Ringing In the New Year with a Cold

… instead of a bang.

A cold is more my style, anyway. I’m not really a *BANG!* type person, mostly because I don’t read Marvel comic books.
My husband is off and has taken on the role of Mr. Mom. I’ve been under a blanket on the couch since noon. I took a four-hour nap. I watched the second half of “It’s a Wonderful Life” for a second time. I read a copy of “Country Living” from cover to cover.

Yes, ringing in the new year with a cold is definitely more my style.
The only downside is the aching and pains and the cloudiness in my head, but I’ve so far learned that if I hold my station on the couch and move as little as possible, they don’t bother me very much.
I can do that! I mean, it’s going to really hurt when I get up and make a batch of oatmeal cookie dough in a few minutes, but I have a hunch it will be TOTALLY worth it.

Happy New Year -may you catch a cold sometime in the near future.

Babies, It’s Cold Outside

This morning, my daughter pounced on me in bed.
“It’s SNOWING!” she cried out, “Come see! Come see!” I hadn’t put my glasses on yet and was blind as a bat, but I could at least see sunlight streaming through my bedroom window. I seriously doubted that it was snowing, but I (eventually) got up anyway. My daughter was perched on her bed, holding her bedroom curtain open.
“SNOW MAMA!” She said. By this time, she had woken her little brother up and shared the glad tidings with him.
“..’NOW!” He echoed her. My daughter was beside herself, hopping and wiggling.
“I just needa get my shoes and pants and coat on to go outside!” She said.
“Yeah,” I said, “Go ahead and do that.” In the meantime, I wandered back into my bedroom to give my husband a good morning kissing and thank him for sharing his cold with me.
I hadn’t so much as kissed her father as she showed up in my bedroom.
One look at her and I couldn’t help but say “HONEY!” Instant fear was evident in her face. She thought that she was in trouble.
“Babe,” I called to my husband who had started to walk away, “Come see your daughter.” She prepped herself for a good talking to. I watched her shoulders fall and her gaze shift to the floor. He came around the corner and laughed.
Her shoulders perked back up.
Her eyes lit up as a grin spread across her face…

She was wearing the most ridiculously adorably outfit. Pink slipper boots with two poms poms attached to each, pink and white sweat pants, a brown shirt (inside out, of course), her red dress coat, and an old crochet hat I had made two years ago.
I was still in my PJs, I hadn’t expected her to get dressed so fast. She ran out of my bedroom and was outside before I could tell her to slow down. Her brother came in the room and asked me to zip up his coat. The minute I was through, he followed his sister outside. I hurried and changed to get outside with them as quickly as possible. Just as I swung open the front door to walk outside, my daughter was walking back inside.
“Come on,” she said to her brother, “Let’s go inside.”
“Wait, wait!” I was confused, “WHY do you want to go inside? You JUST got out here!”
“It’s TOO COLD, MAMA!” She said. I asked her to please take a few steps out onto the snow with her brother. Just long enough to…

Arizona kids don’t take to kindly to snow.
Hot cocoa, anyone?


A few months ago, I had a friend ask me what inspired me. She was referring specifically to my writing, and I had no answer for her. Her question really got me thinking, and since that day I’ve started to realize a few things. When I’m in certain places, I get a sudden urge to write a mile a minute. Stories and dialog start forming in my head, and my heart feels like it grows about 4x. My poor husband has to endure all of this and listen to me ooh and ahh and flutter my hands at every. little. thing.
Poor, poor man.
I feed him well though. At least, I try to. Let’s not talk about the homemade hamburger buns I made tonight that turned out to be brick biscuits. Let’s not talk about those.

Let’s talk about what we were talking about before.
The certain places that make me turn into an inspired spazz. Those places? Antique stores. Used book stores. Old hotels. Old buildings. Abandoned buildings. Museums. Old movies.
In short: the past.

As I climbed onto the old train to ride The Polar Express last night, I gawked at the old metals, the old railings, the old green upholstery. I told my husband in all seriousness that I wanted to be left alone with the train. He giggled like a school girl. I told him I didn’t mean it like THAT.
He didn’t care.

