Monday, December 31, 2007

It's almost time!

For a new computer? That's for certain as I do not have enough memory left to upload one single photo or scan one more layout. That problem will be resolved later this week.

But really, it's almost time for the new year! Are you ready with your resolutions? I am going to post my list tomorrow - it's all about accountability this year. On that note, I am also embarking on two new year-long projects that are sure to provide much future blog material.

First, Justin and I are going to cook through the Nigella Express cookbook this year. Yep, that means we are going to cook every single recipe, even the 27 seafood recipes, which should be a delightful challenge as I don't eat seafood. I guess I do now!

Next, I am taking my friend Francine up on her challenge to join Project 365 - taking a photo every single day. Come to think of it, I may start a separate blog for this but that is a decision to be made tomorrow. Stay tuned! You can get more information about Project 365 here:

And finally, do you have your one little word ready? I first heard about this concept on Ali Edward's blog and my friend Marci ( convinced me that I needed to try it this year. So, my word for 2008 is FOCUS. That seems a bit odd considering the scattered nature of this post doesn't it? But it's a very appropriate word this year because Justin and I very recently decided that I will not be returning to full-time work when Grace starts kindergarten in the fall. Instead, I am going to pursue a dream and as everyone knows, pursuing a dream means a lot of focus. More on this later!

So that's it! I hope you have a very fun, safe New Year's Eve. If you are making any resolutions or you have a word to share, leave a comment!

Friday, December 28, 2007

I want to live here

We went to see Chihuly at Night at the conservatory tonight. Do you think the staff would notice if I sleep under a big fern?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Don't the days seem to speed up the closer it gets to Christmas? We spent the last few days in a whirlwind of baking and crafting and cooking and then suddenly, it was time to celebrate!

Today we have been much lazier, opening the last of the toys (and those Satan-inspired twist ties that are new and improved with TAPE on top of them), watching movies, playing with music on-line, reading and well, just generally being lazy. I love the holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

When good men get sick at Christmas time

it's never pretty for their wives. My dad has strep throat and Justin has a cold and my mom and I are trudging alone through the last minute to-do lists. I hope Justin is feeling better tomorrow though because I draw the line at buying my own Christmas present.

I had the brilliant idea to organize my scrapbook stuff last night after wrapping most of the presents. I spent hours (or did it only seem that way?) lugging things to the table, Justin's eyes getting a little bit bigger with every trip, until he finally had to say it. "You have a lot of scrap crap."

Well yes, yes I do. And I had bags of kits and class materials from two years just sitting in the closet - all containing even more "stuff" that needed to be sorted and integrated into my regular stash. After several hours of this, I realized two things: 1) I am going to need to get a lot of new storage containers after Christmas and 2) I never need to buy scrapbook supplies again. Ever. At about 1 am, Justin started to complain that I was keeping him up (he was sleeping on the couch because of the aforesaid cold which means he can't lie down to sleep. Are all men like this when they get sick?) so after hours of organizing, I just started throwing things back in bags and hid it all on the porch. A well conceived idea from start to finish.

Santa, if you are reading this, I really need a bookshelf for Christmas. With very tall shelves. Thank you!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Doesn't this look nice?

That speck of a human is apparently my brother. Does it look like there are any ropes up there? I can't tell. I'm told he is also in this month's issue of BackCountry Magazine, skiing in some secret location. Secret locations sound really nice. He lives in Taos. Taos sounds really nice too.

It was a rough day. This week was supposed to be calm and relaxed and instead it turned into a frenetic jumble of chaos. But tomorrow is looking good. I spent a good portion of today crying (sometimes, you just need to cry, right?) and I don't plan to spend any part of tomorrow crying.

Tonight I forgot to put sugar in the gingerbread cookies I made to decorate at Charlie's party tomorrow. But you can hardly tell and with some icing and gumdrops, who will know the difference? And Justin correctly points out that no kid is going to actually eat the gingerbread so I'm thinking I will just go with it.

So that's it. If you can string together the random threads of this post, you win a prize. Oh yeah. It was a rough day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I guess it didn't look good

So I ended up reading Grace several books, in her room. I heard the phone ringing but I ignored it. Several times.

