Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Mensa Christmas

Ready for a fun holiday test?

Okay, so this isn't a Mensa certified test, but I have Mensa on my mind...and Christmas. Eric keeps toying around with taking the Mensa test because, well, I have no idea except that I think it is a nice follow-up to his stint with Jeopardy. I told him I would support the venture, as long as no magic cards were involved.

I had a great work holiday party this week. Full of games, trivia, dirty Santa, and food. Let me just say that I was first loser (2nd place) in all 3 games.

  1. It was between my drawing and another drawing for our timed "draw a Santa picture with your non-dominant hand". But I chalk that up to artistic subjectivity.
  2. I used my mad math skills to guess how many chocolates were in a mason jar. Clearly I calculated length x width x height. Well, so did a another coworker, and then she upped her number by 1. So her 126 beat my 125 (there were actually 139 in the jar). First loser; again.
  3. I got 11 (of course) out of the 20 "Guess the Christmas Carol" timed trivia, but someone was able to bang out 14 in 3 minutes.
Because the holidays are about expanding our waistlines and minds, I present to you "Guess the Christmas Carol". Give yourself 3 minutes (your iPhone's clock has a nice timer) to see if you can decode the following. Answers will be provided soon. Post your guesses in the comments below.

Winner gets a prize. Maybe.

1. Bleached Yule: White Christmas
2. Cold male with prosthetic eyes: Frosty The Snowman
3. Singular yearning for the twin anterior incisors: All I Want for Christmas is my 2 Front Teeth
4. Righteous darkness: Holy Night
5. Arrival time 2400 hrs - weather cloudless: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
6. Loyal followers advance: Oh Come All Ye Faithful
7. Far off in a feeder: Away in a Manger
8. Array the corridor: Deck The Halls
9. Bantam male percussionist: Little Drummer Boy
10. Monarchical triad: We Three Kings
11. Nocturnal noiselessness: Silent Night
12. Primary color festival celebration the savior's birth: Blue Christmas
13. Red man en route to borough: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
14. Frozen precipitation commence: Let it Snow
15. Proceed and enlighten on the pinnacle: Go Tell it On the Mountain
16. Laughing stock of the playground: Rudolph...
17. Query regarding identity of descendant: What Child is This?
18. Delight for this planet: Joy to the World
19. Give attention to the melodious celestial beings: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
20. The dozen festive 24 hour intervals: The 12 Days of Christmas


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chri-mass time in Instagram

Blah, blah...Instagram wants to sell your photos. Listen, my guess is that come January 16, this all will be resolved, and because I've put myself on arm rest (precursor to bedrest), I can't use our nice camera and am forced to use the iPhone. Instagramming it up.


We are a day away from our big North Pole Limited train ride in Chattanooga, but we've been swimming in Christmas festivity for a fortnight (or Chri-mass as Felix says).  

OMG. Did I just use the term "fortnight?" Even more...did I just say "OMG" to distract you from the insertion of some old English? 

This is how my brain works--Christmas reminds me of John Denver and The Muppets famous record A Christmas Together, which includes the song "Christmas is Coming." You know, geese-fat-ha'penny, etc. And ha'penny makes me think of old English. And then fortnight bubbles up in my brain. See? And now I am off to find 21st century access to this album because I'm not sure I can "burn" our family's old record. 

Late November we said goodbye to Milky White (or Lily as I named her years ago--strange how that name still lives on in our family in human form!):

(Upgrade documented later)

We (read: my husband. I did not sign off on the volume, color or arrangement of the lights) decorated the peeling wrought iron steps. Nothing like 2 month old pumpkins, lead poisoning and barely enough LED lights.

We enjoyed the unseasonably warm days for weekly nature walks. (Santa's sleigh DOES work in leaf piles you know.)

We (I) said hi to nugget in early December and are confident this child is going to be a dancer. Specializing in jazz hands. (And let's just ignore that it looks like the baby is missing the top portion of its skull.)

