Monday, December 31, 2012

Just In Case I'm Not awake to Say It...

Happy New Year!

I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't see the ball drop this year. For one thing, we are celebrating the arrival of the new year alone this year as Jana and Co. are traversing the western part of the United States in Dolly, their 1980's motor home and aren't, therefor, available for our annual New Year's Eve blow-out.

Late last week, I toyed with the idea of inviting the Porch Ladies and their families over, but, it snowed a good six inches here in the past twenty-four hours and I just don't want to be responsible for dragging people out on the roads under such conditions. Plus, the whole "four day weekend" thing has resulted in more rest than I have had in quite some time and I am loathe to apply pressure on myself to be socially active.

A quiet and relaxing evening with my family is the perfect antidote to social pressure, I assure you.

So, our celebration will entail Netflix, a large platter of shrimp cocktail, cheese and crackers, and a million calories worth of leftover Christmas goodies, which, with a little luck and a lot of motivation; will be burned off on the sledding hill, tomorrow.

Because we can't start a brand new year without our traditional trip to the sled park, doncha know.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

File Under: Unusual Occurences

I slept in this morning.

To be specific, I slept until one o'clock in the afternoon.

That...never happens.

In my defense, I offer the following: I haven't slept through the night since sometime last year (thank you, pre-dawn anxiety, you are my oldest- and least dear- friend); clearly, I deserved the extra rest.

Apparently, however, the world ends when the mother sleeps in. Or, at least that is the fear in my household, as evidenced by the attempts my children made to wake me, including that old chestnut of pulling up my eyelids, peering into my unseeing eye and whisper-yelling "Are you awake? Did I wake you up?"

I mostly slept through that one, although it did manage to weave itself into the dream I was having.

Anyway, once I finally awoke from my slumber, I was greeted with cheers from both my offspring and my husband-the former because I was finally showing signs of life which roughly translated into some form of renewed cooking ability, and, the latter out of a sense of clear relief in not being left alone to raise the Spawn from Hell, whose only fear of permanent Orphanhood-due-to- Coma, was the fear of starvation.

As an aside, I will never feel the same way about the phrase "Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!", again.

I love you, too, children. I really, really do.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas is the Time for Leftovers, Like, Duh

There is a turkey burrito/enchilada casserole in my oven right now; the latest in a long line of menu items featuring turkey, seeing as we had that twenty-two pound turkey to share amongst a whopping six people, two of whom eat like, well, like birds.


So, easy recipe to follow:

-Dice a couple of cups of leftover turkey, mix with one can of diced green chilies and one can cream of chicken soup. Fill six flour tortillas with turkey mixture, sprinkle with shredded cheese, roll into a nice tight burrito shape and place in a large baking dish. Pour one large can of green chili sauce over burrito/enchiladas, sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for forty-five minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven, lie to your children about contents of burrito/enchiladas ("Is that turkey? AGAIN?!"), cross your fingers and hope for the best.

The end.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oh, Sure, NOW It Snows

Hugh and the Man-Cub went snowboarding today.

I went to work.

It snowed five or six inches while they were gone and now they are shoveling the driveway.

In the dark.

I am sitting on the couch with a glass of eggnog and a plate of Christmas cookies, watching a rerun of The Vampire Diaries.

I win.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another Christmas in the Books

Our Christmas was wonderful.

For the first time in sixteen years, I was in bed before midnight on Christmas Eve, and, Christmas morning; I slept past five o'clock! Ok, it wasn't much past five o'clock, thanks to the twenty-two pound turkey that required an early trip to the oven, but, still! Not five o'clock!

And, I hit the sweet spot of parent gift giving-both children were happy with their presents and neither seemed to miss the whole Santa experience.

Oh, I missed it, but that is neither here nor there.

Anyway, gifts were opened, eggnog was consumed, the goodies on the goody tray disappeared with an uncanny rapidity, turkey was consumed, Christmas movies were watched, Skyping between Hugh and his brother in Dubai happened, and, I was in bed by nine o'clock p.m.

