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.