Monday, December 31, 2007

The deed is done

After spending the better part of Saturday and Sunday clearing, storing, swearing, and complaining; all traces of Christmas have been removed. I did take pity on the Saint though; the outside lights are still up. It is too cold and snowy to make him tackle that chore just yet.

It is cold here. The ice and snow have taken their toll, and I am DONE.

But on a sunny day our sun room is very pleasant.

This couch is perfect for napping if you're short like me small of stature.

And I love this lamp.

It's a great room to display pieces that don't necessarily fit the decor in the rest of the house.

I bought this in Sausalito.

You know what's truly amazing though? A mere forty eight hours ago the room looked like this!:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Where's the damn Christmas Spirit now?

THIS is the time of year I want to crawl back in bed and pull the covers up over my head. I bitch and moan with the best about too much to do in too little time leading up to Christmas. But in reality, if my end goal was to sit with my feet up on the evening of December 23rd drinking a glass of champagne in front of the fire? I had FOUR weeks between Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas Eve Eve to get most everything done. And with a few tiny exceptions everything was done.

Oh the cooking can't be helped. There is simply only so much that can be done ahead. But overall? I had a pretty relaxing holiday. AND I had the Saint's family staying here. And I cooked Christmas Eve Dinner (but only for seven this year), Christmas Breakfast AND Christmas Dinner (now for thirteen). And we throw a small birthday party Christmas afternoon. So yeah, the afternoon of December 26th finds me a wee bit tired.

But now everything has to come down, get washed/cleaned and stored for another year. It is not fun, there is no anticipatory excitement helping spur things along. And who wants to drag the process out for four days let alone four weeks? So here I sit trying to figure out a way to motivate myself to undo Christmas.

If anyone has a thought as to how to make this less painful? I'll be right here waiting for suggestions. No, seriously, I'll wait.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A re-cap in pictures

Christmas Eve: 12:00 PM

Precious Youngest and Precious Oldest are back from the airport with Uncle Spud. The Saint is at the grocery for the second time today because in all my meal prep and planning? I had nothing for lunch. So I waited for him to return and pondered my very tall fourth week* advent candle (*technically only two days long this year).

Christmas Eve - 2:45 PM

Should be getting ready for the imminent arrival of more house guests and dressing for 4:00 Mass, but instead am talking to my sister.

Dinner is over and all are sated. The annual opening of the Christmas PJ's is complete.

Cookies for Santa &
Carrots for the Reindeer

Christmas Morning 8:00 AM
Santa came, but where are the children?

OK, OK already. I'm up, but I didn't say you could start taking pictures!

Presents for Fiona!

Precious Youngest realizes that good things (like iPods) do come in small packages!

Precious Oldest has been begging for a pony for YEARS!

Wait, what was that in the bottom of the box?

Car keys?!?! (Ten years old, but one owner and only 80,000 miles!)

Oh my gawd! She dropped the car keys!

They slid all the way under the stove!

Not our best angle to be sure!

Oh that mom, she is a clever one!

The Precious Daughters got me theses cannisters I had been coveting.

The Saint got me an iPod Nanno. Which I am sure he now regrets as I can't figure out how to load music by myself.

And this DVD, one of my favorites.

We ended the day with birthday cake.

There is more to tell, but I have to put some time in at work. How was your Christmas?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Precious Oldest

Nineteen years ago today Precious Oldest came into our lives. Oh yes, the Christmas baby. I’ve always told her that any December birthday sucketh mightily, if you have to share your day, it might as well be with the Baby Jesus!

The pregnancy had been long and difficult. The labor had been long and difficult. The birth, oh my gawd the birth, I won’t even speak of today. But the pure unadulterated joy when out she came! “It’s a girl!” said the nurses. “She’s perfect!” they proclaimed. And here is the EXACT conversation that transpired between me and the Saint:

Fannie: sobbing “It’s a girl? Everybody was wrong, everybody was wrong!”

Saint: shocked “I can’t believe it’s a girl!”

Worried glances among the gathered medical staff – WTF? So it’s not a boy, big deal!

Fannie: making frantic gimmee, gimmee motions “I didn’t want to say it, but I really, really wanted a daughter!”

