And Christmas Came Early
After two very long, messy, loud days, I declared that we should just open presents and get it over with (thinking that maybe this would eliminate my kids' pre-Christmas restlessness and general over-excitement).

So, last night, by the light of our lopsided Christmas tree, and with much anticipation, we opened our presents. (To be honest, I don't know why they got so excited as we didn't go all out on presents this year.)

Oh, the candy pandemonium brought on by Grandma Deb and Grandpa John's stockings! The Legos and Beyblades were well-received too.

And, with all the happy elves floating around the house after that, someone had to be Scrooge, so I took that role for myself.

I was telling my sister Whitney today that there is something about extended vacations from school that make me grouchy. Maybe it's because everyone is in la-la land, happily enjoying their time off, but I'm not off. Very not off. In fact, my job is multiplied as I am constantly cleaning up after everybody. I know, I know, I just need to let the house go and enjoy the time with them. And, that's what I should do. I think that's what my Mom would tell me to do. I just don't want my house to fall apart, because when those metal-bottomed Beyblades are whizzing around, being chucked from the highest heights, I sometimes feel like it will. I am not good at relaxing. It seems counterintuitive with a houseful of noisy kids. But, they are mine and I love them, so I guess I'll just have to follow the motto of my college roommate Stephanie: "Fake it 'til you make it."

Having typed these thoughts out, I think I can make it through Christmas vacation. Day by day. Baby steps. And a little fudge and caramel pretzel rods in those days and steps wouldn't hurt either.


Lil' Lucy's Poor Finger
Last night as I was making white chicken chili for dinner, Lucy fileted her finger while trying to pull the lid off a can of beans. The tip of her pointer finger got stuck between the sharp edge of the opened can and the inside edge of the can. I couldn't get her finger out, so she took the can and got it out by herself. She was a tough girl all the way through the 3.5 hour trip to the E.R., the shots of sleepy medicine, the I.V. to sedate her, the 13 stitches and then waking up and coming home (after going through the drive-thru at Dairy Queen for a Blizzard). When we went to the doctor's office for a follow-up visit today, she pulled the bandage off and saw her stitched-up finger for the first time. She was horrified. She started crying and asking all sorts of questions. It did look pretty gruesome, lots of black, spikey knots of suture and red, swollen skin.
But, she is a trooper and she had a pretty normal day today, even helping me through the whole process of making sugar cookies for Finn's classroom. Her bandage got tinted with red, not blood, but frosting.

And, here she is! Hooray for recoveries! Hooray that whole terrifying ordeal is overwith! Hooray for modern anaesthetics! And, hooray for Santa sugar cookies!


Moving the Cabinets
A while back I posted about wanting to move the set of long kitchen cabinets into the dining room. We finally got around to it and it makes such a difference. There's alot more space in the kitchen for the resident munchkins to do their thing. And, the vast amount of unused space in the dining room is now being put to better use. A win-win.

After lots of reshuffling, removing, repositioning and shifting, we got everything back to where it belonged. These projects provide constant change around this place.

We also, or should I say Travis, put up crown molding along all the cabinet tops. We found the molding in the garage, so it was a free but dramatic change. I love how it gives the cabinets a finished look.


Decking the Halls
Not with boughs of holly, but with evergreen boughs, pine cones and branches.

I made a double-wired wreath out of wire clothes hangers, then wired the pine boughs to it for this wreath. I added a few small pine cones and the ribbon, and it was done.

Lucy and I made this mitten advent calendar garland this week. The worst part was turning the mittens outside-in after sewing them, and Lucy stayed the course, doing most of them herself. I ironed-on numbers, cut slits in the back for the yarn to string them, then filled them with candy after hanging it. I'm glad I don't make mittens for a living though. Tedious work.

A pine garland for the kitchen windows. For this, I just used leftover boughs from our tree, wiring together small bunches with florists' wire. I wired on a few pine cones, added lights and bows for a very inexpensive decoration.

It's amazing what a little greenery and lights can do to make it feel more Christmas-y.
Office Christmas Dinner
On the menu: Olive Garden salad, Chicken Cordon Bleu, mashed potatoes with chicken gravy, green beans, homemade rolls, and poached pears with custard sauce.
I made a last-minute run to the Dollar Store for those goblets that, in the words of Travis, "Look like they came from a grandma's attic in the 70's." I took that as a compliment and on the table they went.

The two ladies in the picture are the ones who keep T. Schuller on track and they make a great team. It was a fun evening. Here's an excerpt about it from my weekly family letter:
"I accidentally heated the oil up too hot for the chicken, charring the first batch, but then managed to save the rest of them, giving us just enough for everyone. Lucy and Miles got hold of the charred chicken while we were eating in the other room, and were holding it like a burrito, eating it without a thought."
This, for me, kick-started the holiday season. Let the festivities begin!
Cutting the Tree
Stretching out in all directions of this little town are forests, with lots of little trees that could make great Christmas trees.
So, with our $5 "Forest Service Christmas Tree Permit" in hand, we set out amongst the pines to find the perfect tree.
It looked like a perfectly symmetrical conifer among the other giant evergreens. That's the one, I said, and Travis made light work of getting it to the ground with his chainsaw.
The drive home: Lucy smiling because she is the lucky front-seat rider, and a Little Red Riding Hood one, at that.

The pre-twilight skies and scenery.
Everyone's favorite part is putting on the ornaments. Before the lights were hung, I kept having to remind them, No, no ornaments until the lights are up.
And here she is, a little skaddywompous Charlie-Brown-like, but our tree nonetheless. I don't think I'll ever tire of the magic of a white-lit Christmas tree.