Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Spirit lost...

I usually have LOTS and LOTS of Holiday Spirit. My H.S. comes not from the Christmas celebration of Jesus, because you already know I think that religion is hokum and bunk.

When I was  young and still a believer, my Mom and Dad did OK making the holiday season fun. Post divorce, my Mom had little to no spirit, and really I think she still doesn't. Generally speaking, from the age of 16 if I did not go get a tree, there was not going to be a tree. My little brothers deserved better than that, no matter how my parents relationship went. Mom would grump her way through the decorating process, until good spirit was unavoidable. Every year it became  more and more difficult to get her into the spirit. When I was out and married and the boys were not home to do the Christmas stuff, her bff and I would often -- separately or together -- go decorate for Mom. This made her mad because she felt that she had to pick up after. I had no problem with helping take it down if she wanted, but she only asked me to do it once.

With my kids, I wanted it to be a big production and make them feel special and important and loved. So, from the early days of my motherhood, I made it so. It has become quite the production! The other day, I told a neighbor who was here that Christmas is not a holiday in my house... It is a disease! It just keeps spreading and spreading. The thing is that decorating makes it feel warmer and there is so much too look at and it makes people smile. What could be better than making people smile and feel good?

Until this year, I can think of only one year when I had a really bad Christmas. That was 1997 and it is not a time I choose to talk about with anyone for any reason. It needs to stay in the past.

This year has been a rough year. We have had so many kicks in the teeth and it feels like we have little to be positive about.

The state of IL changed the rules relating to paying state taxes when you work out of state and it took them nearly 10 months to give us our refund, even though there was no way we could have done anything about the way the employer collected the taxes for the past tax year. Better yet, the change was not reflected in the Turbo-Tax state edition updates when we filed in mid February never knowing that a nightmare awaited us! They had the money the whole time, they ignored ALL the multi-state tax return information included with our submission and waited 4 months to tell us we needed to make amends in 10 days or else, including telling us they intended to charge us interest! Once we proved to them, in less than the 10 days we were given, that they had made an error, they still held our money for another 5+ months. After all the hassle and waiting after they screwed up, we got pennies in interest for our troubles and the long delay.

You already know we had the ridiculous nightmare of a property dispute that dragged on for months and months and THOUSANDS of dollars just to get our land returned to us from an unscrupulous neighbor.

We had friends who turned out not to be friends if we were not there to babysit their kids or feed their families. Friends who said they would do things but never did and other friends who only made half-hearted attempts to do what was promised, yet caused more problems by doing so.

My oldest's Bio-Dad once again dropped the ball and hurt her tremendously -- shocking I know. She went off to college and that was hard to deal with, though that has smoothed out after surviving the first semester.

Tuesday night, the whole family went up to get haircuts. All the kids went first and we sent them home with KC, because we were going to run errands after we had ours. Minutes after they left, KC called to say the they had been hit by a truck. So, we abandoned the salon and raced down the few blocks to check on what was happening. Apparently a UPS driver in a Budget Rental box truck turned onto the merge lane from the side street, merged into the right lane and then proceeded to merge into our Trailblazer which was in the left lane. All I can say is that it amazes me that the glass held and E, who was riding shot-gun was not hurt. T and C were in the back and also unhurt. KC was surprisingly collected and impressed me throughout the whole ordeal. As it turns out the accident was the least of our problems!

The police officer on scene designated the other driver at fault, which was evident by both the glass in KC's lane from the truck's mirror shattering and the fact that the impact is between the front and rear doors. Said officer collected all the information and gave us paperwork. Unfortunately, he neglected to give us the other driver's information as required by IL law! Attempts to get the police dept to get us the information have gone unanswered! Our insurance company told us that they only advocate for their clients if we file a claim through them and fork out the $500 deductible! When the other driver's insurance contacted us they flat out refused to tow the car to the shop. They refused a rental car while the car is being fixed and told me I would have to incur all the expenses and then apply to be reimbursed! HELLO??? That is totally defeating the purpose of having the insurance companies! I should not have to pay the fees up front! They already admitted liability! They should have towed my car to the shop of my choice and processed a rental for me immediately!! Instead I was told that applying for a reimbursement does not mean I will get it! What the fuck kind of shit is that!!?? I mean seriously? I have a bunch of kids, it's days before Christmas, their client wrecked my fucking car AND I am being given the run-around? Oh can I tell you that I am soooo pissed!!!!!!! This morning we had to file through our insurance in order to get the situation dealt with and now it's going to cost us $500 -- just great! Our insurance gives us a rental car, but if we need a bigger car to fit the size of our family of 6 then we have to pay the extra! That just ticked me off no end, because I should at least be entitled to a vehicle that is the same as the one I drive every day. So far the claims adjuster has not bothered to call here, so now late in the afternoon I still have no rental car because I cannot get one until they process the paperwork and then clear it!

