7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 61)

December 11, 2009 | 83 comments

— 1 —

Guilty confession: I totally cheated on our Christmas card picture this year. I Photoshopped the baby’s head. I tried to keep it real and be satisfied with an imperfect yet realistic picture, I did, but between the series of shots where the toddlers were screaming and hitting each other and the series where at least one of my children managed to have a finger in his or her nose at all times, only this one shot was semi-normal. Except for the fact that the baby was crying and looked like a sullen troll with her head turned away from the camera. So I took another shot where she looked good (and my husband had his eyes closed while my mouth was frozen on some syllable of “I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU TO THE COUNT OF THREE TO SIT DOWN AND SMILE!”), and I took that baby head and put it on the picture that was good of the rest of us. Total cheat, I know.

— 2 —

I have another Christmas-card-related dilemma: A couple years ago we sent a card to some acquaintances in San Antonio, and it turned out that they’d long since moved from that address. But the current resident, an elderly lady, just loved our Christmas card. We received a long note written in shaky handwriting talking about how lonely she’s been since her husband passed away earlier in the year, and how much she enjoyed reading our family newsletter. We kept that address on the list, and we got another similar note last year.

I’m planning on sending her another card this year, but the problem is that I don’t know her name — her return address only showed her street and city. Last year I just used our friends’ names, hoping she’d think that it was an oversight, but that’s kind of getting old now. Do I address it to “Current Resident”? “Our Friend at 123 Main St.”? (I’m telling you, when you’re the #1 Google result for socially awkward person, these situations just find you.)

— 3 —

Speaking of social awkwardness, I keep meaning to clarify something I said about Christmas caroling in take #5 here last year: it’s not you, it’s me. I felt so bad when some people who enjoy Christmas caroling commented that it bums them out to hear that some people don’t like carolers. Let me clarify that it’s not that I don’t like carolers, it’s that I fear them.

Wait, no, that sounds bad. Let me try again: the whole situation just seems so rife with opportunities for me to do something horribly offensive / awkward / embarrassing that it makes me nervous to think of a group of people showing up at my door and singing. But I actually really like the concept, and think it’s a wonderful way to build community and spread an atmosphere of joy. And, honestly, people like me need to get over ourselves and enjoy the Christmas cheer. If I knew someone like me I’d arrange to have carolers at their door every night.

— 4 —

I saw the best bumper sticker the other day:

I found it on Cafepress here. (Also, from the “when literature/theater nerds create bumper stickers” files is this and this.)

— 5 —

Did you hear that Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club, converted to Catholicism? Here’s an interview where she talked about it. In this interview with the Huffington Post (warning: bountiful profanity) she gave the analogy of talking about her conversion to a secular audience being like doing card tricks on the radio. So true.

— 6 —

I put my label maker to good use regarding the whole “ruined winter wardrobe” thing:

— 7 —

I don’t know how you northern moms do it. Winter is about to be the death of me; not the cold itself, but the getting the kids ready to go outside in the cold. For about nine months out of the year around here I can throw some shirts, shorts and sandals on the kids and we’re ready to go. Now each one of us needs coats, hats and socks (that’s 24 ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES for our family of six). And the socks. Oh, the socks. It’s as if the entire concept is designed to test the limits of my sanity. The One-Sock-Sucking Black Hole is in full force in our house, and the quantity of socks that I buy seems to have no relation whatsoever to the quantity of socks available for wear. Anyway, other than that I’m loving the cooler weather.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Below is a Mr. Linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

I look forward to reading your posts!

