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This is how I spent a good portion of my day.  Moving Mr. Everything's computers.  Again.  This was the fourth, no fifth, time we have moved this blessed collection of machines.  I hereby decree that it was my last time!

Why do we have all these computers?  Well, I'll tell you.  He's holding onto them, just in case.  Mr. E has saved every computer that anyone has ever offered him since the beginning of time.  Okay, maybe not every computer, but it felt like it today when I was moving them.  Actually, I'm pretty sure he has weeded out a good many of them, but still, it was too many to move.

Do they work?  No.  Why do you ask?  You would assume that if they were valuable enough to move five times, they would at least work.  You would be wrong.

What is the purpose?  Mr. E has saved the computers so he would have parts when he needed them.  This sounds good in theory.  In reality, I do not recall a single time that he ever used a part of one of these computers.  He might have.  I usually tune him out when he talks to me about computers.  For all I know, he could have used a part a week from this stack.  I wouldn't know.  I tell him not to speak his floppy talk to me, but he insists on telling me about gigabytes and trigibytes and ninobytes.  (Okay.  I made those last two up, but it sounded good, right?)  I usually just visualize a cup of coffee or boba tea while he talks.  Coffee and boba tea equal happiness.  Computers do not.

If you are reading this (as I hope my husband will) and you just happen have a collection of dead computers, here are a few signs that it is time to get rid of them:
-If the computer has a floppy disk sticking out of it, it might be time for it to go.
-If your children look at it and laugh, it might be time for it to go.
-If the CPU weighs more than your two children's birth weights combined, it might be time for it to go.  (A few observations here...First, I can't believe I know what a CPU is. I must have accidentally listened to some of the floppy talk.  Second, I wonder if computers are like pillows and mattresses.  Did you know they get heavier over time from the dead skin cells and dust mites inside?  I wonder if that happens with computers.  That's just gross, and it's another reason they need to go.)
-If the computer does not even have a power cord with it, it might be time for it to go.
-If the computer looks like the one in a Star Trek episode, it might be time for it to go.

If your computers have any of these symptoms, please consider seeking help.  There are counselors standing by to help you with your technological needs.  And to my dear husband, Mr Everyting: No, I do not want to discuss my collection of rubber stamps.              

                                                                                                                                         -Al

 
 
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I’m pretty sure he’s trying to make me crazy.  I think he is standing by and watching me as I develop a new twitch daily.  He keeps moving the canisters just to see me squirm.  I stand them up; he tips them down.  I stand them up; he tips them down.  Rinse and repeat.

As I’ve explained before, Mr. Everything is named “Mr. Everything” because he is good at everything, can fix everything and knows everything.  The name does not, however, mean that he is perfect.  He has tried to make it mean that.  When I fuss or get irritated, he says, “But I’m your Everything.  Remember?”  Yeah, whatever.

I love him, but he is most certainly not perfect.  From the beginning of time, he has done little things to irritate me.  Sadly, I don’t know if he does them on purpose or if he is just that quirky.  No matter, they irritate me just the same.

We dated for almost 5 years.  I thought I knew everything there was to know about the man before we got married.  Boy, was I wrong.

On the honeymoon, he neatly rolled our dirty clothes to get them back in the suitcases.  My suitcase ended up looking empty because of the efficient job he did repacking my clothes.  It was certainly neater than how the clothes had traveled when they were clean.  That was a sign of things to come.

A day after we got home from our honeymoon, I discovered the habit that would be the bane of my existence to this very day.  The man folded his dirty clothes.  I am not kidding.  He neatly folded his shirts, pants and underwear to put them in the hamper.  When we were first married, I ever-so-sweetly asked him not to do that, and I quote, “If you don’t stop folding your dirty clothes, I’m going to scream!  If you have time to fold, I have some clean clothes I can give you!!!”  It didn’t work.  He continued folding.  To this day, he folds his dirty clothes.  He says it makes more room in the hamper.  I say it just allows more clothes to be in there for me to have to wash.  He has finally quit folding his dirty underwear, so I guess I’ve made some progress.  Give me another 20 years, and I’ll break him of this habit (or die trying).

I did break him of rearranging the cans in the pantry.  He would move them so they were all facing forward.  It wasn’t that I minded this exactly, because it did make finding what I needed easier.  However, that Julia Roberts movie, “Sleeping with the Enemy,” had just come out.  It was pretty creepy, and I did not want a sequel to take place in my house.  Over time, I got him to adapt to my way of organizing the pantry.  We’ll just call it the "Artsy Method."

