Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Our Week - The One with Poker Night and the Great Christmas Tree Struggle of 2023

Last week was a busy one and we are oh-so-grateful to be on this Thanksgiving break right now!! 

Monday, November 13

Monday morning, I dropped the kids at school and then I headed straight to Walmart to get groceries for the next couple of weeks.  I had planned way ahead for Thanksgiving week and grabbed everything we needed to host, but I’m sure I’ll have to go back at some point to grab stuff that pops up between now and then.

After that, it was home to work on the blog all day, and I also had to work on various other tasks.  Amazon changed their online storage drive a few months ago, and the storage has been different, so I’ve been holding off on uploading all of our stuff because we considered changing services.  They must have realized nobody liked the new format because they started offering the old format again, but now I’m crazy behind on backing up all of our photos and videos.  Because of this, my laptop has now filled to the brim, and I was unable to remove pictures from my phone because of that.  So I finally started taking the time to upload photos to Amazon on Monday, too.

At 3, I grabbed the kids from school, and then we all headed home.  Olivia was still having her stomach issues on Monday, but thankfully, she was able to stay at school.  We just can’t figure out this stomachache thing… there are no other symptoms.  Thanks so all of you who have reached out to suggest various possible causes.  I am taking the time to look into all of them.

The rest of the afternoon was spent helping Jacob with the tri-board for his science fair project, helping Olivia study, and doing various tidying and prep for Tuesday + decorating a few more things for Christmas.

We made breakfast for dinner (eggs, grits, bacon, sausage, toast), and then after dinner, it was straight back to science fair tri-board work.  Once the kids got in the shower, I jumped on the stair stepper for a quick workout, and then we all settled in to watch The Amazing Race before the kids went to bed.


After bed, B and I started a new show on Amazon called Wilderness, and whoa… it’s good!!!!  It’s a thriller/suspense, so if that’s your kind of thing, then you will really enjoy this!

Tuesday, November 14

Tuesday, I dropped the kids at school and then I headed straight home to work all day.  Blog work this time of year is never-ending, and I could easily spend 60 hours a week on it if I wanted to.

Mid-morning, I stepped out long enough to visit with my therapist, and then I swung by Hobby Lobby to look at artificial Christmas trees to see if I could find anything comparable to the one at Home Depot and they had nothing.

After that, it was back home to work some more, and then I headed to pick up the kids from school shortly afterward.

Tuesday was a heavy day for me, personally.  Thankfully, our little family is all healthy (aside from me with my never-ending vertigo and Maui who was just diagnosed with stage one kidney disease), but the days leading up to Tuesday, I had received so many sad updates from friends and family, and it was just a really hard day.  One of my dear friends is grieving the loss of a pregnancy, and I have an aunt and an uncle who are both declining rapidly due to Parkinson’s/Dementia/Alzheimer's (and my heart has been with my aunt and uncle who are caring for them), I have a cousin who is struggling terribly with cancer and treatment, another cousin who is grieving the death of a family member, and I’m constantly thinking of Jacob’s teacher who is starting her cancer journey with stage four pancreatic cancer that has spread to her liver.  Not to mention all of the horrible things going on over on the other side of the world.  That has been on my mind a lot, too, as I’m sure it has for you. 

Tuesday, everything just hit me all at once, and it was just a hard day to be joyful knowing so many people we love are suffering right now.  I’m always the most grateful for our good health but seeing all of this suffering has made me even more grateful.  But also, so very sad.

After the kids got home, they did their homework, and we got Jacob’s science project all ready to take to school.  His project is officially DONE, and for that, I’m so grateful.  It has been a beast of a project, but I’ll have all of you know that he completely rocked it.  He never once complained about it, he did the work himself with little assistance from us, and he did a fantastic job.  Just look at that tri-board!  So neat and tidy!  I’m just so proud of him, and I’m happy that his teachers saw this, too, and that his grades reflect his hard work.  It was a long 3.5 months working on it.  Whew.

Jacob and I dropped Olivia off at dance at 5, and then he and I grabbed a few items from Publix, and then we headed home.  He did some well-deserved screentime while I worked out (mixed cardio and arms), and then I got in my PJs, grabbed a glass of wine, turned on some Christmas music, and got to cooking dinner.

We had beef and parm pasta with zucchini and garlic cheese bread Tuesday evening, and then after dinner, the kids got showered and ready for bed.  By the time they were done with that, it was time for them to get into bed, and after they were tucked in, Brian and I watched another episode of Wilderness before we called it a night. 

Wednesday, November 15

Wednesday, I dropped the kids at school and then I headed home to work all morning.  On the list was a bunch of blog work, some online Christmas shopping, some fundraiser planning for the Reindeer Run I’m chairing at the school, and shopping for the class auction baskets. 

Late in the morning, I had an appointment at the orthodontist for my eight-week checkup.  They changed out the wires, and then sent me on my way.  I’m always in and out in 10-20 minutes, and this appointment was no exception.  Easy peasy.

After that, it was back home to eat a quick lunch, knock out some more work, and then I headed to pick up the kids from school.  We got Olivia dropped off at dance, and then Jacob and I headed home.  He and I decorated the Christmas tree in his room together, and then he spent some time on his laptop watching Minecraft YouTube videos while I finished up a few things around the house and got dinner started.

When Brian and Olivia got home, we all sat down to eat dinner together – stir fry with chicken, rice, pineapple, broccoli, and peppers accompanied by Hawaiian rolls since the kids are currently in their Hawaiian Rolls Era. 

After dinner, I helped Oliva study for a social studies test, and then I headed upstairs to do a weights workout.  I tried to throw in some ab work for the first time in months since my vertigo started, and I still cannot do stuff like that.  Anything that requires me to recline or sit up from reclining sets me off, and traditional crunches are nothing but that, back-and-forth, and I was dizzy and nauseated within seconds of trying. 

After my workout, we finished an episode of The Amazing Race, and then after the kids went to bed, B and I watched another episode of Wilderness on Amazon. 

Thursday, November 16

Thursday morning, I dropped the kids off at school and then I headed home to work, do laundry, and buckle down on our New York City itinerary.  Then, I headed to the school to eat Thanksgiving lunch with Olivia at noon.  Brian met us there, and I totally forgot to take pictures until after he’d left.  :o(  I did get some cute pictures of these sweet girls, though!

After I left the school, I ran to the church office to pick up our pictures that we had done for the church directory, and then I ran a few errands before I had to be back in the car line.  I was pressed for time, so I flew through Walmart to grab a boatload of my beloved incandescent lights, to Marshall’s to return a couple of things, and finally, to Target to return something and grab a few things for our North Pole Breakfast this weekend.

I made it back in the car line just in time, and then I worked on a few things while I waited for them to get out.

After school, we went to music lessons, and I sat in with Jacob like I usually do.  He is just doing beautifully in there, and I’m so proud of him.  I have a feeling he is going to be a master piano player one day.  It amazes me every single week how quickly he picks everything up, and just how fast he is advancing.

After music lessons, we headed home for the rest of the evening.  The kids worked on homework, and I headed out for an early run so I could get it in before it got dark.  Ever since the time changed, I haven’t been able to do my outdoor walks and runs, and I’ve missed them.  Maui kept me company while I got ready for my run, and I snapped this picture her in our bedroom, and I just love her so much, y’all.  I never get tired of looking at her sweet little face.

Also, I’ve said this a million times, but – the sunlight streaming in our bedroom this time of year is one of my favorite things.

The weather was beautiful on Thursday, and all of the fall leaves are at peak here right now, so it was an energizing run. 

When I got back home, I immediately started the daily process of tidying the kitchen, putting away the dishes, and getting dinner done.  Thursday, I phoned it in and we had a frozen pizza along with some leftover steamed broccoli, and some fruit.  Weird combo, but I’m all about squeezing in a veggie and fruit when we can.

After dinner, I got showered and ready for bed, and then I did a Bible study while the kids got showered and ready for bed.  The message from my study that day, was as always, on point.  I don’t talk about my vertigo much on here anymore, but at this point, I’m very worried it may never go away, so while I’m in this season of waiting, I’m trying to make the most of it.  We can always choose to be joyful.

We all sat down and watched The Amazing Race after that, and then once the kids were in bed, B and I watched The Golden Bachelor.  I have to say that this show has been an unexpected delight, y’all.  It is so much better than the regular franchise!

Friday, November 17

Friday morning, I dropped the kids at school and then I headed straight home to work all day.  On the agenda was a bunch of blog work, some auction basket shopping, backing up photos, and various other little tasks.  When I got home, I peeked in the back seat, and this is what I saw – all of Olivia’s stuffies arranged in her seat.  She had taken the time to set them up before she’d gotten out of the car for school.  Love.

At 3, I grabbed the kids from school, and we were all officially on Thanksgiving break!!!!  When we got home, the kids played video games for a bit, and I got the tree in my office all decorated… finally!  Olivia also saw a big mushroom in our back yard, and she specifically asked me to take a picture of her with it like this.  Hahahaha.

Jacob came home from school with the news that he had placed third in the Engineering category for the science fair, and we are just so dang proud of him!  He worked so hard on this project, and I’m glad that the judges saw all of his hard work and creativity, too.

We had poker night Friday night with our usual group, and it was Khristina and Ian’s turn to host.  They’d made homemade chili and hot dogs and mac n cheese, and it was so delicious.  After we all ate, the adults played poker for a couple of hours, and the kiddos ran around outside, traded Pokemon cards, and hung out.  By the time we left our poker game to round them up, pure chaos was ensuing in the living room.  Hahahahah.  It was such a fun evening as it always is.

By the time we got home, it was past the kids’ bedtime, so they got into bed, and B and I watched another episode of Wilderness and then called it a night.

Saturday, November 18

Saturday, we had no place to be, so it was one of those cozy days at home.  I made homemade waffles for breakfast, and then we sat on the couch and watched College GameDay for a bit, and around 10 AM, I finally started the project I’d been dreading all week… removing the factory lights from our brand-new artificial Christmas tree.

If you read my blog post Friday then you know all about it, but in case you missed it, here’s a brief overview: we decided to get an artificial tree for our main tree for the first time ever this year, but I told Brian if we were going to go the artificial route, the tree had to be a nice, realistic one.  We found the most perfect tree I’ve ever seen, and it has over 6,000 branch tips (which is even more than the expensive Balsam Hill trees), so it is full and just beautiful.  It looks so real. 

Howeverrrr, the lights on the tree are LED bulbs and I hate LED bulbs.  They’re just too cold and sterile for me, y’all.  We left the tree up all week with the hope that I could make my peace with it, but I couldn’t, so we tried to find a tree that was just as beautiful that had incandescent bulbs or no bulbs at all, and there was NOTHING. 

Soooo, I made the very tough decision to remove the factory lights from the tree.  I knew it would be a big job, but I had no idea just how bad.  I thought for sure I could have them all off in about 3 hours, so I thought I could finish it while I watched College GameDay. 


Cumulatively, Brian and I ended up working on this project for TEN HOURS.  I had told him that I’d do it all and that he didn’t need to help because I was aware that I was crazy, and I wasn’t going to burden him with the tasks resulting from my craziness.  Lol.  But God bless him, he helped anyway, and I’m so glad he did, because if he hadn’t, I would probably still be working on it today.

This is what it looked like before... and yes, in pictures, it looks stunning, but also in pictures, the coldness of the LED bulbs isn't noticeable.

He and I worked on it for nearly two hours in the first stretch, and then we took a break to do other things.  I had to do some laundry and some other housecleaning, and then we had lunch.  And then he and I each took turns working on it here and there throughout the day.

Mid-afternoon, I got in a short mixed cardio workout and then I got a quick shower before the Georgia game started.  We ended up whooping Tennessee and we have now won 28 games in a row!!!!  We actually just tied Alabama’s record for the all-time streak of SEC games won in a row.  One more game to go and then it’s on to the SEC Championship game! 

For dinner, B grabbed Five Guys and brought it home, and then after that, we worked on that dang tree some more.  Olivia asked for hot chocolate for a treat, and again, she asked me to take her picture with it.  She is loving taking pictures these days! 

After some more work on the tree, we got the kids into bed and watched some more football before calling it a night.  Oh, and did I mention that when we went to bed Saturday, we still weren’t done removing the lights?!  Cringe.

Sunday, November 19

Sunday morning, I got up before everyone else and I got some cinnamon rolls in the oven, and then I sat down with that tree again to finish the job.  I was thinking I still had about another hour ahead of me, but thankfully, I managed to get the remaining lights off in just 15 minutes and we were DONE.

After breakfast, Brian removed the power box and the electrical cords, and he got the power source in the tree trunk all secured since we won’t be using it.  Then, the rest of the morning was spent watching my Sunday morning sermon and doing yoga before getting ready for the day. 

We headed to my MIL and step-FIL’s for lunch after that, and we all ended up sitting around the table for hours chatting and catching up, and then we headed home.  I squeezed in a little bit of work when we got home, and then we headed to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner.  My Momma made one of our favorite meals – cheesy chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots, and then we had a blueberry lemon cobbler.  It was all SO delicious. 

As always, a perfect way to end the weekend!

Once we left there, we headed home, and since the kids didn't have school Monday and B was off of work, we ended up watching an episode of Lego Masters and finishing our episode of The Amazing Race while I put the new incandescent lights on the tree.

It took 10 hours to take off the lights and nearly 2 hours to put the new ones one, but y'all – WORTH IT. 

Happy Tuesday, y’all!


  1. Yay to Jacob for all his hard work paying off; his display board looks fantastic. I don't miss those science fair days though. We used to participate in a homeschool science and geography fair each year and working with all 3 boys to get their displays done always felt like so much work.

    Have you tried chair crunches? I bet you could do that abdominal workout since you aren't moving your head.

    1. I haven't tried chair crunches but that is a great idea! Thank you!

  2. Congrats to Jacob and good job getting the tree how you wanted. I'm sorry to hear about all the sickness in your family!

  3. Oh MANNN! I could not do that light project... I am so bad with tedious stuff like that. But, at least now that it is done, you can enjoy the exact tree with the exact lights that you want for many years to come! Plus, we have had 2 prelit trees go out on us. I'd say they last 5 years tops, or have for us. So it'll prob save you money down the road. My daughter was having some stomach issues too and the doctor ordered her Pepcid (prescription strength!) for 2 weeks and it helped a lot. She had gotten the stomach bug and her stomach was still weird for her a few weeks after, so I called the doctor at that point. I also think some of it was nerves, because she started dance team AND high school at that same time. It took a good 2 months before she was 100% better and even after the Pepcid, she was still feeling a little wonky. She'd get stomach aches and sometimes feel nauseous. Never threw up. It was to the point where she was afraid to eat before dance practice in fear she'd get a bad tummy ache. It is so hard to help with something like that and I had to call the DR several times. I hope her tummy feels better soon!



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