Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December: It's the most wonderful-crazy-ass time of the year...

Since we are about to start December, I thought this would be a fun time to make some lists. Holiday-type lists. What I want to do this month, things I need to do this month, present ideas for me...have I mentioned I love presents?
We gave up the traditional advent calendar a long time ago. For several years we did a paper chain - during Thanksgiving weekend we would come up with a list of 24 fun things we wanted to do during the holiday season, write one activity on each strip of paper, and make a paper chain out of it. Each day, one kid would get to take the link off the chain, read it, and we did that activity on that day. Some of our activities included: driving around and looking at lights, reading a holiday story together, make a holiday craft together. I tried to be mindful of the calendar as I made the chain, taking into account days off school, holidays such as Chanukah and St. Nicholas, family activities, etc. This was a big hit, but as the kids have gotten older, and our calendar has filled more quickly, we were forgetting to do our activities more often. So here is a small list of fun December-y activities I'm hoping we get to this month:
1. Look at lights. This is something we do every year, and often more than once. The most fun excursions are the impromptu ones - maybe we've gone out to dinner and we drive around on our way home. Or I make hot cocoa for everyone and we just go.
2. I did find a few holiday crafts I'd like to make, including the jar lanterns in this month's Family Fun. I'll take pictures of any I make.
3. Go to the Solstice dinner at the UU church downtown. I was very excited to see they had one. After the dinner, we'll come home, exchange our gifts (everyone is doing handmade this year) and probably have a fire outside, depending on the weather.
4. Bake cookies. I didn't do it last year. This one may not happen, as my weekends are getting very full.
5. Take lots of pictures of the everyday stuff this month. Ali Edwards always does a December scrapbook, and I've always loved the idea - it's generally a chipboard book, with one photo per page for each day of the month. A lot of the pages are holiday oriented, but not all of them. I like the idea of paying attention to each day during such a crazy busy month.
Things I still need to do! Soon!
1. Put up the tree. I'm not worried about this one - I refuse to put up my tree before Dec. 1.
2. Figure out who's getting what and doing the getting. Yikes, I hate waiting this long.
3. Figure out where we're going during the break. I know what we're doing the first few days, but I'm waiting on some family members' feedback regarding the rest.
4. Make a doctor's appt. I need to get my cholesterol checked. Not really holiday-related, but it needs to be done.
5. Finalize anything that has to be made. I stipulated that Yule gifts be handmade this year, but I still haven't figured out my gifts. Luckily I only do 2 - one for each kid. Makes it easier.
I'm going to think on my fun list - presents for ME! Whee! and post it tomorrow, as my hot chocolate is getting cold, and we just can't have that. After 3 years of never taking a sick day from school, my son was sent home with a nasty fever and feeling dizzy, so tomorrow will be a down day. I got my cards in today, so I think I'll work on those tomorrow. Have a good night, and stay warm.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

How on earth did I let a Thanksgiving (on a Thursday, no less) get by without a Thank*ful Thursday post? It may have been the extraordinary amount of wine I drank. Which was really good, by the way - definitely on the list. Anyway, I am also disgusted with myself for not taking any pictures - see above-mentioned excuse. And I call myself a scrapbooker.
Anyway, without further ado, this week I am thankful for:
1. Thirsty Owl winery in New York. I'm not much of a wine drinker; my wine of choice tends to be Reisling, because it's relatively sweet. A friend introduced me to their moderately priced, and way delicious reisling and, even better, their Diamond, which is a little sweeter. I don't care if you wine snobs think I'm a wuss - it's good, and much of my Thankgiving evening passed by in a delicious, very affectionate buzz.
2. My dishwasher. Without which I would still probably be scouring things.
3. The fact that I'm off today, and that my family has allowed me to spend the day either napping or reading. The happy drunken buzz has translated itself to a woman of no energy today.
4. Carbs. Wonderful, delicious carbs. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, pie. An Adkins follower, I am not.
5. All the friends and family I am blessed to know and love.
Thank you to all of you for reading. And I wish you and your's a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shh. We're going to talk about...religion.

