Sunday, December 30, 2007

Finally home

I wanted to do a post "Christmas by the numbers" but really, I'm too tired for that.

It was going to be something like:

1800 - miles driven

253 - emails unread

5 - presents that hit

15 - presents that missed

1 - call from work, missed as the phone went dead in the low cell service area

5 - consecutive days without internet access

4 - beds slept in

2 - maximum number of nights spent in the same bed

4 - generations visited

3000 - times a child said "I'm bored"

5000 - times a child asked "where are we?" or the altnerative "how much longer 'til we get there?"

17 - family members visited

But with numbers that are more accurate. But then I read the emails and promptly forgot the beginning number. And I have no idea how many miles we traveled except that it's approximately 750 miles to MIL's house and we did some traveling back and forth. The real number is probably closer to 1900 miles.

I'd forgotten how much I hated the cold. I mean I remembered I hated the cold, but forgot why, beyond the fact that it's cold. I'd forgotten the static-y hair thing and how much I HATED it. Nevermind the fact that my hair goes straight and loses any natural curl (seriously, all the teen and preteen girls in the family got hair straighteners and I couldn't even imagine why they would want that). The allergies from the wood smoke which are exacerbated by the EXTREMELY dry air (which caused the static in the hair). The dry skin. Etc. Suffice it to say, I'm happy to be back in humid South Texas. My hair has curl again and is staying in place rather than defying gravity. My sinuses are slowly clearing.

I had coping options when I lived there, but they weren't options I wanted to use for a short visit. Things like a humidifier weren't appropriate for the situation - my mother refuses to use a humidifier and in fact, has to be physically restrained from using a dehumidifier because her windows "sweat" and ruin the woodwork (heaven forbid she research some weatherproofing for her windows). And while leave-in conditioners or hair spray tame the static, I HATE products in my hair, I put up with it while I lived there but always hated it. Now I couldn't imagine going to buy something like that (throw away good money?) and then figure out what to do with it when I head back home (Mr. Gaia would not be happy at transporting any additional "liquid" items).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas memories

We had our work gift exchange this week. Due to Megan's maternity leave and Carrie's firing, we were going to be two gifts short. I decided I needed to knit something so I could take an extra gift so no one would be without a gift. I couldn't figure out why it was so important to me and then I remember a Christmas when I was 12.

This was the first Christmas after my brother died, so my parents naturally didn't want to spend much time at home. They were trying to keep busy and their friends were trying to help. So my mom's friend Cynthia invited us down to Dallas to visit with them - she called Friday night and we went Saturday. We spent the morning going to craft stores and buying materials to bring home and craft. They wanted to make a honey bear - a poseable bear with two manufactured birds' nests and fake bees. The whole thing was tied together with honey colored hot glue dripped all over it to look like the bear was breaking into a bee hive (the 2 birds' nest) - to me it looked like someone had snotted all over it.

Cynthia hadn't explained to my mom that they were having their extended family celebration/gift exchange that night. So we didn't know until we got there. When they told us, I started psyching myself up so that I wouldn't be upset when I didn't get a gift. I wasn't a family member, the other people didn't know we were coming in time to shop. Most of them had never even met me, etc.

But when it came time to open gifts, they all had a gift for me. It touched me so much I've never forgotten it. Since they didn't know me, most of the stuff wasn't my taste, but I kept it anyway and wore the jewelry (I still have some of it) because it made me feel so good when I saw it.

It was especially wonderful for me because our family celebrations have always been dysfunctional at best. My dad's uncle never bought a gift for me and my brothers, even though he did for the other cousins. Okay, he was single and saw my other cousins a lot more than he saw us, but he didn't have to come to family celebration or he could have thought that maybe, just maybe, it'd be a good idea to have at least something small for all the kids. Of course, you'd also have thought one of the other adults would have said something.

Ready for Christmas?

Not quite.

Here's my checklist:

Gingerbread men - done! Mixed up the dough last night and refrigerated it overnight. The boys and I cut them out and baked them tonight.

Reindeer haystack cookies - done!

Potholders - done! The boys worked on those when they got home from school today. They both turned out really well.

Packing - done! I hope we'll be able to do laundry while visiting, otherwise I'm going to run out of warm clothes (frickin' frackin cold fronts).

Knitting projects for car - done!

Last gift for Mr. Gaia ... Well. Yeah. I planned to buy him a kill-a-watt. I saw one in a local store a few months ago. I thought I'd find it again and then got lazy and started thinking it was just a simple matter. Not so much. Thank goodness I have some back-up ideas and we're stopping at the outlet mall in San Marcos (like that won't be a madhouse the Saturday before Christmas).

I spoke to my boss today and told him that when we ran the numbers with actual childcare costs we couldn't make it work. He told me that we'd just stick with my current hours but I could keep the raise (so generous - but I've always known they were cheapskates, which includes to not billing enough, if they'd let me bill more what our work is worth, we'd bring it a lot more revenue).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Crafting with kids

Several years ago, I bought my boys potholder looms. They tried it once and immediately gave it up. I made myself two potholders - one in cool colors and one in warm colors.

When my inlaws were in town, my father-in-law saw them and asked the boys to make him some.

So we pulled it out last night. One was set up with a mix of colors, so I finished it off to have the looms ready for them today.

To start I told them to pick out 2-3 colors of loops (the multicolor one doesn't look that great). Hyperion picked navy blue, baby blue, pink and red. Surprisingly, it looks pretty good. He did blue for the warp and the pink and red for the weft. He's used mostly light blue and pink with the red and dark blue scattered randomly.

Oceanus picked the two blues and white. He did a little more placing of colors to try to get a specific effect. It's turning out well.

I predict that they'll finish these in 2 days. They are slow! They aren't used to crafting so they just don't have the dexterity they need.

