A Little Elaboration

So I didn’t get around to writing about all the Christmas cookies I made: the Cranberry-Orange Biscotti, or the Rosemary-Pine Nut Shortbread, or the Raspberry-Cream Cheese Brownies (chicken food—under-baked), or the Turtle Bars (more chicken food—overly-browned pecans), but I’m just going to forgive myself and move on. There’s always next year…

I don’t even really know where to go with this post. I’m out of practice, writing-wise, and I don’t know how to say everything, or what to say of anything, so maybe I’ll say nothing. Nah, that’s too easy. How about a brief rundown of the past week, with a little elaboration on the points of interest?

In regards to my mother’s Birthday Bash, you can read about it here. Let me just add that when Yo-Yo heard that his Grandmommy was now sixty, he said something like, “She doesn’t even look old!”

That Sunday, after Mr. Handsome had walked around popping balloons and tearing down the paper chains, the Northern and Southern cousins descended upon us, and our house was immediately filled to the brim.

It was freezing cold outside, but that didn’t stop the children, even the Southern ones, from periodically dashing outside to jump on the trampoline.

And it didn’t stop me from frying donuts, outside on the porch.

Niece Lauren

When I set my mind on making donuts, there isn’t much that can stop me. Not even 15 degree weather. It was cold, people, cold! As in, leave a wet dishcloth on the picnic table and it promptly freezes solid. As in, take only one tray of the risen donuts outside at a time, plop them into the hot oil, and then rush the tray with its few remaining donuts back into the house before they turn into Dough Rocks.

Little Niece Claire noticed that my hands were freezing so she thoughtfully brought me her Mama Kate’s big, red, warm mittens to wear. Bless her little heart.

Here she is, chipmunking a donut while simultaneously glazing donuts and trying not to smile.

I think homemade donuts taste better in freezing cold weather.

Because trying to stay warm by jumping up and down and shivering violently does wonders for an appetite.

Which is good when there are donuts around.

That’s why it’s good to make donuts in cold weather.

On Monday evening the Southern Cousins performed Lumbricus Terrestris, a play in six parts.

It was The Real Thing—little neon wavy things distributed pre-show to the audience, props, memorized lines, songs, and even a game show complete with customized prizes for each mesmerized child.

Then the cousins left, and we had Major Meltdown on Christmas Eve. Ho! Ho! Ho! Come bedtime, Mr. Handsome and I were so exhausted that we simply could not stay up to get the stockings filled, so we set our alarm for midnight and went to bed with the kids. In the wee hours of the morning we stuffed stockings, left a note from Santa, ate the plate of cookies for Santa, put Rudolph’s carrot back in the crisper, set out a basket of peanuts (from Santa), left another little note from Santa on the whiteboard in the hallway, and then stumbled back up to bed…

Only to be awakened by Sweetsie at two o’clock—she was worried that Santa might get stuck in the chimney. For every hour or so, for the rest of the night, she would say, “Mama, mama, MAMA! Is it morning yet? Is it Christmas yet?”

It was a rough night.

(By the way, let me say here that we have always been very clear with our children that Santa is not real. However, back a couple years, despite our deliberate explanations, Yo-Yo insisted that Santa was indeed real. Mr. Handsome and I studied our options and then decided, What the heck, let’s have some fun with this.

Now, Yo-Yo and Miss Becca Boo are fully aware that Santa is not real, but even so, after hearing me give Sweetsie a big lecture on the Santa Myth, Yo-Yo said, “Can’t we just pretend that Santa’s real? I like it better that way.” I told him that yes, we would do that, but I just needed to make sure that Sweetsie understood that we were playing a game.

Apparently, if she’s up at night fretting over Santa getting his big rear jammed in our chimney, then she’s a little fuzzy as to the nature of this game. But at least I’m not lying.)

Christmas Day was low-key. Well, as low-key as a day can be when your children are subsisting on a corn syrup-based diet. They did not have naps, and we put them to bed at a blessedly decent hour, after which we got to watch a movie, just the two of us, and then go to bed at a not-so decent hour.

The next morning we were two hours late getting off for our trip to PA. Two hours! I think you can determine for yourselves, based on that information, on the texture (rough, smooth, satiny, coarse, prickly) of our morning.

