Monday, January 28, 2013

On My Mind Monday

He  gave his life for me, that's what he did - just laid  down his life for me.  How can I ever forget something like that?

Wilson Rawls
Where the Red Fern Grows

I finally finished reading this childhood classic with Miss Bit tonight.  Truth be told I was putting off the last two chapters because I knew my tenderhearted girl would be brokenhearted.  Although Id never read the book, I knew it was a tearjerker because it is T. Bone's favorite book...the book he's read more times than any other and he's cried through the ending every time.  Me and my girl...we were both blubbering and blowing our noses just like our T. Bone.  I did my best to choke out the words over sobs deciding it was, perhaps, wiser to skip a few of the more graphic involving entrails.  And then we cuddled and we talked it all over and over.  Just like Billy, she wanted to know why God did what he did.  She was a little mad that he let the bad and sad things happen that he did.  Even as an adult, I struggle with that and sometimes daily.  It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the suffering in the world, but I'm also buoyed by the kindness and lifted up by the joy.  Yet I still hear myself ask why?  We were able to put the story of Little Ann and Old Dan to rest for the night, but I think that the good that came from the bad felt rather hollow to the both of us.  It finally came to...It's just a book.  Just a story.  I heard myself say it, even though I know a good book that makes me feel and think is so much more than just random words on a page.  It's an experience.

2 day pass in a few pictures

and fewer words

it was a wonderfully quiet couple days for me.
movies.  books.  cooking.  baking.
but busier for the rest.
activity night, basketball, dates with family and friends.
rain.  sun.  snow.
in that order.
now it's time to gear up for a week i'm not ready for.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

This Week's Menu

I was the happy recipient of three new cookbooks this Christmas.  One was a gift from my SIL.  One was a gift from my BIL.  And one was a gift From me: To me.  So when I was planning this week's menu, I challenged myself to try and include a recipe from each of my three new Bibles books.  Here's what is on the menu this week at Casa Wags.

Bourbon-Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin thanks to Dinner a love story and one more pork tenderloin in our freezer.  That will be served with homemade applesauce and roasted cabbage (purple and green).

Deb Perelman's Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves (meatballs) with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and cooked carrots.

I'm also making a pot of Lentil Soup With Sausage, Chard and Garlic that is from the Smitten Kitchen blog... although not in her book.  That will be served with a slice of white pizza that exists only in my head at this moment. The kids will get a bowl of Campbell's tomato made with milk and topped with grated Parmesan.

Gwyneth's Chicken Milanese perhaps with tomato sauce and steamed broccoli for the kids, and definitely with endive and Gorgonzola for the parents.

Hungry?  Dinner is usually at 6:45.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Today I woke up a little early and quite shaken after a very bad dream.  It was the kind of nightmare that makes you grateful it was only just in your head, and then you wonder what's wrong with your head.

Miss Bit's light was on, but she was sound asleep.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one plagued by bad dreams.  I turned out the light and tucked her back in for another hour.

She was dragging when I finally went to wake her so I made her scrambled eggs and gave her leftover garlic bread instead of toast.  I figured garlic would get her blood flowing.  I figured right.

We raced out the door so fast that we forgot her ice skates, but then realized it's still too cold for gym class to be held on the rink. 

It's National Pie Day.  I made a pie.  Chocolate cream.

I also made chicken enchilada soup and taco bake for dinner tonight.  I watched the Food Network while I chopped and mixed while fantasizing about having my own cooking show.

I finally worked out on our new elliptical.  It was a great workout and quiet enough that I could hear Parenthood perfectly.  I hit my mile mark just as the season finale was wrapping up and I was reduced to tears.  Sobs.  Happy sobs.  I love this show, and I love that there really were no tragedies or cliff hangers...just a big, happy, dysfunctional family living life.

I took a long, hot shower.

I stopped at the library to pick up some things and I came upon Alfred Hitchcock's Birds.  I checked it out for Miss Bit who has been very intrigued by it.  I think it should be OK for her to see, but we'll wait for the weekend when bedtime is so much easier.

