Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New traditions in the making!

We were supposed to be in Kalamazoo on the 20th for a family Christmas party but the roads were too dangerous, so we stayed home. We had to come up with something else that would be fun so the kids wouldn't be so upset about staying home. My idea was, let's stay in the house and play games or make cookies. S's idea... snow football. Of course when we presented the ideas to the kids, they voted to do both.

We had such a great time. We, of course, had to play tackle. The only ones that couldn't be tackled were E and K. We learned quickly that Dad is impossible to take down, although we definitely tried. Everyone scored at least one touchdown. E was on my team and we took advantage of her "no tackle" rule.

Unfortunely, I didn't get a picture of K. It didn't take her long to decide she didn't want to play. For a while we played around her while she stood in the middle of field, pouting. After a few plays I managed to convince her to sit on the bench and watch. This may turn into a yearly tradition. We had so much fun!!

After the big game we got to make "festivitrees". The kids worked in pairs building Christmas trees out of star cookies. Na and Ni took their time making sure all the m&m's were spaced properly.

D helped Kate very well. They were the perfect pair. D really let K do a lot of the work. She loved it. It was fun watching them work together. My two brown-eyed cuties.

J and E got a little carried away with the sprinkles at the beginning of their tree - I finally had to move the shakers out of their reach. Their tree was the tallest. I'm not sure how they ended up with so many cookies! Hmmm, I wonder... We kept these out as decorations for only one day before the temptation got to us and we started eating them. This turned out to be a very good day.

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Christmas tree adventures

I've decided that I'm just going to be behind by about 2 or 3 weeks with my posts. Maybe eventually I will catch up and actually post something that recently happened. We'll see... These are from December 13th when we went out in lots of snow to cut down our tree. D is not in the picture because he was at merit badge college for scouts. We felt bad to go without him but this was the only time S was not going to be on call.

S said a number of times (and for good reason) "this is why kids need a dad." Absolutely! If S weren't available to 'cut' and 'drag' we would be at the store picking out a lovely, fake, and pre-lit tree. Maybe someday - I can dream can't I?!

Notice the size of the tree. We were supposed to get a 6 or 7 foot tree in order to fit nicely in a corner we picked out in the living room. (With all the new furniture, it was the only good spot.) Well, it's hard to judge size out in the big, white, open field. So... it's a 10-foot tree, again, and we ended up moving some furniture around to accommodate it.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New furniture, finally!

S and I went out the day after Thanksgiving and purchased a lot of furniture for our living room and for D's bedroom. Our living room has needed more seating for years and D's bedroom will also serve as a guest room now. (We told him that it's still his room for 360 days of the year and a guest room for the few days we might have someone visit.) We've never done anything quite like this before. It was very strange. It was delivered right after we got back from Savannah and that was much more overwhelming than I expected. And, trying to paint D's room the very morning before it all came in didn't help the stress level at all. Why would I do that? I didn't realize that getting new furniture would stress me out. What is wrong with me!? Anyway, now that it is all in the house and mostly where I want it, and D's room is completely painted, I can enjoy it.
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S and I got to take a trip (sort of) to Savannah, GA. I say sort of because it was actually a conference for S and I tagged along because he doesn't like to go by himself. We had a blast. I actually went to a few of the lectures with him. They weren't bad. I even got to participate in one of them. I played a 55 year old divorced, diabetic that exercises every day. S played a 60 something, diabetic man with two girlfriends. There was a point in the skit when I was supposed to ask another man in the group if he wanted me to come over every morning and go walking with him. His response was "Is this a date?" That wasn't in the script! I turned red. Later S said he didn't expect such feelings of jealousy and that he didn't like that guy saying that to me - even if it was just part of the skit! It was actually quite funny. In the picture above, I'm standing in the spot where they filmed the bus scene for Forrest Gump.
We had to get a picture of the amazing trees. The branches were all twisted and turned. It's hard to believe that there is that much strength in a tree to be able to hold all of that up. It was cool. And the weather was nice. No snow to deal with. In fact the day we got there it was in the upper 60's.
Here I am in front of The Lady and Sons restaurant (Paula Deen's restaurant), where we ate two nights because it was so good. Real southern cooking... mmmmm!
This is the view from our hotel window. We were right on the Savannah River. We got to the hotel, opened the shades and this is what we saw. It was awesome. I can't believe a ship so large and heavy can stay on top of the water. And this river didn't seem big enough to handle such large ships. This was a great trip for us. We really got to concentrate on our relationship without having to think about all the regular day to day stuff at home. This trip helped us become closer than ever and reconfirmed for us the importance of getting away occasionally alone. We will definitely keep up this tradition. It makes me look forward to the future when we can do stuff like this all the time.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

