Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One Final Christmas Post

Okay, I know you're probably as tired of Christmas as I am. In fact, I have considered saving this post for next year, but honestly, by then I probably won't remember it. So bear with me. Who knows, maybe you could adapt this idea for Valentine's Day.

As I've told you before, we spend Christmas Eve at my mother-in-law's home with all of Patrick's siblings and their families. We used to all draw names, but a few years ago, the men opted out of the gift exchange. The sisters and sisters-in-law still draw names and exchange a gift. Our kids also draw names and exchange gifts. And everyone buys gifts for all the little ones.

I  have an alter-ego named Elvira Elf who gives gifts to all the women who are there for Christmas Eve. It's always something very small, never more than $5. I don't have to do it, but it's something I really enjoy doing. It's fun to look for or make just the right gift at a price I can afford. This year's gift was such a hit, I thought I would share it with you.

This year's gift was nail polish and pedicure toe separators.

My original idea was to wrap the nail polish in a tube (I used empty toilet paper rolls). However, when I added the toe separators, I couldn't fit both pieces into one tube. So I ended up splitting two tubes and nesting them together to make one wider roll.

I then wrapped them with two layers of tissue paper and tied yarn on both ends so they looked like Christmas Crackers. The final touch was a tag labeled "For Your Twinkle Toes."

Here is what each gift cracker included:
  • Pure Ice nail polish - $1.99 each at Wal-Mart
  • Glittery toe separators - 99 cents each from Big Lots
  • Glittered tissue in red and green - $1 from Dollar Tree
  • Empty toilet paper rolls - FREE
  • Yarn which was left over from another project - FREE
If you haven't tried Pure Ice nail polish, I highly recommend it. It's very inexpensive and, if you use a base coat and a top coat, it holds up very well. It also comes in all the latest colors. 

This idea was inspired by several things I saw on Pinterest. They all used "For Your Mistle Toes" instead of "For your Twinkle Toes."

I'm working in second grade the rest of this week and Our Little Princesses will be here for the weekend. I'll be back with new posts next week.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Carrying On A Holiday Tradition

One of my favorite moments of the very busy recent holiday season was taking Princess E to see the Corpus Christi Ballet performance of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker.

When Katy and Nick were little, I took them a couple of times and they always seemed to enjoy it. The best seats we could afford in those days were in the balcony, so it was always kind of a birds-eye view. I always loved dressing them in their Sunday best for a trip to the ballet. That early exposure to a cultural event that was different from what they saw on a daily basis helped them appreciate music and dance. We also took them to live theater performances whenever we could.

Princess E and Grams all dressed up for the ballet.

On Saturday, December 15, Katy, Travis, Nick, and Marie ran in the Run for Your Life Zombie Run in Austin. When they decided to do that I volunteered to keep Our Little Princesses so they could make a weekend of it. Fortunately, it coincided with the local production of The Nutcracker. We went to the Saturday night performance that included the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra.

Princess E will be four years old in February while Princess J will not turn two until April. We decided that it would not be a good idea to try to take a 20-month-old to the ballet, so she spent an evening at home with Grandad while Princess E and I made it a girls night out with my good friends Deanna Solomon, Mary Lou Simmons, and Megan Wright.

Katy did her part by preparing Princess E in advance. They watched the animated version and listened to the music for several weeks before our trip. So before we went, she was familiar with the story and the music. She could even name many of the songs as they played.

For me, an important part of taking children to a live performance is teaching them proper theater etiquette. We were in our seats well before the curtain went up and I made sure that she went to the bathroom before we took our seats so we wouldn't have to get up during the performance.

As soon as the curtain went up she was completely enthralled. She stood in front of me for almost the entire performance with her eyes absolutely devouring every movement on the stage. She loved every minute of it. I will admit that it didn't hold her attention quite as well after intermission, but all in all she adored it.

The auditorium was packed. We were fortunate enough to meet the young lady who danced the role of Clara after the performance. She very graciously took the time to speak to Princess E and posed for a photo which I cannot find. I believe one of my friends took it and it may be on one of their phones, but I don't have it.

I was very amused by the number of older ladies who approached me after the play asking me where she was studying and who she was studying with. They had all noted her enthusiasm for the ballet and thought she should be taking classes. I explained politely that she is only three years old and lives in San Antonio. They all encouraged her to start taking lessons as soon as possible.

I have seen local productions of The Nutcracker several times. This year's production was definitely the best I've ever seen. The costuming was elaborate and beautiful, the scenery was well done. The dancers and the music were far better than I've seen in Corpus Christi before. Both the local cast and the featured dancers were exceptionally good.

I think next year, we're going to try to attend a performance in Houston or San Antonio. I can't wait until Princess J is old enough to join us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Never-Ending Holiday

Grandad and I have always lived within about 30 minutes of both of our parents. This made holidays easy because we never had to choose. And to further simplify matters, his family traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve and my family on Christmas Day.

