Thursday, November 29, 2012


we got the tree and put it up.  it involved:
to the tune of the 12 days of christmas...
4 arguing kids...
3 broken ornaments...
2 obsessive animals...
1 very aaaaannnnnn..........gry mom.
that's another story for another time.
but it did end with my sad, yet satisfying declaration that i will do it myself next year.
i will do it alone...during the day...with a mug of hot chocolate and my christmas music playing...and i will put aside the non breakables for the kids to do that evening.  and if they want a football game on in the background instead of rockin' around the christmas tree...then so be it.  and if they want to fight over who's ornament is who's...knock yourself out.  and if they decide that they are more interested in playing hide and seek with the biggie.
it's a win-win.
mine and chad's 13th wedding anniversary was tuesday.  i was looking forward to a quiet night together...and picking out our anniversary ornament.  instead...i ended up at home...helping the kids with homework while chad coached colt's basketball game.  he came home for about 15 minutes before he had to leave again to turn colt's football equipment in.
we decided to try to salvage the evening by ordering take-out and watching a movie at home.  i had the kids bathed and fed and homework done so that we could have the rest of the night.  we heard them up at 9:30...paused the movie...and went to see what was going on.
this is what was going on.
they had decided to draw beards and mustaches on each other with PERMANENT marker!  when asked "what on earth they were doing" (a phrase made popular by my own parents) they each pointed the finger at the other.
i guess aiden went second...because hers came off with a little bit of force.
but all the scrubbing and on-line marker removal techniques in the world wouldn't get that art masterpiece off of chase's face.
he went to school yesterday with a red, raw face and remnants of a blue mustache.
and then when they got home...they had to work for me because they showed such "poor judgement" (another way of saying "y'all just made a really stupid decision).  plus...they didn't go to bed when i told them to.
i mean...seriously.
last night...i walked into chase trying to tie the cat's tail in a knot.
what is going on these days????  it's like they've swallowed dumb decision pills or something.
chad assures me that we will laugh about all of this.  someday.
i guess so.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving in Salado

salado, texas doesn't fail to impress...with it's rocky hillsides; twinkly lit old houses turned gift shops lining the town's main street; and deer that come out in record numbers at dusk to feed. they know that they have nothing to fear here...for they are as much a part of this small texas town as the old man sitting on the porch bench outside of magnolias, chewing on the end of his pipe.
life moves a little slower there.
and for that...i am grateful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

it's a good holiday...and should be celebrated as such.

i can't do anything half-way.  it doesn't matter what it is...half way is never sufficient.
this drives chad crazy.  half way is okay with him.  preferred, even.  half way means more gets accomplished.  and time is not wasted on things that...seemingly...don't matter.  like cotton ball snowman crafts.  or perfectly tied ribbons on wreaths.  or white twinkly lights being re-positioned to cover that bare branch.  or an extra load of laundry being done to ensure that the christmas gown is ready to slip over my girl for her sleepover.  or a frantic trip to the grocery for peppermint ice cream...because the occasion happens to be perfectly accompanied by peppermint ice cream.
i think that love is in the details.
i'm not saying that it's "right."  but i am saying that it's me.

it's true that no one else would ever know the difference...

but i do.

and to me...

it matters.

a perfect example would be elves drinking syrup from straws.

no...they don't get into elaborate shenanigans like this every night.  but...if i think that i can somehow foster wide eyed wonder and a squeal of excitement...then by golly...all responsibility flies out the window and precious minutes are spent concocting magical elf meetings...when laundry sits, unfolded and the kitchen goes uncleaned.
sometimes...i scold myself.  saying things like, "you really should use your time more wisely.  you really need not spend a whole extra hour at target combing the isles for things like the perfect burt's bees baby wash and lotion scent and the best woodsy, yet non-breakable holly berries for our woodland tree.  you really should be cleaning the toilets and meal planning and making dinner."
but i'll be john brown if...when i see those berries lit up on the tree or hug my freshly bathed baby tight and kiss her soft, blonde wisps of hair and smell that burt's bees smell...that my heart doesn't sing happiness.

and you can bet your hard earned dollar that when i quickly hit up pinterest for that recipe that i pinned last week...i get completely and utterly taken captive by the new take on the front door wreath...and spend the next hour constructing it from items that we already have in our house.  and consequetly...the recipe is completely forgotten.
but when i see that thing...i swear my heart beats a little faster.  because that's what happy does.  it makes your heart pitter patter.

