Saturday, December 03, 2016

The End of a Dream

It was Christmas 1982 and I was ten years old.  The top items on my list for Santa was an Atari 2600 and a Barbie Dream House.  Anyone who grew up in the 80s knows which Dream House I mean -- the ultimate A-frame house in three sections.

I was probably up at 5am on Christmas morning to find both the Atari and the Dream House under the tree.  It was pure magic and one of the best Christmases for me.  My house wasn't assembled like in the commercial though.  I guess Santa didn't have time.  My Dad and I put it together Christmas Day afternoon and we cleared out a corner in my very messy room for it.  I had to pack up my Barbie Town House, but this was WAY better.

See that big box with the glare?

I think I played with the Dream House every day for the two years it sat in my room. That house was just so amazing with all the furniture and little accessories that came with it.   The fridge had Barbie sized food and milk and a carton of eggs!  I had an entire ongoing Barbie soap opera that my friends and I acted out.  How I loved my Barbies.  Eventually the Dream Pool was added to my collection.  I soon discovered it was a pain to fill up with water and dump out, so we pretended there was water in it.  I'd even spend hours dressing and staging my Barbies for photos!!

Photo shoot!

A few weeks before my twelfth birthday, I decided I was too old for dolls.  I'm not sure why, but I guess I was going into 7th grade and junior high, and it didn't seem like I should still be playing with Barbies.  I sadly packed them up one by one.  My Dad disassembled the Dream House and Dream Pool, and away it all went into the attic.

I won't lie - I missed them.  I thought about my Barbie stuff often and couldn't wait to see it all again. It was sometime in the 90s that my Dad got all my dolls down for me.  I was devastated to find that in the attic heat, some of them had MELTED!!  Melted!!  My favorite doll was Tracy, and she had melted.  My very first purchase on eBay was a replacement!!!

In 2010, Santa delivered the Barbie Dream House to Valerie and Veronica!  I still had most of the original furniture and it was in great shape for being 30 years old.  I was thinking they would be as amazed as I was, but nope. It sat in Valerie's room for a few years, then we moved it to Veronica's room.  Valerie has never been much on playing with dolls.  She liked to dress them up and tie them up -- no joke!  Veronica likes to style their hair and would occasionally play with dolls in the house.  Honestly, neither really got the same thrill out of it like I did.

Veronica decided a few months ago that it was too big and she didn't really play with it, so she wanted to move it out of her room.  The Dream House sat in our dining room for a while until I found storage totes big enough.  The largest pieces of that sucker are 30" tall!

Once again, my treasure was sadly disassembled and tucked away in the attic.  Perhaps future generations will be amazed by it.  Or maybe someday I can have a Barbie themed room and put all of my Barbie stuff on display.

Until we meet again....

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Friday, December 02, 2016

Finally Friday!

Whew, it's finally Friday!!  I went to the gym this morning for a Les Mills Combat class, then I ran a few errands.  I needed a few things from Walmart to make  chili for dinner, and I had to stop at Kohl's to spend my $15 Kohl's cash from Black Friday before it expired.  I picked up some gym capris and a cute top and only spent $4 of my money.  Then I stopped at K-Mart for a minute.  Our K-Mart is closing in 10 days, and I have been stopping weekly to check the clearance markdowns.  It's looking pretty bare and I didn't find a thing that I felt I had to have!

Valerie has been staying after school to practice her audition music for honor band.  When I picked her up yesterday, she knocked on the car window and said she couldn't open the door (?) because her hands were full.

She had her jacket, school bag, clarinet, and this:

She got student of the month!!!   I'm one proud Momma!!  She is such a smart girl.

Tomorrow is Valerie's honor band audition.  She is in the lower level band, but she is first chair clarinet.  This audition will be a first for her and she is nervous.  She's been struggling with the prepared piece for a while now.  She finally got a hang of the scales she needed to know, I think.  She mentioned something about having to sight read also.  Big stuff, for her anyway.  She's so scared she has talked about chickening out and not going at all!!  I told her she has to try - if she doesn't make it, it's ok.  Not trying won't get anyone anywhere....  She definitely has my anxiety.  I know just how she feels though as I have been there myself with honor choir auditions.  Even though I knew the music and knew I could sing, I was always terrified.  I hope her nerves don't get the best of her.  So, if you don't mind, please send good thoughts and vibes to my ValGal as she auditions for honor band tomorrow morning!!

