New Years already?!

You know what makes time fly by without noticing? Staying in your pajamas and playing with a new puppy all day. I swear Christmas was just yesterday!

I have managed a little work in the way of taking some decorations down. Most notably, this tree that I love:

Christmas tree at night

to make way for this puppy that I love:

Her space.

I am gearing up for tonight’s festivities, especially our time honored tradition of fantastic chocolate fondue with all kinds of goodies dipped in. So easy to make, and way cheaper than the Melting Pot. We’re also debating just exactly how late everyone will stay up. One year we told the kids they could stay up for as long as they wanted…so they did, and never went to sleep and then were totally cranky for the next week. So, that’s out. Naturalist told Hubby he couldn’t stay up until 1 because he also got really really cranky one year after doing so. No one has accused me of sleep deprived crankiness, but maybe it’s because that’s my new ‘normal’ since having kids. It’ll only be once they’re all out of the house that they’ll think, “Gee, Mom, you are so much nicer than we thought!”

Anyone have plans or traditions this New Year’s Eve?

Christmas Card Tree

I always have a hard time letting go of Christmas. I take the week between Christmas and the New Year to bask a little longer in the light of my Christmas Tree and finish all the holiday crafts/baking that I didn’t get to finish before Christmas day. I also believe that these days should be spent in pajamas as often as possible.

One of my favorite things is our Christmas Card Tree. It’s where I hang all the Christmas cards that we receive from friends and family. Our big tree is pretty traditional…green, red, and gold decorations with white lights. But for the Christmas Card tree I found a middle sized, silver foil tree and multicolored bright pastel strand lights. Also? Pink, red and white ornaments with jewels and fluff around the top. It’s girly, tacky, untraditional, and I love it!

Christmas Card Tree

I also hang candy canes for any visitors to take with them when they leave.

I love walking by this tree and being reminded of all the friends and family we have that we don’t see on a day to day basis. It’s one of my favorite decorations in our house!

Incidentally, if you are expecting a card from us and haven’t recieved it yet, it’s probably because I haven’t sent them out. But soon! I’ve just gotten stuck in the ‘labelling and putting a stamp on’ step. Sometimes, I get stuck in this step until July, at which point I give up and start thinking about the upcoming Christmas and how I can get the cards out in a speedier fashion. But this year I made fabulous cards on my Mac, through iphoto, and so am determined NOT to slack off this year.

Puppy love.

kids and puppy

Most of our toys have gone unplayed with this Christmas since we’re all enthralled with our puppy!

We’ve also been debating what name we should call her.

Hubby and Naturalist like Cinnamon.
Golfer likes Ewok.
Sassy likes Sparkling Star.
I like Miss Prancypants.

I lobbied really hard for Miss Prancypants. It almost worked, except no one could remember the whole name. And while she looks like an ewok, I didn’t really want to call her that. Naturalist thought Sparkling Star was to girly, but we all like the sentiment. We were thisclose to proclaiming her Cinnamon when a dark horse appeared: while getting licked I exclaimed, “She smells like Frito bean dip!” and in this house, we LOVE Frito bean dip. We eat it cold, on picnics. We eat it warm with cheese and sour cream melted into it. We eat it in the morning, afternoon, or night.

As soon as it was out of my mouth, we knew the perfect name for our puppy. Frito Bandito. It has a ring, doesn’t it? And even though cinnamon is a great name for her, it’s a name that comes from a normal family. And since none of us fit that profile, we liked something with a little more personality and flair. And something that was fun to say over and over again. “Here, Frito Bandito!” “Sit, Frito Bandito!” “Has Frito Bandito pooped yet?” “Where is Frito Bandito?!”

Ah, here is Frito Bandito, snuggled up in her play area with all her favorite things. Stuffed bunny to rip into and then snuggle with, Kong chewtoy, leopard sleep mat, and some puppy pads in case of an accident. So far, no accidents yet!

What a dog wants.

Merry Christmas!

