Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas 2017

Let me put on my Old Lady Hat for a minute here: Can you BEEEELIEVE it's going to be 2018?  Wasn't it just the turn of the century with all the Y2K panic?  Are we really nearly twenty years past that?!?

If the forecast holds, it looks like we'll be having a very COLD and possibly white start to our New Year.  If it's going to snow, it might as well do so on a day when everyone is off work and we have no real plans.  Plus, as cold as it's been this week, well, we might as well get some of the white stuff!

Let me share all things CHRISTMAS before we really get into 2018.

We decided not to go visit my family in Arkansas this Christmas.  It's just . . . it's really hard when you're dealing with a blended family, custody schedules, a crazy ex, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Sometimes it's just easier to stay put!  So this year . . . since Mohammed would not come to the mountain, the mountain came to Mohammed.  Wait.  That sounded bad.  So not calling my mom a mountain . . . just saying she came to us!  We had a really good time and I think we may have to continue this tradition every time we have all the kids on the front half of Christmas.

Saturday morning we made our way downtown for a Memphis Tigers basketball game.


They played Loyola Maryland and the game SHOULD have been a blowout but we ended up on the edges of our seats because, well, they're Memphis!  They pulled out with the win though.

The highlight for the boys?  High fiving the players after the game! 

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Saturday night, after the baking was done, we settled in for "family game night."  Um.  I mean a game of K1 vs. Mom.

I totally won.  Don't listen to what he tells you!
 

What I hope I always remember from that night of Kids vs. Parents: K1 thought molars were tiny animals and that Gin Rummy was an actress!

Sunday morning - Christmas Eve! - was the big day!  The kids had been DYING to open presents.  We opened early, before eating, just in case we had any friends come over later for food and football.




The kids all made out - K1's onsie was probably the favorite gift that any of the kids got!  Mark and I got a copper pan that we're both psyched to use but have yet to do so because this is lazy week.

For Christmas Eve dinner, we dined on fried turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, potato casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and rolls.  Jon and Miss M joined us since the Bears were playing the Browns and - Yay! - Bears won!


Christmas Eve night, the girls set out cookies and milk and Coke Zero for Santa.  Everyone settled in just before 10:00 which, seriously, felt like SUCH a win!  I honestly thought I'd have to go to bed and set my alarm for 2 a.m. in order to Santa it up with no kiddos awake.
 

J knocked on our bedroom door at 4:00 . . . then again at 5:00 . . . then again at 6:50.  Oh man, were these kids EXCITED!  It truly doesn't matter how old they get . . . how the go from all the Cars and Toy Story to Under Armor and Nike.  They're still excited on Christmas morning!
 





We didn't go crazy or all out for Christmas this year.  Each child was gifted an "experience" (a basketball game for the boys, getting their ears pierced for the girls) and they had a total of seven gifts - mostly clothes - each from Santa.  They were mostly very happy with what they got and I spent Christmas just the way I wanted - being lazy in my pajamas.  In fact, after the gifts were opened, Mark and I took a nap and slept until noon!
 

Christmas night I was watching my baby - my last baby who still believes - play with her doll and I was just hit with this overwhelming feeling of love and awe and this is why we do this.  She played with that doll all day.  The other kids had a constant and ongoing fashion show with their new clothes.  In fact, when the Dubya Three left with their dad on Tuesday morning, K1 was literally wearing everything he got for Christmas!  I've struggled so much this year with having older kids, with missing having really little ones at the holidays.  But you know what?  The magic is still there. It's dressed in an Under Armor hoodie but it's still there!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ugly Socks and More!

My plans for this week include being the absolute laziest mofo on the planet.  Mark went back to work yesterday morning and texted me (at the acceptable 11:00 hour) to ask me how my hibernation was going.  Blissful, thank you very much.  I basically did nothing yesterday other than prep a pot of soup, shower, and finish re-reading the Elin Hilderbrand Winter series.

Anyway, I wrote this post last week and thought I'd go ahead and publish today.  A glimpse at some of our pre-Christmas shenanigans . . .

Monday was Grinch Day at school for my little lady baby.