1. Genny @ MyCup2Yours
2. Tami @ The Next Step
3. Sarah @ Amongst Lovely Things
4. Kathy @ The Political Housewyf
5. Gae
6. Maggie @ From the Heart
7. Molly @ Just Simply
8. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
9. Carolyn @ reluctant atheist
10. Elizabeth Mahlou
11. Sarah @ SoJo & Co
12. DebbieQ@stophershesknitting
13. Mary @ Hope Echoes
14. CM @ Catholic Mutt
15. Deanna@Notlukewarm
16. NCSue
17. Becky @Beck’s Three
18. EV @ somewhat in the air
19. Nadja @ Patch O’ Dirt Farm
20. Judy
21. Trena @ The Third Prayer
22. Sara @ AShowerOfRoses
23. Jason @ Mainland Voyager
24. Margaret in Minnesota
25. Dymphna @ the Well
26. It Feels Like Chaos
27. Dawn Farias @ No Heavy Lifting
28. Jaime @ UndertheFigTree
29. Mary @ Passionate Perseverance
30. Jenny@Lest I Forget
31. Amanda
32. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
33. Young Mom
34. Lenetta @ Nettacow
35. Joy@joy in the morning
36. Elena @My Domestic church
37. Sarah @ Fumbling Toward Grace – on chapel veils
38. Katie@ The Baby Factory
39. Barbara C.@Box of Chocolates
40. violingirl
41. Pam@mosaicsynapse
42. TwoSquareMeals
43. Kim @ Love Letter to my Kids
44. Holly @ Hollison Journey
45. Tienne McKenzie (I’m New)
46. Milehimama
47. Kate @ La Vita Bella
48. Fr. Christian Mathis
49. Aubrey @ Laughing All the Way
50. Andi @ The Bjorn Identity
51. Kathleen-the Christmas Carol edition
52. Manda @ inside dog
53. ‘Becca @ Earthling’s Handbook
54. Cass @ Medical Motherhood
55. (just) Lenae
56. Tracy@magnolia cul-de-sac
57. Phyllis @ Life on Windy Ridge
58. Transitus Tiber
59. Kacie @ Papua Girl in Dallas
60. Tracy@The Secret of Living
61. Gill-Life of a Photographer
62. Emily @ Me In Life
63. ThatMarriedCouple
64. Theresa @ Off Topic
65. Tami
66. Matching Moonheads
67. Amy Lynch
68. Nicole @ As Many As We’re Given
69. Catherine @ Adventures in Domesticity (Christmas Traditions)
70. Christy
71. Natatomic
72. Michelle
73. Julia@ Blessed Obscurity
74. Very Sleepy People
75. Marti Lopshire
76. Anna @ Annalogue
77. Christian H @ The Thinking Grounds

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  1. Genny

    I know what you mean about the cold. Where I'm at in CA it snowed (only a dusting) this week. My daugther has outdoor swim every night and I've been freeeeezing!

  2. Tami Boesiger

    Hey, I'm with you on the whole caroling thing. It's so awkward.

  3. Courageous Grace

    I have a suggestion for #3, but it takes being a bit sly. Figure out what county the address is located in, and look up that county's online property tax records. It should show the name of the current owner of the home at that address. However, it might be best just to send the card to "Our Friend" and mention in it that you regrettably don't know her name.

  4. cmb

    Hi there! I have just found your blog and enjoy reading – but I wanted to suggest a solution to your wrong address/new friend problem… if you do a reverse search on the address, you might get her name. Just google her address and see if a white pages listing comes up. At least you'd get a Mrs. Something… good luck!

  5. Amie

    Just address it to "our Christmas friend" and include your phone number and email address this time. You never know if she might have someone to help with that. Wouldn't it be lovely for your family to have a pen pal throughout the year? I am sure she would love that. Bonus: include a hand-drawn picture from your kids who are old enough.

  6. Shannon

    Jen, there's a place on the web where you can put in the address and get other information back, sort of like a reverse directory. Good luck.

  7. Rebekka

    1. LOL, seriously, tears in my eyes. You rock.

    2. Definitely not current resident. I like the idea of "our friend" and add a little note inside asking her her name. She didn't sign the letter she sent you? Even if she just signed with a first name I'd put "Mrs. Betty Sue" and call it a day.

  8. itmaybejj

    Regarding #2 — sites like whitepages.com let you do a reverse lookup by address — try that first!

    If that doesn't work, your friends probably know her name if she bought the house from them. Or, if it's a rental, they'd still know the landlord's name.

    My $0.02.

