Winter Break is Over, Almost

I got one glorious half day to regroup before a snowstorm blanketed the northeast. A few hours when no one is asking for something, when you can take a shower without wondering if one of your children is going to kill the other one over a video game, a few hours of silence. It was beautiful.

Christmas was good, this year, but felt rushed and yet drawn out all at the same time. Break started way too early, as the kids started winter vacation the Friday before Christmas. I’m not sure why they needed Friday off, but whatever. At first, things were running smoothly and I actually started to feel the Christmas spirit coming on, I even made an attempt at luminaries to light the way for Santa.IMG_3470

My efforts worked, until I got home from Christmas Eve mass and received a mass text from the fire department requesting residents blow out their luminaries due to high winds. Apparently, they had already responded to a few calls to put out fires! It was pretty while it lasted.

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But it wasn’t all sunshine in the days leading up to Christmas, Little Lady started with a stomach bug a day before Christmas Eve. Having to clean the bathroom over fifteen times in less than twenty-four hours, tends to dampen the spirits. Between bathroom cleaning, hand washing, and wiping down any light switches, remotes, and handles that she might have touched in efforts to keep it contained, my hands were raw.

But, she rallied for Christmas, which in our house, once again, began at about five in the morning (it started at three for one son, but thankfully he sort of contained himself until 4:50). IMG_1862I’m not going to lie to you, the fact that my kids greet every holiday at ungodly hours really puts a damper on what should be fun. It’s hard to get it together and to keep melt downs (by both children and adults) in check when everyone is sleep deprived. My kids aren’t babies anymore. We should be beyond the point of children waking up before five, yet, we are not, and really, I don’t know the solution. I accept that my children are early risers, some kids are, but six is early enough.

Some people tell me that their kids aren’t allowed out of bed until a certain time, which is wonderful for them, but it’s never worked that way for us. We’ve just gotten to the point where most mornings, when they are awake before six, they go downstairs quietly and watch tv, and that’s good enough for me.  But as much as we warn them not to get out of bed until six on Christmas someone is always up earlier than that.  Not only do they get up early, but they wake everyone else up, too.  I suppose I could command everyone back to their rooms, which is not as simple as it seems, one of my kids, and I think you know which one, is a fighter. He doesn’t go down quietly about anything. And then, we could all just sit in misery for the next two hours, because everyone will be in trouble, no one, save my husband, will fall asleep, again, and I’d just be annoyed. But I don’t want to start my Christmas that way, either. So, instead, we sucked it up, and by we, I mean my husband and I, because obviously the kids don’t seem to be affected, and put on our cheery faces and had a great Christmas. Santa was generous this year. IMG_3489

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Christmas day I hosted my side of the family for dinner. With a little help from this lady, I managed to pull off a delicious sit down dinner for eleven.

IMG_1871This was my first time cooking a sit down dinner for this many people, which I really wanted to try over my standard casserole type meals. I wanted to keep it simple so that everything would come out on time and hot, so I made a filet with a blue cheese sauce (both Ina recipes), creamed spinach (an Emeril recipe found on the food network), baked potatoes coated in olive oil and sea salt served with sour cream and fresh chives, and gnocchi alfredo. It was bit chaotic, but I was super pleased with how everything turned out, which was delicious. Ina’s method of slow roasting the filet at 275 degrees worked perfectly and the blue cheese sauce was the surprise standout. Even the spinach, which didn’t look that appealing, was delicious.

In hindsight, the meal wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be, because so much was going on at the same time. I think pre-cooking the blue cheese sauce and creamed spinach would have been a good idea and I definitely should have pulled out my Lennox, which got its first real show in eleven years, the day before. Because after the move, and then sitting in the cabinet, it all needed to washed. Not something you want to be doing as you’re trying to put the finishing touches on a meal for eleven.

I considered Christmas to be a learning experience and what I learned is that if you want a successful dinner party, it’s all about preparation, knowing which serving platters you want to use ahead of time, making sure you have the proper serving utensils, and prepping the dishes that can be made ahead of time. I don’t think you need everything to be perfect and my meal certainly wasn’t perfect, just check out the card table pushed against my regular table to make enough seating, and not to mention, the extra seats, but I think if you want to be relaxed and have your guests feel relaxed and eat in a timely manner, you need to be prepared. IMG_3581

IMG_3583I’ve made a mental check list for next year, and two of those items is a bigger dining room table and non-swiveling Ikea desk chairs!

All in all it was a good day.IMG_3551

IMG_3575There’s those infamous Under Armour sweatshirts, a big hit, which by the way, I vowed never to buy anything from Sports Authority online, again!! I’ll save that story for another day.

We did nothing too fabulous during vacation, but we did manage a little fun. I took the kids to see Frozen, which was good. The boys played a few unfinished games of Monopoly. Does anyone ever finish a game?IMG_1903Another day, we met up with some friends at a new indoor trampoline park, which was pretty cool, but crowded (isn’t everything crowded during school vacation). This is the only picture I managed, which is terrible, but in case you’ve never been to a trampoline park, this will give you an idea of what one is. This is the main jumping area, and then they have two dodge ball pits, that the boys didn’t leave, and another jumping area that led to a foam pit.IMG_1875We also managed to make it down to my mom’s one night to make our annual trip to Story Book Land, with the cousins. IMG_3620

IMG_3628I think Story Book Land still holds something special for everyone, even the big kids that have been going since they were one and two, respectively. IMG_3631What I especially, love, though, is that for the little ones, they discover some new joy each year.IMG_3634

IMG_3630Before I knew it, 2013 was coming to an end. The plan was to go ice-skating in Philadelphia and watch the fireworks from the river rink, but I waited too long to buy the tickets and it was sold out. I knew I shouldn’t have waited, but in the days leading up to New Years, the stomach virus had worked its way to my husband, and I was afraid of throwing away a lot of money on tickets if someone else in my family got it, so I waited and missed out.  IMG_1907Instead, we went bowling (apparently you can’t bowl in normal lighting anymore) and out to dinner, where we were told we would have an hour wait. I thought Second Son was going to faint. So, my husband took them out to the car to watch movies while I waited what only ended up being about forty minutes. Not too bad for six o’clock on New Year’s Eve, but you would have thought I was asking my five o’clock eating brood to starve themselves. IMG_1911After dinner, we had planned to hit some local first night fireworks that were scheduled to go off at nine, but, just as on Christmas, they were up in the wee hours of the morning, think Little Lady knocking on her brothers door at 4:20 yelling Happy New Year (see what I mean about holiday wreckers?), so the kids pooped out in the car and our night ended at about 8:30 which was just fine with me. IMG_1920She barely made it through dinner. IMG_1913

Speaking of New Years, I haven’t given much thought to resolutions, yet. Usually, I am a resolution maker. Not, the I’m going to lose fifteen pounds or write a best seller type of resolutions, but more of a general resolution maker, like be more present (though that one never seems to work for me). I guess I just haven’t had much time, lately, to be introspective, or reflective. I can’t really get a handle on 2013. It wasn’t a bad year, it wasn’t a great year, it was kind of just there, forgettable.

I sound really boring. So, I’ll call it a day. It’s ten in the morning and freezing out, and everyone has already been in and out, once already. IMG_3657

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IMG_3676My kids are hard-core, what can I say?

Happy New Years!

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