Fantasy in Lights


Because it's not quite 2012 and because I feel like this time last week was just a blink ago, Christmas continues. Right here. Right now.

Closing our eyes past midnight and up again at 4am required a nap. So we took one around eight, got up around 9:30, rushed around on and off the phone with Grandma and left to celebrate Christmas with my family at eleven.

We got there just in time for "Christmas Goes Wrong." My dad met us in the carport. Maybe he was glad to see new faces. Or maybe he was our intervention. We stepped inside and before we had the chance to unwrap the Subway sandwich waiting for us, Jake had ripped through every gift he had waiting for him and pouted that he didn't have more. And Emily had written on her brand new, Pottery Barn Kids, pink with chocolate lettered monogram, luggage tag with all her perfect first grade skills in black Sharpie marker (On the outside. Not on the space they give you to write on where it says: Name, Address, Phone Number). Voices raised and little boy tears streamed down his face. Grandma was told, "You're mean. And you made me cry." Then she cried. And I think Christmas came later than she expected (hindsight is definitely 20/20 on the nap) which added to her disappointment. We wondered if we should go.

My sister and brother-in-law waited in the rain and pulled up behind our parents as car number three in the caravan to Callaway Gardens. I called her on the way to wish her a Merry Christmas because I hadn't even seen her and to say "Thank you!" for the green Oglo football she went to three different stores to find for Jake (I finally found one at Target on my lunch hour, and she paid me back.) and the V-Tech Learning Walker she wrapped in paper covered in snowmen for Parker.

This one was called "Winter Wonderland" and was my absolute favorite scene of all.

The two-hour car ride did us good. We got there, and the rain had lifted (in more ways than one). We checked into our rooms, unloaded our things, and made room in two vehicles to drive across the street and into the Gardens.

We rode a trolley for nearly an hour, covered ears with toboggans and little hands with blankets, and oohed and ahhed at lights. Afterwards, we ate pretzel dogs and said 'Hello!" to Frosty, a gingerbread man, and a penguin and shopped. 

My sister, brother-in-law, and niece headed home, and we headed back to our hotel rooms. We sipped hot chocolate, and we listened as Grandpa read from Luke 2.  We saved the best for last. 

Because that's what it's all about - the Baby...born in a manger to save us from our sins.  He is reason for this season. 

And this Christmas season has been one that I'll cherish...always.

Christmas Recap


Christmas morning this year has left me speechless.

This one, Jake's fifth, was the real deal. If he were asked why we celebrate Christmas, he could tell you, "Because it's Jesus' birthday!", and he could sing nearly every Christmas tune out there (and still does). He was all about believing in some Santa Claus, and for the entire week prior, he asked us a ridiculous amount of times, "When is it gonna be Christmas?!?!"

Christmas Eve was a long one. I don't think he closed his eyes until at least eleven. I had not wrapped the first gift - mainly because I feared he would open them when we weren't looking (without the skill of knowing how to "just peak" then wrap them back up) which would leave him high and gift-opening dry on Christmas Day. Santa's cookies and milk waited to be eaten, and Oscar waited to work his elf magic.

We got started a little after ten - threatening him within an inch of his life if he came out of his room (he did anyway). And just before midnight, the gifts were under our tree and his door was covered in wrapping paper.

Jim and I woke up early so we could wake him (I think it was 5am) and see his reaction from start to finish (and yeah, get it all on tape). I held Parker while Jim recorded. I knocked on his door, and we both said, "Jake, wake up! It's Christmas!"

"It's Christmas?!.......It's Chrissssssstmas!" Reality check (and probably falling out of bed disoriented) - loved it!

He first tried to crawl under the paper - not working there so we suggested he punch through it. And he did.

As for the rest of the wrapping paper....well, he knew what to do.

Baby needed a little help. And most of all, he loved the bows and pieces of cardboard...just as we expected.

After all of the gifts were opened, there was one more surprise in his stocking and a note from Oscar:


Thank you for letting me be your special friend and bring magic to you this Christmas. I hope you like the gift I've left for you. Please think of me and invite me to come back next year. I will miss you, and I love you!


P.S. Please sing Happy Birthday to Jesus for me! Merry Christmas!

Oh it was so much fun. The whole thing. The gifts. The singing. The ten extra fingers and ten extra toes amongst the wrapping paper.

And unforgettable.