Really, if there hadn’t been a Singing Nazi “Chef” and an intercom and a HUGE crowd… if there had only been me and an old train and my handy dandy laptop, I would have gathered enough inspiration to father a short story. Do you think antique shop owners will judge me if I hunker down in their shops with my personal computer?
“Can we help you, miss?”
“Oh, yes… since you ask,” I’d say, “Do you know what the economy was like in the 40’s? I mean… roughly?”
They’d throw me out on my yoga pants.

I’m enamored with the past. I’m obsessed with keeping it, preserving it, enjoying it, teaching it, learning from it, making it, making it up, writing about it… Really, my heart flutters at the thought of it.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the past doesn’t just inspire my writing, it inspires nearly every creative facet of my life. My house isn’t decorated much at all. I know I should be working harder on this, but I have a hang up.
Lack of money aside, I have a hang up.
I want my home decor to remind me of the past. In my kitchen, I have a small spattering of vintage potholders. One was lovingly crocheted by Aunt Minnie who has since passed away. I attempted to imitate it and plastered everything I came up with on the wall, and I love it! Something deep inside tells me I decorate like a 97 year old woman, but something deeper inside me tells me to GO with it. Right under the pot holders on top of my cupboards I have a wooden milk crate. My grandpa (Organ Grandpa) used to run a local dairy. It was THE REAL ITEM… they delivered milk in bottles to doorsteps and everything! I keep a milk crate and a few of the bottles on display in my kitchen. Every time I look at them, it puts a bounce in my step.
My great-grandmother’s unused copper kettle hangs in my kitchen.

I’m slowly accumulating these things, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’m a pushover for the past.
And as of last night -thanks be to Dad for the tickets -I finally pinpointed what inspires me. Bring on the antique malls! The history books! The journals! The faded pictures! Flood my floor and let me roll about in them like a dog!

Okay, I don’t mean that.
I mean, even if I DID I wouldn’t come out and SAY it. Not out LOUD like that…

The Polar Express

When my Dad had five of his six kids, he decided to take us on the Grand Canyon Railway.  When my Dad had six of his six kids and two of them were married, he decided to take us on the Grand Canyon Railway.

When my Dad had six of his six kids and three of them were married and producing grandchildren, he decided to take us on the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express.

My husband had to take a lat minute trip (seven hours round trip) for work, and we were afraid he’d miss the train. But he made it because he’s the CHAMP of all CHAMPS.
Outside the train depot they had horse-drawn buggies.

They were pulled by clysdales. The kids weren’t too impressed. After all, it wasn’t anything they hadn’t seen before.
(Thanks to Grandpa for the ride and thanks to Steve for the picture.)

The old-fashioned train we rose on had seat that you could switch to face each other. I had a heck of time annoying my family to get two seats facing each other for our little family of four to sit in when what turned out happening was my children sat with us for all of two seconds before giving us faces like this:
And begging for Grandpa.
Our family of four soon turned into a family of three.
And, shortly thereafter… two. My husband and I had two seats to ourselves and my parents ended up with one seat for four.
As the train went to the North Pole, “chefs” came around and handed out cookies and hot cocoa “made by Mrs. Clause.” After we had eaten our cookie and finished off our cocoa, they played a reading of “The Polar Express” over the train intercom and the “Chefs” walked around showing us the illustrations in the book.
They had real chef clothes and everything.

Soon after the reading was over, we arrived at The North Pole. We didn’t get out, mind you. We were instructed to stay on the train and simply look out the window.
And what did we see?
Lights! Lights! Thousands of lights! And little workshops! And then…

I couldn’t get a picture because the flash would reflect off the train window. But he was there, and I surely believed he would be.
I must also mention to the non-believers that Santa was -in real fact -a real man standing out there in the cold. I think my husband should share the “champ” title with him.
Just as we passed the North Pole,the train stopped and started backing up. The kids were thrilled to be able to see Santa once again.

