Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year Once Again

It is indeed New Year's Eve.  We have new snow on the ground (very pretty so far), and no plans for the evening.  John and I dropped off the 2 older children for a day-long D&D marathon and took William to the grocery store, so we have a large variety of salty crunchy snacks in addition to the remainder of the frozen cream puffs that did not get eaten at Christmas.  (Lest you think we have remarkable self-control, we had 1/2 the large bag of cream puffs in addition to innumerable homemade cookies, peanut clusters, and nearly 15 lbs of fudge.  Ask my sister how to "fail" at No-Fail Fudge sometime.)

There is currently a debate about playing Monopoly vs. Risk, or should we watch the movie we got for Christmas or perhaps the one we've had from Netflix for a month?  My vote is for a movie so I can keep knitting on the headband for my sister (my plan is to knit a hat, but stop before I start the decreases).

We had a variety of frozen appetizers for dinner (yes, we cooked them first).  William tried Ramen noodles for the first time (yes, he liked them).  I'm feeling so unambitious it's amazing.

It's not a bad way to start the year, I think.  The only way to go is up.  And while I appreciate the customs and superstitions that say you should start the new year with a clean house and money around and all the things you want to perpetuate into the new year, I think I'm ok with happy children and full tummies.  We'll be cozy and lazy and snuggle with each other.  And if that's what the new year holds?  That's a good thing.

Happy New Year, everyone.

It's Very Quiet Now

Everybody went home yesterday.  My sister's family (My sis, her husband, 4 yr. old twin boys and 2 yr. old daughter), and my mother.  They'd been here since last Tuesday (Monday for Mom).  It's been a houseful - 11 people at every meal.  We even all trucked into New York (by subway, no less!) to go to the Museum of Natural History on Dec. 26th, along with what seemed like the rest of the world.  It may not have been the best choice of dates to go, really.  But the kids loved it.

It's been really really fun.  And a little trying at times (good thing we have 3 bathrooms!).  The kids got along remarkably well, with a few spats here and there.  And so did the adults.  And while I'll admit to enjoying being really really lazy today and "cooking" dinner by pulling random leftover appetizers out of the freezer, I miss everybody.

Makes me wish they all lived closer and we could do this more often.  But not right away.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This About Sums it Up

Two years ago, I linked to a video of "12 Days of Christmas" by an a cappella group out of Indiana called "Straight No Chaser".  This year, I discovered they have released a couple of Christmas albums.  So for your viewing pleasure, here's a link to my children's new favorite Christmas song.  Couldn't get it to embed directly, so click the link and hopefully it will work.

I have a definite weakness for unconventional Christmas songs.  And a cappella singing.

Holiday Stress Much?

There are still rumours FLYING around the high school in the wake of the bomb threat, about shootings and fake fire alarms and whatnot.  So much so that the principal gave a general address on the PA about "don't pass along these text messages" and "terrorists and shooters don't give warnings so knock it off".  I know of several students that have stayed home at least one day because they were freaked out.  We don't break for Christmas vacation until the 23rd.  It can't come soon enough, these kids need a break from each other!

Holiday cleaning is...coming along.  I'm torn between getting it done and waiting until the last minute so it STAYS done.  3 kids?  The half-life of bathrooms around here is pretty short.

I'm sort of, not really, almost done with shopping.  I'm in the phase where I keep realizing I need a present for so-and-so (including teachers!).  I keep thinking I'm almost out of time, because my Mom arrives on Monday and my sister and her family on Tuesday - but really, I can get some shopping done while they're here.  Probably.  And the knitting for my mom?  Not looking like it's going to make it.  Maybe.  We're going into New York City on Tuesday, and I'm thinking it would be tacky to be knitting her present while with her on the subway.  Ya think?

Trying to embrace that "Christmas Spirit" and be mindful of the reason we do all this.  It's hard sometimes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not So Quiet In Lake Wobegone

It's been a very non-quiet week here in Lake Wobegone.  Turns out the bomb threat was real - at least, they've arrested two teenagers and found bomb-making materials, black powder, guns, ammo, etc. at their houses.  Nothing at the school (or at the school the 2nd suspect attends).  Several of the teens at our church were expressing the opinion that going to school today was unsafe.  The target date for the attack is today, but I seriously doubt that if there ARE any remaining conspirators, they would carry out any plan today.  I'm going to guess that the "increased police presence" at the school will be considerable.  So I sent JC to school this morning.

He was seriously dragging, though, because he didn't get home until midnight last night.  Since the marching band won the regional competition, they got invited to play halftime at the Giants-Eagles game last night.  So if you watched the game on television, you may have noticed a band standing in a semi-circle for about 2 seconds before they slapped the halftime logo over them.  That was us.  Everyone was very excited beforehand, however, by the time JC got home, he was cold, tired, and hungry.  Giants Stadium lived up to its reputation for being REALLY COLD, and JC was tired enough to be rather unimpressed.  The only other comment he made?  It was really loud.

