One of my favorite seasonal traditions

Our little family went to see The Nutcracker this afternoon. It’s a tradition we started when Caroline was four and Elizabeth almost one — seeing a local ballet studios production performed at a high school. It’s a beautiful, yet affordable and toddler-attention-level friendly performance with some professional dancers and lots of dancers en pointe along with littler dancers, too.

The Nutcracker has been a love of Caroline’s since dancers from the Ballet Austin production visited her preschool when she was three and I was pregnant with Elizabeth. She became enamored and would dance at home with her nutcracker. I found a youtube video of the performance, and she watched it over and over again. She determined her unborn sibling would be a boy and that she would dance Clara’s part and he Fritz’s. Well, she ended up with a little sister that January and we didn’t talk much about the Nutcracker again until we went to the next Christmas’s production where we saw the Fritz role redefined as “little sister.” This year, the bickering scenes seemed especially realistic!

The cherry on the top, though, was that Caroline also got to perform tonight in excerpts from the Nutcracker with her own school’s dance troupe at the Zilker Holiday Festival. Elizabeth was disappointed that there was no “little sister” in this production, but I loved seeing my dancer up on stage!

Oh my aching dogs!

I am tired! I try not to be a complainer, especially of the “I”m so busy” sort. I realize I live a life of leisure. 🙂 But this holiday season has me running crazy!

I have multiple lists going and multiple bags/boxes of materials for the various events I am planning.

There’s a bag of supplies for Caroline’s class party. I’m the room mom, so I’m the party planner. We’re having a snow theme. I got clear plastic ornaments for the kids to make handprint snowmen on. They’ll embellish their fingerprints with hats, scarves, buttons, etc. They’ll also have an instant snow play station and a snow (cotton) ball throwing/fight station before enjoying their snowman cupcakes and treats. I have everything from my list for this except cotton balls and candy for the take-home bags.

Then there’s a box of costumes for the church live nativity the kids are doing. I went easy and ordered the costumes from Oriental Trading, and I sought volunteer help from church members to embellish and alter them a bit. I have made three of the angel wings so far and estimate I need to make about nine more. I also need to come up with something for the shepherd headpieces. I’m thinking dish towels, but I keep forgetting to look for cheapos when I’m out shopping. It is on my list, but for some reason, I keep overlooking it. The angel wings are actually an easy project, thanks to ready made paper butterfly wings I found at Michaels. Six in a pack, complete with elastics to be worn on the back, for $2.99 a pack. And, being at Michael’s, they were buy one get one free!  I’m just stapling gold tinsel garland around them to make them more angelic. Along with the costuming piles are the “quiet” activity bags for the kids during the Christmas Eve service. They are about halfway complete. And, of course, my normal Sunday School lesson stuff.

The Christmas gift pile, as of tonight, has been redistributed. The girls’ gifts are wrapped (except a couple of items I am awaiting shipment on). Our Bindel name-drawing gifts are halfway done — still waiting on one to ship, and one needs on-the-spot assemblage. The other two are wrapped and under the tree. I am so thankful both sides of our family have simplified Christmas gifting.

And then I just need to make sure my piles and boxes and bags are moved out next weekend so nobody trips when I host our church’s Christmas caroling party. I ran all the way to Costco today (even though I was just there Tuesday to pick up my Christmas cards….grrrr….sometimes my lists fail me!) to order the sandwich trays. This one is easy. No prep work for me. I provide the sanchwiches and space, and our friends bring other goodies. Then we head out to serenade the neighbors. It’s great fun.

I am sad that in all this busy-ness, I will only make about 10 minutes of Elizabeth’s Christmas party at MDO. John is going to have to take my place and bring her home because her party is from 1-1:30, and Caroline’s class party starts at 1:45. I’ll need to be set up and ready to go for that group of kids by then, so I’ll need to start around 1:15. I’ll be there, though, for Elizabeth’s Christmas performance at MDO on Tuesday. Saturday, I’ll watch Caroline perform twice — once with her school choir at Breakfast with Santa and again at the Zilker Holiday Tree festival when she dances as a Russian Peppermint in excerpts from the Nutcracker. And in between those performances (and after I volunteer my hour shift at said Breakfast for Santa) the whole family will go see The Nutcracker together.

