Our Annual Holiday Letter

It has become apparent to us over the last month that next year we will need to send out Hanukkah cards because our friends have been showering us with lovely photos of their families and season’s wishes and we have sent nothing. Politely put, we are socially inept.

To our dearest friends, it is not you, it is us. I only managed to order photo calendars of the grandchildren for their grandparents over the weekend, so it’s sort of a holiday triage situation.

Hello dearest friends and family,

We write to you today as two adults and two children who are all sleeping through the night and it is a beautiful existence.

2018 brought us potty training, fully one month spent in urgent care with children, a nasal surgery for Marcus. Kat took a trip to Michigan to visit with her girlfriends. Everyone is still doing the same amount of work, parenting, and volunteering.

This year, Kat decided that she wanted to plant a berry patch in the back corner of our yard. Marcus has borne all of her ideas for this patiently. The deer have had other plans and have fully eaten a branch off of the sapling cherry tree. We will not be deterred.

Some days Critter wakes up and declares that he does not have a sister, but 15 months later they are finally starting to play with one another. Glitter has interest in at least one toy that does not belong to her brother. She is finally holding her own against him and it is pretty funny to watch.

The only real plan we have for 2019 is to build an elaborate play structure in our backyard so that the park lives at our house 24/7. We’ll invite you over to come play once it is up!

Merry Everything,

Us

For last year’s missive, click here.

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What I’ve Been Reading

Apparently I had it in me to read a few more books before the end of the year! Up the tally!

Grand total: 41 books.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Against the Gods by Peter Bernstein

Saudi America by Bethany McLean

This Could Hurt by Jillian Medoff

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

Friday Food Round-Up!

This week we made a lot of new meals because apparently I had the energy for that?! Also I put the crockpot to work because it is literally The Only Way.

Sunday – Tomato and Gigante Bean Bake AKA Pizza Beans from Smitten Kitchen Every Day, Garlicky Wilted Spinach

I made the garlic bread in the recipe instead of having a plain baguette and it was fantastic. Also fantastic? PIZZA BEANS.

Tuesday – Chicken and Rice Soup with Green Chiles and Ginger

I made this in the crockpot. Also somehow we lost the chiles, so we used sambal on top instead.

Thursday – Crispy Short Rib Carnitas with Sunset Slaw from Smitten Kitchen Every Day

I made this (drumroll) IN THE CROCKPOT!

Some Things

Man. What a week.

After hitting post last Monday, we were blessed one final time with one final trip to urgent care on Tuesday (for a total of five trips!) because Critter developed an ear infection in his OTHER ear while still on antibiotics for the first one.

I don’t even know what to say really. BUT. Everyone finally seems healthy? I hope this plague had passed.

My friend Melissa told me probably a month and a half ago about the camisoles at Old Navy so I ordered a few and they seem…good? Would order again so far? Very inexpensive?

On Saturday we hosted our first non-kids birthday party in our house since we moved in. It was my sorority sisters’ annual Christmas party and we had 20 people plus tiny tots running around and it was a big hoot. We used to host a couple of big parties each year but life has changed and frankly I didn’t realize it until people were coming in and asking where to set things and I was like Honestly I Have No Idea.

On Sunday, Mom and I attended the Lessons & Carols service at our family’s church. For those of you thinking Aren’t you Jewish? Good question! The answer is yes of course I am but also conversion is complex and I had a really nice morning with my Mom.

It has become apparent that the birth control I started two months ago (this is my third pill post-weaning) has terrible side effects when I move on and off the white pill week. This time I got a migraine that ruined the date night we were supposed to go on. So. I get to go back to the doctor again.

If you are at all interested in health/science this podcast episode with Siddhartha Mukherjee (author of The Emperor of All Maladies) is really interesting.

Friday Food Round-Up!

This week was the return of the crockpot in a major way. Since we didn’t really cook over the weekend, I ran it and batch cooked soups so that we could restock our freezer and feed friends (I am a one woman meal train).