This is NOT a nice way to go into Christmas! My Holiday Spirit is in the shit-can and if Santa comes or not I could care less. The whole process has left me raw and numb and without any confidence in the system. We pay the insurance company thousands of dollars every year, we've never had a claim with them at all and when we really needed them, they threw us under the fucking bus! State Farm is definitely NOT going to keep us as a client. As my husband said, what happened to their motto "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there"? Any insurance company that only advocates for you if you file a claim is not worthy of my business. This has NEVER been the case in all the years dealing with other insurance companies in the past.

Bah friggin' humbug!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yet another deranged terrorist act...

What a crying shame that these people cannot seem to think for themselves enough to rationalize the reality of their actions. All those "virgins" waiting in heaven is a ridiculous reason for these radical/extremist men to die! After all they cannot be ETERNALLY VIRGINS -- it defies the definition! They'll plow through those virgins in no time and THEN WHAT? What of their worldly wives? Children? Wouldn't it be amazing if one of these idiots could come back afterwards and tell the rest that there is NOT the payment in heaven they expect. Then maybe all this would dramatically subside... BUT that is NOT realistic thinking and sadly we are now in a world controlled by fear-mongers and apparently insatiably horny men!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

American Lion

I for got to mention when I started reading this book, after all the times I said I was going to... HAHA! Anyway, I have just the epilogue left and then I will be done. I must say that Andrew Jackson was a walking talking contradiction in MANY ways. A strong-willed jack-ass borderline bully and a kind-hearted caring man all wrapped up in an American President. I think I will be looking for further reading on this very intriguing man of our history.

On another book note, I found out that a movie is in the works for Team of Rivals. How freakin' cool is that???? I cannot WAIT!

More on Pres. A. J. soon. Got a party tomorrow and endless pre-holiday chores to accomplish.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Old Recipe Books - Basic Home Cooking and Canning Recipes

Awesome site! I love it!

Old Recipe Books - Basic Home Cooking and Canning Recipes

The Holidays are coming!! ... The Holidays are coming!!

The Holidays are coming!! Are you ready? I am --- NOT, but I can finally say -- almost. Especially now that my annoying 18 year old (Love you baby! ;-) has finally come to 'round some sensible thinking! You see, just like my brother #1 00used to (and probably still does...), she has the name brand bug up her butt! The name of the brand in question, THIS TIME, is UGG's. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Ugg's are kinda ugly and probably very warm, which I think is their purpose. Ugg's are also VERY EXPENSIVE, even on sale! These days, we live on a budget and things we buy have to make sense within that guideline. The holiday guideline is $100 per kid, and we don't count shipping and tax when applicable, so they don't lose out from that. Stepping out of the guideline is a big deal and generally needs to be for a good reason. So, when K asked for $140 boots and $100 clogs, I LAUGHED and said NO WAY! This made for an unhappy teenager to be sure!

We have just come to a compromise... She said she would be happy to just have the boots, and I said I was NOT HAPPY to pay $140 for boots even if she did not get clogs. SO... We have settled on a generic version of the ones she liked, which happened to be on Holiday sale for 50% off their regular price of $50! Thank you J.C. Penney's!! Score for me and I think for her as well. WHY you ask? Well -- with savings like that, we were able to find similar clogs of a name brand other than Ugg's, on sale for $37! Thank you Amazon.com !! So, for less than 1 pair of Ugg's clogs, she has 2 pair of warm fuzzy footwear AND $38 left on her Holiday budget for a few other goodies to boot. I have Old Navy coupons, so maybe she can score some more!

I am usually done shopping by Thanksgiving, totally decorated within a week after, have started baking and finished Christmas cards by the second week after. This leaves me time to wrap and label and make sure everything is ready for the Clause man's visit. This year has gone to HELL-in-a-HAND-BASKET! I had no real lists to speak of until two days ago! I have not felt the decorating spirit, because my partner in decorating has gone off to college and is not here to help and make it fun! We tried to take pix of the kids for the Christmas cards while she was here for Thanksgiving break, but they aren't quite right...SO they are not ready and hence the cards aren't either! I guess I will pre-write, stamp and address them all so when K gets home from school next week we can try taking the kids pix again. Then I will use my awesome CVS buy 50 get 25 free digital prints coupon to get them cheap and fast!

The baking has to start soon... Luckily K found out she will be done with finals and be home on Tuesday the 14th -- 2 days earlier than we expected. SOOOOO  I will soon have my baking buddy back and we can commence to arguing about what to use in the 7 layer cookies this year! LOL!

I am almost done decorating -- just one tree to go downstairs. By tomorrow, my shopping will be complete. According to Amazon.com, most if not all, my orders will arrive by the 17th. Wrapping can be done while kids are at school and I suppose in the end I will be all caught up...