Saint: with delight “I’ll never have to go to The Nutcracker* again!”

* and he hasn’t!

True story folks. Everyone, I do NOT exaggerate, EVERYONE, complete STRANGERS, told me I was having a boy. They were never wrong they said. I was carrying low they said. They carried just that way with ALL FOUR SONS they said. I was resigned content. In my heart of hearts I wanted a daughter, but I did not speak of this. Just let the baby be whole and healthy.

And so she was. Ten fingers, ten toes, and only small dents and bruises from the use of giant salad spoons to haul her melon head coax her out of my womb. Coal black hair covering her entire head. (Which, by the way, all fell out to be replaced by downy blond. I smacked the cat for several days thinking she was climbing in the baby’s crib before I realized there were giant bald patches on the back of Precious Oldest’s head!)

She is one of the smartest people I know.

She sings like an angel.

She has beautiful green eyes - we don't know where she got them.

For the first year of her life she didn't nap for more than twenty minutes at a time.

In elementary school her teachers would leave notes for the substitutes, "If you don't know what to do, ask Precious Oldest."

She graduated high school in the top ten in her class.

She won an Ursaline Award; given for four years of scholarship, leadership and community service.

She sometimes infuriates me.

She makes me laugh out out.

When we're alone she lies with her head in my lap and lets me stroke her hair.

She is and will always be the best Christmas present EVER.

Happy birthday baby girl, I love you!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peace On Earth

I wish you and yours a joyous and blessed Christmas!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice

For a person who loathes winter I really dig the Winter Solstice. Because from here on out? The days will start getting LONGER!! I don't mind the cold and the snow too much during the Christmas season. It seems fitting and I'm not yet overly weary of boots, slush, wet dog paws, gritty floors, filthy vehicles, and rugs that have to be washed every other day. However, once Epiphany rolls around? I am DONE.

We had our office Christmas lunch at 1:00 and I'm done until December 27th. We even got a Christmas bonus this year, which let me tell ya in the non-profit world? Is almost unheard of.

I'm home to start wrapping, of which I've done exactly zero. That leaves Saturday and Sunday to make lists and do grocery runs. I'm still fleshing out the menu but here is what's shaping up:

Christmas Eve
Chicken in a Rosemary Cream Sauce
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Green Beans

Christmas Day
Prime Rib of Beef
White Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

I'm sure after a glass of wine inspirations will strike. Until then, Happy Solstice!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's just a spark

Things are a bit brighter in Whoville. Many thanks to you all for your kind thoughts and prayers. SIL remains in the hospital, but is holding on (in?) and at this point no news is good news. My brother takes his last finals tomorrow, so that should relieve some tension.

Last night the Saint and I met some friends to listen to a local band. They interspersed the sets with Christmas carols, and do you know? It made me feel just a teensy bit Christmassy.

My flicker of Christmas spirit may also have to do with the fact that we have reached some sort of d├ętente on the home front. Some weeks back Precious Oldest had asked if a couple of her new college friends could come and stay with us during Christmas break. (Oh, wait. She attends a public University. They probably call it “Winter Break” or some other “PC” designation.) I was thrilled and said "YES, YES, YES!" One of the harder things, for me, about this whole separation has been not knowing her friends. That has never been the case before and it has been peculiar to hear her talk about “friends” who I’d never met and knew nothing about.

Anyhoodle, despite my misgivings (due to Precious Oldest’s recent bad attitude) in to our fair city they came. Tuesday evening all three girls joined us for dinner along with another new friend who lives in our metropolitan area. It was delightful. Evidently my sighing, moaning and gnashing of teeth excellent parenting skills caused Precious Oldest to declare a truce. We had a wonderful time and sat at the table for a good hour and a half enjoying easy conversation with some truly lovely young women. I have observed before that seeing the Precious Daughters through the eyes of their friends gives me a new appreciation for them. I think it’s quite possible the reverse can be true; if your friends think your parental units are pretty OK? Then maybe you’ll cut them some slack already! For my part, I am grateful to have peeked through a window to catch a glimpse of her new life.

