new york city kid in arkansas
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‘Tis been quite a year for we three, what with changing almost everything we know.  It’s not for the faint of heart, this pack-up-your-life-and-move-halfway-across-the-country business.  There have been moments of fear, loneliness and doubt sandwiched between excitement, joy, peace and relief.  And as all this change surrounds me I hold on to this simple truth:  Huck still says “yeshterday.”

Goodbye to the year that will forever live in our hearts as one of adventure.  And as we settle more and more into this perfect little town for us, may the lessons learned in 2013 never stray too far away.  In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively, unless you can choose a challenge instead of a competence.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS AND FAMILY EVERYWHERE!!!

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We went home for the first Kansas White Christmas we can remember in many years.  We began in my hometown where the snow was very deep & our creatures very happy …

Next to Troy’s hometown where the snow wasn’t as deep but perfect for building snowmen …

And finally, an afternoon at my sister’s home where the snow had almost all melted away …

Now back to our new Home Sweet Home where we shall spend the rest of Christmas Break playing with our new toys, thankful for family, and glad to put our snow boots away.  Just now at bedtime Huck hugged me tightly and said he wished we could spend the rest of our lives at this exact age together.  Christmas.  It’ll break your heart every time.

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Merry Christmas from the Schremmers!

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Right after surviving the Fayetteville Snowfall of 2013 wherein the town closed down for one full week, on Friday the 13th our faithful friends Shannon and Greg braved the rainy highways and confusing weather forecasts and drove from Texas to spend a cozy weekend with us!  Troy had displayed all 22 Christmas cards he’s made over the years, and Shannon and Greg had received all but two of them. That’s 20 years of friendship (and cards).  Bring on the fun, people! There were presents to be opened, White Russians to be drunk, cookies to be eaten and poor man’s Telestrations to be played (which may be the funnest game ever invented).  We walked (and slipped) around Lake Fayetteville and rode a horse-drawn carriage around the well-lit town square.  We got out the massage table, played Jenga, watched Rudolph, saw a beautiful sunset, invented a ball game, toured the town, drove around looking at Christmas lights on houses, cooked together, ate together, and watched the snow melt away.

In the midst of all the fun, we three Schremmers took a pause to FaceTime with beloved friends back in NYC who had gathered for the annual neighborhood Christmas cookie contest party.  After about 20 delightful minutes we said our goodbyes and shut the laptop with achy lips from smiling and wet eyes from laugh-crying.  I took a moment and thought about all the faithful friends in our lives, whether they be the real golden ones who have a collection of Christmas cards that pre-date Max and Molly (and some of those friendships pre-date Troy and Jonny), or the golden ones we raised babies with in New York City, or these brand new silver ones who didn’t even know Troy could draw.  I love them all!

Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon, we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now!

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Here in pretty little Fayetteville we’re on Day Five of snow and ice and freezing cold and treacherous roads. During these fun & stir crazy days, Troy & I had a few scary falls on the ice (and I fell down Huck’s staircase), Sunny ate one of Troy’s house slippers, we hiked to the town square and back while Huck had a snowy play date, we lit Advent candles, we made reindeer cookies (idea & ingredients compliments of neighbor Lynne), we played cards, we played games, we read books, we watched movies, Troy hiked downtown to a rehearsal and back, I worried about money, Dixen the elf forgot to change position, and the angel atop our tree fell to her death too many times to count.  What with all the unexpected extra time on his hands, Troy finished the Christmas card but we can’t get it copied and mailed out quite yet.  Make up days for the (so far) three missed school days fall on future Saturdays to avoid summer going into June.  Our lonely car sits in the garage wondering if it was something she said.  Last night I caught myself skipping “Let It Snow” on Pandora with an annoyed shiver.  And we’re getting dangerously close to being out of coffee.

But we’ve got neighbor Jerry offering to take us to Walmart, an endless supply of ice cycles to play with, a giant space heater in the shape of an adorable fireplace where stockings hang, and the hazy memory of being told that Fayetteville has mild winters.

Maybe next week?

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Schremmers are sentimental.  Look what I found in our big tin full of ornaments …

We wrote these lil’ letters of questions to ourselves when we put away last year’s Christmas in January.  We were on the homestretch to this brand new life far from New York and curious about December 2013.  My first questions was: “Do you feel better now?”  Troy asked himself if he’d finished the Christmas card yet.  Huck wanted to know how much more of Pi his future eight year old self will know.  The answers are Yes, No, and about five more digits.

Without further adieu on this December 5th Snow Day, here’s our first Arkansas Christmas Tree all the way from Wisconsin named Plumpi (due to her girth), followed by the closest thing to a Huck ‘n Santa picture we will get this year, and ending with the most compliant reindeer-dog you ever saw …

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s St. Nicholas Festival wherein Huck found candy in his shoe!

