Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!

If you have little kids in your life, you know how excited they get when it's their birthday. At some point, adults tend to grow out of that phase and meet the anniversary of their birth with something more like dread than joy. But not me. My birthday is very close to my favorite day of the year. It wasn't always - Christmas Eve is a really miserable time if you want to have a birthday party and actually have people attend. When I was about ten, I told my parents that I was really unhappy that we spent every December 24th running around doing last minute Christmas shopping. From that year on, my parents really rose up and did everything they could to ensure that the last minute shopping took place on December 23rd. It couldn't have been easy for my parents, my little brother was born on New Year's Day, twelve months and one week after me. But I have to hand it to them, they really did a great job of making us feel like just being born was reason for celebration.

And then I grew up and met and married my husband. His family celebrated birthdays quite differently. His experience was far more subdued and sedate. I remember when we were first dating his birthday came first and I showered him in gifts and cards and a birthday lunch and a birthday cake and decorations... and he was so overwhelmed with all the attention that he was actually uncomfortable the entire day! However, when my birthday came three month later, he was wise enough to make a huge deal out of it, much to my delight.

When I turned 25, Michael threw a pretty big surprise birthday party for me at the Disneyland Hotel. Family and friends gathered around for lunch and cake and presents (I remember it as my "Alice" year, as every single gift was an Alice in Wonderland item!). Even my co-workers at the Disneyland Resort swung by on their lunch breaks to wish me a happy birthday. I was blown away, because I'd never before in my life had a single birthday party, on my birthday. I'd had one party one summer on my half-birthday, but it just wasn't the same.

When I turned 30, Michael came up with the idea of having a big birthday breakfast for me. Friends would be willing to come for an hour or two on the morning of Christmas Eve to relax and celebrate before going on with their busy last-minute Christmas preparations. It was a little oasis in the midst of craziness. So every year we've repeated it. The friends and family are sometimes different, depending on travel schedules and out of town guests, but the tradition never fails to make me giddy and happy in way that you normally see in a 6 to 8 year old!
My Uncle Paul and my Aunt Pat, my Dad's youngest sister.

This year was a huge surprise to me, as my two aunts and one uncle came to join in the fun. I have never, ever spent a birthday with them, except perhaps the day I was born when they came down to the hospital to see the newest member of the Rose Family. My family is a little crazy. I say that with love and acknowledgement that I am a full-fledged member of that family. Even in the most dire of situations, we're always laughing and joking and full of energy. And it was so funny to be with my Aunts, being goofy and crazy while my in laws watched the entertainment unfold. They later commented that seeing my Aunts and I in action gave them a whole new insight into my personality!

The Rose Family and the Chase Family! Seated, left to right: Michael, Michael's Mom, Michael's Dad, Benjamin. Standing, left to right: The Birthday Princess, my Aunt Pat (Dad's youngest sis), my Uncle Paul, my Aunt Barbara (Dad's older sis), Nathan, and Tommy (who we count as family as he is our "adopted" son Christopher's younger brother). I neglected to get a shot that included the friends who showed up, but there were a few.

It was a great morning, and once the breakfast was done, we piled into the van and drove five hours up to my Mom and Dad's house. My Dad made my favorite Birthday Tacos, and then presented me with a cake (two cakes in one day, score!) and gifts. After they went to bed and we tucked in the boys, Michael and I ended the night with another long standing birthday tradition, our viewing of Mike Myer's So I Married an Axe Murderer. I love that movie so much! The comedy, the editing, the sound track, the San Francisco location... it's just the right combination of everything I want to see in a film. We've watched it each year on my birthday for the last 15 years.

Birthday Cake Number One: Carrot Cake (almost as good as my Mother-in-law's).

,

Birthday Cake Number Two: white cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting, and a candle celebrating my "20th Birthday Again!" Yum!


My Dad's famous Birthday Tacos. My parents would tell us we could go out to eat at whatever place we wanted for our birthdays, all I ever wanted was for my Dad to make his made-from-scratch tacos! It just isn't Christmas Eve with out some spicy salsa!

