Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

This is the post where we remind ourselves that reality does not always match a Martha Stewart magazine feature (and by we I mean just me) and reducing personal expectations can be quite a relief. This is our year to have the kids for Christmas. It's always wonderful to have them together, and this is the first Christmas that we've celebrated with just our little family. It's been really fun to think about what traditions we want to keep and what we want to change. I'm not sure that what we ended up with looked anything at all like our previous family traditions but I actually think that may be a good thing. It's nice to establish your own thing.

The celebrations began with Oregon/BYU basketball. Jim took the girls and I babysat for the friends sitting just to the right of him so they could have a date night. She and I are both preggers, though about a month apart. It was a win/win since I don't really love stadium stairs or seats right about now. As fate would have it, they were all on television during a time out. One of Jim's young men saw it and took a screen shot, which has by now gone viral in our world of about 5-6 concerned parties.

The primary kids did a nativity pageant during sharing time on Sunday. Since I'm in junior primary for one more week I was able to see Ellie. I've got to say that this was cute, but the highlight of church was when Darion outed his brother and disclosed to the entire room that Joel has a crush on Ellie. Joel is on the far left, and this was not exactly news to either Ellie or me. It was however downright awesome and brought some entertaining giggles from the other kids and adults around.

I didn't have the energy to make gingerbread so the girls and I made graham cracker houses on Christmas Eve instead. They had a great time and accommodated my no-snacking-on-candy-till-we're-all-done request far better than I'd expected. I caved long before they did.

The plan for the day was to get up (still in our Christmas Eve jammies), open Santa gifts, and then have coconut waffles from this recipe we're completely obsessed with. Even Ellie liked them, but we were stealthy and didn't let her know there was coconut involved until after she had eaten them. It worked and she actually liked them. After breakfast we planned to proceed to the rest of the gifts. It was far less torturous than the wait until all adults are up, showered, dressed and have eaten, then search for your hidden stocking patterns I grew up with. I will say Christmas morning lasts far longer the other way though.

Our tree was pretty sad this year. My little Black Friday special prelit tree purchased in years gone by with no space or money is starting to run it's little life to the ground. The bottom strand of lights no longer works at all, and frankly it's not tempting to sit and test each and every bulb just to get it lit again. Nor do I care to go out and buy lights to slap on top. This is perhaps the most obvious difference in my attitude this year. Normally, it would drive me crazy until I did something about it. This year my mind is on so many other things that it's become very low priority to me. I'll worry about it next year when I'm not pregnant or insane. Unless of course I'm still insane. I think next year I may splurge on a tree stand so we can take advantage of the gorgeous and affordable fresh Christmas trees at least once while we live in Oregon.

Aeryn's major Santa gifts included this Monster High high school set up and a Monster High toybox.

Ellie didn't want to take a moment to look at me as she was far too excited... but she got a new scooter and a soft knotted quilt kit as her larger Santa gifts.

These few phone pictures are pretty much the extent of our Christmas documentation this year. Now at 37.5 weeks I'm dealing with a lot of swelling and battling carpel tunnel as a result. It's definitely not my favorite thing, and really affects what I'm able to do. I woke this morning and picked up the camera to realize that I hadn't enough strength or feeling in my hands to hold it, let alone take pictures. It was discouraging, but honestly made it much easier to just be in the moment and forget about separating myself as a photojournalistic observer. I love having nice pictures, but sometimes I also love not worrying about it and being a part of normal life.

We got the kids Lego Rock Band and are using it as pretty much a karaoke deal until we get all the instruments from Jim's parents house. We also have the Beatles version. They love it. There are few things funnier than the kids trying to sing songs they have never heard.

After the insanity of the day was done (nice and early), we just hung around and enjoyed a quite relaxed pace for the rest of the day. I had to laugh when I saw that Ellie wanted to spend almost an hour playing with this wind up Lego car that I've had since I was a kid. Her favorite gifts today included a small Rudolph toy she'd asked for specifically, and a soccer goal and goalie gloves from her dad. It was only 36 here today so she didn't stay outside with either the scooter or the soccer stuff for very long.

Aeryn spent the majority of the day playing with her Monster High high school set up. Jim picked this one out too (for Santa, since he sometimes wants suggestions) so I'd say he is the yearly winner for favorite gift selector. He seriously rocked it.

