Friday, December 30, 2011


Every year at this time, I do a little bit of reflecting on the year that's ending, and a little planning for the year we're entering.  I think we all do this.  I try not to make actual resolutions, because I am a master at failing them.  Then I feel even lower about myself, and that's never good.

So instead, I like to think of the beginning of a new year as a fresh start, a clean slate.  You can say goodbye to the previous year, feel grateful for your blessings, and let go of any pain and sadness.  Or at least begin to.  And look to the new year as a bright, shiny new box of crayons.

I finished the kids' rooms!!!!  Wow, they were something.  I posted pictures of the insanity, but I'm going to post them again, so we all can see the transformation.  And so I can redeem myself.  So here's J's room--I did it yesterday.  It took me all day.  And so you see why, here's the before:  

YIKES!  Clearly we have to get better about this.

He's not the worst offender, though.  A has all kinds of projects he's constantly working on, and he spends more time in his room.  So here's the before picture of A's room:

There was not even a path to get in. This is the worst it has ever been, and it was made all the worse by him just piling his Christmas loot on top of everything.  So this one was the first project, and here's the "after" shot:

Now let's see how long they can keep them up.

These rooms were a pain in my heinie, but they were also inspiring.  It's like watching an episode of Hoarders, only it actually was my own house.  Sheesh.  And I watch those shows while I sip my wine and feel like those people are crazy?  Really?

So back to the "resolution" situation.  I'm looking at this year as an opportunity.  There is a long laundry list of things I'd like to improve about my life.  I don't want to be too much of a downer, since I have a ridiculously good life, but it's not healthy to be content.  For me, being content just makes me fat.  So I need to not be content.  I have to strive for better.

This year I would love to take better care of my physical self.  I am 40, after all.  And my 10-year old informed me last week that "women who are over 40 need to exercise every single day."  And just the other day, after I lifted my pajama pants leg up to scratch my over-dry, Minnesota winter skin on my shins, he cried out, "Holy cow, mom!  You have GINORMOUS muscles on your leg!  You should be able to run WAY faster than you do!"  Sadly, he meant this as a compliment, not the double insult it was, especially since my legs are not muscular.  At the moment.  Sigh.  So that's one area with some room for improvement.

Then there's my house.  I'd love to keep it cleaner.  Not spotless, just so that I don't feel stressed out when I come in the door.  So if someone stops by, I can let them in without shame.  And I really need to get my kids into better habits.  They need to do more chores and help out taking care of things around here.  They're getting more than old enough.

I'd like to cook more.  Get more organized with meal planning, grocery shopping, keeping a stocked kitchen and making balanced meals for the family.  This is something that's very important, actually.  We are not very good at this right now.  LOTS of room to improve.

And finally, I'd like to come up with a way during this year to make money.  The kids are older, getting more independent, I feel like I can have more time to contribute to our household.  Maybe not getting an actual job, but finding something I can do out of the house would be great.

And there it is.  Not resolutions, but inspirations.  Today my resolution is to go to a movie with my mom, and stop by the liquor store to pick up a bottle of champagne for me and my man to share Saturday night.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Coming Down from the Chaos

Freddy passed out among the chaos
What a lovely holiday.  It really was.  Christmas Eve was warm, happy, and bittersweet.  We ate great food, enjoyed each other, opened gifts, laughed, and missed my dad.  The kids had a great time, and scored some good loot.  Freddy was a rock star, of course.

Christmas Day was very fun.  The kids were thrilled with their stuff from Santa, and we had a ton of fun over at hubby's cousin's house for Christmas dinner.  Food, drinks, fruit ninja on the Xbox, and some Rock Band.

It really was a good one, and the best part was that I got to have my hubby with me the whole time.  Almost every Christmas I don't have him either Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, or Christmas Day.  His work schedule is completely bizarre, and I am almost used to being hubby-less at family events.  It sucks, but oh well.  This time I got him the whole time!!!  It felt complete.

But now it is back to life.  Now I have a bit of a holiday hangover, and I'm eager to recover my home and my schedule.  Funny how we clean the most carefully right before our homes are going to be completely trashed.  Ha!  So as lovely as the holiday was, it took a toll on me and my house, and I'm determined to recover quickly.  The kids have this week off, And we do have to have one day dedicated to the annual Lord of the Rings Trilogy viewing, but I think we'll get some progress made.  Yesterday was completely a day for rest.  We just dorked around the whole day.  It was pretty great.  We took the kids to Target and they spent some of their Christmas money, but that was about the most exciting part of our day.  Ahhhh.

So today I need some inspiration.  It's the annual New Year's resolution season, and I have the same feelings as I do every year.  Less of a resolution, more of an inspiration.  The impending start of a fresh new year makes me feel like I want a fresh start.  And I have the two most common ones:  I need to get my house more organized, and I need to take better care of myself, and get my butt off the couch.  It starts with the house.  The kids' rooms will be the first hurdle.

Big hurdle.  Big big.  They're very scary, actually.  Especially A.  He is a boy with constant projects, art projects, strange little inventions, building projects.  And he is chaotic.  His room is a disaster zone of tiny pieces of paper, tape, paper clips, Legos, Nerf darts, clothing, sports junk, pens and pencils, gadgets and boxes.  Nightmare.  His bed is always sort of askew on his frame and box spring.  That's it--I think I'm going to go take a picture so you all get that I'm not exaggerating.  Hold on--

 Okay so keep in mind this is right after Christmas.  They have hauled all their loot up to their rooms (so it wouldn't be spread all over the living room), and they were relatively picked up before Christmas.  Still, they need a total overhaul.  