Unfortunately, she came home sick a little early but she still got to make this cute ornament. When I worked after school back in the day, we made Grinch ornaments too. But we used green craft pom poms and film canisters painted to look like chimnies. 

Tuesday was Polar Express Day and the little one got to wear her jammies to school.
 

J saw a play at school on Tuesday and it talked about the Virgin Mary. He came home and asked me what a virgin was. I’m actually surprised this was the first time the question came up! I told him point blank it was a person who had not had sex. 

“So am I a virgin?”
“Yes ....”
“Are you?”
“Well, J, I have three kids ...”
“Mom! Gross! We’re adopted!”
Fair enough. 

Wednesday was class party today! Mark was off and, let me tell you, he was super excited to hit up the class parties. ;)

We started in K1’s class and helped them make ornaments. 


The fifth graders practically had free reign of the elementary part of the school. Teachers and room parents set up tables of snacks outside of their classes and they bounced from room to room. They LOVED it and had so much fun. I can’t believe it’s their last year for class parties!
 


K2’s party was the last one we hit up. We helped the kiddos make ornaments. 


Then they used toilet paper to turn each other into snowmen. It was so cute! 



After the parties, Mark and I chilled at Doc’s for a bit for some kid-free time before the cray-cray. Mike and Russell joined us and it was just a good - and much needed! - time. 

Yesterday was our first annual Ugly Sock Party! I told the kiddos who were coming to wear their ugliest Christmas socks and bring their favorite candy wrapped for a white elephant type exchange. 

We started off the party decorating sugar cookies. 


I made Grinch floats (lime shebert and sprite.)


Then it was time for our ugly sock parade! 

I let my kids decorate their own and, well, even though we worked on them Wednesday, K1 and the Girl both used puffy paint that their’s were STILL wet! Ha! I have to show my K2’s thought. Hers was so ugly she only made one!



Only a few of our partygoers participated but they did GREAT on their socks. We had a parade then cheered for the winter. First place went to ...


I wish I’d gotten a better pic of her socks. She made trees out of pom poms!

We ended the party with a white elephant candy exchange. I decided to do candy for two reasons: every kid would leave happy and it’s relatively cheap. 


It was a really fun party and I think we need to make it an annual thing. 

The kids ended the night by opening their gifts from Russell and Kathy. 


They each got gift cards and were so happy!

Lots of fun, lots of celebrating!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Memory?

Yesterday I was re-reading Elin Hilderbrand’s Christmas Street. One of the characters describes her favorite Christmas and it got me wondering ... what’s mine?

I have awesome Christmas memories! I remember when J was just a year old, toddling down the hall in his footie jammies with all that hair and a huge smile. I remember the year K2 kicked Santa and the year the boys were so, so proud of their Toy Story jammies. There are funny memories — the year my grandma yelled, “Grace? Grace died 30 years ago!” at Christmas dinner, the year we couldn’t find Uncle Tom and he was asleep on the trampoline.  I remember high school days, trading gifts with friends. White elephant parties, church pageants, looking at lights on Horseshoe Mountain and Nob Hill. 

My favorite memory, though, is a really simple one. I was probably younger than all my children are now. It was Christmas Eve night, we were coming home from my grandparent’s house, and my dad pointed to a red light in the sky (one there every night, but no matter, that night it was Rudolph.) “We have to hurry home! Santa’s almost here!”

It’s a super simple moment, memory but let me tell you why it’s a favorite ... because earlier that day we had been at my Granny’s house, where we always did Christmas Eve lunch. There were tons of people and so much food and people turning the wood stove down so we wouldn’t die of a heat stroke. Christmas Eve dinner was at my grandparents, my dad’s parents, were there was always my grandpa’s cheesedip and a plate of olives and gifts galore. Christmas morning Santa came and then that afternoon it was lunch with my other grandparents, all the cousins, all the food. 

The memory is so special to me because ... they were all there. My dad. My pawpaw. My granny and grandad, my Ma, my Aunt Faye and Uncle James. They’ve all passed since then but that night ... the night my dad saw Rudolph’s nose, they had all been a part of my Christmas at some point. And what I wouldn’t give to hug each of their necks again, what I wouldn't give for my children to know them.  What I wouldn't give.

