Dec 28, 2014: A Haphazard Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! Or Happy Hanukkah. Or just happy December. Whatever you celebrate, happy happy!

I must say, our Christmas has not turned out like I planned. Best-laid plans and all that…. However, that’s not to say it hasn’t been pleasant, in its own way.

Chris is lucky enough to get a paid week off between Christmas and New Year’s—his company is shut down. And because he had a few days of vacation saved up, he ended up taking a couple of days off before Christmas, too, resulting in about two weeks of time off. Woohoo! At first, we thought to plan a short getaway. But then my job situation took a dive, so we nixed that idea and planned a “staycation” with lots of fun activities around here. However, that has been somewhat changed, too. Sigh…

Remember I mentioned last week that there was a kid in Theo’s class who just seemed really sick when I volunteered on Friday? As in, he was hacking and coughing so badly that he was nearly in tears and thought he was going to vomit? Poor kid had flushed cheeks, glassy eyes…the works. Well, I was around this kid a while, and the next day I got sick. Who knows whether it was really from him, but he coughed a lot around me…and then I got sick. But for me, it just lasted a few days and wasn’t too severe. However, then Sam started coughing. He had croup, but no other symptoms—no fever, no runny nose, no nothing. Plenty of energy, too! Until Christmas Eve afternoon, when he suddenly started slowing down and had a bit of a fever. Sigh…

Not surprisingly, he woke up Christmas morning with the fever, so we had to cancel our plans to go to my sister’s house. My brother-in-law successfully battled oral cancer a few years ago, but obviously getting a respiratory virus isn’t such a good thing with all of the damage that was done to his throat. And illness wreaks a bit of havoc with my niece’s diabetes, too, so it just wasn’t worth the risk. I was really disappointed to miss it, though! I had been looking forward to seeing everyone. Ah well, it’s best we didn’t go. Sam’s fever didn’t end up breaking until two days after Christmas, so it’s good we didn’t expose anyone to it.

All that’s to say we’ve spent a lot of time at home since Christmas Eve. Which is nice, in a way—we’ve played some games, had a couple of fires in the fireplace, eaten yummy food (and some horrible food…more on that later)… Really, it hasn’t been bad. Just not what we had planned.

Anyway, I was in a bit of a funk over it all. First of all, I spent Christmas Eve talking to a child psychiatrist, which really wasn’t my idea of fun. (Read about that here.) Second, my birthday falls shortly after Christmas, and I had been looking forward to a one-night getaway with Chris, but we couldn’t make the babysitting work out, for a variety of good reasons. And in fact Theo has a Cub Scouts meeting on the night of my birthday, so I don’t even get to have dinner and cake with my family. I realize I’m 41 years old (almost!) and thus shouldn’t really care about my birthday, but I’ll admit it: I like my birthday! I don’t need to do anything fancy, but I like to celebrate it in some way. So on the heels of the failed birthday plans, Sam and I get sick, which throws our Christmas plans into disarray. And so, in my resolve to make the best of it, I decided that I was going to make homemade cinnamon rolls for my family to have on Christmas morning. I got my cousin’s grandma’s recipe, which she assured me she has successfully made gluten-free, and I set to work.

Um, yeah. They were awful. Not just a little bit bad, but truly awful. I think they’re the worst things I’ve ever made. I didn’t understand how to work with the yeast, and I think that was my downfall. They tasted like lumpy sawdust. So, so bad!!

I made the dough on Christmas Eve and was fretting over it. I finally got them rolled up, cut, and placed on the baking sheet, and I said, “Dammit! These don’t even look like cinnamon rolls!” To which Chris gamely replied, “No, they actually look like pork chops!” Gee, honey, thanks…that’s just what I was going for! 😉 He then told me, “Don’t worry about it, honey! They’re gluten-free, so they probably wouldn’t taste good even if you’d gotten the yeast right!” So helpful, that husband of mine. (Okay, he was right, but still!!)

The next morning, upon baking the “pork chops,” I realized how truly awful they were. Chris insisted, “They’re not that bad.” And here, you see, he was lying. Because they really, really were. They were the awfulest of the awful. It was only later that night that Chris admitted, “I don’t have to be nice about them anymore. Please, please don’t make those again. They weren’t good!” Ha—I knew it!!

I think I placed so much emphasis on the damn cinnamon rolls because I seemed to have no control over anything else about the holidays, and I’m a control freak at heart! But all was not lost; I finally pulled myself out of my mopey, crabby mood and ended up really enjoying the day.

Thank god for the grocery store near us, which happened to be open for several hours on Christmas Day. I ran over and got groceries so we could throw together a makeshift Christmas dinner. (I typed “makeshit” just then, which could apply very well to those damn cinnamon rolls!!) While I was there, I swung by the bakery and picked up donuts, because we deserved something delightfully sinful after those godawful cinnamon rolls, which we took all of two bites of!

