The Pumpkins Barely Made it Out Alive!

After our arduous trek through the wilderness to obtain our Halloween pumpkins we came home with the intent of butchering the little dudes. We set them out on the table to admire our amazing gourd-picking skills and began mentally sketching out the perfect faces.

“Whatddya think kids?” Jer asked, butchering tools in hand. This is his forte. There’s something very parentally satisfying about carving your kid’s pumpkins. It’s a feat that somehow manages to both satisfy his “manly” side and fulfill one of his annual obligations to perform dad things, i.e. cutting down the Christmas tree, pulling a sled through arctic conditions, managing a kite in 30 mph winds, hooking up the slip ‘n slide and setting off fireworks. Carving pumpkins fits right in that list.

After much thought and consideration Avery answered, “I want mine to be a happy face with long eyelashes.”

“Sounds like a good plan, Av,” I answered. “How about you Jack?”

I could almost see the thoughts rushing through the little man’s already overworked brain and could only imagine the flashes of creativity he would soon be burdening his father with.

“Um, I fink I want a really scary looking one. Wike a mean one. But nice,” Jack explained.

“A really scary, mean but nice pumpkin?” I asked.

“No! A ghost one,” he said.

Oh, here we go.

A pumpkin ghost?” Jer asked.

“I said a ghost dat’s a pumpkin. Wike a Halloween one,” he said, completely exasperated with my holiday ignorance.

“O-o-okay,” I said.

“You know, wike Michael Jackson. Wike friller nights.” For those who aren’t currently versed in Jack-speak that roughly translates to, “You know, like Michael Jackson. Like Thriller nights.”

“Let me get this straight. You want your pumpkin carved like a ghost with a mean face but a nice personality in the style of Thriller?” I asked.

“Yep,” he answered.

A mean pumpkin with *a nice* personality. Yeah. That’s going to be easy.

Jer prepped his knife, sleeves went up andthen chaos ensued. The good kind.

As you can plainly see, Jack ended up with a very standard Jack o’ Lantern. This would be due to his quickly waning patience level and his father’s inability to successfully effect the King of Pop. I somehow managed to convince my son that his pumpkin although joyful in his facial expression was actually very sinister in spirit. It worked.

Halloween draws near and our pumpkins are ready to greet the trick-or-treaters. Here’s hoping I’m as ready as they are.

Happy Friday!


I’m not a “Crafter”

Gingerbread house

Have you ever noticed that the Christmas holiday brings with it the expectation that all those who celebrate will do so with creativity and imagination? There are cookies to bake, Christmas cards to craft, gingerbread houses to construct and candy to make. Your neighbors are decorating their front porches with wreaths and adorable little candy cane lanterns and possibly dropping by with baskets full of homemade goodies. You are expected, in turn, to do exactly the same thing…and enjoy yourself. After all, expending your creative juices is all part of the yuletide cheer, is it not?

Well, I’m here to attest that not all folks are cut from the same cloth.There’s your “crafters” whocanconstruct an entire Nativity diorama out of 3 pipe cleaners, 2 tongue depressors,some cotton balls, and a jar ofglitter. Andthen thereare the other people who, quite frankly, wouldn’t know a diorama if it came up and introduced itself. I guess I’m one of those people.I just don’t do crafty things. Andtrust me, I’ve tried. For instance, you may have read my post about my sewing machine. I had all kinds of grand plans for that little magic maker. I was going to make pillow covers and doll clothes. I even had this idea that I would try my hand at crafting Christmas table runners and throws. Well, I can’t. And please don’t try to throw me comments of encouragement like, “Yes you can, Mindy. Once you figure it out it’s sooo easy.” No, it isn’t. And quite frankly, if I try even one more time I’m pretty sure that I will cause bodily harm to the machine. Ugly bodily harm.

