Sunday, December 17, 2017

Santa's the same

Yesterday I took Valerie and Veronica to the mall for their annual Santa picture. 

Oddly enough, yesterday on my Timehop app, was their very first Santa picture together. 

They've changed a bit, while Santa looks the same!  We've had the same mall Santa for years now.  This year they changed up the backdrop which I am not crazy about.  It looks okay in person, but see that black thing behind Santa?  It's actually a giant chimney/fireplace.  You can't tell that AT ALL from the picture.  The older pic with the chair and tree looks so much better.  No telling who decides these things.  Our mall actually isn't decorated one bit.  Usually there's garland hanging all over and decorations here and there.  Behind Santa is usually a blocked off area with fake snow and over sized toys.  This year there is nothing.  Seriously, nothing festive anywhere.  Our mall is pretty bad; we don't even have a food court or anchor restaurant anymore.  Sears closed and that entire wing is dead.  If it wasn't for JC Penny and Dillard's, I'd never go there at all. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Not a Christmasy post

Do you ever feel like no one listens to you?  Or maybe they listen but they don't really hear you?

This is not a very Christmasy post.

But I am tired.  I often do not feel well.  Various aches and pains that come along with being a forth-five year old woman.  Vein disease sucks and I need to have another procedure on my left leg because it hurts constantly.  But the first two procedures hurt terribly so I don't wanna.  The thyroid surgery really threw a wrench into my life plan.  There is no tired like this no-thyroid tired.  The Hashimotos symptom list is long and I have many of them.  I still feel dizzy and foggy often.  But I manage.  I don't complain (much.) I do not always feel well but I do not dwell on it because it is what it is.  I am better than I was at first.  I am "okay."

Even on very bad days, I still get up and cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Make treats for the kids.  Clean up the kitchen mess afterwards.  Find a way to go to the gym, not entirely because I want to, but because I have to.  I feel so defeated sometimes in the classes I take because I feel just terrible, some things I can't do at all, but I stick it out anyway.   I take the low option, all the way, because some is better than none.  If I didn't, I would feel worse.  I run the errands, do all the shopping, do all the cooking, the dishes, the housework, and  the laundry.  Take out all the garbage.  An empty box will sit for weeks until I throw it out.  Ditto for a piece of trash on the floor.  I drive the kids to school, pick them up from after school activities, bring them to dance classes, and appointments.  The bills are paid.  I feed and clean up after our three cats.   I make all the plans and decisions because otherwise we'd do nothing and go nowhere.   If I don't say anything, nothing happens and time ticks away and no one makes a move or says a word.  I can't count how many times we've had plans that we bailed on because it became too late to go, all because I didn't light a fire under everyone.  My whole life is taking care of people and pets, getting everyone else moving, making sure everyone is happy, fed, clothed, and has what they need.

All the while, no one really takes care of me.  No one ever asks, "How are you?"  "Do you feel okay today?"  "What can I do to help you?"  "What do you want to do?"

I know it's all part of being a MOM but some days are so hard.  It's exhausting.

I've asked my family to pitch in and help me - just sometimes.  Even having someone do something small like clear the junk off the table or get the dinner plates out would be one less thing I'd have to do.  I've told them time and time again - THIS is hard for me to do day after day, all by myself.  Please help, just a little.  I don't always feel well.  Instead, I end up standing on my aching leg in the kitchen doing the endless cooking, cleaning, etc., all alone.  Again and again.  Then, if I say anything at all or get upset about no one helping, I become the bad guy and get the silent treatment.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Counting down...

Only two more days of school left in 2017!!  This Mamma sure is ready for a break. 

I'll be the Mom of a teenager in just six days.  Yikes.  This Mamma isn't ready for that! 

