Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spazing Out!

I'm about to have a complete spaz attack!!!!!

Gee, that hasn't happened since high school.

I just received confirmation this evening from one of my sisters that they are going to be able to make it up to my place to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. That means the whole entire family is for the very first, ever in my lifetime, oh my golly-gee gosh going to be up to my place all at the same time.


My old house was entirely too small to entertain a few friends, much less my whole family. My sisters each have four kids, one is now married and has my first great-niece and their husbands. I'll have (hopefully if the older kids also come) the potential to have a grand total (including my parents) in my home of eighteen people. AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! It will be like one big giant slumber party lasting the entire weekend (or at least until they get tired of me).

My new house has tons of space and is divided up nicely so that the kids can stay up late without disturbing we old foggies too much. We have tons of new furniture to keep everyone comfortable and my mom has already agreed to bring up her little combo TV so that the guys can have the big TV in the family room to satisfy their sports attacks while we girls go pile on my big huge bed and set up her little telly for girlie movies (no not that kind, Gary).

Then, of course, there will be the food. I'm no gourmet chef but can put together an edible feast. We'll eat well all weekend.

I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Raising the Rafters

Ah, Wednesdays are back!

We started back to choir again this evening. Typically our church shuts down for the month of July since so many people are out on vacation this time of the year. Classes are not in session, youth activities are out the window (there's camps though), and choir takes a well-deserved hiatus...more like a breather.

That's a singer's joke.

The hiatus starts out well and good. We're usually gone that first Sunday in July anyway because of Indy Day and vacation week. Second Sunday I'm enjoying the view from the pew. By the third Sunday I'm thinking the break was good, but I'm ready to sing again. We're not even going to talk about what I'm like by the fourth Sunday. Needless to say they have to hog-tie me to a pew to keep me from raiding the choir loft and singing solo.

It gets pretty ugly for a musician who can't make some music.

So the big opening practice for August is soooooo great (a bit early this year, but who's complaining?). The lungs are ready and willing and the vocal cords feel like they've got webbing growing on them, but by the second song we're belting out the choruses and raising the rafters.

I'm a soprano, can't you tell?

Most of my family has confirmed they're visiting for Thanksgiving this year. I'm hoping I can convince them to all hang around at least until after church on Sunday. It would make me so proud to take up a couple of pews and show off my entire clan. Then we can ALL belt it out together and become our own little family choir.

Just hope we don't scare the pastor away.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Enjoying The Journey

I've been sporting a bit of a headache the last few days, so we decided to take it easy this evening and watched a bit of TV. There was a show on TLC about Nanny Jenny, or some such or other. It made my headache worse.

The show surrounds a professional nanny coming into people's homes who have completely out-of-control children. The nanny has a few days to a week to begin the process of re-training the parents and setting some boundaries for the children. Yes, re-training the parents is the focus. Holy cow!

When my son was very little, I knew I needed to teach him proper behavior and expectations as young as possible. I figured he should learn them early before the cost to both him and me grew too great and he became an out-of-control teenager. I'm so glad I chose to invest in his future at that age.

During the two to three year old stage, I went through weeks at a time when he would test my patience and push as hard as he could. I'd come home from work and it would start immediately and would go into bedtime. Those weeks were so awful for me because I felt like the Wicked Witch from Hell, but I kept telling myself we'd eventually get through it. Kept telling myself that I was doing both him and myself a huge favor in the long run.

Now I look back on that past investment and already see enormous rewards and gains for my son. See, everything I did back then - yes, it helped me eventually, but in reality it was all for his benefit and to contribute enormously to his future.

Now I do admit, my son has been a good kid for most of his years. He's been pretty easy-going in most cases, but I wonder from time-to-time what he'd have become if I hadn't made those difficult decisions to discipline him when younger. He's got an incredibly bright future ahead of him. He'll be sixteen in less than two months. No mother could be more proud of where he's at right now.

Now I'm just along for the ride, enjoying the journey while it lasts. Git along, little doggie!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Back To School Shopping

Well, it's that time of year again. We set aside time today to do my son's back to school clothes shopping. He did good!

Over the last couple of years, he's gotten into a style that is...well NO style. All he would wear was T-shirts and jeans. At least they were nice T-shirts and not a bunch of weird sayings and wicked-looking screen prints. But it just wasn't doing a whole lot for him.

