Last Week of 2011: Recap

Well, it’s been an interesting week.

One week ago today we were loading the car for my husband’s Big Family Christmas Eve Celebration and Pierogi Festival.  It was a busy, loud, good day.  I got a kick out of the little kids:  these are the children of the cousins who were little kids when I first met my husband!  Although we don’t all get together much, the kids were quite sociable and comfortable around the adults and each other–what a credit to their parents.

My mother-in-law came back here with us after Christmas Eve and spent Christmas with us.  As we have done for the past several years, we spent Christmas at home.  Now that there are teenagers in the house, we let the kids open gifts as they wake up instead of waiting for everyone.  The folk group played at the 11:00 Mass, and we had a FULL choir area.  I don’t think we could have fit one more person in there, and the 5 guitars had a lot to do with that.  What a testament to the group, ranging from age 62 to the 5-year-olds who come along with their parents!  We’re there because we love what we do.  And on Christmas, everybody sings along.  There’s no better way to give God the glory.

After church we came home to prepare dinner and just hang out.  Big Brother’s girlfriend came over to have dinner with us.  We had a gift for her, and I had gotten her a funky stocking and put some fun stocking stuffers in with the gift as well.

On Christmas:  The Day After, we dropped off my mother-in-law and then headed to my parents’ house.  It was a full house with both my siblings and their families, my parents, my great-aunt, my uncle, one cousin, and one niece’s boyfriend.  The day featured lots of presents, lots of laughing, lots of food, and lots of cousins playing card games like “Old Maid,” “Go Fish,” and “B.S.”

Then it was Middle Sister’s birthday, a big chunk of which my husband spent in the Verizon store procuring iPhones for me and Middle Sister.  That’s a gift neither of us thought we’d ever receive and I’ve been having some fun with it–though there’s plenty still to be learned.  I made her a giant cookie cake AND an apple pie. She spent some time with her friends, and after dinner, our neighbors came over for dessert.

TheDad had been talking all week about going to Pittsburgh; no one knows why he wanted to go to Pittsburgh in December, but he did, so we did.  I refused to leave the house until he’d made a hotel reservation–there was no way I was going to play the “No Room at the Inn” game after driving for 5+ hours. We drove across Pennsylvania, with a detour to Shady Maple Smorgasbord for lunch.  There was all the usual bickering that driving 5+ hours with 3 kids involves.  For a few minutes there I thought there might be bloodshed in the buffet line (thanks, boys…)

TheDad’s new GPS totally failed Pittsburgh.  Maybe the highways are just too close together, I don’t know, but we were driving on “unnamed roads” a lot of the time, according to TomTom, and spent a good bit of time being told to make a U-turn when we were in a cattleshoot of Jersey barriers on a four-lane highway.

I found a Penzeys Spice Shop 5 blocks from our hotel.  Look at all the cool stuff I got my hands on there!  They had 5 kinds of cinnamon (I restrained myself and only got 3).

We went to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch and had Pho.  I’m glad I picked up some lemongrass at Penzeys, because I want to learn to make this soup!

We spent the afternoon at the Carnegie Science Center (consensus:  it’s cool, but Franklin Institute is way better) and then took a ride up and down the Monongahela Incline.

And bright and early yesterday morning, it was back on the road again to head home.  We were back by 3 and I’ve got plenty of laundry to keep me busy all day.  Though I love the Hampton Inn’s comfortable beds, it was wonderful to be back at home in my own.

I really am a homebody.  It was an enjoyable trip but I do love being in my own home.

We’ll ring in the New Year with friends, as usual, at their home.  I look forward to it, except for the staying-up-late part.  I turn into a pumpkin at about 9 PM.

Today, besides laundry, I’ll be cooking or baking something to bring along with us tonight–as soon as I figure out what that will be!

Except for that 3-day detour to Pittsburgh, this has been our usual Christmas vacation.  I’m kind of looking forward to Tuesday when they’re all back at work or school and the house is quiet once again.

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This, That and the Other Thing

This morning when I went outside to grab the newspaper, I could see the morning star.  Had to rush in and get Little Brother away from his breakfast so he could see it too.  (He thought it was worth it.)

Speaking of breakfast, Little Brother is a major-league toast eater.  He’ll go through 6 to 8 slices each morning.  But that wasn’t enough to get him through until snack time.  Now I serve him 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt before the toast.  For snack, he has fruit and a string cheese.  He says mornings are much better now.

I am doing my best to resist the open bag of candy corn that’s sitting in my kitchen.  But I’ve got some Count Chocula in the house…my kids had never eaten it before so I just HAD to get a box.