I finally came out to my very disgruntled looking husband walking into the house with a huge package. Apparently he was stuck behind the Fed Ex man in our driveway for quite some time. An alarming amount of time. And I wouldn't answer the phone.

And it turns out the Fed Ex man was pounding on the door for some time since he was positive someone was home. So that's why the dog was barking.

And now my husband keeps making snide comments about the Fed Ex man. Maybe I shouldn't make New Year's resolutions.

My first resolutions for 2008

because I want to write them down and I want to be accountable.

I am going to read her a story. Every. single.time. she asks.

and I am going to take $1 from my weekly scrapbook budget every time I use the words "not right now" or "just a minute" or some similarly dismissive comment.

That will do it for now. Perhaps I should keep a running list.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Don't you just love the Antiques Road Show?

Especially in lieu of bringing all the Christmas presents out of hiding and commencing the wrapping? Really, anything will do. Star Trek Enterprise, Little People, Big World, High Stakes of Poker, The True Story of Noah's Ark. You know. Quality television.

My daughter has been kidnapped by Christmas elves and they have left a sassy, spitting, back talking imitation in her place. She is truly a spectacle to behold. I finally stooped to the "I'm so desperate I'll say anything" admonition and told her that I was going to send a letter to Santa and tell him that she is not being nice. She hissed at me.

If you are checking for updates of the Christmas journal, I apologize. I am basically up to date but haven't mustered the organizational energy to scan and post it. In the meantime, I see that Da Vinci's Lost Code has come on and I really must get busy watching it so as to delay the wrapping for one last day.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The story of a Christmas tree

First you have to go to a tree farm. If you are experienced, you already know which farms are muddy, which are on a hill, which are likely to have birds nests hidden in the trees and which ones have hot chocolate. First you will try a tree farm close to home but you will discover that Christmas tree farms close to home never actually have Christmas trees that are ready to be cut down. You will drive 250 miles and find one that is just a big empty field with a few trees randomly planted a long time ago. This tree farm will not have hot chocolate. Or restrooms.

At this point in the adventure, you will realize that you are cold and that everyone has to go to the bathroom. One of your children will have an asthma attack. You will find a tree 3 miles from the car and your pants will be wet and muddy from lying on the sodden ground to cut down your almost-perfect tree. Someone might announce that this will positively be the absolutely last year you will ever cut down your own Christmas tree. Everyone will still have to go to the bathroom.

The big people will struggle mightily to wrestle the 40 foot tree to the top of the car and tie it on with some package string and scotch tape and hope it stays put. Then you will drive home at 15 miles per hour, people behind you alternately honking impatiently and swerving in panic when it appears as though the Giant Sumac atop the car is about to catapult toward their windshield.

You will arrive home exhausted and trudge into the house, collapse and completely forget about the tree perched precariously on top of the car. You will remember the next morning when you march out the door, 15 minutes late for the Sunday School Christmas pageant practice, in the midst of a torrential downpour. The tree will hold tight long enough to make it to the church parking lot where several of God's children will point with laughter at your vehicle and you will duck down behind the steering wheel hoping that no one recognizes the 483 Strawberry Shortcake stickers your daughter has adorned her car window with. They will.

One of the big people will be convinced to cut the packing string off the tree and push the tree into a mud puddle beside the car before dashing madly back into the house and declaring the intention never to go outside again. The tree will wait in the rain. Eventually one of the big people will decide that the tree should come inside and will drag it through the kitchen and the dining room, knocking every magnet off the refrigerator and picture off the wall, leaving streaks of mud in its wake. After three hours of wrestling the stabbing needles of death into the tree stand and adjusting the tilt approximately 3572 times, the tree will be in place, awaiting adornment.

Three weeks later, the tree will still be in place awaiting adornment. If you have remembered to water the tree, it will still have some needles. One of the big people will decide to put Christmas lights on the tree and spend the next week untangling the lights that you are sure were put away very neatly the year before. If you are lucky, nobody will swear. The children will eventually decide to decorate the tree on their own and will randomly bring ornaments up from their hiding place in the basement one at a time. You will feel the need to remind them every three seconds NOT to put the ornaments in their mouths because the ornaments are made in China and are surely poisonous. The children will feel the need to taste the ornaments just to be sure.

Eventually one of the big people will feel guilty enough to bring all of the ornaments out of the basement and the decorating will begin in earnest. The children will pick one spot toward the right bottom corner of the tree and put 95% of the ornaments on three branches.

