Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The First Day of Christmas...

As I mentioned in my last post, I am "spreading the wealth", so to speak, when it comes to Christmas gift-giving this year and giving my gifts to one relative for each day of Christmas.

Today, Christmas Day, is the day I decided to give my mom her gifts! 

Mom doesn't like the picture, but I love it! I got her the movie called The Way and the newest Mitch Albom book, The First Phone Call from Heaven. Mom is a connoisseur of any and all Mitch Albom books and specifically requested it. The movie, on the other hand, was something I found myself. We watched this movie at church the other night, and I fell in love with it. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for something different! It is mostly a drama, but it has its comedic moments. I've included links to both in case you're interested in either! Merry Christmas! :)

12 Days of Christmas, for Real

I haven't been up to very much over the last few weeks, mostly working between the quilt store and babysitting, so I'll spare you the rundown of my life for now :) 

For whatever reason, I just didn't have it in me to do much Christmas shopping or any real Christmas preparations for the better part of this past month. Maybe I was being lazy or procrastinating or I just didn't feel like dealing with huge crowds of people, I'm not sure. I digress. 

I guess the real reason that I didn't feel like Christmas shopping this month was that I wanted to celebrate Advent for the season that it is, and save Christmas for its rightful time. Call me old-fashioned, Scrooge, or disagree with me if you want, but that's what I wanted to do this year. I think that it really served me well, because instead of being ready for Christmas to be over as soon as it arrived because I was immersed in it for an entire month, I am now able to see the beauty of Christmas and enjoy it in its entirety! (Which is until the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th, in case you didn't know)

As it turns out, I have 12 relatives in my immediate family...we're just going to ignore the fact that there's 13 counting, 12 relatives, 12 Days of Christmas, you do the math, and I think you see where I'm going with this! To help myself celebrate the entire season of Christmas, I will be doing my gift-giving on each of the 12 Days, saving one person for each day! I'm not going in any order or theme to match the song, I'm just giving each person their gift when I think the time is right. I can't wait to see how this works out!!

As a spoiler alert, my Day 1 gifts will be to my mom. As Mary was the first one to hold and care for the Infant Jesus, my mom was the first person to know, love, and care for me. I'll let you know what I got her after we open presents tonight :)

Meanwhile, enjoy some wonderful pictures from Mass last night! Merry Christmas, everyone!

After everything this year, I am SO blessed to have another Christmas to spend with Mimi!

Speaking of moms, I love this picture of two of the best mothers in the world! Beautiful!!

The five big boys in front of the Manger scene at church

We FINALLY have a picture of all six boys!!!

Wyatt, Andy, & Jakub...isn't he growing up!!!

Cody, Kyle, & Cole, looking handsome as ever

I almost got a picture with all 6 nephews, but I still love this picture!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday News

It seems a bit unprecedented for me to be posting without a month-long gap, but it’s just a testament as to what I am able to do when I’m not bogged down with schoolwork!

We had a slightly later celebration for our family Thanksgiving, which coincided with Kyle’s 7th birthday. It was a great day, and, even better, we had great weather so the boys could all go outside and run, throw, and shout to their hearts’ content! Sadly our celebration was sans Jeremy & Andy, as Andy came down with a short-lived stomach virus and Jeremy opted to stay home with him. Mimi came over, so it was a blast to get to see and talk to her! I’m not sure why, but Cole was Mimi’s shadow all day. Of course, we had more than enough food to feed our clan, but I think that we almost could have sufficed to just have the chicken noodle soup course. The boys pretty much made a meal out of that, as they didn’t quite understand the concept of multiple courses…Oh, good times!

Cody & Kyle looking handsome, as always!

Cole, Kyle, and me :)

This is how Cole spent the majority of the day, right with Mimi

Cody is quite the natural at holding and caring for Jakub :)

After what the boys deemed as “forever”, we began our celebration for Kyle’s birthday. He decided that he wanted cheesecake instead of regular cake, so that served as our dessert. Emily made a delicious original cheesecake, and I made a birthday cake-themed cheesecake, which is definitely a keeper! He received lots of fun presents, including his first fishing pole and a football. So far, I think seven is suiting him well…Happy Birthday, Kyle!

