December 30, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

Christmas morning fills my soul.  Flat out.  Following our traditions, I wake up, take a shower, put coffee on, turn on some celtic-y Christmas music, light candles, get the kiddo up allow the child who has been awake for hours to come out of her room, wake up Miles if he isn't already, and settle in next to the tree with all it's new gifts.  We first relieve our stockings of their goodies to enjoy while the cinnamon rolls bake. Then we DEVOUR those godammned miraculous confections with a second mug of coffee....  When dem bellies full, we head back into the living room to open presents.  I always play Santa, it seems.  We spend time digging what we gave and got.  And THIS year, for the first time EVER, methinks, I didn't feel like I had to rush and leave my little pile of fun to go somewhere else!  When I was a kid, no sooner then your presents were open, you were whisked away to church-catholic, ugh-and then to the aunt and uncle's house for Christmas dinner all the while yearning to get back to your new treasurers from the North Pole.  We took our time passing around gifts-Willa and Dylan will still get some "Santa" gifts, we'll continue to "pretend" he is real-and it was so sweet to each receive a huge hug and "thank you!" after each gift she opened!  I'm so happy for her that she seems to have true gratitude within....I believe it makes a person more whole, purposeful, happy and satisfied in life when they can see beyond themselves and truly cherish what they have.  It was GRAND and GLORIOUS to just hang out on Christmas Day! rush...... What my dad would describe as a

And when we were ready, we got cookin' in preparation for our friends to arrive for dinner.  At OUR house!!!!  Another first!  Finally having a proper dinning room and big table to seat everyone for a feast.  Finally!  And a feast it was!  Our Christmas Eve and Day dinners were the best I think I ever had!  A brined and smoked turkey hen, mashed taters with a smidge of bacon grease, candied yams, fresh bread and butter, spicy cranberry chutney and oyster/deer sausage stuffing(These ROCKED mah belleh, if I don't say so myself!!!!), red wine and an out-of-this-world brussel sprout dish that our friends brought.

WE ATE LIKE KINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  KINGS!!!!!   Mother of baby bacon fat covered jeezus..........

Miles and I (and Willa, too, I'm sure)  are so grateful for our friends, the Ruiz's.  We met them about a year and a half ago at the Salmonstock Music festival.  They were camped at the same campground as we were.  Willa and their daughter, Lily, found each other and hit it off right away, playing on the beach.  Moms and dads introduced themselves and we've been buds ever since.  I feel like I can relax  and be myself with them.  The type of friends you'd pick to live in a commune with....or if shipwrecked on an island.....

We did a "Chinese gift exchange" which is always a fun way to exchange gifts.  I threw in a pair of 3x grannie underwear for fun!  We were hoping to play our Cards Against Humanity game that Santa brought, but the Ruizes all had head colds and were feeling the need to head home.  It was a wonderful evening and I really hope to make Christmas Day dinner at our home a more regular event....

Fun with Christmas lights!

My 5th grade revisited and passed to Willa...The great Gilly Hopkins and Chinese Jacks!!!  Remember those?!?!

A new telescope!!!  (remember that foreshadowing?!)  Here I am trying to reenact the photo of the jump in the air I did 10 years ago when we got our first telescope
This year's hand made gifts.  Dig the candy bowl Willa made for her daddy with an old vinyl record!  I made Miles and Willa plaques to hang running medals and beer brewing awards on.  (beer awards are Miles, of course).  Willa made a lovey painting of birch trees and a toy for the kitty!



Fukinlovem!!!  Our music lovin', booty shakin', outdoors hangin', laugh-a -lot friends!  And the adults are cool, too.

Chinese gift exchange
Perfect!  Ho ho ho, indeed!

December 27, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013...the year without a Santa Claus

We got our wish this year! host Christmas day diner at our house for friends.  So we spent a big part of our Christmas Eve baking, smoking, and cooking for our feasts for both nights! We were really hoping to take a break and go ski in town but the temperature on the trails was well below zero.  Not a comfortable environment to ski in, especially for Willa.  While she can keep right up with Miles and I on a moderately fast ski now, if we are really hauling ass for a killer workout and training.....or just to keep warm at 10 below, she would be left behind.  But 2000 ft up at our house it was 7 above so we opted for another show shoe across the valley.  Is was nice to get outside in the brisk cold after being in the house steamy hot from cooking all day.  There have been no big winds or warm temps to whisk away the snow from the trees to leave them bare for quite sometime now.  Everything has been covered in either thick snow or hore frost.  And it catches the winter low light colors so beautifully.  Truly a wonderland.  I hope it lasts!  I'm slowly phasing out some of our old Holiday decorations for new updated ones.  I really like a more wintery Scandinavian color scheme.  The soft grey-based arctic blues and purples that one sees outside this time of year.  I really like pagan symbology of the holidays, non-traditional natural Christmas trees, holly and berries, lots of candle light, and majestic reindeer stags-I have a nice collection of stags started....

