Rethinking Valentine’s Day

As a young girl in high school, I looked on Valentine’s Day with disdain — mostly because for three out of the four holidays, I didn’t have a boyfriend. However, that special senior year when I received a cheap carnation along with the other girls who had boys willing to pay a dollar, I embraced Valentine’s Day with open arms!

I grew older though, and my fondness for the holiday began to wane again. Spending exorbitant amounts of money on over-priced flowers and chocolate for a day with little spiritual or historical significance just seemed dumb. After all, if I loved a person, I should show him love all the time, not just on Valentine’s Day, right?

Right. Except nine years into a marriage and three small children later, I don’t always do what I’m supposed to do. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I find myself in bed sleeping in between two pillows as three children wormed their way into our bed in the middle of the night. I sleep to the tune of one child grinding her teeth in my ear and another sticking her toe up my nose and a third pushing his elbow in my back. Of course, I could move to sleep in one of their beds if I didn’t find myself pinned in a cocoon of sheets and bedspread by the dog lying on my feet.

Sometimes this tiredness competes with the desire to show love. Sometimes when my husband comes home from work, I greet him with the kid I am no longer going to deal with instead of a passionate kiss and a moment of space for him to breathe. I don’t care about romance; I want a shower by myself in a bed by myself with a book by myself.

And, sometimes, while I don’t like to admit it, I need a reminder.

Honestly, I should have a soft spot in my heart for Valentine’s Day. Twelve years ago when we were poor, college students, Matt and I met over a burrito in Athens as friends, not even realizing the significance of the day at the time. Twelve years later, our friendship has grown as we have weathered many storms and celebrated many joys.

Now, Valentine’s Day for me isn’t about flowers or chocolate. It’s about the moment to pause and remember how blessed I am to have this man who loves me and whom I love. It’s a time to remember that the children we have are a product of our love and a gift from God.

My own father made Valentine’s Day his holiday. Unlike Christmas and birthdays when we knew our mom did all the present shopping and wrapping, Valentine’s Day was all his. Today it still is. Every February 14th, I always receive a card and something special from my dad.

Last year, my husband and I followed his lead. I had a handsome date accompany me for the dinner of his choice at Zaxby’s while my husband took two cute little girls to Shane’s Rib Shack. And while my husband didn’t sweep me away for a romantic dinner for two, on that night, I found him holding those cheap carnations for his family quite sexy.

So I’ve come around to this over-commercialized, insignificant holiday. And while I need to work on greeting my husband at the door daily with a big kiss instead of a disobedient child, I’ll welcome the reminder on February 14th, too.

I took an unintentional blogging break last week, and I’m definitely itching to get out some new blog posts. This post was featured in the ‘Local Voices’ section of the Dacula Patch a couple of weeks ago. During my hiatus, I learned some more differences between my kids and me, and I also developed a list of when it’s okay for my spouse to lie to me. I hope you’ll come back and join me this week as I share!

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Christmas Lesson 3: The Christmas Video


photo via Flickr 'Creative Commons'

One Friday night about 15 years ago, my friend subjected me to the torture of watching old family videos. Christmas was near, and the spirit caught her mom who gathered us all to the den where colored lights from the tree illuminated the pizza she set before us. She was in a very chipper mood and promised us all cookies for dessert if we watched a family video with her.

“I thought it would be fun to look back on Christmas past before Christmas future becomes our Christmas present.”

I stared at her and gave a weak smile. When she spoke, I had no trouble understanding why my friend Kristen was in the drama club.

Kristen’s dad sighed as he sat in his armchair and did his best to remove the slightly aggravated look from his face. He had no desire to watch an old home video, but the promise of pizza and cookies was too much for this large, Italian man to refuse.

Kristen rolled her eyes when he sat down. As is the case many times between teenaged daughters and their fathers, the two of them annoyed each other. Kristen’s sour attitude annoyed her father, and anything her father did annoyed Kristen.

I was beginning to wish I had said ‘no’ when Kristen asked me to spend the night.

Mrs. Carlucci pulled out a blue tub of VHS tapes, all adorned with perfect, white labels.

“Christmas 1988. That should be fun!”

“What would that make you, Kristen–about nine?” her dad asked.

“I guess” was Kristen’s elaborate reply.

“Michelle, I thought you’d like to see what your friend looked and acted like as a little girl. She was so cute with her brown curls!”

Yes, Mrs. Carlucci. How did you know this was EXACTLY how I wanted to spend my Friday night!

