Hamster Balls and Magic Bells

Posted on 12/30/2010 02:00:00 PM
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend who does not have children and I said something that made her laugh. I don't remember what it was but knowing me, it was probably some snarky comment about kids or parenthood or something related to how much kids and parenthood suck because she said,

"That's what I like about you. You don't make having kids seem like magic bells and butterflies all the time."

Me: "Well, some people would argue that it IS magic bells and butterflies and I'm just misinformed."

*laughs* "You know what I mean. I don't have kids and even I can see that it's hard. But looking around at most Moms I know, they're all trying to make out like life has become perfect just because they spawned."

Me: "Well, I'll never say I'm sorry I had my kids. I'd say overall my life is better WITH my kids. It's just that having kids brings on all sorts of different problems... so it's only like... an inch better."

It's funny because it's true.

So this is for that friend. Because in that inch, here's the kind of stuff you get to do to with them:

Put them in giant hamster balls and float them out over a pool of water.
(They remind me of their Christmas ornaments this year.

When we were at the mall to see Santa, we walked past this... kiosk... for lack of a better term. We thought $10 for ten minutes was a little bit steep, but it was something they'd never done before and I'm all for new experiences. Plus it was Christmas Eve and they were all dressed up. That's pretty much the hat trick of reasons to do something expensive. They weren't in the balls for thirty seconds before The KoH and I looked at each other and simultaneously declared:

"TOTALLY worth it!"

We were the first customers of the day and there wasn't a line so the guy running it let them stay in there another twenty minutes after their time was up. (See what I mean about getting there early?) Thanks, Awesome Hamster Ball Guy, because this is my favorite Christmas memory this season... maybe of all time.

This is what lives in that extra inch of good. These moments where you laugh yourself silly because of nothing. Where you do things you would never have had the courage to do if you couldn't pawn it off on the idea that "it's for the kids." Where you just get to forget the world for a few minutes and see things through their eyes.

When weighed against the bad of the sleepless nights, the crowded beds, the tantrums and time outs, that inch is just a little bit better... and totally worth it.

My thoughts: 

Whose Gingerbread Sprints Ahead?

Posted on 12/29/2010 05:12:00 PM
Since we never got to it before Christmas we decided to assemble the many gingerbread house kits we received throughout the month the day AFTER Christmas. Welcome to the Wonderland Gingerbread Village Wherein a Comically Large Train Comes Through to Deliver Figgy Pudding No One Would Eat. We hope you enjoy your stay.

Each of the houses was built by a member of our family. I've decided to make this a competition and since there are no impartial parties inside the house, I'm turning to you, Interweb. There will be absolutely nothing in it for the winner except bragging rights and the ability to trash talk for the next thirty or forty years... "Remember that time when you BUILT A GINGERBREAD HOUSE THAT SUCKED??!?"

It is a prize coveted by many.

Please vote your conscience after carefully considering the options.

The Caterpillar's A-Frame Cabin with bonus: A Shrubery

My Figgy Pudding Train with The Dormouse's Train Conductor Sitting Atop the Engine for a Reason None Among Us Can Explain

The KingofHearts' Church of The Stuff on My Lawn

The Dormouse's Cozy Swiss Chalet

The KnaveofHearts' Modest Single Family Home
with Angel Sitting Dejectedly on the Stoop

It's your civic duty.

Get your own Poll!

My thoughts: 

Christmas Roundup

Posted on 12/29/2010 03:30:00 PM In:
Christmas, despite our best efforts, turned out not exactly like we planned. We'd hoped to get the girls out to visit Santa earlier in the month, but one thing after another kept us from getting to it and then a small neighborhood emergency kept us from even going on the 23rd like we'd planned. So we did something completely stupid and went to a mall on Christmas Eve to see Santa.

::insert needle scratching on record sound here*::

I KNOW! Right?

It actually didn't end up being that bad as I have learned the secret to going anywhere in the D.C. metro area and having a semi-enjoyable time: show up before 10:00 am and leave before noon.

So we got up early, dressed the girls in their Christmas dresses*** and headed off to the mall to see Santa while spending much of the car ride explaining that we were not, in fact, going to church. (Possible resolution for 2011: have children occasionally wear nice clothing on days other than Sundays.) We were there way before his fireside seat even opened, and were the first in line which is probably why we got such a great picture. No waiting.

The Dormouse had been wondering what Figgy Pudding was and because I'd never had it either, and I didn't learn my lesson from the Sugar Plums, I agreed to find a recipe on the interwebs and make some:

Verdict: meh.

