Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Recap

December 19, 2009

Start Christmas shopping. You heard me. Start. We even got a non-relative baby sitter for the occasion. Poor Megan. The first thing Morgan asked her to do, even before we left, was put in Jaws 2.

Target and the mall. Target was fine and major milestone. The mall was annoying to say the least. We went into Gap and had to walk straight back out because it looked like a hurricane had hit. H&M was organized, but practically bare. I'm giving huge kudos to Crazy 8, because it was neat, well-stocked, and plenty of choices.

Three hours later and we are eating dinner at Moosehead (without kids!) and I'm realizing, we still don't have a single person finished.

December 20, 2009

Cousin's Christmas at Aunt Charlie's. This is the second year we adults did a White Elephant gift exchange. Actually, let me back up my story. Earlier in the week, I am informed that my grandma is again getting ready for her death bed and sent home a Dancing Santa with my parents that I had given her many years ago with her instructions to return it to me.

"No thanks. That's all you."

Dad asked me if I wanted to use it in the White Elephant, but I had already wrapped my two gifts, so I told him he was welcome to use it.

Back to the exchange. I got first pick. I go for the package with the cool decoration on the outside.

"No, not that one."

Too late. I opened up my own damn Dancing Santa. Oh yeah, that one is coming back to someone next year.

Things I love about Cousin's Christmas at Aunt Charlie's:

1. Life-size nativity is alive and well.
2. Blaming the baby for suspicious smells.
3. No child proof cups.
4. Jake and Katie attempting Christmas carols with the kids.
5. Uncle Mike still complaining about the gift he got last year (which had been my contribution).

December 21, 2009

I start wrapping gifts while watching Holiday Inn. The first of many loaves of bread. Scott gets to bed around 1 AM.

December 22, 2009

Scott puts together the last freezer meal for the Great Grandma's gifts. Finally, someone I can scratch off my list.

Manage, with Morgan's help, to get the sugar cookies decorated. Not pretty, but very yummy.

Scott bakes more bread. At this point, there is no clock, because we have no more time to sleep.

December 23, 2009

Christmas shopping at Crocker Park. Finally starting to get somewhere. Leave my purse on the counter of Eddie Bauer and don't notice until I get into Banana Republic. I'm actually impressed that is the only back tracking I had to do.

Invite the Turtles over with Uncle Matt to have carry-out.

Watch Jaws 2. Again.

Wrap more presents.

December 24, 2009

Scott and Matt take Morgan to the West Side Market to get fresh ingredients for Christmas Day dinner. But don't forget the fish balls and anchovies for Gramy. Nothing says Christmas like a good fish ball.

I tackle Toys R Us at 8 AM, which was surprisingly pleasant, other than there was a shopper running around yelling at all the employees, demanding they pay attention to her. Yes, I waited until the last minute, too. Notice I am not acting like a lunatic.

This concludes my Christmas shopping until I realize I had meant to buy the girls bean bag chairs. That means another trip to Target with the girls. But I managed to get a stock boy to carry them to the front for me and bring them out to my car. I almost got away with it, but since the Toys R Us packages were in the trunk, only one of the chairs would fit, so the other had to go into the passenger seat.

Luckily, Morgan just thought it was another bag of stuff. A pretty purple bag with flowers on it, but I guess she's never seen a bean bag chair before.

Here is where it gets hairy. We get home from Target with exactly an hour and a half to get ready. I have to wrap a couple presents that are going with us. And give the girls a bath. And get them dressed. And have my own shower and get dressed. And pack the "diaper bag". And I was trying to make sure the house was semi-picked up before we left. Yeah, that last one didn't happen.

Managed to do all of the above in 2 hours before heading to my Mom and Dad's. Get there a little before 3 to open presents with my immediate family, plus new additions. 4 o'clock. Hmmm...still missing an entire branch of the family tree. I won't say who, but just know that I could have been cleaning my kitchen up or wrapping more presents from "Santa" in the amount of time we spent waiting for you.

