Friday, December 25, 2009

I hope your Christmas is filled with many wonderful surprises!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas 2009

The snow is fiercely blowing outside in our winter wonderland. We are all snuggled up in our warm house – playing games, eating snacks and reading by the fire. All of us are happy, content and healthy – truly a day to remind us of how blessed we really are. It is the kind of day to reflect on the year that is coming to an end and to remember the amazing family and friends that are such an important part of our lives.

Spencer celebrated his 8th birthday this summer at one of his favorite places on Earth – a water park in the Wisconsin Dells. He is in 2nd grade this year and doing great in school. He excels at reading and absorbs science facts and figures like a little sponge. He enjoys riding his scooter, playing outside with his friends and watching TV. Spencer’s dream came true in March when we adopted a kitten. His name is “Dickens” (he had a roll in Trent’s production of Oliver!) and he is the most mild-mannered, patient, little cat that we ever could have hoped for. Most days I am surprised he doesn’t run for his life with the love (i.e. torture) the kids bestow on him.

Evan is 5 ½ and started Kindergarten this fall. He rides the bus every morning with his big brother – I still wonder every day how my baby boy can be that old. Evan loves school and I have never seen a kid that looks forward to doing homework and begs to work on flashcards like he does. He is a natural helper and enjoys working on any kind of project. Evan played soccer again this year and has improved immensely. He even scored a hand full of goals this past fall.

Hailey will be 3 in January. She has grown up so much in the last year. She speaks very well (and often) now. She has been working on potty training and catching on pretty quickly with the lure of gymnastics classes or Polly Pockets to hasten the process. After the New Year, the crib will be coming down and she will move into a new big girl bed. Big stuff is happening around here for our baby girl! Hailey loves her big brothers and tries to emulate them all the time – though they don’t seem to find it as endearing as we do. She loves her baby dolls, books, playing dress-up and stealing sips of Diet Coke.

Jen is still “working” at home to keep everyone and everything on track. She has been volunteering in Evan’s classroom and loves being back at school to keep “tabs” on the kids. She was able to get out with her camera and do some photography jobs this year. It has been very gratifying to open up Christmas cards that we have received and see the smiling faces on the photos that she has taken. Thank you to those of you who have supported her “habit” and put your memories in her care.

Trent is as busy as ever with work, theatre, golf, Cub Scouts, church, Knights and anything else that comes along. He discovered a new hobby in geocaching this year and spends most of his free time walking around in the woods looking for “treasures”. It is a fun family hobby that gets us moving around and even keeps the kids interested (most of the time anyway).

We were shocked and saddened in February when Trent’s mom, Lyn, passed away unexpectedly. It has been a year of trying to find a new normal as we carry on in our lives without her. She is extremely missed and will be even more so at this time of year that she loved so much. On the other end of the circle of life, we were thrilled to find out that Jen’s sister Dana and her husband Mark will be welcoming a new baby into their family in March.

The most important thing we have learned this year is that each day is truly a gift and not a guarantee. Miracles happen and devastating things occur without any rhyme or reason. It forces us to trust in God, to believe and to have faith – which is what this holiday and this life is all about. We wish you all a holiday filled with peace, health, happiness and most of all love.

Much love,
Trent, Jen, Spencer, Evan and Hailey

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The festivities continue...

We attended our second Christmas program on Monday night - Spencer's multi-age show. They put on a little play called "A Snow White Christmas" sort of a fractured fairy tale of the original "Snow White" story. It was short and sweet and quite entertaining. The fifth graders have all the speaking parts while the first through fourth graders make up the chorus.

Spencer did very well with his "part". Thankfully, he remembered to use the bathroom this year before the show, since last year he was in agony the whole time. I only noticed him attempting to bite his nails a couple times - a hard habit to break as I know from personal experience. I was extremely proud of him.

Each year they finish the program by singing "Let there be peace on Earth" and calling up the former multi-age "graduates" to the stage to sing along. They also sign the song while they sing. For some reason I find myself getting choked up every year during that part of the show. It is just so cool to see these big kids walking up to the stage, hugging their former teachers and singing and signing a song that they learned so many years ago. It was like I could see into the future with Hailey standing on the risers as her big brothers sat on the stage in front of her.

For the time that it takes them to sing the song, everything seems right with the world. You leave the auditorium thinking that maybe all of those sweet voices singing in unison really did make some sort of difference.

Friday, December 18, 2009

...and Santa is his name-oh!

Guess who had his first Christmas program at school last night?

He was just a little bit excited about it! He walked around the house practicing his songs and "word parts" for weeks.

