Saturday, December 31, 2011

Time Marches On

Sometimes while wearing her mom's slippers.

At dinner tonight, we went around the table and took turns naming our favorite parts of 2011.  We have so much for which to be thankful, but most of all we are thankful for the family and friends who have shared the journey with us.

Happy New Year to you!

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Best Kind of Medicine

A warm day in December,

Fresh air and sunshine,


And plenty of space in which to run.  Some of my favorite cure-alls.

The ball was a Christmas present from little sister to big, with big declaring that it was just the kind of ball she had always wanted.  Because sisters know these things.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Today I am thankful that we seem to be gaining in the battle against the stomach thing that has waged war on the family this week.

I wouldn't say that we've won yet, but we're getting better.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Great Last-Minute Gifts

You still have plenty of time to give great gifts this Christmas.  And you don't need to spend a lot of money to do it.  Really!

Do a Dreaded Chore.   Choose something you kind of like to do, that they really hate to do.  Or choose something you both hate to do.  Either way, you are giving the gift of your help.

Clean out and wash the car.
Trim the rabbit's nails.
Back up the hard drive.
Repaint a room.  (Might want to ask about this one before you do it.)
Catch up on scrapbooking.  (Ask about this one, too)
Wash the cat box and change the litter.
Move something heavy.
Change all the sheets in the house and flip/rotate mattresses.
Wash, fold, iron, and put away all the laundry.
Split and stack firewood.
Clean the bathroom, including the tub/shower and washing the towels and bath mats.
Scan, label, and store old photos.  Give copies on CD or have photo books printed.
Do minor home repairs, like hanging pictures.
Pick up and store presents for their kid.  You don't have to purchase the presents--lots of places have in-store pickup if they order online--but transporting something bulky like a bicycle and hiding it in your garage would be mighty helpful this time of year.
Wrap all the presents they intend to give.  (Ask about this, too.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

These December Days

Christmas pageant tech is in full swing.  Sets are now fully painted and out of the living room.  If you see them at church, be sure to look for Betsy's gold glitter paint around the star.  "See, Mom, I told you we needed the glitter paint!" she reminds me, and she was right.  Four-year-olds do know about the glitter.

Pageant lighting and sound tech means it is now Club Pepper in the living room.  Matthew taught the girls about dimmers, and now the girls take turns as board op for our in-house disco.  And by take turns I mean fight.  We hear a lot of, "No, you go dance, I'm doing the lights!"

Some Christmas crafts are complete.  Teacher presents were finished and gifted this morning, the last day before winter break.  Other things are still in progress.  I have to stop myself from starting new projects at this point.  I still wonder what secret things Matthew is making with all that wood.

I love that Betsy initiated creating gifts as well.  As a person who'd rather spend time at home with needles, thread, fabric, and yarn than fighting traffic to park at the mall, I am glad.  And I'm proud to think that she might take after her parents in this way.

Cookies are being baked--and eaten--and baked again.  Abigail proclaims them "Yumyum!"  We're becoming skilled at adapting recipes to accommodate various food allergies.  I mean no, those cookies weren't quite right, we need to make more!

Abigail continues to bring in this year's crop of ornaments.  It looks like she'll have quite the haul.  Every day, if ornaments appear (or re-appear) on the branches that she can reach, she carefully plucks each one from the Christmas tree and places it in her little blue bucket.  She is quite helpful.  She also continues to assist St. Nicholas by leaving presents in our shoes.

In general, we're doing less running around to events and more making Christmas at home, and it's been good.  More peaceful.  We're having fires in the fireplace.  Singing along with carols on Pandora.  Listening to the whir of the mixer and the hum of the sewing machine.  Matthew and I may still be wondering if we'll finish everything in time, but it's a fun challenge.

And if you ask Betsy, she can always tell you exactly how many days are left until Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

9. The Perfectly Decorated Home

Does your living room look like this?

If it does, I'm a little bit jealous, because my living room currently looks more like this:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

8. Spike

Glittering and sharp, this tree is as beautiful as it is dangerous.  Do not attempt to hang ornaments without gloves.

Friday, December 9, 2011

7. Bad Teacher Gifts

Okay, I'm not a teacher.  But my mom taught preschool for nearly two decades, and I saw a lot of teacher gifts come into the house.  So I feel slightly qualified.  And there's nothing teachers appreciate more than the opinions of the slightly qualified, except maybe ornaments shaped like apples.

A.  The Gift Card

Pros: Like getting cash, in a range of denominations from "I threw in a few bucks on the group gift" to "thank you from the bottom of my wallet for giving me a break from this kid."  A way to let teacher choose something nice that teacher wouldn't buy for himself.  Easily regifted.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

6. Dueling Advent Calendars

If you happen to have two or more children, you can ratchet up the anticipation of opening up the doors on the advent calendar each day by giving each child a completely different kind of calendar.

Monday, December 5, 2011

4. Useless Gifts

I'm not talking about the kinds of useless gifts that are beautiful or hilarious or made with love by well-meaning admirers.  Those can be awesome.  I'm talking about the ones like this:

Regifted in white elephants and secret Santa exchanges continuously from 1992-present, the identity of the original giver has long since been lost. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

3. What the Cat Is Eating

You know how it is.  You're in some dimly lit room, maybe because you're enjoying the glow of the Christmas tree, maybe because it's 3 in the morning and you're in bed, sleeping.  You hear a suspicious rustling sound and you see the cat crouched in the corner of the room, eyes gleaming, something odd in her mouth.  Of course it is safe to assume that whatever kitty is eating is deadly or at least deadly to your favorite rug.   But what is it?

Here is a quick Guide to What The Cat is Eating.  In silhouette.

Appearance:  Cat has grown fangs and is foaming at the mouth.
Cat is Eating:  Small stuffed sheep from the nativity.

Friday, December 2, 2011

2. The Wifty Tree

The long, silky needles and soft, gentle branches of the wifty tree practically beg you to touch them.  And indeed, you may enjoy petting this tree for hours and hours of holiday fun.  But when it comes time to decorate, beware;

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Unnecessary Winter Holiday Traditions: 1. The Inflatable Yard Experience

I promised more cartoons, so here you go.  A mini-series, from now until Christmas, of Unnecessary Holiday Traditions that I made up.  You're welcome.

1.  The Inflatable Yard Experience

Why confine your Christmas joy to a measly six foot inflatable snow globe in the front yard?  With the Inflatable Yard Experience, you can make your entire house