Generally I am not a flavored-coffee person.  But I highly recommend Godiva Coffee’s Pumpkin Spice.  It pairs equally well with candy corn AND Count Chocula.  Note to self:  go back to Wegman’s and get another bag of this coffee before it disappears!

Looking forward to tonight’s activities.  I schlep the kids around a lot to things they do.  But tonight’s event is really for me.  It’s the first rehearsal for the Festival of Lessons and Carols in the parish where Little Brother attends school.   Little Brother will be in the children’s chorus, and Big Brother will play various musical instruments.  I’ll be singing and playing guitar.  I have no illusions of having the kind of musical ability that many of the other singers/musicians possess.  This is an amazingly talented bunch of people!  But I find that I sing and play better when I’m challenged by being among musicians who are better than me.  Time to stretch!

I don’t get to bring my guitar tonight, though.  It’s just a vocal rehearsal for the first day, which kind of freaks me out because my guitar is definitely my security blanket.  It’s hard for me to sing when I don’t have something for my hands to do.

I’m still hoping against hope that I find the earring I lost the other day.  It’s not a valuable or expensive earring, but it was a really cute pair of earrings and I liked them a lot.  I should have an earring more than 8 days before I lose it, I think.

Last night I took Middle Sister shopping.  She had a really weird shopping list:  shoes for the Homecoming dance and a blanket sleeper (known in this house as a “woobie.”)  The sleeper is for her Halloween costume.  The last time I saw her wear one of those, she was 4!  After trying on a lot of shoes with insanely high heels, platforms, sparkles and the whole nine yards, she settled on a beautiful and feminine pair of black silk pumps.  Grown-up shoes and little-kid pajamas, all in the same shopping trip.  I guess that’s life with a teenager.

Variety Pack

Just because!

–tonight I’m heading to watch Middle Sister play basketball. I haven’t seen a game since mid-December. To tell the truth, I’m not looking forward to this, because I have to drive 25 minutes each way and then sit on bleachers. It’s not going to be a comfortable night.

–Why didn’t I have TheDad take her to the game? Well, he’s spending the evening in Purgatory, AKA the “FunPlex” at a birthday party with Little Brother and 12 second-grade boys. The party will last almost 3 hours. The migraine will last much longer.

–How to amuse two teenagers: Leave a “Dr. Leonard’s Presents Carol Wright Gifts” catalog on the dining-room table. I don’t normally keep any catalogs in the house, since everything in them can be found faster on the internet, but this one is just too funny to toss.

–I’ve been whipping through Angela’s Ashes, which I cannot believe I’ve never read before. I know the book is terribly tragic, but I’m also finding it quite funny. No one tells a story like the Irish, and Frank McCourt surely has a gift.

–One of these days I will once again be able to wear pants that are not sweatpants or yoga pants. Hopefully that will be soon.

Thursday Miscellaneous Vents

I’m really glad the Cub Scout meeting is over for tonight. Just a note to the Cubmaster: Halloween parties are great, but moms (including, and maybe especially me) do freak out when our little boys get chocolate cupcake icing all over their WHITE Halloween costumes that they need for tomorrow’s parade at school and Saturday’s trick-or-treat. It is a mom’s prerogative to freak out, considering that she will have to come home from the Cub Scout meeting and do laundry. Moms do not like to have to do laundry AND herd Cub Scouts into the shower all at the same time.

I’m really glad that I wasn’t the one who had to vacuum the meeting room after the Cub Scouts and their little brothers and sisters ate cupcakes, pretzels and potato chips in there.

I’m not looking forward to my dentist appointment tomorrow. Not only will it cut into my writing time, but it’s a dentist appointment, which is something I dread. Last time I was there, she made a snarky comment about the wide age-spacing of my children. And my husband thinks I don’t go back to the dentist because I can’t stand getting cavities filled. There is SO much more to it than that.

I’m also not up for the school Halloween parade, though it’s always cute and I’ll probably change my mind when I get there, provided the dentist is all done with me and I’m not too hot under the collar because of any snarky remarks she makes during that appointment.

And I’ve pretty much got no voice at this point, though I can’t figure out why, since I wasn’t screaming today during the school’s “Phillies Pep Rally” OR during the Cub Scout meeting. I’m hoping my cup of Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Zinger tea will help. (It certainly can’t hurt.) And if I don’t have a voice tomorrow, I won’t be able to do more than glare at the dentist if she has anything more to say that ticks me off.

Maybe I should just go to one of those dentists that knocks you out and does all the work at once while you snooze. I could probably live with that.

Speaking of snoozing, I should go do that too.