Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Waaaay back during the holiday season of 2001 Michael and I were engaged and (gasp) living together.  We lived together for 4 months out of wedlock and our marriage has now lasted almost 10 years, so I think I am safe in saying that we were not "shacking up".

At that time I was working at the Senate and Michael was going to school.  He also worked part-time at Michael's Arts and Crafts as a framer.  The biggest benefit of that job was that he got a pretty sweet employee discount.

Using that discount we bought our first Christmas tree.  A cute little 4 footer.  We were so proud of it.
Our first tree last us through three apartments (in two states) and five Christmases.  In 2006 we moved into our first house and my parents bought us a 7 footer.
That year, we'll refer to it as "the last year before pets or children", I decorated both trees, the seven footer and the four footer.  I put all of our ornaments on the big tree and I bought a whole bunch of incredibly discounted balls to put on the little tree. 

I loved having two trees.  The big one was in the formal living room and the little one was in the family room.  It was holiday wherever you went.
Three months later we adopted Ginger and nine months later Spencer was born.  And thus, 2006 was the first and only year of having two trees. Every year we open the box containing the little tree, discover what is inside and then close it up and put it back on the shelf.  Then I look longingly at the box full of balls, sigh, and say, maybe next year. 

 Moving on. We decorated the house for Christmas before Thanksgiving this year.  Don't judge.  I had helpers (my mom and dad) and I wasn't go to let them go without helping.  And by helping I mean doing everything. 

Last Christmas we didn't have this little table in the entry way . We got all the decorations done and then I realized I didn't have anything holidayish to put on here.  I vowed I would be OK with it.
That lasted 2 days.  Then Spencer and I went to Kohls with Kohls cash to spend.  And we found this little tabletop 2 footer.  And before I knew what happened we had bought it, put it on the table and decorated it with all the fancy balls.
I love it.
It's the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. 
I want to sit on the couch and stare at it all day.
Now that I have this little guy I decided I can get rid of our 4 footer that hasn't been out of the box in 5 years.  I'm bringing it to work tomorrow where our maintenance guy has assured me he will find a good home for it, either in a classroom or with a family.  I feel good about it.

Additionally, I'm also looking forward to using these Target dollar section purchases.

Santa countdown #1
Santa countdown #2.
One more thing and then I'll say good night.

I saw this dress at The Limited a few weeks ago.  I want it.  I'd pair it with a little black shrug cardigan and wear it to a holiday party.

Alas, this is what my belly looks like and it's not meant to be.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The FEMA sponsored gingerbread house

Last year we made a gingerbread train with Spencer on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
We all had a lot of fun doing it and although we ended up tossing the whole thing into the garbage in January we still thought it would be fun to make it a tradition.

We went with the house this year.

We finished right around the time that Spencer got bored with the activity.
He asked me to take pictures of him leaving the room.

Michael and I were just starting to congratulate each other on a job well done when the roof started separating and all the candy on top fell in. 

Then it really became a disaster.  So disastrous that there are no pictures because I don't have that many hands.

After the roof separated, the walls caved in.   So basically we had 6 pieces of fully decorated house that were dripping with thick slabs of icing, and nothing holding them together. 

Spencer came back (no doubt our screams and yelps peaked his interest) and started licking the icing from all of the candy that was falling off.
We rallied all of our resources (resources being our hands, the bag of icing and a bunch of bowls) and managed to put the house back together.  Then we let it sit, propped up (and with a large pot to keep the bowls from sliding), for about an hour while the icing dried.
Then we used more icing and some powdered sugar to cover the damage.

The whole experience was much more exasperating and much more hilarious than I have portrayed here.

This gingerbread house is covered in Spencer's saliva and general hand bacteria.  It, like the train, will be going straight in to the trash come December 26th. 

And then, an entire year will go by and we'll forget what a pain in the a** it was and we'll build another one.  And Elliott will help!  And hopefully not get a mouth full of icing!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


This year was the first year in a loooooong time that we did not have Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt and uncle's house in Casa Grande.  They moved to Florida this past year, so that family tradition is over.

