Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tying Up Loose Ends

December really has gotten away from me. I saw a sign yesterday that announced 1.1.11 and couldn't believe it's only days from now that we will ring in a new year. Where has this old year gone?
I have a few loose ends from 2010 that I just want to write down so that someday I can look back and remember. Who knows maybe I'll even put the memories down with pictures in scrapbooks.

Amazing Race: What a thrilling end to Amazing Race this year. For the first time, I was actually in contention for the prize. Never before has a team I picked made it this far. Jill and Thomas of course could not pull it off for the grand prize, but it was fun to cheer them into the finale.

Miss M's team, the "Doctors," took home the grand prize which means we'll be heading out for Mexican Food in the new year. Homemade Tortillas and Salsa are calling our names. Miss A was cheering for this cute lady team as well since all her teams were knocked out early.

Poor Mr. C had no team in the finale, but of course like a good big brother he was cheering for either his mother or father's team to win (and cheering against his sister's team). P's team the QVC hosts gave it their all to be the first all female team to pull a win off, with cute clothes to boot, but it was to no avail.

What will we do until February when the next season of Amazing Race begins? Mr. C got the Wii game of Amazing Race for Christmas, so maybe that will keep our sadness at bay for awhile. Probably not though.

12 Days of Christmas : It was a blessing again this year to be a part of the 12 Days of Christmas surprises for some families in our area. My great Bible study group took on this project with gusto. Mr. C actually had the idea for our first family from the junior high. A boy he knows had lost his dad in a tragic accident and he thought maybe his family could use a little Christmas spirit. The second family was from our elementary school so Miss A was thrilled.

I'll never forget our deliveries on Christmas Eve this year. Mr. C wanted to go along to drop off the 12th Day basket, 12 Ice Cream Drumsticks (12 Drummers Drumming), and a small little gift all tucked into a drum shaped basket. C wanted to be a ninja. He ran up to the houses like lightening, not wanting to get caught. The only problem: the getaway driver. He said he was too slow. Poor Dad....

This Christmas tradition has become one of my favorites. I love thinking about the packages arriving each day on the front porch. I think about the faces of the children inside. The little piece of joy. It so reminds me of God. It encompasses all the joy of Christmas each day. The tiny gift in the manger. Love it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve

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Christmas Eve is fast becoming the funniest part of the Christmas Season. Not only do we get to go to Christmas Eve worship as a family and celebrate the Birth of Jesus, the real reason for the party, I get to see these crazy cousins all together just having a blast.
The traditions of this night are all precious to me: the present pass to the Night Before Christmas, the poems that Nana creates that give a clue about the recipient and capture so much of that person's past year and personality, the Rice Pudding and quest for the almond, Christmas Devotions lead by Papa and, of course, the ripping into the gifts from the Aunts and Uncles.
This years' Christmas Play had a few new characters and some "missing in action." I guess you could say that some are now too "old" to participate unless you are young at heart! Miss A and Miss M were adorable as Santa's Helpers and, while I could show incriminating evidence of Boxer Shorts worn by the "elder elves," I'll pass for their sake.
There are times I wish that we had a "huge" family with lots of cousins and aunts and uncles that no one remembers who they actually are related. However, there is nothing better than this family. What we miss in "size" of gathering, we more than make up for in enthusiasm.
Just ask "See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil," how much fun they had. I'm sure they'd tell you it was the time of their lives!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Morning

The wonder of Christmas never gets any bigger than in the eyes of children on Christmas Morning. It's chaos, pure joy and overwhelming. As usual, we were awoken early to "get the party started," but I give them credit that it was 8:00 a.m. rather than the previous record of 6:00.
Santa had left his gifts unoppened in the family room and the scamper of the kids down the stairs was soon accompained by the screaming and yelling. Miss A was nearly jumping out of her skin; the Barbie Dream House was there in all it's glory. As my husband said, we now own two houses and one has an elevator, sweet. M and C's Santa gifts were a little smaller (I don't like the big guy in the red suit to get all the credit, thus their big gifts were wrapped and under the tree).
Miss A was barely able to contain her joy. In fact, we had to remind her to open her other gifts as she was too busy playing with the Barbie Dream House. "I must have been really good this year!" she said. She loved all of her gifts. A new Art Center for the basement was a hit as were the new jammies and her own pink watering can.
Mr. C, poor soul, had to wait until his last gift to open his Video Camera. While he was thrilled with the Husker Snuggie and the clothes and wii games, I think he was getting a little nervous that there wasn't anything "big" under the tree. Lets just say there are alot of movie production going on in our house this week.
Miss M finally has her own radio/alarm to get her up the morning. Not only can she listen to her Ipod in the unit, she can program it to wake her up to a specific song. I think P might have gotten a little jealous at this point over the technology his kids have and he lacks. She was beyond thrilled with Wii Fit and balance board along with her new Dance Wii game. She'll be sweating this winter. The fact that she had some bucks to spend at Justice, new clothes, and a nail polish extravaganza were big bonus points.
The parents as usual were thrilled with thier new clothes, gadgets and thoughtful gifts from family. They really get as excited about the small little gifts like board games, fuzzy pj bottoms, walkie talkies and barbies as anything else.
The gifts they gave too each other and to us brought them nearly as much joy as receiving the gifts. Miss A gave C the biggest hug for her new "cell phone walkie talkies" Miss M squelled when she saw the fuzzy slippers from C and Dad was so thrilled with his polka dot boxers from the kids.
While deep down you could take all these gifts away from us and not rob us of any of the real joy of Christmas, there is just something about unbridled joy of the opening that really gets to me. Oh how grateful I am for this little family of mine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bruised and Battered But Not Defeated

This is how I almost had to finish my Christmas shopping. Riding in a Target scooter.
Guess you could say I'm clumsy or scatterbrained or trying to do too much at once. Yesterday, I had plans to go to lunch with some girlfriends (it was a makeup date from last week) and then to finish a few Christmas errands. In anticipation of one errand, I'd put a package on the steps out to the garage. It was a return I needed to make that I didn't want others to see (if you know what I mean).
Fast forward to the time I'm suppose to leave for the lunch. I'm chatting with M about their plans to have lunch with Nana. I forget all about the package. I trip over the package, fall into the shelves filled with pop bottles, juice bottles and paint cans. A small little paint can falls on the top of my right foot. I hear it, feel it, and scream because in the garage is my brand new car too.
The car is spared. Me, not so much.
Everyone runs to the garage to see what all the clatter was about (kinda like Santa) and I realize that I'm not bleeding or breaking, just crushed in spirit and a little shaken up. But my foot is killing me. Throbbing. I slip off my nice black shoes and grab some ballet flats with room for my foot to expand and leave.
When I arrive at lunch, I have to leave the comfort of my car. Walk. I look like I am 89 years old. I hobble to my friends waiting for me. By now, there is a big goose egg on my foot. My knee is throbbing from a gash on it and I feel like I've been run over by a bus.
The waitress brings me an ice bag and a chair to pop up my leg. Thank goodness I wore pants.
We have a blast at lunch. I don't even think about the pain. Until we leave and I must again walk.
Remember those Christmas Errands. I make a few phone calls, eliminate a few of them by talking to store clerks and finding out what they have that I need. Make one stop and pray for a close parking place. One more stop and cry a little walking from the car. The man at Customer Service says maybe I should get a motorized cart, the checkout lady says she has a good podiatrist. I just smile.
Check off some of the "to do" list even though it's not done. Drive by my husband's office to have him look it over. My dad, who used to be a Claim Adjuster which I am told is just like a doctor, offered his opinion. Family joke. They say I will live. Not so sure.
Hours on the couch with legged propped up. Take out pizza for dinner. Caring family and kids.
Today it's better. Ugly. Huge Knot. Less Pain, but more swelling. Take it slow.
Errand/Rest/Errand/Rest and repeat. House needs cleaning, laundry needs done but at least I'm done with the shopping.
I made it through Target without the scooter today, but it was nice to know it was there if needed. Now, I just got to wrap the gifts and make the food. I can do that sitting down with my foot in the air.
Just call me graceful. Grateful too. I could be wearing one of those ugly boots. Think the black ballet flats will be better looking, just colder!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Concerts and Cookies

In the past two weeks, we've been blessed to have three musical concerts to enjoy with one or more of our children participating. I guess we are a musical family, even though the only singing my husband and I do is in the shower, car, or during worship. All three kids have or do take piano lessons, M loves her musical performance class at school, and A has begun to actually sing when the preschoolers sing at church.
Before she use to just stand there and smile.

