About five years ago, I purchased a string of these Jonathan Adler ornament/lights to put in a bowl as a Christmas decoration because they each slowly fade and turn colors, but in no particular order so it doesn't look like most "twinkling" tree lights that flash on and off like a great big neon Eat at Joe's sign. They are hella expensive and hard to find, but each year, I've caught a new sale on Amazon and added one or two strings (each string has just six bulbs on it) to my collection until this year when I finally had enough to to our entire giant tree in them.  They are one of my favorite Christmas decorations.

I love the way they look and they mesmerize me.  Sometimes I just catch myself staring at them for blocks of time that are entirely too embarrassing to mention here.  

One of my other favorite decorations is this little Christmas village, which I'm sure has been featured on this blog before, but The KingofHearts bought these little vintage-ish bubble lights this year and we paired them together.

My mother purchased these, I think, in 19mumblesomething and I've always loved them.  As a kid, I spent hours arranging the village and moving around the little pine cone people. Now my kids do the same.  I was just saying to someone how I'd never seen anything like them before, and then last weekend we were in an antique shop and I looked in a basket to find this:

I called The KoH over to take a look at them and the antique store lady tried to tell me what they were.  "Oh, I know," I said and whipped the picture above that was still on my phone out to show her.  I thought briefly about buying them all and maybe I should have, but mine were all in much better condition.

The girls' ornaments this year continue to reflect what's going on in their lives.  This year, the theme of our lives was leaves.  We were inundated with leaves from our little forest and spent most of the year, mowing, raking, and otherwise removing piles of them.  We even had a group of people from church come by and remove leaves one weekend.  They spent a half a day raking up and carrying bags and bags of them off and just as they were heading off, the wind picked up and dropped every last leaf that was left on a tree over the beautiful clean lawn they had left us. They each drove away from our house with a single tear in their eye, watching a new batch of leaves falling to the ground like snow.  By the next morning, the leaves were shin-deep again.  

But not to worry, because we then had two days of crazy strong winds and I walked outside the morning after to find the wind had arranged our leaves carefully and thoughtfully:

And then I followed the yellow brick road until I found a wizard and asked him to give me a heart.


The girls' ornaments this year are actually leaves. Oak leaves, gilded, made by someone I found on the internet.  They're gorgeous.  The internet still holds few positives for me - but only a few.

This is the Caterpillar's:

And the Dormouse's:

My favorite story of the month is how much fun it has been watching my girls prepare for Christmas presents for each other this year. The shorter of the Shortlings especially, is taking this gift-giving process very seriously and has been working for weeks to hand make presents for The KoH and me.  It's a good thing it's an incredibly sweet gesture or we'd all have become sick of the mechanizations that go on order for these presents to be made and would have lost patience with them long before we did.  We have been banned from entire levels of the house. We have each had to go to at least six different stores for special crafting supplies. We have listened to her argue with fabric and thread.  We have picked up scissors left on the floor after we stepped on them.  And I don't know about my gift, but The KoH's gift was as much a chore for me as it was a project for her.  That's another story for another day.

For her sister, however, the perfect gift had to be purchased in a store.  And that perfect gift consists of preferred and desired art supplies, which are markers that cost $8+ a piece.  I took her shopping for them and patiently explained that for the amount of money these cost, versus the amount of money she had, she should probably just buy less expensive supplies so she could get her sister something more than two markers at best.  She selected a paint and colored pencil set and we headed home.  Then she immediately regretted it because it wasn't what she had wanted at first.  (A good portion of our lives these days is spent dealing with the aftermath when something challenges the world view of The Caterpillar.  It's exhausting.)  We both assured her that she had made the right decision and The Dormouse would be happy with her gifts, but she still wanted to go back and buy the crazy expensive colored markers with whatever money she had left which was about $3 - not even enough to buy one marker.  

Finally, she appealed to the nerd in both of us and presented us with this equation:

Oil pastels + paints = 50% chance for Sister to hug me
Oil pastels + paints + fancy markers = 70% chance for Sister to hug me

With that kind of logic, who can argue? I took her to the store and paid the ungodly amount of $60 for a set of six fancy markers. I AM NOT MADE OF STONE, PEOPLE!

At the store, she told me she didn't have enough money to pay for all the markers (actually she didn't have enough to pay for one - I'd known that at the outset).  I told her that I'd cover her but she had to make me a deal, she had to pay it forward and do something nice for someone else. She offered to take over some of my chores around the house, but I told her I didn't want it to be for me; I wanted her to look for nice things to do for other people (I was going for "sister" people, actually, hoping to improve that relationship these days) and to keep doing them until she felt like her debt was paid off. It was up to her to decide when she'd done enough.

As we were walking out of the store on a cold, rainy night, we went down the steps next to a man who was sitting outside on one of the stairs. I greeted him. He said "Merry Christmas" and we both responded in kind.  He hesitated and then said, "I'm sorry to ask this, but my ride didn't come and I'm trying to get home, do you happen to have a couple of dollars for the bus?"  

I apologized and explained that I had no cash, but I wished him luck and he thanked me anyway.  We started to walk away but The Caterpillar yanked on my coat sleeve and turned to go back.  She ran back to him and pulled the $3 she had planned on using for... I don't know, half a marker?... and handed it over to him.  Then she told him Merry Christmas and ran back and grabbed my hand.

"That's a start," she said.

I don't know about you, but it's been really hard to believe in humanity lately and I needed this.  It was one of the sweetest moments I've ever experienced with my children and I nearly burst into tears.  But I held it together because I never did get that heart from the wizard.

Then the next night, I took The Dormouse out to shop for a gift for The KoH.  She found something appropriate after a long while of looking, but again didn't have enough money to cover it all.  I made the same deal with her that I'd made with The Caterpillar the night before; I'd give her the money, but she needed to do something nice for someone else.  Something big enough to cover the value of this gift and she had to decide when she'd done enough.

She thought for a moment and sighed heavily.  

"Can I just GIVE you the money?"

Well, we're batting .500 at least.