And special. Really, really special.

Where are you Christmas?


The big day has come and gone.

And if our tree was still standing in our foyer, these two would still be all up under it.

And they'd definitely still be wearing their two different sets of matching pj's, one that makes them look like elves and one that describes them as being Santa's helpers - both of which we totally wore out (so much they may or may not have worn them more than one night in a row without being washed first...Christmas only comes once a year, and desperate times called). But we've officially marked December 25 off of the calendar and pegged out our Christmas meter.

The aftermath has kept me away - so much I feel like I'll need to do two-a-days just to catch up.

In hopes this one starts a trend,

"Do you think I'll hear his sleigh bells when he comes tonight, Mommy?"


We're all wrapped up in wishes and wonder.

And strands of multi-colored lights.

The gifts that are now under our tree are wrapped in one of almost every kind of we own - Toy Story, stockings, Rudolph, snowmen, and Snoopy.

Jake's bedposts are still wrapped in lights and so is his door - complete with a red bow on it that he'll have to burst through when he opens it tomorrow morning. A present to open just to get to his presents - one last taste of Oscar the Elf magic that we already can't wait to experience again next December.

"Christmas" has threatened not to come several times today, but overall, it's been good.

As for tomorrow, I think Linus says it best.

Charlie Brown: "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!?!"

Linus: "Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Merry Christmas to all!

And to all a good night!

Santa Successfully


Twelve days of not-much-doin'.  That's precisely our goal for the amount of time we're spending away from our typical everyday, and to accomplish it, we're keeping our expectations low and plans unmade.  We've made small talk of things "we'd like to do" or "get done", but at the end of the day and the end of 2011, we just want to say we made enough memories this holiday season to fill the pages of a book-you-can't-put-down full.

We started Thursday by taking Jake and Parker to sit on Santa's lap.  It was Parker's first time and Jake's fourth (fifth?) - just to make sure he remembers what he asked him for, add one more from his ever-changing and ever-growing list of wants, and to take the infamous photo with Santa.  It turned out ridiculously good and hear me loud and proud when I say we are still celebrating our success.  Jake marveled at the man who has the power to bring him anything he asks him for and knows when he's sleeping and when he's awake, and Parker kept his eyes on the orange feather duster that tickled his cheeks and lit up his face with a smile.

Yesterday we ate a huge breakfast at City Cafe in Downtown Northport and wished our best of friends a Merry Christmas over chicken fingers at Walton's.

Our Christmas shopping is completely done, but not a single gift is wrapped (We're starting a new tradition this year of giving four - three because that's how many were brought to Jesus the night of His birth and one that he asked Santa for.).  I'm hoping Oscar will bring his elf magic for realz tonight and fill the bottom of our tree until the tree skirt can't be seen with boxes wrapped in paper colored with snowmen and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  **Sidenote:  I have got to get Jake on video singing some of the Christmas tunes he knows by heart.  It is absolutely priceless to listen in!  Right now, though, he's found himself tangled in a long strand of lights (the multi-color ones because that's all he's been asking for since the ones on our tree are clear) that's been plugged in, wrapped around the footboard of Jake's bed three (maybe four) times, and has his room glowing in Christmas color.

T-1 Day!  I can't believe all of the believing and magic and hype is just one away!

I'm pumped, Ya'll!

And this is why I love Pinterest.


Who else is thinking I've started something here?

When it speaks to me or changes my life completely or gets checked off of my list of things to do, or, in this case, brings an instant smile to my face , there is absolutely nothing left to do but dedicate a post to it...and to the website that makes it all happen.

The End.

Pooch is working that costume big time.

I wonder if he's trying to run his way out of it - or if he feels as super as he looks.

Was he really?


Ever this small? 

This tells me,...Yes. 

My heart says,...Where did he go?  

It also says to him,

"I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be."
~Robert N. Munsch

Tonight I did something I haven't in a loooong while.  I ordered hard copies from file folders more than six months old.  And when I did, I stumbled across this one above that I took of Parker when he was still shy of two weeks old. 

He's changed so incredibly much - but when I stare long enough, I still see the baby he's slowly but surely growing out of being. 

That's exactly what this makes me want to do.  Just sit and stare a while. 

And cry.  Yep.  Definitely cry. 

And maybe even go watch him sleep.  And smell his hair. 

Okay, that does it.