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Yesterday I had to be at a preschool very early in the morning, which meant I left the house about 20 minutes before Troy and Huck.  When I arrived home later I found every single light and ceiling fan still on, shoes and clothing strewn about as if there had been an attempted murder/robbery, and Huck’s bed very unmade.  Upon seeing Huck in rumpled clothing after after-school I learned a few things.  One, there was a ladybug in his bed and Daddy wouldn’t help remove it and so he couldn’t make the bed. Two, he was really, really late to school. Upon seeing Troy after work I learned one thing.  They were frantically running the mile to school when a stranger pulled over and asked if they needed a ride, and since they did, they got into this stranger’s car and she took Huck to school where he got a late pass.

And this is why we have mothers.

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For the first time in about 21 years, as Troy and I kissed our families goodbye at Thanksgiving we said, “See you at Christmas!”  Trips to Kansas have always ended with that little heart-tug reminding me how many seasons will pass before we’re all together again.  But no longer! And what better time of year to feel so sentimental and nostalgic than these days with the Johnny Mathis soundtrack playing in the background?

We started off the weekend with my family in Salina.  My parents love to have their children and grandkids decorate the tree during Thanksgiving so that throughout the month of December they can remember us.  They also play audio tapes of Christmas music from 1979 and 1982 and 1985 that my dad recorded from the radio while we were opening presents all those Christmas Eves ago.  This visit my mom taught us all how to play Canasta and started a family obsession that appears to have replaced Apples to Apples.  Troy started Thanksgiving morning by running a Turkey Trot with actual runners Jeni, Nathan and Noah, which may have led to his right-on-time recurring Holiday Back Injury, inspiring the oft-sung song nowadays: “The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be.” But Sunny was the real star, nervously lying on her dog bed as family members took turns petting her as if she was Great-Grandma in the nursing home.  (Though male dog Spanky thinks of her more as a hot young thang.)

Next was a few days with Troy’s fun family in Wichita where we told stories by the cozy fireplace, prayed for Grandpa Nickel’s dump truck to get fixed, fed Troy ibuprofen, and enjoyed what I hope will be a new tradition visiting the beautiful Illuminations light show at the Botanica Gardens.  And while three year old twins are definitely our idea of a good time, they were Sunny’s nightmare, so she stayed far away and it was almost like we didn’t have a dog for 2.5 days.  Once all the kids were in bed, Troy, Tina, Scott and I rekindled our late night card game playing of years past, and I’m pretty proud to announce that The Mamas beat The Papas at Spades.

We got back to our sweet town on Sunday afternoon and headed over to St. Paul’s Advent service and wreathe-making. There were songs and lessons and an amazing meal and wine and all the fixins you can imagine to make your family a treasured advent wreathe, including hot glue guns.

Our hearts and souls and bellies filled with so much goodness, we went to sleep happy last night.

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The other day Huck tried to tell me something funny, but his out-of-control laughter got the best of him and he could hardly get the story out.  Finally he did, and it went something like this: instead of “What does the fox say?” some friend at school sings, “What does the fart say?”

Any of you out there who have eight year olds or know eight year olds or remember being an eight year old know what I mean when I say that eight year olds do not have the best senses of humor per se.  And since the bad comedy got started around age seven, these many months have finally caught up with me and I’ve taken to just shouting, “Oh God!  Is there anything worse than eight year old humor?”  And usually this prompts an awfully funny facial expression that reveals so much empty mouth space and awkward sized teeth coming and going, followed by outrageous laughter that my comment does not deserve, as if to prove my point.

And just about the time I’m ready to give it all up, to throw in the towel on this hellish stand up comedy routine gone bad day in and day out without intermission, I remember how funny he actually is.  Like yesterday at Hobby Lobby and he’s holding his duct tape wallet stuffed with wrinkled up dollar bills, carefully watching the sweet southern saleslady slowly ringing up his order of colorful little rubber bands that he will later make into bracelets with his cousins at Thanksgiving. Or this morning when I drag him to my toddler story time at the library, which he was very bitter about, and almost immediately into it I see him enthusiastically doing all of the actions and saying all of the words as if we’ve gone into a time machine and it’s 2008.  Or his brand new obsession with all the berry bushes in our front and back yards, constantly collecting them and naming them things like polar berries and moon berries and mashing them with a hammer as if that’s what you do with berries.  Or just now when he got out of the bathtub smelling like the wonderful Farmer’s Market soaps he buys and wearing his tight red flannel jammies that would better fit a five year old and climbing onto my lap like a three year old and saying he had two things to tell me: one, he hopes he doesn’t get the word “maybe” at the spelling bee because he tends to spell it wrong, and two, he thinks Roman punishments were really harsh.

You want to know what the fart says?  I’ll tell you what the fart says.  Just imagine a bunch of horrible farting sound effects that are difficult to hear through the laughter.

Now that’s comedy.

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