Month: December 2011

Book Review: The Magic Room

The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters. I couldn’t wait to read it! Inside the jacket flap reads, “An intimate look at a small-town bridal shop, its multigenerational female owners, and the love between parents and daughters during one of life’s most emotional transitions.” Written by Jeffrey Zaslow – a man. I’ll admit that I wondered what kind of insight this guy would have about women. But the author is a father of three daughters, and it seems that giving your daughter away at her wedding is traditionally the quintessential Dad moment. It’s the idea most people articulate when they learn my husband is the father of three daughters (but not, interestingly, when they learn I’m the mom of three daughters). “That’s three weddings!” they say to him. But that’s not what we say to our girls. We try to steer clear of hedging our hopes for them with, “when you get married,” or “when you’re a mom,” as if it’s expected. And our response is usually, “We’re not worried about paying for three weddings, but three college educations!” (The education is expected.)

It turns out, the idea of NOT getting married is gaining popularity, which is the kind of fact Zaslow weaves throughout the personal and emotional stories of a few brides to provide perspective on families, marriage and our culture over the past 75 years or so as seen before the backdrop of Becker’s Bridal in Fowler, Michigan.

I really fell in love with this book. There’s nothing quite so powerful as a parent’s love for their child. It touches all of us. We are shaped by the love our parents gave us – whether it was expressed in abundance or not at all. Each bride that stood in a gown on that pedestal in The Magic Room at Becker’s Bridal contemplated this as did every teary-eyed parent looking on. Would the man they are marrying be able to love them this way, too? As I read, I couldn’t help but think of my wedding dress – the first one – and how it was made with love by my mother.

Mom and Me

Yes, I’ve been married twice. And if there is one criticism I have of this book it’s the sting of judgment I felt toward second (or third or fourth) marriages and women who were parents before they were brides – as if, maybe, they weren’t deserving of a beautiful, white dress. Perhaps that feeling is there because this book is about what we wish for our daughters and no one wishes the pain of divorce or the pressure of societal disapproval on their child. If you weren’t a traditional bride, that subtle shame-on-you vibe may sour the otherwise sweet love stories chronicled in The Magic Room. Still, they are moving and worthwhile to read. So is the story of Shelley, the fourth generation owner of Becker’s Bridal who has measured the pulse of our society by the flow of brides in and out of her doors over so many years.

I’d recommend this book to any parent. I’ve asked my husband to read it. Though we don’t expect it, the fact is that one day each of our daughters will likely choose someone to give their heart to – someone that will become the family they identify with. And I think this book offers great inspiration to parents on being their child’s first and lasting love.

Oh, P.S. Just so you know, I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

I hope Santa made it to your house this year.

Christmas Card Photo 2011

Merry Christmas!

Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beatloaf. I hate meatloaf.

Dave often asks, “What’s for dinner?” and at least once every other week I say, “Meatloaf.”

He asks, “What kind is it? It’s All Coming Back to Me Now Meatloaf? You know, the kind that gives you heartburn? Or is it Eat ’em and Weep? With extra onions.”

And then, he sings, “I want you. I need you. But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna eat you…”

Also, “I would do anything for love, oh I would do anything for loooove, oh I would do anything for love, but I won’t eat that.”

Then he sings “Paradise by the Oven Light.

All the while, I roll my eyes and accuse him of hating my meatloaf.

Last night, because my usual meatloaf dish was in use, I used a smaller one. This was a bad idea because while it was cooking some grease spilled over the side and into my hot oven which produced an enormous amount of smoke and that triggered the smoke alarms. This woke Dave from sleep and gave him the opportunity he has been waiting for our entire marriage.

“I guess that one’s your Bat Out of Hell Meatloaf, huh?”

This is why I love hanging out with Lucy.

Lucy: “You know the hanging down part of your ears that’s flat? Those things are crazy. Right?”

Me: “You mean your ear lobes?”

Lucy: “Yeah. What are they even for?”

Me: “Well, they’re for- I don’t really know.”

Lucy: “How did they get there?”

Me: “You were born with them. So was Julia and Phoebe and Daddy and me. I can’t think of anyone I’ve met that didn’t have earlobes. I’m pretty sure everyone has them.”