So this year I set aside his allotment and told him he could buy anything he wanted as long as it wasn't T-shirts and jeans. Then I added a caveat that everything he chose had to obtain my seal of approval.

Maybe I've been watching too much "What Not To Wear" shows on TLC.

But anyway, we discussed some ideas the last few weeks and I gave him some guidelines about what would look good on his frame. He's got a very broad chest, no hips, and long skinny legs. It's been a real battle to dress him all his life.

He decided on a variety of cargo pants to compliment the jeans he already owns. Then he got this denim shirt and cuffed up the long sleeves like a jacket over a tee. It looked so awesome on him! He even found this great olive flack jacket that looks soooo cool with the cargoes. There's a variety of colored button shirts he can either wear alone or with a tee. We even found this black Calvin Klein shirt (on sale!!!) that is tailored and fits him like a glove.

Tomorrow we're going to try out a black vest that he wanted really bad but they didn't have his size at the east store. They called the west store and they're holding it for us to stop by tomorrow after church. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it looks on him tomorrow.

And miracle of miracles, he even picked out a polo shirt that he really liked. I used to dress him in cute polos when he was younger. He'd gone through a period where he refused to wear any, so I stopped buying them. It's really good to see him trying a new (old) style again, especially when he looks so nice in them.

Maybe someday I'll find a style again too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Movie Night

It's storming outside once again. I'm sick of rain, but if we didn't get it I'd be sick of the heat and dry air too. Humanity - we're so fickle.

Getting onto subject now, we just had our Friday night pizza and a movie night. Since the weather was rather damp, we decided to stay in and watch a movie. Plus I had two DVD's I'd rented last weekend that I hadn't had a chance to watch. I hate wasting money.

We watched both. Well actually I watched both, the first being a little unsure of some of the content. My son watched the other with me. Both of these movies I'd wanted to see while in theatres but like so many other things, they were there today gone tomorrow.

Enough with the cliches.

So first off I watched "The Painted Veil". What a beautiful story of love and redemption. How I wished I'd taken time to go to the theatre to see the incredible scenery of interior China on the big screen.

A cholera epidemic in the interior brings a struggling British couple to a remote village to try to help them stem the tide. He's a doctor, rather a scientist studying infectious diseases with no clinical experience. He gets initiated terribly quick. Ew! She's a spoiled socialite who married him on a whim to get as far away from her mother as possible. The heartache. The pain. Can they come together after all the hurt they've caused each other? Will it be too late? Truly a beautiful portrait.

The second movie we watched TOGETHER was "The Illusionist". Why are these movies so easy to figure out? Oh well, I liked it anyway. That locket was so cool! I never thought of Edward Norton as handsome or engaging (he always plays dastardly men so well), but he did a wonderful job portraying his loss. I felt it right there. Very unique story line, even though "The Prestige" got all the publicity at the time they were in theatres. Figured that one out before the end too. My son hates it when I do that.

Anyway, great movie all around. A little creepy. A lot engaging. I love that guy who plays Prince Leopold (Count Adamar from "A Knight's Tale"), with his droopy eyelid and his irritating voice. You hate him right up until the last. Well, you can't blame a girl for hating a guy who hits her, can you?

Girls - we tend to be fickle too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

DC Excursion

My mom and dad are in Washington D.C. this week. It makes me think of my trip there in 2003.

Once again, I was there to work at that time. Took my mom and my son with me for an educational adventure. They played while I worked my tail off in meetings all day. The last day I finally got to join them in the later afternoon when our conferences ended.

They'd gone to the Smithsonian that day and we eventually met up near the castle. Then we walked. And we walked. Did I mention we walked? Oh, but we saw some incredible sights! My feet were sore, but my heart was full.

Seeing all that history gave me such an appreciation for what our forefathers endured to make this country a nation - the most powerful nation on earth.

There's nothing like visiting the hallowed halls of the Capitol Building, sitting on the steps at the Supreme Court, then standing at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. It is all too much to take in in one mere afternoon. I'm just glad my family was able to enjoy more of it.

Too bad the National Archives were closed for some reason that day. Someday I hope to return and actually vacation there and see the documents that began our history.

Until that time, I'll just have to look upon the pictures we took in my brief moments around town.