It's edible if you put enough butter and whipped cream on it, but then again, I could probably eat my husband's sneakers with enough butter and whipped cream, so I don't think that's high praise. I'll take my extra holiday calories in the form of sugar cookies with lots of icing, please.****

That evening, the sugar plums came in handy because I'd totally forgotten to get any cookie-like sustenance to leave out for Santa and - oh, you didn't know? - I hear he really likes sugar plums. Don't think about how convenient that happens to be. I'm hoping my children won't.

It's not healthy food, but there are fruits and nuts, so I'll bet it's healthier than cookies.

We took some time to write our notes to Santa. Some of us had more specific questions...

...than others.

Then we hung all out stockings by the chimney TV with care.

We still have no idea which stocking belongs to whom.

The next morning, Santa had indeed come. Glory be!

Not all of us were ready to get up at 6:00 am with the little girls...

...but once you open a gift or two, you perk up a bit.

There was dancing with Daddy in the living room to Christmas songs...

and exploring new lands.

Santa managed to bring some of the things on The List (which by now had about ten more things than when you saw it here).

A very, very, large diamond.

The infamous old-fashioned milk can. (No, I do not know what she intends to do with this. Just be impressed Santa found one because I am.) Also: we're calling that thing she's wearing a "blue and pink calico dress" just in case you ever run into us. Calico is surprisingly hard to find.

There were also tearful thank-yous for thoughtful gifts from younger sisters.

This is maybe my favorite Christmas memory ever.

Then were were all so exhausted...

we went out for Chinese food, 'cause that's how we roll.

*I fully realize no one reading knows what that actually sounds like.**
**I am old.
***read: normal dresses that they've worn all year long but which I have now dubbed "Christmas dresses" because they're "special"
****No really... please. This is my shameful attempt to get more Christmas cookies.

My thoughts: 

Silent Night

Posted on 12/25/2010 06:17:00 AM In:
Last year, I let you in on our Christmas card tradition of putting everyone else's cards to shame. Of course I've offended a few people with my cards, but each year I get at least one letter early in the season that says something to the effect of, "I want to let you know that we've moved and give you my new address because your Christmas cards are always the best of the season and I don't want to miss out."

That's right baby.

So here you go, blogland. Christmas 2010:

Special bonus photo not available to snail-mailers:*

And just case you are one of those who will be offended by this card because we are using our children for our own amusement, let me let you in on the fact that turnabout is fair play in our house.

Hope your holidays are quieter than mine will be because that tape doesn't last for long.

*See how I love you, internets?

My thoughts: 

Visions of Sticky Fingers

Posted on 12/24/2010 03:23:00 PM In:
The Dormouse asked me the other day what Sugar Plums were and I really didn't know. So I decided to make them with the girls for one of those Christmas memories that turns to be one of those things that seemed like a way better idea in your head than it is put into practice.

They're actually quite a bit simpler, but messier, than I'd expected. I got all the way through this recipe and was putting everything away feeling rather proud of myself for coming up with the means and opportunity to make something so quaint and old-world, when the FacePlace pointed out that there are no plums in this recipe for Sugar Plums. So I consulted Professor Google, my food anthropologist on staff, and learned that I was using the Quick Sugar Plum recipe, which curiously doesn't actually contain plums. The real recipe bore no resemblance to what I was making. Thanks FacePlace. Actually, the original, seventeenth-century Sugar Plum recipes do contain plums, but there's a lengthy process of poaching fruit in sugar syrup and then allowing it to steep for days, repeating the process until the fruit is completely saturated, and then drying it our over weeks. Knowing that, I'll take my plumless sugar plums, kthanxbye.

So if you want to learn how to make fake sugar plums, read on. I'll bet you could sneak some prunes in there and these would be just as authentic. If not, please consult Professor Google.

First you chop up a bunch of almonds, dates, apricots, orange zest and a few spices, then mix it up with honey until it's super sticky. Something like this:

Then you employ a couple sets of tiny hands that the owners don't mind getting sticky to roll the stuff into balls.

Roll those balls in powdered sugar.

Be very, very sure that all standards of health and sanitation are upheld and those hands stay out of the mouths they are attached to..... and whatever you do, don't let them eat an entire bowlful of powdered sugar.

Or not. Whatever.

Be ready to clean up when they get tired because it will happen sooner than you expect.

And then they will go about the good business of Decorating Your Sister as a Christmas Tree,

while you slave away in the kitchen. But at the end of it all, they'll be happy to help you eat the product.