So it's there. This faint glimmer of Christmas spirit. I'm going to try to enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Where were you at 2 AM?

I am moping about today people. The Christmas spirit I had gamely mustered and tried to keep alive? Is gone. I'm tired. Our power went off and on, and off and on, and finally just off in the middle of the night. So I had the distinct pleasure of lying in the dark thinking black thoughts.

My SIL is back in the hospital trying to keep her twin boys in her uterus WHERE THEY BELONG RIGHT NOW!. She's only twenty seven weeks along and the doctors don't think either baby weighs over two pounds. My poor brother is in his last year of law school and is trying to study for finals. He sounded so stressed last night. All I can do is pray, but it doesn't seem like enough.

Precious Oldest is home and after the first twenty four hours? The bloom was most definitely off the rose. I was so looking forward to her being home. And to meeting some of her college friends. Now I'm walking on egg shells. Disdain. Everything I do, everything I say, is met with disdain. And yes, I'm quite certain that it does BLOW to come home to a PARENT, with EXPECTATIONS, after months of FREEDOM. But you know what? The attitude hurts all the same. Being wrong all the time is sucking the joy out of me.

I think I'll stop by church on my way home and light a candle. Maybe two.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breaking News and Holiday Update

Too much going on. Too much left to do. Resorting to bullets.

  • Ass intact, whiplash much improved. Thanks to you all for your outpouring of concern.
  • Excellent Board meeting last week, am beloved by all for providing Omelet bar for holiday breakfast.
  • Precious Oldest is home from college. Is having new friends from the Princeton on the Prairie to visit us this week.
  • Met this awesome woman for a drink last week. Great fun, we had much in common.

    On my mind today:

  • Baking 75% complete!
  • Shopping 80% complete!
  • Decorating 95% complete!
  • Holiday Cards 0% complete. This is not looking good.
  • Menu planning for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 0% complete. GAAHH!
  • Making Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage for dinner.
  • Will make meatballs to feed hungry visiting college students today too.
  • Kitchen floor needs a good hands and knees scrubbing.

Geez, what am I doing talking you people, I need to get my ass in gear.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

The weather outside is frightful

Inside looks more delightful


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I got my snow day!

Well technically an ice day, but who cares! First off, let me begin by saying that yesterday I was still in a great deal of discomfort. Enough so that I took the heating pad in to work. And USED it. My boss was so shocked by my little display of weakness that she sent me home in the early afternoon, after having extracted a promise that if the roads were bad in the morning I would NOT risk further injury by tying to be brave and come in to the office. (Hee!)

So I did what any sensible person asshat would do. Went home and decided to bake the gingerbread dough chilling in the wine cooler downstairs refrigerator into appealing holiday cookies. To say this was not a good idea is an understatement. I’m pretty sure there is a baking god somewhere in this world, and when I find him? I’m going to kick his ass. I had tried a new recipe (Why? WHY?) and the dough was a disaster. Sticky beyond belief. I struggled for about twenty minutes before dumping the whole lot in the trash and making a new batch from the OLD recipe. By then the kitchen was an unmitigated disaster and I was in PAIN people! Then I took some advice from the Drawer Queen and made the Saint take me out to dinner. A few glasses of wine, a few hours with the heating pad and off I went into the arms of Morpheus.

And it turns out I CAN PREDICT THE FUCKING FUTURE PEOPLE!!! In the wee hours of the morning? The power went out! So my alarm did not go off! But the power came the fuck back on, so I had heat and lights and coffee when I finally got up! And I read the paper! In my PJ’s! And watched two episodes of “Project Runway”! And I had french bread with brie and a glass of wine for lunch! And then I finished a book! And now the Internets are back up and I can post about it! And now I’m tired and ready for a nap……

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dudes, my kids were right!

OK, I need for you to get a mental picture firmly in place. Are you ready? Seriously, close your eyes and concentrate. You know that look that teenagers get from time to time? The one where they look at you like you are the stupidest human being on the face of the earth? A complete and total moron? Yeah, THAT one. I personally have always felt it was undeserved. But guess what? They were right! I AM a moron. I managed to give myself whiplash getting the newspaper.

