Dec. 30: Christmas CD 2010

I apologize that our Christmas cards went out so late this year. It wouldn’t be a big deal—most were received before Christmas—but since many of you get our annual Christmas music compilation CD along with our card, the lateness gave you very little time to listen to the CD before the holidays were over. Sorry. Really. I’m totally blaming Vic. He was all “meh” about some of the songs and really wasn’t very helpful making decisions,which extended the process considerably. Pfft. Fortunately, he was VERY helpful in burning and labeling and packaging (oh my!), or you wouldn’t have them yet.

I’ve been meaning to share a little background about our choices for this year’s CD. Here ya go:

  1. Toy Packaging by Sara Groves
    I found this cute little tune on Amazon in mid-November. I knew immediately it would have to be the opening song for this year because it’s so catchy and fun. “Never mind this dynamite…” Smile  I might just enjoy her non-Christmas music, too—what I’ve heard so far, I like.
  2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan
    I’m not a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan, but BNL helped even out the goodness of this song. There are two versions out there, and this one is a lot more “up” than the other. This is the first time this Christmas hymn has been on our annual CD.
  3. The Carol Of The Bells by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons jinglebells01
    We chose this song with Loveliest Lori in mind.
  4. Joy To The World by The Supremes
    This is another song that we’ve never used before. There are so many versions out there; I chose this one because it’s a little more upbeat than most. I also chose it because I was Dreamgirls-obsessed most of the year.
  5. We Three Kings by Pink Martini
    Pink Martini came out with a Christmas album this year, and while this wasn’t my favorite song, I wanted to use it because there aren’t very many good versions of this song around.
  6. The Happiest Christmas Tree by Nat King Cole
    I discovered this old, forgotten song and thought it was fun. A little silly, but cute.
  7. Christmas Island by Jimmy Buffett
    I’ll never forget when we spent the first two weeks of December 1998 vacationing in Hawaii. It was so strange to see people in swimsuits and flip-flops walk past displays of Santa and his fleet of reindeer guiding his sleigh. Weird weird weird weird. But it was Hawaii, so, y’know, we dealt with it. Winking smile  Anyway, this song went on this year’s CD in honor of my friend Hawaii Laura.
  8. Little Christmas Tree by Michael Jackson
    I loves me that old Jackson 5 stuff. Little Michael was such a cutie.
  9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Frank Sinatra
    Wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Frank.
  10. Bring Me Love by Marié Digby
    Horror of horrors, I found this on a Disney Christmas CD of Katie’s—alongside Jonas Brothers and Aly & AJ and Miley “Lindsay Lohan” Cyrus. Ugh. But I thought this song was so cute, I couldn’t resist including it this year.
  11. Christmas Is a Comin’ by Bing Crosby
    Like the Nat King Cole song above, here’s a Christmas tune we don’t hear very often.
  12. Can I Interest You In Hanukkah? by Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart
    Two of the funniest, smartest men on television? Yes, please!! “They are CANDLES!”
  13. Jingle Bell Rock by Wayne Newton
    Recorded around the time of Danke Schoen, ya think?
  14. Do You Hear What I Hear by Rick Springfield
    I found Rick Springfield’s Christmas album on iTunes last year and knew I had to use it ASAP.
  15. A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
    This is a rerun; we first used this version in 2005.
  16. What Christmas Means To Me by Al Green
    No explanation here. I just liked it.
  17. Let It Snow by Michael Bublé
    Everyone seems to record this song on their Christmas album. I still think my favorite version is by Dean Martin—he slurs the words, makes them all “hep,” and you can just picture him with booze and a cigarette in the recording studio.elvisbulb
  18. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) by Elvis Presley
    This was another rerun. This and “Here Comes Santa Claus” are probably my favorites by Elvis. I’d put them on our CD every year if I could. Can I?
  19. Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season by Andy Williams
    Andy is a huge part of my memories of childhood Christmases.
  20. The 12 Days Of Christmas by Straight No Chaser
    This is such a fun version of this song. Who knew “Africa” could be blended into it so perfectly? Toto always makes me think of Mike Devitt—I don’t know why—so this went on our CD for him.
  21. O Come All Ye Faithful by Nat King Cole
    Beautiful version.
  22. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by The Carpenters
    Christmas or not, you can’t go wrong with The Carpenters. Kim F’n will back me up on that, as well as Loveliest Lori and Sheila R.
  23. Angels We Have Heard on High by Brian McKnight/Josh Groban
    Two beautiful voices, together at last. This is such an amazing duet.
  24. Mary’s Boy Child by Harry Belafonte
    This must have been on one of my mom’s Christmas music records of old, because it sounded surprisingly familiar when I heard it the first time. We’ve never used anything by Harry Belafonte on our CD.
  25. It’s Christmas Time All Over the World by Sammy Davis Jr.
    Love Sammy, love this cute song.
  26. Starbright by Jim Brickman/Kenny Loggins
    I hope Kenny Loggins didn’t ruin your Christmas.

