Monday, December 31, 2007

Two Quotes of the Week

(Interchange between Lucy and Ryne, my nephew)

Lucy: I like your spy kit you got. Tomorrow in the morning will you come and wake me up with it?

Ryne: Sure!

Me: Well, that probably won't work out. Why don't both of you play with it after you get up?

[Pause...with no reaction whatsoever to the killjoy mother in the room]

Lucy: Are you an early riser?

Christmas morning when Elaine decided to wake up at 5:30 a.m. aka the middle of the freakin' night

Me (in a whisper; getting into the guestroom bed yet again): Shhhhh. Lie down here. Go back to sleep. It's still night-night time.

(Lots of thrashing and flailing about as she gets into position)

Elaine (in her chainsmoker voice, after ginormous hawking cough one millimeter from my face): HI MOMMY!

Me: Hi.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Ready, Set....

So, I certainly don't want this to be one of those blogs that constantly talks about how our family is sick. One of my favorite blogs (which shall remain nameless for now) has at least one annual column about how everyone in the family gets the barfing flu. Since I've been reading the blog since I've been pregnant with Lucy, I've been reading about the barfing flu, oh, for five years now. (Yes, I know. I should just skip those columns.)

But....we were sick over Christmas. We had been sick before and soldiered on through all the Christmas and birthday activities, then got somewhat better, then suffered a relapse. The night before Christmas Eve, I stayed up until after midnight wrapping all the presents, then went to bed--only to be told by Darren at 2 a.m. that it was my turn now to deal with Elaine who was doing her personal non-stop rendition of Dogs Singing Jingle Bells, except it was all barking and no Jingle Bells. He'd done the 10 to 2 shift, so I got the remainder. I got into the guest bed with her while she thrashed and coughed and cried the entire night, and I felt my own sinuses gradually filling up until I could no longer breathe except through my mouth as I drifted in and out of sleep-deprived halluncinations.

She finally decided to get up for the day around 6, and I went back to our bed and collapsed and just let her potter around, riffling through my bedside table and running her doll stroller around the room. Then Lucy got up, so they decided to play together. The last thing I remember was hearing Lucy say, "It's Christmas, Elaine! It's Jesus's birthday!" I thought, how sweet, and drifted off.

Then, I felt a poke in my shoulder and a little voice saying excitedly in my ear, "Mommy, look what I found!" I opened my eyes and stared into the face of Molly, An American Girl. An American Girl doll. That I had wrapped up the night before. I leaped up out of bed and shrieked "Where did you get that?" to which she immediately started to wail. The uproar brought Darren up all standing, and he rushed downstairs to see all the detritus of Christmas spread throughout our living room.

Yup. They opened up all their presents. By themselves. On Christmas Eve morning.

Of course, saintly mother that I am, I simply hugged them and said, "It's OK, girls. You weren't to know. Let's wrap them up together and they'll still be a fun surprise tomorrow!" I absolutely did not sit down on the top step and begin to cry and say, "Christmas is ruined!"

But...if I had, then Lucy sat by me and cried and cried and kept saying, "But they were so beautiful, those presents were so beautiful!" Then she said, "It's Christmas today, Mom, and we even got Baby Jesus out and put Him on the table so you wouldn't forget about putting him in the stable.....waaaahahhhhhhhhhhhh....." And I might have said something like "....up all night....just sleep....can't breathe.....Christmas Eve not Christmas......whose kids open presents without asking....waaahhhaaaaaaaahhhhhhh...."

Darren said it was like watching a Carol Burnett skit.

It will be gratifying to know that I finally did pull myself together and apologize right away for saying Christmas is ruined. I said that Daddy and I had some nice surprises that we had wanted to give them ourselves, but that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus' birthday and nobody can ever ruin that.

We mopped our tears and had an OK rest of the day. I spent most of it on the couch being miserable (with my cold, not with the opened presents) and holding Elaine. Darren took Lucy to church later on in the evening, while we stayed home. I did make scrambled eggs, bacon, and monkey bread so that we could have a picnic on the living room floor like I had promised earlier. And after the girls went to bed, I sat and rewrapped all of their presents.

