Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Well, it’s the end of one year and the beginning of another, and everyone’s asking me what my New Year’s Resolutions are. And my answer: “Lyn doesn’t make resolutions.” (Sometimes I like to speak in the third person, ya know.) It’s not that I don’t think there are approximately 4.23 gazillion things about myself that I should change. I KNOW there are. I live with myself, okay? However, I have found that I’m just not the kind of person who can resolve to do a bunch of things just because of the change of a calendar, and then follow through on those things. Change is difficult, and we all know that Lyn absolutely loathes change, and doesn’t get very excited at the prospect of doing anything difficult.

So what would be the point of my making New Year’s Resolutions? To feel like a failure at more things in my pathetic life? To have several more reasons to self-flagellate? Thanks…. but no. Just as an example for all you resolution-making people out there (and more power to the people who can resolve to do things and actually follow through with them!)… if I were going to make the typical resolutions for the beginning of a new year, it would look something like THIS:

1. Stop smoking!.... er, at least switch to the electronic cigarettes.... ok, switch to the electronic cigarettes and only allow myself one real cigarette a day.... to be more realistic, let’s make it two real cigarettes a day.... and cigarettes at social gatherings.... and by social gatherings, I mean anytime I’m around someone who’s smoking and I feel the urge to partake in the inhalation of carcinogens with them.

2. Lose that pesky 50 pounds that I’ve been carrying around on my body for the past several years!.... 40 pounds would be an improvement.... honestly, I would be happy just losing 30 pounds and fitting into a size 9 again.... make it 20 pounds.... or, hey… even If I just lost enough to fit into the jeans I was wearing last summer, that would be awesome.... let's say I’ll try to not GAIN anymore weight this year!

3. Remember all the birthdays of my close friends and family members and send cards to everyone the week before their birthdays!.... or, remember the birthdays and get the cards mailed within a week after their birthdays at the latest.... send e-cards to those that I manage to remember.... call my immediate family members on their birthdays.... write “Happy Birthday” on the Facebook page of my friends and family members who have Facebook profiles.... that is, if I happen to log on to Facebook on their birthdays and it reminds me to.

4. Volunteer somewhere at least once a week!.... I mean a month.... I would be more likely to do it, if it was quarterly.... I’ll do something next Christmas season.... how about I donate my old stuff to Goodwill.

5. Make a home cooked dinner five nights a week!... three nights a week... does Hamburger Helper count?... what about TV dinners twice a week?... greasy cheeseburgers for dinner no more than twice a week, and more “healthy” fast food the rest of the week.

6. Stop procrastinating!.... I’ve already got too much on my plate this year. I’ll put this one on next year’s list.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Wrap-Up

My Christmas was a whirlwind of organized chaos. That may not make sense to a lot of people, but the description fits my holiday season perfectly.

1. The girls made their Christmas gift lists before Thanksgiving. I like their lists, especially this year. They didn’t have anything too outrageous on them, and they each only listed 13 items.

2. The weekend after Thanksgiving, the girls walked a couple blocks to our local ShopKo and purchased two Wilton gingerbread house kits. They brought them home and with just a little assistance from me (mixing the icing and loading it into the bags), they were off and running, building and decorating their adorable, little houses.

3. We got the tree up about a week after Thanksgiving. It was a practically painless project for me. I put the three pre-lit tree pieces together and plugged the strings of lights together and the girls did the rest… fluffing up the tree branches and hanging the ornaments and candy canes. I put the star on top and the skirt around the bottom. It took us about a half an hour total, and I was fixing dinner for most of that time…

4. I started my Christmas shopping on Saturday, December 10, which was the day after payday. I spent pretty much my whole paycheck on gifts for the girls, but it only took me one afternoon and I had most the gifts on their lists checked off. I also had a blast doing this shopping with my dear friend, Caren, whom I rarely get to “go out” with.

5. I crocheted a little pink hat for my granddaughter and tied a small “silky” quilt for her on December 18.

6. We took the girls to the Festival of Lights in Spanish Fork on December 20. This is one of our Christmas traditions. It’s the best! It’s not too far from where we live, it’s only $5 per carload, and you can drive around and around the park as many times as you want.

7. I made a “tacky” Christmas sweater for my work party that was held on December 22… and won the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest!

8. I took the afternoon of December 23 off work. It was payday, and I finished most of the rest of my Christmas shopping. Then it was off to my biological father’s family Christmas party in West Jordan. That house was so packed full of people it was difficult to move, let alone chat with everyone. This is the first Christmas since I found my father, so it was nice to be invited to share in one of his family’s traditions.

9. First thing in the morning of Christmas Eve, I ran around town picking up the last few gifts I needed to buy. I picked up the girls and we went out to lunch. Then my little elves wrapped all the presents (except those from Father Christmas of course). Our little cat, Maddie, tried to be an elf also, but she was, in truth, a destructive, gift wrap tearing, ribbon eating little beastie. I tidied up a bit and the girls went to bed after I read them “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. Then Santa got to work. It only took about 15 minutes to stuff stockings and wrap gifts in the special Santa paper. I got to go to bed at 11:00! I believe this was the first Christmas in about 22 years that I have made it to bed before 1:00 a.m. It was a Christmas miracle!

