Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Caught in the act - A Photo Album

We've been busy.
It's that time of year, after all.

And we weren't the only ones.
I caught Santa.
On film.

So since there is not much time left in the year, I am going to go hang with my peeps.
You will have to just catch up with our festivities
the old fashioned way...

Taken just five seconds before Jonah throws the glass ornament. 
It does not survive.

Trying to focus on Christmas Present.

Dancing girls

 and angels

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy...

 Silent night, holy night

 "Well, um, one million thousand dollars
is a tall order, Ellie.  I'll see what I can do."

 A whispered wish...

 And the bravest little elf at the whole North Pole.

 Christmas Eve snuggles


 and friends.

 New Christmas Eve jammies with matching pjs for dollies.

 Christmas morning and happy girls

 Oooooooo!  I don't know what it is, but I love it!

The rare sighting of teen-icus lego-tium.

 And His name shall be called Wonderful.

 A beautiful Christmas dinner, by Guy of course.

 And a lovely anniversary dinner a few days later.

 Our celebration dinner was watched over
by the Italian Patron Saint of Watermelon.

 Such a busy few weeks, we are all tuckered out.

Sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot Snowman

What do you do 
when you find yourself with a houseful of kids, a promise of a treat, and nothing to offer?

You massacre a snowman.  At least, you pretend to.  My kids call our new concoction "Hot Snowman" or "Melted Snowman".  Here's how to kill him:

For each person you will need:

1 1/2 c milk
1/4- 1/3 c white chocolate chips
several drops of peppermint extract (a candy cane will work, too, and makes a fun stirring stick) 
1/8 tsp cinnamon
a dash of salt

Here are the very complex and intricate directions.  Be sure to follow them to the letter, like, precisely, or you will completely ruin it.  Focus, people...

1. Dump everything together.
2. Make it hot somehow.
3. Serve it. 

Yum-o.  Seriously.  
This stuff rocks around the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do Over

Last night we went to advent again at Kathy and Bishop's.  It made me long, yet again, for traditions.  For family.  For tender moments with my children.  For peace.  

There hasn't been much of that around here lately.  The squabbling has hit fever pitch.  The girls are shrill.  The boy, you know, that one, has been an obnox-i-teen on roids.  Even the baby has been "on one"; he has ricocheted into the hitting phase, bonking and head-butting phase and the "steal eggs from the fridge and run away" phase -all at once (well, that last one is kinda' adorable). And I am not doing much better.  My resolution to go a whole week without barking at Ethan lasted... count 'em... 18 hours.  Oh, and I hurt my hubby's feelings today.  I was in rare form.

Buy I really wanted to catch the Christmas spirit.  You know, sneak up on it, jump it from behind, stuff it into a body bag and force it to hang out with us.  So we made goodies.  We made wreaths.  We went elf-ing and looking at lights.  I wanted our night to be sweet and happy and cheerful, and sometimes there were ooo's and aaah's at the pretty lights, but mostly there were tears and complaints, teasing and whining.

My eyes filled with tears. Twice.

When we got home I went to run late night shopping errands.  I wandered the store with my list, apathetically looking at the decorations, not wanting to buy anything but coal.


Late last night after advent, I sat up online looking at the lovely wooden advent candle holders and nativities from Germany like the ones Kathy has.  It was like I might be able to capture the magic of that night by setting the scene just right.  I found a place to order the things I needed to make one, and placed my order.

By the time I woke up the next morning, I was having buyers regret.  What was the point of buying all of that the week of Christmas, when it wouldn't even arrive until after?  And I guess I knew that just having the pretty candles and wooden figures wouldn't change what was happening in my house.

I called the company.  I asked if there were any way I could postpone my order until later.  The sweet little lady on the phone said it was no problem.  She kindly put my order on hold.  I hung up the phone with relief. 

You know, this morning when that nice lady let me cancel my order, I felt like I had been given a do-over. 


While I was gone to the store tonight, an elf had come here.  
Someone was thinking of our family. 
It was a kindness that was both unexpected and so very generous.