I added the 7 on top for some extra pizzazz...apparently Cole was amazed by it too, as can be seen by the fingerprints on the left edge of the cake!

Happy, happy birthday to Kyle!!!

The highlight since I have last posted is the apparent “snow-pocalypse” that came across the area this past week. The storm came in on Thursday, when I didn’t have class, but thought about going to campus to take an online test. I thought better of it after talking to a friend who lives in town and told me that the roads were bad in town, so I stayed home and watched the Carrie Underwood “Sound of Music” remake.

As a note, you might know that “The Sound of Music” is my absolute favorite musical, and I really wasn’t sure if I would like the remake or not. Since there really wasn’t anything else on TV, I gave it a chance. To be honest, it was okay, but I still prefer the original. I know that they really couldn’t do some of the scenes, as it was a live production and to recreate the scenes from the Alps would be a bit unrealistic. My only real beef with it was that they played lots of the songs out of context. The ones that especially irked me were “My Favorite Things” and “Eidelweiss”. I mean really, they sang the puppet song during the storm scene in Maria’s bedroom, (which is my favorite scene, btw) WHY would you do that?! Being that it was Carrie Underwood’s first acting performance, she did a fantastic job, but seriously, guys, don’t mess with a classic! (In all fairness, I preferred the way they “got rid of” Baroness…or Frau Schrader in the remake—They said that she was a Nazi sympathizer and Capt. Von Trapp, being the Austrian patriot he was, was vehemently against that…and head-over-heels in love with Maria. It makes much more sense than having her mysteriously disappear because she knows that he has the hots for Maria!)

I digress! I pretty much spent all day Thursday and Friday cooped up in my trailer, trying not to go stir crazy. Usually, I crave solitude but when it’s just you, it gets old after a while. I watched gads of movies, including the Smokey & the Bandit movies, Pitch Perfect, Forrest Gump, and Mean Girls, plus many more that I can’t remember right now! I managed to eat a whole 8x8 pan of brownies and drink an inordinate amount of coffee. Oh yeah, I also decided to do some deep cleaning, since I really couldn’t do much else with my life during that time. The moral of this story is that I need to bring more of my books and rainy-day activities like crossword puzzle books to my trailer, so that I can keep my sanity next time! (No, I didn’t have any homework that I could work on or really even any finals to study for!)

During this snow storm, I learned the hard way that there is no winter road maintenance down here at the lake, as we still have lots of lovely, icy roads down here. Bedlam really couldn’t have come at a better time, because it meant that OSU & Stillwater were all over getting the highways and campus-adjacent roads cleared off. It really makes contending with the slick roads here much more bearable, when I know that I have clear roads awaiting me once I get to the highway!

So, obviously, I have to mention Bedlam. I have lots of highs and lows from the whole experience, so here goes! I’ll start with the worst first, as we say in one of my classes. Obviously, losing when we were the favorite was pretty rough. I had never experienced a loss at a home game yet, and Boone Pickens Stadium was an intense place afterwards. All of my friends who are seniors were really bummed to have to end their time of attending games as students on a home Bedlam loss that could have given us the Big 12 Championship. And it was cold!!!! In all honesty, I wasn’t that cold during the game, as I had on 3 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, 2 pairs of socks, snow boots, 2 coats, 2 pairs of gloves, ear grips, and a stocking cap, plus Hot Hands packets and Toe Warmer packets. Really, I was only cold on my face, and I fashioned my scarf to cover my face for most of the game! I felt a little bit like that kid from A Christmas Story who goes out in his snowsuit, but I could actually move fairly freely! :)

I’m pretty sure there was a black market for Hot Hands, as it was next to impossible to buy them on Saturday morning. I was told that, honest to goodness, there were ticket scalpers selling Hot Hands with their tickets. I am thankful for my friend Sara, who hooked me up with Hot Hands because I shared one of my body warmer packets with her at the Baylor game!

