Chris ran right upstairs last night when he heard Mallory shout, "Daddy, Daddy! I really need your help!"

When he came down a few minutes later, I asked what the problem was. He said, "Mallory was trying to teach Phoebe how to be a grown-up, and Phoebe wasn't learning right."

Perhaps Phoebe just didn't have a very qualified teacher.


Merry Christmas to Joey, too!

Scene: After the Christmas pageant.

Me: You did great, Mallory, we're proud of you!

Mallory: What was your favorite part?

Me: Hmm. I liked the "Whatcha Gonna Call That Baby?" song.

Chris: I liked that one too.

Me: But I also liked "Joy to the World."

Mallory: Joey in the world? What's that?

Me: No, joy to the world, the song you just sang.

Mallory: Oh yeah.

Me: That's one of my favorite songs.

Phoebe: A favorite song is a song that's your favorite and you like it and you sing.


Phoebe: And you dance.

Mallory, before the show, in front of our haphazardly decorated Christmas tree. Phoebe declined to be photographed.

All I was able to photograph of the event itself:

Phoebe, objecting to the camera's flash:

Now she closes her eyes before I snap every picture. Sigh.

But she's cute anyway! And so is Mallory! And their dresses match!

We're thinking Arby's:

Okay, that's it!

Recently read: The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife. Review over there. ----->


Much Going On, Little Time to Write

1. Mallory lost two teeth last week, if by "lost" you mean "yanked out by dentist when barely loose because of impending arrival of permanent teeth at odd angles". It was a bit traumatic, actually, but she probably got over it before I did. She displayed a Mallory-like misunderstanding of the Tooth Fairy that night when she said, "I need to leave something really nice in my pillow for the Tooth Fairy!" I said, "No, wait, the Tooth Fairy brings something for you." She said, "Oh...I hope it's M&M's!" I said, "Probably not. She usually brings money." She said, "Oh. Money," because she's 6 and what is money to her? But she was suitably impressed the next morning to find two dollars in her little pillow.

2. What Mallory learned about phonics last week: "When two letters go a-walking, the first one does the talking."

3. What's annoying: Needing 32 Christmas cards when the ones you like are sold in sets of 25. To those 7 people who didn't get a card this year: Merry Christmas! Maybe next year you'll move up on to the A list.

4. Also annoying: Buying a huge box of fabric softener sheets because you hate, hate, hate static cling...and finding out after one dryer cycle that the scent gives you a headache. Anyone need 299 dryer sheets?

5. Nice: When someone asks your 2-year-old what she wants from Santa and she answers with something you actually got her! That's great parenting, there. (It's a Wubbzy toy, if you're curious. What is Wubbzy? Well, since most of the people who read this blog will be there on Christmas morning, you'll find out then!)

6. Not nice: "Mallory hit me!" "Well Phoebe pushed me!" "Mallory hit me!" "But Phoebe pushed me!" "Mallory hit me!" And so on.

7. Very nice: Going to visit friends and being able to send all the kids, even Phoebe, to the basement to play. Woohoo!

8. Irritating: Second-guessing myself about our travel plans for Christmas. There are certain aspects that are less than ideal (very late arrival, sister leaving earlier than I'd thought) and I keep thinking "what if I'd just..." but the fact is, I bought the tickets that I could afford and that's just how it is. I need to let it go. Breathe in. Breathe out.

9. I haven't made any Christmas cookies this year and I probably won't at this point. And I only put about a quarter of the ornaments on the tree and I didn't get out the Santa figurines or the nativity set. I feel a bit lame about that but it's hard to make the effort on years that we travel.

10. Mallory's school Christmas program is tonight. One of her school friends has a birthday party this afternoon. What were THOSE parents thinking?

11. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to here.

