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Christmas 2017

Whew!  This Christmas season has been quite the whirlwind, let me tell you!  Now that I’m back at home, I finally have time to sit, reflect, and write.

Our Christmas celebrations were very different this year due to a number of things.  First of all, Rooster and his wife were 3,000 miles away.  We opened presents with them via FaceTime a few days before Christmas.  Second, the Mr. was on call this year, so we were stuck at home – a first, I believe, in all of the years that he’s had his job.  I guess we should count ourselves fortunate, eh?  Because of that, we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home.  Thankfully, Chicky had driven to our house on the 23rd, so we got to enjoy the holiday with her.

The Mr. got called in to work in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Day.  Poor thing.  He texted me when he was on the way home – my wake up call since I still wasn’t sleeping through the night.  I’d left the tree on all night so I could see it, in all of its loveliness, whenever I turned over in my chair.

He grabbed a few hours sleep when he got home before we opened gifts.

It’s a good thing that Santa got the message that we would be home this year.  He left our stockings under the tree instead of the usual spots at the in-laws’ house.

It doesn’t take long to open presents, even going one at a time, when there’s only three of you.  We had fun, though, and enjoyed the looks of surprise when each recipient discovered an unexpected or much-longed for item.

Chicky gave me a chopper that I’d read good things about on my Detoxinista Facebook page.

This thing does everything!  It even has an egg separator, a salad spinner, and an egg whipper, which I can use when making my aquafaba “eggs.”

The Mr. gave me these Vionic boots.  I’d tried on a pair at Dillard’s a few weeks ago.  He had found them on Amazon for much cheaper.  I cannot wait to wear them after I finish healing.

He also gave me a much-longed-for adjustable bench.  He’d hidden the box in the garage.

I also got a pair of workout pants, a cute little Auburn shirt, and a couple of dressier shirts.  My stocking had been filled to the brim with a couple of magazines, sneaker balls, Twizzlers, gift cards, and an insulated cup.  The Mr. always spoils me.  ❤

I didn’t take many pictures this year.  Shame on me!  Chicky gave the Mr. a lap desk.  I gave him an iPad mini, a hedge trimmer, and a wireless charger for his new phone, along with an Auburn puzzle and this adorable totem pole . . .

I’d filled his stocking with a plethora of goodies.  I had taken advantage of being able to drive in the weeks before Christmas this year.

We gave Chicky a good pair of ear buds – a brand that she had not expected but that she’d been wanting.  We also gave her a pair of shoes, an Auburn shirt, and gift cards.  Her stocking was overflowing.  We love pampering our kids!

The Mr. had to work Christmas night, so Chicky and I watched a movie on Netflix.  We turned in early, though.  I was still plagued with frequent post-surgery fatigue.

She drove me to Bigger City, Florida for my follow-up visit with my surgeon (I wrote about this in my prior post), but we had to leave the Mr. behind because he still had to work.  He drove over on Friday.

We treated Friday like our traditional family Christmas Eve.  Super Sis and I made plans to spend the morning together, as we always do, and she agreed to pick me up since I couldn’t drive.

Now let me tell you, God certainly meant for us to be sisters because we are always such a hot mess – in the same, exact way.

When she arrived, we discovered that we had chosen similar shoes.  Of course, she’d opted to go without the Darth Vader boot, but I digress . . .

The first stop we made was Starbucks.

Go ahead and admire our cuteness.

I was super excited when I realized that I finally had a partner who could/would do fun Snapchat filters with me . . .

She has to work on her timing with that tongue thing.  Of course, she was trying to place our order and stop laughing while posing, so there was that.  I need to work on looking in the right spot.

Told you that we’re a hot mess.

We went to Dillard’s first, and she showed me some of the charms she wanted for the new James Avery bracelet one of her sons had given her for Christmas.  She’d received a gift card and knew exactly how she was going to spend it.  I, of course, was an enabler who encouraged her to buy what she liked.

We had a bit of an experience while we were shopping at Express, one of my favorite stores.

Have you ever seen videos of people spitting out their drinks when they’re laughing or sneezing?

Yeah, she kind of did that, although it was because something went down the wrong way, and for the FIRST time ever, I was on the receiving end.  One minute, I was scrutinizing a possible dress to wear to this year’s high school graduation, and the next second, I was watching my Apple watch get sprayed with her chai tea.  I mean, it went ALL OVER THE PLACE.

She later told me that the look on my face was one of shock.

Truly it was.

I was worried about her because she’d choked on her drink (thinking the same thing that I was about the dress, which had lace panels down the back in a ‘HELL NO – not appropriate for any graduation” kind of way).

Then, we hurriedly tried to clean up the floor and my watch as we hightailed it out of the store.

