Monday, December 31, 2007

The wheel turns

Does anyone else feel the finality of the year? I don't think I've ever felt it with such force. Usually a "new year" is just a turn of the calendar page for me. But this year feels different. Perhaps it's because my 2007 wasn't so great overall. Or perhaps I've just reached a point where I'm ready for newness.

Whatever the reason, good-bye forever, 2007! Here's hoping the next year is much better than the previous one.


Does Kristabella make the best Christmas cards or what!?! I'm pretending I'm on the list.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cold weather = soup

I love soup anyway, but something about overcast days and chilly temperatures make a pot of soup a necessity.

Today's venture was vegetable beef, in a completely thrown together, made-it-up-as-I-go-along manner. Veggie beef (or plain old veggie) soup is awesome for that, since you can just use whatever is on hand.

Today's soup:

1 lb beef roast, cut into small bits
~ 2 lbs veggies (carrots, potatoes, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups beef stock
~ 1 cup water
Italian seasonings
2 Bay leaves

It turned out so yummy! It even looked good in the stock pot, so I snapped a photo.

Skeeter was his usual soup snob self and refused to eat any though. I didn't fuss though, since he did get my camera hooked up again.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wasting time on YouTube

Skeeter and I were wasting time this afternoon, looking up various comedians, and he happened upon this little gem:

Please tell me that the rest of the Back to the Future fans out there laughed as hard as we did.

We didn't even know that he did stand-up, but oh, he is so funny!

My new favorite quote

"You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty."

- Sacha Guitry (1885-1957)

Friday, December 28, 2007

For the love of flannel

Skeeter and I have slept on flannel sheets -- year-round -- for the past 10 years or so. That actually started as a happy accident. We had purchased a new bed -- queen, as opposed to the full size we had before -- and didn't have sheets to fit, so we ran out to Sam's Club the day it was supposed to be delivered.

I don't remember the day, but it must have been mid-winter at least. We found a set of queen sized flannel sheets on clearance for $10. I had never used flannel sheets before, but for $10 I was willing to take a chance.

It was love at first sleep.

Those first sheets must have been of far better quality than I had realized because when I went to find another set, I had a difficult time finding ones that were nice enough. But by then I'd been spoiled by the softness of the flannel, and I couldn't imagine going back to plain cotton. Have you ever tried to find flannel sheets at Target during the summer? Not easy, my friend. Not at all. Now I make a point to buy a new set when they first get put on the shelves, and I always have two sets, just in case.

The bed is a bit of an obsession for me, as I've mentioned before.

All that has changed, for the moment. Skeeter bought a new bedding set for me for Christmas, and it came with a set of (you guessed it) plain cotton sheets. I don't have matching flannel sheets, so I'm currently using the ones that came with the set.

It's driving me nuts. I almost can't sleep because of it.

I went to Target tonight, just so that I could buy a set of matching flannel sheets. Oh the horror!! They were sold out of the sage green queen size flannel sheets! I almost bought the pink plaid, but it would have clashed just as horribly as the ones we have now. And I'm not sure I could sleep on those anyway.

So tomorrow, the search is on.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A new favorite

A couple of months ago, Alkelda at Saints and Spinners mentioned how much she liked the new Robert Plant/Alison Krauss CD. I love Alison Krauss, and I like Robert Plant. Plus, Alkelda and I seem to have the same tastes on quite a lot of things, so I bought it last month.

I had saved it to go in my Santa stocking, since I wasn't sure if Skeeter would remember to pick anything up. Now that I've finally gotten to listen to it -- I love it. Love it!

The whole CD is a wonderful and surprising blend of their styles. Plant's, to be sure, is more reminiscent of his later solo work rather than his screaming Zeppelin days. True, hard-core Zep fans probably won't be impressed, since the work overall seems to have its roots in the slow, melodic folksy sounds that Krauss favors. I was particularly interested to see that most of the songs that have copyright dates are from the 1950s and 1960s.

It's early in my listening, but honestly, I think this is going to have staying power and be one of my long-term favorites.

Oh, and if you follow the link to the website, you can listen to the entire album there. But then do yourself a favor and buy it. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just what I wanted

It has been a low-key kind of day. I've unpacked and put away most of the gifty things. I heated left over enchiladas and made Mexican rice for lunch. No one has wanted dinner yet, so I'll put out a fruit and veggie tray and make toasted cheese sandwiches as people want them.