As our family has grown, the holiday season has gotten more complicated. I try to be reasonable, but, darn it, this is the one thing that I'm not good at sharing. I really want all them to come home for Christmas every year.

When Katy & Travis first married, they would come home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day one year, then they next year they would celebrate those two days with Travis' family and then come to see us sometime in the next few days. When Nick was single, he would just hang out in town as long as he was off work and then we would all celebrate together whenever Katy and Travis could make it home. It wasn't bad, because Travis' family is in San Antonio which is only about two hours away. They would often come home in the evening on Christmas Day or the next morning.

Then, when Nick and Marie married, it got complicated. Nick and Marie live in Houston. It's about 4.5 hours from their house to ours. But that's not the killer distance. Marie's family is in El Paso. I have been told that El Paso is the farthest point from Corpus Christi that is still in Texas. It's approximately 700 miles from Corpus Christi to El Paso. Conservatively, that's a 9.5 hour drive. And, that makes visiting both families for the same holiday unreasonable if not impossible.

So, around the time Nick and Marie got married, the kids started alternating years. One year Nick and Marie would go to El Paso and the next year they would come to Corpus Christi. The year that Nick and Marie went to El Paso, Katy and Travis would come to Corpus Christi. This resulted in having one set of kids each Christmas, but never having both at the same time for Christmas. I was not pleased with this arrangement, so I suggested that they re-arrange their schedules to both be in Corpus Christi one year, and the next year they would both visit their in-laws. My thinking was that in the years that they did not come home for Christmas, we would take a cruise or a trip. My hope was that, such a trip would take my mind off the fact that my kids and grandkids were not home for Christmas. They were very receptive to re-arranging their schedules and did so without complaint.

This was the first year that both of our children went to their in-laws for the holidays. We did not take a Christmas vacation this year because we took a vacation in October and our finances didn't allow for another trip so soon. Plus, Patrick's mother is still living, and I don't want to deprive him of Christmas with his mother who is now over 80 years old. So, we ended up having Christmas Eve with Grandad's family and on Christmas Day we were on our own.

Add to all this that I have a sister with special needs who lives in a group home in Seguin. Since we did not have any plans, we volunteered to have Kay for Christmas.

All of this resulted in what I have come to call the never-ending holiday.

Thursday, November 28 - Saturday, December 1 - We traveled to Houston where Grandad worked Thursday and Friday while I shopped. Then we kicked off the holiday season with Grandad's company Christmas party on Saturday night. We returned home on Sunday evening.

Wednesday, December 5 - Annual Bunco Christmas Party. This is one of the best events of the season for me. We go to a restaurant and relax and talk for a couple of hours. It's twelve women that I enjoy spending time with and there is no stress related to this party.

Thursday, December 6 - Annual Christmas Party dinner with my former co-workers. This is a tradition that we have continued since we all worked together several years ago. It's good to get together with them and catch up on everyone.

Weekend of December 8 & 9 - We started putting up our Christmas tree and realized that the lights were not going to work. So we went and bought a new tree and came home and put it up. The rest of that week was spent decorating the rest of the house.

Friday, December 14 - Sunday, December 16 - We enjoyed a visit from Our Little Princesses while all our kids ran in the Run For Your Life 5K Zombie Run in Austin. The highlight of the weekend was a trip to The Nutcracker for Princess E and Grams. It was a fabulous event. There will be more on that in a later post.

Friday, December 21 - We spent the night at Katy & Travis' home in San Antonio. Nick & Marie also spent the night on their way to El Paso. The kids all gave us their Christmas gifts on Friday night. We did not anticipate receiving our gifts then, so we did not have their gifts with us.

Saturday, December 22 - We drove from San Antonio to Stockdale for a Christmas party with The Vanecek Family (my mother-in-laws family). We left there around 4 p.m. and drove to Seguin to pick up Kay, then drove home to Corpus Christi.

Sunday, December 23 - Just when I thought all my shopping was done, I realized that, since Kay was here, I needed to stuff a stocking for her. So, after our traditional morning mass and family breakfast with Grandad's family, I spent the day shopping for last-minute gifts. I also joined Grandad's family for an ill-fated trip to the movies to see The Hobbit. Not only was I so exhausted that I fell asleep several times, the projector broke and they had to restart the movie a couple of times.

Monday, December 24 - I cooked and wrapped gifts all day, then we attended Christmas Eve mass, followed by our annual celebration of Christmas with Grandad's siblings at my mother-in-law's house.

Tuesday, December 25 - We spent a quiet Christmas Day at home opening gifts with Kay and each other. Then we watched movies at home.

Wednesday, December 26 - We drove back to Seguin to drop Kay off at the group home. Then we met Bylinda in San Marcos for lunch and to exchange gifts. We stopped at a couple of stores at the outlet mall which was very crowded. Then we drove home.