For the next 15 minutes, we all watched with our eyes glued to the television. Clearly, Mrs. Carlucci did not remember what was on this video before she put it in the VCR. For the next 15 minutes, we watched as Mrs. Carlucci frantically picked up every piece of wrapping paper that hit the floor. We watched ‘chipper’ Mrs. Carlucci make her way through Christmas with a scowl on her face.

“Mom, what was your deal? Kristen asked as her mom on the video waved her away with a Get out of the way, Kristen.

Mrs. Carlucci looked away with embarrassment. “I, I don’t know. I guess I was just having a bad day.”

“On Christmas?!”

But before Kristen could cause her mother any more grief, our eyes were once again drawn to the TV screen.

Come here sweetie, we heard the normally gruff man say to his daughter as he pulled her close. Merry Christmas!

I love you, Daddy! the little voice said back to the gruff man.

I scrunched up my face as I watched a scene that looked like it was from Little House on the Prairie. This father and daughter oozed so much love and sweetness I thought I might be sick.

Aww, come here Bailey! the man called to the family dog. He scratched her ears and laughed as she licked his face.

Kristen and I looked at each other in disbelief–all this love coming from the man who normally complained that he had a Cocker Spaniel instead of a German Shepherd.

“Who’s the bad guy now, huh?!” Mr. Carlucci shouted out with a laugh. “Here’s the proof! Here’s the proof!”

Kristen and I tried to roll our eyes, but we couldn’t help but laugh. We did have proof–her father was full of love while her mother was a psycho!

We watched more minutes of opening presents and hugs between father and daughter while Mrs. Carlucci would occasionally look up from stuffing crumpled wrapping paper in the tall, black trash bag. Her weak smiles were not convincing, a far contrast from the chipper woman baking cookies in the kitchen 20 minutes before.

“Well, Michelle didn’t come over today to watch old videos.” Mrs. Carlucci began to stand up and make her way to the TV.

“No, no, leave it on! I want to see more,” the gruff man called from the chair. “Heh, you see that, Kristen! Your mean, old dad–ha! Look at that!”

“Oh, please, John,” Mrs. Carlucci said as she turned off the TV.

“What? I thought it was nice–a father and daughter showing so much love on Christmas…and now we have the proof!” he laughed again as he got up to hug his wife.

She pushed him away and went to the kitchen.

“John, sometimes you are so annoying.”

Kristen and I laughed as Mr. Carlucci made his way to Kristen with a sly smile.

“We have proof!” he yelled as he pulled her in roughly to his chest.

Now at this point in the story you may think that you know the lesson–we create our own realities; or people are complex, dynamic creatures, not defined by the labels we give; or never show a family video that you haven’t first pre-screened. However, there is more….

Watching that video 15 years ago, I thought Mrs. Carlucci was psycho, but then I got married and had my own children. I experienced Christmas from the perspective of a mother, and, somehow, it didn’t have all the magic of Christmas as a child. Perhaps that’s because the mother creates most of the magic.

Perhaps Mrs. Carlucci was simply exhausted after preparing meals for three different family Christmas get-togethers back-to-back. Perhaps after each get-together, she came home late at night to a sink full of dishes and laundry that needed to be moved from the washer to the dryer. She just wanted to go to bed each night, but she needed to get ready for the next day. She needed to set out her casserole dishes and grate cheese and organize the presents for each respective family Christmas.

Perhaps Mrs. Carlucci was tired from baking cookies. In an attempt to spread the love of Christmas, she spread herself thin for an entire week baking cookies with her daughter–cookies for teachers, cookies for neighbors, cookies for the mailman, and, of course, cookies for Santa. Maybe, on that Christmas morning, she was just sick of cookies!

And let’s not forget the cleaning. Perhaps, Mrs. Carlucci, after that final family get-together, came home late but was not able to go to the bed that called her name. No, now she had to worry about her own family Christmas.

Perhaps she cleaned the dishes in the sink so that she could prepare the ingredients for her own family breakfast in the morning. Perhaps Mrs. Carlucci saw the mess on the den floor and didn’t want Santa to break his neck when he came down the chimney. Perhaps, like the ‘psycho’ she is, Mrs. Carlucci vacuumed at two in the morning so that the family would be sitting on a clean floor when they opened presents by the tree. Perhaps, when Mrs. Carlucci finally went to bed at three a.m., after cooking and vacuuming and positioning presents under the tree and setting out cookies for Santa, she was satisfied with how she had prepared this day for her family…satisfied and dead-tired.

