Friday, December 31, 2010

the wooly fox

So, we decided at 10 AM on Monday to take a road trip to Massachusetts to visit my family. At the moment, I'm trying to help my sister, Janet, set up a blog.


(It's not going so well. While I can post pictures in my blog, I can't post pictures in hers. We'll be trouble shooting this, tonight. Happy New Year!)

Janet and her husband, Bob, live on a farm in Princeton and they just recently opened a small country store, The Wooly Fox, where they sell crafts created by local artisans. She generously offered each of our children their choice of one gift from her store.


Of course my children selected the most expensive things in the store.


Someone suggested that we just throw wheels on the house, a hitch on our van, and tow the whole thing back to Virginia.


If you live in the area and ever head out to Mount Wachusett, drop by and say hello.


They're located off Route 31 and are open every weekend from 10-4.


Tell her Jenny sent you. Maybe if I can help her drum up some business, she'll forgive me for the years that we slept together and I consistently wet the bed.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

make way, hot mama coming through

Charlie and I agreed that this would be a "quiet" Christmas for the two of us. Sure, we would buy presents for the children, but we wouldn't go overboard with gift giving between ourselves since we're saving up for a new kitchen, bathrooms, roof and lawn.

I think Charlie's exact words were, "I really don't need anything" and in his mind, that meant he would get nothing for Christmas. But seeing as I'm his wife and I love him very much and we've been together for 20 years, I knew that he needed a few things, so I picked them out, wrapped them up and stuck them under the tree with a bow.

Namely, I bought him some winter socks, woolen mittens, flannel lined jeans, flannel pajamas, cozy slippers, snow boots, a warm jacket that wasn't neon yellow and intended strictly for the ski slopes, a small wallet since his was falling apart, a digital watch and a 2011 Day Planner. I also bought him some deodorant, toothpaste, razors, lotion and a 1-pound bag of Starbucks coffee for his stocking.

See? Very simple and yet very practical gifts.

On Christmas morning, as we sat down with our stockings, I opened my first gift. It was a delightful box of 3-pack underwear. The next gift was a dishtowel. The next gift was Aveeno facial soap and SPF-15 lotion.

Facial soap and lotion that I had actually bought for myself earlier in the week, and had put in the bathroom. Charlie spotted them in their boxes, snatched them, wrapped them up, and put them in my stocking. This totally cracks me up because I had been LOOKING for these things and had no clue my husband was gifting them to me. I thought maybe I had lost my mind and hadn't purchased them, after all?

Seriously. Isn't there a rule against that?

It's very important to interject here that Charlie surprised me by having professionally framed a priceless piece of art that had recently been found in my father's house, by my sister, Beth.


This picture had been painted more than 30 years ago, for me, by my pediatrician, whose practice was in the building next to "My Daddy's Store."


(AKA: My father's pharmacy in downtown Concord, Massachusetts.)

This is a very special painting to me.

I love it and I love that my husband was so thoughtful to have it framed.


Now, fortunately for Charlie, my Love Language isn't Receiving Gifts.

Because later, as we were opening presents from beneath the tree, the children handed me a small package that their father had also given to me. I opened the gift and there was another 3-pack of underwear. The next small package yielded more dishtowels. Then, there were two more boxes of 3-pack underwear. In addition to the beautiful framed picture, I received lotion and soap that I had purchased for myself, 12 pairs of underwear and four new dishtowels.

Granted, I needed new underwear. And dishtowels. So, I'm very thankful that my husband bought me these highly necessary gifts. For Christmas.

It's important to note that Charlie believes I broke the terms of our agreement by purchasing him anything. Which, in my opinion were his terms - not mine.

Nonetheless, last night, as I was carefully opening my four new boxes of underwear (!), I held them up for Charlie to see. My poor husband was feeling very badly that he hadn't bought me anything else for Christmas, so when I held up the first pair his eyes nearly bugged out of his head when I said, "Wow, Honey, these are awesome. They'll totally keep my back warm!"


Where and how did he come up with the size, I do not know.

But oh, how I laughed.

I laughed so hard and am still laughing just as hard, today.

Let's just say it's a good thing I have 12 new pairs of all cotton underwear that will probably fit me for the rest of my life.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas: in pictures

Yesterday, we stopped by a local firehouse to drop off a few toys that we'd picked up for the Toys For Tots campaign.