Then we went to bed ourselves, hoping to catch a few Zzz's before the boys awoke us wanting to open Christmas gifts. I do love my birthday. But even more than that, I love my husband who loves me enough to make my birthday the kind of day I look forward to all year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rose Parade Work Day

2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. To celebrate the occasion, the Boy Scouts entered a float in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. Rose Parade floats have to be covered in 100% natural plant items, like flowers, seeds, spices, or bark. Part of the Boy Scout float design included small replicas of each of the 120 merit badges that are possible for a Scout to earn. These were made into shields that were to be carried by 120 Eagle Scouts walking in the parade in front of the float. They enlisted Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from the Los Angeles area to come help decorate these shields. It was a big deal to be invited, as normally they don't let anyone under 12 in the big float decorating warehouses. We enthusiastically volunteered, even though it meant getting up at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday and working for two hours in a freezing cold warehouse. After all, working on a Rose Parade float is a rite of passage for Southern Californians!


Each Scout had to be paired up with an adult. I was with our oldest son Nathan, and Michael was with Benjamin. Nathan and I got the Mammal Merit Badge, and Michael and Ben got the Amphibian and Reptile Merit Badge. A man from the professional float company would come around and shout off a list of what seeds, spices, or flowers we needed, quickly pointing out what area each item should be placed where. It was a little confusing, and I kept repeating over and over exactly what he said. The world of flowers and seeds is quite foreign to me. We had to use plain white glue to paint on the shield and then sprinkle the seeds on or place them one by one with a pair of tweezers we wore around our necks on a string.

It was a bit stressful, because he was naming things we'd never heard of, with only a vague idea of what color they might be. The shield Nathan and I were working on featured a pale grey squirrel. He told us to use lettuce seed for the grey and onion seed for the black outline. We did the outline first, as instructed, and then went on a hunt for lettuce seed. Someone (not from the professional float company as I later discovered) had tried to be helpful and used a Sharpie to label the different seeds and spices. I found a container marked lettuce seed that contained very dark round seeds. It look suspiciously like the poppy seeds I’ve seen in my lemon/poppy seed muffin, but what do I know? I just do as I'm told. And the bucket was clearly labeled lettuce seed and I’ve never, to my knowledge, seen a lettuce seed before. And there was only one guy from the professional float company trying to manage 70 volunteers, all clamoring for his attention. So Nathan and I shrugged and dove in, hoping that perhaps the different textures of the seeds might read as different colors. It wasn't too long before our squirrel started to look more like a skunk than a squirrel. In the meantime, Michael and Benjamin were making amazing progress on their shield. It was stunning how beautiful theirs was turning out, while mine and Nathan’s was looking... less than beautiful. Quite horrible actually.

Nathan and I were plugging along, doing our best, when the professional float guy happened to walk past and caught a glimpse of our skunk. And he flipped out on us: That isn't lettuce seed, that is poppy seed! This is ruined! What am I going to do! I meekly held up the mismarked container that clearly said lettuce seed and he just put his hands to his face and made moaning noises: I'm going to have to think about this. I don't know what to do about this. It's obviously ruined.

I was feeling about an inch tall and quite miserable, not accustomed to messing up on something artistic and creative, and certainly not used to being yelled at! Nathan just looked up at me, biting his lip while his eyes grew huge and worried. The float pro took away our skunky squirrel and handed us a second shield which featured a gold bugle: You can't mess this up.

In the meantime, Michael and Benjamin had gathered a crowd around their amazing shield. I think that made me feel even worse (if possible)! I was really bummed out about the experience and tried to put a brave face on for Nathan's sake. After all, he is quite the artist, creating lots of small sculptural items using paper and fiber. I did not want him to walk away discouraged, especially as we had talked up the float building experience to make it seem like a once in a lifetime event. Which, when you think about it, it was.

We finally finished our two hour shift just as the next group of Boy Scout volunteers arrived. We were able to to walk through the rest of the giant warehouse and see all the other floats. It was amazing to see all the hundreds of volunteers that came together to cover each float with flowers. It reminds me of working in Theatre… you spend lots of time and money to create something that will be seen a few times and then ripped down and discarded. Sad if you stop to think about it, but wondrous for the people who get to see it in person and enjoy it! At least the Rose Parade is taped and viewed on TV by millions.

Here's a shot of Ben working on his shield and you can see our skunky squirrel at the top of the photo.



A masterpiece! Great job Benjmin and Michael!


Buckets of seeds and spices.