Christmas is a mere ten days away.  I'm trying not to stress too much but face it, Christmas can be overwhelming.  Sadly this Mamma spends so much time focusing on making Christmas magical and making everyone else happy that I forget to be happy myself.  At least I am done with all my shopping.  I might have 1-2 small things left to pick up.  It's not like I buy for a ton of people.  It's just my kids and a few of their friends.  I don't buy much for them through out the year, so Christmas is usually pretty big.  There are a few things I ordered that haven't come in yet, but there's still a little bit of time.  I don't think my kids will mind if they get a late gift. 

I do still need to go shopping for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day Dinner.   I have my menu planned but I just need the groceries!

Who's done with their shopping and who hasn't even started?!? 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lovely day.... not.

Something woke me up during the night, and I opened my eyes to find everything very silent and very dark.  No power.  I picked up my phone to see what time it was, and noticed someone had posted in our neighborhood's Facebook group that the feed to the entire town had been lost.  Lovely.  I figured it would be hours before it was fixed.  I dozed off and on until it finally came back on about 3am. 

My alarm went off too early at 5:45, and I discovered we had no internet. No cable TV.  No home phone.  All of Comcast's services were down.  Another lovely.  I did a quick look on my phone and found a notice from Comcast saying there was an outage in our area and it would be three hours before it was restored.  Lovely for the third time. 

Valerie came into the kitchen yelling at me about her school shirt.  All she could find was a size large shirt.  She wanted a medium.  The larges are too big and the collar hangs too low.  All her clothes are washed and put into her room, but she never and I mean never puts them away.  She has a big pile of clean clothes at all times.  I totally lost my cool and threw the attitude right back at her because I was so not in the mood to be bitched at because of a missing shirt!!  She has several and all of them are clean and just hidden under the mess in her room.  I then felt bad so I looked and it took all of 10 seconds to dig a medium shirt out of Val's clean clothes pile.  Drama for nothing.

We weren't late for school but we were behind schedule and traffic was just awful. 

Once back home, I got myself ready to head to the gym and run some errands.  I really need to go to Target and finish my Christmas shopping.  I was about to grab my keys, and bam... out go the lights again.  No electricity in our town or a few towns over.  Major equipment failure.  JUST LOVELY.  You know the traffic lights are out and the stores are out of power, so here I sit.  The power has come back on and gone off again, repeatedly over the last two hours. 

It's back on now.... so I debate on should I stay or should I go??  I'm thinking I will just wait until tomorrow at this point.

Did I mention it's not even 11am?? 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Today's joke

Val:  Why can't you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom?

Roni:  Because it's "P" is silent.

Val:  No.  Because it's dead.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Taking of the Christmas pictures

Every year, we take family Christmas pictures for cards.  I debated on not even bothering with cards this year as our list has dwindled greatly.  Long ago I would send out about 40 cards, and this year I have maybe 6 addresses on my card list!!  In the end, I decided we had to do it since it's our yearly family picture.  

I set up my good camera on a tripod in the backyard and used the timer feature.  Surprisingly, everyone (akaVeronica) cooperated fairly well.  We had just a little bit of drama... but not as much as previous years. 

These are a few of my favorites.  

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Sneaux Day!!

Yesterday we had an awesome but very rare weather event!!!!

Snow is so rare on the Gulf Coast that the last time I saw anything comparable was in 1989.  We had a bit more than a dusting on Christmas Day in 2004 when Valerie was just 4 days old.  In my 45 years, it has snowed twice.  Honestly I didn't pay any attention to the snow forecast figuring nothing was going to happen.  It had been 80 degrees on Tuesday, and an arctic blast was heading our way on Wednesday.  Countless times, there has been a chance of the white stuff and we eagerly watch and get none.  I was almost certain this was another false alarm.  Joke's on me!!

It wasn't just me though because school continued as usual.  Normally school is cancelled at the threat of freezing precipitation.  Roads and bridges ice over and driving becomes a hazard.  I guess the school officials didn't believe it would happen either. 