Miss A and Miss M were both able to be a part of our church's Christmas Program; M was a dancer and A sang in the Preschool Choir. We have no pictures to prove it, but we remember anyway. A of course enjoyed talking to her little friend more than singing and was usually more animated when giggling than singing, but at least she looked like she was having fun!
M loved being part of the "dance team," but wasn't thrilled with the space available to perform or the fact they "pulled" her cartwheel moments before the show. Guess the fact she missed practice due to illness curtailed her part!

M also had her second Musical Performance at the Junior High. It was the "Winter Program" as we'd hate to acknowledge God in the public school or Christmas for heaven sakes!!!!! She looked lovely. The musical director commented that she'd never had such talented 5th graders in all her years of teaching. I'd have to admit they out shined the 6th graders.

Mr C also had a Winter Program with the Jazz Band and 8th Grade Band. As usual, he was thrilled. Not really. I wish he loved the Trombone a little more, he'd be really good if he actually practiced at home. Just saying. What I love about the band is that you have to wear white shirts and black pants. Neither of which he owned. In fact, he was wearing hiking boots with them because I refused to buy church dress shoes that he will outgrow before the spring concert.

He'll probably outgrow the shirt and pants, too. At least that was my explanation for buying pants to big and too long; he could cinch in the waist and the hem covered up his shoes. If they had asked for khaki pants and any kind of dress shirt, we would have been golden. He has those for scouts and church.

Finally, Miss A's Kindergarten Class had a cookie decorating party the last day of the "semester" and Dad was able to come and be the helper. Love that he could see her friends in action. Miss A was thrilled to be back at school (after the pneumonia) and that Daddy was there to help with the frosting and decorating. Amazingly, he said it wasn't messy. Just giggly.

It's so fun to see your kids perform and be in their "environment" and see how they are interacting with their friends and peers. What great kids we have!!

Bells Are Ringing, Children are Singing, Christmas is Here

I have the smartest husband.


When I signed our family up for our traditional Salvation Army Bell Ringing Shift, good old P told me to switch the grocery store location we normally stand in front of. He wanted us to take the same shift, but to do it at a store with a SOUTH FACING Front door. You see it's always bitterly cold when we ring bells and he wanted us not to have a stiff north wind in our face.

He was so right. Even though the temps were nowhere near what they had been in previous years; in the 30's rather than the teens or below, it felt more like 40's. No wind. It was chilly, but bearable. This year, we had hand warmers in our gloves and took turns eating at the cafe inside the store. With both Miss A and Miss M just recovering, we wanted them to only be out for short stints.

Bell Ringing is such a fun family tradition that we decided this year to invite some friends to join in on the fun. The fact that you have to sign up for a three hour shift (at minimum) might have had something to do with that too.

Three families from my Bible Study came with their kids and friends and the cousins and Aunt and Uncle came too. In fact, at one time, the "kids" door was so rocking with Christmas Carols that a few adults came to the "old people" side to drop money in the kettle. Score.

Standing outside at Christmas time "begging" for money is such a lesson in social psychology and a case study in behavior. You could almost guess those who were grumpy and not going to drop anything in the bucket and those who were jolly and giving as they walked up to the door. But still there were surprises. Like the kind little old lady who walked back to our door after putting away her groceries in her car, because she had a cane in one hand and couldn't open her purse.

It's funny too how many times we got a "thank you" response when we wished the person a "Merry Christmas" not a "you too" but just a nod of thanks. C noticed that some even grumbled the thanks, like it was a burden to talk to us. Yet others walked by and promised to "catch us on the way out of the store" and came back later with wads of dollar bills.

People are funky.

The highlight of the evening for the kids beside the silly singing and ringing was the Village Inn Pie afterwards. A loves to be in the midst of the big kids, M idolizes her cousins and C loves to just hang out with friends. The fact that the adults got to warm up with coffee and I got to finally feel my feet again are just bonus points.

Funny Things I've Heard Lately

You know that saying, "the best laid plans?" Well they kinda blew up for me the past two weeks. The final two weeks before Christmas Vacation was suppose to be spent getting all those "errands" done, writing the Christmas letter and sending it off, and having lots of time to bake, wrap presents, etc.

But God had different plans and I spent four days with sick children; thus no baking or errand running. Instead, the days were spent cuddling on the couch with a six year old who I think enjoyed the time as much as her mother. It was, according to her, just like "old times" when we had the house to ourselves to read books, watch Christmas movies, and snuggle.

So, while I attempt to cram all my errands into one day, I thought I'd share these funny stories of the past few weeks. Some days you just gotta laugh.

In the car a few weeks ago, Miss A was gabbing with her friend G about a girl in her kindergarten class who had unexpectedly changed classes. The girls' name really had G pondering things. You see her name is Heaven. G asked Miss A to repeat the name, Miss A said my friend Heaven moved classes today. G responded, "her name is HEAVEN, what were her parents thinking!" Miss A looked at her stunned and said, "yeah her name is Heaven." G again looked puzzled and said, "Heaven is not a name for a girl, it's a place up in the sky with God." and then went on to say, "Really, it's not a name for a girl, it's a place."

I was laughing so hard that I had to force myself to pay attention to the road. You see Miss G had said what so few adults would have the guts to say. She laid it out straight. I love that girl!!


Before Miss A got sick last week, I was driving her to school asking her if she was ready for the last week before Christmas Break. She commented that she couldn't believe she was done with Kindergarten already and wondered who she would get for first grade. I said, "OH, Miss A, it's just the end of the calendar year not the end of the school year."

"No" she said, " this is it, I'm all done with Kindergarten this week, just five more days and then no school until after my birthday in August."

"Honey, I think you are confused, you will be going back to Kindergarten in January until May to finish up the school year" holding back laughter as I told her.

"Do Mr C and Miss M know that? Do they have school, too. I think we are done this week."

Once we cleared up the fact that yes her siblings would be returning to school in January, I think she took the news a little better, however, she really wasn't convinced and said she'd have to check into that!


We traded in our van last week for a new model. It was quick and unplanned, but the deal was just too good to pass up. Most of the work was done over the phone and we didn't really let the kids in on the deal We kept it a surprise. Miss A, of course, got to come along to pick the van up as she was still out of school with a little temp. That afternoon, I told her we would go pick up Miss M from school to surprise her. We sat in our spot waiting. Miss M appeared and looked around and around for our "purple" van. Miss A and I were cracking up, until finally Miss A rolled down the window and yelled for M to come to our new car. What a look we got.

Later, we had to return to the school to pick up Mr. C from Jazz band practice. I called to tell him I was running a few minutes late, but was coming. Mr. C and his friend J were waiting in the circle as I pulled up. They kept standing there. I honked. No response. Finally, I think Mr. J told C to see if that might be his mom in the van.

Over they came to the van. Mr. C's first response "does Dad know that you got a new car Mom?" Well considering he's the only one who has a salary to buy things with "yes". Mr. C still not certain asked again, " I didn't think we were planning on getting a new van until the fall, why didn't you tell me you were getting one today?"

Guess you could say he doesn't like surprises!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If we were waiting for the "other shoe" to drop.... It has!

It's been years since I've had as many sleep deprived nights as I have in the past few days. Poor Miss M, in addition to having the stomach bug over the weekend, has added an ear infection to her list of "hurts."

There is just something about having a face right next to your face crying at 4:00 a.m. waking you from a dead sleep. Poor M was ready to rip her ear off her head. Thankfully, she trusted our thought that it was too drastic a move for the situation. Sadly, my sleep never returned once she was back in dreamland with Advil on board.

God's provision, however, had encouraged me to make an appointment for Miss A's bad cough to be seen by the doctor at 10 in the morning. When I called and said I needed to switch "girls" and have M come instead, they offered "two for one." Not in price, just in time slots!