Friday, December 28 - Sunday, December 30 - Katy, Travis, and Our Little Princesses came home to celebrate Christmas. Katy and Travis left on Sunday.

Sunday, December 30 - Tuesday, January 1 - Our Little Princesses stayed with us for Grams & Pop-pop's Rockin' Toddler New Year's Eve. On Tuesday, we drove to Three Rivers where we returned the girls to their parents and came back home.

Wednesday, January 2 - I hosted my annual Bunco party which included cleaning my house after a visit from the Princesses and cooking dinner for 12 people.

Friday, January 4 - Sunday, January 6 - Nick and Marie came home to celebrate Christmas with us.

Tuesday, January 8 - I undecorated the Christmas tree and put away the indoor Christmas decorations.

Thursday, January 10 - Grandad moved the Christmas tree out of the living room into the garage.

Saturday, January 19 - Grandad took the outdoor decorations down and put them away.

Thank God, the never-ending holiday is finally over. During the two weeks we were out of school I also did some sewing for other people. I made five garments for one customer and hemmed ten pairs of pants.

Needless to say, this schedule did not really work for me. I was physically and emotionally exhausted by the time it was over. 2013 is our year to have the kids here for the holidays. Before the holidays in 2014, we will have a new plan. I think reverting to the original idea to travel over the holidays may be in strong consideration. Time will tell.

Anyway, this post is meant to explain my somewhat conspicuous absence from blogging for the past six weeks. I really am going to try to make an effort to get back to posting twice a week. 

How do you handle sharing the holidays with your grown children and grands? I'd definitely be open to any helpful suggestions.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Did Something About It Today!

I am enjoying a few days off work while the Nueces County Junior Livestock Show is underway.

It's been cold (for South Texas) and dreary the past couple of weeks, so I'm delighted that the sun has been out for two days. I met my very good friend, Janna, for lunch today at a new restaurant that is located on the Corpus Christi bayfront.

Citrus Bayfront Bistro is located inside the Art Center of Corpus Christi. They serve soups, salads, and sandwiches. I had a cup of Savory Chicken Soup and half of a ham and cheese sandwich. Janna had the daily special which was a brisket sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce. The chicken soup was remarkably good, maybe the best I've had in a restaurant. It featured a clear chicken broth with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, green beans, and shredded chicken. The sandwich was served on a very good bolillo roll with homemade mayonnaise. Half of the sandwich was a lot. I couldn't eat all of it. Janna said that her brisket sandwich, also served on a bolillo, was good, but she would have liked it better if the brisket had been leaner.

We sat and chatted for quite a while and then moved to the parking lot. It was such a pretty day, we both pulled out our phones and snapped a photo. Look at that blue sky. Yes, it really was that blue. The temperature was about 65 degrees and there was a very light breeze. All in all, the perfect winter day in South Texas. Our local weather man calls this "chamber of commerce weather."

We just kept talking right there in the parking lot. Pretty soon, we started to hear some raised voices, but we couldn't really see where they were coming from. We kept talking and the voices got louder and louder. We walked a few steps back toward the building and we could see that there was a domestic altercation going on at a parked car right across the street. We stood there and watched and listened for a few minutes and noticed that the yelling turned to pushing and shoving. When we saw it get physical, we decided that it was time to call 911. Janna made the call while I kept watching. I must say, the dispatcher didn't seem to be able to understand our location, but did eventually get that we were in the parking light of the Art Center.

Shortly after the 911 call was concluded, the woman from the car walked toward us and we told her that we had called the police. We introduced ourselves to her and she gave us her name. We stood talking to her while we waited for the police to arrive. While we waited, the guy she had been with approached the three of us. When he got within about ten feet, Janna told him that he needed to stop right where he was and not come any closer. He began to shout obscenities and berate the woman, saying that she made him behave that way.

We did not confront him, except to stand between the two of them. We talked with her until the police arrived. She told us that she had been breaking up with him for the third time. She also said that they had been to counseling and he was trying to get help. We told her several times that she could do better and that she should not be with a man who treated her that way. We also told her about our local women's shelter and encouraged her to do whatever she needed to do to get away from him permanently.

When the police arrived, the first thing they did was take him a few feet away and talk with him separately. After a few minutes a second officer arrived and talked with her. He asked us a couple of questions and then told us we could go. Before we left, he asked her if she wanted to press charges. We were disappointed when she said no.

I've got to admit, I felt a little bit like I was on the television show "What Would You Do." I halfway expected John Quinones to come walking out with a camera crew behind him.

In the long run, I was very proud of us for intervening. I do not usually get involved. Honestly, I probably would have called 911, but I probably would not have stayed there if I had been alone. I'm a big chicken that way. But, Janna is a stand-up kind of girl. She did not hesitate to get involved. In her words "I DID something about it today! Did you?"