These first to shots are A's room.  His is the bigger project, because it needs to be rearranged as well.  But he's literally like the Tasmanian Devil.

J's room is not as terrifying, but still needs some help.  It's cluttered right now with his Christmas goodies, but he simply doesn't have the crazy amount of STUFF that his brother has.  He has an impressive rock collection, however, that's been a challenge.  We went out yesterday and got him some containers that might help with that.

So now I'll be excited to post some pictures of the progress and the end result.  Because this is sheer craziness.  Obviously the scariest rooms in the house, so I suppose they'll be first.  Lately I've been trying to let go and let the kids clean their rooms and not be all OCD about it, but this has gone too far.  So I need to get in there alone and take control so they have a fresh start again.  Maybe I should see if the hubby wants to take them somewhere for a while today so they don't see all the garbage bags leaving their rooms . . .

Well, I better get to it.  You can see I have my hands full.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

Holy cow I have a lot to do.  CHRISTMAS EVE IS TOMORROW!!!!!  Breathe.

I've been really horrible about getting things done, and now I'm sitting here writing on my blog.  Exactly what I shouldn't be doing right now.

The kids just got on the bus.  Freddy is laying in his favorite spot, on my ottoman, sleeping.  Christmas music is playing over my AppleTV (thanks again, bro and SIL1!) and I have Christmas pictures slideshow-ing on the TV.  Awesome.  I should be zipping around cleaning the house for the festivities tomorrow.  I have peanut butter rice krispy bars to make, and if I don't get them done, SIL1 may very well kill me.  On Christmas Eve.  My house is seriously messy.  I have about 20 more presents to wrap.  Why do I just feel like wearing jammies and watching a Muppet Christmas Carol?  Help me, people!

So big news.  The hubby gave me my Christmas gift.  Mostly because I had to go help him pick it out.  Apparently spousal whining can go a long way, because I got it.  My iPad.  It's a crazy, extravagant, too-expensive gift.  I don't need it.  But I wanted it SO bad.  And I love it.  It's really fun.  And thanks to some of you peeps for already getting me hooked on Words with Friends.  That's exactly the way I need to be spending my time right now.

At least I got my shopping done.  I took the iPad to the grocery store yesterday, and used a cool grocery shopping app to get my stuff.  It was pretty slick!  I think I need to make my own app, though.  I have lots of ideas for organizational apps that just aren't out there.  And I would make them WAY more appealing to look at.  It seems like organizational apps mostly have the appearance of being for office executives.  Not for moms who like to wear Christmas jewelry and paint their toenails sparkly blue.  And I know there's lots of us out there, that want something that's fun to look at.  I love colors.  And fonts.  I need to make my own apps.  So VW pickup boy--if you're reading this, we should put our heads together--I know you're in the business.

The other cool thing I did yesterday was go volunteer at J's Christmas party at school.  I offered to handle the snack table, which is the table that most parents usually shy away from.  It tends to get really messy.  And this one was particularly messy.  The kids were tasked with making their own snacks:  Christmas trees made with an upside down sugar cone, covered in green frosting and sprinkles, M&Ms, and red licorice garland.  Crazy messy.  One little girl who I just wanted to take home with me, she was so cute and funny, actually got so much frosting and sprinkles all over her hands that she started rubbing it into her hands like lotion, saying, "I love this moisturizer!"  Love it.  And eating the freshly made snacks was a whole new adventure in messy 3rd graders.

The best thing about it, was that I got the chance to ask almost each kid about their Christmas plans.  I asked who was traveling, who was staying home.  What they wanted to receive for gifts.  What their favorite thing is about the holidays.  It was so fun to just chat with all of them.  And it's hilarious to imagine what our kids are saying about their lives when we parents aren't around.  One little cutie was telling me how last year she made a gingerbread house, but the mice ate it all up.  So the kid next to her says, "do you have pet mice?" and she she responds, "oh, we have a lot of mice, but they definitely aren't pets."  Lordy, I'm sure her parents would be thrilled with the information she was throwing out.  You have to love kids.

I really should get to my chores.  Even though right now I'm tempted to search the internet for fun holiday cocktail recipes.  Brother, MOH and Mr. P:  If you can think of anything cool, bring it!  I need to get some crap done.

So tomorrow's the big show, folks.  And even though we're snowless, it's going to be the merriest of merry days, and I wish anyone out there reading this a blessed, warm, laughter-filled Christmas.  As I sit here in my jammies, needing my second cup of coffee, I am so grateful for my friends and family, I am missing my dad and my mom-in-law, and I am hoping you all are surrounded by loved ones in the next couple days.  Merry, merry, merry, Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Season of Movies

I stepped away from my blog for a few days.  I didn't feel like I had anything to write, and I don't want this to become a bunch of nonsense.  Plus I've been super busy with last minute Christmas stuff.

The weather is simply not cooperating with us this year.  It is ugly and brown outside, and it's looking like we're not getting a white Christmas this year.  Big bummer.  Where's my snow?

