Monthly Archives: December 2013

We Recommend

One of the things that my mom has been experiencing lately is chronic boredom. I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I don’t know what else to call it. She can’t do a lot of the things that she used to do, and sometimes the days are long. Evenings are especially hard. While TV and movies were never really a part of her life, they seem to be a welcome distraction now, and they help give a focal point to conversation. Talking about something silly that Opie did is easier for Mom than a lot of things. My sister has been watching a lot of Andy Griffith with her.

Andy Griffith will run out eventually. While Mom might not remember the beginning episodes, my sister will, and she’s looking for other options. Preferably something that can be streamed online. Nothing too complicated. Nothing upsetting or dark.

It can be a little hard to tell what will work. The Odd Couple was a no-go. Classic movies are usually pretty safe, though. Tonight, she looked to see if To Kill a Mockingbird was on Netflix, because you just can’t go wrong with Gregory Peck.



It’s not. Which is a shame. But Netflix recommended the following alternatives instead:

Breaking Bad
The Walking Dead
The Hunger Games

Um, dudes? You’re usually pretty good, but you might want to take a look at the recommendation algorithm on that one. Wow.

Seriously though, if you have any suggestions for appropriate shows, please leave them in the comments. We’d be most grateful.

Holiday Adventures

We had some. For several years now, my immediate family has been meeting at Niagara Falls for our family Christmas. It works out really well – the Canadian branch has a shorter drive but has to deal with a border crossing, and the Ohio branch gets to skip the border but drives a little bit longer. The hotel where we stay lets us use a large common room for our family party, and everybody enjoys the saltwater pool.

Except after they have to get out, because then they’re cold. COLD, MAMA, I’M COLD!!!!


I wrapped him up in, I think, all the towels in the room, and he warmed up enough to give me the stink eye for taking his picture.

The real adventure was trying to get any sleep with two insane boys in the room. There were double beds, so the plan was for Paul and I each to take a boy. This seems to work for other people.

Levi started the night out with me. He’s been yelling in his sleep every night around 10:45 or 11:00 – if I’m up I’m usually out in the living room and can hear him. He yells for a few minutes (it’s pretty awful; it sounds like he’s being beaten) and then lies down again quietly. It doesn’t seem to help to go in and talk to him – he doesn’t even really know I’m there – so I just let him go. However. It’s slightly more stressful to be awakened by someone yelling in your ear, and then to think about how the people on the other side of the wall must be thinking I’m beating my children in their beds. But he settled down eventually.

Then he fell out of bed, and there was a lot of confused crying. Then Elias fell out of the other bed, and when he calmed down he wanted to sleep with Mama, so he crawled in between me and Levi. Then Levi hit him. Then Elias cried some more. It’s fuzzy because I was really very very sleepy, but I think this was eventually resolved by Elias burrowing into the top half of my body and Levi latching on to my leg.

I had kind of forgotten how much I don’t like sleeping in hotel rooms with the kids. Or not sleeping.

But we all finally drifted off more or less peacefully, until around 3:00 in the morning when Elias woke me up whining in my ear.

Oh, the whining this child can do. He is a champion. More than once, I have locked the bedroom door and gone way back into the bathroom where I couldn’t hear him anymore, just to get away from the whining. I will not give him what he wants, and he will not stop whining, and I … have to go away. In reflective moments, I find his tenacity sort of amazing, but mostly I just want to cover my ears and go rock in a corner somewhere.

So I was less than pleased to be awakened by a whine in the wee hours. I may have said, “WHAT?!?” in a less-than-friendly fashion.

“Mama,” he said, “I want to go out dere where Beanie is.”

Beanie was no longer in my bed, so he clearly had crawled in with Paul at some point. I was pleased at the prospect of having the bed to myself, so I said, “Yes. Go. Please.”

“NOOOOOO!!!!” my tormentor wailed, “He’s out DERE!” And he pointed at the door of the hotel room.

“No he is not!” I countered. Because DUH.

“YES, Mama! He’s out dere. I want to go out where Beanie is!” And he took my hand and pulled. And so I got up and went over to the door, just so he would stop already.

And I opened the door, and there was Levi, sleeping soundly on the floor in front of the door to our room. I nearly had a heart attack.

I ran into the hall and grabbed him up and ran back into the room and put him down on Paul’s bed and climbed back in with Elias and hugged him really hard and told him what a good boy he is. Oh, and I latched that bar latch thingie on the door. And then Elias drifted back to sleep while I laid there and sweated, thinking about all of the horrible things that could have happened to a sleepwalking five-year-old boy in a strange hotel in the middle of the night.

Levi has no memory of this adventure, and Elias hasn’t mentioned it, besides collecting accolades from both parents in the morning. I told Paul about it several hours after it happened, because he slept through the whole thing. I guess it’s good one of us is a terrible sleeper.

Once the adrenaline rush subsided, several things occurred to me:

  • Levi was wearing gray/black camo sleeper pajamas and lying on a dark patterned carpet. It’s not like I couldn’t see him or anything, but he did nearly blend in.
  • I rushed out into the hall wearing only a tank top and underpants. I hope no one saw me.
  • I am really, really glad that door didn’t click shut behind me.

