Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas

If I had a bottle of what my mama calls champy-champ in the house, I'd open it tonight.


2012 has been a real humdinger and it is drawing to a close. 

I am very happy.

With what's happened and what I'm working on happening.

Now, without further ado...

Friday: we went to friends' Xmas party. I walked through the door to find Annaliese in this party dress, which she has NEVER before had occasion to wear out of the house, weeping because she broke her tiara. I pulled out my fancy gift-basket ribbon and made two blond braids and the tears magically dried.

 Caspian wanted to look special and handsome too. Which, as everything is all over the place these days, was a difficult proposition. We settled on daddy's red ski hat and Annaliese's reversable jacket turned to the brown-with-red-piping side that she never wears.

He charmed everybody. They were both very well behaved AND the only children at the party. We were there for nearly three hours and we all had fun.

Sneak shot of Annaliese's room. After removing the fake ceiling (and hundreds of staples), working on the walls (two coats of paint) and the floors (K. sanded; I did about five coats of tung oil and one of wax), the kids moved into their own rooms Saturday nights. It's a good thing. They're right across the hall from each other, with a tiny bathroom in between.

Today I went to work and Kagan baked cookies with the kids. 

When I got home, we put the cute gingerbread shapes into packages and signed them and wrapped ribbons around them and walked the mile into town and left them on friends' porches and doors and for a few who were home, handed them directly to them. We even sang Miss Dixie a carol. 

It was wonderful and we all enjoyed it but this crazy girl wasn't in a picture-taking mood.

Per our usual, we ate fondue tonight. Caspian passed out instanteously tonight and we are on the couch in front of a fire waiting on Annaliese to wind down so we can move in the big presents from the garage.

A note on present-buying: K. and I decided three years ago that every year, we would give our children something to wear, something to read, and something to play with, with a couple of smaller gifts to be from Santa in the stocking. 

We bought our children the presents we wanted to this year: a new bike with bell and training wheels, special-ordered from the hardware store on Main Street, for Annaliese; a beautiful easel that Kagan made fully stocked with Melissa and Doug art supplies from the children's bookstore on the Square; two hardcover books from the same bookstore; a hat from the local department store that's considered ritzy; a dress from the seamstress next door with an A on the chest; candy galore; a set of Melissa and Doug dolls, a doctor's kit, and a rocket that operates off of foot power for the stockings. 

I am enthused about all these presents and again, we bought what we wanted to with no consideration of price. 

The grand total? $300. 

I am very pleased with all of this and it feels sustainable in the best possible sense of the word. For us, for our kids, for our community. 

Ok. Preaching over. I dig the three-present thing though, and recommend it highly. It helps focus the field in a good way. Not my idea, but I'm glad we adopted it.

Tomorrow, we feat and open presents and hopefully, weather permitting, go on a long walk.

The day after, I bundle my cherubs into Boatie and head to Virginia. A two-day trip; we'll arrive Thursday night and wake to a Virginian Christmas with my mother and sister. We're all really excited. Staying for ten days!

K., on the other hand, is also very excited: that we will be out of his hair and he will be able to do what he will in peace and quiet.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Geese Are Getting Fat

Oh, so it's pictures you want????


First, this kid:

Does she look dazzlingly enormous to anybody else? Every weekday morning except Monday, I hustle the kids into their clothes and through breakfast and into the car and down the drive and to the store and across the road and through the door and into the store so I can make coffee, set out jams, turn on cooler lights, unlock doors, etc. This takes about 15 minutes. Annaliese usually disappears to her desk behind the counter and emerges when it's time to dash to their respective schools at 7:50am with a sheet of printer paper covered in letters. This is homework. She gets a prize if she brings in homework. The other day she wrote out the alphabet, for funsies.

This is our future kitchen!!!!!

K. and I have a perfectly beautiful house 3/4 quarters of a mile from our farm. Do we think we should live in our empty beautiful house while attempting to work on things like below? No. Does this make any sense? No. Is it how we roll? Apparently.

This is our Christmas tree! Which has fallen over twice (once the cat, once the kids) and I really need to check the water level, self. 

It is NOT one of the beautiful fir trees the BTC sells because K likes to cut one down and in these here parts, they only have cedars. So we have a cedar. I love the lights.

This is my son. He is heart-breakingly sweet and very punchy and endlessly chatty. This morning he told me he loves me more than sunflowers. And then we started talking about sunflowers, and when I promised we'd plant a bunch this summer, his whole body spasmed in excitement. The reindeer bag is from today's Christmas party at his school, which he attends 8am-12pm. 

 Annaliese had her pre-school's party yesterday. She loves Miss Allison, far left, who is the Real Cindarella. Apparently. Her school runs 8am-11am and Annaliese adores it.

Sitting on the roof with my son. 

Kids and I went to my old garden (I MISS having a garden fiercely) to pick some old woody radishes for the rabbits.

I made the kids hug.

