Christmas is here!

I’m here in my living room surrounded with the white Christmas lights Ben enthusiastically strung all around the room the Friday after Thanksgiving, and Karen Carpenter is serenading me with “I’ll be home for Christmas.” As a family, we are deeply offended by Christmasiness anytime before pie is served on thanksgiving, after that, there’s no holding back. Thanks to Ben, decorating is a snap, especially if I’m not very persnicketty about how things are done.

Thanksgiving was nice, we were at pa/ma-in-laws with all but one of David’s siblings. David brined our home-grown 21 lb turkey for 14 hours with Alton Brown’s recipe, cooked it breast-down and turned out turkey perfection. He’s always been good, but this was the best. This turkey was seriously fat. There was a layer of fat a half an inch thick on some parts of the breast, which made for amazingly moist meat.

When I poured the drippings into the separator to make the gravy, there was 2 cups dark brown broth and two cups golden turkey fat. Two cups!! Insane.

I made Great-Grandma Anna Sophia Smith’s potato rolls, every roll dipped in butter before being folded over in the pan. The kids had a ball with their cousins.

Kid updates.

Lucy has been so much more vivacious since her surgery, it is obvious she can hear so much better. Her pronunciation is amazing, every T is crossed with her. She has such a sweet, distinct little personality and her and Noah play (and/or fight) wonderfully. She loves to “do TaeKwonDo” on people, screaming “Hi-YA!” and leaping about with knife strikes and kicks. She’s ready for the Little Tigers class over at Master Kim’s TaeKwonDo, but I’m not about to pay for that, so we’re going to put her and Noah back into “Monkeynastics” in January.

Sophie has been asking for some time to start TaeKwonDo and I’ve balked, in part because of the price and in part because I thought she was being competitive with Ben. But after a sufficiently long waiting period I realized she really wanted to and we took her to meet with Master Kim for her initial private lesson. He was excited and felt she had great natural talent. In fact, she was able to kick well above her head at first try. That, combined with being crazy flexible, made him think she’d do well if she applied herself. He gave her a fervent directive to work hard and not waste her talent. So, we’re a TaeKwonDo family now. They are both 2x a week, but will switch to 3x in January because it’s not that much more. It is just a few blocks up the street, really builds self discipline and self esteem and provides good exercise for the winter.

Ben is continuing to do very well in school and just got his TKD brown belt. He’s doing great in Webelos and is just all around growing up. We went to dinner with my aunt (my dad’s sister) and cousins from that side of the family and there was much comment about how much he looked like my dad as a kid and how his personality and brainpower were very much the same. I take both pride and terror in this, and always use these comments as an opportunity to remind Ben to use his superpowers for good and not for evil. Kidding, I just explain that with great abilities come great responsibilities, and that intellect alone gets you nowhere without focus, hard work, and goodness as a person. The other day I asked him if he was ready to talk about where babies come from, and he said, “Do I have to know? I have a feeling I don’t want to know.” Hilarious. I gave him a reprieve of a few months.

Noah is crazy, cute and wonderful as always. He also wants to start TKD but I told him he needs to stay dry for a month before he can be a Little Tiger. He is the one person that seems the most impacted by my working. He really acts out for attention and seems desperate for mom love, complete with wetting his pants. He is over five but seems like a young four to me. He has simple tastes–cold cereal, oatmeal, toast, cooked carrots, and anything with sugar in it. He hates everything else I make. He loves cars and blocks and carrying the poor cats around like luggage. Our poor cat Spike that got hit by a car last month is actually very recovered. He’s a little slower and still limps, but he’s almost back to normal. No thanks to Noah, who apparently trimmed his whiskers, again, this past week.

David is working like a crazy man. We’ve set some goals for this coming year and they require that he start billing as much as he can, so he’s taking tons of jobs and working nights and Saturdays. He’s a great provider and I’m really grateful that he works so hard. I have a surgery again on Wednesday (a laparoscopy to see if the endometriosis is still alive) and he’s trying to get work in so he can be available for that. I am so lucky to have my Grumpilicious.

As for me, I’m fine. I’m writing a lot, thinking a lot, praying a lot. Trying to sing more. Trying to figure out my purpose in life.

