This Was Christmas





Isabelle gets a Christmas treat of her own glass of milk

Carol's tree

Yes, that is Shawn playing with our nephew's army guys
Country Christmas
More country Christmas

At Shawn's parents' place

I had a bit of an oops with the salt shaker






Currently:

Watching>>>
I finally started "Orange is the New Black" on netflix and I'm pretty much addicted to it like meth.  I started yesterday and I'm already five episodes in.

Listening>>>
The Fratellis' Costello Music
I am gearing up to run errands today and I tend to listen to poppy, fast-paced stuff when preparing for the day.

Feeling>>>
Good.  In spite of working the closing shift on Christmas Eve, we had a wonderful holiday and yesterday at work was a really good day and the level of stress around the place had markedly dropped, which is a major plus.  I have today off to run errands (and perhaps shop with some of my gift cards?) and we're taking down the tree.  I love Christmas trees, but I am ready to have my apartment space back to normal, especially since this year's tree is so randomly huge.

Planning>>>
Getting ready for the new year, and I totally vibe on the "fresh start" aspect.  I mean, really, is anything better than a fresh new notebook, a freshly sharpened pencil, newly washed sheets, just-shaved legs, or the deep cleaning that comes with putting away the holiday decor and preparing for a new year?

Working On>>>
Further to planning, I am getting caught back up on everything that took a back seat to preparing for and enjoying the festivities.  That is....blog reading, blog writing, laundry, dusting....yeah.  It's no wonder I have to do a deep clean after putting away Christmas stuff.

Reading>>>
Mostly just the graphic novel "Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime" because that's my bathroom reading at the moment and I've got a lot of other big projects at the moment.







Christmas Memories (2)



So here's the type of nerds we are: our first Christmas together, I saw this plastic ornament of two teddy bears dressed like characters in a Dickins novel ice skating on a vaguely heart-shaped pond and I thought how fun; I'll write a little note on the bottom and our names and the year of our first Christmas and it'll be a cute little funny sentimental thing.

Yeah.  So I put it into a little box and stuck it under our tree.
And then when we went to get into our stockings, I pulled out the exact same ornament - that he had bought and thought "what a cute funny little thing I'll write a note on the bottom and the year of our first Christmas together."
So yeah.

Not All Joy

Christmas is, for the most part, my favorite time of year and has been since I can remember.  After the inevitable freak-out/fiasco over getting the tree to stand up just right, there was the breathless first moments when we got to see it standing free all on it's own before being handed ornaments one by one to be hung carefully with the most precious ones being placed by my mom near the top.  I used to think this was a pride-of-place thing, but looking back, I think it was more a "keeping them out of reach of cats and kids" thing.
And yes, as a kid, I used to take an inordinate amount of pride in my butt-ugly homemade/school project ornaments made out of construction paper, glitter, and glue.  What can I say?  When I was five, I thought the ability to follow a dotted line with scissors made me the shit.

I love Christmas music and pretty much all Christmas food and I love the sense of good cheer and singing and joy and laughter.  I LOVE buying gifts for people.  I freaking LOVE thinking up ideas of what so-and-so would like and wrapping it up and in some cases, I love seeing how they react because I am an awesome gift-giver.  I really enjoy wrapping presents with a cup of cocoa and A Christmas Carol playing in the background.  I even enjoy picking the right color ribbon and putting it on in an interesting way and curling it up because I am a freak.

But there's also some difficulties.
I'm not talking about the make-you-want-to-slit-your-wrists Band Aid song or getting preachy about how we're all celebrating and meanwhile, children are starving and people are homeless.  
This is more generic "my little bubble of the world" type problems.

I'm sad today.
I'm sad because I'm tired; I work retail and Halloween through New Year's is C-R-A-Z-Y busy.  My favorite thing is when you ask a customer "How are you today?" and they're all "I'm tired.  We've been shopping all day."  
Because you know what's more exhausting than shopping all day?  
Waiting on shoppers all day.

I'm sad because I have to work Christmas Eve - and not just work, but I have to work until 7PM and I want to be at my Dad's house by 7PM and that won't happen.

I'm sad because a friend of mine is fighting bone cancer and though he's insanely brave and tough, he's hurting and no one should go through cancer, ever.

I'm sad because I have allowed our friendship to drift into the "bumping into each other" status due to general busy life-ness and not making active effort to go hang out with him more in the past.