You will decide that what the tree is missing is popcorn strings and you will set the children to work hoping that they will not stab each other with the needles. The dog will eat the first popcorn string. The children will persevere on, fortified by the 15 pounds of popcorn they consume in the process. You will hang their creations on the tree. A cat will climb the tree to reach a popcorn string and eat half of it meanwhile knocking every single ornament onto the ground. The dog will eat a few ornaments before you manage to get them back on the tree.

Finally, you will finish the decorating and you will discover that the tree is not located near any outlets and that the only extension cord you can find is bright orange and must be stretched across the length of the house to the nearest outlet. Your cats will chew the orange extension cord. You will eventually realize that there is an outlet behind the tree that your smallest child can reach if she lies flat on her stomach and holds her breath as she inches under the tree and tries not to knock it over.

Finally, you will plug in the lights and declare that this is the best Christmas tree ever.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An interim update

Because I've been trying to wait until I have time to scan all my journal pages and I just don't know when that is going to be. Tomorrow maybe?

Grace has recovered from being sick but she has been having asthma attacks since Saturday. It's a different thing to worry about but at least we have medication for this one.

Charlie brought home a nativity coloring page he did at school today. I'm a bit curious about it. There is no question it's a nativity - Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus, star, shepherds, etc. I wonder what the Jewish student in his class felt about it. Really. I wonder if it's part of the curriculum or just something the substitute teacher came up with on her own. I'm pretty sure I'm not that happy about it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cabin Fever

My dear husband suggested on Monday that I might be suffering from this affliction. I scoffed. I insisted I could be a hermit under the right circumstances. 3 days later, my resolve is weakening. Grace is still sick. Worse, in fact. I am embarassed to confess that I've now discovered there is no such thing as a Scooby Doo marathon. Scooby Doo is simply on all day, every day. That's something good to know.

Today's prompt was to journal about a good Christmas memory and a bad one. I chose a "kind of" bad one rather than delve into the depths of my psyche. Charlie's first Christmas was so crazy busy, running to one place after another. We didn't get to sit down as a family and open our presents from each other and the very first presents from Santa until 5:00 in the afternoon. We've never done it that way again.

And the 2 peas prompt was to talk about holiday decorating. We don't have a schedule. We do it when we have the time and when inspiration strikes. We're about 1/4 done this year. Trees are up in the kids rooms. The stuff that goes on the walls is on the walls. Everything else will come out when we cut down the tree.

One of the cat ate Justin's favorite sweater this morning. Then he ate the cover of the book I'm reading. I think they're sick of having us around all day. Or sick of Scooby Doo.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Baby, it's cold outside!

I am home again today with a sick little girl. Right now she seems to be rallying and we might head out to the grocery store which was on my agenda before it became clear we weren't going anywhere today. Only now we are. See how that works?

Shimelle's prompt for Day 4 was to journal about your perfect Christmas. Yesterday got off all on the wrong foot. I woke up early to do the page before heading off to work but the prompt wasn't ready. It came right before I left and I pondered it all day and even played around with some ideas last night but it just wasn't working. So I went to bed early and as I lay there in the peace and quiet (finally!) I suddenly realized that I was struggling between the concepts of the ideal Christmas vs. my ideal Christmas.

You know, the Christmas portrayed with softly falling snow, a sense of peacefulness, animals gathering reverently outside the window to gaze upon the perfectly coiffed family opening presents one by one in front of the crackling fireplace. It sounds nice, doesn't it?

But that's just not how it is in my world. My family is loud and we are messy. Our houses are small and quite often, messy. (Are you getting the messy theme?) We rip into the presents and talk over each other and the whole experience can be quite overwhelming for a newcomer. (Or so my husband tells me.) But it's perfect for us. It's how it has always been. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

And the 2 peas prompt yesterday was: Does Santa wrap the presents or just put them under the tree? Of course he wraps them. Very messily.

Today Shimelle's prompt was Christmas countdown. So of course I journaled about our advent boxes which have been a hit beyond my wildest expectations. Okay, that sounds a bit dramatic doesn't it? Well, they have been a success. Justin was VERY skeptical at first. In fact, he might have shook his head in disgust and the thought that I have too much time on my hands might have crossed his mind. But he is a convert. Because the kids just love it. Wake up and race each other to the living room to open the day's box love it. Today our activity is to enjoy late night milk and cookies. And to do that, we will have to make the cookies. And they love it.

