Somewhere I read about this New Year's Day tradition. It's all about new. You play a new game with your kids, you watch a new movie, try a new food or restaurant, and wear something new. We have a whole new day planned for the first and hope to start a new tradition. How do you celebrate New Year's?
We celebrated Christmas with my mom's side of the family on Christmas day at my Aunt Kathleen's house. It was a wonderful party with all my parents, sisters, nephews, aunts, uncles, most of my cousins and grandpa. We dined like royalty with prime rib, twice baked potatoes, salads galore and more pie than even I could eat. But the most magical moment was when Santa came.
My Aunt hired the best Santa. He gave Chris Kringle from a Miracle on 34th street a run for his money. His suit was red velvet and soft fur with fancy gold buttons. He had real black boots and a real beard. He recited many Christmas stories and got the whole group singing Christmas songs. He was really amazing. Each mom had prepared a little note card with information about their kids. When it was their turn to sit on his lap, he pulled out the the card that the "elf" had written and talked to them about it. Then he pulled out some toys he had left over in his slay. Of course they happened to be toys the kids had on their list.
Hailey got 2 My Secret Unicorn books that she has been wanting. They are published out of the UK and the shipping makes them expensive, so I told her she would just have to wait until they became available in the U.S. I think when she opened the books, she was convinced he was the real deal. She said to me, "mom, this it the real Santa! I wanted in these in my heart but didn't put them on my list and he got them!" Karlie was mesmerized by his song and dance and stood motionless for his entire routine until he called her name. Even Kaitlin couldn't resist his magic and sat up in his lap unafraid. I don't think I will ever be able to take them to a mall Santa after this magical meeting.
Hailey asked for two very expensive gifts this year, a robotic horse named Butterscotch and a "student desk to do her homework on." Since we were just able to afford the horse, the desk seemed out of the question. That is until I became a craigslist believer. I searched craigslist daily and happened upon this cute little desk. The owner had it since she was in school. I am not sure of her age, but I think it is safe to say it is at least 20 years old. For 20 bucks and a lot of elbow grease, we were able to fulfill Hailey's list!
AfterMax sanded, primed, and painted the desk and chair. He also worked very hard to polish the brass handles that had many years of tarnish on them.
I picked out some new fabric to recover the seat (I got the good end of the deal on this project). It turned out to be a charming little desk and chair. That is a lot of bang for your buck!
The other project we did was to buy unfinished wooden letters to spell each of the girls' names. You can buy them already painted at Pottery Barn Kids for $10.00 a piece. That was a bit steep with 29 letters to buy. Hobby Lobby had a 30% off sale that made each letter only $1.75. It took more work than I had anticipated. I started out using acrylic paint for crafting and after three coats, I upgraded to priming them and using the same paint as on the desk. One coat of primer and one coat of paint was more like it. When we settle on a theme, I might paint some colored Daisy's on them. But for now, white will do.
I have a love-hate relationship with Norman Rockwell. I love him in that my imagination mirrors his paintings and he captures the ideal. Everything is picture perfect and wonderful in my mind. I play out the future in vivid detail. I fantasize about big events or special occasions, rehearsing every expression, the surprise, the reaction, and the feeling of the moment. Often I play it over so much in my head that the reality is disappointing. I hate him in that I expect Norman and get reality, which would be fine if I hadn't built it up so much in my head.
As we wrapped and wrapped and set out all the Santa gifts on Christmas Eve I started doing it again. Imagining her face when she saw Butterscotch. Imagining what Karlie would say about the fish, what Kaitlin would think of all the gifts. I felt an edge of worry creep in. Would their reaction meet my hopes? As we finally finished near 11 o'clock and headed to bed, I gazed outside. No snow. Those weathermen are always wrong. They had been promising a "white Christmas" all week. Not a flake. I tried to lower my expectations and be content with the thoughts of Kaitlin wanting to play with the wrapping paper and bows, of Hailey being happy about the horse but more interested in some dollar store gift, and Karlie wanting someone else's gift. I was bracing myself for reality.
