Friday, December 26, 2008

A last minute Christmas

Despite putting up the Christmas tree and having the Christmas cards addressed the weekend after Thanksgiving, this year really turned into the last-minute Christmas.

We did have some events that severely cut into my prep time, though: a late night weeding party at work; two Christmas parties on the same night; playing the piano for every Saturday night and two out of three Sunday morning contemporary services; rehearsal for the Christmas concert; the Christmas concert; babysitting for my nieces for an entire weekend; participating in two cookie exchanges; helping the DCE paint 200 Christmas tree ornament; snowstorms causing last minute schedule changes... the list goes on.

So I found myself on the morning of Christmas Eve with no present for my mother. Of course, she is one of those people who says that they never want any Christmas presents, but she goes overboard buying presents for everyone else.

The plan was to go out Christmas Eve morning to Michael's or Walmart and buy her supplies for card making, but it had been snowing for practically 24 hours straight. I really did not want to go out -- especially since the snow blower is broken and we have to shovel by hand.

So I tried to figure out what I could do for a present for my mother without leaving the house. Something I could complete by 5:30 pm when I would devote the rest of my evening to playing piano for the Christmas Eve service.

Then it hit me -- I had a blank calendar in my craft stash. I could make her a 2009 calendar and decorate it with family photos! I'd done one a long time ago and it was fun and she loved it.

So I sat down at the computer to start sorting through a year's worth of photos to figure out which ones I could use. It didn't take long to figure out that there was no realistic way I could select, crop, print, and cut up enough photos to get this completed by my deadline -- let alone come up with 12 different (and fantastic) designs for the calendar. (one for each month of the year)

Feeling discouraged, I went back into the craft stash and -- this time I hit the jackpot! I found an old 6" x 6" scrapbook that I put together at a workshop a couple of years ago. We put together the pages -- stamped, glued embellishments, etc. -- but I never put any photos in it! All I had to do was print out photos (fewer than I would need for a calendar) and glue them down!

Hot diggity daffodil!

I was on a roll. Because the pages were only 6x6 (as opposed to a 12x12 inch calendar) I could get more photos on a sheet of photo paper and it would use less ink, etc.

My first two pages printed without a hitch. But then I ran into a digital photo enthusiasts nightmare. My printer started jamming every time I went to print on photo paper. Regular paper worked fine, but the photo paper was getting chewed up at an alarming rate! And this was my good, expensive photo paper too! (I can't bear to use cheap photo paper. You have to use the good stuff to get good prints.) Anyway, 6 ruined sheets of photo paper later, I had my photos.

Then, in what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, I found myself with a two hour block of time to cut the photos apart. It was great!

Hannah needed to be at church at 4:30 so that she could be a puppeteer in the 5:00 service. So I ran her up to church taking the photos, the album and a roll of adhesive and I glued the photos in the album in plenty of time for my 7:00 service. (I even got to watch my daughter attempt to work a puppet and do Bible readings. I even took photos from the balcony!)

So mission accomplished! I would have a wonderful present for my mother when they arrived on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day my parents telephone.

They are concerned about the weather and aren't coming until Sunday........

(Hey, maybe I'll use the extra time to scan in the pages so you all can see how they turned out!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

There's a reason he's doing community service

Rotten lousy community service person! I have this volunteer who needs to do court-ordered community service. It just so happens that we did a huge book weeding project and we have a conference room full of books that need to be de-processed.

Fine, I said, come in and do your community service work here. For once, we actually have work that a community service person could do.

He came in yesterday afternoon as I was leaving. That's still fine, he knows what he's supposed to do and he's an adult and I'm not going to babysit him.

But what the $#%@ did he actually do? One lousy shelf of books? I can whip through an entire cart in the time it took him to do the one shelf.

And he wrote down that he was here an hour and a half? Doing what? Texting his friends? Looking up the value of the books on ebay? Grrrrr

Monday, December 22, 2008

I have gotten two chocolate bars from colleagues at work for Christmas and enjoyed them thoroughly.

But what does it mean when you are given Orbit gum as a gift?

