• I Thought The Boys Were Thrilled By The Virgin Mary

    I’m not much of a collector, but I’ve tried to pick up a Nativity scene from places I visit.  We’re up to three, and they’re currently displayed on the mantel.  The boys have been enamored with them.  There’s the Mexican Nativity that I got after my mother died:


    (Joseph is absent as he’s still decapitated but I hope Porter’s Webelo skills will help remedy that situation.)

    And the intricate and fascinating nativity from Kenya:

    And finally, the expensive and somewhat staid creche from Lisbon:

    It’s this monochromatic one that the boys cannot pass without stepping onto the fireplace to peer a bit closer. Why? It’s got none of the fancy weaving of the African version, or the snappy color of the Mexican one. And it’s teensy. That lamb? It’s smaller than the size of the first segment of my index finger.

    So the Virgin Mary’s nipple? It’s tiny, too. But not too small to be eternally thrilling to the inhabitants of my house.


    The holidays have snuck up on me this year.  We just got the tree finished last night and I haven’t wrapped the first present.  I have purchased several, though, sticking to my tried and true rules for gifts.

    I don’t know of anyone who isn’t cutting back this year, and we’re no different.  The boys are getting plenty of books and clothes (though I’m having to give Porter books early as he snarfs them up.  I’m going to get some really lengthy books to add to his pile and see if I can’t spread out my trips to the library a bit.)

    We made our annual trip to Target during which the boys split up and bought presents for each other (as recounted in “Present Perfect” which you can read at the Lipstick site– or pick up a free copy at your local spa/salon/business.  Here’s a picture of the activity – this is the cart with Porter’s present in it, hidden with towels while Drew and Finn decide what else to buy for him.  Smart readers will know immediately what is hidden under here.)


    If you’re still struggling for gift ideas, here’s a link to all my best ideas, including the Hall of Fame!

    I’ve also hit on another series that Porter is loving – the books by Cressida Cowell, including How to Train Your Dragon and How to Be a Pirate.  She’s written tons of books and I checked out as many as I could from the library today so I could stop giving Porter books from his Christmas stash.


    Last Saturday Bill and I went to a party for our dance club.  It’s a Tiny Kingdom tradition– every three years, a new dance club is formed, but the members don’t dance or do anything philanthropic.  Our Christmas party was at a friend’s house, and the house is posh.  Everything was clean and decorated and there were no piles of papers and sporting goods in the corners.  I peeked in the hostess’s bathroom and there were two walk in closets and a separate tub and shower.  The tub had no legos or inexplicable wood shavings in it, as ours often does.

    I heard several people duck out early, explaining that they had another party to attend, thrown by a couple I’ll call Jemison and Mary Adair.  I don’t know Jemison and Mary Adair, but I recognized their names.  No matter.  Bill and I had a marvelous time, ending the evening with dinner with Marathon Mom and her husband.

    Today I was at the sporting goods store running an errand that had NOTHING whatsoever to do with Christmas, Finn, if you are reading this, which you should not because you are in the middle of exams and should not be reading blogs on the computer.

    A couple were in there shopping for Christmas, and after they called each other “Jemison” and “Mary Adair” I put on my CSI-Birmingham sunglasses and determined that they were the party-givers of the previous weekend.  Which would have been no big deal if they had not told the cashier that they had invited 400 people to their party, which made me think, “TINY Kingdom?  They had almost half a thousand people and I couldn’t even wrangle an invitation? ”

    Maybe they are MUCH older than I am.  Droopy, even.

    Maybe you have to do the magical elf thing with your kids to be invited.

    Maybe the Kingdom is bigger than I thought.

    Maybe this is a sign that it’s all well and good to be known for your sex talk, to be a vermicomposter, and to go to the Webelo Top Gun Competition, but all that doesn’t get you invited to the big galas.

    But I what I really think it means is that in 2009 I need to get out more.


    Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: No TV For You!

  • Present Perfect

    My article about the evolution of our traditional outing during which the boys purchase presents for each other is up at Lipstick magazine.  I’m so thankful the days of toddlers running amuck at the Dollar Store are over!


    One year ago in My Tiny Kindom: Last Night, At The Band Concert (I did so much better this year.  Forewarned, we enjoyed the entire performance!)

  • “Don’t Pull My Weenie” & Other Thanksgiving Thoughts

    Hiking through the woods wasn’t what I pictured myself doing on Thanksgiving, but I did.  We have some land in Chambers County that we’re about to sell, and Bill, the boys and I left my in-laws’ house in Gold Hill this morning and went to take some pictures to show interested buyers.  The land is right outside Lafayette (that’s “la-FAY-ette” if you’re local), and breathtakingly beautiful.  We’ve fixed it up for hunting, adding green fields to attract deer, and the game camera and many footprints we saw confirmed that the place is teeming with them.  Over the past year we cut in roads, planted some brown stuff that turkeys enjoy, and the twins personally hauled rocks to build culverts over the creek that runs through the land.

    I got photos of deer and bobcat tracks, Drew mooning Porter through the back of the pickup, the young pines that populate part of the land, Porter attacking anthills with a stick, the thick brush at the edge of the fields where deer hang out and boys peeing in the woods (from the rear).

    As we left, Porter found a smooth hardwood stick that was at least six feet long.  It was strong, too.  He threw it, javelin-like, all over the woods, and it didn’t splinter or shatter.  He fell in love and begged to bring it home.

    Finn and Porter had been nagging each other all morning, and Finn had swatted Porter several times.  Bill told Porter to put the stick in the back of the pickup if he wanted to bring it back to Gold Hill, and I saw the evil in Finn’s eyes.

    “Don’t screw with that stick,” I told him, waggling my finger at him.

    Thanksgiving lunch was at 12:30, so we got to Gold Hill at 11:30.  When we got there, the stick was gone and Finn confessed that he’d tossed it out the back of the truck “because he thought it would be funny.”

    I stomped inside to repossess his cell phone.  “I can’t believe that dumb f-,” I was saying, when I realized that our Thanksgiving company had already started to arrive.  Early.

    I figured that was their tough luck.  If they wanted to come early and see real life preparations for Thanksgiving, they could.  So two ancient aunts and Bill’s grandfather, assorted caregivers and a guy named Chuckie who was a stranger to me but stayed all the way through the pecan pie, so I assume he was related, watched while Bill and I verbally flogged Finn.  The show wasn’t over; they also rubbernecked as I padded about in my robe on my way to the shower and back with no underwear underneath.

    According to Bill’s dad, Pop, the relatives have been arriving an hour early for half a century, and the practice was especially exasperating in the 1990s when BB’s ancient aunts, Nita, Nan, Eleanor (“EL-na” if you’re local), and Ruby Clyde were all alive and mobile, but only Ruby Clyde remains and she had to be wheeled in early and seemed pissed off about it.  She also called Pop “Chuckie’s dad” the whole time she was here and awake, which could be considered further evidence that Chuckie is part of the family.

    It would have been marvelous if everyone had arrived an hour early, we had eaten, and then the holiday was over.  However, two relatives bucked tradition and got lost, despite the fact that they grew up in the Gold Hill house, and arrived an hour late.

    During the hour we waited, the boys shot BB guns in the back yard, and Finn took careful aim at my mother-in-law’s outdoor chandelier and successfully blasted several of the glass candles out.

    Bill confiscated the gun and ordered him to gather pecans while he thought up a better punishment.  I suggested that he make Finn clean out Pop’s spit cup with his tongue but instead Bill elected to ban him from the next hunting trip.  No hunting or texting made Finn a sad boy, which was the intended result.  However, he filled up a three gallon pail with pecans, and my mother-in-law, unaware of Finn’s new status as scum, promised that he could take the pecans to town and keep the money, so I’m not sure the deprivations had their intended effect.

    It’s Thanksgiving evening now.  I’ve eaten more sweet potatoes, and we’ve watched the Auburn local news.  The big story was that the Ruby Tuesday’s got an 85 from the health inspector because the cooks were handling the baked potatoes with Oh My God bare hands.  Finn and Porter and Drew have called a truce.  They’re upstairs playing “Zombie,” which involves them pummeling each other and shouting things I hope my in-laws don’t hear, like: “If you pull off my weenie I’ll die!”

    Still, even with the brotherly combat and the peep-show shower, I’m thankful for my family.  Plus, no one puts the fun in dysfunctional the way we do.


    My in-laws just had some friends come over and all three boys, led by former scum Finn, got up, introduced themselves and gave strong handshakes.  I love my oldest again.  Now I can go to bed happy.


    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Sex Talk

  • Glamore-ous Holiday Gift Ideas

    My Lord,  I love buying gifts.  I’ve had a blast teaching the boys to purchase gifts for each other, and I think even my husband’s gift-giving skills are improving.

    The last couple of years I’ve published some gift guides, and while they’re heavy on gifts for males ages 3-12, I’ve also included ideas for “The Person With Everything,” “The Elderly Aunt,” “The Spouse” and so forth.

    I’m going to give you the links to those lists here so you can peruse them.  I have NOT checked all the product links to make sure they’re still working, but the item descriptions ought to help you track down what you’re looking for.

    Be sure and read the comments to each post– y’all have been wonderful about suggesting other fascinating gift ideas that have been big hits!

    As always, leave suggestions or feedback about past gifts in the comments.

    I’m finishing up this year’s gift guide, so if there are items you’d like me to include in it, let me know.

    And now, the past guides:


    The Ultimate Guide To Boy Toys (still the best, most comprehensive guide, featuring the ever popular headlamps, safes, flashlights)


    Holiday Gift Guide: A Kajillion Ideas! (Ideas for teachers, babies and toddlers)

    Gift Guide Part Deux: You’re So Hard To Buy For (funky, practical, collections, cookbooks, and a smattering of this and that.  My favorite: Tervis 16oz. Tumblers.  Not terribly exciting, but you can take them everywhere, and when your kids unload the dishwasher, it’s nice to know you have shatter-proof glasses.  Plus, look at all the available designs!)

    Gift Guide For Good Kids (Or Even Merely Tolerable) (books, games, technology).  Hits: Ripstik Caster Board, Ultimate LEGO Building Set

    Check out the comments to this post where readers made fab suggestions for all types of recipients, and the teachers voiced their hatred of all apple-themed items. (The fruit, not the company)

    Some websites for men who are stymied about what to get their spouses.  Remember, her mother or best friend probably has some wonderful suggestions.

    Happy Shopping!


    Many thanks to all of you for your kind comments about my last, succinct post.  My family is fine; my heart hurts for another.  Please hug yours today and everyday.


    Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Decorate Like A First-Grader