Maybe tomorrow can be a do-over.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tradition II

For many years now, I have been creating our family Christmas card.  It always includes an original drawing or painting, the blah-blah-boring family update (you know, little Johnny got a tooth, Stevie committed arson...), and of course, several over-the-top, braggy pix of my gorgeous brats.  I got it done early this year, as in "not the day before Christmas".  I have not printed them yet (what's the hurry, right?), so you get a preview, and if you're on my mailing list, this may even save me a stamp! 
It's a tradition.

I have been thinking a lot about traditions.  Kathy (you remember, buff Kathy, workout partner extraordinaire?) has invited our family to a couple of her family's advent celebrations.  She and Hubby Wayne gather their little chickens around them on the four Sundays before Christmas to sing, read stories and eat goodies by fire and candlelight.  Each time we leave, I am recommitted to trying harder to focus on that whole reason-for-the-season thing.  But by Monday, those old demons creep back in, the ones that whisper to me to be stressed out, to stop trying, and to give up on getting my family to get along, treat each other with kindness and start thinking about the needs of others. 

I guess I have made a tradition out of being overwhelmed at Christmas.

I did do things this year to leave that history behind me.  I worked on Christmas projects all year.  I began listening to carols after Thanksgiving.  I even got excited to decorate this time around.  But old habits die hard.  I may have over-reached a little, thinking I could fix my whole broken tannenbaum all in one year. 

But it is a little better, at least.  Baby steps. 
And hey, you already got my Christmas card, so we're good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


For our December wedding
one of our friends gave us a small box of Christmas ornaments to start us on our wedded way.  In that box there were a dozen or so different lovely ornaments... and one rather odd one.  It was a porcelain doll, about 6 inches tall, and pretty heavy for a tree decoration.  It was also a little, um, froofy, if you know what I mean.

  I don't know how it all started, but that first Christmas she began showing up in peculiar places; a pocket, the fridge, the shower.  Whoever found her was next to hide her.  As the years have tumbled by she has appeared in cereal boxes, rolled in underwear, visiting baby Jesus in the nativity, terrorizing the citizens in my little Christmas village, and even hung on a noose (yeah, that would be my dear husband.  It must be a guy thing).  It has become a quest to be first to find her in the Christmas wrappings when they emerge from the garage, and a bit of a competition to come up with new and better places to hide her.  

I found her first this year. 

I actually gave a sinister mua-ha-ha! when I saw her there amongst the baubles.  I slipped her behind my back and headed for Guy's coat pocket.  It wasn't even a full day before she showed up on me, though.  She was kickin' it with the mamas in the studio, but her empty arms gave her away.  As always, I stopped in my tracks and began giggling.  But I left her there, for now.  I have a plan.

I'll wait till Sunday to get my payback. 
I think she is feeling religious.
Wish her luck.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wicked Fun

Addy's belated cake.

It is 1:29 AM.

There are seven 12 year old boys in my living room. 
 Some are asleep.  The rest are in a heated discussion about MMA and football.
I hope to do some sleeping tonight, too,
but I am thinking that might not happen.

Tessa is curled around my foot because she is scared. 
It's her new nightly routine. 
She also happens to be awake. 
Must be in the DNA.

Adam wanted to have a Nightmare Before Christmas theme for his birthday party, a party that had to be scheduled 2 weeks after the fact.  That's what happens when you pop out of a uterus the same week as Thanksgiving (no, Thanksgiving did not pop out of my uterus, too.  Work with me here.  I'm tired!).  We got as far as the invitations (his own design and artwork) and the cake.  
I say "Good enough!". 
Sometimes frozen taquitos and way too much soda have to be 
reasonable substitutes for party favors and carefully planned party games. 

I wish I could be the kind of mom that had goodie bags all made up
with the kid's names on them.  The mom that made the goodie bags
to coordinate with the rest of the party decor. 
Goodie bags make everything better, you know,
even if the party kinda sucks.