Mrs. Carlucci may have felt like a zombie that morning, and, perhaps, she was a little annoyed when she saw crumpled piece after crumpled piece of wrapping paper hit the floor that she had just vacuumed four hours ago. Perhaps, Mrs. Carlucci saw the crumbs Santa left after he ate his cookies, and she decided that next year she was going to serve the slob cookies laced with arsenic.

Mrs. Carlucci didn’t need to see the presents Kristen opened–she knew what they were–she’s the one who bought the darned things. She loved her daughter–maybe she told her to get out of the way because her own head was spinning from sleep deprivation and didn’t need three Kristen heads confusing her even more. And, perhaps, when Mrs. Carlucci saw Mr. Carlucci sitting on that floor that she vacuumed, eating the cookies that she baked, laughing with his daughter over the presents she bought, and scratching the ears of the dog she consistently fed and bathed–perhaps she just wanted to slap him.

It’s okay, Mrs. Carlucci. I get it now.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Thank you, Dad, for your ‘Christmas Lessons’ idea. I had some great ideas from others for more ‘Christmas Lessons’ about Santa, but due to the rush of Christmas and the inability to get out of bed after Christmas, not much has happened with my blog as of late! I look forward to getting back in a regular schedule…maybe next week.

If you missed it, here’s Christmas Lesson 1 and 2.



Christmas Lessons: 1


photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell

The Christmas holidays had just concluded, and my dad and I made a pit-stop at the gymnastics center where I would spend most of my childhood. He needed to work out some details for the upcoming meet, and I hung out in the lobby for those few minutes. Had I known that my world would change that quickly, I would’ve stayed in the car.

My gymnastics coach happened to see me and stopped by to say ‘hello’ before heading down to teach a class.

“How do you like your new beam?” she asked.

I immediately was taken aback. I did, in fact, get a beam for Christmas. It was blue and sat flat on the floor and was made out of some stiff foam-like material. The beam wasn’t very heavy and would move if I jumped on it. Honestly, it’s a wonder that I didn’t break my ankle, but, nevertheless, that beam was one of the best presents I ever received. From Santa.

How did you know I got a beam?”

The wheels in my head began spinning, but clearly, her wheels were not keeping up with mine.

“I saw your dad pick it up,” she answered matter-of-factly.

The wheels were now grinding together, producing a thick fog of smoke in my brain.

My dad? How was that possible? Santa brought that gift.

And then, as any child who wants to believe would do, I began to concoct the recipe for how my coach would’ve seen my dad purchasing this gift when, in fact, it was from Santa. It was easy–Santa is magical, so he simply turned himself into the likeness of my dad and purchased the beam. He didn’t have one in his workshop because…well…it doesn’t matter. He knew I liked the one at my gym, and it was just easier to fly down from the North Pole, turn himself into my dad, and purchase it then try to have his elves recreate it in the workshop.

Yeah, that was it.

And even though I forced myself to believe for another year, that day marked the day when a little of the Christmas magic died in my heart.

Christmas Lesson 1: Let the child tell you what he or she received for Christmas, not the other way around. You have no idea what spiral of doubt and confusion you may otherwise create.

Was Santa ever spoiled for you? What happened?

I had a fun idea this morning–or fun to me–and wanted to pass it along. If you will send me a Christmas lesson in the comments or in an e-mail, I will try to recreate a short story around it. Or if you prefer, you can write a story and provide the link in the comment box of any of the Christmas Lessons I write! If I don’t get any responses, I’ll know you all think this idea stinks.

Christmas Definitions


Photo by tmorkemo via Flickr 'Creative Commons'

Since I was small, I remember hearing the ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ motto for the holidays. I would nod my head in assent whenever the challenge was brought to me, and I continued the crusade of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays’ when I was shopping at a retail store.

Now that I’m older, I’ve noticed not much has changed. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with reminders to keep Christ in Christmas, but this year I had to ask what does that actually mean? Christmas changed for me when I had to explain the meaning to my children, and during the last year, especially, I struggled through my own definition of keeping Christ in a holiday that, at times, feels largely secular.

So today I want to hear from you. What does keeping Christ in Christmas actually mean?

Linking up with Jen today.


Thanksgiving Presents


When I was a child, no holiday could top Christmas. While I loved stuffing and mashed potatoes, I’d happily skip over Thanksgiving to get to the present-opening holiday faster. However, nothing could make that last month before Christmas go any quicker.

