When Life Gives You Lemons...
Right now, I am supposed to be in Denver, at a very swanky hotel, for a two-night getaway with my sweetie David. We'd planned it for a while and were very excited for the time with each other. We did not, however, plan for the root canal David needs that put the nix on our trip. Poor David is in so much pain, but his procedure is tomorrow so there's hope on the horizon. Once I realized we were stuck here, I had to plan to get the kids out of the house while David alternated between writhing in pain and passed out on vicodin.

Here I am combing the Internet for things to do in our hometown.

After a huge trip to the library (we usually check out 80 books at a time, no joke!) we went to one of our favorite toy stores. It is full of educational toys so they have them all on display where you can touch and experiment with them. Lily fell in love with the animal puppets and the kids put on some kind of crazy animal kingdom--where sharks and zebras cohabitate--play.

Carver's all-time favorite creature--the owl! Right after this Zinabu attacked me with a shark puppet.

Lily puts the bear and porcupine into submission.

We headed to a gymnastics gym in town for free play and my kids RAN AROUND FOR TWO STRAIGHT HOURS!!!! I would throw water bottles at them occasionally and pick foam out of Zinabu's curls when he zoomed by. My kids ran their little legs off! I have a good feeling about bedtime tonight. Ca-ching. The owner of the gym is from Russia, and she hollered at kids once in a while just to give the whole experience an Eastern-European/Bela Karolyi feel. Quite a nice effect.

Z in the huge foam pit. I only feared losing him two times.

The awesome bungee cords. Lily loves the flips.

A little blurry but you get the effect.
So even though I'm not on my mini-vacation with David, we had a fantastic day together. David would rather just wake up sometime in the next year and forget about this entire week. Depending on how much vicodin they give him, he might just get his wish!


At The Germ Factory....(I Mean, Zoo)

That is Zinabu's hand and a giraffe tongue. Right after this, Lily had a turn. Mmmmmmm!

Me and my new pal!

The African Millipede, that everyone touched, of course. We had a great time at the zoo the other night. The lights they put up are fantastic, and the animals were all rowdy and active. We saw the mountain lion feeding, and that pretty much put the fear of God in each of us. It got chilly that night, but the zoo makes small bonfires at different stations, so we warmed our noses at appropriate times.
Today I am going to my cousin's wedding shower, which means for the first time in a few days I will get fully dressed and engage in stimulating conversation. David is still so brain-fried from his PhD program and work that he's just now speaking in coherent sentences. Bless his heart.


Look at that face. That pretty much sums up that last 24 hours. We did Christmas a little different this year: we opened presents on Christmas Eve, because that's how David grew up doing it. Since we've had presents on Christmas morning for the last 11 years, I thought we could do it his way just this once. {So benevolent, I know.} The kids were delighted, although yesterday was freaking crazy long and resulted in forced time on the trampoline.

Today we are going to my mom's for dinner and to see my brother and sister-in-law. It is a balmy 50 degrees, so I think we'll even go to the zoo for the Christmas lights they have there.

From all of us to all of you: Merry Christmas!


Is There Money In This?
We made snowflakes the other day and despite Zinabu's limited scissor ability, we all made some beautiful ones. However, Carver more or less freaked me out with his intricate designs and attention to detail. Here are mine:

And here are Carver's:

Always loads of fun when your 10-year-old puts you to shame in a paper craft.


A List I Can Finish

There was a version of this list in my Real Simple magazine this month, and I loved it. I tweaked one or two items, but for the most part it's the same. I think I can do everything on this list today!!!

  • Hit snooze
  • Shampoo. Rinse. Condition. Rinse.
  • Forget to floss
  • Eat a bagel
  • Forget to put laundry in the dryer
  • Screen phone calls
  • See mailman coming and mentally slap self for still not finishing Christmas cards
  • Put off remainining duties while browsing facebook and etsy
  • Skip pilates
  • Eat a burrito
  • Pick up book on nightstand
  • Read one paragraph
  • Leave eye makeup on
  • Lights out

Don't ya love it?

In random other news, Lily got a letter from someone in her biological family. It is a big deal--not bad or scary, but a big deal. I'm looking for the right time--as it presents itself????--to sit and talk with her, show her the letter, and help her process. If she feels all right with us telling other people then I will share more here. But it's her life and her family and it's her choice.

I am truly considering "locking" Zinabu's hair. His hair is gorgeous! Perfect ringlets all over his head. But they get frizzy and crazy looking when he sleeps on it... so it's in the back of my head.

And the best news ever? GRACE IS HOME!!! She was practically in a coma on Tuesday night and the doctors warned that she might not ever wake up, or talk, or walk again. Not only is she all better, she is home and happy and back to normal.

I love miracles.


Recently Overheard

Lily has been pretending to be a reindeer lately--with the red nose. She takes a red marker and draws a big red circle on her nose. So this morning she was Rudolph and this is what I heard.

Lily: Zinabu, you have to make my bed for me.

Zinabu: Why?

Lily: Because I am a reindeer and I have hooves, not hands. I can't do it.

Zinabu: Okay!

What a sucker.



Have I mentioned how much I love my blog family? You are amazing. The update on Grace is that they've almost completely ruled out bacterial meningitis and are zoning in on a central nervous system infection, or encephalitis (no clue how to spell that), which is an infection in the brain. She remains in ICU, on lots of meds to prevent seizures and movement, and she is strapped in the type of bed that keeps her immobile. The scariest part is that she has not yet fully regained the ability to speak and there is the chance of permanent brain damage. Several of us are doing what any of you would do--which is make calls, take turns watching her other child, make meals, and offer support. Because you just feel so helpless.

This has brought back horrible memories of when Z was in the hospital. Thankfully we are past that and hope and pray Grace will be home, completely recovered, soon.



My friend B dropped her daughter Grace off at kindergarten today, just like any other day. At noon she got a call her daughter did not feel good. Her daughter threw up in the office right before B came to pick her up. On the way home, her daughter had a massive seizure. She is in the hospital right now where a CAT scan is showing this is probably not epilepsy. An MRI, spinal tap, and EKG followed. We are waiting for results as her sweet daughter lies in the intensive care unit, listless and unable to talk. I kissed my kids extra hard tonight and brushed my hand over their foreheads gently, barely able to hold back the tears... knowing how precious their lives are. How we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Please pray for Grace.


Behold! The Truffle!

There was one moment today when I almost put my face in the bowl and licked it all up, but I refrained. I got this recipe from Vivi, who writes a sometimes-cooking/sometimes-mom blog. I like all her recipes because she posts them when they work for her and work for her family. I can relate to that! The recipe is easy and makes such a yummy treat. I made these for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon on Wednesday, so David if you eat ANY OF THESE you are dead meat!
All you need is a package of Oreo cookies, a package of cream cheese (softened), and white chocolate bark, melted. (You could certainly use regular chocolate, but I like the white for the holidays.) I also like that these don't have to be perfect. You save a little crushed Oreo to sprinkle over the tops and it covers all the imperfections.


Saddest Conversation Ever
Yesterday after school some other insane moms and I hosted an after-school craft party for 50 kids. There were 5 moms, so we had 10 kids at 5 tables and each mom was "supposed" to supervise a table. Unfortunately, 2 of the moms didn't understand their helping role very well and just sat by their own child and "helped" their child make their crafts perfect. So that left 3 moms and 48 kids... and it felt a little like 500 kids at times. Lots of glue, lots of noise, and lots of craziness. I had brought a DVD along just in case we had a little extra time at the end and needed the children to be sedated...er, I mean, quiet. That was a stroke of genius on my part because some of the kids raced through the crafts in record time and we had 30 minutes before their parents were scheduled to pick them up.

And here comes the sad conversation. When it was finally time to leave (after lots of clean up and seeing the last child off) I left with my kids and one of Carver's friends. We were giving him a ride home. He saw me put the DVD in my bag and he asked, "Oh, is that your movie?" I responded, "Yes, well... actually it belongs to the library but we get to keep it for a few more days."

Stunned silence.

"You can get movies at the library?" he said. "You sure can! And they're completely free." I told him.

"I've never been to the library before," he said.

WHAT????? WHAT???? Are you serious????? I was screaming in my head. He is 10 years old. How is that possible? How much I take for granted...that kids have parents who like to read and go to the library to get free books, magazines, movies, audio books, whatever.

I want to cry.


As good as it's going to get. This will be our Christmas card photo, so to all my blogger friends, here you go! I took this photo right after Zinabu accidentally kicked Carver in the head and Carver got mad and yelled at him. Aaaaahhhhh, such sweet memories. Still, no eyes are closed, they're smiling, and it's not blurry. That's a keeper!
Obligatory Elementary Holiday Musical
Try saying THAT three times fast. Last night was the holiday music concert at the kids' school. Orchestra, band, and choir. It was so sweet, albeit sometimes squeaky and shrill...but you just can't beat a bunch of kids dressed up and singing and playing instruments. Carver loves music and loves to perform. He had a hard time deciding between his regular red tie or his blue bow tie, so he wore the red tie to school and the bow tie for the evening performance. I was so proud of him for not getting any food or dirt on his white shirt. A true Christmas miracle!

