Monthly Archives: December 2014

Reason 5,991,580 Why I Love My Husband

Like many areas around the US right now, Michigan is in the middle of a cold snap. It got down to nine degrees F last night, it’s a generous 13 degrees right now, and our high is predicted only to be 19 degrees.

Last night Dave and I were talking over our plans for today, New Years Eve. We’re making chicken rice burritos but I also needed to fit my shower into the schedule, and I was trying to plan it so that I would have my ‘ears’ on (it makes it easier when we’re cooking together if I can hear him).

“I really dread taking a shower tomorrow,” I sighed. “Normally I would just take it as soon as I wake up, but the bathroom is the coldest room in the house!” I knew with the extra-cold overnight temperature, and the fact that two of the bathroom walls are exterior, it would be even colder than usual. On top of that, the heat register in the bathroom is the furthest one from the furnace and the air that comes out of it is not nearly as warm as the registers in other parts of the house.

“Here’s what happens when I take a shower,” I went on. “I finish up by rinsing the conditioner out of my hair, then turn off the water. While I’m standing there, wet and cold, I put on leave-in conditioner and rake it through. Then I use some kind of curl cream and rake that through. Then I flip my head upside down to finish with some more curl cream, scrunch my hair and put it in a flour sack towel. So I’m standing there for about five minutes, wet and freezing my ass off, while I do all this stuff.” I made a face, shrugged, and said, “Oh well, it is what it is.”

This morning I woke up to a beautiful sunrise. I love looking out the window in our bedroom and seeing all the trees lit up from the sun. Dave was already up. Maxie jumped onto the bed with me and settled in against my hip. I petted her and pointed out the beautiful view, but I think she was more interested in the birds feeding outside on the deck.

Then Dave came into the room, wearing his coat. I waved at him and put on my glasses so I could read his lips. “You’re up and about already!” I marveled.

“Yes! I bought you a heater!”

“What?”

“A little heater like we talked about.” I had jokingly mentioned that it would be great to have a fireplace in the bathroom; then Dave mentioned a small heater, which I had assumed would be too expensive.

You guys. He went out early this morning and bought a little ceramic heater for the bathroom, for less than $20! It works perfectly. He had set it up to test it out, so when I got up he took me into the bathroom for a demonstration. Not only was the room warm, it made the rest of the house feel cold when I walked back out.

We won’t use it all the time, of course – just for showers, mainly. But my gosh, what a massive difference it makes.

Even better, the car started right up this morning. She’s been fine lately but the mornings haven’t been that cold … so now we know she’s fixed. My clever husband did what three car mechanics couldn’t manage to do.

Of course, I’d love him even if he couldn’t fix cars – that’s just one of the many perks of being married to him. But his thoughtful, kind nature – that’s reason #5,991,580 why I love him.

On my 50th birthday - Aug. 28, 2014

On my 50th birthday – Aug. 28, 2014

Happy New Year! See you in 2015!

Pushing the Envelope

This time of year has me thinking resolutions, of course. I’m not a big fanatic about New Year’s resolutions – I think of what I’d like to accomplish and then throughout the year I kind of touch base with myself, see how I’m doing. It’s usually always along a theme of ‘My god, get yourself under control woman!” Stop eating so much and lose weight. Stop spending so much and get your finances in order. That sort of thing.

This is the first year that my weight and my finances aren’t out of control. (And what a relief it is.) I don’t plan to abandon my restraint in those areas – barring a disaster, we will still pay off the credit card balance every month and save as much as we can; I’ll still exercise daily and watch my calories and portion control. But those things are habits now, not like I have to make a big resolution-y effort with them.

I’d love to put ‘buy a house in Michigan’ on my list, but that’s too much out of my control, so saving towards one is the best I can do.

I did think of something, though. I started stepping up my exercise last month, as a way to keep off the holiday pounds and also mix it up a little bit – I think my body was getting used to my usual routine. I haven’t had the best luck with jogging; it usually messes up my knees and I get winded so fast. But I thought I’d pull up the Couch to 5K website again, and follow it using my mini trampoline. I’m almost through week 7 now and I can do it! I have no idea, though, if it will carry through to jogging outside. I won’t know until the weather warms up, because I am definitely not a person who feels the need to run in the rain, snow, or frigid weather.

