Christmas was exhausting around here...maybe I'm a wimp, but three solid days of family celebrations was a bit much. On Christmas Eve we hosted both sets of parents and both sets of siblings, plus hubby's grandpa and great uncle. I made German food and our exchange student made wienerschnitzel (which was eaten much faster than my sauerbraten, so maybe next year I'll switch) then we had my family's (Norwegian side) tradition of hiding an almond in rice pudding. The person who finds the almond gets the prize, which then must be shared (I'm sure that's just something my grandma insisted upon...) This year hubby's brother got the almond. Then, for Christmas, my parents came to our house in the morning and we did our gifts and their gifts, then we went over to MILs house, where we did more gifts and had a Christmas dinner of prime rib, then in the evening, the girls and I went up to my parents hotel (an hour drive away...they are kinda nuts!) to swim, and then had sandwiches at the hotel restaurant. The next morning we went to church, then started to get ready for hubby's extended family Christmas. Fortunately, the girls and I got to go home for several hours in the middle of the party because hubby had to feed the cows, but after a good long nap for the girls and some down time for me, we headed back into town for the rest of the party.
Between the three Christmases, our house kinda looked like Christmas threw up all over it...(well, parts of it still look this way!) Charlotte got 15 barbie dolls (okay, two of them were boys, and most of them were Disney princess barbie type dolls). Eva got a ridiculous amount of stuff, too. The playroom was messy enough that I didn't want them to take all their new toys in there until I got it cleaned out. Well, it took me more than 3 hours with a tall kitchen bag worth of trash and an overflowing tall kitchen bag worth of giveaway, but it looks beautiful now! (I should have taken some before pictures, but I couldn't bring myself to do that!)
I won a copy of the book "Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms" by Tami Kiser over at Catholicmom.com and that book was definitely my inspiration for getting the playroom taken care of...I thought a few of her ideas were just mindblowingly good, so I'll list a couple here. I am only halfway done with the book, and it is just awesome. I highly suggest you buy it (or at least get on the paperbackswap list for it!) I took all of the girls puzzles out of their broken boxes. I cut a small picture out of the box, I took sharpie markers, and for each puzzle I put a certain color mark on all of the puzzle pieces, the picture of the completed puzzle and the sandwich bag the puzzle is in. This way, if the girls dump together two or more puzzles it will be much easier to separate them into the right package...plus the sandwich bags (our biggest puzzle right now has 100 pieces...with bigger kids it might make more sense to use gallon size bags) take up far less space. I took this a step farther and got rid of all the nice wooden boxes that Melissa and Doug toys come in, and packaged the toys in gallon zip top bags. For instance, we had three different sets of lacing cards, and the cards hardly ever made it into the boxes, and the strings were just all over. All three sets plus the strings fit in a gallon zip top bag. So do all our viewfinder discs and view finder, etc.) I am also implementing the tip that if I tell the girls to clean up, and they don't do it, or leave stuff out, I will put it in a special basket in my closet, and they will have to do chores to get them back (she has her kids pay for stuff, but mine are still kinda little for that, so I'll just make them do more work!) An idea that I haven't implemented yet: Keep a trash can or hamper lined with a trash bag in your closet for giveaway items. Then when the bag is full put it in the car and take it buy the thrift store (of course, it's not quite as easy as that when you are as far away from a thrift store as us, but I love the trashcan with liner idea!)
We are planning on having family over tonight for new year's eve. I had originally intended to make appetizers and call it good enough, but before I knew it, my MIL had talked me into making prime rib instead (the farm was given 3 by a vendor, so each household technically should get one...of course, I have never made a prime rib before, so I am crossing my fingers that it's not too hard!) We are planning on ringing in the New York new year this year...since the girls have been going back and forth between being sick and healthy.
Speaking of sick kids...I didn't make it to Mass for Christmas. Charlotte started throwing up a couple of hours before midnight Mass, and so someone had to stay home with her, and then hubby had to work Christmas morning (the cows don't take a day off) so I might have been able to leave our exchange student at home with both little girls and gone to Mass in the morning, but I thought that it would probably be better if I were to stay home and make sure the girls were feeling okay before we started going to even more Christmas family stuff. They are still not at 100%, but they seem to be taking turns on who feels the worst (yesterday it was Eva, today it is looking like Charlotte is feeling worse.)
The kids weren't the only ones that got way too many Christmas presents...hubby and I did, too. My favorite gift was a Kindle from MIL...I have been having too much fun finding free books for it. Currently I am reading The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. I haven't bought any kindle books yet, because I am trying to figure out what I would like most. Any suggestions?
I really, really, really need to get to cleaning the house since I am having people over tonight, but part of me is saying "eh...they're family!" so they know what my house looks like. But, I guess it would be nice to start the new year with a clean house, so I guess I should go get started!
More quick takes at Conversion Diary!