Tuesday, December 31

Last post of the year; it's not amazing

It's a new dawn; it's a new day; and I'm feeling good.
Sydney tried to stay up until midnight, but only made it as late as 10:51 p.m.
Dryer sheets in Toms works great for getting rid of smelliness.
My Christmas tree is super dead, and I'm looking forward to taking it down this weekend.
Our cute, high-school-senior neighbor is "having some friends over tonight," though it's still pretty quiet. The cool weather outside is keeping them all inside. We do hear some bass; no biggie.
We watched Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and though it was good enough, it wasn't as good as the book (no surprise). This second movie actually concerns me a little. There are five Percy Jackson books, and they're good. But will they be making three more Percy Jackson movies? This last one ended with somewhat of a cliffhanger, indicating a follow-up film, but if I remember right, the movies didn't make an abundance of money. I'm skeptical about the rest of the books making it into movies, which bothers my neuroses, but humors me too, because then they won't make more movies that aren't as good as the books.
I guess it's time to get down to business with the Being Good in the New Year.
Cheers to a good New Year, and a happy 2014!

Monday, December 30

This is absolute randomness

I watched the recording of last night's Kennedy Center Honors this afternoon. Question: Do you think the people being honored are bugged by the other people performing their stuff? Like last night's show honored Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, and Billy Joel. Each of these people, as well as the other honorees, had three or four performers doing their own stuff to entertain them. Do you think they ever get bothered by not being able to do the performance themselves? I can't imagine Billy Joel is perfectly happy watching and listening to Garth Brooks or the guy from Panic! at the Disco sing his stuff. (Though her did seem super impressed to see Don Henley on stage.) And even though Shirley MacLaine seemed pleased with the women who performed for her, I wonder how critical she was of their parts, and whether she thought she could have done much better than they did, even now. Or are performers that gracious about people covering their stuff?
These are the things that roll through my brain when I'm watching stuff like this. No doubt, I'll forever wonder about this. I can't imagine the opera lady from last night saying out loud that the performing lady in the green dress was awful, and that she would have sung circles around her all night, if she was allowed to be honored and be on the stage at the same time.

Sunday, December 29

The end of year comes swiftly

ITEM!: The last year in which I had more than 300 posts to the blog was 2008. It's as if I had so much more time during that year and this one. Or that there was so much more worth writing about. Well, this post right now constitutes the 301st post of 2013. And to keep increasing that number for the year, I intend to post every day through Tuesday night. This sounds like a real commitment, but it occurs to me that it is only two more nights.
ITEM!: I'm starting to get amped for the New Year, and my fresh slate. That's a post for later this week, but I'm looking forward to cleaning out and cleaning up. I think 2014 is going to be a good year.
ITEM!: I can totally tell that Christmas is over, not merely from the calendar, but by the fact that I wander through my house fantasizing about taking down and putting away my Christmas decorations. Which is kind of a shame, because they're so awesome, but I'm done looking at them. I want my house back to normal. My tree smells fantastic, but I'm sick of it sitting in my living room. I declare that next weekend is the right time to take down the tree. And the decorations are going down on Sydney's first day back at school. I miss my normal house.

And then I changed it

Yep; that happened.
Don't be scared.
I think I like it. Maybe I like it a lot, but I'll know better in a day or two.
In honor of the new year, I suppose!
The orange is funky.

Saturday, December 28

Stinky feet be gone!

Last night, I Googled "How to clean Toms." Lately, it has become stinky in my navy Toms, and I'm grossed out by them. I do not typically get smelly feet, but the Toms, with their no-socks style, bring the problem to the fore. Or, more aptly, put it under my nose.
The Internet, as you can imagine, was rife with suggestions: from the not-terribly helpful, "Follow the instructions on the web site," to the home remedy, "Put some dryer sheets/baking soda in them."
Also, I read all about a bunch of girls who are afraid of their red Toms fading in the sunshine while they dry. As well as several horror stories of Toms getting wet when they weren't supposed to; Toms having color bleed onto them; and Toms getting muddy. All terrifying circumstances, to be sure, but really, I only care about making mine not smell so much.
I went with the Home Remedy option, and now my Toms are in the closet with dryer sheets in them. I'm giving them 24 hours with the dryer sheets, to be sure there is enough time to do their magic. If it doesn't work, I'll investigate the baking soda in a homemade sachet idea.
But because of the Toms issue, there is foot-stink transference into my favorite slippers. They've been Febrezed.

