Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas card plundering

Last weekend, Eric and I managed to get our Christmas card and letter pile ready to mail. It is no small task trying to find decent looking pictures of all 4 of us, not to mention the fact that our Christmas card list is lengthy. This year, with our big move and Eric's promotion, we also included a letter, which we don't normally do.

Got to take a deep breath and relax once they were in the mail. Ahh... another Christmas task checked off the list!

Over the last few days, we've gotten reports from some of Eric's relatives in Colorado that their envelopes arrived open and emptied. What?

At first I suspected that the envelopes just came unglued, but we've ordered our photo cards from Costco for the last 4 years or so and have never had a problem with the envelopes opening. And, the three cards we heard about were all from relatives that live within about 10-15 miles from each other. 

Our current theory is that someone at some point decided to open our Christmas cards hoping that they would find money. How sad is that? Thankfully it appears that after tearing through 3 of our cards, they got the picture that we weren't mailing anyone money. (Though, I did think that it would be nice for us if we could afford to put money into 175 Christmas envelopes!)

I felt bad because some of the people we send cards to, people who live in Colorado and hopefully weren't affected, are people we don't talk to regularly and probably won't hear from if the envelopes were opened and emptied. People like some of Eric's teachers he is still in contact with and who we like to update with pictures of the kids.  Hopefully those letters made it through unscathed. And hopefully there is no one out there who thinks my brain is COMPLETELY empty and that I mailed empty envelopes for Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cable Bridge Run 2009

This morning, Eric and I participated in the 2009 Cable Bridge Run 5K. We actually got pretty lucky with the weather. It was 40F and misting on and off. We have been told that last year it was 7F when they ran the race.

This was my first time participating in a 5K that was organized by someone other than Eric's school. He ran and I walked with the jogging stroller. It was an interesting experience. I was herded towards the back because of my bulky stroller (not that I would have run anyway), and ended up waiting for the start of the race with a girl carrying a Starbucks coffee, a couple of people with tiny dogs, and a mom who had a toddler on her shoulders and actually RAN that way over the bridge!

It's funny to participate in events like this with the jogging stroller. There are lots of women, usually older women who have raised children it seems, who encourage me and say things like, "Good for you!" Lots of people asked if the kids were twins, a few people offered me a ride back to my car afterwards (when Eric went to get our car and I was alone with the kids), and there were a few people who were spurred on by the goal of not finished behind the lady walking with a giant double jogging stroller!

I actually did pretty well and passed people most of the race. I am not a runner, but I am super competitive, so I kept setting my sights on the next group of runners/walkers and keeping motivation that way. My goal was to do the 3 miles in 45 minutes -- which is a pretty quick pace considering the two kids plus the stroller meant I was pushing about 80lbs. I ended up finishing in 44.20, so I'm really happy with that.

Next year, I hope I'll be able to run the 5K since running one (without any walking) is a goal I have for 2010. Either way, it was fun to do it and cool to walk the bridge with a herd of other runners and walkers. Hopefully this will become an annual event for the family.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When Good Netflix Luck Turns Bad

This week we had excellent Netflix luck! We had Inglourious Basterds at the top of our queue when it was released on DVD Tuesday. Normally a new release immediately turns into a "very long wait", meaning it will be a week or more until it's our turn to receive the movie. But this time we actually received the movie on the day it was released! Very exciting, especially since I was looking forward to seeing it and have been suffering through "eh" level movies the last few weeks.

Yesterday Eric was off from school because of a snow (ice) day, so while the kids were napping we decided to start our movie. It had trouble starting, but we assumed it was because it was a new Blu-Ray disc, so we updated our Blu-Ray settings online and started the movie.

We made it through the first 5-10 minutes of the movie when it froze. Midway through the first scene, just far enough in that Eric and I were starting to get engrossed. And then... nothing. Frozen. Turns out the disc had a little warp in it.

Disappointed, we reported the problem with the disc, which usually means they will send a new one the next day. But this morning Eric got an email that they couldn't send us a replacement and they didn't know when the movie would become available again. So now we've seen the first 5 minutes of the movie and want to see more, but can't. We may have to pull out the old Blockbuster card and shell out $5 to rent it!

Cursed Netflix!

Instead we spent last night watching Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. Entertaining enough, but not what I would call a high quality movie. We won't be seeing it at represented at the awards shows, except maybe the Kids Choice Awards or something.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yard Santa Therapy

We are in the middle of a freezing rain/ice storm - our first since moving to SE Washington. One downside to living in a low traffic neighborhood is that our streets have stayed slick even when the ice has started to break up a little in town.  The result - I've pretty much been stuck in the house with the kids for the past few days.

Yesterday our blow up santa couldn't blow up because he was weighed down with a thick layer of ice. I decided to get a little workout and return our santa to his "awake" form.

As the air started to try to blow him up, I did a little kickboxing workout on the half inflated santa. Some good kicking and punching broke up the ice enough that he was able to inflate.

