Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December Eve

Well, I tried.  My goal was to be completely ready for Christmas by December 1 so that I could coast through the month.  A lofty goal.  Too lofty, as it turns out.  But although I'm not finished, my start is nothing to sneeze at.  The month of December should be pretty easy.

This afternoon, I finished getting the Advent bags ready for the countdown to Christmas, which starts tomorrow.  I really enjoyed doing this last year, and so did Daphne.  Kev mostly enjoyed it, I think, but for him, there can be too much Christmas, and a 24 day countdown is probably pushing it a little.  What I like, though, is that this countdown forces us to stop down at least once every day as a family and do something together to celebrate the season.  Otherwise, we'd probably just go through the usual tired after-dinner routine, which often involves some or all of us being cranky, behaving poorly, collapsing into a crying heap, and/or falling asleep on the couch.  These bags generally seem to promote good will and good behavior.  So, I highly recommend doing this if you have kids in your house.  Or even if you don't!  And if 24 seems like too much, you could always count down the 12 days of Christmas. 

If you want to see what kinds of things were in the bags last year, you can go to the December 2010 archive on the sidebar.  This year will be much of the same.  I'll try to check in each day, though, with a "Bag Report."  So stay tuned for that.

Here is a helpful Thanksgiving tip for you:  If you are in charge of the cheddar biscuits and have to buy a giant thing of buttermilk because the recipe calls for 1/2 cup, don't throw out the rest of the buttermilk.  That's what I usually do.  But this year, I decided to make buttermilk pancakes from scratch, and I am so glad I did.  They were awesome and they made my family happy.  Making pancakes from scratch is only very slightly more difficult than using a mix, so I don't know why people don't do it more often.  I used this recipe and just ignored the part about the molds. Williams-Sonoma never lets me down.

On Sunday, my Daisies went Christmas caroling with the Brownies and Juniors from our school to collect food for a local shelter.  What a great day.  The weather was awesome - in the high 60s - and the kids were so cute.  Everyone had a great time and we collected quite a bit of food.

Then last night at our meeting, the girls received their Girl Scout pins in a short ceremony.  Here they are, singing a little song for the parents.  I wish I had video.  Cute.

Meanwhile, I am still fighting some kind of weird head-cold thing.  I haven't gotten full-blown sick, but I've been feeling pretty crummy for a week now.  Maybe it's the crazy weather.  It has been so warm that the cherry tree out back got confused and started blooming.  But today, a cold front is blowing through and it will probably feel like winter again tomorrow. 

The rest of this week is about making small steps toward finishing Christmas.  Daphne just asked to help decorate.  This should be interesting.

Another quick tip:  If you happen to get superglue on your fingers while decorating your home for Christmas, pure acetone nail polish remover will get it off.

See you tomorrow for Bag Number One!

Friday, November 25, 2011


 I like Thanksgiving.  Great food, visitors from out of town, naps.  This year, I was once again in charge of cheddar biscuits, sweet potatoes (thank you, Suzanne), and a dessert (the apple crisp of course).  I've been fighting a little head cold all week, but it didn't stop me from enjoying all the food.  (Last year, I was REALLY sick on Thanksgiving and couldn't taste anything.)  And it was great to see my aunts. 

Here's everyone at the table with plates of food waiting to be eaten:

It took about 15 minutes to eat.  Best meal of the year.

Wednesday night, we went out to celebrate Daphne's good report card.  She picked the gas station Thai place for dinner, and then we saw the new Muppet Movie.  It is awesome.  Really really good.  At one point, during a hilarious scene with singing chickens, I laughed out loud for about 2 minutes straight. I never do that at movies.  And the audience clapped at the end of the movie.  That doesn't happen every day.  So, go see it if you can.  You will be glad.

Cider making has begun again at our house.  One of them is giving off a pretty bad smell.  I hope that means the yeast is doing its job in there.

While Kev has been working on cider, I have been working on projects for my new job helping to plan birthday parties.  Our first paying gig has a princess theme.

And Daphne has been working on learning some Christmas songs at piano lessons.  Sometimes Kev joins her on guitar.  It is one of my favorite things to see/hear.

Sunday, the Daisies are going caroling, which should be very cute. 

