Monday, December 29, 2008

Name My Children

In December my sister calls me one Saturday and says what with calling your daughter "the girl" [in my blog]. I don't like it. I explained my reasons for not using my children's names mostly stemming around privacy and anonymity for them. She argued that then I should not have a public blog. Devil's advocate!

I didn't like the suggestion of an initial for their name. That just didn't appeal. We both liked the idea of an alias or nickname for each one. So for my daughter, I've decided to refer to her as Mimi (me-me). This is a love handle that I sometimes use for her. I'm not sure about the boys. I do call my youngest T-Bone or T-Man and may do that in the blog. Now the oldest has had several love handles over the years as well.

My favorite is a bit too childish for his age now and another is a derivative of his given name so I don't feel comfortable using that. We do sometimes call him Dugger (do-ger). A nickname that I borrowed from one of my second cousins. When he was in Costa Rica one of the chaperons called him Angus like Angus Young from AC/DC. I don't have the exact story as to why or how he got this name. Maybe because he could sing all their songs. Although I've never heard him sing any songs. I don't know what I'll call him. We'll all have to wait and see what evolves.

Our music teacher used the "term" love handle after teaching my students the song "You are my sunshine". She explained that the child in the song is not named Sunshine but this is how the child makes the songwriter feel. Therefore Sunshine is an affectionate nickname or "love handle". The students then shared love handles that their parents use for them and we made new verses of the song. For example, You are my honey, my only honey you make me happy when skies are gray...

I like the expression love handle especially since my children don't have nicknames. We call them by their given names (their birth certificate name). I feel very strong about the fact that my children would be called by the name they were given. If we wanted to call the Susie the we'd name them that not Susan. Of course the boys have somehow gotten their friends and even some of their teachers to call them by a nickname, a shortened version of their name.

Merry Christmas- The Sixth Day of Christmas

We are having a wonderful Christmas season. Pre-season we started with seeing Mimi perform in the Nutcracker on the 20th and in Twas The Night Before Christmas on the 21st. Twas is a ballet choreographed by Mimi's dance teacher that is based on Clement Moore's famous poem Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Monday, the 22nd, had us heading down South to visit our family. We were all quite excited. With the exception of my sister's family and my dad (they visited us in April) it had been a year and a half since my husband and children had seen their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

It was not the quiet, slow paced Christmas we experienced last year at our home and we welcomed that. In the afternoon of December 23rd, my mom's front door flew open banging against the wall with shouts and stampeding feet thundering from the foyer into the family room. Kids were yelling, hugging, and being lifted up into the air, amid barking dogs. After about 20 minutes of this hustle and bustle and the entry of three more cousins, Doug says, "We should have told the boys not to stir them up". Too late now.
We did have some calm moments and my youngest sister gathered the troops and snapped a few pictures. Here are my parents' grandchildren.

One highlight was my boys teaching their sister and cousins (ranging in age from 7 to 12) Texas Hold'em Poker. They started out using m&ms as poker chips and then decided that with two dogs near by this was not a good idea. Luckily grandma had a plastic cup full of pennies to replace the m&ms. These cousins are the same ones who several years ago got me to help them play Yatzee. The middle child would blow on the dice, shake them in her hands saying baby needs new shoes, and fling the dice across the dining table. Suffice to say the girls held their own against their big boy cousins. They youngest of the cousins, the male four year old twin, watched with rapt attention.
This little one later in the day helped the girls make a gingerbread house. Every time we took our eyes off of him he was squeezing the frosting bag all over himself and the table. I also caught him licking the spatula several times and had to take it away from him. In hind sight I should have just given him the spatula because he later stuck a little circular candy up his nose.

My daughter and one of the cousin's asked him if he had put a candy up his nose and he said no. Later he began to cry because it hurt. My sister, his mom, sprayed saline up his nose and used an aspirator to get it dislodged. With a few blows into a Kleenex the remainder of the candy came out. Here he is post intervention.

