Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas 2013

Luckily after I last posted the Christmas spirit found me. Just in time!

Whew!

We had such a fun Christmas this year. Likely thanks in no small part to me just turning my frown upside down. 

I went to the gym on Christmas Eve, then came home and cooked/baked. I made two of my favorite Christmas cookies from my Grandmother's recipes! Once I was done baking I left the sugar cookies out to be frosted by Matt, Iris and Eloise. They did a great job!



After dinner it was time to open the Christmas pajamas, the Christmas game and our ornaments. Then we all settled in for the girls (and my!) first viewing of A Christmas Story before tucking the girls in to bed. Matt and I then crammed all the gifts under the tree and sped off to bed ourselves so that Santa could come!

Showing off their pajamas and the family's ornaments.


Santa was here! He brought the kittens a bunch of things and a couple of small things 
for the girls since he knew we already got the girls their biggest gift.

Merry Christmas from Inky!

Christmas day was so, so lovely. It is always very low-key for us as we like to stay home, just the four of us. It was a beautiful day, but we stayed in and had a yummy brunch (pumpkin pancakes, eggs, sausages and bacon) and dinner (homemade mac-n-cheese with bacon, turkey and salad). In between we hung out and played with new Christmas toys.

I got a Keurig! Man, this thing is AWESOME. 

Hi from Opal! 

Eloise's gift from her sister. 

My dad made the girls cabinets for their American girls' doll clothes. Well, theoretically. 
So far Eloise uses hers to store all sorts of other things (see above). 

Matt and I had a fun conversation about our family goals for 2014, mostly focusing on whether or not we want to sell or remodel our house. We NEED something better suited to our family! We also decided that Christmas 2014 would be spent at a resort in Mexico, so I am already working on those plans. If you have ever been to a family-friendly resort in Mexico, give me your recommendations on where to stay!

My favorite Christmas gift! Matt and the girls made this medal rack for me. 
I love, love, love it!

The day after Christmas we loaded up and headed to Yakima to see Matt's side of the family. We had the most lovely time ever. It was Matt's parents, his sister and her husband and their two year old daughter and her husband's mom and his mom's boyfriend. After we arrived we all visited, then opened gifts, then had dinner. My mother-in-law was so darn smart, she had a catering company make us a HUGE turkey/ham dinner and they delivered it, still warm, right at dinner time! 

The next day I headed out for a morning run/walk. It was my first time running 4 minutes to my 1 minute walk, so that was fun. It was so cold, 19*! Later in the day we did a little shopping at Target so the girls could spend their Christmas money and I could check over the post-Christmas clearance section. After dinner (I had leftovers about thirteen times while I was there!), Iris and I had a special date together to see Catching Fire. We had finished reading the book on Christmas night, so the story was very fresh in our minds. Despite leaving out so many of the juicy details that were included in the book, the movie was amazing!

And then, on the morning of the 28th, the girls and I packed up and headed home. Matt stayed in Yakima an extra night to help out his parents with a few things. We had a really fun drive home. Heidi, our dog, rode shotgun (she is usually relegated to the rear of the car) and Iris was our DJ for the trip. Add on a stop at Starbucks and a gorgeous trip over a mountain pass and you have the recipe for a perfect drive!

My co-pilot. Note: picture taken while in the Starbucks drive-thru.

Typically we don't take the tree down until New Year's day, but this year I took it down the second I got home because I was sick of the kittens messing with it and all of the space it takes up.

Now Christmas is winding down. I have eaten my weight in cookies and other sweets, and am ready to leave the holiday behind and move in to the new year. Bring it on!

How was your Christmas? 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Blah Humbug

I am not sure exactly why, but I feel very . . . blah about this Christmas. It's not that I don't want to be excited and have energy to embrace the holidays, because I do want to, I just don't have it in me for some reason. Not exactly sure why? I was about to blame it on how awful I've felt since we brought the kittens home, but truth be told, I lost my Christmas mojo even before those adorable little furballs joined our family.

Each year I traditionally do an advent calendar for the girls, a pretty well thought out one, at that, but this year? Nothing. I told the girls I just didn't have the energy for it and they seemed okay about it. Last year we went to the Nutcracker, for the second year in a row, and I was so darn sure I would make a tradition out of it. But this year? Nope, didn't do it. I didn't put the tree up, Matt and Eloise did, though likely I would have done it if they hadn't. 

