Monday, November 28, 2011

Hectic Holiday Shopping... sort of.

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is so... ugh! Hurry, hurry, hurry to get the gifts bought before you miss the good deals and end up with the other procrastinators at the Maul on Christmas EVE! Of course, we have to be reminded at every step what the REAL meaning of the holiday is. An also, of course, the meaning varies greatly depending on who you ask.

This year I care more about finding a little PEACE than about anything else. I just want to get through this season in one piece. With the moves, the sister's wedding, and all the other stuff going on I wish the holidays were more of a holiday and less of a chore. Take this past weekend for example. The day after Thanksgiving, otherwise called Black Friday, is the most insane shopping day of the year and I do my best not to venture out AT ALL on that entire weekend. Yesterday, however, I had no choice. The two younger girls have a uniform style dress code for school in this town, and I got rid of anything resembling a polo or slacks when we moved to the country last year. We had gotten by for two weeks or so but the teachers were starting to make a fuss so, off through the crowds I went with feeble paycheck in hand.

Thankfully, DH did not leave me to fight the horde alone. He spent the first four hours with me and all three hooflings, going store to store, shopping - in vain - for pants that weren't too tight, too long, too this, or too that. By 4:30 though, he had toughed it out as best as he could and, as luck would have it, he had to rush home to be by the computer in case of work calls. Being on-call can suck, you know?

When I dropped DH off, I left the older two girls with him so I could focus more efficiently on the problem shopper of the day. I swear, there is nothing more frustrating than EG trying on every pair of pants and shoes in THREE DIFFERENT STORES only to walk away empty handed. This child has the ability to find something wrong with ANYTHING, and have a valid point to argue against it. She isn't called the Evil Genius for nothing.

I couldn't bail out and come back another day, though. The temperature outside has dropped to pre-winter levels and skirts and shorts just aren't going to cut it out there. I had to get some pants and warm school clothes or risk getting a call from the school for sending them to school inappropriately dressed.(Yes, they will do that around here.)

The best (read: worst) part of the evening, though, was finally finding TWO pair of slacks that she liked and then trying to check out only to find my card was rejected. I hate this crap. I suck at math and if I am over my limit  by so much as a few cents, I get denied. Then I get confused and have no idea how far off I might be, so I really have no choice but to leave my stuff and come back after I check the bank balance. I even signed up for a bank service that will send me my balance if I text to them for it. Yeah,...thing is, it only works if YOU REMEMBER THAT YOU  CAN USE IT. When I realized I could have avoided the whole disaster by using something I already signed up for, I wanted to kick myself all the way down the block.

Anyway, I managed to find a pair of uniform-approved warm leggings at home for EG to wear with a uniform skirt so that she wouldn't freeze at school today and I ran back to the store this afternoon to get the clothes I had picked out but left behind. Thankfully, I paid VERY close attention to what we got last night so I only needed to run in, grab the right size off the correct rack, and go.

Why couldn't it have been that easy yesterday?

Deb "Unshopper" Lollar

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I always tell people who ask, that I am not a chocolate person. I don't crave it. I don't put it on top of ice cream. I'm not terribly fond of things made with it. Most importantly, I don't eat it plain. Every now and then I will see a candy bar or a box of fine chocolates and I'll think, "Wow! That looks good!" However, I learned the hard way that it never really tastes as good as it looks.

So why am I sitting here eating a second piece of chocolate? I'm just not sure.

I think the heart if it is that all chocolate is not created equal. The normal every day Pennsylvania brand stuff just doesn't "do" it for me. It's too sweet and gritty and not at all enjoyable. I can tolerate it when it has almonds or peanut butter with it, but alone - blech. I once got a giant "kiss" shaped candy for Valentine's. I finally threw it away after it collected dust for an entire year.Why should you feel like you are suffering through a treat? However, there are some chocolates that I DO enjoy. Dark chocolate, I've learned, can be very tasty. Dove is pretty good, too. Even the milk chocolate is quite good. I like brownies and chocolate cake, as long as there isn't any additional icing on it. Oh, and I do enjoy tiny slivers of the family dessert that is made from a million skinny layers of wafer-like cake and chocolate ganache.

So, I guess it isn't that I'm not a chocolate person, it's that I only really enjoy GOOD chocolate. The problem is that I also have developed a sweet tooth (thanks to DH) and there are times (like every day after dinner) that I start looking for something dessert-like. If there is only REGULAR chocolate around, I will eat it. I just won't enjoy it. How dumb is that to, eat something you KNOW you won't enjoy?

