Theme Thursday: Wintertime Where The Sleddin is Easy (If You Have Hills)


I didn’t build it, but I think he’s very cute!

You know what really grinds my gears?  WINTER.  No not really, I just wanted to put that in there.

I like snow.  I like it to fall and be all pretty for Christmas, and then I just want it to please, please just go away.  So I’m really not a huge fan of winter itself, though I will say that I had a hard time when I lived in Florida-it was difficult not really having that change in seasons.  Last winter was a fairly warm one here in Iowa, and we really only had two snows, one which wasn’t even during actual winter (in November, actually!)

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a nice little trailer that we owned.  Winter meant frozen pipes about once a year.  I remember losing more than one hair dryer to the undercarriage of the trailer.  Eventually my husband bought a space heater and just left it under the trailer by the evil pipes.  It was all ready to plug in for the inevitable.  I do remember it always seemed to happen at the most inopportune times.  The year I was 39 weeks pregnant, for example, was not a cool time for that to happen on Christmas Eve.


I do remember having all kinds of fun in the snow as a child.  I spent a good amount of time outside.  It may have had something to do with the fact that “The Empire Strikes Back” came out around the time I was in kindergarten.  All that time pretending to be on the ice planet Hoth.  We built forts and snowmen and snow tunnels and all kinds of really cool stuff.  Come inside?  It was more fun OUTSIDE!!

Now we have two children who really like the “idea” of snow, but aren’t so keen on the snow itself.  They get all fired up to go out the first time it snows, and will play outside for awhile and then come in.  The next time, they aren’t as enthused, and by maybe the fifth time I ask them to go out they will suddenly invent other things that they have to do inside. They have been wanting to build a snowman, but lack the motivation and knowledge to do so.  My son actually came in and asked for directions.  I really think he wanted me to pull out a laminated instruction book!

You don't need instructions, you just need an imagination.  A warped one is even better.

You don’t need instructions, you just need an imagination. A warped one is even better.

I’m not sure if I should be trying harder to get them to toughen up or write them up some plans on what to do while they are out there.  Today for example, I actually got them to go out.  We have a fenced in backyard, so I can let them out and just keep an ear to the door while they are out there.  Within five minutes I hear ear piercing screaming.  I went outside and investigated.  Princess Difficult was sitting in a sled, shrieking, and her brother was standing next to her, bopping her on the head with one of those balls you sit on and bounce around on.  He wasn’t hurting her, but apparently she really didn’t like it.  I should have taken a picture.  What do these kids think they are supposed to do in the snow?  I’m thinking we’re going to have to go find a big hill-that might make things a bit more interesting.  We live in the flattest town in Iowa.  There are really no hills! In order to go sledding we have to drive somewhere to do it.

This was when the snow first fell.  You can tell this because she looks like she is actually having fun.

This was when the snow first fell. You can tell this because she looks like she is actually having fun.

He too looks quite happy, but it makes me wonder about what?

He too looks quite happy, but it makes me wonder about what?

We have investigated the array of snow enjoyment materials they have at Target and Walmart.  Of course they had sleds, which only really helps if you have hills. They did have snowshoes for kids-these looked very tempting to me but were a little pricey for a kids item (I think they were $10 each).  I really think I might go to Goodwill and buy tennis rackets to make my own for them.  Other things I saw included some sort of snowball launcher (which made me think of the scene from Elf).  My husband made a lot of fun of that one.  There were these little tubes of colored stuff that you could use to “write” in the snow.  Couldn’t you do that with paint, or with your pee (come on boys, you’ve ALL done it!)  We HAVE all the good stuff:  shovels, buckets, snow brick mold.  If only we could convince our kids to use them!

How long will we have this weather?  It’s only January.  Since we live in Iowa the length of the season can go either way-it can be warm and end early in March (unlikely, unless you count last year) or it can be freezing cold and snowy and last clear into June (that has seemed to happen more than once).  I vote for a winter with some snow to throw my children out into and ending right around the last week of March.  That would be just peachy.

In the meantime, we’ll get out a little every day when we can, make sure we have plenty of warm blankets and warm drinks so we are toasty warm and happy all winter long. Then we’ll move into a season I can really get behind-good old SPRING!

It will all be over soon.  In the meantime...

It will all be over soon. In the meantime…

If you didn’t find this blog through Theme Thursday, come on over to Something Clever 2.0 and read other people’s takes on “Winter”!  If you did-HEY, go back and read some MORE!  😉

The 80s Child Thinks of Christmas: Movies on Betamax and VHS Tapes

Nostalgia time!  Let’s face it, I’m a product of the 80s.  I was actually born in the mid 70s, but my main frame of reference comes from the 80s.   Now that it’s Christmastime, I’ve been thinking of all of the different movies that we used to watch in our house every year.  We didn’t have fancy DVDs or even owned most of the vhs tapes that we coveted every year back then.  We taped everything off of the TV, because that’s what you did in those days!  And then we watched them over and over and over…

We started out with a betamax player when I was very young.  Does anyone remember those?  The tapes were like a vhs tape but smaller.  My Mom swore that the picture on those was much better than on the VHS.  I don’t really remember enough to be able to compare the two.  Eventually, the betamax tapes and players became impossible to find, and VHS reigned king.

You are a true 80s child if you had a betamax player.

You are a true 80s child if you had a betamax player.

If you were a child in the 80s, you probably remembered how some of the tapes you put those movies and shows that you loved got very worn after awhile. Some were worn because they were recorded on so many times.  Others were just watched to death!  Sometimes there were lines going through the images, or the tracking wouldn’t be quite right so that the picture or the sound was distorted.  Occasionally a tape got eaten by the vcr-a heartbreaking experience!

We still have many VHS tapes in our house.  We only have a handful of ones that were recorded off the TV.  The rest are ones we have collected over the years.  We recently buried our VCR, but my dad was able to come up with another one, and we are thrilled.  The picture quality may not be as great as DVDs, but for most of the ones we have that’s quite all right.  We have acquired a lot of movies from what we refer to as “The Cheap Santa”.  I’m going to withhold information about this until later this week, because I want to make you wonder what it is!!!!

I got off track a bit.  We’re talking about Christmas, Christmas movies!

In our house it was truly Christmas time when we could start watching all of our faves.  We had quite a list.  Most were taped lovingly onto one tape by my mother so we could watch them uninterrupted.  I’m not sure if I’m recalling this correctly, but my mother made a tape of these movies for my sister, and took out all of the commercials.  My sister asked her to please retape and put them back in, because that was the best part.  Yes it was!  The classics, not just the movies, but also the commercials.

I bet you’re wondering what movies we watched as kids so you can compare?  I bet some are the same ones you grew up with, others may be a bit different!

First, the king of the Christmas specials:  A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Of all the Charlie Browns in the World, you're the Charlie Browniest.

Of all the Charlie Browns in the World, you’re the Charlie Browniest.

Who hasn’t seen this holiday classic?  I remember back before we had a VCR getting very excited waiting for this special to come on!  I know that you either love this one or hate it.  I happen to love it.  I love that my kids asked for that one first when we decided it was time to start watching Christmas videos.  I realize this one is from way before the 80s, but it’s always been the family favorite!

#2:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

You're a mean one...

You’re a mean one…

I know that a lot of people tend to think about the live action remake.  No, I’m sorry, it’s not the same!  I thought everyone knew about the original and the classic song from it, “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch”.  Not so much.  When I was working at the mall when my son was little, that particular song came on the loudspeaker in our store.  The teenybopper who was working with me squealed “OMG!  That is just the WEIRDEST song I have EVER heard!”

#3:  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  The stop motion movies are the bomb!

Princess Christmas loves this movie-especially when Rudolph and Clarice are little.

Princess Christmas loves this movie-especially when Rudolph and Clarice are little.

Here are some of my sister’s and my other favorites from when we were kids:

First up, Garfield Christmas:

We still refer to this movie constantly, particularly this scene. “Ooooooooo…”

Christmas Comes to Pac-Land.  They actually had this one on one of the cartoon channels last year.

Would my kids even get this one?

This was such a neat one:   Ziggy’s Gift.

One of the sweetest Christmas specials ever.

Anyone who was a fan of the Muppets and was a child of the 80s probably knows about Emmett Otter’s JugBand Christmas

There ain't no hole in the washtub!

There ain’t no hole in the washtub!

And then there is the favorite that came about when we got older.  We still watch it every year, usually at my parent’s house.  Not exactly a kids movie, but still my very favorite version of A Christmas Carol.  Here is the best Ghost of Christmas Present EVER!  (I couldn’t get the link to show up as an image, click on the link below the picture to see the clip from the movie).


Now obviously I can’t really show that movie, Scrooged, to my kids until they get much older.  I’ll be watching it yet this week after they go to bed.

Now that I’m an adult I still watch those movies every year, all but the last one with my kids. As adults, we’ve also added a few to the list, which are not on videotape.  We actually own them on DVD!  First off we have Elf, of course, because that movie just makes me smile.  A Christmas Story, which is among the most quoted movies in our household.  And The Santa Clause-it takes a lot for a movie to make me cry, but this one really touched me, just the magic of still believing in Christmas.  My husband loves National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I like it but not like he does!

I know that I have people that are a variety of ages that read my blog.  What movies did you grow up on?  Do you have a very favorite (or several)?  I’d love to know what movies you watched as a kid!  Are there newer ones that you like as an adult?

Let the Holidays Commence!

I do.

This is what I’ve been looking forward to-the next few weeks will most likely be an unending stream of idea diarrhea.  The stuff just keeps flowing because I love the holidays. Christmas is one of my very favorite times of the year.  Despite all of the poopy stuff we have going on (SHINY PENNIES FOR CHRISTMAS!  SHINY PENNIES FOR CHRISTMAS!) I am determined I am going to delight in the things that I love most for the next month.  Here are all of the reasons why I love this time of year so much.

1)  Excuses to watch my favorite movies.  What honey?  You said you want to see “ELF”?  Well let me pop it in.  No movie makes me smile as much as that one.

There is nothing funnier than this…

2)  CHRISTMAS MUSIC!  I like the older music.  I’m not a big fan of most of the newer stuff.  My parents had the original Time Life Christmas records.  The best music ever.  I thought I had found it on CD a few years back, but it wasn’t the same.  I’m still looking for the recording of Jack Jones singing “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  Can’t find it anywhere!  I love Handel’s Messiah, and of course I couldn’t be a band geek without mentioning Sleigh Ride.  I have a story about that, you’ll hear it later this month.

3)  Christmas lights They are even supposed to be up and lit this time of year!  It’s so much fun to drive around and see all of the different displays people have in their yards and on their houses.  We never decorate the outside of our house, so it’s especially fun to see what others have come up with.

I must admit I’ve never seen anything like this yet!

4)  The goodies.  I’m not going to lie and say that I won’t worry about how much I’m consuming, because I will.  But when else do you get to eat so many homemade goodies.  I hope to make some this year.  I want to try to make the big pretzels dipped in chocolate.  YUM!

I’ve never made these. Maybe I should!

5)  Wrapping paper.  I love beautiful wrapping paper adorned with ribbon and bows.  One year I used wide gauzy ribbon to wrap all the packages for the growm-ups.  I just love the way they look under the tree.  I may be wrapping empty boxes this year but dammit they will be pretty!!!!

Not pretty, but quite useful.

6)  Creative decorations. Oh darn, I have to spend lots of time on Pinterest finding ideas for decorating.  Breaks my heart.  This year I’m looking for ideas for a new wreath.  Ours was looking pretty shabby last year.  I’m thinking jingle bells and ball ornaments.  We’ll see what I come up with!


7)  The Wonder of It All.  My kids are at very fun ages.  It’s all so magical to them.  I know that they are most concerned about what they are getting on the big day, but they are so excited about everything.  The next few weeks we will see time and time again what we refer to in my family as “The Christmas Eyes”.  I will find pictures of my sister and I with our Christmas eyes on, and will post them.  I see these on my kids every year.

See? Christmas eyes!

So keep an eye out for all of my crazy posts.  I have drafts galore lined up for the next few days!  To paraphrase my daughter:  “Let the holidays COMMENCE!”