Friday, December 27

The never-ending dessert table

There is no shortage of desserts in my home right now. Mom left me with a boatload of sweets that I can't share with her now, and most of them are delicious, so there's no way I'm going to just toss them, as I do the Halloween candy.
* Sugar cookies that I have to be in the right mood to enjoy. * Pumpkin spice cake that is amazing and I'll be savoring that for as long as I can. * Winter Oreos which are super good with the red creamy insides. * Frosting for the sugar cookies, of which I will take surreptitious bites (don't judge me). * M&Ms, of course. * Gingerbread men cookies that we didn't even crack open but now I have a complete bag. * Chocolate and peppermint covered marshmallows (these are totally Brian's fault. He bought them). * Leftover Cheesecake Factory peppermint bark cheesecake.
At least I don't have any fudge. Although that's because I ruined my own batch of fudge, and threw it out because it was gross. I hate failure. I think I'll make myself some this week to prove to myself I can still do it (there was a sugar-measuring snafu, I think). After all, it's not a real Christmas holiday unless I've gorged myself on the fantastic fudge.
Sure. Let's add fudge to all that other stuff.

Thursday, December 26

And it's over!

What a lovely holiday!
I hope yours was, too.
But really, I kind of enjoy the day after Christmas. It's a relaxing day: one full of not-having-to-do something. And all the hustle and bustle of the holiday is over. And everyone is tired. Well, I'm certainly tired.
Tomorrow is a day of rest, putting stuff away, laundry, and maybe a nap in the afternoon.

Tuesday, December 24

Have a holly, jolly Christmas

It's Christmas Eve; it's 11:30 p.m.; and I'm ready to go to bed. These three things simply don't go together, or haven't, since before 2006. I credit Mom, almost entirely, for saying on Monday night, "Why don't you do some of that thing tonight, and some tomorrow night?" It gave me half the building responsibilities for this evening, and that extra time has paid off in frosting. Honestly, it's all finished. And hopefully, Sydney won't wake us up before 7 a.m. Not likely, but still a dream.
Here's a cheers to a good Christmas tomorrow!

Monday, December 23

Getting close to the big day

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I'm kinda nervous because I feel like I have a lot of stuff done already, and that I'm not overly stressed out about anything. Yes, not being stressed can make me nervous. I just feel like something big is missing from the equation, and I can't remember what it is.
Actually,  I just remembered something that I keep forgetting: the purple beanbag chair in the trunk of my car. I need to be sure to bring that inside tomorrow night. (If I type it; it will happen?)
But we're in remarkably good shape for the holiday.
That makes me nervous.

Sunday, December 22


We saw The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug tonight. It was good. And it cut off at exactly the moment you really wish it wouldn't, so now the next Hobbit movie can't get here fast enough.
FUN FACT: I am incapable of not saying, "Smaug," all slow and articulated, after every movie trailer or commercial, or every time I read it. I have never heard a word pronounced that way, and it's fascinating to me. It feels weird to say, doesn't it? I dig it. In fact, I joked to Brian tonight, on our way home, that we should name our next puppy, Smaug. And then I laughed my butt off because I could not imagine a universe where I would have to say that word 50 times a day, and not go insane.

Saturday, December 21

Thumbs down to the thumb

I have the most ridiculous wound ever, and it's on my finger. It's on my right thumb, to be more precise, and is the absolute bane of my existence. It's like a paper cut, but it wasn't done with paper. It's about a millimeter long, but it feels about that deep as well. It sits right at the corner end of my fingernail, but may as well be across the entire tip of my finger. This is the most annoying, and unknowingly inflicted, injury of my entire life.
No kidding, I can't do anything without busting this thing open and sending myself spiraling down a pain staircase. I've been living with it for a couple days, and it hurts just as much right now (with Neosporin and a bandage) as it did when it happened (which I still don't know when that was). It won't heal closed and stay that way, and I'm about ready to pitch a fit. Because every time I bump it, the surge of pain rolls straight up my arm and seemingly through my entire body. And honestly, I never realized how often I used my thumb until I had this little issue.
I have a bandage on it right now, which is why there's no accompanying photo. I don't even know how well it would photograph. Besides, I can't even put the minimal pressure on my thumb to use it on my phone, and that's the real issue here.

