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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.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Awhile back Marlys left a comment asking for suggestions about how to get Jack to eat more vegetables. Being that Soren is a little younger than Jack I guess I didn’t really get what she was asking. What I think she was asking was how do you get an almost two-year-old to eat anything?
Lately there have been days where Soren eats next to nothing. He’ll beg for blueberry pancakes only to take one bite, throw a few bites on the floor, and then declare himself “All Done!”
I try not to worry too much about what he doesn’t eat. But, at one point it was a full four days before I finally saw him stuff a giant piece of banana in his mouth.
Last night he came out of the kitchen gnawing on a stick of butter. I debated about whether or not it was healthy for my kid to eat butter then decided to just make sure he pulled the paper down. Three-quarters of a stick he ate. Ew. Then he opened his roll and fished the nearly melted butter out with his tongue. I finally enticed him to eat a few bites of spaghetti by showing how to twirl it around his fork but basically I let him eat butter for dinner. What kind of mother does that?
Last week he lived on cheese and turkey.
Overall he is probably getting enough
I mean he’s still alive. But I can’t help but worry about him.
For Christmas I think Marlys and I need this book
I’m upset I didn’t write it myself because it seems so obvious to try to sneak veggies into things they like
Damn you Mrs. Seinfeld
.or did she just steal someone’s idea
Hmmm. Regardless I need this book or one like it.
I also need a book to free up my adult cooking mind. For years now I’ve tried to sophisticate my culinary skills so for the life of me I cannot cook for a little kid. I’m always having to rethink the menu and remind myself that couscous for example is not a friendly food to give someone who eats with a miniature spoon that says Tonka on it. I might as well just tie his hands behind his back and make him suck peas with a straw.
I need to start making meals more kid friendly. I’m thinking pancakes shaped like mice, grilled cheese in cookie cutter shapes and funny names like orange smiles. I could use some ideas if anybody has one.
And then there’s this one full of cupcakes
cupcakes. Do you think it would be alright to have cupcakes for dinner just once?
Monday, November 26, 2007
This parenting thing is really hard.
It’s truly scary. The stakes are so high.
I’m dazed and confused and I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I swear it’s an ulcer.
Why? Because I’m the mom, that’s why.
Ha, didn’t think I could use that old stand-by in this context. When it comes to being a mother I’m doing the best I believe I can, but why does it often seem like I have it all wrong? I follow the advice I would give other parents (mostly) and I seek out opinions from people I trust and who I think are good parents. But at the end of the day, my mood is completely dependent upon the mood of my teenager. If he’s “happy”, I breathe a sigh of relief and the knot in my stomach loosens. If he is sullen, mopey, belligerent or teen-agery I feel awful, think that somehow it’s all my fault (mostly) and gain another frown line. I'm learning to remind myself that he's his own person and I can guide and hope, but I can't control (completely).
I remind myself that I was the biggest pain-in-the-ass moron as a teenager, and I survived. Even thrived, eventually. So why am I so freaked out? Because I know what the risks are, and I know what’s happening out there to our kids, and I know the lack of parental involvement on the part of waaayyyy too many other kids’ parents, and it scares the hell out of me.
So - note to all you other parents - help me out here. If you’re not already, start paying attention to your kids’ lives. Please. Do you know what they’re sending on their camera phones, their text messages, their home page on their myspace accounts? This is not spying and I’m not suggesting micro-managing, but you might be surprised at what you find.
I need help being a good parent. And I’m hoping I can depend on other parents for that help - because no one can do it alone. It doesn’t really take the whole village, but it does take each of us, as parents, doing our part for the good of the village as a whole.