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Welcome to the Jones Home!

Visit my About page, where I introduce ourselves, or just scroll down for the most recent wit and wisdom and… well, just whatever I decided to post about today. Glad you’re here. Leave a comment, and “Follow” the blog to keep up with the Joneses!

— SJ

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The Grand Birthday Quest

We’re not much for party planning, DJ and me. Those pictures you see of elaborate decorations, spectacular cakes, and fabulous favors — those aren’t ours. Our usual birthday celebration for our kids is that they get to choose where we eat out.

But a 10th birthday is a big milestone… and it’s a little disappointing if your special day is a bit overshadowed by your older sister’s graduation. So DJ and I exerted ourselves and planned a special party for Ranger.

Obviously the best kind of party for Ranger is one where he gets to play a game. And obviously the best party game is — Dungeons & Dragons! I mean, this is common knowledge, right? Right.

But we leveled it up. Instead of inviting kids over to sit in our living room and roll dice on our carpet, we invited them to gather at the park and roll dice on the dirt. WAY better.

DJ did most of the planning, figuring out mechanics and numbers. Gamerboy and I were the guides for the two adventuring parties, leading them into adventure. We went with minimalist costuming — more of an impression than, you know, the full effect. Said impression was created by table runners, an old purse, a belt, and a curtain rod all from Goodwill.

(Note this guide’s hand. “Got ’em!” Eyeroll. Kids these days.)

We were assisted by a mysterious wizard who moved in and among the adventurers, capturing magical images of the quest. (Photos courtesy of Bookgirl.) (Cloak courtesy of my mom and sister who made it years ago; it’s a good bit older than all of the kids who have worn it for dress-up.)

We weren’t able to reserve the nearby shelter or gazebo for the morning. So we just set up in the parking lot. The guests spent most of the time of tramping around under the trees anyway.

DJ welcomed the group and explained how it would work, because apparently Live Action Roleplaying (LARPing) in the park for a birthday party is not a universal experience. Huh.

He also ran Fizbotz’s Magical Shop, for all your questing needs!

And hardly any party of ours would come off without my longtime friend who always shows up ready to help out. Her youngest son is about Ranger’s age, so obviously he was invited; but DJ was kind of basing his schedule decisions on the hope that she’d be able to hang out and help out. She was and she did.

Gamerboy and I whisked our adventuring parties off on, well, adventures. The setup was this: we’d lead the group around the park, choose a likely spot, and then pull out a little paper with a pre-planned short encounter (DJ and I each came up with several). The players would decide what action to take, roll, and see what their fate was.

The groups fought spiders, helped a king decide who would succeed him, found a fairy’s lost golden ball, and fought off a shark attack.

And spotted actual wildlife — which they left alone.

Then the adventurers returned to the marketplace, tired and hungry… only to discover that it was being guarded by a fierce green dragon. (See it? It’s in DJ’s hand. It’s… not as big as you’d expect a dragon to be. Small budget, small dragon.)

The whole party battled the dragon and ended triumphantly. They liberated the dragon’s hoard, which turned out to be pepperoni pizza, Doritos, and cupcakes with birthday candles.

The kids went home with the dice they’d chosen, some of the gold beads we used as money, a little bottle of bubble soap, a pencil that could totally be a magic wand, and a magic ring. Of course it was magic. It sparkled.

Actually, though, the “going home” part was delayed for some guests — a few of the boys begged Gamerboy to run one more encounter for them before they left. He was happy to oblige.

Here’s a collection of mementos from the Grand Birthday Quest: a “health bar” for keeping track of hit points; Fizbotz’s ruby ring of persuasion; the special dice; the, ahem, magic wand; and some of the “money” they used to buy items like the health potion.


It was, indeed, a grand birthday. Definitely one that a 10th birthday deserved. No elaborate decorations, spectacular cakes, or fabulous favors required.

And She Graduated!

Bookgirl was part of the graduation ceremony hosted by a state homeschool organization. She enjoyed it thoroughly, and so did DJ and I. And the three younger kids at least didn’t expire of boredom.

Actually, they were sitting at the very back of the room where the graduates processed in. So Gamerboy and Sparkler made sure to catch her eye and then “got” her (held their fingers in an OK symbol which, since she saw it, allowed them to punch her arm or… something… Kids these days.)