  9. Lynn

    The key to socks is those hanes ones with colored toes. Each size/gender is a different color. buy all crew or all anklets, then assign colors and you're good to go. Never fold or match, because the kids can do that as they put them on, and you just bump them to a new color when they outgrow the previous one. They come in bags of 20, so there are enough to share with the sock sucking monster.

  10. Lindsay

    You mentioned that that bumper sticker fit into the "lit/theater nerds" file, when actually it fits into the "Family Guy" quotes file. You might enjoy the whole "mock of the novelist": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9rv1oJ4Res

  11. Sarah

    2 – Try a reverse address look up like the one at http://www.whitepages.com/reverse_address I think Switchboard.com has a reverse look up too. If that doesn't work, then I'd go with "Our Friend at…" ๐Ÿ™‚

    PS We're from SA!

  12. beck'sthree

    I would address the card to "The Sweet Lady How Lives at" and then the address on the next line. Maybe inside hers you could write a note saying that you wish you knew here name so you could make it more personal.

  13. Nadja Magdalena

    I sooo am with you on kids and cold weather. My take on the first snowfall of the Christmas season is this: 45 minutes of bundling 5 kids up in layers of clothing, then they are outside in the snow for 10 minutes. They come in, peel off layers of wet clothes and leave them scattered hither and thither, and then demand hot chocolate.

    In the summer they play in the water and I just have them strip off the bathing suits outside and I throw them towels!

  14. Anonymous

    Oh what A blessing that your family letter made it's way to that lady! I'm sure the second year will mean even more to her. I don't know the proper address but "Our Friend" sounds really good.

    I'm with you on the winter accessories. I have all the hats and mittens in a shoe organizer in the garage entry. I'm hoping that will help this year.


  15. ~ Judy ~

    Perhaps if I join MY pile from one sock left from the sucking-black-sock-hole to YOUR pile of one sock left from the sucking-black-sock-hole, we might end up with a few matching pairs!!! And while I own no designer sweaters…I have had some nice things that have met a similar demise when my darling husband "helps" with laundry.

  16. tootie

    Story #2 is so sweet! I'd just put "current resident," and I'm sure she'll get it. Either way, your card is going to make her day!

  17. KZG

    For your quandary about the Christmas card addressee, can you just check her address on White pages dot com and see what comes up? Even if its her deceased husband's name, at least you can write "Mrs. John Doe", etc. That is a nice story. We have several relatives (distant like cousins of my husband's mother's father, etc) that we have never met but they love getting our annual Christmas photo of our son. It kind of helps make it the reason for the season, you know? Good luck!

  18. Trena

    Our sweet new friend at 123 Main Street.

    That is nice that you are still going to send her a card. And even nicer now that you will let her know that you realize the error but still want to include her in your family.

  19. drustee

    Thanks for your blog Jen, and best wishes for the rest of Advent, for Christmas and the coming year.

    'Current resident' sounds cold.

    'Our friend at 123 Main St' sounds much better. You could add a note that her letters have been much welcomed and appreciated, and that you enjoy keeping in touch with her.

    If she is lonely and elderly, that reassurance may not be misplaced.

  20. Kris

    I definitely think you should address the card to "our friend." I bet she is looking forward to getting your card each year now. Here in Michigan we are having a high temp today of 17. Now when the kids go to school it is coats,hats,gloves,snow pants,and boots with shoes in the backpack. They are not allowed to go out for recess without snowpants. Yes it takes a lot more time to get everyone out the door now. And also the kids remind me to "warm up the car" now before we go anywhere. Can't tell you how many missing gloves and hats we have out there somewhere.

    Have a great weekend!

  21. Jason

    We had carolers coming around our neighborhood earlier this week. My wife and I had just managed to get our three children down for bed (two of whom were sick) and I was scared to death that they would come to our door and undo all the work we had just accomplished. Thankfully our house must have been dark and forbidding enough that they passed us by. Talk about bah humbug!

    On your new friend in San Antonio, I like the whole idea of "Our Friend." That's nice.

