Sunday, December 30, 2007

numerically, it just doesn't work out


The past few weeks this message has come up repeatedly when I open my email. I just have a hard time believing that I am the 10,000th visitor, every single time. Don't get me wrong, I'd really like to be winner #1 of the year 2007. Especially if it came with a lot of money. I have a feeling what I'd really be claiming is a lot of spam. And not even the kind you can eat.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Um, yes? I could use a holiday, thanks!

If you were a waiter at a nice restaurant, or even better, some personal assistant at a really nice spa attending to my every need (I'm sure they have a name like "waiter" - I am just not priviledged (a.k.a. wealthy) enought to know the term) that's probably what I would say if they asked me what I needed. A holiday. Although, if I was at either of those places I would probably be enjoying a holiday of sorts and so the question, and therefore the response, would be moot. (Isn't that a great word? Moot, moot, moot, moot, moot).

On Christmas Eve we gathered at my parent's house about 4:30 in the afternoon. A winter storm was rolling in, presenting us with snow for Christmas for the first time in a long time. We mixed and mingled and only started dinner a little bit late, which was actually on time by other year's standards. My sister and I (the only ones with kids so far) requested an early start time so that we could have enough time to mix and mingle (with a jingling beat) before needing to leave at S.M.T., which, if you're a parent you will recognize as "Standard Meltdown Time" which of course is the hour all children in your care immediately tire of the celebration and burst into tears and you must ungracefully haul them out to the car while hurridly downing your last few gulps of eggnog. Or Sprite, in my case, since I don't like eggnog.

Anyway! It was a nice evening and we had a good time, and left before SMT, and the kids, after sort of acting out the Nativity with only a few tears involved because of lack of professionalism on certain siblings' part, got to bed at a decent time. And Santa came, and his gifts were good. And really, it was a nice morning, etc. etc. And everyone played all day without worrying about anything else. Which brings me to the holiday thing.

I know that technically all that I just detailed was my holiday, but I spent a good chunk of time and energy cleaning the house on the morning of the 24th because I really like a clean house for Christmas, and I've been slowly trying to undo the clutter left in Santa's wake for the last two days, because I like a clean house after Christmas, too, but it's really beyond me. Not that the house is awful at all. But just that I need a holiday to recoup from the holiday. You know, get some energy back. I know this isn't an original sentiment. But it's a true sentiment, anyway. So, maybe for New Year's I can get a holiday? No? Well alright, I really didn't think so. Maybe just some resolutions then. Okay. I guess that will have to do!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Silent Night

And she brought forth
her firstborn son,
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
and laid him in a manger;
because there was no room
for them in the inn.
-Luke 2:7

about this painting

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dear Santa

It's time once again for the annual 'Open letter to Santa Claus.' Read about where the idea comes from and last year's letter here.

Dear St. Nick,

Wow, where does a year go? This one has flown by and I need to sit down and catch my breath. Do you feel the same way when December rolls around? I imagine that you are a Master Organizer and so important dates don't creep up on you, or maybe they do, but you have Mrs. Claus who is your Master Organizer and so she gets you off to the races in time for all of the celebrations going on at this time of year (thanks, Mrs. Claus!)

Of course this year you'll find us in Utah, and not New York. The girls have asked for all kinds of things this year, but Ben and I feel that bikes might be a nice addition to the family since we have a garage to store them in and a little more space where the kids can ride them. Of course the baby doesn't need one, she'll be happy just to be a part of things and will probably just want to eat the wrapping paper. My sweet boy is also enchanted by things that go, so a little trike or something would be nice. They'll understand that you can't bring that puppy they've been mentioning.

Oh. Also a No Whining Potion would be a big hit. My kids might not think they need it, and often they don't, but it would be nice, none the less.

As for me, well, I don't want to sound greedy or ungrateful for my current situation -- I will happily rent until I die if that's how things go -- but I'd like a house. However, I don't think you carry those around in your pack.

Here's something that takes up no room at all: I'd like the gift of making a little go a long way, and that will help with getting a house on our own. Also I'd like a cheerful and contented heart, and a dash of patience, which my children will appreciate. Maybe a bottle of bubble bath, and if you're feeling extravagant on my behalf, some Angel perfume. Apparently there is chocolate in it, and the scent is heavenly. But I don't need it, especially if the bubble bath is scented.

Last but not least, send Ben some down time, and a little relaxation and children who sleep through the night.

That's it for this year, Santa! Thanks for everything you do! Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas! Love, Allysha

Monday, December 17, 2007

the monday morning restoration project

Yikes. The Weekend Whirlwind of Disaster visited my house this, um, weekend actually, and left in it's wake books and toys and markers and small pieces of paper all over the floor, in almost all rooms. In my world, Christmas Cheer has a hard time operating in this kind of environment. That means either I'm a grinch (likely) or that the mess is pretty bad (also likely).