What to read next?

Okay, so it's still 2008, year of non-fiction. So which of these do I want to read first?

Whichever one is on the shelf here at the library, of course....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas thoughts

What a difference a good night's sleep makes.

Last night Iwas NOT in the Christmas mood. In fact, I was angry, annoyed and (probably most of all) tired.

With predictions of a horrible snowstorm coming, the kids' band concert was postponed AGAIN -- but it wasn't even snowing yet. I was looking forward to the concert, but now I just want to get it over with. Now it will be January 7.

Instead we went to the mall. Michelle needed to buy a present for a birthday party next week and Hannah wanted to buy presents for a couple of her friends at school. It was kind of annoying shopping with a 13-year old who didn't know what she wanted to buy. At least I found a Tinkerbell lantern kit that Michelle wanted -- at a fraction of the normal price. So that was good.

But walking around the mall made me think about money. And so I started worrying about money. Which is nothing new, but it irritates me because I have no reason to worry about money and yet I do.

It still hadn't started snowing at 8:00 when we went home so I started to think that the weather forecasters were off their rockers.

I still had to put gift tags on the items I had bought for my colleagues at work, and I hadn't even printed out my Christmas letter, which is lame this year. Dave tried to get me to sit down and watch The Office but I groused to him that I had too much to do.

I printed out the letters and got all the Christmas cards ready. But I did not do it joyfully, which bothers me. Christmas cards should bring joy. I hope that the recipients don't sense the anger I was feeling as I put the cards together.

Then I was angry about the clutter that Christmas inevitably brings. While I love Christmas decorations, I always feel like everything in my home has been displaced.

But this morning is different. It's a snow day. And even the library is closed! (Hallelujah!) And I got to sleep in! Well, I got three phone calls at 5:30 am, but those were telling me that there was no school/no work today. So I enjoyed two more hours of blissful, blissful sleep.

And now, I'm enjoying a lovely fried egg and a buttery slice of sammie bread, catching up on Colbert and blogging. There's only the tiniest bit of concern that I will get a phone call from my boss at 11:00 am saying that we're going to open the library at 1:00 pm or something.
But I think I can deal with that because the Christmas cards are done, the Christmas shopping is done and now I can concentrate on opening my heart to receive the Christ Child who comes to bring peace, joy and love.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One less thing to worry about

Tomorrow is the last school day before Christmas break. It occurred to me that I need to get out the gift certificates I picked up for the teachers so that the kids can take them to school tomorrow. But I don't have any Christmas cards! I actually cut my usual list of Christmas cards down because I didn't have enough cards this year. (Guess I could be lame and just send a letter with no card, like some people.)

Of course I have supplies to make more Christmas cards. What I don't have is time. Tuesday night's band concert has been changed to tonight and heaven knows what's going to happen with the weather.

Anyway -- crisis averted! I was rummaging through my desk at work and ran across some Christmas cards I had made last year. W00t!

Top Chef last night

Okay, got just a couple of minutes before heading off to a meeting.

Initial reaction: bummer.

I liked the challenges, I liked Martha Stewart, but hated the other guest judges and I was ticked off that they didn't send someone home.

Oh, sure it was heartwarming to see everyone pitch in and help the chefs whose food got ruined, but ultimately this is a competition and at the end of every episode, someone is supposed to go.

Yeah, I know they've had other "do-over" sort of episodes, but I feel cheated. So the food wasn't great, someone still had to have the worst. And frankly, you know that Eugene and Melissa aren't going to last a whole lot longer.

Ultimately I think everyone is too likeable this season. There's no bad guy -- no Hung, no Marcel for the drama. Eugene's getting a little cocky, but he doesn't have the culinary skills that Hung and Marcel had. Much as I liked him before, it's time for him to go. And Melissa's "I deserve to be here because I _want_ to be here" doesn't endear her to me.

I hope next week they eliminate two chefs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Season's Readings

2008 was the year of non-fiction.