After her audition, I'm sure we'll grab lunch somewhere.  There's also a big Christmas fest here in town, but rain is heading our way.  Usually it's just a parade, but this year a whole festival was planned around the parade.  I'd love to see what it's about, but if we go will depend on what happens with our weather.

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

What's in a name?

My Mom told me several times she wanted to name me something else, but couldn't remember it when I was born.  I think she said Meridith maybe?  It was some other M name.  I'm not sure how she picked Melanie, but that's what I ended up with.

You'd think Melanie wouldn't be that hard as it isn't some oddball made up name, but it seems to be rather difficult.  I've been called every "M" name in the book - Michelle, Melissa, Melody, Melony, Melania, and so on.   There was a girl in college who called me Melissa an entire semester.  After I corrected her a few times, I gave up and just went with it.   Oddly enough, I also get called "Valerie" which is my daughter's name.  It's happened more than once with different people, so I'm not sure if it's the "eee" sound at the end they associate with me or what?

Probably the worst of it is " Melon-dee"  The Melon-dee used to drive my Mom nuts and she would stress Mela- NEE to these people emphasizing  NEE over and over, purposely throwing my name around.  Yet they still carried on with my being some sort of fruit oddity.   Annie wouldn't be called Andy, now would it?   I can't imagine how the phonics of melon and dee are derived from the spelling Melanie, but it too has been a regular thing.

My last name was also simple, but it was even more perplexing to outsiders,  Russell.  As my Dad said he told his teacher mispronouncing it once, 'like you shake the bushes and they rustle.'  The class burst out laughing at that one.  Everybody wanted to throw an extra vowel in there and I got called Rousell all the time - Roo-cell.  My Mom got tired of correcting people and just wouldn't answer to Rousell - ever.  They could call for Joyce Rousell all day long and she'd ignore them.  That wasn't her name after all.

So, Hi, Holidailies 2016!!   I am Mel - uh - knee.  Or just Mel, or even Mellie. The girl with that "M" name.

Just not Melon-dee.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Thanksgiving was quiet.  We ordered a ready made dinner from a local grocery store, Rouses.  It really is a great deal - $80 for all the works.  It does come cold in plastic containers , so you end up dirtying baking dishes to warm it all.  Still, you avoid all the prep work and cost wise is about the same if you bought it all and started from scratch.  Valerie requested a ham, so I tried the crock-pot-ham that was all over Facebook.  It came out great!  The kids like rice dressing also and Veronica requested a cheesecake.  That was the extent of my cooking for Turkey Day!!  We have lots of leftovers so I can get a kitchen break for a few more days.....   I foresee a Turkey and Sausage Gumbo in the future!!

I did a little bit of Black Friday shopping  -- online!!!  I stayed up Wednesday night waiting for the sales to go live and got just about everything I wanted. though -  GRRRR!!  I had everything in my cart that I wanted and 10 minutes after the sale started, I had checked out.  Yay!   Only seconds later, I got a notification that my entire order was cancelled.....  what?  I thought maybe it was a credit card issue, so I tried again with a different card and again, cancelled!!  I had Clint hurry and log on to his account and we started all over, but by that time some of the things we wanted were out of stock!!!  We managed though.  I still have no idea why my orders were cancelled.  Customer service said I didn't pass their security checks, but all of my info is correct and I have had that account for years!!  I sat up a few more hours after that drama waiting for Best Buy and Target.  Best Buy was an easy score as all I wanted a Fire Stick.  Target was taking their good old time and eventually I gave up.  I'm glad I did because the one thing I wanted was an iPad and at the last minute Target changed it to in store only!!

I hope everyone out there had a Thankful Thanksgiving with their families!!!
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Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!!