I got new canisters for Christmas this year, and I think he’s trying to kill me with them.  They are made so they can sit up with the lids on top or sit at an angle with the lids on the side.  I said they should sit up with the lids on top.  He said they should sit at an angle.  He also said they should sit out on the counter, but I reminded him that his juicer that we never use was already taking up my precious counter space.  I cleaned out the pantry and made room for them, so he gave up the counter/closet battle.  However, he wouldn’t give up on the tilted sideways struggle.

Mr. Everything said the canisters should sit sideways so I could just scoop out what I needed right there in the pantry.  I said he must not be the one who swept the floor.  I’m pretty sure I would have sugar and flour all over the place if I tried to do that.  I said we would carry the canisters to the counter to scoop the ingredients.  Thus, the lids-up method made the most sense.  He disagreed.  I reminded him that, since I did 66.6% of the cooking, the kitchen belonged to me.  He disagreed.  I told him that my happiness overruled his disagreement.  He disagreed.  (He really does need to work on that whole “last word” thing.  I, on the other hand, know that I’m right.  Maybe I’ll go tell him that right now.)

Anyway, this morning, I opened the pantry to get the sugar canister out so I could put sugar in my coffee, and, you guessed it…I found the sugar tilted to the side.  I wonder how many years it will take to break him of that.  Come to think of it, it might be easier just to break the canisters.  -Al


 
 
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Unbeliveable.  My family ate my cooking last night without complaint.  Just unbelievable.  You would think I would be happy about this.  With the food-sniffing Beetle and the whining Goose, you would think I would be over the moon.  But, am I?  No sir, I am not, and I’ll tell you why.

Day in and day out, I cook for my family.  Okay, maybe I don’t cook everyday, but I cook most days unless we have a mystery shopping assignment to complete.  Daily, I answer the question, “What’s for supper?”  I ask for suggestions, but I never get them.  I only get complaints.  No one knows what they want.  They only know what they don’t want, and that’s whatever I’m cooking.

I plan meals.  I go to the store and buy ingredients.  Sometimes, I even follow recipes.  Most of what I cook does not need a recipe because I’ve made it so many times.  Some things I cook, like biscuits and dumplings, can’t be made from a recipe.  They just don’t turn out right. 

Yesterday, I made no plans.  I had nothing in mind for supper.  I didn’t go to the store or plan a recipe or know what I wanted to cook.  Driving home around 6:30 PM, I figured I’d better think about what was for supper.  Of course they were going to be hungry.  They’re always hungry.  So, I took a mental inventory of the contents of our refrigerator.  We had leftover noodles, some gross chicken that no one liked, cream cheese and mozzarella cheese.  In the pantry, I had a jar of vodka spaghetti sauce.  (Does it have vodka in it?  I have no idea why it’s call that.)  As I drove, I weighed the choices of going to the store for the seventeenth time this week or just winging it.  The winging it won.  My plan was just to throw something together and call it supper.  I knew Mr. Everything would eat anything I put in front of him.  I wasn’t that hungry, and I figured the kids would just fix something else anyway.  I just couldn’t make myself put effort into the meal when no one would like what I had to offer.  So, I decided to create a dish.

When I got home, the Beetle greeted me with his traditional greeting of, “What’s for supper?”  “Um, chicken casserole,” I said.  “What’s in it?” asked the Goose.  “Chicken and some other stuff,” I answered, very honestly.  I sent the Goose to get her shower so she couldn’t watch as I mixed the contents.  The Beetle went back to his room.  He only shows himself for 2 minutes at a time, and his showing was over.  Quickly, I threw the ingredients together.  Here is the official recipe:

Contradiction Casserole

Leftover noodles of various shapes and sizes thrown in the bottom of the dish
Gross chicken (that no one would eat in its original form) shredded and placed on the noodles
½ a block of cream cheese cut up and placed throughout the dish
1 jar vodka spaghetti sauce poured on top
Mozzarella cheese to top it all

I baked this at 375 degrees for about 27 minutes. (Actually, I didn’t time it.  It was long enough for me to edit a report and check Facebook.)  And, just like that, dinner was served.

Everyone dug in, and I waited for the, “Oh gross!  I’m not eating this!”  It never happened.  My children each ate a full dish of the concoction and went back for seconds!  Mr. Everything said it was good.  He always says it is good (except for the gross chicken…even he admitted that was bad). 

