Ever After
  • Tad
  • December26th

    1 Comment

    The weeks leading up to Christmas this year were full of fun visits from grandmas and the usual frenzy of holiday preparations.

    And as routine as some of the activities were, I really can’t remember a more magical holiday; Vivi and Tad are at the PERFECT age for all the wonderment of the season, and Ariana is at the PERFECT age to embrace the true meaning of the traditions.

    Each year during the week leading up to winter break, the kindergarteners at Vivi’s school are immersed in a gingerbread theme. The curriculum unit is made especially fun because the kids receive random, secret visits from a mischievous gingerbread man named “Max.” However, leaving a trail of candy and chos in his wake, Max ultimately runs away on the last day of school before vacation . . . “You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!” Vivi was OBSESSED with poor Max. She couldn’t understand why he would run away and not come back, and even after Max left a note at our house assuring Vivi that he was safe and sound at the North Pole and that he would deliver word to Santa that Vivi should definitely be on the “Nice List,” she worried about his well being.

    Christmas Eve, Max accompanied Santa back to our house and continued his impish ways–he hid our Christmas tree and stockings. We awoke on Christmas morning and headed downstairs to open presents. The kids were distraught to discover that everything was missing. But Max left a note on the hearth: “When Santa and I delivered your stockings, Santa let me hide them. Good luck finding them. Ha! Ha! Max”

    Thankfully, we didn’t have any major meltdowns before discovering the tree, stockings and presents up in the playroom. Oh, that crazy Max!

    As a kid, some of my favorite Christmases were the years that we made presents for each other. I’ve always wanted to continue this tradition with my own kids, and this year I actually mustered the umph to do it.

    With my help, Vivi made snap bags for everyone–one for Ariana to keep her glasses in, and matching wallets for Dad and Tad to put their credit cards and other treasures. She sat on my lap and raised and lowered the presser foot, pressed the backstitch button, and helped clip threads. Everything came from the stash, and the boys’ bags were actually made from Ari’s old jeans and BT’s old dress shirts.

    Tad (aka “Buck”) made his sisters some barrettes for their hair–he helped glue the flowers down on the felt backing.

    He also made BT a “Buck Book”–a coupon book of fun things that he promises to do with Dad. It reduced BT to tears because it documented the fun little things that Buck and BT do together at this stage in Tad’s life.

    Ariana went all out for her siblings and helped create fabulous stick horses. Vivi has been asking for one of these ever since she could say her first words, and Buck runs around the house with a shoestring between his legs pretending that he’s riding a horse, so Ari and I figured this would be the perfect gift for them this year. The horses took quite a bit of time, but the outbursts of joy from Vivi and Tad when they saw their gifts made everything worth it.

    Ariana also continued her tradition of documenting the special things she and her dad enjoyed during the year in a sketch book. She started it back in 2006 as a five year old when she celebrated her first Christmas with Bryan as her dad, and it’s priceless to see the drawings from each year.

    I was able to convince BT that the Tolberts needed to join the 21st century and get our first video game system. The Wii has been lots of fun thus far, and BT has even stayed up after the rest of us have gone to bed so that he can bowl, pitch and slam backhands without fear of interruption or embarrassment. I’m surprised that he’d admit it, but he complained of being sore the next morning from all the sports he had played. I guess it is a little more strenuous than the late night family history work he’s accustomed to.

    Tad pronounced that chips were his favorite gift as he pounded down a one-and-a-half-inch stack of Pringles. I was touched that he at least put his can in a larger lid to try and catch the crumbs.

    But he’s also had a ton of fun with the tools that we got him. I’m determined to train that boy to take over all the household fix-it responsibilities so that I can eventually retire from this thankless, frustrating task.

    Vivi gently tends to the needs of her new cats–stuffed “Furreal” cats, but she doesn’t seem to mind that they don’t need a litter box.

    Ari needs to enter an addiction recovery program for a wii obsession, and she also loves her Alton Brown, The Early Years book.

    Despite its challenges, we were truly blessed in 2011, and we look forward to the adventures 2012 will bring.


  • February22nd



    Posted in: Tad, Vivi

    What fun it is to have two littles at home that help keep each other company. Tad and I are going to be awfully lonely when Vivi starts kindergarten next year.

    Last week, they spent HOURS amusing themselves with a box of foam peanuts. And surprisingly, they even cleaned up after themselves.

    The sight of them sitting in their box watching Rudolph together is something I never want to forget. Surely, I’ll remember days like this as some of the best of my life.

  • February22nd


    Tough Tad!

    Posted in: Tad

    Tad is one TOUGH kid.  He rarely cries when he gets hurt, and if he does cry, you know he’s REALLY hurt. And I love that he’s still young enough to be soothed by his momma’s kisses.

  • September21st



    Posted in: Tad

  • September20th



    Posted in: Tad

    No, this is not the sick Halloween joke of a psychopath.  Sadly, this “razor lollipop” was Tad’s pre-church “treat” yesterday morning.

    Let me explain.

    I hadn’t yelled at my kids a single time–quite a feat for a busy Sunday morning. We were right on schedule and were actually going to be to church on time for a change!

    • Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best.  I even found Tad’s belt right where it was supposed to be–in his top drawer.
    • Ariana’s hair was presentable, pulled back in a ponytail.
    • Vivi stood patiently as I curled her white-blonde locks with the flat iron.
    • Tad occupied himself quietly by rifling through bathroom drawers.  Yes, he was making a mess.  No, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t clean up in a matter of minutes.
    • And as I put the finishing touches on Vivi’s “do,” Tad whined, “Mouth yucky.  Mouth yucky.  Mouth yucky.”  (He says everything in three’s).

    To my horror, I glanced down and caught Tad with a pink disposable razor sticking out of his mouth and blood smeared all over his hands and face.

    A wave of nausea swept over me, and I was suddenly drenched in perspiration as I gently wiped my baby clean, carefully examining him for cuts.  But the more I wiped, the more there was to wipe.  Where was he bleeding?  His tongue? Lips? Fingers? Face?

    Several times a day as Vivi says her prayers, she utters the same words:  “Bless me to be safe.  Bless all of us to be safe.”  Sometimes I am irritated by her repetition, but I gratefully reflected on these words when I discovered that, despite SUCKING on a RAZOR, only Tad’s upper lip had sustained a cut.

    After several minutes of direct pressure, the bleeding subsided and we were able to go (late) to church.


    And now a side note:

    As I was preparing this post, Tad pulled a piece of fabric off the counter, bringing my camera and $$$ lens with it.  As I rushed into the kitchen, I found the equipment scattered across the floor.  The force of the impact had ripped the lens and mount clean off the camera.  A few feet away, the camera–flat on its back, torn apart with small pieces of metal and tiny screws littering the tile around it–looked up pitifully at the ceiling.

    A wave of nausea swept over me, and I was suddenly drenched in perspiration as I gently picked up my camera.  I sobbed.  Vivi and Tad joined me.

    When I thought about the fact that BT would probably never let me buy another camera or lens, I sobbed even harder.  When I thought about all the memories that I wouldn’t be able to capture, I was downright inconsolable.  And so it was for several minutes.

    Wiping the tears from my eyes and my nose on my shirt, I figured out how to extricate the lens from the mount.  Picking up the tiny pieces, I tried to put humpty dumpty back together again.

    My heart beat faster as I remounted the lens (it clicked!) and prayed that Vivi’s pleas for safety would somehow also extend to my camera.

    It turned on.  It took pictures.  The pictures appear to be properly exposed and focused.