After weeks of having a hacking cough, I thought Miss A's cough had turned yesterday to "something more." Guess you could say I was right; Walking Pneumonia. Miss M got off easy with just a yucky infected ear!

Yep, we caught it early and before she'd even had a chance to develop much of a fever (she did later in the day just to prove a point) and I'm hoping this will be a quick recovery.

I see why some around these parts think I'm a doctor (OK it's only me and my husband), but now I'm predicting illness before they sprout!! OK, I know that it's just God's gentle nudging my spirit that got me to call "ahead" so I'm just praying that next time he'll tell me when I'm getting another 4 a.m. visitor so I can go to bed earlier and get in enough zzz's.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Caroling Melts the Heart with A Double Douse of Blessing

Miss M in back row with the older girls at the Nursing Home. Miss A's Daisy Troop in front of the tree at the Retirement Center.

Having missed out on a few weekend events, I was thrilled that Miss M was feeling well enough to participate in the Girl Scout Christmas Party and Christmas Caroling to a local Nursing Home. I really do think this is becoming one of my favorite Christmas time traditions. I get all choked up seeing the ladies and gentleman singing along to the favorite old hymns and carols.

Today was probably the biggest crowd we've ever had; almost 75 ready and waiting for us in the lounge. Did I mention we were a little late? Yep by about 5-10 minutes by the time all the "girls" from the various troops arrived.

Of course, if I was proficient with my new phone, I would have been able to pick up the phone call from the activities director wondering where we were two minutes past 4:00. We were in the lobby!!

It truly warms my heart to hear little girls singing "Away in the Manger" and "O Come All Ye Faithful." It's like a big Christmas Hug were are giving away!!

But, we weren't done yet. Miss A's Daisy Troop sang later that evening at an Active Senior Retirement Village to another huge crowd. Thankfully, a few of the older girls from my troop and siblings showed up to help out. It's tough to read song sheets when you are only in Kindergarten.
What a fun group of girls Miss A is blessed to be among. They were dressed to impress and the smiles, giggles and big hugs brought many a smile to a face. The handmade Christmas Cards that the girls passed out after singing were absolutely adorable. A few had more "snowball/cotton balls" on them than sentimental words which added to the fun.

Christmas has really started in my mind now that I've seen the Christmas Spirit being handed out so freely by little girls!!

Love it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why it's essential to have a sense of humor

You know how you are never to ask God for more patience, because he will give you lots of opportunities to try your "gift" out? I guess the same thing goes with asking where all the free time goes.
Today, I've been at home nursing a sick child. The same child who has the busiest weekend of the month or should I say Had. Instead of having six girl scouts over after school today to work on a surprise Christmas present for their parents, I was hastily calling all of the moms this morning to tell them that the plans had been changed slightly.
Poor Miss M has a stomach bug. Up most of the night with various complaints, she said she was fine to go to school today. The fact that our new fangled thermometer read 95 degrees convinced me it was her sinuses. Or, the fact that I didn't remove the cover!!

Dad dropped the kids at school and said he'd only gotten a few blocks away when his phone rang; "Mr. B, we have M here in the nurses' office as she just threw up!" Gotta love that she waited to throw up at school rather than in the backseat of the car!

Tomorrow is practice for the Church Christmas Program on Sunday night that she has a dancing part in. It's also the dance studio Christmas Recital tomorrow. Bummer. While there is hope that it's just a 24 hour thing, I don't see leaping and twirling in her future in the next 48 hours.

Thankfully, we have a few Christmas Movies (love you Hallmark Channel) on the DVR. I've been to the store and have plenty of sprite and crackers and the weather outside is suppose to be frightful anyway. If no one else catches the crud and I get a chance to air out the home of all the Lysol I've been cleaning and spraying, I might even start making my Cinnamon Rolls.

Now, if only this day hadn't have been topped off with me deciding to wash my cell phone along with the clothes, I might be grateful for a quiet weekend in the midst of all the hustle of the season!

So, if you know me in real life, give me a call over the weekend on my cell. At least that will be one way to regain all those numbers lost on my Sim card. Wait until Sunday, though, I need to escape to the store to buy a new phone first!

Next week, I'm going to talk about nothing! That way God can't send me another little test.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Where Does All My Free Time Go?

I am now about five months into my new life as a stay at home mom with no kids at home from 9 to 3. I've established a little bit of a routine, I've been cleaning closets like you wouldn't believe, I have the walls ready for painting come January (do you hear that honey!?) and I'm mostly done with Christmas shopping.

I've been cooking balanced dinners, the laundry for the most part is caught up, and the lawn never looked better (according to my neighbors!, sorry honey).

But the one thing I've yet to figure out is "Where is all this free time" that people kept telling me about? From 6:00 to 8:45 each morning it's non stop getting kids, husband and self ready for the day and then it's either pilates, yoga, BSF, mom's bible study, errands or grocery shopping. Rarley am I home with nothing to do, and normally I'm working like a mad women to get everything crossed off my "to do list" before the first group rolls in at 3:05.

From there, its non stop pick up kids at school, events, practices, church, get dinner on the table and then start the evening list of homework, more events, performances, etc.

My kids aren't even involved in that much stuff. Plus, we normally are all home for dinner together so it's not like I'm doing dinner shift shuffle or takeout madness.

There just aren't the hours of sitting around knitting, blogging, working on a book idea, or scrapbooking that I thought there would be. Maybe I'm not as organized as I thought. Maybe I've taken on too many outside "jobs." I'm not sure. I'm not bored. I'm not stressed and, for the most part, my kids and husband are well taken care of.

Last week, I spent 6 plus hours making homemade Carmel's for Teacher's Christmas Gifts. Hours that I had because of my current station in life and was willing to give, but hours that maybe had I not spent in front of the stove stirring I might have done something "big" with my life. Of course, then, I would have missed the two Hallmark Christmas Movies I was able to watch while "working."

I'm thinking that come January, I'm gonna set aside one day for just "me." A day that I don't run errands or accomplish much besides what I want to do for me and my family.

But for now, I still need to write the Christmas letter, wrap a whole bunch of gifts, and finalize some Girl Scout activities for the upcoming week. Better get busy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Look Who Knows 25 Sight Words!!

Miss A was so excited when I picked her up from school on Monday. She'd gotten a Special Star Student Sticker for knowing 25 Sight Words!

She was so proud. We were too!

While Miss A really knew almost 50 sight words, she missed "her and him" and thus didn't qualify for the next step up to the Medal. Trust me, she's now been working non-stop to learn "her and him." Last night in the car running errands and dropping of big brother at ball practice, we were rattling off words and having a grand time. Miss A stumbled when Miss M tried to see if she knew all three forms of Buy/By/Bye at which Miss A said that English is a tricky language.

Oh honey, you have no idea!

Kindergarten has got to be my favorite year of all. I love the joy of learning and the excitement at accomplishing new things. Miss A you are one smart cookie!!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

A Cultural Christmas

There are days that show tunes are playing in my head. I know that might seem weird, but remember I am a little bit on the sappy side and enjoy Hallmark Movies, Musicals and Disney Movies from the 1970's.

Today, it's a stout little Jewish Man singing "Tradition, Tradition" with maybe a chorus or two of "Sunrise, Sunset" for good measure. You see our Christmas Family time is becoming such a part of us that it's beyond tradition, it's the fabric of our lives. Jeez, that sounds a little bit like a Hallmark movie in itself.
Friday night, we enjoyed our annual trek to the Ethnic Festival downtown. We even made it in time for the Parade of Flags. Seeing the different country flag carried by men and women in traditional cultural garb just does something to you. While each of them so identifies themselves with their cultural heritage and traditions, everyone of them sang along to the National Anthem for their new (or old) homeland America. I'd almost say that those who looked the "newest" to our country took the greatest pride in supporting their adopted homeland.

We visited the different booths with displays of cultural clothing, food and trinkets and learned a little about the various countries and people. M finally got the African Shells Choker she'd been wanting for "years" and C and A picked up some cool stuff from the Machu Pichu table. But the highlight for the big kids was sampling the wares from the various food vendors. According to my son and husband, the Indian Flat Bread Taco was to die for and the "Real" Mexican Enchiladas were the best ever according to M.

