Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Heres to starting a new year with a clean slate, an optimistic heart and a genuine smile. And hopefully a kiss too.

Happy 2015!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Some Boxing Day Humor

Sharing some cartoons that made me laugh since I'm too tired to post today. It's been a long week!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014


My children have been blessed with two sets of loving and active and involved grandparents.  We will be visiting my parents very soon, and my in-laws were here with us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (my MIL brought the entire Christmas Eve dinner with her from home, thoughtful woman that she is.)  Where there are small children and presents and commotion and excitement, there should be grandparents to share the joy and relive the magic.  And, in the case of my FIL, to write the return notes from Santa because the kids would recognize our handwriting.  :)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thank You, Harry Shoup

As NPR pointed out this week, NORAD's Santa Tracker began with a typo and a good sport.

Back in 1955, there was a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper's holiday Sears ad.  Instead of reaching the department store Santa, callers were dialing Col. Harry Shoup's top secret red phone at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.  When he realized what was happening, instead of explaining the error and disappointing the children, he gamely assigned some airmen to answer the red phone on Santa's behalf, much to the amusement of everyone around him.  Then, on Christmas Eve, somebody with a sense of humor drew Santa and his reindeer coming over the North Pole on the big glass board that the airmen used to track flights.  Col. Shoup saw this, thought for a bit, then called the local radio station, identified himself as a commander at the Combat Alert Center, and announced that there was an unidentified flying object on their radar screen that looked a lot like a sleigh.  The radio stations would call him for updates on Santa's progress every hour, and that's how it all began.

Today, the Santa Tracker is a really fantastic website where people can follow Santa all over the globe on Christmas Eve through US military radar.  (For the parentally inclined among us, there's a lot of geography learned while watching Santa's progress...just sayin'.)  My kids love the website, and it keeps them occupied all day Christmas Eve...quite a monumental task in itself!

So here's a toast to you, Colonel Shoup: your memory is honored in this house every year.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone.

Monday, December 22, 2014

&%^$& Murphy's Law

Cards are long sent.  Gifts all purchased and wrapped.  House decorated way earlier than usual.  Right about now I should be sitting pretty, ready to actually enjoy the holiday season instead of wanting to flip it off like I do most years.  But what am I doing?  Rasping like a frog because my kids have given me their colds, which has turned into laryngitis.  Himself is coming down with the same bug now, and it is a sorry sight to behold.  Needless to say, the levels of parental patience around here are pretty low, and tomorrow there is only a half-day of school before the winter break begins!  Murphy, you're a bitch.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Best Holiday Party EVER

I love my taekwondo girls, really I do.  For all that this is a frighteningly homogeneous area in general, some of these women are from all over the globe: Austria, India, Egypt, the Philippines, and the UK just to name a few off the top of my head.  Last night, the Indian instructor and her husband hosted a party.  (They don't even celebrate Christmas and they had more Christmas decorations up than I do...pretty funny.)

It was a positive festival of Indian fare, both northern and southern styles.  Other than what my friend brings to class every so often, I'd never had Indian home cooking before, and it was fantastic.  This family is vegetarian and my highly carnivorous husband was a little concerned going in about what he was going to be able to eat*, but several platefuls later he was groaning about his overstuffed belly!  Naan (his favorite.)  Vegetable curry.  Spinach and chickpeas.  A hot drink made of pureed lentils and spices and other veggies.  Lemon rice.  Soaked sprout salad--amazingly, he would have eaten half the serving bowl of this, left to his own devices.  Yogurt rice.  Even a sweet carrot soup for dessert, which sounds odd but wasn't half bad.  Many of the dishes were completely unfamiliar to me but I decided that I was going to try some of everything and I did not regret that one bit.  

Their younger son (a freshman in high school) has been studying a traditional Indian drum called the mridangam for years--he takes intensive lessons every time the family goes home to India--and we even managed to persuade him to play for us.  That was the icing on the cake.  How often do you get to go to a holiday party in the American heartland and watch an expert play the mridangam while eating fabulous Indian food??  I'm a lucky lady.

*Many years ago, before he acquired his current global tastes, my dad would stop at McDonald's on the way to a dinner occasion if he was concerned about finding enough that he wanted to eat wherever they were going.  Along the same lines, Himself preloaded a bit at home before going to this party and then regretted it because the food was so good.  Don't think he'll make that same mistake again!   


