Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Natalie Totally Looks Like the Frito Bandito

And a Happy 2009 to all of you!  I'll be ringing in the New Year in my dreams, as I'm planning on being in bed by 10:00.  Sad, I know.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Brief Check-In

I just wanted to pop in and clear away some of the dust from this place.  I'm on vacation (from work - I didn't actually go anywhere) and I've just been enjoying spending time with various branches of the family.  This week, the kids and I will just be hanging out and doing some fun outings.  I'll try to check in again later in the week, but regular posting won't resume until next week.

And, that's all I have for today.  Here, look at some pictures.  I hope you all had a great Christmas!
(Ha, I just noticed the red-eye removal tool got a little carried away on this one.  It also removed some of the red from the kids' outfits - that's what the black crescents above and below Natalie's eye.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Living in a Winter Wonderland

It has been so freaking cold this winter.  I'm disappointed, because we couldn't go to the Holidazzle Parade this year, and we also haven't been able to take advantage of free ice-skating. You see, I'm rather fond of my kids - I'd hate to lose them to hypothermia.  So we've been spending A LOT of time indoors.  My sanity is suffering because of it.  Do you know what it's like to be trapped inside a smallish house with two kids under the age of three for AN ENTIRE WEEKEND?  I'd imagine it's a lot like being pecked to death by chickens.  Really loud chickens.  Who like to risk their necks by climbing up on tall things, and also? pulling every single tissue out of a Kleenex box, one by one, leaving a sodden mess on the living room carpet.  Because OF COURSE Kleenex must also be shredded into tasty bite-size pieces, then chewed up and spit out after the flavor is gone.

But!  On Saturday, it was actually warm outside.  (Ha - everything is relative.  Three months ago, I would have called 20 degrees unbearable.  Now, I'm all like, is that with a minus sign in front or not?  Did you say above zero?  Pour me a pina colada!)  

In addition to being warm, we got about 5 inches of snow.  So we bundled up and went outside to enjoy the brief respite from below-zero temperatures.  Approximately 12 hours later, the temperature dropped 40 degrees and we were dropped harshly back to the reality that is winter in Minnesota.

(Not long after this picture was taken, Natalie realized there was no hope of getting back up on her own while wearing all that clothing.  After that whenever she fell, she lay on her back, like an overturned turtle, waiting patiently for someone to come and help her stand up again.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping Me Laughing

Children are great mimics. Sometimes this is really cute. Other times, like when your child tells you to go into time-out because you are NOT LISTENING, it’s not quite as cute.

One cute thing Sam has picked up from me is that he sings to himself all the time. Oh, don’t get me wrong – it’s not cute when I sing – in fact, some might describe it as “nails on a chalkboard” or “incredibly annoying”. But it’s cute to see Sam doing it.

This morning, as he was eating his scrambled eggs, he was singing quietly under his breath: “I’m eating my eggs, eating my eggs; Please don’t, don’t bother me, I’m eating my eggs”.

One other cute Sam story, since I can’t seem to think of anything else to write about today:

As are most little boys (and some girls!) Sam is very much into tractors. Last night, we were talking about tractors and how the different colors are different brands. Like, green tractors are John Deere, and yellow tractors (well, construction equipment, but we call them all tractors around here) are Caterpillars.

“No,” he said matter-of-factly. “Caterpillars don’t live in the snow.”

I tried to explain that Caterpillar was also a company that makes tractors. He broke in and said, “Worms are NOT tractors, Mommy,” in a “you’re-an-idiot” tone of voice.

“Good point,” I said, and left it at that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Internet Dangers

One of the many things I love about having an almost-3-year-old are the endless questions. I'm not even being sarcastic when I say this - I really do love hearing the things Sam comes up with these days! One day, while watching Finding Nemo, he asked me how a fish sleeps. I think I answered that one to his satisfaction, but when the next day he asked me what a flamingo says, I was stumped. So we went to the internet to find out.