Oh! And my spare refrigerator magically started working again! Or, it was never broken to begin with. Either way!


Now, we get a few days to recover and to prepare for our New Year's Eve celebration.

2013, here we come!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dear Santa,

I know it's pretty last minute, but, if you could find it in your heart to bring me a new spare refrigerator, I would really appreciate it. Or, you know, if the mechanics division of the workshop could spare an elf or two to fix my old spare refrigerator, that would be just as good.

If neither of those things are possible, and, I totally understand if they aren't; then would you mind sparing me and my family any sort of food poisoning tomorrow? Because the turkey and cheesecake both spent quite a bit of time in that fridge and I'm not 100% sure how cold they stayed.

On the bright side, the length of time that it took the turkey to thaw in that fridge would indicate that it was in working order until just recently, and, by recently, I mean sometime this morning.

I'm basing that guess on the fact that the two dozen farm eggs that were also in the fridge were still quite cool when the Man-Cub pressed one to the back of my neck in an effort to convince me that: "the fridge is, too, keeping things cold, motherrr" (insert disgusted sigh and an eyeroll).

That, however,  is crazy talk, because, I am a pretty good judge of cold vs. not cold; I've been cold-blooded all my life  and I know from cold, yo.

Anywaaayy...I really would appreciate your assistance in this manner, and, as a show of good faith, I am leaving you a plate of cookies tonight. I would include a nice cold glass of milk, but, the milk was in the spare fridge and I'm not willing to risk poisoning you, Santa Claus.

Pretty sure that poisoning you would land me on the naughty list forever, and, we can't have that.

Love, Chelle

Friday, December 21, 2012

Officially On Vacation

My last duties at work today included a meeting at one of the elementary schools. While I was there, the school held a moment of silence for the Newtown victims, ringing the school bell 26 times-once for each of the victims.

The tolling of the old schoolhouse bell reverberated through the small chair I was sitting in like a heartbeat, the irony of which did not escape me.

It was an emotional moment and not one I hope to repeat. Ever.

On a brighter note, I will be spending the next four days at home with my own children. I feel very blessed to be able to do so.

Tomorrow, we are making our final assault on the mall; The Teenager's presents being our primary quarry. Tomorrow is also Hugh's birthday so we will be dining at The Olive Garden as per his request.

If we finish our shopping in a timely manner (ha,ha,ha,ha!), I plan to bake the last four items on my list: pizzelles*, spritz cookies, banana bread, and, pumpkin bread. I'm not really holding my breath (see above: ha,ha,ha,ha).

I also need to wrap a number of items and make sure that I have everything that I need for Christmas dinner. As an aside, the turkey that I took out of the freezer and placed into the fridge to thaw is still pretty damn frozen, and, I took it out on Monday. My fingers are really crossed for a thawed turkey by Christmas Eve.

*Remember two years ago, when my pizelle maker went missing and I bought another one? And I joked about how, the minute I bought a new one, the old one would turn up? And, them how it didn't turn up? Well, it has now turned up. I know. I have no idea, either.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Here's Hoping YOUR Holidays Aren't Gross

Earlier this month, I mentioned that we had taken pictures for our annual Christmas cards, and, I declared the pictures to be among my all-time favorites due to the fact that they adequately captured the essence of The Teenager.

Our cards have officially gone out and I now feel comfortable sharing the pictures that made the card a classic, you know, for our family.

 The front page of the card featured a collage of the above three pictures. The inside of the card featured the children's response to seeing their mommy kissing Santa Claus...

My favorite part of the card (next to the look of complete and abject horror on The Teenager's face in the first picture) was the greeting:

We saw mommy kissing Santa was gross.

Best. Card. EVER.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sweeter Than Sugar Plums

The Man-Cub has recently acquired a new "girlfriend". Actually, she's an old girlfriend whom he has circled back to, as is normal in an eighth grade class numbering less than 80.

The "girlfriend" is the daughter of friends of ours and she is adorable. I have no problem seeing her and the Cub being lifetime friends, so, I didn't hesitate to agree when the Cub requested money with which to purchase her a Christmas gift.

