The Chocolate Lady

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Chronicles 2007, part 2

After that smokey experience with the pictures, we prepared for Christmas in many ways.....

I wont bore you with recaps of house decorating and
the Christmas tour of lights .

And I wont go over the trip to the mall to see Santa

But I will say that one of the sweetest moments of the Season, was on Christmas Eve, when we let the kids each open one gift. Little One doesnt quite get the whole concept yet, but she did enjoy this moment.....

Opening up her dolly, she tries her darndest to get her out of the box....

So that she can give her a great big hug!

After opening up one gift each, (gifts from Grandma J, because she likes to open gifts early....) we then went to celebrate with our aunt, uncle and cousins.......during our drive to their house they had many false sightings of Rudolph leading the sleigh, and once there, the kids ran around the house quite excited about the impending visit from the Big Guy.

Up next, Christmas morning!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The 2007 Christmas Chronicles, Part 1

Well, where shall we begin?

I guess it would be most appropriate to start at the VERY beginning, and for our family, our holiday gets started with our Christmas photo, which this year was taken the end of October.

For more background on the glorious, annual tradition, known as the Christmas card photo, start here, and see why it's almost always a giant fiasco

So, this year, as you know (if you just read that saga....) we had "formal" pictures taken, pictures that I thought would be indoors, that I specifically asked to be indoors....otherwise Little One would have crawled around in her white tights and gotten dirty......

Only, as you probably read, they were outdoors. Outdoors during the worst day of our worst fire season ever. We could see flames licking from the north and south, and the schools had closed due to poor air quality, ashes were falling from the sky like snowflakes (ok, I realize Im repeating my vent, but, just in case someone didnt read the saga....)

LONG STORY SHORT, my kids' eyes were burning, and you can tell by the severe squinting going on in the pictures. and...long story short, but just one more thing...I paid for a whole sitting, but only got a few pics, because the baby started crying (probably from the burning eyes....)

So, I had a choice between these two that looked ok, because, generally speaking, they had decent posture. But, the squinting was obscene.

The other picture, looked a bit more haphazard, with Little One attempting to make a giant break for it...but Beauty and Pooper looked a teensy, tiny bit less squinty....and in the end, Little One's distress really does convey the memory of the horror of the photo, that's what I picked for our card....

Now, I realize some of you may have expected giant smoke flumes to be in the picture...Ill just say, the gal did a great job of making it look like a clear day. The kids were on a small piece of filthy, white construction paper, which also was the drop behind them. She must have mad photo shop skills because she made it look clean, and you cant tell how thick the air was, except if you ask yourself, "why are those kids squinting?"

And, speaking of Christmas card photos.....when you see the pictures of my kids on Christmas morning, you may have a deja vous moment, as their Christmas pajamas are indeed the same ones from Christmas 2005 My how my cuties have grown!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I realize Christmas is over, and people are ready to move on, already tired of the garland-laced decorations and smell of dead pine, but Im toying with the idea of doing "the Christmas chronicles" on this here blog. You see, My Honey broke down and sold his body, and with the large sums of cash, got me a camera for Christmas (and my birthday and our anniversary)...(and ok, so, not exactly about the selling his body, but he did find an awesome sale, and waited in line to make sure to get one before they sold out! ) so, now I dont have to keep one finger on the battery-compartment-door, while trying to take the pictures, and it has a lot more pixels or whatever, so I can crop a bit...and, well, to be honest, I got some pictures of my kids that *I* think tell some great, Im thinking of sharing them with you...

In fact, in a total lack of restraint to do things chronologically, let's start with Beauty.

I THOUGHT, that the highlight of her Christmas would be her Disney Princess bike that she found waiting under the tree. It seemed to me, that if I was going to spend 2.5 hours sweating and laboring over a pile of metal and rubber, putting together a contraption that came in a box - a box that said, "easy to assemble" and "5 easy steps", that the amount of toiling would be directly proportional to the amount of love she would have for the sparkly new ride....but I was wrong...sort of.

It's not that she doesnt LOVE her Disney Princess bike, and Ill share the highlights of THAT story later in the "chronicles"'s just that what truly captures her heart, was another gift.

We havent yet decided on what to call this...sometimes we refer to it as her dancing scarf, or jingling skirt....but in real life, it's a scarf thing, with coins sewn on, that jingle, and belly dancers wear them, and her aunt got it at a Greek festival.....let me just show you......

See how pretty it is! It's a bright blue, with those silver beads and coins that make a shimmery sound, and Beauty loved it from the minute she opened it. She hurried to have us put it on her, and she twisted and wiggled, getting such enjoyment from the sounds it made.

And, while everyone sort of moved right along, she remained fixated on this skirt/scarf. She continued to dance and shake, like she is here....and directly in front of her is the fire place, whose glass doors serve as a mirror for which to dance in front of....

And later on, when everyone was opening more gifts and enjoying Christmas, Beauty was still enjoying her skirt/scarf, and was doing a little show....

And as the morning progressed, and the kids were opening their final gift (a really cool telescope)....Beauty was still wearing know....and, she had even gone so far as to take off her nightgown, and JUST wear the scarf, I think she discovered the coins had better movement when there wasnt a thick patch of flannel all bunched up beneath them.....

AND, tomorrow is her dance class.....most of the little girls like to wear tu-tus and stuff, but recently, Beauty has gotten into wearing her sparkly "jazz pants" from a recital moons ago (the pants used to touch the ground!)....and you may notice that she gets VERY into the shaking and twisting and "hip rocking"....

sort of, super-spastically into it, as it's her favorite part of the class.....and so, she is so excited, to wear her new scarf/skirt/thingy to dance tomorrow,,,,, I can hear the jingling now!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve, otherwise known as the day we sit around and obsessively track Santa online

It's Christmas Eve people! It's here!

Id love to tell you that my children are patiently awaiting Santa's arrival, or better yet, have Santa on the backburner of their minds, and are focused on the true meaning of the holiday, and the Baby Jesus, but FAT CHANCE.

Pooper just walked up to the mantle and rubbed his hand along the empty stockings, AGAIN..

"what are you doing?" I asked

"checking to see if Santa came" he answered....

Um, hello, it's midday, and you know that Santa didnt show up since you checked the stockings 20 minutes ago.

We have My Honey's work laptop up, so that we can have the Norad Santa Tracker Website at our finger tips, so we can obsessively watch Santa flying through China, Russia, and down into Africa, calculating who is opening their presents, and how long it will be until we can do the same.

The Norad site has little videos of Santa as he flies through the air, and I think the kids have tried to spy THEIR gifts in the back of his sleigh.....the Ben Ten Deluxe Omnitrix watch, or Barbie Laptop, or that Candy Claw machine (you can dream Pooper, you can dream)....

Last night, Beauty and I ventured out to Target to get a few last minute items. She wanted to pick out items for her brother, sister and off we went.

She wanted to get her brother the Emily Osment CD ("I dont think about it" is Pooper's favorite song right now), but according to the employee in the red shirt, that song is not yet out on CD. So, she got him a hoodie shirt instead.

She wanted to get her sister some "Little People", those fisher price figures that replaced weebles a quarter century ago. But, the only Little People that were left was the cement truck.....which we have. Come to think of it, thanks to Pooper's life long obsession with Little People, we have all of, just as well that we buy her something else. We found pretent baby bottles, and a baby stroller...which I think Beauty wanted for herself, so she got them for her sister.

We got her dad a gift certificate to his favorite fast-food, sushi restaurant...actually, the gift is for the two of them to go eat together, as a special father-daughter date. Which, is really great, as they are the only two that can stand to eat sushi, or smell it, or look at it, so the outting will be a win-win-win-win-win for everyone.

Just a reminder to anyone that is looking for a place to hide gifts...dont hide them in the trunk of your car. And if your wife specifically asks you to put them up in the closet, you would be wise to take heed. Otherwise, your wife might go to put shopping items in the trunk, and when she opens it up, a HELLO KITTY boombox is staring at your 4 year old daughter, and she screams with glee, "hello kitty! is that for me????" and then your wife will look stunned, and stammer and try to think of something clever to say to convince your daughter that the big, white, round face, wasnt really hello kitty, and the gift wasnt really for your daughter, and then she will just keep her mouth shut, because she realized the cat is out of the bag, literally.

But anyways.....