I say that the organization “hosted” the graduation because the parents and graduates met onstage, and the parents presented the diploma to their graduate. Various families accomplished the handover in various ways: hugs all around, high-fives, kisses… one young man even dabbed. Since Bookgirl deplores being the center of attention, I wasn’t going to offer to do any of that. But after we gave her the diploma, she held out both arms wide and hugged both of us at once. It was a fine moment for all of us.

One of Bookgirl’s hometown buddies graduated with her.

And her siblings were proud of her.

As this picture more accurately depicts. (Note that Sparkler “got” the camera.)

Congratulations on successfully completing high school, Bookgirl. I’m glad I have pictures because otherwise it’s very hard to believe that we’ve come to the end of this stage of life.

Ranger is 10!

Yesterday the Jones Family observed two milestones: we graduated our oldest child, and our youngest child left single digits behind.

In honor of Ranger’s 10th birthday, here are:

Ten Things Ranger Likes

(with commentary by me)

1. Color: Light blue (He looks good in summer/winter colors)

2. Food: Pasta with olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning (Which he’s been able to cook himself since he was 8)

3. Game: Plants vs Zombies heroes (computer); Jenga; Dungeons & Dragons (or, to be honest, pretty much any game — board, card, electronic, imaginary — that he can get within a ten-foot radius of)

4. Thing to Do: Run around and pretend (usually with some mundane object repurposed as a weapon. He and his cousin apparently staged battles with socks full of rice.)

5. Book: The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy; The Phantom Tollbooth (Listen to the boy. He knows good books when we read them. We’re also working on Harry Potter 3 via audiobook.)

6. Subject in school: Botany (this isn’t one of his core subjects, by the way; it was just the book he enjoyed most in school this year)

7. Something about yourself: I like that I’m creative. (He is — especially when it comes to making up games or creating D&D scenarios)

8. Chore: Clean up the playroom (because it’s not very messy)

9. Place to go: Subway restaurant (ALSO VERY EDUCATIONAL ENRICHING AND HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT PLACES TOO I’M SURE HE JUST FORGOT TO SAY THAT PART)

10. Plans for the future: Become a YouTuber. I’d do gameplay and maybe a one-off cooking video. (Folks, welcome to the current generation)

Although not a big baby or a particularly large toddler, Ranger began growing around age 4 and as far as we can tell hasn’t stopped yet. Our newly-minted 10-year-old is taller than me and edging up on DJ. But he’s also the best-humored kid of our four, easygoing and proud of himself for being “a kind person.” He’s always had a very quiet streak of independence, sure that he can cook, handle problems, or find his way anywhere by himself. Fortunately, by age 10 he’s finally gaining the wisdom to back up this confidence.

Happy birthday, Ranger! You completed our family when you arrived, and we’re very happy to welcome you into double-digits. We love you!

A Letter to My First Graduate

I linked to this post a couple of days ago. Then I realized that since this blog serves as a family record, I’d rather have the full text here. This post can be found at its original home here.

Dear Bookgirl,

In September of 2006, I sat down with you to officially begin homeschooling. Your dad and I had ordered curriculum that came with everything we needed—books to read aloud, worksheets to fill out, and a curriculum guide to keep us on track. You were 5 years old, ready to learn, and I was ready to get this show going.

Of course, I’d already been educating you long before this day. You were a late talker; at age 2 ½, your first “word” was repeating the alphabet after me. You learned to read “9:00” on an analog clock because that was when I’d let you watch The Magic School Bus. (I was a young mom with only two children, so I had standards back then.) You were always thinking and listening and trying to make sense of the world. (“A caterpillar becomes a raccoon, and then it becomes a butterfly.”)

In those first few weeks of homeschooling, I discovered that I detest curriculum guides. I also found out that I don’t like reading aloud. You, meanwhile, resented being given instruction when you thought you already knew how to do it. You were familiar with most basic science facts, you’d memorized a lot of familiar Bible verses, and it took you about twenty minutes to master addition and subtraction. By two weeks into my homeschooling career, I was already reshaping our school days to fit our needs.

I did teach you to read, something I enjoyed thoroughly. You learned rapidly, but not without some setbacks. English phonics infuriated you. You once had a meltdown in the grocery store parking lot because I told you that “double” was not pronounced “dow-ble.” I hustled you into your seat before you noticed that the next word was “coupons.” But we persevered, and when you were six years old, you read The Wizard of Oz on your own. That was the last time I was able to keep up with what you were reading.