“Santa? Where are you?” My son asked. But as we passed back by, he was GONE. My son didn’t give up looking for him and only looked away from the window to give us this face:o
And ask, “Where’s Santa?”
After a few agonizing minutes, a “chef” got on the intercom and announced that Santa was on the train! The downside? We had to sing until he got there. The worst part? If you didn’t sing, they made you take the microphone and sing in front of everyone on Train Compartment “I”. The entire lot of us help up our little paper songbooks and dutifully sang (or lip synced) as the Song Nazi Chef made her rounds, pulling up obstinate train-riders who refused to sing and sending them to the front of the group.
I guess we finally sang loud enough because…

He CAME! Santa came onto the train! He stopped to visit with every single child and give them a very special gift.

“Don’t ever lose it,” he told them, “It’s very special.”

And here’s a picture thrown in for a good laugh…
After Santa left, the train soon came to a stop back at the depot. We all climbed off the train and grouped together in front of a painted sign. A kind passer-by offered to take our picture, and we let him. He did such a good job we nearly tracked him down to pay him.
There’s ALL of us (minus one angel grandchild, Laynee). And the best news of all is that that picture will become outdated as of Julyish 2011… my sister in law’s got a bun in the oven!

As we walked through the depot, perused the gift shop, and left without buying anything, my daughter absolutely BROKE DOWN in tears. When I asked her what was wrong, she let me know.
“I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE!” She said. I know you shouldn’t reward a child when they throw a fit. I know that giving them what they want when they bawl for it isn’t in good parenting practice.
They will be the undoing of my husband. They will be the undoing of me. Someday, I believe they will be the undoing of the entire world.
Minutes later, we were back in the gift shop. The boy bought a little toy train. The girls bought a bag of rocks. And we all drove home happy.
The only failure of the entire trip? The elf hat I made Dad. I added his brand to it in hopes he would keep it on. He tolerated my foolishness for one picture.
It was a hat made to custom fit a cowboy hat. Very legit. But he passed it on to my little brother Jim who became instantly attached. I strongly believe that my Dad actually really really REALLY wanted it bad, but he knew it would break my poor brother’s heart if he tried taking it away.
Yeah, that’s what happened.

Thank you for a GREAT experience, Dad!!!!!! We all loved it, and you are the best. We stopped on the way out to take a picture of the old train they have sitting by the station. When I looked at it, I remembered the first time we rode the Grand Canyon Railway as a family. We all posed in front of the old train for a picture. I wore floral tights. This is a bad picture, but it’s still worth posting on account of the memory it gave me.

Organ Lessons from Grandpa

Tonight for Family Home Evening, we took the kids over to grandma and grandpa’s house for an organ lesson.  My grandpa is a great organ player.  I’ve been wanting to get lessons from him for awhile now, but I’ve most always got a child attached to my hip!  My kiddos are old enough now to let me sit next to Grandpa and learn a little here and there.

Grandpa is a smart cowboy, and I love watching his thick callused fingers glide over the organ keys.

That’s a short clip of grandpa playing “Crying Time.” He said he’s played it for a couple funerals. After he finished “Crying Time,” he played “Waterloo” -another funeral favorite. I told him he made funerals sounds like not-so-bad an idea.

One of the great things about Grandpa is the way I can always count on him to be watching Lawrence Welk on Saturday evening. I like to stop in when I can and watch it with him. Aside from the costuming, the music is rather good.

Grandpa is wonderful. The two hour lesson felt like twenty minutes (probably not to those who had to listen to me try and figure out the pedals).

After Taste

My daughter, the pirate.

When she put this outfit on this afternoon, my son cried out “pirate!” to which she replied, “I certainly am.”

We pulled her dress-up clothes out after we wrote some thank you notes. We’ve never written thank you notes for Christmas gifts before, and I felt like we should. She really has been enjoying every single gift 100%, and I thought it would be fun to sit down with her and write some notes. I would dictate to her.
“Write the letter T.” I would say.
“How is T?” She’d ask. After the first few cards, she had it figured out. After she’d written “Thank you” across the top, I’d write whatever she told me to. She would start out sweet… really sweet.
So sweet I’d nearly tear up over the wonderfulness of it all. Then she’d hit me with something else.

