Monday, December 31, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Last winter we never got enough snow to go sledding.  When we saw that Friday's snowstorm had brought us a few more inches of white stuff we decided it was time to head out to our favorite sledding spot.
Finally everyone was old enough to go down the hill on their own sled all by themselves.  A very exciting moment.
I rode with Grace on the first trip down the hill just to make sure that she wasn't afraid.  It is a big hill especially to a 3 year old.
After the first time down the hill Grace told me she wanted to do it on her own. Or, "By. My. Sef!" as is her favorite expression.
Yep.  She liked having her own tube better.  Todd and I took turns sending her down the hill and then running down to the bottom to help her walk back up.  She was such a trooper walking up that big hill.  I was positive that we would have to carry her but it was one more thing that she wanted to do by herself.  She did let me hold her hand once she realized how steep the hill was and how slippery it could be.
It was over two hours of fun.  Even though every single one of the inner tubes developed slow leaks shortly after using them for the first time, and Todd had to quickly run out and buy new tubes (we may just stick with our plastic toboggan and some saucers as the second set ALSO developed leaks.  ACK!) we all had a really good time.  
It was the perfect day for sledding.  The weather was gorgeous.  Little snowflakes flitted down all around us.  We were actually sweating as we climbed back up the hill.  It was a great day.

Back at home we had to start getting ready for a night out.  We had friends coming in from out of town for a pre New Year's Eve party at our favorite restaurant.  All of Todd's close friends live at least an hour and a half away and mine are even farther, so it is not often we get to have a night out with them.  

I was the designated driver for the night and I'm so glad I was.  Our friends stayed the night at our house and when I saw how everyone was feeling the next morning I was pretty happy to have been the "responsible" one the night before. Besides, if you'd ever meet me you would see that I do not need alcohol.  As a matter of fact I even got the "I can't believe you've only been drinking water!" from the new girl in our group.  I can be pretty goofy.  And nerdy.  
After such a late night on Saturday we spent all day Sunday lying low. After church we all had some naps.  Then the kids went outside and played in the snow for a long, long time while I made cookies and did a mountain of laundry.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  I love New Year's Eve.  Probably more now that I have kids than when I was a single girl.  It seems that New Year's is played up so much when you are a young adult that it rarely, if ever, lives up to the hype.  Todd and I used to have a blast skiing and partying at the chalet with our friends when we were younger, and I think we will be able to do that with our kids when they are older.  But for now, I am happy to make new traditions with our kids.  Simple plans, but always fun.

Tonight we are having tons of appetizers, juice in fancy glasses, a roaring fire, and favorite movies.  It is fun and relaxing at the same time.  A great way to say goodbye to this year and ring in a new year.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve and a peaceful, blessed New Year!

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Still Tired

I'm wiped out.  Still.

As it turns out, giving blood was maybe not such a smart idea when I was already worn out and tired.  Also not very smart to give blood and then run around like a crazy woman the rest of the day packing everyone's bags, buying groceries, packing the cooler, and cleaning up the house.  Ah well.  Live and learn.

Our time up north was fun, but exhausting.  Or maybe I was just already too exhausted to begin with.

Because the kids had their cousins at the cabin with them there was even more excitement and madness than usual.  We decided not to go skiing (like I said, I was already exhausted) but there was plenty of outdoor play anyway.  Which means getting into long underwear, turtlenecks, snowpants, boots, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, and extra socks.  Times four.  Then take it all off, throw it in the dryer, take them out of the dryer, and repeat the dressing process again (times four) a few times a day.  Whew.

(I had so much fun watching Ben and Grace go down the tiny hill onto the frozen lake.  Ben would drag the sled up, wait for Grace to get on and then take her down.  When they were done he pulled her back to the cabin.  Such a good brother.)

Yesterday we drove home in a snowstorm.  What usually takes us three hours ended up taking us seven hours.  The storm was not to blame, however.  That was our fault.  We made far too many stops and even drove an HOUR out of our way so that I could exchange a gift Todd got me for Christmas.

I had been telling Todd how I need a new purse but I also explained it wasn't something he could get me for Christmas because it is a very personal purchase. But, the guy is sneaky.  He saw my little advertisement on my sidebar for Coach purses and looked into it.  He got a great deal on a Coach purse online and it was a beautiful bag. However, it was super large and I am not a large purse girl. I am also not a girl that can spend an exorbitant amount of money on a purse. Seriously, I think my most expensive purse is maybe thirty dollars.  I am thrifty, people.  So, even the great deal Todd got on the purse made me feel guilty for spending that much money.