THEN, I threw away my kleenex in what I thought was a trash can . . . only to watch it float and then sink into what turned OUT to be a can of water (I didn’t notice the chairs that people could sit on to get their feet done, I guess?

The giggles, y’all.  We could hardly walk because we were laughing so hard.

I seriously love my sister.

We went back to Dillard’s, since we’d parked there, but did a bit of shoe browsing (ahem) before leaving.

That’s when I fell in love with these . . .

Oh Vionic shoes, you get me every time.  I texted a couple of photos to the Mr., told him that I really liked them, and then bought them.  I’m saving the receipt in case I find them cheaper somewhere else or discover that I can’t wear them when I can actually put two on at a time.  I’m not allowed to put any weight on my right ankle unless it’s in a boot, which means no regular shoes on that foot for an entire month.

We went back to the house, picked up the Mr.’s mom, and took her back with us to the mall, where Super Sis bought the charm she’d been admiring and had it put on.  We also visited another store outside the mall but didn’t buy anything.  Oh, and we had to go to Trader Joe’s, where I found some canned coconut milk that will be perfect, later, for some desserts I’ve been dying to make.  Most coconut milk has an ingredient (can’t remember the name now) that prevents it from being whipped.  Not so with the Trader Joe’s brand.

By the time we got back to the house, my ankle was shot.

It’s quite clear that I still have a LONG way to go in my recovery . . .

But our fun wasn’t over yet!  We still had dinner and presents to go!

But first, another Snapchat selfie with my seester . . .

Can you just see her face . . . forty years ago.  Quite the imp she used to be.  And please admire my hair.  My hairdresser had washed and dried it for me on Wednesday.  She’d done a FABULOUS job.  I love good hair days.

Chicky and my oldest nephew cooked most of the dinner.  Super Sis got a picture of them, but I didn’t.  Boo!

I did manage to snag another selfie with my sister though.  When you don’t see each other very often, you’ve just got to take lots of selfies.  Ahem.

Dinner was fun; everyone squeezed around one table.  We sure were missing my boy and his girl.

Then, it was time to do presents.

Super Sis and her family had already opened gifts with the in-laws, but we still had a few presents to open.

Cali jumped right in the middle of things.

As usual, we went from youngest to oldest.

The Mr.’s parents gave me the Instant Pot I’d had my eye on.

This one is f-a-n-c-y, let me tell you, and even has Bluetooth!  I’d seen a number of vegan recipes that call for this appliance but that I’d been unable to try (yes, I know that I could have made them, but it would have taken far longer to cook).  I’ve got a New Year’s recipe all picked out already!

They also gave me an Amazon gift card!

Super Sis and her family gave me a Books a Million gift card and this fabulous jacket . . .

It’s the only Hogwarts item I received this year.

The Mr. got several nice gifts, including this Auburn plaque for the wall . . .

The Mr. and I gave his mom a couple of gift cards and his dad a Roku, which the Mr. spent the rest of the evening setting up.

What an eventful day!

Our time with our family wasn’t quite over, though, and we woke up on Saturday raring to go.  I made another couple of trips to the mall and did a bit more shopping since the Mr. had not been with me the first couple of times.  I texted the following picture to Super Sis to show her that I’d worn my new jacket . . .

I did a bit of a DIY project and tightened the screws on the banister in the Mr.’s parents’ house . . .

Untitled

Later that evening, we visited Blaze Pizza, which I’d never eaten at.

I was duly impressed with the care they took with my vegan / dairy-free pizza.  I got the gluten free crust and just WOW.  I ate half and saved the rest for today.  It was delicious!

Then, we went to Shoe Station – a family favorite.

There were two sections of Vionic shoes . . .

I didn’t see too much that I liked, but I did find this pair . . .

I liked them, but the price was not any cheaper than Dillard’s.

So, I bid them farewell as I left them at the store . . .

We went back to the in-laws’ house, but it wasn’t long before Super Sis and I decided we had one more errand to run . . .

We were all about the nail polish – clearanced ones at that.  Of course, we had to act goofy and managed to clear the place out by the time we were ready to pay.  I think people were afraid that we’d escaped from the loony bin.

Alas, Super Sis had to go, though, so the beautifying would have to be done individually.  She had church to prep for the next day, and we had to get ready to head back home.

As I got ready this morning, Cali kept me company . . .

The Mr. and I said our goodbyes.  I hugged Chicky tightly; it will probably be a few months before I get to lay eyes on her again because of our work schedules.

We stopped for hot chocolate at a local coffee place on the way out . . .

The drive home was quick, or so it seemed, as the Mr. and I listened to old-time church music.

Our dogs greeted up happily when we got home, and I found the cutest calendar waiting for me in my stacks of mail . . .