  22. Trena

    I just thought of another way you can solve your Christmas card mystery. This will take a little work but if you really want to personalize it, you can look up her name. If she rents her home, it won't work. But if she is the home owner this is what you can do.

    On this website: http://www.naco.org/Template.cfm?Section=Find_a_County&Template=/cffiles/counties/usamap.cfm

    Click the state, then the county (have to know the county) You then just search for that county's phone number and ask for the assessor's office. Give the assessor the home address and she/he should be able to tell you the name of the homeowner.

    If this person lives in a big city, then there is a good chance their county is online and you don't have to call at all. For instance, I live in St. Louis and our personal property records are all listed online. There is an interactive map and you just type in the address, an aerial pops up with the home, and then you can see the homeowner's name, address, social security number, underwear size, etc.

    Just kidding on the last part but it is pretty darn scary that this information is public.

  23. Dawn Farias

    Oh I am so with you on the cold weather clothing stuff. We live in San Antonio so have weather similar to yours and I am right there with you on the accessories. We lived in snowy states when our first two were born and I'm thankful that here we don't need even more and bulkier accessories than what are called for. Bah-humbug on all That.

    I enjoyed those Mary Karr interviews. I haven't read her work but I posted them directly to my Facebook because some of her words and thoughts are exactly my own regarding choosing Catholicism.


  24. Brian

    The other day my son was surprised to realize he accidentally had on matching socks.

    That's how I handle the sock thing in my house.

  25. Diane

    It is currently -7 here, and everyone needs hats, coats, mittens, snow pants, and boots. I refuse to calculate how many articles that is for a family of seven.

    We not only have a one sock black hole, we have a one mitten black hole. My 5 yo has worn a different pair of mittens to school every day this week, and has come home with 1 of the 2 every single day. I cannot afford this!

  26. Suburban Correspondent

    I am always buying socks. I don't know where they go.

    Totally agree on the carolers – what do I do while they're singing? Nod and smile? What if, heaven forbid, they launch into a second song? What if I don't have some nice homemade cookies to give them? Will they come back later and TP my house?

    Karr has a memoir called LIT. Mrs. G over at the Women's Colony recommended it highly.

  27. Susan M

    Hi Jen,

    I so sympathize about the whole sock thing. But here's a pretty good (but kinda sad) solution: give up on cute socks and buy identical pairs so that when one disappears, it doesn't matter. You could also just save cute socks for special occasions and use the same color ones for every day. Just a thought.

  28. Kerry

    Have you tried a white pages reverse look up? There are some online white pages that will let you put in the street addy and it will give you the current resident's name. HTH!

  29. wnpaul

    On No. 2: how about either using one of the Internet people finder services that do a reverse address lookup? Or else just enclose a short note explaining your dilemma, and asking her how she whould like to be addressed?

    I would probably try the first and if that didn't succeed, the second.

    BTW, I am an Evangelical from Austria, lived in Dallas for 5 years, and greatly enjoy your blog.

    Have a blessed Christmas season!

  30. Amanda

    In response to Take #2 – I would address the card to "Our Friend at… address" and enclose a note explaining that you cannot remember her name but always look forward to exchanging letters at Christmas time.

    And #7 – I am SO with you on the socks. I only have one child (and an infant at that), but living in the Deep South, we never wear socks unless it's freezing, and now I'm constantly having to fight with my daughter about keeping socks on!

  31. MemeGRL

    Have you googled the address of the woman in your friends' old house? Or was it a friend you are still in touch with who might know the name of the people in their old house?
    And Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer had a great suggestion one time: keep socks in the bin with the shoes. That's working great for us too, though still, somewhere, all those single socks are having a rockin' party, I'm sure.
    Finally, not a cheat on photoshop. Wish I knew how to use it!

  32. Jo

    On #2–you might be able to find the name by doing a reverse lookup on http://www.whitepages.com.

  33. Heather

    In regards to #1, don't feel bad about the photoshopping. Own up to it and be proud that you have the skills to do so! We photoshop our picture every year. We get better hair and whiter teeth ;D
    Regarding #2, I would address it to "Our Friend." If she writes back this year, hopefully she'll sign her name. If she now lives somewhere else, you have a chance to brighten someone else's day.