“Thank you for being you.” Aww…
“Tripe,” Ewww…

The backward “N” was too cute not to capture.
In her thank you note to my grandparents, she said “Thank you for being you. Thank you for F.”
I’m sure they’ll really take that to heart. I mean, really… who wouldn’t?

As I made dinner, I asked her what she wanted to do for her 4th birthday in a few weeks. She wants a square rainbow cake. I asked her who she wanted at her party.
“Everyone!” She cried out, “Just everyone at my party!”
She began naming off her cousins one by one. It was so adorable. She really wanted to share her birthday with everyone. I thought about how sweet it was for all of three seconds before she hit me with
“Just not you. I just want everyone to be at my party and you can leave.”

I might have cried my eyes out had I not been thrown into a fit of laughter.

I sent her away to watch a movie. This year, she asked Santa for a “DDD” player, and he delivered. Luckily, he had a spare one still in the box in his closet.
Santa also managed to finagle a small television set for her. Since Santa came to visit, our regular TV has been neglected. Dormant. (Dare I say it?) Replaced.

That’s right, our bigger, clearer, surround sound television and DVD player have been replaced with a teensy TV and teensy DDD player. We haven’t finished setting them up in the kids’ room yet, and I went into the living room to find this.

Look at them, bordering on Amish.
Lucky devils.

Notice I wasn’t invited…
So I left.

Confessions: Post-Holiday Edition

#1) I love hot chocolate, but every time I indulge I find myself washing it down with at least 46 ounces of freezing cold water.  Yes, hot cocoa makes me thirsty -so thirsty I’d consider hocking my kidney for cool, clear water.  And yet, I still find myself guzzling the elixir of winter at least three times a week.  Okay, five.

#2) I went looking for my son on Christmas afternoon and couldn’t find him anywhere.  I really couldn’t.  Just before my instincts hit the PANIC button, I found him.
He was almost 100% camouflaged by the wrapping paper, toys, chocolates… packages, boxes and bags!

#3) Tony Stark fathered my children. Evidenced here:

And here:

#4) On Christmas Eve, I got up before the sun and dashed away to Wal-Mart where I beat the crowd (yay!) and spent the entirety of our food budget plus $2 on last-minute Christmas items such as chocolate and chocolate chips and white chocolate. On the drive home, I stopped off at Mom’s for some fresh eggs. Once home, my husband set to making a Christmas Eve Feast of a Breakfast. While our backs were turned, our son (Spawn #2 of Iron Man) snuck an egg. He proceeded to crack it on the kitchen floor. Instead of harassing him for stealing, I took a picture. His first cracked egg, and he didn’t even break the yoke! Of COURSE I had to capture it. My first cracked egg went down the front of my mom’s blender and down the front of my mom’s kitchen cabinets and all over my mom’s kitchen floor. And I was 8! He’s TWO! I’d love nothing more than to post evidence, but my husband imported the picture to a currently inaccessible file. But wait for it, and prepare to be dazzled.

#5) We slept in until 8 on Christmas morning.

#6) I’ve never seen “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

#7) I have a celebrity crush on The Old Man, dadgummit.

#8) I don’t read books. There. I said it. Recently, facebook was hit with a list of books that apparently not many people have read. The idea was: you were supposed to go through the list and then report back to all of your adoring facebook fans JUST how many books you had read. I wished I could have read the list and come off conquerer. Instead, I came off pathetic. The Harry Potter Series? Nope. I ditched that darkfest somewhere in the middle of book three. A Christmas Carol? I’m ashamed to say… never. I’ve never read it. I’ve seen about eleventy million movie versions though. I haven’t read the Twilight series. I haven’t read The Hunger Games. One solitary Stansfield book aside, I haven’t read any LDS fiction. I have to tell you this because I think I give the impression that I do read when, in fact, I don’t. It isn’t that I don’t like to read. I’m constantly picking up quote books and perusing my book full of Frost poetry, but those are books that don’t require bookmarks of any kind! I can pick them up and put them down at will without ever having to WAIT to find out what happens next.

