Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sledding: A sport where the goal is to leave with all your limbs and teeth in place

Christmas came and went so fast this year.  I think it's because school got out on Friday and Christmas was the following Monday. Normally, we have days between the start of Winter Vacation and the celebration of Christmas that we get to do a few of our "fun things."  The fun this year was that we got to have Christmas right away and then we got plenty of days left to enjoy our new toys, watch movies, stay up late, and do some family fun activities.

Unlike last year when there was no snow all winter, this year we celebrated a "White Christmas" allowing us to do some fun things outside.  When we heard a few friends were heading out to a state park to go sledding the Sunday between Christmas and New Years, we knew this was a perfect time to whip out the snow pants and sleds.  Of course when someone in the family grows seven inches in a year; it's hard to still fit into size 16 boys snow pants.  

Being the economical mother that I am,we purchased some heavy duty athletic pants and had Mr C layer!  I'm too cheap to buy snow pants at a sporting goods store when who knows if we'll have snow again this winter or if Mr C will grow another few inches this winter!   Thankfully, Mr C is enough of a sport to just go along.

The snow which had been on the ground for over a week, created a sledding hill that was part ice and part patted down snow. Perfect for a fast trip down the hill.  Within minutes of arriving, the kids were down the hill, laughing and squealing with delight!  Someday, I'm going to have to take them to Colorado for some winter skiing which is their mother's favorite sport.

It was a perfect day.  Everyone was having a blast; Mr C even joined his youngest sister on the sled for a few trips down the hill.  Miss M and P were having races down the fast short hill.  According to both Miss M and Miss A, this would have been the best day ever if only there was a quicker way to get up the hill than carrying your sled all the way.

The only thing missing according to the kids was a cup of Hot Chocolate to top off the day.  Next time, we'll know to bring our own Thermos.  I guess having hot beverages at a toboggan run is a little too much for a state park.  Thankfully, Dad saved the day later by treating us to Pizza!

The best part however is that we all came home with all our limbs still in place and with no injuries.  While sledding is not a contact sport or something you normally consider to be injury inducing; there is a little fear involved in hurling your body down a snow covered hill on a little piece of plastic.

At least that was my perspective while I sat in the craft hut and knitted away.  I did however venture out to take a few photos!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gingerbread Making: Real Personalities Come Out

It's been a long time since we've made a Gingerbread House around here.  There is a reason for that and his name is Roto Rooter.  You see long, long ago and far away or a few years back depending on your perspective, I decided it was OK to take the unused  "frosting" from the Gingerbread Kit and throw it down the kitchen sink.  I figured we didn't need it, I wanted to clean up the mess, and it was only frosting!

Let's just say that it was more like wallpaper paste. Glue.  Not something that I would recommend you throw down the disposal the day before Christmas Eve.  At least not if you hope to use your kitchen sink again without first calling in the professionals to snake your drain.

Lesson Learned. When a ten dollar kit turns into a two hundred dollar plumber visit you become a little gun shy of walking that road again.

As a result, my children have been deprived of making a Gingerbread House for the past several years.  I decided this year I would change that.  We'd set up strict guidelines for how to make the house, how to dispose of the frosting (thankfully this kit came with less gunk so not as much waste) and we discussed how we would not touch the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink or any running water or drain that entire afternoon.  Finally, there would be no telling dad about the project until it was successfully completed.

A little overboard? Maybe, but that's how we roll around here, go big or go home.  At least, I was willing to attempt the making of the house

It's funny how in the process of making this gingerbread house my children's unique skills and personalities shined. Mr C was in charge of construction (using that engineering mind) Miss A was in charge of getting the frosting in place and lining up the candy for the decorations( using both the creative and the organizational skills) and Miss M was most interested in the decorations and design (the artist and interior design elements).   Using all their gifts and skills together they created a masterpiece.

However when the final product was revealed they all joined together in their design to Deconstruct the House and eat their creation.  What?  I couldn't believe it, here I was thinking we'd have a fun decoration to look at for a few weeks and all they wanted was to eat it while it was still fresh.

Let's just say we compromised and they had it "parts" of it as an after dinner treat that night.  I might be a rule follower, but I know how to have fun too.  Oh, and my husband wanted to try a piece of the roof!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Welcome Mister Mustache: Our New Family Member

I think Miss A might have woken up on the day after Christmas more excited than Christmas Morning.  She was ready to go to the pet store bright and early to pick up the newest member of the family. A Beta Fish formally known as Mister Mustache.

Miss A had been begging for a family pet for months, maybe even years.  I'll admit I'm the hold out. I don't like cats, I'm allergic to dogs and I'll never allow anything in my house that looks like a rodent.  Remember my rules; No Cats, Bats or Rats.  We've been down the road of fish before back when Mr C was but a wee little lad.  I think we went through no less than a half dozen fish before finally giving into the idea that we are not pet people.

By the end of first attempt at owning a fish, Mr C was so use to seeing the fish floating at the top that he learned to flush them away all on his own.  Of course, Mr C was only about five at the time meaning that Miss A has never lived with a pet.  According to her, she's the only child in all of second grade without a pet to talk about at school.

We arrived at Pet Smart at 10:00 ready to spend our gift card for a fish and supplies. Thankfully, we'd already bought the fish tank and prepped it with treated water the night before.  The process of adopting a fish is not slow.  There was much deliberation over male vs female, bright colored and active vs exotic and slow until finally we'd picked our favorite.

Mister Mustache.  

After the bumpy ride home, we released him into our habitat and within minutes he looked happy.  Miss A would periodically check on him throughout the day and talk to him about what sights and sounds he might be hearing.  She even wrote him a note and asked him a few questions, but as of yet he's not responded.  Maybe Mr Mustache is a little shy!

Who knows how long this adventure in pet ownership will last or if we'll be on a 3rd or 4th generation of fish in a short while, but for now all is well.  I will say however that Miss A has a great attitude about the fish. She's willing to feed him and change the tank and always talks to him in the morning.  However, she does a short list of names for subsequent fish ready in case.

Maybe when Miss M and Mr C are off to college, I'll be willing to give in on a dog; I just wouldn't count on it!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Serving on Christmas

This year our family wanted to "do something" a little different with our Christmas Day.  After celebrating Christmas Eve with my family and having our own Christmas at home on Christmas Morning, we wanted to spend a little time that day spreading a little Christmas Cheer.  Our kids are at the perfect age to serve and give back so after much searching for both a need/ fit in our community, we were lead to the Rainbow House.  Our local Children's Hospital operates the home for families to stay while their child is being treated at the Hospital.

