Thursday, December 29, 2011

Buddy and Bug

Dear Blogger,

Things are not really working out for us.  It's not me.  It's you.  My readers can't comment on my posts.  I can't even comment on my posts!  Also, you are kind of slow... 

A friend of mine introduced me to a blog site called WordPress.  I can be found at Buddy and Bug.

Affectionately Yours,


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas The Night Before Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and everyone you meet is near to burst because tomorrow is their favorite day of the year! 

Not I.

Though I do love Christmas, for me, the best day is today!  Christmas Eve.  My dear Reader, you know that I love to set a stage and there is none other set like there will be tonight!

I have spent a little over a month getting my props just so.  Every detail is thought out.  It starts with the Christmas decorations and is even in the careful consideration of the wrapping paper and ribbons.  I feel the wrapped gifts are just as much apart of the decor as the ornaments on the tree.  Every year I choose a color scheme and stick to it.  This year I went with silver and green simply because I had scads of silver and green ribbon left over from a Homecoming party Caren and I decorated for.

Then there are the advents.  We have several.  One is a large wooden box fixed with 25 doors.  Behind each door is either a piece of candy or a piece of paper with instructions for getting in the Christmas spirit, i.e. call your uncle, watch a Christmas special, kiss under the mistletoe, etc.  Upon our move to Colorado we began another type of advent with our chalk board wall.  On it I draw a full sized Christmas tree and each day one of the kids draws an ornament on it.  This has been nice because the child who does not open a door on the other advent gets to draw the new ornament.  Tomorrow's child gets to draw the star at the top of our chalk tree!  Gabriel has already confessed to me BIG plans for this year's sketch.  And finally we have an advent that is just for the week before Christmas.  It was a gift given to us when Drew was just a babe, called What God Wants For Christmas.

I have found this to be a wonderful tool for both counting down to the big day but also preparing my young boys' hearts for what our family is really celebrating.  This advent is a nativity.  Each day a short poem is read based on the events told in Luke 2:1-20.  Inside the advent are 7 boxes.  After a poem is read, the boys get to open one of the seven gift boxes.  They are numbered so they can be opened in order.  Each box contains a character of the nativity.  Finally on the seventh day we get to open the box to see what God wants for Christmas and it's....I can't tell you!  I would hate to ruin the surprise in case you get one of these yourselves!  I cry every year.  I actually arrange it so that the seventh box is opened on Christmas Eve so that my kids can go to bed with the beautiful imagery the advent provides to ponder in their hearts.

The night before Christmas....truly the most magical of all nights!  Just before bed we cram the whole family onto the couch poised before a roaring fire.  I will lead a few Christmas lullabies that are favorites of the boys followed by someone reading Twas The Night Before Christmas (either Aaron or a special guest.)  Aaron then reads Luke 2:1-20 to the boys and we wrap up the bed time stories with our What God Wants For Christmas Advent.  Then with special care, the boys prepare a plate of Santa's favorite cookies (Sombreros/peanut butter cookies with a Hershey kiss in the middle) and a cup of eggnog.  Both are lovingly placed on the fire place hearth where they wait for our dear Santa.

We tuck the boys in with a special Christmas Eve prayer and then Aaron and I retire to the basement to work on a jigsaw puzzle or to watch a Christmas special or both.  We have a glass or two of eggnog ourselves (with plenty of nog) and wait until the boys are sound asleep.  When we see that the sugar plumbs are dancing, we pull out the Santa Gifts.  They are specially labeled from the North Pole and have a unique ribbon tied about them.  The stockings get stuffed.  The cookies are eaten and typically something near the fireplace is disturbed as proof that Santa had made an entrance.

And then I in my kerchief and Aaron in his cap will finally settle down for a long winters nap....(except that the anticipation is too delicious!!!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nearing Full On Mountain Woman Status

Aaron and I saw a mountain lion!  (I think the experience increased my Mountain Woman status a few notches.)  The family was on our way home from a band concert when the gorgeous creature passed in front of our car.  It was fast but Aaron and I had an unobstructed view of it.  They are quite large...  On it's hind legs, Aaron guessed it would stand at 7 feet.  I feel like that's a bit of an exaggeration but when I talked to other Mountain Folk they said it was not an unreasonable assessment.

I have hoped to see a mountain lion and a bear.  I hoped to see both while driving or through the window of my house.   Check and check.  I was most happy to see the lion while in the car.  Seeing that in my yard would not have been so pleasant...  Though it was miles from my home, it has unnerved me a bit.

I've always known they were out there and have heard of sightings in the hood but to see one yourself and in action...  My nerves are a tad shaken. 