Because consuming a bowlful of powdered sugar each wasn't near enough sweets for one afternoon.

My thoughts: 

I Got a Lotta Problems with You People

Posted on 12/23/2010 05:08:00 AM In:
This one's for Monica.

Thirteen grievances I have on Festivus:
  1. People who put hair gel in their boys' hair to create a faux-hawk
  2. People who clip their nails during my kid's piano recital
  3. The KingofHearts gets today off and I don't
  4. The Caterpillar has only slept past 5:00 am once in the last two months
  5. I have the week off between Christmas and New Year's Day, but so do The Children, rendering the vacation part of my vacation null and void
  6. Monica doesn't seem to know what day Festivus is actually celebrated
  7. Colleagues waited to hand in articles for weeks-past work deadline until yesterday, knowing full well I'd have another two days' work AFTER receiving them... oh, did I mention the office closes today at noon?
  8. Cannot find aluminum pole to display in living room due to evil stripper pole industry machines commercializing the holiday
  9. Hole in husband's head still tender, making winning feats of strength lacking in sense of accomplishment and prowess over him it deserves
  10. Those who use "flustrated," "supposably," and "well-healed" and insist they are correct that way
  11. The Harvard comma
  12. People who gave my kid I Can Be a Stripper Doctor Barbie doll (just look at that mini-skirt and those pink legs and tell me I'm wrong) for preschool Christmas party - and that she likes it better than any toy in the house
  13. Pissed that my grievances are so mild this year - I have too much to be thankful for

My thoughts: 


Posted on 12/22/2010 05:00:00 AM
The Dormouse has been taking private piano lessons for a little under a year and we love her teacher. I'm pretty sure I would say that about anyone who was willing to come to the house to teach her. I did a brief stint of providing music therapy services in people's homes and driving from one client's house at one end of town to another at the opposite end of town in the hottest part of the year back in the day and I hated it with a red, hot, burning passion, (but maybe that's just because it was 112 degrees and I had no air conditioning in my car). That being said, I now understand why all the parents of my clients liked it so well; having someone come to your house and not having to schlep your kid to an outside place, especially when you have more than one kid is A-to-the-W-to-the-E-SOME! You can totally be in your bathrobe until 9:14 and just duck into the bedroom to throw on some sweats when you see the piano teacher drive up at 9:15. No fighting with a two year old to get in the car, no yelling "I don't care if you want to wear your bathing suit out in December, you must put on clothing nowhurrywe'reGONNABELAAAATE!" No, the only yelling required in this situation is just the occasional, "You need to focus on your lesson, dear," from the other room when you hear her start to tell Mr. Piano Teacher how you can tell the difference between the boy cat and the girl cat because of The Spot.

I'll tell you a secret though. If this piano teacher ever decided he was only going to teach lessons only out of a studio, I'd totally follow him there. He's a very good teacher of young children and has been really great with The Dormouse. His philosophy is one of teaching kids to love music and not so much making them into performing monkeys that get yelled at when they miss a note, which is exactly what I was looking for when I searched through so many teachers before finding him. So it'd be worth it to drive to where he is for lessons each week, but I don't let him know that. No, no. Whenever he talks about maybe changing his business model and not driving around to homes and wonders aloud if he'll lose students this way all I do is tsk my tongue and say, "Well... it IS super-convenient to have you come here..." and trail off muttering something about the Other Child and how hard it is to get her in the car.

Last week a woman I know at church who also teaches piano sent around a flier about a piano recital she was holding. It was mainly for her own students, but since she was going to hold it at the church building, she decided to make it into a church event and invite any young person in the congregation who wanted to play something to participate as well. The Dormouse couldn't wait to get her some o' that performing in public! where people could see her! and give her attention! action, so we signed up.

Now, I think we all know that a children's recital of any kind is only interesting for the two-and-a-half minutes it takes to actually see your own kid play. After that, you're just biding your time until it's over or you can sneak out. Unless your kid is last, in which case, by the time you get to the money shot, everyone else has gone and your kid is playing to an empty room and you are pissed at everyone who has left before the end. This woman knew that as well, so she didn't create a written program. She hung ornaments on a tree and every kid who played a piece then had to go choose an ornament from the tree afterward. That ornament had the number of the next piece on the program. Pretty ingenious, if you don't count the fact that there were forty pieces, FORTY. (She let all those who wanted to - and that was most of them - play two pieces. This way they wouldn't leave after they played their one piece; they'd have to stick around and listen to at least some of the others.) Add to that the fact that many of those pieces were contemporary tunes that the kids played right out of the song book. There's not a problem with that until you realize that the Theme from Twilight and Stairway to Heaven each have something like NINETY verses and the kids are playing the piano with no singing, so they're pretty much just playing the same thing over and over... second verse, same as the first. A little bit louder and a little bit worse!

