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I have so much more time now that I am not running to the gym all the time. Not that I am being exactly productive, but it just feels strange to have the whole morning at home. Today I am supposed to be cleaning up the house and going grocery shopping while Elsa is at preschool, but instead I’m going to write this entry.

I took some good advice and sent off a strongly worded e-mail to a person causing me angst. I got back an equally strongly worded e-mail. I guess the adrenaline hit my veins because I was shaking for ten minutes. I couldn’t even hold a glass of water. I am not used to confrontation and I don’t like it, but at this point it is necessary. A little shaking won’t kill me. I’m just glad I didn’t break out in hives, which has been known to happen in stressful situations.

In other news, I thought Erik was turning into some kind of mutant. The other day he showed me a new tooth that he was growing–in a spot that no tooth should ever grow. This is hard to imagine and a picture would be better, but you’ll just have to bear with me. He was growing a tooth out of the bottom of his gum, underneath one of his permanent teeth. In the front. The dentist said he wouldn’t be concerned if it was coming in from behind, but coming from the front was bizarre and I’m not sure the dentist even believed me/understood what I was talking about (I spoke to him last week during Elsa’s appointment).

Mike took Erik in yesterday and I was prepared for some kind of costly orthodontia, but it turns out he wasn’t really a mutant growing a wacky tooth. A big shard of splintered root from a baby tooth had been left behind when the baby tooth came out and had finally worked it’s way out and was pushing through his gum. The dentist removed it with tweezers. I’m told Erik was not exactly the best patient. I’m just glad I wasn’t there for it, though it probably would have been more fun than what I was doing (yearly lady exam).

Not much else going on around here. Rain is making me sleepy. Kids are making me crazy. Need to clean house. We’re living it up over here.

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Isn’t this dandy?

I had an appointment with an orthopedist today to try and determine what’s wrong with my knee. I’ve been really worried that I seriously damaged something and would need surgery. It hurts like crazy when I stand up from a sitting position and I’m limping around like an old woman. Turns out I have an arthritic bone spur. The original x-ray showed nothing at all, so the doctor had his own tech do an x-ray on his machine and the bone spur showed up very clearly. I always thought an x-ray was an x-ray, but apparently there is a finesse to doing them correctly.

The doctor says physical therapy will have me ready to go in no time, so I hope that’s true. He said I should work out an exercise plan with my physical therapist, but the only thing to worry about is the pain. I’m not damaging things further when I work out, which was one of my concerns.

But arthritic bone spur. Ugh. That sounds like something an old person should have. I don’t want to be an old person! Better than the alternative, of course, but . . . ugh.

In other news. . . Elsa decided to go and grow a couple of inches upwards and outwards this week, so now none of her clothes fit. She keeps taking them off because they are too tight, which is fantastic during a polar vortex We have heat, but even with it pumping full blast it was still pretty chilly in the house. I was really hoping her winter clothes would last her all season, but we still have at least two more months of cold to get through so there’s no denying it. She’s going to have to have some supplemental wardrobe items. I even had to buy her a new winter coat! I can barely zip up her old one, especially with a fleece underneath it. Thankfully those types of things are on clearance right now.

My big PTA project launches tomorrow* and I am really nervous. We introduced the Read-a-Thon to the kids on Monday and they seem excited to try to earn the minutes, so I think the reading part will be successful. We put a box out and they can suggest crazy things for the principal to do if the school reaches 200,000 minutes. They are stoked!

I just don’t know if the fundraising part will be successful. We need to bring in at least $300 just to pay for supplies/prizes. I would hope we bring in a whole lot more than that, but everything with the PTA has been a dismal failure this year, so who knows. Part of the problem is that we’ve not had a single board meeting this year. I don’t understand how we are supposed to function without regular board meetings, but apparently I’m the only one who sees this as a problem. I can’t wait for this year to be over so I can throw in the towel. I can’t continue to use my energy on something that very, very few other people care about.

*Our school district only allows us to send home parent communications on Thursdays.

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The Raging Debate

You should see the drama and fights on my Facebook page right now. Our county elected not to close schools today and the opinions on this decision are making me go nuts! Personally, I think it was the right decision, but I’m not going to get into a facebook war over it. If someone really can’t get to school in a safe manner their parent can keep them at home, but it is not that cold. Our county has a policy that the kids don’t have outdoor recess if the temperature is below 32F, so they will only be outside a very short time (unless they are forced to walk to school).

