Gummy Bear Party at the Gingerbread House


Every year, I buy a gingerbread house kit and the kids bicker about how they are going to decorate it. One child is a perfectionist and one is not and I am left to mediate and yell, “Don’t lick your fingers!” and “Stop eating the candy!” and “Oh god! Look at the floor!”

This is how we make memories.

I have no idea why I bought that very first gingerbread house all those years ago. I didn’t grow up with the tradition so I can only assume that I wanted to do things differently than my parents did and by “differently” I mean “better.” I probably had grandiose visions of starting new traditions and guiding little hands to create a magical, edible house to symbolize the Christmas season.

I didn’t know then that the gingerbread in those kits is a second cousin to cardboard and that I would never want to eat any part of the house given that kids are filthy little beasts who have questionable hand-washing skills and a tendency to stick candies to things using only their saliva as adhesive.

But here we are, 11 years into the gingerbread house tradition*.

Right before Thanksgiving, I picked up a simple gingerbread house kit while I was at Ikea–a steal at $5!

gingerbread house

There are two important things to note about that statement. One, I bought it before Thanksgiving which means that Zeca had three weeks to ask me “When are we doing the gingerbread house?” Every. Single. Day. Two, there is a reason that it cost only $5–it contained only the gingerbread. No candy. No icing. I will say, however, it is the only gingerbread house kit I’ve ever opened that smelled even remotely like something a sentient being would eat.

Miguel is on a three week residency at the rural campus of his school and won’t be back until next Friday which means that he will miss out on much of the festive holiday activities, including the gingerbread house. What this also means is that this is the first year that Zeca was able to make a gingerbread house without intense micromanagement and quality control.

So, this past weekend, Luisa, Zeca and I ventured to the store and Zeca got to pick out the candy she wanted for her gingerbread house and yesterday was the day to put it all together.



Cutting candy cane posts


I made the icing and directed her in using it to create a structurally sound gingerbread house but the rest was all her and I think she enjoyed bossing me around for a change. We decorated the roof and placed shutters and put the trees in the yard and placed our santa and sleigh on the roof and then she said, “And now it’s time for the gummy bears.”


Why yes, that is a gummy bear riding a deer in the front yard.

As it became clear to me that she was going to use an entire bag of gummy bears on the lawn, I spoke up, “That’s a lot of gummy bears.” She said, “It’s a gummy bear party! Don’t worry–the parents won’t find out until they get home,” and then she laughed and said, “Just kidding but not really.” And in that moment, her adolescence flashed before my eyes and I vowed I would never leave her home alone. Ever. And that was before I noticed the green gummy bear passed out by the evergreen tree.

We had a great time making the house and she was very proud of her work.


This morning, I noticed the whole front yard was cleared of guests. I counted the icing footprints left behind and determined twelve guests were missing so I said, “You ate twelve of the gummy bear guests!” She shrugged and said, “That’s what they’re for.” I hope those little bears didn’t bring hostess gifts to the party because they gave with their lives.


*Full Disclosure: We skipped last year when I didn’t mention the gingerbread house, hoping to let the tradition die. There was much sadness when Christmas was only a few days away and they kids remembered and I told them it was too late. 



Break-ups Are Hard

heartI hadn’t seen her in six months but I went to see her yesterday and she stood me up.

I am, of course, talking about my dental hygienist.

I checked in and when a complete stranger came out to the waiting room and called my name, I was so confused. Who was this woman? Where was Carmel? My heart beat wildly as I followed her back to the room and sat down and then she turned her back to me to pull up my chart and all I could think was, “What is happening?”

She finally  turned to me and said, “Hi. I’m Emily.” She offered me her hand to shake and I took it despite my conflicted feelings.

I stared at her and finally found my voice, “Where is Carmel?”

She tilted her head and gave me a sympathetic nod that I didn’t believe was genuine for a single moment, “She no longer works here.”

And just like that, Carmel and I were over. We’d been seeing each other for years and then she was just gone without so much as a goodbye.

“Oh…” I said.

“I’ll be working with you now.”

I wanted to say, “Listen Emily, you seem like a nice girl but you don’t just get to decide that we are together now. That’s not how this works.”

But I said nothing as I wondered how it had come to this.

