The Stream

Thursday, December 30, 2010


We've been graced all season long with the singing of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" by our children. At least 11 X's a day if not more. Not kidding. I save all embellishments for my birth story.

So, thank you Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Sometimes, if we're lucky, it is amplified with your place mats.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Crab Legs

So, our dear Becket requested Santa to bring him crab legs this year for Christmas. He remembers liking them when we were in St. George at a so called Red Lobster with Grandma Rexine. He loved them. He dreams about them, hence the list, entry #5.

In his stocking was a note from Santa, "Dear Becket, there is a surprise for you in the fridge." Inside the fridge was a plastic wrapped king crab leg with a bow (the last fresh one Santa happened to find at the store and he paid good money for it). When Becket picked the leg up, he got pricked by the spikes, hence the gloves in the picture below.


Christmas dinner, we decided to cook that crab leg.

Mat: "Well Beck, how do you like it?"
Becket: "Uh," using his sour expression, "I don't really like this kind of crab leg. I think next year I'll ask for a lobster."

Well, Mat and I had a great dinner. Mat's words over and over, "It doesn't even need butter, it is so good." It was practically a love affair.

Gretchen's Santa list involved a laptop and a Millennium Falcon remote control car. Hmmm. Neither of which she got. Thank goodness she has been SO busy managing everyone else's gifts, she didn't have much time to dwell on her disappointment.

And, Micah? She just wanted pretty wrapping paper with pink stripes. Holiday treats are extremely rare this time of year, but we managed to scrounge some up.

Christmas Eve 2010, asleep waiting to catch Santa.



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

4 times around

4 times around what you ask? 4 times around her neck...the umbilical cord...she ALMOST DIED...surely you've heard by now about this miracle. If you haven't, it's only because you haven't been within a few miles of Micki on her birthday (or the week leading up to it).

This baby is only in half as much peril as Micki was 33 years ago today.

I only learned about all this business 13 years ago (moments into our first date), which is crazy because I've been following medical miracles since I was a youngster and it was surely in one of my doctor books (probably with a picture of Micki and her mom surrounded by astounded clinicians marveling at the unlikely survival of this plucky infant). Luckily for all of us she didn't develop tracheal Williamsburg disease.

figure 1

I've prepared a graph to help you understand what all this means. Column 1 represents the percent chance you'll hear this story at some point if you come in contact with Micki at any time between the months of October and January. Column 2 is the chance Micki won't embellish the story, adding dramatic, but sketchy details about just how touch and go the whole situation was (it may also represent the percentage of her frontal lobe irreversibly altered by the lack of oxygen [most likely the part of the brain that prevents most people from wanting to talk to complete strangers at the airport or giving almonds to homeless people in Sacramento]). Column 3 represents the number of times Micki reminded me that I hadn't told her that she was a miracle baby this year alone. And column 4 represents the number of birthdays I hope she has ahead of her. I wanted to multiply column 4 with the number of predicted future tellings of this story by Micki, but that would necessitate the use of a logarithmic scale and complex exponents, which is beyond the scope of this post. Needless to say, this event was monumental in the life of my wife and she will not rest until you are as moved by it as she clearly is. So when she starts telling the story, I recommend you interrupt her with, "Oh wait, I've heard about this...I can't believe I will be hearing it in person...let me sit down (sit down)...okay, I'm now emotionally ready for the tidal wave of emotional bliss I've anticipated will buffet my soul as your story pours forth upon me." Then stare with fascinated reverence as she recounts the event. If you aren't immediately caught up in rapture, you'll at least know you've witnessed history in the making (possibly the fifth sign of the apocalypse).

And if you're lucky she won't forget she told you and that will be the end of it.

Happy birthday Mic!

Monday, December 20, 2010

So begins the Snow Days and Delays

School District Recording, "This message is on behalf of Frank Devano, superintendent of the Monongalia School District. There will be a 2 hour early dismissal, today, December 16th. All students will be dismissed two hours prior to regular time. I repeat..." The message is an older woman's secretary voice, not to get mixed up with a school lunch lady voice, because they are very similar, but this one has more of a slow specific tone to it with force and volume on the important parts of the message. I wish I knew her name.

