crumbs, family, holidays

What a crappy Christmas.

Yes, please let me explain the title of this particular post. You see, each year, the day after Thanksgiving, you won't see the WildCards out amongst the deal shoppers. But you'll see us up just about as early. Because, after a 364-day wait, it's finally here:

Christmas Decorating Day!

Boxes upon boxes and bins upon bins and even more bags are carried, shuffled, and tossed into the kitchen from the depths of dusty and dangerously high garage shelves. As we unpack the abundance of sparkly and twinkly things, we find holiday treasures from years past. The Rastafari-type ornament we bought in Jamaica–our honeymoon destination. The bright-red yarn garland made by my mom while she was in college (now in several long and short pieces). The collection of Santas–oh, so many wonderful Santas!–given to us by my generous mother-in-law. A stunning traditional Christmas quilt, given to me by prolific quilter and fantastic all-around woman, Nancy J. Martin, to commemorate my 10th year of working for her company. All Christmas heirlooms I cherish.

And then, to Brett and Jack's delight, we unearth it. The Christmas decoration that has been in our family for at least a decade. Each year we carefully unwrap it from the tissue we pack it in. Then we carry it joyfully to the place where it graces our holiday home each year.

And where does this mysterious decoration spend its holiday, you ask?

On top of the toilet tank. Tucked inside the Kleenex box.

Mister Hankey

Mister Hankey
Yes. It's Mister Hankey. The Christmas Poo.

(Thought I'd share the first photo, just as Jack had left Mister Hankey one morning on the bathroom counter. And as you can tell from this month's blog banner, when Jack isn't costuming himself, he is costuming anything that will let him.)

Jack was so excited to see Mister Hankey after one long year of waiting. He immediately shared the delights of Mister Hankey with Charlie. Then, Jack began teaching Charlie how to say Mister Hankey's proper name.

I caught one of their 18-second rehearsals in an audio file.

Mister Hankey

(If clicking on "Mister Hankey" above doesn't work for you, try right-clicking and choosing "Open link in new window.")

Jack has been very persistent with his lessons. Charlie, a willing student, has practiced a lot. I'm proud of their team effort. And Brett? Well, he says I'm the coolest mom on the block. "I'll bet no other family on the block has a stuffed piece of poo in their bathroom during Christmas." I think he's right.

Funny how family traditions are established. How they evolve and flourish. I wasn't expecting a tradition of this sort for our little family. But it's a tradition nonetheless, born unique and strange and funny. Like any other family's traditions. It's ours. I'll take it.

Although we'll pack Mister Hankey away come New Year's Day, he'll always be a part of our holidays. He's found a place in our hearts. He's found a home in our bathroom. But luckily, not in our noses. Mister Hankey smells just like any other plush toy that has been well-loved.

Thank goodness that's part of the tradition, too.

family, holidays, Jackdo

Thanksgiving preparations.

I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years now. I kinda know the ropes. But raising a vegetarian? I'm only five years in. Essentially a newbie. Which makes Jack a newbie too.

Case in point. Kindergarten. I wasn't aware of this, but the day after Halloween, kindergarteners begin a month's worth of celebrating what, for many, has become the focal point of Thanksgiving. TURKEYS. The kindergarteners get into the spirit of Thanksgiving by crafting scores of the birds. Cut-and-color turkeys. Cotton-ball turkeys. Paper-plate turkeys. Coffee-filter turkeys. Handprint turkeys. Turkeys embellished with waddles, wings, and feathers that feature all types of mixed media. Some really fantastic turkeys have come home in Jack's backpack. Surprisingly artistic, given the subject.

What also came home in Jack's backpack was a note to parents, letting them know that kindergarteners would be treated to a Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch. With kindergarten lasting only 1/2 day here, it was a very special treat indeed–Jack had never eaten school lunch before! After receiving the note, Jack and I talked in the car about the upcoming Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch:

Me: "So, a Thanksgiving lunch sounds really fun! You get to eat at school like the big kids who stay at school all day."

Jack: "So, will they make me eat turkey at the lunch?"