That night when we got home, I found myself a little creeped out about getting out of the car and walking up the drive into the NIGHT!  Eek!  They could be out there watching us!  On another evening I found that I had left my phone in the car.  Also, the car was parked in the half way point in the driveway.... 

"Babe, I left my phone in the car."


"Well...would you mind getting it for me?"

*Quizzical look*

"It's dark."

No response.

"The mountain lion has me a little spooked...."

"Go get your phone."

I grabbed a flashlight and my car keys.  As I walked down the driveway I clicked the lock on my remote entry keys so the lights would flash on and off.  Once to my car I dove in and quickly retrieved my phone.  The heebie jeebies took hold of me as I slammed the car door shut and...

"Eeeeeeeyaah!"  I screamed as I ran for the front door.

See.  Mountain Woman status: up.

Sort of.

The Drew Bug has been sick this weekend and as I type I am starting to feel the evil booger creep over me.  NoooOooOooOOoOoo!  Poor little Bug threw up twice.  If I'm lucky I'll get that part too.  Little pre-holiday weight loss...  On second thought: I don't really have the strength for it.  Beginning to find even typing exhausting...


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mediocre: The New Awesome

This week is almost over and I have never looked forward to Christmas break more.  I have been pumpin' and blowin' since 6 a.m. Monday.  I have hardly been in my house, which would make one assume that means it can't get messier but that is a wrong assumption (as most assumptions are).  My house is in a Red Alert Disaster!  Laundry and dishes have piled to the ceiling as have all the crud we like to dump on the island in the kitchen.  Now it's like...a volcanic island. 

This week I have shopped, worked out, seen the nutritionist, waxed my eyebrows, volunteered at the school 3 times, planned parties, baked, baked, baked, (for a cookie exchange) made tamales, shopped, did the post office thing, wrapped presents and have forgotten lunch at least twice.

I sent the following e-mail out Tuesday night (after a band concert and after staying up to frost the cookies for the cookie exchange):

My Dear Ladies of the Kitchen,

I have been going non-stop today trying to get everything ready for school events, baking day, and Christmas (like all of you, I'm sure.) I walked into the laundry room today when I needed the restroom.... I think the Starbucks barista did not comply with my order for DECAF but...I digress.

The rest of the week is looking to be just as crazy, including tomorrow. Drew's eco-fair is tomorrow (selling mini donuts) and I have been wrestling all day with how to do eco-fair and make tamales. It's tough, really, trying to choose between your child and tamales.... His fair starts at 9:30 and ends at 11:30. I've decided I can indeed do both, though I will have to leave both my child and tamales hanging a tad. Drew and I can get up early tomorrow; he to make his mini donut batter and I to make the masa for the tamales. (I know, Caren. Sounds like how you operate every day but though I dream of it, I am not an actual superhero.)

I have stopped the tornado briefly to send you this note of instruction:

I will drop the husks, masa, ect. at Caren's. You will want to start by soaking the husks in warm water. This is to both soften them and clean them. I am unfamiliar with the brand of husks I bought so....i have no idea how they will be. Sometimes they have dead bugs and corn silk in them, so get that all off.

Page 10 of the Historic Cookery cook book will give you instruction for the carne con chili. Do the one for Red Chili. I do not use a chili sauce but powder and I don't add any stock or tomatoes unless the meat mixture seems really dry.

Page 7 has the masa instructions but I should be back before you run out of the first batch I make.

After the carne con chili is made and the husks are clean, dry them. You may need to trim the husks, mainly the pointy end off. Spread the masa (I use the back of a spoon) on the smoothest side of the husk. You will see that one side is much more bumpy then the other. Should take about 2-3 T of masa. Then add a heaping T (or 2 depending on the size of the husks) into the masa. Fold the sides together and then the bottom up. Clear as mud?

I should be there by 11:15.

I'm sorry to do it this way and leave you in a lurch but...about 7 years ago I had this kid... Also, I just read the recipe and I know you all are much better at following a recipe then I am!

144 tamales later...

Just before bed last night my oldest informed me that he would need a treat for band the next morning because they were going to have a party.  Seriously.  Thanks for the heads up.  I figured I would just send the cookies I got at the exchange.

I woke up this morning still feeling exhausted.  Not a good sign.  I have not been this tired since I was pregnant!  Then I remembered it was Polar Express Day for Drew's class and I was supposed to bring hot cocoa and a treat. 

I can use the cookie exchange cookies,  I thought.  Wait.  No I can't.  I'm using them for Gabe's party.

