Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Come on Down to the Wilderness Cafe


A veritable smorgasbord awaits you at the Wilderness Cafe.

And you don't have to have big bucks to enjoy the feast.

The Wilderness Cafe offers a peaceful atmosphere for all of our guests.

Birds of any feather can flock here together.

Feel free to just hang around.

And did we mention that the wait staff is very friendly (and cute)?

Bon Appetit, 

Your friends at the Wilderness Cafe

All Around the House

I want to share some pictures with you of the lovely Christmas decorations that my mother and father in law have in and around their home.

It is like eye candy to me (without the calories).

From the moment that you get to the road that winds its way up to Music Man's parents' home you know that you have arrived somewhere special. 

Doesn't this door just say, "Welcome Home?"

A Moravian Star lights the entry way.

My father in law made this manger scene. He has mad woodworking skills.

Sequined studded birds adorn a tree by the front door.

Here is just a sampling of the gorgeous stain glass nativity scene that my sister in law and brother in law made for Music Man's parents.

This charming cookbook was given to my mother in law by her brothers when she was in college.  Music Man remembers this book from his childhood.

A folksy Santa watches over the living room.

I love the organic nature of this Nativity scene.  It is carved from olive tree wood.

A stained glass angel.  Don't you just love the iridescent glass on her gown?

Better Homes and Garden can not hold a candle to this home.

I wonder if the stained glass manger scene will fit in my purse? Do you think my in laws would miss it?

Just joking,


I'm Cuckoo for Cheese Curds

Have you ever had a cheese curd?  Well, if you haven't you must.  And if you have, you probably did not stop at just one.  They are additive. 

The first time I tried a cheese curd it was love at first squeak. 


Yes, squeak. 

The slightly, salty mild cheddar nuggets will literally squeak when you bite into them.  It's their way of saying hello to your taste buds.  Even the food is friendly in Wisconsin!

Aha! But, I discovered something even more yum then the fresh cheese curd. 

Say hello to my little friend the fried cheese curd.

I love these little nuggets!  They are not squeaky, just really cheesy (in a good way). The coating on the outside is crunchy and tastes a bit like Italian bread crumbs. 

There are yellow and white cheddar cheese curds.  Just look at that gooey goodness. 

And if I do not stop eating these little morsels, I will not be able to fit in the van for the ride home. 

Wait, maybe that would not be so bad.  Since we do not have cheese curds in Florida, maybe it is my destiny to live in Wisconsin.  Maybe I was meant to eat cheese curds for a living. 

Pondering life one cheese curd at a time,


Sunday, December 26, 2010


There is a tradition in our family that a certain uncle (no names mentioned) dresses up like Santa each year and comes to visit the kids at grandma and grandpa's house.  This tradition has been going on for years and years.  In fact, the nameless uncle's father used to be Santa many Christmases ago.  So, the tradition carries on.

This year was no different.  "Santa" came to the door.  Peeked through the window.  Please take note of my little girl as she realizes that Santa is at the door.  She is confidently waiting up front and center. Santa!

In this next photo, notice how she has retreated behind the column, not quite so confident anymore.  Santa? 

Here she is thinking it over.  Weighing her options.  Santa? No Santa?  Gift?  No gift? What will it be? Decisions? Decisions?

In the end though, the lure of the gift won.  Or was it the charm of the Claus?  The world may never know.

Ho, ho, ho,


A Heap'n Help'n of Christmas Cuteness.

Oh, how I love little ones all dressed up in their holiday best.

Baby boys in argyle sweater vests. (emphasis on the baby boy because it is literally the only time when my boys will wear a sweater vest of any kind).

Little girls with matching dresses and big bows in their hair.  All dressed up, fresh faced, bright eyed, bushy tailed.  

Oh, so sweet!  Oh, so cooperative!  Oh, so charming!

And in this picture, my little man is giving me the "I am oh, so over this and out of here look."  This is just before he ran off screaming, "This sweater vest make me look like a sissy!" Well, not really. But I am pretty sure he was thinking it.

Another magical mommy moment with the monkeys,


Saturday, December 25, 2010

We Killed Kringle!

No, not Chris Kringle. 

This morning, after watching the monkeys open their gifts, we had coffee and a delectable, delicate Danish pastry called Kringle. 

OMT (that's Oh My Tastbuds) was it amazing!  A little slice of pastry heaven, I tell you.  And in the blink of an eye, that Kringle was just gone.  We devoured it, we killed it.  Oh, the joys of Christmas goodies!

Help! I can't stop eating,


Some People are Morning People...

