Christmas

We had a great Christmas even if it was a little more low key than previous years. My Christmas started when I rolled over in bed and the Mayor was there to wake me up. As soon as I rolled over, he asked if it was time to open up gifts. Spoiler alert, he also did the same thing the next morning only that time he was asking to go to Dunkin’. Eventually, the Mayor was able to coax me out of bed, so he could open gifts.

The bigger hurdle in the early morning wasn’t me, but Goalielocks. Unsurprisingly, he took awhile to wake up. Once up both boys were excited to open their gifts. Honestly, it was a weird holiday since they opened some accessories, but their main present was still in transit. This year we bought to big family gifts, a squat rack and a new tv for the loft. Naturally, the boys were excited for both.

Our annual Christmas brunch was an absolute success. Fortunately, we had very little leftovers, which is great. I certainly don’t need to eat caramel rolls for a week. We put Anakin in his crate since he gets aggressive when people come into the house. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do well with very little kids, so he stayed in his crate until Ava left. Meanwhile, Athena was showered with lots of sweet love and attention by Ava. Athena was so patient and loving with her.

Some how we started watching the Best of the Crocodile Hunter, so that was the background music to our brunch. I forgot how much I loved Steve Irwin and his show. He had the best energy and was just a riot to watch. Shortly, after I told my brother Jake probably wouldn’t be able to c due to work, Jake called. Honestly, Jake’s call home was the best gift ever. After company left, we napped and relaxed before heading to the Kennedy’s for dinner.

Dinner at the Kennedy’s was wonderful. As always, Hanh cooked an absolute feast for everyone. She’s an amazing cook! After dinner, we had some drinks before deciding to play some games. Note to self, the games may have gone better sober. We had an absolute blast playing Heads Up and Scattergories. I’ll tell you one lesson the Hubby and I took away from the evening, the Mayor isn’t allowed to play Scattegories with the grandparents. All in all, Christmas was a wonderful reminder of how blessed we are.

Christmas Eve Eve

It’s Christmas Eve Eve and I’m not any closer to being ready for Christmas than I was this time last week. I’ve still got a ton of baking and shopping to do. Not to mention the horrific job of wrapping the presents. I literally hate wrapping copious amounts of gifts.

Tomorrow I’ll be baking the Finnish cookies, more mint cookies, parfaits, caramels and I’ll start the caramel rolls. It will be a busy day in the kitchen. I’m excited for the Finnish cookies. This year I’ll be making them with cloud berry jelly, lingonberry jelly, huckle berry jelly and gooseberry jelly. These jellies will also go great with the krumkakes I’m making Christmas morning.

I’m excited to make the caramels. I haven’t made them in over twenty years. They’re a bit time consuming, but they are mighty tasty. I’m also going to experiment with trollkrem, which is a Norwegian dessert. I’ll be using the lingonberry jelly to make it since I couldn’t find lingonberries anywhere stateside. We’ll see how the day goes because if I run out of the time, the trollkrem will have to wait for NYE.

It was a bit funny at work because the first email said we’d be getting of three hours early on Christmas. Christmas Eve is the 24th of course, but since Christmas is Saturday my company is observing Christmas on Christmas Eve. Consequently, that makes today Christmas Eve in the eyes of my company. Thank goodness this wasn’t confusing at all.

Almost Christmas

It’s almost Christmas and I’m nowhere near ready. I think, like most other parents, I find December to be completely overwhelming. The only kid I’ve finished shopping for is Jake. However, I had to finish shopping for him early due to potential shipping delays. As for everyone else, I still have a lot shopping to do. I also have quite a bit of baking to finish.

Tomorrow I see my endo, which I’m excited for. I’m back to being hyperthyroid, which is no good. I’d like to be sure that I still have the all clear to workout. Unfortunately, hyperthyroidism can come with some nasty and dangerous cardiac issues, which is super lame. Nevertheless, I’m hoping I don’t have to wait for my thyroid levels get back to normal before I can workout again.