Christmas memories of happy years gone by
They come back to me and keep me warm inside . . .

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Birthdays, Graduations, Painted Turtles

I can't believe we're less than a week until Christmas.  Things around here are about to get busy - but fun!  Today is Mark's last day of work for a week.  I have one gift left to buy and I'm hoping to knock out a majority of my wrapping today.  Tomorrow the kids have their class parties then the school-wide holiday sing along.  Thursday is our ugly Christmas sock party and then things really get going over the weekend.  So much fun stuff planned!

This past weekend was a pretty good one too.  Friday night, we lit a fire in the fireplace and roasted hotdogs and marshmallows.  The kids love doing this and it makes an ordinary night a little more special.
 

Saturday morning, Mark and I knocked out a ton of Christmas shopping . . . and all of it at Dick's.  The older four kids basically just want all the Nike and Under Armor.  I so miss the idea of being able to buy Cars and Toy Story -- things were way cheaper then too! 

That afternoon, a few people came over and we barbecued and watched the Bears game.  My boys . . . when they see Dennis or Russell, they're immediately asking them to toss the football or play basketball. 
 

K2 went to a birthday party that afternoon.  When she got home, she talked Uncle Russell into helping her paint the turtle's shell.
 

Sammy is all festive now!
 

The Girl went ice skating and to Zoo Lights with her bestie.  And K2's day was made when Miss Mads came to spend the night.  There were Shopkins all over my living room floor but the girlies had a great time.
 


Sunday was this . . .

Kendra graduated from the University of Memphis with her nursing degree!  This has been a long time coming and she worked really hard.  We were happy to be there to celebrate such a big accomplishment.  Oh, and we also got to see Riley Ferguson (Memphis QB) and Anthony Miller (wide receiver) walk and receive their degrees.  My boys were a little jealous they missed out on that one.  ;)

Pretty good weekend! 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Our Elf Wears Underwear (and other festive-ish things)


I'm trying to get in the spirit!  I'm trying hard.  I bought a (very) few more presents, I'm planning an ugly sock Christmas party for next week, and I spent yesterday binge watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. 


This is our elf, Mittens Joy Peyton.  Why is she wearing lacy pink panties?  I'm glad you asked.  Last year the kids were HORRIBLE about touching her and just being jackasses in general as far as she was concerned.  At the end of the season, I hid her in my underwear drawer.  Over the summer, the girls were snooping in my room and found her, something I handled with MUCH dignity and grace.  Just kidding, I flipped my shit especially when they kept going on about how gross it was she was hanging out with my panty-wears.  So when she came back this season, she was dressed in that lacy pink thing as a way of deterring children from touching her.

Now - a little look at our festive goings on from the week!

Monday
 

The kiddos had Grinch Floats (lime sherbet with Sprite) for snack.  They're in bowls because they fixed the sherbet before I thought to pour the Sprite in.  Oh well.  Kids loved 'em! 

Monday night was The Boy's Christmas orchestra concert.  We'd planned on all going but the kids had a lot of homework and it just didn't shake out for us all to go.  Mark went and said they played great but it was at least 90* in the auditorium so I'm glad we didn't take a bunch of whiny kids!

Tuesday
 

The Girl turned eleven on Tuesday!

We started the day with our traditional birthday breakfast of . . . canned cinnamon rolls!  My kids love these and expect them pretty much every birthday morning.
 

I met her at school for lunch.  This is one of my favorite birthday traditions -- I love seeing the kids interact with their friends on their turf -- but it's probably the last year for this tradition with the fifth graders.  At this age, I'm merely the lady who brings the food.  I did get to hear all the good fifth grade gossip but long gone are the early elementary days when they practically sat in my lap and told me all about their day as we ate lunch.  I did get to see both my K's though and both hugged me . . . and I got a hug from all the boys in K1's squad too.
 

Tuesday night was J's first ever orchestra concert!
 

The fifth grade orchestra has only practiced together a handful of times and they were so nervous.  Their performance wasn't perfect but, as I told J, they are beginners and they got out there and TRIED!  I thought they did amazing.  Even more amazing was hearing the sixth grade orchestra play after them.  I really hope J sticks it out because, in just one year, they'll go from playing a few notes of Jingle Bells to more complicated pieces and play them beautifully.
 


