More Awesome Christmas Presents

Did you get anything fun for Christmas? The boys got a few good gifts. Including these shirts.

Red Army

Zombies are were People too

Zombie Repellant

It was a Zombie Christmas after all.


Awesome Christmas Presents

Christmas Eve Olaf ran to the store to get one more gift for the little ones. I had no idea what he was getting them until they opened the Christmas morning.

These were the first presents they opened.

It was practicality at it's best.

Olaf had cleaned bathrooms on Christmas Eve and decided the boys needed new toilet seats.

As soon as all the unwrapping was done he taught those boys a new skill. How to install toilet seats.

It was just what they wanted to do on Christmas Day.

They didn't mind not playing their video games.

Or reading their stack of books.

They were happy to learn a new skill. And now their bathrooms don't scare me quite as much.


The First Date

Wednesday evening I was in the kitchen, baking, talking on the phone, tending my nieces and nephews, and being busy. The doorbell rang for the umpteenth time. Baby ran to answer it. (His cousins asked why he gets to answer the door all the time? Cuz he's fastest I told them.) He ran in the kitchen, "Someone's at the door for you Mom."

I got off the phone and went to the door expecting another neighbor. It wasn't. It was a young, pretty, girl. She was holding a few things.

"Hi," I said.

"Hi. I'm one of Calvin's good friends. We always talked about going on our first date together, just going to the movies and having fun." She was tearing up and I had started to tear up too. I gave her a quick hug. "I wanted to bring you this stuff since I can't go on a date with him. I think about him a lot and he was a great kid." She handed me a movie, popcorn, and a 2-liter of Coke.

I was crying by this time. I gave her another big hug and thanked her profusely. I was amazed. Every day I am reminded that Calvin had some incredible, wonderful friends.


Happy Birthday

Dear Calvin,

Happy Birthday! I'd send you a card but the Post Office doesn't deliver to Heaven, so I'll be wishing you a Happy Birthday in my prayers tonight.

Your birthdays are always fun. You and your friends always laughed and goofed around and had a good time. I remember the Bowling party where thankfully no one was hit with a ball. That was back when we still had an old-fashioned bowling alley in town. I miss the bowling alley, but not as much as you.

I miss that you aren't driving our car around. You should have gotten your learner's permit this last year and driven me to the store and back again. You could have even helped drive us to Disneyland.

I hope up in Heaven they are throwing you a great party. With a big cake. A humongous piñata full of candy that you crack wide open on the first try. Maybe you'll even get to play miniature golf or go bowling. And eat some pizza when you're done. I know you've made lots of friends and I hope you are all having a wonderful birthday.

We're celebrating here too. It's a tradition and just because you're not here doesn't mean we can't celebrate too. Then we'll be off to get some presents for those less fortunate. We can't give you any presents and you liked it when we did that for others, so it's our tradition to do that on your birthday. We do it to help remember your kind and giving spirit.

Happy 16th Birthday Son! I Love you and Miss you!


The Invasion has Begun

Since it's getting close to Christmas a few presents have appeared under the tree. There's the usual.

From Mom & Dad.

None from Santa yet. But he doesn't come for a few more days.

But apparently we have someone besides the parents and kids giving presents! Baby got a little worried about who was bringing him presents.

All Olaf could say was "I hope whatever they put in there doesn't smell on Christmas!" Apparently the Zombie Invasion has begun. Don't forget to Double Tap.

Updated at 8:30pm: Baby brought me the package from the Zombies and asked who it was really from. I told him the Zombies must have dropped it off while we were out. He got a little whine in his voice and said "Don't say that! I won't be able to sleep tonight!"


A Big Smelly Birthday

I know I posted this last year but this is one of my favorite birthday stories.

It was Calvin's 11th Birthday and as usual we were going to Nickelcade, every boy's favorite arcade. We had enough kids coming that I borrowed my friend's minivan so we could get them all there in one trip. We got there and gave all the boys a couple dollars in nickels. They proceeded to play away, trying to win the most tickets while Olaf played games from his childhood. We eventually rounded them all up and had some cake and ice cream. All in all it was a great party.

After they had all cashed in their tickets from items worth one-tenth the cost of getting the tickets I loaded them in the van and headed home. It was December. It was dark. It was cold. I had seven boys in a minivan with just me. I put on some good music and the boys giggled and laughed and had fun.

