Things That Make Me Cold

When I married Josh, I conceded bed space to a ridiculous little black dog since I still wasn't entirely convinced that he wasn't just kidding about having married me. After a few months, I either stopped wondering, or didn't care, and vetoed the ménage a trois in favor of less contortionist sleeping positions. Enter Dagny, and my confounded guilt issues. It didn't seem fair to let the baby wiener dog cuddle in between Josh and I when the poodle had been so cruelly evicted. I rescinded my former mandate and Emmy relocated her position of Bliss between Josh and I at about knee level. By no coincidence about this same time I started finding myself wide awake at ungodly hours, like 5 AM, for no perceptible reason. At first I blamed the pain that was always there, waiting to greet me like a mean 2 year old wanting breakfast. But then, through chattering teeth, in my early morning dysfunctional state, I realized that I was in a constant struggle to keep the edge of the king sized comforter wrapped around 80% of my body. Let me add that by this time in Dagny's youthful evolution she has decided that sleeping with mom and dad is hot and claustrophobic and she'd much rather be pooping under the table and eating Christmas presents. Emmy was hoping we wouldn't notice that she was the only canine remaining nestled in the blankets, but my chronic hyperthermia has revealed her secret. Emmy has a special tactic of rolling and twisting and wriggling so that the covers all spin up underneath and around her in the middle and there is about a foot remaining on either side for Josh and I to contend with. Josh has craftily adopted a whole different blanket which he keeps stealthily on hand on his side of the bed, offering the excuse that our big blanket is too hot for him. Uh huh. How did it take me so long to uncover this sneaky plot between them to freeze me to death? At any rate, I've been awake since five, pulling covers from underneath a 12 lb. poodle an inch at a time and plotting her near-future eviction to the dog bed lying unattended on the floor next to us. How 12 pounds can be so difficult to move is beyond me.

Things That We Are Good At

We have done a really good job potty training Dagny. She is very smart, and has already learned that right after she pees on the carpet she needs to go outside for a second or she will get yelled at. She dashes right out the dog door as soon as she is done pottying now, whether there is anyone yelling or not. It's a pretty cool set up. We have also succeeded in teaching the girls how to keep their wads of long hair out of the shower drain, by sticking said wads to the shower walls and then throwing them away after. Somehow the throwing away part got lost in translation, so now our upstairs shower is decorated with multicolored wads of hair. It's pretty awesome, I am not gonna lie. Another great success story for me is the personal record I hold for most unfinished cups of coffee in random spots around the house. I have just barely edged out February of 2010 and I would like to credit the over sized wonderfulness of my new Pendleton mugs for this triumph. In my own defense, I will say that I actually found a half finished cup the other day and reheated it. Twice. And still never finished it. It reminds me of Grandma Schiffman and the perpetual cup of coffee in the microwave.

In other news, and in the interest of honesty, I would like to issue a revision to the facts set forth in my Holiday Poem: three out of four girls are rocking straight A's, and I will leave it to you to wonder who could be the slacker. Obviously this information wouldn't fit the smooth-flowing format of my poem, so I took a little creative license. And was guilt racked for two days. But now I have made my confession.

If my ramblings seem disjointed and incongruent lately, or even unedited, I would like to cast sole responsibility on a very small hairball who is constantly either eating Christmas Presents or running outside to celebrate her most recent urination, and the fact that I am forced to claw my way out of my Pendletony nest on the couch to save gifts and rugs. I might as well give up because I am mostly succeeding in forgetting about my coffee and I think the carpet is past saving. This would be cause for distress except I know that there is beautiful hardwood underneath that we are intending to convince the landlords to let us uncover as soon as Dagny is potty trained, but since the world may come to an end before then, I am not holding my breath. And no, that is not a reference to December 21.

Today is my day off. Yesterday I thought I didn't work until 12, but luckily I called in to double check, and found out that I actually worked at 10, which was precisely 20 minutes from the time that I called. Somehow I still got almost everything done that I had wanted to, except showering, but I just threw some jingle bells in my dirty hair and called it good. I have another long list today, at the top of which is finishing my coffee, and then beginning to pack the smallish things that need to go North with us for Christmas. -- Stand by, Dagny is eating the area rug.--  Anyway, I have been losing sleep over the thought that I will forget things like Mom's turkey roaster rack, or Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas (an absolute holiday requisite viewing, in case you haven't yet), or the stuff for Josh's tactical stocking that I have hidden in such an obscure place that I am not sure even I can find it. And by the way, yes, Josh has a tactical stocking, complete with molle strips and carabiner hooks. Obviously it will be filled with tactical tools. Like shot glasses. I have already conferred with Santa about this.

