Saturday, November 28, 2009

Most Wonderful

I never realized what a kid I am until I had kids of my own, who provided me with a legitimate excuse to get crazy excited this time of year!!

What a fun week it's been! It all began on Wednesday evening, when we bundled up and drove down to Cincinnati for the "Festival of Lights" kick-off at the zoo. We walked past millions of lights; sang songs and read a story with Mrs. Claus; visited 2 live reindeer; rode the train past millions more lights; hugged Frosty, 2 gingerbread men and several elves; watched a couple of rapping tiger heads; and headed home at 9 when the zoo closed. We were hoping to see Santa, but when we arrived at his crib around 8:30, w were told that "Santa has gone back to the north pole." (I think that's code for "Santa is taking a smoking break") On the trip home, Moo and Karis stayed awake for the entire 90 minutes, and I don't think Karis paused for breath between stories.

Thursday we enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving manicotti with Danny's parents and spent the evening playing "Mexican Train." Danny and the kiddos headed home, while my MIL, FIL and I drove to Toys R Us for the midnight sale - a first (and last) for all of us! I have never seen such craziness - and I'm used to the Black Friday crowds. After waiting in a line which nearly wrapped around the ENTIRE building, and fighting our way through a sea of other seriously messed-up people, I was able to procure some of what I was after for the kiddos, making the whole escapade a roaring success. We called my FIL, who had slept in the truck for the nearly 2 hours we were there, headed back to their house, and fell into bed around 1:45. I somehow don't think he'll be giving me that stack of ads to look through on Thanksgiving Day next year!

I woke back up at 4:15 and headed to 3 other places, where I landed HUGE savings, before driving back home by 8:00am. Woo hoo! My Christmas shopping is officially finished! Also, this day is great for adding to my "gift stash" for birthday parties the kiddos go to for the whole of next year - it allows me to get some really nice things and save some serious cash.

When I got home, we ate breakfast, cleaned up the house and drove out to our favorite Christmas Tree farm, where we had a blast cutting down our tree. Zeke, for some reason, felt it necessary to wear a necktie over his T-shirt for the day, and kept his coat unzipped to show it off, until I got really cold and made him zip it back up.

On our way back home, we did our traditional lunch stop at Red & Ruth's pizza in Palestine. Yum! Last year we made such good time cutting down our tree that we were too early to eat lunch there. I've never seen Danny so disappointed. This year, he made sure we didn't even leave the house until after 10:30 just to be safe!

We came home, spent the afternoon decorating the tree and the house, and watched Elf while eating bowls of cinnamon-sugar popcorn. Really - does it get any better than that??

Today, my sister and her family, and my mom and dad, came over for a turkey dinner. Other than the fact that the stinkin' turkey took about 2 hours longer to cook than my downloaded "turkey cooking time" chart had indicated, the day was a success. I highly recommend turkey brining - delicious! The cousins played, the men watched football, and the women-folk had a chance to talk and snuggle with Ellie, my littlest niece. We took a walk to the park, came home and had turkey sandwiches!

Right now, it's not difficult to think of things to be thankful for. It's nice to spend time with family - both immediate and extended. And it's nice to have holiday traditions. Now, to wrap all those presents . . .

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Change Isn't Always a Bad Thing

When you have kids, a lot of things change. You would think I'd be used to it by now. But, every once in a while, I'm hit with something else that just won't be the way I'd prefer for it to be for a very, very long time.

It occurred to me once again this week, as we began preparing for Christmas . . .

Little pecan tarts, along with other fancy fare, have given way to frosted sugar cookies. We spend much more time now listening to kids' Christmas CDs, watching Frosty the Snowman and singing "Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg" than we did in the pre-kid era. But the single facet of Christmas that's taken the biggest hit is the decorations - specifically the tree.

My ideal tree is decorated with white lights, beautiful bows, and yards and yards of homemade cranberry & popcorn garland. Their ideal tree is decked out with multi-colored lights, mis-matched ornaments, and tinsel, and topped with a star that alternately shines blue and green. And the worst part is, it doesn't AT ALL match the deep jewel-tone colors of our tree skirt!!

Then there is the matter of the fat felt stuffed tree with felt velcro-attaching ornaments that sits in their rooms. And the fiber-optic tree in the basement. And the stuffed white teddy bears with Santa hats that I try unsuccessfully to shove back into the box every year.

So - I can view all of this as the garish replacing the elegant, OR . . . . I can view it as fun replacing pristine . . . for now.

The day will come when our tree will once again shine in its perfection of white lights and color-coordinated bows and cranberry garland. But for now I'm going to wholeheartedly enjoy the shining delight on four little faces as they bask in the glow of colored lights and blinking star. And I'm going to remind myself - and them - that after all, the tree that gives us reason to celebrate Christmas was made of two rough beams of wood, and soaked with the blood of God's own Son, so that we can enjoy eternal perfection with HIM - forever.

I guess with that in mind, I can put up with a few colored lights!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Progress

Starting in September, our yard has been going through a bit of a makeover . . .

Phase 1
Old driveway

No driveway

New driveway

Phase 2
It was a sad day. Our 2 backyard trees, which have provided shade for us these past 7 years, had to be put to sleep. One was dead already, and the other would have been completely dead a year or 2 from now. I miss them so much, but it needed to be done. (and it's been a lot less raking this fall!) Plus, my dad was able to haul the wood away to use this winter.

No more trees *sob*. When we had the old driveway broken up, we only repaved it to the garage, so we could seed over the part that cut through our back yard.

Phase 3
Killing the grass with industrial strength weed killer. It took about 2 weeks to die a slow, painful, depressing death.

Phase 4
Tilling & Re-seeding
Danny & his dad spent the better part of an afternoon tearing up the back yard and spreading seed.

Waiting . . .

And then, this week . . . .

Hallelujah! Now all that's left to do is maybe some over-seeding and a fence when spring comes. Thanks be to God, we've had great weather this fall for our grass to come in. Can't wait to use our much larger, fenced-in backyard next spring & summer!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Catching Up

Life never stops, whether I post about it or not! So . . . now that we're just a few weeks away from Thanksgiving, here are a few random pics from October.

We celebrated Mr. Moo's birthday with a family gathering and Elmo cake. I've definitely gotten my money's worth on my Elmo Wilton cake pan, since I think I've used it for every one of our kiddos for their second birthday. They all seem to go bonkers over Elmo around the time they turn 2, which is fine by me, since this cake is super easy to make.

Our annual day at Brumbaugh's Fruit Farm for Fall Fun Fest. We went with friends who also have four kiddos about the same ages as ours and then had pizza at our place afterward. I gave the kiddos "hot chocolate", which turned out to be cappuccino - wrong cannister! Oops. I don't think any of them slept that night.

Each year, trying to fit our growing number of kiddos on the turkey gets more interesting . . .

OK, this Belle is a little scary!

It was a rather windy day.

Several weekends ago, we had the chance to go with some wonderful, new friends to La Comedia dinner theater to see a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Afterward, I got a picture with Elvis/Pharaoh. He and the guy who played Joseph did an excellent job.

The kiddos have had a blast with the fallen leaves. Mr. Moo loves to "help" rake them up, and then scatter them all over the yard again. My little helper.

This past Wednesday was '80s night at AWANA. Oh, the memories . . .

Now I'm going to enjoy the beautiful fall day. I love this season!