Friday, December 25, 2015

New Appliances and Christmas China

I'll start with today's merry fourth part is a house of my family sleeping and watching Love Actually. Along with Holiday Inn (which for some reason I have not seen show up on TV the last few years), Love Actually is a favorite holiday movie so it is perfect that I am capping off the happiest of days with it on.

But, oh, building up to this moment, I was not so sure of a precious fourth part.

New appliances were delivered and installed Wednesday evening. I mean, it's a great gift to receive a new refrigerator and a new microwave and a new dishwasher and a new oven. The instructions for use were put down somewhere in this house .... remember, it is a few days before Christmas so there's lots of wrapping and gift hiding and food prepping and 'oh my gosh where is the tape' hunting.

So with 12 hours of calling under our belts, three runs of ice made and dumped, a few cycles of dish washing and a 15-minutes at 350 degrees test on the oven, we were good to go. Please note, I had ham, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, self-rising biscuits (made with self-rising flour that had no more rising left in its self so we had browned hockey pucks instead) and corn pie to be made in a new oven. It beeps a lot and tells me it is pre-heated, but the same dial also is supposed to show the cook time (or is it a kitchen timer I set -- where are those instructions?!?).

To think, my 11:04 p.m. bedtime on Christmas Eve was so precious and treasured that I said out loud (that's a curse, right?), 'I mean, could this be going any smoother?' Church, dinner, reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, putting out reindeer food and Santa's cookies, opening a gift with PJs and wrapping Sanat gifts (balanced out just right thanks to G's last-minute run to get two more gifts for Camille) all happened easy peesy lemon squeezy.

Famous. Last. Words.

Christmas morning ... 7:13 a.m. start. Lovely, sweet, fun, special and full of all the right gifts for everyone. Who knew Tahitian Treat continued to be a fan fav? The girls played and played all morning. I took a breather with a couple of cups of coffee and then started cooking. Chopping, organizing and assembling (truthfully, most of the assembling was down the night before). Tables set with my beautiful Christmas china, Lenox Holiday. Morning gifts put away.

Then, I looked up and it as 3 p.m. No make up on, no hair done, and still in leggings. Two hours until dinner. Yikes!

No worries though. I had a schedule. Pop that ham in for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees and then put other dishes in and out of the new stove as indicated by the check list.

Moving. Along. Nicely.

I even paused to take a picture of the dinner table with my pretty china. I really love my china. Strangely enough, I only have seven dinner plates not 12. Maybe there is a day after Christmas sale in my future?

Back to Christmas dinner being lovingly prepared in my new oven. Uh, why does the display not indicate cook time?

To make a long story short, biscuits did not rise, burned the dickens out of my hand (new blasted pot holders that came with the new pot set we received for buying the new appliances) and had a ham come out cooler than warm.

Carved that bad boy up, threw pieces on a plate and popped it in the new microwave ... which clearly displays cook time!

Slapped some ice and then aloe on the burn.

Lovingly called everyone to dinner. G prayed. We ate. I drank wine. Everyone else had water.

More gifts, more smiles. More Christmas.

Gifts put away, leftovers and to-go plates sent along and PJs put on. Kitchen cleaned and my lovely Lenox Holiday put away for another year. Everyone in bed and I have the TV,

Love actually is all around.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

School Holiday Parties and Gallstones

The request came on a cheery, holiday-colored green piece of a paper. I was assigned sliced apples to bring the day of the girls' school holiday party, I did think to myself, 'why can't I get a bag of marshmallows' but I thought slicing up some apples the Thursday before that glorious, last day of school before Christmas break cannot be too hard. We always have apples on hand and no one would judge the size or shape of the slices (I'm not on Top Chef preparing my mis en place).

The girls also knew what outfit they would wear -- cute Target t-shirts with minimal glitter and no words, just a picture of a reindeer on one and a penguin on the other. They also were planning on taking the Santa hats my dad gave them. I mean, it was a perfect Granddad gift -- Santa hats with a springy ball bouncing on top.

