Monday, December 21, 2009

Flying South

Adios, amigos. We're outta here.
Trading snow boots for sunglasses and hot cocoa for hot salsa. Santa made an early stop at our house and filled the Christmas stockings with colored pencils and hand-sanitizer and bubble gum for the cross-country plane ride. We are ready for take off.
I love that the kids are excited for some new traditions. Brad can't wait to taste his mom's holiday cooking. I'm just hoping for peace and sunshine. Maybe a couple of really good books and some grapefruit picked right off the tree.
Merry Christmas, everybody. Will be back in twenty-ten.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Amazing what a little sprinkling can do to change things up.

Kids, who haven't wanted to play outside since the leaves blew away, are all sporting red, chappy cheeks after a day in Winter Wonderland. The Lands End snowpants have been broken in. Marshmallows have been toasted in the fireplace. Some of us have stayed in pajamas all day.

I can't think of anything more heavenly than watching four snow angels through a frosted windowpane while packing a suitcase full of t-shirts and swimsuits. Talk about the best of both worlds. I'll sing White Christmas this weekend but hum Feliz Navidad the rest of the week. Cannot wait.

And Mother Nature reminded me again today that moms set the mood. With a little magic fairy dust, a mother can cast a spell. Hush a crowd and soften rough edges.

I did a little sprinkling of my own today. Glitter playdo--a double batch. Enough for the kindergarten holiday party and some to keep in Santa's Workshop.

Glitter Playdo
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 cups water
4 tsp. cream of tartar
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Stir in medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat. Mixture will get lumpy and form a large ball in the center of the pan. Add two tablespoons of glitter. Knead to desired consistency. Keep in airtight container.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ghost Stories

Charles Dickens knew that December was the perfect time for a good ghost story. While I'm not usually a fan of the genre, this month I've read two ghost stories and liked 'em both.

One was deliciously creepy and enjoyable.

The other was deliciously silly and enjoyable.

Both are set in London. (My favorite fiction setting!)
Both will probably be made into chick flicks. (Jude Law, call your agent.)
Both provided much-needed spirited distraction from the scariness of daily life.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Children Want to be Jewish and Other Yuletide Reflections

This week just about everyone in our neighborhood is celebrating Hanukkah. Including us. We've lit the menorah and spun the dreidels. We've eaten the chocolate coins. But it is not good enough. My kids want presents. Eight nights' worth to be exact.

I keep reminding them that Santa will come soon and that, anyway, we believe in Jesus and want to open presents on His birthday. And, don't get me wrong, the kids love Jesus and Christmas. Of course.

But it's really hard to compete with the brand new air hockey table next door. Oy.


Tonight I was helping Jake with spelling homework, thinking up sentences for his words. I like to kill two birds with one stone and throw in a little moral lesson with my sentences.

Word: Voluntarily
My sentence: The boy voluntarily let his sister have the first ice cream sandwich and made his mother very happy.

Jake's response: Yeah. Like when did that ever happen?

Word: Enviable
Jake's sentence: He had an enviable scar.
Me: Really? I don't think people envy scars, do they?
Jake: Mom, you've got to start thinking like a guy.



We are doing our annual Christmas card map and have received cards from thirteen different states! As well as Vietnam and Venezuela! Marking the map makes me very happy. So does reading the cards and looking at the photos. Thank you to everyone who has sent us holiday cheer.

We need more Midwest and Southern states represented, though. If you happen to live in those wonderful geographic regions and have an extra stamp, please send us something. A postcard is fine. Thank you.


Tonight was Family Night. And, I am happy to report, no one was hurt during the game portion of the evening's activities. This is rare.

Luke, however, did need to excuse himself to apply several Go Diego Go bandaids in the course of Jake's (extremely hands-on) lesson about The True Meaning of Christmas.

He might be lucky and get an enviable scar.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Santa's Workshop

Here are our kitchen craft cubbies. They usually sit against the wall and hold stuff.

Here is the kids' craft table. Usually covered with games or coloring papers. Christmastime, I fill the cubbies up with all sorts of crafting goodies.
Except for glitter...of course. Because it ruins my Christmas spirit.
Cheap toys, paints, kits from the dollar store.
Lots of envelopes, glue, tape (my kids are ADDICTED to tape).

And then, I move the cubbies and make a "secret corner."
And, voila! Santa's Workshop! The perfect place for little elves to get busy.
(Somehow, "Ooooh, go make a surprise in Santa's Workshop!" sounds a lot better than,
"Can't you just get out of here and leave me alone?!!")

p.s. My kids wrap all their presents in aluminum foil. Less frustrating. And no tape necessary.
Unless, of course, you are addicted to tape.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kindergarten Love

"I never see you anymore," my friend said at a Christmas party last weekend. "What are you doing with yourself these days?"

"One word." I told her. "Kindergarten."