Tonight I’m making that fabulous 5 minute bread I posted a while back to go with Ben’s lasagna and we’re cutting out Christmas cookies. Yay food!

Christmas is here!

I’m here in my living room surrounded with the white Christmas lights Ben enthusiastically strung all around the room the Friday after Thanksgiving, and Karen Carpenter is serenading me with “I’ll be home for Christmas.” As a family, we are deeply offended by Christmasiness anytime before pie is served on thanksgiving, after that, there’s no holding back. Thanks to Ben, decorating is a snap, especially if I’m not very persnicketty about how things are done.

Thanksgiving was nice, we were at pa/ma-in-laws with all but one of David’s siblings. David brined our home-grown 21 lb turkey for 14 hours with Alton Brown’s recipe, cooked it breast-down and turned out turkey perfection. He’s always been good, but this was the best. This turkey was seriously fat. There was a layer of fat a half an inch thick on some parts of the breast, which made for amazingly moist meat.

When I poured the drippings into the separator to make the gravy, there was 2 cups dark brown broth and two cups golden turkey fat. Two cups!! Insane.

I made Great-Grandma Anna Sophia Smith’s potato rolls, every roll dipped in butter before being folded over in the pan. The kids had a ball with their cousins.

Kid updates.

Lucy has been so much more vivacious since her surgery, it is obvious she can hear so much better. Her pronunciation is amazing, every T is crossed with her. She has such a sweet, distinct little personality and her and Noah play (and/or fight) wonderfully. She loves to “do TaeKwonDo” on people, screaming “Hi-YA!” and leaping about with knife strikes and kicks. She’s ready for the Little Tigers class over at Master Kim’s TaeKwonDo, but I’m not about to pay for that, so we’re going to put her and Noah back into “Monkeynastics” in January.

Sophie has been asking for some time to start TaeKwonDo and I’ve balked, in part because of the price and in part because I thought she was being competitive with Ben. But after a sufficiently long waiting period I realized she really wanted to and we took her to meet with Master Kim for her initial private lesson. He was excited and felt she had great natural talent. In fact, she was able to kick well above her head at first try. That, combined with being crazy flexible, made him think she’d do well if she applied herself. He gave her a fervent directive to work hard and not waste her talent. So, we’re a TaeKwonDo family now. They are both 2x a week, but will switch to 3x in January because it’s not that much more. It is just a few blocks up the street, really builds self discipline and self esteem and provides good exercise for the winter.

Ben is continuing to do very well in school and just got his TKD brown belt. He’s doing great in Webelos and is just all around growing up. We went to dinner with my aunt (my dad’s sister) and cousins from that side of the family and there was much comment about how much he looked like my dad as a kid and how his personality and brainpower were very much the same. I take both pride and terror in this, and always use these comments as an opportunity to remind Ben to use his superpowers for good and not for evil. Kidding, I just explain that with great abilities come great responsibilities, and that intellect alone gets you nowhere without focus, hard work, and goodness as a person. The other day I asked him if he was ready to talk about where babies come from, and he said, “Do I have to know? I have a feeling I don’t want to know.” Hilarious. I gave him a reprieve of a few months.

Noah is crazy, cute and wonderful as always. He also wants to start TKD but I told him he needs to stay dry for a month before he can be a Little Tiger. He is the one person that seems the most impacted by my working. He really acts out for attention and seems desperate for mom love, complete with wetting his pants. He is over five but seems like a young four to me. He has simple tastes–cold cereal, oatmeal, toast, cooked carrots, and anything with sugar in it. He hates everything else I make. He loves cars and blocks and carrying the poor cats around like luggage. Our poor cat Spike that got hit by a car last month is actually very recovered. He’s a little slower and still limps, but he’s almost back to normal. No thanks to Noah, who apparently trimmed his whiskers, again, this past week.

David is working like a crazy man. We’ve set some goals for this coming year and they require that he start billing as much as he can, so he’s taking tons of jobs and working nights and Saturdays. He’s a great provider and I’m really grateful that he works so hard. I have a surgery again on Wednesday (a laparoscopy to see if the endometriosis is still alive) and he’s trying to get work in so he can be available for that. I am so lucky to have my Grumpilicious.

As for me, I’m fine. I’m writing a lot, thinking a lot, praying a lot. Trying to sing more. Trying to figure out my purpose in life.

