Friday, December 31, 2010


I'm not a "baby person", but I've gotta say, my new nephew is a sweetie. Well, you know, they're all sweeties when they're sleeping. Aren't they? But when he's not hungry, or eating or pooping, he's really quite charming.As I suspected, the kids weren't particularly interested in their new cousin, except in small, small doses. When they bothered to pay attention to him, it was very cute, but that wasn't often really.Lucas is only four months old, so he doesn't do a whole lot yet. By the time we get to see Lucas and SPENCER again maybe they'll find him more interesting.

And look! It's almost next year already. Tomorrow it'll be time to start packing up the Christmas decorations. It usually makes me sad. But I'm kind of looking forward to getting the holidays behind me...even if they were a lot of fun.

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas! It didn't feel quite so merry when Lucas woke up at 3am. And it was even less merry for Aunt Karen when Lucas proceeded to puke all over and need a full clothing change. It didn't feel quite as merry as I would have liked when my own kids got up at 5:30 either. We convinced them to go back to bed. At 7:30, my parents, who had decided we must be to busy to call (or something) just showed up and everyone had to get up...for the old people. Huh.Naturally, the rip-fest started shortly thereafter and didn't end 'til every package was open. In a big shocker, Smunch got a lot of San Francisco Giants merchandise, including World Series videos, a framed photograph or two and a throw blanket. He even got a life-sized Tim Lincecum sticker for his wall...and a more-than-life-sized sticker of himself batting. I was happily suprised that Mam was overjoyed to get a few Zhu Zhu pets. I didn't know she even knew what they were! She also loved her new ladybug-themed bedding.A neighbor of mine had dropped off about a pound of fresh pecans that he'd gotten for the holidays. Oh gosh, how awesome. And they were even more awesome when used in our Christmas cinnamon pullapart. I always make this when Aunt Karen is here, but it's so darned good that I've taken to making it for Christmas even when it's not.Since we had nine people eating this year, I made some cinnamon roles too.Yeah, I kinda drowned them in cream cheese frosting, so you can barely see them, but they sure were yummy! We had a nice almond coffee ring, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage to go with that. Once breakfast was over, it was time to try out the new toys. SPENCER! had a new Big Wheel from Santa and my kids, of course, had their giant guns.I think these great big guns look especially menacing when wielded by a little blonde-haired ragamuffin in a pretty green Christmas frock.

Daddy got a new toy for Christmas too...a Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter that he can fly with his iPhone. Its first flight wasn't super exciting, but I hear it's been a blast to fly outside.It rained for the rest of the day, so there were no more trips outside and that's just as well. We did NOTHING. And that was nice.

Family Frenzy

Christmas 2010 was one of those special ones where Aunt Karen's family joined us for the holiday. As far as Mam and Smunch are concerned, that means SPENCER! Each day, Mam would ask how many days were left until Christmas. As soon as I told her, she asked, "How many days until Spencer??"

I sent Smunch to baseball camp for most of that first week that they were out of school. It served dual purposes. He was out of the house, so he couldn't fight with hs sister and he has evaluations for spring baseball on January 8th, so I figured he could brush a little rust off while he was there. Mam was supposed to have three days of cooking camp, but only made it to one after coming down with a fever.

No sooner was baseball camp over than SPENCER! arrived with his mom, dad and new baby brother, Lucas. And the holiday free-for-all began. I'd forgotten just how nuts things are with a baby around. There's not a single unusual or bad thing about Lucas, but gosh, he's a BABY! He has to eat and sleep and have his diapers changed. He gave me a nice perspective on my older children at least.

For the most part, my sister and her family stayed with our parents, but the whole crew stayed over at our house on Christmas Eve to wait for Santa. We had a low key dinner with spiral-cut ham, fresh, homemade bran rolls, sweet potatoes and veggies...with cookies for dessert, of course. The kids joined Grandpa on the sofa for The Night Before Christmas before bedtime.Each kid picked out a cookie for Santa and they left a carrot for the reindeer...a really big carrot.All the kids went to bed and my sister and parents unloaded their cars of all the presents they had brought. Soon, the living room was awash in gifts.Fortunately, we arranged for the adults to open their presents that evening or I'm afraid Santa would have had a hard time finding a place for those giant Nerf guns.

My Little Chickadee

Just because I can't keep myself from taking photos of my favorite little backyard birdies.

Holiday Haze

I routinely bite off more than I can chew, but when the holidays roll around, I'm compelled to take things on in a way that might be the equivalent of trying to shove an entire cow in my mouth. I do this by choice, although I always feel like I "have to". I send Christmas/holiday cards, I write a yearly letter to go with those, I make chocolates for all the kids' teachers and speech therapists, I make cookies for all the neighbors and a few lucky friends. And this year, like last year, I hosted a cookie exchange. Only this time it was a fundraiser for the school in addition to being a social event. But that meant I felt compelled to have the house decorated Thanksgiving weekend for the cookie exchange a week later.

