The major down, for us at least, was discovering that our phone service has gone wonky -- we can make calls out, but anyone trying to call in just gets a couple of bursts of static and then silence, and the phone doesn't ring at all on our end. That wouldn't be too big of a deal -- we hardly ever actually use the house line, and if that was all there was to it, we might consider just dropping it entirely -- but whatever is wrong with the phone also seems to be affecting our DSL line, and making it dump us offline every fifteen or twenty minutes, which is really quite frustrating when we live online as much as we do.
So Matt called the phone company, and they have just about the worst customer service evar. The first time he called, he did it from the house line, and they told him they couldn't run remote tests if we were actually on the phone, which... I guess makes sense, but the person he was talking to (after ten minutes of navigating the horrible automated menus) couldn't give him a direct-line callback number. So he had to hang up and get on my cell phone (his is pay-by-the-minute, whereas I'm on a plan and never use all my minutes) and then navigate the horrible automation again. This time it walked him through some diagnostics via automation, and eventually told him to hang up, unplug all the phones in the house, and then try plugging them back in one at a time.
Well, we still have the problem even with no phones plugged in, so he called back a third time and told the automation to go eff itself until it offered to send out a service person. "The earliest available appointment is on... December... ... ... 15th, between 8 A.M. and... ... ... 6 P.M."
Oy. So I'll be working from home on Wednesday so that someone can be there to let the phone guy in. And in the meantime, our internet is a bit spotty.
But on the bright side! We had the first of the moon cookie parties! Braz and Adin and all four of their kids came, and everyone over age 5 was allowed to make 3 cookies each (well, Emma, at 9, was allowed to make 4 and she got to handle her own knife to trim the dough) and then Braz and Adin and I used up the rest of the dough.
(I didn't get pics of the kids making cookies, alas, because pretty much the whole time the kids were working, I was being asked to finish off Penny's cookies for her. Maybe I'll get some pictures next weekend.)
Adin was quite enthusiastic about the cookies, too. Another moon cookie fan, yay!
In case you're wondering, while we were making cookies, Matt was keeping the kids entertained.
We went out to dinner afterward, of course. And then Sunday, when I mentioned to Adin that the kids had left some stuff behind, she suggested we all meet up for dinner that evening, so that's what we did, and that was nice.
And we came home and got the kids in bed, and then Matt and I watched the new Leverage episode, which was completely awesome.
So it was, all in all, a pretty nice weekend! Phone/internet issues notwithstanding.
This week promises to be busy. I've got a software delivery to organize for work, and as mentioned, I'm working from home Wednesday. Thursday I'm going out to lunch with "the girls" at work, and that evening is the 2nd grade holiday concert. Friday is my office's holiday luncheon (they decided at the very last minute that there would be one, after all. I'm glad I didn't get tagged to organize it!). And then Sunday is the second moon cookie party -- which will be more party-like, because we'll have the Hickseses and Leslie and Jeff and Elizabeth and Lorenz all along for the fun. (And since Leslie and Lorenz are our only moon cookie newbies, I expect we'll blow through all the dough very quickly. Though with that many people, we might need to make 2 batches to make sure everyone gets enough cookies...)
What's this? A blog post two days in a row?! Someone alert the presses!
So here's a funny thing: I'm not done with my Christmas shopping yet, though I'm getting there. The next three weeks are insanely busy, between work and social stuff planned and Christmas activities and everything, and aside from the moon cookie parties I haven't figured out when I'm going to do any of my holiday baking. Due to a stupid mistake I made in calculating my vacation time, I'm only going to be able to take off one day (besides Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, which are company holidays), so I'm not really getting a vacation. I had a heart attack the other day when I looked at our joint credit card bill -- we seriously need to cut back on the frequency with which we're eating out -- and that bill didn't even include any of the holiday purchases. As happens around the holidays, my diet is slipping, and I've gained about five pounds since mid-October. (That might have some relation or at least overlap with all the eating out.) Penny's blood sugars are all over the map, and we can't seem to get her to stay in range or calculate a correction that works as advertised. (That, too, might have a bit of overlap with the eating out, though it's a sure bet that's not all of it.)
I should be going off my head with stress. I should be pacing and frantically consulting my calendar and making mildly OCD lists and charts and growling at Matt and the kids for being less than helpful.
But... I'm not. I'm really not. (Okay, I am occasionally growling at the kids, but y'know... they're kids. Sometimes they make me growl. I'm pretty sure I'm not doing it more than usual.)
Instead of being anxious about when things are going to arrive, I'm feeling relaxed about it, and when something I've ordered shows up, I'm giddy with excitement. (I also can't seem to stop shopping. I swear, I can't set foot in a store without seeing something I just have to get for the kids. I'm forbidding myself to set foot in Target without Matt along to act as brakes for at least the next two weeks, because that store is just crazy dangerous, and if I pick up any more adorable little tchotchkes for the stockings, we're going to need to hang three stockings apiece.) But even though I'm bemoaning all the money spent, it's... not that big a deal. Yep, I might have to dip into the savings account a smidge. But that's what we've got a savings account for. And really? I'd rather dip into savings to pay off presents and fun than for, say, repairs. At any rate? I'm not stressing over it.