This is an expected bump in the road. Our bodies are always changing, so the Synthroid has to be adjusted accordingly. Nonetheless, I have so much to do that I don’t need anything else to worry about. I recently saw a meme that speaks to how most moms feel this time of the year… There’s so much for us to do that it can be overwhelming. Especially as we as it’s almost Christmas.

Yesterday Goalielocks had games because the league never returned out coach’s call. We had two kids out sick with COVID exposure, but since we’re not the Makos we played with a short bench. I keep reminding myself that we only have a short time left in this infuriating league. Honestly, I’ve never seen a league that applies the rules so disproportionately.

Moreover, this is the first league we’ve been apart of where the rules that are adopted are punitive or the kids and not the adults. For example, the league penalizes thr kids instead of punishing coaches or organizations. (and Like the Makos U18AA head coach coming into my kid’s locker room to recruit players before our game.) A player has to play single A because the percentage of returning players is too low on the AA team. How about instead of penalizing the kids, you penalize the known offenders?

Anyway, Goalielocks and his goalie mate had great games. We ended up winning the first game 4-2. Goalielocks had the best game I’ve seen him play in awhile. Although to be fair, I’ve missed a lot of his games this season. His goalie partner was equally impressive in the second game. They’re such a great tandem. They really enjoy each other’s company and support each other. It was a great Sunday for our Tendies!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours. As I write this, we’re still celebrating with family at my brother’s house. I thought I’d write while we wait for the the steaks to be finished. Lord knows I could use some protein after carb loading this morning. Speaking of morning, I started my day early since I decided to make a double batch of caramel rolls.

Before we opened presents, I started the second batch of caramel rolls. Meanwhile, I set out the first batch to bring the dough back to room temperature. Fortunately, the boys sleep in later on Christmas morning now that they’re older. I even managed to make a quick trip to Dunkin to grab a coffee before we opened presents.

It was awesome having Jake back home to open presents. We definitely missed him last year. Although he was the highlight of last year’s brunch when he called us from BMT to wish us a merry Christmas. I know having him home for the holidays is the equivalent of winning the military lottery, so I’m cherishing our holiday all together. I was definitely filled with jubilation when I heard his leave had been approved.

We had a wonderful brunch with family and friends, who have become friends. In addition to our traditional mimosas, I added a peach Bellini to the drink menu. Additionally, my sister-in-law added some coquito to the mix. Unbelievably, we went through more than 40 rolls, a pan and a half of cholesterol bake, hash browns and countless cookies. Needless to say, we were all in a carb coma after the meal.

Afterwards, we cleaned up the leftovers, while the Roomba vacuumed up for us. The hubby took a quick nap and then we headed over to Mel’s house for games. At Mel’s we played dachshund themed Monopoly game followed by poker. I lost badly at both games.


Now we’re finishing the day at my brother’s house with another awesome meal. Fortunately, this one is heavy on the protein. Albeit, I couldn’t pass up Brandi’s incredible hash browns. Consequently, I have now eaten enough in one day to meet my calorie requirement for the rest of December. For the love of humanity and my clothes, I should probably fast all day tomorrow. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

O Tannebaum

O Tannebaum that wonderful Christmas song celebrating the arboreal symbol of our greatest holiday Christmas has been playing in my head since yesterday. Last night, we put up our new tree. I had ordered it after Thanksgiving and they finally delivered it yesterday. To be fair, when I say we, I really mean the hubby put up our new tree. While it needs some plumping and some time to decompress from its packaging, it still looks pretty good. Immediately, it’s presence transformed the house into a place of holiday warmth and good tidings. It’s no wonder we left it up so long last year. It’s hard to be upset or disappointed when looking at a beautiful tree.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to start decorating the tree tonight and this weekend, which will only add to the cheer it brings. This year I’ve added a few Air Force ornaments to celebrate Jake’s service. Over the years, I’ve also picked up Christmas ornaments throughout our travels. Scandinavians know how to do Christmas, so I bought plenty of Christmas decorations while in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Not only do they represent our heritage, but each decoration carries with it memories from our travels. Consequently, since we haven’t been able to travel much this year, our memories of journeys past will have to sustain us during this time of pandemic.

