2017 total: $12105.73


A Year Of Adventures


The Big Guy Does Good

When Alexis explained to me that it was silly that her friend from school was scared of their Elf on the Shelf, I thought for sure the gig was up. She was very thorough in her explanation that the Elf was just a doll that the girl's mom was moving around. She was so thorough that I was certain that she had traced the conspiracy all the way back to the big guy himself.

If the Christmas season were about a week longer, Alexis would have figured out that the Santa thing isn't much different than the Elf on the Shelf thing YEARS ago. She has been SO close to tearing aside the curtain and discovering that the Wizard is actually a middle-aged woman with a love for Christmas lights. SO close.

But, somehow, here we are just after her fifth Christmas and she still believes. Barely, but she does.

It helps that we have stacked the odds in our favor. Santa delivers to our house on Christmas Eve when he's out doing his regular rounds in Pittsburgh. We, conveniently, are almost never home on Christmas Eve, so when we return a day or two after Christmas, the goods are stashed under the tree. It's sort of magical how that all happens between the time that Alexis gets in the car for our drive to Indy and when we return. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that it always takes me an extra ten minutes or so to get to the car after Alexis and the husband are already ready to go. Nothing at all. Ahem.

When we returned home this year, Alexis was SO ready to run to the tree. We managed to stall her long enough to turn a few lights on, but then she ripped into the first gift she saw.

We've had this debate here before, but there's your proof that Santa really can wrap ANYTHING. Even a bike. He might have had a little fun cutting Justin Bieber's face in half as he did it.

He might have had even more fun watching Bieber get ripped to shreds over and over as the bike was unwrapped. It's possible.

So, here's the thing--I fully expected the bike to be a giant bucket of fail. Alexis hadn't asked for a new bike. It wasn't anywhere on her radar, although she really did need a new one. But when Santa won that bike in a little photo contest, he knew he had just finished with his shopping for that short person. Whether or not she appreciated the gift became a minor detail that I was willing to deal with when the time came. Because, you know, FREE. Santa likes FREE!

The good news is that she liked it. A LOT. The even better news is that Alexis acted like she meant to ask for a bike all along, so there is no bad news to report. The magic of Santa filled her little heart and she rode around with a giant grin on her face.

But it was when we got to her stocking stuffers from Santa that the real magic happened.

Full confession: I am LAME when it comes to stocking stuffers. They are generally toiletries and necessities and such. There are a few fun things of candy included, but it's mostly shampoo and toothbrushes and underwear and the like. There is nothing exciting about any of it . . . unless you're Alexis. The fact that Santa had picked shampoo that claims to help hair grow longer made him a super hero. The fact that he knew she likes Hello Kitty underwear made him AMAZING. And how in the world did Santa know she wanted pink mouthwash? MAGIC. THAT'S HOW.

The last little thing Santa left was the most magical thing of all. Santa somehow managed to find a little something that Alexis lost a month ago. She has recently been really into writing in diaries and such, but she had lost the key to her favorite diary. There was much sobbing and crying and drama when she lost it, but there wasn't much we could do. We looked. We couldn't find it. Tiny keys have a tendency to disappear when you drop them out in the yard.

Yet, somehow Mr. Husband spotted it the day before we left to visit family for Christmas. I have no idea how as it turned up in our driveway. We searched that driveway up and down and left and right for hours when the key first disappeared.

It must have been a little Santa magic.


I'm Not Totally Sick Of Christmas. Yet.

It has come to my attention that I never posted photos of my Christmas trees. HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN? So much slacking going on over here...

Anyway, this will go down in history as the year that I failed miserably at the outdoor Christmas decorations thing. There was a total and complete lack of Griswold action in our yard, in no small part because this was the year that contained the November of Mass Chaos. I don't really know how it was that I never found time to string up a few thousand lights, but I didn't. At all.

Indoors, however, I did OK. I might have even done slightly better than OK as I managed to add a few trees this year. There is still a lot of room to expand the sparkly and bright stuff, but these things take time. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

First up, The Main Tree AKA The Tree That Martha Stewart Wouldn't Totally Hate.