Now that I know the secret to feeding my children, I have a plan.  Tomorrow, I’m going to go to the pantry to just grab whatever looks good or gross, depending on my mood.  I’ll just randomly mix some ingredients together.  Maybe I’ll top it with marshmallow fluff.  The recipes and plans are going out the window!  Why plan ahead for my little contradictions?  They seem to like the pick of the fridge.  -Al


 
 
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If you ever see me out walking somewhere where the floor or ground is the least bit slippery, you will be amazed to watch as I transform into a 90 year old woman.  I walk slowly and bent over so I can make sure I’m not going to fall.  Or, maybe, I bend over so the fall won’t be so far.  I’m not sure.  I don’t do it on purpose.  I can’t help it.

You see, I fall.  A lot.  I mean, really a lot.  Like, we can base our history on my falls.  “Remember?  It was before you fell for the tenth time at the mall.”  “No, it was right after the tenth time.” “Oh, that’s right.  It was before your tenth fall at Bennigan’s.” “Oh yeah, I remember.”

It’s embarrassing.  I can’t even claim that I fall a lot because I’m getting older.  I’ve been falling since before my kids were born.  I was young then.  They made me old.  I used to fall during tennis practice in high school.  I fell in the hallway one day when I was in tenth grade.  I try not to remember that one, but it sometimes haunts me.  That memory and the reoccurring dream where my best friend convinces me to go to school naked are the things that disturb my soul at night.

The strange thing is that my family and friends never see me fall.  They’ll be walking ahead of me, and the next thing they know, they look back to find me on the floor.

One time when the Beetle was probably about two, I fell in Longhorn Steakhouse.  We were leaving, and we were there with friends of ours.  We were in a group of 11 people, and no one saw me fall.  They were all ahead of me.  I was walking along, minding my own business, when a tomato jumped up and attacked me.  Okay, really, it was on the floor, and I slipped.  I hit the concrete floor hard.  I stayed there for a minute as birds flew around my head and I pushed certain words back into my mouth.  My group turned around to find me on the floor.  They tried not to laugh, but I saw it in their eyes.  That fall, combined with a fateful ride on Doctor Doom’s Fearfall at Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios resulted in knee surgery for me.  I should have sued.  I could have owned Harry Potter’s wand and used it to cook myself a good steak.

Another time was when the Goose was about 14 months old.  This was soon after my knee surgery, and we were in Bennigan’s.  (Until they closed, Bennigan’s near us had really, really slippery floors, and I have many falling-down stories there.)  I was carrying the Goose to the restroom, and I lost my footing.  Trying not to fall on my post-surgical knee and trying not to crush the baby, I landed on my other knee.  I ended up in a kneel.  Tim Tebow has nothing on me…I invented that move.  I heard a lady at a table near me say, “What is she doing?”  I considered loudly saying, “In Jesus’ name.  Amen,” before pulling myself back to a stand.  Instead, I blushed and gracefully got up.  (Really, nothing I do is graceful.  It was more like a moose standing up after a nap.  Have you ever seen how their legs go every-which-way?  That was me.)  Again, my friends and family were not nearby, so no one actually witnessed it except the strangers nearby who did nothing to help me.

My children have gotten so used to me falling that they don’t even react.  They just look over their shoulders at me lying on the ground and say, “Daddy.  She fell.  Again.”  It makes me feel so loved. 

The funniest time was when we were getting off a cruise ship.  The Beetle was about 9 years old, and the Goose was about 5.  Mr. Everything and the Beetle were walking on ahead because they were going to get the truck from the parking garage.  The Goose and I were following behind.  I was holding onto her hand and a rolling suitcase.  I tripped, ever-so-gracefully (This is my story.  I can be graceful.) over a concrete parking thingy.  I fell onto both knees and my hands and immediately started to bleed.  (Easy bleeding is another one of my talents.)  This man came rushing from across the driveway area yelling, “Sir!  Sir!  Sir!” with increasing exasperation in his voice.  Mr. E just stopped and looked at him.  The man said, “Your wife just fell!  Don’t you even care?  Look at her!  She’s bleeding, and you are just walking away!  Don’t you care?”  The look on the Mister’s face was priceless.  I might have been embarrassed, but he got to feel like a heel for the rest of the day.  Of course, I have milked that one for all it is worth.  To this day, I’ll sometimes say, “Sir!  Sir!  Your wife fell!  Don’t you care?”  Good times, I tell you.  Good times.

The most embarrassing fall was one that no one even saw.  (Unless the creepy neighbor was watching from his window.)  It just embarrasses me to even think about it, because I was so stupid.  We had just moved in at my mother-in-law’s house.  She lived on a lot that backed up to a pond, and there were these evil ducks that lived there.  They were pretty; they were pure white with orange beaks.  The kids had named them “Frick” and “Frack.”  Anytime they saw us out, they would come running.  They quacked as they waddled, so they really were cute (if a bird can ever be cute).  They creeped me out, though, because they were very aggressive.  They would try to peck at our feet.  Since I had a fear of beaks (I somewhat overcame that fear while in Jamaica), I would freak out every time they were near me.  What I did not realize was that if someone ran, they loved to chase them.