Trick or treat, y'all.  

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

A piece of time

Some years ago, in order to avoid long distance phone charges, I introduced my Mom and Dad to Yahoo Messenger.  It was an easy way to keep in touch with out the calls.  I could send pictures of the kids and easily ask a quick question or send a message that I was on my way, etc.

It dawned on me a few weeks ago that I had saved my Yahoo Messenger history.  It was two laptops ago, but I just knew I had the files somewhere.  I looked and looked, checking drive after drive.  I was beginning to think all was lost, until I stumbled upon some hidden files in a 'picture' folder of all places.  I tried installing an older version of Yahoo Messenger because newer versions do not support the old history.  No go.  I searched to see if there was something to unlock these files and ran across Yahoo Messenger Archive Decoder.  A download later and bit of copying and pasting, bingo.

There it was - a little over two years of daily back and forth conversations with my Dad.  Thousands of lines like a piece of him frozen in time.

It seems fitting today, the fifth anniversary of my Dad's death, to revisit those conversations.  Relive the moments when we used to chat every day about the kids, the weather, etc.   It's like I can "hear" him again.  As mundane as they are, they are treasures to me now.  His witty jokes are just as "funny" and I laughed through the hurt. Many jokes about Buddy (the dog) and lots of funnies from the kids.  I can just feel the memory of him sitting at the computer desk in the kitchen, typing away on the other side of the screen.  He's wearing a button down plaid shirt.  "Old man" flat front pants.  The shoes.  Definitely The Shoes.  And Buddy is whining at his feet.

The last messages are about his doctor's visit and blood work. Then came a Saturday and my Dad was feeling particularly tired.

melliemelo (10:44:01): how are you feeling today?
jack (10:57:38): Not good. Having trouble waking up so spending most of the time in bed.
melliemelo (10:59:04): do you want us to go over there today?
melliemelo (11:01:47): we'll go after i feed the kids. need me to bring anything? lunch?
jack (11:02:03): Guess not. Not anything you could do.
melliemelo (11:03:36): we can go for a little while & look after buddy if nothing else
jack (11:03:58): I've got some small frozen pezzas in the freezer and tv dinners. might eat one of those if I get hungry.
jack (11:04:13): OK.
melliemelo (11:36:59): almost ready. dont worry about the gate i'll open it when we get there

Then, nothing.  There were to be no more messages. The story of a life written via Yahoo Messenger ends with out an ending.  Just weeks later my Dad fell forever silent.

Thinking of you, Dad, today and always.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

The horror of family photos

Today's Halloween post is about the frightening event of taking pictures.  Family pictures.  We recently returned from a long weekend get-away to the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  The scariest thing we did while there was make an attempt at family pictures.  I always take our pictures myself with a tripod and my camera's timer.  The camera will take ten shots back to back so it's just a matter of me pushing a button then dashing to pose with the family.  Part of the reasoning behind this is pictures are expensive and the point of having a Canon Rebel is to use it. The only problem is I cannot see what everyone else is doing until I look at the pictures later....

Hence, the other reason I do not wish to pay big bucks for photos is this:

What. are. you. doing?

Oh. that. 

My youngest is sweet, beautiful, and so smart.  Something about staring into a camera lens brings out the sillies in Veronica in worst possible way.  It took yelling and threats and bribing to get her to stand still and smile.   I took around 500 pictures - yes FIVE hundred - and a handful of them are decent.   For those, I am thankful.  The rest is pure entertainment.

The struggle is real, y'all.

This kid has spunk.  This kid has her own way of doing everything.  Her mind is made up and that is how things will be.  She is definitely colorful to say the least.  I wouldn't change a thing about my funny little firecracker.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Killer Clowns from (insert town)

Apparently the states are crawling with killer clowns.

It's true, I saw it on Facebook.