Two summers ago, I read a nonfiction book and loved it so much that I recommended it to Granny. She told me she’d look into it after Christmas.
“I only read during the week after Christmas,” she said, “What did you do last year during the week after Christmas?” she asked. I had no answer for her -I was completely baffled.
“No one can answer that question,” she said, “No one seems to know what they do during that time. No one even takes the time to write in their journals what they do during that week because apparently they don’t do anything. Since I’m not going to remember what I do anyway that week, I take it to read.”

Her reasoning is sound -very sound.

And yet… and yet… Santa brought me something better than a book. And don’t go guessing “A KINDLE?!” because I’ll scratch my eyes out over the prospect of library books becoming extinct.
No, no. He brought me a lap top.

And so we go #9) We’re on number nine, right? I could just scroll up and find out but I’d rather not. I’m actually doing good to just type what I’m typing now on my new keyboard. I’m afraid if I try to scroll, I’ll delete something monumental (like that uber hot picture of Darren McGavin). It turns out I will be spending the week after Christmas WRITING. My heart should like to leap out of my chest! (Mostly because I keep feeding it fatty holiday food, but that’s another Resolution post for another day. In the meantime, I just posted mom’s orange roll recipe on the cooking page. Delve on over.)

Christmas Face

I snapped a picture as my daughter began opening her first Christmas present this morning.

The picture utterly reeks of gladness.  It embodies the magic of Christmas morning, something that I realized about two nights ago… I have completely lost all feeling for.

Yes, about two nights ago I nearly had a Holiday meltdown, complete with whine and topped with pity.  I was stressed and tired and hungry, and wondering WHY I let myself get that way every dang year.

As I looked through the pictures I snapped this morning, I was reminded of EXACTLY why I do it to myself every dang year.Because it turns out that Christmas magic isn’t something you lose… it’s simply something you pass on.

(Thanks, Mom)

Hard Work and One Spectactular Weekend!

In my last post, I mentioned that I was burning the candle at both ends and then I fell off the face of the earth.

Not having time to sit and blog is surely one of life’s little annoyances -at least it is for me.  Taking time to sit and write about life’s everyday occurrences is something I really look forward to.  Today, I have mounds of crafting to do before Christmas, but I just had to sit down and write.

The last day I blogged was my husband’s 30th birthday.  We didn’t do very much to celebrate because I had super-de-duper secret plans in the works that had taken up ALL of my spending cash.  I did manage to get a cheesecake together and take it to his work, which I told him I would do.  He told me not to because they might be busy, so I shelved the plan.  Then he called me the morning of his birthday and told me to go ahead with the plan.

I sighed a great sigh because I filled my day with other plans on account of his CANCELLING his birthday cheesecake.  Instead of saying “GAH!” I said, “I love you.”

He read the “GAH!” through my tone.

The cheesecake was made and delivered in the end.

That evening, we had the opportunity to watch our daughter perform in her first EVER tumbling meet.
As the class began their stretching, the teacher would have the go through that actions of “making cookies” in a way that would stretch their little bodies out.
“What are you going to put on your cookie?” She’d ask the students, one by one.
“Jelly beans!”
And then there was my daughter’s reply…

To finish up their stretching, the teacher had them turn into “rocket ships” and “fly” different places.
“Where do you want to fly?” The teacher would ask the students, one by one.
“The ice cream store!”
And then there was my daughter’s answer:
“The Land of Oz!”

She waited patiently on the wall between routines.

First she did a floor routine, then a beam routine, and lastly: a trampoline routine. Her beam routine:

The next day, Thursday, was the only day I had to get things done before we left to start celebrating my husband’s big birthday bash, and I was busy from sun up to 1 AM.
I made monkeys and cleaned and cleaned monkeys.