Our job for Christmas Day was to provide a Special Breakfast for the Guests (maybe up to about 35 people) and then to come to house at lunchtime to help serve and prepare the special Christmas Luncheon.  Another family had taken on the job of providing the meal, but they were not able to come and serve so this was a perfect introduction for us.

Between my mother and I, we brought three pans of Pioneer Women's Cinnamon Rolls, 2 pans of Mom's Famous Pecan Rolls, and a box of Panera Scones.  Normally, the guests dine on cereal and toast for breakfast (a take and go option), but wanted to bring in something fun for Christmas Morning.  It was fun to think that they were eating the same breakfast treats my family was having that day.

When we arrived on Christmas Day to begin preparation for the luncheon, the staff was so friendly and helpful.  Within no time, Miss A and Nana were setting up the tables with adorable Candy Cane Reindeer, Miss M and Mr C were getting the food in oven, and P and my Dad were carving the meat for the meal.  There was a little something for everyone to do.  We had poor Miss A wear a mask since she'd had a cough for few days!

We had such fun getting the Christmas Meal all ready for the residents and loved the chance to talk with a few of the Moms and Dads that are staying at the Rainbow House.  What a blessing this House is for these parents.  It is one less thing to worry about during a stressful season of life.

We've already decided we are going back next year for Christmas Day and this time we are bringing the meal too!  I think the girls and Nana have some ideas for some Christmas Table Decorations we want to make, the boys are thinking they might have to invest in a smoker so we too can bring a smoked Turkey, and I'm just grateful that God has blessed me with three healthy kids that can serve in this way.

Christmas 2012: Ponderings vs Photographing

It's funny.  This is my first Christmas with my new fancy camera and I have less pictures than ever to show for it.  Part of this is due to the fact that the girls took turns over the weekend suffering from a cold and cough meaning a few of our plans for fun were postponed and the rest is because I was too busy trying to enjoy the moment rather than capture it on film (memory card?)

These years with kids in our house and the hustle and bustle of a teenager, tween, and elementary kid are fleeting.  I'm beginning to cherish the "moments" more and try to be like Mary and ponder them more in my heart.  My husband commented that our gifts under the tree are less toys and games and more clothes and electronics.  Miss A may never be allowed to grow up as we just love to see the Barbies and American Girl doll items unwrapped!  She still squeals with delight when she sees that Santa brought her the Guitar Stand she desperately wanted.

I don't want to forget that wonder and excitement for each part of the Christmas season.  She loves every moment from the putting up of the Christmas Tree to the Carols being played on the radio to driving around looking at lights.  Sure Miss M and Mr C still love those things too, but its more of a grown up appreciation rather than a childlike wonder.  I've caught each of them having moments of child like awe and been grateful that they still have the joy and peace that can only come at Christmas.

As I told my husband, the difference between little kids and teens is their willingness to just bask in the joy and get all caught up in the excitement.  That and that cost of their "wants!"

It's so easy in the midst of celebrating the season to lose grip on being calm and still.  That is what this time of year is really suppose to do for us help us by helping us to "ponder anew the wonder of the manger."  How I want to just get caught up in the joy!  So that's what I did on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. When we busy celebrating with family and unwrapping all the gifts, I tried to capture in my heart and mind the excitement and the joy the recipient had in receiving the gift.

I don't think I can easily forgot the joy on Mr C's face when he opened his last gift and saw that his parents finally gave into all the "subtle" hints about the XBox he wanted or Miss M's face when she opened a sparkly blue Nook case and realized that she was getting a Nook this year thinking that even if Santa didn't come through her parents did!

Blessed beyond measure.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to our Favorite Japanese Restaurant

While it might be crazy to mourn the closing of a restaurant, that's exactly what we are in midst of doing in our family.  As a child, my family didn't go out too eat very often.  It was only special occasions like birthdays.  In fact, the rule in our family was that you could have a birthday party every other year and on the off year you got to choose the restaurant of your choice and go out for dinner with the family.

Without fail on my birthday, I would choose a Japanese Restaurant where you sat Tatami Style and they prepared the food in front of you at the table.  It was a true dinning experience.  

When my husband and I were first dating, I recommend that we "try out this Japanese Restaurant" I'd heard about.  He claims it was a test.  I think I was only trying to see if he'd like it.  We ate at a normal table and while we ordered Beef Sukiyaki it wasn't the entire experience, but he loved it.  At the end of the meal, P suggested that next time we get a Tea Room!  That might have been when I knew he was the "one."  (OK, maybe there was a slight test)

Over the years, we've gone to Mt Fuji to celebrate the big moments of our lives.  Our first Valentine's Day as a married couple, the Christmas we were pregnant with Mr C, birthdays big and small like my 30th and Paul's 40th and Mr C's 12th.  We've taken friends, watched my mother in law almost fall through the Tea Room Divider, and celebrated with our families. Mt Fuji was always on the Amazing Race restaurant list and we even celebrated there twice!

Sadly, the restaurant is in an older part of town and with tons of competition from other "Ethnic Restaurants" in town, they are closing down at the end of the month.  While they will be open for big parties and the Mai Tai Lounge will remain open, it won't be an option for just our family.  When I heard the news, I might have teared up just a little.  

Of course, we couldn't say goodbye without a farewell dinner to celebrate.  My parents and our family enjoyed a great evening in a Tea Room complete with fans, Mai Tai's, and Beef Sukiyaki.  The place was buzzing with people and the service was a little slow meaning we got to enjoy a very leisurely dinner.  It might not have been picture perfect; Miss A was not feeling well, the food was slow in coming, and I forgot to get that group picture I meant to take. But it was a fun evening nonetheless and a trip down memory lane.

Saying goodbye to tradition and memories is hard, but it's a good reminder that making them in the first place is worth the effort while the time and money spent to create them pays great dividends.

Goodbye Mt Fuji; taking our shoes off and sitting on the ground to eat fabulous food wouldn't be the same without you!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow Day Fun

We finally had a Snow Day.  Well at least the girls got a snow day, poor Mr C still had school!  According to C, his was the only school in a four state radius that had school on Thursday though I'm not sure his information is completely accurate.  Thankfully, with a little pre planning between us and the school, Mr C was spending the night at school on Wednesday Night when the Blizzard (Winter Storm Draco) blew through dropping about 9 inches of snow and causing much blowing and drifting.

The only problem with the plan was that Mr C's school lost electricity at about 8:00 p.m. meaning they were working on a generator that heat, but didn't give them much "power."  By early morning, they were taking Final Exams in the Kitchen, Dining Hall and rooms with windows!  I think you could say it was 200 person sleep over without any lights, but much fun.  

Thankfully, we were never without power which was helpful in making Hot Cocoa and Tea for the girls when they came in every 20 minutes to warm up from their snow fun.  They were sledding and building snow blocks by 10 a.m.  Nothing says snow day more than the dryer running overtime to heat up wet coats and gloves and the tea kettle whistling with boiling water.  

Miss A was especially thrilled with the Snow Day saying that she'd only experienced one in her elementary career.  Considering the fact she's only in 2nd Grade, doesn't seem that long.  To a young girl though, a year is like a decade.  According to her, it wasn't fair that we had plenty of snow days when she was toddler and baby that she didn't get to take full advantage since she wasn't in school yet.

By late Thursday afternoon, Mr C had returned home in time to watch his siblings and mother dredge out the end of the driveway from the street plow and laugh that his sisters would have school on Friday and he was done for the "year!"  Guess his time away in the cold and snow didn't cause him to miss us too much.  We did realize, however, why he's only a Day Student at the Boarding School; we missed him!  I did especially when the plow came through and I knew I was the strong one in the bunch.

Snow Days rank up there as one of the great reasons to live in the Midwest.  At least that's what I keep telling my Texas thin blood husband.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm No Martha Stewart or Ree Drummond but my Oven Might Disagree!

I'll remember the Christmas Season of 2012 as the year I took on the task of making homemade gifts of food for my husband to take to clients for Christmas.  In year's past, we've given away cookies from a Cookie Bakery in town to a number of his clients as a thank you/Christmas Gift, but this year we thought it might be fun to give them some homemade goodies.

Of course while the oven was working overtime, I figured it made sense to make cinnamon rolls and caramels for the school teachers in our lives as well as a few friends. P might have even figured that his office staff might enjoy some caramels too and since he was willing to make up all the waxed paper wrappings, I agreed.

If you are going to make things, you might as well make the hours you spend in kitchen worth the effort.  I even ventured into teaching a good friend how to make caramels and thankfully, we did not have a repeat of last year's disaster.  Guess one on one teaching works much better!

By the end of the first day of "Christmas Baking Extravaganza" when I'd spent nearly 10 hours stirring, mixing and taking cookies in and out of the oven, I handed the job over to Miss A for a bit.  She gladly stirred the caramels waiting for them to reach the magical 238 degree mark and declared "Baking is My Passion."  When I looked over at her smiling face, she admitted she had no idea "what a passion is, but it sure sounded right."

While it was a bit of investment in time to accomplish the baking and making of all the goodies, I guess it really was my gift to share!  It might not be my passion, but I enjoy spreading a little Christmas Cheer with others and my way of doing that this year was Cinnamon Rolls, Homemade Caramels, and Secret Family Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just to keep it honest, I do have to say that after about three days of baking I told my husband that I did not see me ever working in a professional bake shop. Standing on your feet for hours, burning your hand with hot caramels, and doing dishes constantly can be exhausting.  I think I'll leave that for the professionals and just take up baking as a seasonal gig! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Caroling Take Two: Brownies Take to the "Streets"

To celebrate the end of our first semester as Brownies, we had a little Christmas Party with the Girl Scouts complete with Door to Door Caroling at the houses near to our school.  The plan was to have fun inside at the party first by making Melted Snowman Ornaments, followed by a small ornament gift exchange between the girls, and then caroling.  Adding to the excitement was the fact that it was the week before Christmas and the final week of school before break.  These girls were hyped!

Thankfully, the weather was perfect for our Caroling; just a little chilly without a touch of snow on the ground. No worries about slipping and sliding between the houses.  One of Miss A's friends' and fellow Brownies lives just a block away from the school making her house the perfect first stop.  It was warm and inviting and with two other sisters who watched and cheered us on.

Now this is when the story takes a little bit of a strange turn.  Being the wise leader, I thought we'd stop at about two or three more houses before returning to school.  Just enough to give the girls a taste for spreading Christmas Cheer without wearing ourselves out.  Our second stop was right by the school (their backyard is the kindergarten playground) and the house was all decorated for Christmas. Lights were on inside the house and they had lights and Christmas Displays all over the front porch.  When I rang the doorbell, a young man in his twenties answered and when I asked if he'd mind if a bunch of Girl Scouts sang a few Christmas Carols he told me to "wait a minute."  I waited a few moments and then he returned and said "No Thank You" and slammed the door on my face.


Who turns down a bunch of little girls who just want to sing Christmas Carols?

We were shocked.  I'm just grateful that the next house we went too was a much better experience for the the girls. In fact at this house, the lady regretted that she couldn't invite the girls in for cookies, but she was recovering from a cold and didn't want to get us all sick.  Her smile and dancing along to the carols made us all smile a little bigger and encouraged us to go for one more house.  At our final house, they were having a little gathering and there were a few little girls who loved watching our "girls" sing.  The little girls were dancing and singing along and the Brownies were in awe of how cute the babies and toddlers were.  A perfect way to end this evening.

I think we all learned a little life lesson caroling this night.  You can put up all the Christmas Decorations and have all the lights on so that your home looks warm and inviting, but if you aren't ready to welcome a visitor (maybe Jesus himself) the decorations are all just sugar coating of a cold home and life.  How I pray that our family will be the warm welcome to whoever graces our door and that our hearts will be warm and inviting to let Jesus in this Christmas.  I don't want to be the one to shut door saying no!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Norwegian Christmas Party and Church Christmas Program

There is just something about a Sunday afternoon in December that screams; "too many events, too little time."  At least that is how it goes for our family.  After months of having a pretty light schedule, it appears that Sunday afternoons in December are just calling out for events and it is never not just one event, but multiple.  In some ways, you barely get to enjoy the experience you are having because you are so worried about getting to the next event.

I've said it before and I'll repeat myself again.  They should have Christmas Parties in February and Christmas Musical Programs in January.  Looking at my 2013 Calendar, it's open.  

Miss A's Christmas Musical at Church was at 1:00 and the Sons of Norway Christmas Party was at 4:00 (or as Mr C would say, a very early time for dinner!) meaning we'd have just enough time in between to come home and switch clothes, pick up the older children we've left home to study for finals, and head out. 

It's fun to see Miss A starting to come out of her shy shell and actually sing along at Music Programs.  That shy little preschool girl is long gone and she not only sang, but looked like she was actually having a wonderful time!  There is something heavenly about seeing a group of young children sing the classic Christmas Carols that brings a tear to your eye and the worship just seems so sincere.

Our next event was the Sons of Norway Christmas party complete with dancing around the Christmas Tree singing Norwegian Christmas Songs, reciting the Norwegian Athem (and the Canadian Anthem?) and wondering why we were among the youngest people in the crowd!  Where are all the young Norwegians?
Mr C and Miss M would say that they don't eat dinner at 4:30 p.m.!  Hey, at least we are back home by 6:00 or as the Sons of Norway President would say, before dark!

To be honest, while we might mock the craziness of the Norwegian Christmas Party, deep down we all enjoy being a part of this cultural event.  Miss M has learned the Norwegian Table Prayer, in Norwegian; Miss A has learned that at no other event is the Santa Claus have such a Norwegian accent or so thin!  Mr C of course is only really in it for the food.  This year he developed a love for Jarlsberg Cheese and has decided that if that's the quality of the dishes that arrive for the pot luck, eating super early isn't too bad.  

Plus we know how important this event is to our husband/father.  P likes to know that we are passing along the cultural heritage and sharing a little of the Norwegian traditions along to our kids.  At the end of the day, he wants to make sure that the Norwegian Flag and American Flag garland that are on our own family Christmas tree reminds the kids of the privilege they have to be Norwegian Americans!  

All the running around and hustle and bustle of the season really isn't too bad.  It makes us appreciate the long winter weeks ahead!  When there is nothing else to do but sit home and watch football games and read books, we don't feel guilty. We've earned the time off!

God Jul!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bells Are Ringing, Boys are Singing Off Key

According to Mr C, his favorite Christmas Tradition is Bell Ringing each year for the Salvation Army.  Over the years, this tradition has evolved to include friends, dinner out, and of course praying hard for mild weather.  Years ago, we also switched locations so we could be a store that did not face north.  There is something about a strong north wind in your face that's not very festive.

I gotta say our prayers for a mild day were answered.  It was a little chilly, but not cold.  Meaning the shoppers were out in force and we weren't going inside every five minutes to take cover!  A perfect night to spread a little Christmas Cheer and to encourage others to give a little of their change to fill the kettles.

I'm not going to say there was competition between the sexes, but I think little Miss A was a the spy that went between the two "camps" to figure out who was winning the donation challenge.  In the girls defense, the boys had the "better door" the one right by the Caribou Coffee, restaurant and Produce Section.  Sadly, the girls had the Pharmacy and Liquor Store side!  You would have thought Friday Night during Cold and Flu Season and Holdiay Parties, they'd be hopping, but they must come out later than eight p.m..

Mr C and his crew were drawing the crowds too with their "so called singing" of the 12 Days of Christmas.  Over and over again.  Miss M and her friend commented that the tune was rather "off key," but I think teenage boys are always a little off key, as their voices crack and they have no sense of the tune of the song.

The true controversy, however, was over whether the line "bring me some figgy pudding" is really in the We Wish You A Merry Christmas Song.  We checked and it sure is.  Score one for Mr. C.

All in all a perfect evening.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Tea Party with Nana

Some of my daughter's favorite memories each year are the fabulous English Tea Parties held by my mom.  Precious.  Getting all dressed up in fancy dresses, wearing hats and then sitting down at the dining table all adorned with the best dishes and decor is every little girls' dream.  Watching these parties unfold as a spectator (with a camera), you can almost taste the excitement.

Miss A decided that this year it would be perfect to have a Christmas Tea Party.  She was right.  When I picked up the six girls after school, they were skipping and giggling all the way to Nana's house.  Miss M and I in the front seat were wishing for ear plugs as the sound level as a little bit under the maximum decibel allowed by law!  Of course, it's hard to not smile and giggle when you and five of your best girlfriends are playing the "animal game" and the "campfire game."  Sometime, I'll have to explain these car ride favorites.

Upon arrival at the Tea Party, the girls were quickly off to get all gussied up for the event.  Miss A had me under strict orders not to come downstairs and take pictures.  It's private, she informed me!  Each girl than made a Grand Entrance up the stairs announced by the "help" Miss M.  Without fail, they all posed and twirled at the top, ready now for the paparazzi.

Let me say, that you can read a lot into the personality of the girl by the dress, hat and handbag she wears to a tea party.  They let their personality shine.

The tea party is part English Tea Party Etiquette lessons (hotting the pot, holding the tea cup) and part Ladies Luncheon Conversational lessons (what will Will and Kate's Baby be named? What's the best Christmas Gift?), but most of all it's just adorable.  Everyone is on their best behavior, except when they clink their glasses and want more to eat from the "wait staff."  They are giggling and grinning from ear to ear.

Of course, a perfect Tea Party sometimes includes a little craft time too.  This year the girls went home with ornaments to hang on their Christmas Trees. It was a perfect little way to spread some Christmas Cheer and a great memory that my daughter and her friends will treasure for years to come.  I might have heard one of the guests whisper to Miss A, "don't forget to invite me next year, I'm sure I can come!"

A Christmas Tea Party is just the thing to get little girls into the Christmas Spirit!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Girl Scout Caroling: Sharing a Little Christmas Cheer

It's that time of year again when I give up my fear of public speaking and singing off key as I lead a group of anxious and happy little girls in sharing a little Christmas Cheer with some residents at a Retirement Village.  This year, we asked the kindergarten and first grade troops to join us which might seem crazy except for the fact that it's so much fun to see all those girls all dressed up.  Plus a few extra voices couldn't hurt either. That much adorableness in one room; way too cute!

What I love the most about these evenings is watching the faces of the residents and hearing their sweet voices chime in on the "classic" Christmas Carols.  There really is nothing more precious than hearing the mingling of the young and older voices singing Silent Night.  Heavenly.  

One part of caroling that makes me a little sad is how little the girls know of those classic Christmas Carols.  I keep forgetting that we are living in a post modern culture where it's more correct to sing Jingle Bells than Away in a Manger.  Where we can say Happy Holidays, but not Merry Christmas. However, at events like this, where girls are exposed to the words of faith filled hymns and the older generation shines forth singing them from memory makes me confident in the future again.  My job as a mom is make sure that my child has the opportunity to be a part of events like this that allow her to share her faith with her school friends and others.

Really isn't that what Christmas should be all about, spreading a little of the message of "Joy to the World" with others?  Miss A might argue that it should be topped off with a trip to Starbucks for Hot Chocolate afterwards, and who am I to argue.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Visit to Santa: Tradition and Deep Questions

We are a family of traditionalists.  At Christmas time, we tend to do the same thing year after year out of a desire to create some family memories.  Being deliberate about these treasured times is based solely on our hope that when we are old and living in the Home, the kids will come by with their children and tell the tales of these events!

Christmas at Union Station with the giant Christmas Tree and the "Real Santa and Mrs Claus" is one of those "things" we do each year.  While we might have had to bribe our two oldest to sit on Santa's Lap, I think deep down they really wanted to.  This year our visit to Santa was at the same time as the Ethnic Festival which helped to convince Mr C to come along as all the exotic food options are right up his alley.  In fact when we tried out a new Subway Sandwich Shop before hand for dinner, he even held back a little so that he could sample a few of the ethnic food later.

Miss A came to Santa with a burning question.  So after she posed for the traditional photo, she looked the man with the beard,right in the eye and said, "I have a question for you.  Do you bring live animals as presents on Christmas?"  Santa trying to make eye contact with the parents said in a serious voice, "It's not my policy to bring live animals.  Is there something else you might like instead?"

You see, Miss A would really like a Goldfish or a Beta or a fish like Nemo. Anything small, fishy, and swimming would work.  The problem is her parents who having been down this road before know that fish die.  Like every fish we've ever had has died. Problem is they all died before Miss A joined the family. Meaning to her it's a moot point.  She'd keep the fish alive. Forever!

Now it appears that Santa is off the hook for the fish.  The parents not so much.

Do you see now why we do these things for the sake of tradition.  How else would we ever have this story of Miss A questioning Santa's animal policy?   I just wish that Santa could have convinced the two older children that items that plug in, require an Internet connection, and all forms of gaming devices were not allowed either.

Whatever happened to those days when a child was thrilled with a pair of red mittens, a candy cane, and an orange?  Laura and Mary Ingalls sure were happy that Christmas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicago Wrap Up

We had such a fun trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving and a huge part of that was getting to share a little of the Christmas preparation with Bestemor and Bestefar.  On Saturday, we helped them put up and decorate their Christmas tree and the kids got to see the traditional ornaments along with the handmade monogrammed ornaments that Bestemor made.  How fun to see each of our names and the year we "joined" the family on an ornament.

Oh, the pressure!  How fun that both sets of grandmothers have crafted things (ornaments to stockings) for the grandkids to eventually take to their own homes one day!  I'm sure that these treasured items will find a special place in my children's homes.

In addition to decorating, we had a relaxing day swimming at the pool, playing more tennis, going to a Train Exhibit at the Lodge, working on various projects (sewing for Miss A, untangling yarn balls for me), and just soaking up our time with the grands.

That evening, we had the best time when Uncle S and Aunt C came over for pizza and Bestefar dug out the old slide projector and entertained us with slides from P's childhood.  All three of my kids were rolling on the floor looking at pictures of Dad wearing Christmas Outfits smocked by his mother and outfits in all shades of plaid!  As a child of the 70's, he had some really "groovy" outfits.  I think Mr C was grateful that he was born in the more respectable decade of the late nineties.  Miss A was fascinated with the fact that nearly all of P's childhood trips included a trip to a Southern Plantation.  Guess our little Midwest girl had no idea what a Crape Myrtle or hanging Spanish Moss looked like.

I'd say the trip down memory lane with slides was well worth traveling through the fog to see.  Now we just have to convince both sets of parents to dig out the old slides and start showing them off to the grandkids and then running to the photo store to convert all those slides to a DVD!

My Favorite Homemaking Week

Yesterday, I took down Fall  The beautiful pumpkins are all gone, the leaves and stuffed turkey have been put away. I always feel like Thanksgiving gets the short stick in holiday celebrating so I refuse to put away all the fall decor until after Thanksgiving!  The fact that we were out of town for the holiday means I didn't get pressured to get all the Christmas stuff out and ready until now.

I love Christmas decorations, but I only really love them for about 30 days.  In fact, by December 26th, I'm pretty much ready to take it all down and get back to "normal."

Today, I dug out the basement storage area and found the mantel decor, the outdoor decorations, and the things I do myself. The really fun stuff like the tree will wait until this weekend when the kids and my husband can help.  I won't rob them of that joy.

The Spode Dishes have replaced my normal Poppies on Blue China in the cupboard.  All month long, we will be eating our normal meals on these fancy dishes. The girls already commented on how pretty the gold trimmed drinking glasses are and I've enjoyed my first cup of coffee in the Spode Mug.  I'm sure there will be plenty of Hot Apple Cider and Hot Coco to come this month.

For years, we used to just eat our Christmas Day dinner on the plates.  We'd unpack them on the 23rd and they'd return to the bonus room on the 26th until I realized that it was such a waste not to enjoy these fun, festive plates more.  I'll admit this is one small change in our routine that just adds to the joy of the season.

In unpacking them this year, I ran across a set of dishes by Mary Engelbreit that I forgot I had.  In fact, I think come January they might just grace our table for a few weeks.  I figure by then the winter doldrums will have hit our town and a little fun might be just what we need.  At this rate, all I'll need to come up with are some Irish Plates for March and it will be late Spring before those everyday dishes are once again in use!

I'm committed in December to enjoying this simple blessings and soaking up all the joy I can in the normal and mundane tasks of getting the house and family ready for Christmas. No rushing through the Season for me.  I've penciled in a day to bake Cinnamon Rolls, a few lunch dates with friends, and a wrapping present afternoon.  Of course with my DVR full of Christmas Movies of all types, I'm sure I won't be lacking the entertainment to push me through the hours I'll be stirring Caramels on the stove or writing out the Christmas

Isn't that what being a Homemaker is all about, making our home a haven of peace, calm and joy; especially at Christmas time.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hancock Tower Tree and Navy Pier: Part Three

We needed a little space after the crowd on Michigan Avenue and decided to walk a few blocks to the Hancock Tower and see the Tree in the Square before catching yet another taxi to Navy Pier.  If you are keeping count that's three public transportation forms in one day; stellar in Miss A's book.

Our hope was that the Pier will be all aglow with Christmas lights, but appears we were a week too early. We did see some great lights on our way to the Pier and really enjoyed the City Scape view we could see from the Pier.  Chicago really is a beautiful city at night.  Walking the Pier was so calm and the view of Lake Michigan with a clear night sky was stunning.  

For dinner, we went to Harry Carey's Restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan and in between watching College Football games, eating great Pretzel Rods, and talking about our "highs and lows" of the day, we saw some amazing Cubs Memorabilia.  By now, we were feeling very Chicagoan.

To cap off our evening, we went to the Christkindlmarket, a traditional German marketplace complete with everything from hand carved wooden ornaments, bratwurst and potato pancakes and anything German you could want for Christmas. 

The marketplace is right near Daley Plaza and so in addition to getting a little taste of Frohe Weihnachten, we got to see the Chicago Christmas Tree.  I gotta say our town's Christmas tree at the Train Station is so much better. 

Finally, it was time to walk the few blocks back to Union Station to catch our train back home.  It was a full day in Chicago and one we will never forget.  I think Miss M and Miss A are ready to go back again next Black Friday, as long as we find a way to catch a L Train around town too!  Mr C and Mr P will need a few weeks recovery before they even consider going to the local mall, let alone get in that size crowd anytime in the near future.

Michigan Avenue and State Street: Part Two

Our next stop on the Black Friday tour of Chicago was to see the windows at Marshall Fields on State Street. Now some might call it Macy's, but we are old fashioned!  The windows were beautiful.  Stunning really with their moving parts, lifelike mannequins, and stories that told of yesteryear.  What a gift to the city.

Mr P and Mr C were most thrilled that on this stop they would finally find a hat and gloves to bring back feeling to their extremities.  I thought the process of finding the men's accessory area in the store might just put them both over the top however.  We heard at least four different stories of where you'd find the men's gloves and took escalators, lost each other and asked again before finally finding the area nearly 10 feet from where we'd entered the store originally.  

The crowd was huge and, while the atmosphere was festive, it was a little overwhelming for the less experienced shoppers in our family.  Thankfully, after looking at the store windows for awhile, we saw the Disney Store, H&M, and Nordstrom's Rack right across the street giving us "all" a place to look around.  A few members of the family even left State Street with packages!

Taking a taxi to Michigan Avenue's Water Tower was next on our agenda; much to the thrill of Miss A and her love of public transit. (She might move to Chicago later just so she can ride public transportation!)  The crowd in this part of town was huge.  There were Salvation Army bell ringers at every store front, people walking with packages overflowing and to add to the fun, a few protesters.  

Our first  protester was angry about American Consumerism and Over Consumption.  His homemade sign on cardboard was to point out how little he consumed I guess.  The second and larger group of protesters were standing outside a Fur Salon and had signs with blood and dead animals as they shouted through large blow horns!  They were a little more serious.  Miss M, of course, got nervous that her Land's End fur collar coat would be targeted; but I told her it was Fax fur so not too worry!

Miss M found her purchase at the Macy's Soap Bar; where we enjoyed the craziness of the employees.  Let's just say they were all very happy making "Bubble Demos" with their AMAZING bubble bath wands.  Both C and I were anxious to leave as we overwhelmed with the scents assaulting our noses.  He might have even suggested we go into the American Girl Doll store with Miss A to escape.  All I will say about the AG store on Black Friday is Insane.  Miss A's wish list for Christmas grew, C and P's patience waned, and I was just shocked at all the purchases going on around me.  I thought Illinois was in a fiscal mess and near bankruptcy.

Of course no trip to Chicago's Michigan Avenue would be complete without a visit to Chocolate Corner; aka the place where Hershey Chocolates and Ghirardelli meet.

Next stop Navy Pier.

Black Friday Shopping Downtown Chicago: Part One

What's that saying:" When in Chicago, Do as the Chicagoans."  At least that was our thought when we woke up early on  Black Friday morning to board a train into the big city.  Everyone was excited to be a part of the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago on the busiest shopping day of the year.  Much better than getting up in the middle of night to beat the crowd at the Big Box Stores!

Miss A who loves all form of public transportation was most excited about taking the commuter train into Union Station. Since our stop was the first on the line, we had our choice of seats; meaning we were upstairs watching the world go by.  To make up for the missed knitting in the car a few days earlier, I came prepared with a small portable project and enjoyed people watching while I chatted with Mr C and watched Miss M veg out to her IPOD

Upon arrival at Union Station, we began the first of many long walks in the cold.  Oh, so thankful for Bestemor's Christmas Presents.  I am not sure the girls would have made it far without the cowl necks and hats.  Mr C, of course, pointed out that my Red Hat made it easy to spot me in a crowd.  Sadly, a bag with Dad and C's gloves and hat had been left behind in Huntley meaning they would actually need to "buy" something on Black Friday.  Our first stop was suppose to be a Taco Fresco just blocks from the Station, but guess they had taken a long weekend off and it was closed.  I thought C was going to cry.  For weeks he dreamed of his favorite Tex Mex restaurant.  Thankfully ,Dad's IPhone came to the rescue and we found out there was another location at Millennium Park. Phew.

With a happy boy and full tummy, we went out to see the architectural Cloud Gate commonly referred to as the Bean  It's a pretty cool site and the people watching was out of the world.  It was a true melting pot.  P found some new friends; the "Free Hugs People" who I'm not sure if they were trying to find dates for Christmas Formal or just trying to spread a little Christmas Joy. Either way, according to Miss M "you don't see that everyday."

Our adventures in downtown were only just beginning....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

When Thanksgiving Gives You Sunshine

Who knew that a Chicago Thanksgiving allowed you the chance to take a brisk walk in the sunshine?  While we'd been experiencing a mild fall thus far back at home, I never would have thought that on Thanksgiving I'd be taking a  brisk walk outside after I made up some Cheesy Spinach and Green Bean Casserole for later.  I didn't think I'd see the "Boys" off in the distance at the Tennis Courts playing three sets wearing shorts!  I won't tell who won the set, but I know my husband was especially pleased with his tennis skills!

Realizing that this fantastic weather was a blessing in itself, I ran off to get the girls and bring them back to the Lake for some fun. Grabbing a few pieces of bread, the girls and I were hoping to find their favorite birds; Henry and Henrietta.  Miss M and Miss A love the "stories" their grandparents have spun about the bird's adventures. Sadly, our friend Henry must have taken his own family on a trip for the Holiday, but we didn't let that rob us of the joy of watching the geese and ducks go crazy over the tiny pieces of wheat bread the girls threw over the railing.

I'm beginning to agree with Miss M and Miss M that this is one of the most beautiful places on earth! 

Later that afternoon, we traveled over the river (Fox River) and the through the woods (Toll Roads) to our Thanksgiving Feast in Wheaton.  A fabulous mixture of fellowship, yummy foods, and rousing rounds of board games made the perfect setting for day of Thanks.  The girls got busy decorating some birdhouses that would later be given away at a Children's Charity Christmas event. Perfect to keep them busy and allow them to flex their crafting genius.

We have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving and getting to spend this weekend with family made it all the more special.  God has so richly blessed our kids two great sets of grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and Cousins.  It's a blessing we realize is precious.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Celebrating An Early Christmas

I left home on Tuesday packed with our Christmas presents for Chicago all wrapped and ready for December 25th.  I might have been a little proud of myself for accomplishing both the shopping and the wrapping since normally I'm scrambling on the Saturday of Thanksgiving to get the gifts ready for the Grands to take back with them.

Imagine my thrill then when my in-laws announced that we'd be celebrating an early Christmas on Wednesday evening as they normally don't get to see the kids/us open our presents.  We are usually hundreds of miles away from each other and only connect by phone and photos.  Yeah, I was ready with the gifts and the kids were of course more than ready to open gifts.

Of course, later I realized my father in law's "stocking stuffers" were sitting on my scrapbooking table at home.  I never said I was perfect. I viewed it as a way for B&B to have something to open on Christmas!

What a fun Christmas celebration we had in November.   The kids got to see Bestemor and Bestefar try on their new presents and the Grands got to see and hear the giggling and laughter that always accompanies present opening in our family.  I won't even hold it against the kids that often my husband and I were passed over when it came to turns; they were just excited.

Little did we realize just how handy all the new knitted hats and gloves along with our winter parkas would be in just a few days.   I didn't even mind it too much when my son said that I looked like Paddington Bear in my new knitted Red Felt Hat with a brim.  My husband quickly pointed out what a term of affection that must be considering how much Mr C loved his Paddington.

All in all, I'd say our early Christmas celebration in Chicago was a great way to kick off the season and great reminder of all the fun children can be at this special and magical time.  I loved getting to "see" the kids opening presents and showing off their new things to their grandparents.  Totally worth the time in the fog spent to get this place!

From Mr C's new down vest to Miss A's one in kind handkerchief with the Letter A embroidered on it direct from her great-grandmother's dowery (the first Cecilie) to Miss M's french blue hat, it was  perfect evening.

Thanksgiving Road Trip: Chicago

I've never traveled for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  The exception was when I was in College and I would go home for the Holidays.  My grandparents all lived within 20 minutes of my home, my sibling lives in the same town, and for the past 19 years of marriage my in-laws have graciously joined our family for Thanksgiving.

This year we decided to live on the edge and travel for Thanksgiving with all the kids to see the Grands and my sister/brother in law in Chicago.  While we'd miss my parents, we considered it an adventure; a vacation in November!

Since the kids didn't have school Wednesday, we decided to pull a late night and leave right after school on Tuesday. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the 50's and clear skies.

At least until about 7:30 (a few miles outside Des Moines, Iowa) when all of a sudden it got Foggy.  Dense Fog.  The kind that means you can't see anything on the road. Who knew truckers used their flashers in fog to alert drivers of their presence on the road.

Now here is where the story gets a little funny; you see we weren't sure what was going on.  Was it a snowstorm, fog or smoke from "Forest fire?"  According to certain members of the family, my sweet husband might have said " I wonder if this is a Forest Fire." and I rolled down my window.  However, that is up for debate. Not the window part.  He claims that he said it might be smoke from a controlled burn.

Anyway, I guess in the middle of a Iowa Cornfield near a large body of water (Mississippi River), there can be an issue with fog.  Fog so deep that we even missed our dinner stop at the Iowa City Mall aka Chic Fil A in the food court.  Not too worry, we turned back as our bellies were empty and our worry was thick.

After reading the Weather Channel updates on P's phone about  "Dense Fog," we decided to travel a bit further down the road hoping our happy tummies would make the road easier to bear.  By Davenport, we decided this was crazy and pulled off at a Best Western thinking we would call it a night.

Now I must admit I was the fieriest proponent of stopping and spending the night in a hotel.  I was worried about the rest of the trip and how long my husband could drive in this fog.  I might have regretted that I couldn't knit in this weather either, but don't judge me!  However, as I was checking in at the hotel so was a nice gentleman who had just come from Illinois. When he heard our tale of "fog," he told of how it wasn't bad in the land of Lincoln.  It was just an Iowa issue.  He might have promised that once we crossed the Mississippi and got on the Illinois 88 Tollway that it'd be blue skies and stars.

Of course, Mr C was in the back seat of the van working his magic to convince the girls that going on to Chicago was the best choice, P was talking to the Chicago Traveler and looking at weather, and I was just thrilled that the hotel had a nice bathroom.

Needless to say our desire to get to Chicago and our want to be there soon won.  We journeyed on.  We claimed that this trip would go down in our Family Lore as the "Trip to Chicago in the Fog," a story that Mr C and Miss A and M would be telling their children and grandchildren.  At least if we got there safely.  Which we did.

However I must say that Mr C talks a much bigger game than he delivers.  Within minutes of telling his sisters to "buck it up," he was sound asleep.  That fog that the Chicago Traveler had convinced us stayed at the Iowa/Illinois Border followed us all the way to Bestemor and Besterfar's House (though not as dense).  It did however let up for about 2.4 seconds when P crossed over Dixon IL (Land of Ronald Reagan) and said POOF.  For at least a few seconds, the fog lifted.

Not the best start to my first ever Thanksgiving Road Trip; but one that I'm sure will stand the test of time when it comes to storytelling!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Public Speaking: Not My Thing

I guess you could say I have a phobia of public speaking. Just the thought of speaking in front of a crowd makes my nose start to sweat, my stomach starts doing flips, and my heart starts to beat rapidly.  I will avoid speaking in front of a group at all costs. Just ask my husband. I make him do all the "talking" to groups, at events, and social settings.  Give me a group of 2nd grade Brownies and I'm fine leading and talking.  Please just don't ask me to have a parent meeting.

In high school, I took Speech as a sophomore, not realizing that it was Junior Level course.  Maybe that explains the nerves. My teacher was a five foot spitfire who loved her job and was so kind to me that she even had me over for a Mary Kay party at her house.  She made a huge impression on me and inspired my passion for Journalism and Politics, but I still couldn't give a speech.  My A in the class was out of pity.

By college, I was involved in politics and student government, but still avoided public speaking. I only got an A in my freshman level Speech class because it was at 8:00 in morning and I was only one awake to hear my speaking.  I could argue a point in ASUN board meetings, at Young Republican meetings, or at my Sorority's Monday Night House meetings, but just don't ask me to get up in front of a large group of people.

Tonight, I'm scheduled to speak in front of a group of parents and students at a Junior High event that could draw a several hundred people. To say that the butterflies are working overtime is to put it lightly.  As the PTO President, it is my job to make the welcoming speech.  I've avoided having to do anything like this for years, but today is the day.  I'm not sure what it is about the podium and the microphone that give me heart palpitations.

At dinner last night, we had a contest to see who could write the best speech for Mom.  There was even money offered if I would use certain phrases.  At one point, I think the amount reached $22.  I of course was wondering if P could just come to the meeting and stand up and I say "I'm Jill" and give my speech.  Maybe no one would notice.

Googling "How Not to Throw Up During a Speech" gave me great comfort.  According to research, no one has ever died or actually thrown up giving a speech; maybe before or after the event, but they have at least gotten through the speech first.  Of course, there is a first for everything!  I told my husband that the only good thing about this speech today is that it meant I needed to get a new outfit.  According to Miss A and Miss M, every one will be so impressed with my "Groovy" new dress they won't even remember what I say!

I wonder if it's wrong to pray for Jesus' second coming to happen today before 7:00 p.m. CST.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My DVR is full: Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon

My name is Jill, and I'm a Hallmark Christmas Movie addict and I'm not ashamed admit it.  I can't even tell you how excited I was when I heard that the Hallmark Channel was debuting two new Christmas Movies each weekend.  I love nothing more this time of year than doing a chore (knitting, dusting, sorting laundry, or making dinner) and having a Christmas Movie playing in the background.

When the rest of the world is crazy busy with events, projects and shopping, I'm soaking up the calm and joy of a wholesome Christmas story.  I've even gotten the girls in on the fun, and yesterday Miss A told me that she loves a "good Christmas movie" too.  Guess when most of the time I'm saying "no" to movies and television shows, its nice to have the ability to say yes.

Sure there are scoffers in my family who think it's crazy that I'll be watching Christmas movies while refusing to put up my tree until after Thanksgiving or that I rally against the commercialization of the "season" while filling my DVR with these movies. Mr C might have asked if this was "65 Days until Christmas " movie countdown.  My husband might jokingly say "they just don't make movies like that anymore." after the airing of each and every new movie I watch.  I just ignore those comments.  Deep down I know that the boys wish they could join in on the fun, they know that these type of shows are few and far between.

For now, I'm just enjoying having a plethora of shows to watch while I crank through the Christmas Card list and make those Caramels for the teacher gifts.  Guess this addiction is not one I'm willing to give up, at least not until January.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012: Praying for Our Country

I love America.  I love the political process.  During election years, I can become a real "news junkie" spending hours reading, watching news programs, and tuning into talk radio shows.  Having spent years working in the political arena, it is in my blood. I love Election Day.

Never before have I felt that America's future is at stake as much as it today. Decisions made today at the polls will have a profound effect on the direction that our country is headed. As a Christian, I have a hard time separating my moral world view from our political view.  While the mainstream media might want my Evangelical Views to have no impact on my voting decisions, I'll be honest and say I can't separate the two. It is how I am.

That's why I'm grateful to be an American on day like today.  I can vote today. I can pray today and ultimately, I can trust that today God has it all in His Capable Hands.  I might not like the outcome of certain races today.  I probably won't vote for all the winners but I can Trust.

I love the following ad that Rev. Billy Graham had in newspapers across the country this past week. My husband brought me home a copy two weeks ago from the Wall Street Journal and I was thrilled when over the weekend my local paper had a full page ad as well.  Rev Graham says much more eloquently exactly what I'd say.

Finally, if you ever needed proof that our teetering on the edge of a moral collapse I love this video from Paul Harvey.  When Mr C and I watched this last week we were in awe.  

God Bless America. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Passing on the Political Bug

If you asked me what  I've been up to the past three Fridays, I'd explain that first Mr C had off school, then next week Miss A had off school, and finally last Friday Miss M had off school. Gotta love three different school calendars and multiple teacher conferences.  Yikes.

The one benefit is one-on-one time with the child which means I've been shopping, out to lunch, and arranging fun activities each week.  I've loved it, but it's kept me hopping.  With the election right around the corner, I had a few political things I needed to do last week and Miss M readily agreed to help.  I told her if she would walk a few streets and putting out fliers for a school board candidate I'm helping with, I'd buy her lunch.

When the opportunity arose to go a real political rally for a Senate candidate, I asked Miss M if she'd be willing to get up early on her day off and head to an event featuring John McCain and our state Republican slate.  Without hesitation, she said yes.  In fact, she was super excited. She loved Senator McCain four years ago and was thrilled with the idea of seeing him in person.

I've got to tell you it was the most fun I've had in weeks. Miss M was so excited to be in the crowd cheering for our party faithful.  We ran into my favorite US Senator, that I used to work for, and we discussed how much it seemed like old times. A political rally at an Airport Hanger!

There is something really fun about sharing a part of your "former life before kids" with your kids.  Miss M was cheering and laughing at the political jokes and being a real part of the political process.  In fact when the official event was over, Miss M begged me to stick around in hopes of getting her photo with Senator McCain.   She edged her way to the front of the press conference and stood right by the Senator waiting her turn for a photo.

I was so proud.

Just so you know she got her photo opp and she was thrilled.  Who knows if this is just the beginning of her political career!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

We survived Halloween.  Since we are down to just one Trick or Treater, we are not overwhelmed with buckets of candy!  Miss M decided this year to take over my job passing out the candy at the door.  I think she just wanted to see all the adorable little kids in their costumes.  Of course, she wanted to dress up a little bit and decided that a Taylor Swift Cowgirl was perfect.

Miss A had two opportunities to wear her Clown Costume.  I will admit that I'm a little biased, but she was adorable. We did however realize that she has a very small nose bridge, making it hard for her to wear a big red foam clown nose and keep it on.  No wonder her glasses are always falling down!

Our Brownie Troop had a little Fall Party allowing the girls a chance to wear their costumes, make Carmel apples, and play a few games.  After ten years of planning classroom parties, I have a plethora of ideas stored in my head and knew that Monster Mash Musical Chairs is always a winner.  For Miss A's 2nd grade classroom party, we had a bowl of "brains and mush" for the kids to feel their way through.  Give some kids a bowl of spaghetti, plastic spiders, gooey grapes, and a few other surprises and they will have a blast. Seeing some of the kids faces as they dug into the bowl with their eyes tightly closed was so worth the mess.

Mr C's got some more use out of his Smurf Costume (guess the work was all worth it) for his schools' Halloween Dance.  In fact, three of his friends joined him in a Smurf community of sorts. Trying to be the hip mother, I made Witch's Fingers Cookies for the party.  They were both yummy and disgusting.

I'm glad my crew had a fun and safe Halloween, but a little melancholy over the fact that now Fall is almost over.  Not ready for winter yet!