All three orchestras and two bands played.  It was a great concert; there are some super talented kids!

Wednesday

My daughter . . . my quirky, adorable daughter . . . asked me Monday night, "Mom, can't we just PRETEND we're Jewish?"  They've been studying Hanukkah in school and she was dying to partake in some of the tradition.  I don't know much about Hanukkah beyond menorahs, dreidels, and latkes but I thought we'd give it a little try anyway.  Unfortunately, in our part of the country there are not a lot of places you can go to get last minute stuff for any sort of Jewish celebration.  So we watched Hanukkah videos on YouTube (including, not going to lie, the Holiday Armadillo episode of Friends) and made a paper dreidel.  I fixed latkes, served with sour cream and apple sauce, and a roasted chicken.  Not perfect but then we're not Jewish!

Tonight we're headed out for one of the kids' favorite parts of the season . . . our Polar Express Night!  We wear our jammies and drink hot chocolate as we ride around and look at all the rich people's Christmas lights!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My Favorite


On Saturday, Mark and I celebrated the third anniversary of our first date.  People say "can you believe it's been ___ years?" And, in my case, YES!  Yes I can believe!  Because I can't imagine him not in my life.  In my case, it's more of an "it's ONLY been three years?!?"  I wish I had met him at 24 rather than 34 but I'm just glad he came into my life at all.  Plus, if we had met at 24 we would've had children together and I can't even BEGIN to imagine what sarcastic a-holes they would've been!

This life we live is crazy and hectic and, I mean, we're parenting preteens with their attitudes and eye rolls and death stares and thinking we're the most embarrassing people on earth.  It ain't for the faint of heart.  And I'm so lucky I have him with me as we go through these particular trenches.  He's the calm to my fire, my patience when I have none left.  Life isn't just crazy and hectic, though -- it's also a lot of fun and a lot of love and I'm so glad he's the one I'm doing it with! 

I never thought I could love someone they way I love him.  I never thought I could BE loved the way he loves me.  I never really thought there was someone out there who was honestly perfect for me.  Three years later, I know better.  I know this depth of love.  I know what it's like to let go and love and trust completely.  I know this is what they sing about and write about (even if those songs and books leave out things like annoyance over papers strewn all over the kitchen counters or passive aggressively cleaning your side of the bathroom counter when you're irritated with your other half!)  I would wait yet another 34 years to be able to find this kind of love. 

I'm so glad I went to Doc's on that night of December 9, 2014 . . .

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

We Have Another 11-Year-Old in the House!

Today is The Girl's 11th birthday!


Rather than telling you eleven facts about her - something she would absolutely hate! - I’m just going to tell you a few and then get on discussing a weekend that was all about her!

She is very artistic. She would wear shorts 365 days a year if we’d let her. She can’t save money for anything, friends are life for her these days, and shopping is her favorite. 


For her party this year, she invited five friends (one of missing from this pic) to SkyZone. I kinda hate place parties but, I have to admit, it was so nice not having to frantically clean and decorate on Friday! The party coordinator was awesome, so friendly and fun. I would definitely recommend SkyZone for a party!



Last birthday was the Year of the Shopkins. This time around it’s the Year of the Squenchies. Or whatever those things are called ... they’re basically like the stress balls of yesteryear only in the shape of things like french fries and cupcakes that you squeeze then they slowly come back to their full shape.  She got lots of those as well as gift cards and cold hard cash. 


After the party, she and Mark went to get started on spending her birthday cash. When they got back, Mark lit our first fire of the season. We had the best night just watching movies with a break for the Heisman trophy presentation. We initially planned on a Christmas movie marathon but after Christmas Vacation found that Comedy Central had a Chris Farley and Adam Sandler marathon. Hello!

Sunday was football and cleaning. That night we went to BDubs for an early birthday dinner. Mark is out of town tonight and J has orchestra concert so we celebrated this birthday tradition just a little bit early. 


Today I’ll have lunch with her at school and tonight we’ll do whatever 11-Year-old wants to do on her birthday: venture to her stepbrother’s orchestra concert. Ha!

Happy Birthday Girlchild!!!