Even though I have long known I belong in the “non-crafter” class of citizen, last year I decided to deliver Christmas cookies to my surrounding neighbors. I bought these adorable little tins that I lined with wax paper and planned on adorning with raffia I bought at the craft store. Me…at a craft store. Wow. So I baked this kick-butt cookie aptly named “Ranger cookie” for its likeness to a trail mix bar. They have c’raisins and oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chips. And they’re huge. Which I hadn’t thought about. Which I’m pretty sure if I were the “crafter” type it would have been first and foremost in my mind when planning out my attempt at being all neighborly. I shoved and sorted those cookies at least a dozen different ways and finally was able to fit into each adorable little tin…two. Two frickin’ cookies. Not even enough to supply dessert for the typical “nuclear” family. Can you imagine delivering a Christmas tin with two cookies? I can. And I did. I also beat feet back to my house before any of the neighbors could open their tins and say something like, “Wow…you really shouldn’t have. This is…great. Um…thanks.”

I don’t think I’ll be delivering Christmas cookies this year. Quite honestly, I’m still recovering from the humiliation of last year’s debacle. I’m fully expecting to be paid back in turn by each neighbor any day now with chunks of coal and decade-old candy canes.

I bought a Gingerbread house kit this year because my daughter, Avery, has been begging me all season long to build one. It’s the easy type too…the Gingerbread house for Dummies…if you will.But you know what? It intimidated the heck out of me. That packagingwas staring at me for a week and a half before I finally gave in and assignedthe job to Jer. Youknow why? Because I’m not a”crafter”. Because I would havefound the one loophole in the “easy to assemble” instructions. My royal icing would havewent all to hell which means the house wouldn’t have stayed standing upright, the candy would havehad nothing to glue to and the finished result would haveprobably made both of my kids cry. But, Jer?

Yeah, hepretty much rocked it out. Figures.

Okay, so when God was handing out skill in the crafts department I’m pretty sure I was too busy talking to raise my hand for my fair share. But that’s okay. We can’t all be skilled in this particular area because otherwise nothing would be appreciated for the time and effort it deserves.Some of us have topurchase our crafts from Targetattempting topass them off as “homemade”. Hey, there’s a placefor all of us in this big ol’world. Embrace who you are and move on. I have. And you know what? Hairspray does wonders at removing those sticky pricetags.


Christmas Tree…an Update

Well, the tree went up yesterday and today was the day for decorating!

I always look forward to this part of the holiday season because I think there is such joy in sorting through ornaments of past and present. The kids love hearing stories about each ornament and then creating their own stories as we place them upon the tree. After decorating the treewe drink hot chocolate in front of a roaring fireplace and talk about our Christmas wishes.

Sounds lovely, right? Yeah, if you live inside a Hallmark card.

Let me explain to you how the real scene plays out.

We open up the Rubbermaid totes full of ornaments and the kids dive in head first, immediately fighting over who gets to put what where. I start yelling that we are going to “enjoy this moment and stop the arguing or no one is going to help me decorate the dang tree!”

I turn on Sounds from the Season to pipe in some much needed peaceful Christmas music only to be drowned out by Jer’s apparent need to watch…Monday Night Football. Ahh, nothing says Christmas like helmets crashing and announcers…well, announcing.

Desperate to gain a little control over this situation I assign each kid a job. Jack was to sort out the homemade ornaments, lovingly handcrafted by my grandmother decades earlier. Avery was to work on hanging the wooden ornaments.

This is what happened.


Adorable, yes. Practical, not so much.

And then this happened.


Jack started finding all kinds of things to throw on that tree like this tiny little stocking cap. He also managed to fit a pair of socks, Avery’s toothbrush and the dog’s collar on those branches.

I covertly began moving some of the “extra” ornaments off the tree and reorganizing the other ones he had so lovingly placed. I thought I was just about done when I looked down and realized he had followed behind me and reorganized my reorganization.

This was the point I stopped fighting the fight, sat down, put my feet up and enjoyed the scene unfolding before me. I saw a little girl enraptured by the beauty of the lights on the tree and appreciative of allthe hardwork put into each and every ornament. I saw a little boy with joy and love in his eyes as he takes in every moment of this holiday season with the pure excitement only a child can wholly embrace.

And then I saw this.


Our 2009 Christmas Tree, decorated with the love and devotion of my two kids, Jeremy and me. Monday Night Football was eventually turned off, we did drink those hot chocolates in front of the roaring fireplace and I heard all kinds of Christmas wishes.