Anyway, I went and picked up the kids since a little bird told me the buses would be way late and I did not particularly want to freeze at the bus stop.

Here's what we did with our extra hours in the afternoon.

Made hot chocolate with cookies per Becket's request. I went along with it because who doesn't want an excuse to make these treats?


Christmas movie. Now, this was an unusual way to watch a movie, but why not, it's Christmas! I think it's brilliant, I think it is even more brilliant that she got her little sister to do it with her. It looks terribly uncomfortable.


Next, break out the snow gear. Hope things still fit, because I haven't looked at this box since the spring.


Oh no! Man down. At least, she has her cookie to snack on until someone comes by and props her up.


Took a walk to the store. I carried Micah on the sled on the way there and my milk on the way back. Funny look from the clerk when I asked her to watch my sled, I told her to think outside the cart in my mind. It made carrying those groceries easier, except for when I suddenly stopped the sled and Micah fell right into the sushi. Hot red chili sauce was now pooling in the corner of my sled. I will warn her next time when I decide to stop.


Snow Vader, just in time because it was growing dark.


And Ruffy was given bells at the end of a long, wonderful afternoon.


Thank you Frank Devano, superintendent of Monongalia Schools.



Delays/early dismissals


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Holiday Service Talk

Mic: "Kids, whose birthday is coming up?"

I see Gretchen's light bulb go off as she is about to say my birthday, so I quickly rephrase before it bursts out.

Mic: "Whose birthday is on December 25th?"

Becket hesitant: "Um, Jesus?"

Gretchen beams in: "UNCLE PAUL'S!"

Becket: "And Vaughan, in my class."

Mic "Let's go with Jesus."

I go onto explain why Christ is a gift to us in the simplest way I could lump it.

Micah randomly pops in: "I have a little dragon that was this big." Then she shows me about a 6 inch length with her hands.

Mic: "Okay?"

I then go onto explain that since Christ has given us a gift, it would be nice if we could give a gift to someone else who was in need. We could go buy some toys for some kids that won't get to open any presents at Christmas. Mat reads the list of specific things for the kids we're looking at, diapers, cars, trucks, Barbies, Dora etc.

Becket: "He should have a remote control plane. I remember when I had one Dad and you flew it on a windy day and lost it forever. Do you remember that? You shouldn't have flown it on a windy day. We should get him a plane."

Mat: "Yeah, I remember, let it go already! Besides, plane wasn't on the list. You should get him what he wants, not what you want."

Mic: "Does everyone understand what we are to do?"

Becket: "So, Santa doesn't give you gifts if you're poor?"

Mat and Mic sigh.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ginger and Orange Kissing In a Tree

So Christmas baking has had my kitchen dusted with flour for weeks and Mat's hands raw with all my dirty dish washing, but I stumbled upon a new favorite. I happened to be making orange rolls and soft gingersnaps at the same time. I had made the orange flavored frosting already for the rolls and as I was stacking the gingersnaps into towers, I decided to mix sugar with MORE SUGAR by dipping that brown nugget into the orange zesty frosting and it was, ahhhh, delightful. Ginger and orange fused together in matrimony! Here's my invention:

Soft Gingersnaps (Harris Family Recipe)
2 c flour
1 TBSP Ginger
2 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¾ c shortening
1 c sugar
1 egg
¼ c molasses
Combine sugar and shortening then add egg and cream together. Add the remaining ingredients. Form into 1” balls and roll in sugar.
Do not press. Put on ungreased baking sheet and bake @350 for 12 to 15 minutes (I usually do mine for 10min)

Orange Rind Frosting

3c powder sugar
1/2c butter
3T orange juice concentrate
1 T orange rind

Mix sugar and butter first then add liquid to frosting consistency. Spread on rolls or cookies while warm.



Also, try putting pomegranate into your guacamole. It gives it a sweet juicy spark. Compliments of that Mexican restaurant we ate at in Palm Springs. I just tried to mimic it. Remember the fruit fresh to keep it looking a Christmas green. Your appetizer falls to a UNappetizing gwuack fast if you don't.


