TWO HUNDRED FIFTY TWO…my Christmas tree lights are on steroids. Are yours?

So, this is our first year of having a fake tree.

Not ideal for us but with renovating a home while living in it and bringing in 2 puppies, honestly the last thing I wanted to add to my day was yelling at my children to “not touch the Christmas tree or the needles will fall off” all day long.

Let’s not forget how sometimes I get so busy I forget to water the tree. And then of course, when I realize I’ve forgotten send it into shock by filling up the tree stand with a gallon of fresh water. Then comes the inevitable stress of willing it to hang on just three more days and then I promise I will put us out of misery. And of course the constant sweeping up of needles every three hours.

So, fake tree, welcome to our humble cottage.

During the holidays I love to bring coffee into the living room early in the morning before anyone is up and just sit in the silence and awe its majestic luminary gift. This is also our first year of having all white lights. I’m normally an all color lights kind of gal, but had my heart set on white lights this year. Just to try it out.

So, every morning I’ve been coming out early with all the lights off, my little cup of cream coffee and my headphones so I can listen to my book by the glow of the Christmas tree.

Well, on morning #1 of having the tree, there was no such word as “glow”.

It was a full on steroid shine. Woke me right up even before I’d had a sip of coffee.

Hmmm. I was a little disappointed and immediately wanted some sort of dimmer on the switch. Just to take it down two maybe three notches. Make it so my eyes weren’t feeling completely assaulted. And there you have it. The tree shines bright like a diamond.

So I bought a string of pretty white lights and hid them behind our tv console. I turn those on in the morning and sip my coffee and reflect on our life in 2018 by its warm glow. That’s just too damn bright for 5 am. And can I mention waking up at 2 am to go to the bathroom…when I see their bright lights, my brain says, “it’s time to get up now” because when the steroid lights are on, it’s like a having a 100 watt bulb to light the room.

Finally when I make it back to bed, I toss and turn for an hour before falling back to sleep. But then again, not having them on seems so wrong. It is Christmas after all. This magical holiday only comes once a year. Ugh. Major dilemma folks! Major dilemma. The struggle is real. I’m probably going to turn them on anyway seeing as we’ve only got five more days of feeling perfectly normal for having them on. After that guilt sets in it’s a rush to get all the decorations put away and our house back in order.

I do see myself turning into one of those people who keeps the tree up all year round but just doesn’t turn on the lights. Although, our lighting in that particular room is pretty bad. Sometimes the ceiling fan works therefore sometimes the light works…but only if my husband turns it on. The fan/light combo doesn’t prefer my touch. It has to be the special touch of a 6’3″man.

Speaking of getting our house back in order, we do not have a fireplace in our home therefor nowhere to hang our stockings. So I pinterested it and came up with a solution…so far it seems to serve it’s purpose quite well. Although I am willing to concede it is too high on the wall.

With five more days left before I will be taking it down, I refuse to redrill two new holes. We already have a sign that fits in that exact spot. So we are just going to have to wait until next year to reposition it on our wall.

Rest assured, if I need luminary help trying to see the drill bit going into the wall, I know where to look. We don’t need to buy one of those utilitarian workman flashlights. We will have the solution stuffed in a box in our basement. As Charlie Sheen would say, “WINNING!”

And so, to wrap up what I am assuming will be my last post for 2018, our Christmas tree while it won’t be leaving any needles behind or dying of shock, it’s lights are steroid bright. If we were to enter into a “My Lights are Brighter than Yours” Christmas tree competition, we would surely win.

TWO HUNDRED FIFTY…the puppy post

Has it really been September since I wrote my last blog post? Damn. I’m such a slacker. In my defense, we’ve had a lot going on. Many changes have occurred in the last 3 months.

The biggest change by far is the addition of two new furry members to our family.

Bones and Penny.

Our little 11 and 12 week old Boston Terriers. I’ve missed the companionship a dog brings to my life. I’m thrilled to report, over the past two weeks, I’ve gotten it back two-fold. I’m so in love.

Now I feel as if our family is complete.

So now, in addition to see how horribly we will screw up our beautiful girls, we will have to add our little furry family members to the mix. What can we do to screw up our furry side? I’m sure I’ll find ways in the next 15/20 years.