As you grew older, you thrived on independent work. I would write out your assignments and let you complete them at your own pace. I learned that I had to be extremely specific about how I told you to do something, because you were always looking for loopholes. “You didn’t say I had to write every word in the sentence, just to rewrite it!” I can’t say this was an endearing trait, but it meant I couldn’t just go on autopilot.

Sometimes, when the demands of a younger kid, a toddler, and a baby sapped my energy and creativity, I’d get stacks of science books out of the library and leave them in view. You devoured them all.

When you were eleven, you parked yourself at the computer and began to type a story. I figured you were imitating what I’d been doing since you could remember. But you kept at it until your story concluded 51 pages later. I read it aloud to you and Sparkler as a bedtime story. It was unintentionally hilarious, especially that one scene you wrote when you were irritated at me, so two characters spoke disapprovingly of me. At the same time, it was a serious accomplishment for your age. We realized that you weren’t just copying me, but that you cherish your own passion to write.

About the time you completed sixth grade, I was overwhelmed and burned out from being the sole educator in the house, along with running the household and being the day-to-day parent. My own passion to write was dying from neglect. Until I could get back on my feet, your dad took over your schooling. His love of structured plans and voracious reading fit in well with your independent style. The two of you went through junior high and high school together. When someone asks you now what school you attend, you often reply, “My dad homeschools me.”

Despite your excellent work, you haven’t spent your educational career racking up academic accomplishments and making detailed plans for your future. Your approach to life is different. You want time for your ideas and stories. You have plans for your future, but they’re not urgent or grandiose. To put it in popular literary terms, you’re not a Hermione Granger, you’re a Luna Lovegood. And the world needs Lunas.

This May of 2019, you’re finishing your last year of high school. I look back at that day thirteen years ago, now kind of hazy around the edges, and am amazed that we made it all the way through together. Your dad and I—as well as tutors, online instructors, and many other homeschooling moms in our community—have taught you a lot. But to be honest, much of our “homeschooling” wasn’t sitting you down and imparting knowledge to you, but simply giving you what you needed, and watching you master a subject yourself. That bodes well for your life ahead of you.

Congratulations, graduate. We are proud of you.

Love, Mom.

* For those not familiar with the Harry Potter books (my condolences): Hermione Granger is academic, driven, and at the top of her class. Luna Lovegood is dreamy, artistic, and doesn’t seem to realize there is a top of the class. Both highly prize friendship, love, and loyalty. Luna’s classmates tend to dismiss her as odd and aimless, so her considerable accomplishments come as a surprise to everyone.

Notable Quote by Hermione Granger: “…I’m going to bed, before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed — or worse, expelled.”

Notable Quote by Luna Lovegood: “My mum always said things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end. If not always in the way we expect.”

Dirk Pitt Makes a To-Do List

I woke up to a busy day, but at least Dirk Pitt was there for me.

As you might recall, Dirk moved in with me a while ago. He lives on my writing table, and daily he encounters the bewildering world known as “household chores.” The entire concept of a “budget” threw him like a helicopter with the tail shot off.

So when I jotted down a to-do list before bed and stuck it on his chest for safekeeping, he had all night to ponder it. The next morning, as I started on my day, he stopped me.

“You may be beautiful, honey,” he said, a steely glint in his opaline green eyes. “But I know what you’re up to.”

He gestured to the note still stuck to his chest, and recited the items in a flinty voice.

“French — obviously referring to the international smuggling ring. I’ve already infiltrated them. French women can’t resist me.

“Letter — to NUMA, requesting more supplies. No problem there. Al will fix you up. Just mention my name.

“Bank — Funding, obviously. The account’s a little overdrawn right now because of that copter I crashed into the exclusive resort where rich intellectuals were planning a worldwide coup, but Sandecker will give you an advance. There’s always enough money in the… what did you call it?”

I sighed. “Budget?”

“Yeah, that. Last of all, the co-op. Can’t be anything other than a black market gun depot. Don’t worry. NUMA’s money is always good there because the leader and I are bound by a mutual respect for, well, me.”

I looked at him blankly. “Or maybe it means that today I need to get my son to French class, mail my daughter’s camp registration, deposit my husband’s travel reimbursement, and make sure I’ve got my project ready for my younger children’s homeschool co-op.”

He tightened his craggy jaw and gave me grudging smile. “I have to hand it to you, you’ll fool anybody who wasn’t, you know, me. Remember, call me if you need any help. I’ll be here.”

I didn’t have the heart to remind him that he has no choice; he’s duct-taped to my writing desk.

Thanks to Swanson the Second who suggested Dirk’s version of the to-do list.

Q & (No) A

I’m learning basic Spanish from an app called Duolingo. The lessons are short and interactive, and I enjoy them a lot. In less than three months, my smattering of Spanish words has improved to the point that I’m (clumsily) translating sentences.

I just wish the lessons didn’t leave me so desperate for answers.

Duolingo starts out by teaching words: la mujer, la cartera, el boligrafo. As you progress, the words become sentences. La mujer tiene un boligrafo en la cartera. I found myself wondering about laconic statements like these. Why does the woman have a pen in the purse? Is it even her purse? Did she steal a purse and then hide a pen in it? Is it a false pen that’s really a camera? Is she a spy?

So many questions.

The lessons are categorized by subject matter, so each one centers around certain subjects. At one point hamburguesa de pescado came up a lot. I felt as if I were walking down the street and every fourth person I passed mentioned fish burgers. I started to think that there was more to these fish burgers than meets the eye. Maybe that’s what la mujer was investigating?

In the shopping category, I wondered how mi tienda favorita stayed in business.The store had exactly two hats in stock, and I kept having to choose between gray or brown. The single pair of pantalones were a disappointment, as they were rojo but not muy bonito. In the end, I apparently ended up with several green t-shirts, but the shoes were not interesante. How can a store operate like this? It must be a front for a more shady business, right?

The people themselves are more puzzling than fish burgers and red pants. I can’t quite gather what’s going on with them. Even if they’re not shady, they’re definitely odd.

For instance, I’ve learned that Ana siempre esta contenta en clase de frances. That’s strange. The only reason I’d always be happy in a class is if I had a crush on the teacher. I guess Ana goes for French professors.

And then there’s Juan. Juan esta enojado. Then, a few sentences later we find out that Juan esta muy feliz conmigo en la casa. So he’s angry, but he’s very happy with me in the house? Reeks of control issues. I’m leery of Juan. He would totally run a fake tienda to cover illegal activities.

Other people simply refuse to give out any information at all. I’ve inquired, “Carla, how is your bebe this morning? Ana, how is your mom hoy?” I asked these questions over and over, sometimes in Spanish and sometimes translating to English. But I never got any answers. I never found out how Carla’s baby is doing. I don’t know how Ana’s mom is today, or any day. The questions just hang there, forever unanswered.

To add to my frustration, I’m pretty sure I sabotaged the one good relationship I had in el pueblo de Duolingo. I was asked to listen to and then translate a sentence: Si, yo tambien quiero vivir contigo, Rafael.

I confidently typed, “Yes, I also want to drink with you, Rafael.” I mean, I like Rafael. He doesn’t have the issues that Juan does, and I’m glad we’re good friends.

Except, as it turns out, the question wasn’t beber, “to drink.” It was vivir, “to live.”

Poor Rafael. He’d put his heart on the line and asked me to move in with him, only to have me enthusiastically agree to share a glass of wine with him. Lo siento, Rafael.

Most exasperating of all, though, are the cryptic questions with no context and no hope of illumination. I find myself constructing detailed backstories just to make sense of the questions.

“Aren’t you surprised, Jose?”

Why would I ask this question? Jose must know something I didn’t expect him to.

“Why are you surprised, Sonia?”

So Sonia ought to know what was going on. As the personal secretaria to Carla, she really should have guessed what la jefa was up to. Jose wasn’t taken by surprise like Sonia was. Did he find out that Carla is that mysterious mujer with the camera pen in her purse? No wonder Carla wouldn’t answer my question about her baby! It was all a front!

Alas, all this is merely speculation. Duolingo is a great little app to learn the basics of a language. But it definitely keeps its secrets.

Yo tengo preguntas. Many questions. But never any answers.

Shut the Box

One of our Christmas presents to Ranger was “the classic pub game,” Shut the Box.

Shut the Box with attached modifications… which itself has been modified during some kind of art project.

The concept is simple. You set all the pegs upright, and then roll the dice. You then flip down any combination of numbers to equal the dice roll. When you run out of pegs to equal the dice roll, the game is over. You add up the score of all pegs left standing; lowest score wins.

If you’re really lucky, you’ll manage to flip down all the pegs. That’s “shutting the box” and you get a score of 0. (The picture above shows a “shut” box.)

I assume the game is usually accompanied by alcohol and gambling, which would make the straightforward concept exciting. Alternatively, you can do what we do in this household, and improve it with better rules. Or, in gaming terms, add “mods.”

I made the first change when I said that if you roll a combination you can’t use, you get two more rolls before your game is over. That gave us a much better chance at Shutting the Box.

Ranger loves games but can’t always find somebody to play with him. I suggested that he play Shut the Box against random household objects. The next thing I knew, he’d imbued these opponents with special “one-use abilities” to spice up the game.

When he played against a pencil, for instance, the pencil had the ability to choose a custom dice roll once in the game. A pair of scissors could “snip” a roll in half, giving you a better chance for a roll of 1 or 2.

He even played against a Santa mug with attached spoon (a gift from our neighbors this Christmas, brought over by E). Santa, it turns out, can subtract the numbers on the dice instead of adding them.

And sometimes Ranger doesn’t play against the pencil or the scissors or the mug. He recruits their help, by using their abilities for his own games.

The rest of the family plays as well. We just leave it out on the counter. At random times, you’ll hear dice rolling and wooden pegs clicking, as somebody is taking two minutes out of the day to try for a score low enough to brag about.

But only Ranger has put this much thought into improving it. It’s been pretty entertaining to watch him modify this solo game into one of competition and bonus features. He seems to have a future in game development.

At least, that’s what the pencil and Santa mug think, and I’m inclined to agree.

In Memory Of

Yesterday, DJ saw Sparkler and Ranger playing outside on our trampoline. The wrongness of the picture hurt.

It wouldn’t look wrong to most people. To us, it’s a reminder that our world has changed permanently in a way we never asked for. Up until a month ago, there would have been at least three children on that trampoline — Sparkler, Ranger, and their best friend, E.

But now E is gone, suddenly and unfairly. On a snowy Sunday afternoon about a month ago, he got a headache that led to vomiting and dizziness. A trip to the ER, then a longer trip to a bigger hospital, revealed a mass in his brain. Surgery was going to be necessary… but before it could happen, he was gone. He died less than a week after that headache.

He was 13 and in eighth grade. He had high school orientation coming up, and his older sister — a senior — wanted to make sure he was assigned to her tour group. He played in the marching band, was good at video games, and he’d played in the snow for hours with my kids the day before. He probably would have come over that afternoon if not for the headache. Nothing warned us that we were going to lose him.

I haven’t mentioned him much on the blog because he’s not my kid to blog about. But we have lived across from his family for sixteen years — all my kids’ lives, basically. He was almost exactly a year older than Sparkler. He was such a kind, friendly, funny person that Gamerboy, Sparkler, and Ranger all considered him their best friend. DJ and I held him when he was only days old, and watched him grow up with our kids.

Before it all happened, I meant to take a picture of footprints in the snow. A track led from his door, across the snowy street, and up our yard to our door. It was a funny reminder of one of the things we loved about our life here — our kids and E ranging from inside our house to our back yard to his house, playing on and off for hours.

I’m just spilling out words, trying to explain the terrible gaping wound this leaves in our world, even though we were just “the neighbors.”

He’s not supposed to be gone. Nothing in the story foreshadowed this twist. My kids still can’t bring themselves to think about it much. Even I can’t think back on that afternoon when his mom called the ambulance. My mind says, “Maybe it will turn out different this time. It wasn’t supposed to go that way the first time.” And I have to remember all over again that we don’t get extra chances or do-overs.

So now we look out onto our back yard, where our kids are playing. The voice and laughter of that kind, funny boy we loved so much is missing, and always will be. And it hurts.

I will return to blogging and mundania, because of course real life hasn’t stopped. There’s still stuff to laugh about and be interested in. But I needed to memorialize E on this blog, in a weak attempt to express what he was to our family — and how much we will always miss him.

Fourth of July 2016
Sparkler and E, summer 2017

The 2018 Book List Party

Yesterday, when everybody was posting their 2018 Reading Lists, I didn’t comment on any of them. I kept thinking it would go like this:

Person One: Popular fiction! Self-improvement nonfiction! Memoir! Overly-wordy titled fiction!

Person Two: World War 2 fiction! Deeply moving fiction! Heartbreaking true account of personal tragedy and triumph!