It turns out that, instead,
I am the kind of mom that lets 8 boys destroy my living room and watch movies all night. 
 I am also the kind of mom that will give 'em cold cereal instead of homemade pancakes in the mornin'.  I am the chika that hopes I can get the kitchen cleaned up before the parents come to pick up their yawning, crabby-tired boys tomorrow, but I know I am the girl who would rather just shut the kitchen door and sleep in.

Wish me luck. 
No, wish me a nap for tomorrow.

(While you're wishing, can you order up someone
to come clean up my kitchen, please?  Thanks.  I'll leave the door unlocked)

Now you get to play "Where's Waldo" with Jonah.

Art by Adam

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On three, exhale....

Photo of my kiddie sweat shop,  Make 'em earn their keep, that's what I say!


And with that, the sale ended. 
On day two, the people came, and I broke even. 
On day three, more people came, and I saw a profit. 
It was exciting to see people fall in love with a painting or a little piece of pottery.  I felt all warm-fuzzy inside when someone would find a little pot that just had to go home with them, and they carried it around like a long-lost treasure,
and smiled when they brought it to me like it had found them
They went to good homes, my little paint and clay children,
 and that is always a comfort to a mother's heart.

 I learned a lot of things this first time around. 


Thanksgiving weekend:  good for Walmart, bad for boutique.

They who eat the most samples do not necessarily buy the fudge.

8 hours on the hard stairs = sore cheekies.

It's never too late to meet your neighbors.

I really stink at math.

Netflix is a fabulous babysitter,
but 8 hours of it gives 5 year-olds nightmares.

What takes 2 days to set up comes down in about 20 minutes.

I may have learned more, but I'm too tired now to remember what it was.
Thank you to all of you who came and supported my little effort at bringing art into peoples lives.  What we earned will help with Christmas (since our Christmas stash went to a big car repair last week!).  I am also glad I could provide a place for my friends to sell their lovelies.  I walk among giants.

My favorite moments of the day:

Jonah sneaking fudge samples
 (in case you were wondering, 15 month-olds can and do sneak. 
It's the cutest dang thing you ever saw).

A 90 year old woman who fell in love with Jonah.

Him running to hug her when she left.

The woman who came back to buy a painting
because she dreamed about it all night.

The woman who was so sad that a necklace she had fallen in love with (but talked herself out of) yesterday had sold, and being able to say, "That's ok, I will just make you another one just like it."

Ruth doing all of her Christmas shopping while I held gorgeous baby Autumn
 (it was rough, but I toughed it out!).

Telling Ethan he sold both his paintings.

Having several solid hours to visit with friends while we tested the fudge samples
 to make sure they were still good.

Hearing people tell me how lucky I am to be married to a man who can cook (yes, I know I am.  And cooking is just the start of all the good things he does).


We'll have to do this again sometime.  How about next year?

Thanks, again friends! 
And thank you Guy for all your hard work and support. 
My mother always said I was a kite,
and I needed someone who could hold my string,
but I think you are more like my hot air balloon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

No Strings Attached

It was meant to be
breakfast in bed.
It ended up as breakfast after the shower.
No strings attached, just my girls bein' sweet to me.

On Sunday I lost my voice.
On Monday I could whisper.
On Tuesday I could croak.
And though I was feeling much better by Wednesday,
the girls decided to take pity on me, all out of the kindness of their sweet,
and in no way cunning or manipulative little hearts.

You feel it coming, don't you?
Smell that little wiff of  rat?

Come with me now to 15 minutes after I swallow my last chunk of apple.
Ellie tenderly asks, "Mama, do I get a kindness bead for making you breakfast?"

Just when you thought you were doing something right as a parent.
Yes, this week we re-instituted the bead jars.  Beads = kid currency.  Earn one by doing your jobs.  2 kindness beads = 1 bead.  Earn kindness beads by being caught doing a good deed.

I hear Tessa is planning to make me a get well lunch tomorrow.
'Can't wait.


Don't forget to come by tomorrow (or Saturday.  It's OK, I know you're busy.  I'll wait up for ya').
The Studio is so fancy you could eat fudge off of it. 
I made you some really cute snowman earrings.
I'll save 'em for ya'.