Let's see, what else can I whine about? Usually we do gingerbread houses on Christmas Eve, but this year I asked the girls (well, I only asked Iris) if it would be okay to do them the week after Christmas since we'll have much more time on our hands then. They (and by they, I mean she) was okay with that. When I told Eloise about it today she was bummed. The Santa gift will be a little uninspired this year, since the kittens were the "big gift" and they already got those. Santa came up with something fun, but it won't blow the girls' minds. Kittens under the tree would have blown their minds, but that just was going to be way too difficult to pull off. 

Today as the girls and I wandered through Trader Joe's I oggled all of the Christmas cookies, wanting to pile my cart full of them all. And why? Well, if you had guessed it was because we made no cookies ourselves, you would be right. Technically Iris made like a dozen cut-out cookies with her friend last week but I was too sick to help much that night and they gave up about 1/8 of the way through rolling and cutting. I only bought candy joe-joes today, however, because the idea of having TJ's cookies for Christmas depressed me even more than having no cookies at all. Usually my parents and grandparents are good for shipping a couple of boxes of homemade cookies in the mail, but not this year. We're going to have bake our own if we want any, which will leave us with far too many cookies, and which always, always leads to me eating about 75% of them myself because I have zero self-control. 

Today was also the day that my annual "holy shit, I should have bought the girls WAY MORE CRAP!" guilt hit me. It's a good thing I was home all day with both girls or else I would have been playing Supermarket Sweep through the aisles of Target. Does this ever happen to you? You thoughtfully purchase things for your kids, picking stuff that is fun and affordable off of their lists, but then in end you look at what you bought and decide that your effort was piss-poor, and that if you were a better parent you would have bought bigger gifts/more gifts/more expensive gifts and then layer the guilt on yourself a foot thick? Maybe it's just me? We've reminded the girls a lot of times that they already got their big gift (the kittens), so I hope they are just as excited on Christmas morning as they always are. 

Tonight I decided we would go see the neighborhood Christmas lights. Some folks around here do it up BIG. You are dead right if you assumed our house has no lights on it. Yep, another Christmas fail. Our girls are bummed about that, too. 

Here is Iris admiring a teeny tiny portion of a ginormous display:


How is your Christmas season? Hopefully more exciting than ours? 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas, Kittens and Running

It has been QUITE the week. Luckily, I think the biggest chunk of holiday craziness is now behind me. Having family out of state means shopping, packing and shipping presents to several different places, and I panic it will all get there on time. It would seem my early panic served me well, however, because presents have already safely arrived at their destinations. BOOM. 

As far as shopping for the girls . . . every single year I do this thing where I really sort through the gift ideas, and thoughtfully shop for things, then I always, always end up over-spending and giving more than I intended to. So annoying! It's always just fine in the end, but I get annoyed with myself for thinking I am doing so much better each year, when really? I'm not.

So, those kittens. Oh, they are the sweetest things ever. Want to see for yourselves?

Exhibit A: 

O.M.G.

The kittens have been doing really well, overall, and are settling in nicely. They had a vet visit last Monday and it turned out that Opal, the gray one, had a kitty cold. She is on medication, including an eye ointment that she LOVES me sticking on her eyeballs twice day (or not really). This morning Inky, the black one, woke up with one of his eyes all messed up, so we think he caught the cold, too. Of course, the place we got the kittens from didn't tell me until today that the place they originally came from had a wicked virus going around the cats. Oh, gee. THANKS. While I am annoyed at how awful the place was where we got the kittens, I am glad that we can take care of them and get them what they need to get better.

The one thing that has been really difficult is that it turns out I am allergic to these little buggers. I have never had more than a mild reaction to cats in my life, and only when I pet a cat and then touch my eyes. So the fact that I am having a full-blown allergy attack now is beyond frustrating. The hardest part is when I have a hard time breathing. My naturopath is helping me out, though, and I am confident that we can find a solution that lets us keep the kittens and doesn't leave me feeling like I'm going to die every night. So far Zyrtec doesn't seem to help, neither does the quercitin I am taking every day. Luckily I got an inhaler, which has come in handy. 

And, last but not least, I have been running a little again! My PT has me on a plan where last week I did a 1 nin run: 1 min walk plan, going through each five times. This week it is up to a 2:1. Next week 3:1, then 4:1. After that I should be ready to run continuously for 15-20 minutes. I only get to run on softer surfaces, like a turf soccer field, a track or a treadmill, but it's a great start. 

Do you have your Christmas shopping done? 



Sunday, December 08, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Christmas

This year for Christmas my girls both had the exact same thing at the top of their wish list: a kitten. 