Christmas morning was lovely, and they were suitably surprised at their new Sunday coats and hats, American Girl dolls (the mini ones lest anyone think we shelled out $100+ each on dolls for a 4-year-old and 2-year-old), and Lyle the Crocodile books even though they had seen them all 24 hours previously.

We spent the rest of the day with my family where I spent the day curled up in a chair and drank approximately 72 cups of wassail. The next day we headed down to Darren's family where, among other festive holiday activities, I scratched my cornea. AGAIN.

We got home yesterday and promptly took down the tree and all the Christmas decorations. I always love that day. Christmas is wonderful while it lasts, but I'm always glad when it's over. A snowstorm came, and the girls have been busy indoors playing with their new toys and alternately fighting and making up.

Right after the great Premature Present Opening of 2007, Darren said, "Hey, at least you'll have something memorable to write about on the blog!" and laughed. I said, "I think I'm going to need a little bit more distance for me to be able to laugh about this."'s the 28th and I'm writing. And laughing. I guess my sense of humour heals faster than my cornea.

And for that, I am thankful.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Well-worn and well-loved

One of my favorite books of all time is Charlotte's Web. I have loved it ever since I was a child, and I love it even more as an adult (it's funnier when you read it as an adult). I have a worn, battered copy of it that I think my mom had when she lived in the West Indies before she was married. (And she's been married almost 42 years, so...hi Mom! No, I'm not telling everyone how old you are!) Anyway, I'm one of those horrible readers who dogears the corner of books to save my place, and if it's any indication how much this copy of Charlotte's Web has been read, there's a dogeared corner on almost every page in the book. And I have to confess--I never pass a spider's web without double-checking to see if it says, "Some Pig" on it.

Those adults who haven't read this book or haven't read it since elementary school, do yourself a favor and get a copy now. It's filled with the most marvelous quotes, which I try to work into everyday life as much as possible. Here's a sampling:

"This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of."

"I only distribute pigs to early risers. Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result she now has a pig…It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly."

"An hour of freedom is worth a barrel of slops."

"'Will the party who addressed me at bedtime last night, kindly make himself or herself known by giving an appropriate sign of signal!' 'Stop your nonsense, Wilbur,' said the oldest sheep. 'If you have a new friend here, you are probably disturbing his rest; and the quickest way to spoil a friendship is to wake somebody up in the morning before he is ready.'"

"'I am sure,' she said, 'that every one of us here will be gratified to learn that after four weeks of unremitting effort and patience on the part of our friend the goose, she now has something to show for it. The goslings have arrived. May I offer my sincere congratulations!'"

"'Well,' said the spider, plucking thoughtfully at her web, 'the old sheep has been around this barn a long time. She has seen many a spring pig come and go. If she says they plan to kill you, I’m sure it’s true. It’s also the dirtiest trick I ever heard of. What people don’t think of!'”

"I am going to save you, and I want you to quiet down immediately. You’re carrying on in a childish way. Stop your crying! I can’t stand hysterics.”

"'Let Wilbur alone!' she said. 'He has a perfect right to smell, considering his surroundings. You’re no bundle of sweet peas yourself. Furthermore, you are interrupting a very pleasant conversation. What were we talking about, Wilbur, when we were so rudely interrupted?'"

"'If I can fool a bug,' thought Charlotte, 'I can surely fool a man. People are not as smart as bugs.'"

“'But Charlotte,' said Wilbur, 'I’m not terrific.' 'That doesn’t make a particle of difference,' replied Charlotte. 'Not a particle. People believe almost anything they see in print. Does anybody here know how to spell ‘terrific’?'”

"Templeton poked his head up through the straw. 'Struggle if you must, said he, 'but kindly remember that I’m hiding down here in this crate and I don’t want to be stepped on, or kicked in the face, or pummeled, or crushed in any way, or squashed, or buffeted about, or bruised, or lacerated, or scarred, or biffed. Just watch what you’re doing, Mr. Radiant, when they get shoving you in!'” [You'd be amazed how many times you can use this one!]

“One thing is certain, he has a most unattractive personality. He is too familiar, too noisy, and he cracks weak jokes. Also, he’s not anywhere near as clean as you are, nor as pleasant. I took quite a dislike to him in our brief interview.” [ha, this one too!]