Our house smelled like HEAVEN from morning to bedtime.  While Miles baked spent-grain bread and pie crusts, I worked on my pie filling, cranberry chutney, and oyster stuffing.  After our snowshoe we got busy with the rest of Christmas eve dinner...king crab, green bean casserole, and mashed taters.  Everything tasted incredible.....IN-CRED-I-BLE.  I actually ate so much I had NO room for pie.  That just does.not.happen.

Every year on Christmas Eve we each get a new pair of jammie bottoms and a family game.  We donned our jammies and heavy coats to take a walk around the neighborhood.  The stars where booming to the north-Saturn big and bright- and I was lamenting the fact that our telescope had been broken years before and now that we have this great new room with huge windows, wouldn't it be awesome to look at the stars from the warm inside?  Foreshadowing!  We followed up our walk with a viewing of Holiday Inn.  DAMN Fred Astaire could DANCE!

 Of course our holidays have been lacking without Dylan, but this was also the first year that we have had no Santa believin' kids in the house.  It was great when Dylan no longer believed(Actually, we had to break the news when she was 11!) because she could then join in the Santa Shenanigans of wrapping and setting up her little sister's presents.  But with Willa no longer believing...that's it.  No more Santa.  SOB!!!!!!!!  A few weeks ago, as Willa and I where decorating the tree, she paused and asked, "Are you Santa?"  Taken aback, I went right into goof mode.  Eyes wide and mouth agape I responded with, "OMG!!!  WHAT are you TALKING about.  Is the Devil in ye, Child?!?!?!?!"  She just looked at me deadpan.  "Mommy....TRUTHFULLY." 
UUUGGHHH!!!!  She played the TRUTH card!!!  I looked to Miles in the kitchen for help...I could see him watching us out of the corner of his eye.  Damn!  DAMN, damn!  "Hunny!  Willa thinks WE'RE Santa!"
Oh, all right....SHIT.  There goes the magic.  The sneaking around late-night, putting Santa prezzies under the tree....the delight the next morning when she wakes up and walks into a candle lit room with soft Christmas music playing.....a pile of new presents under the tree(HOW does Santa get down such a skinny chimney?!)....a rockingchair and stool with cookie crumbs and half full glass of milk on it pulled up by the fire.... 

Damn kids and their "logic".

No Santa...those where tough things to wrastle with this year....but we still had a wonderful, wonderful time.....
And I didn't hesitate to boast, "And, ya know, ALL those presents from Santa were from ME and DADDY!!!  Aren't we the most AWESOME parents?!?!?!?!

A FABULOUS 17 year old cab... we bought 4 after enjoying some on one of our first "fancy" dates!

THANKS, Dad!!!!!
Something kinda wonderful:  I had been yearning to hear Handel's Messiah and looked through my dad's collection a couple of times to see if he had it(I had inherited his whole collection of hundreds of classical music CDs that I store in a couple of huge "notebook" disk holders) with no luck.  So on Christmas Eve I researched some highly revered versions of Messiah online and decoded to buy The Academy of Ancient Music-Christopher Hogwood conducting version on iTunes.  When I went to purchase, something kept preventing the sale from going through.  I was feeling pretty irritated at that point!  I was really wanting to hear this version now! It was hard to believe my dad didn't have Messiah in his collection, so I went back downstairs to look one last time.  I picked up the heavy leather CD book, put it on my lap and it fell open right to a Handel's Messiah CD.   Not only was there suddenly a disk right there alphabetically where it should be...but it was THE very same Academy of Ancient Music-Christopher Hogwood version I had just tried to purchase!!!  Crazy!!!!  My arm hairs were on end!  I put the CD in right before dinner....and it was magnificent.  For the first time since my father died, I felt like he was there with us.  A warm, comforting, loving feeling of the highest form of my DAD.




Fuzzy foxes, celestial white horses, and Star Wars!
And to all, a good night.....

December 17, 2013

Yummy fractions! Or, how I started to finally love math

What better way to introduce fractions then by using baking and the delicious results to demonstrate the concepts!!!  Through the life cycle of any given baked's all ABOUT fractions and science!  Here's a photo journey of our 2 day baking fun with Willa's 4th grade class:


The wooden spoons that Willa's class made last year in 3rd grade!  Whittled, sanded, and oiled from blocks of wood.  Each one as individual and unique a the child that created it!

I love a good busy classroom mess!

The wonderful Mr. Gillum who co-taught with Ms. Drinen when she wasn't feeling well

Break time....engrossed in an interesting book!

My kind of fractions!!!!

Each kid got to take home a nice Tupperware full of the goodies they helped create.

AND!!! I am so VERY HAPPY to announce that Ms. Drinen finished up her 6 months of chemo at the end of November.  It was not an easy time for her to say the least.  But what she WAS able to give to our children was mind-blowing....above and beyond.  Her final tests have come back free and clear....she is now vacationing in Hawaii....and hopefully well on her way to healing from the meds that eradicated her cancer.  What an amazing and inspiring person.

We love you very much, Suzanne!!!!!
Opening one of her Christmas prezzies.  A schweet wad-o-cash for her vacation!  Cha-ching!