So anyway, on our way home from up north we stopped at the mall in Green Bay where I was supposed to be able to exchange my purse for something smaller (or just return my purse since I had such guilty feelings about the money) but was told that I could not exchange it there.  I had to go to Appleton to the Coach store or to Oshkosh to the Coach outlet store.  I was prepared to return the purse via the mail and just go home, but over lunch at Olive Garden Todd convinced me to just take a look in Oshkosh at the outlet store since those purses would most likely be much less expensive.

I was wary about going an hour out of our way home but Todd was determined. The man wanted me to have a Coach purse.  He kept telling me that I don't have expensive jewelry or shoes and that a purse that will last a long time and costs a bit more it not too much to ask.  He is a good man.

So, in the snowstorm we went.  The kids were not pleased.  Todd told them that they could play Angry Birds on his phone while I looked at purses and that seemed to help.

I walked into the Coach outlet store and WOAH, people.  There was 50% off pretty much everything in the store.  And then the saleswoman handed me a coupon for an additional 30% off and 10% off of that.  HELLO!!!  That brought the prices of the purses down to a very reasonable range.  I couldn't believe it. I was floored. The husband even ran into the store to help me pick them out, told me to get three purses, and then ran back out to the truck to watch the kids.  All the ladies in the store thought he was dreamy. He is.

Anywho, after exchanging my purse for TWO other smaller purses I was able to get money back. HAHA!  Eureka!  I must say it was worth the extra hour (in a snowstorm).  I'm not sure the kids thought so, but they were good sports about it.

I have never been a labels girl, but these purses are gorgeous.  Seriously.  So pretty.
Two bags for less than half of the price of one.  If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Oshkosh you must get thee to the outlet stores.  I always knew they were supposed to have great deals but I never actually shopped there before.  Now that I know the huge deals I think I should steer clear of Oshkosh.

So, that is my very long story (sorry) of "The purse and the good husband".  I still feel strange having a Coach purse (or two).  I feel as though I should go around explaining "I got a HUGE deal on this!" to everyone.  It makes me sweaty just thinking about it.

I think I am finally getting a little bit of strength back today.  And since we got at least a few more inches of snow here I might even take the littles out sledding to our favorite hill.  That will definitely wear me out.  And we have friends coming in tonight for a Pre New Years Eve dinner at our favorite restaurant.  Life is just party, party, party around here.  After today and tonight I think I'll be good and exhausted again.  But sometimes the exhaustion is worth it.  I'll sleep when I'm dead.  ;)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Time To Recoup

On Christmas Eve morning the kids were full of nervous energy.  Would Santa Claus come tonight?  Would they get what they asked for?  Had they been good enough all year?  Was grandma going to have their favorite meatballs, cookies, and candies?  

While Todd and I ran around getting everything ready for his mom's house the kids occupied themselves with a few games.
I call this picture "The calm before the storm".  It is probably the last image I will have of a clean living room for a while.  

Soon after we were off to grandma's house where we had food aplenty, presents, and good family fun.  Then it was a late bedtime and an early rising the next morning to see what was waiting beneath the tree.  From there it was a flash of wrapping paper, batteries, empty toy boxes, squeals of laughter and joy, quickly eaten cereal, rushing to get dressed for church, an hour of somewhat calm and peace during church, and a couple of very quick naps for some littles before we rushed off to another Christmas gathering at grandma's (my mom's) and more food aplenty, presents, and good family fun.

It was another very late night for the kids as we let them stay up until TEN so that they could watch A Christmas Story as they broke in their brand new bean bag chairs and nibbled on the smores snacks (the  one and only thing I asked for) that grandma made us.  It was a lovely way to round out our Christmas.

Normally there is too much chaos on Christmas morning to get a picture but I got one this year.  It was taken right before the presents were opened and you can see the excitement on the kids' faces (and in Molly's tail).

It is safe to say that we are all exhausted.  I really had to drag myself out of bed this morning, and I'm ready to crawl back in now.  But, once again, there is no rest for the weary.