So I have tentatively resolved to run a real 5K sometime in 2015. Dave says he’ll do it with me. I’m nervous about it, but that’s the point of a resolution, I think … do something that makes you a little bit anxious. At the very least, it’ll be a first for me. And maybe I’ll discover that now I like jogging – real, in-the-outdoors jogging. Wouldn’t that be fine?

Renewal

Last night we diced up the last butternut squash from our 2014 garden. As I brought it up from the basement, I remembered furtively picking it in late September. Because everything was so sudden with our move from Illinois, and because we had no idea we’d be moving that summer to begin with, our garden got short shrift. Actually, if we’d known we’d be moving by July we would not have put in a garden to begin with.

But we did, and we hated to leave it behind. The timing was awkward – a little earlier, and we could have brought some of the plants to Michigan and transplanted them. But it was too late for transplanting, and too early for much harvesting.

Tomatoes!

Tomatoes!

Because we were still going back to Illinois regularly for Dave’s dentist appointments, we did manage to harvest a few things: some tomatoes, one zucchini, all the garlic and onions, and a few leeks. My purple broccoli was coming along really well but we had to abandon it [sad trombone]. The house was in our name until the end of September, so on our very last trip back we grabbed the aforementioned tomatoes and zucchini, and then I started wandering the butternut squash patch.

Dave was getting antsy to get back on the road and kept urging me to stop. “But look at this one! It’s ripe already,” I said, pointing. I inched forward, crouching, pushing leaves aside. “Oh wait, I have to get this one too.” A couple were not as golden as they should be, but all told I ended up getting six beautiful squash before we headed back to Michigan. Over the past few months, they all ripened perfectly in our cool basement.

We just got our first seed catalog a few days ago, and even though we’re firmly in winter’s grip, we are already looking ahead to spring. One of the many things that attracted us to this house was the acre of land, and a very flexible landlady who was more than happy for us to put in a huge garden. Although there’s a tiny chance something could come up, some house at an amazing price that we just know is meant to be ours, it’s more likely that we will stay here for another year when our lease comes up in July. We decided to take a chance and put in that big garden we’ve been dreaming about.

I really hope we can see this one through. It’s going to be the largest garden I’ve ever had, although Dave is really the gardener in our house so he gets all the credit. I think I’ll be more involved in this garden though; its size might require two people for maintenance. We’re planting things I’ve never grown before – cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, fennel, kale – and things I haven’t grown in years, like carrots, green beans and watermelon. My purple broccoli will get a second chance in 2015, as well as the herbs, butternut squash, a variety of tomatoes and peppers.

Although nobody in our immediate family died in 2014 (thank God), it still felt like there was too much loss, too much taken from us. I’m looking forward to new growth and renewal, filling that empty space.

And Then It Was Over

We did not have a white Christmas. As my mom so aptly put it, “We did not have a flake of snow.” Actually, that applies to both Michigan and Illinois – we had a Winter Weather Advisory for 1-3 inches of snow, and my mom (in Illinois) had a Winter Storm Watch for up to 7” of snow. But as I told Dave, it actually didn’t bother me because we were traveling on Christmas Day. I would rather have clear roads, no rain or snow, and cloudy skies if we have to be driving, and that’s exactly what we did have.

We got to my mom’s around 10 am (one of the benefits of living in different time zones … we left here at 8:30 am, it’s just under 2-1/2 hours of driving, and we got to her house at 10 am because she’s an hour behind us). We had a wonderful six hours together, and then we left a little earlier than planned because Eric needed to catch the 4:17 train back to Chicago and we had to get him to the train station in time. We had our usual ham and lasagna for dinner, along with green bean casserole and garlic bread. I’d told Dave when we were driving there that I’d been craving ham and lasagna SO BAD. He thought it was hilarious – what a combination! But it’s what we always have – ham and some type of pasta dish – and mmmm, it’s so good.

We got to spend Christmas Eve with Paige, her boyfriend, and her roommate, and that was awesome. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then gift opening; in the afternoon, Paige and Michael made Rice Krispie trees while Dave and I mostly watched, offering cooking advice here and there. We had beef stew for dinner, which was a first for us. I do believe these kids are pickier than even I was, so we had a brainstorming session the week earlier to find something they would both like to eat … and beef stew won. It really worked out well because I got the stew in the crockpot before we left to pick up the kids, and I didn’t need to stop and put dinner together later in the day.

