Arkie Mama: Our Christmas traditions

Multiple showings of Rudolph

Multiple showings of Rudolph

Choosing our favorite ornaments for tree-decorating

Choosing our favorite ornaments for tree-decorating

Fun with older siblings

Fun with older siblings

Christmas programs

Christmas programs

Twinkle, twinkle ...

Twinkle, twinkle ...

Hilarity and entertainment at said Christmas programs

Hilarity and entertainment at said Christmas programs

The Christmas card portrait

The Christmas card portrait (This year, Tootie drew Ty since he's away at Coast Guard training) Note artwork hanging on mantle. Each year, Tootie makes new mantle decor!

Trip to in-laws before Christmas

Trip to in-laws before Christmas

Trip to my parents' home, usually after Christmas

Trip to my parents' home, usually after Christmas

Carrots for reindeer, cookies for Santa (We make and decorate cookies on Christmas Eve)

Carrots for reindeer, cookies for Santa (We make and decorate cookies on Christmas Eve) Again, note mantle decor.

Sneaking a little frosting from Santa's cookies. So far, this hasn't landed her on the naughty list.

Sneaking a little frosting from Santa's cookies. So far, this hasn't landed her on the naughty list.

Secretive, late-night toy assembly (usually involves some un-Christmaslike language)

Secretive, late-night toy assembly (usually involves some un-Christmaslike language)

Coffee for disheveled parents, still sleepy from toy assembly. Not pictured — Christmas-morning cinnamon rolls. Yum.

Coffee for disheveled parents, still sleepy from toy assembly. Not pictured — Christmas-morning cinnamon rolls. Yum.

Want to participate in Wordless Wednesdays? Post a photo on your blog with a link back to me. Then I’ll list the links to all Wordless posts here.

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here:

She’s Crafty

Family Way

Moody Mom

Baby and the Beasts

Hugs & Kisses

Mom on a Wire

Arkie Mama: Dispatches from my parents

Since retiring, my parents have taken to extensive traveling. Right now, they’re sailing the Atlantic, on their way to Puerto Rico, having just wrapped up a lengthy Mediterranean cruise.

When they’re not cruising, Mom and Dad hook up the fifth-wheel and roam across the country. They’ve had lots of adventures, some rather amusing.

A few years ago, the folks decided to celebrate their anniversary on the road. While in Florida, they stopped to visit my cousin Andy and his partner (now husband) Greg. The guys are fabulous cooks, so in honor of my parents’ anniversary, they served a multiple-course meal complete with complementary accompanying drinks.

Now my mom — she doesn’t drink a lot. So by the time she finished swigging wine, champagne and port, she wasn’t feeling too grand.

The next day, I got a call from my dad. He was snickering.

“Guess who threw up in the flowerbed at an Exxon station last night?” he cackled.

“NO WAY!” I shrieked into the phone. “You got Mom drunk?”

“I didn’t,” Dad replied. “Your cousin did.”

“Isn’t Mom a little old to be yakking in a flowerbed?” I asked before collapsing into hysterical laughter. “I mean, that’s the kind of thing I did at frat-house keggers back in my college years.”

Tales from later trips have proved to be just as entertaining.

A few weeks ago, I received this email from Dad:

Hi girls, sons-in-law, & Grandkids

Well, we are in Kusadasi, Turkey and are getting ready to sail for Italy in just a few minutes. Yesterday we went to Ephesus and saw the ancient ruins of the old city built back before BC. It was very interesting. We saw the place where the Virgin Mary lived, and where St. John is suppost to be buried. Today we walked around Kusadasi and your mother did a little shopping.

Well, I can’t win. My sons-in-law will understand. Last night we went to the ship’s show and they had brought in local Turkey entertainers. The first act was a group of dancers doing typical Turkish dances. Being tired, I kind of dozed off and your mother complained that I wasn’t paying attention and being respectful. Then about 15 minutes later, she slapped me up the side of the head and complained that I was too attentive when the local belly dancer was doing her performance. I just can’t win.

Anyway we are having a good time but spending way too much money. Your mother will E-Mail you later. She is still up at the Spa.

Love
Dear Ole Dad

So you can imagine when I thought when I received a rather odd emailed photo from my dad. To put said photo into better perspective, here are a few of the more typical pictures I’m used to seeing when my parents travel:

Happy, smiling parents in Croatia

Happy, smiling parents in Croatia

Happy, smiling parents in Venice

Happy, smiling parents in Venice

And then I get this one:

Dad with stitches and two black eyes.

Dad with stitches and two black eyes.

At first I blamed the Turkish belly dancing incident.

But then I read Dad’s explanation:

Hi All,

Well, we are having a great time. However, we have had a bump or two along the way (See Attached Pic)

I am sending you this E-Mail so that you can get the correct scoop (Don’t listen to your mother). There are 2 different versions of how I got two black eyes and a cut on the nose. There is your mother’s version and then there is the truth.