The booty-shaking, however, was all them.

The store is endlessly hectic. This week alone...

I got called in on my day off (AGAIN) because someone was sick. Someone else stole $200 from me. Same person stormed out and quit in a blaze of drama. Someone else sobbed behind the counter. Someone else started working for me. A produce cooler bit the dust. The special Christmas hams arrived, and are not what we thought they would be. I need my old weekend cook to work tomorrow, and then AFTER his shift is over, I have to fire him, because the NEW weekend cook is good to start Sunday (Merry Christmas, right??!). 

But I think I am learning to let it go more than I used to. I have fired people. People have quit. Equipment has failed. Customers have complained. The power has shut off. Employees have brought an amazingly diverse array of drama through the door as reasons not to work, to work, why they can only work x but not y. We have made mistakes. We have lost money. 

We're still here. So, I try to let it go, to go home and be with my family and stop anticipating whatever will go wrong next. 

Tonight, we're going to a Christmas party with good friends. Tomorrow, I'm finishing the kids' new rooms and I AM SO EXCITED. Sunday, we're baking cookies and K and I have a date (!!!) to go see the hobbit. Monday, I work until 3, then it's fondue and family time. Christmas, it's just us and it will be peaceful and happy and the store is closed so NO ONE CAN CALL ME. The day after Christmas, the kids and I pile in the car and drive north to see my mama and my sister and all my Virginian near and dear. 

Lots to be excited about, in other words. 

Peace and love to you and yours!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Yesterday K brought the kids into the college town 20 minutes away where I was sitting at a nursery, finishing up my weekly grocery deliveries (people come to a central location and pick 'em up) and left them with my so he could go eat dinner with some buddies from his office days.

Friday night! Me! The kids! In a different town!

We went to the dollar store and I gave them each five dollars and a basket so they could buy Christmas presents for folks.

The process of shopping for others as opposed to themselves was interesting to watch.

Caspian found the whole thing stressful; Annaliese found it invigorating.

Gender, much?

We then went to a sushi restaurant and ordered soup, scallops and mixed vegetables, fried rice, pan-fried dumplings, edamame, California and avocado rolls.

Oh. and SHirley Temples.

The rule was they had to try everything.

Caspian hated it all. He'd take a bite and shake his head mournfully. No, Mama, I don't like these beans anymore (even though he used to love them). In other words, he was being three. I didn't force the issue. He didn't even care for his shirley Temple.

Annaliese adored the dumplings and edamame and gave the scallops and fried rice a good whack too.

She wants to be a chef right now.

It was really fun.

We live a pretty quiet family life. Trips to the zoo or the weekly jaunt to the House of BBQ or church are adventures. The dollar store and sushi? Big damn deal.

It may be selfish of me, but I like that the kids are so excited about the out-of-the-ordinary jaunts.

They've been making their Christmas lists. We've already come a long way from last year's "Band-aids and a Spotting-scope": this year it's bikes (we got it! they are getting bikes!), toy kitchens (no.) princess dressed (she HAS those) and "something to eat" (guess who.)

Love these munchkins.

Caspian had a good time even if he didn't like anything.

Annaliese had a much better time than this picture might suggest.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Technology digression:

I do not like using the iPhone to take pictures, and yet, since i have one, I never hunt out the good camera for pictures. Which means I never take pictures. This should change, stat.

We sat down last night to a good dinner and I was looking across the table at Annaliese, who has had some sort of time-melting growth spurt lately and now seems, oh, about 18 instead of four, nearly five.

I made some comment to that effect and K said, "it's like you're here with us for the first time in awhile."


That is true.

Very odd, because the book was relatively a minor pain in the ass, and yet something about doing it was more than the Big Deadline Dread that I remember from school. Basically, it filled me with dread and terror the entire time I was writing it, and now that I'm not, voila! Nothing externally has changed but internally, no dread and terror.

Good change.

Makes me wonder if I should ever write any more books.

In store news, we need to make more money/employees continue to be a gigantic pain in my rear/people SUCK right now, it's all sandwiches and Christmas trees and no grocery shopping, which isn't FUN for me, I like the grocery shoppers!

So basically, the same as usual. In hard facts, I am encouraged by the all-time high average sale in the store (Rose by over $2/person in November, thanks to turkeys and Christmas trees), the percentage of growth compared to last year (37%, one month to go), and the record-breaking lunch/week the store experienced last week.

Did you just fall asleep? My husband did.

In farm news, our vision is clearing. K is close to finishing the porches. I've been painting and refinishing the floors in the kids' rooms and hopefully they'll be sleeping in their new rooms Christmas Eve.

The kids play outside a lot more than they used to. Right now their favorite game is Chef: they prepare intricate and beautifully laid out meals on short pieces of board: dirt, carefully mounded; magnolia leaves; acorns; screws.

Last night we decorated our Christmas tree together.

I'm liking December.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

It's December!

Sent my book into my editor this morning.