a christmas post: pictorial style (IT"S JOURNALISTIC)

Despite our original plan to have Christmas in St. Louis this year being DERAILED (See how I did that? TRAIN language is becoming a part of my daily vocab.) it was one of my favorite Christmas' ever. Here's how Christmas Eve and Christmas Day went:

Christmas Eve AM: Trip to the Krogers.

I actually did attempt a photograph of the madness but as I was pointing my phone mid-air (like I was at a concert shaking my hips like yea) some woman ran in to me with her cart and gave me a nasty "get out of my way" talking to (MERRY CHRISTMAS NEW FRIEND!!) and I went about my business like a good little holiday procrastinator.

Christmas Eve Afternoon: The Cooking

Potato Casserole? WHAM:
Lasagna for Christmas dinner? BAM.

Chicken Enchiladas for the Homeless? THANK YOU M'AM.
(And Karl helped me roll all those eeeeenchhheeladas. Christmas Eve bonus points for him.)

Dishes: BOO.
Christmas Eve Night: Party Under the Broadway Bridge

Our nephew Simeon was in town and came to help:
I'm happy to say that we passed out all our sleeping bags, gloves, socks, scarves and food. It was amazing.
Christmas Day AM:

We skyped with my parents and sister. Here is a screen shot of mom opening the gift I sent her. (P.S. I love you Internet.) Then we received a call from Simeon (shown above) at 8:45 in the a.m. saying that they'd been waiting for HOURS and could we please hurry? Christmas Day AM continues with some gift opening and a gorgeous breakfast and lunch with a full table:

Christmas Day PM:

FAMILY NAP TIME. I do not have a photo but it was GLORIOUS. Then we headed out of the city to Karl's dad's house where Karl received a shotgun (excuse me, a RIFLE) from his dad. As Nate would say "NO NO NOT SCARY" when things are very, very scary.

Christmas Evening: Home!! I made Christmas dinner! It wasn't exactly a typical Christmas meal but I had such a great time cooking and hosting. We had some family and some friends without family in town over.

We ended the evening with a little "Christmas Vacation" watching! HA!
Let me know if you put up a Holiday Recap and I'll link it here.


my nightly television appearance tra la la

Another part of our cookie party the other night was to collect donations from our friends and family to take to our Christmas Party under the Broadway Bridge here in Little Rock. What is the Broadway Bridge you might ask? Oh it's a bridge. On a street (Broadway). It's also where much of the Little Rock homeless community gathers. Our church group decided that we would distribute food once a month from a certain parking lot under the bridge. Christmas Eve is one of our nights. We are hosting a Mexican fiesta and attempting to provide some additional holiday cheer (we have a tree and are wrapping up gifts like coats, blankets, scarves, socks and more).

Today my lovely friend Christen and I were packing up bags and wrapping up food and scarves when we heard a local news station (Thanks Channel 11!) was headed our way. We both had a momentary FREAK OUT about our unshowered, ponytailed appearances and then they were there and done with a quickness!

Christen did all the talking. Here she is on camera:

And packing boxes: (Yes, these are photographs of my television as I paused my DVR. WHAT? IT WAS EXCITING.)

There was a brief interview and then some shots of Christen and me packing bags up and laughing. Here's a frame of me agreeing with her about how AMAZING our event is going to be.

And, most importantly, here are some of the items we collected.
We decided to do this, um, not many weeks ago (and our church is teensy; like 30 people) and we have enough for 50 to receive gloves, hats, hand warmers, scarves, socks and packets of hot chocolate and non-perishable foods. We have some sleeping bags and blankets but can always use more. (And we are on the look out for ponchos as it is supposed to be rainy/sleety tomorrow). Here is more information. If you can help, let me know. If it's too short of notice, we will be doing this once a month and are saving whatever coats and hats and other warm bits that don't get distributed for next month (if we don't find folks to give them to sooner).

(P.S. BOOSH. TAKE THAT CHRISTMAS. I'm totally winning at Christmas this year.)


cookies and bacon and wine oh my

Last week I decided to have a cookie decorating party at my house. I sent out an email and asked a group of friends to keep their Tuesday night open. Then I did nothing about it all week. Sunday night at 10 p.m. I started to panic a bit and started making batch after batch of cookie dough. (Who knew sugar cookie dough had to chill overnight? Or at all?)

Cookie dough: CHECK.

Monday I was fortunate to have the day off work and was joined by some amazing friends to bake all afternoon. The goal was to have the cookies dunzo for the party so we could concentrate strictly on decorating them (and drinking wine).