I've all but succumbed to holiday food and weight gain. I'm still trying to make better choices with meals, but by and large, I'm not kicking myself for eating treats. A buddy at work and I have made a pact to support each other with our new year's diets, and I'm... content with that. When 2011 gets here, I'll pack up all the junk food and have Matt take it to his office, and I'll get back on the wagon and track every bite and lose the five or eight or ten pounds. Better still, I like the attitude I have about it: this is what normal people do. Normal people eat a little more over the holidays, and have fun, and don't worry about it, and then they go on diets in January and February. It's not a big deal.
I can't say I'm entirely sanguine about work and not being able to take much time off, but I'm finding ways to make my peace with that, too. I told my boss that for the week before and after Christmas, I'd be working from home as much as I can. There won't be a lot of urgent work to do during that time anyway, and so I can break up the administrivia and the annual cleanup stuff with stuff at home, and be more relaxed about it all.
I'm not sweating the holiday baking. I have some I want to do. But I'm being more spontaneous about it than most years, and it's not going to bother me horribly if I don't get to it all. Last night, I roasted the fresh peanuts we got from our CSA. (I split it into two batches: one salty, one sweet. They turned out really well, though the salty were better than the sweet, in my opinion. At any rate, I'd planned to set them out for this weekend's moon cookie party, since that's the one Jess will NOT be at -- stupid peanut allergies -- but I'm not sure they'll last even that long.) I've got some cookies and some muffins I want to make. But I'll get to them. And if I don't... well, I don't.
All in all: I'm just sitting back and enjoying what comes as it comes. I'm ready to be social. (I wish I could go to a big party, actually, but I don't think either Matt's office or mine is having one this year.) I'm embracing the good feelings that go with the holidays -- the love and the cherishing of friends and family and the awe and enjoyment of everything beautiful and bright and fun and silly -- and just sidestepping the worry and the rushing and the stress.
If I could give each one of you reading this a gift, it would be this feeling. If I could ask for only one gift, it would be that this feeling stay with me all the time.
It probably won't. I'm too much of a stresspuppy. But I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
The good news is that we've interviewed and selected a candidate and offered her the position that I'm covering that's eating up so much of my time, and she's accepted! The bad news is that, due to a paperwork snafu, she won't be starting until Jan. 3. However, the last couple of weeks of the year are usually fairly slow, punctuated by periods of intense panic. I'd been counting on using those weeks to start getting our new person trained and up to speed on the bewilderingly similar glorp of acronyms and project names we all take for granted, but instead she's going get dropped into the crazy that is the start of the year. Ah, well.
At any rate, I hope to be back to regular blogging in the next few weeks. Maybe. Hopefully.
In the meantime, a little catch-up!
Thanksgiving was lovely:
And then we decorated for Christmas:
(I love this picture... Matt and the kids decorated the tree while I was doing the outside lights, and Matt suggested to Alex that he "spread out" a bit... so Alex valiantly put his ornaments on both sides of the branch.)
This past weekend was especially nice, I thought. We went to a Christmas parade Saturday morning:
And after that we stopped at Wasabi for lunch. Despite which, Penny's blood sugars remained on a fairly even keel all day! Yay!
We'd had plans to go see Santa that afternoon, but Alex's nap ran long (the parade had just tired the poor little guy out) and our Santa is only available from 11 to 4, so we just relaxed for the afternoon, instead.
Sunday morning, we woke to a light dusting of snow on the ground -- the perfect kind: just enough to get the kids excited, but not enough to mess up the roads. It was mostly melted, in fact, by the time we left to go see Santa.
As always, the New Town Santa was amazing. We were the first people there, and no one else had arrived, so Santa talked to Penny for at least 20-25 minutes before another family arrived. Alex flatly refused to sit on Santa's lap, but toward the end, he edged closer to Santa to accept a coloring book, and then threw caution to the wind and gave him a big hug. Santa happily posed for pictures, and his assistant willingly took the camera so we could get a family shot for the holiday card.
(This is not the one we chose for the card.)
Just outside Santa's spot, there was a bench where someone had scraped up probably all the snow in New Town and made a small snowman with it:
That afternoon, I took Alex to a birthday party for one of his school friends. It was at the new Inflation Nation here in town, and holy cow, that place is huge. I'd had to wake Alex up from his nap to go, so he wasn't actually interested in playing until about the last ten or fifteen minutes of the play-period, but he was All About the Elmo hat and Abby Kadabby whistle he got in the party room!
(This was only 1 of at least eight enormous bounce castles/slides/doohickeys.)
So now I think we're all caught up, more or less. I'm looking forward to this coming weekend, when we'll be having the first of two moon cookie parties. (We couldn't find a day when all our friends could make it, so we've split it into two. Given the number of people becoming involved in this tradition, it might even work out better this way.) The weekend after that is the second moon cookie party, and the weekend after that will be... Christmas!
Wow, it comes quick. No, I'm not done with my shopping yet. (But almost!)
So, what've you been up to for the last couple of weeks?