Last night, after the kids were asleep, the only person that knows how to wrap gifts suddenly started to have a panic attack, because she realized that she has only 31 hours in which to wrap the gifts, and she would prefer to be sleeping for some of them.

That same person, is also the "mechanically inclined" member of the family, who knows darn well, that on Christmas Eve, she will be faced with the monumental task of putting 2 special items together....items with handle bars and training wheels.....and then that person started to have breathing difficulty, just thinking about it.

So, last night, I hunkered down and wrapped all the gifts (except for those from our family in Georgia, who, thank God, sends them wrapped - which is especially appreciated, because they spoil us with sooo many gifts, that it would take another 31 hours just to wrap those goodies.)

I sorted out the stocking stuffers, and made sure they would fit in the stockings....and then wrapped each item. I designated a plastic Target bag for each child, to hold their, all I need to do tonight is transfer each kids' things into their stocking.

I wrapped all the gifts from Grandma J.......who, by the way, I called last night, to see if her items can be from "santa", since Beauty saw her "santa" gift in the trunk, but that made Grandma J sad, and she even said it ruined her, dont worry Grandma J, we figured out something else that will not ruin the Santa mystery.

I wrapped all the gifts from parents to kids, and kids to siblings.....and gifts to kids from's all done, except for those two, two-wheeled items, which I pray are of the "easy to assemble" variety.

And, newsflash, My Honey just informed me, while trying to control his roaring laughter, "Your gonna love what Beauty got you!", which naturally made me curious, which made him laugh even more, and roll his eyes. I convinced him, to PLEASE tell me, explaining that if I know ahead of time what it is, I can make sure to have a look of pure pleasure on my face, and maybe even drop hints about how I sure hope Santa brought me the specific item. Well, My Honey caved, probably not because I won him over with my persuasive speech, but because he wants to see my TRUE response.....and then he told me, that she had picked out, and selected, and bought for me, a Bedazzler. As in, that handy machine that implants jewels onto your clothes. As in, that item that was given a second retail life, when the gal from the Apprentice displayed the item with great enthusiasm during one of her on-show tasks. That same Bedazzler, that while maybe it had a different name 35 years ago, is the invention that so enamored Grandma J, that I came home from school one day in 3rd grade, to find that she had ruined, er, I mean, decorated all my clothes with studs!! (she was so proud of herself, and I think I cried) It's really the perfect gift from Beauty. My Beauty that each day meticulously selects an outfit with style and matching colors, and then puts on all of her bracelets and rings and necklaces and such, and then adds a scarf or headband or stylish belt, and finishes her self off with a spritz of body spray and a smudge of lip gloss....I can think of no item, more representative of my sweet girly-girl, then the Bedazzler!

It's time for me to go, as the kids are pestering to see if Santa has made it to Colombia yet, to leave something for their brother and sisters (thankfully nobody has asked how come they dont have toys, as I so often tell them, if they get visits from Santa), so, Im off to the Norad site...

May you have a merry, magical and blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Lights Tour, part 3

For many nights, throughout December, we piled up in the van, sometimes with hot cocoa, and visited the Christmas lights.....

We saw, inflatables, lit up figures, houses that had lights pulsing to music, and all sorts of festive decorations.

Some people had a LOT of stuff, one house in particular looked to have it all.....

They had a who's who of inflatable characters, as well as a small zoo of lit animal figures, AND, that very special sign that instucts Santa to STOP HERE!

You could tell they had put some thought into where things would go, Snoopy up on the roof, the sign by the door, etc. It was houses like this, that caused my mind to wander off, imagining that special day, when mom, dad and the kids happily worked together, humming like elves, or whistling like dwarfs, turning their front yard into a holiday extravaganza.

but every once in a while, there would be a house like this one.....

Now, there is nothing wrong here, but I get more of a vision of dad mumbling under his breath, while he quickly jams the candy canes into the ground, and then hurriedly puts the snowflakes in too....and before he can get away, mom is on the porch, directing him where to hang each flake in the tree. It just seems hurried, and lacking that spirit of the holidays that says, "lets spend all day carefully placing our lit stuff in the yard."

Im going to put a disclaimer in here too, and say that Doug and I prefer the more traditional lights, and it's always a plus if the Baby Jesus is included, but the kids are more into the candy-cane-lane meets cartoon characters kinda, dont go thinking that this is what *I* think looks good, as my tastes are oh so much more refined (cough)......

This next house, really set the kids ablaze with ooohs and aaahs....

Doug and I appreciated that there was some level of coordination with the colors and lights, and the kids appreciated all the new-fangled stuff to help lure Santa to the house, like the string of colored lights that went from across the sky, landing on the roof, where Santa was directed to land.

and the absolute icing on the cake, cherry on the sundae, was the DIGITAL COUNTDOWN CLOCK.

Oh yeah, the entire neighborhood was well informed on just how much longer they had to wait for the big guy in his red suit and bag of goodies. This house, was one of the kids top picks.

speaking of the big guy, I have posted pictures of the kids meeting with Santa, over on Pooper's Page , and you can get a glimpse of that Candy Claw game deal going down.

The frenetic anticipation continues....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Now it's time for a commercial break

Two posts in a row! I told you we are building up to Christmas.

Now it's time for a commercial....

What does every child dream about? How about eating candy all day long, without any parental intrusion? What does every parent wish they had as a child, but now that they are in the pareting role, says, "heck no!".....

It's the Candy Claw Arcade Game! (can you believe it? Why didnt I invite this?????)

Not to be confused with , "stuffed-animal-claw-arcade-game-that-children-get-stuck-in-when-their-parents-arent-watching"...this smaller version dispenses candy.

Im hoping, that since you dont have to pay, that they have taken the "scam" element out of this game. The scam element being the fact that when you play claw games at arcades, the claw is so weak and lame, that it doesnt have the strength to actually lift and dispense the item you are grabbing, thus, causing your children to go into major meltdowns right there at the foot of the game, screaming and wailing, demanding another quarter, because they "almost had it"

This Candy Claw machine, is tops on Poopers list. And, thank you to Santa at the Mall, for telling him you would get it for him. Because I hope your fluffed rear doesnt get stuck down our chimney when you come over here on Christmas Eve to deliver on your promise.

I did let Pooper know, that Santa has to ask the MOM AND DAD, and since we have a "NO CANDY TO BE EATEN WHENVER YOU WANT FROM AN ARCADE GAME IN YOUR ROOM" rule, he might not be able to bring it. AND, at this late notice, it might be hard for his elves to find all the parts, as it is a complicated item to make. To which he responded, with a look of "you dont get it" on his face,

"mom, the elves can make stuff out of SNOW if they want, they dont need, PARTS, they have the magical technology!"


Stay tuned, as our holiday posting continues.....

Christmas lights tour part 2

WHEW! Got the gifts done for teachers (homemade marshmallows and hot cocoa) and the cards are all out (stay tuned, as I will *reveal* the photo that came from the hideous Christmas Card Photo Session ) , and ALMOST have the gifts to out-of-state family sent (sorry grandfolk, we are late again.)

Now, while My Honey and the kids are gathering those last things, let me relax, and enjoy with you some more of the Christmas Lights tour.....

You may remember that we visited the houses that synced their lights to music, saw a number of wintery inflattables, and kept our eyes out for the coveted, "Santa! Stop here!" signs...and that was only the beginning....

We also spied some special friends who were hiding in windows, attic windows, garage windows, sending us festive Christmas messages.....

It may be hard to make him out, but Santa is up there, making sure all the kids are being good....

And we also saw some Disney friends wishing us a merry day...

And then....

Well, let me just say, Im not a fan of those animals made of lights, you know the ones, like the famous "deer family" that pop up in yards this time of year. They have no expression, and often you cant even tell what they, with that bias clearly on the table, here are some more of our sights....

This bear was right out by the street to welcome holiday goers, and thankfully was part of a larger display

BUT, THIS GUY, was all alone, I mean, that's it for their holiday spirit, one barely recognizable creature, does this say, "Merry Christmas"??

And while we are on the subject of things being questionably Christmas, we came upon this little deal. It's up year round, because it's "art" , it's NOT part of Christmas decorations, it's just part of the landscape of this home...

yes,that's right, when you drive down the street, you notice that many people have a planter, and this family has lit art above their planter....365 days a year. Hard to see I know, so here is a close up....

interesting, huh? I mean, they are pretty little tiles, but I would never think to mount them to a wall out front of my house with lights behind them, would you?

anyways....we continued on......and saw many more AMAZING Things.....I promise to post them tomorrow morning, promise, as I have a daily crescendo of posts leading up to Christmas....