When Elaine was still an infant, I got a number of books on CD to listen to while I was feeding her. One of them was Charlotte's Web, read incomparably by the author himself, E.B.White. He reads it in a soothing, emotionless, almost-monotone voice, and I have to say that I was late to work one day because I just had to sit and hear the end of it without interruption.

Every night when Lucy goes to bed, she likes to listen to an audio book. She's worked her way through Henry Huggins, Little House in the Big Woods, two All-of-a-Kind-Family books, plus quite a few others. Someone had given us the DVD of Charlotte's Web as a gift, but I held onto it because she really needed to experience the text first. She started listening a couple of weeks ago and loved it. This week, I let her watch the movie for the first time. When it got near the end, I came in and watched the rest with her. When it was finished, she got off her chair without any expression on her face, came over, buried her face in my lap, and began to cry. She cried and cried and cried and cried.

We talked a lot about it, and she seemed OK after a while. Later on when I was giving the girls supper, she asked me, "Mom, when Wilbur got to be an old, old pig, did he go back to the fair and die where Charlotte did?" She barely finished the sentence before she put her head down on the table and began to sob again.

Of course anyone knows it makes you feel terrible when your children are sad. But part of me also loved that she had fallen under the spell of this story of the greatest sort of friendship and was broken-hearted that an old gray spider had given her life for a little pig she loved.

The last lines of the book nearly finish me off every time I read them: "Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."

That night when I tucked Lucy into bed, I asked her the question I always do, "What do you want to listen to tonight, Baby?"

She whispered, "Charlotte's Web, Mom. Start it again at the beginning."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Today at school, we were going to watch this movie about bugs and I didn't say 'Yuck!', but Michael said, 'This movie is just for boys. No girls allowed!'"

"Then what did you say?"

"Nobody said anything. We just looked daggers at him."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"They had mismatched manger scenes at incredibly low prices..."*

We finally packed the kids off to bed, and I sat downstairs, watching NCIS and eating a sandwich and Doritos (that sentence holds a lot of nostalgia value. I've basically turned back into a 16-year-old babysitter. With extra wrinkles.) Anyway, Lucy came down and said in a stage whisper (I think she's afraid to talk after bedtime), "Mom. I need to go potty. And I need an adult to go with me."

So, we did that, and then she said, "Close your eyes, I've got to show you something." She ran into her room and got one of her Groovy Girl dolls in whose hair she had placed a lot of random ponytails. She said, "I was just thinking in my heart, Mom. I was thinking that Groovy Girl's hair looked kind of snouty. I thought she'd look better with some ponytails and a bun. In my heart I thought that, I really did."

When I went back downstairs, I saw our nativity scene in the hallway. Each night, we put a different figure in and talk about what part they played in the Christmas narrative. I bought an extra set so we could have more animals, more than one shepherd (why is there always only one?), and an angel.

Here's what I saw:

Apparently the shepherds are tired and need a lie-down. And the smaller cow and donkey aren't feigning indifference, in case you were wondering. They prefer to turn toward their husbands so they can see them better.

*Bonus points for anyone who knows what movie this line is from. I thought everyone (at least every woman) knew this movie by heart. Then I mentioned it to the girl who does my hair (major clueing!), and she had never ever seen it. I was shocked, until I realized it came out around the time she was born. And then I was sad.

Girls Live Here

Here is a teeny tiny miniscule fraction of the shoe collection at our house--basically only what our newly-placed back hall mat (which only appears after the first snow) can hold. (Though now that I'm looking at the picture again? I'm sure we can squeeze a few more pairs on there.)

Nary a pair of Dad's shoes in sight...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Some Winter Days

In addition to Elaine's birthday, Lucy had her Christmas program at church on Wednesday night. All the kids did a great job. They did an overview of what they've learned in Kids4Truth since September. They recited verses, sang hymns, and sang Christmas carols.