And some people are not...

Morning people....

Not so much...

Enough said,


Over the River, Through the Woods and Across the Universe - Merry Christmas!!!

We made it to Wisconsin a couple of days ago and we have been having a blast ever since.  We have had people to see, places to go, and lots of beautiful snow.  The monkeys have traded their shorts, t-shirts, and sandals for snowsuits, coats, and snow boots.  They are spending hours outside playing.  I am pretty sure that they have no nerve endings because it is so cold!

It is Christmas Day as I write this.  Well, not exactly day.  It is actually just after midnight.  And everyone is asleep.  It is very peaceful out here in the woods of my mother and father in law's homestead.  Peaceful and serene.

This is a house with much love asleep under the roof tonight.  My sweet in laws have been married for 56 years.  They have 5 children, gobs of grandchildren, and even great grandkids!  Their love for their family is so evident.  I am very blessed to be a part of this family.

And, as I watch my children sleep this Christmas morning, I am overcome with a deep love. Pure joy is in my heart.  I am overwhelmed at the gift that my family is.  I am breathless at the thought that God choose to bless me in this way.  But mostly, I am thankful beyond words for the gift of Christ this Christmas.  He is the Creator of all of this love.

Merry Christmas and much love,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Over the River, Through the Woods, and Across the Universe- Part 5 - I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas (or am I?)

Very late last night, we were schlepping it through Kentucky.  It was cold.  Very cold.  But there was not a snowflake to be found.  No snow, nada, zilch.

Then, I must have fallen asleep and I had a dream.  I was dreaming of a white Christmas.  I dreamed that as soon as we crossed the state line into Indiana, it was snowing and there was snow on the ground.  In my dream, we stopped at a rest area and our kids went absolutely ape when they stepped out of the van and into the snow.  They were frolicking and playing.  It was a Winter Wonderland.

And suddenly, and I was caught in the crossfire of a snow ball fight.  Our kids were lopping snow balls left and right.

They were having a snow ball fight, at a rest stop, and it was way past their bedtime. And we were in Indiana. And I was okay with that, until I got hit with a snow ball and it was hard and cold and it hurt.  And then, I realized that I was not dreaming.  That the snow was real.  The rest stop was real.  My kids were real.  And it was really cold.  And I started crying and babbling, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home."  And I ran and hid in the van.  The End.

Wimpy in a Winter Wonderland,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Over the River, Through the Woods, and Across the Universe- Part 4 - An Oasis on the Interstate

After hours and hours and hours of driving, Music Man and I were jonesing for some coffee.  We were totally caffeine depleted.  We needed some Jo.

And then, just as we were reaching the zenith of our coffee craving, we just so happened to drive through Coffee County, Tennessee.  No kidding, there is a Coffee County in Tennessee and it was just taunting me.  No coffee, just cows and fields, no coffee in sight.  Oh, the inhumanity! Blast you, Coffee County, Tennessee! Blast you!

But out on the horizon, we saw something that gave us hope.  Was it a mirage?  Was it a hallucination? Was it the gateway to heaven on the highway?

Ah, Starbucks with a drive thru.  Bless you Coffee County, Tennessee!  Bless you!

Caffeine is my friend,


Over the River, Through the Woods, and Across the Universe- Quote of the Day

Driving the highways and bi-ways of the United States can give you a healthy perspective on humanity. It can open your eyes and heart to various cultures.  There's lots of food for thought out there.

One example would be the profound message that was plastered across the back of one of the many tracker trailers that we "convoyed" with yesterday.

I would like to make this profound statement our quote of the day.  "Don't hate me, because you ain't me."

Yep, those there are some words of wisdom that you can live by.

Quoting across the USA,


Over the River, Through the Woods, and Across the Universe- Part 3 - Ice, Ice, Baby

We were heading over the mountains in Tennessee and this is what we encountered. 

 Ice, Ice, Baby.  Bum, bum, bum, bum, biddy, bum, bum...
 Vanilla Ice, Ice baby.  Bum, bum, bum, bum, biddy, bum, bum...
Ice, Ice, baby, too cold, too cold.  Ice, Ice, baby, too cold, too cold. Word to your mother.

We out,

Vanilla Ice

Over the River, Through the Woods, and Across the Universe- Part 2- Convoy!!!

We are still on the road, with lots of "friends".

It reminds Music Man of a song from his childhood.  Take a listen.  It will change your life.

Rocking through the night with my great big convoy,

Rubber Duck

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Over the River, Through the Woods, and Across the Universe- Part 1 - The iPhone Rocks!!!

