Wednesday, December 26, 2007

For Quality Assurance Purposes

I've made sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, brownies, beer bread and pineapple upside down cake. I love baking but I also love to eat which is a huge problem when you're trying to stay on a low calorie, low sugar diet.

I think it's impossible during the holidays which is why I have given
myself a huge window of latitude in which to sample cookie dough and newly baked cookies and cakes.

"What do you think you're doing??", says Howie as I twist my tongue around a beater dripping with batter. "Thwat, it's for quality assurance purposes!!", I say in pitiful self defense. I was appointed quality assurance guru when I became designated holiday cook. It's a fringe benefit that gives me great job satisfaction. It also gives me a belly ache and a jiggly ass.

Did you know that if you eat 3500 extra calories, you will gain one
pound? According to my calculations, I've gained about 20 pounds over the last few days!!!

I normally don't eat sugar and I'm starting to feel dizzy from all of
the sweets. I'm going to have to go through a week of detox to get back to my normal diet routine. It will be tough. During my last sugar detox I had the shakes and the sweats. This time, thanks to all of the frosting, I might need a padded cell and a 24 hour suicide watch.

Luckily, I've still been hitting the gym. If it wasn't for that little
fact, I might have blown up like a Macy's parade balloon!
Next year, I might have to delegate some quality assurance duties to Howie and the kids. I'm up to my neck in drizzles and sprinkles and frosting and cherries. It's just all too much responsibility for me!!!

I once heard that the average person gains about 3 pounds during the holiday season. I think I've gained the equivalent of an overstuffed turkey!!!

Do you think you've gained??? Do you overindulge during the holidays? Have you had to unbutton your pants yet ???

Christmas Morning

Birdie started to get very suspicious about the whole Santa thing. First, we had the kill joys on the bus trying to fill her mind with a dose of reality checks. Then there was her accidental stumble upon one of her gifts. I had to make up a story about how I bought toys for tots and was donating all of the gifts to children who might not have presents for Christmas. That seemed to squash some of the questions but then she started raising eyebrows again when I asked her to help me wrap her daddy's presents. "Doesn't Santa bring all of the presents?", she asks with squinty eyes. "Not for mommy's and daddy's...only for kids". "Hmmm", she mumbles.

I've done so much lying during this holiday season that I'm actually starting to believe some of my lies! I've had to make up lie upon lie and have found that I have a gift for pulling stories out of my ass. For example, our post office had a Santa mailbox in which to place all of the letters to the north pole. Of course, I procrastinated so I made up a story about how the mailbox is magic and once a letter goes inside, it gets sent immediately to the north pole and the elves get it and magically make all of the presents in a jiffy and put them in Santa's sleigh. It all takes place in a matter of minutes, I tell her. I thought I was covered. But then, we get to the post office and the mail box is GONE! Birdie starts to hyperventilate. I tell her it will "all be okay" and that perhaps the mailbox was moved to the back for maintenance. I approached the window to talk to the postman and winked as I told him that this letter needed to go into Santa's magic mailbox pdq in order to make it to the north pole in time.

Luckily, Pat the postman (no I'm not making that up), was hip to my scheme and said that he would personally take care of the letter and would make sure that it got to the north pole without incident. Birdie let out a sigh of relief and started to get the color back in her face by the time we reached the car.

Since she had helped me wrap presents and stick on bows and labels I was sure to wrap all of their "Santa" presents in separate paper and stick on Santa labels with fake handwriting, just to throw her off the scent of deceit. We let them track Santa on Google earth and put on some music for ambiance. We were getting tired and with a whole night of wrapping ahead of us; we decided to tell the kids that Santa would not be coming if they were not in bed. Luckily, according to Google Earth, Santa was just clearing the Atlantic ocean and headed for the east cost of the U.S. "Hurry, we better get to bed soon we don't have much time", screamed Birdie. First, we put out a few brownies with milk for Santa and carrot sticks for the reindeer, although there was some research involved to figure out exactly how many reindeer there are. We counted out 9 baby carrot sticks and wrote a small letter of thanks to the man in red. Then, we read them "The Night Before Christmas" and tucked them in with visions of candy canes dancing in their heads.

We finished wrapping and putting together some toys. We've learned some lessons from Christmases past and took all of Bear's toys out of the packages and wrapped them naked so that she could go immediately from ripping to playing. There's nothing worse than having to sit and struggle with those stupid little wire twisties in the back of EVERY stinkin' kids toy. We also stocked up on batteries and put together the big complicated toys and threw a layer of wrapping paper over them for cover. We charged the video camera, set up the tripod and set out some trash bags for the mess that would ensue the next morning.

We got to bed at 1am and I had a restless night of sleep. We had told the kids that they were forbidden to come downstairs until the sun was up. They obeyed and as soon as the sun cleared the horizen they were charging down the stairs to our room. A quick diaper change, bathroom stop and all four of us were headed downstairs to the family room where Howie had already lit the tree, put on the coffee and had video camera in hand.

"OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOD", screamed Birdie as she flew across the room, leaving Bubba as a big pile of road kill in the process and landing smack in front of a big pile of presents. We put all three kids in front of the tree and started handing out gifts. Birdie had been begging for a princess vanity since before Halloween and she caught a glimmer of a stool and charged to the corner where it stood. All I remember after that was seeing her body hunched over with paper flying like confetti all around her. "It's everything I always wanted", she says with a quiver and a jump.

Bubba had the most presents of all but unfortunately he opened a remote control dinosaur first and it stole the show. Everything else was an after-thought. Lesson learned. Next year, we start with socks and work our way up to the super toys.

Bear was still a little groggy from the early rise and enjoyed chewing on bows and boxes more than opening her gifts. She made out pretty well and seemed to like her little piano the best.

Within minutes the fighting ensued. It seemed that while Bubba and Bear had piles of their own toys, the big winner of the day was Birdie's princess cash register with endless pieces of cardboard fit for chewing and buttons fit for pounding. "GET THEM AWAYYYYYYY", screamed Birdie. We had to distract Bubba with his own pile and once a few boxes were opened and batteries in place he was more than happy to stay out of Birdie's way. Bear opted for a nap not long after.

We grown-ups opened our presents and Mamaw's big ticket items were some luggage and a 5 pound bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee. The luggage should come in handy when she heads to Pennsylvania in a couple of days. Howie fell in love with his new watch and clothes. I got some terrific work out stuff. My favorite thing is Dr. Oz's book "YOU, The Owner's Manual". I also got a training watch and a duffle bag for the gym, among a few other things. Even Spencer got some large tennis balls and a bag of jerky treats!

We made some eggs and turkey bacon and drank 3 or 4 mimosas each! Mamaw is already a little tipsy. Maybe she won't notice if I break into her box of chocolate covered cherries :-)

Hope you all had a terrific Christmas morning. Merry Christmas to all and to all a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

As I begin to wash her hair

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"Try not to knock out my brains again, Mommy."
"I'll try. But I can't guarantee anything."

Memo to kids: December 20, 2007

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I got a lot of emails about my last "Memo to kids" so I think I will continue this as a monthly or bi-monthly thing. Hope you enjoy!

Birdie: There is absolutely no reason for you to have to eat 14 times a day and fyi fruit snacks contain little or no fruit whatsoever and cannot adequately count as anything remotely nutritious. Please stop stomping. It sounds like a herd of wild elephants in an african migration in a race to the last drop of water on the plains when you come racing down the stairs in the morning. Step lightly please! "I dunno" and "what?" are not acceptable responses for "did you just try to light your brother on fire?" The only acceptable response is "no, the baby did it." What's with all of the questions all of a sudden? Just because you continuously as me questions does not mean that I will eventually cave in and give you what you want. "Can I have a snack now"...."no"....."how bout now"...."no" bout after I eat my lunch"....."no"....."how bout when I get to school"...."no".....I feel like I'm in some kind of diluded Dr. Seus "Green Eggs and Ham" remake...."can I eat snacks in the house?...can I eat them with a mouse? Would I could I in the car? I want to eat them here they are!!"
"Not in the house, not with a mouse not on a train not in the rain. You cannot eat fruit snacks you see. You can not eat them so let me be!!!" Privacy in the bathroom works both ways. You cannot stand for anyone to be in the general vicinity of the bathroom when you decide to drop the kids off at the pool so please do Mommy the same courtesy and stay out! The next time you ask me "what are you doing in there", I am going to answer "baking a cake" and when you come in to investigate I will not be responsible for your dry heaving. Nuff said!

Bubba: I'm sorry to break the news to you my sweet boy, but your Diego shoes will no longer fit on your feet. Those feet have grown 2 inches in the last month and no amount of pushing, pulling or shoving will get those tootsies and a monster instep into shoes that are 2 sizes too small. It's time to move on! I promise that they will go to live on a beautiful ranch where there are lots of other shoes to play with and green fuzzy grass to run through! I hope that we don't have this situation play out in our house again anytime soon but if you EVER get sick to your stomach again and run into the bathroom to puke out a lung, please turn slightly to the left and vomit into the TOILET and avoid the heating vent! Nobody will even come close to the downstairs bathroom now and we might have to declare it completely un-useable and seal it off with plaster and paint! Please stop touching yourself!! According to your father you do this because you can and because it feels good. I don't care! It makes me shutter and cringe when I change your diaper in the morning and you give me a sneaky smile when I see your morning wood. You also don't need to rub yourself all over my legs. I have enough trouble getting the dog off of one leg without having you humping the other!

Bear: If you don't sit still while I am trying to change your diapers I will strap you down to the changing table, lethal injection style and pretend not to hear your screams! I cannot clean your poopy butt with you wrigling around like a pile of jello and I'm tired of walking around wondering what "that smell" is and finding out that I have a smear of poop across an arm sleeve. I know that you know that I know that you can walk! I also know that you choose not to because it's just so much easier to have Mommy run over and pick you up! This rooster will not lay eggs my friend so get to steppin'. I am not the only one who can put you to bed. Your father, while often times questionable, is fully capable of slapping on some pajamas and handing you a sippie cup. There is no reason for hysterics when he tries to put you to bed and pushing him away and swatting at his face only hurts his feelings. Remember, this is the man who has 50% say in which military school you might have to attend so be nice! Also, while I understand that you love the tunes in your crib radio, there is no need to turn up the volume to 10. You have plenty of years to blast your music on an ipod and ruin your hearing, you don't have to accomplish that feat before you're 15 months old!

Please take note of all said information. I will not repeat myself and the consequences will be stiff. I will only put my fingers in my ears and chant, "blah, blah, blah" while you all beg for mercy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Inner Grinch

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I suppose it should make me feel better when people say things like "she's much better off" and "she's in a better place and no longer suffering" but it just doesn't help. You see, I lost my mother two weeks ago yesterday and the pain is overwhelming. The standard cookie-cutter sympathies that I dolled out so eagerly in the face of a friend's loss are now the same comments I hear now. Except now, I realize what an asshole I was before when I was saying those things.

The one that really gets me is "just be strong". Why? I can't think of a more appropriate time to slither down into a pile of gooey weakness. I don't want to be STRONG anymore. I've been strong the whole time she was sick, the whole time I was listening to her tell me how much pain she was having, the whole time I was planning her funeral. Right now, the last thing I want to be is....strong! I want someone else to be strong for ME! I want someone to tell me that I don't have to be strong anymore and rather I can fold up into their arms and cry for as long as it takes.

I know it's not anyone's fault. People are trying to be sympathetic and doing their best to try to say the right thing. I really do understand. Before my mom's passing I would have done the same thing because I simply did not understand. There are no words that can make me feel better. There is no wisdom strong enough to take away the piercing pain I feel in my chest. I guess one can never understand unless they have faced the same pain and loss.

I did have one friend, in his infinite wisdom and understanding say to me the most poignant thing that has been said to me. "There's nothing I can say to make things better, I don't understand how you are feeling but having lost my mom only a year ago, I can tell you that it will get better." What a genius thing to say. When he said that to me I began to cry the ugly cry....the sobbing, blubbering, wailing and "what's wrong with her" cry. It was the first time that I felt like someone truly understood what I needed to hear and let me have it.

Perhaps I'm rounding into the "anger" stage of grief but lately everything makes me upset. Like I said, I know that everyone means well but I wish they would stop trying to make me feel better. It hurts, I don't know how long it's going to take to stop hurting so just be okay with my hurting. Howie for one, can't stand that I am aching so much. He loves me so that the thought of my being in so much agony makes him hurt inside. He wants to make me feel better and tries his best to make me laugh. I want to laugh too, but I'm just not ready. I'm not ready to laugh fully, yet. I'm not ready to send out Christmas cards, so this year I won't. I don't want to be out shopping with people who are full of Christmas joy. Their joy pisses me off. Their happiness pisses me off because I am not happy, in fact I'm just the opposite. I don't want to bake cookies or drink eggnog. The thought of spreading holiday cheer makes me want to split someone's lip.

It's not that I'm depressed. I still laugh at the kid's silly jokes, enjoy going to the gym to fill myself with endorphins and appreciate that while I have lost much, I have much to be thankful about. I just want some time not to be happy. I want stillness, quietness and peace. I want to mourn in my own time and not be forced to put on a happy face.

Christmas is usually my favorite holiday of the year. I wait eagerly for Thanksgiving to round the corner so that I can decorate and bake and shop. This year, I am officially embracing the Grinch within. I can't wait for it to all be over. I am; however, looking forward to the new year. I feel in my heart that it is symbolic of a fresh start, a new beginning for me. I will embrace the new year and all of the hope it brings and while I shall never forget my mom, I will forge ahead and live my new year to the fullest possible.

Bah Humbug

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree

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I was sitting in our family room today looking at our Christmas tree, all 10 feet of it's fake glory. I had desperately wanted to buy a real tree because nothing beats the fragrance and ambiance of a real tree. Mamaw; however, would have nothing of it. She was petrified that the thing would dry out, catch on fire and the whole house would go up in flames. She was genuinely worried so we obliged and bought a fake tree.

As fake trees go, ours is rather beautiful. If I dangled a few pine tree car freshners in the back one might temporarily be tricked into thinking it is real!

When Howie and I celebrated our first Christmas together we decided that we would start an ornament tradition for our family. We would not fill the tree with sparkly balls and tinsle, but rather we would buy one ornament each year that represented our lives during that time, write the year on it and hang it on the tree. This way each and every ornament would be meaningful and special and our hope was that each year we could decorate our tree with our kids, ornament by ornament and discuss what each one represents.

As you can imagine, our first Christmas tree had only one ornament, our wedding ornament. It's two cute little bears. The boy bear is dressed in a tuxedo and is carrying a girl bear in her wedding dress. It sat lonely in our tree with it's only companions a chorus line of twinkling white lights.

We've only been married 6 years but it's amazing how full our tree has become. While it's still very bare, there are oodles of festive and earmarked ornaments. There is an ornament for the birth of each child. A silver shoe for Birdie, a baby boy for Bubba and a baby bear in a cradle for our Bear. There is an ornament for every trip we've taken like a life preserver from Martha's Vineyard and an Elvis from Las Vegas. There is also one for each new thing that the kids were into during a particular year. There's a Dora, Thomas the Train, Elmo, Dinosaur, Princesses and Cars ornament. There is also a set of ballet shoes for the year Birdie started dance classes. Each ornament represents a memory from the years of our lives. Every time we decorate the tree we will remember that cruise to Nova Scotia or that for an entire year Birdie could think of nothing but Barbie dolls. We will look back fondly of our year in New York City and of the time Howie won a golfing long drive competition and qualified for world competition.

When Ellie moved to CT she brought with her a few ornaments that belonged to her mom and some that were hand-made by Ellie herself. It brought history to our family Christmas tree.

There is so much room left on our tree, so many branches empty for now but hopeful that next year they will be home to a brand new memory. I can't help but look at our tree and wonder what it will look like in 20 years. I imagine it will be packed from top to bottom with ornaments representing a year of soccer, swimming lessons, dance class and trips to the Cape. There will be book worms to represent the first years of school and crosses to represent holy communion. It will have 3 cars to represent newly licensed drivers and a silver plated one for our 25th anniversary.

I see so much hope in our Christmas tree for it holds our past, present and plenty of room for a future. All of our special trinkets balanced delicately and hanging from a branch of our tree remind me of all the blessings we have been given and while I don't feel in much of a Christmacy mood this year, I can't help but be thankful of all that I have been given and all that is yet to come.

Milk, Eggs, Batteries and Water

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It started snowing yesterday at 11:00am and didn't stop until sometime during the night. We awoke to nearly a foot of snow on the ground and it was glorious. I love the snow. I don't enjoy driving in snow, but here in New England that is generally not a problem since Conndot is so on top of things that thousands of snow plows are out cruising the roads hours before the snow actually begins. It's amazing how different states deal with snow. In Colorado, for example, where you would think that they would be ready, willing and able to deal with a good snow storm; they all freak out over 2 inches! I think that is mostly because not only do they get a few inches of snow; there is usually a few inches of black ice underneath it all just waiting to take someone out!

Connecticut has beautiful snow. I love the way that it falls so quiety and gently and covers all of the trees in a furry coat of white splendor. I love the silence that the snow brings. Have you ever stood outside in the snow and listened to it fall? It's so peaceful and calming. We were lucky that while we got a lot of snow, it was the powdered sugar kind that is light and fluffy. There must have been 3 inches balanced atop all of the tree branches but they didn't mind because it was not heavy and didn't weigh down the limbs. Today the wind came and blew the fluffy stuff from the trees and sent it flowing through the air. It looked like someone sneezed while eating a giant powdered donut.

The only thing that puzzles me about Connecticut residents during a snowstorm is that they have yet to understand that 8 inches of snow does not necessitate last minute shopping to stock up cubbards and pantries till spring! I decided that since Birdie would be home from school, we would get a head start on our Christmas baking. We would make assorted cookies, cupcakes and a pineapple upside-down cake for Howie. I was out of brown sugar and for some odd reason I cannot keep a bottle of vanilla extract in this house. I seem to always be buying new bottles but every time I pull one out of the cabinet it is either bone dry or the bottle is cracked.

I called up Mamaw and asked if she would like to come over for an afternoon of baking. She agreed so on the way home from her pick-up I swung by the supermarket to pick up some extra supplies. I knew we were getting a snow storm but since I had just gone to the market a couple of days before and am not the paranoid type, I wasn't there to buy umpteen gallons of water, flashlights and batteries. No, I was there for stick butter and walnuts!

It was a mad house. People were charging down the aisles in a rush, as if the snow was not to fall over the course of 12 hours but rather the sky would open up and dump 8 inches in 8 minutes and we would be buried alive!!!! Since the kids were home from school, moms were frazzled with 2 and 3 kids each, scampering to fill up their carts with bread, milk and eggs. You know, because during a minor snow storm the entire United States shuts down and you MUST buy an extra dozen eggs in order to ride out the storm that will keep you home-bound for an entire day!!! EEEK!

Maybe it's just a knee-jerk unexplained reaction. Like when you're driving around trying to find an address and you instinctively turn down the volume on your radio because it's distracting your eyes! We all know that the radio doesn't affect our ability to find an address, but it makes us FEEL like we're focused and in control. I suppose it's the same thing with grocery shopping during a storm. It's not necessary. It doesn't help us at all, but it makes us feel safe, comfortable and in control.

Maybe I like to live life on the wild side and call me crazy but I don't buy into all of that fooey. I'm not the type that keeps a day's worth of groceries in the house at one time. No, I shop for a week and a half at a time so I am usually ALWAYS stocked up. I'm not afraid of being without a loaf of bread for a day and am pretty sure that we could get by without a cart full of batteries and flashlights. Worst case scenario, the snow doesn't stop when the forcasters predict and it dumps an extra 2 feet of snow on us. We are stuck for a couple of days at home. If the electric goes out, we have candles. If the heat goes out, we have a fireplace and blankets. If we don't have water, we have bottled water, soda and juice that will keep us alive for a few days and I'm not above filling a bathtub of water to use to flush the toilet. As far as food goes, we will survive on canned chili and junk food for the extra day that it takes the snow plows to dig us out. We live in Connecticut 2007 not in Wyoming 1807 for crying out loud! Plus, we don't need to sit in line at the gas station to fill up our vehicles with gas either! Hey, if we're going to be so snowed in that we can't get to the supermarket, what the hell good will gas do in our gas tanks??

Well, I suppose I should go to the market today to pick up whatever I need for the weekend because we are expecting a nor'easter tomorrow into Sunday and if the past serves as any predictor for the future, the supermarkets will be a zoo while citizens prepare for yet another snow storm. Cause you know, even if they were at the store 2 days ago, they will HAVE to go again and get 4 more loafs of bread, 4 gallons of milk and 2 extra dozen eggs. It's imperative!!!

Not me! I will put on my comfy pants and snuggle up in the couch instead of heading for the store. I'm going to watch a marathon of Christmas movies and drink hot chocolate after I take the kids out to build a snow man. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Keep warm, ya'll

Do you enjoy the snow? Do you rush out to the supermarket in anticipation of the snow? What's your favorite thing to do when it snows?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Memo to kids

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It's been a rough week for mommy, so please give her a break, mkay??

Birdie: When you wake up before your brother please leave him alone. You know that he gets incredibly fussy when awoken by anything other than the smell of pancakes so for the love of all that is holy, let him sleep. If you can manage to sneak downstairs to eat leftovers from the fridge at 2 am, then you are definitely old enough to walk your little heiny downstairs in the morning and make yourself a bowl of cereal and watch t.v. for a few minutes without waking the entire house. Also, everyone in this house (except for grandpa) has functioning ears, so there is no need to scream at the top of your lungs at all times. Mommy's ears still hurt from yesterday so turn down the volume. Please note that it is not polite to ask strangers if your pits stink and then point out that you have not had a bath since yesterday. It's also not polite to speak of your vagina all the time. We all know you have one and where it is and don't need to know if it's talking to you. It is embarassing for mommy when you say things like that. You remember what embarassing means, right? It's like last week when you said you were "embarassed" because your brother kissed you at the bus stop and left slobber all over your face. Please check with mommy before doing anything your father says. He doesn't always know what he's saying and if you eat a whole can of peanut butter because he says you can and I catch you both trying to keep secrets about it again, you will be giving up a favorite toy and your daddy will be giving up a favorite passtime. Also, Santa is REAL so don't listen to what any of your little fellow bus riders have to say. They are trying to mess with your head. Mommy knows Santa personally and let me just say the he has made mention that you are on his check twice list because of last week's debacle with the cat and a giant sink full of soapy water!

Bubba: Your tiny little body will soon give out if you do not ingest something other than milk. A bite of a pancake, half a nibble of a blueberry and fruit snacks will not keep you alive so PLEASE eat something. Mommy is having trouble finding 4T pants with a 12 month waistband and soon you won't have any energy to watch Diego To The Rescue in consecutive 3 hour increments! If you think that poop is "YUCKY" then it is time to go to the potty by yourself! Mommy is soon going to go on diaper changing strike because there is not enough Oust on the planet that can rid the house of rank after I change your poopy pants. If you can play in the bathroom, sit on the toilet, take off your clothes and complain that your pants are dirty then there is no reason you cannot sit on the potty to make pee pee and poop. Trust me, Diego will be on again in the next half hour so you will not miss anything and if that doesn't make you feel better, we have every episode ever made on the tivo upstairs, so relax. I've been told by your baby sister that if you do not keep your hands to yourself and stop touching her head, face and hair, she will use those 3 little razor sharp teeth to bite off your fingers. She has also threatened to poke out your eyes and kick you in the face. Trust me, last week I stuck my finger in her mouth to take out a huge chunk of shredded crayon and she bit off my finger. It was not fun so take note and save your digits! Leave the dog alone! Although he is tall, brown and on four legs; he is not a horse. He does not enjoy being ridden side saddle nor being force fed whole apples. Next time he knocks you off and you fall to the floor with a huge thud and let out a monster scream that can be heard for miles I will politely say that I told you so and leave you to drown in your own slobber and tears.

Baby Bear: I know that you are still upset with me because I left you alone with your father for 4 days when I went to Colorado. I have apologized over and over and over and think it is time that you get over it! I will say it again, I am sorry. I did not want to leave you here and will be eternally in your debt for enduring your father's care. I know he nearly drowned you in the bathtub, forgot to feed you at least 3 meals, let you fall down a couple of stairs, let you eat plant soil, and didn't put a jacket or socks on you in 30 degree weather. Please be understanding, he was doing the best he could! I promise not to leave for a very long time so there is no need to throw a full blown tantrum if I round a corner and step out of your line of vision. Mommy's arms are tired so I will soon have to put you down on the floor and not hold you anymore. I missed you too, but I just can't be with you morning, noon and night. Please stop eating the dog food. I know the doctor said he is too fat and we need to cut back on his diet, but he only gets 2 cups of food per day and you are eating most of it. The poor dog will soon starve and you are starting to smell like a kennel. I'm worried that you will sprout fangs instead of baby teeth and it freaks me out that you growl when anyone comes near you at the dog bowl. I know this is hard to understand, but if you chew on live christmas tree lights, you will be electricuted and go to baby heaven. In summation, please note that I am aware that you have noticed Grandma Ellie's blindness. Please cut her some slack when she is babysitting. She's not that quick on her feet and the last time you shot up the stairs in 2.5 seconds she nearly had a heart attack trying to keep you safe. It is not kosher for you to make evil plots with your brother to take down the gates and escape from your poor mamaw!

Please consider this memo your first warning. If I have to give you a second or third warning I will pick up the phone immediately and call Santa and tell him everything that has been going on and you will get nothing but socks and organges for Christmas. Don't make me call him. Consider yourself warned!!