10. Christmas morning started dark and early… 6:30 a.m. The girls were very happy with their gifts, and I’ve got to tell you… they were more excited to see me open my gifts than they were to open their own. They even let Corbin and me open our special gifts BEFORE they opened their gifts from Santa Claus. Another Christmas miracle! The girls played their Wii games for awhile and let the adults rest a bit. Then we all got ready and made the trip to my parents’ house. We were the first ones there… another Christmas miracle!

11. Almost everyone in my family was there. Most importantly, my son, Anthony, had flown in from Nevada for Christmas. I hadn’t seen him since June. We made and ate smoked turkey and/or ham sandwiches, baked potatoes and pie… lots of pie. We all exchanged gifts and watched as everyone took turns opening (my family’s tradition). There was a lot of laughter and love, as always.

12. Left my parents’ house and went to my wife-in-law’s parent’s house in Provo to drop off their gifts. My girls got to spend some time with their sister, Indigo, and their “Aunt Christy”, “Aunt Nikki” and “Grandma Sindy”. We hung out for awhile and then headed home for another round of family togetherness.

13. We live with my in-laws, so my husband’s family party is where we live. My mother-in-law made some spiral cut ham, homemade mac and cheese and potato salad. A lot of the family showed up and the girls had a lot of cousins to hang out with for a few hours. Then we dragged our exhausted selves to bed.

14. I took a bunch of “kids” to Jump On It in Lindon the day after Christmas. Anthony, Danielle (and her husband, Tyson), Maya, Penelope, my niece, Serenity, and my granddaughter, Addalie. The girls had a blast. My adult kids… not so much. They are realizing that you can’t do as much when you get older without it causing aches and pains in your aging body. LOL! It was good to all be together and for all my kids to get to spend some time together doing something fun.

15. Later that night some of the family went out to eat at Village Inn. Delicious comfort food as always… and pie! It was the last time I’d get to see Anthony, as his flight was the next morning at 6:00. I’m glad we got a chance to spend a little more time with him.

16. And it’s not over yet! My brother, Brandon and his fiancée just flew in yesterday, and I need to get over to my parents’ house to see them. And, my birth mother and her husband are coming to our house this Saturday to exchange gifts.

It was the best Christmas I have had in a long, long time. I even managed to mail out all my Christmas cards in time for everyone to get them BEFORE Christmas. And with the girls doing most of the “grunt work”, I was able to relax and enjoy more of the season than I have in years! I would have taken pictures, but my camera’s been broken for awhile now. I took a few with Maya’s new camera, and maybe I’ll post them sometime in the near future.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How I Feel This Week

Evocations of Christmas Past ~ December 20, 1999

"Spirit!" said Scrooge in a broken voice, "remove me from this place."

"I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. "That they are what they are, do not blame me!"

"Remove me!" Scrooge exclaimed, "I cannot bear it!"

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a face, in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.

"Leave me! Take me back. Haunt me no longer!"

~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Some memories don't fade.
Some wounds don't heal completely. Ever.
Sometimes there aren't "do-overs".
Some choices haunt you for the rest of your life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Random Christmas Memories

My siblings and I used to put on a Christmas pageant for our parents. I was always Mary, my brother, Joel, was Joseph, my brother, Brandon, was usually a shepherd, and my baby sister, Emily, was Baby Jesus. We wore robes and tied bath towels on our heads. The manger was our red vinyl beanbag chair. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

Here are the four of us on one little sled: Me, Joel, Brandon and Emily

My dad always used his pocket knife to unwrap his gifts, and offered it to anyone who had trouble with ribbon on a gift or tape on a box. Nothing says “Christmas” like a small, sharp knife.

Santa Claus always put fresh oranges, pears and apples in our stockings, along with nuts still in their shells. Inevitably, our stockings were full of a rotting, gooey fruit and nut science experiment about the middle of January.

My mom would usually put away one gift for each of us until New Year’s. I grew up thinking that everyone got a gift on New Year’s.

My dad would take us caroling around the neighborhood, and then make his famous hot cocoa for us when we got home.

Dad pulling me on a sled in the back yard ~ 1973

We children usually all slept in my room on Christmas Eve. A couple kids in the bed and a couple in sleeping bags on the floor. Lots of giggling! Chidren's anticipation of Christmas morning so thick you could cut it with a knife (maybe my dad’s pocket knife). I don’t know how late we usually stayed awake, but I do remember how difficult it was to go to sleep on Christmas Eve.

Our family always had Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve evening, and cold turkey sandwiches on rolls on Christmas Day.

Watching all the Bass/Rankin stop motion Christmas specials on television… and the cartoons (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol…). This was back before people had VCR’s in their homes, or cable television for that matter. We waited all YEAR to see these specials, and if we missed a special, we MISSED it until the next year.

My mom’s side of the family always had a Christmas party in December. Everyone brought pot luck to eat. We all SANG carols together, while someone in the family accompanied on the piano. We drew names each year for who we would give a gift to the next year. Santa Claus almost always showed up to these parties. No one sings at family Christmas parties anymore. Maybe that’s a tradition I can start with my kids and my siblings (hint, hint).

Ice skating at the Provo Boat Harbor.

Sledding down the hill (road) in front of our house.

Tubing by the beaver farm across the street from our house or Japs Hill. (Sorry, I know that’s politically incorrect, but that’s what that hill has been called since my dad was a little kid in the 1940’s.)

Building snowmen with my dad in the back yard and not thinking anything of the fact that he NEVER wore gloves.

Joel, Frosty and Me ~ 1977

And Christmas music... so much Christmas music! Jim Reeves, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Burl Ives, and on and on, and it was playing in our house beginning November 1. I know this is where I got my love for Christmas music.

Dad (without gloves OR jacket) building a snowman with Joel and Brandon ~ 1979

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Morning Traditions ~ So Many Christmas Memories

Christmas morning was full of traditions in my family. As a kid, a lot of these “traditions” seemed more like “rules” though. Once I had walking, talking kids of my own, who were very literally bouncing off the walls on Christmas morning, chomping at the bit to get to the presents… well, I suddenly understood my parents’ traditions.

First rule, er... I mean tradition: We children waited in our rooms until after we heard dad go downstairs to light a fire in the fireplace. This kept all the kids under control and out of my parents’ hair until THEY were ready to start the craziness.

Second tradition: The family ate Christmas breakfast (cinnamon toast and orange juice) together. This gets something besides candy (although cinnamon sugar on toast is a little iffy here) inside the kids’ tummies before they dump out the stockings and start gorging on chocolate and candy canes.

Third tradition: Dad, and ONLY DAD, went downstairs to get the home movie camera ready to go. This was not a video camera. This was an old silent home movie camera with a GIANT light affixed to the top for indoor lighting purposes. The kids lined up at the top of the stairs with mom supervising, and when dad had the camera rolling, we went down the stairs in a somewhat orderly fashion and checked out the gifts Santa Claus had brought. Let me tell you, that light on top of the camera made it pretty difficult to even make it down the stairs, let alone see what Santa brought for us. I think we all were seeing blue halos for at least a couple hours every Christmas morning. My parents wanted to get all our reactions on film. I’m glad they did. Those old home movies are so much fun to watch now.

Fourth tradition: We all sat together and each took turns opening gifts. This was so my parents could see our reactions to each of the gifts. And it made the whole holiday last longer than if it were just a big free-for-all.

Now I’ve never been as organized and with it as my parents were. I tried to make my kids stay in their rooms until I got up on Christmas morning, but around age six, they weren’t so compliant in this department. So Santa Claus started wrapping his gifts so the kids couldn’t just walk into the living room and see what they got. I don’t really do breakfast, so how can I expect my kids to, especially on Christmas morning?! I’m lucky if I can manage to make a cup of coffee before everything turns to chaos.

I’ve never had a video camera, so I try to remember to leave the regular camera in the living room on Christmas Eve so I can at least get a few snapshots to remember the moments as they fly past. The one Christmas morning tradition that I have held tightly to is the taking of turns to open gifts. I spend a lot of time and money picking out gifts, and I want to see my kids’ reactions to them.

Most people want to do “better” than their parents did. When it comes to Christmas, there is no way possible that I could do better. I can’t even do “mediocre” compared to them, they set the bar so high. Congratulations, guys! You’ve bested all of your children! And I love you for it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Mom (a.k.a. Mrs. Claus) ~ Christmas Memories Continued...

Mom and Me ~ Christmas Morning

These posts are pretty boring reading to anyone outside my immediate family, I know. I'm writing them mainly as a record for my children. I wish my grandparents and parents had written down their memories for us. “Why now?” you may ask... welllllll, I think there is something wrong with my body... the uncontrollable blood pressure, etc., and I have been thinking a lot about my mortality lately.

Mrs. Claus’s Workshop

I can’t forget to mention my mom’s love of Christmas. She did every bit as much Christmassing as my dad. My mom would usually have her Christmas shopping done sometime in October… yep, OCTOBER. That way, she could spend the holiday season in the kitchen. During the month preceding Christmas, our kitchen and dining room were transformed into Mrs. Claus’s workshop.

Mom would bake her pecan pies and sour cream cake, make caramel popcorn balls, peanut brittle, divinity, fudge, Chex mix, and this heavenly honeyish mix of cereals and grated coconut. And who could forget the date balls? I can just taste them now! We kids would all “help” her make sugar cookies, standing on chairs and kneeling on barstools encircling the kitchen island counter where mom would roll out the dough. We would each get to cut out cookies and place them on the cookie sheet, usually sneaking a few chunks of the surrounding dough into our little mouths while mom wasn’t looking. Although my parents gave plates of these goodies to the neighbors, there was never a shortage of sweets in our house during the holidays.

The dining room was Gift Wrap Central. Rolls upon rolls of Christmas wrapping paper stuck out of boxes on the floor. Several boxes full of pre-made bows and bow-making supplies. And enough name tags to last through Christmas 2050! It was here that my mother taught me everything I know about wrapping gifts. She showed me how to use a yardstick to rip paper in a perfect straight line, how to quickly measure the paper for a gift so as not to cut the paper too small or too large, how to fold the paper around difficult shapes, how to make bows and curl ribbon.

Mom was also our family’s chief correspondent. She had a big red address book that she kept updated with the addresses and phone numbers of our relatives and friends near and far. Many years she would type up a Christmas Letter to send out with our Christmas cards. This letter would give updates on each of us. She would let me draw holly berries and leaves on the corners of the pages with green and red markers. She would then address the envelopes by hand and send the cards to every friend and relative our family had.

Brandon, Joel and Me ~ Christmastime

My mom didn’t have many good childhood memories, and I know that she did all these things so that her children would have nothing but marvelous memories of Christmas. You succeeded, Mom!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Know Santa Claus (Even More Christmas Memories)

Santa and me ~ 1974

My dad is Santa Claus. Yeah, I know yours is too. But my dad had a custom made (by my master seamstress of a grandmother) Santa costume, complete with authentic Santa beard and granny glasses, that he would wear and come visit us when we were kids. Now don’t ask me where he changed into this costume. I STILL don’t know. Maybe in the car or in a phone booth (we had phone booths back then, you know)… maybe in our old chicken coop…

But I digress. We kids would all be in the house doing our own things, mom would be making dinner or whatever… and there would be a knock at the door. And who would it be? Santa Claus!!! My dad was such a good Santa Claus that he could visit his OWN children, and they didn’t suspect it was him. He would have us sit on his lap and tell him what we wanted for Christmas (damn sneaky, dad), and then give us each a candy cane. My mom would make sure to have the camera ready so we could pose for a group picture. And then he’d be off into the night. Dad would show up later and be really surprised that he missed Santa Claus… again. Dad played Santa Claus for other people in the neighborhood too occasionally, but he never did parties or got paid to do it. What a character. He continued playing Santa for his grandchildren after they came along.

Santa with my baby, Anthony ~ 1988

My grandma also made herself a Mrs. Claus costume that was adorable. I am still not sure where exactly she wore it, or why… more questions I need to ask my dad, I suppose. But don’t be alarmed if you see Santa Claus driving around Springville in a Buick… it’s just my dad. He’ll probably reach into his pockets and give you a candy cane and an orange, and ask you what you want for Christmas.

Grandma in her Mrs. Claus costume

Monday, December 5, 2011

More Christmas Memories

The Tree(s)

Prior to my teenage years, we usually had not one, but TWO Christmas trees in the house. The one placed in the front room was always a real tree, sometimes flocked, and usually decorated with the more formal ornaments.

This is me in front of the "front room" tree in 1973

The other tree was placed in the basement family room. Most of the time it was real, but I remember an old “bottle brush” artificial one that we used a couple times. The basement tree had the funky old, giant bulb lights with reflectors, the bubbling candle lights, and a gaudy lit-up tinsel star on top. The ornaments were all the favorites… snoopy in various sledding, skating and other winter activities… handmade styrofoam/napkin/Mod Podge ornaments… ornaments that we children had made with Dixie cups and foil, Christmas cards and colored toothpicks, wooden cutouts and school pictures… my mom’s ornaments from her childhood… and usually a LOT of tinsel. This was always my favorite tree. The formal one looked nice, but I loved digging out the old, sentimental ornaments. And those giant lights with floral shaped foil reflectors… you can’t get more nostalgic than that!

This is me in front of the "basement" tree, also in 1973.

I have very vivid, yet dreamlike, memories of hanging out in the front room, Dean Martin crooning Christmas tunes on the console stereo, the smell of fresh pine hanging heavily in the air, the only light in the room was the soft glow coming from the many strings of Christmas tree lights my dad had strung all over the floor in an effort to detangle the cords and check the bulbs. It was magical.

We used the same tree skirts every year. It was tradition. My mom had sewn them out of red and white flannel fabric and embellished them with silver rick-rack and little foil holly berries and leaves. Over the years, these skirts have gotten kind of ragged, but in my mind, they’re still the standard by which all other tree skirts will be judged.

Gifts we were planning on giving to friends, extended family, etc., were placed under the front room tree along with any gifts we received from our friends, neighbors, etc. The basement tree was for our immediate family’s presents and for Santa Claus… why? Because the fireplace was in the basement family room and that’s how Santa got into the house… and that’s where you hang your stockings!

The Décor (Doesn’t everyone have a life-size Nativity in their front yard?)

My father did the more traditional outdoor Christmas decorating… colorful lights strung on the roof, in the windows and on the branches of the front yard trees… he also went above and beyond what most people did in their yards back then... every year he built a life-size stable in the front yard. In this stable was a life-size Nativity made from mannequins, a wooden manger and a large plastic baby doll to represent the newborn Jesus. There were bales of hay, evergreen branches, a large spotlight and a big sign that had a hand painted Bible page and scripture. It was a sight to behold. I wish I could find a picture of it. People would drive slowly down our street and park in front of the house to look at the Nativity. My sister, Emily, has told me that when she was a child, she wondered why people would stop and look at our yard at Christmastime. She assumed everyone had a Nativity.

When I was in my early teens, we were hit with snowstorm after snowstorm one December. The snow piled up higher and higher on the roofs and the stable ended up caving in. When my dad was able to clear it all out, he noticed that when the stable caved in, all the mannequins (Joseph, Mary, Wise Men, Shepherds) had fallen into the center covering the manger and protecting the Baby Jesus doll in the manger. The mannequins were broken beyond repair. The hand painted sign was split literally in half. The stable lumber was torn and broken and could not be used again. But the manger and Baby Jesus came out of the disaster unscathed. True Story… It was a Christmas Miracle…

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Memories

My parents are Christmas People. They can barely wait ‘til after Halloween to start listening to Christmas music. They put up the tree (always a REAL one) the weekend after Thanksgiving. They’ve sent out literally thousands of Christmas cards over the years, and give gifts to everyone, including all the neighbors and the mailman. I am so grateful to them for instilling in their children a love for the holidays. There is no feeling better to me than the Christmas spirit.

Even when I was a child, I loved Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. Of course I loved getting all the great gifts, but for me the FEELING of Christmas was better than any brightly wrapped gift. We weren’t wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, and some years I know my parents struggled financially especially around the holidays, but every Christmas was wonderful and memorable because the emphasis was never put on the gifts as much as the traditions and doing things as a family. This post and the next few will be about the holiday traditions my parents introduced and encouraged and my own childhood amalgam of Christmas memories.

Over the River and Through the Woods

The kickoff of the holiday season in my house was always Thanksgiving. Most Thanksgivings while I was growing up were celebrated at my Grandma’s house in Ogden. We traveled over I-15 and through most of four counties, but there were no rivers or woods to be found. My dad’s brothers and sister and their respective families always came too. I remember getting into Grandma’s sewing room closet with my cousins in search of games to play as we waited for what seemed like eternity for dinner to be ready. I don’t remember much about dinner itself, just the family all being together and getting to play with my cousins.

With Grandma at her house - 1980 (Lyn, Brandon, Joel and Emily)

After Thanksgiving dinner, we would wait for darkness to fall and then pile in the car and travel to downtown Ogden to “see the lights”. Since 1962 (it’s older than I am!!!), Ogden City has been transforming its downtown park into Christmas Village from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. This was a very important tradition in our family. The “village” is beautiful and fun and full of cottages with animated elves and other things children adore. We had to bundle up like we were literally visiting the North Pole because one does not drive through this display. One WALKS. After wandering through the village and seeing everything there was to see, we would get in line for Santa’s Castle. This was the best “Santa’s Helper” on the face of the earth. After sitting on his lap and whispering your Christmas wish in his ear, he would give you a candy cane, and I swear that those candy canes were made with the best peppermint in the universe... peppermint grown deep under the ice at the North Pole, and harvested by specially trained peppermint elves.

As a child, the Christmas Village was simply magical. A city park transformed into a Christmas paradise! The best part of the Christmas Village and Santa’s Castle (for the parents, that is) is that it was completely free. The generous people who put this whole thing on did it for the community and for the sake of tradition. They didn’t even have the sale of “professional” pictures taken with Santa Claus. If parents wanted pictures of their kids on Santa’s lap, they had to remember to bring their own cameras and take their own snapshots.

When I was a teenager, we started having Thanksgiving dinner at our house just for our six-member family instead of going to Grandma's house,and for the first few years it just didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. Eventually, I adjusted to the change (man, I hate change!). We still went to “see the lights” in Ogden sometime during the holidays though. I even took my older two children once when they were small. I’m definitely going to have to make the trip this year with my younger kids.

More memories tomorrow…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Movies

Christmastime is here!!! I love the Christmas season. Of course there are a lot of things about Christmastime that I don’t like, but those things all have to do with the commercialization of the holiday. I loathe shopping… I don’t like the crowded stores. I dislike the feeling that I’m spending too much for something at a particular store, but hate the thought of shopping multiple stores just to save a few bucks. The to-buy list plays on a continuous loop in my mind for a month, and then I inevitably experience the deer-in-the-headlights BLANK OUT brain the moment I walk through a store’s doors. “Why am I here again?”

But I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Christmas season, and one of my favorite things to do is laze about and watch Christmas movies. I've put together “Lyn’s Top 15 Christmas Movies” list for your perusal. First of all, some of these movies aren't your momma's Christmas movies. Second, If you’re a big musical fan, you won’t find any of your favorite Christmas movies on this list as I am not a fan of musicals. Third, I have not included all the Bass/Rankin stop motion or other animated television specials either, although I love them and find them comfortingly nostalgic. This is a list for full-length, theater-released films only. You have probably seen most of them, but maybe you’ll find a few on my list that you haven’t…

15. Scrooged (1988)~ Modern(ish), dark-humored interpretation of Dickens' story, with Christmas spirits visiting a cynical, selfish TV exec, played by Bill Murray.

14. Die Hard (1988) ~ Terrorists take over the Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve, and John McClane must stop them.

13. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) ~ Amnesiac,former spy, Samantha Caine, must stop terrorists from detonating a chemical bomb in downtown Niagara Falls on Christmas Eve.

12. The Santa Clause (1994) ~ When Santa falls off his roof, a harried ad exec is required to assume the mantle.

11. Love Actually (2003) ~ Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London.

10. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) ~ Kevin mistakenly travels to New York City without his family on Christmas.

9. Home Alone (1990) ~ Kevin is mistakenly left home alone by his family on Christmas.

8. The Ref (1994) ~ A thief can’t imagine what he’s in for when he holds a family hostage in their home on Christmas Eve.

7. The Holiday (2006) ~ Two women swap homes for the holidays and meet up with their dream men.

6. The Family Stone (2005) ~ A woman wants acceptance from eccentric clan at Christmastime.

5. Home for the Holidays (1995) ~ Recently unemployed, 40-year-old, Claudia, returns to her childhood home to spend Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family.

4. Elf (2003) ~ A human who thinks he is an elf searches for his family in New York.

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) ~ The Griswold family plans turn to disaster, this time at Christmas.

2. A Christmas Story (1983) ~ All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun.

1. A Christmas Carol (too many adaptations to name) ~ The Charles Dickens classic Christmas tale. My favorite adaptations of A Christmas Carol have got to be the one from the 1970s with George C. Scott, the Muppets Christmas Carol with Michael Caine, and the newest Disney adaptation with Jim Carey. This story gets me EVERY TIME. I don't feel as if it's Christmas if I haven't seen some form of A Christmas Carol. I love the message that no matter what, if you're still breathing, you can TURN YOUR LIFE AROUND. There is always hope and a chance for redemption.

So, Dig out your favorite Christmas movies on VHS and DVD. Pop a big bowl of popcorn. Plop down in front of the tube, and enjoy!

P.S. Let me know what YOUR favorite holiday movies are too.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Yesterday was the BIG “T” Day, my second favorite holiday of the year (NOTE: any holiday that involves good food is on my list of favorites). Due to the fact that I live near my family and my in-laws, Thanksgiving always involves more than one holiday meal… usually more than two. This is what Thanksgiving looked like for me yesterday:

8:30 a.m.: Penelope and I were in the kitchen diligently following the recipe of what looked like a fabulously delicious batch of pumpkin cream cheese streusel muffins for my family’s Thanksgiving breakfast. We spent an HOUR measuring, sifting, and stirring, and the muffins ended up tasting… um… let’s say they were “okay”. They tasted too much like flour and not enough like pumpkin and spice. They were kind of dry and the streusel didn’t brown and crisp like I thought it should have. Once again, the universe has shown me that I cannot bake. Now I’m not recipe illiterate… I know the terminology. I know what the terms “cut in”, “fold”, and “sift together” mean. I can follow a baking recipe to the letter, and my end product simply refuses to turn out the way it should. My cookies inevitably burn, my biscuits could be used for hockey pucks, my cakes are dry and my pie crusts are chewy. Conversely, my sister, Emily, can make the same recipes and her end products are heavenly… divine… fit for the gods. Just another reminder to me that I shouldn’t waste a perfectly good hour of holiday sleep time on a baking recipe. Ever. Again. The End.

10:30 a.m.: Despite my failed attempt at a Thanksgiving breakfast treat, my family’s Thanksgiving breakfast was extraordinary. My sister, Emily, and her husband, Dirk, put on a delicious holiday meal for everyone. Pumpkin pancakes with buttermilk/caramel syrup; regular pancakes and a variety of syrups; mini spinach quiches; scrambled eggs; bacon; link sausage; biscuits and gravy; coffee bar, complete with a variety of flavored creams and syrups; hot chocolate; and our family’s traditional holiday drink, homemade grape juice with Sprite. Of course Emily made pie (pumpkin, pecan and chocolate silk) for dessert. Because what is Thanksgiving without pie??? Just plain wrong is what I’m thinking…

1:00 p.m.: Back home whipping up a quick batch of my spinach dip. Now, we’ve already concluded that Lyn. Cannot. Bake. And so, henceforth and forever, I will leave the baking to those who are far more capable than I. Lyn can, however, make a very mean spinach dip. Luckily this is what I am usually assigned to make and bring to family gatherings, like my in-laws’ Thanksgiving dinner. And it’s a nice ego boost for me to hear everyone rave about how delicious and fabulous my spinach dip is, especially after my most recent botched muffin attempt. And the very best part… 15 minutes of preparation time, and then it gets thrown in the fridge and I get to take a nap.

3:00 p.m.: Maya, Penelope and I drive to Provo to my wife-in-law’s family Thanksgiving dinner. Now this may be confusing to some people, so I’ll try to explain the relationship. My second (ex-)husband (Maya and Penelope’s father) was previously married to Nicole and they had a daughter, Indigo (my step-daughter). Nicole and I became good friends and Indigo lived with me from the age of one to seven. We call each other “wife-in-law” because there really is no term for what we are. She is “Aunt Nikki” to Maya and Penelope, and I am Indigo’s other “Mom”. No one knows “the ex” better than the two of us, and because of that we have been able to support each other without having to explain ANYTHING to each other about him. Besides Nicole being family with the girls and me, her family members have treated all of us like we’re part of the family also. Nicole’s mom is “Grandma Sindy” to my girls. Her sisters and brothers are “aunts” and “uncles” to them. To some people, it may seem strange or kind of “Jerry Springer”, but who couldn’t use more family? Who wouldn’t want more people out there caring about them? Maybe I have a far more liberal definition of “family” than most people due to a lot of factors in my life, and I consider myself very blessed to have so many caring people in my vast and ever-expanding “family”. Anyway… the girls ate Thanksgiving dinner and I chose to just hang out with everyone because I was still full from breakfast, and there was another dinner coming up in a few hours.

