Thursday, January 28, 2010

Away for the weekend


So, one of the perks of having a husband being a newly minted church staff member (did I tell you that? He's the Youth Music Director as of last week) is getting to go with him on youth retreats. This weekend is the Senior High Winter Retreat and we all get to go! Now, The Viking will be making beautiful music with the band the whole time and Redheaded Snippet and Man-Cub have grand plans involving tubing but I am imagining spending most of the weekend reading in front of a roaring fire in my stocking feet.

Must get myself to the library to stock up. And maybe I'll see if there aren't some new issues of a few favorite magazines while I'm at it. I think Daria will be having a good weekend, too, as she will be house- and dog-sitting. She will be spending her time in front of our fire with a woolen Scottish blanket across her lap, a large German Shepherd at her feet and a few choice disks in the Wii.

I think it's going to be a really good weekend!! Hope yours is good, too!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I'm posting kind of a potpourri again today. It seems I can't collect my thoughts long enough to post anything single-themed or comprehensive lately. I blame the midwinter bleakness. There is nothing to look forward to, now, until Man-Cub's birthday. In March. Aye me. We'd better have a few spiffing snowstorms before then or I will go stark, staring mad.

Right. First, because it must be said, I have lost 3.7 lbs. Oh yes I have. I owe it all to eating frequently but sensibly and streamlining my diet. I suddenly realized the other day that I haven't had fast food in months, haven't stopped for coffee in months, don't buy prepared foods, hardly go out or order take-out and am making the vast majority of the food that I eat. So go me. I am also trying to grit my teeth and do some form of exercise. I'm doing Wii Fit as long as I can before I hurl that smug Balance Board out into the street. I hate that thing. It has told lean, rangy Man-Cub that he is in danger of being overweight. And you can imagine what its opinion is of me. It actually gives out this slightly shocked, fairly disgusted, "Oh," whenever I step on it. And at the conclusion of the Body Test it always says with the same, "O.M.G. You are SUCH a loser," tone, "Uh, yeah, like that's obese. Gross." Okay, it doesn't say "Uh, yeah like," or "Gross," but I think you get the drift. It's like exercising with EGOD. But I've thought of a solution this morning. I'm turning the sound off from now on. I don't need an inanimate object to talk to me ever. Least of all when I'm exercising.

Actually, today, I did not use the Wii Fit torture device. Today, I got my cardio and muscle strength training changing the linens on our beds. I really do love flannel, but that much of it weighs a ton!

Friday night, Lobelia, Beelix and I took Daria out for her birthday.  We went here:

See?  There we are!  We basically had a killer time in case you wanted to know.  The food was excellent, the service was fabu and the company was nearly perfect (if only Dharma and SuzyQ and Lady Marmalade could have joined us).  We left the establishment having proven, yet again, that we don't need no stinking alcohol to have a rip-roaring good time!

I'm just enclosing this photo because I like it.  I'm so glad I have a fondue pot and I pledge to use it more often!

In other news, we are slowly picking away at the living room.  Maybe you're scratching your head in befuddlement.  Didn't we finish already you may ask?  Indeed, the stove is finished, but as often happens in home renovation projects, the sparkling, new element in the room only seems to throw into stark contrast the rest of the dull, old elements choking the life out of the room.  The Viking is already talking skim coats and paint colors and I just keep pointing to this:

This is the living room I want, more or less.  That there bass drum being used as a side table (look right there between the chairs, you'll see it)?  I could do without that and it would last, oh, maybe three nanoseconds in my house before it became an empty barrel, but the rest, YES PLEASE.

Here's another view (see the drum?):

I am especially staying awake at night coveting the ottoman.  We wants it, we needs it!  The Viking's eyes practically lit up with a crazed glow at the prospect of putting beams in on the ceiling, but I'm not so sure about that one.  That might look silly in a room with ceilings as high as ours.

