Saturday, December 12, 2009

13 Days till Christmas!

Well, it's Saturday night. This house is SO quiet that it's eerie! I am watching Jim Bob Duggar go bungee jumping. I am trying to get my fix of the TIVO'd shows before the beginning of the week because WE CANCELLED OUR CABLE!!! Ahhhh! I know. Evan laughs and several months ago I told him that I thought I could easily live without cable. He said if I think we can go "off the grid" that he is all for it. The cable bill was getting INSANE because the 12 month pricing of Comcast's Triple Play Package was over. I think the total monthly bill for Internet, Cable with a DVR Box, and VOIP phone was reaching $150 a month. Seriously, that's a van payment, and that is what I could use more money for! So. We decided to cancel the cable portion and just keep the internet and phone. And in the process I discovered that they had signed us up for the more expensive phone package, $24.99 a month, when there is an unlimited local calling package for $10 a month. And Local calling allows you to call anywhere within a 15 minute area. So we are totally covered. I mean, we each have a cell phone if we need to make long distance calls.... so we cut our cable bill from like $150 a month down to $60 a month. We decided we would try Netflix for a while, because for $13 a month we can have unlimited monthly rentals without late fees (they pay postage both ways!) and also stream TV and Movies directly to our laptops and to Evan's Playstation. Now THAT is cool. And then I can watch all my normal TV shows online, with the exception of a few cable shows.... because TLC doesn't stream their shows unless you pay for them. But I could pay for each episode for less than I could pay for cable. So, right now I know that I am going to miss The Duggars, and Tori and Dean, and the Girls Next Door. But there are worse things in life. Like, say, not having a van to drive or heat or groceries! LOL.

So, we have had a busy week. Monday we had our friends Kristen (a MOPS mom) and Eli over to visit and play. Eli is almost two. On Tuesday we had Jennifer and little Emma over. Emma is almost 3 months old. I also closed my Usborne Book Show, and got $50 in free books and $74 in half price books. Those should be in Monday. Wednesday I was supposed to have an appointment to get my hair colored. I haven't been coloring my hair since I started staying home with the kids, because I can't afford it, and especially can't afford to maintain it. My natural hair color isn't a whole lot different than how I color it (usually it's just the addition of s funky highlights and lowlights via foils) but after each pregnancy my hair has changed. Actually, DURING pregnancy, my hair grows darker than it does normally. And then when I am not pregnant, it goes back to previous. So I have these sections that are different colored from having two pregnancies close together. And as I get older, I am "losing my red pigment" (in the expert description of my hairstylist) and so my hair looks more of a dingy grey-blonde. It isn't true gray hair, just that dishwater blonde that sometimes looks so BLAH. Luckily my hairstylist would like some computer assistance, so we have decided to swap services, which means that I can get my hair colored for free. Otherwise, it wouldn't be something I would be able to afford right now. Yay! I think it will make me feel brighter and merrier this Christmas season.

Well, anyway, we had the snowstorm that came through on Wednesday, so I rescheduled my hair appointment for this coming week. This Thursday I got groceries in the afternoon and Thursday night we had Elizabeth come over with Jadeyn (6 months) and Kelsea (3 years) and had a really nice night at home with visiting and the girls playing. We talked about cloth diapers and I showed Elizabeth some Bum Genius and we tried them on Jadeyn. Then on Friday I was preparing for the big MOPS christmas party and Santa visits. I had planned on making sugar cookies. Cut outs, but not the regular cut outs, a new recipe that is "supposed" to mimic the big poofy fluffy cookies that you buy in the store. I had all the ingredients, and bought the lemon extract I needed, and was going to mix and chill and bake on Friday. Except I really didn't think about the "chill" part and didn't plan accordingly to allow extra time. So on Friday, I fed the kids breakfast and lunch, and then I mixed up the dough. Marek watched from the kitchen floor. For some reason the dough was so crumbly and wouldn't stick together. I was pretty worried. I looked over the recipe and couldn't figure out what I did wrong. I decided to chill it and see if it improved. Then, I realized that I didn't HAVE three hours, and so I put it in the freezer, put the kids down for naps, and took a bath. Before hopping in the tub, I posted on Facebook what my issue was in hopes that some of my baking friends and Pampered Chef friends would have some insight or had made that recipe before. Sure enough, a friend from my girl scout days mentioned remembering the eggs. I remembered the eggs. Once again I thought of the things that would add moisture to the recipe. Eggs (check.) Butter? Well, this recipe was for Shortening (check.) and Milk? Well... the recipe didn't call for milk. Hmmm. OMG! The BUTTERMILK! I forgot the buttermilk! When i double checked the recipe, whoever had typed and sent it to me had put the buttermilk in the ingredients list, but when giving step by step directions on what to add and when and in what order, Buttermilk was skipped. Oy. So I decided to mix up the powdered buttermilk and add to the dough, even though it had already been Chilled. This instantly improved the consistency and it was what it should have been, but it was now not chilled enough, and therefore, I wasn't able to cut it once I rolled it out. Back to square one and officially NOT taking cookies to the Christmas Party. Yep! Oh well. So now I have cookie dough that I need to roll and cut out, but have been busy today and putting it off again.

