Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Christmas. Every year I make a personal pledge- “We will stay calm!”

In the words of Wayne Campbell- “Shyeah, right.” I saw for the first time just how crazy Christmas is, because I myself was calmer. I was watching all the activity spin around me, out of control. Of course I knew I had no control over it, and I wonder why I had ever TRIED to have control over it in the past.

My foster-parents came out for the week prior to Christmas. The girls absolutely love them, as they love my girls. Mother took them to see “The Nutcracker”, performed by Ballet Arizona and the Phoenix Symphony. Not a small event. New dresses, new shoes. The three ladies went off dressed to the nines for their afternoon away. Bret and my Dad went to a Suns basketball game, and I had a little peace. Which was good because I was battling a bit of a stomach virus.

So Christmas Eve comes, and I am feeling better- which is good because I wanted to make sure I got a bowl of chili! Bret is running around finishing up his shopping. I tried to work, needing to finish up a new part of my business I want to debut the beginning of January, but with the phone ringing off the hook and knowing my home would be full of people later, I gave up. Started the chili, grated the cheese and chopped the onion. Baked cookies. Samantha and I wrapped her present for Allison while she and Bret were SHOPPING for Samantha’s. Went back down and started the cider simmering. Now as I look up and see it is 5pm, people are due to arrive at 6:30 and husband isn’t home yet.

I change into my clothes for the evening. Curl my hair, a bit of makeup. My mother (maternal) calls wondering why I haven’t picked her up yet (she doesn’t drive). I sigh and tell her that Bret said he would be along. As I hang up the phone I have a bit of panic. My foster-parents and my mother will be under my roof together. Hmmm. Obviously my foster-parents do not have a good view of my mother, considering how I came to be with them in the first place. Usually I keep them separate when they come to visit. Not an easy task at Christmastime I suppose.

By now I just want to crawl under a rock. Do all these people have to come over? Can I just hide in my room? I’m usually excited about this event- what is different?

But the evening goes well, and I am actually having a good time. Many comment on why I’m so calm with a houseful of people. I smile and shrug- the nice thing about buffet-style open houses is that they pretty much run themselves. Bret keeps asking if I’m ok, since I’m being so quiet. I resist smacking him, how little he knows me and how I’ve changed over these past months.

Allison and Samantha have prepared a Christmas dance for everyone. Samantha, who really is just like me, chickens out at the end and Allison performs alone. Of course, now that I think about it, Allison is like me too. Weird, to see so many sides of me and who I am in my two beautiful daughters. I like to think I’m the dominant force in them, but then I see how controlling Allison can be towards everything- especially her sister- and I know Bret is in them too.

Then we all settle and Bret (with Allison’s help) reads “The Night Before Christmas”. The children gather at his feet, the adults in the background. We have done this every year now for 8 years. We have two extra children over, our next door neighbor Kimber and her son Hunter and daughter Brooke. Hunter is 3 and in Sam’s class at school. Brooke is 9 weeks old. Samantha and Hunter are joined at the hip, and I laugh because I know EXACTLY who is keeping them joined that way!

As soon as the story is over we go outside and sprinkle reindeer dust around so they know where to land. Just looking at the magic in their eyes warms me. And, I have never seen my children get to bed so quickly! Company then takes the hint and leaves.

Of course our evening is not over yet. After cleaning up from company, Bret brings in the main gift (an air hockey table) and begins to assemble it, while I start filling the stockings. Then I realize I didn’t get a thing for Bret’s stocking. He admits he didn’t get anything for mine either. We laugh at the fact that Christmas is no longer about us.

2am we collapse into bed. What wakes us in the morning? The sound of glee from our children? Noooooo. The doorbell, as my parents come over BRIGHT AND EARLY and wake us, thinking the children would be awake all ready. Do they feel bad? No, thinking that we DESERVE this since its Christmas. Bret looks ready to cry, and I grumble to the kitchen to make coffee. THEN the kids come downstairs.

Overall it’s of course a great morning, and I marvel in the fact that my older daughter still believes in the magic. My parents are passed out on the sofas within two hours.

I am just glad it is over, so much fuss over such a small moment. In some ways, every day should be Christmas. In others, it should come as often as a leap year.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving at the Cutler's

Turkey, wine, pie, and a guitar. That is all that is needed to make the perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

Me and Bret grumble to each other every year. “Why do we bother doing this?” All we do all day is run around, cooking. Me, I like to slow-cook the bird, so I’m up at 6 to get it in the oven for a 4pm dinner. In 10 years we have not gotten salmonella yet, so I figure either we’re REALLY lucky or we just have quite the stomachs. I’m SO nutty about it too- I will baste that thing EVERY hour on the hour. All day long.

My sister-in-law and her beau have come every year since Allison was a baby for Thanksgiving week. This is the 8th year. Since we’ve moved into a bigger house, they have been staying with us. It has its good and bad moments, but mostly it’s great. Valina loves helping out with the kids, and they BOTH have been putting them to bed, which of course is a wonderful break for me. Alan always brings his guitar, and entertains the children (ok and me) with his tunes. Mainly Beatles, which makes me miss my dad, some Neil Young, which makes me miss another…

THIS year has been extra special- because my dad and his wife have come out for the holiday. Granted, I just saw them in August, but they actually FLEW on a PLANE, which is really amazing. To open that front door and see my Daddy standing there- oh man I just burst into tears and hugged him. After awhile he asked if he could come in and continue the hugging.

