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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
After I dropped Alex at the bus stop this morning I came home and read the paper while I looked out at this:
I thought about how nice it would be to stay home and make Christmas cookies and watch the snow fall. Turns out, I really should have done that, because maybe I wouldn't have ended up like this:
My head hurts, my back hurts, my knee hurts, I feel like puking. While I try to make sense of it I am very grateful I had no passengers with me since both windows on the passenger side are smashed out.
For now, I'll go with that as the silver lining.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, December 10, 2007
Like many families, we enjoy the traditional ride around town looking at the Christmas lights. It always amazes me how some people really put a lot of time and effort into their displays.
Throughout my entire childhood, my parents and I would load up into our little pickup truck and drive around my hometown looking at the lights. Most were mediocre but we always saved the best for last.
The best was a small flower shop. Through its cottage windows you could peer into a Christmas extravaganza of moving figurines, poinsettas, trains, flying airplanes, and blinking lights. Beginning at the very back of the store there were layers upon layers of Christmas eye-candy. My favorite were a set of moving figurines acting out the "Gift of the Magi"; the girl cutting her hair and the boy holding a barrett. To this day it's my favorite Christmas story.
My favorite flower shop took out a big ad in the newspaper a few years back. Seems some idiot stole some of those decorations and the family decided to end the Christmas display. To this day it brings tears of rage to my eyes.
Last week Soren and I had to go to the store after dark. He pointed and asked "Wuzdat?" at a particularly bright house on the hill. "Christmas lights" I said. I was super excited that he was excited and carefully stalked all the bright houses in my neighborhood. I made certain to drive slowly weaving back and forth from one side of the street to the other so he could see from his side of the car. Each time we'd come to one he's shout, "Itsmas lights itsmas lights."
And this year we saved the best for last. We featured 727 Galaxy Drive in our Sunday Westlife and I wanted to get there before everyone else. I bundled up Soren and took him last week. We had the whole house to ourselves. I got him out of the car, turned up the radio, and stood on the sidewalk. Every time Santa would light up, he'd scream "Ant Cause Ant Cause." He clapped and he danced on the Mac Millan's sidewalk. He cried when the show was over so I let him watch it twice.
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Mac Millan for a beautiful display. I'm glad that my son will have this Christmas memory throughout his lifetime.
If you haven't seen it check it out here
And hey, let's send them cards of thanks. It's the season of giving and not for stealing.
It's a great thing they have going and I for one really appreciate all the work they've put into it. I'd hate to see anything ruin it.
Merry Itsmas Everyone!
Friday, December 7, 2007
I recently read an article that asked women to name the best gifts they ever received, Christmas or otherwise. There were some interesting and touching repsonses. It got me thinking about some of the memorable surprises I've received over the years.
Of course the ones Alex made or even purchased are special treasures that are sentimental favorites. But other favorites include:
1. A Swiss army knife. I use that almost daily for something or other. Every woman needs one in her purse. Just remember to take it out before you get on a plane.
2. A toolbox filled with the basics like pink-handled screw drivers, a hammer, a tape measure, assorted screws and nails. I've added to it over the years but I still want needle nosed pliers.
3. A five pound hunk of my favorite extra-sharp cheddar cheese. Yum!
4. Household upgrades arranged and paid for. Like a heater in a master bathroom rigged to be on when any other heater was on. Something I would never think of but was a great luxury.
5. Five-dollar bills I got in college from my grandfather. I could make them last for a week. Sometimes longer.
What are some of your favs? Any hints to anyone you want us to pass along?
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Everywhere I look, Christmas is there. The sales ads, the Christmas lights and I've experienced a good amount of holiday cheer.
Saturday, found us at that the Christmas tree farm with our dear friends, Rob and Tracee. We tromped around the little tree forest and found two great trees.
From the minute we arrived at the farm, Margaret started asking if we'd be going on the hay ride. We'd done the hay ride the previous two years and she wanted to make it a trifecta. I hemed and hawed and hoped that she'd forget after we picked out the perfect tree.
She didn't forget. But Tracee graciously agreed to accompany Mar and I on the hay ride while Bill and Rob saw to getting the trees loaded on the cars.
I was really glad that Mar wore me down. The day was beautiful and we had a good time riding around the farm basking in the warm December sun.
Here's Mar and Tracee sitting on the hay.
Such pretty girls!
The day was simply gorgeous.
And if Christmas trees and hayrides aren't enough, how about a grade-school Christmas play?
It doesn't get much more festive than that. Can you pick out Margaret?
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
My 2-year-old niece Azure had this mosquito bite near her eye that nearly swelled her eye shut so her mom took her to the doctor.
I asked her "Azure, did you go to the doctor?"
"Yes" she said.
"What did the doctor say?" I asked.
She thought hard for a second and said "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"
I sure set myself up for that one!
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,
One fell off and bumped his head.
Mama called the Doctor and the Doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Last week was seriously crazy. More often than naught my craziness is self inflicted. I try too hard to do too much in too little time.
One of the things that made it crazy was a plan I had with my sister-in-law to make a whole month's food in just one day. Why? So we'd have more time down the road to relax.
First, we sat down to create a menu. Our heads were bigger than our freezers and we had to pare it down to two soups, one kind of casserole, and a mix of various meats and sides.
We went on a late night shopping trip to buy chicken, pork, and steak in bulk. We bought thousands of plastic freezer bags, pounds of onions and frozen veggies.
Saturday morning I woke up at 6 a.m. exhausted from a long night of hour long breastfeeding sessions intermit with 45 minute breaks of dozing time. Then I searched for an hour for Soren's shoe. I got myself worked into a frenzy over this missing shoe and finally had to just take him shoeless as I was an hour late for our scheduled cooking extravaganza.