So, I was out checking the mail.  I was home by myself, which was a very rare occurrence.  As I headed back to the house, I saw them coming.  The Dynamic Duo Ducks were waddling as fast as their creepy little legs would carry them.  I was wearing Crocs, and I was trying to move quickly.  I told myself not to panic, but I didn’t listen.  As they got close, I started running.  Yes.  This was a low point in my life.  I was running from ducks.  My stupid Crocs got in the way, and I ended up tripping over my own feet.  I took a flying leap (literally) and landed hard on the concrete.  As I lay there in a daze, those stupid ducks pecked at my feet.  I managed to get up and get inside before their beaks touched anything but my shoes.  I’m pretty sure if I had stayed there, they would have eaten me alive.

I got inside and examined the damage.  I had two bleeding knees and two bleeding hands.  Luckily, I had not broken my glasses.  They were gold lined and made of titanium or something like that.  I had gotten them back when Mr. E still had a corporate job and good insurance.  To replace them, I would’ve had to sell one of my children.  It would have been a hard choice of who to sell.

I thought about having a roller skating party for myself to celebrate my 40th birthday.  Then I realized knee surgery would not be a good way to start of my new decade of life.  It’s sad that I avoid situations that make me fall, but if you had fallen as many times as I have, you would too.  I’m not sure what makes me fall so much.  Maybe I’m unbalanced.  (What you just thought wasn’t nice.)  -Al


 
 
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It's the day after Christmas, and I'm wearing my watch.  I’m counting the minutes, seconds and milliseconds.  How long do I have to wait until it is appropriate to take down the Christmas tree?  It’s taking up precious space, and it must go.  I don’t want to be a Scrooge, but Christmas is over, right?  The tree has done its job, and while it was nice while it lasted, it is now quickly wearing out its welcome.

Some families think it is bad luck to take down the tree before New Year’s Day.  My family has always practiced the opposite.  We think it’s bad luck to leave the tree up until New Year’s Eve.  I’m pretty sure that’s because the mother will go crazy and impart bad luck on all who live in the house with her.

Yesterday, when the gifts were opened, it was all I could do to relax and not start urging everyone to take their new belongings to their rooms.  The belongings are still in my family room.  They are on the desk.  They are on the floor.  They are on the couch.  They are on the love seat.  They are spilling over into the kitchen and are on the table and on the counters.  They are in my bedroom and bathroom.  I’m pretty sure the only place the new belongings aren’t is in the kids’ bedrooms where they now live.  We have too much stuff.  I’m losing it.

It’s not that I’m a neat freak.  Really, I’m not.  Trust me on that one.  It would take just one glance at my house on a regular day to realize that I am not neat in the least bit.  However, when four people live in 900 square feet, we can’t afford to let the stuff gain control.  I’ve been fighting against the Clutter Coup d’Etat for two years, and the coup is winning.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be ruling this home for much longer.  Unfortunately, the coup, the dust bunnies and the guinea pigs have realized that if they work together, I don’t stand a chance.  Maybe I should just wave the white flag and become a hoarder. (It looks like I already am, so if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.)

I don’t want to be a bad mother.  I don’t want to force my kids to put their stuff in their rooms when they are still obviously enjoying looking at all of it spread all over the house.  I’m biting my tongue, but it’s starting to bleed.  I think I’ll set a clock for a count down.  It’s not the count down until the New Year.  It’s the count down until the stuff can go away.

As for the tree, I’m pretty sure it will be leaving us today.  The Beetle gave me a sad look when I said that earlier, but he doesn’t understand.  That tree is vicious.  It keeps attacking me every time I squeeze by it to get to the laundry room.  (I say this in jest.  It’s actually a laundry closet, but room sounds so much better.)  I have scrapes on my arms from that wicked tree.  It must die or go back in storage; whatever comes first.

I enjoyed Christmas.  I love Christmas.  I will love Christmas more when I am not living in a shoe box.  I used to decorate and make the house look so pretty.  Now, if it doesn’t serve a purpose, it must go.  Christmas decorations have no place in my home.  Unless they learn how to sweep, mop or do dishes, they can’t stay.  (I keep saying the same thing to my kids, but they aren’t leaving.)


