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Christmas was a good one this year. It's a good one every year, but I like it when everyone's a little poorer than usual. We find more creative and interesting ways to give gifts, and everyone manages to find miraculous specials on each other's wishlists.

I did not get out of the wishlist gambit this year. :/ Apparently everyone was tapped out from my refusal to offer a list last year, and so I was forced into coming up with some ideas. We all tried to keep our wishes within reason.

Noel made Beignets for breakfast while we all watched A Christmas Story, then we did PRESENTS.

Boy did quite well for himself:
Stocking:
Popcorn, Pocky, various chocolates & fruits
Accoutrements Musical Instruments - kazoo,
Friction Racecar
Pewpew Laser Keychain
Totoro & Catbus mini-posters
Farm Animals
Chik-Fil-A Gift Card (from someone @ the rents' church
Knitted "watch" bracelet (from his classmates @ the rents' church)

The big stuff:
Cootie & Don't Break the Ice (He *loves* hitting the ice.) (Santa)
Melissa & Doug Blocks (from GayGay & Dankünt)
Melissa & Doug Wooden Sushi Set (From Adger & Dankünt)
1 oz. of Silver (from Ian)
School House Rock DVDs (from Adger)
Veggie Tales Jonah (from GayGay & Dankünt)
Mickey Mouse Pirates of the Caribbean Playset (from Mommom & Daddy)


Angel did fairly well, too.
Stocking:
Standard candies, popcorn, & fruits
Pocket knife
Figment Figure - 1982, Ireland
Utility Light
Before They Were Stars - Wrestling DVD
Good Cigar
Accoutrements - He got a Nazi in one of the figurine sets LOL
Pew-pew Laser Keychain
Collapsible trash can for RV
First Aid Kit for RV

Sealab 2021 (Ian)
Kindred: The Embraced (Dad)
Wrestling Gold (Dad)
Disney "Behind the Scenes" DVDs (me)
Outfit (Al)
Old Spice Giftset (Me & Al)


I made out nicely as well!
Stocking:
Candy, Fruit, Popcorn
"Love Pirate" Eyepatch (realllllly disturbing coming from my parents...)
Black Cat Tape
Socks
RV Log Book & Journal (!!!)
Batteries Not Included DVD
Parasite Pals pencil bag & Address Book
Slice Ceramic Safety Cutter (from Noel)
Magnetic "Tacks"
Pink Elephant Beverage Napkins
Pirate Anne Bonny Action Figure


Electric Water Kettle (for tea!! From Mom & Dad)
"Power Plant" Indoor Gardening Kit (From Mom & Dad)
Harry Potter Clue Game (from Angel)
Ancient Egypt Knowledge Cards (From Angel)
Disney Apples to Apples (From Al?)
Lego Pyramid Game (From Ian?)


All in all, an excellent haul, and no one spent too much on anyone. I didn't keep track of what all the rents & boys got, but a lot of the gifts were things we'd purchased earlier in the year, and just held onto. I'm pretty sure the Power Plant was a regift from Mom, as she got one last year, and it's been sitting in the red room all year. I hope that's the case anyway, because Mom *has* a garden to go out into, and doesn't have room indoors for extra projects.

Dinner was a masterpiece. Dad got a countertop turkey fryer for Thanksgiving, and I gotta say it's incredible. It sounds like the worst idea, but everything's enclosed, so it seems safe enough. Of course, mom cooked pretty much all morning and wouldn't let anyone help.

We all played Apples to Apples right away. The guys were antsy about it being overly Disneyfied, but it's basically just illustrated with movie scenes. I got in a couple good ones with Noel & Angel. On one round, I pulled "Brave", and said immediately, "No cards from Pocohantas." Noel just glared at me, turned his deck around and showed me a card *of* the princess herself. LOL

On another round, Angel pulled "Surprise", and I played "Moms". I've felt weird for a few days, and he asked rather defensively if I was pregnant, so I've been messing with him for about a week now about it. When he picked up the played hand, he got to mine, and knew immediately whose it was. He glared at me, and I smiled and said, "Now honey, wouldn't that be just the most surprising thing you can think of?" Evil, right?

Pretty sure I'm *not* in a family way at this point. I don't think I could handle another pregnancy, much less a second (third!) child.

Still antsy to try out Clue and the Lego board game, but we need a couple more willing people for Clue to be a really good game.

I need to upload photos something awful.
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Things for the past few days have been soooooo busy at work. But I am getting faster, doing better, and people are noticing. I also scare people at work because I'm so energetic and happy. Donna (?) who works in the pharmacy said I should spend one night with her and that'd cure me. LOL

On Thursday night, I worked paper with Peggy. I had at least 2-3 hours of overtime, but when I called to see if they wanted me to wait 'til Midnight, Lou said to come on in. This sucked because +Kyle and I had planned to have a couple of hours to do *something* together based on what I had already been told about watching my hours.

I have since heard that if Lou tells you to work overtime anyway, to talk to Store Manager Lori about it, because he's not supposed to do that. I have also heard that as long as you don't go over like 5 hours, no one says anything, so not to worry. When my first paycheck comes in, I will talk with Gwen, Tommy, or Angie in personnel about it. This way I can have the numbers in front of me.

