Monday, December 27, 2010

We Interrupt This Holiday Season ...

... to bring you the following important announcement:

On December 23rd, sometime between Noon and 1 p.m., I officially became a future mother-in-law.

That's what happened when this boy:


decided to go to beautiful St. Augustine


with this girl:


We already knew what he had planned, so we weren't surprised when we got a text saying, "I'm engaged!"

I texted back congratulations, and then just to clarify I asked, "Is Kylee engaged too?"

Happily, she was. And they are. 

And that means I'm a future mother-in-law. So far Kylee and I are getting along fine, and I'm really enjoying getting to know her better. If she's not enjoying getting to know me, she's keeping it to herself for now. 

I did feel it best to lay some things out right from the start. So I told her that I promised to never make fun or criticize her housekeeping, mothering or cooking skills--as long as she never criticized mine.

I also told her that if I was ever at her house and I loaded a dish in the dishwasher, put a load of clothes in the dryer, or swept the floor, I did it out of a sincere desire to help, and not out of any mistaken desire to "set things right" or "show her how it's done".

Then I told her she could feel free to do dishes or laundry at my place any time as well.

It's always best to spell out the boundaries right from the start, I think.

We had one other conversation that's made me think we will get along well. We discussed dream cars. Mine is a Hummer. Hers is a Range Rover. Yeah, I think we'll get along fine.

Unless she gets her dream car before I get mine. : )


Congratulations, you two, and welcome to the family, Kylee!



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Procrastinating Hodgepodge

There are so many other things I need to do, but since I don't want to do them right now, I'm sneaking away to do the Hodgepodge. Seven questions and a random thought. How long could it take? Actually considerably longer if you click on the link to go read everyone else's answers. But that's up to you. Just remember to comment on mine since you're already here. After all, I'm using up gift wrapping time, here!

1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions.
Well, I guess I could, but wouldn't you rather have your own? We seem to do something different every year. The one thing Indiana is adamant about is that presents will be opened on Christmas morning and not on Christmas Eve. Even when our children were very small, and would not go to sleep until the wee hours of the morning for all the excitement. Even then we couldn't open presents. No, we had to wait until morning. But I got even. We used to sit up half the night waiting to open presents. Now we sit up half the night after the kids go to bed wrapping presents. Ha! Whose laughing now?

2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include The Bible here)
I've read many books. Some I liked and some I didn't. I can't remember any of them at the moment. (I can barely remember my name at the moment.)

3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture?
We have two cats, Dex and Drizzle, and one dog with an attitude. The cats are allowed on the furniture, but the dog isn't. Officially this is because the cats are smaller and more well-behaved. Unofficially it's because the dog doesn't like me, and because the cats wouldn't be trained, but the dog would. Ha! Whose laughing now?

4. What event from 2010 are you most thankful for?
 I survived it. At least, so far.

5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before.
I lost forty-three pounds. (Isn't it amazing how that comes up in casual conversation?)

6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe?
They've never done anything to me. On the other hand, they've never done anything for me, either. I'm gonna say foe.

7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year?
I'm gonna go with the person that invented the Christmas cookie. And sprinkles.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Sprinkles are happiness in a jar. Open 'em up and let your smiles out!




Monday, December 20, 2010

Take Time To Enjoy the Little Things

Sometimes in all the busyness of the season, the littlest of things can bring you joy. For instance, at the party on Saturday, we had a white elephant gift exchange. You may have heard it called Dirty Santa or Yankee Exchange or some other or-so-witty name. The idea is to bring a grab bag gift. When it's your turn, you can either choose a gift to open, or you can choose to take an already opened gift from someone else. Needless to say, the game is quite boring if everyone plays nice and only opens their own gift.

Also probably needless to say, I've felt it my duty in the past, as hostess of the party, to take someone else's gift--merely in order to stir things up and make the game more interesting. I always felt I was only acting in everyone's best interest, but apparently my husband didn't see it that way. This year he reminded me in advance not to take the nicest gift at the party. Like it's my fault that last year I ended up with the ceramic cookie jar shaped like a present. Or like it's my fault the cookie jar was filled with homemade Christmas cookies. Or like it's my fault that no one else took it away from me when it was their turn. He can't remember something I've told him two minutes after I said it, but for an entire year he can remember that I took the cookie jar. There's something so wrong about that.

So in the interest of being the obedient wife, I agreed not to take the nicest present this year. But just before the party started, I took out my cookie jar from last year and made sure it was shined up and displayed prominently in my kitchen. Sometimes the wordless gesture says it all.

Another small thing that brings me joy at this time of year is a visit to the post office. You may dread it, but not I. Perhaps I don't dread it because I have foresight. Perhaps I don't dread it because I plan ahead.

Perhaps I don't dread it because I'm petty.

I had to mail a package today, five days before Christmas. Most people would rather schedule a root canal. I merely went online and printed out my postage label.

Did you know that if your package already has the label and postage on it you don't have to stand in line?

Twenty minutes before the post office closed, I walked through the doors and faced a line of people that stretched across the entire front of the store. With a gentle clearing of my throat I murmured, "Excuse me," and stepped through the line, headed toward the counter.

I could feel eyes boring into my back as I walked directly up to one of the clerks. As her customer stepped away from the counter, I turned my package so she could see the postage label. The clerk reached out and took the box, adding it to the stack behind her.

I turned and headed back toward the door, having to excuse myself again to squeeze through the same two people who were still standing in front of the door.

I was careful not to make eye contact.

Less than two minutes after arriving at the post office, I was headed out of the parking lot again. Unfortunately, the pleasure I felt had little to do with scratching the errand off my list.

It's those little things that give you joy ...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just In Time For Christmas!

For those of you disturbed by my snarky hodgepodge on Wednesday, I thought you would be reassured to see this:


I found my warm fuzzies!


Just in time for the Christmas party!


They're a little dusty, but that way they'll match everything else in the house.