Cinnamon Rolls

Dave’s awesome cinnamon rolls, a Christmas tradition

Dave and I opened our gifts when we got home from Illinois on Christmas night, and we waited until then to give the cats their catnip bananas (I wanted to be here in case they went Catnip Crazy). Let’s just say the catnip bananas were the hit of the day. At one point Maxie hid hers under the Christmas tree skirt, then started diving and freaking out trying to get it back. The Christmas tree did survive, but I’m glad we were here to supervise!

Now we look toward New Year’s Eve, which we CAN’T WAIT for. Appetizers and games and awesome company! We don’t drink at all – Dave has Hepatitis C (and is going back into treatment in March – more on that later) and I take medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol. But we don’t need to drink to have fun, so it’s all good.

I can’t say I’ll be sad to see 2014 go – we had some gut-wrenching changes this year – but we also had fun, and we made the best out of a bad situation. Hopefully 2015 will be a bit more calm and stable, but as long as we have each other I think we’ll be just fine.

Quick Takes, Holiday Edition

1.  They say our area has a 90% chance of snow on Christmas. It seems hard to believe, with a high today of 48 degrees and Christmas only two days away. But we’ll see – stranger things have happened. The main thing is that the snow they swear we’ll have tomorrow night is not supposed to be of the ‘well, we might get your road plowed by next week’ variety. Just a dusting, not enough to mess up the roads on Christmas Day.

2.  We’re in good shape as far as preparations go, with the exception of one gift for Dave that is obviously not going to arrive by Christmas Eve (or ever, apparently). I’ve already warned him that he’ll be helping me choose a replacement gift on Dec. 26th, hopefully from a seller that actually plans to ship things.

3.  I realized I hadn’t gotten anything for the cats. In the old house we actually hung stockings for them from the stair railing on the second floor. In this house I barely had room for the stockings that belonged to humans (I turned our large hope chest into a makeshift mantel next to the Christmas tree), much less room for the cats’ stockings. I guess not having the stockings out made me blank out on getting them a gift. Yes, I know they are cats. Yes, I know they don’t know it’s Christmas and expect no gift from us. But what kind of mother would I be if I forgot them?!

So I got them some Yeowww! catnip bananas, after seeing photographic evidence of my friend Kellie’s cat loving on his banana. (That sounds wrong, but you know what I mean.) I’ve gotten them Cosmic Catnip toys before but this is a new brand for us. I ordered them from Amazon because I knew they’d get here in time using their Prime shipping and, remember, I waited until the last minute to order them. They arrived promptly and I put them on a high shelf in the kitchen pantry, which is really just shelves off the kitchen that I’ve covered with a curtain.

The cats are now going crazy, pacing in front of the pantry, sticking their heads up inside the curtain, meowing, etc. This is for catnip toys that are in their packaging AND inside their shipping materials. I can’t wait to see what they do when we actually give them their bananas. (Go bananas, maybe? ahem)

4.  We’re in charge of Christmas cookies for dinner at my mom’s on Christmas Day, and I’ve been making a few types each day so we’ll have a nice variety to bring. Yesterday I made Italian anise cookies, which I remember fondly from my childhood. I can’t believe I’ve never made these before, because Dave loves licorice I don’t even know what made me decide to make them – I think the recipe popped up in an Allrecipes email or something.

There are wildly different recipes out there and I was really torn between them; finally I chose one from Food.com and crossed my fingers. If you’ve never had them before, they are almost like a little cake/biscuit type cookie with a glaze on top. We had to go to two stores to find anise extract, but it was worth it – I doubled the amount of extract in the frosting from 1/8 to ¼ tsp (we like the flavor) and they are so good. Dave’s face when he tasted the first one was priceless. He handed me a piece, I took a bite and said, “Oh my gosh, this brings back memories,” and then my eyes filled with tears. Crying over a cookie! But it just reminded me so much of Christmas Eve at my Aunt DeeDee’s house, my dad (who loved anise anything – cookies, biscotti, anisette liquor), and just all those Christmases of my youth when a platter of those cookies always seemed to be present. I am so glad I made them.

Italian Anise Cookies

Our Italian anise cookies — I remember the ones with round sprinkles the best.

This year we have a full day on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and I already know I won’t be writing again until Friday. So I want to take this moment to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate. Thanks for being my friends, for sticking around even when I don’t write for weeks, for your valued feedback and comments and perspective. I hope all your wishes come true!