I am getting ready to go give blood (there is a massive shortage this time of year and a special blood drive was arranged at the last minute because of it) and afterwards I will stop off at the grocery store to pick up a few groceries for a trip up north.  Then we will pack up the car and hopefully I can rest a bit on the three hour drive north.  Perhaps I will even relax a smidge once we get to the cabin, but seeing as how we are meeting family up there I have a feeling it will be more party, party, party.  And that's not bad either.  We had planned on going skiing tomorrow, but I just don't know if ANY of us have it in us at this point.  We might just use these couple of days to sit around, eat too much food, and recoup our lost sleep and energy.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are recuperating nicely.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hope you have a wonderful and happy holiday season filled with family, love, fun, and laughter.

Wishing you peace, love, and joy! 
Have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time To Relax

That's it.  We are done.  No more Christmas concerts to attend.  No more presents to wrap.  No more Christmas talent shows to watch.  No more nativity plays to go to.  No more class parties to bake for.  No more kris kringle gifts to buy.  No more school.  No more work.  And I am grateful.

On Wednesday morning I started to get a stiff neck.  As the day progressed my neck got worse and worse.  By the time we got to the kids' Christmas concert that night I could barely move it.  Of course, other mothers at the concert noticed and asked me what was wrong.  I told them I just got a stiff neck out of no where and it was getting worse.  "Stress!" they all said in unison.  "Trust me.  It's stress!" they repeated when I told them I didn't feel stressed.  

But, three days later I still have a very stiff neck.  Well, fine.  Maybe I'm a little stressed.

Today was complete and total craziness.  This morning I dropped the boys off at school at 8:15, handed out all the teachers' presents, handed out the boys' kris kringle gifts, and distributed the food for the class parties. Then I loaded Grace back into the car and took her back home for ten minutes to change into her fancy clothes (she didn't get to wear them yesterday because school was cancelled) and then headed back to school for Tommy's nativity play (he was the narrator) with the rest of his 2nd grade class which started at 8:45.   The play was done and we were back home by 9:15.  At 10:00 we were back at school for the school talent show (Ben and Joey were both in the talent show with their classmates).  We were home by 12:30, fed the kids, and were back in the car by 1:30 to visit Todd's dad at the nursing home.  We sang Christmas carols for the residents (there was a piano player/singer there today) and Gracie danced for everyone in her fancy clothes.  We stayed there for almost two hours.  Next it was on to Todd's mom's house to plow out her driveway while I ran to the store for last minute errands.  

We finally made it home by 5:30.  Exhausted.  Well, I was exhausted.  The kids were, of course, still full of it.  I don't know where they get their energy from.

We are not making any plans for the next few days.  We are just hanging around.  Relaxing.  Maybe making some more treats just because we can.  We used part of our "snow" day yesterday making our first ever batch of peppermint bark.  Thank you Elaine for the idea and the great recipe.  It is a hit!  Tomorrow I think we'll move on to ginger snaps.  Or maybe fudge.  

Either way, I may not be hanging around bloggyland very much.  Instead I'll be greatly reducing my stress with baths, reading, maybe a couple of runs, and gorging myself on all kinds of yummy treats.   I can't wait.  I think I'll start right now.

Hope you are all finding ways to relieve the stress of the season.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rain Days

Rainy days and Mondays Snow Days always get me down.

I remember a time when it took something colossal to cancel school for an entire day.

This morning school was cancelled on account of a snow storm.  The problem is that we don't have a snow storm.  It is raining.  And there is not any snow predicted until later this evening, if at all.  I'm mystified.  This is Wisconsin, people!  We can handle the possibility of snow!

Normally I would love to have a free day from school to hang out with my kids, but snow days are much less fun when there is no snow.  Not only that but the kids had exciting stuff going on at school today.

Ben's class was getting a special treat for behaving so well and were celebrating with a pajama day and popcorn.  Tommy's class was doing their gift exchange and Christmas party.  And Grace, along with her classmates, was going to give her very first Christmas performance for the parents and then we were making gingerbread houses together.  She has been walking around the house singing, "Jingle bells all the way, HEY!  Jingle bells all the way, HEY!" for the last few weeks.  And she even had a fancy dress picked out.  Such a bummer.

The boys have a half day tomorrow but it is already jam packed with a nativity play (that Tommy is the narrator for), more Christmas parties, a talent show (that both Joey and Ben are in with their classmates), and a special luncheon with all the families.  I hope that school isn't cancelled again tomorrow when we actually might have a bit of snow.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We Almost Forgot

A blizzard is expected to hit our area tonight and tomorrow.  Up to 12 inches, they say.  We'll see.  Something tells me that it will be significantly less than that. Seems the news stations are always trying to whip us into a frenzy about something.  SNOW in Wisconsin in winter???  Oh no!  Who could have guessed?