Can I have a big "awwwww" please?




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Hodgepodge Weather

If you're feeling overwhelmed with holiday stress, then a Hodgepodge break is just what the doctor ordered. What could be more fun than seven somewhat thought-provoking questions and a random thought? So read mine, and then click on the link to find other Hodgepodge mayhem on this cold winter afternoon. But don't forget to leave a comment first because that will warm my freezing Florida heart.

1. What does it mean to have the 'holiday spirit'?
Oh I'm pretty sure that's the overwhelming feeling of panic I feel when I realize I have ten days left until Christmas and I have no baking done, half my shopping left to do, and no Christmas cards addressed yet. And did I mention the party we're having at our house on Saturday? I'm just ho-ho-ho-ing all over the place.


2. What sits atop your tree (s)? Why?
For the last two weeks We've had a star dangling upside down from the top of our tree. It started out right side up, but our kittens thought the tree was a great playground, and they nearly tore the whole thing apart. I would show you, but I can't find the cord to upload the picture. I wonder what those pesky felines did with that?

3. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back?
That would be the last time I dislocated my shoulder.

4. Which of your senses is most sensitive this time of year?
My sense of time running out.

5. What do you have too much of in your kitchen?
Dirty dishes. Whose on the list for washing today, guys?

6. What do you do for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Big meal? Breakfast tradition? Open the cookie tins and have at it?
Meals. Hmmm. Let's add grocery shopping to my to do list in #1.

7. What is the best thing about winter?
The cold weather and the snow ... and the fact that both are usually far, far away from here. Although we're actually freezing to death right now. We haven't seen temperatures in the seventies in at least three or four days. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I know I'm being snarky. But did you really click on my link because you were expecting warm fuzzies?    Those would be in the back of the refrigerator. But I wouldn't eat them if I were you. Oops. Guess I should add cleaning out the fridge to my list on #1 as well! Merry Christmas!




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Deeper Things of Life and Carpet

Disclaimer:  No children were harmed in the writing of this post. As for the husband ...


After reading my last post, I want to assure you that no one had to eat peanut butter and jelly with a straw last week. When I arrived home, most all of the bacon grease had been thoroughly cleaned and my kitchen looked wonderful. Of course, last night my kitchen looked like the aftermath of an explosion, but Thursday night it looked good.

And therein lies the stumbling block to my Christmas wish. I want a clean house for Christmas. I'm not sure that's possible unless we spend Christmas Eve scrubbing, and then Christmas Day not moving. I'm perfectly fine with that, but the rest of the family seems to feel that plan lacks a little in celebrating style. So I've had to compromise a bit. But I think I've come up with a philosophy that helps me achieve my goals. I've summed up this philosophy in a very common phrase.

It's the thought that counts.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, a friend and I were discussing the work I had planned out in order to finish my fall cleaning before the holidays. She commented on how many days were left before Christmas and I agreed that I didn't have much time.

"That's not the point," she argued. "You're never going to be able to keep everything clean all the way up until Christmas. Not with that many boys in the house. It's impossible."

That was true. And it would be discouraging to a lesser individual. But I was quick to point out the one thing that would save me.

My standards of clean are lower than hers.

They have to be. I've finally gotten to the point that, if I've made the effort to clean, then I have to be satisfied with that. In my heart I know it was recently clean. Therefore, at the very least, it's cleaner than it was. So at least whatever dirt that has accumulated is newer dirt. And that has to count for something, right?

I apply that principle to most of my cleaning (as anyone whose been in my house can see) with the exception of the carpet. A couple of times a year I rent one of these and clean my carpets. And believe me, I do a thorough job. To me, clean carpets and upholstery are the final sign that things are deeply clean. I love seeing a broad expanse of carpet free of stains and tracked in dirt, and I really enjoy smelling the freshness of all that cleanliness. For the next month, I notice the clean softness of the carpet every time I walk across it.

If I'm enjoying the clean sensation of carpets for a month, that will last me through Christmas, surely.

So after tackling all my baseboards and air vents this fall, I spent the two days after Thanksgiving cleaning my carpets. I cleaned and re-cleaned. I pretreated. I used the hand tool along the edges. I had the boys bringing me buckets of water and moving furniture out of my way as I went along, determined to clean my carpets better than I ever had before. My husband offered to help, and I let him do part of the family room, but he didn't overlap his rows as much, and he went faster than I wanted him to so I did the rest of our over 3,000 square foot home myself.

Late in the afternoon of the second day, I was finishing up the last of the two bedrooms upstairs. My back ached and I was exhausted, but my carpets looked wonderful. I flipped the machine off and called for more water to finish the last little bit, but no answered. They couldn't hear me because they were running the vacuum downstairs. Indiana had found an incredible Black Friday deal on a Dyson for the church, and he decided to try it out.

I was more than a little aggravated. I had just cleaned all those carpets last night. What was there to vacuum? I found out a short time later when one of the boys ran upstairs to show me the canister.

It was over half full.

My first thought was that he must have been vacuuming outside. There was no way there could still be dirt in my carpets. Especially not that much dirt. I was briefly consoled when they told me it came from the family room.

Well of course. Wasn't that where Indiana had worked the carpet cleaner? Hadn't I told him he needed to go slower? I was vindicated.

At least, I was until they showed me the dirt they vacuumed from the living room. And the hallway. And my bedroom ...

I went downstairs and stared at the carpets that had looked so clean half an hour ago. They looked dingy.  They felt soft the night before, but now they seemed brittle and stiff when I walked on them. My guys took my month of carpet cleanliness enjoyment and sucked it out in less than thirty minutes.

For one wild moment I was tempted to haul the shampooer downstairs and start all over again. But I was out of time, out of weekend and out of cleaner. So I reminded myself that there was less dirt in the carpets than there had been before, and that it was the thought that counts.

I've said it before and I need to face the truth again. I'm no June Cleaver. I need to accept that.

