Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring Out/Ring In

Last night I dreamed that someone snuck into my bedroom while I was sleeping and put braces on my teeth. For a while, in the dream, I thought I might be dreaming, but then my mom and Cory smiled and I realized they had also been struck by the phantom orthodontist.

My day was off to a disconcerting start.
And that was even before the SOS text from Sarah, "Kimye is preggers."

The last four days in Ohio were every little thing I'd been waiting for. They were all the bait I needed to reel me into a new year. Life really does have a good heart - I had proof.

I've been a little nostalgic and contemplative - haven't we all? There's plenty of room in life for playing the dealt hand, but I'm all for tying it up with a wide band of intentionality. I enjoy giving thought to what needs to change, what needs to keep right on staying the same.

It's been challenging to keep my emotional equilibrium in the midst of all that 2012 was. We told God He could shake us and He did. We moved and stretched, we've done it on a loop, over and over. Some days this skin feels too tight. It edges us out and spooks us into doubt on a bad day, paralysis on the worst.

But we know it's good. We know it's exactly right.

So we spill our guts and we find a little space. We never turn away a sliver of relief. We ride out the hard days on a wave of truth-telling, knowing for sure that tomorrow might make us feel a little silly or overly dramatic.

With forty-eight minutes left of the year, I feel it in my bones - a corner waits. I'll turn it.

The cliff looms and Times Square is jammed to the gills. People are hurting and Billy Joel has the mic and this right here is the very best of life, all mixed up, rarely making sense, breaking our hearts and tying them down with an anchor that never lets them float too far.

Happy New Year, Friends. Let's ring it in well, and let's keep on ringing. Let's ring with the good times and over the bad.

I'm more thankful than ever for you, your friendship, your remarkable propensity for coming back. If I could, I'd hand you a kazoo or a sparkler. We'd sway to Tony Bennett and I'd kiss your cheek at the stroke of midnight.

You're the real deal, you know. Thanks for being my friend for a whole 'nother year.


ps - Be back next year with my "word"! You'll nevah, evah guess...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I Really Love...

Sleeping in a warm bed in a cold room.

Vegetable fajitas from La Fiesta.

The Blue Bird bubble necklace I won from Carissa's giveaway. Score!!

Watching my kids play in the snow {from the warmth of my parents' house}.

This song.

And this one.

Cory in his Elmer Fudd snow hat.

Gratuitous pops of orangey red.

The bright opportunity to sit still with my thoughts.

This book. (Still. It's meaty, people!)
"I am being told anew in the unmistakable language of love, 'I am with you, I am for you, I am in you. I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself."  {deep sigh}

Little kid prayers. (I'm especially hooked on my niece's today.)

My new mittens.

Me: (skyping with Keisha, holding my mittened hands up to the camera) See what Cory got me for Christmas?
Keisha: Oh...oven mitts?
Me: Crap.

It's not their fault that they look like oven mitts. I blame the claws.

They had to be custom made since the regular ladies' mittens wouldn't fit. Cory had her size his hand "then add some extra". Reportedly, the lady insisted, "These will never, ever fit your wife! They couldn't possibly fit a woman's hands!"

Oh, girl.
But bless you for thinking so.

What are you really loving today?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top It Off With Glitter Snow

Well, Christmas rocked my knee socks off.

Every year I'm surprised by how lovely the whole thing is. We opened our gifts the morning of Christmas Eve, like we always do, then I nailed my first batch of sausage gravy and biscuits. Which leads me to this: Why the heck have I waited so long? For reasons I cannot articulate, I always assumed sausage gravy was beyond my culinary skill set. Imagine my surprise in discovering there's only one skillet and three ingredients involved. It's a conspiracy, I think. A gaggle of old ladies somewhere decided to scare us all away from the gravies. And the bobbins.

We spent all day in our pajamas. Some of us took naps. I busted out the requisite Christmas Eve can of Easy Cheese and the crowd went wild.

Then, church.

I just can't get enough of our new church. There's still the lady who tells me every single week that I'm a dead ringer for her elderly sister, but what can I say? Better than being a ringer for her elderly brother.

We lit candles and I looked around at all the white curls, all the families, everything still very new to us and a little unfamiliar. Still, we're family. We're bound by our faith. We are the weary world, thrilling together at the promise of hope.