I think I’d seen a story online about this little boy and his dog.  The foster family just adopted him; the proceeds from the calendar sales will go towards charities that support foster children.

Yeah, I’m going to enjoy this one all year long.  ❤

And that about covers Christmas.

I’m exhausted.  I think I’ll take a nap now.

Talk to you in 2018!

Christmas 2016 – Part 2

You’d think that with me being on Christmas Break, I’d be blogging more.

Not!

Ha!

In my last post, I detailed my family’s fun during our first Christmas gift exchange.  I’ll pick up from there.

We got up the next morning and packed up the car.  We were heading out for our family get-together in Bigger City, Florida.  It was the first time that we had Rooster’s girl with us, so we wanted to make sure she got the full experience.

The dogs were not pleased at our departure…

Poor Gambit. He had loved every second that his boy was home.

Poor Gambit. He had loved every second that his boy was home.

Pele had been allowed to sleep in the room with Rooster and his girl. He was in happy land!

During the ninety minute drive, I kept myself occupied by setting up the new headphones that the Mr. had gifted me.  It was pretty easy.  I downloaded the Under Armour app for my phone and after a quick Google search for instructions, paired it up with the headphones.

The hardest part was getting the ear buds in my ears correctly (this was after I changed out the covers for smaller ones to fit me).  I watched a video that helped a bit, and before too long, I had them in.

It took me a few more minutes to figure out how to get the heart rate monitor to do its thing (I had to install the headphones in the app and then press on the right ear bud).  I joked with the Mr. that he obviously hadn’t irritated me too much; my heart rate was a calm 79 bpm.

Our first afternoon and evening with the family were fairly calm events.  We ate lunch at the Mr.’s parents’ house and met up with the rest of the crew for dinner at Newk’s with an in-between stop to get Rooster a new phone.  I was relieved.  His old phone wasn’t staying charged for long, and because I’m the “owner” of the account, he needed me to approve his new phone purchase.  There had not been any phones to his liking where I live.  Fortunately, we were in Bigger City, Florida, where we had options.  He upgraded to a 7 Plus.

We actually went to bed fairly early because we knew we’d be busy the next day…Christmas Eve!

I slept on the couch downstairs; the Mr. slept on an air mattress in the den so our boy and his bride could have the upstairs room.  Because I haven’t been sleeping well, I was up around 6am.  I took advantage of the quiet time and started getting ready.  It takes me a lot longer with one healthy leg to stand on.

My foot was looking better than the day before.  I’d been instructed to start putting 25% body weight on it and had overdone it my first day.  It had swollen up like a balloon.  By the 24th, it wasn’t back like I wanted, but at least I could see more of my toes.

Soon, I was ready and raring to go.

Please admire the skinny jeans that I am now able to wear because the cast is GONE!!!

I texted Super Sis.  She’d graciously offered to be my chauffeur for the day.  I had lots of errands to run for Santa.

She drove my car…a long line of people to drive it since I got hurt.

We ALWAYS go shopping together on Christmas Eve.  It is one of my favorite traditions because we don’t get to spend much time together the rest of the year.

We ran by Starbucks; she treated me to a hot chocolate.

Because she wouldn’t let me pay, I had the idea to pay for the order of the car behind us in the drive-thru.  We tried driving away slowly to see the occupants’ reactions, but because of the way the lot was set up, we had to turn the corner before we could look.  I hope they were surprised.  🙂

We took a little longer to shop than we’d originally planned.  As I said, things take me more time.  At our last store, I spied the following glasses…

I fell in love with them and wanted to get them priced.  They were more than I was willing to spend, simply because I was already spending a small fortune on gifts.  Super Sis said, “How much do you like them?”

I replied, “A lot.”

She said, “Birthday gift?”

I said, “Okay, but write in my birthday card that you gave these to me.”

She said, “Done.”

And so they came home with me.

For the record, my birthday isn’t until March.  She said I could go ahead and start using the glasses though.

When we finished there, we were pooped.  People had started calling us.  We were being summoned back to the house.

We had Christmas dinner to get ready for!  The Mr.’s mom had slaved away all day to prepare some of our favorite food…field peas, dressing (which I don’t eat but everyone else does), turkey from Sonny’s (none for me, thank you very much), mashed potatoes, and other goodies.

Cali, my grandpup, was ready to snarf up crumbs.

Cali, my grandpup, was ready to snarf up crumbs.

Then, we all got ready for our traditional pre-church photos, which went off swimmingly well.

I wish I could show you the pictures, but alas, some of my people don’t like their faces on my blog.  Rooster’s girl was very agreeable; she’s used to my picture taking by now.

Then, we headed out to church for a beautiful candlelight service.

By then, it was pretty late, so Super Sis’s family and ours parted ways.  They were instructed to show back up at the house no later than 7:30am.  We had a tight schedule to maintain because my boy and his girl had to visit her family.