Sunday Shortly

Forgive me for the short and sweet.

My wheels are slow to turn. It's late. I'm catching up on every second of good TV that aired between last Sunday and this one.

Sunday through Sunday in bits and pieces goes like this.

We've kicked ear infections and eczema to the curb. And I'm still amazed at how much better he felt after just one dose and one rub down of his prescriptions.

I did soooo much Christmas shopping in unexpected places (corner shops and shopping malls found in cities traveled for work) and yelled a crazy loud Welcome Home! to Jake on Friday.

He and Jim walked down our street and put boxes of hot chocolate on the front doormats of neighbors' homes then slipped candy canes underneath windsheild wipers in the mall parking lot on Saturday night.

And apparently Oscar has had it out for these guys all week.

When we found them like this on Saturday morning, it was still hard to tell who won.

But I'm happy to say since then, they seem to have resolved their differences.

Tomorrow's another day.


Maybe by then I'll have a real post up.

With pictures.

And sentences.

Until then.




While a twelve ounce can of Sunkist and a white Styrofoam container of all-but-one-bite gone banana pudding (Jim and I ate at Mr. Bill's tonight. Their banana pudding could sell as good as crack if everyone just had a little taste of it.) sits on my bedside table, this is sitting on our kitchen counter.

Parker wasn't his usual late yesterday afternoon (but somehow managed to be between the hours of seven to eight pm...mommy magic...I promise you he was just waiting for me to come home.) and was equally out of sorts a few hours after breakfast this morning.

The eczema he tends to keep on the back of his legs was brighter, bumpier and more intensely red than normal (Don't get me wrong. I love the color red but not as a scaly skin color for Baby.), so I made a call to Dr. B's office to schedule an appointment to have him take a look with a while-he's-at-it-maybe-he-can-figure-out-why-he's-cranky in the mix. 

Length - 29"  Weight - 19 pounds, 12.5 ounces

He looked not only at his skin (steroid cream twice daily for five days) but in his eyes and ears.  And when he did, he noticed his ear canal was the same color as the patches of eczema.  Blow your whistle and wave an ear infection onto Parker Street.  It's his first and our first (Jake - wait......while I knock on wood - hasn't had the misery.).  There's seems to be one for everything. 

Sidenote:  Jake let it be known that he "would just be too sad" if he left his grandparents today, worked his four-year old magic, and is staying until Friday (with no further option to extend beyond two more days). 

Missing him and Dr. Mom for the next ten,    

You've Been RACK'ed!


Saying "No", for me, is one of the hardest things to do. What makes it even harder is when I'm put on the spot or when it comes to those because-I-feel-like-I-can't-even-though-I-rather moments. "Yes!" is my first response because the reasoning for otherwise just isn't on the tip of my tongue. Or because I wouldn't consider any other answer...I would do close to anything for that person because I love her and she would do the same if she were wearing the same pair of knee high boots I am. Or because, you know, it avoids a meltdown in Target.

Well...and it's not just the meltdown factor. I want to give him happiness - and if that means buying him another beyblade, then I do it. I swipe my card at the next available register and don't even think twice as I watch him smile and toss paper and plastic packaging all over the backseat and then listen to him say, "1! 2! 3! Leeeet iiiiiiittttttt Rip!" as he pulls the cord and sends it spinning all over our living room floor.

But by doing this it feeds the "gimmies". Gimmie this. Oh!...And while you're at it, gimmie that too. He expects something every time we shut off our car and walk through the automatic open doors which is neither realistic or financially possible. And at this time of year, when "Jake, what do you want for Christmas?" is nineteen of twenty questions that he gets, it fuels the gimmies even more. He wants it ALL. And now. Please. Thank you.

As his mom, I want him to grow beyond the gimmies. I want him to understand that having food in our pantry is something a huge portion of the world's population does not. And that getting a toy?...that is a privilege. No, I don't want to rob him of the excitement of sitting on Santa's lap and finding exactly what he asked him for underneath our Christmas tree on December 25. And yes, the odds that I'll give in and add something to the rotating belt at the checkout that he really doesn't need the next time we make a Target run are pretty good. But getting it through that it's better to give than receive is still do or die for me.

That's why when I saw this idea of doing Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, I went a little crazy - like left work went straight to Michael's made our list of twenty-five oh yeah we're doing this - crazy.

