My computer is back! My computer is back! And, best of all, Apple footed the bill for the repair. So now I can finally finish this post that I started the night before my computer crashed. 🎉A quick reminder: while much of the scrapbooking world participates in Ali Edwards' wonderful December Daily® project every year, beautifully documenting each little bit of December as it comes, I find myself hanging on for dear life right around December 4 or so. And then end up at the finish line of December feeling like I got steamrolled. Hence, December All At Once™. Which is totally not trademarked for real, I just think it's funny.
So. December! It started out so calmly, so styled and so hopeful that this would be the year I, too, would beautifully document each little bit of the month as it came down the pipeline.
We had to buy a tree extra-super-early because Matt was headed to North Dakota for much of the month, and trees are a two person job. When we're under pressure and in a place unfamiliar to us we usually just go to Home Depot... but goodness gracious, the Home Depot trees in Albuquerque were so bad we walked out and found this nice little lot instead. The tree we bought was deader than a dead doornail by the time I finally lugged it out on January 2, but it served its purpose mostly valiantly.
We made a meal for someone that works in Matt's office that had a new baby... which required a new, not embarrassing crockpot. I think I lost track of how many times I went to Target and Smith's in December between making dinners and the 80 billion treats that were required for this class, that class, this place, that place, Gracie's birthday in this class, that place, etc.
Maddie had concert #1 of the season for the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program. This was the concert where she narrowly averted being mistaken for a shoplifter.
We made a whole lot of biscochitos, which requires a whole lot of lard. I did not know where to look for lard in the grocery store so I had to ask—but now I am a true New Mexican transplant because not only do I know where it is, I know how to use it. Biscochitos are the state cookie of New Mexico, and extra-popular at Christmastime. I found a good recipe and I'll be including them in my cookie repertoire from now on.
Maddie had concert #2. I very unluckily ended up sitting next to one of the most poorly behaved children in the universe. His mother kept hiss-pering threats to him the entire concert, and he kept elbowing me and knee-ing me and not caring. Merry Christmas!
Gracie had to get new glasses this month and while we were at the eye doctor's office, the girls picked out some things from the giving tree for us to purchase and bring back for local families. Bridget really had her heart set on the zoo passes tag, so we ran over to the zoo to buy guest passes. I forgot I took this picture until now, because we were in a huge hurry to get 20 things done in 10 things worth of time that day. (All the days in December?)
I worked really hard on Linus & Lucy all month long, which is probably why I didn't actually keel over by the end of the month. This is the not-hard part pictured. It's the solo inside that is the killer. I am proud to say I earned a solid B- on the whole thing by the end of December, raising my Linus & Lucy grade of an F from previous years.
Sweet Ellie took lots of naps while we ran around December-ing.
Gracie had some gym friends over to make gingerbread houses for her birthday, which has officially become a tradition. These are Maddie's, Bridget's and Gracie's houses. Do not be alarmed by the giant lizard thing on the wall. We know it's there. It has friends, and they were written into the lease here. (!?)
This is an unfortunate photo of the tire that was so flat it looked like a cartoon tire. I changed it myself, which was no easy feat because I have never once listened fully when someone tried to teach me (at least twice that I can remember). The tire was so damaged when I took it to Sam's that I had to buy new tires. Four of them. They cost just under $500. This is foreshadowing.
Gracie got a new (used) trombone for her birthday compliments of Grandma and Grandpa, who found it on one of their estate sales treasure hunts. It's in great condition and needed only to be cleaned at the music store here. She was very surprised.
The girls have been pretty darn lucky over the years that Matt has never had to miss a birthday, but this year he did because he was off inspecting things—we had a FaceTime birthday instead. Gracie is Beatles crazy, and loved her new yellow submarine tin to hold her lettering pens.
I made a whole bunch of farolito kits to send to faraway family and friends. I haven't lived anywhere that has such distinct December customs as New Mexico—it's kind of like living in a foreign country and I love it.
Did I mention Maddie had a fairly catastrophic ankle sprain early in the month? She did. After the initial swelling went down she had an X-Ray which showed that it's a fairly catastrophic sprain. Nothing broken. Still not healed as of tonight, so she'll have to miss her first meet this weekend. Sigh.
This is a bad picture of an airbag. I had never seen one before until the night of December 16, when some lady plowed into the right side of the van while I was minding my own business driving to get the girls at gym. Matt had walked in the door from Minot less than ten minutes before the accident. I'd like to think my two-day-old tires kept the whole thing from being worse. DOUBLE SIGH. It was bad enough though, and long story short: my trusty 2006 van was totaled. No one was hurt, but I am still working on not being so jumpy and skittish when I drive.
Whoo boy, was I glad I signed up to take part in my book group's Secret Santa this year because let me tell you how well-timed this box was that came from Deirdre the week of the accident. VERY WELL-TIMED.
With great sadness I report that while we made a million biscochitos, no traditional sugar cookies or chocolate-covered cherries were made in December. I managed to pull together some easy pine bark (thank you to Renee for that recipe I've had for years!) for teacher/bus driver gifts. Here's a tip: you can either get in an accident ten minutes after your husband returns from a TDY or you can make cookies and chocolate-covered cherries, but not both.
Another well-timed thing: attending The Nutcracker at the National Hispanic Cultural Center followed by dinner at El Pinto, a famed restaurant in Los Ranchos. We went to The Nutcracker because it had a live orchestra, because Maddie's French horn teacher was playing in the live orchestra, and because it was a different spin on the story—same music, but set in territorial New Mexico so there were some different costumes/dances/scenes than in the Russian Nutcracker. By far my favorite, ever—and I've seen a lot of Nutcrackers!
Followed up the day of Nutcracker joy by visiting my poor van at the salvage yard to collect our belongings. It doesn't look as bad here to me, but the damage was nearly $10,000 worth. Toyotas really do what they're supposed to do—Maddie was not sitting in the front seat when it happened, but if she had been, she wouldn't have been very hurt because the seating "box" was incredibly untouched. I'm just so glad that there wasn't a double impact to the front, because the van ended up on the other side of the road (but with no oncoming traffic to hit). Goodbye, dear van. I wasn't that sentimental about it until I got to the salvage yard. Sniff.
I got Christmas packages out on time but cards were another story this year. In the end, they were all sent though, and the third day of Christmas deserves mail too, right?
I found a secret deserted post office, FINALLY. Most every town has one, it's just a matter of finding it. Let me tell you, the USPS is alive and well at the not-secret post offices in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, where the lines were out the door every single time I tried to mail things in December. And once in January, too. (!?)
And a trip to Santa Fe, where Consumer King Matt found us the best deal on a new van. Same as our old van, just new. If we keep this one as long as the other one it will see Bridget off to her freshman year of college, GAH. After car buying, which is not the most efficient use of December 23 when not a single present has been wrapped, we went to dinner at Jinja, our unofficial date night restaurant. We were too tired to be on a date by this point, but whatever.
We went to check out the farolito/luminaria display (these terms are incorrectly used interchangeably, apparently) in Old Town on Christmas Eve, and we discovered that Santa made a quick stop to chat.
So that's a lot of pictures—and I didn't even get to the part of the month where Matt had knee surgery, Ellie got a giant gash on her leg and had to get stitches the same day as Matt's knee surgery, and my computer crashed the same day as Matt's knee surgery and Ellie's giant gash stitches. I'm sure I left out a whole bunch of stuff earlier in the month too, as well as the regular school/gym/daily life bit—it really did feel like a lifetime instead of a month this December. But December All At Once™ just wouldn't be as intense any other way, I guess.