Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

After initial worries that Santa was going to seem "cheap" this year, we actually had a very nice Christmas. Once all the gifts were under the tree, all was well. I was grateful to extended family who sent gifts to the boys. Plus Daddy did an excellent job of last minute shoppery so that Santa could stuff the stockings to the bursting point.

Because of my MIL's boycott on Christmas cookie baking last year (oh it was TRAGIC!), I got ambitious and made cookies myself this year. The plan was for the boys and Nana (my mom) to help me decorate the cookies with icing and sprinkles. Sadly, we were too busy and the cookies were forgotten until after my parents left today.

Tyler was a little frustrated that he couldn't control the icing bag to his perfectionist satisfaction and gave up after three cookies (they looked terrific, by the way). Max was handed cookies that were pre-iced (yeah, I'm not crazy) and he proceeded to take each of his variety of sprinkle cups and dump them ALL onto his first batch of cookies. That was pretty funny. Then he was done. That left me to finish the remainder of the 3 dozen sugar cookies myself. It was tedious work, but fun! When I brought the tray full of cookie art back into the kitchen, I made a comment to John about bringing some of them plus the 2 dozen oatmeal/peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies I'd made on Christmas eve over to my MIL's for Christmas Part Deux.

He paused with a funny look on his face and said, "OK...but you know my mom made cookies this year, right?"


So much for me being the cookie savior this year. LOL! Back later with photos. It's time now for a Mario Kart showdown between Tyler and I. He's going to eat my Wii dust!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Regift Rules

When John and I got married, an old high school buddy of his gifted us with an electric can opener. When I opened the box, I found an appliance in a color that was popular about two decades earlier and there was a wedding gift card inside with a note for "Sam and Elena" to enjoy it in good health.* We giggled over that regift for a long time and were thrilled that the retro opener actually looked great in our seriously outdated rental kitchen.

*names changed to protect the guilty

AOL had a feature on regifting horror stories on their homepage today and it inspired me to start a list of regifting rules, just in time for this gift-giving season:

1. Check the box carefully to be sure there are no gift cards thoughtfully enclosed.
2. Be sure there are no incriminating shipping labels affixed to the outside of the box.
3. Check the item to make sure it's not a collectible with a date on the bottom (unless the recipient collects that sort of thing). Nothing like getting a nice Christmas ornament as a gift then finding out is says "1993" on the back.
4. In addition to dates, check for personalization. Don't regift that nice coffeetable book that didn't fit on your coffeetable without checking inside the covers for a note.
5. Confer with household members to be certain you don't re-gift an item to the person who gave it to you/them in the first place.
6. If the item has been in the attic for a number of years, ask for a second opinion on if the item is "retro" and "back in style" or just OLD and DATED.
7. When you check inside the box for that thoughtfully enclosed gift card, also check to be sure all the parts of the gift are still in the box and that the item doesn't look "used" in some way.

Can you think of anything to add to this list?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rigging up the lights...

Happy Holidays everyone! Is everyone in the holiday spirit yet? Hello? *tap tap* Is this thing on?

I know, I know. I hear ya. Poor John spent most of the afternoon going through 500 white twinkle lights on our pre-strung tree trying to find out why most of the strands are no longer lighting up. I spent a good chunk of that time trying to keep Max out of his way. Not easy when you have a 2 year old who has no memory of a tree in his living room. It's fascinating stuff!

The rest of the late afternoon and into this evening, I've been gathering addresses from the remote corners of the house and my computer to update the file that contains my Christmas card address labels. I have mixed emotions going through each name. Some make me smile as I think about the card I've already received from them, if they are happy in their new home, or just general happiness that I'll soon reconnect in some small way with that person or family. Some make me sad as I alter the labels to reflect the losses that happened over the past year (two family members lost husbands).

Once the address labels are in place, it's time to stuff the cards. As I look at the smiling faces of my two boys, I recall the pains I took (and they endured) to get the perfect holiday card photo. My poor kids! I bought special matching outfits (a now annual tradition), dressed them up during our recent mini-vacation to celebrate their birthdays, posed them in various arrangements in front of the pretty fireplace at the lodge, and struggled to get them both to look at me AND smile at the same time. No easy feat! They fought me every step of the way...but it doesn't show in the end result.

Will this discourage me from making a similar effort for next year's holiday card? Nope. I put up with the same pains when I was a kid - the itchy wool, mall Santas with the smell of booze on their breath, my brother kicking me in the shins, mom licking a tissue to wipe a smudge off my face or licking her hand and smoothing down my fine flyaway hair, being posed again and again, forced to act affectionate to my pesky little brother when all I REALLY wanted to do was kick him back (love ya Mike!) Ah memories.

If you are lucky enough to receive a card from me this year, please take an extra moment or two to admire the artistry and effort that went into making it. Ha Ha! No seriously. And I apologize for not doing a newsletter this year (the first year in a 10+ year streak of newsletter writing.) I went back through my blog and photos from the past 12 months and realized that nothing really interesting happened to us this year. That's not a bad thing! I'll take a news free year over one full of health woes, job loss/stress, major life changes or lots of travel for a nice change of pace. Boring is good!

OK. Enough stalling. Back to stuffing envelopes full of holiday love and cheer sealed with a generous helping of Tyler's spit.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Tyler turns 7 today (at 11:03pm PST). Tyler requested Red Lobster for dinner (he ate 5 cheddar bay biscuits by himself), we sang to him while he blew out a candle on his cupcake, then I watched him open gifts from his grandma, birth-grandma, and his parents. He was over-joyed with everything and spent an hour on the playroom PC setting up one of his gifts (thanks Karen!) Then he and Max studied the box that contained the gift from John and I and they discussed which Pokemon they would cook up tomorrow after school. I love watching the boys commiserate. It's charming to observe and makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I wish they got along that well all the time!

I am soooo far behind in my photo sharing. Hundreds of photos sit on my camera waiting to be offloaded to my PC. My monitor died and I had to wait for the new one to arrive. Then we went out of town for several days, I got sick... yadda yadda. I need a vacation. But Christmas is at our house this year, Tyler's big birthday party is this Sunday, the house is a wreck and I'm still sick. So yes. I am stressing a bit. I wish I had a disintegrator device of some kind so I could just make half the clutter in this house simply vanish without a trace.