“My family told me to stop telling Thanksgiving jokes, but I said I couldn’t quit cold turkey.”

Let’s discuss Thanksgiving before Dececmber zooms by and I’m posting a delayed Christmas recap. I’ve been delivering late recaps since 2009 and honestly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

We had a small Thanksgiving with Christopher’s family. We played endless games, ate so much and went on boat rides in the lake. Annabelle had a great time.
She kayaked for the first time and took to riding a bike without training wheels like a fish to water. We’ve been encouraging her to do it at home but she was too nervous. At Oma’s, she didn’t have the option to ride with training wheels and she took off down the road like a pro. Remember when I pushed her around town in the stroller when she was 6lbs? Now she’s riding a bike and will be publishing a book on global economics next week.I loved seeing her with her cousins. I grew up near almost all 12 of my cousins and saw them all the time. It’s one of the disappointments of my life that she doesn’t get to grow up near her cousins so any time spent with them is special. It’s rude how big they’ve all gotten. We mostly hung out at the house but we did go to a beautiful lights display at NASA. “Wow, Mama! I get to sit on the moon!”I didn’t know seeing the moon behind a real rocket was missing from my life but now that hole is filled and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Speaking of filling a hole in my heart, Stephanie gave me an”antiqe” phone and I am so tickled. I don’t like calling people I don’t know but I will happily call the insurance company just so I can use it.

things were good in her ‘hood

I am not a fan of Halloween and have not one Halloween decoration to my name. We tend to stick with general fall-themed decor. Annabelle mentioned off-handily that it would be funny if a friendly ghost was pretending to play our electric keyboard. I used two vacuums, a drum and cloth pumpkin a little magic to create a piano-playing ghost. When we got home from school, I turned the piano on so it would play an assortment of classical hits and jazzy tunes. Then I used the vacuum to clean the rug so not only was it decorative, it was useful.

I broke one of my cardinal parenting rules this Halloween. I’ve always said that AB can’t change her mind on a Halloween costume after October 1st unless she wants to wear something in the dress-up basket. Usually, I make her costumes and I need plenty of time to cut and stitch and hot glue gun my fingers. This year she said she wanted to be a bat which, to no one’s surprise, did not thrill me at all. I longed for the days of costumes with tutus and wings. I hadn’t started making the bat costume yet when she switched to Little Red Riding Hood. It was a surprising choice since she’s never mentioned liking Red, but she was listening to her podcast about fairy tales and decided to vote for Little R. R. Hood 2020. I hand sewed the apron while watching Netflix, much like Caroline Ingalls did in ye olden days of the 1800’s. The hairdresser told me that “they” might cancel Halloween this year. Normally I wouldn’t care but I did not want AB to miss out on another thing this year. Whoever “they” are could knock on my door and try handing out a cease and desist order, but gosh darn it she was going to have a chance to dress up.  I didn’t think it was any more dangerous than taking her to the grocery store. We went to an outdoor trunk or treat at church and she skipped around the building ”like Red Riding Hood does.” It was precious. When we went to a few houses that night, she kept asking that we stay back while she went to the door. Then she’d get nervous and turn around every two steps on the way to the door turning around to make sure we were still there. She repeatably walked into bushes and shrubs because she was too busy looking behind her. Little Hood isn’t ready to be out in the woods by herself.

bits and pieces

The kitchen remodel project is nearing it’s end and I love how it looks. Painting the walls has been harder to do because Belle Belle has been very clingy and we had to establish a schedule of when we can play together and when I need to work.

I had a friend’s 13yo daughter come over as a mother’s helper for one afternoon. She had never been over before and AB was a little nervous about it. I checked on her in bed the night before and she was holding her little mirror and practicing what she would say. “Hi, Reagan. Would you like to play with clay? Hi, Reagan. Thank you for coming over. Mom, I don’t think that was right. Did I sound friendly?” At least she always got her name right. Our neighbor’s name is Kennedy and I kept calling Reagan the neighbor’s name. I knew it was a president’s name!
When Reagan did arrive, Annabelle had so much fun. She loves any new person to entertain with her endless stories and ridiculous questions. Reagan had just finished a safe sitter class so she asked me all the questions the teacher recommended. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to being on the mom side of the fence instead of the babysitter side. Her mom was thrilled that I asked for Reagan’s help. She texted me and said, “Thank you for giving Reagan this opportunity!” You’re thanking me? THANK YOU for giving me three hours to paint without disruption. I will be happy to give her the opportunity at any time. It’s crazy to think that in 7 years, AB might be the one I’m dropping off to be a mother’s helper. I need to go breathe into a paper bag. 