I'm home today, and I'll be cleaning and wrapping.  I'll be watching some movies today.  I'm thinking Love Actually, followed by the Holiday, and if there's time, maybe Christmas Vacation.  Yes, again.  Love Actually is such a great feel-good movie.  If you haven't seen it, you must.  Seriously.  It's THAT good.

My brother and I often get into long conversations about movies, since we have it in common that movies are a favorite pastime, and we get pretty animated about it.  He's the one that told me, years ago, that Love Actually was necessary.  So go watch it if you haven't, and watch it again if you have already.

My Christmas season movie list consists of Love Actually, Elf, The Holiday, The Santa Clause trilogy, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, The Muppet Christmas Carol, the Jim Carey Christmas Carol, Home Alone, Die Hard (I know), Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas, the Spongebob Christmas Special, The Grinch (old animated one), A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Rudolph.  I have many more, but those are the ones that get watched every year.  How the heck do I get anything done?  But some of them are just on in the background while I'm busy around the house.  But these are necessary parts of my holiday season.

Then, some time during the week between Christmas and New Year's, the kids and I will watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, all in one day.  And for that, we do nothing else but park in front of the TV and watch,  only getting up to go to the bathroom or get more snacks.  I LOVE IT!  I'm thinking that if we have time, I'd like to add the Harry Potter series to the tradition, but that's like 20 hours of solid movies, so I guess we'll have to see about that.  But I would love it.  My poor husband.

Well, I was going to write a more meaningful post today, but now I have movie fever so I need to get started.  Watch some movies with your families this season, people.  There are some amazing ones to choose from!!!

Four days to Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Reason for the Season

I need a boost today.  I'm in a holiday slump, and I need to regroup.  I have this every year, where I go into the holiday season at full speed, ho-ho-ho-ing all the way.  Then I get about a week or so away and reality sets in about how much I have to do, and some of the joy gets stifled by all the stress.  This is when I need my reality check.

Stress, shopping, and cleaning the house is not what this season should be about, and I get frustrated when I allow myself to get to this place.  This season is about joy.

This season is, first and foremost, a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  I am a Christian.  I choose not to get religious (or political, for that matter) on my blog because that's not what this is for, but today I am going to.  So those of you who are uncomfortable with this subject matter, feel free to stop reading and check back another day.

For me, the birth of Jesus Christ is definitely something to celebrate.  I am no Biblical scholar.  I am not a frequent church go-er.  I love going to church, it just has slipped down my priority list these days, and that's just how it is right now.  But I'm not as knowledgeable as I wish I was about the story of Jesus, I just know what your average C & E Lutheran knows.  

What I do know is that God is real.  I know that Jesus is real.  I know that Heaven is real, no matter what you want to call it.  These are things I know.  I have felt the presence of God in my life, and I truly believe it was God.  I have felt His presence during one of the darkest moments of my life.  There was a time in my life that was so dark and painful that I, in my seventeen year old heart and mind, was not capable of dealing with it.  In that moment, I felt myself let go.  I knew I was no longer in control of what was happening, and instead it was as if I was watching it happen from outside of myself.  And I managed everything.  I saved my own life and that of someone precious to me, and I was not the one in control.  There was a loving, comforting, and wise arm around me, and a whisper in my ear telling me to let go.  That He would take care of this.  And He did.  It was such a real moment, such an amazing comfort during a horrific time, that right then and there I had my proof that God was with me, that Jesus Christ knew me and I was not alone.  He saved me that day, and has several times since.  And I feel it every day.

That knowledge has kept my motor running even when I feel like I'm pretty low.  And once in a while I get a boost from above that I know is God up there, reminding me that He's here.  Many of these moments I choose to keep to myself, but sometimes I will share them.  I have seen Him come through my son, I have seen Him when I was going through the loss of my dad.  I know He was sitting with my family as we lost my mom-in-law, and that the loved ones I have lost are with Him now.

So absolutely I have reason to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  And I have reason to be joyful, to be festive, and to embrace the entire craziness of the season.  Christmas has become ginormous, to quote Buddy the Elf.  And I love it all.  It is commercial, yes.  But it's happy.  For me, Christmas is a time to be with your loved ones, to feel all the love you have for your family and friends.  To be silly and festive.  To celebrate anything you need to celebrate, because what better time to surround yourself with joy than at the most important birthday party of them all?  

So today I have to finish up my shopping.  I have to get ready to bake an insane amount of cookies tomorrow.  I have to try to ignore how messy my house is and know that I'll have time to clean it next week.  I need to hug and kiss my hubby and make sure he knows how blessed I feel to have him.  I need to play with this adorable dog that has found his way into our home and hearts.  I get to greet my kids again when they get home from school, excited that it is Friday.  I am going to wear jingly Christmas jewelry, and spend more money than I should.  And I'm going to feel blessed that Jesus is my Savior, that He loves me and my nutty holiday fever.  And hopefully I will say "Merry Christmas" to at least ten people today.

Merry Christmas.  Eight days to Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


There are a LOT of traditions in my family.  We're kind of wacky about them.  And this time of year, they kick in to high gear.  

First we have baking day.  That's coming up this Saturday.  We have a big crowd gather and we make an absolutely insane amount of cookies that we then combine all together and build cookie trays to give away.  It's a very fun day, also very exhausting.  I usually make between 8 and 10 different recipes.  Yeesh.  I have to start going through my books today and decide what to make, and I'll need to make a grocery trip Thursday or Friday.  We've been doing baking day now for 15 years, and it has evolved from being just me and my mom to a pretty big group. 