I scored a massage and a pretty Etsy necklace from Cory. He did good. The kids squealed over toys and new bathrobes and I was reminded again that that's how God wants us - like them, full of wonder, ready to receive, reflecting joy, not trying too hard, not trying at all.

Actual Christmas was spent loving all of our people. I really like reserving that day for those things - the important ones - the ones that can tend to get lost in the wrapping paper.

Christmas was the two brown-skinned babies babbling from my back seat.
It was a text message sent at 11 pm - the best text I've ever received.
It was Haven, looking so pretty beside me at the dinner table.
It was Avery, looking so cute and slobbery.
It was cousins in matching pajamas and haystacks for dinner.

Christmas was bowls of oatmeal and Silas doing the worm.
It was waiting an extra thirty minutes for a phone at the jail.
It was a skype-date with my sister; a game of trivia with my Indiana family.

Christmas was the promise of a brand new nephew, waiting for us a world away.
It was a plate of steaming tamales and empanadas delivered by new neighbors.

Christmas was Christ, the tiny baby; Christ, our every expectation and reward.

His law is love and His gospel is peace. For me, for you, for every single day of the year.

I'm resisting the urge to dismantle the tree and move on. I'm cracking up over my Pinterest feed, already clogged with gardening tips.

I feel you, garden people. I do.

But there's snow falling and I'm not quite done floating on this peace.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Silas Sings

Last night was the Christmas program for Siley's pre-school.

It was mayhem "backstage" before the show; short, excited, outbursty mayhem.

Then they all marched in wearing their Christmas colors. The girls had on taffeta bubble skirts and flouncy dresses and cable-knit tights. Silas rocked a half-zip. All afternoon I would reach over and nonchalantly unzip it just a little and sure enough, he'd zip it back up. A turtle in his shell. I get it, it's cozier that way. If there's one thing I understand, it's cozy.

My tiny little baby was so stinking cute up front. I couldn't even take it.
He kept licking his lips. Licking his lips.

We were waving like mad but he couldn't track us, so he kept scanning the room, licking those puckery-perfect lips.

A tiny piece of my heart chipped off while his eyes tried to find us. You don't even want to know how close I came to making a scene, because this boy needed to find us. I remembered all the days he looked at us without seeing us and now we're his and he's ours and I needed him to be sure that we were there, yelling just for him.

In the meantime, he licked.
Over and over and over.

I chapped just watching him.

He sang every song and did all the motions. I only had eyes for him.

I don't know how he has transformed into this tiny little man who follows directions and participates like it's his job in life. I think it has something to do with the ladies who choose every day to put on cardigans and cute shoes and go to their job, where very short people race around in circles and tell them nonsense.

And God. I think the transformation has something to do with Him, too.

Sidenote: Silas was gifted with a trial-size gift pack of watermelon-scented Thomas the Train personal hygiene products. He took the bottle of bright red "hair gel" for show-and-tell yesterday. His teacher let him put some in his hair for a demonstration to his classmates.

The Candy Land castle in Heaven is reserved for these women and those like them. Of that I am certain.

Silas rocked the big costume change whilst simultaneously singing and licking his lips.

It pinched my heart up.

I'm the one who gets to hold his hand on every sidewalk. He asks me to scratch his back and "squish" his ears (it's a long story). He asks me every single night "Will you get me after morning?" even though he gets himself up "after morning" and we all darn well know it.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm the luckiest Mom in the land. I'll be honest, watching all those cute Christmas kiddos, I felt sort of bad for all of the other Mamas who don't know the distinct privilege of being Silas's Mommy. He's just the stinking cutest. You understand.

He's wild and wiry and yes, tonight he identified the animals in the nativity as "the moose and the duck", but he's full-on Martin. One of us. He's come so far and sometimes I just need to sit with that thought and let it sink down a little deeper.

Love you Silas. So super proud of you and your fancy singing show.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Robert Update

This time around, when he walks into the courtroom in his "blues", his hands shackled at his waist, he doesn't look so strange to me. He's not a foreigner like he was last time.

His chin is up, his eyes vibrant. I catch that flash of bright white teeth and my heart is full of the best of all there is. He's right here in front of us, no grainy screen, no crackly phone. He's here, the frame of a man carting around the heart of a child. He's steady and sure, deep breaths and an easy smile.

But his future dangles and I know his palms are wet.

We sit in the front row, the only kin for him, the only kin for anyone in the room. I'm nervous for him, proud of him, scared to death for him.

The Judge peers down over his frown, grumbles and grunts.

Robert stands. He speaks from his heart, quiet but clear. He speaks some of his truth and there's no more time for pride. Each word drips humility and he asks for a second chance. I never got a ball game with this one. There's never been a school play or a science fair. Can I jump up and cheer for this?

Judge pounds his fist on the stand. He knows what he did. He's heard it all before and he's sick to death of words. He's looking at the boy who I watched crazy-braid the hair of a disabled three-year old, teasing her while he worked, making her giggle while he made her even cuter. He's looking at the kid who put the neighbor kids on the bus for their first day of school because their mom didn't come home that morning. "I told 'em to have fun and listen to their teacher."  He took their picture on the sidewalk with his flip phone and they ran kid-screaming to him at the end of the day so he picked them each up and twirled them around. This is who the Judge looks down at, but all he sees is a thug, so he screams "You had a second chance!" and smacks the stand again.

Oh, I'd been praying. But this is the moment my prayers get desperate.

10 years. True, he's young, but the court doesn't care. And yes, the judge read our letter, but he doesn't give a rip and how foolish can we really be?

10 years. This can't be right.

3 years in prison. 4 on house arrest. 4 probation.

I don't understand. The judge mumbles. His face is mean. I dig my nails into Cory's leg. Robert looks at his public defender and this was not what we were hoping for, was it? Is this right? Because my heart is breaking and I was praying for mercy.

The gavel bangs and here it is. It's the future now and my eyes sting.

Robert's face gives nothing away. He stands, turns around, gives us one more look that I'll spend hours decoding.

I knew I wouldn't cry, so why am I sobbing in my car? I call my mom and cry my eyes out, then cry harder when she cries, too.

Our company comes over so I forget about it for a while and eat beef tacos and pumpkin roll.

We tuck the kids into bed and Cory heads out for the jail while I stay home, knowing there's a reason, trying to make sense of things, forcing out thoughts of that documentary I watched about prison gangs, counting the minutes until Cory comes home and repeats every single word that was said.

I should know by now that I get a lot of this stuff dead wrong. It should have at least crossed my mind that Robert thinks the news is good.

This child who raised himself, who never believed in God, who knew abandonment more than security, abuse more than love, this child knows mercy when he sees it. He understands justice and its worth. (He also knows more about the system than we do, so he knows that 3 years is actually more like 18 months.)

He has chosen, once again, to fling himself recklessly into the heart of God, a place he's just now getting to know. It could be much worse and the truth is, he's a hopeless optimist, so he smiles and laughs and jokes with Cory about his "Mom" (that'd be me) sitting at home crying for her big kid. He says to tell me not to worry. It's gonna be alright.

Who knows where he'll go when they take him, but he's sure we'll come along. He's let himself believe us.

This boy teaches me all over again about unconditional love and my fundamental need for grace. He reminds me that my worst moment doesn't define me. He shows me how to bend low to rise above.

He's ours. We're his.

In it to the end.

Bright-smiling thankful every single hour for the gift of all he is.

Monday, December 17, 2012

MSM - First Smile of the Day

Big Buddy was home from school today with a mouth full of canker sores (a side effect of a new med) and general, "I'm not feeling myself today." He has hardly spoken or eaten all week long.

We spent 5 hours this morning getting from home to the doctor and back again.
There were 2 needles.
There were tears.

Fast forward to 2:32. Sister came home from school and commenced with stuffed animal potty jokes. Her specialty!

Calvin: "Mommy, I feel so much happier now that Ruby came back! She's the best sister ever. She always cheers me up. I would never want a different girl than this girl."

The codeine may have helped, but I'm putting my money, as always and forevermore, on our Girl.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beautiful Grief (Part II)

I shouldn't be surprised when so many of you say you know this heaviness. There shouldn't be that spark of suddenly, finally, feeling known. It should be clear to me by now that this is the condition of humanity. This pain is as real as sun on our cheeks, as real as moonlight filtering low through a December night.

So why do we let ourselves feel alone? Why do we lie and say no one would understand when really, really, we all do?

It's Christmas and we were not made for this world. We weren't made for the lights or the crack bark or the horse ribbon tree. Those things can't complete us, perfect us, transform us into people with lives that never bend at unnatural angles.

Here we are, down on uneven dirt, clawing for a glimpse of glory through a broken pane.

Just like that, we find one. We look past the cracks and the smudges and we see the baby face of freedom. We memorize Him, love Him, pray to want more of Him.

We're captivated only by Him.

His light falls around us, reflects off of us, and we reach out and grab hold of it like a hand.

This is why the days feel dark when the rest of the world says they shouldn't. We're homesick. We know a shoddy replacement when we see one.

Turn to the side and catch His light. Turn to the side and reflect His light onto someone hiding heart-shattered in the shadows.

This is the reason for the season.

The rest is just decoration.

all the times i tried
all the times we cried
all the times i laid bare everything i had inside
all the times love scared you off you ran away to hide
couldnt break away from fear couldnt crush your pride
I cant bare to face the fact that my

best friend has died
people stop to tell me i'll see you on the other side
that doesnt stop the bleeding of my tear stained eyes
in the end i guess it really comes as no surprise
this world is full of loss and grey clouds in the skies
trying to sift out truth from all the lies
thoughts of hopelesness say theres nothing left in life
my ticket isnt up yet so i know i will survive
sitting down and looking up hoping my time flies
- Jesse B, 2012

We stood at the edge of the world for an hour,
roaring and crying out louder than the waves.
We shouted and sobbed,
pummeling Heaven's door with our questions and anger.

The prayers of the saints
were hands holding us up against this broken life,
though we couldn't see them at the time.
The wild rebellion is all around us,
but I've been told there's hope as well.

Lord God, amid this burning wreckage of a world,
soothe our mangled hearts with a word of life.
What balm is there to heal this wound?
Only God knows.

And the waves and rain kept coming as we stood,
graciously accepting our screams and pulling them out to sea.
What hope there is for us
rests in God's hands, and in knowing
that this bloodied life is temporary,
but the paradise of heaven is eternal.
- Shoshana L, 2012

*Both of the above poems were written this month by people whom I love. Shoshana and Jesse tragically lost their brother just one month ago. I have watched in awe as they have spun redemptive, truthful, piercing, raw beauty from their battered hearts. Every day, they lift one another up and through puffy eyes, remind eachother of all of the truths that won't ever change, even when nothing makes sense anymore. It is with their permission that I share their tear-soaked art. We hope someone out there feels just a little less alone tonight.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When The World Sparkles While Your Heart Breaks - Part I

My fingertips wrinkle in the suds and I'm emptied out. That's when it hits me, when the pain seems too close, too heavy, much too far away to touch. It happens at the kitchen sink, in the slow-slipping light of late afternoon, in the fuss of children and the chore of homework. It happens with dinner in the oven - the one I thought for sure would break me. The one that had me daydreaming fried chicken legs in a paper bucket.

Out my spotted window the grass gives up, too, jaundice creeping up its tips in broad day when it should be safely hidden under snow.

The house I see has boards in place of windows and a busted up foundation. My hands drip soapy and I look again, consider it all one more time. The vacant house seems right, somehow. I wonder if we're twins.

The tree is up. It's cheery. But it doesn't cheer me tonight. It's too bright, too distracting. Maybe tomorrow I'll love it again. But not today.

Today there are people I would fight for trying desperately to piece together a life where loss and redemption can both have a home.

Today I lost a person I was never brave enough to love.

Today I'm a mom too tired for this tough parenting gig.

Today my friend sends tear-stained text messages and I follow suit.

Today my child is sick and no one can help him get better.

Today jail turned to prison.

I lean one bowl against another, the towel soaked through. I keep washing, my hands going through the motions while my heart seems to exhale. Everything is not okay. It's one thing to find the silver lining, but some moments were reserved for hard truths.

I wonder about the boarded up house - our closest neighbor - and I know I'd be fine if it never went away. I might prefer it that way. Because this is the world we live in, where things hurt too hard and we fall asleep on a damp pillow too many nights in a row.

Maybe it doesn't have to be pretty to be beautiful.

I step back from my hurt and notice again that most of it isn't even mine. These are contact burns.

These tears, the too-long nights, the panicked pleas, all evidence of gifts I have been given.

I'd never make that trade.

The sink drains and the kids don't have a clue. They just want to watch Wild Kratts. They pull me out in a way that only they can do. The tree still doesn't cheer me, but it does brighten the room.

And though I know I can't fix a single thing, the truth pierces me - it's my high honor to walk through this season with a heart that leans heavy.

This pain is the purest gift, bestowed by hearts and hands who have chosen me.

I'll spend parts of every day sucking up the glitzy, sugar-frosted joy of this season, knowing very well that their trees may have never made it up. I'll spend parts of every day begging for their freedom.

I think fudge balls and mistletoe are not high on their priority list and I'm sure they feel a little lost in the glare. But Christmas is theirs, too. Maybe it's especially for them. No, I'm sure it is. Because Emmanuel came. He came to walk in my pain and in theirs. In yours. He came to see it for Himself, to touch it, to redeem it and call it beautiful. He came to be with us and even when it seemed like He left, He didn't.

God is with us.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Horse Ribbon Tree and DIY Magazine Garland

Christmas makes me weird. Er.

Every year I feel a little wonkiness coming on and it usually takes me by surprise, but this year, I'm on to it. It's the Most! Haphazard time! Of the year!

The thing is this: there's been a lot of heavy stuff going down over the past month. It's been a doozy. A head-scratcher. A heart-breaker.

So just imagine combining a pile-up of regular life grit with an intense desire for merrymaking and you'll find me right there in the epicenter of the mess. I'll be the one in the sweatpants and glitter make-up.

I was extra excited and motivated to get my bling on this year because 1) I wanted to inaugurate our new house and 2) I had my wreath party to consider. No one wants a wreath party devoid of festivity. So, I got to work. There was very little planning involved, per usual.

Just like Edie, I never decorate the tree the same from year to year. It's an illness. An affliction. And it's actually a bit strange to me, because I'm not a super seasonal kind of girl. I don't enjoy switching things out by the season. I do not rearrange my furniture - to a fault. There it is, my biggest fault: I'm lackadaisical with regard to the placement of home furnishings. (I'll have to remember that should I ever interview for a job again.)

When we were first married I was sure I'd have the Martha Stewart Live! producers banging down my ghetto apartment door over my tree. Picture it: Wired ribbon bows (in an unfortunate shade of green that rendered them nearly invisible) and individual ivory silk flower petals, dismembered and strung by hand.

Then I discovered ebay and Shiny Brites.

There was the pom pom fringe garland year.

The bird year.

And let us not forget the legendary Newspaper Tree year(s).

This year I wanted color in droves. I wanted to overdo it. It's an "anything goes" kind of year.

The most fundamentally important thing is to string it the heck up with lots of lights. I'm talking like 500 lights. Is that a lot? Too much? Maybe not, but it always feels a bit high-maintenance right out of the gate.

I'm a big, fat believer in garland. This year it's a simple blue grosgrain faux-pick-stitched ribbon found for $1 a spool at Michaels.

We threw on loads of the vintage ornaments, the glitter initials, the stencils and house numbers circa Newspaper Tree and the surviving twig stars.

It didn't make my heart race.

So I added the birds.

Blood pressure still stable. What the heck?

Days later it hit me: vintage fair ribbons! Totally duh. I bought them years ago and had never even taken them out of the package. Game changer alert!

My heart raced.

So this is it: My ribbon tree. I wanted color and whimsy and sparkle and she delivered. Did she ever. I might honor charm her with some crack bark. Right this very second.

Is this post too long?

Do I have pretzels in my teeth?

I feel like I should split this up into two posts, but right now, I'm feeling it, baby. I haven't said a word since Monday. You had your break! So go get re-hydrated and meet me back here in five because I need to tell you about my garlands.


So, the garlands. I totally thought I invented them. All I knew was that the tapestry curtains + Christmas = a migraine headache. I needed a little serenity to work with. Not too much. I'm no serenity hog. Just enough.

So I flung the tapestries down. Just for a season.

Silas was scandalized. Then intrigued. Then too busy jousting with the curtain rods to give a rip.

I strung more dollar ribbon across the existing curtain rod brackets then used the twisty ties from the Christmas lights to string up some faux greenery, also from Michaels.

I knew the ribbon wouldn't be enough, so I did what any sane girl would do and I bought an extra-large scalloped square paper punch.

My heart punch has served me so well over the years. (See here, here, and here.) So well, in fact, that I am now addicted to seasonal magazine punching. It just has to be done. It's recycling at its finest, people! It's therapeutic!

I daresay a paper punch of almost any shape will be the most utilitarian tool you'll ever own. Spoon? Very funny. Hammer? You can't be serious. Paper punch. Say it with me: "Paper Punch!"

I punched a gazillion squares. Garnet Hill and Fossil were particularly pleasant to work with.

Then I pulled out my sewing machine and stitched a line right down their middles.

The bobbin ran out and I filled it like the pro that I certainly am not. The magazine garland was meant to be.

It's so happy on my windows.  So very happy with my horse ribbon tree. It's also random, because while I took care in punching "pretty" squares, I didn't take into account that they would shift around, often exposing their bad side. As it turns out, it works for me. I like the surprise factor.

A solid week after the whole arrangement was completed I opened the Better Homes and Gardens mag I had been hoarding for a quiet evening only to find that Maria actually invented the idea. Her ribbon garlands are meticulous and sophisticated and utterly gorgeous in that perfectly Maria way. We even used similar color schemes. Cory and I cracked up. One more grand-slam invention down the tubes. Now I know how Al Gore feels. It hurts, man.

 There you have it. All my ribbons, exposed for all the world.

Or at least for you.

Tomorrow I might start wrapping some gifts. Raise your hand if you think Silas will tear them open immediately.

(And the crowd goes wild...)

I hope your Christmas season is off to a cozy start. I hope your teeth are already sugary and you find yourself contemplating "God with us" while you're blow-drying your hair.

'Tis the season, friends.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Money Shot Monday: Cocoa Dog

We spent the morning with a cute little friend, deciphering baby gibberish and decoding the mysteries of cloth diapers.

We spent the evening (Cory and I) eating dinner at one of those Amish "restaurants" where you sit at long tables in the basement of an Amish home and eat roast beef and noodles and homemade bread with jam off Corelleware plates, circa 1980.

It was a good day.

But my Money happened right in the middle, sharing cups of cocoa and cinnamon toast with my three favorite short people. Calvin told jokes, "What do you call a 3 ducks in a box? A box of quackers!" Ruby said the cocoa tasted like hot dogs and  drank it anyway.

The first real flakes of snow fell fat to the ground and we all knew we were lucky.

Right now the days feel both long and short. There's a lot to do and no desire to do it.

Moments like these are my grounding force. These faces chase my blues away even as they're causing them. They're a wonder, a  miracle. They're all I ever wanted.

How 'bout you?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wreath Party at My Place!

A few weeks ago, something came upon me and I knew for sure: I needed to host a wreath-making party. With snacks. I was feeling extra festive. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Then I almost forgot to mail the invites.

Then I got sick and had to reschedule.

Then I forgot to buy all of the supplies until it was almost too late.

But parties have their way of persevering in the face of tragedy and unsuitable hostesses.

Today was the day!

Warning: If I ever invite you to a party, you'll show up and the drinks won't be made, the table won't be covered, the supplies will still be in plastic bags. I'll hand you limes and yell, "Cut!" I'll hand you a wisk and shout, "Stir the cocoa, Sucker!"

It's just the nature of this beast. I'm great at planning; not so much at execution. Also, I'm prone to over-commiting and not giving myself ample time to prepare.

I fly. By the seat of my pants.

And yours.

I lit a festive candle, threw piles of paperwork who-knows-where (where did I put the piles? I think they were important...)

We had lots of snacks (including crack bark) and this homemade cocoa. Some of us may have had a Jolly Gin Fizz. Or two.

Then we got to work on our yarn-wrapped wreaths.

It took a lot of wrapping, man.

We wrapped and wrapped then we went ahead and wrapped. We started off all fidgety about smooth rows, but one-by-one, caution was thrown to the wind. I had to fight my inborn urge to over-think color selection, stripe-width and the like. (When you have 10 of your favorite people over and you don't even save time to gloss your lips, you find ways to overcompensate.)

In the end, there was no wrong way.

We took breaks, but only for snacking. We chatted UP. There were hot glue wounds and many tangled knots to contend with. But we soldiered on.

 Finally, we got to the +*BLING*+!!

 I loved that everyone came up with something different from the same pile of stuff.

See for yourself:









Here's mine!
Move over, Creep Babies!
Love you forever, Creep Babies.
The deer doesn't hold a candle...

I had a blast. It felt good to have so many of my Loves here in my kitchen. I'm not a "perfect" party planner and no one expected me to be. Bing Crosby sang us through our paces, laid-back and easy.

So much fun. And I totally love my wreath.