"No, baby, they won't make you eat anything. You get to pick and choose what you want on your plate. If you don't want something, you just tell the lunch ladies and they'll skip it."

"Okay. But mom, what does turkey look like?"

Hmm. I was stunned into a short silence. Certainly the turkeys served on Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day were not going to look like the turkeys Jack had been crafting all month long. Jack has seen a real turkey here, but that turkey was alive and running around. What to do?

Ah, yes. I knew the subscription I bought from my niece for a school fundraiser last year would come in handy some day. It's Better Homes and Gardens to the rescue!

Me: "I have a magazine at home that's all about Thanksgiving dinner. I bet they'll have a picture of turkey in it somewhere. I'll show it to you when we get home. Then you'll know exactly what it will look like at school lunch."

Jack: "Okay."

We arrive home. I get out the magazine. I find a full-page color photo and point out to Jack what turkey looks like.

Jack: "Can I tear out this page and put it in my backpack? On the day we have the Thanksgiving school lunch. Just so I remember what it looks like."

Me: Sure, honey, we can do that."

Turkey backpack

Here is a photo of the photo, all ready for Jack's backpack on
Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch day.

Jack enjoyed his Very Special Thanksgiving School Lunch on Thursday. He ate mashed potatoes, peas, bread, and a pumpkin goody. Did he need to use the photo after all? Nope. He told his kind teacher that he was a vegetarian, and she helped him along.

I'm so glad she did. Because, after taking a closer look at the photo above, I noticed the caption on the page:

"Loin of Pork."


Geez. I really have been a vegetarian for a long time.

Whatever you choose to grace your table with on Thursday, here's wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

family, holidays

One Halloween knight. And his alligator squire.

After face painting …

… and cookie making …

Knight prep
… and lots of costume prep …

… the Great Dark Knight is ready to grace the neighborhood with his tricks. For treats. (With a bright-red, handknit-by-me shield grip to boot, thank you very much.)

Charlie alligator
The knight's faithful squire, although not thrilled with his getup, got in the spirit when he realized candy was to be earned. Knock-knock. "Tik-o-teet. I wan' candee."

Hope your Halloween was filled with lots of tricks and even more treats. Of the knight and alligator variety.

family, holidays

For our Cookie Monster

Just one more Valentine's Day story. The story isn't actually about Valentine's Day at all. But the story inspired Jack and I to make these for the man of our house:


Jack was instrumental to the dough making, dough testing, dough rolling, dough testing, dough cutting, and dough testing. And cookie frosting. And frosting testing.

The story was told to me by Brett's dad, Dean. It's the gosh-darn-it cutest story I've ever heard about my husband. Goes like this:

Dean went into four-year-old Brett's room one evening for the nightly tuck-in. He noticed that little Brett, already in pajamas and under covers, was staring off into nowhere, lost in thought. Dean sat on the bed next to little Brett. He quietly asked, "Brett, what'cha thinking about?"

Little Brett said, "I'm thinkin' about cookies."

Little Brett is all grown-up now, of course. A wife. Two children. A job. A mortgage. A 401(k). A really, really high-end computer for incredibly lifelike gaming. But every night, in the middle of the night, that grown-up Brett will still steal into a dark kitchen, open the pantry door, and grab two cookies. He'll gobble them down with secret sips directly from the milk carton. (He thinks they're secret sips, anyway.)

That's our Cookie Monster. We love him so.

crafts, crumbs, holidays

Happy Balemtimes Day!

Another preschool party, another challenge–find the perfect valentine for Jack to make for his classmates. Like last year, we used lollipops as our muse.  But this year, Jack cut the hearts, dotted the dots, and stuck the stickers. (This year's project idea came from Martha Stewart Kids magazine.)

Valentine 1 

He was even moved to write a little note on the back of each valentine:

Valentine 2

So, from our family to yours, happy Valentine's Day. Jack would wish you a happy Balemtimes Day. Said it that way last year. Says it that way this year. (It's just too darn cute to correct. I'm keeping my mouth shut.)