And, bonus, the party was at 8:25 a.m. And, it lasted, 45 minutes. I allowed for the party in my work schedule so all was good. Planning done, plenty of fourth part available all week.

(Oh, and I had a holiday happy hour with some friends two days before the holiday party. Nice! Planning for weeks -- who would take and pick up the girls from tap, dinner, etc. -- allowed for my cocktail-filled fourth part happy hour. I even had a change of clothes in a bag in my car for the festivities.)

Until, G Adams started throwing up. OK, this may be TMI and get a little descriptively disgusting, but the facts are very important to the story.

Reminder, school party is Friday morning. Holiday happy hour is Wednesday. Thursday p.m. reserved for apple slicing.

1 a.m. Tuesday morning is when the hurling began. G is a dramatic vomiter. I think he braces himself against the bathroom walls, which requires some bumping and banging. He is also a moaner. Oh, and all lights turned on is a requirement -- to see the throw up? Oh, there's more. He flips on the bathroom fan, too. It's 1 a.m. I'm sleeping, kind of. He goes to the living room to let me rest, but every 15 minutes or so until about 3 a.m., he runs into our bedroom to visit our bathroom to do his do. Lights on, fan on, moaning, etc.

I move to the sofa and shut our bedroom door so he can turn on all kinds of lights (and the TV!) and fans. Then, it subsides. Throughout the throw-up session, I make loving comments such as it can't be what we ate for dinner because the other four in the house aren't sick. I say with my medical degree in hand, it must be a bug. I remind him last year during the holidays he missed Christmas Eve service and Santa had to bring the balance beam, Barbie dream house, TV and stand to the tree.

He stays at home to rest. I drag myself up and out of the house -- doing full morning duty. Remember, I usually work out while he does lunches and breakfast. I did it all ... The gentle, sweet wake up, the clothes, the hair, the shoes, the breakfasts, the sandwiches, the backpacks.

He started to feel better so he went to run basketball practice, took the girls to and from dance and stopped at Luby's for dinner -- mashed potatoes for him (along with the stomach calming chopped steak and corn, really!?!). I went to my happy hour.

Bedtime comes after I ready for the next day. I even get a little at home fourth part -- DVR joy! I pop a melatonin and head off to sleep when, yep, 1 a.m. for round two. I immediately jump to the sofa. He  starts talking loudly, along with the moaning. I say, again very lovingly, maybe he needs to take a deep breath and relax. He says someone is stabbing him in the stomach. He then announces he needs to go somewhere. I Yelp an emergency clinic in our hood that is open 24/7. I then sweetly, supportively say our son can take him (because I'm thinking all they're going to do is give him some anti-nausea medicine).

Two hours later, my son comes home, wakes me up and says there is something wrong with G's gallbladder. I fall back asleep as we are to wait on a call. I get that call at 6 a.m. from my drugged up husband asking me to call his head coach and talk to the doctor, who tells me he will be transported by ambulance to the hospital for surgery! What?

I pop out of bed, do the morning routine (not even more fun or any easier from the day before because now I'm going on two nights of not good sleep, and am in a bit of a margartia haze) and pray the clinic does not call about the ambulance transporting until after I get the girls to school. They think their dad is at the doctor and know nothing else.

I have not bought apples at this point. And, slicing is not looking like it is going to happen.

Drop the girls off, head to the clinic, hear the story and then off we go to the hospital. Many hours later -- with lots of last-minute planning with babysitters and Chris taking care of some errands -- gallbladder removal surgery happens Thursday p.m. We all see G come out of anesthesia -- he was a first-time surgery patient so his recounting of his sniper moments in the bunker with his assault rifle in the very cold weather at the North Pole (Bible, he said all this) was a treat. We head home.