Christmas Eve at MOH's
Then there's Christmas Eve.  I have hosted almost every Christmas Eve since hubby and I got married.  We celebrate with my side of the family, then Christmas Day we do the hubby's side.  On Christmas Eve we have soup and sandwiches.  This started out when I was a small child, and my parents decided to have a simple meal, so there would be no cooking stress, not much cleaning stress, and we could enjoy the evening more.  Well, that was a nice intention, but the soups have evolved.  And so have the sandwiches, for that matter.  We have a pile of different meats and cheeses, fixings, and even home-made condiments to put on them.  The soups are a major deal.  It's not just opening a can of tomato soup.  We have two choices each year, usually a french onion made from scratch from my mom's old recipe, heavy on the burgundy and complete with a toasted baguette slice and gruyere cheese on top.  Then my brother makes another kind, and it changes year to year.  He has been known to make things like a seafood bisque that takes him the entire day to prepare.  It's lovely.  

I try to put out an appetizer spread, and it's very fun for me to do, but it also has the effect of making it so we're not crazy hungry at dinner and end up uncomfortable.  Not that I'm going to stop doing it, but I think I might cut back on the amount of food that's out.  The shrimp cocktail has become a staple, and my sister would protest if I quit that.  We have Christmas music playing, the table is all dressed up, there are fun drinks for the kids and yummy cocktails for the adults.  

We draw names to fill stockings.  Stockings have become one of the favorite pastimes, both for shopping and for opening on Christmas Eve.  I know--weird that we do stockings on Christmas Eve.  Whatever.  It used to be Christmas morning, but we don't all get together Christmas Day so it moved.  They are filled with goofy things like dental floss and candy bars, but they're so much fun!  Each little gift is wrapped, and it's fun to watch the chaos of everybody tearing into them.  It's especially fun for the kids.  We do that before we eat.  That started when the kids were little and it was so hard for them all to wait for gift opening.   

Then after we eat and the dishes are done, we all sit down for gifts.  My kids and the nephews pass them out, and then we take turns, youngest to oldest, opening one gift at a time.  It's kind of a marathon, but it's very pleasant.  Then usually we spread out trying to digest our food and clear out the mess we've made while Elf or the Christmas Story is on.  It really is always a lovely evening.

The kids go to bed after everyone leaves and they leave cookies and milk out for Santa (and sometimes glittery oatmeal for the reindeer), and Santa comes for a visit.

In the morning after the excitement of Santa, we hang out and eat a bunch of leftovers for breakfast (sometimes the kids have an all-cookie breakfast), and very possibly nap while the kids play with their loot.  We head out to Christmas dinner in the afternoon, unless we are hosting it, then I'm frantically cleaning the house. Christmas dinner moves around year-to-year, we kind of take turns hosting.  This year it's at hubby's cousin's house, which is one of my all-time favorite places to relax.  The kids enjoy each other there, and hubby's cousin and his wife are two of my favorite people.  They are so easy to be around, and fun to laugh with.  There is another gift opening frenzy there (I know, right?!?) after dinner, and then the night usually ends with a session of Rock Band on the XBox.  Awesome.  The night kind of changes around depending on whose house we're at, but it's always loud and fun.  

We used to go to the late night service at church on Christmas Eve, and I LOVED it.  But since we've moved out onto the farm, our church is an hour away.  And when the kids were small, it was far too difficult to get them there.  I keep wanting to find a church home close to home, but I love my old church too much.  So this year, I'd like to drag my family there (even with the long drive) for Christmas morning service.  And that should become the most important tradition of all.

Traditions are comforting.  It's nice to know what to expect, and to know what you're looking forward to.  The anticipation is almost as fun as the event.  And Christmas is the best one of all.  

I have so much to do!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Little Men

Watching kids grow up is such a privilege.  My boys are becoming young men, right before my eyes.

Yesterday we took the boys in for a haircut.  It was a long overdue haircut.  They've been getting the same cut, pretty much for their whole little lives.  I call it the "Little boy" cut.  It's a bit longer on top, and they use the clippers on the backs of their necks and above their ears, with short bangs.  Well, they didn't want that.  They want to grow it out.  It was getting really shaggy and goofy looking, so they did need it cleaned up, but they do have a longer style than we've ever had when we walk out of the barbershop.

They look cool.  They look older.  It's sort of weird.  And they're only just now starting to really pay attention to what they look like, what they wear.  I'm sure this happens earlier in girls, but it's kind of fun to watch.  J is noticing girls.  There's one in his class that he likes--he blushes every time he mentions her.  Not like the girls who have been in his group of friends, this one might actually be a crush.  A doesn't even notice girls yet.  I think that he looks right through them.  It's very funny.

They joke with each other and with us the way teenagers joke.  And they're legitimately funny.  Sometimes you can tell it's a joke they got from a tv show or from their cousins, but they pull it off.

So we're starting to expect more from them.  Freddy is helping with that.  They are doing so well taking him outside, feeding him, playing with him, brushing him.  I know this is a honeymoon stage, and most likely I will be hollering at them to do it at some point, but for now they're doing so well.

In the mornings before school, I have them make their own breakfast.  It's usually nothing more complex than waffles or a bowl of cereal and some juice, but still.  They do it themselves.  We still have to work on cleaning up their breakfast mess.  J can make scrambled eggs on his own, start to finish.

