Thursday, November 30, 2006

Black Friday

The doorbuster deals at Toys R Us used to have me shivering in a parking lot at 5:00 a.m. every year on the morning after Thanksgiving, back when $5 Furbys and buy-one-get-one-free Polly Pocket sets could still make the Demis' Christmas dreams come true. I still get a special thrill from combing through the stacks of glossy Thanksgiving day newspaper ads while I watch the Macy’s parade TV. But for the past couple of years, I’ve opted to skip the Black Friday insanity and just sleep in.

I was planning to do just that last week, but then my friend Daniel, the one who so kindly brought my PC into the 21st century for me, found out from an advance online advertisement that Micro Center stores would be offering 160 GB hard drives for a deep, deep discount on Friday morning. He was very excited until he realized that the discounted hard drives would only be available to the first 25 customers through the door when it opened at 6:00 a.m., and the only Micro Center location in the state is a good 45-minute drive from his house.

As it happens, that very same Micro Center location is about 2.5 minutes from my house. So, since I have some experience with day after Thanksgiving shopping, and since I have a lot more time than money with which to repay the kindness he bestowed on my home computer, I told him I’d go to Micro Center for him.

When my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. that morning, I threw on the clothes I had laid out the night before, grabbed the Micro Center ad and a protein bar and ran out the door, thinking that I would wait in my car if no other customers had arrived yet. Moments later I found the entrance to the parking lot blocked by a police car with its lights flashing. It appeared to be preventing a block-long line of people from extending into the street.

Alrighty then.

Since I was up already, I decided to try my luck at a couple of other stores instead, which actually went pretty well except that somebody stole my shopping cart in Menard’s. The mass of bargain-hungry humanity that stood between me and the $3 hand-crank LED flashlights forced me to temporarily abandon it, along with the throw rug, the slippers and the various other items it contained. When I returned, my cart had disappeared and there was no trace of my hard-won merchandise. Whoever you are, I hope you enjoy eternity in your special place in HELL, you cart-stealing bastard.

The checkout line at Kohl’s was freaking ridiculous, but it moved along pretty steadily, and was worth enduring because I picked up skirts and sweaters for both the DemiGoddesses to wear on Christmas, as well as a new pair of gloves for a certain Goddess who seems to have a terminal case of glove/mitten dropsy, all for less than I spend on an average trip to Trader Joe's.

I found out later that my sister Meghan had been out shopping that morning, too. She did Herberger’s, immediately earning my respect because another customer in line at Menard's had told me she had tried to go there but left after being unable to find a parking spot, and then had to fight her way out of the lot. And Meghan was there with a toddler in tow, no less.

Now that’s plain crazy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


In putting together my annual Excel spreadsheet of the gifts I will be purchasing between now and Christmas (What? What??), I was super excited over the prospect of ordering two of the cutest little items ever. Tiny, shiny iPods! With engraving, no less!

I had visions of the DemiGoddesses opening their bitty packages on Christmas morning, gasping with joy, and then leaping over piles of discarded wrapping paper to fling their arms in ecstatic gratitude around their uber cool Goddess of a mother, who so clearly has her thumb on the pulse of everything that is cutting-edge and hip with the youngsters.

The next day, I began laying the groundwork...

“Have you seen those new baby iPod Shuffles? They’re sooooo cuuuuuute!”

…and was quickly shot down.

“I don’t want a Shuffle. I want a 30 GB video iPod.”

“Me neither. I want a Nano. A red one.”

Yeah. Not so much. Even if I were not morally opposed to the idea of buying teenagers expensive (as in, costing more than $79) high-tech electronic gadgets that they will probably break or lose or that will very likely be stolen from their lockers at school within a matter of days (which I am), no amount of Excel spreadsheet wrangling is going to work either of those items into my holiday budget.

After some negotiations, the three of us worked out an arrangement in which I will simply give to each of them the cash I would have spent on their Shuffles (no engraving for ME, sniffle), which they will then add to their respective iPod funds so that they can eventually purchase for themselves the items that they really want.

Gone are the days when I could work some clearance-aisle wizardry and produce a glee-inducing Christmas haul for $50. This year the Demis will be getting cash in a box, which may yet be glee-inducing, but is considerably less fun for ME.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Things That Are Neither People Nor Items, But That I Am Thankful For Nevertheless

I am thankful that even though the holidays will soon make it disappear, this year, I actually have money in a savings account earmarked for Christmas. And damn, does that feel good. My goal for next year is to have a little money still in my savings account on December 26. Dare to dream, ESG.