Miss A, of course, chose to stick with American Nuggets and ate before the event while I was too afraid of getting Garlic and ended up eating the Breakfast of Champions at home later. Guess maybe A's food fears are from me. Yikes.

Next year, Miss A and I are gonna go out on a limb and try to eat dinner with the rest of the family. I think I'll start praying now that a Japanese restaurant will bring in sushi, rice and Saki!
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We call it Happy Friday

I know in some circles they call the day after Thanksgiving "Black Friday," but around our home its often refereed to as Fun Friday. In fact, the entire holiday weekend is filled with fun and traditions that we hold dear.
There is the annual trek to the Scandinavian Store for Christmas treats, lunch out at a favorite BBQ joint with the grands, normally a football game or two to watch while we knit, play checkers and giggle over silly stories from Daddy's Childhood. Then to top it off, we head to the largest Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and gaze in awe at how beautiful it looks. Miss A commented that she liked the tree best with her eyes half closed it was almost like it was rocket ship and firecrackers.
Maybe we should start a movement to change it's name to Fun Friday. Think of what that could do for the retailers too, happy and fun loving costumers are better spenders!!
Thursday, as we looked over the ads in the paper and "planned" our strategy for Friday morning, P started putting them in piles by opening time. He talked of splitting up, making a map of the city, the girls leaving at 2:00 a.m to get in line at Best Buy the boys leaving at three for Target. Miss A was getting all excited, "I've never been up at 2:00 a.m before!" Mr C heard that we'd meet for snacks.
My husband was loving it. Talking the big game. I hated to burst the kids bubble and tell them that we weren't really going. Dad wasn't really planning a strategy, he was just playing a game.
There would be no early rising, no snacks.
Not because we aren't buying Christmas presents this year or we don't love to save money. But rather we are both not willing to wait in line that long. We don't like crowds. It was gonna be cold and who needs to freeze to save $10. None of the stores were selling us the world so we didn't need to go.
They were disappointed at first until they realized that if they got up at 2:00 or 3:00 they would have been too exhausted to enjoy our real "Fun Friday" plans. I think they got the better "deal" in the end.
I know I did. I love the childhood wonder and awe at Christmas and Fun Friday just was the beginning!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Cornicopia

Thanksgiving Day at Nana and Papa's House
It's not really Thanksgiving in our family until we witness the traditional Thanksgiving Play put on by the cousins. Finally, Miss A is old enough to actually read the script. This year's play was all about our blessings of faith, family and country. Miss M helped to write the play. Mr. C was in charge of the Citizenship Test that we took at the end, and Miss A was in charge of leading us in the pledge. She was hoping to have a "hat of flags," but settled with each of us holding a flag and she held the biggest one of all.
There were crafts and puzzles and great fun at N & P's house. We were thrilled that L was home from college, and the my in laws from the windy city were able to make the trek to town, too. It wouldn't be family Thanksgiving without "all" of us at the table. We are especially thankful that we can all celebrate together, and while we miss having Grammy at our table, she's not forgotten. Just ask Miss A about her little pink Christmas tree in her room!! I know Grammy would be thrilled that her great granddaughter caught the "pink" gene.
I love that our Thanksgivings are about praising God for the bounty and resting. No hustle and bustle, no pressure to outdo or perform. Instead, it is just about spending time with the people we love. There is something to be said for just setting aside one Thursday in November to pause and be grateful and I love that we don't try to rush over it.
Thanksgiving Night we might have watched a football game, but I'm keeping my mouth shut about the outcome. You could say, however, that I'm not thinking my honey will be as excited about the bowl season as he has been in the past.

Love ya honey. There is always next year!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Trader Joe's Just the Beginning of the Fun

I spent the entire weekend away from the computer. In fact, except for maybe ten minutes, I did not touch the computer from Wednesday morning until this morning.

It was refreshing. Capturing all the fun will take several posts, so sit back and enjoy the week.

Thanksgiving Weekend was fantastic. Miss A summed it up best this morning when I woke her up (dragged her out of bed) and she said she didn't feel like getting up yet. Not only was she tired, she didn't want the fun to end!

Trader Joe's started off our fun on Wednesday. After years of longing for this fun retailer to come to our fair city, it's finally arrived. No longer do we have to wait for our visits to CA or Chicago to get in on the fun, whoop whoop. Yes the crowds was huge, but the kids had a blast going aisle by aisle to check out the loot.

This week, I'm going by myself. No grabby hands, no pleas for snacks, frozen treats, grapefruits, kiwi, two buck chuck. The last one was me. Mr. C got some ideas for stocking stuffers for Dad, Miss M convinced us to try veggie chips and Miss A discovered that there is something wrong with Green Bean casserole samples. "why did the ruin green beans with all that stuff on top, yuck!"

Let's just say on Thanksgiving, she ate turkey and plain baked potatoes and we counted that as a success.

Figuring that one "new" store wasn't nearly enough, we also ventured into Garden Ridge which is a store that left me a little confused about it's theme, but we still left with a new Christmas Tree.

After seventeen years, you could say that our Tree was getting a little worn. It shed more needles each year than our real tree outside does each fall. So now, we are the proud owners of G17. Yep the box had the number G17 on it and the kids all decided that not only was it fitting they would like to nickname the tree G17, too. Miss A even drew a picture of it yesterday with the G17 prominent.

Our new one is actually a little smaller, not as wide and looks more real than "fake" and to give it proper respect we've moved it into the Family Room. We can even turn on the lights with a foot petal. Technology, we so love you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

College Hockey from Miss A's Perspective

Saturday Night, we hit the ice! Really, we watched college hockey players skate across the ice from the comforts of the third row of the arena. You could almost feel the rattle in your teeth when the players bounced off the railings in front of us and one of us in the crowd might have even ducked and covered when a puck went flying. Who knew they had sky high nets in front!! Obviously, not me!

When my brother offered us tickets for a local college's hockey game, we jumped at the chance to take our youngest out on a date. Both of her older siblings were off with friends hanging out at volleyball game or watching a football game on TV. Miss A was all ours.
Now, I will admit I'm not much a hockey fan. I don't really get the game. When P and I were dating, he told me that he had tickets for a "semi pro game" to be played at an arena in town. We'd go out for dinner first and then take in the game. All through dinner I asked questions about the game, feigning interest in what was gonna happen next (even though deep down I'd probably would have rather taken in a movie).
"Will there be a lot of blood" "Do you think we'll see some fighting?" "Will the arena be cold, should I bring in my gloves?"
With every question, he looked at me like I was clueless (but in a very loving way, we were just dating of course) and said "no" "I don't think so" "that's up to you." Rather non committal if you ask me!
Arriving at the arena, I asked again if he thought that the refs would be calling a lot of penalties and throwing players out of the game. Not until I walked into the arena and saw the wood floor and the basketball hoops did I realize that we were not going to a hockey game, we were going to a basketball game.
No wonder he'd looked at me with such doubt!!
Saturday night's trip to the hockey game with Miss A was very different. Miss A was cheering like crazy for the team, she was thrilled to get Nachos with spicy cheese and Sprite to wash it down with. She loved the team mascot and the floating blimp that dropped prizes during breaks.
P got the biggest kick out of Miss A, however, when after cheering for the team and yelling their name initials numerous times, she asked " Now who is .....?"
Gotta love a girl that can cheer for anybody, even if she's clueless who they are! What a sport.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why We've Become the "Late" Family at Drop Off

I drive Miss A to school every morning and drop her off at the curb right outside the Kindergarten Doors. Some mornings, we are early and she stands outside and chats with her friends until the bell rings. Other mornings when I'm struggling to get Miss A out the door in time, we arrive seconds after the bell has rung and she just runs into the building.

Before you think that I'm the one running late, you should know that Miss A is the only child in our family who likes to sleep in. Only, however, on school days. Saturdays is any one's guess as to what time she will be up in the morning and Sunday for church is just like a school day and we drag her out of bed.