Finished cookies (wrapped and up high in the cabinet to keep away from little hands and doggie tongues): CHECK.

The day of the party dawned and it went something like this:

9 a.m. Drink coffee; lounge around w/ Nate in our pajamas watching Christmas movies. Take him to the park and to lunch in an attempt to exhaust him for a nap.

1 p.m. Realize nap is NOT happening, give it up and start to panic because the house is total chaos and 1o people are coming over that evening. Look with dismay at the four (that is a conservative estimate) piles of clean, unfolded laundry in my living room.

1:15 p.m. Call Karl in complete panic.

1:30 p.m. Start cleaning. When I try to sweep, Nate wants to sleep. When I try to vacuum, Nate wants to vacuum.

2:00 p.m. Deep breathing in paper bag. Secure a spray bottle of water and send Nate to the bathroom to "clean the bathtub."

4:00 p.m. Beg Karl to come home from work early b/c I need to run to Kroger and the liquor store.

4:30 p.m. Go to Kroger and become obsessed with the idea that MY HOUSE MUST SMELL LIKE CHRISTMAS. Look for christmas-scented candles. PANIC b/c I can not find any (for some reason the candles seemed like a REALLY important detail). Stomach starts hurting. Call mom on phone and she assures me that Cinnamon is most definitely a Christmas smell and that the scent of evergreen (and/or sugar cookies ala candle) makes her gag and break out in hives. Buy Cinnamon candles (among other things).

5:00 p.m. (Two hours until guests!): Hit the liquor store for some wine. Get in line behind two ladies both WRITING CHECKS for enormous bottles of Woodbridge chardonnay. Head comes dangerously close to exploding at this point.

5:30 p.m. Arrive home and hop in the shower. (Rookie mistake here; always shower early if you are hosting an event at your house; last minute details always take too long!). While in shower, hear incessant doorbell ringing. (Left my door wide open and Karl (bless him) took Nate to Playtime Pizza). Think it's my friend Kristen coming early to help me set up but wondering why she doesn't just COME IN ALREADY. Think maybe I locked the screen door. Rinse shampoo out of hair and run to the door in towel. Realize it is my father in law NOT my friend. Run back and put some pajamas on. (Not awkward at all!) (He was dropping something off for Karl.)

5:45 Put on a dress. Look in mirror. Hair is sopping wet; legs not, ahem, quite in dress condition. Curse aloud and with feeling. Decide jeans and flip flops are a better option. Sigh, throw wet hair in ponytail and call it good.

6:00 Light candles and start making dip. Realize dip has bacon in it and THAT HOUSE WILL NOT SMELL LIKE CHRISTMAS IT WILL SMELL LIKE BACON. Curse aloud and with (possibly excessive) feeling. Make bacon anyway (because bacon cheese dip is WORTH IT). Open all windows and turn on attic fan (because it was 70 degrees yesterday!).

6:30 Kristen arrives and (after a brief assessment) immediately opens the wine and pours me an enormous glass. I can't get the tree lit (why was the plug wrapped around a branch I ask you!?!) so she does that and we decorate the tables together.

7:00 Guests arrive and I beg them to lie to me and tell me IT SMELLS LIKE CHRISTMAS, right? Right! Realize the guests are all people who are at my house once a week anyway and start to relax.

7:30 Drink copious amounts of wine, listen to Christmas carols, discuss the last time we all decorated cookies and make some CUTE cookies. Laugh and enjoy that I'm at a CHRISTMAS PARTY having a good time. Feel thankful for friends (and cookies and attic fans and bacon dip).

Photographic evidence THAT IT HAPPENED as follows:

Those damn candles (which, as it happens, did wind up smelling quite delicious & christmas-ey):
Starting to relax and on my first glass of wine (in my girl robot apron from my friend Jaime):
The most-of-the-group shot (I made the cookies; they all contributed the icing and sparklies and yum yum toppings and more delicious cheesy dips!):
The decorated cookies ready for their Takhomasaks:


may they rest in peace

We've had several ornaments sent to ornament heaven this year. Some have been designated to the ornament hospital b/c they are (possibly?) repairable.
headless reindeer, tailless razorback

Total ornaments down or deceased: 4.

Other than that, our Christmas plans have been pretty calm. We've been trying to do a lot of THIS:


al capone y'all

Last week I worked an event my company had been planning.

It was in Hot Springs.

Al Capone was there.

I know you're sad you missed him.

So I took a picture of him (and me).