After school the kids, including one of T. Bone's friends, ate almost the whole pie.  There are just 2 pieces left.  One for Coach and one for Aunt Jess who just called to say she was free for dinner.

Miss Bit is at tennis and the boys are playing nerf something or another in the basement.

Peanut is cuddled beside me and we are watching The Brady Bunch.

It's snowing outside.  Pretty flurries.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

The weekend is just over this morning. We were grateful for an extra day.  The kids would have taken another.  I happen to have two. Shhh.  I absolutely rejoice when holidays fall on Monday.  What is it about just one more day that feels so luxurious and satisfying?  Two more feels almost guilty...almost.  T. Bone was lobbying for a ride to the ski hill yesterday, but I didn't give in.  I stood firm because it was barely above zero and I didn't feel like spending 2+ hours in the car shuttling boys around.  It's true outerwear has come far from when I was a kid. No matter what my hands were always cold and my feet too.  Nothing was waterproof and boots weren't lined back then by anything other than a plastic kitchen bag.  I'm pretty sure my coat wasn't lined either, and who had ever heard of layering?  Faux fur flap hats were just a twinkle in someone's eye...God bless whomever. Only criminals wore balaclavas.  I took the kids ice skating instead.  Ice skating outside in the bitter cold.  I know call DFS.  Even more incriminating is the fact that I sat in the warming house cozied up beside the fire with my book  The kids were anxious to use their new skates and I was anxious to let them especially since I had to replace perfectly perfect only outgrown skates from last winter.  T. Bone and his buddy played hockey with a group of high school boys and Miss Bit twirled around for over two hours.   Sure their rosy cheeks were frozen numb when I told them it was time to go, but they were still smiling.

Today is even colder than yesterday.  I'll be keeping warm at home today.  I'm going to finish my book, sip warm drinks and make marshmallows for their after school hot cocoas.  Can you tell how horribly guilt ridden I am?

Monday, January 21, 2013

On My Mind Monday

When we ourselves are teenagers, we are living life as it comes.  There is no point in reflection.  We are so inexperienced, there is very little to reflect on.  If we fail a big test, we just move on.  We win an award and we smile and say thank you.  We fall in love and it's a thrill.  We get our hearts broken and we suffer.  And we feel all these highs and lows in our absolute core; it feels as if it's never happened to anyone else because it's never happened to us before.  Only later can we look back in the comfort that perspective brings.

Stories I Only Tell Myself
Rob Lowe

I took a break from this autobiography to read Gone Girl.  That break lasted only three days.  Flynn's most recent novel is the kind of read you don't want to put down despite the fact that you don't want to finish it either.

That being said, I'm enjoying Lowe's book more than I expected.  It's familiar.  We grew up at essentially the same time so I am in tune with the back drop.  I am on a serious mission to get a copy of  The Outsiders.  I forgot he was even in that movie.

I love the last line of this passage: the comfort that perspective brings.  I tend to think that perspective brings clarity or wisdom.  I like the idea of perspective granting peace and ease. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2 day pass

this weekend was happily filled with family and friends.
we spent lots of time together.
little moments...big memories.
and speaking of memories, me and my girl snuggled in to watch old family movies on friday after school.
it was her idea...yes, her idea.
it was such fun to relive so many occasions and especially to do so through her eyes.
of course, mine (eyes) didn't stay completely dry.
seeing her see herself as our precious newborn,  baby, was precious.
when t. bone got home from ski club, we had to show him some of his prime four year old footage.
he even smiled hearing his telltale raspy little voice with the slightest hint of a lisp.
in one video, coach and me are giving all the attention to baby miss bit...trying to get her to smile and he is running around in the background first putting on his backpack and threatening to go to college and then when that didn't work, yelling call 9-1-1-1!
we didn't even notice any of his antics in the moment so charmed by we by our wee lass.

speaking of charm, miss bit had her charm school graduation saturday.
it's true...she is even more charming than ever.
the girls were able to showcase much of what they learned during our luncheon at a local tea room.
and then they were happy to get out of their dress clothes and get outside to run around in the fresh air and mud for the afternoon.
that's the way it should be too...they are only 8.

