All Things Visiting Santa.

So last year, we enjoyed a carriage ride with Santa at the Summit Sierra Mall. But given the chance of snow flurries, blustery winds and all out blizzards in our parts, Santa wisely moved himself into Dillards this year.

And I don't blame him. Truly, I don't. I, too, would want to be inside the relative comfort of a department store that carries such luxury items like Ed Hardy purses and Donald J Pliner shoes. I mean if he has a sudden urge to douse himself with Juicy Couture's Dirty After Shave Tonic, well, he has to look no further than the first floor. It's just so much handier that way.

Needless to say, we marched in confidently to the Children's Department where who but the Man in the Red Suit himself...please note, he was sporting a rather intricate brocade vest this year. Very fancy. Very Victorian...was waiting for us. And no one else. It was one of those Christmas Miracle Moments. No line for Santa. Way cool.

Bella, didn't hesitate this year but jumped on his lap and immediately told him that she wanted a Barbie. Kata, on the other hand, provided details of everything but the bar codes on her Wish List items. She is my Shopper-In-Training for certain.

Alex was a good sport. He's getting into that phase where reality sets in slowly. It's probably our last Christmas filled with True Believers.

Santa had a handy dandy Elf, named Mistletoe, who made these wonderful balloons. This exercise will clue you into their personalities - Kata asked for a candy cane. Alex for a sword. And Bella, well Bella, asked for a mermaid. And she got it.

Wishing you an unseasonably warm moment, real or perceived. We certainly enjoyed ours today. Happy December everyone.


All Things Deck the Halls.

There's nothing sweeter than unpacking things you haven't looked at for at least a year. Like our Christmas book collection. And then you realize just how many holiday themed books can a family of five possibly have? In our case, lots and lots and lots is the answer.

The process of putting up the tree is a three stage one - the tree, the lights and then all the ornaments. Ken has made this an art form. Honestly, the man has rightfully earned the Griswald Award of Distinction for Lighting. We are that movie - Christmas Vacation.

And I swear, they all posed willingly for one snapshot in their Santa Hats. I didn't have to resort to bribing, begging or beatings...kidding on the latter, relax...it's just that time of year when straight after Thanksgiving...our children become exceedingly aware of the fact that the Fat Jolly Red Elf is watching them - closely. And they better be good alright.

Wishing you a moment of enjoyment as you unpack your holiday decorations and realize how much you've missed their glittering presence. And oh, yes, remember, being good this time of year will pay off in the long run...or in about 25 days.


All Things Give Thanks.

Since we moved here, we haven't been with our family and friends on Thanksgiving. We do think of them as we prepare all of our favorite treats and we do try to call just to tell them "thanks" for being there for us throughout the year.

Top Three Things We're Grateful For This Year -

  1. Our health.
  2. The love of our friends and family.
  3. The fact that we didn't set the oven on fire this year but instead we plugged up the garbage disposal. It's a much easier disaster to mitigate.

Wishing you a plate of leftovers today...or a yummy turkey sandwich...and a slice of pie, if you're like us your choices are pumpkin or the now infamous Riggsby blueberry. Enjoy the moment today.


All Things Reviews with No Spoilers On the Side.

I know, you've been waiting with bated vampire breath to read my review of "Twilight."

I have to admit that after seeing the Midnight Screening on Friday morning, I was left with a Not Like The Book But It's Still Good feeling. Oh, there were parts that bothered me...a LOT...especially a much loved, pivotal scene that was completely altered and not for the better or so I thought at the time.

But then, I snuck in to see it again yesterday afternoon. Ken, earning himself a Great Daddy & Husband Award, took the kids to see "Bolt" all by himself. Fortunately Bella, who hadn't napped at all that afternoon, fell asleep almost immediately and Kata curled herself up in the chair and dozed. So, no one needed a Bathroom Break or two or three and no one whined about Equal Candy Distribution. The stars had aligned for us once more.

So upon viewing the movie again and knowing more of what to expect, I thought hey, this is
quite good. Yes, things were not Exactly Like the Book. They couldn't be. The movie was already two hours long.

But on its own merits the movie presents the original concept of the book - a great and impossible love story. And it captures you in its plot and holds you until you are rooting for the couple to make it. The changes, which originally irritated me, made sense when I took into account the movie's need for plot continuity and fast paced character development.

