Photos by Amanda Naylor,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Love is a Meatless Ball...

Alyssa, my eight-year-old, is way into writing and publishing stories right now.  She brought home several funny, creative, and well-written stories yesterday, and she begged me to write some stories of my own.  Considering her budding interest in writing and two-year-old Brooke's great interest in listening to stories, I have created this based-on-real-life-events story for my daughters (and for you!)...

Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatless Balls
It was 3:58 PM on a sunny Wednesday in May.  A mother and one little girl sat in their car, parked along the side of the road, watching cars go by.  One minute later, the little girl called out, “SKOO BUS!”

A bigger little girl, the one little girl’s big sister, jumped off of bus 4, looked both ways, and raced across the street.  She opened the door to the car, and got in, asking, “What are we having for dinner?” before she even said, “Hi, Mom and Brooke.”

“Spaghetti and meatless balls,” was Mom’s response to her bigger little daughter, Alyssa. 

“Bee-balls!  Bee-balls!” little Brooke chanted happily. 

“Ugh,” was all Alyssa could muster.  Her mom was forever trying to make her eat weird things—from chocolate-zucchini muffins to ricemellow fluff.  Now meatless balls?!  Why couldn’t she just serve fluorescent orange mac’n cheese like the cool moms?

Mom even managed to make Alyssa’s school lunches embarrassing.  While the other kids were eating Lunchables, chips, and cookies, Alyssa was forced to eat things like yogurt, banana-flaxseed muffins, carrots, and strawberries.  It was torture.

Later that evening in the kitchen, Alyssa was working on her Rocket Math homework and Brooke was choloring in her Hello Kitty activity book.  Mom was boiling green lentils and simmering brown rice.  An oddly meaty smell filled the kitchen as some garlic, scallions, and mini Portobello mushrooms cooked in a skillet.

Then, Mom interrupted Alyssa’s silent reading of Yoko’s World of Kindness when she began to chop up the meatless…sigh…ingredients in the food processor.  She formed the strange-looking mixture of veggies, beans, grains, and spices into sixteen ping pong sized balls, which she placed in rows on a shiny foil-lined cookie sheet.  Into the oven they went.  Oh, joy.

As Mom boiled water for the spaghetti in a big steel pot, Alyssa surveyed the pile of cooking debris on the counter around the sink—mixing bowls, knives, food processor parts, measuring cups and spoons, the green tops of some stinky scallions, mushroom stems, and the box from the organic spaghetti.  The long, skinny noodles were brown and apparently “eight whole grain with milled flaxseed,” whatever that meant.  Was it too much to ask that our spaghetti noodles, at least, be normal and white like everyone else’s?

It was hopeless.  Even the tomato sauce was strange.  As if plain old tomatoes weren’t bad enough, this stuff was Organic Garden Vegetable!  The addition of more vegetables took this sauce from a moderate inconvenience to a serious problem.  “Can I just have my spaghetti plain?” Alyssa ventured. 

“No, you need to have tomato sauce…and at least try a meatless ball,” Mom replied with a sigh, as she stirred the spaghetti noodles into the boiling water.  Why did she look so sad?  Alyssa was the one who was going to have to eat this crazy vegetable-filled meal, after all.

Later, Dad and Alyssa were in their usual seats at the island counter, bowls of spaghetti and sauce topped with the odd-little meatless balls in front of them.  Brooke was seated at her own little toddler person-sized table with a fishy plate covered with cut up meatless balls and tomato sauce “dip.”  Brooke was a big fan of good food presentation, and so Mom sprinkled some grated Parmesan cheese “sparklers” over the meatless balls.  Brooke was thrilled by this, and after asking for a “fork, peez!”  began to gobble up her sparkly bee-balls and dip.  Show off.

The rest of the family began to carve up their meatless balls and twirl up saucy spaghetti.  Mom and Dad tried their meatless balls and made comments about the texture and spice profile.  Alyssa ate the spaghetti, carefully circumnavigating the meatless ball chunks.  Mom noticed.  She picked a lentil-(if you know what that is, it’s smaller than a green pea) sized piece of meatless ball out and put it right on Alyssa’s tongue.  It fell off.  Right onto the floor.  Mom picked it up within five seconds, so she put it back in Alyssa’s mouth, and this time she chewed and swallowed it with a grimace.