I jest.

Though I do not put too much stock in the meteorologists' predictions I still take precautions, of course. Yesterday I ran around finishing up all the Christmassy loose ends, just in case.  I wrapped every, single, last present (even FORTY small gag gifts that will be used for our annual Christmas dice game) and hid them, bought and wrapped all the teachers' gifts, bought and wrapped the kids' kris kringle gifts, made and bought treats for each kids' class Christmas parties, and even ran out and got some special "must have" treats for blizzards (aka- hot chocolate).  
Right about the time I was ready to settle down to finish my book (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo- finally) with a cup of coffee I remembered that the kids HAD NOT SEEN SANTA YET this year.  Good grief!

I quickly ran down the list of nights we had available.  Wednesday, school Christmas concert at church. Thursday, possible blizzard.  Friday, possible trip up north for a last minute ski trip before Christmas which also means that we would be gone on Saturday and Sunday as well.  And that would bring us to Christmas Eve!  Yikes!

No time like the present, I guess.  

After school the kids diligently finished their homework as I finished up wrapping some of the gifts (had to let the kids see what they got their kris kringles).  We waited for Todd to get home from work and then off we went to see the Big Guy. The kids were ecstatic!

Todd and I were pretty ecstatic too when we arrived at our destination and saw that the line was not all the way out the door.  The kids even had time to stop and chat with Bruce the Spruce and listen to his knock-knock jokes.  In case you can't tell (the kids are standing in the way a bit), that is a big, white tree with eyes and a mouth that talks to each kid that goes through.  A big hit around here.  I remember being mesmerized by it as a kid too.
Further on down the line in Santaland we saw the toy soldiers.  Joey, being on a big military kick right now, insisted that they have their picture taken by the soldiers.
Time for a silly shot too.  And yes, the lighting in this section is blue, in case you were wondering.
Don't worry kids!  You are halfway there!  Only 5 more hours to wait.  Okay, it wasn't five hours, but it seriously was the slowest moving (or, not moving) line I think I've ever seen.  Luckily, there was plenty of magical awesomeness to look at.
At long last we made it to the Big Guy.  The kids were very patient the whole time.  Much better than some adults that were in line.

Gracie had been psyching herself up for weeks for this very moment.  She was terrified last year and had been telling me over and over again that she wasn't going to be scared this time because "Santa loves me, and brings me toys, and is so, so nice."  I was skeptical, but look!
Yes, Santa, they've been good.  

Whew!  With that taken care of I can sit back, relax, and enjoy the snow.  Well, after the Christmas concert tonight.  And maybe after the kids' class parties.  Hate to have them miss out on that.  And, ya know, I already wrapped the gifts and bought the food and everything.  And maybe after we get up north so the drive isn't too bad.  And...


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I wonder what post traumatic stress feels like.  Or survivors guilt.

I am not even remotely close to the tragedy in Connecticut, I don't know anyone who had a child at the school or worked there.  I don't even know anyone who lives in the area.  But I am affected.

I am on edge.  I am snapping and grouching at the slightest offenses.  I have this anger.  I'm just angry.

And when I'm not angry I'm sad.  I cry at the drop of a hat.

All day long I've been running around buying kris kringle gifts, treats for parties, gag gifts for our traditional Christmas dice game, and extra wrapping paper.  I spent hours upon hours wrapping gifts, begrudging every minute of it.  My heart just wasn't in it.  

It is a guilty feeling that sits in the pit of my stomach.  Here I am going on with my daily life while others are suffering the greatest loss of their lives.  It is so unfair.  Planning parties, and Christmas concerts, and plays, while others are fighting to remind themselves to breath in and out.

This tragedy brings all the world's suffering into such focus.  There are people suffering every day, even those who were not involved in the massacre in Connecticut.  Suffering is everywhere.

Tonight we took the kids to see Santa.  Further down the very long line I caught a glimpse of my friend's husband with his three children.  A lump immediately formed in my throat as I was just thinking about him and how he was doing this first Christmas without her.  Last year she was the one who dressed them all in their fanciest clothes, fixed their daughter's hair perfectly, and together as a family of 5 they went off to get their annual picture with Santa.  This year, in their regular clothes, they stood as a family of four.