It was fantastic. There was no stress, I took a nap, Jim went running, and the girls got to eat junk food and run amok most of the day. In a year or so I'm sure I'll care about being Martha again, but for this year low key has been delightful and quite a relief. Now that the 25th is over and we know we won't end up with a Christmas baby, we're a little more anxious for that adventure to start.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Peppermint Patties

Yesterday we got notice from Aeryn's school principal that there would be no school today. Honestly, I just about lost my mind. There was no school Friday and it was great fun, then Saturday nothing had melted and we couldn't go anywhere, on Sunday church was cancelled, and it was still below freezing when we woke today so there was no improvement. I vented on Facebook about being tired of being stuck at home and this morning a friend bailed me out in her husband's truck complete with chains. We took a quick trip to Kohl's, Target, and Sonic and my sanity has started to return. I can't tell you how good it feels just to get out of the house! I'd stayed in all last week because Aeryn and I had planned a girls day out for Friday so I was already burned out on being home by the time the snow hit. I guess this is good practice for having a newborn.

Needless to say, we've all needed to be busy. Jim made some awesome white chocolate coconut macadamia nut fudge (or something like that. I just call it delicious.), I made yet another batch of toffee, and Aeryn and I tried homemade peppermint patties. We got the filling made and frozen yesterday, then dipped them in chocolate today.

I've not dipped many things before, and I don't think Aeryn ever had. She did a great job, even if my OCD and control-freak nature kicked in and I tried to micromanage the process.

We only made a half batch, which is plenty for our family, but it meant I wasn't sure it I'd bought enough dipping chocolate. I did have to supplement with chocolate chips, but it all worked out in the end.

We even managed to keep a reasonably tidy kitchen! It's delightful. Nesting (or rather obsessing) has been kicking in and I am really particular about the house lately. I keep feeling that if I can't keep it the way I want when I'm just pregnant there is no way I'll be content with it once I'm even more sleep deprived and otherwise occupied. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm SO GLAD we did this and that we managed to keep it under control. Aeryn had a lot of fun dipping the patties and she tried so hard to do it just the way I wanted.

Taste test.... any guesses how they were received?

Success. It was a fun process with a tasty outcome. Luckily it's less than 10 degrees below freezing now, sunny, and the icy covering on the streets is finally melting, so we can all return to normal life tomorrow and stop making sweets continually.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snowed In

Oregon doesn't see a lot of snow, at least not where we are. When it does snow, it typically doesn't last very long. In the past two winters we've had maybe two snowy days each year and the snow has been wet and slushy, melting into a bizarre slurry of slushiness that then freezes into nasty sheets of black ice if it's still around at nightfall. This year we ended up with beautiful, dry, sparkly powder. 

Luckily, Squirt already had Friday off of school so it didn't disrupt our life that much. We were planning on doing some Holiday and girly shopping so our plans did alter when we chose to stay off the roads. Since snow is so rare, the city isn't really equipped to deal with it and instead of plowing the streets the residents just hole up for a while. 

Since it's a rare occurrence, kids get extraordinarily excited for it. We saw one of Aeryn's friends outside, bundled her up, and off she went.

This is her friend's mom showing her how to clip into the bindings on her friend's snowboard. Aeryn has never done this before and she was insanely thrilled about it.

They taught her that "it's all in the hips" and had her practice hopping and turning. After a few minutes the neighbor kids all headed across the parking lot to the park and the very little hill there to practice.

Aeryn has always been a late bloomer in the coordination and balance department (not unlike her mother) so I sometimes get nervous when she tries something new. Who am I kidding? That's not why. I'm a worrier and a nervous control freak. That's probably a more accurate reason.

She checked her bindings and then didn't hesitate at all to head downhill.

There wasn't enough of a slope to keep going very far. When she got stuck she did just what they had taught her and geared up for a little hop to change direction.

See? All in the hips.

And.... down but not out. She had a blast.

With below freezing temps all weekend and the beginning of the week, the snow isn't going anywhere for a few days. The sun is out today and it's glorious, but we've already been notified that church is cancelled tomorrow. There are enough families that live on dangerous hills and since the city doesn't really have the capability to plow well it becomes rather treacherous. So that's basically three sequential snow days, something I NEVER experienced living somewhere with regular snowfall. There are some definite perks in the "fun" department when snow is a rarity.