It's amazing to me, really.  Amazing how we figure out how to raise kids, how they grow up no matter what.  The other day we decided to leave them at home for a quick errand.  Hubby and I needed to run to the store, and the kids didn't want to go.  So we figured we'd let them try to stay home.  We have Freddy now, and he's a good barker when people are coming in the house.  It wouldn't be like it was up in Brainerd (when A got locked out), because they didn't need to leave the house, they were both home, and J is very level-headed.  So we left.  I called them every so often and things went perfectly fine.  They felt really good about it, and so did we.  Wow!  They really are growing up.

I can't help but look at them sometimes and feel almost like crying about how proud I am of them both.  They are kind people.  They say "I love you" easily.  They are creative and independent.  I am so incredibly lucky.

Now if I could just get them to CLEAN THEIR ROOMS!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011


My life is insane.  Good insane, but insane!  It's the Christmas season, I know I mention it all the time, but it's my favorite.  I should be busy with all things Christmas.  So what do we do?  Adopt a dog.  I dye my hair a strange brown from a box I got at Target.  Hubby gets spur-of-the-moment Lasik.  Yikes!

It's nutty.  I'm so madly in love with Freddy, so that's all wonderful.  He honestly seems like a perfect dog, so I'm waiting to see what's wrong with him.  So adopting the dog so far is one of the easiest things I've ever done.  Then I decided it was time to dye my hair.

I've been highlighting my hair ever since my wedding, which was the first time I had any sort of treatment on my hair.  I have curly, frustrating hair.  It is (or was in my youth) a dishwater blonde, and would be a completely forgettable head of hair were it not for it's general wildness, curls, and complete disregard for fashion trends.  So for my wedding, I got foil highlights.  It was so much fun, and I was instantly hooked.  So over the next 15 years, I have spent more money than I care to admit trying to make my hair interesting. Highlights, lowlights, whatever, until I completely lost touch with what was my natural color.  Last year I let the roots grow out, and had the stylist try to match my natural color and do an all-over dye job.  I was determined to stop the highlighting.

I found out I am not a blonde anymore!  I don't know if it's age or motherhood, but I am now mousy brown instead of dishwater blonde.  I actually am a brunette.

So I went back to highlighting.  And I was due for another trip to the salon, but I've been pouring money into Christmas shopping and dog adopting, so I decided to go the cheap route and get a box at Target for $8.00.  I dyed it yesterday.  Now it just looks like a strange deep brown with a tinge of red.  Not natural looking, but who's hair is these days?  It is what it is.  Here is a pic of my hair right now (thanks to my Photo booth on my iMac!):

Hubby went to the eye doc last Tuesday on a whim to see if he was a good candidate for Lasik.  As it turns out, he was, they had an opening in a few days, and we took him today!  He's upstairs recovering now, it went well.  Thanks for asking.

So how bizarre.  I feel like I am FLYING BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS!  I suppose I should be used to this, right?

I need to start wrapping some presents.  I'm still around half done with my shopping, hoping to get some more done on Monday.  It's going to be a great weekend!  Hubby can see now (I wonder if he'll still think I'm cute), I'm going to the Christmas Carol with some of my favorite ladies at a beautiful new theater, and there's still snow on the ground.  And the kiddos get a couple solid days to spend with Freddy.  What could be better?

Fourteen days to Christmas Eve, folks!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Puppy Love

He's here!  He's here!  Freddy (we've decided to spell it with a "y" instead of "ie") arrived at his new home yesterday at 12:45 p.m.  I was so nervous I felt like I was going to throw up!  I kept thinking, "oh crap what have I gotten myself into?"

So he got out of the van on his leash and I walked him around outside a bit first.  He seemed so much more laid back than he was when we saw him at the pet adoption event.  Then we came inside, and the nice lady from the adoption organization watched him for a bit to make sure everything seemed all right, and then we started the paperwork!  I couldn't believe it!  She left about 20 minutes later, and Freddy got to stay--in his NEW HOME!  Hubby also had to go, he had to work.  So there I was, alone with the dog, for three hours until the kids got home.  I kind of just looked at him like, "so what am I supposed to do with you?"

Then I went into the living room and sat on the floor.  He proceeded to dig into the grocery bag that came with him, which was sitting on the dining room floor, and one by one bring me each toy that he brought.  He was so proud to show them all to me!  So we played a bit, and I kept petting him and hugging him.  I took him out a couple times, and he walked around checking the place out, and peed like a pro.  He even whines to tell us when he has to go out!  Amazing!

A & J were so excited when they got home that he is here.  They peppered him with affection and chatter for a couple solid hours before they finally calmed down and let him be.  But he really seems to like them.  His tail wags constantly, and he has a spring in his step with them.

He seems to be pretty good at fetch, too.  Too bad I'm not ready to really let him loose outside yet.  He loves his tennis balls and will bring them right back to you after you toss it away, and if you bounce it he will catch it mid-air.  This may not seem amazing, but I think it's pretty cool.  And last night at bedtime, we just put a couple of his things and a little handful of food in his room (kennel), and he went right in.  He whined for about 15 minutes, but then went to sleep.  And he was SUPER excited to see us all this morning!  I took him out, he peed (and peed and peed), and then came back in like he's never not lived here.  Life with a dog is gonna be good, folks.