If you didn’t receive a CD and you want one, let me know.


Dec. 30: Sparkles

Yeah, I know I just got a pretty great gift, but nothing’s ever enough for me and I suggested Santa could bring me a little sparkly somethin’ too. And guess what? Santa did not disappoint. He brought me somethin’ sparkly, alright. He brought me these:

3.00 cttw 14K White Gold Plated 925 Sterling Silver Round 7mm Created Emerald Earring Studs

Gorgeous, aren’t they? I don’t think I’ve ever had an emerald before, and these are such a beautiful green. In fact, Vic said he chose them because they’re green, sort of like a constant reminder that we kicked cancer’s ass. I love the sentiment. I eagerly tore out the crappy earrings I was wearing at the moment and put these beauties in. They looked like… well, I’ll be honest: they looked like happiness.

Later that evening, I changed into jammies and started to take off my jewels. I noticed that the emerald studs looked like they were falling out, so I checked to make sure the backs were tight. They were. The only thing I can figure out is that the emeralds were too heavy to just lay there in my ear holes; they were so big that they couldn’t help falling forward. Sometimes gravity is an asshole. I took the earrings out and tried them again the next day. Why did I think that would make a difference? It didn’t.

I loved the gift, and the meaning behind it, but I knew I would never wear these earrings if I was always worried they’d fall out and I’d lose one. I explained it to Victor and he suggested we return them and I choose something else. Last night I started looking around online at the many, many options I had to replace my emeralds. Vic said I could get a ring or necklace; that I didn’t need to get earrings if I didn’t want them. But I do want earrings—I need them with this awful hairstyle in order to look less man-like—and I also knew I wanted to stick with green. I expanded my search to include peridots, since they’re also green, and actually closer to the lime-green lymphoma awareness color.

I use peridot a lot in the jewelry I make because it’s pretty and not a very expensive gemstone (relatively speaking). This made it difficult to shop for earrings, since I saw most peridot earrings as something I could make my own damn self. I got lots of ideas for future projects, that’s for sure. But today I finally settled on these to replace my emerald studs:


Yes, I know they bear little resemblance to the emeralds Vic chose for me. But here’s why I chose them:

  • Um, duh: they’re way pretty. I love the delicate swirls and the heart shape.
  • They’re dangly and girly. With my current hairstyle, this is good.
  • I suck (SUCK!) at wire work. There’s no way I could make these earrings my own damn self.
  • The dark stone is onyx. This always reminds me of my dad because he wore an onyx ring in the last few years of his life that he really liked. After he died I discovered that onyx is often used to treat grief in crystal healing. It became one of my favored stones then. Like peridot, I use onyx quite a bit in my jewelry-making. Love.
  • The little green stones at the bottom are peridot. I like the idea of Dad’s stone stompin’ on the lymphoma. Smile
  • My favorite part: these earrings are handmade, and the designer calls them “Dearest Heart.” How sweet is that? Very sweet, that’s how sweet.

Here are some of the metaphysical properties attributed to black onyx:

Black onyx helps to overcome grief, banish old habits, and encourage happiness and good fortune. Comforts in unfamiliar surroundings. Helps overcome feelings of loneliness. It helps with wound healing and increases stamina and self-control. Assists with challenges in life, in particular those caused by a drain of energy.

And here are some for peridot:

Peridot is said to help slow the aging process, physically and mentally. Strengthens and regenerates all organs, stimulating new, healthy growth. Acts as if one had just taken a health tonic. Promotes sleep. Aids physical detoxification. Excellent for health care workers, care givers, veterinarians, counselors, spiritual leaders and mothers. Many believe it to increase patience, confidence and assertiveness. It is said to be very useful in relaxation and the release of nervous tension. Emits a warm and friendly energy; thus called the “Stone of Friendship.” Crystal healers use peridot as a good all-around producer of positive energy and healing. It also eases adjustment to large life changes. It is given as a symbol of fame, dignity, and protection. 

I know it seems kinda first world problem-y to complain that the gems were too heavy to wear. Oh, poor me! My jewels are dragging! Although I wish I could have stayed with the emeralds Victor chose for me, I think these earrings are more practical and will still be very meaningful.

Either way, I gots me a good Santa—he’s my Dearest Heart, for sure.


Dec. 27: From 2010 to 2011

Ah, reflecting. ‘Tis good, right? Well, sometimes. Here are seven questions to ask yourself as you say goodbye to 2010 and head forth into 2011. Why? Because, silly! These are from Dumb Little Man Tips for Life, which is a pretty cool little site.

On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with 2010?

Wow. This is a difficult one, because there were a lot of things that really sucked about 2010, but just as many (or more) amazing things happened too. I’d have to say, for me, that 2010 was an 8/10. 

Why did you score that way?