We got our Christmas tree and enjoyed fire roasted marshmallows at the farm.

We decorated and learned about the difference between fashion and decorations. Yes. Santa has hairy legs AND wears house shoes!
 Speaking of fashion, we got dressed up and drove around to view Christmas lights.
Speaking of Muppets (see ha'penny above), we went to see the Center for Puppetry Arts's seasonal performance of Rudolph with our best friends. I know; I am entering this photo into some sort of photography contest. If you look long enough, an actual picture emerges.

And to date, we have visited with 3 versions of Santa. Although the one at the boys' childcare was the least realistic (hey, not all of the priests are okay with growing a beard all year round), the boys were the most excited and comfortable with him.

Next up--Train Ride and Minivan ride to Ohio!

Merry Merry!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Hugs for Sale

Due to the gravity of the recent events in CT, I have unscheduled my woe is my suffering pregnant body post, and will reschedule at a later date.

In it's place, I want to share the following moment of today:

I drop Miles off every Friday from his PreK program to his old childcare facility, where Felix still goes. 
I usually do a drop and run because Miles puts up a stink and fusses that he doesn't want to be there and wants to stay with me. 
I mean, I don't blame him; I can be fun at times.

Today, unlike any other Friday, I saw Eric playing with all of the kids on the playground. His schedule this year does not allow him to go down to the center and spend as much time at lunch with the kids as he has in years past, but today he got a sliver of time to join the wild rumpus. 

I was glad Eric was there to soften the transition and quell the weekly tears. I got to steal a midday kiss from my husband, and spent a few extra minutes enjoying all of the kids. 

As I put Miles into the play space, I called Felix over to give him a hug before I went back to work. 
Immediately after giving both Miles and Felix a goodbye hug, one of their friends came over to me and asked for a hug. 
So I gave him a hug. 
Then another friend came over and asked for a hug, too. 
And I gave him a hug. 

In all my years at this center, this is the first time I have been asked by the other kids for a hug. 
As I walked back to my car, I thought how cute it was that I just got hugged by a brood of boys.

And then I wondered what their parents would think if they walked by and saw me hugging on all of their kids.

I got in my car, put it in reverse, turned on NPR and heard about the shootings in Connecticut.

Choking back tears, I realized that the parents wouldn't care. 
They wouldn't care in the least.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: Boys 2-4

I don't want to come across a Scroogette, but I get overwhelmed by the hysteria and consumer culture of the holidays. I prefer the comfort of my home to the over zealous Black Friday shopping at 6am. (And I am a testament that you can get just as good deals from your bed over the following weeks.)

Plus, our house is just going to seem smaller and smaller when Dumpling/Nugget/#3 arrives, so I am trying to keep our material footprint small.

For the holidays this year, we've opted for a big experiential gifts:
  •  North Pole train ride in Chattanooga, TN at the end of the month. 
  •  Puppet show with friends(Thanks AunT and Nuncle for the gift we can now use!). 
  • And we also spent a night with some other friends tooling around looking at lights. 
  • Oh, and we are doing the combo experiential/material with the 12 Days of Bookmas.
And when bullet pointed in the blog, it looks pretty substantial, no?

But let's be honest; kids love opening up gifts. The pressure from friends about "what you are getting" has started. (Apparently for 4 year old boys it's something related to ice man and cars with flames. oh joy.) I don't like to be a slave to the tangible toy, but I also don't want my children to not experience the fun of opening gifts on Christmas.

With a night or two on Amazon and, we got our lot of gifts. And thanks to Black Friday/Cyber Monday, coupon codes, free shipping and 2 vouchers, we saved quite a load of money. And a trip to the store.

At this point, all of the toys are labeled "To Miles and Felix." I like to see them fight over things on Christmas morning. Outside of Jesus's birth, that's a true gift, no? Now, we did get them each 1 big present "from Santa." We have written him a note and want to make sure our children understand the concept of "follow-through" (right after Eric describes the physics of getting a 200lb+ creeptastic man to slide down our chimney with a bike and scooter).