Anyway, Thursday was killer. General Merchandise had over 4000 items, and of course, a great deal of it was paper. The whole thing was a fluke, because the big trucks don't usually come in until Friday night.

Peggy and I tried a system that worked quite well. She brought a pallet of the little items - garbage bags, Ziplocs, plastic wrap, paper plates, plastic utensils, etc - into the middle of the aisle, and I worked all that, plus most of the Kleenex type stuff. She took the bath tissue, paper towels, napkins and the rest of the Kleenex. We whipped it out like crazy, and made really good time. I think we were out of there by 7:00, and that was only because Annoying John pushed ahead of us at the baler and his cardboard got jammed.




Friday night I worked chemicals with Jennifer. There were only about 2100 items in GM, so it wasn't a bad night workwise, either. I was rather hyper for some reason, and disturbed her and several others with my pep. ^_^ I've taken to running for the far carts when we go out at 1:45, partially so I can just get in some running, and partially because no one else really likes to go out that far for the loners... They kid about me not bringing whatever it is that I'm on for the rest of them. Haha!

I can take 7 carts easily, even over the incline. Yar! Time to up it by one.

Anyway, Jennifer and I had a lot of fun. We made each other laugh almost all night...mostly she laughing at me and "the way I talk". She's just a country girl, and says I amuse her. We made good time.




On Saturday, Becky and I worked paper. We did the same thing that Peggy and I did, and everything came together beautifully. Nothing really special happened that I recall, although Jackie mentioned that Ozzfest is next month in Nashville. Ugh! I would LOVE to go. It's like $75, which is not bad, considering.




Sunday night, there were *4* trucks. 4100 items in GM, and I don't know how many in grocery. I started out working paper with Becky, but Gwen soon moved me into grocery to help in Aisle 10. Cereal, pop tarts, granola bars, etc. Melinda had me and one of the maintenance guys, David, working this aisle. Ben (who is from Detroit and seems pretty cool) helped us get set up. We took all the freight from the pallets, and piled it up all in the aisle more or less in front of wherever it was supposed to go. That took awhile, even with three people, although two of us really didn't know where things went. Some of those cases of cereal are surprisingly heavy! I was concerned that it would be too light to be any good for me, but I was definitely wrong.

So I took the side with all the little stuff while David did the cereal. I think we both did really well, considering that neither of us had done grocery before. It was definitely an experience. :P The work itself is not so vastly different, in that it's taking things out of boxes and putting them on shelves, but there are a few things that make it a little more complicated, and there are SO MANY different versions of the same item. It's very time-consuming, and I see why so many people gripe about it...but as it's basically the same work, I enjoyed it all the same.

David cut his hand with his boxcutter, and bled all over the store on the way back to wherever they keep the bandages. The other maintenance guys were ticked, because he should have known better and just stayed where he was, and had me or someone else get help. I don't know how long it took them to clean everything up.

We were finished with the aisle around 7:00 (I zoned while he took the excess freight to the back on those silver carts). I don't know where he went, but Melinda asked me to stay and help set up a couple of things, then Gwen had me gather everyone's cardboard and take it to the baler. Jackie caught me, and stayed to help because there were 8 or 9 carts by the time people stopped bringing it in. She's so sweet. Incredibly, it all fit without having to make a new bale! We got out of there around 8:00. I'd probably have been there another half hour without her assistance.

The real highlight of the evening was my beloved [livejournal.com profile] desireah coming to see me! Des, you look fabulous, and it was nice to meet the infamous Jason. I am thinking that we need to go out and talk over coffee when I get off work one morning, like say 9-ish. Either that, or go out one night when I'm off, so we don't have to worry about time as much. What thinkest thou?




Monday night, Gwen put me in grocery again because they're so short-handed. This time, I worked on Aisle 4 with Vicky. That's the aisle with pasta, sauce, gravy mixes, Mexican foods, and barbecue sauce type things. Ugh! Breakables! Being the ultimate klutz, I worked very slowly so as not to drop *anything* made of glass. One jar did fall off the shelf, but I caught it on my leg on the way down, so it rolled harmlessly instead of shattering. :P Whew! I did drop a few other things, or knocked them off the shelf, but they were plastic or canned, and didn't burst. Vicky said that not a night goes by that she doesn't drop and break *something*. She usually works in the baby food aisle. She didn't drop anything tonight that I know of, though, so that was good, and probably an exaggeration, anyway.

Vicky is nice enough, but very quiet, and rather dull. We really didn't talk much, but again the night flew by because of the nature of this type of stocking. I'd look at my watch after 15 minutes and it would actually be an hour later. Everyone kicked serious butt, because I got out of there around 7:15. The grocery workers aren't supposed to leave until *everything* is finished, but Miranda said 'good job, let's go!' A couple people still had their own cardboard to gather, etc., but there wasn't any reason for everyone to stay.

