Monday, December 10, 2007

Decking the Halls + Best Puke Day Yet

Just call me Martha! I haven't been posting this last week because I've been up to my ears in creativity. I finished off a few final Christmas gifts which I'm leaving undisclosed for the moment due to certain readers. Suffice it to say it was the equivalent of writing, illustrating, and printing two books. The work that went into them can't be fully appreciated and I doubt I will ever take up the hobby full time because it was such a disappointment to have to do it all alone. There are several groups for this type of hobby back in the states and now I know why people get together to do this. Much like quilting, it's better with company. Otherwise it was just me with a mess spreading across the table and three rambunctious children screaming wildly through the house uninhibited.

My second project was to use up a bag full of beads which I had purchased last year for a project I never got around to. Homemade IcicleI had bought several varieties and brought them home to match up with the colors in our bedroom intending on returning the rejects. I was still learning and the lesson from this experience was that sale items were not returnable, even if you actually returned them within the one week deadline stated on the receipt. I was so disappointed at having to spent 70 euros for beads I'd only use a quarter of that the whole project became a sore in the back of my mind best left completely alone.) While looking through some original ideas for Christmas ornament projects I could do with the girls I ran across this one. I envisioned myself wrapping up tassels, stringing them to the end of wire, passing them one by one to my children and watching them create one beautiful icicle after another. Little did I know how impossible it would be to, one, figure out how to create a tiny tassel and, two, interpret Martha's 4-step tassel how-to with a tiny photo of the four steps not any bigger than the tassel I was attempting to make. Here I was, so proud of myself for having purchased the extra materials while the kids were in school and had all my supplies on hand by the time they were done with their after school snack to sit down together and create, but I failed to realize there was a flaw in my plan. It didn't take long for the kids to figure out they wouldn't be stringing beads onto provided wire in a jiffy after mom threw a temper tantrum or two and banished them to the attic while I tried to figure out the instructions within the comfortable confines of silence. I think it was too late, I'd already muddled my brain as to how I thought my fingers should proceed and it was an hour and a half later that I'd actually created a complete and beautiful tassel. Sigh . . . It didn't take too long after that to get four strings made, ready and waiting at the abandoned posts, and I was soon keeping up with their fast demand. I made as many strings out of as much rope I had bought to tassel with and we'd still only used a quarter of those beads. Still, I'm a happier person now that I've created a Christmas masterpiece (mind you, even with moments of peace) with my children.

Candy FaceMy next project was old-fashioned fudge which was meant to replace our "traditional" marshmallow mixture fudge. Not having access to the jars of marshmallow here in the Netherlands I took my new candy thermometer and ventured into the world of "real" fudge. I was intimidated. My mother scorned me in recent years saying her new fiance could make "real fudge, not that fake marshmallow kind" and I've since been dared to achieve it and, simultaneously, scared to fail. The chance presented itself this weekend and I pounced with determination. I succeeded and my husband has since begged me to trash all other recipes for this melt-in-your-mouth fudge. I set aside the best pieces for a dinner party we were invited to and saved the scruffy edges for our tree decorating evening.

My neuroscientist husband had a rat to take care of this weekend so we didn't see much of him. I was very disappointed that we did not have time to get a Christmas tree on Saturday and by Sunday I'd given up on the whole idea and figured all that fudge would be eaten throughout the rest of the week without the Christmas tree tradition. Then, around 5:30 Sunday evening, my man came tromping in through the back gate with a Christmas tree over his shoulders. He'd found the last one in a the next town over and walked with it the entire way home. I'd say he made up for missing the family outing last year. Hmmmmm . . . it seems I have left it out of the blog last year probably because of the heart breaking effect it had on me. I suppose you'll want a recap:

I'd learned of the places I could find a Christmas tree from a new friend, although she didn't realize we had only our bikes to get us to and from and the place she entioned was not easily found via bike. Still, I was willing to attempt the process with the reward being great activities and concessions to be found and the kids were guaranteed to love it. I'd planned the day out starting with traveling to pick up the tree, bringing it home, eating sweets, and decorating it with the few items we'd picked up here and there during our holiday shopping. The key to this day was actually having my husband come home from the office at a prearranged time. The girls and I waited hour upon hour for him to come home and we could wait no longer. The table was set with sweets, the floor was cleared for the tree, and yet there was no father to take us on the excursion. They were in tears and I gave them the option: wait for another day when dad can join us or head out on the bike right now to pick up a tree on our own. They have proven to be as impulsive as I and so I was not surprised at their immediate answer. We headed out into the cold and rainy night to find our tree. Because we only had an hour left before the stores closed I only visited the nursery down the road. We bagged the tree and went in search of a stand with no luck. I reached the conclusion that nowhere near had a stand for purchase and, determined to put the tree up that night, I stopped by said friends house and begged to use a spare stand in promise of eventually purchasing them a new one whenever I found a place that sold them. So off I went in tears through the rain with wet kids and tree piled in between them in the stroller behind my bike. We returned home to find the man of the house waiting for us. He'd chosen to spend 50 euros on a taxi to try and get home before the stores closed, but missed us anyway. It was one of the most miserable nights I remember of last winter. The tree was hacked into a pencil shape to fit into the borrowed stand and decorated in strange silence.

This year was just the opposite. Everyone was so thrilled to see a Christmas tree come through the door with Dad. Nobody was disappointed that it wasn't obtained in our traditional family adventure, but then you can hardly call picking up a pre-cut Christmas tree at a store the kind of outing we're used to. The table was quickly adorned with the home-made fudge, candy canes shipped from Grandma and Grandpa in America, hot chocolate with whipped cream on top and hot buttered rum for mom and dad. The tree was adorned with the newly made icicles and topped with the angel we brought with us from the states that my mother had made. The evening was perfect aside from the fact that Squirrel Monkey was ill.Illness

She had taken ill suddenly upon arriving at our friends place for dinner the night before and we ended up leaving early because she was hovering over the toilet expecting the worst. She slept through the night, but awoke with a fever and aches in the morning. Literally, just as Dad walked out the door for work she threw up. I have learned not to take her bought's with puke days lightly as they normally result in a hospital stay for rehydration so I stepped up my efforts to keep her hydrated. I thoroughly expected her to fill the bucket every 5 to 10 minutes as usual, but instead the times she threw up could be counted on one hand from the time her father walked out the door to the entrance of the Christmas tree. Still, she lay limp and listless through the evening only peaking out of the slit of an eye to watch the decorating process, though she did partake in a candy cane as we thought the sugar and peppermint may do her some good.

At the time I am writing this blog she is eating her first full meal of oatmeal and apple and only running a low grade fever of 100.8 F. You've no idea how happy I am not to have ended up in the hospital again. That right there is something to be thankful for this Christmas.

1 comment:

daphne said...

Look at how A is so cute and quiet on the sofa! You would never think she was this silent if you saw her yesterday! Arts and crafts run rampid in your house! Glitter all over, i am still covered in them and loving it!
Getting a christmas tree is a drama - we still have to take ours from the attic... and i doubt we will... maybe we will get a real one, but then the ornaments still need to get down. Paper maché most of them and hopefully they made it through a year, stored in the dampest place of the house...
I'll make pics and post them, if we get around to it!
love, daphne