Thursday, December 19

It's a reindeer roll call

DASHER!: So far, all I want my husband to buy me for Christmas is long yoga pants. All my current yoga pants are capri length, which in a gym is fine, but when I start doing the hikes more often, I'll need something for the cooler weather.
DANCER!: I think I may be about done with my Christmas shopping. I've got one more thing, and maybe another thing, and then I'm pretty much finished. I spent some time figuring out what I've already bought and how it should be organized today, so I feel confident in saying the vague statement of perhaps fact that started this paragraph.
PRANCER!: Tomorrow night, I will do some wrapping. I've got a few packages here and there that can be wrapped and put under the tree, and I aim to take care of that. The sooner they're wrapped, the sooner they make more room in my hiding place.
VIXEN!: Also tomorrow, or maybe on Saturday, I get to make the sugar-cookie dough that Mom and Sydney will bake into cookies Sunday night, while Brian and I will be enjoying an evening out. And we'll have cookies when we get home from the movies. One more thing about the dough: It is one of my most favorite things to eat straight out of the fridge, and on the sly. Even when I make it and store it in my own fridge, I'll still steal bites of it in the dark, with only the fridge light to guide me.
COMET!: Some time last night or this morning, our elf, Buddy, fell from his perch in the plant on Sydney's dresser. She was most upset to see him on the floor, and is pretty nervous that my touching him will take away his magic. I told her that since he's her elf, if I touch him, it should be okay. She'll feel much better tomorrow morning when it's clear that he's made it to the North Pole and back.

I can't think of any more things to blog about, so the rest of the reindeer will have to wait for another list.

Wednesday, December 18

My children amuse me today:

SYDNEY ~ This year, Sydney has decided that the Santa helpers that look like Santa in the mall are not worth her time or conversation. She explained to me a couple weeks ago that these "fake" Santas shouldn't be pretending to be Santa. It's not nice of them. It should be noted that her elf, Buddy, is her personal direct line to Santa. ... And anyway, she is going to see the real Santa on Christmas Eve, when she sneaks downstairs to catch him dropping off her gifts and filling the stockings. She hasn't decided if she'll stay up really late, or if she'll get up really early in the morning. I reminded her that Santa is magic, and that he's super fast, but she still contends that she'll be able to catch him in the act. I'm told that this plan is why we needn't bother with the shopping mall Santa, BUT she tells me today, "I may change my mind or something, you know, when it gets closer to Christmas."
OLIVER ~ Oliver has a new favorite chewy bone that Brian bought him last week. It's brown, smells gamey, but is filled with real deer marrow, or something. He is quite enamored with it. He carries it around with him, seemingly to find a good place to chew it, but once he settles down, he just sets it down, and then takes a nap. He can't possibly be too old for the chewy, but he does seem to be on board with the "It's too beautiful to eat" foodie philosophy. He has been doing this walking-around-with-the-chewy-but-never-chewing-it thing for the last seven days. Also, I should tell you, he whines loudly as he walks around with it. And these treks throughout the house can last up to 20 minutes. Tonight, the deer chewy is right here on the bed with me, while Oliver has gone back downstairs to finagle a treat from Brian. If I don't move it, it'll stay on the bed all night, until tomorrow, when he decides to start the whole cycle again.

Tuesday, December 17

I'm digging the Christmas tunes

I love my DirecTV music stations. I bounce around them when I just want to listen to some music, preferring the 90s, 80s and (sadly?) adult contemporary. At this time of year, there is a holiday station.
This particular holiday station is a really good one. It plays the classics and the newer stuff in a fun and cool mix, which is a feat that Sirius and iTunes Radio haven't been able to figure out.
Anyway, I had the holiday music playing when Brian got home. He immediately checked other TV stations to see what else was on, and finding nothing intriguing, he hopped onto the DVR list. He's been watching recordings for a while, but now he's sleeping. I know this, because suddenly I'm hearing "I'm gettin' nothin' for Christmas" floating up the stairway and into my bedroom.
Now, it's Harry Connick, Jr. singing "I'll be home for Christmas."
At any rate, it's better than him waking up to discover that Cinemax has gone soft-core while he was asleep and now there's "sorta porn" on the TV.

Monday, December 16

Thank you! Gracias! Merci!