I think the only fiction I read in 2008 was that horrible Breaking Dawn book. So I was just about to declare 2009 as the year of fiction, but then Fast Company published this list:

Fast Company Best business books of 2008

Back of the napkin – Dan Roam

Big switch – Nicholas Carr

Buying in – Rob Walker

Earth : the sequel – Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn

Iconoclast – Gregory Berns

Eyes Open Series – ideo

Pixar touch – David A. Price

Sway – Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

White tiger – Aravind Adiga

X saves the world – Jeff Gordinier

So I'm not entirely interested in all of the above books, but I have just got to read the Pixar one and Gen X ones. And White tiger won the Man Booker prize, so that's a gotta read.

But, can you see me reading a book about global warming? Get real. I'm not sure if I need to read Iconoclast -- about thinking differently. I don't need to read about it, I already do that.

Then Bob Sutton has to go and give a nod to Orbiting the Giant Hairball, so now I have to add that to my "want to read" list, too.

When am I going to find time to read Maxiumum Ride?

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the 12th day of Christmas my schedule gave to me:

12 Days 'til Christmas
11 Trips to Jewel
10 Glurge emails
9 Choir rehearsals
8 Church services
7 Hours of cleaning
6 Loads of laundry
5 Overnight guests
4 Dozen cookies
3 Christmas parties
2 Band concerts
1 purchase from DVC! (Disney Vacation Club)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top Chef spoiler alert!

Warning -- if you haven't watched Top Chef and don't know who was eliminated, then you might want to stop reading now.



Here we go.

First let's talk winners.

Yea for Jeff! Stefan didn't want him to do the sorbet, but everybody loved it. Lesson learned -- stand up for yourself when you know you're right.

Yea for Ariane. Kind of surprised that it wasn't Jamie, but you know what? It's a competition. Take the win. Lesson learned -- if you want to win, make the main component of the dish, not the garnish.

Yea for Carla. I guess. I think she took the high road by not coming right out and saying that Daniel ruined her dish. When I think she really could have. Well, she's safe for one more round. Lesson learned -- stand up for yourself again -- and don't take your eyes off your entree!

Yea for Daniel. For not being a baby and crying when he got the boot. That was pretty short and sweet.

Yea for Eugene? He smokes? And Stefan too? How can you be a great chef AND a smoker? I would think that smoking would ruin your taste buds. Whatever. Eugene. I've been rooting for you, but if you want me to continue to root for you, you have to cook something besides sushi. Your days are numbered.

Why I was late for work

This morning I was driving to work down Wise Road. There was snow on the road, but it had obviously been plowed.

So I'm going along and notice the light up ahead turning yellow. So I tap the brakes and totally start sliding. I don't have ABS, so I start pumping the brakes, but it's clear there's no way I'm stopping for this light.

Thank God (literally!) there was no one in front of me. I'm sliding along, honking my horn in hopes that no one will pull out into the intersection.

Thank God (again!) that they did not. I rolled right through the red light and then proceeded to slow to a much safer speed. So pretty much the rest of the way to work I drove at half they speed I normally would.

I do still like winter though....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Extra extra read all about it!

Well, here's a headline that should help the Tribune with its financial woes:

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrested

All I can say it "I knew it."


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Top Chef update

Once again Leah wins immunity, much to my chagrin. She's my new Lisa I think.

I don't know who is the new Marcel/Hung. On the one hand, there are the Europeans. Fabio and Stefan are pretty confident, but they aren't as annoying as Marcel.

I enjoyed the challenge. I thought it was a good one. Interesting how Tom pointed out that a number of the chefs claimed not to want to do TV. And here they are on a TV show. I was glad to see Jeff and Ariane on top for a change. I felt a little bad for Jamie, but not too bad. It all just goes to show that you can be on the bottom one week and on top of the world the next. Then on the bottom the next.

Anyway, I surely didn't cry that Alex got sent packing. I knew he wouldn't last long. And not just because of his mind being on his wedding. He just doesn't have what it takes to be Top Chef. And I don't think Melissa is going to last much longer either. At least Gene is still around! Go Gene!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Time to post

Wednesday night was the 3rd-5th graders turn to lead the Advent service. The program was "A King is coming!" The citizens of a town knew that a king was coming but had different ideas about what kind of king it would be. The king of rock and roll? King Tut? King of the jungle?