But I'm still tempted to clean the carpets again after the holidays. Maybe if I wear pearls and heels this time ...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All I Want for Christmas

If you were to ask any of my boys what their mom wants for Christmas, they would always tell you the same thing.

 Actually, they'd probably shrug and say "I dunno", but if I were to ask them what they think I want for Christmas, they would know the answer:

A clean house.

They know the answer because I usually ask this when I'm handing out chores that need to be done, of course.

Don't get me wrong. I want presents. Come December 25th, if I have a gleaming house and nothing wrapped for me under the tree, I will not be a happy camper. But surely I'm not the only housewife that enjoys the holiday a little more if her surroundings are clean. I mean, seriously. Isn't it a little easier to enjoy opening your gifts if you know all the toilets are scrubbed and the floors are mopped? How much better to relax knowing that no one can write their name in the dust on the coffee table? I don't think that's too much for any hardworking mother to ask.

So with the holiday season in mind, I end up doing some fall cleaning every year. Some years it's in depth. Some years I feel good if I manage to keep the condemned sign off the front of the house. This year for some reason I became obsessed with air vents and baseboards. They've been neglected for quite some time, and it shows. And that has bothered me for--well, for quite some time.

About five or six years ago, I got one of these for Christmas, and it is absolutely my favorite tool of all time. But you know how it is--once you take care of one dustball or cobweb, you see six more. And once one area got cleaned, another area just looked too dirty, so I had to clean there as well. Before I knew it, I was spending every spare minute (there were surprisingly few of them) this fall scrubbing my house.

The problem is, by the time I cleaned one area, the first area was dirty again. I considered roping rooms off as I cleaned them, but that wasn't always practical. Sure, I could get everyone to stay out of the guest room, but I couldn't convince anyone that we should stay out of the kitchen until Christmas. Especially when Thanksgiving hadn't even come yet.

Don't get me wrong--I would have let them eat. I'm not completely heartless. But no one was enthusiastic about menus that consisted of cold cereal and sandwiches. I don't know what their problem was. I was still letting them use dishes and silverware. Well--plasticware anyway. And don't judge me. I had a very nice set of Oneida flatware--32 place settings to be exact. I was going to loan it to the church for a ladies' luncheon, but I could only find seven forks. Seven. No one seems to know what happened to the other twenty-five. So I think I'm perfectly within my bounds to relegate the boys to the plasticware at the back of the drawer.

When the guys tired of the Cheerios menu, I agreed to occasional hot meals--easy meals--with the stipulation that they clean up after themselves. Clearly I live in a dream world. I have one word for you.

Bacon.

Apparently they could live with cereal and sandwiches if I would only allow them three to four pounds of bacon a day. I'm not willing for the trade off because they're not holding up their end of the bargain. I pulled a knife out of my knife block the other day only to discover the handle was coated with grease. Closer inspection showed grease splatters on the entire block, plus the counter, the cabinets, the microwave and the dog. Harsh words and a demand for cleanliness produced smeared grease on the counter, the cabinets the microwave and the dog.

I've now banned fried foods for the duration of the holidays. And if all that grease isn't cleaned up before I get home from work tonight, they're going to be eating their peanut butter and jelly straight from the jar. With a straw.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sleighbells Ring, Are You Listenin'?

Seven questions and a thought. What could be simpler, right? So take a break from all that holiday hustle and bustle, and link your sleigh up with Joyce from This Side of the Pond for Wednesday's Hodgepodge. Just leave a hodgepodge of comments first, please.

1. Have you ever been on a real sleigh ride? How about the warm weather version - a carriage ride?
One year when I was a child a local outdoor mall had a sleigh complete with a Santa and horses (no reindeer) pulling customers (re: dads and kids waiting for their shopping moms) around the parking lot. There couldn't have been enough snow for a real sleigh, so it must have been a wagon of some sort, but in my nine-year-old mind, it was the ultimate sleigh ride. As for the carriage ride, Indiana Jones took me on one in downtown Chicago when he proposed. That would be the ultimate carriage ride, I think.

2. What's your policy on 'chain mail'...you know, the emails you receive that are often some sort of poem/blessing/good wish that ask you to send it on to 10 or 12 friends? Do you delete without opening, read and trash, read and trash and then worry you won't be blessed/lucky/protected? Do you delete the sender from your contacts or just go ahead and send the love onward?
Truthfully, I always feel a little threatened when someone sends me such wonderful blessings/wishes/poems and then threatens me with horrible things or lack of blessings if I don't immediately annoy 10 or 12 friends by passing the blessing on. Kinda throws cold water on all that love and warmth, doesn't it?

3. Who is your favorite character in any of the Christmas movies and why?
I love Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) in White Christmas. They're such conniving little stinkers they crack me up. And they can dance like nobody's business.

4. Share a favorite quote.
"Now I have to kill someone again." --my son after someone shut off his video game before he had a chance to save.

5. What's your favorite holiday scent?
The smell of pinesol. Hey, I love a clean house for Christmas! Believe me, it's a rare treat around here.

6. Does the Christmas season stress you out? In what way?
I only get stressed out when I realize that I'm not enjoying the holiday season because I'm getting too stressed out.

7. What's the best thing about your life right now?
I actually have one.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
If life is what you make it, then I want mine to be a big cookie with extra chocolate chips. And calories don't count.

And with that extremely pleasant thought I'll leave you to your own Hodgepodge for the day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kylee's Coming to Town

So we're having something new for Christmas this year. Or I guess I should say we're having someone new for Christmas this year. You may remember that I blogged about going to the doctor and starting on a weight loss program (I've lost 40 pounds so far, by the way) waiting for applause. Thank you. because my son told me that he would probably want to get married sometime next year.

Well, Matt's girlfriend, Kylee, is coming to spend Christmas with us this year.

She is a brave girl.

