Even wearing a onesie from head to toe didn't provide enough heat to keep my gangsters warm on some of our Rexburrrrrg nights, so I sewed rice bags that my little Ice Cubes could warm up in the microwave each night and then put in their beds.
Charlie was especially enamored with his rice bag and carried it with him everywhere he went.
He held it out to me proudly and said, "This is my bean bag."
I nodded and said, "Well, it's like a bean bag, but it actually has rice in it."
He gave me a steady stare and said, "Rice is beans."
And thus a new family expression was born. On any given day, at any time, you'll hear one of us say, "Rice is beans."
And sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll hear us substitute a different word for "rice" because, according to Charlie's logic, anything can be beans.
For example: "Pizza is beans" (while the kids are eating their Friday night dinner). Or if I ask Eric to please help Charlie put on his shoes, I might hear Eric say, "Shoes is beans."
It really has become a universal expression and I highly recommend it.
Ohhhhh, Christmas Tree (of Doom)
Since our first Idaho Christmas twelve years ago, each year on the first Monday night in December we make the trek to a local nursery to "hunt" for the d'Evegnée Family Christmas Tree. Each year, we've talked about making a real trek into our Idaho forests to actually "hunt" for a tree, but each year I pooh-pooh the idea because of my anxiety about one of the kids getting maimed by the saw or catching hypothermia. (Those 4-H videos from the days of my Idaho youth certainly succeeded in teaching me about the dangers of hypothermia, but I don't think their goal was to scare me away from ever wanting to be outside in the winter with my kids!)
This year, Eric begged me to let him hunt for his own fresh tree out in the wild. I was reluctant until he told me he had "called the Park Ranger." I was so pleased by the idea of my Connecticut Yankee calling a Park Ranger that I couldn't stop laughing the rest of the day. I never pictured my sweet professor striking up a conversation with an actual Park Ranger.
I had to give in. I told him that he could take the four "Olders" to get the tree and that I would keep the three "Littles" at home with me.
While I made dinner and got out ornaments and strings of garlands, my four Mountain Men and one Mountain Lady braved the weather and the snow and the ice and drove up past Mesa Falls to find the tree of Eric's dreams. When they returned, I knew something had gone terribly wrong when the four kids were wearing plastic grins the size of the forest. Even though Eric was clearly limping, he didn't want to rehearse the gory details of their trek until after the kids were onesied, rice-bagged, and bedded.
While on their adventure, our minivan had gotten stuck in the snow just in front of a grove of tall pines. Since Holden has his learner's permit, Eric told him to get in the car while Eric pushed the car from the front. I won't give all of the details, but the short version is that the car lurched forward and threw Eric backwards and into the trunks of the trees, causing him to be painfully pinned on his back between the car and the trees while the engine was still revving. By the time the car was put in reverse and rolled off of Eric, he miraculously emerged with only cracked ribs and a severely sprained back. We are aware that it could have been much, much worse and that he was protected by unseen forces.
When he dragged himself into class the next day, his students gasped at the way he was carrying his broken body, and one of them said, "What happened to you?? Did you get hit by a car or something?"
Poor Eric limped through the rest of December, only surviving through the grace of daily muscle relaxers and ibuprofen.
The Gift of the Charli
A couple of weeks before Christmas, Charlie was overcome by the Christmas Spirit and I found him gathering up his favorite used items from the kitchen and his bedroom so that he could give them to his favorite cousin, Matthew, for a Christmas present. He wanted to put all of his treasures in an empty fruit snacks box, so he packed up the broken pieces of toys, papers from preschool, and other random crayons and stickers. It was so cute to witness his innocent excitement that I couldn't resist taking him to the post office to ship the package of hand-me-downs to Ohio for his cousin.
The Final Finale
During December I'm always forced to juggle my Christmas preparations along with the grading of research Essays. The day before the final, I received this email from a student:
"I do not feel good what so ever. My stomach is not a happy camper right now and I spent most of my time revising my essay in the bathroom if you get what I mean."
I didn't want to be the only one with this festively fecal image dancing in my head! I'm so grateful right now that I taught my composition students about the power of vivid description. (And I decided to grade his essay with rubber gloves on.)
Sometimes when you're splashing around in waves of research essays, it makes you feel heaps better to let your blue-eyed boy go to preschool in his Emperor cloak you sewed during less word-laden days. And then, just because you can, you march with gusto to the preschool door while holding your sweet sith's tiny hand and belting out the du-duh-duhs of Darth Vadar's theme song.
The Main Event
A major portion of my December was spent helping to organize a community fundraiser to raise funds for Syrian Refugees with a group of my like-minded friends here in Rexburg. I decided that having an "Event" would help me check off the first on my rather lengthy list of steps that must be taken in order to reach my ultimate goal of becoming one of the reality TV celebrities on Real Housewives of New York City. I may not have a face full of botox or wear evening gowns to clean my toilets, or have a head full of hair-extensions, but I can organize an "Event!" Step one complete.
Rather than creating and designing neighbor gifts this year, our family designed a logo for our organization (Rexburg Relief), and also created fliers to be distributed to our community to advertise the fundraiser. We also designed and cut out ornaments with the faces of refugee children for the Giving Tree and dipped about 250 cookies in chocolate and sprinkled them with crushed-up candy canes for refreshments for the Event.
After two group meetings and over 1500 Facebook messages (that's not an exaggeration), my friends and I threw a shindig that any of the Real Housewives would have pulled out each others weaves over. We ended up raising almost $2500 dollars in cash and folks from the community donated 40 bags of new and used items, including about 30 baby carriers.
My small army of elves also committed to share part of their Christmas with refugee children, which meant that we shared not only our time but our Christmas with those kids this year. It was sweet to watch the whole family get so cheerfully involved.
I was impressed as I watched my sweet seven on the day of the event as they helped to set up, clean up, and run the ornament-making station where they helped other children at the fundraiser make hand-shaped ornaments on which they wrote down an amount of money they would donate to refugee children.
These two little darlings were singing songs about Christmas wishes and missing teeth in tandem this year. Marie and her friend, Lucy Gilbert, both agree that it's comforting to have a best friend with whom to share Chistmath! (We also love that our dear Gilberts live close enough to celebrate even the littlest of little things with us again!)
Marie produced our favorite festive one-liner this year when she was pondering her Christmas loot on our late and lazy Christmas morning. As she was eating her Christmas Breakfast, she paused between bites and said reflectively, "The only problem with my new Just Dance game is that I like to free-style."
In fact, Charlie loved his Spiderman Pajamas (which he called a "sweater" for some reason) so much that after their trial sleep run on Christmas Eve, his blue eyes sparkled happily when he said, "I like this sweater. I want to wear it all on the time on all the days."
May the Christmas Spirit be with you.
My cute Mamacita posing with her spoils after our annual family white elephant extravaganza. I was hip-hip-hooraying that she was the recipient of my one-of-a-kind creation. Now I need to make a hat and shirt like this for myself!
My gorgeous niece, who is borrowing the royal ensemble from Grandma so she can wear it for cold morning runs and skiing. She promised me she'd send me a photo, so stay tuned! Would it be insensitive if I say it will be her morning Alder-run?