Christmas Ho Hum

I’m in denial. There is no way Christmas is in ten days. It’s just not possible. I’m not sure why, but it just seems like it should be weeks away still- I had to force myself to put up my tree this year, finals clobbered me time-wise, and not having any extra cash to buy presents just puts the kaibash on feeling merry. It shouldn’t, I know- Christmas is about so much more than presents- but I’m just not there.

I miss my family terribly- and my family is changing yet again. Our family home and grounding-place, instead of being decked-out in spinning Christmas trees and  seven million lights, is now empty and professionally staged while realtors tour their clients through. Everything has been tossed into the air, and its unclear what the new landing spots will be for people I love. It’s hard,  and as much as I want to jump a flight to California, I have to sit tight and make the best of Christmas for my kids here where I currently live.

So basically I’m still around- I know it’s unusual for Dandelion to go six days with no writing- I’ve just been over my head in too many ways- good and difficult. Today I’ve got a visiting-teaching luncheon and a million neglected chores… and really? I wish I was in Disneyland instead. Ho Hum…

Random Crap: Finals Edition + Recipe

It’s done. Put another quarter to bed. Monday I took my first final. On Tuesday, I had two more, back to back- at noon and 2 p.m. Really back to back. Monday was a snap- I got an easy A in that class. The other two were harder- as in my first final was handwritten essays, 20 subjects, we could chose 10 and write a two-paragraph essay on each. The next final was two essays analyzing two poems. Wasn’t sure how that one went, but when grades posted, I got the highest marks. College finals score so far: 6-0. Booyah!

My kids have been sadly neglected while I plow through the end of these courses- and so has the Christmas spirit in our house. I’m really hoping now and that I can just melt until January and I’ll find myself interested in the domestic, charming side of the holidays. A party or two to attend would be awesome too.

Fakey Fakerson this year looks like a rainbow threw up on him. And I just don’t care. I haven’t even moved the catastrophic ornament arrangement the kids came up with- and that’s just fine. The kids haven’t noticed there is nothing under the tree yet, so I’m not going to call attention to it.

Mom FAIL. Yet again. The tooth fairy utterly collapsed last night as soon as the monkeys were in bed- and she didn’t wake until Bean’s face was an inch from hers in the pre-dawn light screaming that the TOOTH FAIRY FORGOT HIM!!! Aw crap… I seriously suck at some mama stuff- and quickly improved that maybe the tooth was so tiny she couldn’t find it and we’ll try again tonight. Is it a fairy-foul to take money from Abby’s piggy bank to pay Bean for his tooth? Yeah, I know… sigh. Off to the ATM.

We had a marvelous visit with Auntie Heather over the weekend- the kids loved on her something fierce, and she helped me a lot in giving me study time. She even fixed dinner one night- it was surreal to have another adult around for a few days- I’m so maladjusted I felt like a deer in the headlights… you want to do what? Help?? What’s that??! She’s getting married this spring, and moving to Ohio. Since I’m not allowed in the state of Ohio[1], I’m glad they’re getting married in California, because I really don’t plan on missing this wedding.

Got to have lunch with and celebrate the birthday of a wonderful friend. I introduced her to Mo and mine’s favorite restaurant- coconut prawns and blackened flank with blue cheese salad… yum! It was awesome to have a few hours with no kids, and uninterrupted girl talk. This is the same friend who dropped her entire life on 24 hours notice and flew to Houston with me last fall for the trade-show. I know the best people in the world. Seriously.

Bean has been wicked hard lately. It may or may not be tied to the X showing only part of the time for his supervised visitation. Nothing more fun to an autistic kid that having the routine thrown, and top that off with the cherry of disappointment, and it’s time to throw chairs (or piano benches) at the mom. We’re all fine, I just wish I had more control over the situation. Ether show up when you’re supposed to, or please just go away for good…

I’m starting to like running. I know… the end must be near. But I find myself craving that feeling in my legs and chest. Shhhhh don’t tell anyone!

My baby brother may be coming to our house for Christmas, and I am trying not to be too overjoyed at the idea. I adore my brothers, and it’s been waaaay too long since this one and I have had any time together. He may bring along his new sweetheart and her son- which for Christmas, the more the merrier. I love having people over.

A friend gave me a bouquet of white tulips yesterday, and the spilling-over bowl of them on my kitchen table makes me unreasonably happy. Love tulips. Reminds me I need to pick up some paperwhites for Christmas… most heavenly flower ever.

