Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year...

...and the countdown begins. Hard to believe that New Year's Eve is tomorrow! Where did 2008 go? In some ways I am glad to bid it farewell. It has been a rough year with family illness and death so I am glad to see that end and pray for a healthier, happier 2009. At the same time it means my little girl will be 7 - I really don't know where that time went. Each day I realize she is growing up -and away from us. Sometimes she still seems like such a baby and others I look at her and see this grown up girl. I have to say I like the 'baby' times alot.
We had a really nice Christmas with my sister visiting and my parents here. We seemed to spend a lot of time eating together (I guess that's part of the holidays, right?) We played games ( namely the 'Wii' - a family gift which was a hit), watched movies, talked & walked. My sister goes home today but it seems like she just got here. By Friday we will all kind of be back in our little routines. It is nice spending time just 'being'. No plans, no agenda, no 'I have to do this now'. Hopefully we can take that into the new year, too. At least a little bit.

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.

~Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

This is the view outside of our camper since we moved it up to the mountains. Beats the neighbor's vacant lot view we had at home. We headed up on Saturday morning to visit our friends. There was about 18 inches of snow but by the time we arrived the main roads had been plowed and it was easy driving. The kids spent all day Saturday and Sunday morning sledding down the driveway, which makes the perfect sledding/tubing hill when it snows. It was a fun, relaxing time amid the hustle and bustle of Christmastime. You kind of forget all you have to do at home when you are up there. It was nice having the camper up there as we had our own 'space' (not to mention beds) & all of our 'stuff'. We did spend most of the time in our friends' cabin when we weren't outside - after all they do have the TV and we are heading into NFL playoff time.
We got some sad news on the way home that my great aunt died yesterday. She had just turned 87 and had been in the hospital for a few weeks for various things. She was the baby sister of my Grandma who passed away in July. So Christmas will be a little less festive than normal for our famly this year. Although I am sure she would want us to all have a fun time. It has been a hard year and I think we are all hoping and praying for a happier 2009.


I came across a post at the Shabee Chick that everyone should take a few minutes to look at. We all remember 'Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus'. It is my favorite Christmas book and Amber's post reminded me that is was still tucked away in my office and I needed to take it out before it was too late. I don't think I am quite ready to read it to my daughter as she still believes. Yes, she really believes and it is so much fun to watch.

No that we are back home it is time to finish wrapping, do a little more baking and keep Christmas special for this little girl.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Last Minute Shopping?

I heard that today is 'National Free Shipping' day for alot of online retailers. I guess it's the last day to get your merchandise in time for Christmas using ground or regular shipping methods. Oooh - free shipping with all the discounts out there. Doesn't that sound good? Now, I don't need anything but if I have a free moment maybe I will just look. Can't hurt. Of course, with my schedule today there will be little time for shopping of any kind. I am off to my daughter's school in about an hour to help with the Christmas festivities. School is out at 1 today and they are off until Jan 5th. It is kind of nice to have a week to just do fun things. I still have a little wrapping to do but I usually do that at night after Little Miss is in bed.

If you have a Safeway near you and you are in the market for a Gingerbread house kit run over there today to see if they still have them for $6. Yes, that's right. Marked down from $12.99. They were actually kind of 'hidden' so ask if you don't see them. Another bargain I snagged while at Kmart yesterday getting cough drops, Bon Ami and a birthday gift - Build a Bear kits. They include the animal, stuffing, needle & thread and, of course, a cute outfit. Sale Price $6.49 I think there were originally $12 or so. And a bigger BAB kit with a little cardboard 'house' & a crown to decorate - $9.99. I picked up 2 small ones for Jaunary birthdays and the bigger one for Little Miss' birthday in Jan. Yes, bargains are out there...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside...

Yes, it's even cold in Arizona. The above photo is from Flagstaff which is about 3 hours away. They had a foot of snow yesterday and are expecting more today. As for my town, we have had rain for 2 of the last 3 days. Very unusual for us. And when I was coming home this morning from taking the dog to the vet it was 43 degrees. Now I know some of you would love to see 43 but that's really cold for us. This will likely be our cold spell for the winter. I have to say that I enjoy it being a little cooler sometimes and the rain is always welcome since we get so little (I think we average less than 3 inches a year - yes, you read that right. Crazy, isn't it?) We are really getting into the Christmas spirit now.