Obviously, this is a cozy English cottage with a marvelous stone fireplace and I live in a much younger, medium-sized American cottage with a woodstove surrounded by faux stone, so the challenge is to try to capture the essence of the above photo and inject it into my living room.  I think I need to go to the library.

Well, I must go.  I have lots left to do and must eat some lunch before my blood sugar plummets and I am no use to anyone, least of all myself.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm at it again

I think I'm addicted to braising. I found a nice, big hunk of beef on sale at the store and have been itching all week to get my braise on with it!

I admit, it doesn't look all that appetizing, but you should just smell it in here and it's only been bathing for about 30 minutes!

Not having much of a plan, other than ooooooh I'm gonna braise that beef but good, I looked into my food stores this afternoon and found I am out of red wine (drat that last glass before bed the other night)! Okay, no problem, we'll just make do with what we have, must have something else we can use...

A brief rummage turned up a can of chicken broth, a can of beef broth and, lo, one lone remaining bottle of Magner's. Technically, it's Daria's, leftover from her impromptu birthday game night last night (we played our new favorite game Telephone Pictionary--hilarious) but what she may or may not realize is Lobelia is getting her another 6-pack tomorrow night when we take her out to dinner so I threw caution to the wind and the cider in the pot.

I'm thinking I may go old school and just serve it as pot roast tonight complete with potatoes, carrots and a nice leafy green salad. And then for Saturday (cause tomorrow I'm going to The Melting Pot with Daria, Lobelia and Beelix--new name, trying it out--for dinner (see above)) I'm trying to decide between that decadent cottage pie or beef stroganoff. The cottage pie is our favorite, but we've just had it twice in a short period of time so I'm thinking maybe the stroganoff for variety's sake.

Anyway, I'm sure there will be more to report after Daria's birthday dinner! Off to fulfill my housewifely duties!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pork Tacos

All right, all right, I'm sorry I have no photos. Let's just get that out in the open, shall we?

But, seriously, I rocked the kitchen tonight, if I say so myself. I was a hero in the eyes of the menfolk (whose hearts are best reached, we may remember, through their stomachs)!

After last night's triumph of roast pork and veg, I didn't particularly feel the need to wow 'em again tonight but it kind of just happened.

I had all that leftover pork and lovely, lovely, so-good-you-might-consider-eating-it-with-a-spoon gravy in the fridge and no desire to actually cook anything. I was going to make my usual leftover pork meal, pork fried rice, but a passing whine from Man-Cub set other wheels in motion.

"Why can't we have tacos?"


I had tortillas, shred ched, sour cream, salsa and all the fixin's for guacamole (thanks to that 77-cent avocado deal), so I shrugged and just went with it. I diced up (small) the rest of the pork, reserving the discarded fat to make Nutmeg's night later, sauteed some minced garlic and jalapeno, then added the pork to heat it through. I poured in the rest of the gravy and the last of a jar of chipotle salsa (roughly 1 cup), then added cumin, salt and pepper to taste. While that was happening Redheaded Snippet started the prep for the guacamole.

Man-Cub was a bit leery about trying a taco made with anything other than his beloved ground beef, but somehow I got him to try it. He couldn't stop raving about how amazing it was and I think he had four tacos. Even The Viking said they were tacos to rival those made by our favorite local Mexican restaurant. High praise indeed from a man who loves his Mexican food!

Again, I regret that I have no photos, but I was to busy being Supermom to make sure the camera's batteries were good.

Must remember to add this one to the binder!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pork Roast and Other Nonsense

I know I bragged quite a bit about all we accomplished yesterday, but I neglected to share the very best parts. Nothing is done in the usual way in our home and taking down the Christmas tree is no exception.

Redheaded Snippet just had to wear the tree skirt as a human skirt then proceeded to model the many ways one can wear such a garment.

Diggin' the Dancin' Queen

Um, yeah, I really don't know. Have I mentioned how very much like her father she is?