To keep this all in perspective, when C was going to Kindergarten at another school, we had a half hour drive and I volunteered to drive car pool because even though school started at 8:30 he and Miss M were always up at 6:30. Plenty of time in the morning to get ready for school.

When C and M were both at the elementary school, we'd arrive forty minutes early to do walking club a few times a week and the rest of the time at least thirty minutes early so they could enjoy their friends and chat before class.

I used to mock my friends who were just arriving at school as I was leaving. Those who were just leaving their warm garages after we'd walked the track a few times. Let's just say I don't do that anymore. I'm in the "late" club now!!

While Miss A would often tag along on those early morning drives in her Jammies, once she started going to preschool and now kindergarten, life in the morning changed. She doesn't want to get out of bed. She's still sound asleep at eight o'clock and school starts at 8:45. Now before you think we need to think about pushing her bedtime back earlier, it does not matter. She likes to sleep in the morning regardless of what time she went to bed the night before!!

All my dreams that Miss A and I would spend mornings reading books and fixing her hair all pretty have been thrown out the window. We are rushing to eat yogurt, cheese sticks and hoping that we can get a brush through her tangles without out tears.

While, in the past, I might have been frustrated and forced my other children to get out bed, I've learned its not worth the hassle. We always get there. She's never been late. Yet. She's happy and content to rush in the morning if that means a later wake up time.

Plus, every single morning she has time to say I love you Mom as she walks out the door of the van and always has time to remind me " don't forget to close my door, Mom." As if I ever have!!

Gotta love that girl!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How a Weekend Getaway Changed My Perception of Getaway!

My husband and I had the opportunity to get of town for a few days last week leaving the kids behind in my parent's capable hands.

When P first offered to take me along on a business trip, I scoffed. I thought of the huge responsibilities I'd be leaving behind; mainly the kids and their schedules. While the thought of getting away from it all really appealed to me, the destination really didn't. You see this wasn't a trip to NYC or San Fran. We weren't going to an all exclusive destination where we'd be pampered and dined.

My husband had a meeting in Central Indiana. Let that sink in a minute. It is in the middle of nowhere. No beach, no beautiful shopping centers, or romantic bed and breakfast spots. The weather would be the same as where we were leaving and, to top it off, we'd be driving.

Because of logistics and location, it made more sense on all levels to drive.

Until about three weeks ago, I wasn't even excited. While I'd give anything to get away with my honey without the kids, I thought the "other factors" such as the scenery, the destination, the fun were more important.

The closer we got to the actual trip, the more God started changing my perspective. I began to see this as time where we could talk uninterrupted for hours on end. No one would be vying for our attention, no listening ears trying to hear what we were talking about, no time constraints or "life" to deal with in between. No to do list that needed our attention or project that was waiting for us.

It was just us together in the car for 1600 miles (round trip). It was awesome. We talked, planned, laughed, and forgot about anything else but us and our family's future. It was just like the days when we were first married and nothing else got in our way of just hanging out together.

Sure, I would have loved to have gone to the beach or taken in the sights of an exotic location and, maybe soon, we'll get that chance again (like we did pre-kids), but for right now, it was perfect to drive along the highways of Illinois and Indiana and just lose ourselves in the harvested fields and red roofed barns.

We got to take one of our favorite nieces out to dinner as her college campus was a short distance away, we celebrated my father-in-law's birthday in person just one day before the actual date, I got a whole day to myself to sit at Panera and write, shop at the "mall," and just be alone. On the way home, we even got to see some sights in Chicago including IKEA and Land's End.

Did I mention that I knitted all the way along. I finished a quick scarf for a college aged friend, worked on the blanket I'm making Miss A and almost finished a scarf I'm making for my mother. In days of old I used to read in the car, but that doesn't make "talking" easy, but knitting on the way does! Love that P loves to drive!!

This weekend getaway with my husband was just what we needed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Boys Weekend at the Lake or Boys Will Be Boys

Boys Will Be Boys. Give them an opportunity to be outside in great fall weather and they will just be "boys." Last weekend, my husband took Mr. C and three of his dudes to the lake for the weekend. Hearing about all the fun I had a few weeks ago with the girls at the lake, C was convinced that it should be his turn to just "hang" with some friends. Dad was the hero when he said he'd take C and a few friends out Friday night and that they could spend the entire day Saturday doing whatever they wanted.

I told them about the great trail we'd found, the fun we had taking walks around the lake, and the perfect opportunity to just relax. But boys being boys, they played football almost all day. Outside on the sand. Football.

No walks in the leaves, no strolling through the woods in search of pine cones and great treasures. They played football and did a little fishing. They never ventured beyond the backyard except to partake of the Taco Bar that Dad fixed for lunch or to grab a few bottles of water.

Now, in my mind, they could have done this all at home in our backyard. But my husband quickly pointed out that it would not have been the same. At the lake, they had no outside pressures, no electronics pulling them away, no chores or homework calling their name. While they are not super athletes playing on real football teams, at the lake, they could pretend to be superstars. They were boys just hanging out. Football was what they love to do. They could just run and catch and tackle without pressure.

They got to be just boys having fun.

As my son enters into manhood and leaves behind his childhood a little bit more everyday, I'm grateful that he has still has friends that allow him to just have boyhood fun. I'm thankful that I have a husband who leaves behind the pressures of life and work for 24 hours to just be there for my son. What a blessing to see that boys will just be boys no matter the age!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tea Party Time

It's Tea Party time again at Nana's House. Miss A had her second annual Nana and Granddaughter Tea Party and invited four of her friends from Kindergarten. I can't really express how excited this young lady was to have this day come.

Miss A has been thinking of who to invite since almost the first day of school. She and Nana have been talking for weeks about the party, invitations, menu items, and what type of craft they should make. Once she made up her guest lists, there have been many "secret" conversations between these girls about the fun ahead.

I told Miss A that she had to be careful not to talk about the party in class, as not every girl would be invited, and we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. She was careful she said to only talk about at recess and then only when they were sitting in the tires and whispering.

The day of the party finally arrived on Wednesday and Miss A was so giggly that morning as we got ready for school. When Miss M and I arrived at the school doors at the end of the day, we were ready to take all 5 girls to Nana's House. The giggles and smiles were evident on all their faces. I'm not sure I've heard such high pitched laughter and giggles in my car in years.

Once at Nana's house, they got in their " dresses and hats" to be ready for Formal Tea. Miss M put on a hat and an apron and was ready to serve as Waitress Extraordinaire (a role both her brother and cousin have played in the past for her parties) Seeing these little girls all dressed up for the fun really makes you leap ahead in your mind to years down the road when these little girls will be young ladies.

Nana makes this event so special for the girls. Miss A and her little friends had a fabulous time. They learned a little about table manners, got to experience having English Tea Time, dressed up and acted like ladies, and had a blast. They made Thanksgiving centerpieces that were adorable and even had a chance to putt a little on papa's green. Not sure if that is part of the "traditional" English Tea, but they do golf over there.

One of Miss A's friends' cried when it was time to leave, she was having too much fun and wanted to stay. Miss A is already talking about next year's party and what they will do and who she wants to invite. I love her heart that she would really like to invite every little girl in her class, but knows that Nana can only handle so "many" girls at a time.

Tea Parties and Little Girls, is there anything better? I think not!

We Made Snakes

I'm not one who is by nature very fearful. I don't really worry. I'm relatively calm. There are, however, two things that I don't like: Snakes and Mice. Rodents of any kind really creep me out.

However, last Monday, I was surrounded by snakes. For our Girl Scout meeting this month, we made Draft Snakes out of girl's tights and rice. Perfect to put around door frames and windows to keep out the draft this winter. I'd found the information on-line and thought it would be a fun craft to work on together.

I found the perfect tights at Target; purple with black spots that looked almost snake-like. The girls thought they were adorable and I think they were a little disappointed that we would be cutting them up and not wearing them.

The girls had fun making the snakes, wearing them like a cobra around their neck, and envisioning scaring their younger siblings with the sight of the snake in their bedrooms. The funniest part was, when the girls walked into the room and saw the 10 huge bags of rice waiting for us to use, one girl asked if we were making Chinese Food for our snack!!