Today's quote comes from Doug, AKA 'Hippie'. I am going to guess that Hippie is around 40, because Jackie said she knew him in high school, so they are probably close to the same age. I don't understand the nickname 'Hippie', because he seems like something of a cowboy to me. Not one of the Wrangler Preppie "Look at me, I'm a cowboy!" guys, but the real deal. Still, there is a hippie laid-backness about him, so I dunno. It may take some pondering. He's got nicknames for several people there at work, and calls me "Little Chibi" because I was wearing my 'chibi' shirt the other day when he sat down to talk with Jackie (and I was already talking with her.) He's like a cool uncle who tells wild tales that are always at least based in truth.

So without further ado:

Doug: Let's just say you should never go out for the evening with an exotic tattoo artist and four synthetic Quaaludes.

My cousin Leslie and her husband were doing their shopping tonight. I was crouched by the spaghetti, arranging and putting some boxes on the shelf. One must address any customer once they come within 10 feet, so when I saw someone out of the corner of my eye, I turned, and did a double-take. So did they. Leslie said she barely recognized me, and they both were impressed with how different I look now. ^_^ Lucas was incredulous..."You've lost a LOT of weight! A LOT!" I just grinned and thanked them...what else can one do? :P

We talked for a few minutes about where they're going to church now, and what her sister is doing, and the like. Kim has a house in Athens now. Les has one year of nursing school left, and after that they're not sure what they'll be doing. They're considering moving, perhaps, but not sure where to. Leslie asked if I missed Oklahoma at all.

I had to get back to work, so they went on, but it was really nice to see them. I think I'll try going to their church soon. Kasey's preaching there, and he's always been my favorite, and one of the most edifying speakers I've ever heard.

In other news, I think that using canned tobacco is probably the nastiest habit ever conceived. If you're going to get addicted to nicotine, the least you can do is smoke it. :P I'd say that any drug one has to snort is a close second as far as the disgust factor, but that pinch between cheek and gum is just...*shudder*

So that was my week. How was everyone else's?
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I really AM going to post something for real soon.

Random quotes from Sunday:

Ian: The Dutch are working on low-carb potatoes.
Me: Oh good. That'll really take off all over the world.
Ian: Oh, but it will!
Me: Yeah, just like their wooden shoes.




Me: It's like spitting in someone's drink.
Ian: (finishing the thought): You can't not do it!




On being bitten as punishment for tickling me:
Noel: Look what your little rat teeth did to me!

Game Night

Jun. 10th, 2004 06:14 am
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Well, we went to the rents' house tonight for dinner and Mechwarrior clix with the boys.

Any evening with my brothers promises to be amusing, because we are all completely insane. Quotes follow:




Noel: Your nose is too big to be Xellos.
Alistair: Yeah, well your ugly is too big to be ANYTHING!




Ian: Sometimes Pocky is just Pocky.




Noel: The best things in life are Glico.




On being attacked:
+Kyle: If you continue in your current course of action, you will live to regret it!
Noel: Boring! Let's fight!




On Pocky:
Noel: I need a 'G'.
Alistair: This is the last one. Here, you can have half (meanwhile breaking the stick).
Noel: I don't want half; that's losery.
Alistair: Then you can have less than half! (throws him the smaller piece)




We use pennies to mark which pieces have taken a turn so we can click the heat dials as needed. +Kyle picked up three or four and tossed them at Ian.

+Kyle: I'm throwing money around like it's candy.
Me: Oh yeah? (Tossing a piece of Pocky across the table) Well I'm throwing candy around like it's money!




Noel: When would I be stupid and -- (everyone burst out laughing)




On our considering dressing up as a party from The Slayers for the next anime convention. First Ian said +Kyle should be Red Priest Rezo, and the conversation deteriorated from there:
+Kyle: Let me be the invisible man. The mute invisible man, so you can just pretend I'm there and I can stay home.
Ian: +Kyle can be the deaf mute blind invisible man who has lost his sense of touch and smell!




On Christopher Walken
Ian: Beware of the Anti-Walken!





Someone requested that someone write a haiku about killing oneself, and I started to, but +Kyle asked that I don't, so I changed it to being about killing someone else:

I wish you would die.
I will shoot you in the head.
Ha, ha. I killed you.




On 30+ year old people who live with their mothers:
Alistair: ...and if I do live with mom, it will be because I have a failed art career!




On Super Mario World 3:
Noel: Half the fun of that game is playing it!
Me: Only half?

Jobs

Dec. 30th, 2003 03:40 pm
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+Kyle called JC's for that interview time. Seemed to be a good thing, but Mr. Vaughn sounded annoyed to him on the phone. Worry!

Went to see [livejournal.com profile] desireah first thing. We caught up a bit. She seems to be doing well - in a band, and all, working. She's broken her 3-month record of having a boyfriend (5 months and counting! Grats!) She's basically the only one of the four of us (Joy, Liz, Des & me) who seems to have wound up where she planned. Maybe Liz did too, being that she's trying the modeling thing. Joy's married now; Vicky still hates Des, so go figure that one out. I wound up in freaking Oklahoma.

I can't wait to get back. I'm hoping to spend time with Des again - watching her play and going to karaoke and everything.

Got back at 11:00. +Kyle was annoyed because I'd thought I'd be back by 10:30. Left immediately for Decatur.