Of course, the King turned out to be Jesus and only two children of the town were able to remind the citizens about Jesus coming to us at Christmas.

The best part of the whole evening was when the one girl read the Christmas story from Luke 2. She sounded EXACTLY like Linus from a Charlie Brown Christmas. I talked with a couple of parents afterward who were totally in agreement. Then I talked to the girl's father and when I started talking he said "didn't she sound like Linus?" None of us would have been surprised if she had ended her Bible passage by saying "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." It was awesome.

Last night I went out with my sisters in law and my niece and her friend and mother in law. Whatever, it was a girls night out. We went to Cheeseburger in Paradise.

I had intended to go straight from work, but Dave got hung up on a conference call so I had to run all the way home, pick up Hannah from choir, pick up Michelle from piano lessons and spend some time with her trying to convince her not to quit band again.

Guess she had a bad day, musically. She's playing this baritone sax that's really old. It tends to squeak and the band director didn't have time to stop and fix it. Then she wasn't prepared for her piano lesson and so that had her upset as well. So we had tears over all that.

I think she's hit that big trouble spot in piano that all kids hit. Either you work through it (like I did) or you quit (like I let Hannah do). In Hannah's case, I think it was okay, because she has excelled at trumpet. I'm not ready to let Michelle quit piano. I think she likes it more than Hannah ever did, so I think she needs to stick it out for a while longer.

Anyway, that's getting off topic -- wait, did I have a topic?

Tonight I'm working late, as we are having a "weeding party". That's where we pull old items from the shelves that aren't being used in order to make room for new stuff. I'm going to be really tired when we're through. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday....

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Kristi tagged me!
I've stayed up way too late so I'm very tired and punchy, but I don't know when else I will have time to blog for the rest of the week, so here goes. (Please take my responses with a grain of salt....)

Seven things I did before I had a child(ren):
1. Played in a bell choir
2. Directed a bell choir
3. Watched the TV show "Friends"
4. Called in sick to work when I just wanted a "mental health day" off
5. Owned a convertible
6. Counted cross stitch
7. Played cards

Seven things I do now:
1. Play Wii
2. Blog
3. Update my Facebook page
4. Direct a flute choir
5. Have TMJ
6. Read parenting books
7. Worry about my kids

Seven things I would like to do:
1. Travel to New Zealand
2. Spend a day at a spa, getting a massage, manicure, etc. -- the works!
3. Be a public library director
4. Lose weight (wouldn't we all!!)
5. Pay off the mortgage
6. Own a convertible again
7. Work at Disneyworld!

Seven things that attract me to my husband:
1. He gives me foot massages
2. The collective memory of the lives of our children
3. He likes cats
4. He helps the kids with their homework
5. He has a lot of financial know-how
6. He doesn't care that I'm taller than him when I wear dressy shoes
7. He loves Disneyworld even more than I do

Seven favorite foods:
1. Lou Malnati's pizza
2. Diet Coke
3. Baked potatoes
4. Mozzarella sticks
5. Sushi
6. Green beans
7. Cheesecake

Seven things I say most often:
1. What's on the calendar?
2. I'll have to check the calendar.
3. Did you practice your saxophone/trumpet/piano?
4. Hot diggity daffodil!
5. Pwnd!
6. I don't agree with that chord. (This is during Praise Band practice.)
7. What's for dinner?

Seven people I am tagging:
I follow a lot of blogs, but I don't really know any blog authors.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving weekend

It was a very nontraditional Thanksgiving for us this year.

We went to my parents' house Wednesday after I got off work. We were pleasantly surprised how light traffic was getting out of town.

So we got there around 9 pm and the first thing Michelle did was get out the game, Payday. So we played a few rounds before bed.

We went to church Thursday morning at my Mom's neighbor's church. It was a small crowd -- very small. Like less than 30 people small, so when the six of us walked in, it was a big deal. The pastor was very friendly and welcoming, which was nice, but then he made us stand up before the service and introduce ourselves. Not cool.

