the real theme here is how many piles I hid to take these pictures

We got our real tree from the tree mecca featured in all Hallmark movies- Home Depot. It was hanging up like a ham at the butcher and didn’t look like it had much potential, but after several shakes, taps, and sniffs I deemed it worthy of our home. Even after all these years, Christopher does not remember my multi-step tree picking process. “Sure, that one looks good. That one is nice too. Whatever you want. Why are you taping it against the ground? What do you mean, the branches will settle?” AB was running laps around the garden center and would have agreed to a pansy as an appropriate tree.

All the morning shows and the BBC have been on me about announcing the 2022 theme tree. Here it is in all its slightly scraggly glory. It is a book tree. It’s in my top three favorite theme trees. I was going to do only books we had read this year, but that would have required a great deal of effort, so it’s a combination of books we read this year and favorite books. We discussed making a library card topper and AB suggested a topper that said “shhh” but there again, time was not on our side. 

Everyone who was within a 150-mile radius of the stable is represented in our nativity scene. Jesus is the size of a middle schooler. He came out the size of his mother.I made the nativity sign at work and we made the wooden houses last year. I was trying to create a little town of Bethlehem.


Buddy and the bamboo forest

Annabelle wanted to dress up as a spy for trunk or treat this year. She assured me this was vastly different from when she was a detective last year even though her costume was virtually the same. She’s always hated her costumes being misidentified (she still talks about when our 90yo neighbor in NY asked if she was a leopard when she was actually a tiger), so we made a tag clearing showing that she was a spy. Nothing screams secretive and on the DL like letting everyone know you’re a spy. Or was it a mind game? Who’s to say.

Our trunk was decorated as a bamboo forest. Elizabeth gave Sesame a stuffed panda named Buddy for Christmas and he was the inspiration behind the forest. There are a few places near our house that have bamboo patches but I didn’t feel like going to jail for trespassing and bamboo thievery nor did I have the courage to ask the owners of said bamboo if I could have some. I bought 10 pool noodles from the dollar store that I was going to spray paint green and attempt to make stand up straight, but low and behold Christopher got real bamboo from someone at work. We had to cut all the leaves off since they would have been dead and shriveled by the night of trick or treat, so I was going to attach alternate leaves back on the morning off. I did not. You know who doesn’t care if you hot glue leaves to bamboo to make the forest more authentic? Six-year-old Iron Man who can’t see through his mask. Or the inflatable dinosaur who can’t get her arms out of her costume to reach the candy basket. The kids did love the stuffed animals. Several of the children wanted to pet them and talk about their stuffed animals.

Annabelle was not interested in me playing games with her in the church parking lot. “I can handle this on my own, Mom. You can go back to Dad.” I cannot handle you doing it on your own! Where are the songs about Halloween heartbreak? Besides, what if I want to play pumpkin ring toss or fish for rubber ducks? I found a different child to play with. Bradley was happy to be seen with me and she even wanted to join our photo. (Christopher wants it to be clear that I know Bradley and Bradley’s mom. I didn’t steal a random child to play with. He always wants that disclaimer for some reason.)

favorite father

Some of Christopher’s great joys in life are researching and learning new information. Leaning into these love languages, AB and I researched facts about Father’s Day and sat him down for a mult-part presentation. Annabelle chose to present from inside a large cardboard box which I hear is where Abraham Lincoln presented all his most stirring speeches.

Sesame also rewrote the words to “Reindeers are Better than People” from Frozen.

“Dad is better than reindeer,
Mom, don’t you think that’s right?
‘Cause reindeer don’t love us and hug us and snug us,
Even though he’s chilly toes*!”

*Christopher likes the thermostat on unacceptable arctic levels so we call him Chilly Toes


It’s very clear that Christopher is the number one guy in our house.

Linus was not pleased to he didn’t make the final cut as the favorite guy in our house. He demands we recount the votes.


On Valentine’s morning, I sent Christopher the following text, “I have diagnosed the dishwasher as potentially having a motor issue. I cleaned the filter and various other things youtube recommended. If that doesn’t work we might need to call Jason to fix it.”

Don’t tell me romance is dead!

Last year I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t help in AB’s class. No one but teachers and students was allowed to set foot beyond the office. I would have been a great addition but alas, I was not wanted. Her hybrid school this year welcomes any and all parental involvement which is how I came to be the parent in charge of the Valentines party. The party lasted barely an hour but I spent nearly five times that cutting paper and preparing activities. I carefully crafted layered paper nametags that were clipped to bags with coordinating colored clothespins. Some children had the audacity to drop their gorgeous tags on the floor or stuff them inside the bag. Kids these days don’t appreciate quality craftsmanship!
For the game, they used tweezers to stack as many candy hearts as they could in 60 seconds.
For our valentines bag craft we made lovebug bags.