On one side of the aisle you have people who are enraged that they had to send their kid out in this mess (what mess? No snow. It’s just cold.). All of those people drive their kids to school. I don’t understand. Do their cars not have heaters? Have they not heard that it is possible to wear a coat and gloves in a car?

They say that they are happy they are able to work it out, but what about all the poor children who have to walk because their parents don’t have another way to get them to school They’re going to get frostbite! Side note: It dropped down to 5F. I don’t think anyone’s going to get frostbite if they wear gloves and walk briskly.

On the other side of the aisle we have the people who are victoriously telling everyone to get their butts to school and stop complaining. The children who are poor and don’t have warm coats and other outdoor gear probably don’t have any food or heat, so they needtheir free warm lunch and a heated school building!

The other side comes back with “But we have a lot of immigrants from southern countries! They don’t know to buy coats! What are they going to doooooooooooo?”

Uhhhhh. . . sorry, but because someone is an immigrant they are too stupid to buy a coat when it’s cold? It normally doesn’t get this cold here, but it regularly drops down into the teens. We’re not living in Florida. In my neighborhood we have a lot of immigrants from very hot countries and they tend to be the most bundled up because they are not used to the cold. I am finding the whole debate pretty distasteful with all the assumptions on both sides going on about poor families and their lack of ability to keep their kids safe.

I haven’t commented on any of these posts or made a post of my own because it is a completely ridiculous thing to get fired up about. Yet here I am, writing this journal entry. I’m just grateful that both of my kids are at school and I have 2 hours of peace. Blessed, blessed peace.

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Yes, I want lice. . . not

I haven’t been back to my hometown since my dad died in June of 2011. I don’t intend to ever go back. It’s sad in a way, but there is nothing there but crazy people, alcoholics, drama and filth.

My mom doesn’t realize that my intentions to stay away are 100% set in stone. She hasn’t asked me to visit for quite a while, but yesterday she started telling me about how much it would mean to her if I could come and see the renovations she’s done on grandma’s house (she’s living there now). She even offered to pay airfare for the kids, if I would bring them out to see their cousins.

She thinks I am overreacting when I say that I will not have my children around an active drug addict. “But she hasn’t done any drugs all week! I don’t think. Well, I haven’t seen her in a couple of days but she’s probably doing good right now! She’s harmless!”

Yeah, mom. Talk to me when she’s been sober for a year, not a freakin’ week. Anybody can be sober for a week.

My niece has had lice on and off for months, which is another reason I refuse to go. Not the big reason, but big enough. I do not need to deal with lice if it can be avoided “it’s not like she’s going to rub heads with you! Just don’t sleep with her and you’ll all be fine!” As if a three year old is not going to be crawling all over her older girl cousin and playing dress up with her things.

Every single time we go there we get sick. The last time we all got strep throat. I know it’s because she doesn’t clean properly. I refuse to eat anything she cooks because she has no idea about food safety and doesn’t see the problem with leaving food on the counters overnight. My sister has/had MRSA, so I’m really not wanting to take my kids around someone dripping with bacteria.

It was a very brief conversation. I’ve learned to cut conversation short when I don’t like the topic, trying to train her that if she wants a long chat she’ll avoid topics that aren’t up for discussion. I’m not visiting her. End of story. She may think it is perfectly normally to live as a hostage to an addict’s insanity, but I refuse to expose myself or my children to the lifestyle. It was a big fail on my part to take Erik back there so many times when he was little. I should have sought counseling for my family issues when I was much younger–it would have made me a much stronger person, much sooner. I think I’m in a good place now, but it has taken a lot of soul searching and crushing epiphanies to realize my family, even my mother, are not good for me and never really cared that much about me. I’m the scapegoat and don’t need to subject myself to that role.

Let’s talk about happy things! We are having school tomorrow! We will be hit with the polar vortex down here in DC, but temps will only get to around 0F, which isn’t that bad at all (says the woman who lived above the arctic circle for 3 years). I do worry about the kids who have to wait for the bus or walk to school since so many people don’t have proper winter gear, but I am betting a lot of parents will be holding their kids home from school if they have too far to walk or too long to wait. Erik will only have to be out in the air a couple of minutes since he doesn’t leave the house until the bus barrels by. It does a turn around at the end of our cul-de-sac and we have 22 children who board the bus, so he has plenty of time to get down there after we see it pass by.