I would go take a nap, but there is stuff on my bed.  I’d take a bath, but I’m pretty sure there are toys in there.  The stuff is surrounding me.  It’s closing in.  I can't breathe.  Someone come help me.  Save me from the clutter.  Come quickly before it’s too late.  Bring your snow shovel.  You’re going to need it.  -Al



 
 
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My Christmas has been great.  As I was washing dishes earlier and thinking about the last 24 hours, I started thinking about my favorite things.  Most of my favorite things aren’t even things, but they are my favorites anyway.  My Christmas certainly isn’t over yet as we still have my mother-in-law’s house and my parents’ house to go.  However, I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen my favorite things.

My favorite gift, hands down, was the gift card given to me by the Goose.  The amount and the store didn’t really matter.  (But, by the way, she bought a gift card from one of my favorite stores and spent a week’s allowance on it.)  The fact that she bought me a gift with her own money that she earned is absolutely precious, and I will cherish that fact forever.  This is the first year that has happened, and I am thrilled because she focused on doing for others instead of focusing on what she was going to get!  Not only did she buy me a gift, but she bought one for her brother, her father and her pseudo-cousin, as well.  For her real cousins, she made hand-made gifts.  She put a lot of thought into all of the gifts she bought and made, and to watch it was a blessing.  This mother’s heart is warm.

My favorite moment was last night on Christmas Eve when my kids were baking cookies for Santa.  I’m pretty sure the Beetle was just there for the cookie dough, but he was there none-the-less.  For just a brief moment, my kids were little, and they were getting along.  They both laughed and joked, and no one bickered.  It was a glimpse at how life used to be before hormones started bouncing all around and making my kids crazy.

My favorite fact was that the Goose still believes in Santa.  This very-well may the last year for that, and I loved it while it lasted.  She had to make the annual reindeer food and leave her drawing and note to Santa.  She has left him gifts in the past, but this year, she chose to draw him a beautiful picture.  In a time when both my kids seem to be growing up so quickly, she is still little in some ways.

My other favorite fact was that the Goose woke up at 1:00 in the morning because she was so excited about Santa coming.  (And I love the fact that she told me that this morning instead of waking me at that time!)  Can’t you remember that anticipation and excitement?  I’m glad she has that, even though she lives in a world of technology and instant gratification.

My third favorite fact was that the Beetle woke up at 2:00 AM in anticipation.  (I have a lot of favorite facts.)  Although he is a little older, and he believes a little differently than the Goose does about Christmas, he was excited!  Normally, he is so emotionless that I was glad to see a little excitement.  (And, again, glad that he told me about it this morning.)

My favorite expression was the look on the Beetle’s face when he realized he was getting the one thing he really wanted, a rifle.  I had been saying for months that there was no way I was going to let him have a gun.  I had him convinced.  We had disguised it so he wouldn’t know right away that he was getting it. (By the way, it’s really hard to disguise a gun.)  When he realized it, I saw my three year old little boy who was always happy and was always excited.  It was a rare moment.

My favorite after-gift opening activity was cooking while listening to my family.  I actually enjoy cooking when I’m not having to work all the time.  I loved hearing the Goose hum and singing contentedly while playing with her new doll.  I enjoyed seeing and hearing Mr. Everything and the Beetle out shooting the new gun.  I’m not sure at this point whose gift that really was, because Mr. E was as excited as the Beetle.  (By the way, for those of you who are worried, we have already put rules in place.  The Beetle will not be shooting by himself.  We have a trigger lock and a lock on the other thingy on the gun.  Plus, the Beetle has been through gun safety training.  Relax, mothers, I’m not completely crazy.)

My favorite realization was how much our Christmas has changed over the years.  When we were first married, I insisted on having a fancy breakfast and using the Christmas dishes on Christmas morning.  Now, I don’t even own Christmas dishes.  We had breakfast on the couch while admiring our gifts.  I like that better, because it suits us.  We aren’t fancy.  We weren’t fancy back then, but I was trying to establish traditions.  Now, we have traditions and quirky things we do, and it suits us much better.

I rushed into Christmas this year.  We were out of town until December 16.  I wrapped presents here and there when I had time.  Normally, I put everything out and make sure what I have for my kids is even and that we are giving them a fair amount compared to Santa and other people.  I realized this morning, with horror, that my kids each only had two presents under the tree from us.  They each opened two last night, and one was an electric toothbrush (Lamest. Gift. Ever.).  If I had known we didn’t get them anything, I would’ve made them wait!  I felt really bad and was afraid they would be upset.  If they were upset, they hid it well.  I’m pretty sure they just shrugged it off as, “Mama is crazy.”  I’ll accept that. 