We started a new tradition with dinner at Lois and Jerry's house.  Here is a little family lesson.  My dad's brother is Terry.  Terry is married to Karen.  Karen's brother is Jerry.  Got it?  Jerry and Lois are like my aunt and uncle, only they're really not.

They have a beautiful home and backyard overlooking a golf course.
Spencer and my grandma.  The day after Thanksgiving was her 94th birthday.
 Michael's dad, my brother Nick and my dad
My mom and Aunt Karen
The official 2011 family photo.
Next year Elliott will have a cute outfit (I'm sure) and make it that much more difficult to get a good picture.
Spencer had goldfish for an appetizer.
My grandma got a birthday sundae.

After dinner Spencer played "garbage truck in danger".  All of his vehicles always seem to find themselves falling off of cliffs.

Then we had some unexpected visitors in the backyard: a mom and baby bobcats.  I know you only see 1 bobcat in each picture but I promise there were actually 2 of them.

Flashback Time

I am not writing this from home so I had to go through my blog archives to find and copy the previous Thanksgiving pictures.  That's why they are blurry.  Sorry.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Christmas is now less that a month away. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


My friend Lauren posted on facebook that she had an extra ticket to a hot air balloon festival on Saturday evening.  I had heard nothing about this festival so I did a little googling.  What I found sounded fantastic.  We (me, Michael, Spencer and my mom) decided to go.  Megan decided to bring Scott and Hadley and join us.  Lauren was coming with Shireen and Desmond.  It was going to be such a good time.

This is the description of the event.  This is cut straight from the press release:

More than 50 hot-air balloons will participate in a family-friendly balloon festival during the inaugural Arizona Balloon Classic, November 18 – 20 at Wild Horse Pass/Rawhide at the Gila River Indian Community. The weekend celebration will feature dawn patrol and morning liftoffs and landings, afternoon mass ascensions and evening glow events.

The balloons will launch and land from the grassy fields at Wild Horse Pass/Rawhide, filling the skies with massive shapes and color. Spectators will be allowed to walk on the field and watch the balloons inflate and lift off. Desert Glows, set to take place on Friday and Saturday evenings, November 18 and 19, will feature a field full of illuminated, tethered, hot-air balloons glowing and swaying to live musical performances. The weekend will also include family-friendly entertainment, skydivers, fireworks, a Family Fun Zone with children’s activities, exhibits, sampling, shopping and more.

This is what really sold it to me.  The reason we decided to go:

Afternoon Fun Flights- On Friday, Saturday & Sunday at about 4:30 p.m. about 50 colorful hot-air balloons will lift-off all at the same time. It's a wonderful photo opportunity!

So, all of Maricopa County must have read this press release and agreed that it sounded like a wonderful experience, because parking was a nightmare.  It took all of us between 30 minutes to an hour to just get from the freeway to a parking spot. 

We managed to make it in to the festival by 4:35.  I was so excited to see all 50 balloons.

And then.  And then we realized that they were big fat liars.

Want to know how many hot air balloons there were?  We're talking Grand Total.  And not even all inflated at once.


Yep.  Six balloons.  That's it.

My dad is of the opinion that we should file a complaint with the attorney general's office.  That seems like a lot of work, but it was definitely a rip-off.

These are the pictures I got of this oh most lame festival.

Spencer did have fun in the bounce houses.  His fun was not worth the $20 Michael and I spend and the $7 my mom spent to get in.

The illuminated balloons were not impressive either.  The "coordinated" glowing and swaying to music (that was NOT live) lasted about 1 minute.
There were quite a few food booths available.  I just don't think there is a single fry bread or bag of kettle corn in the world that is worth a 1 hour wait.

The skydivers were fun.  It was a thrill that lasted approximately 1.5 minutes. 

We decided we were going to leave before the fireworks and drive somewhere close-by to watch them so we could beat the nightmare that would be traffic leaving the event.  The fireworks started on the way to the car so we ended up watched them standing in the parking lot.  The second they ended we threw Spencer in his car seat and got the hell out of there.

We give the balloon festival 2 thumbs down.  We will not be returning next year.