We have begun our trek to the Artic Tundra.  After 8 solid hours on the road, I have little to say, except that I am thankful for the iPhone.  Yes indeed, the iPhone rocks!

Do you see the joy on my boy's face?  That is iPhone joy! 

And to think that just seconds before, that little angel was sprouting horns and screaming toddler obscenities at us.  So, we did what any good parents would do and handed him an expensive piece of technology to slobber on.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Off to clean the baby goo from my iPhone,


Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my sweet mom's birthday!  So, I have done what any adoring daughter would do and wrote her a song.

Oh, Do You Know My Awesome Mom? (to the tune of Oh, Do you Know the Muffin Man?)

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom?  She lives on Elm Lane.

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom?  She raised six children, dang!

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom?  We drove her quite insane.

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom? Her grandchildren are her flame.

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom?  She spoils them all the same.

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom?  We love her, and who can blame?

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom?  Her lasagna's off the chain.

Oh, do you know my awesome mom, my awesome mom, my awesome mom?
Oh, do you know my awesome mom?  And Kathe is her name.

Love you, Mom!  Happy Birthday!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho and H2O

Let's face it, going to meet Santa can be a little unnerving for some kids.  I mean Santa may be jolly, but he also has extreme facial hair and his suit is a bit much (it's the gloves).  And there is something quite unsettling about sitting on some strange man's lap. I can't blame kids for their trepidation.

But nonetheless, there seems to be this tradition in our nation that one must take their little monkeys to visit the Jolly Red One at Christmas time. And kids across the United States, are migrating to malls in droves to meet the toymaker this week.

With this in mind, I thought that it would be fitting to share a little ditty from my Christmas past (way, way, way, past).  You see, when I was a wee tot, my parents took me to meet Santa.  I was their first born and they must have been so excited.  They dressed me up in a cute little Christmas outfit, combed my hair until it was smooth and shiny, and washed my little face.  They may have even helped prepare me mentally for my meeting with Santa by rehearsing what he might say to me and what I might say to him.  Everything was going great.

And then....

Me and Old Creepy Claus

I saw him with his suit and his extreme facial hair!  And then... before I could protest, they plopped me on his lap.  And then...he wrapped his creepy white gloves around me.  And then...he asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  And then...I just sat there staring at my parents and wondering if they had enough money to pay for my post traumatic stress counseling before I finally whispered my request to Santa, "I want some water".  And then... Santa leaned in a little closer and asked me to repeat myself.  "I want some water", I said a little louder.  And then...Santa looked at me like I had three heads and looked at my parents, shrugged and said, "You want water for Christmas?"  And then...I screamed.  And my parents whisked me away to a water fountain.  And to this day, whenever I get nervous I need a drink of water.  The End.

I have issues,


Friday, December 17, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 12

This last gift idea is my absolute favorite.  This gift encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas.  It is all about love and new beginnings and, and it just fills my heart with joy (I'm all farklemt. Talk amongst yourselves).

So, here it is.  Drum roll, please (Did you know in the 12 Days of Christmas song, the 12th gift is 12 drummers drumming?).  Drums continuing to roll, please.

The 12th gift idea is brought to you by Heifer International (no, no these are not the makers of "Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow"  ,the toy of my childhood dreams).

Our family has been big fans of Heifer International for years now.  For Christmas one year, our family members received gift cards from us explaining that we made a donation to Heifer International on their behalf.  You can make a donation online and print or email a gift card to go with it to your loved one.

You can purchase honey bees in honor of your special honey.  Or baby chicks for the cool chicks in your life.  Maybe, your Uncle Walter would be honored that you donated a water buffalo on his behalf.

With Heifer International,  are so many ways to bless those near and dear to you and families that you have never met from afar at the same time.

And there you have it!  12 Days and a dozen gifts. 

A dozen! That makes me think about the cookies that I have in the oven right now! And, I think that they are burning!

Call the fire brigade!


All I Wanted for Christmas was a "Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow"

At Christmas time, most kids have some pretty standard items on their list to Santa.
It is not unusual for Santa to read millions of requests for Legos, Barbies and maybe a Nerf gun or two.

But, every so often, Santa gets that one weirdo request from some strange kid.  I was that kid pretty much every year.

Santa must have wanted to exile me to the South Pole right along with the the odd gifts that I told him I desperately needed. 

My letters to Santa went something like this:

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year.  I have been nice to my sister most of the time (with the exception of that one time that I convinced her to stick her legs through our doll crib and she got stuck) and I have eaten most of my vegetables.