And after spending an hour there, I was reminded why firefighters are some of my favorite people on the planet.


Not only do they save lives and property and voluntarily put themselves in danger, they are kind and funny and they will patiently take the time to give impromptu tours of their station and trucks. And they will patiently answer any question a six-year-old can throw at them.


"When you slide down this pole, do you yell like Tarzan?"



When we returned home, Father and Daughter danced to The Nutcracker by firelight.


(He did more dancing than she did.)


(Notice her inspecting her nails while he pirouettes.)

Then, we decorated cookies for Santa.



Because we care, we tested them to be sure they were edible...


Then, we enjoyed homemade peppermint stick ice cream.


As we were cleaning the kitchen, the children - with no prompting from us - gathered around the tree and sang, Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!


Welcome, Christmas! Fah who rahmus!
Welcome, Christmas! Dah who dahmus!
Christmas Day will always be!
Just as long as we have we!

We love the Grinch and have only watched it 1,012 times this year.


Continuing with our tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve, everyone opened a new pair of flannel pajamas.


Then, I tried to get them to sit still for a picture. Without using a flash.


That was easy!

Oh, but wait a minute ... aren't there FOUR?


Come here, little blur!


Good, except you're blocking someone...


Good, except you're still blocking...


Good, except ...


Everyone, look at the camera!


This is as good as it gets.

No. Really. Look at our cherubs. How did I ever get so lucky?


A quick check of NORAD made us realize Santa has made it almost the whole way around the world. He's getting CLOSER! Children, you better jump in bed and cover up your head, because SANTA CLAUS is coming tonight!


We placed cookies and milk for Santa, nine carrots for nine reindeer and completed a quick rearrangement of the Nativity.


We read, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."


And then we tucked excited children in to bed. Because Charlie and I had done no gift preparation before yesterday, we spent the next seven hours putting together toys, wrapping presents and clearing up the house. This is what it looked like before we went to sleep.


And this is what it looked like, 10 minutes later.


(Not really, but not too far off, either.)

We climbed in to bed and two hours later, we were joined by Henry.

Two hours after that, William was awake.

Two seconds after that, his sisters were awake. Infact, I think his screaming "THERE ARE GIFTS UNDER THE TREE! SANTA CAME!" woke up everyone in a one-square mile radius. I really wish this picture came out better because it is an adorable shot.

The excitement of a child on Christmas morning is positively unrivaled...





At one point, there were snow flurries that turned in to fat flakes falling from the sky and we were beside ourselves with excitement that it was SNOWING on CHRISTMAS. But then it suddenly stopped and melted, so we ate more chocolate and contemplated getting out of our pajamas. Which we finally did ... four hours later.

One of the children's favorite gifts was this little John Deere ride on toy. I've always wanted to buy the children one of these, but we never had the space in San Diego.


Charlie realized that if he removed a pin, the speed would increase from 3 MPH to 6 MPH. Or some similar equivalent that would result in the driver going from "slow" to "fast."

I think the children's expressions captures it perfectly, especially Carolyn who reminds me of my mother whenever she's in the passenger seat and I'm driving. Today she has the grimace and arm brace down, I bet in the next week, she'll be stomping her foot on the imaginary brake, just like her Noni.


This has been a wonderful, magical holiday. Of course, the thought did go through my mind that if I hadn't lost my pregnancy in May, today would have been my due date. And while it did make me sad for a moment, I was so overwhelmed with just how blessed and fortunate I am, the sadness didn't last for long. I was also so tired, whenever I'd stop to think, I'd fall asleep.

At one point I was laying down, testing out a Pillow Pet and Carolyn stopped playing her brand new harmonica just long enough to ask, "Mom, do you have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head?"

Yes, love. I sure do.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

times change, feelings remain the same

This year, I completed all of my Christmas shopping on line. I'm extremely thankful that I was able to get everything done at night during my spare time, because if I had to go out to stores, I'd probably be stuck in the mall, right now. Cursing. On Christmas Eve.

There is no doubt, I am heavily reliant on technology. I use my computer(s) for everything from shopping to communicating to scheduling meetings. It is for that reason, this story of the Nativity, set during the "Digital Age" struck me as being so brilliant. And hilarious.

The Wise Men would have shopped at Amazon, too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

all she wants for christmas is her bottom right tooth

I'm not sure when exactly it happened. But at some point between the time the children went to bed last night, and the time that they woke up this morning, Carolyn lost her bottom right tooth.


