Sunday Stealing: The Not-So-Manly Meme
Advent-ures 2012, Days 4-6

Advent-ures 2012, Days 1-3

Hoffler Creek

So three days of our Advent 2012 calendar in, and it's kind of a half-fail. December 1st, the activity on the calendar was "1. Nautical Holidays – make your own nautical-themed ornaments @ Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum 10 AM – 5 PM AND/OR Games, Arts & Crafts, etc. @ VA Sports Hall of Fame 11 AM – 3 PM AND/OR Make Holiday Crafts @ Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve 2-4 PM."

So. Chloë had her piccolo lesson at noon that day:


(and yes, she technically was supposed to be taking flute lessons, but she's a wee pixie, and the flute was too big for her, so for now, it's the piccolo).

After her lesson, I ran a few much-needed errands, so by the time we got home, it was after 1400. I offered up the activities on the list to the kids, and they chose to just go to the Hoffler Creek Preserve to make crafts. Okay, fine.

Rob took them to the preserve sans moi, because I was exhaaaaaausted and needed a "nap," (which turned out to be a marathon catch-up sleep session), and there turned out to be nary a craft at the preserve. They were all, "What crafts?" and had nothing. Um, that's cool, so whatever. Rob and the kiddos went for a hike out on a trail in the woods intead, but do you think he took any pictures for me? Of course he didn't. Boo.

They had a great time anyway, crafts or no, and saw some ducks. I don't know what, if anything, else they saw, but I did hear tell that apparently three kids in the woods are generally too loud to see much else, because they scare away the aminals? Yeah, mine don't shush well. So. That was Day One.


On the 2nd day of our 2012 Advent calendar, the activity was: "2. Learn to knit, do origami, and/or do fun Christmas print-out activities!" However, I had to do some, uh, shops of the mystery variety down the upper stretch of the Outer Banks, so we rented a bunch of movies from the Redbox, put the kids in the car, and went, figuring on doing the activity(ies) upon our return to the homestead.


Here's my man getting gas. We needed some. I took a picture. There's that story.


And if you look hard, you can see him in the 7-Eleven there, getting me a Diet Coke refill. We did that a bunch during our annual OBX pilgrimage, too. I found it interesting, and commented many times during the drive, that SO MANY NEW THINGS have sprung up down in that place. I thought it was cool to see all the new things, but on the other hand, a little sad that Big Box has taken over the "mom-and-pop kitschy-beachy" feel of the Outer Banks quite a bit. Progress? You decide.


The kids watched Arthur Christmas and 12 Dogs of Christmas during the drive; as you can see Sophia was locked onto the screen during their little viewing party. I rented four movies, but we haven't gotten to the two others yet, and I haven't returned them to the Redbox. Yay, late fees. Arthur sounded like a really fun flick, from my driver's seat hearing position, and even Rob enjoyed it, so I recommend that if you have and your kiddos haven't seen it yet! Hubs and I talked to each other a lot during the other movie, so I can't really comment on that, but there was a lot of "awww"-ing from the back of the van, if that helps.


When we got back here, it was decided that we would go do our big grocery shopping trip together, so the Advent activities were pushed back even further. Note that the girls both wanted to learn to knit, but Jack absolutely did not, no matter what we tried to convince him; no one wanted to do origami; and, everyone wanted to do fun Christmas printables.

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Knitting took a pause for a later date, as it was lay-hay-ate by the time we got home from the shopping, but I did allow the kids to do the printables. There were mazes, dot-to-dots, word searches, bookmarks with jokes, and so on, which I searched for all over the Interwebs, so no linkage, sorreh. They're easy to find, however. Remember to use Swagbucks for your searching, to rack up those rewards! Anyhoo, the kids really enjoyed that and kept asking for more, so I guess that part wasn't a fail. (Eek about all the paper and ink I used, but nevermind that.)


On the 3rd day, the Advent activity was: "3. Holiday Lights at the Beach – Military Mondays 20% off!"