Me: Nonfiction about daily life was like in England in certain eras.

Persons One and Two: [blank silence]

Me: Oh, and a book about why violence has decreased worldwide.

Persons One and Two: OMG, were you even invited to this party?

But on my own blog, I can be just as nerdy as I want to. Here are some books that I thoroughly enjoyed in 2018:

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Stephen Pinker, on why we are experiencing the least-violent phase in history ever.

The Time-Traveler’s Guide to… by Ian Mortimer. He’s written three of them — one for Medieval England, one for Elizabethan England, and one for 17th-century England. They make the past feel very human, dealing with questions like “what would I wear” or “what would I do for fun?” The books are very readable and extremely interesting.

Don’t Make Me Pull Over by Ray Ratay. Part memoir, part history of the golden age of American road trips. Ratay is a funny author, and I am just old enough to remember some of what he talks about as a kid in the 1970s.

I did read a few other books. I even read a novel about a woman who senses ghosts (cool) and eventually discovers the one ghost that’s pulling all the others to her (nice twist), interspersed with three different storylines in WW2 Europe (redundant) and infodumps (tedious) and this is why I read nonfiction accounts of living in Shakespeare’s London instead. (A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner.)

Oh, and let’s not forget my ill-fated foray into late-90s women’s fiction with Big Stone Gap.

But the major reason why I list only five books for the year is because I used up most of my mental space to write 79,112 words on my novel-in-progress.

Please note that these thousands of words aren’t a jumble of loosely-connected scenes. They’re a cohesive story, carefully chosen and frequently revised. And for reference, most books are classed as “novels” when they reach 80,000 words. Here, let me highlight that number for you in case you missed it:

79,112 words

I expect to write another 20,000 to finish up, and then I’ll step into the fire of editing and revision.

So, looking back over things, I’m pretty happy with my reading list. Even if I’m not exactly the life of the book list party.

Happy reading in 2019!

Mundania: Christmas

It doesn’t take much to have a “magical Christmas” at the Jones House.
Here in Mundania, we find Christmas in the everyday details of life. That sounds so inspirational!

Our friends provide the bulk of our decorations in the form of Christmas cards. Although we get far fewer than we did when I started sending out my own sixteen years ago, we still received enough to make a festive wall.

Our outside decorations consisted entirely of this wooden cut-out nativity draped with lights.

And then there is, of course, our tree. Last year I looked at the limbs straining with eighteen years’ worth of ornaments and said, “Y’all, either we have to get rid of some of these ornaments, or we have to get a bigger tree.” The kids immediately began discussing how much more space we needed for the bigger tree.

A nativity set takes on the aura of a brave band of adventurers saying to one another, “If we just stick together, we can make it through this.”

And there’s a lot of Christmas in DJ’s festive lunch. (I caught it slightly too late; he’d just eaten the roll with raspberry jam.)

Nothing says “holidays” like presents piled under the tree. I wish I could wrap gifts as well as God wraps bunnies.

Even Dirk Pitt got into the holiday spirit and offered to write our Christmas letter for us. But we ended up having creative and theological differences.

The local paper asked for Christmas memories. I saw the reminder too late, so just barely missed the deadline. DJ told me to send mine in anyway — and here it is, in the paper! It’s funny how, in this world of effortless publishing, seeing your own words in the newspaper is still something special.

(Longtime readers of the blog might recognize this story as a trimmed-down version of a post from a couple of years ago. I see no reason to waste good material.)

The holidays call for something extra festive! That’s why I got this mead. Haha, that’s a lie. I bought the mead before Thanksgiving, planning to take it with me across the country to give to Queen of Carrots at her surprise birthday. But DJ reminded me that I couldn’t pack it into a carry-on bag. So I found another gift for the Queen (a collection of Zenna Henderson stories). Then I forgot about the mead until Christmas Eve.

It was really good, for the record.

And Christmas morning held surprises and joy for everyone.

(Please note the artwork on Sparkler’s t-shirt. It’s from the talented hand of The Ravens Landing.  See more of her artwork on Redbubble.)

And while DJ and the kids played one of the three new games we added to the household, I whiled away some time practicing from of my new lettering book.

So that’s Christmas with the Joneses. I hope your holidays were as full of magical mundania as ours was!

Because if not, the creepy Thrift Store Angel might have to pay you a little visit.