I hope you all had a safe and happy Thanksgiving and are enjoying the nice long weekend. 

And now, Christmas.  Bring it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

School, Candy, and Rock and Roll

The most recent theme in Daphne's kindergarten class is "turkeys."  They've been talking about turkeys for the last couple of weeks, and Daphne has decided that she loves turkeys.  So much so, that she isn't going to eat one for Thanksgiving.  We had a long discussion in the car the other day about killing animals and eating meat and so forth.  It went something like this:

D:  Mom, it isn't fair to kill the turkeys!  I'm never eating turkey again!

Me:  Well, we need the protein that we get from meat to be healthy.

D:  Why can't they just make meat at a factory instead of killing animals?

Me:  You can't MAKE meat.  It comes from animals.

D.  Well, I don't want to kill any animals.  I'm not eating meat anymore.

Me:  Then you will have to get protein some other way, like by eating lots of eggs.  (She doesn't like eggs)  And that means no more hot dogs, hamburgers, bacon, ham, chicken...

D:  That will be hard.  (Long silence)

She ate some beef at dinner last night without mentioning anything.  I'm not sure how much she understands, but  I know that she feels pretty strongly about the turkeys.  I told her she could just have ham on Thanksgiving if she wants.  She said she was going to demand that nobody else eats turkey either.  I told her she can't do that, but if it would help, I'd skip the turkey too, and just have ham with her.  This seemed to help, and to be honest, I'm not that crazy about turkey anyway.  I feel an inevitable vegetarian phase coming on at some point with this kid. It's only a matter of time.

Yesterday, I got to go to Daphne's school for American Education Week.  The parents were invited into the  classroom to see the typical goings-on, which was good, because it has been hard to get a clear picture of a school day just from Daphne's descriptions.  While I was there, she did an art project  and worked on the computers:

Then, the parents were herded into the cafeteria for a special treat.  The kids all appeared on stage to perform the Turkey Tango  (click picture to enlarge.  Daphne is left of center in green.)   :

There is nothing like a bunch of five-year-olds singing and dancing.  I loved it.  And the kids had a great time.

How could I possibly think of eating a turkey after that?

In Daisy news, the girls in my troop each brought some leftover Halloween candy to be donated to soldiers.  They made some cards to go with it.  Yesterday, I took the candy to a local dentist's office, which was participating in a candy buy-back program, so it could be shipped overseas.  It turns out that they were paying a dollar per pound of candy donated!  I figured we might get some toothbrushes or something, but didn't know there would be cash!  Anyway, we collected 17 pounds of candy, so we earned $17 for our troop.  Maybe we'll have an ice cream party or something with the money to make up for the Halloween candy they gave away.

Last night, I went to Jammin Java in Vienna with Jeff to see the great John Wesley Harding:

He appeared with his latest band, which was made up of him, some Decemberists, a guy named Scott McCaughey from various bands like the Young Fresh Fellows, and Peter Buck, from a little band you may have heard of called REM.  It was a weird show.  I have seen JWH probably more times than any other musical act, several times since the very beginning of his career in the late 80s.  He usually plays alone or with a couple other people in an unplugged setting, so it was strange to see him with a whole big loud band.  He did do an acoustic solo set in the middle of the show, but it was all new songs that no one had ever heard.  In fact, during the whole show, I had only ever heard two of the songs, and that was just because I happened to see them on youtube. Normally, I would be very upset seeing a whole show of songs I don't know, but the band was so great that it didn't matter.

It was weird to be 20 or 30 feet from Peter Buck.  He appeared to be very disinterested in the whole thing, and stood off by himself for most of the show, very still and expressionless.  Every now and then, he'd lean into a chord a little, and there would be a slight hint of stink-face as if he was about to get into it, but then, he'd quickly return to being stoic, as if he suddenly remembered he was playing for about 150 people at a coffee shop in suburban Virginia instead of a stadium full of superfans.  Maybe that's just the way he is, though.  I don't think he'd be doing the tour if he wasn't enjoying it.  He certainly doesn't need the money.  He played mandolin on a couple songs, which was really cool.   And he was wearing a fabulous shirt.

