December 30, 2009

Post-it notes from Santa

Well we had a lovely Christmas and I must report that I believe I successfully pulled of the goal of not overdoing it this Christmas. We kept warning the older kids not to expect much. I think Middle Boy was especially worried when he saw me stashing a bag away and I told him not to look, but he caught a glimpse of post-it notes and started to worry that by 'practical Christmas' we meant no toys at all. Visions of office supplies did not really dance in his head. So he was extra happy with his dart gun. And it is one large dart gun! He has been tormenting us with it since about 7:45am on the 25th of December.

I would give a run down of what everyone else got but I will save it for later. Pictures mean a thousand times more than my words do anyways. Especially when one spends nearly a thousand on a new Nikkon D90 for oneself for Christmas 2009-2015. Those photos in my last post were taken with that snazzy camera and I gotta say the snowflakes showed up amazingly well! They better, gosh dangit! Now I just have to figure how to make them nice and big for the blog. I think that is only for professionals though. My title alone sets me off as no professional. Still- expect better photos.

Next up we are planning a little vacation away from the cold. Someone recommended this place while we stay in Orlando....

It's called Gatorland and doesn't that little girl look like she is having the time of her life? I would be content to keep reliving my childhood by going to the Magic Kingdom over and over every 3-4 years with our kids, but when you have a 15 year old boy feeding live chickens to gators sounds more appealing. Poor Little and Baby Girls will have to suffer and have therapy over it one day I am certain. Also, T grew up camping (only) for vacations so he sees no real value in Disney. Once you have gone you have no need to go back ever again according to him. Whatever! I still get misty every time I see that blue castle up close and in real life. Of coarse that is especially when I have just had a baby and am really hormonal. TMI?

Wish me luck in Gatorland. I am sure to tell a gushinglly good tale when I return that will bring non-hormonal tears to one and all. Happy New Year!

(that ain't no post-it note)

December 23, 2009

A Quiet Storm

Dear Snow,
You were so welcomed on my street last Saturday. All 22 inches of you. Yes. I had 4 things on the calendar for the day. What I was wishing for was some quiet time at home with my family. Thanks to you, everything was cancelled and that's exactly what I got! Time to enjoy each other and slow things down without any hassles of the season beating down my door. So, thanks! Thanks for coming! And thanks for not taking the power out like during the big storm of '03. That was the year I brought my 2-day-old new baby girl home right as your flurries were just beginning. We were without power or plowing for several days. No heat with a newborn was not pleasant. Thanks to a good fireplace we survived just fine though.

Thanks for coming during a winter (and a weekend) when T was home to shovel, and shovel and shovel. Seriously- lots of shoveling! So glad we could enjoy the snow together, shoveling, making snow angels, sledding, etc. We then enjoyed a pay-per-view movie and hot cocoa. Well- enjoyed may be stating it a bit to strongly. It was the Pink Panther 2 and that was not the best movie, but the teenagers enjoyed it I guess. And when the teens are happy, the entire house is happier.

I hear you are coming back for a repeat performance on Chirstmas day. I will remember to get the milk and then you can come again any time! Now if I could just find a private place to start on the wrapping since the kids have been home from school for 3 days. I may have to set up shop in the garage.
Take care,

December 17, 2009

Holiday Ramble

I have been so busy lately that my head is spinning. I am waking up feeling stressed and disorganized and the last thing I should be doing is blogging. I need to get my thoughts out though. Just where to start is the problem... So I shall do as I have many times before on this blog and ramble until I feel like my mental itch has been scratched. Then I plan on taking a 10 minute power nap before the kids get home and I have to start baking a lot of goodies. My bet is that the kids will take precedence over the baking like the past 3 days, but we'll see....

On with my ramble-fest. My Christmas cards are in the works but the photo I ordered is pretty bad. The quality just isn't great. I hope those of you who are used to getting better from us will understand. It's hard to get a good shot every year. And as long as I am making excuses, the letter is not a masterpiece either. T is not motivated, and I am too busy. Sorry. I'm behind on sewing, photo album making, baking, and wrapping- you name it and I haven't done it yet.