He did a great job! He was very "into" the whole program and was extremely animated during the parts that he should have been. He had a bit of an issue with his Santa mask. Whoever stapled it together must have measured his head wrong because it kept slipping down and he had to keep tilting his head back to keep it on.

When it came to the "free" dancing part of the show, my boy was unstoppable. My poor slow camera couldn't even keep up with his moves.

At the end of the program the teacher told all the kids to smile at the mom's and dad's so that they could take a picture. I love how Evan is looking right at me. He knew exactly where his mommy's camera was. (He is in the top row - fifth from the right - see the miniature head right there?)

These pictures are not edited at all. I shouldn't even be taking time to do this post. We are having around fifty people at our house tomorrow night for a party. We are also helping with a children's party tomorrow morning at the Viking's club. One week from today we are having another thirty people over for a family Christmas party. Throw in all the school activities and shopping and food prep and wrapping....bite off more than you can chew much?

Back to work. I have to scrapbook all the party pictures from last year so that people can look at them. The saddest part is that I hadn't even ordered the prints until earlier this week. LAST YEARS party. I am getting stressed out just thinking about it. I so badly just want to sit on the couch and watch a movie and just take a minute to smell the Christmas tree instead of constantly running by it at a frenzied pace.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Peanuts and cauliflower

Evan and I set out last night in the calm before the storm to the paint your own pottery studio in the mall. I have wanted to make a cookie plate for Santa Claus with the names of the kids on it for a long time. Evan will sit and paint all day long if I let him so he was the perfect date to accompany me.

We invited Spencer to join us but he was afraid that we would not be home in time to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special that was going to be on at eight o' clock. TV is very important to Spencer. Can anyone guess what one of his New Year's resolutions is going to be? While we were painting Evan commented to me that Spencer was missing out on all the fun. I told him that he had the chance to come, but he wanted to watch TV instead.

Evan: All he ever wants to do is watch TV! Plus did I ever tell you Mom that we got to watch Charlie Brown at school one time?

Mom: What Charlie Brown did you get to watch?

Evan: Around Thanksgiving time. You know, the one where they are riding on the Cauliflower?

Mom: You mean the Mayflower?

Evan: Oh right! The Mayflower! I keep getting those mixed up!

We drove the Subaru to the mall because it handles much better than the van in the slush and ice. I told Evan when we parked to remind me when we came out which car we had so we weren't scouring the parking lot for a van that was at home in the garage. True to his task, as we walked out he reminded me.

Evan: Mom! Don't forget that we drove the Subaru here!

Mom: Thanks Ev! You have a good memory.

Evan: That's because my brain is big.

Mom: Your brain is VERY big!

Evan: And Mom?

Mom: What honey?

Evan: My hair is smart too!

That kid of mine just cracks me up! As far as the storm...they did have a snow day today but it was sort of a bummer. We couldn't just hang out and chill. We had to have all three kids to the doctor for flu shot boosters at 8:30 and Evan had a dentist appointment at 1:00. The forecasters are predicting that round two is going to hit tonight and most likely school will be closed tomorrow as well. I am really hoping so because I have a lot to get done around here that is much more doable if I have another person to help with entertainment of the masses.

And Trent is a master entertainer.

And he also brought me home "Eclipse" from the library.

All of my tasks will head straight to the back burner once I start reading. Oh Edward! I can't tear myself away from you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Every finger shall have its ring

little tree
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

I haven't done a blog hop in a while, but when I stopped by the Kelly's Korner blog today and she was hosting a "Show us your Life: Christmas Trees", that poem was all I could think of. I knew all of my former English major poetry books with the pages dog eared to my favorite verses would come in handy someday. And how much do I love the fact that I could google and copy and paste the whole poem. Technology is amazing!

Anyway...the first photo is of our main tree. It is real. It is huge. Every year we bring home a twelve to thirteen footer and it still looks tiny in relation to the nineteen foot ceiling. I love that the kids are old enough to be excited about decorating the tree and are actually able to help. Granted there are a lot of branches with six ornaments hanging in a bunch, but they are on there none the less. We get each of the kids a Hallmark ornament every year that symbolizes something about them or that happened over the course of the year. All of those ornaments are so fun to get out and reminisce about why we picked those and the things they did when they were younger.

This tree is on our stairway landing. It is my "Gone With the Wind" tree. All of the ornaments are from the Hallmark GWTW collections. I love this tree, and I love that movie. Obviously.

The kids each have a mini tree in their rooms. Evan's is the tree I used to have in my office at work. It has seen better days. His is decorated with mini dinosaur and truck ornaments.

Hailey's tree is pink and has some pink glitter ornaments on it. As she gets older she will probably want to pick out her own ornaments to hang, but for now she is pretty happy with these.

I don't have a photo of Spencer's tree because he has no ornaments. He didn't have a tree in his room last year so we need to find some for him this year.

I also have a little tree in our room for the first time. I bought a new tree for the basement and the former basement tree went to the GWTW tree and the former GWTW tree is now empty. I was thinking it might be cool to get some little frames and make a photo tree.

This is the new six foot tree I bought for the basement. Trent's MSU Spartan tree. All of the ornaments are from MSU or at least Spartan themed. I also hung some green and silver balls on it because it is a pretty big tree. Our neighbor usually buys Trent the Franklin Mint MSU ornament every year so those are on there as well. I need to think of a clever tree topper. I tried to put the Spartan Santa hat up there, but it just didn't look right. I was realizing that the tree needed a tree skirt and was thinking of all the MSU fabric at Joann's - as if I need another project right now.

Here are my silver trees in their new spot on the bay window. I know they are not what you traditionally call Christmas trees but I love them. And you can see the present that we got last night outside the window.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All I want for Christmas is....

....a nanny, a live in housekeeper, a personal shopper and a decorator. That's not too much to ask is it?

I think I am finally finished putting up all of the Christmas decor. I don't know what it is this year. I feel like I am so behind already. I think it has to do with Thanksgiving falling so late in the month. We usually have everything all festive around here after that long weekend. I changed some stuff around, so that is taking a lot of time. Things that I usually plop in the same spot year after year are getting a new home for the first time. I like how it is turning out, it just takes a lot more thinking and figuring.

I have been on the computer most of the day doing some Christmas shopping. I feel like I am way behind on that too. I don't know why. I don't think I am. In fact, we had our "Christmas" with my sister and her family over the holiday weekend since they won't be coming to town for "real Christmas" (as my kid's say). I am kind of at a loss as to what to get the kids this year. They are not really asking for anything much (which is good!), I would love to find something to WOW them, but am not finding anything that ignites that in me at all. Plus I need to watch our money so that Trent can buy me the new camera that I really want for Christmas this year! Ha! (I feel like I am cheating on my camera by writing that last sentence - seriously - I love you, you do a terrific job - I am really just jonesin' for an upgrade. I will still keep you around for the day to day fun stuff around here...I promise!)

That is the haps around here. So much going on. So much to write about. I just don't know where to begin. This is the time of year that this little blog of mine seems to always get pushed to the bottom of the list. I just realized the other day that many of my "projects" that I wanted to complete this year have still not been done. Updating my picture frames. Hanging frames on our basement landing. Creating and printing out my blog book for the past couple of years. (Has anyone found a site where you can print a blog book in the basic column form that the blog naturally has? I really don't feel like messing with formatting for almost 300 posts. Any ideas would be SO helpful!)

We brought the kids to see Santa on Monday. I am a big fan of going a few days before Thanksgiving because there is NO line whatsoever. We just didn't have time this year. The line on Monday wasn't bad at all. Just a few people in front of us. Spencer told me that he didn't want to go and see Santa. My stomach just fell because I thought for sure that he was going to tell me things that I am not ready to hear out of my baby boy's mouth. When I asked him why he didn't want to, he said because he didn't know what he wanted to ask him for. Whew!
He wound up asking him for LEGOS. Hailey told him she wanted a baby doll and Evan told him he wanted some balloons and a squirt gun. Squirt gun. He has been talking about a squirt gun and how that is what he wants for a long time now. Sadly, not long enough ago that I could have hit the summer clearance sales and got a sweet deal on some huge water blaster. Hello? Amazon? Do you have an out of season toy section? He is going to be one bummed kid opening that water gun on Christmas morning and realizing that if he shoots it outside his fire stream will freeze in mid air. That kid is a true individualist.

The Santa trip was nice. No tears. Pretty good smiles. A quick trip into the candy store. And their favorite part was dropping coins into the Salvation Army guy's bucket.

When we got home we got them all into their jammies (except for Spence who insists he is too hot at night and sleeps in his unders) and let them cuddle on the couch and watch the Grinch. After the Grinch had decimated Whoville and stood on the top of Mt. Crumpet listening for the Who's cries of sorrow, I asked the kids what the Who's were going to do without their feast and their presents. They all looked at me and Spencer said "Mom, Christmas isn't about the presents that you get. The most important part about Christmas is that Jesus was born! That is why they are not sad!"
I guess they listen more than I think they do. They are the best gifts that I could ever imagine. I don't need the nanny, the housekeeper, the shopper or the decorator. Just this cozy, festive, warm house full of the family that I love with all my heart!
The camera would be nice though....