Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas: A Pictoral Essay.

We had a jam-packed holiday and while I'm exhausted, I'm happy and not quite ready for it to be all over.
Here's some pictures I took along the way.

The Church Pageant.

The big family picture for Paga.

The newest Guitar Hero.

The climber, also known as Baby Kate, investigating Gammie's fridge.

The cake, the brownies, the fudge. Oh, all the fudge.
The cookies.

The lamp. Yup, THAT lamp.
Thank Goodness it's PopPop's.

The Mr. Libuttis.

The Mrs. Libuttis.

The girls with their Grandpa Paga and Ann.

The photobook full of NYC pictures from Aunt Michele and Aunt Jaime.

The presents for Michaela.

The presents for Jenna.

The aftermath.

The matching Hannah Montana pajamas.

The Strauss-Libutti Offspring.

The Aunts.

The Cousins (who could be sisters!).

The Cousins.

The Cousins.

The Paga thinks about getting a Wii for himself.

The competition playing tennis. The intensity!

The seven-year-old in heaven: listening to the new yellow iPod,
wearing the new jacket, and the Wii in the background.

The love.

The love.

The Libutti Family love.
The best presents I've ever gotten. Ever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Priorities affirmed.

Here's my favorite part of being a stay at home mom:
two school holiday parties in one morning.

10:20am-10:50am- Partying it up in Miss Hajeck's classroom

11am- 11:30am- Jenna and Mommy at the Preschool Christmas party

P.S. - Happy Baptismal Birthday to Michaela!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unbearable cuteness ahead.

Monday night was Jenna's Preschool Christmas program... three and four year old cherubs, wearing their singing crowns and angel wings, singing "Away in a Manger" and "Joy to the World". It was adorable. They were all pleased as punch with themselves and all of the parents and siblings were snapping pictures like the paparazzi during the whole thing.

Jenna knew the first two lines to "Away in a Manger" but took a freestyle approach with the rest of the lyrics:"Mary and the angels kissed the baby's head and the shepards were all around them..." and when I tried to gently refresh her memory as to what the lyrics were, she very seriously told me,"No, that's not how it goes, Mommy."

Of course I took pictures:

Erin and Jenna do the motions to "lay down His sweet head..."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Icy icy ice storm.

Here's the short version, because the longer version's kinda boring: Power goes out at 1 am Friday. For the next few hours, all is quiet except for the sound of branches being bent from trees and crashing to the ground. A fire siren goes off every half hour. In the morning, we pack up and head to my parents'. They are gracious enough to warmly host us as we wait for the next 36 hours for our power to come back on. The gas fireplace in our family room works, so the house doesn't fall below 57 degrees.

Sweet, sweet relief when we walk back into our freshly warmed house on Saturday night.

Here are some pictures:

Friday, December 12, 2008

T-shirts! T-shirts!

This is a great, true story told to me this week by Jenna's preschool teacher.

The four year old preschool class goes on a field trip every year to our local grocery store. Apparently, they had a different, slightly less sensitive tour guide last week. When the tour entered the freezer area, the guide was going on and on about how hard the workers labored in the freezer... so much so that they don't have to wear coats.
"Some of them only wear wifebeaters!" she proudly declared to 15 four year olds and their open-mouthed parents.
"T-shirts! She means t-shirts! Can you believe they only wear t-shirts in this cold room?" the preschool teacher said as quickly as possible.
When telling me the story later, the preschool teacher said, "I must have said the word t-shirts six times..."

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A word about Christmas Lights.

Let's discuss Christmas decorations and Christmas lights in particular, shall we?
I grew up and still live in a town which heavily favors white outdoor lights for the holidays. Sure, you get occasional color or even, for the daring, blue lights festooned (what a great word) on the front bushes. But most people tend to favor the traditional, clean look of twinkling white. My mom worked with a guy who asked her after driving around our town many years ago if there was an ordinance that you HAD to use white lights. There isn't.
So I have noticed that more people are getting more bold in the last few years... some use blinking, some use the blowup Santa or snowman, which are kind of fun for the young at heart but look absolutely pathetic when they are off, deflated and strewn on a front lawn, and the recently popular icicle lights. And some use a mix of all three, which I think is a little overkill.
What has upset me this year is the new LCD lights.
I am ALL for saving energy and being green (you may not know this, but I am an ARDENT water conservationist from being raised in house with a shallow well) and I would love if my electric bill didn't go up 50% in the month of December, but the new LCD lights are... awful. Too bright. Too cold. Too harsh. Too blue-ish.
Where is the soft cast of light? Where is the light that if you squint your eyes looks like candles?
And forget it if you have incandescent string lights and something else, like a wreath, with the LCD... they clash like a loud plaid and bold stripes. Awful. Jarring.
So I am going to hold onto my incandescents as long as I can. I am waiting for a yellower LCD, one that's not as garish, one that makes me feel warm and sleepy and nostalgic and Christmas-y after-all-the-work-is-done-ish.

Coming soon: A word about Christmas Music.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Tooth Fairy Cometh.

