Friday, December 31, 2010

The Twelfth Day of Christmas Break


Today I had a nasty flashback to the Second Day of Christmas Break when my turkey that had been defrosting in the fridge was found defrosted, but sitting in a pool of turkey juice on the bottom shelf.  I'm not sure yet if that was worse than the Martinelli's spill. The turkey juices were more contained and so I didn't have to pull out the drawers of produce or throw out soaked loaves of bread as in the Martinelli's episode. But it was turkey juice. Eww.

I went to the mall to return some jeans, but exchanged them instead. I also did some Bath and Body Works sale shopping.  It was pretty cool and I spent under $10.

We did NOT go to the mountain today.  We will have to save that for another less crowded day.  I'm kind of sad, but kind of not. It would have been fun to play in the snow, but I would have been stressed about getting home in time to make all the food for tonight.

Which brings me to tonight.

We had a couple neighbors come over for appetizers and games. We played Quirkle and Set. The kids popped poppers and shouted Happy New Year at 9pm, along with the folks on the East Coast. Now it's 10pm and I've vacuumed up all the streamers and the kids are kind of sort of in bed.

The wind is blowing outside and it must be in the teens with the wind chill factor. We are warm and cozy and safe in our home. There are more leftovers in the fridge than I know what to do with, a turkey brining in the garage and there's a whole new year ahead.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Eleventh Day of Christmas Break

Robert and I went to the Columbia Employee Store today. I love the Columbia Employee Store. I'd like to marry the Columbia Employee Store. That's how in love I am. The clothes are awesome and the prices are more than 60% off retail. They have so much more than parkas, gloves, hats, ski wear, and athletic wear.  They have regular clothes and shoes too. Cute stuff.  It's enough to make me want to get a job for Columbia just so I can shop there every day.

So that was fun.

I wanted to take a picture of me in my new Frosty Forest parka (pictured above), but I had to run off to fencing with Ethan, which is where I am now.  I was going to wear my Frosty Forest parka tomorrow in the frosty forest of Mt. Hood, but it appears everyone in Oregon decided to go to Mt. Hood today and for the next two or three days. There is literally no parking and bumper to bumper traffic there and back. Not a fun prospect.

Plus I would be super stressed if we got back late for my New Year's Eve party. A party at my house. That I have to make food for. And stuff. So I don't want to get back late for that.

Also big news for today, Ethan purchased a bb gun. I blame Ralphie and A Christmas Story. But I bought the movie A Christmas Story, so I guess I am ultimately to blame. I don't have anything else to say about it. Except this: so much for my zero tolerance weapons policy. Although that kind of went out the window when we started collecting swords, cap guns and light sabers. And Christmas paper wrapping paper tubes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Tenth Day of Christmas Break!

Today I have a teenager. But it's OK because he promised that he wouldn't get all angsty and sullen and closed-up and that he would never think his parents were lame. Whew!

He wants blueberry pie and steak for his birthday meal. I guess I'm going out to buy a flank steak, but wish we could just go to Outback and call it good. I have a fridge full of leftovers and a turkey that still needs to be made. So much food!

I took down the tree today and put away all the Christmas things. I love cleaning up and putting all the Christmas stuff away.  It feels so freeing.

It snowed today, but didn't really stick.  I don't think we will get any sledding days here in the valley which means we might have to drive up to the mountain on Friday. Ugh. It is supposed to snow off and on today and tonight.

Robert took the boys swimming. It is the first time in 10 days I've had the house to myself. I'm a little giddy with it. I love not going swimming.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ninth Day of Christmas Break

We made our way back out to McMinnville almost a year to the day after we purchased a 1 year membership to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum. I guess I thought we'd visit more often. This year's trip was about a million times better than last year's trip, so that was a win.

We used Robert's new GPS to find a place to stop for lunch (Jack in the Box). I guess we will be canceling our "On-Star" membership. (Angela will be happy to know, as it was Angela who was our On-Star for many years).