The MOPS Party was great. Evan got home and showered with Marek and we all got dressed nicely. The other kids were all wearing pajamas for pictures, but I wanted to have a formal photo with Santa like we do every year. The Easter Bunny and Santa are the only two times we dress the kids up nicely and get photos, so I wanted to take this opportunity to do this. We had planned to put the kids' Christmas outfits on and then take pajamas with us to put them in after seeing Santa. I was hoping that we would get the photos of our kids taken first, as soon as Santa got there, and before everyone else's kids arrived. We got to the church early (which is a miracle for us with both kids) and when Santa arrived, I was still having a few issues. The doors which we were taking the photos in front of were BEAUTIFUL ornate wood doors with greenery all around them, but the camera flash was glaring against the wood finish. Oy. No matter HOW I set the flash and the shutter speed (which I am NOT a professional at by any means) the glare was there. Eventually I moved the Christmas Tree to try to eliminate the problem, and it DID eliminate most of it, but not all of it. Then the tripod would not hold the camera completely vertically, and so the photos were slightly crooked. Evan finally was able to rig it to work, although anyone looking at the tripod sitting crookedly probably thought we were drunks. Then Santa (who was by far above and beyond awesom) asked me for a glass of water, which I found, but then he placed it on the floor behind his chair. So in nearly EVERY photo, his glass of water was showing. Grrr. For a perfectionist like me, that's a real issue. The other problem I had was that to the left of Santa was a gorgeous Christmas Tree, and to his right was a blank wall with a framed drawing of Jesus and a pedestal with the Church Guestbook. When Santa had a child that wouldn't sit on his lap, or a large family with lots of children, instead of asking them to stand on the side of the Christmas Tree (hello, PHOTO OP) He asked them to stand over on his right, which then included the water glass, his sack of candy canes, the drawing of Jesus, and the Church Guestbook in the photos. I tried to not have my head explode, and in fact did lots of creative cropping. I was able to get the guestbook and such out of nearly every single photo. Nearly. These small things can really bother an OCD person like me. Santa was wonderful with the children (as of course, Santa is) and he read them all a story (Twas the Night Before Christmas) and also chatted with them and took a large group photo with us.

Ardyn had absolutely no fear of him, and as soon as he arrived she was the first to march right over to him at the stairs and shake his hand. She told him that she liked his gloves, and his black boots. Santa told me that he had a "shadow" (referring to Ardyn, who was with him EVERYWHERE) and when she heard him say that she said "I have a shadow too!" and looked down and stomped to show him that her own shadow moved. LOL. She was very upset when she couldn't just stand next to him the whole time, and Evan had to take her and Marek into the sunday school room for treats and crafts while I took pictures. I was hoping that Evan would watch both kids without any issues (after all, that's what I do every day and at every activity we attend) but he was mostly tied up with Marek and therefore when Ardyn started running rampant, that's exactly what she was going. We have no idea how many cookies she ate, and Evan told me later that she was taking bites of them and putting them back up on the trays and tables. Oh. this made me feel like a HORRIBLE mom. Especially when she was moaning in her sleep the whole night and I was worried that she had a tummy ache. Next time I will specifically ask a mom who perhaps only has one child she is responsible for, if she could be exclusively responsible for Ardyn. I normally wouldn't do that, and maybe it's unfair of me to ask someone else to do that, but when I am tied up taking pictures and Evan is tied up with marek and unable to keep up with Ardyn, I am really nervous about WHO exactly is watching her. I don't know what the best way to handle something like that is. I guess I will learn as I go with this whole multiple child gig.