Spyder reminded me today that I forgot to put his crystal mining kit in his stocking (I did -- completely), so we dug it out of the gift closet. He spent a happy couple of hours mining the crystals and making a dusty mess on the coffee table.

Sass and I played My Little Pony, and she and Skeeter had a tea party with all of her stuffed animals. It was quite funny, since she insisted that they both dress up for it. Skeeter was quite a sight with all of the bows in his hair.

The big excursion today was to the bread store. I finally remembered to ask if they had throw-away loaves that we could take to feed the ducks at the park. The lady happened to be taking them off the shelves then and gave me 12 loaves for $1. 12 loaves! Holey cow! That will feed the ducks for a couple of weeks! The children will love that though. I had planned to stop by the park on the way home, but it started to rain, so that will have to wait til tomorrow.

And I've decided that I must make my mom's party mix. She usually gives me a box at Christmas, and she didn't this year. It's quite easy, just very time-consuming, and I'll bet she didn't have time this year. But it's just not New Year's if I can't have party mix.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Twas the end of Christmas

and we survived it all!

The fiesta went well, although it seemed as if we had a smaller group than usual. I counted and we had 17 people, so maybe not, but it seemed smaller. There was a slight hiccup at the beginning, since The Michael (fixer of Rotel and bringer of sodas) had a sudden illness. We survived on water and wine and juice until he was able to make it, and I had a free crock pot in which to make the Rotel dip.

The cheese cookies went over well, I suppose. I have quite a few of them left, but I did make a huge bowl of them. The Michael says he liked them, but I think he's just humoring me to some extent. And he was sick anyway.

I spent part of the party making more cookies, since the children cleared out the first four dozen within the first 30 minutes. Not that I minded, really. I like to cook, and these were just slice and bake things that I had gotten at Kroger, and I always like to send the children home with cookies for Santa. I also made rice krispy treats during the party, partly because I didn't have time earlier and I wanted those! My marshmallows had gotten misplaced (at a level that makes me think some child moved them), but I managed with a jar of marshmallow creme that I had bought (and then forgotten) for the church food baskets. They were a little more gooey than usual, but gooey is okay for rice krispy treats to me!

Our lasts guests left just after 11:30. We gave the children baths and got them into bed just after midnight, then Skeeter and I cleaned up the party mess and got the stockings ready. Normally it's just me getting the stockings ready, and it was much more fun to have Skeeter as a partner in it.

Because the children were up so late, they slept late (yay!), and they weren't ready to do stockings until about 9 am. Stocking gifts were well received, and we got on our way to the rest of the family celebrations.

We got there around 11:30, after three small but necessary stops. More gift opening, then off to eat. And eat and eat.

After the gluttony, we retreated to enjoy the gifts. Spyder spent the afternoon shooting paper targets and skeet with his new (Daisy Red Ryder) BB gun. Sass had to stay inside most of the time, as she is working on a terrible cold. She truly wanted to play with the dogs, but she had to be content with her new My Little Pony set.

We got back home at about 8:30 this evening. I was too tired to do much of anything, so I'll spend tomorrow organizing. And catching up on the neglected blog. :)

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas!

She knows him well

SASS (referring to her daddy): " . . . and if they don't know how to nap -- oh, honey -- he can sure show them!"

I don't know what was funnier -- that she was talking about her daddy teaching someone how to nap or the "oh honey" that she threw in that has her mama all over it!

Monday, December 24, 2007

I should have known

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

The camera and the computer hate each other.

They must. I'm sure this has been stewing for quite a while, and I was simply oblivious to the power struggle. Tonight the camera has decided that she (for she must be a she) has finally HAD IT and is no longer talking to the computer.

And I had photos to show everyone my Christmas tree shaped cheese cookies, as I know you were all anxiously awaiting.


Advent and memories

We do an Advent calendar every year. It's one of the things that my children look forward to the most. With the Advent chocolate every night, we share a Christmas memory.

This year's favorite was a silly one -- the year that my Nana gave me a watch and the alarm kept going off every night at 10:30 while it was wrapped and under the tree. They asked me to retell it several times. It's a silly little thing, but I remember it well, and my children obviously loved hearing the story.

