The only tv show my family agrees on


I have fond memories of sitting around the living room with my whole family watching our favorite shows when I was a kid. It was easy back then as the shows were good and there were so few of them that it was an event to sit down to your favorites. Some of my favorites were the Flip Wilson Show (yes, I’m that old), Happy Days and Mash. Oh, and lets not forget classics like Mork & Mindy, and Taxi.

These days, it’s a little harder to find programing that the whole family can sit down to watch. Not only do we all have different taste in television programming, but there’s just not much on these days that’s terribly good for family viewing. There’s so much garbage on tv these days. If it isn’t provoked drama (“reality” shows), it’s sex and other things that aren’t appropriate for viewers of all ages.

So, I finally found a show that we can all watch together: Wipeout. Or, in the case of this season, Winter Wipeout. This show can be found on your local ABC channel, and is funny the same way America’s Funniest Videos is. Where AFV is all about people catching each other and their pets doing silly things, Wipeout is a about people trying to get through several levels of an obstacle course. It’s modeled after MXC which originated in Japan, but Wipeout is a little more family friendly.

I don’t know where they get the contestants for Wipeout, but they are all pretty good sports. Very silly people, but good sports nonetheless. And they are terribly unbreakable. It’s astonishing to me how these folks can take such a beating and still keep going. Here is a good example from an earlier season:

There’s lots of silliness to be had,

and lots, and LOTS of mud:

I am not sure why I find this show so funny, but I do. Even better, it’s something the three of us have in common, and we can all laugh together about. The nice thing about this show is simple humor that perks me up at the end of a long day. These clips aren’t near as funny as watching a whole show, as they generally have a theme. There’s a lot more on You Tube…give it a whirl if you’re looking for some cheap laughs.

Advertisements

Pre-emptive coffee, and the day Santa died


This morning I made the coffee, and I did it purely out of self-defense.

Older Son has been making the coffee recently and his idea of coffee, at the tender age of almost 18, is to put so many grounds in the filter that they are almost leaking out by the time the water has finished running through. I don’t often drink coffee right away in the morning, but the one day that I was really needing a cup I made the mistake of not making it myself.  It was so strong, it fairly made me break out into a sweat, so I didn’t finish it…I took two sips and there was so much caffeine in that little bit of coffee that I was lit up like a Christmas tree for the whole morning. That might have not been so bad, except it was so bitter that I just couldn’t get it down.

When I made the coffee today, I made it a little strong for me so Older Son wouldn’t feel like he was drinking colored water. So far so good. he finds it palatable, so mission accomplished.

So here I sit, reading blogs and sipping my low-octane coffee. I’m seeing a lot of posts about Santa, and it reminds me of the Christmas that Younger Son was in the First Grade. Younger Son has a very pragmatic, black and white way of looking at the world, and it didn’t take him long to figure out that Santa isn’t real. As the boys stayed with my parents after school, he inquired with my Mother about this, and they had a discussion about the real St. Nick and the fact that he is not with us any more but we celebrate him in spirit. He seemed satisfied with this explanation and all was well.

That is, until the next day when he announced to the rest of his First Grade class that Santa was, in fact, dead. From what I understand, there was an argument, and several of the children cried. Needless to say,  the teacher was pretty put out with him when my Mom picked him up after school.

Apparently Younger Son didn’t understand that while you may learn the truth about something, you don’t get to burst other people’s bubbles. I have no doubt that some of these kids will have bitter memories of the Christmas of their First Grade year. I can just imagine some of the conversations that happened around supper tables that night.

So, now that I’ve finished my coffee, and my story, it’s off to work. Happy Thursday!

No tree this Christmas…sad, yet liberating.


Usually we put the Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving, but this year we held off due to our new window’s being installed the first week of December. After speaking individually with the boys, I discovered that neither one of them really cared to have the tree or any decorations up, and both spoke vehemently in favor of leaving it all in the boxes this year.

I think there are several reasons for this, the first of which is glaring: Christmas is my ex’s favorite holiday, and he was always the driver behind the decorating for that holiday. The boys are dreading Christmas for a lot of reasons, and I think they’d just like to have our home be a safe haven where they can just push things under the rug a little. So be it…no big deal.

Another reason they could care less about Christmas decorating is that none of us are Christians. We are strictly secular celebrators of the holiday, being that two of us have Pagan beliefs and another of us leans toward atheism, and it made sense to both of them that we dispense with putting up a tree and most of the stuff that goes with it.

Hm…I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I am almost ashamed to admit that the first thing I feel is a little relief. For years, dragging all the boxes upstairs and dealing with the mess that is Christmas decorating is nothing I ever look forward too, not to mention having to put it all away again. Yet, last year I pared down the decorations and got a smaller more manageable tree so this year there wouldn’t be such a mess. I might have been looking forward to decorating this year…just a little bit.

I have a walnut decoration just like this one, which my Mom made for us.

