This morning, the battery was dead on the car. I shook my fist at the sky and called in the reinforcements (aka my Uncle) who came over with his battery charger and charged the battery since the car was in the garage.

Then, we called around until we found a place that would install the battery and instead of spending the whole day sitting on the couch and watching Christmas movies, we got to spend part of our day having a new battery installed.

Untitled

But, the girls were good. They shared the iPod and we played Hangman until the car was ready and we drove home and I was thankful. Thankful, that it was a minor repair, that we hadn’t been stranded any place and that my Uncle was able to come over and help us get back on the road, quickly. I was thankful we wouldn’t have to wait for three hours (the guy ahead of us did) and that the girls waited patiently in the little room.

We stopped on the way home and bought bubble bath and tv dinners and finally snuggled up on the couch. I’d been waiting all day.

Our box of Christmas books has been brought down to go back onto the shelves and Littlebit has been reading through them. I love that she loves to read so much.

Untitled

Lastly, I took some time out to repair our angel. She’s very special to us as she’s topped our tree for every year of the Princess’s life. Last year, her lights burnt out after 13 years of use and we paced her up and forgot. I bought a new strand of lights for her, today, and carefully unhooked her old lights and then reattached the new ones.

Untitled

Hopefully, she’ll be good for thirteen more years.

Watching Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever We are fans of Tarter Sauce and I expected this movie to be pretty awful, but it knew it was campy, so it made fun of itself and we ended up liking it.

Pepper took a “bubble bath” last night. A lot of times, Elf ideas are elaborate and take a lot of time and money, but this one is pretty quick and only costs a package of marshmallows. And, you can eat the leftover marshmallows, so that’s a win/win.
Untitled

And, today was the day we went out to cut down our Christmas tree.
Untitled

The original plan was for Big Daddy to sling an axe over his shoulder and we would trapse into the wood and fell a perfect blue spruce and I would swoon because Big Daddy and an axe. But, in the end I couldn’t make Big Daddy wrestle on the ground in the mud with an axe, so we settled for a pre-cut Fraser fir instead.

Untitled

Thankfully, we had a busy afternoon, so the tree dripped dry on the porch while we went to the Christmas parade. It was too wet for the band to wear their uniforms, so they went with “Ugly Christmas Sweater”.
Untitled
After cheering on the Princess, stuffing our pockets full of candy and welcoming Santa to town, it was time to go home and put up our tree.

Things were going well.
Untitled

Everyone was feeling happy and festive.
Untitled
And then, Littlebit’s Belle ornament she picked out at Disneyworld fell off the tree and broke.

I have never heard Littlebit cry like that. Now, Littlebit is a cryer. She just feels things so deeply and it’s easy to break her heart or excite her into squeals and dancing without much effort, but she was so sad that I cried right along with her. Thankfully, it was a small piece and it was easy to fix and by morning no one will every know. But, it did cast a pallor over Littlebit’s festivities. Thankfully, we were able to snuggle and talk about how many happy memories were on our tree’s branches and she started to feel better.

And, I felt a little like crying again. I get emotional every year when we put up the tree. I love how it’s a snapshot from our entire lives, starting at the very very beginning; thirty nine years of combined history all contained in a corner of the room. It’s wonderful.

Untitled

Dinner
Untitled

If you have been to our house during cold weather time, I have probably made you soup and this potato soup is a particular favorite. It’s NOT healthy, but for serving a time or two a season, you can’t beat it.

Watching Spike the Elf

I had trouble sleeping last night. That probably doesn’t surprise you if you read yesterday’s entry. I tossed and turned and watched 8 Crazy Nights twice. I hope to be able to sleep in this morning to catch up a little bit, but Pepper, the elf, ate candy and Littlebit couldn’t find her shoes and Luna wanted to be pet and actually bit my elbow twice. I managed to fall back to sleep for about twenty minutes after Littlebit was off to the bus, but I woke up feeling no better.

I was still so overwhelmed and my bedroom was a mess.

I know some parents who really don’t let their kids in their bedroom, but for Big Daddy and me it’s always been a family space. For a while, it held the only other tv in the house, so if Big Daddy was watching hockey on the “big” tv, some collection of girls and I would snuggle up in the big bed to watch in my room. Because we don’t prevent the kids from being in our room and using it, sometimes the mess can get overwhelming and, like a lot of people, our room becomes a catch all for things we don’t have time to deal with or don’t know what to do with. After a brief meltdown, where I listed the ten million things I had to do to Big Daddy, I sucked it up and tackled my room. And, it was funny, as I made progress on the bedroom I felt myself feeling better, too.

