And together we learn

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful Christmas. I know we sure did. Oh, so wonderful! Where to even start?

Last night we had a glorious part with my mom and siblings, and Steve's brother and his family. Amazing food--we always have french onion soup, wassail, quiche, marzipan cookies, lemon tarts, and lots of other delectable goodies. If you think you are all baked out, please don't be! Don't wait until next Christmas to try these oh so incredible white cherry chocolate shortbread cookies. Yum!

We did the nativity--my girls take turns being Mary every year, and this time it was Hazel's turn. Chloe and my niece Jane were adorable angels. Calvin and his little cousin Seymour were supposed to be shepherds, but they went A.W.O.L. Oh well!

Christmas morning. We got about 4 inches of snow last night, and it's just gorgeous outside. We didn't even start opening presents until around 10:30 this morning; we have breakfast first, Steve went across town to pick up his dad, we read the Christmas story, then Chloe gave the most precious prayer before we started. She prayed that we'd have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and that we would remember Jesus and love him. Wisdom from a four year old!

Chloe pausing mid gift-unwrapping to read one of here new books.

Calvin opening his box of letters.

The violin was such a high point of the morning. As soon as she realized what it was, the joy in her face made ever bit of Christmas stress more than worth it. She's SO excited!!

There was one present we saved for very last...

It's a blue!

I'm so absolutely delighted! Of course a pink would be wonderful also--pretty much you can't go wrong with either option. But in terms of bedroom sharing, even numbers, and a much-needed wrestling partner for Calvin, blue is definitely a wonderful thing!! We're ecstatic. I'm so so happy that the whole thing went according to plan. Such a fun surprise!

Anyway, Merry Christmas to everyone!

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Last minute odds and ends

Time for a quick post before the craziness sets in. I guess the craziness has been happening for days, though. Too much to do!! Here are a couple of random photos and things from the past couple of days. This is Hazel's Christmas present to my little brother Thomas. It's a catapult, of course! She was so very excited to give it to him, but he was a little underwhelmed. But at least now I get my broom back, and my kitchen floor is very very grateful.

Because Calvin is a little rampaging monster boy, nothing in the house is really safe, ever. Including my makeup. He just laughs at me when I punish him, so I get pretty frustrated sometimes. In this photo of his little cherubic mug, look carefully. Do you notice the third eyebrow?

He got into my lipstick, but it wasn't just lipstick, it was lip STAIN. And also eyebrow stain, much to my chagrin. Fortunately for all our holiday pictures, my sister owns makeup remover. Me, not so much.

Yesterday's going to church, all kids dressed, hair done, and not rumpled yet photo. Those moments are far too rare!

Can you even believe it's Christmas eve??? I still have a last minute grocery store run (went the other day without a list--big mistake), lots of cooking to do, and several presents left to wrap. Merry Christmas everyone!! You have made my life so much richer and I treasure our blogging friendships.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas snippets

How many minutes do we have left??? Not nearly enough, that's for sure. So many things left to do! I was going to do all the wrapping tonight, so I got all the gifts in one place, got a Christmas Story ready to watch, assembled my tape and scissors, then hunted all over the house for the Costco size roll of wrapping paper I was so prepared to buy nice and early. Yeah. Still haven't found it. Am giving up and I'll wrap the dang things LATER! Not that there are that many more laters to be had.

We read the Christmas story and Twas the Night Before Christmas next to the fire while sipping hot cocoa. One of those picture perfect mothering moments that don't happen very often. Nice.

Since my kids can't read yet, (there's a positive to this, after all!) I can share what I'm giving them, just for fun. Hazel is getting a violin. She's been begging to play for months, and I think it's the right time. We actually found one on line, and it's just beautiful. Can't wait for the pictures when she opens it!

Chloe's getting a gorgeous doll buggy and a cradle, and Calvin is getting lots and lots of bouncy balls and trucks. Two year old boys are pretty easy that way. Oh, he is getting a creative present! He loves letters with a passion, so I'm getting him a full set of those wooden letters that people paint and hang on their kids' walls. Whenever we're at the craft store I can't tear him away from them. I had the bright idea to get a little box to put them in, then modge podge it with cute paper so it would look nice. Weeeelll, what I wasn't factoring into this happy little equation is my complete lack of craftiness. So, Andrea sister, I so should have taken you up on your offer to help!! The thing looks positively depressing. Oh well! He's not a very discerning toddler, so all should be well.

And for the whole family comes the best present of all. Since I'm 19 weeks pregnant right now, it's the perfect time for the ultrasound. Well, I'm going to take in two outfits, one pink, one blue, and not look at all at the screen. I'll have the technician put the correct outfit in a box that we'll open Christmas morning!! It's not often the mom is downright giddy with anticipation over opening presents, but I will be this year!! Hopefully everything will go according to plan.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Movies successful, and movies not so much

After a perfectly wonderful morning shopping with my two sisters, I came home to take the kids to see Enchanted. I've heard nothing but rave reviews, so we were way excited to go. But, Steve ended up not being able to go, so I decided to go by myself. First large mistake.