This was a Christmas full of blessings and love.  I came away loving my kids a little more (if that's possible) and feeling like I might actually be raising decent human beings.  I can’t say that about every Christmas.  Some years, I have regretted giving them anything and have vowed to deprive them for months just to make them less rotten.  This year, they did their mama proud.   -Al



 
 
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I’m just going to say it.  I don’t believe Jesus was born on Christmas day.  (Gasp!)  It’s true, and what’s more is that I don’t believe we even have to celebrate Christmas. (Put your torches and pitch forks down.  Let me finish.)

The Bible does not tell us when Jesus was born.  I’ve heard conflicting information about when it probably really happened, and I don’t know what the truth is.  What I do know is that if the actual date mattered, God would have told us.  The word ‘Christmas’ is not mentioned in the Bible.  There is no commandment to celebrate Christ’s birth.  It’s okay if you choose not to celebrate.

Now, having said that, let me finish.  (Tell the angry mob to hush so you can hear what I have to say.)  I believe that we should be celebrating Jesus every day of the year.  I think Christmas is great because it’s a time of year when people are talking about Christ.  You hear Jesus’ name in songs in stores.  That does not happen except September through December (the retail Christmas season).  How awesome is it that people are nicer and more generous at Christmas?  Why can’t they be that way every day of the year?

That’s why I’m calling for a Christmas Revolution!  Will you join me?  Here is what I am suggesting; instead of celebrating Jesus once a year, let’s celebrate Him every day.  How can we celebrate Him?  I think we can do it by giving the world some of what Jesus gave to us.  We can never be as great as Jesus.  After all, He was perfect.  We are human, so we will mess up and do stupid things.  However, if we work day to day to be more like Jesus, we can make great changes in our world.  Here are a few things I will do in my Christmas Revolution:

Jesus gave me grace, so I will give grace to others.  This is a tough one.  I know there are people in your life that you haven’t forgiven.  We all have them.  I have them too, although I am trying day by day to forgive.  You might be holding onto something big like abuse from your parent or harm that someone caused your child.  You could be holding onto something silly like being cut off in traffic or having a gift card stolen from your mailbox.  Either way, it’s time to forgive.  The Bible says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that the person you need to forgive doesn’t deserve it.  He or she hasn’t asked for your forgiveness and hasn’t done anything to make it better.  Well, I say, you didn’t deserve the forgiveness through Christ either, but if you believed and obeyed, He forgave you.  Pay it forward.  Forgive someone else.

Jesus prayed for me, so I will pray for others.  Did you know that Jesus prayed for you?  Read John 17, starting with verse 20.  That’s about you, and it’s about me.  Jesus prayed for us.  We should pray for others.  The second part of James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  If you believe, you can help others just by praying for them.

Jesus gave me mercy to me, so I will give mercy to others.  Another word for mercy is compassion.  Jesus was compassionate to many.  In John 8, we read about a woman who was caught up in adultery.  Jesus could have embarrassed her.  He could have given her a good tongue-lashing right there in front of everyone.  After all, she deserved it.  She was not following the law, and she was sinning.  Instead, Jesus gently told her in verse 11 to go and sin no more after reminding her accusers that they weren’t perfect either.  When I see situations where people are obviously doing wrong, I can either get up on my high horse and condemn them, or I can remember that I am a sinner too.  I can treat them as humans and show them compassion.  I choose mercy, because I want mercy.  There have been times in my life when I chose to sit on my high horse, and I found that I got knocked off the horse pretty quickly.  I regret those times.  I have no right to judge or condemn others.  Instead, I will show them love and mercy as that is what Christ would have done.

Jesus gave me blessings, so I will bless others.  God has given me everything.  He gave me my very next breath.  See…(Sigh)….He gave me that.  I can’t give others breath, but I can give them other things.  God gave me everything so who am I to keep it from other people?  It’s not mine anyway!  I may not always be able to give a million dollars to someone, but I can give what I can give.  (That was very profound wasn’t it?)  Luke 6:30 says, “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.”  Use the discernment that God gave you.  Don’t be scammed, but give, give, give.  And if you do get scammed, just know that you did your part and God will take care of the scammer.

Jesus gave me peace, so I will give peace to others.  I have a peace through Christ.  It’s called the “Peace that Passes Understanding,” and Paul talks about it in Philippians 4:7.  If you have it, you know what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, you think I’m crazy.  (Okay, you might think I’m crazy anyway.)  We can’t give that kind of peace to others, but we can work to make peace.  We can choose to “stir the pot” and cause trouble, or we can choose to be at peace as much as possible.  A very wise man told me once that it takes two people to argue.  If you will just shut up, the argument is over.  It’s true!  Try it!  You’ll see amazing results.  Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  You can only do what you can do, but do your part.