My recommendation? Go and see the movie this week. And I wish you a moment like I had - an escape into the plot of beloved characters and a chance to get lost in their problems and resolutions for at least two hours.


All Things Twilight.

So if you're wondering where I will be tomorrow night at 12:01 am, let me stop your guessing. I will be viewing the much anticipated "Twilight" movie after consuming mushroom ravioli (it's in the book, trust me on this) and pomegranate martinis (because, well there is a vampire theme).

Here enjoy my favorite clip from the movie -

Wishing you a moment where you are indeed, "dazzled," yes that's also from the book. So run, go get the book, see the movie and remember to just laugh, love and oh, yes simply...BE.


All Things Special Birthdays.

We are so blessed to have two people in our lives who not only share the same birth date but the same zest for life - our Maka and our Auntie Daphne.

And because I'm in a Twilight-themed mood (and yes, I ::made:: them both read the series) a little tribute to the two ladies who hold a special place in our hearts.

To our grandmother, mother and friend we love how you love us unconditionally, have an infinite supply of energy to play board games, read to us and watch cartoons over and over again.

You are always there to lend a hand, say the right thing when we need to hear it the most and provide the support when we feel like our foundation is slipping away.

Happy, happy birthday to our Maka!

There are a few people who enter into your life and provide a sprinkling of magic. Our Auntie Daphne is certainly one such person.

She is an unbelievable spark in our lives. Always there with a giggle and a proper beating (trust me, that' s an ongoing joke between her and the kids and yes, you just had to be there for that one). Her visits with us fill us with memories that are unforgettable.

Happy, happy birthday Auntie Daphne!

We only wish we could be there to stick our fingers in your birthday cakes before you even get a chance to blow the candles out. Because for us there's nothing sweeter than a little frosting before the wish!

Wishing you many, many, many happy years to come!


All Things Say Cheese.

So here it is...our 2008 Holiday photo. Oh, I am sure you will all get one in a few short weeks via our Christmas Card List. And no, for the record, I have not started on the Holiday Newsletter...you can all now collectively let out a breath. I am not that organized, folks.

The picture below is that Sister Kiss photo that we will use as a Major Bribe in years to come. There's a lot of mixed feelings because I know that the time for these types of Cute Shots is rapidly slipping away. After all, Alex will turn double-digits in April. Cuteness, at some point, has to end. No doubt replaced by Pre-Teen Dourness and then flat out Teen Angst. The latter, I am looking forward to because I'm drawn to the Dark Side myself - I feel a little more prepared at least.

And then today I realized that we only have a few weeks to get things in order before the Holidays are upon us. And I have to admit that we're slowly getting things done on our Never ending List of Chores. For example, just now I am off to clean out the girls' wardrobe. I may not return for a while. Perhaps I'll end up in Narnia. I could only wish.

Wishing you a Get Things Done Moment. Yes, we will ::ALL:: feel better if we just do it.


All Things A Change In the Weather.

It wouldn't be a change in the weather around these parts without a quote from Mark Twain -
"Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get."

That quote is so very true for us living here in the Sierra foothills. This time of year the clouds gather into their winter formations and there is definitely a presence of snow in the mountains. And sunsets are no longer red, orange and purple but take on the gray, blue and yellow tones of winter.

Just this morning I kept telling the kids that it "smells" like snow so we better take out our winter jackets. But a little old change in the weather doesn't keep us from doing the things we love, like walks with the dog and the little red wagon.

Wishing you a winter moment - all bundled up and full of hot chocolate.


All Things Dragon.

I've always loved fantasy literature. I even took a class in it as an undergrad at UC Berkeley. And of course, The Chronicles of Narnia rank as my favorite children's books of all time. So it was my great hope that at least one of my children would share this love with me.

I discovered The Spiderwick Chronicles a few years ago. And as began to collect the books, I secretly hoped that Alex would soon be old enough to show interest in them. I loved the story. The books reminded me of Edward Eager's Half Magic which I loved when I was seven or eight years old, only Spiderwick was a little darker which I, of course, liked even better.

And then the movie was going to come out and in our long standing tradition of Reading Books Before Seeing the Movie, Alex and I read the books together. And he - loved them.

