Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve


It's Christmas Eve, and I feel like I'm over the worst of the stressfulness the holidays bring. The shopping is done, the menus are set, it's only a matter of execution and enjoyment at this point. We're having our big meal today for lunch, a tradition from my family, then for dinner we'll have pierogies, a tradition from DH's family. Tomorrow we've started our own Christmas brunch tradition, then it's leftovers for the rest of the day. Last year we had an outdoor fire in our fire pit and had hot chocolate and s'mores after dark on Christmas Day; I think we'll continue that this year as well if the weather is OK for it. We also exchange "family presents" today, then Santa comes tonight and those presents are opened tomorrow morning.

What are your holiday traditions? How does your family celebrate?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And As If Camping Weren't Enough...

After we got home from camping I had the rest of the day on Sunday to unpack, then on Monday I went on a marathon Christmas shopping spree, then Monday night and Tuesday I had to pack for DISNEY WORLD (and Universal Studios). Suffice to say we didn't leave until late Tuesday night; we got into our hotel around midnight. We were very impressed with our suite when we got to it. It was a spacious two bedroom with a full kitchen for a very reasonable off season price. Our only complaint was with the dampness, which I don't think is anything anyone could help. A/C units will pull dampness out of the air but it was COLLLLDDD the whole time we were there so we had the heat on. There was a lot of condensation on the windows; anything I left by the window in our bedroom would be wet when I picked it up. Blech.

But on to the fun stuff! We were there to meet with my aunt, uncle, cousins, cousin-in-laws, and the mini-cousins. Two of the minis are close in age to The Wild Child and Martha, Jr., and the mini-est cousin is a little guy at just the right age to.... pull the fire alarm at the restaurant we had brunch at on our last day. Oh, yes, he did! (He's two; they do stuff like that at that age.) His poor dad was mortified; the rest of us veteran parents told him not to sweat it. He'll be laughing about it in a few years! Mini-est was full of it, too. The Wild Child recognized a kindred spirit and had a lot of fun running around with him in spite of the age difference. We went to the Magic Kingdom with everyone on Friday and it was wonderful. I love connecting with my relatives and doing something fun like that together makes it even better. That's one of the advantages of living in Florida- everyone with kids eventually heads to Disney World, and when they do we can meet them there. We've had more family reunions there than you can shake a stick at, and we've loved them all.

We also took a day by ourselves on Thursday to head to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. It was interesting but so crowded, even though it was still technically the off season. That section of the park is so new that it's still packing in the crowds, and BOY, it was crowded. The rest of the park was a lot less densely packed with people so they were all there, like us, to see that one section. I must say they've done a nice job with it. The butter beer was yummy. (I didn't drink an entire glass by myself; I shared with DH.) It was like a root beer topped with a butterscotch flavored whipped cream. There were lines to get in the shops, too, but the kids HAD to have wands so we waited to get into Olivander's. When we actually got in we realized why there was such a wait- they had a little show in the first part of the shop with a guy dressed up as Olivander. It was only a few minutes long but we all got a big kick out of it. Once the show is over they herd you into the larger section of the shop, which is also packed, so you can pick out your wand. That's even a lot of fun since they have several different ones. You can get one like the characters used (The Eldest liked Hermione's) or you can get one based on a date of your choosing. Martha, Jr. chose one based on her birthday. The Wild Child lost his already, of course.

After spending time with my uncle and his family we drove over to see my in-laws for two more days. After all the running around and packing and theme parking and fun and activity it was relaxing to be at their house. We were only going to stay one night but once I got settled in I didn't feel up to rushing again, and we were enjoying their company, so we stayed the extra day. We had to head back home late yesterday though since our kitty is boarding at the vet's and he has to be picked up by today at the latest.

So now we're back home, and I have 3 days to get ready for Christmas. Yipes!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


The Middle Child, aka Martha Stewart, Jr., and I went camping with the Girl Scouts this weekend along with 4 other girls and one mom from her troop... and a whole bunch of other troops from our area. We went to one of my favorite places, a Girl Scout camp located upstate a ways. I'm told it's "luxury camping" since we were in cabins and we had showers with hot water, power, and refrigerators. We didn't have heaters, though, and in those non-insulated cabins it was pretty chilly in the middle of the night! We were lucky, though; the temp only dropped into the 50's while we were there. It's supposed to get down into the 30's tonight! Yowsers! I think I would've been bundling us up and driving HOME if it had gotten that cold. I can handle 50's, though. My sleeping bag is pretty cozy, plus I had a fleece liner and doubled up sheet to round it out, then I had on my flannel jammies, socks, and my leg warmers. (Left over from the 80's, but very handy.) I was positively toasty.... until I had to get up and go pee at 4:00 a.m. That was brutal.

Daylight started out cold but warmed up. We spent Saturday morning, through lunch and into early afternoon, participating in structured activities with the whole group. (There were around 100 of us there.) They gave us the rest of the time to do as we pleased, which was perfect. We went back to our cabins, relaxed for a little while, then got started with cooking dinner. For previous Camporees our meals were catered, but they decided not to go that route this time. It was a lot more work in terms of advance planning, but only because I haven't camp-cooked with my girls before. Once we got down to actually cooking, it was fun. We kept it simple for most of the girls with hot dogs on a stick. I don't eat hot dogs so I took leftover chili from home, but I was able to make some boil-in-bag rice over the fire to go with it. I also had a popcorn popper and the girls had fun making several batches. (The last batch burned, probably because we didn't clean the popper out properly before hand. The other batches were perfect.)

The cooking and clean up becomes an activity in and of itself when you're making food over an open fire. The girls got to help every step of the way, from lighting the fire starters to cleaning up using the 3 bucket system and their dunk bags. I think they learned a lot while we were there, in addition to all the fun. They made friends with the older girls in the two other troops at our campsite, too. All in all, it was a great weekend. Give me a week or two of recovery time and I'll be ready to go again!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm Still Here!!!

I can't believe I haven't written anything since November. Writer's block, I guess, plus I've been really, really busy. A Girl Scout camping trip, travel, laundry piled to the ceiling, plus our housekeeper/babysitter/family friend is out of commission for a while. She's having back problems and can't work right now. She's in my thoughts, though; she's a dear friend and I'm so worried for her. She doesn't have insurance so I don't know what she's going to do. I tried to call her today but I got voice mail. Since I don't have family in the area she's a vital part of my support network and it's been hard to lose her help. Thank goodness DH is off for the rest of the month; I might make it with his help.

I can't see having much time to blog the rest of the month, either, but there might be a post or two. Here's wishing you and yours happy holidays if I don't get another chance to write!