It always amazes me what we remember and how that remembering can resonate with others. I wonder what my children will remember about their Christmases.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

That's my story. I'm sticking to it.

I've largely neglected ye olde blog lately. I shouldn't. I really shouldn't. I always feel as if I need to catch up, diary form, if I do.

Here's the simplified version:

We've all had the sniffles.

Skeeter is off work until Thursday. Yay!

I've done more shopping than usual.

We're getting ready for tomorrow night's annual Christmas Eve fiesta.

Tonight in preparation for the fiesta, I baked chocolate chip cookies and cheese straws. Well, they were supposed to be cheese straws. They ended up being cheese cookies because I couldn't find one of the pieces to my decorator set that I use to make them. So rather than wait until I found the piece, I decided to make them as cookies. We're having cheese cookies, and I'm going to act like I meant to make them that way.

And despite my best intentions, it looks as if I'm going to have to go to the grocery store in the morning.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Eh, I don't know if I believe this. I'm from the south. I think I sound like it.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crash and burn

Or, the aftermath of excitement, sugar, and caffeine.

Tonight was Olivia's birthday party at the bounce. The children love the bounce.

That's an understatement. The children would live at the bounce I would agree to cater.

They were thrilled when I announced this morning that today was the day for bounce! They bounced here, around the house, most of the day in anticipation, so they were hyped enough when they realized it was really! time! to! go!

As always, the party ended with cake and drinks. Sass drinks water most of the time, so that's what she ordered from the party assistant. In direct contrast, Spyder ordered a Coke. Not the "why bother?" version I occasionally allow -- Caffeine Free Diet Coke. No, no. He ordered The Real Thing, and I didn't know it until he was almost finished with it.

Oh lawzy.

Afterward, I could definitely tell he'd had a bit more than his body is used to. When we were leaving, he decided that he really needed to see his Grammy (my mom). Er, I can sympathize, but she lives an hour away. So I let them call and chat with the grandparents. It was a riot. Spyder spent the time telling them he was excited about seeing them at Christmas. Sass spent her time telling them about the bounce.

Nighttime routines were a bit off, but not horribly so. In fact, Spyder found one of the books that Sass likes, a beginning reader book, that he said sounded like a poem (it does). He decided to copy it into his copybook that we use for handwriting practice.

But after finishing, he happily listened to that same story as I read it to Sass, did our Advent chocolate and memory, and went to bed. He didn't even attempt to stay up and read. Ten minutes after lights out, I checked in and he was sound asleep.

The bounce is great for that, despite the sugar overload.

A small break from the organizing

to give Big News here on the Christmas front . . . .

Skeeter is going to be off work! Wooohooo! This really is big news, since That Company decided a few weeks ago that they might have to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. They've gotten enough work done that they've been granted a reprieve. He'll be off beginning Saturday, and he won't have to go back in to work until Thursday! Excellent!

And now, to put him to work around here . . . . There are several little chores that he's been, ahem, conveniently forgetting.

And back to the organizing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A week til Christmas . . . .

And I'm nowhere near ready for our fiesta. This little sinus infection isn't helping things.

I attempted several things today, and I didn't get as far as I wanted on any of them. I did, however, manage to get out and get my errands done early. I was back home by 11.

Skeeter worked overnight last night (got home at 5:30 am), and he was just getting up as I got back in. We had a nice picnic-style lunch in front of the Christmas tree, and he headed off to work just after noon.

And rather than write a true post all about our ever-scintillating lives, I'm off to unload the dishwasher.

It is the glamorous life.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Peace and joy

Not here.

Five Christmas parties (three of which I helped host).

Two days.

Sinus infection.

I'm so tired that it hurts to think. I hope to have coherent thoughts after sleep. Blissful sleep.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not your typical Christmas carol

But way funnier!

Friday Feast

I've never participated in the Friday Feast, but not because I have anything against it . . . . I just don't think of it! Fresh Girl participates every week though, and today's appetizer question was too good not to answer this time. So here goes . . . my first Friday Feast.

Make up a word and give us its definition.

Dogbread: My family made up this word when I was little, so long ago that I can't remember not having it in my vocabulary. No one ever liked eating the end of the loaf of bread, so we always gave it to the dog. Thus, "dogbread" was born. Skeeter and the children even use the term. And they like the dogbread, so they don't give it to the dogs!

What is currently your favorite song?

