This is NOT how I planned my week off…

December 31, 2008

We took a short, last minute, trip to Las Vegas to spend Christmas with Andrew, Nancee, and Seth.  We drove out Wednesday, returned Friday.  It was perfect.  We didn’t turn on a computer, we didn’t really use the phones, we just hung out with our two little families and enjoyed each other’s company (and a lot of food!)

(For those who are keeping track, this was my third trip to Las Vegas.  On Christmas Day we decided to go up to the strip and watch the Bellagio fountains.  We pulled up to the valet (it’s free, you know, and so much more convinient) just before 6pm, and unloaded.  As we approached the best spot to watch the show (only a few feet from our sitting cars) they announced that due to the weather there would be no fountain show.  It was raining a little, and windy more, and that was enough.  So we immediately got our keys from the valets and hopped into our cars which hadn’t yet even been moved, and we took off to the Venetian to walk around the Grand Canal.  In the process of wandering around we found a fantastic vantage point for the Mirage volcano.  Both Paul and Andrew checked the website from their phones and confirmed that after 6pm the volcano erupts every 15 minutes.  We waited 45.  We saw nothing.  We left.)

Christmas was beautiful and relaxing.  We were touched by all the brothers who weren’t on the schedule to shop for us this year who did, and touched by the generosity of so many friends and family members. 

Saturday felt like any other vacation day; we spent the day together as a family and we went to Aiden’s birthday party.  (He’s ONE!!!)  Quick note on the fun party, here’s a short conversation Jen shared with me later:

random party guests, probably family members with regard to me while I get watered-down juice for my and Jennifer’s children: Wow, that woman should have ten children!

Jen, overhearing, responds: well, she is the oldest of nine.

Thankyouverymuch, I have done my time in a large family.  Mission completion.

Sunday was equally calm and peaceful, until Boy Blue started vomitting on Sunday night.  And all night.  And all day on Monday, when the squirts started, too.  And Tuesday, when we checked with the doctor who told us she had just had the same thing go through her family, and to not get worried unless the vomitting continued to be severe ater 72 hours.  She predicted (correctly) that he would improve last night, or today at the latest, and he has now been keeping his food down for nearly 24 hours.  But he’s still tired, and does still have the squirts (although, less.)  And I got it, now.  Hooray.  I spent all day with him on the couch changing positions between naps, which wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t been holding him all day and sleeping all night with him on the couch since Sunday night.

I am tired of the couch.

And if I am in bed during my whole week off, I’m going to be pretty mad.  Little Red is tired of watching movies and frustrated at all the cancelled playdates.  He beeeegggggs for someone to play with him, or to take him to a friend’s.  I had a lot of things planned for this week.  This was not on the list.  We have already had our annual illnesses, this is one bonus we’d rather not have.

Little Red and Paul are not yet sick, but I know they’re both going to get it.  How can they not?  Our entire downstairs smells like vomit — I’m not going to rent a steamer until I know that no one else is going to throw up on the carpet.  So basically I think we’re going to be sick straight through to Monday.

I guess it’s better than being sick with a stomac bug next week, with Aiden in the recipe.  (even though we got this from Aiden’s cousin at the party …)

I’m sick of the couch and I’m sick of sleeping.  I’m surviving on Pepto Bismol, Pedialyte Pops, and crackers.  Happy New Year.  2009 better be better than this.  I’m willing to compromise, though, and I’ll take increased illness in exchange for a job.  I’ll take something, anything.  But the cosmos had better get us a job soon or I’m going to lose it all.

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Tastes Like Christmas

December 28, 2008

Growing up I spent every other Christmas at Dad’s. During many of those years he was a bachelor, and lived and ate as such. We always had Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast, Kraft Dinner or sandwitch stuff for lunches, and we usually had supper at a restaurant (White Spot comes to mind but I know we ate at more places than that.)  Around the house for snacks -or meals- we always had mandarin oranges and those fantastic chocolate turtles. I remember most the mandarins and turtles, boxes of them, when I think of Christmas (and food!) at Dad’s.

That fledgling dwarf citrus I bought in February and forced into maturity because I just needed fruit this year did indeed produce six perfect mandarins. By the time they were ripe they were too heavy for the branches, resting on the ground as they grew. Two weeks before Christmas they were ready. Paul and the boys harvested the six oranges for which we have waited all year.

They were perfect. At first bite I flew back to my childhood. Those oranges tasted like Christmas. They were gone by Christmas day, but were such a sweet addition to our homemade Christmas. I am already anticipating next year’s harvest (hopefully more than six!)

Christmas Mandarins


Happy Homemade Holidays

December 27, 2008

It all started with a swap of some crocheted hats for some embroidered shirts from Little Towheads.  I definitely got the better end of that deal!

three hats

Towheads Shirts

I was so excited about the prospect of handmade and bartered gifts that it set the tone for my entire holiday.

When setting my reservation for our family photos I paid more than 50% upfront.  When the balance came due I made some gifts for an upcoming babyshower Ashley had to attend in exchange for the photos.  She purchased the dress, and I made the cardigan, hat and headband to match.

Ashley Set

The grandparents and great grandparents all received prints of our photos for Christmas, but we also made special gifts for the grandparents.  Using the children’s artwork I made fridge magnets.

Magnets

I also did a set for Paul.  I had Little Red paint directly on the stone.  I think the painted ones are my favourite — what a neat effect!