JC also had his audition for region band on Saturday.  His audition time was set for 1pm, but they were running seriously late and he didn't actually play until after 3.  That probably didn't help, but he also said he was really nervous.  Regardless, he didn't get in.  Could he have practiced his scales and solo more?  Well, of course, but he did put in a (somewhat) reasonable effort.  And now he has a year to get those scales down before next time.  One of his good friends did make it (Yay, Nick!), and another tuba player from the school, who JC did admit is better than he is, just barely squeaked in as 8th out of 8.  We knew it would be competetive.  But he's clearly a little bummed about it.

Let's end on a high note, shall we?  The youth group at our church FINALLY performed the musical they've been practicing for what seems like forever.  Other than wishing we had scraped up more of an audience, it went spectacularly well.  Rachel, John (in the part of "Dad"), and William performed, and JC ran the sound system and hit all his music cues.  Kudos all around, and hooray!  No more Sunday evening practices!

And now a quiet week?  I wish.  Mom arrives Monday, my sister and her family on Tuesday, and, oh yeah, there's this little holiday called "Christmas" that requires shopping, and baking, and cleaning.  The good news?  John is NOT travelling all week.  Hooray!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Well, THAT'S a New One!

Our high school is closed today. There was a bomb threat, and in the interest of safety, they cancelled classes for the day, while the police and bomb-sniffing dogs go do their thing. We got the robo call at midnight last night.

Huh. Not something that happens every day (at least around here). And wouldn't you know it, today JC actually NEEDS something from school. He's auditioning for the regional High School band tomorrow, and was going to bring home the good tuba from school (the practice one we have at home is kind of on the crappy side). To his credit, when I told him at 6am that he had no school, his first question was about the tuba.

None of the other schools in the district have been closed - but we got the phone alert from all of them letting us know what was going on. I think they were worried about rumour-spread and needed to reassure parents that their kids were safe. Fine, but if I hadn't been up to talk to JC, I would have been annoyed at the phone call at 6:15am. And then for the other school at 6:30.

I did get an email from the band director saying the high school would be open at 6am tomorrow. Auditions are at 8am, so we should be okay- but I would feel better if we could get the tuba today.

What was that about "best-laid plans"?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

10 Minutes or Less (More or Less)

My stamping group has had precious little time to get together in the past couple of years. We used to meet almost monthly - now it can be 6 months before we can manage to get together. But when we do, we have a fabulous time.

We had a shoebox swap last night. For those who don't know, everyone designs a card, makes 1 sample, and brings all the materials for everyone to recreate it for themselves. Typically, they are supposed to be 10 minute cards - you should be able to finish in 10 minutes (or less, so you can have a snack). Somehow, we don't always manage that. Something that YOU think takes 10 minutes is hard for someone else. So whoever has the most complicated card is usually subjected to merciless razzing from everyone else. Can you guess which one got the most flak last night?

Cathie always designs beautiful cards - but the little tiny beads were really challenging to string late at night with most of us getting out our reading glasses. However, it was absolutely worth the effort and I love the effect. Sadly, Cathie wasn't able to join us, but she brought over her box earlier in the day, which was very sweet.

Personally, this one was probably my favorite. It's a lovely simple design, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't get this stamp set (and punch! Nothing to cut out!). The colors didn't scan well, though. The left ornament is a bright fuschia. And it doesn't really show, but they are embossed with clear so they have a lovely shine to them. I didn't realize mine weren't straight until I did the scan. Oops. Shona always comes up with a winner.

This is actually my card. Yes, it was the simplest, fastest one of the evening. The metal snowflake is a brad, so just punch a hole and poke it through. You can't tell from the scan, but the blue has a subtle shimmer to it, and the navy has a texture. Just to jazz it up a little. Simple, but I was happy with it.

Alas, the scanner and dimensional cards don't get along. And I'm too tired to get out my camera. Sorry Dale! Maybe tomorrow. But the fancy border is a punch, and the adorable elf just required a little coloring. The jingle bell that's causing all the trouble was a great touch (although not Post Office friendly).

Linda did NOT torture us by making us cut out the trees. They were die-cuts, just requiring a touch of "snow" for detail. And trimming the deckle edge was also super easy, so this was another easy winner.

I also love Ruth's card. I'm a sucker for monochromatic and I LOVE the combination of Pale Plum and Perfect Plum (Stampin' Up papers). And she had multiple choices for the sentiment, which was fabulous.

Janet's card probably got the most comments for being fun and cute. Also, not too hard or too easy (just like in Goldilocks!). Unfortunately, Janet couldn't join us either because she's sick, but I was able to pick up her shoebox earlier in the week. And yes, we all made extras of our own cards for Janet and Cathie.

And the teddy bear card from Grace is at the top of the post. Completely adorable, and absolutely the most-time consuming card of the evening (Grace would vehemently protest this, she thought it was easy). The bear, hat, candy cane, and present were each stamped, colored, embossed, flocked (the fuzzy on the hat), and cut out. Seperately. The background was stamped and embossed. Then all was stuck together with dimensional foam for depth. Cute, but Grace, come on. Making me cut out details at 10pm? She was protesting that it was "relaxing", but I still don't think it was a 10-minute card. (But it was fun. Don't tell Grace!)
All in all, we had a great evening. We ate and drank too much (pomengranete martinis! Ruth is an awesome hostess) and got very silly and had some serious discussions and sang "Happy Birthday" to Ruth and Grace, who both have birthdays this week. Makes me want to do it again - sooner rather than later.