Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I have realized that I own too much Christmas crap. I always knew that I had quite a bit, but I don't know when it became a lot. Every year I go through the routine and put everything into the festive green & red tubs, label them nice and neat by room (e.g. Living Room, Family Room) and put them away until next year. I think that I am going to need to buy more tubs this year.

I have been decorating for two days, that's right TWO DAYS** and I don't even have the stinkin' tree up yet. That's tomorrow night's activity for the Schmidts.

My goal was to have everything done by the 1st of December and by God we are going to get it done. I have actually started a list of helpful hints for next year's decorating (I am not going to let it take up two days of my life next year if it kills me). Here's the list so far:

  1. Unpack one tub at a time. DO NOT unpack everything at once. That is how we ended up with two wise men instead of three.
  2. If the garland is tangled into one large ball, DO NOT try to untangle after two glasses of wine. Step away and try it again in the morning.
  3. DO NOT purchase any more holiday towels, we have enough to last until we retire in 2025. Don't use tissue paper to wrap items in tubs, use one of the many towels.
  4. If a 4 year old tells you the garland is even, get a second opinion. The fact he said, "Even what?" should have been a clue.
  5. Try not to laugh out loud when children believe the 12" decorative tree is our "real tree". I believe the phrase, "Man this stinks" was uttered by little man.
  6. DO NOT ask the home office's opinion of how things look unless you want an honest answer.

**Disclaimer - With regard to the two day thing I have a couple of things to share just to make sure that you don't think I completely challenged. #1 - I have been sick, finally went to Urgent Care today, feeling better after antibiotic. #2 - The little elf helping me is 4 - enough said. He is a pretty cute little elf though, however takes frequent breaks to dress the dog up in holiday garb and make phone calls to people we don't know.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We survived without incident

Well the Schmidts survived Thanksgiving. We spent the day with my family at my aunt's house in Eden Prairie. We've never had Thanksgiving at my aunt's house. She moved to San Francisco 26 years ago and before that we were always out of state, so it was a first. She was a gracious hostess.

The kids all managed to stay on good terms with one another. No major scuffles, which was also a first. The only "blow out" of the day was an air mattress. Evidently the four stooges thought that skiing down an air mattress incline from a metal dog kennel was a good idea. We still do not know who's brainchild that was.

The crab of the day award goes to my aunt's dog Rudy. He is still adjusting to the kids and having all these people/dogs invade his home. He only bit one person, my sister. Oh and he gave my nephew a nip on the behind. He then spent the rest of the day in the gulag.

My grandmother also joined us. She is 93 and is in an assisted living apartment here in the Cities. I am so thankful we were able to share the day with her. I now have the memory of Gigi drinking mimosas at 10 a.m. and wanting another.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A year ago this week.

A year ago this week I was summoned for jury duty. Upon arrival on the first day, prospective jurors were told there were 60+ cases in the queue for the week. Two of the 60 were murder.

I planned to have a few days to catch up on reading while waiting for a case. Of course, things didn't work out as I had planned. My name was called with 50 others within the first hour for one of the two murder cases.

The whole jury selection process is fascinating. It began in the courtroom with the potential jurors receiving an explanation of the charges and process, while the defendant sat before us. First degree murder, second degree sale of illegal substance. It was surreal to be sitting a few feet away from a man accused of taking another's life. We were asked to complete pages of questions; do you believe this, do you believe in that. The questions made you think and state your beliefs about things which had never crossed my mind.

I returned the next day hopeful I would go back to the prospective juror pool and sit on a case about someone's property line dispute, however I left as Juror #9 in the case of the State of MN versus the defendant for the murder of a man from New Mexico during a drug deal gone very bad.

When the trial began I realized during opening statements I had actually watched this case on TV the day it happened and here I was now sitting on the jury. The trial did go quickly and I learned a great deal about our legal process and ultimately realized that the system does work.

I was shocked by the case which was presented by the State of MN and how many holes there were from witnesses to evidence. The jury, according to the prosecution, was supposed to find the defendant guilty because they told us he did it. All in all, it appeared that the man being tried for the murder was the easiest target to charge.

