November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Without Martha

I will driving to Michigan either tonight or tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with my grandma. We're very much looking forward to being with her, but not to the strange smells during the eight hour car ride or the horrid traffic through Chicago. Not to mentoned the bazillion tolls on the way through. I tell you the truth that you might as well just drive around flinging dollar bills out the window for three hours from Milwaukee on through to Indiana because that's about what you're doing. Oh, and since my cousin said she might come up from Detroit, which I doubt, because she says a lot of things that never seem to come to pass, like how the Lions will win the superbowl one day. Or crazy things like how organizing everything in Tupperware modular mates is not only a wise investment but a great way to stay tidy, even if the contents include 800 pounds and twenty years worth of clutter. Not that she does that or anything.

We will be dining off of paper plates this year, which I know would disgust Martha's daughter, but my litle granny has a little kitchen without a dishwasher. Not uh. There's no way we're pulling out the china. Even if she had any.

Finding this comforting, if you too are going to focus more on good food and quick clean ups.

Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes:

Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I've gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea.

The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the paper Easter plates and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.

Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand –crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me that it is a turkey.

We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of the comments were made at 5:00 am Thanksgiving day upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

As an accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.

We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door.

Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" – meaning: Do not, under any circumstances enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread. Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of young diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-know name, Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origin or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance.

Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice; take it or leave it.

November 17, 2007

Kickin' Off the Holidays

This is our third year going to the Milwaukee Christmas parade and it has become a little tradition we look forward to every year. My husband's company provides bleacher seats and complimentary peppermint cocoa, apple cider, coffee, and Christmas cookies. The children must have cast on a spell on me this year because I actually volunteered to take two of their friends without their even bringing it up. J brought one of his friends and then I let LiL' J brought his best friend. They've been in school together since K4 which is a long time in kid years.


C is on the left in that photo and he's an adorable little guy.

Every one thinks he's too cute for words so the girls were excited that he was coming. I mean, look at that face, and tell me you don't just want to gobble him up. Or at least pinch his cheeks. Shhh, don't tell her I told you so, but Mooch thinks his big brother is "hot" and LiL' J thought he would be a match maker so he told C's brother when he was at their house. Little brothers are are helpful like that.

The parade started at like 9:30AM so we picked up C at about 8ish and waited which seemed like forever for him to find his shoes. His mom made The Husband a great cup of coffee with the cadillac of coffee machines. The thing made expresso, lattes, cappuchinos, indiviual cups of coffee, folds laundry, and is working on world peace. Envious? I know I am, and I am just now making my way into the world of coffee.

The Husband told me it was my fault that we were running behind because I'm always doing crazy things like brushing my teeth, putting on shoes, and trying to find clean articles of clothing to cover up my nakedness before I leave the house. Such silliness I tell you. Why I don't just leave the house as is I don't know.

Oh wait, that's because I might scare people to death or at least be responsible for my kids dying of embarrassment. Doesn't everyone try to make sure their appearance isn't going to scare the general population when they leave the house? No thats right, I get to run around fishing Star Wars Trooper helmets out of the dogs mouth, insure that my little boy isn't trying to pass off transformer underoos as a winter hat, and explain to my teens that hoodies really do nothing to keep you warm in below zero weather, no matter how cool they make you look.

Apparently he said I would have plenty of time if I get up sooner and get moving faster and that I finally get around to making myself look presentable at very inconvient times, like say, two minutes before we are set to leave. I prefer to convince myself that he's making this up, but it's true that he may perhaps have witnesses to this fact. Don't believe them, they're lying. Remember, these are some of the same kids that told my neighbors that they were hungry because we were poor since their brother was born and we had'nt fed them that day, when they saw that they had hotdogs, when in fact they had just eaten a McDonald's happy meal.