I'm sad because while I have so many wonderful memories of my mom, I tend to get a lot of grief attacks this time of year as well.  I will smell the first batch of homemade sugar cookies and the tears start falling without warning.  I will randomly remember a scene from Christmas Comes to Willow Creek and find myself smiling and remember my mom putting on a John Schneider country record and how we'd all sing along while cleaning house and my heart will ache to be able to talk to her while she made a pan of her special macaroni & cheese.  Nothing major.  Just to be able to talk about my day, to hear about the goings-on at her job, her plans for her next knitting project and my thoughts about whatever - anything.

I'm sad because there is never enough time.  
The weeks pass so slowly and the months go by so fast.
I'm sad because there is never enough time in a day and more importantly, there is never enough time in life.


Christmas Memories (1)






1.) This is the ornament Shawn's parents got for his first Christmas, when he was 2 months old.  I love the mouse pajamas.
2.) I can't remember what year this is from, but I'm sure it's written on there somewhere.  I just love it.
3.) Okay....so this ornament is from '77, the year Shawn turned 1. And yes, I'm very aware that this is an ornament of a creepy clown.  Remember - things were different in the '70's.  
1.) Last year, we were preparing for the process of filing for bankruptcy.  We had less than zero dollars and I was looking for cheap, easy crafts to make.  I found this great website with an awesome ornament idea and I tried it....and failed.  This is the "didn't think that entirely through so I'll have to deal with what I have" version that looks like a 2nd grader made it.  Still, we keep it as a reminder.
2.) & 3.) These are from '07 or '08.  I had gotten a package of ornaments as my special gift for finding the pickle (a tradition Miss Carol brought to our family) the year prior.  In a fit of thinking I could craft, I decided to paint simple, festive pictures or words; Peace, Jolly, Merry, Joy, Holly, Believe, a picture of a snowflake or a tree, etc.  I had a big 'ole bag and let everyone choose the one they liked.  The best ones went and these are the leftovers that ALSO look like a 2nd grader made them.  But still, sentiment and all. 
1.) Our newest addition. 2.) This was a gift from my sister.  She and I have really different tastes, but when it comes to gifting, she has always been spot-on knowing what I like.  This is one of my most favorite ornaments. 3.) Bought this in '03, the first time I decided to have my own tree in my bedroom.  I love Hermey and the whole misfit thing and I have a couple of Rudolph character ornaments. 4.) Yes, that is a Yellow peanut M&M dressed as Darth Vader. 5.) Another from my first tree year.  I found this and loved him and the people at Target could not understand why I'd want the penguin who was missing a leg when they could get me "a good one" and I was all "No, I love him! He's a misfit like Hermey and I don't want him to get relegated to the bin just because he's a little special!"  Of course the clerk looked at me like maybe I was a little bit special after this explanation. 6.) No back story.  We saw it at FYE a few years ago and had to have it.  I am on the hunt for a Luigi. I hope you enjoyed the stories of some of my favorite ornaments. More to come. PS - Quick note: My disqus widget kept acting up here; it was all weird.  I do still have it, just not here on my site.  It also recently came to my attention that my status had changed to no-reply, so I fixed THAT, too. So all should be well and normal and basically, I'm back to basic commenting and I'll reply via email if you have the option otherwise here on site.  Thanks for your patience.) 

December Photo Games

Isabelle dreams of meeting her hero, Santa Panther.

This shot was taken at my 2nd childhood home.  I didn't edit anything except adding frost to the edges and rounding the corners.  

A little Christmas double-exposure using the image above and a close up of an ornament.



Holiday Movies to Depress You

So..
I'd like to give a little shout-out to some lesser-known holiday-type movies out there.
First up:

I don't like this movie at all.  The plot involves Sarah Jessica Parker meeting her future in-laws who are all basically unwelcoming self-righteous assholes - meanwhile she is an uptight bitch (as the sister says) who has no sense of humor or sense of graciousness.

Here's the trailer:


You might think, based on this trailer, that it's a fun holiday dramedy and hey, with a cast like that, it can't possibly be bad, right?  So wrong.  It's awful.  It's not a "quirky-meet-family-during-the-holidays" type of movie so much as "how many self-centered unlikable assholes can we put in a house together?" kind of thing. And then of course, at the end, they hit you with (spoiler alert) this.