I had to get them finished before we left because I wanted to deliver them to their rightful owners. Once I got those three done, I started on another one. He’s the cute little guy on the far left.
I wanted to try and give him a persona before I gave him away to my husband’s brother. He’s an unabashed monkey lover, and I’d joked with him earlier about making an Adolf Hitler-themed monkey. I decided to give it a try.
First came the ‘stash and angry eyes.

Then came the authoritative black hat with hand-stitched swastika.

Then I stitched his arm up at a permanent angle.
Then I took a picture of my children stuffing their shirts with the monkey stuffing.
“Santa Clause!” They cried out, “Santa!”

Then I added the armband.
Not so cute now…
But definitely worth the time it took to make it!

I wrapped and packed the monkeys that night. Hitler Monkey was packed up with a pair of homemade monkey pajama pants that I had also made that day and which I was tempted to put on and never take off.
Ahhh….. PJ pants.
We woke up early on Friday morning and packed the car up. By lunchtime, we were at Aunt Darah’s house. We dropped our kids off and turned right back around. We drove two hours in another directions to get to my husband’s secret birthday spot.

The England House.

My husband took me there for our anniversary in September, and he hadn’t stopped talking about it since.
As we crawled in bed one night, he started talking about it again.
“How badly do you want to go back?” I asked.
“Real bad,” he answered, “Just as soon as we can.”
So I started working hard. I babysat, I crocheted, I made aprons, I taught preschool and piano lessons, I played piano at the high school… and somehow it all came together.

I was also able to snag us reservations at my husband’s favorite restaurant, The Cottage Place. It’s been voted the best in town for years. Before checking into our room, I had my husband stop off at Wal-Mart so I could pick up some much needed cosmetics. I ended up spending $40 all at once because I hadn’t bought eye shadow or mascara in months. I put off buying these kinds of things, you know, on account of money. Then I have to buy them all at once and I end up needing to really spend a hunk of money, so I turn to Wal-Mart instead of JC Penney. Besides, if you get eye shadow, you need to get glitter. And if you get glitter for your eyes, you should probably buy the shimmery body lotion.
And then you’ll probably end up hating yourself for it all once they ring you up.
But only if you’re a cheapie like me. However, I HAD to have that crap! I haven’t been able to get dressed up for a date in ages!

As I got dressed and ready for dinner, my husband tried to visit with me. He didn’t do a very good job on account of the headache he’d had for four days straight. He was quiet and tired -I felt really bad for him, and I hoped that he would start to enjoy his weekend getaway as much as I was able to enjoy it.
We pulled up to The Cottage Place a few minutes before our reservation time. They were running behind, but it didn’t bother us at all. We didn’t have anywhere to be, and we didn’t mind waiting.
We ended up waiting so long that the restaurant management gave us a complimentary appetizer.
Four of the FATTEST shrimp I’ve ever seen!
They were swimming in anchovie sauce, which I thought would disgust me out of my brains, but it was SO good that my husband and I literally mopped up every speck up sauce with our complimentary bread.
Our meals arrived shortly thereafter. He got the artichoke chicken and I had the seafood pasta. My dish was filled with a few more of the fattest shrimp I have ever seen, soft scallops, and the best salmon I’ve ever EVER had! I’d never tasted anything like it.

The restaurant put us up in a cozy corner table -very cut off from the rest of the restaurant. We were surrounded on two sides by window panes that let us watch as soft snowflakes started to fall outside. I watched as my husband’s mood lightened, and I was so glad that we had come. He fed me his chicken and I fed him my seafood, and we were so full we couldn’t muster room for dessert (probably because we had each eaten six hot wings a few hours prior).
LOOK at those SHRIMP!

My dish, my dish, my dish…

After we were filled to the brim with holiday cheer and OUTSTANDING food, the waitress snapped our picture.
You can’t see it, but I’m wearing heels. I never, ever wear heels so I had to make note of it. At 5’8″, I never, ever heels. Especially because the man I’m sporting is 5’11” (but if he asks, tell him I told you he’s not an inch short of 6 foot).

We pulled back into The England House around 11 pm, and snow was falling all around. I snapped a picture of the back of the house.