The other big hitch in the season this year? Open House! Yep, we decided to invite the neighbors and the  gals from Wineax Wednesday's over for a party on the 18th. I need to get inspired! I have been combing the internet for some ideas and I now have a few. I love Krista's Kitchen food blog for ideas a lot, so when she recently posted Homemade Eggnog, I got excited to try it! Then I found a neat little web page called Finger Food Recipes which has a TON of great ideas and an entire section for holidays -- so, the Christmas party is looking better and better now!


SO... How's YOUR Holiday Prep coming along???

Friday, December 3, 2010

Adult or not?

Recently my 18 year old brought up a discussion she had in class about whether being banned from alcohol at the age of adulthood is relevant to the fact of adulthood. Strangely her position was that the two are not related. I disagree...

I do not believe she is old enough to be responsible in the consumption of alcohol. Neither do I believe that, if she wanted to be in the military, she would be any more mature than she is considered with alcohol. Either situation could put a young person in a position to kill, whether by accident or by duty does not matter. If 18 year olds are allowed to be adults only in certain circumstances then they are not truly adults. This means, to me, that the age of majority ought to be  22 -- that also gets kids through 4 years of college.

Consider these points:
1. We pay health insurance fees and are responsible for the medical bills of this child as our Dependant.
2. On our tax return, she is a Dependant as she is NOT self supporting in any way.
3. She does not drive unless she has insurance through us.
4. We are responsible if, for some reason, she is unable to pay the Federal college loans she will be accruing over the next 4 years of college. Without a co-signer, she has no qualification for the loans at all!
5. She cannot rent a car, even if she was fully independent of us, because the industry does not consider her an adult until 25.
6. Most insurance companies don't want to insure them without a parent until they have a number of years of experience behind the wheel... Otherwise they price them out of being able to even afford the insurance -- which likely causes many to go without! My personal experience was about age 22 they decided I was OK to insure on my own at reasonable rates.

All these parental responsibilities and yet without her consent, we are not entitled to know her medical conditions, even though to go to the Doctor, she needs OUR CARD AND OUR MONEY to receive and pay for said medical attention. We are not entitled to know of her college grades even though we are responsible for getting her to and from and maintaining her general life while she is at school and have hung ourselves out there in order to help pay for her college education.

There are so many contradictions in the standards for what constitutes adulthood. They say now that the brain does not mature until the mid 20's so why not adjust the standard to meet the known facts of maturity and adulthood?

"We cannot ban our way to safety for America's youth."

I think we are getting out of control here. I mean we are supposed to live in a free country. We are supposed to make our own decisions and then be responsible for the consequences of such. Obviously there are laws in place that are meant to protect the greater good, and many of them make sense. One such law would be against driving while intoxicated. That makes sense. If you get behind the wheel drunk you do not just have the potential to harm yourself -- you have the potential to harm countless others. Therefore, the greater good needs recourse against the drunken driver.

Four Loko Bans: New Laws Mix Alcohol, Caffeine and Hypocrisy - DailyFinance

Banning beverages and other consumables is a dicey bit of business. We saw how well the whole Prohibition thing went way back in the 1920's to early 30's, RIGHT??? Instead of banning, why not educate better and allow us the option to choose -- right or wrong -- what we like. The fact remains that, like an addict to any other thing, a person who wants these things will find a way. The drink is not responsible for what happens, the person drinking it is. Fast food is not responsible for the obesity problem in our country. The people who choose to eat it and do not exercise self control are. If you are going to blame fast food, then you must also blame the school cafeteria. Most, if not all offer no better food than that of the fast food industry. Just ask The Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver! If you watched his program last year about the "fattest" city in America, you know what I am talking about!

All I know is that I cannot and will not put up with being told every little nit-picky detail of my life, right down to what I consume, is to be interfered with by the powers that be! If they are going to ban drinks like this one then they also need to ban cigarettes, all alcoholic beverages, cell phone usage and so on and so on... After all, cigarettes are killers, RIGHT? We know for a fact that they are deadly and cause all manner of health issues and health costs. Drunks are another health care problem with their own costs, in addition to those caused when drunks become deadly behind the wheel. Cell phones have cause all manner of accidents and caused any number of deaths, so why is it not banned while driving? Next maybe they will outlaw obesity because health care costs too much for that as well, but how will they enforce it? How about we just ban everything but veggies and water?

Civil liberties folks, we have them for a reason and we fought hard with Britain to get out from under oppression, yet it appears we are now regressing into the kind of control that we wished to escape!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Do the Cupid Shuffle

YouTube - Cupid - Cupid Shuffle

Today Deb posted this on FB, and I found that although I have heard the song plenty prior to today, I could not help but get into the groove... a whole bunch of times! I totally have "white girl syndrome" LOL -- BUT I will totally jam all by myself -- cuz WHO CARES? Right? It is just you and the music --- life is good! So, GO AND MOVE! Have fun and remember the paparazzi AIN'T lookin' at you or me so just get down on it! WOOT WOOT!