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Santa's Days Are Numbered Around Here (And The Elf Never Got Through The Door To Begin With)

Saw a post on Facebook or somewhere the other day suggesting that parents have Santa give their children smaller gifts, while the bigger gifts come from the parents.  Given that some families have a lot more money than others, this makes sense: not too cool for Santa to bring one kid an iPad and the latest XBOX or Playstation or whatever while he brings the kid's best friend a hat and mittens.

Last year, I went to the trouble of using separate wrapping paper and gift labels--and even handwriting and pen color: yes, I'm nuts--for the kids' gifts from Santa (as opposed to their gifts from us.)  This year, I made a conscious decision not to bother.  Just got to be too much hassle to figure out which gifts which kid was receiving from Santa, in light of the sentiment above.  Besides which, any kid savvy enough to be paying attention to wrapping paper in all the excitement of Christmas morning is too old to believe in Santa anyway, IMHO.  

My kids are 7, 9 and 11.  If Thing One actually still believes in Santa, I'm a purple dinosaur.  He's never said anything about it, and he's way too nice a kid to spoil things for his younger siblings, but his Jewish best friend accidentally spilled the beans at school years ago and I'm sure he's long since figured things out.  I doubt that Thing Two has ever given it much thought, and Petunia is still pretty young, but I guarantee that neither of them will be looking at gift labels and wrapping paper and if Thing One does this year, oh well.  He's eleven, for Pete's sake.  Boy-girl dances and Santa probably shouldn't coexist anyway.

Bah, humbug.

The presents are wrapped, and that should count for something, dammit.  Even if Santa's aren't clearly distinguishable.

And don't get me started on that damned elf, wherever it might be located.  The line in the sand has been drawn.  This far, no further!

Friday, December 19, 2014

On A Much More Festive Note

If you like soft, chewy ginger cookies, you MUST try these.  The best ever, bar none, and my go-to holiday cookies.  I get requests for the recipe every time I make them!  

Soft Molasses Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1) In large mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening till well mixed, 1-2 min.  Add sugar and beat till light-colored and fluffy, about 3 min.  Mix in molasses and eggs till smooth; set aside.

2) In another large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon.  Gradually mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture until dough is blended and smooth.

3) Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls.  Dip tops in granulated sugar.  Place 2 1/2" apart on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes. (Don't overbake or cookies will no longer be chewy.)  Remove from sheets to wire rack to cool completely.  Store in tightly-covered container.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Non-Christmasy Thoughts

Had one of those situations not too far away recently: couple separates, separation is acrimonious, guy gets a gun and kills not only his ex, but also many members of her extended family.  *He* is not happy with how things are, so lots of people have to die.

Then I got to thinking about some of the school shootings and the theater bombing.  Yeah, it's one thing to go after people who have directly harmed you, or who you perceive to have directly harmed you.  Not a good thing, mind you, but at least understandable in a twisted way.  But what about the targeting of innocents?  The whole "I'm miserable, and I'm going to make other people as miserable as I am by killing their loved ones so they understand how I feel" thing?

I'm struck tonight by how incredibly selfish and self-centered this seems.  Wondering why we see these rampages more in the US than in any other civilized nation of which I'm aware.  Are we less connected to our communities or just less able to deal with frustration and anger and disappointment because we are becoming a culture of special little flowers in which a consideration of the greater good, the good beyond our own individual needs and wishes, is lost?  Was at taekwondo the other day discussing the murders and in the class were an Austrian woman, the Indian instructor and an Englishwoman who had a hard time even wrapping their heads around the idea of something like that happening in their home countries.  Certainly not with any degree of frequency, anyway.

 Not really a reflection for Christmastime, I know.  Just thinking about the Spock quotation (as in Star Trek, not the pediatrician) about the needs of the many outweighing those of the few or the one and wondering where we're going wrong.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Good Day

Wrapping mostly done now, productive taekwondo class, Board of Ed meeting tonight in which nobody yelled at me for things that are entirely outside my control, and even a first-to-find on a cache that happened to publish near the Target where I was heading to buy stocking stuffers this afternoon.  Life is good and the universe is still rewarding me for being proactive and organized!

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's A Wrap

Well, not quite.  But at least there's a good-sized dent in the stack of Things To Be Wrapped now, which is an improvement.