I'm making enchiladas for dinner, but I need to run to the store for onions.  I don't want to run to the store for onions.  I want to stay inside because it's dark and wet and rainy outside. And a little cold. It's supposed to get colder and maybe snow. Which would be nice.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Eighth Day of Christmas Break

Ah!  We are over the Christmas Break hump.  It's all downhill from here.  Robert, who is enjoying a very rare week off, may not feel the same way.  So be it.

Robert took the boys out shopping today to spend a little Christmas money.  Jonah bought another Lego set.  A Droid Tripod, if I remember correctly.  Isaac bought Pokemon cards and something called Mighty Beanz that he left on the kitchen table all day.

We had a Papa Murphy's pizza for lunch with root beer.

I read a book and took a nap.

The boys are playing Life now and it just went bad.  Very bad.  Isaac is learning that Life is not fair.

I'm proofreading the latest issue of Vancouver Family Magazine and deciding that 2011 needs to be the year I get serious about writing.  Very serious.

But this isn't a resolution.  Just a decision.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Seventh Day of Christmas Break

Jonah tried on all the Silly Bandz he got for Christmas all at once.  For about 5 minutes.

We cleaned up the Christmas presents around the tree and I found the missing present for Isaac. I can't wait to take the tree down and get back to normal!

I finally took the turkey out of the freezer, which I've been meaning to do for about a week.  Now all I need to do is figure out some awesome side dishes I will enjoy eating for 5-6 days along with leftover turkey.  Mmmm.  Can't wait.

It was my last Sunday of sleeping in for one year.  Our new church schedule begins next week and we will be starting at 9am.  Actually, we have to be there at 8:30 to set up chairs in the cultural hall for our oversized ward so we will really need to be on our toes on Sunday mornings.

We played the game of Life.  For me it was the first time ever.  It was almost as exhausting as real life.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On The Sixth Day of Christmas Break

Meet Greenie, my new iPod Nano. It has a step counter and a stop watch! I can't wait until the temperature warms up enough for me to get back outside to exercise. In the mean time I plan to put Greenie to use listening to Stuff You Should Know podcasts while I clean house.

This morning was magical. I believe the true magic was that everyone seemed mostly happy with the present situation. Even though I lost one present (ironically the one I'd purchased with the money I didn't have from Great Grandma because I lost the check). I also forgot about another present until mid afternoon, but it has magically turned into a birthday present.

It was also magical because Robert liked the GPS I got for him and decided to keep it!

But the real magic will happen in the next 30 minutes if I am able to successfully feed my family after a messed up day of eating. We had a fabulous, big family meal around 1pm and stuffed our faces with treats around 3pm. Not really lunch, but not really dinner. Now it's 5:30 and everyone is kind of hungry, but kind of not. I want to prepare a dinner about as much as I want to sleep in a snow cave.

We did the cheese and cracker thing last night, so I guess it's going to be soup tonight. Better get right on that--the natives are getting restless.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

On the Fifth Day of Christmas Break

I made the boys wait until 9am to have Christmas cookies this morning, but I ate mine for breakfast.  And then I had a brownie and some caramel too.  I love Christmas goodies.

Ethan decided he wants a BB gun.  I don't know where he got this idea from.  He's started looking at guns and realized he has enough money saved to buy one himself.  All he has to do is convince his parents that having a BB gun in the house is a good idea.

Later we went to Burger King for lunch.  I asked the boys if they wanted to go to McDonald's and they said no.  Evidently McDonald's is offering "hope for foster kids" in every Happy Meal.  The boys said, "We want a toy, not hope."

We started a new tradition and enjoyed a Shepherd's Dinner for Christmas Eve dinner.  This consisted mostly of cheese and crackers, but we also had olives and some summer sausage.  We ate on blankets on the floor, picnic style (or Shepherd-style), watched Luke II and talked about the shepherds and how angels came to tell them of Christ's birth.  We had the lights low and the fire place on.  It was nice.