My nerves have been completely shot by this winter break. I have always had certain sensory issues, especially with noises, and having an 8 year old boy doesn’t help. There is constant noise. Light sabers buzz, he talks non-stop, he questions everything or tells me things that are just completely uninteresting to an adult, he batters balloons, tries to whistle, runs cars around the house, finds every toy in the house that beeps, and on and on and on. By Saturday I was literally sitting at the table with my hands over my ears, crying. Too much input! He’s a wonderful kid and I’m so glad he is who he is, with his insatiable curiosity and ability to stand up for himself. But Stop. With. The Noise! Mama can’t take it.

You’d think Elsa would be the loud one, and she certainly is not an innocent in the noise making game when Erik is around. He makes her scream all the time, which sets everyone’s nerves on edge. Or, my least favorite thing ever, she refuses to talk and only barks, growls, grunts and otherwise becomes his pet wolf. I swear people at the open gym the other day probably thought she was developmentally delayed because she refused to speak and kept whining and growling. However, in general she is able to sit and play quietly by herself for a good chunk of time and she doesn’t have to be in my face, constantly asking questions and telling me things. That made today a good day, with MisterE off at school. When I realized he might be home tomorrow, I almost had a fit of vapors just like the old timey ladies. I don’t know how I would ever home school this child.

And now. . . off to bed! Morning is going to come way too soon around these parts.

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A few months ago something snapped in my knee. I’ve been babying it and not doing as much exercise as I would like, though I didn’t give up BodyPump. It was doing pretty good until Christmas day. I did several days of the elliptical to prepare for the feast and something just SNAPPED even bigger than before and now I am screwed. I even went to the doctor on Friday to get the ball rolling in whatever direction it needs to roll. Physical therapy? Surgery? I don’t know.

I got an x-ray done and a referral to an orthopedic guy. I don’t have an appointment with him until next week, so I’m just trying to wear a brace and stay off it. The primary care doctor didn’t think it was the tendons. It feels like it is something under my kneecap, so maybe damaged cartilage. I just hope it is a physical therapy kind of fix and not a surgical fix. Though can physical therapy fix cartilage damage?

I am feeling all kinds of panic about what this means for my exercise schedule. If I can’t move, how can I burn off this fat? I need to get very, very serious about my diet. I have a wedding to officiate in March. I would like to lose a minimum of 20 pounds by then!

I want to talk to the orthopedic person sooner rather than later to find out if I can go to BodyPump and just skip squats/lunges. Though I’m not sure when I would be able to start that since I can barely walk at the moment. I wonder if swimming would be ok? Our community college has a pool with a decent priced membership, though it would mean I have to go after Mike gets home from work since they don’t have childcare. Or! Maybe I could go during Elsa’s preschool. That would be perfect! Maybe I have a solution! But first I need to talk to the doc and find out if that would even be ok.

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Wonderful Days

We had a really wonderful Christmas season this year. I love that we have built our own traditions and Erik actually knows and expects those traditions. I really love making sure the magic happens, which is something I didn’t have a lot of when I was a kid. My mom worked hard to make sure we had gifts under the tree, but she didn’t really do any of the little extras to make the season shine like cookie baking or hot cocoa nights.

Mike is the decorating king. He is the one who does up most of the house, though I do help. Then he puts together a Swedish Christmas Eve meal and we sit around and eat meatballs in the candlelight. We open family gifts on Christmas Eve night, then Santa comes and leaves stockings for everyone and more gifts for the kids. I really enjoy that little thrill of a Santa stocking, even though I am old enough to know that Santa needs some helper elves to fill them.

We had a major problem this year: Elsa’s main gift had two H pieces and no J piece, which was not discovered until 11 pm on Christmas Eve. Thankfully she’s 3 and didn’t really know she should expect a “big” Santa gift. Santa left a letter explaining that the gift fell off the sleigh and landed in the ocean. He’s having his elves make a new one and will deliver it sometime soon. This was mainly for Erik’s benefit so he would not be upset when she suddenly got this big gift.