The plan was to go after Jack's Cub Scout meeting, but, uh, while the boy and his father were gone, I fell asleep and didn't wake until a few hours ago; 0230 to be precise. The kids were a bit disappointed, but I'll bump that to later in the month, so we won't entirely miss out on that, an annual tradition for us.

I did accomplish something, though. Normally, Rob does all the dinner cooking, especially in this house, since I hate the kitchen, half our crap is still at the old house, and did I mention I hate the kitchen?? However, I got a bug up my arse to actually accomplish some housewifery yesterday, and I washed the humongous pile of dishes that were taking over the sink and half the nation, so I could give The Bob the night off from cooking and make a delicious dinner that would be ready for him when he got home, exhausted from work. (The kids helped: they dried and put away the dishes and did some other various and sundry tidying-up chores while I prepared the sup.)

Dinner was a pork loin, cooked on the stovetop in a pot with the usual roast veggies: potatoes, onions, and carrots, along with a bunch of garlic thrown in for good measure, salt-and-peppered to who-knows-who's taste, since, natch, I don't eat pork (mammal-free since 1995, give or take a few lapses I won't mention now) and wasn't about to sample my own cooking. 

I decided to make dessert, too, and opted for baked apples, which I'd never done before but had long wanted to try. I used this recipe as a starting point, with the addition of oats to the hollowed-out Granny Smiths, and a cooking time of 30 minutes rather than 15.

The chiquiniños watched me make dinner and dessert, and they thought the addition of butter to the apples was disgusting!! They were vehemently opposed to trying the apples on the before side, but when I served the baked cinnamony goodness alongside their roasted pork an' veggies, they decided the after was quite edible, indeed. Jack didn't eat too much, having filled up on pork (he's my meat kid; Sophie's my fruit kid, and Chloë is my picky, depends-on-the-moment kid), so I ate some of his (in addition to my hummus dinner), and it was delicious!


I don't normally eat with the family anymore, since my gastric bypass surgery (nearly four years ago, wow!), because I'm finished eating in approximately 13½ seconds when Oscar-the-pouch is full, and it's incredibly agitating to me to watch everyone eating for another ten, twenty, thirty... you get the drift...  minutes, when I have so much else I could be (and would rather be) doing. It's kind of sucky on my part, which I realized in full when the kids were so ecstatic over my joining them for the recent Thanksgiving repast.

So I sat with them today, to watch them enjoy the meal I'd made, because I do love so when I cook and it turns out well, and the eaters of such like it and compliment the food and so on and so forth. I normally am quite horrible at accepting compliments, but because of my stepmother's excessive criticism about cooking-related everything during my formative years, I live for cooking-related accolades! And all four of them loved the meal (though the girls kept thinking the pork was chicken, not that I cared, as long as they ate it), so I was well-pleased. Well-pleased was I, yes.

And then, while I was washing up the dinner dishes, the boys readied themselves for their den meeting, and Sophia did Sophia things, Chloë, who was helping dry and put away said dishes, said to me, "I hope tomorrow is just like today."

Of course, I asked the inevitable, "What do you mean?"

And do you know what that child said to me? She replied, "I mean, I hope you cook a yummy dinner again, that's ready when Daddy gets home from work, and sit down with us for dinner. I really liked that."

You could have knocked me over with a feather, when she said the part about dinner being ready for Daddy when he got home from work. Seriously? It was a revelation for me. It was a total 1950s moment, kinda, but I mean that in a good way. I envisioned what tonight looked like from the kids' perspectives, compared to my usual snubbing of dinner, and wow. It meant so much to them, that I cooked, and joined them, and all, and I felt great about having done so. (I'd had my meds, so I was able to turn off the "I feel like crap about every other day" thoughts that tried to push in.)

So yeah. We didn't do the lights on the beach, but that happened, and it was pretty awesome, so I'm calling Day Three a mostly-win. Okay with you?

And yes, I'm going to cook dinner tonight, and probably the next, and yes, the week's menu plan was already in my head eleven seconds after Chloë said that. And I'm feeling a weird feeling I don't often get, and I think it's what they call "happy."

Stay tuned for more Advent-ures!