Monday, July 21, 2008

At A Crossroads

I feel at a bit of a crossroads.

My outside job is very demanding right now. We're trying to bring on something totally new to a company that is more like a lumbering bear, pretty set in it's ways. Expectations are high and support is low. They don't understand our bird and we're trying to operate within a tightly confined box. Neither one of us understand the other.

It isn't working for me.

The people I work directly with are great. We're like a little family and have stayed together for almost ten years. We have our highs and our lows, our frustrations and joys, but we all stick together and make things happen because we generally recognize the strengths that each of us bring to the table. That's what has kept me with them for so long.

For the past couple of weeks I've come home drained. Not in a good way. I love being innovative, throwing out ideas, and finding the nuggets of gold. I'm usually a very optimistic person and can work with most anything I'm given. At least as long as I'm given something to hold onto. At least as long as I'm given the tools I need to succeed. At least as long as I have the training I need and the communication to get things done.

This drained feeling has left me so empty. I cannot seem to find the time to get much real writing done. Heck, I went an entire four days without blogging a couple of weeks ago. THAT, my friends, is bad! Writing usually inspires me. I can stay up late writing and even though I feel tired the next day, I can't wait to get back at it again that evening.

When writing becomes a chore, something in my life is wrong. When I can't bounce out of bed in the morning, looking forward to going to work, something in my life is wrong. I'm feeling very strangled right now and know myself well enough to know it just won't work for me.

I'll give it a little more time. Starting something from scratch is pretty challenging, but I've always lived for challenges before this. They've usually energized me. I hate even considering giving up, but maybe it is time for at least looking into some other options. Maybe checking into something a little closer to home (ya think?). I hate to consider leaving my co-workers, but they'll still be my friends if I have to leave.

As far as my writing, my son, and my life (they're all inter-connected for me) are concerned, it just might be the most important thing I could do for the long-term.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dark Knight Review

Oh my gosh! We just got back home from seeing "The Dark Knight" at the theatre. Totally engrossing. Completely creepy and psychotic. I loved it!

Batman shows his true colors all throughout this movie. When he's good, he's really good. When he's bad, he's even better.

You'll understand when you see the movie.

No longer the tortured soul, Batman understands exactly what he's doing and why. There's the power. There's the Prestige (hat tip to another Christian Bale movie). Who can be trusted? Who can't? There's death and destruction everywhere. One particularly surprising.

Not so much that the death occured - it was to be expected. No, more that they killed the character off too quickly. That was the only truly unexpected moment in the whole movie. Chris and John Nolan have me teetering on the edge, wondering who the next villain will be.

I have my hunch.

It is sad that Heath Ledger has left this world. He made one heck of a Joker - a twisted, soul-less, evil character with no remorse or mercy. A complete psychopath of psychopaths. You want to see inside the mind of a terrorist? This is about as close as you can get. With this movie, Heath Ledger left his mark on our lives - a fitting end to the most incredible actor of our time. The Joker should never be resurrected. No one else could do him justice - RIP.

Bruce Wayne even shows himself heroic in a snap of an instant. Too bad for that Lamborghini! How he talks his way out of it is quite funny. I'll leave it at that.

The next movie will be quite interesting. Everything about this movie will be alot to surpass in #3 - how in the world will they do it? I think bringing back the humanness of Bruce Wayne and how he carries on will be key.

The next movie should open with the dedication party of the new main wing of Wayne Manor. Let them continue working on the east wing, just get Bruce moved back in. That penthouse is not where he belongs. We need the Batcave. It's an important nuance to the story, to the Batman persona. Then there's an important meeting that needs to take place at that opening party. We'll see if the Nolan brothers take it where it needs to go.

If only they'd let me be a silent party to the writing of the screenplay.

Friday, July 18, 2008

He's Home!

My little, baby boy is home!

Okay wait, not so little, no longer a baby, young MAN is home. There, that's better.

My son had a great time at International Youth Convention in San Antonio. Some interesting stories too (such as the River Walk - don't ask). He saw someone he knew from another church among all those thousands of teens. There was even someone referenced on the IYC board that I went to college with.

The world is a small place indeed.

They arrived earlier than expected, just before nine this morning. They weren't supposed to be in until noon. I ran over and picked him up, brought him back to my office where he promptly ate a little bit and then crashed on the floor of an empty office for about four hours. I woke him for a late lunch.