Yes, that is Katie Holmes. In one of her lesser known roles, she plays the titular (heh heh...titular is a funny word) - April in this independent work about a family making a Thanksgiving road trip to visit their daughter in the city.  This is a really well-done movie with heart, and leans quite heavily into the drama end of the spectrum.  It's definitely a good watch and takes place during Thanksgiving. Possible tearjerker, depending on your sensitivity level. Also? (Spoiler alert): this.




This is the story of Claudia and her family when she goes home for Thanksgiving.  Another dramedy that leans more toward the dramatic end of things, a lot of people really love this movie and how it's honest and real and such.  For me, this isn't a bad movie, it just isn't a good movie, either.  It starts rather slow and after about a half an hour or so starts to pick up a little bit, but still is rather slow-ish, all around.  The story is fine, and if you choose to watch it, when judging the characters, it's important to remember this was made back in '95.  I don't dislike it, but....then again...I have no real enjoyment of it, either.  Kinda like how I feel about artichokes.


Currently:

Listening To:
Matchbox 20's first album, "Yourself or Someone Like You."  At this exact moment, it's on 'Push' which - let's be honest - one of the best songs to come out of the nineties.  I love the line "Don't just stand there/say nice things to me."

Watching:
You know how netflix creates rows based on what you watch?  So my streaming has the categories:
"Feel-Good-Made-For-TV Holiday Movies"
"Creatures, Monsters, and Mutants Movies"
"Cerebral British TV Shows"
"Talking Animal Children and Family Movies"
and finally:
"Gory Supernatural Horror Movies"
So...yeah.  The above is what I watch because I am a grown-up.

Reading:
Nearly done with This Book is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It) by David Wong and I'm loving every page.  It is AWESOME.  Look for my review when I'm finished.

Feeling:
Exhausted/excited/nervous/stressed/lazy/emotional.
Here's the scoop: about two weeks ago, I got a promotion at work.  I love the new job and the perks that come with it - more hours, better pay, and as of February, I will be eligible for medical insurance and won't have to go through the whole "marketplace" bullshit. However, with the promotion of course comes lots of learning and longer hours and schedule changes and such.  I'm happy with the job, but I've been spending my extra down time watching telly or reading instead of blogging.  Now that I'm getting into a groove, I'm starting to get caught back up on blogger stuff.




On Beauty: Thoughts & Confessions

So recently, I was checking in on the blogs I follow and of course one of them had a collection of links, which led me to this blog by Sarah and specifically, her post Beauty and the Pedestal which I think every woman alive can pretty much relate to in one way or another.  I started commenting in reply and the comment became a paragraph and then two and I decided I had more to say than what can be appropriate for the length of a comment.
So these are some of my thoughts. First off,

Some Confessions:
  • I don't post many pictures of myself here on my own blog or on facebook or instagram for the specific reason that I hate how I look.  When I do, I try to edit them with overlays or whatever to hide specific problems, e.g., my arms look particularly fat in that pose or something.
  • Truth: if I was still at my thinnest, I probably wouldn't have as much of a problem posting a few more pics.  
  • I KNOW I am my own worst critic.  Knowing I'm hard on myself doesn't stop me from being so. 
  • I'm kind of neurotic and vain for someone who prefers natural beauty.  That is, I am constantly obsessing over trying to find a super-great shampoo/conditioner combination to give me the hair I want, but I am unwilling to spend an extra twenty minutes to iron it.
 I generally prefer a more natural look (because I'm lazy and also hate the feeling of too much product on my face/hair) but I can't help but think this is how I "should" be (because this is what people/men/society/whatever likes.

Check these out:

^Sometimes I wish I looked like this girl.  Then again, I'm incredibly lazy and damn, I counted 'em and including tools, she uses 21 products (I counted mascara twice since she uses a 2-stepper).  But dude, I counted mine and felt woefully inadequate.  Including brushes/tools, I use:
wait for it....

......five.

Fucking five.  Six if I'm feeling fancy.
And this is just make-up; it doesn't include things like moisturizer, but it does tell me that I fail at beauty.