Forsooth! To be or not to be...that is the question!

Of course, Man-Cub had to get in on the action. Those are Redheaded Snippet's ridiculous looking yet ridiculously comfortable slippers. Imagine strapping down pillows to your feet. That's what they feel like.

I'm not sure what it is, but there is something that strikes me as particularly hilarious about this shot and the next one. Something about the bag over the head, the bland pose...

And then this pose just kills me. I don't know if you can tell, but he cut (very askew) eye holes in the bag before putting it on. That's my boy.

I leave you tonight with the tale of a scrumptious dinner. I bought a pork roast at the market yesterday and decided to roast it up a la Leila (one of my favorite blogs, go check it out you won't be sorry).

Now, though we discovered that the pork roast that the market sells is quite different from the pork loin in the amount of fat vs lean meat, it's still one very flavorful roast and one we are not going to complain about.

I prepared this roast pretty much the same way I always do except I made sure to keep just enough liquid in the pan to get some nice, lovely, brown drippings and flavor bits to make a most devastating gravy. I had grabbed a pair of sweet potatoes and a bunch of asparagus on sale yesterday so I just roasted everything up and had a roast pork with veg that won a very enthusiastic thumbs up from The Viking!

Of course, when asked for her opinion, Redheaded Snippet was otherwise engaged.

It was pretty darn good and the leftovers are going to make some lovely pork fried rice. But I need to look around and find out what I can do with the leftover gravy; it's just to good to let it go to waste! Be sure to let me know if you have any ideas.

Right, so it's off to bed for me soon. The kids have off tomorrow and I got most of my chores done yesterday so I get to spend a little time doing absolutely anything I want. I think I'll be curling up in the recliner in front of the fire...


I just want to get this recorded for the next time I get discouraged about the state of my house and feel like I never get anywhere.

Today, we took the Christmas tree down and took all the boxes and crates containing the ornaments back down to the basement right away. And thoroughly cleaned the area where the tree had been including vacuuming using attachments. As we used to say in the '80's--heavy duty. And, The Viking and I decided to take the opportunity to move some of the furniture around so the couch will have an optimum vantage point for gazing into the new fire, watching tv or playing any number of Lego Wii games. Of course, moving furniture involved lots of sorting, throwing, tidying and vacuuming (with more attachments). And The poor Viking had to move tv cables and stereo wires and all manner of gadgetry in order to move our Entertainment Armoire clear across the room.

While we were doing this, I washed, dried and folded several loads of laundry, Redheaded Snippet cleaned her room, tidied and swept the powder and laundry rooms, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cleared the kitchen counters and island, swept the kitchen and dining room floors and made the pizza sauce and started the crust for dinner. Man-Cub provided general gophering, put laundry away and Swiffered the laundry and powder rooms. It is a wonderful thing to have a child who genuinely likes to Swiffer. And I don't know when "Swiffer" became a verb, but using it that way makes me feel a little dirty inside.

I also was Superwoman in grocery shopping today. I don't usually shop on Saturdays, preferring to venture out on weekdays when the stores are less crowded. But I had no choice if I was going to actually provide my family with meals today. I was a little reckless, starting off with only a partial list, but I really surprised and pleased myself. Flying without a net, as it were, helped me to see just how much I've learned in the past few years about marketing and cooking. I'm usually lost without a menu and a list when it comes to meal planning. And I still don't think I'll go without a list very often after this. But today, I was able to go through the entire store and shop according to what was on sale and what I know I usually buy.

I didn't have a plan to make chicken this week, but we usually eat it at least once a week and boneless, skinless breasts were $1.99/lb! Dang! I'll take a pack of those! I also wasn't planning on buying any beef other than ground (especially as we had just had roast beef last week), but I stumbled across a nice, big hunk of beef on sale, also at $1.99/lb. Bingo! Sounds like a good week for Beef Pot Pie and Beef Stroganoff!

