Friday, December 28, 2012

Sleigh Ride

On my mother's bucket list, right next to having a perfect daughter (sorry 'bout that) was go on a real sleigh ride. 

Which she happened to mention in passing as we sat around the Thanksgiving table making our Christmas plans. I smelled a challenge. And sure enough, after a little bit of research I found a farm 15 minutes away from us that offers real sleigh rides and camp fires.

On December 23rd, her 66th birthday, we surprised her with what would have been a real sleigh ride if there had been any freakin' SNOW! But since it's the end of DECEMBER and we haven't had any snow that lasts more than an hour, they hitch on some wheels instead and pretend it's a real sleigh.

Which, we totally did.

Bundled in several layers, 15 of us climbed aboard a winter carriage for a 35 minute ride through the forest. We huddled close, shared some blankets and sang along to the Johnny Mathis playlist we had blaring from a speaker. We sure know how to commit, man!

Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing, ring-ting-tingling too

C'mon its lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

Outside the snow isn't falling and friends are calling "Yoo-Hoo"

C'mon it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

Giddy-up giddy-up, giddy-up let's go, let's look at some deer

We're riding in a wonderland of fear

Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up its cold, for this Cal-i-fornian

We're gliding along with the song of a wintry fairy land.

Our cheeks are nice and rosy 

And comfy cozy are we

We're snuggled up together like two birds of a feather would be.

Let's take the road before us and sing a chorus or two

C'mon its lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.

There's a birthday party after we go-on-the-sleigh.

It'll be the perfect ending of a perfect day

We'll be singing the songs we love to sing without a single stop

At the fireplace where we watch the chestnuts pop!




There's a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy

As we pass around hot chocolate and some yummy S'mores

It'll nearly be like a picture print by Eugene Nar-ci-so

These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives....


Happy Birthday Mom!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Guess What?????

Merry Christmas! 

Sooooo, a lot has happened in the past 15 years. So much, in fact, that we 
made a five minute version of it.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A letter to my kids, a long time from now.

It's been 5 days since I found out.

And as hard as I try, I can't stop thinking about it. The sadness. The horror.

I was reading a book to you both. We were laughing. We were singing the words together. We kissed eachother goodnight and I tucked both of you in for a nap.

I walked back into the family room and my sister said, "you won't believe what's happened."

I looked at the computer screen and gasped outloud. I've never in my life started crying instantly the way I did in that moment.

Staring at the computer in shock I hear you, Mia, on the monitor calling for me to come back to your room. And I don't go see you right away because even moving felt difficult.

I wiped away the tears and walked back to your room. You wanted to read another book by yourself. I said okay and told you I loved you, and meant it on a level that I've never felt before. Oh, how I love you. Yes, read that book, sweet girl.

I left the room. Closed the door. And began crying again.

I turned the tv on.

Fell to my knees.


I called your dad. Could barely speak.

He told me to turn it off and I did.

I waited for you to return home, Bella. It was the longest wait ever.

I was too upset to get you from the bus, so your dad was there to get you. I walked outside and saw you in your purple sequin sweatshirt, jeggings and hair pulled back. I kept thinking what if this were you? What if this were you laying on the floor in your purple sweatshirt? I held you longer than normal. But as soon as I let go, my heart and my mind drifted to those poor families who's children never made it home. From school.

I brushed it off as best I could, not wanting any of you to question my sadness. I apologize for I was short and agitated and angry at the situation but I couldn't tell you why. I still can't tell you why.

Your dad put you to bed that night and I went out for errands. Partly because I had a list of them, partly because I needed to get away.

There was no smile on my face as I browsed the craft aisles for stuff to make your teacher gifts.

Teacher gifts.

The brave and heroic teachers that day reassuring the kids it was okay when it wasn't. The teachers and staff who risked their lives for the safety of their students. Teachers who huddled their students and READ TO THEM the entire time until the authorities told them it was clear to leave.

How do you really thank a teacher for all they do for you and your child? I stared at strangers in the checkout lines wondering how they felt when they heard the news. Were they taking it as hard as I was?

We woke the next morning and you kids looked for your Elf. You laughed.You danced and you sang Christmas carols all morning. I stared into space a lot that day--still do actually. Can't help but think how this must feel for the families and the people of that town.

Later that night I couldn't sleep. I layed awake trying not to replay the images in my mind, but couldn't help it. And I cried and cried.

Monday morning came and I walked out the door with you Bella holding your hand tight. I kissed you and put you on the bus. I waved and as the bus pulled away I cried all over again.

Your dad and I have taught you kids not to fear death. That no matter what, every living thing dies. This is life. We will all die one day. Just this morning as I was driving you home from school Mia, you asked me when everyone on this earth is going to die. You are so curious about this life--I love that about you.

This Christmas feels different now. I'm slowly trying to get back into the groove but every time I catch myself laughing or enjoying a moment with you kids I'm reminded of the horrific choices that were made that day. Reminded that yes, there is an awful world that sometimes exists outside of our happiness bubble. And I hope and pray that we're never a part of it. Ever.

And that we will continue to share our love with everyone in hopes that in some small way we can make a difference. Love, we have plenty of it to go around.