“I think they’re as good as a regular meat meatball,” Mom said triumphantly.

“I wouldn’t go quite that far,” Dad said, although he had cleaned out his whole bowl of spaghetti and meatless balls already.

“Das gooood, liddle Mama,” Brooke added.  Brown-noser.

In stark contrast to the face Alyssa had made while ingesting the probably dog-hair covered microscopic piece of meatless ball that Mom had force-fed her, she generously stated, “It was okay.  I wouldn’t eat it again, but…” Alyssa just knew that Mom was going to make it again.  And chick-pea falafels.  And red lentil dal.  And carrot spice muffins and so on and so forth. 

Alyssa also knew, somewhere deep down, that Mom wasn’t making these foods to make her bigger little daughter the laughingstock of the Cheeto-eating, Hi-C-sipping kids in the lunchroom.  She was going to the trouble of making these vegetable-based, whole food meals because she cared so much about making sure her family was healthy!

Yeah, the little girls’ mom was weird, but she was the little girls’ mom, meatless balls and all.  Forever.

The End.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Lemming, Right Here.

I live a charmed life.  

Unfortunately, my forte in writing seems to be sarcastic diatribes about the mundane, a la Jerry Seinfeld.  Truth be told, I am a little bit afraid to write in my favored genre; it seems irreverent to complain—however comically—about my life when I am so blessed.

Being so unbelievably fortunate makes it much more difficult to come up with good material for my notoriously bitter, bad-natured, self-obsessed rants.  Nevertheless, I will preserve.  I will push on and find something to complain about:

And 2.5 seconds later…  

 My neighborhood.  God help us (and our grey-haired, respectable neighbors), we are a young family living in what was originally intended to be a retirement community for senior citizens.  Quiet.  Civilized.  By its definition, free of free-ranging, shrieking children and lawless, leashless, yapping dogs and noisy friends and rusted cars and parties with DJs and loud trucks and dirt bikes and chainsaws and sidewalk chalk and battery-operated pink toddler-sized Hummers.  And free of Greg—yelling and singing and loud-talking Greg, especially.

Yep, there goes the neighborhood.

I read the HOA documents before we signed the contract to move into this community.  Honestly, I thought they were a joke.  Owners can’t park on the street or plant a plant?  Clearly those forty-something pages of rules akin to these are meant to be pulled out in extreme cases…like, say, for that hard-partying, boom box with bass turned all the way up-blaring neighbor who builds a fence out of tie-dyed car tires and uses an old toilet as a flower planter for marijuana and parks fifteen junked cars inhabited by drunken hobos in his yard which is also home to a flock of lice-infested, 4AM-crowing chickens, fifty-two feral cats, a blind, three-legged mutt chained to a half-eaten, hot pink dog igloo, and a rabid, stolen Bengal tiger who frequently gnaws its way lose and mauls visiting grandchildren.  

But they were deadly serious about all of them.  A week ago, I got an e-mail from the HOA detailing exactly what grade of black-dyed, hardwood mulch must be used to spruce up any planting areas, and just today I got a “spring reminder” e-mail today from the HOA stating that both a written proposal and a pictorial plan needed to be submitted to the property management group if a resident planned to plant anything in “their” gardens.
A month ago—after I accidentally slammed Brooke’s fingers in the door trying to let my dogs out and became distracted by assuring that none of those fingers had been crushed or severed—the dogs started running from the yard.  Just as soon as it was clear to me that Brooke was going to survive, I shut her into the house (yes, I shut her alone in the house—please don’t call child services—because I was frantic about keeping track of the dogs, and I couldn’t pick her up and run with her because I had a hernia—see? charmed life!) and tried to run after them while clutching aforementioned hernia.  As you can imagine, I wasn’t very fast, and so they reached the down-the-street neighbor’s yard before me.  I was hot on their heels, though, and as I reached the yard, calling their names in my most stern dog-mother voice, my gleeful dogs were barking, and the furious neighbor was rounding the corner, clutching to her chest her small, brown dog (who, in Ringo’s defense, did resemble a groundhog, and you know how Jack Russells feel about groundhogs) and screaming the word, “LEASH!” into my face. I was not given a chance to explain my situation or to apologize. “LEASH!”  (Translation: “There is a strict leash law in the neighborhood.  It is enforced, and a fine is forthcoming.”)