A blitz through the produce section revealed both broccoli crowns and asparagus on sale so I grabbed some of those. And then, the $.77 Haas avocados stopped me dead in my tracks. What a deal! I grabbed three and then sought out a jalapeno, lime, red onion and a bunch of cilantro. That's right--guacamole!

Added to the usual items I usually bring home (fruit snacks, cans of soup, potatoes, bananas, tp, paper towels, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, garbage bags, tomato puree, mozzarella cheese, frozen pizza dough, frozen peas, cereal, butter, eggs and milk) and the things I had already picked up at the Mennonite market (bacon, sausage, pork roast, homemade bread--can it be really homemade if you buy it in a store?, and three-layer bars for the kids), those unplanned items filled out and completed my menu for the week without me having to sit down and agonize over it! It was wonderful! And all for less than $130.

All that to say, I am aching and especially tired. The only reason I'm still downstairs and not in bed is that I need to decompress a little. And The Viking has slathered himself in liniment and I find the smell so distasteful I'm putting off going up there. Our bedroom smells like a nursing home. It's delightful.

I'm hoping to put the finishing touches on the living room tomorrow so I can take photos to share. Yay for getting things done so I can truly have a Sabbath tomorrow, right?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Random Observations (mostly)

Just a few random observations on this fine, cold day:

1. If you build a fire in your living room using logs from a maple tree, the resulting aroma pervading throughout your entire house will drive you into a frenzy for Maplewood smoked bacon. It is, quite possibly, the best smell ever.

2. Lubriderm Advanced Therapy moisturizing lotion for Extra Dry Skin is a miracle remedy and worth every penny. Those Lubriderm people deserve awards. Many thanks to Daria and, indirectly, Dharma for putting me on to it.

3. My children will retrieve the sugar canister from the depths of the rickety, stickety lazy susan cupboard, spoon a teaspoon out of it for their tea, put the lid back on, and put it back in the cupboard but will not simply turn around to fill the empty sugar bowl on the island behind them first. They must get that from their father's side.

4. My bed gets exponentially more comfortable as the minutes left before the alarm clock shrieks dwindle. It is never more comfortable than when the alarm has gone off. And that is just not fair.

5. Peeling and de-veining raw shrimp is particularly nasty business that may, in fact, be worth the extra money it costs to have someone else do it for you. However, it serves perfectly as a means of bringing a cheeky 14-year-old back into focus and bringing her down a peg or two. Furthermore, all manner of kitchen chores and cooking duties seem to work rather nicely when you find your child has outgrown spankings and time in the corner.

6. All the mess, worry and labor (both physical and mental) involved in installing the wood stove was well, well worth it. There is nothing better on a cold January evening after the supper dishes are washed than sitting near it with The Viking whilst the children finish their homework or take their evening baths.

7. Laundry, beds and dirty bathrooms beckon, but that is not at all random, is it?

Monday, January 11, 2010

It Never Fails

Yesterday seemed to be the breakthrough day for me. I finally got all cylinders running, was feeling alert and good and a productive member of society. Went to church (hmmmm....THAT couldn't have had anything to do with it, now could it?), did some cursory grocery shopping, got the entire ground floor of the house tidied up, completed several loads of laundry, had myself dressed and made up and was tripping about the house nicely.

And then, my old nemesis struck:


I have battled this beast my entire life, at no time worse than as an infant when I nearly drove my frazzled parents crazy. They actually took me to the doctor who did every test available at the time and told them I was simply a person who did not need a lot of sleep and liked to be awake at night.

As an elementary-school-aged child I distinctly remember not needing much sleep and loving being awake all night. I would be sent to bed with instructions not to leave my room where I would read and read and read because I just wasn't tired. Eventually, my alarm clock would go off, I would put the book down, get out of bed and get ready for school. I would be fine all through the day and then go to sleep around midnight that night. That happened frequently throughout my prepubescent years.

