Sometimes weekends are so eventful that one is glad to see Monday arrive. Even a Monday which signals the end of a vacation. Here are some of this past weekend's "highlights":
First, many of the younger children went into a huge jag of imaginary play. Here you see TM, G., L., H., and K. They are sitting in their car (TM is driving) and are ready to leave on their trip to Arizona to visit their grandparents.
Here is a shot of the back of their car loaded with their supplies. There was a brief moment of panic on G.'s part when she realized she hadn't packed her panda, but her brothers and sisters waited for while she ran back upstairs to get it.
Certainly the most eventful portion of the weekend was our surprise trip to Animal 911 with Gretel. On Saturday morning, J. was taking out some garbage and Gretel had gone out with him, where she proceeded to race around the yard like a crazy dog. So far, all perfectly normal. But while J.'s back was turned, she somehow ran into, skidded into, tripped into, something and tore the skin off of her left side. We have no idea how she did it, only that one moment she was happily running and the next she was heading to J. and whimpering horribly. He looked down to discover a huge flap of skin hanging off her. It was one of those injuries where you just grab your coat, there is no wondering if you should go to the doctor, you just go.
Of course, Animal 911 was very busy that day, so Gretel didn't get home until 11:45 that evening. At least they had her on strong pain medication while she waited for the vets to have a big enough window to stitch her up. She was a very pathetic puppy when she came in the door that night. After her antibiotic, two different pain meds, and a full night's sleep, she was somewhat back to her bouncy self. And today, if you didn't see her side, you wouldn't know anything was wrong with her.
Want to see the 12+ stitches holding her together? The children have now nicknamed her "Frankendog".
She also came home with a cone. You'll notice that she is not wearing it. It completely makes her freak out and we were worried that she'll pop all her stitches trying to get out of it. I don't relish the idea of paying for them all to be put in again. So, she doesn't wear her cone and so far she has been pretty good about leaving her wound alone. If she starts bothering it, we'll try putting her in a t-shirt. That should be amusing. Not.
But when you have a cone designed to fit a large lab puppy and the puppy isn't using it, you find other ways of entertaining yourselves with it. Such as wearing it, if you happen to be a goofy 6 year old.
I missed this particular event, but I'm informed that not only does it look silly, the cone acts as a megaphone and just makes the goofy 6 year old even louder than he normally is. And to think there was a time where I wasn't sure he would ever make noise.
Lastly, we celebrated Epiphany last night. I have been really enjoying everyone's comments about how you celebrate it. I was happy with what we did, but I think there will be some fine tuning in the future. We really like the Three Kings cake that I made. I used a recipe from the King Arthur Flour site, and it is very close to the cinnamon roll dough that I use on Christmas. The only difference is that instead of gobs of butter and cinnamon in the center, it is a little butter and cinnamon and chopped dried fruit. Here is what it looked like:
On the top I pressed large pieces of dried fruit. I used starfruit, pineapple, and strawberries. In the center I used a mixture of chopped raisins, mango, pineapple, and strawberries. The starfruit, pineapple, and mango was my way of adding a Southeast Asian flair to a very European tradition. Pretty much everyone loved it and I will probably make it again this year.
The thing I didn't do, which I will probably do next year is hide something inside. I've been inspired by some of the suggestions in the comments, so will probably use some of those. I did briefly consider putting in one of our ceramic Chinese pee-pee boys, but thought better of it. (Remind me to tell you about the pee-pee boys sometime.) After dinner we went through the entire house, basement to the 3rd floor and blessed each room. In some we talked a bit about how we could ask to use the room to glorify God, and then J. said a prayer. We even said a blessing for our resident raccoons I'm really glad we did it and we will definitely add this to our list of family traditions. It was good to turn the whole house over to God in a visible way. In full disclosure, I am reminded that some traditions take a while to get rolling in a family. We had our share of, "Are we doing this in every room?" and "Do we all have to go?" and "Why are we doing this?" type comments. I know there will be a lot less of them next year, and by the third year we will be told "how we always do it".
One thing I will change is that I think we will do the house blessing in between dinner and dessert. I felt we needed to something to close the evening after we had finished with the house instead of just saying, "OK, now we're done" and sending people to get ready for bed. It's a work in progress.
Lastly, I just have to say that we are all now huge fans of oxtails. This is what I fixed for dinner last night because I had quite a few in the freezer from having bought sides of beef. There they sat because I didn't quite know what to do with them and wondered if we would even like them. Well, I finally decided to take the plunge and found a recipe called, Coda alla Vaccinara (or Roman braised oxtails, butcher-style). Well, even TM, who, when he saw them thawing on the counter was convinced that he was NOT going to like it, discovered that he loved them. We all did. They were very, very good and left us all wishing that steers came with more than one tail. I guess I'll have to look for more in the grocery store. If you can find oxtails, I really recommend you try them.
All of which brings us back to Monday and normal (or at least as normal as we get) life. Well, normal if you exclude the fact that my Christmas decorations are still all up and I have no idea what-so-ever when I'm going to get a chance to take them down.