As has been my custom, I awoke early Christmas morning and got ready…

I have to wear a sock under my boot to prevent chafing.  Thank heavens for all of the knit pairs I’ve made over the years!  This one matched my shirt…

Then, I made my way to the living room to await the arrival of the rest of the clan.  The tree was gorgeous!

We had a stocking waiting for Chicky.  Rooster and his girl had done their stockings before they’d left their home, but we had a little something for each of them.  I can’t say that I like not doing stockings for our kids.  We may have to go back to this in the future.

Cali got in the middle of everything.  She was loving all of the extra attention.

I received this blanket…

I also got this night light (a few days after the fact, but the intent was there!!!)…

Super Sis and her family actually got to the house at 7:15…the first time I think they’ve ever been early.  Go them!

Present opening began immediately, and once again, Cali settled herself in the middle of the action.

How awesome that there were ELEVEN of us opening gifts this year!  We opened one present at a time, starting with the youngest member and working up in age.

There was so much laughter as each gift was opened.

Cali managed to catch a nap despite the noise.

Every year seems to have its own theme.  This year, we were all about sports…as in “We are a sports family…except for Super D (Super Sis’s husband/the Mr.’s brother).”  Ha!

Everyone got something sports-related, I think.  The Mr.’s mom got an exercise ball and a jacket/vest to wear when she’s out walking on frigid mornings.  Other members of the family got various apparel from Under Armour.  We could have done a commercial for the company, I kid you not.

Here are a few of my gifts…

A purse from Super Sis and her family

A purse from Super Sis and her family

A Ginger Snaps necklace…also from Super Sis and her crew

I’d never heard of Ginger Snaps before.  They are adorable!  You just pop the charms off and change them out!

I ordered more of these charms on our drive home the next day.  I’ll share photos of those in a future post.

The Mr. and I got a bonus gift from our siblings…

Aren’t they fabulous?

The in-laws had labeled their gifts to us with numbers…in the order we were to open them.  Of course, I was number-challenged.  Last year, it was Super D who opened the wrong gift first.  Fortunately, we caught my mistake before I actually opened the wrong gift!  Ha!

A Pandora ornament with a check inside for a ball winder (I've already ordered it).

A Pandora ornament with a check inside for a ball winder (I’ve already ordered it).

The in-laws also gave me this beautiful bracelet…

The bracelet has a heart charm with my birthstone…not pictured.  I’d been wanting a charm bracelet after the one I had purchased a couple of years ago from Premier had tarnished.  I’m in love with my Pandora bracelet.  ❤

There were a number of gift cards exchanged and other things requested on Christmas lists…because that’s how we roll.

The morning flew by, and before I knew it, Rooster and his girl were packing up.

Despite having spent eleven days with my boy, the parting was hard for me.

I sat close by as he and his girl ate lunch and fixed snacks for the road.  They had a six hour drive ahead of them; her family was eagerly awaiting their arrival.

The Mr. and I walked them outside and said our see-you-laters…never goodbye when you’ve got a family member serving in the military.

I did really good as I hugged my babies tight.  Having them in the same zip code had been divine; letting them go was another rip on my heartstrings.

I scootered my way up the driveway as they backed out and kept the tears in check until I went back into the house.

The rest of the evening was quiet; I tried to focus on my blessings and not my boy’s absence.

The gifts had been wonderful, but what had been best was spending time with my loved ones…something I’ll never take for granted.

Christmas 2016 – Part 1

Merry Christmas, y’all!

It’s been quite the whirlwind around here, let me tell you!

Rooster and his girl came into town late on the 15th, and it was nonstop running from that point forward.

I think I’m going to split my Christmas musings into two posts because, quite frankly, I’m exhausted (and a little emotional).

Let’s call this Christmas 2016 Post #1

We decided to do Christmas with our kiddos the evening of the 22nd because we had plans to go to Bigger City, Florida to visit family the next day.

Our custom has always been to take turns opening presents, starting with the youngest family member and working our way up.  We take things slowly so everyone can watch.  The process lasts a while, which I, as a mama, love.

We got the kids a few gift cards and clothes, which they loved.

Rooster and N were surprised when they opened a joint gift…

I’m so happy that I can finally blog about it!  I made this blanket this past summer.

I bought a solid blue fabric for the back and, rather than tying the strips together, cut slits into them and pushed the strips through the slits.  This made the blanket a little less bulky.

I didn’t know how much a yard was, so I followed instructions I found online and got four yards of each material.

The blanket wound up being HUGE.

Rooster is tall, so it works out.  Still, it seemed like it took forever to make my way around the edges.  Really, it only took a couple of days to finish.