Once puberty hit, things changed, as things are wont to do in that stage of life. I suddenly needed six hours of sleep each night. I know, six is still a rather small amount, but for me, it was monumental. My parents were worried again, wondering if I had some kind of fatal illness and was wasting away. But, no, I was just a teenager with changing needs. But even during high school, I was rarely asleep before midnight and never seemed to be tired.

My circadian rhythms seemed to be made for college life. No one pulled all-nighters like I did. Somehow I managed to avoid early classes and blissfully enjoyed staying up and sleeping late. If you needed to talk or borrow clothes or find a partner for a prank at 2:30 in the morning, I was your girl. Everyone knew I'd be up later than anyone else. Of course, they also knew not to come near me before 11:00 am.

I have always been at my sharpest mentally late at night, between the hours of 1 and 5 am, a true night owl. Which worked great during college and even when my children were babies (when I wasn't just flat-out exhausted). But now, at this stage of life, with school-aged children and the demands of their 8-3 schedules, my nature is at harsh odds with my needs.

I have a very hard time falling asleep before 2:00 am. I'm just not ready to sleep. And even if my body is tired, which it always is because, at 37, I need the standard 8 hours of sleep to feel human, my mind is always raring to go all night long. I lie there, sometimes for hours, willing myself to just fall asleep, knowing the alarm is going to shrill me out of bed at 7:15 and children must be sent to school properly fed and dressed. But my mind won't cooperate. I count sheep, I count my blessings, I pray for everyone I can think of, I read, I recite the multiplication table in my head, I constrict and relax all the muscles in my body from head to toe, nothing works. I've tried melatonin, mild sleeping pills, a small tot before bed, warm milk, warm baths, hot baths, NOTHING! The mind wants what it wants and at midnight, mine wants ACTION!

So, invariably, I spend at least 3 mornings a week in a glassy-eyed stupor. I rise at 7:15 to get Man-Cub going, having gotten around 4 hours of sleep. I go through the motions half-asleep and get him out the door. Then I begin the desperate debate of what to do next. I'm tired. Too tired to think. I really need to go back to bed for a few more hours. I'm a housewife with children in school all day, I have the luxury of being able to do that. But if I do, we all know what will happen. The day is pretty much shot. By the time I get back up and get moving it will be time to get the kids from school and the afternoon routine of homework and dinner prep will begin and it's a downhill slide from there. But I cannot function on 4 hours of sleep so if I don't go back to bed, I will sit around trying to stay awake all day and then be super crabby by dinnertime and making myself stay awake never really helps to get me to bed at a decent hour the next night.

This is exactly where I find myself this morning. I went to bed having accomplished so much and with such high hopes for today (stripping beds, tackling more laundry, finishing the grocery shopping, finding a pediatric dentist, braising a roast) and then sleep eluded me until after 3:00 am. So here I am, groggy and bleary-eyed with a task list as long as my arm and no energy to do it.

What to do? This is no way to start a day, let alone a week. What's a well-intentioned housewife to do when insomnia rules her life?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Procrastinating but the Stove is done!

I admit it, I'm procrastinating right at this very moment. I have piano students arriving in 90 minutes, groceries languishing in bags on the kitchen floor and island, laundry piled up waiting to be folded and put away and general disarray throughout my home. And here I sit.

But, you see, I'm cranky and need a wee bit of time to decompress. I just did the most foolish thing and went with both children, though without The Viking or Daria or any other co-wrangler, to Wegmans. On a Sunday. After church.

When will I ever learn? I have done this a few times before (and have even blogged about it, sadly) and still have not retained enough of the bitter memory of it to prevent me from doing it again. I was practically twitching when I got the car and didn't even get everything I needed but fled the store at the earliest opportunity with who knows what!

I know why I do it. Wegmans is rather far from where we live and it's only minutes from church. So it makes sense, at first glance, to just make a quick stop on the way home from church as we literally have to drive right past it anyway to get home. But, oh! I'm really not sure it's worth it. Maybe if I had a flask of brandy on me for fortification...