Around the holidays it gets even worse. Once the Halloween candy comes in, I give in to the flashy, colorful draw of the wrappers. I immediately feel yucky for eating something I didn't like (as well as guilty for filching my kids candy) but it doesn't seem to act as much of a deterrent. Christmas candy isn't much better. By the time Valentine's Day gets here, I feel like punching anyone who tries to give me any kind of chocolate or candy of any sort.

The other part of this is that I have learned that there are, in fact, medicinal purposes to chocolate.One of the reasons there are so many people who become truly addicted to it, is that it really does cause your brain to be happier. I have found that at times of stress, a small piece of chocolate really can help and what can be more stressful than the Holiday season? I'm beginning to think  that maybe the chocolate makers are REQUIRED to pump the public with all this chocolate just to keep the number of assault and battery cases to minimum between October and February.

This past week, as you know, has been a real test to my limits of sanity. From the awesome wedding of Spike and her Walrus, and all the fun and family reunion-ing, to a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, to the sudden and tragic loss of our beloved doggie, to attempting to make holiday plans without my in-laws for the first time in 14 years (they just moved to Colorado, so they can't make it back to visit just yet.) Plus, I just saw the pictures from the wedding and, sure enough, I did -indeed - look as much like a bloated whale in sequins as I thought I did.

While my mom and D were here, they bought us some extra treats, knowing that they might be needed in the coming weeks. Thank you two for your generosity and foresight! Along with the ice cream and the fancy butter (trust me, it t has to be experienced to be believed) they brought a bag of assorted mini chocolates for the kids and a bag of milk chocolate Dove bites just for me.

Maybe my brain instinctively knew that it would help or maybe I'm giving in to binge eating because of stress. Who knows? All I can be sure of is that I truly believed I wouldn't touch any of the candies, but I've had at least one every day since they got them. I have to say, I feel better and much less guilt when I just resign myself to having just one and leaving it at that, instead of fretting over it all day. It feels so opposed to who I think I am by negotiating with my brain over chocolate, of all things. I guess with age comes wisdom, and a bizarre need for chocolate.

Deb "Kisses" Lollar

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wacky Dreams

This morning, I found all three of my girls were running low grade fevers and they all had sore throats. It looks like the Traveling Plague got to them and I kept them all home on the outside chance that what they have is contagious. That meant I got a reprieve on morning duties and I snuggled back into bed for a few more minutes...okay, hours. This led to some pretty cool and unique dreams that I remember very clearly.
These dreams are just too odd and cool that I had to share them with SOMEBODY... and my husband is tired of listening to them, so here goes:

First, I was looking at a house to potentially buy. It was HUGE. The floors were hardwood that had been painted a few times. You could tell because they were worn and you could see chips of paint from the past colors showing through. Walking around this house, I was wondering why it was so big, and why were there so many different rooms? There were THREE kitchens, three or four bathrooms, a laundry room with eight sets of washer and dryers (like a laundromat, but not coin operated,) and there had to be six other rooms besides that. The previous owners had left lots of stuff behind, like furniture and decorations. That was when I realized the place had been a day care! I immediately started thinking about what I could do with all that space and all those rooms. Maybe, I could invite one of my sisters to come live with us, share the rent, and enjoy the room! There was a whole group of people there with me, most of them had worked in the place before, or were part of the team of realtors that was trying to sell the house. We all pitched in and took an area and everyone started cleaning, taking down the belongings of the old owners, and eventually they brought all my things in for me.

I was really tired from all the work so I decided to lie down on one of the beds to take a nap, and I started dreaming. (I know, very Inception-like, but my late morning dreams usually are.) In THIS dream, I was millions of years in the past and I was witnessing all the animals that roamed the area. There were so many herds of different creatures that scientists would never discover! I can't even describe how beautiful they all were. This dream became a flying dream, at this point, and I was able to fly fast and high over miles and miles of green grass and huge trees. The animals were roaming, and different herds were mixed together, just running along side each other. I tried to fly higher, over the really tall trees, but I found I couldn't go higher anymore. I started to drift closer to the ground and I knew it was time to wake up from this dream.