Seriously, I am in pain. Worse today than yesterday. I can't turn my head. Plus I pulled something in my right hip and so am seriously gimping along. I'm taking Aleve and using the heating pad. Which helps. But only for an hour or so. I seriously think I'm going to have to haul the heating pad to the office if I still feel like this tomorrow.

There is, however, good news. For weeks I have torn through closets trying to find my special Christmas shirt. This is what I wear to decorate, cook, or bake anything related to Christmas. I've had it probably eight years. It's lightweight and has a nice half zip at the top, lined with red corduroy. But I COULD NOT FIND IT. Now ordinary I would blame the children for having pilfered my closet yet again. Except in this case? I knew they'd rather die than be caught wearing this particular beauty of a clothing item. Ahem, so I mentioned to the Saint this week that I COULD NOT FIND IT ANYWHERE and guess what? He produced it in a matter of minutes!!

I know, you are all SUPER jealous right now. I can hear you thinking to yourselves, "If only I had Fannie's sense of style!" If Tim Gunn shows up on my doorstep I am so putting this on the "keep" rack, I don't care WHAT he says. Nothing says "Happy Holidays" quite like this shirt. Well except maybe this apron:

I want pictures of YOUR favorite holiday outfit!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Oh what a beautiful morning

Well my day is off to a spectacular start. I let the dog out, started a pot of coffee, and went out to get the paper. In my nightie and robe. My pea brain DID register wet pavement. But we had some snow two days ago. Snow melts. This phenomenon causes pavement to appear wet. When in fact night time temperatures have dipped and the perceived moisture is a thin coat of ice.

I'm sure it looked like a scene straight out of the "Three Stooges". Feet flying up in the air, arms waving wildly for non-existent support, the thud of one's bottom then head hitting the ground. Me laying there dazed and dizzy and trying to figure how in the hell I was going to get up. Good times!

Fortunately the Saint heard the girly shrieking thud and came to my rescue. I've had coffee and Alleve. I think I'll be OK. No doubt the bruise on my ass will be enormous, and my neck is feeling very stiff. But Paco is still shivering in the cold and those cookies are not going to bake themselves, so I shall press on. But I might need a Hot Toddy first!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sing us a song, you're the Piano Man

OK, seriously. Billy Joel ROCKED! But I have to tell you the dude is OLD. When he first came on stage the Saint and I looked at each other like WTF? I mean we look exactly the same as we did when “Uptown Girl” was a hit song! So what the hell happened to him? (Oh yeah, I think he's a teenage daughter survivor - that could explain a thing or two) Then he looks out and says. “Hi, I’m Billy’s dad. Billy can’t make it tonight!” It was great! He threw in a few Christmas tunes and I got to sing “Angels We Have Heard On High” with Billy Joel! (Well, me and 1,000’s of my closest friends.) Much fun, but I will admit to moving slowly this morning and muttering under my breath “Dude, I am too old to go to concerts on school nights.”

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Other Daughters

It appears I have confused my legion of fans two readers with the sudden appearance of additional daughters. Their first names both happen to start with a “J”. I thought the clever use of "parenthesis" around their "names" would alleviate confusion. I was wrong. Anyhoo, I promised their stories, and so it shall be.

Each of my girls has a best friend; these girls are like sisters. I consider them part of the family. They feel the same. Precious Oldest met "Precious Eldest" in a computer class the summer before their Freshman year. It was BFFs at first sight. She is a few months older than Precious Oldest, so I'm calling her "Precious Eldest". We have known “Precious Middle” all of her life. She was Precious Youngest's first friend. (If you call babies playing on blankets next to each other friends.) She was born nine months before Precious Youngest, so I'm calling her “Precious Middle”.

They all attend(ed) the same Catholic high school. About a week before graduation, the Senior class has a retreat. Each parent writes a letter to their child and the child receives the letter(s) at the retreat. I wrote a letter to "Precious Eldest" too. I will do the same for "Precious Middle". Because I can not imagine our family without them.

They've eaten here, showered here, slept here, stayed up all damn night here, cried here, laughed here. They've spent countless days at the lake with us, gone on vacation with us, gone to church with us, gone to concerts with us. Through them I see my daughters with different eyes. And whoo boy, sometimes I need that.