For whatever reason, I get extreme interest out of reading the "Dear Abby" column that pops up on Yahoo!'s news feed. I have no idea the regularity of the column, but I click on it whenever I come across it. Some questions are ridiculous, some are thought-provoking, and some are irritating beyond the extreme.
This one, tonight, made me laugh out loud:
DEAR ABBY: Would it be a breach of etiquette to enclose a self-addressed, stamped (blank) thank-you note with gifts I plan to send to my grandchildren, since they do not respond when I mail them gifts or cards? -- GRANDMA IN MARSHFIELD, MO.
DEAR GRANDMA: I think it's a great idea as a last resort -- and no, it would not be a breach of etiquette to do so.

This is something that I grapple with regularly, because there are so many kids nowadays who don't write thank-you notes, and so many grandparents who expect them. Personally, I still write and mail thank-you notes, and I'm teaching Sydney to do it, too. It's a common courtesy, and one that should be afforded to someone who thinks enough of a person to buy a gift. (If I could change anything about them, I'd love to be able to send them via e-mail or text, rather than write and mail them by post. I kinda feel like I should be able to do that, especially since it's still a thank-you, and because there are so many people who don't do any thank-you at all.)
But this cracked me up specifically because Brian's mom is a stickler for thank-yous. And her grandkids rarely extend her the courtesy. (I, of course, insist that Sydney thank her for everything, and I always write a note.) For her, it doesn't need to be a thank-you note, but she does like some acknowledgement of a gift. A phone call is ideal, since she loves to talk, but even a text is looked on favorably. I applaud this grandmother who wrote to Abby about the notes, and I like her proactiveness (what? A new word!). I hope it worked for her. Because some grandparents will just stop sending gifts to kids that don't acknowledge them.

Sunday, December 15

So many candy canes, so little time

ITEM!: I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's like, all of a sudden, I've got a boatload of Christmas present shopping to do, and not enough time to do it. Granted, if I just make my lists and stick to them, all the while staying disciplined and focused, I could probably knock it all out in a few days. Which actually, is a good thing, because I have only a few days. I should be able to take care of everything in about three stops, i.e., Target, Barnes & Noble, Fashion Square. I am determined, and will be disciplined and focused as well, because Christmas needs to get its shit together.
ITEM!: I feel gross and fat too, like I'm a stuffed turkey, all bulging with stuff that is unnaturally in my body. Sure, it was delicious Mexican food, but perhaps not all of it should have made its way inside me. I think tomorrow will begin a bit of a cleanse, where I eat minimally for a few days. (She says, fully aware that there is a Krispy Kreme right down the street from the Barnes & Noble.) I foresee protein shakes for dinner this week, as well. Yes, definitely protein shakes for dinner. Because I feel nasty after tonight's dinner.
ITEM!: Brian keeps asking me what I want for Christmas, but I'm at a loss. I can't think of a single thing that I want. Sure, I've got a list of monthly things I'd enjoy, like trips out to California, Molly Maids, pedicures and eyebrow waxes, but not any one thing that I'd like for the holiday. And yes, I've got projects I'd like to have taken care of, like the printer fixed, and the dry cleaning done. I'd also like a table and chairs for outside so we can enjoy decent weather when it's here. But nothing just for me. Perhaps if I spent some time wandering the mall I would think of something, but just hanging out in my head and wondering, I come up with nothing. *sigh* Certainly, there are worse things than this concern, like needing everything, so I'm not complaining (though that is what it sounds like). I just feel like I'm disappointing him.
ITEM!: Sydney was feeling well enough this evening to complain to me about her lack of doing fun things this weekend. Saturday, she was a slug, and we didn't even leave the house. And while she was feeling more active today, she still spent the entire day in her pajamas and sweats, and only left the house for lunch, and to go to Loews to get more outdoor lights with Brian this evening. If she bounces back from this quickly, I'm going to be a very happy mommy. I can't help but think that keeping her home from school on Friday was the smarter thing to do. Also, cough syrup and the 11 hours of sleep she had last night.
ITEM!: List for the week ~ Christmas Shopping. Grocery Shopping. Some Baking. Fingernails. Toenails. Phone Calls. Goodwill Drop. Laundry. Dry Cleaning. Movie. Work. Etc.

