the miracle of the season just keeps coming.

People.

Something amazing has happened to us today. Now, I understand that the word "amazing" is currently in the no-no list of over used words from 2011, but I have no choice. Because this is ah-maze-ing.

Brace yourself.

I found another ElFe. You know, the Elf that looks like my Mom?


Isn't she grand?
How can I describe this any other way than amazing?

And, what an absolute joy it is that this Elf is a real Christmas Elf, not a weirdo harvest variety the first one is. Still, I thought the delight in finding my Mother's doppelganger in Harvest stuffed elf was tops. But then this... and the good news just keeps on coming.

See, this Elf Fe had a tag on her rear end with the manufacturers name and web address on it. Hallelujah. These little miracles are the meaning of the seasons. They have to be.

The website is www.annalee.com.


Annalee, bless her soul, makes elves for all seasons. Now, unfortunately, not all of them look like Fe. But, don't panic, there are four pages of elves and I am sure there are more of the Susie's Mom variety.

I won't rest until I have a collection of my Mom.

Also, I'm at my Mother-in-Law's house right now and Thank God she was super fine with me adding Elf Fe to her Christmas Tree after we brought her home from TJ Maxx for a whole $4 purchase price.


I think it's exactly what every tree needs. An Elf Fe.
WOW MOM - literally.

it was my crying game moment on the cruise.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with cruising so I'll give you a little briefing, then we'll dive right in to this story. I can tell you are super excited about this. I am too.

Cruising is a little bit of what I imagine assisted living homes must be like. They prepare your meals, they prepare little outings for you, and they create schedules of your day. I love it. If the cruise staff could also moisten our mouths with towelettes throughout the day, we'd be set.

So, on Day One at sea there was a little Scavenger Hunt on our daily agenda. Mr. Allison  l-o-v-e-s the games they play on the ship (like Name that Tune and Team Trivia) and he drags me kicking and a little screaming from my pool side tanning time to play them. Ok, I retract a little. I do enjoy a good Name that Tune and Trivia challenge (as long as it's in the evening not during sunning time), but for some reason I was not at all interested in the Scavenger Hunt.

Again, 85 year old Chuck was all about playing it.

But we went anyways because deep down I love him and I kept saying this was more his vacation than mine (since I'd done Hawaii with Fe and Palm Springs with the Girls and he'd done nadda this year - he was due).

We get to the Scavenger Hunt and it turns out it was a Team Scavenger Hunt. Oh good, because if I barely wanted to do this thing with just Chuck, I am now super excited about doing it with 10 strangers. Of course, by super excited, I mean not at all.

Ok so this is when the story changes to more pro-Susie than pro-Chuck. See, they divided us into two teams of ten and then the cruise director chose a 20-something newlywed groom to be the "team captain" of Team 1 and made (guess who?) Chuck the team captain of Team 2.

THEN Cruise Director JT explained the rules:
Each team has a list of items to gather, and the items, naturally, were predominantly women's clothing. Those items, once collected, need to be dressed onto the team captain.

This was the first time that I was 100% sold on Team Scavenger Hunt. Call me a fan of fair, whatever. I was clapping. I was giddy. It was the best cruise day ever.

In about 20 minutes, between all the people on our team, we'd collected the various items from each of our staterooms and had "dressed" Chuck.

Again. I had never been happier. Also, it helped that this was taking place in the most populated place on the ship: the pool deck.

And here he is: My husband (PK must be super happy about my life choices in marrying this one).




 Stay back ladies; he is alllllll mine.


As an added punishment, Cruise Director JT made Chuck and the other poor kid take a lap around the pool deck. Naturally, they did the beauty queen wave. And of course, our team won. The clip on earrings were what pushed us over the edge.


Oh yeah, that's my husband blotting off his lipstick. I am so lucky.

the photo dump / cruise post.

As I mentioned before, in case you weren't listening or reading (two things I'm really good at doing poorly so no judgement), we went on a little pre-Christmas cruise. Several things led to this happening, and it was preceded, of course, by what Chuck later deemed to be the greatest Susie meltdown of all time over missing the week before Christmas (shopping with friends, baking with Fe, lunch dates with the Lucy, etc), and also dying in a plane crash and pirate terrorists taking over the ship.

I wove a tapestry of hysteria pre-trip.

We decided to go on the cruise with some of Chuck's extended family for a little Allison getaway. Then their work schedules didn't work out and instead of scratching the idea, we said "see ya" and went alone. It sounds harsh, but they understood. They are warm weather people too and would never fault someone for taking a way out of the cold.

Also, we had plane tickets to use up a-sap after I ruined Spring break in Hawaii last year with the never ending sickness. So, it worked out. Christmas cruise it was.

For those of you who need the specifics, say the same people that would take the Ship's Log booklet home with them so they can review the temperature, sea condition, and boat speed  of each day after they return (I hope I'm making it pretty clear that I'm talking about one Charles Allison who is apparently 85 years old and has in fact reviewed said Ship's Log since returning. You think he can't get any nerdier...). So specifics:

Holland America: 7 days leaving from Ft Lauderdale. We had two days at sea and then a day each in Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and at an island the cruise line owns.