Accidents be damned.  

And fences, apparently~well, "dividing instrumentalities" they are considered by the HOA.  Never wanting to replay the horrors  depicted in that story just now, we promptly requested permission to construct a fence to corral our ferocious, lawless, monstrous, 20-pound attack dogs (and equally terrifying children).  Permission denied.  

And play areas:  “No temporary or permanent play areas are permitted.”   So, we can just forget about leaving that two-foot Little Tykes plastic sliding board outside overnight.

And, same goes for the one-foot diameter circular satellite dishes that the non-cable half of America uses.  We requested permission to put a one in “our” garden because DirecTV is way cheaper than cable.  Denied.  Satellite dishes are a blight on the “excellent outward appearance” of the neighborhood, as are burned out lightbulbs in exterior lights, grills, big trucks, boats, campers, ATVs, livestock, poultry, basketball hoops, skateboards, kiddie pools, actual pools, motorized vehicles parked outside of the garage, signs, flags, lawn ornaments, garbage containers, dividing instrumentalities, paint, laundry, tents, shacks, sheds, construction materials, screen doors that aren’t full-view style, and so on and so forth ad nauseum.

There are exactly two floorplans of houses in this community (all of the two-stories have the same hunter-colored shutters and door, and all of the ranchers have the same burgundy-colored shutters and door).  ALL of the houses are clad in the exact same stone facing and the exact same BEIGE siding.  All of the trim is painted the in the same shade of beige.  The same landscaper installed all of the gardens in the same general layout with plant media from a list of approved vegetation.  Homogenous.  I would invoke plain vanilla, but boring beige is much more appropriate in this situation.  Changing the outward appearance of the home in any way is disallowed without board approval.

And since no one has any power over their property, I guess they divert their attentions to imposing rules, watching for infractions, making formal complaints, and determining enforcement actions to ensure compliance.

What kind of lemming signs up to be part of something like this?  This lemming, right here.  And her husband lemming.

Greg is a man (to clarify: not actually a lemming...but is there a difference?).  He didn’t read the HOA documents before he signed the papers.  If he had, which he wouldn’t have and didn’t (restatement for added emphasis), he wouldn’t have intended to follow the rules anyway.  He is a renegade.  I didn’t think that I was rebellious or confrontational before I moved here, but now I’m downright oppositional-defiant.  I realize, rationally, that since I signed up to live in this neighborhood despite having read ALLLLL of its rules, I really have no right to complain about or rebel against them.  I'm choosing to ignore that rational line of thought for this one.  There’s just something really unsettling about being the least anal, OCD person in the group for the first time in nearly thirty years.  And it makes me want to SCREAM!  (But I can’t because “[n]o noxious, unsightly or offensive activity shall be conducted on any Lots or on the streets…[and] No annoying or nuisance activity which is offensive to other Owners will be tolerated.")

So, now I am quietly whispering to no one in particular: Darn it all to heck.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Never On My Own

I was just reading my friend's blog, Never On My Own.  I like the duplicity of that name.

In one respect, it expresses the exasperation and over-exposure of the mother of young children; as in: Will I ever be able to use the bathroom alone AGAIN?

In another respect all together, it relates to the overwhelming loneliness that can be felt simultaneously in the same role: Will I ever speak to another adult (about anything other than children) AGAIN?

After being on Facebook for a few months, I am RELIEVED to be on Momglomerate again.  Facebook is an assault of private information and oversharing.  Blogging, by comparison, seems so much more intimate.  I am still able to share my thoughts with the wider world so that I feel less alone, but I can enjoy some of the relative "silence" of blogspot.  On Facebook, I was never on my own in a bad way--like an unhealthy, seizure-inducing way.  On Momglomerate, I am never on my own in a good way--like that I have valid thoughts worthy to be shared with others who might appreciate them.

Good work, Laura.  Thanks for writing and giving me so much to consider!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So Far, So Good: I'm Scheming "Something" Mightily

It has been three days since the start of 2012, and so far, so good! 