Go enjoy the hustle and bustle of the season!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Lights Tour Part 1

That's right people, you read the title correctly, Ive got some Christmas lights to show you, AND, as the "part 1" implies, there will be a few installments to this exciting post.

I have just spent the past large chunk of time uploading, cropping, editing, admiring, staring, and going cross eyed at, all of the, the next posts will be easy to turn out, since the photo work is all done! Whew!

Our community has different contests to help encourage people to go all out on their lights. Some are very traditional, some are manic, some pleasant, some Griswold-ish, or as My Honey calls them, "New Jersey". The past few nights, our family buckled into the "crap mobile", hot chocolates in hand, and participated in the "individual house judging". That means, that mom had to map out the 30 entrees, which are located willy, nilly throughout the town. So, in real life terms, that meant driving with one hand holding my cocoa, the other holding the map, the judging forms on my knees, the pen in my mouth, and my chin on the steering wheel. We cruised around, oohing and aahhing, and eventually trying to come up with a "concensus style family vote".

The kids scoring was directly proportional to how much stuff was on the lawn, or how many shades of colors were represented in the lights, or how many kilowatts were expended in the display. My Honey and I prefer the more refined homes....of course. One thing we all agreed on, was that we LOVE seeing the baby Jesus displayed.

I have some things to show you from our tour, some highlights of, grab your hot cocoa and enjoy.....

Our first stop, was the house that has lights that flash to music. When we arrived, there were several cars parked nearby, watching the show. My Honey and I made it a point to only stay briefly enough to let the kids select a score, and we purposely didnt stare. Some of you may remember the fiasco that occured on Dec. 14th of last year after staring at this same house, which sent My Honey to the hospital for a couple of days. We definitely were not in the mood for THAT, so we only saw a small bit of this fine coordination of lights, colors and sounds....the little sign in front tells you the radio station to tune in to, and with each pulse of the music, different lights and figures flash...

As we continued on our journey, we were met by many friends, including....

the penguins

and this bear

and frosty....

and you will notice that down in the corner, is a VERY SPECIAL SIGN

this is the highly coveted "santa stop here" sign, that has been a small obsession for the past 2 Christmases. My kids want, in fact, feel they NEED to have that sign. Last year, we looked high and lo, which means, mom dragged herself to every discount, warehouse, craft, holiday, and retail store, in search of that sign, and never found it. So, being the crafty mom who will go to all ends to please her children, she decided to make one. That's right, she bought the wood, and worthless wood glue, and paint (remnants of which are still visible on the bricks, thanks to Beauty who thought she would be an artist), and for a couple of weeks, we had a homemade "santa stop here" sign in the yard. That is, until the storms came and the sign fell apart, leaving the shambles of a sign in the garden. So, we are always on the lookout for this sign, it is dear to our hearts.....

and soon, you will see the other fun Christmas lights that made us squeal with delight on the tour....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Get me off this ride!

If anyone was planning on calling 911, fearing I had become tangled in Christmas lights....thanks, but Im ok. Ive been ensnarled alright, but not in a strand of lights, rather in medical mumbo-jumbo.

Little One has been sick for a while....she feels just fine, but her lab work has been crazy, her liver enlarged, and her very foul, diarrhea has been pale yellow, for 3 months.

We left the hospital 2 weeks ago, and had some tests pending when we were discharged. The results came in the day after we left, but since Im only her mom, I wasnt allowed to know the results. Ive played this game long enough to have a few tricks up my sleeve, so I told the specialist's nurse to fax the results to our primary doctor (other doctors are allowed to have the results, because they arent stupid like moms), then I called the pediatrician (who is much easier to get ahold of than a "specialist") and she gave me the results; "Her 5'NT is high, this confirms that there is damage to the liver, and she will need a biopsy."

The news wasnt a surprise, it was discussed in the hospital, that the next step would be a biopsy, to get more definitive info.

So, for the past 2 weeks, patiently waiting for today's visit with the gastorenterologist, Ive had this info.

This being the information age and all, Ive spent a pretty few minutes on the internet, googling her symptoms and lab results, hoping to get some sense of what is going on. Ive read the word, "biliary" 3654 times, and learned everything I was supposed to learn in 8th grade science about the liver. Ive also left 5 voicemails and 1 email for the "special" gastroenterologist. and never heard back.

I have this theory, this idea, that if someone knows her lab results, they should just call me. If there is a next step, a test, or something, than just tell me. Ive grown rather tired of the going-to-the-doctor carousel of life, for those that havent been on that ride, it goes something like this....

Call the doctor and try to make an appt.

If their computers arent down, you can find a time that you can come in

Be prepared to throw all other time committments out the window, because they will typically have only one available slot, which will be at the same time as your coveted hair appt, your other child's doctor appt, or some important sports event. But you'll take it, or wait another 2 months

On the day of the appt. You will spend the day preparing, making sure someone else picks one kid up from school, or taking them out of class early, and making other such arrangements as to minimize the impact on your families social calendar.

Your husband will take off from work

You will pack the diaper bag, with extra clothes, extra wipes and diapers, might as well put in a bunch of food for the kids, and you, because you never know how long you will be stuck at the doctors.

You will get all kids in the car, and the diaper bag, and some cash for the parking attendant, and your insurance card, and check book, and dont forget some toys to keep all kids occupied, or they will break out in a squabble at the doctors office.

Once through the traffic jams, and into the parking lot, you will circle around like a vulture for 20 minutes to get a spot.

Unpack everyone and everything, and trek over to the doctors office

Wait for 15 minutes to 3 hours, depending.

Pay the co-pay, because money grows on trees.



So, today's doctor told me just what we already knew. And then said, "this has been going on for 2 weeks, so Im not ready to do a biopsy yet, let's retest her in a week, and then come back in 3-4 weeks."

Those words feel as if someone has a hair dryer on "high heat" up your rear.

I gently reminded the special expert, that we actually had been on this ride for about 3.5 months, complete with lots of tests, doctors visits, specialist visits, and while I was not enthusiastic to do a liver biopsy (as he seemed to think), I also wasnt in the mood to stay on the carousel of ignorance. but Im just a mom.

So, when I got home, I left a message for the pediatrician to send the special gastro doctor all of the labs, etc. from the past few months, so that he can make decisions with all the info on his plate.

It seems to me, that this is being strung out like a strand of Christmas lights. Not really how I wanted to spend the holidays.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Gift Ideas

If anyone is still reading, thanks. I just spent the past few days with Little One in the hospital, it was a diarrhea extravaganza, which hasnt been completely resolved, but hopefully will be soon. If you are interested in that kind stuff, you can read more

As an apology of sorts, for my extended absence, I thought I would do you all a favor, and pass along some fabulous holiday gift ideas, cause Im nothing if not helpful.

Ill tell you the truth, after watching so many episodes of The Silicone Housewives, Ive kind of gotten jealous of their really neat-o tattoos. I have found myself daydreaming about what type of tattoo I would get, if I were on would be kind of fun to get a hershey bar across my buns, or a pixie-fairy chick flying out my nose, and it made me think, "I bet so many people want a tattoo, but not forever", here's a gift for someone like that on your's a "tattoo sleeve"...looks real, but it's not.... If you want to visit the page to see all the other great tattoo designs, go here

I know Im sometimes hard on pet lovers, mainly pet lovers who let their dogs poop all over the place, or pet lovers who think their pets are humans, and take them to restaurants and dress them up and carry them around.....and perhaps Ive been a little too hard on them. So, for the people on your list that like to be all "hollywood" with their little animals, here's one that is adorable and cuddly, and wont poop or run away....

and to buy it go here

Practical gifts are always appreciated during the holidays, and here's one that cant be beat, in fact, I think we could all use this gift... It's particularly beneficial if you have a roommate or spouse, and you sometimes use their towel to wipe your mouth after brushing your teeth...because, then you can make sure not to spread herpes or whatever...

and to purchase go to their website

For the tree-hugging, vegetarian type on your gift list, this tasty number cant be beat!

It's a gummy steak, doesnt it look delicious? Buy this yummy treat here

Every girl loves a good pair of shoes. Not sturdy shoes, but fashionable shoes, glamour shoes, like these...which, while they are pricey, they are undoubtedly worth it!

buy groovy shoes at this website

I hope Ive helped you along with your holiday shopping, remember, when buying gifts, it's the thought that counts, unless of course the thought is, "I drew your name in the gift exchange but didnt want to get you something nice, so I got you this gag instead."

Sunday, November 25, 2007


We have spent the weekend being inundated with coverage of the most recent Malibu fires, again.

It's no surprise that the place is ablaze, again. Not because it has a history of being lit up in flames, but because it seems the news media practically begged for it. really.

For the past week, during the evening news, the local weathermen would remind us that the Santa Ana'a were expected to arrive this week (for those out of the area, the Santa Ana'a are a dry, windy condition)....they have also given in depth, colored analysis of the Red Flag (fire) warning that would be in effect, and THEN, they would go on and on about the specific areas that would be most vulnerable, making comments such as, "If that were to ignite, there would be little that could stop an inferno" and things that seemed to tempt potential arsonists.

Each night, My Honey and would sit there in disgust, wondering why they didnt just print up an, "Arsonist's handbook" and pass them out. It really seemed as if they were almost encouraging the activity.

So, no surprise when we woke up Saturday morning to see that Malibu was being ravaged by flames. again.

For those wondering, we are a couple hours south from Malibu. It is the coastal area at the northern most part of Los Angeles County, and we are at the southern part of Orange, we arent in danger. Our hearts go out to those that have lost their homes, and we pray that the fire is contained soon, and that the media stop making the whole thing seem so exciting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tis the season.........

My Honey has reminded me about 56 times today, "this is the earliest we have ever had the outside decorations finished." I realize he is really saying, "Way to go self, you got all the wreaths up, hung the star, and got Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus in place all in one day!" but to me it sounds like, "In all years past, we were late getting our stuff up." Thanks for the reminder!

I like to get all ready for Christmas, including sending out my Christmas cards, during Thanksgiving weekend. I like to think that such a thing happens each year, but in reality, we have gone without the wreaths entirely, and I have been up late on Christmas Eve licking Christmas card envelopes. To remind me of these foibles, is not something I want to hear all day, especially on the year that we finally got things done on time...but anyways....

The lights were actually up a week ago, and my kids were going bonkers wanting to turn them on, but we made them wait until the night after Thanksgiving (tonight) before doing so. To say they were excited is an understatement, to say they were so wrapped up in anticipation that they spent the day driving me crazy, bouncing off the walls and getting into trouble, would also be an understatement.

This year, the kids picked alternating red and green lights. My Honey and I decided a few years ago, that tastefully decorating for Christmas was not worth the battle, and we handed over the selection of light color to the kids. Last year was multicolored, one year was plain red, one plain white, they like to mix it up.

My one insistance, is that we have a Nativity on display. My Honey liked the idea of a Nativity, but was adamantly against those of the "internally lit" variety. I still remember 6 years ago, looking high and lo for a decent Nativity that didnt cost the price to Bethlehem plus a donkey farm. There was a beautiful, royal looking set at our local "Home Goods" store, but it was over a thousand dollars. I finally found one that would have to do, I bought it on ebay for pretty cheap. I promised My Honey, that they didnt really LOOK internally lit. Yes, they were plastic, yes they had a bulb inside, but they really, really didnt look cheesy.

I still have pictures from the day my packages arrived, and wish they were digital, Pooper was so hilarious....He was just a year old, and after I pulled the plastic Holy Family from the box, he got down on the floor and laid beside them, hugging and kissing Mary. Im telling you, I should have known right then and there what this kid would be like, but I digress....

My Honey came home that evening, and commented that the display looked "too Precious Moments" to go in HIS yard, but 6 years later, they shine tonight, with a lit star above them.

So tonight, after getting all our gear set up, we decided to begin our annual routine, of driving around at night, looking at the lit houses. There were several households already decked out, and some in the process.

Our community goes all out, and there are contests amongst the neighborhoods. Our tour through the streets involves spotting all the Santa's, pointing out the giant blow-up snow globes, and looking for other Nativity displays. There are always a lot of "ooohs" and "aaaahs" from the back seat, and a few "what were they thinking?" 's from the front row. Some folks go traditional, and some just try to cram every last holiday related item onto their lawn.

Im gonna try to take pictures, and post them up here for my Holiday Lights stay tuned!

By the way, Beauty INSISTS, that last year, she came downstairs on Christmas Eve and saw Santa and his reindeer. She claims she was pretending to be asleep on the couch, but kept an eye open to watch them. She wanted me to know that she had some important information to share about the reindeer and the carrots we leave out for them.....

**Each year we leave cookies and milk for Santa, and some carrots for the the morning, it's all eaten, but those darned reindeer leave carrot bits on the floor, they are messy eaters.....***

Beauty told me the reindeer arent messy eaters, it's just that they dont like the carrots. The reason there were carrot bits on the floor, is because they were mad they didnt get cookies like Santa, so they dumped the carrots onto the ground and stepped on them, smashing them up!!!

She swears she witnessed this, and so, this year, we need to give them all cookies. chocolate chip!

Speaking of leaving goodies out for absolute MUST HAVE ITEM (which also makes a wonderful Christmas gift) are these custom and affordable and ADORABLE plates....and the proceeds go to help a few families who have children fighting cancer, and could use the financial assistance..... Stop by Marey's blog to order some of these cute plates!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The hottest housewife yet!

Before I get started, let me just go on record saying that if my daughters ever come home with a tattoo, especially of an anchor on their neck, or a bug on their foot (??how bizarre!)....we will make an appointment to see the laser removal docs, pronto. I know everyone may not agree, but Im just putting it down in writing, so that if my daughters ever read this blog, they get the message.

But to heck with the OC housewives on TV, Ive met a new lady that will put them all to shame.

Meet Nora Hardwick.

She's 102 and great-grandma, you can tell just how sweet she is by that neatly coifed hairdo....

But just because she has lived through an entire century, doesnt mean she doesnt still have a lot of life left in her....notice that spunky twinkle in her eye......

And if you need more of a hint as to just how spicey this grandma can be, check out her completely bare shoulder!!!

You see, Nora Hardwick doesnt need to run off to the Playboy mansion to expose her goods, she is gonna be Miss November on a nude calendar, to raise money for a local sports team in the UK.

Im imagining she was really something during the roaring 20's, when she was just a teen. Imagine her as a 40 something housewife in the 50's, she'd have put the OC housewives to shame, Im sure.

Now, here she is, revealing her birthday suit for all to see (well, not all, because I cant show that on this blog.....but you can always buy the calendar.)

Then it occured to me, she COULD be the hottest housewife in my community, because I know a guy that is looking for a lovely lady, maybe I can hook them up together.....

what d'ya think??? cute couple, huh??

PS. speaking of "cute couples".....did you see the Bachelor? Besides talking like a robot, the guy seems to have no feelings at all, put a fork in him, his love life is over!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bye Bye Soccer

Beauty's first soccer season has come to an end. The Mermaids have played their last game, and received their much deserved trophy (a bobble head of a girl kicking a soccer ball!)

Im not gonna miss the morning "let's-get-ready-for-soccer" wild hunt for shin guards and cleats. Im also not gonna miss having to pack up all the kids, their stuff, snacks, a duffle bag, blanket, and haul it all in the stroller, down to the fields. I will however, miss my little Beauty, becoming her own self.

You see, on that grassy field, her personality was developing, her preferences in life coming clearly into vision. And it was evident to all around, that, she really doesnt like soccer.

While the other girls were fervently hunting after the ball, Christine was passively idle. Sometimes noticing the efforts of her teammates......and sometimes not.

Notice here that her little mermaid friends are getting their bodies into action, leaning towards the ball, feet gearing up beneath them...and Christine, thinks it's all very curious, as to why people would get sweaty and hot, chasing a round thing.....

While most of the kids are rushing to cluster around the ball, Christine could often be seen practicing her dance moves. She loves dancing! Here she is doing some hand motions.....

She has told us repeatedly, that she doesnt like's too hot, too tiring, and she gets too sweaty. (She has a point!)

But there are some things she loves about it...for one, socializing with her mermaid friends, and most importantly.....THE TUNNEL.....


IT's all about the snack!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How do I stop this train??

Pooper is 7. Not 17.

Two years ago, when he was in Jr. Kindergarten, his dad was concerned. While the other boys liked to play Power Rangers and Trucks, Pooper was hanging out with the girls, huddled around the doll house, playing "baby". He was just starting to put on some weight after being anorexic for a couple of years. His weight was in the mid 20's. So, while he was 5 years old, he was wearing 24 month clothing.

God always brings blessings amidst adversity, and Pooper learned quickly that the bonus from being so light-weight, was that people could easily carry him. People, people like the 5 year old girls in his class.

His teacher said that everyday he was eager to play "baby" and would earnestly shout, "Who wants to be the mom??!!" He spared no charms when trying to get the girls to play mommy, and the result, was that the "mommy" would carry around the baby, sit and cuddle the baby, the baby all curled up, nestling into the mommy.

My Honey wondered if this didnt mean that Pooper had a "feminine" side, a very dominant feminine side, and that he was devoid of any masculinity. The teacher assured him that all would be well. The fact that Pooper was always on the hunt for a "wife" to marry him, was also an indication that he had a masculine side.

Fast forward to this morning, when Pooper came to give me, what I thought would be a standard good morning kiss. As in a quick peck and a cheery "good morning." As soon as his lips touched mine, it was like they were magnetically locked. The kiss lingered on and on, and I could have sworn he was leaning his head from one side, and then to the other. When we finally "smacked" and separated, I said, "Wow, that was really a special kiss, it seems like you have been practicing that."

Very proudly, he said, "I can do even better!"

Well, he is 7, and it wont be long before the thought of kissing me causes him to blush, so I tried to act non-chalant and I said, "ok"

He was eager to plant another one on me.....slowly moving his head from side to side, while our puckered lips held tightly together. I was just praying that he didnt part his lips and try to slip me any tongue.....and then he started making slight "mmmm" noises, and it was all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing, as I kept my lips tightly pursed. I feared if I laughed I would cause some sort of life changing trauma, that might make him kiss-phobic (now that I think about it, not a bad idea!)

When the kiss ended, I said again, "WOW! It really seems like you have been practicing that." He denied working on his smooch....

"Where did you learn how to kiss like that?" I asked.... And he shrugged unknowingly.

This has me real concerned.

And just this week, I was snooping, er, I mean accidentally came across his High School Musical journal (where they ask questions and you fill in the blanks...) One question asked, "Who is your favorite teacher?" I was a bit surprised by the answer, since Pooper has never had this gal for a teacher, although, she does teach at his school. Then the next line asked, "She is my favorite teacher because......" and in his elementary penmanship, he had written, "She's hot."

It seems this train is going full speed ahead, and the kids only 7. Not even 7 1/2. Im not ready for all of this. It was cute when he talked of finding a wife and getting married...maybe because it was something he couldnt legally follow through with for another decade or so...but all this kissing and finding teachers "hot"....It's making mer nervous!

When is he gonna get to the stage that girls are gross and have cooties? Can anyone tell me, please, that it's just around the corner? Please?

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Just a word of warning to any papparazzi that might read this blog (ok, I know, but anyways....)

If you dont want to get your foot run over (or head crushed, or hip knocked out of it's socket) dont lean on a car that is trying to drive.

It seems everyday we are bombarded with all the things Brittney Spears has done wrong. And not that Im defending her, but....while people are screaming, "She RAN OVER someone's foot!" and it's accompanied by pictures of her car, totally surrounded (think the Beatles tour bus kind of surrounded), with photographers, LAYING ON HER CAR, I mean, yeah, it's sort of a no-brainer that someone's foot is going to get run over. My mom taught me nothing if she didnt teach me not to lean against or stand in the way of moving cars.

So, Im just saying, Paps, get out of the way, geesh!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Well, well, well

Quite honestly, Im left a bit stunned after last night's episode. I think one houswive's husband said it best, when he told her it was "sad" that she felt the need to compete by accumulating material things. (This was the discussion about "downsizing" to a 4000 square foot home, and how that made her feel like a "failure"...not to be confused by their conversation over the budget for landscaping the backyard...he wanted to cap it at $150,000, but she felt strongly about having a "fire and ice" volcano in the pool, and dishwasher next to the outdoor BBQ and refridgerator, even if such luxuries pushed the backyard budget to $400,000) AYE CARUMBA!

I dont want to judge these gals too much, because if my son was living with my new-live-in-boyfriend's ex-wife (did you follow that?) or was wanting to move back in, but my new hubby didnt want him to, or was terrorizing the community via golf cart romps-to the point the community board put restrictions on him, or my young daughters were getting all gussied up for a night at the Playboy Mansion...well, Id be downing jello shots too. That's not to say that wont happen, my kids are still young, and heck, sometimes even now they bring me to the verge of drinking....but who knows how my kids will behave as teens/young adults.... My point, is that I dont envy their lives. If that's what great, high living is all about, no thanks.

I will point out one little tidbit from last night that was TRUE and REALLY BUGS ME.....although it was such a tiny thing, perhaps nobody else noticed....but *I* noticed, because it's become my pet peeve (pun intended)...was when one mom and her son went to lunch, and they commented that the restaurant allows them to bring their dog. In case anyone forgot to read the HEALTH CODE, that is against the law. But apparently a lot of people around my town have forgotten all about LAW, becaues I see people bringing their dogs EVERYWHERE, including restaurants and the grocery store. They carry their little Fifi's around, or drag them along by leash.....and besides the LAW, there is that little know fact that DOGS GO POTTY! Anyways, when I saw that last night, I thought, "They should do a whole episode on how people worship their pets and bring them everywhere" .....

As for the rest of the show, rather than nit pick all the things that horrified me, Ill just tell you a little bit about the MAJORITY of people that live here, things that they dont show on THAT SHOW:

Lots of gals that I know, are part of home Bible studies. Yes, women gathering together with friends and neighbors, to study the Bible. I know many that have morning groups, or evening get-togethers....sometimes with husbands, sometimes just the girls....and the reason? To grow in their knowledge of God, and to live a life that is pleasing to Him. To learn how to set priorities that are healthy, to gain insight into raising children who are honorable, to develop a better understanding of marriage and how to make it work. It might sound boring, but I wish someone would focus on the woman that work really hard to try to do things in a way that is good and wholesome.

Ive already shown you the real moms, their wrinkles, their down-to-earth work ethic.....and I mentioned that Housewife #1 does a great deal for charity. The truth of the matter, is that my entire community is quite charitable. I know so many women that do volunteer work on a regular basis, go on mission trips with their families, raise money for those in need, collect donations to assist the poor and hungry from around the world...I would love an episode to focus on the good-heartedness of the women in my town, that's what REAL life is all about.

By and large, most people in my neighborhood set limits for their kids. The exception might be the lady at the pool the other day...her daughter and friends (young teens?) were purposely disrupting Andrew's swim lesson. It was a holiday, and the instructor had a small portion of the pool (we have more than a dozen pools here, so there is no shortage of water space)...but even at this pool, he had a small area, and the teens had the rest of the pool to themselves. But they thought it would be fun to keep bumping into Andrew and the instructor, giggling about it. The instructor, an Olympic swimmer I might add, asked them many times to please move. Finally, I said, "Girls, please! He has asked you many times to use the rest of the pool, you have the entire pool to yourselves, why must you use this small area?" They played dumb, and laughed.....and then their mom came over to defend them. It was suddenly crystal clear why these children were disrespectful brats, as their mom sounded like a tuba, WHAA WHAA WHAA-ing about "dont talk to my daughter that way".....but aside from her, and perhaps a few others....MOST moms here do set limits, and there are dads in most families too...dads that are involved. Letting kids have parties with alcohol, sending them off to "South Beach" in Miama, letting them race motorcycles on the main street....I dont know many friends that would EVER let those things happen. ever. And then, its a big mystery when these kids end up in juvenile hall, or jobless, or dating a guy who raises pitbulls (and then the daughter gets a tattoo of the pit bull breeding company, but then breaks up with the guy...HELLO tattoos are FOREVER...too bad marriages arent!)...but I digress....

I dont quite know what bugged me most about last nights show, there was so much, but I came away feeling saddened by the portrayal of lives, lives that seem different from the many people I call "friend" around these parts of the OC.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lovely ladies 2, 3 and 4

The word on the street, is that this weeks episode of the OC Housewives will include one of them going under the knife. Dont pull out the rosary beads, nobody is ill (technically)...what I mean, is that nobody is facing any life threatening disease.....the surgery, is of the "plastic" variety.

In no less than a few different social circles this week, the upcoming episode, and the upcoming coverage of the plastic surgery, were the topics of discussion;

"Didnt they cover that LAST season with that Botox session and telling everyone that WE ALL go to Botox parties?"

"I think that was Season 1. But they did mention that all the women have breast implants, nose jobs, and that we are lining up our daughters for the same."

So, of course, I feel the need to clarify this for all of you. Most of the moms here have never had plastic surgery, and most have never even been to a Botox party.

Personally, I could use a series of injections, but my fear, is that in a few years, the botulism (you know they are just injecting a disease into your skin to kill off the nerves or muscles or something.....) but I fear it would eat away at my tissue, and in a few years I would have flesh eating disease or some blackened, dead area...and that's just not pretty. Besides, who wants to talk to someone who cant show facial expressions??? Who wants to tell their friend something funny, or scary, or sad, or surprising, and get a dead pan look in return? That's not fun at all.

Anyways, wisdom comes with age. Im not as silly or naive as I was when I was 20, so why look like it? With each year, with each wrinkle, comes experience, knowledge, growth, insight, and a load of good memories, no need to hide THAT beautiful stuff!

Thankfully for me, I live in a community where lots of ladies think just like me. They look natural, and beautiful that I dare show their entire face, or they will become internet celebrities (yeah, that's right, my whopping "readership" will turn them into overnight, internet celebrities)...and these women are nothing if they arent humble and modest, so, Im not showing their entire face.

Id like for you to meet ladies 1, 2 and 3. All of whom are bright, funny, educated, warm and fabulous mommies to boot.

Dont they look wonderful? Ok, well, it's not their best side....and Im not the best photographer...with my old camera. I dont know how to focus or make lighting changes, and I think my flash caught too much reflection off of their glowing faces...but you get the idea. They are real, no plastic, no botox, just gorgeous moms.

If you watch the show this week, remember MY gals, and that not everyone here is getting surgery, honest. I wish there was a show that focused on the genuine caring, warm spirits, and down-to-earth charm that I have found in many of my neighbors and friends.

**DISCLAIMER** I dont personally KNOW any of the women on the show, and Im sure they are wonderful people, but, sadly, that isnt what is being promoted.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Meet Housewife #1

In an effort to be real, and dispel any myths about OC that are promoted by that crazy show on Bravo, I have decided to tell you all about some honest-to-goodness women that live in the OC, in fact, they live within the same communities as the TV Housewives......

Meet Housewife #1 (names and faces have been removed, so that internet stalkers dont attach themselves to these authentic wives...because, they are so cute and adorable and wonderful, that they would undoubtedly get lots of attention if I put their name and face up...and unlike the women on that show, these real gals dont want that kind of attention.)

Housewife #1 has 3 girls and works at their school. Everyday she puts on her red vest and gets out her walkie talkie to help with the "drop off" routine that occurs in the school parking lot each morning. Then she works in the classroom, doing super glamorous things like cutting out turkey heads and correcting phonics worksheets, cause let me tell you, housewife #1 is talented with stuff like that.

You may notice, when admiring that stunning red vest, that there are no silicone orbs protruding from the neckline. That's right, many of the authentic folks in this community are thankful for what God gave them, and feel really good about who they are, natural hair color and all, even if they are a brunette.

The TV gals are usually in blouses that cost hundreds of dollars. In fact, on one of the shows, they were talking about how they have brought attention to the blouses with the jewelled medalions in the middle. Notice the attire of Housewife #1...a t-shirt coordinated with her trusty school sweatshirt. You wont catch her wearing fancy embroidered jackets and stuff, no siree!

Dont feel bad for Housewife #1, just because she works and isnt spending her days doing photo shoots or attending parties at the Playboy Mansion. She gets out, every now and again.

Recently, she put together a major fundaiser for the American Cancer Society, a cause that she has been committed to for years. This gala event had some pretty fance people in attendance, including (gasp!) one of the TV housewives. And, Ill just say, one who has let us all know that she is a top real estate agent in the area, and has lots and lots of money. I expected that my friend would tell me that this TV Housewife gave a generous donation to the ACS, but instead I found the only thing she gave, was autographs! GAG!

If I could do a video clip on here, which I cant, I would interview housewife #1 and you would see a sweet, down-to-earth gal. Whether working or raising money, or just being a mom, she is caring and kind, and so are her children. She is proof, that you dont need plastic body parts or plastic credit cards to find happiness, you just need a good heart.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The other housewives

First, yes, in case you didnt know, I watch tv at tv or come online. Once the kids are in bed (which is by 8pm, thank goodness) my weary self (when not working, because I do work some nights)....but when Im not, my tired old forty-something self likes to relax in front of the tube, or monitor, depending on the schedule.

Around these parts, we have been bombarded, with non-stop commercials for the new season of, "The Real Housewives of the OC". The promo states it's BRAVO TV's second most popular show, behind Project Runway, so that must mean people from outside the OC watch. Yikes!

I watched the Season 3 premiere last night, and the "sexiest housewife" is from our little community, with the other women living in the community next door. Of course the cameras only show the fancy part of life, or the dramatic. They arent necessarily protraying the life that most of us lead here....because, despite what the housewives say, we dont all have breast implants, nor do most of us buy them for our daughters.

Those of us in the OC, find the show to be embarassing at best, in that it makes it look like everyone around these parts is rich and spoiling their children. Id like to be the first, but am not...and hopefully Im not guilty of the second. And even if I were the first, Id like to think my priorities would be different.

I thought that in an effort to bring some authentic reality to the image of our community, Id chronicle some of the REAL real housewives of the OC. Im gonna break out my dilapitated camera, and show off some of what I love about this place...including some great, down to earth folks, that dont have pink crystals on their hubcaps.

So, stay tuned.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Christmas Card Saga - The Final Chapter

Well, today I saw one of, if not THE, picture(s) taken on that smokey day. The photographer has a blog and she posted one picture from each family, as a preview of sorts. Seeing as our family only had one picture, or perhaps 3, that probably made our selection easy for her.

Most of the other families did outside candids, close ups of their kids hugging a tree or looking at a leaf, that kind of thing. I wonder if I am the only one that felt disappointed, if not ripped off, by the situation. I mean, the schools were closed due to bad air quality, so I know it wasnt my imagination that ashes were falling from the sky like snowflakes, but maybe other people just didnt mind. Or maybe they did. Who knows?

Our photo was a black and white, which did a pretty good job at covering up that Beauty's dressed was twisted up. Little One looks beautiful in the picture, but the other two were squinting like ninety year old's trying to thread a needle. My kids have beautiful eyes, if I do say so myself, so it's particularly stinky that their eyes look like botton hole slits in the photo. Oh well.

Im not going to link to the photographer's page, for fear that she'll sue me....but after the holidays, and my kids photo cards have been sent, Ill post it here, so everyone can see. And maybe you wont even notice. Maybe it will be like 2004, when everyone assumed we spent a gloriously warm day frolicking at the beach for our photo....maybe this year, people wont have a clue about the soot covered conditions. maybe.

As some of you have suggested, I need to invest in a decent camera and just take my own pictures. I think Ill tell Santa, because that's a great idea. With all of Pioneer Woman's photo shop lessons, it should be easy to start creating my own great photos, or at least she makes it look that way.

Do any of you send photo cards? Do you take your own picture?

and as for that crazy writers strike that cancelled all the late night shows......if there are any budding writers, or comedians reading, now is your time to shine.....

Leave your own late night joke in the comments section.....we all can use a good laugh.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Christmas card photo saga, Part 9

The hostess to the photo party welcomed us into her home, and I quickly scanned the premises in search of the photographer and her set up. I had been told it would be a white backdrop, and as I looked around the family room, Beauty began to squeel, fearful of the family dog that was barking and racing towards her.

Thankfully, there was a baby gate that kept the dog from reaching us. I calmed Beauty, as the hostess encouraged us to follow her, and led us to the backyard.

Suddenly, my mood shifted. As we entered the filthy, smokey, COVERED IN ASH AND SOOT, backyard.

The photographer was a very young gal, who greeted us with a warm smile, and as much as I tried to muster one in return, I was in a state of shock, still soaking in the fact that my beautiful children in formal wear and white stockings, had been ushered to the darned backyard. on a smokey day. when even the schools had closed down.

This house was in a prime location, if you like the view of a fire. It was up on a hill, overlooking the valley. Instead of a fence or wall, they had glass (or plastic) partitions, so we had a sweeping view of...of....fires and smoke.

What the heck?

The darned hostess, who was no doubt getting free pictures for hosting the party, hadnt even cleaned the place at all. It was gross. And she wasnt much of a hostess, as she sat herself down in her own house, with breathable air, while me and my lovelies were stuck in the thick black cloud in her backyard.

I looked around, still astonished at the situation, and wondered where my kids were supposed to be photographed. The young camera-laden gal stretched out a piece of white butcher paper. The roll was on a rod about 6 feet up from the ground, and she pulled it down to form a backdrop ...with some extra stretched onto the CEMENT, for my kids to sit.

Despite having on brand-spanking new shoes, as soon as they stepped onto the crisp white butcher paper, they created tracks of dirty soot, carried from the backyard.

Me: Um, this is getting all dirty

photo chick: No problem, I can edit that out.

And I wondered, could she edit it out of the stockings too? Cause this is gonna get real messy, real quick.

And Pooper, who has lung damage, by the way, began to cough and hack.

The kids sat down, and before I could get Beauty to put her legs to the side, or straighten out her dress, the photographer began to snap a few shots. The kids werent even straightened up or situated yet. She got about 3 shots in, and then Little One started to cry.

My kids are pretty good at going with the flow, but the circumstances were not conducive to getting good shots. I mean, they were on butcher paper, which had already torn, I might add, in two places, sitting on the hard cement. There was no room to walk or move, as the paper was narrow (4 ft. wide?), and besides, any movement would result in more paper tearing or soot sharing, it was just a joke.

I picked up Little One, in an effort to calm her down and comfort her. Beauty and Pooper were coughing, and my eyes and sinuses were blazing. I cant imagine that Little One felt comfortable at all, and sitting her on that tiny little spot on the hard, soot-covered butcher paper, was not going to make her feel any better.

The photo gal was taking pictures of the older two, not sure why, clearly Im not going to send a Christmas card with only two kids.....

I made one more attempt to put Little One in her spot, next to Beauty and Pooper (who by the way sat stoicly, smiling between gasps for air)...and Little One screamed even more.

I looked at the photographer and said:

Me: I dont think she is going to calm down in this environment, and honestly, I dont like my other two sitting here breathing this horrible air either.

Of course, professional that she is, she didnt say anything.

I asked to see what shots she had so far, and she showed me the three she took with all of them. In one, Pooper's eyes were closed, the second one looked like it might be ok, and in the 3rd one, Little One was trying to escape the scene. I asked if she could show me a close up of the second one, so I could see their expressions, and she said she couldnt. liar.

I said, "Well, I guess Im taking a big chance that the one picture you got is a good one."

Again, no comment from her. No offer to not charge me, or offer a reshoot, or an apology for being so unprofessional as to expect people that signed up for indoor, formal portraits to be taken out to a smokey yard on a day that the air quality had been deemed unhealthful and dangerous.

And the hostess, she's just as guilty. I would be embarassed to invite people over, and then send them out to a filthy yard where they could barely breathe.

It was 14 minutes after we had arrived, and my dear kids and I packed up in the car. They knew I was not happy. I let them know that they had done perfectly, sitting nice and smiley when it was terribly uncomfortable. I wasnt mad at them, I was mad at the two ladies that had such bad manners, that they would ask us to sit outside in the smokey, filthy backyard.

I wont get the disc for 3 weeks. I have no idea what the lone possibility of a Christmas card photo will look like. Ill probably go take my own crummy shots with my broken down camera, and see what I can get.


And, while Im griping....what is the deal with the "Writers Strike"????

I just heard that The Tonight Show with Jay Leno will be having reruns. Really! I understand that he has a "team" of writers, Ive always assumed they 'helped' with the monologue.....kinda crazy, that it takes a collective GROUP to come up with a handful of commentary and jokes. Ok, so they are on strike, but cant Jay come up with anything on his own? The monologue lasts about 5 minutes.....he gets paid big bucks, not to mention, wasnt it his own talent that GOT HIM THE SHOW? If you are the host of The Tonight Show, for crying out loud, at least be able to crack a few jokes on your own, every now and again. It's not like the world hasnt created lots of material......with the Presidential candidates, Kim Kardashian doing Playboy (didnt she cry about her 'sex tape'???) and I guess she'll be featured on that fold-out page, so they can fit her rear end in. Cant Jay just send Ross the intern over to a turkey farm to run around and ham it up?? I dont get all the hullabaloo over the Writers Strike....I guess we are all stuck watching Reality TV (new Amazing Race started!! What's with KYNT and VYXSEN??) TV at all, read blogs instead!

Christmas card photo saga, part 8

I have shared the adventures of Christmas card photos 2003-2006. Why did I start this story? What would prompt me, at the end of October, to start rambling on about Christmas photos past? It was the photo session for this year's Christmas card pic that had me so annoyed, causing me to reflect on photos past, and ask myself, why not just make your own crayon drawing of the kids from now on, because, that's how bugged I was about this years experience.

It all started with receiving an evite to a "photo party".

Actually, it started before that. I was invited to a photo party in July, and I went, and had gorgeous pictures taken of my kids. And, she was digital, so she had a disc. But the prices were so high, that I could never afford the disc, and part of my heart withered and fell off when I realized that the beautiful pictures of my kids would be saved on her website for 3 weeks, and then they would be destroyed forever.

So, I set out to get this gal to hold a photo party at my house...we talked about it, and then she got so busy and it was impossible to get ahold of her after that. I was bummed, because if you "host" the party, you get the disc. And it's all about the disc.

When you take pictures for the purpose of Christmas card photos, you gotta have the disc. The only way to ever afford photos for the holidays, is to get them printed at Costco (or somewhere like that, for a few cents a print) so you need the picture on a disc. There are some great photographers who dont do digital, and so, they are of no use to me. I need to find someone who goes digital, for cheap, who doesnt make my kids get wet and naked and almost freeze.

I was all depressed about not hosting a photo party by the gal I met this summer, when lo and behold, I received an evite for a photo party with a different photographer. I checked out her website, which SEEMED professional and stuff, and it was a "one low price for all the pictures on a CD" kinda thing, which was just a great deal. So I signed up.

The original evite was for a Thursday, with 1/2 hour slots to sign up. I signed up, and the response was so popular, that they set up a 2nd day. This photographer would spend 2 days snapping her camera, and do pretty well. Win-win, I think.

THEN, came a message from the party hostess (a gal I dont know, but she lives in our neighborhood)....mentioning that we would be taking our pictures outdoors at the park.

YIKES. I had planned to put my kids in formal wear this year (I dont want to ruin the suprise for those on my Christmas card list)...but the girls would be in white tights, and while Little One walks most of the time, I dont think she would do well in the park, in the grass, in white tights. I called the hostess to see if all the photos were in the park, and told her my dilemna.

Eventually, the hostess sent out an email, saying we could choose between photos at her house, or outside at the park. I let her know my choice for the house, and thought we were all set.

My pictures were set for Thursday, and the Sunday prior, the state of California caught fire, literally. Infernos raged to the north and the south of us, with Tuesday and Wednesday being the worst, with flames visible from the two different fires. The air was thick and dark, the ground was covered with soot and ash, and all athletic organizations had cancelled sports for the week. The air quality was so bad, that the schools were closed for Thursday and Friday. It was a dark and gloomy feeling, and even a walk out to get in the car caused my sinuses to burn.

On Thursday morning, I got the kids dressed. I took extra care to make sure the clothes were pressed, the tights werent twisted, and I fixed the girls' hair to look pretty, in a natural sort of way. We hurried to the car, and drove to the neighbor's house who was hosting the photo session.

I carried Little One and hurried to the door, and Pooper and Beauty scurried ahead, as we tried to limit our exposure to the thick, brown air. We knocked, and the hostess greeted us, and after a cordial hello, led us to the back yard.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Christmas card photo saga, part 7

2005 turned out very well. It was easy, inexpensive and the kids looked adorable. And adorable in a way that didnt almost cause pneumonia or septic shock, which is always a plus.

2006, well, I dont know what happened. Fall is a crazy season around here, with lots of birthday and such. And last year, Little One was a newborn, and Pooper had a bunch of appointments coinciding with the completion of his 3.5 years of chemotherapy, and, I guess we just had so much on our mind that I didnt really think much about our Christmas card photo.

Now, if it seems I am making too much of a Christmas card photo....I want to explain that I look at it as the one time of year that I can touch base with friends and family around the country. Friends and family that have provided us tremendous support, and it is important to me to send out a nice photo, with a letter, keeping touch with those that are dear to us.

And, I like getting them back. I have a fear that if I forget to send them one year, I wont get any in return, and I LOOOVE getting Christmas card photos, and seeing how everyone's kids are growing up. Heck, I even have Christmas photo albums, and every photo card we get is kept in an album. After 5 years of collecting them, it's already amazing to look back and see how families and kids have blossomed.

But the planning for 2006 got away from me. So, rather than spend money or time, I sat the kids down in front of our own fire place, minus a fire, but plus lots of greasy finger prints on the fire place glass door, and took my own picture. Here it is....

Actually, you have seen it before, as it's the photo displayed on the right side of my blog...see it there ----->>>

And the adorable toile outfits that the girls have on, came from that sweet baby boutique, the one that took our 2005 picture.

I would have been smart this year to just take my own picture again. But my camera is dilapitated, and has so few pixels that the pictures start to blur if they get a nanometer past 4X6....they just arent very clear pictures.

But I should have done that anyways, and might just have to the 2007 Christmas card photo session was not what I had hoped it would be. ...To be continued.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Christmas card photo saga, Part 6

After the fiasco that was, Christmas card photo 2004, I really needed 2005 to be less stressful.

As it turned out, I was coordinating efforts to sell Christmas Cards for our local Children's Hospital and one strategy was to ask neighborhood merchants to host card sales in their shops.

One store, an adorable baby/children's boutique, was owned by a mother and daughter, and they always went out of their way to support charitable events. They gladly agreed to sell the cards in their store, and as we were talking, it came up that the daughter is a photographer. Since I know Im not the only one that goes through the search for the good, yet reasonable priced, Christmas card photo, we worked up some photo sessions that were super well priced, that would be available to the public (ie, other moms, customers, and those that were buying Christmas cards).

Many local moms signed up for the photo session, and the daughter put a ton of working into building a Christmas/Hearth backdrop. She used a real mantle, faux brick background, etc. and it looked really nice.

I try to dress my kids a bit differently each year, rotating formal, casual, etc......and in 2005 found some cozy matching jammies.

Here is the picture from our Christmas card for 2005, taken in the back of the children's boutique:

So you might be saying, "hey, that looks perfect, what's her complaint?"

And, I dont have one. I loved this picture, and it was so much easier than years past, and reasonably priced.

As I think back, Im not sure why I didnt go this route for my 2006 picture too.....I dont remember if the daughter-owner was too busy, or, I got too busy and didnt ask. This past year the dear ladies closed up shop. It was very sad to see, as they were wonderful Christian gals who went out of their way to support our community. As it turns out, the property management company in our community, rented to another baby boutique - a chain store. Well, this family-owned boutique couldnt compete. This is how small town America loses it's way...but I guess that story is for another day.

So, I got a good picture for 2005, stay tuned to hear about 2006 and 2007.....

Christmas card photo saga, part 5

So, while I was getting Pooper dried off, and trying to prevent his catheter from getting contaminated (which truly would be life threatening), Beauty and the photographer were busy doing this....

Soon, the numbing cold became too much, and Beauty retreated to the blanket with Pooper. And, because Im all about being accurate (and stretching out my blogging time, so that I dont have to go find all the left socks in the laundry) I went and looked up the weather for this particular day, at the end of October, 2004, and saw that at the very hour that my kids were wet and naked on the beach, it was 63 degrees. And I dont want any big sighs from the east coast/mid west folks who are used to snowy winters, because, that is pretty cold for us Californians, especially when you are soaked in salt water, and the winds are blowing along the coast, AND, it's about to start pouring rain again, because we got 1.34 inches of rain that day!

And if we were normal, this would be the point when we packed up our naked kids and trekked up the wet and rocky cliff to go home. But why would we do that??? Apparently, everyone but me thought it was really funny that I was going to be charged hundreds of dollars for pictures of my kids, none of which was a horizontal shot of them holding hands with the water in the background, in color. NONE.

No, this whole episode was hilarious. So, rather than go home and get warm and protect your very life, why not just stay in the setting sun (with impending thunderclouds) and take a bunch of artsy pictures like this....

and how about some smooches like this......

and some funny faces like this.....

and this....

I would love to show you all of the pictures she took of my kids wrapped up and going into hypothermia, but it would probably crash your computer, because, she took a lot more pics. And, Id just like to point out, that there is hardly any sun left..notice the darkness and lessening shadows in the pictures, it's sunset people, and the rain clouds are almost overhead.

The nanny and I had packed everything up, including the wet clothes, and now it was time for someone to insert some sanity into the situation and bring the kids I come to get the kids, see my foot in the bottom right corner?? Here I come, let's go home now, this party is over!!!

"No, we want to stay here and freeze!"

and now Pooper is looking at me, realizing that it's finally time to get out of here. While the ever professional, photographer kept snapping pictures!!

I got the kids, and all of their wet clothes, and the nanny and I had to carry them up a difficult hike. And we got in the car.

The photographer seemed happy as ever, and let me know she would send me the proofs....

The thundering rainstorm began just as we were driving away, and poured down on us, and I wondered to the nanny if I would get a discount, since the kids ended up getting soaked, which was caused by the photographer's obsession with trying to get a reflective shot.

Fast forward a few weeks, when the proofs came. She took 3 rolls. One ENTIRE ROLL was in black and, no Christmas Card photo I had asked for color. There was also one ENTIRE ROLL, I KID YOU NOT! of my kids wet......a half dozen of Beauty in her birthday suit, and the rest of the roll of my kids wrapped in that darned blanket.

So, I had one roll left from which to scour the pictures for my Christmas Card photo. I had already selected my Christmas Cards...they required a horizontal card.....but there was not one horizontal card in the bunch that had the two kids together, facing the camera in any way. Not one!!

I was furious. This cost me hundreds of dollars!! I had contemplated spending this kind of money on pictures, and should have known better.

Our nanny was with me when the pictures arrived and we went through them together to try to find something to use with the Christmas cards.

"Was I not clear enough? Did she not get the horizontal thing? or that I wanted them in color? clothed? let alone the ocean in the background or anything like that....did she not hear me????"

My nanny replied, "I dont know how she wouldnt have heard you, I heard you many, many times, you told her what you wanted, and this just isnt it."

So, I called the photographer....

Me: Hi (name left out so I dont get sued), I got the pictures today.

Her: Oh, dont you just love them!!!!! (no question mark needed, as I dont think she was really asking me, I dont think she cared what I thought, this was all about her.)

Me: There are some precious pictures, however, Im disappointed that the ....Horizontal picture of the two of the, with the ocean in the background.....was never taken. And I already have my Christmas cards, and I made it clear to you what I was looking for to use for my Christmas picture, and I dont have one that will work.

Her: Out of all of those you dont have one to use?????

Me: Well, no. I have an entire roll in black and white, and I let you know I didnt want black and white, I wanted color. And I have a whole roll of the kids after they nearly drowned, and those wont work either. You are charging me for three rolls, and I only have one roll of color pictures of my kids in their MATCHING, EXPENSIVE outfits.

Her: Oh, I think they are such gorgeous pictures...I, I,

Me: There are some great pictures, but I was very clear about what I wanted, and it's not here.....

She ended up giving me a SLIGHT discount (one roll free)...which was still a rip-off to me.

And, her loss, because this year we did take the nice big picture to put up in the family room, and I didnt hire her to do it, because I knew, depsite her ability to snap pictures in all situations, she wouldnt get the shots that I wanted.

In the end, I found this picture, it was THE ONLY picture of the two holding hands smiling with the water in the background, dry and in color....and it was vertical, so I had to get different cards to send them out.... and I would have prefered not to have that giant clump of stinky sea weed.....

I doubt that anyone that saw this picture had a clue as to what went on that day. It looks like it was a warm summer day, all peaceful and calm, and perfect! HA!

and the saga doesnt end there....this was only 2004. I still have 2005, 2006, and let's not forget 2007 - which we (maybe) took last week...which was a disaster, and the impetus for this whole vent.