Thank goodness for an understanding sister-in-law as she already had cooked mashed potatoes, rice, and had a great start on two soups.
I divided up the meat and started adding various spices and sauces. I spooned rice into individual bags and loaded other bags with frozen green beans or corn.
I loaded Soren up for an emergency trip to the store for those last few things we'd forgotten or couldn't get like rotisserie chicken to add to the soups.
I had to stop and take care of the kids at times but my tenacious sister-in-law just kept on a cookin'.
We did a final bagging to divide everything equally. We created meals by placing all our little bags into bigger bags. The combos include pre-cooked taco meat, a small bag of cheddar cheese, and four tortillas (a taco bag), or raw seasoned steak, mashed potatoes, and corn (a steak and potatoes bag.) Quart bags of black bean green chili soup were paired with portions of cornbread or a few tortillas.
By 3:30 p.m. we had 28 complete meals. Final cost $155.00 each and complete exhaustion.
Tonight we are having tabasco pork chops, wild rice, and corn.
Although planning ahead and cooking made my life seriously crazy and hectic last week, the time I'm going to spend watching Rudolph and Frosty with my kids this month is going to be priceless. I may even find some time to bake cookies.
And that damn missing shoe — it was hidden in the salad spinner because you know, who doesn't give their shoes a good spin now and then?
Monday, December 3, 2007
The phone rings and my former-favorite sister Deanne says, “How come you don’t have any Christmas lights?”
“We’re outside your house and it’s dark.”
Duh, that’s cuz it’s night time. So I flick the outside garage lights on and off in rapid succession and I can hear peals of laughter. She’s parked in my driveway with her two boys and one of their friends. They’re out cruising Christmas lights and for some reason figured I, of all people, would have some up.
Regardless of my holiday spirit status, they all come in my house and the boys engage in their favorite game - sliding down my stairs head-first on their bellies. Even Chester their dog, once he figures out how to climb up the stairs, (gingerly, since he is recovering from being "fixed") joins in.
At the end of one slide, my 11-year-old nephew Max informed me that he is an experienced Christmas light putter-upper and volunteers to come help me out. Sounds great to me, so he agrees to come over the next morning to liven up the place.
And thank goodness he did, because I am apparently completely inept at the Christmas light thing. Who knew? Max tried very hard not to laugh at me when I plugged one end of a strand of lights into the other and declared it wasn’t working.
“Um. Aunt Lynn, you might want to plug one end of that into the outlet.”
Yeah, I might.
Max was a great help and he put lights on everything in my front yard that didn’t move. So I invited them all over for dinner so I could redeem myself when they drove up in the dark.
The lights look great and even though I have increased my carbon footprint ten-fold, I’m very happy with the way they look - especially the little blinky ones.
Oh - and here’s a good one. Max’s little brother Sam was sporting a new hooded sweatshirt last night.
“Sam, I like your hoodie. That’s really cool looking,” I told him.
He gets a puzzled look on his face, lifts up his sweatshirt, points to his belly button and says, “I don’t have a hoodie, I have an in-nie!”
Yep. Merry Christmas!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, November 30, 2007
Awww-Christmas! Time to drag the dusty ornaments down from the attic, painstakingly arrange my nutcracker army, cook, clean, shop, eat and complain.
A few weeks ago, I gave both boys a morning bath and dressed them in matching jumpers. I never thought I'd dress them alike but I do get some kind of sick pleasure out of it. I loaded them up in the car and hauled them to the JC Penney's Portrait Studio
because other attempts at a holiday family portrait were unsuccessful.
I had such visions of what their first professional portraits would look like. I thought my little sugar plums would behave like angels and our Christmas cards would look like a quintessential Norman Rockwell portrait.
I am such a stupid, naive woman who got exactly what she asked for.
I'd like to see your holiday portraits...good and bad. Email them to me and I'll add them here.
Here's Robin's pic of Bill and Mar shopping downtown. I love love love this picture. It's so good I think it should be plastered across our local page and then entered into the COX
awards. I insisted she let us post it here even though she had it posted on her other blog
This is our regular commenter Melissa's family. Now that's going to make a helluva nice Christmas card!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Here’s what I want for Christmas:
1. A ban on those horrid self check-out aisles that are becoming alarmingly popular. They NEVER work and there is NEVER anyone around to fix a problem. Plus, if it’s saving the store money, then I should get a discount for having to endure one.
2. The end of automated answering systems. I am so sick of pressing 1, then 7, then entering my account number, then pressing 5, then the * key, then the last four digits of my social security number, then getting disconnected. Can I just get a real person? And preferably one who is not in Bombay? Although it can be entertaining to talk to them.
3. The absolute end forevermore to having to press 1 or any other button for ENGLISH! If you don’t get that, go away.
4. Thermage. Google it.
5. A little respect for me as a shopper in local department stores. When was the last time you cleaned your carpets? Or the mirrors in your dressing rooms? Or dusted the shelves you use to display your clothing? Come on, clean up your acts. It’s supposed to be a pleasant experience, not one from which I want to go home and shower.
6. A consistent temperature in this building. I don’t care what it is, as long as it’s consistent so we all know how many layers to wear to the office.
7. World peace. Just to be seasonal.
8. Free postage. I guess it wouldn’t be called postage, but I would rather send a letter or a bill for free than have universal health care. Plus we wouldn’t risk getting sick in the first place from licking stamps.
9. Separate roads for 4x4 trucks or anything with a diesel engine. Or those stupid female devil stickers or peeing children on the back window. You know what I mean.
10. World peace. Why not? It’s the season for miracles.