Monday, December 28, 2020

Our Week - The One with Quarantine, Week 41 (A Socially Distant Christmas)

It’s been a lovely week of festive things, and while it wasn’t ideal, we’re so grateful for another Christmas together. 

Monday, December 21 (Day 283 of Quarantine)

Monday, Brian was off, so we all slept in and treated the day as any other weekend day.  We had a lazy start to our morning, watching cartoons and consulting with my planner, and then B picked up Panera for lunch and brought it back home.

After lunch, we all ventured out for a walk around the neighborhood, and of course, ended up at the playground as we always do these days.  Our neighborhood playground has been the real MVP of 2020… that and Netflix and curbside pickup, of course. 

B and his dad have a friendly betting game on bowl games each year, and he and his dad did their bowl picks over the phone while the kids played, and I did laps around the playground and listened to the new Taylor Swift album that dropped last week. 

The afternoon was spent working on a few projects and prepping some things for Christmas, and then we had leftovers from Sunday for dinner.  After dinner, I made hot chocolate with marshmallows and peppermints for the kids, and we all piled in the car with Christmas light scavenger hunt checklists and set out to look at Christmas lights. 

First up, was a neighborhood in a town nearby… it’s a bit of a drive, but the spectacular show that one of the houses puts on is well worth the drive.  They have their own radio frequency that plays music, and all of the lights on their house are set to dance to the music.  They played Let it Go again this year along with some other Christmas favorites, and this year they had also added Into the Unknown from Frozen 2 and The Greatest Show from The Greatest Showman.  We sat there and watched for nearly an hour, and none of us wanted to leave!

On the way back home, we drove through the north half of our massive neighborhood to see even more lights, and then we headed home.  We had hoped to see the Star of Bethlehem (Jupiter and Saturn aligning) since it was the first time the two would be this close in proximity in 800 years.  However, we were about an hour too late, as they were only visible just after dusk.  Boooo.

We sent the kiddos to bed, and then B and I watched The Bachelorette before calling it a night ourselves.

Tuesday, December 22 (Day 284 of Quarantine)

Tuesday was Brian’s last day of work for the whole year, so he was up early to head down to his office, and I was up early to get to Publix before it got too crowded.  My goal is to not have to set foot in another store until after the new year (except maybe for milk or other things that have a short shelf life), so I was shopping for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day meals + all of our Christmas baking + everyday groceries for two whole weeks.  Whew.  Thankfully, I arrived before 9 and beat the crowds, and then the rest of the morning was spent organizing and putting everything away and cleaning out the fridge and pantry.

Just before lunch, I sat down with my planner, my holiday planning list, and my monthly goals sheet, and I planned out the rest of the year – what I had to bake and when, what I had to cook and when, what I need to pull out of the freezer and when, meal plans for each day, and other details for Christmas and New Year’s – and I was feeling GREAT afterward.  It’s amazing what a little bit of organization can do for a cluttered mind.

We had a light lunch, and then the kids and I went outside to play frisbee for a while afterward.  The kids spent the afternoon playing and I read for a while and then organized a couple of things in my office, and then we made breakfast for dinner.

After dinner, we went outside to see Saturn and Jupiter aligned.  The best night to see it was the night we had missed, but they were still very close in proximity when we saw them.  And in case you have no clue what I’m talking about, this planetary conjunction (or a similar one) is believed to be the Star of Bethlehem that so many saw all those years ago after the birth of Jesus.  I think it’s really neat that we got to experience something that nobody had seen in 800 years… it was another little gift from God in 2020, and hopefully a sign that things are going to start looking up soon. 

After doing a bit of star and planet gazing, we all piled in the car again for another evening of Christmas lights looking.  My favorite place of the whole night was our Kia dealership (where I purchased my Telluride) as they have the entire massive building covered in lights, complete with a big ol’ bow on top.  After that, we drove to our usual neighborhoods and also visited a couple of new ones, and it was another festive evening.

