Christmas Cornucopia

While I wait for the latest version of itunes to download, a recap of my Christmas-so-far.

-Friday I went to Chesterfield Town Center to finish up my shopping. On the way, I was almost crashed into by a moron driver getting on 288 in front of me. After laying on my horn and brakes until she was stopped on the side of the road, I drove past to see she was about 16 and had her hands up in the air and appeared to be crying. I felt kind of bad for cursing her as I had been doing in the privacy of my Eclipse, but then I got over it and cursed her parents even more. Who the hell teaches a kid to drive the weekend before Christmas?! Don't they know how insane people get?!

-Speaking of which, I had it in my head I wanted to get my little sister a skirt. I believe I looked in 8 different stores for one (not too dressy, but not a micro mini) and didn't find a SINGLE ONE. I mean not a SINGLE FREAKING SKIRT. Apparently casual skirts went out of style and no one told me.

-Saturday, Bryan and I went to Verona, VA to see my mom and her beau, my brother and my sister. My mom cooked a fabulous meal and we ate like pigs and opened some awesome presents. Then we played with my little brother's iPod touch (Yes, I am the best Big Sister ever. Until Victoria grows up and actually makes money. Then we will compete for the title. ;-) ). Did you know you can get the internet on those things if you're in a wifi hotspot? It was super cool. Anyway, we hung out for a while, never enough time with the mom & bro & sis. Then home again, home again to grocery shop and clean for today.

-My dad, stepmom and grandma came over for the Grammer side Christmas today. Instead of trying to think of something to get each of them, I went with the experience as a gift thing. I made lunch and then we all went to the Nutcracker. Yay for making memories!

-A lady at work told me, after I bought the tickets to the Nutcracker, that it was boring. Au contraire, I say! It was fantastic! I loved it. Bryan even managed to stay awake the whole time, so that should tell you something right there!

-In addition to lots of other great gifts, I got an iPod! Woohoo! So excited. I never thought I needed one, but a few months ago when I was looking through my hundreds of CDs, I realized it would probably be pretty cool to have so that I could sort through all that music and have all the best songs in one place. So that's my mission. And now Zech and I can share music! I think. As soon as we both figure out this whole iPod business. We're new to the world of Apple.

-Jodie and her kids, Jordan and Dylan, came over after my family left and we did our Christmas, then rode around and looked at 8 of the Chesterfield houses on the Richmond Times-Dispatch Tacky Lights Tour. Would you believe two of those houses did not have their lights on!? The nerve!!! It was cool, though, and super tacky. Yay Christmas.

-Finally, headed out to Old Navy after Jodie left to buy a couple last minute items. Got in and out in about 5 minutes and my stupid car wouldn't start. Bryan was far away Christmas shopping, so I called our good friends the Bennetts and they came and rescued me. Luckily Justin is just as good with the cars as Bryan, so he brought this battery charger thing and started me right up. He suggested I try to start it when I got home (after turning it off, of course) to see if that's all it needed. Well, it didn't start again. So I'm thinking we will not be taking Sabine (my car) to Pennsylvania.

-And speaking of which, tomorrow it's off to the Great White North! Or Pennsylvania, whatever you want to call it. ;-)

-My itunes is done downloading. Tata for now!


Why I still insist that Santa visits me Christmas Eve.

Every year, I insist that whoever I'm spending the night with on Christmas Eve keep my presents hidden until I am in bed, and then they can put them out as though Santa has come. I made my parents do this, and now I make Bryan do it. Yes, I know that Santa isn't real, but I don't care. I like the surprise and the excitement of not seeing any of the presents until I wake up Christmas morning. You may think that I'm a little old to insist on this, but this little quirk is the direct result of a self-induced tragedy I experienced as a child. Let me tell you about it.

Growing up, I have no idea where my mom managed to hide my Christmas gifts, but Santa visited me every year, even after I figured out he wasn't real. For most years of my childhood, gifts would just appear under the tree and in the living room floor Christmas morning, me having never even seen a shopping bag in the weeks leading up to the big day. My mom was really good at keeping the mystery of Christmas. Until one year.

This particular year, I think I was maybe 8 or 9, I guess my mom got ahead of herself and had all of my presents wrapped and stored in a big bag at the top of her closet a week or more before Christmas. I don't know if she just trusted me to leave them alone until Christmas since they were already wrapped or if she thought she had a better hiding place than she did, but this is the only time I ever remember *knowing* where my presents were before I got them.

At the time, I was a latchkey kid, I'd get home from school maybe an hour or two before my mom got home from work and just go inside and watch tv or whatever. Except one day, maybe there was nothing good on TV or maybe I was just a curious little twit, I decided to explore this wonderous bag of goodies.

I went in my mom's room, took down the bag, and, as inconspicuously as I could at 8 or 9, unwrapped every single one of those presents to see what was inside. Ooh, lord, it was so exhilirating! And lemme tell ya, there was a lot of good stuff in there! All was going stupendously well until, rrrrrippppp! The wrapping paper on one Barbie outfit did not cooperate, and there was no way in hell I could stick that one back in there without my mom realizing I had unwrapped it!

As you can imagine, I was terrified and racked my brain for a plan to cover up this little misstep in my snooping. Finally, I decided to hide the outfit in my room and keep it there until after Christmas, and just hope that my mom would not notice I didn't unwrap that one on Christmas morning. Hopefully, I would not be found out.

Well, Christmas morning finally came. And it was the most disappointing Christmas of my entire life. Until that time, I did not realize how important the surprise of it was to me. That's not to say I was disappointed by the gifts--I had been anxiously awaiting being able to play with them for the week since I peeked at all of them--but Christmas was just not as fun when I knew what every thing was before I opened it. And had to pretend I had never seen it before. :)

Ever since then, I don't want to see or touch my gifts until it is time for me to open them. I am also realizing as I write this that this incident is probably also why I get thoroughly distraught when someone can't keep a surprise. The eight year old in me wants to shout out, "Don't ruin the surprise! It's the best part!" And so every year, "Santa" is still forced to visit me. :)

Oh, and as far as my mom goes, she totally found me out that year. She will tell you that she found me with one of my Barbies wearing that outfit i hid before Christmas ever came... I remember that I did manage to at least wait until after Christmas to dress Barbie in that particular set of clothes... but either way, as soon as she saw it, she figured out what had happened... you can't get anything past your mom!!!!


But we wouldn't get snow days...

This morning I saw a headline that said "Winter blast hits Northeast." Bryan is always talking about moving back to Pennsylvania, and I am always protesting that it is too cold there. He knows, however, that I do like the snow. So whenever there's snow in PA but not here, he says, "See, if we lived in Pennsylvania, we'd have snow." I have to admit that I do find that prospect appealing... but not appealing enough that I'm ready to pack my bags (sorry, Klingers).

When I read that headline this morning I had a brief daydream... it went something like this:

Man, wouldn't it be nice to actually get SNOW! I love snow. It's so pretty. And sometimes you even get a day off of work because of it. If we lived in Pennsylvania we'd have snow... but wait, if we lived in Pennsylvania, we'd get snow, but no snow days! Because to them snow is NORMAL for winter! What good is snow if you can't get a snow day!?

So, to my pals in the Northeast, enjoy that fluffy white stuff, and looking at it through your windows at WORK! ;-)


Falala, and all that jazz.

So yeah, 'tis officially the season. Miraculously I have finished about 60% of my Christmas shopping, my house is decorated, I've already attended one Christmas party and seen some boats decked out in Christmas lights on the James River (I guess that's actually technically a second Christmas party)... and of course, in TRUE Virginia Christmas season fashion, it's been in the freaking 70's for the past three days!

What is up with that. I mean, I've lived here my whole life, I know that's how it is. But I find it a bit annoying. I'd rather it be consistently cold than have these wacky, abrupt weather changes. It screws up my body, my arthritis does not enjoy it. I even had to go home early on Monday... not fun! (I mean, I'm not complaining about the nap, but I'd rather it not have been to sleep away pain!) Today the temperature seems to be going back down, and while I had brief tinges of protest from my back last night, I think ol' arthur is having an easier time with this transition.

So on Sunday we FINALLY got the big tree fully lit and decorated. My dear impatient husband somehow summoned every ounce of patience he possesses and worked on that damned tree for a good 8 hours or so over 3 or 4 days before he got the whole thing to work. I believe in the end approximately 99 lights were replaced. That is not a joke. Bryan bought a new strand of 100 lights and in the end only one was left of that set. The rest are now in our 9' pre-lit tree which I vow to meticulously examine for burnt out bulbs and REPLACE THEM as soon as I see 'em. Because that's the only thing I can figure was the problem--TOOOOO many lights out. (My fault--when it said "Still lights when some go out!" I just never bothered to replace the ones that were out!)

I'll try to remember to post some pictures from the party we went to last weekend (chez our friends and former neighbors Todd and Sarah)... it was a fun time! This coming weekend we have Bryan's work Christmas party and plan to go to Williamsburg for a visit with Frane and Tim. Yay for holiday get togethers!


Weird words.

I was just writing an email to my boss and wrote the word "answer." I am still sitting here looking at that word thinking it just does not look right. I know that's how you spell it, but do you ever have that thing where you write a word and it just doesn't look right, and then you really look at how it's spelled for the first time in your life and realize that is the most ridiculous spelling of a word ever?

Answer? How is that "ans-er"? Man, English is weird.


Holiday Beginnings: A Wrap-Up.

In true holiday fashion, as soon as Thanksgiving hit, life got hectic. So blogging has been put off and put off until now, a week and a few days after Turkey Day, I'm forced to just summarize the haps of the past 9 days in one wrap-up blog. So let's get started.

Bryan and I spent Thanksgiving in Richmond this year. Got up relatively early to finish making Gram's Pumpkin Custard (I bought a puree sieve which makes this pie SO MUCH easier to make). Called my mom and told her I want her secret cake recipes for Christmas. My mom started a baking business when we lived in the mountains and now that I'm grown up and interested in cooking (God knows I wasn't back then!), I think about how good these cakes were ALL THE TIME. Actually, I should stop talking about them because now I am craving that coffee cake. Anyway, talked to my mom for a while and then it was time to get ready to go to Grandma's.

Went to Grandma's for Grammer Thanksgiving Feast. It was great, as always to see everyone. Took the camera but suck at remembering to take pictures. Did get these shots:

My cousin Chase and his dad, my uncle Bruce, and my dad,
chillin' out after a big meal.

My aunt Elaine and cousin Heather,
waking up from a tryptophan-induced nap.

Came home after doing a drive-by of the Best Buy and realizing there were already about 30 people camped outside at 6:30pm. Watched some t.v. and wished we had stolen some leftovers from Grandma's.

Bryan and I decided about a year ago that we were going to buy a new t.v. on Black Friday of this year. Our old t.v. still worked, but we really needed an upgrade. So, we did. We did a little research and decided what we wanted, and had every intention of sitting outside the store and waiting for it to open to get some massive deal. Then it got cold. Then we realized the t.v. we wanted wasn't a door buster sale. Then Bryan discovered we could buy the t.v. online and pick it up at the store. So, we still woke up at 2:30am, but instead of sitting outside in the cold, we sat down at the computer and bought our new t.v.! We did still head out to the stores around 4:30 am, and there were about 500 people lined up at Circuit City when we got there, so we went to Sears instead. We got a couple deals there (don't get me started... whole 'nother blog), then headed to Circuit City to pick up our new monster t.v.

And here it is!

We got a 50" Samsung Plasma TV. It's fabulous. We love switching back and forth between the HD channels and the regular channels, the difference is amazing. We have also watched more football on this t.v. in the past week than I can add up... of course, there have been lots of good games to watch, so we might have watched that much football even if we hadn't gotten a new t.v....

This past week at work was out of control. My job is typically pretty low-key, but the workload comes in waves. This week was the crest of the wave--I swear there were like 10 things going on at once! Everything got done, but it was a little frazzling a few moments in there. The good thing about weeks like that, though, is that now things will slow back down a bit before the holidays. Not entirely, but some! :)

Bryan's week at work included a whirlwind trip to Dallas to look at some... thing. I don't know what. He has told me like 8 times but I keep forgetting. Some part for some machine at the power station. He left on Tuesday morning and came back on Wednesday afternoon. Like I said, whirlwind trip!

Friday night was the annual tree decorating party at Grandma's house. I'm glad we started this a few years ago--it's a great chance to see everyone between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and usually we see members of the family that we don't see on either holiday because everyone has other things to do on those days. Good eats, about 5000 ornaments to put on the tree, and lots of fun!

Here's Grandma decorating the tree. I could never get a shot of her from the front, so I had to settle for this angle. :)

Here's my cousin Amanda's daughter, Araya, decorating the tree. Araya and her brother David were the best tree decorators there--and the cutest!

Bryan had to work late, so I took him some clothes to the power station and we went from there. I think he worked harder this week than I realized, because he FELL ASLEEP at the party! Either that, or he was totally exhausted by all the ornament placing he did! :)

And finally, a couple "family portraits..." Me, dad and Grandma:

And several of the "Grammer Clan:"

Yesterday I was determined to get our house decorated for Christmas. We got our big tree down last weekend, and I intended to get that done in the evenings this past week. Unfortunately when I plugged it in Tuesday night while Bryan was gone, about 1/3 of it didn't light up (it's pre-lit). I got annoyed when I couldn't find a quick fix for this problem, and decided to wait for Bryan to help me fix it.

So yesterday I got all the decorations out and started on the other small tree we put up and all the other decorations while Bryan patched a leaky spot on the roof. The plan was, once it got dark, we would work on the big tree together. This plan went out the window when, around 6pm, Bryan came in to show me something he got from Lowe's and, on his way back out of the living room, noticed roofing tar tracks on the cream Berber carpet. Oh yes. The man had tracked ROOFING TAR into the living room. I almost cried. He quickly got the tube out and saw that paint thinner was what they recommended to clean it off. Of course we didn't have any of this, and he looked at me and said, "can we use paint thinner on the carpet?!" I was like, well even if it eats holes into the carpet, white holes will look better than black spots!!!! So back to Lowe's he went, and thankfully the paint thinner took that crap right out of the carpet. I was, needless to say, very relieved.

Of course, then the only natural thing to do next was clear out the living room and clean the carpet! (Yes, that's sarcasm you read there.) Bryan asked me to help him get everything out, and it took me about 30 minutes to come to terms with the fact that the big tree was going to spend yet another night unlit and undecorated. He was right... the carpet needed cleaning anyway, and might as well do it then rather than leave paint thinner eating away at it.

So... here we are Sunday morning. All of our living room furniture is either in the formal living room, the dining room or the front hallway. I have a 10-minute presentation in Spanish to finish that I have to give tomorrow morning and we're planning to head to Williamsburg this afternoon to meet up with my college roomie Frane and her husband for the Grand Illumination. It's supposed to rain, though, so I am not sure if we're going to tough it out or find another day to meet up... And somewhere along the way, I'll hopefully get that damned tree lit and decorated!