Dug the Caterpillar

Posted on 12/31/2011 08:31:00 AM
Discussion at this morning's breakfast table.  Caterpillar talking while looking out window:

"I don't know if that house across the street believes in Santa because they don't have lights out.  I don't know if they believe in any holi- SQUIRRRRRRREEEEEEL!!!!

My child is officially a character in a Pixar movie.



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As Seen On TV

Posted on 12/30/2011 07:29:00 AM
Yes, I bought into the madness that is Pillow Pets many months ago.  I could let myself feel ashamed for this, but consider:
  • Pillow Pets do not require batteries
  • Pillow Pets do not require assembly
  • Pillow Pets do not make noise
  • Pillow Pets do not have any moving parts
  • Pillow Pets have been used more than most other presents
  • Pillow Pets are washable
  • Pillow Pets generally stay on their beds and do not require me to pick them up off the floor
  • Pillow Pets do not mock me

And, perhaps mostly because of that last fact, I went ahead and purchased them each an identical one of the new, small sized pillow pets to go with their existing animals.  I can't say they were met with exactly the same enthusiasm, but they are still pretty loved... and they still don't mock me.   





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Hooked on an 8 Second Ride

Posted on 12/29/2011 07:34:00 AM
The Children (all three of them) have devised a new game to play together. 

Bucking bronco:



Clearly, one of them has a bigger future in bronc riding than the other.

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I Can Haz Prezent?

Posted on 12/29/2011 06:42:00 AM
There wasn't a present under our tree this year that didn't look like one of these two.  Kitties enjoy Christmas every bit as much as children do.  They just don't always know which present is supposed to be for them.




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Hedging Her Bets

Posted on 12/28/2011 06:23:00 AM
I was running down to the ragged end in the Santa's Little Helper department this year and threw gifts into whatever boxes were available in the house; some of them were these boxes from the outdoor lights we acquired earlier this December.  (Aside: solar-powered outdoor Christmas lights?  Greatest invention since sliced bread... or internet porn.) 

The Caterpillar unwrapped this box with her name on it and I happened to look down as she threw the wrapping paper aside and exclaimed, "Wow.  I wasn't expecting LIGHTS!" and then held them up for me to take a picture. (There was actually a toy of some sort in that box.)


The inflection in her voice was tempered so that there were exactly two possible interpretations of that sentence:  

1) Wow, I wasn't expecting such a sucky gift but I'm gonna go ahead and sound excited to be polite and possibly get more gifts in the future
  
or

2) Wow, I wasn't expecting lights... and they're awesome!

Either way, I love how her mind works.

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Christmas Craftiness

Posted on 12/27/2011 08:49:00 AM
Because my house pretty much still looks like this:

Honk if you see the cat.  It's like a Where's Waldo game.

I'm trying to take a little time off from the computer.  It's been a busy year and December kind of caught me off guard this time around.  I managed to pull Christmas together with all the other demands on our time this year, but in mostly a half-assed way.  Let's just say that I'm feeling rather pleased with myself that I didn't have to come up with some lie where Santa had the flu and shows up a month later when it's way more convenient for me. (Though that's an interesting lie and there's already been a TV show about it... so I think I could pull it off if necessary. I'll be keeping that one in my back pocket.)  All I  want for Christmas is my balance back.

I know it seems counter-intuitive, and it probably is counterproductive, but when I'm crazy torn in a hundred directions, I tend to try and keep the kids busy doing weird little crafts so they don't notice that all I'm really doing is trying to get them out of my hair.  Since so many people were appreciative of my posting of the ornament craft with plenty of time to find acrylic flow release (hint: you don't actually need that stuff) and glass craft ornaments (hint: you can find plastic if you think kids will put their thumbs through each one and you haven't scheduled in the time for the emergency room visit) before Christmas -- and then sent me emails with the subject line, "You SUCK" -- I'm sure these following ideas, coming two days after Christmas, will be even more popular.

Ways to get your children out of your hair around Christmas

Ask them to wrap presents:


You're gonna need to make sure you've got at least eleventy-seven extra rolls of tape and then hold your composure when you find they've individually taped all their toes as well.  But this is an awesome way to keep them busy for an hour with very little supervision.