Gotta love girls. Love the fact that I "stole" this idea from the Internet and the girls thought I was so cool! Now, I just have to come up with an idea for a Christmas Present for the girls to make for their parents at our meeting next month. Any ideas?

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago today, November 6, 1993 at 10:00 in the morning, I married my best friend. The years have gone by in the blink of an eye, yet, in so many ways, it seems like just yesterday.

Looking at the pictures today in an old white photo album with sticky pages, I can't believe how young and innocent we were.
How grateful I am to have that photo of my grandparents standing beside us on that day. Today, all three of my grandparents are in Heaven.
On our first Anniversary, Paul and I returned to Zion Lutheran Church for Sunday morning worship. We sat by my grandparents who had been married over fifty years. Zion was the church that my parents and brother and sister-in-law were married and which my grandparents were long time members. It was the eve of Election Day 1994 and I was in the midst of working on a political campaign. Later that day, we would canvas our neighborhood for my candidate. I'm not sure Paul knew what he had signed up for the year before!
Those first few years of career building and life building had so many joys and sorrows, but they build in us a solid foundation of faith and love. Raising a family and "doing life together" have brought more joys and heartbreak, but having Paul walk beside me has made it all worth it.
Thanks honey for 17 great years. I can't wait to see what the next two decades are like.
Love You A & F.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today is my first Thankful Thursday and I can't think of a better month to get started than November, the month of Thanksgiving.
I really have so much to be thankful for everyday. Thankful for the great country I live in, the freedom I enjoy, but take so much for granted. The Lord Almighty who alone is worthy of all my thanks. My wonderful family. A husband who gets me. Who makes me giggle and laugh especially on election nights! Three beautiful children who bring me such joy and make my life worthwhile even when I can't stand picking up their messes or cleaning up yet anther spill.
So much to be grateful for everyday, because really it is the "everyday" that really makes me realize my blessings.
Waking up this morning in a semi-warm home (sorry honey, I know you think the temperature is fine-I'm always freezing), making breakfast, sending three sleepy eyed children off to school, going to yoga and then coming home to clean the house for company this weekend, running errands and then going to see my middle child in her debut theatrical performance. Little things that have a big impact on me.
The small little things that add up to the tremendous. It really is the beauty of the little. The joy of the mundane.
Today, I'm thankful for those things I often overlook. Thankful for the joy of the moment. To help me remember these little moments this month, I'm keeping a Gratitude Journal for the rest of the month and I'm also putting a gratitude jar in our kitchen for the whole family to write down things for which we are thankful today, tomorrow, and all the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
Thank you God for all these blessings.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall Family Fun

Last Halloween post I promise. Jeez, for a girl who doesn't like the holiday, I've written about it and taken more pictures of it then I would have thought possible.

This weekend, the girls carved their pumpkins. Dad was thrilled with the little carving kit that I found at the grocery store. Who knew its claim that "works better than kitchen knives" would prove to really be true! Miss A wanted a beard with her pumpkin face, Miss M did all her own cutting, and Dad did the yucky job of digging the pulp and seeds out.

We tried roasting the seeds, but it wasn't a stellar performance by the mother, so alas, no pictures.

Nana did present the best looking pumpkin cake ever, complete with a ice cream cone stem! Way to go Nana. The girls loved it and, when Mr. C returned from church camp, he was duly impressed with your baking skills. At least once, I admitted I hadn't made it myself.

Mr C arrived in town Sunday at 5:00 p.m. and was just in time to join up with his buddies and spray paint their hair green alien style. He did admit that the alien glasses didn't help his vision much! I love the originality of the costume and the fact that it involved no blood, gore, or scary masks. Guess this year he left the blood up to his youngest sister. (That's a joke Miss A. we love you!)

Miss M was trick or treating with her posse of girls and she too made up her own costume. "The Thing" also known as the NU quarterback/ballerina with zebra leggings and high fashion sunglasses. She was beyond thrilled with her look so we were too!! Miss M had a great time at a Harvest Pot Luck before hitting the streets and loved that she scored 6 full-sized candy bars and the most original prize; an organic pop tart. No one has been brave enough yet to try it.

I'm just happy that now we don't have to be crafty or creative with costumes for another whole year!!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Pinkalious Takes a Tumble

Poor Pinkalious. Miss A had an extra stop last night on her Trick or Treat Route; the Urgent Care Office.
Let's just say that Pinkalious was sporting the bloody face of a vampire for a little bit after a tumble on a front porch split open her left eyebrow. Dad and Miss A were having a wonderful time walking the neighborhood with her good friend K when all of a sudden she tripped and fell on a kind older women's front porch and let out a scream.
According to Dad, she was a real trooper. The homeowner got out her first aid kit and wet towel and once they stopped the bleeding Miss A was convinced she could keep on going. She wanted to finish her trick or treating! The real tears came when after a few more houses Dad said it was time to head off to the hospital.
Tears were aplenty as I drove her to the Urgent Care facility. (Poor Dad felt bad that she wanted Mom to accompany her on the trip; but when you are hurt, you want your Mom!) Thankfully, a call to Nana about a upcoming Tea Party settled her down a little. Miss A was very worried that she would have to spend the night at the hospital and would miss school on Monday.
The Urgent Care was completely empty and we were in and out in about 45 minutes. A little cold press to stop the bleeding and numb the spot followed by a Durabound strip to close the gap on her eyebrow and we were back in business. I got such a giggle out of the fact that as I was sitting next to her on the bed stroking her hair and singing "You are My Sunshine," she kindly asked me to stop stroking her hair-it pulled on her eye too much.
What a trooper!! This is a girl who takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Back at home, we made a quick trip up and down and street and, even those neighbors who had already closed up, reopened to our bandaged little Pinkalious. She probably scored more treats than she would have before. Dad and Miss A even returned to the scene of the "crime" and reassured the nervous grandmother that she was alright!

I told Miss A that our last time getting durabound was 10 years ago on Father's Day when Mr. C ran into a wall with his head and cut it open. Miss M was just a month old and it was our second holiday of her life that her parents had spent in the ER. On Mother's Day 2000, she was the patient with a bad case of jaundice.

Let's just hope the rest of the 2010 Holiday Season is a little calmer, and with less blood and drama!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kindergarten Party Time: Why I Love Being A Room Mother

Miss A has the cutest group of kids in her kindergarten classroom. They are so fun to be around and I love to see how great they all get along. The girls in the class are always hugging each other, helping each other, and of course giggling. A's teacher really has a great group.
I love being the Room Mother/Party Coordinator especially with this age of kids. They love everything you plan and think the party is the "best ever" with very little effort or fanfare. I'll admit, however, that I am not a real fan of Halloween. It might seem odd then that I'm in charge of the Halloween party, but in reality its all part of my plan. What I really don't like is the "spooky side" of this "holiday" and, as such, I plan a party that is really just a glorified fall harvest party with costumes. I wrote a post last year where I went into details about why I do this if you want to read more in detail.
For Miss A's first elementary school party, there was Musical Pumpkins, Sack Races, a Class Photo and Photo Frame Craft, Sucker Ghosts and the M & M Walk. I even learned to download music from itunes to a CD filled with the Monster Mash, Ghostbusters and the theme song to the Adams Family. Nothing involving goblins, witches, or scary faced monsters.
The biggest joy of the afternoon was watching Miss A just beam in her Pinkalious Costume while she jumped with joy cheering her friends on in the sack races, held hands with her best friends during the parade, and just loved the cookies and juice.
A perfect way to kick off a fun weekend.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Girl Scout Cabin Camping at the Lake