I’ve grown up with golden retrievers my whole life. In addition to golden’s my family also had mutts. Dogs are just a normal part of my life. I feel out of sorts when there’s not a canine around to cheer everyone up with their free unconditional love, goofy antics, sloppy kisses, and empathetic nature.

But then again, with three kids…homeschooling and working with one kid who is still having issues with the potty, I was a little stressed out about bringing home a new puppy.

So, in an effort to prepare, I read all the books again, researched the best breed for our family dynamic, drew up a monthly spending account for food, toys, vet visits…you name it, I researched it.

Greg and I had talked about it quite a bit and we decided that since the girls including Cecilia were going to be an integral part of the dogs upbringing, we wanted a breed that wouldn’t dominate them with their size…and we were all interested in a smaller breed. We are a mobile family and I thought it would be nice if we were able to take the dogs with us around town and wherever else we choose to venture.

And with that, our requirements began falling into place; we were looking for something smaller with moderate energy level, smart, gentle, playful, cuddly, great with kids… one who would enjoy long walks and be able to learn tricks, but definitely an indoor lap breed.  Boston Terriers it was. Then It hit me…we needed two puppies. Not one.

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So with that information, I set out to do a bit of research on having a puppy again. It has been quite a while since we had Bear as a puppy. I wanted to make sure I got the full scope on the hellacious journey we were about to embark. Has the research on puppy training really changed that drastically in the last 15 years that I NEEDED a refresher course? The simple answer is, no…not really.

Almost everything is the same as it was back when we first brought Bear home. BUT, it certainly helped me to feel more confident. There were some things I had forgotten. Really, it just made me feel more prepared.

The one thing that did change since Bear, was the new addition of “puppy pads”. Apparently taking the puppy to potty outside before their 4th round of shots is now frowned upon.

So you just have to be ready for the urine and poop smell to infiltrate your home. It’s now ok for puppies to pee in the home…on a pad…that’s not great at holding liquid…and that our puppies see as some sort of treat they can tear up. So, really, puppy pads are just another great way to arbitrarily spend money AND add more work.

And since we’re on the subject of adding my work to our my schedule, I’m envisioning the added work I will absorb when the puppies finally do get their 4th round of shots and we can start “re-training” them to go potty outside. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

In the meantime we have 4 more weeks to solidify their current “operation: go potty in the house” routine.

Hmmm.

For all the prep work and anxiety bringing home a new puppy caused, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. Possibly because we got two. They were already sleeping in a crate so it wasn’t a major transition for them the day we brought them home.

I bought one of those metal pens that piece together making room for them to run and play during their first year. I’m trying to curtail destructive behavior as much as I can without causing any major aggression issues. With that destructive puppy behavior, I certainly don’t want them to have full access to our home. Especially those times we won’t be home.

But the particular piece-together pen was outgrown in one week. So on to the next purchase. The new one seems more sturdy and definitely gives them more room to play. Is it too much for me to hope it lasts for forever?

It’s official. I’m in love. And they’re not as calm as they seem in these pictures. I personally think Bones may have been exposed to speed in the womb and is consequently suffering long-term withdrawal effects. He has these short bursts of through-the-roof energy. And then he just passes out.

Penny is the sweet cuddle bug of the two. She just wants to be held, kissed, and given little biscuit treats all day. Twist my arm. She’s definitely my kind of dog.

Having Bones and Penny in time for the holidays makes everything a little sweeter this year. We are all in love with these two pups!! Welcome to our humble abode Bones and Penny!!!

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN…foxwrapper

With the mere 2 days we have left until Christmas morning I am working undercover and using my very own specialized covert ops to discretely wrap presents and…stuff…well… stuff those things that need to be stuffed in the holidays. That’s what she said.

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I have to use coded language even now, because Abby sometimes reads my blog. As a parent I still strive to maintain some sense of privacy for myself as well as an overall sense of naivety and wonder for our kids. It’s hard to believe I am talking about maintaining a “sense of privacy and wonder” when I haven’t been to the restroom alone in the past 10 years. I haven’t gotten dressed alone or even participated in weekly ritualistic grooming habits in that time either.

My phone, try as I might with a secretive 6 digit code and my 1 minute automatic lock screen, still gives some of my secrets away. My texts appear in lock mode…and like clockwork, Abby runs to tell me Elena is trying to get a hold of me and she wants to know if, “In all the clothes I gave Lydia, did I also want her to have the light grey thong she found in the bag as well?” “I can text her back mom, just tell me your password and what to say.” Sweet Abby,  always eager to help out.