And then someone farted. That brought out a roar of laughter from everyone but me. And then the smell reached my nose, which isn't so delicate after all these years of living with boys. It was offensive. It was strong. It almost made me retch. Even though it was a cold winter night and I was driving 65mph down the highway I rolled all the windows down. I cranked the heater up as high as it would go.

Finally the smell was blown out of the van. I rolled all the windows up again. It was finally much quieter and I could almost hear myself think over all those boys. And just as soon as it got quiet I heard someone else fart! And another round of laughter. And another round of driving down the highway on a cold winter night with the windows down.

As you can only imagine this scene repeated itself and I just drove all the way home with the windows down. I had given up. I just trained all the heater vents on my little body and let the boys freeze while they laughed at their silliness.

I finally got back into town and took all the boys home. I then drove the minivan to my friend's house and parked it in her garage after rolling all the windows down. I went inside and thanked her profusely for the use of her van. Then I explained to her why her windows were down and that she ought to let it air out overnight while she laughed so hard she almost fell out of her chair.


Apples to Apples

The other day we played a new game. Apples to Apples. I was the only one who had never played before. Middle Child tried to explain the game in twice as many words as were in the instructions. Baby just laughed and giggled. Olaf finally told Middle Child to just let me read the instructions. Made so much more sense.

We got started. I tried to find appropriate answers for the term we were supposed to describe from my small pile of "answers." It was kind of hard. Seriously, how do you describe 'irrational' with the cards Jacques Costeau, A Locker Room, and Leeches?

I was losing. I don't like to lose. I'm not competitive but I just don't like to come in last.

But then I realized that it doesn't matter which of your cards matches the term best, but which one you think the person looking at that term will find the most interesting and therefore choose.

Then I got clever. It's not often that I can say I was clever! I started thinking about which card would pique the interest of the person in charge of the round the most instead of which was the most correct answer.

I wasn't losing anymore! I started winning rounds! By the end I had the most cards, 15. The next highest amount was only 10. The others discussed how I won so easily. I told them this proves that I know everyone the bestest!



This weekend I tried a new recipe. It was delicious! It was one of the best cupcakes I've had in a long time!

Look at that. Chocolate sumptiousness topped off with a spicy whip cream. There's cayenne pepper in there! A little different sounding but delicious!

It was just like the name of these cupcakes, Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes. It tasted just like a cup of Hot Cocoa with Whip Cream on top. Run to your mixer. Make then now. You'll thank me later.


All Alone

Right before Thanksgiving I had the chance to go to DC. Olaf had a conference so the hotel was free! So I went. I got there late Thursday night. Caught a cab to our hotel all by myself (this is the theme of this vacation). Met Olaf who had come out a day earlier.

The next morning he had meetings. I laid in the nice, soft heavenly, hotel bed for a while longer. It was so nice and soft. Then I finally got up and got ready. Then I headed down to the Metro all by myself. I was a little nervous cuz I hadn't ridden the Metro by myself before, or any subway for that matter. But I managed! It wasn't so hard.

I got off at the stop that I thought would put me close to the National Mall. I got out, rode the escalator up, and walked out onto the street. All I could see were big buildings. All around me. Where was the Mall? I got a little panicky. But calm prevailed. I eavesdropped and listened to where other people were going. It was late enough in the day that almost everyone was a tourist also. So I started following some of the others, they seemed to know where they were going. After walking half a block I happened to look up and saw the Washington Monument peeking over the buildings. Whew! I was going the right direction!

I had all Friday to myself! I walked all over the Mall. I visited all the outside monuments. I visited some of the smaller, less famous museums, mainly because no one was there to tell me they didn't want to go there! It was such a fun day!

There were a lot of runners out on the Mall. They were serious! They were running fast. They were timing themselves. There's a lot of in-shape people in DC. One silver-haired guy was nice enough to stop and offer to take my picture. Unfortunately he didn't got my awesome boots. The boots I bought the week before. The boots that I had only worn once before. The boots that gave the bottom of my toes and heels blisters. Sometimes, and only sometimes, (thank goodness) I'm very impractical.