The kitchen counter is overflowing with a myriad of clutter, most of which, does not belong on a kitchen counter. Amid the cluttered mess I found, to my dismay, a cup, once filled part-way with chocolate milk. Said milk was also found, no longer in the cup, but on the counter spread thin and becoming somewhat sticky and glue like, attaching papers everywhere to the faux-marble finish. Lovely.

That said, I am actually writing this and posting this, in other words, I am actually blogging from home this morning on my very own 24 carat, genuine internet connection. Hel-lo World! Can I check the weather for you? Maybe do some online banking? Or perhaps I can just throw in this free set of knives with your online purchase of a new DVD player since your old one broke over the weekend? Just let me know.

Happy Monday, everybody.

Friday, December 14, 2007

all I want for Christmas- the cents of Christmas

Christmas always presents me with a few conundrums, generally arising from opposing desires and certain moral dictates by which I try to live my life. Really what I am saying is, the dilemma is regarding how much to spend and what to buy for my children for Christmas.

I’d love to go crazy over-the-moon and get fabulous presents. Wow everyone. Wow myself! My credit card company would be delighted and would probably oblige. And if they didn’t I have no doubt I could find one that would. My husband and credit score - maybe not so much on the delight part.

Then again, I’d like my family to focus on the meaning of Christmas, and not get hung up on what Santa is trying to squeeze down our non-existent chimney. Also, Ben’s feelings aside, I really don’t want to be paying for Christmas in July. It’s against my money ethic. I am always annoyed at my credit union when I get their annual “spend away on a new line of credit and happy holidays!” letter.

I find that even on years that are more skimpy, Christmas morning has a way of ending with a gluttonous feel. Despite my worry of not having enough and getting a few fillers at the last minute, my children have lost interest in half of their presents as soon as they’re opened and I know the truth: they don’t need that much to have a good Christmas.

What do you do to balance the wow-factor and the practical and spiritual side of spending for Christmas gifts? How do you handle your kids wish lists? What do you do so that you don’t have to loosen your financial belt to handle an ever-expanding debt-line? How do you teach your kids that the giving, not the receiving is the more important part?

These are not rhetorical questions stewing in my brain. I want to know.

Monday, December 10, 2007


"Mom, can we see Nutcracker II?" my daughter asked me today.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

chestnuts roasting on an open fire - the scents of Christmas

In France in the wintertime they actually do sell roasted chestnuts on the streets. And to be perfectly honest, the smell didn't make me crazy for the holidays or anything, but it was fun to see chestnuts roasting, if for no other reason than it reminded me that Jack Frost was nipping at my nose, or would be in the near future.  There are other smells I prefer for the holidays.

Potpourri was invented for Christmas.  Alright, I don't actually know that for a fact, but if it wasn't it should have been, because it makes perfectly good sense that potpourri and Christmas go hand in hand. The lovely blend of smells that are synonymous with the holidays can go a long way to helping you forget about all of the presents you still have left to buy, and wrap, and send out.  Okay, well maybe that's not a good thing, but it can at least bring a few relaxing moments into your day.

I like to toss a few whole cloves, whole allspice berries, some cinnamon sticks and some orange slices (peel and all) into some boiling water and let it simmer on the stove.  I keep and eye on the water level so that I don't have to deal with burnt cinnamon smell which, let's face it, isn't as pleasant.

If you want to be practical about the whole spicy thing then you can do as I also often do during the holidays: make wassail in bulk.  Yum, wassail.  I find as I get older, it had become my preferred drink on chilly mornings or afternoons or evenings, even more than gourmet cocoa.  (A really good cocoa can catch my attention, don't get me wrong- but it can get to be too much for me).  Wassail has become a tradition for my family in the last few years, and the other night when getting ready to mix up a batch I called to ask where the recipe was.  My mom directed me to the correct cookbook and my sister, heading up stairs, called out "page ten!"

So I present the following recipe for your consumption.  I always double this and put it in the refrigerator for a few days and just heat up a cup in the microwave whenever I feel like it.

Combine 2 cups water and 1/2 cup sugar in large pot.  Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, so that the sugar combines with the water and doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Let boil 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add 5 whole cloves, 4 whole allspice berries, 1 cinnamon stick , 1/2 piece of crystallized ginger (a good reason to double this, if you need one, just drop in one whole piece - all done) and a partridge in a pear tree.  Just kidding on that last one.
Cover.  Let sit for one hour. Strain mixture (a.k.a. remove all spices, with a slotted spoon if you like).  Add 4 cups apple juice, 2 cups orange juice and 2 cups lemonade (some recipes call for lemon juice - I prefer lemonade).  Reheat.  Serve immediately in cozy holiday mugs to people standing outside your door wearing turtlenecks, scarves, earmuffs, and singing carols to you, preferably in tune.