There were four other people in the whole theater, so at least I didn't have to worry about disturbing too many people with my crew. Normally Calvin is great in movies, so I didn't think there would be a problem. Oh, how naive I am!! The previews were "so scawwy" (they really were!), then when the movie started, well that was scawwy too. Emphatically 'scawwy'. Loudly, vocally, obnoxiously scawwy.

So I took Calvin out, got a refund, and took the protesting girls home. We'll try that again later when we can divide and conquer!

Later, to redeem the day's planned Christmas activity, we had a dinner picnic. We made apple raspberry muffins and hot cocoa for dinner and ate them while watching 'Santa Claus is coming to town.' So much fun with my sweet babies!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Hazel came out of her room carrying something with a very puzzled look on her face. "Mom, why is there a red pepper on my bed?"

As I looked up I saw something out of place in the living room. "For the same reason there is a jar of hoisin sauce under the couch and Christmas ornaments in the dryer."

We looked at each other, sighed resignedly, and chimed together, "CALVIN!!!"

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Back home

And we're back from our flyingly fast trip to So. California. Somehow, through some marvelous combination of Steve's brilliant ability to work the system and really good timing, in the month of December we fly SIX people for the price of TWO!! Incredible, yes, I know. So we planned a spur of the moment trip to go to Disneyland with the kids and my little brother Thomas.

So much fun!! Disneyland at Christmas really defies description. Main Street with wreaths and garlands everywhere you look, a massive gorgeous Christmas tree, snow and icicles all over Cinderella's castle--it was pure magic.

Small world was my very favorite. I didn't know this, but the whole ride is redone for Christmas. They sing Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls and Small World, there are Christmas decorations all through the ride, and it was so completely darling.

The whole day was just perfect, start to finish. By far my favorite day at Disneyland ever. So much fun!!!

The next day we headed to Legoland. Thomas is a self-confirmed Lego fanatic, and this was a high point for him. I took Chloe and Calvin and we did sweet little kid rides, and Steve took Hazel and Thomas and they worked the roller coasters. Calvin is still talking about the 'twain wide' and 'dwive a caw'. So fun.

In an eerily similar repeat of the last time we did Disney and Lego back to back, Calvin hit the wall big time. Time to go home!!

If you were to look very very closely at the picture of the three kids with Lego Santa, you'll see a small blue bouncy ball clutched in Calvin's hand. A flight attendant on the way there gave it to him, and it was his favorite thing ever. Normally you'll find him walking around with a ball or two, and he always takes them to bed with him, but this one was something special. For the entire day at Disneyland, that blue ball was clutched in his fist. On every ride, through the parade, walking around, he NEVER let go. I was sure that it would be lost within minutes, but he made it through the whole day with that silly bouncy ball.

It made it to Legoland and through the first half of the day, but they had a huge playground there, and I think that it was somewhere there that he finally relinquished his grip on the ball. I was hoping he could make it through two theme parks without losing it, but that was too much, even for Calvin.

Anyway, such a fun trip, but so nice to be home again. Now we can settle back in to the preparations for Christmas and cozy fun at home.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Time for a quick update

I have about 2 1/2 minutes to post a quick update while I'm waiting for laundry to dry. We're off on a new adventure tomorrow, and I'm trying to get ready for it.

Christmas is the most amazing time with babies around. The delight as a two ear old discovers all the joys of the season is something that never gets old. The lights on the tree, the nativities, the candles--everything is a source of perpetual wonder to him.

It has snowed every day for the past 5 days or so. We're having such a great time playing and coasting in it, plus it's gorgeous. But it was very wet and heavy the night the bulk of it fell--so much that when I was out shoveling, I bent the snow shovel right in half! Stupid made in China junk.

The other night I took the kids to a live Nativity. Absolutely indescribable. I've never seen anything so elaborate and just plain amazing. They had a camel, llama, goats and sheep. The costumes were stunning, and the whole set up was just gorgeous (do you think I can fit any more superlatives into the paragraph?? I'll try). After passing the wise men and camel, there was a doorway and a soldier allowed you into 'Bethlehem.' Once in, you were transported to the dusty crowded streets of a busy village. There was a stall with a father and his son were carpenters, actually carving and smoothing a log. A potter had a wheel and was making jugs. Women filled pitchers of water at a fountain. Beggars were at your feet, and people were busy buying and selling food of all kinds. Amazing. Periodically there were doors with innkeepers letting us know there was "no room in the inn." And then you rounded a corner, and there was the family. I was expecting it, of course--that's the whole reason for coming! But somehow, I was stunned by the sight and just started to cry. So beautiful and humbling. Just a little baby, wrapped up in a simple piece of cloth, and it's parents. So profound. I'm still touched by the impact it had, days later.

