Happy New Year

I hate New Year’s Eve. Hey! Let’s all go out and get trashed and ring in a new start with a horrid hangover and booming headache! Yippee! No thanks. Even before I was a member of the LDS church, I only went out drinking once for New Year’s Eve. Usually it was a quiet gathering of friends and a time of reflection.

Now, as a mama, it’s just another night to not waste any precious sleep! Oh, I guess I need to reflect and figure out some sort of plan for the new year, but I’m not big on the pressure of resolutions, and why on earth would I waste all that time my kids are sleeping by staying up and watching a tape-delay of what the folks in New York are doing? Nope.

So it’s jammies for all of us, and it’s not even 6 p.m. yet. A plate of nachos, a bag of popcorn and a movie. Happy New Year, mama’s and daddies! Here’s to a bright and joyous and many-nights-o- full-sleep 2007.

Teach ‘Em Young!

Who knew this would be a five-year old boys favorite Christmas present?


Yes, folks, we got Jeffrey a cordless dust-buster, and it has been the hit of the year. Yesterday, he vacuumed the whole kitchen floor, including all the crevices along the baseboards. Then in the afternoon, he and Beanie were do excited to clean their room, because then they could see all the tiny bits to suck up- yes, they actually cleaned their whole room, then vacuumed. For an hour. Yes, I’m serious. I got to make dinner and clean the kitchen all by myself, while my boys cleaned.

The best $20 I’ve ever spent.

Then, after dinner, Jeff was able to get under the table and suck up all the crumbs and dinner leavin’s, and feel pleased as punch with himself. No complaining, no hollering, no messing with a dustpan and broom. Since we don’t have a dog, this is the next best thing!

The close second on the present realm? His sister’s Mickey Mouse Barbie. Yes, someone bought Abby, my 8 month old, a Mickey Mouse Barbie. *sigh* It’s actually kind of cute, other than her ridiculous shoes, and I don’t mind; I played with Barbie as a girl and it didn’t seem to hurt. But Jeff is in love with Barbie. I keep having to remind DH that it’s OK- I can see him cringing when Jeff bounces in the living room dancing with his Girl, combing her hair and wanting to show dad… it’s so harmless and innocent, it makes me laugh.

Beanie’s favorite present? Lightning McQueen. We could have forgotten everything else and gotten the kid a $3.99 car and he would’ve been just as happy. Oh, that and a $2.50 green playground ball from Target. He’s a happy camper.


For me, December 26th means Christmas is OVER. Early up, early down. Today the Mama Napalm is gonna be released all over the house. The Mr Fakey Fakerson is coming down, the decorations are gone, the lights are off, the creche is back in it’s humble cardboard box, the mantle is cleared, the bows and scraps of paper find new homes in large black trash bags, and we get movin’ on.

Christmas this year, however, was a lovely one. The first Christmas I can remember enjoying away from my family. Usually I feel a little melancholy and miss being home on Christmas, but either this is actually, after four and a half years, starting to feel like home, or it was just such a nice day I didn’t have time to miss home. Either way, I’ll take it.

The chaos standard was raised early yesterday morning, and didn’t furl until well past bedtime. Our kids were showered in more presents than any children need, and we were able share some of that goodness with dear friends. I am enjoying the relative calm and quiet that occasionally follows the storm, and the boys are watching Cinderella as I sneak this quick post. Abby is snoozing.

Speaking of Abby, yes, she did indeed have a Christmas stocking, completed with about eight hours to spare, thank you very much. Mama played hookey from church on Christmas eve and furiously sewed a stocking for my sweet girl. It’s lacking in a little of the detail her brothers’ have, but there’s time for that later…


Of course, I had Jeff’s stocking made before he was born, and Eric’s by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, and well, what’s a mama to do? That’s what I get for not just buying the cute stockings the stores have… Noooo not me. I have to make the first kid a felted woolen stocking from German vegetable dyed wool… can’t exactly put up a Target special for #2 and #3… drat me. *sigh*

Anyway, hope everyone had a great day… I must be off to un-deck the halls! 

Merry Christmas!

kids 2006 

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Hodge Podge

This made me totally laugh out loud. If you love classical music, or the cello, or music in general, check it out…

When driving on ice, in a car with anti-lock brakes, do not, repeat- DO NOT pump the brakes.  Just jam that brake pedal down and let the car do it’s job, people. That is why anti-locks were invented. If you are loose on ice, keep your foot down and say a prayer. Not much else to do.

Much like her mother, Abby’s favorite ice cream is Cherry Garcia. She drools and begins to smack her lips in the cutest way as soon as she sees the carton… Yes, my child is not quite 8 months and I let her have ice cream. Oh well.

Do not believe the lady at the post office when she says it will positively be there for Christmas. She lies.

Still haven’t started on Abby’s stocking… 48 hours to go…

Took Beanie on a Mama-Date yesterday. He wanted a smoothie and french fries. So be it. Then we went to Krispy Kreme to watch doughnuts being made. I just don’t get it- I don’t love doughnuts in the first place, so maybe it’s all lost on me from the start. But Beanie really dug watching the machines. Three-year old happiness is so wonderful.