The manufacturer did not have good customer service. The part is out of stock and they have no idea when it will be in stock. We ended up taking it back to Toys R Us, but our store did not have another in stock. I have to re-order it online, so who knows when Santa will show up again. At this point I am sorry I left that letter! We should have just returned it and maybe gotten it for her birthday in April. I know she’ll love it, which is why I want it so badly. She was playing with one at a neighbor’s house and literally spent hours with it.

We spent Christmas morning playing with gifts, then went over to our friend’s house for Christmas dinner. We had a blast playing the most inappropriate game ever (Cards Against Humanity). It’s so nice to have a place to go where we can feel celebratory without snide comments with a side helping of guilt. Fun and food is all I need!

Our friends have kids the same age as Erik and Elsa. They are pretty good kids, but man are they spoiled. They get gifts from tons of extended family and it looks completely overwhelming to me (probably at least 30-40 gifts per child). The boy, Irish Lad, turned into a complete goblin and was being a huge, ungrateful brat (even his parents said so).

Though it makes me sad that my kids don’t have much in the way of extended family, at least it means they aren’t spoiled to the core with an overwhelming number of gifts. I’ve got it pretty good with my two kids. They generally get along and are not that demanding about material possessions. Granted, I’ve worked pretty hard to make sure they understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. I’m really proud of Erik because he used his own money to buy Christmas gifts and was excited to do so. He also always buys his sister a treat from the snow cone truck or ice cream man with no prompting at all.

In other news, I’ve been devouring a book called The Passage by Justin Cronin. When I first read about it I had no desire to read about it (near future taken over by vampires? Ugh), but then I kept hearing about it and people I trusted said it was awesome, so I figured I would read a sample. And I can’t. Stop. Reading.

I even figured out how to use the Kindle cloud reader on my laptop (very easy to use, but painful on the eyes) when I couldn’t locate my Kindle. I guess the description of near future world taken over by vampires is accurate, but they are not your shiny, romantic, heart throb vampires that are so popular right now. They are brutal, mindless killers.

The first 30% of the book reads like a modern day Micheal Crichton, then it launches 100 years into the future and it reads like a post-apocalyptic vampire nightmare. I am only 50% into the book and I believe there are two sequels, so I’ll be reading for a while.

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Winter has arrived

What nutty weather we’ve been having! I am sweaty and hot, but Mike won’t let me turn on the A/C since it is officially winter even though the thermostat says 76. Opening windows helped. I just don’t like to sleep with the windows open in this neighborhood. There’s way too much noise.

We took the kids to the park in their short sleeves and let them get ice cream from the ice cream truck, simply for the novelty of an ice cream truck adventure on the first day of winter.

In other news, Erik has informed me that Rudolph isn’t real. Duh! Everyone knows he’s just in the movies and TV shows. Santa doesn’t need a reindeer with a glowing nose.

So with that, I am not so sure that he is still a Santa believer. He was 100% sure at the start of the season, but he’s looking for proof that he’s a fake now. We did our Portable North Pole videos today (have kids who believe in Santa? You’ve got to google it and make your kids a free video!). He was totally enthralled and really believed Santa was talking to him. I tried to get him out of the room for Elsa’s video, but he insisted on watching and was not impressed that it was pretty much a repeat with a few things changed.

On Friday I had a wrapping playdate with my MOMS Club. I invited people over to wrap up presents while the kids played in the other room (connected, so it wasn’t like we threw them to the wolves). I was really happy with how things went. We had a total of six moms, which is the perfect number for my little townhouse. I had 12 moms over once and it was a logistical nightmare. Anyway, half of us had gifts to wrap and half didn’t, so the presentless half helped us and it went really quickly. I think this is going to have to become a yearly tradition.

Since I’m a state coordinator with MOMS Club, I pay a lot of attention to the trends in other places and what International MOMS Club recommends. They really want us to do things for moms to make it a moms club, not a kids club. I love that idea, but it is not always easy to find something like that since the kids will be present. I’m trying a few different things (menu planning was a huge hit a couple of months ago), but need to come up with some other creative ideas if I want to continue being the moms’ planner, not the kids’ party planner (believe me, we have plenty kids’ parties).