Cell Phones and Me, A History

I’ve never been much of a cell phone person. The first one I remember buying was for our honeymoon in 2002. We paid $100 for a phone that was supposed to be hearing aid compatible (it was also supposed to have a $100 rebate, which they DENIED for no reason – that still pisses me off). We brought a neckloop and tried to use the phone to call the kids. We never could get it to work – I couldn’t hear anything on it (and I used to use the phone regularly back then, when I still had some hearing). I don’t remember if we ever actually used that phone, although we did hold onto it in case we needed it in an emergency.

I think I gave up the idea of a cell phone until 2008, when I went deaf. Everyone else was getting obsessed with them but we were holdouts. Even my kids didn’t get cell phones until then – Eric bought his first cell phone with his own money in 2008, when he was a senior in high school. I think Paige might have gotten her first phone that year too – my mom bought it for her to use when they went on a cruise together.

Once I lost my hearing, I decided I needed a phone I could easily text with. I got a Virgin Mobile WildCard with a slide-out keyboard, and boy did I think I was something special. It was great, though – I mainly used it to keep in touch with the kids, and it was so helpful. I never used it to talk but Dave did on occasion. It was a pay-as-you-go phone so I had tons of minutes built up on it.

Eventually I found out about Sprint’s plan for the deaf and hard of hearing, which was $29.99 for unlimited data and texting. I upgraded to a Blackberry Curve and gave Paige my old phone (and all those minutes – which didn’t last long for a teenage girl). There was no phone call component to the Sprint deaf plan and that suited me just fine; in fact, incoming calls were actually blocked.

Then while I was merrily texting on my Blackberry, smartphones got popular. Everyone was swiping and tapping and phones were getting bigger instead of smaller. I decided I wanted a smartphone, but I didn’t want to pay the upgraded Sprint deaf/HOH plan price (at the time, it was an extra $10/month). I just didn’t use my phone enough to justify spending $40 plus tax. The Samsung Replenish, though, was a smartphone that didn’t incur the extra $10 charge. It was cute, with a keyboard like my Blackberry and a touch screen. I went ahead and upgraded but kept my $30/month plan for unlimited text and data.

It didn’t take long to realize the Replenish wasn’t much of a smartphone. It had very, very little memory and you could put maybe one or two apps on it, but that was it. Even using an SD card didn’t help. Dave hacked the phone, putting on a new kernel so I could put things on the SD card instead of the phone. (That’s a very basic way of explaining what he did – I have had to stop and ask him three times just to complete that sentence.)

By now the whole world was looking at their phones instead of their surroundings. Because my phone sucked, I still never got pulled into the cell phone obsession. I used it when I needed to, but most of the time I forgot it at home. I also turned it on maybe once a week. When I did finally turn it on, I’d have messages from people that apparently were sent days before, and I’d have to explain that I’d just turned on my phone and saw their message. I felt like the only person alive who didn’t keep their cell phone on all the time.

My plan with Sprint was up right about the time we moved here to Michigan. I really wanted a real smartphone but I couldn’t stand paying $50 a month when I was sure I wouldn’t use it that much. Dave did some research and found Republic Wireless. They had just released their Moto G and he liked the looks of the phone, so that was my birthday gift. Even better, the plan I picked was cheaper than the Sprint deaf/HOH plan — $25/month for unlimited calls, text and data (over WiFi and 3G network).

So I’ve been using my phone for almost six months now, and I love it. I still don’t find myself obsessed with the phone, but I do turn it on every day and most days I remember to take it with me when I leave the house. I haven’t had any problems using it – the service is great. I do find it very hard to hear on this phone, though, so I still really don’t use it for making phone calls. (Dave also finds it hard to hear.) I know they have apps that caption cell phone calls but I don’t really get how they work. I assume you have to use the phone on speaker mode so you can look at the screen to read the captions – I don’t want everyone listening to my conversation, sorry. I think you also have to get a special phone number for people to call so that the incoming call is captioned – something that just seems like a huge pain to me, especially when I barely remember my regular cell phone number to begin with.

Speaking of my cell phone number, I have two of them. Oddly enough, even though we bought this phone online when we were in Michigan, my phone number area code is the same as my area code was in Illinois – 630. It makes no sense, but I didn’t complain. So I have this 630 phone number, but a few days after I got my phone I started getting calls from numbers with a 269 area code, which is the area code for where I live now. Then I started getting Facebook notifications about engagements and whatnot for people I’d never heard of. A few times people would leave voicemails – I’d have Dave listen to them and they were usually from guys and usually about stuff that was for sale.