  34. bearing

    If you're going to ask how we northern moms do it, getting children dressed for the cold, you are obliged to tell us what the outside temperature is where you are so we can laugh at you for thinking that is "cold." Cough cough, I mean, so that we can dispense advice about easy-to- wear clothing that is appropriate for your unique winter climate.

    We had wind chill of 19 below zero this morning. My husband biked to work.

  35. Young Mom

    Um, sorry but I have no pity for your cooler weather. ๐Ÿ™‚
    The temps up here are -15 with windchills of almost -40. I have to bundle up 3 fat shapless wiggling little bodies in sweaters, coats, socks, mittens, hats, scarves and boots. And then when they take their mittens hats and boots and socks off in the car! Aaaaggghhhh!

  36. Smoochagator

    Oh my gosh, thanks for the link to the Karr interview! I'd never heard of her, and now I think I have a writer-crush on her.

  37. nicole

    Tights. Tights for the girls. I put my toddler in tights most days, under her pants, and my big girls like wearing them too. A little bit of a pain when changing a diaper, but so much easier than wrangling socks.

  38. Jeana

    On number 2–Address it to Dear Friend or Our Friend. Does she sign her letters? If so, you can be sure to take note of the name when she writes this year. If not, write a note on the inside saying you never caught her name but you enjoy your correspondence.

  39. chandy

    Re: your Christmas card dilemma…
    A quick search of the address on the county assessor's website ought to tell you who owns the property. Not sure if that might help…

  40. lo

    Re: #2 – have you tried the Reverse Lookup function on Whitepages.com? You might be able to find her name that way…

  41. confused homemaker

    Her interview is how I feel in academia (sociology no less), talking about God isn't common & talking Catholicism (I was raised loosely culturally Catholic but had a conversion to living Catholicism) is totally like a card trick on the radio.

  42. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    I haven't had a chance to read all the comments yet, but thanks for the suggestions about #2!

    Also, for those of you asking what these low temperatures are that I'm complaining about, it's been in the (gasp!) 30's this week! How do people live in this weather?! It's insane! (I used to live in North Dakota, BTW. Honestly, I don't know how we did it.) ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. Kathy

    I have a suggestion for your sock prob. I live up north with 4 kids (4.5, 3, 2, and 6 mo). Each person has a small basket for socks, pj's, socks, stuff that doesn't need to be folded. Everyone has white socks (except hubby who's in charge of his own for work!) and each has a small, labeled, zippered mesh bag (like for washing delicates). Socks come off, go in mesh bag, zip up, throw in wash and dryer, dump in that person's basket, no matching 'cuz they're all the same, haven't lost a sock in quite a while! Also hung a window planter box next to the door for hats and mittens. Hope that can help you figure out something. But, yes, all the extra accessories are a PAIN, you just have to figure out how to live with it all!

  44. beyondhomemaking

    OK- for the sock thing. I have 2 boys that are 2 years apart. I bought about a gazillion socks that are all exactly the same- seriously- like 5 packages of socks. The only socks they have that are different are the dark socks they need for Sundays, and those actually go in MY drawer so they don't get lost.

    I did the same with mittens. I made several pair, all the same so that when one is lost it's easy to replace.

    All that being said, it takes 15 minutes to get ready to go out in this weather and I only have 2 littles to get ready.

  45. Kim

    As a Texan turned Wisconsinite, I love your #7! At this time of year, I dream of just jumping in the car with the kids!

    And I second the comment on the Hanes colored toes–changed our life around here (they're at Target). Another idea is to use zippered lingerie laundry bags for each child's socks, and throw the whole bag in and out of the wash. I'm thinking of trying that one.

  46. Judy

    I love your blog. I've mentioned it several times in my Bible Study group. Can I add myself to Mr. Linky if my blog isn't faith-based? Mine is a food blog.

  47. Pam Elmore

    Thanks for that list, Jen!

    Re: #3 — I actually checked on Google, and you're right… I laughed out loud!!

