The boys are outside playing around the neighborhood with friends, the girl is wrapping gifts, the oven is ticking along with chex mix. No, the ironing did not get done. I baked a birthday cake for 4th born. But no, the beds did not get made. Yes, I did the laundry, but no, it didn't get put up. (Hey, at least it's clean) The crock pot is doing all the work of dinner.
Trying to understand the joy in the season is not all that hard - it's finding the simplicity that's tricky. You can fill your life to the brim, AND focus on the important things, but it's a fine line you walk. You want to add more thinking it means more. Yet, you want to weed out the excess thinking you would be less stressed. What's the formula for that?
No, it isn't the shopping or the planning, the cleaning or the baking, the decorating or the exchange of presents, though all those things are nice and add to my memories of the season...it's spending time with those I love, doing something or, doing nothing..
I've a little out of control with baking lately, mainly with sweets. But I can't help it; the house smells so good and warm after wards, and everyone here loves a treat!
Last Saturday night The Girl and I make pretzel candies with Hershey kisses and M&M's. It was the first time we'd tried it, so of course, a few of the messy ones got eaten right away. I packaged them up for hubby's family and people at work. Scout was our taste tester and he approved, so we're good to go on that one - next time, tho, we have to lay in a supply of wax paper!
The neighbors and family friends are getting cookies and Chex Mix. Last night I signed up to bake even more cookies - the PTA needed help with cookie care packages for the teachers. My specialty: gingersnaps. So good warm from the oven! They keep well and are awesome with a hot mug of cocoa. I almost have the kitchen clean, the last batch is coming out now, time to eat lunch and head out for more errands...
Since my kids have been school and/or Mother's Day Out, I so look forward to every break in school that I get to have them home with me. I plan menus, activities...everything, really, around these times. I make plans for crafts we can all do, movies we can all see, what days we're going to eat lunch out, which afternoons to spend at the park. I know how fleeting these days are and I want to treasure them. I don't regret becoming a part-time worker bee so I could be a full-time mom. It's probably the wisest decision I ever made. I know there will come a day that I will be thankful and fulfilled, remembering the good old days of 4 kids under the age of 9.
...and I might actually get it done before Christmas! If you had told me a few years ago I would be like this now - slow as molasses in the winter - I would have scoffed at you. I actually have a stash of gifts that I buy during the year at places like Bath and Body Works, Target, etc. But for some reason, I just didn't think in that direction this year and my stash got depleted with Valentine's Day, birthdays, Mother's Day, and the like. Then I just had other things to work on. And I don't really love shopping to begin with, tho that doesn't mean I can't spend money with the best of them! I've been doing more on-line shopping which is helping me play catch up. But I don't have everyone's wish list yet, so there's another thing slowing me down.
Dec. 17th is the absolute last day the kids or Hubby can give me ideas....otherwise, I'm just going to get 'er done! After all, I want to ENJOY having the kids out of school and all the fun activities the holidays bring!
I can't remember where I got this recipe from but by now it's all over the internet. It's easy, smells good, and is fun to do. Mix equal parts ground cinnamon and unsweetened applesauce to make a dough. Rol it out like a pie crust - not too thin. You want your finished ornaments to be sturdy. Use a straw to poke a hole for hanging later.
Use a spatula to transfer them to a flat surface where they will need to lie undisturbed for a couple days.
Hang them on the tree, packages, etc. They last for years and hold their scent really well. I wouldn't recommend this project to very small kids who don't get the concept of not eating playdoh. It can't hurt them, maybe give them a tummy ache, but that's no fun! We've made these several times over the years and my kids really like it. I think it might have been the combination of a hands-on craft and the wonderful, Christmas-y scent. Have fun!
It lasted about 15 whole minutes. If you blinked you would be asking "Is it here yet?" and we'd be saying "Pay attention next time!". I had to call this guy away from the computer twice because he really didn't believe me. In one photo he is examining a flake at close range as if he isn't sure I'm not pulling his leg. He went inside disgusted with the whole thing. It wasn't even sticking to the ground. A short while later my neighbor called - it was sunshine-y and a very few flakes were flying around. She was bummed. We were robbed! It was the Great Snow Storm of 2009? Better luck next year.
The great thing about it being really, really cold the next few days is that I get to use my oven as much as I want! I went through my recipe box last night and picked out a few I'd like to do - old favorites and new ones, too. I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cake this morning to send with The Girl on her trip to Ft. Worth. I figured I might as well use up the cranberry sauce so Cranberry Oatmeal bars went in next. That got me to thinking about other things we might like to snack on this weekend so I looked up ideas on PW and found her version of Chex Mix - the ingredients for that will go in my HEB cart this afternoon, along with hot cocoa mix. The crock pot is cranking away, so the oven will be free for the rest of the day....maybe some rolls to go with that beef stew? Gotta love this weather!
I think I may have ranted before about how I dislike shopping. I'm sure it has to do with wasting huge amounts of time searching for something, standing in a line, being checked out by not-nice people, costing me more in time and money and gas than if I had just stayed at home and logged onto Amazon. My own private shopping salon has a sweet little lamp, a sentimental portrait, a tree behind me adding beauty to the room, and is conveniently located in a part of the house that's close to the front door and a window. Like having a really nice corner office. Only at home. And it smells good. And I don't have to get dressed. Seasonal craziness not needed or invited.
Normally we're a family of "getting it all done". Well, Hubby and Firstborn tend to procrastinate, but there are four other people pulling them along in the current....This week, I feel like I'm floating along at a slow pace. I am determined to actually accomplish something, but it's like swimming with your boots on - you think you are getting somewhere, but you just barely have your head out of the water. I'm finding it hard to get started on the day - it's after 9 before I get a burst of energy. That's not good, since I've been up since 6:15 most days. And yes, I've had my coffee. Plus, in addition to all the things I do for my family during the week, we have the holidays upon us. That brings a whole new list to add to my ever-growing weekly one. Thanksgiving was over so fast. A month from now I will wonder where Christmas went and I will still have a list of things to do as long as my arm...will I still feel like I am behind?