I figured I must have somebody’s old phone number, but how weird that all these people from my current 269 area code were calling a phone number in the 630 area code.

Last month I got a text from a guy wanting to know if it was still okay to go hunting in my backyard. “Nobody was home,” he wrote, “so I just wanted to check first.” I assume he meant this guy’s backyard and not mine, since I never heard any gunshots (and my backyard is big but not that big). I debated whether to text him back but in the end I didn’t. I did, however, do some more digging around and I found out that there’s a reason I was getting these weird calls and texts. My phone actually has two phone numbers, one for WiFi (which is the one I use) and one for the cellular network. This is how Republic Wireless explains it:

Every Republic phone has the Republic number that you know and give to others.  For those with cell service plans, there’s a second number that’s required and used behind-the-scenes to receive calls when Wi-Fi isn’t available.  You don’t normally need to worry about the Sprint number unless you’re receiving unwanted texts or calls because it was recycled from a former Sprint mobile customer.

So there ya go. I followed their instructions to find my Sprint number and it didn’t work – the phone was all, “Yeah, I can’t complete that number as dialed, sorry.” But one day, by accident, I noticed that when I turned the phone on for the day and quickly checked my phone number, it showed the 269 area code Sprint number. I guess it just shows while the phone is starting up, because once it finds our WiFi signal the phone number changes to the one I know and use.

Things seem to have slowed down with the unwanted calls and texts, but if it doesn’t stop eventually then I can ask them to change my Sprint number (and hope the new one doesn’t give me the same issues). Meanwhile, last night I turned on my phone (yes, I still forget to do it in the morning sometimes) and I had a missed call from an unknown number, and three text messages from a different unknown number.

The three messages were really one long message, from a woman who said, “You took Lila from me in 2012.” I saw that and big red flags went up – this guy stole his kid from her mom?! I kept reading and she said that her daughter wanted an update, and if he still had Lila to please let her know. I showed it to Dave and his first impression was the same – stolen kid. Then I said, “I think this is an animal, a dog or a cat. She said her daughter is asking about her.” So I wrote the lady and tried to explain the mix-up with the phone number. We had a nice conversation and ended by wishing each other Merry Christmas. I hope she finds her dog (the old owner of my phone bought the dog from her and used to send updates, but apparently has stopped).

It’s kind of interesting getting a glimpse into this guy’s life. I know his name now, from the lady who texted last night, but it’s so common it’s impossible to really find him. Not that I’d really know what to say. “Hey man, could you update your phone number on Facebook and take down your Craigslist ads and tell your friends they can still hunt in your backyard but they can reach you at your NEW number?”

I don’t know – I’m kind of curious to see what happens next.

Older and Wiser: Christmas Cookies

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by Christmas and how it was celebrated in other countries. I used to check out library books on the subject. It was hard to imagine following some of the traditions I read about – I distinctly remember being amazed that some people didn’t put up a Christmas tree until Christmas Eve, and then Santa was the one who decorated it. (Looking back as an adult, I can only imagine how tiring that must be for the parents. There it is, 11 pm or whenever they managed to get the kids soundly to sleep, and now they have to quietly drag out boxes of ornaments and decorate the tree without being caught … not to mention actually setting out the Santa gifts and filling stockings.)

Obviously we weren’t going to be changing our family traditions just because I thought it was cool how people in Denmark celebrated Christmas or whatever, but one thing I could do was bake some of the traditional cookies made in various countries. I remember dog-earing pages of a book called Christmas Cookies of the World (or something similar), just certain that I was going to make ALL of these cookies and try them out.

My eyes were bigger than my ambition, and I only actually tried a few of the recipes. Still, though, it was fun to read about and dream. As an adult, I still have a bit of a problem where Christmas cookies are concerned. Now it’s not so much about trying Christmas cookies from around the world as it is about trying Christmas cookies that just look so gorgeous and sound so delicious.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I tend to go overboard when I plan my baking days. When I was in my early 20s, I failed to take into consideration which recipes were the type that needed to be made and then refrigerated for hours before I could bake them. I’d get the dough made up and then get to the line that said ‘refrigerate for three hours or more’ and just sigh. Now what?!

