Monday, December 22, 2008

Because we don't have the sense we were born with

Conversation this morning:

Me: The vet appointment went great. Samson is over two pounds now. The vet says all the puppies got snapped up pretty quickly. There's only one left and she might go get him if he doesn't get adopted before Christmas.

The Scientist: There's still one left? Which one?

M: The one I almost brought home. The big one.

TS: Well, that SUCKS. His brothers, sisters and his mother have all been adopted and he's still sitting there, three weeks later?!

M: Yup. She thinks it's because he's so much bigger than the rest and just got overlooked for not being tiny and cute. But, he is cute. Just not as tiny.

TS: Well, this isn't worth a damn. I'm going to shower and put my contacts in. We're going to get him. Call who needs to be called and tell them we'll be there in 30.

And we were.

Samson and Jonah seem to be adjusting well to being back together. Their new matching stockings are hanging on the fireplace and they are loving every second of beating each other up. Typical boys. Like we need more testosterone around here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thought for the day

It really doesn't much matter what you wear if your shoes are patent leather, rust and brown leopard spotted ballet flats. You can have on all manner of crap and get away with it if you're going to finish the outfit off with that sort of cuteness.

Which is why I bought them. At the Ann Taylor outlet. On major sale. Major...

Monday, December 15, 2008


Thanks, Di, for the SOS reply. I have you on speed dial!!
I'm currently sipping gingerale and feeling as though disaster may be averted. No one has thrown up in 18 hours. Everyone is eating dinner and at least mildly hungry. Fingers are crossed...

A HUGE pointsetta plant arrived today from the vet's office with a sympathy card attached. You don't get customer service like that very often.

Say It Isn't So

Fact 1 (F1)- The Scientist left this morning and will be gone until Friday

F2- Red Fish threw up Saturday.

F3- I mistakenly chalked F2 up to too much orange juice.

F4- One Fish threw up several times last night.

F5- Turns out, it wasn't the OJ.

F6- I'm going dooooooooown. And the liferaft appears to be on a boat himself in the middle of the ocean.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

RIP Hooper

Our old friend is gone. Courage sucks but somehow we managed to summon enough of it last night to give one last gift to our dear friend. We debated and agonized and cried and planned and looked for any way out. There was none. The Scientist said that Hoop D would tell him. By the time he got home from work yesterday, we both knew that he was doing just that in any way he could. He had stopped walking the day before and never regained either the ability or desire. His eyes pleaded with us and apologized to us and we knew we owed him something we just didn't want to give.

We loved on him and rubbed all over him and lay on the floor with him in the office. He was much more calm and peaceful than we were. I tried in vain to summon whatever I had so that his last memory of me wouldn't be anxiety and grief. He looked at me with glassy eyes, as if to say, "I did a good job, didn't I?" Oh, yes, dear friend, you did.

In the end, he went to sleep in our arms and seemed to breath one final sigh of relief and thanks.
No regrets. No guilt. Just grief, and heaps of it.

Somewhere, right about now, my Rosie Posie isn't believing her eyes or her dumb luck. She is probably demanding to speak to the management and is hissing, "How'd YOU get in here?!" Keep it civil until we get there, guys. We'll be the ones carrying the fribee and the tennis ball. See you then....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Call David Letterman

There is a church I pass every day of my life (several times each day, actually). The sign out front in big huge, bold letters says:

As longest their is testing there will be prayer in school.

I'm well aware of where I live and the educational challenges that come with the territory. But honestly! Hasn't a single member pointed this out (perhaps someone who passed high school freshman English?). The sign has been up at least a week. I might call tomorrow. If they are having trouble attracting visitors to their services, I might be able to be of assistance.

I'm not kidding. You can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Smoke Alarm Theory

Stop going to the mailbox. My Christmas card isn't coming.

Mostly, this is because of my Smoke Alarm Theory. I believe that the only reason we do Christmas cards is that we need a time during the year when we know we'll finally sit down and catch up with everyone. We send an updated picture, dash of a quick note or agonize over an extremely censored Christmas letter. Just like replacing the battery in the smoke detectors when you change your clocks twice a year. Is there something magical about the batteries if you remember to do it when the clocks change instead of some other time? Of course not. You're just supposed to do it when the clocks change so that you'll remember.

In the same way, there is nothing more wonderful about getting a Christmas letter than, say, an Easter letter. Or a Happy New Year letter. Or, as the case may be in this household, a Mardi Gras letter. We just do holiday letters so that 1) people will know how much we are wishing them a happy holiday and 2) we will make sure to at least touch base with our not-so-nearest and possibly dearest once a year.

And who the heck decided that the best time to do this was during the all-time busiest season of the year, for crying out loud?!

So, as of right now, I'm officially wishing everyone a VERY, VERY Merry Christmas. There. That's done. No one needs to wonder any more whether I wish they will have a good holiday season. I do. Desperately.