Oh, and because Felix's birthday is January 4, I've added in his birthday items as well. All he told us he wanted is a truck cake. This kid is easy to please. Although, what I am reading when he says "truck cake" is a chocolate zucchini cake with a dinosaur toy on the top--you are reading that too, right?

For under $25 (what up vouchers, codes and deals!), we got the following from

Green Toys EcoSaucer Disc 

Green Toys Jump Rope
We are big outside people and I am always looking for new outdoor toys, and Felix proved to us this summer that he is a pro with disc, and Miles keeps asking for a jump rope so he can play this game he calls "hook 'n horse" where he wraps a line around a willing little brother and has them gallop around. Pants optional.

Green Toys Submarine
We currently referee nightly battles in the bath over bath toys. So with this sub and the sea plane Felix will get on his birthday, I am hoping the full nelsons and water boarding will be reduced.

Plan Toys Measuring Tape

Miles is obsessed with using Eric's measuring tape to see how tall everything is. But the thing is heavy and he has dropped it on various toes over time. 

Sprig Soarin' Sea Plane (for Felix's birthday)
See water boarding above.

Maxim Wud Workers Roller (for Felix's birthday)
This is pretty cool. It has 40+ pieces and you put it together yourself. Meaning, Eric gets to put it together while Felix throws pieces around. I think once it is assembled, he is going to LOVE it.

For over $25, we got the following from Amazon:
3 Schleich Dinosaurs (1 will be for Felix's birthday)

We have been collecting Schleich animals and dinosaurs for years. I have a very strong feeling that the collecting of barbie dolls or charms for a charm bracelet is just not in the cards,  but I really do want to have quality and nice items for the boys to collect and keep for when they grow up and (potentially) have children.

From Santa, the boys are getting (or so the Elves tell me)
Ybike Glider scooter (Felix)

I did lots of research on the best scooters for the 2-3 year old crowd, and think this one came in the lead. We love, love, love our Ybike (totally recommend) and think this will be a good addition. 

Huffy Bike with training wheels (Miles)

Okay, lemme just say that Miles has wanted a real bike forever. I am happily obliging. But it kills me that the options are limited to ones with Disney promotional characters and such. We did find another one that didn't have some sort of character on it, but it was poorly rated. So, I am getting over myself and the fact that his bike has a peplum Cars pooch/pouch in the front.

Given that most of the toys are contained to the outside or bath, I'm feeling pretty good about the house being littered with more junk. And I think with all the fun events and the few fun toys for the holiday and Felix's birthday, these boys should be feeling pretty fulfilled and lucky!

What are all of you getting the 2-4 crowd?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Note from my pre pregnant self...

You know those inspiring videos and letters people write to their 16-year-old selves? (Dear 16-year-old me. You won't marry your high school boyfriend and run off together to do theater in NYC. Even though you will still be straightening your hair religiously at 30 and covering zits, you won't care as much about the outcome. And all those girls who were supremely popular in high school and were kinda mean? They aren't nearly as cool at 30, and are far less accomplished than you will be. Stop worrying about being valedictorian. No one in the real world cares..etc). Well, here is just a PS note to my self from August 2012.

Dear pre-pregnant Ali at 32 years old,

You know those few pairs of really cute small undies with the bejazzled "PINK" on the lace waistband? First, what were you thinking; bejeweled/jazzled? Clearance isn't worth making it feel like you are posturing around like a tween with writing on her sweat pant bum. And haven't you learned those underwear are overpriced and understitched?

Second, pitch the undies STAT once you get a positive pregnancy test; trying to squeeze into them at 21+ weeks pregnant does nothing for your confidence or appreciation of the pregnant body.