There are groups of clowns going around trying to capture people.  Some clowns have machetes.  Some have knives, big knives. Some have baseball bats.  There'a tan SUV that drives around with no lights on and when it stops, it's dropping off a clown.  Before the cops get there, the SUV picks them all up and they drive away.  The clowns come out at 9pm every night, so you should stay inside.  Yes, random killer clown sightings are happening all over.  Yes, even where you live, even though I have no idea where that is, the clowns are coming for you.

 *rolls eyes*

Seriously, people?

I can't fathom that so many people believe there are gangs of clowns roaming the streets looking for victims.  From reading through the comments on FB, so many believe this and will shoot a clown on sight.  Um, it's a person in a clown mask.  A "clown" isn't a foreign species.  Putting on a clown getup doesn't turn you into a crazy, deranged killer.  If it were true, if anything, I'd think being in a CLOWN costume would make it that much more obvious and easier to catch.  It's the freaks in plain clothes that hide in plain sight that you need to worry about.  Not some kid in a Halloween costume.  I'm not saying it's not happening at all, but most likely it's a copy-cat trying to be funny....  like:

The cops here just picked up a couple of teenage boys for riding around in a truck with a clown mask.  They weren't doing a thing except riding down the street.  They weren't trespassing.  They weren't stealing or vandalizing anything.  Just kids being kids riding around.  Supposedly there's a law from the 1920s that was created in regards to the KKK that made it "illegal" to wear a mask except on Halloween and Mardi Gras.  I do not know of anyone ever picked up by the cops for wearing a Halloween mask.

I guess it's easier to believe something absurd than to think rational.

In the mean time, Homie don't play dat!

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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Bayou Blue Dancing Lights

We've had our Halloween show up for a few weeks now.  We purchased a second Light-o-rama controller and some RGB floodlights months ago.  Clint re-made the singing pumpkin face with rope lights and built dancing pumpkin arches out of trick or treat buckets.  Last year was a much smaller show as a test run to see how it all worked.  This year, it's bigger and better!  Clint tweaked the sequences a bit and he hopes to add a few more songs before Halloween.  Time is everything because CHRISTMAS is right around the corner, and in just a few weeks, it's time to start setting it up.  He has to basically re-do all of our sequences to include the new channels. I have a general understanding of how to build a sequence, but I've never sat down and tried to figure out how to do one.  We definitely have no shortage of lights. Last year we shopped the clearance sales and OH the lights we bought.  I happened upon Target's 90% off sale, and I got nearly $400 of stuff for $40.

Anyway, here a few pics and video clips of our Halloween handiwork.  You can find us on Facebook as well :  Bayou Blue Dancing Lights

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Saturday, October 01, 2016

Welcome, foolish mortals!

Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion.  I am your host, your GHOST host.  Kindly step all the way in please and make room for everyone.  There's no turning back now....

If you've been around for a while, you know that we are Disney vacation fans.  We try to go almost every year, and usually right when we get home, we tentatively plan for the next trip.  My favorite ride of all is the Haunted Mansion.  I just love how it is spooky but not scary.  It's so detailed that you notice something different each time you ride it.  Online there are all sorts of stories and webpages devoted to the Haunted Mansion.  Even through it's very dark, there are cameras everywhere so everything you do is on surveillance. People have even sprinkled their loved ones' ashes in there, which is probably not a good idea since they are just vacuumed up!

I first rode it back in 1974 when I was just four years old.  I loved scary things - movies especially.  The Haunted Mansion was scary to little me, and I hid my face on my Dad's shoulder almost the entire ride!  The only scene I remember looking up for was the Ballroom.  I don't recall riding it on my next two visits at ages 10 and 17, but I'm sure we did.  When I went to Disney with a boyfriend and another couple in the mid 90s, I wanted to ride it so bad.  I remember saying a few times I couldn't wait to go in the haunted house.  We got in the Haunted Mansion line and the other girl said the line was too long to wait, so we didn't ride it at all.  I was bummed.  It's a must do on our trips and I try to ride it several times!  Veronica still thinks it is too dark and scary, but Valerie happily tags along and it's one of her favorites now too.

Happy October aka Halloween month!  Today is also the first day of Horrordailies, so welcome new visitors!
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