Zoe opens the first of SIX babies she will receive. Hopefully, not setting her up to become the Octo-mom in the future.

Have to ask others to deliver our present to Granny and Ray, while we make our way to the Turtles.

After Morgan helps Uncle Gary get his oxygen tank set up things fall into place and I'm able to breath again.

Until we take the girls home, set up cookie and carrot plate, put girls to bed, wrap more presents, and set presents out. Which was able to be accomplished during one and a half viewings of A Christmas Story.

December 25, 2009

Santa has arrived at Lake Road. And Wolf Road. Get home a little after noon and the girls take naps while we prepare to have everyone over at 4:30. For the record, that was not an appropriate amount of time. I'm thankful Scott is the chef and all I had to worry about was cleaning and organizing the presents so they fit nicely under the tree.

Of course the vacuum decides to break, just as I am getting to the Potter hair fiasco, but Scott manages to fix it before running to the store for ice.

Things we did after company arrived:

1. Finished sweeping.
2. Set the table.
3. Scott changed his clothes.
4. Cleaned the downstairs toilet and sink.
5. Prepared the salad.
6. Cleaned the kitchen. (Seriously, every cooking ingredient and utensil)
7. Watched Jaws: The Revenge, which Morgan had received from Santa.


"I don't know what to tell you, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery." Ellen Griswald.
"Woopee! A Zeppelin!" Randy (Ralphie's brother).
"I think we're gonna need a bigger boat!" Chief Brody.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Days To Christmas

This past weekend I organized the "Hats, Gloves, and Scarves" bin. I have one of those. It's the bin with all the random items of winter apparel that aren't our first choices, but have to be turned to when the others have gotten waterlogged or have been mischievously hidden by garden gnomes.

In my parents house, this bin has been around for centuries...okay, decades. And anyone that visited their "cousins/friends in the country" can vouch for its existence.

Because one snow mobile ride gone bad, one hour of ice skating on the creek, or 15 minutes of pelting Little John with ice balls, and your own gloves/mittens are done. That's it. You are doomed to the bin. And the bin is bad. It is bad in a two-pronged fashion.

Prong one. We didn't want those gloves anymore. That's why they are in the bin. They most likely have a hole somewhere in them and they most definitely are ugly as sin. And god forbid you get stuck with mittens.

Prong two. You will never find a matched set. Go ahead. Search for hours. The only way you will be successful is if you happen upon an old set of my mothers. White knit gloves with blue and pink flowers crocheted into them at a length up to your elbow. And none of us want that. Except, now that I think about it, those gloves would look really cool with my long camel coat. Other than the fact that they have holes in them.

Hats are another story. You will definitely have to wear one that either has a HUGE pom pon on the top of it or covers your entire face like you are planning a jewel heist. In the past, hats were a non-issue, because as soon as you sat on the sled, the dog would steal it from your head anyway.

Scarves, you have the option of long-enough-to-swaddle-yourself or so-loosely-knit-you-may-as-well-not-wear-one. Either way, you can guarantee to get a mouth full of dog hair in your first breath.

Outside the bin there is the coat rack. The coat rack covers the gamut from Dad's old letterman jacket to snow pants Mom wore to Peak and Peak in the 70's.

On the ground is another cardboard box of wool socks, which if you're desperate you can wear as mittens, but you will run into the same problems as previously mentioned.

Yes, we often looked like your corner homeless person. But when you're flying over drifts at 40 miles per hour...steering a sled so it hits the ramp you just built...or sweeping the snow off the ice to have a game of really couldn't matter less.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

17 Days To Christmas (I Think, Lost Count)

Have to take a little break from memory lane. Nothing says a special occasion like water pouring out your kitchen light fixtures.

The first time this happened was the day of my cousin's wedding. We actually had already moved to our new house and were in the process of selling the old one. I believe we had an Open House scheduled for the next day, which is a good thing, or Scott might not have gone over there until the next weekend.

Today's story starts a couple weekends back when I notice the bathroom floor has become a moat for discarded socks, one of Zoe's 10 toothbrushes, and the endless supply of dog hair.

