Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chester and The Metal Detector

Chester: The dog that never was
Awaking last week, I had a “whim,” (that is what my husband called it), to get a Christmas puppy. You see, one of our two dachshunds Goldie, licks everybody. She is stuck in a constant, neurotic state of licking us like a tootsie pop. My solution?  If she had a puppy to care for and obsessively lick, this would be the perfect gift for everybody! A pet for our pet!  Besides, who can resist a puppy with their saucer eyes, floppy ears and drunk-gallop?
Drinking coffee while perusing the paper in bed with my kids and dogs, we found a litter of two male mini-dachshunds, 9-weeks-old.  I announced that we would go check out the pups that day. I was feeling excited and determined, and maybe manic about having a sweet puppy around. I did some puppy research to educate myself while my husband remained calm about my “whim.”  He asked how we would pay for it. Um, hmmmm  (Sidenote:  I would never buy a dog without his final blessing. That’s called an irreconcilable difference).
Later that morning we met the pups. Of course, we wanted one, but explained to the owner that we had to convince the main breadwinner. Driving home, we named our puppy Chester because everything on the puppy was Chestnut colored; fur, eyes, nails, nose, and tail. Darling chestnut Chester, our little fur ball.
When we returned, I took a long unicycle ride to chew on these thoughts like a bad puppy gnawing on a new shoe. The voice of reason slipped in with each push of the pedal. I felt torn. It was at this point the caffeine started to wear off as I did the math on the cost of shots, crate, puppy chow and loss of sleep.
We did not buy Chester. God’s provision shined through as I thanked Him for my anchor, my husband. He knows my impulsive self better than anyone and was gentle and wise to let my whim play out. Where I’m  whimsical and off-kilter, he is steady and balanced!  We talked it though and agreed we were open to another dog, but not Chester. There were signs of poor breeding (well-bred dachshunds have black noses).
This Christmas whim made for a fun vacation day and reminded me of why I married my teckie-doting husband. Do you know what he got for Christmas? A metal detector.  His was not a whimsical purchase, but researched and well-thought out. That’s an engineer for ya! He brought it hiking/rock climbing this week and so far he has uncovered a  whopping total of fifty cents! So, not only is he my stable voice of reason, but we love and enjoy the unusual entertainment he brings to family life.  I mean really, aren’t metal detectors for retired men with black socks to walk on the beach with? More on that later…
For now, Happy New Year's Eve everybody. Be safe out there tonight!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Happenings

It’s overwhelming the amount of holiday happenings to share. Me thinks it a great idea to write it (a pinch here and there) just to have it archived; like a family library and I am the Head Librarian. Remember that Father Timothy Healy, former President of the New York Public Library said, "The most important asset of any library goes home at night -- the library staff."

That’s me! Marian the Librarian from The Music Man.

Uh hum, I digress.

But really, one day when I’m a deaf-wrinkled-old bag and have lost my wits, this will help to recall the details of Christmas 2011. Like a puzzle being carefully placed together one piece at a time, I can summon up how I spent  two weeks away from Fourth Grade, with my family, particularly my dear husband who took the entire month off . Here I must note that the month of December is longer than I recall.
Hands down, the best part of this season is family, friends and good health. As long as those factors are in place then everything else is gravy; especially with all the illness surrounding us … hospitalizations, cancer, pneumonia. Some friends were so sick on Christmas morning with the stomach flu that they postponed opening gifts until the day after! That stinks!  Therefore, the gift of good health was glaring at me every day and kept my perspective on God’s provision.

There are basics traditions that are part of our Christmas and each one seems to magnify God’s goodness. Like walking the hood with our neighbors to check out lights and sip cocoa along the way. This makes me appreciate having a heated home, warm bed and neighbors that are friends too. Thank you Baby Jesus!  Those two young blonde cuties get along great with our kids, making videos and playing hide-and-seek in the dark.  After spending that evening together, I had a great idea! My plan is that we will have a WIFE SWAP in 2012. This way I can live with darling little girls for the week and Whitney can try out an “all boy” home – God help her. The only challenge is convincing my husband what a fun adventure it would be. It’s a work in progress.

