Friday, December 30, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Creative Discipline

Lately Bennett has found great entertainment in being incredibly bipolar. One moment he is gushing adorable cuteness, and the next he is throwing the remote across the room while simultaneously breaking the camera and biting the couch. What the heck?! Who is this kid?! So we have gotten tired of the typical disciplinary actions--you know, the yelling, the time outs, and the spankings. What do they teach anyway?--And have found a much better way to show our son the importance of being soft.

Look for our latest parenting book, coming soon to a Barnes and Nobel near you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Birthday

My Birthday is November 28th, which means it is almost always around Thanksgiving. Sharing a birthday with a holiday really bugs some people, but I found that I tend to benefit from the fact that my birthday falls on a day when there are lots of people gathered who are all in a very thankful, giving mood. Plus, I would usually milk the whole "I'm never home on my birthday" point to my mom growing up, so I usually had several different parties that would drag my birthday out for weeks at a time as I celebrated once with my extended family at Thanksgiving, once with just my family when we got home, and once with my friends later during the week. My birthday rocks.

Now that I am all grown up (and yes, 25 in my mind has always been the official, "all grown up" mark) my birthday still rocks. I married a man who loves to celebrate and does an amazing job at surprising me with things I never even knew I wanted, and our son has had a fascination with birthdays (more particularly candles and cake) since he turned two almost a year ago. So I was not let down this year.

We celebrated my birthday on the same Saturday as our Thanksgiving, even though my real birthday wasn't until the following Monday. We just have a thing about never doing things on the day you are actually supposed to do them.

The morning started with Matt and Bennett singing me "Happy Birthday" which got Bennett really excited about the cake and candles. I'm pretty sure he sung that song to me about thirty times throughout the day, which he would then end by having me "blow out" the candles (which were a variety of things from a plastic french fry to an actual candle he found in our bathroom and tried to light with a lighter. Scary.) and then he would ask me where the cake was.

After my birthday song (the first one) Matt gave me my first present of the day...A CAMERA!! Not the point and shoot kind, the record kind. Where you can take videos that are longer than thirty seconds and then have actual family videos to watch when your kids are all grown up and you want to remember how cute they were at their Kindergarten graduation. I was so SO happy! Especially after Matt told me he stood in a crazy Black Friday line outside of Best Buy for three hours to get it for me at a great price.

Funny side story: When Matt came home from his Black Friday shopping, he told me he had a few things he didn't want me to see. So I closed my eyes when he came in the house with everything and I didn't peek (I am good at not ruining my own surprises.) However, Matt never said anything to Bennett, since it's never made a difference before. But while Matt was wrapping my present, Bennett walked over and literally shouted, "OH MOMMY! LOOK! A CAMERA! A CAMERA!" Poor Matt, he had tried so hard. I pretended to be surprised anyway.

The rest of the morning was full of Thanksgiving-y things like turkey making and table setting-up. But then around 11:00am the doorbell rang and in came this beautiful Edible Arrangement with chocolate-dipped fruit and a pineapple "25" in the center. It was so cute and so yummy.

Funny side story: While Matt and I were driving in the car a few days before this day, Matt decided to check his voice mail using the Bluetooth in our car. So over the entire surround sound system comes this lady's voice telling Matt that his Edible Arrangement had been confirmed for 11:00am on November 26th, 2011. Poor Matt, he had tried so hard. I pretended to be surprised anyway.

So pretty soon people started showing up at our house for Thanksgiving and the party got underway. When all the food was spread on the table, and we were just about to start eating, Matt stopped everyone and told them all that it is my birthday on Monday. Everybody cheered and clapped and said "Happy Birthday!" and then from around the entry hall Mary came in carrying in a beautiful chocolate pie with real whipped cream from from favorite pie place in a town an hour away from here. It was all lit up with candles and everybody sang to me and then Bennett sat on my lap and helped me blow out the candles.

Funny side story: I had wanted a chocolate pie at Thanksgiving since we started making food arrangements back in the beginning of November. I assigned myself the project...and then procrastinated it as everything else that goes along with hosting a Thanksgiving with 17 people in attendance took precedence. So only moments before we were supposed to be sitting down and eating my delicious homemade chocolate pie, I found myself scouring the freezer section of every grocery store in town, and coming up empty handed. That's the downside to having Thanksgiving after everybody else. Fortunately, all of our guests were bringing pie, so I just resigned myself to eating something else instead of chocolate this year. Little did I know that Matt had secretly arranged for Mary and Wayne to pick up this pie at a VERY busy pie store and transport it an hour up to our house where everybody could sing "Happy Birthday" to me and I could blow it out with pure joy. Matt had tried so hard. And I really was surprised. What a great guy.

So that was my birthday. Along with several other presents, including a new purse from Mary and Wayne, new family picture frames from my mom and dad (well, the money they sent was spent on that) a little extra moolah from some of Matt's grandparents, and many many birthday cards, phone calls, and texts from countless others. It was one heck of a good day.

Well, that was the celebration part of my birthday, since my real birthday was on the next Monday when Bennett decided he was going to be a monster and throw fits every few seconds. But Matt more than made up for it when he came home from work early, told me Bennett was going down the street for a few hours, and then made me a delicious dinner while we talked in the kitchen and I painted my toes. After that we watched a few episodes of my favorite show, I took a long hot bath, and then when we were good and ready, we walked down to pick up Bennett, who had been busy helping Miss Joelle make me lemon cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I have to say, 25 is shaping up to be a pretty great year. I am one lucky girl.

