The Calm Before the Storm

Here we are the week before Christmas, and I am feeling incredibly calm.  This week has been no less hectic that the past few, but my attitude has somehow changed.  I think that a big part of it is that I have made list upon list upon list, and I LOVE checking things off of a list.  Last week I was living by my "head calendar," as one of my friends pointed out, and I was dropping the ball left and right.

It all started Monday night at basketball practice for the boys.  I was off my game because my husband got called into an emergency at work and couldn't make it to practice (problem because he's the coach.)  We raced around as usual before practice to try and cram some food into the choice of the night was lamb burgers.  One of the boys LOVED it, the other wouldn't touch it, (although he ate it and loved it the next day...hmmm) and the baby ate a few bites and then proceeded to throw the rest on the floor, which, by the way, is her new favorite game.  Once we got to practice, I know I looked like a bug whose eyes are about to pop out of its head because I was running around chasing my one year old, who only wants to be where the action is and is constantly trying to get herself nailed with a basketball, and trying to make sure the boys were where they needed to be, participating, etc.  The five year old was fine, and the parents were awesome to pick up the slack with no coach present...the four year old was a different story.  My four year old lives with his head in the clouds and has the greatest imagination.  He doesn't actually "play" basketball, but he "pretends to play" basketball.  He has his own role plays going on in his head with coaches, refs, other players, etc, and it usually doesn't really match up with what his coach is actually trying to get him to do.  It is really funny to watch, actually, but I am trying to find the balance in letting his imagination run wild and in getting him to follow the "rules."  He's four, I think we're fine...right?

Tuesday, I needed a do-over.  I forgot to drop off a friend's stroller for her new baby.  I forgot my child's diaper bag when I dropped her off in the nursery before Bible study.  I forgot to do prayer requests at Bible study (how can you forget that?!?!?)  I forgot that I had signed up to be the mystery guest reader in my four-year old's class.  Luckily his brilliant teacher emailed me that morning and I happened to check it as I was leaving Bible study.  I made it 2 minutes late...with no book...and no entertainment for the one year old.  It was a special special day to say the least.  This is the day that my friend used the term "head calendar," and that spoke directly to how I was living last week.  I quickly added a 2014 planner to my Christmas wish list.  That night, I made a delicious and beautiful meal, gnocchi with spinach cream sauce.  It was so so yummy, but dinner was not so delightful.  The kids didn't like the pasta (I think it was the green,) and everyone was in melt down mode.  I posted a picture of our table with the baby screaming, one child standing in his chair, and the other child drinking his milk which he proceeded to dump on the floor right after I took the picture.  All we could do was hysterically laugh because it was just such an appropriate ending to the day. 

Wednesday, I decided I needed to get it together and make a plan...and when I say make a plan, I mean plan a cookie decorating party for 20ish kids.  We'll return to that in a bit.  Wednesday nights are always a bit of a disaster around here.  My mom used to say that she would "lose her religion on the way to church."  Well, that's what Wednesdays sometimes feel like for us.  The boys have choir and chimes, and we eat dinner at church.  My kids LOVE eating with their friends, and I love that they are excited about going to church.  BUT, it is always a late night, and everyone is usually crying on the way home, which makes bedtime pretty painful.  This is why we have decided to make Wednesday nights our date night in...we need it after the whirlwind of our evening.  I have talked about date nights in before, but I would highly recommend them once again.  It makes an ordinary night a little special, which is what each of us needs every once in a while.

Thursday was a breeze...I got my haircut, I visited a friend and her new baby, I made a kid-friendly dinner of chicken cordon bleu, and my best friend and her kiddos came over for a playdate and stayed for an impromptu dinner.  It was lovely.  ALL five children ate all of their food, and my friend and I got to enjoy each other's company while our hubbies worked late.  I must've needed some calm before the storm on Friday...which leads us to the oh so crazy and oh so fabulous Christmas Cookie Decorating Party...

My four year old had been begging me to decorate cookies, and I had put him off all week.  So, I decided it would be fun to have a few friends over to join us.  I was already planning on helping a friend make gingerbread houses for our kindergarteners' class, so I figured my kitchen would already be in disarray.  Well, the cookie idea just snowballed, and I ended up with three banquet tables full of kids making beautiful Christmas cookies.  I kept it simple with break and bake cookies and made buttercream frosting (recipe here...I added a little extra milk so that the consistency was a little more runny.)  I covered the tables with craft paper and bought condiment bottles from Michaels to put the frosting in.  We laid out 3 colors of frosting and several bottles of sprinkles on each table and let the kids go nuts.  It was WILD, and the kids had a blast.  We still have no rugs in our house, so I figured now was a great time to do this party and not stress out about having sugar in all forms all over my floors.  I learned a few things in the process...sprinkles are pretty but kind of a bad idea (I am still finding and stepping on them.)  Next time, I will use bigger candies and bigger cookies.  I will give the girls 2 cookies and the boys 5, and it will take them the same amount of time to decorate them ;)  The girls really were amazing with their exquisitely decorated cookies, and the boys pretty much dumped a bunch of icing and at least half a bottle of sprinkles on their cookies and called it a
day.  Luckily the weather was nice so that they could go burn off some energy after the sugar high!!  That night, we ordered pizza.

Saturday night was a holiday block party and an impromptu date night out...gasp, I know!

I want to share a link to one of my favorite blogs about slowing down during the holidays.  I read this Monday morning, and I think it has a lot to do with why I'm feeling more calm and at peace this week.  Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS WEEK!!

Happy Cooking!  

On this week's menu are butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce, pizza casserole, kid-friendly turkey chili, some holiday treats, and a couple of breakfast casseroles for next week.

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