Kim Jong Il Strikes Back

This Christmas we hosted Joel’s family: 3 brothers (plus one wife and one puppy) and sister (plus her husband and 2 kids).  We have the biggest house and we are the middle ground for everyone meeting up.  His brothers all came down from TN (2-3.5 hours away) and his sister came up from GA (4.5 hours away).  I LOVE that I got to stay at home during Christmas.  Of course, it’s really still a pain to stay here and prepare for hosting such a crew.  We (Joel and his brother who is staying with us for a month while he transitions from undergrad to grad school) cleaned the house and set up beds in all areas.  We have a 3 bedroom house and, of course, we recently sold all of our guest bedroom furniture on Craigslist BUT we did have our new mattress in – so that was a bonus.  One bedroom for sister and her family; one bedroom for brother and his wife; Joel and I were in our bedroom; two brothers stayed in our closet.  Yes.  Our closet can house two twin mattresses, which is awesome on occasions like this.  Oh and all the dogs stayed in the laundry room (as usual). 

Needless to say, there were way too many people in my house.

The weather on Christmas was beautiful.  The boys cranked up the fire pit and went outside to smoke their pipes they got for Christmas.  We ate a TON of food, which I cooked from scratch.  Y’ALL, I cooked so much I went on a cooking strike for a week afterwards.  I cooked for every meal (except for a little casserole Joel’s brother made – after I got him the recipe and all the ingredients out) and BUSTED my butt for Christmas dinner. 

My mouth is watering again looking at all of this...

You are looking at sweet potato casserole (made from sweet potatoes I roasted), green bean casserole (courtesy of The Pioneer Woman – no can of condensed soup here), Sister Shubert rolls, Pumpkin Pie (thank you Publix for allowing me to indulge in my random pregnancy craving!), turkey (both light and dark carved up) and gravy.  The collard greens aren’t pictured, but that’s ok because I TOTALLY screwed those up by oversalting.  I tried using some math edits…and yeah.  Fail.  Now you see why I was on a cooking strike.

Joel’s sister-in-law is usually extremely helpful around the house and kitchen when she’s here.  She’s Southern and was born and raised to be courteous of others, especially when in someone else’s house.  However, she had a root canal Friday afternoon and when she wasn’t doped up on pain meds, she was in so much pain I couldn’t bear to ask to her help.  Joel’s sister, on the other hand, made one casserole the entire time she was there.  One.  I learned to let the frustration from her never offering to help cook or clean evaporate from my shoulders.  I think it’s a difference in how we were raised (me – Southern; her – not so much), but it’s SO odd because Joel and his brothers are always offering to help clean and cook.  They are so helpful!  I think the boys in that family were made to do the work and not the girls – whereas in my family, it was the other way around.  Whatevs.

So, how did Kim Jong Il end up ruining part of our Christmas?  Thursday, before all the company arrived, Joel began brining the turkey.  This turkey was his pride and joy.  He made a daily plan as to what he was going to do to the turkey weeks in advance.  Day 1 – brine for 24 hours. Day 2 – let it dry out in the fridge.  Day 3 – smother it in butter and throw it in a carefully watched oven for specific temperatures in specific time ranges.  Joel likes to be organized.

So on Thursday, Joel places the 15 lb turkey in the bag and as he goes to lift the entire bird and brine bag from the sink, either the bag broke or the legs slipped out of his hands.  Whatever the case, turkey juices and gallons of brine dumped all over my floor, the sink/counters, and his pants.  When he turns to look at me with that annoyed “insert every curse word here” face, I burst into laughter.  His face was hysterical.  Joel’s brother couldn’t stop laughing either.  Then as we struggled to sober up and offer help, Joel makes the situation worse by comparing his turkey dillema to North Korea. 

Yeah, yeah, go on and laugh.  This is SOOO funny.
I’m sorry…but you’re right…this is funny.
No.  Do you know what this is?  This is like North Korea and Kim Jong Il.  I am heartbroken and crying and the rest of you are JUST LIKE South Korea and the rest of the world.  You’re sooooo happy and laughing at the death of my favorite person.
Did you just compare an evil dictator to our Christmas turkey?  Wow.  NOW this is even funnier.

Later that night after coming home from the movies, all of the boys came down with a mysterious stomach virus involving puking and lots of sleep.  I have no idea what they got (couldn’t have been food poisoning because ONLY the guys got it and it couldn’t have been airborne from the movie theater because all of the wives slept next to their husbands and yet, none of us got sick either) and thankfully it only lasted 24 hours or so.  And even though I don’t believe it was the food, we kept saying that Kim Jong Il came back to haunt us once again. 

