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I saw Jesus (or Caramel Apple Salad)

October 19, 2012 2 comments

I served this tonight at a birthday party for my daughter. Upon tasting it, one of my dearest friends announced “I saw Jesus.” This is a variation of the popular snickers salad. This is what happens when you live in a rural area and the store you drove 10 miles to get to doesn’t have the right flavor of pudding mix. Apparently it was meant to be, because it was a religious experience.
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 tbsp vanilla
15 miniature snickers, diced
6 taffy apples with nuts, sticks removed, cored, and diced
1/2 c miniature marshmallows

In heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Slowly add in milk while whisking and turn stove on to medium heat. Whisk often until pudding thickens and coats the back of a spoon. You don’t want it to be really runny but it won’t get as thick as packaged pudding either. Cool for a few minutes so that the snickers bars don’t melt when they hit the sauce.

Place snickers, apples, and marshmallows in a large bowl and stir in pudding mixture. Chill at least two hours, covered.
This was part of a My Little Pony party. We also served fruit arranged in a rainbow (Strawberries, peaches, pineapple chunks, green grapes, blueberries, purple grapes), white cheese cubes to signify sugar cubes, carrots and dip, and hot dogs. Then of course there was cake and cupcakes. We had lemonade with orange slices floating in it and coffee to drink.

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How to throw a kid’s birthday party for under $75

September 16, 2012 3 comments

First of all, get a pinterest account. Learn how to use it. My parties have gotten a million times better since I did. If you don’t want to do that, then google image is your best friend. Heck, it is even if you do use pinterest. Do research and plan ahead. You can come up with so many ideas using things you already have at home and this will not only save you a fortune but your party will look better for it.

My son turned three today. The party was yesterday. The theme was Sesame Street, mostly because I found invitations that were still in the package for a quarter in June. Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of those but it’s not like I did anything to create them. However, you can go online to a site like this one, where I printed almost all of my printables from, and they also have invitations. As long as you or a close friend has a printer with ink in it, and you have printer paper, you have free invitations.

The first thing we do when I throw a party is eat.

Obviously the things you have in storage are going to vary from what I had but here is what I did. The plates and napkins came from Wal-mart. Grand total for that was (I believe) $2. The forks were in my stored party supplies. We didn’t need spoons or knives. The glass the forks were in came from my cabinet. The tablecover was left from last year’s Wizard of Oz party. I already owned all of the dishes. The picks in the sandwiches were leftover from my daughter’s sweet 16. So were the cups. If I had it to do over with these trays, I would have used shorter cups and left bowls of extra dip on the side but it made the house full of toddlers happy so that’s what matters.

The food was:

A veggie tray designed like oscar the grouch with broccoli, carrots, black olives, and a red pepper slice; The eyes were homemade dill dip (sour cream, fresh dill, seasoned salt).

A fruit tray designed like Elmo with strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, and goldfish crackers in a cupcake wrapper for the nose; the eyes were vanilla yogurt.

Tea sandwiches made from regular white bread (I normally use whole wheat at home but one white bread sandwich won’t hurt anyone), deli ham, and mozzarella; there were no condiments on them because it was easier than pleasing everyone.

I don’t think I spent more than $50 on food, total.

The pasta salad came from a recipe at http://makedinnereasy.com and was called Mediterranean orzo pasta salad. As a side note, if you’re looking for a menu planning site, this one is awesome and free. I’m not getting anything to say that. I truly do feel that way. I haven’t cooked anything yet from her site that I didn’t like.

Here is another photo up close of the veggie and fruit trays.

Of course you have to have something to drink when you throw a party so we had Rubber Ducky punch. The container was one I already had but I bought it fairly recently for $10. It’s a worthwhile investment but I think one with a stand would have been better. At any rate, the punch is half of a gallon of blue hawaiian punch, one liter of gingerale, and half of a quart of pineapple sherbet. The rubber ducky was in the toy box. I cleaned it up and floated it on top. You will want to make sure you use one that has never been in water, though. Those little plastic toys are a breeding ground for black mold once they’ve been in the tub. You can buy a new one for a dollar at any store with a toy section.