  48. Tienne

    Ugh. I don't know why it says "I'm New" next to my name on the Mr. Linky list. I've posted before and I definitely didn't write it in. Sorry!

    You say that you have social awkwardness sometimes? I have this affliction where I often say or do really stupid things and then agonize about explaining them and/or apologizing, and often go overboard and make too big a deal out of something that is nothing, so I'll just leave it there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. Martina

    Don't forget you actually have to remember to *buy* those accessories year after year – at least around here, anyway! No one seems to fit in their things year after year. Paige *STILL* has no "winter" shoes to speak of, lol. And pants? No one really has an acceptable number of pants to make it through the week from one wash day to the next.

    Fear not, you are *not* alone.

    As for the lady in San Antonio why not "Our good friend at" and then in the card, tell her you'd love to add her to your list permanently and would she give you her *FULL* name so you can address her properly.

    I hope it all goes well! ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. bearing

    My solution in temperatures in the thirties is this: I try to dress the kids in clothes — not accessories, clothes — that are warm enough that they aren't going to die of hypothermia if they go outside in them for a few minutes. Then they can run in and out without messing with a bunch of extra stuff.

    Hooded fleecy sweatshirts over long sleeved tee shirts (or long underwear), warm socks and warm pants. Bonus if the sweatshirts have handwarmer pockets and/or are a little too big so chilly fingers can be turtled back inside. An alternative to warm socks is for your kids to have warmly lined snowboots that they can wear without any socks at all (mukluks, for instance). Having a few outfits for your kids made of real wool is worth it. Bonus: you can keep your thermostat turned down and save energy.

    Then you can just stuff all the coats/gloves/etc. in a big mesh bag and carry the bag out with you to the car while the kids run out in their warm-enough clothes plus the warmly lined boots. You can leave the bag in your car while you run into stores and things, and only have to take the bag with you (or suit up) if you anticipate walking outside for more than 5-10 minutes.

    Or if you anticipate someone calling CPS on you because you Didn't! Dress! The! Kids! Properly! In that case, have a coat with a hood and run mittens on strings through everyone's sleeves. Make each kid carry his own coat if he won't wear it.

    Obviously a small baby needs more bundling than this, but if you are using a sling that's not too hard.

    Oh, re: socks, not everyone will like this solution but around here I never insist that socks match. All the kids' socks live in one basket and if they can find two that fit reasonably well I'm satisfied.

  51. AmyRobynne

    I like "Our friend at 123 Smith St".

    I'm in MN and I long for the days of running outside and maybe putting sandals on. It's below zero, which now requires hat, scarf, mittens, coat, boats, and sometimes snowpants. No fun.

    As for the socks, my boys can wear the same sizes and this summer I got rid of all 100 pair of their socks and bought 20 pair white anklets and 15 pair navy (school uniform). I kept a few black pair that didn't match and now I think I should round those up, toss them, and get 10 matching black ones. I LOVE not having to hunt for matching socks. Best decision ever. I got them at Old Navy's outlet when everything in the store was 40% off.

  52. Anonymous

    Loved the Mary Karr interview; now I have to read her stuff! Have you read any and do you prefer something in particular? Fascinating lady she is and day-umn, 50?! She's gorgeous!

    ~St. Fashionista

  53. Fr. Christian Mathis

    Back again after a few weeks away from your Friday Quick Takes. This week….the saints!

  54. Aubrey

    If it makes you feel better, I think that we're going to photoshop our family picture this year too. We just couldn't get all four kids to look at the same time. And next year with five will be truly interesting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I'm a northern mom. The snow is going to make me insane. Here in Nebraska, we just received a nice foot of it and between the shoveling, the boots, the snow pants, the coats, hats, mittens, scarves, and winter clothing–2 layers instead of one–the laundry has become a monster. And the kids were off of school for three days and my husband was home for two days because we were snowed in. I thought if we were going to be stuck at home one more day I just might lose my mind. Then the plows came through. Sheesh. Snow is entirely overrated. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  55. Preggo

    LOVE the Christmas card cheat!! Wish I would have thought of that!!