I started packing things, but went to store with Dad and met Keith, Logan's dad. Saw Logan again, got phone number and made him promise to call.

+Kyle got back around 1:00, discouraged. JC's doesn't actually *do* gunsmithing anymore. Nice of them to actually *tell* +Kyle before he wasted his and their time going in to talk with them. :P

It may actually have been a good thing, though. Mr. Vaughn gave him some information about two places that they farm their gunsmithing needs out to - one in Somerville, AL, and one in Cowan, TN. +Kyle at first wasn't inclined to contact either one, simply because they're more than an hours' drive from the Athens/Huntsville area. Dad simply mentioned that this was only a start: that to start there may not necessarily mean forever.,.in other words, he could keep looking closer to the area.

+Kyle was also a bit afraid of, "What if they do ofer me a job, and I find something better later?" Dad told him it's a matter of being polite and businesslike, just write to tell them 'thank you' for their faith and interest in him, but that an offer closer to our target living area had come up. He listened! Who is this person, and what has he done with +Kyle?

Hehe...no, really, I am indescribably proud of +Kyle and the progress he's made since we've been gone. He actually gets out, and makes some modicum of effort to meet people, or at least put up with them for a little while. He *wants* to come back to the North Alabama area, because he actually *misses* our family and friends. I'm highly impressed by the growth that being away seems to have inspired.

I did get to spend some time with [livejournal.com profile] desireah this morning. I've been afraid to talk with her for awhile, largely because I've been so terrible about keeping in touch. We've never really had a major fight that has distanced us, it's just been a gradual thing that quickened after I got married. When we get back to the area, I look forward to spending more time with her again. I doubt we'll ever be as close as we used to be, but we'll always be friends.

So anyway, we had planned on leaving out of here around 4:00 today, but +Kyle didn't get back until around 6:00.

They didn't offer him a position, but they may be looking to hire around the time he graduates. As of now, if they don't hire anyone else, they have enough work to keep them busy until June of this year. Imagine the waiting list they could have come May. It's a very good prospect, if nothing else. They did bring up their pay scale, which I take as a very good sign. It would be right around what +Kyle is asking, which would be plenty for us to live on.

+Kyle plans to go back to the area during Spring Break so he can look for housing. Cowan is about a 90-minute drive from the 'rents. Cost of living is about the same as this area, so if I were able to work part-time, we could pay off debt *and* save a bit as well, just living off what he makes.

We really hope something comes of this. Pray for us!

We decided it would be best to go on back to Oklahoma, due to me already missing two days of work. We packed the car and left around 8:00. I'd have liked to have seen more people: Rita & Lindy...Nathan, and maybe Sherry...Jinni & the kids... Ah well. I guess we'll see what happens in May!
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Today was an awesome day. Since it was a 'bonus', we went to Maalac's house and played MechWarrior (clix) for about six hours. It was soooo much fun for a couple hours, but we're definitely going to have to tweak the games...start with fewer points, or time turns, or just time the whole game. Creating scenarios may be another way to help that. Six is just way too long...makes your butt HURT!

Noel left around 3:00 to spend the night with James, so that was the last we saw of him this trip.

After whatever point that we decided the game was over, Ian, +Kyle and I Played DDR Max 2 on their bigscreen TV. It was awesome! We all suck, but at least we had fun doing it. I am in love with the game, and must save up for it as well. First must come the costume stuff, and of course there's the move to take into consideration.

Speaking of which, I should call Nancy this week to tell her I have the pattern needed, and will need to know what she'd charge (on top of cost of goods) to make it.

Around 6:00, we decided it was time to go and obtain food. Formosa Chinese Buffet! Honey Chicken! Crab! But alas, alack! Formosa is temporarily closed for remodeling. Oh how I hope it's finished in four months, and as good as ever. I have sorely missed Formosa.

So we went to Joy Luck, and since they were going to close shortly, the food SUCKED. Okay, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't even as good as the place here in Ardmore. Oh well.

After that, we bummed around Target (that's 'tar-jhay', for you low-brow Mart of Wal shoppers... ;) for a few minutes just because we didn't feel like going back to Elkmont right away. Nothing of much interest.

We hung out at the rents' house until 10 or so, then went back to Frank and Ava's.
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We got rather a late start Saturday, leaving the house around 9:30 to surprise Pam and Maalac with a visit. I say surprise...that's not really correct, as they knew we were in town, but we hadn't made specific plans with them. It was wonderful to spend time with them, and we talked as if we had never been gone...largely about games and funny stories from work. We did lament not being able to play a round of Mechwarrior with him. They seemed to enjoy their gifts: Habanero jelly, a disc of mods for Morrowind, a dolphin sculpture, and some chocolates from Braum's. They gave us a lovely throw with a snowman on it.

Neither one could believe how different I look now. Maalac said I am really beautiful now, because 'the outside matches the inside'. He noted my (years long) struggle with finding myself and was especially pleased with that progress. ^_^

They said how much they miss us, and Pam mentioned how few and far between real friends are for them, because of odd interests. Of course, Maalac is just insane, so for him to find someone who'll accept him for who he is is a huge deal. I can completely empathize with that. They really wish we'd move back to the area, I think more even than Mom, Dad, and the boys.

