Friday, December 31, 2010

How Disney Saved Christmas

Lindsey wanted a wristwatch for Christmas this year, and not just any old wristwatch. She wanted one that had Rapunzel on it from Disney's movie Tangled that we had seen Thanksgiving Day. She wanted it to be digital, but her teacher told her she would be "very disappointed" if Santa brought her a digital one, because she needed practice reading the time the old-fashioned way.

I dutifully go to the Disney store website and use their tools to design the watch. I pick the watch face, the color of the band, even personalize it with her name. Each watch is custom-made for each order, depending on color and design selected.

I finish personalizing the watch, including putting Lindsey's name on it, and order it on December 13th. That should be in plenty of time, I've got two weeks until Christmas and I live in the internet age when things get delivered in 24 hours from the click of a mouse. I receive an email confirmation of the order.

By December 21st I haven't seen a shipping notification, so I check on my order. The only message is  "not shipped." So I call the customer service number to find out when they expect to ship it.

Okay, so perhaps I was a bit cynical. It's one thing to call all the staff members working in a Disney park a "cast member," but a service rep on the phone? It seems a bit much.

I finally got a live person and found out that because I had personalized it with her name, I should've ordered it by Dec 9th to guarantee Christmas delivery. Apparently there was a little disclaimer that said that once I landed on that page, but of course I didn't see it. The "cast member" was apologetic but said that it probably wouldn't make it in time, especially since I hadn't paid for express delivery...because I didn't think I needed to.

My fault for being the bad customer, I figure I'll be printing a picture of the watch off their site and putting it in a card for her. The problem is, she truly, deeply believes in Santa Claus, and this was supposed to be her gift from Santa. How do I explain this?

Do I tell her the elves didn't finish it in time? That it fell from Santa's sleigh? Or do I let the cat out of the bag that the gift was from her parents, who ordered it late from an actual company, not from the North Pole?

Then I get an email on December 23rd informing me that my order shipped, and a call from the husband who saw the credit card get charged. It shipped? Is it going to make it? No, I said sadly, I didn't pay for express shipping, it won't make it.

Then, suddenly, the unexpected on Christmas Eve.

And then the incredible:

Yes, Disney express delivered my package to me without telling me they were doing so, to ensure that the gift arrived in time. Talk about underpromise and overdeliver.

I could've hugged the FedEx guy. He looked tired and cold and probably could've used it, but instead I gave him a huge smile and said "Thank you, you have no idea what this will mean to a little girl." I think that helped brighten his day.

When a company already has an exceptional reputation and incredible customer service, how do you improve upon it? By going to infinity and beyond. Disney has redeemed itself in my eyes.

By the way, Lindsey loves her watch.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Love Your More Than Presents

Lindsey awoke at 4:20 am this morning and never really went back to sleep. I laid in her bed with her trying to snooze to be awoken every 20 minutes or so by a little one informing me of the time.

"It's 5 o'clock, Mommy. Mommy, it's 5:30. Can we get up at 6:00? Can we get up at 6:30? It's 6:15, Mommy, when is Marissa going to get up?"

Try sleeping through that.

I was able to hold her off until 6:45 when we finally woke Marissa up and everyone traipsed downstairs to rip into the gifts. Presents from grandparents, aunts and uncles, Santa and parents were opened and set aside to be played with at more length after all the gifts were opened.

We'd had several gifts under the tree for several weeks, homemade presents from Marissa and Lindsey. They consisted of drawings, poems and pictures to various family members.

But the best one had to be the one from Lindsey to her daddy.

Here's what it said:

Dear Dad,

I know that you didn't get much presents when you were little. Please don't cry when I tell you this. I don't care that you get presents. I care that you are my dad and I love you. You are the only one that I can call dad so I love you more than presents.



Perhaps her dad didn't tear up, but her mom did.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

No More Ugly Cake

Previously, I've chronicled the adventure of making ugly cake as my Christmas tradition. Well, it's not supposed to be ugly cake, it's supposed to be a sour cream coffee cake made with a brown sugar/butter/walnut filling that comes out of a bundt pan.

My mother managed to make said coffee cake for decades. Year after year, she would make several of these beauts, to be enjoyed as a family on Christmas morning while opening presents or to be given to friends and family as a Christmas present.

As for me, year after year I attempted to copy her same recipe, but with very different results, as you can see:

The 2008 ugly cake.