Finally, the boys opened their Christmas Eve presents: matching PJ's.  But this year there were robes made by mom and slippers (from LL Bean) as well.  Unfortunately Ethan's was a bit small.  He asked for a bigger one right away.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On The Fourth Day of Christmas Break

We went to OMSI today, mostly to have fun, but also to work on Jonah's Science belt loop for Cub Scouts.  The boys started out in the chemistry lab doing resistance experiments with white crayon and water color paints.  They walked away as I tried to explain the scientific application of resistance.  "Dad's tools at Intel use resistance in some of the steps to make computer chips!" I shouted across the room.  They didn't care.

Later we tried to build a Catenary arch, but I was the only one tall enough to hold the sides and even though I have long arms, they just were not long enough to hold both sides at the same time.  

Jonah loved making this stop motion video and took over 100 pictures to make it.  The hand idea was all his and I love how it turned out.

When we got home we had hors d'oeuvres for lunch thanks to Ritz and EZ cheese.  (Thanks to Samurai Mom for the winning idea.  I'm definitely the most popular mom in the house right now.)

I frosted what felt like 2000 sugar cookies and put the finishing touches on the candy cane brownies for our neighbor goody plates while the kids watched A Christmas Story for the second time.  All I need to do now is put the plates together and have the kids deliver them. Then I can start working on dinner.  


Only ten more days of Christmas break.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Third Day of Christmas Break

This morning all three boys and I had dentist appointments.  My kids love the dentist.  They get cookies and prizes and toothbrushes and floss for their cooperation.  They wish they could go more often than every six months.  They are all still 100% cavity free (knock on wood) which is due more to genes than stellar oral hygiene habits.  Yay genes!

I had a great check up too.  My nearly cavity free mouth is due to genes as well, but I also have pretty good oral hygiene habits.

After the dentist we went to the last place on earth I want to be at this time of year: Toys R Us.

I didn't expect all of us to make it out in once piece, let alone in ten minutes.  But we did.  I repeat, TEN MINUTES in and out of Toys R Us on December 22.  The only downside is Ethan knows what he's getting for his birthday.  I can live with that.

Later, Isaac retrieved the mail from the locked mailbox down the street and left my keys hanging from the lock all afternoon: house, 2 cars, and mailbox keys.  This will provide me with hours of "What If" fun.  Sigh.

Next up on day three's docket: sugar cookies.  I already went to the store once to replenish my supply of butter, but will need to return for more powdered sugar, corn syrup and plastic wrap.  I will definitely make more white chocolate covered pretzels.  They were scrumptious and did not last long enough to make it onto the neighbor goody plates.

Actually, I haven't really done the neighbor goody plates.  But that is only because I ran out of the white chocolate covered pretzels.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Second Day of Christmas Break

This morning I noticed the bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider in the fridge was lying on it's side, without a lid, in an amber-colored puddle.  I then noticed that the produce in the drawers beneath it was damp and there was another amber-colored puddle on the floor.

Of course no one was responsible for this mess.  No one had had a drink of sparkling cider.  No one had put the bottle back into the fridge without the lid.  No one shut the door and walked away while sticky liquid dripped down onto the bottom two shelves of the fridge and eventually the kitchen floor.  No one.

No one was there when it was time to clean up.  I wiped up the fridge, cleaned out the produce drawers, replaced the paper towels, wiped the bottoms of the casserole dishes, threw out the ruined loaves of bread and mopped up the floor.  Then I changed the water and mopped the floor again.  Then I sprayed the floor with 409 and wiped it up with paper towels.

It still feels sticky.

I took the Martinelli's over to the sink, certain it was flat and began to pour what little was left in the bottle down the drain.  "What are you doing?" the boys said.  "You're going to waste it!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

The First Day of Christmas Break

On the first day of Christmas break we watched A Christmas Story.  Isaac doesn't like the movie.  He says it scares him. I don't know if it's Flip getting his tongue stuck to the flag pole, or the gruff dad who weaves a tapestry of obscenity while trying to fix the furnace, or the mean bully with yellow eyes, or the fact that poor Randy gets dressed up like a tick about to burst for the walk to school or the mouth full of Life Bouy Ralphie gets when he says the Queen Mother of all curse words.  It could be the tension between the mom and dad over the major prize:  The Leg Lamp.

At any rate, Isaac doesn't like the movie, so we are watching it while he sleeps in.

Sleeping in is another thing we did on this first day of Christmas break.

Later I'll get started on some Christmas treats.  Maybe some white chocolate covered pretzels, caramels, or English toffee.

I've also got to mail out the rest of the Christmas letters.

One day down, 13 more to go.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Jell-o Project: Glass Block Jell-o

It's festive! It's beautiful! It's tasty! It's the Fruit Stripe Gum of the Jell-o universe.

Just how tasty is this Glass Block Jell-o, you ask?

Jonah and Isaac both loved it. Isaac actually turned his sideways thumb to a full fledged "thumb's up" after I pretended to cry. A full thumb's up! And no, I don't think pretending to cry skews my results at all. Jonah even asked to have more of this tasty treat as an after school snack today.

Here's the thing. Two-fifths of the people in this house can not get past that white stuff surrounding the real Jell-o. It's opaque, it's solid, it's jiggly. It isn't fruity like Jell-o is supposed to be. Their small, small minds just can't seem to get past it. Two-fifths of the people in this house would not even try my lovely glass block Jell-o.

I don't care.

It's delicious.

More for me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On Consequences

We've had Wii for two years, and for two years I've nagged the kids to pick up the remotes and games and turn off the TV when they were done playing. Since I hate nagging, I would alternate between cleaning up myself and going to lengths to get the kids to do it. And I complained a lot.

Finally I decided that every time I picked up the Wii clutter, I would take one game and put it in time out until it was earned back. We have thirteen Wii games. Within two weeks, I had eight of them. I don't think anyone noticed until I'd confiscated about seven.

The kids are being much more careful about picking up after they play Wii. However, they have no desire to earn their games back. This weekend, the playroom was a disaster. I announced that any kid who helped to clean it could choose one Wii game to get back.

No one cleaned the playroom.

Whenever I suggest a way to earn back a game, the kids begin a round of accusations declaring that the other two were responsible for losing the games in the first place and that they are innocent victims of the game loss. Therefore, they should do nothing to help earn the games back. Fingers are pointed, accusations are made, arguments started, and names called.

They don't want their Wii games back as much as they want to be right.

Not one is willing to take responsibility for his actions.

As long as they focus only on themselves, they will never earn back a Wii game.

Some days I feel like I'm raising a bunch of politicians.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Jell-o Project: Return of the Jell-o Project

My abandoned Jell-o Project left a pantry full of Jell-o boxes as a sad reminder of my Jell-o failures. I'd pushed the many boxes to the back of the shelf to try and forget, but I knew they were there. Mocking me, calling, "nevermore" when I wondered if I'd ever make Jell-o again.

Today I found this recipe on Our Best Bites and knew the Jell-o Project had been reborn. It is, after all, the holiday season, Jell-o's annual coming-out: a time when Jell-o puts on its fanciest dress and presents itself to the world for wooing. Sigh.

Sorry. I've been reading too much Victorian fiction as of late.

The real story is I thought this recipe was the perfect way to use up some of the Jell-o that's taking up valuable pantry space in a non-Jell-o way. Plus, fruity popcorn just sounded like a fun treat. The kids would have to be certifiable not to like it.

Isaac gave me a "thumb sideways" which means he kind of likes it and kind of doesn't like it.

Jonah liked it, but said it was pretty sticky. He was the one, by the way, to choose the berry blue flavor.

Ethan kind of liked it and drank about a liter of water after having his sample size.

I sent a bag to the neighbors to get a second opinion.

I thought it was delicious.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Problem With The Box

I'm not a big fan of tradition. It has a tendency to become a burden. A self-inflicted burden. Why would I do something like that to myself? Still, I feel some responsibility to create happy memories for my children, so I'm attempting to start a tradition. I have it on good authority that this particular tradition creates a fabulous spirit in the home during December.

It has to do with a little wrapped box. When you find the box, you know that some sort of service has been done for you. It then becomes your turn to serve someone else in the family and pass the box on. Thus, the box gets passed around the family and service done every single day for an entire month.

When I explained the concept at Family Home Evening this week, the kids seemed excited. Of course I meant to have the box all ready to show them on Monday night, but I didn't. Starting traditions is so hard. I did have it ready to go by December 1st though. Isaac decided he would be the first to serve.

"What do I get for serving?" He asked.

"A good feeling," I said.

"Can we have a contest to see who does the most service?" He said.

"It's not a contest," I said. "You just have to serve someone to be nice. For Jesus," I said.

Isaac finally agreed and went up to his room to work on his deed. He came back downstairs a few minutes later with a big smile on his face. "Don't make your bed tomorrow, OK mom?"

"OK" I said.

So the box fell to me. But what could I do to serve my kids that I didn't already do? I already make the younger boy's beds. I do everyone's laundry. I put their things in their room when they leave them scattered around the house. I cook their meals. I put band aids on their boo boos, help them with their homework, read them books at night, return their library books, empty their trash, keep them well supplied with cookies. What else could I do that would be extra?

I imagined making Jonah's bed and leaving the box on the pillow. "What's this for?" I pictured him asking.

"I made your bed," I'd reply.

"So. That doesn't count. You make my bed every day anyway."

(Confession: Jonah sleeps on top of his bedspread with a blanket, so all I have to do to "make" his bed is fold the blanket.)

Traditions are so hard.

So I didn't do any service today. Today I didn't even do the stuff I regularly do. I didn't take the trash bins back from the curb and I didn't make beds. I made grilled cheese for dinner. I had to stop doing service, so I could do service.

Not that anyone noticed.

And tomorrow, when I make Jonah's bed for service, I fully expect to have the above conversation. This tradition may have failed before it even got started.

And that is the problem with the box.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Be A Boy: Waiting in Line

Standing in line goes against two very important boy laws:

Law #1 - Thou shalt not hold still
Law #2 - Thou shalt not have order

Thankfully, there are a few ways to get around violating these boy laws when you are forced to stand in a line.

First of all, make sure you are standing in line for a good reason. Waiting to get prizes with your Chuck E. Cheese tickets, or waiting for your mom to buy you some ice cream, or waiting to ride the Looping Thunder roller coaster are all good reasons to be in a line. A check-out line at the grocery store, a line to check in a the doctor's office, or a line to get into a museum are all bad lines. Avoid these lines if you can.

If you must stand in a line, don't hold still. Move constantly. Hop on one foot, and then the other. See how long you can stand on one foot without falling over. Fall over into the stranger standing next to you. Fall over again, just for the fun of it. If the floor is dirty, see if you can spend as much time as possible on it.

If you have a brother with you in line, you are in luck. Try and lift your brother, even if he is 20 pounds heavier than you. Then have him lift you. Try giving each other piggy back rides. Bump into strangers standing next to you. Give your brother a noogie. He will try and give you a noogie. Try and give your brother a Wet Willy. He will jump back, right into the stranger standing next to you. Tackle your brother to the floor to give him a Wet Willy.

If you are unlucky enough to have your mother in line with you, she may try to separate the both of you by standing in between you. This will never work. Just reach around your mother to try and hit your brother. Pay no attention to the looks you are getting from strangers, or the exasperated look on your mother's face.

And when you ask your mother to take you to Target, or Oaks Park, or Burger King, or any place that has a line, act surprised when she flatly refuses.