Wednesday, December 31, 2008


If this doesn't keep people out of The Boy's room, I don't know what will.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas morning ... before and after

Copying from my buddy Ken Davis here, because I agree it's pretty amazing what a few minutes of unbridled avarice will do to a living room.


And after...

Friday, December 26, 2008

A fan of the trundle...

Here's the way I found my two girls this morning.

Jack had slept on Hannah's trundle bed (so he could listen to the Harry Potter CD, he says). When he got up, Izzy quickly claimed his spot, and I snapped a quick photo before heading off to work.

Then I washed the sheets and pillowcase as soon as I got home because, you know, that dog needs a bath.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The nuts have been cracked...

Another great show this afternoon, another fun autograph and photo session, another frantic race to clean and pack costumes, and another year of "Nutcracker" is over.

Whole lot of work, but it sure was fun. I helped dress and wrangle toy soldiers this year, along with my friend Kathy, whose daughter Erin also was a soldier. My duties this year included making sure the soldiers' rifles were in the right place at the right time, painting perfectly round red cheeks, and quickly switching top-knots to regular buns for the soldier girls who danced as Candy Canes in Act II. Whew.

Here's a shot of me with my rifles. (Or "riffles," according to the pre-edited stage mom instructions. Kathy, who teaches English at Butler Community College, thankfully fixed the error, but both of us called them "riffles" throughout the run of the show anyway.)

The photo is a little blurry, possibly because I walked very quickly with that bucket of guns.

Kathy, meanwhile, got to stress out about being in charge of the Nutcracker's sword. That sword is an extremely important prop -- second only, perhaps, to Clara's toy nutcracker -- so Kathy got a little neurotic about having to know exactly where it was at any given moment. Check out the way she looks in this photo (Kathy's on the left, and that's my dance-mom buddy Jenny in the middle):

Here's a quick photo of our soldier girls, with Chaz (Nutcracker/Prince):

A shot of me with my sweet soldier girl, backstage today:

And here's a parting shot of one of my absolute favorite moments in the Friends University "Nutcracker" production -- the snow scene. Sigh. Can't believe it's over already.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cooking marathon...

This is the way Izzy looked for most of our annual baking marathon Monday. Guess she figured if she looked pitiful enough, she could maybe get some crumbs.

Alice came down from K.C. for our annual festival of butter, chocolate and refined sugars. We started with Nighty-Night Cookies, then moved on to a couple new Paula Deen recipes. I especially loved the Top Secret Chocolate Cookies, y'all. But the Loaded Oatmeal Cookies were pretty dang delicious, too.

We made our signature Sweet and Spicy Nuts, as well as the tried-and-true Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We made Puppy Chow. And dipped pretzel rods in chocolate. And we ate lots of dough.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hard-to-find toys...

According to polls, 41 million people haven’t started their Christmas shopping.

I really hope, for those people's sakes and sanity, that none of them have 8-year-old boys and are looking for the Ben 10 Alien Creation Chamber.

Gareb Shamus, publisher of Toy Wishes Magazine, confirmed today something that I discovered early last week: That dang toy is almost impossible to find. Thankfully, one of the helpful elves in Santa's Kansas City bureau was able to locate one there. Whew.

Here are the "Top Toys Impossible to Find As Of This Week," from Toy Wishes:

1. Bakugan
2. Lego Star Wars and Lego Batman
3. Star Wars Action Figures (particularly Clone Command Cody and Ahsoka Tano)
4. Dora Magical Figures
5. Ben 10 Alien Creation Chamber
6. Hasbro – Marvel Transformers
7. Yo Gabba Gabba Dance Mat
8. Clone Wars Voice Changing Helmet
9. Wall-E – U-Command, I-dance and Transforming
10. Club Penguin – Plush and trading cards
11. Webkinz – Plush
12. Imaginext – Superfriends
13. Nerf – all the Nerf Blasters
14. Eyeclops night vision goggles
15. Girl Gourmet cupcake maker

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shopping for teacher gifts?

For the past few years, we've given Hannah's teachers tickets to "The Nutcracker" as a Christmas gift, which in kind of win-win, since she's in the show and always wants her teachers to see her.

Jack's get gift certificates to their restaurant or other eatery/drinkery of choice (Sonic, Starbucks, etc.), which has gone over pretty well.

If you're still trying to decide on teacher gifts, here's a little thing I wrote a few years back that might give you some ideas:

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 (The Wichita Eagle)

I have a love-hate relationship with teacher gifts.

Love, because I truly cherish my children's teachers. I wish I could walk into their classrooms like Oprah Winfrey, happily showering them with gourmet foods, laptop computers, new cars and, of course, glue sticks.

But I hate the teacher-gift conundrum: Nothing seems good enough (least of all, my budget). And I'm always torn between the practical and personal: What do teachers really want?

Last week, I asked several teachers to forget the aw-shucks, it's-the -thought-that-counts mantra and give me the straight scoop on gifts. (Note: Their names have been withheld to protect their humility.) Here's what they said:

-- "I have enough teacher ornaments ('#1 Teacher!') to open my own gift shop! Teachers have a life outside the school environment."

-- "I love to receive movie passes, restaurant gift certificates, body lotions and gift cards to places like Wal-Mart, where you can buy items for the classroom."

-- "Many of those 'teacher things' (mugs, ornaments, etc.) are very cute, but if you have been teaching for any length of time at all. . . . You can do the math. Pretty soon, they're not all that cute."

-- "For me the best gifts are from parents who take the time to notice things about me and get to know me. . . . Last year I had a mom who noticed that I drink coffee, and she gave me a Starbucks gift card. That was fabulous ."

-- "Most middle school and high school teachers tend to be forgotten completely at Christmastime. I suppose it is because the child has several teachers, and parents tend to not be as involved at those levels."

-- "If kids feel they have to give me something, (I ask that they) give to a charity in my name. I also suggest that they take a name off of the Angel Tree instead of giving me a gift."

-- "I like gift cards from Barnes & Noble, Borders and Superior School Supply. The books I buy are then used to supplement classroom collections."

-- "I love homemade treats, because I don't have time to do much holiday baking."

-- "Just a heartfelt card or note to tell us we are appreciated is wonderful."

-- "The 'World's Greatest Teacher' plaque, pin or paperweight is great for a first-year teacher, but after that, enough is enough."

-- "Gift cards to bookstores are great. I always buy a book for the classroom and let the child know that I did that. Gifts to charity or organizations in my name are also well received."

-- "The most useful gifts are gift certificates to movies, restaurants or bookstores. The most meaningful gifts to me, though, are the ones that the kids make themselves. Even a simple card is very much appreciated if it's homemade."

Here's the column...

For folks who read the blog and forget my column runs Thursdays, here's a handy-dandy link. (And no, we haven't finished unpacking.)

New house a strange world for kids, too

Thanks again to my buddy Laura, who saved my bottom on move-in day. :-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Have ignored the blog for the past couple weeks, but here's the deal: We moved.

Sold the house in Sleepy Hollow. Bought one in Rockwood. Everything went down in a matter of weeks, and we're exhausted. Randy just brought the last of the storage-unit stuff back to our new home tonight, so now the unpacking can begin in earnest.

You don't know how much crap you own until you have to move it. What in the world do we DO with this stuff? Why do we keep it? I plan to be completely ruthless over the next few weeks and just get rid of as much as I can. Goodwill and DAV, here we come.

Stay tuned for photos. I'm too tired to focus right now.