I am thankful that yesterday, for the first time since I can’t remember when, my ex and I had a phone conversation that was very nearly affable. I’m not 100% ready to make a habit of that, but it is definitely progress.

I’m thankful that this year, everybody in my inner circle is healthy, nobody is under indictment, nobody is being audited by the IRS, and everyone is employed. With benefits, even. (Well, except for Dad, who is “retired,” but he does volunteer work, and he is covered under Mom’s insurance).

And I’m thankful that the only items I am responsible for cooking tomorrow are the creamed onions and the sweet potatoes. And everybody who will be having dinner at my parents’ house should be thankful for that as well. Trust me on that one.

Enough with the gratitude. Let’s eat.

(Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Items I Am Thankful For

The new roof on my house, which appears to have fixed my leaky sunroom problem.

Palm’s Bakery. May it never, ever close its doors again.

Flogging Molly’s “Drunken Lullabies” CD.

The third lane on Highway 100 that opened a few months ago, reducing my daily commute from 25 minutes to 12.

My new digital camera, the awesomest of birthday gifts, which took fantastic photos of DemiGoddess the Elder during her final performance of the school musical last weekend.

Justin Morneau’s bat. (Congratulations to the new American League MVP! )


CO Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint, Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar hand cream, Mac Fluidline eyeliner, and Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil. Also the hair dye that I do not need yet, but am nevertheless comforted by the existence of. And, for the time being, tweezers.

The Caribou Coffee that finally opened a few weeks ago, three blocks from my house.

My Honda Civic, which just passed the 100,000 mile mark and still runs like a champ.

The lunch buffet at Surabhi Indian Cuisine.

Circular knitting needles.

The wreath my dad brought me back from his trip to the lake last week.

12-Hour Sudafed.

Alpaca wool mittens.

Lilacs, apple blossoms, pansies, and the roses that appear on my dining room table on every fifth of the month.

And, last but far from least, I am thankful for the hand written notes I received a couple of months ago from two little girls in South Africa, thanking me for the bears I made. (Even though they made me cry.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

People I Am Thankful For

I am thankful for my daughters, for the things they teach me every day and for giving me a reason to keep on keepin’ on, even when I really, really don’t want to at all.

I am thankful for my niece, Madge, for being my excuse to shop for toys this Christmas, which she is going to get lots and lots of because she now knows my name and runs to give me hugs and kisses whenever I come over. What color pony would you like, my little munchkin?

For my smart, funny, gorgeous sisters and sister-cousins, whose e-mails make me laugh out loud, and who are not afraid to dance entirely without inhibitions whenever Neil Diamond is on. Even when they have not been drinking alcoholic beverages beforehand.

For my parents, and my aunts and uncles and second cousins and first-cousins-once-removed and all the rest of my giant, noisy, often dysfunctional extended family. For my Aunt Linda, who remembered to call me on my birthday, even though she and my Uncle Dave divorced when I was eight years old and she now lives in Louisiana. And for my brother-in-law, Jim, who will soon be helping me hang drywall in my sunroom, although he doesn’t know it yet.

I am thankful for the family members who will attend Thanksgiving dinner in spirit. My Grandma Devoy through her creamed onions recipe, which I wrote down shortly before she celebrated her 90th birthday, and my Grandma Townsend by way of her Fire King casserole dish with the fruit painted on the side, which I will be serving the creamed onions in on Thursday.

I am thankful for My Ho, who is kind and thoughtful and loving and trustworthy, even when I don’t feel very deserving of any of those things. And patient. I am thankful that he is very, very patient. And also that he is bringing pie.

I am thankful for the babies on the way—Batgirl’s Baby Boof, and my cousin Kerry’s new little girl, because it will certainly not be a boy THIS time around.

I am thankful for my friend Liz, who keeps me sane. For my friend Dr. Dave, who makes my brain hurt (but in a good way). For my friend Batgirl, who continues to prove that baseball, good writing and sass make an awesome combination. For Mother Bear Amy, who provides an ongoing example that one person with an idea and a little passion can make a big difference in the world. For Leah, who doesn't care that my dog jumps over the fence to poop in her yard (I seriously am going to clean that up). And for my friend Daniel, who souped up my PC so DemiGoddess the Younger can watch Degrassi episodes online, and so I can now play the latest Age of Empires games, and he did it all for only the price of the hardware and a sandwich from Jimmy John's.

I am thankful for that handful of blog browsers who kept coming here when I was silent for an entire month with no explanation. I don't know who most of who you are, and I don't know why you stuck around, but because of the miracle of StatCounter, I know you were here, and I thank you.