We joyfully prepare for the last day of school before Christmas break. Throw lunches together, lay out pre-planned outfits, ready backpacks and oh, e-mail the teachers about the lack of sliced apples. Ain't happening. A bit of guilt, yes. Enough to cause me to go to HEB, nah.

Friday morn, we're up a bit faster than usual because of the holiday party. Everyone enjoys the party (I end up holding the springy, Santa hats), I don't check the girls out early from school and I'm off to the hospital.

Another day of negotiating babysitter pick up times (she brings the blank check with her to the hospital when she drops off the girls) and figuring out events, allows us to hang with G at the hospital until morphine hits.

Then, it's the weekend. We're kicking off no school for two weeks -- and there's a party to go to that night (we won't be attending) and there are basketball games to coach (which he won't be doing).

Fourth parts feel like a dream, but then, I remember, I'm such a solid planner, I've got vacation mapped out, shopping mostly done, Christmas cards finished (when you are sitting in a hospital room all day for a few days) and presents wrapped. Whew.

Saturday coming home from the hospital was not too tough. G settled into bed, popped a few pain pills and the girls and I did house stuff. I made lists for the upcoming weeks, wrapped gifts, planned for a few more and then, rest.

Yeah, the fourth part after all this was rest. Lovely, sweet, melatonin-induced rest. The perfect fourth part for the not-so-perfect few days.

(Thank you God for providing surgeons, doctors and nurses who cared for my husband. And, thank you for my husband's forgiveness and mercy with my less-than Proverbs 31 self).

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lights and Bikes (Oh, Tamales, too)

A Sunday during the Christmas holiday season is typically jam-packed with running errands, wrapping gifts, addressing cards and RSVPing to party invitations. I also try to knock out a few lists in preparation for upcoming goings-ons. Lists for the meal for Christmas dinner and gifts remaining to be purchased are two I pulled together today. Of course, these will be edited heavily over the coming week but at least I wrote down ham, biscuits, greens and mac & cheese, right?

So when other activities come up on a well-planned out, calendared Sunday (read: G Adams decides to put up the Christmas lights out in the yard and take off training wheels from two six-year-olds bikes because Santa doesn't need to bring new bikes since they never ride these and a bike without training wheels is like a new bike anyway), all plans for a fourth part and a glass of some pretty good I found it at Walgreens wine (on the top shelf, more than $10!) goes out the door.

But wait. This is when you get a fourth part for most of the day nit just after the girls go to bed. (I'm telling you these melatonin gummies are a lifesaver because I've got one sleeping the floor and it is 7 p.m. and another releasing some significantly large yawns!).

With Chris home from school, I didn't have to help with the lights and between Him and his dad, they could take care of the multiple runs to Walgreens for more or replacement lights. And, the two of them each took care of a bike, removing training wheels. AND, each helped teach the girls how to ride their bikes without training wheels (see, these are like new for them so they don't need new bikes because Santa thinks they need to learn how to ride these really well before they get new ones!).

With all that outdoor activity, all I had to do was steam up some tamales, heat up a can of black-eyed peas and stir up some Spanish rice. Oh, since they worked so hard, I also reached deep into my cooking pockets and knocked out some boxed brownies (Ghirardelli are our new favs).

Because lunch and dinner were so simple, I even had time to address 20 Christmas cards plus pop them in the mail. I even wrapped three gifts tucking them under the tree.

Plus, I got to help get the girls going on their bikes. They both learned how to ride, make turns and start themselves up after they stop.

Successful day, yes. Nice family time, definitely. All that in place of evening fourth time, totally worth it!

Oh, and, yeah, both girls are down and I've got the Atlanta Housewives on while drinking my Walgreens wine. In leggings. Glasses on. Full-on fourth part.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Loose Teeth and Friends

The fourth part is figured out when planning happens and the schedule falls into place. The fourth part goes all sorts of out of whack when something unexpected presents. It can be something major or something very minor. But let me be clear .... minor and major sizing is all in the eye of the beholder. And, when you are six years old, a major something is a loose tooth that affects anything and every thing.