A closer inspection found that if you didn't turn the shower faucet just so, it would drip water down to the rim of the tub, and unfortunately flow out instead of in. Four Home Depot trips later and problem solved.

This brings us to today:

5AM-ish or some other god-awful time well before the butt-crack of dawn - Alarm goes off for Scott to head to the gym for his swim and he hits the snooze.

Sidebar: The number of times the snooze is hit is proportionate to the amount of time I add to my own internal wake up call. For instance, if I tell myself I will get out of bed at 6AM (which is just foolishness, really), each time Scott hits the snooze, I add on at minimum 15 minutes. Considering he tends to hit the snooze at least twice, I typically get an extra half hour of sleep more than I intended. That is, if the devil's spawn doesn't force me up first.

5:45AM-ish - Scott gets out of bed.

6AM - Scott is on the phone leaving a message for his office that pipes have burst in our kitchen and he is not going in.
Sidebar 2: I thought it was kind of him to call his office before coming up to tell me the bad news. Unfortunately, I'm a light sleeper in the morning, so I was up and down the stairs before he finished his message.

Water is, in fact, dripping from the kitchen ceiling and light fixtures at not quite an alarming rate, but enough to be pretty certain the day is going to suck.

On the positive side, I had to move all those things off our counter anyway to clean behind them prior to Christmas. This actually forced me to do it. And to realize how much bigger the kitchen looks when I don't have crap laying all over the place.

7:10AM - Scott's first trip to Home Depot for a plumbing manual. I put Dad on speed dial. Considering there is electricity involved, I decide to work from home in case 911 (and a plumber) need to be called.

8AM - It is determined that our faucet leak was not fixed so much as diverted to a more secretive location.

8:30AM - Second trip to Home Depot for part and ceiling paint. As we are walking out from the self-checkout. Random female cashier yells. "Hey, dude, welcome back."


Fortunately, the rest of the repairs are not blog worthy. Part was replaced, leak was stopped, ceiling and electrical was dried. And all without having to do any demolition or call my dad for advice. We must be getting better at this stuff.

And by we, I am by no means implying I do anything other than tell Scott what I would do if I were him.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

20 Days To Christmas

I should have know life would get in the way of having a consecutive countdown. Oh well.

For me, Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's was the highlight of the holiday. No matter what Santa brought us the next day.

After a candlelight service we made our way, often through treacherous snow and ice, to the toasty warm goodness of the BB (AKA Grandma's basement).

Did I say toasty warm...make that the outskirts of hell's dominion. The wood burning stove would be cranking so hot by the time we got there, you would have thought we were on an undiscovered island smack in the middle of the equator. Uncle John would be down to his undershirt in minutes.

Grandpa would always try to put fear into us grand kids by letting us know Santa wasn't coming because he shot the fat man's reindeer the week before, or maybe even Santa himself. But we never believed he could do a thing like that. (Plus, he made the same threat about the Easter Bunny, so it was very suspect.)

As we got older, we could hear the tell-tale porch door open and knew Uncle David had just snuck out the front in a hopelessly worn costume with pillows shoved in wherever possible. But when were in the throws of oblivion, we impatiently waited for one of the aunts or uncles to say, "Do you hear that? I think I hear sleigh bells," or something equally cheesy.

We'd run to the windows and wait until his face appeared, waving and carrying his sack of toys (unwrapped, of course) before we started acting like even bigger idiots than we had been.

In later years, when we knew it was only Uncle David dressed as Santa, not the real Santa, we would take turns making sure that everyone could see the pillow poking out from the back of his pants. This would be caught on the behemoth VHS video camera and played back later that evening, in case it wasn't funny enough the first time around.

The funny things is, there really weren't that many presents opened on Christmas Eve. One from each Aunt & Uncle, one from Great Aunt Evie and Uncle Speed, one from the Sivinski's, who were honorary Kirschner's for the night, and one from Grandma and Grandpa, which later turned into envelopes.

