Well, Christmas is over and I can hardly believe it! Never have I ever been so busy. My usual favored Christmas activities didn't get done as I barely managed to keep my head above water, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that!
We were not expecting guests until the 22nd, so imagine our surprise when people started arriving on the 19th! Judy, Lucas, and Dottie arrived on Friday evening and this somewhat spurred us to action that perhaps we should get a Christmas tree. Saturday morning, the General and I got up and went down to the Roxbury Garden Center in Old Town F'burg and bought a tree there. It was/is much fresher than our usual Home Depot trees, but not as big. Still, I loved it and the people who work there were so, so nice to us and helped us bag it and mount it to the roof of the car.
Saturday evening my mom arrived, and by Monday my dad was here. Tuesday, the General and I had medical appointments--I went to the doctor at 8:45am and then we both went to the dentist at 2:45pm. You all know how much I hate going to the dentist anyway, so I decided I would just go ahead and get all the work done at once. And we decided to get the General's crown done as well, since they were having a special $200 off and we couldn't pass that off for his teeth!
Ok, so lo and behold with one thing and another--and some possibly worrisome news on my end (my x-rays show that I have an "abnormality" growing on my jaw and I have to go and consult with an oral surgeon)--we didn't get out of the dentist's office till nearly 6pm. Tuesday was the last day most people were working before Christmas, and traffic was akin to one of Dante's 7 levels of hell. My father didn't beleive me about sticking it out and waiting for the HOV lanes and thought he could do better in the main lines, which was a HUGE mistake. Finally when we hit Woodbridge, he decided to try Route 1, which I also knew was a mistake--traffic PLUS traffic lights! However, his blood sugars were dropping and making him dangerously unpleasant to be around and so at least on Route 1 we could stop at Thomas's and pick up pizzas for the crew when we got home. I called my mom to let her know we'd be home as soon as we could, and that was that. We stopped in at Thomas's, picked up some pies and calzones, and hit the road.
Unfortunately, as we were hungry, we bit into the calzones and the General's temporary crown broke in half and fell out of his mouth. Well, there was no way the dentist was open, so we were left with a dilemma on our hands of what to do next. There was no way to get back up north, and no way we were going to go back up there only to get back in the line of traffic. We decided to go home. I took over driving, and headed west instead of south, cut through the PW Forest on Rte. 619, hit route 1 below Quantico, followed Rte. 1 to Eskimo Hill in Stafford, shot off there and took 2 back roads to our house. We got home at 9:30pm. Judy and Lucas and Joe had just gotten back themselves from Dottie's doctor's appointment.
We sat and ate pizza and debated what to do about the tooth. I called the dentist and left a message that we'd like to come up first thing in the morning. Then as we got to talking, Judy suggested that since I'd left our car at her house, why didn't she drive us up north, we could stay over at her house, and then go to the dentist first thing and come home in the morning? So that's what we did. It was dead quiet up there, we got our car back, and hit the dentist's office at 7:30am. They didn't open till 8:00, but we got in at 7:45 and the General was the first person they saw. Fortunately for us, one of their office managers/receptionists lives in Woodbridge and felt our pain.
So now it is Christmas Eve, and as yet, I have not baked a single cookie. Good for WW, but not so good for me--baking cookies makes Christmas 'Christmas' for me. So we haul it home, I don't let the General eat any breakfast, and I get home, and Judy is baking cookies, my parents are out shopping, Lucas is on the Wii and Joe is hanging out. The phone is ringing like crazy with my mom calling to ask various questions, and the General goes upstairs. Well, as it turns out, Judy and Lucas had slept in our room the previous night and there was some stuff around the room. Judy ran up to move it out of the way and the General said something about his phone charger being unplugged. This sent Judy into a screaming burst of tears and she literally ran down the stairs, slamming doors, screaming and sobbing. In an attempt to make peace, I went down to see what the matter was, but she couldn't even talk, so I went back upstairs to demand some answers from the General, who thought Judy was laughing. So I took him by the hand and shoved him in the room with Judy to work out their differences. The cookies were burning, so Joe and I attempted to take care of that.
My parents got home, and my dad decided to take Lucas and head to Richmond to meet up with his girlfriend's family (my dad's girlfriend, not Lucas's). So they left and Judy and the General had rejoined us by now, and we all had lunch and then Joe and I headed to the store to get dinner--as Christmas Eve dinner is now traditionally my job, and I love doing it. We decided to make crab and shrimp stuffed mushrooms and Joe's famous linguine with shrimp. I was in charge of the mushrooms, so I got that stuff, and Joe got everything else. We also got some cheese and crackers for a little pre-dinner yumminess to go with the mushrooms, which the general was not going to touch.