  56. Manda

    Ha ha! I love the Christmas card dilemmas!! And short of ordering mine and receiving them in the mail? I've done NOTHING in the way of mailing mine. UGH. I guess I have a project in the works this weekend! That is if my husband can manage to entertain our toddler in a way that doesn't involve BUGGING MAMA.

  57. 'Becca

    Another idea for the socks: Years ago, when my dad's socks kept getting lost in the dryer, I found these things called Sock Locks–and a quick Google search shows me that they still exist!!! (I love how the brand name is spelled correctly; it isn't SokLox or something silly like that.) They're so cheap you can have a lot and just keep them on the socks whenever they are not being worn.

  58. elizabethe

    Jen, I beg to kindly differ with the people who have recommended doing a reverse trace or whatever on her address. Don't look up the lady's name. Frankly it's mildly creepy and it skips a necessary step in the personal interaction back and forth and it robs her of the opportunity to introduce herself to you by name. Plus you have way better things to do with your time. Just put

    Our New Friend
    c/o [your old friends' names]

    And write a note inside saying you really appreciated her note two years ago and could you have the favor of her name so you can continue the correspondence.

  59. Anne Marie

    RE #2

    A few tricks I leaned to find folks when I worked as a debt collector.

    Iโ€™m sure itโ€™s way obvious, but have you tried to look up her name using the municipalityโ€™s tax records http://www.bcad.org/clientdb/?cid=1 or using a reverse address type of service http://www.reverseaddress.com/ ?

    Finally, the local meals on wheels folks may know who she is, and if they donโ€™t perhaps they should!!!

  60. Tracy @Magnolia Cul-de-Sac

    I could have written your comment about the socks. Word for word.

  61. Sally Thomas

    My husband pins his socks together. He is the only person in this house with reliably matching socks. Since they're all black, I'm not sure why this matters. It's not like he's going to be teaching class wearing one red soccer sock and one pink Dora footie. I guess the only danger would be that that boys' Sunday socks might get into his drawer, and then he'd be madly dashing out the door (or hopping) while trying to pull a 7-year-old's sock over his foot . . .

    I hate that about winter, too, the whole "we have to wear clothes now" thing. On second thought, make that "winter." We live in North Carolina, where it's July half the year and March the other half, except for a week after New Year's when it's briefly North Dakota.

  62. That Married Couple

    I love that your label is also in Spanish!

  63. Juliet


    The answer, and I mean answer, is sock cops. Danielle Bean recommended them a couple of years ago and I bought them. They changed my life not just my laundry. I can now reach into my dryer and pull out a matched pair of toddler socks. I kid you not.

    We have 5 kids and they were truly an answer to my anguished prayers. I got mine at sockcop.com. They don't look like much but wow!

  64. Michelle

    #2: Definitely like the idea of sending to "Our Friend at 123 Main". That elderly lady is SO blessed to have you in her life!

    #7: COMPLETELY LOL @ "The One-Sock-Sucking Black Hole is in full force in our house" I can totally feel you on that one! My kids cannot ever keep a pair of socks together!

  65. This Heavenly Life

    I think listening to carolers is awkward too! Just smiling (a sometimes fake smile) feels so phony, and I don't know whether to sing along or sway appreciatively, so I'm left nervously glancing around for a more willing recipient. However, I've BEEN a caroler before, and enjoyed it. I think I'm better on the giving side of this equation.

    I love your laundry label!

  66. foursure

    Thanks for the tip on Mary Karr. I LOVED the Liars Club. It's probably the best memoir I've ever read. I'm so happy to hear of her conversion – God is Good!

  67. Passion4Birth

    I'm new to your blog….but am liking it so far! I like the quick takes.

  68. tradertif

    I love your blog, especially the friday entries.

    And I know what you mean about the socks. But I never bother to match socks. (Or gloves, for that matter.) I went out the other day with 1 rainbow-striped sock, and 1 argyle sock…….along with one black glove and one pink glove. Who cares??