The only worrisome thing so far is that a couple of his toys are the stuffed animal variety, and he proceeded to shred one of them, a bunny, and pull out all the stuffing.  Yikes!  I left all the stuffing all over the floor to show the kids so they would know how important it is to keep their special stuffed pups out of his reach.  I plan to keep him out of their bedrooms, so this will be a team effort.  It would be seriously bad if that happened.  Seriously.  Bad.  Bad bad.

But other than that, he's strangely easy.  He's super laid back, seems to really enjoy the kids, and he's affectionate and sweet.  Well behaved.  Is this normal?  I think he's already sort of attached to me, too.  He follows me around everywhere I go, and gave a little whine when I went down into the basement and wouldn't let him come with me.  He's sleeping on the floor right next to me now.

What a little sweetie.  And it is such a comfort to have his warm, furry little body keeping me company around here.  Welcome to the family, Freddy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Feeling Old (And Slightly Nuts)

Geez, I hope we're doing the right thing.  Today is our last day without a dog.  Our lives will change starting tomorrow!  Yesterday we set up Freddy's kennel ("room", according to my mom).  We ended up getting just a metal one, because we changed our mind about where it's going to be, and a wood one would have looked silly.  But we got his dishes, his food, a couple toys, and his little tag for his collar.  So I think we're pretty much ready!  I never made it to the grocery store yesterday, so I have to do that today, along with picking anything else up that I need for the pup.

So yesterday after running around getting dog stuff, hubby had the spur of the moment idea to take the kids to the Big 10 for some food.  The Big 10 is one of my favorite places to eat on the campus of the University of Minnesota, and we've taken the boys there before.  So we headed out, in hubby's ginormous monster truck.  I love going out to the campus.  It makes me nostalgic for my 18-24 year old self, but it also makes me feel at home.  I loved it there.  But yesterday was a bit different.

I didn't know we were going to end up there yesterday.  When we left the house, I thought we were going to Petco, and maybe running to a couple other pet-ish stores, with a possible trip to the grocery store.  So I was grubby.  I took no time to get ready before we left.  I was wearing sweatpants, my Crocs, and since I didn't do anything with my hair I just put my Santa hat on.  No biggie for the pet store, so I didn't give it too much thought.  Even when we ran into Miss Chihuahua and her family at the fleet farm.  I didn't care then, because well, she knows me already, and it's the fleet farm.

But a college campus?  And to make matters worse, I was wearing this big jacket that prominently advertises that I'm a MOM on it.  Which I am, and a proud one, but it just made me all the more, well, not-collegiate.  So I felt like a dork at the campus.  Old and a dork.  It was awesome.  Good think I don't know anybody out there anymore.  Because I'm now TWENTY years older than most of them.  AUGH!!!!

So that was fun.  Actually it was, once I got over myself.  I mean, vanity isn't a very big part of my personality, just in super-obvious moments like that.  We ate well, griped about what is happening to Washington Avenue, talked about how awesome the campus is, told the kids how much fun they're going to have in college, and came  home.

Then I had a mini-meltdown because the lights on my tree went out.  I was in the living room, folding laundry and watching my waste-of-brain-space soap, and the lights just went out.  I fiddled and fiddled with it, and ended up having to completely undecorate the tree, test the lights, re-string the lights, and re-decorate the tree.  I felt like Clark Griswold, for real.  When he's running around the yard kicking over his plastic Santa and reindeer set.  I actually told the kids to leave the room because I was very frustrated and did not want them watching me while I had my temper tantrum.

So I got it all figured out and re-done, and I even finished folding the laundry.  Crisis averted.  And I didn't break anything while I was pouting.  So bring on this dog--I can handle anything.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Tree, A Dog, A To-Do List

We got the tree decorated last night!  I sort of wanted to gather around it with the family and sway, singing "loo loo loo loo....." like they did in A Charlie Brown Christmas, but I didn't think the three men would go for it.  And I thought I would look like a weirdo doing it myself, so it didn't work out.  But isn't it purdy?  I always string the lights and then let the kids do all the ornaments.  They're getting much better at it.  In the early years all the ornaments would be clumped together in one section of the tree.

So Freddie is coming on Wednesday now, instead of Friday.  We're all excited, but reality is also setting in for me and the hubby.  I look around the house and realize I need to make some changes.  This time of year I always have dishes of candy put out, most of them involving chocolate.  They will all need to go up and out of Freddie-reach.  I'll also need to make sure to keep the door to the upstairs closed as much as possible.  I never shut it, and I should get into that habit.  In general, I've told the kids we need to keep the house picked up all the time so that Freddie doesn't get into anything he's not supposed to be getting into.  I feel bad that he's coming into our family when we're all decorated for Christmas--it probably looks a little crazy from a dog's perspective.  And I have no idea what he might do with the tree....

I also have been thinking about the general lifestyle changes.  We'll have to make sure to take him out first thing every morning, last thing every night, in addition to all the other times.  I'll need to take him for walks, which will be very good for me, and is one of the benefits I'm looking forward to from having a dog.  The forced exercise!  The only downside we've heard about Freddie is that he might be a runner.  So until we figure him out, he figures us out, and we get an electric fence or something, he's going to have to be on a leash when he's outside.  Which is sort of sad for a dog that lives on a farm...  And leaving home will be different!  If I leave when hubby's not here, I'll have to kennel him up when I go!  And I'll have to make sure to not leave him alone very long.  But I'm sort of excited to take him on little errands I have to run.  I hope he likes the car.

