Tag Archive | Christmas

3 things Thursday

what better way to blog more than the old standby of three cool/good/interesting things from the week.  This week I’m thankful for;

  1. Police.   Waaaaay back on veterans day I promised that on On January 9th I would give the police their due on their day  I also took some time to message all the good people I know who are police.  Thankfully I’ve lived a life where police were never the bad guys.  Sure, I’ve been mad at speeding ticket but it wasn’t like I wasn’t actually speeding.  I do feel safer for the police and I don’t fear that they are out to get me.  I see our police doing their best to spread that opinion with cool things like safety camp and working in the schools and giving out coupons for ice cream when they see a kid biking with a helmet.  I’m in a town that thoroughly supports police, to the extent that the high school did a walkout when the town council was considering closing our local police and contracting with the county.   I get in my bubble that this is a good place and we are safe and while that is pretty true super sad stories like this officer that was shot this week happen way too often.  This officer had nothing but support from his community too and I hope he recovers but even in safe little towns bad things can happy and it is (literally) too close to home.

 

2. Sister Christmas.

Other years, because I don’t really love hauling gifts from MN to NY to open there to then haul back we have had 2nd Christmas and it is always fun.  We drove this year and the gifts do get smaller (and more electronic) as they age so most could make the trip, I thought I was in the clear but…  We have another mini tradition where we let the girls shop for each other and this year that got lost in the flu so we did it last week with an agreement that we would have “sister Christmas” this past weekend.  I love how well they know each other and what they would each like and the care that goes into choosing.  Personally, I love the gifts my sisters choose, they are always ‘right’ somehow even if it is nothing I knew I needed or wanted.  They had the best time with this mini Christmas both with the gifts themselves and the wrapping was even fun.  Niamh did the crazy classic of 5 layers + of wrapping, including packing tape for Zoe and to add to the fun, Fiona had an identical outer box and after Zoe was expecting the same BUT Niamh had wrapped an empty box that included a note that was directions to a different location.  It was awesome.

 

3. img_3539Last is an item that was part of my world for my entire childhood.  It was my grandmother’s’ whatnot’ and she acquired it when she purchased the house so its actual age is unknown but I’m guessing 150-200 years old.  For my growing up it was covered in crystal and I remember dusting it often.  When my grandparents downsized this lovely piece went with them but didn’t have such a prominent place in the house.  As old age and illness took over it became less used and dustier and eventually, after both grandparents were gone it became an item in the estate.  I never thought I would end up with it, but I did, and we brought it home from Christmas and I spent a good long time cleaning and then polishing and then assembling it.  I’m not sure what to put on it in our house but I’m looking forward to it being part of my kid’s memories too.  Oh, I might have said I inherited it because I cleaned it most (probably not true) but that put the idea in #3’s head that she would be cleaning it as often as possible to make a claim now…

 

Those are my 3 things – anyone else doing this challenge?  Even if you are not, take a second to thank a police officer today, it is their day.

I got the flu

I did NOT fall off the earth but I had a nasty flu.  THE flu, tested and everything.

It all started well, Monday the 16th, I had a power cleaning day.  My goal was for the house to be clean before my birthday on the 18th and ready for us to go to NY on the 20th.  I brought home plague monkey from school that afternoon sick and by morning I was right there with her.  Somehow she recovered more quickly, I got the full death feeling of the flu for 7 full days.  So, I did not have a fancy party for my 40th birthday, I had the flu (I do have a reclaim plan that is awesome but that its own post).  I am super lucky Lars took the week off with use-or-lose vacation so he could do all the things I normally do.  This included the majority of the packing…. it was ok.

The moral of this story is don’t procrastinate!  The house was fairly clean, I actually had the majority of Christmas shopping done and packed ready to get in the car very early.  Our teacher gifts were ready, I had the laundry done and we had just sorted out fancy outfits and shoes for the Christmas concert so we were in pretty good shape even if I couldn’t raise my head off the pillow.  There were things that just didn’t happen like a few little gifts I was planning on hand making and some last week activities like finding cool Christmas lights but nothing that wrecked the holiday.  #1 and Lars ended up doing the wrapping in NY, I wish I could have but I just couldn’t and it was nice to see #1 step up and do a good job.

We did drive 20 hours over 2 days to get to NY.  It was a very dull drive with no excitement at all.  I think the kids watched about 5 movies and were 90% well behaved.  By the end of the drive, Lars was showing flu signs and I was feeling better so I drove a chunk.  He succumbed to the flu the first two days in NY and then #2 and then #1.  #2 only had about a day of feeling bad and #1 had 3 but they included Christmas so she was not top form for opening fun gifts.  Good thing their major gift from us was a kindle each so she holed up in her bed with endless Netflix and Tylenol.

I was (fortunately) the only one that got the whole classic flu and I’m still not 100% two weeks later but I’m feeling much better.  It is hard to drive that far to see people and just have no energy.  I wasn’t contagious by the time we got there but part 2 of the flu is general inability to do what you think is a normal amount of activity.  We got enough festive visiting in but nowhere near maximized.   It also did not help that Mrs. Math was also sick and so were a few other NY friends so we all either didn’t feel up for it or didn’t want to cross infect each other.

We got home last night after a slightly more harrowing drive home.  We dodged a major snow event, for the most part, it hit MN and was moving east so we beat it for the first day and a half of driving and only hit snow in the last 3 hours.  Lars is a good driver but it was nice to get home and stop moving.

I didn’t take many pictures at Christmas but I’ll sift through what I have to see if it is worth a ‘Christmas post’ even though it is a week later.  I hope your week of December 25th was all you wished it would be, or, at least you didn’t have the flu.  In the end, it really was not all that sad.  I felt bad but nothing fell apart, we have plenty of good medicine and comfortable beds, I even watched a few episodes of a show I like in my conscious periods.  We did make it to Christmas, we saw the people we wanted to, we did a few things in NY and overall it was a good holiday, germs and all.

Christmas traditions, old and new

So proof people read because I got quite a few calls about my last post.  Good to know that I normally keep the bar high for positive writing.  In reality like everyone, my ups and downs are pretty on par with most, I just usually keep it off the record. Thank you to those who took a second to check on me though, it was just what I needed.

Anyway!

Christmas time is its own type of magic and we are keeping up with our traditions even while we add in new ones or let some drift away.

This year we have 4 countdowns to Christmas;  Like other years, Santa’s beard is trimmed daily and each day is basically a positive and selfless item and so far so good.  On ‘write a nice note for someone’ day I was gifted with some super sweet notes.  I don’t have a picture this year but Santa is colored with style and his hat is a work of art (literally)

Two new count downs join the group.  My mom sent a classic advent pop open calendar with a little candy and line from the Christmas story in each.  Our post office got a little aggressive so all the candy actually fell out so it now lives in a tin and the fun is opening the door and reading the passage.  #3 noticed that they all had ‘some guys name and some numbers’ at the bottom and I filled her in on how the Bible works.  She then decided to read the bible.  She will not be discouraged and the copy we have (that nobody knows where it came from) actually has pronunciation guides so it is not all that hard to read, except you know, for how hard it is to read.  It is an odd outcome but I don’t mind if she reads.

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she will not skip ahead…

Mom’s contribution was in semi reaction to my dad deciding that his daughters would enjoy a tea advent calendar.  I don’t know about my sisters but I certainly enjoy it.  The kids open the tea but after dinner, I make a little pot of interesting tea and we all have a little cup.  Most have been really really good and overall I enjoy the process.  On tea tastes like forest sweepings but 1 out of 10 isn’t bad.  #3 likes all of them, #2 likes the ‘normal’ tea that happened to be one of the days and #1 has enjoyed a few and not liked a few.  I’ve liked them all (except that one, pine needles are not for drinking).

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The 4th countdown is the one that I remember best from my growing up, the 4 Sundays of Advent.  It is a short little lighting of the candle and saying of prayer and singing a song but we follow it with a family dinner and all the kids love it.  Of course, there was negotiations about who would lite what candle but they mostly worked it out and it is a nice part of our weekend.  If all goes well, the 4th Sunday will be celebrated in Sayville this year.

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There are a few things that have drifted.  We don’t read Christmas books out loud anymore.  In some ways, the tea took the spot but our bedtime has changed and they just don’t read with us anymore.  It is a little sad but I’m overall glad they can all read solo and usually choose to (even the bible sometimes).  We also won’t have the opportunity to celebrate Hannaka because we will be gone during the 8 nights.  I’m sure we could find a way in NY but really it was about sharing that evening with our friend.

Finally, a Christmas event that accidentally started last year persists.  In an odd hybrid of Scandinavian culture that surrounds us here, and, the semi detestable elf on the shelf the Tonte’s we made last year have started moving around the house and even brought gifts on the 1st of December.  They are undeniably adorable and they are NOT watching us for Santa nor do they get into trouble in the night.  They simply move about and create a magic moment every afternoon when they race inside to see where they moved to during the day.  They are a good addition and a very low-stress magic maker.

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One day they helped the tree feel loved before we got time to decorate

We have the tree up and trimmed, decorations around and about, Santa has been visited, town tree has been officially lit and I am nearing the end of shopping.  We have a plan for hand made gifts and they are in process.  Each year we do different things so hard to say ‘tradition’ quite but this year the girls are taking the lead on projects they want.  I’m glad to see the craft gene expressing itself! This weekend we will be doing the majority because next week we are busy every night of the week and heading off to NY on Friday.

Time to finish up and make the tea then chase 3 good girls into bed.

December

Hey, November got crazy, I did finish the shed but it was a marathon!  I had tons of help and it was like a party, I can see how barn-raising used to be a community affair.  We did get the snow, as expected, and the weather just kept on for the entire long weekend.  However, it was not that cold so for me, that was really good.  Sure there was snow on the ground but my fingers and toes were cozy in normal layers so the finishing bits got done.  On Thanksgiving day I pulled out the ladder and air nailer and finished the roof tarp properly.  Then we installed the door.  It may have been what I was most worried about and in the end, it was the absolute easiest!  We had everything going for us;

  • High-quality Anderson door that was well built and had fewer steps for installing than my doorbell
  • We built the opening to match the door so we didn’t need to adjust anything
  • everything was square to start!  that was a big surprise to us all but it shows that being careful at the start pays off in the end.

The only snafu was the cat stepping in the silicon gel and we wasted a little time laughing at the cat (and googling if it was toxic) (it was not).  The thing was heavy but between 3 adults we shoved it in and that was more or less that.  It makes the shed look like a real building, I’m very pleased.

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roof tarp secure, door installed.  (Lars’s look of concern is not about the door)

Thanksgiving afternoon, post-construction projects, progressed as holiday normal.  Friends came over, the table was set with cheer, food was cooked and consumed and everyone had a good time.  I went to bed happy, and, for the first time in weeks, I slept well because I had ZERO crazy deadline projects on my mind.

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Our crew this year

The kids had off from Wednesday through the weekend, but, it was very crappy weather with snow, freezing rain, more snow interspersed with random decent weather.  This is NOT GOOD for going places but the kids really did have a great time playing in the snow around the house.  I can’t express in words how good it feels for them to decide to put on snow gear and go out and play.  They play nicely for ages.  It sounds dumb but it makes my heart full and happy, I hope I always remember this.

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they ended up with 3 snow people and a fort started in the front yard

There was a vague plan to go get a Christmas tree ‘from the wild’ but the weather just wasn’t on our side so we went with our traditional visit to the Home Depot to pick a tree ‘from the not wild’.  It is still a fun little trip and I love the tree we picked.  The Home Depot must have extra jolly criteria for working the tree lot because like last year, the people who helped us were fun and happy and made the experience more than transactional.

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“helping….”

In the past I’ve stressed about the ‘holiday card picture’ and over the past years, I’ve realized that I do better trying all year to get good pictures and then one low-stress fast fun photo if the opportunity arises.  The perfect opportunity presented itself on Sunday – we had been unpacking the decorations and found all the assorted shirts so everyone put one on, also found were the assorted Santa hats.  The day moved on and there was a break in the weather so everyone ran outside with boots, hats, scarfs and no other changes to outfit or hair or makeup and we took about 15 pictures in under 5 minutes and it worked great.  I have two great shots and zero crabby kids.

The balance of this week has been all about putting the house back together post project and 5 days of lazy vacation life.  I finished our Christmas card today and its at the printer and this weekend santa comes to our town to light the tree so I’m working on decorations and gift ideas too.

It is a different type of busy, Christmas still has its stresses and I create my own extra for wanting to do ‘all the things’ but it is a fun busy.  Who knows how long the particular magic of Santa will last but I plan on enjoying it all.

 

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Christmas review

This was the first Christmas in the new house

This was probably also the first Christmas that all the kids were into it.

Sure, they had moments, short tempers, fights over the dumbest things (so dumb I don’t have a funny example because my brain can’t even fathom how they managed to fight over it) however each said without fail that this was the best Christmas ever.

I missed being in NY, the kids missed their cousins and grandparents and quality time was spent on facetime.  On the other hand, I feel refreshed after 5 days of break instead of trying to fit everything in and burning sleep to do it.  Not that I’m napping the break away, it is just removing all responsibilities beyond feeding the kids is mentally nice.

There is also a new secret weapon to sanity; I can leave the kids home for an hour or two and it is OK.  Not just legally ok (and it is) like, actually ok – they don’t seem to kill each other while I’m gone and I’ve come home to happy kids doing their own thing or watching a show every time.  It is incredibly freeing to run to the grocery or hardware solo, or, with Lars and NO KIDS.  They BEG to stay home,  I didn’t know I had been torturing them so all these years but I did read a good article once about viewing shopping from a kid’s POV. Where you have no control or choice about where you are going, have to stick with someone else the whole time, can’t ask for anything, can’t even touch stuff that catches your eye.  The article said imagine doing that with an adult friend – you would never – since then I’ve been treating shopping more kindly and looking at things that they think are cool and treating their opinions as I would a friend and it does help, but hey, it isn’t as good as undiluted Minecraft/kindle/TV/game that spreads toys all over with no one to tell you to pause and come pick up your socks or load the dishwasher etc.  Anyway, sorry for that tangent, but it is relevant to my current good mood because I had the BEST Christmas eve and a really good Christmas day and day after even.

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sugar cookie production

‘New house’ is an excuse I’ve used long enough that I’m sick of it.  Yes, the house has eaten a ton of money and energy but when we made the decision to stay I also felt like I could reallocate some energy to getting back to normal and not so frantic.   We actually made 3 types of cookies and creme brulee for Christmas.  We used frosting and cookie cutters and we just stopped when they were ‘done’ even though that means there are 3 dozen unfrosted cookies in the freezer.  I wrapped a mountain of gifts, nearly all in fabric so the clean up was relatively easy and I didn’t feel like I was filling a landfill.  We threw out one single kitchen size trash bag and that was mostly packaging, not wrapping paper.  I’ve posted about it before but it really is so easy to pack soft things or oddly shaped things, it all fits in a bag and bags don’t rip on crazy open areas to ‘show off’ the toy.  They also make a very pretty collection if you make 6 or so a year, after 5 years you have a variety.

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easy wrapping!  You see here 2 sets of ear muffs, a hat, a LOL ‘pod’ and 3 odd shaped toys.  Tags are from previous years Christmas cards and I usually manage to keep them year to year.

We got teacher gifts and even neighbor gifts done. Having Christmas on a Tuesday actually made things easier because that last weekend saw lots of Christmas prep time.  For teachers, I broke the candy rule and made them all emergency sweet boxes.  I know all the teachers well this year and I’m pretty confident they all like candy.  If they don’t, still a useful bits box once they give away the 20 odd pieces in there.  Neighbor gifts were from Pinterest and I hit a great sale early in the season at Michaels where nice wrapping paper was only $1.50 a roll and a 3 pack of tape was $3 ish and then there was a coupon….  It didn’t get together until 2 days before Christmas but the point was that it was emergency last second wrapping supply.  I also sent each of them an invite to a new years day party so even if I don’t do it again, I had a good reason to this year.

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neighbor gifts

Christmas Eve we had no plans – being in a place you never usually are cuts down on traditional invitations – but we kept busy somehow.  I used my freedom to go pick up groceries using the pickup service and it was great to avoid that store on Christmas eve AND gave me time to pop into the thrift store.  I intended to go to buy butter knives for Lars who has taken up thrown weapons and saw a youtube about using butter knives and to keep his grubby hands of the silver I got him a dozen of his own.  While I was there (solo) I browsed the Christmas clearance and scored a house for my collection, a nutcracker for Zoe who is oddly into them and it was the best dollar I spent all year for her joy, and my best purchase was specialty Christmas dessert plates.  I have room to store them finally and I really love them and they were under .50 each.

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my new plates from ‘santa’ and Niamh’s cinnamon roll trees.

Santa was left a tray and kids practically put themselves to bed.  This being the first year in the house the furniture got re-arranged to suit gift opening and this room is more and more my favorite.  I wish the chair could stay full time but it is also needed in the living room.  The final crazy thing we did is total potty humor but that is still very funny over here.  The Tamtes all pooped mints for Christmas morning!  We put a handful of mints under each one and it was worth it because they noticed right away and are delighted by it.  I had intended to do it earlier in the season but this worked too.

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selection of baked goods and drinks by the tree.

Christmas Day started early (2am Fiona!) but they did let us go back to sleep until 7:30 and Niamh made cinnamon rolls and Fiona made coffee and Zoe made joyful noise and they actually spent their time organizing the gifts into people piles and that was helpful for opening, plus, it gave them time to wonder over the gifts and that is the best part sometimes.  We had nearly no lull because Vacation Mom came for brunch and then the rolling family calls and then we hosted dinner for a set of friends and we finished the night with a new game that was a bigger success then I had anticipated.

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loving her biggest gift, wearing the new hat and new shirt.  Zoe is the most expressive of the 3

Boxing day was totally lazy.  PJ’s worn well into the afternoon.  Kids cheerfully doing kits and playing with toys.  I sequestered myself in my room to finally get my closet organized.  It still had lots of boxes, lots…. I didn’t finish but I did get the shelving up I needed and I’m at 70%.  I’ll have a picture when I’m done but there is no before picture, however, you can just imagine a small room full of boxes and 30 graphic t-shirts hung up.  (ps. Lars didn’t notice there were boxes in the closet?!?).  Maybe unearthing so many of my things beget my good mood but I definitely have one.  I said goodbye to 2 bags for donations and 1 bag of garbage but I’m ok with letting it go.

Here we are today, on a bonus December day.  A day off that has no obligation to society, church, family, or even airlines.  Our plan is to go to the zoo but it is somewhat weather dependent.  Tomorrow or the next day we need to start pulling out of vacation and getting ready for our open house party on New Year’s day but that isn’t today.  I have house projects cooking too but none are quite done enough for pictures.

I hope your holiday week has been as good, good enough to outweigh the not so pretty times in the week.  Believe me, there have been lows in my week too but as always I am focusing on the positive here and it doing so it sets the positive points in my brain.  It is my worst fear that someone reads my blog and feels bad about themselves in comparison – I’m cherry picking – I could post a giant list of shortcomings, fears, messes, and disagreements but I don’t want to, and would that be interesting or helpful? In the interest of full disclosure and your feelings trust me they were/are there!

Can’t end with that, just not my style so;  Merry Christmas and enjoy the last few days of 2018.

 

 

Holiday Time

Am I ignoring Christmas with my title?  Nope, I just am referring to ALL the holidays that are in this season.  Some I celebrate, some I don’t, realistically there are SO MANY Christmas traditions that one could go crazy tieing them all in and that isn’t even touching other faiths.  The school does a good job filling in details about traditions in many faiths and cultures and it really does make we wish I could do them all.

I  love a cool tradition.  I wish I had a maid (don’t we all) not because I dislike cleaning but because I really really like doing crafty creative decorating things and too much time is sucked up with normal cleaning.  This makes me pick and choose what we are doing because life doesn’t slow down to accommodate, still have jujitsu and girl scouts and chorus and school board and PTO etc.

This year things are complicated a little (more) because new house means that none of our previous decorating go-to work.  First, everything we have from before looks laughably small because the scale of our rooms is totally different in this house.  Second, we have very few places to put things, for example, we don’t have a shelf in the living room yet much less a mantle to hang stockings with care.  I also had a minor panic attack when 9 more BOXES were imported into the house, but, I told myself they are simply Christmas stuff and I can’t hold my box angst against Christmas.

We are a tad behind on things but I think I’ve covered it well.  The kids wanted the Santa beard countdown and I finally got it done this Monday.  To cover the late start I put it in an envelope from the ‘north pole’ in our mailbox and had a note that the first beard must have gone to the old address…  They totally understood and happily went on to decorate the Santa and hat and we have been trimming the beard daily since.

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Very festive hat this year

Two things we actually are nailing this year is our annual Hannukah dinner, and, we added in Advent.  I had already decided to do advent and even had candles when my mom suggested that we do the candle lighting together via facetime.  Sometimes moms and daughters are just on the same page and for the past two Sundays, we have lit the candles ‘together’ 1400 miles apart.  For the last few years, we have invited our friend who celebrates Hannukah to come share it with us.  I actually told him the dates this year (it was early) and the day that worked best happened to be Sunday so he joined us in lighting the advent wreath.  Then we had a very nice dinner with friends and the deadline of this dinner party really helped move the Christmas decor along.  We actually trimmed the tree with them too, it was a classic evening.

One tradition that I’ve been semi-avoiding is the Elf on a Shelf but I ended up right in the soup of arranging Christmas creatures because I fell in love with the Swedish Tomte and made a set of 5 with the kids.  Well, one thing led to another and they have been found posed a time or two.  I wonder if there is an award for holiday tradition combining because I am totally winning this year.

Like most parents, this feels like an overwhelming time of year-  and for us, it comes at the end of an overwhelming year.  The decision to stay in MN for Christmas does simplify many things but it is still a hard choice.  I’m trying not to overcompensate because the point of not traveling was to lessen stress.  I feel super lucky that the kids have nothing crazy on their lists, except for the incredibly crazy things that they know are long shots so won’t be sad they won’t happen like iPads or Horses.  They are enjoying the traditions, the magic of tomte is infectious because every time I move they love it.  In looking at pictures to add to this post, even though my list is still long (like I’ve done next to no gift shopping) we have done some fun stuff;

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breakfast with santa 

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Importing the new decoration addition for a year, a toddler-sized bear.

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Great sale on paint projects mean we have 3 and they love them!

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Tree lighting in town, it was super cold but worth it.

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we searched out this cool light display last night.  Our new street actually does a great job, I love seeing lights on our dark dark days.

Not too bad and we have 2 weeks to go.  One last thing for those interested in the curtain campaign, I’m finally finished with bedrooms and started on downstairs.  I’m pretty proud of this one – since the picture I’ve added the sheers but I like how they look.

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I knew that I had to get it done pre tree or there was no hope this year.  I made it by 2 hours…

As I said, the list is forever long so I need to do both laundry folding and Christmas card assembly today so time to get off the computer.  I hope your holiday season is going well!