The whole house breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Michaela came home triumphantly displaying her front tooth in a plastic bag. Now she has a huge, absolutely adorable gap in the front of her mouth and she instantly looks about three years older. I am not as sad as I thought I'd be, seeing her gappy grin, most likely because I feel like the tooth has been loose since I was pregnant with Jenna in 2005.
So we did the whole tooth under the pillow thing and I heard Jenna and Michaela discussing the Tooth Fairy in their room (Michaela on the top bunk, Jenna on the bottom) for at least twenty minutes after I'd turned out their light. Jenna was concerned about this strange fairy coming into their room, is she nice, is she scary, will she see me, etc. until I told her she is as loving and non-scary as her godmother Judy and that seemed to satisfy her.
Michaela woke me up this morning waving her two dollar bills with delight and all was well. Now we are back to eating normally and brushing our teeth normally and it appears that some anxiety of Michaela's has been alleviated.
In other magical creature news, I had the girls make out their lists to Santa Claus last night. I "consulted" with Santa and he knew about all of requests on Jenna list but has to "start over" with Michaela's because the items were all new to him, if you get my drift.
That silly Santa.
I was thinking about Christmas and all the work moms do to get ready for it, and it reminded me of being in college and cramming for finals. There is all these different classes (English composition, finance, consumer arts, interior design, culinary arts) and a strict due date (December 25th) and every woman is trying to study and wrap up their projects in time to get graded so they can relax and party. And it seems just a bit unfair that the men only have to show up on the day before and enjoy the party. I love it when men, smug and self-satisfied, say "Well, I 'm done with my shopping" when they have bought one gift for their wife and brought it to a service counter to get it wrapped. Whew... that was tough. And stressful.
Meanwhile the women are doing all the running around and the planning and decision making and decorating and party planning and card making and always comparing with other women "how they're coming along"- Are you done with your shopping? How's your wrapping? Did you send out your cards? And the truth is, unless you really love the person you're asking, you secretly loathe that woman when she says she is closer to being finished than you.
Women make the holiday. And in our house, the men just pay for it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Motherhood is like being pecked to death by a duck.

Michaela has been a bit... out of sorts lately. I'm not sure if it's Christmas coming up, going to bed too late, too much activity level; whatever it is, she's been doing lots of yelling, eye-rolling, pouting and arguing. And yes, she is still only seven years old.

She woke up last night at 4am and for whatever reason, decided to "surprise" me by getting out of bed, turning on a flashlight, picking out school clothes to wear, putting them on and then going back to sleep out on the couch in the living room. We heard her stomping around (thump, thump, thump down the hardwood-floored hallway) and when she finally settled down on the couch she was coughing quite a bit and I could hear the phlegm-y junk in her throat. She got up (thump, thump, thump) and paused in front of our bedroom door. I hear her stand there for about 45 seconds as she considered whether to enter or not. She decided to take the plunge and came, of course, to my side of the bed.

This was our conversation at 4am and I am not making this up.
Michaela, whispering: Mommy, I have a bad cough. Can I get a drink of water or iced tea?
Mommy, whispering: Umm, sure. Have a drink of water.
Michaela: Why can't I have the iced tea?
Mommy, stunned that EVEN AT 4AM, SHE IS QUESTIONING/ARGUING WITH ME: Have the water because it's better for you. Go to sleep.

This was my conversation with Jenna, roughly five hours later:
Jenna: Mommy, do you think this outfit will fit this baby or no?
Mommy: No, I think it's too small for that baby.
Jenna: Well, I think it will fit. See? (holds obviously too small outfit against baby's chest)
Mommy: Why does everyone who lives in this house ask me questions and then argues with my answer?
Jenna: I don't know.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Watching and waiting.

We are currently in the midst of the Great Tooth Watch, as Michaela is mere moments away from losing one of her front teeth. It is so loose that when she wiggles it, you can see the top of the whole tooth. She is quite fearful of body parts of hers just falling off so you can imagine how this is ringing her chimes. She fights me to brush her teeth in fear that she will push it out and then swallow the tooth and I feel like telling her that if she doesn't brush her teeth soon, ALL of her teeth will fall out from neglect... but I refrain. I am eager to see it gone so she can eat and maintain dental hygiene again, but am a little sad that she will look different. I have loved her gap-toothed smile since she was a baby and I will miss it.
In other news, we had a great Thanksgiving... very quiet and fun and low-key. My parents came over and we ate and played games and ate some more. I even coaxed my mom into doing a craft project. I did lots of baking and cooking and yes, my new handmade apron looked FANTASTIC. Dan made delicious appetizers of scallops wrapped in bacon and pigs in a blanket ("From scratch!" he proudly declared and I asked, "Using a tube of crescent rolls and a package of Ballpark franks is from scratch?" As my friend Michelle said after I told her this story: "Using meat grinder would be making it from scratch..."). The girls were great and we all named things we were thankful for at dinner, which was very sweet.

That's a bottle of Sam Adams Winter Ale, which makes the presence of a beer bottle in the middle of this lovely Thanksgiving picture of my mom and I slightly less tacky.

Our Thanksgiving craft: placecards. Super cute.

Our purple and orange frosted cupcakes and sugar cookies.

We decorated for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, as is our tradition, and Jenna has discovered a new favorite toy:

Yes, this a fairly-white-trash Hip Swingin' Santa, who was all the rage a few years ago but I was actually not going to put out this year because I'm kind of sick of looking at him. But Jennameister saw him and her eyes lit up: a new baby! She has named him Santy and drags him around the house and I have to hold him, feed him, play with him, etc, etc, etc. just like her other babies. Today she actually put baby clothes on him and I have to be honest: I felt a little bad for the guy. So... I took his picture and posted it on the Internet for all to see.

I am in full Christmas mode here, shopping and wrapping and carding and crafting and planning and QVC- watching. Because nothing is funnier than hearing the hosts say, "Ladies, you have bought gifts for everyone else... isn't it time you treated yourself??" and like a good consumer, charged by Henry Paulson to keep the US economy alive and kicking, I nod my hypnotized head and with slightly glazed-over eyes, I say, "Why, yes... yes, I should treat myself!!!"

But I don't.

Because QVC is a gateway drug... next I'd hit HSN and eventually work up to Shop NBC, which has the ugliest jewelry I've ever seen, and the next thing I know I'll be homeless, incoherent and buying loose jewels off of the late night infomercials on channel 3 on our cablebox from some Rescue Mission telephone. And that's really dirty.