Merry Christmas!

IMG_0836From our family to yours!



It’s the Most Wonderful Time

Dear Erin,

Sorry this post is late, but I’ve been living the high life and haven’t had much access to a computer, especially today. By living the high life, I mean Charles and I went to see Frozen [lovely movie; I always love a good sister story!] with family, had lunch and made a last-minute Target run before heading over to the grandparents’ for supper. You know, real high adrenaline stuff.

I’m also sorry your Advent season has been hit and miss. I hope that overall it’s been more satisfying than frustrating. Partly this is because I really empathize, and partly it’s because I found a new recipe I want to try while we’re there, and if you’re burnt out on trying things because nothing’s working, it will be harder to convince you.

So, since we’ve gotten to VA, we spent a few days in Williamsburg on what one of our waitresses called a “babymoon.” I don’t have much opinion of the word itself, but it aptly described my mindset, to a certain degree. We took the scenic route from Norfolk on Thursday.


We checked in to our hotel and walked down the street to start enjoying Williamsburg.

Look! I found a recreation that's all about yarn.

Look! I found a recreation that’s all about yarn.


It was a clear but chilly day and rather empty of other visitors. We even had lunch at one of our favorite places (a sandwich shop), could breathe without being crushed, and got our food in just a few minutes. This was a far cry from two days later, when we returned, along with half the population of eastern Virginia, it seemed.

IMG_20131219_134811 IMG_20131219_132708

I don’t know if you remember, but this was one of the places we came for our honeymoon, and it’s a favorite destination for us, still. This time we took a tour of the Christmas decorations.


One of the most visually striking, to my mind



Apples on stirrups along the top there



This one is full of feathers


Tiny beer mugs; appropriate for a tavern

Tiny beer mugs; appropriate for a tavern

The wreaths and such were as lovely as usual, but unfortunately not as symbolic as I was hoping, which meant that the value of the tour really lay in what the guide could provide in terms of historical context. … Um, well yes! It is a hazard in such a situation to know too much history; why do you ask? … As I reminded Charles after the tour, the guide said she was a “history nerd,” not a “history expert.”

We took the town at our leisure and enjoyed the various programs. At one of them, Charles was asked to dance by one of the historical interpreters, so that was fun. I figured if I was asked, I would hopefully be able to quote my Jane Austen appropriately: that at the moment I was “almost past every thing but tea and quadrille” (Emma I.3). Just so you know, I did take pictures, but the light was too low, the camera too slow, and the dancing too uproarious (apparently) to catch.

My favorite was probably the theatrical program, wherein they played three scenes to demonstrate the characters of the fop, the rogue, and the villain, and I found a new play to read before too long has passed: Lethe, by David Garrick. I did quite a bit of study of late 16th and early 17th century drama, and I took a Restoration drama class, but I never got much into the 18th century in the dramatic genre (oh, let’s be honest; I never got much into the 18th century in any genre. The poetry in particular is abysmal not really to my taste). But this particular scene was hysterical, and I’d like to see how the play as a whole holds up.

We relaxed and had a good time together; ate well, slept plenty, and entirely enjoyed ourselves, so we were very glad the flights across the country were cheaper on Wednesday than the weekend, giving us an excuse to come earlier.



Since Saturday, we’ve been spending time with family, catching up, playing games, obviously watching movies. I can’t believe tomorrow is already Christmas Eve; and then Wednesday is Christmas itself. Let’s take a break for the holiday – focus on worship and family – and then come back on Friday, shall we?

To you, Erin, and everyone else, have a wonderful time celebrating and a very merry Christmas!


And they just keep coming…

Dear Kristen,

What are “they”?

The failures.  I’m piling them up daily it seems.  So after the lack of following through on advent activities AND a variety of meals that haven’t panned out, I thought I would play it safe for dinner this week.

Chicken fingers, green bean casserole, and crescents.  Easy enough.  Filling and yummy enough to be a crowd favorite.  And by crowd, I mean the three of us.

And then this happened…

IMG_0829Shattered dish and ruined green bean casserole.  Yup.  Awesome.  Matt thought maybe the casserole could be salvaged, but I convinced him that the chance of random ceramic pieces hidden in the casserole was not worth the risk.