The whole day through I couldn't help but laugh at myself since I was all by myself and loving it. I kept thinking of the movie Date Night where the Tina Fey character tells her husband she would never leave him for another man, but sometimes she dreams of being by herself. I think it's every Mom's dream.


Christmas Decorating

Every year we decorate the house. We get the tree up and adorned. We sweep away all the regular decorations and replace them with Christmas themed things; mangers, angels, santa's, and smurfs. It is just fun to celebrate all the wonderful things about Christmas.

But this year we added a new thing. We decided to put something down by the side of the road where our car accident happened and Calvin died. We got a tree and decorated it. Then we got a plaque made to hang on the fence long term. Sunday we went down that way and took care of those things. We were lucky and got a warm day, all the snow was melted so we didn't have to traipse through feet of snow. Our fingers didn't freeze off as we arranged things. And the best part, no rattlesnakes crept up on us.

We thought it was a nice little tribute to help remember him. So if you're traveling south on I-15 and pass mile marker 204, look down. It's right next to the mile marker but down on the fence. We figured it was safe that far off the road. We miss him and hope he's enjoying Christmas with Jesus this year and getting to know Tank.


That Evil TSA

I've flown on the airlines recently. Amid all the hullabaloo about the Patdowns the TSA is doing to beef up security at the airports. I, thank goodness, was not stripped of my shirt like that little kid the TSA Agents wouldn't let through. I didn't get my "junk" patted down like that one guy who decided not to fly, or was he not allowed to fly? Not sure. I guess it depends on who you ask.

But when I came home from DC I had to go through one of those new-fangled scanners. I've been through them before without incident. No pictures showed up online of my image. No one stopped me and requested a full body search. I've gotten pretty lucky so far. I guess I'm not old enough to fit the "Grandma" stereotype that always seems to get frisked.

But when I came out of the scanner waiting to be cleared for my flight home, I saw the guy talk into his radio and walk off. And then a female employee approached me. Oh, that's not good, I thought.

"We're gonna have to do a patdown. Just the top half," she told me.

What?? I'm not wearing anything weird that would show up on the scanners, I thought.

She did a quick patdown. It was fine and not even slightly embarrassing or exciting. Made me kind of wonder what all the buzz was about.

When Olaf caught up with me I told him about the patdown, he'd been in a different lane. He asked if I knew what was suspicious looking. By this time I'd had a little time to think about it.

I decided it was my super-duper padded, add-a-cup size bra. Nowadays with all the boob jobs the TSA Agents don't know what all that padding in a bra looks like.


Yogi or Yoga?

I've been going to yoga for a few weeks now. I really like it. I'm even starting to get the hang of it. Sometimes I even make smooth transitions from one pose to the next. But I've got a long ways to go. I have no balance, I'm about as flexible as a wood board, and I have minimal coordination.

So far I'm good at doing Downward Dog. I kind of feel like this.

It may not come as naturally for people, but you can learn to master the downward dog yoga pose!

Someday I'm going to get better but it's going to take a while.


Christmas Shopping

There has been an item on sale at Target this week that I have been trying to secure for the boys for Christmas. I've already been to the store three times and they've been out of stock every time. This morning I got smart. I called them as soon as I got to work.

"Do you have any of Item Z in stock today?" I asked.

"Yes, we do have those."

"Do you have at least two?" I asked.

"Yes, we have at least two." I love that he didn't volunteer that they had 20 or 50 or 3.

"How long do you think you'll have those in stock today?"

"I don't know. I would come. Right. Now." He said it just like that. I felt like someone was reading me a blog with all that fancy-dancy punctuation that's so trendy.

Needless to say I hightailed it out of there and got two Item Z's for Christmas morning.


Life is...

Life is not fair. I know that. I tell my kids that all the time. But sometimes you just wished it wasn't so unfair. The other night Tank got out and was on a walk by himself. When we discovered he was gone Olaf and Middle Child went looking for him. I got a call from MC asking me to look all through the house. A minute later I got another call from MC. He was sobbing and inconsolable. Olaf had seen Tank on the side of the road. He wouldn't let MC get out of the car. It was right by the house, my sister's house where we had gone for Thanksgiving. I hurriedly got dressed and asked my sister to drive me to where they were. But by the time I got boots on they were back. Olaf asked for a tarp to wrap him up in. He told us that Tank had been hit by a car and was gone. He didn't want to leave him all alone out there so he wrapped him up and brought him back to my sister's house. The next morning we decided to leave a day early because a snowstorm was forecasted. We got in the car and came home. After getting the kids home and in the house Olaf prepared a box and blanket to lay Tank in for his final resting place. Then he went out in the freezing howling wind and dug a grave for our sweet dog. Baby ran and told his best friend who came over. He wanted to write a note and so did Baby. So they wrote a note to Tank and put it in his box. Then when everything was ready we all went outside and watched as Olaf lowered him into the ground. We told him goodbye again. Then the boys helped shovel the first dirt onto his box. They filled the hole.There wasn't a dry eye in our circle.