Fun. Fun. Fun. So much fun, I can only handle it once a year!

5K!

Our little family participated in our first 5K last weekend. Here in Austin, you can find a 5K (or marathon or half) to run pretty much every weekend! We did the Lights of Love 5K to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Austin as part of Caleb’s Army. Caleb and his family go to our church, and the Smiths have been able to stay at the RMDH in Cincinnati where Caleb goes for his special surgeries. Caleb was born with a condition called Imperferate Anus (IA). He had his first surgery in Austin at just a day old, but in October, he got an anus! He has many more surgeries ahead of him, and RMDH will be a second home to his mom and dad and sisters during those surgeries and recoveries. You can read more about Caleb and his journey on his Caring Bridge site. (Do go read it. His mama writes beautifully and honestly.)

As for us, John ran the 5K in 22 minutes. Not bad, my dear! The girls rode in the double stroller while I walked. We stopped for hot chocolate. We stopped for water. We looked at neighborhood lights. Caroline got out and walked a bit. We petted doggies and talked to other kids. We finished in 55 minutes.

Diet Coke-Free!

Hello blog,
Good to see you again. My *old* friend, Erica (who happened to turn 39 yesterday! Happy Birthday!) at Haphazard Happenstances, has issued her annual blogging challenge again — to blog every (remaining) day between now and Christmas. Since my blog has been collecting dust lately, I thought I’d give it a go. After all, I do have a few thoughts I’ve been meaning to record here for my future reference.

So, without further ado. . . Christmas Blogging Challenge Day One
I have made a change that will save my family hundreds of dollars a year. A change that should positively impact my health. A change that some say may help me lose weight. I have stopped drinking Diet Coke.

Now, that alone is a big deal for anyone, but I will share my deep dark secret. I drank about 64 oz a day of Diet Coke. Seriously. It was a bad addiction. When we traveled overnight, I’d bring my own Diet Coke for the morning. On the way out the door, anywhere, anytime, I’d grab a Diet Coke for the road. It was my “morning coffee”, my mid-morning break, my lunch beverage, and my afternoon pick-me-up. I preferred my Diet Coke in the 16 oz bottles. Easier for on the go and much more effective at retaining the fizzy burn on the down gulps. I did not like drinking from 2-liters at all. Once opened, the fizz just isn’t the same. If a can was the only option, I’d drink it from a wine glass.

I’ve cut back before — during pregnancy and for a day or two at other times — but even then, I allowed myself one a day.This time, for some reason, I just went cold turkey. I ran out at home, and rather than make a special trip to buy more, I just didn’t. For the first three weeks, I drank an orange juice in the morning, water all day, and occasionally wine in the evenings. At Thanksgiving, I opened one bottle of Diet Coke left at my dad’s from my last visit. And it wasn’t that good. I let John finish it. Now, I don’t plan to be a tee-totaler or anything. In fact, this weekend, after the Ronald McDonald House Lights of Love 5K, we were heading home late with sleepy girls and empty stomachs, so we went through a McDonalds Drive-Thru. I ordered a Dr. Pepper. It was delish! I will allow myself the occasional indulgence of a Dr Pepper or Root Beer or lemonade with fast food or at the movies. I will try to avoid aspartame. That is what seems to be the real evil — more so than caffeine.

I still find myself wanting a Diet Coke, though. It is a comforting ritual for me. Relaxing and re-energizing at the same time. Some foods (mostly junky ones!) just call for a Diet Coke accompaniment. But, it’s been more than a month now. And I have done it. Really, this is probably the longest I have gone in my walking years (yes, that long. I got Coke in my bottle. Pictures to prove it!) without Coke. I am proud of myself.

(Now, I just need to build myself up to the challenge of eliminating sugar! No promises.)