So, that’s it.  This is the Christmas Revolution that is sweeping the nation. (Or the three people who read my blog.)  Will you join me?  If we brought a little Christmas to every day, we could change the world!  You can even rock that ugly Christmas sweater all year long if it will help you get in the spirit of things!   -Al



 
 
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I’d rather be 40 than pregnant.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved having babies.  I also loved when it was over and I had my body to myself.  It was fun while it lasted, but I don’t want an alien being living inside of me again.

I’d rather be 40 than 13.  13 was an ugly age, literally and figuratively.  It was the time when I had big feet, like a puppy who hadn’t grown yet.  I had big 80s hair and braces.  And middle school kids were mean!  They still are.  If you need proof, go hang out in the hallway at a school for a few minutes.  They’ll have no problem shoving you out of the way.

I’d rather be 40 than a boy.  I like being a girl.  When it’s raining, I don’t have to go get the car.  When the trash needs to go out, I’m not the one who takes it.  When the grass needs mowing, you won’t see me out there having an allergy attack.  Why?  Because I’m a girl.  I’m so glad God made me female, and I plan to stay that way.

I’d rather be 40 than an elephant.  Did you know mama elephants carry their babies for 22 months?  Then, they nurse them for four to five years!  Can you imagine?  I’m glad I’m 40.

I’d rather be 40 than a twin.  I already have to share my birthday with the week of Christmas.  I’d hate to have to share my birthday with my sibling! Plus, with my luck, she would be cuter than me.

I’d rather be 40 than 22.  At 40, I’ve had enough experiences that I feel like a real-live grown up.  I don’t feel like I’m pretending.  When I was 22, I was married and owned a house.  People expected me to be a grown up.  However, in my head, I was 16.  I kept waiting for someone to catch on to the fact that I was just pretending to be an adult.  I’m glad I’m an adult now.  I care a whole lot less about what others think of me, and I don’t worry about getting in trouble anymore.

I’d rather be 40 than a foot doctor.  I think feet are very creepy.  While I would like mine rubbed all the time, I really don’t want to touch anyone else’s.  Can you imagine a job where you have to touch feet all day?  And these aren’t normal feet.  These are feet with issues.  Ewww.

I’d rather be 40 than a hair stylist.  Hair creeps me out.  If you don’t believe me, read about the Disney Incident.

I’d rather be 40 than a massage therapist.  Basically,  I just don’t like to touch people in general. (Which is kind of ironic, because I’m a toucher!)  I always think about the “Friends” episode where Ross gave a massage using wooden spoons.  That would be me if I had to give massages.

Now that I’ve considered my other options, 40 isn’t so bad.  I didn’t ask to be this age.  I wasn’t even expecting it.  Since it’s here, though, I might as well make the best of it!  I’m 40.  Yay me.  -Al


 
 
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Now, let me just warn you.  It’s time for a pity party.  You’re invited to join in, but you don’t want to stay too long.  It’s not a happy place.

This isn’t a plea for attention.  This isn’t a plea for presents or cards or “Happy Birthday” messages.  Really, it’s not.  If you send them now, I’ll just think you felt sorry for me.  So keep your stinkin’ birthday festivities.  I don’t want them.  (In case you aren't familiar with the term, that's called "cutting off your nose to spite your face.")

Why am I complaining?  Well, thank you for asking.  I’ll tell you why.  Having a birthday three days before Christmas stinks.  It always has, and it always will.  Anyone who has a birthday during the week of Christmas knows what I’m saying.  The rest of you can pretend, but you don’t really know.  (You can’t say I didn’t warn you about the pity party….)

Why does my birthday stink?  Why, thank you for asking!  (You really are asking the right questions today!)  It stinks because my birthday is always an afterthought.  Always.  You can deny it.  You can say it’s not, but it is.  No one thinks about my birthday. They think about Christmas, and then they say, “Oh yeah, someone I know has a birthday around that time.”  It’s not that I blame them.  Christmas is a busy time of year for everyone!  I just got an unlucky birthday.  It's not anyone's fault, but it still stinks.

Having a Christmas birthday stinks because your cake (if you are lucky enough to get one) is red and green.  Who wants a red and green birthday cake?  No one.  Why?  Because it’s not a birthday cake.  It’s a Christmas cake.  I’d say it would just be better not to get a cake at all, but it really wouldn’t.  I’ve had that pleasure for several years now.  Last year, I didn’t even get a stinking dessert.

