7 Quick Takes Friday - December 31, 2010

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Collin's brother, his wife, and their son are in town, and we're having lunch today at an Ethiopian restaurant. I've never met their son, nor have I ever had Ethiopian, and I'm looking forward to both experiences.

2. We're also utilizing one of our Christmas gifts today -- Collin & I are meeting with a lawyer to draw up our wills, courtesy of my father-in-law. A very practical gift, and something we've been meaning to do for a while now.

3. This nasty cold is still hanging on, although I do feel better than I did. The other two kids are pretty well recovered but Violet's still coughing, poor thing. I hope we can rest up this weekend and kick this bug.

4. One of my favorite Christmas gifts that we received this year was a family bible, courtesy of my mother-in-law. It's the first hardcover Bible we've ever owned; what a treasure! I absolutely love it. The illustrations are stunning.

5. The kids had a great Christmas; Elanor got everything on her list, including a Jessie doll, a Pinkalicious doll, Goldalicious, and a Rapunzel Barbie. William got a Buzz Lightyear and his own Pillow Pet. Violet got a lot of fun stuff too, including a book called Violet Goes to the Country and a My Pal Violet.

6. My only resolution this New Year is go get back on the weight loss wagon. I kind of abandoned the whole effort around the holidays, although I didn't go completely nuts.

7. We have no plans tonight; we'll probably just hang out and watch a movie. Such is life with small children. ;) Happy New Year and a blessed 2011 to everyone!

My favorite pictures from Disneyland


(incidentally, I discovered that churros make wonderful teething biscuits!)

We had a great time once the rain stopped. We were supposed to be there from December 18-22, but it rained non-stop every single one of those days. We went to Disneyland on December 19 and were pretty miserable because it was so wet and cold. We ended up deciding to stay two extra days, waited out the rain, and did our two days of Disneyland on the 23rd and 24th. We were too tired to drive home on Christmas Eve night so we didn’t get home ‘til mid-afternoon of December 25th (and my brother-in-law ended up hosting Christmas instead). So it was a longer trip than we had anticipated. But, we did have fun once the sun finally came out!

Unfortunately, the day after we came back I caught a horrible cold (maybe bronchitis, I'm not sure), and I'm still struggling with it. I took the day off of work yesterday, but I can't really afford to do that more than once (I'm out of flex time, so it's all unpaid at this point) so I dragged myself in today. I'm getting by with the help of DayQuil, but barely. I hope I can kick this thing soon!

7 Quick Takes Friday, December 17 - Best Christmas Songs Edition

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

As promised last week, here are seven (or more...) of my absolute favorite Christmas song renditions. This is by no means a comprehensive list; there are more Christmas songs that I love than I dislike, but these are definitely among my absolute favorites. I've linked to the CD itself where applicable.

1. Cantique de Noel, A Fresh Aire Christmas, Mannheim Steamroller. This is a version of "O Holy Night" that is absolutely breathtaking. I first heard it while walking across Prexy's Pasture at the University of Wyoming campus on my way to class, listening to the FM radio on my CD player. I stopped dead in my tracks and just listened. As soon as I could, I found the CD for this song and bought it. Mannheim Steamroller is a favorite group of mine, and this rendition is the best instrumental version of "O Holy Night" out there, in my opinion. (Honorable mention from the same CD: Veni Veni, a Latin rendering of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" that will send chills up and down your spine. It's gorgeous.)

2. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Carol, Tonic Sol-Fa. This CD's hard to find (I haven't checked iTunes) but this song is absolutely worth it. Don't get me wrong, the original by Boris Karloff is great, but Tonic Sol-Fa adds some fun a cappela zaniness. (Honorable mention from the same CD: Mary's Boy Child. It's upbeat and animated and doesn't sound like a funeral dirge, unlike most other versions.)

3. Auld Lang Syne, Barenaked for the Holidays, Barenaked Ladies. Hands down, best version of this song out there. Heartfelt and gorgeous. (Honorable mention from the same CD: I Have a Little Dreidel. Crazy happy song. Actually, this entire album is one of my absolute favorites; there are a lot of fun songs.)

4. I Need a Silent Night - The Christmas Collection - Amy Grant.

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

For me, this song encapsulates how I feel every Advent -- that it is so important, amid the rush and bustle, to stop and take time to meditate on the coming of our Lord. I'm ashamed to say that this year it seems our family has done more preparing for our trip to Disneyland than we have for Jesus' birthday, although we have made an effort to use an Advent calendar as a nightly ritual (and say prayers over our Advent candles every Sunday). Still, we can do better.

(Honorable mention - Amy Grant's "A Christmas to Remember" album. "Mister Santa" is a fun parody of "Mr. Sandman," and "Gabriel's Oboe" is a gorgeous instrumental song.)

