Friday, December 31

Smile; it's a good thing!

I feel like I'm safe in saying it now, because there are all but 30 minutes until the year is done. Thank you, everyone I know and love, for not dying this year. 2010 has the dubious distinction of being the first year in four years in which I have not had to deal emotionally with the death of a loved one. I know I asked you all at the beginning of the year to not die, and I really, really appreciate you indulging me in this.
I understand that it's been a long year, and that a lot has happened, but I thank you for keeping me in mind regularly, and knowing that dying is just not an option, because Kimmie would not be happy about it. That resolution though, that I asked of you, will be requested of you again as we all head into 2011. I'd hate for 2010 to be the anomaly year in which no one died, rather than the year in which we breathe easier in the knowledge that, from now on, we've got a few years to not have to worry about someone dying. (I won't be naive and suggest that no one in my circle ever will die, but please, a couple years would be awesome.)
So, thanks for staying alive everyone! You rock!

Happy New Year, 2011!!

I've got a random list of wants for my New Year's Eve tonight. In no particular order:
1.) Mulling cider. We've had the quart of cider waiting on the counter since Christmas, and I bought fresh mulling spices a few weeks before that. Also, we've got some nice, new cinnamon sticks to put in the mugs. I need to get that heating, because only by starting this afternoon will we be able to get through all the cider tonight!
2.) Popcorn. Every decent holiday deserves a fresh batch of popcorn. No one else in the house likes the way I make it, which I find completely bizarre, since my popcorn is AWESOME, so I get to eat it all myself.
3.) Movie. I have no idea which movie we'll watch tonight, but we're watching one. The movie, of course, will have to be watched before the ball drops, because watching the ball drop is a train wreck that simply must be viewed. It's the perfect way to end a year.
4.) Bizarre dinner made up of what's left in the kitchen. We really don't have a menu for the evening's meal, and I'm okay with that. Maybe we'll go pick something up once Brian gets home.
5.) Resolutions. I probably won't have started on any resolutions, since the new year doesn't really start until you wake up on January 1, but I would like to have a good idea of what all those resolutions will be.
6.) Optimism. I have a really good feeling about 2011, and I'm excited to get started on it.

Thursday, December 30

All I want is a ringtone, pleeze!

I'm getting frustrated with iTunes. It doesn't take a lot to get frustrated with iTunes, but tonight, my tolerance level is at an all-time low. The source of my frustration? Ringtones. I want nothing more than a Katy Perry ringtone for my phone. My iTunes is not allowing this. More than that, my iTunes is not allowing any ringtone production at all. I don't require a lot from my technology, in general. But I do require that it, you know, do what I want it to when I want it to. And this temper tantrum from my iTunes store is pissing me off. It's like, daring me to figure out exactly why it's feeling sassy and uncooperative. It's taunting me, really, because the Help menu in iTunes is giving me some very specific and, seemingly, easy instructions to fix the issue, but the menu options I'm being told are available, actually are not there at all. Once again, frustrated.
Also, I've figured out the two things I want for my birthday. And if you can believe it, they're both kitchen appliances. 1.) Cuisinart's CleanWater 2-gallon counter-top water filtration system. It has to be the 2-gallon, because that supports the instant hot, cold and room temperature water dispenser. Oh yeah, and filters for it, too, please. 2.) Keurig Elite Brewing System. This is the lesser of the fancy models, with two different cup sizes to choose from, and the ability to accommodate travel mugs. I feel like we need an easier way of making our hot chocolate and coffee whenever we're thirsty for it.
Then, I could at least be enjoying some delicious hot chocolate while I was screaming at iTunes.

Flamingos in the snow!

My resolution list is growing, fast and definitive. I just hope I can keep up with it. But on the up side, most of my resolutions are promises I've made to myself, and just kind of lost sight of over the last year, or even, two. A couple have already been put into effect, in regards to Sydney, of course. Not that she understands resolutions, but she does understand when Mommy changes the routine. 1.) Bedtime preparations begin at 8 p.m. sharp. 2.) No more kiddy television after 7 p.m. By that time, you know, the sounds and words from talking puppets starts to get really, really irritating.
The resolutions for myself also are in the works:
More daily water intake. I used to drink much more water than I do now, and I need to get back into that habit. I am reminded of this by the foot cramp I am experiencing right this moment, and how drinking more water makes the cramp go away.
Back to the gym for cardio. Must, must, must get back into shape.
Read a book a month. I resolved to do this last year, and I did it. I read more than 13 books through the year, and feel like a better person because of that. So, back onto that wagon.