It is not fair that my life is going on, business as usual, as others are struggling to make it from day to day.  And then I have the gall to be grumpy too yet.

I wasn't even going to write about it.  I'm trying not to even think about it.  But there it is.  It sits in the back of my mind constantly.  It has left a mark.

We have all been affected.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Searching for Answers

I want to go back in time.

I want to go back to a time before cell phones and computers and television and video games.
I want to go back to a simpler time.
I want my kids to grow up with snowball fights, and board games, ice fishing and ice skating on a lake, hot cocoa, and tag.
I want them to build forts and snowmen and dreams.
I want them to feel free and safe and secure and strong, no matter where they are.

I don't understand the world we are living in.  Our society has taken so many wrong turns.

I want to go back.  I want to go back to a simpler time.  Call a "do-over".  Focus on God.  Focus on family.  Focus on loving.  Get it right.

**All my thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those involved, and connected to those involved, in the tragedy in CT.  If there was a simple solution, like tougher gun control laws, I would be all for it.  Unfortunately, I don't think that is the solution.  Crazy people will find a way to do what they want to do.  They are not concerned with laws.  You can not reason with crazy.  You can not argue logic and laws with evil.  What we can do is pray.  Put God back into this country.  This has become a godless society and it has gotten us nowhere.  Bibles have been banned from schools but are offered free to inmates in prison.  We are working backwards.  

There has always been evil in this world.  There always will be.  This is not a perfect place.  And the only thing you can fight evil with is GOD.  We need to go back to a time when GOD was the front and center of all of our lives.

I don't care if you worship Buddha, Allah, or Jesus Christ.  Find a higher reason for being on this earth, your God, and live by His rules of LOVE and teach your children to do the same.**

Friday, December 14, 2012

That's The Spirit

Yesterday morning I walked the kids into school so that I could also drop off the toys we were donating to the Toys for Tots drive.  Hands full of backpacks and toys and lunches the kids dragged me over to look at all the school's decorations. I tried to fake my enthusiasm. After the last few crazy days my Christmas spirit was seriously waning.

"Mom!  The tree still has a few stars on it!  Can we go get one?"  Ben asked pointing to the giving tree.

This year, as every year, the school adopted a few families from our area that are especially in need this time of year.  Each star on the tree represents a gift for each member of those families.  Sometimes it is an item the family member needs (grocery store gift cards) and other items are fun presents.  The star features the gender and age of the family member and what they are wishing for.  It is humbling to see little kids asking for hats and gloves, or leggings.  Puts a lump in my throat how much we take for granted.

"Let's see what is left on the tree." I answered.

The kids and I marched up the steps and looked at the almost bare tree. With only a day or two left to donate there were less than half a dozen stars on the tree. We glanced at the stars together. An 8 year old boy asked for a bible. Love that.  I took that star off the tree.

"Mom!  This one is for the mom and no one has taken it. Everyone is getting stuff for the kids, but what if this mom doesn't get anything?  Can we PLEASE get it? Please?  What if she doesn't get anything???"  Joey said, thick with emotion.

I looked at the star.  The mother (of 5) was asking for a bedding set (colors of gray, white, and yellow). Oh dear.  Must have been one of the more expensive things on the tree.  I imagined the mom hesitating to even ask for it, but was probably prodded to write it down anyway by the volunteers taking the requests.

"Oh boy.  That is a big item, Joey.  And those colors are going to be pretty hard to find in the one day we have left to shop for it."  I told him gently.

"PLEASE, mom.  Moms work so hard and they don't ask for stuff much.  What if she doesn't get anything for Christmas?" he begged as my other three children began to join in the pleading.

"Well, I'll go to the store and see what I can find, okay?  Let's leave the star on the tree for now."  I answered trying to usher him into his classroom without giving him a definite answer.

Joey nodded and I quickly got the littles to their respective classrooms, dropped off the toys in the Toys  for Tots bin, handed in the our coins collected for the folks at the retirement home (they are always running short on coins for their card games), and jumped back in my car.

My first stop was Walmart.  I scanned the aisles for a nice bedding set in gray, white, and yellow.  None to be found.  Nothing even close.

"Oh well. I tried." I told myself. I'm off the hook.