5. The Hallelujah Chorus - An Inconvenient Christmas - The Oak Ridge Boys. Collin and I bought this CD off a Food for the Poor TV special during Christmas 2008, in which the Oak Ridge Boys and Mannheim Steamroller were jointly performing. The Oak Ridge Boys did this song and I was blown away. The harmonies are incredible; it's a difficult song to sing and they mastered it. (Honorable mention: the entire CD is wonderful. "Beautiful Star," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "An Inconvenient Christmas" are my other favorites, but I love the whole album.

6. Toy Packaging - O Holy Night - Sara Groves.

Nothing makes me lose my cool like
Toy packaging
Ask the kids to leave the room for
Toy packaging
I have no choice the money's spent
I've worked for hours to make a dent
I guess it's anger management
Toy packaging

It's funny because it's true. Back in my day, toys weren't nearly so difficult to get out of their boxes (and I also walked to school in a blinding snowstorm, uphill both ways, with newspaper wrapped around my feet instead of shoes...)

7. Frosty the Snowman - Sharing the Season, Volume III - Lorie Line. I adore Lorie Line. I've seen her in concert and it was a marvelous show. All of her music is terrific - I highly recommend all volumes of Sharing the Season, as well as The Silver Album (which is essentially an unplugged album of solo piano songs). This version of Frosty the Snowman quite simply ROCKS. I mean that literally. (Honorable mention from the same album: As With Gladness. Simple, classic, beautiful.)

Incidentally, Lorie Line got her start at the same place where Collin and I became engaged 10 years ago today -- the downtown Minneapolis Dayton's (which turned into Marshall Fields, which I think turned into something else...). She was hired as a temp holiday employee to serenade the customers with piano music, and she became so popular that she ended up recording an album, and eventually turned professional.)

Oh, what the hell, we're going to make this a top ten because there are three more songs I just have to mention.

8. Feliz Navidad - A Very Veggie Christmas - Larry the Cucumber. Feliz Navidad, featuring a tuba solo and a spontaneous rendition of "The Chicken Dance" midway through. What's not to like? (Honorable mention from the same album: O Santa! "I'm from the IRS, and I've come to tax your--" *slam*)

9. Silent Night - James Galway's Christmas Carol - James Galway. Granted, I'm partial to the flute because I played it all through high school, but I have to say that this rendition of Silent Night is marvelous.

10. Carol of the Bells - O Holy Night - The Hillsboro Singers. Wonderful a cappela version of this song, complete with the deep bass "BUMMMMMMMMM" at the end. Love it. I originally bought this CD out of the clearance bin at Wal-Mart just because I liked the name of the group (Hillsboro is the name of my hometown). It was a good buy.

Feel free to leave comments with your own favorites -- I'm always on the lookout for great Christmas music!

We see TRON: Legacy this afternoon (w00t!) as our little engagement-anniversary excursion, and tomorrow we leave for DISNEYLAND! So excited (even though it's supposed to rain the whole time). Happy Friday!

7 Quick Takes Friday, Dec. 10 - Worst Christmas Songs Edition

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

I love Christmas music. In fact, I adore it. I'd say about half of my iTunes library is comprised of all the Christmas music I've collected over the years. However, there are some songs (or rather, some versions of songs) that I absolutely despise. Here, in no particular order, are seven songs that I don't care if I never listen to again. I've even provided a link to the song, where possible, so you can share in the loathing.

1. Last Christmas by George Michael. I hate this song. Hate it with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I once had a co-worker who was obsessed with it and played it (out loud, in our shared office) over and over and over and over. Now, of course, the stupid song comes on the radio every time I listen.

2. So This Is Christmas/ Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John Lennon. I don't think this is a bad song, per se -- I like its message -- but it is so overplayed. Like #1, it's on the radio constantly. I also find it somewhat puzzling that Lennon likes to imagine there's no religion, but sings a song about Christmas. Um, John... Christmas started because of religion. It's Christ's Mass.

3. Snow, from White Christmas. White Christmas is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I can't say I care for this song. Who the hell wants to wash their hands, face and hair with snow?? Brrrrrrrrrrrr!

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas - the Sinatra family. This is an annoying song in the best of circumstances, but this version? *shudder*

5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause - Jackson 5. I've always found this song rather creepy, and Michael Jackson even more so. Hahaha, I think Mommy's cheating on Daddy with Santa! How funny! Um, not. This song is another they play eighty times a day on the radio.

6. Santa Baby - any version. I don't like this song because it's about crass materialism -- pretty much the opposite of what Christmas should represent. And the whole Sexy Santa vibe is off-putting.