Here is the second shield that Nathan and I worked on. It represents the Bugling Merit Badge. It seemed impossible to mess up a simple bugle, right? Whew. We had layers and layers of clothes on to keep warm in the huge refrigerated warehouse. Brrrr!

The back end of the Boy Scout Float.
The boys in front of the float for the Boy Scouts of America.

The Rose Bowl Stadium with the staging tents set up on the lawn.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Class Party

After nursing Nathan and Benjamin back to health during November, I spent almost the entire month of December sick. Every time I'd start to feel better, I'd come down with all new, miserable symptoms. I had some high hopes for this December, especially because we had nothing major planned in the way of travel or huge time obligations. I thought it would be the perfect time to pull out all the crafting supplies and maybe do some baking with the boys. Instead, it was a month of Michael wrapping up loose ends on one project while at the same time he jumped into a new project, and volunteered what little free time he had on another project. This translated into a month of the boys and I not really seeing Michael at all! Without him around to help, I didn't have the time or energy to do anything other than hold the bare minimum together. I made sure the boys ate, had clean clothes to wear, and that the bathroom was clean. Which actually wasn't that easy to do since we finally had the contractor here to fix the bathrooms! The worst part was feeling sick and miserable and wanting to climb into bed and sleep all day while the boys were at school, but having a house full of workers and NOT wanting to climb into bed and sleep while they were here. So I sat on the couch, dazed and confused. The boys would come home from school just about the time the contractors would leave, and I would sit at the table, dazed and confused, trying to supervise homework. I have never been so grateful for dusk falling so early, giving me an excuse to get the boys in bed far earlier than normal so that I could climb into bed immediately after, and sleep until Michael got home at one or two a.m.



The one responsibility I could not shirk was that of planning and running the party for Benjamin's first grade class. Room Moms have three things they are responsible for: the Holiday Party, Teacher Appreciation Week, and the end of the year Park Day Party. The Holiday Party really sets the tone for the rest of the year, and as a volunteer, nothing frustrates me more than chaos! When people give up their time (and possibly a work day) to come and be in the classroom, I want everything to be very clear and free of frustration. I know things always go haywire when dealing with a group of 24 first graders, but I want to remove any of the frustrations that are possible to plan for! After all, if you can make it easy for the volunteers early in the year, then it is far more likely that come the last weeks of school you'll have plenty of volunteers for the Park Day Party when the kids are wily and wiggly and ready for Summer Vacation and you really need lots of volunteers! So I managed to pull together every last drop of energy I had and made Benjamin's class party flow easily and smoothly, with lots of clear directions, tons of fun activities with ample supplies, and a noticeable lack of chaos! It helps that Ben's teacher this year is incredibly well-organized and has her classroom tightly under control. I'm a huge fan of hers!



One of the activities was a fleece penguin hat. Another mother sewed up some black fleece into tubes, which the kids decorated with felt faces and googly eyes, then tied a string to gather it up and cut fringe into the top. Ben wore his most of Winter Break! I love classroom crafts that are original and don't just come out of the craft kits at Oriental Trading Company. But that's just me.



Allergies, especially allergies to tree nuts and legumes like peanuts, are becoming more and more severe and prevalent. The boys' school has designated "Peanut-free" tables in the cafeteria to help the kids who have the most severe reactions. But (surprisingly) the kids in Ben's class are totally allergy free! Which meant we could put together these sweet Rudolf sandwiches. One slice of bread, peanut butter, jelly, pretzel antlers, raisin eyes, and half a maraschino cherry for the bright red nose.

We had many other activities as well, including a wrapped book exchange. The kids all held the wrapped book they brought on their laps and sat in a circle. One of the fathers read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and each time he said the word THE, the students would pass their book to the right. It was fun for the kids, and funny for the parents who watched.


As soon as the day was over and the final bell rang, the boys and I walked home from school. I put on the movie Elf and let them go through their ample holiday loot (their classmates gave them things like movies, books, calenders, personalized stockings, and of course, tons of candy), while I climbed into bed and slept until they woke me up wanting dinner instead of just sweets. I guess I partied just a little too hard!

Friday, December 18, 2009

PJ Birthday

Michael's sister, Auntie Holly happened to have her birthday on Pajama Day at Nathan and Benjamin's school! So we took a little photo to create some birthday love for her. Unfortunately, she wasn't lucky enough to get to wear her pajamas to work on her birthday!