I loved the way the camera’s flash reflected off the snowflakes. We nestled into our soft, warm bed and SLEPT SO HARD. When we woke up, there was a soft covering of snow.
The England House was decorated for Christmas, and there was a big, beautiful REAL tree in the front parlor. It hadn’t quite been decorated, but it was so full and fragrant that I had keep from hugging it. The best part? They paid $20 for it. $20! For the best BEST tree I’d ever laid eyes on!

Before we checked in, I could smell that tree from the porch outside. As the owner opened the door, the smell of Christmas wafted around us, and we settled comfortably into “vacation mode.”
Breakfast on Saturday morning was delicious. My body was still digesting dinner from the night before, but I was powerless to resist breakfast. Powerless.
Banana crumble served in a ramekin and a baked egg souffle!

As we ate, a fire crackled in the fire place next to us, and snow continued to fall in large downy snowflakes. The flickering taper candles on our table topped the atmosphere off perfectly.

Our second stay at The England House was as perfect and picturesque as the first. Of course we’ll go back. Of course we’ll love it. Of course the owners will treat us like we belong there. Of course I’ll be responsible for eating most of the chocolate in the candy dish set out in the kitchen.

Here’s the back of the house after the snow.

I love nothing more than escaping reality with my husband. Our reality is really as good as it gets, but it’s still nice to sneak away now and then.
One of the greatest things about The England House is that the rooms don’t have televisions in them. No television means we spend more time talking and more time listening. By the end of our stay, we’re always 100% reminded of why we got married, why we’ll stay married, and why we’ll be back to visit The England House again and again.

After checking out, my husband and I were able to get some Christmas shopping done. We hadn’t shopped together at all this season, and we won’t be able to again -so we had a GREAT time wandering the aisles of Target. By this point in the weekend, my husband’s headache was nearly gone and he was back to his teasing self. I couldn’t get ENOUGH of him!
We bought the kids all sorts of little goodies here and there -nothing too expensive because we’re poor as church mice these days. Luckily, the kids are too little to notice or care.
The drive home was peaceful.
Then the drive home got foggy.
Then the drive home got REALLY foggy.

I kept joking to my husband that I felt like Russel Crowe in Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World.
“I feel like we’re going to get hit on the port side at any given second,” I said. Then I’d imitate a sailor’s whistle.
Then he’d turn his podcast up.

We made it back to Aunt Darah’s house much later than I had anticipated, and I can’t express my THANKS enough for what she did for us! She made it possible for my husband to have the best birthday yet.
I was able to pay for all of it which my husband felt more than a little weird about, but it was SO nice to be able to take care of him for a change! I almost forgot to take my wallet with me just about everywhere we went because I’m so used to him paying, but it was 100% worth all of the work that went into it.
Which -by the by -still isn’t done. I’ve got loads of monkey socks waiting for me on the couch and two little kids that both woke up with coughs and cute croaky voices.

Here’s to a day filled with humidifiers, orange juice, sock monkey stuffing, and a traditional family sing-a-long tonight that I will be attending solo.
Thanks in advance to the husband who has agreed to stay home with the kids so I can play and sing tonight!

Later on tomorrow, I’ll blog about our family get togethers. Last night, we met at Aunt Lil’s house for a smashing Christmas dinner with the tastiest bruschetta this mama’s evah had.
Tune in tomorrow (the other side of three sock monkeys).

I Can’t Wait To Get Up in the Morning and Do it All Over Again

I’m burning my candle at both ends right now.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  I’m sure there’s a million people burning their candle at both ends this time of year.  I don’t mind it because it is only once a year…what I DO mind is the way my kids seem to be melting my candle from the middle on out.