We watched one of AB’s little friend’s yesterday. They get along fine but have vastly different interests. He can explain Minecraft and legos. She asked him if he knows what types of food they eat in Bulgaria then several hours later asked if he wanted to waltz. He did not. It made me laugh so hard.

The fourth of July has always been one of my very favorite holidays but this year but so different. I know it wasn’t normal for anyone and it didn’t seem like a celebratory day. We did a few things at home and I did grocery shopping like any normal Saturday. There were no parades, no cookouts, and no big fireworks displays. We have no family nearby to visit. We did make star and flag sugar cookies while listening to patriotic music which was nice. Christopher and Annabelle picked out sparklers and little fireworks so we had a little show in our driveway. Our favorite was the one that shot out a little parashooter. 

AB gave me a lesson on how to do the throw poppers so they popped properly. She called them “popper-its.” She knows how to waltz and set off fireworks. There’s nothing she doesn’t do!

our best guy

We celebrated our best guy on Father’s Day with a day trip out of town. We went to the park to play in the rocky river, got lunch from Jason’s Deli and swung by Aldi. Aldi is the dream destination of fathers everywhere!
I had a small logistical problem with Christopher’s Father’s Day gift. Namely, I forgot to order one in time for a Father’s Day arrival. I actually had two problems. The second is I didn’t realize it was being shipped from a questionable source in China, therefore I may have ordered a personalized box for coronavirus for twenty-five American dollars. 

Annabelle wanted to send herself to Christopher in the mail, but the closest we could get to that was her hiding in a suitcase outside the front door. She was so excited about it she couldn’t wait until Sunday to arrive. 

Annabelle and I have Mama and Sesame sleepovers in the living room every few months. She’s been wanting to have a sleepover with Christopher for a few weeks and they finally did it last night. I told Christopher she would want to talk for a while before going to sleep and he said it would be no problem. Before she and I knew what was happening, he was snoring away. I don’t think he made it through the first story. The dude can’t handle the sleepover scene!

Our church is doing virtual VBS this year. The children’s director made huge boxes for each child with snacks, craft supplies and lessons for each day of the week. She put so much effort into it. We made a tie-dye shirt the first day and got as much dye on our hands as on the shirt. 

On one of the days, we were talking about prayer and how we can talk to God about anything. She had several cards to fill in that said “God, thank you for ______,” “God, please help my friend ______,” etc. Her answer for the card that said “God, please help me______” cracked me up. She wrote, “please help me with my disappearing act.” We did talk about praying for anything!

We also prayed that we were thankful for Dad. He snores, is unobservant and says things that make us both roll our eyes, but he’s the best dad around.

Corona Easter

Like everyone else across the world, we celebrated Easter from our couch. Quite honestly, I was not in a celebratory mood. I told Christopher on Saturday that I wanted to cancel Easter all together but that wouldn’t have been fair to AB. I knew Easter was coming but I thought it was later in the month so I hadn’t bought anything to put in Easter eggs. On Saturday a friend dropped off a plant for me, a bag of chocolates and a few little activities for Annabelle. One of the activities was a Harry Potter book with little Lego character. Before I gave her the book I took the Lego off and hid it in my purse. We put one lego piece in each of the first eggs and a chocolate egg in the others. Jesus may have saved the world but AB’s 6-year-old friend saved her easter egg gifts. I was prepared for her easter basket. I picked up some outdoor play dishes from Target that say let’s play in my mud kitchen and two magic glow in the dark pens. 
This flower cross was outside our church. Please refer back to when
I said I forgot about Easter so we did not contribute any flowers.  

I asked that everyone dress up as if we were going to church. Just because we weren’t going anywhere didn’t mean we should dress like hobos. Plus there’s only a limited number of years left where Annabelle will willingly wear smocked dresses so I need to milk it for all it’s worth. There was a small part of me that was sad the old ladies at church couldn’t see how cute she looked but we’ve all had to give up something and I can give up compliments for a few weeks longer. 
Christopher hid the eggs as usual and as usual Sesame Pie missed the most obvious ones. 
We did a video chat with several of my relatives across six states and three time zones. It was a feat of modern technology that we were all together. We had 14 different screens to keep track of and the connections were going in and out so it was a lot of talking over each other, but that made it seem like holidays back home.