I got to wheel him into our conference room after the party was over for safe-keeping.


holiday cheer: WAAAAAAAAAAY outside my comfort zone

Photo Courtesy of Greg Henderson
(I'm in the second row behind the girl in blue shirt - right hand corner of the screen)

So my amazing friend Sarabeth created The Joy Project in Little Rock to help celebrate and bring JOY during the Christmas season via FLASH MOB! (For those who don't know, a flash mob is when a seemingly unconnected group of folks are supposedly wandering around and then break into spontaneous (and choreographed) dance!)

Those of you who know me well can attest via the comments that this project is WAAAAAAY outside my comfort zone. Seriously. Way. Outside. I was having PTSD flashbacks to my sorority rush skit days and sorority sisters leaving in tears of frustration b/c my jazz hands just weren't JAZZY enough. (Cue: 'What I like about YOU' lyrics with "What I like about Chi-O" and me huddled in a corner twitching and moaning NOOOOOOOO).

Sarabeth pretty much had to drag me down the stairs at the UALR basketball game shown above. After it was over, I was all high on happiness (just like running a 5K runner's high!) and joy. It's an amazing project and I'm so happy she invited me to be a part of it.

I'm making Karl and Nate go with me this afternoon for our performance so maybe I'll come back and add some video later tonight. If you are in town and want to see the performance text me or email me and I can send you the super-secret location!


little bit of Christmas community CHEEEEEER

We attended Karl's work party at the Arkansas Governor's Mansion this past week. We were greeted at the door by Governor Beebe (which was a complete SHOCK and amazing! I really wanted to ask for a photo with him but no one else was and I didn't want to be the TACKY one. Sigh. I really wish I had though - tacky or not! He even poured some wine for some of the guests.)

Here a shot looking down the stairs over the ballroom:

I have to tell you that I bought this dress (and two others) thirty minutes before the party (at Schmarget). I wasn't able to try any on because I had Nate with me and was in a rush. (I took the other two back to the store today.) This was my last choice and a last minute "eh-i'll throw it in the cart" purchase (see also: maybe it's a shirt?). Needless to say the other two looked horrid and this one, well, it worked! CUTE, right?

The only problem? Since it was my last choice, I had no shoes to match. (I really need some brown boots.) With 15 minutes to spare before the party, my friend Sarah offered her shoes (a little too big for me) and pointed me to Kerri, who had like SEVEN amazing pairs in my size and lives within a couple miles of me.

Boom. Problem solved! We decided on some sassy cowboy boots and hit the road. (Karl was not stressed at all I SWEAR.)

AND we were even 5 minutes early.


Oh and also:

Fancy Arkansas seal plates w/ delicious food:

I finally feel like Christmas might actually happen this year.


Nate: Year 2, Month 5

Before I unleash my CHRISTMAS SPIRIT series of posts on you (And I am seriously TRYING this year but I do have to tell you that while I was out of town for work this week that Karl took Nate to go buy a tree b/c I was refusing one this year. They snuck it in and texted me a picture of it!) , I thought that I would do a quick Naterpants update since it's been a bit and he's HILARIOUS lately.

He's been answering all questions of "Who taught you to play softball?" or "Who made you so smart?" or "Who taught you to stand up straight?" with a FIRM "Ms. Monique." (Ms. Monique is his very favorite teacher though lately he's been throwing some Ms. Marcias in there.)

He's been adjusting to school well and being away from me more. (Though nap time is still a battle - at home and at school). I can definitely tell he was "mad" at me for a while and he often prefers Karl to me these days. I went to pick him up from school a couple of weeks ago and he took one look at me and said "I want Daddy" and tried to GO BACK INTO THE SCHOOL. (My heart, shattered)

He has ZERO interest in the p-o-t-t-y. Sigh. I'm resigning myself to diapers until he goes to college.

He has been big on saying "It's perfect" about all things temperature related.

Me: Is your bath too hot?
Nate: No, not hot. Not cold. It PERFECT mommy.
(My heart, mended.)

Related: The temperature of mac n cheese, the outdoor air, the warmness under the covers.... It's all "PERFECT."

He is still a bundle of SERIOUS energy and being indoors b/c of the cold is NOT easy on him. We go out as often as we can. He had big issues with wearing a coat for weeks. He refused. Mostly, I tried not to make a big deal about it but when the air got too cold, we started forcing the issue. He puts it on willingly now though I have to assure him he can take it off once we get inside. We're working on hats and gloves (because GOD FORBID we try to keep him warm).