Wednesday, December 29

Resolution: No more whining about weather

So, I've been listening to the pitter patter of the raindrops all day, and I have to say, it's been pretty nice.
I miss weather.
I know this isn't the first time I've said it, nor is it the last time I will. Unfortunately, whining about the weather I'm in, or not in, apparently, is one of my things.
I wonder when that happened. The whining. ... Hmmm ... it must have something to do with Arizona. I remember when Mom, Howie and I came out here for my first semester at school, and, in August, we bought me a jacket ... just in case. And then we laughed about it, because really, in August, who imagines that it could ever get cold enough here for a jacket. Well, of course, in the course of that semester, it got pretty chilly here, and that jacket came in very, very handy. (Side note: I still have that jacket, and will never, ever get rid of it.) But it wasn't the cold that began my like for complaining about the weather. I'm sure it had more to do with the summer. And continued to have more to do with the summer in Arizona. But then came the winters in Boston, and I was able to roll from one extreme to the other.
And here I am, back in Arizona, whining about my summers, and whining about my lack of winters. Weird.
I'm done now.
Remember how much I am enjoying the rain?

Getting ready for the New Year

Well, I certainly took a break for the holiday, didn't I? It was not at all intentional. Instead, we'll call it a casualty of Christmas, wherein I wanted to blog, but simply didn't have the energy, time or, let's face it, inclination, to do so. Still, it was a great holiday for me and mine, and I hope it was for you, too.
I only have a few minutes to type something up, as Sydney has set a timer on our morning preparations, and I only have minutes to get ready for the zoo. A timer. Really. For whatever reason, it was set for 38 minutes. So I figure I've got about 27 minutes right now. I should get going.
I cleaned out my "Blog Photos" folder on my computer's desktop a couple days ago, and am pleasantly surprised to find this season-appropriate image still in there.
Also, I resolve to have a cleaned-out e-mail inbox for the New Year, so no one e-mail me with anything until after January 2, okay?

Wednesday, December 22

Countdown to Christmas: 3 days

I think I've got everything in my house that needs to be wrapped for Christmas wrapped for Christmas. Most everything is now out of Mom's closet in the guest room, and I've got a nice pile of gifts under the tree. Yay!!
What I've got going on right at this moment though is the pitter patter of raindrops on my skylights and windows. I'm loving it. I prefer a little bit of weather in my winter. Arizona's been pretty boring lately. Not to mention that it's been warm, as well.
I gave baths to both of my dogs today. I haven't ever done that, and it was not as painful as I had imagined it would have been. Sydney got to choose who went first, and she picked Daisy. Which, in retrospect, I'm glad for, because if Daisy was a minimal struggle, Oliver was no struggle at all. Brian declared shenanigans on Oliver behaving for the bath, but I consider his good attitude a function of the fact that his mommy was giving the bath.
Tomorrow, the last of my Christmas shopping, and Mom arrives in town. Christmas is upon us!!

Monday, December 20

I take my calendars VERY seriously

Brian and I like having a Boston wall calendar in the kitchen. Every year, since 2003, we've had a particularly beautiful calendar from that city in our home. When we lived in Boston, it was easy to come across these calendars. In Arizona? Well, not so much.
So every year for the last five years, I've had to order the calendar from Barnes & Noble. B&N, usually, is right quick about getting books and calendars to the customer, or so that has been my experience. This year though, is bordering on the ridiculous.
Witness my frustration:
I ordered the calendar on the website on December 7. On December 10, I got an e-mail shipping confirmation, that the calendar was being shipped via ARGIX-USPS from New Jersey. It is now December 20, and I still don't have the calendar. The timeline, according to my "tracker": Calendar left New Jersey on Dec. 10; Arrived in Denver on Dec. 13; Left Denver on Dec. 14; Arrived in Phoenix on Dec. 20. Six days to get to Phoenix from Denver??!! What the hell??!!
I honestly believe that Barnes & Noble may be the only vendor employing the Pony Express this holiday season. Because this is crazy. Anyway, here's the e-mail I just sent to B&N's customer service department.