6:00 p.m.: At my in-laws (also known as “home” for the last year). My mother-in-law shows me (yet again) how to make her famous homemade noodles. Everyone shows up and it’s a houseful! Lots of kids of all ages and lots of traditional Thanksgiving food. My mother-in-law makes the BEST homemade stuffing and homemade noodles in the world! I don’t think anyone in the family would even notice if there was no turkey… as long as there was a big pot of chicken and noodles (think chicken and dumplings, only longer, thinner noodles instead of rounded, thick dumplings).

8:00 p.m.: Back in our basement hideaway… watching one of my favorite Christmas movies: “Elf”. I think I fell asleep (or slipped into a tryptophan coma) around 9:00.

My dad will be cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday for all of us. YAY! Let the feasting continue!

No better way to kick off the holiday season: a day full of food, family, more food, naps, more food, holiday movies on the tube, more food… and a week’s worth of leftovers to look forward to!

Hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving too!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I’m NOT STRESSED! Really, I’m Not!

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
Chinese Proverb

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once."
Jennifer Yane

Apparently I have stress. Who knew? No, really. Everyone has stress. I honestly didn’t think that my stress was so bad that my blood pressure would try to kill me because of it. Seriously, I don’t think my stress level has very much to do with my current blood pressure situation. I think that is mainly genetics and possibly something funky going on with my body that the doctors haven’t figured out yet. I’ve been WAY more stressed out in the past than I am now. I look at my life now, and it’s pretty good. Especially if you compare it to the years 1999 to 2006. Now THAT was some serious stress! Maybe my mind has evolved and adapted to the level of stress out of sheer necessity and my body is paying the price. Family and friends keep telling me that I’m stressed.

I don’t FEEL stressed out. Okay, in the mornings (5:30-7:30), getting ready for work, getting ornery kids ready for school, packing their lunches, finding their shoes, jackets, etc. (usually in the dark) – but that’s a short-lived period of stress. It is the most stressful and despised part of my day, but it’s over quickly. Once I’m on my way to work (even through rush hour traffic), I’m good. Work doesn’t stress me out. It’s just work. It’s not personal. However, STARTING new jobs stresses me out to no end. I’ve started three new jobs in the past two years. That’s never happened to me before. Also, LOSING jobs stresses me out to no end. I’ve lost three jobs in the past two years. Another strange occurrence for my life.

If you read my last post, especially as an outsider, you may see a lot of stressors in my life in the last two years. If you know me personally, then you know all the intense stress (hell) I lived through from 1999 through 2006 makes the last two years look like a day at the beach. I have grown accustomed to the PTSD, the depression, the anxiety, to the point that I barely notice it anymore. Except for the constant and unyielding fatigue. Everything feels like too much effort and too much energy for me to exert. I wonder if I’ll ever again get to a point in my life where I want to do anything besides lie down and rest. Right now, my main goal is to live as much like a hermit as possible.

I strive to live in denial. Let me repeat that… I STRIVE to live in denial. The more I think about the stressors in my life, the more stressed out I become, and that can’t be good. So I don’t think about the stressors. I pull a Scarlett O’Hara. “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” Here’s the twist. I have gotten so good at not thinking about the things I can’t change, I don’t even give much thought anymore to the things I actually CAN change. Dirty dishes and laundry? Bills piling up? Dinner? Trash can overflowing? I don’t have the energy to care. I’ve even given up on wearing makeup and doing anything with my hair besides brushing the snarls out of it before work.

Work. W-O-R-K. What a glorious word. I love having a job. I am so grateful that I am employed again and that I feel comfortable and capable and appreciated where I work now. All those months of being unemployed, I knew that a JOB was not going to magically fix everything in my life, but it sure does fix a lot of things. It may add a small amount of stress to my days, but it relieves a huge amount of stress from my life.

I now have INCOME. We will be able to get our own place again and move out of the in-laws’ basement. We all have medical and dental insurance again. I will no longer feel like useless lump of parasitic flesh. I no longer feel as if I’m in some long-term limbo, never being able to plan past tomorrow. I’m getting into a daily routine, and for ME and my personality, that’s a very necessary thing. I need structure and stability in at least one part of my otherwise chaotic life. This is all good.

If I could just get my blood pressure to believe it.

Catsup? Ketchup? Catch Up?

I haven’t really written anything here in over TWO YEARS! Not that I have much of a following, but I know it felt really good for me to blog frequently. It is good for me to write. Too much has happened to truly “catch up”, but I’m going to try to at least give a brief rundown of the high points and low points of the past two years without many details, of course.

08/30/09 – My husband, Corbin turned 32

09/03/09 – My oldest daughter, Danielle turned 19

09/09/09 – Corbin and I got married in Las Vegas. We took Anthony, Maya and Penelope with us for a small vacation. Dirk and Emily took a vacation in Vegas the same week and brought their girls with them. They also arranged for a condo in the same unit as theirs for my parents to stay for a couple days. Corbin’s mom, sister and brother-in-law also came for the wedding. Our good friends, Burton and Julie travelled down to be there with us also.

09/14/09 – My youngest child, Penelope turned 7

09/16/09 – Corbin’s father died suddenly and unexpectedly

10/07/09 – I “celebrated” my 39th birthday

10/24/09 – Danielle and Tyson were married in Spanish Fork, Utah

11/09/09 – My oldest child, Anthony turned 21

11/23/09 – I lost my amazing job

January 2010 – Our car was repossessed for the first time. We managed to get it back.