P.S. Nathan is sitting backwards on a metal trike. It looks a lot like a wheelchair in the photo, doesn't it? Weird.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is there a Handsome Prince in the house?

Sorry boys, I just couldn't help myself! The lines to meet the Princesses were quite long as soon as we got into the sound stage at the Studios. But as our allotted time drew to a close, we noticed the Princesses were getting restless, standing alone on their little stages, swirling their skirts with no one to talk to. So I forced the boys to go chat with some royalty. The only two we skipped were Princess Arial (as I mentioned in my last post, The Little Mermaid is my least favorite animated Disney film) who was sitting in a rock in her mermaid tail, and Pocahontas, who seemed just a bit too aggressive for this bunch of Disney Princesses!


Here we are with Disney's newest Princess, Tiana. She was quite sassy and fun, and pointed out to the boys that tucked away in a corner of the sound stage was her cupcake shop, where Mom and Dad could buy sweets for their little princes!

Here is our friends Ron and Selena's son Seth with Snow White. Seth was pretty enthusiastic about meeting the ladies, unlike my boys who rolled their eyes and dragged their feet.
Here's Nathan, chatting it up with Belle. I don't know what it is about Nathan. Sometimes he is the most socially awkward child you will ever meet. But put him in a chair at the hair cutter's with a pretty young stylist, or stand him next to a pretty young princess in a yellow dress and he becomes quite the smooth operator, flirting away in the way only a boy of nine can. So sweet.
And of course here's all the boys with Mulan. She is the toughest Disney Princess of all, and the one that my boys could actually find a little respect for. She did go to war and save China from the Huns after all!
And finally my favorite Disney Princess (because Alice is not a princess so I can't claim her), Cinderella. Poor Cinderella must have stayed up very late at the ball, because she seemed... tired. She seemed ready to split and head back to the Castle for a nap.

Very different from the first time Cinderella met Benjamin back in 2004 when he was 14 months old! She was wide awake, and quite taken with the handsome young prince in her arms!
Which I must confess is the reason why Cinderella is my favorite Disney Princess. How can you not love someone who clearly adores your child? Impossible!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Walt Disney Studios

After a lonnnng winter's nap, we bring you back to our day at the Walt Disney Studios!

First off, let me show you the Studio Water Tower! The weather was so beautiful when we arrived, but cloudy and sprinkling when we left. I'm so glad we snapped this photo right when we got there! This is the icon for The Walt Disney Studios, which is visible from all over the studio lot. Construction on the tower began in 1938 and was completed in 1939. It no longer functions, but when it did, it originally held 150,000 gallons of water. Fun fact: The picture of Mickey and the words were not painted on until 1986! Also, the tower itself is 135.5 feet tall. That's only 11.5 feet shorter than the Matterhorn in Disneyland!

After the movie, we were brought to a sound stage where we got to visit every single one of the Disney Princesses! I was much more excited than the boys! But the boys were excited about the Bayou obstacle course and the carnival-style games where they could win Princess and the Frog trading cards.
Following hours of fun in the sound stage which included drawing lessons from one of the animators on the film, we enjoyed a private tour of the Studio grounds with Dianne, a tour guide from Disneyland specially brought in to show us around. We started in the famous Animation building that Walt Disney built with the profits from Snow White. Walt was very concerned for his animators, and the building was designed in a series of four "wings" which allowed every person to have a large window for natural light. It was amazing to walk the halls which were lined with original animation cels and concept art, including a painting for Alice in Wonderland (my all time favorite).


After walking through the Animation building, we came outside and found ourselves right in front of the Team Disney Building. It houses the offices of the Disney Board and CEO. The building was finished in 1990 and features the Seven Dwarfs holding up the building, a nod to the fact that the revenue from Disney's first full length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, allowed Walt to purchase the 50 acres the Studios sit on back in 1939.
Here are Benjamin and Seth sitting on the statue of Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse. This statue has a twin in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which Roy fought to open after Walt Disney's death.
For those of you who frequent Disneyland in California, this statue should look familiar! It's the famous Partners statue which has a twin just in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. They are the same size, but the one at Disneyland sits high up on a pedestal surrounded by plants, so it looks much larger! I was hesitant to do it, but we were told it was okay for the boys to stand up there to take a photo.
The gorgeous exterior of the Frank G. Wells building, which houses the Disney Archives. It was completed in 1997 and dedicated to Wells who was President and COO of The Walt Disney Company for ten years before he died in a helicopter crash in 1994. Inside the building we got to wander around costume pieces from many beloved Disney films and a hat gallery displaying hats from a wide range of movies and TV shows.