I also need to spend some time working on my eBay junk, shipping, measuring, messaging. One last push before Christmas, and every penny in the Paypal account means non-accountable spending for me! Or not. But I am doing quite well selling Victoria's Secret panties that I buy on clearance and sell for slightly over retail because somehow people who have figured out how to navigate eBay and set up a Paypal account haven't stumbled across the Victoria's Secret website. Hmmm. I am not complaining. --- Dagny is now UNDER the area rug. Trying to decide if it's worth unnesting to save her. Probably not. She can just chew her way out. ---

One major non-success in our life right now is that I taught Natalee and Aspen how to sew. How cute, you say. How mother-of-the-yearish of you and all that. It would be, but for the random misplaced needles I am finding on the rug, hanging off the coffee table, sticking out of the couch cushion just millimeters from Truck's elbow. I mean come on! Who leaves a needle on Truck's side of the couch! That's just mean! Apparently Josh lived as a child in a rental that had previously been inhabited by seamstresses of some nature who had a habit of dropping needles in the carpet. Several of these were relocated by various members of the Weston Family who would then have to remove them from metatarsal bones with pliers. This will not happen in my house. --- Dagny has weaseled her way on to the couch and is now chewing on the corner of my MacBook. --- So tonight we are going to have a needle safety debriefing, wherein I will pull gruesome pictures off of the internet of needle related accidents and strike a fear so deep in the girls that they will have to be sedated for Tetanus shots.

Well, I think it's time for me to go unpack the dog's stocking and dole out all of the chew toys we got for Dagny before she eats my technology. We are currently accepting donations of anything that you would like chewed up. And if you'd like a cold cup of coffee - stop on by!!

Things That Are In The Mail

I asked Josh for help on the holiday poem. His started off something like this:

“Jingle bells ringing while puppy dogs itch,
Kizzie is in the back room being a witch…”

Anyway, needless to say, I took over. The Holidays are a
magical time in the Weston house, so many cheerful voices
and happy puppies – at least that’s what I am going to read
into the shouting and jingle bells.

Hope you enjoy the censored version of our Holiday story,
and feel free to drop by anytime. The rum is always buttered
and the cookies haven’t gotten stale yet!

Much love,

Josh, Liv, Halle, Kiz, Nat and Aspen (and Truck, Emmy, Dagny and Rascal)

PS: Be warned, it's terrible. 

My Favorite Every-Things

(you know the tune)

Football on TV and soup in the crockpot
Dogs dressed like reindeer and
Movies with weak plots
Blubbery teenagers locked in their rooms
These are the things that cause parental swoons

3rd grader homework and 12 year old cello
Tuba sounds echo from attic to cellar
Backpacks with contraband high heeled shoes
This is why mom and dad feel abused

We have four girls
And three weird dogs One ridiculous bunny
Who thought that this was a brilliant idea?
It’s nothing short of funny

Girls all get moody and puppies like chewing
Rabbits don’t potty train
Carpets gets ruined
Nine year olds seldom take showers at will
Kizzie is lucky if she don’t get killed

Halle’s skiing
Aspen’s dancing
Josh is hiding downstairs
Truck he just sleeps all the day long and night
And Emmy is losing her hair

Kizzie takes pictures
Aspen takes long walks
Natalee plays with the rabbit and dogs
Even with trouble the kids get straight A’s
This means that somehow their parents are great?

Josh and Liv take turns working and whining
The bills are all paid
So there’s really no pining
Natalee plans to make all of us rich
Being a track star and concert cellist

Liv is shopping
Josh is cursing
All the girls do their chores (mostly)
If we survive through at least one more month
We’ll party on Waikiki shores!