They loved it so much that, upon my announcement that I’d mail it to them, they quickly said that they would make room in a suitcase for it.

#win

The kids went in together and got the Mr. a coin display case.  I guess I don’t have any photos that I can share with you.  Dang.

I gave the Mr. a coffee maker, which was a big deal because I cannot stand the smell of coffee.  I figured that it was the least I could do for him given the selflessness he’s displayed over the last month and a half that I’ve been recovering from breaking my ankle.

Of course, I was spoiled.  Rooster and N bought me a set of spatulas that I’d been wanting.  Chicky gave me a framed photograph of her and Rooster from the wedding…a snapshot someone had taken with her phone.  She also gave me a pair of silver loop earrings.

The Mr. gave me some workout tank tops, a workout shirt, and an ornament.

I really like this ornament!  There’s a hole to look into, and you can see Olivander in his shop.

My big gift was a set of JBL Wireless Headphones.  These are amazing…especially because they will grab your heart rate from your ear!  They just came out on the market in September.

The process to set them up was fairly easy.  You can see data through an Under Armour app you install.

We had a wonderful time exchanging laughter as we teased one another over various presents.

The fun wasn’t over, though, as we prepared to head out of town for a few more days of partying the Auburnchick way.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Christmas in July?

Last week, I finished a project I’d started back in April or May…Heartwarming Stockings…a kit I purchased from Knit Picks.

I’d made a set of these stockings for the Mr. and me last fall.  When Rooster got engaged, I offered to make his girl her own stocking, which she eagerly said yes to.  Then, I decided to make Rooster a stocking as well so they would have a matching set.

I had almost enough yarn left over from my first set to make this set; however, I had to order a couple of skeins of yarn for Rooster’s girl’s stocking, so I cast on his while I waited for her yarn to arrive.

The great thing about this pattern is that you can customize it.  The pattern has a template, and you pick from various patterns offered for each section.  Rooster’s girl picked out everything, and I went from there.

When I finished Rooster’s stocking, I got to work on his girl’s.

I absolutely love the flowers on this stocking.

When I finished, both stockings got a lengthy bath to ensure that every fiber was soaked through.

Then, I blocked them.

I don’t know if you get a sense of how large these are just from looking at the photos.  I had written down the measurements, but I’ve lost the paper!  Ha!

Rooster’s girl asked if I was going to line them.

I said no, because I didn’t know how, but then I started thinking.

And I started Googling.

And after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I decided that I’d give it a shot.

After I took some measurements, I went to JoAnn Fabrics.

The colors I selected looked great; however, I should have taken a stocking with me, because I made a novice mistake and didn’t double my measurements (hello, this would be an inside lining…like a tube…hence double the amount of fabric required).

Money wasted.

And time.

Ugh.

By this time, Rooster’s girl had come to the house.  I can’t remember what we were doing, but she wound up running with me back to the store, where I got the correct amount of fabric.

I traced around each stocking with a permanent marker, giving myself about a half-inch extra space all around.

Now, I had the bright idea to use my sewing machine to stitch the two halves together.  I’d used my sewing machine, obtained as a gift from a yard sale eons ago, maybe once or twice over the years.

It’s a handy thing…folds down underneath the table.

This thing was d-i-r-t-y.

Look at all of that dust!!

Once I got it plugged in, I made sure it worked by turning on the light.

I got out the manual to make sure it was threaded correctly from the top and ran into a problem when I couldn’t get the bottom bobbin to thread properly.  Maybe my thread was too old…it did keep breaking.  Regardless, I spent at least an hour trying to get it to work before throwing up my hands in surrender.

I’d do things the hard way, thus continuing to live out my mom’s words from years ago…”If there’s a hard way to do something, you’ll find it.”

So, I got out my needle and quilting thread and used a whip stitch to stitch both halves together.

Then, I stuffed each lining into its respective stocking and stitched around the top of each stocking, just under the i-cord.

I was actually really pleased with my small, somewhat even stitches.

When all was said and done, I had two lined stockings.

I am so honored that Rooster’s girl allowed me the privilege of making something so special to commemorate what will be their first Christmas together as a married couple.

 

Christmas Shenanigans

It’s December 26th, and after a morning spent shopping with my Chicky, I am finally sitting down to process the past few days.

On Wednesday, the 23rd, we secured the house and pups, leaving them in the care of a trusted young man…one of Rooster’s best friends…and drove a couple of hours down the road to bigger city, Florida, where the rest of our crew lives.

Before we left, though, I had to get in another workout.  Even though Wednesdays are my “rest” days, I still like to exercise.  I’ve learned that my body needs to be pushed.