Black Friday

So this is what happens when you get this far behind in blogging. You start putting stories and events ahead of one another, and then you have to go back later and say what really happened before the last post happened.

Like now.

Before we had Thanksgiving on Saturday, we had Thanksgiving on Thursday. Well, sort of. We had Papa John's Pizza on Thursday (real Thanksgiving) but the day itself was absolutely wonderful. We did nothing and felt no guilt for it since every store was closed and everybody was busy. It was the best vacation ever. That night when we went out to get our pizza though, we noticed quite a few cars at Wal-Mart, so we decided to see what was going on. And that's when we remembered it was Black Friday in just a few hours.

Matt and I don't traditionally do Black Friday. We are the kind of people who buy what they want throughout the year at full price, wait until December 23rd to get their Christmas shopping done, and don't ever think twice about it. So no need to rush anything. However, as we were walking around looking at all the awesome stuff Wal-Mart had on sale for this one night, we suddenly found ourselves saying, "Oh! Wouldn't so-and-so love that? Don't we have them for Christmas this year? What a great price!" And we were committed. Because that is, after all, what happens when you go insane.

We got our pizza and ate it together at home. Then, when Bennett was down for the night and I was tucked into bed myself (I go to bed about thirty minutes after Bennett does. I need a lot of sleep to be a nice person) Matt put on his running shoes and a helmet (not really with the helmet) and went out into the chaos. My brave warrior, heading out to do battle with the masses for Christmas presents, while his family slept the night quietly away. I was so proud of him.

He got home around 3:00 in the morning after hitting several of the big players (Best Buy, Target, Kohl's, Wal-Mart), and then popped awake again around 6:30 to run to Lowe's for their opening. By the time I saw him it was around 10:00am and Bennett and I were already deep into our morning routine of Sesame Street and scrambled eggs, having slept a peaceful night. Matt had a huge stack of presents, all for a fraction of the price of what we would have spent normally, and several war stories that would rival the ones from Iraq. And our Christmas shopping is all but complete! Even mine, since while at Lowe's Matt bought several things for himself that he then gave to me to wrap and give to him.

Man. If I knew Black Friday would be this easy, I would have sent Matt out years ago.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Let's start with Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday here in America. But in the Hargrave family, Thanksgiving is always on the Saturday after. This is because Mary (Matt's mom) is a nurse and works most Thanksgivings, and also because it is easier for everybody to travel on a weekend instead of in the middle of the week. Every Thanksgiving for my entire life, all I have had to do during this holiday was show up. We almost always went to somebody else's home, and if I was assigned something to bring, it was something like rolls or a pie which could be easily made and forgotten.

Not this year. This year we hosted Thanksgiving at our home. With 17 people in attendance. It started out as a family thing, but slowly throughout the month of November people began having interferences and couldn't make it. Almost in unison with the absence of family, however, several of our close friends here mentioned that they missed the big Thanksgivings their own extended families would be having without them, as it is so expensive to travel for such a short holiday. So little by little, friends took the place of family until Saturday when we had a house full of people and food and good times. Mary and Wayne were still able to attend, and even spent the night. All in all it was a fantastic Thanksgiving. And the best part? Besides providing the tables and chairs and centerpieces, I hardly had to cook anything because everybody brought so much with them. It was wonderful.

We did, of course, do the turkey and ham, but I left Matt in charge of those (which meant that Mary actually did the ham. Thanks Mary.) But Matt decided we were going to deep-fry our turkey in peanut oil. Oh. My. Goodness. I have eaten 25 turkeys in my lifetime and this was easily the best one I have ever had. It was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and nothing started on fire while we were cooking it. Defiantly something to be thankful for.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Parable

A hardened criminal spent three years in a Turkish prison, where he was treated very poorly and fed very little food. One night, his posy made plans and successfully broke him out. They rode together to the home of one of the clan, where a beautiful meal was spread upon the table. The man, having been starved nearly to death for the last three years, began to feast. He ate and ate to his heart's content...until suddenly he started to go into convulsions. His brothers in crime had no idea what to do, and so they watched as the man, who had just tasted his first breaths of freedom only moments ago, died in front of their eyes. What was it that killed him, you ask? It was the food. Because the man had been so deprived of nourishment for so long, his body physically could not handle the amount of rich foods he suddenly forced into it. And so, as an ironic end to this criminal's sad life, his stomach contracted to the point of death.

This is a true story (well, almost. I may have made up some of the details, but the concept is accurate.) And if blogging is anything like eating, I will take a page from this man's book and take it a little at a time after the long stent of nothingness we have just experienced. You may be saying, "But Haley! What about the Waco Zoo? And Thanksgiving? And your 25th birthday? And the beginning of the Christmas season? What about Griffin and Ashland's visit? What about Matt's new promotion? What about Bennett being ridiculously cute and terroristic all at the same time? When oh when will we get to hear all about your totally amazingly awesome life?" Well, my friends, as tempted as I am to just smear a bunch of pictures across this blog and put a few captions under each, I will not do it. At least not now and not all at once. A little at a time. Easy does it.

I refuse to be the person who ends up dead on the floor.