Anyway, we got a lot of cleaning out done yesterday. First, The Viking and I had one of those "cleaning house" discussions every husband and wife needs to have every now and then and boy did we need one yesterday! I won't go into details but sometimes it takes some borderline shocking behavior from one of your children to make you sit down and look into each others' eyes and then long and hard at your marriage and what you're making of it. Which we did yesterday. And then we felt the need for a physical outlet to serve as symbolic evidence of the cleaning we had just done so we went into the murky depths and cleaned out the basement.

The Viking has been wanting to get that job done for...well...probably since about a year after we moved in 11 years ago. And as most of the things down there were accumulated due to me swearing I was going to fix/paint/refinish/re-purpose whatever it was I was insisting on keeping, I really owed it to him to get right in the trenches with him. I think I drove him a little nuts, unfolding each article of old baby clothes, sometimes crying over them, asking him to remember events certain outfits were worn to, poring over old letters (even found one last one from an ex!), old love notes (all from The Viking), poems written in high school (hilarious), poems copied and treasured in college (still love them), old tapes and CDs we had made in the early years of our relationship. The Viking was very patient and gracious to me. His only comment was, "Now I know why you've been putting this off. It's very emotional for you, isn't it?" That, as I was crying over our first son's first photo outfit. Truly, The Viking understands my tears over that one as we don't have much to remember him by, but still, by the time I was waving Redheaded Snippet's old booties for him to look at, he was ready for me to go upstairs, I think.

I did very well. We threw away most of the old clothes (most were stained and I kept one or two pieces that were just too precious to part with), several old chairs I had been intending (for over ten years) to refinish but were actually falling apart, bagged up lots of clothes for Goodwill, sorted through bins and crates and bags of other junk, and set aside a mass of old papers for the burn pile. I ceremoniously burned that old letter (don't know why it was still in there) with the kindling in our first fire since the stove was finished.

For, lo! It is completed!

I can't tell you the mess this last stage created. Imagine a tiny, but powerful Mt. Vesuvius erupting in your living room and you've about got it. There is white dust everywhere!

I just had to get this shot of the carpet just next to the stove. This is normally rather a denim blue. It took several goings over with the shop vac (The Viking and I took turns) to get it back to normal, but I'm still not convinced it's clean. I think we need to rent a carpet cleaner. Or simply pull up the carpet and refinish the floor underneath! I say simply, but I know I'm not kidding anyone. That is a different project for an entirely different time! But I bet The Viking's thinking about it...

Although I've dusted the usual places, I'm still finding dust in places that are rather unusual. Tonight when I lifted the lid of my shiny, lemony-scented piano to begin my first lesson, I realized with horror that the dust had gotten underneath the lid. I had no choice but to dust the keys right then and there in front of my student. Very humbling, that. Then later this evening when I dropped a large pile of clean, folded laundry into one of the baskets which had been sitting behind the couch, a giant cough of dust arose around it. Who thinks to dust the insides of their laundry baskets? They usually get too much use around here for that to be a problem! Now I'm not going to be able to sleep for thinking about places where the dust has settled. I probably should take the sofa cushions outside for a good beating, huh?

Anyway, it's in, it's done (save for the mantel), it's functional and I just love walking into the room and seeing this:

And we got it in none too early, too, because the weather has turned bitterly cold and even with the stove roaring away in flame in the living room, I'm still having to use the electric space heater in the kitchen. I think tonight may require an extra blanket on the bed!

I leave you this bitter cold night with a warm, toasty, though unoriginal thought.