After the show, I got the new JWH release on vinyl, and he signed it for me.  He has aged.  That means I have aged as well.  In fact, the whole crowd was made up of a bunch of really old looking people, who were probably actually about the same age as me.  (Shudder).  I got home at 11:30, and was exhausted.  No more rock shows for a while.

The Christmas train is rolling along at my house.  I feel pretty on top of things at the moment.  It's nice to have my act together for once.  I better get off the computer, though, and do something productive so as not to throw off the groove.

Save the Turkeys!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

Happy 11-11-11, and a shout out to all the good Veterans.   It's been busy as usual around here.  Daphne was out of school on Monday and Tuesday, so we had a four-day weekend.  Highlights included a trip to Build-a-Bear workshop and a visit to Our Nation's Capital for museums, planetariums, barbeque with Uncle Jeff, a carousel ride, and ice cream on the National Mall.  Big Fun for a Monday.

It was a beautiful fall day.  We really got lucky with the weather, because now it is cold and windy. I don't mind cold, but I'm not a fan of windy.

The planetarium was cool, but it made me carsick!  And the show we saw was narrated by the very irritating Whoopi Goldberg.  But it was still cool.  Daphne loved it.

We almost didn't get to go to the planetarium, because Kev had his Swiss army knife, which is against the Smithsonian rules.  Don't tell anyone, but he went outside and hid it in the bushes while we went in the museum.  The security guards were very rude.  They were just doing their jobs, but they didn't have to be such jerks about it.  This is the one and only negative thing I can think of to say about the Smithsonian museums.  All of them are really great.  And free.  DC is awesome.

Yesterday was Daphne's 50th day of school, so they had a Fifties Day party.  Daphne's teacher invited me to go, and I'm so glad I did.  It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen.  The kids and teachers dressed up.

There was a dance party, decorations, root beer floats, bubble gum, the limbo, the chicken dance (did they have that in the 50s?):

and some very wheels-off hula-hooping:

I loved every minute of it.  The kids did too.  So dang cute. 

And now, it's Friday again.  I am hoping for a low-key weekend, but not holding my breath.  I am pleased to report that I am about half-way finished with my Christmas shopping, and almost completely prepared for the repeat of last year's popular Advent Bags.  My goal is to be done with as much as possible by December 1st so I can coast through the month.  We shall see.

Anyway, enjoy the weekend, wherever you are.  If you don't have anything to do, make the apple crisp I told you about the other day.  You will not be sorry.

Friday, November 04, 2011

We've Been Fairy-ed!

At 5:40 am, we were awakened to the sound of excited pitter-pattering, the flinging open of our door, and shouting.  "Guys!  Guess what!  The Tooth Fairy came!  Turn on the light so I can show you what she brought!"

5:40 am.  FIVE FORTY.  AM.  In the morning.

Rewind to yesterday after school, when my kid, who cries at the mere thought of removing a band-aid, who runs screaming at the suggestion of tasting something that has touched melty cheese,  decided that nothing would do but that she must pull out her loose tooth, all by herself,  immediately.  There was quite a bit of blood, but she was not deterred.   Once the decision was made, there was no turning back.  The whole procedure took about 10 minutes, but there was (shockingly) nary a tear.  Not even a wince!  Someone brave took over Daphne's brain long enough to get that tooth out. 

She was so proud, and so excited.  And I was in shock.  I have never seen her so determined to do something new and sort of scary.  Way to go, little Peanut.

In the evening before bed, she wrote this note:

Short and sweet, and right to the point.  The kid wants to keep all her teeth, because she "will miss them too much." 

The Tooth Fairy, as you can see at the top, was kind enough to let her keep this first one, but hopefully will be collecting all the rest.  She also left a very nice, very tiny note, and a one dollar coin with Andrew Johnson on it.  We know this because Daphne came in and showed us.  At 5:40 am.

And in spite of being really tired, I am really happy that Daphne was so excited that she woke up early for a little happy magical childhood moment.  Everybody needs those now and then.

Off to make more coffee now...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Oh Dear

There seems to be no end to this stuff:

Get ready to be Elf-ed.

If I have to Elf somebody, I am going to put a bag on their porch containing a bottle of maple syrup and a box of spaghetti.