Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Notes from a Winter Wonderland

I've got all sorts of things from the holidays that I'm still planning to post here, but for now, this little Mamism will have to do. Yesterday, we arrived at a somewhat famous ski resort. The kids have never seen more than a few inches of snow, so it was a momentous occasion and the kids were very cute.

Me to Mam: I love you more than anything!

Mam: I love you more than anything except the snow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bring on the Lights

Each year, our town has a ridiculously well-attended parade on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. As an adult, I don't think I'd spent my time or body heat going to the parade, but as a parent, this is an absolute must. The kids just can't miss the Festival of Lights parade and now that Smunch can read, I don't think he'll ever let us miss it again. There are too many fliers and posters about.

Although they changed the rules about saving yourself a spot this year...people used to put out chairs and tape of pieces of sidewalk for themselves days before the event, it didn't help. There was barely a spot left when we arrived nearly an hour before the start of the parade. Still, the kids had fun with glow sticks and running around in the street before the main event. I brought a thermos of hot cocoa, which turned out to be a brilliant idea.As with every year, downtown glittered with lights on the trees and lighted floats on the streets.The wait for Santa may have been a little long for us mere adult mortals, but I suspect it was worth every minute for our little folks. Apparently, excitement can keep you plenty warm!

Giving Thanks...for Pie!

This year, I hosted Thankgiving at our house. It was a seriously low-key event since only my parents joined us. But the six of us had a nice time and ate extraordinarily well. I even managed to roast a decent turkey this improvement over my last endeavor a few years ago. But, of course, I didn't take any pictures of the bird. That's because my specialty when it comes to things like Thanksgiving is pie.

I learned to make pie when I was a preteen living in England, so I have a somewhat British style of doing things. Although I always forgo the lard that I learned to make pie crust with (this year, I used just butter as an experiment, but I usually use shortening), but I still use my hands to "rub" the fat into the flour mixture. I don't know that this is any more efficient than any other method, but I like to get my hands dirty. After learning that way, it feels like the "right" way to make pie crust.

Of course, I had to make the obligatory pumpkin pie. When we were given the opportunity to make whatever we wanted one day in "Cooking", I made a pumpkin pie. They don't have pumpkin pie in England and although I made one fit for a magazine cover, the teacher gave me just 8 out of 10 for mine. I doubt she knew what to make of my flat-centered, shiny creation. I hope she would have seen fit to grade this one higher.My other standard for the holidays is an apple/cranberry pie. I often just throw in some whole berry cranberry sauce, but this year, I opted for fresh cranberries instead. Yummy! I started out with heaps of apples and cranberries.And because I'm just that way, I had to cut cute little apples out of the top and attempt to make it all artistic.It sure looked pretty, but I also learned that cutting such big holes in your crust makes the apples on the top dry out. Good thing I put so many apples in!Yes, we ate dinner before diving into the pies, but really? Who cares about turkey and stuffing??

Flutter By

So much to catch up on, but, of course, I won't be catching up on most of it...ever. There are still a ridiculous number of Christmas cards to be sent and a few presents left to pick up. Thankfully, I'm mostly done with my shopping, thanks to Amazon and a couple of great post-Thanksgiving sales. The chocolates for the teachers are made, but there are still lots of cookies to go, at least in theory. Even the invitations for the baby shower I'm helping to plan went out in the mail my great relief!

Long before Thanksgiving, however, a friend of mine asked me if I'd like to raise some caterpillars. She was on her second or third batch at that point and I thought the kids might have fun watching them grow. She mercifully gave me only five little 'pillars and I lamely forgot to take any pictures of them as they grew. But grow they did and sooner or later, they started hanging from the roof of their little Gladware home.It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the chrysalises were a beautiful greenish, metallic gold color until the butterflies were about ready to emerge, when you could see their black and orange colors through the "skin".Of our five caterpillars, only three made it to full butterflies, the other two turning to chrysalis mush in the container. Still, we had some lovely little butterflies.But after a week of seeing no sign of mating activity (suggesting maybe we only had one gender in there)...and realizing that it was going to become awfully hard to find hollyhock leaves for new caterpillars with winter coming on strong, we chose a sunny afternoon to let our three butterflies flutter away. And that was possibly the most fun part of all!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

For Calibelle

Today the University of Alabama is playing Florida in football. I know what you're thinking. Why do you care??? I don't care. It's true. But Smunch? He cares deeply. I asked him why.

"I care because Austin lives in Alabama!"

So there. See, Calibelle? Your son may not be around here anymore, but he's far from forgotten : )

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


When I was a little girl, I visited my grandparents with my family. In the room where my sister and I stayed, there was a photograph of this beautiful young woman. I didn't find out until much later that it was a photo of my grandmother. By the time I knew her, she was a very short, obese woman who didn't resemble the photo much at all.

My grandmother died of colon cancer at 71. She lived in Texas and I have spent most of my life in California. My parents always considered themselves poor, although I think they really just believed that airplane tickets were a luxury they didn't want to afford. I could probably count the number of visits with my grandparents on one hand. So, I never knew them well. But the photo stuck with me.

When my grandfather died, many years later, I made sure I went to his funeral and helped my mom clean out his house. He was my last living grandparent, but I didn't really know or like him a whole lot. Mostly, I went to Texas just to find this photo. It was the one thing of my grandfather's that I really, really wanted. I picked up a few other things while I was there, but I was mostly sorry to have brought back a sofa, a coffee table and a wing-backed chair. The photo, I've never regretted.

Today, one of my very favorite things to do is ask Smuch who this is a picture of...the picture of the beautiful young woman. He never fails me. "You?" he says.

Catch up

It's been almost a month since I've posted anything. It's not really that I've been so busy. I'm busy a lot and still manage to make time to post things. I think it's mostly been a big case of the blahs. For instance, it's nice to have the kids back at school this week, but BLAH, I'm struggling to enjoy the routine of drop-offs, pick-ups, speech therapy, swimming, gymnastics and baseball sign-ups. I'm really looking forward to baseball season. Sounds like we'll have the same great coaches (including my dad) that we did last year and that means a lot of great moms for me to hang out with too. These are the same fantastic women who got me interested in being on the PTA board...not by recruiting me, just by being cool people who I'd like to know.

And, oh yeah, PTA board. My partner in crime and I need to figure out what the heck the "Spring Event" is...'cause we're in charge of putting it on in May. By all indications, it's going to be a relatively low-key affair.

And then there are the baby shower invitations I need to order for one of my bestest, oldest friends in the world (we met in kindergarten). And the Christmas cards. And that holiday letter I have yet to write. I don't think I've even got paper for it. *sigh*

I even got a little bit of paying work today...which adds to the load, but it's still really good news. I'm always thrilled to have a little work to do on the side...something that makes me feel like I'm contributing, even though my November invoice would barely pay for dinner out at Chevy's.

Anyhoo. I'll be back. I swear. I've got a cute little post planned and some pictures to post. And PIES. Of course. : )