This is all just my subtle way of telling you that this event was LONG. Like three hours long. That's long for me and I'm someone who's been performing and concert-going for most of my mumblesomething years on this earth. I can't even begin to describe to describe how long it is when you're seven.

I don't know why, as I watched parents tap away on their phones, organize their purses, pull out nail clippers to catch up on their personal grooming tasks then reach over and begin clipping their kids' nails, etc., but Alice don't play that and I insisted that the girls try to at least learn some appropriate concert etiquette as both an audience member and a performer: Dress nicely. Be quiet. Listen respectfully to the people who are playing because they will listen respectfully to you. Take off the Sherlock Holmes hat and the mittens hanging from the ends of your coat sleeves while you are playing your piece. Acknowledge the applause rather than skulking off the stage when you are finished. Wait until you are home for that pedicure you've been putting off.

It was a lot of waiting around and she was restless but for the most part The Dormouse did great. The Caterpillar, well, she didn't get a nap that day, so she was great for about fifteen minutes. Then she could. not. be. contained. any further. I was hoping they'd call The Dormouse's number early and then one of us could just take The Caterpillar out in the hallway, but The Dormouse ended up being one of the last five songs to play. So
the LONG was made even LONGER due to the fact that I was desperately trying not to miss The Dormouse's performance should her name be called. Her piece was super short and she was only playing one, so I didn't want to be out in the hall with The Caterpillar when her number was picked or I'd miss it entirely. But I was also trying to keep The Caterpillar from making too much noise and ruining it for everyone else. Two of the three hours, I just stood in the back of the hall with The Caterpillar, shushing her whenever she made a peep. For awhile, just running circles around Momma was enough to keep her interested, and when I say that, I mean it literally:

She did this for a good twenty minutes before she she was so dizzy she started falling down every couple steps and couldn't figure out why. Eventually she tired of that and went about the good work of pulling a giant rack of chairs down on her head and putting her hands all over all the refreshments waiting in the back. BUT SHE DID IT QUIETLY, DAMMIT. And yes, I did manage to send out a few tweets during the event, but at least *I* did it from the bathroom like a respectable person. Ahem.

The Dormouse eventually did get to play and she was great. It's not the longest song in the world, but it's the first piece she ever learned that had a recognizable tune to it and she played it perfectly.

See that bow at the end? I reminded her to do that after kid #3 sullenly stomped back to his seat without so much as looking up at the folks politely clapping. She was super excited and when I showed her her name in the program, gasped. GASPED. Like something out of a Victorian novel. One older boy, who was really quite good for his age, took the time to come over and tell her she did a good job and I think she was a little starstruck. I'm surprised she didn't swoon and declare she had the vapors.

So I guess it was worth it in the end.

Just don't expect me to get behind a voluntary recital again any time soon.

My thoughts: 

But of Course You Are

Posted on 12/21/2010 07:29:00 AM
Sunday evening:

"Hey kid, what are you doing with that wad of aluminum foil?"

"Just hanging up my tinfoil frogaliendragon that's shooting from a spaceship made of tinfoil ornament."

"Well if that's all."

The good news is I think there's a future for her in television set decorations.

My thoughts: 

Don't Let the Calm Demeanor Fool You

Posted on 12/19/2010 07:05:00 AM
This is already posted elsewhere, but I'm going to go ahead and cross-post here, mainly because someday when my grown children ask why Momma didn't keep a journal, scrapbook or a baby book and they complain about how I never documented any of their lives, I can point to this blog and say, "See? Your mother wasn't as lazy as you thought. IN YOUR FACE, Children! High five, Daddy!" *spikes the computer and Charlestons out the room and into the hallway*

We'll have that talk about my tendency to trash talk in inappropriate situations another day.

The Dormouse has been asked to sing this song in church the day after Christmas and when I mentioned that fact to my mother, she asked for a recording. So we set up the camera in front of the most cliché of all places we could find, the Christmas tree, (I know! But it was the only spot in the house that wasn't littered with toys and dirty clothing.) and asked her to sing this song for Grandma.