And THAT is what happens when you name your turkey after an evil dictator.


Recap of 2011

I completely stole this from my friend Sarah.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? I got pregnant.  Yes, I’m counting that.   I mean, we had never tried to have a baby before but it was nice that it happened.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? No.  One of my resolutions was to go take Joel to Europe and run a half marathon (but settle for a 10K).  I didn’t do either of those.  I did, however, run a 5K without training.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Oh my!  Yes!  There were three babies born just in the past few months.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit? Nada

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? Constant peace about life decisions and confidence that whatever choice I AM making is the correct one.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? April – the disastrous tornadoes that wrecked our state.  I remember Joel still trying to study for his board examination by candlelight.  The end of the school year – I had this feeling of 100% accomplishment and survival.  I was so proud that I was also one of the few non-tenured employees asked to come back and teach at my school.  June- Joel passed his board examinations.  This has been quite the process for both of us over the past 5 years.  But thankfully, being the genius he is, he passed, which means I don’t have to lose my husband for months at a time every other year.  Late July – seeing a positive pregnancy test and taking another one because I totally didn’t believe it.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Having over 50% of my kids pass the AP Exam.  I was/am so proud of them and how well I feel like I got the information across to them.  It helped that I had an extremely smart group of kids too.

9. What was your biggest failure? This fall – I tried to switch things up a bit in my AP class and I don’t know that I’m doing as great as I did last year.  But the kids are still performing at the right level (compared to last year) so I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing.  Although I’ll switch things back next time.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Thankfully, I stayed pretty healthy besides the sinus infection from hell when I first got pregnant.

11. What was the best thing you bought? I bought Joel the nicest leather bag from Fossil for when he passed his board examination.  Other than that, I guess the coat I bought at Anthropologie that I blogged about would be my favorite thing.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? One of Joel’s younger brothers graduated from college and came back to live with us for a month or so while he waited to move into grad school at Auburn.  He lived with Joel when he first moved to America before college and throughout the years, he has grown into such an amazing person.  He is so helpful and fun to have in my house that I seriously wouldn’t mind if he didn’t go to grad school and just lived with us instead.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I’ve constantly been surprised by people and their terrible behaviors.  I don’t know WHY because it’s not like these people kept their selfishness/bad habits a secret.  I think I’m learning to just automatically quit believing that people are (as Anne Frank said) “good at heart.”  Add in the disappointing feeling of having the cleaning lady steal my engagement ring and diamond necklace.

14. Where did most of your money go? Mortgage and Joel’s student loans. We took every penny I made for almost a year and put it solely towards his student loans.  In June, we paid off his student loans and completely celebrated with a fancy dinner.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My best friend got engaged!  I was so excited because I knew it was coming and I was in on the ring and everything.  And I LOVE her fiance.  He’s fantastic.  I’m super excited that their wedding is in a week!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Coldplay’s “Paradise”

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter? (I’m pregnant so I don’t know if this counts)
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?  Relaxed.  I so often get tense and panic about stupid things but I just need to relax and not worry about things out of my control.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Stressed.

20. How did you spend Christmas? All of Joel’s siblings came into town – which was great until all the guys (Joel, 3 brothers, and his brother in law) began puking Sunday  night and all day Monday.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? Why yes, I did.

22. What was your favorite TV program? I still love The Closer and I’m really bummed that it’s ending next year.  I love the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills along with Top Chef.  But as for new shows – Up All Night has to be one of the best new shows on TV.

23. This question has been deleted because it’s SOOO teenage emo Xanga shit. This was Sarah’s answer and I like it.

24. What was the best book you read? Divergent, hands down. —Also Sarah’s answer and a VERY good one at that.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Coldplay is a pretty good band.  YES, I’m like 5 years too late for this revelation but better late than never.

26. What did you want and get?  Pregnant.

27. What did you want and not get? An embroidery machine.  But I’m saving and still researching so I’m slowly getting there.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Harry Potter finale, Bridesmaids, and Crazy, Stupid, Love

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 27 on the 27th and we had a low-key day filled with lunch with great friends, a baking demonstration, and an amazing homemade dinner the night before.  It was great.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not letting other people’s issues fill my happy space.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? I love cardigans.

32. What kept you sane? Joel

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I am finding Ryan Gossling to be quite the wonderboy now that he’s grown up.  I wasn’t a big fan of him in The Notebook, but now…yowzas.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Most of the bullcrap associated with education and how people in Washington believe they know what is best for my kids in my classroom in a small town in Alabama.

35. Who did you miss? I miss my friends from college. There were some who had great hours of need and I physically could not be there for them (due to distance and other factors) and it broke my heart.