Next we played games.

First we played a guess-how-many game. I used one and a half boxes of dots, partly because of the rainbow color and partly because they were cheap. The jar doubled as a centerpiece for the cake table. The fabric and ribbon were in my craft room and the jar was left from a jar of something-or-other that my mom gave me.

My adorable niece won the candy and I used the candle later for the cake.

The next game was Oscar’s trash toss. It involved construction paper, a box, and pieces of paper. It was completely free since I had everything already. Pardon this really crappy photo. I didn’t intend to show this one here but I didn’t get any others.

Our sweet little friend won this one. She won a package of tootsie pop candies that I found for 89 cents.

Then we did Stick The Nose On Elmo. Again, completely free!

Big sister won this one and she also got tootsie candies.

Next up was the cake. Learn how to decorate cakes. Seriously. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Even if you buy a cupcake decorating kit and learn how to make frosting swirls, you will save so much money. The price the stores charge for cakes is ridiculous when you find out how much it costs to make one. The cost of labor doesn’t have to be factored in when you do it yourself.

I explained the cakes more in depth at my other blog, but the cost is figured in to what I mentioned earlier about the expense of food. The plate that the cupcakes are on is something I already owned and the tablecloth is a cloth one I have that I use during the holidays.

Then we opened presents. This didn’t really involve anything I had to make. Big boy got lots of cool presents and it really made his day. His favorite thing was a firefighter costume that he still hasn’t taken off.

We handed out treat bags with an Elmo theme. The bags have been in my cabinet longer than he’s been alive, and the labels all came from the website I mentioned above. I split one box of crayons that I had bought with school supplies between all eight kids, and split one package of goldfish crackers. Everything was wrapped in tissue paper and either taped or tied with ribbon from my stored party supplies. So… maybe $2 was put out for this?

If I had it to do over, I would have used plastic bags or something for the crackers because the grease soaked through, but I don’t think the kids cared.

The only other thing I didn’t get a photo of was the sidewalk. I had one of my older kids write the letter P and the number 3 all over it with sidewalk chalk for a cute entrance.

Disclaimer: Not only am I not a photographer by any means but my camera battery is dead and I can’t find the charger. These crappy photos are only meant to show you what I’m talking about and are not, by any means, intended to look professional.

Random Tidbits About The Week

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m really bad about updating this thing, I know. I have plenty I could say but I always feel like I should have some sort of angle, and not just a day log. I have Facebook for short blurbs and after I’ve posted a few of those, I’m out of things to write about in depth. I guess I’ll post a little daylog so I can at least say I updated.

We got our taxes back the other day so we put a down payment down on a 2012 Chevy Cruze. We were going to buy a used car outright so we didn’t have a payment but then you never know what has been done to it beforehand, there’s no warranty, the gas mileage is never as great as it could be, and it’ll probably have to be replaced in a year or two anyway. Better to have a car payment, in our opinion, and have a trustworthy car that’s good on gas that hubby can use for work. The savings in gas over driving our van makes up for at least half the car payment anyway. Plus, I won’t have to car shop with him next year. I love that. You have no idea.

So far, we love the car. It is easy to maneuver, is great on gas, and as long as the older kids are busy, we have plenty of room for the three youngest. Lots of trunk room, considering it’s a compact car, and it’s… well… cute. It came with 3 months of XM radio, which we’re really liking, and 6 months of onstar that I hope we never have to use.

In other somewhat-related news, kid 1 is in drivers’ ed. She passed her permit test and went out driving a few times with the teacher but now she has to go out at home for at least 3 hours or she can’t drive with the teacher again. Hubby does not want an inexperienced driver driving the new car, which I understand, so we took the van tonight. She did really well for an inexperienced driver that’s barely 5 feet tall and is driving a conversion van at night. Her only really big error was mixing up the gas and brake when we backed out of a driveway but there was a reason why I took her through the country. (Well, other than the fact that we live in a town of 500 and there’s not much other than country here.)