    (Of course, I don't have any kids…….maybe if I had kids, I'd be embarrassing them…….but I still probably wouldn't care, lol.)

  69. Roxane B. Salonen

    Jen, I miss posting here on Fridays, but it hasn't worked out for a while. I seem to be more single-minded, especially during Advent. I hope to join in again soon. For now, still enjoy reading your reflections. I love the Photo-shopped baby head thing. Too funny! I don't suppose we'll get a chance to see it? ๐Ÿ™‚

  70. Christian H

    For starters, it's about -32 today where I am. That's Celsius, by the way, but if you remember that our freezing is at 0 degrees and that the two scales converge at around -42 or something, you can get a picture of how cold that is. With wind chill, though, I was told that it's more like -50, which I believe. We have to dress the dog up to walk her outside, and I was just thinking that I don't want to know what dressing kids for this would be like. Imagine snow pants.

    I was going to suggest "Our Friend" (and clearly am), but I notice that all of the world and some of Venus has already, so I think you know what the thing to do is.

  71. Jess

    Loved your photo and never would have suspected Photoshop!

    I cheated this year too by purposely choosing a card with two picture frames instead of one, and just finding two funny, cute pics of each of the kids and giving them each their own space. After several futile attempts of a joint shot I gave up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  72. ekbell

    Where we live the maximum temperature so far in December has been 34.2F and the minimum has been -17.7F!

    The moment I decide to put away some item of clothing in storage is the moment the weather decides to go hot or cold and I need to retrieve the clothing ASAP.

    Although given the amount of snow on the ground, I can be fairly sure that we will be wearing boots for the next while.

  73. Anna

    #7: Make yourself gear-up and un-gear all the kids 3 times a day every day. After about a month, you'll start to get in the groove and it won't be so annoying. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    (That wasn't a serious suggestion, but this next one is.) About the socks… if you don't already, designate some bag as the "sock sack". Any time socks come through the laundry without a matching pair, toss them in the sock sack. Every now and then (i.e. plan regularly to do it every two or three weeks, but forget or be lazy and only do it when one of your kids can't find a pair at all ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), dump all the socks in the sock sack on the bed and make as many into pairs as you can. Or just riffle through it when you're desperate, to see if you can find a pair.

    I still have socks that have been unmatched in my sock sack for probably a couple years, but it does help to have a designated place for unmatched socks.

  74. Evelyn

    If a sock has remained unmatched for over a year in my house, it becomes a puppet ๐Ÿ™‚

  75. Anonymous

    Missing socks: mix and match! Who says both socks have to be the same? Seriously.

  76. mo*reezy

    Though I'm the laziest commenter in the entire world, I enjoy your blog very very much. I just awarded you something on my blog… Thanks for your writing and sharing.

  77. happygeek

    This Canadian is smirking a bit about your cold weather dilemma.
    It's going to a HIGH of -22F tommorrow. That's without the wind chill. So it will feel like -31.

    I hate winter with every fibre of my being. I didn't before I had kids, but now I most certainly do. The layers are going to kill me.
    That and being pretty much house bound for 5 months.

  78. Marie

    Oh, getting the kids out in the cold, like my midwife said, it's worse than preparing for a spacewalk.

  79. Dionna

    Love the dryer note you put on there. That's great!
    I think it's also really neat that you'd send a Christmas card to the lady who got it last year. What a light you will be in her life this year. Yes, I'd probably just address it to her as you stated.

  80. Anonymous


    We used to be "counting parents" – I'll give you till the count of three to do this. Then there would be the drama as we counted " 2 and a half", "2 and three quarters" while our child showed us who was really in charge.

    Then our friends kindly pointed out that "if they can do it on three, they can do it on one". Now we just tell the kids what to do without the counting, and they either do it or face the appropriate consequence.



  81. CMick

    Somone has probably already mentioned this (and I didn't have time to go through the entire comments section) but you can probably find that woman's name by doing a reverse address lookup. This is how reporters and real estate agents get a lot of info. You can start here: http://www.whitepages.com/reverse_address. Hope this helps.

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