We were unfortunately forced to leave, because Maalac had to get ready for work, and time simply didn't stop for us. It was a quick goodbye, but we were sad to go, since we'd be leaving the next day and didn't know when we'd get to see them again. I have to admit to crying a bit over it. They've always been our best friends, and I really don't want to leave. Even +Kyle said, "As much as I hate Alabama, I really miss them." I wonder if he misses everyone badly enough to come back. It all depends on work, when it comes down to it, though.

Mom and Dad both keep saying, "when you come back" like it's a sure thing that we'll be back in May. I can't help but feel annoyed about that, even though I *would* like to be closer to everyone. It's just too hard to have to wait a year between seeing people, and then for only a couple of days. But even so, we've said from the beginning that we don't know what's coming next for us. We don't know where we're going to end up. It would be nice to be closer to everyone, but what if that doesn't happen? Maybe I'm just annoyed because it's too much like everyone getting their hopes up for something that may or may not be. Maybe I'm afraid to get my own hopes up.

So anyway, after we left P&M's house, Ian, +Kyle & I went to Decatur. +Kyle was going to have an interview at JC's Guns and Tackle, but something came up...

When +Kyle called Mr. Vaughn, he said that it wouldn't be a good time to come by, because of the post-holiday rush. They were really backed up at the store, but he still wanted to talk to +Kyle and see his work so far. Could he come by on Tuesday? +Kyle said he thought that could be arranged, as we had already talked about what was going on. Before we ever left, I told +Kyle that if, for some reason he couldn't get in touch with whoever he needed to talk to during my alloted time off, we would stay until he could. Family emergency. Well, it happened, and I stand by that decision. I have no qualms about it whatsoever. +Kyle is a little nervous now, but for the first time in a long time, I have made a decision and it's solid. I know that I know that I know that it's the right thing to do. Whether I'll have a job to come back to next week, I don't know, and frankly don't care. It's only four and a half months till +Kyle graduates. I'll work at McDonald's if I have to.

We hassled Maalac at work, and told him what was going on, inviting him to that round of Mechwarrior. We'll play Monday morning. Yatta!

We then went to Decatur Mall - Ian and I were going to DDR as we've planned to for months, but their bloody machine was out of commission! We didn't have time to play in Huntsville on Friday night, and now this. Bah. We bummed around, and Ian spent money he doesn't have. LOL! I found a copy of Gothic II for only $20, and since +Kyle was responsible and said we really couldn't do it right now, Ian picked it up. :P My brother is just wrong, but I guess it's a kind of therapy for him. He really hates his job right now, too.

Ian also had to pick up something for Dirty Santa for our family Christmas party. Well, he didn't really *have* to, but he was insistent. He got a rubber spider and a "Mystery Date" game keychain from the Mart of Wal. What a combination. LOL! We giggled immensely over the concept.

The family Christmas party was starting between 5:00 and 5:30. We got there at 6:00, because I had to wrap our stuff, and we really needed to let Washu out, and get her ready to take with us so Leslie and Kim (our cousins) could meet her as well. Oh well, we were late, but Zack (another cousin) was later. LOL! It was great to see everyone. I have a new nickname, "Teeny". Hey, I really *am* Justine now! :) Zack is really looking good. He's been clean for awhile now, and we're all really proud of him.

Dinner was oiishi... Frank is the king of fried turkey. ^_^ Yum!

Dirty Santa was a blast - much better this year, as there was no Gas-X in the mix of 'lame' presents. There were some really good ones, too. Somehow, I wound up being the one from whom everyone wanted to steal. I had my eye on a backpack, but Leslie got it. There was a cooler thing for sodas or whatever, and Zack got that. I took a DVD from Uncle Mark just to be a butt, and he coerced daughter Jenna to get it back for him. LOL! I wound up with a hilarious fake cellphone. The box is too much fun. I'll scan it and share the joy at some point. I may try to eBay it, but probably not...it really is a great gag. +Kyle got Crows, which are licorice Dots. No one tried to steal from him, which was just fine, because he loves licorice. Blech! No kiss for you, +Kyle! ;)

After that, Peggy was ready to go back to her hotel, since she'd be leaving around 5:30 Sunday morning. She enjoyed being around everyone, and I think I managed to convince her that our family is her family, too. She really doesn't have anyone up in Virginia. We took her and her car to the hotel, since she doesn't drive after dark.
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We went to Mom and Dad's around 7:00 am. Dad was making a special breakfast: Eggs Benedict. He hadn't even had them in about 20 years, so he fretted quite a bit during the preparation. They were pretty good. I'm not big on eggs unless they are *in* something, but the Hollandaise sauce helped some, with its lemony goodness. All were pleased.

Ian had gone to work before we got there, so we didn't see him for quite some time. We did go to Piggly Wiggly to visit +Kyle's old co-workers and friends. They miss him terribly, and we talked for an hour or so with everyone. Afterward, +Kyle and I went to Athens for a couple of errands. We took my rings to Osborne's to get resized. I'm down to a 4-1/2. Yay! My engagement ring was a 7. The girl who helped us out was very sweet. They were able to resize the wedding ring right away, and the engagement ring would be ready by 3:00 the next day. Excellent!!