Despite all of the Christmas tunes running through my head, I think my current favorite is an old hymn called "I Love to Tell the Story." I sing it to Sass at night and to settle her when she's upset, and she's taken to singing it. All the time. She serenaded everyone at Backyard Burger tonight. She may sing loudly and at inappropriate times, but it's still so sweet to hear her little voice.

What’s at the top of your Christmas wish list this year?

Perfume. I've been wearing the same two perfumes for the last 15 years -- Sung in the winter; Jessica McClintock in the summer. I want something new. I think I've decided on Juicy Couture. I've been stalking the perfume ladies, and that's the one fragrance I've gone back to again and again. The other front runner is Burberry Weekend, but I think that Juicy has won.

Main Course
Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.

Old Spice. It always reminds me of my dad. Always. Especially when it's worn by someone who is very outdoorsy.

Who is someone on television that you feel probably shouldn’t be, and why?

I'm going to have to cop out on this one. The only television I watch regularly is Numbers. And Heroes, until it ended, and really, I only watched that because Skeeter wanted me to watch with him. I wasn't pleased with this season, and I would have dropped it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Crying

Candy asked about my crying at the Messiah performance, and my comment response ended up being so long that it seemed to warrant a post all its own.

It's not just that particular piece of music. I cry at almost any moment that evokes emotion -- sad, happy, sentimental . . . . I'm just a crier. I try to hide it, so I actually don't even know if my friends have noticed. Skeeter is kind enough to avoid making eye contact when he knows I'm teary. I'm pretty embarrassed about it, actually, but I just can't help it.

Oddly enough, I seldom cry when I read. It's usually a visual or auditory stimulus that brings it about. I've even been known to have the weepy eyes when talking to a particularly emotional customer at the bookstore! Shameful . . . shameful.

I'd like to blame this the children. (Weepy just seems to follow children in my mind.) I don't think that they deserve the blame though. I think I was this way before.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Handel's Messiah

The children and I had the opportunity to attend a performance of Handel's Messiah (well, selections from) this morning. It's one of those musical compositions that moves me -- every time -- and even hearing selected portions is worthwhile.

When Fresh Girl emailed me to let me know of a local performance, I knew I had to go. I called the venue to see if I could bring my, er, entourage. The woman on the phone sounded skeptical, but she said I could.

I had never met the Fresh Girl before, but I recognized her from her photo almost at once. And because I always assume that PEOPLE! LOVE! ME! And EVERYONE! WANTS! TO! MEET! ME!, I barged right over and said hello. And sat down behind her family. So let this serve as a public apology for being my brassy self. I'm glad I sat there though. Fresh Girl and her family are just lovely, and that nephew Thomas -- he's a cutie!

Sass sat on my lap during most of the performance, which was quite useful in hiding my teary eyes. I always get teary-eyed during certain movements, and I'm always so embarrassed by it. It was nice to have Sass as cover. Sass wiggled a bit more than I wanted, but she was mostly engrossed in the music, so I was pleased overall.

Spyder and his stinkin' long legs though -- he accidentally bumped the seat in front of him more times than was necessary. I know that he can't help being so lanky, but I'll be so glad when the rest of him catches up and he has more control over his limbs. Spyder brought a book (as always . . . ) and read during most of the performance. Afterward he asked if we had it on CD at home (we don't) because he wanted to hear a certain portion again. Until then, I was unsure that he was even paying attention. And even later, while we were out shopping (again . . . ), he mentioned twice how much he liked it as "background music to my book." That made me laugh.

I had promised Sass that I would take her to eat at the mall's food court, and we weren't far from there, so that's where we had lunch. And in a pleasant surprise, it wasn't terribly busy!

It was a great day, and I was sad that Skeeter couldn't join us. He had a Big Day at work though. That Company started testing Skeeter's project, so they've come to the beginning of the end. It's exciting!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rice Krispy Treats

The first of my Christmas treat making. Yes, the first, and I copped out with an easy one. I'm behind schedule!

I added butterscotch chips to part of the mix. It turned out too sweet for me, but I bet Skeeter will love it.

Mr. Snow Miser / Mr. Heat Miser

The song I've been singing for the last week:

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Mad Dash

I spent Saturday and Sunday shopping. And part of today as well.


Me. And two children.