Oh, and I wanted to mention that yesterday I received a bunch of LJ comments from old entries that were never e-mailed. Sorry if you thought I was ignoring you! I should have went through and answered them, but it has been crazy busy here. The one question was about Elsa’s preschool. I am keeping her at the same preschool but they have different options. I’ve decided I’m going with the four day, less intense option. I talked to her teacher and the director and don’t really see any reason to basically send her to learn everything she’s going to learn in kindergarten. I made that mistake with Erik and it was a nightmare since he was so bored once he got to kindergarten. I still think Elsa will be one of the bright ones in her kindy class, even without being pushed to learn to read at age 4.

At least I think she will be more content with school, even if she is ahead of the curve. She loves to sit and write her letters, read books, color, and all of that. Erik is still putting in the bare minimum effort on his writing assignments. I am going to either e-mail or ask his teacher for a conference after the break. I want to start some sort of incentive for him to actually do his writing assignments. I was thinking that for every 10 writing papers he brings home with a check plus, we’d go out to Chuck E. Cheese. I’ve talked to him and talked to him about doing his writing and he refuses. He says it’s boring so he sits and stares at the clock until writing time is over.

Guess I better wrap this up and go to bed. Gotta have all my energy for cookie baking with the kids tomorrow. They love it, but you know having helpers makes it take three times as long. At least they are learning and having fun, right? They really are good kids and very independent. Now that Elsa is going on four life is getting so much easier!

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Jingle Jangle


We’ve been in high holiday mode here at Casa de Possum. We went and visited firefighter Santa for free this weekend. As you can see from the above pic, it was not necessarily high class. This was the best picture of the bunch and I’m debating if I need to go spend a bunch of money on a picture with a fancier Santa, but the frugal side is winning out I think. Plus, who wants to stand in line? It was a lot simpler before Erik started school and we could go at 10 am on a weekday morning.

Our elf has been giving us daily assignments, some that are more fun than others. Yesterday we made paper snowflakes. I didn’t expect it to go over well, but it was the most popular thing we’ve done I think! They only quit because we made them, then they were both at it again this morning. Of course Elsa doesn’t know how to cut her snowflake so that it will still open up. She just ends up with shreds of paper, but that’s ok. I think I’m going to print off some cool templates for Erik and see if he can make some Star Wars snowflakes.

We also had a little Swedish-eque get together on Sunday. I don’t like saffron buns, so made cinnamon buns instead. We had mulled wine and the cinnamon rolls. It was quite festive, except I made a huge mistake. I was trying to explain how yeast works to Elsa and explained that the yeast eats the sugar then farts out air and that’s what makes the buns fluffy. She then determined that the cinnamon buns were called farts and kept telling everyone “My mommy is making farts! When are we going to eat farts! I love farts!” and on and on. Just two minutes ago she crawled up on my lap and asked for a fart. While hilarious, this is not a cute family inside joke/tradition I want to establish.

Yesterday a package arrived while Erik was home and he wanted to open it. I’ve managed to hide the fact that we are receiving approximately 10 zillion packages a week from him, so he has not really figured out that he could search through the house for hiding spots. My sister and I used to ransack our house and find all our gifts. We would even open the presents from my grandma (she always just stuck things in gift boxes and secured them with a piece of tape). It ruined Christmas every year, but we never learned our lesson.

I ran up to my room with the package, locked the door and tried to find a place to hide the gift. All my gift hiding places were filled up, so I had to improvise. He was standing outside the door, caterwauling the whole time, trying to get me to tell him where I was hiding the package. I knew if he looked hard enough he would find it, so when I finally left the room I locked the door behind me. Our doors just have the little privacy locks, but the previous owners left little keys to them on each door molding. I vacuumed up two of them before I realized what was happening (yes, I vacuum my moldings), but we have one left and that’s all you need.

I put the key where it belonged, then went downstairs. I heard a commotion and went up to find Erik trying to swat the key down with a towel. I took the key and tried to hide it, which led to a merry chase all through the house. I finally convinced the kids the key was hidden in Elsa’s room (by sheer trickery, not by actually telling them that) so they spent a good hour searching in her room. They finally gave up and decided the best way to find the key was to have me give them hints. They didn’t seem to understand the concept that I was hiding it from them so they wouldn’t use it. I was not about to give them hints.