Frustration with kids losing things seems to be the theme for our month. First Little Boy misplaced his violin bow. He accidentally left the violin at the elementary school overnight and when he brought it home the next day the bow was missing. Sigh! It's a rental too. Poor kid was so stressed out that I didn't have the heart to be upset with him. Especially not when I have lost my keys multiple times myself in the past two weeks. Luckily both have been found- bow and keys. Then Middle Boy reported that he lost his 100.00 calculator. The one they loan from the school that they make your parents sign a note saying it will be paid for if lost. Yes, that one. It's been looked for, prayed about, looked for some more- not found yet. Guess it's just going to test our faith- and possibly his pocketbook. I told him that may be what he gets for Christmas this year.

Big Boy just had to join us and lose his violin shoulder rest this week. The sad sad thing about this is that since September he has managed to lose or break two previous shoulder rests. I even bought him a new violin case that would hold the shoulder rest to avoid the problems we were having. I guess a new case won't instantly make him responsible enough to put the darn thing inside it though. So now we are on shoulder rest number 4 (an extra we had that he couldn't stand- he is no longer complaining about that one now-strange). I was seeing red over this last night. I would have been more sympathetic if he would have just stopped reading his book long enough to have a conversation with me about it. It's his second big mistake this week since he crashed my ancient ceramic nativity set during a pillow fight and tried to cover it up. Merry Christmas Mom! HELP me!

One piece of good violin news though is that Little Boy confided in me last night on our way to cub scouts, that he is really glad that he is taking violin lessons. He "really likes it." That is what a good teacher will do I suppose. The clerk at the violin rental store was right- "that teacher is worth every penny." And she gets a lot of our pennies- each month.

I have been working on a gift for T that has been so emotionally draining that I think I better stop and do something else for a few days. I have been cutting and pasting past emails from our family and T back and forth from when he was in Iraq for 6 months. Reading those emails is taking me back to last winter and how tough it was. I walk around like a zombie after reading, wondering how I ever did that. I am not alone this Christmas and still I feel totally swamped. I must have had heavenly help. Heaven knows there was no physical help around (at least not with the daily grind). My email novel Is 122 pages long! (That's a lotta love). I went for more ink today and we're about to go to press.

Well that ought to brighten your day after reading all my woes! Hope you are all coping well with the stress of the season. I am going to try and slow down and enjoy it more. Happy holidays : )

December 12, 2009

Naughty or Nice?

During my recent visit to Utah for my sister's wedding I had the chance to be present during a priesthood blessing. My sister visited my parent's house the morning before her wedding day and asked my father for a blessing. It was nice. He is a good father and loves his children that is clear. I was happy for my sister. Then he did something that took me back more than one would expect. He came over to me, took my face in his hands and looked deep into my eyes. He then said to me in his most serious voice. "You are a good person." At forty years old I wouldn't have expected that to mean so much. Approval from one's parents at that point in time would seem like gravy and not the main dish. But I think a daughter always needs to hear that she is loved and approved of by her father. Especially when her political views have strayed from what he raised her to believe. So when he said this, I teared up a bit.

A few days later I sat at the kitchen table chatting about this and that with him. The conversation was nothing deep. It turned to his health and the recent diet shots he's been on to lose weight. He was proposing that he may suggest the shots to another sister who is overweight. Knowing him as I do, I know that his tact levels are low. Very low. So I merely suggested that he take care in how he suggested those shots. "Tell her how much you love her and want her to be healthy and happy- don't tell her she's looking like a fat cow." (She doesn't btw- I'm just making a point.) A point which my father did not appreciate. Perhaps my tact levels are low too. By the end of that conversation he had laid into me pretty hard about how a 40 year old doesn't know as much as an 80 year old and should not be giving such advice... yada, yada, yada. I wanted to cry now for another reason. But not really. I just felt misunderstood. Something my Dad probably feels quite often.

So I don't know what I am. Am I a good person? Am I a know it all who can't keep her mouth shut? I am not quite sure, but I know where I possibly learned both of these personality traits.

From my father.