IMG_1410

I put away the laundry and the cleaned up the mess that had spilled out/over into the hallway. And then, I asked for help. Why is that so hard? Big Daddy helped me arrange things a little bit so things would be a little less stressful on me.

He also helped me hang the garland and he’s pretty much going to help me every year because it’s much easier to have someone who’s more than a foot taller than you hang things on the top of the windows.

IMG_1411

So, tomorrow we’ll get up and have a warm breakfast and drive a while to cut down a Christmas tree. A seven foot blue spruce, of course, the same we’ve had the past three years. We’ll buy an ugly Christmas sweater for the Princess to wear as she marches in the Christmas parade. We’ll pick up fruit and hope it doesn’t rain too much.

We’ll trim the tree and I’ll get a little bit weepy as we pull the entirety of our lives out of the ornament boxes. I’ll hang the little kitten in a stocking that was my first ornament and the little pink heart and the little booties that were the girls. And it will all be all right.

Dinner we got to celebrate my Grandpa’s birthday this evening and had pizza and cake with family.

Listening to Christmas by Michael Buble

It’s almost the fifth.

I realized I forgot to move Pepper.

And then, I realized I hadn’t hit publish on this post.

And them my browser crashed and I had to start over.

Our calendar is filling up.  Is yours?  We have eight separate events that must take place on Friday and Saturday and don’t include school.  We could have nine, but I pulled rank on one of them and I’m hoping to decrease the number to seven if I can move our reservations to have breakfast with Santa to another weekend (the 20th, originally deemed too late now seems better than this Saturday, but i it cannot be moved, we’ll make it work).

And this weekend isn’t nearly as busy as next weekend is shaping up to be and I’m worried that I’m going to be spending my entire Christmas season rushing and that I’m going to miss it and I don’t want to miss it.

Breathe.

Untitled

As soon as the snow comes, I’ll have my breakfast and drink my coffee in Big Daddy’s seat that you see in that picture. The cardinals will come to the feeder and it will be the most beautiful seat in our home this winter.

1470084_10152467246603849_2125246038_n

In reality, I wanted to write about hanging up my pine garland and how I made Big Daddy and the big girls pull the tote of Christmas lights up from the basement because I had a wild hair that the outside lights needed to go up RIGHT NOW.  It should be a cute story about finding Big Daddy making bad lighting choices and my pathetic attempts to toss the string of lights over our smoke bush (I think it’s probably nearly seven feet tall now).   But, stress over came me and I curled up next to a freshly bathed Baby Bee and watched Peep instead because I couldn’t wrap my mind around anything else.

There has, in the past, come a point during the lead up to Christmas that the whole thing seems impossible.  Hours spent hunched over on the floor wrapping gifts. Never knowing who has the tape or scissors.  It’s nearly through the first week of December and I’m not done decorating yet.  I haven’t finished shopping and in a couple of cases don’t know what I’m going to buy anyhow.

I think sometimes, bloggers only like to show you the pretty things.

DSC_0090

Admittedly, I’m not trying to “build a brand” here, so my motivation to present a certain image is different than that of some others, but even I don’t show you the whole picture. Dirty table? Nope. I crop it out or clean it off before I take pictures even if the rest of the house is in shambles. You’ll never see the super burnt bacon I made for breakfast this morning, or the cookies that weren’t mixed right and crumbled. Part of it, of course, is in the story telling and, frankly, the day to day debris of a life isn’t that interesting.

It’s not.

And, seeing my dirty laundry (literally and figuratively) probably isn’t going to inspire you or make for good reading.

So, as I sat down tonight, stressed, I realized that part of this Daily journal thing is admitting when things go off the rails.  It’s admitting that dinner was late and I tried to rush the rolls and they didn’t rise and were hard and the size of golf balls.  It’s admitting that I’m disappointed that we don’t have time execute my exterior lighting plans and that while it only takes fifteen minutes to get my garlands up in the living room I haven’t done it for reasons I can’t actually give you.

My point, albeit long winded and probably scattered, is that while for the next 27 days, I’m going to be writing entires that are mostly positive and upbeat, something is probably bugging the crap out of me or I’m worried about pulling something off or something working out and whether we’ll have enough fun and if I’ll get it all done or not.  You won’t be alone.

So, if in the dark hours you’re stumbling around downstairs trying to figure out what to do with the darn Elf (whose idea was she anyhow?!), I might just be doing it along with you.  And, the next morning, you should grab your coffee or tea (or cocoa or yerba mate or diet coke or whatever) and find the most beautiful spot in your home this season and sit in it for as long as you can.

