Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Serendipitous Quote

When life doesn't take you exactly where you thought it would,
it takes faith to know you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meiners' Christmas Stories

So the festivities are about half completed at No.6 Cottage. We'll celebrate at my mom's house on Tuesday. But before then, I thought I would share the news about the death of our shelf elf. And a funny story.

Last Friday night, Elfie returned from the North Pole and landed atop the living room ceiling fan. It was pretty cool to see him perched there when we all woke Saturday morning.

Li'l Meiners thought it would be even cooler to see what would happen if the fan blades began to spin. Would he fly? Could he land? He turned on the fan to see.

I wasn't in the room when all this experimentation transpired. But I saw the remains. Poor Elfie. Were it not bad enough that he face planted into our Friese carpet, but only minutes after his failed landing attempt, Elfie accidentally got kicked across the floor when Meiners was sent on an errand to open the front curtains in the room. You know, of course, that you can't touch the shelf elf.

Elfie didn't come back for two days.


Yesterday, Pookie received a pony for Christmas. No, not a real pony. Just a really big one.

Meiners received Duck Tape. Truly, a perfect gift for him.

When discussing how we would transport Pookie's equine home, Meiners piped up, "I know how we could get the horse home, guys. We could just Duck Tape him to the van."

That was certainly one option.

We did opt for Grandpa to drive him down today, instead.

Monday, December 21, 2009

In the quiet hour

It's 1:00 A.M.

And I'm loving that the house is quiet.

No more Monday Night Football.
No more voices asking for one more drink.
No more, "NO!" coming from my 2 year-old.
No more boys screaming and laughing as they pretend to be reindeer.
No more girls laughing and calling as they pretend to be Santa and elf.
No more whirring of the sewing machine.
No more stampeding of four pairs of feet.
No more dinner to fix.
No more boo boo packs and negotiations.


And in the quiet, I can love all those things. And I can enjoy the peace that comes now.
I can love the Santa purses we finally finished tonite.

I can love the photos that are edited, printed, displayed, and ready for school.

I can love the light reflecting on presents wrapped in all red papers.

I can love the magazine that inspires me.

And I can sleep. Heavenly sleep.

It's now after 1:00 A.M.
'Night world.

Friday, December 18, 2009

One Week To Go

I breathed a huge sigh of relief this afternoon after returning home from the elementary school. I think I pretty much crashed on the couch with a peppermint martini in my hand (it was 5 o'clock somewhere), but that's just between you and me. It's been a crazy busy week - as I know it is for all of you out there, too. I'm very pleased with how it culminated today at the kids' school for their parties, though!

This time around, Pookie begged me to help in her party instead of taking photos for the school. I made arrangements to come to her class at the very end and read them a story. After all, the jolly ol' elf himself (or some version of a helper) comes to the 'Winter Party' - so I have to take pictures, I rationalized. But, I have spare change at the end of the hour as I'm just returning to all the same rooms to gather that many more sweetly posed or sugar-induced crazy photos, so I spent those last minutes in Pookie's class instead. Reading a book. But not just any book. You know how - when you go up to the school to read to the class - there's always that one kid with the Troy Bolton moptop and a Lindsay Lohan chip on his shoulder that croons, "We've heeearrrrrrd this one!" Whine. Whine. Well not this time li'l Troy Lohan. Not this time.

Cuz I wrote my own book. I took pictures last week of the second grade teachers, the principal, the lunch lady and the gym teacher, the recess aides, the students, and a snowman. Then I wrote a story based on 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' that I called, "'Twas the Day Before Winter Break." I uploaded my photos to Shutterfly (I do NOT recommend them - though the final product was fabulous, the uploads were slow as molasses and their coupons suddenly 'expired,' with a call center in India ... I won't get Gramma started *wink*), ordered two copies, and wow'd the students today with a story about them. Well, them and a big snowstorm and an impending ruined Christmas vacation (dare I say it?).

It was a hit.

But before I read the story, I put together a game for the party this time, too. Based on The Price is Right. I hope it turned out well --- I asked a friend to implement it for me since I would be chasing Santa I mean photographing portraits of sweet li'l sum'ms --- and it looked like it went well. I cut out images of hot products from the Sunday ads, blew them up 300% and pasted them onto Christmas-hued cardstock. On the back, I wrote the actual retail price. Then I penned a whole Rod Roddy cheesy script along the lines of sleek silver detailing on that Uniden phone - I see used car sales in my future. My friend and I agreed it was a unique party game. Plus, the kids practiced their math skeelz - just imagine a showcase showdown for older kids!

So along with my normal duties as mother, my additional duties as Santa's helper (no offense to hubby, but I took on the brunt of the Christmas buying this year), and photographer (I edited a GIGANTIC number of photos for the school this week), I have been a prolific author and a game show coordinator.