we attended saturday early evening mass and then tried a new to us restaurant.
after i saw miss bit struggling to cut her pizza so she could eat it with her knife and fork, i declared that there are fine dining manners and pizza parlor manners.
she seemed relieved.
i think i was too.
we started with a garlic pizza that was transfer's version of garlic bread.
sooooo good and quickly gone.
the kids shared their standing order: sausage/roni while the adults enjoyed a pesto/tomato/asiago pie.
i think we'll be back.

at the end of the day, we enjoyed a little child free time to indulge in an r rated movie.
argo was so well done.
love ben affleck and cannot wait to read the book.
thankful for brave, outside the box thinkers like tony mendez.

coach and me started off sunday with a brisk walk in the brisk air.
the boys left for basketball.
we girls headed out to see a local theater production of the little mermaid.
our friend played flounder.
she was so great.
such stage presence and confidence for an almost 12 year old not to mention a flawless voice.
we're gonna say we knew her when.

we stopped for a little post-show cheer on our way home.
the girls were happy with hot cocoas smothered in whipped cream, and chicken tenders drowned in ketchup.
the mamas were happy with chilled chardonays.
i have to do a shout out to my crock of french onion soup topped with cheese so gooey and serious that it came with a pair of scissors on the side.
that was both lunch and dinner.

the "weekend" play date continued at our house.
the moms conversed with cabernet this time, and the girls painted some pictures and nails.
we all played just dance.
and then it was time to call it a night even if we didn't necessarily want to.

On This Week's Menu

This week is a short one.  There is no school for the kids or work for me tomorrow.  I have scarcely felt any mealtime inspiration as our energies have been focused elsewhere, yet now that I have committed to this weekly planning session, I feel I must follow through.

Warm Spinach Salad With Fried Egg (deconstructed for the kids)

Baked turkey Italians with bell peppers over pasta, sauteed spinach and garlic ciabatta

Taco bake with ground turkey, corn

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wells Run Dry...Drink While You Can

Baby it's cold outside.  But I'm not complaining.  I'm just under an afghan, sipping hot coffee and wearing a wool hat in the house.  That's how I roll.  I thought about crawling back into bed after the kids were well on their way, but that's not how I roll.  Miss Bit woke me up in the wee hours because she had a nightmare.  I forfeited my spot because I knew sleep was more important for her than me.  The truth is I have few musts on my calendar today.  Another truth is I usually can sleep anywhere and fall back to sleep easily.  Very early this morning my truth was a lie.  In the comforts of Miss Bit's bed, I lay wide awake.  Suddenly, I had a lot on my still tired mind.  So I moved again.  This time to the family room couch, which is always a sure cure for insomnia.  Always until this morning.  I couldn't stop thinking about how much we miss when we are sleeping and I kept hearing this passage from The Sheltering Sky :

Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

I've been haunted by this sentiment since I first watched the movie in the early 90s.  I was just a young whippersnapper ready to take on life then.  At 21, the world and my place in it did seem limitless and vast.  There was a sense of infinite potential and endless possibility, yet I paused (literally) when I heard these words spoken.  Call it a Kierkegaardian moment.  I rewound the VCR and hit play as many times as was necessary to transcribe the passage into my journal.  I didn't know what Existentialism was then, but I did already know that I wanted to live with sincerity and authenticity. 

Over the next several weeks, I journaled fervently   My muse : childhood memories.  I was determined that I was going to remember all the things I was destined to forget.  I was going to remember them more than four or five times too!  I still have all those journals.  I have every journal I've ever kept.  I have boxes of them.  I rarely go back and visit them because it is often uncomfortable.  I tended to write more often when I was angry or hurt.  My naivete is troubling.  My pain often palpable.  I cannot change or heal the young girl I was, but I also acknowledge and celebrate that this girl did grow up to be a woman. A strong woman who knows that, in fact, nothing in life is limitless.  That is not foreboding or dark.  It is illuminating and inspiring.  Life's looming ceilings and deadlines remind me that there is no sense in taking a single day for granted.  The daily brinks and verges serve as markers of the matter of every solitary moment...extraordinary or ordinary.