We went home after that, and that's when I started feeling ill. Like really ill. While everyone else enjoyed turkey, potatoes and green beans, I was lying on the couch sleeping. So the day was pretty much a loss for me.

Dave and Hannah had planned on going shopping Friday morning, but Friday morning Dave was ill and had to take to his bed. So Hannah and I went out together. Bath and Body works had some good deals. We looked around Waldenbooks, but didn't purchase anything. We walked around a few other stores in the mall, but didn't purchase much else. We went to Toys R Us, but the line snaked its way around the store and there wasn't anything there we were willing to stand in line for.

Our last stop was Game Stop. We just can't resist a video game store. The associates were very friendly and I asked if they had any Wii Fits. They had one left! Hooray! I'll take it! I was pretty excited.

The rest of the day was pretty low key. We had brought the Nintendo 64 with us and despite Dave's warnings that it wasn't going to work with my parents' TV, I got it to work just fine. So we played N64, ping pong, Masterpiece and dominoes.

Saturday my parents took the kids to a local children's museum in the morning, but we all met for lunch at Taco John's. No one believed me that it would be better than Taco Bell, but Taco John's rocks socks! And everyone agreed. Saturday night we were all feeling much better and went to visit a librarian friend of mine who moved to my parents' hometown about a year ago. So that was nice.

The snow was coming down pretty hard by Saturday night so we decided to get up nice and early Sunday morning and head home. It was still snowing when we left town, but the further we traveled, the better the roads got. We were home by 1 pm, which left us with the better part of the day to unpack and unwind before getting back to the daily grind on Monday.

Top Chef recap

I'm so glad that Top Chef is back on the air. I really do enjoy it. I stayed up until 12:30 am last night watching last Wednesday's episode.

First off, I'm sure I'm showing my age, but while I do know of the Foo Fighters, I can't say that I can actually name any of their songs. So the celebrity aspect of the show didn't do anything for me. The prize of going to their concert wouldn't be a big deal.

I think they do a Thanksgiving challenge every season. The twist of only microwaves and toaster ovens would have done me in. Guess I'm not very adaptable when it comes to cooking.

I need to say right here that I don't like Leah. I'm not sure why, but I just don't. She did play it safe, picking all the "right" people for her team. Hated the team name. Team Sexy Pants? Ugh.

I'm glad that Ariane redeemed herself by making the superior turkey. I don't think she's going to last long, but I think it's nice that she gets one good acknowledgement before she goes.

You know who I do like? Eugene and Jeff. I'm afraid for Eugene because he doesn't have the training that the other contestants have, but maybe he's a chef savant. He's done some things that the judge have really enjoyed. The makeshift barbeque showed his ability to be creative. I'm rooting for Eugene.

I like Jeff, but for all the wrong reasons. Let's face it, he's cute. Did you notice that in the intro he winks? Yeah, he's the pretty boy and he knows it, but frankly, I don't care. I do like that he stepped up and tried to take the lead for his team. I was surprised that he didn't get asked to pack his knives and leave, because usually the person who takes on the leader role is the one who bears the brunt if things go awry. Then again, he was more an unofficial leader of the team. At any rate, I don't think he'll last too much longer. Good looks will only get you so far. Then again, consider how long Sam and CJ lasted on other seasons. (But Sam really could cook.)

I don't like that the winning team didn't have to face the judges table. While everyone was eating, they had some major criticisms for the team, which they never got to hear. I also didn't like that there was no one "Top Chef" for the episode. The judges should have acknowledged one chef as being the standout for the challenge.

All in all, I of course, enjoyed the show. I may even re-watch it tonight. But "The Closer" is on right now and I believe I shall watch that and blog about my Thanksgiving weekend.

Ironically enough, we just watched Boston Legal where Carl Sack pointed out that people don't give their full attention to television shows while watching them. Yeah. Ever since we got this tablet PC, which we keep in the family room, I'm usually online at the same time the TV is on.

Peace out, dawgs!