Other times I’d be more organized; I’d make the ‘refrigerate for freaking ever’ cookie dough first, and while it was chilling I’d move on to something I could bake right away. But I’d plan to make a whole list of cookies in one day, an endeavor that would take me hours and leave me with a sore back and aching feet.

I also learned that I have no patience for cookies that have to be rolled out and decorated. Those were the types that they always pushed on young mothers as a great way to involve your children in cookie baking. Neither of my kids had any interest in this, even though they both liked to cook and Paige, especially, was into crafts. By the time we made the dough and rolled it out and started using the cookie cutters, they were getting bored. They’d wander off while the cookies were baking; usually I could coax them back to decorate a few once they cooled off, but I always felt like I was forcing the kids to join me in an activity they really didn’t care about. Decorated sugar cookies got taken off the list after a couple years of listless participation.

Really it was like this for any kind of cookie. “Want to make cookies?” I’d ask. They would shout, “Yes!” and by the time we were scooping out the dough, they’d be leaning on their elbows, sighing, looking around the room. “If you want to stop, you can,” I’d say, then watch them happily skip off to read or build Legos or whatever while I scooped and baked.

So here I am, 50 years old, and I’d like to think I’ve reached the ‘wiser’ part of ‘older and wiser.’ Okay, yes, I do have at least ten types of cookies I’d like to make this year – I have my tried and true recipes, like chocolate chips and Russian Tea Balls (also known as Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cookies, etc. etc. – basically they should be called Round White Balls of Buttery Deliciousness Covered in Powdered Sugar). I have a couple of new recipes, because I always like to try a few new ones each year. (Congo Bars, how have I not made you before now?!) And I usually try to make at least one traditional Italian cookie – sometimes it’s pizzelles, sometimes biscotti; this year it’s frosted anise cookies. But I don’t try to make them all in one day. Now I spread the cookie-making joy over a few days, sometimes a week.

I’ll leave you with a recipe that has just three ingredients – butter, brown sugar, flour – and tastes absolutely amazing. This is one of my new recipes for this year because I’d never made shortbread before and wanted to see how they would turn out. Mine looked nothing like the photo accompanying the recipe; they would fit better in a ‘Pinterest Fail’ meme. But how they look doesn’t matter. They are simply amazing – buttery, not too sweet, and very addictive: Scottish Shortbread

Happy baking!

Not A Real Post

Oh my gosh — I haven’t been doing well with Holidailies, have I?  (More like Holi-every-couple-dailies around here.)

We just did a whirlwind final Christmas shopping day today.  When we got home in the late afternoon, I exercised and now I’m researching cat toys because I forgot to buy kitty gifts (oops).  I was just about to get up and get dinner started when I realized I haven’t updated here since … Monday, I think.

I have a day full of downtime tomorrow — I’m coloring my hair, which means at least four hours without my ‘ears’ on (between applying the color, waiting for it to set, washing it out, then letting my hair air dry).  For some reason I find it easier to write when I can’t hear, so hopefully I can write a real update then.  I’m thinking food as a topic — for someone who seems to think about food all the time, I rarely write about it.

Speaking of food, I’ll leave you with a photo of these glorious pancakes that Dave got when we went out to breakfast with Paige and Michael yesterday.  The pancakes, seriously, are the size of a dinner plate and an inch thick (and delicious).  I guess you get two pancakes as part of a regular order; Dave wanted three and the waitress brought out a second plate with another massively huge pancake on it — it was comical.  (No, he didn’t eat it — he couldn’t even finish these two.)

We got these beauties at Rise 'n Shine Cafe in Niles.

We got these beauties at Rise ‘n Shine Cafe in Niles.

Bargaining with the Tooth Fairy

Earlier today I heard Dave chuckling. “Oh, this is totally you,” he said, pointing to his computer screen. I leaned over his shoulder to read the Reddit post he was talking about.

“That is absolutely something I would have done,” I agreed. It was a passive-aggressive note from a young girl to the Tooth Fairy … a very forgetful Tooth Fairy, apparently. (I did sympathize because I can easily remember at least two instances of ‘Oh crap, I forgot to be the Tooth Fairy last night!’ that involved me handing Dave some money and begging him to perform his magic – he could always slip that money under the pillow better than I. I’m pretty sure we forgot to retrieve the tooth at least once as well.)