I decided to do a Piyo workout.  I’ve missed the stretching and strength exercises, so I put in the “Sweat” video, which didn’t seem nearly as difficult now that I’ve “graduated” from the program and have been doing TurboFire for over a month.  I’d like to think that speaks to the level of fitness I’m currently at…not high but farther along than four months ago.

Our drive went by quickly.  I spent the time either reading or knitting (I can’t remember which).  We spent the afternoon just chilling with the in-laws.  Chicky arrived later that afternoon, but she was fighting the crud, so she went to bed early.

Christmas Eve found me up early.  I didn’t want to miss a day of my workout program, but I also didn’t want anyone walking in on me.  I’m a bit shy about having people watch me.  I’m not exactly the most coordinated, although in my mind I look as good as Chalene Johnson.  Yes, I know I’m delusional.  Aren’t we all from time-to-time?

Getting ready in the dark so I don’t wake up the natives

After everyone got up, we did our traditional last-minute shopping and picked up a few small items that were probably unnecessary but gave us a reason to jaunt around town along with thousands of other similarly-minded people.

Because we were going to eat Christmas dinner for dinner (as opposed to the late lunch time we’ve done the past few Christmas seasons), the Mr., Chicky, Rooster, and I had some time to open gifts among ourselves.  Spending time as our small family unit rarely happens these days, as is the case when children grow up and leave home.  I think it’s still important, though.  Inside jokes and whatnot continue to remind us how much we love each other.

Chicky gave me this luscious silk/wool skein of yarn, which she had picked up this past summer when she traveled to the Amish country while vacationing in Philadelphia.  I think she purchased the yarn here.  She told me that she was going to buy me more yarn until she discovered that good yarn is expensive!  Rooster reminded her of my forays to the yarn store that’s an hour and a half away from me and how much I spend before I return home.  Yes, I’m a yarn snob.  I was touched that she 1) braved a yarn store and 2) got me something so dear to my heart.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures during our present opening.  I did receive a set of measuring cups and spoons from Rooster (these items were on my list), and the Mr. gave me a cute sweater from Old Navy, night clothes from Victoria Secret, and a flipbelt.

The Flipbelt. These are not my abs…these pictures will serve as motivation though.

After a delicious dinner (I ate mashed potatoes and field peas), we pulled out Phase 10, a card game Chicky had purchased the night before.  We had a lot of time to kill before church.

This was a lot of fun to play!  I highly recommend it!

After a few rounds, our group got ready for church and headed to the 9pm service.  This was the first time we had ever attended this late program…another sign that our children have become adults.  The pastor preached a great sermon with the highlight being the lighting of candles that we patrons held as the overhead lights were turned off.  Singing “Silent Night” with the candlelight flickering invoked a feeling of reverence befitting the Reason for the Season…the birth of the baby who would save mankind from its sins.

By the time we were finished, it was late, so it didn’t take us long to head to bed.

True to form, I arose early the next morning so I could do my ten-minute ab workout followed by the ten-minute stretch session that comes after each workout session.  The schedule worked out great, did it not?

Then, I got ready and sat…waiting…for the everyone else to wake up…

Because the kids are grown, we don’t open presents at 5am any more.

I decided to call my mom but had trouble putting on makeup, straightening my hair, and talking, so I dug out my ear buds and made myself hands-free.

Go ahead to tell me how brilliant I am.

This was a great way to pass the time.  Beauty at my age takes a while to obtain.

Once the Mr. and the kids were up, it was time to dig into our stockings.  Santa was good to me.

Isn’t my stocking pretty?  I love being able to say that I made it!

Super Sis and her family eventually made their way over after they’d finished opening their gifts, and after the customary Christmas morning photos in front of the tree (during which we really noticed how grown the kids had gotten), we dug in.

We always take turns opening presents, going in age order (youngest to oldest).

The theme the first round seemed to be opening what the other sister/brother clan had gifted.

Super Sis’s group gave me the stack of three purple gifts in the photo above.  One of the gifts was a set of measuring spoons (one can never have too many).  Another gift was this bowl…

Isn’t it cute?!

I also got this neat set of hand lotions.

The ingredients are all natural.  The one on the left has a lemon scent and is very invigorating.  The middle tube has an orange scent…a bit more muted but still pleasant.  The tube on the right has a floral scent and is stronger.  It provides a deeper conditioning, so I’ll probably use it on my feet.

A lot of laughter was exchanged as explanations were provided with each gift.

I had bought Super Sis an Origami Owl necklace and six charms.  I should have taken a picture of it.  She had randomly texted me a few months ago and told me that she had decided that she wanted one.  We’d given Coupon Queen a necklace for Mother’s Day (or her birthday…can’t remember which one since both are in May).

The in-laws gave me an individual sized crock pot, 400-thread cotton sheets, Bath and Body Works lotion, an Express store gift card, and cash.