Sounds lovely, right? It really was.


It’s tree time, folks!

Christmas Tree closeup

It’s a banner day in this suburban household. We set up the Christmas tree, finally. Jack has now agreed to give up his attachment to all things Halloween and has excitedly embraced the season of holly and evergreen.

Okay, not so much evergreen as an imitation of evergreen. Yes, that’s right. We’re the faux-Christmas tree type people. Every year, in lieu of cutting down our tree Jer heads out to the garage as I yell after him, “Make sure and pick out a good one! Big and full, okay?”

And he yells back as he climbs the attic ladder, “You got it! I’ll get the best one I can find!”

He then proceeds to dust off the tree storage jacket and hoists it down the ladder escaping certain death each and every time. We all stand in the living room ready to attack the individual branches, twisting and turning until we produce the best replicate for a real tree we can manage. We plug it in (pre-lit, thank you very much) and stand back to survey the gorgeousness of the Christmas faux-tree.

I haven’t always been a proponent for the fake tree. I grew up the daughter of a logger in a family where the mere thought of plastic branches would have sent shivers down our spines. Every December we would trek out into the great wilderness, most likely to a section of land spotted out well before the snow fell. My dad would cut down our tree with a reverance that only someone with a bonafide respect for the forest could muster. The ol’ family truckster would cart our tree home to be set up in its rightful place in the living room. Mom would flock that tree just to the point of being unrecognizable and on our eclectic array of decorations would go.

I carried on this tradition until about 3 years ago (all except for the flocking because, well,it’s justnot my bag. baby…and I’m pretty sure I can attribute most of my breathing issues and my brother’s general pissy nature to the chemicals in that stuff). Jer and I, along with family and friendswould hike up into the forest scoping out the best looking trees we couldfind. I would bitch at Jer because I was tired of hiking in the cold and was fairly sure I was beginning to lose toes to frostbite,Jer(in an effort to perpetuate all the love)would purposely suggest a tree that was utterly ridiculous, I would tell him he had no taste in trees, he would tell me he had no taste in women (I’m certain he only said this because I was 50 feet below him and he knewitwouldtake an act of God to get me to climb up thesnow-banked hill) and we would finally settle on a tree that neitherof us was all that happy with. The women-folk would then listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate bya firewhile the men figured out ways to tie down 10 and 12 foot trees onto the top of our rigs, with someone inevitably forgetting their straps. Ah, those were the days. Such a heartwarming tradition!

And then it happened. I was shopping after Christmas at Michael’s craft store when I saw it. A beautiful pre-lit Christmas tree. On sale. 75% off. Did I mention it was pre-lit? Did I mention that we likened putting Christmas lights on our tree to having our fingernails pulled out…one by one…while listening to Bob Dylan’s rendition of Little Drummer Boy? That putting lights on our Christmas tree brought out several kinds of “ugly” and I’m pretty sure revealed an alter personality in Jer that only presents itself during the holidays? Did I mention that it was 75% off? They were practically giving it away! It was like a sign from God that he didn’t want Jer and I to risk our wedded bliss by wrangling live trees anymore.

I snatched that discount tree up so fast I’m pretty sure the store personnel thought I was going to make a run for it. I wanted to get that tree up and paid for before I changed my mind. I knew that purchasing it would seal the deal…we would convert.

And we did. And I can say that neither one of ushas regretted the change one bit. Ah, sure, there’s certain things about a live tree we miss. We miss the fresh balsam smell and nostalgic feeling of a fir tree. We pretty much don’t miss the dried needles falling off at the mere whisper of a sneeze, the fear of spontaneous combustion with each passing day and the inevitable clogging of the vacuum cleaner.

Faux-tree or real, the symbol remains the same ~ the evergreen symbolizing hope for mankind and faith in our eternal lives.’Tis the season for love, peace and goodwill toward men. ‘Tis the season for comfort and joy. Ah, I love Christmas.

Now, one last thing to pull everything together ~ fresh balsam Glade plug-in, right next to the tree. Hmmm….it’s good.