Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like ...

... Christmas
...and finals week
....and the end of the semester
...and the end of the review window on my September project so I should get news any minute
...and the last few weeks before year-end-status-reports on my career (meaning I have a pile of projects to try to move into the next stage of completion before 12/31)
...and the end of the year for everyone else's so I have a pile of journal articles to review for other people
...and the start of a new semester for both Rob and me in a few short syllabus-planning filled weeks.

**Gasping for breath**

We put the tree up on the first Sunday of Advent (Dec 2) and then St Nick came on the 6th as always and filled the shoes with chocolate coins (I thought ahead this year and bought dairy-free chocolate coins on Amazon weeks in advance) and the stockings with small toys (a basic Barbie, a simple wooden model car, and some pop-together-beads) and more candy and personal ornaments for the tree (baking, train rides, beach trip, Chicago trip, playing with daddy, and more).  We hung those ornaments that morning and a dozen or so more that night before deciding we just didn't feel like doing the whole tote full of ornaments and declared it done.  Simple is beautiful, right?

In other news, the weekend before Thanksgiving I checked my weight on the Wii for the first time in months and it cheerfully informed me I was now overweight. I'm off the medication that was making me so tired and chubby, but apparently my body didn't notice.  That same day while killing time at the mall waiting for the kids to finish at a birthday party, I had noticed a Zumba class being offered at a studio near-ish to campus and the kids' school so I stopped in on Monday to try the "Zumba Gold" class which is "designed for the older active adult, the true beginner and the deconditioned".  Yep, that's me.  Turns out I loved it, despite not knowing a single song and mostly looking like an uncoordinated epileptic heavily sweating robot.  I went back everyday that week, three times Thanksgiving week, and 3-4 times each week since--even twice in one day this week!  I moved up to regular Zumba classes (where I look like a disoriented red-headed gasping panda in a room full of Barbies) and it's kicking my ever-shrinking butt.  I've lost 7 pounds and am having SO MUCH FUN.

What else...  The kids and I have made about 8 dozen sugar mice with these cute molds (moulds?) that our friend in the UK sent us (thanks Lindsay!).  We also made a version of "muddy buddies" or "puppy chow" that uses corn chex, chocolate, peppermint extract, and powdered sugar and tastes like a Thin Mint.  But gluten and dairy free, unlike Thin Mints on both counts.   Basically:

1. Melt a whole box of Bakers Semi-sweet chocolate squares (these are dairy free) or chocolate chips of your preference. 90 seconds in the microwave is easy enough. 
2. Stir some peppermint extract in.  A 1/2 tsp is a good start. It occurred to me today it would be nice to toss a few candy canes in the coffee/spice grinder (mini food processor) and pulverize them and stir the dust in instead.   
3. Pour chocolate over about 3/4 of a box of Chex in a big bowl.  Stir to coat. 
4. Put about 1/2 a bag of powdered sugar in a giant ziplock bag and then dump the chocolate coated cereal in and zip shut.  Shake it.  Shake it. Shake it like a Polaroid picture.   If the coating seems thin, add some more powdered sugar and shake some more.  Done.  (After a day or so--if it lasts that long!--the powdered sugar may start to be absorbed by the chocolate.  Just shake in another scoop of sugar.  Or eat it faster.)
[And before someone points out the relationship between this and the last point, I have had almost none of these treats for myself other than a pinch to taste.  Surprisingly easy to refrain when a chirpy Wii-shaped animation is telling you that you really need to lose weight.]

Christmas shopping is nearly done thanks to Amazon Prime and once we get a few more handmade projects done we'll be able to ship out the gift packages to far flung relatives. If I can keep the kids from dismantling the wrapped packages in those boxes, that is.

Rob has been teaching a microscopy unit to Katie's classroom.

I'm drafting a craft day for the classroom that also provides some cultural/historical/geographic material.  (Anyone that knows me well is laughing thinking of ME teaching anything to do with history or geography.  But my beef with both of those is that it's always the history of politics (King Bob ruled from 1234 to 1242 and then King Ed from 1243 to 1263...snoooooooooze).  I loved my history of education class, history of math, historical fiction, or any other specialized topic across a historical context.  Just skip the list of dates and rulers, puuuuuhleeese.).

In addition to Religous Ed on Wednesdays, Katie is in choir which meets Sunday mornings from 10-10:30 followed by mass (where her choir sings in the children's mass) from 10:45-11:45 and then coffee social until 12:15 and now--just for kicks--the big kids are also in the Christmas Eve re-enactment ("It's Not a PLAY!" hisses the director for the 50th time.  "It's the LIVING WORD OF GOD.").  This means they have play re-enactment practice from 12:15 until 1PM which, yes, puts us in church for 3 hours on Sunday.  That will fill up Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of the days before Christmas.

In short: Never ever ever a dull moment.


  1. I loved when I could go to Zumba! Except the teacher who thought it was a Bollywood class and wore skimpy skintight clothes, she was annoying. Loved the other teachers though and I just felt so good about myself for doing it!

  2. I love your descriptions! A red-headed crack me up.

    Three hours on Sunday, huh? You tie with us! :)

    Amen to the memorizing dates and history. I enjoy history much better when it's a story about people instead of a recitation of anniversaries.

    Good luck with this month. Good gravy. Let me know if I need to send some extra oxygen your way.

  3. The "panda" part is because all of my workout clothes are black and white. I have a very strong "giant panda" vibe compared to all the skinny neon colored girls.