So one day, I was surfing the web and I came across the web site of the illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi. By this time, Alex had requested and received for his birthday, Arthur Spiderwick's Illustrated Field Guide which is a compilation of Tony's incredible art work. It was then that Alex and I decided that for his Off Track Project he would write to Tony and send him an illustration of his own. The above picture is of a snakewyrm dragon he drew. I made him write the letter, which at first he resisted but then totally got into describing his dragon in great detail.

Well a few days ago a package arrived in the mail. Tony answered Alex's letter with a very gracious response and a drawing of his own for Alex. He also posted Alex's dragon on his web page along with a very nice comment.

We are extremely grateful to Mr. DiTerlizzi for being so generous to his younger fans. Alex shared his letter and artwork at his school and he now gets to write an article about his experience for the school newsletter. Pretty cool.

I'm amazed at how an act of generosity multiplies over and over again. Wishing you that Multiplication Moment this weekend.


All Things Yes We Can.

I am sure you already guessed that we were glued to our TV set last night, waiting for the results. Alex had a map of the United States and was labelling the states red or blue as the results came in. For once, the kids didn't ask to turn to the Disney channel.

We made a batch of Obama cookies and waited and waited and waited. The girls tried on their new Christmas dressed over their regular clothes. Sigh. But they were so thrilled to wear their fancy party clothes.

At one point, Alex turned to me and said, "Mama who is your favorite president of all time?"

Without a pause, I answered, "Abraham Lincoln."

"But he was a Republican, Mama."

"That's when the Republican Party was good," I quipped back.

Who knows who he will vote for when it's his turn, but I hope all of my kids understand the right and the priviledge as well as the process of voting. And that they do it - every single time.

And when the results came in, Alex was the first to announce, "I shook his hand a few weeks ago! I shook the President of the United States' hand!!" Yes you did, little dude, yes you did.

The above picture is one I took at the UNR rally that Alex and I attended. He looked so determined and sure as he walked down the long runway to shake hands. I love that photo and I am glad I was there to witness history. Now the real work begins.

To all of you who have followed our political adventures from the January Caucus up until today - thank you! It's been quite a ride.


All Things Vote.

Just a gentle reminder...if you haven't turned in your Absentee Ballot or done the Early Vote thing, like me...

Don't forget!


All Things All Hallow's Eve.

It all started for us the Day Before Halloween. We had three parties to go to that day. The first was Bella's Preschool Party. See how thrilled she was to be there in her Princess Aurora outfit??

Kata was dressed up as Alice in Wonderland, complete with required white tights, black mary janes and a black bow in her hair. Cannot be more authentic, eh? All she needed was a White Rabbit and a Cheshire Cat in tow.

Her Kindergarten put on a little show for the families and we had fun waiting for it to begin.

And then it was showtime? Well rehearsed and well acted, let me tell you. And yes, well worth the price of admission - free.

Pumpkin carving time. Alex requested a ghost pumpkin for his Cub Scout Halloween Party. He had a blast and actually did an Open Mike joke -

Q: Why did the police take away the computer's driver's license?
A: Because it crashed.

Pretty funny those Scout Jokes. Watch out Jerry Seinfeld!

Bella requested a Sleeping Beauty Pumpkin.

Alex a dragon.

And Kata wanted Snow White.

Here we are getting ready to go out into the Big Scary Night.

Fully posed as a Sleeping Princess, a Telmarine Prince and a Girl Who Follows a White Rabbit Down a Rabbit Hole.

Alex is totally into the Chronicles of Narnia (hmm, I wonder who is influencing this??) and loved his Prince Caspian costume.

Of course, I couldn't resist the temptation to wear a hat...perfect, don't you think? Watch out Hogwarts, there could be a new professor coming your way.

Ken, having learned from all those past Halloweens that the girls get tired easily brought the little red wagon along. So smart that man is - so smart.

And because he couldn't resist temptation, he had to try on my witch's hat.

Of course, out littlest had to follow in her Daddy's footsteps. Note the chocolate around her mouth? Yes, we were enjoying the loot.

I saved the best for last...one of the gals over at Twilight Moms created this very special pumpkin just for me. Let me tell you, this will be up at least until the movie's premiere. What a piece of art. Now I have to tempt her to work on a Narnia one for me?!?!

Wishing you a Not So Scary Moment today. And keep in mind how well those little tiny chocolates go with your morning coffee or tea.