Don't let me fool you...or myself.  I don't walk around living and breathing the mantra: this is the only moment that matters.  It's a decision I try to make...I have to make a hundred times each day.  Be. Here. Now.   I say it out loud.  Be. Here. Now. because here is where you are.  It's no Existential truth, but it's one of mine.

Monday, January 14, 2013

On My Mind Monday

I knew that I would never have my mother back, not in the way I had known her all my life.  When you have seen your mother shattered, there's no putting her back together  There will always be seams, chipped edges, and clumps of dried glue.  Even if you could get her to where she looks the same, she will never be stronger than the cracked plate.

Tayari Jones
Silver Sparrow

And I would ask, are not we all cracked plates?  Aren't our hard earned imperfections what make us unique?  Isn't there beauty in broken things?  That we can be put back together despite our flaws... isn't that proof of our incredible strength and resilience?  Isn't survival a badge of courage to be admired?  I choose to believe so.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2 day pass

the weekend was just right.
no plans friday.
a busy saturday.
a low key family day sunday.
on the agenda friday evening, a single task with my sidekick sous chef: birdie cookies.
once set, we used kitchen twine to turn them into adorable and tasty edible ornaments to hang from our branches.

saturday morning was splendid.
miss bit was off to charm school and then a play date.
in true role reversal...t. bone spent the day lounging at home.
i met jess first thing at the lakefront for a few miles.
it was like spring: sunny, windy, warm for january.
i can feel the sun getting warmer as it draws nearer these days.

as soon as the sun thought about setting, we packed up and headed to grandma and grandpa's for soup and sports.
my dad's 44 (4 bean and 4 pepper) white chili got my #1 vote, yet each tureen held contenders.
it was fun gathering together...around the t.v. to cheer on our team even if they didn't win and around the i pad to play pop quiz.

sunday morning we attended church.
while the kids went to sunday school, coach and i went for coffee.
we all met up for a little potluck in the parish center and it was decided then and there that we would go to the movies for the afternoon.
only we couldn't exactly agree on one movie.
so the boys went to see something suspenseful and the girls went to see something slightly sappy.
and everyone was happy.

sure we didn't sit down for sunday supper until 7:00, but that was ok because it was a good and full day of family fun.
now we are all going to bed.
good night.

On This Week's Menu

I am going to try posting my weekly menu on the blog to keep track of what I make and also to capture recipes.  I hope this helps me expand my repertoire. I don't want to jinx myself, but my kids are getting a little more adventurous so I feel it is time to seize the opportunity.  Yet still there are times that I just know they won't eat what I want to make or vice versa so I will tweak it a bit to keep the peace and harmony of dinnertime. I usually aim to plan family dinners Sunday through Wednesday and to shop only once over the weekend.  Thursday is leftover night and Friday is pizza night.  Saturday we are usually entertaining or being entertained.

Melt in your mouth pot roast (made in the pressure cooker)
buttermilk mashed potatoes
glazed honey carrots
rice and black beans (Vigo brand and delicious)
Pasta with tomato sauce and sauteed spinach for the kids
Chicken enchilada pasta (but I add more bell peppers and a jalapeno or two)
Egg and cheese bagel sandwiches for the kids
Martha's spinach quiche which I adapt.  I use milk instead of 1/2 and 1/2 and whatever white cheese we have on hand and need to use up.
fresh fruit 

Yes, we do eat a lot of chicken.
It's true that most of these meals can be prepped well in advance limiting cooking time on busy week nights.
Indeed...we like leftovers because they make great lunches too.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Grateful Friday

Finding something lost.  I noticed I lost a brand new earring when Miss Bit and I returned home from the mall Friday eve.  I called the store where I tried on a few things with no luck and hung up with little hope of finding it.  I was bummed because the earrings were a very nice gift from my brother and sil for Christmas.  Lo and behold...the first thing I saw when I looked at my desk Monday morning was my missing shiny silver earring.  Prayers to St. Anthony work.