You can't eat. You can't talk. You can't catch your breath (after sobbing and sobbing). You can't do your homework. You can't kncok out your 15-minutes of reading. You can't take a bath. You can't change into your PJs.

You certainly cannot wiggle that tooth. BECAUSE THERE IS BLOOD.

When my fourth part was about sitting and visiting with a friend who I haven't seen in a month or so and a debilitating, loose tooth shows up, well, the fourth part goes into limbo land.

Yes, you can chat with your friend over a glass of wine. Yes, you can have deep, spiritual talks with your friend. You can share books, Bible verses and a podcast. You can laugh. You can snack. You can sit.

But, oh, yeah, there's a loose tooth on the loose.

After finding the softest, easiest thing for your sweet girl to eat and after gently, very slowly take off a play shirt to put on a pajama top, you pop in a movie and ask (beg, cajole) her to get in bed. A few minutes to by, some enjoyable fourth part conversation with my friend .... then, the memory of the lose tooth and THE BLOOD comes back.

More crying, more mumbling because she can't talk and more soothing and more reassurance ... back to bed.

Thankfully, I had a friend there to help me patiently work through the loose tooth and THE BLOOD drama. I did have a fourth part. It was just a planned, scheduled fourth part with a loose tooth and THE BLOOD.

Footnote: The next morning, my little bit told me she had been asking me all night to wiggle her tooth. I nodded and then, she asked me to wiggle her tooth. (She was hungry!). I wiggled, I flicked and out it popped with THE BLOOD. A few tears and then, the pangs of hunger, reminded her she had oatmeal (very soft) waiting. And, the tooth fairy visiting that night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Meltdowns and Mexican Food

Best plans don't always mean the best reality. Plans are just that, plans. Reality, well that's reality. Oh and tonight was full-blown, I've got twin six-year-old girls and pay a babysitter to watch those girls each school day reality.

Wednesdays are tap. The dance studio is at a mid-point between my work and my house. The house is where the girls come from with the babysitter. We meet at the studio. My sweet, patient babysitter helps the girls get dressed for tap. There are very specific attire requirements so pink tights (that don't have holes -- we only have two pair of those) and pink leotards are in order. And, a bottom cover up. We do these dance short things. Putting on tights is tough. Oh, and you have to pack the tap shoes and wear flops or some other easy, slip-on shoe.

Tap is a fav so there is usually no issue.

Oh, but today there was a big ol' issue named Camille who decided she was not going to tap. She didn't just use her words, she used her loud screaming and crying voice. And, for extra drama, she laid out on the floor kicking while she screamed. My babysitter is a sweet, 17-year-old. Disciplining little ones who are pitching a high holy fit is not something she does. She's supposed to help with homework, get the girls in play clothes, play with them and visit Bahamas Bucks or Orange Leaf from time to time.

The text I received during the fit asked what should be done. I called immediately and requested an audience withe the screamer. I asked her to take a deep breath, then firmly said, stand up and start walking to the car. I had to repeat myself a few times (getting louder with each repeat) but she got in the car.

Then, she slept. I knew it. Camille melts down when she is tired, hungry or struggling with adapting to something. I melt down too, in those situations, but I can't scream and kick on the floor. She woke up upon parking at the dance studio. She ran into class and tapped, tapped away.

As we ran into class, Caroline sweetly asked if we could eat at a restaurant after tap because we all needed a break. I said yes. She looked at the Mexican food place in the strip center by the studio. She said, "let's go there." Mexican food is special to me. I'm particular. I enjoy the holes in the walls, but only go to those based on recommendations. I just don't stroll in because a six-year-old says she wants to eat there.

Well, we strolled in and it was a hit. Pancakes for the girls. Fideo for me.

Meltdown forgotten.

Fourth part earned. No need to cook dinner.

Mexican food fixes everything.