Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the girl who survived Christmas!

So, again, let me reiterate that December is CRAZY busy around here. Aramis' birthday is the 19th, Ian's is the 22nd, then, of course, there's Christmas. I guess the silver lining in being unemployed is that I had the time to really put effort into all of the festivities.

I was able to make gifts this year, which was both economical and a good use of my free time.

For my good friends at work, I made these Christmas trees.

Yes, I still went to the office Christmas party as my friends made it quite clear my presence was expected. I enjoyed myself, even though it was bittersweet.

For the kids' teachers, I altered some tins I had on hand and filled them with Christmas goodies. For Ian's teacher, I had Ian draw some Christmas-sy things and decoupaged them onto the tin.

(That's Santa's reindeer on top of our house.)

And for Zacky's teacher--a fellow scrapper--I went all out because I knew she'd appreciate it.

For my mother, I had this crazy idea I could get a massive cross-stitch project done in time for Christmas. And, I couldn't make it easy, no sir. You see, a few months ago my mother casually (Ok, about as casually as a Mac Truck) mentioned that she had cross-stitch projects from all the female members of the family framed and hanging on her wall and she would really appreciate one from me. Now, about the same time, my LSS hosted a sillhouette artist. Now, since my mother has sillhouettes of my sister and me and has always remarked fondly on them, I decided to get sillhouettes made of the boys. Then she mentions this cross-stitch thing and, silly me, I decide to combine the two and translate the sillhouettes of the boys into cross-stitch for my mother.

I started in November. I've had roughly six weeks and I got two boys done--even with my extra free time. Turns out my brilliant idea is HARD to execute!

But, as it so happens, I did get this far, and so maybe I'll have the other two boys done by her birthday (in September.)

Sorry about the sideways--Blogger is not cooperating! grrr!

Next up, Aramis' birthday. I made an awesome lasagna from scratch for him. Seriously, I wish I could put a sample on my blog because it was THAT good! We ate lasagna for two days and then I gave the rest to my neighbors. (I make an obscenely large lasagna.)

Three days later, it was Ian's birthday. Right about this time, someone on Freecycle put up some Batman decorations, so we actually had a theme going here. And since we decorated, we invited some kiddos over to share in cake and ice cream. I'm not up to hosting a full-on party, but I'll tolerate the neigborhood kids for an hour or so. Ian loved it. My little guy is six! Can you believe it?

Next up, of course, was Christmas. Thanks to some very special Christmas elves, we were able to fund Santa more than we had anticipated. It was a blessing, and unexpected, and oh, so welcome.

Getting ready for Santa takes up much of Christmas Eve. First, we must do the holiday baking, starting with GranMary's special Mincemeat cake. It's a Christmas tradition. The other part of the tradition is that no one but myself enjoys it, so I eat myself sick on this expensive treat. (still going!)

Then we bake cookies for Santa, open our Christmas pajamas (supplied this year by GranMary and Pa)--and btw, Ian was QUITE disappointed to find pj's and not a toy on Christmas Eve. You'd think the past six Christmases would have given him a clue! We put out reindeer food, to guide Rudolph and Co. But this year, I forgot until the day of to get the ingredients and had NO intention on going to ANY kind of store on Christmas Eve, so we improvised by putting out carrots. Zachary insisted we roll them in sugar ("because its shiny!") and then carefully arranged them into an arrow shape pointing at our door. After that, we track Santa on Norad and drink our foamy milk and eat our cookies. Finally we read "The Night before Christmas" and issue dire threats to all children about waking Mommy and Daddy before 7 am and put the kiddos to bed.

They actually went down without too much fuss--something that should have made me suspicious.

We let them sleep for about an hour or so before we get to work doing the last bit of wrapping and assembling. But the kids TRICKED us you see. They got up at 3 am--just when I was getting ready to put the toys out and drop off the stockings. So we wait.

And wait.

And wait for the kiddos to go back to sleep.

Not happening I tell you.

I drop off the stockings in front of the doors and say, let's go to bed. But Zacky GRABS his stocking as soon as he sees the lights go off in the livingroom and proceeds to WAKE UP his brothers!

At 4:30 we decided to just do Christmas as the kids would wake us in approximately 2 and a half hours anyway. We haul a semi-comatose Matthew and a-not-ready-to-be-awake-what's-this-Christmas-stuff-all-about-anyway?-Eli out of bed, set them among the toys and call out the other two.

Chaos ensued.

As you can see, the boys enjoyed themselves and had a great time. At seven am (our scheduled wake-up time) we sent the boys to their rooms with their new treasures and went to bed until noon. At some point, my BIL showed up because the kids woke us up to ask if they could let him in. I was only planning on sleeping until ten or so, but with an awake adult in the house, we grabbed a couple more hours. Then Christmas breakfast (lunch, brunch, whatever) and then I started making Christmas dinner.

We ended the day with only one child awake (I have no idea how Zachary managed it) watching WALL-E.

