Monday, December 31, 2012

Things That Kept Me From Doing Laundry Or A List Of Books I Read This Year

Why hello there! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Lots of other things that require exclamation points!

It seems I haven't written since before Christmas.'s like someone forgot she has a blog. Or perhaps it's like someone was busy with shopping and wrapping and cleaning and cooking and entertaining and laundry and eating and sledding and shoveling and laying about watching bad television. It's one of those things, anyway.

But before this year ends, I thought that I might share with you one of the other things that has kept me busy: reading. I have certainly done some reading this year, my friends. In fact, I'm quite certain that my reading has caused me, on more than one occasion, to neglect certain of my duties (hello laundry, I'm looking at you!) and possibly even caused me to hide from my children.

And so, because, as I have often stated here, I am a giver and I love nothing more than gushing over my new favorite book with a fellow book lover, I am sharing with you a list (some with commentary) of the books that I have read this year.

A Game of Thrones (book1)
A Clash of Kings (book 2)
A Storm of Swords (book 3)
A Feast for Crows (book 4)
A Dance with Dragons (book 5)
All by George R.R. Martin

Yes, I read them all last January. There are so many characters in this series, that I was afraid that if I tried to come back to them after an absence, I would forget the many characters and plot lines. This series is not for everyone. It's fantasy and sometimes quite, um, earthy. I understand that these books are now a series on HBO, but we don't have HBO and quite frankly, I'm not all that interested in watching it. I don't know if book 6 is out yet, and I'm not sure I'll be able to read it when it is. See: concerns regarding characters and plot lines after an absence.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
     This is technically a young adult book, but I have to say that I enjoyed it very much and appreciate Mr. Green's writing. While I read this book back in February, it has stuck with me all year. I will be encouraging my two older children (they are 16 and 14) to read it.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
     After all the heavy books I read this month, this book was a welcome change. I laughed out loud several times by the situations the main character in this book found himself in and the dialogue as well. It was fast paced and funny and made me want to read more by this author.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
     I'm sorry to say that as many tries as I gave this book, coming back to it again and again, I just could not finish this book. As well received as it was by critics, I just couldn't fight my way through.

Plan B by Jonathan Tropper

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
    It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I was glad I stuck with it. I enjoyed this book--even though the subject matter (It's the story of 5 women on Masada. And we know how things ended on Masada.) was tough. Ms. Hoffman's writing is lovely.

Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott
     Ms. Lamott could write laundry soap instructions and I would enjoy reading them.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed
     I found this book by turns funny and agonizing. It kept me reading and it made me want to walk the Pacific Coast Trail, much the way Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods made me want to take on the Appalachian Trail.

The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
     Mr. Weiner's quest for the happiest place on earth was a joy to read and made me happy that I didn't have to travel but could enjoy his discoveries from the comfort of my own couch.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
     A fictionalized biography about Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the court of Henry VIII of England. I'm a bit of a sucker regarding books about ol' Henry and this book didn't disappoint. It was an exceptional book and won several awards. I haven't yet read its sequel Bring up the Bodies, but it is on my list.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
     If you have not yet read this tricky, twisty, twisted thriller, I'm betting you know someone who has. Enjoyment may be the wrong word for how I felt when I read this book, but if enjoying it was wrong, I don't want to be right.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
     Steve Jobs was a strange cat. Brilliant. Egotistical. Visionary. And strange. (But golly, do I love my Mac and iphone. Yes, I worship at the altar of Apple.)

Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
     Ms. Lawson is crude. Ms. Lawson uses bad language. Ms. Lawson writes about taxidermied animals and social anxiety and working in human resources. Ms. Lawson is terribly, terribly funny.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
     It's a post-apocalyptic story about a man, his dog, and his plane. And it's very, very good. (Okay, maybe it's about a little more than I said. But still, trust me: very, very good.)

