Such serious faces!
Mykela has had her picture taken with this particular Santa every Christmas for the past 17 years! I like this Santa, because we used to do theatre together, and he remembers me as Miss Charity from a melodrama we were in. Miss Charity is far better behaved than Miss Ami, and therefore more deserving of presents, so I am quite fine with Santa calling me that.
On to Golden Corral for dinner. We don't eat out much, so this was a treat. My only request was that it be somewhere I could hear everyone at the table talk, and with all the varying tastes, a buffet seemed like a logical choice. Plus, children 3 and under eat free. They may be changing that policy soon. S. had steak, scallops, mac and cheese, several kinds of vegetables, rolls, chicken, shrimp, brownies, fudge, ice cream, and a bunch of other things I have forgotten. We were all stuffed, but she kept shouting, "I need more chocolate!"
We dragged her out, and drove around looking at Christmas lights. We stopped at cousin Bryan and Taryn's, but discovered Taryn was out of town. Oh, and Brian killed Santa (windy nights are bad for Christmas decorations.) S. kept saying, "I have Taryn at my house," but we looked when we got home and didn't find her. S. was the only one who stayed awake all the way home, yelling "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" most of the way. Did I mention the chocolate?
Friday I needed to be at work early - so, of course, the washer overflowed. Got that sopped up and one load going, then bundled everyone into the Toyota - according to the scanner, the roads were pretty bad, with even a snowplow getting stuck somewhere, so my 2-wheel-drive van didn't seem like a good option. Our roads were mostly just...weird. Little bit of drifting going on. One lane would be bare pavement, while they lane next to it had four feet of snow.
So, I was a bit late, but made it to work in time for the
Rashal, our reference librarian, got a great Christmas present towards the end of the day - she is now our new cataloguer/systems admin person, which leaves us with TWO reference positions open. As soon as they are officially posted, I will share the information, but please let anyone who may be interested know. An MLS will probably be recommended but not required (nobody else on staff has one), what we really need is someone with library experience.
Saturday we woke up to...more snow! Daddy still had some running around to do, but Mom and the kids stayed home and baked. Mom wanted to put goodie baskets together, but for some reason, there weren't any Buckeyes to be found. Hmm. That's okay, they are pretty easy to make. For those who asked earlier, you just need to mix:
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
Then blend in 6 cups powdered sugar, 2 cups at a time. It should get dry and stiff towards the end. Shape into 1-inch balls (try to resist making them bigger, they are super-sweet!) and place on cookie sheets lined with waxed or parchment paper. Poke a toothpick into each ball and place in the freezer for an hour or more (overnight is fine).
You will need to get a wooden spoon at this point. I will tell you why in a minute.
Melt a package or so of chocolate chips in a small bowl (I use a measuring cup). Start with a minute and stir, then 20 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until everything is melted. As it cools, you may need to pop it in for another 20 seconds.
Dip the balls in the chocolate partway, then put back on the cookie sheet. This is where the spoon comes in handy...
Some of the balls may fall off the toothpick. Which isn't necessarily bad. You can hold the spoon underneath to catch them, or use it to fish them out afterward.
You will also need the spoon to whap your husband every time you find a lone toothpick sitting next to an oily spot where an undunked peanut butter ball once was.
Anyways, if they all start falling off, put them back in the freezer for a bit, then continue. Take the time to rinse off your spoon and threaten your thieving husband some more.
If you want to be fancy, like my friend Althea, you can drizzle chocolate over the top to hide the hole. I'm lazy. Unlike Althea, who has 87 gorgeous small children at home, and still finds time to bring beautiful baskets of goodies to the librarian. There were other things besides Buckeyes in the basket, but everyone's eyes were immediately drawn to these. This was the only one left to take a picture of, an hour after I got home.
Problem: what to do with the leftover melted chocolate? (As if extra chocolate is ever a problem). First we played a bit:
Cocolate ribbon is very yummy, fyi.
I started thinking it was shame I didn't have any chocolate molds, then remembered the mini muffin pans I never use because I hate cleaning them. M. helped me quick-scrounge some other leftovers, marshmallows and sprinkles, and voila:
Rocky Road candies. I meant to do that all along.
