Saturday, December 24, 2005

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

This is our tree. I still can't get the hubby to put the photos of the house on my computer, but at least you can get a glimpse of our new house. This is a portion of our great room. Next year we need to get a bigger tree. I want the angel up to the ceiling!

According to NORAD, Santa is just entering North American. He'll finish up in South America before he hits the US. My kidlets are so excited. They can't wait for Santa. Of course, we had our family Christmas this morning at my parents house and Santa really doesn't need to show up tonight. Every year I ask that my family (parents, sister and brother-in-law) keep the toys to a minimum. Every year I'm ignored. This year my parents gave each of my child 5 gifts not counting the Gund Pooh tied to one of my youngest's gifts. I lost count of the gifts my sister and her hubby gave them. I appreciate their generosity, but does my five year old really need a decorate your own hermit crab world? What exactly is a hermit crab? And is it something my cats are going to want to eat?

It's become a tradition for them to pick toys that will annoy me. I'm not kidding. One year it was a real toy vacuum cleaner that when turned on made so much noise it scared the cats and had the neighbors wondering what was going on inside our little house. This year, a monster truck that plays "We are the champions" while lights blink and flash wins the award. Though the American Idol Barbie that sings and stage comes in second.

Holiday traditions can be both frustrating and comforting. When we used to have a big Christmas dinner with all of us together, it just wouldn't be right if the fire alarm didn't go off while my mom was cooking or if they television wasn't on with my dad reclining in his Lazy-boy watching football. Going through the photos taken this morning, the TV is on with a football game. Some things never change!

A tradition I've carried over to my family is opening one gift on Christmas Eve. After we get home from Mass and have eaten dinner, we each get a gift to open and every year it's the same thing--pajamas. The kids still don't realize that each year they get pjs on Christmas Eve. I'm wondering when they will remember!

Other traditions we've developed over the years:
1) Driving the track at the Portland International Raceway to look at the Winter Wonderland Lights
2) A visit and picture with Santa Claus
3) A box of Mrs. Prindable's caramel apples from QVC
4) Advent calendars full of chocolate
5) An Advent wreath to light each night
6) Dinner at the Rhinelander for all the December birthdays
7) A walk through the Grotto to see the lights and puppet show
8) A walk through Zoolights at the Portland Zoo (though the weather and illnesses have made this a sometime tradition)
9) Watching all the Rankin-Bass holiday shows, Holiday Inn and It's a Wonderful Life
10) Reading The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger (the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the donkey)
11) Tears at Christmas Eve Mass (tonight only two of the kids cried. That's better than all three!)
12) A birthday cake for dessert on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Broken arms and naked bottoms

Two more days until Christmas. The cards are in the mail. The ham is in the fridge. A few groceries need to be purchased. About a third of the presents still need to be wrapped. We're all slowly recovering from a nasty cold. And one scene of the new proposal has been written!

Things are quiet in the house right now. Two of the cats are asleep under our bed. Another is asleep under the tree. The kidlets are sitting at the table coloring wood ornaments for family members. But about ten minutes ago I thought we would have to make another trip to the ER. My son was running around, in socks (my fault, I know), and slipped on the hardwood floor. He went down on his upper arm. Needless to say the amount of tears and level of screaming suggested something serious like a broken arm. I managed to get him on my lap and my daughter, only seven but a dancer who wants to be a vet, grabbed the ice and then brought me the phone. Luckily it was more drama than true injury.

All three kids seem to have a flair for drama. Though my youngest might just be the comedian of the family. For several months now, she has been doing her naked bottom routine. She shakes her bum and sings, "Naked bottom, naked bottom." The older kids think it's hilarious. It is! Though I imagine she'll be pretty embarrassed come time for her wedding rehearsal dinner and we put together video clips from her childhood.

I'll be back tomorrow. I already know the subject-holiday traditions!

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Sorry for not posting. I've been busy. The house is still full of boxes, but I have made some progress unpacking and getting ready for Christmas. The tree is up and finally decorated, school is out for the rest of the year, my daughter's Nutcracker performances are over and I've addressed all but three of my Christmas card envelopes. I even finished my revisions!

I have a new title for NOT SO PLAIN JANE. It's now called PLAIN JANE'S PRINCE CHARMING. I also have a new release date--November 2006. Yes, I killed myself to make the November 1 deadline so I could have an October 2006 release for nothing. Oh, well... No one ever said being a writer was ever easy or fair. At least I had six weeks without having to think of anything to write for the blog.

Waiting for the revision letter for the book to arrive was hard. I was happy with the story, but you just never know. Turns out I was sweating for nothing. The revisions were minor and very doable. Plus they made the story better! I had to answer a couple of questions my editor had, make a couple clarifications, tie up a thread I introduced but never followed through (oops!) and rewrite the resolution (my choice after reading the editor's concerns/suggestions). As I read through the manuscript, I found a few more things to change, but it wasn't as much as I thought it would be! YAY! Not that I ever want to write a book this quickly again!

Oh, and I got an idea approved for my next book. The working title is MARRIAGE FOR BABY. The proposal is due January 13th so I'd better get busy on it!

So here's my holiday To Do list:
1) Get pictures of the new house to post on the blog
2) Copy the Christmas Letter and buy stamps so I can mail Christmas Cards
3) Wrap gifts
4) Finish shopping
5) Make menu for Christmas Dinner and Dessert
6) Put all the boxes from Christmas decorations away

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Playing House

We have finally moved into our house. Sunday was moving day! My parents took the kids (sickies and all) so my hubby and I plus our mover Travis and three of his workers could finally get us out of the apartment. The cats arrived Sunday night around 10:30 pm. The only things left in the apartment are some clothes, our television, DVD and VCR. My kids were devastated when the TV did not make the trip, but I had a good reason. (Though the kidlets would disagree.)

Anyway we can't get cable hooked up until the 13th and there was no way I would miss LOST or Invasion even if it meant sitting on the floor and watching in the dark so I said we couldn't move them until Thursday. Of course, my good pal and writer Tori Lennox emailed me that LOST was a repeat and Invasion wasn't even on so I got to stay home tonight!

So about my new house. It big and beautiful and I love it. There's one doesn't feel like our house. It's much too nice and I feel like I'm playing house. That at any moment another family is going to walk through the door and tell us to get out!

All my Christmas stuff is still in a storage facility near our old house. I must get it out. The kids keep asking when we can put up a tree! Do you already have your tree up and your house decked out for the holidays?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ears and throats and antibiotics

I have not one, but two sick children. My third child is upset because he isn't sick. Needless to say, I'm not getting anything done. And I have lots to do. An idea for my next book has been approved and the proposal is due in January. Our house is finally ready and we're supposed to be moving in this weekend. And then there's Christmas. Usually by now, our tree is up, the advent wreath is on the table and my Department 56 villages light up the mantle and shelves. But everything is boxed up in storage. So we bought a new advent wreath and three of the chocolate advent calendars. Fingers crossed we find the Christmas decorations sooner rather than later when we unpack.

I actually got a good start on my Christmas shopping. Thanksgiving night I pulled out my catalogs and started ordering. Then on Friday morning, I woke up at 5am and hit four stores by eleven. I didn't see any fights, but one woman was near tears in Toys R Us when the toy she wanted was sold out. Thank goodness for eBay!