Not only is she spending her first Christmas away from her family, but she is traveling from the frozen north, where she lives, to experience her first Florida Christmas. We're going through a cold snap right now--the temperatures are barely going to stay in the sixties for the next several days, and everyone is bundling up in sweaters and jackets. But we could have eighty degree weather on Christmas Day. You never know.

In addition to the shock of the weather, this girl is willing going to expose herself to the inner workings of the Boyd family for a solid week. It takes a brave soul to do something so foolhardy. Either that, or she's in love.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to having another female in the house. But I'm faced with a few dilemmas of my own. I mean, this could be my future daughter-in-law some day. What kind of a potential future mother-in-law impression do I want to make?

She's going to be staying in my house for a week. Now, Kylee has been here to Florida before. She visited last summer during VBS. She and Matt were interested in each other at the time, but they weren't really a couple. At least, they weren't at the beginning of the week. And they certainly weren't as serious about each other as they are now. And she wasn't actually staying in my house.

So all sorts of details are running through my mind like, what kind of meals should I fix? I need to get a Christmas stocking for her to hang with the others. I need to get the guest room ready. How clean should I have my house?

Yeah, you read it right. How clean? My first instinct was to scrub everything in sight. I also wanted to clean out and organize closets and cabinets and corners that might have been neglected for the better part of--well--a long time. I wanted the house to actually sparkle when she walked through the door.

Well can you see the obvious problems? As much as I would love a sparkly house (merely for my own enjoyment) I'm afraid it would leave an impression straight out of Everybody Loves Raymond. And I am so not going there.

So then I thought maybe I shouldn't fuss at all. You know, just take her right into the family and take on a love-me-love-my-house attitude.

That seems a little cruel. I should probably save that for when one of my boys brings home a girl I don't want in the family.

So I'm back to cleaning again. Just a few things that needed to be done anyway before the holidays. Cleaning carpets. Scrubbing out kitchen cabinets. Nothing major. Except maybe for the guest room closet. And the laundry room. And--

They make a cute couple, don't they? And I am looking forward to her being here. Sixteen days, Kylee!


Of course, with me being me, I did run into a few problems when I attempted all that cleaning. But I can fill you in on that tomorrow.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holly Jolly Hodgepodge


Hello! Looking for some questions? Well, you've come to the right place! Joyce from this side of the pond has seven more questions and space for a random thought. Join up right after you leave a comment. What? You're going to answer seven questions and you can't even leave one comment?

1. What is the most interesting thing you've done in the last year?
You know, I couldn't think of anything interesting that I had done this year, so I looked through my blog posts to refresh my memory. Turns out I couldn't remember anything because I hadn't done much of anything. I'm gonna chalk it up to the fact that Indiana Jones was slowed down by surgery this year, and that normal every day life has a unique flavor around here. And we're just gonna let it go at that.

2. What is your most meaningful family heirloom?
Probably my hips. Thanks, mom.

3. What food festival would you most like to attend? If you're not sure click here to see a list of possibilities.
There are two things necessary for a successful food festival. One, it shouldn't cost anything, and two, I shouldn't have to bring anything other than the ice.

4. Snow...do you love it or is it considered a four letter word where you live?
Snow is a four letter word no matter where you live. S-N-O-W.

5. Can you ski? Do you ski? Are you any good?
I've never skied. I think I could, though. And I think I'd be good at it. Except for that whole grace thing. And the possible broken leg thing. And ... wait a minute--

6. What quality in your spouse or best friend are you most thankful for?
He never gives up at the same time I do.

7. Describe the coziest spot in your home.
Probably curled up on the couch ... in my husband's arms. Yeah, that's a pretty cozy spot.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Why is it that with each passing week I have a harder time filling in this last one?


And with that thought in mind, I'll leave you for another day.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Battlescars

In spite of the fact that I am not a domestic goddess, I can hold my own when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. One would hope that's the case after twenty-four years of practice, anyway. And so it was last Thursday. We had a wonderful turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and all the usual trimmings, including homemade pumpkin pie. I'm no slouch when it comes to the holidays.

In spite of the fact that I can cook a pretty wonderful meal on Thanksgiving, I still freely admit that the kitchen is not where I feel the most at home. It's not where I am in my natural setting. And my wonderful holiday meals are not without their casualties.

This past Thursday the casualty was my thumb. As I was cooking our twenty pound turkey and peeling ten pounds of potatoes and supervising four boys between the ages of sixteen and ten in their various kitchen duties, I got a litte careless with the chopping knife. As if slicing into my thumb wasn't bad enough, I also sliced into the side of my thumbnail.

I still managed to produce a pretty good meal, if I do say so myself, even though I had to do the rest of my work with my bandaged thumb sticking straight up in the air. And it got me out of the dishes.

On the down side, the bandage didn't do me much good three days later, when I had to fill in on the piano for church on Sunday. I thought I managed okay until my husband started publicly thanking me for filling in while our regular piano player as out of town. I normally play the organ, so it's not like it's unusual to see me up there on an instrument. But then he went on to explain how I had sliced my finger open.

Hmm. Clearly I must have been playing rather poorly if he felt an explanation was in order. Well, at least I had an excuse this time.

The piano is not my natural setting either. But I'm beginning to think the emergency room might be. So how was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh Thank Goodness!


Okay, I think by this third week you know the drill. The Wednesday Hodgepodge was started by Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond. Seven random questions (Joyce is great at random) and then an eighth random thought from you. Well, in this case it would be from me because this is my blog. On your blog it would be from you. Should you choose to play. Which you should. After you read my answers and leave a comment of course. So here we go.
1. If you had known what they knew then, would you have boarded the Mayflower?
I don't think I would have had a choice. My husband (Indiana Jones) would have packed up us and our thirteen children (because of the time period, people! and what we didn't know then!) and we would have been off to discover a new world of adventure before we knew it.