Saturday, December 14

Ugh, another post where I'm sad

I've posted something every day so far this month, and I'm not ready to stop being that consistent yet, so here I am.
You know, pet adoption websites have become a bit of a wormhole for me lately. I'm finding little ones here and there that I would like to bring home all the time. Brian wants a puppy though, and these sites just don't have them. I don't understand why I feel so much like I have to have another dog in the house. I was perfectly content with Oliver as an only child for so long. And he's just as awesome now, as an only child again, as he ever was before we brought Daisy home. There's just such a void in the house, that we are so antsy to fill.
I miss my princess so much though.
But the stories behind a bunch of the pups on the website are sad, and all I want is to make them happy. But it's also a fact right now that all dogs make me sad.

Friday, December 13

A happy little guy

It's not that I didn't think that snails drank water, it's just that it never occurred to me that they would look this cool while they're drinking water.
ASIDE: This is the second picture I have of snails drinking water. The other one is of two snails investigating the water, with one of them drinking it. And their reflections are just as vivid as in this image. That particular photo is the desktop wallpaper on my computer. END OF ASIDE.
I dig this guy a lot because of how stretched out he is to get his drink. He looks like he is gulping up that water, doesn't he? What a happy little snail. This photo, as well as the other I described, may be among my favorite wildlife images ever. Snails be cool.

Thursday, December 12

I'd rather deal with the snoring. Boo!

It's a noisy house right now. My dog is snoring so loud I can barely hear my television. My kid is coughing so much I think there may be a rogue lung popping out of her at some point tonight. Brian's watching something downstairs, and he's giggling at it. Only one of these sounds is unacceptable to me. I enjoy hearing Brian laugh at stuff. I get great joy from Oliver's snoring.
It's the coughing. It's troublesome. And it will probably be the reason why she'll stay home tomorrow. I doubt she'll get much sleep because of the coughs, and for that, she gets a day at home.
Still, I have errands to run, so she'll get to, to be more specific, be not at school. Damn. I had wanted to go for another hike in the morning. Sick kids are a drag, but if I keep her home and resting all weekend, she'll be good to go in a few days. I do dislike it tremendously when Sydney isn't feeling well. Also, now I have to stay away from her face, which I also don't like doing. Because her face is awesome, and I like being close to it.
Huh. Sounds like Brian's done with his show, and Oliver woke himself up a minute ago. So now the house is only noisy with that one awful thing.

Wednesday, December 11

It all actually seems pretty productive

ITEM!: The traditional Christmas radio channel on iTunes has been my favorite thing lately. The music is awesome, and ranges from Perry Como and Frank Sinatra to Jose Feliciano and of course, Elvis. But the fantastic discovery I made through the channel the other day is Ella Fitzgerald singing Christmas carols. She is fabulous at singing holiday songs, and I am in love. Yep, bought the album tonight. I can't wait to listen to it in its entirety in the morning.
ITEM!: I've switched my birth control pills from the brand name to the generic so I get them for free through the Affordable Care Act. I mention this change in a public forum because if I get knocked up, it'll be all Tri-Nessa's fault. And they'll be in super trouble because Sydney does not want a baby in the house. Babies slobber on things, you know. That bothers her a lot, and is the sole reason as to why there simply can not be a baby in the house. Also, she wouldn't want to share her room. We discuss the never-going-to-happen sometimes because her thought process makes me giggle.
ITEM!: I ordered this year's Christmas cards tonight, too. This was difficult for me because all my kids are on my Christmas cards, and on this holiday, I don't have my Daisy. I got a few cute pictures of Sydney in the snow the other day, and I have an adorable picture of Oliver, but it hurts my heart that I can't have any Daisy picture on my card. To do it would be super awkward, but to not do it is super sad for me. Of course, I did the card with just Sydney and Oliver, because that's how it should be done, but still, sad.
ITEM!: You know, when I turn off the television, I get a lot more random stuff done. With the TV off this evening, Sydney and I: planted the paper whites Lisa sent us; fancied up the vase and fillers Mom bought for Christmas decor; finished most of the laundry; repacked all the snow gear and put the bag away; and watered the plants and trimmed off the dead leaves and leggy limbs. Not being distracted is an amazing thing.
ITEM!: Sydney has started writing out her daily schedule every night on the white board in front of her room. This morning, she woke me up promptly at 7 a.m., per the schedule, and played Animal Jam all afternoon, per the schedule. It's funny how the schedule doesn't matter all that much when it's bath time though, and how "bath time" was mysteriously erased and replaced with more Animal Jam when it got close to 7:30 p.m. She's pretty fantastic.