It was a fun time…one we had to recoup from afterward.  Can you say nap time?!  This is another tradition of ours.

After a dinner of leftovers, we sat down and played a new game that one of my nephews taught us…”President.”

I.  Hate.  This.  Game.  It’s played with a deck of cards that are all dealt out.  The winner of each round is called President, the runner up is Vice President, the next two finishers are Secretaries, and the last two are Scum and Super Scum.  I cannot stand the last two titles.  If you’re Scum, you have to give away your best cards to the President/Vice President (depending on if you’re Scum or Super Scum).  In return, you get their worst cards.  So, what happens is that you rarely get out of Scum status.

I don’t like the names of the finishers, nor do I like giving away cards in this manner.  It’s just dumb.  Yes, I got a bad attitude, and yes, I probably showed my butt a bit.  It’s hard to be perfect 100% of the time.  Ha!

Bedtime provided a much-needed reset.

That brings me to today.  After an early, tough TurboFire workout, Chicky and I headed out to the store.  We hit Ulta so Chicky could exchange the Urban Decay eye shadow palette we’d given her…the same one as last year (hello. brain fart).  Best Buy was next so I could exchange a phone charger I’d bought for Rooster (hello, second brain fart…wrong pin connection…duh).

Then, we went to the mall so I could try on blue jeans at Express.  I’ve lost so much weight that I’ve had to go down a size (I’m not bragging, mind you, so don’t be hatin’).  Afterward, we ate lunch, and then Chicky got her makeup done at the MAC cosmetic stand near the food court.  I’ve never heard of this line before.  What lovely stuff!

I enjoyed watching the gal expertly apply primer, foundation, concealer, and blush.  Chicky doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, but that makeup really made her cheekbones pop!  I wound up helping her pay for her goodies.  Because we live six hours apart and only see each other every few months, I don’t get to pamper her often.

Because Chicky had decided to stay in town one extra day, we were not pressed for time.  I was grateful because I miss her when we’re apart.

The game plan for the rest of the day is to relax, visit more with family, and head home first thing in the morning.  We have fur babies who miss us, gifts to put away, and another week of downtime to enjoy.

I hope all of you had a great Christmas with friends and family.

Christmas Happenings – The AuburnChick Way

So, a few days late but better than never, here is a recap of Christmas happenings in the AuburnChick family…

First of all, let me say that this has been one of the most relaxing Christmas holidays that I’ve had in many years.

I’d lesson planned early the week before I got out of school, so that took away a lot of the pressure I’ve felt the last five years.

This is also the first year in six that I haven’t had alternative certification or reading certification classes hanging over my head.

Booya!

I’m discovering the joy that comes from priortizing life.  That’s another topic…one I’ll save for my New Year’s post, I think.

Anyhoo…as usual, I digress…

When I left my classroom the Friday before Christmas, it looked like this…

I was smiling…

Seeing this on my phone made me do the happy dance out of school…

Once I left, my brain began to decompress, and I found myself enjoying the shopping process.

I started off vacation the way I always do…with a nap…

I dressed the dogs in their finery, courtesy of Target…

Thank goodness the dogs were decorated.  The rest of the house wasn’t…my second year in a row of no Christmas tree or decorations.

#fail

I was able to help the Mr. with gift wrapping.  We worked out an assembly line system.  He wrapped…

I ribbonized…

After lots of last-minute errands, present-hiding, and packing, we were finally ready to leave…

Gambit was not happy…

Fortunately, we had a trusted young man who had agreed to love on my fur babies through Christmas, so I wasn’t worried.

What did make me nervous was the bad weather that tore through the South.

This is what we drove through…the entire way…to the Mr’s parents’ house…

Ugh.  The rain added almost an hour to our drive!  Praise to God that we got there safely, though!

We were greeted by Cali, Chicky’s pup…aka my grandpuppy.  I had not seen her in a year, so the reunion was sweet.

Christmas Eve was rainy, so I stayed inside, read, and relaxed…

Coupon Queen (the Mr.’s mom) had made vegetable soup…a delicious treat that I enjoyed for lunch…

I went to Super Sis’s house after lunch, and she very kindly acquiesced my request to remove the nail polish from my toe nails.  I was not allowed to take photos, though, on threat of my throat being strangled.  heehee

Later, we returned to the in-laws’ house and ate a delicious Christmas dinner before heading to church for the Christmas Eve service…so moving…especially at the end when we lit candles…

Later that evening, the Mr., Chicky, Rooster, and I spent a few minutes exchanging gifts.  Chicky and Rooster had gotten their gifts during our cruise…watches for both of them…

Rooster’s Watch

Still, we managed to surprise them with a few things.