The police and prosecutors made up their mind that they had their man and stopped pursuing other suspects which became evident during defense cross-examination. Based upon the information presented at trial, the defendant appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wasn't a good man, he was a drug dealer, however I believed he did not kill anyone.

In the end, the defendant was acquitted of all charges and he walked out of the courtroom a free man after eight months behind bars awaiting his trial. About six months ago, a man at the scene of the shooting actually pleaded guilty of second degree murder and is now serving three years.

It has been a year, but I can honestly say that I think about this experience every day. I wonder what became of the suspect, has he changed his life around? Did he understand that he was given a second chance? It is a daunting task to know that you and your peers have the power to send a young man away for the rest of his life. It truly affected me. It bothers me that I really do not know beyond a reasonable doubt what really happened that hot summer day in north Minneapolis, how many lives were affected and will never be the same.

Each night when I watch the news and hear that there has been a shooting or an arrest, I pray that the name I hear is not that of the man we believed was not guilty.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Guardian (wasn't that a movie?)

I took a personality test and I am a Guardian (ESTJ). It is a little more warm and fuzzy than what I used to always be The Executive (ENTJ). This stay-at-home gig must be making me soft.

The Guardian - You're a natural leader and quick, logical decision maker. Goals are important in your life, and you take many steps to acheive them. You enjoy interacting with others, mostly through work related activities. Your high energy level means you are great at getting things done! You would make a great teacher, judge, or police detective.

So, I ask you, if I have all this energy and are great at getting stuff done, why does my house look like a bomb hit it???

Thanks to Bobbi for sharing this. Here is the link for others: What's your personality type?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Turkey for me, turkey for you

Turkey. Whenever I hear the word turkey I am reminded of a little tune Adam Sandler performed on SNL years ago. My friend Sue and I used to sing it at work and it made us happy.

Up until yesterday turkey was a happy place. I now have a new connotation for turkey... TURKEY BINGO.

Turkey Bingo is an annual event at AE's school. In the past our family packed into the gym with hundreds of other people and played bingo for three hours while a teacher sat on the stage wearing a styrofoam corncob on her head calling numbers. B-9, we have B-9.

This year I stepped from a spectator to an official in the game we call Turkey Bingo.

I've wanted to get more involved at school and last night I put in a lifetime of involvement in three hours. Somehow I ended up coordinating food for 600 and organizing all voluteers (40+).

I only wanted to be physically ill once (ok, maybe twice) throughout the evening. The worst was when I called the pizza place to check on our late order of 70 pizzas and was told by some kid, "Oh no, we forgot to make your order." We also went through 9,000 bingo sheets in the first 45 minutes completely depleting our supply. Other than that all went well.

I did have a good time and have had time to reflect today. I met some really nice people and was helped out by my wonderful neighbors.

As my neighbor and good friend Lori says, "It takes a village" to do many things like raise children, decorate a house and now put on Turkey Bingo. Lori usually adds the caveat, "Let's just hope we're not a village of idiots."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hi, my name is Susan and I have a problem...

We are now in the second month of the new TV season and I am finally admitting that I have a problem. I am addicted to my DVR.

I realized that I am watching/recording ten, yes ten shows on a weekly basis, plus Oprah daily. It would be eleven, however my DVR got too full and wiped out all of the Grey's Anatomy for this year, so I am out of the loop. I will just borrow Shelly's copy of Season 3 when it comes out because I know that she will buy it because she is hooked on McDreamy or it is McSteamy? (I can't keep them straight)

In the past I never got this involved because I would completely forget to watch the show get over it in a matter of minutes, however this is different. So many of the shows that I am watching are ones that if you miss a week you are completely lost, e.g. Heroes, Jericho.

My favorite comedy continues to be The Office. There is not a better show on TV. I thought that after Arrested Development was canceled I wouldn't laugh so hard that I cried, but Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson proved me wrong. For those that haven't seen it and work in any type of prairie dog town office setting you must watch.