Jeffrey is wearing Beanies new footie jammies- it’s rather like a wetsuit on him. A green wetsuit. Coupled with the cowboy boots I picked up at the second hand store, it’s quite the outfit. He thinks it’s hot.

Anyone else have kids that are bouncing off the walls right now? The excitement is at a fever pitch in our home- they can positively taste the presents- sooooo close. Only a day or two more of having to be good! DH asked me how much duct tape we have tonight… What do you suppose he wants it for?

My Christmas card quilt is overflowing. I love opening the mailbox this time of year and having the happy mail outnumber the bill mail. Small mercies = true happiness.

The gifts of the Magi are all over the place, people. We have several friends who are in tight spots this Christmas, but still manage to find time and means to do for others. It does a heart good to see such kindnesses, and to even be privy to a few of them.

For a good belly-laugh, check this out. Seriously, I want to hug my kids for only coloring on the walls.


Snow is slowly and lightly drifting down from the heavens, the boys are playing peacefully upstairs, DH and Abby are watching the Food Network, and I find myself alone in my office.

These are the single best days of the year. I love the days before Christmas more than I love Christmas itself- the actual day becomes a whirlwind of chaos, but ahhh, the days before are a pregnant joy. (Never thought I would say “pregnant” and “joy” in the same sentence, did you?)

All the hustle and bustle are over, the cookies are baked, packaged, and delivered, the presents are all wrapped, bowed, packaged and mailed, the cards have been made and sent, everything is done, and I can sit quietly if I choose, and read books to my kids. Or not. I can bake something special, just for us, or not. I can play Hungry Hippo’s again, or not. I can stay in my new pink moose pj’s all day, or not.

I love the laziness and anticipation of the last few days before Christmas. Of course, Abby still doesn’t have a stocking, but I have, what? Two and a half days left? Plenty of time! Enjoy your weekend.

Night in Bethlehem

Yesterday at around four o’clock, I ditched the costumes for the party. Both the boys’ were done, as well as DH’s, but mine and Abby’s were just piles of fabric. No way my boys were going to dress up if mama wasn’t. Carefully weighing it out- should I stress and yell and cry and try and make two more costumes inside of an hour, or should I ditch and go to the party and have fun? Hmmm. Yeah, I went upstairs and cracked a Fresca and put my feet up. Maybe next year for costumes…

The party was fabulous. Truly the best church party we’ve ever attended. When we arrived, there were luminaries lighting the way to the front of the church, and Roman soldiers standing guard and brusquely pointing the way. The idea was that we were all going to Bethlehem to be counted for the census, and the soldiers were a nice touch.

Inside, we were herded into the dimmed chapel, masses of people in biblical garb surrounded by soldiers- we milled around, while some young women sang hymns at he front. The Roman soldiers came in a banged their standards on the ground, and instructed us toward the back to be counted. The folding doors were cracked just enough to let people through, where more Romans were standing guard, collecting our “taxes” (canned goods) in order to be admitted to the city.

Once inside the gym (It’s a gym, not a cultural hall!) the lights were low, and twinkling Christmas lights had been strung all around the edge of the room. A marketplace had been set up, and we were each given a small bag of coins and a basket. With our coins, we got to purchase our dinners. There were no tables or chairs set up, and we spread our blanket on the ground. (There was a bower with chairs and reclining couches for older folks).

The booths were made from hewn beams (we happen to have a few carpenters in the ward, and this was apparent from the beauty of the booths!) with canvas tops, grape vines, pottery, and even small “fires” lit the evening. (The fires were cauldrons with up-blowing fans, orange light-bulbs and fabric, but the ambiance was great.) There were booths selling grape juice, honey cakes, beggars purses full of wheat and herbs, dates, tangerines and dried fruit, a cheese and olive stand, a bakery with unleavened bread and other goodies. You took your family and your basket, bought your food, and sat on your blanket to eat. I have never seen so many people socializing and having so much fun… The kids were having a ball, and the blankets spread everywhere seemed to really open up the conversations between different families.

As dinner was winding down, (we have a DJ in our ward, with the requisite Bill Kurtis voice) a man began to read from Luke, and a spotlight shone on a young woman and man walking among the families on their blankets. It was Mary and Joseph, amid the crowds of Bethlehem, looking for a place to stay… A hush fell over the room, as we watched Mary and Joseph make their way, narrated by radio-voice guy.

The Holy couple were of course turned away from the booths, and made their way to the stage, where a barn (again, fabulous carpenters at work) was constructed, and they had put up gauze curtains, so the Christmas lights shone though the firmament over the barn. Nice touch.

There on stage, the rest of the story was acted out, including a choir of angels all in white calling the shepherds to be not afraid. Of course, Mary had a real baby- three week old Mason S. stood in for the Christ child. We finished by singing O Holy Night. There were tears in my eyes.

As we left, the three wise men were at the doors, along with the Roman guards, and they were handing out small, hinged wooden chests. Inside was a red velvet bed with a piece of gold, some frankincense and myrrh resin, as well as a parchment with the meaning of the gifts given to the Christ child.