This tooth has been loose for a long, long time.

Our nightly ritual of brushing teeth has been an absolute nightmare since about ... June ... because Carolyn would not let us put a brush near her lower teeth and the plaque build-up was getting out of control. So, I'd just delicately floss and do my very best to not disturb "the tooth" because otherwise the tears would flow and the screaming would commence and one might think I was trying to cut off my child's limb with a hacksaw as opposed to delicately clearing tartar away from the gumline.

For the most part, Carolyn has become an expert at biting all food with one of her molars. Although that has led to her consuming food in the most obscure ways - just to avoid any contact with "the tooth." But last night, during what can only be described as a temporary lapse of dental circumstances, she used her front teeth to bite in to a piece of pineapple and the loose tooth went SIDEWAYS in her mouth.

The tooth was literally, hanging by a thread.


Once Carolyn realized what had happened, not only did she start screaming, all three of her siblings started to scream. The pandemonium over the impending loss of this first tooth was deafening. And yet, even though the loss of this tooth was obviously inevitable, she wouldn't let us touch it. She wouldn't let us touch her. She went to bed, fully confident God would fix it, over night. So when she woke up this morning and the tooth was gone, she was stunned.


Especially when we ripped her bed apart and couldn't find the tooth anywhere.

A few hours later, we overheard a conversation she had with her brother (who has been pining for her lost tooth so he could add it to his "collection") and they were developing a strategy that involved a cup and a spoon and how they would FIND that tooth. In the toilet.


Santa comes to our house. As does the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Even if there is no tooth tucked beneath a pillow to recover, the Tooth Fairy is extremely well equipped to make a gastrointestinal rescue, while our children are sleeping. At least that's what I explained to our children, therefore - CUPS, SPOONS AND TOILET FISHING ARE NOT REQUIRED.

Tonight, we went to a White Elephant (aka: Yankee Swap) Christmas ornament party at one of the neighbor's homes. This was the extremely appropriate ornament that Carolyn unwrapped. Now, she has a tooth that she can look at - to remind her of the tooth that she lost and swallowed.


And now, before I totally forget, the Tooth Fairy needs to go make a deposit beneath her pillow. He will be leaving a silver dollar which will hopefully, be received well. Carolyn had indicated she really (really, really, really) wanted the Tooth Fairy to leave her a guinea pig - but I'm afraid the little thing would suffocate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

operation wreck room (part 3)

The carpet installers showed up early this afternoon.


Because we have asbestos tile in the basement that we plan to leave in situ, the installers had to put down duct tape prior to placing the tack strips. The thing about asbestos is that it doesn't present a health hazard until it is friable. So, by placing the duct tape over (under? both?! clearly I wasn't paying too close of attention?) the tack strips when nails were pounded in, any microscopic fibers would be trapped before they became airborne.


Down went the padding.


For a few moments, I stood thinking how glad I was that we didn't take William's advice and go for royal blue wall-to-wall carpeting. I fear that prolonged exposure to this color might induce migraines.


In the few blinks of an eye, the guys had rolled out the carpeting.


Then, they proceeded to smack the sugar honey iced tea out of their knees using this tool that helps to "stretch" out the carpet. While I'm surely certain, also rapidly accelerating bone loss.


We really debated the carpet for this space and we finally settled on the color "Spud" from the Martha Stewart Vanderbilt collection. We interviewed five different carpet stores and none could compare with the warranty and price of this particular brand. I absolutely love it. I love the texture, color, pattern and perhaps most of all, the fact that it isn't orange shag with moldy padding.


The kids love it, too.

Very, very, very much. They went to bed two hours past their bedtime because they were having so much fun playing. And well ... Charlie and I were having so much fun unpacking and rejoicing in the warmness of this room, we completely lost track of time. It's amazing. New carpet + new paint = the wreck room has become a rec room with a whole new feel.


I'll post a picture once it's finished but in the meantime ... we're planning to take the 50-year old lights out and install simple track lighting. My question to those who have been trooping through this remodel with us, is whether you'd opt for black or white track lighting?

Here's the white.


If I had more time to spend searching for the black, I'd show you a picture of that, too. But since I need to go help Charlie install glass fireplace doors just imagine that same exact track lighting style...



Whaddya think?