Of course I eventually had to open my bedroom door and Erik started going through my closet. He was sorely disappointed when he found a big box full of Disney baby dolls (meanwhile I was laughing hysterically). They’re my birthday party gift stash, all bought on clearance. I think he was tricked enough to believe that’s what I was hiding, but who knows. I just know I need to wrap up some of the gifts while Elsa is in school today so I can not be quite as worried about him finding them.

When I think of the actually quantity of work I need to accomplish in the next 7 days, I start to get a little panicky. But here I sit, typing out an entry instead of actually getting any of it done. I can’t really wrap with Elsa in the house, but I don’t know when I’m going to be able to get any work done since she only has preschool today and Thursday–and Thursday is her program. Maybe I should send out a request to the babysitting co-op. I’m sure someone has time to watch an extra kid for a couple of hours, right? Hahahaha.

Ok, off to get something done! May your day be productive!

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Party Time

Mike had his holiday party tonight. I tried to find a sitter, but finding someone on a week night was impossible. After the sixth rejection I gave up and took it as a gift. I have discovered that I really don’t like spending a shit ton of money on appropriate clothing and a babysitter, then going and making small talk with people that I can’t relate to on any level. Being a bookish stay-at-home mom in a room full of career driven rocket scientist computer nerds quite frankly sucks.

Last year it was ok because one of my best friends was there. We finagled Mike into hiring her husband so she wouldn’t have to move to New Jersey. This year she has a newborn and she doesn’t want to leave the baby alone with any of her regular sitters. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t either. That just meant I was back to having no one to talk to, since Mike would be off schmoozing.

It was very freeing to say no to this party, but it did mean that I had the kids by myself tonight. Mike is usually the one who gets stuck putting the kids down a few times a month while I’m off doing MOMS Club and PTA stuff. I felt very incompetent at the job since Elsa kept crying and asking for her daddy. Usually Mike gives them a bath, then I take care of Erik and Mike takes care of Elsa. Poor Elsa was heart broken that her daddy had abandoned her.

Since I knew it was going to be a long day, I had the elf tell us to go pick out special Christmas ornaments. I do this every year and it is becoming really fun to pull out the box of ornaments and see what Erik has picked out (this year was Elsa’s first year of being part of the ritual). I took them to Kohl’s since I had a 30% coupon and they had a line of super cute bakery based ornaments. I was sure I was going to be able to get the kids to pick out something yummy looking, but they foiled my plans. Elsa picked out a very pretty turquoise ice skate and Erik picked out a plush wolf.

I was disappointed but tried not to show it since they have the right to pick out what they want.

Then I realized something.

I’m a grown-up. If I want a friggin’ cupcake ornament, I can put a friggin’ cupcake ornament in my basket and BUY it. I don’t need an imaginary elf to give me permission. I can do things to make myself happy! So I bought THREE yummy looking ornaments and made myself happy. Take that, self denying self!

Speaking of self-denial, I seriously need new towels. Our newest towels are at least 10 years old. They are starting to fray around the edges and look pretty worn. I used to hate the gross, holey towels in my childhood home and swore that I was going to buy new towels every single year.


They absorb water just fine. They work. I can’t seem to make myself spend money on new ones since the current ones are perfectly serviceable.

But it would make me happy.

Maybe that will be a project for January. We have to get through Christmas before I spend money to replace something purely for aesthetic reasons.

I think that’s it in the exciting adventures of Carrie. Guess I better sign off and go to bed. I got really spoiled after two unexpected sleep-in days (school was cancelled Mon and Tues).

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*When I was a kid I loved making those Makit & Bakit bead stain glass sun catchers. I don’t know why, but it was my favorite craft. Maybe because it was foolproof? I started buying them for Erik years ago, which. . . hahahahaha. Not his thing. Sitting still? Paying attention? Meticulous placement of tiny beads? Not gonna happen.

The elf left us a couple of Christmas ornament sun catchers the other day, which was probably a mistake. Erik was mainly disappointed that the plastic beads weren’t sprinkles. He thought I was lying, then was so surprised when he tried one and it was just a hunk of plastic.

At least Elsa gave it a go! When she’s older she’s going to rock the crafts; heck, she already does. She was very precisely filling in each hole, keeping her colors separated. I had big plans to post a picture of Erik’s work and her work and have you guess which was which. Then he went and ruined it by convincing her to do hers the same why he did his–mix up all the beads and pour them on top of the thing in a heap.