Feeling better finally.  It took me almost 2 weeks to fully recover from my bout with the flu.  I'm glad that my kids had the flu mist and that coach has an immune system of steel.

Pasta Fagioli soup for dinner and many lunches this week.  The kids weren't fans of all the beans, which left more for me.

The new pork recipe we tried this week.  I marinated the tenderloin overnight and it was tender, juicy and tasty.  Miss Bit asked for thirds!  I served it with perfectly baked potatoes.  At Casa Wags we rub the skins with a little EVOO and generously season them up with kosher salt.  Then we bake them for 60-75 minutes at 425 degrees.  They barely need butter and there are almost never any leftover skins and we all know the outsides are the best for us.

This delicious, disappearing cake.  It's a dangerous blueberry lemon coffee cake that I made mid-week, and it is already gone.  I did share a few slices with friends, but even so it's totally unheard of that T. Bone asked for and ate the very last slice this morning for breakfast.  He generally turns down anything not hot out of the oven or more than a day old.

Miss Bit was so excited to have a new friend over yesterday for the first time.  They had a blast and I'm glad because I really got a good vibe from this young lady.  If I could pick and choose my daughter's friends, I would surely choose her.

Rob Lowe's autobiography  which pulled me in this week.  I'm really enjoying it.  I have always liked him, and in a way I feel like I grew up with him.  2012 started as the year of the memoir.  Perhaps 2013 will be that of the autobiography.

An Amazon order with a friend today.  We ordered two books and split the cost.  We'll swap and read them both.  I'm happy because I'm like 12 of 40 holds at the library on one of our selections.  
All of our Christmas decorations are down and packed away until next year.  It wasn't too bad because I was quite the minimalist this year.  The cats are grateful to have their perch in the sun again.

Coconut Greek yogurt with vanilla almond granola.  It's more like dessert than breakfast.

Miss Bit is enjoying her second round of tennis lessons.

Musicals and local theater.  Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat is the spring musical our high school drama club is performing.  Today I listened to the soundtrack on my way to work.  I'll be buying tickets when they go on sale in two weeks.

A date to walk tomorrow morning.

Plans to cheer on our NFL team at my Dad's this weekend.  He's hosting a soup party.  I'll be bringing my roasted tomato with cheddar at his request. He never requests anything so I feel sorta special.

Our unseasonably warm temperatures will be replaced by a cold snap Sunday.  I am happy about the return of winter for reasons I've already declared.  T. Bone is hoping to have more snow for snowboarding next week and Miss Bit is hoping the ice rink freezes over long enough to be able to strap on her skates.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

I meant to post this before Christmas. I received, gifted and/or enjoyed all of these items over the holidays, and I love them all.

These fresh frozen spices. I stocked up at Costco and you should too.

Harney & Sons teas especially Cinnamon Sunset.

Dinner: A Love Story cookbook.  It is a must have for any family cook.  I rarely feel the need to own cookbooks these days with so many recipes at my fingertips on the www, but this is a keeper.

This collection of poems.  Any Mary Oliver actually.

Li Bien ornaments.  They are handpainted keepsakes to treasure from year to year.

Sur La Table which is one of my favorite places to shop.  Some of my most loved finds include these
Alterra coffee in any roast or blend.

Linnea Design poster calendars.  I get one every year and enjoy it every day.

Thymes Frasier Fir candles or really anything.



I am neither religious nor superstitious, but there is something otherworldly about the space where two roads come together.  The devil is said to set up shop there if you want to swap your soul for something more useful.  If you believe that God can be bribed, it's also hallowed ground to make sacrifices.  In the literal sense, it's also a place to change direction, but once you've changed it, you're stuck until you come to another crossroads, and who knows how long that will be.

Tayari Jones
Silver Sparrow

I am both religious and superstitious.  I believe in God, karma, and signs.  I also believe in personal responsibility and freedom of choice.  I believe in fate and destiny.  I also believe that my action or inaction affects my fortune or misfortune.  Nothing is happenstance because intention is a trump card in life's deck. I know that these core, and seemingly contradictory, beliefs are what make change so very difficult for me.  I know that I have choices, and that choices have consequences.  I'm afraid to make a bad choice...the wrong choice.  I live in fear of choices that will result in undesirable consequences.  So sometimes I do my darnedest to make no choice at all.