Last, but certainly not least, Annabelle and I revealed the latest trick we pulled on Christopher. We’re always trying to trick him and it usually looks like Annabelle giving him room temperature coke or hiding his socks. I appreciate her enthusiasm but we needed to up the game a bit. A few weeks ago we saw a car with huge eyelashes attached to the headlights. We giggled about how funny it would be to put eyelashes on Christopher’s car and thus was born our next trick. I didn’t buy the 3d lashes because they were over $30 and we have a small trick budget. I got eyelash decals instead which did not pack the same punch but I didn’t want to waste the $8.97 I paid. I put them on last Sunday and all week AB and I had conversations about whether or not he saw them. To be fair they are very small and subtle, but I guarantee you I’d have noticed them on my car within the first 36 hours. Part of me wanted to see how many weeks we could make it but we decided to tell him on after Easter dinner.
We each stood on one side of the light and made comments like “How’s your car?” “Do you need a car wash?” He noticed right away and we could not stop laughing. “We got him, Mama! We got him!” He said. “I’ve been going to Home Depot and feeling manly all week and this whole time I had eyelashes on my car?!” 

I don’t want to repeat a quarantined Easter but pranking Christopher seems like a good tradition to keep alive.

Christmas Past

It’s been fourteen days since Christmas and I’m finally getting around to blogging about the holidays. I haven’t posted about the holidays on time for the last five years and I don’t see that changing in the years to come. 

We celebrated our family Christmas the Sunday before Christmas. We went to church in the morning, swung by CVS because nothing screams festive like a three-foot long receipt and opened our gifts after lunch. I had all the gifts we were bringing on our trip separate from the gifts that still needed to be mailed separate from the gifts we would be opening that day. To me, they were organized as each group had its own wrapping paper. To the uneducated, it was a jumble of gifts and the labels on some had fallen off. Thanks to this clear as mud system, half the opening time was spent having conversations about not opening the wrong gifts. Christopher and Annabelle gave me a Downton Abby bell. I knew they had gotten it because AB kept telling me, “Mama, you’re going to love what we gave you. I can’t tell you what it is, but it starts with a B and came all the way from England. I’ve never seen anything that came from England!” Sometimes she’d go so far as to add “It goes ding ding!” 
Lucy keeps climbing up the tree so the angel is constantly crooked.

The next morning we blissfully and ignorantly set out on what was to become a horrific travel day. The plane that was supposed to leave at 6:21 in the morning wasn’t there because nobody remembered to fly it in. This is a tiny airport that only has two flights at exactly the same time every day. It’s wasn’t as if the flight was a surprise. When the plane finally arrived hours late, we were delayed waiting for flight plan and gas approval. Just as we got started taxiing down the runway, there was a thud at the front of the plane. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be experiencing a small delay. The wheels on the front of the plane fell off and maintenance will have to come look at it.” Merry Christmas, everyone! We were about to take off in a plane with wheel issues! A while later, “Ladies and gentlemen, maintenance has suggested we turn the engine off for about five minutes then turn it back on.” I’m no plane expert, but I know WITHOUT A DOUBT that turning it on and off won’t fix a wheel that fell off. The plane was towed back to the airport where we all deboarded and Delta was flooded with calls from upset customers. The people at the desk didn’t know what to do besides call in backup maintenance from an hour away. They wouldn’t give us access to our gate-checked bag so Christopher couldn’t get his keys and we couldn’t leave for lunch. We could see the spot under the plane where the bag was so I almost skipped out there and grabbed it myself. 
This whole time we were barely 20 minutes from home but we couldn’t leave the airport. Several hours later, a plane sent to rescue us appeared like an angel from the heavens. The pilots from the new plane walked in and wondered why no one was on the runway to greet them and why they didn’t hear anything from air traffic control. None of the workers at the tiny airport knew the rescue plane was coming. They were completely clueless. God bless the pilot who looked like a Hallmark actor for rescuing us. If not for him we’d still be in that tiny waiting area. 

What felt like years later, we made it to Williamsburg. Annabelle was THRILLED to be with the cousins. Ever since she listened to the Kirsten stories she’s wanted to do a Saint Lucia day celebration. Stephanie happened to find a white dress with red sash is exactly the style Saint Lucia wore. The girls went along with AB’s idea and they brought us milk and cookies. Seeing them together was one of my favorite parts of the trip.