After that I was back in the big house with all the rooms again, just waking up from my nap. This time, it was only a short time in the future. Instead of turning the place into a daycare, I had turned it into the coolest, high-end, resale shop EVER. I had a signature fragrance that filled the air and the floors were refinished and gleaming. There were marble and brass accents everywhere, and all the employees were female, beautiful, and dressed extremely well. All the racks were filled with fashionable clothes and each of the areas was dedicated to a different style. I had a whole room for bags and luggage, another area was for belts and accessories. I had a separate section for evening wear and professional day wear. Not everything was re-sale, though. I had up and coming designers making brand new clothes that I mixed in. People were coming from all over the state to shop at my place. I was in charge of everything and the people who worked for me were all kind and honest, but very hip, and all of them bought and sold for me exactly the way I would have done it myself. As I realized that I was waking up from the dream, I tried to remember every detail so I could write it down when I woke up, because this was just the coolest idea I had ever had.

I really don't believe that other people can analyze your dreams for you. Certain things always mean the same things to me, but they might be different for someone else. Anyway, I know what all this dreaming was about, and that's really what I wanted to share with you all.

The first part of the dream is about me and who I think I am. Houses always mean "Me" in my dreams. Because it was a house I was looking at and it was in disrepair it reminded me that I haven't truly found who I want to be and I still have work to do. All the people helping me served to remind me that I can't do all this alone. I have to ask for help, and allow people to help me, and I need to go out and meet the new people that will shape my life in the future.The multiple kitchens and rooms reminds me that I have many purposes to fulfill. Sometimes it feels like I do the same thing over and over again, but there are many, many reasons I do what I do and they are all very important.

The second part of the dream is my way of finding a little peace and happiness. I love flying dreams because they always make me feel so free. The ancient animals is my way of wishing for things in my past; things no one would understand but me.

The last part of the dream is something I wish for my future. That I can be fabulous, and maybe even wealthy, but I would do it in a way that would help other people, instead of taking advantage of those who have disposable income. I have always wanted to be in charge of something that other people admired. Dressing fashionably and with class has always been a secret sort of dream for me, but I never have been able to achieve it. I am short, round, and terribly limited in the sort of money required to wear chic suits every day. Besides, I work at home...okay I STAY at home and sometimes I make money for what I do. There is no reason to wear anything more dressy than jeans. Still, if I could have a job where I was able to buy things (whether I wore them myself or not) and turn around and make money doing it... I would wear suits every day for the rest of my life.

So there you go. A little insight into the strange labyrinth of my mind.

Deb "The Dreamer" Lollar

Monday, November 14, 2011

Update, finally

Yes, this is an especially long post, but I have a lot to say and that I want to share. So, bear with me, if you will. I finally have my writing muse back.

So, after a whirlwind couple of weeks, we finally got everything moved out out of my in-laws house and all our stuff moved in. We still have some work to do around the house, but it was expected when we agreed to rent here, and I'm looking forward to it. I love remodeling houses. I have to wait a little bit longer before I can grab the hammer and paint. That earthquake that hit OKC a few weeks ago? We felt it here. And it knocked a crack in the foundation.

Anyway, two weeks after we moved, we took a family trip to Austin to get my baby sister, Spike, married off to the most wonderful man ever (next to DH, of course.) I volunteered to decorate the cake if she could get someone there to bake and ice it. She found a sympathetic baker in town to help her out (under a budget no less!) and I spent several days going to hobby shops looking for the perfect leaf-shaped cookie cutter and making home made fondant from marshmallows. Of course, nothing was prepared as early as we would have liked, and I spent more than 2 hours on Thursday night coloring, rolling, cutting, and preparing 100 little ivy leaves out of fondant. They were beautiful and tasty and I even managed to get them to the wedding in time and in one pieces (well, 100 pieces, but you get my drift.)

The rest of my Thursday evening  was spent dress shopping for the girls who were all part of the wedding party. Spike is the absolute coolest bride ever and was so conscious and gracious to think about everyone else and their budget and time constraints. All the Bridesmaids wore a green dress - whatever style or color they wanted, as long as it was green. Spike also bought the flower girls' dresses for EG (a sensible little frock from a local place) and so I only had to buy a similarly colored dress for LH and TD. I had done the window shopping ahead of time, so all we had to do was go in, try on the right size and choose some shoes to match. This seriously was the easiest shopping trip I had ever taken all three girls on. I had a dress already that had been a gift from my mother, and it was the perfect color, style, and even didn't look horrific on me. All was well.

Friday I packed the car, picked the kids up from school a little early, and once DH wrapped up his half day, we hot the road for the 3 hour trip to Austin.

The trip down there was uneventful, and we made it to town in time for the rehearsal (if not the dinner part) and We checked into the hotel rooms before it was too terribly late. Of course, weddings mean fabulous hair, so Friday evening I got to spend quality time with my niece, Monster, straightening out her hair. This is ALWAYS the highlight of my day, because I LOVE playing with Monster's beautiful, bouncy, curly, hair. Instead of a Bachelorette Party we all got some quality girly time while my other sister, Pookie, put another niece's hair (we call her Awesome) in curlers. My three girls were all bouncy and excited about the wedding and totally wired - until three seconds after the lights went out. Traveling with older kids is SO much easier than when they were babies.