There must have been too much activity (and sugar) on Wednesday, because both girls were up and crying Wednesday night. They got to bed about 2 hours later than usual, and Elaine woke up crying at 2:30. Since I had to work the next day, Darren got the responsibility of her. Just as I was starting to possibly drift off again, Lucy came in my room sobbing because she couldn't find Rabbie. She had turned on all the lights, yet somehow missed him at the foot of her bed. She wanted me to rock her back to sleep, but we compromised with her just getting in bed with me (since Darren was in the guest bed with Elaine). We have strict policies about not having our kids sleep with us. Except for sometimes. It just gets to the point where you're too tired to soothe and rock them, so...I read somewhere that everybody's kids sleep with them, it's just a matter of how much in denial about it the parents are. And somehow that made me feel a lot better. So, with my alarm going off at 4:30 a.m., I got the big 3 1/2 hours of sleep that night.

However, on Thursday/Friday, I got the greatest Christmas present ever. Thursday after work, I dropped the girls off at my parents' for an overnight. Then Darren and I went out. To a restaurant. By ourselves. It was incredible. Then we went home and fell asleep. It was about 10:30. I did not get up until 10 o'clock the next morning. 10! It was fantastic. We spent a leisurely time getting ready without it being punctuated by the usual statements made during our getting-ready time when the girls are around. "Stop slamming that door! Are you allowed to play with doors?" "Please make your bed" and "I'd really prefer that my toothbrush not be on the floor by the toilet." Then we went Christmas shopping, then picked the girls back up (oh wait, after eating lunch together again at another restaurant!).

Saturday we were up early and at the mall for the Christmas sales (this is my idea of purgatory, but sometimes it just has to be done). Shopping with toddlers and preschoolers is virtually impossible, no matter how good they try to be, so Darren took them home and I headed back to the mall and actually got the shopping done.

It's been snowing all day, that pretty pre-Christmas snow, so Darren and the girls bundled up in the afternoon and went out to make snow angels and a snowman. Elaine had never played in the snow before, and she wasn't a big fan of it. After a few minutes, Darren deposited her on the back porch, and she came in the house moaning, "No thank you snow!" and "I got snot!" I took her outdoor clothes off, wiped her nose, and she's happily taking her new dolls on an indoor stroller ride around and around the house.

So, snow is here, the Christmas shopping is basically done, the Christmas cards are mailed, and Elaine's birthday went off successfully. Lucy's school program is this week, and the rest of the time before Christmas can just be enjoyed!

The Birthday Party

On Wednesday morning, Elaine woke up and opened some presents. (I think it's important to spread the presents out over the day. And is there anything more fun than opening up at least one present the morning of your birthday?) She got a book, a movie, and a CD from Uncle Scott, Aunt Denise, Drew, Ryne, and Joseph. Then she opened a baby doll in a raincoat, hat, and boots from Daddy and Mommy (as we talked on the phone on Monday afternoon, we realized we had forgotten to buy our child a birthday present. This is the plight of having a baby born close to Christmas, I think. So I ran out to Target that night and bought her a doll.) She was thrilled. We named the baby Jackie, after her favorite teacher at daycare.

She took a good nap in the afternoon while Dad and Lucy ran errands and I got ready for her party that night. Then she woke up, and I got her dressed in her party clothes.

"Her people" ("She has 'people'?!" our friend Michele likes to say) started arriving at around 4:30 for appetizers. Earlier in the day, my mom had called and asked what I was doing. "Making an igloo out of vegetable dip to go with the penguins I made out of black olives, cream cheese, and carrot pieces," I said. She just laughed at me. Then we had her favorite dinner (well, besides Happy Joe's pizza)--Daniels chicken, mashed potatoes (she and Lucy had brown rice because they don't like mashed potatoes. Yes, that sentence I just wrote is true. My girls prefer brown rice--BROWN RICE--to mashed potatoes.), sugar snap peas, and crescent rolls. Then we brought in her Maisy cake. She was a little overwhelmed and wasn't sure what to do with the candles, so I helped her blow them out. She loved Maisy though and tried to take a swipe at the frosting. We served it with eggnog ice cream (a perk of having a December birthday).

Then Lucy led her into the living room where there was a new Maisy rocking chair (from MiMi and PaPa), and in it sat a stuffed Maisy and a Maisy book (from Lucy). She went straight for the book, climbed up on Packa's lap, and asked him to read it. She got more books and clothes from Tia and Tio, a set of Christmas CDs from MiMi and PaPa, an Adidas sweatsuit and a new doll wearing a matching sweatsuit from Aunt Kimmie and Megan, and her own little robe made by Manga.