Good evening~
I'd like to lodge a complaint about your shipping service, ARGIX-USPS. I am having a real hard time understanding why a calendar that was shipped 10 days ago, according to the tracker, STILL has not arrived at my home. I understand that the United States Post Office also is involved in this particular shipping. The USPS can get an envelope from one side of the country to the other in three days. How is it that a shipping service AND the post office seem to be incapable of shipping a calendar from New Jersey to Phoenix in, at the least, 10 days?
The delay on getting this calendar is unacceptable.

As a website devoted to getting products to customers in a timely manner, as well as keeping them happy, you should be working with a more dependable and FASTER shipping service.

So, bets on the response I get? If any?

Sunday, December 19

Christmas is coming!!

So, we've had a perfectly lovely visit out to Cali, but it's time to head back to the desert tomorrow morning. It should be raining for the entire drive, but you know, whatever. Done and done, and we'll be home. Sydney certainly is heading back to her house with a sizable haul of gifts. Favorites: Hungry, Hungry Hippos; Buzz Lightyear doll; Lite Brite; and dinosaur books. Most everyone did really well for her this year, which is the case when she has definite things that she's into.
At any rate, tomorrow afternoon begins the list of stuff for Christmas, including and consisting primarily of one task: wrapping. I still have a couple things to pick up here and there, but for the most part, I'm pretty well done. Yay!!
I hope y'all had a good weekend!!

Saturday, December 18

PLEASE go on the Buzz ride with Mommy!

Tired. Tired. Tired.
It rained at Disneyland today, but we still had a lovely time. In fact, we were there at 8 a.m. when it opened, and were the first people on the Winnie the Pooh ride. The staff there even offered for us to ride the ride again ... without getting off it ... and Sydney said, no, she didn't want to ride it again. Wait. What? Really? We can just stay put on a DISNEY RIDE and not get off to ride it again??!! Clearly, the baby had no idea about the significance of this event, because she still was all, no, I don't want to go on it again. So, we got off, and proceeded to walk onto other rides instead. I did take her on Big Mountain Railroad -- her first big-kid roller coaster -- and she had a blast on that. We hit a couple rides in Fantasyland, but I have to tell you, I was a little disappointed in my baby girl at the D-land. She didn't want to go on anything! We had to talk her into going on "It's a Small World," the submarine ride, and Buzz Lightyear. Talk about your buzz kill. I had hopes for a day full of riding everything, and instead had to bribe, argue and cajole her into going on some of mine and Mom's favorite rides. Boo! She had better be over this by the next trip, that's all I have to say. Or we'll start leaving her home with Brian!

Wednesday, December 15


Of all the things I like to say in my life, "I'm going to Disneyland" ranks among the highest on my happiness scale. And that I get to say it because we're going tomorrow makes it even better. Yay to Mom, Sydney and I!! Yay Disneyland!!
It makes for a very special and awesome way to begin our holiday visit to California, yes? I think so. Can't wait!! Of course, I'll be getting up at 5 a.m. tomorrow morning so Sydney and I can be on the road at 6 a.m., so as to get there with enough time for almost-a-full day at California Adventure. And then, the main park on Friday. This, I hope, will be as awesome a visit as we had last year, though it was before Thanksgiving.
At any rate, we're going to Disneyland!!

Tuesday, December 14

Shady, shady people out there

Public Service Announcement ... for, you know, the people that read my blog.
I got an e-mail tonight from "Bank Of America" telling me that my checking account may have been compromised, and that I needed to click to go to another web page to reactivate it. On that page, it requested my screen name and password to reactivate the account. My browser, luckily, threw up a warning that the site I was trying to get to was a known phishing site, and to be very careful and sure of what I was doing. Having seen that warning, I spent another moment reading the initial e-mail, which, of course, had a couple errors in it that reaffirmed to me that the e-mail itself was bullshit.
First, and everyone please note this, Bank of America does NOT capitalize "of." They never make this error. If you see it, stay away.
Second, the e-mail used "some one" instead of "someone." Another error, this one a more obvious spelling mistake.
Third, a funky grammatically odd sentence in the text of the e-mail.
The takeaway here is that, when you get an e-mail like this, spend the extra time to read it carefully, and notice everything about it. I don't know if I would have caught all this if the browser warning hadn't popped up, but I'm glad I had the chance to re-read the text and get to the bottom of this issue.
So, please, please, please keep an eye open for these kinds of things. These people are smart, clever and incredibly tricky. Keep your head about you, and take the extra moments to read any e-mails from "your bank" incredibly carefully, especially if they want you to go to another site and give away any of your personal information.

