snowflake, days 5 - 8

we - and snowflake - had a busy few days!

first, on friday, day 5, she sent us a subtle reminder that the tree had been up for nearly a week and was still lacking ornamentation.


later on friday, harper and i drove 45 mins away to her second swim meet. she was feeling very nervous about it in the car, but once she got there, all the worry melted away, she got to be with her bff and another friend who has been super dear to her since they were three, and it was time for fun! she even helped her friend over a case of her own First Meet jitters, which probably helped harp out, too.






she placed 3rd overall in her age group's 50 backstroke, 5th in the 50 breakstroke, and  6th in the 50 free, and earned a C time in the backstroke and freestyle. she was super proud of herself!

(then i had to pull over on the way home so she could throw up on the side of the road. still haven't figured out if that was from nerves or a bad sandwich, but she's fine now.)

saturday morning, instead of being super tired and sleeping in until 7:30, harper was up and searching for snowflake.

here is where she found her:


apparently, snowflake and gray kitty are not so good with the pot holder loom.

sunday morning, snowflake gave us all a good giggle:


silly elf.

and this morning, we found her dressed in holiday finery and sitting atop the barbie tree:



this week, i have a city council meeting to go to ... our neighborhood is fighting the city's desire to connect a through-road from our 'hood to the casino's doorstep. to say we are infuriated is an understatement. ... henry's parent/teacher conferences, his first high school swim meet of the season, marc's heading to seattle, and who knows what else.

hopefully, snowflake will act accordingly and be nice and easy for the next five days.

snowflake, days 3 & 4

yesterday, harper came down to breakfast and said she hadn't yet found snowflake. i told her she needed to eat, finish getting ready, and then she could look for her elf. which apparently she took as permission to peek into other rooms while brushing her hair and teeth, because she discovered right away that snowflake had brought her laundry to our house overnight.


that sounded like a good plan to me, too, and i decided to hang out with snowflake and play catch-up from the four days i didn't do laundry over thanksgiving, while marc's family was here.

however, as with most days, plans changed. i received a text from my lovely friend, tina, who said "breakfast in linden hills with me and amy." well, i love any minute i get to spend in linden hills, so laundry was promptly abandoned in favor of brunch and christmas shopping.

which is likely why snowflake showed up this morning with new socks for harper; she knew i hadn't gotten those washed yesterday and harp would have had to wear who knows what.


that snowflake. she's always thinking.

she's baaaaack

sunday night, as we were trying to get lights on the tree (only to discover that more than half decided to die over the past year while sitting in a bin in the garage), harper remembered that it was november 30th, and her elf would likely be coming the next day.

she ran up to her room to get the "elf on the shelf" book, brought it down to the couch, and read to us as we (marc) battled the lights. then she ran up to her room and laid out a bed for snowflake, found a dress form for barbie clothes and put a robe on it for snowflake to wear, then proceeded to tear her room apart looking for snowflake's little friend, gray kitty.

no gray kitty.

i told harp not to worry about it, gray kitty would turn up. and who knew ... maybe snowflake would use her elfin magic to make gray kitty appear.

that seemed reasonable to harp, and she was off to bed.

monday morning, snowflake was, indeed, in her robe and on the bed harp had prepared for her. and in her little arms? gray kitty.


oh, the happiness!

(which lasted about 20 minutes. until i told her she had to drink the smoothie i'd made for her and her brother for breakfast. which turned into a 30 minute battle of the wills. which became 30 minutes of harper in tears, refusing said smoothie. which resulted in her missing the bus, having to be driven to school by daddy, and having to admit to the nice secretary in the school office just why she was arriving to school late. which led to harper having a smoothie popsicle for dessert instead of ice cream. sigh. life with her is always interesting.)

this morning was a much different story: homemade blueberry pancakes, and snowflake and gray kitty helping with the christmas decorations.


welcome back, snowflake.


snowflake, 2013: the end

christmas has come and gone again. just like that. all the build up and anticipation, and then ... done.

i know people who get seasonal affective disorder, and i think i get post-christmas affective disorder. i've had the blahs since the 26th and cannot shake them.

oh well. january is almost here, the kids will soon be back at school, and life will resume normalcy.

however: let's finish up snowflake, shall we?

where did i leave off ... the 17th?

on the 17th, snowflake and gray kitty were perched in the bathroom window, enjoying the warm sunshine and the view.


on the 18th, she brought harper a special elf cookie straight from the north pole. which was perfect timing, because harper had an all-day field trip that day, and came home from school famished. that cookie was housed fairly efficiently within 10 minutes of her walking in the door.


on the 19th, snowflake and gray kitty were traversing the ropes course, strung up between the stairway lights.


on the 20th, snowflake had used elfin magic to build a train track, and she and gray kitty were going for a spin.


on the 21st, we found snowflake and gray kitty strung up in slinkies. we never did figure out if they were there on purpose, doing some cirque du soleil sunt, or if something had gone terribly wrong.


on the 22nd, snowflake tucked herself and gray kitty into the santa hat on top of the tree. yes, there was a santa hat on top of the tree. the star didn't fit.


on the 23rd, snowflake got a little "project runway"-ish and created a fashion forward look out of wrapping paper. she totally made it work.


and ... that's it. i failed to take a picture on the 24th. however, she was just sitting in harper's room, next to a gift that santa had told her she could bring to harper. the gift? harper's christmas eve jammies.

 really sweet, happy jammies with sunshine and rainbows.


and on the 25th, snowflake was gone. but under the tree, harper found a special gift just for her. from snowflake.


we'll see you again in 336 days, snowflake.

snowflake, days 12 - 16

oh, snowflake. i love that you bring a smile to my daughter's face. i hate that i have to think about you every night, when all i want to do is fall into bed.

i did this to myself, didn't i?

alrighty then.

day 12: thursday morning, we discovered snowflake had strung a bunting between the lights over the island and was using it as a trapeze of sorts. harper astutely wondered how snowflake's hat was staying on, with gray kitty holding on to it.


day 13: back story ... every christmas, my parents give marc and me a silver bell. my grandparents did it for them each year they were married, and mom & dad started the tradition with us and my sister and her husband the years we got married. i love my bells, but they take a lot of work each year to polish and figure out what to do with them. we're never home for the holidays anyway, so i haven't gotten them out in quite a few christmases. this year, we'll be home for a change, so out those bells came, they are now polished and shiny. i hung a birch branch over the couch in the tv room to hold them, and snowflake thought it the perfect spot to end up on friday.


day 14: saturday morning, we found snowflake and gray kitty had built themselves a marshmallow igloo.


day 15: on sunday, harper found snowflake and gray kitty in the pantry, holding a bowl full of elf kisses. when i asked her if she tried one, she said yes, and that they taste just like human kisses, but a little different. as one would expect.

day 16: it's monday again, which means slacker elf returns for a few days. today? snowflake and gray kitty are just chillin' in a bucket of birch logs, cedar, and twinkle lights. works for me.


the weekend was too crazy for me to be more creative today. a swim meet friday, swim meet saturday ...


(he's dropped his 50 free and 100 free times consistently every meet for the past few months. he's currently at :25.9 and :58.06 respectively. which will only mean something to you if you know about swimming. but he's doing a great job, and is swimming varsity again ... as an 8th grader.)

birthday party saturday, piano recital on sunday ...


(crazy anxiety/crying/whining/fit-throwing all day leading up to the recital. but then she sat down and did a great job. twerp.)

... plus everything else. too much. we're all so, so ready for a break. one more week ... eight more days of snowflake ... we can do this.

snowflake, days 6 - 11

oh, i am soooo on top of this.

day 6: like all good elves, snowflake loves her some sugar. and hid up to her neck in a big bowl of halloween candy. (yes, we still have halloween candy. technically, we still have some from last year, too. i should really just throw it out.)


day 7: snowflake and gray kitty opted to give harper a little geography lesson, by pointing out where on the globe snowflake calls "home."


day 8: saturday ... snowflake gets trickier on the weekends. she was in the basement, hiding amongst all of the christmas music boxes and snow globes in the hutch.


day 9: i finally managed to get some christmas up around the house. we decorated the tree at the last second possible on sunday night. but late saturday i put up the stockings, and harper got to see snowflake and gray kitty hanging around in hers when she woke up.


day 10: harper has been asking for weeks for this branch reindeer at the grocery store. i always told her no. well, guess who showed up, riding the reindeer, monday morning?


day 11: harper could not find snowflake this morning. at all. couldn't find her after school, either. i made her look and look. silly elf was in harp's room the whole time, snuggled up for a nap with saige, and gray kitty was chillin' in the basket with nutmeg. sometimes the most obvious place is the hardest to find.


soooo ... the elf is back.

and i almost forgot all about her.

december first ... we'd gotten home from indiana late on saturday evening after a whirlwind thanksgiving/grandma's 90th birthday celebration:


sunday morning, we all tried to get a little sleep ... except for harper, who was up and watching "my little pony" by 7:30. i went downstairs at 8:30 to have some coffee, putter around, and at 10:00 i realized that it was december 1st.


so i quickly did a little crafty sign, ran upstairs, grabbed the elf out of my underwear drawer (didn't want to have to scramble to find her, like last year), stuck it in harper's room (thankfully, her room is always super dark, and she doesn't turn on lights when she wakes up. so the idea that the elf was there all along and she just didn't see it was plausible.)

an hour later, i told her she needed to get dressed so we could eat lunch. at that point, she noticed the elf and squealed, "snowflake is back!!!!! wait ... was she in my room when i woke up? i didn't even see her!"

luckily, harper forgot it was december 1st, too.


monday morning, harp came down for breakfast and found snowflake and gray kitty swinging on the (still undecorated) christmas tree.


that evening, she grabbed some dolls and doll accessories and set up a Welcome Back, Snowflake tea party, complete with hot cocoa goldfish crackers and placecards. (placecards, people. how does she know what a placecard is?!)

so of course snowflake was in attendance on tuesday morning.


the party must have gotten a little crazy, because on wednesday, snowflake was under the weather and called in sick for the day.


thankfully, she was feeling much better this morning, and donned an ugly christmas sweater and was waiting for harper on the reindeer head outside of the kids' room, along with gray kitty.



(while we're at it, dear pinterest: thank you for having an abundance of elf on the shelf pins. you take all of the hassle and work out of having to be creative every day. if i have to come up with my own ideas only every fourth day or so? sweet. you're awesome. love, michele)

snowflake/xmas/2012 wrap-up

(don't be afraid: this post will be way less wordy and ambitious than the title suggests. i'm just sweeping the past 10 days under the rug in one big whoosh.)

we left off with snowflake bidding us adieu ... we were off to indiana for the christmas holiday. harper was a bit worried about snowflake finding us, but never fear ... she awoke to gray kitty dangling outside her bedroom door on saturday morning, clinging onto a note from snowflake that stated she would meet us in indiana, after running a quick errand for santa.


10 hours in the car later ... we were at my parents'. and it was good. until we discovered at bedtime that harper had failed to pack her pajamas. this did not go over well. in fact, it's a wonder she calmed down enough to go to sleep. but she did, and i promised her i would find her some pajamas on sunday.

the next morning, harper was so excited to see if snowflake had, indeed, found us ... and sure enough, there she was: sitting on the fireplace mantle. WITH gray kitty.

and she had a note for harper, along with a present. apparently, santa had heard about harper's lack of jammies, and allowed snowflake to bring an early gift: harp's xmas eve jammies. (this actually solved a myriad of problems: how to dress harp for bed on the night before the night before christmas; how to give jammies to harp without giving some to henry, who had said he was "done" with santa this year; how to not raise questions from harp if wyatt and nora didn't get jammies, since the pjs are our tradition, not theirs.) harper was thrilled ... and even more so when she discovered that santa had also brought matching pajamas for julie, her american girl doll.

and there was peace.

later that morning, my aunts and uncles and cousins and their families from my dad's side were over, and there was a lot of noise and talking and catching up.

marc and the kids and i managed to sneak away for two hours to meet up with one of my oldest and dearest friends, katie, and her family. we had a great visit, wondered how we can get together more often than once every four years or so, and harper appeared to make a new friend of her own: their daughter, abbie.


monday morning, christmas eve, snowflake was again hanging out in a tree. her farewell ... watching over us all day long.

we went through all of our xmas eve traditions: last minute shopping (i had forgotten to pack harper's santa gift, among other things (like, practically every stocking stuffer, etc.), last minute wrapping, and then the fun stuff ... hanging stockings, writing letters to santa, reading "'twas the night before christmas," playing games and snacking and so forth. and then it was time for christmas.

amazingly, the kids let us sleep until 7:30 christmas morning. when they got up, they immediately went out to check their stockings. harp came running over to me: gray kitty was in her hands, and in gray kitty's hands was a rolled-up note. from snowflake. telling harper how much she will miss her this year, to be good, and to look on her ipod ...

harp went running to the bedroom and returned with her ipod. she turned it on and there, on her lock screen, was this:

can you see it? harper, sleeping, snuggled with julie, and snowflake and gray kitty snuggled up with her as well.

her eyes were huge. "snowflake snuggled me?!" she asked. "how did she take a picture??" "i don't know," i told her. "maybe santa took it."

oh. man. she was over the moon.

(even now ... if you ask her what her favorite gift was, she'll tell you it is the picture of snowflake sleeping with her. so totally worth the riskiness of getting said photo.)

and then ... christmas. and all of its joy and craziness.

and to spare you endless scrolling ... here's the holiday weekend in one neat spot:

Xmascollageand an extra pic of wyatt and nora, because they are stinkin' cute.

on wednesday, we were to have another gathering with my mom's side of the family, but a winter storm blew through, dumped a bunch of snow (5" is "a bunch" in indiana), so no one drove around, the gathering was cancelled, and we went sledding and ate snacks all day long.

decent trade-off.

and then it was over. 10 more hours in the car on thursday, and we were home.

then i got sick.

now it's monday, and i'm still sick. so much for new year's plans. i'm just going to assume that this means 2012 is going out like a lion, and 2013 will come in like a lamb.

or something like that. who knows. i've been drugged and napping for the past four days.

tomorrow we wake up with a fresh start, and on wednesday the kids go back to school and i will make eggs benedict for me and marc to celebrate a quiet house, and then i start making lists. because that's what i do every year on january 2nd. projects and cleaning and personal "to do"s and grocery re-stocking ... i have a brand new notebook all ready to go.

so, i raise my 2 tb of nyquil to you with wishes of a happy new year! see you in 2013.


snowflake round-up

it's been a week. time for more of snowflake's adventures ...

day 17: she decided to hang out in the tree, snuggled with gray kitty, and spend the day looking out the window.

day 18: harper came home from school and decided to draw pictures of reindeer for everyone she knows. that night, snowflake drew some reindeer of her own for harp.

Day18(by the way: my daughter draws some great reindeer, in case you were wondering.)

day 19: harp had made a little "dressing room" for julie, her american girl doll. she had all the shoes and accessories lined up. (which sounds way fancier than it is; she has three pairs of shoes, and the purse and belt that came with julie. "accessories" might be overstating.) snowflake and gray kitty did a little "trying on" and got caught.

day 20: harp awoke to find snowflake had baked her some special snowflake cookies. she decided they must be "north pole" cookies because they were really crispy and tasted "kind of like a cracker." and then they got sweet. and she ate three for breakfast.

day 21: yesterday, harper's class had a gingerbread house party. the kids all made and decorated their own gingerbread houses. harp's house was ... minimal. however, her yard was landscaped within an inch of its life: gingerbread man making a "snow angel" in the frosting and shaved coconut snow, a marshmallow snowman, two gingerbread men riding on a sled she made out of a candy corn and candy cane-shaped sprinkles, etc.

so this morning, we found snowflake had added some visitors. to my countertop. gonna have to scrub that down tonight when snowflake ... flies away.

continuing with the light & cheery and "christmas spirit." trying. i'm writing again - elsewhere - for an online magazine called "get born." the article i'd planned for the 18th, my day, got scrapped at 1:30 a.m. that morning. i couldn't sleep. the thoughts of sandy hook kept rolling through my brain and heart, and i couldn't stop crying. so i got up and wrote, and this is what happened. it helped a little, but my emotions are still raw. the idea that these beautiful children were taken the way they were ... that the last thing they saw in their lives was evil ... i'm having a hard time shaking that. maybe it's because i am a writer; the only way i can truly convey emotions and feelings is to be able to put myself in the shoes of the person and feel. and right now i feel too much. i look at harper and think: she's seven. last christmas, she was right where those kids were ... first grade, no front teeth, sweet little face, thinking only of christmas and all things wonderful and good. and my heart breaks. for those kids ... for their parents and families ... for that school. and i get so mad that it happened at all.

so to focus on snowflake and getting through the month with my christmas spirit intact for my own kids ... that's what is keeping me going. otherwise, i'm not sure i'd be looking forward to the holiday much at all this year. right now, all i want is peace and time with those i love. hopefully, that will be easy enough.

snowflake - days 11 through 16

right now, i'm so thankful for that crazy elf that i can't even say. my heart and mind have been so mired in friday's events in connecticut that all the christmas spirit that i'd tried desperately to flame into existence this year was extinguished completely. somehow, christmas music seems all wrong, and planning festivities seems so inappropriate. "heartbroken" doesn't seem quite right for what this is. neither does "furious" or "horrified." i look at my sweet little girl, born in 2005 like so many of the victims, and i can't even begin to put myself in the shoes of so many families.

and yet, you keep going. you have to. and you create yet another magical morning for that little girl who so looks forward to it, and who cannot wait to hop out of bed in the morning to see where snowflake landed.

christmas will come. it will be different - at least for parents - but christmas will come.

and so will snowflake.

on the 11th, snowflake sat atop the most relevant word of the season: believe.


we all need belief. in faith. in magic. in hope. in love. in goodness. in peace. without the belief that those things are possible, the worst elements in this world will win.

on the 12th, snowflake and gray kitty sent harp on her way with a little mudroom encouragement:

on the 13th, snowflake and gray kitty found themselves a little hiding spot in the kids' bathroom, and brought nightlights along just in case:

on the morning of the 14th, when all was still right with the world, snowflake and gray kitty dressed in crowns and pretties, and took a drive to the sliding doors, to watch the sun come up.

friday night, after henry's swim meet, harper asked if she could make her own bed of pillows and blankets on the floor of her room and sleep there. we said yes, and snowflake apparently needed to be snuggled nearby ... just out of reach of harper's feet so she wouldn't accidentally be kicked, but close enough to feel safe. on the morning of the 15th, harper found her elf there as soon as she awoke:

Day15this morning, harper had to look all over before finally finding snowflake and gray kitty in the basement. they had been busy overnight, decorating a small tinsel tree that is in the tv room, and putting together a paper chain. (a paper chain that fell apart in numerous links all night long. apparently, it's been so long since i used scrapbook adhesive that it just wasn't sticky anymore. poor snowflake.)

and tonight snowflake will fly somewhere else, and do something else that will delight harper in the morning. and then harp will eat some pancakes, brush her teeth, and hop on a bus for her last monday of school in 2012, where they will talk about building gingerbread houses on thursday, and pajama day on friday. and all of the teachers will look at those eager, trusting, beautiful faces, knowing that a "normal day in elementary school" will never be "normal" again.