For the first time since she was a baby, my daughter threw a SCREAMING fit last night.  When she was a baby, I would let her know that throwing a SCREAMING fit was completely unacceptable.  Last night, I let it go.  I know that she knew throwing a screaming fit was naughty.  Besides, she was just trying to get some negative attention and I wasn’t about to give it to her.  Here’s was happened: I had spent the day working hard on projects and as I worked, my children slowly tore the house down.  Then we went shopping.  Whilst shopping, I bought the supplies for the kids to paint a shirt for their Daddy -who is the BIG 30 today.  My daughter was dying to paint.  She had told me weeks ago that she was going to paint a shirt for Daddy for his birthday.  She asked a million times over if it was time to paint.  I told her she could paint as soon as the house was picked up.

“Make it brand new,” I said, putting it in her terms.  She likes to call clean rooms “brand new.”

“Alright,” she’d say, and promptly get distracted.

“Make it brand new so you can paint,” I’d remind her.

“I’m going to,” she’d say and promptly get distracted.

Finally, the hour of reckoning came.  I had asked her and asked her and asked her.  She was not obeying.  She was not listening.  I had warned her that if she didn’t clean not only would she not get to paint… she would have to go to bed.

The clock struck 9 pm, and I broke the news to her: she had to go to bed.  No painting.

She was devastated.  I asked her if she knew why she was being sent to bed without painting.

“Because I didn’t obey,” she said, through tears.  Watching my sweet girl cry is enough to break me, but I knew I had to stay strong and follow through.  I put her in bed and went to the couch to stitch another sock monkey.  My husband curled up on the floor next to me and put a movie in.

“I don’t wanna go to bed,” she wailed from her bedroom, “I don’t wanna go to my bed!  I don’t LIKE my bed!  And I’m MAD AT YOU MAMA!  And I’m MAD AT YOU DADDY!  And I don’t LIKE MY BED AND I DON’T LIKE MY KITCHEN AND I DON’T LIKE MY ROOM AND I DON’T LIKE THE VACUUM!  AND I DON’T LIKE EVERYTHING!!!!!”

At this point, my husband and I both chuckled.

“We’re in trouble,” he said.

“Sounds like it,” I agreed.

Her screaming woke her brother up.  He screamed.  She screamed.

“I’m about to put a stop to this,” my husband said.  I begged him not to.

“Please…” I said, “Let’s let it play out.  She’s dying for us to go in there and we can’t do it.  She knows what she did wrong.”

He agreed.


Again my husband and I started to chuckle.  She sounded so irrational, and it was sorta cute.

“MY ROOM IS BUMPY!” She screamed.

Soon enough, she came out.

“I don’t wanna go to bed because,” she choked on her sobs, “I just wanna stay awake and I don’t need my room.”

“Honey,” I said, “Why did mom put you in bed?”

“Because I didn’t obey,” her crying came back full force.

“That’s right.  And you need to go back to bed now, and you KNOW that screaming like that is very naughty.  You had better stop it before you get a spanking.”

She wailed and went back into her room.  A few minutes later, she was sounds asleep.  A few minutes after that, her father was sound asleep.

An hour and a half later, I crawled into bed.  I closed my eyes and started to drift off when I heard little feet outside my bedroom door.

“I just don’t NEED my bed,” a little voice whispered.  Because she had learned her lesson, and because I would die if I didn’t get any sleep, I took her to the couch where she loves to sleep.

Again, I rehearsed to her why she got in trouble.

“When you wake up, you WILL pick this house up,” I said.

“Okay,” she smiled up at me, forgiving as always.

I got her a drink of milk and crawled back in bed.  A couple hours later, my son woke up screaming for me.

I don’t know WHY they’re into screaming lately.  Usually they just fuss, but lately they’ve been screaming outright.  I got up, scooped him into my arms, snuggled down with him in his sister’s bed, and we both went to sleep.  Thirty minutes later, my alarm went off in the other room.  I hopped up to turn it off before it woke up THE BIRTHDAY BOY, but it was too late.

It woke him up.

And I got up so fast it woke my son up.

He followed me into my room and proceeded to crawl all over me.

“I needa gwink a’ milk,” he said.  Over and over and over.

Finally he crawled down and fell asleep on the floor.

I woke up exhausted.

I will spend the day exhausted.

I will go to bed exhausted.

Tis the season.

My little candle melters: