Friday, December 25, 2015

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree!

Christmas day was lovely. The morning was spent opening gifts and relaxing with family. I was blessed this year to receive a lot of really thoughtful gifts. Most exciting is a pair of black and white Nike shoes that I've been wanting for a long time. I also got a lot of books and some jewelry. Most fun though, was watching my family open up what I had given them. Especially Ruby, as she tore open the paper to discover a new frisbee toy as her other one had just broken. That dog is very spoiled :)

After our family gift time, we ate breakfast (I made chocolate chip pancakes), laid around and then got ready for the day. My Grandma and aunt came over and we exchanged gifts and then my favorite aunt and uncle stopped by just before we all were to leave for my other uncles house.

Once there, we ate appetizers and talked and chilled until dinner was ready. The atmosphere was so much more welcoming and comfortable than the night before. That side of the family really knows and appreciates me! Before we ate, we opened our gifts for each other and I got the cutest shirt from my aunt. Another notable gift was the tin of baked goods my grandma always gives us, yum!

Dinner was great, we had lasagna (even the one E dropped, though we didn't actually end up needing it but my cousin ate a piece just to make her feel better), potatoes, a brussell sprout dish and more. It was delicious. Afterward, I got to ride the hoverboard that my cousin B had received for Christmas. B is my age and he has autism so he always gets really cool gifts because he loves things that move, lights and anything interactive. He was a whiz at the board already but I was pretty shaky when I started out. My other cousins assured me that I would soon get the hang of it.

We played a trivia game for a little while my aunt and some other various family members were engrossed in the NBA game. I won trivia! Then M and I talked with my cousin C for a long time. He's applying to med school right now and is such a funny and unique guy.

Finally, it was time for our homemade gift exchange and I got a really awesome picture that my aunt had drawn. She used black marker to draw these big flowers with zen tangles in the middle. Super cool. And, my cookies went off really well! They looked super professional in the box I'd bought for them.

After the exchange, we all played the trivia game at the dining room table. I did a round and then before game number two got underway I bowed out in the interest of going on the hover board again. This was my third try and I really had gotten comfortable on it. Let me just say, it was some of the most fun I've ever had!!

Whizzing around on the hardwood floor, doing spins, going backward. Man, those things are great. I really want one now! I was definitely sad to part with it when it was time to go.

All in all, the fun of Christmas day overshadowed the not so fun on Christmas Eve. It really was a great holiday!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

2 Turtle Doves

Ahh Christmas Eve...hmm what to say about this year.

Let me start by saying that December 24th used to be my favorite day. I loved it more than my birthday, Halloween, Easter and Christmas Day itself. Why? Because we would spend the long evening at my grandparents cozy, festive house. Family would be bustling about, we would eat a lovely meal, open gifts in the tiny living room and then be banished to go and played while the adults held their exchange. It was all so wonderful and magical.

And it is no more.
But that comes later.

In the morning, I showered and then we watched Titanic. It's a new tradition of ours since we always associate it with Christmas when we first watched it during that season. I made the customary cinnamon roles and we relaxed for the 3 hour duration of the movie.

After it was over, I had to spend a looooong time in the kitchen baking my last cookie batches. E was in there too as she'd been put in charge of making two lasagna trays for the next day. Music was playing and festive-ness was all around when sadly, E's one tray folded and uncooked lasagna went pouring all over the floor. It was very sad but while my dad was cleaning up the mess and E was sobbing in the other room, I really had to continue baking. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, "If I can just be done at 3, I can relax in my room for awhile before having to get ready for church." As I was rolling cookie dough into dozens of little balls and setting timers and washing pans I had a blissful image of myself laying atop my covers with my space heater going, hands behind my head as I contemplated the holiday and just rested.

Sadly, it never came to be. For one thing, E left right after the lasagna incident to primp for over two hours and she left the kitchen a mess. Dad cleaned some of it, but I knew if I didn't do the rest, it wouldn't get done (my mom had to work until 4 so she wasn't around to help either). So I worked on cleaning the kitchen for a long time, I had to deal with E's sauce spatters on the oven and covering and storing her dish. When I was done with that, I naturally had to straighten the family room which was quite a project in itself. You see, the last thing I wanted was a messy house as we headed out for the night and then to have it all disorganized, cluttered and dirty on Christmas morning. I cannot enjoy a holiday in disarray. So I vacuumed and  folded blankets and tidied up that room as well.

Before I knew it, three o'clock had come and gone and it was time to get dressed for church. I was super excited to wear my new red dress and get to church on time but we walked in late and I even forgot to grab a candle.

I've talked about it in years passed but the whole congregation sings Silent Night by candle light at the end of the service and I look forward to it so much. Not having a candle, and the whole stress of the day almost made me burst into tears as we sang the opening carols. I prayed and calmed myself and my mom ended up giving me her candle which was really sweet and made me feel like a toddler :).

Service was beautiful as always and afterward I got to fellowship a bit and hand out gifts we'd gotten for some of our friends. I just love my church and celebrating the holiday with people who truly know and accept the real reason.

From there we went to my cousins house. There is this big drama because our family gathering used to start in the evening, around 6 or so but for some strange reason, certain family members wanted to make it an earlier all day thing. So now it starts at years prior we had gone for an hour or so, and then left for church and came back. But it was pointless and silly so now we just go after church (about 4 hours late...) and that's that.

Sort of.

You see, they'd already eaten and there was hardly any food for us. Yes, they saved us no food really. I was actually not angry, but just sad. In general, I feel sort of distant from that side of the family and it only seems to be getting worse. Then some people were mean to my mom and us for setting up a Secret Santa instead of the very boring and very lame gift exchange that usually happens. Whatever, I'm really just over it.

The highlight was the peppermint cheesecake that my friend from church made and we brought over to share. Oh it was delicious!

We left around 10:30/11 and looked at some Christmas lights before heading home and turning in to bed.

So the day didn't go off perfectly but all was well in the end.
Stay tuned for Christmas Day (a much merrier time indeed!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

3 French Hens

In the morning I made my final dough as well as cookie batch and then while watching Saving Mr. Banks, I chocolate covered pretzels which is SO MUCH more time consuming than I ever realized. But it was nice multitasking with the movie on. After it ended we all just laid low and that evening I did some more wrapping for my parents.

And it was very peaceful wrapping alone in the family room with the music playing and my dad cooking in the kitchen. But I had to then get ready to go to the Christmas party for my young adult small group at church. I wasn't really looking forward to it because I was just tired but it ended up being a blast.

We ate food and played games and generally had a lot of fun. I say it a lot but I'm just so thankful for all of the people involved.


Monday, December 21, 2015

4 Calling Birds

Today we "saw Santa" and I mean that very literally.

M and I were watching our cousins daughter El (who she nannies in the summertime) and we headed to our local mall so she could visit with ole St. Nick. Sadly, she had seen him the day before and was nervous that "double dipping" would be a bad idea and put her on the naughty list. SO, we looked at him as we passed by and then again when we were the level above and peering over the railing. So yeah, we saw Santa and it was nice.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

5 Golden Rings!!

Today we made a Christmas visit to my grandparents house and then I got home and finished wrapping!

I actually started yesterday but had to stop early because of movie night. I love to wrap and always look forward to it. I was especially excited to use our new paper this year. Oh and we watched Balto as we worked, an added bonus.

The gifts under the tree:
Note: None of these gifts are for my parents, sisters or myself. They're for family and friends that we'll be seeing on Christmas Eve/Day. We don't put out gifts for each other until Christmas Eve night to be opened the next day. I definitely love giving more than receiving now!

6 Geese a'Laying

Ahhh, today was the much awaited Christmas movie night. My family and my favorite aunt and uncle for two years now and it all started with a Christmas movie night! So, what we do during the monthly events is rotate through the seven of us so that we each get a pick. But for Christmas, we all chose one together. Last year we did Saving Mr. Banks and this year we did...............

It's a Wonderful Life! A total classic and M's favorite. It may have took an hour to get it all set up (my dad has a giant projector screen and we had to figure out how to stream it though the bluray, we are NEVER ready...) it was well worth it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

7 Swans a'Swimming

Today I finished my Christmas shopping! Yay! It wasn't without some drama though as there was a big car situation where I had no way to get to where I needed to go but I used the time at home to make my first batch of cookie dough.

I've talked about it before but here it is again: on Christmas day we go to my Dad's side of the family and do a homemade gift exchange. Most of my family is super artistic so the things they come up with look like they could be sold in stores, no questions asked. I always have a lot of trouble coming up with an idea so this year I'm just going for it and making a ton of different types of cookies. Can't get anymore "homemade" than baking, right? I'm excited though because I love baking and it will be fun to package them up all cute.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

8 Maids a'Milking

Today I added the new wrapping paper we bought yesterday to our bin and let me tell you, I'm OBSESSED with a few of those patterns, see for yourself:
I usually steer more toward red and green paper but that polished blue and gold with the animals on it is to die for and the silver with the bows! LOVE. There is also a super cute one that's hidden with green and white peppermint candies on it. I love wrapping paper, I really do.

Well, I'm off to work in 3 hours or so and when I return at 7:30, my sisters and I are going to watch Jack Frost. It's pretty heartbreaking at the beginning, just ask my fifth grade class when they played it for us at our Christmas party (everyone was crying), but it ends hopeful and heartwarming. I can't wait to watch!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

9 Ladies Dancing

Today I Christmas shopped with my mom. We left at 10 in the morning (ish) and arrived back at 5:30, it was a very full day but I still have some stuff to get! Overall, I was pretty pleased to find everything I was looking for. My original idea for M was way to pricey so I had to settle for something similar, oh well.

The highlight of the day was getting lunch, I didn't listen to my own advice last year and bring a snack so I was mighty hungry by the time we sat down to eat! Here are my purchases so far:

I still need to get the second part to my secret santa gift for the exchange on my mom's side of the family, find something for my favorite aunt and uncle, another aunt and the third child in MFF. I also have to get my mom and dad's gift but I know what I'm giving them so that's pretty easy. On Friday M and I are to finish everything up.

Oh and I also went to E's Christmas band concert tonight, my favorite song was Silent Night, so beautiful.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ten Lords a-Leaping

it was the day I've been waiting for!! Time to organize the wrapping paper bin! Last year I did a step by step how to so I don't need to explain again that again. Since I had worked pretty hard to keep things neat last year, cleaning and organizing was pretty easy this year and took me about 40 minutes.

We still have to buy some new paper but for now, here is the finished product:

The boxes and bags look a little messy but it is what it is. On Friday I shall wrap!


Monday, December 14, 2015

11 Piper's Piping

Well, after finally getting my TB test at work (holy cow, it took months to coordinate times) and going to the bookstore with my dad, I came home and tidied up my room.

Part of that tidying was switching out the book sin my corner bookshelf. This month, red and green it is! And this is my Christmas-y deed for the day!

Ps. Caroling was awesome yesterday! A night I'll always remember :)


Sunday, December 13, 2015

12 Drummers Drumming

For my "12 Days of Christmas" this year, I will be highlighting a Christmas activity that I partake in each day leading up to Christmas!

Today, I'm doing perhaps the most Christmas-y thing of all, going caroling!

My church has been doing this for years and I've always wanted to go along but it's never worked out until now and I'm super excited. The great thing is that the weather is so unseasonably mild so I won't be cold, that's a huge blessing. And I baked some delicious white chocolate chip cocoa cookies to bring to share. It shall be a great time indeed!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Under The Weather

Since Tuesday, just generally feeling sort of bad in the stomach region. Not much appetite and punishment when I do eat.

So that's no fun but at least I'm done with school now, three cheers for that!

And today I'm going to meet C's new boyfriend because that's what best friends do. The bad news is that we're going out to lunch and I really don't want to eat anything

We'll see how that goes.

Our house is pretty much completely Christmas now and I love it! I helped my mom decorate everything and as usual, got stuck putting up our Christmas village. I used to loathe it but now I have it down to a quick and easy science. It came out looking pretty nice if I do say so myself.

And Christmas shopping will take place this very Wednesday. My mom and I always go together and spend the whole day out and about. I actually have a very good handle on what I'm going to get everyone so hopefully that means no ambling around and waiting for an idea to strike.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Last Day and Vocal Rest

Irony of all Ironies:

Saturday was our big extended family Christmas party. It was a grand time with tasty food and a big turnout. It was also VERY LOUD. And so I had to shout to be heard in nearly every conversation. This resulted in a strained voice. Now, my voice is actually pretty easily strained. In fact, after shouting ans cheering on camera during GMA in NYC my voice wasn't back to normal for weeks, if not longer. But this time, it simply can't take weeks...because...

I'm performing in church choir this Saturday AND caroling on Sunday.

Now for the even more ironic part:

My final assignment is to do a READING in my nonfiction class. Yep, I have to read something I've written, out loud for about 7 minutes. So much for resting my voice.

But here is something happy: today is my last day of the semester! And though I have to go to a (3 hour!) class at work right from school and then directly to Bible study and choir practice, I'm just so happy to be done!