Friday, December 10, 2010

One Dollar

Harris Tradition:
Take kids to the dollar store to shop for each other.

This year, it goes a little something like this:

Mic: "On Saturday, we'll take you to the dollar store to do your Christmas shopping for your siblings."

Gretchen: "Oh! So if I pick out a gift for Becket and he coming down the isle, I'll just say I have nothing in my hand or what?"

Becket: "And, if if Gretchen asks me what I got her, I can just say underpants?"

Micah giggling: "UNDERPANTS!"


Becket was so careful this year not to spoil his surprises for his sisters that he wouldn't give it to me to pay for it! Talk about a death grip on a florescent caterpillar for Micah and party favor cars for Gretchen. He thought they were perfect gifts and he explained that the cars could go either way, "they're for boys or girls, mom."


Remind me to give him a gentle nudge in the right direction next year at the dollar store.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mmmmm.The Smells.

That old familiar smell of Christmas. It makes me smile and warms me up a bit.

The smell of gingerbread:


The smell of curiosity. Becket made this sign to make everyone aware and ponder the question, "Do elves need help?" He made it and hung it up himself. When I noticed it, I asked him about it and he just thought it would be a great idea. Okay then. So, I ask you, do your elves need help?


The smell of very clean donkeys at our local Catholic church's night in Bethlehem. We went to it last year and I must say I've never seen mules so fluffy and soft. The kids also get to make pottery, dreidels, eat food from that time, etc. The church goes all out and that's why I make this a holiday priority of mine.


The smell of crisp air about to be lit by the annual Woodburn Hall (a building on WVU's campus) light show.


The smell of way too hot, hot chocolate, but you go ahead and burn your tongue anyway, because you're still recovering from the smell of the crisp air.


The smell of warmth from our neighborhood get together last Saturday night, hosted by Anna. Such a fine and couldn't be a more diverse group of people on our block. It's nice to know we were all lumped together in our 1480 sq ft, 3bd condos for a reason. We all moved here the same time experiencing the unknowns, the changes, the frustrations of new jobs and no sidewalks and now we're all quite comfortable with each other, even though none of us are alike.


Korean and Polish dishes:


Iranian dish that I guess Brad is very excited about:


The smells. It's Christmastime, I know.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Becket, Gretchen and Micah brought together a total of 3 hours of moviemaking experience to create their first full length feature. You may need to watch it more than once to catch all the witty dialogue. We present Lunch.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Little Christmas Music

We've once again compiled our favorite new/alternative/obscure Christmas songs and present the best 20 we could find. A few are borderline in their Christmasness, but all mention the holidays in some way or another. Download the file by clicking the link below (it will take you to the website and make you fill in a captcha, it's about 200mb zipped). Let us know which song you liked best.

PS-Paul carried a cigarette, Mat carried a sucker

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who Buys These Snuggies Anyway?

I thought no one bought these, but I was wrong. I now know one person who owns a SNUGGIE (micro fleece, no less) and that would be my sister-in-law, Jocelyn.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanks and No Thanks


The Turkey Trot this year was run in memory of Shane Mitchell who passed away a few months ago. It's nice to know people were running it for him on both coasts. And, we're always remembering Buddy and Holly in our prayers. Hey, it's like Buddy Holly, wow, I just put that together.

No Thanks.
I should have wasted my sister in law Jocelyn at the end of the Turkey Trot because she is LIKE a WHOLE foot shorter than me, but I didn't. I'm saying I won and it was not a tie, unless she responds.


Thanks garage. The kids were provided a nice place in our garage to eat Thanksgiving so we could actually hear each other at the adult table. I know it was mean to put them out there, but it was absolutely necessary.


Thanks for helping with the cooking and clean up Harris boys.


Thanks for letting me reign as this years 2010 ladies leg wrestling champ.

No thanks.

No thanks to Kelli who was last years leg wrestling champ who would have beat me this year, except she is 5 mths pregnant. We decided to arm wrestle instead and...

she beat me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Favorite Princess Shirt in the Wash?

You go without it, of course! Annnnnd, you wait until it is clean again.

Balmy and Palmy

All packed up the night before and ready to go to Palm Springs, CA with Mat, when Gretchen hits us with a possible infection. How do kids sense these things? Sick kids are a given I guess when you are planning a little getaway with your husband. Why?

Gretchen and I had a little party from about 1AM til 5AM. There was nothing open as far as health care goes to get it taken care of, so I decided to paint her nails instead. I figured it makes everyone feel better. The lack of sleep presented a horrible stew for my preventative plane sickness plan. When one of the four gets slightly out of whack, sleep, hunger, stress or heavy, smelly, airplane turbulence, it creates a BIG problem. Luckily, I held on strong with a baggy of my salty foods that seem to take it away (see car sickness is like pregnancy to Chicago).

We landed in the warmth of the sun, had a nice hotel, nice food to eat, nice bike riding especially on Fairway Drive and nice company. Most of all, uninterrupted reading on the plane! Mat and I barely talked to each other.

We met up with these guys for fine dining at a lovely Mediterranean restaurant (Kabobz). Jody, Mindi, Dannielle (Mat's elder sister although she looks way younger) and his Mom. They are all very funny. If you are in your most depressing state, just call these comedians and they make all your stresses go away. Ka-poof!

The waiter was so friendly that he brought out his own canister of saffron to smell, since some at the table had never smelled it. He said the little tin can cost $1,000 dollars. Believe it, it's the most expensive spice in the world. Thank you kind Mediterranean Man.

Went to the date farm--actual date farming from palm dates, and this sign had us in love again. I recommend the date shake and the brunette dates.

And we went to an open air market. I found this bag, would anyone like to make it for me for Christmas? I thought it was original and I know someone out there can make it. Right?

Back at it, with Thanksgiving knocking at my front door and Christmas knocking at my back door, it's time to shift into full speed mode, but we'll always have Palm Springs, CA.

Special thanks to Kelli and Jared for taking care of my kiddos. They just love them and I am lucky to have them. As for Gretchen, turns out-no infection, I guess she just wanted to spend some extra time with me before I left on my trip.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


It was a cute moment...


Because...7 year olds can be uniquely nuts


Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear Kelli

Dear Kelli,

Thank you for staying with my kids while Mat and I venture off to Palm Springs. I have noticed a few problem areas around my house that needed some serious attending to after celebrating Halloween and Becket's birthday, so I decided to buckle down and do them to save you from some eye popping experiences. No guarantees you might still have some of those experiences while tending to to my children, but I did the obvious ones.

The laundry room that was covered in costumes and special deliveries is now available to you if you need to do your laundry.


The dirty, dingy mouse pad got a new face lift, so you don't have to mess with the gummy rolled up corners (Micah will be happy to demonstrate how to work it, since she is a computer junkie now).


Bar stools have been cleaned and given a paint touch up. You can no longer see the hard crusted cereal and milk spots that were dried on there before.


And, I cleaned the soap scummed shower curtains that are always a battle when you live in a humid place. The toilets also have all been bleached and soap dispensers filled. You know, all things that gun you down in the morning and that you have been meaning to get to, but haven't.


Hope my kids behave. Hope it is a pleasant time for you. May I suggest that if neither of these things are going well for you, you may just want to sit on my laundry room table, criss-crossed applesauced and smile. I did and it made all the bad things go away. Poof!


Shoe vs The Leaf Pile

We were invited to our neighbors for a little leaf gathering. We did it last year and I told Margaret we would like to help her rake her leaves again this year. It was beautiful sight to see the children having so much fun


We raked, they played.


Until the Mister's shoe fell off. It was black and heavy and you would think you would have found it rather easily, but it was a big leaf pile and it took about 1/2 hour of combing the leaves to find the needle in the haystack "so to speak". Becket, as you can imagine, became very worried. Becket was forming nightmares in his head of going to school with one shoe on.

Verona ended up finding it on the out skirts of the leaves by the pine tree. We were all rewarded chocolate for a job well done.