While I sit and try to digest homemade cinnamon rolls, mashed potatoes, corn off the cob, prime rib, more cinnamon rolls, homemade dinner rolls, deluxe hot chocolate, monkey bread, mint brownies, and candied carrots, I’ll post a picture of my kids at Christmas ’05 and Christmas ’08:

Growing up

Now tell me, how is it possible that 3 short years ago I had a young family with a Sassy Toddler bopping around, and now I have a tweenager, a sports nut dude, and a Sassy Princess who routinely beats me at Mario Kart?

How! How?! And when? When did it happen?!

(edited to add…the ’05 picture was taken with a standard camera with film. Can you imagine life before digital? Either can I, but apparently I did, in fact, exist without it at one point.)

The Christmas Banana: A Hungarian Story.

On this Christmas Eve, in between watching Santa on the Norad Santa tracker and cooking up brownies to leave out, my mind goes back to a Christmas we spent in Budapest, Hungary, 8 years ago.

Hubby took some MBA classes at what was then called the Karl Marx School of Economics, and he had a wonderful history teacher. For a semester this teacher not only taught what was in the course syllabus, but also taught Hubby and I, off the clock, what life was like for he and his family during the Communist rule.

Now, I’d learned all about long Russian lines for fruit, bread, and milk while in Middle and High School. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, Russia sucks. I’m so glad I live here. We rule!!!”

A decade or so later, as I sat and listened to Tomas talk about one of his family’s greatest Christmases, I had a different response. He started off by saying that while he and his wife loved their 2 boys and would have loved more, in Hungary during Communism each child meant an extra job each for both parents to support it. He also mentioned that life was hard for an ‘intellectual’ at that time, and he constantly walked a tightrope between fostering learning and free thought, and maintaining the confining rules of those in command. He gave the impression that he was never sure if he’d be going home at night after teaching classes.

One Christmas he heard that a particular store in Budapest was getting in a shipment of bananas. Being a tropical fruit from beyond the walls of communism, bananas were rarely, if ever, seen there. His boys heard the rumors and begged for bananas for Christmas day. Tomas stood outside in the frigid December night air for hours and secured for himself and his family one banana each.

His eyes lit up when he recounted this. He laughed when recalling how his boys couldn’t believe that he actually got them each a banana…how they savored the exotic taste and ate them slowly. He ended by saying, “I know that you in America have bananas all you like. Even now, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we see more and more fruit and food in our stores. I know it seems a strange thing to have happiness over such a small thing! And yet, it remains that that was our best Christmas ever.”

Instead of feeling smug that I had never had to stand in line for a fruit, or had ever only gotten a banana for Christmas, I felt incredibly humbled. Which is the better road…having everything but being grateful for nothing, or having nothing but being grateful for everything?

So I sit here, eating Clementine oranges and green apples, thinking about gratitude and the spirit of Christmas. Thinking about Tomas parceling out bananas to a happy family.

Here’s to many merry Christmas memories tomorrow morning, and gratitude for our blessings!

christmas fruit

Our early bird Christmas present, unveiled…

First, the setup:

Tree with big present underneath.
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Then, the opening of the present:
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Next, the reaction:
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giggly girls.

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completely lovestruck boy.

And now, what all the fuss is over….

introducting…

our new…..

PUPPY!

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We don’t have a name for her yet. Or, rather, we each have a different name for her, but since we can’t come to an agreement on which one is right, we just call her puppy for now. She’s 8 weeks old and equal parts sassy, silly, and serene. She’s perfect for us! She’s a shih tzu, which is a dog I NEVER liked because of their ridiculous grooming standard…you know, the top knot clipped above the eyes and the long hair cascading down to the floor. They just seemed so overly fancy and high maintenance. However, no one told me that if you groom them with short hair they look exactly like an ewok! A fluffy, furry, adorable ewok! Case in point:

puppy!

She’s a beautiful cinnamon color with white socks and a black face.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a puppy looking for some lovin’!

Hello Gorgeous!

Early Christmas Present

Tonight we’re giving the kids an early Christmas present. Usually we can wait until Christmas Day, but this year is a little different.

This year, the present is soft, little, and sleeps in an itty bitty crate.

Can you guess what it is?!

Is it another hamster to join the hamsters of Christmas past in their rockin’ habitat?

Did we permanently adopt the foster bunnies from hell that I wanted to make into rabbit stew?

Or did we manage to get a new, third thing?

I’ll be back with pictures, later!

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