But on a happier note, we went to a local Christmas light extravaganza and it was WONDERFUL.  Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens decorates their gardens every Christmas with lights on lights.  It was really stunning, so stunning that I had so much fun looking that I forgot to take very many pictures.  You can hop over to their site to see some more, but it was SO cool and the whole crowd – Munchkin included – thought it was the best!

Layered up and ready to go

Layered up and ready to go

A lighted lion.

A lighted lion.

In the Pavilion, which also had beautiful orchids and a train set on display.

In the Pavilion, which also had beautiful orchids and a train set on display.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!





Off Again

Dear Erin,

It looks like your Christmas is a lot of fun this year, despite being busy and not getting everything you want done. I do have a question, though. Has the Munchkin become significantly more intelligible in the last two weeks, or are you just translating what she’s saying for your audience here? Because I don’t remember her being quite that clear last time I spoke with her.

We’re airborne again today, and right now, I’m sitting at the airport waiting for the first flight to LAX. The plane is what we’d call a puddle jumper, but since there might be one literal puddle that we will fly over this morning, and the rest will be desert, that name seems singularly inappropriate. Maybe it’s a “desert hopper” Instead? We’ll get into your neck of the woods tonight, and then it’s a few days to relax before the whirl of a family Christmas.

To be honest, I’m not unhappy to be out of the valley for a few days at least. I heard yesterday that there was a fire at a recycling plant, and I know the air smelled like burning plastic for most of the day. That can’t be healthy, right? So it’s good to have an excuse to get out of dodge until things have cleared up.

You’ve been busy, I’ve been busy; it’s just that time of year. We didn’t get much of the house decorated during the two weeks we were home. I put up everything that didn’t require a tree to hang on, but it wasn’t much. Still, there was Christmas spirit in the air. More cookies were made.

Christmas cookies

This might be one reason why I’ve put on a few pounds in the last week. Some Christmas cards were sent out, mostly just to immediate family.

Christmas cards 2

I didn’t get nearly as many as I had planned into the mail. The rest will have to go out as New Year cards when we get back. Then there’s been a respectable round of parties and events to attend and church things to attend to.

And while I don’t have a Munchkin dancing around, singing and providing endless entertainment (for those who can understand Munchkinese), there has been plenty of music and carols around our place. I have also been having fun with this little guy on the needles.

Viking hat wip

So far he’s pretty plain, but early next year, he will grow some horns, a couple of ear flaps and maybe a band of rivets up the middle. You know, this will be the first Viking hat I’ve made for a boy. Do you think Munchkin would like a bigger one for herself next Christmas to match her cousin?

Advent: Day….I’m not sure

Dear Kristen,

Well, the past couple of days/weeks have gone in a blur.  You feel like the holiday season should be restful and filled with fun things – and it has been fun. But its also been non-stop in many ways.

So the advent calendar?  We’ve just kinda skipped a few days.  More pressing things came up than making Christmas cookies and snowflakes from coffee filters, so we’ve missed out some fun that the Munchkin would enjoy.  But she’s still rocking the Christmas carol sing-a-long, so celebration is STILL happening.

And don’t you worry; sugar is getting eaten.

We’ve gotten a chance to attend some Christmas parties, our house is decorated, presents are purchased and most are wrapped, and holiday blend coffee is brewing – so all in all, its been great.  I’m really not complaining, though I know it probably sounds as if I am.  Getting an advent calendar up is a HUGE victory.  So next year I shall aspire to actually doing all the activities…

The Munchkin loves the tree and attempts to take ornaments off – particularly Bob and Larry (VeggieTales).  So to distract her, she and I have been playing a game.  “Can you find…”  I ask her to find something and she searches all the ornaments within her reach to find what it is I’m talking about.  Its a pretty fun game for her and keeps her distracted from ripping heirlooms from the tree.  The best has been when I’ve asked her to find “the baby.”  We got an ornament of a baby from someone for her first Christmas and I put it down on her level.  She, however, goes for this every time:

IMG_0828And this is the conversation she has with herself while gently petting him:

“Ooohhh…Baby Santa.  Little cookie, little milk. Yummy cookie. (Insert munching noises-similar to Cookie Monster.) Aaahhh, Baby Santa.  There he is! There he is, Mommies!”

We love that she can recognize Santa, as that is a favorite thing for our family.  It can be a problem, however, when waiting in line to see Santa and telling every other child in line that the man they’re waiting to see, “that NOT Santa, that my Pop! Hello, Pop!”

Which it was.  No fooling her!