Tag Archives: family

This Black Friday I Got Everything I Wanted

At 4:00 on Thanksgiving afternoon, while the Black Friday shoppers were obsessively pouring through their newspaper ads searching for the best doorbuster deals of 2012, I was sitting down to a delicious turkey dinner perfectly prepared by my gourmet husband and eating, laughing, and shooting the breeze with 22 members of my family who I love and adore.

At 6:00 on Thanksgiving evening, while the Black Friday shoppers were mapping out their strategies on how to attack each superstore as it opened so they could scoop up the best toy or electronic product before they ran out of stock, my family and I were entertained by my 12-year old daughter who serenaded us with her beautiful voice and a Dixie cup, imitating Lulu and the Lampshade’s viral video You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.

At 8:00 on Thanksgiving evening, as Wal-Marts and Sears were opening their doors historically early, Black Friday shoppers were racing to buy $688 Vizio 60” LED Smart TVs and $39.99 Nook Simple Touches, just as I was lounging on the sofa, savoring pecan pie and watching the last two hours of one of my all-time favorite movies – Gone With the Wind – with my mom & stepdad who were staying with us over the holiday.

At 10:00 pm on Thanksgiving evening, while the Black Friday shoppers were waiting in line at Target to purchase their Xbox 360 4gb Kinect Bundles for $199.99 and Nikon L310 digital cameras for $99.99, I was cuddling next to my 16-year old daughter and her laptop, watching BBC’s Sherlock – a show she’s been dying to share with me for months.

At midnight, while Black Friday shoppers were impatiently waiting for Best Buy to open their doors so they could nab the Complete 5th Season of Big Bang Theory for just $8.99, I was crawling into bed and spent an insanely long time staring at my beautiful 6-year cherub son who, because of our houseguests, was peacefully sleeping in our bed for the evening.

At 6:00 in the morning, as Black Friday shoppers at a Sacramento K-Mart were rushing to buy half price Christmas trees, a man shouted “Calm the f**k down! Push one of my kids and I will stab one of you motherf**kers!” In the meantime, I experienced the rare luxury of sleeping in late on a Friday.

At noon, as Black Friday shoppers were driving to Sears to purchase their 32″ LCD HDTVs, for just $97, I started an 8-hours stint of raking and weeding our unruly backyard – a chore I hadn’t found time to do since this summer.

At 8:00 pm, as Black Friday shoppers were stuffing their Old Navy, Kohl’s, Gap, and other half-off clothing from the mall into their last few square inches of trunk space, I put away the garden tools, wrestled a bit with our dogs, took a long hot shower, dished out a slice of leftover pie, and sat down with my husband to watch episodes of The Good Wife and Covert Affairs that had been recorded weeks ago.

At 11:00 pm, as Black Friday shoppers were unpacking the last of their loot and adding up how much damage had been wrecked on their credit cards, I crawled into bed, read for a few minutes on my first generation iPad, and drifted off to sleep giving thanks that I truly have a wonderful life.

This Black Friday I got everything I wanted, and it didn’t cost me a dime. What I wanted was time – time with my family, time to myself, time to sleep in, time to sit back and watch a little tv, and time to do absolutely nothing. It’s a luxury I can’t usually afford.

Today I give thanks for the time (Friday), and the time (moments) after Thanksgiving.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Humor, Kids

10 Reasons Why I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving

I live in the East Fernando Valley. The rest of my family resides in various pockets of the Inland Empire – an hour away without traffic, and a slow multi-hour freeway crawl on a holiday like Thanksgiving. As Spock would say, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” so most holidays I’m the one checking Sigalert and making a pit stop at the In-N-Out drive thru to tide myself over before the big meal.

The last time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my home was in 1993. This was pre-kids, and my ex-husband and I prepared a turkey dinner for my mom, siblings, nieces and nephews at the home we rented in Toluca Lake.

Notice that I say: “prepared.”

Sometime mid-morning our oven broke and we finished cooking the turkey in the microwave. The ceremonial slicing of the bird occurred around noon so we could divide it into pieces small enough to fit into the microwave. You didn’t have the option of white meat or dark meat. Instead, it was your choice of “dry as a bone” or “pink enough to cause e coli.”

Besides the long drive and the rising price of gas, the microwaved turkey dinner was probably a good reason for my family to take nearly two decades before allowing me to host another Thanksgiving dinner.

As I write this post, my family will be arriving here in just under an hour to give me another shot. And since my current husband will be doing all the cooking this year (another reason why I think this one’s a keeper), I’m taking a moment to reflect upon the 10 Reasons Why I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving:

1. I am grateful that I get to enjoy a long visit with my Family of Origin, but that they’ll all leave before I remember why I couldn’t wait to move out the second I turned 18.

2. I am grateful that I didn’t have to kill my own turkey.

3. I am grateful that I decided against being cheap enough to make a pumpkin pie out of our leftover Halloween jack-o-lanterns.

4. I am grateful that my family will be so hungry that they won’t notice that we do not own a dining table.

5. I am grateful that that most Americans and I share the belief that Thanksgiving calories don’t count.

6. I am grateful that I am not invited to any social engagements this coming weekend where I would need to try and hide the 5 lbs. I gained on this single day.

7. I am grateful that the turkey’s tryptophane will keep me from waking up early enough to partake in the Black Friday Sales that I can’t afford.

8. I am grateful that there will be a variety of vegetables, but I don’t have to eat any of them.

9. I am grateful that since I am destined to become a football widow today, I’ll have two dozen family members here to entertain me.

