"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Monday, December 29, 2008


I am happy to report - thrilled to report - that this Christmas was one of the best Christmases I think we've ever had. Not that we've ever had a bad Christmas... we've been extremely blessed in this regard. But this year really was particularly joyful. Everyone was healthy after two months of sickness, everyone was happy, the food was good, the presents were fun, and the laughter was plentiful.

You certainly can't tell from pictures like this one:

but Santa really scaled down the presents this year. The extra presents were NOT missed!

Everyone loved their gifts, and had a good time sharing them throughout the day - from Wii games to strategy games to lego sets.

The food was simple: lasagna and garlic bread. And of course things to nibble like crab dip and shrimp and crudites. I got my wish for a greener Christmas too. We didn't use any paper plates or plasticware,and didn't generate nearly as much trash as usual! We had the traditional Christmas cookies for dessert, my mom brought her pumpkin whoopie pies, and for the grand finale we had Baileys in little chocolate cups.

I adore Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, December 22, 2008

Three Days till Christmas...

The stockings are hung, the tree is trimmed, and the cookies are... well they're not done, but they're close! I think Mom got a little ambitious thinking that it could wait until the 22nd, but we'll get them finished. It probably would have been a good idea to get them started this weekend, but once again we just didn't stop moving long enough.

On Friday night, we went through with our plans to drive through the nearby neighborhoods and look at the Christmas lights and decorations. Let me just stop right here and say that we have *no* decorations outside our house, save for the little $.99 wreath and bow from the dollar store on our front door. Our next door neighbors have a strand or two of lights strung around a pole, and the people across the street have a couple of those light up deer. That's it. So the boys were EXTREMELY excited when we pulled into a newer development, the kind where people push their electric bills to staggering limits all in the name of outdoing their neighbor in the Christmas light war. Not just lights mind you, but trains and carousels and snowmen and polar bears and big blow up Santas riding everything from Harleys to race cars. It was a sight to behold for sure, and five of us thoroughly enjoyed the excursion. Tegan would have enjoyed it too, but she'd fallen asleep by the time we left our own street.

On Saturday, the boys did something that they couldn't do 5 days before Christmas in New Hampshire. They rode their bikes and played hide and seek with a friend in the park. Paxton had baseball practice, and afterwards they all played and rode for nearly two hours while Tegan and I shopped. We missed church on Sunday (a curse on this cold-that-never-ends!) and the boys spent much of the day making Christmas presents for relatives. Everett also found the movie "Spy Kids" on TV, taped it, and has now watched it four times.

But what was I talking about? Oh yes, cookies.

The peanut butters are done, the butter cookie dough is chilling, and the oreo balls are done and just need to be dipped.

The boys can never resist making a couple poop-shaped cookies instead of balls.

And just because I need to take pictures of the baby when I take pictures of the boys:

Can you get over those big green eyes?

Friday, December 19, 2008


Ah, cold and flu season. Just when we think we've got it beat, in rolls another round of runny noses, coughs, and congestion. This latest go has been particularly miserable, and put a bit of a crimp in our merry-making. Still, with the exception of having too many things to do and not enough time to do them, we are happily continuing our count-down till Christmas. This week we had a family Wii night, sent cards online to soldiers (you can do that at Lets Say Thanks and at Holiday Mail for Heroes) and made Peppermint milkshakes. Tonight, provided everyone's feeling up to it, we're taking a drive around the local neighborhoods so we can collectively ooooh and ahhhh over everyone's Christmas lights. Six more days!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

Everett got the party started

and was soon joined by the others





Saturday, December 13, 2008

Date nights, campouts, and candy

So I didn't reach my daily goal. One might think I failed; that I didn't finish what I started. But I prefer to think of it in the positive... I wasn't afraid to try. :-)

My brief little blogging hiatus was for no other reason than we were busy having fun! Thursday night, the kids stayed with our neighbors - and friends - while Mike and I did something we haven't done for two years: went on a real, live date. Unless going to the emergency room counts as a date? We put in an appearance at the office Christmas party, and managed to be fairly social for nearly two hours. After we filled up on hors d'oeuvres, wine, and cupcakes, we were off to the movies, where we laughed our way through an hour and a half of Vince Vaughn. Heaven. I was a little nervous about leaving Tegan, as the last time I'd left her for that long she was three months old (and I was heavily drugged) but she did beautifully. She was sound asleep on our neighbor's lap when we got home.

Last night, we all camped out in the TV room with the Christmas tree. Not much makes me feel as old as sleeping on the floor all night. I've got aches in places I didn't know existed. It was worth it though, as the kids and the dog were all excited about the prospect.

And today, today was surprisingly go-go-go for a day that was supposed to be lazy and unscheduled. Paxton had a baseball practice at noon, and it took place at a new field. We arrived right on time with the whole family and the dog in tow, only to be met with a sign that informed us that Sophie was not welcome. I drove her home, used some cheese and some coaxing to get her in her crate, and hoped and prayed for the best. She did chew up her bedding, but wasn't in full-on panic mode when we returned, which was a big improvement. Even better, there was no blood and no injuries. Progress is good. After the practice, we somehow lost the entire afternoon. By the time we made it to the grocery store and home again, it was 7:00. Today's project was supposed to be making Christmas candy, and we just got it in under the wire. It won't be ready to eat until tomorrow, but we're pleased so far with our first attempt at peppermint bark.

As long as noses aren't quite so runny, tomorrow we'll be joined by my sister and her family at church. It'll be the first time they've visited with us, and we're all looking forward to it. And even though the weekend will be over, Monday won't seem quite so bad. As of yesterday, Mike has only 7 more work days until his TWELVE days off. We're all looking forward to that too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"She's got some cool moves"

That was Mike, just now, talking about his character in Tekken Tag Tournament, a video game he's playing with the boys. Spencer and Everett are both laughing, Paxton is giving tips and encouragement, and Tegan is amusing herself with one of the dog's balls. It's a happy, if noisy, night.

We were supposed to look at the stars tonight, but they were few and far between. Everett wanted to get the telescope out anyway, and I promised we would do just that after dinner. We went for a walk first, Tegan in Daddy's arms, and Everett swinging from my hand every time he jumped a crack in the sidewalk. We got out the telescope when we got back, and Everett and I looked at the few stars, the moon, and the lights on the neighbors' houses. We heard caroling at one point, or maybe even some sort of choir practice, which moved me and tickled Everett. An old man walked by, and chatted happily with Everett as he rounded our corner. We stayed out until Everett annouced we were done, and we retired inside for another big mug of hot chocolate. The boys played a game with matchbox cars (All three of them. At the same time. With no fighting) and Mike and I spent a good half hour just watching the dog work on getting biscuits out of her Kong ball. Mike decided he wanted to play a game, which brings me to the present, and the Playstation game, and the cool moves comment. Sometimes I play with them, sometimes I'm in the other room... right now, I'm just the quiet observer, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

It's a good moment, and a good night, to be a mom.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I take it all back

Who can be stressed with this kind of comfort food? Christmas Tortellini Soup. Bacon, Spinach, and cheese-filled pasta all in one bowl?! Come on. And for dessert, the often sought after, but seldom achieved, perfect cup of hot chocolate, complete with mini marshmallows and whipped cream.

I'm trying to remind myself - as I often try to remind myself - to live in the moment, to appreciate the little things, to thank God for each and every gift... from the warm food to the cool whipped cream. And oh those mugs; how I still love those striped mugs. Somehow, it all works.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I got an email today that made me realize I haven't been very honest. It was from someone confessing to not being in the Christmas spirit, and her belief that *I* was in fact, enjoying all the wonders that lead up to the holidays. This is the truth...

Yes, we've been looking forward to the holidays; and yes, the kids have been having fun - most of the time - with the advent calendar. Today was board games, and we played almost a full game of Pay Day and did our best with Monopoly. But in the interest of full disclosure:

Today there was more bickering than laughing.

There has been a weird energy in our house at night lately, and none of the kids have been sleeping well.

I, along with millions of other Americans, have been insanely stressed out about money. And money worry is a worry so pervasive that it invariably seeps into all other aspects of life.

And finally, we are having visitors in two weeks, and there is a very real possibility that I will have to stay at home for their entire visit, as the dog still cannot be left safely alone.

It's a Monday.

Stay tuned for your regular programming of Christmastime fun starting tomorrow.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Carpet Picnics

We love carpet picnics. We have carpet picnics on New Years Eve, to watch the Superbowl, to watch the Oscars... and sometimes just because. Today's was a "just because" picnic. The rules of carpet picnics are few. There must be a sheet down on the floor, there must be something good on the TV, and the food must be finger food with no nutritional value whatsoever. Tonight the sheet was striped, the movie was "Space Chimps," and the food was in the form of sticks, tots, and wings. Happy 18 days before Christmas!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bikes and Ice Cream

Today was Spencer's Cub Scout Bike Olympics. It was actually the first year we've made it. (Last year it was rained out, and the make-up date didn't mesh with my gall bladder/pregnancy/sickness issues.) It was like most scouting events - noisy, a little disorganized, chaotic... but ultimately a lot of fun, at least for the kids. There were four events: a coasting race, a speed race, a slalom, and a slowpoke. Spencer didn't place in any of them, but he didn't seem to mind, and he was in good company. Only about half his den ended up placing. They all got medals, had a good time, and enjoyed hot dogs and chili with their families. Paxton and Everett spent most of the time on the playground, Tegan watched the activities from our laps, and Sophie enjoyed meeting and greeting all the kids and parents.

After it was all over, we headed out for ice cream (today's pick from the advent calendar) and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out outside and soaking up the December Arizona sun.

Being social all day always wears Tegan out. Unless she was just spent from the excitement of the her first Dorito, swiped and gobbled from my plate:

Friday, December 05, 2008


I don't know why we don't make homemade pizza more often! We almost always have the ingredients to make it, the kids are always thrilled when I suggest it, and everyone loves the finished product. Tonight was no exception.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

And on the fourth day...

... they made ornaments! Paxton wanted to make a small, traditional, snowman.

Everett made a snow person with his own personal style.

Spencer's wasn't complete until he added a purple half-shirt and a belly button.

This is what happens when you leave a four year old alone with a Sharpie. Was he ever proud of his manicure!

And this is our latest box from Amazon. They come daily this time of year. The boys were in awe of its size, and wanted me to take a picture. To the left of the box, you can see the door jam that a poor scared Sophie chewed up the first time we left her alone in the house. We are working on gradually training her now, and praying that her separation anxiety lessens as her trust in us grows.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pictures and Movies

Today we were supposed to take pictures of each other - and we did, lots of them - but we also made snickernoodles, launched a rocket on the back patio, and watched The Polar Express in 3D. I wasn't sure how well the 3D movie would go over. The boys were all excited to watch it, but the last time we'd tried a movie in 3D, we had to leave the theater just minutes into the showing. This time though, they loved it, and can't wait to watch it again when Mike is home.

As for the pictures... I have a lot of hams! I may take some another day for a Christmas card, but I'm thinking it won't be necessary. We're not a shiny, polished, Christmas card kind of family. But these are my kids - my funny, goofy, wonderful, happy kids - in all their glory, both behind and in front of the camera. All the pictures here, along with the rest of them, will of course be posted to Photobucket as well.


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