This was the first take we did. I had her do a couple more because I felt my piano was too loud in this one, but we ended up just using this because those follow-up takes include:
  • her wiping her nose on the back of her hand throughout a good quarter the song
  • The KingofHearts heard loudly cracking his knuckles from behind the camera and me trying to shush him while continuing to play, which made her forget the words
  • her managing to twist her arms through the neck of her shirt and then back out the opposite armholes
  • her snapping loudly and the sound of her stomping her feet (on the carpet!) during all the rests
  • and one were we get all the way to the end of the song with no problems and while the last note is still ringing in the air, she announces loudly, "FINALLY! I can go throw away this pine needle I've been holding through the WHOLE SONG."

I felt it was my duty to share this information with you... just in case you might be led to believe that she's this cute all the time.

My thoughts: 

Regretting it Already

Posted on 12/19/2010 05:41:00 AM
I'm not exactly sure why I'm doing this, because it just encourages him. Personally, this is one of my least favorite Christmas songs but I ran across this clip this morning and feel compelled to share. The KingofHearts saw this Claymation Christmas Special with Special Guest Stars: THE CALIFORNIA RAISINS! on TV when he was a child. Apparently it made an impression on his fifteen-year-old-self because every Christmas for the decade and a half we've known each other, he has made a point of describing this song to me and/or anyone else who will listen, complete with a dramatic reenactment for anyone who might not have been lucky enough to see it themselves or remember in such vivid detail.

"You see, the kings are all basses and they sing the first part really straight and low, 'weee three keeengs of Oooo-ree-ent aaaaaare...' and then the jazzy camels, start in with 'star of wonder, star of light, a-doo-bee-doo, star with royal beauty bright, a-doo-bee-doo..."

I would just like to point out that there's not a single "doo-bee-doo" in this entire clip.

My thoughts: 

Dear Santa...

Posted on 12/17/2010 06:16:00 AM
Last week some folks from Church came over to visit in preparation for The KingofHearts' surgery and we were chatting about Christmas and how we each... do it. One of them is a twenty-something guy in college and one of them is a new dad with a young son. Dadguy asked us, "I'm curious. Especially as my wife and I are trying to figure out how to teach our son about the meaning of Christmas as he grows up, what do you do to focus on the real meaning of Christmas for your kids?"

I was a bit flummoxed for an answer, actually.

It's not like we don't try and focus on the different aspects of Christmas. We do.

indignant whining We watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. /indignant whining

I just wasn't really sure what we do

I gave them some such nonsense about having family traditions... symbols and ornaments and reading books that come down with the Christmas decorations and trying to take advantage of teachable moments and blah blah blah if you're really listening, you should be aware by now that I have no idea what I'm talking about, have you met me? i'm certainly not qualified to be dispensing parenting advice, maybe you should go talk to the Bishop.

Then The Dormouse, who is always ready to enter any adult conversation whether asked or not, interjected that at Christmastime, Santa brings us gifts and we give each other gifts. And in her opinion, that is a very real way to begin exercising faith in something that's sometimes hard to believe in when some people tell us he's not real and to remind ourselves of the Savior and the gifts that He gave to us when came to earth and died for us.

And I was like, "Ummm. Yeah. What she said."

It's always embarrassing when your seven year old can provide a better answer to a question than you are able.

But then to prove to me that she wasn't above the commercialism of the Christmas season (or perhaps to just keep me on my toes), she handed me her Christmas Wish List a couple of days later.

The Dormouse's Wish List [sic] For Christmas
  1. Fur real freinds® Gogo, my walkin' pup
  2. Fushigy
  3. Mind Flex
  4. Old-faisioned milk can
  5. china doll
  6. science kit I science!
  7. very, very, big diamond
  8. Barbie doll'd up nails (only at Toy's r us)
  9. a dress made of blue and pink calico
  10. A big glass snowflake
  11. 3 dozen pink and silver puff balls
  12. tiny 1 foot engien jet that can fly
  13. ballet lessons

This delights me because she has been compiling this list for a couple of weeks now - adding an item when she thinks about it here and there - and I can pretty much trace our activities this month by what she's added to this list.
Allow me to demonstrate:

Items 1-3: at the beginning of the month, I set the DVR to record several Christmas specials and have been letting them watch one an evening if they get out of the bath and get ready for bed in enough time. These items are directly related to the commercials seen on these specials.

Item 4: This year the girls are doing an advent calendar with turn-of-the-century style artwork and behind one of the windows was an old-fashioned milk can. She didn't know what it was and we had to explain it to her. Now she is fascinated with antique milk cans. I guess I'm just glad they didn't include a chamber pot.

Item 5: She watched Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and was particularly affected by the scene where Kris gives Jessica a china doll. Personally, they kinda creep me out.