i could easily buy a bag of bows...but that doesn't excite me like a homemade mason jar dispenser of string does.  and if something like this makes hours of christmas wrapping seem like a trip to visit the sound of music's vontrap's worth it.

i'm a little stressed that i can't find last year's picture of annslee and our oak.  this tree was planted around the same time that she was...and i have this grand vision of having 18 pictures of annslee growing year by year with this oak.  i have already envisioned her positioned carefully in front of it...wearing her cap and gown...and sweetly smiling because she knows how important this sort of thing is to her mama.

there are times when i snap a picture and instantly know...
it's perfect.
these are some of those pictures.

this morning...i overheard a conversation with flicka and chad.  it went a little like this:
chad:  "so...what do you think about leaving your pappys out for santa? he can take them to little children who don't have any pappys."
annslee (after 15 seconds of careful thought):  "NO!!!! thems are MINE."
so...that's not going to go over as well as it did with colt.  apparently.
aiden had her bestest friend over for a sleepover last night.  kiki had to move schools...and they don't get to see each other every day anymore.  this is a sad situation for these little girls.  but when they get back's as if they never were apart.  and that's the true test of a good girlfriend.

snowflake had to put a call into santa earlier.  boy...
that man must be busy this time of year.

 it sure doesn't seem like thanksgiving is tomorrow.

maybe it's because i jumped the gun on christmas...and we are one jingle bell short of seeing santa, himself, slip down the chimney.  but...when i think back...this day brings some vivid memories to the forefront. 1997...when my dad flew across the country with me to visit the clemson campus days before thanksgiving.  how could i have known how my life was about to change?  after walking the campus and visiting with professors...we caught an early morning flight home on walk into my parent's house filled with the smell of a roasting turkey and celery with pimento cheese set out as a welcome home appetizer.  i rambled on that day about how much i loved the campus and how i felt like it would be my home for a while.

and then last year...on the very day before thanksgiving...our whole family drove to the woodlands to visit with my old friends from high school.  as we sat on the balcony of dea's house...chatting about memories and life and watching our kids play in the backyard...i watched my girl bravely attempt the monkey bars, where her hands slipped and she fell hard to the hard earth...breaking her left arm.

it's funny how fast the years spin...

and important memories become just that...


memories from a past that seem like just yesterday.


tomorrow we drive to salado...where the "jamar" side of the family will gather...for the first time in countless years.  we used to gather in woodville every thanksgiving...where i would chase after my older, "boy" cousins and try like everything to get them to notice me.  i was too young to follow them into the woods...or sleep at the cabin across the lake without any adults...or listen to blaring guns and roses music...but boy did i want to.

this year...after not seeing them for a good number of years...i think i'll be able to keep up with them.

and for that...

i'm excited.

happy thanksgiving, friends.

it's a good holiday...

and should be celebrated as such.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


chad's mom has been here from iowa all week.  she's not one for pictures, that one.  and although life could not stop, unfortunately, when she got here...we did have 2 different mornings that we just huddled in the living room, lit only by the sweet sun streaming in through the windows and the twinkly lights on the fireplace mantle.  we sipped hot chocolate and ate coffee cake and watched recorded hallmark christmas movies.  and for a second had slowed to a pace that i welcomed.
for one night this week, chase was the man of the hour.  we were all there for him.  and that boy played an 80's rocker like nobody's business!

yesterday morning, i proclaimed that it was outside light day.  and...just like every year...i expected a chorus of "yippees" and "this is the funnest day ever" and instead...just like every year...i got a hum-drum response of "i hate fluffing garland" and "it's not even thanksgiving."
i don't know how this continues to surprise and disappoint me every year...but i just don't get it.
when i was little (and "little" continued right up until my senior year of college)...putting the outdoor christmas lights up was my most favorite thing to do.  my freshman year of college, when i was away at TCU, i made sure that my dad and brother were going to wait for me to get home for christmas break to put the lights up.  every time we would talk on the phone, i would ask, "now...y'all are gonna wait for me, right???"  and they did.  every year, when UK and i were little, we would sit down with pencil and paper and draw "blue prints" for the plan.  and every dad would always do the same thing: the big, colored bulbs across the porch, and white twinkly lights in the bushes.  at one point...we talked him into draping the white lights down the walk way and around the yard.  but that was where he drew the line.  and it didn't matter how elaborate our blue print was or how desperately we begged...the lampoon's christmas vacation house was never gonna happen.  now i understand the whole electrical outlet limitation...but back then...magic was always possible.
i know i've probably told that story before...but that's the beauty of having your own blog.  i can tell a story as many times as i want to.  because it's my story to tell.