I know that some people love to shop. It's not really my thing, especially when having to drag the urchins along. Saturday was actually quite nice though. We had had a pretty awful Friday afternoon, so I was glad Saturday ended up being a good day.

I took the children to "the nice mall" about 45 minutes away from our house. We got there relatively early, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't crowded at all. We went to a few stores, and the children each got to make a bear at Build-A-Bear. Build-A-Bear took a lot longer than expected, so the mall had started getting crowded by then. Sass had wanted to eat in the food court. (Why is it that the mall food court is so appealing to children?) Spyder and I decided that the food court wasn't such a great idea though, since we found exactly one unoccupied table, and I wasn't about to let him sit there by himself to save us the seat.

We decided to leave the mall, and we ended up at Backyard Burger near my bookstore. Since we were so close to the bookstore, of course we had to stop in. I bought a Christmas gift, rounding out the gifts I need to ship. It's nice to be done with one set of gifts.

After the bookstore, I remembered that we were supposed to be in the town-next-door's Christmas parade. We dashed home to change clothes, then off to the parade. By the time that was over, it was almost 10 pm, and we had been gone from home (with a minor pit stop for clothing changes) for nearly 12 hours.

I think we all almost fell into our beds that night.

Sunday morning, my mom called and said she was coming to my town to shop. I called The Michael to join in. So the shopping continued.

We started with an early lunch at Fazoli's, to avoid the after-church crowd. As The Michael says, "Those Christians are serious about their Sunday food." Skeeter even joined us, although he was interrupted with phone calls a couple of times and he had to dash back to work after lunch.

Mom, The Michael, the children, and I went to 9 different stores. We were so intent on the shopping thing that I completely forgot it was Sunday. Skeeter called about 15 minutes before Awana started and asked if we were at the church yet. YIKES! I ran to the checkout, and I got them to the church just as the opening prayer was starting. I had to go apologize to their teachers, since neither of them had a book, Bible, or uniform. Again, we were gone all day, and we all were exhausted by the time we got home.

Today was a relatively easy day, although we did have to go to a few places. I'm looking for a new perfume, so we went to sniff fragrances at Dillard's. The children love that though, so they were perfectly happy to do that. They also managed to talk me into lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I got them back though. I made them go to Kroger afterward. HA! :)

Spyder has begged for a complete at home day tomorrow, and I'm going to try to comply.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I am inordinately pleased that I am not alone in my Muppet love

Ah yes! There are other Muppet lovers! I am so pleased that Susan and Bunchastuffes are with me on the Muppet thing.

JP and Susan, I'm embarrassed to say that I completely forgot about The Year without a Santa Claus. It's especially embarrassing since I've been singing the "Mr. Snow Miser/Mr. Heat Miser" song for a week.

I am probably the lone person on the planet who doesn't love A Christmas Story. I don't particularly dislike it; I've just never been able to get into it. That's most interesting because I did get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas one year, when I was about 7. And it's the same BB gun that Spyder shot until recently. Not long ago, an oddly shaped or oversized BB got stuck in the gun. We've tried and tried to get it out with no success.

Fresh Girl, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is just as funny as the book. Not quite as good as the book, just because Barbara Park's phrasing is so spot-on wonderful, but the movie is still excellent.

Dallas Meow, you must watch The Bells of St. Mary's. It actually wasn't made as a Christmas movie, in the same way that It's a Wonderful Life wasn't. It's perfect for the season though. Plus, Bing and Ingrid!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

To Santa or not to Santa

Do you play Santa in your household?

I don't think there are any two families who play Santa exactly the same way, and some families don't play at all. I don't think I realized how many different ways there are to play or not to play until recently.

As for us, we play Santa. However, Skeeter and I have never presented Santa as real.

I managed to weave through the Santa maze of childhood without terrible disappointment, but Skeeter was absolutely devastated when his older sister told him the truth. He was about 5 years old when he found out the real deal.

Skeeter was completely against Santa. I was for it. So, like in any good relationship, we compromised.

Santa does "visit" our house, bringing a stocking full of socks, chocolates, peppermints, a toothbrush, an orange, and a small toy or two. We don't give large gifts from Santa like my family did, only the stockings.

While Santa does "visit," we have never presented Santa as a real person. The children have been told from the beginning that Santa is a game:

"Santa" a huge game of pretend that everyone plays. That's why adults pretend that Santa is real when we know he's not. But it's only fun if everyone plays along. I'm letting you in on the secret that he's just pretend, but some children don't know. Since you don't know who knows about the game and who doesn't, it's very important that you always remember to play along.