As we get ready to decorate the house, I’m reminded of how much I need to bake. This year I’m planning to make Pulla (Finnish cardamon bread,) Joulutortu (Finnish Christmas star cookies,) mint cookies, Krumkakes (Norwegian cookies,) Kringla (Norwegian cookies,) and lefse. Ordinarily, my mom and grandmother make molasses cookies, which I love. I have found, however, that with the humidity in Florida it is hard to make good molasses cookies. They usually come out to wet or way too dense. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to baking this holiday season. For the star cookies and krumkakes, I’m planning to use cloudberry, lingonberry and blueberry. My personal favorite is the cloudberry.

Unrelated to Christmas, Anakin starts puppy kindergarten today. He really needs training as it has been delayed due to COVID. Due to the pandemic, we’re bringing someone into the house to work with him one on one. He’s a fabulous puppy, but he needs to be better trained. I’m excited to see how he does with the trainer.

And now for some entertainment, here’s the Mayor singing his version of O Tannebaum on a random drive to the rink nine years ago.

Here’s a list of our day’s activities:

*I read The Idiot, by Fyodor Dosytoevsky

*It’s day 5 of BBG 3.0 week 4 and I’m doing the ab workout today. If it’s anything like the other two workouts, it’s going to kick my butt.

*Today I ran one mile and walked a mile today.

*Today’s word of the day is propine, which means a gift.

*I’m looking forward to crashing on the couch after work with my beloved puppies!

*Before I crash with the puppies, I will be cooking up a delicious meal courtesy of HelloFresh.

*After today, my running streak stands at 4 days.

*I love the footprints the puppies leave on the patio when coming back in every morning. Today’s footprints may have included some ashes since they knocked over the grill. There are, however, no kitties in this house.

*I took my puppies including sweet Anakin for a walk. Today Anakin is wearing his Christmas bow tie. He looks mighty dapper if I say so myself. Naturally, I bought all three dogs Christmas outfits. I can’t wait to share the pictures with you. You’ll love them!

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Introducing Flat AB Jake

Introducing Flat AB Jake our personalized, more handsome and improved version of Flat Stanley. Let me bring the uninitiated up to speed. For those of us whose kids went through elementary in the last decade, we were subjected to literary character Flat Stanley that travels the world. Each kid in class brought a paper Flat Stanley home for a weekend to take wherever they went. The kids would then take pictures or document their travels in a journal. 

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I got the idea for Flat AB Jake through the Air Force Moms BMT page on Facebook. By the way, This group has been a godsend. Instead of the character, you make your airman into a paper “Flat Stanley.” You take them where ever you go and then take pictures. When you write your airman next, you include the pictures of you and your Flat AB.

We made them up on Christmas Eve. I printed two versions a large headshot and a smaller standing pose. I printed it on card stock, so the paper would be relatively firm. My hubby, who is a rockstar, cut them out using an exacto knife. Needless to say they came out better than I expected.  Since we were going to church with Mel, Jake’s girlfriend who we adore, and her family I was able to bring her both versions. She loved them! Fortunately, I was also able to get a picture of Flat AB Jake enjoying her duet (O’ Holy night and it was awesome.)

As we move through the weeks of training, you’ll see AB Jake make numerous appearances. It’s beneficial to always have him near, but it’s more beneficial for him to see he’s always in our hearts and on our minds. We had our first Christmas without him yesterday and that was tough! As a family we did, however, get some pictures with Flat AB Jake.

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We did get the best present a parent could ask for yesterday: a call home from our airman. I was near tears as my phone started to play Teen Spirit, which is my custom ringtone for him.  It was a spiritual experience.  He sounded amazing. To hear the confidence and happiness in his voice was beyond reassuring. I felt a weight literally being lifted off my shoulders as he told us he had found “where he belongs.”  He met the PT requirements his first week out and is now working with his FLT to exceed them together. He is wearing the blue belt as described in my week one post.  Jake described with joy how close he and his fellow airman had become. It was clear in that phone call that he had made several life long friends.