12. Or, even better, The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.



Last month I joined Curves, the gym where women change their lives 30 minutes at a time (according to the website, at least)! I've always disliked exercise, but the Curves set-up I can handle. It's a series of 12 resistance machines, each working a separate group of muscles; you spend 30 seconds on each machine interspersed with a 30-second "recovery" period in which you jog in place or dance around if you're not self-conscious. Anyway, I can handle just about anything for 30 seconds, so it's not a bad workout and my goal is to make it there three times a week.

I was weighed and measured the day I joined, and then again the day before yesterday on my one-month anniversary. And I've lost 4.5 inches! It's not noticeable, because it's an inch from my waist and half an inch from each leg and a quarter inch from my biceps and so forth, but it's nice to know that it's actually having an effect. Especially since I haven't changed my eating habits at all (what's the point, until January anyway)? Mostly I'm just pleased with myself for sticking with it.


But it's okay to brag about your kids

A few nights ago I was reading Mallory a book about a trio of ballerinas. There was Shy Di, who was, well, shy. There was Dizzy Izzy, who couldn't tell her left foot from her right. Then there was Showy Zoey, who was far too proud for the other's liking.

"What's proud?" Mallory asked.

"Proud is when...you feel good about yourself because you did something really well, or when you learn how to do something really hard," I said. "And it's okay to feel proud of yourself, but it's not okay to brag."

"What's brag?"

"Brag is when you talk too much about how good you are. It's okay to say, 'I learned how to write my letters!' But it's not okay to say, 'I can write my letters better than you.'"

"Yeah, or you can say, 'I can write my letters, and so can you!'" Mallory said.

And I was filled with pride for her, for getting it, for showing that deep down, and no matter how awful she acts sometimes, she really is turning out to be good people.

In the "good to know" category -- The first bullet point on the list of instructions for Mallory's new scooter was:

This is not a toy! This is an item for fun and activity.

Recently Read has been updated. Look right!


Like Chocolate? Grab a Pen*

Best cookies ever.

Chunky Chocolate Gobs**

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c. butter-flavored shortening***
1 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 c. Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (16 cookies)
3 1.75 oz Mounds bars, chilled and chopped
1 c. semisweet chocolate morsels

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in cookies, candy bars, and chocolate morsels. Chill dough for 30 minutes.

Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls 2" apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until barely set. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: about 2.5 dozen.****

*Or, use your printer!

**With the worst name.

***I used regular shortening and I swoon to think that these would be even better with butter-flavored. I did have butter-flavored, but apparently it had been in my pantry for a loooong time, because it was rancid. Do you know how bad rancid butter-flavored shortening smells? Very bad. Also it's sticky, as in leave-a-gross-residue-on-your-finger-sticky, so don't touch it.

****Enjoy! Save some for Santa, he'll like them too.



You know you've thrown a good party when, after the last guest has left, your daughter turns to you and says, "Can we do that all over again?"

Mostly, there was a newly-6-year-old little girl having a good time, and a mom who was very proud of the way she was taking turns, and making sure her friends were having fun, and saying not just "Thank you" but "What a nice present you gave me!" There were memories of this little girl being born, of the way she was so quiet and alert and interested in everything in the delivery room, and more memories of birthdays past: A one-year-old holding up one cake-smeared finger on her first birthday; a two-year-old hugging a pink plush pig; a three-year-old in pigtails demanding a Dragon Tales cake; a four-year-old dressed up like a princess; a five-year-old shouting, "I'm FIVE!" the minute she woke up. Now she's six, and she's one-third of the way grown up, and I've loved every minute of it -- 3,153,600 minutes, to be exact, as of 7:28 p.m. December 2.

Her best present, incidentally, was her American Girl baby doll, from Grandmom and her aunts:

Phoebe likes it too, which is unfortunate, because Mallory's not sharing. Phoebe will therefore pick up another doll, regard it for a moment, then throw it down and say, "I don't like this doll! She's not pretty." I think it is a good thing after all that Santa is bringing a new doll for Phoebe...

(I will probably take most of these pictures down tomorrow because I don't know if the parents of the other girls would want them posted...so take a good look while you can!)