Literally minutes after I dropped Valerie and Veronica off in front of school yesterday morning, it started sleeting.  It was pretty heavy and went on for a few hours.  I heard reports of snow in towns all around us, so again, I figured it would miss us completely.  Wrong!  I started seeing snow flakes mixed in with the sleet, then more and more snow, and eventually it was all snow!!  Holy moly - it snowed off and on for hours!!!!   I've never seen anything like it.  Simply beautiful and amazing.  I know people up north think it's funny how we get so excited over a little snow.  It never snows here though.  NEVER.  We don't have much of a winter at all, so getting any snow is quite an experience.  Thankfully school pretty much scrapped all their classroom work and the teachers and kids played outside most of the day to enjoy this rare event! 

After school, both girls came running off the bus bursting with excitement.  They have never seen snow before at all.  We all went outside to play for a few hours. What an awesome day it was!!!   I took so many videos and pictures.  Valerie said she wishes for a time machine so she could go back and do the day all over again.  It was so wet and cold, but so much fun and memories that will last forever -  December 8, 2017 will forever be known as the day it snowed in South Louisiana!!

Friday, December 08, 2017

For the love of lights

One of the best things about Christmas was my Dad driving me around town to look at the lights.  It made me happy and I was always so excited to go.  My Dad would take me all over town looking down every street for houses decked out for Christmas.  Blow molds were all the rage, and seeing Santa and his sleigh on rooftops was my favorite.  For some reason, we never decorated though.  I wanted to more than anything.  I wanted pretty lights on my house like the ones we drove around, so that people would drive past our house like we did theirs!!  It wasn't until I was much older (in my 20s) and had a real job and my own money that we put lights on our house.  My boyfriend and I bought a crazy amount of white lights and my boyfriend put them up for us.  He even climbed up on the house to do the roof line.  It wasn't fancy but we finally had lights!

We more than make up for the lack of lights now.  Clint spends days, weeks, and even months working on our light show.  This is our third year with a Light-o-rama show.  We've already been mentioned in the newspaper twice this holiday season!!  Every year we try to make it a little bigger and a little better.  This year he built two dancing arches.  They need some improving, but for now they work. 

Everybody seems to know about "that house in Bayou Blue."  We definitely have people driving by to see us now!


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Oh Chippy

We've been doing the Elf on the Shelf bit for a few years now.  Chippy usually shows up around Thanksgiving and leaves with Santa on Christmas Eve.  When it was the new thing, I did some looking around and decided I was not about to shell out $30 for that stupid little elf and book.  Thrifty me found the bigger elf plush on eBay for under ten bucks.  Sure, he's much bigger but he works just the same.

For a twist, if the girls are good, our elf leaves candy in our Christmas advent countdown house.  Every morning, the girls run to open the wooden door for that day and find two Hershey Kisses inside.  Sometimes Chippy forgot (oops) so the candy was late in appearing.

Valerie lost interest in Chippy a few years ago.  I suspect she no longer Believes, although we have never had such a conversation.  Feeling tired and un-creative, Chippy mostly just moves from hiding place to hiding place, occasionally being a tad bit mischievous.  Veronica still pops out of bed grabs her candy, and will glance around for Chippy.  We all know she is a smart, smart girl.  Apparently she has a theory.

She said those elves we see in the store, like the ones Books-a-million....  The small elves that come with the book.  Those are fake.  They aren't real and are moved around at night by --- parents!!!  Ours is different because he's the bigger one and that makes him a REAL elf.

Me:  Blank look.  "Uh, sure, okay.  Mmhmm. That must be it."

Something tells me, Chippy, that your days are numbered.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Joke of the day

Valerie:  "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Me:  "Uh, to get to the other side."

Valerie:  "No.  To go to the idiot's house."

Me:  "Okaaaay."

Valerie:  "Knock knock."

Me:  (giving her a look)  "Who's there?"

wait for it.....

Valerie:  "The chicken."

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

This old house....

We had been toying with the idea of picking up a second rental property for a while, but nothing we found seemed to be the right fit.  They were either too much money, needed too much work, or were in an undesirable location.  One Sunday in April, Clint spied this gem.  A 4 bedroom, 1 bath, brick house.