When Santa got ready to leave the festivities, Ardyn started getting hysterical and crying. She had the real crocodile tears going and said "No! Santa Please Don't GO!" it was heartbreaking. LOL. She was really attached to him. I uploaded the photos that I took to Flickr and to Facebook and Picasa.

I have been working VERY hard to keep this house in order and stop it from falling apart the past two weeks. I have been consistently having people visit, which has been wonderful, and has been a nice incentive to keep things clean and picked up. I have been making Ardyn pick her toys up on a daily basis.... with the goal being that if her room is a mess, so be it, but all her toys need to be IN HER ROOM at least once a day. This allows me to vacuum and keep the table cleared so that we can eat meals... and I have been running the dishwasher and keeping the kitchen clean and clear so that I can do some baking and make meals without having a terrible mess in there. I've also been trying to keep clean laundry put away and not in piles and baskets, and keep the bathroom tidy and the toothpaste funk out of the sink. So far, so good. Only problem is, I have dirty laundry up to my eyeballs, and the master bedroom is a disgrace. And tonight the kitchen is a mess, Ardyn's room is TERRIFYING, and the cookies are still not baked.

Today Ardyn went with Aunt Liz to see Santa again. Aunt Liz came over this afternoon. She was going to pick Ardyn up at 1:30 and so I gave Ardyn a bath and put her in a cute Christmas Theme Outfit, and then put a matching korker bow in her hair. And then, she peed in her outfit. Grrrrr! At least I had a spare Christmas Outfit (I had bought two on clearance at Target last year!) and a spare matching bow. LoL. I put her in a Pull-Up this time and changed her clothes. Then at 1:30 she was waiting by the door for Aunt Liz. She was so excited! And THEN at 2pm Aunt Liz texted and said she had fallen asleep and that she wouldn't be here till 2:30. Imagine telling a 2 year old that she has to wait an hour as she stands by the door ready to leave to see Santa and you have been telling her since 10am that she was going to see Santa after lunch. Poor kid. But she really had a great time, and Liz said she was once again attached to Santa and telling him how Mommy and Ardyn are going to make him cookies and leave food for the reindeer and a glass of milk for him, and how she wants Hungry Hungry Hippos. Liz said Poor Santa didn't know WHAT to say to her.

She was fortunate enough to get a great goodie bag with an apple, orange, banana, hershey bar, pack of gum, and a jingle bell on a red ribbon. She also won the door prize! Apparently she has her mother's childhood luckiness... I used to win all KINDS of prizes as a kid.

When she arrived home with Aunt Liz, Grandma Deb had stopped for a visit. She wasn't home 20 minutes when Grandpa Bob and Grandma Susan arrived to whisk her away for an overnight at their house. So, It's been a quiet night with Marek and myself. Well, quiet if I held him constantly. Because he knew no one was in his way, he insisted that he needed me to hold him. Evan made breakfast for supper again and it was delicious. Then I made some new tags for Marek's Diaper Bins in his nursery, and cut and sorted coupons into the couponizer (see previous post.) I keep telling myself I need to be doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen and organizing Ardyn's room and packing up some toys to start a toy rotation. But, here I sit. I just don't feel like spending my quiet night without kids and a husband cleaning my house. Is that so wrong?

Well, I should at least start ONE load of laundry. LOL. And I guess I should go to bed early, or at least go read in bed for a bit.

I hope everyone's Christmas Shopping is going smoothly and you are enjoying all of your holiday parties. I have to admit that I really do NOT miss having to attend two work Christmas Parties. I LOVE my coworkers, but it's kind of nice to not be running and running this holiday season. Winter Nights spent by the Christmas lights in a warm house are a-okay with me!

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