Christmas Vacation - The Outtakes and Other (Less Silly) Things

Thanks to my holiday freedom this year and not having to "worry" about how many vacation days I would have to spend on Christmas break (and thanks to Sam's sweet leave balances after 4+ years as a government employee), we chose to spend a longer than usual amount of time at my parents' house in Maryland (somewhat unbeknownst to them - "Surprise!  We're here for an entire week!").

We have made the trip up and back down the lengthy and oh-so-boring Interstate 95 dozens of times in our seven years of marriage and several times during my two years of college prior to that.  It has run the gambit from painfully uneventful to regrettably exciting.

At Christmastime it always seems to carry an extra air of excitement.  Of course.  It's Christmastime.

The events that I am about to describe don't necessarily have anything to do with Maryland, or the trip up here, or even Christmas - but now you know the setting.  And here is a random collection of some of the more hilarious, more random, sometimes sweet things that have happened thus far on the days leading up to and during our week-long adventure.

In the form of a quiz instead of a list - just to shake things up a bit.

Question:  When handed a bookbag and instructed to pack some toys to help entertain her for the 12-hour drive to Grandmom and Grandpop's house, what does Abby pack?

Answer:  4 pairs of socks, a glue stick, half a dozen 1x1 mega blocks pieces, a pencil, and 3 fairies of various sizes.  Just a little more evidence as to the randomness of Abby.  As if you didn't already know.  By the way, Abby has absolutely no need for a glue stick on a 12-hour drive.  Especially without the inclusion of necessary paper.  Dangerous.  At least her feet would be warm.  Really warm.

Question:  "Why can't I bring my globe?" (Of course, posed by Ben.)

Answer:  Because the van is full enough with just clothes and personal items for our family of five on a non-Christmas trip that when you add in the Christmas presents (hidden ever so sophisticatedly in black trash bags), you're lucky you can still get to your seat, let alone sit in it.  It probably goes without saying we don't have room for a globe.  Plus, when you pose the question during the trip, "Where is it 6 o'clock when it's 5 o'clock here?"  I can pick at you by saying, "If you'd have brought your globe, I could tell you.  Geez, Ben.  Why didn't you pack it?"

Question:  Which of my three children chose to stay awake for all but three hours of our overnight drive?

Answer:  The toddler.  It wasn't bad, per se.  She contentedly sat in her seat, occasionally talking to herself, looking out the window, not even begging so much as a toy.  It was, perhaps, one of the cutest, sweetest things I'd seen in a while - but - it would have been better if she'd have just gone to sleep and stayed that way.

Question:  "Why is there snot on your knee, Abby?"

Answer:  "I bless you'd too hard."

Question:  What is Sarah's favorite Christmas song?

Answer:  Angels We Have Heard on High  We know this because during the Christmas Eve service, immediately following the singing of this song, during the period of silence when everyone is taking their seats, Sarah clapped and shouted "Yay!!!" at the top of her lungs.  According to Sam (who had the privilege of wrestling with holding her for the duration), she did this after every song, but after this particular one she kept going with the "yay"-ing.  In summary, she really likes Christmas carols.

Question:  Who always gets neglected on Christmas?

Answer:  Thanks to Ben's homemade gift for Santa - no one.  Ben painstakingly drew and colored a picture for the jolly, old elf so that "everyone in the world would get a present on Christmas - even Santa."

Question:  Saddest but sweetest thing I've ever seen on Christmas Eve?

Answer:  My seven year old sobbing out of fear Santa was going to skip our house because the four year old sister he was sharing a pull-out sofa with wouldn't stop talking and go to sleep.  I have to say, this was tough.  It was horrible because he was upset.  It was ridiculous because Abby wouldn't settle down.  And it was awesome because he still so wholeheartedly believes in Santa.

Question:  "What was your favorite Christmas present?"


"My Rosetta tattoo" ~Abby
"Propel" ~Ben

*chomp, chomp, snort* (aka Christmas Little Debbies) ~Sarah

In summary, these favorite gifts cost no more than $3.50 total.  I love my easy-to-please kids.

Question:  "Are these hineys?" 

Answer:  "No, Abby, those would be hippo heads."  (But seriously, that's hilarious.)  I had no idea that assembling and playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos would end up being so riotously funny, but I quickly realized such - from the bag of hiney-resembling hippo heads to the enthusiasm with which my toddler raced for those marbles (and didn't even try to eat them!) to the luck of the draw when the person on the downhill side of the floor won every.single.time.  

Question:  What happens when Sam very fake-ly yells, "Ahhh!!!  Black ice!!!" and feigns not being able to stop the van?

Answer:  Apparently, my mom believes him, starts pressing the imaginary brake pedal over there in the passenger seat, and is convinced that a female voice actually yelled "Ahhh!!!  Black ice!" from the back of the van.  Luckily there was no black ice.  That Sam is just a trickster.  And apparently, he does a very convincing Jennie impression.

Question:  What does Grandmom do when the stores at which you're shopping for after-Christmas bargains don't have a public restroom?

Answer:  She takes the seven year old outside to relieve himself on the side of the building.  She says it was an emergency.  Merry Christmas to you, DJ Liquidators.  (We're sorry!)  Though, I maintain this was probably not the first time nor will it be the last time someone pees on the old Kmart building.

Next up...Signs from the Season that we're doing an okay job raising these kids of ours...

...if I don't see something shiny that distracts me and takes me off in a completely different direction before then.

Hope you've all been enjoying the family togetherness, rejoicing over Jesus's birthday, and staying safe.  Until next time...


We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Since I was not able to send a Christmas card to all of you precious blog-readers (and real-life friends), I'm going the easy route and posting a cyber-version here for you.

First, the newsletter (if you click it, it'll get larger)-

Next, the picture -

I am sure you have all been as caught up in the Christmas bustle as I have, so I'm certain that you have most likely not noticed my absence from blogdom.  If you have, thanks.  I appreciate that.

If you haven't, I still wish you a Merry Christmas anyway.  (Ha!)

May you all have a blessed day tomorrow and remember the reason for this most wonderful of holidays.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. ~Luke 2:8-12


So I'm a day late with the mom things.  Truly, is anyone surprised?  I cannot get it together these days.  Some day I'll be superwoman again.  It's not looking good for this December though. (www.sadtrombone.com?)

In the midst of my present funk, however, I can rely on my three little munchkins to make me smile.  Even through tears this morning - after a colossal waste of time at the library (which apparently didn't open until 1pm today and didn't feel the need to put up a sign indicating so to their patrons) and Walmart (who wouldn't let me pick up the site-to-store merchandise my husband ordered because he didn't list me as a verified pick-up person, despite the fact that I had the barcode in hand and my name was on the email) - those two little girls got me giggling. 

I am eternally grateful to those three little kidlings...for keeping me smiling.

And now, here are the [day-late] Mom Things:

After manufacturing stress for yourself, your four year old asks you why you're crying, so you take the easy way out and say you got pepper in your eyes.  Apparently, the fact that pepper in your eyes is painful is lost on her, and she replies, "Mommy, it's only pepper."

You reward your four year old's stellar behavior on the morning errands by letting her have two things for dessert - a cookie and a lollipop.  Not surprisingly, she chooses to enjoy both at the very same time.

Your other daughter, however, prefers to indulge on another packet of ketchup for dessert.

You didn't realize until birthing your own monkey-like children that when people use the expression "My kids are climbing the walls" that they could mean that literally.

The only evidence left behind by the kids at your Sunday School Christmas Party (thanks to their cleaning-up moms) was a pair of chalky handprints on the back porch door.  And you don't mind a bit.  Just look how cute:

Since being laid off, you can't think of a single day that didn't start and end in pajama pants (see above photo for confirmation).

You're so happy to see your girls playing so well together that you try not to think about the dangers of the fearless four year old controlling the duo-spinning on the hard kitchen tile.

You don't get many pictures of your school-going seven year old relative to the girls these days, but not surprisingly the ones that you get are of him reading a book.

You hadn't heard from your two oldest in a while so you went to check on them only to find them sneaking in a movie on the TV-on-a-cart that they'd rolled into the four year old's room.  You couldn't really stop them...just because it was so sweet.

Your toddler is not so much interested in wearing the dress-up clothes but she does enjoy taking them out of the trunk (and luckily enjoys putting them back in too).

****Have a Blessed Wednesday Thursday!****


I'm a regular joiner.

Those of you who've been around for a while might remember a list update (way too long ago) in which I mentioned that I may or may not be a part of a committee at Ben's school. Each year at the beginning of the school year, the PTO sends home a survey of sorts that gives parents the opportunity to sign up for various committees as the desire strikes.

Every year, I check "Teacher Appreciation" because if I know nothing else in this life, I know how to appreciate people and things. Teaching ranks right up there as one of life's most appreciable vocations. And I never balk at the opportunity to let teachers, especially the ones educating my own kids, know that I feel that way.

Every year I get emails requesting help for Teacher Appreciation functions, but I've never really known if I was an official member of the committee or if they just send that email out to every parent whose email address is available to the PTO.

I am happy to report that, thanks to an email from the committee chairman, I now have the answer.


So with that, I have officially joined a committee at Ben's school.  (Nice to know all of those crockpots full of chili and countless cookies weren't made in vain!  Kidding, of course.)

#2 ~ Join a committee at Ben's school [though I now realize I could have checked you months ago], consider yourself checked!

Maybe in my unemployment phase, I can check a few more of those jokers off The List.


Because a list, I can probably handle...

I am absolutely terrible at change. It is perhaps my greatest fear in life. I am not just loyal to a fault, I'm comfortable to a fault. Even if things are not as good as they could be, if it's my routine, that's what I do. Because I am the biggest creature of habit in the entire world.

So when things change, I'm a bit like a poor lost child in any gigantic department store of your choice. I wander around aimlessly, often teary-eyed, casually at first and then more and more frantically.  Needless to say, unemployment has rocked my world. (This seems like an appropriate time to mention that the term "funemployment" is not just a non-reality for me, but it's a mystery to me as to how someone could enjoy it.)

I should mention that my time with my girls has been priceless thus far.  They've been a joy and have been a great bright spot for me.  I can't deny that.

But - it's just not what I'm used to.  Not yet, at least.

My husband, who is my best friend as well as a tremendous employee with many, many networking opportunities, landed me a meeting with a VP of a company this afternoon.  After just nine days of unemployment, my husband has come to the rescue.  I don't know what the position is about, what they are expecting, or anything.  I don't know what will come of it, if anything.  But the prospect of having an interview, and so quickly, has brightened my outlook.

Of course, you know how my mind works...and if you don't, let's just say it's a little scary in there.  With each new opportunity comes a fresh series of things for me to worry about.  Like how to actually interview.  What to wear to the interview.  How to do my hair (because, really, I don't do that).  What time to show up.  Dealing with either a job offer or a rejection.  Feeling guilty because Sam has to miss work for me to do these things.  Knowing that my interviewer knows Sam and how awesome he is and expects the same from me.  (Not too many people can live up to those standards - I assure you.  He's awesome!)

See what I mean?  Crazy, I tell you.

So - let's be optimistic and say that they offer me a job.  I can safely assume it will not be like my previous job.  Here are my list of fears about a potential new workplace:

~Not being able to wear jeans every day.
~Having to spend money on a new, more-professional wardrobe.
~Having to physically shop and try on clothes to beef up said wardrobe.

~Not being able to listen to music while I work.
~Not being able to speak candidly about political and religious topics.
~Inflexible hours.
~The potential to have to bring work home.
~A farther commute.
~Starting the job and realizing I'm way under-qualified.
~New coworkers with a whole host of fears related to them alone.

And of course, the advice I would give to myself would, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."

And then I have to force myself to hear the words.  And believe them.  And rely on a peace that I cannot provide myself. 

Now here I am begging some more prayers off of you.  Mostly for that peace and a calming of my nerves.  And a little dose of confidence would be nice too...but I don't want to be greedy!  The meeting is a 2pm EST today.  Thanks, guys.  I mean it.



Thank you all for bearing with me during my transition to stay-at-home-momdom. It's rare for me to take a week-long blog break. For the past week I've felt like my entire brain has taken a break. Maybe it has. And not because of the new "gig", mostly just because I'm trying to convince my brain what my heart already knows - that I can do this.  I promise not to disappear from the blog world.  And as I get my groove back and leave the funk buried in the leather shoes in the back of my closet that I should have worn socks with, I'll get back to posting all those "Deep Thoughts By Jennie Sheppard".  You know you miss them.

But I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't get my "Mom Things" on.

It only took three tries to get one, but you finally have a child that can actually leave the room and return with their drink when you instruct them to get their cup.  Perhaps your toddler can teach the older siblings a thing or two.

After instructing your girls to tear up a few stale hot dog buns for the birds, your youngest returns with a face full of bread crumbs.  And she'd just finished lunch.  I guess she likes stale hot dog buns for dessert?

Your four year old randomly pauses and poses in contorted positions and asks the first person to walk by, "Is this awesome?"  And you laugh.  Every single time.

Your kids have an unconscionable number of toys in their bedrooms and in their playroom, but their favorite place to play remains under the kitchen table amid the crumbs left over from the previous meal.

Your animal-loving toddler barks at anything and everything with fur, and you find yourself regularly explaining to her that cats, wolves, and polar bears are not dogs.

At any given time there are a handful of elementary-aged boys tackling each other in your backyard and it doesn't phase you in the slightest.  After all, anything goes when you're playing Cops & Robbers, right?

You wish that actual naptime was even half as fun as pretending to take a nap.

All that time you put into making those tiny envelopes for this year's Advent calendar was justified by how excited your seven year old is each morning to see what activity is in store for the day.

Since being laid off your four year old wakes up every morning and excitedly asks, "Do I get to stay home again today?!"  And you'd have to be dead for that not to pull on your heartstrings.

You can confidently say that someday one of your older children will be able to say, "My little sister ate my homework.  And also, she might be half goat."

Have a fabulous week, "y'all"!  I'll be back again soon...

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