Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It really is. You just have to stay on pace and keep your sanity, so that you can enjoy it. Which is no less than one of the year's biggest challenges, every year.

It does help if you have a fabulous family. By rights, I should be absolutely bonkers right now. We've had company staying with us more days than not in December, and have had my brother's wedding, my sister-in-law's graduation, and the Sugg family Christmas to entertain us. But because all of the extended family are unusually precious, it has all been a joy. And I realize that's a lot of sentiment to share, but if I can't do it now, when can I?

So, for those of you still out there, here's what we've been doing.

First, we celebrated as these two got married. After all, if you tuck your jeans into your boots, even as a joke, you're lucky to find someone as awesome as Lyndi.

They got married at this church.

And these two were among the solemn witnesses.

Then, we celebrated as this one graduated from the U of M. We're proud of you, Wiff.

We also enjoyed the company of ALL of those who came to celebrate said graduation. But Kayle is usually first on the list of adored Lareaus.

Then it was time for the school Christmas program...always a joy, and usually one of the hardest laughs of the year as well. Since I'm feeling sentimental, I'm going to share the video that took place before she started stretching her dress over her chin and wearing her reindeer antlers over her eyes. I'll entertain you with that during the dismal weeks of February, or somethin'.

Here's a picture from that day that I like to call Crazy Southern Girls.

Later that evening, the precious Huddlestons came by to visit. Rest assured, the craziness continued.

And then it was time for Sugg Christmas.

First we read the Christmas story. We'll assume that Mer's look of barely subdued glee has as much to do with the story of Jesus as it does to do with the presents. But she's only 3.

The grownups will teach the little ones how to share, as Chris and Matthew received a router. They're working out a visiting rights schedule. And, yes, that's Matthew's happy face. And Chris' manly face.

Lyndi (Ninny) performed her auntly duties by removing the Cabbage Patch from it's wrapping. It took about an hour and a half to get through 3 layers of cardboard, 20 plastic straps, and 72 twist ties. I am so glad it wasn't me.

And now....Now we're fixin' to relax for 36 hours before Round Two. See you soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Caroling with Three Year Olds

First they have to argue over the lone instrument and then they try to spread some Christmas joy. At an appropriate volume. Oy. That big silver bell is going to be hidden away as soon as I finish this post.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Trimming the Tree

When we first started the tree trimming process, Meredith felt that the tree should be a surprise. She kept hiding in the closet, or covering her eyes. After about 20 minutes, we were finally able to convince her that it was going to be awhile, and she might want to participate in the process.

The boys needed a little coaxing to participate this year, and I don't think they ever did stop texting, but they got into it eventually.

Meredith served the traditional Christmas cupcakes. She had already had a considerable amount of strawberry punch. And then there was ice cream. Way way WAY too much sugar.

She was more than a little anxious about this task, but she pulled it off.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 01, 2008


It was a peaceful and warm Thanksgiving in AR. I took a random assortment of pictures. Here goes.

Mer made herself several pretend meals, and prayed before every one. She loves having unlimited access to Keddi's drawer of paper table settings.

Our family does party crackers at every possible occasion. You pull the ends, they make a popping sound, and out flies a tiny prize, a paper hat, and a little piece of paper with a really bad joke on it. This activity ensures that we look very sophisticated for the remainder of the meal.

Meredith painted ornaments. Uncle Mamoo is not one to miss such fun.

This holiday will be remembered by many as the year that Chris finished The Conspiracy of Fools - the story of the Enron debacle. It was about, oh, a million pages, and apparently it was incredibly compelling.

Here's Meredith and Mamoo at the appetizer table. Mamoo has cast his eyes heavenward in hopes of retrieving the meatball that he threw about 20 feet into the air. Meredith enjoyed her apps with a bit more sophistication.

This is what you get when you cross a 30-year elementary school teacher with a mom that wakes up at 4 in the morning...a carefully printed list of Thanksgiving assignments.

Mer missed the big Thanksgiving meal -- just crashed and didn't wake up til it was all over. But she woke up ready to go. Below, she's being a monster.

Happy with the pumpkin.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Frog and the the Toad

Meredith got to see The Frog and the Toad at the Orpheum sometime last year. All of a sudden the other day she started asking (with great desperation) to see it again, and it just happened that there was a production at The Circuit just down the road. So today Daddy and Mer set off for the little theater. Mer got a very short nap, thus the hesitant smile and the goofy as ever Dad.

And while they were gone, I took one more picture of the orange Mexican sunflowers and the orange leaves, 'cause it's going to freeze tonight and then the flowers will be gone, gone, gone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What We Do after the Time Changes

It's tough. The rainy, cold weather makes it hard to fit in outside time, and then the time change pretty much nixes it completely. Oh sure, sometimes you could squeeze in a walk before naptime, or maybe around 4...But when do you NEED a walk? At about 5:30. That last half hour before dinner is ready and daddy is home. And then you're trapped. So, no, we're not big fans of the time change, but we do what we can.

You can play on the porch until the rain starts going sideways.

You can watch ballet videos (thanks, Marme!) and perform your own rendition of Swan Lake.

And if it's really cold, and you're really desperate, you can always cut Daddy's hair for entertainment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hope and Change on a Small Scale

The nation is all excited about hope and change these days. So am I, but today it's on a slightly smaller scale. You may remember a few months ago I railed about the possibility that ChickFilA was going to tear down a beautiful building on Union to build a new restaurant. In the scheme of things, this was less important than, say, global warming or the AIDS epidemic, but it seemed like a little thing in which the community could do the right thing. So the Memphis Heritage group did the heavy lifting and a few of the rest of us made some pesky phone calls and sent some persuasive emails to the Corporate Office of Chikin. And guess what? It worked. The whole building won't be saved, but they're incorporating elements into their design. Rather than losing another great element of Midtown Memphis, we're gaining decent fast food AND good design. There are a few more details here. We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Put Another Dime in the Juice Box, Baby

We go to the Young Avenue Deli frequently. It's not a Deli at all. It's a restaurant/bar/music venue/pool hall. Yes, I know, you're thinking "how dare you take a 3 year old there?" The thing is, between the hours of 5 and 8, the place is like a kindergarten. It's full of kids--and folks of all ages. And it's kid friendly cause the music is loud-ish, so no one expects the kids to be quiet. Or still. See? You'd take your kid there too.

So Mer's favorite thing about the Deli is the "juice box"--known in some circles as a juke box. It's a fancy touch screen one that lets her do all kinds of fancy things without inserting a dime (or a dollar, as the case is these days). She could do it for hours. We're hoping she'll move on to the foosball table when she's tall for the whole family.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween in the Dark and Spooky Forest and a Long, Long Run

This weekend one ballerina, one race car driver, and all involved parents went to Wynne, AR, for Halloween, a marathon, and cabin camping. How could we not have fun? A good time was had by all, with the possible exception of parts of the marathon for the running daddies and the ice baths that followed. Although it must be said that listening to the screams coming from the ice baths was fun for the rest of us, so balance was restored.

We carbo loaded at the marathon's Italian dinner before heading out to trick or treat. Boring picture follows, but since it was Mer's first real trick or treating excursion, I'm documenting.

On Saturday morning we saw the crazy people, I mean daddies, off from the start line and then went a pancake breakfast. Aren't they sweet in their matching shirts?

The kids did a pretty good job of cheering. At least at the first cheer stop. As you might imagine, cheering at a marathon is kind of endless, so they hung in as long as they could.

The kids were excited to see Chris come around the bend, who was doing really well 16 miles into the course. I means seriously honey, if you've got the energy to wave, are you really leaving it all out there? Here they're cheering for Josh, the speed demon on the left.

The race finishes on the high school track. Mer looks anxiously over her shoulder to see if daddy is going to make it in time.

And he did. He made it in good time, though he would probably say differently.

And then we ate some Mexican food and headed back to the park for the aforementioned ice baths, naps, and some hiking. Village Creek State Park is an unusually great park - and only about 45 minutes from Memphis. The leaves were changing, and while we can't claim much New England glory for the South, it was pretty.

The kids "fished" with big sticks. Well, at this point, obviously Walt was done fishing.

Sunday morning saw one final hike, during much of which the daddies ran ahead, hid behind trees, and jumped out to scare the kids who were hunting "Gruffaloes." We were just proud the daddies could still run and jump.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Cookies

Before bath, she rolled out the cookies and cut them. They baked while she was in the bath, and then we frosted. Within 10 seconds of beginning the process, she had licked her frosting knife AND taken a bite of the cookie that she was frosting. We had a little talk about self-control, and then ate all the broken cookies.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stuff That Makes Us Happy

...when Mer insists on naming the letters on the water meter covers...hey, it's not like we're walking for the exercise. Seriously.

...when Mer asks us how our days were. Sitting at the dinner table, after prayer: "Daddy, how was your work today?" Or in the car, after school: "Mommy, how was your day?" And she actually seems to care. The other day I answered, "Not so great." She wanted to know why it wasn't a good day. Don't worry, I gave her the edited version.

...when Mer uses her "blazmazzer." This is a sort of machine that has been around for quite awhile. It makes occasional appearances when a special tool is needed -- say, to make a monster go away, or repair a broken truck, or plant some flowers. Very useful.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall in Arkansas

Last weekend we went to Arkansas. It was lovely, as usual. Much warmer than it should have been, but lovely. There was a fall festival in town, and it started with a 5k.

Here, Chris runs down Peppersauce Alley. Guess what they used to make and sell in Peppersauce Alley, back in the day? That's right, Contraband. You'll notice that no one is around Chris. That's cause he kicked butt. Except for the one butt of the guy that won. There went our gas money.

Leaving Peppersauce Alley, you cross a fairly old bridge that gives you a view of a really old bridge.

Following the race, the Lareau portion of the Sugg clan went up to Main Street in search of biscuits and gravy and received a bountiful reward for our efforts. We even got strawberry freezer jam to go with the biscuits. And word on the street is that Mrs. Clinkingbeard doesn't give that jam to just ANYone.

After the biscuits and gravy, festivities ensued. Mer got her face painted with glittery pink stuff and then zapped us repeatedly with her lavender spider ring. We all acted appropriately frightened.

Here, Meredith observes the very scientific method that the Calico Rock tweens use to make sure none of the ducks drop out of the duck race. This was fairly hilarious to observe. Thank goodness it WAS a warm day.

Happy girl with Papa.

We took a long walk Sunday morning, and got to observe a real live pumpkin in its natural habitat. My mom and I probably planted a total of 396 pumpkin seeds this year, and below you see the lone product of our efforts. But it IS a beauty.

And a little bit of local color for you. They don't really mean it. I know this because zillions of Chicagoans are retiring to the area, and war hasn't broken out yet.