Perhaps the best part of the call was that it happened while we had Christmas Company. Jake has a lot of people in his corner and a lot of them were able to speak with him and wish him well. My sister in law, who is a genius and makes the best cheesy potatoes, suggested conferencing my parent. We were able to do that successfully and my parents were able to hear first hand how well he is doing. More than anything hearing his happy voice made our Christmas wonderful. It’s still tough to imagine that he’ll miss most Christmas celebrations in years to come, but he’s a part of something bigger than himself, loving it and service his country. We couldn’t be prouder of our AB Jake!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Merry Christmas Eve Eve or as they say in Norway merry little Christmas Eve. With only one day left between us and the Christmas holiday, I find myself woefully unprepared. Nor do I find myself with any desire to brave the South Florida retail scene or roads. Of course, after getting a flat tire on my way to yoga, it’s not like I’m super mobile.

I have finally started my holiday baking. Although I’ll be baking significantly less than last year. This year I’ll be baking two or three different cookies versus last years’ smorgasbord of baking. Fortunately, I may even be making a double batch of my famous caramel rolls. We’ll see!! I’m waiting on the final headcount from the hubby.

Today I spent a peaceful, serene day with Ava. There’s something about holding and rocking a newborn that is soothing for your soul. We hung for a bit while mama headed to her doctor’s appointment and vet appointment. Newborns develop so quickly. It’s awesome to see how she’s grown and developed from Friday to today.

I was going to cap my day with a peaceful and zen yoga practice with Debbie at Open Heart Yoga, but my back tire did not cooperate. Instead my knight in shiny armor came and put on my spare, so I could get home safely. Fortunately, I have a yoga silk, so I was able to do some stretching and inversion work.

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Jake started WOT 2 or week 2 of basic training. We’re hoping to hear from him via letter, carrier pigeon, marching band or a phone call. There’s some speculation on the Air Force Mom BMT group that’s the MTI’s will let them call home, but it’s not guaranteed. My fingers, however, will stay crossed in hopes of receiving a phone call. Anything that would help me gauge how he is doing at BMT.  I miss my boy!

 

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Blue Christmas

It will be a blue Christmas in our household as we celebrate our first holiday with Jake away from home. We’ve never been apart on a major holiday like this, so undoubtedly it will be tough on all of us.  I’ve found it hard to get into the joy of the season.   In fact, I haven’t even decorated the tree or put the tinsel on the railings.

For Jake his blue Christmas will likely include the issue of his dress blues, but also the loneliness of celebrating Christmas away from family and friends. This holiday season keep the airmen, Coasties Marines, sailors, and soldiers serving our country away from family and friends in your prayers. Being lonely during the holiday season is the worst! If you’re so inclined, please send Jake a holiday cRd at the address below.

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Holiday Baking

Holiday baking is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.   It’s steeped in tradition, heritage and reminds me of my childhood.  Growing up we made mint cookies and molasses cookies every year.  Christmas morning my mom would serve her Christmas tea ring.   The memories of making Christmas cookies with my family are some of my fondest.    I’ve carried on many of these traditions making the mint cookies every year.   Over the years, we’ve stopped making the molasses cookies in Florida as they take too much flour to make them manageable.  In lieu of the tea ring, I’ve made my caramel rolls to serve at brunch for over a decade.

I had an amazing time exploring Scandinavia this fall with my son, brother and sister-in-law.  It definitely strengthened the connection I feel to our family’s heritage. As a result, I wanted to infuse some traditional Norwegian and Finnish cookies into our holiday baking.  My aunt, a lefse baking pro, provided us with the recipe for lefse.  I found the recipes for the Norwegian cookies in Norwegian heritage groups on Facebook.  Finally, I was able to find Finnish recipes via google.

The baking started off by baking the mint cookie dough.  I planned to bake several dozen since these cookies were a sure bet.  Unfortunately, dough vultures (a.k.a my kids) thwarted my first attempt.  My next attempt had to be more covert.  Indeed, my mom and I ended up baking three more batches.  We had to hide the dough in one of our three refrigerators to ensure we’d have enough to bake cookies.