Tuesday, December 10

Oh Captain; my Captain?

Let's talk for a moment about Capt. Hook on Once Upon a Time.
This is the part where I confess my secret pirate fantasy, and how this guy -- this particular Captain Hook -- makes me feel all smitten and twitter-pated.
I mean really, he's got the swarthy dark good looks that I'm always drawn to. His voice is all deep and rumbly, and he says awesome things, and he calls people "love" and "mate," which is something that's always been a heart-melter for me. He's a bad boy, in the best way. And wow. And, lest we forget, he's a pirate.
All this adds up to Kimmie having a new TV boyfriend. For a show that, for any other character and/or plot line I could totally take or leave any day, Once Upon a Time has become appointment television, and owns a season-recording status on the DVR. He's dreamy, and there's always a place on my TV for dreamy.
I had thought to make a list right now of who my other TV boyfriends are, but I don't want to diminish the awesome that is Capt. Hook. And also, TV boyfriends is an entirely separate blog post.

Monday, December 9

E-mails + catalogs = Christmas

The holiday season always overwhelms me in catalogs and e-mail.
Starting right after Thanksgiving, I suddenly start opening my phone to discover I've got 12 to 13 solicitation e-mails waiting for me. They're from Best Buy, or Pottery Barn, or Crate and Barrel, or even Three Dog Bakery. They all promise tremendous savings, and free shipping. They make these promises loud and in many obnoxious graphics. I take delight in deleting them without really reading them.
I also receive a few catalogs a day in the post mail. They're bright, and beautiful. They are filled up with awesome things I can't afford to buy, but I look at them anyway. Tonight, I weeded through my pile, putting about 12 in the recycle bin, and saving about four for actual potential gift ideas. That's just from this week. Catalogs bug me because they're such a waste of paper, but I'm conflicted because I really love looking at them.
My yearly thought, "If it's December, I must be popular with the shopping stores." My inbox and my mailbox are bursting with holiday spirit.

Sunday, December 8

Let it be snow, let it be snow

We took Sydney on her very first snow day today. We drove two hours north, to a snow play park north of Flagstaff, and thoroughly enjoyed our day. Syd was amazed, and fascinated, and charmed by snow. She ate plenty of it, fell in a lot more, and ran around in a field of it. We sledded down a hill; threw snowballs at each other; made snow angels; built a snowman, sort of; hiked in the trees; and tackled each other in the powder. And she loved every single minute of it. And so did Brian and I.
Other things about today:
I took a boatload of pictures, so be aware, if you're so lucky as to get a Christmas card from me, that she will be a snowy kid on it. ...  We had several moments of squirrely and sliding Jetta in the snow. I had forgotten how safe I felt when driving the Land Rover in the winter. The Jetta has never felt more not-a-Land-Rover than it did today. ...  Brian bought me a Dunkin' hot chocolate in Flagstaff, and I was happy to remember how much better they taste when you're freezing cold in the snow. ...  Sydney was so tuckered out she feel asleep in the car on the drive home. An hour and 15 minute nap from a seven-year-old? As unheard of as it was awesome. ...  Some girls dress fancy for tromping through the snow. ...  I'm bummed we didn't bring Oliver with us, because he would have loved playing in the snow again, but I'm glad we didn't because he would have gotten tired and wet and cold, and we didn't really have anywhere to put him where he would be able to dry comfortably. ...  I think I'm hitting my limit on Carl's Jr. ...  Sydney and I need real snow boots, because the Uggs (while warm at the outset and comfortable) got soaked through and made our toes cold. This is not acceptable behavior for a pair of "cold-weather" boots. I think there's a waterproofing treatment, yes? I'll look into that first. ...  The exterior of my car is so disgustingly filthy, I honestly can not wait to get it washed tomorrow morning. ...  Flagstaff charmed me today, so we'll be back.