The night was a reality check as Hailey and Karlie alternated coming in to see if it was time to get up every hour from 2:30 am on. I kissed Norman goodbye and tried to get a little sleep in between. Finally 5:30 am came and we let them go for it!
If Norman had painted this morning, it would have been his masterpiece! Karlie peeked around the corner and squealed with excitement, " a fish! A fish! We got a new fish!" Hailey's face when she rounded the corner and saw Butterscotch was priceless. MasterCard commercial here we come! Kaitlin's thrill as she opened her baby doll and tried with all her might to rip through the box to hold her baby was perfect. Norman style. The topper of it all was when we woke up to 3 inches of fresh, white snow. A Christmas miracle. This was the whitest Christmas on record for Colorado. Norman couldn't have captured all this magic and even my imagination didn't disappoint me. It was in all senses a very merry Christmas!
Here are just a few shots of our Norman Rockwell Christmas. There will be more to follow.
Three Wise Men Image
Have you ever stopped and thought about the gifts the three wise men brought to Jesus? I have always just thought, 'oh what nice gifts. Must have been important in his day.' Today in church our pastor revealed to us what the gifts really were and once again I am in awe.
The first gift was gold. Gold, much as it is today, was a valuable gift and was the gift people brought to kings. Would any of us bring gold to a newborn? No. These men knew who this baby was, the King of Kings.
The second gift was Frankincense. I really had no idea what this was but figured it was a type of incense. It is a type of sap that as it dries crystalizes and can be used for incense. In Jesus' time this was exclusively for high priests. The wise men recognized that this tiny baby in the manger would be the highest of all priests, the bridge from our world to life everlasting.
The third gift was myrrh. Myrrh is also derived from the sap of a tree and was used for embalming. What an odd gift to give a baby, unless you knew his fate was to die. To die for us. The wise men knew Jesus, the King of Kings, would be nailed to the cross to die for our sins and become the bridge. The way to God.
As the special day of Christ's birth nears and we frantically prepare to give gifts to our little ones, I am so thankful to have been educated about the first gifts and left with a heart of submission.
Well, he's no Frosty, but he got the job done. I think his expression says it all. My Grandma Helen sent us this adorable snowman cake pan and I just had to give it a try. In the picture they have him standing up. It is a 3-D cake, but I was not as skilled as the manufacturer. After adding the icing he started to lean. I supported him with toothpicks at the top and kept going. Then like a tree that had been cut, his head snapped off and all I could do was yell "timber!" Luckily a lot of frosting was able to cover-up his wound. Max voted for having a splattered snowman with red frosting around his neck. I vetoed that and kept trying. So here is what I ended up with. At least he tasted good. Now if you want to see how a real cake is done, check out my sister-in-law's blog. But if you need a good chuckle, you can view mine.
We are half way through our pregnancy journey. In a few short months we will get to meet our little man! I can't believe how fast this first part has gone. The second half needs to slow down as I am no where near ready to have a newborn. Some days I question if I am really pregnant and not just sporting a few extra pounds. This has been the easiest pregnancy I have had. I can only hope it is a sign of his temperament because I am going to need an easy going kid to keep sane.
Outside view. (Nice PJs huh? I had to have Max take a picture before he went to work.)Inside views.
Profile shot. His hand is up by his head like he is in the Thinking Man pose.
Waving hi to mom!
Yep! He is still a he!
This is a day when everything happened at 10:00. It seemed a cosmic force was pulling everything into one chaotic mess at once. Through a series of cancellations and last minute availabilities, I ended up with my 20-week anatomy ultrasound today at 10 and Kaitlin’s hearing test at 10:20.
We have noticed for a while that Kaitlin is not talking as much as she should. We figured it must be the pacifier or she has two big sisters that wait on her hand and foot, why should she talk? We made a concerted effort to take away the pacifier and really over say things and try to encourage her to use words rather than gestures. Still not talking. The pediatrician agreed she should be evaluated and she was. The report read, “significant expressive speech delay.” They recommended a speech therapist come to our home once a week to work with her. While doing a complete assessment, they tested her vision and hearing. Her left ear came back as “needs referral” with the first machine. The second said, “blocked." The therapist assured me it could be wax or a little head congestion that distorted things, but nonetheless, she needed to be seen by a pediatric audiologist. Her original appointment was set for mid Jan. They called last minute yesterday with a cancellation at 10:20 today. I figured out a sitter for Karlie and my mom took her to the appointment while I went to my ultrasound.
That leaves Max. Apparently today at 10 he was supposed to be three places at once. And I thought 2 were bad. He was scheduled to interview two people and be at our ultrasound. Can you guess who lost? Yep, me. So as I lay on the table at what was this exciting and amazing moment of getting to see our little baby, I felt very sad and alone. I saw his cute little feet, his sweet profile, and his big hand waving “hi!” But there was no hand to squeeze, no one to share in the excitement that only the father can know, and no one to chuckle with about it still being a boy. No one to beam my proud smile at, just the ultrasound tech who didn’t know me from Adam. During the scan my mom called to let me know that Kaitlin’s hearing is perfectly normal and all is well. I thanked God for my little one being ok, for the baby checking out well, for my mom who is always there for me, and for my husband that is only a floor above me (even if he did miss this VERY important appointment).
At this moment I am suddenly acutely aware of single moms. My heartbreaks for them as I think of each milestone in pregnancy and childrearing that they must face alone. Not to mention the difficult times of discipline, illness, and injury of their sweet ones. I think of all those moms who are “single” as their husbands are off fighting for us. Not only do they have to go it alone, but the stress of knowing their husband is in constant danger must be agonizing. I think back to the 3 deliveries I did with women who only had a picture of their husband on side table. These thoughts wade heavy on my heart as I lay their looking at the blessing God has given me. Who am I to be so sad when this miracle is right in front of me and I have a healthy family, loving husband, and supportive family? Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in my own little life and every now and then I catch a glimpse of something bigger and am humbled by it.
My prayer today is for the single moms out there. Their strength has no measure.
Click the link below to take a short quiz and see. I was surprised how right it was.
|What The Holidays Mean to You|
For you, the holidays are about emotional connections and bonds. You are happiest being around those you love.
You celebrate the holidays in a minimalist style. You are likely to only give one great present and decorate your house with a few special items.
During the holidays, you feel magical. You love all of the decorations and how happy people are. You like to sit back and take it all in.
You think the holidays should be comforting and relaxing. You don't like the holiday rush... you just like the simple pleasure of the holidays.
Your favorite holiday memories strongly evoke your senses. You are vividly aware of all the tastes, smells, and sounds of the holidays.
Yes, I did tell you that I have made dozens of sugar cookies, but I never said I was good at it or that they turned out well. You can see how handy I am in the cookie department. Pies, I am all over. Brownies- you bet ya. Cookies, not a chance. This year I even bought the Pillsbury premade sugar cookie dough and icing. The homemade recipe always comes out flat and taste like flour. This year by golly they were going to at least taste good! We often do sugar cookies with Aunt Anna and I am repeatedly ashamed of my abilities in this area as she effortlessly creates masterpieces. Unfortunately for my kids, they seem to have inherited my genes on this one. Bummer. I can take solace in the fact that I am not the only cookie failure. Devin will keep company in Ugliest Cookie Cookers group.Kaitlin's
The Max and Katie salvation army scores again! My sister Mel gave us these gorgeous glasses. We have blue plates that match perfectly. Our glassware had consisted of pass downs from Max's parents, the few glasses we had acquired in college, and a bunch of kid cups. I am seeing blue everywhere these days:) Thank you!
This year Max and I decided to make homemade gifts for our family and friends. I have to say I really enjoyed giving this year. Rather than aimlessly walking through he mall looking for something to buy everyone or picking up a gift card, we spent a lot of time and put a lot of love into making these baskets.
The kids helped me make Candy Cane ornaments that have the story of how the candy cane was made attached to them.
The Making of the Candy Cane
The candy maker wanted to make a candy to represent Christ. He used a hard candy to represent Christ as the rock of all ages. Then he shaped it to resemble a “J” for Jesus or a shepherd’s staff. He used white to represent the Purity of Christ and a red stripe for the blood Christ shed for the sins of the world. The flavor is peppermint, which is in the same family as hyssop. Hyssop was used in the Old Testament for purification and sacrifice.
The next item we made was Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie mix. I got a brownie mix from a girlfriend last year and loved it. It was so easy to make and such a thoughtful gift. I decided to steal her idea and put it in with the rest of the items. Cookies and coffee or tea sound like a great way to spend a cold afternoon.
In the bottom of the basket we put a rice bag. These are very popular item in our house. The kids love to have one heated up before bedtime to keep them warm as they drift off to sleep. I use one often for my back.
The Rice Bag
This little pillow filled with rice,
Is such a comforting device.
Microwave for 2 minutes on high
And kiss those aches and pains goodbye.
Apply it to the troubled spot,
The heat will ease the pain a lot.
Or warm those little toes so cold,
You'll find this nice to have and hold.
Or freeze it for a little while,
And fix that booboo up in style.
Instead of a compress made of ice,
Use this pillow filled with rice.
I found some cute Christmas mugs of all varieties and filled them with coffee, tea, hot chocolate or hot cider depending on what they drink. I added a couple biscotti and a candy cane to the mugs.
The round basket worked the best for fitting all the items in.
I had four different baskets varieties, three different rice bag fabrics and couples and single baskets. We made 11 in all.
Here is what the final product looked like after adding a little filling, wrap and some ribbon.
We had a great time doing these as a family and it really felt like we were giving to our loved ones as we thought of each of them as we created their individual baskets.
Question Mark Image
I think I am getting dumber with each baby. I might be getting a little wiser, but I definitely feel my IQ dropping. Here are a few things I have done this pregnancy that make me wonder if I am fit to care for children.
1. I ran to the grocery store to get snacks for the Brownie's meeting. I get the snacks, check out and put the kids in the car. I then returned the cart to the little buggy spot like a good shopper. Drove away. A few hours later I was cooking dinner and felt my debit card in my back pocket and thought, 'oh, I better put this in my purse before it ends up in the wash.' I go out to the car where I usually leave my purse. Hmm. No purse. Where is my purse? Did I leave it at Brownies? Nope, didn't have it there. Ack! I left it at the store. Sure enough. I called and the manager giggled when I correctly identified myself. I had to drive to another town (where the Brownie meeting was) at 7pm with all the kids because Max was still at work. At least I remember all the kids.
2. Yesterday I put the peanut butter in the fridge and the milk in the pantry.
3. I put Kaitlin's antibiotics that are to be refrigerated with the bowls in the cupboard.
4. I left all of our bathing suits at the recreation center last weekend when we went swimming. Once again the clerk giggled at me as I described a maternity suit and three pink suits.
5. I had to go to the store 4 days a in a row because I failed to get detergent, dish soap, items for dinner, or diapers each time I went.
I am only half way through this pregnancy. The mental lapses seem to be getting worse and increasing in frequency. I am quite worried about what the second half will bring.
Ever have one of those days when your kid is on role with wild and crazy sayings? I am having one of those days today. My spirited little Karlie has been cracking me up and left me wondering how good of a job I am doing parenting her.
It all started early this morning when she spontaneously strips off her clothes down to nothing (it is snowing and 20 degrees here) and starts running wild through the house screaming at the top of her lungs, "You can't catch me! I am the Gingerbread Man!" I join in the game (no, I kept my clothes on), and start chasing her around. Kaitlin decides to follow suit and before long I have two kids running naked through the house laughing and singing the gingerbread man song. I finally catch them and throw them in the bath. As I am laughing at her, I ask, "What planet are you from?" She replies, "Mom. Don't you know everyone who lives on earth if from earth?" I wasn't really expecting that out of my 3 year old. Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
Lunchtime brought a few more Krazy Karlie sayings. Kaitlin was hungry and started getting impatient as I was getting the Mac-n-Cheese ready. Karlie calmly turns to her and says, "Relax buddy." Gee, I can't imagine where she could have heard that? Later Kaitlin thought it would be a great idea to shake her cranberry juice (I know, what kind of idiot mom gives a toddler dark red, staining, cranberry juice!) in her sippy up and down causing a spraying effect like a fountain. Lovely red drops of juice landed all over her shirt and pants. This was already outfit number three today, not to mention it stains! I started grumbling about not shaking juice and I can't believe you will have gone through 4 outfits before noon. Karlie busts out with, "sorry mom, life is hard sometimes." WHAT? My kid is telling me to buck-up! I can only imagine what the rest of the day will bring from my little gingerbread girl.
I am always looking for crafts to do with the girls, so I though I would share a few that we have done. Now if you have a Martha Stewart decorated home and tree, then these won't be what you are looking for. But if the sight of your little one's handprints, scribbles and artworks warms your heart, then you might want to try these. The best part is most of them use supplies you have lying around the house: construction paper, glue, scissors, glitter, and pipe cleaners.
Handprint Christmas Wreath
Trace your child’s handprints on a stack of green construction paper and cut out as many as you can stand. Cut the center of a paper plate out so to leave the outer ring intact. Let them put glue all over the paper plate ring and put a layer of handprints around it with fingers fanned outward. Continue to add hands until your wreath is complete. We used glitter pens to add sparkle circles. I then added a bow from wrapping ribbon and their name and date.
Handprint Christmas Tree
Same idea here, but stack the handprints with the fingers pointing down. Start at the bottom and drop and hand with each row. Go crazy with the glitter pens. Mom can cut out a star and a tree trunk to finish it off.
Shapes Christmas Tree
This one is perfect for very little ones. It is simple, not messy, and fast. I used the template from here and just printed the shapes on construction paper. I cut out all the shapes and let Kaitlin use the glue stick (and some guidance) to put the tree together and stick on the ornaments. You can go over colors and shapes with them while doing it. The best part is the craft is done before they lose interest and it was so easy, you don’t care if it looks like the left over scraps instead of a Christmas tree!
So this one probably shouldn’t go in the box for next year. When you are making sugar cookies, set a side a few shapes of the dough and poke a whole in the top of the cookie. Let the dough dry hard. Give them some markers to color their masterpiece and thread a string through the top. Viola! You have an easy, cheap, and disposable Christmas craft.
Crayola's Model Magic Handprint
I really liked this one and it can be put in the box for many years to come. Buy some of Crayola’s Model Magic clay and roll out a circle large enough for your little one’s handprint. Help her press her hand firmly into the clay. Roll out a worm in another Christmas color that is long enough to wrap around the edges of your circle. Use a pencil to poke a hole through the top. Allow it to dry for 48 hours. Thread a ribbon through the top and then use glitter pens or puffy paint to put their name and year on it.
This is the classic school age Christmas ornament. Paint the clothespin brown and let dry. Add google eyes, a red nose and black tail. Wrap some ribbon around to from a loop.
Decorated Glass Bulbs
Hobby Lobby and Michael's sell craft bulbs. We used clear bulbs and stuck gold and silver tinsel inside the bulbs. Then we used fabric paint to color on the bulbs. After reinserting the cap we tied some sparkly pipe cleaners around the top and curled them by wrapping them around a pencil. Another easy and quick craft for your tree. We have also just bought regular brightly colored bulbs and used glitter pens to color and decorate.
Left Over Candy Cane
Use any pipe cleaners you have and let the kids string all the left over beads from miscellaneous crafts onto the pipe cleaner. Bend down the ends and shape it like a candy cane.
Here is Hailey's Christmas letter to Santa."Dear Santa,
I want a talking horse named butterscotch and a student desk.
Love Hailey Your Very Good Friend.
Pretty brief for a six year old, huh? Well, it seems my six year old has out smarted me on the whole Santa Clause deal. One of the interesting parts of marriage is combining your family traditions. This can be sticky for some and especially difficult around the holidays. We were no exception. Max grew up with no Santa, while Santa was very much a part of Christmas for me. In fact my mom was still putting "from Santa" on my gifts when I was in college. So we had to decide if Santa was going to play a role in our children's Christmas. We discussed the lying, the paganism of it, the lack of the special gifts coming from us, and ultimately decided to play along with the game just as we do the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Now I am regretting that decision.
Ya see, Hailey has put me in a tough spot where I either have to break the bank to keep the game alive or risk the grave disappointment on her little face when the big, jolly, red guy doesn't come through. Last year she asked for 5 or 6 things with one of them being this life like pony named Butterscotch. She moves her head to the sound of your voice, wags her tail, neighs, goes to sleep when the lights go off, nickers, and can be ridden on. The problem is she was $300.00. That is like the entire Christmas budget. So she got everything else on her list and when she asked why she didn't get the pony, we explained that Santa couldn't possibly get everyone everything on his or her list and that he has to distribute the toys fairly across the world to all the kids. So, he probably thought you would like to get everything else instead of just one gift. Went over great. She moved on and enjoyed all her toys. That is until this year.
I had the girls sit down and Hailey write her list and had Karlie tell me what she wanted me to write for her. Hailey wrote her list. I asked her why she only put two things. She said, "if I only ask Santa for Butterscotch then he will have to get it for me since it is the only present I am asking for." What about the other item? A student desk so she has somewhere to do her homework. Come on! Your killing me kid! I tried to talk her into revising her list saying, "won't you feel badly when your sisters have a bunch of presents under the tree and you only have one?" Her reply, "oh no mom! Having Butterscotch is like having 100 presents." Umm, well I thought we would just sit on it, show her a Toys R Us catalog and in time she would want to revise the list before sending it off to the North Pole. Well, here we are getting ready to send the letters and guess what? She is sending the original.
I have been watching the horse like a mad woman. Checking eBay, amazon, toys r us, and target. The price had slowly come down. I had thought maybe I could ask every family member buying her a gift to donate to the horse fund and maybe I could get it for her. But that still busts the Santa issue. It would say from all of us and then she would have no other gifts because I would have scraped every red cent we could spare to get the dang horse. Harrumph! I continued to keep on the look out for the horse. Then one day while doing my shopping at Costco there she was in all her glory for $200.00. I fought all my inner demons. I petted the horse. I called her name to see if she would turn her head. She was so soft. She was so big. She was so amazing. There were only two left. Could I even fit her in the cart? She was so pretty. I imagined Hailey sitting on top of her, calling her name, "Butterscotch." I pictured her shrill of excitement Christmas morning as she saw Butterscotch sitting under the tree. I pictured making her dreams come true... I was sold. So I have been suckered into keeping the magic alive for one more year, into spending a fortune on a robotic horse, and into giving her that one gift she is dying to see under the tree.
Thankfully, Kaitlin is too young to measure fairness and she will be having a bit of a smaller Christmas to afford the lavish horse. I am sure all the girls will get great pleasure out of having her and they will each in time have their magical Christmas where we, I mean Santa makes her wishes come true.