Reflecting on some scripture and commentary (from my Advent "Blue Book"), I was struck by these words: "So what am I to do?  I am free to do what I can do...something, just not everything...I can do something."   I often feel stymied by my limited ability to DO anything, as a stay-at-home mom.  I want to do something AWESOME, but how with so little free time or extra resources?  This commentary seemed to speak to that exact feeling.  No, I'm not free to do much at this time.  But that doesn't mean that I can't do anything.  Even if it's something small, it is still something, and every little bit helps.

On that note, I've been pretty productive here.  Mostly I'm trying to determine how to use space at the farm to do the most good.  No one wants to hear any of my ideas until they are fully formed, so my mind is basically a whirling chaotic mess!  I have written down my ideas in various notebooks and scraps of paper which litter my desk (basically a tangible version of what's going on inside my brain).

My current "master plan" is basically to consolidate the horses in a smaller area that is more centrally located to the houses.  The horses all require very little pasture at this point, so moving them to a more confined area would make it easier to manage their weight and easier to care for them in general, as water and electricity are already present*.

(*A big deal, as tonight I spent more than an hour fighting with the hose, which is basically the singular plot or at least the most commonly recurring theme of all of my winters.  Eventually, I was forced to give up on the hose, which froze shut immediately after being attached to the carefully winterized faucet.  Therefore, I was resigned to clumsily filling and transporting and lugging and pouring a 5-gallon water tank repeatedly from the basement of the barn to the top of the property where the horses currently reside...until it broke, sloshing me with water in the 23 degree night air!)

So, in order to determine whether my "master plan" is at all feasible, I have been collecting estimates from a variety of contractors--excavating, wood construction, metal construction, concrete construction, fencing, etc.  If it is allowable by the township, I'd like to fortify and expand a barn that currently exists and replace some decrepit fencing that has been removed.

And...if I already have an excavator leveling a spot for an enlarged barn structure, maybe--just maybe--it would be the right time to level a spot to ride (dare I say it, an "arena")?  After all, there is already a flood light lighting the old "riding" area...  Oh, to have an arena after all of these years!!  A level spot with footing and lights would take my enjoyment of the horses to a new stratosphere.

If the horses were removed from the upper fields to the central spot, by way of my "master plan," less mowing and maintenance would be required in that area.  Efficiency: check!  We would be able to ride whenever--darkness, rain, freezing weather.  Efficiency: check!  And, we would have a large acreage of pasture that was not in use.  Efficiency: Zero~ especially as we have been mowing it several times during the summer, which is not a blast, and then allowing the cut grass to rot.  So...wait for it!...we have a service come to custom bale those pastures, thusly, gaining a supply of hay for our horses at a much-reduced price and also creating a surplus of hay that could be sold or donated (to the SPCA Equine Fund!!)  Efficiency: check, check! Not to mention a GREAT BIG SOMETHING for starving horses!

Add that planning and scheming to my ideas for additional fundraising for the SPCA horses--tack sale, sponsorships, market stands, horsey pillows--oh, and my thoughts on a free-range, organic-egg-laying chicken flock--oh, and a non-profit horse sanctuary or foster home--and I'm on a major role!  I'M FINALLY DOING SOMETHING...or at least scheming mightily to do something!

But can she keep up this level of spastic mental activity?  That remains to be seen...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One More New-Year Thing

I was reading my horoscope in the local newspaper.  It said something to the effect of: Your work is taking up a lot of your time and emotional energy.  If you follow through with your dreams, this could be the year that they come true.  I was super-happy to read this.  In fact, I cut it out to tape somewhere for inspiration.  I can't find it now, as evidenced by my ugly paraphrase above, because Brooke can reach my desk now and robs me of my things and then squirrels them away in or under furniture for me to randomly find later...

As I was searching for the scrap and considering my euphoria at it's initial reading, it occurred to me that it is a really generic horoscope.  I mean, isn't it always the case that if you follow through with your dreams, they will come true...for anyone...anywhere...anytime?

Our failings don't occur because the stars didn't align.  They occur because we give up on the dream.  Or we didn't fully form the dream.