I was also bummed because I wanted to save those cookies for my family.  Then I remembered my mom telling me a real easy holiday treat.  I planned on using it for Gabe's class party but figured I could make them now for both the band and Polar Express and just buy more ingredients when I was out running errands today.  The treat (and I've been so stinkin' busy I did not even take a picture) are made with chocolate donuts, like hostess brand.  You stick a red candy (m&m) in the hole and then broken mini pretzels in top for antlers and wa-la!  Rudolph Donuts!  Oh, and dot on some eyes with icing.  My sons did the m&m noses and pretzel antlers and I did the eyes.  Thank you MOM!!!

As I said before, I was pumpin' and blowin' and a song was running through my head:

A sweet friend had posted this on her Facebook profile and it has become my anthem the past two days.  (Not to mention the killer dance moves this chick has.  I can totally work that!)  "I'm runnin' and I won't touch down!  Oh no!  I've got to keep on movin'!

While at the school this a.m. I ran into Gabe's teacher.  I'm his room mom and am in charge of the Christmas party.

"Hey...sorry I haven't decorated or anything, " I told him.

"Oh, I'm not worried about that.  Gabriel said it's going to be an awesome party!"


I have sent out e-mails to the parents and it seems like everything is going to come together.  Several are pitching in by bringing snacks, paper goods, etc. 

"Does anyone have party ideas?  I would like to not do musical chairs.  A child in Gabriel's second grade class threw up during musical chairs and I will forever associate it with that.  But that's just me..."

A mom suggested a game where the kids wrap boxes while wearing gloves.  (Oh my gosh!  I'm supposed to bring gloves.  Note to self....)

Still I would like to start the party like this:

"Hi kids....I'm Mrs. McDowell...I heard a rumor that this is going to be an awesome party!  If you heard that rumor I would like for you to just take a minute to lower your expectations a bit, mmkay?  Once you are ready for a mediocre party then I think we will be all set for a good time!"
One more day and then I can spend the next 3 weeks relaxing with my kids...  (Tell me you get the irony of that.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Out Of The Mouth's of Babes

My kids make me absolutely batty but they also keep Aaron and I in stitches all the time!  Here are some recent funnies:

Drew wrote a commercial for his economics fair project at school where he is selling mini-donuts:

Are you tired of your plain donuts being too big for your children and they start feeling sick?  Are they too crumbly?  Well not any more!  Come on down to Drew's Mini Holes!  When you buy mini donuts it's small enough for your children, are not crumbly, and your children will not feel sick any more!  So come on down to Drew's Mini Holes!

Here is a paper Gabriel wrote on whether or not you would like to have a sibling. I was so touched that he chose that it was better to have a sibling then to not....:

I would like having a big brother or sister and I like having a younger brother or sister too.  I would like to explain why.  First, with brothers and sisters you have someone to annoy, you can pick on them too.  But only when there's nothing else to do.  Next, it's kind of better if you have one that's younger than you because they get in trouble more often so you sometimes seem like an obedient kid.  You can play with them if you can't got to a super cool marvelous friend's house.  When you are grounded from TV and anything else with a screen, you can start playing with them.  They can be fun or boring.  You find out.  Then at dinner time your brother or sister might make a bigger mess than your mess, making people think that you're cleaner by comparison.  It is the same when they have a messier room then you.  I am sure that at least one or more than one of these things I say are true.  I know because I have a little brother.  Finally, I can end this paragraph!  (I was running out of sentences.)  Do you think brothers and sisters are awesome?

I like how he will only play with his brother as a last resort...

Conversation overheard in the car:

Drew: Brother, when I grow up, if I decide to have a seafood restaurant, I'm going to name it The Salty Batoon.

Gabriel: What's a batoon?

Drew:  I don't know.  I heard it on Star Wars. "General Kreel, assemble the batoon!"

Gabriel: Ha ha!  You mean PLAtoon.

Drew:  Oh well.  I think Salty Batoon sounds better.

Conversation I had with Gabriel who is considering auditioning for a role in Camelot:

Me:  Gabriel, I was looking at the description for the role and it's a little boy who wants to be a Knight of the Round Table.

Gabriel:  Cool.

Me:  It is cool!  I think it sounds like a perfect role for you.  I bet that if you lived in the Renaissance times you would have wanted to be a knight.

Gabriel:  Well...I think I would've been interested but...and no offense...I would've been more interested in being a samurai.

Me:  Yes, but you'd have to be Japanese.

Gabriel: I think they would make an exception for me.

Me: Indeed.

Incident at Gabe's band concert last night:

Drew was so stinkin' excited to hear Gabriel play.  Once we got there he became more excited as he saw friends from school filing in.

"OH!  Hey!  Madeline!  Over here!  It's me, Drew!"  he shouted while waving his hands around.  "My big brother is going to perform tonight!  He plays the trumpet!  What?  What?  I can't hear you!  Hey Lily!  It's me Drew!  My brother is playing the trumpet tonight!  You're what?  What?  You're too far away!  Oh my gosh!  Jack!  Hey Jack!..." 