Saturday, December 7

This actually is my Christmas tree

When given the task of finding a Christmas tree, I suggest The Home Depot.
We are big fans of buying our trees there, and have done so for several of the last many years. We've pretty much decided that we won't go to traditional Christmas tree lots anymore, because they just cost so much more for the same-sized tree.
At Home Depot, we got a 6-foot tree, and spent less than $45 on it. You can't beat that. And our tree is beautiful. It's nice and full, all kinds of round, and seems to be happy in front of the living room window. Also, it's straight. (As a very real precaution, I did the attaching of the tree stand myself, because you'll remember, Brian's first attempt at that chore left us with a tree fallen over in the living room last year.)
Of course, I did all the lights in my over-doing-it kind of way, which looks so fantastic once I'm done, but is a drag before I start and during the process. Brian and Sydney hung all the ornaments. (I'll wait until Monday before fixing and re-situating some of them.)
And amazingly, the entire thing is plugged into the exact right outlet, and the whole tree works off the switch! Now, that is something I've never been able to make happen, in all my years!! I win Christmas Tree this year!!
This year must be more magical, in a not-in-Texas kind of way.

Friday, December 6

Obviously, I need a hot-water bottle hat

So, did you know that the worst part about having windows right above your bed is that they are poor insulation for when it's super cold outside? Yes, it's true! In fact, not-great windows can actually be quite chilling when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. And when your head and pillow is right below said windows, it actually gets cool on your head while you're sleeping. I've done research. At this point, I can say pretty definitively, that this is not comfortable.
Last night, I slept with my sweatshirt on, with the hood on my head. I think I may have to do that again tonight, because just right now, sitting with my back to the window, I'm chilly.
These are things you don't notice when it's summer and the only problem is cooling down, and there's a fan in the room. In winter though, if you haven't managed to get really warm at all during the day, crawling into a cozy bed should be a welcome respite. But not so much when you know your head will remain cold.
Grr. I growl at this problem. Would a beanie cap be a better thing to sleep in than the hood? I'm kinda thinking yes, but I wonder if the hat would stay on well. And would it be claustrophobic to have it on at all?
This is stupid. But the issue is a real one. A complex one. I'm having a problem, people, and I need to fix it. Stat. I can't have a cold head when I sleep. That's just wrong.

Thursday, December 5

Slippers are the best things ever

I realized today that I have a new neurosis. It is ... wait for it ... "Time-of-Day-Specific Slippers."
Little Known Fact About Me: I love slippers. They're brilliant. They're perfect for their purpose. I would wear them all the frickin' time if I could, and during the colder months, I do. I hate, hate, hate having cold feet, and my amazing slippers keep that peeve in check as well as they can.
But I realized yesterday and today, that of my slippers, different pairs are ideal for different times of the day. Work with me on this. I have three different pairs of slippers.
Here we go:
MORNING ~ The soft, synthetically fluffy interior, purple slippers, with the traction on the bottom. These are for the morning, when I'm still wearing my sleeping socks (another blog post entirely). Feet, with socks, fit perfectly in the slippers, and my slow wittedness because of the morning is helped by the traction. These only stay super warm though, because of the sleeping socks.
DAYTIME ~ The Uggs slip-on slippers, filled with sheepskin and topped with a navy cable-knit. This is the second pair of these specific slippers I've had. I wear them out, because they are awesome. These are ideal for during the day, when it's not too cold, but my toes still need to stay warm. They are the easiest for me to walk up and down the stairs in, so they are the more mobile-oriented slippers.
EARLY EVENING AND NIGHT ~ The pink, down-filled North Face slippers, with some thicker socks inside. By the time it gets dark outside, my feet have usually gotten chilled again. But it's not time for bed, so no sleeping socks yet. Here, we have normal, everyday socks. But the North Face slippers are magical warmth machines that keep me from getting chilled as the temperature lowers. This is my favorite slipper combination, because it does, seriously, keep my feet super toasty and comfortable.
I change the slippers with little structural regard, really, of this weird protocol that I just spelled out for you. I noticed yesterday that I was entrenched in a slipper pattern, but took peripheral note of it today, so I could understand why I was doing it like this. And it's weird. Right now, two pairs of slippers are on this side of the bed (pictured above. Bonus points that you see the "extra" sleep socks, too); the other pair is next to my dresser. What a delightfully bizarre thing. What on earth would a fourth pair of slippers do?