Having a Christmas birthday stinks because you get part of your Christmas presents on your birthday.  My parents can deny it all they want to, but I know what they did.  When I was little, they bought presents and placed them out and said, “Okay.  These can be for her birthday, and the rest will be for Christmas.”  Did I get the same number of presents as my sister who has a normal birthday?  Well, we’ll just never know, will we?

Having a Christmas birthday stinks because your birthday presents get wrapped in Christmas paper.  Why is that a big deal?  Because a birthday present wrapped in Christmas paper is NOT a birthday present!  It’s a Christmas present that someone gave you for your birthday.  If you don’t believe me, let me give you a gift wrapped in Christmas paper for your birthday in July.  We’ll see how you like it.

Having a Christmas birthday stinks because you can’t have a party.  I had a big party two times in my life.  One time involved a very creepy clown, and I don’t want to discuss that.  The other one was an ice skating party.  My two best friends couldn’t even come because they were out of town for Christmas.  Everyone is out of town for Christmas. 

Having a Christmas birthday stinks because you can only wish for things once a year.  It doesn’t matter so much now, but remember when you were little?  If you wanted a new bike, your parents would say, “Wait until your birthday!”  New roller skates?  “Ask for them for Christmas!”  For me, it was, “I guess you’ll have to wait a full year and see if you get them for your birthday or Christmas.”  Boy, I’m in a bad mood.

Before I tell you the story of this year's birthday celebration, let me just say that my parents have always tried to separate my birthday from Christmas.  They never wrapped my presents in Christmas paper, and they bought me non -Christmas cakes when I was a kid.  They tried.  They really did, but Christmas trumps birthday every time.  (I have to defend the parents, you know, because rumor has it that they read my writings occasionally.  The last thing I need is angry parents three days before Christmas!)


So, this year is a big birthday.  I mean, a really big one.  Like the big 4 – Oh-my-goodness-I-am-so-old.  Do you know how my family celebrated?  Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up.  We were at my parents’ house on Wednesday.  We eat there every Wednesday night before church.  Daddy cooked, so the Mister and I picked up a frozen pie for dessert.  We had already cut the pie and were eating it when my parents asked when we were going to celebrate my birthday.  I said I didn’t know, and they said we should have done it that night.  Then (again, not making it up), they asked if it would be okay to celebrate it then.  Well, sure.  Why not?  So, they put ‘4’ ‘0’ candles on the last remaining piece of pie in the plate and sang the annual birthday song. (You do not want to hear my family’s version of the birthday song.  Take my word for it.)  I was given a present and a card, and my birthday was over before it even began.  It was quite the celebration.  So, crappy birthday to me.  Bah-humbug.   -Al

A Statement from the People Pleaser: Although I sound ungrateful and unhappy, I deeply appreciate any gift, any card and any birthday wish anyone gives me.  I’m just in a bad mood.  Most of the time, I am very thankful for anything anyone gives me or does for me.  I’m allowed to be a selfish brat only once a year, on my birthday.  If you don’t like it, you might want to stay away from me for the rest of the day.  I will return to my sunny (yeah, right) self tomorrow.  And, if YOU think I’m grouchy, just think how Mr. Everything, the Beetle and the Goose feel.  They have to live with me.  Even the turtle is avoiding me today.



 
 
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Sing it if you dare…

On the first day of Christmas, my family gave to me, a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the second day of Christmas, my family gave to me, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the third day of Christmas, my family gave to me, three dirty footprints, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my family gave to me, four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my family gave to me, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my family gave to me, six stinky shoes, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a- aun-dry.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my family gave to me seven arguments.  Six stinky shoes, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the eight day of Christmas, my family gave to me eight soured towels.  Seven arguments, six stinky shoes, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my family gave to me nine empty cups.  Eight soured towels, seven arguments, six stinky shoes, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my family gave to me ten new grey hairs.  Nine empty cups, eight soured towels, seven arguments, six stinky shoes, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my family gave to me eleven crushed goldfish.  Ten new grey hairs, nine empty cups, eight soured towels, seven arguments, six stinky shoes, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big pile of la-a-aun-dry.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my family gave to me twelve wrinkled shirts.  Eleven crushed goldfish, ten new grey hairs, nine empty cups, eight soured towels, seven arguments, six stinky shoes, five phones that ring.  Four piles of mail, three screaming fits, two sinks of dishes and a big…pile….of….la-a-aun-dry!!!

Whew.  I need to go lie down.   -Al