Then there's the money.  Yikes!  His adoption fee is pretty high.  We need to set him up with a vet.  We need to get all his gear.  A crate (I think I've picked the one out--it looks like a coffee table!), his food, food dishes, toys, treats, grooming gear, leashes, poop scoop, and all the bling I plan on getting him like cool collars and tags and junk like that.  Not to mention the electric fence thing.  And maybe seat covers for my car.  He's going to be so expensive!

So it's all good, and the kids are still in crazytown about it, but hubby and I are getting serious.  I think I'll do some shopping for him today, and then maybe some more tomorrow.  (Miss Chihuahua:  if you're reading this are you available Tuesday?)  It will be fun to see what's out there in the world for dogs since I was a dog owner.  Hubby and I got our first dog in 1997, and she was killed in 2003.  It's been a while since I've been willing to share my heart with a dog again, and I'm sure there have been improvements in dog gear.

My Christmas season is coming along nicely.  I actually started wrapping yesterday, so that always feels like progress.  I have probably just over half of my shopping done, but much of it was done on line, so I have to wait for it to arrive before I really feel like I can check it off.  My goal is to finish the Christmas shopping this week so I can concentrate on other things.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm going grocery shopping today, but hubby is itching to go looking at dog kennels.  So he may have to get dragged to the grocery store with me as well.  Which is hilarious, because grocery shopping is painfully boring for him. So much to do today!  And I have to clean up the house because when Freddie comes on Wednesday I'm sure they'll be checking us out, and I don't want to be embarrassed.

Eighteen days until Christmas Eve, folks!  Eeeek!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What A Special Day

FINALLY!!!!!  We have SNOW on the ground!!!!  Yesterday was beautiful.  Beautiful.   I love almost nothing more than the quiet snow falling at night, making a white blanket on the ground and trees, and especially with the Christmas lights glowing underneath.  It makes me want to pause time and just stare for a while.  Smelling that clean snow smell, listening to the hush of the flakes falling.  I LOVE it.

The First Meeting

What a lovely day yesterday.  We started the day, as you know, by going out to hopefully meet Freddie.  And we met him!!!!  I was a crazy woman.  It was this pet adoption event at a Petco.  We got there early, and he wasn't there yet.  So I hovered like a vulture around the front door watching for him.  I saw him get out of the car with his caretaker, and zeroed in.  As soon as they came in the door, I said, "is that Freddie?" And the guy said yes, sort of surprised, and I told him I'd been obsessing over him for days.  (I must have seemed off my rocker.)  So he HANDED ME THE LEASH for him.  He had another dog with him as well, so I suppose he was just letting me help him.  I didn't let the leash go the rest of the time we were there unless it was to the hubby.  Freddie was exactly like I'd imagined him, and I wanted him!  It was a chaotic event, there were about 15 dogs there and lots of people, and I think it made all the dogs very distracted.

Sitting for Kibble

The lady from the adoption agency let us (hubby, A, J, and me) take Freddie outside for a little walk to get away from the craziness, and she came along.  So it was nice to get out with him and really get a feel for him.  Hubby kept petting him to see if his allergies were going to kick in, but they seemed under control.  The kids loved him instantly.  She gave them some dog food from her pocket and he would sit for them and they'd give him a "treat."  I thought it was pretty cool that he thought even dog food was a reward, not just dog treats.  She said he's very food driven and it was handy that he'd "work for kibble."

Anyway, we are super interested.  But we couldn't come home with him, because that's not how it works, which is actually sort of a relief.  She (that main lady who is super nice) is coming over to our house with Freddie on Friday for a home visit.  If hubby's allergies are still under control, and all seems well with Freddie, he gets to stay!  So that gives us time to get a kennel for him, dog food and supplies, and all his gear so we're ready for him.

We're all so excited!!!!

So then after that we were able to go out and get our Christmas tree.  We went to a lot where we could pick and cut our own, and it was lovely.  It hadn't begun to snow yet, and it was still nice outside, no wind and not too cold.  We picked out a nice, full, narrow-ish tree, and wrapped it up and drove it home in the truck. Then after we got it home we left it in the truck because we had to drive an hour (or so we thought) to a birthday dinner party at my Uncle's house.

When we left it was snowing very hard, and although it was beautiful, I am not a huge fan of driving in heavy snow.  Hubby drove, of course, but I still get so nervous!  As we were driving and slipping around on the roads, one of our wiper blades FLEW off and over the car!  These things only happen to us, I swear.  So then we had to stop at a car place and get replacement blades, and that added on to our already long commute.  When we finally got to Uncle's house, we passed it unintentionally, and slid all the way down the hill his house is on, since his street had been turned into an ice rink.  Slid all the way down where we slowly crashed into the shrubbery at the bottom.  Luckily, no damage to the car, but it was an adventure getting back up to the hill to Uncle's house.  I pushed the car, since I was the obvious choice due to my superhuman strength and bulging muscles, and we eventually got it slid right in to the driveway.  I felt very powerful.  Ha!

We got home after the lovely dinner party with no more incidents and two deeply sleeping boys in the back.  What a day.  Now we have a Christmas tree sitting in the bed of hubby's truck under a four inch blanket of snow.  We'll have to shake it off and bring it in, because the kids and I are super excited to get it all decorated!  Woo hoo!