Some of Carver's friends. Jada is the girl on the left and she is one of Carver's best friends. They eat lunch together every day and she gives him butterscotch pudding and tells funny knock-knock jokes. She is the sweetest little thing.

Carver getting ready to play. He had a ball!

We had a fabulous snow storm last night and we are hibernating today, so I have no more excuses not to clean the house. Really. No more excuses!


And For Zinabu...

I found this cape at www.loveseptember.etsy.com. My aunt, who is amazing, made Carver a cape when he was 3 or 4 and Carver still wears it. I wanted Zinabu to have one too, and I like that this one is double-sided. His will have the letter "Z" on it, obviously, and blue with blue flames. Perhaps this is the time I confess to you all that I hate to sew. I detest it. I loathe it. I don't know why, but it drives me bananas. I will happily let someone else stitch things up for me.
We do a mix of things for Christmas. Some handmade, some new, and some recycled. We have a rockin' thrift store here and my kids are very, very used to getting 90% of their wardrobes there, as well as the occasional toy. Because they're used to it, they are just as happy with a toy that is slightly used and not brand-new-in-a-box. Still, I do have to make a run to Toys R Us this week and do some serious shopping. I don't do a lot of gift exchanges with friends so I don't have to do any shopping there. I am doing a lot for the staff at my kids' elementary school. But other than that, it's just family and David.
Oh. David. Um... I'd better get started on that.


Too Cute!

Look what Lily's getting for Christmas! She is really into hedgehogs lately, and I found the hedgehog ponytail holder at AmyGaines2 on Etsy. Lily is ga-ga for anything animals, and these are so sweet. Not to mention they're super cheap and being shipped to my house. Gotta love Etsy.


Living in the Land of Crazy

While my husband walks around with fake eyeballs, I try to pretend I have a sweet, normal life. Never mind the fact that I have endless and repetitive conversations with a 5 year old for most of my day. For example, Zinabu came up with this zinger last week: Mom, when I ask for food, you either tell me yes or no. What a deep revelation. You can tell that {whatever} mundane thought flits through his mind HAS to come out of his mouth. And never mind that I have a 7 year old feminist lawyer living under our roof. Kids have rights too, you know, Mom! she said this morning. Uh, okay. And let's not forget my oldest, the child who has taken to sleeping in his clothes to get ready for school faster in the morning. He has the rumpled look down, for sure.

I'm wondering where I fit into all of this. Perhaps I don't want to know.


100+ Things

This was on Katie's blog (thanks Katie!) and it is such a great list. It made me realize what a great life I've had so far.

Bold the things you’ve done, and add your own interesting thing at the end of the list:
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Spent a summer “abroad”
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train/flight
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (just a piddly half-marathon)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Been at the top of the World Trade Center
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (funny story!)
47. Had your portrait painted / drawn
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (not anywhere worthwhile...)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Paid off a mortgage in full
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving/parasailing
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the CN Tower
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Criss-crossed Canada
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle--sorry Mom!
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person--next summer, though.
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox--I rock this one! I've had 'em twice.
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous--oh, Bono! Remember that day?
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby/been pregnant
95. Witnessed a birth (you mean live? not on TLC?)
96. Been present at a death
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone--I almost missed this one! Rats!
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day
101: Peed on the side of the road as an adult (added by Malia’s Mama)
102: Milked a cow (added by Diane)
103: Been white water rafting (added by Jayme)
104: Been surfing-always wanted to but too afraid of drowning!
105: Here's mine: Posed nude as an art model for an artist. (Nothing revealing and it was for my friend Julie, but still...)


The Perfect Storm

We had an unexpected snow storm yesterday and it made the end of our Thanksgiving break such a delight. Let me tell you, when we bought our house we had no idea that the big hill at the park across the street would be such a major part of our lives. When it snows, my kids become sledding/snowboarding fools. Carver was literally gone all day. Lily and Z went in phases. 2 hours sledding, then 2 hours inside. The snow was beautiful, and we had a fun, fun day being together.

Lily and Zinabu are under the red quilt, pretending to be elephants. They were a riot.

I don't get out Christmas decorations until 2 weeks before Christmas. But we did make paper chains to count down how many days until Christmas. Each kid got one attached to their chair. The bonus? It makes for better table manners since they don't want to accidentally damage their chains.

Sugar cookies! We baked and I let the kids decorate with abandon. Aren't they ugly? Ooooh, I love kid projects. And the best part is they taste just as yummy no matter how they look.
{Don't forget! If you're a coffee drinker, go to Starbucks today to help contribute to the Global Aids Fund.}