Friday, November 18, 2011

Advent for Book Lovers: what's on YOUR list?

OK, friends and cyber-pals -- it's time to help a book-lover out. As you may remember, last year I was quite fretful about the possibility that story-books are going the way of the dodo. You can read my lament here, if you are so inclined.

But while the urchins and I were weeping over the fate of good old-fashioned storybooks, I had so much fun sharing some of my family's favorite Christmas-y stories with you. This Book-Lover's Advent Calendar jogged our memories, and the urchins and I just loved re-reading our old winter favorites. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

So this year, I thought it would be cool to see what books you and your families have loved over the years. I have already heard from some friends about books that must, must, must be included on any list of holiday favorites, so now I'm asking you all to chime in: let's see if we can come up with twenty-four more books that are perfect for Christmas, Chanukah, Eid (that's your cue, Noor!), and just fabulously snowy and wintery days.

Bring it, people! Let's make an Advent Calendar!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A bummer -- but not a tragedy

So just look at this sad little fender bender! The girl in charge was just a wee bit traumatized when she was rear-ended on her way to school, but frankly, I was relieved when I saw how little damage was done to her fun little get-around-town car.

I did have the classic racing-heart moment when my phone rang at 7:15 that morning -- exactly eighteen minutes after the girl in charge and the sunny girl left on a drizzly Thursday morning on their way to school. The voice on the other end of the line was a slightly breathless sunny girl, who said, "Hello -- Mama? OK, we'll all fine, no one's hurt, but . . . " You can figure out the rest of that conversation! It turns out that after picking up a carpool pal, the three girls were stopped in traffic when they were hit from behind by a distracted commuter who didn't even see the traffic stopped in front of her.

The sunny girl said, "she wants to talk to you," and handed the phone to the girl in charge, my calm, cool, collected girl, who promptly burst into tears. When I got to them ( about thirteen seconds before the pal's mom showed up and approximately seven minutes ahead of the husband, who courteously paused to put on pants before he flung himself into a car), I was just glad that everyone seemed to be OK, and our car had managed to escape major damage.

But . . .

The little red car is almost ten years old, so it didn't take much to total it. The insurance company was d-o-n-e, done with us, thrilled to write us a check that so completely did not cover the cost of buying a reliable-if-used kid car. And I tell you what: if it hadn't been so sad, I would have laughed my ass off at the husband, who kept saying after we got off the phone with the insurance company, "This can't be right . . . . This morning we had a car . . . "

So the quest began for a new get-around-town car, and we turn out to be total creatures of habit.

Not only did we replace the fun little red car with an almost identical fun little red car. . . .

. . . but the girl in charge raced to place her Golden Snitch back on the antenna -- right where it belongs.

Here's a November prayer of gratitude -- that my girls and their friend are healthy and safe, and all we lost was a car.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

Everybody is home from school today, since it is Veterans' Day in the United States. When I was growing up, my dad (a Vietnam veteran himself) liked to remind me that its original name was Armistice Day. He is a history buff, and never has forgotten that the day originates with the Armistice that ended World War I ("at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month").

But I really like the name for this day used by so many of our Commonwealth nation friends -- I feel like "Remembrance Day" sums up what we should be doing today -- remembering and honoring the fact that there are people who are willing to go to war for us.

Around here we are specifically lifting up one veteran in particular -- currently deployed to Afghanistan -- and are so grateful to him for his fierce love of our country. We miss him just about all of the time on our happy little cul-de-sac. He is the cruise director of all of our neighborhood bashes -- they just aren't the same without him. And on weekend mornings we miss him stopping by for a cup of coffee while he's out raking leaves. He even has his own mug stashed in our cupboard!

This year the husband and the fabulous neighbor will miss their annual date to the Redskins v. Giants game for the first time in I don't know how many years; this would be sad except for the fact that the Redskins suck so bad this year that the husband is frankly relieved to skip the humiliation. We will miss our friend at Thanksgiving, but it will be fabulous to have his family at our feast.

The good news is he will be home soon -- and as always, his mug of coffee will be here waiting for him.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And then I saw (red).

So remember way back when -- when I was so overjoyed to have found these fabulous red shoes? I loved these pretty, pretty loafers, people! I wore them all the time. Also -- when I bought some for myself, I also bought some for Coleen, and I bought some for my sister. I'm generous like that.

tangent: true fact -- my sister bought herself -- and me -- a fantastic bright red raincoat, at the same time that I bought myself -- and her -- these stunning red loafers. We traveled together soon after, when we visited our family in Texas and Oklahoma -- dressed identically in red raincoats and red loafers. We were like weird adult Doublemint twins. Or Rockettes without talent.

Well, here's how pathetically in love with these shoes I was when I discovered them: I bought -- for myself -- two pairs of the rockin' red flats. My theory was that I would eventually wear them out (scuff them up too badly, run the heels down, wear a hole in them somehow), so I would keep a pair stashed away so that I would never be without them.

Sad, ain't it?

So here we are, two years later, and it turns out I was right; I did wear out the delicious red shoes. At some point, some beverage was spilled on them; I have a vague memory of cooking oil splashing and staining them. But the true point of no return was that a hole developed in the lining of the shoes, so I got a blister every time I wore them. You are noticing, I'm sure, that I said "every time." So you are correct if you assume that I wore those bitches many times knowing that a blister would be my reward. I'm ridiculous like that.

But finally I decided it was time to set the rockin' red loafers aside, and replace them with the identical rockin' red loafers I had stashed away for just such a day as this. I wore the new shoes to work one day last month, and then came home and took them off. I left them by our front door, which turns out to have been a big mistake.

This is what happens when delicious red leather shoes are left where the hellhounds can get them.

People, I got to wear them once. Once.

So the good news is that I know what I'm serving as a main course for Thanksgiving dinner: forget the turkey. We're having roast beast.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Snapshot: Cousin love!

Tell me these urchins aren't the bomb-dot-com!?!

"Fab Five": J. Holmes

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Snapshot: Three pretty girls and one tall boy

So the husband and I took the urchins to see Les Miserables at the Kennedy Center recently and had as swell a time as you can have while your heart is being wrenched by the poignant sadness of a story that is all about how these people are willing to die for those people, who realize too late how much these people loved them -- and then they all sing about how miserable life is now but how it will all be better when we get to heaven. And how "to love another person is to see the face of God . . ." Hang on. I need a tissue.


SHE came to see the play with us! And we were giddy with excitement, because although the tall boy clearly thinks SHE is all that, we couldn't wait to see for ourselves.

Turns out the tall boy is right.