December 09, 2009

Christmas Draft

(The following letter was not sent. It was a first attempt and when I went back to improve upon it I had lost it. Just found it tonight in my blog archives... Better late late then never I guess! Happy 2010)

Tagg Tales 2009

The big news for us this year was that T arrived home from Iraq in April 2009 after 6 months away. We have been so happy to be together as a complete family once again. I often remind myself when he is working late at night, that at least he is coming home. We grew in ways while he was away that could not have happened any other way, but we are glad it’s over. T says he has PTSD now, which in his case stands for pre-traumatic stress disorder. In other words, he never wants to have to deploy again. This makes it pretty easy for us to decide what to do when our commitment to the army is up in 2.5 years. We will be getting out of the military. So if you know of any job openings for a very nice neuro opthamologist, please let us know. While T was deployed, he worked out and ton and read books that he had always wanted to read. He now has big muscles and can quote from David Copperfield if you like. Perhaps we should put that on his resume.

Kelly: I am just doing the same Kelly things I do every year. This year I have added yoga to my list in order to remain calm and healthier as a busy mother of 5. I keep losing and gaining the same 4.5 lbs…. so rewarding!

Big Boy: is a sophomore at S______ high school and will soon be driving so that is really really scary for us all. We’d say come and visit us in DC but perhaps you should wait until he is a bit more experienced on the roads. Big Boy is still playing violin and running XC for his high school. He is a very nice young man. Big Boy got braces this year, after all this expense we think we will keep him. We love Big Boy.

Middle Boy: is 13. He is very cool. He has good friends. He smells great! He likes to skateboard and play lacrosse. He is good at predicting the weather, poking his brother during dinnertime, and rolling his eyes at most everything his sister says. He is learning Spanish. He hates walking the dog. However, we love him and will keep him too.

Little Boy: is'D____" at home but "A______" at school. We cannot explain this. He has some serious orthodontic work ahead. His skills include being funny with Big Boy, playing violin, doting on his baby sister and trying (usually unsuccessfully), to get the dog to obey his commands. He is a smarty-pants and it’s not bragging if you can back it up so just call his teacher if you don’t believe me. Little Boy also plays baseball, soccer and lacrosse. His mom makes him. We love our feisty red-headed #3 son!

Big GIrl: Feels things- deeply. She is our first girl so we are still learning how to deal with this. Sometimes we fail. Big Girl is adorable (see photo-not bragging). She likes doing things for people. She is starting to wear shirts that are bedazzled. Her mom finds this a little disturbing. She loves her family and is especially glad to have her Daddy home this year. She is a girl-scout and sells a mean tasting thin mint! Big Girl has a testimony. Big Girl is a crafty artist. We love her a big bunch! She wants me to add that she would like a Barbie styling head for Christmas. Pass it along!

Baby Girl. It’s a good thing Baby Girl is our last child because this letter is already too long and I hate to change font sizes. Baby Girl is a real entertainer. Everything she says is funny because she can’t say things well yet. She is a heart melter and a temper tantrum all rolled into one. She likes to be on the go. She will try most any food if you ignore her long enough- but try and convince her to eat and you are in for a long fight people. She is now potty trained and we are all very proud of that. She is an independent cutie and we are glad she found her way to our home. We adore her.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to one and all! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Christmas Photos

Can you please help me choose a photo for our Christmas cards this year? Just tell me photo one, two, three, four or five...


December 06, 2009

It's Happened

It's happened... The day I dread in the Christmas Season. The day when, much too early, I receive the first Christmas card of the year. The day when from here on out I feel the pressure to get it done myself. I thought the first card of the season came a few days ago. As I took the mail from our box I saw the envelope and I cursed the skies. For heaven's sakes it's only the 2nd of December I cried! Turned out it was just a newsletter. Whew- that was a close one. But I knew this day was to come in short order because a friend from the past had requested my zip code on facebook. I thought about unfriending her for this vicious act of being so prompt, thus making us all feel the need to be on top of things as well. Instead I gave her my zip code.

And yes, it was her card that came today. It was a printed off sheet of photos of her twins doing all sorts of things from winning essay contests, catching fish, playing sports of all kinds and showing off the green motorcycle purchased by Jack (age 11?) himself. Oh won't that green machine make my kids green with envy. Almost as envious as their mother is over the fact that Janet is done with her cards and can forget about it from Dec 5th-25th. I am green I say. And not a festive goes-with-red green either!

Well I guess I better stop blogging and boo-hooing about it and get to work. All I can say (and I say this each year) is how are we going to top last year's letter? Too cocky? Sorry!

December 03, 2009

A Conversation With Saint Nick

I found myself in the mall at 11:00am today. I was returning items at Macy's. We passed the Christmas display and noticed that poor Santa was all alone waiting for some child's attention.