2. How far have you traveled on a boat and how do you feel about boats in general?
Although I've never traveled anywhere in particular on a boat, we own a boat and have lots of fun on it. I always kind of wanted to go on a cruise until I heard about that cruise a couple of weeks ago that got stranded for a week without food or adequate facilities. Now I think I'll just fly to whatever exotic destination I have in mind.

3. What traditions have you kept, acquired thru marriage, and/or tossed? If you're single what are some of your family's favorite Thanksgiving traditions?
Cinnamon rolls for breakfast. I made them from scratch when we lived in Uganda, but here we just use Pillsbury. Trust me, we're better for it. : )

4. What time is dinner and how many will be round your table? And what is the one side dish you cannot do without on Thanksgiving day?
Yes, I know it goes against all I believe in to ask for 'just one', but I made up for it by asking three questions here.
I usually aim to have dinner around two. Which means we may eat anywhere between 2:30 and 4:00. And in our family, we could never do without mashed potatoes. I peel ten pounds for Thanksgiving dinner. There usually aren't a lot left over. (Five boys, remember?) This year we will have six around the table. Both Matt and Steph will be gone, and it's just not the same without them.

5. Have you ever used a fire extinguisher? Do tell....
No, just a lot of yelling and screaming and some baking soda.

6. Tell about a situation that caused you dreadful trepidation and feet dragging, only to realize later it was a true blessing.
Sewing costumes last Saturday for our Christmas pageant caused me great turmoil. You can read about it here and here. I'll let you know if it was a blessing. That depends on whether or not Gabriel's costume holds together through the whole pageant. I do have to admit, though, that if it doesn't, it would probably bother him more than it does me.

7. Baked, sweet, mashed, hash browned or french fried...which one's your favorite?
All of the above. (By the way, since I'm on Atkins right now, all of the above is forbidden. I think I gained weight just reading this question. Thanks, Joyce!)

8. Insert your own random thought.
There are only 31 shopping days left until Christmas. No pressure.


Happy Thanksgiving all you fellow Hodgepodgers!




Monday, November 22, 2010

Gabriel's Tailor

Yes, I survived the costume sewing marathon on Saturday.

Barely.

For those that wondered, some of the ladies I was sewing with do occasionally read my blog, although none of them read Friday's post before we met to sew on Saturday. When I mentioned it to them, they were highly amused that I had minored in home economics in college.

Yes, that was their take away value.

Since I hadn't touched my sewing machine in over three years, I decided Friday night that I should get it out and make sure it was in working order. Meaning I should wipe the coating of dust off of it. So I dug it out of the back depths of the closet and opened the case. My first thought?

Why is it pink?

I had a sewing expert advise me when I chose the machine, and if I recall correctly, we got a great deal on a close out. I just hadn't remembered that the front was hot pink. Even more strange, the thread in the machine was hot pink as well. I have absolutely no idea what on earth I could have been sewing that would have required hot pink thread.

At any rate, I decided to do a quick test run so I plugged the machine in, and ran a scrap of material through. It stitched for a couple of moments and then the thread tangled, the needle jammed and the material stuck. It took me several minutes to get it all apart.

Yep. That was the sewing I remembered. Guess I was ready.

I walked in with my machine and a small Rubbermaid container of thread, bobbins, and  miscellaneous sewing stuff. I looked around at various large and custom-made sewing kits, and shoved my little rubbermaid container in a corner.

After cutting out pattern pieces and then actually cutting out some costumes, my moment of truth came. I was told to set up my sewing machine in the corner. While someone helped me plug it in, I frantically tried to remember how to load a bobbin and how to thread the machine. It wasn't coming back to me easily, and after accumulating quite a useless pile of thread, I finally had to ask for help.

Once my machine was up and running, I was assigned the task of sewing a costume for the angel Gabriel. No pressure here. Don't be too impressed--I was just sewing the basic tunic part of the costume. Still, it seemed a little larger in the front than in the back. Had I known I was the one who would have to sew it, I would have paid a little more attention when I was cutting it out.

Fortunately for me, Gabriel's mother is one of the more accomplished seamstresses. She took the costume home for some fittings and--possibly--a little alteration? Fine with me. I certainly don't want the poor angel's costume to come apart at the seams while he's on stage. Who wants that on their conscience for the rest of their life?

So, I showed up and did my duty. And--as I should have known--no one really expected a whole lot out of me in the creativity department anyway. But we did do a lot of laughing. Apparently I really was there for the comedy relief.

Well we all have our calling in life. I'm so glad I spent my weekend fulfilling mine.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Public Shame

I've mentioned before that I'm not a craft person. It's not so much that I don't like crafts. It's more like they don't like me.

I actually minored in Home Ec in college. I figured it was appropriate since I was going for an MRS degree. I took a decorating class, and the project was to create a small decorated item for your future home. Most of the girls did some sort of cross stitch project, but with no ability in that area, I bought a latch hook kit and made a Christmas pillow. But I really didn't understand all of the directions. Unfortunately when I was done, you could still see some of the matting around the edges, and you could even see some of the masking tape the instructions told me to use to bind the edges of the matt. The teacher actually laughed at it and commented that it wasn't much of a project. Maybe not for a college class, but I'm pretty sure it would have been great for fifth grade.

Since I got my MRS degree early, I didn't finish college, so I didn't learn to sew until years later. Even then, it didn't come naturally to me. Most of the time the directions seem to be in another language and I can't make heads or tails out of what they're saying. Once I ended up painstakingly following directions for pinning the pattern together, only to discover that I was pinning the pockets to the knees of the skirt instead of at the waist. The problem was, no matter which way I turned the material I couldn't get the pockets up where they were supposed to go. I finally had to call a friend to come over to my house to help me.

I can crochet, but it took me four years to finish an afghan. And I never did quite get the border done. And by the time I finished it (except for the border) I had changed colors so it didn't go with anything else in the room.