I did squeeze a four-mile unicycle ride in and this was my first in months. I am in no shape to hop on Blanche and go that far, well, mentally yes, but my inner thighs beg to differ.  However, it was excellent thinking time and that is what I needed because a third dog was possibly moving in and I had to work out the insane reality of that grand-canine commitment. More on that next post … WOOF! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Balance Tip O' The Week

Don't put the keys to your
happiness in someone else's pocket

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Have you witnessed Santabuse? By my defintion this is physical or psychological mistreatment of Santa Claus during the Christmas season. Let me give you the backstory on what led up to the "roughing up" of Old St. Nick.
My Italian Clan gathers for an annual Christmas party and it’s a wonderful piece of our Christmas tradition. The Crosetti Christmas Parties have always included the same basic ingredients:
    Italian dinner:  This year it was Paella, an Italian seafood and rice dish. In the past, it’s been Lasagna, Polenta or any meal that is high carb and teams up with wine. BTW, when you are Italian there is no food group that does not team up with wine.

     Reindeer Games:  This year we played Pictionary (Boys Vs. Girls, guess who won?) and Christmas Bingo at Cousin Maria’s house. Then we busted out bells to jingle while belting out the same old Christmas carols. Other years we reenacted the Nativity scene. Note that many children are needed to pull the Nativity off and a minimum of one baby Jesus. This was not that year.
        A Gift Exchange: This has changed with time and this year we kept it simple.Bringing a gift insured you a trip to Santa’s Lap.
    Santa Claus: The party peaks when Santa shows up, especially when little ones are involved.
The Red Suit is usually donned by a family member or male friend and this has been going on for decades. As a child, I believed that it was the real Santa Claus. This awesome night led up to that big moment when you would hear bells jangling and Santa would appear hollering,”Ho! Ho! Ho!”  This year, Cousin Mike played Santa. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, when I was a small elf, The Dads would take turns wearing the suit. There was a time when Cousin Mike sat on Santa’s lap, proclaimed he was a good kid all year, and then received a gift. Back then even he believed "Crosetti Christmas Party Santa" was the real deal, and (fast-forward forty years) it’s his turn to stuff a pillow in his chest and create magic for the little ones.
... And THIS is where Santabuse peeps in: My Dad and Uncle love the sequence of events that are repeated again and again, year after year that led Cousin Mike from once sitting on their Santa knee to these old dudes plopping down like a ton of bricks on his knee.  Ahhh, the Circle of Life!  What a blessed moment to witness family Santabuse. My Dad displayed "reverse planking" on Santa with the grace of Nadia Comaneci. And, if that wasn't enough for Cousin Mike's knee? Uncle Richard heartedly parked his can and deep laughter on Santa with the density and weight of Aunt Jo's fruitcake! Yes, that heavy!

It was wonderfully hilarious and won’t easily be forgotten, no matter how hard I try.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Heat Miser

Remember the 1974 Christmas special called “The Year without Santa Claus?” I certainly do. I’ll never forget the Heat Miser and the Freeze Miser characters that were born from this Rankin/Bass television show. Every December I remember the catchy piano tune that the Heat miser sang, 

“I’m Mr. Green Christmas, I'm Mr. Sun. I’m Mister Heat Blister, I’m Mister 101. They call me Heat Miser whatever I touch, starts to melt in my clutch. I’m too much.”

This year the Heat Miser came alive in our home. Really!  At school, Lucas was in the theatre production of “Beauty and the Beast,” and casted as Fire. Yes,  Fire! Think Heat Miser;  although he did not sing, he danced and every flicker of the way  he looked convincingly fire-like. He even looked hot!

I admit that Beauty and the Beast does not scream Christmas, but because my thespian was cast as the Heat Miser, it all came together to create a lasting Christmas memory!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Snowball Effect

The Snowball effect is the common analogy of the rolling of a small ball of snow down a snow-covered hillside. As it rolls, the ball will pick up more snow, gaining more mass and surface area, and picking up even more snow and momentum as it rolls along.