Lucy: “But what do they do?”

Me: “I guess they just hang there.”

Lucy: “That’s crazy.”

I think we nailed the Christmas Card photo.

I’m not going to post it, though. Not until Christmas. For now, here are some shots that didn’t make the cut.

Christmas Card Outtake - Lucy

Man, I wish I had a better camera.

Christmas Card Outtake - Julia

And was a better photographer.

Christmas Card Outtake - Phoebe

Also, that Phoebe wasn’t terrified of Santa.

*Are you on my Christmas card list? Do you want to be? Let me know.

For the joy of human love*

I try not to share gifts I give here unless they’ve already been given. I have learned over time that I shouldn’t assume someone doesn’t read my blog. (Likewise, I shouldn’t assume they do.) Also, you never know when something – like a toddler with chocolate pudding hands – will completely change your plans. But in this case, I simply cannot wait to show you what we’re giving our piano teacher Mr. Palmer for Christmas.

Vintage Hymnal Wreath

It’s a wreath I made from sheet music.

I fell in love with SusieJ’s sheet music wreath when I saw it and knew I had to make one for Mr. Palmer.

Vintage Hymnal Wreath - center

This one is made from a vintage hymnal. We have many of them tucked away in the attic from our years of service as a pastoral family, but this one had long lived in our piano bench. It came from our home church, Brush Valley, where I was baptized more than 25 years ago – and it was old then.

I’d considered copying the pages and using the fresh sheets for the project. I’m so glad I didn’t. You can’t manufacture that old hymnal scent or the brittle texture of the worn pages, yellowed by time. It’s really the authenticity of the materials that give this wreath a special quality that makes it just right for Mr. Palmer.

Vintage Hymnal Wreath - edge

I’m not sure what Mr. Palmer’s favorite hymns are, so I handpicked many of mine. It isn’t likely that anyone will stand and read each song title on this wreath, but they’ll likely catch glimpses of words, so I chose hymns with uplifting words like blessings, promises, faith and glory and steered away from ones like blood, sin, lost and died. For the Beauty of the Earth* is top center.

Vintage Hymnal Wreath for Mr. Palmer

And now, I’m in the mood to go to an old-fashioned hymn sing.

She does this every day.

Hey Phoebe.

Phoebe in the drawer

Whatcha doin?

Phoebe in the drawer playing

Ah, cups.


Yeah, they’re pretty awesome.

It’s the little things, huh?

Phoebe in the drawer smiling


I owe y’all some haiku.

Remember this? I’m finally making good on it. It took a week and a half, but that’s how long it takes me to go from the panicked, “What was I thinking?!?! There’s no way I can write a haiku good enough! It has to be perfect!” to “Oh, screw it. I’m just going to write something.”

I guess that was the long version of, “I’m not worthy!”

And now, haiku for you.

For Veronica:

A fearless writer,
newlywed and mom of two.
I read all she writes.

For Tami:

Tami with an i
I may not know you, but I
appreciate you.

For Calliope:

I’ve followed you from
single to married to mom
old blog to new one

For Luisa:

She lives/blogs in Spain
our view may be different
but our thoughts, alike

For Nicole:

I buckle my girls
into their car seats and think
of Nicole’s advice

For Chris H:

She writes a weblog
in the truest sense. It’s like
reading a journal.

For Lola (in response to her comment):

I am a mother
from a world of sticky beasts
I give you haiku!

For Kelly:

She writes in haiku
(some of my favorite ones)
makes it look easy

For Lynn:

She’s got two cute kids,
one sweet wife and, honestly,
the sexiest calves.

Letters to Santa

After the breakfast dishes were cleared yesterday, we all took pen in hand and wrote letters to Santa.

Julia composed hers quickly since she’d already written a version of it for school.

Julia's letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I’v been good. So may you please get me these things for Christmas.

a figit friend,
a mini piano
a kitten – a alive one
the Fate game on my D.S.
a beautiful dress
A HUGE STUFFED ANIMAL – as big as our room
another game for my D.S.

I also want you to give presents to people all over the world

(especially the people I love)



Lucy dictated her letter to me until she was ready to list her present requests. Then, she wanted to make it personal. (Although she did divulge to Julia that she was offering Santa a warm meal at our house if he’d bring her what she wanted. She never did say what she wanted. Silly futile writing exercise!!!)

Lucy's letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Lucy is good. Mommy is good. Daddy is good. Phoebe is good. Julia is good. Grandma is good. Grandpa is good. Picasso is good. All of the kitty cats outside are good. Frogs are good.

[She decided to write the rest herself.]



Phoebe isn’t old enough to write. Dave and I worked together to compose what she communicated to us telepathically.

Phoebe's letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Even though I have only been alive a short time, this will be my second Christmas. I’ve been very good, all things considered. Mom might tell you I bite, but only when provoked. Or annoyed. Or hungry or sleepy. Mostly, I am Very Good. I think I have earned the following rewards:

A bee pillow pet
Access to the top bunk
Freedom from my high chair and car seat
Dominion over the remote control
More teeth (not for biting people)



I composed a quick, light-hearted note. (I realize that the redacted portion makes it look like I’m doing something illegal.) (I’m not doing anything illegal.)

My letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

It’s been a while since I’ve written to you. Last time, I asked for Guitar Hero and you came through on that one so, thank you for that.

I’ve been pretty good this year. I haven’t accumulated any new debt, I’m working hard [redacted] to contribute to our income and though Lucy did crack her head open, she is alive as are my other children which I think is pretty good. They use their manners and don’t bite people outside our family and I think that’s all you can really ask for when it comes to kids.

This year, I’d like a few things, if you don’t mind. I’ll list them now.

*Origami Paper
* A Crayola crayon maker
* Hair cuts and eyebrow waxing every six weeks, all year
*Lucy to get potty trained already
* A food processor
* A new camera (a good one)

The truth is, I mostly just want my family to get all the things they want this year. They’re pretty good people most of the time.

Thanks Santa,


We often joke that Dave is the better half of our duo. Here’s some proof.

Dave's letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

All I truly want for Christmas is for my children to be happy. I wish that they will not lose sight of what makes the holidays important. I wish that they will be humble and that they never take for granted the gifts that they receive. I wish good health to my family and friends and good fortune to those in need. I wish that no matter how difficult things get in life that we will always remain strong as a family. I wish my children to be courteous and kind, and for my quick temper to cease. I wish for confidence for myself, my wife and my kids – so that we may make strong decisions. I wish that I will always be able to provide for my family and give them everything they need. I wish for the continued relationship with my wife, one that continues to bring fantastic joy into my life but also makes everyone in town supremely jealous. We have that kinda love.

I know these wishes aren’t of the physical variety that you are so accustomed to, but I have more than enough of those things. I just want my children to grow strong, healthy and smart – and to be the kind of parent they can be proud of.

Keep up the good work!

David a.k.a. Daddy

Kiss ass.

Counting Down to Christmas

Christmas is a time of unbridled joy. And yeah, that sounds good, but the unbridled joy of three small children is actually quite dangerous to an average house and its sleep-deprived and weary keeper. I find a Christmas countdown is a great way to rein in the happiness so as not to explode one’s eyeballs. Or one’s father’s eardrums. It also helps us keep our focus on our family and what’s really most important to us. And so, this year, mostly because I had to go and buy a Crock Pot that I hadn’t budgeted for, I set out to create a Christmas Countdown that would cost us no money to make or do.

I folded 24 squares of Christmas wrap from last year’s scraps into envelopes like this.

Christmas Countdown Envelopes

I numbered them from 1 to 24.

Christmas Countdown Day 1

And inside, I wrote some fun Christmas things to do like Decorate a family member like a Christmas tree, and Sing Christmas carols by candlelight, and Write The Grimmett’s 12 Days of Christmas.

Make paper snowflakes!

They’re residing in a stocking on our mantel.

The mantel

We began last night by making paper snowflakes (with the help of this video). Tonight, we will play Christmas Pictionary. We will continue to open one envelope each day at dinner and take part in the activity listed until Christmas, thus keeping all eyeballs and eardrums in tact.

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