It had been listed for $122,000 and was suddenly drastically reduced.  I mean drastically.  So we decided to give it a shot and looked at it the same afternoon.  The exterior had been updated with siding and new windows, but the inside was 1960 all over again.  Faded, dirty, flowery wallpaper all over the kitchen. The closed in carport was not quite finished all the way.  The floors were torn up linoleum.  Two rooms had no floor at all. The walls were dark paneling.  Doors were missing or broken.  Looking past all of that, it had potential.  The floor plan was nice.  It had custom kitchen cabinets (in dire need of TLC) and custom book cases.  The bathroom had been updated with marble.  It had lots and lots of storage space.  It was in a decent neighborhood and the price was so low.  The yard was huge with an awesome oak tree.  Clint put in a really low offer and the sellers accepted -- it belonged to NINE children who inherited it. We did all the inspections and found out the central a/c unit was shot.  It also needed a bit of electrical work.  Everything else looked good, so we bargained for a few more thousand off, and got it for a real steal.

Then came the 'fun' part.  The renovations.  Clint got bids - for just labor - and let's just say some of them were just ridiculous.  Perhaps they just didn't want the job so they purposely overbid.  Some of them came in more than double the lower end bids, for the same amount of work.  Crazy.

We ended up hiring someone to do the things we couldn't and did a lot of the work ourselves.  Never again.  Never.  It wasn't that hard, but it was slow and tedious.  Our entire summer was spent working in this house.  We re-did everything.  Painted everything.  Replaced everything.  It did turn out rather nice.  We learned a lot and managed to stay well with in our budget.  It then took a while to find the right tenants, but it's been a couple of months and so far so good.

Here's a few before and after pics of what occupied many many months of our time.  How did we do?

Monday, December 04, 2017

Get your bake on

Apparently today is National Cookie Day.  Who knew?  I figured it would make for a good excuse to bake some cookies.

Who am I kidding?  Like I need an excuse to bake!!  I bake stuff several times a week for the kids.  Usually it's simple stuff for their after school snack.  They walk in every afternoon and head to the kitchen to see what I've made for them.

Just yesterday I made a batch of jam filled thumbprint cookies.  So good.  The empty container proves it.  Ha.

Today I made Val's favorite - chocolate chip cookies.  If I ask her what she wants, it's always chocolate chip cookies.  She's even made them herself a few times.  Sometimes I'll cheat and use a mix, but usually I make them from scratch.  I'll often bake one pan and put the remaining dough in the freezer.  That way later in the week when we're out of goodies, I can just pull out the container of dough and with little effort we have homemade cookies once again.

Do any of you bake?  What's your favorite cookie??

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Band girl

This is Valerie's third year playing clarinet in her middle school's band.  It is a lot of work with many after school practices, football games, concerts, festivals, etc.  We often have band after school 2-3 days a week, on top of other club meetings and dance classes.  She is busy.  This is only 7th grade y'all, so I can only imagine what marching band in high school is going to entail!

Val took to her instrument right away and has been a fast learner.  We discovered not long ago that she has perfect pitch.  I can play a random note on the piano, and she can identify it.  Ask her to sing a "B" and she can!  Perfect pitch!!! That is truly impressive for a twelve (almost thirteen) year old!!!

Anyway, Val has been practicing for months for District Honor Band auditions. They were given the music way back when school began in August, and began practicing after school.  She knew it frontwards and backwards.  Yesterday was The Day - audition day.  We had to be at the location bright and early for her scheduled time.  She was in full panic mode by the time we were in line.  There were two girls ahead of her, then one of them bowed out of line, so that left only one.  Then the door opened and it was Val's turn.  She did good over all.  I heard a few squeaks during the chromatic scale.  Nerves no doubt. She nailed the performance piece and her sight reading was perfect. 

No pictures she said!!!

We waited allllll day for the results to be posted online.  Val and her friends were literally refreshing the website every five minutes - hahaha!  (I admit I was checking off and on along with them!)   At about 10:30 last night, we hear screams and she came running out. 

