Christmas by candlelight

Last night was the Christmas candlelight service at our church. I hadn’t been feeling so great all day but really wanted to go, so the husband, the oyster and I laid around all day (accompanied by Harry Potter and a few mugs of tea) to save up our energies.

The husband and I don’t put the little oyster into the church nursery on Sundays for a few reasons but we had decided that we would put her into the nursery for the Christmas service. Since she doesn’t walk on her own yet, the husband dropped her off in the 0-1 year old room, where she was easily the biggest guest but also the most interactive. 🙂 When we picked her up immediately after the service ended, she was the last tyke in the room, sitting in the middle of the nursery and singing at the top of her lungs to the nursery volunteers. It seemed like a good time had been had by all.

And the husband and I had certainly enjoyed the service upstairs. Our church did the service by (mostly) candlelight, and in the Lessons and Carols format that was made popular in 19th century England. Just the right mix of choir and congregational singing, although it seemed that the congregational singing might last just a little too long for the husband’s candle, which burned down at an astonishing rate until he was left with just a flickering nub on the last verse of Silent Night, shielding this wee flame from the wayward draft that threatened it on the final strains.

And here below you’ll see the little oyster dressed up for the evening. I would have put her in a dress but her red shirt was so festive and she’s growing out of it, so I wanted it to make one last appearance. Alas, the ribbon barrette didn’t stay in her hair long and by the time it slipped down to around her ear and her shirt came untucked, she looked like she’d been into the eggnog. Remember how I said she doesn’t walk on her own? She doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop her from moving at a shocking speed, as you’ll see in our last photo.

First, a lovely pose.

First, a lovely pose.


Then, she's intrigued by Harry Potter.

Then, she’s intrigued by Harry Potter.


Finally, chaos.

Finally, chaos.


Dogblog: I’m the sole beneficiary!

Hi! My mom was really embarrassed when she looked at someone else’s (really funny) blog today and realized she hadn’t posted anything since Election Day. And while she is clutching her hair over her face in great shame and considering making the transition to full-time momblog here on redwhiteandnew, I volunteered to bound in and put up a post. Me to the rescue! See? What goes around comes around.*

So here’s what we’ve been up to lately, but I’m not going to include pictures because Mom’s phone is charging in the corner and the naked puppy already used it to call the doctor’s office this morning (oops) so both of us are paws-off for now:

1. November flew by! First, Mom and Dad celebrated their 5th anniversary and had a really fun night out while not one but TWO of my aunts stayed here to play with me and watch the naked puppy. And Gilmore Girls. We also watched them.

2. Another weekend we had friends in town and Mom was really happy about that because they were her friends and she got to go out and about all weekend and take in the monuments and Old Town and that kind of fun stuff that she only really does when guests are in town.

3. Then it was Thanksgiving and Mom and Dad and the naked puppy went to the old home state but I got the best end of that deal–the little sister–aka my very own live-in girlfriend–came to stay with me here and on Thanksgiving I got bacon and an egg in my breakfast! I was very thankful indeed! And later, when my girlfriend went to a friend’s house for her own people-Thanksgiving, she put peanut butter and some Doritos into my Kong and I had a delightful dog-Thanksgiving lunch.

4. When Mom and Dad and the naked puppy came home from their Thanksgiving, it took them a really long time and my girlfriend and I had prepared a nice Thanksgiving dinner for everyone and we ate it at 10:00 at night. It was fun. The naked puppy was a little bit sick, which has never happened before, so probably she wasn’t having much fun but she bounced back after a few days.

5. And now it’s December and Christmas is in less than two weeks! My grandparents from the old home state are coming here to stay with me while my parents and the nakie go to see Dad’s family. I am so, so excited about hosting my own Christmas guests.

6. In sad news though, our friends who live next door had to put down their very old and very sweet dog last weekend. They are very sad. I don’t blame them. My parents will miss me like the chickens (Mom says that’s not the phrase but hey, I would miss chickens if they went away for good) when I go to The Big Farm one day. But what’s kind of neat for me is that our friends gave me all of their dog’s treats and flea meds and now I have a huge box of the biggest Milkbones I have ever seen. Wow. These things are like, my size! Dad said it’s like their doggy left a will and I’m the sole beneficiary. That sounds pretty serious but then again so are these Milkbones so I nodded along very solemnly and then ate one of my beneficiary-treats in the corner where no one could see me taking individual bites of it like a girl.

Ok, Mom says she should be back on the blog in a few days and told me I can have a treat for posting today. I hope she gives me one of my mini Milkbones because those I can practically swallow whole and then I feel like a boss.

*My mom and dad rescued me. Or adopted me, however you want to say it. That’s what that reference was to. Adopted pups are the way to go! I endorse you doing so. I got jokes.

Late, but still, merry Christmas!

For her first Christmas, the little oyster traveled to the old home state, met extended family and back-home friends, and saw snow. She was perfect in the car and delightful at gatherings. She went out for breakfast, went out for coffee, went out for lunch, went out for dinner, and even once went out for drinks. She shopped at our favorite old grocery store, flirted with her grandparents’ Christmas tree, and took pictures with her cousins. All told, it was a wonderful white Christmas for all of us, and the little sister took this awesome picture on top of it all.

(The dad didn’t even recognize the tree behind us as one of the trees in the front yard. This tree and the one across the yard from it arrived at the parents’ house in little black plastic tubs in the back of a minivan, lo these many years ago. Now each one is taller than the house. This is probably symbolic or something.)

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!


Happy DC-iversary

Dear husband and Dietrich,

Today is our first anniversary of starting out here in DC. One year ago we were inching our way across the old home state, me in the little red Corolla with a very concerned dog in the back seat and the husband in the Budget moving truck. The roads were packed snow and ice from the unexpected winter storm the night before, the storm that delayed us by a day and made us last-minute refugees at the other middle’s house for a night. On December 1 we drove. The sun was blinding, reflecting beautifully and dangerously off the white of the road and the trees, and I was terrified that one or both of us would never make it to our first stop at my parents’ house.


But we did, and the little sister was there with donuts for us before she left for work and we left for our new home, which we still hadn’t seen except for in three tiny pictures on craigslist. Refilling our water bottles, coffee mugs, and adding the parents to our caravan, we set off again across some beautiful and familiar states that would get us to our new and unfamiliar home.

Do you remember that we took a wrong turn as we came through Maryland and ended up on winding back roads into Arlington? It wasn’t so much a wrong turn as the less-direct route and we came into DC parallel to the Potomac. It was midnight and the river was as still as the winter air and as black as the sky above it. In between the two dark blankets lay the city; each of us had only ever visited twice, with friends. We had never been here together, not even for so much as a layover at the airport. The white monuments stood out in the dark, on display even from a distance. I thought it all looked very romantic.

We found our new address and together with the parents unloaded just enough to brush our teeth and have something to sleep on in our new basement home. The thrill of a new adventure is what helped us laugh when we saw the kitchen/laundry room/entry way and boiler room/closet. The wisdom of having sold our couch before moving was made real to us. That we would have to leave more things on the truck and make a drop at Goodwill the next day was also made real. The four of us blew up air mattresses, laid out a blanket for Dietrich, and fell asleep.

photo(32)The next day we unloaded the truck and the husband returned it while the parents and I did our best to shoehorn the bare essentials into the shoebox. It was hard work. In such limited quarters, we had to make sure that anything taking up room was something we needed and would use regularly. Just last week when the sisters were here for a visit did the oldest and I unpack our baking sheets. I hadn’t seen or used them since before last Thanksgiving.


With everything moved in and somewhat organized, we left our shoebox home to explore town with the parents. Dietrich stayed in his new, fenced yard. When we came back, chocolate covered fruit had been delivered for us, a housewarming gift from the other middle and her family. They sent only the good fruit. No melon. Even though it was the first week of December, the chocolate had melted every so slightly on some of the fruit. This was a new place indeed.


Then the parents left and it was just the three of us alone in our new home. Shopping at Target was the most normal, familiar thing I could think to do, so that’s where I went for food and toilet paper. One year later, Target is still my first shopping choice, a type of comfort zone. May Target never go the way of the Twinkie.

This year when I look at our home, our growing family, and the work we do during the week, last December has a quiet feeling. I knew each day would begin with a walk around the block and end with reruns of The Office watched on our computer, one of us sitting in the brown comfy chair and one of us in the rolling desk chair, Dietrich on the floor in between. I knew dinner would be homemade and small enough that there would be no leftovers to try to cram into the mini fridge. I knew I would pack the husband’s lunch the next morning, tossing a few pieces of cheese to Dietrich while he ‘helped’ make the sandwich and the husband ironed his work clothes in the bathroom, the only space large enough to set up the ironing board. I knew Christmas would come at the end of the month.

And that was our life when we got here, one year ago. And Christmas did come at the end of the month. And then the little oyster was on her way and we knew we had to find a new place to live. Then I was back at my old job, working from home. Then we had a few dollars in the bank to travel with, and we visited the old home state twice. Then I started on the Hill and going out for dinner was an option again. Then the little oyster arrived and the three of us became the four of us and home was even more our favorite place to be, all together. Then Martha went away and December came again and soon it will be Christmas once more.

For a lot of people, December is a time of endings. For us, beginnings. So as the weather gets cold again and scarves are a staple and street musicians play Silent Night, the notes carrying over the steam from the manhole covers and the halting start-and-stop of downtown traffic, I am caught up in the excitement of the season and now in the possibility of everything before us, as yet unseen, as yet unknown.

Happy anniversary, my dear boys, and merry Christmas.

Ask a dumb question, expect a smart answer

For one of the countless jobs for which I have submitted my resume, a brief questionnaire was included in the application process.

I’m at my wits’ end with applying for jobs and if what you are looking for isn’t as straightforward as what I’m offering, then I bid you good day.

So when this particular question-and-answer page asked me to “describe your computer skills,” I stated “remarkable” and clicked send. Poo poo on anyone who doesn’t value the ability to be concise.

This Christmas the husband and I stayed at a hotel near the farm. Hotels typically provide the basic necessities but due to lack of attention or perhaps budget cuts, we received a shampoo and a hand lotion in our bathroom. Conditioner was MIA, which I did not realize until I was in the shower.

This distressed me somewhat, for even with the best tools my hair often behaves completely independent of what I have in mind, and I knew already that I had forgotten a comb. No comb and no conditioner (although I did give the hand lotion a whirl, to no effect) meant that I approached the front desk with a distinct Medusa look.

Having already called down and asked if they provide combs to guests–wanting to make no assumptions about amenities at this point–the clerk was expecting me. Her cheerful inquiry, “Are you here for a comb?” was easy enough to respond to with equal good humor and I asked how she possibly guessed.

Me: Ooo, our new debit cards.
The husband: Great.

Me: Mine doesn’t have the right name on it. In fact, it doesn’t have any name on it.
The husband: What do you mean?
Me: They only put the first two letters of my first name. Those aren’t a name. They aren’t even a nickname. They’re a verb!
The husband: So they are.
Me: Heehee, imagine if my name was Holly.

Fortunately, our debit cards arrived during business hours and I called the credit union to get things straightened out. The excellent customer service to which I am swiftly becoming accustomed struck again, and things are on their way to being remedied.

Merry Christmas!

And may all your holidays be waterproof, like mine will be, now that the husband gave me Hunter rain boots for Christmas!

The box was on the table with a big ribbon around it. And pretty soon the boots were on my feet, for a test run (ha!) around the shoebox. A practical and quality gift, my favorite kind. The cranberry color makes it a very merry Christmas indeed.

Even HRH the Queen wears these! Maybe in a different color.

Now the husband and I are off to the farm with Dietrich, who is currently chewing away on his Christmas gift from my parents (it’s a chew toy, no problems there). This will be the first time we are at the farm with the husband’s family on Christmas Day and we are both looking forward to it.

I kind of hope it rains. 🙂

As they say in the movies, “Happy Christmas, Harry!”