I am becoming disenchanted with Lost (my favorite drama for the past couple years after they killed Alias), it is moving so slow. They are still on the island with no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, they still don't know who the Others really are and the polar bears and black cloud thing just showed up again. Go figure.

Now Lost is on hiatus until next February or something. Last year I would have been lost (no pun intended), this year I have nine other friends & Oprah to keep me company.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The customer is always right

Today was a lazy day. Little man didn't feel well, he told me it was because I fed him bad waffles this morning for breakfast.

It was gorgeous outside and we were inside laying on the couch. JG took a little nap and I caught up on the show "Heroes". I really like it. I always get hooked into those long drawn out shows and then I suck my friend Shelly in with me.

While watching one of the episodes, JG asked for a glass of water. I said, "Wouldn't you like some orange juice?" (thinking Vitamin C)

He turns to me, "Mom, I would like water with three ice cubes please. You know the customer is always right."

When did I become the wait staff and the little people in my home the customers?

Monday, November 06, 2006

So many books, so little time

I like to read, a lot. I think that on average I go through at least a book if not two or three a week when I am really in the zone.

I have always loved reading, in fact my dream as a child was to be locked in the Rapid City Public Library overnight. They used to have this really cool Alice in Wonderland theme and I was always in awe. How sick is that?

AE has recently embraced reading, which I could not be happier about. She has had a book in her hand every spare minute the past month.

Last night we were reading her latest book, "The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls" by Elsie Primavera. It is really cute, a little Lemony Snicket, a little Frank L. Baum. Imagine that the Gumm is from Francis Gumm (aka Judy Garland).

While we took a little break I told AE how happy I was that she loved to read.

"I don't like reading. At all," she said.

I was surprised, "What? Why have you had your nose in a book every day?"

"I only like it because dad is paying me if I finish seven books this month."

I should have known. Our daughter is shrewd. I know she likes to strike a deal before she willingly does anything. She is going to be quite the force to be reckoned with. I feel bad for corporate America (if that is the path she chooses) and her future husband.

Her true nature came to light this summer at my sister's house. My sister wanted to borrow AE's favorite CD, which she wasn't too happy about.

"You can borrow it if you pay me $10." AE said.

"What?" my sister replied. "I am not going to pay you $10 to borrow a CD."

"Fine." AE countered. "$12 then."

My sister borrowed the CD free of charge and AE learned that you cannot dicker with family when it comes to music purchased by your parents.

Gotta go, I have a tennis match in the a.m. and need to get some sleep. Plus, I want to get started on my new book, "Vince and Joy" by Lisa Jewell.

On a side note, the Schmidts did very well at the Poker tourney the other night. The home office finished third and I took ninth. We had some good laughs and saw quite a few of our friends.

The worst part was we didn't get home until 3:00 a.m. We are getting too old for that more than once a year. Thank goodness my mom and aunt were kind enough to have a sleepover at my aunt's with the kids and dog so we were able to recover. Thanks guys!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Does a straight beat a flush?*

The home office signed us up for the annual Muellencamp Family Poker tournament. The tournament is about 50 of our friends and acquaintances crammed together in a basement for three plus hours trying to bluff one another out of $40 each.

This is my second tournament, however I feel that it is the first time I am truly playing. Last year, I thought that it would be fun to see what all the hubbub was about so I went and didn't really have a clue as to what was going on. I made it to the second table completely based on luck, nothing else. DLS on the other hand is actually quite good at this poker thing. It must be that mathematical mind of his.

This year I have been "practicing" so to speak. I really just needed to figure out the whole betting part of the game. I went online and have been playing with a bunch of folks that I can even tell don't have a clue. So I ask you, is it good practice to be the winner of the losers? It does build one's confidence a bit to have won $650 in fake internet money from a guy who goes by the name of Captain America.

We will have to see how the Schmidts fare tomorrow night. Hopefully we will be $500 richer when we head back to Maple Grove. One thing that I can pretty much guarantee is that I will not be joining the World Series of Poker tour Monday.

*For those of you who think that I am really in trouble, I do know that a flush beats a straight.