Hubby’s birthday is Saturday but he has to work so I made him a cake, complete with marshmallow fondant that I didn’t screw up. There were a couple of small errors but it was nothing like the last time. It’s a red velvet cake with cream cheese filling and frosting (under the fondant) and the fondant is blue with white stars. It looks like it’s meant for Independence Day so I played it off because he thinks that me dressing up like Wonder Woman would be hot, so I told him it was a Wonder Woman cake that I didn’t have gold for. That, and that I always liked Abe Lincoln.

I also had a t-shirt made for him with the two littlest ones inside a tv and a caption that says “Our dad is awesome” and a keychain that says “The OURLASTNAME Family” and has a caricature of each of our faces. I got it all for the cost of shipping through Vistaprint. They always have awesome deals. If you get a chance to get one of their freebies, do it. They’ll constantly be sending you more freebies from there, or at least nearly free offers.

We went to the mall today and I got taken for way too much money for a case for my ipod touch, but I really like the case so I’m going to eat the cost that I didn’t have to spend and be happy about it. We stopped at Bath And Body Works and got some body wash and hand soap for the bathroom since we were running low. We wandered around a bit more, then let the little ones play in the play area for a half hour or so before we left. I had a bad headache and they have this little convenience store in the mall that sells those packets of two advil, tylenol, etc. I got a Scooby Doo sucker for kid 4 and a Penguin sucker for kid 5. When we were leaving, we were in the elevator and some woman was talking to the kids about their suckers. She said she watched Scooby Doo when she was a kid. I cracked a joke in which I said “I still do, but not by choice,” and everyone laughed except her. She said “Oh I have a choice. I sure do have a choice.”

First of all, lady, it was a joke. I am well aware that I can turn the channel. I don’t really even watch it myself because we play it in the van. I’m not in the back. Still, it doesn’t matter. It was a joke.

Second of all, I’d rather pick my battles. I don’t see the point in being a jackass about the tv and not sharing it if your children request watching a show. No, I’m not going to let them take it over, but if it offers me a little quiet time and it makes them happy, big deal. By showing me you’re the big, bad, tough parent that won’t take any shit, you really just look like a jackass.

Third, fuck you. That is all.

So that ruined the good time I had at the mall, even though it shouldn’t have because she was just an idiot.

All wasn’t lost, though, because we went to Goodwill after that and bought a bunch of records for our new record player, and I got some containers to put candy in for kid 1’s candy buffet for her Sweet 16. I only got 2 for now and I will need more but I have lots of time to keep my eyes open for more.

Speaking of that, I got her dress in the mail yesterday and I’m absolutely in love with it. I’ll have to shorten it about 5 inches because she’s so tiny but I expected that. It’s black and strapless with a bright pink sash around the waist. It has straps so she can have spaghetti straps if she prefers but it seems to fit her fine and I don’t think she’ll need them.

I still have a long way to go but that’s why we’re working on it ahead of time.

I’m sure I could come up with other random tidbits but this already got quite long, so I’ll leave it at that. Hopefully I can come up with an angle for a decent blog entry soon!

Sweet Sixteen (almost)

January 27, 2012 2 comments

My newest adventure is to plan a Sweet Sixteen party for my firstborn. It’s hard for me to imagine she’s going to be sixteen already. In fact, the first day I sat down and started pinning ideas, I cried most of the day.

The deal we made was that I get full planning privileges over this party, and when she gets married later, I promise not to interfere and will only help when asked. Because I didn’t get a Sweet Sixteen party, I admit I’m living vicariously through her. I wanted a fancy party with me in a pink dress and white gloves, with dancing and walking in on my father’s arm. I didn’t get that, but she will.