With all this failure in mind, you can imagine how my heart sunk last Sunday night when it was announced that this Saturday, all the ladies were meeting together to sew costumes for the upcoming Christmas pageant. Those that are talented in this area assured the rest of us with comments like, "It's just sheets. We only need to sew straight up and down seams."

But they don't know me. No matter what I do, my thread gets tangled and breaks. My sewing machine needle breaks. My machine refuses to work. I was not made for this type of creativity.

Still, I can't get out of it. My children are all in the pageant. Plus, I'm the pastor's wife. It would be noticeable (to say the least) if I don't show up. I can't seem to get anyone to realize that this project would truly go faster if I weren't there.

When I tried to explain this, one woman pointed out that, if I couldn't do machine sewing, there was also hand sewing that needed to be done. Her tone implied that even an idiot could do that.

Well then perhaps I still qualify.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Second Hodgepodge


And here we are at the second week of the Hodge. Joyce From This Side of the Pond has started the meme Wednesday Hodgepodge. Seven random questions, and then an eighth random thought added by each blogger. The genius lies in the simplicity. So what are you waiting for? Everyone needs a little hodgepodge in their lives! Click on the link and join up.


1. What is the most amazing weather you've ever seen?
Are you kidding me? I live in Florida. Every day is amazing weather. This whole week the weathermen are mostly taping their segments because it's all the same thing:  dry, light breeze, temperatures in the upper seventies. *yawn* Don't hate me too much.

2. What is a sound or noise you love?
In my house? I love the sound of silence.

3. Do you like seafood? What's your favorite seafood dish?
Hushpuppies.

4. What part of your day requires the most patience?
The time between when I want to go to bed and when I actually get to go to bed.

5. What's your favorite shade of blue?
I happen to think I look pretty good in royal blue, but I like azure and cerulean because I like saying azure and cerulean.

6. Do people underestimate you?
Oh absolutely. I've been a lot more stupid than people thought I could possibly be.

7. When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
I don't know. I can't remember the last time I ate a caterpillar.

8. Insert your own random thought here, and remember...I have a wooden spoon and I'm not afraid to use it.  I have wooden spoons too, but when I open the drawer, the one I want is never there.


Okay, before you head over to see Joyce, you have to leave a comment.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just Call Me Tom-Tom

Terry and a couple of the boys left on their Great Hunting Adventure yesterday. It's a long drive from Florida to Michigan, and it's been quite a few years since Terry's been up there. So when I was making a list of things to pick up at the store, I commented that I was going to pick up a nice Atlas for them at Walmart. Have you ever seen the ones that have all of North America broken up by state? They also have the location of every Walmart and Sam's in the States, along with their proximity to the expressway. An extremely valuable tool, if I do say so myself.

Unfortunately, Indiana didn't agree with me. He's never been fond of maps. Plus, as he pointed out, he was basically driving a straight shot up I-75. Sure, it was practically from one end of the interstate to the other, but still, it wasn't like he was going to get lost.

Of course, there was the hour or so of back roads he'd need to travel in order to get to our end of I-75, but he had his GPS unit. I've had less than stellar experiences with GPS units, but he loves his, so I figured he should be all set. At least I did until I kissed him goodbye Sunday afternoon.

After all the good-byes had been said and all the gear loaded, he started to get into the truck and then paused in a very offhand way and asked, "How do I get to 75?"

Turns out Matt had his GPS unit. I fumed, but Indiana assured me he still knew the way to his folks' house, and that he wouldn't have a problem. I waved goodbye and watched as they pulled away, all the while planning what I would do with my free time.

HA!

For the next twenty-four hours or more I got various texts and calls asking things such as:

"Do I take 475 or 75 around Macon?"

"How far is Chattanooga from my folks'?"

"How many miles is Knoxville from my folks'?"

Clearly trying to gauge how far he needed to drive before stopping for the night. I finally started answering his calls in a British accent. I told him if he was going to treat me like a GPS unit, I was going to talk like one. Then I told him I was going to bed so he should turn right and not ask me for any more directions.

The next morning I found a text on my phone when I got out of the shower. Once again he and the boys were asking about distance. I guessed at a number and told them my GPS didn't work in the shower, and I'd have to get back to them later. Shortly after that I got another text asking again. So I texted back and instructed them to read the following message with a British accent:  "I'm sorry. GPS information is not available at this time. Please try again later."

That worked for a while, but eventually they were at it again.

"If I take 23, how many miles will that save me?"

"When I get back on 75, what exit do I need?"

"Do I hit 75 before or after 69?"

You may be wondering why on earth I put up with all this nonsense. But I have a reason. Have you ever seen this commercial?



Oh, yeah! There's some bling in my future, baby! Especially if he plans on a direct route home.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Search of Deodorant

I know I said I would finish this post yesterday because I had no life, but suddenly I had a life, so this post had to wait until today. For those of you who struggled through yesterday because you couldn't function without knowing the end of the story ... well, I apologize that you, too, have no life.

To recap, I had to find a deodorant without anti-perspirant in it. Since not sweating is as important to me as not smelling bad is, I had no deodorant at home without anti-perspirant. So I headed to the store where I discovered that there is no women's deodorant made that doesn't have anti-perspirant in it. Trust me, I checked them all:  the solids, the roll-ons, even the aerosols. (Who knew they even made aerosols any more?)

Of course this made sense to me. What woman in her right mind is going to think, okay, I know I have huge sweat stains under my arms, but I don't stink, so I'm good. Women have more common sense than that. So I reluctantly crossed the aisle and began searching through the men's deodorants. To my surprise, several different brands had a deodorant only choice.

Am I the only one that finds that weird? Generally speaking, who sweats more, men or women? I can almost see a man thinking he's covered as long as there's no odor, but eventually you'd think he'd get the idea that the soaked shirt beneath his arms might be costing him some dates. Not to mention sweat causes odor, and there's only so much one deodorant can do.

