Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas day...

The most anticipated morning of the whole year arrived and it was awesome. We convinced Hallie and Hunter to play with the things in their stockings until Bennett woke up on his own. Best decision we made - it made for a fairly happy and tolerable baby throughout the day! We had a pretty simple Christmas this year. Our kids are young enough that they don't require a whole lot to make them happy and we took advantage of that. They each asked santa for some legos and that was it. We happily obliged! 20121225-DSC_7227 This car was purchased as a gift for Hunter when we lived in Milwaukee. We made the move before Christmas and this sucker didn't fit in my suitcase. We were reunited with it almost a year later and of course by that time Hunter was a little too old for it. Luckily Bennett is the perfect age for it now and has no idea he's getting hand me downs for Christmas! Building this thing on Christmas eve took far too long and we paid for it the next morning!! Steve and I also decided to simplify this year - strictly homemade gifts. It was the first year we had tried this route and we both agreed this was something we wanted to do moving forward. It took a lot more time and energy and thoughtfulness but it was totally worth it. (I'll go into more details another time)

It always seems like the morning rushes by and before long all you're left with is a living room that looks like this:

We quickly rushed off to Steve's sister's house to enjoy a breakfast smorgasbord. Delicious. I cannot get enough of the carmel-like syrup that smothered my waffles. We had a few moments to ourself and our toys in the afternoon before we went to Steve's parents house for an early dinner with extended family.

By the time we arrived back home we were all tired. It was an amazingly exhausting day and we'd do it all over again if we could. I went to bed a happy and grateful mama that night.

The one thing that did cross my mind as I drifted off to dreamland...only 364 days left until next year. I hope that's enough time for all the homemade gifts I have in store!!

Christmas eve...

Our neighborhood has a tradition of lining the streets with luminaries on Christmas eve. There are a few houses that choose not to participate, but 95% of the homes do and it is beautiful. It's a seemingly simple task and it has a huge impact. Thanks to whoever started this 27 years ago.

Steve enlisted Hallie and Hunter to help him with the paper bags. We debated what we wanted our Christmas eve to entail. We have family close and they were having dinner and a program. And as wonderful as it always is, we wanted something a little different. We wanted our family traditions. The traditions we started as a small family living too far from family on Christmas years ago. But we have family and it seemed silly not to join them. So we compromised. Dinner with family, program on our own and it was just what we were looking for. Our kids are still young so some of my grand ideas still haven't come to fruition, but we're working on them! We had some friends that recently moved to the area and didn't have any family so we invited them to join our small program. We started with the nativity. We all participated and dressed the part (thanks to my mom for our killer nativity costumes!). We read the nativity and sang songs. We got the kids in the car and drove the neighborhood to see the lumanaries and lights - of course stopping to see "that" house as I mentioned here. When we got back to the house, we participated in Peruvian traditions as we do each year. Panettone bread and hot cocoa, followed by fireworks/sparklers outside. Steve loves to reminisce his mission days and loves that he gets to share this tradition with his children. I'm just glad we stop at that and not continue with their tradition of staying up until midnight and opening all of their gifts. Can you imagine the cranky children we'd have??

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday addiction...

This time of the year leaves our counters littered with delicious homemade goodness. Our neighbors are more than generous and we're always with more than we can handle. Steve gravitates towards anything peanut butter - the PB fudge was a favorite. I like the nontraditional goodies, like the jar of honey butter and fresh rolls. But we got a treat that the youth from our church delivered to everyone in the neighborhood and I can't get enough: Trader Joes's Joe Joes. Kind of a mouth full!
Essentially it's a peppermint oreo - they are so good. Surprisingly, my oreo-loving husband isn't a fan. Which means there's more for me, which is not good. I don't even let the kids have them because they're happy with the store bought gingerbread cookies, I'm not going to waste Joe Joes on them!

Steve saw them in the cupboard yesterday and said, "You know I don't like those, so they won't get eaten." (Implying that we should just toss the box). I reassured him that although I'm not a big sweets person, they would not go to waste. I will end up consuming the box by eating one cookie a day. Savoring every last bite. The box may very well be stale by the time I get around to finishing it. And even then, every cookie will be eaten. Guaranteed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The day after...

We've had a good week. Everyone is happy with the outcome of Christmas (which I'm still sorting through far too many pictures) and looking forward to a week of playing and having fun. The day after Christmas is the best. The stress of shopping, wrapping, cooking and cleaning are over. Instead children have full reign of the toys we were too busy to enjoy yesterday. Hallie spent the afternoon glued to Just Dance while Hunter watched Megamind and built with legos. There was no expectation for the day and no to-do list. It was a nice relaxing break from a busy and hectic month.

We would've stayed in our pajamas all day but we decided to join cousins for a good time at Jumpstreet. It was worth getting dressed for! Tonight I was feeling the itch. I've put off house projects for two weeks now and more than anything I wanted to pull out the saw tonight and go at it. I've got quite a few baseboards to install and I'm ready to be done with it. I'm ready to reclaim my office! Perhaps I'll get around to it tomorrow. Hopefully this guy works himself tired for a long afternoon nap!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dear Santa...

It's funny how Santa evolves through the eyes of a child over the years. It starts when they're so young and we spend so much time and energy filling their minds with complete and utter jibberish. And then year after year the stories evolve and descriptions change and before long they've figured out that we've been lying to them the whole time. And we all accept this as good practice...

We thought this was the year that Hallie would be done believing. She started with all the questions early in the season. She wanted answers as to "Why this..." and "Why that..." Kids at school tell her one thing, and she would come home to clarify. Before long we overheard her telling Hunter, "He's not real Hunter, there's no way he could be real." I pulled Steve aside and told him we better tell her the truth so she can stop ruining the fun for other people. But yet there was still an innocence about her that wanted to believe. She still wanted to see him and sit on his lap, "even though he's just a grandpa dressed up." You could see it in her eyes, she was hanging on to that little hope that she had left, despite what friends/cousins had told her. Around them she stood tall and didn't believe but she still needed something to believe in. Perhaps next year she'll be ready for the truth.

We've got kids at all stage of believing this year and it's fun to see how different they deal with it. I share with you the 3 stages:

1. I'm not sure if I believe. Everything tells me that I shouldn't, but I still want to. I ask my parents and they keep telling me that he's real but they have a whole list of excuses for all my questions. I'm not going to make a list because I don't think it really matters. But if lists do matter I want a box of girl legos. 2. Santa is the coolest thing ever. I love him and the candycanes he gives out. I wish with all my heart I can catch him in our house. I will probably lose sleep at night wondering if the sounds on the roof were the reindeer. I've seen three different santas this year but I'm oblivious to the fact that that should raise concerns. I've been really thinking of what I want to tell him...but I think I've got it narrowed down. Legos. Nothing but legos. 3. Santa is a creepy looking creature from far away. Oh no, mom is walking me close to him. Oh no, oh no. Panic. He's even creepier up close. I'm going to attach to my mom's leg and not let go. Please just turn around and walk away we are way too close for comfort. I am more than uncomfortable. More panic. Why is she handing me over to him. Start the screaming. Wailing. Tears. Why is a stranger holding me. Get me down. Now. I don't care what candy you throw at me, I'm done. Although Bennett doesn't look like he's having any fun, I assure you he's loving the car that Santa dropped off for him!

Sometimes it's just fun to believe in something, no matter how crazy and silly it may seem. It's fun.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not an ideal weekend...

I went to bed the night of our anniversary feeling really under the weather. Body aches, chills, sore throat. By the next morning it was in full swing and it hit me hard. Steve apologized profusely as he handed Mr. B to me while I lay immovable in bed while he rushed off to work. Of course the Friday before Christmas I had absolutely nothing to do...a perfect day to be sick.

Steve's mom was kind enough to take the two youngest kids while Hallie was at school and my sister-in-law convinced me to go to the doctor. Not something I normally do - especially only after 12 hours of feeling sick. But the real flu has been running through the family and not wanting to miss out on an ounce of the holiday I rushed in. I did not have the flu. Thank heavens. I did have strep. In the last two months, we have all tested positive for strep. The doctor said one of the kids (figure out who the carrier is) needs to take one for the team and have their tonsils removed. Perhaps we'll draw straws after the holiday to see who the lucky one is!

I was out cold on Friday. My lovely list of to-dos was pushed aside. Saturday I was feeling slightly better. Made it to my nephews baptism and that sealed my fate. I was back in bed for the afternoon with a fever and as achy as ever. I woke up early evening in a pure panic. I can't be sleeping right now. I have so much to do and I've missed out on two whole days of preparations. Presents aren't wrapped. Food needs to be purchased and prepared. Laundry needs to be done. House needs to be put back together (two days without mom duty can leave the house in quite disarray!). I got out of bed, got dressed and got to work. Steve tried holding me back but I couldn't be stopped. Although sore and slightly fevered I started crossing things off the list. Many things just had to be dropped; not worth the extra work and stress to fit them in. Surprisingly, I didn't feel any worse after gettings some things done, but then my husband found the couch and curled up as he started to experience similar symptoms. Luckily for him by morning he was feeling a bit better.

This morning I felt a little better, but still running below normal. My normal. Steve clarifies that I'm running at what most people run on all the time, it just seems lower than normal for my abnormally high energy personality!

Today we had the Christmas program at church which I look forward to all year. I would've enjoyed it far more if Mr. B would've let Steve and I enjoy it. One of us was out the entire meeting with a crying child. I'm sure the people around us loved the noise and distraction! Even with the little that I did hear, it was amazing. I love how quickly music can bring the spirit of Christmas into a room. I told Steve this year convinced me that I am going to join the choir next year so I can sit on the stand and enjoy the whole program. He made the same threat, but I know he won't really follow through!

Hunter gave his first talk in primary and nailed it. The Fisher-Price nativity was key to his storyline!

One of the many downsides to our sick weekend - I couldn't find Hunter or Bennett's fancy holiday attire for church. They wore them once at the beginning of the month and I could not for the life of me find them this morning.

I learned some things aren't worth the stress and chaos they create. Holiday outfits were one of them. A group family photo using a tripod was another.

I'm feeling slightly rushed waking up to Christmas Eve in the morning but it will all work itself out, right? The things that are important will get done; the other things will fall by wayside. And that's okay. I'm so excited for Christmas I can hardly stand it!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

9 years...

9 years. I cannot believe it's been that long. What were we thinking getting married right before Christmas? Every year our anniversary rolls around, we're too caught up in the season to enjoy a nice celebration. Buying gifts is hard because Christmas is just around the corner. So we don't exchange gifts and we're both okay with that.

Tonight we went out to dinner without kids (Thanks Laurel) and had endless conversations without any interruptions! That alone was a gift. We exchanged letters we had written, highlighting the previous year and sharing thoughts and feelings that always seem easier on paper.

I think my out-of-the-box thinking is starting to rub off on my husband because he suggested (not only suggested but had collected all the supplies) for a "dream board". We used magazines as we cut out words and pictures of what inspires us, what we want to become and what we want for us and for our family. It was fun and insightful and we were able to share what we cut out and why. Steve is a genius and totally gets thoughtful points for that idea!

I thought I was one lucky girl 9 years ago - still rings true.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Preschool Program...

December is always full of "stuff". Half way through the month I start to question why we schedule so many events for this month. Can we start doing Thanksgiving programs instead??

There are programs and concerts and parties and gift exchanges and Christmas cards and neighbor gifts and decorating and family events and...and...and...It's a packed month. It always is and we're over halfway through it. Today we had Hunter's preschool Christmas program. This wasn't your average preschool program - this thing was a production and it was awesome. And they served lunch, total bonus!

The kids sang several songs, each song used a different prop. Some songs were meant to fun and silly and Hunter just stood reverently singing, making sure to never leave his nametag taped to the floor. Although he's normally a very animated kid, he was pretty reserved and definitely won "best behaved kid". His teacher managed to create a program and control 48 kids (both classes) effortlessly, she amazes me. A special visitor dropped by - and he was totally legit. Hunter loved the attention and especially loved that Steve was able to sneak away from a party for work to join us for a half hour. He was beaming - he's a daddy's boy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Talents and gift exchange...

We had a cousins talent show and gift exchange with Steve's family. Hallie was the only one that presented from our family singing a Christmas song. Hunter thought about singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas. But then he decided the only way he would perform is if he could sing Feliz Navidad. Which of course he didn't know all the words to and and requested I join him. That didn't happen.

There were piano solos and duets, singing, poems recited and bells. Yes, bells. One family claims no talent so they play the bells - you can tell they have a great time with this family talent! After all the families presented, Steve's mom was sharing some thoughts. I was somewhat distracted trying to keep Bennett quiet and occupied and trying to convince Hunter to stop rolling around the middle of the living room that I didn't hear a whole lot, looking around the room, many were distracted. But Hallie was in the middle of the floor sitting on her heels with her arms folded looking intently at her Nana. She heard every sweet word that came out of her lips. I saw her from across the room with tears welled up in her eyes. A tear rolled down her cheek and she didn't even attempt to wipe it away. I quickly made my way across the room to put my arms around that sweet and sensitive child. She didn't even flinch as tears continued to roll down her face. She finally did one swoop of her sweater arm across her eyes so she could see again. At that point, I too focused and listened intently and it was a great message. But I wonder what part of the message initially touched her so deeply. Such a tender moment.

The talent show alone would not be a popular event - but throw in a cousin's gift exchange and you have yourself a party! This was the first year that Hunter participated because I felt it was probably the first year he would understand it well enough to not cry. (There's gift stealing and it doesn't always go over well!) No crying is one of the only rules!

Hunter stole a 3ft candy cane full of gumballs from his same aged cousin. I reiterated to him that it wasn't really his gift and someone else would be taking it from him. I was right. And I was grateful - Hunter is grounded from gum - he's still learning where he can and can't put chewed gum! He had his pick of a whole room of gifts and he chose the Froot Loops. Hallie had multiple gifts stolen from her and each time she found a new gift she liked equally as much. She had one final steal at the end that landed her with a box full of candy. She couldn't have been happier!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lights and cocoa...

We have "that" house in our neighborhood. The house that goes all out for the holidays. The one that coordinates a series of songs to light movement. The one that has cars lined up in front to catch the 30 minute show. Yes, we have "that" house in the neighborhood and because we're not right next to them, we actually like it. Sunday night on the drive home from family, we stop by for a visit. On my way home from evening church activities, I stop by and take a look.

We even made an evening of it with some cousins. We got bundled (as much as we need bundling in Arizona) and drove the neighborhood with an extra long stop at the fun house. What's Christmas lights without a little hot chocolate? We made some crock-pot cocoa that was nice and hot by the time we finished with the lights.

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
7 cups of milk (original recipe called for 6, but it was really rich, so we toned it down just a bit!)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of milk chocolate

As if the cocoa by itself wasn't rich enough, we threw in some peppermint marshmallows, whipped cream, and some mint ice cream. Death by cocoa. Totally worth it!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tough lessons...

Sometimes bad things happen and I do everything in my power to shelter my kids from it. I don't want them to think about it or worry over it. Friday was one of those days. I received an update on my phone with breaking news of the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut. I quickly turned on the tv and started listening to the report. Hunter heard the tv turn on so he made his way to the living room. As they started describing the events that took place, I quickly turned off the tv. I didn't want the images or thoughts taking place in my little child's mind who already has nightmares. I monitored the news from my phone and debated whether I discuss with it Hallie. She came home from school and I hugged her tight but decided against discussing with her.

We sent her to Steve's parents house for the night with other cousins for the annual "Nana Sleepover". The next evening at dinner Hallie brought up the fire drill she had at school last week which seemed oddly off topic. She also talked of another drill, but she couldn't remember what it was for. She kept talking about the drills. It was as if she was opening a line of communication, and I took the bait. We talked about the drills she had at school and we went on to explain that sometimes bad things happen at school and it is so important to listen to her teacher. The drills are just practice so everyone has an idea of what to do, but really the teacher will guide them in every situation.

As we talked of bad situations that might happen she brought up the shooting. I was more than surprised because I knew without a doubt she didn't hear about it at our house. She explained that a cousin at the sleepover told her about it. She was sad for the families and really sad for the kids. "How come they didn't do their drills?" "How did he get into the school?" "But why would someone do that?" She had honest questions that she was truly seeking the answers for. But there were few answers we could give her that she was satisfied with.

As we talked my heart ached. More than anything I wanted her to feel safe. Just because it happened somewhere, doesn't mean it will happen here. Her "what-if" questions were arguably the hardest questions because it meant I played the situation out in my mind to answer her; which always ended in tearful eyes. We talked of a loving Savior who will comfort those that are mourning and the beautiful place in heaven for every one of those lives taken. That seemed to satisfy her and her questions were over.

Although her questions were over, my thoughts weren't. It's so hard to see such violence involving such innocent and pure individuals and at times it's nearly impossible to not ask, "Why children?" It is evident there is bad in the world. I will do my best to help my children navigate around it. But more importantly I will teach them there is good. There will always be good. I love the following verse from "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day":

“And in despair I bowed my head: 'There is no peace on earth,' I said, 'For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will t'wards men.'

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 'God is not dead nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth good will t'wards men.'"

I pray for the families of all those that lost someone they loved and for all those that had to be a witness of the tragedy. God is real and he heals. That I know. I hold these little ones just a little bit tighter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A little leaky...

Tonight I wrapped one of Hallie's presents and walked through the living room as I made my way to the office. The rain was coming down hard outside (very unusual for our area) but there was an unfamiliar sound in the living room. I started to look around and I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Then a drop of water fell from the ceiling and landed on our dark gray couches. I hadn't noticed it before, so I put my hand on the water spot and it was soaked. I have no clue how long it had been dripping. But it was in the middle of our living room - I had no idea where it was actually coming from. Of course I see a large puddle by the couch on our brand new wood floors. It was 10:30 at night. My heart sunk. In my panic I went and told Steve, who had just gone to bed. He was less than concerned and said, "Oh." Oh? We have water dripping from our ceiling on our brand new floors and "oh" was all I got. Good thing I was concerned enough for the both of us. He knew it too, he knew I would take care of it.

In the past, we had had a problem with one of our skylights leaking, but we worked on it and it hadn't leaked since. But the location of this leak was just random.

The only thing I knew to do was climb into the attic and investigate. Exactly what I wanted to do right before going to bed! It didn't take long before my heart sank even more. It wasn't a little leak. In fact there was quite a bit of water. It entered in through the skylight area and it traveled down the length of one truss before it fell off and started to puddle. The puddle saturated the insulation, which then saturated the drywall causing it to leak. I wanted to scream. This repair goes far past anything I would tackle and I'm fairly adventurous. Looks like I'll be calling a repairman tomorrow. I hate that.

Not to mention I just looked at the weather report and we're supposed to have rain for the next 12 hours. I wouldn't be surprised if my flooding dream comes back tonight. I suppose it's better than the intruder dream!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reoccurring dreams...

I was talking with my brother-in-law Bob the other day and he asked if I ever had the dream that I show up unprepared for a test at school. Never. I never have had that dream. But I am a dreamer (as I mentioned here) and I can tell you about my dreams every morning I wake up.

For several years, my reoccurring dream involved water coming into my house and flooding my bedroom. I would wake up and get out of bed to grab towels to soak up water. Fortunately, I no longer have that dream.

But there is one dream I can't stop having and I hate it. Obviously I've watched Dateline news one too many times because my dreams are always about someone breaking into our house. Not only that, they are in my room. Two to three times a week I wake up and I'm convinced that there is someone in my room. Isn't that awful?? I've since stopped watching criminal news shows but the dreams don't stop. I will wake up in a complete panic - no matter what Steve says to convince me otherwise - and search the room for the intruder. This week it happened three nights in a row. The third night Steve says to me, "Seriously, you have issues if you have the same dream every night. Serious issues." The next morning he asked me if I ever feel scared in our house during the day. No. Not ever. Not even when we lived in Milwaukee did I feel unsafe in my home. I don't feel unsafe at night either, even when Steve is away for work, but the dream doesn't go away. What's weird is I wake up nearly the same time every night - just a half hour to an hour after I initially fall asleep. And I can recall the whole thing in the morning, every detail. It's got to stop.

I want to dream about unicorns. And clouds of cotton candy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ideal weather...

The weather is nothing shy of perfect right now. It's warm enough outside that the kids want to go outside and play as soon as they get home from school. We had a lot of visitors this afternoon, which is heaven for my kids. They would have it this way every day if it were their choice.

Although there is no one Hunter's age he plays with them seamlessly. Until he gets out of hand and he becomes too much for the other kids to handle (hence, he's not in the pictures below, but instead in timeout for kicking and attempting to bite). After I got him squared away in timeout, I started cleaning the kitchen. Although I couldn't see the trampoline from the kitchen, I could hear them outside singing and being slightly crazy/silly, so I went out to find them all jumping on the trampoline while singing Christmas songs. Their little voices, with not-so perfect pitch, singing "Santa Clause is coming to town" made me smile. They sang it over and over again, which leads me to believe it's one of the few songs they all know the words too! I still have to pinch myself to think that Santa is coming to town, and we're still wearing flip flops. I love where we live!

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Dear Hallie...

Tonight you did something at dinner that made dad shoot me a look and say, "She is just like you." And you are. I bet if my mom was around you a lot, she would see me as a little girl in you, I just know it. You are growing so much in so many areas and I love to see your personality develop. You're strong willed. You have been since the day you were born. You have caused many tears for me already and I'm sure you're not through! Not all tears of sadness, but some of happiness, frustration, doubt, overwhelmed.

You see, you are too smart for your own good. Nothing gets by you, no matter how hard I try and shelter you. To you, the world is black and white and no gray. And you are right. You are always right, even when you're wrong. You never back down. As a parent, there are few things more frustrating than a child who refuses to be submissive. I thought children were born submissive, but you weren't. Instead you were born strong-willed and ready to lead and I am trying my hardest to not strip you of your nature. But it is hard.

I need you to be respectful while still voicing your will. Although it's hard to imagine, I have been around for a while longer than you and have learned a thing or two. I don't want to argue points (whether the color is red or scarlet, it makes no difference) with you on a daily basis that have little importance because they just cause contention and more frustration. But I do love that you have an opinion and you are more than willing to share it. I need you to be strong. The Lord needs you to be strong. You will do amazing things with such a strong will.

But today you are a child, my child.

My child who still has so much to learn from loving parents (I'm still learning from my loving parents) who devote everyday to teaching you and loving you. I never want to strip you of who you are but I will continue to teach and train. Please know I do this with love and admiration and I'm learning right beside you.

Our Heavenly Father sent you to me because he knew how much we could help each other. Your dad is right. You are just like me and I wouldn't have it any other way. You make me laugh - you are determined - you are smart - you are confident - and you are so passionate. You are mine.

I love you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

To-do lists...

We had that annoyingly busy Saturday this weekend, with nothing more than the things we chose to put on the schedule! Steve decided he wanted to make a productive Saturday and he made a list of all the things he wanted to see accomplished. Of course, I did the same and I made my list. And wouldn't you know it, there were very few things that made it on both of our lists. Which seems to happen more times than nought. They were all "good" things and neither one of us wanted to see our list get tossed. So we did the best we could.

The kids had a church activity in the morning and Hunter had a birthday party in the afternoon. I took Hallie and her friend to the craft store where they picked out the craft they wanted to do. (I got mom points on that one!) By the time we got home, Steve was ready for some of his items to get crossed off which meant mowing the lawn with Hunter. By the time dinner time rolled around I still hadn't accomplished my main item on the list: installing baseboards. Steve took care of the kids while I devoted two hours to baseboards. We got the kids in bed which meant Steve could get some more of his list done while I cleaned up and went to the grocery store at 9:30 at night.

By the time all the food was unpacked and put away we were both beat. I looked at my list next to my nightstand frustrated at how little I actually accomplished. I was tempted to write a couple of the things that didn't make the list but were great that I did just so I could cross them off. Or even the times I was helping Steve with his list. Why do I create such lengthy lists for myself when I know very well there's no way to accomplish it all?? It just leads to disappointment when the entire day was a great productive day on so many levels. No, the hallway baseboards did not get installed, or our family Christmas cards...or many other things. But we had a good day and for the most part we did it together. And I captured this photo: Totally worth it. This little guy was in the mix of the excitement all day long. By the time the lawn was being mowed we decided it was safer for him inside. He cried and cried because he hates not being with his dad. He perched himself on the piano bench so he could get in on the action. It won't be long before he's out there alongside his dad and his brother doing the lawns. Of course at that point I'll have to fight him to stay outside and help!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas craft...

This is how holiday crafts go for me:
I see something on the internet or in a magazine that strikes my fancy.

So I purchase all necessary supplies.

Craft ends up taking far longer than anticipated, which means the craft isn't complete by the time the holiday arrives.

The unfinished craft goes into a holiday box only to be rediscovered the following year which is when I pull it back out and attempt to finish it by the time the holiday arrives.

Case in point: These lovelies just came out of a bag half finished. But here they are in all they're glory - and I have a lot of them, far more than fit in this vase!

Also customary in most craft projects - a casualty. Here is today's casualty: Bennett got his hands/face/feet on a jar of glitter. He was more than a little sparkly. Not to mention the floors. And also my dust pan and even the vacuum. I think I spent more time cleaning up glitter than I did finishing them up!!

Here are the details:
I bought large Christmas bulbs through ebay - a large box of them. However, I've heard of people using strands that were burnt out (the largest Christmas bulbs).

Using a brush, I painted the bulb with Elmers glue. I poured glitter over the bulb and used my fingers to lightly press the glitter into the glue. I finished them off by spraying them with a clear glossy spray paint, so the glitter doesn't rub off. A little tip: Martha Stewart glitter is superior, however, it is a little more expensive. I hadn't ever thought about the differences in glitter but all are not created equal! MS glitter is really fine and seems to be extra sparkly. I love the look. You can find a multi pack here or probably at Michaels. I used sterling (silver) and garnet (red). I also used blue and green MS glitter on my alphabet wall (here) for the letters u and f - at first I wrote those in alphabetical order and realized it was highly inappropriate!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Flooring...complete...

The guy came Tuesday night to finish up our flooring. To say I was ecstatic was an understatement. I'm sure he was happy to have this lengthy project finished as well. It has been 4 weeks of concrete grinding, and pounding, and glue being tracked places it shouldn't be. I think I've cleaned the floors thoroughly 3 times in the last 6 days and looking at them, you wouldn't even know it. I've been told it might take a while...It doesn't help that I'm cutting baseboards outside which I'm sure gets tracked into the house.

We've got tools in just about every corner of the house and for the most part the kids stay away from them. I have said more than a couple times, "Bennett, put the hammer down" or "Don't play with the crowbar." Hunter tried his hand at the miter saw trying to cut his sugar snap peas, fortunately he can't turn the saw on. But it was a good reminder that we need to end the danger zone soon!

I've been working away on the baseboards and the trim around all the doors. It is not a quick process. It doesn't help that nothing in the house is truly square, or even close to square. It makes for a tedious process, but the final product is amazing.

I'm anxious to get the office looking like an office again, for now, this is the view: I've contemplated painting something on the wall on the right - it's the wall you see from the entry way so it needs some impact. Perhaps herringbone - tone on tone - with a pearlized paint. Does that even exist?? My plans may have to change when I can't find the paint in my vision! I just need to make a decision because the desks can't be put back in until it's finished. Luckily its the holiday season so I have all sorts of time!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Mom, Mommy, Mommy..."

I love when my toddlers start to talk. It's a right of passage and frustrations start to diminish. Finally I can start to understand what it is they want.

Mr. B has taken a lot longer to really develop the verbal aspect of his personality...it's now starting to shine through! For the longest time I couldn't get him to say mom/mommy, now it's all he says. In fact, I don't even think he associates the name "mommy" with me. He calls Hallie mommy, Hunter mommy, even Steve. He calls his drink mommy, he screams mommy if he wants a snack. This is what I hear all afternoon, "Mom, mom, mom, mommy, mommy, mom." I can be sitting right next to him and he points to something across the room, "mommy". Apparently I did too good of a job brainwashing him while he peacefully slept. When he wants something he repeats mommy nonstop and just stands and points. I try and get him to repeat the correct word but only mommy comes out of his mouth. He knows if he goes to his big sister, she'll give him whatever he wants...such as a whole bucket of pretzels. Sneaky guy.

Despite the obvious language barrier, we are fortunate that he understands a lot more than he can speak. "Go get a diaper", "Where's your blanket?", "Lets get in the car", "Do you want a snack?", "Rub my feet". We like to train them young. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Grateful...

My sister-in-law called me today and asked if she could bring her family over tonight for a service project: putting our house back together. At first I hesitated - it's always awkward to have people come help you clean and I really wasn't quite sure what I would have them do - but I quickly did the math of how many man hours it would take to do everything myself and I reluctantly agreed to have them come help. It's always a process to get everyone going on a project, but once we did we were efficient.

We had the younger ones playing with our kids, we had my niece and nephews scraping glue and scrubbing the new floors, my sister-in-law painted moulding and cleaned, my brother-in-law and Steve painted the office and the hallway and I helped on the floors. I was amazed at how much we got done and so grateful that I don't have to spend the rest of the week slowly crossing one thing off the list each day. I'm grateful my sister-in-law was persistant in lending her family's services because that is not something I would normally agree to. (why is it in our nature to turn down help??) Service is a wonderful gift. Thank you, thank you.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Christmas Story...

As much as I wish Christmas was in full swing around here, sadly it's not. The floors are just getting finished and the task of cleaning and getting everything back in it's rightful place on top of painting rooms and reinstalling moulding is taking it's toll on all of us. I thought today would be the day, but my husband looked at me with tired eyes and said, "Really? Tonight?" I suppose I'll be spending all day tomorrow creating order so he can't reject me tomorrow night!

I did manage to pull out the Christmas books tonight. I know a lot of people like to wrap them all up and have the kids open them each night - not us. I like certain books on certain nights. If we're running short on time, we are selective as to which book. Not to mention the fights that would break out as to who gets to open it when...ours sit on the entertainment center and the kids can sit and look through and read them at their pleasure. And they do.

They each have a favorite and so do I. I came across this book a few years back when a friend suggested it for our expanding holiday library. It's a little longer and is lacking in the illustration department (I really wish someone would re-do it) not to mention it's out of print, but I love it. It's a true story of a man who plays the role of santa in New York City for 12 years. It's very tender and is always one of the first books I read to bring in the Christmas spirit. There's a couple used versions on Amazon (here), It's a great addition to any library.
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