We had an excellent time "roughing it" this weekend at the Lake. I realize for most this is hardly camping, but for us it's just perfect. Mr. C went so far as to say this is was little more than a glorified sleepover party for Miss M. It really doesn't matter though as the Girl Scouts had a rocking good time.
Only 4 of our 7 girl scouts were able to join us on this trip to the Lake so we've already declared this a yearly adventure. Weather predictions for the weekend were bleak, but God was good (OK, He is good all the time, but you know what I mean) and the cool crisp air was just perfect for walks outside. Deep down I think maybe the weatherman was predicting storms so we wouldn't have to consider sleeping outside!!
Friday night, we finalized our plans for earning the Cooking Badge, Outdoor Creativity Badge, and Exploring the Outdoors. The girls were thrilled that they would be doing most of the cooking on Saturday and I cracked up over some of their perceptions about food safety, kitchen cleanliness, and nutrition. I won't be tattling on their parents, but I'd say that only M lives in house that has a resident food patrol member. I won't be going over to leftovers at any one's house anytime soon.
After a walk in the "dark" around the lake, the girls enjoyed a movie and were in bed by 11:30! See no sleepover drama or all nighters in this group! Love it. My "wingman" and I enjoyed the fact that we didn't have to argue with anyone about bedtime. However, they are a bunch of early risers.
Saturday morning, we took another nature walk which according to some meant "torture" as we were walking for more than an hour! Of course, included in the adventure was a trip to the marina for some candy. You can't go to the lake with a snack at the Marina. Then it was back to the house for "Cooking 101" where the girls made the entire lunch of spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, french bread, and frozen fruit pie. It was fun to see the girls get all excited about cooking, making up a restaurant, dividing tasks, and even helping with the clean up. I think we have some professional chefs in our future.
The afternoon involved nature arts & crafts, a long walk through actual woods, and a journey to a nearby river and railroad track. I loved that the railroad bridge over the river had graffiti all over it, most of it clean and colorful and I took some great pictures of the girls with this backdrop. All the girls even came home with Railroad spikes we'd found under the bridge.
What I loved the most however was how well the girls got along. They are all "friends," but they don't all buddy around together at school, yet on this camping trip they were all the best of friends. No drama. No teaming out and leaving someone out. No jealousy. Just pure acceptance of each other.
They were in essence living out the Girl Scout Law to "be a sister to every Girl Scout."
What a blessing it is to have seen these girls through the past six years, I know God has big plans for each of them and I thrilled to walk along side them on their journey.

Keeping The Promise

I had promised Miss A that we would go to the Train Museum on a day off from school. I thought she would forget, not so much. On Friday, I kept my promise. Off we went to walk through a Union Pacific Train, "ride" the streetcar just like Grammy, and just enjoy the morning together. Miss A even got to eat her lunch at the Soda Fountain and enjoy an All American favorite, the hot dog!!
I loved that a Conductor was sitting in the first train. He was dressed in the uniform and more than willing to tell us all about the "Train Experience." He asked Miss A where she would like to go and without hesitation she said "Chicago." The Conductor gave her a ticket stamped with round trip fare to Chicago. She was thrilled.
Walking through the train like we have dozens of times before, it was as if she saw it with new eyes. She was picking out the cabin we should occupy on the way to Chicago. She wondered if we should get a "sleeper," but worried about falling off the top bunk. I told her that was what the brown "Cage" was for, but she wasn't too convinced. We giggled over the pop up toilet and the fact that when not in use it's a seat. How crazy is that!
My list of things to do that Friday Morning was long, I was heading off to "camp" with the girl scouts later that afternoon, but as we walked around the museum holding hands, giggling and just enjoying ourselves that list was non existent in my mind. You know what, I accomplished everything I needed to do with time to spare and have memories of our morning that are stored away in my heart forever.
Gotta love keeping promises and reaping the rewards!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just Like Old Times

Today was just like old times according to Miss A. No school for elementary kids meant that she got to hang out in her pj's all morning. That was the first thing she declared this morning; "It's Pajama Day Mom, just like the old days!"

We've missed each other. After spending six years together at home, it's hard to adjust to all day school, for both of us. Yesterday was parent teacher conferences and she's excelling in school, making great friends and loving school. Every scrap of paper in our house right now is covered with words. Miss A copies titles of books, newspaper headlines, and the grocery list just for fun. She loves words; reading them, writing them, and even putting them to music. Yep, she's been busy composing songs on the piano and writing lyrics to go along.

I love this age. The thrill of learning is bursting out of every fiber of her being. But that doesn't mean Kindergarten hasn't been an adjustment for all of us. Thursday nights are meltdown time. She's crabby, overly stimulated and ready for the weekend. At soccer games on Thursdays, she barely runs across the field, but come Saturday morning she's a speed demon! Some days I can just tell she's mentally and physically exhausted.

That's why this long weekend is a gift. We get to enjoy each other, just us. I was wishing earlier this week that the elementary and junior high conferences were the same week (the big kids have off next Thursday/Friday), but now I see it as a great thing. Extra time with A and then next week M & C and I can go hang out, too.

Friday, we are off to the Train Museum and maybe lunch with Dad before I head out of town with the Girl Scouts. I just hope that she'll always treasure the "old days" like I do.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Girl Scout in the Family

Finally. That's what Miss A has been saying all week, finally it was time for her Scout Meeting. After years of watching other members of our family put on uniforms, sell popcorn and cookies and have a blast with their friends at troop/den/pack meetings, Miss A finally got to have her "own."

Our little Daisy Girl Scout was beyond excited. Having a troop meeting with 14 little Kindergarten girls wearing the blue smock was the "best ever" according to Miss A. The fact that her mother is not the leader is, in her mother's opinion, the best. I'm thrilled that two mothers stepped up to lead this lively group of girls and love that I can come as an observer and helper.

I loved the fact that Miss A already knows the Girl Scout Promise. Guess you could say she's been at enough meetings to have memorized both the promise and the sign. I'm just glad that the "tag along" Girl Scout now gets to be one all on her own. It was fun to watch these little girls get all excited tracing their bodies on butcher paper, giggle when they introduced themselves, and have a blast doing the friendship squeeze and sing the Daisy Girl Scout song.

Six years ago, it was Miss M sitting in her blue smock and smiling and giggling with her little friends. I so remember the first meeting and the feeling in my stomach that I might throw up knowing all 16 little girls were counting on me to lead them on the Girl Scout path. Where has the time gone? This weekend, I'll be taking 5 of those original Daisy girls to the Lake for the weekend on an indoor camping trip. We are a little smaller of a group, a little less awed by the songs, hand squeeze and the snacks; but we are also closer, stronger, smarter and lot further on the Girl Scout path. These girls have been real sisters to each other and their leader is all the better for the experience.

Miss M and her best buddy on a camp out last spring

How I pray that Miss A's adventure in scouting is as great an experience as her sister, brother and mother's have been.
Mr. C at Scout Quest this Fall

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've Written Ten Posts in My Head

I can't believe it's been another week between postings. I really thought that being home alone all day that I'd get a ton done and I would probably post every other day.

In reality, I'm never HOME. Really. In the past week, I've been "on the go" constantly and by the time I get back home my chore and to do list is too long to get on the computer and write a sentence that makes any sense. (Promise me that normally I do talk in complete sentences and make some sense, maybe even make you chuckle a little-if not don't tell me!)

So here's a synopsis of the posts from last week in bullet format:

* Play dates are the best even when you are "schooled" by the kindergarten girl on how to run them.

Miss A had her first Kindergarten Play Date after school on Wednesday. It was the highlight of her year thus far. Her adorable little friend K came home with us from school and those two little girls played with everything in our house. There was not a barbie, American Girl Doll or polly pocket that did not have their little hands all over them. A and K were so cute. When I told K she'd have to come back again, her response "I'll have to check with my mother on that!" I'm not sure if that means she's the social secretary of the family or she had to report in on what happened.

I loved how on the way to school that day when A and I were talking over the plan, she attempted to "school" me on how exactly I should get ready for Miss K. I should pick up A's room, have a snack ready and by all means make Miss M take the late bus home from play practice. According to A, " there is no reason M can't take the late bus home, C has taken it before after a club meeting, so she can to." Guess you could say she did not want me to pick M up from school.

* Jr High Field Trips are different from Kindergarten in many many ways!

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to chaperone on the 8th grade Field Trip to a nearby Camp. The day was scheduled for Team Building. There were trust walks, paddle boat rides, the human knot game and brainstorming games that took teamwork and cooperation. Let's just say that I was very impressed with C's group and their ability to work together. Team Building was fun.