The Cub ultimately picked out a small stuffed dog with the softest, fluffiest ears that I have ever felt. He had enough money left over to buy a plastic candy cane full of Hershey's Kisses which we tied to the dog with a red ribbon.

It snowed last night so the Cub asked for a ride to school which is how I gained the privilege of watching him surreptitiously stuff the dog under his coat upon exiting the car, because; he may be crazy about the girl buy he's not so crazy as to open himself up to the ridicule of the remaining members of the Fearsome Foursome.

Also, it was so cute, I died from the sweetness.

This might just be enough to make up for that chest hair he recently sprouted.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Blessings

The Man-Cub just informed me that he has a chest hair. That is soooo not what I asked for for Christmas.
The Teenager is deeply anxious about finals this week. It makes her less than pleasant to be around.
All things considered; I'll take my son growing up and maturing and my daughter rolling her eyes and sighing in my general direction, any day.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Be the Light

The weekend before last, as the Man-Cub and I exited Sam's Club, we happened into an argument between a middle-aged couple and an older woman. I have no idea what the argument was about, but, it was ugly. At one point, the male half of the middle aged couple dropped an F Bomb and I couldn't help but feel horrified. I mean, I am no stranger to the F Bomb; I am not, however, acquainted with the notion of hurling it at another human being, like, ever.

And, witnessing that altercation plunged me in into despair; ashamed for a society in which a peaceful holiday shopping trip could be interrupted by such a gross display.

It was at that point that the Man-Cub extracted a dollar bill from his pocket and made a beeline for a bright red Salvation Army kettle. It was the third bright red kettle that he had contributed to during our shopping trip that day and it was his last dollar.  When he bellowed "Merry Christmas!", in the way that only the Man-Cub can bellow, the older woman involved in the altercation smiled and  my heart rose up in my throat.

In that moment, with just that small gesture, the Cub restored the light to my day.

Recent events have threatened to  shake my faith in our society, yet again; darkness has tried to take hold of our world, and, it would be really easy to simply give up,  to wallow in the despair of it all.

But, while in line at the Starbucks drive-through yesterday, I had the opportunity to do something nice for a complete stranger; I took that opportunity and ran with it and, it felt good. It felt really good.

In that moment, I remembered something that I've always known in my heart; light will always defeat the darkness.

When in doubt, be the light.

Just be the light.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

27 Angels in His Kingdom, Tonight

It's really hard to whine about being behind on Christmas baking when so many parents are facing another night without their child.

My heart is broken for the families in Newtown, Connecticut and, today, I really would give my kingdom for just one more day; one more day for those parents to be able to hold their children. One more day for a disturbed young man to weigh his actions against his conscience.

Since we can't have that day, I will instead say another prayer for the families, as well as a prayer for the family of the shooter, and, a special prayer for the families of the teachers who shepherded their classes into the kingdom of Heaven, yesterday.

Peace on Earth, Lord.

We could really use it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Kingdom for One Extra Day

This morning, the Man-Cub cheerfully informed me that Christmas is just eleven days away! Eleven! Isn't that great, Mom?! would be, if, you know, I wasn't twelve days behind.

On the bright side, I managed to bake two batches of cookies last night and, with The Teenager's help, to dip chocolate covered pretzels and cinnamon bears (because cinnamon bears are tasty but chocolate-covered cinnamon bears are heavenly).

Later today, I am going to tackle the last two varieties of cookies and a couple of pans of fudge. Tomorrow I will make dark chocolate covered mint patties and wrangle the family into decorating the cut sugar cookies that I baked last night. It's all coming together, is what I'm saying.

And, at the rate that I am going, I should be totally prepared for Christmas by December 26th.

Oh, shit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Good to Have Goals

I am still woefully behind on my holiday baking. Despite having every intention of baking something each night this week; I have fallen short of my goals and baked nothing. It's becoming Situation Critical all up in here.

You know who isn't concerned in the least?

Dee Nyall.

He's all, "Heyyy, no worries; we're just chillin' in this giant wine glass. It's allll good."

Dee Nyall, you see, is not responsible for cookie baking, so, of course he has no worries. I should also point out that he is not "chillin" in a giant wine glass; I don't even own wine glasses that big. Which? Why don't I own wine glasses that big? I'm afraid I might be missing an opportunity, here.

And, I digress.

So, the plan for this evening involves a little quality time in the kitchen, SO HELP ME, GOD.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I just got home from my women's club's Christmas party. I say "Christmas" party because, in the end, despite all the kowtowing to the atheist and the tip-toeing around our sole Jewish member; I managed to wiggle Jesus into the festivities, making this year's party the first traditional Christmas celebration that we have enjoyed in years.

I can't take all the credit, though. The actual work was done in a round-about way, at the hands of a local vocal group who gifted us with a performance of some of their favorite songs. Or, as some people call them, carols.

However, while it is true that the majority of the songs were Christmas related, the group also sang a little ditty from The Beatles and a couple of old songs from popular musicals, so; there truly was something for everyone.

And, since the group had approached me with the offer of a serenade, free of charge as a way to thank our group for the many good works we do in our community; there was really no way for anyone to be put out by the performance without looking really, really ungrateful and, well, grinchy.

So, the Christians got their carols back, the non-Christians failed to burst into flame at the mention of holy nights, mangers and wise men, and, I made it through the whole thing without a single shot of whiskey or glass of wine.

Oh, I'm totally planning to have one, or the other, now, but, that is neither here nor there.

And I deserve it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Passing the Torch

The weekend was a blur of Christmas shopping, cookie baking, and family movie watching. I finally feel like I have got a decent start on my holiday chores, and as a result; am feeling slightly less stressed out than I was this time last week.

Of course, I still have five varieties of cookies to bake as well as two kinds of breads to bake, four kinds of candy to make, fifty Christmas cards to send out, three bottles of wine to consume, and, a million presents to wrap, so; my chores aren't anywhere near being done.

Ok, fine: drinking wine is hardly a chore. Thought I would sneak that one by you.

Speaking of sneaky things; the Man-Cub has taken the reigns on the whole Elf on a Shelf thing. He has come up with some really innovative poses for Dee Nyall, including this awesome scene that I discovered this morning:

Front view

Back view

The fact that my very best efforts involving Dee Nyall have involved him hanging in the Christmas tree leads me to admit that I have been bested by a fourteen year old boy.

 It's shameful, really.

On the other hand, I can't wait to see what the kid has up his sleeve for tomorrow. And, just like that, the student has become the Master.

Maybe it's not so shameful, after all.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

It snowed last night.

This morning, I went on a cookie-baking spree, and, I'm not done yet.


I think not.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Reindeer Games

I didn't bake cookies again last night, but, I had a good excuse, I did! I was at a jewelry party. With The Teenager and a couple of girls from work. SO, while I did not accomplish any holiday baking, I did manage to knock a few items off my stocking stuffers list.

Of course, Hugh would like to point out that you can't eat baubles and bracelets, but, I am just one woman and can only do so much. He will get his cookies, eventually. In fact, I totally plan to work on that this weekend.

After I do some shopping.

Besides, I am really enjoying the company of the ladies with whom I work, and, the holidays are the time to gather with friends, right? Right. Dee Nyall totally agrees with that sentiment.

He and a few of his friends got together last night to hang out on the mantle. Rumor has it they were bitching about the absence of cookies in the house as well. Of course, Hugh was the one to pass along that piece of information so, take it as you will.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

December 5th and Not a Cookie in the House

I intended to bake a batch or two of Christmas cookies last night, but, by the time I got home from work, the couch looked really inviting, and, before I knew it; I was cuddled up with a furry, purring cat, snoring away for all I was worth; maybe tonight.

Once I roused myself from my nap, I did manage to "hide" Dee Nyall for the Man-Cub to find this morning. It's day two and my creativity where this tradition is concerned is already lacking. This does not bode well for the remainder of the season.

Yeah, I'm hanging in the tree. How original.