but times have changed.  and the magical moments of childhood have transformed over the years.  now...meticulously untangling a ball of lights and wiggling every last bulb to try to salvage a half lit strand isn't as magical as it once was.
or maybe it never was.  maybe i just had the ability to find the magic in the mundane...even way back then.

after much complaining about lights...i decided that it was time to bring out the big guns...for the first time in 18 years.
back then, my dad would let me wear his red, LL bean, flannel shirt.  i called it the christmas shirt.  and it became my light hanging uniform.  it swallowed me, of course...but it was part of the magic.  and i wore it with pride.
yesterday morning...i walked into my closet, flipped on the light, and sifted through my clothes, hanging neatly in my closet.  i have a problem giving away "memory" clothes.  i still have the outfit that i was wearing when chad proposed.  and there it hung.  right next to the first plaid polo i ever got.  i took off my t-shirt and slid the soft flannel over my shoulders...feeling the memories engulf me like the shirt did.  i buttoned each button and thought, "this is exactly what the doctor ordered.  the kids need to know about my uniform."
i walked out and they just sort of looked at me like..."what the heck are you wearing..."
but it didn't take long for the story to start spilling out like all good stories do.
and they listened.

they still didn't leave their video games for too long...

but they appreciated how important this was to me.

and the magic was lit once again.

let it be said that the deer has always been my very favorite animal.  in a small way...i like that you can find them now.  on clothes, on pillows...even on welcome mats. takes a little bit of the originality away.  if you know what i mean.

today, the elves arrived.

they were waiting for the kids when we got home from lunch and a target run...where we didn't get out of there without breaking not one...but TWO christmas ornaments and leaving one american girl doll in the wrapping paper and bow isle.  (thank goodness there are honest people left in this world and she was safely turned into customer service.)

we had some happy kids on return.  two of them even cried real tears of joy at the sight of those long, lost friends from the north pole.
and let the wrapping commence.  this little idea was found on, none other than, pinterest.  i'm convinced it's gonna take wrapping to a cosmic level of enjoyment.

it's a magical time, folks.  a magical time, indeed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

looking up

annslee and i finally went back to the doctor two days ago.  she had a nasty ear infection and i had developed a wicked sinus infection.  so...$60 in office visit co-pays and $40 in prescriptions and 2 days later...we are finally starting to feel better.
there is nothing like being sick to make you grateful for health.  i'm over complaining about this never-ending virus...but seriously.
in other news...
in 1 hour and 26 minutes...i am ordering tickets for the united states women's national team soccer match against china that is going to be played in the dynamo's stadium in december.  i never, ever, ever thought that i would get to see them play.  but...lo and they come.  and here i go.
thank God i saved some birthday money for this thing...or i might just be takin' it to the streets.
even though i was feeling lousy this weekend, the decorations came out.

we all needed a little boost around here...and i knew just what would bring it on.

and you can always count on chase to make sure that individuals like kermit pay tribute to the Christ child.  every time i pass by the nativity...there is some new character making his pilgrimage to bethlehem on a steer...or a donkey...or a camel.
or on a shepherd's back.

it never fails to make me smile.

we were all treated to a puppet show...thanks to the styling of chase and aiden.

i suppose the weekend was about tapping into our creative talents...because aiden also wrote and illustrated a short story.  it's about a turkey named steakie.
and trust me when i say...that if you ever get a chance to read this should do it.  and count your blessings.

and finally, the wise men made a trip across the living room/africa accompanied by the night boats to cairo.  thank you to just dance 3 for making this little ditty famous to kids everywhere.  this is a song i could do without being on i pod repeat.  but it's there.  and i'm pretty sure to stay.

here's hoping to continually feeling better.
the, not one...but TWO holiday lunches that i am having at the school today.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

sigh. that's really all i got.