I decided to start with YouTube, and typed in the keyword "flamingo". Surprisingly, there weren't a lot of options and as I glanced down the list, I saw a title that was something about a baboon and a flamingo. Okay, that sounded like it might actually have an actual flamingo in it, unlike most of the other videos that came up.

So, that particular clip starts out with a baboon watching a huge flock of flamingos. Maybe you see where this is going, but I was oblivious and when the baboon attacked and ate a flamingo, I almost knocked over the kids in my mad scramble for the "pause" button.

You know, I don't really think Sam understood what was happening, though (or maybe he's a future hunter?), because he keeps asking to watch the flamingo video again. Luckily, I was able to find another 7-minute video of a trip to the zoo that has a brief cameo of a flamingo in it, and that satisfied him.

I'll consider that his first lesson on *cue the music* "the cirrrrrrcle of liiiiiiiife...and it moves us allllllll...."

Sunday, December 14, 2008


You know it's cold when:
1) Your car door is frozen shut, even after being inside the attached garage all night.
2) The car isn't even starting to get warm after you finally arrive at the bus stop, 30 minutes after leaving your house. It normally only takes 10 minutes to drive to the bus stop. A day of rain followed by plummeting temperatures, topped with another inch of snow, makes for very treacherous roads.
3) Your feet are so numb by the time you get off the bus, that you have a hard time maintaining your balance on the three blocks over icy sidewalks before you finally arrive at your place of employment.

Replace the word "your" with the word "my" in the above sentences, and you have an idea of what my day has been like so far.

By the way, the preschool Christmas program? Was a bust. Sammy left the stage almost immediately and spent most of the time hanging out by me. In case you were wondering.


We decided to buy ourselves a new camera for Christmas. It was badly needed, since both of our cameras have been broken for the past couple of months, and I was making do with a cruddy little camera phone. When I took the memory card out of our old camera, I found some pictures of happier warmer times.

Bet you didn't think you'd see pumpkin patch pictures in December, did you? Just wait until March when I post my Christmas pictures.

Our weekend in pictures:

Mother's little helpers, assisting with gingerbread preparation.

The assembled gingerbread houses, before the exterior work had been completed. Can you believe I forgot to take a picture of the finished products? They were beautiful. Not to mention delicious.

Craft time.

Who knew laundry baskets could be such fun?

Sumo baby shows her signature move.

Recreating a scene from Animal House?

Exhibit A. See that awful white stuff out the window behind me? What you can't see is the -8 temperature on the thermometer.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Meme

Tonight is Sammy's first-ever preschool Christmas program, so I should have plenty to say tomorrow, but today, I have nothing. So here's a Christmas meme.

Egg nog or hot chocolate? Tough choice. I wonder how hot chocolate made from egg nog would taste? Might be something to explore.
Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? Wrapping, without a doubt.
Colored lights on tree or white? Colored.
When do you put your decorations up? The weekend after Thanksgiving, usually.
What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Excluding dessert? Seriously? OK then, probably the Christmas cheese ball.
2 - 8 oz. blocks cream cheese
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. mustard
1 pkg. chopped dates
Mix all ingredients together. Serve with crackers.
Favorite holiday memory as a child: I don't have a lot of specific memories, but I always enjoyed the Christmas Eve service at the church (performed by the Sunday School kids), followed by opening presents back at our house.
And how did you learn the truth about Santa? I honestly don't remember believing in Santa. I must have learned the truth at an early age.
Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes, we have Christmas Eve with my husband's family. The kids will open their presents from Santa & us on Christmas Day, though.
How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Lights, garlands, ornaments - both store-bought, and made by the kids. We buy an ornament for the kids each year and date it, so those ornaments are my favorite.
Snow! Love it or dread it? Hate, hate, hate it. Did I mention I hate it?
Can you ice skate? Not very well. I might try harder to learn if it wasn't something that had to be done outside in the bitter cold.
Do you remember your favorite gift? Not really, but I remember getting a pottery wheel for Christmas one year, and it didn't work. It ended up being returned and I got the money instead. I was really disappointed because I was so excited about that pottery wheel.
What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Being with my family.
What is your favorite holiday dessert? Tough one - anything chocolate.
What is your favorite tradition? We're still trying to develop our own traditions, but starting this year I'm going to have Sammy tell me his favorite memories from the year so I can write them down on notecards. When Natalie is old enough, I'll do the same with her, and I'll save all the cards so each Christmas, we can go through all the cards from previous years and relive memories. I think that's going to be my favorite. (Although how many years have to go by before I can call it a tradition?)
Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving, definitely. Especially to my kids. I can't wait to see the excitement on their faces as they open their gifts.
What is your favorite Christmas Song? I don't generally like traditional Christmas music, but my sister introduced me to some new stuff this year that I actually like. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Death Cab for Cutie is my new favorite. I've also always really liked "Happy XMas (War is Over)" by John Lennon and "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano.
Candy canes! Yuck or yum? I'm impartial on this one. I will eat an occasional candy cane, but if given a choice between chocolate or a candy cane, the candy cane doesn't stand a chance.
Ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I can remember.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but feel free to grab this meme and post it on your own blog, if you're struggling for content like I am!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa Claus Is In Town Early This Year

Santa Claus was in line to get on the bus at the park & ride this morning. Dressed in full gear - beard, red toy sack, black boots, and everything. I knew times were tough, but wow. When Santa's sleigh and reindeer get repo'd and he has to take public transportation...let's just say I don't have a lot of expectations this year for a gift from Santa.

And how long has my website been acting up? I hardly ever go directly to my web address - I usually am logged in from Blogger to post updates - so when I typed in my web address a couple of days ago, I was horrified at the slow loading time. I cleaned up some obsolete html code, and it seems to be working a lot better now. So sorry about that!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Blue Dress

Natalie has a closetful of beautiful dresses, as most little girls do. Ron, who dresses the kids in the morning and drops them off at daycare, chooses to dress her in practical jeans and tops during the week. So, on the weekends when I choose her clothing, I usually put her in a dress.

Yesterday, I chose a beautiful deep blue velvet dress for her, and as she walked through the living room afterwards, I exclaimed over how beautiful she looked. Sammy, who was sitting on the couch watching TV, hardly glanced up as he commented, "She looks like a big blueberry."

Are boys are just born to say things like that? I think have my work cut out for me, to mold him into a caring, supportive man.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Almost Have No Words

Remember when I made all that wine? That delicious, delicious wine? I almost don't have the heart to type this - but I had to dump out most of it.

Learn from my mistake: If you ever decide to make homemade wine, have lots of empty bottles at the ready. As soon as the wine is done fermenting, it needs to be bottled and corked, or it will turn nasty. And need to be dumped down the drain.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Books, Books, Books

I love to read. But I'm also very frugal, so I don't usually buy books. Why pay $20 for a book that I'm going to be done with in 5 days, and probably never read again? I get all my books from the library, and I have a system so I get to read bestsellers almost as soon as they come out.

In the Twin Cities metro area, we have five different library systems - one for each county. Although your library card needs to originate from your home county, you can activate it at any or all of the metro library systems, so you have borrowing privileges everywhere. I work in one county, live in another, and live close to yet another, so I've activated my card at three of the library systems and I can access all of their websites. One of these libraries publishes a "new and upcoming fiction" newsletter about once a month, which is delivered to my email inbox. I scan the list for my favorite authors, and place holds on the books through my home library's website. Since these books are all months away from actual publication, I'm usually one of the first 5 people to request the book, so I get the book within a couple of weeks of its release.

The only problem with this is - whether because of publisher's release dates, or the library's process for obtaining new books - they tend to come in groups. Once a month, I usually end up with a stack all at once and then need to scramble to get them all read. This month is no exception, but I'm faced with an especially difficult choice.

You see, two of the books in this stack are bestsellers, which means a two-week loan period, with no renewals. I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of both Scarpetta and The Hour I First Believed. And one book is 500 pages, and the other book is 750 pages. What's a girl to do? There's no way I'm going to get both of these books read in the next two weeks, especially with all the Christmas baking, decorating, shopping, and wrapping I need to be working on. Ah well, I'd better get cracking, because I'm sure going to try my best to finish them both.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Ups and Downs of Eating

I've lost 4.5 pounds since I got sick on Thanksgiving. It's not the most fun way to lose weight (is there a fun way? probably not). But that's about 15 percent of my weight-loss goal, so that makes me happy.

Speaking of not eating, Natalie - who, until recently, ate almost as much as a small adult - has become a picky eater. I knew it had to happen eventually, but now I have two kids who basically subsist on air, with maybe some fruit and milk here and there. Sam's new favorite saying when I tell him it's time to eat: "Thank you; I'm not hungry." At least he declines politely.

It hasn't really bothered me until recently. I'm starting to feel frustrated that I take the time to prepare a healthy, well-rounded meal, and both kids turn up their noses at it. But if they come across something sweet, they'll eat until they're sick. Thanksgiving, for instance - there was a plate of bite-sized gingerbread cookies and a bowl of frosting beside them on a small table, small enough for easy access by the kids. Every time I turned around, Sam was into those cookies again (which I promptly took away from him). And I'm sure he ate twice as many when I wasn't looking. Then a couple of hours later, he announced with a green face that he wasn't feeling well. I've talked with him, read books with him, and sat with him to watch a Sid the Science Show episode about how healthy food makes our bodies feel good, and junk food makes our bodies feel icky, but he doesn't seem to understand or care yet.

Ron and I are no angels when it comes to food, and I have to admit, we usually have some kind of junk food in the house (and there's the reason I need to lose weight). Daily, I find Sam going to great lengths to reach the Candy Cane Joe Joe's I keep on the highest shelf in the kitchen. I suppose all I can do is keep soldering on, offering healthy meal choices and healthy snacks, and reinforcing that junk food is a "sometimes" treat. I can understand why so many children are obese, because it's a hard battle and I think sometimes parents are too tired to fight it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

With our potty-training adventure set to begin in a couple of weeks, I've been trying to get Sam excited about the prospect of wearing big-boy underwear. Last night, we got into an in-depth discussion about which of his daycare friends still wear diapers, which ones wear pull-ups, and which ones wear big boy/big girl underwear. He had the inside info on all his friends, which amused me to no end. But, you know? I suppose these are the important issues to the 2- and 3-year-old set.

Monday, December 1, 2008


We spent Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law's unchildproofed house. While Ron watched the football game, socialized with his relatives, and even took a brief snooze on the couch, I spent most of the day redirecting the kids when they started wandering towards breakable things. So when I developed a splitting headache late in the afternoon, I attributed it to a hard day's work.

The next morning, I woke up aching all over and still had a headache. We went to my parents' house as planned, but Saturday morning, I woke up feeling like death warmed over. I had myself a nice case of the flu. Not a stomach virus, but actual influenza. I have learned my lesson - I am never again getting a flu shot. Honest to goodness, the only years I ever get the flu are the years that I get the vaccination. Every other year, I make it through the winter healthy. My fingers are crossed that my kids didn't pick up any of my germs, but I'm sure I won't be that lucky.

Other than exposing everyone to my sick germs, it worked out quite well to be sick at my parents' house, because I got a lot more rest than I would have at home. There were a total of 5 healthy adults around to help watch and play with the kids, so that made a world of difference for me.

And now I'm freaking out, because it's December 1st today, and I have a million and one things I need to get done by Christmas. Also, planning Sammy's birthday party, which comes shortly afterward. Yes, I am a bit stresed out right now. Does it show?

A more upbeat post will come tomorrow, hopefully.