Things That I Should Say

It's The Holidays, right? So now is the perfect time to bellow out long refrains about peace on earth and goodwill toward man, blah blah blah. I know. With so much happening in this crazy world, dozens of children slaughtered senselessly, random crazies shooting up malls - I can't even imagine where to start spewing my Noels and Night Divines. How my heart breaks for the parents who waited outside of that school. Waited, and waited, watching children pour through the doors - but not their child. How do you ever get past that? What can you ever do to recover. Aspen is 9 years old. She is almost an angelic child. She is smart, adorable, funny - all the promise of an amazing adult. I can only pray that she gets there. What kind of a world do we live in where this is even a thought? Just a century ago parents lived in the constant knowledge that a simple virus could be the undoing of their young child. The only virus that we have no defense against now are the unfathomable selfishness of a generation raised to be served. Every time I hear my teenagers yell at me that is is not their fault, I realize I am guilty of raising them with the same presumption and expectancy for a fair world and an equalized treatment. My 15 year old would like to tell me that she is "a good person" and she shouldn't be disrespected by me or Josh. When did discipline and parental directive become disrespect? My god. How far we have come. How much I have failed. The ultimate extreme of this victimized, self-absorbed mentality, is the kid who shoots up an elementary school because his mommy wasn't nice to him. I cannot fathom it. If there is anything I thank my parents for, it is raising me with the understanding that life isn't fair. It is about sowing and reaping, action and consequence, and developing the knowledge that everyone around me is at least as important as I am myself, if not more. Apparently Adam Lanza never got that memo. I understand mental illness can be a real thing, but so is a spoiled child - Real, and deathly. God forgive my laxity, and my willingness to spare my children from the natural consequences of their actions. I would rather lose all four of my kids to a random flu bug, or scarlet fever, than to have them wind up on either side of an unaccountable gun. I won't even bother with the gun control issue - as if someone crazy enough to kill a 9 year old would really let gun laws get in his way. For god's sake. Get real.

I am so thankful that there is still time, that I can still try to instill in my kids the understanding that only they will be accountable for their actions. That no amount of whining can remove the blood from the hands of a killer. I don't understand what has happened to our culture that makes these massacres so common that we expect them. Somewhere, somehow, some punk kid started a rumor about a shooting at Mt View high school on the 21st. While the cops are chasing down the smart ass who thought this would be a cool prank, we are taking a snow day that day. Is it really important enough to be at school that we will send the message that we don't care? I don't believe there will be any shots fired at Mt. View, but I also don't believe in ignoring even the most stupid warning signs. So my kids will get an extra day of Christmas break. Besides, we still have cookies to make.

My holiday rush has de-volved to the point of almost melancholy. It doesn't help that I've been in a lot more pain lately. I need to re-orient myself and get happy again. There is so much to be thankful for. I love the snow that we finally got, and the cold days, and the Christmas songs and wrapping paper. I love that Dagny the Puppy has unwrapped almost every present I have wrapped and chewed the corners off of every gift box. I am happy that I somehow pulled off all of my holiday shopping and Josh hasn't filed for divorce yet. I am excited for a road trip back to good old Northport and sledding and MIMOSAS!!! with my buddies. I am stoked to break in the new snowboard boots that we got a killer deal on yesterday, even though the experience promises loads of pain. Sometimes, it's just worth it. I am thrilled that I am finally getting some Christmas cards sent, even though the poem is AWFUL this year. Even Josh said so. There are so many reasons to be happy, to be thankful, to make it better. And I will. I am gonna take off my sweatpants, chase my delicious breakfast beet juice cocktail with a sugar cookie and don one of my merry holiday outfits so I can go sell amazing Pendleton presents to excited Christmas Shoppers. How could I not be happy with this ridiculously cute puppy around?

Things That I Hate

You know, I was having a kind of crappy week already. But then my period started. I'd like to revoke all of my previous complaints and start over: being a girl SUCKS. Being a girl with adenomyosis is even more awesomely horrible. Thank god I don't have something really serious or terrible. Turns out I'm a great big baby.

Things That Hurt

My  head. I woke up with a pounding headache that I blame entirely on a horrible dream wherein I was married to my ex-husband once again and we were moving into a giant weird house full of spiders. I was trying to run away with the kids but nobody could understand why I was so upset. I hate dreams like that. I wonder what causes them? I refuse to blame the peppermint candy ice cream I ate before bed. It has enough guilt to bear for the stomach ache that I fell asleep to.

