Monday, December 20, 2010

Poetry and Pictures

The cards have been mailed, and plenty received. If someone's been missed, we would surely be grieved.


The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. (Along with some fights on whose sock goes where.)


The presents are wrapped, all snug near the tree. It's possible that I even put one down there for me.


The decorations (though scant) have been placed out with care. So far I'm not manic, they might last out the year.


The flower has bloomed, no thanks to my man. He fed it Coke Zero, then quickly he ran.


The plastic nativity changes each day. Sometimes poor Jesus goes very astray.


The good one sits untouched, as per mother's orders. If someone goes touching, they'll be sent 'cross the border.


If only you'd hurry to us, Christmas dear.
We're waiting most anxious for you to be here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Grandpa's peanut butter fudge

This is my Grandpa Johnson. Isn't he handsome?


He was a big man, about six-foot-two or six-foot-three, with broad shoulders and (when I knew him) a head full of thick, silver hair. He liked to swear and drink coffee (though both were against his religion). He cut off two fingers in a shop accident and liked to do irreverent things with the nubs. He had a passion for his country, having served it honorably during World War II.

He loved to travel and had an unusually large collection of bowling balls in the basement. He made jewelery, and always wore turquoise rings on his fingers.

He was gruff and loving, all at once. He was the type that was embarrassed at affection, but would be thoughtful and generous to others. He liked order and discipline. It used to drive him crazy that I never finished a meal.

Oh, if only he could see me now. Grandpa, don't worry - I finish PLENTY of meals.

He had the best garden. I fell in love with crisp, green vegetables sitting around his table, the multi-colored terrycloth linens underneath the pink desert rose plates.

He loved his grandchildren and was tragically taken from them far too soon.

Here is a picture of Grandpa and Grandma at their wedding. Doesn't it look like he just can't get enough of her?


I love that picture. I think every woman ought to be worshiped and adored by her husband.

This time of year, I think of him fondly when I make his peanut butter fudge. I have no idea of the recipe's true origin, but when I taste it, I am transported back to a warm kitchen in a small, modest home. A bowl of nuts sit on the table next to the large toaster oven. The shiny, textured wallpaper smiles down on my freckled cheeks, pink from climbing a tree in the front yard.

A gruff voice yells as kids run in and out, though he shakes his head in laughter when they can't see. Ice cream is always in the basement freezer, and cookies are always in the bread box.

It's a place that is woven into the fabric of who I am. It's a home where hours of my childhood were spent happily climbing trees, playing the dusty organ in the basement, and hiding in the metal wardrobe. A place where cousins were always laughing and the love and soul of family was so thick you could taste it.

I love you, Grandpa. Miss you terribly, even after all these years. This batch is for you.


[And this, dear internets, is for you:]

You're welcome. Think of him when you make it, will you?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

If a picture is worth a thousand words...

How many of those words came out yelling?


Answer? A lot.

Today was a faow day [pronounced faux, as in fake snow day]. You know, the kind where they keep everyone home for no real reason at all? Normally I am a huge fan of these days, as it means sleeping in, lounging around in PJs, and hanging with cheerful and happy kids all day.

Today it started at six a.m. when the phone rang with the [then] joyous news. I was the only one who went back to sleep.

I was startled awake by the first fight of the morning a mere hour later.

I fed them, showered, and was getting ready when I was interrupted by the second and third fights of the morning.

Apparently, brother one had been throwing ice balls at the sister, resulting in tears, heartache, and tattling galore. Brother two staunchly defended his own innocence. (Though me thinkest thou protesteth a bit too loudly...)

I came downstairs to find three doors flung wide open to the frigid cold outside, soggy piles of melted snow at every turn, and a lonely trail of discarded snow gear leading the way to a large mess in the kitchen.

All before ten-freaking-thirty in the morning.

Lord, I love them something fierce, but sometimes they make it really, really hard to do so.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"I'm just walking like it's a park, without a shirt on"

Yesterday afternoon I was folding the laundry. Movement out in the backyard caught my eye, and I looked up in horror at the sight.

My second born son was roaming the backyard in nothing but a pair of shorts and sneakers. Keep in mind that it was LITERALLY FOUR DEGREES OUTSIDE.

That's right, I said four. Not fourteen. Not forty. FOUR FREAKING DEGREES.

He had the Flipshare video camera in his hand, and was talking to it, filming himself as he went.

I knew immediately what he was doing.

He was living out his own version of Survivorman. My boys are both big fans of the show and have watched and re-watched every episode at least a dozen times. Were I to give the approval, they would immediately be off the grid, living off the land -- no food, no shelter (and no fun, if you ask me).

It boggles the mind. Truly.