Seeing as the evening was spent with my children, there were of course some choice moments. Like as we approached the camel pen, we came from behind. There were lots of people around and there wasn't a clear, direct view. It was just big and brown. As my kids stood looking at it's bulk, loud and clear came Hazel's, "Well, it's definitely NOT a gorilla!"

Isn't that the truth!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Advent adventures

So many posts floating around in my brain!! The activities are happening too fast--I can't keep up! But I'll do my best.

Gingerbread (ok, graham cracker) houses. So fun!

This is my mantel this year. I just got the little trees on either side of the picture, and I love them!! The tree I'm not going to show, as it is very very much child decorated. The bottom third has most of the ornaments all clustered together. But the kids love it, and to them, it just looks like magic.

I love Christmas!!


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Darn tooth fairy

7:30 am. Just remembered with sinking feeling of panic that little envelope with a little tooth left under my Hazel's pillow. Snatch a crumpled dollar from the laundry room change jar, sigh with relief that she's still sleeping. Slip it under, retrieve the tooth, and melt out of the room.

Barely squeaked through the good mothering door that time!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Do they come with a mute button?

Can we talk for just a minute about toddler boys? Because somehow I'm just not understanding mine very much right now. Are they supposed to be so. very. different. from their sisters? The endless running from one end of the house to the other, the hopping, the jumping off anything that is elevated?

And then there's the stubbornness. And the sheer physicalness of himself. He needs to wrestle, hard, every day. And if he doesn't get it, he'll walk up to me or his sisters and just start hitting over and over until we engage him. We saw my BIL tonight and Calvin was overjoyed to see a male--couldn't start the wrestling fast enough.

Did I mention the stubbornness? It's 10:00 and the kid just barely fell asleep, and not from lack of trying on my part! Worst part is, he was up LAST night until 10:30, was a raving beast of a baby all day, refused to nap, and then was on crazy whirlwind mode until just now. I AM READY TO TEAR OUT MY HAIR!!!!! And he laughs at my punishments, either that or they turn into 20 minute death battles of will. I am tired.

It is such a merciful thing that God made the two year olds cute. If this kid didn't have big brown eyes and a headful of curls, I'm not sure what might happen!

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Cozy times

Last night I was feeling in a bit of a dinner funk. Didn't want to do any of the usual dinner-type things, so we had a breakfast for dinner night. I made pumpkin pancakes using this recipe and topped them with homemade applesauce and warm maple syrup and hot apple cider to drink.

Ooooh, yummy scrumptious fun winter dinner! The kids couldn't get enough, and it felt so cozy and comforting.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow day

It snowed the other day, and it's gorgeous. The kids could hardly contain themselves through scriptures, chores and school in the morning--all they wanted was to be out in it. Right across the street from our house is a neighborhood park with a great big sloping hill, the perfect sledding venue. So we bundled them up and off they went!

No, I'm not a completely negligent mother to let my 2 year old out without a coat, hat, or mittens. I try, really I do! Dang kid throws so many fits, insists his coat is 'scawwy' and runs away when I hold up his mittens. I figure sooner or later natural consequences will teach him that snow is cold and he'll give in. Until then, he was outside for all of 90 seconds.

The girls surprised me though. Last year snow play lasted for 1/2 hour or so, but this year Hazel was out for almost 3 hours, and I had to go bring her in for dinner. Rosiest cheeks ever!! She slept well that night!

There's something about snow days that makes me just want to bake and bake! So here are the gingersnaps we made.

Oh, and I made the yummiest soup the other night. I found a recipe
for potato soup, but oh. my. calories and fat. Ick!! So I made my own version.

Cooked about 5 slices of bacon and crumbled them, set aside. Cook an onion in the bacon drippings, deglaze pan with a couple cups of chicken broth. Peel and chop about 6-8 potatoes, add to pan. Cover and cook until soft. Puree with stick blender. Add milk/half and half/evap milk/ more chicken broth, whatever you want. Add a few squirts of hot sauce--not enough to make it at all spicy, but it just gives it a nice flavor. Add a couple spoonfuls of sour cream.

I served it with the crumbled bacon, sliced green onions, and cheese to sprinkle on the top. So yummy, easy, and perfect for a cold winter day.

The kids are out playing in the snow again (except Calvin, this time he refused to wear his boots, and I draw the natural consequence experience line at shoeless snow play). Gotta go get the hot cocoa ready!

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Turkey trot

"Mom, what would happen if your heart was beating as fast as a turkey could run?"