Wednesday, December 4

Buddy's back, and still awesome

Our Elf on a Shelf, Buddy, has returned. He arrived some time during the night on Monday, and was welcoming Sydney from the chair downstairs Tuesday morning. As is his custom, Buddy brought Sydney a little present, because he misses her so much throughout the year. This year, he brought her some special Elf on the Shelf Shrinky Dinks, and they are pretty awesome. We colored and baked a first batch Tuesday night, and she colored more tonight for tomorrow's baking session.
I'm really pretty excited with how much she loves them. I remember we tried Shrinky Dinks a few years ago, and she didn't want any part of them. But, you know, as a gift from Buddy, they are that much cooler.
Anyway, with his arrival, so begins the daily fun of discovering where Buddy's hid himself after his return from the North Pole every night. I think finding Buddy is going to be more of a challenge this year, since he has more spaces to hide, and because Sydney complained a lot last year that his hiding places were too easy. Challenge accepted, little girl. Buddy's getting crafty this year.
I know there are a lot of parents out there who hate the Elf idea. They don't like any part of it. I imagine they are just irritated that they didn't come up with the idea (as I am), but who also just don't want to put forth the effort to make a little extra magic for their kid. I don't see the harm in it. Our Buddy doesn't get into any of those elaborate situations you see other elves involved in. He moves from place to place only, and it's charming enough for Sydney.
I look forward to Buddy's return every year, too. I think it's a fun way to keep Sydney entertained and engaged by the magic of Santa Claus.

Tuesday, December 3

22 days until Christmas

I think the worst part about December is the countdown.
We have one of those countdown things, where you can change the number of days until Christmas every morning. Sydney delights in this activity, and every morning, I get a very loud and excited update on how many days are left until Christmas. The problem, of course, is that I haven't even started with my Christmas responsibilities, and the constant reminder of how little time I have to accomplish everything is irritating and frightening.
The numbers hang over my head like a very large cloud, somehow shining a spotlight on me to shame me because I haven't started anything. It's like a blaring red neon sign flashing in my eyes for every moment of every day. A constant fog horn sometimes too, reminding me that I haven't done anything every two minutes, with a loud mournful wail.
I am bugged by this countdown, and wish it would just be quiet.

Monday, December 2

Too good to be enjoyed all the time

I think peppermint mochas are among the most awesome things ever invented on this planet Earth. There's really no better taste combination than peppermint and chocolate, in any form, be it coffee, Oreos, or candy. The peppermint mochas at Starbucks are my jam for the holiday season. I love them so much.
Why only for the holiday season? Well, I remember vividly the first time I tried one, all those years ago, in Boston. That day, it was the perfect ending to a perfect day, and made all things right in the world. It was touted as a Seasonal Drink. I drank as many as I could that holiday season, and when the signage went away, so did my desire for one. The next year, my joy was immeasurable when they came back again for the season. Since then, the peppermint mocha has been a delicious indicator to my psyche that the holidays are upon me, and that all is calm, all is bright.
Imagine my annoyance when my aunt, who worked at Starbucks for a time, told me that I could order a peppermint mocha whenever I wanted. It wasn't a drink that was unavailable the rest of the year, it just wasn't drawn all pretty and festive on a sign in the store.
Wait. What? A peppermint mocha ... at my discretion? The whole idea is too foreign. Too easy. Too available.
I decided then and there that the peppermint mocha would continue to be my seasonal drink. It is to be enjoyed at no other time, save the days between Thanksgiving and New Year's. I'm incredibly disciplined about this, which should surprise you all. I never drink them except when they're in season, and I enjoy them very much when I do. It makes them very special to me, in my heart.
Today, I drank my first peppermint mocha of the 2013 season. And it was glorious.

Sunday, December 1

December will be rocking the awesome

I'm excited about being festive this year! I was able to host Thanksgiving dinner, and now, I'm looking forward to guilting everyone into coming back for Christmas dinner. I love hosting events at my house. I love having all the stuff to serve people, and to entertain. The cooking ... well, the cooking happens, too, but it's not what I'm about. Give me a caterer and an idea for a fun cocktail, and I'm there. Also, turkey hats.
As of this evening, all the Thanksgiving decor is already put away; and I've done my work for this week, so I don't need to worry about it tomorrow or even Tuesday. For tomorrow, I'm ready and eager to buy my first peppermint mocha of the season to fuel my day of decorating for Christmas. There's a super lot to do. I don't think I'll get all of it done before I get the kid in the afternoon, but I'll make a valiant effort. (I can't decide if I should just plan to split the decorating into a two-day event. I know that would relax me, but my neuroses can't allow it, because it's so messy that it simply must be done quickly.) But, as I said, I'm excited about being festive this year. I can't wait to get those decorations inside.
But especially, the first peppermint mocha of the season.