Our Christmas tree has always been decorated with many handmade decorations that we’ve been given over the years, many of which we received from loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s a real trip to look at them all and remember the people who made them. I’m going to miss that this year.

It’s sad that our family has crossed this threshold, and closed a chapter in our lives. The lack of desire to put up the tree is kind of the last nail in that coffin.

Here’s the good news, and the blessing in disguise: We now have room to grow and build new traditions. Sometimes you have to cut away what no longer serves and start fresh, which is where we’re at right now.

This year we have a clean slate to start from, and I’m going to let the boys drive what comes next. I have no idea what it looks like, but it will be uniquely ours and will be something we can build on for ourselves. Whatever it ends up being, I hope it’s something they remember fondly, and maybe carry it on with their own families. I’m thinking that perhaps the celebration will settle around the Winter Solstice, but we’ll see.

I never would have believed that this notion of starting fresh and creating something new would feel as liberating as it does. I hope they feel the same way. I can’t wait to see what we come up with!

Digging deep…this morning’s blessings


With Autumn approaching, I find that I’m feeling hum drum, and just down in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year with the beauty of the changing trees, the Autumn smells in the air, and just the fresh crisp feel of the season. It’s a beautiful time of year, and yet I find the specter of the coming Winter overshadows it to the point of making me feel some dread. I’ve been told that we should expect 2 1/2 degrees colder temps on average, as well as 4 more total inches of snow this winter. We had a hard time finding places to put it all last year, and I can’t imagine trying to store more of the stuff. Uff-da….

Anyway, in the effort to drag my attitude out of the basement and into the light, I’m digging deep, with my trusty snow shovel,  for whatever blessings come to mind this morning, and they are as follows:

1. When the ground freezes and the snow falls, there will be no chance that I will get leakage in my basement from a severe thunderstorm.

2. I am fortunate enough to have two strong sons to help me shovel out. I also have some extra cash I’m going to pay my neighbor with the Bobcat to clear my driveway when the snow is so deep it would take us hours to clear by hand.

3. I have a have a nice warm winter jacket, which I affectionately call the Big Brown Bear suit. It’s never failed me, except that the pockets have holes that need sewing up. After 12 years, if that’s the only malfunction that happens, no big deal. I have a needle and thread.

4. Snow really is pretty. There’s nothing more peaceful than when the land has a fresh coat of snow on it. Not only is it peaceful to see, but it lends an extra measure of quiet to everything that is like nothing else.

5. While Christmas, in all its commercial glory, is not my favorite holiday, I love how everything is covered with lights at Christmas time. When everything is so dark that we hardly get to see the sunshine, it’s nice to have those little lights twinkling in the darkness. Sometimes I take the long way to where I’m going just so I can take in some more of the holiday decorations.

6. I like holiday food. Some of the best traditional holiday food is only made in the Winter. Lefse is a good example. I learned how to make lefse last year, and I  plan on making homemade lefse for Thanksgiving and Christmas. No promises about Easter, it’s just too darned busy that time of year.

7. Speaking of holiday food, Thanksgiving is coming up. Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday. I live for roasting turkey, and making the whole dinner with all the trimmings. I love to have people over and make a big day of it. I can’t wait!

Well, I supposed that will have to be enough for now. It’s time to get the boys off to school, and me to work. I hope you all have a blessing-filled day.

Rising through the hayfever, and other sordid tales of life on the Prairie


Ah, harvest time. I love it! I love the way the ripe crops look as they wave in the prairie winds of North Dakota. I love the smell of burning fields, and fresh mown hay. Unfortunately, none of those things love me back. Sigh…Bring on the hay fever.

This year, for some reason, it’s much more pronounced that in previous years. Or maybe I’m just getting more sensitive to is as I get older? That’s probably more likely. Today I have a headache  and my sinuses feel a little like they are full of Elmer’s Glue.  I know some people who have allergies so bad that they just allow them to take over during this time of the year. I figure that I haven’t got things so bad if all I have is a headache and a stuffy nose, so I’m going to get up and continue on with my day as though there is no hay fever. In fact, perhaps I will just say it to myself repeatedly: “There is no hay fever, there is no hay fever, there is no place like home, (oops…sorry. That’s someone else’s mantra) there is no hay fever, there is no hay fever…”

So, Older Son is working today. He worked yesterday and will work tomorrow again all day. I’m very proud of him. I was a little worried that his BS-o-meter was set to go off at a little lower level, but he’s stuck with it so far. He works in concessions for a local business that handles several different venues around town. If things go as well for all of us this winter as I hope it will, we’ll be able to get a 2nd vehicle and then he can branch out a little bit. It’s hard to believe that he’s going to be 18 this Spring.

Good Gods… My baby is going to be 18!

Alright, enough of that. If I keep going down that line of script I’ll be a gelatinous puddle of sobbing goo before too long. Last I heard that’s not good for the keyboard so…moving on…

Younger Son and I are going out for lunch and then out to my parent’s house to pick up some extra green beans they have from their garden. Then I’m off to visit a friend at her house. She and her husband are putting on a wine tasting, and I was very thrilled to be invited. Her husband comes from an Italian family, and he knows how to cook the authentic stuff that most people wish they could cook. So, it will be an evening of good food, good wine, and good conversation…with adults, no less.  I can’t wait!