You get the picture.

The lady in front of us turned to Drew and asked if he'd ever seen Goonies before.


"You should see it.  You remind me of one of the characters in that movie!"


In the car after the concert (p.s.  Gabe was so proud of his performance he pumped his trumpet in the air in the final applause):

Drew: Brother, you were awesome.

Gabriel: Thanks.

Aaron:  What is that smell?

Me:  I thought it was you.

Aaron:  I thought it was you!

Drew: *giggle, giggle, giggle*  It was me!  I farted!  *peals of laughter*  And I farted in the concert too! *cracking up*  I farted lots of times!

The whole family was in tears with laughter.  Aaron rolled down the window.

Drew:  Dad!  It's freezing!  Put the window up!

Gabriel: Would you rather face the cold or Drew's farts?

Aaron and I:  The cold!

And finally, while watching a bit of snow start to fall this morning:

Drew:  This looks like the works of Jack Frost!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Drake's Party Part 2

This morning Drew did so good getting ready.  He used a new chart that I had made him to help him stay on task.  He made himself eggs for breakfast.  Aaron had apparently emptied the trash this morning.  He removed the trash bag from the can and placed the full bag in the corner of the kitchen.  Why he can't get it down to the garage is beyond me.  He also failed to re-line the can.  Drew tossed every broken shell into the can assuming it was lined.

(First mess of the day for me to clean up.)

On the way to school we saw 6 turkey's crossing, 4 elk a grazing, one goat standing on his hind legs, and a partridge in a pear tree.  OK, not the partridge or the pear tree.  Now THAT would've been something!

When I got home I noticed that Drake was not in the yard.  This usually means that he got cold and let himself into the house.  Sure enough, when I walked in Drake greeted me.  He was ashamed for the breaking and entering, nub tail tucked, ears and head down.

" know better!  It's your special day though, so you can stay in with mom!"

I headed up the stairs and noted this at the top of the landing:

"Drakers!  Bad dog!  This is Gabriel's Halloween candy!  Oh...and it's chocolate..."

And then I saw this:

"DRAKE!  Outside!  Now!"

I opened the door and he ran right out.  I don't know who I was more aggravated with, the dog for getting into the trash, my husband for leaving it out, or me for not taking it down myself on my way out the door.

I assessed the rest of the house:

The empty ziploc was full of Caren's home made Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti that I had planned on mailing to my Grandma.  There was also a partial pound cake that is now missing.  The blanket is from my couch that he is NOT supposed to get on and was either used to try and clean up his mess or to cover it up.  Miraculously, the gingerbread house was untouched.

Aaron IM'd me to see how the morning went.  After I told him EXACTLY how my morning went I added:

"If you are ever wondering why the house never seems to get better, why the same messes are in the same places when you get home, it's because of days like this."


One year ago today the boys and I were at a birthday party while Aaron drove out to the Boulder Humane Society to adopt Drake.  Never in my life have I felt for a dog like I do this one.  I don't know if it's because he is so darn big or because he is such a lover but this dog has completely won my heart!

He is a rascal and has given me loads of trouble.  I don't know how many dog beds he's eaten, cats he's threatened, deer he's chased, or children he's made cry but the hearts he's invaded far out weigh his naughtiness.  We hired him a personal trainer, Christine, who has worked wonders with him and has become a friend to our family as well.

Not everyone is as fond of Drake as we are.  Poor Sinclaire felt betrayed enough to move out.  She seems to be as happy with her new family as Drake is with his!

To celebrate one year with Drake the kids and I threw him a Gotchya Day Party. 

Drake with his party hat on
 It was to be a small affair but grew into a full blown bash!  Several of Drake's friends (both human and canine) came out to celebrate.  His trainer, Christine, came with her three dogs and Caren and her girls came with The Rowdies.  There were 6 dogs in all!  Our sweet friends Melissa and her kids came out as well but Mel said her dogs were too old for parties.  Poor pups. ;)

Drew and I made cupcakes for the dogs.  We used the meat log that we buy for Drake in the refrigerator of the pet aisle.  They were frosted with peanut butter and had a Pupperoni dog treat in the middle as a candle.  We also got Frosty Paws dog ice cream!  To serve these to the pack with out causing a huge dog fight, we served each dog one at a time in the house.  It went very well! 

Leave it...
 Drake got fun dog gifts from his guests and we sent them home with a little chew toy for a party favor as well.  The humans got cake too, thanks to Aaron's leftover birthday cake! 

It was such a fun day!  My boys are already talking about next year's Gotchya Day.  Uh-oh...  What have I started?