I haven't had much to say lately, partly because I have been somewhat busy, making picturesquely imperfect (leave me my fantasies) gingerbread houses and homemade dinners, and starting loads of laundry which my Adorable Husband ends up following through to the fold an put away stage. And then when I sit down with my computer and contemplate something deep and profound to say, websites like Urban Outfitters and Victoria's Secret and Amazon all scream out to me with their amazing Holiday deals and I have difficulty focusing on anything except boots and things like that. And then there is the issue of the Very Cute, but Very Bad puppy who at this moment is shaking an unwrapped Christmas Present like a dead kitten in her little needle teeth. If I catch her chewing on something I can possibly live without, like an empty cardboard box or the car microfiber duster I paid $1 for, I let her be, since it's going to be that or something else. This morning she brought me first one, and when that was confiscated, the other red velvet shoe from my closet. At least she has good taste. And I will say the jingle bell collar was a wise investment since she is easily located now, wherever she is tearing up something that she should not be.

Right now The Avett Brothers are playing on 101.7, and sometimes I forget how much I love them. But the first strains of I & Love & You reverberate along with a chill down my spine and the warm fuzzy feeling of KNOWING not only them, but their songs, and their people, and the ideals that they champion in their music. Christmas Music is a nice little break from routine for us, other than Josh, who is already sick of everything except the California Raisins' version of We Three Kings, but I am secretly excited for January and making up for all this lost time with my boys.

This last few days, or week, or maybe even half of a month has been a little tough for me, on several levels. I've already done enough whining about the physical stuff, so I think I will delve into some internal stew that has been simmering since my Loving Husband, ever so tenderly, called me out on my bad attitude. Just when I was feeling all smug for my positivity and happy spirit, and self righteously condemning the pharisees who couldn't just catch the contagious joy that probably had something to do with an unbridled Holiday Shopping binge and endless espressos and parties and an excuse for a Whole New Wardrobe, I run face to face with the ugly truth of my selfishness. Why Josh couldn't just "get happy" was beyond my grasp, since the world is perfect and I have new skirt. When he finally got tired enough of tolerating me, he was able to articulate quite well, my self absorbed approach to life. The unfortunate thing about being married to Josh is that he is almost always right. He is graciously learning to allow me to be wrong from time to time without needing to crusade against my erroneous views, but in this instance, he was dead on and I was out of excuses. I was being shallow and judgemental and all of the things that I professed to loathed. So, in true contrition, I begged him for the grace to allow my little binge of selfish misbehavior continue until after Christmas, at which time I would become absolvent and depressed in response to the dire conditions we face in this life. No, but seriously, I needed a kick in the butt and I am thankful for a guy who can do it, even if clumsily, at least faithfully to me.

So I am still working through some of this inner process, which loosely translates to a mild slow-down in spending and more cautious approach to spousal reprimands and arbitrary judgements.

On another note - I just got called for an interview as an Emergency Room tech at the hospital. This is something that I will have to carefully consider. A grown up job with grown up side effects - like giving up fire season? But something that I would enjoy and would keep my mind and body active, and helping people... Pondering.

Things That I Concede

I have earned $2.86 so far from this blog. That makes me a professional writer, no? It is also the harbinger of wild financial successes in the future when somebody that has a lot of friends stumbles upon my incomparable writing skills and I become semi-famous. Because of this future success, it's ok for me to spend more money, right? Perhaps even money that I can write off as an "investment" in my writing? A certain loving husband chastised me when I used some perfectly edible food to stage some pictures that I took for a certain blog. The idea that perfectly edible food wasn't going to be perfectly eaten was more than he could handle, and he ended up picking the food off of the display to eat himself, lest it be wasted. Totally normal behavior for a husband, you say? Yes, unless that husband has a self-professed disdain for food in general and believes it is a "waste of time". Better to waste the time than the cheese garnish, I guess.

