Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Christmas Carol Read Along

Another ReadAlong!!!
Have I mentioned that I love ReadAlongs??

Dog-Eared and Bookmarked is hosting this well-timed and fun ReadAlong for the Christmas season!!
And, I am so in.

Christmas for me is very different from Thanksgiving.
It is a daily challenge to stay calm and keep the spirit in Christmas where it belongs.
In my opinion Christmas has just gotten completely out of control.
I'm just not a fan of hoopla.

In order to enjoy the Christmas season my girls and I have instituted some of our own traditions.
We fully celebrate Christmas music, movies, etc. before Dec. 1...I don't militarily enforce this girls have picked up on it over the years and they actually police it better than I do. The Head of My Household asked my youngest on Thanksgiving night if she wanted to watch Polar Express.  She said, "No, Daddy!! It's still Thanksgiving!"

We bake cookies.
Our variety changes every year but Snickerdoodles and our famous reindeer cookies that we've been making since my oldest was in kindergarten are made every. single. year.
We make a complete total mess in the kitchen and then we eat what we make.
We do share what we make with others as well...if the opportunity comes along.

My middle child puts together our tree and the youngest decorates it.
Our tree is covered with lights (some years colored and some clear) and we keep it on as much as possible.
The ornaments are all either handmade or a keepsake from a special occasion in each of our girls' lives.  My bloggy friend Paula described it perfectly when she said the ornaments on her tree tell a story.

I do most of my shopping online.
My middle child was 4 months old on Christmas the year she was born; my firstborn was 16 months older than her and The Head of My Household was a college football coach. 
Essentially during that fall it was just me and my girls.
Just the prospect of shopping with an incredibly active toddler and an infant was enough to make me want to run away.
We didn't have internet then...which is strange...but I did all my shopping over the phone.
Most relaxing Christmas I have ever had.

No matter what a person believes, Christmas should be a time for love, joy and peace.
A time for giving, taking care of those who need help, sharing, family, and making memories.
We're gonna try our best again this year to remember the real meaning of Christmas all throughout the season.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Holiday Wrap Up

I think I've mentioned before that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday...and this year was no exception.
I'm pretty sure that Thanksgiving appeals to me so much because it is a fairly calm holiday as holidays go.  It is a time for family to gather together, share a meal, the Macy's Parade, football and most of the time relaxation. 
We are pretty lucky.  Our families (both sides) get along well enough that spending the day with one another is not a difficult challenge.  Our college also takes the entire week off for Thanksgiving; we do this instead of having a Fall break.  I LOVE it.  I get to be Mommy during the week of Thanksgiving, my house gets clean, I get to cook, and I get to take lots of pictures.
As my girls have grown, I've enjoyed letting them step in and add their own personal touches to the day.  My firstborn was in charge of decorating the mantle this year...I showed her some pictures of what I really like, she helped me shop for the needed supplies, and then I let her run with it. 

She used mostly natural ingredients, pumpkins, acorns, walnuts, pecans, pine cones, pomengrantes and red pears.
Then, she added green, gold and rust colored ribbon and a Tom Turkey right in the center for extra sass.
We stumbled across a little decorative squirrel and added him as well to honor our little buddy Squeakers who was released back into the woods successfully last weekend.
I think she did a very nice job :)

My youngest decided on her own this year to decorate the piano. 
At school she made pilgrim people with toilet paper rolls, so she decided we needed a nativity of sorts of pilgrim people on the piano.
We have no toilet paper on the roll at our house right now, but I think it's worth it to have such a special and personal touch :)

My middle child's contribution was a Butterfinger pie she made for the first time last year.
This is her own recipe that she found and tweaked (graham cracker crust, ice cream, whipped cream and Butterfinger candy bars)...and it's delicious.  I have no pictures of her pie because she made it while I went to retrieve our pre-cooked turkey...and it was eaten long before I could get around to photographing it on Thanksgiving Day.  One of her cousins told her it was one of the best pies he had ever tasted.
Made my middle child's day!

I do not try to make Thanksgiving perfect because I am no Martha Stewart and I don't have problems with that. Over the years I've made many mistakes.
I've caught things on fire (marshmallows and rolls)
I've dropped things (rolls)...and I have forgotten the cranberry sauce more than once.
I've learned to expect hiccups and laugh at them.
Such is life, right?
The test of my positive Thanksgiving attitude this year centered around the love of my life, The Head of My Household, who was, in his innocent manly way, trying to help.  He announced a couple of weeks ago that he ordered a turkey from our college.  When I asked how big it was, he said he didn't know.
I asked if it would be frozen.
He said he didn't know.
I explained that I really wanted a fresh turkey this year.
He said it might be fresh but...
he didn't know.
I asked when I would be receiving said turkey because I wanted to brine it this year.
He said, "What's a brine?"
I bet you thought he was going to say he didn't know.

The Head of My Household brought home a rock hard solid 10 lb. turkey (the smallest turkey we've had in years) and a ginormous pan of cafeteria dressing Tuesday night.  I had actually already boiled and deboned my chicken for my dressing this past weekend.  I love my dressing.  It's my mom's recipe and it just is Thanksgiving to me. 
The worst part was that I couldn't tell if this concrete slab of cafteria dressing was cooked or raw. 


Since my idea of an unchaotic Thanksgiving does not include babysitting a rock solid frozen turkey for 48 hours while it bathes in a cold water bath, nor does it include me feeling guilty for the rest of my life for thowing away a perfectly fine pan of dressing and hurting the father of my children's feelings. I put my big girl britches on, put the rock hard solid turkey in the freezer for another day, chipped away at the monument of dressing (which turned out to be raw) and called the nearest HoneyBaked Ham store.  Did you know that they will sell you a fully cooked turkey even on the day before Thanksgiving??

Guess what?  The day turned out just fine...even though no one ate much dressing.  In the middle of lunch my older daughters asked if I made the dressing.  When I told them no, they said, "We knew it!!"  "We like your dressing better, Mom!"
Yay, me!!

Over the last year our extended family has gone through and is still continuing to experience some pretty substantial changes.  My goal for Thanksgiving was to create a relaxing, uneventful environment where everyone could just rest their minds and have a little peace for a few hours.
I think we were able to accomplish that and more.
I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.