And I loved it. I'm also glad it's over for another two months. I do plan to pass the torch of party aide back to the other mothers next time and just take pictures of the pretty pink and red sugar cookies and heart-shaped party favors. But it was fun this time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

St. Nicolas Debacle

Last Sunday was St. Nick's Day. This was never a holiday we celebrated when I was a child. I think it's a Catholic thing, perhaps. In college, my good friend Patty received a care package with an ornament and other goodies every December 6th. It was the first time I'd heard of St. Nicolas' Day. Fortunately for my kids, St. Nick has crossed the Protestant lines and visits our house every year.

At the No.6 Cottage, he leaves an ornament in the shoes he finds sitting on the coffee table (although I hear he may leave a few more things in other houses in the neighborhood). Around here, it seems St. Nick might procrastinate most years in determining what the children of the house might like for their ornament. This year, however, I know for sure that St. Nick didn't procrastinate. He ordered the ornaments from his elves quite early, in fact, it is my understanding.

But on the Friday before his special day, St. Nick discovered the Jungle Junction ornament specially ordered for Meiners would not be ready in time. So he penned a special note suggesting a bungle amongst the elves that he would rectify by returning to St. Louis quick-as-a-lick when they had his ornament ready. Finally, Tuesday night, he returned.

And he brought along his trusty Shelf Elf. Because, apparently, I hadn't been keeping up with the Advent Calendar. He also sent me an invisible-ink letter meant for my eyes only to reprimand my waywardness and to let me know where he'd stashed a bunch of special Santa candy --- to be used daily, just for the Advent Calendar.

Later that day, Meiners reported in the car that he was relieved St. Nick had brought him that ornament. Because he'd been thinking he must have been a bad boy to not receive an ornament like the other kids (despite the letter...). I think St. Nick may have sent a VERY nasty email to the elves who didn't put the ornament in his burlap sack, even though he had requested it from them special early in November. He may have even called their customer service terrible (and he doesn't 'cuss' like that often, as you and I both know).

I think, anyway. But I don't visit him at the North Pole much or anything. So I'm just saying I don't imagine that he uses such lanaguage often...

Needless to say, St. Nick's Day was redeemed and that shelf elf is keeping his eye on me. Although he did travel from the North Pole Friday night to my in-laws since the kids spent this weekend there. Surprisingly, he was found hanging out in our curtains when the kids returned home this morning.

I love Christmas with all its traditions - old and new.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Teacher Gift 2009

I do always like to give the kids' teachers something unique at Christmastime. Last year I think it was origami boxes filled with homemade truffles and, for the dog-lover, homemade dog treats (which may have grown moldy by the time she opened the gift - ours did - but i digress). I also insist that the kids be involved. Not in just picking the project, but also in doing the project.

So without further adieu, let me introduce to you Teacher Gift 2009:
:: The Santa Purse ::
This one is not entirely finished, obviously. It is the prototype for Aunt Sharon to use to monogram the teachers' initials there in the lower right hand corner. It's all in the family with these handmade presents! --- Thank you again Sharon!!! I'm noticing I'm not thrilled with how much it actually looks like Santa's pack here...perhaps a little on the too tall side. We'll scale it down, I think.

Since my mom and I monkeyed around with my Santa purse to design our own pattern, later this month I'll show you how to make the bags. And hopefully show you the actual finished project. Ya'll know how that goes around here sometimes. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

another day

Sitting here tonite, listening to the crooning Harry Connick Jr. sing me some jazzy Christmas tunes. Melting my feet on the fireplace hearth. Contemplating the unfolding of the day that will be known as Today.

Just another half day of school. The kids have one a month. Plus a day off. Every month. Remember when we yearned for snow days to have just one day off from school? Nowadays days off from school are a dime a dozen. Who needs snow days?

We had our usual plethora of kids over after a half day of school. Pookie's friend comes over so her parents can attend the teacher meetings that go on during these half days. Meiners and his li'l buddy didn't finish building their train track this morning, so Li'l Buddy came back over to complete it. T's friend joined us a little later. Sashi flew solo (or with her best pal - me!)

We decided it might be fun to build gingerbread houses. Only one out of the 7 kids had ever built a gingerbread house before. Just imagine 6 plates of graham crackers, 6 bowls of frosting, 12 candy topping choices, and the tasty chaos that ensued. We had so much fun!

The teacher called. Pookie's been asking to go to the nurse's office. Often. Every day. As parents began arriving for pick-up, more kids climbed out of cars to come inside. The doctor's office called. They wanted to take a look at Pooks due to the asthma symptoms. I sent one friend home with another friend's mom. My kids piled into the van. Baby had no shoes. Socks were found shoved under the van seat. Good enough. We made it to the doctor's office only a few minutes late.

No pneumonia. No strep. Maintain asthma protocol. Looks pale. Call me if anything changes. While I have you, Doc, she has these headaches. She's leaving class several times a day. She vomited once. A neurologist? I've always brushed them aside as inconsequential. When do you know? When do you know your baby's really hurting? Or maybe she's just being dramatic and likes the attention? When do you draw the line - that a chiropractor for posture, a dietician for weight gain, a psychologist for anxiety plus the dermatologist, the pulmonologist, the cardiologist, and the pediatrician are truly enough? At least the gastroenterologist d/c'd her.