But on my way home I couldn't get Joey's pleas out of my mind.  What if the mom didn't get anything?  This woman has five children.  A nice bedding set is not too much to ask.  It nagged me and nagged me.

When I got home I jumped on the computer.  I scoured the websites for gray, white, and yellow bedding sets.  I was so paranoid picking out such a personal item and I poured over each item.  Too masculine?  Too feminine?  Too dark?  Too wild?  Too busy?  

In the end it didn't matter if I liked them or not.  None of the sets would get here in time.  Right when I was about to give up I saw something on the Target website.  I immediately called Target to see if they had it in stock.  After being disconnected 4 times, and calling back 4 times, I finally discovered that they had it.  I put it on hold so it wouldn't be sold before I could get there.

After the kids got home from school, and the homework was all done, I packed them up in the car and off to Target we went.

Unfortunately, when we finally got all the way over there I discovered that the "blanket" I had set aside was so thin it was almost like a sheet.  It just wouldn't do. I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

I dragged the kids back to the bedding department with me and we searched and searched for an acceptable replacement.  Way in the back corner of the department was a gray, white, and yellow comforter.  It was perfect.  Not too feminine, not too masculine, not too wild, not too dark. It wasn't a bedding set (just a comforter and shams), but I found a matching bedskirt and gray sheets that went perfectly together.

"It's so soft, mom!  And just the colors she asked for!" a thrilled Tommy said as he hugged me.

The kids and I happily made our way to the cashier.

The whole ride home the kids chatted about how they hoped the mom would like her gift.  They talked about how Christmas is a time of giving and helping others as Jesus would want us to do.  They reminded each other of the real meaning of Christmas and how the more you give the more you receive.  They felt great.

After hearing "I want" from my kids more often than I would have liked these last few weeks, it sure was good to hear that they still get it.  The focus of Christmas is in the right spot.  They get what we have been trying to tell them all along.

They are kids, and they get caught up in the fun aspect of Christmas just like everyone else, but in the end they really know what it is all about.

Christmas spirit restored!

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


See what happens? See what happens when I am ambitious and prepared and ahead of the game?  Backfire!

Each and every year I try and jam all of my Christmas shopping into the last few days before Christmas.  I drive myself crazy running around trying to figure out what to get my nutty children.   I don't want to get too much.  I don't want to get too little.  We don't go for big ticket items.  We don't do too many "trendy" toys.  I try and find the perfect balance between getting them some of the things that they have asked for and also the toys I know they will play with and enjoy.  I always want to find gifts that are just right and apparently I like to wait until the very last moment so I can put my anxiety levels at maximum capacity.

Not this year!  This year I am on the ball.  With the help of online shopping, and huge deals at local stores, I completed all of my Christmas shopping within the first few days of December.  Hallelujah!  Rejoice!  I am awesome.  This year I will not be running from store to store like a maniac three days before Christmas.  Yay, me!

I managed to find the very items that my kids have been begging me for these last few months.  Angry Birds, Pokemon, Ninjago, books, and Barbies, all at discount prices.  Plus I found deals on needed items (like clothes) and stuff they didn't ask for but will love (like bean bag chairs and remote control toys).  I was so pleased with myself.

Until last night.

As I was rushing to finish addressing my Christmas cards before dinner Joey came into the library and began talking about Christmas.

"Mom, I love Scraggy and Pidove from Pokemon.  I really want one for Christmas." Joey informed me.

"What?  You told me that you don't even like Pokemon.  You like Ninjago."  I gently reminded him.

"Not any more.  I can't stand Ninjago.  It's dumb." said the boys who begged for months and months and months for anything and everything Ninjago.  Ninjago books, Ninjago LEGOS, Ninjago tv shows.

"WHAT?  You've been telling me for months that the one and ONLY thing you want for Christmas is Ninjago!"  I practically screamed.

"I like Pokemon now." Joey told me again, this time in a whisper.

"Well, ya know what Joey?  I suspect that you'll get what you get and you won't mind a bit.  RIGHT?" I prodded.

"Uh.  I guess." the very wise child said.


Good thing I take my kids' requests with a grain of salt and only purchased one or two smaller Ninjago items (which he will still receive and be THANKFUL for- dammit).  THIS is why every year I only go along with a couple of the wish list items and then Santa brings them stuff that they never knew they always wanted.  It all works out in the end.  I hope.