Chicky bought me a dress (no photo, I’m afraid), and Rooster bought me two seasons of Downton Abbey

The Mr. bought me a few tops from American Eagle and some other goodies.

My new camera, the one I took on our cruise, was my main gift…

Rooster and I surprised the Mr. with a Bo Jackson jersey (we’ll get it framed later)…

It was a good time of sweet fellowship that we are rarely afforded now that the kids are grown up.

Before I knew it, the time had come to say goodnight so that Santa could do his thing…

Chicky had left her stocking at her house, so Santa had to fill a hat instead.  Cali had to check out the goodies first, though…

After heading to bed, I was unable to sleep.

I reluctantly got out of bed in the wee hours of Christmas morning to be surprised by this Ruzzle game invitation…

I guess Santa’s sleigh has a navigation system that actually allows him to fly and play games simultaneously.

🙂

For the record, I beat him!

:::thumbs up::

After getting dressed and all fixed up, I waited on sister dear…

That’s my grainy phone image…

I swear, but Super Sis’s family took forever to arrive.  Finally, though, they did, and we took family photos.

Sorry, folks, but they are blog-shy.

🙂

We quickly commenced with the gift-opening, beginning, as usual, with the youngest member.

I love the way we open presents because 1) It takes longer and 2) We get to ooohhh and ahhhh over each person’s gift.

Round and round we went.

Much laughter was to be had because every gift had its own story.

My gift from Super Sis and family was no exception.

You see, I’d asked for a new wallet and was happy to discover that Super Sis’s crew had gotten me one.

After opening my gift, she said, “But wait, there’s more.”  She then pulled a wrapped gift from behind her.

I was so excited because I thought I was getting ANOTHER present!

I opened it, and it was a SECOND wallet.

To my chagrin, she explained that I was not hearing the word “more” but the word “or.” In other words, I had to make a choice because she’d seen several she liked.

Then, she pulled another package from thin air.

Yes, folks, it was a third wallet.

For the record, I chose the blue/green one.  I love it!

The Mr.’s parents gave me a freshwater pearl bracelet that has silvery bling on it…

They also gave me “Boot Loot…”

I used it, the next day, to purchase these (their VISA gift card helped too!)…

We had a lot of fun watching the guys open their Dockers Auburn pants…

If you were a male in the family, you got a pair of these.  heehee

Super Sis’s family gave Chicky these slippers…too cute…a bonus gift to accompany the gift card they’d purchased…

As always, the gift-opening aftermath wasn’t pretty…

So much laughter and love was exchanged as each present was opened.

I am always reminded how blessed I am…doubly so because my sister married the Mr’s brother, so we can ALL spend Christmas together.

But wait…the trip wasn’t over!

You see, although Chicky left on Christmas night (BOO!!!), we still had post-Christmas shopping to do!  I woke up and took this selfie, of course…

The Mr. wanted to take me to the mall to buy me new pants at Express, where Chicky had gotten some that she’d been wearing during her visit.

Let me just say that I LOVE this store!  Their pants have Short options, so petite people like me can find things to fit!  I walked out, after their 50% sale, with FOUR pairs of pants/blue jeans!!!

In fact, it was a productive day, shopping-wise!

It was a wonderful Christmas and the least amount of drama to date.

With the kids getting older, the activity level has slowed a bit, which is fine for my tired self.  It’s refreshing to just enjoy life…to take joy in the pretty lights and sweet music…to savor sweet moments with family members who you don’t get to see very often.

Early Christmas Morning Musings

Although I am 44 years old, there resides inside of me the heart of a child.

This I felt as each minute ticked by last night.

To put it simply, I could not go to sleep.

I tried everything…

Praying…for EVERYONE.

I thought about books I’d recently read.

I tried to picture what it was like that very first Christmas when the shepherds heard the Good News.

I envisioned Mary, sitting in awe as the Magi came to see her baby.

I believe I dozed off for a while, only to awakened around 3:30am.

I never really went back to sleep. I’m sure there’s a nap in my not-too-distant future.

Finally, I gave up and got dressed.

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In case you need proof of the time, take a look…

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Cali and I had some quality time together…

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We enjoyed the view of the tree…

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As I type this, I’m still waiting for the rest of my crew to get up.

Anticipation.

It pales in comparison to that which was felt by all who waited for the Savior.

His arrival was not what people expected. I sincerely doubt that in that day and age, where stories of formidable gods and goddesses abounded, anyone expected the King of Kings to descend upon them so humbly.

A few willing hearts recognized Him, though. Their diligent waiting paid off, and they were rewarded with the revelation given to few so early on.

I pray that I will always carry with me this child-like anticipation…daily looking for God’s revelations to me in the midst of everyday tasks.

I am humbled that He came down, in the mere form of a human, to save the likes of me.

Merry Christmas, my friends

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