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Yesterday and today, per Facebook:

Erin: I need to go to Kohl’s and Target to finish Christmas shopping.
Will: I need to go to the post office and a few other places.
Erin: Well, we could split up the kids and each go …
Will: [nods] Okay. I’ll take Clive.

Yesterday, 8:13 a.m.

Ha, ha, funny ha. Clive, in case you’re new here, is one of our cats.

Seth was having a morning made mostly of Being Two, so he went with Will to hit the post office, the haircut place (for Will), and we’d meet for lunch. I’d take Nora and we’d do the shopping before the lunch. Yay! Except Nora slept until 11:30 and Seth needed to eat lunch around noon.

We did meet for lunch, Nora and I did parade through Target and Kohl’s with her bundled in the wrap on my hip or chest, and many people were delighted by her happy squealing and kicking. Any other Christmas shopping will be done on Amazon, because I’m done with being in shopping centers right now.

Apparently today is Naked Saturday for Seth. Any suggestion of clothes is met by “NOOooOOOO!” and running around the house.

Around 10 am today.

A friend commented, “Your house must be warmer than ours!” No, I’m just going to let the little goober run around until he’s cold and then he’ll put on his clothes! I don’t think he’ll get frostbite in Houston in December. When Seth did get dressed, it was in a miniature Dallas Stars jersey – number 21 for Guy Carbonneau. I still miss him.

Wrapped presents while watching “When We Left Earth” … absolutely fascinating! I was never a space geek (ironic), so a lot was new to me.

Probably around 3:30 or 4, just before the kids woke up.

The stars aligned and the children took naps at the same time. <Cue “Hallelujah Chorus.”> I put together a beef stew for dinner, watching the documentary on the laptop while in the kitchen. Then I hauled presents and wrapping gear into the living room and picked up the doc on the Wii. Netflix Streaming may be one of the best things to happen to us this year.

It really is fascinating to watch and think, “I know who these people are. I go to buildings named after them. I go to THAT building. We ask that guy to come speak at certain events.”  My generation in America couldn’t help growing up with NASA … it was just part of the common experience. I’d never really looked into the history of manned spaceflight, though, and this is really eye-opening. For some reason it’s also more meaningful than if I’d watched it when I first started working there.

And now … time to get a little girl back to sleep, then to sleep myself. I mixed up some white chocolate popcorn tonight for Seth and Nora’s Sunday School teachers, and I’m tempted to go eat it all myself.

Sweet Tooth Factory, right here.

We’ve been busy little people around here, thus the lack of actual updates!

I’ve been stretching out my maternity leave (unpaid Family Medical Leave) by working 20+ hours a week and taking the unpaid leave the rest of the time. While it’s good to have the time with Nora and at least some sort of a paycheck, it does make things a little harried trying to balance what needs to be done at work and at home. Then there’s the stuff I want to do, too … most of the time that gets shunted aside in favor of sitting on my butt on the couch, relaxing with Will while we watch something on Netflix.

One thing I wanted to be sure and do was thank you gifts for Seth’s preschool teachers. I absolutely love them. My mom was a preschool teacher for a while, and I know from her that they love the little gifts from their kids. (Except really, they probably don’t need another candle or coffee mug. But they’ll love every one they get.) I wanted to add gift cards but that just wasn’t in the budget this year – see the aforementioned half-paycheck since this summer. So we baked and melted.

Christmas Tree Cookies
Christmas Tree Cookies

I had seen kits for making cookie Christmas trees out of star-shaped cookies, but I already have three sizes of star cookie cutters. We used this recipe from Cooking Light, and it was pretty good. I actually ran out of sugar and had to substitute agave nectar for part of the sugar, so who knows what that did to them. They were still yummy!

We made the frosting in the recipe, put it in a piping bag, and then Will lowered the cookies into the can while I drizzled frosting over each cookie. The frosting did help glue the layers to each other – three of each size cookie, alternating points – but we had a couple of anxious moments when we thought one tree was going to slide into the side of the paintcan container. (Which came from Hobby Lobby and are food-safe, btw.)