***I'd like to make a note that I have no idea who this girl is, I just stumbled upon her videos one day and some of her hair tips are actually helpful and I actually think she's gorgeous even before she does anything to her face.***

***Also: I think it's important to note the time it takes to do these things and also money.  The MAC Pro Longwear Foundation she uses?  It's about $30.00/bottle.  And the Kabuki brush she uses to apply it?  Right around $25.  Shit is not cheap.***
_________________________________________________________________

So...what about beauty?  As a society, we DO hold it up on a pedestal and don't even deny it.  On an individual basis, we are intelligent creatures and (most of us) don't honestly value physical beauty as part of our desert-island-survival kit.  We have logic and reason and know that having long, shiny, swinging hair doesn't make a good person.  But we all WANT shiny, swinging hair and it's what we desire that is peddled in advertisements everywhere.  That's how economy works: find something people want and convince them that if they buy your product, they will have it.
Problems arise when physical beauty becomes a focus of reverence, and we all know this, yet except for like, maybe two people alive, we all struggle with the whole beauty issue.

Some Random Notes:
  • So we're all aware of (I hope) the whole "how-women-professionals-are-portrayed-in-movies-and-TV" thing.  I mean, who hasn't made fun of how fabulous every single TV doctor somehow manages to look?  For my part, I lost my shit with laughter when I attempted to watch a few episodes of CSI: Miami - and apparently I'm not the only one who questioned the appearance of their female stars and the whole flowing-hair-dangling-into-crime-scenes/super-unprofessional-cleavage-alert thing.  And yet...
  • When T2 came out back in the day, Linda Hamilton took a ton of flack for her appearance in the movie, despite it being the most realistic.  Because she's Sarah Connor and she doesn't give a shit about lipstick or smoothing hair serum.  She cares about making her body into a weapon to help prepare her son for when the end of the world shit hits the fan.  So....she gets bashed for not being attractive enough, but if she was wearing blush and sporting perfect honey-blonde highlights, we'd laugh at how stupid it looks for that role.  Nice.
  • Tabloids love celebrities who have any kind of weight issue, no matter what.  If they are skinny, they have an eating disorder and they show pictures of skin hung over skeletons wearing bikinis.  But the minute they gain a little bit of weight, what we suddenly see is photos of so-and-so "pigging out" by eating a cheeseburger and fries and their "battle with fat."  Christina Aguilera was super skinny and people screamed eating disorder.  She gained weight and people ripped her to shreds calling her a fat cow.  She lost some weight and suddenly she was revered again for being sexy and super trim.  Oy.  Can't win.  Also: nice to know the most important thing about the singer is what she weighs.

So...what's up?  What do we do?  There are a lot of questions and ideas.  Some people suggest beauty not be a focus at all, but I don't really think that's realistic.  Remember the whole hoop-la over the women of Mensa posing for Playboy? Okay, maybe not, since it was back in '85.  But it still caused a lot of uproar.  Also, there was this:
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19851001&id=vPQLAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9lkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6584,142864


GRRRR.
(Yes, they have the right, blah-blah-blah.  Point is, being attractive and normal and also a genius isn't enough - it's important to prove that smart women can be sexy, too!)

Sarah wrote in her post that she feels like the key is in balance.  I agree with this.  I do agree with giving girls strong and intelligent role models, and there is nothing wrong with being pretty.  Even Elizabeth Bennett wasn't exactly dog-tacular.
The trouble comes when we get statements like this:
  • (When smoking inside a non-smoking workplace and someone told her to put it out) - "Hey, I'm cute.  I can do whatever I want."
  • (Waves hand up and down her body, wearing a belly shirt and low-riders.)  "You see this?  I get what I want."
^^^It is that attitude above that is why women end up hating each other.^^^

Some More Confessions:
  • When I see women in magazines, especially things like Victoria's Secret, I can't help but compare myself to them and feel horrible, even though I know and also can clearly SEE the photoshopping, still, something inside me says: "this is how you are supposed to look.  You are ugly."
  • In my (adult) life, no man has ever said he thinks I'm attractive, cute, pretty, or anything - except for Shawn.  That's pathetic.  It's also pathetic that I'm even aware of that particular stat about my life.  It's also okay, because Shawn thinks I'm cute no matter what I look like.  (He's a freak.)  But seriously, fuck flowers and jewelry - sincere compliments are where it's at (it's possible I'm alone in this, however.  I know plenty of women who wish their men would buy them more jewelry.)
There is no easy answer.  What I believe is that when it comes to teaching girls about beauty, we need to let them know everyone is beautiful in some way, that life is valuable, we need to tell little girls they are pretty but that its not how straight her hair is but how she treats others that matters.  We need to encourage young girls to play with Barbie and sure, listen to Katy Perry if that's what they like, but to also do their math, and to have compassion and to work hard and that their value doesn't come from how much skin they show or what they look like.