Emily was nice enough as we got to know each other. She asked the usual questions and we made small talk and she smiled and was gentle but it just wasn’t the same.

When my appointment was over, she asked if I wanted to make my next appointment and I said I did and she booked me with her and I guess now it is me and Emily, sitting in an adjustable chair, C-L-E-A-N-I-N-G.

As I walked to my car, I emailed a friend who had also been seeing Carmel (yes, we obviously had an open relationship) and gave her the news. She wrote back, “NOOOOOOOOOO!”

Yes, my friend. Give up coffee and start flossing 20 times a day because now we have to try. You always have to try when a relationship is new.

Goodbye November

Writing-is-like-drivingI am often daunted by writing. I tend towards brevity which is why blogging comes so naturally to me. I can reduce a story to its essential elements and still make you think and laugh and feel. At least that’s the hope. But this means that longer essays and projects intimidate me because I can’t imagine stringing all those words together, because a big story is so much harder to tell than a small one.

This month, I did NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo to challenge myself to write more, to experiment, to shake loose the words in my head. And I succeeded.

I wrote a novel – 50,164 words. The story requires more words and massive editing but I did it.

I wrote 34 blog posts in 30 days – 17,459 words – and, as in years past, wrote a couple of pieces that I like.

But more important than those thousands of words, I learned a lot about myself.

1. I am not an undisciplined slacker.

I often think of myself in this way and it doesn’t serve me. It’s time to let go of that narrative.

2. I can write long pieces if I set small goals each day.

The quote on this page has long been a favorite of mine but this month, I lived the truth of it.

3. I exert too much control over my words at times.

In order to write all the words I wrote this month, I had to let go. I didn’t have the luxury of agonizing over each word and sentence and found myself feeling playful with words in a way I hadn’t in a long time.

4. I can appreciate the journey.

I have always said that I’m about the destination, not the journey. I want a finished product and to know how it will be used. This limits my creativity and constrains my writing. I don’t know what, if anything, will become of the novel I wrote this month but I enjoyed writing it and I fell in love with the characters and that was such a pleasant surprise.

5. I need to start taking credit for accomplishments.

So, I’m going to start right here, right now. I wrote 67, 623 words this month. No matter what happens with those words, that is an accomplishment.


To all those who wrote this month, congratulations! To all those who read, thank you! To November, you were a gift.


My Photostream Garage Sale

Do you like garage sales? Do you like to wander past tables of items cast off by other people trying to find treasure? Let’s treat today’s post like a Blog Garage Sale! These are things that I ran across in my photostream that I intended to write about but never did. I offer you my lightly used macrame plant hangers and my Weebles and my electric breadmaker with the hope that maybe you’ll find worth in them.




I snapped this picture at the mall a couple of weeks ago because idioms make me laugh. Also, because Luisa is not a native English speaker, she mixes up idiomatic expressions all the time and I laugh at her because that’s the way I show my love. May none of you ever feel like a little fish on the totem pole.



I was going to use this as a Throw Back Thursday post last week but didn’t. There are several things about this picture that are worth noting. First of all, I am in the back of a truck and the truck is moving. I remember when this was taken and my friend and I rode in the back of the truck all the way from Kansas City to the Lake of the Ozarks. Secondly, my sweatshirt is inside out because it was the 80’s and we were all weird. Three, I have a bi-level haircut which is a fancy way of saying “mullet.” Lastly, I think I had that expression from the age of 16 until last week.



I saw this at Target today. Foxes are everywhere! I remember when I was the only fox around. This fox makes me sad though because it doesn’t have a mouth. Do not silence the foxes!



It looks like there are two new flavors of peeps this season – Red Velvet and Hot Cocoa and Cream. Both types are dipped in white fudge. We haven’t tasted them yet but I’ll let you know when we do.



On Thanksgiving, as I was getting dressed, I commended Zeca on already being dressed for dinner. She was wearing jeans and t-shirt which was fine because we don’t really dress up. She said, “Oh! You think this is my outfit? No way. Wait right here.” She ran to her room and came back wearing the jacket from her suit. I said, “That jacket is too small.” She smiled and said, “No. It needs to be small so I can push the sleeves up like this.” Skinny jeans, a Sharknado t-shirt and a black blazer with the sleeves pushed up – I will never be as cool as she is.