Here is Michael's sister, Holly, in front of the flat, black costume hat for everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins. There was also a cowboy hat worn by Darlene from the original Mouseketeers and even the leather tricorn hat made famous by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
A cancelled check, bearing Walter E. Disney's signature marked "Balance due on Packard Clipper, per invoice dated 5/14/41" in the amount of $621.82. Look at that amazing autograph!


The last stop on the tour was the corner of the building that housed Walt's office at the time he passed away. The contents of the office were preserved and placed on display at Disneyland for many years before being shipped off to Walt Disney World, about fifteen years ago. I remember seeing the display many, many years ago and being struck by the miniature reproduction statue of Copenhagen's Little Mermaid from the original Hans Christian Andersen story which was sitting on his desk like a paperweight. I knew that Walt had visited Tivoli Gardens in Denmark in the 1940's, his inspiration for Disneyland, and must have seen the beautiful statue of a forlorn mermaid, sitting on a rock. I remember wondering if Walt had looked at the Little Mermaid statue and imagined creating an animated film of the story, and if it would have been anything like the Little Mermaid movie that the Disney company actually created in 1989. I doubt it, as the original story was so tragic and the "Disney" version is, well, not (it's by far my least favorite).
Walt's office is on the top floor in the corner. Today it's a working office for David Cassidy of Partridge Family fame. Go figure! I can't fully describe what an incredible day this was. As a lifelong fan of Disney, it was a huge treat. Holly is an artist who gave serious thought to becoming an animator at one point, so this was a major high point for her as well. As we drove home, I mentioned to Michael and Holly that one day the boys will realize what an honor this was. But Michael disagreed, and said that our boys are going to be so used to these perks that they may miss the value. I really, really hope not!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Princess and The Frog

Many months ago we had the opportunity to get tickets for an amazing experience at The Walt Disney Studios. We could screen their latest film, The Princess and the Frog, and then have four hours to play on a sound stage set up with fun activities and meet all the Disney princesses. We got six tickets with the idea that the two extra tickets would go to some very specific people. Unfortunately, the people we had in mind were not available, so we asked Michael's sister, Auntie Holly, and one of the boys' friends, Seth, to come with us.
Unlike places such as Universal Studios or some of the television studios in Los Angeles, The Walt Disney Studios are not open to the public. In fact, they aren't even open to Disney employees unless you have a specific reason to be there. So getting to be among the first people to go see a screening at the actual studios was a big deal.
The film itself was classic Disney - hand drawn animation, big musical numbers, a brave heroine, an evil villain who gets what he deserves, singing animals, and a love story. We all enjoyed it, even the three little boys (despite the word "princess" in the title).

The best part for the adults, however, was after the movie and the four hours playing around on the sound stage with the princesses, was getting a walking tour of the Studios themselves! More photos of this unprecedented event to come!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

I grew up in Simi Valley, CA, in a neighborhood with a huge stone synagogue. Many families on my block were Jewish. It always seemed like we were the only ones without a menorah displayed prominently in the front window. For many years I actually thought I was Jewish too, and begged my neighborhood friends to teach me words in Hebrew. We participated in many Hanukkah, Passover, and Sabbath celebrations with our friends who were happy to have us there to join them.
Fast forward 30+ years to this year, when six-year-old Benjamin went to the book fair at school and came home with his wish list of books. Every single book was about Hanukkah! I asked him why, and he told me confidently that it was because we celebrate Hanukkah. I told him that we didn't, but he was quite sure that we celebrate it every year. Of course, we do play with dreidels every year, but that is hardly celebrating Hanukkah. His enthusiasm, and matter of fact assertion that we do indeed celebrate it, didn't wane even slightly for an entire week. And so that is how we found ourselves pulling out a menorah, making latkes, and spinning dreidels on the first evening of Hanukkah. Ben was beyond thrilled, and took his responsibility of lighting candles and reciting blessings quite seriously each evening.