Tank was a great dog. He had come to love us  and we had grown very attached to him. We will miss him waiting by the door for us when we get home. We will miss the jingle of his collar as he walks around the house. The boys will miss him sleeping at the foot of their bed. I'll miss him sitting by our feet when we're sitting around. I'll miss him trying to get in on every family hug; it seemed he could smell a hug from the other end of the house. We'll miss him taking us on walks. We'll miss his deep barks. I'll miss taking him for his monthly bath appointment. He loved getting all prettied up. We'll miss him pretending to be asleep so he didn't have to go outside. We will miss him tremendously!


Spies, Madame's, and Speakeasy's

Last week Olaf had a conference in Washington DC. I took advantage of the opportunity to stay in DC for free! I followed a day later and had some fun. My Aunt and Uncle live in the area and we met them one night for dinner. They met us in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. It is an absolutely charming area. It's full of stores and restaurants and quaint old buildings. We decided to eat at this restaurant in this beautiful old building.


While we were looking over the menu, Olaf read the history of the building. It is quite colorful! Check it out for yourself. There's spies, madame's, and speakeasy's!

The original owner of the building which is now IL PORTO RISTORANTE was a retired Sea Captain. He constructed the building like his ship - sturdy and sound in wall and beam.   He stocked it with silk from the Far East, silver from Spain, jewel from England and France and - to his misfortune - a valued family heirloom of one of his customers. The unhappy customer had the Captain arrested and tried in the town square.   As a result of the Captain's quick demise, the building had a new owner, Madame LeCleaque who turned it into a House - not a home!   Business was brisk until a pesky customer shot the Madame and her girls fled into the night.   The building remained empty for years!

After the Civil War, two southern ladies open a shop to sell family treasures. When they retired, a wine press and distillery were found in the basement. Perhaps the family recipe sold better than the family antiques!

The building then became a butcher shop with graded meat selling for 5¢ a pound. A German artist used the building during World War I as a studio, specializing in painting of the Torpedo Factory.

The Roaring Twenties saw a speakeasy located here, and then during the 40's a Nazi family moved in and set up a radio network disguised as a fix-it shop. Now, restored to it natural charm, the old building is the home of fine Northern Italian food.


Christmas Craziness

This week I got all the Christmas decorations out and decorated the house. I made the boys bring all the boxes out of the basement for me. And since they were rifling around the storage room they found a train. Sometime, a long time ago, I don't remember when, someone gave us the toy train to run around our Christmas tree. So we got it out.

While I was busy decorating the house, Baby and Olaf were busy putting up the tree and the train. Baby has been playing with the train all week. And he brought out his army men.

It looks like a World War II Train to me. He loves it. I think I'm going deaf though. The train whistle doesn't turn off. I don't know if I can make it til Christmas.


What's a Boy's Best Friend?

For young boys anything that shoots projectiles is something they love. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but not so for a boy. They require things that shoot things. Several years ago all the boys got bows and arrows for Christmas. They were so excited! Olaf set up some targets outside for them to shoot. They didn't quite make the bullseye every time but they sure had fun trying. Olaf was excited that Middle Child seemed to like archery. At this point in time he was anti-gun. Olaf wasn't sure whose child he was raising.

Fast forward two or three months. I'm upstairs doing something important, because I'm always doing something important, even if it's an important nap. But I was awake this time, down in my room. I hear Baby crying. At this point Baby is probably three or four, still a sweet chunky thing that I could squish. I can tell from the cry that something's wrong so I hurry to find him. I get down the hall the same time he gets to the top of the stairs.

There's Blood! Pooling in his eye! Rolling down his face! Down his shirt and all over his hands! I have dealt with six or seven previous instances of head wounds needing stitches and been able to keep my calm without a problem. But this time I lost it. All that blood in his eye socket area! I couldn't tell where he was bleeding from so I assumed it was his eye. I kept expecting his eyeball to pop out at any moment! I told him to sit down.

Thank goodness Olaf was home. He was outside. I ran to the door and screamed for him to get in here right this minute! I was really losing it. Olaf could tell I was in distress and not just angry so he hurried in to see what was wrong.

He instantly saw Baby's bloody face and went into calm and controlled mode. He's so good at that. I only am up to a point and this was past that point. Just like the time Middle Child broke his arm, but I'll tell that story another day.

Olaf picked Baby up and brought him over to the kitchen sink. He got a towel wet and started wiping his face. I think he was smart enough to know his eyeball wasn't going to fall out of it's socket. After he got him cleaned up he finally found the wound. He had a nice cut in his eyebrow.

"How did you get that?" he asked.

Baby was still crying too hard to get an answer out of so we asked Calvin, cuz he was there too. Calvin got a sheepish look on his face.

"I had him hold up this blanket" and he demonstrated a very thin blanket barely held together, "so I could shoot my arrow at it. I didn't know it would go through the blanket! I'm really sorry!" And we could tell he was truly sorry he hurt his little brother. Of course he got a little lecture about not shooting arrows in the house, that's what the targets outside are for. And he swore he'd never do it ever again.

Heading to the doctor
So we loaded Baby into the car and took him in to get a couple stitches. This might have been a gluing instead of stitches. I love the glue because it just falls out, no need to remove stitches a week later. Baby still has a little scar in his eyebrow where no eyebrows grow. I love it. Whenever I look at that scar it reminds me a little of Calvin and his mischievousness. 

Holding onto Dad for comfort.


The Monte Cristo

Whilst in Disneyland last month Olaf and I ate at a restaurant without the kids. We both got Monte Cristo sandwiches. Neither of us had eaten one before. And we probably never will again. It's a meat and cheese sandwich that is then dipped in batter and fried to a perfect crisp. I was in Heaven! But I couldn't eat all of mine so I saved the last piece and let the boys share it when we met up with them again. They loved the sandwich also.

Tonight at dinner we were talking about sandwiches. Why, I don't know. We weren't eating sandwiches, we were eating homemade hot pockets with BBQ chicken and cheese. Olaf made them and they were delicious. Maybe because they were sandwich-like it reminded Middle Child of the Monte Cristo.

"My favorite sandwich was that one you had at Disneyland, Mom!" he said.

"Um, I wasn't the only one to eat one. Your dad had one too." I wasn't about the be the only one caught eating a fried sandwich.

"Oh, those were so good!" Baby announced.

"Next time we go to Disneyland we have to take $20 so we can get one of those sandwiches too! That's my favorite sandwich!" said Middle Child.

"Well, what about that Bacon, Turkey, and Avocado panini I made last week? Wasn't that good?" I asked.

"Yeah, it was, but not as good as that Monte Cristo!" he replied.

"Oh, Mom, that sandwich was so good. I have to have my own next time we go to Disneyland!" Baby told me.

"Well, next time we go to Disneyland I can see what is most important to these boys. Not the rides, the food!" said Olaf.

Even though they may not like a lot of things I have obviously taught them how to be food lovers.


What Happens in Vegas Doesn't Stay in Vegas

On the way home from Disneyland we stopped off in some small town in California. It's pretty close to Death Valley. It has billboards claiming it has the world's Largest Thermometer. It does have a large thermometer but it has become a victim of the weather and it's hard to read. But they also have an Alien Beef Jerky store. So we stopped.

Here's Baby with the Crashed Alien Spacecraft. Thank Goodness it crashed on impact and isn't working or he might be snatched!

They also have the Mad Greek restaurant. I remember seeing a few in California. But none were quite as awesome as this one.

I love it. It reminds me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Loved that movie.

Then we stopped in Vegas on our way home. Not to gamble away the rest of our money but to visit my parents. They took us downtown because the boys wanted to see the Lions at the MGM. I was okay with that because that meant I could go to the M&M store and Coke World!

When we got to Coke World they offered to take our photo with the Coke Bear. They were nice enough to take one with my camera and then they used their camera. The boys promptly went upstairs to see them. For the low price of $40 we could get one big one and a couple wallet photos. In retrospect I should have bought them. They would have made awesome pictures to put in our Christmas Cards.



Sometimes. Occasionally. Not too often. Randomly. Mysteriously. A good trait gets passed down to your offspring.

Middle Child has been venturing into the field of baking. He came home yesterday and asked if he cleaned up really good, could he could make cookies? I said "No." We really didn't have time.

Today he brought a friend home after school. They asked if they could go to Shopko to buy some treats. His friend had finally turned an assignment in on time! Then they worked on some homework. When they were done they asked if they could make some cookies.

Letting them make cookies versus me driving them to the store? You know which one won out! Thank goodness there are a few teenage boys here to eat the cookies so I don't. Because instead of letting him make the tasteless generic sugar cookies out of my basic cookbook, I gave him a good recipe. And they are good.

Unfortunately he bakes like he does most things. He only reads the first line of the instructions. I told him to read steps 4-7 to see what needed to be done to get them ready for baking. Apparently he only read 4 and 5 because step 6 tells you to flatten the balls of dough. This was after he tried to add chocolate chips to the sugar cookie dough. The mean Mom that I am wouldn't let him. I told him to make Chocolate Chip cookies if that's what he wanted.

They don't look too bad, just not like regular Sugar Cookies. But then, I've talked about Middle Child and his lack of conforming to my version of Normalcy.


The Things We Learn

I've been married for over 17 years. It's long enough that often we know what each other is thinking. Sometimes we can finish the other's sentence. It's not long enough to actually look like each other yet, give us another 10 years.

But occasionally we learn new things about each other.

I know Olaf doesn't like amusement park rides, not even the ferris wheel. I just thought it was because he has motion sickness problems.

I found out, while at Disneyland, that the guy is more afraid of heights than I am! How did I miss that in the last 17 years?


What's for Dinner?

Dear Calvin,

I wish you could come home for dinner. I miss having you around at dinnertime. I miss your smile and funny stories and jokes. But mostly I miss that you almost always ate my food. Except for tacos. Somewhere along the way you quit liking tacos and it surprised me. But everything else you almost always liked.

I miss your voracious appetite that apparently me and the whole neighborhood couldn't satisfy. Your brothers don't share the love of food that you have. It doesn't matter what I make at least one of them doesn't like it.I'd love to have someone under the age of 30 sitting at my table and honestly tell me my food is good and it's not going to make them puke.

Baby's strategy is just to cry and tell me that this particular dish will make him puke if he has to eat any of it. Every night it's the same story. Middle Child smiles and tells me it's great but then he picks and picks and picks at it. A half hour later hardly any of his food is gone and I know he's just trying to pacify me.

Tonight, Baby cried and went to his room because he wouldn't eat Chicken n Dumpling Soup. Once when Dad was bringing you home from a baseball game you had asked to stop at Glade's. Dad told you we were having Chicken n Dumpling soup and you changed your mind. You wanted to come home and eat my food!

Ever since you've gone no one really wants to eat at home even though I'm making great food. They like it when I make Tacos, Spaghetti, Pizza, Hot Dogs. Oh, and Orange Chicken. I almost forgot about that one, everyone likes that dish. You would too. And for some reason your brothers like steak.

Anyway, I hope you're not getting cafeteria food up there in Heaven, they should serve that to the people in Hell. You should get 5-star restaurants. And at least you'll like the food and not complain unlike your brothers. Hopefully you're getting to eat even more adventurous and spicy stuff that I didn't make either because I wasn't adventurous or it cost too much.

Love you and Miss you!


My Grandma

Great Grandma, Grandpa, & Grandma
My Grandma died when I was only 15. She was so full of energy and never stopped for much. She also talked a lot. I would be amazed at the conversations she could keep going the whole time she was cutting out and sewing dresses. She was so creative that when I look at what she did it totally amazes me. My favorite skill of her's was cake decorating with a close second being her sewing abilities. Whenever she would come out to visit us she would whip up some dress for all us girls. I don't remember her using a pattern, but I don't know if that's accurate or not. My memory has been known to remember the wrong things at times.

