I am not the best photographer as you all have discovered! But, no matter how poor it comes out, I always take a picture of each year's Christmas tree. This was taken this morning after I cleared up most of the stuff in the middle of the living room. A chair with our big Scrabble board was there too but I moved it. Steve has been beating me time after time at Scrabble. I love to play it but I am bad at it! I've only beat him a few times since we have met. I was playing Alphabugs online to increase my "weird word" vocabulary, but that didn't even help much.
The big box is the small aquarium I gave Steve for Christmas. He used to have a huge one that took up most of one wall in the house in Texas but we don't have as large of a house here so there isn't as much space. Thought a little one might help - we'll see. It supposedly is self contained once set up - only change out the filters every so often. I'll believe that when I see it.
As always, I received books from Steve. :-) Christmas morning I curled up in bed with a Diet Coke, the mattress pad heater on and Greg Kincaid's A Dog Named Christmas. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/A-Dog-Named-Christmas/Greg-Kincaid/e/9780385525985/?itm=1 Todd McCray's father is a Vietnam vet who hasn't allowed a dog on the family's Kansas farm since his beloved childhood dog died while he was in the service and his life was saved when a dog he befriended in Vietnam stepped on a landmine before he could. But, it is Christmas and the pound is asking folks to take a dog home for the Holidays so they aren't left in the kennels alone while the staff spends Christmas at home. Todd is 20, but has the mind of a child and he wants more than anything else to take a dog home for the Holidays. Todd gets his way and a big black mutt he names Christmas rides between a reluctant father and jubilant son as the old truck rattles its way back to the farm. Christmas quickly becomes part of the family but Todd's father is adamant about taking him back to the pound on December 26th. This poignant story of a man dealing with his past is told from the viewpoint of Mr. McCray as he watches Christmas become part of his family. It is the advice of the elderly farmer nearby who helps McCray see what is right in front of him all along. It is a short book - started out as a short story that the author fleshed out. For me it was the perfect quick Christmas morning read. Make sure the Kleenex are around if you read this one.
It is raining here again today. It rained so hard Christmas Eve we had a river running through the grass between ours and the neighbor's house. Realizing we'd have a blizzard on our hands if it had been snow I had to pick up A Very Special Snowflake by Don Hoffman and illustrated by Todd Dakins. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Very-Special-Snowflake/Don-Hoffman/e/9780439901116/?itm=1 Christmas may be over but it is still the season for winter/snow books. Brother and sister go out in the snow with their white puppy Snowflake who promptly disappears into a snowbank. They walk the streets of their small town asking the florist, mailman, policewoman, etc. if they have seen Snowflake, but they all respond with weather comments, including the baker who says the snowflakes have inspired him to decorate his cakes with fluffy white icing. This repetitive tale will delight little ones, as of course, Snowflake bounds out of the snowbank and the community helpers see exactly what kind of snowflake the siblings are looking for. An inexpensive Scholastic paperback at $3.99 that makes for a fun after Christmas surprise.
Since McKinley won't be a year old until February I am always on the look out for fun board books for her. A new Little Scholastic title, Welcome Winter by Jill Ackerman and illustrated by Nancy Davis http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Welcome-Winter/Jill-Ackerman/e/9780545077934/?itm=1 fits the bill nicely since Mary's family is inundated with snow in Green Bay. The flocked snowflakes, crinkly paper to sound like footsteps in the snow, a fluffy hat, etc. are the perfect things for little fingers to touch. What is cool about the series for infants is the web site with tips and downloads: www.littlescholastic.com for parents. Back when Mary and Mic were babies Dr. Spock's classic book on child rearing was dog-eared. Believe it or not it is still available in the 15th edition Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dr-Spocks-Baby-and-Child-Care/Benjamin-M-Spock/e/9780743476683/?itm=1 Benjamin Spock, a doc at Mayo Clinic, died in 1998, but Dr. Robert Needlman has revised it. I still think it is one of the best print resources out there for parents of little ones even though there are a myriad of parenting resources available today.
Time for me to get my act together and head out to find after Christmas sales on kids' clothes. Now to find the lists of what sizes they all are - from bitty to big!