The activities committee outdid themselves on this one, and our kids never even asked about Santa Claus. Like I said, it was a fabulous night.

Review: Charlotte’s Web

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

Those are the last words in my favorite children’s book; a book so dear to my heart  the idea of making a movie made me physically cringe. Charlotte has been a theme in our family this year, from Jeffrey and I sobbing quietly early in the spring as we finished the book, to the boys trying to spin webs of their own with my thread cones, to the vacuum dying a tortured death due to sucking up those wads of boy-spider thread, to my hesitant viewing of the trailer for the movie to arrive at Christmas. Well, last night, it was finally time, and Jeffrey and I went to the theater.

My original copy of the book is sitting next to me on my desk as I contemplate how I feel about the movie. The inside fly page is inscribed from my mom and dad-“To Tracy Leigh, Merry Christmas to our little girl! Dec. 1979.” and under that, my own name written in childlike hand. I have read this very copy so many times, I know the entire first page by heart. Still.

With all that emotional and experiential flotsam in my teacup, I went to the theater anyway. 

In the book, the original illustrations by Garth Williams are a charming and integral part of the story experience. The director of the movie, who I am too lazy to link to, was sensitive enough to get this, and the cinematography is reflective of the mood and feel of the illustrations. It’s done with sensitivity and understatement.

As far as kids movies go, this is a quiet movie. There are no obnoxious songs- Sarah McLauchlan does the theme, and it’s lovely enough to merit picking up the soundtrack. There are a a few jokes thrown in for comic relief, and only one real departure from the original story- a pair of dim-witted crows that torment Templeton as he prowls the dump looking for Charlotte’s words.

The animals are all real, and while they obviously would have to be enhanced with CGI to talk, the voices are sweet and real. So often “childrens” movies are peppered with adult references, jokes and pop-culture tidbits- None here; the movie-makers exercised wonderful restraint, and carefully kept the mood of post WWII America intact.

Charlotte is a barn spider (google A. Cavatica if you want to see what a real barn spider looks like- they did a good job), and she looks like a real spider. Really. It’s a little startling at first, but it’s also wonderful- as the movie progresses and her love for Wilbur shows, she becomes lovely, and her spider-ness is not frightening or off-putting.

I wish there were more children’s movies of this caliber, and I sincerely hope is does well at the box office, to let movie makers know we don’t need every kids movie to be loud, obnoxious or full of age-inappropriate jokes (there are two flatulence jokes- but it’s a barn for goodness sake- barn animals make barn noises…)

Leave the really little ones at home- At over an hour and a half, my three-year old would never have been able to sit through it, but my five-year old was totally engrossed, and we both enjoyed it immensely. 

If you’ve read the book to your kids, take them to see the move. If you haven’t- read the book first, then go see the move. It pleases me to say this: They did a fabulous job; what a rare treat.

( Now if only DH had been willing to let me name Abby “Charlotte”… I always wanted to name my daughter after my favorite spider….oh well!)

Shoes are for Wearing

My husband is my best friend. He has been for almost 17 years. And I treasure that relationship with him- he’s not just my husband, but a true friend, whom I trust with everything, and who loves me no matter what. I realize how fortunate I am in this, and not everyone has that kind of friendship with their spouse. I am blessed.

But… it’s been so long since I had a close girlfriend, someone who I could hang out with and feel relaxed and easy in my skin. Until now,  my two closest girlfriends both live in other states. We keep in touch with phone calls, e-mails and even occasionally get to see on another- but they aren’t a part of my daily life, and as wonderful as my husbands is, sometimes I miss hanging with the girls.

I’m cagey in my friendships with women. I’ve been burned too many times, and I hold out, wary of trusting other women. My past is colorful, and the women I meet at church don’t usually give me impression that would be OK- more likely, it’s probably just a lack of relate-able experiences. So, I keep my cards close to my chest. Sure, there are some people I genuinely like, but in four years, there is no one who has gotten closer than “casual” in our friendship.

Perhaps that’s part of the appeal in blogging- I can be me, and worse that can happen is you won’t read what I write. And as much fun as comments are, not reading isn’t going to hurt nearly as much as bailing on me two weeks after you were my maid of honor at my wedding.  Know what I mean?

When I meet someone new, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, for them to decide I am too coarse, too loud, too curly, too big, too happy, too funky, too artistic, too something, and to take off.

Through blogging, I have met some astounding women, women who are as real to me as my own family, and I have only met a handful in real life.  The women who have come into my life though this little blog experiment have changed my perspective on friendships. It’s been gradual– you don’t turn an ocean liner around on a dime, but because this medium is so safe, it has been a fabulous vehicle for meeting people I can love and admire, and even admit to my real life.

So ladies, thank you for being you, for being the stellar example of good, kind women-hood and mama-ness. Thank you for restoring my faith in friendship, and for teaching me by your example that not all people suck. And to the one nearest and dearest- I never let you know how much that card meant to me. It said:

“Shoes are for wearing…” and inside, “… not dropping.”

That’s how I knew I had real friend.