In other new, it snowed a bit here today so I "had to leave the office early because the roads are bad". This will not however, stop me from going to the Billy Joel concert with the Saint tonight! Wheee!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

We went to get our Christmas Tree last night. I remember last year realizing that it was likely the last time Precious Oldest would be with us to celebrate that tradition. (In fact, I recall getting a bit misty!) So this year to fill the void we had "Precious Middle"* come for dinner and to help pick out the tree. She's come with us before; it felt right, less forlorn. (* Editor's Note -I will post soon about my other daughters, "Precious Middle" and "Precious Eldest")

We used to do the whole Christmas Tree farm, hay ride, cut down your own tree shebang. But when the Precious Daughters got to a certain point in school what with the recitals, choirs, programs, sports, homework, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree? We gave up that particular tradition. I mean really? Who has that kind of time? So for intervening ten or so years we have supported a local Boy Scout troop that runs a Christmas Tree lot as a fundraiser. (My grandfather was an Eagle Scout, my father is an Eagle Scout, my brothers are Eagle Scouts, I married an Eagle Scout - are you getting the picture?) We always get a Fraser Fir. It is always about the same size. I don't know if it is the species or the stellar quality of this particular tree lot, but the trunk is always straight and the branches nicely spaced.

With all this lead in I'm sure you're wondering what glorious thrills make up this tradition. Erm, well, there aren't any. The whole thing takes about three minutes. No, really, go ahead and time us. On very cold years, by the time the Saint finds us on the lot after parking the car (because girls are too delicate to walk very far in the cold – SNORT), we’ll have already picked out tree out and some hapless Scout will be dragging it to be trimmed and bagged. And we pride ourselves on our speed. As in we take note of the time as we leap from the car and try to beat last year's record.

The only real hemming and hawing comes in with the naming. (What? You don't name your Christmas Trees?) I'm not sure how this tradition got started, but the girls name the tree. Something Spanish; alternating male and female. (Don't look at me, I think they get this from their father!) This year Precious Oldest had to be consulted by phone. Much discussion ensued. The verdict was in before I had written the check: Paco. Lovely, no?

SIGH. So anyhoo, Paco is still outside soaking his newly shorn trunk in a bucket of water. Some night this week we will commence with the annual throw down putting the tree in the fucking stand; immediately followed by grounds for divorce stringing up the lights. Why do we do it? It's tradition damn it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Trail of Tears... and Towels

OK so not so much the Trail of Tears, as the trail of tears and towels. (And no, I am not making light of a sad chapter in our nation's history. In fact if you want some interesting reading I recommend 1,000 White Women by Jim Fergus. It is the fictional journal of a woman and her life among the Cheyenne Indians. I read it several years ago and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. ) But I digress.

OK remember the bathroom project? I'm attempting some finishing touches. Not artwork for god's sake - that will be forever and a day. Just a rug and some towels. For the time being it is not critical. It is after all Christmas and I have a .....well a..... sort of a ....problem. I decorate for Christmas. In every room.

But again, I digress. It is a small bathroom, so just a small rug. And some hand towels. How hard can that be? If you are me? VERY DAMN HARD! I started on Sunday at Kohl's. Moving merrily though "linens" I found some delightful Laura Ashley towels and a rug in "Patina"

But I thought it was too much a "blue" green. So I went to Macy's. And bought just a hand towel. In "Green Tea".

Piff. No good. Undaunted, back to Macy's after work on Monday to purchase every green towel that might be remotely acceptable. On the left is "Eucalyptus" and on the right, "Basil".

I liked "Eucalyptus" and " Basil". But I loved "Eucalyptus", so I got on line to place an order. Guess what? The rug? Only comes in "Ivy". Not "Eucalyptus", not "Basil", fucking "IVY". So today at lunch I ran out to Dillard's and brought home "Clove".

Not so much. So now I think I'm back to "Patina". No matter what I decide? Three days, five sets of towels, multiple merchandise returns to multiple stores. As the Saint would say, "Merry F%@#ing Christmas"!