Nathan was pretty excited to find out that there were eight nights of gifts. Basically I just gave them what would have normally gone into their stockings. Considering last year was the first year we ever had stockings, I don't think they'll miss it this year.


Benjamin's first grade class does quite a bit of cooking. This week they made potato latkes, and Ben was insisted we do it at home as well, with some sour cream (which they loved) and applesauce (not so much).

Of course there was plenty of playing with dreidels. For our gelt we used little teddy bears instead of pennies or chocolate coins.

Michael has been tying up loose ends on one project and starting up a new one and he hasn't been home much at all. So he didn't get to experience observing Hanukkah until the very last night.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sweet Tooth

For at least the last twenty years, my Mom has been making this cherry cobbler-type dessert. She makes it just about every time we go to visit her, and she always makes it for breakfast. If you use your imagination, it's almost like a cherry pancake. At any rate, it's my favorite dessert that she makes. When I think of her house, it's the smell of this dish baking that I think of! I always thought it was so complicated that I couldn't handle making it myself. I'm not the baker in the family - Michael is. But when she gave me the recipe and I made it for a potluck, I was shocked at how simple it was. So in the spirit of giving, and in the spirit of massive amounts of holiday parties for the next month that you might need to bring a dessert to, I give you this recipe. Use it well!

Grandma Rose's Cherry Dessert

Ingredients:
1 21oz can of Comstock's More Fruit Cherry (Generally on deep discount this time of year!)
1 cup sugar
1 cup self rising flour (Different from normal all-purpose flour! Don't confuse them!)
1 cup milk
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter

Directions:
Place butter in 9x13 inch pan, place in oven. Turn oven to 350 degrees F.
While oven is heating, mix batter of sugar, self rising flour, and milk.
Once butter has melted, pull pan out of oven and pour in batter.
Spoon cherry filling onto top of batter.
Place pan back into the oven.
Bake 45 minutes.

You could technically eat this cold, but if you taste it while it's still warm (but not bubbling) from the oven, you'll never want to eat it cold again! Enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pajama Party!

Our friend Amy throws a huge Christmas pajama party each year for our friends who have kids. Everyone dresses up in their pj's and brings a breakfast dish to share. This is a group who knows how to throw a potluck... so many yummy made-from-scratch items to choose from! I made a baked cinnamon and cream cheese french toast dish. Mmmm...

The nice thing about wearing your pj's to a party is that it's very comfy. You don't have to suck in your stomach or deal with achy feet in high heels. The unfortunate thing about wearing your pj's to a party is that no one above the age of 11 looks good in their jammies! We all look a bit like lumps! The kids had a blast though. We do a gift exchange for them and it's completely chaotic and so much fun to see 30 kids ripping into the gifts at the same time!
Here are about two-thirds of the kids this year (they wouldn't all fit in one photo!). Last year it was a much smaller group, lots of new kids this year!
Here is my little family! It's the one party that Michael actually had space in his busy schedule to attend! Which is good, because don't you love the matching theme I've got going on here with all the red, white, and black? How many more years do you think I'll be able to get away with it?
Last year Michael wore his actual pajamas, which were threadbare flannel pants and a raggedy tee. I knew better this year and snapped up a snazy red plaid pair well in advance of December. Poor guy. He's so busy and unaware of all the crazy things on the calender at home. He got home and I thrust a bag at him and said put these on. And he did, no questions asked. I love him so.
This is the party after the party. The group of people who love to sit and gab and laugh and have a good time and can't get enough of each other even when they see each other several times a week. You know the group... they're the ones who are still there after everyone else has gone home and the poor hostess is left with just the people who don't know that it's time to leave? I mean, normally when the hostess puts on her pajamas you know it's time to go. But in this case, we were all already in them. So when she started posting photos of the party on facebook, we decided it was time.

Don't tell anyone, but these are my favorite people anyway. And the nice thing is that we were all blessed with only boys. And all our boys love each other so much that we can actually sit and talk late into the night without them getting bored and begging to go home!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let the parties begin!

This is the time of year when every Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon is filled to the brim with holiday parties and gift exchanges. It's exhausting!

First up, the Cub Scout Christmas Dinner.