First Big Snow (from back in November)

First snowman of the season! I forgot I took these pictures, so my posts are a little out of order now. Oops! This snowman is made with the help of a snowman kit I made years ago - I cut out and painted wooden pieces and attached them to dowels which stick into the snowman. The kids love it. This is what they were doing the week before Thanksgiving... so I packed all our snow gear to take with us to Kalamazoo. When we got there... NO SNOW! Talk about packing way too much in the car for no reason. Oh well, it was cold enough to need the hats and mittens at least.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

D's spotlight

D's birthday came up on us fast. He's 14! I can't believe I'm old enough to have a 14 year old child. Life continues to move too quickly for me and keeps getting faster. I can't seem to keep up on everything that I used to. I figured that since D just had a birthday, this might be the perfect time to spotlight him. Here's what I came up with for him:

“In a million words or less…”

He's our oldest child - and that may explain a lot right there. He's always been very good at taking care of younger children, especially babies, even when they are crying. We have felt for a long time that he will be a good dad someday. He used to watch Na for as long as I needed him to when she was a baby – he literally wouldn’t leave her side – he was very aware of protecting her. One example of this was when he even turned down playing with a friend (back when he was 5 years old) because the friend wouldn’t include his sister. When he was a small child he would make all of his toys (especially the dinosaurs) “fight” which meant banging them together over and over again, with the sound effects. He can be funny, and entertaining. He's stubborn. We can depend on him in many situations. He has a soft heart. He loves playing most sports, especially soccer. He is currently trying to learn how to play the piano by teaching himself. He's working to be better at school, and loves his theater class (hidden talent maybe?). He's very ready to grow up - and at 14 he is at the stage of "I know" whenever we try to tell him anything! He used to stand at the top of the stairs and cry for a long periods time – just like his mother used to do as a child – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! He doesn't like to fail at anything. When he was old enough to walk (and we knew he could) he wouldn't take even a few steps at a time if he thought he would fall. I think he wanted to wait until he was sure he could walk across the room without falling before he even tried it. He did the same with talking. He didn't talk until after he turned two. We thought he must have practiced saying words at night while we were asleep so we couldn't hear him, because one day he just started saying everything. He works hard in scouts and enjoys it – most of the time. He loves rewards for behaviors and we have found that money or food work well as motivation for him to do almost anything. He enjoys cooking and seeks after opportunities to make all kinds of foods. He enjoys being in charge – as an oldest child usually does. He says he wants to be an orthodontist when he grows up - he likes to be the one to pull out the loose teeth in our family. And sometimes his younger siblings will let him. He's very confident. Basically, he's a good kid and I look forward to watching him grow into a good man.

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Thanksgiving with new cousins and a visitor from Germany!

S's sister married a man that already had four kids so that meant we got four new cousins to get to know. That made this year's Thanksgiving vacation extra exciting for us. It was amazing how quickly everyone got to know each other. By watching them interact, it was as if they had known each other for years. These are the two boys - ages 6 and 8 - and anyone that knows my boys will know that age doesn't matter to them when it comes to playing and generally being crazy.

Pictured here with E is one of the girls - age 11. They are busy playing the wii. (I don't even know if that's how to spell "wii".) The kids couldn't get enough of that thing.
N poses with her new cousin that's her age - 12. It was strange how much they were alike, as you can see. They even worked together (and with the other girls) to make up a cheerleading dance/routine for everyone. It was fun to watch.
Here's S's sister with their aunt from Germany. We get to see her every few years. The kids enjoyed practicing some of their German with her. It was a lot of fun. We managed to pack a lot into that short trip. Aside from eating constantly, we went to the park with all the kids - played on the playground, played a football game (with the kids!). S and I went shopping and bought a lot of new furniture (which will be seen in an upcoming post). We all went to the movies (for free, compliments of S's sister), the kids and some of the adults played video games, and we hardly slept. It was great!
Of course I cannot end this post without mentioning and giving a huge THANK YOU to the cooks! The food was, as always, excellent.
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