On December 24th we headed to my brother's house. After mass he and his wife have traditionally hosted a Christmas Eve dinner. My sister-in-law's family comes as well as my parents, my family, and my youngest sister. My other sister goes to her in-laws house for their traditional celebration. Santa always stops by my sister-in-laws house before starting his Christmas deliveries to all those good boys and girls. This is something the kids love and look forward to every year. Even my children as old as they are still expect and find joy in the fact that Santa comes to their aunt's house.

My brother put his camera on a tripod and set the timer to take a group photo at his house Christmas Eve. Every time we try something like this I always think of my Uncle Charles who always had a camera at family gatherings and began taking group pictures with the aid of a timer. Each event has to have at least one picture of my uncle running to get in the photo and one where the timer was longer and he is leaving to see why the timer hasn't triggered the camera to take the picture. Technology and experience allowed us to capture this group on our first and only shot.

Aah these are what memories are made of. I hope you have lots of memories to carry you through the new year. One of my dear students made me a Christmas card wishing me the best every holiday. From his pencil to God's heart.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last of Christmas Shopping

We had a wonderfully easy trip down to my parent's house for Christmas. No sleet, ice, snow, rain, or sitting for 12 hours on the highway in a storm. We even arrived to warm weather. The youngest son added some more driving time to his permit log.

First on the agenda was to get one gift that I could not find at home. My 12 year old niece wanted gift cards to Ambercrombie & Fitch for the day after Christmas shopping. I hope her mom is taking her shopping and not me! So Doug and I headed to the mall to get her a gift card. We went our separate ways in the mall and I headed to Ambercrombie. Now keep in mind that I have never been inside one of these stores. It appeared to be a large shop with an Ambercrombie entrance and a Ambercrombie & Fitch entrance. I entered into the Ambercrombie & Fitch section that was very obviously the men's portion of the shop. I was a bit nervous that this was not the right store for my niece but I did spy some female clothing towards the back of the shop.

It was dark (mood lighting) and the music was incredibly loud. I stood in line behind a young Ambercrombie looking man who was spending $400.00+ in clothing. Some people budged in front of me by getting in line on the other side of this man. I decided not to say anything ad would wait to see what would happen. This man spending the $400.00+ said to them the line is behind her. I gave him my thanks.

So anyway it was my turn and I asked to get a gift card. The sales guy gets me a gift card and says that they are all out of gift card inserts. He offers me a box. I asked it it was a small box and he says no showing me several clothing like boxes. I decline the box and pay for the card. The sales guy gives me the card wrapped in the receipt and I stuff it in my purse, hurrying out to meet up with Doug.

Tonight I am now wrapping some presents I had shipped to my mom's house and get the card out of my purse so I can wrap it. This is what I find.

Needless to say I was a bit surprised. I never even looked at the gift card. I thought that this might send the wrong message to my 12 year old niece. So luckily my paper doll skills came in handy and I made Mr. Ambercormbie or is it Mr. Fitch (sounds a little bit like a James Bond movie) a sweater. Now he's ready for Christmas.

When it rains it freezes

We were warned that we would have an ice storm Thursday afternoon and it may effect school on Friday. At school we pulled down decorations, helped the children finish cards, and wrap their family gifts. We sent these items home with our gift to each student just in case their was no school Friday, our last before the holidays. Now I believe that this would ensure that we would have school Friday.

I curled my daughter's hair for a ballet performance during the school day. Not an easy feat getting long, thick, straight dark brown hair in rollers to form banana curls. Her hair is so thick that before I would take them out Friday morning, we would use the blow dryer first to make sure her hair was completely dry.

She was not going to school Friday because she was going to perform excerpts of the Nutcracker for school children on a field trip. I also finished the last Arabian dancer's top so that it could be used in the daytime performance as well as the Saturday night full Nutcracker performance.

As the rain/sleet grew heavier and the lights flickered, I worked hard to finish as much of the top that I could using the sewing machine. I began to worry that I would lose electricity and have to finish sewing by hand. I finished by midnight and went to bed ready for a fun day at school.

