You know what I missed this year? My five-year blogoversary! It was back in early November. Oh, well. You know what I didn’t miss (which is a good thing, as this one is much more important)? Our 13th wedding anniversary! We slept in a bit (sorely needed – Christmas week at the in-laws does not lend itself to much sleep), went out for a fancy (for us) brunch, came home and puttered a bit during the afternoon, went out to see a movie (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), and went out for a fancy (for us) dinner (which was delicious). Better? Our menus were printed specially with “Happy Anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Zannah” for us. So cool. They rolled them up, tied them with a ribbon, and sent them home with us (along with mugs full of candy). Nice place. Happy Anniversary to us!
I have a few hours to myself today, and I think I’m going to use them to catch up on a little bit of the internet. Just a little. I’m reading backwards through Whatever (which has already inspired me to buy a new Kindle book – The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston. I put it on my wish list so I wouldn’t forget about it, noticed it was only $2.51, and bought it.), and I don’t expect to get very far (I’m only 10 days back right now), but every little bit counts when I feel like I need to catch up. Little bits, here and there. I have tomorrow, but then it’s back to work, so most of the internet will have to remain dusty for me. Sorry, internet. Oh, John is about to go upstairs to practice, which means I can watch Pitch Perfect (he’s not interested), and I guess I’ll just have to apologize to more of the internet. Sorry, more of the internet.
It’s Christmas morning, and hardly anyone is up yet (a far cry from the days when Molly woke us up at the crack of dawn). I haven’t touched my laptop, and rather than turn it on, I figured I’d give the bluetooth keyboard I got for my tablet a try. The only other time I’ve tried it was in France last May. I called it a failure, but I think that may have been the internet connection (which really and truly sucked).
Well, that was quick. People are up. I’m off. Success for the keyboard, I think.
A couple of weeks ago, our good friend Chuck retired after 30 years in the navy. It was a really nice ceremony all the way through, but the best part came at the end. One of his fellow master chiefs stood up to read The Watch (as you do). It’s sentimental to begin with, but for the most part, it’s like listening to the readings by family members at a wedding. The readings are nice, and the words are heartfelt (you hope), but you’ve heard them before.
The master chief was introduced, but she bowed out, saying someone more appropriate was going to read it. Chuck’s son, a brand new seaman apprentice, two weeks out of boot camp, appeared from behind the enormous American flag hanging from the ceiling. Chuck was taken completely by surprise and choked up immediately. Cody began to read.
The Watch (with minor adjustments made by Cody):
For thirty years, this shipmate has stood the watch.
While some of us were in our racks at night, this shipmate stood the watch.
While some of us were in school learning our trade, this shipmate stood the watch.
Yes, even before some of us were born into this world, this shipmate stood the watch.
In these many years as war has been waged against us, and as our nation sacrifices blood and treasure, this shipmate stood the watch.
Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there, needing his help during those hard times, and yet he stood the watch.
For thirty years, he stood the watch so that we, our families, and our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety each and every night, knowing that a sailor stood the watch.
Today we are here to say, “Command Master Chief, the watch stands relieved, relieved by those you have trained, guided, and led. Shipmate, you stand relieved. We have the watch.”
Now read those last couple of sentence again, with one minor adjustment, knowing that Cody is his father’s son.
“Command Master Chief, the watch stands relieved, relieved by those you have trained, guided, and led. Shipmate, you stand relieved.” Then he paused, looked up at his dad, and said, “Dad, I have the watch.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In fact, I’m tearing up just thinking about it. That kid’s good.
I have been eating like crap lately. I mean, today alone I skipped breakfast, had coffee from Starbucks, ate more dessert than lunch at the holiday potluck at work (and what lunch I had that wasn’t dessert was somebody’s cheeseburger dip with chips and somebody else’s meatballs and stuff like that), and then had a beer with coworkers after work for dinner. I’m home now, and I could eat something healthy(ish) for dinner, but a) I’m not hungry, and b) I have cookies and toffee bark. Why would I eat dinner? Ugh. I don’t think I can talk about food anymore. I’ll feel better tomorrow. And maybe I’ll eat a salad. Tomorrow.
