Morbid Nativity

So I made a nativity for my mom this Christmas (she’s only been begging me to for about seven years), and one of the wise man’s hands just wont stay on. The problem with red clay is that it bleeds. So I am left with this…

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until I can finish the whole project and stick wires in right before baking. Poor wise man. Just thought it too funny not to share.

(note, it’s not done yet. I’m that on top of it…)

 

Christmas

I usually make just about all of Christmas. This is the first year we’ve been fairly commercial about it. And honestly, though it was nice to sort of “catch up to the Joneses,” it made Christmas a little… artificial. Don’t get me wrong, we got lots of  cool stuff. And I do enjoy the stuff. But I will do better at being sane enough next Christmas to make a bit more.

We almost thought we’d have to spend Christmas in a hotel room this year because Ranger had to go on a business trip, but last minute, he was able to get off. It meant I had almost everything wrapped, but there were a few last minute items to wrap. Poor Ranger kept falling asleep while trying to wrap what little I had left, so it’s a good thing we were mostly covered.

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Christmas morning came, nice and early (just kidding. My kid always sleeps until 9, if I let her. Quite refreshing, actually).

Socks are never actually “hung” at our house. My family always over-loaded them, so the couch always seems to work better.

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Mommy’s pretty excited about the new brush. I’m hoping it means she’ll stop stealing mine.

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We went and saw Ranger’s family last night, in order to see Ranger’s brother, who was heading back out of town. Ranger’s Dad(‘s girlfriend…) gave her an 18″ doll. It came with an extra outfit, including an orange polka-dotty sock. She got the bright idea that Bella needed a sock out for Christmas, too.  As I already said, I had most of the gifts already wrapped, so Santa and I had to do a little negotiating to find something to stick in the sock. It’s full of soccer accessories. Totally works, in my opinion. Nothing like keeping the magic alive.

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Is it super lame that I’m actually excited about the spatulas in my sock? Grownup life. Gotta love it.

Every year (starting last year… WooOoo, long tradition, I know), we get some kind of glow sticks. last year, on a whim, I got one for Ranger, and one for my Little Miss in the shape of sword and princess-wand, respectively. They played with those silly things all morning, having “sword fights.” I absolutely melted over the bonding time. So this year, I decided it was a tradition. But we got flying disks, instead. It didn’t work out as well, though, because I lost a piece somewhere in the couch. Somewhere.

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Ranger’s sock is  backwards. Shows how tired I was. Normally I’m pretty OCD about that sort of thing.

My family of origin didn’t wrap anything in socks. Ranger’s family wrapped everything. So we compromised. I couldn’t handle wrapping toothbrushes, though; that’s just not something fun to unwrap. Ranger’s family never got hygiene products in their sock. That’s pretty much all ours ever was. It’s kind of fun blending different traditions and making them your own. It does make for much more wrapping, though.

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Ranger likes his **extremely heavy (broke a fingernail way past the quick trying to lift it. I’m just glad it wasn’t a finger. Seriously. This box weighed a TON)** Christmas present.

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Don’t I look cute and oh-so-awake on Christmas morning? I know you’re all so jealous.

Anyway, how was everyone else’s Christmas? Hope it went well. The rest of our day was spent hopping from one family gathering to another. That’s also something that will probably change next year. Live and learn.

Zingebar

We’ve been using a lot of ginger at our house lately. Not just because it’s Christmas time and ginger goes in Christmas recipes, but because it’s great at fighting illnesses. It’s anti-inflammatory, calms stomachs, and boosts immunity.

But we added it to the gingerbread houses because … yeah it’s Christmas, and gingerbread houses would not be the same without the ginger. It did mean we had to run to the store for more ginger, though. But now we’re back in shape. Which is a good thing because Ranger is suddenly getting hit hard with the sickness he’s been staving off until now.

luckily we all had a fairly healthy day to make these gingerbread houses. Especially because we had friends over.

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Please remember I’m a recovering sickie, and I just made a ginormous batch of gingerbread. Yes, this is how I look fairly often, but we’ll just blame a long day, right? Please? Humor me.

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My daughter is a traditionalist. All red and green and Candy canes. She hates candy canes, so she’s definitely going for more of the look here. Hasn’t quite figured out that she’s in charge of eating this creation afterwards. I think she likes everything but the candy canes, though, so she shouldn’t be in too poor of shape.
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ranger’s house from the back. He’s probably the only one who did the back. The rest of us were on a sugar high (which is really a sugar low) before we got that far.

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Ranger’s house. Note the added skylight? And the … um… garage? if there’s one thing I’ve learned about gingerbread houses it’s to never add more “glue” if you can avoid it, because it only acts as weight.

The other thing I’ve learned is to wait for your structure to dry a bit before adding candy. Or you’ll end up with something like this:

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She spent a while trying to save it, so I got a pic of it before it was crumbled in defeat.

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Our other friend’s turned out well though.

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I really need to learn how to hold still while taking pictures…

And last but not least… MINE!

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Any guesses who cared about making gingerbread houses in the first place?

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or who buys neccos every year just so she can use them as shingles in gingerbread land?

No guesses? Well, that’s okay. It’s a tough question.

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Now what do I do with all this extra candy I can’t eat?

Crazy Week

Last week was crazy. And not a week I want to relive. It wasn’t bad, and there were huge bright spots, but overall, the week was hard.

They totaled my husband’s car. The one he loves. The one he wanted to keep forever and ever and ever. And I know he’s bummed, but so am I! It was a pain in the snow, but we loved that beast. My daughter dreamed of driving it in her teen years (we didn’t ever agree to that, but might have considered it when her teen years were even tangible to us). It was the nicest car we’ve ever owned; including the new one we had just purchased THE DAY BEFORE. We’d almost had it paid off, too, and were NOT looking forward to another car payment. We would have much rathered them just fix it. I think it would have been cheaper for them.

And then there was that freak day when the power was out for over 50,000 people, including us. On the coldest day of the year. For the second year in a row.

It went off at 5:05, I woke up at 5:12 because something didn’t feel right (looked at my phone). Our house smelled strongly of really warm cardboard. With a warm smell and no power, that’ll set panic in like ice in a jello mold. First we checked to see if anyone else had power. That was a negative. Thought the stars looked amazing. So that meant it wasn’t just our house. But the smell! That was a huge red flag. So we go all over our house, upstairs and down, and feel walls, and everything seems normal. So I call my mom (isn’t that always the right answer?) and she can’t think of anything we missed. So I call Dad (the fireman. A natural first choice except he’s a dad and not a mom). And we again go all over my house. I feel the vents: very warm. That’s odd to me since the rest of my house is freezing (the heat in my house is turned down overnight and then kicks on at – you guessed it – 5:00). So I take dad-via-phone-lines downstairs by the furnace and still can’t find a problem. But upstairs (where all the vents are) smells awful and downstairs (with only 2 vents) doesn’t smell at all. So we get to talking, and decide that 1) if it was an emergency, we’d know by now, and 2) our furnace is gas-powered and the ignition/controls/fans are electric. We assume that what happened is that the power was on to start the furnace on schedule, and then went out while it was going. The fans can’t run without power, so the heat all stayed inside the furnace. THANK HEAVENS there’s an automatic emergency shutoff when it gets too hot inside a furnace. I am guessing that is what woke me up in a panic. It probably made a noise when it shut off.

So I threw another blanket on the bed and a thick one on top of my child, and went back to bed. They canceled school, so I was determined to sleep in. About an hour later, she comes in and says “mom, it’s cold.” Uh… yeah, kid! That’s why you have another blanket. I don’t think she was really awake. She got back into bed, and slept another hour. When she did get up she grabbed a few books and a blanket and curled up on my floor until the power came back on. What a day.

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For the rest of the week, I’ve been nursing an ear infection. I’ve learned tons of homeopathic ear treatments (most antibiotics don’t agree with me), and combining them all, I think they’re helping. One at a time wasn’t cutting it, though. I think most of it is that when I’m stressed I’m a wimp when it comes to physical pain. I’m guessing this earache is about 75% mental. So I’ve spent most of the weekend holed up watching mind-numbing TV and movies while I put therapeutic drops in my ears. I did take a break from nursing an earache to hang out with a friend’s family yesterday and barely felt the ache at all (because the 75% mental wasn’t there), so huge improvement. I bet a couple more days of babying it and I’ll be fully recovered.
In between power outages and ear pains, though, we’ve had tons of fun. We put up the rest of the Christmas decorations,

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(the wise men aren’t by the nativity yet. It bugs me when they’re all standing around, because the wise men didn’t show up for 2 years! And I love that the shepheards were the ones notified. It is just like the way the gospel works that of all the men that angels could have appeared to, God chose to have them come to humble shepherds that tended the temple sheep. That’s my favorite part of the story. Those wise men will have to wait their turn)

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(This is my favorite nativity. I bought it at the dollar store years ago and I absolutely LOVE it.)

we baked cookies,
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and we made snow angels.
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My daughter was so excited to make snowmen in the snow and wasn’t pleased that it wasn’t snowman snow. Winter is her favorite season just for the snowmen. When she realized it wasn’t snowman snow, she decided that it was still adequate for snow angels, and she’s right. Fluffy snow is perfect for snow angels.

Tannenbaum Take Deux

How’s that for a mixed language title.

So I broke down and put up the other tree. And I’m happy I did. I stole some ornaments from the front tree and moved them to the back and both look much better. I also managed to use up every ornament and I’m happy about that, too! Why do I have so many ornaments!? Oh yeah, it’s because I hate decorating the tree the exact same way twice.

Here’s our old tree, now in the kitchen. It makes the house super festive even without too much decor.

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Who knew red and purple made such a cute Christmas tree? I strung colored lights to help with the dead spot. You can still see the dead, but at least there’s a twinkle there now. And I’ve never had a tree with colored lights since I’ve had my own tree. It is whimsical. I think it only works because the ornaments are red and gold and purple.

I stole all the red ornaments off the front tree and loaded it with more blue instead, and I’m much happier with it now. The red was just too much. But with only one tree, the red had memories I didn’t want to leave off. With 2 trees I could just divide the memories. Problem solved.

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(okay, there is still one red on the front tree, but I decided it needed to be there. Too special of memories).

Tannenbaum

It’s the 3rd of December. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m no where close to completing my yearly goals (and yes, I usually keep them). I’m not so sure on this Christmas shopping thing (seriously… this is the first year since I’ve had my own income (and probably my first year PERIOD) that we’re not totally broke. I mean, we’re verrrry far from rolling in the dough, but we’re not broke. I’ve never really had to budget when a budget is even reasonable and I’m so nervous. Every other year of my life, Christmas has been almost entirely homemade. That’s what Christmas is to me. Homemade shirts, hats, toys; the works. And mom would always top it off with Forgotten Carols and A Homemade Christmas by Alma Yates. But this year, I just don’t have it in me. I’ve got so much I’d like to get done and I’m still 2 months behind from an incredibly intense canning season that lasted 2 months too long. So this year, most of the things are purchased. And like I said, I’m feeling out of my element. Everything feels so empty! And expensive. It has given me more time to devote to getting the tree up on time, though.

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January 2013 134
Last year’s tree with the burned-out strip

This tree is HUGE! According to the box it’s no bigger than the one I had last year, (—->) but with it’s major fullness and super-loaded branches, it takes up a much larger space than I imagined. Last year, we tried to finally figure out which light was causing an entire 5-inch section of the tree to remain unlit. We replaced practically every bulb in the section. At least of the ones we could find. I’m sure we missed a ton. We at least missed the one that was causing the whole short. Or the more-than-one.

If I’m being honest here, the burned out row is not new to this year… But it is the first year we tried to remedy the problem. Needless to say, it took us all day.

Interestingly enough, We found our way to a great steal on a replacement before the season was up, but I wasn’t about to un-decorate a tree just to decorate another one (even though I do love decorating the tree, I want it to last a while), so we stuck it out with our ghetto tree one more year. We actually bought our new one off the back of a truck (no joke. the truck driver was overweight and facing a hefty fine if he didn’t remove some merchandise). I don’t remember exactly how much we paid, but I think it was around $50. As I’m assembling the tree this year, I’m pretty sure this isn’t a bottom-of-the-line, $50 tree. Or even a $100 tree.  It’s got different variations of needles, individual branches. And have I mentioned fullness?And guess what? It’s not pre-lit! No more rows of lights burning out!

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I didn’t do so well at getting lights all the way through it, and this picture doesn’t do it justice, but I’m happy with this year’s tree. I usually try to come up with a “theme” that speaks to me when I open the Christmas ornament box, and this year started out blue, but it ended up more of a hodge-podge tree. And that’s okay. It’s more personal. And I still ended up with my favorite ornaments on it.

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The blue Mardi Gras ornament in the middle of the glare was purchased on our honeymoon. The crocheted white snowflake is from my dear friend’s sister (who is also a dear friend. They’re pretty spread apart age-wise, and I’m right in the middle, so they call me the middle sister). And the brown nativity is from Israeli olive trees. And the thin icicles are heirloom. Kind of. My mother always had them on our tree growing up, and they were always my favorite. I looked and looked for good icicles like the ones from my childhood and couldn’t find any I liked as well as those. One day my mother saw a box of them for sale somewhere and snatched them up for me. Best Christmas present ever! Lets see… Oh the pears were left for us once by a Secret Santa.

I think my favorite part about Christmas is the Christmas trees. Everyone’s tree has a story to tell. And I love the blank canvas to decorate. I have to try really hard not to micromanage the design of it all. And I usually do pretty well. Occasionally, I’ve been known to move some ornaments while the kiddo’s asleep. I now I shouldn’t but that hasn’t stopped me. Believe me, it’s a huge sign of love that I even let people help. I’ve thought about using my spare tree (with the missing row) as a kid tree, but now that she’s eight, she’s really not leaving me anything to rearrange. I might set it up just so we have 2 trees to decorate, though. Except then I have 2 trees to take down. And last year while I took the tree down, it ate my ring and I had to spend hours figuring out which branch it fell to (moral of the story: don’t procrastinate re-sizing your ring… that I’ve still not re-sized).

Oh, and a side note: I’m wearing off on my kid. Go figure, right? The other day while we were walking around, she says to me “Mom, I know why Christmas is green and red.” I asked her why. “Because red is for blood and green is for life. Jesus gave both of those.” I’ve talked about that before, so I thought she might have gotten it from an old family home evening lesson. I asked her how she came up with something so smart and she said it just made sense. Her symbolism-loving mother is giggling at her mommy powers while absolutely loving the symbols she’s able to draw this Christmas.