So, she successfully turned 2. I'm excited to have a 2-year-old in the house. I love 2. Really. I do.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Twelfth Night

The month of December always reminds me of two things: light and babies. I guess there are a number of obvious reasons for that! I know Jesus probably wasn't really born in December but rather the spring, but I love the idea of the Light of the World arriving at the darkest part of the year. I just finished a seven-month study on the I AM statements of Jesus (and I say "finished" because I completed the study, not because I've discovered everything there is to know about it because it is inexhaustible--in fact, I just found out some more stuff the other day). Each of the individual statements was so fascinating to study in its own right, but today I'm thinking about "I AM the Light of the world."

Thousands and thousands of human years after standing in the void and declaring “Let there be light,” the closing of the first day of the Feast of the Tabernacles had arrived, and Jesus was teaching in the Temple in the Court of the Women in Jerusalem. Great candelabra, with great golden bowls of oil, were prepared for the celebration. These were to represent the ancient cloud and the pillar of fire that had led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the Promised Land. As the evening approached, a large crowd of people arrived at the temple for the lighting of the candelabra. When darkness fell, young men in line for the priesthood climbed on ladders and lit the great torches. The blaze was so immense that suddenly the darkness was pierced with such a light that it is said to have illuminated every street and square in the city of Jerusalem. The light could be seen for miles around the city. It is in this very court, possibly the very moment of the lighting that Jesus cried out: "I AM the Light of the world." In effect, Jesus was saying, "You have seen the blaze of the Temple illumination piercing the darkness of the night. I am the Light of the world. The light in the Temple is a brilliant light, but in the end it flickers and dies. I am the Light that lasts forever." He declared, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life" (John 8:12).

In June 2005, I was 5 or 6 weeks pregnant. I was at my office, and, every expectant mother's worst nightmare, I started bleeding. I remember driving to the doctor's office for an injection and sonogram, tears running down my face, just praying, "Please let her be OK" over and over (for I knew even then I was carrying my little girl). I lay on the table as the technician put the cold gel over my abdomen and then began to press down with the ultrasound equipment.

She searched for a few moments, some of the longest moments of my life, and then said, "There!" As I looked at the screen, I saw a tiny light, flickering on and off, steadily. "See that light? That's the heartbeat. Your baby looks just fine."

My "baby" really looked like the tiniest blob, a small grouping of cells and tissue. But in the center of it, was that light, blinking regularly. The technician took a picture of it and told me to go home and rest. That picture is one of my treasured possessions.

And...on a cold night the following December, a little unexpectedly and kind of in a hurry, that little light joined our family. We named her Elaine, a French name that means "Light." She has lit up our little family for two years now, and we thank God--the author and creator of Light both immense as the Sun and as tiny as a newly formed heartbeat--for our precious girl.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17
Happy birthday, sweet little Elaine. I love you!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


For awhile now, Lucy's had the corner on the talking market at this house. Not for long though, because Little Sister is catching up. Each day we hear more and more of that froggy voice saying increasing and increasingly complicated words. Darren and I go around thinking up as many "why" questions as we can to ask her just so we can hear her say, "Because." (Or sometimes she steps it up to, "Because why.") Whenever there's trouble and I say, "What's going on, girls?" she comes back quickly with "Lucy did it."

She can say three-word sentences and sometimes will even combine a couple sentences. One of my favorite things is when she sits down and looks through her books. She'll come across Maisy Makes Gingerbread, which she ripped up in boredom one day (apparently the wallpaper had lost its lure that time), and I taped back together. Without fail, she'll hold the book up and say, "Uh-oh. I ripped it. No, No, Laine!"

Usually though, she practices economy with her words. She's kind of like a drill sergeant, or maybe more like a doctor. We're never in doubt about what she wants. Whenever I change her diaper, just picture a surgeon saying, "Scalpel. Clamp. Light" only replace the surgeon with a two-year-old saying, "Wipes. Diaper. Medicine. Powder."