I am thankful for all the Demis’ terrific teachers and Girl Scouts troop leaders and the other adults who are helping them become amazing young women.

I am thankful for doctors and nurses, for police officers and sanitation workers, and all those people who do the jobs that I would never in a million years want to do.

I am thankful for Nancy Pelosi and all the new blue congresspeople. (Please, please don’t f*ck it up in the next two years. PLEASE.)

I am thankful for my dog, who is not a person, exactly, but she still counts as a family member.

And, of course, I am thankful for the Minnesota Twins. All of them. But especially Johan Santana.

Friday, November 17, 2006

How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth…

and breadth…

and height…

My soul can reach…

It's unanimous (again)!

Congratulations to two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Alcohol and Kitchen Appliances Do Not Mix

From: EverydaySuperGoddess
To: The Sister Cousins

Can we have another flirtini party this Christmas?

From: Sister Betsy
To: The Sister Cousins

Molly and I have briefly discussed another flirtini party at our house this year, though we may do something besides flirtinis (but equally as delicious).

From: Cousin Tiffany
To: The Sister Cousins

I read this great financial planning tip last year--put away a bit of money away every month to spend at the end of the year on Christmas presents. I thought it was a good idea but was more inclined to put $ away for the family's Christmas liquor store bill.

I like champagne drinks best!

From: Sister Betsy
To: The Sister Cousins

I think we can safely assume that the drinks at our party will include champagne in some form. I got the impression that a few people had enough vodka last time to last them quite a while, so vodka will probably be off the menu.

From: EverydaySuperGoddess
To: The Sister Cousins

No no no no no! I LIKE the vodka!!!

From: Cousin Tiffany
To: EverydaySuperGoddess

Sylvia Plath has a lovely description of vodka in The Bell Jar. It made me love vodka forever.

Of course, she ended with her head in the oven.

From: EverydaySuperGoddess
To: Cousin Tiffany

Maybe she was looking for the vodka.

In the FREEZER, Sylvia! The FREEZER!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Sleep Deprived DemiGoddess

DemiGoddess the Younger was born slightly prematurely, so she had to spend the first week of her life in the intensive care unit. Her lungs hadn’t quite finished cooking yet, and the doctors put her on a respirator to help her breathe. After her first night of intubation, one of the nurses in the NICU told me they’d had to give my newborn daughter sedatives during the night because she wouldn’t stop trying to yank out her respirator tube.

“She’s a feisty one,” the nurse said with a knowing nod.

Thirteen years later, my girl has grown into a young woman who is capable of deep compassion and genuine kindness. But there have been many moments since that morning in the hospital when I’ve thought to myself, that child was born pissed off, and it’s been downhill ever since. When she is out of sorts, the only appropriate response is to duck and cover. Because Ms. Younger never, ever, suffers alone.

Mornings are a particularly touchy time, and since school started last fall, the alarm clock has been a recurring point of contention. The DemiGoddesses share a bedroom, and the only clock radio in it technically belongs to Demi the Elder. She sets the alarm at night and, when it goes off in the morning, Ms. Elder gets up, crosses the room, hits the snooze button and then goes back to bed for a few more minutes. This happens multiple times before she turns on the bedroom light and gets dressed.

Meanwhile, Demi the Younger, who leaves for school half an hour earlier than her sister, has slept right on through the whole thing, and when the lights come on, more often than not, she is already running late. And someone must pay.

Day after day Ms. Younger would berate her older sister for not waking her up sooner, as she stomped around, slamming doors, hissing and spraying venom from her eyeballs. And if she happened to have stayed up past her bedtime the night before? Heaven help us all.

I know from experience that trying to engage my child in any sort of debate at this point will only escalate the foulness, but yesterday she was at it again, and I interrupted her rant to point out, in a slightly less than entirely patient tone of voice, that an important part of learning to behave like an adult person includes taking responsibility for getting one’s own arse out of bed in the mornings.

Clearly, something was going to have to change. So last night I bought her her own clock radio. One with big green numbers on the display, so she’ll be able to read it without her glasses. She gratefully kissed me when she saw it, and merrily took it to her room to set it up.

Both the radio and the beeper alarms went off on schedule this morning, but instead of getting up immediately, DemiGoddess the Younger played her own round of snooze tag. By the time she left her bed, she was even more late than usual. This time, though, she had no one to blame but herself, and the quiet at the breakfast table was almost eerie. Which is good. Because I was about ready to look into getting her some more of those sedatives.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Further Evidence of My Traumatic Adolescence

DemiGoddess the Younger: Tomorrow is “Mix-it-Up” day. They’re making everyone sit at different tables at lunch.