7. Are My Ears on Straight/I'm a Little Doll Who Was Dropped and Broken - Gayla Peevey. Hi! I'm a doll! My bratty little owner dropped me and I broke into a million pieces! And now I'm scared she'll throw me away if I haven't been fixed to her satisfaction! Some day Chucky and I are going to get married and then I'll get my sweet revenge! (Okay, that last part isn't in the song, but it might as well be.)

So, there you have it. Next week I'll list seven of my favorite Christmas song versions.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader this weekend! Woohoo!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: At Mass last night, William pointed to Mary (we have a statue of Our Lady of the Eucharist in the sanctuary) and said, “Look, Mommy, that’s you!”


The Bad: The kids would not sit still. By the end of the evening I was utterly exhausted, and I barely heard a word of Father Hans’ homily because I was too busy trying to get my obnoxious children to sit quietly so they weren’t disturbing others. I’m so glad I have Collin’s help kid-wrangling during Sunday Mass. (He had taken them to the 7am Mass, as it was the only time that accommodated his work schedule.)


The Ugly: William had a bottle of flavored water left over from supper (which we had in the church hall with the RE group before Mass), and right before the distribution of the Eucharist, he spilled it all over the floor. (I think Elanor was trying to take it from him at the time.) I could have died from embarrassment, and unfortunately I swore (under my breath, thank goodness, but still). A kind lady a few pews over ran to the bathroom, grabbed some paper towels, and helped me wipe it up. I missed receiving the Eucharist, but that’s probably a good thing as the swearing means I need to make it to Reconciliation soon.

My birth stories

My oldest, Elanor, minutes after birth

I've posted all six of my birth stories to my blog, and I'm consolidating all the links into one post for easier reference.

All six kids were born in a hospital, and all were natural births (vaginal and unmedicated). The last four (Violet, Gabriel, Peter, and Laura) were doula-assisted. Elanor, Violet, and Gabriel were caught by obstetricians, William and Laura were caught by CNMs (certified nurse-midwives), and Peter was caught by a nurse because the CNM didn't make it in time.

The birth of Elanor Mary

The birth of William Joseph

The birth of Violet Elizabeth

The birth of Gabriel Keith

The birth of Peter David

The birth of Laura Rose

Might I suggest Prozac?

I'm having a conversation about abortion, via Facebook messaging, with a pro-choice person who responded to some comments I made on Facebook. Her latest response amused me so much that I just had to share:

Whatever man i don't have any more time to dedicate to some crazy liberal person who wants to tell me what i should do with my body. You probably go knocking on doors telling people what they should do with their minds too. Ha communist swine! I DEFLECT THEE!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, then, I guess our conversation is over.

7 Quick Takes Friday - Dec 3

Thanks to Jen for hosting.

1. Oh my, Advent already. This year has just flown by. I'm trying something a little different with our Advent candles this year:

When Collin saw it, his only comment was, "That's not a wreath." Ouch. Thanks, honey.

I actually did try to find some pine garland to wrap around it but, despite a search of our local Michael's, I didn't find anything really useful. So I went with the poinsettias instead. They have a religious meaning, too. Right now I have them on a placemat that Elanor made at school, but I plan to buy a table runner as soon as I find one I like.

2. Speaking of table runners, I'm having a difficult time finding one that will fit our table. Collin (Mr. OCD himself) is adamant that the table runner has to hang over both edges of the table. However, our table, when the leaf is in it, is 78" long. Collin doesn't want to take the leaf out, and as the vast majority of table runners are 72" long, they're too short. I've looked at multiple stores and the only 90" table runners I saw were rather ugly (and 104" ones are too long). I'm going to try Bed, Bath, and Beyond and maybe Ross this weekend.

3. Our Thanksgiving was lovely. I tried to get a pic of all the kids, but it didn't work out so well. This was the best of the lot:

I love Violet's outfit. I got it for $6 at Once Upon a Child - shirt, pants, bib, and socks. So cute! And the message on her bib is oh so true:

4. My team took a group photo at work for anyone who has been insanely curious about the people with whom I spend 40 hours per week:

The wearing black with sunglasses shtick was actually my idea.

5. We saw "Tangled" on Black Friday, and we loved it! Elanor was already asking for a Rapunzel dress five minutes after we left the theater. I liked how the movie gave a good reason for Rapunzel's hair being as long as it was -- in the usual fairy-tale versions, there is no real reason for her hair being so long.

6. We also saw "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" last weekend. I thought it was the best of the series, so far. I'm eagerly awaiting part 2!

7. Next up on the movie horizon: "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (opens December 10) and "TRON: Legacy" (opens December 17). I'm fervently hoping that they both do well, especially Dawn Treader. I want more Narnia movies! Plus, Dawn Treader is my favorite book, so if the movie is a poor adaptation then I'm going to be terribly disappointed. Collin is terribly excited for TRON, so for his sake I hope it's everything he dreams it will be.

Happy Friday!

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