In addition to my impressive literary earnings, I accidentally picked up two hours of work yesterday when I showed up at the store on a day for which I wasn't scheduled at all. My wonderful boss let me stay and do some markdowns, which is one of my favorite things, since I can see all the amazing deals that I need to get, with the additional $4.00 that I was earning accidentally. Since Josh doesn't have any "big" or "steady" jobs right now, which means he half fills his days with hanging Christmas Lights everywhere except OUR house, and repairing 100 year old rocking chairs, I asked my marvelous boss if she could dish out some more hours to me. This was slightly puzzling to Josh since he knew even the part time work on my feet was making my pain worse, and cutting into my cooking time, but it all sounded very noble so he let it fly. Really the extra hours are my way of justifying my financial support of the store by purchasing pretty much every cool thing that is a good deal that we carry. I think Josh is getting wise to my ploy and I believe it is only a matter of time before he starts bribing said employer to write me out of the schedule. What he doesn't know is that I will probably just start hanging out there on my days off.

I guess if I was working less I could pay more attention to the ornaments disappearing gradually from the lower half of the Christmas tree that somehow magically wind up in tiny pieces on the dog bed. I could also spend more time on the couch, watching daytime TV since we got a set of rabbit ears, and maybe even vacuuming once in awhile, even though I swore I wouldn't vacuum since Josh won the battle and purchased an upright instead of a canister this time. I told him I wouldn't be caught dead using an upright, so he agreed to make the kids do all of the vacuuming. I guess that's a win for everyone, except the kids. I have to admit that the little vacuum we got seems to be pretty handy - down the road I will give you more feedback, once it has survived the Christmas Tree season and is still holding it's own. Other than the fact that is is navy blue and has a boring same like: Sanitaire System_Pro, I could almost like it. The handle folds down to make it highly portable and easier to park on the lower bunk bed of a 15 year old as a gentle reminder that she forgot her chore. After years of cleaning houses and using every upright vacuum that WalMart sells, I have a root of bitterness toward the gross smelling, ineffective machines. As if the broken down old Kenmore Canister with the electrical shorts and smoking powerhead was so much better, but for the first five years it was a good little beast. And at least IT was red. Really the question comes down to which machine disperses the smell of pine needles after vacuuming under the Christmas Tree the most efficiently. Someday when I am a wealthy author, I will have one of those gorgeous little Miele canisters that come in lovely colors with names like Nautilus and Olympus and almost make you think that vacuuming is sexy. But for now, Josh can win. I really have to choose my battles wisely, and I'd rather have a boring vacuum than one less Pendleton Blanket. I mean really.

Things That Trouble Me

So here's the thing. I got my self in trouble with that last little gem I wrote, and have decided henceforth and forevermore that I will only write about myself. Ok, myself and my boy. And maybe my kids. Especially my kids, since they will always be mad at me no matter what, and my boy, since if he is mad at me the only person that really cares is not even a person, but the puppy Dagny, who will be distressed that she can not reach both of us at night when he is sleeping on the couch. Any way, I need to limit myself to poking fun only at people within my immediate circle since theirs are the only responses I can reverse manipulate and control.

So about myself. This is actually an excellent time to say something about myself, and that is this: I am in a TREMENDOUS amount of pain these days. Like, take the pain I was at last year around this time, twist it, bend it in half and stomp on it and you'd almost be there. Sometimes I think I must be faking how much pain I am in to myself, since I still manage to muddle through work, but then I realize that I haven't made my family a decent meal in Many Days and I know it must be for real. I try not to whine, but this usually results in me glaring angrily at people who have no idea what they did to piss me off. I have discovered, in this last 14 months of almost constant pain, that being crabby and snappy doesn't solicit me much sympathy, but people are much more likely to do nice things for me, like heat up my rice pack, or get me an ice water or a shot of whiskey, if I am very sweet in spite of my pain. Especially Josh seems to respond ever so much more gently when I whisper sweetly that I love him but I am hurting like a son of a chukar. Another indicator that my pain is not pretend is the impulse I have had in the last several days to actually post a prayer request on Facebook. I mean, who does that, other than... oh wait, only talking about me. Luckily I have enough pride and dignity to not admit my need for intercession and so I just go on suffering. Mostly I was concerned about religiously discriminating against my wildly varied list of friends, since I don't have any idea how to ask a Buddhist to intercede, or a Hindu to Hind or A Zenist to Zen, and I was concerned that the responses on any such status would cause the next religious crusade and it would be all my fault. I have enough guilt to deal with, like for never cooking decent food for my family anymore. I just don't need that additional burden.