Have them make Santa napkin holders:


These make excellent busy work when you're stuck in a Christmas church music program rehearsal that's supposed to last forty-five minutes and instead goes for three hours on Christmas Eve.  They also make excellent hostess gifts for the people who invited you to Christmas Eve dinner along with thirty of your closest friends. 

Cook up some magical reindeer food for Santa's team:


This keeps them busy for at least an hour and has the added bonus and making a huge mess out of your kitchen, but you don't care because you haven't cleaned your kitchen since November, so have at it.  

It makes an especially large mess if you got all creative and purchased edible silver cake grafitti spray paint to create an added luster.  But you can also huff the fumes if you need a bit of an escape from the day.  Quick tip: Some recipes add glitter, which I suppose you could do and make sure parents know that their children can't eat it, but then you can't reuse leftover oats and make children eat them for breakfast the next day. Reindeer indeed.

You can make a ton of these and give as gifts to the kids at the dinner party you're attending on Christmas Eve.  Then when people say how creative you are and what a great mom you must be because you spent so much time with your kids, you can just smile bashfully and forget to mention that you stole the idea off the interweb.  

Don't forget to actually let them feed Santa's reindeer with it that night.



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Daddy Claus

Posted on 12/23/2011 07:52:00 AM
In our old church, The KingofHearts had a long-standing job for many years of playing Santa at the church Christmas party.  It all started shortly after we got married and he was asked to do it.  We didn't really know anyone in the ward, but we helped out in the nursery and he knew all the kids' names.  He was really great at it and most of the kids walked away from sitting on his lap impressed that he knew them and something about them.  It impressed their parents too, but probably in a creepy, shouldn't-you-be-staying-one-hundred-feet-away-from-any-school-or-playground sort of way and not necessarily in the Spirit-of-Christmas kinda way in which it was intended.

Now that we go to NewChurch, he hasn't really been asked to fill the roll because they tend to cast it as a "find the fattest guy in the congregation" kinda role, rather than "find a guy who might be good talking to kids."

But OldChurch still remembers The KingofHearts, so they called him up this year and a) invited us to their Christmas party so b) he could play Santa. It was actually kind of fun because OldChurch is the melding of two congregations (one we used to attend and the other just south of us geographically) and there were a lot of kids who didn't know him at all.  Which means even the kids who used to know him hadn't seen him in awhile so most didn't recognize him and weren't quite sure if this dude was the really real Santa or not.

There appeared to be a lack of personal space inherent in the queue.

Of course, The Dormouse was there to dash everyone's hopes to the ground. 

"Hi Dad."  "I'm Santa."  "Right. Hi Dad." "You know what? Don't annoy Santa."

The Caterpillar didn't care and was just happy to be included. We know there's no chance they won't recognize Daddy, so we gave them the Daddy's helping Santa so let's not ruin the fun for the other kids schtick.

"Can you tell Santa I want a toy puppy?"
"I love you DaddyClaus."
Bringing Daddy Claus cookies because he missed dessert.

Santa made The Bishop sit on his lap and then gave him a present he wasn't expecting.

I love this picture because it's one of the few times I've seen this man laugh.

But my favorite part was sitting off to the side of the stage and watching the little kids lose all composure.  I knew if I waited long enough, I'd have a photo worthy of a bad santa photo contest.

This might be my favorite holiday memory ever.

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Creepy, Sharp-Teethed Elves

Posted on 12/23/2011 07:16:00 AM

But I kinda love them.

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Cold

Posted on 12/21/2011 03:26:00 PM
Despite the fact that we had snow here on October 29th (OCTOBER TWENTY-NINTH, PEOPLE) it hasn't really been that cold yet this winter.  December has been mostly mild with some nice days here and there.  I realize now that I've typed that out loud, Mother Nature will hear it and hit us with some kind of crazy weather event, like a whirlpool in front of the Smithsonian metro stop or a volcano erupting in a smoke cloud that looks like an angry Ewok over the Natural History Museum, just to teach me to control my thoughts.  So to counteract that misstep and bring the balance back to zero, here are some photos of cold and dead stuff.




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Ornamentally Yours

Posted on 12/20/2011 08:47:00 AM In:
I taught about forty kids at our church to make these hand-painted Christmas ornaments as a craft during our ward Christmas party.  Because they needed something to keep them busy, because it was super easy and because I am a SUCKAH!  (But mostly the past about being a suckah!)