Since I have been such a good girl, may I please have a tiara and magic wand?  I promise that I will not use the wand to turn my sister into a frog or anything like that.


Missy (my childhood nickname)


Dear Santa,

I have been trying all year to remember to be good.  I have tried to be sweet to my sister (except for that one time that I convinced her to hide at the top of our closet and she got stuck)  and I have eaten some of my vegetables.

May I please have a real live pony with wings for Christmas?  It would be so much fun to fly on my pony in the sky while I am wearing my tiara and waving my magic wand.  Oh, and I am still waiting for those last two items.



But my personal favorite request to Santa came around the time I was about 7 years old or so.

Dear Santa,

I have been really good this year.  My sister even says that I have been nice to her on occasion (and I did not get her stuck anywhere this year).  So, I was wondering, since you must have run out of tiaras, magic wands and flying ponies, could I please, please have a "Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow"?  It would be a dream come true!  All I want for Christmas this year is a Milky.  PLEEEASE!!!!



And that year, Santa and his elves must have smiled upon me, because on Christmas morning, when I woke up and rushed into our family room, under the tree, was the gift of my dreams.  "Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow"!!!!

Would you like to see the joy that was "Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow"?  Just click here.  You won't be disappointed.  Maybe a little weirded out. Okay, maybe a lot weirded out.

After that year, I'm pretty sure that my parents censored all of my future letters to Santa.

Strangely yours,


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas - Days 10 and 11

Sorry about missing Day 10.  I have nothing against the number 10, really.  10 was a great age.  A little awkward maybe, but overall pretty decent.  But, I digress.

So, let me digress some more.  I missed Day 10 because it has been cookie baking time around these parts.  I have been up to my eyeballs and elbows in cookie dough.  For the past 24 hours, I have eaten nothing but raw eggs, flour, and sugar with a little vanilla extract to wash it all down.

I feel so healthy.  No seriously, the raw eggs have left such a shiny sheen on my hair.  And, I think that I may have Salmonella or E.Coli or Scurvy.

Have I told you about the love/hate relationship that I have with baking and decorating cookies?  More on that later. 

But now, for Day 10's gift idea, may I introduce you to Zach and his wax?

I found this totally fun and colorful hair wax last month and I am totally stoked!  My girls are going to love this stuff.  It is a water-based, very, temporary hair color that washes out after a few scrub-a-dubs in the tub. Wax on... wax off. Wax on... wax off. 

Do you have a child that is passionate about pink?  Or does purple pump them up? Are they revved up by red?  Do they yell for yellow? Orange you glad that I am going to stop now?

Seriously, this family company has so many colors (and products) to choose from.  And every purchase has a purpose.  A portion of the purchase of every tube of  Zach's Wax goes to support various charities and organizations.  Here is the line up:

Pink - Breast Cancer
White - Children’s Autism
Yellow - Children’s Diabetes
Black - Life Impact International
Green - Children’s Hospitals
Blue - Granting Children’s Dreams
Purple - Children’s Hunger fund
Red - Special Olympics
Orange - Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer
Clear - Mozambique Hospital  

You can order Zack's Wax and learn more about their company online by following this link.

Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don't forget to breathe, very important.

Since we are on the subject of hair, we should move along to Day 11,  before I quote anymore Karate Kid lines.

Day 11's gift is for the bow heads in your life.  These bows are for girlies with some serious style and school spirit.

And they are locally made, which sweetened the deal for me.

Whether you're a University of Central Florida fan (Go Knights!)...

Or you are a total genius with great taste and your a Florida State fan (Let's go Seminoles!).

Or maybe there is another team or school affiliation that fires you up.  Whatever the case, you can order some hair bows by emailing Pineappledesigns@hotmail.com or calling 407-538-0057.

I highly recommend the Florida State bows.  They are the BEST.  THE BEST.

F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-E,  Florida State, Florida State, Florida State, WOO!!!!!!!

Seminoles rule (Gators drool!),

Melissa (the raw cookie dough consumption has fried my brain.  Help!)

We Have a Tink - A Poem

We have a Tink.
Her breath doth stink.

We brought her home when our baby was just a little wink.
It was a hormonal purchase, I think.
(I mean who in their right mind brings home a puppy when they have a newborn?)

Our Tink's as faithful as she can be.
She waits at the door for her family.

Tink loves to lay upon your lap.
She curls up in a ball and takes a nap.

But, Tink has a dark side.  Yes, it's true.
She likes the garbage,  Ew, Ew, Ew!

She rummages and hunts and when she's through,
She finds herself a diaper with poo.

The End. 

Keeping it real,