My holiday baking this year was more special since my mom was here.  It made our culinary adventure through Scandinavian traditions more meaningful.  Our first task was to make the dough for the kringlas (Norwegian) and juolutorttu (Finnish.) Each of these doughs was quite easy to make.  The kringla is a sour cream dough, while the juolutorttu dough is more of a pastry dough.  Normally, the doughs would need to rest for an hour or two. However, we left them rest overnight due to the climate in Florida.

Cloudberry juolutorrtu

Lingonberry juolutorrtu

Blueberry juolutorrtu

The next morning we started by making the dough for the pulla, a Finnish sweet bread.  Since the bread had to rise for 90 minutes, it was the perfect place to start.  While it raised, we were able to make the juolutorttu and the kringlas.  Traditionally, the juolutorttu is made with prunes, but I didn’t have any and I don’t really like prune.  Consequently, we made ours with lingonberry, blueberry and cloudberry jam that I had purchased on my recent travels.  Both of the cookies were a bit fussy to make, but they were much easier to make than I had to anticipated.   The pulla was relatively easy to make and smelled divine.

Kringlas

Pulla

As the pulla baked, I headed to the gym for a quick workout before we undertook making lefse.  Once it was completed, we fired up the lefse griddle.  (Naturally, I had bought an entire lefse baking kit.- get it here.)  The lefse would be, by far, the most difficult thing we made that day.  While I was at work the Friday before, my mom mixed up the dough since it had to sit overnight.  Nonetheless, the lefse was still difficult to handle.  Our first attempt was an utter failure, but we improved with each lefse.  By the end of it, we were professionals.

Lefse

Our first attempt

In the end, we worse ourselves out will all of our holiday baking.  On Christmas, we had a plenty of sweet Scandinavian treats to last til next Christmas.   We had great beginner’s luck on all of our Scandinavian treats and I can’t wait to make them again next year.   Below you’ll find the links to the Scandinavian recipes we used this Christmas.

Krumkake with cloudberry and blueberry jams

 

Recipes:

Juolutorrtu (also called juolutorts or north stars)

Kringla

Pulla

Back to Reality

It was back to reality today.  I gotta say this whole Christmas on a Monday and back to work Tuesday stuff is for the birds!  Nonetheless I headed into work Dunkin’ hand.  Truly, I was somewhat relieved that my clothes still fit after this weekend and that traffic was relatively light.  When I got to work, the parking lot was absolutely empty.  At its peak, it wasn’t even close to half full.

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After a weekend of eating everything in sight, today was a good time to get back on track.  Unfortunately, I have a proclivity for sweet treats.  As much as I planned to be good, how could I turn down a perfectly good Christmas cookie?  After all, I won’t be making them again until next December.  I don’t think you can argue with that air tight logic.

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Since I indulged in a couple of sweet treats today, I definitely had some extra motivation for my run.  The Piggie and I logged 2.5 miles before I headed to yoga.  Indeed it was a nice run with comfortable temperatures and a pretty consistent pace.  As I ran, I was a bit mad at myself for not maintaining my running last spring.  In some ways, I feel like I’m back to the beginning of training.  Whereas, last spring I finally got my mile below 8 minutes, I’m back to running a mile in 9:5 minutes.

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In 2018, I’ll be re-committing to running and regular training. I’d love to finish 2018 with either a half marathon or two 10ks under my belt, but more on 2018 in a later post.  In order to train successfully, I have to make sure my legs stay healthy.  Consequently, I spent a good 15 minutes stretching my legs post-run tonight.  I did this even though I knew I’d be headed to yoga afterwards.

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In addition to my post-run stretch, I’ve been going to Massage Envy a couple of times per week for assisted stretch.  Not only is this helping loosen up my legs for running, but it’s helping my yoga practice as well.  While I enjoy a good massage, the assisted stretch sessions have yielded much better results.   Unfortunately, neither my yoga teacher or massage therapist can help with the huge bruise I got on right thigh at paint ball.   I’m pretty sure that bruise is going to be around for a long time.    I’d post a picture, but it’s borderline indecent.

Tonight’s song performed by Michael Buble is “Feeling Good.”