In other news, I finally got around to getting the Shortlings their Christmas ornaments for this year.  They are completely adorable, if I do say so myself (not that I had anything to do with the production of them) and made from wooden thread spools, so points for finding ornaments made from unusual materials.  I love finding the perfect Christmas ornament each year, but it's way more fun when the person I purchase them from is as excited to make them as I am to buy them.  Etsy has made something that I abhor - Christmas shopping - actually fun because I tend to have a couple of conversations about the purpose of the items with the shop owner and more often than not have them custom made for the girls.  You should totally check out Cindekins' Etsy shop, because she was awesome to work with, gave me a ton of choices and even sent pictures of possible fabrics she could use.  I would really like a whole tree full of these.

The Caterpillar's
The Dormouse's


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Scenic Scene

Posted on 12/19/2011 08:29:00 AM In:
We drive past this tree five or six times a year and I have never passed it without thinking of The Shawshank Redemption.


Andy: Red. If you ever get out of here, do me a favor.

Red: Sure, Andy. Anything.

Andy: There's a big hayfield up near Buxton. You know where Buxton is?

Red: Well, there's... there's a lot of hayfields up there.

Andy: One in particular. It's got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It's like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It's where I asked my wife to marry me. We went there for a picnic and made love under that oak and I asked and she said yes. Promise me, Red. If you ever get out... find that spot. At the base of that wall, you'll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. Piece of black, volcanic glass. There's something buried under it I want you to have.


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Passed Out Under the Christmas Tree

Posted on 12/18/2011 08:06:00 AM

I'm not sure what they appreciate more, the fact that there's an endless supply of entertaining toys, a nice place to nap, or a giant water bowl they don't have to go downstairs to drink from.  Either way, kitties are in full agreement that Christmas trees are awesome.



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How to Pick Out a Christmas Tree

Posted on 12/17/2011 07:20:00 PM In:
In sixteen easy steps.

Step 1.  Drive to another state. Because clearly, there are no acceptable trees in the state in which you live.  Why bother looking?

Step 2. Walk around in forest for approximately an hour, scrutinizing each and every available tree.

Step 3.  Stop in thicket to allow children to pee on the ground because after each of the nine times you asked them if they needed to go to the bathroom when you were near civilization, they said, "No."


Step 4. Walk around some more.

Step 5.  Lament the fact that the farm owners haven't tended to the Christmas tree section much this year and it is very overgrown.


Step 6. Remember that you are only paying $25 for any tree you pick and continue looking.

Step 7.  Lament the fact that you don't have cathedral ceilings in your house.


Step 8. Consider buying a tree and leaving it at a friend's house because she has space.

Step 9. Settle on a tree.  It's too big, but at least you don't need a flatbed trailer to get it home. 

Step 10. Pose in front of tree before it's been slaughtered.


Step 11. Leave the tree-cutting-down duties to husband, who really, really enjoys lying on the ground.  Watch him cut.... 


and cut... 


and curse... 



and cut.


Step 12. Lose interest in tree and instead focus on how you're gonna get this nest you found back to the birds.


Step 13. Six years later, when tree finally comes down, yell "Tiiiiiimbeeeerrrr!"  Admire stump.


Step 14. Drag tree back to cart, which you've left a half mile away.


Step 15. Bag tree for travel. Bring a friend to help.


Step 16.  Bring home and decorate.  Enjoy.



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Debut

Posted on 12/15/2011 05:26:00 PM
Alternate title:  I May Have Created a Monster

Part of my job requires the planning and hosting of a yearly convention/conference.  Each year, the production value of the conference - especially the opening session and awards ceremony - goes up and we somehow manage to do it with the same or less money by getting musicians and artists to donate their time and performances.  This year, a member of the Board came up with this idea to have a flash mob at the conference.  We kind of laughed it off but this was really something the Conference Chair wanted so we eventually acquiesced.  We already had a performing group on the hook to write a song so maybe they could be involved, we thought.  Then somewhere in the planning stages it went something like this via conference call one day:

Co-worker #1: "Meh. I've seen that flash-mob-thing so many times and it never works.  I'd really recommend that you scrap that idea."

Co-worker #3:  "Well, this Board member really wants this to happen."