Yes, kindergarten. No, I am not teaching kindergarten. I am not even attending kindergarten. But if you have two kids in afternoon kindergarten, it officially becomes the center of your universe.

We spend all morning Getting Ready for Kindergarten. There's not really enough time to go for a playdate or run more than one major errand. Several changes of clothing are involved. Also, people are starving. All the time. Which means apple slicing, peanut butter spreading, cracker crumbing, countertop wiping and more changes of clothing.

Then, no matter how early we start or how organized I am, we somehow are always Rushing to Catch the Bus. I am old-fashioned and don't believe in driving to the bus stop unless the weather is really really really bad. So we walk, we bike, we scoot, we fall, we get muddy, we collect sticks and we climb trees. It is quite a production.

By the time the boys climb into the bus, I am very relieved that no one has broken an arm. I wave and give the twins our "secret sign" as they look through the window. Then I chat with my neighbor, Sue, for a few minutes. We solve several world problems and then I walk slowly home dragging a Razor Spark scooter and a red two-wheeler behind me.

My official kindergarten title is Room Mom. Kindergarten room mom at our school is responsible for lining up parent helpers for Kidwriting each day. Which means I am constantly bugging the parents with emails and phone calls. Or doing Kidwriting in the classroom. Or watching another mom's toddlers so she can go do Kidwriting.

I am always happy when it's my turn to help out. I love elementary school. I loved attending. I loved teaching. I love construction paper and the smell of school lunch (usually).

When I walk into the classroom, the kids are so happy to see me. Nothing is better for one's self-esteem than Kindergarten Love. After hanging with a bunch of eye-rolling teenagers in Seminary every morning, walking into kindergarten is like stepping into a warm bubble bath. They fight to sit next to me! They call out my name! They like my red hoodie! I feel like the Star of the Week.

The truth is my seminary students are not a whole lot different than a group of kindergartners. Both enjoy snacks, stories, sitting by their friends. Both need frequent reminders to stay on task and stop chatting. Both think life is exciting and extremely difficult at the same time. They are right.

As much as I complain about the daily inconveniences of kindergarten, the truth is that I am going to really miss it next year. No more morning buddies to ride in a firetruck shopping cart and embarass me at the grocery store. No more Kidwriting. No more Star of the Week.

But, thankfully, there is no time to worry about that now. It's time to start Rushing to Catch the Bus!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Face Off is my carbface after 10 days of "watching it." A little less puffy? Maybe? Holding a camera over my chubby side helps. This week I have had my face in boxes of Christmas ornaments, the screens at and a jumbo jar of Vicks VapoRub. My December cold returns.

Of course, this face eats 3x what mine does and look at it. Not a carb to be seen. This face will light up if you ask its owner to share his thoughts on college football and BCS selections. He has opinions, people.

Ahhh...this face. It has saved its owner from all kinds of spankings and time-outs. Dimples as defense. This face has been within an inch of the under-the-tree-Christmas-train all week. Choo choo.

This face tries so hard to be tough. Mostly to cover up the softie within. This one likes to face the music. Particularly the John Denver/Muppets Christmas CD which is playing non-stop around here

This young one has his holiday game face on. Christmas shopping all done? Check. With money he earned himself? Check. Outstanding report card? Check. Santa has noticed.

The face of a snow-angel. We had our first dusting of white stuff this weekend. Just enough to sled in for a few hours before all melting away. Beautiful.

Christmas? I think we can face it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And We're Off...

The Sleigh Race--Currier & Ives

I always feel, the first week of December, that I am coming out of the starting gate to compete in some twenty-five day steeplechase. I don't know why. It's not like there's some great prize for the first one with lights strung or tree decorated or cards stamped.

And the obstacles on the course are self-made. Really. No one else in my family cares whether the ribbons on the banister garland are spaced evenly. Or if the nutcracker collection looks balanced on the mantlepiece. But these simple obsessions are pleasurable in their way and my little elves indulge me.

This year, the decorating plan was going to be Christmas Lite. Since we're flying south for the festivities, I had promised to leave the baubles in the basement. But ladies, you know, there is no greater motivation to pull out all the holiday stops than 65 of your closest friends coming over on Thursday for the Relief Society Progressive Dinner.

Needless to say it looks like an evergreen explosion around here. But I love it.

Now we are in full jingle at our house. The wreath is hung. The tree is lit. And seasonal music is blasting every chance we get. (Celine Dion and I sang a lovely duet--O Come All Ye Faithful--on the way to the dollar store today. Too bad you missed it.)

Am now looking forward to Christmas cards, candy making, cookie exchanges and collapsing in a heap on my in-laws' driveway December 22nd.
**If you want to see what my house looks like, click here. Add two years' worth of aging to everyone (except me, of course) and you will get the general idea.
**Coming Soon: The Carbface Report
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