So. Never a dull moment, but much to be thankful for. And I don’t think I’ll probably forget to latch the door again. Let’s hope he’s done sleepwalking by the time he’s tall enough to undo the latch. Or maybe we’ll just stay home.

Merry Christmas!


Wrapping paper is all over the floor, breakfast is in the oven, Papa has read about the journey to Bethlehem, and Mama has been crowned with a glo-stick coronet. It must be Christmas.

Hope yours is merry!

Advent, Day 19

We are 19 days into Advent and still mostly on track. We’ve missed some days, but always made them up the next day, or the next. The boys don’t seem to mind.

Less than a week from Christmas, I’m sticking to the KISS principle with dedication, and tonight we had hot chocolate with marshmallows.

I’m not sure which Elias liked more, the (not very) hot chocolate, or the goofy straw I found for him to use.


Doesn’t he look delightfully nerdy?

A Little Holiday Present For You

This is primarily directed at the women out there, because we are notorious for feeling like we’re failing all the time, or at least not doing as well as the people who are posting on Pinterest.

Especially in this season, when there’s so much extra work to be done and presents to wrap and cookies to bake and school parties to help with. (I got an e-mail yesterday that there will indoor snow at Levi’s class party tomorrow. Indoor snow?!? There is a reason I am not the room mother. Pretty sure it’s because I am the actual Grinch. But I don’t have to clean up the snow so I don’t care. Bwwwahahahaha.)

I find myself being intimidated by the things everyone else is doing (see also: room mother who creates indoor snow), and assuming that their entire lives look as pretty as their Christmas cards. I’m told I am not the only person that does this, and I think it causes a lot of unnecessary angst. So this is my little gift to you during this holiday season: the feeling that you are definitely ahead of someone, on something.

This is how long it’s been since I cleaned my stovetop.


You’re welcome.

The Not-Whining Grimace

I’ve said it before, but it’s true: It’s hard to be three. There are lots of things you can’t do. Some because your mama won’t let you. Some because your fine motor skills and problem solving abilities aren’t quite fully developed. Either way, it’s very frustrating.

The best solution (like, obviously) is to whine until the laws of physics change or your mother loses her mind, whichever comes first.

Elias has run into a problem with this plan. For reasons he cannot comprehend, whining lands him either in an early nap or a time out. I prefer and require (almost always; nobody’s perfect) that requests be pleasant and surrounded by words like “please” and “thank you.” (Somebody said in a quote I cannot Google up right now that good manners are grease in the engine of society, and I agree.)

So, very slowly, our little brown bear is learning to control his shrieking and ask for things using polite words. And he’s somehow gotten it in to his head that he should be smiling when he does so. But often he can’t quite muster up a real one. So he does this, and speaks through his teeth.




Cracks me up. And hey … he’s not whining!

Cookie Monsters

Actually, they weren’t monsters at all. It all went much better than I anticipated.


One of the things I have to keep reminding myself about preschoolers is that their attention spans are, to be wildly generous, somewhat limited. A little bit of something is often enough, especially if it requires concentration. So they each cut out a couple of cookies and were happy to run off and do something else.


As far as decorating goes, both boys belong to the dump-everything-on-it-and-eat school, which makes fairly quick work of things.


Elias gave up on the process entirely and ate icing off the knife while pouring sprinkles straight from the shaker into his mouth.



I did the rest myself later (COF cronies will recognize the influence of Susan the Cookie Guru).



My biggest surprise with this recipe is that I actually want to do this again. I have had travails with cutouts, my friends. At one point years ago, I tried to produce a bunch of pumpkin cutouts for a church event. Tears were involved, and it’s possible that I threw things. I could not get that blasted dough (advertised as fail-proof – HA!) to work, and I ended up calling around to local bakeries to find one with a pumpkin pattern. My defeat was so complete that I left them in the bakery box when I took them to church and didn’t even try to pretend that I’d made them. And I told the event coordinator that I would bake her anything else that she wanted, anytime, but if she asked me for cutouts in the future, EVER, I would probably have to change churches.

(Kim, I am formally rescinding that statement. You’re no longer corralling volunteers, so I’m sure you don’t care. Just putting it out there.)

But I didn’t want to be the Grinchy mom who refuses to do cookies, so I decided to try again. I consulted Pinterest and Google, and found a recipe advertised as soft, delicious, and easy-to-work-with. Frankly, I was just hoping for the last bit to be true.

Unbelievably, they were delightful to work with, very soft, and pretty good to eat. Seriously. The only time there were any issues with the dough was when we* used a couple of cookie cutters that were super-fiddly, and we decided those are out of the rotation. Nobody really needs the reindeer antlers to be lifelike. At least nobody in this house. I did use a rolling pin that measures thickness for you, so they are all exactly even. I think that probably helps.

Recipe here, if you want it. I did change up the icing and used a family recipe instead. Mmmmm. Butter. You just can’t go wrong if there’s enough butter involved.


*My friend Jenn came over for a Cookie Extravaganza.