Monday, December 22, 2014


We took down Christmas today, December 23rd. Santa visited our house yesterday, but today you would hardly have known.  It's weird.  It feels like Christmas is over, but tomorrow we'll be winging our way to family and friends and, possibly, snow.  We're giddy with anticipation.  Santa was sort of an afterthought this Christmas and I think I like it that way.  The only item on Ben's list was, "be with my family and Byrdie" (one of his besties back home).

So today, possibly my last blog post of the year, I decided to leave you with two things that have gotten me in the Christmas spirit.  We read "A Christmas Carol" for the first time.  I admit I was anxious to see how my boys did with the vocabulary and writing style, but thanks to Mickey Mouse and the Muppets they were familiar with the story, so they adjusted just fine.

Also, a pair of mitts I've been knitting for Sadie.  Fast, and satisfying, and oh so adorable.  They match her aviator hat.  I should be packing.  I can hear Dean sighing from down the hall as I type this.  It is an early flight, but I refuse to be a Scrooge and I think I might just be able to finish that last mitt before the flight.  Finger's crossed.

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite passages...

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” 
― Charles DickensA Christmas Carol

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” 
― Charles DickensA Christmas Carol

“Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” 
― Charles DickensA Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014


She loves all things Santa until she's forced to sit on his knee.  

Joining Mamabyrd and friends in their weekly Impressions.  Post your own here or there.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Minute to Win It, Christmas style

I'm a room mom, again.   I vowed I wouldn't be, but when the teacher asks you in front of your child it's not that easy to say, "no".  I felt a little guilty because it's for Ben's class again, which means Alan gets jipped, but Alan's class has an amazing room mom duo and I did send Doritos.  Plus, I figure there are many more years to be room mom.  It helps that Dean took today off so he was able to be in Alan's class.  There's only one photo.  He's choosing his book swap number.  A book swap. That sounds like a calm and peaceful idea. Why didn't I think of that?

I'm not sure if Christmas parties have evolved in the 30ish years since I was in elementary school but every time I spend an hour at one of them I gain a greater appreciation for my own mom who was a room parent extraordinaire, and for all the wonderful teachers my boys have had over the years.

These third graders spent an hour tossing mini-marshmallows at each other, fishing for mini candy canes, and finding Rudolph's nose (you put vaseline on the end of your nose and stick your face in the cotton balls to try to get the red pom-pom's to stick.)  It was wild, and crazy, and loud, and super fun, but that book swap is sounding better and better.  Maybe for Valentine's Day?...

Friday, December 12, 2014


His first time using pastels, the assignment was "draw a Christmas scene".  I think he nailed it

Joining Mamabyrd and others in their weekly Impressions.  Feel free to add your own either here or there.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Neighbor Gifts

Neighbor gifting is not my forte.  I'm not a baker,  but I have a hard time thinking of things other than food.  I had seen a shirt with this Alabama silhouette and the words "sweet home" superimposed on it and I thought, "that's totally do-able".  Then I remembered a stack of flour sack dishcloths from last Christmas that never got given out because I couldn't think of anything to put on them,  and a neighbor gift was born.

Of course I realize this particular pattern is only helpful if you actually live in Alabama, but my Mamabyrd friend gifted me a dishtowel with fabric appliqué on it a few years ago, and my Kari friend made one with embroidery.  I still use both of them all the time, so if you're short on ideas, grab a stack of dishtowels and let the creativity loose.  Stenciling seemed easier than both the appliqué and embroidery, but still a useful gift, I hope.

(I traced a silhouette of Alabama onto freezer paper.  Next, I cut out the relief image, being sure to leave wide edges to catch the paint. Iron the freezer paper stencil onto the dish cloth.  I used stickers I already had to leave the words white, but you could also stencil the words on after it dries.)

I thought I'd wrap up a loaf of crusty no-knead bread (it's the one thing I can actually bake) inside the towel.  Dean doesn't understand the stress relief when I actually pull off the yearly neighbor gift, but it really is good to check it off my list and move on to the rest of my Holiday to-do's.

What are your favorite neighbor gift ideas?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Winter Fest

With Christmas approaching, Dothan got it's snow on at the annual Winter Fest.  A street festival of sorts with Santa as the main event. This is our second year now and we figured out last year that we could sled a lot more if we skip Santa and head straight for the sledding hill.  This year the boys even bypassed the marshmallows.  It was a little too warm for standing around a fire anyway.

This is how Dothan does snow.  You can't see it very well but he's pulling the blocks of ice with those cool old ice hook grabber things.  (I'm sure there's a real name for them, but that's what Ben and Alan called them.)  We got there just in time to see the proper way to build a sledding hill when there's no snow to be found.

Technically her third winter, but really the first one where she's interested in this white stuff.

Last year our socks were soaked. This year we came prepared for sledding in Alabama...

