Friday, January 18, 2013

Belated Christmas Cheer, Part 1

Before we delve into Christmas cheer, I need to back up a few steps and address Christmas CHAOS. Because every mother knows that the month long project called "Christmas" that falls into your lap in addition to "the usual" can have a tendency to make you feel like your head is going to explode. For me, the week before Christmas was especially nutty. A few of the highlights (or low lights, as it were) that dominated my pre-Christmas landscape included . . .

You guessed it! Will wrapping up his ancient Egypt unit in THE BLASTED GIFTED PROGRAM. (This is my new label for this double edged sword/thorn in my side.) This led to many wonderful moments for which you will never see any pictures on this blog including me out on the front lawn in my pajamas 15 minutes before carpool arrived, spray painting a large cardboard box as my neighbors drove by and stared in wonder. Why? Because it was the day of the wax museum, of course! And while Will had his costume and script ready for his portrayal of Pharaoh Somebody or Other, he failed to remember until the last minute that he needed a stand of some kind to go around his legs and put the "push" button which would activate his memorized speech. (Sigh. Eyes rolling.)

But I have to admit, they do some pretty cool things in this program. Like mummify real chickens for weeks and weeks in class (of the grocery store variety). They rub them down in garlic and who knows what else, and change (or add?) tons of salt over and over again. And because Will did most of the work on the sarcophagus, he got to bring it home! Yes, I just remembered this very moment that I still have a mummified chicken somewhere in my house, lo these many weeks later. Here it is:

Not that you're going to read this, but these are the requirements for JUST his social studies projects which come due every five weeks. Then there's the math, and the science (with the required science fair project around the corner), and the monthly book report. Brandon works with Will when there is a late night, last minute wrap up session required (like last night), so I really can't complain. I go involuntarily unconscious around 9:30 or 10pm, usually to be found in bed with one of the girls after falling asleep mid-story a half hour or more earlier. Is it just me, or is this a lot to do for one subject in a five week period when you're in 6th grade and have other things going on in your life . . . LIKE BEING A KID:
(I know, I signed up for this. No one is putting a gun to anyone's head. And Will is actually pretty happy. I'm just lazy. And clearly ungifted.)

Kate and Will spent more time than usual on their instruments that week as they prepared to play prelude at church two Sundays before Christmas. I'm biased, but I think they sounded great:
Doesn't Will look thrilled?
With all the free flowing sugar coming from every corner of our lives, no one was interested in my mandatory daily vegetable consumption. This is what I found in a freshly changed garbage can sometime during that week:
Which is probably just one reason both Elizabeth and Rachael ended up with a nasty case of croup. (How many people connect the dots between holiday sickness and all the garbage they're eating/good stuff they are not? I think it's more common than not.) Croup is the one thing all four of my kids had as babies/toddlers for some reason, but when the girls got it as 5 and 8 year olds I was very surprised. For whatever reason, the pediatrician said it was going around in older kids this year, so I guess we were just lucky enough to be a part of the epidemic. This is what my kitchen counter looked like all week:
(The rotting bananas are totally unrelated to the croup. I think.) 

I also found out I was hypothyroid. Yippee! That deserves an entire post on its own, but needless to say I would highly recommend all women in my age range (40's, or even mid to late 30's) get a complete hormone panel test done. You might be surprised by what you find out. Tripling my vitamin D intake in the last month has had such a huge impact on my low-grade but persistently annoying anxiety/sadness. Ya, this topic needs a whole post of its own:
Ah, yes. The hit and run car accident! So fun. (WHO DOES THAT?) Luckily, I was perfectly fine, but it was a crazy, scary moment as I was driving through a busy intersection and this lunatic running a red light slammed into me and then promptly took off. Lovely. So we had a rental car all break, clear up until yesterday:
Every spare moment I had was spent on frantically trying to make sure there would be something under the tree for everyone on Christmas morning. No one but the parent in charge of Christmas shopping knows how hard it is to 1) get meaningful gifts that will make every one's wildest Christmas dreams come true while 2) making it all fair and even so no one gets bent out of shape feeling like they got shafted compared to someone else and 3) doing it while staying within a reasonable budget. No pressure. But does make it easier:
(Once again, I successfully avoided the mall for the entire Christmas season. Love that.)