Monday, December 13

No more warm!

I like this picture. It's like the polar bear is all, "Stop! Polar time!!"
I wish I could say that this bear, and the snow it's playing in, was analogous to the weather here in Arizona. I really do wish I could. But no, we've been dealing with record-high temperatures here. In fact, today, it reached 81 degrees in Phoenix. There is something very wrong with that, especially when you consider that this is mid-December. You see all that sow in the middle of the country? We could use some of that coolness. It doesn't make for a very Christmas-y Christmas spirit when the sun is shining and the air is warm. For weather on the holidays like this, I'd rather be in Hawaii!

Sunday, December 12

Santas skiing down a mountain

I had a lovely weekend, you know. This morning, we had an impromptu brunch with my dear friend, Roberta, and her family. I love surprising social events, and this morning's brunch was no different. Such a lovely day. Following lunch, Brian, Sydney and I made our way to Old Navy to get the kiddo some long-sleeved shirts. The plan was to go to the mall after Old Navy, but my maybe getting a red-light flash ticket on the way to the mall killed the mood, and instead, we just came home.
But at home, having gotten over the maybe-a-ticket, Brian made the beginnings of bread pudding, which I didn't think anyone could make any worse beyond the fact that it's bread pudding, but that he intends to make worse by adding banana. I was more helpful than he thought I would be, so he was in a much better frame of mind the rest of the afternoon.
Then, we watched Eclipse. Anyway, I have a plan for tomorrow, and hope to be done with all my Christmas shopping this week. Yay me!!

Saturday, December 11

SOUP AND COOKIES ... er, brownies

I love my friend, Maria. I'm horrified to realize that, before tonight, I had not seen her since last year. Maria and her main man, Doug, host a Cookie and Soup Party every December. The party actually started as a cookie exchange, which it really still is, but they always have the most delicious soups for dinner there, too. So I have, in my head, dubbed it the Cookie and Soup Party.
Tonight I brought brownies for my exchange food. I've brought peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies, but today I thought, no, I'll bring brownies. I had a wonderful creamy chicken noodle soup, and a white bean and something chili that also was very good.
But, like I said, I was upset to realize that I haven't seen Maria since last year's party. This is bad on a few fronts: 1.) We only live 30 minutes apart. 2.) With few real friends in the area, I should be better about seeing the ones that I have. 3.) Maria is one of those people that makes me feel privileged that she has chosen me to be a friend. She's such an angel, and I'm truly lucky to have her in my life. So, I should really be better about seeing her.
We have decided on brunch, early in the new year, when Sydney's at school. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to catching up with her, with a real chat.

Friday, December 10

Better in New York

Well, I think I see why Sex and the City 2 got such icky reviews. It just seemed so ... cheesy. And even though they mentioned in the movie how awful the "economy" was, it was still vaguely unsettling to see such disregard for money. Granted, it's a movie. And I'm all about that. But really, it just made me envious! Also, I just didn't like the writing. Weirdly off-putting, I suppose. At least now I've watched it, and now I can send the disc back to Netflix.

Thursday, December 9

It could happen

We decorated gingerbread houses today, and I think I may have the only child in a several-miles' radius that wants to tear her house apart and eat it. I have no idea where this kid got her sweet tooth, but it is crazy aggressive. Every five minutes I'd get asked if she could have another piece of her house. Relentless.
She's picked candy pieces off the roof all afternoon, snacking on them with no regard whatsoever for the little fairies, gnomes and mystical creatures that might reside in the gingerbread house at night while we're all asleep.

Wednesday, December 8

"Cars," "Dinosaur Train" and Disney. All good.

I had the weirdest shopping expedition to Toys "R" Us this morning. My local Toys is up the street from my house, and it's a regular stop for us. I was prepared for the full parking lot when I arrived this morning. What I was not prepared for was the quiet in the store. It was weird. Walking around and wandering the aisles, the store was so eerie quiet. All the moms and dads were cruising around with purpose. Everyone had their mental and physical lists, and they were focused. Of course, I had my list, too, but I also had the need to wander and find stocking stuffers, so I could spend some time observing everyone else in the store. Everyone had such precision in their actions. Looking for the blue, because it has to be blue, Lalaloopsy doll. The specific robot figure. The particular game. The right size play food. It was kinda awesome, being a part of that mob mind, where we all were operating in the same store, at the same time, but with very different and specific purpose.
And I'd love to share my list with you, and let you know how happy my kid will be on Christmas morning, but I'm still hugging it to myself.