I guess the best way to explain it is what I’ve already told others. I’m going to be throwing a Quinceneara for a white kid. I don’t speak much Spanish and while I do have partly Hispanic children, she’s not one of them. But that’s where we’re going with it, except she’ll be sixteen instead of fifteen. I’ve never seen that My Super Sweet Sixteen show, and I know what I can afford to do wouldn’t compare but in our world, it’s kind of like that.

So now that you know where I’m going with it, I can proceed with the details.

After much thinking and measuring and debating, along with a few calls and emails, I managed to find a venue that happens to be like four doors down from my house and she’s only charging me $30 for the use of the restaurant, not including whatever our food comes to. She doesn’t have the ability to cook a seven course meal for forty people but I’m okay with meat and cheese trays. I’ll be watching her specials to see what she comes up with between now and then. For instance, she has a pulled pork dinner that has potatoes and carrots and a roll or something and that’s $6.95. We probably wouldn’t do that one, but a dinner like that, in that price range wouldn’t be bad. Otherwise, like I said, meat and cheese trays and some salads or something would be fine. I guess in that sense, it’s kind of country chic but whatever. Our friends and family are just happy to have a meal that tastes good. They don’t need top dollar meals.

There isn’t an actual parking lot, but it’s a Saturday afternoon when all of the businesses on our street will be closed and people can park down the side street, too. It should be fine. Even though we’re looking at about 40 people for the first party, many of them will be more than one person to a car.

The down side is that the cafe is a tad small so we had to cut the guest list in half. However, since we live right down the street, we can invite her school chums over after the formal party and they can have a dance. She’ll have her closest friends at “the” party but everyone else can come later. It made it easy to cut the list that way. Just have another party!

So that means I’m essentially planning two parties but I’m okay with that. I have more ideas than I can fit in one party anyway and I won’t have another sixteen year old girl for five years after that.

Back to the first party:

This is my cake inspiration. The stripes will be pink and the roses will be fondant. I’m probably only going to do two tiers. The stripes will be on the bottom and the solid white will be the top one, but that second stripe of smaller beads on the second tier won’t be there. I might make a couple of fondant music notes to prop up there. Husband is going to make a cake topper that looks like a music staff with a cleft and the numbers 1 and 6 on it. (If he puts it off too long, I’ll just put fondant roses on top, but the music notes would still give it a bit of personality.)

We’re going to get satin table covers in fuchsia and then cloth napkins in pink. I’d like to have water glasses and carafes on the tables too, but I’m not sure yet. I’ll be folding the napkins into a folder type fold and tucking a poem about growing up in each one. Then each place setting will have a tealight in a little tealight holder (most likely dark pink) that will act as the favor, and then whatever the centerpiece is. I’m leaning toward artificial flowers.

Her dress is still waiting on word from someone else, but I believe I found mine on ebay. It’s a burgundy strapless dress. We’ll see if I win. Hers most likely won’t be pink but it won’t clash either. She’ll need elbow length gloves and shoes still.

I found an adorable idea for a card box that looks like a boombox. I’ll have to figure out how to put that one together later. The placecards will be ovals with a ribbon pulled through the back and trimmed so it looks like a piece of candy. Then I’ll either have the guests sign stones that she’ll keep in a container on her dresser or a mat for a photo. I’m leaning toward the latter.

We’re going to have a sweet sixteen ceremony, as well, at the dinner. She’ll be brought in to Sixteen Candles, and then when we do the candle lighting ceremony, she’ll do the changing of the shoes from flats to heels and then dance to Then They Do by Trace Atkins with Hubby. I intend to have paper napkins near the cake. Those in attendance may want to make sure they have a stack for this. Then they should hand that stack to me as I openly weep and get another one for themselves.

Once that party is over and we’ve cleaned up, we’ll head back home for the dance party. Anyone from the first party will be welcome to come dance around at the second but I imagine those without kids would rather head home. I’ll be using an ipod for the music because it is still my house and a deejay would be a bit much. We’re going to have a candy buffet, pink punch, and cupcakes. The cupcakes will be in zebra print liners and they’ll have bright pink frosting and black bows.

