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!