I forgot I wasn’t done with baking. I promised two sweet potato pies for the potluck at work this Thursday, so I made them last night. And….I might be making more cookies this weekend. Maybe. I’ll let you know. I’m sure you’re dying to know.
Sunday morning, I realized the disadvantages of having a ton of cookies (I will eat ALL THE COOKIES). I decided to offload some of them at Erik and Margaret’s house (John was not exactly on board with this decision – he’s never thrilled when I give cookies and pies away), where we finally met new baby Will (who wriggled against my shoulder for a while as I held him, puked down my arm and side, and then fell asleep – he made some cute cooing noises, so all is forgiven) and played with Corinne (who gets more adorable every time we see her). When we got home in the afternoon, John dropped his phone on the porch and smashed the screen into smithereens. He was overdue for a phone upgrade, so we headed to the Sprint store. That took the rest of the day. Seriously, we were there for nearly three hours. At least two and a half. There was only one guy working and only one woman in front of us, but she took FOREVER. Getting a new phone is never quick (it took John about 30 minutes, maybe 40, and he already knew exactly what he wanted), but it doesn’t have to take an hour and a half. And that’s just after we arrived. Who knows how long she’d been there before we walked in. But hey, it’s over, and John owns a new Nexus 5.
How did it all turn out? I don’t really know, actually. I mean, I know I came home with a variety of yummy cookies, but I don’t know if they liked mine. Maybe I’ll hear about it later… I went over to my neighbor’s house last night all decked out for the holidays (or as decked out as I get) – I wore a red sweater, snowflake earrings, and my Christmas socks, although no one could see them since I wore my fuzzy boots. (The socks and earrings, like every other Christmas-themed item I own, were gifts from my mother-in-law.) I brought my required cookies (3 dozen chocolate chip cookies, NO toffee – nuts were forbidden, and the toffee I bought was made with almonds), some peppermint bark and toffee bark for each person in the exchange (those were gifts, not exchange items. I figured toffee would be okay for that.), and a couple of the toffee chocolate chips for our hostess, who’s not afraid of nuts. We poured some wine, had some dinner, talked A LOT, exchanged some cookies, and came home. Fun. Also cookies. What’s not to like about a cookie exchange?
If this were a movie, I’d put a training montage here (because training montages are cool). Since it’s not, you’ll have to imagine your own or just visualize me melting chocolate. It’s like watching paint dry, but it smells yummier. I spent Monday and Tuesday evenings making peppermint bark and toffee bark, and today is about chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I have a cookie exchange TONIGHT (in less than seven hours), and I am just now starting to bake the actual cookies. I only need a few dozen. They don’t take that long, right? I can totally do this. See? I’m prepared.
Also, there’s Christmas music playing (with a few Hanukkah songs sprinkled in, even though that’s way over), and I’m drinking tea. We may not decorate for the holidays (like, at ALL), but the season is nice.
Update: First batches are out, more are going back in, and I have unleashed all kinds of smoke into the house. We’ve had to open windows. Nothing is burned, but I think it’s the wax paper, like, melting or something. I’ve used parchment paper before, but it always seems to burn at the edges, which makes me nervous. And I don’t want to just put the cookies straight onto the cookie sheet because they don’t seem to come back up easily.
Update 2: Okay, so I googled it, and apparently you aren’t supposed to bake with wax paper (at least, that what some websites say). I decided to try parchment paper again (for round 2) and do my best to keep it from burning. And? Success! No more smoke, no burning paper, yummy looking cookies. And now I have 149 (because we ate one – DELICIOUS) regular chocolate chip cookies and 37 chocolate chip and toffee cookies (that I have not yet tried).
Update 3: 36 chocolate chip toffee cookies (we ate one). I might not have added enough toffee. Good, but still mostly just chocolate chip cookies. Not like that’s a bad thing.