I’m still thinking over the lighting but the dancing will be in what is typically the toy room. I’m thinking about Japanese lanterns and white Christmas lights across the ceiling but I don’t know how that will work so we’ll see. I need to get a curtain for that room, but I need to do that anyway. Between now and then, I’ll have to download enough music to last a couple of hours and make kids her age happy, and I’ll also have to figure out what she’ll wear, since I’m going to assume she won’t want to wear a formal ballgown for that.

I also want to get some chair covers and sashes for my dining room chairs to make them more “themed”. I can probably just make that. I’ll use a coupon for Joann Fabrics and get some muslin and then get the satin for the sashes when it goes on sale.

I think I have pretty much everything planned in my head. Now I just have to start making purchases. Our taxes should be in within a couple of weeks so we’ll start then. I won’t be able to pay for the food right away but I can get everything else and store it on the porch. I’ll probably keep any candles in the closet so they don’t melt but everything else can go out there.

Expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming months, and expect me to be completely lost after September first, because it’s going to be like planning a wedding and then not having anything to plan. Good thing Christmas comes a few months later. I can just dive into that!

Birday birday to you

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday was my birthday. I started out a little annoyed but I tried very hard to stay positive and not declare my day a wash. I was on solo kid duty with the kids until 10:30, which wasn’t ideal for my birthday when I’m convinced I shouldn’t have to do anything but sit here, but reality isn’t like that so it is what it is. I spent the morning thanking everyone that sent me a Facebook birthday wish (over 70 by last night so more than half of my list)

After hubby got up, we ran to the grocery store so I could get brussels sprouts for my traditional birthday dinner. Every year, I have pork chops, potatoes, and brussels sprouts. Then we stopped at the cafe down the street and had all you can eat tacos for lunch. I ate three.

Hubby messed up his shoulder somehow so we couldn’t really do anything else. We came back home and he rested on the couch for a while before work. He left around 3:00 like he usually does and kids started coming in after school. Kid 2 had gotten bullied at school and Kid 1 told me there were kids waiting at the park for him so they could finish the job but when I stomped over there, they took off. I wonder if it was the rage on my face or the phone in my hand that was ready to call the cops on the little jackasses. Either way, problem solved temporarily. We’ll see what happens Monday.

Kid 2 left after that to go stay at a friend’s for the weekend. Someone that lives close to us made the trip to the old pastor’s house, which is about two hours away, and she took kid 2 with her. Not before he cleaned the bathroom upstairs, though. One less thing I had to do.

I made dinner around 5:00, and then caught wind of a deal on Zoya nail polish where I could get two bottles for the cost of shipping. I picked out two and threw in a third that I paid for myself. I’m getting Kym, Charla, and Tanzy. Or at least I think I am. More on that later.

I called my friend for the first time in over 3 years (the last time we actually talked on the phone, versus texts or internet forums, was when kid 4 was born) and told her it was too important not to call about. I scared her at first because she thought it was about her sister that was traveling, and then when I told her about the nail polish code, she got really excited. Anyone else would have been really annoyed by me making it seem like an emergency but she’s my co-addict nail polish junkie and she considered it just as important as I did.

Funny that she thought it was her sister, because probably a half hour later, my doorbell rang, and surprise, it was her sister! She and another friend were on their way to Chicago to go to a concert but they dropped in to say happy birthday and give me birthday gifts. I got some really comfy, soft, warm pajamas that I’d have worn around the clock if I didn’t have to go back to the store earlier today. It’s a blue tank top and I guess you’d call the pants minky, with words all over them about snow and such. Super cute! I also got a framed copy of a photo that our friend took of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis. The photo was taken at night and (I know nothing about photography so bear with my description) the lights on the cars look like neon because he slowed the speed down. I absolutely love that shot, and they remembered. That meant a lot to me. The I-35 doesn’t have any significance to me personally, but it is the bridge that collapsed a few years ago, if you followed that story. It has been rebuilt and, well, looks really cool at night.