In your mother’s version, we were late going to dinner on Wed night (due to her stopping and delaying us at the Excursions desk) and I tripped on the staircase and fell headfirst into a stair step. This is what she is telling everyone. I seem to be a bit of a conversation piece and attract a lot of stares. Then there is my version (the truth) where we were late getting ready to go to dinner and she was talking. I courteously told her ” Please hurry up”. Well, she misunderstood me and thought that I said “Please shut up”. That’s when the fight started. Being a gentleman, I would never hit a lady, but your mother had no such reservations. Anyway, I spend dinnertime in the ship’s medical facility while the doctor put around 5 stitches in my head.

The good news is that there was very little pain and I have not had any real discomfort. Also, your mother has stopped asking me to pose for any more formal portraits. I have had to keep an ice pack on it for a couple of days and it will take some time to heal. The lady singer in the Piano Bar refers to me as “handsome’. More later.

Dear Ole Dad

And now you, dear readers, understand why I so eagerly anticipate my parent’s vacation emails.

*******************

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Arkie Mama: A smaller, simpler Christmas

Our tree is smaller this year. The gifts will be fewer in number. It will be the first Christmas since Mammaw’s death. It will be my stepson’s first holiday away from home. (Ty’s at a New Jersey training facility since signing on with the U.S. Coast Guard.)

Still, I find myself even more appreciative this year of what we do have. So I’m belting out carols in the car, much to my daughter’s annoyance, and I’m enjoying the gentle glow of our little tree’s lights. I’m also trying to figure out which photo to use for this year’s Christmas card. I’m not used to seeing smiles from the E-man everyone.

OK, so the E-man appears to be baring his teeth rather than smiling, but I'll take it! (Picture of Ty drawn by Tootie.)

OK, so Tootie appears to be baring her teeth rather than smiling, but I'll take it! (Picture of Ty drawn by Tootie.)

Arkie Mama: My kid hates Santa

So much so, he’ll probably require years of therapy. 

 

2006

2006 - Take 1

 

2006

2006 - Take 2

 

2007 - after repeated takes

2007 - after repeated takes

Last year, he warily agreed to perch on Santa’s lap only after the jolly fellow bribed him with a pocketwatch embossed with a train. In that photo, which I don’t have handy, the E-man looks decidedly guarded. But at least he’s not shrieking or sobbing.

I don’t think this year will be any better, as the little man has already asked if Santa will still bring him presents even if he doesn’t sit on the old elf’s lap. The E-man also wants to know why Santa can’t just leave the presents on the doorstep, like the UPS man does.

Most parents tell their children that Santa won’t visit if they aren’t good. We, however, cannot use that particular threat as leverage, because the E-man would be perfectly fine if some elderly dude with a freakishly long beard and poor fashion sense weren’t trying to cram himself down the chimney of our snug home.

Oh, and our yearly Christmas cards? Well, here’s an example of how those used to go, back when the E-man nurtured a special sort of hatred for button-down shirts:

 

Christmas 2007 - yes, we mailed it out!

Christmas 2007 - yes, we mailed it out!

Lest you think he’s chronically displeased, I offer this photo, which finally prompted my photographer husband to ask, “Why is it that I can take happy, smiling pictures of everyone’s kids but my own?”

2008 Christmas program -- "Foiled again, Daddy!"

2008 Christmas program -- "Foiled again, Daddy!"

Arkie Mama: Free holiday cards designed by young hospital patients

Please read — this is for such a good and worthy cause. Cross-posted over at Contests.

Each year, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary sells holiday cards created by young ACH patients. The money goes directly into ACH programs that serve both the children and their families across Arkansas and neighboring states.

Next week, Little Rock Mamas will be giving away four sets of these precious cards designed by precious, little hands.

Simply leave a comment below, and we’ll draw four names. Deadline is Thursday, Dec. 3.

Below are the sets of cards and information about their creators. If you would like to contribute to ACH by buying a set, go here.

Three Trees: C.J. Fowler, 9, of Little Rock first visited ACH when he was only 8 weeks old. He was having trouble digesting food and gaining weight. After undergoing several tests in his former hometown of Jonesboro, doctors referred C.J. to ACH. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, which meant the opening from his stomach to his small intestine was very narrow. C.J. underwent surgical repair, but faced other issues. Over the years, he has been treated at ACH for asthma and hemangiomas, but he now leads a completely healthy life. Now 9, C.J. is a friendly, outgoing child who loves to sing.

3 Trees

C.J.'S Three Trees

CJ Fowler

Meet C.J.

Jolly Snowman: Julia, 8, of Little Rock, was a toddler when she fell and hit her nose on the coffee table. Her parents rushed her to the ACH emergency room. Her parents say the staff used role play and humor to make the experience less frightening for Julia. The only reminder of the incident is a very tiny scar. Julia loves animals, soccer and school.

Julia Greenfield

Meet Julia

Snowman

The Jolly Snowman

Candy Canes: Tia Napier, 15, is an ACH patient from Elkins, Arkansas.

Joy to the World: Charli Sotomora, 16, is a patient and former Star ACHiever