This party was a potluck, and I was on my own with the boys. Michael was stage managing a show, so I had to take the kids myself.

There was a huge miscommunication regarding one of the activities. At first, we were told that each boy would need to furnish a centerpiece for half a table. Then, we were told that each boy would need to bring some arts and crafts supplies and actually decorate the table, not just bring a centerpiece. So, being the arts and crafts maven that I am, I brought along a bunch of craft supplies and rolls of colored paper for the boys to make something with. Of course, when I walked through the door, each table already had a nice red table cloth on it and there were plenty of lovely centerpieces... Ugh! So, I made Nathan and Ben sit down and make a couple of paper snowflakes before they ran out the door to play in the courtyard. The kids got to play for about an hour and a half while the adults socialized. Of course, since Michael is the one who takes the boys to their meetings, I didn't know any of these adults. I felt awkward and tried to insert myself into their conversations, but it soon became apparent that these people have all known each other for many, many years, live next to each other, and even vacation together. So I sat and make nearly one hundred paper snowflakes, nodding and smiling when appropriate. I covered the table in them. Sometimes a few of the Cub Scouts would come inside and I'd show them how to make one and then they'd run off again. At the end of the night, they gave out a prize for the best centerpiece. Guess who won? Why, that would be yours truly, the Snowflake Queen.

Because it was a potluck, I made my favorite party recipe, baked beans that cook for hours that are highly addictive. I also made up a huge Cesar salad. I was a little surprised to find that everyone else had something delivered - pizza, fried chicken, a tray of pasta, store bought cake, etc. I always think that I'm the world's worst cook. I'm not, actually. People who eat my food can attest to that. I just really don't love to do it the way so many other people do. It's not my thing. I guess in my mind, a potluck means homemade food, not Domino's delivery. But it did give me the warm fuzzies to note that when I left, every last bean was gone and the salad was totally devoured. You couldn't say that about the pizza. And when a group of boys are involved, that's saying something!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One Week Old!

I've received a deluge of email regarding my tiny baby cousin Brooke so I thought I would give you an update! First of all, Mama Vanessa stabilized enough to go meet her baby when she was a few days old. Just being able to hold her daughter helped bring her blood pressure down. A few days later they finally gave Vanessa the all clear to go home. Of course, the sad part is that Baby Brooke will remain in the NICU until possibly January 30th, her original due date.


But considering this little Miss is completely off all supplemental oxygen, has already gained back the 8 ounces she lost after birth, and is growing stronger every day, no one will be surprised if she gets to come home just a tiny bit before that.

You never want to mess with any of the Rose women. They are all pretty tough chicks! Even the tiniest one!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting in the spirit...

Thanksgiving weekend! Is there a better time to dig out the Christmas decorations and begin the long process of decking the house with lights and merriment? Is there a better time for Mama to make herself scarce, where she can't view her baby climbing around on the rooftop?

Please note Ben's shorts and tee shirt. It was 80 degrees this weekend! Nathan took the time to lay on the roof and tell Michael that he was going to work on his tan...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Twenty-seven and 50,000

27 days. Little sleep. Lots of support from family and friends. 50,000+ words.

I did it! Three days early! I wrote all morning, afternoon, and evening with just a two hour break for dinner at the Chase's house so that I could plow through nearly 6,000 words. And at about 10:00 p.m., I copied and pasted what I'd written so far into the word count verifier at the National Novel Writing Month website and this screen popped up:There was dancing. There was singing. There were a couple of smiles that stretched from ear to ear. And then I tore into my special you-finished-NaNoWriMo-gift to myself, Stephen King's latest 1,000+ page novel, Under the Dome. There will be no more writing until I'm done reading! Hooray!

My novel is only "finished" because I met the NaNoWriMo requirements of 50,000 words in 30 days. My novel is not really anywhere close to actually being finished. It's more like a really rough first draft. I need a little time away from it to decide if it's worth picking back up and making something great out of it, or walking away and starting something new. But I've got 1,000 delicious pages of my new Stephen King book to get through before I even think about making that decision!

Thank you to everyone who gave me such amazing words of encouragement during this crazy month, especially my husband and my amazing boys! And yes, I can tell you that I would totally be up for doing this again! And you have eleven months to decide if you want to do it with me...



Day 27: 50,160 words!