I'm sure I looked a little psychotic to any neighbors that happened to see me out in the ice, kicking and flailing at a full sized blow up santa. But really all that matters is I succeeded in freeing the santa from his bonds of ice, and he was able to "wake up" and greet the kids again last night!

(It looks like I'll get to relive my kickboxing glory again tonight as we woke up to another day of ice today.)

Little Man with the blow up Santa on a warmer day

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Cookies

I haven't done much writing lately, but I have been busy baking Christmas cookies. I am actually more interested in the baking and decorating of cookies than I am the eating of cookies, so for the last few years I haven't done much baking. But this year our church did a cookie walk to raise money for missions, so it gave me an excuse to bake as much as I wanted! Yesterday, I hosted a Christmas cookie exchange for the mom's in L's preschool class. I'm hoping to make it an annual event. I ended up baking a second set of the Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies for the exchange. They look fancy, even though they aren't that difficult, and taste awesome!!

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

Snow Covered Chocolate Balls

Shortbread Candy Canes (dipped in chocolate)

Christmas Salt Cookies

Peanut Butter Kisses

Sugar Cookies & Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Friday, December 11, 2009

"This year, Amanda's been... not doing very much."

Last night in our family Christmas letter, I saw a reflection of my life, at least for this "season". Eric has been working on the Christmas letter that we will send out with our photo Christmas card. We decided it would be one page and would include details about our move, since it was very "out of the blue" and some people may not even realize that we moved or that Eric has become a school principal. Then, on to a short paragraph about what each of us has been up to this year.


We got stuck on the "Amanda paragraph". Everyone else has exciting news or milestones to share. I had one sentence in the page long, single spaced letter. It said something like, "Amanda has been busy getting used to our new town and new house with the kids."

I had no idea my life was so exciting!

I felt really bad when I pointed it out to Eric - that really isn't very informative as much as it is generic information that could be said about any of us. So he asked me what he should write....

and I had no idea!

He ended up writing about my interest in clean eating, the Bible study I'm attending and some of the volunteering I'm doing at church and the school. Hopefully next year I'll have more fascinating contributions to our letter: running a 5K, doing a summer missions trip, and who knows what else!?!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'Tis the season... for obsessively organizing!

Last year I had a minor nervous breakdown just after Christmas. Not an annual thing, surprisingly. But

two children of toy-receiving age + doting relatives and friends = lots of clutter - finding room for all the new toys and clothes

Did you see how I cleverly turned that into a math equation?

To be honest, I can't even remember what we did with all the toys last year, but I feel like we donated some of the older toys and handed down some things to friends. And even then, we stored some unopened toys in the garage to be reintroduced throughout the year. (One toy actually just made it's debut last month!)

I don't know if it is due to last year's angst or what, but this year the clutter and organizing anxiety has begun even before packages have started accumulating under the tree. Even before we HAVE a tree!

My current obsessive focus is the kitchen. Our new kitchen has lots of cabinet space. Much more than our old house. And we do actually have a pantry, which we didn't have before. But the problem is that while the pantry is spacious, it is akwardly shaped for food storage. The shelves are square, which means they are much deeper than a typical cabinet. They are the same depth as our refrigerator. Nice for cereal, oatmeal and dry staples storage. Not so nice for canned goods and all the little things that you would want to put in a pantry. So, it has been a struggle to keep it organized, and I'd love to come up with a system for utlizing this space better. (I've been half heartedly looking for lazy susans but everything I've seen is either way too small or just slightly too big.)

So disorganized feeling pantry has led to a smaller goal of organizing my dry staples so that I don't have bags of wheat flour, white flour, sugar, dry beans, grains, etc. thrown on to the shelf.

And now I have a secondary obsession - a distracting obsession from the first obsession: I can't stand our dirty and gross spice rack. (This actually started because of the clutter in the herb/spice/tea/hot chocolate/etc. section of our kitchen.) It isn't a bad spice rack, really, but it spins and there is something about how it is put together that makes it really difficult to clean it. And the spice bottle tops have a texture, which makes them hard to clean too, unless I want to empty 18 spice bottles into ??? and throw them in the dishwasher.  And I don't want to have a greasy and dusty spice rack sitting out on my cabinet for all the world (and myself) to see on a regular basis. Gross.

I'm taking my first step to tackle these issues, and Thank you, Cyber Monday, for your assistance! I did a little sale shopping online yesterday and have found the solution to at least part of my problem. I think step two will be to get some of those white wire shelves to divide the big cabinets up a little bit.

Anyway, my new kitchen "toys". Happy birthday to me, a few weeks early!

My dry staples will be so happy!

Spice rack-tastic!

Extra spice jars!

It's probably pretty obvious at this point, by my excitement, that I don't spend money on myself very often. I am really looking forward to having a well organized kitchen!