Why, yes, every inch of that tree and the gifts under it all match. Why wouldn't they? Technically the tree was new this year (Purchased on clearance for 90% off at Target last February. There wasn't any sort of label on the box so I bought it without knowing what it looked like or if it would even fit in our house. Fortunately, Mr. Husband only had to take a hacksaw to about four inches of it, so I considered that quite the victory.). The ornaments have been around for a very long time, though. I tend to grab a box or two every year on clearance after the holidays and have been doing so for easily ten years. Eventually it all amounts to something, you know?

I need to add a tree topper next year. I haven't quite figured out what I want to do, but eventually the perfect idea will come to me.

The next tree is another one I've been slowly collecting ornaments for--The Boyd's Tree.

I don't know how many Boyd's plush ornaments are on it, but it's a lot.

Every last one of them makes me smile.

Falling under the category of "formerly adorable but now hanging on by a thread" is The Winnie the Pooh Tree.

I used to have enough Classic Pooh ornaments to cover a full-size tree, but as the years have gone by, the ornaments (and the Pooh as an angel tree topper) have slowly been breaking so now it's just a four-foot tall tree. It probably will be phased out completely next year because I just plain can't find ornaments for it.

The ones I have are cute, though.

Then there is a really sad tree which sits up in our loft. It's only sad because this was its first year and I don't have very many ornaments for it.

Eventually it is going to be The Obnoxiously Bright Colors Tree. There's a chance that it will also feature a lot of snowmen.

But that will depend on what I find on clearance once things are 90% off.

Going back to the playroom where the Pooh Tree lives, there is a second tree. This one was thrown together a couple of weeks ago.

It's not much now, but it is eventually going to be a very magnificently tacky Barbie Tree. It is bright pink with bright pink lights (the curtains behind it are red in real life, I swear it!). Currently there are a bunch of Barbie dolls hanging on it.

I might have enjoyed stringing them up by their necks. It's possible.

Speaking of tacky, Alexis' Christmas tree technically was never put away last year. Really. It has been lit up essentially every night for well over a year. It's in her bedroom, so I don't much care if she enjoys it all year around.

Alexis' Tree is MAGNIFICENT. It started with a big box of plain Christmas balls, but every year I've let her pick out an ornament or two or five to add to it. She always picks the most horrendous things possible. There are Dora ornaments, Hannah Montana ornaments, and even a High School Musical ornament. She picks whatever she is in to at the time, so she has created quite the time warp with ornaments.

We also have her pick out ornaments when we go on vacation, which means she has more than a few Disney World ornaments. Then there are the "special occasion" ornaments like the one from the Winter Classic.

To keep her tree from eventually turning into one giant commercial for children's television programming, I also pick up a "nice" ornament for her each year.

I learned the hard way that she can't have sterling silver ornaments within her reach. Obviously.

It's a good thing every ornament on that tree will go with her when she moves out. The fingerprints will be her problem.

Finally, the bestest tree of all is in our dining room. It isn't really themed, it's just whatever ornaments we like.

It sort of looks like crap from a distance, but I don't care because up close it's full of amazingness.

There are ornaments we've picked up during vacations.

Ornaments we have made.

There are ornaments that memorialize every pet we've ever had.

(That's Jasmine. She passed away a few years ago.)




I need to find ornaments for Cody and Max. Cody is Mission Impossible, though. Unfortunately.

Then there are the ornaments that I've been slowly collecting since junior high. Hallmark has stopped making them, but they used to make some incredible motion ornaments.

They have cords that plug into the light string. With that little bit of electricity, they are able to literally be in motion at all times. The one above has a little train and sled that goes around and around. The one below is a lot older and has a bunch of woodland creatures who are spinning in a circle.

I'm not the only one who loves the motion ornaments. Alexis spends hours watching them go around and around. She seems to think she will eventually get a few motion ornaments of her own, but she is very wrong. VERY WRONG.

They are mine. ALL MINE. I don't share.

If you're counting, that comes to a total of seven trees. So, yeah, I have seven trees that are at least four feet tall, though four are over six feet tall. I also have approximately a crapton of miniature trees. I figure that if it has lights, it counts in the How Many Trees Do I Have Game.

If you're playing that game by my rules, the answer is eleven. I have eleven trees that are fully decorated, including lights.

Next year I hope I manage to reach fifteen. It's my mission.