You three are my heart and soul, today and forever.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

OMG! Mad Libs!

While impatiently waiting in the Old Navy checkout line I spied a Mad Libs and bought it instantly. Well, that is after the 17 minute wait to make it to the register. Remember Gina, you love the Holidays. You freakin' love the Holidays. It's moments like this that I need a festive reminder.

Photo courtesy of

But as it turns out the Mad Libs was worth every frustrating second. Instead of reading before bedtime tonight we filled out a Mad Lib and the kids lost their mind with laughter, even Chance. Granted, I had to explain to Mia what an adjective was about 30 times. And provide examples. At about round 23 my examples became much more descriptive: maddening. obnoxious. tiresome.

But honestly it was a great way to learn the grammar basics. And since I was asked to read the story again at breakfast, it goes to show you it tickled their funny bone. Here's their story:

"Book Review" by Bella, Mia and Chance

Mia has just written a book called "The Mom in the Ugly Zsa-Zsa." The main character in this smelly story is a suspicious woman named Bella who has just been elected president. She must decide whether to spend money on making gorgeous bombs, sending people to the planet Maki-kaki-faki or building weasels to accommodate the growing population. The author creates many cool moments, and you will find yourself sitting on the edge of your hoo-hoo late at night because you cannot stop dancing this book. Bella turns out to be the greatest president in the last century and leads the people to peace and bossy. This book is written smoothly and should be nominated for a one million dollar trophy.

FYI zsa-zsa means car and hoo-hoo means train in Chanceanese. I absolutely adore his little language something fierce. In fact, I reckon he's a gee-gee. Genius in momanese, DUH.

But really MadLibs would be great for some cooky winter break fun. Keep a book in the car for those aggravating road trips or heck even download a free and fancy-schmancy version to your phone or tablet.

Either way, enjoy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Christmas Jammy-Jam

Guys, I've got a holly jolly hangover that has nothing to do with alcohol and everything to do with 15 kids decking our halls with some serious Holiday cheer. We threw a milk and cookie kids party that may just end up being our favorite 2012 Christmas memory.

Need proof?

Some specifics were these super cute snowman milk bottles. Over the course of a month in the summer Eugene and I drank about 18 of these Starbuck frapuccino's. They've come in handy for SO many dinner parties.

I had some leftover fleece from the super-hero cape project and I used glue dots to adhere the buttons, it was extremely easy. The hard part, however, was the snowman face. When I did a dry run-through mid week I discovered that the powdered munchkins from Dunkin Donuts weren't big enough to sit on top of the bottle. In fact, no powdered donut hole in a 15 mile radius was large enough. So my friend Erin, who also made these amazing Christmas tree cake pops as party favors

saved my Frosty ass and whipped up about 16 vanilla cake balls that were rolled in powdered sugar. With black writing gel and some orange dinosaur sprinkles the Frosty's face was made! It was such a cute way to have their milk and cookies. 

We had a snowball fight that was made possible with about 150 crumpled up tissue paper balls.

Also, we had a book exchange where each kid brought a new or used wrapped book. As I read aloud the story How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the kids would pass their book to the person on their right every time they heard me say the word Christmas. It was so much fun!

We also had a reindeer food buffet. Kelle Hampton totally inspired me when she did this for her North Pole kids party and the idea stuck with me all year.

Bascially, the kids make their own reindeer recipe that they leave outside on Christmas Eve so the reindeer have something to eat while Santa's inside. You can even download her personalized labels here.

Our friends made these awesome Santa desserts that I've been eyeing on pinterest for months now! Btw, that's cake frosting and not whipped cream. They learned the hard way. 

It was a night that will go down in our Christmas scrapbook for years to come. The pajamas, the laughing, the red and green--all of it was so fantastic! Please tell me that Christmas is still magical when you have teenagers? I don't think I could bare the thought of this magic ever leaving our home.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 3, 2012

Punching myself in the face during my piloxing class wasn't the best way to start my week!

This was last Monday when I gave my chin an uppercut, not today. Dude, I'm perpetually late.

How about a week in pictures?


In what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, all three kids played happily together AFTER SCHOOL!!

 The 4:00 witching hour never felt so peaceful.


Tuesday mornings are story time at the library. The theme this week was "pajamas and favorite stuffy" and Chance couldn't have been happier. See that little stuffy, his name is Fetch 
and he's Chance's favorite. 

He would wear his "zsa-zsa" pajamas all day and all night if he could.


The many faces of Mia


Bella has joined the Daisy Girl Scouts this year and we all joined her as she helped to decorate a tree at a local art park in the neighborhood.


Our Elf on the Shelf Dobby arrived!!

Within minutes the girls had letters written and tucked near him for a North Pole delivery.

They also thought he was hungry from traveling and offered up a pretzel chip.


The kids took an Elf on the Shelf craft class at the library and made their very own E.O.T.S.

Saturday evening we got a babysitter and headed to a friends house for some red wine, 
awesome food and good laughs. 


I caught Bella singing to herself near her Christmas tree and noticed that she formed some fake snow into some fancy accessories. Tee hee.

Man, this girl is growing so fast it's making me all mushy.

We ended our weekend with some pics in our fancy pajamas.


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