When I told Mr. C that I was going tag along on the event, his only request was that I not sit by him on the school bus to and from the camp. When I told him that Miss A and I had sat together on the way to the pumpkin patch and held hands, he just rolled his eyes at me. Oh, the difference between a teenager and kindergartner. Needless to say I sat with a "girl" on the bus!!

The second major difference between these two field trips is that you can "totally" tell that the 8th graders dress themselves. Let's just say that there were many girls in "shorty mcshort shorts" who were freezing in the morning when it wasn't even 50 degrees out. Hello Mothers!!

Enough said.

Finally, it was pure joy to this mother's heart to tag along and see Mr. C in his element. He was funny, considerate, kind and very respectful to his classmates and teachers. He might not be in the "in crowd" (which I'm secretly glad about), but he is well liked by everyone. He's funny, smart and down right adorable. It was fun to watch, observe and interact with him in everyday world. Love that kid!!

* Marriages can survive upsets; Time and Time Again.

For those who don't know me in real life, you might not know that last week was rivalry week in our house. My husband's Alma mater played football against my Alma mater this past Saturday. That's right it was the Scarlet and Cream against the Burnt Orange and it was billed in these parts as the game of the decade!! You could say my team was out for revenge or payback for the last time we played against each other and "they" won!!

Walking across campus last Saturday me in Red and P in Burnt Orange, it was sight to see the faces of people. Really. Together. Are you sure? It was a great game. Sorta. They won. We stunk. It was after the game, however, that the people we came into contact with were the funniest. No less than 4 people asked us if "we'd stick it out with each other." Guess they couldn't believe that a Husker and a Longhorn could live together in harmony. We can. We've had what my husband calls Football Detente for the past 16 years-notice one less year than we've been married.

We won't talk about the first year!! (or the couch that someone might have slept on)

Next year my team is leaving the Big 12 to join the Big 10-don't ask. It does, however, mean that P can cheer for the Huskers at every game. No more rivalries!

So now, I'm pretty much caught up to this week, with any luck maybe I'll post again tomorrow and will only have a few days to remember. I've been home almost all of today so either that means I won't have much to talk about or I'm catching up on my to do list at home!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Funny Things I've Heard Lately

Today is pajama day at the Elementary School in honor of Red Ribbon Week. The goal is to encourage kids to say no to drugs. I remember when Mr. C's class had this activity in either 1st or 2nd grade and he came home petrified. He needed to stop taking his allergy medicine . "It's say no to drugs week, Mom I'm not suppose to take any drugs." He was certain that included his favorite drug of choice; Allegra. Hmm, I wonder where his littlest sister gets her "literal thinking."

This morning, when Miss A was changing out of her nightgown to get dressed for school ( no I don't let them wear the pj's they slept in, gross!) in her favorite fluffy purple pj's, we laughed that we were getting dressed for bed, no school, no bed. Miss A wondered what about the kids who forgot to wear pj's? It's not like they can go to the office and ask to "borrow a pair of pj's for the day" she commented. No, it's not honey.

Last week, when I was picking Mr. C and his best buddy Mr. J up from school to take them to the golf course, Mr. J hopped into the car wearing a shirt from a high school in town that we are looking at for next year. I asked Mr. J if that meant he was going there for sure. "No it was just clean" was his response. Mr. C noticed that that there was a food stain in the middle of the shirt, and said it's not clean anymore. Mr. J's response cracked me up "Well forgive me for eating!"

Miss A and I were at the Library last week to pick up a few books for both of us; she's becoming quite the reader and we were looking for a couple of short easy books for her to dig into. The library shares the building with an elementary school and a community center so there is always a lot of hustle and bustle around. On this evening, there was a martial arts class out in the commons area. The kids were probably around 4 or 5 years old. Miss A was fascinated watching them show off their skills.

As we left with our books in hand, Miss A asked a few questions about the martial arts class, what it was called, why they wore those "outfits" and finally "who do kids that age kill?"

Guess in her mind they were learning the karate kicks for defense and killing. We had a little talk about karate as a training and exercise program. At least we did right after I silently laughed my head off!

Finally, Miss M's girl scout troop had a meeting yesterday after school. As her leader, I gave her permission to skip Improvfest practice to attend. Really, I told her with only 7 girls she had no choice and I'm her mother. Turns out that she was missing a Shakespeare performance of Romeo and Juliet which was taking place in the cafeteria right below us. Looking through the huge glass window, the girls watched a few moments and then Miss M said, "well, I guess at least in Girl Scouts I don't have to watch people kissing in big fancy costumes and speaking lines I can't even understand, right mom?" Yeah that's always my goal at girl scouts; no kissing and speaking words that make sense!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Race Begins Again: Amazing Race

We love Sunday nights around here. After a great day of worship, rest, and usually a few chores or softball/baseball games, we are ready to kick back and watch some great television. You know the kind you can watch with your entire family and not blush or cringe or worse yet, shake your head in disbelief and walk away.

Around here, we love Amazing Race It's fun, educational, laughable and for the most part family friendly. I've waxed on in the past about why we are such big Amazing Race fans and how we cheer each team to victory, especially our "own teams.

This year, we had a NFL draft of sorts to pick our teams. Miss A had watched the first episode with her Nana and came up with her list of who she thought each team should "go" to, along with "names for teams." Once the rest of our family watched the episode Monday night (love you DVR) with Miss A sitting on her hands and zipping her lip, we had our little Draft.

You see, while some of us would be willing to just draw names out of a hat and take our chances, others are a little more set on who they think they should have. Who knew team color and cuteness played such a factor in ability to race around the world!

This year we compromised. OK, really we always let Miss A win and now Mr C and Miss M are catching on and making demands themselves. Come on people, shouldn't the parents get to "win" once in awhile? But, I digress.

After pulling names out of a hat, we allowed "Free Agents" to be traded. You can read here; the good teams went to the children. In other words, Miss A, Miss M and Mr C all got exactly who they wanted and the parents were stuck with the leftovers.

Just to prove my point, one of my teams has already been eliminated. Of course, it was the restaurant I was most excited to go to!! Let's just say next season, I'm stacking the deck in my favor so don't tell anyone.

I now present Amazing Race Season 17: Our Teams -everyone gets two teams

Miss A: Katie and Rachel-The Volleyball Players
Our most favorite Japanese Restaurant ( yes this place won before, but not with her)

Connor & Jonathan- Team Glee
Hy Vee Pizza ( yes it's a grocery store, but she LOVES it!)

Miss M: Nat & Kat- The Lady Doctors
Local Tex/Mex Restaurant with a Homemade Tortilla Machine

Gary & Mallory- Father & Daughter (she's a former Pageant Girl)
The Pizza Place Takeout and Family Movie Night

Mr. C : Michael & Kevin: Father & Son ( C thinks the son is really smart)
A New Sushi Restaurant ( Miss A hopes they have rice!)

Nick & Vicki: The Tattoo Couple (* story to follow)
A Dive Taco Joint near downtown-great food, seedy area

P: Chad & Stephanie: The Cute Stupid Couple ( Dad always gets this "group")
A Family Owned Diner-With Great Hot Beef Sandwiches

Brook & Claire: The QVC Hosts ( same theme as team #1 - just best friends)
A Bohemian/German Restaurant -known for Dumplings and Kraut

J: Andie & Jenna: Birth Mom and Daughter-Just reunited
Thai Restaurant They were eliminated this week

Jill & Thomas: Newly Dating Couple
BBQ & Blues Joint - I love their red cabbage slaw, it's to die for!

* Nick and Vicki the Tattoo Couple in episode one were complete idiots. I hate to use that word, but there is no other word as strong to describe how they were acting. I told the kids that the reason they were not "too smart" was because with each tattoo a bit of your brain cells escaped out our body. They totally bought the idea!!

To prove my point, when Nick and Vicki checked in the pit stop at the end of the race, the Host asked them what country they were in and Vicki said; "London." Phil asked her to repeat herself, she said " Yes, the Country of London. " Phil said " Oh, yes the country of London."

Needless to say we were rolling on the floor laughing.

We can't wait to watch the Amazing Race this year!