In the past my children have been even more than hesitant to sit on Santa's lap. My oldest child in his day even went so far as mispronounce Santa's name as 'Satan.' At 3yrs old I am quite certain he wasn't too familiar with that guy dressed in red. We have often fondly referred to Santa as Satan since then. Perhaps there-in lies our problems with Santa/Satan. Big Boy set quite the example for the rest of the kids to follow by screaming bloody murder and refusing to sit on the big guy's lap at the mall. (see photo above-man I was sure skinnier then...sigh!) So I have been wise never to stand in those long lines with hesitant children ever again.

We have cherished video of a breakfast table conversation with our first little Satan Hater back in 1995. "What will you do when you see Santa's gifts on Christmas morning?" I ask. "I will throw them in the trash!" Big Boy says with commitment. Two scenes later he is trying out his new trike and has forgotten his resolve to cast it aside. Classic!

So four kids later here I am with Little Girl at the mall, and there is no line (thus making it a perfect opportunity for me to test the waters without paying a price). We stroll our way to the gate and I start talking to the big guy in red. I put my head down close to Little Girl and ask if she'd like to say hello to Santa too. She looks nervous. I tell her she can let him know what she wants for Christmas. I am sure she will say a Barbie. She instead whispers to me "tell him I want a Barbie..." We start heading through the tunnel to his chair and she gets really anxious. So I back down and tell her we'll just send him a note. As he sees us walking away I explain to Santa that she's feeling shy. He slides a coloring book through the gate to us even though we never made it to his lap. A few minutes later as we make our way to Macy's, Little Girl has something to say to me. I put my head down to hear her better and she looks upset. Holding her book up to me she says "This not a Barbie..." Another childhood disappointment to add to our long standing tradition with hesitancy and general dislike of old St Nick (at least when up close and personal).

December 01, 2009

Things Get Ruined

Yes they do. Especially around here these days. I have been meaning to get this out on my blog ever since Little Boy, with his Hulkish strength opened a corner cupboard in an angry green fit and broke half the door off. Our corner cupboard now has cereal exposed to the kitchen air and it makes me a bit irritated every time I look at it. It is supposedly unfixable because the local hardware stores don't carry that kind of hinge. We needed new kitchen cupboards anyways. And while we are at it how about some new granite countertops? T promised when we bought this house 16 months ago that a re-do on the kitchen was in the near future. Our bank account just needs to catch up to our dream kitchen. So far we've invested in new appliances, so I am not complaining.

That same Hulk-like power was probably involved when my same aqua monster (Little Boy) broke the light fixture in his bedroom. I think there was a ball involved. I didn't look up to the ceiling fan and notice it until weeks after the incident. You gotta give the boys credit for some quick clean up and a lot of silence. That will be coming out of his allowance. Along with the cost to replace the ripped white shirts and split jeans that guy is going through...

The boring list goes on but not all of them can be blamed on Little Boy. I'm not sure who ruined our light switch downstairs. At least it's been fixed. Big Girl just ruined the stapler (after ripping apart her homework packet for the 2nd time in 10 minutes. Like a Big Girl she was trying to staple it back herself and somehow managed to jam it up requiring patience and a set of needle-nosed pliers from me to get it back in working order. I think six year olds are hard on staplers. Her teacher has several that are in the stapler hospital. Her comment, and this experience after school today has given me the perfect teacher gift idea this year. A gift card to staples with my 'reindeer food' this year. Never heard of reindeer food? In our home it's a combination of cereal, pretzels, nuts and M & M's covered in white chocolate, and it's actually for human consumption.

But back to the things. How could I leave out the kitchen chair that that Little Boy was "just touching" when one of the railings on the back just mysteriously broke in two?! The boy just doesn't know his own strength. Then there's the issue we now have with the dryer due to Big Boy's inattentive closing of sleeves in the door and leaving it to twist and twist until the pressure rips up the seal on the door in the drying/twisting process... ugh! We have also purchased multiple electric pencil sharpeners and more than our fair share of toasters and VCR/DVD players. It's like we have an unlucky cloud over our heads or something. Maybe for Christmas this year we should just buy each other things that are indestructible. Like bricks or anvils. But then I can see a lot of broken toes in our future and I just don't think I can take that.