It was a lovely little cookie party and the cookies themselves were delicious. I love to look at the photos because all those cookies in one place are just awesome. And I've been led to believe that just looking can't add inches to my hips.I nearly forgot to take the kids to see Santa this year. Hopefully, they wouldn't have let me do that, but you never know. Smunch's faith in the big red man is sketchy at best, so he might not have bothered. And honestly, they didn't want much. They both asked for BIG Nerf guns. Not like the little puny Nerf guns he supplied last year. I hope my sincere (oh, so sincere) lack of enthusiasm for said items made their arrival on Christmas proof positive of Santa's powers.I don't know how I manage to have more friends and neighbors than I have cookies. There were several people I would have loved to give cookies to this year, but they missed out because...I just ran out! And by the time they were finally delivered, on Christmas eve, I was pretty much fried on cookie making and needed to get started on other things like Christmas eve dinner and Christmas brunch. So, there was that. But the cookies that were, this year, they were lovely and fun. I wish the kids had helped more, but it seems more authentic than a bunch of prettily decorated cookies, doesn't it?

December Baseball

Yes. I checked my sanity at the door of the mall, but we all know I lost it earlier than that. Sometime after Thanksgiving I learned that a couple of the San Francisco Giants' players were going to be at a local mall to sign autographs for the first 200 fans on December 5th. I'm not such a psycho that I'd let my kids miss a birthday party or some other important event for something like this, but it so happened that we didn't have anything going on that day. And the guys weren't going to arrive for the signing until 12:30 in the afternoon...after they'd been grand marshals of the San Jose holiday parade.

So, no problem. Get up and go to the 6:30 in the morning. Right? Ick. That's kinda not up my alley, but then again, this is baseball we're talking about! The kids were up for an adventure, so off we went.We arrived before 7am, knowing that once the Giants Dugout opened, they'd be giving out tickets to the first 200 people in line and we'd be free for a little while. We weren't even close to the front of this line. There were at least 50 people in front of us. We probably would've been fine arriving an hour later. But who wants to miss sunrise from the mall?Not Smunch. He sat on the floor, patiently reading a book about Satchel Paige for school.

Fortunately, this mall includes a Starbucks...which opened sometime around 7:30. Eventually, a security guard came around to move the line in a different direction. You can tell from that photograph above that it had formed in front of doors to all the stores. I thought about trying to move it when we showed up, but couldn't be bothered in the end.The line now went from the Dugout store across the hallway, down an entry hall and all the way into the parking structure. We were given our tickets...4 of them...and we were free to roam about the mall. But we didn't do that for long because it soon became clear that we'd lost our spot in line by wandering. We had our tickets, so we were guaranteed autographs, but we'd have to wait even longer for them. We went back to sitting. Lou Seal wandered by for photo ops. That made a great way to kill a few minutes.We had decided earlier that we probably didn't need all four of our tickets, since we didn't have that many items to autograph. I'd made an unfortunate error in purchasing some things at the sporting goods store, so we had more things than we really needed, but still only enough to need three tickets.

(Did I need a replica World Series ticket...for $20??? Uh, no, definitely NOT. Why in the world do I now own such a thing? Smunch wanted it and I'm a sucker. That's why. Oh, and it didn't have a price on it. I never would have considered it at that price, but was too embarrassed to return it once it was rung up.)

Daddy went on a search for someone who looked worthy of an extra ticket. He went towards the back of the line where the tickets had run out. He finally returned, describing someone he thought looked like she could use a ticket...a woman with two boys and no ticket. I went to scout her out. And it turned out that she was another mom from my kids' school and I knew her a little bit. We gave her our extra ticket...only later realizing that we probably hadn't done her any favors. Now she had to stick around and wait for an autograph!

The guests of honor arrived mercifully early and took their seats for the signing. The line moved swiftly and while it was really fun to see these guys up close, one really has to question the sanity of anyone who would sit there that long just for a couple of autographs and maybe a handshake.I think maybe I've lost it. Maybe it'll come back someday. Until then? Well, Smunch has some new autographs on his jersey and a couple of baseballs signed by Andreas Torres and Sergio Romo, World Series Champions.


This year, I bashfully admit, we sorta talked Smunch out of participating in Cub Scouts. I'd hated his first year and after switching dens, Daddy took him for his second year. Daddy loathed it. Smunch liked it, but when push came to shove, he just didn't like it enough to torture his parents into it. We didn't push him to drop out, he just knew we didn't like it and apparently that was good enough for him. Besides, he wanted to play basketball in addition to soccer and baseball, baseball and baseball. It seemed like a lot more than we really needed to sign ourselves up for.

So, what did I do? I went and signed Mam up for Daisies. For those of you as old as I am, Daisies are now the youngest class of Girl Scout. They start in kindergarten and are Daisies through first grade, after which, they become brownies. I never loved Girl Scouts as a child, but I know how much Mam likes to spend time with her friends and I figured it would be good if she had the opportunity to see what it was like, at least. So, we signed up, even though she'd missed the first year.