The 2009 ugly cake.
I can never manage to get the cake out of the bundt pan in one piece. Each year led to an interrogation from my mom: Did I use Crisco and not butter? Had I floured the pan? Did I make sure that the sides of the coffee cake pulled away from the sides before trying to extract it from the pan? It seemed that this was a delicate process that I would never master.

And then, there is this year's attempt:

Beautiful, isn't it? Fully intact with no filling sticking out of the top or the edge, making the cake stick inside the pan.

The girls were amazed. They couldn't believe their eyes. And they were slightly disappointed. After all, unless the cake crumbles out of the pan, there are no crumbs or little pinches of filling to eat. Guess they will just have to wait until Christmas morning to see if it tastes as good as it looks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Neighborly Christmas Tradition

You may remember a post from last year about this time about a neighbor of ours who has a fabulous tradition from which we benefit. She bakes gingerbread cookies for all the neighbors and personalizes them with their names.

Our girls look forward to her delivery every year, and are always so excited to eat up the delicious cookies. This year we were finally able to get a photo of all four cookies before they began nibbling on them.

She is one of the special people who make living in Minneapolis feel like living in a small town.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mom/Volunteer of the Year Award

Some months ago I signed up to volunteer in my youngest daughter's kindergarten classroom for their pajama party, which was today. I dutifully put the date on my calendar, though I didn't know the exact time.

It all went downhill from there.

First, the room rep's emails to me about the plans kept going into my spam server, so the first actual email I received from her said something like "Are you there? Are you doing this or what because I've got to find a replacement if you're not." (Only she was more polite.) I then found her initial emails in my spam filter. (Sorry for the minor heart attack, Laura.)

My directions were to show up at 10:45 with popcorn and juice boxes in hand, but with explicit instructions about the popcorn: store bought only, and if I brought a big bag that needed to be opened and divvied into popcorn bags for the kids, I needed to open it in front of staff because food that was already opened was not allowed in the school. With food safety and allergy concerns, I get it and can respect it.

I got two big bags of pre-popped popcorn, a bunch of red lunch bags (to be festive) and enough juice boxes for all. I got there early and watched the class enjoy the obstacle course in the gym for a while before getting the party started. But I couldn't prepare the individual popcorn bags yet because, well, I was supposed to open the bag in the presence of a staff member, and no one was in the classroom.

Marissa's class on the obstacle course, aka "The Jungle."
Once the class got back into the room, I opened the bag and began filling the lunch bags with popcorn.

It became evident within filling four lunch bags that I had not bought enough popcorn.

Not even close.

I ended up dumping out the four bags I had already filled and had to measure each bag about one-third full to have enough popcorn for every child.

I am so lame.

The first child who was handed a bag looked inside and said, "Mine's not full."

I said, "Yes it is," and moved on.

Oh well, I thought, at least every child has equal amounts, they'll never know how little popcorn they actually got.

"Okay everyone," says the teacher, "Let's line up to go to across the hall to watch the movie."

Because, you know, it's cool to watch movies with your friends who have brimming full bags of popcorn because the other teacher's parent volumteer brought FIVE bags of popcorn for everyone. They even had extra in the back of the room for the teachers and volunteers if they wanted.

I am incredibly lame. I can't even do this right, and it's so easy.

Some day my daughter's teacher is going to announce to the class that Marissa's mom is coming to the classroom to volunteer, and they will all groan. "Ohhh, not Marissa's mom! She's so cheap. She never brings enough stuff."

Brown bags: spilling over with popcorn. Red bags: not so much.

With this handful Marissa ate the majority of the popcorn in her bag.
So now I know: it takes about 5 bags of store-bought popcorn to feed a class of 26 kids. Good to know, in case I'm ever asked to do this again. But I suspect I won't be.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Making Memories

We decorated our mish mash tree this weekend. We got a smaller than usual tree this year, so the girls decorated the entire tree with just their ornaments. None of our "couple" ornaments from before the girls came along are hung up, though I think later on I'll dig through that box and pull out some special ones to add to it.

It was so sweet watching my young ones reminisce on their short lives to memories of the ornaments they already own.
Each girl opens their box of their own ornaments.

Marissa shows Lindsey one that's special to her.

Adding memories to the tree.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The "B" Word

Remember that post about my weekend winter walk, where things were so peaceful, still and beautiful? That was when we thought the storm had already passed, that the snow that was on the ground was all we were going to get as soon as it tapered off.

And then it began to snow. And blow. And turn downright nasty. Finally, about 3 o'clock I heard an announcer finally call our "winter storm" the "B" word: blizzard.