We have moved our camper up to the mountains - about an hour from here. It is on the property of our friends who have a cabin up there. We plan to go this weekend and I am so excited. They also have gotten snow up there which will be really fun for the kids to play in. I am going to bring a gingerbread kit up with us so the girls can work on that when they aren't playing in the snow. Just like a real winter. And so close to Christmas. I hope we can go up alot while the camper is there. I would keep it up there forever if I could (nothing like imposing on your friends, huh?)

My Christmas present is being installed as I write this. I will post pictures tomorrow hopefully. I won't keep you in suspense - I am getting cabinets in my dining area. Pantry style cabinets with a DESK and a bench (like you would have in a mud room). I am so, so excited to have these installed! I love cabinets.... Merry Christmas to me. :)

I had to run to Kmart after dropping off the dog to get a few things. As I was leaving the nice sales clerk said 'Merry Christmas'. What a nice change from 'Happy Holidays'. I think a lot of folks are finally rebelling against the 'Happy Holidays' thing. Finally...

Monday, December 15, 2008

O Christmas Tree, part 2


Here's our big tree in the living room. It has all white lights, hard to see here. I will try to take some pictures at night to show off the lights. Makes it all a bit more festive. There's a reason for the snowman on top of the tree... I have not been able to find a star or angel that will not fall off. I kind of gave up since the snowman is kind of cute and it hasn't fallen off yet. I surely cannot be the only person who has this tree and this problem Well, maybe I can...
My daughter's Christmas pageant was last night. The kids did a great job. It was a really nice production and all that practice really paid off. Tomorrow we start practice for the Children's choir for Christmas Eve mass. It's a good thing Little Miss likes the stage.
This will be a busy week with 'last minute' baking for teachers and friends. Hard to think it's last minute but with school out on Thursday this is crunch time. I am making Chex mix as I write this. I have a question: Am I the only one who still makes Chex mix in the oven and not in the mircrowave? All the recipes I have found have the microwave directions but not the oven ones. Had to use my memory on that one. But I like to think that you can't really mess up Chex mix, right??
Well, I need to stir that Chex mix so I am off...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Taking time...

"Punctuality is the politeness of kings"
Louis XVIII
I am resolving to allow alot of time to get places this time of year, in hopes that it spills over into the new year (a good resolution). The roads are busier. Stores are busier. People are busier. It just makes good sense to start the journey a little earlier than you usually do or than you think you should. When you leave yourself a little extra time you just feel calmer knowing you're going to make it. Every day on the way to school my daughter and her friend ask 'are we going to be late?' Why they ask I don't know, since in the year and a half we have been car pooling they have never been late. But it's nice to know that they are conscious of the fact that they need to get to school on time. Plus, I think they like the time to play on the playground before the bell rings.
This weekend is a crazy, busy weekend for us. My daughter has her last play practice tomorrow from 8am - 11am. We're going to get there early. She has her Daisy Scouts Christmas party from 1-3. We're going to get there early. Sunday at 11 is a birthday party for a friend of my daughter's. We're going to get there early. Sunday at 6 is the Christmas play. Very important to get there early.
Being early sends signals that you are looking forward to getting to your destination. Even if that's not the case - like when I am going to the dentist- I still get there early. We all know it's a sign of respect to be prompt. Your time is just as important as mine.
So as I finish up these last two weeks of Christmas preparation I will vow to give myself some extra time in order to enjoy everything a little more.
Please visit Keeper of the Home for more Living Simply Saturday ideas (the last one of the year!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

O Christmas Tree...

Is it really Thursday already? I have been BUSY! I am sure everyone else is in the same boat. I am thankful that I am busy and able to do everything that I need to do.

This is the small tree I have in my daughter's room. It has white lights although it is hard to see that in the photo. As I was placing ornaments on the tree I decided that this should be the 'teddy bear' tree since we have so many teddy bear ornaments. Little Miss was very happy with that and now every night she finds a bear on the big tree to move to the little one. Umm, not exactly what I had in mind...

Tonight is Little Miss' last Thursday night play practice. They practice again on Saturday and then the play is Sunday. Tonight while she is out I am going to try to purge her room and play room to make space for the things that Santa will bring. Can I do it all in 90 minutes? I'll let you know.

I need to check on some cookies but hope to be back soon...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Simplifying Christmas...