I should preface this post by mentioning it is spiritual in nature, and while it is not judgmental, if you are uncomfortable with such personal topics, you should probably go ahead and leave now.
Religion is a taboo subject in polite company.
Bringing religion or spirituality into a conversation is akin to farting on a first date - you just don't do it. One should never discuss religion or politics if one wants to keep the peace.
The thing is, I like to talk about spirituality. I find most religions empirically interesting - even if have no interest in actually following your beliefs, I'll sit and listen to you talk about them. We had Mormon elders (young Mormon men leave home for two years when they are 19-20 years old and perform a "mission" - living together and performing acts of charity wherever they are sent. Not old men - which is what I thought they were when they were first mentioned.) volunteering twice a week at the office where I worked. I asked them endless questions about their beliefs, which they were kind enough to answer without trying to convert me. I enjoyed these conversations immensely, and learned a lot about a significant part of our population.
Our spirituality is such an important part of ourselves, it saddens me that many people do not feel comfortable having a mature conversation about it. I personally do not subscribe to any one religion, but consider myself on a journey - an exploration of my own spiritual self. When my friend S. suggested to me in the spring that we start a spiritual discussion group, I jumped at the chance. An opportunity to have respectful and informative discussions about what people believe, or don't believe...this spoke to me on the deepest level. We began the group only two months ago with only two rules - be respectful and do not judge. We are there to learn and explore, not to pass judgement on others. We call it "a safe space for spiritual exploration."
We are a small group so far, and we have no name, so I've been calling it "my spiritual discussion group" which is a bit cumbersome for my taste, but it's the best descriptor I've got. One of the things I miss most about organized religion is the fellowship and spiritual guidance for my children, and I've been wanting to visit a Unitarian Universalist church, but have not wanted to go alone. Since we are so small yet, and the idea appealed to the rest of our members, we are visiting the church as a group tomorrow.
I feel that over the past few years I've neglected this so important part of myself. This discussion group is helping me to address my spiritual needs, as well as giving me a chance to talk about something I'm truly interested in with like-minded people.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thank*full Thursday: The "gosh it's cold" edition

It got mighty chilly today. We've enjoyed a few weeks of unseasonably warm weather lately, but today it dropped into the 30's and we saw flurries. I'm not a lover of cold weather, as regular readers of my winter whinings will attest, but the cold does make me want to nest, and I do love to nest. So, here are the lovelies to which I am grateful for keeping me warm:
1. My beige, mid-thigh length cardigan. I wear it. all. the. time. It has a few little holes, and spot of blue paint on the sleeve, but I do love it.
2. Fleece blankets, of which we have many. I went through a few years now where I've made fleece blankets as gifts. Many of these gifts are still in this house, and I wrap up in them often.
3. Bigelow's Dream Time tea. A lovely way to unwind at the end of a chilly day.
4. My slow cooker. Nothing compares to having a hot dinner ready at the end of the day. Today I made a new recipe from SparkPeople: a white chicken chili. The jury is still out on whether or not I like it - it is a little spicy for my taste, and it's missing something. I need to figure out what.
5. Crafty pursuits, Jane Eyre on my Kindle, my notebook, Christopher Paolini and the final installment in the Eragon series, which I bought tonight and will read as soon as I am done with Jane...and any other indoor activities which keep me stimulated and content when it's cold. My goal for this winter is to try and complete at least one project a week and post it here on my blog. I miss the sense of accomplishment I feel when I complete projects - it's been a while, what with working and looking for working and whatnot.
Sleep well and keep warm, friends.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thank*full Thursday

It's a bit early in the morning for this, but why not start the day off on the right foot. Besides, apparently it's National Blog Posting Month, so I should really be posting more.
Today I am thank*full for:
1. My daughter and her crazy ideas. She was the one who suggested I dress up like her dad for Halloween. The costume was a hit, even with him. He was amused.
2. 15 years with my guy. He got me a Kindle for our anniversary (which was yesterday) which is just proof that he actually listens to me occasionally.
3. Pixie twinlet nieces to cuddle and coo. I would be over there playing with them every minute if I could.
4. Coffee and good friends. I spent a very lovely morning chatting with some favorite friends over a mocha and muffin.
5. I'm sorry, it's early, I didn't get enough sleep, and I haven't had any coffee yet. My brain just quit working. I'll be thankful more later. With it being November, a month for Thanksgiving, people are posting gratitude status updates at Facebook, which is a nice way to end the day.
I'm going to go make coffee, before I forget my name.