It wasn’t long once they left that kid 1’s best friend came by with her mom to pick up my kid and take her for the night but when she came in, she brought me a cake and she not only made a cake that’s edible (the first of three that she has made that I can say that about) but she used fondant, and she did it perfectly. The cake looks like a little pillow with pink edging, and then she put a cupcake on top of it with a fondant 33. She really did an amazing job, and especially for someone that’s going to be 15 next month.

I ate cake and ice cream for dessert, then got the kids showers (because they ate it too) and put on my pajamas. I decided on a whim to check my bank account, and noticed that vonage charged me over $100, even though they said my account was suspended and they weren’t going to charge me until I gave them new card info. I knew I had to pay it eventually but I was told I had a contract and that I’d have to pay the balance until the end of the contract, so I just let it be disconnected (or so I thought) and was planning to pay it all off when they had a final bill. Nope, didn’t work that way. Not only did they charge once for the back-bill but they charged a second time for this coming month. When I called to cancel because I’m not falling for this again, I was told that I didn’t have a contract after all, that I couldn’t get anything refunded for this month, and that I could pro-rate it if I decided to take a $9.99 a month for life phone bill. I don’t want that. With my phone and internet bundled, I pay $15 a month less for the whole bill than I paid just for internet, and then I’d have to still pay Vonage on top of it, and their customer service is absolutely awful. So… no. I hate being sold to when I’m pissed and trying to cancel something. So then the guy was like “Well I’m just trying to help you.” No, you’re trying to get a commission, fucker. Your company got enough money for something I’d have canceled months ago if I had been told the truth about the contract from the start.

So that put a damper on my night but I tried really hard to get over it. The only thing is that now I don’t know for sure that the nail polish order went through. I never got anything saying it didn’t, and I got an order confirmation email, but there’s only $3 in the account that I use for online stuff now. So I have no idea.

Outside of that and the bullying against my kid earlier in the day, I really did have a great day. I absolutely love my birthday. It’s probably my favorite holiday, and in my mind, it is a holiday.

 

Categories: Special occasions

3+3=6

January 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Made ya look.

Six is my lucky number and I’m turning 33 on the 6th. So 3+3=6 and that means it’s going to be a great year.

I met an old friend for lunch today. We have been in contact for a long time online and I’ve bumped into her in public but that’s about the extent of it for the past 14 years or so. Well I’m going to be in her wedding in August so we met for lunch and then went over to David’s Bridal to get me sized for my dress.

We ate at Panera and then talked and talked and talked. Everything from memories from when we were kids (we go back to the 8th grade) and our respective exes. Her son’s father and my ex-husband were roommates, which is how I met my ex. I think she feels a bit of regret because she kind of hooked us up. It was kind of cute, the way she looked at me after I told her I expected more of her ex too, and she said “Wow, we were really naive.” Yes, but we were so very young. We were teenagers. We had a long way to go before we were mature enough to make life changing decisions but we made them anyway. We both got great kids out of the deal, but yeah, it was kind of dumb of us.

We talked about our kids and our new(er) men and the plans for her wedding and the things I did at mine that might be helpful to her. We talked about people we knew from school and where they ended up. We just talked. It has been a long time since I sat down with a friend like that and just… talked. No kids to chase or interrupt, nobody else there that I had to explain backstory to. And it sort of felt like we picked up where were left off. It helps that we have Facebook because we’re not really that far behind, but it was a nice feeling to just connect.

After we got the dress sized and ordered, I left her and went to my in laws’ where hubby was with the little ones. Kid 4 helped her Nana make chocolate cream pie, and we ate some of that and visited for  a couple of hours. Hubby took his dad to the bank and then when he came back, we went to Applebees. My wonderful friend Cara got us a gift certificate for Christmas so we applied that to birthday dinner. We had an ultimate trio that we shared between us. It was steak quesadilla towers, spinach artichoke dip and chips, and boneless wings. Each of us had a drink. I had a margarita and hubby had an Alabama Slammer. Then I had apple pie for dessert. Neither of us was very hungry since we had eaten earlier so the appetizer hit the spot and by the time I ate the pie, my stomach felt like it would explode.