Christmas baking is just no fun when you’re celiac. Think I’ll put up a triple batch of my Pecan Toffee. Do you have the recipe? You need it. Here:

Pecan English Toffee

  • 1 pound real butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Chop nuts to whatever consistency you find pleasing. Spread nuts out in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan (any baking sheet with a lip) and toast nuts in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, just until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. In a thick-bottomed, large pot (it will burn otherwise) bring butter, sugar and water to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Do not stop stirring! Once mixture is at a rolling boil, set timer and boil for exactly 7 minutes, stirring the whole time. The color will change to an amber shade around minutes 5-6. Keep stirring.
  3. When timer beeps, carefully carry your scalding hot pot of liquid lava to your pan of toasted pecans, and pour the goodness over your nuts. Be super careful- sugar burns suck.
  4. It will self-level. After about 10 minutes, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the toffee, wait 10 more minutes, then use an off-set spatula to spread the melted chips evenly over the top of the toffee. Let cool overnight.
  5. This is NOT a good recipe to make with kids. I always do it after they are in bed at night- seriously, boiling sugar = bad thing for kids.
  6. The next morning, the toffee-fairy will have come, and your kids can help you break it into bite-sized pieces. That’s it. Have fun!

[1] I’m kidding people- it’s an inside joke. I have no felonies that disallow my travel to all 50 states. 😉

Finals Week

It’s finals week, folks. Gonna be scarce for a few days… then I will revel in the freedom of being homework-free for several weeks. Maybe I’ll even feel like getting into Christmas!

Kellie’s Christmas Present to Me

My bloggy friend Kellie (who happens to live in romantic spots all over the world- from where she takes lovely photos and sends my kids exotic post cards- but is currently in Alaska) sent me a gift card for Christmas with the express, explicit instructions that it was to be spent entirely on something for me- not for the house, not for the kids, not on any bills. This was hard for me- pretty much everything that filters in right now is allocated before it arrives. But today, with my gift card in hand, and all the kids at their respective schools, I headed to the new Nordstrom Rack that just opened near me.

And I found these. Gasp! (they’re not Louboutins, but another high end brand, and they look just like these) Okay, they were originally several hundred dollars. At the Rack, they had been marked down in half, then in half again. And then today for a special, they were an additional 35% off. Gasp again! And in my size. Oh my… I tried them on. Butter. Oh man, I’m a goner now. I almost wept with joy… soooo pretty. SO frivolous and unnecessary! Seriously, tears, people. Do you know how long its been since I bought something silly and pretty? Something just for me? I don’t remember. I stood there for several minutes arguing with myself about if I should or should not… and I know there will be people who think it was irresponsible. And maybe they’re right. And then I put them in my basket anyway. As soon as I did, a huge smile spread across my face and my heart felt like singing. I haven’t stopped smiling since. Now I just need somewhere to wear them… Thank you Kellie! Really… Thank you.

Impossible Little Waves of Happiness

There was nothing whatsoever special about today, and yet my spirit was buoyant all day. It was a wonderful feeling- and I found myself stepping outside for moments and just observing the many miracles that make up my current life.

It’s entirely possible that I have the most amazing cache of friends ever assembled- and they are not only all over the country, but the world too. One of the miracles of modernity. The people I am able to call my friends are varied, colorful, amazing and incredibly different- and they unilaterally help me be a better person. As I took part in and listened to some heated discussions today among some intellectual friends, I was blown away that I get to keep company and learn from so many inspiring and intelligent people. It really does draw me up and make me look towards goals I might never have otherwise set- let alone be confident I can achieve. What a gift.

My children are happy- and this amazes me too. They roll into the house after school a boisterous ball of noisy, giggling, sometimes bickering, but always-full-of-life boys. Abby inhabits both her brother’s world and her own- she still gets one-on-one time with me three days a week while brothers are at school, and this is when Darth Vader retreats and the crayons and tea-pots come out. She utterly delights me in how she straddles the worlds and owns them both.

School is going very well, and I only have one paper due this week- that might have been part of the bubbles of happiness today- there was no pressing homework, and I could relax and just hang out. Which is how I got to spend time talking to friends… And friends just stop by. It’s been a long-standing policy of mine to have an open door. I love when people stop by- I love seeing happy faces at my door- or even friends who need an ear. My house won’t ever be spotless, but if you want to sit round my oak pedestal table in Little House’s kitchen, my door is always open. Just this afternoon a friend I hadn’t seen in a while stopped by to ask my help with a project. We fixed it up, and her daughter fell asleep in Abby’s lap while we talked. It was precious, unplanned and beautiful.

Lately, life is pretty good. Maybe those moments are the days that make up the body of who you are. I am so loving the tiny waves of happiness that crest and roll up the edges of my life.

FHE at the Lake

Monday night for FHE my home teachers came by and swooped us up from Little House and took us off to look at Christmas lights around a local lake. It was chilly and snowy, but it was also lovely fun, and I’m grateful for good people who brighten our lives.

Bean was having a hard time after riding in the car with people touching him, and had refused to eat. Once I separated him from everyone, he calmed down, and the two of us walked by ourselves out of the frozen docks to see the lights. I will not point out the lack of railings or the gymnastics my stomach did as Bean tromped along the boardwalk, kicking chunks of ice into the water with glee. Because it was worth it for this:

Afterwards, we met up with everyone inside the resort and gathered around the fire to thaw out.