Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Love and Warmth From The Wiles. Kind Of.

Dear Friends and Family,

Depending on how you look at it, mea culpa (“my bad”) or pulvis vos felicis  (“aren’t you lucky?”).  I haven’t sent a holiday letter since 2006 – mostly because I was caught up in the complications and cussings of divorce.  Truthfully, ours was as amicable as a divorce could be.  No courtrooms.  No surprise witnesses.  No machetes.  It was final last April, and as one of the kids put it, “Divorce sucks, but we’re better than we ever thought we could be a year ago.”  Truly, we’re all fine – every one.  However, there have been plenty of goings-on Chez Wiles, so I’ll try to catch you up.

The kids are great.  Snarky Son's now in high school, which he has embraced like some kind of prickly brick wall.  Turns out, ninth grade’s a lot tougher than eighth.  Shocking.  Over Christmas break, he’s taking drivers’ ed.  I’m not worried a bit and you shouldn’t be, either.  Well, not until March, I guess.  That’s when he actually turns 15.  Now that SS is a teenager, I’m also pleased to report that he and Darling Daughter (DD) have grown a lot closer.  At one point this fall, he told her, “You’re not unattractive, you know.”  Sigh.  Just about brings tears to your eyes, right?

DD's in seventh grade and is playing basketball.  Despite being one of the (very) tallest girls on the team, she’s spending a lot of time at point guard.  Either her previous coaches have overlooked an undeniable talent, or this current team is a wee bit short on ballhandlers.  Hard to tell.  She went to summer camp this past year for four weeks.  Surprising how quickly her letters turned from, “I want to come home” to “can I stay another four weeks?”  Again, just about brings tears to your eyes, right?

DD had to come home, though, because there’s some sort of “no felines” rule at her camp, and although she might get over me, there was no getting over her 12-pound-cat, Lionel, who likely believes his name to be, “you’re an indoor cat, you’re an indoor cat, you’re an indoor cat,” which is what I say to him, over and over.  Every.  Single.  Day.

We have a new addition to our household.  (C’mon, now.  Don't even go there.  Remember that I’m 47 and single.)  In February, Josie-the-rescue-dog came to live with us.  She’d had parvo and been starved nearly to death, so mostly what she wants from us is to be fed and loved.  Here’s what we want from her:  To leave the #%$@* cat alone.  Every.  Single.  Day.

I’m still a stay-at-home-mom (I told you the divorce was amicable), so my life as cook-driver-sock-finder-poop-picker-upper continues.  I have, however, been keeping a blog, Feminine Wiles, which I hope you’ll read sometime after the holiday rush slows down.  I try to include a recipe in every post, as well as a funny story.  Or, at least, a story that is funny to me.  To find it, just Google “Cheri Wiles blog” or “Cheri Feminine Wiles.”  Or, try, “master stir fry in peru keep cats in basement.”  No kidding.  Someone once landed on my blog by Googling these very words.  I can't even imagine.

The response to Feminine Wiles has been mixed here at home.  DD says the word “blog” (which actually is short for “web log”) sounds disgusting – like some sort of bodily function.  Nice.  SS's friends actually read it, but what he wants to know is, “Does this mean you’re finally getting paid to write?”  Uh.  No.  But thanks for asking.

Which is all to say that 2009 has treated us just fine, and we all hope it’s treated you just as well -- or in some instances (poop-scooping comes to mind) even better.

Much love and happy holidays,


P.S.  If you need a great coffeecake for Christmas morning, I've got an idea that's a snap. Note that you've got to assemble it the night before and pop it in the oven the next morning.  As unlikely as it sounds, it always turns out perfect.

Butterscotch Monkey Bread

1 bag frozen parkerhouse style rolls
1 (small) box butterscotch pudding (not instant)
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter

The night before, spray bundt pan with nonstick coating.  Place frozen rolls in pan.  Pour dry pudding mix over rolls and sprinkle with pecans.  Combine brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Drizzle hot mixture over frozen rolls and cover pan loosely with plastic wrap.  Leave pan out on counter overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350.  Rolls will have risen, doubling or tripling in size.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly and pass the napkins!
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