EverydaySuperGoddess: How will they know everyone is at a different table?

DGY: They’re giving us all colored stickers, and we have to sit at the table with the people who have the same color.

ESG: What if somebody ends up having to sit a table full of people who hate them and put food in their hair?

DGY: Nobody ever put food in my hair. But Cailin put Fritos in my milk once.

ESG: Bitch.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I Don’t Recall Buying a Ticket for this Ride and I Would Like to Get Off Now, Please

When DemiGoddess the Elder told me that she wanted to go to the homecoming dance with a group of girlfriends, I thought, okay. She’s in high school now. That sounds like fun, and it's nice that girls nowadays don't find it necessary to have a date in order to attend the dance.

When she told me she’d need a dress to wear to the dance, I thought, ack, not in the budget, and anyway, why does she need a dress-up dress if she’s just going with girlfriends?

Then I was ashamed of myself for assuming that the only reason for her to dress up would be to go somewhere with a boy. So we went dress shopping, and luckily found a gorgeous, perfectly age-appropriate little number (at a deep, deep discount, no less), that we both loved. Score one for Mom. She looked beautiful she had a wonderful time at the dance.

A few weeks later Ms. Elder announced that the Sadie Hawkins dance was coming up in November. Apparently, at school they had collected requests of music to play at the dance, and she mostly just wanted to go and see if they'd play the They Might Be Giants song she had requested. Really. Most of her friends had boys in mind to ask, and well, yeah, there was a boy she was thinking about asking too.

(Cue the screaming in my head.)

As casually as I could manage, I asked her to tell me about this potential date rapist young man. He plays football and hockey (oh, dear…), is in advanced math (hopeful...), and he watches Project Runway (how soon can he move in?).

So, I wondered, what is the next appropriate parenting move here? Do I Google him and his parents and his next door neighbors? Check to make sure none of his immediate family members are listed in the national sex offender registry? Stake out his house and sift through his trash to check for drug paraphernalia and/or "Thank you for your generous contribution to the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign!" letters?

I just barely started letting my daughter ride her bicycle out of my eyesight, and I'm supposed to just let her go off with some hockey-playing hormone with legs? I think not.

Then I remembered to inquire about his name.


Last name?


The Goddess is going to need more mixer.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I’m Not Dead

But I did attend a Dio de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) party last weekend at the Fabulous Miss Amy’s beautiful (and, in spite of what she says, very CLEAN) home last weekend. Attendees had two assignments: 1) To knit up one of these:

and 2) to bring a food to share that would honor a loved one who has died.

I didn’t knit a day of the dead doll, because all I ever knit any more is Mother Bear Project bears, but my Grandma used to knit for charity all the time, so I figured my latest bear could represent her efforts. And anyway, I never could have topped Connie's creation:

The food would pose an even greater challenge. My Grandma was a legendary cook. She was a home economics teacher for many years, and loved nothing more than to get in the kitchen and get her hands dirty (and pretty much everything else in the room while she was at it).

When I thought about what dishes reminded me most of her, the first thing that came to mind was one that I won’t be making until Thanksgiving—creamed onions. The foundation of most of my Grandma’s signature recipes are butter and/or heavy cream, you see. The next thing was twice-baked potatoes, a fairly involved recipe that I only make for Christmas Eve dinner. Because, apparently, I only cook when required to by a holiday.

Then I thought of a little item my family calls simply “Grandma Cake.” It’s a devil’s food layer cake, with each layer split in two so there are really four layers. Freshly whipped cream (sweetened with a smidge of powdered sugar and vanilla) goes between each of the layers, and then the whole thing is covered in chocolate frosting. It’s like a giant Ho-Ho, only way, way better. But I had already asked my sister Betsy to make me one for my birthday, and two Grandma Cakes in the same week would be more decadence than even I could handle.

So, once again, Trader Joe’s came to my rescue in the form of Artichoke Antipasto and a jar of Olive Tapenade. Because, you know, Grandma also loved artichokes. And she always put olives on the relish trays at family dinners.

My favorite Trader fella must have appreciated the gesture, because yesterday he left me a very special voicemail, wishing me a happy birthday, and asking me to marry him! It’s true! And even though his voice sounded suspiciously like a slightly deeper version of DemiGoddess the Elder’s, I am totally going to say YES!

Just as soon as I figure out how to call him back, because my intended forgot to leave his number.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's not quite world peace, but it's a pretty damn good birthday present!