Tomorrow, I have some things to finish in the house and then I’m contemplating digging up my front yard, or at least a small piece of it. I have been wanting to do that for quite some time, and with Younger’s help, I bet we can get it done in an afternoon. All the extra dirt and sod will go around the foundations of the house as the dirt there has settled downwards.

If we do get around to it, I’ll show before and after pictures. I can’t wait to see what my new front garden will look like this spring. I’m hoping to plant tulips, irises, lilies and hyacinth so there is something pretty coming up right away in the Spring.

But now it’s time to get ready to go. I’ll have a glass of wine for you too! 🙂

Coffee, how I do love thee…


I never used to like coffee. When I was little my mom used to fix me a cup of tea with lots of milk and sugar in it. Once, I came upon a cup full of what I thought was my tea, but it was

Good morning!

someone else’s coffee with a lot of cream and sugar in it, and it was awful. I never touched the stuff again from that moment, until my middle-late twenties.  My (then) husband, myself and our two babies traveled to Michigan to visit his family, and his younger brother introduced me to the joys of flavored coffee. Since then, I’ve been irretrievably hooked. It’s all Jeff’s fault…yeah, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Anyway, fast forward to now. I love to buy my favorite fluffy coffees at Starbucks. We have local coffee shops who also sell delightful coffee concoctions. My kids have recently developed a taste for it as well. Often on Sunday mornings,  one of the boys will go with me to Starbucks and we get us all coffees, pastries and a newspaper. What a fabulous way to start a nice Sunday morning!

Fluffy coffees are expensive, though, and it’s not something we can have all the time. Since buying coffee every day is just too cost-prohibitive, we have a coffee pot. Mom had an extra one, and sent it home with me one day when I mentioned the kids liked coffee. So, it’s been interesting buying different flavors and doctoring our coffee up with flavored creamers and sugar.

Drinking coffee isn’t just about the taste, or the caffeine. There’s something about the smell that calms me down during a hectic morning. It’s also a great smell to wake up to. I love the smell of coffee right away when I get up. It’s almost aromatherapy! In the Winter, drinking coffee can be all about getting warmed up again after being outside. Sometimes drinking coffee at work is a means of grounding and centering myself if I’m having a rotten day. Most days, I only drink one cup of coffee, and am lucky to finish it.  I know it’s a bad day at work when I’m hitting my second cup of coffee before noon. Gods help the person who messes with my coffee. Reach for my coffee cup, and you may only get back a bloody stump where your conniving, thieving hand used to be, especially if it’s early in the morning.

I have a cup of coffee sitting next to me right now. I’m just waiting for it to cool before I start sipping, so I’ll just inhale the lovely aroma and get a good start on my day. (Sniiiiiff….ahhhh!)

My kids are my parents’ best revenge


I had to get after Younger Son today, and now I feel like crap. I have told him time and time again how to do this particular chore, and he refuses to do it unless pushed

Facsimile of me pulling my hair out, curtesy of Google Images

and prodded, let alone do it right. Once he finally got going on said chore, I heard slamming of things, stomping around and nasty muttering. I’d had it…that was just the last straw, and I let him have it. I told him in no uncertain terms that this behavior was unacceptable and if he didn’t turn his ship around and sail straight, there would be consequences. He finally gave in, just did his job and got it done. Had he just done it to begin with, he’d have been finished a lot sooner.

Parenting is messy. It’s hard and mostly thankless, not that I think I need any thanks…I chose this. It was my decision to bring children into the world and part of that is following through to make sure they have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful once they get on their own. Teenagers being teenagers, aren’t going to blindly follow directions. They have their own thoughts about how things ought to work, and tend to be very black and white in their views. Things are either wrong or they aren’t…not much gray area. I remember being that way, and I am sure that my Mother has most likey just now fallen down in a giggling heap on the floor. I’ve no doubt that she has a detector that picks up on when my kids aren’t at their best, which triggers a manic laughter reaction. She did tell me once that my kids would be her best revenge on me. Now I find myself telling my kids the very same thing. While I can certainly wait to become a grandparent, I’m sure going to enjoy their kids exacting my revenge on my children for me (Muhuwhahahaha!).

What really chaps my cookies is that I had to be the heavy even when their father lived here. He rarely ever disciplined them, unless it was an extreme circumstance. Otherwise he was just the “good time” parent, and he had a tendency to do their chores for them, rather than make them do it themselves. Less confrontation and responsibility that way, you know.

The good news is that I have really good kids. They don’t get into trouble, they get good grades, and generally do what they are told. As things go, I could have it a lot harder.

Now the storm has cleared off and everything is back to normal. Hopefully things will stay that way for a while. I might take on the responsibility of having to be the heavy, but I sure hate doing it.