10. I am grateful that we had new sewage pipes installed this year, just in case any of my family members have become closet bulimics.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and I hope that your hearts are overflowing with gratitude instead of bad cholesterol.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Kids, Top 10 List

Cathy, the Red Head Mommy

Grey roots

I am an inherently grateful person. Every day I recognize that I’m thankful for my health, my family, my job, the roof over my head – which I know sounds like some syrupy religious freak, but it’s true.

So it surprises me that I am well enough to celebrate Christmas with my husband’s and my family, and yet I’m a little pissed off. The onset of shingles occurred over six weeks ago, and I still have low-grade constant pain and raw, sensitive skin. But I’m no longer bed-ridden, and lucky to be able to enjoy the holiday. However there’s one teensy concern – my vanity.

I apply a shiny layer of Aquaphor to my nose and forehead, which means it’s impossible to wear makeup. I tweezed my eyebrows too much in high school, so now I only have scraggly hairs attempting to cover my brow like a bald man with a bad comb-over. Eyebrow pencil won’t stick to the greasy skin. My left eye is still puffy and red and I’m afraid to put on mascara and eye shadow for fear it will hurt to take it off.

The worst part is my roots. I’ve dyed my hair red for over 20 years, so almost no one knows me as the blonde I grew up as. I started turning grey in my 30’s, and now my natural hair is almost completely grey and white. The left side of my scalp is still burning, so I can’t dye my hair and my roots are now over an inch long.

When did I get to be so vain? I’m excited to spend the holiday with my family, but I’m dreading the photos. This is the time I take photos that will be blown up into 8x10s with a frame that says “Family” on it. I’m afraid I’ll look like Lily, the mom from “The Musters.”

My plan is to wear a big Santa hat that will cover my roots and forehead and avoid cameras as much as possible.

My vanity inspired me to write a little Christmas song to the tune of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” If you can carry a tune, you’re welcome to sing it out loud:

Cathy, the red head mommy

Had a very harsh disease

And if you ever saw her

You would want to laugh and tease

Shingles – they covered her face

Set her head and scalp aflame

She couldn’t put on makeup

Like all them other classy dames

She was groggy from the meds

Her roots had turned to grey

Cathy with her hair so white

Got AARP’s invite

Now with the family photos

Taken throughout Christmas eve

Cathy, the red head mommy:

I’m burning every shot of me!!!

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Filed under Anxiety, Humor, Recuperating

Road Trip With Kids – 40 Years Ago and Today

Road trips sure aren’t what they used to be.

In the early 1970’s, my family took a road trip to San Diego, Tucson, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. We were four kids, aged seven, eight, nine and 10, all sitting in the back seat of a four-door sedan. There may have been two safety belts, possibly three. If we did buckle up, at least two kids shared the lap belt.

This past week, I took two separate road trips with my children and a variety of other kids. They all not only had their own safety belt, but the youngest one was perched in a booster chair. Booster chair? That used to be for babies at the kitchen table. In a car, the youngest child just sat on the lap of an older sibling.

In 1972, the only manufactured sound came from whatever easy listening radio station my mom or stepfather tuned in to, and fortunately for the kids, we were out of range for most of them. Yet on my most recent trip, we used a variety of entertainment devices… simultaneously. I listened to the latest editions of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me downloaded on my iPod, my 4-year old played Angry Birds on my iPad, and my 10-year old and her cousins and friends each brought their own smart phones and spent the trip listening, chatting, playing or texting – often to each other even though they were an inch away from each other.  They watched a variety of DVDs on players with two video monitors – one for each row of seats. My son complained that he wanted to watch his own movie, so I set up Scooby Doo for him on my laptop. Isn’t technology truly amazing? Almost as amazing as today’s kids’ constant need for amusement.

On my childhood trip, we played In Grandmother’s suitcase (“In Grandmother’s suitcase I found an apple, a ball, a cat, a dog, and egg”… continuing through the alphabet) and I Spy. We announced to the entire car every time we spotted a beetle bug (AKA Volkswagon bug), and we sang camp songs and 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall several times. We would all face in one direction and draw pictures on each other’s backs and try to guess what they were. We argued a lot. The most prevalent conversation included the whiny sentence, “He/She is touching me!”

Although my minivan is 14 years old, it still includes many of the creature comforts that didn’t exist 40 years ago: dual-air conditioning, a dozen or so cup holders, arm rests, seats that tilt. When I was a kid, if we were allowed to eat or drink in the car, there was a guaranteed mess (usually melted chocolate), and the only leaning back we did was on one of our siblings (hence the “He/She’s touching me” chant). Air conditioning cooled the front of the car quickly. The back seat waited for the front vents to eventually waft a few feet or we just rolled down the back window and sang 99 Bottles even louder.

Navigation is downloaded on my Android, so no matter where I am, I know where I’m going. Years ago, this used to be accomplished by something called a map. I’m not sure if kids today would even know what N, S, E, W stands for. And forget about trying to fold it properly.

When I was a kid, it was a big deal to see the big plaster dinosaur on the I-10 or get a date shake at Santa Claus Lane. But multiple sequels of Jurassic Park have made the imitation dinosaur kind of cheesy-looking and my kids would definitely prefer a Slurpee at one of the 600 or more AM/PMs we pass on the Interstate to the now-obsolete date shake stand.

Some things never change though. There’s always a point in a road trip when a filthy roadside bathroom can’t come fast enough. However, with the invention of the Double Gulp they’re in even greater demand, and of course, much appreciated over a bush on the side of the road.

If given the choice, travel by car today is infinitely more pleasurable than 40 years ago, even if a speeding ticket and the rise in auto insurance now equals a monthly mortgage payment. The only thing I really miss is the first dozen or so bottles of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. It’s just not as fun teaching my kids the new politically correct version 99 Cans of Red Bull on the Wall.

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Filed under Humor, Parenting