For the holidays, the Daisy troop first went to Build-A-Bear at the mall. They each stuffed a bear to give away to a child in need. I thought the idea was lovely, but in practice a bunch of 6-year-old girls were a little confused about why they had to give up the bear they'd already fallen in love with...even though it had all been explained to them. And while I was relieved to find out that Mam wouldn't be bringing home another stuffed animal, I thought the whole thing was a little sad, even if it provided a valuable lesson.

Next, I signed Mam up for cookie decorating and caroling around town. She had a grand time decorating cookies with the guidance of Cadet scouts...or maybe they were just Girl Scouts, but the uniforms have changed so much since I was a Girl Scout that I can't tell anymore.Then they went around town caroling. Thank goodness for the Cadets! Most of the Daisies don't read particularly well yet and I'm not sure there was a lot of singing going on on their parts, but it was a fun afternoon for them. There's Mam, right next to "her Sarah". Remember that? Her Sarah appeared in the very first post on this blog. And what do you know, they're still thick as thieves!

Signs of the Season

It's taken me a long time, but I've finally gotten to the point where I don't take my camera with me everywhere anymore. When we do something on a yearly basis or more often, all the pictures look alike after a while. And these are no different. In our town, the Festival of Lights Parade marks the beginning of the Christmas season. It takes place on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It's always crowded and this year it was especially cold as well. But the kids love this event and I just can't bear to disappoint them. I loved this parade as a child too.

The key is to go early and put out chairs to reserve yourself a space. And by early, I mean about 11am for the 6pm parade. You don't have to sit in your chairs. It's the kind of town where you can just leave them there. They'll be there when you get back. Well, we forgot this year and Daddy went down there sometime around 2:30pm and found just enough space for two chairs. And that was good enough. In fact, it turned out to be better than good enough because the kids sat on our laps and kept us warm while we waited for the parade to begin.I looked back at last year's pictures before starting this post and I even took pictures of the very same floats. It's a funny thing, how you can repeat yourself over and over without really realizing it. I guess the same floats are just as whimsical and beautiful year after year.I think a nighttime parade makes for an even better spectacle than one in the daytime. Even the marching bands wear lights on their uniforms and instruments. Everything is sparkly and that much more fun.And then I remember...oh gosh, the holidays are coming and I haven't even gotten started yet. Thank goodness those Christmas photos for the Christmas cards are out of the way!

2010 Out Takes

It has become tradition in our house to spend a few hours on the weekend after Thanksgiving doing a crazy photo shoot for our Christmas cards. It's always kind of a pain and the kids don't really want to get dressed up just to take pictures, but they were really very cooperative this year, especially when the first set didn't turn out well and I hauled them both outside for more. Poor things.

Anyway, these are some of the out takes of our productive photo shoot morning. Enjoy!O.K., that last one wasn't an out take. It made the card, but at least it looks like they had some fun along the way, doesn't it?

Another Season Down

Here it is December 31st. I'm coming to the realization that if I don't get to do some blogging here on New Year's Eve, I will have left much of 2010 behind as my blog moves to 2011. And sometimes that makes me think I should just pack the whole thing in. But there were things that deserved blogging. They really did. The kids' last day of soccer is a prime example.

Although the league canceled a day of soccer games during the season because it looked like rain...but didn't actually rain...they apparently didn't have the heart to cancel the very last games of the season, even though they should have. And that was fine because it made for a really, really funny...if very

Mam's game was first. It was raining before we arrived and didn't let up the entire time. Although the opposing team didn't seem to mind getting wet, Mam's team opted to play in raincoats. I have a feeling Mam would have been happy to get wet, but since everyone else was in a raincoat, she was too.I guess I might've suggested taking her glasses off...or getting her some windshield wipers. I have no idea how well she could see out there!Her team was losing badly by the time they called the game, shortly after the end of the first half. There was really no reason to continue getting bludgeoned in the rain and calling the game gave the girls time to go home and change before heading off to their post-season pizza party.No doubt, Mam finds that kind of fuss entirely overrated.I only dropped Mam off at her pizza party because I had to jet off to Smunch's final game, where he declared he didn't need a water bottle. If he got thirsty, he'd just stick out his tongue. And so he did.Smunch's team was playing with two fewer players than the opposing team, but the boys chose to keep it that way...making it an official game...rather than have two of the other teams' players switch sides, making it a forfeit game. In keeping with this year's theme, the Silver Sharks were fairly well obliterated yet again. But they were proud of themselves and their acting coach (since the head coach was one of the absentees) was proud of their moxie.The Sharks were done just in time for me to pick up my happy and dry Orange Super Monkey and her trophy from the pizza parlor and head home.

The season seemed awfully short this year...probably because most of their games overlapped each other and I probably only saw half of the games for either of the teams. This seems to be where life is headed. Daddy and I, dividing and conquering.