This was the kind of storm when you cancel your plans to go anywhere, hunker down where you're at and watch the world go by. For us, this meant watching car after car get stuck in the intersection in front of our house. I helped a couple of people get out but since I didn't care to spend my entire day outside, I mostly watched people from the window toil to release their cars from the 17+ inches of snow that was still coming down.

Steps partially shoveled.
  We shoveled out the steps, then watched them blow back in, then shoveled them out again and the next day did it once more.
Cleared, but already snowing in.
Four hours later - shovel, anyone?
We ventured out once to get ourselves a Christmas tree, then spent the rest of Saturday playing games, making cut out sugar cookies and watching Christmas specials on TV.

Abandoned car near 50th & France, where it sat overnight.
By Sunday afternoon I was ready to venture out, and took a walk to my local grocery store for a few needed supplies. The world was slowly moving, cars hesitantly getting around, people faltering their way through unshoveled sidewalks, bundled up to their eyeballs in hats and scarves.

Our patio light has its own igloo. 
School was called off Monday due to the heavy snow and deepfreeze temps (-7 when we awoke this morning), so I got to spend Day 3 indoors with the girls once again. Apparently I missed one heckuva commute, too, with the City of St. Paul literally coming to a standstill in the evening.

I hear we're expecting more snow on Wednesday. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Can I have another snow day?

P.S. Just heard that Minneapolis public schools are closed again tomorrow. I think Wayne can take this one...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Winter's Morning

A winter storm began overnight last night. We went to bed to cloudy skies and awoke to 12 inches of powdery white snow which was still coming down. It was so deep Dax refused to go outside - I placed him on the step and he stood there shivering with snow up to his withers. I had to shovel the step right away before the dog had an accident in the house. While I was out, I brought my camera and took a little walk.

The snow was still coming down, as you can tell by the first photo I tried to take, when I forgot to take the flash off.

There is something about the hushed stillness of a wintry morning that is so peaceful. No one was out yet, the plows were not yet on the roads. My own footsteps were the first ones in the snow. The whole world was colored blue, from the snow to the sky. I enjoyed the peace and quiet, and then I turned back to a house waking up, with lights turning on window by window.

What a way to start a beautiful December weekend.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Winter Wonderland

A Most Unusual Christmas Gift

Lately, when I've asked my husband for some Christmas ideas, I've gotten a cryptic "Oh, I don't want anything, I'm taking care of myself" response. Hmmm...not the response I'm expecting.

And on Friday, during a snowstorm which took me 2 hours to drive home through, he went out and got his Christmas gift.

He got a tattoo.

He knows I'm not a big fan. But, it's his body and his choice.

He chose a design to commemorate his passion and success at marathon running. Running has truly transformed his life, all for the better. He is in incredible shape, has made new friends and has achieved challenging goals that other runners never attain during their peak running years. Not bad for someone who took it up just a couple of years ago.

Some time ago he found a tattoo design off of a website (damn that interweb) and took it to a local tattoo artist, who tweaked it to fit his body. He chose this particular tattoo artist because he'd read good reviews of her work and wasn't looking for a heavy-metal experience (curse that Yelp).

And on Friday, upon returning home from a business trip, he went and got his tattoo, telling me he had a different kind of appointment and would I please pick up the kids?

And I would have, except that a snowstorm kept me from getting to them. I spent two hours on the road, calling his non-answering cell about every 10 minutes, asking him if he was closer because there was no way I was going to make it there on time. I ended up pulling up to the school at about 6:15, 15 minutes late. They were the last ones there, sweating in their coats and hats and patiently wearing their backpacks, ready to launch out the door the minute I arrived.  For the first time ever, I was late picking up my kids. At least I could take consolation in the fact that I wasn't the only one who'd been late, and that some other kids had been picked up just a few minutes before I arrived.

We got home around 6:30 to a still-empty house - no husband. Was he stuck in a snowdrift? Had he gotten into an accident on the slippery roads? He arrived about 10 minutes later, looking sheepish and happy at the same time. And then, the unveiling.

It's a running stallion, bursting into flames at top speed.

I have to admit, it's a pretty cool design. It might grow on me - only time will tell.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

My Favorite Ornaments

Decorating the tree is an event our family looks forward to every year. It's when we pull out the beat up box of ornaments and sort through our memories, picking and choosing which ones go towards the front and which ones are relegated the back of the tree.

When I was growing up my parents had a tradition of giving us an ornament every year, something to commemorate the past year. This meant that when I finally left home and began my own Christmas traditions I had enough ornaments to decorate a small tree. This also meant that once Wayne and I got married that my ornaments dominated our tree, something that was remedied by our doing this very same tradition for ourselves.

These are just a few of my favorites that bring back pleasant memories.

The music stand and the Coca-Cola ornaments. The first was from one of my high school years when I finally took a Class A saxophone solo to state competition and brought home a gold medal, along with a sundry of other medals. I was a first-class music geek, what can I say.

The Coca-Cola ornament was from the year I decided to get a degree in advertising. Mom couldn't think of an ornament that would be appropriate for advertising, and at the time the Coke/Pepsi war was big, with slogans and products everywhere. Her solution was to get a Coca-Cola ornament, because that represented advertising to her. I think of how hard she thought about and looked for these special ornaments throughout the years and I have a great appreciation for the effort she put into finding just the right one.

The moose ornaments are just a couple of many that I've gotten over the years from my dad. My dad's nickname for me is "Tootermoose," a name he made up that he started calling me when I was a kid. Nearly every year I can count on a moose making an appearance in a large box of gifts for my family from my dad. They make us all laugh every time.

And then there's the hand crafted ornament commemorating the fact that Lindsey was on her way. We had already been through two miscarriages and didn't tell my family we were expecting until Christmas when I was nearly 5 months along. Wayne bought the ornament and had it personalized long before Christmas so I could open it at my folks' house on Christmas Day. The purchase of this ornament was a leap of faith for both of us; it was a symbol of hope that perhaps this time we really would become parents. And miraculously enough, we did.

When I was a kid I used to look at the decked out trees at the store, the ones with every ornament being a part of a theme, matching in their design or colors. I used to tell myself that when I grew up I would have one of those pretty, matching trees, because our own was so junky looking, with a jumble of colors, shapes and sizes donning the branches.

The matching retail trees

The Floria-Horsman non-matching tree

Now, our tree is the hodgepodge tree, with ornaments in an array of colors: red or burgundy, green or white, porcelain or wood, golds or silvers.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you have a story about your favorite ornaments? Link up here to share!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sibling Squabbles

I say it in the blog description and I'll say it again here: Life isn't perfect. And I write about the imperfections so people know that whatever trials they might be going through are perfectly normal, too.

One of the imperfect things about our family is that our beautiful, sweet, funny little girls fight with each other. A lot.

And I don't just mean getting mad, I mean knock-down, drag-out, clumps-of-hair-in-fists kinds of fights.

For Halloween my husband and I almost donned referee shirts with whistles, but we decided not to because  it wasn't funny to us.

We separate them. We take away privileges. We've ignored them to make them work it out themselves, which invariably ends up with a bruise, a scratch or a missing clump of hair. We talk about the "bee" rules that are reinforced at school: Be Kind, Be Respectful, etc. Apparently they aren't applicable at home.

At ages 5 and 7, they should be better to each other. We should be able to leave the room and not have it erupt in screams and scratches five minutes later.

It makes it difficult to do anything in our house. Once we arrive home from school/work, one of us has to keep an eye on them while the other cooks dinner. If one of us needs to work with Lindsey on homework, the other needs to entertain Marissa or she'll pester Lindsey so much so that the homework doesn't get done and one of the kids is in tears. I can't take a shower on a Saturday morning if my husband is out for a run because it will get interrupted by a child who runs in screaming and in tears. We have to have lots of one-on-one time, because two-on-one doesn't work. It makes it very, very exhausting. Frustrating. Aggravating. Stressful. Pick your adjective.

You get the picture.

And then, suddenly, a break through.

I don't know what it was. Perhaps it was the turnabout fight, when Marissa got after Lindsey pretty badly. Maybe it was the time we got on Marissa for instigating Lindsey by copying her. Maybe it was the fact that we instituted an allowance for Lindsey based on doing three things: picking up her room, making her bed and being nice to her sister.

Because for the last nearly 3 weeks now, it's been bliss.

Sure, they've pushed each other's buttons. They've gotten mad at each other. But Lindsey has learned to walk away. To go to her room and shut the door. And somehow she remembers Marissa is indeed younger than she and logic does not always apply to a 5-year-old.

It seems that perhaps Lindsey has learned to anticipate where things are going and to choose not to engage. Or, perhaps she has her eye on the prize, on that dollar that she earns at the end of every week, and the thought of that being taken away trumps whatever action she was about to take.

Perhaps I'm writing this too early, that this is only a stage and soon they are going to go back to their old ways. Maybe it's anticipation of Santa Claus, who is watching them to see if they are naughty and nice (though they started getting along well before the thought of Christmas entered their minds.)

Who knows. But I'm thankful for the change, and for the peace that has stolen over our house. I hope it lasts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Toenail Fairy, Eh?

*Warning: This post is not for the weak of stomach. If the title got you, don't bother reading the rest.

A little background for you:

My husband is a marathon runner. Like a lot of runners who put on miles by the double digits, this means that he loses the occasional toenail. The nails rub against the top of the shoe over and over until it kills the nail; it grows out and a new one grows underneath. It's a fact of life for many long distance runners.

After he lost the first one, he grossed Lindsey out by making her believe he had put it in her tooth box, the one she puts under her pillow for the tooth fairy to find when she loses a tooth. You should've seen her open that box when she thought there was a toenail in there -- she held it at arm's length and had a grimace on her face until she opened it and found nothing inside.

The next toenail he found, he told her that if he put it in her tooth box, she might actually trick the tooth fairy into leaving a dollar for it. So she agreed to let him put it in her tooth box. Lo and behold, the tooth fairy left her a dollar as a reward, but forgot to leave a note. (This is what happens when dad plays the tooth fairy.)

Recently Wayne lost another toenail and when he showed it to her she actually raised both her hands in the air in a triumphant "YES!" Because this meant another dollar. Only this time, the toenail was accompanied by a note from a confused tooth fairy.

Okay, so the toenail fairy doesn't have the best grammar, but that's what happens when the note gets written around midnight. And when she's expecting a tooth.

Lindsey is kind of curious about whether or not the tooth fairy exists, especially since a good friend of hers informed her that her parents just pretend to be the tooth fairy. But we've explained that every little girl and boy has their own special tooth fairy, and that hers must like her a lot since she accepts toenails that aren't even her own in exchange for a dollar.

Yes Virginia, the toenail fairy exists.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Littlest Consumers


A week before Thanksgiving the Toys R' Us Great Big Christmas Book arrived in our Sunday paper. What used to be an actual book of 60 or more pages of toys has been reduced to a 12-page flyer. But regardless, they knew which ones to include to make my kids' eyes wide as saucers.

Marissa began going through the flyer and putting a big "M" on all the toys she wanted.

"Mommy, I want this Barbie horse," she would say.

"You already have a Barbie horse."

"Oh yeah." (Scribble scribble). "Well, I want this Barbie car."

"You already have a Barbie car."

"Well, this is a Barbie van, I want a Barbie VAN."

On and on through the book she would go, circling items very similar to ones she had asked for and gotten previously. So we went for a little tour through our house.

There's the Barbie house.

There's the Thomas the Train set.

There's the kitchen set.

There are the dishes that go with the kitchen set.

And then we pulled down the picture of our sponsored child in the Phillipines, and talking about what she might like for Christmas.

"She is probably going to get a new pair of shoes for Christmas," I told Marissa, who wrinkled her nose at the idea.

"Shoes?! Why would she want shoes?" she asked.

"Because she doesn't have any; her old ones wore out."

We also talked about other things that might be on her Christmas list: a new white shirt for school since she wears a uniform, some paper and pencils because the ones supplied to her at the beginning of the school year were probably gone, maybe some long pants to keep the bugs off her.

I'm not sure if Marissa truly believes that the smiling little girl in the photo really doesn't have those things, but I noticed that later on she went back through the wish book and crossed out things she had previously circled.

She probably won't remember this conversation on Christmas morning when she rips open her presents, looking for that one special one that she really wants. But I will do my best to remind her of the things that she has that many others do not.

What do you do to remind your kids of their good fortune? How do you temper the wish list from becoming 10 pages long?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

So much to be thankful for

This was an unusual Thanksgiving Day for us, in that for the first time in many years Wayne's parents did not travel to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. Between the forecast for bad weather and, let's face it, the bad airbed, they opted to stay home. We'll be seeing them tomorrow anyway, for our annual trek to their home for the big family get together on Saturday.

But for the first time since becoming a family of four, we had Thanksgiving at our home. Just us, no one else.

Lindsey and I took in a movie in the morning -- Tangled. It was a 9:45 a.m. showing, and it was the first movie that she stayed in the whole time and did not leave the theatre during scary parts. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, even having popcorn and Sprite at that hour in the morning.

