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.