I had a bad night last night and still wasn't feeling steady this morning, so I stayed home. Darren said, "I don't see any reason why Elaine should go to church either if you're at home," so she stayed with me. (Funny, because I could--so I could go back to bed? matter.) As I got her dressed for the day, I said, "Do you want to stay home with Mom?" "No." "Do you want to go to church with Dad and Lucy?" "No."

"Well, if you don't want to stay home with me and you don't want to go with Daddy, what do you want to do?"


Alrighty then.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Golden Compass

I've been getting emails and seeing news articles calling for a boycott on the upcoming movie, "The Golden Compass," based on the book by the same name by Philip Pullman. It is part of Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. One thing that discourages me from the outset is that Christians don't usually seem to get outraged unless a movie comes out--books fly under our radar for the most part apparently (Harry Potter notwithstanding). Pullman's books have been out for a number of years. They're well-written. They're not what I believe, obviously, since he's an atheist and the ultimate goal for the children in the books is to kill God, who turns out to be an old imposter who is barely worth killing anyway.

In my personal opinion, mass boycotts are kind of ineffective. Waiting for hysteria and outrage to build and then be told by Christian authority figures what to do--that's not really my style. As well, boycotts just seem to draw more attention to a given movie than it would have garnered in the first place (Exhibit A: 1986's "Last Temptation of Christ"). But...every person has to decide according to the dictates of his or her conscience.

It also surprises me when Christians get enraged and boycott movies dealing with heresy or blasphemy but don't seem to have much problem with other movies loaded with violence, humanism, or other kinds of Godlessness, but I guess that's a different argument.

Personally, we won't be taking our girls to see the movie. First of all, they're way too young and neither Curious George nor Strawberry Shortcake is appearing in it, so it wouldn't hold their interest at all. Secondly, at this age, we still act as the filter and control for most of what goes into their minds, and I just want to give them Bible truth rather than other world views. Time enough for them to find out about some of those later.

But...if they were older and they asked me what I thought personally about Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and/or this movie, I guess I'd say the following:

In the last volume of the trilogy, a character known as Dr. Mary Malone explains her discovery to the two children/protagonists, Lyra and Will: "I used to be a nun, you see. I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn't any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway. The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all."

A lot of people, intelligent people, believe that way, girls. But in C.S. Lewis's (who Pullman loathes) "The Silver Chair," Puddleglum the Marshwiggle and two children are trapped in a wicked witch’s underground lair, and she is slowly enchanting them, persuading them to believe that there is no world above the ground. They almost fall completely under her spell when Puddleglum stamps out her fire (burning his foot in the process) and says:

“One word, Ma’am” he said coming back from the fire; limping because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Maybe if you put some tinsel on it...

This past Saturday, I took the girls to a KinderMusik demonstration done by two of my friends, Becky and Kathi. Actually on Friday while I was at work, Lucy helped Becky and Kathi set up for it (they assured me that indeed she was a help, and I am choosing to believe them). KinderMusik is a great program, which allows children from 9 mos. to 7 years to join. Their claim is that by 3 years, not only will your child be reading music, they'll be composing. I choose to believe that too, though I would just enroll my kids for fun and hope they learn to sing "Kooka-burra Sits In the Old Gum Tree" because I'm all about low expectations like that. Anyway, they got to try out musical instruments to their hearts' content (cool instruments such as egg shakers, triangles, and sandpaper blocks), identify sounds, listen to a story, sing with motions, and march around the room.
By the time we left, the storm that was promised had started, so we got home quickly. I thought it would be a good afternoon to work on the gingerbread house kit my dad bought the girls at Thanksgiving. Lucy has been begging me every day. It was surprisingly easy. Lucy had a wonderful time decorating it. Elaine was under the mistaken impression that we were opening up a box of cookies and bags of candy so that we could sit down and eat them. So...not as good of a time for her.
The finished product:

And here is Lucy admiring her handiwork and Smoochie plotting one last effort to swipe at least some of the frosting...

Oh, and while I was gone at one point during the weekend, this transformation took place. Here is my mantle as it is currently decorated for Christmas (the picture is a year-round decoration).

And here is my mantle when I came home. (It's deer-hunting season, y'all.)

Nice try, dude. But...back to the basement with that thing.