I give up on my "dreams" when my reality doesn't immediately (or eventually) match the dreaminess.  I give up if things are hard or if the next step isn't obvious or if I get overwhelmed or if I feel tired or if I'm afraid people will see that I'm not as smart, cool, talented, or capable as I'd had them convinced previously.

My ultimate dream is to do something AWESOME.  For the wider world.  For my family.  For my own sense of self-worth.  I want to find fulfilling work.  It would be a bonus if that work was gainful (in the financial sense).

2012: Eat, Pray, Love. (Better.)

Eat: I am so thankful for my health.  I am aware that I do not deserve to be as thin or as healthy as I am based on my current diet.  I need to eat better--you know, as if I love and respect my body.  It would also be the best example for healthy, conscientious eating that my daughters will have.

Pray: I believe in God.  I am thankful for the Bible; I feel re-energized and re-affirmed by reading it, listening to it, or discussing it.  I kind of wish we had a church community that fit us as a family.  We haven't been attending a church regularly, and I don't miss our church...I feel guilty, but I don't feel like going back there either.  Nevertheless, I would like to spend more time in prayer and meditation and reading the Bible because it makes me happy and content.  I become fully aware of my many blessings and overwhelmed with thankfulness.  By feeling happy, content, thankful, and blessed, I will be able to better serve others...and maybe meet people to serve as my formal or informal "church."  I'd also like to provide more of a faith-full example to my kids.

Love: Our new family motto is, "You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important."  I will tell my family members this.  I will make them repeat it to me.  I will use my actions to assure that they believe it!  I will continue to volunteer at Alyssa's school because it makes her feel special and loved.  I will work to be the best wife and mother that I can be, and when I mess up, I will apologize.  I will continue to multiply the collective peace and happiness that comes from being a member of our horse-human-canine herd!  I will try every day to do something to serve others--no matter how small--donating, volunteering, working for the SPCA Equine Program, researching ways to start my own non-profit venture.

And...I can only hope that if I pour myself into all of this eating, praying, and loving that this will lead to the only thing that I (feel that I) lack--fulfilling work for me that allows me to contribute to our family financially. 

Although, they didn't call the book, Eat, Pray, Love, Work, did they?  Maybe that's the secret?  We shall see.  On with the NEW YEAR!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Follow-Up to Previous Post (Anti Christmas Gift B-Word)--Yes, It's Long, But You Need to Read This....After All, WE All Did...

The following is a (circular and random) open e-mail chain to-and-from my family members regarding our annual Christmas debate: to gift or not to gift.  What an stupid question?  We all find it very amusing now that we are finished writing it...and have decided, heretoforth, to agree to disagree on the topic.  
For your entertainment and enlightenment...  (As our non-Chinese, local, charitable gift to you, please feel free to cut/paste any of our more acerbic zingers into your own emails on this topic~ we know you're writing them too!  'Tis the season...)
And So It Begins....
From: Beth 
Hi Jane ~
I was wondering if you have heard anything from your kids about what they would like to do about Christmas gift giving.  I was going to send this out to all, but thought best of that thinking you and I should be the "decidinators" . .. What do you think should be the protocol for gifts-giving this year?  Or should we not do gifts and just treat Christmas as a great time to get together and share our time - kinda like thanksgiving, but on Dec, 25th?  Let's keep an open dialogue...

On Nov 26, 2011, at 12:51 PM, Beth wrote:
Hi Everyone ~
Does ANYONE have any ideas/thoughts on Christmas gift giving this year?  Should we forgo gifts altogether and and just spend time together?  I am at a loss . . . 
Hugs and love to all,
Crazy Beth
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods - merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans.
There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? (Even most Hallmark products are made in China). Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificate from your local American hair salon or barber? Gym membership?
It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down
the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen?
Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn
mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all
winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift
certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery
sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.
Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains --
this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives
on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

How about the services of a local cleaning lady for a day?