04/06/10 – I started a job as a store manager for a dry cleaning chain

04/24/10 – My second daughter, Maya turned 10

May 2010 – Our car was repossessed for the second time. Once again, we managed to get it back.

07/30/10 – I lost my job at the dry cleaners. It was kind of a relief because I absolutely despised the owners and believe that they have no business trying to run a business.

8/30/10 – Corbin turned 33

9/03/10 – Danielle turned 20

9/09/10 – Corbin and I had our first anniversary

9/14/10 – Penelope turned 8

9/17/10 – Anthony had to move to Henderson, Nevada, to live with his dad and step-mom because he needed insurance coverage due to his medical problems, and his step-mom has great benefits through her job.

September 2010 – Corbin, Maya, Penelope and I moved in with Corbin’s mom and step-dad. We had barely made rent since November, and with my being unemployed yet again, we knew it would be impossible to keep up with any bills and also pay as much rent as our duplex was. We stayed one month past our year lease. I really miss living in my old neighborhood close to my parents’ house and close to the elementary school the girls liked so much, but you do what you have to do.

10/07/10 – I turned the big FOUR-OH (40)

11/09/10 – Anthony turned 22

12/25/10 – Welfare Christmas for the girls yet again… My whole family was together for Christmas though, and that was fantastic. Brandon flew in from Wisconsin and Anthony was in town with his dad and step-mom.

January 2011 – Our car was repossessed for the final time. We called the finance company and told them to come get it. Then it was about two months of walking and riding the bus in the middle of a pretty harsh Utah winter.

02/28/11 – With some of our tax refund, we purchased a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am. It was great to be mobile again.

03/19/11 – I met my biological father, Lee, for the first time. I also met his wife, Kate, and his mother, Shirley. This is definitely something I will elaborate more on in the future.

04/01/11 – Danielle had her baby shower on April Fool’s Day. At this get-together, I got to meet my half-brother, Todd; his wife, Liz, and their kids.

04/02/11 – I met my step-brother, Peter

04/15/11 – Danielle gave birth to Addalie Martha Sabin, my adorable granddaughter. I was lucky enough to get to be in the room when she was born.

04/24/11 – Maya turned 11

04/24/11 – Easter Sunday fell on Maya’s birthday this year. It turns out that April 24 is also my father, Lee’s birthday. We had an Easter/birthday dinner at his home and I finally got to meet my half-sister, Brandy, her husband, George and their daughter. I also met Jenni and her daughters. Jenni is married to my step-brother, Phil, who was recently deployed.

06/05/11 – I broke my own arm while trying to open the blocked storage unit door in order to retrieve Danielle’s old blessing dress that she wanted Addalie to wear for her blessing the next week.

06/12/11 – Addalie’s blessing at my parent’s house. I invited my “other” family also. Lee, Kate, Grandma Shirley, Pete, Todd, Liz and the kids came. Anthony and Brandon were both in town also. Big family get-together with my dad’s awesome Dutch oven baked in the fire pit in the back yard.

07/10/11 – My mom fell and broke her arm/dislocated her shoulder. She ended up having surgery on it and now has a couple plates and numerous screws in her arm. She had to spend a couple weeks in a rehabilitation center after her surgery also.

08/08/11 – I started working at Provo City. I thought this job was my dream job. They didn’t even give me a chance. Three full days of training, and they gave me the boot because I wasn’t as good at this new job as the woman who had worked there for three years. Ummmm…. Three days…. Three years…. Can you say “learning curve”???? I’m still bitter about this whole thing.

08/25/11 – I interviewed for an office position with the Department of Corrections

08/29/11 – I was pleasantly surprised by being offered the position with the Department of Corrections

08/30/11 – Corbin turned 34

09/02/11 – My dentist couldn’t perform a procedure on my tooth to get it to stop aching because my blood pressure was too high (170/105). He instructed me to see my doctor ASAP.

09/03/11 – Danielle turned 21

09/04/11 – My brother, Joel (who is a paramedic) took my blood pressure for me and told me to go to the hospital because it was unbelievably high (216/120). I went to the hospital and they told me to get in to see my doctor ASAP.

09/06/11 – I started working at the Department of Corrections

09/07/11 – I saw my doctor about my blood pressure. He put me on some meds.

09/09/11 – Corbin’s and my Second Anniversary

09/14/11 – Penelope turned 9

09/15/11 – Another doctor visit about the blood pressure. It was still in the 165/110 area after a week on medication, so he doubled my doses.

09/24/11 – After a week on double doses, my blood pressure finally got down (one time) to 131/92. Hopefully it will continue to go down into the normal range.

TWO-YEAR RECAP: Got married; oldest daughter got married; lost THREE jobs; started THREE jobs; car repossessed THREE times; son moved out of state; moved into in-laws’ basement; met my biological father and that side of the family; became a grandmother; broke my arm; mom broke her arm/dislocated her shoulder/had surgeries; found out my blood pressure is suddenly unbelievably high…. any connection?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Wow. I just looked at my blog for the first time in... oh, I don't know... about a year and a half... and have decided to start writing again. Since last writing, I got married, lost my great job, got a crappy job, lost it (thank goodness) and am struggling with the worst case of depression and non-motivation I have experienced in decades.

Look forward to writing more!