The snowball of not  blogging has rolled away and grown larger with each passing day.  One week slid into one month and as time marched on, my drive and ability to sit down faded because it felt like so much was happening, that to catch up would feel like climbing Mt. Everest.  “Imposorous!” as Dr. Suess would say. It's stupid  to feel buried in snowball when there is nothing to be defeated over. I am not a writer under great pressure, nor must I write so I can eat. Although, ironically, I am writer who likes to eat,  but that is totally different.
Since I stopped training for the unicycle half-marathon, I pooped out. I realize my creativity is fed and watered while riding my unicycle. Really, it’s great thinking time and I miss it! So this ginormous mental snowball must begin melting so I can get back into my groove. Just like Stella!

Much of this snowball is musical. These past months I immersed myself chaperoning the regiment band with my freshman son. There was Pep Band for away football games in a “Twinkie.” That’s what the band parents call the school bus. Also, performing at home games and, Saturday competitions, hours away in a Twinkie. These experiences introduced me to a new  subculture in high school. I was a cheerleader, so that tossed me in Jock culture. Jock culture is remarkably different from Band culture (this is a whole other blog post). Lucas's band commitment was demanding of time and energy, it fueled friendships, improved musical skills and with the band season (finally) over, my little drummer boy decided he wants to do it again next year.  Last week was his Winter Holiday concert and he looked  handsome in his tuxedo that we had to rent for the year. This was a wise requirement from the Music Department because (for some puzzling reason) formal clothes make the music sound better. Go figure.
The growing snowball has contained lots of camouflage and air soft  battles sponsored by my younger son in the local ditch. This kid loves all things military, army, aviation and weapons related. At eleven, his favorite channels are the History and Military Channel. No kidding.  As much as he wants to be a soldier, I remind him that he is so very smart and that Annapolis or the Air Force Academy would be a better fit for him. Aim high, right?

This growing mental snowball also contains special family time, such as Arizona turkey. That is what I name our Thanksgiving trip to see family in Phoenix. A long car ride, but totally worth it because my sister-in-law is an awesome cook. Stopping at a truck stop in the desert, I found the perfect Christmas gift for my friends with an off-balance sense of humor such as mine. I regret not buying this little (?) Indian. While in Arizona we spent time with Lucas's friend from heart camp. He loved that! Lucas is preparing to speak at a Camp Del Corazon fundraiser in Santa Barbara next month. Very exciting!
Last week my husband and I took our first yoga class together. He has the entire month of December off to burn up his vacation time, less he “lose it” and forfeit it back to Obama. Stretching is one of my favorite things to do and I enjoyed it, despite sore hips the next day.  Today I am going to join the studio (Merry Christmas to me!). What better way to improve balance and focus? Especially since Blanche has temporarily retired to the garage for the winter, (she's usually parked in my living room begging to go out for fresh air.)

A good part of this snowball  is my discipleship group. I love the depth and commitment that this study contains. Even though there’s much homework; it’s spiritually fulfilling. A few weeks ago, we studied the Holy Spirit, AKA: The Holy Ghost (in the Catholic world I grew up in). Just a side note here … that term spooked me as a kid. Holy. Ghost. Isn't that an oxymoron? Am I right? Anyways, we all have the power of this “helper” God gave us and I decided to connect spiritually and tap into it.  I have been on this “By the power of the Holy Spirit I can … (fill in the blank) kick” and it has been a good thing. Nice to know that God cared enough to send me a helper, because I definitely need it!
Other parts of my snowball are prayers and positive energy that has flowed to my friend with breast cancer. We started a meal chain at the end of November after her double mastectomy and they are slated to receive meals through the beginning of February 2012! It required coordinating and organizing, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, I did it. Helping feels good and her cancer reminds me of the upside of any medical crises; it draws close friends closer. That’s a blessing.
And, alas, there is Christmas. The anniversary of Baby Jesus’ birth that is shrouded is gingerbread houses, tree trimming, wrapping (Yo- yo Dawg, where has the year gone?), Christmas cards and cheer-filled festivities; just to name a few. I whipped Christmas cards out early so I can sit back and enjoy the season that is packed with joy and merriment. The Christmas traditions and honoring of our Lord who came to earth as a little human baby is the best time of year.
Whew! The snowball effect feels less intimidating after jotting down a few  of my thoughts. I didn't get to the Blue Man Group, hosting the Russians, Baby Benson or the awesome cookie exchange, but this was a start. I hope it will smack me back into balance!  Can I now move on with my life and get back in practice with clowning around on my keyboard?