-6 lb whole roasting chicken: $4 and change
-1 bag carrots: $.79
-1 bag egg noodles: $1.99
-grated Parmesan cheese: $2 and change
-1 pint heavy cream; $3 and change
-Your 14-year-old saying, after seeing the above together in the grocery cart, "You're making your Chicken Noodle Soup? YES!!!": Priceless

Friday, January 08, 2010

Setting Things Back To Rights

Dharma wouldn't stop singing this song over Christmas. I don't know if it was her aim, but she succeeded in lodging in my brain and, now, every time I start to clean anything, I find myself singing or humming it.

The intro is a little long, but worth the wait.

After a solid week of post-Holiday blues and two full days of feeling just awful physically, I am slowly restoring order to myself and my home. The washer is humming along, the dishwasher has been loaded, unloaded and loaded again, for some odd reason I thoroughly cleaned out the tableware drawer, the counters have been (mostly) cleared and wiped and I am hurling myself into the shower as soon as the washer is done (old houses and their old plumbing--can't run the shower and washer at the same time).

As much as I thoroughly enjoy being lazy and taking a break from housework, I always hate what I find when I'm done. And, I admit it, I rather like setting things back to the way they should be. In moderation. I do get overwhelmed when the job seems too taxing, but I'm usually good for a few loads of laundry or dishes before I lose momentum.

After my shower I'm going to make my bed, transfer the laundry and sweep the kitchen and dining room floors. And by then Redheaded Snippet should be home and I can put her to work on finishing the living room and taking laundry upstairs before I get Man-Cub and run to the market.

It's Friday, what should we have for dinner? I've got nothing planned except pizza and I've made it so much lately that I've actually become sick of it! Who'd'a thunk it? Sick of pizza? I've been watching too much Iron Chef and Best Thing I Ever Ate lately so I'm craving things I absolutely cannot make or afford to buy like lobster, beef tenderloin and scallops. Maybe it's a good night for veggie sandwiches and Greek salad. Don't ask me how my brain made that leap, I really don't know...

In other news, the stove is 99% finished! The Viking and Daria got the stonework finished and The Viking finished cementing it all last night. Tonight it should be plenty dried and cured enough so we'll be having a fire after a week without one! Only problem now is we're blazing through our woodpile pretty quickly and The Viking is no longer able to chop wood to replenish it. But I have a feeling it won't be hard at all to find an energetic, well-muscled teen-aged boy (or two) who would gladly chop a few cords of wood if it means being in Redheaded Snippet's company for an afternoon.

All the stove needs now is a mantle of some sort. We're still working out what it will look like. And, sadly, I think the time is fast approaching to take the Christmas Tree down. It was sadly ignored this year, in all the preparation for our family gathering. We didn't even put the popcorn and cranberry strings on it--first time ever. And with the stove installation going on, the tree only added to the disarray and displacement of the living room and I have had about enough of it. I want the stove things cleared up and the tree gone so Daria and I can arrange the room and I can finally feel at ease in there! Maybe we'll even be able to paint, though I'm not holding my breath! I'm thinking yellow...

Right, washer has stopped and I need a quick lunch before showering so my blood sugar doesn't plummet halfway through shampooing. Hopefully I'll have new photos of the stove and living room next time!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Where Did It All Go?

The time, the fun, the bustle, the rush, wherefore?

The stillness left behind is nearly deafening. Sigh.

I've been putting it off because I just cannot seem to summon the energy to do anything other than make a half-hearted attempt at a meal and keep us from being buried alive in our own home, but if I don't do it now, I never will so here is my Christmas Review. It's not going to be the eloquent presentation I had hoped, but it will be done!

We gathered with family this year, a group of 13 on Christmas morning (plus four dogs), swelling to 15 (and two more dogs) by feast time that evening. Sure, we were a bit cramped and things were slightly chaotic, but it was so wonderful just to be together!

Here's Redheaded Snippet being a bit cheeky, pretending to be surprised because we made her wait with the rest of the children before allowing her to come in and see the tree with its bounty of gifts

It's a shame this one is so blurry because Man-Cub (who still "believes") was really excited at his first glimpse.