I'm also thinking that you would feel pretty bad if you knew that the bajillion of hours I will spend trying to get the fishies to take a decent Christmas picture, writing the letter, hunting down the envelopes and buying a stamp to send your letter took time away from my children, huh? It could also take precious time away from my wine-in-front-of-the-Christmas-tree-time, too, but that is a minor detail. Cards are stressful and I defy you to tell me differently. What we need during this season is LESS STRESSFUL activities and I'm starting the trend NOW.

I am a big fan of the catching up once a year. That is important. So, I am transferring this card-sending to Mardi Gras this year. Mardi Gras is a big ol' festival of parades and ridiculously needless days off from school with nothing to do and I figure that this is The Perfect time to send cards. Besides nothing says original like a holiday card featuring the Fishies in jester caps and beads, now does it?

You can start waiting by the mailbox again in February. But take a break until then. It will be worth the wait. Promise.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Tale of a Tree

Here's my favorite Christmas decoration this year and here's the story behind it:

Christmas 1998. The Scientist and I were engaged and were excited to be spending our first Christmas together. With a great deal of trepidation, I agreed to spend Christmas with his family. It wasn't that I didn't want to. We had agreed that we would switch off years with our families for holidays and there was no reason not to start with his. I even liked his family well enough but really didn't know them that well since they lived two states away. I had only been in the same room with his mother a handful of times. I had also never spent a holiday away from my family.

The other rub was a big one. The Scientist's nephew (soon to be mine too) was three and in the winter of 1998 was fighting for his life. He had an extremely aggressive form of childhood cancer and had been given a 30% chance of surviving. All my interactions with the family up to this point had been (understandably) against the backdrop of The Cancer. Although it wasn't said aloud, we knew that we were being strongly encouraged to spend the holiday there because this might be the last one he'd have. I wish I could tell you that I was gracious enough and mature enough and big enough to waltz into this situation knowing exactly what to do, but I can't. I was 25 and I was scared to death.

A week before we were to depart for Virginia, another rub entered the mix. My seemingly very healthy and vibrant maternal grandmother had a stroke. My mother, father and sister had planned to spend the holiday with my other grandparents. My paternal grandfather had Alzheimers and my grandmother needed all the help she could get. I was putting on my big girl panties and dealing with the fact that everyone would be there but me. But, with her mother's stroke, my mother changed her Christmas plan and headed north to be with her ailing mother and her siblings for Christmas. She had no choice. My grandmother was hospitalized and her rehabilitation and housing after she was released had to be decided. If she made it out of the hospital at all.

I cried daily in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I have already admitted that I wasn't nearly as gracious or mature as I would have liked to be, so I might as well go ahead and admit that as much as I had already grown to love my nephew, I was just the tiniest little bit resentful of The Scientist's family for having a crisis that trumped my own personal crisis. I don't care how bad the stroke is or how severe the Alzheimers, chilhood cancer trumps it every time. Even I could see that. But I didn't have to like it. The Scientist understood how much this sucked for me. We were also united in our belief that we should never spend the holidays apart if there was any possible way around it. So, we headed north to Virginia.

After about 10000 hours and one icestorm later (we took turns using a screwdriver to chip the ice off the headlights) we arrived in Virginia. Knowing what I know now, there was nothing at all unusual about the room I was assigned to sleep in. But, up until this point in my life, I had never seen such hospitality or decadence in someone's house and all laid out for a guest. We would have given his mother heart failure if we had assumed to sleep in the same room (not officially married yet and all). My room was exactly what I would have dreamed of. Feather pillows (and zillions of them). Oodles of fine quality bedding, all piled up and waiting to be snuggled under. Soft lighting. A stack of magazines and books by the bed. A bench waiting for my suitcase. And... a little Christmas tree in the corner that was decorated completely with tigers and purple and orange glass balls.

She had me at the Clemson Tree. The base of the little tree was even tiger striped.

With her only grandson at death's door, my mother-in-law had taken the time to put that one little touch into my room that let me know that this room was especially for me and that it mattered that I was there. To say that she never had a good relationship with her own mother-in-law would be the understatement of the year. I "got" that she was really making an effort and was trying so, so hard and that she knew what awful, uncomfortable position I was in. Now, the Scientist did surely go to Clemson but he couldn't give a tiger's behind about having a Christmas tree decorated in tigers and purple. That was something just for me. I look back on that Christmas as the point at which I truly joined his family. It was wonderful and magical and a Christmas custom made for a three year old little boy. And that sort of fun is good for any soul.

A few years later, she asked me if I wanted her to save the Tiger Tree. Duh. I finally got The Tree when we were up there this summer. I think she was amused that I wanted it as much as I did. She would also be horrified if I got all weepy and emotional and huggy on her and told her all of this. So, I kept my mouth shut and just shoved it into the back of the van. It is in our dining room now and is heavy with every single Clemson ornament we own. The original tigers and purple and orange balls are still there too. The Scientist said he can't even tell it's a tree.

My grandmother recovered partially from her stroke. She moved into assisted living and lived there until 2000. She danced (with lots of assistance) at our wedding and laughed into the phone the morning I called her from my hospital bed and told her that her first great-grandchild had been born. She died two months after that. She never saw One Fish in person. But she knew. And that was what was important.

My paternal grandfather passed away in February of 1999. Christmas of 1998 was my sister's last visit with him. His passing gave my paternal grandmother the gift of being able to be at our wedding. Red Fish is named for him.

My nephew beat the odds and I can honestly say that he is the only 13 year old I know who is always a pleasure to be around. He was the ring bearer in our wedding and was so cute that Clemsongirl proposed to him on the spot. He refused by saying, "But, I'm only four!" Now, he drives his parents crazy and has no recollection of the two years that turned his family upside down. Praise God.

And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Christmas Ass

The Scientist is eccentric. And that is to say the least. I would give details, but then you might meet him someday and laugh when you did just remembering what you know and it would be bad and he'd be all mad at me for telling you that he used to always wear two pairs of socks and all sorts of other things. He gets "ahold" of an idea and just can't drop it. Even when good, solid evidence points to the fact that He.Is.Wrong. Or misguided. Or about to make a bad choice. Or is unlike everyone else in the free world. No matter. It's sort of endearing and gives me lots to chuckle at. And he is quite brilliant and very, very funny, so it all sort of evens out.

My mother in law and I have long wondered if this eccentricity trait has been passed on to any of the Fishies. They really get a little from both sides (thanks, Mom). We've started to suspected that Two Fish may be "touched." I got confirmation yesterday. The boy just does things "different," for sure...

The church Christmas pageant is coming up. Each Sunday School class is assigned a number of roles. The preschoolers are all sheep and angels. The 4th and 5th graders are the narrators and so on and so on. Two Fish has been quite concerned about this as there was a rumor that perhaps the preschoolers would be sheep, angels OR shepherds. Because he wasn't feeling the sheep and he sure as hell wasn't feeling the angels. He is sort of an angel- in that he is such a good kid- but he is old enough not to be caught dead in a halo and fairy wings bought from the clearance bin after Halloween. He was really hoping the shepherd rumor was true. It wasn't.

I thought it probably wasn't. I was almost positive and warned him about this. "You're probably going to have to be a sheep," I'd say. "Well, I don't want to be a sheep."

"How about an angel then?"

"No way."

"Well then, you'll probably be a sheep."

Even The Scientist, who bans all things dramatic as a rule, backed me on this. "All your buddies will be sheep too, Bud. I had to do it. Everyone has to do it. Just do it."

"Well, I just hope I'm not a sheep..."

This conversation has repeated several times over the past few weeks. And I knew what was coming. Two Fish had a fuzzy brown "dress" thing with his name on it and might as well be practicing up on his best "baaa." He was going to be a sheep.

So, yesterday, after our usual fruit-basket-turnover/Chinese firedrill method of getting everyone where they needed to be, One Fish and I met Two Fish at the first pageant rehearsal at church. I was prepared. I tried not to meet his eyes when we walked in. The room was packed with half the children in the world, all trying on robes and headpieces and fuzzy get-ups and Two Fish was right in the middle of it.

He did spot me after just a few seconds, though. Almost as though he had been watching for me. And he was... beaming.

"Mom!!!!! I don't have to be a sheep!!!!!"

I was pretty sure this was because he'd already thrown himself onto the floor in a full-blown conniption fit and some sucker had given in and agreed to let him hand out programs and I was going to have to kill them. Before I could ask, a giant greyish brown onesie looking thing was thrust at me along with at baby-bonnet type headdress that had what looked like two huge pink carrots sticking out of the top.


Sure a-damn-nough there was one donkey costume that no one had probably ever agreed to wear in the history of Christmas pageants and my son spied it and begged it for his own. The play director could not have been more pleased that she hadn't even had to beg anyone to wear the giant grey onesie with mule ears for a headpiece- she had someone step up and beg for it. She'd hit the pageant jackpot, if you will.

An hour later, the first run though was in progress. The animals were lined up at the back, waiting to be led in by the older shepherd children. Away in a Manger is being played on the organ and dozens of children sweetly accompany it in song. The shepherds lead in the precious little children, all sweetly muttering, "Baaaaa, baaaaa" as they look for their mothers in the pews.

And Two Fish is bringing up the rear, head held high, bellowing, "EEEEEE-AWWWWWW, EEEEEE-AWWWWWW."

Two Fish is the Christmas ass. And if you think I'm not pulling these pictures out at the rehearsal dinner, you're crazy.