Painted Magnets

And using a trick I learned in my pedagogy classes we made our own gift boxes out of old cards.  For the smaller boxes the cards looked perfect.  For larger boxes I used the inside of the cards, and had the boys paint them.

painted boxes

We made it a white Christmas by making paper snowflakes for the windows,

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and crocheted snowflakes as gifts.

2008 Snowflake

We also made family ornaments, P is for Phamily, of course!  D is for Daddy, M is for Mummy.  R is for Little Red, O is for BOy Blue, and A is for DAytime Brother — Aiden of course!  An idea I borrowed from Dana.

Family Ornaments

We followed Advent with a candle instead of chocolates, a tradition I plan to keep for ever!

Advent Candle

Finally, la piece de resistance: I made the boys’ Superhero Capes.  Each is reversible with a superhero on one side (Batman and Superman) and I created symbols on the other side for when they want to be their Super Selves.  (Remember: R is for Little Red, and O is for BOy Blue.)

SuperheroesSuperselves

Making Christmas this year made my Christmas.  Next year I’m starting earlier, and am going to try to make more.  It really brought the spirit to me, and made this my most fun Christmas.


The Windows of Heaven

December 27, 2008

We thought for sure we’d have a job by Christmas, but as the holiday approached and we still didn’t have a job we felt the peace of knowing that we’d be okay.

The singles ward put themselves in charge of Secret Santa gifts; when asked, I replied that we didn’t need much, if anything, to please focus on other -more needy- families but that if there was a matchbox car at the bottom of the bag, the boys would find that fun.  As gifts from Grandparents rolled in I was about to call our RS pres and ask that our name be taken off the list for Secret Santa, when our secret santas showed up with three large boxes for the boys, and a card for us.  In the card was a very generous gift card for the grocery store, and in the boxes were Hot Wheels and an elaborate garage. 

My friend’s parents sent us a Christmas card via registered mail.  They sent it registered because they had been inspired to send us some money to help us through this holiday of unemployment.  We were so touched at the thought, and overwhelmed at the generosity.

Although my in-laws sent us some money instead of Christmas gifts a month and a half ago, they also sent a couple of things for us to open on Christmas day.  And then they sent an enveloppe with another check last week, with a letter explaining that Paul’s brothers had all requested less gifts for Christmas so that the extra money could be sent to help us.

Several of my friends starting coming up with ways I could “help” them get ready for Christmas and for which they would pay me.  Suddenly I was babysitting, crocheting, or giving lessons and for the first time since I was a waitress I have cash in my wallet.  In ordinary circumstances I would have been offended that they’d pay me for something I’d do so willingly for free for my friends, but this month I have just been so touched by having the opportunity to make a little cash.  I have been equally touched by the friends who have undervalued their goods and services to make our Christmas more attainable.

Others have chosen to slip cash into Christmas cards.  Someone else left a wonderful Christmas basket on our doorstep anonymously (which is a feat given that we have to buzz them in the front gate and yet by the time we got to our door there was a basket and no sign of the sweet Santa.  We think he must have snuck around the corner until the coast was clear, or been let in by a neighbour and then returned to the front gate to buzz us to get our attention.  However, it was very thoughtful.)  Fresh fruit!  Yes!  And meat (goodness– Foster Farms boneless, skinless chicken breasts?  and a beef roast?)  Good heavens, the bounty!

Still other friends have performed special acts of service by checking in on us, sending us job leads, and being there without hovering or pestering.  Some of them refuse to call on important days because they don’t want to be the cause of a “false” phone call, choosing instead to talk to us when we meet at the park, or sending emails.  All very sweet and thoughtful gestures.

To say nothing of the hundreds of prayers uttered daily on our behalf …

As every year since we moved to California has been lean, this was our most lavish Christmas yet.  We have been so richly blessed and are so grateful for all the acts of service and kindness that have made this holiday season bright.  It’s like the Christmas stories you read, when the poor family has a beautiful Christmas because of the kindness of others.  We just can’t wait to have a job so that we can do this for others.


Christmas in Las Vegas

December 24, 2008

It’s their first Christmas without parents, as they can’t go to Utah until the weekend because of their job schedules.  It’s also their first Christmas as parents.  Tomorrow is a pretty big deal for my brother-in-law and his little family, so they have invited us to spend Christmas with them.

We originally told them we’d likely have the same work schedule as Andrew, but that we’d let them know.  Now we’re trying not to be disappointed that we still (STILL!) don’t have a job, because we are really excited to spend Christmas with them.  With gas prices the lowest they’ve been since we moved to California, this should be our least painful trip to Vegas!

We’re keeping it very low-key, and it’ll be a fast trip: out this morning, home on Friday.  But I think it will be nice to spend the holiday with such fun people.

This is my third trip to Vegas.  I’m taking bets as to whether I’ll get to see the Bellagio Fountains this time.

Regardless of what happens in Vegas, this is already a great day — it’s 8 am and Boy Blue is still asleep!  I am dressed and fed, I have done the dishes and am almost done packing!  We’ll hit the road as soon as he is awake!

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Lost In Translation

December 22, 2008

Little Red: There are cracks on my hand!
Little Jack: There are craps on my hand!
Little Red: Oh no! There are crabs on my hand! Don’t let them bite me!


Moving On

December 22, 2008

For two weeks he interviewed and they made it sound like a done deal. For two weeks they deliberated, drew it out, and left us hanging.  Half an hour ago they finally sent Paul an email, informing him that they chose to go with the other candidate.  (I think it’s because they could get away with paying her less money.)  It’s good to finally know.  It’s time to move on.  Happy Christmas.