For the afternoon, he sat in that office and read his book that I bought him especially for the trip. I think he read one or two chapters at the beginning of the trip and then got so busy and involved he didn't have time to do anymore reading until he returned today. He's about halfway through it now.

While he was gone, his best bud called a couple of times, so my son called him back moments ago. They're making plans for him to go over to visit this evening. Even though he just got back home. Even though he's waivering on his feet.

I remember the days. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Music Man

I've been doing some creative exploring this week while my son is gone.

My son is incredibly gifted. He has a penchant for art, writing, singing, and keeps a rhythm like nobody's business. When I was young, I wanted to play drums. For years we've talked about getting him into drum and guitar lessons (and piano which I already own, but he'd rather do drums right now). I've been checking out several great places this week.

Of course, I had to look into the biggest music and instrument supplier to all the schools in town. But none of it resonated with me. It felt rather cold and assembly-line'ish, if you get what I mean. More a cookie cutter than a cookie taster. What I did find was an independently owned shop with incredible instructors who absolutely love music. I think I've hit the jackpot.

Only problem is that this place is all the way over on the other side of town. I work all the way over on the other side of town and live all the way over on this side of town. It's a minimum of a thirty to forty minute drive one way. You know what? It doesn't bother me one bit (except the gas right now - ouch!).

My son is the consummate artist, that creative soul who kinda keeps to himself a bit. In order for the music lessons to truly reach him and keep him interested for the long term, he's going to need an instructor who is passionate about music, patient with questions, and will allow exploration at the soul level. That's where it will stick for him. This place seems to have that quality.

Now's the time to dish out the dough. Gosh, creativity hurts sometimes!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Making Time For Friends

I'm feeling all ooey-gooey tonight.

After I left work this evening, I met a couple of friends for dinner. We had a great time for two and ahalf hours. Talked about work, food, family, writing, and offered encouragement to one another. They're a great couple to just let my hair down with. Yes, I know that was grammatically incorrect, but like I said.

When I arrived home, another friend just drove up and wanted to show me some of the things she'd made for her boyfriend's birthday tomorrow. She needed to ensure she wasn't going overboard and discussed last minute plans. We talked about relationships, how hard they can be, but how essential relationships of all sorts are to our well-being. While she was there, another acquaintence popped in real quick to just touch base, see the new house, ask a couple of questions then run to an appointment he'd set up to show a house.

My friend hung out at the house for almost an hour and ahalf before she left. It was a wonderful time to just chat about everything without the kids around and talk frankly with one another. When she got ready to leave, I told her how I felt so blessed this evening and that it was truly amazing to have been bombarded with so many friends in one four hour period.

Instead of feeling tired, I feel rejuvenated. My friends mean the world to me, and I'm always happy to offer encouragement and share tears and loads of laughter.

I think it's time to break in my new house and furniture with a big dinner party!

Monday, July 14, 2008

They've Hit The Road!

Just returned home from taking my son over to the church to leave for International Youth Convention in San Antonio. I think he was pretty excited about it all.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that he'd become the Texas Traveler for his two trips to Dallas already this year and now going back to San Antonio. He's started referring to himself as the Chuck Norris of travel, so in honor of Chuck Norris manliness here's an interesting and absolutely hilarious video link. It's my son's favorite right now.

It was a terribly early morning, but he was chipper and bright-eyed (well, sort of) when he got up before 3:00. I went ahead and planned an early morning hot breakfast to make sure he was well tanked before they left. That meant I got up at 2:45. I feel your sympathy.

Okay, enough of the dramatics. I'm planning to go back to bed soon if my kitties will let me. But I think all this traveling has been really good for him so far. He enjoys having that time away from dear old mom and having a few guys to hang out with. They'll have plenty of free time on the convention schedule, so I hope he uses it wisely. I know I did when I attended IYC!

Closing down for now. Maybe I'll post again later. Nah, probably just wait until tomorrow unless a brilliant realization hits me once again.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Texas Traveler Strikes Again

Normally I don't post on Sundays - it's our family day. But once again my son is leaving on another trip.

He's become the Texas Traveler. Call him Chuck Norris, if you will.