Besides, there is still time for him to change his mind a few (hundred) more times.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pains of Christmas

Last night after the kids had finally gone to bed (and after numerous escapes and calls from their rooms), I am finally able to relax after another long day.  The fire is burning beautifully in the fireplace and I just sit down in my cozy chair when I hear a "POP" from the front hallway.  I turn my head and see that every single light on the extra large Christmas tree has gone out all at once.

"NOOOOooooooo!!!!"  I silently scream.

I slowly pull myself out of my chair and walk to the front hallway.  I unplug the tree and plug it back in.   It doesn't work.  I do this about 20 more times.  I am confused.

I walk downstairs to the basement, ignore Todd who is asking me what is going on, and head over to the breaker box.  I check the fuses.  Everything seems to be fine.  I flip a few switches back and forth for good measure.  I walk back upstairs to the still dark hallway.  Todd follows me.  No lights.

Todd proceeds back downstairs to the breaker box and continues to flip switches back and forth willy nilly.  I return to my chair, still not speaking, and zone out for the rest of the night.

I go to bed early.  No more thinking.

Today I woke up resigned to have a dark tree grace our hallway for the remainder of this Christmas season.  Like I'm gonna take off all the ornaments on the tree so that I can take off all the old lights and restring new ones and THEN put the ornaments back on.  Not gonna happen.

Todd tells me he will work on the lights this afternoon.  I ignore him.  I don't want to talk about it.

Because I am a tad obsessive I think about it all morning.  After the kids are at school and Grace is happily munching her cereal I walk over to the tree.  I plug it in and unplug it a dozen more times.  Still nothing.

I decide to check the fuse in the plug itself.  When I open the tiny little box I see that it is all askew, bent, and it looks crusty.  I pluck the little fuses out, attempt to straighten out the little metal clips and wires that hold the fuses in place, and then replace the old fuses with new ones.  It all sounds fairly easy but it took me an exorbitant amount of time because the stinking thing is so, so small.  After what feels like a million hours, probably more like 45 minutes, I close up the miniscule fuse box and say a prayer.

I hold my breath and plug the tree in.

Glory Be!  It worked!  I did it!  I fixed our tree!  Hallelujah!  

Joy, and Peace, and Christmas Cheer are restored!

I think I've had all the lights, Christmas tree,  and decorations drama that I need for one season.  I'm hoping we are done now.  Though the pains of the season do seem to come around each and every year I still love this crazy time of year.  It reminds me of one of my favorite holiday songs, and I share it with you now.

What pains are you suffering through this jolly Christmas season?

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Thursday, December 6, 2012

That Was Fun

Yesterday was an exceedingly busy day.  There was the typical madness of getting the kids ready for school, then the kids' morning mass at church, a long overdue cleaning of a massive fish tank, a haircut appointment for me, a little girl with a big cold, an early release day from school for the kids, little St. Nick presents to prep in secret, a boy scout meeting for Joey, homework, and Tommy's 1st Reconciliation. Somewhere in between all that we managed to eat once or twice.  

Throughout all of the craziness the kids jabbered on and on, reminding me again and again, that St. Nick was coming and that we had to get our stockings out.  I finally let the kids get their stockings out just before we left for church for Tommy's first confession.  As we all piled in the truck I remembered that I hadn't let the dog out and hurried back inside (wink, wink).  A few minutes later we were on our way to church.

On the way to church we saw a small SUV up on a curb repeatedly backing up and then smashing into a sign.  Not sure if the person needed medical attention or if the driver was drunk we pulled over and Todd jumped out of the car to go help while I called 911.  Todd was able to calm the inebriated driver and we waited until the cops came.  Then back in the truck we went and hurried to make it to church in time.  Like I said, it was a busy day.

We made it to church just in time. Tommy was very nervous and I was honored when he wanted to practice with me, trusting me with his deepest darkest sins (like fighting with his brothers and disobeying his parents- I had no idea!).  Soon he was coming out of the confessional, all smiles and clean soul.  

"How do you feel, Tommy?"  I asked.

"I feel light as a feather.  And clean as a shiny new dish!"  he answered.  I guess that's good because big brother Joey had just said the same thing after his confession.  Yay! Clean souls (and dishes) all around.  Doesn't get better than that!

But wait!  It does get better!  There's more!

Before we headed for home we decided to stop at the kids' favorite treat, the dancing house.  A house near ours that is completely covered in lights from the tip of the roof to the very front of the yard, and it blinks and "dances" in time to music.  Oh the joy!  