Tonight I’m making that fabulous 5 minute bread I posted a while back to go with Ben’s lasagna and we’re cutting out Christmas cookies. Yay food!

quotes of the day

John F. Kennedy: “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”

 

Molly Ivins: “The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.”

 

Meg Greenfield: “Everybody’s for democracy in principle. It’s only in practice that the thing givesrise to stiff objections.”

So, it was short lived, but at least I have pumpkin

Whatever that feeling was, it’s gone now.  I guess it was the eye of the storm.  I’m still happy, but stressed to the max.  

 

Dave’s traveling, a campaign I did at work is blowing up in a good way but causing TONS of work/stress, Ben took a paper route (ie, I took a paper route, at least that’s the way it feels after the first week), money management seems like a part time job and for the past two days I have gone until 6 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. non-stop to get everything done, and that doesn’t count much housecleaning, and I’m not even touching my own projects.  This schedule may be normal for some of you, but arg, I need my beauty sleep.

 

And speaking of beauty, I need to give my testimony of Weight Watchers yet again, the “church for fatties” —I love it and am resigned and committed paying that $40/month WW “tithing” the rest of my life.  I got my 5% award last night and for the first time am finally living the program and feeling great.  It makes such a huge difference that I’m doing it with a friend (Kim from work).  It is exciting that I’m keeping it up under all the pressure.  Well, I accidentally discovered an amazing (cheap!) secret that’s helping me do that, more later when I have time.  (NO, it’s not meth, silly.)

 

So, even if you aren’t on WW, you should try this cake—the name is longer than the recipe!

 

Fast, cheap, easy, low-cal, fat free (but doesn’t taste like it) yummy snack cake:

 

15 oz can pumpkin

Any cake mix (spice, carrot and chocolate are my faves.)

 

It’s fine alone, but you can add a little cinnamon if you use chocolate or yellow mix.  Chocolate chips are always good (1 point per T!).  It takes a second to mix together and at first you’ll think it is too dry, then you’ll think it’s too thick.  You’ll be tempted to add eggs or oil or something—DON’T!  Spread it in a PAM’d 9×9 pan and cook at 350 for 25 or so minutes, cut in 12 pieces.  Dust with powdered sugar if you want.  They are less than 100 cal a piece (2 points!) and SO moist with a soft texture–you won’t believe there’s no fat in it.

 

Give me some pumpkin love…

What is this quiet?

When life calms down after what seems like a seven-year biblical
plague of chaos, every quiet moment comes with the natural worry that
there must be something that is being neglected. The last week has
been like this several times–no doctor appointments, nothing extra–
just the regular schedule. Drop off kids at 8, go to work, pick up
kids at noon, go home and do chickens and chores. Then there are big
gaps of time where there is no pressing thing until dinner.

Weird. Of course, there are the ever-present things–bills, more
cleaning, the writing projects. I could always log in and do more
work, and sometimes have to. I teach voice on Wednesdays and then,
after Dave gets back from EQ meetings I have pie-n-cry with Elaine in
the late evening at 9 (highly recommended!). I have WW (my AA) on
Thursday nights with friend and co-worker Kim.

The kids fight and make messes and are loud, but for the most part
are rather low maintenance. It is hard to remember to put active
parenting on my list, but I'm trying to. They're fun to hang out
with most of the time.

I'm so lucky, because both Ben and Sophie do their homework after
school almost entirely independently. Chores take some daily
cajoling, but usually it doesn't take too much bellowing. Ben just
got a paper route and is about to go from blue to red belt in Tae
Kwon Do–I'm really proud of him. Sophie has demanded singing
lessons of her own, and though I don't do hardcore training, she
learns songs so well, sings on pitch and has the cutest smile as she
sings. Noah has just started with his own formal chores and is
busily building with blocks and driving little cars around it seems
half the day. He and Lucy love their little preschool and she's
identifying letters and talking wonderfully. Probably helps that she
can hear now. She's still dealing with some pain, but that surgery
for tubes and adenoids was definitely a good idea.

I feel happy, and that's weird. I feel peaceful. I don't recall
taking any drugs. What is this quiet?

NOTE: Hey, since I write only sporadically these days, if you don't
use a reader and want an email each time I post, please email me and
let me know.