We then went to Sam Goody. I had a gift card for $25, and we wanted to pick up Pirates of the Caribbean. We also renewed our Replay subscription. Yay! We have like $30 in bonus cash, so I need to get a certificate for that.

We went back to Mom and Dad's to pick up Peggy. We'd decided to have Rosie's for lunch, then would be picking up tickets for the 7:00 showing of Return of the King. This was about 3:00. Rosie's was delicious as always. I had the fajita salad, and +Kyle strayed from his usual Burrito for something new: a Rosiechanga. Peggy had that as well. Mine was really good, but I must remember to tell them NO MUSHROOMS next time. Blech!

We would be meeting Ian at the mall, but we went to Hobbytown first to look at their model train stuff. They had some really nice engines. It's going to be an expensive hobby, but we're looking forward to it when we are able to. The detail is incredible!

Hobbytown had a lot of other gaming items, model kits, and puzzles as well. It's a really neat store, and I hope it sticks around. There was a 12,000 piece puzzle of the New York skyline from before, which was supposed to be about 9'x3' when completed, if I recall correctly. It was absolutely incredible at 25 lbs. and $130. I'd love to have that puzzle someday.

We didn't have much time at the mall. Ian grabbed a quick bite for dinner from Sakkio, and we went to Suncoast to swap out one of Dad's gifts. He got a copy of Thunderbirds set 6, but already had it. He needed 1 or 3.

We ended up being 10 minutes later than we had intended to the movie. It would have been fine, except for the fact that they started letting people into the room earlier than they were supposed to. It seems people were going to riot or something. We still got seats more or less together, but we were the second row from the front. Neck cramp! The place was packed, but there were a few empty seats scattered about.

ROTK was excellent, and a good ending to a fabulous series of films. I may write more about it later.
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Thursday Morning - Christmas Day

YAY! Christmas! The only day in the year when I can't sleep past 6:00 no matter how hard I may try. I was up by 5:30, and *forced* myself back to sleep for...20 minutes... Managed to lie in bed until about 6:15 and then got up to start getting dressed, since I was just going to be bored anyway. :P The alarm woke +Kyle up at 6:45, so we left for Mom & Dad's a good deal earlier than we had expected. The boys were of course awake, having torn into their stockings as is our custom. We found a nosh, then dug into ours as well. Stockings are a big deal, so we always get good fun little things in it.

Stocking Goodies )

So, our other family tradition is that we can't touch presents until Mom and Dad are both up. Mom had been up awhile, but Dad usually gets up around 8-ish unless we make enough noise to get him up earlier. :) He and Mom stayed in the kitchen for a long time preparing the turkey for lunch and making stuffing, etc. We got started around 9:30, which was soooo hard to wait for. LOL! This year we had rounds of presents, then they'd go back into the kitchen, then we'd have another couple of rounds.

Peggy (+Kyle's Mom) called around 11:00 to let us know she'd gotten to her hotel. We gave her directions out to the 'rents house, and she got here around 11:30. We still had a couple of rounds of presents to go, plus her gifts, and she had brought some little things for everyone. It was all really great, and everyone had fun.

One of the best moments was when Dad opened one of Mom's gifts. He felt the package, and knew what it was right away - a Wooly Willy. He loosened the tape without looking at what it was, held it up beside his face, and slid the wrapping down, grinning. What he didn't realize at the time was that Mom had doctored it, and put his picture inside. (Dad shaves his head regularly, so this was ingenius.) So I snapped this picture of Dad holding up a picture of himself embedded in a Wooly Willy. ROTFLOL! The room exploded as the image registered, and we all laughed. Dad looked at the gift, and realized the enormity of what had just transpired. He and Mom laughed so hard they were clearly in pain. I just kept snapping, because the whole scene was toooooo hilarious! I'll have to post some pictures somewhere.

Peggy even had a good time with us, which was encouraging. :) She gave us a bunch of useful items from Kroger, as well as some money which is designated for the move in May. We now have enough for a U-Haul saved, and if we keep saving, we can get gas money and maybe enough for a couple of deposits. It's still going to be tight, but much more doable than it would have been without this gift.

My Big Presents )

+Kyle's Big Presents )

2:30 or so: After presents and cleaning up and playing with new toys, we had lunch, which was divine. Turkey, dressing, green beans, corn, Mom's homemade rolls, and my Aunt Kathy's sweet potato pie. Gosh, she could cook, and I'm glad that recipe did not disappear.

At 3:30, we left for Huntsvegas for the theatre. We were going to see Return of the King, but alas, the 4:45 showing was sold out, in spite of the fact that the girl who I spoke to on the phone told me that they hadn't been selling out of shows. :P The movies are really the only thing open on Christmas Day, but we've never had a problem with any film before. We got refund tickets and opted to try again Friday.

Back at the house, we lounged, visited, played with goodies, and made plans for the next few days. Peggy decided to go back to her hotel at some point. We left for Frank and Ava's around 11:00, I think. It was pretty late, and they were not up.

Christmas pictures are forthcoming.
lsdiamond: (Default)
Wow...It has been a delightful visit up to now, and it's barely just begun.

We arrived around 8:00 am, as expected. The drive took just about 14 hours, due to numerous stops involving the mutt. She was actually good for most of the trip, but every time we'd come to a stop in some town, she'd start howling, ostensibly to get out of the car and run around, but when we'd let her out, she wouldn't eat or drink, and didn't want to do much more than just sniff around. We didn't stop at every town we came to, just about once every two hours. It was rather interminable, and neither of us got much sleep at all.

We spent most of the day just resting, and fell asleep on the couch for about two hours. There was church in the evening, of course, and everyone was so happy to see us. *Kyle enjoyed seeing everyone as well, but I was exhuberant.

For the evening, we visited further with mom, dad, and the boys until about 10:30 or so, then decided to go on to Frank and Ava's. They were still up, so we chatted for a bit, discussing news and movies, etc. They saw The Last Samurai and were enthralled as we had been. They're people, so it's a good thing. :) I used to have a hard time dealing with Ava because I thought for years that she just didn't like me. I'm past that now.
lsdiamond: (Default)
...where the sky is not always blue, especially in winter, when it's largely grey with greyer clouds...

...where the governor is generally a moron...

...but where I will be spending the holidays with my beloved family!

that is all
lsdiamond: (Default)
Just got home from going out with Vera. She's always a delight.

She took me to see The Haunted Mansion which was cute. Not one I'd go see on my own, most likely, but for a girls' night out, it was good.

We then went exploring Durant. There's a lovely coffee house/buffet called Art's Eatery, and they have performers on Thursday and Friday nights - usually a jazz band, but a girl named Megan was soloing on guitar tonight. It's the kind of place I've dreamed of finding, and I envision spending hours there huddled in the corner with a sketchpad. They'll be closed for most of the hols, but we've determined to go back after they reopen on January 5th. The owner is quite a nice fellow. The place is relatively new, and just taking off, but with Durant being a college town, I think it'll fly. Am going to see if Lydia would like to go sometime, or maybe Aszra.

We drove around Durant for awhile...she went to school at some point, so it's her old stomping grounds. There are a lot of places that 'used to be _______'. How sad that some things change. She's still a bit bitter over the city taking her best friend.

We talked about a lot of stuff. She'd asked how +Kyle & I were doing, and I'd let on a bit about what had gone on, but told her the whole sordid affair tonight...The fights between me and +Kyle...the dance, and my mysterious attachment to someone I don't even know...everything. She's a good listener, but also a sage. Naturally, she's glad things are better between us, overall. She'd known I was unhappy before, but I don't think either of us really realized that it was anything more than stress from work, and from having a dry sponge.


This brings me to a conversation we had back in...September, I guess it was. +Kyle was out of town, so I'd gone to spend the evening with VJ. We rented The Banger Sisters and talked about everything as we do. At some point, she said, "Do you know what I see you as? You're someone whose sponge is about to break."

"What do you mean?"

"Well...your sponge is your relationship with your family. It makes you happy, and a stronger person. If you have a sponge that's wet, it's resilient...hard to break. But when it's dry, it's very brittle, and could break at any moment. I think yours is about to break. You need to see your family and get your sponge wet."

I hoped it wouldn't break before Christmas.


I think VJ's better for me than I am for her. I don't seem to have much of use or construction to say, but then, she's been around the block at least once more than I. Still...we seem to complement each other well, and she said on several occasions at various things, "that's why I like hanging out with you..."

At some point, Wal-Mart became a necessity. She had to obtain things for her daughter's class' Christmas party, so we milled about and looked at clothes, jewelry, makeup...all stuff she doesn't get to do much with a little one. I found the tiny silver hoops for which I've searched, and was going to get them, but VJ said, "Merry Christmas," and wouldn't let me argue, so... *shrug* Thank you, Vera!

We also entertained an employee in Housewares, Amber. We'd been talking rather generically about arguing with men, and the differences between how we handle things versus the way they handle things. Her advice: let them go on for 10 minutes about whatever they want, then say, "Okay, so do you want to tell me what's really bothering you?" Sage. She also said something about letting them go into their cave, but I think that was a reference to a book or something...

Anyway, Amber...she asked if there was anything she could help us with, and VJ said, "Thanks, but no, we're just talking about men." Amber piped up, and said, "I'll bet that, no matter what you've been talking about, I can do you one better. This guy proposed to me, then a week later told me I was terrible in bed, and the next day, went out and got a girl pregnant." Well, she was right. I have little reason to worry about petty arguments, and VJ said something to that effect as well.

So we went over to get her party stuff, and naturally noticed several cute guys. She's worse than I am. :PPP I'll swear on my own future grave that this was an accident, but one just okay-looking employee walked past, and I was pulling my hair back (been wearing it down a lot lately, and am still getting used to it being in the way all the time), and I guess it fell just right or something as I *happened* to glance at this guy. She turns around and looks at me, and goes, "You FLIRT!"