In a nutshell, that's the explanation that we gave to the children.

Spyder took it at face value. He loves to pretend about Santa, but he knows that it's all pretend. This way of presenting it actually did what it was supposed to do for him -- allow him to have all of the fun of Santa without being able to have it ruined by a thoughtless word. And that thoughtless moment did come for Spyder, when an older cousin announced in a haughty tone, "You know Santa's not real, right?" Spyder was 6, and he was able to say (with conviction), "Yeah. Are you just now figuring that out?"

Sass, on the other hand, is completely enamored with the idea of Santa. She wants it to be real so badly that I'm not certain that she accepts that it's all a game. She would be hurt if Cousin did that to her. I keep dropping little reminders, but I'm not sure she's willing to pick up on them. This year, I will have her help me pick out the chocolates and socks for Spyder's stocking, so perhaps that will help.

So, what do you do with your children in the ages-old Santa question?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Souptacular Recipe: Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup

It's A Soup-Tacular!

Here is one of the old standards for our annual Christmas Eve Mexican Fiesta!

Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp oil

4 cups chicken stock
15 oz can of Rotel (or diced tomatoes with onions and peppers if you can't get Rotel where you live)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Mexican or Southwestern spice mix (I use either Emeril's or Pampered Chef.)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 tsp flour
1/2 cup water

1 lb cooked chicken, cubed or pulled
1 cup cream
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Saute oil, garlic, and oinions in a large pan or dutch oven until soft.

Add chicken stock, spices, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce.

Thoroughly mix flour and water to make a pseudo-roux, then whisk into soup to thicken.

Bring to a low boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Stir in chicken, cream and cheese until thoroughly blended and heated.

Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips. Garnish with fresh chopped

Scoot on over to Boomama's place for more good stuff!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Lindsey at Enjoy the Journey asked about favorite Christmas movies, and in typical Noodle-fashion, I couldn't choose just one.

I have loads of Christmas movies that I love.

Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. The Muppets, no more needs to be said. I love the Muppets. I always think of it as a "Gift of the Magi" type story. Each person wants to give the other an extra-special gift for Christmas . . . . It's just a great story!

The Muppet Christmas Carol. Such a fun retelling of the classic story! Loads of the usual Muppet jokes and gags. Awesome!

A Muppet Family Christmas. (I'm sensing a theme here . . . .) So much fun because we see Sesame Street characters as well as The Muppets. I can't remember how we discovered this one originally, but it was one of Spyder's favorites.

A Charlie Brown Christmas. No Christmas is complete without a Charlie Brown special. Just fantastic! We have this on DVD, but we all were excited when it came on television recently.

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Ah, good old Rudolph. My favorite though, is Hermey, the elf who wants to be a dentist. That's good comedy, folks!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Based on the book by Barbara Robinson. Funny and touching and wonderful.

It's a Wonderful Life. I can't quote whole sections of this film like some of my friends, but I adore it. It stars Jimmy Stewart, so of course I adore it.

Miracle on 34th Street. This was one of those that I loved as a little girl because the main character was a little girl -- skeptical and suspicious, just like me. When my children tell me something that I don't think is the whole truth, I always say, "I believe; I believe. It's silly, but I believe."

Christmas in Connecticut. This is a new one to my Christmas collection, recommended by a friend last year. I can't believe I missed this before! Lots of fun!

The Bells of St. Mary's
. Ah, Bing. How I love thee.

And even with all of these, I'm sure I've missed some. So, what are your Christmas favorites?

Gloucestershire Wassail

This was one of the songs that we sang in my high school choir. It was a standard; we did it every year, but I absolutely loved it. I sing it to my children now.

Stealing from Candy

Candy posted this as a Thanksgiving meme. I'm shamelessly stealing it, albeit far past Thanksgiving.

( ) Been to Canada.

( ) Been to Mexico.

(X ) Been to Florida.

(X ) Been on a plane.

( X) Been lost.

Please. As my dad always says, "I haven't been anywhere until I've been lost there."

(X) Been on the opposite side of the country.

I'm undecided on how to answer this, since I live in the middle of the US. I have been to the coast before, so I'm going with yes.