Goal: I want to watch more movies. Good ones, fun ones, Oscar-nominated or almost nominated ones, it doesn’t matter. I feel like we miss out on a ton because we just can’t get through them fast enough. We don’t want to devote enough time to watch a movie during the workweek, and our weekends keep filling up. There is a list of 25 Critically Acclaimed 2013 Films on Netflix Instant (tweeted by Eric D. Snider), and I think we should make an effort to see them. All of them. Well, as many as possible. If you’ve seen any of them, did you like them? We could use some help prioritizing…
John and I have found the best way to shop for Christmas presents. With snow beginning (1-2 inches forecast) and sleet coming later in the day, we decided to brave the biggest mall in the metro area less than 3 weeks before Christmas. It was great. I’ve never seen Tysons so empty (maybe not a good sign for retailers, but wonderful for us). No huge crowds of people, no crazed shoppers, no long lines – heavenly. We got there as the mall opened (10am), parked right next to the Barnes & Noble entrance, got some Starbucks, and got it done. I think the weather and the threat of bad roads kept a lot of people away (something that wouldn’t have been a factor closer to Christmas). The roads certainly weren’t great on our way home, but with fewer people out and most of those driving slowly, we got home incident-free, shoveled the driveway, put the flannel sheets on the bed (it is seriously cold out there), and now we’re relaxing and lamenting having to go to work tomorrow (like usual). And we’re done! We have a couple of things to order, but the plan is to do that tonight, so we’ll really be done.
Want to shop like John and Zannah and actually enjoy a trip to mall with the decorations and the Christmas music?
- Go early in the shopping season.
- Go early in the day.
- Bring bad weather. This is the hard part. It can’t be too bad or you’ll get stuck.
I have shopped. Not for normal things, no (although I did buy milk). I bought baking things. I have promised more baked goods to others. There appears to be something wrong with me. I need to stop volunteering. Too late to back out now, though, so I took the first steps today. I am now the proud owner of white and milk chocolate wafers (for melting), crushed peppermint (to go in the melted white chocolate), crushed toffee (to go in the melted milk chocolate), flour, and a whole bunch of chocolate chips (I already have the other stuff). By the end of this week, I’ll have made peppermint bark and toffee bark (which doesn’t really count as baking, but hush – I’m being domestic), and by the end of next Saturday, I expect to be up to my ears in chocolate chip cookies. I have to make a couple more sweet potato pies for work, but they’re not needed until the 19th, so that’s a problem for Future Me to solve.
Check it out! I updated my book list (for the first time in over 8 months). I knew I could do something productive today. And then I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the floor with Riley (while watching more Supernatural) because I miss Roxy and I can’t stand thinking that I’m not spending enough time with Riley while I can.
I’m staying home again today, resting. Needed. I’ve spent nearly two hours this morning online, catching up on Dooce archives. (I haven’t been on her website for what seems like – and might actually be – a year.) Now? I feel guilty. Like I should have spent that time doing something else. What? I don’t know. How is this not resting? Apparently, I should be more productive when I’m resting. I suppose I could be learning something (French, MinutePhysics, Khan Academy), or I could be reading my book (I’m re-reading The Book Thief so it’s fresh when I see the movie – not always the smartest move, but I can’t help myself), or – hey! – I could be updating the book list on this very website, and maybe I will do those things today, but first I need to convince myself that two hours staring vacantly at someone else’s old blog posts isn’t wasted time.
So….we’ve been a bit stressed lately. After the holiday stuff and the family stuff this weekend, we crashed on our couch and stayed there until Sunday night. Saturday afternoon and evening, we watched Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. How have we never seen these movies? They’re so much fun! How can I wait until The World’s End is out on DVD? Brian (who is in town for his semi-annual Coast Guard rotation thing) came over Sunday, and we watched six Doctor Who episodes in a row. It was fantastic. For those keeping track, we started with the Christmas episode between seasons 6 and 7 (I cried), and then we watched the first five episodes of Season 7. Today, I came home sick from work (not feeling all that great this morning), and I’ve been watching Supernatural by myself (four episodes so far). Maybe not the best use of my time, but hey – don’t judge me.