Now that I’m a little bit older than eight, I find that, much as my tastebuds changed as I became an adult, so did my taste for the different holidays. I still find Christmas a beautiful holiday to celebrate, yet I would never skip Thanksgiving. In fact, I would venture to say that Thanksgiving is my new favorite.

With a few exceptions, I don’t remember the presents I opened beneath the tree, those presents that I’m sure my parents budgeted for and fought their way through crazy mobs at the mall. I don’t remember what Santa snuck down the chimney.

But I do remember family. Little stories will sneak up and pinch me when I least expect it. These memories are the presents that have far outlasted those wrapped in shiny paper and topped with big bows.

My grandmother much preferred the company of children and seemed to relate better to them than adults. That characteristic worked out well for all of her grandchildren. Every time we had a family get-together, Grandma Ann would gather the grandkids to her while the adults talked in another room. While they laughed and scraped the last bit of food off their plates, the kids worked in another room on a retelling of Cinderella. We rushed around looking for Cinderella’s broom and a costume to do the magical fairy godmother justice, and when we were ready, Grandma would silence the adults and command their attention for the show we had prepared.

The parents would roll their eyes and silently endure the production. This tradition has lived on….

For my father’s birthday, I was in a silly mood and wanted to help control the chaos of four kids five and under while we waited for my husband to get home. I gathered all the children in the playroom, and everyone was assigned a role.

Caleb, you will dance first. Max, you’re next. You will come out after Aunt Jennie introduces you.

And so began my first attempt at organizing a show with all of the grandkids. A few weekends later, the kids requested we put on another performance for Uncle Mason’s birthday, and the other day, an ordinary-non-birthday-nothing-special day, my nephew requested we put on a show.

“Well, hello, Grandma,” my mom said to me.

She was right–I had had the realization before–Grandma’s present was still going strong long after she was gone. I’m currently drafting a Christmas performance.

So I look forward to tomorrow, a day without the stress of Christmas, a day when we enjoy the delicious food with which we have been so abundantly blessed and count the numerous ways God has provided. I look forward to receiving the presents that time with family always gives, and I look forward to remembering.

I’m thankful that we each live on long after we’re gone, in the fried okra recipe that’s used every holiday or the sound of snoring from the recliner in the den or the after-dinner performance that the adults are forced to endure.

These are the presents that I will celebrate. For these, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours. For what presents are you thankful this year?



Sometimes It’s Okay Not to Care

I guess I could’ve been upset when our ‘Star Wars’ themed Halloween turned into a ‘Star Wars Meets the Disney Princesses’ Halloween. After all, we did plan this idea months ago. Hannah Grace was excited to dress up like the beautiful Princess Leia, and Chloe couldn’t wait to don her ‘Toyota’ costume (otherwise known as ‘Yoda’ to everyone over the age of two). Caleb already had his Luke Skywalker costume, Daddy was living out his dream as Darth Vader, and, since Natalie Portman and I could almost be twins, I thought Queen Amilama-dim-dom suited me just fine.

Hannah Grace was the first to give up. She wanted to be a superhero instead, which was fine with me since super Aunt Lisa bought them dress-up costumes for when they came over to visit. Chloe quickly followed the lead of her sister, and the ‘Star Wars’ theme changed into a ‘Superheroes’ theme–it all still worked.

Until, of course, four days before Halloween when Hannah Grace assumed the role she was born to play as ‘Fancy Nancy’ for Book Character Day at preschool. The girls were adorable, so I really didn’t care that our theme was unraveling before my eyes.

And speaking of Fancy Nancy, I really didn’t care when one little Nancy refused to smile during her parade.

Because, after all, some things are important, and some things are not. Halloween costumes are not important, even if it doesn’t make sense for one’s daughters to ditch the thought-out costumes, the multiple-thought out costumes, for their everyday, ripped, dress-up clothes. Princess dresses without the proper crowns or shoes or wigs–an arts-and-craftsy mother’s nightmare.

But luckily this mother doesn’t care.

Luckily, this mother didn’t care the night before when her husband started carving a pumpkin at 8:30, and the kids had school the next day (okay, I cared a little).

Because, luckily, this mama’s learning that sometimes (many times) life doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes weekends end up a little more hectic than planned, and the kids are up a little bit later than I’d like. Sometimes kids change their mind about Halloween costumes one hour before we leave for the Fall Festival. Sometimes teenagers forget how to read when they come upon an unattended Halloween bag that says, “Take 1.”