Why did they do this? Who knows. Probably because I made them eat lima beans, brush their teeth, and wash behind their ears. All of which are very undesirable things to do when you are under 4ft tall and this was their way of seeking revenge. And when you really want a hog dog, because your then vegetarian mom, won't buy them due to her fear of seeing her child choke on a long, suspciously brownish-pink colored hunk of unidentifable meat, you're willing to say just about anything. At least I found out why those neighbors used to give me funny looks. I thought the woman was just a beeotch.

After C found his shoes we were on the road and grabbed some croisantwiches at Burger King and headed downtown hoping we'd find some place to park that wasn't five miles away and worth two kidneys.

We scored big time by getting a FREE spot just a few blocks away and we were in fact, not behind our game, but one of the first ones there. We in fact, had to wait forever to anything to happen since we were at the end of the route. (See, dear, I was right this time.)

The weather was lousy though as it was last year and it kept sprinkling off and on which irked me. I have my dream camera this year and I had to keep putting it away so the lens wouldn't get ruined. I so need to get a lense hood. I missed the shot of the man pushing cheap, plastic Dora balloons that are sure to give your child lead poisioning, while wearing a Playboy bunny hat. Because nothing says Christmas like p*rn*graphy symbols.....? I must have missed that memorandum. Ew.

It was jolly good fun though as you can see in this picture.

Why is he leaning on me?

Don't they all look festive? This was clearly after being up half the night and B.C. Or, Before Coffee. I should note that the friendliest, happiest, most affectionate looking child in that photo doesn't even belong to me. At least the frigid wind held off just until we got to the car after the big man himself rolled on by. We skipped the notion of lunch downtown and grabbed some frozen pizza and the lil' boys played some xbox 360 for awhile.

I finally dropped C off and I was able to get into my flannel jammies and fuzzy socks to settle in for some Christmas movies. It's true that I'm easily amused. When you're only 34 and you've been married for what feels like forever, have four kids- presently three of them teenagers-and one grade schooler, you kind of have to be. I have no choice but to be. Any time I'm not cleaning up poop, dog throw up, or preventing a wrestling match on my diningroom table, I'm livin' the life. If I can go to the bathroom without there being a knock on the door to inform me of some freak accident or imagined travesty, I almsot don't know what to do with myself. It's like a holiday.

I've already been feeling like Christmas for awhile now, but I'm forbidden to decorate until the week after Thanksgiving per The Husband's wishes. Each year though I end up sneaking out my Christmas goodies a day or two earlier and he's none the wiser. You know how well some men pay attention to details. I could come home with a red mohawk, one green eye, one brown eye, and four legs and it might take him five days to notice. And that's only after the neighbors have called the police to my house to find out if my husband was aware that a supscious looking mutant freak has been checking our mail and driving our kids around in the family minivan all week.

So I've snuck a few things out of their storage bins and we've already been watching our new favorite Christmas movie, Elf, for about a week now. Squishy is contemplating whether he will tell Santa that he "smells like beef and cheese" and "sits on a throne of lies" like he did last year. Yep. You heard me right. My darling son, did indeed say that to Santa last year. His father offered him a dollar and my son made good on his word. Mooch didn't need any coaxing though. She knew what she wanted and told Santa,"I want a Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle BB gun with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time." She got the world's tiniest camera phone instead. And it indeed tells time. Although, I can happily report that she has yet to shoot her eye out with the thing. Every year The Husband's company throws a family Christmas party for employees with kids. It's a huge spread with pizza, chicken fingers, hot dogs, fries, soda, cookies, ice cream, punch, crafts, and a cookie decorating station. Watch, our kids will probably end up being banned from Santa. Unless there's a new one, which there probably is because oddly enough Santa gets an Extreme Makeover every year and looks almost nothing like he did before. I just used to tell all the kids that Santa's a trickster. (And could really use to pluck his eyebrows and find a decent stick-on beard.)

And now for the pictures, to see more of our life in Milwaukee check out the slideshow. And remember kids, gum on the pavement is NOT free candy.