36. Who was the best new person you met? I have become great friends with some co-workers who I love dearly.  They have become some of my closest friends and I adore them.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Relax.  There’s nothing you can do about it.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” – Wicked

TODAY – well it’s a good day

This December 14 started out like most days, except I had to take the glucose test this morning.  Thankfully, I was able to take a half day at work, which allowed me to sleep until a whopping 7:00.  Granted I had a baby kicking me starting around 6 am, so sleeping in wasn’t really happening, but it sure was nice to just lie there and be lazy.  My glucose and iron levels were great! The only not-so-great piece of news was the realization that I have gained 8 lbs in the past month.  So…no wonder I’ve been feeling huge.  Thankfully, my doctor is awesome and told me that as long as I’m staying healthy, she isn’t going to chastise me about the weight gain.

I headed to school for my half day and showed up just in time to teach my other AP class and go to lunch.  Thankfully, I made a little phone call and ended up talking to the investigator of my missing ring case for an update.  He told me that the DA’s office is backed up for TWO YEARS and he just cannot make me go without my engagement ring for two years.  I almost cried.  He told me to give him until after lunch (which conveniently is when my class ended) and he would meet me at the precinct with my jewelry.  Because I have a great boss, he let me go early to retrieve my belongings.

I had forgotten what my ring looks like on my hand.

It is so perfect that I got the ring back today because on December 14, 2007 Joel proposed to me in Chicago.  Today – well, today was a good day.

The day after we were engaged (2007)

A Selfish Black Friday

Usually on Black Friday, everyone does Christmas shopping for their families.  I guess this truly gives a sense of accomplishment to those who feel the need to complete their Christmas shopping by December.  Make no mistake – I am not that person.

In fact, Joel and I did go Black Friday shopping.  We aren’t opposed to the craziness of shoppers, but we are pretty adamant about not doing the whole “save $10 on a toaster” deal that Walmart and other big box stores put out there.  Believe me when I say that I’d rather pay an extra $20 to not deal with the traffic, parking, lines, and (honestly) the possibility of the item being out of stock.  I worked retail for a few holiday seasons when I was in high school and college and I remember VERY CLEARLY how insane people became.  A woman actually threw her credit card at me, which hit my chest and bounced to the counter.  I was speechless.

ANYWAY, back to the happiness that was this last Black Friday.  Joel and I were in Memphis visiting my family.  While we were there, Joel wanted to go to the Eddie Bauer store.  It’s one of his favorite places to get clothing and whenever we are in Destin, we go a little crazy at the outlet.  It’s where he gets all of his nice work clothes, so it’s definitely a place where I’m totally ok with good money being spent on crazy high quality clothing.  We headed out (with Joel’s brother in tow) around 9 am.  He dropped me off at Anthropologie (which was in the same outdoor shopping center) and then went to Eddie Bauer. 

Y’ALL.  Anthropologie was having a 50% off sale items sale.  Considering all of the items on their sale racks are already 50% off – well this deal just became ludicrous.  **Must admit that when typing that previous word, I spelled it like the rapper spells his name. Sad.**  I have to share some of the beautiful finds I scored.

I found 3 super cute dish towels.  I think getting older makes me a little more lame as to what I get excited about, but whatever.  They are fun, vibrant, and have a lot of personality. 

Then I snatched up 2 metal necklaces (each originally priced at $45).  Truly this was my impulse buy because I was just standing there next to the jewelry when I was waiting in the line.  It would have been a shame not to buy them.

I randomly found a little canvas apron with flowers all on it which would be perfect for a little girl, which conveniently is what I’m having.  SO, I got it.  Seriously though, it was $6 and probably the only thing she’ll ever own from there until she’s old.  Solid justification as far as I’m concerned.

But the prize for best purchase must go to this:

My new favorite coat
with the most gorgeous back

I walked in and immediately grabbed this stunning coat off the sale rack and got REALLY excited when I realized that even though it was originally priced at $200, I was about to buy it for $50.  The corset in the back is beautiful and the front flows perfectly.  Granted, I won’t be able to wear it too much longer (because it has a little trouble buttoning in the front – but it’s not like I’ll always be pregnant so it’s like a gift that give back to me again next winter) but I’m going to try. 

All in all, I calculated my savings and figured out that I got $370 of merchandise (granted, YES their clothes are ridiculously expensive to begin with) for $109.60.  Did I mention I had a $100 gift card?  I ran my debit card for $9.60.  Best ten bucks I’ve ever spent.  So my Black Friday was pretty awesome.

 Did anyone out there actually finish all of their shopping needs in the midnight madness?