Gee, thanks, kid. And this is why we can’t have nice things.

*Today the elf told us to make gingerbread houses. Danged elf didn’t actually leave us the gingerbread houses so I had to run all over town looking for the only kind I will make. There’s a special kind that comes with an E-Z Build tray that makes it. . . you guessed it. . . easy to build the house. Generally I hate these stupid things because I can’t make them stay up, but this has a tray with a template that holds it up. They don’t carry them at Target or Michaels. I couldn’t figure out where else to go, but finally had a vague memory of Bed Bath and Beyond and struck gold. I think that may be the only place that carries this brand.

Kids enjoyed it, of course, but mainly wanted to eat the candy and suck the frosting out of the bag. I have always had big dreams of making the perfect gingerbread house, but those dreams were shattered at a young age when my friend and I tried to bake our own gingerbread and make a house out of it. Do you know how hard it is to make your gingerbread the exact right size and shape? Especially when you are about 12 years old and no grown-up will help you or give you hints?

I’ve tried to make a super awesome house in my adult years, but I hate spending that much money on candy that will go uneaten and I hate working with frosting. I am not very creative and can’t see how things fit together, so it turns into a stressful project. I give up on gingerbread houses.

*I snagged the spot for “special holiday treat” for the preschool Christmas party. I think I’m going to do reindeer cupcakes. I did graveyard pudding cups for Halloween and only two kids would even try them, which was disappointing. Surely they will try a cupcake (though I noticed several kids in the other classes didn’t eat their Halloween cupcakes). Maybe I should go with plain ol’ cookies instead? I like making something special that reflects the holiday, but the kids seem pretty meh about the whole thing. They’d probably be just as happy with a dried up old shortbread cookie as a fancy cupcake.

Or maybe I should do Reindeer Chow (a chocolatey chex mix type thing)? Then the kids would at least be able to separate out what they want. Kids seem to do better with little snacky type things.

*We went to Buca for lunch today and sat next to the most annoying table ever. Buca is an Italian chain that specializes in family style dining. During lunch on the weekends you can sometimes order individual portions, but in general they want you to order from the family menu. You order portions that feed several people, so you have to agree on what you want. I sort of hate it since I am picky. I’d never go with a large group who wanted to do the family menu, but Mike will always let me get something I prefer.

The table beside us appeared to be a college study group. Two were vegetarian, one was dairy-free and one was gluten-free. I don’t think most of them had been there before and they had quite a time placing their order. They finally each ordered their own dish, but didn’t realize it would serve 2-3 people (even though they had been trying to decide what to share. I was so confused about their confusion), so it was kind of hilarious when they were brought these GIGANTIC portions. They kept sniping about the menu not meeting their individual needs, which would have been fine if they were talking amongst themselves, but they were being so rude to the waiter. What was he supposed to do about it? The gluten-free lady told him in a super snotty voice “so I guess I’ll just eat lettuce then. I really want to sit here and chew on lettuce all day.”

Ummmmm. . .

I have complete sympathy for people who can’t eat gluten. It is a really tough diet to follow and I would never want to have to do it, but there are several local restaurants that offer gluten free choices. Every gluten free person I know extensively researches restaurant options. They never, never assume that they are going to get an edible meal at a restaurant they don’t research first. I can totally understand being frustrated by lack of options, but don’t take it out on the poor waiter who has nothing to do with the menu.

At the end of the meal Erik begged for the cannoli. We rarely get dessert when we go out, but we were in the holiday spirit so decided to let him do it. I’ve never had a cannoli before and thought it might be interesting to try. They have cannoli on Curious George quite often (or maybe it is just one episode and I’ve seen it a zillion times? I don’t pay much attention, but I know they frequent an Italian restaurant with a mentally ill chef who thinks his cat is a food critic), which was why Erik wanted to try is so badly.

I took a bite and it was SO DISGUSTING. Gross gross gross. I don’t know what they put in that thing, but I wanted to go in the bathroom and scrub my tongue. Everyone else loved it, so I guess I was the crazy one at my table. Probably a good thing I didn’t like it–I don’t need any more sweet obsessions.

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