Next we made these Caramel Apple Cider Cookies from The Girl Who Ate Everything. I had never made them before, but they were pretty easy, and the kids had fun putting the caramels in the middle. A few minutes in the oven, and...
...holy decadence, Batman! I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that Christmas is all about sharing. And I love my family. And I can always make more. Tomorrow.
The afternoon was a flurry of last-minute wrapping, people sequestering themselves in various rooms with strict instructions for no one to follow them. Then baths and dressing up for a candlelight service at my mil's church and dinner at her house.
Sleepy kids - but they know when Mommy is pointing the camera at them!
I started to feel a little cruddy at that point, and after watching everyone else in the family get sick over the last week or so, I had an idea of what was coming. I managed to hold it back through Daddy's reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, bedtime, and getting the presents out and ready...and then I collapsed into bed. Only to get back up again. Frequently.
Fortunately, Santa didn't seem to mind my being out of bed half the night:
We really do try not to go overboard at Christmas, but with four kids,and with grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. buying for them too...yeesh! There was once a tree back there, I promise.
I was able to drag nyself to the sofa and watch the proceedings, for which I am very grateful. Some pics from the morning:
What do you mean, some fat guy was in our house?
The first gift M. opened was a new skinning knife, which put her in charge of opening all packages and removing all tags. yes, we planned it that way.
It took FOUR HOURS to unwrap everything, mostly because we had breakfast after stockings were opened (well, most of us did), and because we like to stop and play with things along the way. Things came to a screeching halt while C. looked over his Star Wars book...
...and S. played with her talking tea set...
...while M. prepared for the upcoming apocalypse.
L. wasn't quite sure what was going on, but he did like this softly singing glow worm. Mommy liked that it was quiet.
Mommy got a stocking full of her favorite candy, and a cooking set she has really wanted:
Yes, guys, it is perfectly acceptable to buy the woman kitchen things, if that is what she has asked for. In fact, knowing how I go ballistic when people use metal utensils on my good cookware, daddy also got be nice bamboo spoons, rubber tongs, etc. M. got me a big set of heat-resistant spatulas. They done good. Someday, I hope to be well enough to enjoy it all.
Daddy got kitchen stuff, too. I really REALLY wanted to get him a cider press, because every fall he mentions how much he wishes he had one. I had half the mountain looking for one in my price range, and everyone had one they just sold a week or so ago. Then I saw this post from The Pioneer Woman, and after another flurry of conferences with my mountain friends, decided a juicer would work just fine. I also got a selection of different types of apples for him to experiment on, which smelled really good, and posed some challenges in hiding. I finally just put them in the pantry and told him to stay out.
M. got a cotton candy machine that works with hard candies, and it was immediately put to use.
Her best, gift, though, came in pieces, numbered in the order she had to open them. This was the first one:
and she figured out what it was! We told her she was wrong just to bug her, but by the end it was pretty obvious. For those who need to see more pieces:
Now she has to put it all together:)
Then Grandma came over: more presents!
Wrapped in a ball of crepe paper. S. was most confused.
She also brought food, which Mommy was actually able to eat a few bites of - before crashing into bed again.
You know, dreams when you are sick are all the more bizarre and vivid. For example, I was waiting for C. at the school bus stop in front of Lowe's in Alamogordo (which of course is where the High Rolls kids get off), and it was July (which is, of course, when they go to school), and I decided I wanted a slushee. So I turned to the slushee stand (which does exist, but which is not, to my memory, two stories tall), and called up my order - a 60 oz. apple butter (?!) flavored slushee - to Andrew Mancuso. Unfortunately, Andrew was so freaked out at one of his former teachers ordering a slushee, he disappeared into the inner workings of the booth, and never came back. C.'s bus came in early, and he wanted a slushee too, but we never saw Andrew again. I woke up REALLY wanting a slushee. And rather annoyed with Andrew Mancuso.
So, that was Christmas. A good time had by all, for the most part - it could have been worse, at any rate! I am on the mend, just moving slowly, and trying to figure out just where Santa thought we would PUT all this stuff before we have C.'s entire school over to play Tuesday - which should make for another good blog post all by itself...