        


    Reality Vs. Me: Exercise Videos

    So...when I do exercise videos, this is how the people on the screen look:


    "Look at us; we're coordinated and good-looking.
    Also?  Our hair is awesome and our clothes are really cool.




    And then there's me, trying to follow along:

    Shawn's Birthday

    So, circa 1978/'79, Shawn was two years old and his younger brother was nearly one.  And actually, this picture pretty much captures both of their personalities rather well.


    On October 28, we celebrated Shawn's 37th with a low-key Enjoy-Autumn day.
    When he got home from work (a little early - 6:30AM) - I made his cake and then fixed a big french toast breakfast for the three of us, as french toast is his favorite.
    Then it was sleepy time for a while.

    Then we got up and had a nice latte and headed to our favorite farm market for some Fall Fun.

    It was one of those super-bright, brilliant, crisp and chilly Autumn days with the blowing wind and the smell of leaves in the air and the sun shining.  

    A bit fuzzy, but perfect pumpkin doughnuts with cinnamon sugar dusting.  So-so-so good! 

    Heading toward the corn maze.  I didn't edit these pictures - that's how brilliant blue and clear the sky really was that day. 
     And it was windy and my hair kept flying in my face. 
     I love seeing the sheep.  They just stare at you all unimpressed while chewing their hay and thinking "I am smarter than you."
    I used the photo on the left and turned it into the crappy meme on the right, laughing like a jack-ass the whole time because when I get over-tired and hopped up on sugar, this is the kind of thing I find amusing. 

    Running chicken.
    (I had one of a hen hanging out in the big tree, but it didn't come out very well.) 
    I bought carrots, onions, and potatoes for the stew I'm making tomorrow (actually today, now).
    We didn't get hot cider this year as we'd both just finished our lattes from the coffee shop, but we did get a 1/2 gallon of Honeycrisp cider - it's so delicious. 
     
     Heading out, last shot. 

    After that we drove around in the downtown neighborhoods and admired all the houses and Halloween decorations, then went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for an alarm clock and I got overly excited seeing all the Christmas stuff.  Because I kind of have no self control about how excited I get for Christmas.  And finally, we went to dinner and he got a candle in his dessert: 
    It was french toast (I told you it's his favorite) bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and caramel.

    Our waiter was really awesome and nobody sang (awesome!).  We hit Target to get some necessities (because I consider a new pair of tweezers when the old ones are dull a definite necessity, okay?) and then headed home.  And of course, we were too stuffed to even think about having any of the pumpkin-spice cake I'd made him that morning, so we had it for breakfast the next day.  Score ten points for cake for breakfast.
    Oh, did I not mention that between the doughnuts and the cake and the cider and the birthday dinner out that my diet has not even been close to healthy this past weekend?  Yeah.  Enjoyed every minute of it. 






    Movies From Back in the Day: Adult Horror Films Viewed as a Kid

    Of course I am going to be doing a horror movie post for October!
    There have been plenty of movies that have scared me over the years, but this collection is "adult audience" (not camp or satire or kid's horror) genuine horror movies that I saw before hitting puberty, so they had a particularly strong impact on me.

    1.) JAWS



















    So, the first time I saw this movie was shortly after I turned 5 - yes, FIVE.  The scene that upset me the most was this one:



    I woke up drenched in sweat and screaming my lungs out having nightmares of this scene.  I ended up sleeping on the couch for a week before I finally stopped dreaming about being eaten by a giant shark.
    Awesome.

    2.) Flatliners



















    My mom loved this movie and this was a favorite to watch on rainy days while sat in her favorite chair knitting something.



    3.) Hellraiser
















    To this day, the cenobites are some of the scariest creatures ever.  If you're wondering "what the hell was that girl doing watching such a movie when she was 9 years old?" - well, now so am I, actually.  But hey.







    Chucky doesn't need batteries! Was there anything creepier than this in 1988?  Not for me there wasn't.  Especially with my brother running around with his damn "My Buddy" doll.  Oy. 
    The trauma of childhood.

    What 'grown-up' movies scared the crap out of you?




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