My ongoing experiment has been a reasonable success so far...getting my holiday stuff done early has made me somewhat less of a crabby bitch this month (December is not usually a good month for me.)  My new Garmin came in over the weekend, the replacement for the one that fell off the cliff and my big Christmas present, and I actually had time to go out and play around with it a little today!  I have a little more shopping and a lot more wrapping to do, and some baking, and some cooking (breathe in...breathe out...) but it will all get done.  And I will NOT allow myself to end up in the nuthouse trying to do it all, either.  That's my gift to myself!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Muddy Pink Pants

I bought a pair of light pink jeans for geocaching a few months ago at Marshalls or somewhere like that.  They cost all of about $12 and the whole point was that they are light enough in color that I can easily see ticks on them...not exactly a normal selling point but whatever.  They fit a need for me.

I went caching Friday with a girlfriend who regularly gives me grief about the fact that I still fix my hair and wear makeup when I go climbing trees or scrambling over rocky hillsides with her.  Today was cold and wet and we both ended up dirty almost to the knees...she said that only *I* would wear pink pants while trekking in mud.

After a little thought, I decided I'd take that as a's not a bad thing to like looking like a girl as long as you're not limited by it.  And if that makes it easier to find and remove ticks while you're at it, so much the better!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


To my deep and abiding chagrin, I dropped my Garmin (the handheld GPS receiver that I use for geocaching) down a steep hill/cliffside yesterday.  My hands were freezing even in mittens and it just slipped out of my grip; gone forever.  I could see where it landed down the slope, but reluctantly decided that it just wasn't worth taking the risk of trying to go down after it and turned around instead.  Call it a triumph of good sense over hope.  It wasn't a new or fancy GPSr, but it worked well for me and it really makes me mad that it's gone, especially since I just ordered a lanyard for it after a similar recent misadventure that had a happy ending!  The lanyard hasn't arrived yet...classic Murphy's Law.

To Himself's credit, the first words out of his mouth when I told him about the Garmin were, "What the hell were you doing on the edge of a cliff?"  At no point did he give me grief for being careless with a reasonably expensive device, he just wanted to make sure I hadn't lost my fool mind and any good judgment it might still retain.  As it happened, I wasn't particularly close to the cliff edge* at the time and it was just an unfortunate freak confluence of force, gravity and angle, but it's good to know that his first thought was concern for my safety!

*I know it sounds bad, but I wasn't there alone, and I really wasn't standing in a dangerous spot.  I swear.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

I Cannot Believe...

...that I just ordered my ELEVEN year-old a pair of MEN'S SIZE TEN shoes.  His feet are bigger than mine.  They are bigger than his father's.  And the kid is maybe 5'2" right now!  Hope to hell he does some serious growing soon because he is going to look flat-out ridiculous otherwise.  Time to sign him up for the circus??

Friday, December 5, 2014

If At First You Don't Succeed, Take Two

NOLA, these cookies *are* ours.  :)

My mother came through with her tried and true spritz cookie recipe.  It's truly amazing how much easier it is to operate a cookie press when you are not trying to extrude a cementlike substance through it!  I mixed, pressed, and baked, Petunia decorated, and a good evening was had by all.

Holiday Memories

This time of year, the antique side table in my dining room usually holds a group of Christmas decorations that my kids made when they were in preschool.  Since all of them attended the same school, I have three of one particular decoration from their first Christmas there at age 3; a simple representation of Jesus in the manger.  This is Thing Two's.

If you look closely at the top of Jesus's head, you'll see that it looks a bit odd.  Therein lies a story.

Seems that the teachers distributed all of the pieces for the craft to each child before starting.  Thing Two apparently thought that the styrofoam ball was some sort of candy and he picked it up and took a bite out of it before the teachers could stop him!  At least they got him to spit out the piece he bit off.

When I went to pick him up from school they were very apologetic.  I don't think they were expecting me to laugh, but I did!  No harm done, and after all, how many people have decorations in which a bite has been taken out of the baby Jesus's head??

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Keeping The Ol' Ego In Check...

I've never in my life felt like a moron as often as I have since I took up geocaching.  No worries that I will be getting a big head anytime soon.  This is not fake modesty: I'm reasonably bright, but some of my fellow cachers must have IQs that are through the roof because the puzzles that they set are positively fiendish.  

I'm currently working on a challenge that requires me to solve a bunch of those evil puzzles.  The one currently causing me grief has about four stages and I still haven't gotten through the first one even though I've already found information hidden in the source code of a web page and converted it all from base-16 to base-10 so I can plug it into the online decoder for a particular obscure kind of cipher.  (I'm doing something wrong with the decoding, I think.)  For any who might be wondering, this is masochism at its finest since it is a completely voluntary activity!  I must be out of my cotton-picking mind.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Straight Talk, Right Here

Every field, rink, gym and arena in which kids play needs this sign, and stat.

Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I d...