The sad reality of a "snow day" in Southern Alabama.  Ben couldn't stop singing Olaf's song from Frozen, the one about what snowmen do in summer...  puddles, Olaf, nothing but puddles.

Friday, December 5, 2014


We won't even be here on Christmas Day, but a year without a Christmas tree just didn't seem right.

Joining  Mamabyrd and others in their weekly impressions.  Add your own here, or there.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Green Christmas

It was 75* in Alabama yesterday.  And while I'm not exactly complaining about the beautiful December weather we've been enjoying, I couldn't help but feel a little homesick when my mom mentioned she'd been cutting fresh cedar boughs with which to deck her halls.  I LOVE cedar boughs.  To me they are the epitome of Christmas decorations and I used to have a backyard full of them when we lived in Utah.

I had all of this on my mind last night when I arrived at a church activity at the home of one of our ward members.  She had these lovely fresh green wreaths on all her windows and some kind of drapey fir garland over her mantel, not to mention a beautiful magnolia wreath on her door and mailbox.  I asked where she had gotten them and she pointed to an alley on the side of her house where all the obliging plants were growing.  Needless to say, I went home with a truck full of Southern greenery, perfect for decking my own halls.

It's called Elaeagnus, and it reminds me of Forsythia.  It grows as a bush but shoots out long tendrils, perfect for making wreaths.  I also love the silvery backside of the leaves.  I was instructed to make the wreath, soak it, and then apply a thin coat of polyurethane, if desired.

I've embraced the best of both.  Our toboggan and ice-skates might be a little ironic here, but they fit in better with some magnolia leaves tucked here and there.  The glossy leaves remind me so much of holly.  I'm sure Southern Living Magazine would be proud.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Late Leaves

We came home Thanksgiving evening to a wonderful surprise.  The sister missionaries had raked our leaves.  They left us a fantastic jumping pile we just couldn't resist.

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Stockings Were Hung

My Christmas stocking was hand knit in 1978 for my first Christmas.  It was made by Mrs. Hales, a neighbor across the street.  The stockings she made for me and all of my brothers are proof that she loved children, although, now that I think about it,  maybe it was just babies she loved.  My only memories of her include scolding, and finger wagging.  One of our favorite neighborhood games was daring each other to run on her grass.  (After her death they found a box of balls in her basement, many of which belonged to the Wilkinson family across the street. )  I bear her no ill-will, however, and adore the vintage-y look and feel of her wonderful creation.

I hadn't thought much of my stocking after my mom passed it along to me.  I had purchased fancy new ones after Dean and I were married.  Then, along came Benjamin, and another sweet neighbor, Ms. Francine Wiggins, who knew of Mrs. Hales and the stockings she made, knit another beautiful sock just in time for his first Christmas.

I mentioned to my mom that Dean didn't have a hand knit stocking and that I should learn to knit, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but another hand knit stocking with Dean's name on it.  My mom had mentioned what I had said in passing, and dear Ms. Wiggins took pity and whipped one up.  Now, when I say "whipped one up", I am using words only non-knitters use because I was one at the time.  She knit two stockings for me out of the goodness of her heart and after having knit two more on my own, I am deeply grateful.

Fortunately I had learned to knit by the time Sadie and Alan joined our family.  I called Ms. Wiggins and she gave the pattern to my mom to mail.   This post didn't make it in the blog last year because Alan's sock was only half finished.  It wasn't until Thanksgiving weekend that Dean reminded me I had a half finished sock under the bed and only a few weeks to finish it.

We're still a stocking holder short, and Alan and Sadie's socks still need their sequins, but they're done.  I only had a little trouble reading the pattern.  You're supposed to knit each half flat and then seam it together, but it was too confusing.  Another friend helped me adjust it to be able to knit in the round and, voila!!

Ben has accused me of making Sadie's the biggest.  Seeing them hung I have to agree.  Good thing all that acrylic yarn is so stretchy.  His will be able to hold just as much.  I hope my littles will appreciate their 70's inspired stockings.  I have so much red and green and white yarn left there's sure to be plenty 20 years from now when I have to knit more for the grand youngun's.

What is your favorite Chirstmas heirloom?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Went Walking...

Having brothers home for Thanksgiving break means our mother daughter routine is thrown off a bit. Sadie and I usually share a walk just before lunch time.  We take Bailey down to the end of the cup-de-sac and back.  It's just enough to wear out our ancient beagle and Sadie's small legs.  

Today, Alan and Ben went on the walk too. I decided to sit this one out, thinking it would be a good time for some sibling cooperation and responsibility.

The inevitable fights about who gets to hold the leash, a fall or two, tears, Alan making it home way before Ben and Sadie because "no one would race with him"...

I got half the kitchen swept before they were all back inside again tattling on each other, but also laughing and talking about the next time they take Bailey for a walk.  In my book, that's a success.