As in, "Charlie, time to pass out those envelopes." Which we each got to open, but then immediately had to hand over to our parents.

And yet, as soon as that night was over and we were making our way back through the snow storm to home, I always felt like Christmas was over too. I knew when I woke up, I'd have more presents to open, but the big show was over. And that was okay. I could wait until next year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

23 Days Till Christmas

Last year we started decorating our house in the C9 multi-colored lights a la Charlie Brown Christmas, complete with Santa blow mold on the front porch. We call it going "retro" and it reminds me of my days growing up on North Main.

I only lived there until I was 5 or 6, but my best friend lived there "forever" so I never really left. She lived two doors down. Her mom let me eat Count Chocula and her dad jumped out of planes into his back yard. So definitely cool on any given day.

They would probably laugh at me calling it retro, because I don't think they ever traded out their C9's for the white icicles and inflatable monstrosities that have taken over. And even though I've missed going over in these last few years since we've had kids, I take comfort knowing that everything still looks the exact same...except they did take down the wall checkered in cork and mirrors, which is a bummer.

Let me set the scene:

Widest tree known to man. Almost more like a very tall bush, which it may have been, because it was really hard to see.

First wrap it in more C9s. Not kidding...outdoor lights on the indoor tree. Then I think there may have been ornaments of a popsicle stick nature, but again, hard to see. Blue and silver tinsel roping from the top to bottom, with very little space in between. And top that with the loose "icicle" tinsel. 100 boxes of it.

In case you feel there is a shocking lack of tinsel here...there is more roping from the corners to the middle of the ceiling and blue and silver balls hanging by...trying to picture if it was fishing line or, in fact, more tinsel. I also picture a disco ball hanging down in the center, but I'm pretty sure I'm making that up.

The stockings that hung at their fire place, we're maybe twice as big as mine...but even better, they each had ceramic Santa boots that were also loaded up...and thus my introduction to beef jerky as it's own food group.

And though I wrote this to get a laugh, please know that it makes me all warm inside whenever I think of it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

24 Days Till Christmas

Sometime in the beginning of December we always got together with my cousins to decorate cookies. The seven kids and Aunt Prissy and Aunt Charlie dutifully churned out a few hundred icing masterpieces. Or maybe it only felt like hundreds. I know the kids were always ready to quit before the naked cookies ran out.

A few sub traditions have arrived over the years:

Ugliest cookie AKA chamo cookie - Made by mixing all the icing colors together before plopping it on a cookie in one scoop. These tend to show up more frequently towards the end of the activity.

Charlie and/or Rachel make John and/or Rebecca cry.

Most Amount of Icing Contest. Participants of this contest are forced to eat the cookies once the measuring is done.

Aunt Prissy and/or Aunt Charlie have to yell at someone to stop putting the wrong knife back in the wrong color of icing.

Adam and John talk about guns.

Charlie and Rachel talk about bowel movements.

Katie recites an ancient epic poem inspired by the season.

Rebecca makes sure all our waste is composted or recycled.

Aunt Prissy and Aunt Charlie make up yet a new verse to Good King Wenceslaus.

Someone talks about their "Schwetty Balls"

Speaking of Schwetty you didn't know that candles and snowmen could be turned upside down and made into phallic symbols. I won't go into what they do with Santa and the angels. (I say "they", because I would never participate in something so obscene. Okay, I may have given a gingerbread girl breasts.)

Gore Cookies...reindeers spewing blood, decapitated Santas, the usual.

Favorite Cookie Shape: Christmas Tree - so many possibilities
Worst Cookie Shape: Tiny Angel - A waste to spend so much time on a cookie you can eat in one bite.

This tradition is still going strong with the next generation. Now we have our "cousins" Christmas prior to the actual holiday in order to make sure everyone can be in attendance at the same time. One of the aunties brings the cookies and one brings the icing to whoever is hosting the event. And part of the joy is hearing them discuss who's turn it is to bring which in the days approaching our gathering.

Idea - why don't you stop switching back and forth and just be in charge of the same thing every year?