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!