I woke to the phone ringing. I knew instantly that our schools had been canceled. All of our school districts use an automated phone system to send out important messages such as school closures. Sure enough the oldest son's school was canceled and my school was canceled too. The roads were slick with ice, limbs had fallen and were still falling, and it was still sleeting. It was certainly treacherous weather.

We lost three big limbs from trees in the backyard. One landed on the roof. Luckily we had no damage to the house and never lost power. We stayed in till mid-afternoon. We had more concerns Saturday night as we were to get more sleet and winds up to 30mph. Once again we never lost power as we listened to ice breaking and banging against the house.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Sunday we went to Chicago to see Wicked before it closes. My school organized a staff and family trip to Wicked. We had about 75 participants and two charter buses. We left fairly early in the morning, like a typical school day and returned about nine in the evening. The drive up was snowy and slushy so it was nice having someone else do all the driving.

When we arrived in Downtown Chicago we had three hours to shop and eat before the matinée. We checked out the Macy's, formerly Marshall Fields, on Michigan Ave. so we could see the window fronts. The windows were cute but a bit unusual as they had an alien (outer space) Christmas theme to them. We went inside Macy's to check out their Christmas department, being warm and dry was a bonus.

There is an outdoor Chris Kindle market in Chicago. We can at least say we went there. It was packed with people, freezing cold (Windy City), and the cement was very wet since they must of salted the ground. My youngest son must have had three inches of his pant legs soaking wet. We smelled good food, saw a few hand crafted items, my youngest son made a purchase, and off we went to warm up in Borders.

The show was fantastic. This is something that my baby girl and I have wanted to see for a long time. I've had the Broadway CD for a year and we have enjoyed listening to the music. It was a wonderful Christmas treat for our family and my oldest son's two friends. I'd have to say it was priceless.

Here is my commercial:

Tickets for family to Chicago Wicked Trip - $450.00
Survival Snack for the bus trip- $20.00
Souvenirs- $78.00
Meals- $100.00

Daughter holed up in room the next day with the souvenir song book, singing Wicked tunes to the CD. Daughter diligently playing "No One Morns The Wicked" on her piano, that she hasn't played in months. Son going to Barnes and Noble to purchase Wicked Grammerie. PRICELESS

Other potential Commercial (didn't happen):
Son mixing a magic elixir and offer it to his sister. Sister turns green. PRICELESS.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sneak Peak- Merry Christmas

On Thanksgiving Day, Friday, and Saturday Doug and I worked diligently to get the outdoor Christmas decorations up before the cold weather set in. Last year we were slipping on ice as we tried to string lights on the pines trees. It was so cold that the pine needles would scrape and cut or hands. Our hands were red, raw, and stiff from the cold. We kept having to go in and warm up. This year we only needed or sweatshirts and were able to work long into the late afternoon.I didn't take new pictures of the yard. So you'll have to look back at December 2007 to see what our decorated yard looks like.

Good thing we invested that time in the outdoor decorations because in the early hours of Sunday, December 1st we had a snow storm. The little girl was to perform down south with the dance company. She was one of several girls invited to dance with the professional company. We headed out at 4:30 in the morning in the midst of the storm. The roads were horrible. Doug drove 20 miles an our on the highway. After a couple of hours of snow, slippery slushy roads, and drivers unheeding the dangers of the weather, we finally turned around and went back home. It was just to dangerous to make the trip.

On the bright side our trees looked lovely with their white lights glowing in the new fallen snow. I wanted to get our annual Christmas Card photo taken in the late afternoon light in front of the trees but no one was available to take our photo. I was so desperate that I sent the girl across the street to see if her friend could take our picture. The neighbor girl wasn't home. On Monday my teaching assistant came to our rescue and stopped by the house after school and took our picture. Here is your sneak peak of our Christmas Card photo.

So here we are with our own yard as the backdrop. The first set of cards were mailed today and the others will going out soon.