Then I came home and baked up a couple of pies: pumpkin and apple. I follow my mom's dutch apple pie recipe, and it's a good one. I had bought apples two or three times over the past month with the intention of making this pie, only to have the apples get eaten throughout the week. At least my kids are healthy eaters!

I made a mostly full Thanksgiving spread, minus the dishes that my family for a whole doesn't eat (which meant none of my favorite sweet potatoes). We sat around the table and said what we were thankful for:

A house
A job
Clean water
Good health
School and the education that goes along with it
entertainment (specifically the movie Tangled - guess who said this one)

And throughout the evening I thought of all the people in my life who I am thankful for, friends old and new, co-workers (also old and new), and family. I thought of the family that I sponsor through Children International in the Phillipines, and how they were able to buy a mattress for many family members to sleep on with some of the money I sent their way -- yet some of the family members still sleep on the floor. I wondered how many days they could feed their family of 7 on the food we consumed in a single meal.

While these thoughts went through my head, I counted my blessings some more and gave my kids extra big hugs. I am very thankful indeed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do you guys know each other?

To the lady in the Saturn with all the "save the earth" stickers all over the rear of your car that I was stuck behind for 20 blocks last night -- do you know the lady in the Oldsmobile? The one who sells Mary Kay?

No? Oh -- well maybe you guys went to the same driving school.

Just checking.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One lump or two?

I like coffee.

Let me put that another way: I like my skim dark chocolate mocha from Caribou, large please.

I could have one every day, if only it didn't cost me $4.17 with tax and 10 pounds of extra baggage in the shape of saddlebags. So I settle for a home or office-brewed cup of Caribou with some sugar and cream put in it for good measure.

And then I read an article that talked about the bad things sugar does to your body, and more specifically to your brain function. Researchers have affirmed time and again that people who have refined sugar as a regular part of their diet have more problems focusing and keeping a train of thought than those who don't, along with a whole host of other nasty things that sugar does to your body.

While I'm not a junk food addict, I start my day - every day - with a cup of coffee with some sugar tossed in for good measure. I haven't NOT started a day that way in probably 25 years. (For those of you doing the math, this means I began drinking coffee regularly in my teens. The big birthday is NEXT year, remember?) what if I tried to kick the sugar in the coffee habit?

So one morning at work I decided to fix myself a cup of coffee with just creamer in it, no sugar. It didn't taste the best, that's for sure, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I usually enjoy my coffee. But I told myself I was going to try this out for a while, so I left it the way it was.

An hour later I had my regularly scheduled meeting with my boss, and it was a good meeting. It was good in that I was focused on the conversation. I listened intently. I followed our discussion more closely and was more engaged. I felt clear-headed.

I hadn't realized I hadn't been feeling clear-headed up until this point.

Think about that -- 25 years of starting every single day with a kick of sugar. My clarity of thought was normal to me, but obviously not what it could be.

I kept this habit up for a week, then went back to sugar in my coffee. The coffee just wasn't worth drinking to me if it didn't taste the way I wanted.

And then suddenly I switched back. The benefits of being in-the-moment with my family, at work and in my life outweighed the taste factor. It's been three weeks now, and I officially enjoy my sugarless coffee in the morning.

And no, I am not planning on cutting out the creamer next. I figure this is enough of a step for me. For now.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Can I read to you?

I enjoy this sight because I know how short-lived it will be.

Lindsey's reading skills blossomed over this past summer. She went from slowly reading 1st grade books to zipping through 3rd grade books. She's hit the Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary reading genre, and I'm thrilled to be able to share with her the same authors that I loved when I was her age.

And unlike my childhood experience, she has a little sister - one who is not yet reading.

So this is often the sight in our house - two girls curled up in a chair or on a bed, with Lindsey reading to Marissa. Marissa is enamored and listens well when Lindsey reads to her.

Who knows, by the end of kindergarten Marissa may be starting to read and then she won't be so willing to listen. She'll want to pick up books herself to read. But in the meantime, her big sister is her best bedtime story teller. It's nice to be able to split the bedtime story hour three ways now,with three readers in the house.

I'm loving every minute.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An invitation to tea

Welcome to my tea party. I'll be your host, please let me know if you need anything.

Would you like some gummy vitamins in a cup? How about a ham sandwich cut into the shape of a snowman? I've also got yummy cinnamon and sugar roll-ups, and marshmallows topped with frosting and sprinkles for dessert.

All of it washed down with some lovely room temperature water in little tiny cups.

I love these little shows of sisterly love. So sweet.