We made ours by using scrapbook paper, a corner rounder punch, a single hole punch, a red ink pen for writing each act of kindness on the back, and ribbon.

Our list of twenty-five random acts of kindness goes like this:

Hold the door open for someone
Let someone go in line in front of you
Return a shopping cart
Write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life
Visit/donate to an animal shelter
Pick up your toys
Bring your co-workers a treat
Call or visit someone who is sick
Sing Christmas carols at a nursing home
Donate $1
Send a handmade card to someone
Write a thank-you note
Leave something in the mailbox for the mailman
Start a piggy bank for a cause
Drop off a toy or game at a hospital or homeless shelter
Donate clothes to The Salvation Army
Put candy canes on the windshields of parked cars
Take goodie bags to school for classmates
Donate canned foods to a foodbank
Call someone (Grandma/Grandpa) just to say "I love you."
Leave treats on three neighbors' doorsteps
Leave a quarter on a vending machine
Donate a coat to Coats for Kids
Put together a box for Operation Christmas Child
Put coins in a red Salvation Army donation bucket

And Jake is doing all of them - for the most part - or is at minimum involved in the act itself (And if we're not able to do exactly one per weekday, we double or triple up on the days we can just to make sure we get all twenty-five in.); like when we returned the shopping cart, he walked along side me holding onto it, and he looked at me and said, "This is being kind, Mommy. We are serving others right?".

This past weekend when we went out to dinner with our friends on Saturday night, he took not just one beyblade but two so they could play together, and when he asked Taylor if he had a beyblade to play with at home and Taylor's answer was a no, he gave him the extra one and wouldn't have it any other way.

Now that...that...has "He's getting it! He's totally getting it!" written all over it.



Wishing him

a very Happy 11 month Birthday

was the cherry on top of our cool whip

last week!


Being the subject of these photos was totally not his.  Therefore, the irrisistible (and multiple) ones of him wearing his I-could-eat-him-whole-right-this-second baby jeans. 

Happy 11 Months, Baby Boy!

The big he comes!

Catchup on Aisle 3


This morning I woke up with a painfully sore throat. Jim has had the same (with a cough), and Jake has been getting breathing treatments two to three times a day since Wednesday. As for Parker, he is first choice for all germs, so cold symptoms just sort of linger.

Three days of straight up busy have passed us by.

On Thursday morning, Jake and his classmates went to Morning Pointe (an assisted living home in Northport) to sing Christmas carols to some of their residents. He sung out Jingle Bells loud and proud and bits and pieces of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Happy Birthday (to Jesus). During the in-between, he wiped the base of his nose with his sleeve and moved from front and center to almost completely in my lap. His redemption for the latter came in the form of the hugs and kisses and candy canes he handed out afterwards to the ones with totally grey hair and walkers. He waited in the carpool line for me at three o'clock (I left work early so I could get him home to do another breathing treatment.); and later that night, we left thank you notes and a Happy 5th Birthday card and gift card in our mailbox.

Friday was Jake's last day of school until 2012 (How crazy is that?  Holy cow, I can't believe another year is almost gone!), and his class celebrated with a pizza and gift exchange party. It was an hour and a half of K4 chaos (you least one spill and "Mrs. Lang! When do we get to open our presents?!"'s over.and over.and over.again.) and good times. What I loved most was how they each took a turn wearing a Santa hat while they divyed out the gifts they had brought for each other; and then when all fourteen were given away, a collective "Thank you!" rang out. Well...that and how cute they were doing it. His school day Friday was shortened by an hour and forty-five once again, and a few hours later we battled the toy aisles in Target (How in the world does a BOGO Barbie sale create two aisles of nearly bare shelves and red shopping carts every.where?!).

Finally, yesterday was a mostly at-home one. We played broken records (the ones called Cleaning and Laundry). We all took naps in the afternoon and then met our friends James and Tonya and their three for dinner. Afterwards, we swung back through Target and shopped on the opposite side of the store that we didn't even make it to the night before (dang Barbies).

Today, besides waking up to more Mucinex, we found Oscar on Jake's nightstand with stickers stuck all over his arms, face, chest, and legs (His days have been somewhat uneventful because at Jake's request, they've been co-sleeping.). We're in the process of packing Jake up to go stay with his grandparents for a few days. He'll be back home Wednesday. And as always (and especially on Sundays), we're rejoicing.

This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24