My dad and Lucas got back around 3:30 and Joe and I started cooking. We ate and unfortunately, the General's crown fell out again. Fortunately, it didn't break this time, but I was so aggravated, and so was he. We had some "fix it" crown glue, so I put it on there and he put it back in. It seemed to hold OK, but I called the dentist and from their recording gleaned that they would not re-open until Saturday. I left a message that we'd be back up on Saturday, but I was inwardly fuming about having to go back to NoVa again. My sister, sensing imminent meltdown on my part, volunteered to take the General, and I agreed that would be a good thing.
By 10, I think most of us were in bed. Christmas came and went in a blur. We opened up our presents and had a nice breakfast. My dad and I went to Mass, my once yearly tip of the hat to Jesus. I hate the church down here--the masses are so overblown and all that singing drives me crazy. Just say what you want to say and shut up. Well, they announced who the priest was going to be and the old guy behind us said, "Oh God" and groaned, which filled me with dread, and rightly so. This dude wound up giving us a history lesson on the early history of the church, persecution of the Christians, and the heresy of the Aryans. He stopped in the midst of the prayers and didn't seem able to start back up again. Finally my dad leaned over and said, "Do you think he forgot the words?" which led me to giggle uncontrollably.
We got home and Mom was doing battle with dinner, so I helped out where I could. Dad and Judy were watching TV, everyone was just kind of hanging around. We took some pictures, as the General and i got everyone bathrobes for Christmas, but for once everyone was too hot, so they didn't stay on very long. The above photo was with the robes, below is without (obviously).
We had a nice meal, and then the General and I dug in and decided to fix my mom's computer, as she was leaving the next day and had had a major crash the day before. A lot of the files had been encrypted, so we had to figure out how to hack into the files from XP home, and I did so. Man did I feel like Queen for a Day when I got those files up and running :-) We backed everything up on a flash drive and restored it all to the hard drive, so everything was fine.
Meanwhile, my mom and sister were getting into it downstairs, having one hell of a screaming match complete with several creative curse words thrown in. The rest of us just stayed out of the way and everything was resolved.
Friday, my mom left around 10:30. The General and I had finished up with her computer that morning and I helped her pack up. She and little Sidney Pup were headed back to the warmer climes of Florida. My dad was buying me a new digital camera for Christmas, and I noted that the one I wanted was on sale at Ritz Camera, so he decided we should go and grab it. So we did. We took Judy with us, and I got the camera I wanted--a Panasonic TZ4 (thanks, Brian, for the info!)--and not only, but I also go it with 18 free camera classes, a warranty, free photos, and a free photo book, all for less than what it should have cost retail. What a sale!
Then the three of us hit Carlos O'Kelly's for lunch. And man, did we eat! It was the kind of meal you get only once in a blue moon, but it feels so good when it's hapening. I literally ate nothing else all day--just that meal. We had nachos and fried ice cream, enchiladas, queso, chips and salsa, and sopapillas. No doubt it used up my full points allotment for the day. We got home around 4 and Lucas and Joe were leaving--Joe to go home and Lucas to bring a load of stuff up to their place to get it out of our house--Dottie got tons of presents for Christmas--clothes, formula, diapers, toys, etc.
By 6:30, my dad and I were getting antsy. We had our annual trek to Richmond to the Ginter Gardens light show planned and we were hoping Lucas would get back in time to take care of Dottie so Judy could go. That didn't wind up happening, so close to 7, my dad and I headed out. The gardens were gorgeous and I got to play around with my new camera some. Most fun, Dad and I climbed into an igloo made of blue lights and we immediately looked like Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka.
On the way home, we stopped at the nearby BK. Last year we stopped there, and some jerk had parked so close to us that we couldn't get into the car and we wound up dumping my Sprite all over their car door for revenge. This year, we decided to hit the drive through and the guy manning the drive through talked like he had marbles in his mouth. We literally couldn't understand a word this guy was saying. And the more he talked, the worse it got and he seemed to be yelling at me for something. Finally, my dad busted out laughing, and I started laughing and we could barely get the order out. As it was, I cancelled getting my apple fries. I just couldn't repeat myself again. We are curious what the BK will have in store next year.