Co-worker #1:  "Honestly, I'd recommend against. I've seen it tried dozens of times.  No one ever participates and it always falls flat."

Co-worker #2: "Yeah, but this is a room full of musicians.  You can always count on them to join in."

Co-worker #1: "Well, could it be more of a performance and then we somehow let people know they can participate?  That'd be safer."

Co-worker #3: "What we really need is to have a couple of people run up on stage from the audience and start dancing.  Then some people in the audience would start doing the moves too."

Co-worker #4: "It'd be cute if there was a kid doing it too."

Co-worker #2: "Hey. Alice's family sometimes comes to the conference, maybe her older daughter could run up on-stage and lead the room in the choreography."

Me:  *looking up from doodling monsters with dozens of eyes on a notepad* "Huhwhat?"

Co-worker #1:  "But can we count on a little kid not to get stage fright and freeze up there?"

Co-workers #2, #3 and #4:  "Uh... you don't know this kid, do you?"

Me:  "Wait, what??"

And that's how The Dormouse ended up as the star of the show that day, dancing in front of and teaching choreography to a room of an estimated eight-hundred people.

When I got home after the conference call and asked her if she'd like to do it, I already knew the answer.  She barely let me get the question mark on my sentence before she yelled, "YES!" in my ear. 

The adult singers wrote the song and sent me an .mp3 with some suggested choreography, but The Dormouse took her job quite seriously and created her own steps, explaining that they made more sense with the music.  The singers didn't care one way or another so The Dormouse got her way. 

When the lights went out, I had a brief moment of concern that she'd look out over the audience once she got on stage and freeze, but then I remembered that there is not one ounce of vergΓΌenza in that child's entire body.  She got through the whole thing without a moment's hesitation and managed to get herself invited to perform with the singers at the other performances they did during the conference to boot.  It was a great experience for her and I have never seen her more puffed-up or self-assured.

 
 
 

One of the audience members walked up to the stage and gave her a flower as she took her bow.  I kind of wish I'd saved it and pressed it or something, but it got lost somewhere in the hubbub that day.  When I saw this photo from the conference, I realized this shot was better than any flower.

 

Edited to add: OK - finally have the video rendered and converted to some sort of usable format.  Full disclosure, the sound and lighting here is awful.  It really did sound and look more professional in the room, but video taping isn't our first priority at these things.  My first priority was running around the back of the room like a crazy person to make sure she got onstage at the appropriate time.  Let's just say I'm glad there's not a video of that.

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We Need a Little Christmas

Posted on 12/13/2011 02:47:00 PM In:
December hates me. 

Last year in December, my furnace stopped furnacing, my hot water heater stopped heating and my car's radiator stopped radiating... all between Thanksgiving and the first week of December.  Oh and that person who lives in my house and usually fixes these things?  He was having his head operated on during that time and wasn't really able to bend over... or get off the couch... or hold a coherent conversation (gotta get me some of those drugs).  OK - he was actually a lot of help.  He told me what to do and I did it. Which worked out, I guess because we eventually fixed all those things but it was kind of a pain in the ass.

In fact for many years now, December has bit the Big One so badly that we've been calling it Sucktember for almost a decade.  

This December, that one-year-and-twelve-day-old hot water heater also decided to stop working - exactly twelve days after the warranty ended.  And the internet stopped coming to our house that same day, which would have been super helpful in trying to figure out whether or not we could get a replacement hot water heater covered by the warranty and/or research buying a new one.  In the end, we bought a tankless hot water heater and installed it before the old one flooded the basement.  Which was funny because that same night it rained so hard the basement flooded anyway.  Not so much funny ha ha, just funny sad.

Anyway, the whole Christmas season isn't ringing itself in to happy warm thoughts in my house, but I am grateful that my husband doesn't also have a giant hole in his head this year, so I think Sucktember is maybe improving in small increments each year.  

This week, I took the teenage girls I work with at church to the LDS Temple for some forced fun holiday festivities.  And more to convince myself more than anyone that the holiday season is a good thing, I took about a thousand photos with my camera phone.  

I'm continually amazed by the quality of photos from a camera phone.  Who'd have thought when I was running around with my mother's old Brownie Hawkeye wasting rolls and rolls of black and white film that you'd be able to get this kind of quality photograph from something that fits inside your pocket?

It's a Christmas miracle.






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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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