We visited the Great G’s, and then my girlfriend Amber, who has moved back into her growing-up home. (Remember that house, the one I raved about?) On the car ride there, I regaled my children with all sorts of stories, about how the little ditch at the edge of the yard turns into a stream after it rains, about the two sets of staircases, about the five-story barn and how Amber and I pretended to be vets with all the barn cats, about the two-seater outhouse, about the fabulous basement—one of the rooms of which sometimes gets several inches of water on the floor. About, about, about…

By the time we turned into the mile-long driveway, my kids were psyched. They were pumped. They were twitching and chattering. We let them unbuckle their seatbelts (“Keep your butts on your seats!”) and perch on the edge of their seats, straining to be the first to see the bigger-than-life old stone house. Imagine their thrills (and mine) when we came to the little culvert-bridge and saw that the little gully was filled with water: “It’s a creek! It’s a creek!” We pulled up to the house, parked the van, and the kids jumped out and took off running. Before we could turn around and say “Hi, Amber, Merry Christmas”, they were the whole way down across the giant yard, on the other side of the creak, soaked and mud-spattered.

After shucking shoes and changing only the most-soaked clothing items, I gave the children a tour of the house (Guess what! The floor of the basement’s Bread Room was covered in water!) and then settled down to visit with Amber in the kitchen. Later we learned that the kids went wading … in the basement. But of course. It was clear that the kids had caught my enthusiasm for the place.

Then back into the van for a short little drive over to my Aunt Val’s where we met up with the rest of the family and for the next 24 hours we feasted and sang (fiddle, banjo, guitars, the spoons, a shaker, harmonica, a washtub bass), watched YouTube videos, played Take One, held the babies, congratulated the newly engaged couple, told stories and gossiped. Then last night after dark, we threw the melting down kids into the car and drove home through pea-soup fog, getting fabulously lost on I83 and having a crash-bang yelling fight, and then, upon finally getting home, falling into bed at midnight.

Miss Becca Boo and Yo-Yo were Mary and Joseph at church this morning, and now we are home, home, home. We’re eating cereal, reading books, cleaning and unpacking, doing laundry, and now I am sitting in my bed, the computer propped up on the Usborne Time Traveler Book, listening to Becca Boo’s radio belt out fuzzily “What a Beautiful Mess I’m In” (aaah-ah, ah-aaah), blogging. It’s an Ah-Moment, most definitely.



  • Unknown

    What wonderful photos of the get together. I hope Kate taped the play. Alex told us about it today on Skype. A late Merry Christmas and early Happy New Year to you all from lovely Exeter, Tasmania.


  • Jennifer Jo

    The big tiff was about NOTHING. I mean, nothing really important. It was just that Mr. H kept going THE WRONG WAY. Again and again and AGAIN! And then he was fumming outloud about it all, and that made me MAD—just figure out how to go the RIGHT WAY and STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!

    You know, dumb stuff like that.

    We still love each other. PASSIONATELY.


  • Sarah

    Loved your post JJ. It looks like you had a fun-filled week with all of the necessary and expected meltdowns that come with all that fun. Fortunately, we tend to forget that part over time and only the good memories live on.

    Your part about Santa cracked me up. To us, Santa means doing something nice anonymously for someone, but we still play the game on Christmas. I wrote a note from Santa and mentioned how the roof was so slippery that he came off in a hurry and made a snow angel where he landed. That prompted Rob to send me out in the snow at midnight to produce the snow angel. And that was the highlight of the kids’ morning – Santa’s snow angel outside the dining room window!


  • Kate

    What a jam-packed week! It’s ten here (eleven your time) and I’m still in my pajamas and not even thinking about breakfast yet. Definitely savoring the Aah-moment.

    We had such a WONDERFUL time with you in your cozy house. The kids periodically relive snippets…The donuts were delicious…I wish we had a trampoline…The wagon ride was fun…I miss all the cousins.

    And the Beautiful Mess song is making me laugh because Faith used to sit in the back of the car and sing “What an animal nest I’m in” at the top of her lungs with the great confidence that comes with being four.

    Thanks J for everything. Miss you all.


  • Anonymous

    Your such a good mom making those doughnuts. Especially in that weather. Your family will have such wonderful memories. I’d love to do that – I might be asking you how in the future. They look so good!

  • 40winkzzz

    Sounds busy but fun! At least you had one “low-key” day. And yeah, we’ve had a lot of that high-fructose-corn-syrup stuff floating around here, too, with weather far too rotten for the kids to burn it off. (Except for shoveling. That works.)

    And hey, even with your busy busy week, you made time to POST- which is more than I can say for myself. But I do have all 200-something Christmas pictures computerized and edited. That’s worth something, I suppose.

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