Clearly, I'm going to have to step up my holiday game, and, I might as well start tonight; the night that the kids traditionally place their letters to Santa under their pillows for the elves to pick up. Wait, what's that? You thought that, since the kids no longer believe in the Big Guy that we would fore go this tradition? Oh, Hellz NO. There will be letters. There will be elf dust and chocolate coins. It. Is. Going. To. Be. AWESOME, SO HELP ME, GOD.

And, I will bake cookies, tonight.

I will.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Playing With My Elf

If you are a parent or grandparent of small children, or, if you have a Pinterest account and are not blind; you have learned about the Elf on a Shelf phenomenon. The elf is supposed to be a messenger to Santa, updating him on the activities of all good (or bad) little girls and boys. He's a mandatory reporter for the North Pole.

He is also rumored to be quite ornery, himself; getting into mischief and pulling pranks around the house; pranks that all good little boys and girls instinctively know will earn them no love from Santa.

As we all know, my kids have outgrown the Santa myth, so, you may be wondering why I am telling you all of this.

Well, I sort of refuse to believe that we are past the point of fun holiday traditions, so... our elf, Dee Nyall.

Dee Nyall is a-somewhat lame- attempt on my part to keep the Christmas magic alive for my children (or, for myself, DO NOT JUDGE ME!). He only recently moved in, so, we haven't really gotten a chance to know him very well, but I am working on it.

Last night, I took great pains to create a happy little elf tableau for the Cub to discover this morning, and, I thought I was being quite clever...

That's the postman from the North Pole! Dee Nyall stole his mail truck! Chaos! Naughtiness! Fun!


The Man-Cub discovered the scene this morning and made a few tweaks of his own...

I'm afraid it is going to be a long holiday season for Dee Nyall.

Monday, December 03, 2012

We Still Have 22 Days, No One Panic

Yesterday we took pictures for our Christmas cards and, I can honestly say; this year's card might be my favorite yet. For one thing, we are all in it and, that alone, is a scheduling miracle. For another thing, the card captures a look on The Teenager's face that is so classically teenager, I cackle with parental glee just looking at it. Suffice it to say, the card is unique and I can't wait to inflict them on my unsuspecting friends and family.

Speaking of mail; Hugh sent off my out-of-town packages today, allowing me to cross two whole items off my holiday chores checklist. We are on fire!

Really, we are. Never mind the fact that I have yet to start my baking; it will happen. It will. You know, eventually.

And, speaking of holiday chores, this is what Hugh arrived home to earlier this afternoon...

I bet you are thinking to yourself, "Oh, my goodness, how cute!"

Uh, huh.

Let's look at this picture from another perspective...

I'm going to kill them, dead. Dead, I say!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

T-Minus 24 and Counting

Christmas is practically around the corner and I have barely started on my chores. I do have all of my out-of-town presents purchased and I have every intention of having them wrapped, packaged, and, mailed by tomorrow.

I also intend to take our Christmas card pictures later today as well as getting a start on my baking, probably with a couple batches of easy cookies.

We already have the tree up and decorated and the front porch has been decked pretty well. I haven't bothered with my village yet, but, I intend to get around to it, eventually, so; my intentions are good.

You know where the path of good intentions usually leads, right?

Also, if I have to re-drape the garland on the bottom of the tree one more time; we might be two kitties short by Christmas. I swear, it's like having toddlers; we can't hang ornaments on the lower quarter of the tree, the tree skirt is constantly in a state of rumpleness, and, one of the little bastards (FINNIGAN) has diligently attempted to unwrap one of the two presents under the tree since they went under it last week. And, it isn't even his present!

Bah, humbug!

In brighter news, the Man-Cub's basketball team took second place at yesterday's league tournament. In even brighter news, that means the end of the season and a return to some free evenings and weekends! Winners, all around!

The Fearsome Foursome would have you know that they, too, are excited about this turn of events.

With all the free time that we are now about to have, we should be able to pull off yet another grand family Christmas. And, by "we", you know I mean "I".  Because of course I do.

24 days to go, my friends. The clock is ticking.