Whatever the reason, there was deodorant without anti-perspirant. I just had to choose one. But which one would make me smell the least like a man? Women's fragrances are easy to understand. Deodorants are labeled "powdered" or "lavender". You know what you're getting. There's a specific scent you're looking to achieve. With men, their scents are labeled things like, "classic", "phoenix", "sport", "blast", and "thunder". Who comes up with this stuff? What are they hoping to achieve? If a woman wears a lavender scent, it's because she wants to smell like lavender. What does a guy want to smell like when he wears something called thunder? What does thunder smell like? I've never known a guy to smell like a thunderstorm, so I don't think that's the effect they're going for. I'm thinking the effect is psychological, but I gotta tell you--if you're personality didn't resemble thunder before, I don't think an application of deodorant is going to make a difference.

At any rate, I finally found one scent that was the same for men and women:  fresh. Fresh was fresh, right? Clean-smelling. Gender-neutral. Except, not quite. Turns out even fresh smells different for a man than it does for a woman. But still, it was better than some of the other choices, so I bought my man's deodorant, sans anti-perspirant and headed for home.

So I spent Tuesday smelling fresh like only a man can. Come to think of it, maybe that overly pink office had it uses after all. Perhaps it cuts down on the urge to scratch and spit in public.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's That Smell?

Okay so I went for a mammogram earlier this week. My first, and hopefully my last for quite a while. And as fun as that experience wasn't, that's not what I want to talk about. Well, except to say two things. One, that whole office was way. too. pink. seriously. I'm not overly fond of the color, but a little in moderation is okay. On Tuesday I achieved my pink quota for the entire year 2011. I get why they do it, but it still set my teeth on edge.

The other thing was, as soon as I gave them my name and told them why I was there, they asked if anyone had talked to me about my bill. I told them I'd never been to their facility before. They said yes, but based on my insurance, my deductible, my amount of coverage and the procedures I was having done, I would owe several hundred dollars and they would be glad to collect it as soon as I filled out my paperwork.

And the rest of the visit was about as fun as that.

Anyway, when my doctor's office told me I needed the mammogram, they gave me several sheets of instructions. I am a rule follower, and I always like to do things correctly so I dutifully read everything they gave me.

The first sheet was filled with information on things that might make you think you need to schedule a mammogram. Since they had already told me to get one, this paper kind of seemed like a waste of time. I still kept reading because, if you're going to have medical tests done, there is always prep work to do. Blood glucose test? Fasting from midnight, please. Ultrasound while pregnant? Drink a gallon of water and then let the baby use your bladder as a trampoline for an hour before you come in. When I worked for a proctologist (side note: I should have made sure I knew the definition of all of his titles before I took the job) I was always giving pages of instructions to patients that listed several days worth of really horrible stuff prep work they had to do before tests.

To my relief, I discovered that I was required to do absolutely nothing before my ultrasound on Tuesday. Hooray! A little further reading told me that the day of the mammogram I should refrain from using lotion. Check. Or powder. Check. Or deodorant.

Huh?

Now I don't know about you, but I've never considered deodorant to be optional. Lotion and powder are nice, and it's inconvenient to do without them, but I can if I have to. But deodorant? I'd no sooner go without deodorant than I'd go without my shirt. But there it was in black and white. So what to do?

The only thing that made sense was to reserve the first appointment in the morning. It was a good idea, but they had nothing available until mid-afternoon. Before I could mention it, the woman on the phone told me deodorant was fine, but not to use lotion or powder the day of the test.

Whew! I was very relieved until the day before the test when another woman called to remind me of my appointment. In a no-nonsense tone she informed that I needed to arrive 30 minutes early, and that under no circumstances was I to use lotion that day. Check. Or powder. Check. Or deodorant.

Wait! "The other lady told me I could use deodorant," I protested.

Come to find out, deodorant is actually okay. But the aluminum ingredient in anti-perspirant shows up on the mammogram, so anti-perspirant is a no-no. Well, it may be a no-no, but in central Florida it's still a necessity. But maybe for one day? I decided to be grateful that I needed these tests done after the weather had started turning cooler. And then I headed to the store to get some deodorant without any anti-perspirant in it. But that's here I ran into a whole new set of problems.

Yes, I'm  actually going to do a two-parter about deodorant. This is what happens when you have no life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Something New! And Random!



If you've missed the Random Dozen, and seriously, who hasn't, then you're in for a treat. Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond has decided to start a brand new meme called Random Hodgepodge. Seven random questions, and then you are supposed to contribute your own random thought (G rated, please) for the #8 slot each week. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it? So let's go!

 1. Do you think you're more like your mom or your dad?
Since my dad is mostly bald, I'm glad to say I resemble my mother.

2. Do you like roller coasters?
My life is a roller coaster. Sometimes there's thrills (thanks, Indiana!) and sometimes there's chills. Sometimes I'm screaming and sometimes I just want to throw up.

3. How did you name your blog and do you now wish you'd thought about it maybe another five minutes before you hit publish? Would you change your blog title if it were not a huge pain in the derriere? (French makes everything sound a little nicer doesn't it?)
I named my blog Jill Boyd's Place because, well, I'm Jill Boyd and this is my place. If I thought for five more minutes I might have named after someone else, but that really wouldn't make any sense would it? And although I can sometimes be a pain in the derriere, my blog title isn't. : )

4. What is the best wedding gift you received? Not married? Didn't get any gifts? Then what is the best wedding gift you've given?
Best gift I received was my husband. He still works, he still goes with most of the decor, and I've finally gotten him broken in just the way I like him.

5. What is the one bill you most hate to pay?
The one that's due now.

6. Is the glass half full or half empty?
I think a more important question is, what's in the glass?

7. What is your favorite word? Okay okay. Calm down. How about oneof your favorite words?
Not to be a kiss up or anything, but I actually happen to like the word hodgepodge quite well. Since that answer may show up for many people, I will also go with the word onomatopeia because who wouldn't love a word that's kind of a roller coaster all by itself?

