the two kids back into their carseats. Finally! I can breathe again! Of course, getting out of a mall parking lot in December is a feat in itself, but we are triumphant!

Friday, December 06, 2013

P.S. The Bird Bites

A few weeks ago we were settling down to bed when I heard some suspicious noises coming from our front room. I made Drek investigate. He determined the noise was coming from our fireplace. During the day, if a bird lands on our chimney it makes the same noise, but this was night! Drek took a flashlight and went outside. A few minutes later he came back in, took me outside and shone the light up on our chimney.

An Owl! It looked right at us! After marveling over how beautiful it was, we tried to tell it that we had a beautiful home needing an owl family set up ion our palm tree. The owl made no movements to indicate it understood.

Still, last night we saw an owl sitting in our palm tree! Cross your fingers that a family moves in and decides to eat our pesky ground squirrel for dinner!