Tuesday, December 7

Happy Big Number Day!

Well, we've reached a milestone today. This is my 1,500th post.
When I started this blog way, way, way back in 2005, it was pretty much a lark. I got the idea from, of all places, MySpace, and its blog feature. Michelle and JJ had just convinced me to open a profile on MySpace, and I did it, but when I noticed the blog feature on the profile, I decided that the blog is my better bet for self expression. I canceled the MySpace account pretty quickly, and did a quick Internet search for blogging sites. And huzzah, I found Blogger, and, shortly thereafter, "It's All About..." was born. (I'm still not sure I love the name of the blog, but it continues to serve the purpose. Also, I can't think of anything I like better.)
But what began as an exercise in writing randomness has become more of an outlet to my psyche: emotionally, intellectually, and creatively. I am not sure what I'd be doing with myself if I didn't have the blog to be a sounding board for my thoughts, whether I had readers or not. I certainly appreciate the readership, but what's more comforting is the fact that I write the blog for me more than for anyone else. And that it probably wouldn't be any different if it was a private blog that no one else read. (Of course, I LOVE that you all do read it!!)
I guess 1,500 posts in five years isn't too bad. Considering my spotty record in various months. It was always my intention for the blog to represent me, in my sanity and my crazy, and I think I've accomplished that. I like that I'm ready to start a new year on the blog soon. And I like that I'm as dedicated, and not bored with it, as I could possibly be all these years after I started it.

Monday, December 6

It's just an anomaly

I'm starting to get concerned. I mean, I am moving way, way, way ahead of schedule for Christmas. Honestly, I've got my cards all addressed and ready to mail out tomorrow? On what planet is that normal?? It's not, which is why I'm so flabbergasted! I've got my list for shopping, and plan to get a good portion of that done on Wednesday.
My goodness, December is shaping up to be quite a month! Yay!!

Sunday, December 5

A dinosaur, a zoo and a rock house

I'm kind of blown away by how Christmas-y productive I've been this weekend. Not only did we get our tree and get it all lit up and decorated, but we also put up the outdoor lights. Incredibly, I also managed to get the Christmas card photos done, and have ordered the cards themselves, which are done and ready to be picked up, by the way. I don't think I've ever had the cards ready this early. I'll get them and the stamps tomorrow, and then get them in the mail in a day or two. Wait, cards out before the 15th of the month? What the cuss? How is that possible?
Tomorrow, the Christmas planning begins in earnest. I'm beginning to figure out where the budget begins and ends, and what is necessary and not so much. This year is all about making it awesome for Sydney, which means that, yes, there will be the exact three things she wants from Santa under our Christmas tree. So, like I said, planning begins tomorrow.

Saturday, December 4

Lights, lights, lights

I like 10:30 at night. It makes me feel like it's still early enough to finish the movie and maybe have a cookie, but late enough to allow for a bedtime that gives plenty of sleep but won't make me an old person who gets up a 4:30 a.m. to wait for the newspaper. At any rate, at 10:30 p.m. this evening, everyone else in my house is asleep; I've not yet put on my jammies; Sherlock Holmes is mostly over; and a cold glass of milk sounds like a lovely nightcap.
As for productivity out of today, I will brag that we got our tree ... much cheaper than last year ... at Home Depot, transported it in Brian's rental car, and have put it up and lighted it. The initial plan was to buy the tree at the same lot we bought last year's, but their $69 price tag for a 5-foot tree turned us off and sent us to Home Depot. HD's $35 5-foot tree was much more appealing, and cuter.
I had thought that this year, I would let Brian do the lights on the tree. You see, I'm crazy freakish about the complexity of my Christmas tree lights (thanks, Mom!), though felt too tired psychologically to get them done this time. It takes me about 45 minutes to do them to my satisfaction, and I end up sweaty, dirty and sappy all over the arms. So, to Brian goes the light strings. He started out with the all-red strands (ugh!), and was about to start placing them from the bottom, but my outburst preceded my head and I corrected that potentially psychotic mistake. Anyway, to the red. So he covered the whole tree in the all-red lights, which looked fine, but then he decided to only place one string of the multi-colored lights ... at the bottom ... with one line going up the back of the tree for some inexplicable reason. Then, frustrated with his effort, he dropped the lights and told me that I can finish them and make them better. He had actually done most of the grunt work, but I still spent another 30 minutes fixing his lights and adding more multi-colored ones on my own.
And honestly, once I'm done with the lights, I need to rest and motivate myself for the ornaments. But, since we had lights to put up outside yet, I have left the tree for now. Tomorrow, when Katy comes over, we'll all put the ornaments on the tree. Another set of hands is a good thing.
Also, we did get them done, and our outdoor lights look pretty awesome.
Sydney is freakin' loving this holiday this year. I think this might be the best Christmas ever.