Sometimes kids go to school with different colored socks or hair sticking up in the back. Sometimes Mommy is a little too tired to make the healthier homemade pizza crust and buys a packaged one instead.

Sometimes, I have to pick my battles.  And Halloween isn’t one of them.

Sometimes, five happy faces is more important.

And if anyone disagrees with me, I really don’t care.

How did you or your family dress up for Halloween? Are you able to say “I don’t care” to things that really don’t matter?

The Loyal One

We came off the plane and walked into the arms of family where hugs and kisses abounded. My mom smiled at my belly which had now taken on the shape of a basketball, and then we began our walk to the car with luggage in tow. Of course, even though it was almost 10:00 in the evening on December 23rd, the most important topic of conversation was where we would eat.

We decided on one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. We had a great Mexican restaurant in Oklahoma (and the cheese dip actually came with the meal!), but they made chilaquiles with egg, and I missed the dish made with chicken. So, of course, I ordered my chilaquiles, and we requested plenty of cheese dip. I was happy, sitting with my family whom I hadn’t seen in months, sharing good food, and rejoicing together for the little boy who would join our family in March.

I was happy until that night. It came fast and hard, and I found myself with pain in my ribs, the same pain I got as a child that normally ended in my throwing up. And throw up, I did. Soon after the pain, I was gripping the toilet seat as I vomited out my dinner while trying to hold my baby in. I found the feeling strange, as my basketball hung below as I held onto the porcelain stand.

All through the night I visited the bathroom, and, come morning, we had a decision to make. It was Christmas Eve, and we were supposed to open presents with Matt’s family in the morning and then head on from there to his aunt’s house to visit with his mom’s side of the family. I was in no shape to go, but I couldn’t ask Matt to stay–we lived so far away now, and he hadn’t seen his extended family in quite some time. Of course, I wanted to ask Matt to stay, but I couldn’t.

That day as I lay on my parents’ couch I felt so depressed. I was sick and without my husband on Christmas Eve. I had so looked forward to seeing everyone and hearing the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ as I showed off my belly. Part of the fun of pregnancy is having that moment as the center of attention, and since we lived in Oklahoma now, I didn’t get to share the excitement with family of carrying my first baby.

Instead I got to lay on the couch. I didn’t have the pregnancy glow or look cute–instead, I looked pale and disgusting. The day wore on, and Matt still hadn’t come home. The only steady company I had was Tabasco.

Tabasco is my dad’s crazy dog. He doesn’t look like a dog; he’s more akin to an orange hyena. My sister and her husband rescued this dog and decided to give it to my dad as a present. They snuck him downstairs in my parents’ basement, and, when they made frequent trips down the stairs with pitchers of water, they told Dad that they had bought him a plant for his birthday. Imagine his surprise when he was, instead, presented with a dog who was afraid of men and had a skin disease. Happy Birthday, Dad.

Basco stayed with my family and by my side on that Christmas Eve. It was as if he intuitively knew he had to protect me, and he thrust my arm in the air so he could nuzzle underneath it. I don’t remember much about that Christmas Eve except that Matt was gone, but Tabasco lay at my side. I can’t recall if I watched TV or continued to throw up or just slept the day away, but I remember that ugly dog under my arm.

Basco has never been my favorite pet. He snaps at people he doesn’t know out of fear, and he’s always skiddish. Obviously, the poor dog was abused, and I just want to give him some Prozac to relax. But craziness and all, I can’t help but have a warm spot in my heart for him. He was my loyal friend on a day when I felt like total crap. And I can’t help but love someone or something that doesn’t mind nuzzling with me when I have vomit breath.


Image courtesy of Mark Watson

Post inspired by Mama Kat’s writing prompt, “Food Poisoning–Yuck!” I don’t know if I had food poisoning or a 24-hour virus, but the end result is pretty much the same.

Mama’s Losin’ It

New Year’s Eve 2010

A simple contentment filled our home as the kids reveled in the extra time with their daddy.  Every night during his break was family game night, and, of course, we broke out the Wii on New Year’s Eve.  Matt and I smiled across the room at one another as our four-year-old threw strikes and made every spare on a game we had less than a week while we were still trying to figure out our own techniques.  Then we all made the haul upstairs, and we proceeded with the routine of getting three little ones in bed.

