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.