International Youth Convention is being held in San Antonio, a place that I have unfortunately never been yet to visit. They leave tomorrow morning at 4:00, at least they have to be there at 4:00 am. Oh goodie once again.

He's already been to Dallas twice this year and now San Antonio. I think he's looking forward to it. You know, another week of summer without dear old mother breathing down his neck. :-)

That's okay - I hope to get some writing done sometime in the evenings. We'll just have to see what the muse comes up with.

In the meantime, I pray for a great time, safe trip, and to come away with more awesome friendships. Gee, I think parents day this morning has already gotten to me!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Realization

I've struggled with something for years.

What would happen if one of my particular stories was ever published?

This specific story was a cathartic work through painful processes, a rather blatant look at the ugly things in life and the depths to which humanity can sink. I've lived certain elements of it.

Don't get me wrong, the story events are a complete work of fiction. However, there is alot of me interwoven through the feelings, the heartbreaks, the poor choices and decisions, the weight of events thrust unwillingly upon a lost soul. I didn't hold anything back and laid it bare in all its rawness.

Many of my life's events have been what most would call unfair, deeds thrust upon me and done to me, choices made looking through a mud-encrusted windshield called my life. Then when it's all said and done, I'm left to pick up the shattered pieces with a mind in torment, emotions in turmoil, nothing left on which to stand. I've realized a strength I never knew I possessed.

For years now, I've toyed with the possibility that if I ever decided to pursue publishing of this novel I'd use a pseudonym to avoid the backlash that would likely come from many sectors of the Christian community. But I've changed my mind. If it ever does make it into print, I will have it imprinted with my given name.

You see in reading my Bible, I've noticed that God didn't hold anything back in scripture. He allows us to see that Noah was a drunk, Jacob was a poor parent, Judah had sex with his own daugher-in-law whom he thought was a prostitute, Moses was a murder and had an anger-management problem, King David was an adulterer and murderer, it goes on and on and on. And these were people God even used for His purposes!

Therefore if God can use such people and put His name on such a book, I think I can do the same with my little foray into the unpleasantries of living. Maybe then some good will spill out onto others who've also faced life's difficulties.

I'll never know unless I open myself up to the opportunity.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Movie Review - Get Smart

Once again it is movie review time!

We just arrived home from seeing "Get Smart", the recent release with Steve Carrell (sp?) and Anne Hathaway. I haven't laughed so hard in a movie in a VERY long time.

A fellow co-worker of mine told me he'd just seen it and laughed his head off. He also mentioned he remembered the TV show, to which I responded, "what TV show?" Okay, he's a bit older than I am.

Agent 86 and Agent 99 make a great team. Their antics and chemistry just burst off the screen. It's obvious the two had a fantastic time making this movie.

They're sent to Russia to infiltrate and dismantle a terrorist organization who've gotten their hands on a few nuclear bomb components. On the flight over, the agents portray husband and wife. Agent 86 ends up announcing that he has to go "squeeze his lemon" and takes off for the restroom. This is the most hilarious scene in the entire movie (in my humble opinion). Painful maybe, but hilarious.

They think they're successful, only to have Agent 86 apprehended and imprisoned, and Agent 99 thinks she's been betrayed. It isn't quite what you think though.

There's the whole symphony scene, airplane scene, and the flaming car flying down the train tracks fighting over the "football" to avoid the nuclear explosion of Los Angeles. For those who may be a little averse to a man-on-man moment, you've been warned. But it isn't gratuitous, however that's probably the reason it received a PG-13 rating. Just a little violence and language provide the other cautions, but overall this was a romping good time.

Of course, my son is already planning for me to buy it for him. Hmmm, I think it's about time for the teen to get a job.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Guilty Pleasure

Tuesday nights are my guilty pleasure.

I love to watch Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" series!

Yes, I know, rather odd for a woman to watch ships with freezing cold sailors battling the worst of elements and the greatest of odds to catch some smelly old fish and crab in the Bering Sea. I think it is the teamwork concept. Plus I love to see the greenhorns, the newest members on the ships, test their sea legs. It's kinda like a fish-out-of-water moment.

Okay, that was a bad joke.

But seriously, about that teamwork concept - every single one of those guys have to work together, watch out for each other, and bring in the opis and kings during the crab seasons so they all benefit and get a paycheck and make it back to harbor safely. Their very lives are dependant on each person on the boat. One brief moment and death could await them. I guess that's where the name comes from.