Item 6: Watching Mythbusters on TV is a family event and a comment was made about how our kids will grow up geeky and into science. The KingofHearts thinks this is awesome because then when they are teenagers, boys will leave them alone. Me? I just think this makes them available to a wider variety of boys.

Item 7: One too many give her jewelry for Christmas commercials.

Item 8: Toys R Us catalog arrived in the mail

Item 9: She's reading On the Banks of Plum Creek

Item 10: Honestly, I can't place this one. I don't know what it means.

Item 11: This is a layover from Princess Pukefest

Item 12: A gift purchased for someone else this season

Item 13: I'm pretty sure this came from an episode of Community

In other news, The Caterpillar told us this morning she wanted "a jet airplane" for Christmas. So it's nice to see that the rampant materialism hasn't gotten to her.

My thoughts: 

Recovery Options

Posted on 12/16/2010 06:18:00 AM In:
The surgeon told him to take it easy for a week. What she didn't happen to mention was that the medication would make him a bit loopy and sadly, the Shortlings have no shortage of encouragement when it comes to him acting silly. When you don't leave the house for a week straight and can't really read, your options for entertainment are either lots and lots of TV or this:

Notice at the end where he says, "Put it in the oven for a baby and me." That's an affectation that The Dormouse invented when she was two or three. For whatever reason, she couldn't say this rhyme the way I learned it, "...for Baby and me." Instead, she always said, "...for a baby and me." At one point I tried to tell her that it's supposed said without the 'a' because Baby was the name of the baby but she was all, "Why would anyone name someone Baby?" and refused to say it. Now there's not a person in our house who says it the correct way.

My thoughts: 


Posted on 12/15/2010 06:48:00 AM In:
Between the fact that we've spent every free minute of Sucktember fixing stuff and the fact that we have no money leftover from any of our home or physical repairs to do much of anything else, we're planning for a bit of a lean Christmas this year. In fact, I didn't really want to do anything for Christmas this year. We hadn't been able to find the time to hunt and kill a tree of our very own and as such, hadn't even pulled down the boxes of decorations from the attic. There just wasn't a weekend that wasn't filled with doctor's orders, rehearsals, or other things we I had stupidly committed to do back when I thought this month would be smooth sailing. When you're an adult and you're not really feelin' the holidays, you get a pass to ignore them as much as you want. You don't have to put up a tree. You don't have to decorate. When you're an adult with children in the house, you may take no such liberties. So while I would have been happy to just skip it all this year, The Children had other ideas.

I finally accepted the fact that we weren't going to make it a couple of states over to the Christmas tree farm this year to cut down out own tree and on Monday night, we packed up the kids in the car and headed out to our little local farm where they sell pre-cut Christmas trees late in the season. It was just as well too, because our little adventure went something like this:

  • Bundle up children like Ralphie's brother.
  • Drive around corner.
  • Get children out of car.
  • Gasp at unusual cold and ridiculously strong monkey fighting winds.
  • Look around; see no one.
  • Finally find human-type person huddled inside barn; ask if they're open.
  • His response, "Sure we're open, it's just too damn cold to be standing out there. You just let me know when you've found a tree and I'll come on out and help."
  • Mutter acquiescence and waddle back into wind, because somehow the ministry of silly walks makes you feel warmer.
  • Glance at rows of trees. Point to first one you see and suggest, "That one?"
  • Husband says, "Uh... sure."
  • Children too cold and anxious to get back into car to argue.
  • Pay for tree while nice lady in the barn lets your children stand by her heating lamp, which, to tell you the truth, isn't fooling anyone. It's still colder than a witch's... elbow in there.
  • Put children back in car and head home with no complaints.
  • Did I mention it was cold?

The whole adventure lasted less than six minutes. It's also probably the prettiest tree we've ever managed to acquire. Sometimes it pays not to over think it.

Anyway, this is all to say that we finally decorated our tree and have admitted that Christmas is coming after all. And because the one wagon I actually got on top of early this year was the traditional ornament wagon, (last year, one of them didn't actually have her ornament to hang on the tree until after Christmas) the girls even have their 2010 Christmas ornament with which to adorn said tree. (For a retrospective on our Christmas ornament tradition, see 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.)

For The Dormouse, who has spent the better part of the year obsessed with fairies:

And for The Caterpillar, who finally discovered princesses this year thanks to some people:

I'm super happy with their ornaments this year. In other years, I've tried harder to find something adorable that's less breakable, but I happened to stumble across these early on and they were so perfect, I just couldn't look any further. Besides, I theorized, while the glass ball could certainly break, the dolls themselves aren't made of glass. This actually ended up being prophetic because I learned after our postman got a bit rough with the packages in transit and broke both of them, that a) the lovely woman at Petalbelles' shop on Etsy will do whatever she can to help make it right and b) if you want and are very very careful, you can purchase clear glass ornaments at the craft store and replace broken ones. (This bodes well for repairs in the future.) I think these are some of the most creative and adorable ornaments I've managed to acquire yet and I just keep staring at them because I can't imagine having the patience and dexterity to make these tiny little dolls. Each one is handmade and unique and I was even able to make a special request to get the dolls' hair colors to more closely match the girls'.

We do have other plans for Christmas. I'm playing music somewhere pretty much every Sunday until the 26th and it looks like The Dormouse will be singing a solo in church this year so sometime soon I should start helping her with that. But for the most part, I'm trying to avoid commitments and just stay home as much as possible. Any advice on how to accomplish that short of lying and telling people I'm out of town or faking my own death would be greatly appreciated.

My thoughts: 

My 3 Year Old is a Comedian

Posted on 12/14/2010 01:37:00 PM In:
The Caterpillar *runs into the kitchen from where she's been perched watching TV in the living room*:

"Momma, do you know what Scooby did?"

"No. What did Scooby do?"

"Scooby-Doo. Bwa ha ha ha!" *leaves room*

My thoughts: 

Age Appropriate

Posted on 12/13/2010 11:32:00 AM
Last night, a storm knocked out our power for several hours. Sure it's annoying. Sure it was supposed to get down to below freezing last night. But I was happy. You know why? KNOW WHY? Because for the first time since the beginning of Sucktember, I was able to sit back, breathe a sigh of relief and wait for someone else to fix it without requiring any additional money out of my pocketbook or any effort on my part whatsoever. It was heavenly thinking about that while we were all curled up in our snuggies.

When we first moved to this neighborhood after living on a military base where the power went out if someone sneezed, we were amazed at how seldom we lost power. Even in the worst of storms, the lights might flicker a few times to try and fake us out, but ultimately they would glow steadfastly on. But last night while we were talking with a neighbor, we all realized that in the last three years, we've had the power knocked out more times than in the prior ten put together. I guess you have to work hard in order to have the distinction of providing the worst service in the nation.

When the power does go out these days, The Dormouse uses it as a chance to experience what life was like back in Laura Ingalls Wilder's day. She's been working her way through the Little House books (is currently in the middle of book three) and feels she has a pretty good picture in her mind of what life was like on the prairie, so she gets a kick out of reading by candlelight, and living "just like Laura" when we have to rough it for a few hours. I don't have the heart to remind her that Laura would have been required to bundle up and head outside during the storm to feed and secure the livestock and Pa probably didn't just hop in the Subaru and stop by Wendy's for dinner when the microwave stopped working. Some things are better left unsaid.

After the first couple of hours when she had tired of trying to read her book with a tiny orange flashlight clipped to her ear, she came back upstairs to where our neighbor had joined us and we were chatting in our candlelit living room just in time to hear me say,

"I feel like we should get out a deck of cards or something and play a game."

The Dormouse *who was waaay too excited to hear me say this*: "Oooo! Oooo! Yeah! We could play that don't let the marbles drop game." (Yes, yes, we know the official Mattel name is Kerplunk; that's not what we call it in our house.)

The KingofHearts: "I was thinking of something a little bit more adult, honey."

Dormouse: "Like Operation?"

My thoughts: 

A Plus Plus Plus Plus

Posted on 12/10/2010 09:10:00 PM
The Dormouse brought home a certificate tonight for getting all As on her most recent report card. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I don't remember getting letter grades on my report card until middle school. I know for a fact they didn't give them in second grade.

At any rate, she was quite excited and told the tale of how she was given the award at an assembly and she got to go up to get it in front. of. the. whole. school. I can't figure out what she enjoyed more, getting the thing, or getting to pick it up while all eyes were on her. It's Mama's Little Attention Whore's dream. And now, she wishes they'd give report cards every other day, so she could get a certificate several times a week. Oh honey, but you'll change that tune soon enough.

We were appropriately complimentary and oohed and ahhed at her lovely certificate, which she insists is printed with "real gold." (The kids who got bs just got "money colored" certificates.)

"Very cool, hun. We're proud of you."

"Me too. It was the proudest moment of my ENTIRE LIFE."

My thoughts: 

Insult to Injury

Posted on 12/08/2010 02:20:00 PM In:
Alternate post title: I Mock Because I Love

Alternate, truthful, post title: I Mock Because I Haven't Developed Healthy Coping Skills

On Monday, we headed off bright and early to have The KingofHearts' skin cancer removed. They have this cool procedure now where you don't even need to go to a hospital. They see you as an outpatient at a specialized center and cut off the cancer with a knife in an exam room. (I made that sound like they used a butter knife, which is an infinitely better visual, but in actuality, it was a standard scalpel.) Then they leave you sitting there in a barber chair with an open wound while they take the skin sample to the lab in the back and check the margins microscopically to make sure they removed all the cancerous cells. If not, they come back, cut a bit more off, a snip snip here, a snip snip there and a couple of tra la las, and check it again. Sounds a bit ruthless, but it's worth it to know right then and there that they either got it all or have to cut more out rather than go back a month later and do it all over again -- especially if the repair of the wound requires a plastic surgeon whose work will be obliterated by future surgeries to remove "just one more little piece."

Because we weren't sure how okay he'd be to drive home, I went with him. I also provided the music therapy in the way of shoving my iPod at him and telling him to choose something from my library of over ten-thousand songs. No pressure, dude. His choice: the Sweeney Todd Soundtrack, which I believe is both lovely and poetic. There are reasons we've stayed married for over thirteen years and this is one of them.

The doctor removed a half-dollar sized piece of skin, then came back and cut a bit wider and a bit deeper. The thing, apparently, had grown "roots" (lending credence to my theory that getting this removed as soon as possible was of the utmost importance). I was allowed to stay in the room while they cut and watch as we all discussed things like traffic, how hard it is to get into various colleges in the area and how doctors before the 1840s really must have had to be sadists in order to do stuff like this to their patients without anesthesia. (The doctor, who was the one in the room most uncomfortable with this particular topic of conversation, just kept assuring us, "oh they just wouldn't have operated on something like this." Perhaps, Doc, but they did do things like, oh, REMOVING LIMBS WITH A WOODSAW. Methinks the man doth protest too much.) I took pictures of the open wound on my camera phone and sent them to people whom, I'm sure, didn't eat dinner that evening but I did resist posting them on Facebook and Twitter. YOU'RE WELCOME INTERNETS. (Actually, I was trying to figure out how to include them here using this trick but I can't seem to make it work on a Blogger site, so thank the Good Folks at Google, not me.) After that, they covered the open wound with some gauze and we headed over to the plastic surgeon for a consult and planning session for the following day's repair.

I sat in on the plastic surgeon's consult too and had a few suggestions for things she could do with the scar on his forehead:
  1. Embroider my initials into the wound (please, pretty please? She later told me that she couldn't work MY initials in, so she did her own.)
  2. Creative scarring spells out "If found return to..." with nothing after that
  3. Embed borg-like apparatus. Call him "Loquacious of Borg" from now on
  4. Add Harry Potter scar; then knit him yellow and burgundy scarf for Christmas
  5. Install Jackalope horns; make a fortune from novelty postcard industry
  6. Leave open and oozing for awesome Halloween costume next year
  7. Embed shiny gold and diamond insert rimmed with platinum frame. Start new "forehead grillz" trend among rappers.
  8. Implant tiny speaker, when people talking to him start to get boring, he may use a button in pocket to emit a loud "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" sound
  9. 666
  10. Insert half-dollar so he'll always have cash
  11. Cover it with a birthmark; claim he's the long-lost son of Mikhail Gorbachev
  12. Graft in skin from his gluteus to cover the hole. Then we can call him butthead without argument. (Bonus if she can add in a tiny little plumber's crack.)
  13. Prosthetic forehead (because everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads.)

Weirdly, when we went back the next day for the actual cosmetic surgery, they made me wait in the waiting room.

When he did come out, he was walking like Frankenstein with his arms extended in front of him. It was pretty a propos actually, because I was surprised by how draconian the stitches looked... like one of those stick-on makeup pieces you buy in the drug store at Halloween. This is a top plastic surgeon in the area who has photos of herself with celebrities hanging all over the exam room walls, so for some reason I expected scores of tiny, beautiful stitches that resembled a work of art more than a B-movie SFx job. I guess when there's not that much skin to work with, you gotta make do.

The great thing about getting to call him "Frankenstein" for the next few weeks is that I will get to be known as "The Bride of Frankenstein." And yes, that makes me happier than I can even tell you.

My thoughts: 

Me in 3 Seconds

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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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