We are going to make this soup next week so feel free to cook along if you want. I will of course, be modifying it for the crockpot.

Sunday – Perfect Instant Ramen

This has just been such a perfect weekend lunch.

Tuesday – Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, Coleslaw, Cheesy Bacon Jalapeno Cornbread from Cravings

Basic.

Wednesday – Italian Chicken Sausages with Buffalo Smashies from Cravings: Hungry for More and Garlicky Wilted Spinach

I LOVE these potatoes.

Thursday – Easy Slow Cooker Yellow Coconut Curry Chicken with Steamed Rice and Roasted Broccoli

We have not made this meal in a number of months nor have I roasted broccoli in a long time. It was great. We were hosting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for dinner so this meal came together easily and with a minimum of dishes.

Domestic Lifesavers

I started writing this post in September, then I forgot. But especially with ALL of the holiday gift guides (THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM), I felt Called to share the two small appliances that have changed our life in the last year. Especially if you’re still debating what you want for a gift or what sales you want to search for on Boxing Day.

Bissell Smartclean 1974

BUY A ROBOT VACUUM. Buy it now. Especially if you don’t have a housekeeper. Even if you do. You still may need to sweep out a corner or two every month or so. You may want to run your regular vacuum over your large area rug now and then. But this will DRASTICALLY cut down on the amount of time you spend on your floors.

Crockpot 5-in-1 Slowcooker

I felt guilty when we bought this because we already owned a slow cooker. And then it arrived and Marcus (truly accidentally) broke the ceramic bowl of the old one.

Why this Crockpot is superior in all ways: it has a browning feature so you don’t need to use two dishes when you’re preparing a slow cooker meal. That extra dish seemed especially like Mount Everest when Glitter was born. We don’t have an instant pot because I either need the food to cook for 4-6-8 hours or I can cook it myself on the stove in 15-30 minutes.

What have you purchased in the last year that you can’t live without?

Some Things

I spoke too soon. After I hit post last Monday, Critter got an ear infection that night and Glitter was diagnosed with croup on Friday. She spent the weekend with a fever. We are going to urgent care again today. I keep telling all of my friends with sick pups that someday the plague will leave their homes. I keep telling myself this too, to no avail.

With that in mind, Mercury retrograde ended on the 6th and honest to God I feel like there is a better energy in the Universe right now. Don’t judge me!

My parents had their annual holiday party on Friday night. I drank three glasses of wine (PARTY!!!), wore my “vegan leather” pants (I am getting my money’s worth out of these!!!) and it was the best of times. We then spent the rest of the weekend celebrating Hanukkah.

An update on retinols and my very basic begrudging skincare routine: I am still washing my face and applying the retinol 1-2x/wk. It is still peeling all of my skin off which is sort of appalling. As a result I have stopped using powder and blush because it looks awful. On the other hand, since I am now moisturizing 2x/day my skin looks positively dewey. So, I don’t know. It’s going?

I increased the temperature on the thermostat by one degree to 72 and it has been a wondrous change. What I realized I despise most about winter is that you never feel fully WARM like you do in the summertime. Having a cozy house resolves that.

At some point in the last week, I saw one of those minimalist decluttering posts where you are encouraged to get rid of the same number of things as the date on the calendar. I decided to skip the plodding nature of that exercise and instead did the following: purged and re-organized our toy closet in the basement. It yielded two brand new toys for Hanukkah gifts, two brand new toys for our local non-profit gift to families in need, one bag of broken toys for the trash, and two bags of toys we never played with/didn’t LOVE that went to Goodwill. I also sent four boxes of diapers my kids have outgrown to the same local non-profit and threw out the bouncer seat Glitter no longer uses that was on probably its fifth or sixth life.

My house is literally a hundred pounds lighter and this gives me ENERGY and MOTIVATION to tackle the decluttering of our back bedroom. After Christmas.

Happy Monday, friends.