( X) Swam in the ocean.

( X ) Cried yourself to sleep.

(X )Played cops and robbers.

(X ) Played with a Tonka Truck.

(X ) Recently colored with crayons.

( X) Sang karaoke.

(Not well, I might add.)

(x ) Paid for a meal with only coins.

I have also paid my $120 electric bill with one dollar bills. More than once. That's what workin' for tips will do to you.

(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t?

( ) Made prank phone calls.

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

( X ) Danced in the rain

(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus.

( X) Been kissed under the mistletoe.

(X) Watched the sunrise with someone you care about.

(X) Blown bubbles.

I love blowing bubbles. I sit outside and blow bubbles for the dogs. They jump and catch them like treats. It's awesome!

(X ) Made a bonfire on the beach.

Only the "beach" called a sand bar. But it was a fire, and it was on a semblance of sand. So there.

(X) Crashed a party.

( ) Crashed a wedding.

( ) Crashed a funeral.

(X)Gone ice-skating.

Only once, and in Germany. I couldn't speak the language well. I kept bumping into people, muttering "Bitte; bitte."

1. Any nicknames?

Not particularly. Skeeter is the one who calls me Noodle though. Just in case y'all were wondering where I came up with that.

2. Mother’s name?

Judy. Judith, actually, but she's not fond of that.

3. Favorite drink?

Depending on the time of day -- water, hot tea, Diet Dr Pepper

4. Any tattoos?

None. Because I'm a big chicken.

5 Body piercing?

Ears. Do those even count any more?

6. How much do you love your job?

The stay-at-home-mom gig? Most of the time, I love it. There are moments though . . . .

7. Favorite vacation spot?

So far, Norwich, England.

8. Ever been to Africa?


9. Ever eaten cookies for dinner?

Yes. I'm not particularly proud of that though.

10. Ever been on TV?

I think so, but I can't really remember. Never any significant screen time, that's for sure.

11. Ever steal any traffic signs?

No, I don't think so.

12. Ever been in a car accident?

Yes, once. Unlike Skeeter, who has made it a hobby.

13. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle?

Yes, both, simultaneously. (This was Candy's answer, and I had to leave it because it made me laugh aloud.)

14. Favorite pie?


15. Favorite Number?

2. What can I say? I'm unimaginative.

16. Favorite movie?

Urgh. This is more difficult than it should be. I'll go for The Philadelphia Story.

17. Favorite holiday?

Christmas. Really though, I love Halloween through New Year's.

18. Favorite dessert?

Mom's Four Layer Delight

19. Favorite food?

This time of year it's cornbread dressing, because I know that I only eat it at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

20. Favorite day of the week?


21. Favorite brand of body wash?

Kiss My Face.

22. Favorite toothpaste?

Tom's of Maine Spearmint

23. Favorite smell?


24. What do you do to relax?


25. Do you have a message to your friends reading this?

Come on . . . play along . . . you know you want to . . . .

26. How do you see yourself in 10 years?

Still the same old me, just older. I'm guessing that I won't be watching Strawberry Shortcake with Sass though. I wonder if I'll miss it.

27. Furthest place you will send this message?

Who knows?

28. Who will respond the fastest?

No idea.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dolly Parton: Hard Candy Christmas

Just for The Michael.

I was looking for one where only Dolly sang, but this was the best I could find. Still, good stuff.

Crisis averted -- darn!

Remember that Blackberry I was convincing Skeeter I needed? Almost . . . almost!

Yesterday I dropped my cell phone in the dishwater. It landed in a saucepan, so it wasn't completely submerged, only the ear part. The person on the other end (Brenda, who is recovering from her nasty sinus infection) could hear me just fine, but I could only hear {crackle . . . . crackle}.

This is a serious issue, as we no longer have a home phone. The squirrels kept chewing through the line, and the phone company decided that they didn't like coming out to repair it. They repaired it four times, but the fifth (and last) time that I called, they told me I'd have to pay for the repair. As if I had an army of trained squirrels at my disposal, hell-bent on destroying my phone line. So I told them to forget it, and we've been using our cell phones only ever since.

At last! My chance to convince Skeeter that I needed a new phone! It's a necessity! Why not go ahead and get a Blackberry? (batting eyelashes)

Alas, not to be! The phone dried out nicely, and it's working as well as ever.