Dinner Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Listening to>A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra

Baby Bee needed to sleep in today.  After many years of struggle and taking some good advice from my therapist, we have finally gotten to the point where Baby Bee can put herself to sleep and then sleep peacefully through the night.

Yes, Baby Bee IS five and a half years old. Thank you for remembering.

We’ve discovered, though, that Baby Bee is just exhausted in the evening.  She melts down and gets really frustrated, so we decided to start timing her sleep and then adjusting her bedtime.  Typically, she goes to bed at the same time as Littlebit, anywhere from 8:45 to 9:00, but then it takes her 10-15 minutes to settle into sleep.  Big Daddy and I opted to move her bedtime to 8:30 (meaning she’d be asleep by 9 and then able to get the 10 hours of sleep we think she needs by her 7 am wake up time).  This morning, however, Baby Bee got up, ate oatmeal and fell back to sleep for another hour.  We’ll stick with trying to get her a full ten hours of sleep and seeing how she fares because buying her another hour of sleep will complicate a lot of things.

So, I had a helper.
Untitled

The little girls were excited to find Pepper swinging in the doorway this morning.  The girls have a doorway swing in the playroom and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a gift for an active kid this holiday season.  The price is a little steep and the link I provided seems to have it for the best price, but it’s a great way for kids to burn off lots of energy inside.  I think I reccomend this toy every year, but we’ve had it for several years, it still gets heavy use and it’s still in great shape.  What more can you ask for?
Untitled

I finally got the garland lit.  I love how easy it is to tuck the wires down amongst the balls.  I made this garland last year and I still love it.  It’s a cinch to make and you don’t have to be crafty to pull it off. However, I would recommend waiting until after Christmas to buy your supplies. There are always LOADS of the big containers of shatterproof (aka plastic) ornaments at Walmart for 50-70% off after Christmas, which makes this project super inexpensive. Also, I used cotton yarn because it doesn’t stretch very much and is difficult to break.

Just a little bokeh.
Untitled

Dinner Tuna Noodles Romanoff. When we were fist married, I had a little Betty Crocker easy dinners cook book.  That cookbook is long gone, but we still love tuna noodles romanoff.

WatchingThe Year Without a Santa Claus

It’s dreary, today. My weather alert when off in the early morning hours to tell me about winter weather warning (or something like that) and it’s been gray and damp. The kind of gray where the lamps in the living room barely make a dent.

Untitled

Everyone seems a bit slow today. The girls went back to school today after the long weekend and we all seemed reluctant to give it up. Littlebit, who loves school, was heard to say that she can’t wait for Christmas break. We solved the duldrums with twirling…

Untitled
…and cupcake baking.

I continue to dig away at the decorating and it’s finally starting to draw to a close. Just a few more decorating jobs on my to-do list and I can cross that off for the rest of the month.  The pine garland for the windows waits in the garage, the lights for the garland on the stairs is waiting to be strung.  The nativity scene and ceramic tree have their spaces cleared and on Friday we’ll trudge out in the muck to the Christmas tree lot where I’ll direct big Daddy to find me a 7 foot blue spruce.

Untitled

Tonight, we made and hung our sugar plum fairies.  We first made these several years ago and all they cost is a few sheets of paper and a little time and I have to say, they’re one of the prettiest decorations we put up.  Like paper chains and stings of popcorn and cranberries, I’ve found that our favorite and most beautiful decorations, over the years, are things that are cobbled together with simple materials.

 

Of course, two foot high glittery silver trees are good things, too.

 

 

Untitled

 

Dinner Easy Chicken Pot pie

Watching: Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.

Listening to: A Very She and Him Christmas

Untitled

Do you scrapbook? I used to and then it suddenly felt equal parts too big and too small and I stopped. It’s kind of complicated, but in the end I realized that saddling and creating 18 annual albums for each of my children PLUS one for my family was just beyond what I could do and since I wanted to be fair (and if the Princess had 18, so should LIttlebit and Baby Bee), I just stopped. I don’t miss it. I do miss buying paper, but I have an office supply problem, so there’s that.

Anyhow, when I was scrapbook ing I, of course, followed several professional scrap bookers. Many of them have branched out into different things, but this all comes back to a woman named named Ali Edwards. For several years, Ali has done a December Daily project in which she encourages you to scrapbook each day of the month of December. I love that idea, but I don’t scrapbook anymore.

But, couldn’t I blog it? Writing it out seems a little crazy and probably a bit to ambitious, but it’s worth the try.

The decorations are going up.