Friday, December 3

How DO they make a rolling pin?

I think I may have finished the book. I added the final two sections tonight, and, as of now, I'm pretty happy with it. I'll read it again tomorrow and make any changes it needs, but I think it may be ready to send off to my adviser. And Assignment 10 will be done, and the course will be finished. And my Christmas gift to myself will be delivered.
Also, Brian's making me watch Polar Express right now. I don't like this movie ... visually. And because of that, I've never actually sat and watched the film. I feel the same as with Antz. The heads on those ants creeped me out in the worst way, and I refused to see the movie. To this day, I've not seen it. Polar Express is out, too. No thanks. The graphics, we decided, look like an old video game, and that's not a compliment. But since I finished the last sentence, Brian's changed the channel to How It's Made on the Science Channel. This is okay, but still not ideal. I'm about to finish up this post so I can make my way into the bedroom so I can watch my own television.

Thursday, December 2

Buddy is watching

ITEM!: I read this magazine, called Entertainment Weekly, and I'm pretty obsessive about it. I read it cover to cover every weekend, and I feel kinda lost without it. So when two weeks go by without my fix of entertainment pop culture reading necessity, I notice. I notice A LOT. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the problem was not a thief-y neighbor, but that my subscription just up and ended! With no notice or anything! Thank goodness for the Internets though, because I was able to hop on the website and renew my subscription right quick. And guess what came in today's mail: a notice telling me that my subscription lapsed. Thanks, EW. You're a couple weeks late. I burn for those issues I missed. It's a problem. I'm shaking. No kidding. The only thing that can make this better is having another issue in my hot little fist tomorrow afternoon.
ITEM!: Elf on the Shelf may be the best thing ever. Our elf's name is Buddy, like from Dinosaur Train. He started the night on Sydney's dresser, and has moved already to the plant stand in the hallway. I can see that Brian and I are going to have as much fun with this as Sydney. She, of course, took issue with the fact that Buddy has to leave every night to report to Santa. She doesn't want him traveling by himself. I can see though that the main argument in regards to Buddy will be between Brian and I about where to put the little elf every night. So fun!!
ITEM!: I need to get to buying my 2011 calendars. I've dates and appointments to write in them already. Not the least of which are the two weddings next August. Five days apart. In two separate countries. On opposite sides of the country. August 21 in California, and August 26 in the Bahamas. I love my girls!
ITEM!: I think the Christmas plans are coming together rather well so far. I've got a tentative plan for all the family members, and for both the states. I'm actually getting pretty excited about my month. Making it a good Christmas for Sydney is the highest priority, but it looks like it might become super cool for the rest of us, too.

p.s. I found this photo of the cast of Glee online today, and simply had to post it. I'm glad it actually is relevant to my first item up there. Yay!

Wednesday, December 1

It's December, damn it!

Well, having said all that, I move on.
I'm blown away by the fact that I've got all my Christmas decorations up in my house, I'm trying to figure out the Christmas plans, and despite my sudden urgency, Sydney is just beside herself that Christmas is so far away. But, in lieu of a crazy Christmas list of presents to buy this year (we are cutting back drastically on our shopping this season), I am going overboard with the Christmas spirit, which may turn out to be more fun. Like I said, all the decor is up, and we've got a countdown to getting our tree this weekend. My decor staging area is still taking up half the garage, and there still is dish packing paper all over the kitchen, but I'm really pretty pleased with where I am for the holiday so far. All our stockings are hung by the chimney with care.