The kids got to bed shortly after we arrived back at home, and then B and I spent the rest of the evening reading (me) and then sipping on Winter White Cosmos and watching the finale of The Bachelorette… an extremely girly evening for Brian, indeed.  Lol.

Wednesday, December 23 (Day 285 of Quarantine)

Wednesday morning was another lazy one, and the kids and I spent the morning making our very first roll-out dough for sugar cookies.  I’ve made many a homemade cookie in my day, but never anything with roll-out dough.  The recipe we made required the dough to be refrigerated for two hours before rolling out, so I stuck it in there, got everything cleaned up, and then decided to head out for a run. 

I wasn’t feeling it at all and I basically had to peel myself out of the chair to get into my athletic clothes, but I ended up having my best run since I started running again earlier this year!!  I typically have to take a couple of very short 10-20 second walking breaks after the first mile, but that day I ran two full miles without stopping to walk!  I ended up running just over three miles in 37 minutes which is a big improvement from my runs earlier this year.  I’m sure I could improve my overall time much faster if I ran more, but I only run a couple of times a month… I mean, I’m not trying to train for a marathon or anything.  There’s no way my SI joints would allow that.  Haha.

For lunch, we ate some of the delicious oranges that my mother-in-law had delivered to our house, and then we pulled the dough out of the fridge and got to work on our cookies.  Y’all.  Roll out dough is a SUCH a pain.  How on earth do you people make these every single year?!  Haha.  We followed all directions EXACTLY, used floured non-stick parchment paper underneath the dough, with floured plastic wrap on top just like everything on the internet said to do, and that dang dough stuck to literally everything.  There was a time where I thought I was just going to have to give up and bake balled up cookie dough instead. 

We ended up flouring the stew out of everything – like, SO. MUCH. FLOUR. – and we finally got the cookie cutters to work without tearing the dough.  Once we found our groove, it was (kind of) smooth sailing, but my goodness, it took forever. 

The cookies ended up turning out beautifully, and oh so yummy, and the kids had a blast decorating them, so I guess all’s well that ends well.  Not sure I’ll ever be doing that again, though.  Haha.

The rest of the day was spent hanging out at home – where else? – taking some ugly Christmas sweater pictures, and then we popped a freezer pizza in the oven for dinner and cracked open some cold beers.  ‘Tis the season, right?  We ended the evening with The Santa Clause 3, and then B and I watched The Holiday… another one of my all-time favorites.  They just don’t make movies like that anymore.

Thursday, December 24 (Day 286 of Quarantine)

Thursday morning, we woke up to the yuckiest, rainiest, dreariest day and the temp plummeted throughout the day.  Every single year of my life, I’ve spent Christmas Eve with my family at my parents’ house, and this year, we had already decided it wouldn’t be a good idea since my mom and littlest brother are still working outside the home.  We still wanted to get together, though, so we decided to do something similar to Thanksgiving, and all meet outside on our back porch.  Well, the forecast was just awful for the whole day, so we were on pins and needles all day trying to figure out if we were going to be able to make it work.

We spent most of the day making dessert and prepping the porch, and I squeezed in some reading time.  Knowing Christmas Eve was going to be totally different had me feeling pretty blue all day and watching Christmas Eve mass virtually at 2 PM didn’t help.  I was so grateful to be able to watch from home, but so, so sad to not be able to be there in person for the first time ever.  I miss it so much.  It usually kicks off my very favorite few hours of the entire year. 

My momma, daddy, littlest brother, and uncle were all scheduled to come over around 5, and at 4:30 it was still drizzling – and FREEZING – so it was really hard to get excited.  Somehow, though, the rain magically cleared up just a few minutes before they arrived, and we were treated to the prettiest sunset.  The temp, however, was already down to 37 degrees by that point, so we all had to bundle up to hang out on the porch.

Instead of doing our traditional Christmas dinner of ham, dressing and all the fixings, my momma made White Chicken Chili which was perfect for the cold night, and I whipped up some winter white cosmos and pulled out some wine to keep us all warm.  We all ate dinner out on the porch in the freezing cold and wind, and after we were done, we decided to go inside to open presents because it was just too damp and cold to do it outside.

Everyone kept their masks on the whole time we were inside, and we all hung out in different areas so nobody got too close, and it worked out nicely.  My mom had brought the kids’ gifts from Mama Cass (my grandmother) and we were able to Facetime her while they opened them.  The fact that she was all alone on Christmas Eve just broke my heart, though, y’all.

I was incredibly grateful to be able to see everyone and spend time with them, but it just didn’t remotely feel like Christmas Eve.  Christmas Eve is supposed to be cozy and slow, not freezing and rushed.  We did the best we could, though, and I’m just praying so hard that for Christmas 2021 we will be able to be back to our usual traditions of Christmas Eve mass in the actual church building and dinner inside my parents’ house with no masks!!!!  2020 has about wrecked me, y’all.

After everyone left, the kids left out some food for the reindeer that my mom had given them, we snapped a quick family picture, and then they said goodbye to Cheek, our elf, and picked out their very best sugar cookies for Santa along with some milk.  We got them off to bed, and then I prepped the overnight breakfast casserole and stuck it in the fridge, while B and I watched Home Alone. 

During the movie, B saw on the radar that SNOW was coming through our area (on Christmas Eve!!!!), so we kept popping outside to see.  We were able to see some flurries, but they were teeny tiny… definitely not big enough to wake the kids, which I was prepared to do if it started coming down harder.

At the end of the movie, Santa Clause had to come, so B and I were off to bed.  We made it in the bed just after midnight, so it wasn’t too terribly late this year!

Friday, December 25 (Day 287 of Quarantine)

Before the kids had gone to bed on Christmas Eve, we told them not to come in our room to wake us up until at least 7 AM (we are not morning people in this household, y’all – LOL), and I’ll be danged if they didn’t both come FLYING into our bedroom right at 7 on the dot.  Hahahaha. 

B and I got up (begrugingly), got downstairs to turn on all of the Christmas lights and start a fire, and then we unleashed the kids.  They were both ecstatic to see what Santa brought, and they both went from item to item to take everything in.  Once they had soaked up the Santa goodness for a bit, we let them open their gifts from us.  One of the main gifts we gave them were Garmin Fitness trackers (watches), and the looks on their faces when they opened them were just priceless, y’all.  Priceless.  They’ve both been asking for Apple Watches (in their dreams – LOL) for months, so they were more than thrilled to have the Garmin watches.

After all of the kids’ gifts were open, I got up and started preparing brunch.  We kept it simple this year with a sausage, egg, and cheese casserole, cinnamon rolls, and fresh fruit… and B and I decided to do mimosas this year, too, just to make it a little more special.

After brunch was eaten and cleaned up, B and I opened our gifts from each other, and he really outdid himself this year… he got me so many fun and cozy things, including the champagne glasses that I’ve been wanting from Crate and Barrel forever.  They are just stunning in person and I can’t wait to use them to ring in 2021 and say goodbye to this perfectly insane year.

Once the gifts were open, the kids settled in to play with some of their new toys, and I snuggled up on the couch with Maui for my Christmas nap.  I never ever take naps, but I almost always treat myself to one on Christmas Day.  We also don't worry about the Christmas mess on Christmas Day either... that always waits until a day or two later.  :o)

After naptime was over, it was time to get ready to go visit my Mama Cass.  Our whole family (like 30+ of us) always gets together on Christmas night at either my aunt and uncle’s house or my house to eat dinner and hang all night, but obviously that wasn’t happening this year.  Instead, all of us who live here in town (there are many who live elsewhere – Denver, LA, Austin, Atlanta, etc.) went over to Mama Cass’s house to sit out in the yard again. 

Naturally, the day that we needed to do this, the HIGH for the day was 37 degrees.  Lol.  Y’all.  Christmas Day is almost always in the 50’s or 60’s – sometimes even warmer than that – so it was incredibly 2020 for it to be so cold.  Thankfully, it was sunny, so we at least had that going for us.

We all bundled up and visited there for about an hour, and my mom and all of her brothers and sisters (who were present) gave my Mama Cass her gift.  My mom and uncle had written a song to sing to her about the pandemic because it goes with her gift – her own Amazon Prime membership and a few other things – and the song was quite hilarious. 

At 3:30ish, everyone was tired of the cold (except for the kids who had been running around like crazy people to get in their steps for their new watches – LOL), so we blew air kisses and parted ways, and our family of four headed back home.  I started Christmas dinner when we got back home, and we sat down to eat around 6.  I’ve never had to make an entire Christmas dinner before since we’re usually with extended family, so we had bought a Honey Baked ham to make my life easier (plus it’s our favorite thing so it’s always a special treat).  In addition to the ham, I made homemade macaroni and cheese, pineapple casserole, green beans, and rosemary cheese croissants, and B and I drank some of our good wine from the winery that we love so much in north Georgia. 

We watched Home Alone 2 while I cooked and we ate, and then after dinner was cleaned up, we watched Home Alone 3 for the first time ever.  I’ve always avoided it since it has none of the original cast, and it was pretty much as dumb as I thought it would be.  Lol.  The kids seemed to like it, though, so that’s all that matters.

Olivia and her favorite stuffed animal, Sheepie, wore their new matching nightgowns and she was so excited she wanted to pose for a picture.  :o)

After the movie, the kids went to bed, and B and I caught up on Saturday Night Live and then watched another episode of The Wilds.  Definitely a different Christmas Day than usual, but also very enjoyable.

Saturday, December 26 (Day 288 of Quarantine)

Saturday morning started like all Saturday mornings, and I made homemade waffles.  The rest of the morning was spent cleaning up some of the horrendous Christmas mess, starting laundry, and working out, and by the time I was done with my work out, it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I helped Olivia make her clay jewelry while B helped Jacob put together some kind of STEM car that my brother and sister-in-law gave him.  The jewelry kit was a little intimidating at first as you actually mold and form and bake your own clay beads, but Olivia and I got the hang of it quickly, and the first necklace and bracelet set that we made actually turned out really great. 

I spent some time in my office Saturday afternoon and then Saturday evening B picked up takeout from our favorite little pub down the street from our church.  Jacob had gotten the entire set of Night at the Museum on Blu-ray, so we watched the third one after dinner since that was the only one we hadn’t seen.

After the kiddos went to bed, B and I watched A Million Little Things that we’d missed from the previous week followed by another episode of The Wilds.  It is really good, y’all.

Sunday, December 27 (Day 289 of Quarantine)

Sunday morning, we watched church, and then I decided it was high time to get my butt in gear to get the house cleaned up.  I like to have all of the Christmas decorations down and put away before New Year’s Eve, and I also like to have the entire house clean, tidy, and have all of the laundry done by New Year’s Eve, too, so we can start the new year with the cleanest slate possible. 

Sunday, I took down the tree in our bedroom along with the tree in my office (sad face), and I got all of those items put away.  I also washed all of the sheets and we finished tidying most everything up from Christmas Day.  There was still a toy explosion in much of the house, and it was driving me up the wall, so it was time to get it all put away.

Sunday afternoon, we played in the back yard with the kids.  Brian and Jacob played frisbee (Jacob is obsessed all of a sudden for some reason) and Olivia and I ran around chasing each other and playing “tickle monster” upon her request.  Jacob also played with his new Nerf gun some, and he and B also played with their new chipping net I got B for Christmas. 

After that, I spent some time in my office wrapping up a few things for the week ahead, and then we got takeout from one of our local pizza places that we hadn’t had in a while.  after dinner, we watched the new movie Soul on Disney+ (SO GOOD) and then B and I watched some more of The Wilds.

And as if this post wasn’t long enough already, here are a few current things…

Currently Reading


This month, I decided to focus on one book… Christmas Shopaholic.  I bought it last year, barely picked it up during the Christmas season because we were just too busy, and then when I tried to read it in January I just wasn’t in the mood as Christmas had already passed.  I love the whole Shopaholic series and this one didn’t disappoint!  I’m not quite finished with it, but I anticipate I’ll be done with it by the end of the month.


Currently Watching


We wrapped up The Bachelorette this month, and we worked our way through the network shows that hadn’t gone on winter hiatus – Shark Tank, Supermarket Sweep, A Million Little Things, and Saturday Night Live.   


We finished The Undoing (SO good), and Magic for Humans, and we also finished Emily in Paris, season one.  We also finished The Mandalorian as well as the entire miniseries The Flight Attendant.  We just started the new show The Wilds on Amazon Prime and I am LOVING it.


And of course, Christmas stuff has been on repeat over here – Disney Holiday Singalong, the Christmas Tree Lighting in Rockefeller Center, Christmas Chronicals 1 & 2, Jingle Jangle, The Santa Clause movies, Home Alone 1, 2, and 3, The Holiday, and so many more.


Oh, and also?  College football, of course!  Bowl games are underway!


Currently Listening To


Christmas music all month long.  I’m so sad it’s over, but I’m SO grateful for the new year on the horizon!  I stopped listening to Christmas music the day after Christmas, and I’ve been listening to Taylor’s new album on repeat ever since!

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  1. I'm so glad that you were still able to see your family on Christmas! Yesterday I started tearing down all the decorations. I was already kinda bumming out (and taking down the decorations usually makes me a bit sad) so I decided to just rip the band aid off. ;)

    1. I started taking mine down yesterday, too. I'm usually pretty sad about it, but this year I'm just so ready for 2020 that it felt great to have the rooms cleaned up! We'll leave the big tree up for a couple more days, though.

  2. i'm so glad that you guys had a great christmas and were still able to see family!! I am waiting on until jan 1 to take the tree down, I think Sophia is attached to it Lol! xo, biana BlovedBoston

  3. It looks like you guys had a wonderful Christmas! We live about an hour north of Atlanta and had a little snow on Christmas Eve. It was so sweet and much needed for a little magic. That mac-n-cheese looks amazing! I'd love the recipe! Happy Monday!!

    1. Oh, that's amazing!! We were hoping for much more snow, but it just wasn't in the cards... it's so rare for it to happen here. And I'll have to share that mac n cheese recipe on the blog sometime. It's SO delicious.

  4. It sounds like you had a nice holiday. I think if I was you I would have left up my decorations till like February. lol.

  5. So glad you were able to visit with family! And I agree, share your mac & cheese recipe!!

  6. I am so glad you made the most of it and got to see most of your family! You Christmas dinner looks so yummy. My friends and I were having the debate about presents from santa versus parents and whether they were wrapped. My santa didn't wrap either, I think it is more fun that way!

  7. What a great Christmas! I am so glad that you got to see family and still have a semi-normal Christmas. I so want to get my girls the fitness watches too, but next year!

  8. We had cloudy/rainy skies all week so we didn't get to see the alignment either. Roll out cookies are such a pain! I was so relieved when no one wanted to make any this year. LOL. Looks like you had a good Christmas; we had POURING rain the whole day, BUT it was unusually warm for us (in the 50's!) so I'll take it.

    1. Lol. Glad to hear I'm not the only one!! And wow, that is warm for y'all I bet!

  9. Looks like you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  10. Yum! Winter White cosmos! The cookies looked so cute and Christmas morning looked so fun. Yay for making the most of it.

  11. It's nice you were able to see your family, even if it was cold and you had to distance! looks like a really fun Christmas week! We always do roll out cookies for Christmas - I'm not aware of any other kind, but I'm intrigued now!

    Hope that you are enjoying this relaxing time between Christmas and new year :)

    Away From Blue

  12. So glad that you guys were able to come up with something for Christmas Eve. And how creative are your mom and her siblings with your Mama Cass's present?! That song is too good! I love that you guys took advantage of the time and went and saw all the lights to kick off the week. And I can see why the dealership is one of your favorites - it's so pretty! I love the idea of starting with a clean state in January, but I am pretty sure my decorations are going to stick around for awhile longer...I am not ready to say good bye!


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