As any parent of a child who begs for a pet knows, by and large the answer to these kinds of a requests is a "sorry, we can't". Our home has been cat-free for over five years, since my beloved Benjamin passed away. We have been waiting for the right moment to bring another cat in to our family . . . and finally the time felt right. Matt and I were both excited about the idea, and the more we talked about it, the more excited we became. We quickly jumped on board with the idea of two kittens, since two cats for two girls is easier than one cat for two girls . . . and because we had heard that kittens very much like to be in pairs. 

Matt and I went around, and around, and around about how exactly we would surprise the girls with kittens for Christmas. How do you literally put them under the tree? Should the girls get a kitten IOU and then pick one out themselves? It was a tough call. 

I went to speak with an extremely knowledgeable volunteer at PAWS Cat City in Seattle's U-District last Wednesday (I posted that sweet picture of Alexander!) and left more ready than ever to bring cats in to our home. After some more discussion and a few more phone calls to cat rescue places, Matt and I decided we couldn't wait. We surprised the girls early and told them we were going to go look at the kittens at a nearby rescue on Saturday. 

While our overall experience at the nearby shelter was much, much less desirable than it was at PAWS, we did end up adopting two amazing kittens. It was a little hard for me, because while we stressed that it would be a family decision, we did end up going with the two the girls liked the best. They weren't the two Matt and I would have picked, but now that they are home, we adore them, they are awesome little kittens with cool personalities and perfect temperaments. 

I introduce to you, Opal (the gray one, a female) and Inky (the black one, a male)!

Opal meeting Heidi for the first time. Both kittens seem super cool with the dog. 

Opal asleep in Eloise's arms. Eloise and I stayed in PJ's all day, 
which was perfect for being on kitten-duty. 

Opal and Inky asleep on Iris's favorite blanket. Inky especially LOVES this blanket. 
He kneads it and kneads it and it's so darn cute. 

Opal seems to use Inky as a pillow. Inky seems to, uh, tolerate it? They hadn't been 
together at all until we brought them home and so far they love each other! 

We didn't have a single piece of cat equipment for these guys when we adopted them, so a quick-ish stop at our favorite local pet store helped remedy that.

As luck would have it, the amazing volunteer, R, that I met at PAWS on Wednesday is a cat groomer, and overall cat expert, and I emailed her when we got home from adopting the kittens. I was in a total panic, we were told NOTHING about how to care for the little guys! Luckily R was able to come over to our house today and spent a ton of time with us talking about kitten care, helping us know how to make our home safe, and she helped with the kitten's first foray out in to the house with the dog (they are staying in the bathroom for now). She basically rocks all around. If you are in Seattle and need kitten help, cat grooming help, or cat-sitting, let me know and I will pass along her info.

Before R left I joked that we got more instruction on how to take care of the kittens than we did for how to take care of a new baby. It wouldn't be funny if it wasn't true! 

So, expect to see a lot more of Inky and Opal around these parts! We're a little obsessed! 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Okay, I Just Couldn't Stay Away

A funny thing happened when I blogged every day for a month . . . I started missing it in the past few days!

December has been quite lovely so far. 

The first started with a bang-- my friend Heather and I (she was on my Ragnar team, it was so fun to see her again!) volunteered for the Seattle Marathon. 

If there is one amazing place to hang out, it's at a finish line of a half marathon or marathon. We got to witness people cross the line in every state from looking like they barely strolled around the block to collapsing the second the stopped moving. (Side note, there was an incredible first aid response at the race!) I loved looking at what people were wearing, what kind of shoes they had on, whether they ran with someone and hugged/kissed/raised their hands as they crossed the finish line. I know every one of those runners (and walkers!) had incredible stories of how they got to that moment. 

My two favorite moments were spotting my friend M and his wife D cross the line. I didn't know they were running, so it was a surprise to go over and hug them and gave them medals. Turned out it was D's first half marathon! Then my friend J crossed the line after running his first marathon! He did an unbelievable job, it was so inspiring. I screamed like an idiot for him and got to give him a hug and a medal, as well. 

Part of a huge rack of medals!

It has gotten very, very cold here in Seattle over the past few days. The girls and I are all incensed that it isn't snowing. What a waste of icy weather!

Taken on a 28* walk with my dog.

The other day I dropped in to a cat adoption center and met this guy. He didn't come home with me but O.M.G. he loved me. I loved him. It was true love. He also covered me in orange hair. 

His name is Alexander.

Today the girls got their teeth cleaned, and there were no cavities! I had to treat them to cupcakes afterwards. Of course.



The last exciting thing is that I "got to" run a little today! 1 min walk/1 min run, 5 times. I have run a teeny bit with my dog on and off during walks (like 1/2 a block), but that wasn't with permission. It was fun to be running "for real" today! No picture of that. Darn it!

How is your December going?