Saturday morning, of course, was when everything took longer than it was supposed to, and everything seemed to be running late, and we thought for sure we wouldn't get everything done in time, but of course it all came together at the last moment. I decorated the cake with the help of Pookie, and it came out beautifully, and was delicious. DH was asked to stand in for the Officiant, and he led the ceremony with every bit of class and poise as he always does. Spike was beautiful, radiant, and happy. The groom, Walrus, was sweet, and humble, and everything I wanted for my baby sister. Mom played a set of songs for the father/daughter dance, the mother/groom dance, and the first couples dance. WP cried, because that's what he does. The grooms mother cried even more, because that's what SHE does. The happy couple whispered and laughed, because that is what THEY do.

After the wedding was over and the mess was cleaned up, we all ate a fabulous dinner at a local taco place and then we retired back to the hotel for some rest for the kiddos and the husbands while the sisters gathered in a separate room for some visiting with our mom. Actually, it was more than just the sisters. My only brother was there, too. He brought his new girlfriend along to the wedding to introduce her to the family and it was just so cool to see him happy and in love and giddy. I didn't hang out with them as long as I wanted to, because I was just too tired, but we did get some awesome shots of the five of us kids together. We haven't all been in the same place at the same time in at least 10 years, so this was a very special occasion.

Sunday, we decided to show the kids around the Capital building, both because its really cool and we wanted to wear them out just a little before the long trip home. Mom and her husband D came along with us and it was really cool for the kids to get to know them and spend a little more alone time with them. We all met at a BBQ place for lunch, swung by Spike's apartment for a few things and hit the road.

It was very bittersweet for all of us. Spike and her Walrus are moving out of state in the next day or so. Right before the wedding, Walrus got a big promotion in another state, and since Spike works for the same company the got her a job too, and paid to move them up there. Instead of a honeymoon on an island, the get to move to Arizona. I'm so happy for them to have great jobs and opportunities like this, but I am so very sad that they will be so far away. I'm very thankful that we were able to all be together for a going away party, of sorts.

Getting to see Mom and D, and WP, and all the sibs was really awesome, and it was really the last good thing that happened. Once we got on the road home, everything seemed to fall to pieces. Two hours into our trip home, we blew tire. Not just a little leak, either. A hole ripped in the sidewall more than six inches long. It must have been something in the road, because shortly after that, we saw four more cars pulled over within a few hundred yards of each other.

Our luck was really mixed up for the rest of the night. We didn't have a spare tire with us, which was bad. WP had left Spike's house a few minutes after us, and so he was able to stop and help us within a few minutes, which was good. He had a spare tire - positive. It didn't fit, and actually got stuck on and nearly ripped off the brake drums - negative. We were stopped outside a small town where my best friend lives, so she was able to direct us to the nearest 24 hour store. WP got me there just before the tire section closed, and they were able to mount the tire within 30 minutes. Then, my credit cards wouldn't work, so I didn't know how to pay for it. (I remembered after that about how my bank is changing ownership and all the new bank info is still packed away in a box somewhere in the new house.) The store took a check - and it cleared the electronic system (thank goodness!) - so we took the tire back to DH and we were back on the road.

Two hours later, we pulled up to the house with all of us looking forward to a snuggle from our doggie and good night's sleep. Unfortunately, this is where the evening went from bad to tragic. We left our dog, RO alone this weekend. He had plenty of food and water, a doggie door to go out, and neighbors to look out for him. We've done it before without issue, and we had no reason to think any different this time.

DH was the first one to get to the front door. From the front seat, I saw him stare at the door, grab something from the note there, and start shaking his head in disbelief. All I could make out was, "Oh God, please no."

There, on the door, was an unsigned note from a neighbor. They had found RO in the road. He had been hit by a car. They went to pull him out of the road, but it was too late. He was already gone. Expired, he said. RO's dog tags were taped to the letter so we would know there could be no mistake. We opened the door, praying it was a cruel prank, but there was no big, black dog there to greet. The house was eerily silent.

DH walked in and got halfway across the room before falling to his knees in grief. He was crying as if his heart had truly been ripped from his chest. The girls gathered around me. They understood that something had happened to RO, but it was left to me to explain just exactly what.

God, I never want to have to do that again.

LH went hysterical and started screaming the dog's name. TD broke down completely, crying for the loss of her fuzzy big brother. EG tried to hold it together, but  it wasn't long before she was consumed with grief as well. For a long time we all just sat there, huddled together, crying.

Then the doorbell rang. I was confused at first, until I remembered that Mom and D left from Spike's after us and were coming to stay with us for a few nights before going back home to Ohio. As soon as they came in, I told them what was wrong, and they immediately swooped in and helped. They snuggled up the girls and talked softly to them. D was encouraging one, while Mom held another. I was so stricken, myself, I couldn't even think about what to do. Scott was more distraught than anyone. I let him go for a walk by himself while we all sat there in the living room, just crying and wondering what to do.

It wasn't long before I completely shut down. The roller coaster of the weekend and the shock of finding out about RO by a note on the door had just gotten too much. I sat down on the bed and the next thing I remember, I was waking up and it was three hours later. The kids were still sitting in the living room, but everyone had calmed down and the kids were getting ready for bed. We all decided that they could stay home from school the next day and we finally got them to bed and asleep.

Mom and D went to bed on the fold out sofa-bed. I went to bed on my own. DH, however, stayed up. He decided to go through all our pictures and find all the ones of RO and put them together for a memorial slide show. He was up and down all night. By the time morning rolled around, he ended up calling in to work, as well. Normal things just don't seem possible, yet.

Since last night, we have come a long way in our grief. DH found where RO. was hit and was able to say his goodbyes in his own way. EG spent the entire day writing poetry about losing RO and putting each stanza in a Power point slide with pictures and transitions and everything. TD stayed snuggled up next to Mom or D. LH was on the computer all day and alternated between crying and being angry. This afternoon Pookie came by with her found kiddos, Little Man, Awesome, Good Luck, and Baby Face. Baby Face is only five months old, so all of us took every little chance we could to snuggle with the baby.

Having so many people around might not be what I would have planned for something like this, but it really did help. The kids were able to be distracted and so were the adults. Mom and D were able to be sympathetic without actually grieving much themselves, since they never knew our doggie. Having kids and relatives around was good for everyone and I so very thankful for all of them.

We are getting the kids ready for bed now, and tonight I hope they all sleep well. We have to get back to a regular routine tomorrow, even though no one wants to. Of course, a regular routine feels all wrong. All the little things we have to do now, just seem to drive the knife of grief deeper. We have to cancel the pet insurance plan we had.The doggie door that never really fit the sliding door will need to come out so we can close the door properly and not lose so much A/C out of it. The dog food dish is still full, sitting next to the refrigerator. RO's pile of blankets that he used as a bed is still piled up next to the dining table. I'll have to put those things away, but it just doesn't feel right.

I have never been through this, myself. We had pets growing up, but never for very long, and none of them were lost to this kind of tragedy. Over the last few years, I have witnessed several of my friends lose their beloved pets and I only knew a fraction of the pain they were in. We were just talking about how much we wanted to see RO on the way home, and how we should really get a new friend for him. Now, the thought of any other puppy around here just seems wrong. TD and EG are anxious to get a new pet soon. They are already talking about going to the shelter to rescue another dog and save him from "the pound." It isn't that they want to replace RO. They just love animals so much and our family doesn't feel complete without a puppy. I don't know how soon I can go through all of this again. Bringing another pet home, just knowing that someday we will have to say goodbye like this... I don't know if I will EVER be ready to do it again.

It is still early for bed around here but I'm going to be heading there very shortly. every minute of quiet seems eerie without RO snoring or making noise under my feet. He was my little shadow. Everywhere I went, he was right behind me. As I moved from room to room, he would follow me, lie down, and grumble at me when I moved again. In the last few years, he was really beginning to show his age. He was nearly deaf and I believe he was losing his vision as well. I'm sure whoever hit him never saw the big black dog crossing the street in the dark, and I know he never heard or saw them coming. I keep telling myself that it was a blessing not to have to watch him get older and sicker and begin to lose his senses. It feels wrong to find a blessing in any of this at all.

I want to keep remembering that the whole reason we left this weekend was to see my little sister get married. It just reminds me of how guilty I feel. Somehow, we didn't check the back yard well enough and RO found a hole to get through. Had we been more careful he wouldn't have gotten out and he would never had been hit by a car. How crazy is it that I feel responsible because I would take him for walks around the neighborhood. He got used to going out every night, so when we weren't home, he felt he needed to get out anyway.

I am going to put this to rest for now. If you all are the praying type, send me and my family a few.