IMG_0013.JPG

Christmas is kind of like a wedding. Something old, something new, something inherited, something blue. The kids love seeing their old favorites come back for the season.

IMG_0010.JPG

Yeah, I know, people hate the elf, but Littlebit doesn’t. I give you a three page welcome package…

IMG_0012.JPG

Yeah, Pepper might be a little creepy looking, but Littlebit is enchanted with her, so how can I resist. Pepper doesn’t report back to Santa. She’s just here to have some fun.

Baby Mickey, on the other hand, has been jailed inside a Christmas tree for crimes committed but not yet released.

IMG_0011.JPG

Dinner Oven Fried Chicken,pasta and broccoli

WatchingA Very Merry Pooh Year

For my squishy pillow aka swillow, that I stuff under my head the first thing in the morning.

For the pinky color of the sunset.

For the warmth of Big Daddy’s body and the way his skin feels under my fingers when I curl up next to him.

For the gleeful chirp of Littlebit’s voice as she sings “Good morning, Mama” with her chocolate brown eyes wide and bright.

For Baby Bee’s mussed hair and half closed eyes as she worms her way until the middle. For the feel of her little bird bones under my fingers.

For the way the Princess has to check in, stumbling into our room with her eyes bleary, an act of reassurance and confirmation, things that grow rare as she grows older.

For the cat climbing on top of me and yelling at me until I rub her head.

For the warm duvet.

For the clarity and understanding that I’ve earned over the last 38 years. For being able to be humble and grateful. For realizing that no one does it alone.

For the people in my life; alive and dead, near and far, friend and foe. They’ve taught me and loved me and made me the person I’ve become.

For letting go of some (but not all) of the fear I hold within me. Of having hope that I can let go of more and more as years go by.

For health and love. Things you cannot buy with anything.

For the way Baby Bee climbs up behind me and curls up the nest made by my bent knees.

For Littlebit’s love notes.

For the Princess’s voice as she sings her way through tasks.

For raising my eyes and finding Big Daddy’s eyes already looking at me.

To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go.Victor Hugo

As I’m writing this, our Monday is predicted to complicated by a winter storm. Two to four inches of snow is being predicted with the added bonus of it being in the morning which leaves me wondering if we’re going to have our first snow day of the year in mid-November.

In our backyard, we have an ornamental pear tree. What makes this tree special, is that it holds its leaves and colors the longest meaning it’s bright, cheerful leaves are often visible through a snow storm.

snowytree

It’s a little later in the fall now, and the leaves are fading from red to brown and orange and soon the leaves will be gone and the tree will be studded with cardinals and blue jays and sparrows and chickadees waiting for their dinner.  In the spring, the tree will unfurl itself and bud and blossom.  It’s beautiful in bloom, but I think I like it better as the last hold out in the fall.

 

The Menu Plan

Monday-Crock Pot Turkey Chili and cornbread

Tuesday-Baked Honey Mustard Chicken, crash hot potatoes and veggies

Wednesday-Baked Ziti with Spinach, garlic bread and salad

Thursday-Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Friday- Homemade Pan Pizza 

Saturday-Ranch Cheddar Chicken, Couscous and Veggies

Sunday-Slow cooker short ribs, mashed potatoes, whiskey glazed carrots

So, I don’t really like chocolate that much.

I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s true  I can take chocolate or leave it.  It’s not something I need to have or crave.  I like it.  It’s not like Brussel sprouts or cabbage or anything, but I just don’t care about it very much.  I never did.  Even as a little kid.  But, there was one thing I did like.  White chocolate.  Every year, my Mom made sure the Easter Bunny brought white chocolate for my basket.  Some years, she had to work pretty hard to find it, but it was always there.

And, that’s pretty much still the case.  I prefer white chocolate to milk/dark chocolate.

And, I also like a good cup of cocoa on a cool night.

With the cool weather FINALLY taking us over and a late lunch under our belts, Big Daddy and I came home from the store with popcorn and the ingredients to make white hot chocolate.  Then, we settled in, snuggled up and had an impromptu movie night!

The white hot chocolate got RAVE reviews and one batch made three adult sized servings (or 2 adult servings and 2 kids servings).
Untitled

 

White Hot Chocolate
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 c fat free half and half
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz white chocolate
  • whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Add milk, half and half, vanilla and chocolate to a saucepan. Slowly warm the drink over medium low heat, being sure to stir to keep the chocolate from sticking to the bottom. Do NOT allow to boil! Warm and stir until you’re happy with the temperature and then serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

 

Instead of the cookie, you could holly jolly up this recipe by serving with a candy cane or peppermint stick!