Another thing that would, at any other time in my life be kind of a big deal, but since I am in pretty much a steady 8/10 on the pain scale is somewhat muted in importance, is the fact that I married the Grinch. This is huge cause for concern when one realizes that the entire point of living for 365 days a year is that 20some of these days in December are jam-packed with warm fuzzies and ginger bread and wrapping paper and all kinds of wonderful, superficial things that remind me that I AM LOVED. I understand the crisis of commercialism in our culture, and the perversion of the true meaning of Christmas, which was actually some fertility ritual... but for me, every bit of the Christmas that we celebrate here in the good old, spoiled rotten USofA, represents the people that I love and that Love me. Family, Friends, Present, Past, even Future. I cannot get enough of the feeling that every silly Christmas carol and Jingle Bell connects us all to a common theme of WANTING happiness for each other. I do go a little overboard on presents, because I FINALLY have an excuse to give Everyone In the Whole World something that I just know that they will love. And I know that every time they see it, even if it is to put it in a yard sale box, they will think of me (hopefully with some guilt in the yard sale scenario). Josh is insistent that none of this is the true meaning of Christmas and that we should be ashamed of our superficiality. Technically, he is correct, as usual. But I can't help but thinking I am somehow failing in communicating the depth of my desire to just love on every body this time of year. In a nasty turn of events, it happens that my love language is gift giving, and somebody gave me an excuse. This is quite unfortunate for my honorary Jew of a husband (he has been legitimately dubbed this by our close Jewish friend) who prefers to make layaway payments on our monthly groceries so we don't have to spend over $50 at one time, regardless of what we have in the bank. I appreciate his budgety sense of propriety, and the balance he brings to me, most of the year, but come Christmas, I have run into the ironic coincidence that he has more or less run out of work, and every present I buy becomes the incarnation of a power bill or a tank of gas. It's a perpetual conflict for me as I look longingly at my online shopping carts and frantically search for coupons for my favorite websites to somehow justify the piles of boxes on our porch. We tend to find ourselves at odds every so often these days, and if he could only be human for a moment and figure out how much fun The Holidays are, presents and all, we would get along ever so much better. :) It doesn't help that both of our older kids are on an ungratefulness campaign to become Snottiest Offspring of the Year, and he is desperately tired of being argued with and chastised by two know-it-alls in Converse and Bobby Pins. I get that. I really do. They really deserve coal and switches these days, but I am fairly certain that at 15 and 16, I didn't deserve much more, and it was about that time that I was surprised with a green leather coat that was the answer to all of my childish prayers. Obviously since my Wonderful Husband was the picture of a perfect youth, he not only was never mouthy and insolent, but he also never got a Christmas Present after he was 10, which resulted in his pragmatic approach to a giftless holiday. Maybe I will get him counseling sessions disguised as golf lessons for Christmas. That might be the greatest idea I've ever had. Other than rolling the gingersnaps in sugar AND cinnamon before baking (this turned out to be delicious).

So, back to myself, my earnest goal is to have a real dinner in the crockpot before I leave for a long day of work, and to spend all 8 hours brainstorming a way to pay for more and more Christmas presents that will have no ramifications on our heating bill. Obviously I need a raise. Or to take up knitting. I had great intentions to make most of my holiday gifts this year, but all of my creative fantasies were dashed with the onset of a nearly full time job and the allure of a couch that has been sitting lonely without me all day long. Oh yeah, and finally finishing Battlestar Gallactica. Fantasizing myself as Starbuck is a nice switch up from Angelina Jolie, and also makes me feel less guilty for drinking and acting insanely.

I would like to add, lest I frighten off even more friends than my last spew did, that in spite of my pain, I am still quite happy, and intend to stay that way, in spite of my status as Mrs. Grinch and the stress of hiding online purchases. I love this time of year, and not even snotty teenagers or fiscally responsible husbands can steal away the giddiness of waking up to a glowing christmas tree, the smell of pine needles in the vacuum, and a puppy chewing on ornaments that date back to the late 1970s. I love my family, my friends, my puppies, my job, my whole life. If I have to hurt a little to pay the bill for having this good then I guess that's ok. This is heaven. All we're missing is snow. And some home cooked food. And more presents.

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