Of course because we had plans to enjoy our New Year’s Eve together, alone on the couch, watching a movie  and munching on snacks, Chloe decided she wasn’t going to fall asleep.  Repeated trips to her room, the cushion in her rocking chair worn, finally proved successful, and our toddler drifted to sleep around ten that night.

My plan to make hors d’oeuvres and cinnamon rolls from scratch to share on New Year’s morning didn’t seem that important anymore given the lateness of the evening, so we proceeded to the couch, ripping open a box of crackers.  We popped in our movie and snuggled under blankets, our own tiredness hanging heavy on our eyelids.  Yet we were awake enough to stop the DVD at quarter ’til midnight, grab two glasses and our sparkling cider, and find Dick Clark on the TV to help us count down the seconds until the New Year.  At midnight, we gave each other the obligatory kiss and watched as confetti danced over Time Square.

We resumed our positions under the blankets and returned to our movie, the first half of it behind us.  And when it was over, we put our glasses in the sink and headed up the stairs, the first time in 2011.  And once again, we snuggled under blankets.

Looking back over the night, if New Year’s Eve is any indication of this coming year, I think we’ll be all right.  After all, we just might stay awake for movies now.

Mama's Losin' It

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow and link up for the first installment of Journeys!

The Perfect Gift

The week was filled with wrapping paper and shiny bows. Warm meals shared with family filled our bellies, as carols by candlelight filled our souls.  Rich cups of hot cocoa graced our Christmas morning and decadent desserts our Christmas meal–our children never feared a lack of sugar.  Smiles and laughter echoed throughout our homes as children ripped into presents, and the cries accompanying meltdowns reverberated against the walls as the night beckoned children to bed.  The week was beautiful and exhilarating and tiring, and I still haven’t recovered.

Yet of all the moments of Christmas, my favorite arrived Christmas night as little white flakes filled the ebony sky, giving us one more gift together.

Crazy hats and mis-matched gloves served as testimony to a family who hasn’t seen much snow, and snow delivered the perfect excuse to extend family time a little longer…

And as the cold bit my face and my fingers went numb, I couldn’t help but think that this winter wonderland was the perfect end to the holiday–the holiday where we remembered the gift that didn’t cost us anything but made us white as snow.

What was your favorite gift this Christmas?

The Christmas Newsletter

This weekend, I mailed the majority of our Christmas cards with only a few local relatives still left on the list.  Shutterfly did a beautiful job creating a card with a big picture of our kids on the outside and a small one of each of them on the inside.  I had room to write a private message, and the cards looked both professional and personal.  The only thing that was missing was the Christmas newsletter.  I ran out of time, but below is the newsletter that I had intended to send:

Wow!  Another year has flown by right before our eyes.  We definitely have stayed busy and learned a lot about our family in the course of this year.

Caleb had an interesting opportunity this year.  After his teachers saw his amazing ability in putting together puzzles and building towers, he was entered in a ‘Future Architects of the World’ contest and won.  His design for a building was selected and was to be built in Tokyo, Japan.  Unfortunately, when Caleb consulted with the real architects, he became enraged at the changes he observed on the blueprints and shouted, “That’s not how I made it!’ ripping them to shreds.  He was immediately fired from any future consultations.

Hannah Grace has also made us proud with the use of her talents.  She tested off the charts for her ‘strong will’ and was recruited by the C.I.A. for one of their spy programs.  They needed someone who was able to do what she wanted to do without a fear of consequences, and that description fit Hannah Grace perfectly.  I can’t go into all of the details of her work, as I do not know them myself, but I know she was picked because the C.I.A said she couldn’t be worn down.  Ain’t that the truth!

Chloe is doing well and growing and progressing as she should.  In the last year, she has learned to walk and run and say many words.  In fact, she has perfected one word so well that Webster’s online dictionary hired Chloe for the audio pronunciation part of their entries.  If you look up the word ‘no’ online and click on the audio link, you will hear Chloe’s voice coming in loud and clear.

Matt and I have stayed busy with the day-to-day, and for the most part, we don’t have anything exciting to report.  However, Matt was a finalist for the Guinness Book of World Records for saying an instruction to his kids the most times without the desired result.  I, also, had my own mini claim to fame when a talent agent spotted me at IKEA making a flying leap to grab Hannah Grace off of one of the suspended in mid-air couches.  I am now the face of Hanes stretch underwear ‘for women on the move.’

We hope this newsletter finds you and your family well and that you have a prosperous and joyous 2011!

What?  Did I not do it right?