It is official. Holiday season is upon us. I'm a slight scrooge, so I do not acknowledge the upcoming holidays until the Thanksgiving meal has started digesting. (To me, Christmas music anytime before the week of Christmas is just annoying.) This year I'm slightly more festive than last. Last Thanksgiving, J and I had Chinese food and went to the beach. I was unemployed and less than thrilled about my current city. This year, things have changed: I'm employed. :) We were invited to a traditional dinner hosted by my co-worker's mom. (We do crafts together once a week.) I love Chinese food and I had a great Thanksgiving with J last year, but I love Thanksgiving food even more. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so it was nice to spend it in a more traditional way this year. It was also nice to be around a family, even if it wasn't mine.
The food was amazing, and I wouldn't expect any less from my crafting guru. She makes awesome brownies, but even better stuffing and mashed potatoes. The turkey was good and the gravy was made from scratch. There were croissants and green beans and baked ziti. (Ziti is their family tradition, but I held off in order to maximize the space in my stomach for stuffing and potatoes. Starch, starch, carbs- I love starches and carbs!!!) Dessert was pumpkin pie and brownies. J and I were happy campers.
After dinner, J and I kept our tradition by going to the beach. We looked for shells and enjoyed the cooler weather. Once we got home, we did a big clean up and then set about decorating. J and I had purchased some ornaments from Target for a couple of bucks (literally, these things were twenty five cents) last year, so up they went. Instead of a tree, we did a garland. The cats and Ruby would have had too much fun with a tree and since we will be home for the holidays, we didn't want to bother. The theme this year was snowflakes, navy, and silver. J and I don't agree on much, but we agree that we hate red and green. Getting the garland up was actually pretty tricky. We admired our handiwork with beer and hard lemonade.
Also keeping us busy is our adorable four legged baby. (That conjures up a funny image.) Ruby is everything we could have hoped for and more. We are simply mad about her and I understand now why people get so obsessed with their dogs. She's my Best Thing Ever. She knows to be calm when I'm upset/sad about something. She knows the sound of my car and when I come home later than J, she is anxious to greet me at the door. She's happy to see me in the morning- and in the middle of the afternoon when I've been home for hours. Ruby's smart... and a little stubborn. We're still diligently working on potty training (the dog attack and broken leg were huge set backs for us). She can be a little sneaky sometimes and she likes to eat fuzz. But she's great at her tricks and commands: sit, stay, wait, come, paw, high five, spin, twirl, drop it, leave it, and lie down. The only one in her repertoire that she is really missing is: "POTTY. Now, please?" She just got fixed last week. She was miserable the first day. She couldn't sit, so she'd just lean on me. And she was drugged, so her puppy eyes were especially sad. But the next morning she was already full of her signature joie de vivire. She's my bounce-back kid. I love her tenacious, precocious, sweet mannerisms. She gets car sick, just like me. And although she's not very vocal, she's got a fierce little growl when playing tug and she makes the funniest whimpers and grunts in protest of having to ride in the car.
Ruby's been spoiled with the company of a friend for the last week. We're puppy sitting for a friend's dog. It's a toy poodle that J and I have sat for before. This dog is such a sweetie. She's so well mannered and loving. The only problem is that she's a couple of years old, so she can find Ruby to be annoying. It is sort of like sisters, except one is a "too-cool" teenager and the other is a sticky-fingered two year old. They still play nicely, and once in awhile J and I can get them to both calm down and rest on the couch at the same time. We will all be sad when her owner comes to pick her up. (It has helped with the potty training a bit. J and I are consistent with the older dog- and it's a good model for Ruby, even though there still have been accidents...)
Work has been surprisingly difficult. I thought it would calm down. Even though the pace is not as frantic, the work seems to multiply and I find every minute of every day occupied with helping students, helping co-workers, answering e-mails, fixing the copier, unjamming the printer, getting more paper for the copier or the printer, etc etc. I have a hard time just making it to the bathroom. And the scary thing is: there are now four of us in the office who are doing this ALL DAY LONG. I'm looking forward to December because after the second week the semester ends. So, aside from being a puppy parent and working hard, I've also been working towards the holidays. Just because I'm a scrooge doesn't mean I hate Christmas. My favorite part of the holiday is giving gifts. I have a "token of appreciation" problem. I like to give people stuff. Mostly small stuff. Sometimes hand-made stuff. But I'm a stuff-giver. So Christmas is a great time for a stuff-giver. And even though the holidays don't start for me until after Thanksgiving, I still anticipate gift giving long before hand. When purchasing gifts, I start in September. This year I had a goal of making 50% of my gifts, so I started in July. I upped the goal to making 90% of my gifts. I will only buy things for J, since he does not want beaded jewelry or dyed silk scarves. :) I'm still making him little things though. It is a challenge to think of what people could possibly appreciate- and I have a feeling my brother(s) would rather have something spiffy, like an xBox Kinect- but I'm on a budget, people- and a mission to fight corporate America. Even if I am one person. So I've been a good little elf- toiling away at my kitchen table/workbench, trying to beat the clock.
And there is a homecoming to prepare for. My dog is basically naked (if you want a dog that doesn't shed, get an Italian Greyhound). But she's a wimp when it comes to anything below fifty degrees. She already has a sweater (its a black and white striped number with a skull and crossbones) and she actually likes wearing it. I know, I know. I sound like one of those crazy ladies with the monkey for a pet, "He likes dressing up. Don't you? See, he's chewing my face with his teeth, that means he likes it." But when I say, "Sweater?" She runs immediately to me and practically barrels her head in the neck hole. She also has a hard time parting with it. I don't blame her- it's nice to be warm, and to be warm and stylish. But a wimpy sweater that only covers her chest and back isn't going to cut it in a Wisconsin winter. So we ordered her fleece, hand-made dog jammies (from Etsy). They have little monsters on them. Because she's my monster- nothing too girly for my baby girl. (If my dog was named Lola, she'd be decked in pink, but Ruby's signature color is red, and she's too rough and tumble for tutus.) ;) She also has long skinny legs, so we got her booties. And a hat for her thin ears. She's going to be more layered than me! I'll have to get a picture of her in full Wisconsin weather regalia. (The hat she hates- so that might not last. But I'd rather have a warm dog than a frozen one.)
Whew- this post was far longer than I intended. I'm just so excited about going home. And for my family to meet the apple of my eye. I'm looking forward to family, friends, and food. (Speaking of food, J and I went back twice to Rancho Grande- their burritos are the best I've had down here. We also tried Taco Rico- service was super fast but food was so-so. The price for the portion is great, but I'd rather have Rancho Grande.) I don't know if I'll carve out the time to post before home, but if I don't:
HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES!! Stay warm, my Sconnies, and travel safe.