We had a blast and did a great job not getting divorced on the ship, despite our best efforts (kidding but not). However, I did point out that if we did get divorced, no big deal, because Captain Darren could just re-marry us during one of the evening shows.

And now it's picture time.
Good luck getting through this. I'll be as brief as possible.

Turks and Caicos
Day Two




I enjoyed the fact that my first song in Grand Turk was Welcome to Paradise. It worked for me.


Puerto Rico
Day Three

There wasn't a beach in Puerto Rico that we really wanted to hit or that was easy to get to, which was good since it poured that day. Like east coast rain, not the drizzle crap we have in Seattle. We walked along the wall of Fort del Morro built in the 1500s and up into the actual fort. Which was great for nerdy history people like us.



Chuck is one of those "read every sign" type people.
Shocker: I am not.


I took this picture and realized I accidentally caught this bird mid landing. Kind of foreshadowing for the end of the trip when we would neglect everything possible to read all three Hunger Games book. I'm pretending that's a Monkingjay. Obviously.



shhh.

Chuck explained to me that the antenna in this picture is a16th century model used to contact pirates.
I really hope people don't hear these conversations when we have them. What they must think...



This is a monument for the Dutch Attack of 1625 that was built in 1925. Chuck told me it was commemorating the 300th anniversary of Holland America's service to Puerto Rico.

This is the cathedral where they burried Ponce de Leon. Apparently that fountain of youth wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

St. Thomas
Day Four



It briefly sprinkled for about .5 seconds at Majen's Bay. There was Katrina like pandemonium on the beach as people hurried to pack up. We didn't even discuss it. Seattle taught us to know better. We did the beach version of blue tarp camping and waited the 3 minutes for the misting to pass.

Adonis.


Day Six
Half Moon Cay

This is the island that Holland America owns. It's pretty amazing. I read the whole time (that was Day one of the Hunger Games so I wasn't about to do much else). Chuck rented a catamaran for an hour and I said "no thank you." Then, when he capsized it, he thanked God that I hadn't come with or that could have ended the marriage.

You've seen this one before, but it helps support my case for the following picture so I'm reposting it.

Ok so. I had to rebuttal Chuck's picture and what better way than with a timeless art of seduction pose? Obviously, Tyra would critic my stump leg, but I can handle it. I feel like posting this picture of myself is knowing what it must be like to be Chuck on this thing: a source of "why?"

Harry Potter Chuck.

Us.

And the old man who spent an hour burring himself in the sand. How could I not take a picture of that?

And that's the cruise.
I think the big winners on the cruise are the people who had to eat with us every night and the people who willingly became our Trivia Team for the duration of the cruise (obviously, we would have a Trivia Team and let me tell you - we cleaned house).

Tomorrow, one last cruise post. And then that's it. Promise. But tomorrow's is so good. So good.

just a typical drive by xmas card-ing.

Ok. So obviously I take Christmas Cards seriously. You know this or I wouldn't put so much time and effort making sure our picture is perfection each year. Duh.

And obviously the only reason you send out Christmas cards is to get them in return. Is that not the meaning of Christmas? Did I miss something? Whatever, you know that in addition to wishing people a Merry Christmas and actually wanting to send them an Xmas card, you are also secretly hoping for a little something in return to validate your existence. Call me selfish or Ishmael. Whatever.

With the whole "us being gone for 8 days right in the heart of Christmas time" (which, BTW, we will never do again - we both feel a little out of sorts and like Christmas never happened), we had the mail stopped, again duh. So, when the mail finally came on the 27th, it was like a windfall of cards. I got to open most of our cards in one sitting and it was a heavenly OD.

Maybe next year, we'll stay in town but still have out mail held so that I can have my windfall.

Anyways, we got so many beautiful cards.
(I like to decorate the chalk board with them.)


Aren't they fabulous?

Ok. Except there's one card that well....we don't know who sent it to us.

Like the blog title says, it was kind of a drive by Christmas card-ing.


So I got this card in the mail. It has no return address, it has no signature. The postmark says Seattle. That's all I got.


Who sent this to us?
(I love this card, side note, I just really need to know who send it to us.) The card is handmade. It's a 1970s picture glued to white card stock with holly berries drawn around it.

On the inside:

That's it.

Ok. Who sent this to us?
I have so many questions for them. Did they mean for it to be anonymous? Did they really just forget to sign it AND put a return address on it? Who is that man? Is this the Christmas Card equivalent to finding a horse head in your bed? Have we been put on notice?

IRregardless, I love this card. I would just really like to know who sent it.

hope you had a great christmas

So I'm a little behind, yeah I know.
In my defense we were on a cruise to the Caribbean for the week before Christmas and while amazing, I'm a little behind in my life since we didn't get home until late night xmas eve. Don't you just love when people use their vacations as excuses and want you to feel bad for them because they took one? With the tan I have, I'm not expecting much pity.