Then there was the day I spent about 5 or 6 hours on the phone with the totally incompetent airline personnel in India trying to get my parents from Denver to Salt Lake before Christmas. Was that ever annoying. 

Last but not least, I spent way too many moments during that week of pre-Christmas chaos cleaning up the poo and pee of the youngest member of our family. Did you know that Maltese are notoriously difficult to potty train? I didn't, but I do now:
But I have to say she's been totally worth every bit of hassle. The kids (okay, all of us) are absolutely IN LOVE with Yuki:

That makes for a nice transition into the cheery part of Christmas . . . 

Will and Elizabeth playing a made up game of Who Ate The Gingerbread House:
Look at what someone brought me! Isn't this just the cutest thing ever? Made from Cheerios:
My favorite decoration. A Christmas angel my mother-in-law made me from an unused piece of my wedding dress:
Elizabeth got invited to a gingerbread house making party. So fun:

Until I caught Rachael trying to hide inside Will's laundry basket with a chunk of it:
The Sunday before Christmas we all ended up in red and black so we took a few pictures before we left. I know it's cheesy, but I don't care:

Will was asked to be Joseph in the little re-enactment they did in the children's class that day. He wasn't thrilled about it and probably didn't know I took this picture, but I thought he looked dang cute:
My kids always like to sleep under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve Eve:

Christmas Eve day the snow began to fall:

My mom and dad DID arrive before Christmas. They actually got in on Saturday morning, the morning I had tickets for us to go see a production of A Christmas Carol, so I took them straight from the airport to the show. (Yes, I gave them the option of going home and taking a nap, but no, they wanted to go see the show.) By Monday (Christmas Eve day), they were fully recovered from their air travel fiasco and my mom was ready to help in the kitchen. 

We have several Christmas Eve and Day food traditions (maybe too many), so Christmas Eve day started with me lining up outside the local Kneaders at 7am with all the other losers who didn't order pies/rolls in advance to see what we could get from their Christmas Eve day stash. I scored actually, and picked up all the pies I wanted and some rolls to boot. I didn't have the time or oven space to do everything I needed to, so Kneaders came to the rescue for dessert. Here are Elizabeth Jacquelynn and Jacquelynn making  . . . something . . . on Christmas Eve morning: 

I put the turkey in a brine in the garage:
Rachael ate a pomegrante:
And spent three days in a row in these pajamas:
The snow really picked up in the afternoon, but most of the last of our Christmas presents arrived by dark. Nothing like cutting it down to the last minute:
It's nice to live in a place with winter during the Christmas season because I need the extra fridge space:

(After a couple more days of snow we had to really dig deep to find this stuff.)

You know your dad is in town when all your drafts are plugged up with toilet and newspaper:
Brandon eventually emerged from the room where he was wrapping presents to make the customary oyster stew. (This is a Reynolds tradition that goes back several generations.) Unfortunately, we waited too long to get the prized jarred oysters for the must-have Christmas Eve dinner, so what did Brandon do? He bought live oysters in the shell, of course:
(My mom looks like she's having fun, doesn't she?)
Rachael helping me make the cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning:

That afternoon Ashley came over with her adorable little boy, Talmage, and spent several hours with us. Sadly, she had to leave right before dinner, but we had another fun visit after dinner from Brandon's nurse and husband who brought us real figgy pudding (a fun name for fruit cake), complete with money baked inside. I love hosting family and friends at Christmas time and getting surprise visits. Especially when those friends have such cute babies:
With a sky like this, I just knew it was going to be a magical Christmas:
And it was! Hopefully it won't take me another week to get back to the computer to post the pictures from Christmas morning!


  1. a vitamin D deficiency illness. In the 1930's, milk was supplemented with vitamin D and this helped to drastically reduce the cases of rickets. vitamin D benefits

  2. where should i go to get a hormone panel test? I live in American Fork.

    1. Any physician (just your regular family doctor) can order blood work. I had mine check everything from hormone levels, to cholesterol levels--you name it! My insurance covered it, however, and they told me if it didn't it would have been quite expensive, so check with your insurance first. Also, how your blood work is interpreted and the treatment recommended could vary widely from doctor to doctor depending on your issue, so you probably want to know your physicians wellness philosophy. Good luck!


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