What stands out most when I look back on this year is the devotion of my friends. They encouraged me, held me up, made me laugh, and helped me fight for my life. Many of them had no idea they were doing it, or how much their small deeds meant to me. What they say about women being like tea—their true strength comes out when they’re in hot water—applies to human beings in general, I believe.

If I scored the year on my friends alone, it’d be a 15/10. But then there was all the chemo and its side effects, Loveliest Lori’s health scare, my very high anxiety levels, and the mystery behind my sister’s unwillingness to be in my life. That takes my satisfaction with 2010 waaay down.

But the way the year ended—with a clean-ish bill of health—inches it back up. And really, I don’t think an 8/10 is too bad for a year, especially in a year that started with such a dire outlook. I think I’m just fine with 8/10.

What are your biggest accomplishments this year? Include business achievements, relationships, health and fitness, etc.

Um… well, I kicked cancer’s ass. I think that’s pretty huge. Besides that? With other moms, we got good things done at school, making a lot of kids and teachers happy. I’m proud of that. I met Val (Val rocks). I graduated from day-glo adult beverages to those typically served without umbrellas. My friends are proud of me for that. (Whatev.)

What are the biggest lessons you learned this year? We can let the things that happen pass us by, or we can stop to understand and draw lessons from them; this can make us wiser than we were before.

I learned that even when it’s easier to hide under the covers, if I really have to, I can summon up the courage to face difficulties head-on. I learned that most of us are stronger than we know. I learned that sometimes I need to step back from a situation and let it work itself out. I learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I learned that certain drugs are necessary and taking them doesn’t mean I’m a failure at life. I learned that I can find joy amidst some of the suckiest parts of life. I learned that while laughter may not be the best medicine, it’s pretty friggin’ awesome.

What are your biggest goals that you want to achieve next year? How can you make next year your best year ever? In other words, if it’s December 31 of next year, what do you want to see in your life? What will it take to feel a 10/10 satisfaction level at the end of next year? Make these things your goals for 2011.

I want to stay healthy, to recognize and listen to my limitations but push myself when I really know I should. I want to be the kind of friend that others have been to me. I want to put my experience with cancer into book form, even if it’s just for my own fulfillment. I want to make it through my reading list, or at least get further down it than I did this year. I want to stop cursing—well, not completely, just less.

What new habits do you want to cultivate?

Some of the typical new years’ resolutions need to be mine this year: eat better, exercise more, be nicer, blah blah blah. But I gotta do it for realsies, because I know how important it is for me to stay healthy. “Healthy” doesn’t rule out fondue completely, though, does it? Because if it does, I’m going to have to redefine “healthy.” This girl neeeeeds her fondue. (Or maybe this girl neeeeeds to find a new girlfriends’ get-together restaurant.)

What are your immediate next steps to achieve them? What do you have to do to get the ball rolling? Writing down specific dates for these actions can help motivate you.

I suppose I should assign dates to weight goals in order to create milestones along the way… maybe attend some of those pool exercise classes, even though they totally do NOT work with my schedule… create and follow weekly menus so I (and my family) eat better… read more… watch more TV… wait. Scratch that last one.

ok, i’m done.

Where are you as we go forward into the new year? Please share your answers in a comment or your own blog. So says I.


Dec. 24: IDCEAYWTPFriday

ponchIt’s Friday, and that means you get a post called I Don’t Care Enough About You to Write in Transitioning Paragraphs Friday.

  • Hey! It’s Christmas Eve! I love today.
  • Today my iPod has been playing everything from the “Christmas” genre on shuffle. I have a lot of Christmas music—I don’t know if I realized exactly how much until I put it on shuffle—and I’m actually getting a little tired of it. I’m also remembering why there are a lot of songs I’ve collected but opted to leave OFF our annual CD compilations because there is some really bad Christmas music out there, and it starts and ends with Mariah Carey. Pretty sure. 
  • Have you elfed yourself yet this year?
  • Big bummer: we had to cancel Poker Night last night because one of the Chris boys couldn’t make it. It would’ve been weird with just one Chris, right? Yes. We’ll try again for some evening next week, with a new invitation or two extended (ahem, Fancy™ Family, we’ve got our eyes on you…). We’re excited to use the way-cool poker set Val and Chris gave us for Christmas—how card shark-y do we look now? We are totally gonna fool people into being a-scared of our mad poker-playing skillz. Money
  • Speaking of Fancy anyone, Fancy Lori™ is incredibly skilled in the knitting arena. If any part of you is cold, she can whip up something that’ll warm you up right quick. Pretty sure. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
  • Ugh. I am completely addicted to Pictureka. Dammit! I love the iPhone app, and after playing the board game at Sunshine’s last night, I love that too. And I just found out they have a Disney edition and OMG I have to have it! If I don’t post for a few weeks, just assume that I got Disney Pictureka and have no time to do anything else. And remember that once upon a time I was sane(-ish). That game’ll make you ca-razy.
  • This song makes me happy:
I keep trying to comb Pat’s hair but he won’t stop moving.
  • Here’s another Christmas song that I’m enjoying this year. Thanks for sharing, Sherilee!
  • I heard that I went caroling the other night. News to me! Martini glassMartini glassMartini glassMartini glassMartini glass
  • It’s not just me, is it? You’ve got excessively dry skin and static in your hair and clothes too, right? It’s always a little strange when that happens around here, because it’s usually humid enough that we don’t shock every single thing we touch. Apparently it’s not so humid right now. I do not love it.
  • What Santa really does when you’re asleep. Now you know.
  • Sunshine got me a super-cute “you-know-me-so-well” gift for Christmas. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but it gives you an idea of how awesome this necklace is:

    The copper disc says “weapon of choice” and the charm is a typewriter. Perfect, right??? It also has me thinking two things: (1) I’m going to start making more jewelry with copper, and (2) I want to try metal stamping. I mean, have you seen the awesome metal stamped stuff on etsy? I could totally do that.
  • (I actually am not all that confident I could do metal stamping very well. But I could invest hundreds of dollars and lots of energy in it and try and fail and shove all the tools in my “depressing attempts” closet. Yup. I could totally do that.)
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum from the loveliness that is Sunshine, here is a woman I very much want to punch in the face, hard and repeatedly. You don’t even have to watch the whole thing before I’m pretty sure you’ll want to slug her too:
She may be a hand model, but she’s no George Costanza (pre-iron burn)
  • We’re going to a wedding tomorrow! April’s mom is getting married to a man she re-connected with on Facebook last year. I’m so happy for them—what an exciting thing.
  • Which reminds me, why isn’t anyone asking me to perform their wedding ceremonies? I’m thinking maybe it’s time for me to take this personally. I mean, first Kim F’n gets all engaged and asks HER DAD to do her vows, and then my friend’s mom gets engaged and (probably) asks her church pastor to officiate. Why do all the people I know use the excuse that they already know someone who they want doing their wedding? Maybe I need more friends who don’t go to church or imageknow people who go to church. People who aren’t allowed near the holy water. People like me.
  • Alright, we’ve got 13 people sitting at our table for dinner tonight, so I’d best get busy preparing. In case I don’t get around to posting tomorrow, please accept very big and most sincere happy holiday wishes from this branch of the Manullang family!


Dec. 21: Daybook

stressLast week my laptop started acting strange and I ran a bunch of diagnostics and it said everything was fine but it wasn’t. I cursed my laptop and and its mother and copied a bunch of files to another computer so I could still get some things done, and then I bought my vajillionth USB drive with plans to back up everything. It took a few days to get around to it and this morning when I turned on my laptop it was working fine! This kinda reminds me of when my mom pulled the plug on my grandma last summer. I know my laptop’s thinking NEENER NEENER I’M STILL ALIVE AND I AM GOING TO PISS YOU OFF SOME MORE BEFORE I FINALLY DIE. See, just like Grandma.

The good thing about my computer working again, of course, is that it has most of my files on it and I don’t have to go looking for the latest version of them on all the different computers I’ve been using. The bad thing is it appears that Microsoft Office no longer resides on my hard drive. Microsoft Office, y’know, the suite of applications that absolutely helps me sort out my life and work and inner child and alternate personalities. Don’t act like you don’t feel the same way about Office. You know you do. Until I find my original setup CD, I shall curse without ceasing. You might want to plug your ears.

OK, all done for now.

Oh, and I fixed the comma key that wasn’t working by shaking my laptop upside down. Beads dropped out of the keyboard. Teeny, tiny, little seed beads. I need to do my computing and my beading in different places, it would seem.


Outside my window... there are boys wrestling in the middle of the street. One of them is my boy and this makes me wonder what on earth is wrong with him. I don’t know one of the kids out there, but he’s beating up on my kid and part of me wants to let him so my kid will learn his lesson, but part of me doesn’t want to buy Jack new glasses for the sixth time this year. I just went out and yelled at them to knock it off and they did. (I’m not an idiot; I know they probably just moved down the street.)

This weekend, I… did some shopping, wrapped lots of gifts, finished our Christmas letter, made some gifts, dragged my husband to stores he hates, and watched holiday movies. Except for a little stress, it was loads of fun.

I am thinking... that I might be done feeling overwhelmed, but I’m probably not. Even though the Christmas cards are almost all delivered—and that was a huge project—I still have Poker Night on Thursday to prepare for, as well as our Christmas Eve bash. This might just be the last of my sanity you’ll ever see, people.

I am thankful... that Victor’s been so willing to help me with our holiday preparations this year. I typically don’t ask him for help, or can’t count on him to help, but this year he’s really come through for me. Us. Whatever. We only got our cards out because he did most of the work. Yay, Vic!