When I read this passage the other day, I dog eared the page.  I revisited it.  I sat with it.  It made me think that when we reach a crossroads, we stagnate until we choose our way through the intersection.  Inaction seems more debilitating than taking a wrong turn or choosing to stay the course when the course has run its course if you will.  And unless the turn takes you off the road and over the cliff, you can always backtrack, return and try another route.  So rarely are we dealt that ace in the hole the first time around.  While it's true that the turning point is a critical one, going nowhere is no guarantee to the path of peace either.

I'm at a crossroads: both literal and figurative.  I have to get through this junction to take my place on the open road where all I want to do is coast for awhile. I am stuck on this image of  the road without any obstacles stretching straight into the horizon, open windows and wind blowing through my hair.  This picture feels like flying.  It is freedom.  It's the liberty that comes with making a choice...taking a turn...charting a course.  In this image, I have no idea where I'm going.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is that I am at the helm holding the reins and on the move.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

March in January

The sun is out melting what's left of the ice and snow and calling out all critters.  The birds are singing like spring is on the horizon and the squirrels are gorging and playing at once.  Yesterday I was uncomfortably overdressed for my midday walk.  I was geared up for mild winter.  It was in the 40s and more like spring.  The weather, which most people are rejoicing in, is incongruous with my mood. I'm in a snowbound, freeze snap state of mind.  I want to hunker down, check out, brood and nest.  The call to slow down is what I so love about January after a busy holiday season and frenetic end of year. I'm rebelling against Mother Nature or this documented climatic phenomenon dubbed the January thaw.  I don't do well with change and certainly not quick change.  Defrosting takes time.  I don't soften or melt easily.  I know that to alleviate the numbness too quickly is to do more damage.  It is cause for even more discomfort and malaise.

That's why I am taking the time I need.  It's why I am listening to the quiet urges of my mind and the gentle cravings of my soul.  I read this book most of the morning yesterday without a pang of guilt.  I felt no disgrace in curling up on the couch for a late morning nap that lasted longer than I intended. I was grateful I still had time to get in a walk before picking up the kids.  It was my first time out in at least two weeks. I knew it would elevate my mood...I just didn't know to what degree. Late afternoon while the kids decompressed, I baked a cake and then I started another book before starting dinner.  The pizza chicken with a side of sauteed spinach got everyone's thumbs up.  At the end of the day, I can say it was a good one even if it did feel more like spring than winter.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January Thaw

People say, that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  But they are wrong.  What doesn't kill you, doesn't kill you.  That's all you get.  Sometimes, you just have to hope that's enough.

Tayari Jones
Silver Sparrow

Monday, January 7, 2013

2 day pass

miss bit and i headed to the mall after school/work friday.
it was a self-proclaimed girl's night out.
the boys had other plans.
we took care of business and then chatted over gelato and cream for her and sparkling wine for me.
at home we changed into our pjs and snuggled in for a movie.
it was a good night.
it was a good morning too.
we were up and ready early.
t. bone came home from the ski hill friday night only to sleep, eat and get more money before heading right back saturday.
miss bit gussied up for etiquette class with a friend who then came home with her to play all the rest of the day much to both the girls delight.
i caught up with my friend, miss bit's friend's mom, as day turned to night.
coach made homemade mac for the kids and i made lasagna soup for the grown-ups.
i had a quiet house yesterday.
i decided to dechristmas while the rest of the crew was away playing basketball and with friends.
it made me sad and then happy to have less clutter.
coach and i made crepes 4 ways for sunday dinner:
butter and powdered sugar for him, berries and cream for her, ham and cheese and spinach for us.
i was asleep before the kiddos last night.
i'm still fighting this bug and also the post holiday blues.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The fact that I'm finally back.  This is the very best I've felt physically in at least 10 days.  Emotionally, I'm also on the upswing.  Having the flu, led to lots of quality family time and while I yearned to feel better, I was not eager for our quiet break to come to an end.

Despite the germs, we had a really great Christmas.  Funny how I resisted change and then ended up ever thankful for it.  We had our big (yet shrinking) family celebration on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Day we had no plans.  That was a good thing because I would have had to cancel.  Sometimes the world works in mysterious, yet meaningful ways.

One thing that didn't change was our attendance at Christmas Eve mass.  I cried all the way to church.  Bittersweet tears because of the beauty of Christmas and also the sadness.  I left after two hours tasting more honey than vinegar.  We were early, but later than usual for this ever popular mass so we had to stand for the duration.  When I suggested we might leave right after Communion, T. Bone requested we stay to sing Hark The Herald Angels Sing in recession.  It was beautiful: the suggestion and the song made my heart sing. 

My brother and SIL hosted the evening.  Everything was considered and Christmased: beautiful and fabulous.
My two were mostly patient, yet didn't stray far from the growing mountain of gifts gathering under and and
 around the tree.  I have to remind myself that they are the only kids in the family and they are almost 12 and just 8.

We opened gifts late into the evening - after a delicious dinner, a few toasts and lotsa crackers hence the crowns.

Let the photographic evidence below serve as proof that these were the kind of gifts that were well worth waiting for.  There were fainting spells, squeals, smiles and hugs.  Miss Bit also questioned loudly for a moment whether or not she was dreaming.  She then decided, "This is my wildest dream come true!"  Uncle B. Bone and Aunt A. Bone get the award for greatest gift ever, but T. Bone and Miss Bit were blessed to receive so many great gifts and they truly appreciated them all.

I felt like Cinderella.  All the sudden it was after midnight, but it seemed like the ball had just begun.  And then Christmas morning came way too soon.  When Miss Bit crawled in between us at 7:30, I was so thankful she fell back to sleep.  The cats finally woke us at 10:00, and then we had to rouse a still sleeping T. Bone.  We took our time opening gifts from Santa and one another.  I love how much my kids love to give the gifts they have picked out.  It makes me proud that for them it is not only about receiving.

Usually we host a brunch and then have a long day of festivities, but this year it was just the four (or six) of us all day.  We started some new traditions...our own traditions for the holiday.  Chef Coach and his sous chef, Miss Bit made cinnamon buns while I was at work on Christmas Eve.  We put them in the oven, browned our Polish kielbasa, made hot cocoa and sat down for a very relaxed and tasty family breakfast at lunch time.  We spent the day hanging out at home in our pajamas: playing with our new things, resting, relaxing.  Then mid-day we cuddled up in the family room for a Harry Potter movieathon.  Coach made us homemade pizza for dinner.  It was perfect in every way and just what we all needed.

I spent the next couple days mostly in bed.  I did emerge heavily medicated for a game of Scrabble here or a game of Monopoly there.  My family, epecially Coach, took very good care of me.  He kept my fluids stocked, my meds on time and my ice pack chilled for my aching head.

The kids played with friends and didn't seem to mind staying mostly close to home.
Luckily, there was some snow for winter fun.

T. Bone turned 12 on the 27th.  He had a great day snowboarding with friends.  We finally sang Happy Birthday to him on the 28th.  He thought long and hard about his wish.  I sure hope it comes true!

In honor of his day of birth, he received tickets to a Badger basketball game.  He invited a friend and his Grandpa to join he and his Dad.  They had a great road trip: hot wings and sports.

Miss Bit and I had another great snuggle day at home before venturing out for dinner at my Aunt and Uncle's where we too enjoyed great food (homemade lasagna), company and entertainment.

It's a new year.  I'm still processing the end of 2012, but as always come January, I am thankful for a fresh start.  We enjoyed a quiet NYE with Aunt Jess and a yummy dinner.  I was fighting to keep my eyes open as we rung in 2013 so we carried on our celebration New Year's Day.  We made a nice breakfast, and stayed in our jammies all day playing games and drinking the champagne we didn't even open the night before.

Now it's Friday...the weekend again after a short week that felt rather long.  I'm grateful for a few more days mostly free and clear.