Here is our very own Survivorman, Chase. Best part about the video is around 0:59 when he says, "Well, I think I'm going back in. Not because I'm cold, but because I think I might be getting yelled at. Better get it over with."

How well this child knows his mother.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Tree and me


The weekend of Thanksgiving has become the much-anticipated time when we put up The Tree. It is so sacred and important in my children's lives that, yes, it deserves to be capitalized. If it were within Hannah's power to declare the day a national holiday, rest assured it would happen.

Over the years our tree has evolved from a poor, starving student tree containing only a few ornaments (most of those handmade) to a rich, ornament laden tree that is full of memories. Each ornament tells a story of Christmases past. They've seen the babies come, and looked down each year, watching as we've grown. Each and every one has silently witnessed us rub sleep out of our eyes on Christmas morning, and heard the squeals of joy after wrapping paper is torn.

I cherish all these ornaments with a slightly uncharacteristic attachment.

There are ornaments that I don't remember acquiring, but love nonetheless. Like these chunky, carved wooden candy canes.


There are ornaments that I DO remember getting, like this treasure brought home by my-then little kindergartner:


This year's favorite addition was a set containing all the main characters from Peter Pan, including the notorious Captain Hook:


And my personal favorite (and doppelganger), The Croc:


(Because I frequently walk around the house, eyes bugged, tongue wagging, and toting an alarm clock. What?)

Some of our ornaments really ought to be thrown out (and have actually won Ugliest Ornament Contests in the past. Celia, doing it again this year?). We have the baby Jesus eraser, eternally slumbering with his ball-point pen face:


And probably the truest ugly on the tree is the Star of David made out of straws. Somehow, I am sure this ornament offends Christians and Jews alike, but I can't bring myself to part with it. It makes me laugh too hard each year when it comes out of the box:


Slightly more tolerable (but just as ugly) is our disturbingly vast collection of wood colored nativities from the preschool days:


Yet somewhere in the middle of all the homespun ugly are ornaments that I love. Ornaments that have adorned our tree since our very first Christmas together. Like this one, brought back from Austria by the Husband's parents:


And this hand-carved rendition of that sacred first night:


And this one, hand-stitched by an awesome sister-in-law:


At the end of the day, I think our tree is a lot like me. Fatally flawed, pretty ugly in some spots, but greater than the sum of its parts. When put together properly, with the right lighting, it looks pretty damn good.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Curse those crafty little elves

I am in so much trouble.

Like serious, intervention-required, may-never-wear-anything-but-a-muu-muu-again trouble.

Look what those damn little elves have created:


No, they have not partnered with the devil that is the girl scout cookies.


Available ALL. YEAR. LONG in the store.


It's bad enough that I buy them in the spring, hide them from the kids, and eat myself sick on them every year.

But now to have unfettered access to them anytime I want?

It's like selling meth at the corner gas station. Everything you need in one stop!

Don't they realize there are people like me out there, with no self control whatsoever? People on the verge of food suicide at all times of the day and night?

I am so dead.

Just look what happened on the ride home:


I think it's pretty safe to say that the evidence will likely be gone before dinner.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 (Also known as: Gluttony is Awesome)

Guess what? So it turns out that there is this crazy thing called "The Internet." And on "The Internet" there are these wacky things called "Blogs" where people keep a record of their everyday lives, showcase their family activities, and post for all the world to see on a daily basis.

Did you know that?

Isn't that amazing?

(One would think I'd never heard of it, the way I've been posting around here. Or NOT been posting.)

Well, I am back. I had a most excellent Thanksgiving, and will now proceed to bore you (The Aforementioned Internet) with photos and updates of my goings on. Feel free to click off and hunt for free p@rn unless you are:

a) a relative (and even then I might understand)
b) one of the 16 people featured in the pictures
c) a stalker who can't get enough of me, no matter how boring my posts become

We had quite a crowd here for the holidays, and it made my heart sing with joy. There is nothing more fantastic than sharing the sacred gluttony that is Thanksgiving with people I love. We had two of the Husband's brothers, their families, and the in-laws come to stay (for a total of 16, ranging in age from 64 to 14 months).

There was much eating. A lot of card playing. A couple movie viewings. A little sleeping. And definitely some more eating.

(There was also a computer virus, a flood in the car, and a minor vehicular accident. But who's counting the bad things, anyway?)

The best thing I did all Thanksgiving day (besides eat my weight in coconut cake) was hand my camera off to a brother-in-law. I tend to find myself preoccupied on days like this with the cooking, and do not always remember to do the picture taking. I am so grateful.

What would my crazy stalkers have to look at otherwise?









It was the best weekend, and my house seems far too quiet without all of them here. Anyone ready to come back?

Best. Thanksgiving. Ever.