I am working on... straightening up the house because we’ve got people coming over for the next several evenings. I’m super-excited to host these events, but I would d-i-e-DIE if anyone saw my kitchen table right now.

I am going... to go shopping for something scary today or tomorrow. I need some kind of goodie for a gift exchange party tomorrow night at Cindi’s, and it has to be “scandalous.” I don’t do “scandalous.” I do “sweet” or “adorable” or “funny” or “weird.” Not “scandalous.”

Around the house... it definitely looks like Christmas. Such fun!

One of my favorite things... is how much Scout loves the Christmas tree (see below).

Plans for the rest of the week: somethin’ fun at Cindi’s tomorrow, Poker Night on Thursday, our traditional Christmas Eve Chinese food dinner on Friday, and The Big Day on Saturday! Hooray!

Here’s an image I want to share:

scout christmas tree

So much for using the bears to keep the dog out from under the tree.

Want to blog your own Daybook? Here’s the info: The Simple Woman’s Daybook.

Dec. 14: We did it.

image I’m trying to work on 4,295 Christmas-y things that have overdue deadlines right now, and I’m doing every one of them inefficiently, but I just have to stop all the important stuff for a minute and share the AMAZING NEWS I got today!

My cancer is, according to Dr. O, in “complete remission.”

Yuh-huh, you read that right. COMPLETE REMISSION.

Let’s say that again. Big.


This means there is no sign of cancer in my body. There’s junk where OJ once was, but it didn’t light up on my PET scan so they’re assuming it’s scar tissue or something and I don’t really care, as long as it’s not cancer.

We did it, guys. We kicked cancer’s ass and we kicked it HARD. I don’t want to get all drippy and blotchy-faced and boohoo-y, but I’m quite sure that you played as big a part in this fight as I did, and I am so grateful to you all that I almost feel like I should do a Thanksgiving post again. What did I do to deserve you people? I can’t imagine. Maybe in a previous life I was a good person.


I’ve said many times before that I believe people’s true selves come out in times of crisis. In the past year, my family members have behaved in predictable ways—most were willing to be right where I needed them. My friends, however, surprised me constantly and repeatedly through the past year with their love and concern and gifts and visits and cheerleadering and fondue dates. Even my friend’s friends, people I’ve never met in person, showed tremendous concern. There’s so much good in this world. There’s so much good in some people’s hearts. I like being reminded of that. If there’s one unexpected thing that really stands out when I look back on this rotten year, it’s how many times my heart was warmed by kind words and gestures. Ah, loveliness.

I kinda like being here, and I’d like to stay, thanks. So as I look ahead to my newly cancer-free existence, can I be bold and ask for one more thing? Can y’all make other stuff happen? Like, less cancer and more things that… well… aren’t cancer? They don’t have to be all good things—just real life minus the death and threats of death. And don’t take cues from Loveliest Lori—she is sooo not on the right track.

I’ll have more to say about all this later, but for now, I just wanted to quickly share the news. Hooray!

Dec. 12: Sunday fun

sundayI didn’t do my Friday post, and I didn’t make up for it yesterday with a Saturday post. I’m just not doing my blogging job very well right now. I’ve hardly spent any time on my computer over the past few days—too much holiday stuff to get done. I’m not complaining about being too busy, though, because right now everything is still Christmas-y and joyful and fun and until I get overwhelmed and whiny, you might just not find a lot to read here at Stuff Jen Says. How ‘bout this? I’m going to share some of the good stuff I’ve found on the ‘net in the past few weeks.

  • If you’re not anti-hilarious-cartoon Loveliest Lori, you’ll enjoy this 3-D Perry the Platypus Christmas ornament. (I love you dearly, Lori, but you really should give Phineas & Ferb a chance.)
  • Suspected terrorists vs. the average person. This made me chuckle.
  • Not sure what to get for the man on your Christmas list? Here are some ideas that won’t help you even a tiny bit.
  • See that box on the left that says “Twitters that made me LOL”? You should scroll through and read some of them beauties. There are some very funny people saying very funny things out there on Twitter.
  • Sunshine shared this and I love it:
He’s charming as can be, no?
  • This isn’t funny or even all that interesting, but I love the new engagement photos of Prince William and Kate. His natural smile is so much like his momma’s.
  • New York designers say these are the colors for the upcoming season. Who knew? (And Erin, I can’t believe you “swoon” over any one of them. They’re colors. Silly girl.)
  • One of the reasons I dislike Céline Dion is that this parody is remarkably accurate in the way she behaves in interviews (here’s a short example of the real thing). Tracey Ullman is one of the most underrated actresses out there. For a real kick, watch some of her other videos on YouTube. So funny.
  • We went to IKEA the other day, and I found the Christmas décor there kind of disappointing. A lot of it looks like 4th of July décor to me, which I think is weird because Scandinavians don’t celebrate the 4th of July like we do, right? They have some fun star ornaments, and I love their strings of lights, but there’s an awful lot of blue in most of their SNÖVITA line. Meh.
  • Some people bug the hell out of me.
  • (Wow, how’d that sneak in there? That has nothing to do with stuff I’ve found on the Internet at all. Hm.)
  • Our niece, Presley, got a new kitty! She might just be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Meet Cookie:


  • Sunshine told me there’s all this fancy wish list stuff on Etsy now, and you can see what your friends want and they can see what you want and OMG I can’t imagine what could be better except maybe if y’all buy me everything on my list twice.
  • I was thinking that the new Jack Black/Jason Segel Christmas Jam would be a good last-minute addition to our Christmas CD, so I downloaded it and was all happy until I realized the mp3 has the same content as the video. In other words, there’s talking on the song, and I hate when people talk on songs. Bummer.
  • Did you see Community this last week? Clever.

I’ve got a CD to finish, letter to edit, labels to print, gifts to make, soup on the stove, a HUGE etsy wish list to create, and an ornament exchange party to go to this evening. T’will be a good day.


Dec. 11: Faking it

The closing bit from Phil on Modern Family this past week was sweet and touching and all too true.

We like to think we’re so smart, that we have all the answers. And we want to pass that on to our children. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you won’t have to dig deep to find the kid you were, which is why it’s kind of crazy that we’re raising kids of our own. I guess that’s the real circle of life. Your parents faked their way through it. You fake your way through it. And you just hope you didn’t raise a serial killer.

I ♥ that show.

Dec. 8: If only I’d worked this hard as a student

Tomorrow’s the big day for the third prize winners for the PTO’s big Jogathon fundraiser. This is the one we thought would be easy, but it turns out that it’s more inexpensive than easy. In fact, this prize is almost more work than everything we’ve done since the Jogathon itself, and maybe we are not very bright when we give kids three options and one of them requires a lot of work. Blerg.

The prize is a movie night during the day. Not such a big deal, right? Ha.

Let me say that again:


Here we go…

  1. Find a place to show the movie since the gym isn’t dark during the day and the windows are up way too high to block out.
  2. An unused kindergarten classroom appears to be our best alternative for movie location. Now what do we do with all the desks, tables, chairs, etc.?
  3. Ah, all that furniture shoves pretty good. We borrow mats from the gym for the floor. Black butcher paper on the windows—that room is D-A-R-K. It’s so dark I think I might try to get a nap after the movie’s done. I would try to move in there permanently but I hate the smell of grade schools—Salisbury Steak and pee.
  4. Projector’s all set. We’re ready to go tomorrow morning. Oh, but WAIT! We need to serve movie snacks!
  5. The popcorn machine is slow, so we’ll have to come in early to start popping, but it’ll work—the kids will probably love that it’s smelling up the whole school just for them. Prepare some bowls of Christmas-y candies, Red Vines, pretzels, graham crackers, and we’re good on snacks.
  6. The kids should have water. Bottled water? With their names written on the bottles? Personalized, kinda like their names are on a movie marquee? Don’t mind if I do! (as in “don’t mind if I do spend an entire evening making their personalized water bottle labels”).
  7. We’re showing The Polar Express, so we also have to have hot chocolate. Have to. Rules.
  8. Hot chocolate… that means we need mugs or hot beverage cups. Marshmallows. Hot water and something to keep it in.
  9. We’ve got hot beverage cups on hand, left over from an event in the PTO past in which coffee was served. We even have packets of hot chocolate. I add marshmallows, stir sticks, a carafe and a tray to my list.
  10. busyThis is worth it, right?
  11. Wouldn’t it be cool if each kid could have a bell, like the bell in the movie? Ooooh! I know! They can WEAR the bells. Then they won’t lose them. How cute will that be, the class wearing jingle bells all around the school for the day? Sooo cute.
  12. Add “jingle bells” and “some kind of necklace-y thing to string the bell on” to your list, Jen. (We in the PTO practice “he who smelt it dealt it,” but PTO-style: “she who brought it up has to do it.” You’d think our meetings would be really short then, huh? You’d think wrong.)
  13. Goodie bags to give the kids as they go back to their classroom would be nice. (The guilt was really getting to us when we came up with that one. The other two prize-winning classes got activities that were so cool and exciting, and this prize just seemed not to come even close to cool and exciting. So YES, we agreed to goodie bags.)
  14. Jen finds adorable goodie bags and some goodies to put in them. Holiday-ish. Fun. Jen loves doing goodie bags WAY too much.
  15. Jen runs across a cute idea on the ‘net called “snowman soup,” which is an adorably-labeled baggie with a hot chocolate packet, marshmallows, chocolate Kisses or chips, and a candy cane. This is such a fun idea that even though it’s less than 24 hours until this movie spectacular begins, she takes on the project of assembling bags of snowman soup for 24 kids.
  16. Heather then suggests reindeer food (oatmeal and glitter) and Jen smartly lets Heather do that one herself. Whew. Still, this is just one more goodie bag component and the adorable goodie bags are suddenly exploding.
  17. (Not literally.)
  18. Shoving everything into the bags all Tetris-like is just NOT going to work. Jen runs to Albertsons to get bigger ones. They have nothing. Try Rite-Aid—nope. Party City? Not the right type. But Dollar Tree, the trashiest store this side of Winco and Walmart, has approximately 14 different styles of goodie bags, and any one of them would work and of course Jen knew the dreaded dollar store would have the right thing because she is quite aware that the universe loves to point at her and laugh its ass off.
  19. The new goodie bags are larger, yes, and they’re ziploc style… but because they are not Ziploc brand, they don’t un-ziploc easily and Jen curses many times and ruins so many bags she contemplates a quick run back to That Store. No go—the rest of the bags were fine. Whew. There are just enough.
  20. Heather brings over the reindeer food bags, and they are SO cute. If the kids don’t go nuts over the goodie bags, Jen promises to be sittin’ on some second graders tomorrow.
  21. The bells are super-cute too. Discovering extra bells, Jen decides the party hostesses (Jen, Heather, and Sunshine) should have special ones. This does not take longer than seven hours for Jen to do, and yet it looks like she spent a couple minutes on them, or worse yet, BOUGHT THEM AT DOLLAR TREE.
  22. While adjusting the bells, an errant wire hits Victor in the eye. It slows him down, but just briefly. So manly, that guy.
  23. OK, would it not be the coolest thing for the kids to walk into the movie room like they’re walking down the red carpet? We could use a long sheet of butcher paper and maybe even borrow the velvet ropes from the librarian. Perfect! I can make a sign with letters that look like theater popcorn bags! This is getting better and better.
  24. That snowman-and-tree outdoor décor that I haven’t put outside yet this season would be PERFECT at the entrance to the movie room. The snowman will be like a bouncer—he’s the same height as the kids, if not taller. Ha! Maybe I’ll teach the kids what a bouncer is. Maybe by example. Heh heh heh…
  25. Oh, and for future reference, the snowman-and-tree outdoor décor does not fit in the passenger seat very well. I’m going to have branches in my face the whole way to school in the morning.