I don't think Bitsy knew quite what to make of it all. She was exhausted, the poor dear.

Rosebud was, clearly, unimpressed. She was way more interested in eating wrapping paper later, though.

The Viking and Bitsy. He never tires of fulfilling his duties as Uncle (and that includes being called, "Funka," or "Kunka," or however Bitsy attempts to pronounce it at any given moment.

Oh. Yes. We. Did. I know, we must be crazy. Redheaded Snippet has been sleeping with one eye open.

Yep. Still cheeky. It's sad we didn't get any still shots of her opening her "big" gift--a cellphone. I got a nearly-barreled-over hug for that one. She'll probably use it to call 911 when her brother won't stop using her as a punching bag...

I'm still not sure what this is. Santa brought it. Thankfully, Santa did not bring him the new puppy he wanted. But Man-Cub was still very happy with his whatever-it-is. Hey, it doesn't involve blood or boobs or people acting like imbeciles so I'm reasonably happy with it.

What little girl doesn't love a doll you can hug tight and scalp with an included but poorly engineered plastic hairbrush?

Poor Cinderella is doomed to a lifetime of bad hair days.

Apparently, Man-Cub was very, very good this year. In addition to his boxing gloves, metal detector, spy kit, camera/binoculars and whatever-it-was, he got a drum set, the cymbals for which he is opening here. All of which, inevitably, leads Redheaded Snippet to ponder her very near future with an 8-year-old brother with both boxing gloves and a drum set and wonder if, perhaps, she was very, very bad this year...

Kind of a clash of Disney Princesses...

Hopefully this will help spare Redheaded Snippet from being Man-Cub's favorite target. We figure this is actually somewhat of an investment in anger management therapy. Doesn't he look absolutely terrifying?

Unfortunately, most of our still shots were ruined because some idiot gave this idiot the camera and I didn't realize it was set to record and not to photo. So we have lots of lovely little videos of Christmas morning, but very few bloggable photos. Typical, no?

We spent lots of time together laughing, playing, cooking, cleaning up, running after children, separating dogs and enjoying snatched hugs and kisses from wee ones. Dharma and Mom made Christmas dinner and Lobelia and I tackled the Boxing Day soup. There was pie and pie and cheesecake and more pie and someone brought eggnog and hot chocolate and Kahlua and several of the menfolk gave gifts of very nice Scotch, Gin and Tequila to each other and there was merriment all around.

We did have a few not-so-merry moments, of course. EGOD was there, wasn't she? Didn't I mention that? Ach, what a pill that woman is. She spent a significant portion of each and every day sulking in her room because of things like someone leaving her bag of bananas in the car (I am not joking) or not coming down to her room to see if she wanted coffee, or because we girls were not cleaning enough. She's just a bully, looking for someone to intimidate and boss around. She made the rounds her last day with us, venting her fury on Dad, Lobelia, The Viking, and even Man-Cub before unwisely deciding to engage Lenny and Mom. Lenny told her in no uncertain terms that he wasn't taking any nonsense from her which sent her charging at Mom who told her to quiet down already and then proceeded to heap coals on her head by apologizing for not realizing she (the woman who never ceases to rage against the evils of sugar and fat) wanted to go to the candy store. She was good as gold after that but we still couldn't wait for her to leave. Isn't that just tragic?

Our other hiccup was the ice storm that threatened to leave us powerless and cold with five children in the house. Twigs, branches and chunks of ice fell ceaselessly on the roof all day long (such as this largish branch that fell on our car), but thankfully, no real damage was done and we never lost power.

A few days after Christmas we sadly went our separate ways and, frankly, I'm having a hard time bouncing back. I miss them! Being together only seemed to make things worse! And, once again, we don't know when we all will be together again. I think that's the worst of all.

Sigh. So, that's what I did over my Christmas vacation. And now it's back to the daily grind. The gritty, gravelly, grind-you-into-the-ground daily grind. Oh yippee.