Monday, December 03, 2007

A full house

I called my friend Brenda this morning, and she's sick, more than just your usual cough and sniffles. She was debating on going to the doctor, so I did what I always do -- invited her children over.

She brought them over around 10 am and headed to the doctor.

I'm hearing the sounds of some video game the Spyder and Ryan are playing. Sass and Olivia are playing some sort of pretend game with the dogs.

And me? I love it. I'm actually folding the laundry and putting it away, without being interrupted 17 times for some inconsequential nonsense.

I love when the children have friends over and the house is full of happy sounds. After several hours though, I'm just as happy when the friends go to their own homes. :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas shopping a la Mr Bean

This clip never fails to make me laugh! I can absolutely see Spyder doing this!

Traveling art

A treat for the eyes! Peter Grant's photos of decorated cars, trucks, and buses in Pakistan.

The Irish Rovers: Christmas in Killarney

Just for you, JP! This is my second-favorite non-traditional Christmas song, close on the heels "Christmas Wrapping."

Again, not a true video, but a nice clogging set using "Christmas in Killarney."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping

My favorite non-traditional Christmas song! What's not to love about a Christmas song that begins with "Bah Humbug!" :)

Alas, it's not a true video, but you can hear the song.

The Advent Calendar

The children look forward to doing the advent calendar every year. This year's Advent calendars aren't as nice as the ones we usually have. I wasn't able to get the German ones this year, so we're managing with ones I picked up at Walgreens. I'm trying not to be disappointed. The tradition and the sentiment are still the same.

If you are a cantankerous old person, don't go to the Christmas parade

Our town had its Christmas parade tonight. It's always a nice little affair, seldom busy, but always fun.

This year's parade was a bit different. It was crowded. Not just a little bit more crowded, but significantly so. We always park at the end of the parade route, mostly because it's not far from our house. In years past, we've always had our choice of parking (and watching) spots.

We were a bit late this year, getting there at about the time the parade was starting on the other end. There were no parking places left, and certainly none at the street where we usually park. I ended up parking in an unused drive. We unpacked our chairs, grabbed the coffee and went to find a spot.

The spot that we decided upon wasn't optimum. I prefer to be in the grassy area, and the only space near the car was on the concrete. That wasn't a big problem though. Everyone gets up and wanders around during the parade.

Obviously the women who were already sitting in their chairs nearby didn't get the memo on the wandering though. I asked them, "Are our chairs in your way?" (Meaning: "Are you expecting someone else?" or perhaps "Are we too close for comfort?") The grouchy old woman said -- in a none-too-pleasant tone -- "Yes, you're in the way. I guess we can get up when the parade starts."

Oh pardon us. God forbid that you might have to get up during the parade.

I couldn't stay near that. I walked to the other end of the block and found a great space in a grassy area that already had a couple of families. Excellent! I walked back, gathered our stuff, and we moved to the new place. Sass and Spyder were excited that there were other children and an area to play. It was all good.

One of the things that always surprises me about our parade is that every float throws candy. Every float. And most of the people who drive the antique cars have someone throwing candy too. It's like a candy festival.

The proof is in the candy bowl:

This is the only place I've seen that particular trend, where the children come home with as much candy as they did at Halloween.

We'll be sharing that stash.

Stories and essays

I love to read. I'll read just about anything, with few exceptions. I have little patience for erotica that disguises itself as romance. I'm not terribly fond of futuristic fiction. Technical works (computers, engineering . . . ) put me to sleep. Other than those, I'm game for almost anything.

Even though I love most types of books, two of my favorite types of writing are short stories and essays. I love the economy of words that those styles require. It's the type of writing that I attempted, despite my mostly insipid style. :)

My favorite short story is Maxine Hong Kingston's "On Discovery." It's one of the shortest I've ever read -- just 661 words -- but it speaks to me so powerfully. "Articulate silence" was a phrase that was used liberally when I was in graduate school, but it feel right when describing this work. I wish that it was in the public domain so that I could link to it, but alas, it is not. I have it in this book. There are several other excellent stories as well, but "On Discovery" is my favorite.

I can, however, link to the full text of one of my favorite essays, "Regrets for my Old Dressing Gown" by Denis Diderot. I can't say why I like it so much. It's not a particularly touching essay, but I find it so amusing that I find myself smiling and nodding and laughing each time I read it.