I’m so sleepy, and I think I’ve put in enough hours for the day. I have to get up at the BF crack o’ dawn to get over to the school and get this party goin’. And we’ve got something similar on Friday afternoon. It never stops! I’m not complaining—I really do love my PTO doodies—but sometimes I just gotta vent, y’know?

Dec. 7: It was like “Pandora’s MP3 Player”

I usually listen to Pandora Internet Radio on my phone when I’m sitting at my computer. If I don’t listen to something, anything, I start humming random stuff and give myself a headache because I’m so annoying.

I’ve created several Pandora “stations” and choose a different one each time I first turn it on for the day. I’ve got “Halloween Party Radio” (don’t much like that one, not sure why it’s still there), “R&B/Pop Holiday Radio” (I loves me just about any kind of Christmas music), “Today’s Adult Hits Radio” (oh lord, what’s become of me?), “Contemporary Singer-Songwriters Radio” (lots of John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, etc.), “80s Radio” (surprisingly annoying), and “Showtunes Radio,” which might just be the best thing EVER if it didn’t play so much of that horrible Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Pandora’s rating system is all fancy-like, or the idea is. If I tap the “thumbs down” icon when a dreadful song comes on, it goes on to a different one that’s sometimes less drcatseadful. What it’s supposed to do is file away the little “Jen didn’t like this” nugget and (1) never play it again, and (2) never play anything like it. That (2)-part doesn’t always work very well, and I know this because sometimes Showtunes Radio plays that horrible Andrew Lloyd Webber EVEN THOUGH I HATE EVERYTHING HE’S EVER DONE EVER EVER EVER.

If you thumbs-down six songs in an hour, Pandora won’t let you skip any more for that hour. You can still thumbs-down songs, but they’ll keep playing, just like when you tell your kid NO MORE [OBNOXIOUS INSTRUMENT] UNTIL MOMMY’S EARS STOP BLEEDING and your kid just keeps practicing like the little sadist he or she is. If one of my kids grows up to be another Andrew Lloyd Webber, please get used to what I look like with blood spurting from my ears all the live-long day.

I’ve been listening to Pandora long enough that it’s pretty good at playing only what I want to hear; I don’t thumbs-down much anymore. However, I do get tired of listening to the same music over and over. Yesterday nothing appealed to me—no Pandora stations and none of the playlists on my iPod. I chose, instead, to listen to my entire collection on “shuffle.” This was possibly the weirdest and wrongest thing I’ve ever done.

You know why? Because I kept trying to thumbs-down songs. Why do I have stuff I hate on my iPod?