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
    I just couldn't seem to get enough of Ms. Flynn's writing.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
     This book has been out since the early '90s. Not sure how I missed it back then, but I'm glad I read it. And no, I haven't seen the movie.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
     This book caught me right away and kept me right to the end. Where I shed great big tears.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
    In the Victorian era, people assigned meanings to different flowers and then communicated their feelings to each other through them. This novel follows a young woman leaving the foster care system who speaks the language of flowers better than she speaks her own feelings. I found myself frustrated with the main character and her flaws, but never frustrated with the book.  Loved this book and wish that people still communicated through flowers. I would send some to my neighbors. Heh heh heh.

Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
    Never been a fan of Mr. O' Reilly and was glad that I had this book on my Kindle, so that I didn't have to publicly show that I own a book with his name on it, but still enjoyed the book.

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
     Funny and enlightening.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
     Funny and enlightening but from a female perspective. If you've ever wanted to shake a fist at the Proverbs 31 woman, your perspective will change after you've read this book. And you will want to congratulate the women of valor in your own life. Eshet chayil!

Sutton by J.R. Moehringer
     A novel based on the life of bank robber Willie Sutton. I look forward to reading more by Mr. Moehringer.

I'm certain that I read stuff this month. I mean, stuff that wasn't recipes or Christmas lists, but it wasn't in book form. I was too busy. Well, until now. I'm getting in just under the wire here with starting to read Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott and One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.

I've just started Ms. Lamott's book and Ms. Voskamp's I've been into a little more, but have to keep putting it down to digest it and let it fully wash over me.

Okay, friends. There you have it. A rather long list of the books that have kept me from doing my laundry. Now I'm looking forward to 2013. And guess what? I'm looking for some books to read. Any suggestions?

Thanks for stopping by here at Que Sara Sara this year! May you and yours have a blessed and peaceful 2013!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Time

It's time.

Time for decorating a gingerbread girl for the second grade hallway. (Each second grader received a gingerbread cutout to personalize. Mary called hers "Holiday Glam".)

Time for Electric Bethlehem. (As ever, our house is the least decorated on the block. But I'm okay with that.)

Time for family rooms to be finished. (I think the paint color may work out okay after all, now that the new curtains are up.)

Time for Gingerbread House Wars. (It started out with the store bought kit, but Maggie's beau wanted to be able to eat it, which, no, those kits are NOT for eating. So I pulled out stuff for him to make his own.  And the smack talk began.)

Maggie's beau used scissors to cut the gable ends of his house.  There were several failures before he was successful. He made a beeeellion crumbs.

Maggie and her friend "Notorious." They were serious about their house.

They were slamming each other and trying to steal each other's decorations. 

Notorious and The Beau tried to look like they were about to brawl. This photo took several tries, as every time they looked at each other, they busted out laughing. 

Time for hellacious messes left after Gingerbread House Wars are over. (To be fair, they did clean it up pretty well. I had to wipe down the counters again, but it could have been so much worse!)

And you? What's it time for at your house?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Short List Of Things That Induce Humbuggery And Their Antidotes

It's officially the Christmas season? Did you notice? Way back in October? It feels more and more like the Christmas season is a marathon rather than a sprint. I try really hard to enjoy the season and not to give in to negative feelings about worldliness and commercialism, but sometimes, even with my Pollyanna alter-ego screaming "HAPPY THOUGHTS!" in my head, I still fall into a Scrooge-like frame of mind that makes me want to say 'Bah! Humbug!'.

In no particular order, a short list of things that make me humbuggy:

Hearing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving. I like my holidays like I like my boobs. Firmly separated--the uniboob isn't a good look for anybody.  And running holidays together is like having a uniboob on the calendar. Or something like that. Whatever. You know what I mean. One holiday at a time, please! Humbug!