Later that night Annabelle asked me, “Why did we only make one lovebug when in real life two lovebugs are always attached together?” I was only signed up to provide a fun party, not teach a reproductive biology class!

December recap, vol. 2

I haven’t talked to you since last year! I used to get such mileage out of saying that as a kid.

When I left off I was overwhelmed and in tears on the floor preparing for our family Christmas, delivering all manner of teacher/friend gifts, sending cards, prepping for AB’s science fair and school party, gathering supplies for Aaron’s wedding, packing for our trip to Massachusetts, making sure we were ready for Christmas in Massachusetts, lining up cat care for while we were gone and popping pain pills. Not much at all! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

We got our real Christmas tree from the Hallmark perfect tree farm of Home Depot. I pretended Sesame was wearing snow boots and mittens instead of a short sleeve shirt. She asked for the fifth year in a row why I tap the tree trunk against the ground before spinning and sniffing it and I told her for the fifth year in a row to TRUST THE PROCESS. You can’t waltz in there and grab the first tree you see.
Our theme tree this year was small kitchen items. HobLob really pulled through with small kitchen items being 70% off when we needed them. If anyone needs tiny hohoho or noel rolling pins let me know. Using the colander at the top instead of a star was Christopher’s idea.

I order all the babies memorial ornaments from a shop on etsy and it sent me into a fit of tears when I saw that the owner had closed her shop. I was so upset that one of the babies would have a different ornament than the other three. I spent hours on etsy looking for an ornament that looked similar enough but couldn’t find one. Christopher suggested sending her a message but she said she closed her shop for “a mental health break” and I didn’t want to bother her. Eventually, I sent her a message and two weeks later I had a matching ornament. I could have kissed her feet. It meant so much to me that she took the time to make one for me.

We made stovetop potpourri jars for our teachers and friends and I gave AB the job of writing the names of the lids. Instead of writing her tutor’s real name, she wrote her job. Tootr. Hence why she has a tutor.

No one tell my child that the elf is supposed to be involved in shenanigans. Our elf hides in the microwave, writes notes on the dry erase board and waits with Ian Major Clark on the backpack. Jingle in a very low-key elf.
The day we left for MA, Annabelle had her first science fair. She learned 10 facts about bluebirds which she presented to the class then set up in the gym for the entire school to see. She was so very proud of her board. Her board looked NOTHING like I suggested. NOTHING AT ALL. I suggested she make a tree and put facts on the leaves. Let’s put the eggs in a nest made of dry grass we gather in the backyard. At the very least let’s put some construction paper behind the index cards. “No thanks, Mom. I’ll do it with my own ideas.”
Actual footage of me watching and trying to be supportive but still wanting her to do it my way. Some children clearly had too much parental input (aka takeover). I didn’t want to run the whole show (or did I?). All I wanted to do was add a small amount of pizzazz.

Immediately before our flight out we went to the class Christmas party. As much as my input was not wanted on the science board, it was welcome given on the gingerbread house. That’s how we ended up with a candy cane heart on the roof.

Father’s Day ’21

The last time I blogged Annabelle was 7. Now she’s 17 with her own license. I told her not to get used to having such a great license photo. She’ll never have one so cute again.
We visited with some of Christopher’s family in Atlanta last week, and one of them remembered about a kids driving course. Annabelle was thrilled to have her own license and drive her own little car. She kept it 10 and 2 and her eyes on the road the whole time. She gets her driving skilz from her mother. That apple stayed very close to the tree.


We celebrated Father’s Day on Saturday. We planned a “pick your own adventure mission” with activities around town. Did I make Christopher pick so I wouldn’t have to decide because I have decision fatigue? Possibly. But it was a fun time. Each card had different options such as “Would you rather explore the art museum, bookstore or library?” “Would you rather get a tasty beverage at Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or a local coffee shop?” “Would you rather walk around the park or the lake?” There isn’t much to do around here but we hit a few of the hot warm spots.

Annabelle added a very confusing component to the mission. She picked one random clue from each place, put them together, and we had to figure out what “they” stole. She wasn’t clear who they were or even how we’d pick the clue, but it made sense in her crazy little head. We were then supposed to go to Walmart or Target and buy the item that matched the clues. The clues were blue, skinny, shapes, and sweet which happened to match Annabelle and what she was wearing at the time. Walmart and Target were fresh out of Annabelles so we stuck with the one we already had.

“You rock! I love you! Nobute cud evr hav a beter papa.” Sesame comes by both her bad spelling and love of her father honestly. Once again, I am the tree and she is my apple.
We failed to take a picture with the man of the hour, but he wouldn’t be the man of the hour without us girls.