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is
struggling to get his repair business up and

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin
their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and 
beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to
see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese
lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar
string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community (not 50%, but 50 cents). 
If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash
guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that
China can build another glittering city. Christmas is
now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep
plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we
care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits
come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

From: Jane  Subject: Re: Christmas 2011
OK, sorry I didn't get back to you right away Beth.   What I honestly think about Christmas, is it's nice to give at least one gift to each other, (did i really say that???) whether it be big or small, and that really doesn't matter because it's just an expression of love in the giving itself, not the size of the gift (even if it's zero size, i think i meant to say!).  Everyone has different financial constraints.   Whether the giver is an individual or a family, that doesn't matter either.  But I personally don't think I could handle a Christmas without the ritual of gifts, unwrapping, and pets sitting in all the paper and ribbon mess.
However, having said that,  I personally don't need anything, and would be most happy to follow the basic tenets of the "new American Christmas" tradition (attached below for the edification of those unfamiliar with it!).   And I think I'll give along those lines too ... (except for those gifts I already have from "other" places :) ... 
At this point I think we may be having the company of one extra person for Christmas, Cari, dear friend, and daughter of dear friends in Phoenix (her dad was who i went to see just before he passed away about 3 years ago, if you remember that trip i made).   Do you think you could handle an extra at your house?   I will provide appropriately.   If not, then she'll just have to sit up at our house while we're at yours.   
Sorry if my views are disagreeable with everyone else, but you asked.   Hopefully I wont be the only one to weigh in now ... HINT HINT!
love, jane xx

From: Jenna
i would not be upset if there were no gifts (except for the little ones of course).  Alex will be joining me....  we just like sitting by the fire and eating with everyone  :)

On Nov 27, 2011, at 9:35 PM, Aubrey wrote:
Wellll, since we are being honest, everyone knows that I am a Scroogey anti-Christmas gift proponent, and our family is amply blessed, and while I love everyone sincerely, I do not necessarily believe that presents given equals or even approximates an expression of love. 

Anti-gifting point 1: I find it hard to come up with personal, meaningful gifts--expensive or otherwise--when we really don't know that much about each others' wants and/or needs...  This is why we, at least, usually end up doing silly, junky Chinese gifts---remember the bacon strip band-aids anyone?

Anti-gifting point 2: For me, the expression of love is in choosing to spend the holiday in each others' company....eating good food, watching silly movies, and the like are "Christmas" to me. 

So, being that we really and truly don't know each other that well, I propose (A) a  practical handmade gift exchange.  This would fit the "American-made Christmas" facet (which I think is awesome) and be budget friendly (because, yes, some of us are definitely definitely on a budget!) and actually show genuine love and care for the recipient of the gift.  (As one of Brooke's books says, "Where is love, Biscuit?' "It's in the soft sweaters Grandma knits especially for us...") Or, I propose (B) a charitable gift or contribution in the honor of gift recipient.

I don't know why, really, we do this email discussion every year, because each of our feelings are essentially the same from year to year, and everyone pretty much does whatever they feel like doing anyway.  I mean this: I don't need anything for Christmas and I can't even think of anything I want for Christmas (except for to stop having this repetitive annual email conversation).  I am disgusted by the consumerism surrounding stupid Black Friday and the whole starts-in-November Christmas shopping season.  People are starving!  People are homeless!   I would like to provide more groceries or clothing donations to local families through the office at Ore Valley or the church.  I feel like a turd for even spending time talking about a gift exchange when I know that right here in York (not to mention the surrounding world) people are hungry and cold right this very second.  It makes me feel dirty.

So, for me, no gifts please.  Or if you feel you must, some boxed food items.  Or, since I feel dirty, maybe some homemade soap.  We could still wrap that stuff in paper and ribbons and thusly tick off the mess for dogs that feels like Christmas for Jane.

Aren't you glad you asked?  ;-)

Love (and respect, even if that isn't coming across in my tirade), 
Apparently Freaking Insane Aubrey

P.S.  It should be noted that every God-blessed one of my families (remember, I go to Greg's mom's, Greg's dad's, Greg's grandma's, the Keffer grandparents, the Keffer parents, and the Yosts'...maybe Naylors?) is having a version of this same debate about gift-giving in a changing world and family climate...  so I very well may be a LOT "over" it.  Multiply holiday shopping list exponentially by 2 for Greg's mom-parents, 6 for Greg's dad-parents/family, 4 for Greg's grandma's pollyannas, 4 for Keffer grandparent pollyannas, 4 for Keffer parents, 8 for Yosts, plus our independent family Christmas, Naylor stocking stuffers times 20 (maybe?).  Sorry for bitching, but bitch or no bitch, the above is my uncensored opinion.