"Hey!"

"Not that that's a bad thing, but..."

"See, VJ, that's the thing...that's just who I am, you know? Pretty much anyone who knows me figures this out fairly quickly. Even so, I wasn't even trying that time, just getting hair out of the way."

We were highly amused. But then, when she was "in her prime" as she'd say, she could walk into a room, and everything would stop for her...just for a moment, but there was that breath of silence. I believe it. I find it hard to believe it doesn't happen to her anymore, but she says that's passed now.

So after the dreaded Mart of Wal, we stopped for coffee at a generic Waffle House, which wasn't bad. I guess we sat and talked for another hour or so... We talked a lot about memories and how there are always special ones that you never forget...you keep them for yourself, and when there's a rainy day, you can take one out, relive it for just a little while, or maybe for the whole day...and it's yours, and no one can take it away from you.

We talk about everything, really. She's really my wiser sister when it comes down to things. I find it so hard to believe there's 10-years difference between us. I've always gotten on well with people of all ages, but we're so alike in a lot of ways. We're often in similar places in our lives. I'm not sure that's such a good thing, really...are lives truly so cycular, or do we just never really learn from our mistakes? Nonetheless, she's someone I needed to know, and I'm so thankful for her.

On the way home, she brought up one of her own theories...men are pets, or at least, we should treat them as such. I couldn't imagine this being like her mother's philosophy that men are toys: to be used and/or put away as needed or desired, but I listened.

"Men especially are like cats. In my experience, you only really get to pet them when they want to be petted, and generally they don't need you or show you affection as often, or in the way you'd like."

I couldn't see where this was going, but it seemed uncharacteristic. Edith is of the opinion that we really don't need men at all, but that they need us. I suppose there's some truth to that, but not perhaps to the extent she takes it. Vera takes quite a different approach, usually, so I wondered how she'd tie this together.

"Pets," quoth she, "are something that we bring into our house. We feed them, we clean up after them, and we love them. They don't give us anything, really, back in return. They don't cook. They don't clean. They don't really *do* anything, and we don't really expect anything of them. But we love them anyway. Now why do we treat animals like this, and we won't even treat our fellow human beings the same way? We should treat each other - everyone - like pets. When I'm having a hard time with Brian, I try to remember that."

Somehow, the subject of extended families came up. She doesn't get along with her in-laws, which is a shame. It's not so much that they hate her as they don't understand her... It's sad to hear that, because I look at how Peggy is with me. She tells me every time how much she loves me, and how I'm like her own daughter to her. She tells +Kyle how wonderful she thinks I am. I always know, because he looks at me and says into the phone to her, "Yeah, she is, isn't she?"

Somehow else, the conversation of extended families led into the need for spiritual guidance, particularly in the home. I guess it was because we agreed that those who do not command respect naturally often resort to saying, "Well, I'm the man of the household, thus _________", and do not deserve the respect they desire. Conversely, those who command respect do not need to say that, because it's a given. Anyway, spiritual guidance... Somehow our evenings always end with some conversation about God. We really should get together and just study.

"You know," she said, "that love you've been seeking? There's somewhere you can go for that that will be there even when +Kyle fails you. Awhile back, I was talking with a friend, and they asked, 'So how are you and Brian doing?', 'Not too good,' I said. 'Well, you don't seem terribly worried about it.' 'No, because even though Brian may not be in love with me anymore, I found a love that makes me not care about that.'"

I thought about how often I've searched for that love and never really found it to the degree I've wanted. Maybe I never really tried hard enough. Maybe I was expecting the wrong kind of love. I told her I was at a place where I wanted it, but at the same time, I didn't really know if I cared enough to try to get it.

"Oh, I've been there, too. I've found it, and lost it, and found it again, and lost it again...we go through these cycles, but we can always find it again if we want it. Some of us just don't want it badly enough." She went on to talk about David and Abigail, but now I'm not sure where she was going with that. By then, we were almost back to her house, anyway.

I'm so thankful for my lovely, wonderful friend. She always cheers me, and always has good things to really edify and uplift me. She says I do the same for her, but I don't see how. All I can do is hope to spend much more time with her than I've been able to up to this point...with only 5 months left, I realize how much I'm going to miss her when we do move.

Christmas

Dec. 29th, 2002 10:00 pm
lsdiamond: (Default)
My parents paid the way for us to come visit for the holidays. Thank you, mom and dad!!!

We were off for the whole week of Christmas at work, due to the way the publication dates fell, so it made for a good visit. We saw lots of friends, and most importantly family.

Everyone says we look great, and are amazed at my successes with weight loss. Tommie has also been on WW, but is on a plateau right now. She had prepared meals suitable for WW for the family Christmas get-together, so that was excellent. I didn't have to worry about keeping up with points too much.

So much happened. We had to leave right after the family event, so we could drive all day Sunday and get back here. I didn't want to leave ever again, and cried for a long time. I miss everyone terribly. I know +Kyle does, too, but never to the extent I do. He just wasn't raised in a close family unit, so he doesn't "need" it as much.

But enough negativity. The new year is soon to be upon us.

January 2012

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