The list was up.  Valerie had not only made it, but had gotten third chair.  There is only 16 spots, so third chair is awesome. 

Last year she was 13th chair, so she moved up 10 spots!!! 

I'm so proud of my ValGal.  Now let the band madness continue on into the new year!!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Coffee, coffee!

I think it was last year everybody was writing about their coffee fixation.  Here's another staple in Louisiana: 

Community Coffee.

So much so that a big bag of it comes with us on vacation.  Seriously.  Nothing else will do unless there are no other options.  Even then we will complain about the terrible coffee.

I don't ever remember not having coffee every morning.  At about age two or three, I wanted coffee like my Mom and Dad.  I had a small coffee cup that was all mine.  My Mom served me breakfast of waffles, toast, biscuits, and the like with my cup of coffee.  I remember going sleep over at a friend's house when I was twelve or so.  No coffee there.  I had the worst most horrid blinding headache that day.  I remember going home and telling my Mom my head hurt and she knew right away it was a caffeine headache.  "Here, drink some coke."  Sure enough, it went away after I had my caffeine fix. 

I did get away from drinking coffee at some point.  I ate breakfast at school in junior high sometimes and of course, they did not serve coffee.  I did have my cup on weekends, especially when biscuits were involved.  Sam's Club used to sell this amazing Betty Crocker biscuit mix in a big yellow box.  It made the most perfect biscuits even better than homemade!!  Sure wish it was still available.

When I went to work, we had an endless supply of coffee in the kitchen.  The smell of burnt coffee was the natural aroma in the kitchen.  I was back to having my usual cup at home in the mornings.  An occasional cup at work was all I'd have, usually when a vendor dropped off something yummy to eat.

Now, I have to have my cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  I don't like that flavored stuff at all.  I have never had anything from Starbucks and I don't care to.  Give me just coffee.  Strong coffee, with 2 yellow packets (Splenda).  And a bit of half n half.   THEN I can start my day.

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Friday, December 01, 2017

How's ya mamma and dem?

Here in Louisiana, we are known for Mardi Gras and King Cakes.  We eat gumbo, boudin, and jambalaya.  We go trawlin, crabbin', huntin', and fishin'.  There's a festival for just about any reason you can imagine where you can ride the flying horses (merry go round) at da fair.  I can't forget you can get a 'go cup' for your drank and then there's the drive through daiquiri shops in every town.

We also talk funny here in the Deep South.

"Y'all" can be singular or plural, depending on how it's used.  "All y'all" is definitely plural, but just a "y'all" can go either way.  "All y'all's" is obviously possessive.

The cashier at the Wal-Mart has been calling everybody "bae" long before it became a thing.  And "sha" (cher.)

Nobody asks, "How are you?"  Instead, we often hear, "How's ya mamma and dem?"  Translation:  How are you and your entire family:  mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grandma, etc.  Everybody.

We have "maw-maws" and "paw-paws" instead of grandmothers and grandfathers.  Godparents are "Nanny and Parran."

 "Where you stay at?" means "where do you live?" 

Instead of "come here" we say "come see."

"You have time to get down?"  Means "do you have time to exit your vehicle to come inside and visit?"

My grandma was a mean old Cajun lady.  She threw a 'me" into every sentence.  'I don't know, me."  "I'm not putting up with that, me."  "Me, I saw that lady yesterday."

Confused yet?

Perhaps one of the most bewildering terms to Northerners is how we are always fixin' things that aren't broken.  "I'm gonna start fixin' dinner."  "I'm fixin' to go to the store."  "I was fixin' to call you."

I could go on and on with our Cajun slang, but we have more important things on today's agenda!!

Since it's December 1st, it's time once again to say Hello to my Holidailies friends!!  Welcome, Sha!  It's been a while.  A big hello to all of y'all.  Y'all got time to get down for a while and catch up?   How's ya mamma and dem?