It's especially precarious during opi season in the depths of the winter months. Besides the fishing, they also have to spend time at various intervals smashing the ice off the boat to keep the weight from sinking them. Then there's the endless days on end that they just work, work, work without a moment's rest or sleep until all the strings of pots are back on board or reset for another catch.

It's kinda weird, but the guys become important to you. There they are risking life and limb doing something they love (for some strange reason), in the worst of conditions to bring some seafood delicacies to our tables. They're living life to the fullest every single day. Wow!

The last episode of the season is quickly approaching. That's when they show some of the boats coming into shore with their families waiting to welcome them home after being away at sea all those months. Very touching seeing those old salts in a more human light.

Of course, I always wonder how bad they smell after being at sea without a bath for months on end. Hey, I'm a girl - we wonder about those things!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Modern Teen Life

My son worked with my nephew over the weekend to set up his own personal information page. Not sure how to feel about it yet.

I'm a bit protective of him and just want to ensure that he isn't exposed to too many inappropriate things unnecessarily. He'll have plenty of that in college.

In order to set up this page he also needed an email address. I set up his sub-account under my email just a few moments ago.

Letting go is hard sometimes. Yes, it is important to let our kids stretch their wings, but it is also my responsibility as his parent to ensure he stays safe and doesn't go places he shouldn't.

So I've enabled all the parental controls humanly and technologically possible. Sometimes it is a good thing to be a control-freak.

My feeling is that if he proves himself responsible then I'll eventually ease up. Maybe when he's thirty. If he doesn't prove himself responsible then we'll just get rid of the page and the email. As a parent I demand obedience. I'm a stinker that way.

Hey, I take this parenting thing seriously. Someday I'll have to answer to God about how I did with what I was given. This is one area in which I plan to excel if at all possible.

Because no one else will be able to answer for me. :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fireworks Extravaganza Review

Hooray and Happy Independence Day!

Last night we had a great time blowing up the sky. I like to buy the big night stuff - yes, my yearly weakness. However, it does seem like each year there's always a couple of items I purchase that disappoint me and vow never to waste my money on that particular one again.

Everything I bought this year I absolutely loved! And I didn't spend my usual fortune to do it.

There were a couple of pieces I bought again that seem to be good crowd pleasers every year, and they aren't real expensive. These would be "Above the Law" and "Perpetual Motion".

A couple of fountains we bought just blew us away. "Behemoth" is kinda pricey for a fountain ($13) but I highly recommend this one. It reminds me of the Energizer Bunny - it keeps going, and going, and get the drift. It is really tall too, so all the crackling crystalizing sparkling showers go higher than any other fountain I've ever seen. TRULY a masterpiece of fountains.

Then there was a surprisingly small, reasonably priced skyward item that was fantastic - "Crackling Color Palm". It had fountain-like effects with several exploding shots with following trails of silver and gold. Quite spectacular!

My all-time favorite is still "One Bad Mother". I just love the continual bursts and crackling plumes of little dancing amoebas filling the sky. We usually call them something else, but I'll keep this post "G"-rated for now.

We didn't go quite as long as usual, since it was my sister's year to go to her in-laws, but we had a good time with cousins, my aunt and uncle, parents, and all the next generation kids. I think we just may have talked them into coming to our usual bash we'll have again next year.

Until then, celebrate our freedom until we can once again blow up the sky next year!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Waiting Game

We bought our fireworks this evening. Now the waiting game begins.

When my son was younger I used to spend some money on the cute little fireworks like snappers, snakes, lady fingers, little tanks, etc. Now I don't bother. It's all the big stuff, baby.

I love those 500 gram ones. The tall ones pack a real wallop and go on for long enough that I get to have time to light it, run away, and still get to sit down and enjoy it for a little bit. Got a 36 shot this year. Hee-hee-hee! Let's see what that baby can do, eh?

My son actually spent less but I think he ended up with more. He was a little wiser with his purchases this year.

I spent less this year too, but not so much because I wanted to. After buying the new house, furnishing and decorating (my decor was out of date and didn't really match the look of the new house) my savings looks a little peaked. Oh well - there's always next year.

Three days and counting. I'll let you know how it all turns out.