I was a bit of a bitchy, dramatic kid. My mom would leave aggrieved notes reminding me to empty the dishwasher or whatever; I would correct her spelling and punctuation with a red pen, then leave the corrected note for her to see when she got home from work. I can also remember writing woe-is-me poetry when I felt I’d been wronged. I would shape it into a paper airplane and fly it into the living room where my parents sat watching TV, then run back to my room and slam the door. (My mom saved those notes, bless her heart – a few years later, I found some of them under the pot holders in a kitchen drawer.)

After I saw the tooth fairy note, I walked into our guest room and checked one of my jewelry boxes. When we moved, I got rid of a lot of childhood papers I’d saved from both kids – mostly graded worksheets, anything impersonal. I kept their stories, drawings and poems though, and I was pretty sure I had some Tooth Fairy notes. Sure enough, I found this, from Eric:

He wrote this when he was in a stage where he slept on the floor in my room -- had to make sure the Tooth Fairy could find him!

He wrote this when he was in a stage where he slept on the floor in my room — had to make sure the Tooth Fairy could find him!

And this, a year or two later (I can tell he’s older by the handwriting):

"I lost I think a big tooth. Please give me $10 $5 or in the middle"

“I lost I think a big tooth. Please give me $10 $5 or in the middle”

... and he offers some more monetary suggestions.  :)

… and he offers some more monetary suggestions. 🙂

Not to be outdone, Paige also left the Tooth Fairy a clever note:

"I would like 50c or more for my tooth because it is cute."  :)

“I would like 50c or more for my tooth because it is cute.” 🙂

I can’t remember for sure but I believe these notes did net bigger payouts from the Tooth Fairy, although not $10 per tooth. I think Eric was probably angling for 25 cents, not 25 dollars, in the first note … but I did teach him to dream big, so who knows.

Happy Holidays (emphasis on ‘happy’)

After all the snow we got in November (16 inches before Nov. 15th, another good six inches on Thanksgiving, with little flurries many days in between), I was positive we’d have a white Christmas. In fact, I was a little nervous about whether we’d be able to make the drive to Illinois on Christmas day. It seemed entirely possible that we’d be snowed in.

In Illinois, we lived in a suburb about 35 miles west of Chicago. About half the time that snow was predicted, it wouldn’t show up at all. Usually we’d get just a little bit while other areas got dumped on. I love snow, and this used to drive me crazy. We’d hear the term ‘lake effect snow’ but it never applied to us because we were too far from Lake Michigan and in the wrong direction as well.

When we moved to southwestern Michigan, we got our first taste of lake effect snow. We aren’t right on Lake Michigan – you have to drive 30 to 40 minutes to get there – but we’re right in the little area where lake effect snow seems to develop. In fact, the towns right along the lake tend to get less snow than we do. The boundaries of the lake effect snow area are really dramatic – the storm that ultimately gave us 16 inches of snow dropped just a couple of inches in towns right around us.

So here we are, almost exactly halfway through December, and we’ve had no snow. Not only have we had no snow, but it’s also been fairly warm for this time of year (today I think it’s going to be around 50 degrees). While this is nice for the car – she actually starts up first thing in the morning with no hijinks on our part – it’s not really nice for the whole Christmas spirit thing in general. Even Dave, who is ambivalent about snow, has complained that we should have snow by now.

I’m used to this from Illinois – it was typical for us to have no snow on Christmas and then get tons of snow starting in January. But our ultra-snowy early start to winter had me pretty excited – I’d moved to the perfect place for snow!

Oh well – for some reason, I still feel full of Christmas spirit even without my beloved snow on the ground. Our grass may still be green, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m happy knowing we’ll be able to get to Chicago with no drama on the 25th (assuming the no-snow thing keeps up for the next 10 days), and I’m happy knowing I’ll be able to see my kids and my mom this year on Christmas.

We have cookie-baking plans with Paige and her boyfriend Michael, our gifts are mostly bought, and our budget wasn’t stretched too far beyond its tight confines. Earlier this week Dave pulled me out of the house for a nighttime drive to look at Christmas lights, something we both love to do. We brought out just the right amount of decorations for our little house, my doorway arch is filling up with holiday cards from friends near and far, and Dave has recorded the Christmas specials I remember so fondly from my childhood. (I still cry when Frosty melts – I can’t help it.)

My heart is full and content. While I’d love to look out the window and see white, glittery snow as far as the eye can see, I’m happy instead to look out on our birds and squirrels (and occasional wild turkey).

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