I know there are other recipes.  I ran across one that called for cranberry juice and it looked delicious, but the whole spice combining was too complicated for my simple soul, so I probably won't try it, but if you have a good wassail recipe, share and share alike!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I wonder as I wander, or maybe I wander as I wonder...

Here I sit on the couch in front of the Christmas tree.  I have Ben's computer on my lap, because it has an airport card and so thanks to someone in my neighborhood who hasn't encrypted their wireless whatever I can blog something. I hope to have a real, live, actual to goodness internet connection of my own in the next week and a half.  That is, if my landlord decides that it's okay to wire this place for the internet.  One would think in this day and age it would be a no brainer.  And I'm hoping it is a no brainer.  But this is one of the many reasons I detest renting.
My best renting experience was in NY, where a lot of people rent, so it's not that out of the ordinary.  We had a wonderful and funny old italian grandmother we rented from.  She grew tomatoes in the backyard and shared them with us.  She gave us the special key to the basement so we could access the fuse box, a privilege that wasn't given to the renter downstairs.  She loved, loved, loved Ben. And when we moved in, we got the house wired for internet and didn't even worry about asking her. 
Anyway, really where this post was going was here: so I have Ben's computer on my lap and my computer to the side of me so I can copy a post I've written up. Ben would tell me I should just copy it over on his thumb drive, but I don't know where that is, and I don't want to copy it to CD because I resist technology or something.
And that whole above paragraph just proves one thing...this post wasn't really going anywhere, and yet here it is.  For something more worthwhile, I direct you to Mental Tesserae where Julie has her fabulous Christmas Art Advent Blog going. It's really great.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

why I should be a real blogger and carry a camera

otherwise entitled: I'll be home for Christmas...

I walk into my house today, past the newly decorated mantle and windows, the glowing fireplace, the lovely music playing and into the kitchen where I am startled. By 'my house' I mean the one I grew up in, so actually my parent's house, but still very much my house. And, as every person who still carries around with them some vestiges of their own childhood, I like to come home at Christmas time.

My mom has a few evergreen trees a couple of feet high that she puts up in small groupings around the house every year. Not real ones, mind you, the fake ones, but nice fake ones. I guess she's not quite done decorating because in the kitchen in a corner by the table are what looks like a rather stiff family, standing vertically, in black body bags. Now, I'm supposing that they really are those fake trees, and I'd love to show you what they look like because I think you would agree with me- it's a little creepy. They look a tad too convincing for me to go over and actually find out if they are real or not...and this leads me to one conclusion.

I really need to start visually documenting the small amusements of my life.

the activity

It sounds like some sort of holiday suspense movie, or something. But actually "the activity" is the charming name my girls have given our nativity. "When are we going to get out the activity?"

And when you think about it, I think there was probably a fair amount of activity going on in the nativity that first Noel; animals, straw, a mother in labor for the first time, a father standing by, one or two blessed midwives. And that's before the shepherds started showing up.  (Technically the wise men appeared a while after the birth, but we need them in the picture since they brought the gifts.) 
There is a lot of activity going on as we get ready to celebrate those events.  I need to remember take a little bit of time in between the activity to really think about those who were a part of that nativity, and why it's so important to me.  

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I love this time of year, LOVE IT, I tell you. I’d like to say that everyone I know feels this way, so it should come as no surprise that I feel this way, but actually a friend of mine from college swore he did not like Christmastime; that the season conspired against him to bring all sorts of bad luck and ironic twists into his otherwise simple and calm life. He gleefully railed against the consumerism and I don’t know how strongly he felt about the Christmas story. He laughed (in an ironic tone) about the two being so strongly bound together (ironically bound, yes?). And although I suspect it was just a case of age induced counter-culturalism, he did indeed claim to not like the holidays.

These days, however, he has a little girl, and I would be surprised if his feelings about Christmas haven’t changed a little bit with her around. Besides, by the time one is over thirty, the whole counter-culture thing can seem a little, well, youthful and naive. There are bigger fish to fry than simply an entire culture one has erroneously perceived.

We are decorating our Christmas Tree today. We will listen and sing along to carols being sung, if not by a choir, then by Harry Connick, Jr. and Amy Grant. And maybe even Elvis. We will get drunk on Sprite and get sick eating red and green peanut M&Ms. Then we will vacuum up the fallen pine needles, set the finishing touches and send the children off to bed. And while wanting to spend a quiet evening in front of the tree, Ben and I will also collapse into a deep but restless sleep ourselves, waiting for one of the children to wake us up in the middle of the night, at least once. Ah yes. The Season is here. Deck the Halls, everyone! Tra, la, la, la, la!