We did have a nice indoor tailgating breakfast at church before the game. This was a definite plus because it saved us from having to pay $8 or some other exorbitant amount for a tub of popcorn at the game! We had a large group who went to the game; I think there were 14 or 15 of us sitting together at some point. Games are always much more fun when you go with a group, as opposed to just one person! Maybe this is just a culture shock for me, but the student section seating is not for the faint of heart. I inevitably always end up sitting in front of some drunken frat guys who think that they should either be an ESPN commentator or Mike Gundy and don’t hesitate to scream all kinds of profanities. It’s a good thing that no children are sitting in the vicinity, as I would not want them to be exposed to their behavior. With that being said, you can imagine how all of the “bros” reacted to our loss; now just multiply that by 1000, and you might have a better idea of the postgame atmosphere inside the stadium. Yes, I’m disappointed that we lost, but I don’t really see why people thought it was necessary to throw ice/snow/popcorn/Hot Hands packets on the field/at players/at refs after we lost. Let’s just say that Bedlam really brings out the worst in everyone, Sooner and Cowboy alike. I am glad that I went, though! I really did have a great time up until the last 2 minutes :)

Our big group during halftime!
Front Row (L-R): Thomas, Amanda, Andrea, (I can't remember the next 2 people's names), Jeff, Sara (Amanda's sister), & Lisa
Back Row (L-R): Ryan, Libin, Me, Anna (she's kind of hidden behind Andrea's head), & Kevin
Right now I am in the midst of my first finals week at OSU, and it is going quite well for me! I only have 2 real finals and 1 attendance-based final (aka show up, watch presentations, and go home). Of the 2 finals, I was only halfway concerned about one of them, which was Linear Algebra. I took that final yesterday, and I’m not sure how I did, but I’m over it! I feel pretty good, but it’s hard for me to get too terribly stressed about anything after my experience with Physics last year. My next final is tomorrow, and it is for Adolescent Psychology. It shouldn’t be anything stressful at all. So, I am essentially on the downhill slide this week! Hallelujah!!!

Since I wasn’t too stressed about finals week, I decided to do something fun for all of my friends. We have a tradition of having Wine & Cheese nights, which are essentially just another excuse for us to get together, but differ in the fact that we go to someone’s house and have a classy meal with wine, or a non-alcoholic alternative for the two of us who are still 20 :) I’ve been to quite a few and decided that it was my turn to host. It was a dual purpose night, because it also served as a “thank you” to everyone who helped with my video, since I can’t realistically pay anyone for their time…and they did an AWESOME job! After some hemming & hawing, we decided that it would be a great adventure to have dinner here at my trailer. I feel like nature was trying to plot against us, what with the snow and bad roads and everything else, but I couldn’t have asked for a better night! I’m starting to think that hosting get-togethers is just ingrained into my being, because I loved the entire process!

It was the first time that I have ever entertained here, and it definitely won’t be the last. The menu was a bit sparse, now that I think about it, but we had lasagna, garlic bread, and Kool-Aid pie, and they were a hit! I was hesitant to bake in my oven, because it’s more frustrating than it should be, so I decided to seek out a recipe on how to make lasagna in my crockpot. Thank goodness for Pinterest, because that’s how I found my new favorite way to make lasagna!!! It was a hit, and it was a perfect way to feed everyone! Here's a link to the recipe in case I piqued your interest! My Kool-Aid pie was a hit as well; even better, it’s super easy! I've included the link to this recipe in case you're needing a quick dessert for a Christmas party!

The night was absolutely perfect with lots of great food and great company! Even better, there was just enough food that everyone had plenty to eat, but not so much that I’ll be eating lasagna for weeks! We had lots of laughs and great conversation!
Front Row (L-R): Nick, Kevin, William, & Me
Andrea is laying across everyone in the middle!
Back Row (L-R): Anna, Rebecca, Lisa, Mari, & Ryan
It probably took us a solid ten minutes to get this picture perfect, as we used the self-timer on my camera and sat it on my counter, but it was a reflection of how great our night was! I couldn't ask for a better group of friends!! :)