Category Archives: Holidays & Events

A Bagful of Sugar

Winter coat: $20

Hat and bag: $2.99

Mary Poppins: Practically perfect in every way!

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I loved this costume and so did AJ. We got Mary Poppins from the library about a month before Halloween and she right away agreed to dress up as Ms. P. Once I found the coat I knew it’d be great (plus she can be cute in it all winter). She was adamant that Aaron should be Bert, but lucky for him a striped jacket is harder to find. My mom whipped up the skirt out of flannel and found the perfect umbrella. The Joygirl looked rather like an old lady on her way to church!

“Spit spot!”


The college just behind us does trick-or-treating in the dorms, which is an awesome way to score a lot of candy in a short period of time. The girls especially were oooooohing and awwwwwwing over Ms. Mary P., which equals lots of generous handouts. The funniest thing was that AJ wanted to stop and zip her carpet bag closed after every piece of candy, and of course that meant stopping and struggling with it . . . then walking 20 feet to the next person down the hall and struggling to open it! We tried to convince her she did not need to zip it, but she didn’t want to lose any candy. No worries–she got a plenty big bagful of sugar to help the medicine go down!


Once Upon an Oregon

I know some of you want to hear about our trip to Oregon, and really, I’d like to look back on it too, if I can stop having things break (see: truck, hot water heater, and clothes dryer!) long enough to stay in a normal life groove. But I’ll give you some tidbits and tantalize you with a photo or two. But despite all the things I should be doing, here is a long and photo-heavy recap. Persevere to the end for the BEST FAMILY PHOTO EVER.

AJ was a travel rock star. On the way out she started getting grouchy on the second flight, then promptly feel asleep. On the way home we took the red-eye, which means changing planes at some pre-dawn hour you can’t even identify because you don’t know what time zone you’re in, and it wasn’t until the very end that she was ready to fall apart and melt down. But weren’t we all?

Our friends A&L arranged for us to rent the house right next door to them, which was awesome because we had plenty of space to spread our junk around and hang out in. Plus we could walk over there when we couldn’t find a bottle opener. Our rental car was a sweet Subaru sedan which was practically brand new before my parking skills got ahold of it (uh, oops). AJ called these things “our new house” and “our new car.”

Aaron got to see some of the high schoolers and recent grads he was close to when he youth pastored there. We also happened to be there for graduation, aka the whole small town’s family reunion. And I am a sucker for a small town graduation.

We were able to be at our old church two Sundays–once like weepy returning champions, once like a normal part of the family again. A hint of heaven. (Possibly more on this another time, if anyone is still up for a LOST analogy…)

When the weather was good (it was kind of 50-50), we went to the beach and let AJ see if she dared touch a wave and throw rocks into a creek until she practically built a dam. She would have happily done this all day.


We also went to the aquarium to see and touch fishy things and tidepooling to see and touch more.

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We drove along the rocky cliffs and hiked to my favorite lighthouse. We took in the view that never, ever gets old.


I drove until she slept, and then I stopped for photos.

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We hugged trees.


We rocked.


We rode a sweet tractor.


We ate a lot. Duh.


We acted natural.


We impersonated Lewis & Clark.


We hunted wild game.




No, not that one.


No, not that one either.


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Vacation is ending? Aaaaaaaaagh!

Christmas Gatherings Roundup

Those not interested in holiday recaps may wish to skip this post–but check back soon for an announcement about these ducks.ducksinarow

For those who have not yet overdosed on holiday cuteness . . .

Our Christmas celebrations were spread out this year, starting two weekends ago when we all gathered at The Farm: the three of us, my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my nephew “Tobo.” AJ and I went up early to get out of Aaron’s hair during his exam week of doom, so he missed some of the frolicking in the snow and the traditional turning of the house into a cookie decorating factory. Tobo and AJ together are a blast!


Saturday we did stockings and other gifts. AJ and Grandma have matching flannel nighties. AJ got a sweet ride for her Fisher Price Happy Family people. Ever attentive Grandma bought families of different colors and rearranged them so they look like ours (well, the mom and baby look like me and AJ; the daddy we call Denzel)!

19thSunday my aunt and grandma were able to come over from the other side of the state, although for some reason I have no photographic proof of this (family members, help!).

Christmas Eve our college friend Chatterbox came to stay with us through this week. We slid over the ice to a nearby church service so we could light candles and raise our voices with the four-year-old standing on a chair next to me shouting, “REJOIIIIICE! REJOIIIIIICE! E-MA-A-AN-U-EL!” (which is the only proper response to the Good News of the Incarnation).

Then came the three Christmas Eve traditions: opening an ornament, opening new pajamas, and reading Twas the Night Before Christmas.

eve3Christmas Day Santa brought all that had been expected (plus two light sabers, go figure): a sled, a new puppy backpack, Muppet Show DVDs, cheapo kid camera, and the long awaited and greatly anticipated–so much so that she was telling strangers in restaurants about how you get it when you learn to spit when you brush–big kid Dora the Explorer toothpaste. Best opened sitting in your sled.

day3Then we trekked to Aaron’s parents’ house to gather with them and his brothers and their families. Family pictures were only semi-successful but it is always nice to see the brothers together, AJ loved teasing the cat with a feather for hours, and the food was good and plentiful. Just enough fullness for one day.


Saturday night: annual party Aaron’s friend Gus has been throwing for we think 14 years. Fun times with old friends, plus white elephant gift wrapping prize win! Ain’t she pretty? (The contents were even better–who doesn’t want some ugly 1970s coasters and 2 giant bags of lettuce?)


And . . . if you’ve made it this far you deserve a hint about what has been filling my mind and days between gatherings. Ready?

Hint: 40.

More soon!

Blizzard Season

It’s blizzard season–including holidays, weather, and schoolwork.

Last weekend we celebrated the Joygirl’s birthday. She got to wear her birthday girl shirt and her grandparents and a couple friends joined us for cake, way too many presents, and some twirling.


The next day she asked, “AJ three now, Mama? Three?” Yes, yes you are. And she proved it with a rare episode of TERRIBLE behavior in the library. One of us cried.

IMG_9864Tuesday our truck went in the shop for broken windshield wipers and yada yada yada we didn’t get it back until Saturday. But that was fine because no one was going anywhere in the blizzard that hit Wednesday and Thursday. We actually didn’t get tons of snow but the wind was terrible and it was dang cold. Welcome back to Michigan.

Saturday we were finally able to procure the Griswold Family Christmas Tree, miniature size. In Oregon we had a 15-foot ceiling so we’d have our lumberjack friend hike us up some mountain and drag down a 14-footer with a 12-inch trunk. So our six-footer seems a little puny, but it’s nice. And AJ had been asking to get out the train our friends gave us last year. It whistles, but she’s the hoot!


Aaron is buried in schoolwork because he has classes through Wednesday and finals Thursday and Friday. AJ and I are going to get out of his way by going up to my parents’ house before my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew arrive for this weekend’s family Christmas festivities.

And that’s all that’s going on in the Wetzel house. As far as you know.

“Little full. Lot of sap.”

Mary Had a Bag O’ Candy

“AJ, what do you want to be for Halloween?” we asked for weeks. “You can say ‘trick or treat’ and get candy, but you have to dress up in a costume. What do you want to dress up as?”

“You could be a ballerina.” “Noooo.”

“Do you want to be a kitty?” “Nooooo.”

“You could be Mickey Mouse with your Mickey hair!” “No, no Mickey, no.”

“A puppy? A pirate? A scarecrow? A football player?” “No no no no no.”

One day we were singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in the car, as we are wont to do now that we must read/sing the Mary Had a Little Lamb (1980s version) book a minimum of twice a day. It’s a current obsession. Perhaps she’s attracted to the bright colors.


Like, totally sweet color scheme!

“Hey, you could be Mary Had a Little Lamb for Halloween! You could dress up like Mary and get candy–would you like that?”

“No. Yes! Mary had little lamb trick or treat! Mary!”

Hmm, I wonder how we would do that, I thought, about 30 seconds too late. “Uh, or you could be something else, like…” “MARY!”

Thus began the process of (a) figuring out how many layers we could get under a dress and (b) making sure she was not expecting to dress up in fluorescent yellow overalls, a yellow and pink polo shirt, pink socks, and yellow Keds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, provided you are still located in 1989.


We did end up with yellow and pink but did manage to get some more traditional gingham involved.


She was ridiculously cute reaching for doorbells and whispering “tick a tweet.” (“Louder!” we said. “Yell it!” “TIck UH teeeee!”) After a few houses she was ready to go pro and step right up without us. We basically went around our block to the people we know and then over to the local college’s dorms, where good-natured students hang out in their doorways to bless hordes of little freaks and geeks with a variety of sweets and lifelong dental issues. This was nice because we got to get out of the crazy wind a bit (what is this, the Oregon coast?). Then we went home, handed out some candy, pigged out, and got AJ ready for bed before our favorite Oregonian college student arrived to spend the night and we went to our neighbors’ grown-up party for some games. A full and festive weekend!

Mary had a kitty pumpkin  . . . and a bag o’ loot!

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