Saturday, we were all busy again. I went to Weight Watchers in the morning and Judy took the General back to the dentist. As it turns out, the General has something called a Class 3 bite, which makes temporary crowns all but impossible. (When the General bites, he bites hard!) Two different dentists were there to work on him. They wound up using permanent glue to attach that bad boy and we are now on day 3 without anything making a move. So we are hopeful. Dad and I went to the dump in the morning and then hit the Linens N Things going out of business sale. We spent $23 and wound up with a pile of stuff. I don't even know if all of it works or not, but I was excited to get it. On the way home, we went to the post office and he asked me about how much it would cost him to send Judy and I to tea. I made a guess, and when we got home, I called over to the new tea shop in F'burg, but they were closed, so we didn't get to go there. Instead, we went to Tea Thyme. We made that tea last for 2+ hours. It was a lot of fun. There was a group of women there, all with their little girls and we started dreaming of bringing our own daughters some day to tea after Christmas. We finished up and hit the Tea Thyme gift shop and then decided to go back to Linens N Things in case there was anything left worth having. There was not. We went to Borders and Old Navy and Catherine's as well. I got my new hat (thanks to all for the fun comments on it--I LOVE this hat!) Then we watched The Muppet's Christmas Carol, which was fun, and some Faerie Tale Theater, which is now out on DVD. I used to love it when we were little, so I got it for Dottie for Christmas, but I think her mother and aunt will be more interested in it than she will be. I set up a little photo shoot with Dottie in the afternoon to try the baby setting on the new camera. Now that she's a month old, she's not as pliable to my will--she has very definite opinions about posing for pictures. She also had definite opinions about wardrobe, but Old Navy had a little top and frilly skirt on sale that I couldn't pass up and I wanted her to wear it for her pictures, so I was determined she'd wear them. Finally, she acquiesced, but she screamed for a few minutes just to let me know she wasn't happy. The pictures came out great though, don't you think? (of course there are more on my flicker at http://www.flickr.com/photos/katekosior)
Then it was my dad's turn for a meltdown. He was making us meatloaf for dinner, and couldn't find anything. It turned out we were out of bread crumbs, which I did not know, and then he came upstairs yelling about us not having potatoes. (I was in the middle of my photo shoot and was kind of busy) I went downstairs to get him some potatoes and he was standing there with a bag of potatoes in his hand. I said, "What are those?" "Well, there are only five, how can I make french fries out of 5 potatoes?" They were 5 HUGE potatoes. I said, "Well, I'm not going to eat any, so don't worry about it. I'll make potato pancakes out of the leftover mashed potatoes."
So he was not happy about that but finally agreed. He also couldn't find a CD. I guess he was pretty pissed because he was still steaming about it yesterday morning and the General told him to settle down and that with 5 extra people in the house using stuff and moving it, I couldn't possibly be expected to know where everything is.
Sunday morning my dad left, and Judy and Lucas hung out till 10 (!) last night. We got the house kind of picked up and I helped them pack some. Judy and I went to Old Town and she took the pictures of me in my new hat. I'm finally starting to like the way I look in pictures, which is a huge step forward. And it feels good, too. I also took a picture of a mega-cool mailbox I saw while we were driving around. That was the excitement to be had in the burg on a Sunday afternoon.
It was clear Lucas was ready to roll after supper, which Judy bought and prepared for us as a "thank you" for our hospitality. Hilariously, she forgot to buy french fries for the General and asked me what to do, when I spotted the potato bag atop the fridge and discovered that my dad had only used 3 of the 5 potatoes. So she made fries from those.
Once they left, I spent about 20 minutes picking up a few things in the house, sweeping up dog food and crumbs, tossing the burned cookies into the trash, putting away papers and gifts, and making a "deal with it Monday" pile on the kitchen table.
So that was our Christmas. Of course, our Three Kings dinner is on January 10th, so I am leaving everything as is, decorations wise and furniture wise, till then. I think because we got a much smaller tree this year, we might even be able to leave the tree up, which is exciting. Last year we had to take it down.
Today, the General and I will be making another dump run (our 5th run in 2 weeks). We plan to meet up with Jacalyn and Doug and the boys for pizza and will go up to Alexandria for New Year's Eve, as they are supposed to have the best fireworks around. The General is going back to work on 1/2 for a day, so I'll get a day to myself at the end of this week, but honestly, we've just enjoyed today and last night immensely. It's been weird though too, and almost too quiet. It was a good holiday, just way too busy. I'm not sure what we'll do next year--I want to be able to enjoy my December more and do things like baking and decorating with a bit more joy in my heart. With doctor's appointments, book signings, old jobs ending and new jobs starting, the stomach flu, The General getting sick, people in and out, new babies, etc. it was a crazy month. Thank God for online shopping--honestly I don't know how I'd have gotten my shopping done without it!
Hope everyone else had similarly great holidays. I'm going back upstairs to snuggle with my honey. :-)
5 weeks ago