I was already formulating a response in my head and was tempted to ask her to respond with, “Oh is Lydia not into adult thongs yet? If not, I can take them back and give them to CC. LOL…just joking…how embarrassing” and “good thing we’re such good friends!” But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to explaining my sarcasm as it might impede our efforts of maintaining her naiveté.

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And yes, before you remind me, I know I can remove my texts from lock screen, but then I would be completely cut off from the outside world. I am one of those individuals who pay attention to or look at certain things when they are right in front of my face. I can’t help to hold fast to the belief there are still some important secrets I can keep hidden.

For example; Cecilia and I did laundry at the campsite yesterday. There’s hardly anyone ever in the cold damp room, which due to the unfavorable conditions of the room, oddly enough emits the fresh odor of dryer sheets. In the corner sits a large metal table designed for folding clothes, but secretly perfect for wrapping presents in isolation. I was constantly looking over my shoulder in the anticipation of Abby and Phoebe strolling into the room, but I was relying on the fact the rain, frigid temperatures, as well as my husband’s knowledge of my covert ops would be a sufficient deterrent and help me make the most of my 2 whole hours of freedom.

Cecilia and I threw the clothes in the wash and used the 30 minute timeframe to organize those unmentionable things which need to be “stuffed”, little outfits put into perfect little gift bags, and new little purses from mommy and daddy stuffed with sunglasses, mints, Lip Smacker flavored gloss, tissues, hand sanitizer, and anything else I can find to shove in there…all the while my heart was beating confidently in my chest with the hopes of the girls loving their gifts!

Once the clothes were ready for the dryer, I did the inadvisable and stuffed them all into one giant dryer, put in my quarters, and set my phone alarm for 1 hour and 30 minutes. I knew we could get a lot accomplished…Cecilia and I drove 15 miles into town to pick up some wrapping paper, bows, extra tape, and an extra pair of scissors because I forgot mine at home. For the 15 minute ride back to the campsite I was subtracting the half hour from my overall time…with one hour left on the clock, my secret operation…we can call it ‘giftwrapstone’ like ‘Treadstone’ in the Jason Borne films. Honestly, that’s too long. I can hear Greg’s voice in my head telling me, “You have to get the syllable count just right.” I am going to rename it ‘Foxwrapper’, cause I was being sly like a fox. BOOM! Operation Foxwrapper 2016 was sure to be an open and shut case.

The objectives were simple;

Objective number 1; organize gifts: put them in the corresponding bags or boxes, insert tissue paper, and for God’s sake label them! We’ve had issues with labeling gifts in the past…it actually led to surrendering a gift meant for one child to a younger sibling…which in turn led to a bout of jealousy…and then of course as you might suspect, led to fighting…and from there, led to a feeling of parental failure…Finally leading to the only choice of spending more money in order to purchase the exact same gift for the intended recipient. So ‘labeling’ is maybe the highest priority.

Objective number 2; wrapping the gifts with the cheap dollar store paper while trying not to rip the wrapping paper. Dollar store paper is the way to go in my opinion, but it comes with a warning “DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT TO WRAP IF YOU ARE IN THE SLIGHTEST HURRY OR YOU WILL DESTROY THE THIN SHEETS OF PAPER!” Wrap when you have time to spare. Yesterday, unfortunately, I didn’t have any time to spare. Needless to say, there will be many gifts under the tree for the children with fun little creative patches of matching paper on the outside of the box, to cover up all of my “oopses”.

Objective number 3; the final but maybe most important part…aside from the labelling, I really can’t stress that enough is to successfully transfer the carload of gifts to the “basement” of the RV without the kids seeing any of it. It was a miracle.

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My own Christmas miracle! Operation Foxwrapper went off without any major guffaws. It feels good to know I am keeping the naiveté, wonder, and magic of Christmas alive for our kids all under the guise of my excellent fox-like covert op skills. They will never know…until they read this blog…and then of course, they will know. But for now, they are none-the-wiser.

It also feels pretty damn good to know I am still a fantastic secret keeper…mostly because my short-term memory is for…well lets just say it’s not something to brag about. With 2 days to go, I can officially relax.

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Foxwrapper file is now considered to be closed and sealed.

TWO HUNDRED FIFTEEN…oh Christmas tree

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