And while I'm speaking of Christmas carols, once we are past Thanksgiving and the stamp of approval has been given for the aural free-for-all of carols heard everywhere around the clock, nothing will cause me an irrational flash of holiday rage like hearing my least favorite carol in the history of ever: The Little Drummer Boy. There's so much about this "carol" that I dislike that I can't even list everything. Humbug!

Something else that makes me want to crawl in a hole and wait for January: The Elf on a Shelf. Now, I understand how this little guy makes some people happy. In fact, when we first received him, I thought "how fun!" But that was before I was subjected to my subconscious awakening me in the middle of the night with a mental forehead slap because I forgot to move that damn elf. Then I would have to drag my bleary-eyed self downstairs before the younger children to make sure that the elf had "traveled" during the night. This was bad enough. But through the magic of the interwebs, I caught wind of some overachieving parents whose elves allegedly cause mischief in the night. I was seeing elves making "snow angels" in flour on the countertops, elves using a hanger as a zipline from the Christmas tree, an elf and a Barbie sipping syrup straight out of the bottle through straws like they were on some demented date, elves replacing the stockings hung by the chimney with care with dirty socks or underwear. Folks, I'm pretty sure that I have enough messes on my countertops because I am apparently the only one who knows how to wipe them down. So I'm supposed to fling four on my counter so that the elf can roll around in it? Nope. Nope. Nope-itty-nope-nope. And I've mentioned here before my childrens' fondness for taking their dirty socks off and leaving them where they fall. Who needs an elf for that?! I can't be certain, but I think the Elf on the Shelf makes the Baby Jesus cry. Humbug!

And finally, on this very ranty list: I hate having to do the majority of holiday preparation by myself. I do most of the shopping, all of the wrapping, organize the putting up and taking down of holiday decorations, and I bake and cook enough food to feed several families. Granted, my beloved works hard and travels a lot, making it hard for him to pitch in. Also, he wraps gifts like a drunken three-fingered gnome, (and that's being generous to him and disparaging to drunken three-fingered gnomes.) so other than whatever he buys for me, he is granted dispensation from wrapping duties. Okay, maybe "hate" is too strong a word, but it's only December 3rd and I'm already dreaming of drinking adult beverages all by myself on a tropical island somewhere.

I promise I'm more fun to be around than I just made myself sound. Mostly. And part of the reason is because whenever I start to get humbuggy, I have a short list of antidotes to Humbuggery that works wonders . Humbugginess? Humbugishness? Whatever. Here you go:

* I turn up some of my favorite music and dance. And I don't mean that I shuffle my feet anemically and snap my fingers. I dance. Now, understand that I'm no great dancer. I'm more Elaine Benes than Martha Graham, but what I lack in style and form, I make up for in enthusiasm. Let's just say that if the neighbors are watching, I'm confirming everything they ever thought about me. But it doesn't matter. When I'm dancing, there is no room for the humbug. Jitterbugging? Yes. Humbugging? Absolutely not.

* I turn up some of my favorite music and sing. I've been told that I have a nice singing voice. I used to sing solos in church. I'm not talking about that kind of singing. I'm talking about window-rattling. I sing loud enough to make dogs howl. And I sing badly. On purpose. For some reason, it releases something in me that makes me feel better. I'm pretty sure that if scientists somewhere studied it, they would say that all the feel good juices in your body pour into your brain and marinate it causing feel goodyness all over your body. Why no, I never taught science. Why do you ask? Anyway. Loud, bad singing. I highly recommend it.

* I head over to the Little Drummer Boy Challenge and read about others who hate the song as much as I do. I read the hilarious stories of how they were knocked out of the game and I feel a connection. I read about the avoidance tactics people employ to avoid hearing the song to stay in longer and I root for them. Even though I was knocked out of the game early on (like last week) from the unholy pairing of Little Drummer Boy and Bob Seger, (certain proof of Satan's existence) I pop over now and then to visit the Wall of the Fallen and see how people were slain by the boy with the drum. Misery loves company. Especially if it's hilarious company.

* Sometimes, I find a quiet spot where I can't be bothered--yes, I hide--and I close my eyes and just breathe in and out for five minutes. You wouldn't believe how often this occurs in the van in the garage. For some reason, no one thinks to look there for me. (Please don't tell. I'm begging you. They've hunted me down everywhere else.) But just five minutes of quiet, focused breathing sets me to rights again.

* And finally, every time I kvetch and complain about the many holiday tasks ahead of me, I stop and mentally shake myself. And then I make myself list three ways in which I am blessed. Believe me, it's hard to maintain any sense of humbugishness when you are listing blessings.

So now y'all, it's your turn. What makes you say "Bah Humbug!" and what do you do to keep yourself from becoming your family's version of Scrooge? Do share. We can help each other out. After all, it is the season of giving.

Also, I need you all sane and healthy so you'll keep coming back here. Apparently it's also the season for self-absorbed bloggers to pander for comments. Ahem.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Been Harder Than High School Algebra Class

I've been through a terrible ordeal. It's been painful, traumatic, and tear-inducing. Seriously. I broke down in a parking lot and cried.

I've been trying to find a neutral tan/beige/brown to paint my family room.

Laugh if you wish, but if you are laughing, then I'm betting you've never had to try to find that magical color that doesn't read too brown or too yellow or too gray or too muddy or too swine colored. I'm sure it's out there. Others have claimed to find it. But it's my Bigfoot--it has eluded me.

This past weekend, I began to paint our family room. When we moved in, it was painted like this:

It was a green that I could deal with. It was similar to a green that we had in our old house, but a bit darker. I could and did decorate with this green. But after several years of green in the old house and 4 years of green in this house, I was greened out. What had seemed refreshing and neutral (did you know that some greens are considered neutral?) was starting to turn muddy and cave-like. Every time I looked at the paint, which was, you know, DAILY since we live in that room and it connects to the kitchen, I started to get hives. I just couldn't stand it a minute longer. And so it was that I embraced my insanity and declared that we would be painting Thanksgiving weekend so it would be out of the way come Christmas.


First, my beloved painted the ceiling. He has a thing about needing the ceilings to be bright white. I could give a flying fig about how white the ceilings are. I mean, seriously, I'm not all that concerned about the whites in my laundry staying white. Bright white ceilings!? Pffft. So Patrick spent Saturday painting the ceiling. Then on Sunday, while the paint hardened and I twiddled my thumbs in impatience, I went to Lowe's and bought a gallon of what I was sure was going to be the perfect neutral beige paint and some tinted primer.

On Monday, after removing blinds and cover plates and taping every piece of trim AND the fabulously bright white ceiling, I began priming. I started to paint the first coat of paint just as the first children were arriving home from school.

You know what's great about children? Their honesty.

You know what sucks about children? Their honesty.

After the third one came home and said, "Mom, did you mean for the walls to be the same color as the trim? It looks kinda blah in here," exactly like her siblings had, I was teetering on the edge of The Abyss of Losing It. When my husband walked in and said "Are you doing a second coat of primer?" I dropped my paint roller into The Abyss and nearly jumped in after it.

Thankfully, I had only done one wall. I grabbed my car keys, yelled "Order pizza for dinner!" and headed back to Lowe's. In rush hour traffic. In CHRISTMAS rush hour traffic. Hey, do you know what they don't sell at Lowe's? Booze. And it's probably a good thing, as by the time I got there I was ready to sit in a corner with a bottle of anything alcoholic and snarl at people when they came near.

I had with me a pillow with the same shade of brown that I was looking for. I walked back and forth past the paint chips, pulling out anything that looked promising and then discarding it in disgust, until finally, FINALLY I found one that was a near match. I don't know if the other shoppers heard it, but I could distinctly hear angels singing as a golden glow of light enveloped the paint chip in my hands. I took it to the counter and said, "Give me a gallon of your best satin, my good man! And make it snappy, good sir, as I must hasten to slap this paint on the walls before they install me in the loony bin!" Or maybe I just pointed and grunted. I can't be sure. It's all a bit of a haze.

As I was walking through the parking lot with my paint, my phone rang. It was my beloved who told me he would help me paint so that I wouldn't be up until the wee hours. And that, my friends, was when I cried in the parking lot. Little did I know that it wouldn't be the last time that night...

We started putting the new paint on the walls and remarked that while it certainly was darker than the first paint color, it didn't seem as dark as the color on the paint chip. It was at this point that I started to curse Lowe's and their computer. Even though it says the right color on the computer label on the paint can, I think it was mixed wrong. We kept painting, knowing that paint dries darker than it appears when you first apply it.



I'm not sure what color is on our walls. Lavender Swine? Gray Haze Pink? Barely A Notch Above Cream? Whatever it is, it ain't Tattered Sail like the paint chip I picked out. There's a better chance of a monkey leaping out of my butt and singing Jingle Bells than there is of that color resembling the paint chip.

Not that I'm bitter. Ahem.

We decided that we'd take the tape down before the paint hardened, because have you ever left painting tape on too long? There's nothing more frustrating than finishing a paint job and having half of it come off with the tape.

Nothing except choosing the wrong color. For the second time.

We're keeping it the way it is until after the holidays. I just don't have the time or the will to tape everything again and try to find the right color before Christmas. I'm hoping that by putting enough sparkly Christmas decorations up, everyone will be distracted from the paint. Ohh! Look! Shiny!!!

This color isn't true. I think it looks darker here than it really is.

Don't mind the missing cover plates. They'll get put back on. On Christmas Eve. Along with the blinds. And the curtains I have yet to make. Anyone have wine? Anyone? Anyone?

What's an "after" shot without a dog with a vacant stare in it?

See those mirrors on the mantel? I just thought it would look pretty. I had no other motive in my little brain at the time. But it turns out that it was another of my very excellent ideas. Do you know why? Because we are all highly entertained by the Dumb Dog when she chases the beam of a flashlight. Y'all. Those mirrors make it look like a DISCO in here! The poor dog has no idea what just happened. Her tiny little mind is blown. We may have to spend the holidays with the lights off just so she doesn't run herself to death.

Still. In some small and totally sadistic way, it makes up for the paint color.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving (Yep, So Very Behind These Days!)

Why helllooo there!  And how was your Thanksgiving? Are you coming out of your turkey coma? Or are you still dreaming of skinny dipping in the homemade noodles and gravy? No? Just me then? Okay...

Here at Chez Ganey, things have been rolling right along. We headed to Illinois to see family over the Thanksgiving holiday. We were only there for 48 hours, but man, we managed to cram all the good stuff in. We ate barbecued brisket sandwiches, played charades, ate turkey, played football, ate pie, played cards, ate turkey sandwiches, played with dogs, ate more pie, and had a baptism. Why no, they didn't need to roll me down the aisle at church, why do you ask?

As per tradition, we played a Turkeys vs. 'Taters football game. And as per tradition, I documented the game with my camera.

My boys and cousin Mike giving their best "scary" faces. I'm quaking. Aren't you?

My brother, Uncle Grumpy, with his No-shave November goatee and 'stache.

My sister-in-law, Mrs. Uncle Grumpy, and her sweet girls, my beautiful nieces.

My beloved, QB of the 'Taters: James, get right, Olivia, get left, Mike get by me, Kathy, get out of the way.

Don't remember if this pass connected, but I loved his face in this shot. It makes me laugh every time I look at it.

Uncle Grumpy told his son to go long. His son did not go long enough. Uncle Grumpy stayed grumpy.

My ultra-competitive sister-in-law tackling her ultra-competitive-apple-didn't-fall-far-from-the-tree daughter.

Not sure who won, the Turkeys or the 'Taters, but everyone had a good time and the adults all creaked and groaned later in the afternoon. 

Patrick and the kids and I shifted between my folks' home in our hometown, and Patrick's sister's home about 30 miles away so we could visit his mother and some of his other family. His mom isn't well and we've tried to spend as much time as we can when we are in town. Bonus: second Thanksgiving meal and one of Aunt Gigi's delicious homemade chocolate pies to take home! (The pie made the trip home but was gone the next day.)

On Friday, before heading back to Indy, my dad took Mary's confession of faith and Patrick baptized her. It was a very beautiful celebration and we are so blessed and proud of Mary.

My dad, taking Mary's confession of faith, and reminding Mary that Jesus is her boss now.

Before she descended into the baptistry, Mary was crying. She was afraid she would "mess up.'" I was crying too, but for entirely different reasons.

Dead to sin, raised to new life in Christ. Congratulations, Mary Rose!
After Mary's baptism, we headed back to my folks' house for a quick lunch before heading back to Indy. Once home, Patrick and I went to the home improvement store to get paint so that we could paint to family room.

We are insane. Who paints during the holidays? Hint: Insane people.

Stay tuned. Painting was not without it's problems. *Sigh*. Oh well, gives me something to blog about.

Also, if you need me? I'll be huddled over in that corner with booze and ice cream, muttering about paint colors.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

(Un)Brace Yourself

We had a Momentous Occasion 'round these parts last week. Another child was freed from bondage! Er, as much as braces can be considered bondage. But for as much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth that went on for lo these two and a half years, you would believe that my child was a victim of in"denture"d servitude. Okay. Sorry for that horrible pun so early in the day. Sometimes I can't help myself. I am a product of my upbringing. (I'm looking at you, Daddy!)

So that was all to say that finally, after two and a half years of Herbst-appliance-wearing, wire-tightening, rubber-band-wearing, "oh-my-gosh-braces-are-ridiculously-stupid" orthodontia, James' teeth are finally free and unencumbered. Well, as much as teeth can be anyway.

Here are the obligatory before and after pictures:

The orthodontist used to give caramel corn to kids after they had their braces removed. That's what Maggie received when she got hers off. Now, however, they've gone to a candy closet that is chock-full of all the different "forbidden" candy. I put "forbidden" in quotation marks, since neither Maggie nor James took the whole "don't eat these foods" portion of their orthodontia handbook seriously.

James managed to cram his little bag full of Tootsie Rolls and caramels, things he ate anyway. What he's really looking forward to is corn on the cob, something he really loves and didn't eat the whole time he had braces. They didn't have that in the candy closet. That would've been weird. Unfortunately, he's going to have a bit of a wait for that.

And what do I get after two and a half years of orthodontia? Why, the opportunity to be free of nagging about rubber bands, not having to schedule and remember orho appointments, and not finding tiny little rubber bands everywhere--up to and including the washer and dryer.

And a couple of purloined Tootsie Rolls. Totally worth the wait.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Catch Up

No. This is not a post about condiments. I fear that if I were to post my preference of ketchup to salsa or mustard to mayonnaise, I would be setting myself up for controversy. And, I don't know if you've been aware, but we've had an election in this country and it has been a little bit heated and divisive. I can't take it anymore. So I am avoiding the whole thing altogether and am just going to talk about non-controversial stuff that's been happening around here in between the sky falling and half of the country readying itself to pack up and move to somewhere else. Ahem.

Let's see...

The kids had fall break a couple of weeks ago. We are boring and also, I am horrible, because I had the nerve to schedule a physical for myself on one of the days of fall break, thus not allowing us to go anywhere. Gosh, am I selfish! (Actually, blame the doctor. I called waaaay back in August and couldn't get in until October. Don't even get me started on trying to see the LadyBits doctor.) (Hi dad!) So we spent one of the days visiting Conner Prairie, a local living history museum. It is a gem of a place that we should visit more and if you are ever in the Indianapolis area, I highly recommend a visit.
Our first stop was the Lenape Indian camp where an interpreter gave us some interesting history and tied it to people and places that we know about in Indiana.

Sean and Mary in a Lenape style canoe. Getting edumacated.

Maggie, grinding corn. She's pretty sure she likes the time she's living in right now.

Wow, this horse is really tame. 
Then we headed to the Conner house, took in some information there and headed around back to the great view and the fabulous hill so that the kids could roll down it.

"Whoa. Now I'm dizzy!"

"Whoa. Now I'm dizzy! And itchy! So itchy!"

Probably wasn't the same view Mr. Conner had, but still, not bad.

Yes, we are missing a child. He preferred sleep to family time. Go figure. Also, so much for Christmas card pictures!
After that, we headed to the barn to pet sheep, goats, and calves. And also to comment on the smell. What a bunch of city slickers I live with!

She wasn't sure she should disturb the sheep while it was snacking.

Not quite 17 hands tall. Also, this face? Apparently it is the new "duck face." I see girls all over social media looking mildly alarmed.


This is the slowest horse EVER!

Feeding the calf. I am mooing while I'm taking this picture. She is embarrassed to be near me. 
Then we headed to the forge to see the blacksmith. Sean loved this area. We all liked watching the blacksmith work. The blacksmith liked watching Maggie. Maggie's daddy didn't like the blacksmith. We left the smithy and made many remarks about Maggie being of marrying age and how a smith was a pretty good catch, what with job stability and all. Maggie walked far in front of us. The end.
Hey girl, I can shoe your horse or make you a spatula. 
We visited the village, where Mary was invited to play the piano at the doctor's house and we learned that children had a good number of rules to follow at the dining table. Also, my children decided that they wouldn't want to have to live without indoor plumbing.

Took a little bit of persuasion, but then she played Yankee Doodle, a song which was setting appropriate.

Dang! Where is that 4th child?! This would've been a good one!

Next we headed to the 1860's and learned about the Confederate raid on Indiana and were startled by a Union soldier up on a telegraph pole. 

Unfortunately, we didn't get a shot of me being startled by pans flying off the wall in the mercantile when the rebs came in and tore up the place. Yep. My kids are always happy to be around me.

So. Conner Prairie. Good times.

Also, this happened:

No. She doesn't have her license. Yet.  But we purchased a second family vehicle in anticipation of that event. Before, we just had the minivan and Pat's company vehicle, which only he is allowed to drive. I mean, I could drive it, but I'm pretty sure the Horsemen of the Apocalypse would have to be chasing me. And they would have to be fleeing zombies. So you know, a second vehicle was in order. Plus, having the Element allows Maggie the avoid the shame of having to drive a minivan. I don't know how I've withstood the humiliation of driving one for so many years. Ahem.

And there was also this:

Happy Halloween. Now give me candy before my fearsome K-9 and I arrest you.

Mary would like you to know that her Halloween costume is that of a K-9 officer. Maggie would like you to know that she's going as a Supermodel and isn't wearing a costume. I would like you to know that I'm rolling my eyes.

Hi, I'm Officer Mary and this is my K-9 officer Sparkle the Chihuahua. Please notice my cheesy grin and provide me with candy. Thanks!
This is ONE child's haul from Halloween. He was worried that he might not have enough to share a few pieces with the kids who didn't trick or treat. I think we might need to have a conversation about "enough."

And finally, with much celebration, there was this:
I didn't get a sticker in the last election. I was very sad. This year, the gentleman working the polls let me take two! One for my coat and one for my clothes. I was like an 8 year old. Because it's all about the sticker, right?

And that is absolutely as political as I will get. Stickers = Yay! Hooray! Yippee! All is right with the world!
No stickers = The sky is falling! I'm moving to another country!