And the 2 peas prompt is something about hanging mistletoe. Which we don't do. Not for any good reason, we just don't.

And good news for any one who missed the Scooby Doo marathon on Monday. It appears to happen on Wednesdays also!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Snuggle up Monday

Today's prompt was Christmas cards. I knew I save the cards from last year for a reason!

I accidentally skipped yesterday's blog challenge from Two Peas. Hot chocolate or egg nog? Perhaps I skipped it because it's beneath my dignity to acknowledge the presence of the word egg nog in the same sentence as the word chocolate. Which actually should probably be capitalized. Chocolate. That's better.

And today's question is: What is your favorite holiday dish? This is a tough one but I always make a caramelized onion, blue cheese and walnut pizza on Christmas Eve. It is yummy! One year I didn't make it because I thought I was the only one who liked it and I was met with howls of protest and I think Justin ended up going to the store and we made it at the last minute. So yeah, yummy.

We are home again today. Everyone is feeling under the weather. Well except for Justin who insists he is going to get a motel room tonight so he isn't exposed to our germs. He has an abnormal fear of germs. But really, he is missing the Scooby Doo marathon and frankly, it is worth being sick just to get to watch Scooby Doo all day. And eat our own version of Scooby snacks.

The kids are so excited about the advent boxes. They are loving the activities we do together and the chocolate in the morning doesn't hurt. So happy to have made a new holiday tradition!

And just in case you are interested, Shimelle is still taking sign-ups for Journal Your Christmas. If 12 more people sign up, there will be 1000 people in the class! It has been fantastic so far, it really has contributed to our goal of slowing down and savoring this season. You can sign up here:

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

One the 2nd day of December

Shimelle's prompt today was to journal about the weather. And use a snowflake. Today is blechy. It froze yesterday and it has been pouring all day so when you go outside, it smells like dirt.... that wet, fresh smell of spring when the earth is waking up. I hope it doesn't wake the flowers again.

I am sorry to report that Justin passed on the Tinkerbell snowglobe. However, he could not pass up the blue and white flashing icicle lights. If any of the neighbors are reading this, I sincerely apologize.

I am feeling under the weather and unmotivated today. We're going to make a gratitude garland as the advent box activity this afternoon. And that will probably wrap up the day!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Merry merry!

The first page of my Christmas journal. Today's prompt was journal your manifesto. I adopted Shimelle's manifesto because it sounded pretty good to me.

And I got the advent boxes up! I'm going to put in the activity slips and hershey kisses when the kids go outside to play. Or something.

Justin insisted this year he is going to do the "Safe Auto" Christmas lights, i.e. the bare minimum. Then he went to Lowe's and called me because they have an inflatable snow globe with Tinkerbell in it. We are nothing if not classy.

It's the most wonderful time of the year

It seems like the arrival of December 1st really kick starts the Christmas season this year!

We open the first day of the advent calendar today (or at least we would if I had remembered to hang the advent boxes yesterday but I will get to it today, I promise. Yes, I will!)

And it's the first day of Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas class. (You can check that out right here:

And it's the annual pancake breakfast with Santa sponsored by the kids' daycare.

And did I mention that Tim Holtz has a blog? Okay, okay, I know you are probably getting tired of hearing about it, but he is doing an awesome 12 days of Christmas tutorial teaching a different technique every day. With giveaways!

And Sophia on Two Peas posted a Christmas blog challenge with a question for every day of the season. Today's prompt: Colored lights or white lights on your house, or none at all? We have traditionally been a white lights kind of family. I just like the timeless elegance, the little burst of "ah" you feel when you see those beautiful white lights shining in the darkness. But the last few years, as our kids get older, I think we've gotten a bit more playful and Justin has added some colored light accents in the yard... on a tree and on the wrought iron fence. He is mostly in charge of the outdoor decor and every year he seems to get more ambitious. Can't wait to see what he has in store this year!

My tummy is telling me it's time to go get some pancakes. Justin's snores are telling me it might take a while to get everyone out the door. I think it might be time to play some Transiberian Orchestra!