Anywhoo, I'll figure out how to post xmas and the cruise and get things sorted out blog wise, but until then...


Yep.
He was just all posed and ready for me. It would make a great desktop background.

Yikes. That's who I was stuck on a boat with. Maybe you do have some pity in store for me.

we took elf fe to dinner. obviously.

Ok so at that same pizza place, you know the one I wrote about with the baby in the kitchen, well, maybe we also we're exactly being "restaurant appropriate" either.

I mean, they had a baby in the kitchen.
We had an Elf Fe at the table.

I'm starting to bring Elf Fe (also known as ElFe - naming rights belong to Fe's BFF Christine) to family activities because why wouldn't I bring a plush version of my mother with us? I mean, if you had a stuffed your mother, wouldn't you carry her around?

So, I brought her on the outing we went to the ended with us at said Baby Kitchen Pizza Place.
And I brought her inside for dinner. Obviously, she had to eat.


Mom and her had a little chat.
Not sure what you talk about with your plush self but it seemed for existentionism-ish to me (that's a word. Existentionismish. I took three philosophy classes in college and this is the best I could do. I went to a public university. Sue me.).



She ate a salad which I said wasn't necessary since she looks great and why is she watching her figure, but she insisted. Also, Dad insisted on creating a nice Italian back drop for her and lemme tell you, getting that fork to stay up. Go Shelley. That was not an easy one to balance. See, this was a family game. We are very inclusive in our inappropriate behavior.


Then Dad also took some time to discuss somethings with Elf Fe that he had on his mind.  He and Real Fe have been married for 36 years, so I'm assuming he and Plush Fe had a lot to discuss.


She washed down her salad with a Dr. Pepper.
I should know, because it was mine and she's always taking my things. That's a lie.


And then Shelley tried to eat her. Which I'm not sure how that fits in, but it happened so yeah. I don't really know how any of this made a post, but I know that I sure love Elf Fe and kind of love having her pop back onto the blog.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.
Once you find a plush version of your Mom as an Elf, your life is never really the same.

it's funny and a health violation.

So this is kind of like our other "goldbug" posts except you aren't trying to find Jack - which means it can't be nearly as fun (or beautiful) because that cat is an angel face. I'm just trying to be honest; that cat is the love of my life.

IRregardless, let's play a little Goldbug (sans Jackie Cat). You remember Goldbug from Richard Scarry - you know what you need to do. If you don't, then I weep openly for your childhood. It must have sucked.

 Ok, actually, this is more of a mash-up (GLEE shout out) of Goldbug and "one of these things just doesn't belong here." Go Big Bird, go.

 What you are about to see is a picture I took at a pizza place in a small town (real small - like, roughly, 893 people according to their 2010 census - oh hey hey wikipedia) a few weekends ago. This picture is of the kitchen area/ordering area.

 And go.

Did you find Goldbug?

Let me give you a hint:

She's in a Bumbo because there is a freaking baby on the counter of the kitchen.

I lost my mind when I saw this.
Not because of how unsanitary this is, but because of how awesome this is. This is when you know you are in a small town: when there's a BABY on the counter. And not just on the counter, actually behind the counter, on a bumbo, next to the pizza toppings and the oven. I mean maybe what I find most offensive is that the child is in a Bumbo, which are now supposably unsafe according to Yahoo! headlines.

But anywhoo, I heart small towns and this is exactly why.

This pizza place was packed (like population of the town inside the restaurant). It's an awesome place and it's super popular in Eastern Washington and NO ONE else in the place seemed to even notice that the kitchen staff was also running a day care. It was all Barney and Friends back there and apparently, I was the only one who cared.

Oh and also, this wasn't just like a quick little "oh gotta set my baby down next to the olives for like .5 seconds, then I'm out."

 No.

We played with the baby.

We took dinner orders over the phone with the baby on our hip. This felt very barefoot in the kitchen pregnant to me.

I can't make this up people.

Literally, made my evening.

This was my "Sweet Home Alabama" moment. You have a baby in a bar? Well, we have a baby in a pizza kitchen.

Also, you'll notice I never said which restaurant this was. I thought this was awesome and I don't want them to get in trouble and frankly, I don't know some of you. Maybe you're a health inspector. Maybe you're a pizza place enforcer. I dunno. But my lips are sealed.

it's about dang time.

Nineteen little stockings were hung by the chimney with care...


Ok so that chimney is a white board.
The bricks are butcher paper.
And I don't really think Santa visits schools, but that's mostly because those schools are CLOSED.

Hello Winter Vacation,

Where have you been all my life? Did you do something different? Change your hair? Lose weight? Because vacation, you look so good right now.

Sincerely yours,
Vacation Susie.
(that's the Susie that returns emails, phone calls, and texts. She's the best.) (Not that I'm biased.)
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