"Being a family means you are part of something wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what." ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Decorating the tree at my house is always an anticipated event.  It’s not really putting the ornaments on that my kids look forward to.  They love to pick a tissue wrapped package from the box and carefully unwrap it to reveal a little memory.  See, we don’t do the 12 packs of ornaments that all match.  Since I was little, my grandma has purchased an ornament every year for me.  She now purchases one for each great grandkid also.  In addition I have several other special ornaments from various people.  I literally have a story for every ornament on my tree.  My kids love to hear about each one we unwrap.  For example, the year my frugal Grandpa passed away,  Grandma showed up to Christmas with this ornament for my sister an I.


They were $50 each.  It was Grandma’s declaration that while she missed my Grandpa terribly, she was going to have some fun with the money he saved!

This Nutcracker set was made by a family friend, Aunt Dottie, who moved out of state when I was young.  Every year she would send a package with hand made ornaments for my sister and I.  These are still some of my favorites and I always put them front and center! 


Here’s a blast from the past.  Long before scrapbooking women gathered together and painted ceramics.  This pretty kitty was painted by my mom, and might be one of the most artistic things she’s done! 


My father in law is even represented on the tree.  Every year he buys us the new White House ornament.  We have one from each year since 1998!


My kids will have all these same kind of memories when they grow up.  They will remember picking out their ornament with Grandma and why they chose that one.  Before my family left this weekend we did our trip to Hallmark and watched as the kids so carefully made their choices.  Sof and Natalie ended up with Precious Moments, Adrienne chose a ballerina, Lexi got a cool music playing penguin one, Livy got the Grinch, and Kaitlyn chose a rockin’ guitar!  Each one was perfect for them. 


Decking the halls was a family event.  We had lights going up outside, inside, and everywhere in between.  Sof wavered between being a spectator and a participant. 

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Sof was into putting the ornaments on the tree until she discovered this icicle.  Typical Sof, she decided to use it as a microphone to sing with the Christmas music.  This girl is a performer! 


Our tree is not just a decoration.  It’s a conversation piece all month.  It’s also a place I will find my kids standing and staring.  They love to find their ornaments, push music buttons, and pull dancing strings.  It’s a symbol of not just the season, but of our family. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanks and Giving

I've been soaking up the holiday transition, thus the lag in blogging.  It's gone all too fast and it's not hard to think back on the day.  I have a favorite part of holidays, and it's not when we're in the thick of it(though I do love that too).  I love the morning of.  When I can go for a run knowing the whole family will be up mulling around when I get back.  Then I do a Starbucks trip and come back and sip my coffee while making preparations.  These early preparations are fun.  There is always some sort of parade on TV, and it seems as though the morning will last forever.  All too soon the stuffing the turkey with care and welcoming kids in the kitchen to help turns into a frantic frenzy.  I start throwing objects in any empty drawer, threatening to throw away any toy, shoe, or beloved blanky not in it's proper place, and shooting unassuming snotty comments at hubby.  I like to call these questments.  It's a statement phrased as a question like, "Are you going to eat over the clean counter before everyone gets here?".  That's code for, "Touch one of those perfectly arranged crackers and I'll cut your hand off".  All in the name of thanks and giving.  It's all part of the anticipation.  The knowing that soon the house will be full of family, and the toys and blankies will become part of the decor. 

This crowd gathered in awe to watch me prepare the meal.  To lavish words of praise and gratitude on me for nourishing their bodies.  Not really, they were watching the baby, and she knows how to work a crowd. 


The other 5 are pretty amazing too.


I borrowed a page from Sal’s book and planned a cooking activity for the kids to do.  We ended up with enough pumpkin bread to last the whole weekend. 


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How sweet is this?


I admit, it was posed.  I actually said, “get ready to pray”.  What really happened was just as sweet though.  The middle girls wanted to say the prayer.  They ran in the bedroom and rehearsed what they wanted to say.  Then we all gathered around the dining room table while they prayed in unison. 

The dinner was fab and we were thankful.  Onto the giving part.  We have 3 family b-days in November and one in early December.  We always celebrate on Thanksgiving because you have to eat dessert anyway, why not stick a candle in it? Speaking of candles…we’re still challenged in that area.  Enter tea lights.  Don’t knock it till you try it, no drippy wax!

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Mmm…ice cream…I’m so not eating that mashed up green stuff in the jar anymore.

For my Grandma’s birthday my Mom had a picture of my Great Grandma framed.  Lexi was so interested in who it was, and Grandma was just as interested in telling her. 


Project #2: The Fish.  This year in Grand Haven each store in town decorated a huge fish and put it outside their store.  They lined the streets.  My dad purchased a minnow(a small DIY version) for the kids to decorate.  Some paint, stickers, hot glue, and feathers allowed for each kid to express themselves. 



The night wouldn’t be complete without a dance party and the annual viewing of “Christmas Vacation”. 



Other weekend highlights…did some black Friday shopping with my big girl and sis.


Cousin sleepovers…


The littlest cousins are forging a relationship.  Sof has realized Nat is here to stay, and may actually make a decent partner in crime someday.   DSCF3500DSCF3504

We are a game playing family.  My sister and I always win.  Let me assure you, the saying “cheaters never win”, is totally false!


All the cool people are wearing these…


The kids like to play games too, they just don’t need dice, cards, a table, or other people.  Just an adult willing to give up an iPhone.

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Yes, the weekend was full of thanks and giving.  By Saturday our minds turn to the next holiday and decking the halls takes center stage.  Cue the Christmas music!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens

This week brought some frustrations.  My personality in a nutshell…I don’t go looking for confrontation, but if it finds me I don’t mind.  I don’t start stuff, but I’m happy to finish it.  I always make decisions based on what’s best for me and my family, and if others don’t like it, too bad.  This week brought a plethora of annoying people and situations.  High maintenance criers, control freaks, and down right unreasonable mental cases.  The end of the week brought a civil war waged in the dance world.  I stood my ground(because I was right) and didn’t back down.  Unfortunately wars rarely have a clear winner, and both sides end up with casualties.  In this case it was the death of the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker” being played by my daughter.  She practiced that role for 2 months, only to have it taken away two days before the first performance because of a grown up situation.  It sucked.  What I know is this will not be the last dance battle we wage.  For now we move on knowing that sometimes winning means losing too. 

By Friday morning I was happy to see my cell phone a-buzz with texts and calls to see who was available and what house we could meet at.  We haven’t had a weekend “whoever-is-around-come-over” get together in awhile.  Too long actually.  We washed the week away with friends, laughs, food, and games.  I finished a bottle of wine with my sis and taught my 3 year old how to gamble.  Productive night.

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Mark was sure this Barbie shoe was bringing him luck.  Funny, he didn’t win once.


Now here’s a good picture for the social worker:)  Sof’s a mad dice roller by the way. 

We did have a little fashion show sans kids.  Livy and Lexi were the judges.  It lacked a little organization because Adrienne wasn’t there!  Big girl had cooler things to do. 

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Saturday brought a Girl Scout field trip to the parade company.  Cool stuff and good time with my Lexi.  Those floats are amazing to see up close.  There are only 13 full time employees that manage over 2,000 volunteers to make all the floats and costumes.  I will have a new appreciation watching the parade on TV this year!

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DSCF3363                               This is the stuff nightmares are made of!


A quick trip to mall with Mark and Sof proved to be the perfect Saturday night.  Sof’s love for shoes has not dwindled.  A shoe on a rack with a price tag calls to her like candy in a dime store. 

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My love for my hubby has not dwindled either.  He proved that chivalry is not dead with a simple Starbucks deed.  There was only one cup sleeve left.  What to do?  Of course he put in on my drink!  Prince charming:)   

DSCF3385A few days of work this week will give way to 5 days at home.  I’ve done my grocery shopping and will spend the next couple days preparing for the family to gather.  I am so so ready for a holiday!  Here’s hoping this week is full of smiles and thanks.