I remember when I was seven or eight I mentioned to her that I wanted a watch for Christmas or my birthday. Sure enough, that next Christmas or birthday she sent me one. I was so excited! I wore it till it wore out. Even though it quit working I kept it. I still have it in my jewelry box. I don't keep a lot of things but I kept that.

Grandma would send us notes occasionally. For a long time I thought she didn't know how to spell 'night' because she always spelled it 'nite'. I didn't dare tell her she was misspelling it. But then when I got older I realized it was just her shorthand. Ever since then I have always spelled it Grandma's way. But I'm kind of ocd and don't like to misspell things so every time I come to night or tonight there's a little battle that wages in my head and every single time 'nite' wins. It always makes me think of Grandma.

One of my favorite memories is when she took me and my sister shopping for shoes. We were to be in her youngest daughter's wedding as candle lighters. I was 12 and so excited. She made all the dresses including the brides. And that was a lot of dresses! But when we showed up my sister and I didn't have appropriate shoes for the wedding. Grandma took us shopping and got us ballet slippers. I remember feeling special because just us two went shopping with Grandma. We didn't get much alone time with Grandma and that time was special.

I am glad that I got to know Grandma as long as I did. Since we didn't live close we only got to see them once a year. But I remember those visits. I loved it when both her and Grandpa came to visit. It was always exciting.


Halloween Costumes

So what did you wear for Halloween? Since we were in Disneyland for Trick or Treating I made a costume for me and Sister-in-law Nurse. I got the idea from the California Gurls video by Katy Perry.

katy perry california gurls video blue hair cupcake bra top diesel crystal denim jean cutoffs daisy dukes

I went out on a limb and made these daring outfits for Sister-in-Law Nurse and me. Since I didn't have the body of a 25-year-old Pop Star I made ours less risqué. That and I didn't want to be kicked out of Disneyland. We were quite the hit with all the 20-somethings and younger. Most anyone older than that didn't know what we were.

Here's the whole family. Middle Child's coat zipped up with a funny face and Baby wore a Ghillie suit.

We had a ton of fun trick or treating and made out like bandits in the candy department. We shouldn't need to buy any more candy for at least the rest of this year. And don't expect me to wear this outfit again. Once was enough for a lifetime.


Jedi Training Camp

While wandering through Tomorrowland we ran across a Jedi Training Camp. Our family loves Star Wars. This was a dream come true for both the boys. They anxiously waited in line. And Baby was chosen to be one of the Padowans!

He was so excited. The Jedi Master taught them a special move that could be used against the Dark Side.

And then they all felt a Disturbance in the Force.

Who had come to Jedi Training Camp trying to woo Younglings away from the Good Side?

None other than Darth Vader! He tried to woo them with talk of power and wealth. But none would join him.

So he brought in the big guns. Darth Maul! They chose to duel it out with the younglings. They all had to fight. Good thing they had learned a special move that would protect them from the Dark Side.

Baby was happy to help the Jedi's. When they had all driven the Darth's away, they graduated. They had passed a hard test!

So now it's Official. We have a Jedi in the family.


The School of Learning: The Beach

Tuesday we went to the Beach. We had been there Saturday evening after we got into California. When we came Saturday the beach was really long. Tuesday morning as I walked in I wondered why the boys had set up camp so far from the water. And then as I got closer and could see over the wall of sand, the water almost reached them! The tide was high and the water was a good 30-40 feet closer than it had been the night before. The children had a lesson about the tides, and we were worried they would miss school. The children instantly set about playing in the sand.

Middle Child got buried in the sand. He was in heaven! I laid down and at one point the surf lulled me to sleep. I think I found my heaven on earth.

Olaf even got in on the fun. When we get on the beach he fits right in with the kids.

Castles were built, surrounded by moats filled with sea water.

The seagulls tried to get their fill of our food. This one took a wrapped cookie. He wouldn't let go of it. We didn't watch to see if he ate it with the wrapper or not.

I was amazed at the amount of surfers constantly coming in and out of the water. I was surprised at how many spent serious time warming up, but I guess it is a workout. These young guys here looked like they were bringing a younger brother that was just learning how to surf. It was cute to watch them teach him to warm up. They didn't go very far out, keeping the younger one in sight all the time.

It was an awesome day at the beach! Better than any day at work. I know where I'm spending my retirement.