8. For this last one, we are supposed to place our own random thought here. Here's mine:  deodorant is never optional.

Okay, I'll explain that last one tomorrow. In the meantime, go see Joyce from This Side of the Pond and link up for some more Hodgepodgedness. For some reason my computer is not showing me her really cool button, so I don't know if it's showing up on your computer, but you can still click this link down here so you don't miss all the fun. But hey, don't forget to leave a comment first!






Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Say "Cheese!" and "Chili!"

We're updating our directory at church, and we've decided to add pictures of all the families. We're not doing an actual professional pictoral directory, but we've had quite a few new members in the last year, and pictures can really help people start putting names and faces together. One of the ladies at church has a knack with the camera, so she's been taking pictures of families before and after services for the past couple of weeks.

We do not take good family pictures. We never have. No matter how much we try, when we get the finished product, someone's always got a weird look on their face, or no one noticed that a collar is sticking up or some hair is sticking straight out from someone's head. There's so many of us in the shot anyway, that we no longer strive for a photo where everyone is smiling and has their eyes open. We're just looking for a picture where the majority of us look okay. We did take one family shot several years ago that turned out nice. Except for the fact that Terry wasn't feeling well. Come to think of it, he was awfully white in the picture and his eyes were glassy. And he didn't smile so much as he grimaced. Several hours after the photo was taken, he was in the hospital, diagnosed with a relapse of malaria.

Ahh, memories. Like I said, the majority of us looked good in the picture.

With our history in mind, I was not enthusiastic about these pictures. Still, it had to be done. But when our amateur photographer asked me to gather my family together, I did put her off. It was just a few minutes before the morning service, and some of the boys were already in the other building, working in junior church. I was supposed to be at the organ. Not to mention my husband, the pastor, was a little busy. The photographer was disappointed, so I promised her we would take the picture that evening.

I did make sure the boys brought their ties and suitcoats for the evening service, but between various choir, music and Christmas pageant practices, along with the evening service and the church fellowship afterward, I completely forgot about the picture.

Unfortunately, the photographer didn't. She came up to me after the fellowship, and I stared at her in horror. The usual after church past time for the boys is to play outside. They are generally sweat-streaked and dirty thirty seconds after the final amen. In addition, we'd just finished a hot dog and chili fellowship. I had visions of a pastor's family photo decorated with sweat, dirt, ketchup and chili. At one point in the evening I'd sent Joel to the kitchen to clean the whipped cream off the sleeve of his suitcoat. This was going to be a nightmare family picture.

But I had promised.

I grabbed my nearest child and gave him instructions to collect his brothers. They were all to go "wash whatever dirt they could" off of themselves and meet in the auditorium for our picture. In a very short time the boys informed me that they were ready. I knew there was no way they could be presentable in that amount of time, but I refused to care. There was no way to get a decent shot anyway, so why try? I held my head high and marched into the auditorium, where I was positioned in the center of my sweaty boys. I held my breath and forced a smile for the photos.

Several weeks later I got a look at the results:


Yeah, I'm a little surprised myself. Who knew that all we needed for a decent picture was a little sweat and a little ketchup?

Now if I just could have done something about the smell ...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Everything's A Homeschool Lesson

If you've ever been a homeschool mom, or if you've ever talked to one, you might have realized that anything and everything can be turned into a lesson. A burnt out light bulb takes on whole new meaning as the homeschooled kids need to use their deductive reasoning skills to determine where an extra lightbulb might be stored in the house. This exercise would be followed by a trip to the library in order to research the history of the lightbulb, followed by a brief stop at Walmart where you pick up lightbulbs and some craft items in order to do a science project/display using the facts the kids gleaned at the library. A short math lesson as you make change at the register, and then you're done for the day.

That would be some homeschool moms. I don't usually fall into that category. Although I try to find the lessons in life to share with my children, for the most part I stick with the curriculum. However, recently the boys got an unexpected biology lesson from life.

Our kittens, Drizzle and Dex, have turned six months old. It was time to get them spayed and neutered, respectively, and I had Joel and Paul go with me to help take them to the vet. The vet assistant was giving the cats an initial exam, and she decided to start with taking their temperature. In went the thermometer, Drizzle's eyes bulged, and she nearly took a dive off the examining table. I grabbed her and held her down, but apparently just a near proximity to the invasion of privacy made Dex nervous. His eyes bulged too, and he also tried to dive off the table.

"Hold her, Joel," I ordered. When he didn't move, I glanced over and saw him staring in horror at the thermometer sticking out of Drizzle.

"Paul, can you get Dex?" But when I turned to him, his eyes were also bulging at the sight before him.

I think it took the boys longer to recuperate than it did the cats. It didn't help when I informed them later that doctors used to take babies' temperatures the same way. Once again their eyes bulged and they stared at me in horror. "Mom, you didn't ever--"

I assured them that rectal temperatures were old school. Doctors now take temperatures with a scan across the forehead or in the ear.

"In my ear?" I could read Joel's expression. He was envisioning sticking a regular thermometer all the way into the ear. So then I went into an explanation of the thermometer used to take temperatures through the ear. Hey, look at me! I'm a homeschool mom! Whaddya know.

I found it a little harder to explain why Drizzle's surgery required staples and Dex's didn't. Back to the curriculum, I guess.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog ...

... not that you probably noticed, but this blog has been interrupted this week because of revival meetings. I am getting my spiritual batteries recharged, and it has been absolutely wonderful, although my physical batteries are almost completely depleted and my mental batteries are long gone.

I will return next week and if you return too, you will read stories about the corn maze, cat surgeries, singing with gnats, driving tanks, unexpected family photos and other fun stuff.

I should note that none of the above things have to do with the revival meetings. Although maybe some of them are why I needed revival meetings. Maybe. At any rate, I'll see you back here next week!

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