So today will be another lovely Christmas season weekend, with an added cheer because of the excitement over our impending new family member.  Now I know the cure for a funk (since I've been in one lately):  A new dog and snow!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dog Fever Part 2

Okay, folks, today is a big day.  Potentially.  We are going to a dog adoption event later this morning, and Freddie (the one in the picture from yesterday) is going to be there.  We are bringing the kids.  My hope is that we will meet him, and have a chance for the kids to meet him and for hubby to handle him and see if he's affected by allergies.  I am hoping there won't be other people there immediately who are also interested in Freddie, and if there are, I am going to try not to do something horrible like just take Freddie and run, or whisper to them that Freddie is a biter, or just push them down.

I'm so nervous!  It's just silly.  I get so weird about stuff like this.  I'm obsessing over it, no matter how hard I try not to.  It's a dog.  There are hundreds of dogs that need homes.  If we want a dog in our home, it does not have to be this one.  Unfortunately, the picture of him really affected me, and the description of him sounds so perfect.  But my brain is not letting me relax.  Here's a transcript of my brain for the last 10 seconds or so:

What if Freddie's not there?
What if someone already adopted him?
What if he hates the kids?
Ohmygosh I want him so bad!
What if we're not ready for a dog?
Is hubby going to like him?
Is our house going to get destroyed by a dog?
Will we play with a dog enough?
He's so cute!
Maybe he's too small.
Are other people going to be trying to get him at the same time?
How will we ever be free to travel?
Will he ride in the car ok?
I love him so much!
What if the kids don't like him?
What if there's a dog there we like more than Freddie?
It's going to cost so much money.
We don't have any supplies for a dog yet!
I hope Freddie's there.
What if we get him and he runs away?
What if we're terrible dog owners and he eats a bowl of Hershey kisses and gets horribly sick?
I hate clipping dog toenails.
He's so cute!

Holy cow I'm going to make myself crazy.  Yesterday I kept telling myself, "tons of people have dogs.  This shouldn't be such a big deal.  WE USED TO HAVE A DOG!"  What's wrong with me?  Has old age and parenting made me nuts?

We were also planning on getting our Christmas tree today.  So depending on how this other errand goes, we may or may not get to that.  Wow!  Maybe I should send hubby and the kids alone to that adoption event.  If I see him, and put my hands on him, I won't be able to walk away without him.  And that's not objective.  We need to make this decision the right way.  I'm so pathetic!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just Babbling

A had so much homework last night!  It's crazy.  He's in this program at his school where he stays after school for an hour and a half every Tuesday and Thursday, and it helps him catch up with some things at school.  Usually he gets most, if not all, of his homework for that day done at this program.  Not yesterday. He had an additional math homework, some vocabulary homework, and a map of the southeastern United States to do.  It was brutal!  He was doing homework past his bed time, with the help of trusty old dad, who is an unbelievably patient and thorough homework helper.  He's in fourth grade!  I remember having homework in 4th grade, but this seems excessive to me.  I hope it's just that he needs to catch up on things sometimes, and this isn't the standard.  Or how much worse is it going to get as he gets older?  Yikes!

Whew.  So I'm having a lovely home day today.  I did some shopping with my mom yesterday.  Got a few stocking stuffers (look out, SIL1!) and a few gifts, but mostly did birthday gift shopping for a big family birthday dinner this weekend.  Four people at a time!  We combine my extended family with my Uncle's family, and get together several times a year for groups of birthdays.  It's really fun.  Today I'm going to go through all my shopping stuff, do some wrapping, figure out what shopping I have left.  I need to do laundry, and hopefully do some work in the kids' rooms.  This is starting to seem less lovely.  Well, we'll see what I get to today.  I also promised the kids I'd make muddy buddies while they're at school.  Oooh!  I think I'll turn on Love Actually while I'm wrapping!  Yahoo!

It's a big weekend, folks!  I'm so excited!  I think we're getting our Christmas tree tomorrow!  And this year I'm putting it right in front of our living room window, where it belongs!  We haven't been able to put it there in the past because of the placement of our TV, but now with it mounted above the fireplace, there's room for the tree!  Yay!  Then we have our birthday dinner and the kids have a three day weekend.  Awesome.  I actually have plans every single weekend through December.  Which is actually sort of amazing if you knew my regular social schedule.

Freddie.  Be still my heart.
I also wanted to let my little pocket of readers know that although I've been quiet about it lately, I'm still wanting to add a dog to our crazy brood.  I've been slowing down on the hunt, though, making sure I'm doing it right, hoping the right one will jump out at me.  And I'm in love.  Right now he's just a picture that hubby showed me of a cutie that's up for adoption, but I love him.  His name is Freddie.  We left a voice mail for them and I e-mailed yesterday, so we'll see if he's still available, but he's pretty darling, so I wouldn't be surprised if some lucky family already swooped in on him.  But I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I have no idea what breed he is.  Neither does the adoption place.  He looks perfect to me.  I'll keep you all informed....

Oh, and a couple things I need advice on:

Do I want an iPad?  Do I need an iPad?  Is it cool enough to play the "Please hubby get me one for Christmas" card?

What are some of the coolest gifts you've ever received for Christmas?  I need some original ideas.

What are some good holiday cocktail recipes?  Like a peppermint martini?