I am a little late in posting my Simply Celebrating Christmas which is part of Living Simply Saturdays but I wanted to take part in it and even though it's Monday I want to share my Simple Christmas ideas because it's never too late for that.
I was decorating the tree and inside on Saturday with my family which is why I didn't post this on Saturday (and Friday can be a post of it's own - crazy day). I think that's the biggest idea for a simple Christmas: spending time with your loved ones. Instead of blogging, instead of shopping, instead of cleaning. INSTEAD OF ANYTHING. Spend time with your family. You won't regret it. Your computer will still be there, your cleaning will still be there and really, do you honestly need to shop for anything right now? Your kids will remember the fun time they had decorating the tree, making cookies, reading a book, playing with you outside, watching a movie together WAY more than they will remember one more plastic toy that you HAD to run out and buy that Saturday in December...
We are also simplifying Christmas this year by doing a 'family gift' as our 'big' Christmas gift. It was purchased in August and it's ready for Santa to put under the tree. That's it. No worrying about 'one more little thing for ____'. I don't know that we are saving much money by doing a family gift but everyone (read: Mom) is a little saner. It may become a tradition, we'll have to see. But this year it's working.
I love to bake for the holidays but it can get overwhelming. This year I am making more of each item instead of a bunch of different cookies. How simple is it to stock up on all the ingredients for 3 or 4 ( or less) different cookies and start baking. By the 2nd or 3rd batch you will have the recipe down and wont' need to look at it, saving time.
Overall, I am just trying to keep things in perspective. What's really important. What I really like and want to do (no fundraising for me this month!). I don't want my daughter to not like the holidays because she remembers how stressed out her mom was from Thanksgiving to Christmas. That's the real reason for the simple things: lasting memories for a little girl at this most magical time of the year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Giveaway...

Please check out my new blog and enter my giveaway. Just leave a comment and you are entered. Contest ends on Tuesday, December 9 so hurry on over!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. We have our tree up and the inside decorating done. I'll post pictures soon. Everything looks really nice. But I can't believe how much Christmas decor I have. And I always want to buy more... I refrained this year though with the exception of 2 ornamants for my daughter. My daughter and her friend helped decorate yesterday. They concentrated their efforts on the same 2 square feet of the tree so I just kept taking some things off the section they were decorating and moving them where I need to (like the back). Worked great.

We made gingerbread cookies yesterday and it looks like I'll need to make more as my husband is enjoying them. No need to post that recipe - they are from the Betty Crocker gingerbread mix. I have always hated using mixes for Christmas cookies (I don't mind the rest of the year though - who knows why.) But this mix is great and makes a very tasy gingerbread cookie every time. Today I plan on making cracker candy and snickerdoodles. Will try to post those recipes tomorrow.

I am off to make lunch for my daughter before she heads out to a friend's house for the afternoon. After I drop her off I will get a paper and 'thera flu' for my husband. And then it will be time for the cookie making to begin...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One down...


fifty (or so) to go. I mailed my first card today - to my cousin in Canada. I know those need to go early so I sent it today. The rest should be ready to go by the end of the week (I hope!)
This morning while getting ready for school Little Miss 'mentioned' that she has the 'worst life ever!' Why, you ask? She was getting dressed and wanted to wear her dress shoes to school today. I told her I didn't want her to wear them on the playground and besides, she has PE today. I suggested her Skechers and she twists up her face and says 'no, they are too tight and 'H' has them.' Well, apparently 'H' (who is her friend) is not as fashionable as some of the other girls in class. She continues, saying that 'M' has the best clothes & lots of 'glittery scarves' & 'straps' (I happen to know for a fact that 'M's mom spent $1000 on back to school clothes for her. Not gonna happen here. Am I just cheap?) And that's when she tells me that she has the 'worst life ever'. Now, I ask, is this clothing stuff supposed to start so early? What can I expect in middle school? I only have two words: SCHOOL UNIFORMS. Do you think that would help? I mentioned a while back that she doesn't want to wear some of her clothes she has. Well, the list is getting longer and longer. Ugh...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who knew...

that my daughter's enrollment in CCD meant an automatic slot in the Children's Choir which preforms on Christmas Eve? Of course that means practices (3 to be exact). Luckily this all starts after the Christmas play is over. What a great way for me to get my husband to church on Christmas eve, too. Whatever it takes, I say.
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Any feedback on this new Christmas background would be much appreciated. It really caught my eye but I am wondering if it's too bold? What do you think?