My thoughts turn to dear Gus who is in the Cardiac ICU tonite with myocarditis. He's 9, probably close to if not 10 now. The scrappiest little kid that must just keep his mama on her toes, I'm telling you. Broke his arm just before heart camp a few years ago and didnotletitstophim. At all. My heart goes out to him and to his family. On a healthy and normal path for years. Now visiting the hospital once again. In good hands. I'm praying for his strength. And his mama's. He has a li'l sis that needs her big brother and her family back together again. God Bless them.

I think of a little girl I saw at the medical building today. In her wheel chair.

I see in my mind's eye the accident we passed on our way home from the doctor. Ambulance. Fire trucks. Light pole. Cars. We thanked God outloud that Dr. Ortiz kept us a few extra minutes tonite. Or we kept her.

The tapestry of life.
Just another day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Santa Needs the Money

Yesterday we went to the mall to purchase my brother-in-law's Christmas gift. (I know - I said I wouldn't go to the mall on a weekend in December. I went anyway.) I tried to avoid Santa (I don't know why, really. Just didn't want to stand in the line, I guess), but T saw him. And we decided, since Sashi didn't know who he was until this week (?!?!), the kids would all get their picture taken on his lap. T asked if he really had to, but when I asked him to do it for his baby sister, he quickly agreed. It's not a bad photo, actually. And, apparently, it's the first time Sashi's ever sat on Santa's lap. I swore before I was a mom that I wouldn't be that mom - the mom who takes her firstborn dutifully to visit Santa every year from birth to 5, but as each subsequent child enters the family, she visits Santa less and less. Anyway, on the way home yesterday, Meiners informed us that it sure was a good thing we helped Santa out. Because obviously if he had to find a job at the mall taking pictures with kids on his lap this close to Christmas, he needed money. Boy was he glad we'd bought the photo so that Santa could have a little cash.

I had never thought of it that way.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Still Not

Yeah, still not writing the sequel to that Van Story. But it's definitely on the list. Of things TO DO.

Yet, in the meantime, here's what I AM doing. Attending a Children of the World concert. Sponsoring Nawal - a 15 year-old girl in Iraq. Seeing more and more about the Clean Water issue. Repurposing to fully believe in Santa. Finding UHmazing deals on electronics (sure - normally from $20-40 on a MixStick that they're selling for $7, but yesterday, $500 GPS with XM Radio thingy-bobs sold for under $100...if only I needed a $500 GPS with XM Radio thing...) Thanking God every day for my husband, his job, my kids, and ultimately my Savior.

....just about 1/2-way finished with my Christmas cards...writing personal notes in every.single.one...

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What I'm Not Doing

Inspired by Nester's post on Monday, here's a list of things I am not doing this Christmas.

I am not letting all those digital photos stored on my hard drive go to waste. I printed out pictures from each year since the kids were born, framed them in forgotten frames I had sitting on shelves in the basement, and hung them on the entry wall in my living room. It's not perfect. But they're being utilized - and that's beautiful to me.

I'm not using tinsel on my tree this year. Or last year, either, actually. But every year before that when we decorated our 13 year-old Christmas tree, it held the same silvery tinsel my mom's tree carried all the years of my childhood. Last year, after the kids placed their beloved ornaments all over the Christmas tree, I discovered there was barely room left for my own ornaments. Let alone tinsel. This year - by the time the kids were done - I think I had to leave about 25% of my own decorations in the box. Although my initial response was to cringe at all the haphazardly cut shapes and stickered nativity scenes and paper chains, I realized that this tree - in all its homemade splendor - was perfect, too. One day, when I open the holiday decor box, package theirs up, and send their decorations off to them in their own grown-up homes, my tree will be bare. And I will be forced to create a new beautiful. But for now. For this tree. This is perfection.

I'm not forcing my kids to take and retake and take again Christmas card photos every Sunday between now and Christmas Day. Cuz I took my sweet cutie-pies out to that barn in the park weeks ago. And my cards are done. The End.

I'm also not writing our Christmas Top 10 list in lieu of the Christmas Letter. It's been done. And copied. And I'm trying to write a letter in the voice of one of our canines. But it's hard to be a canine. And it's tough to write a creative, new, imaginative , and fun Christmas Letter. So, I may not write one at all. After-all, if you really want to know what's going on in our lives on a regular basis, read the blog. Hello!

I'm NOT shopping at any stores - WalMart, the mall, Target, anywhere any weekend in December. We're usually last minute shoppers. This year, for the most part, we're finished. And it feels wonderful to NOT be under that stress!

What else am I not doing? Blogging regularly. I've opted, instead, to sleep.
Laundry. It's growing mold. But I'm not moving. It isn't either. Yet. Give the mold time.

What else? Anything you're not doing this year?

(P.S. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of From New to Used!!!)
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