And then the four of us took a walk, played with new Christmas stuff (well, the boys did), and generally enjoyed a very low-key day with a tasty dinner of turkey breast, roasted veggies, cheesy potato casserole, and Brussels sprouts. Oh, and homemade sweet potato pie, which I did not ruin!

The boys had a great day, I think. They loved their presents, and Sam’s train set (from Santa) is a big hit with both of them. As just another thing I couldn’t control with regard to Christmas, we tried to put together the train on Christmas Eve night, after the boys went to bed, and we discovered that the table we intended to put it on was too small! So we had to jerry-rig a card-table atop one of Theo’s small tables and put it on that, which was somewhat ridiculous but at least worked. Two days later, I scored a $150 train table for $15 on one of my “treasures” sites where people sell used items. Woohoo! It fits the trains much better; I’ll have to take a picture of the new-and-improved setup.

Chris got me the most beautiful sign to hang up, about Down syndrome. You’ll see a picture of it in this week’s gallery. He also got me an awesome George Strait CD that I didn’t even know existed. (Amazing for me, as I’m a huge fan! But I had no idea they had produced a CD of his farewell show in Dallas a few months ago. We saw the farewell tour twice and loved it, and I love the CD from it!) Such thoughtful gifts from him, and you know what he got in return? A cast-iron frying pan so he can continue doing the cooking. (Because y’all know what happened to my damn cinnamon rolls!) And also a scrub brush, so he can clean his pan when he’s done cooking food for me. 🙂 You can tell who the romantic in the couple is, can’t you? But seriously, I have a slightly sweet side! I bought him the pan that has the special silicone grip for the handle so he doesn’t burn his hands when he uses it! Sweet, right? Yes, dammit! That’s as mushy as I get!

I also got him a cookbook that my friend recommended to me. Lately, we’ve been eating more vegetarian, mostly due to budget cuts after my work debacle, but also because I’m just not a huge fan of meat anyway. Chris would make it and I’d eat a couple of bites and then give the rest to him and fill up on veggies. (Why aren’t I thinner??? Oh that’s right—I adore chocolate.) So our meals have been pretty veggie-based lately, and Chris has been talking about vegetarian recipes. My friend, who’s a vegetarian, recommended that I check out The Thug Kitchen. She warned me that the language is pretty coarse, but said if that didn’t bother me, the recipes are great and use everyday ingredients that aren’t terribly hard to acquire.

So anyway, I got the book for Chris, and I have to say, we are both cracking up while reading it! The language is indeed quite coarse, but some of it is downright laugh-out-loud funny. I was reading a recipe for pumpkin chili in it, and it had a footnote somewhere along the lines of, “You can use canned pumpkin if you’d like, but if you make a mistake and used canned pumpkin pie filling, don’t come crying to us when your chili tastes like shit.”

Anyway, if you’re interested in vegetarian recipes and you don’t mind a fair bit of foul language, the book looks pretty promising! (Note to self: Do not leave the book where Theo can find it, since he now knows how to read!)

Given that we were still rather quarantined after Christmas, we took down the tree and our decorations the day after Christmas. I was sorry to see it go, because I love having the decorations up, but the tree was already very dry. And it seemed like we might as well do it since we were stuck at home anyway. This way, when Sam is feeling better, we won’t have to waste a good day taking it down.

By Saturday, Sam’s fever had broken, but he was still rather crabby and not in the best of moods. We were all going somewhat stir-crazy from having been cooped up at home, but we didn’t want to expose anyone to Sam if he still had the last bits of contagion, so we decided to go out to a nice open area where the boys could enjoy themselves but Sam wouldn’t be in close contact with anyone: the tiny park at our local airstrip. It’s right at the junction of the two runways, so you can watch the private planes taking off and landing. And they have a speaker in the park where you can hear the control-tower conversations, which is fun if you’re an airplane geek like me. It was chilly but nice to be outside, and the boys spent a little time there before Sam crashed for a three-hour nap in his car seat. Poor tired boy! He was much improved in mood and temperament upon waking from that, so I think he’s now on the mend!

So here we are on Saturday night, and Chris still has one more week off left. What do we plan to do? First, visit Grandma Diane for a belated Christmas with her. Second, spend $700 on new tires for the van. (ARGH!) And third, take an overnight trip to Monterey with the boys, if both are well. We decided since our staycation plans and birthday plans were so foiled, we’d treat our little family to one night away. We’ve wanted to go back to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a long time, and I found a great rate on a hotel room on New Year’s Day (when, oddly, the Aquarium is actually open!). So if Sam is indeed on the mend and Theo doesn’t pick up the crud, we will salvage our two-week break with a very short hop down to Monterey!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Ours turned out to be lovely despite all of the mishaps…though I may be forever scarred from the cinnamon-roll debacle!

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