The service wasn’t that great, but that’s fine. We don’t go in there often enough for it to matter. The nice thing was that after our gift certificate was deducted, we paid $9.26 plus tip.

We stopped at the grocery store to pick up a 12 pack of coke and some plantains, then headed to a bar we go to often and had one more drink. We headed back to the in laws’ to get the kids, and they were both content. Kid 4 told me she didn’t want to go home as soon as I got in the door and she threw a tantrum when we had to leave with her. She was determined not to go home but we bribed her with Horseland and she calmed down.

I had a really great day and if this is any indication of what the rest of the year I turn 33 in will be, I’m excited for it.

Categories: Special occasions

Christmahanukwanzukkah

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday was a really nice day. My mom came over in the morning and we had lunch together. It was a bacon wrapped pork roast, broccoli slaw, deviled eggs, and au gratin potatoes, then we had candy cane cheese pie and homemade cookies for dessert. It was simple and I only made about half of the above list.

The kids got a ton of loot between us and both sets of grandparents, and also two of their aunts. With five kids, there’s too much to list everything. Santa ended up giving them (from oldest to youngest) a phone, another phone, a baby doll, a marching drum and sticks with other instruments, and a vacuum. There is much, much more, but I’ll spare you.

I got some really nice gifts, too. I would have been happy to just make others happy but it was nice to be thought of. I got a better sewing machine, a 52 ounce refillable mug for the gas station by our house, a container of English Breakfast Tea, an immersion blender (always wanted one of those even though I didn’t ask), a wok (again, didn’t ask but always wanted one), storage bowls, a gardening set, an oven mitt with a brownie mix inside, and a lottery ticket. I didn’t win anything on the ticket but that’s okay. I’m content with what I did get.

Dinner at my mother-in-law’s ran late as always and we didn’t eat until 8:00 so nobody really wanted to hang around for dessert by the time presents were opened. We brought our whole pie home, as well as a big chunk of pineapple upside down cake, a lot of our cookies that we took with, and a mess of other leftovers. I didn’t cook at all today and tomorrow there will be a big salad to go with whatever I do cook.

We got home at around 11:00 and Kid #5 had trouble going back to sleep. Once we got him down, I went to bed and didn’t get up again until 9:30. Then I ended up taking a nap this afternoon. I finally feel a little more human. I just needed the rest. The cold I’ve been dealing with the past few days is easing up and I think with another night of sleep, I’ll really be on the mend.

We missed lighting candles last night for Hanukkah so we made up for that tonight. We have one more night tomorrow night so tomorrow is when the kids get their “big” gifts. It’s not anything that big, really, but they got plenty for Christmas.

We did the first night of Kwanzaa tonight, also. We didn’t do the exact traditions as outlined by my friend and the internet when I consulted them, but we made it work. We worked together to weave mats out of construction paper. There were 4 so we’re using them as regular placemats. We don’t have a Kinara either so I cut one out of construction paper and taped it to a door. We also didn’t have the right color of paper for the candles (no green) so I used white and wrote the English words for the principles on them in the appropriate color crayon. Tonight’s principle was unity and I think working together to make those mats signified unity more than anything else I would have come up with. From here on, we’ll do an activity each night, talk about the principle, and add a yellow “flame” to the paper Kinara. It’s the best I could do on the fly when I’m broke from Christmas, but it was definitely something that brought us together and that’s the point of Kwanzaa (at least partly).

I really feel like I’m offering the kids a lot here by offering them knowledge about other cultures and making these traditions a part of our family. They like it, they enjoy the experience, and we’re making family memories together. All in all, I really like this, even if 11 days with overlapping holidays does get pretty hectic!