He also will still only wear the ONE PAIR of shoes. I have to tell you that this initially bothered me. Mostly b/c I would put other shoes on his feet and he would scream like someone was murdering him and fall down like he had lost the ability to walk. But, now (other than wondering if his teachers think it's weird) I don't mind. It's, um, cost effective. And we did just purchase some new tennis shoes for him and are having some luck. And by luck I mean he will hold them and say "new shoes" b/c we haven't attempted to actually put them ON his feet yet. (Who would have thought shoe wearing would be such a parenting issue?!)

Oh ALSO over the weekend, I thought Nate was quietly playing by himself (A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE itself!) when I walked into the kitchen to find my favorite purse SHARPIEfied. It was a sad, sad moment y'all. For real. (The sharpie was IN the purse). Thankfully, the sharpie didn't extend to the cabinets or the couch in the kitchen. Because that is most assuredly NOT coming off.

And finally, I realize that some of you haven't had the JOY of listening to my 2 year old's 80 year old man voice. I present (it's somewhat long and of poor quality; I don't blame you if you CLICK AWAY but I just have to tell you that I LOVE IT with all my heart.)


weekend snippets: holiday parade style

Mostly I've got this classiness goin' on (I am too cheap to purchase Kleenex apparently):
which is an accurate representation of my life the past two days. I abHOR being even slightly ill so, yea, that's annoying but it is what it is! I shall emerge someday soon, paler, more unkempt and (possibly) two to three pounds less (bonus!).

On Saturday, the company that I work for CRUISE DIRECTED (I had a clip board, highlighter, golf cart and everything) a Holiday Parade (called the Jingle Jubilee for those of you in town!). Part of my job was to chalk the lines on two city blocks (and let me tell you that we started before the street was barricaded by the cops and THAT made for some interesting chalking! Cue "CAR!! GAME ON" quote from Wayne's World).

Anyway, there were around 100 floats and/or marching folks (girl scouts and bands and the what not) and we had to make sure they lined up in some semblance of order. This is the part of the day when I realize I can't draw a straight line (AHEM):
HA, right?

The lines turned out not to matter as much as the YELL YELL YELLING and loudness of my voice (Cue the 'You will respect my AUTHORITAH!' quotes from Southpark!?). (Which, if you don't know me...well... I can be loud when I need to be... all those years of soccer and softball taught me well.)

There was one minor glitch when we realized the Hum@ne Society was lined up directly behind a band of (apparently bad ass) motorcyclists. Every time one of them revved their bike, the dogs would either a. pee themselves or b. start shaking uncontrollably. Poor pups!! Needless to say, we moved them quickly.

This was my favorite float... not because of the decorations necessarily but because these 'shepards' (wise men?) were SO cute and SO serious with their waving duties that I couldn't help but giggle.
After the parade, my coworker warmed up (It was in the 50s the whole day) with this:
I partook in a Beer (surprise) and headed home to shower off the (mean) city streets and take some Advil (for the pounding head from the yelling) and crawl under my own covers with my own little snuggle bunny.


ha BLOODY (literally) HA universe

Yesterday I decided ENOUGH SITTING DOWN and went to run with a group I had never run with (nor met) ever before. (For my local friends, it's the Tuesday night group that meets at the Go Running store in The Heights at 6pm. They offer 3, 4 and 6 mile routes.).

I met all these stranger friends at the running store and we took off down the mean streets of LR. (Side note: One man told us he was going to go "really slow" and when asked his pace he said EIGHT MINUTE MILES! Um, sir, that is practically sprinting in my world! You MAY NOT be my running partner!)

I was cruising along pretty well when WHAT TO MY WANDERING EYES DID APPEAR?

Well, actually, I didn't see it AT ALL and completely FELL DOWN.

Like the most ungraceful, slow motion, old lady NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fall of all time. ON A GUMBALL. A gumball. Who does that!?

Seriously, I tripped and my ankle went all rolley polley and both my knees were bloodied (through my pants!) and I thought 1. I might vomit from the shock of it and 2. I might DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT. GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION!

(I am not officially injured and am applying the Rules of Rice (rest, ice, compression,elevatation) to the old ankle. Did I mention how ridiculous I still feel about it!?)

The good news is: I finished the three miles!

Our homemade Advent calendar went up tonight (okay, well, we took it out of the attic anyway) and I shall have photographs in the next day or two! While I'm still flabbergasted it's almost the end of 2010, I am attempting to ring in DECEMBER appropriately this year! Does anyone else put up an Advent Calendar? What kind of things should I put in there for Nate? (The pockets are super small.)