I have such a great relationship with my Dad. I honestly think it’s because I didn’t grow up with him. I didn’t witness all the garbage of the past, so I never was able to build any negative feelings about him. It’s like we both worked out all our stuff and grew up BEFORE getting to know each other- a true clean slate. I’ve also learned that I’m a lot like him, and I’m happy about that, unlike my mother…but that is another story for another day.

I knew that Alan and my dad would get on well, music and a guitar between them. So with the beautiful sunshine and the windows open, I heard singing and playing in the backyard while I finished prepping for the onslaught on in-laws that were about to arrive.

Something else I learned: Take a turkey out of the oven and everyone will gather around it like vultures. Poor Bret! Trying to carve the darn thing with all the fingers in the way! So I slapped hands away whilst Bret carved. Of course by then the bottles of wine had been opened as well, which most likely contributed to the hunger.

After dinner, everyone sat around trying to remember every folk song or tune they could think of. Drinking, laughing, singing. My Daddy played my favorite Beatles tune for me. We sang John Denver of course so the girls would join in. We laughed at the words we couldn’t remember.

It’s nice doing the cooking. You don’t have to clean! While I sat and chatted, everyone else cleaned up dishes. So wonderful. After everyone left, we sat around and the girl’s danced to songs on the radio, while the adults sat and digested. I looked around at everyone and understood why I am thankful.

I always remember at the end of the day why we do this every year. Then I look forward to next year.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Random Things About ME

Decided to move this off the side bar... then just link to it.
Neatness counts, right? :-)

Random Things About Me
NicknameDani, Mom, Dope
BirthdayApril 28
Eye & Hair ColorBrown/ Brown, Gray, Red
Right or Left-HandedLeft
Single or MarriedMarried
Weaknesscoffee and intelligent men
Fearscoffee and intelligent men
Most Overused Phrase in Instant MessengerLMAO!
First thought waking upcoffee and intelligent men
Bedtimesomewhere between 11pm-3am
Own a Gunabsolutely not
Most Missed Memorylong drives going nowhere me and hubby used to take while dating
Cappuccino or Coffeeyes
Chocolate or Vanillammmm...vanilla
Swear-erI have $2,000 in quarters in swear jar
Been In Lovemmmm... love
Motion Sicknessdefinitely
Think You're attractivewell I'm not ugly
Play an instrumentviola
Been Drunkpurple nurple!
Been called a teasewouldn't YOU like to know... ;)
How do you want to dieold and painlessly
What do you want to be when you grow upI'll get back to you
Country you would most like to visitItaly (Tuscany)
Number of CD's owneda whole lot less now thanks to iPod
Piercings (and how many)4 (wouldn't YOU like to know...) ;)
Tattoos (and how many)not yet
Ever Been Hospitalizedyes- three times
Do You have ADDsome would call it that
Currently in CD playernada- but I've been on an acoustic kick lately
Favorite Christmas SongLittle Drummer Boy/Do You Hear What I Hear?
exerciseuh, sure... hey does typing count?
Liberal or ConservativePinko
Secret weapon to lure opposite (or same) sexmy mouth (do with that what you will)
Five Things you regularly drinkCoffee, Tea, Diet Vanilla Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, Water,
What's under your bedPillows, secret lover
Current Worrythat he'll escape
Current Loveteeheee...
Current Hatecurrent administration
Favorite Place to beEast Coast
Least Favorite Place to beDentist
Favorite ColorsPurples
Where Do You Want to LiveEast Coast
Number of pillows you sleep with3
What were you doing at 12am last nightWatching Sex In The City and playing on Internet
What will you be doing in 10 yearshopefully watching older daughter graduate high school
Burn or TanBurn then tan
Do You want to be a pirateNo but I would like to be pirate wench
TV's in home3
Computers in home2 and lap top
Children in home4 (two daughters, husband, dog)
What do you driveRed Honda Minivan
Get along with parentsyes all 36 of them
Favorite SeasonWinter
Dogs or catsDogs
Last person you yelled atunfortunately my children.. :-(
Are you paranoidand neurotic...
Do You Believe in Godyes
Do You Believe in Astrologyyes
Do You Believe in Yourselfworking on it
Movie star you would make out withEwan McGregor
Favorite Smellvanilla
Disney or Looney TunesEh... what do you think doc?
Talker or listenerListener
Lead or FollowSupporter
What actor would you want to be you in a movieSandra Bullock
Favorite room in your homeLiving room away from tv
What's your sign, babyTaurus
Your moon is inScorpio
Do you know what that meanstoo well
How many friends do you have that you consider close5
How many are from the internet3
How many internet friends have you met in person4
Favorite band from the 80'sDuran Duran
Current job/careerSAHM, WAHM, WHEW!
want to change it?yes... and no
how many hobbies5 I think
favorite onethe third one
One thing you are most self-conscious aboutmy gray hair
Do you trust American newsnope
Do you trust your governmentdouble nope
Optimist or PessimistI float
Believe in Global WarmingYes