Oh, and I might mention that the tooth fairy and Santa Claus battled it out on Christmas Eve. Zack lost a tooth that morning, and I was awakened by the screams of Ian as Zack tried to dislodge a tooth in Ian's mouth that he just knew was loose too so they could both get visits from the tooth fairy that night. Because certain little boys refused to go to sleep, the tooth fairy managed to sneak in while putting away brand new toys Christmas morning. Luckily, Zack was so excited about Santa, he forgot to look for the Tooth fairy's present!

And now, I leave you with another Christmas tradition. Each year, my mother sends ornaments for the family and each year I also get each member a new ornament. We have a Christmas Code around here. Zachary is Santa's, Ian is Snowmen, Matthew is Teddy Bears, and Eli is Gingerbread men. This holds true in wrapping paper as well as ornaments. The boys also have their specific animals. Zachary is my Monkey Boy, Ian my Tree Frog, matthew my Mouseling, and Eli is my Eli-phant. So if its not one, it's usually the other. So I leave you with our new ornaments for this year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the girl who has royalty in the house

So I was going through the pictures on my camera and I found this one of Matthew.

And it struck me how much he looked like Mick Jagger:

Make that a young Mick Jagger.

Matthew overheard me telling someone this and somehow decided at that point that I had changed his name. Yes, he now thinks his name is Mick Jagger. Of course, I've done nothing at all to perpetuate that. :)

So Matthew..I mean, Mick Jagger, goes to his dad and asks him if his name is now Mick Jagger. His dad--never missing an opportunity to guarantee a rich therapist somewhere in the future--tells him, "No, your name isn't Mick Jagger. It's Sweetie Pie."

Now, Matthew hates, simply hates, being called Sweetie Pie. I don't know why. So of course, he gets upset. And of course, I tell him, "no, your name isn't Sweetie Pie. That's your middle name. Your full name is Mick Jagger Sweetie Pie Matthew Nolan Francisco Martinez."

Somehow that was better.

So for the past two weeks, he has been alternately responding to Matthew or Mick Jagger. Sometimes if you call him Matthew, he corrects you. Other times he'll answer to whatever.

Until last night.

I was taking a soak and reading my guilty pleasure of a Nora Roberts novel and Matthew-Mick Jagger comes in wearing Ian's gloves, his Superman cape, and carrying an empty wrapping paper tube like a scepter. He asks me if he looks like a King. I say, "of course you do, honey. You're the best King I've ever seen."

Having settled that point, he announces that his name is now KING Mick Jagger.

Who knew I was raising royalty?

Monday, December 15, 2008

the girl who is updating

December is always so busy, and this one seems like I haven't had a chance to breathe. I mean, come on, it's December 15th and I haven't bought one single Christmas present. Ok, not entirely true, I've bought two, but they were impulse buys, not really the main event, so to speak. However, I now have some breathing room. More on that in a sec.

So, the craftiness on a budget continues and I added to my Holiday display for work.

I thought it was pretty groovy. Amazing what you can do with wrapping paper, copy paper, scissors, tape and clip art.

Of course, I will never know if I would have placed in the competition because I have been relieved of employment. Yep, laid off twice in one year. Merry Christmas!

On the bright side, I figure I saved $ on not having to participate in the three different office gift exchanges and potlucks I was going to have to do (Managers, Exec Committee and Office), I know have plenty of time to do that Christmas shopping and get a little crafty to save $ elsewhere (now I'm regretting my lack of Christmas paper stash!), and the staff was really very heartbroken to see me go. My last day I got lunch, gifts, tears, hugs and flowers.

It's nice to be appreciated, even if that appreciation doesn't extend to keeping my job.

I also had a chance to see Ian perform in his "World Fair Showcase." He sang "This Land is My Land." Of course, he never learned the verses (all 20 billion of them) just the refrain--and even that he wasn't entirely complete on. Lol! So we were treated MANY practice sessions that went something like this: "(very fast) This land is your land, this land is my land, from California (slowing down) to the..mumble...mumble...indistinct...(and then very loud) THIS LAND IS MADE FOR YOU AND MEEEEE!!!"

But he made an adorable cowboy!

And I made the bys really clean their room...which lasted, oh, a couple hours. Five hours to clean, six minutes to trash. I took out furniture so there would be nothing to shove under the bed. It was nice that Eli wanted to help too.

Speaking of little bit, his hair was starting to evolve from the "Oh! Look at those adorable curls!" to dandelion fluff disaster. So I took him for his first haircut.



Still curly, still adorable, but less of a mess. Your baby is safe, Mom! I kept Aramis away from him with the clippers! Aren't you proud?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

the girl who is decorating on a budget

Work is having a decorate your office contest for the holidays. I happen to be running a very tight budget (as usual) and just plain don't have the moolah to spend on decking the halls (or cubicles as the case may be). However, I felt a bit of pressure as I watched the season invade steadily, office by office. So I made do with what I had. And what I had was a roll of wrapping paper I had ordered from someone's kid for a fundraiser. I had never taken it home. So, a roll of wrapping paper, a ring cut from a copy paper box, my trusty stapler and a bit of miscellaneous stuff left over in the office Christmas tree box and this is what I came up with.

Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!