Monday, December 21, 2009
There is a science to this. Here's how I do mine:
After getting married, I sent Thank You notes and then Christmas cards to all the folks that generously sent us wedding gifts. After a few years, I weeded that list down to the folks that usually responded to my Christmas cards. Family and friends, of course, remain. Since I've had kids, my Christmas card always includes a picture of the kiddos. So I send some cards to my parents' friends so they can see how Lulu and Granddaddy's Texas Babies are growing and how much Sam looks like Lulu did when she was a little girl.
I always order the custom-printed cards. I have our family name and the year printed on the cards. I have all my addresses in a MS Access database and use this to print address labels each year.
Even though the cards are printed with our family name and date, I ALWAYS personally sign our first names and often pen a short message. On 120+ cards. Each year.
And while I don't talk to many of these folks all year long and current contact may be limited to a rare email and holiday greetings, I savor taking the time to sign the cards and think of each of these people/families that have had an impact on my life. The memories of my heart are re-visited each year when I do my Christmas cards. These cards are never a task to be completed but a treasured recollection of all the people I love as well as relationships and experiences I have to be thankful for.
Though I am not a regular Christmas card letter writer, some years I have included letters. When there is tale to tell, I tell it.
So now that you know how I do it - here's my scoring system on receiving cards. And yes, I have received some form of all of these at some point in time.
You send me a card +1000 points
It is pre-printed and you sign it personally +25 points
It is pre-printed and you do not sign it -25 points
It has a picture of your kids, dogs, or ducks (you know who you are) +50 points
It has a picture of your kids, dogs, or ducks & they are really cute +100 points
It has a picture of your entire family on it +50
It has a picture of your entire family on it, you still look 20 years old & haven't gained a pound -500 points
It is not pre-printed & you sign it +40 points
You write a short note +75 points
You make me a Handmade card +200 points
Your card has sparkles (Bling) on it +50
Card artwork designed by you or your child +100 points
You send me a Christmas letter +25 points
You send me a Christmas letter - it is humorous & informative +50 points
You send me a Christmas letter & you brag about your new car/house & brilliant trust fund kids -100 points (seriously, if you can't tell it like it is, don't tell it at all!)
You send me a Christmas card with your kids in front of the Eiffel Tower BONUS +250 points
You include Cash +1 point for every dollar
I do love Christmas and the mail that goes along with it. It's the one time of year I race the kids to the mailbox.
I love it! Love it! Love it!
I love all the folks I send cards to.
I especially love all of you that send me cards. Particularly the ones where they are homemade, they sparkle, you're funny, your kids are cute, your age shows and you send me money!
Keep 'em coming!
Monday, December 07, 2009
My letter to the General Manager at The Village at Allen about a new policy regarding pictures with the Big Guy (AKA Santa Claus)
December 7, 2009
The Village at Allen
190 E Stacy Rd Ste. 1308
Allen, TX 75002
Dear Ms. GM,
I am the parent of three young children who anxiously look forward to seeing Santa Claus every year. Samantha, 10 has special needs.
Until last year, we visited the Big Guy at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco. When word got out that the Big Guy had moved I scoured the internet until I found him at The Village at Allen. My kids loved going to see the Big Guy last year. The reindeer and children’s village were a huge hit with them. I liked going to The Village at Allen for the shopping. We all looked forward to going back this year.
We arrived an hour before the doors opened to be first in line as Sam cannot tolerate the anxiety of waiting her turn once she sees Santa. My children played with their Grandmother while I waited on queue. As a line quickly formed I thought surely they would open the doors soon. It was very cold and as one might expect in a line to see Santa, there were lots of children and babies waiting in the cold. I was informed the doors opened at 11AM. This policy should be revisited immediately.
We finally got in the door a little before 11AM. As my children were walking up to see Santa, I went to take a candid picture and was quickly informed that no outside pictures were allowed. I was also informed this was a ‘Mall Decision.’ This is the first time in nine years with the Big Guy I could not take my own pictures. I have ALWAYS purchased a photo package as well as taken candid shots of my children talking to Santa Claus. And while the posed, purchased pictures of my children with Santa are my dearest Christmas treasure, I especially cherish capturing the rapport my children have with the Big Guy while telling him their deepest wishes and hearts’ desires.
One year, when Sam was about four, she started to walk away from Santa when she was done. She paused, turned around and looked at Santa. I asked her if she wanted to hug Santa. Before she could even nod her head, the Big Guy opened his arms and Sam ran into them. If I had not taken my own candid shots, I would not have a tangible memento of this gloriously magical moment in my child’s life.
This will likely be the last year two of my children believe in Santa and I feel your business decision has stolen something from us. The awe-inspiring exchange between children and Santa may never happen again for them. And you robbed us of an opportunity to capture it on film with your selfish financial decision to squeeze a few more dollars out of an already strapped public.
I know the Big Guy is big business for you and I can not fault you for wanting to maintain or even increase your revenue. That is your job and I get it. But Christmas is not only about the bottom line. It is also about CHARITY, peace on earth and loving your fellow man. You demonstrate none of these holiday tenets. I am certain there are some families that cannot afford to purchase the picture packages; especially in these tough economic times. On behalf of all parents you are denying the opportunity to film or photograph their children’s experience with the Big Guy, I say shame on you!
I will take my children wherever the Big Guy is next year. I will take them to see him as long as they will allow me to and as long as I can find him. If he is back at The Village at Allen next year, I will go there and I will purchase my photo package. But I will not spend a single penny with The Village at Allen merchants the other 364 days of the year.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I just spent the most incredible weekend with dear friends I have not seen in 20 years. And yes, they are the dearest of friends – even after 20 years of minimal contact.
I’ve told you before about my years at Six Flags Over Georgia. It was an amazing place to work as a teenager. And although Place and Time are an important component of this experience, I recognized this weekend that PEOPLE are the most vital ingredient. Obviously, we cannot go back in time to recreate those years. I have not been back to the park in at least 20 years. The closest I got this visit was driving by it on I-20. But I was immersed in the people and personalities that made it what it was (is) for all of us!
This reunion experience was a curious study in memories, emotions, growth and recollections. (Any sociologist would have had a field day!) Those were some of the best summers of our lives. We literally came of age together – going from gangly, hormonal teenagers to know-it-all young adults. So of course we brought those immortal feelings of youth back with us to this reunion. It was mentioned that back then we were "10 feet tall and bullet proof." But now, as adults, we are forced to see our lives and relationships through a more mature lens. Today we know – as we remembered those no longer with us - that none of us are immortal. I believe this realized lack of immortality gave us a new appreciation for each other.
In spite of the years and distance, we fell back into place together. Just like your favorite, faded, thread-bare concert t-shirt. The crazy over exaggerated feelings of youth washed through us all. The humor, laughter, teasing, arguing, and loving were all present. Still, we had to spend some time putting the teenage angst into the context of (semi-) mature adults. What I discovered is this: These people I believed to be amazing as teenagers ARE amazing adults today.
On a less mature note, I don’t think I got more than eight hours sleep in three nights. It was like no one wanted to go to sleep. We wanted to soak in every minute we had together. As I told some of my Six Flags friends yesterday, I remember crying at the close of every summer when I had to go home to
It is almost impossible to put to words how it felt to look into the familiar faces of adults when the last time I saw them they were the countenance of youth. It was difficult to express to these people without embarrassing myself how much it meant to spend time with them again. As much as I love to be the center of attention, I found myself sitting back this weekend – listening, laughing, and taking it all in.
For the record, there were several folks who were unable to attend. You know who you are. You were not forgotten. I love you too! And YOU were sorely missed.
In looking back over this weekend’s pictures, there are smiles and laughter on all the faces. There was a warmth in that room you would be hard pressed to reproduce anywhere. We were not all the best of buddies back then. Some of us did not even know each other, but the bond of Six Flags Alumni is strong and undeniable.
Simply put, I LOVE these people. The memories of us together – then and now - are imprinted on my heart. I am the woman I am because of the relationships and experiences we share. You make me laugh until my sides ache. You make me cry until my eyes swell shut. You are my past. You are my present.
Thank you for being a part of my life.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of yours.
I am honored.
(except for you, Tom. I still owe you!)
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
I have learned a great deal about me, my life and me living my life in my first 41 years. I know there is much more to be learned. And I look forward to those life lessons.
But right now I have decided that I do know a few things about myself and about life. You are so lucky as to have me share them with you...
I am fiercely independent. In thought and action.
This also translates into the fact that I detest being micromanaged by ANYONE. Tell me what you need, how you envision it done and when you need it. THEN BACK OFF.
If I ask your opinion on something, it is usually as a courtesy. So unless you make an exceptional argument for your cause, I'm gonna do it my way anyway.
I am loyal to a fault. To friends and family
If you are important to me, I got your back! Sometimes to my own detriment.
I hate snakes. Dead. Live. Plastic. Real. ALL.OF.THEM.
I am not an "Animal Person." Before you get all worked up, I do make exceptions for exceptional animals. Have been very attached to quite a few over the years. Just not the Animal Kingdom as a whole.
I believe the absolute VERY best advice I've had the privilege to learn first hand is to surround yourself with quality people. Find people with strong work ethics, high moral standards, intelligence, wit, common sense, and creativity. Seek these people out. Befriend them. They will almost always pull you up and at times even insulate you from the mistakes you would otherwise make.
Another life lesson learned is to seek out people different from you. Whether it be religion, politics, nationality, social caste, education level - whatever you perceive to separate you from them. Draw these folks in and learn about them. Learn from them. Teach them about you. I have always found our similarities are greater than our differences. And at the same time, I expanded my own life's point of reference.
I have learned that, on average, I will come to regret about 50% of the words that come out of my mouth. This realization does not stop me from saying stupid or hurtful things. Thus far I have not figured out how to turn my Insensitive Speaker off, I am just aware that it happens. And wanted you to know that I know.
If you need prescription medication to live a normal life, TAKE IT! If your child needs them - GIVE THEM TO YOUR CHILD. I know many people do not agree with this. Fine. You live your life. My family and I will live ours. I tried alternative methods. I know what works in my house. Doesn't matter what you call the problem. Does not matter how many labels they assign to your 'issues'. Really. It does NOT matter. If there is pharmacology that helps you (or your child) level out and actually enjoy each other and life, then by all means, USE it.
Seek out experts. Do your homework. Ask questions. Be prepared. READ! Plan ahead. And sometimes it really is better to ask forgiveness than permission.
Your children grow so much faster than you could ever imagine. At least mine have. My son, at five, still asks me to pick him up. And I almost always do. Because I never know when it will be the last time he asks me to do so. He asks me to walk him to the end of the driveway to wait for the bus. I always do. Soon he will be too embarrassed to even hug me.
Enjoy every second. They go by way too fast.
Tell people you love them. Tell them specifically the impact they have had on your life. You need to say it and they need to hear it. This is one of the most life-sustaining habits I have. And I should do it more often.
So that's not all I have learned. Thankfully. But it's a start. And some of the most important lessons I can share with anyone bold enough to read this.
What have you learned?
Monday, April 06, 2009
I need for you to go here:
and give my friend from High School, Class of 86, Kim some serious blog love.
She lost her husband last month and is struggling mightily.
Go read about it and love on her for me please.
Pass this on if you can.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
She tells me that her friend 'Suzie' tore her paper doll on the bus.
me - "I am sure it was an accident."
her - "Nope. She did it on purpose. She bullies me on the bus."
me - "Really???!!!"
her - "Yeah - she said I was as stupid as a rock."
me - "seriously????"
her - "Yep."
me - "Did you tell Mr. John?" Mr. John being the bus driver.
her - "No, Suzie lies a lot to get out of trouble."
me - "Did you say anything mean to Suzie?"
her - "No. Never."
me - "Really???? And do you ever lie to get out of trouble?"
her - "Only to you."
now that, I believe....
Sunday, March 29, 2009
But I have noticed a strange phenomenon. I had two really close girlfriends through High School and College. I am still in contact with both of them. The three of us made a pact in high school to graduate virgins. And we did. (at least they say they did.) We've been through a lot together over the years. Good, Bad and Otherwise.
They were the petite, pretty ones growing up. The guys were always crazy about them. I was the observer of their relationships. the confidant and advisor.
sometimes jealous. sometimes not.
now, I am certainly jealous.
I have reconnected with two different men on FB. Each guy dated one of my bestest girlfriends for awhile when we were teenagers.
One of these men told me about one girlfriend, "She has always been my 'What If Girl'?"
The other man said to me this just week about the other girlfriend, "I wonder if she knows she is the only woman I have ever really loved?"
WHAT THE HECK????!!!!!
Where's my guy? I want one. I don't necessarily want him now. I just want to know there is a guy out there that thinks he let the best thing in his life (me) get away.
Is that too much to ask? THEY got one.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Now I know tulips do not grow wild but I could not figure out where she was getting them. I asked her and she told me from the empty lot "over there." She spotted them when she was riding on the bus. And knows that tulips are her mother's most favorite flower.
It was sweet, but suspicious at the same time.
So on Sunday, after Savvy had gone to Mississippi, the rest of the kids and I went for a walk. I asked Smith - where is Savvy getting those flowers from. He shows me. Oh Shit.
And while I can understand why it would look like an empty lot to a 7 year old, I KNOW it is the neighbor's land and SHE planted them.
I didn't say anything and we went on about our walk.
On the way back, neighbor woman met me at the end of drive. Super nice lady. We started talking and before she could even bring it up, I asked her if she had planted some tulips?
Yes, in fact, she had. My horror confirmed. My flower bed now contains stolen merchandise.
I apologized profusely. Told her that the child responsible was not present but would be coming to see her soon.
So Savvy doesn't know it but when she gets back from Lulu's, she is taking nice neighbor lady a pot of tulips.
It was an honest mistake. One of kindness and thoughtfulness.
Humiliating, none the less...
And then yesterday, Sam and I at the grocery store. She spies the bulk candy. I tell her No Way! in no uncertain terms. That it is stealing when you take candy and don't pay for it.
I turn my head for two seconds and then next thing I know she has a guilty look on her face and won't meet my eyes.
and this is one of those times You Just Know...
I made her open her mouth and sure enough - full of candy.
Okay. Deep breath. Teaching Moment.
I tell her when I get done at the pharmacy, she is going to the store mgr and tell him she stole his candy - AFTER her mother told her not to.
There is a small voice in the back of my head praying for a mgr with kids who understands the value of a good lesson.
So walking out, I approach the store manager, and tell him my daughter has something to tell him.
Sam is mute.
Raw fear in her eyes.
So I explain to him that I told her not to eat the candy, that it was stealing but she did it anyway.
and I saw the faintest upturn of the corner of his lips and that little voice in my head said "PHEW!"
Sam immediately apologized.
He asked her if she understood that what she did was wrong.
Nods, up and down.
And he tells her that her Mom is trying to teach her right from wrong and she should listen to me.
(I love this guy now!)
I ask her if there is anything else she wants to tell him?
She tells him she will never do it again.
And I believe her!
Did I ever tell you about the time she stole the tennis shoes from Nordstoms when she was THREE years old?
it's never dull....
Thursday, March 12, 2009
He said it was too much work.
No, really buying and selling a house is supposed to fun? You don't say.
We had just today made an offer on another house. One we liked very much. 1 acre in the city. Husband's dream shop. Had checked out the schools and whatnot. Were in the process of negotiating terms of our offer when the cancellation came through.
I think we call this back to square one. I HATE this.
HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT!
Have also learned that before we can sell our house to another buyer we have to install a new 'county approved' septic system. Bye Bye $6500.
On the upside, I don't have to pack and move. I guess that's something...
Friday, March 06, 2009
So you can imagine my amusement on Tuesday of this week when I discovered a lump in my right breast. which, I might add, is a small miracle in itself. I could have a Mini Coop in my boobs and not notice it on most days. (If you've ever met my chest, you understand)
So i phoned my OB/GYN Wednesday morning and she worked me in that afternoon.
And can you go in and just have them check your boobies???
NOOOOOO, you gotta have the oil checked too - far and away one of my least favorite activities.
And when did they start asking you to squeeze their fingers? I'm like "Okay, am I squeezing now?"
so she sends me for a diagnostic mammogram. That just means if they find anything with the regular mammogram, they can take you in the next room and do a sonogram right then.
Had my mammys grammed this morning. And Oh Boy was that fun.
Seriously, who wouldn't enjoy having their boobies smashed until they were 16 inches across. I am not kidding - i looked. the glass is calibrated. 16 inches wide 2 inches thick.
And I know why they mush them so tight - so you can't escape and KILL the technician when she tells you to inhale and hold it. Talk about wanting to Reach Out And Touch Someone! You are so relieved when she hits the Release button you forget about wanting to KILL her. Until she hits the SMASH button again. Vicious, nasty cycle.
So she finishes the smashing part and takes me to a private waiting room while the radiologist reads the films. She says that if he sees anything, they will do the sonogram.
So I'm sitting in there mumbling Please Don't Find Anything. Please Don't Find Anything.
And apparently they do. Find something.Cause I am off to the sonogram room.
And the same technician is in there that did my hystosonogram three years ago. She found polyps in my uterus. I take this as a sign.
So she tells me to lay on the bed. I do. and of course previously smashed boobies sag into the armpit. Some women compare their post nursing boobs to sports socks with tennis balls in them. I have stretched out shower caps with cantaloupes in them. And when i lay on my back, the melon is in the pits.
I have to lie on my left side so she can do the sonogram in the right place.
Sonogram shows nothing. Nada!
I show her where the lump is. Still nothing.
I'm like, "what the heck???!!!"
she then tells me that the radiologist on duty ALWAYS has the sonogram done on diagnostic mammograms. Alrighty then. (audible exhale)
So she finds nothing and then tells me she is going to show the results to the radiologist and he will come talk to me.
Okay - some strange guy is going to check out second base now. Not that this has never happened before, but it's been awhile and I wasn't prepared for this today. Seriously, I would have worn lipstick if I'd known boys were invited to the party.
As I am contemplating my lack of cosmetics, Mr. Radiologist walks in. Introduces himself and proceeds to feel me up with the sonogram wand.
I am thinking he just wanted to see the chick welding the 16 inch wide tatas.
He tells me - And I Quote, "You have fantastic breasts
I have been told many things by many men over the years about my breasts; this is a first. I have fantastic breast tissue!?!?!?!?!
He continues to explain that there are four types of breast tissue going from dense to not dense. in the case of a mammogram, not dense is best for seeing foreign objects. So what he was really saying that my boobs are see through - or something like that...
So he tells me I am free to go - no worries. Oh, but do follow up with the Breast Specialist. Seriously, they have breast specialist? I know oh so many men that would LOVE to sign up for that gig.
So girls - go get your girls checked out.
It ain't a lick of fun - but it's good for you!
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Have not told everything I know - primarily because I didn't want to jinx anything or cause undue alarm. That is so not me. Have always been a What You See Is What You Get type gal. And being a WYSIWYG is not always easy or fun. But it's who I am. In my DNA.
So hear goes -
Currently have a contract on our house. Yes, Virginia, we have a BUYER!
We put a bid in on a house that I have been watching for nine months. Did not get that house. Totally bummed.
So now have to find somewhere we like and can move into within six weeks.
Have actually been questioning why we are moving. Is the benefit really there? (and it is - but it's just such a PITA!)
My next door neighbor and dearest of friends had brain surgery last month. Heavy duty 3" hole in the head surgery. And she is making a fantastic recovery - but still scared the living crap out of me.
Found a lump in my breast two days ago. went to the OB/GYN yesterday to have it looked at. And decided it was really sad when the most 'action' I have had in months is getting felt up by the GYN. Anywho, doctor believes it is not malignant but still have to have the mammys grammed and checked out further. JUST what I needed right now. NOT!
There are other things - minor in comparison - but there's more. Don't have the energy to go into all of it now.
And today is the most wonderful Mom in the world's birthday.
Love you Mom! Hope it is a fantabulous day for you.
Lord knows you deserve it!
Your WYSIWYG daughter
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I helped bury a friend this week.
My parents have lived in the same house for going on 33 years. All those many years - they have had the same neighbors. And we have always said they are the best neighbors money CAN'T buy. You could not special order better folks to live next door to for 33 years.
And that's a long time to live in one place. My parents home, the neighborhood and our neighbors are integral components of my Sense of Place. When my spirit goes home, this is where it goes. The houses, the dirt, the trees, and especially the people tie me to who I am. It was disconcerting when Katrina came through and wiped out many of the trees I had played in as a kid.
Losing a person from this place is devastating to my inner compass. I ache for myself, to be sure. But I also ache for his mother, father, sister, step daughter, and bride. Yes, he had been married less than a year to his soul mate when he was taken from us.
DW was five years older than me. We were never best buddies in the secret-telling sense. He pestered the life out of me as only a big brother type can. I remember whacking him with a hairbrush during one of his pester sessions and BREAKING the hair brush. He just laughed at me. (He knew my Mom was going to KILL me.)
But when it came down to brass tacks, DW was the one who beat up the neighborhood bully for bothering me. I knew he loved me - in a aggravating ingratiating way.
We grew up. Went to college, moved away, got married. Me, to a fantastic man. DW, on the other hand, did not have that same fortune in his first marriage.
When I had babies, his Mom and Dad told me they would like to adopt my kids as their own. I was beyond flattered and THRILLED. Due to various circumstances, they believed they would never have biological grandkids. And mine would fit the bill. So they became Momma G and Poppa D. I was in Mississippi when Smith was born and Momma G was in the delivery room with us. She was the one insisting I "Hurry Up!" Apparently her third grandchild was not getting here quick enough...
Poppa D picked Savvy up at daycare that day and brought her to the hospital to meet her new little brother. And when we tell the story of when Brother was born - that's her line, "Poppa D brought me to the hospital!"
Through the years, Momma G and Poppa D kept me updated on DW and where his life was taking him. They were pained over his relationships, his lack of direction for his life, and various other challenges. They never once expressed disappointment in him to me - but always a strong desire for life to be better for him.
DW loved his parents silly. One would be hard pressed to find a bigger Momma's Boy. In the early 90's he gave his mother one of his kidneys without batting an eye.
And simply put - he thought his Daddy walked on water and could do no wrong. I have no doubt there were many years where the only thing that pulled him through was the love and support of his parents.
And I know - at the same time Momma G and Poppa D kept me up on DW - they were telling him of my challenges, missteps and triumphs. At one time I know he was reading this blog to keep up with me. He even told me how much he enjoyed it.
A few years ago, his marriage to the first wife came to an end.
And not long after, I got word that a new woman was on the scene. And Momma G and Poppa D really liked her. I was told she hadn't really wanted to go out with DW at first. (THIS I could understand!) But go out they did and it wasn't long before Cupid had his way with them.
In my life I have seen men (and some women) with untapped potential wandering aimlessly through life until they met the right person. And that right person doesn't necessarily make the lost wanderer a better person, but serves as the catalyst for bringing out the best in them.
And this is how it was for DW and J. He was always kind, gentle, funny, charming (choke), and brilliant. But he was the wanderer. Lost in his life without serious purpose or a real sense of direction. Falling in love with J gave him purpose, direction and a reason to be the man he was predestined to be.
But we will never know how this love story should have ended.
In January of 2008, he went for his yearly physical.
That was the beginning of the end. The disease he was ultimately diagnosed with has no cure and is very rare.
Realizing that time was precious and nothing is certain, they married in May, 2008.
DW left J on Sunday, January 4, 2009. Before their first wedding anniversary.
I am told his passing was peaceful and he was surrounded by people that loved and adored him. He was aware up to the very end and his last I love you was for his mother. He had previously told J he loved her and did not want to leave her.
I hurt for Momma G, Poppa D and J. For his sister and step daughter too.
It's not natural for a parent to outlive a child.
Or for a bride to bury her groom.
and my sense of place is rattled. altered forever.
I love you DW...
but if you tell anyone, I'LL deny it!