my little family is riding this virus out.  slowly but surely.
as one of us become vertical a little more, another goes down.
this morning it was annslee.
she woke up at 5 am with 103.7.

when you have been stuck in the house for as long as i are forced to tend to things that you normally feel great about ignoring because they can be easily replaced by an impromptu trip to target.  things like organizing the junk drawer.
annslee sticks close to me all the time.  but i puttered around the kitchen, i noticed her a little closer than usual.  she would stand right against my leg and lean her head to rest right above my knee.  i would move to another location and she would stay close by...resuming her spot as soon as i stood still.  she did this for a good 5-10 minutes as i organized the heck out of the drawer.  i would look down at her and ask her, "are you helping me?" or "do you want some water?" or "do we need to take your temperature again?"  she would usually just look at me with those sad, sick eyes and then put her head back in position.  i finally decided that the drawer could wait.  i left it wide open...stuff piled all over the counters...and bent down and picked her up.

and when i did...i hope i never forget the feeling of her tiny body melting into mine.  as if to say, "thank you.  thank you for picking me up.  i need you to hold me tight and hum to me and dance slowly to the slow christmas melody playing in the background.  i need you so that i can go to sleep.  thank you for stopping.  i would have waited longer...but thank you for not making me."

and with that...she was asleep.

her slow, congested breath sing songed in rhythm with the music and the slow rock of the chair.

i vowed to never make her wait longer than need be again.
i layed her in my bed and went back to my drawer.
let me just say...there is absolutely no need for us to buy a tube of chapstick for at least 3 years.  the chapstick had apparently called a convention in the junk drawer.

i wish i had taken a before picture.  but...this is the after.  not the greatest...but it will do.


and all of this came out of that tiny drawer.  i can't be positive...but i think stuff was breeding in there.

usually i christmatize in one, big swoop.  but this's been a gradual process...crescendoing this weekend with the stockings and twinkly lit garland...then the outdoor lights...and then the tree as the grand finale.  usually we get it right after thanksgiving...because we get a live one.  but this year...i may try to talk chad into doing it thanksgiving week.  oh...he'll be thrilled.  make no mistake.  that man is one santa hat and reindeer cup full of eggnog short of clark griswold.   he loves the sap especially.  saps great.
"little full....
lotta sap."
he can't stand that i'm already playing christmas music.  i ask you...who doesn't love christmas music??  the more the better.  that's my philosophy.

when one doesn't get out is forced to do things like "bird watch" just to get out of the house.
this is the second day we have seen this thing on our street.

when i get too close...he flies down a few driveways.

colton said, "be the crane."

and then...the same day...i spotted this thing in our backyard.
apparently...we have some sort of komodo dragon living in our back yard producing babies...
because this ain't no normal lizard.

you gotta catch those moments when brothers are actually helping each other.

tonight, aiden set up...

aiden's art shop.  again.

i have to be very careful with my knee jerk response to these sorts of things.  this is right up there with "forts" out of blankets.  those things are great fun for the kid but end up making a lot more work for me.  so...when she announced, "everyone's invited!!!" i took a deep breath and tried not to have the first words out of my mouth be, "now know you're going to have to clean all of this up, don't you?"

tonight...i did better than usual and even asked for a ticket to get in.

we created art for a good 45 minutes in aiden's art shop.  i breathed in a satisfied breath and thought to myself...
"you did great.  not one mention of cleaning up this mess.  you colored with the best of em.  you only thought about the dishes waiting for you once.  ok...maybe twice.  you might as well go ahead and pin a sparkly star in your mama crown."

after we were done...i explained that we couldn't leave it out because trout could eat the crayons.  then i went to bathe annslee and take a bath myself.  this is what i came out to on my pillow.
20 sentences of
"i will not do art...i will not do art...i will not do art...
all because of YOU."
all because i made the girl clean up her shop.  i was in the middle of the room.  i don't feel like i was being unreasonable here. 
and at that...
i heard the sound of my sparkly star pop right out of my mama crown and hit the floor.

on a happier note...from a healthier time...

step aside barbie.

letting her dress herself really takes every ounce of patience and restraint that i can muster up.
why i love christmas music:
lyric example #1:
"faithful friends who are dear to us...gather near to us...once more."
tis the season.