Additionally, the jewels will just dig into your side and haunches...specifically where you get shot up every Friday with progesterone. It's like a cilce (hairshirt). But underwear. And instead of inducing discomfort as a sign of repentance and atonement, it's causing you pain as a sign of the excessive weight you've gained but are denying during this pregnancy. And you will contemplate free-vagina-ing it at work because the physical and emotional pain is unbearable come 1pm.

Warm regards, girl. are only a few weeks away from those free granny-netted underwear that you secretly both love and hate.

This is my lead up to a post I am contemplating doing--after I rub salve in the jewel bruises I have inflicted--on how I have come to the realization that I don't love being pregnant. Before you get all huffy, you are going to have to hear me a few days. Until then, I give you license to talk behind my back. I'll be too busy nursing my undie wounds.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Twelve Days of Bookmas

As if opening 3 advent calendars a day in preparation for Christmas isn't enough in this house, a few months ago I decided I would wrap a book a night for the month of December to have the boys open for nightly reading.

Then I calculated how much money 25 nights of books would cost (because you know I am self proclaimed book snob and usually only buy hard cover books). So then I got more realistic and decided to do the 12 days before Christmas.

Then I re-calculated how much 12 nights would be, and still felt like we might have to switch to cereal for dinner for the rest of the year.

Then I contemplated wrapping books that we haven't read in a few months and having them open them in hopes of some book amnesia.

Then I discovered Amazon's used book selection and other online used book sources and spent a few weeks collecting used books in excellent condition and secured all 12 for between $1 and $3 a piece (and we had some Barnes and Noble gift cards that we used, too).

I used the boys's old art and cut out the numbers 1-12 and pasted them to the wrapped books. I'll place them all under the tree on December 13, and each day one boy will have to find the right # and can unwrap the book to read. You know, a twofor: learning #s and getting a gift. Well, maybe even a threefor in that we don't have to read James and the Giant Peach for a few nights (we are already on the re-reading it phase).

I present to you the 2012 Twelve Days of Bookmas:

Day 1:

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Day 2:
The Great Pie Robbery by Richard Scarry

Day 3:
Look! Another Book by Bob Staake

Day 4:
Who's  Hiding? by Satoru Onishi

Day 5: 
A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer

Day 6:
Inside Your Outside by Tish Rabe

Day 7:
Bugs Galore by Peter Stein
Day 8:
Many Moons by James Thurber

Day 9:
The Big Green Book of Beginner Books by Dr Seuss

Day 10:
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman

Day 11:
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss

Day 12:
The Big Book of Berenstain Bears Beginner Books by Stan and Jan Berenstain

No one can say we don't read to these 2.5 kids...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saving our prescription at a time

Listen, marital strife is no joke, and I am probably taking this whole "how eye glasses saved my marriage" too far in that there is nothing in need of saving. But I am a girl of follow through, and I started it in a previous post and now feel obligated to finish it.

The day after I posted how free eyeglasses was the ticket to spicing up our marriage (I've now inflated it to saving our marriage), in that I think my husband actually commented on me looking [fill in with a benign adjective along the lines of "worth being seen with"], I got this postcard in the mail.

If you'll remember, I got this one below in the mail a few weeks back. At least I think I posted about it here. The glasses have sharpened my vision, but dulled my memory. If it wasn't posted here, it is definitely on my Instaobsession feed. I'm telling you...I'm a cheap date and sell. I don't even require full letter postage.
So the day I get the 2nd love postcard from Eric, I get a message while en route to pick up the boys that we are going on a surprise date night.

And dontcha know, we go and see a movie with 3D GLASSES.
See the theme, universe?

It was the first movie I have seen in 3D since Captain EO at Epcot circa 1986. In all honesty, Michael Jackson's Jerry Curl in 3D back in the 80s was more amazing. And I truly think that Life of Pi was probably just as magical without the tiger jumping out at my face. But really the glasses served a different purpose, no?

One prescription at a time, folks.