After 15 minutes or so, and before our hearts could explode with excitement, we finally headed home for the night, eager to relax.

But no relaxation was had, because, what was this?  St. Nick had come while we were at church!  Haha!  Eureka!  What a wonderful surprise!  That St. Nick is a sneaky little guy.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of Joey's face (who is wise to the whole St. Nick/Santa/Easter Bunny thing) when he saw the stockings waiting for us when we got home.  I think he was seriously contemplating reviving his belief in the magic of Christmas.  It was priceless.

After much dancing, and screaming, and playing, and eating of candy, I actually got the kids to settle down for a millisecond so I could capture one quick picture (okay it was more like 10 pictures but that was only because Grace kept having coughing fits, poor dear).

It was definitely a tiring, busy day but also a blast.  It was one more reminder to myself that if I can just relax and go with the flow life can be loads of fun.

Monday, December 3, 2012

All Out

I did it.  I made it through a whole weekend of setting up outdoor and indoor decorations, Christmas trees, and the nativity scene, and I did it all while maintaining my patience and sense of Christmas fun.  Whew!  

It wasn't easy.  Todd and I went out on Saturday night and stayed out later than we had in years, had more cocktails than we should have, and were running on entirely too little sleep for the amount of energy we were required to have.  

The law of Christmas decorating didn't help us either.  Things went wrong at every turn.  We were missing hooks and stakes, and lights were out all over the place for our outdoor decorations.  When we were carrying our huge Christmas tree up from downstairs we accidentally smashed it into the wall and broke the top section (which we masterfully temporarily fixed with zip strips).  A whole bottom row of lights was out on our smaller tree but I rearranged some branches and you can hardly tell.  The kids were wild and crazy and excited and I just let them have at it.  I even managed to laugh it off when they repeatedly broke some of my glass ornaments (5 in all, which is saying something considering most of our ornaments are not breakable).  Five less ornaments to hang, I figured.  For some crazy reason, nothing bothered me.  
I started out handing the kids ornaments one by one but I wasn't fast enough and decided to just let them hang whatever they wanted wherever they wanted.  I only reminded them thrice not to hang ornaments directly on top of each other, and then begged them not to be offended if I had to rearrange one or two ornaments here and there.  They actually did a pretty good job, and I only snuck around briefly to rehang the smooshed sections and get some ornaments on the tops and backs of the trees.  They weren't offended.
I was so impressed with my carefree attitude, and clearly so were the kids.  They told me over and over again what a fun mom I was and how much they loved me. They were not saying that last year so it was a vast improvement.  Yay me!

However, I think I used up all of my patience on this past weekend because today I have none left.  Every little thing is bugging me.  Even stupid little things that normally I wouldn't even notice are annoying me today.

The stamps I bought for my Christmas cards are so heinous.  They have a nice picture of a mailbox with packages inside it, but then next to that it has a big mailing code.  What the heck?  Is this what stamps  look like now or is it just because I got them out of the machine at the post office instead of waiting in line for 2 hours?  Either way, it makes me mad.

I was at the grocery store today (enough to make me cranky on its own) and when I got to the check out I discovered that my package of cheese curds was already open.  When I showed the cashier and asked for a different one she gave me a real evil look like she thought I was the one who opened the bag and had been secretly sneaking around the store eating them or something.  She got real huffy and called a bagger over to fetch me a new bag and refused to talk to me the rest of time she checked me out.

Then as I left the store I saw a sign on someone's truck that said, "Be nice to me.  I may be pregnant."  What the hell?  I seriously can not think of any situation where that sign should be anywhere.  Signs like that make me want to NOT be nice to you, as a matter of fact.  Perhaps it was meant to be funny, but it failed. It is like those "Baby on Board" signs from years ago.  Yeah, I was meaning to hit you with my car, but now that I see you have a baby on board I won't. HUH?

People are crazy, and today I have no patience left.

Perhaps when the kids lie down for a nap today I can lie down too and try to catch up on all the sleep I missed out on this weekend.  And maybe when I wake up I will be filled with a new stash of Christmastime patience.

Or maybe I'll be too busy grabbing something to eat, cleaning up the lunchtime mess, putting the rest of the groceries away, and taking a shower that by the time I have a spare moment the kids will be home from school and we'll be busy with homework and making dinner.

Oh, Calgon, take me away!

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson