Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Dream Husband, Freudian Style

I have a dream husband. I'm not talking about the flesh and blood man currently sitting on the couch arguing with the television. He may or may not be dreamy. No, I'm talking about his imagined counterpart I meet from time to time in my dreams. That dream husband.

Surely you know what I mean? I enter Dream Land happy and content with my marriage, but somewhere between finding a missing classroom and rearranging furniture, I have a run in with Mr. Dream Husband. He proceeds to do something so horrid and unacceptable that I become instantly angry/offended/sobbingly sad. The reasons behind the emotion often remains hazy, but from my reaction I know they're terrible (the ones I do remember I would never share for your public Jungian* interpretations.)

I've screamed, I've raged, I've cried in frustration. And then I wake up, still seething. I remember the first time I met this dream husband, I was steaming all morning long. Poor real life guy couldn't figure what he'd done wrong. All these years later, I still wake up from time to time in the middle of an argument with dream husband, but I've learned to not take it out on poor flesh and blood laying next to me. I punch a pillow instead.

Do you ever wake up mad at someone because of what they did in your dream?

* I know that I put Freud in my title and then referenced Jung. Really, I thought the title was funny but Freud's ideas a little bizarre. I've read Jung's
Man and His Symbols so I relate to his ideas on dream interpretations better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Few of of Tricks of the Trade

You can’t be a mother very long without learning some tricks of the trade. Some things I wish had been more clearly stated in the owner’s manual (You’ve been doing things without an owner’s manual?!?) while others I’d rather I didn’t know so well. Here are just a few:

If I ever feeling a bit lonely and neglected (Ha!) all I need do is go to the bathroom or make an important phone call. All kids come standard with built in Mom-would-rather-not-be-interrupted-at-the-moment detectors. I will instantly become so popular that my children can’t wait another second before demanding my immediate attention. If those two things don't cross the threshold of detection, I can pull out the big guns by sneaking a treat from the pantry or sitting to read a book. Interrupting guilty pleasures, after all, is the Holy Grail of children's interruptions. If, however, I'm desperate for time alone, I just tell the kiddos it’s time for chores, bed, or homework.

I am an expert at getting rid of my kids' precious life works (aka busy work they bring home by the tree load daily).  I like to hide my children’s priceless treasures under the junk mail in the garbage can. For good measure I sometimes add any moldy contents I find in the fridge (although if discovered afterwards this is a huge backfire resulting in extra nastiness sitting on my counter until I can resneak it into the garbage). I find a practiced “You found that in the garbage? That’s horrible!” soothes the hurt feelings while still being truthful.

Breathing deeply through my mouth while chanting “it is only a natural bodily function” has gotten me through many a nasty situation. So have plastic gloves and the ability to clean while staring at the ceiling.

Some things are always in short supply and I’ve learned stock up when I find them on sale: crayons, chocolate, socks, patience, toilet paper, chocolate, computer paper, light bulbs and chocolate. This list is obviously noninclusive.  I didn't list, for instance, ice cream or sanity.

After fighting the battle to get the kids to clean their own rooms, I only check under beds and in closets if I am willing to fight the entire battle again. Or I’m missing a library book.
And that, my friends, is why I earn the big bucks when it comes to parenting.


This post is in response to being awarded an authentic mom award from my sister, whose post was absolutely hilarious.  Click on the link to read it.  She was kind enough to write about me, “She has 6 kids.....enough said. But if I had to go on, I would mention that she does more traditions with her kids than anyone I know and is willing to give up things that she wants in order to make her kids happy“.

You can’t get any more authentic than sneaking garbage, cleaning up unspeakably disgusting messes, and pretending you don’t know how kids clean bedrooms, right?

The rules were that I had to state 5 things that made me an authentic mother and then pass it on to 5 other authentic moms. I am truly terrible at passing these things along, so I guess I will open it up to anyone wanting to explore what makes them an real life mother.  Feel free to contribute.

Friday, January 22, 2010

On the Brink of the Teenage Years

When my children were younger I would, from time to time, find opportunity to sit and rock with them. Often my thoughts would turn to their innocence, awed at the absolute unknown of this little person’s future, overwhelmed at the bond I felt as their mother. Sometimes, though, I would think of the vilest of humanity: murders, tyrants, and other infamous persons. And I would wonder if, somewhere in time, a mother’s heart had once been pierced, her breath stolen for a moment, as she looked at her beautiful baby. Could she see the evil her child would one day become? When did they first glimpse the monster inside their child? Even the worst of us begin as innocent babes.

Whenever I’ve seen a marriage crumble, particularly in the early years of my own marriage, I would wonder when the cracks first appeared. Surely they were once happy to spend hours in each other’s presence, love sick? When did they suspect their marriage was doomed? Did they always know? Did they already know when they’d been married as long as myself or were they perfectly happy back then?

One day I watched a friend’s old family Christmas video. The years have erased the memory of why I saw it. Did I happen to stop by while it was playing? Was there something on it she wanted to show me? All I remember is seeing their son- one I had known only as a troubled young adult, deep into drugs and violence- as a happy, excited 10 year old. Exuberant over his new toys. Like all 10 year olds. This terrified me.

I suppose what I’ve wanted is some sort of guarantee that my happiness now will translate into happiness later. I liked to hope that lack of early warning signs meant an untroubled future. Even though my head warned differently, I could never get my heart to understand.

This week we found out my daughter was doing poorly in a couple classes. She didn’t tell us until the teacher sent home a note to be signed and returned. A lost book had led to uncompleted assignments and in a matter of a month her grades had been ruined. And I became scared. In middle school a poor grade isn’t so bad, but in two short years her poor choice could affect the rest of her life. In one month she could completely alter the course of her life- classes she can take, colleges she’ll qualify for.

And my heart finally admitted that I would have teenagers. I knew it. I knew it! Yet, somehow, I did not know it yet. My children will have to find their own way, make their own mistakes. They will make mistakes!  They will make life determining decisions and learn hard life lessons. Even though I knew this, I somehow still believed my children would be different. They wouldn’t hate me. They wouldn’t test rules. They would always trust my experience and come to me for advice. By force of my will I would raise the teenagers other parents envy. But my will is only part of the equation. I can only prepare a foundation, the life built on it is not mine to construct.

I think I want to go back to worrying about when they will dump the next bottle of shampoo into the bathtub. I have good kids with good hearts. But this week my heart finally accepted that there are no real guarantees for life. I pray for wisdom. I’ll do the best I can. I will always be their mother. They will always have my heart, even if they don’t always handle it gently.


I have a few posts to write related to awards I've received over the last week, but I felt I couldn't write anything till I had gotten this off my chest.   If you were expecting to laugh, try back next week.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reality Golf TV, Clean Houses, and Random Post

The other day I was thinking that golf couldn't get any more exciting.  After all what isn't exciting about hours of watching oddly dressed men hit little white balls over and over and over?   Of course there was that huge scandal recently, but I don't see any foreseeable way to incorporate that into the actual game, despite the ready made jokes it provided.  It was, however, more exciting than 10 years of watching golf.  But the game itself was still missing that little something...

And today my husband found the missing link.  Reality TV.  Did you know there was a golfing reality TV show?  Oh yes.  They compete to participate in a PGA tournament.  Because anticipation building music and strategically placed dramatic pauses for advertising suddenly makes golf interesting.  (They even use the whispered commentary for an authentic feel)

I don't know what I was thinking when I let my husband get the golf channel.

Of course, he spent his day off cleaning, so I really can't complain.  Maybe he saw my pitiful score on the housekeeping blog I keep with my sisters.  Perhaps he really liked the homemade blueberry muffins I baked for breakfast.  Pretty good chance he realized the puzzles on the floor weren't going anywhere anytime soon unless he took action.  I'm thinking the deciding factor was when he realized I was about to explode and decided helping me today was better than cleaning up Charlotte pieces from off the ceiling.  He even "encouraged" the kids to help.  My house is cleaner than it's been since ... since ... since the last time he took pity on me.

Why was I nearing spontaneous explosion? Because this is the last day of a four day weekend.   In the middle of winter.  And I lost my voice last Thursday so the entire time our kids could truthfully claim they "didn't hear me tell them to pick that toy up."  The four day weekend didn't do any favors to my already messy house, either. 

Due to today's day off, tomorrow will feel like Monday.   Which gives me a 50% chance I will miss any appointments this week, thinking I am living a day earlier than reality.  I apologize in advance. I would claim it was cruel and unusual punishment, but (1) it means Friday will come when I still think it should be Thursday, (2) I have a DVR so I won't miss any regular TV shows (if this golf one shows up in our to-record list, it may accidentally get deleted.  It is all I can do not to delete the real games' recordings.), and (3) I think I'm living in the wrong day of the week at least twice a month, even without Mondays off.

Anyway, to celebrate our clean house (and keep it clean longer) we took the kids out to eat at a newly opened restaurant.  Want to know what is worse than a disappointing meal?  Paying over $100 to eat it.  Did I mention that 3 of my kids now order off the adult menu?  Although I always love the look of panic when I tell a hostess we are a party of 2 adults and 6 children.  Never gets old.  By the way, what possesses a 5 year old to want a hot dog, a $4.00 hot dog, whenever we go out to eat?  We have hot dogs at home!

We got home just in time to put the kids to bed.  I am enjoying my clean house by ridiculing my dear husband who worked to get it that way.  I am going to repent, beg him to change the channel, and give him a foot rub. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why I Have Piles of Laundry With a Cold House and Am Still Happy.

Today is laundry day.  Laundry has never been an especially beloved chore for me, although since I bought my high efficiency washer and dryer I've stopped absolutely hating it.  I'm willing to do 9 loads a week, but 27 was just too much!  Right now my laundry may be gathered, washed, and dried, but it has NOT been folded and put away for 3 (maybe even 4) weeks.  I do have a very good excuse.  Alright, I can't really excuse not doing it, just explain how I can stand to live with the piles of laundry 8 people create in 3 (maybe 4) weeks.

It all started last January when we received our first winter electric bill in this leased house.  It was 4 digits.  After Peter pulled himself off the ceiling, we did some major revisiting of our cold tolerance.  The problem is that this house has no central heat and air.  It also, as far as I can tell, has minimal insulation.  And when the owners put an addition on they installed electric baseboard heating.  So the older part of the house uses oil and the rest is electric.  Electric heat stinks (that could be taken literally, ever leave a plastic toy on an electric heater?)

Since the house we own still hadn't sold when the lease here was up, we signed on for another year.  This winter we tried to prepare for the cold.  We moved my craft room upstairs to the younger boys' old room (electric heat) and put all four boys into the old craft room downstairs (oil heat).  Since the room isn't large enough for 2 bunk beds and dressers, we left all the clothes in the older boys' old room.  We then shut off those two rooms so we could only heat as needed.  (We also have some paranoid-to-see-the-next-bill troll who keeps turning off the electric heat in the master bedroom and kitchen with his angry trollish wife, blue lips trembling, threatening to keep the whole house at 75 degrees if she finds it off again.  But that is a different story.)

Anyway, it took me 1 whole week to realize the boys new "dressing room" was the perfect place to sort laundry.  It is, after all, mostly empty.  Plus, half the household's clothes actually belong in there, so less put away work.

Do you see the flaw?

I can shut that door.  Because the room isn't heated, I have to shut that door.  I never have to see the heaps of laundry and without their mountainous monstrosity taunting me daily, I can ignore them for weeks.  Three weeks (maybe four) to be exact.  I even (turned on the heat and) sorted them into everyone's piles one week then left them there to be dug into by family members searching for a pair of jeans or clean shirt.  Although they search quickly, motivated by their under-clothed bodies in an unheated space.

Tomorrow I am determined to tackle my laundry, subduing the mountain into tame mounds of folded T-shirts, pajamas, and underwear.  Mostly because I can't find my favorite pair of warm socks and my feet are tired of being half frozen.

You may wonder why we choose to stay in this house after we knew we would pay a fortune to heat it and still shiver all winter.  Surely not for a convoluted excuse to not fold laundry?  Surely not because I enjoy trying to get four boys to fall asleep in one tiny room.  You're right.  I wouldn't stay cold for that.  I submitted to chilliness to wake up to this every morning:

(Even when it looks more like this.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yes, I Really AM That Weird. Thanks For Asking.

Many mornings I try to convince myself that 5 more minutes of sleep will make the difference between a perfect day and a day in the life of grouchzilla.  So I hit snooze, but since I can't actually get back to sleep, I use my half conscious brain power to develop the best blog ideas ever.  I'm thinking most of the really good ideas are in the half I routinely forget before waking, because the ones I do remember don't usually look so good when fully awake.

Anyway, the other morning I was thinking some of my strange quirks might be fun to share with the entire world.  I not only (generally) remembered the the quirks later in the day, but it still sounded like a good idea.  Then Christine from Thoughts of a Lite Mocha Mom awarded me a Kreative Blogger Award.  The acceptance of which involves telling you things you may not know about me.

Convergence of half formed thoughts and opportunity can only lead to success, right (especially if it involves randomness, my regular state of mind)?  I enjoyed Christine's post, and am flattered she wanted to learn more about me.

So, are you dying to know all the deep secrets of my life?  Here goes:

I am a conversation jumper.  I think it perfectly normal to go from "Did you hear about that new species of birds in Britain?"  to "I prefer chocolate pie over banana." without any inbetween sentences.  The worst part is that in my head I've made the 1000 steps to connect the two ideas and have no idea the leap of sense everyone else has to make.

My husband finds this quite humorous and sometimes asks me to play connect the dots and explain the logic jump.  I married him because he was the first person who could follow an extended conversation with me.  Also, he was cute.

On a related note, I begin conversations from time to time with "What do you think about that?"  and end conversations mid-sentence, getting so distracted trying to find the right word that I enter a whole new thought process.

I have an unusual love for commas and, despite what it may look like, always take many out before I post.  Commas are not my favorite punctuation, though; I love semicolons best.

I have an unusual fear of looking like a tourist.  This really makes taking pictures on vacation as a . . . tourist . . . quite difficult and is why I have no pictures of my trip in September into New York to see Wicked.  I'm not sure, but I think this came from living in central Pennsylvania and feeling bad when the tourists would gawk over the Amish (not to mention downplaying my own desire to do the same). 

For Christmas I asked for and received a Shark Steam Mop and a king sized electric blanket.  I love these new toys way more than any self respecting 33 year old woman should.

For a long time I thought that Jack Nicholas was a famous actor who also played professional golf.  This speaks volumes to my (lack of) pop culture savviness.

My husband owns more shoes than I do.  He is also more likely to come home with a new outfit.  I am the frugal one and he is the spender.  So when women complain about their husbands stingy budgets, I daydream about what our life could be like.  You know, tiny house eating rice and beans in perpetuity.  Sounds lovely, right? (By "our life" I mean my husband as a penny pincher and mine not "our life" as the friend's husband and mine, that would just be creepy.)

Do you ever wake up in the morning and are surprised when you open your eyes because you are not laying in the position you thought you were (like you thought you facing the edge of the bed but were really on the opposite side)?  When I wake up that way, I shut my eyes and try to trick my proprioception into thinking it again.  That's right I try to talk my body into thinking I'm in a different spot on the bed than I know actually am.

And those are seven things you probably didn't know about me and might rather you didn't know now.  I also have a bizarre phobia about asking people to do things, a sort of fear of rejection (Bonus!  You get 8 things about me).  So if you'd like to take the chance to tell people about yourself, go ahead.  If you want to help make me feel less weird, but hate memes, you can tell me some odd fact about yourself in the comments.  If you do a post, I'll link to you.  Here are the rules:

The rules for accepting this award are:
1. Thank the person giving the award
2. Copy the award to your blog
3. Place a link to their blog
4. Name 7 things people don't know about you
5. Nominate 7 bloggers
6. Place a link to those bloggers
7. Leave a comment letting those bloggers know about the award

Thursday, January 7, 2010

That Time Peter Forgot to Tell Me He Hired a Housecleaner. No I'm Not Kidding.

It all happened a lovely September morning three years ago...

With my sixth child under one month old, my ensemble of sweats with limp elastic waistband and shirt decorated with spit-up perfectly matched with the tornado worthy wreckage that was my house. My husband was in the car heading to a convention lasting several days and my sister had driven up to visit her newest nephew.  We were chatting away when the phone rang.

The caller spoke in a heavy Spanish accent (which made it harder for my sleep deficient mind to understand) and asked if this were Dr. Later's wife.  We have had drug seekers call our house before so I warily asked the reason for the call. 

"I am coming over to talk about the housecleaning." 

Huh?  I have no idea what she is talking about.  Which I tell her.

"The doctor said I should come over and we could decide on a price for housecleaning.  I work with him at the hospital where I clean.  He hired me to be a housecleaner for you."

There are three obvious problems thus far.  First, my house is a disaster.  DISASTER!  No way I'm letting a stranger come in and decide what the cost of cleaning it would be NOW.  Second, I have company over.  Company that has driven 2 hours to get here.  Third I am the WORST negotiator in history.  Once, at the age of 12, I left a garage sale with a porcelain cat statue for which I payed double the first price quoted.  That's right I ended up paying MORE THAN THEY ORIGINALLY TOLD ME.  (Please don't ask what I needed with a porcelain cat, I was a weird child and it was the 80's.)

I had no idea what a housecleaner was expected to do or get paid.  None.  Never even considered it.  Do they wash toilets, windows, baby's rumps?  Paid fee for service, by the hour, set fee per time?  Combining my cluelessness with my negotiating skills and the lady might end up getting paid 25% our net income for changing the garbage liners every month, disinfecting extra.

"I need to talk to my husband.  We'll have to set up a time when he's home."

"No, I just pulled up outside your house.  I got lost, it took me a long time to drive here.  I am here now."

Please note that it was a little over a week since that woman had answered her door to a stranger and had her throat slashed and her newborn baby stolen.  Even if I was an excellent negotiator who knew everything about housecleaner expectations, had my house was in decent shape, and  didn't already have plans for the day, I wouldn't have opened my door.  I was freaking out at this point. 

"You CAN'T come in right now!  I'm sorry." 

"But I'm already here, I'm sitting in front of your house.   The doctor said he was going to hire me!  He said to come over and look at the house and agree on a payment!"  She was obviously a little freaked out by my freaking out.  Nevertheless, I wouldn't let her come in.  So she hung up and left.  I called my husband.

If oh-carp-my-wife-is-about-to-kill-me could be captured in tone, that is what my husband used when he replied to my less than coherent query with, "Oh, yeeeaaahh, I forgot to tell you about that.  One of the ladies that cleans the hospital is coming over to talk about cleaning being a housecleaner for you." 

I will not lie.  He got a tirade.  That included gems like "How could you leave me to negotiate?  You should know better by now!" and "Are you trying to tell me your embarrassed by our house?"  and "You would rather pay someone money than help do the dishes once in a while?!?" and the all encompassing "How could you do something like that without asking me and then forget to even tell me about it?"  In his defense both our mothers had been pestering him to hire help since the birth of our baby.  Something about making my life less stressful.  He had followed through on their advice, just not in the best possible way.

That poor woman wouldn't even speak to Peter after that.  And us?  We have never again discussed hiring a professional housecleaner. 

You are probably thinking along the lines of my friend who laughed herself silly when I told her the story and then laughed when she told her husband, but made it clear she would be perfectly happy if he hired a housecleaner, even if he neglected to tell her about it.  If so, I understand.

Monday, January 4, 2010

No Longer a Young Mother of Young Children

I foolishly thought, when I stopped having children, my family was done growing.  But my family is growing: taller, heavier, louder.  It was painfully apparent during Christmas break that my kids are taking up a lot more space than their younger selves.  We long outgrew cuddling on a couch and now we can't even squish onto two couches; we can barely crowd into one room!  What would have once been a rough house game in the middle of the carpet now spreads across the entire house, even at times spilling outside.  Silly giggles are replaced by hearty laughter and playful taunts.  We are already developing long-lasting inside jokes, the sort that carry into adulthood and make family reunions complete. 

I have lost my "young mother of young children" status.  This year my oldest has left Primary and my youngest has entered.  I am actually sitting through entire Sacrament meetings again.  I'm even able to pay attention to speakers!  Each week as I observe my family spread down the aisle (each with their differing levels of attentiveness), I am forced to admit that my kids are getting older.   As I look in the mirror I am forced to admit the same about myself.  Just when did that wrinkle go from seen-when-smiling to permanently-there?

I must admit I woke up the other day in a panic.  Years of parenting have been spent.  What if I'm wrong?  What if I should have been a helicopter parent after all or I have a fatal blind spot allowing major problems to fester for years unseen?  If I've been very slightly off course for YEARS how far off will I have dragged my children?  By the time I notice could it be too late to correct?  HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO NOTICE ANYWAY?

Then I remember.  The Lord sent me my children and it is my calling to be their mother.  I have done the best I can, I continue to do so.  After all, I can only offer my best and trust the Lord will magnify it to be enough.  I will continue to pray for guidance and try to do better.  And I will continue to watch in amazement as my family grows in ways I never imagined.

And I will use that recently bought eye serum every night, too.  Just because I've lost my young mother status, doesn't mean I have to have too many wrinkles, right?

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Year in Review

January last year started out with a healthy laugh.  My brother-in-law convinced my husband (and my eight year old) to bring in the New Year by wearing nothing but boxers while taking a midnight run in the ocean while everyone else trailed behind, properly dressed and thouroughly enjoying the display.  Did I mention there was lots of snow on the ground?

And so started a wonderful year for our family.  Below are some highlights of each month (at least the highlights I remembered to bring my camera for!):

~ January brings cabin fever which brings activities like turning oneself into a smurf. 

~I  did manage to sneak in a photo of Peter preparing for his snow run.

~ It snowed so much last winter that the kids didn't have a full week of school the entire month.  Of course, they loved the sledding opportunities.

~ Ethan had his birthday (an entire month late) at a local skating rink.

~ Peter loved his Darth Vader cake, even though I abandoned any attempt at black and went with varying degrees of chocolate.

~ Elise's performance with Chamber Choir.  Turns out it was her last before the teacher she adored left.

~ A quick (and COLD) trip to D.C. and Gettysburg.

~ After a several year hiatus, I began to make homemade bread again, this time with freshly ground wheat and my new Bosch mixer.

 ~ Kirsti's art was selected to hang in the local library!

~ My grandmother died and I was fortunate to able to attend the funeral and say my goodbyes and see family I haven't seen in a decade. 

~ My oldest turned 12 and started Young Womens {gulp}.  12 (being a multiple of 4) is a party year and she decided on a sleep over.

~ Ryan performed in his choir concert.

~ Easter break was spent in North Carolina with my sisters and their families.  We LOVE Marble Museum.

~ Dyeing Easter eggs before we left.

~ Ethan won 1st place at the pinewood derby!

~  What?  You don't play on the beach between sessions of LDS General Conference?  This was our first day out after winter.

~  Ryan and Ethan started baseball.

~ Elise went to a Trivia Bowl.  Her team went for the geek look.

~ Ryan and his recorder recital.

~  My love and comfort:  the new hammock (until the stand broke a month or so later.   We have to fix that BEFORE next summer).

~ Zoo, where it was clear to me that my kids are just as wild as the animals.

~ Dinosaur water park.  It was too cold to play, but that didn't stop the kids for a minute.  Are they still shivering in the picture?

~ Piano recital for older three kids.

~  Kirsti & her Tinkerbell cake.

~ Submarine museum- Peter has yet to go and he would probably like it the most!

~ Black scratch art, one of many crafts we did over the summer.

~ Six Flags with some friends.

~  The two instances of stitches in one month ("Stitches" including staples and glue, of course)

July was so fun it got to go twice!

~ Playing around in a local fort.

~ 4th of July (not the best we've had, but an adventure all the same.  I prefer my adventures NOT include trying to figure out how to proceed without toilet paper in the portapotty).

~ Some of the kids first attempt at bowling.

~ I indulged Ryan's request with a fancy dragon birthday cake.

~ Joseph started kindergarten and Ryan began middle school.

~ A trip to a disappointing aquarium (Boo!) which we accidentally found out butts up with Coney Island (Hurray!)

~ An early 1700 village with friends.

~ Swim lessons!!

~ Robot birthday cakes for 5 year old Joseph.

~ Annual Ward Picnic.

~ A trip to a corn maze.

~ Matthew turns 3.

(And of course there was my trip to see Wicked in NYC of which I got 0 pictures).

~ Our Halloween pictures.

~ A ride on a steam train.

~ Reenactment of Revolutionary war battle with friends (here they are fascinated with the ox).

~ A lovely (if not COLD) river boat tour.

~ Sisters came for Thanksgiving!!

~ Joseph had his first school play.

~ A broken dryer resulted in lots of clothes hanging (and a new dryer).

~ More sisters came for Thanksgiving!  Because that is doubly exciting.

~ First snow of the season was HUGE.  We're talking at least 3 feet to shovel off the driveway.  We did enjoy the new sledding hill we found!

~  I took a Girls' Day Out to tour some AWESOME mansions.  Of which I took no pictures but the one you see here (In my defense, it was cold outside and pictures were not allowed inside).

~  Ethan's sword cake, months is anticipation.  It is supposed to be Riptide from The Lightening Thief.

~  Matching pajamas.  I'm lucky in that this year only one person's didn't fit, unlucky that the one person was me.

A smattering of my Christmas photos.  Nintendo DS's, Rockband, custom made snuggies from Grandma Red, Legos, puzzles, & coloring stuff.

Happy New Year!!