Even worse, I forgot about all the audio books I have. A song from Wicked followed by some David Sedaris is all kinds of cool, but not when the Sedaris starts at the third section of the story and then goes on to Miley Cyrus (who’s only on there at my kid’s request, I promise)? Ugh. Thumbs WAY down.

Man. Music is hard.

P.S. Yes, Fancy Lori™, “wrongest” is a word. So’s “wronger.” And “funner.”

Dec. 6: Daybook

Look! I’m actually posting this Daybook thing on a Monday morning, when it’s meant to be posted. I might just be awesome. For today only.


Outside my window... it’s gross. I don’t really want to talk about it.

This weekend, I… baked two dozen cupcakes in black and orange, and two dozen in green and yellow. Yep, they were for a Civil War game party. If I cared at all about the Beavers or the Ducks, I would have probably put nasty stuff in the cupcakes representing the team I liked less. Lucky for the people at the party, I didn’t give even a tiny bit of a shit who won. In fact, most of the time I was at the party I couldn’t even see the TV. When I heard people cheering, it made me happy. When I heard people booing, it made me sad. Now I have some questions for you:

  1. Did you know that Rumple Minze is good in hot chocolate?
  2. Can you say “Rumple Minze” if you’ve been drinking Rumple Minze? I cannot. It comes out “rupplemist” or “rumblemist” or “rumplemints.” Wait! That’s it! RUMPLE MINTS. Rumple. Mints. Rumple Minze. Rumble Mertz. DAMMIT!
  3. Can you tell that Cassie got me drunk at this party? She didn’t even have to try very hard.
  4. I love Cassie.
  5. That last one was not a question, was it?
  6. I think maybe it’s easier to say “peppermint schnapps.” Also, to make this a question, will you buy me some peppermint schnapps? I’d like marshmallows with it, pretty please.

I am thinking... that pretty soon my in-laws and their families will be in town and I’m very happy about that. They’re nice people. Well, I’m not sure about Sonya. She can be kinda mean, like, ALL THE TIME. The rest of them are decent, I guess. Or maybe I’ll just stay home by myself.

I am thankful... for videos like this on the web. It almost hurts, how funny this is:

The 12 minutes fly by.

I am working on... fun Christmas gifts, etsy-style. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

I am going... to get our Christmas cards out this week. I am also going to need an editor because right now our Christmas letter is nine pages long, and that’s at least eight pages two many. Oh, and I forgot that last year we used up our supply of CD sleeves, so I had to order more last night and I am going to have to wait to mail the Christmas cards that get CDs with them until the new sleeves arrive.

In other words, I am going… to do a lot of things that are difficult and frustrating and will make me angry and possibly bitter about the holidays.

I am hoping... to check some stuff off my PTO to-do list this week. There are a lot of things to tackle this week. I am also hoping to see Val this week, because I only saw her once last week and it was on Monday and I’ve already forgotten what she looks like. I am also hoping to see Sunshine this week. I saw her a bunch last week, but I don’t think it was for a fun thing even once. We need to do fun things.

Around the house... it’s getting all Christmas’d up. I love it! The tree is in the family room this year—we think we might get to enjoy it more this way—and we’ve got our singing snowmen all over the house. Turns out I’m a little corny when it comes to Christmas décor. Thank goodness for the twitter I read this morning, which put a stop to my insanity, at least for outdoors: “I was going to cover my lawn with inflatable Christmas decorations, but I’m too busy growing a mullet and watching Jerry Springer.”

One of my favorite things... is making fun of Christmas décor. It’s hilarious, what people think looks good enough to put on and around their homes. I love the displays that are tasteful and I love that ones that are kitschy. Everything in between gets pointed and laughed at. SO. MUCH. FUN. And since you’re thinking it, YES, I will enjoy doing that in hell too.

Plans for the rest of the week: PTO doodies, work, a Pampered Chef party at Cindi’s, Wellington’s birthday celebration, the gol-durn Christmas cards and CDs, TiVo catch-up, and a top-secret project I’m hinting at below.

Here’s an image I want to share:

Pamie and Jen

Yes, that’s me and author extraordinaire Pamela Ribon when we met last June. She emailed me last week. I know, I’m such a dork to share that info, but facts are facts, people. She even asked me to do her a favor, which I gladly agreed to because I think she’s so amazing and I would do anything for her. And I probably shouldn’t make a big deal out of it, but when you give someone a vital organ, aren’t you allowed to make a big deal out of it?

Oops. Spilled the beans. The kidney beans.

Oh fine, Pamie didn’t ask me for a kidney. But I’d probably give her one of mine if she wanted it. Unless she didn’t really need it, like if she wanted a spare just in case. That wouldn’t be such a cool thing.

Maybe I’ll tell you more about Pamie later. (Did I mention that she’s the coolest?)

…and the restraining order is served in one… two… three…

Want to blog your own Daybook? Here’s the info: The Simple Woman’s Daybook.


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