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
Hot Chocolate on a Stick

The other, chocolate-y things are . I’ll warn you about this: reading the very precise directions on tempering chocolate got me stressed out beyond belief. It turns out it wasn’t that bad, and you just suck it up and add some oil or shortening (my mother’s recommendation) if your chocolate gets ugly. Ta da. We used Semi-sweet chocolate and then dipped them in melted white chocolate bits. We put some in candy molds (the shaped ones) and the rest in a mini-muffin tin. I actually liked the muffin tin ones best! And don’t get all “fancy” like I did and think you can pipe in white chocolate first so you can skip the second round of melting and dipping after the chocolate cools. You don’t see the wrecked second batch where the two chocolates separated from each other when I took them out of the molds. Whatever!

The chocolates are delicious, and as I shared on Facebook, make great mochas if you stir them into your coffee with a little milk. We’ll definitely be making these again! Actually, we might be making them tonight to give to some more people …

And yes, Seth helped me with the cookies. That was an adventure in itself, but he does love to cook with us. It’s worth the mess. 🙂

Strangest thing in the room … baby corral or the cat?

Today’s Holidailies prompt is to talk about the strangest thing in the room. So I ask you: which one would you say?

Baby Corral
Baby Corral
Clive the Cat
Clive - December 2010

The Baby Corral is, well, a corral for babies. Okay, it’s branded as a SecureYard, but it’s really a baby corral. You put it up inside, you put it up outside on a blanket, you unhook it and make a really long gate, or you unhook it and make two long gates. It keeps happy but stupid Black Lab/Great Dane mix dogs off your little baby. It contains your precocious little boy or girl who has learned to roll and rolls all over the living room. It cordons off the living room so your baby can explore to their heart’s content and still be safe. But it’s a baby corral. People use them for puppies, too. I’ve seen them at pet adoptions at the pet store. It’s true. Right now ours has ribbon draped over it that I’m too lazy to get on the Christmas tree tonight.

Then there’s Clive.

Clive is as old as this journal. He’s really been the star of it, if you ask some people. He was raised by a dog, so he acts like one. He comes when he’s called and he has been known to go for walks on a leash. Clive likes people food. I found him at a Chick-fil-a when he was a kitten, and he’s displayed a fondness for chicken nuggets ever since. He also likes to pull lettuce from the drain board after it’s been washed. He’s kind of fond of green beans.

It’s a toss-up, really.

Saying “Thank You”

One of the things I never expected thirteen years ago, back when I started being online, was that I would get married “late” (based on when almost everyone I knew got married), that I would have a child within two years of being married, and that I would be a working mother.

My plan was to get married around 25 or 26, have a child about five years later, and then stay at home with the baby while my husband worked. Instead, I got married at 29, had our first baby just before my 31st birthday, had our second baby just before my 33rd birthday, and my husband works from home and stays home with the kids.

It’s had various challenges, and I could talk about those at length. Maybe one of the biggest things has been trying to not be the stereotypical “working parent” who comes home and ignores all the wonderful things the parent at home has done during the day. I’m bad at this anyway; Will has an incredible tendency toward service, and he has taken care of our home, of me, of all the little things that I hate doing, and he does it all because he loves me and our children. I – not having that gift – tend to take it for granted, don’t reciprocate as much as I should, and I forget to say thank you.

I’m trying to be better about that. I’m grateful for the chance to play with the kids when I get home from work. I’m grateful for the dinner Will made for all of us, and the clean kitchen. I’m grateful for having clean clothes because Will took the time to do laundry. I’m grateful that when I came home, Seth (our two-year-old) was happily playing at the sink, “helping” Daddy wash dishes while Will made dinner.

So … I try to remember to clean the bathroom on trash day. It helps me to have a reminder like that. We both hate it, but there’s no reason I can’t do one of the things I hate so Will doesn’t have to. I try to remember to make the bed. (When I write it out like this, it seems pathetically small!)

And tonight we had a special little treat after the kids were in bed. (No, not THAT treat. I wouldn’t tell you about that … ) A French press of decaf coffee with a little pumpkin pie spice, some Laceys cookies, and the choice of decorating the Christmas tree or watching tv. He chose watching tv, which I was very happy with because I didn’t really feel like standing upright anymore today, what with being up since 3am and all.

And now … bed!

Two Cups of Coffee and Cookies
Evening Snack for Two