From: Aubrey 
I have an instantaneous bout of sender's remorse.  I know that that was bitchy.  I stand by what I said, but I also want to say: I really do love you all, and if I won the lottery, I would buy a bunch of food for the food pantry AND really amazing presents that you guys would genuinely want!  As it is here in reality, in lieu of the usual Chinese junk that I usually buy to make you laugh, you will probably be receiving a gift that I handmake just for you with love (like the Grandma in the Biscuit book that Brooke loves).  Boy, I do hope you guys like felted soaps!!  Last thing: even though I don't love the gift tradition, I do really love YOU all, and I am very happy to spend Christmas as we do.
So, as the Jamaicans say, "respect mon, all 'de time."

On Nov 27, 2011, at 11:08 PM, Jane wrote:
LOL!  Shame on me!  I must be the most self-centered person in the world!   Not ..... but Aubrey, we definitely come from opposite sides of the fence ... you've got all those families, and all my families are back in Australia.  I guess i like giving at Christmas because it reminds me of what we all did back "home" (minus swimming in the pool after Xmas lunch of course), and ... because i hardly have anyone here to give anything to.  Granted it's therefore much easier for me than for you ... well, as far as giving goes, that is.  
This re-checking every year about what Christmas should look like is indeed a bit unnecessary ... so why don't we just leave it at give what you can, don't give what you can't, shake hands, kiss each other, enjoy dinner together, watch silly movies, get drunk, fall asleep, and so be it.   
So here's to charity, silver nixleys, soaps, knits, golden wait-awhiles, laughter, love, dogs, and recycled paper.  (yay! vindication at last!)
love you too.

On Nov 28, 2011, at 12:21 AM, Beth wrote:
Let it forever be closed from this day forward :  Yost Family Christmas Gift Exchange shall be "do what you want/can/feel like!!"
THWACK!!   Beth

On Nov 28, 2011, at 12:37 PM, Jane wrote:

On Nov 28, 2011, at 11:05 AM, Skyler wrote:
I'm not sure 'Booya!' really fits that situation, deary...

From: Beth 
What actually is "booya"?

On Nov 28, 2011, at 7:15 PM, Jane wrote:
I dunno, but it sounds great when you say it with gusto.  Emphasize the B and the oo and say it as loud as possible ... it's fun!  (Yeah Skyler, what DOES it mean, anyway?)  Jane

From: Skyler 
It's more of an "IN YOUR FACE!" than anything.  It would be appropriate if you were attempting to tell Aubrey "Take that, mofo!", but not if you were trying to say "Well that's the end of that conversation!"  Oh, you oldies.

On Nov 28, 2011, at 6:33 PM, Aubrey wrote:
Now that we have a definition, I'm going to go ahead and decide not to take it as a "take that, mofo" but more of a "well, now that we are all still completely unclear on that and deciding to agree to disagree...TADA!"  I like Crazy Beth's plan to just do whatever the hell we feel like doing every year since that seems to be what we always do anyway.
Love to all,

On Nov 28, 2011, at 6:50 PM, Jane wrote:
Oh, no ... There was definitely no mofo-ing in my booya.  It was more meant as a "well so be it!" or "great! We've  found a solution!"
you youngies are always changing the traditiinal meaning of older words, so why can't us oldies change the (ha ha traditional) meaning of new words (that have no apparent connection with any other known word in the language)?  Booya!  

On Nov 29, 2011, at 10:31 AM, Jenna wrote:
Ahem, I would like to clarify the booya/booyow thing. In America, it is just a silly word for "wham!," "that's right!," or even "in your face mofo!"
But in china, it is actually the word you say to pesky vendors who are desperate for a sale (which is all of them) that means, "I don't want it."  Try it out sometime in a chinatown somewhere. They will both get the picture and be stunned that you spoke Chinese :)
Moral of the story: let's all say booyow to Chinese gifts and hello to the inappropriate Christmas movie of the year. Ideas anyone?
Love, Jenna