After we got that started, I finished cleaning the kitchen so that we could make haystack cookies. I'm not sure what I think of these - chocolate chips, peanut butter and chow mein noodles. But it's a good project for the kids. I melted the chips and peanut butter in my microwave safe bowl, letting the boys mix them as they melted. They added the chow mein noodles and mixed them up, then spooned out a few cookies each. Then they were bored with it and went back to weaving.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Work News

Megan, at 39 weeks, is apparently on bedrest. I have no idea why she is on bedrest, you'd think they'd either induce or section at this point. Of course, I said she'd have the baby by induction leading to section by tomorrow. So we'll see what happens.

My bosses have asked me to go to fulltime work through at least February. I told them I needed a raise. So they offered about $114 more per month (which would be prorated to fit my shorter hours). This doesn't fully cover childcare costs. The extra money I would make by working more hours would result in about $300 extra per month. Mr. Gaia is pissed that I would even consider it for less than an extra $300 per month. I didn't get a raise last year at all and the one the previous year was pretty small. I don't want to work full time and I explained that to them. I told them that I was willing to help out but that I needed to talk it all over with Mr. Gaia.

I think it's a foregone conclusion that I will work fulltime until Megan and my other coworker are back from their medical leaves (other coworker is having a hysterectomy January 10). The only question is will they pay me enough to make Mr. Gaia get off my back.

I'm in a better position than they are right now. I don't *need* this job. It enables us to do more fun things and to actually have some retirement and college savings, but we live off of Mr. Gaia's salary now. But I have that socialized female guilt. Sigh.

I did not get the Parks job. I finally got my letter yesterday. However, the park I really want to work at has reopened their job posting (same position), so I made sure they still have my application.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I hate shopping

Mr. Gaia is impossible to shop for.

We were talking about possible gifts for him. I mentioned an enameled cast iron dutch oven but said La Creuset would be too expensive. He said "the no name brands would be fine". I made a face and he insisted they were fine.

So yesterday Oceanus and I went to Target. To shop for him. He knew I was going to Target. He knew one of the things on my list for him was an enameled cast iron dutch oven. Did he say "but not the Target brand"? Of course not.

So Oceanus and I shop and I find a dutch oven that looks very nice. I checked it over carefully to make sure it was cast iron and not enameled stoneware (apparently this is common with the knockoffs). It was a decent price so I bought it.

I get home and he says "oh, BTW, the enameled cast iron at Target is NOT acceptable".

So, I have to go back and return the damn thing. I am so pissed. And so hurt. He told me the knockoffs were fine. And all that time wasted.

And I'm embarrassed - for not knowing it wouldn't be acceptable. So I feel the need to do this in secret. With, oh, 30 minutes of free time in a day. I have 30 minutes from the time I get off work to when I have to pick up the kids. Somehow I don't think I can drive to Target, get into the store, return the pot, and drive home (or to the school) within 30 minutes.

So, I'm pissed but I can't tell him why I'm pissed. So he's pissy that I'm pissy.

That was yesterday.

Today, I get to work to find out that they had apparently fired one of my coworkers. The one that has been most accepting of me and nicest to me. I don't know why they fired her and I'm not about to ask (I suspect it has to do with missing too many days for illnesses - hers and her son's).

She was the only one else in the office that knew how to set up corporations and write wills. So there's now no one else to help me with that.

So, to recap - 1 going on maternity leave at xmas, one having a hysterectomy 1/10 and now one fired. Leaving ... 2 real estate ladies, me, a receptionist and our bookkeeper.

I still haven't heard an official no about the parks job, so that's up in the air. If I do get offered the job I'm going to feel like a real shit but god help me, I'm going to jump on it.

They haven't asked, but I get the feeling I need to line up after school care for the boys so that I can start working full time. I'm not doing it without a raise. I work for much less than I'm worth so that I could get the hours I need.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Waiting to hear

So, I was supposed to hear about the job in 2 weeks. It's now been almost 3. Just send me my rejection letter already.

Mr. Gaia says he thinks this means I'm second choice. They're waiting to be sure their first choice works out before telling me no.

We got bonuses at work and they were talking about how nice it was to have such a loyal staff, etc. and I felt about this big.

We also had Megan's baby shower at work. I gave her diapers and wipes and made 2 hats. I realized I didn't have wrapping big enough for the package of diapers, so I hastily grabbed all the pink and pink toned yarn I could find and knitted a blanket to cover it. Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn and the blanket is much wider than it is long. I also ran out of time, so it's just as well. AND that's more crappy yarn out of my stash. I'm almost out of yarn in my stash so maybe I can convince Mr. Gaia it's time to buy some GOOD yarn.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Menu planning

So the first week's menu planning was, well, less than successful.

Tuesday we planned chicken soup, but I got sick, so we had leftover ham (which was good because I didn't realize we had some left and they definitely needed to be eaten).

Wednesday had no plan, so we had chicken soup.

Thursday was planned to be grilled pork, but it wasn't defrosted (yes, I forgot to take it out of the freezer) so we had leftover tamales (another leftover I'd forgotten we had).

Friday is frozen pizza night for the kids (we can get a good frozen organic pizza at our local grocery store) and Mr. Gaia and I had leftover soup (no plan for that night).

Tonight we had planned to go to the Island and have seafood, but I slept in (I'm still just a tad bit sick), so we had the grilled pork that was now thawed.

Tomorrow we want to go to the Island, but have a birthday party in the afternoon, so I'm not sure it will happen. I hope so because I would dearly love to have seafood again.

New Cat woes

So Ron. Cute as all get out.

But the boy will not use the litterbox to pee. He'll poop there consistently, but seems to pee where ever he wants. I have no idea what to do. I've never had to housetrain a cat - I've always just put them in the litterbox and that was it.

Any tips?