Monday, December 28, 2009

Kennedy's Vanity

Interested in seeing Kennedy's Christmas present? Click on over to Pieces of Molly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

I braved the storm the other night, at least as far as the porch, so I could snap a couple pictures of the blowing snow.

It snowed for about 36 hours straight, but at the time of the pictures it was starting to work up into a fury. We missed seeing most of it because it finished with a bang during the night.

The following day we had a few flurries in the morning that gradually tapered off and petered out. But boy, did the wind blow. I went out around noon to shovel and I had to be very strategic about where I threw the snow or it would blow right back in my face. This picture was taken at about 7:30 in the morning.

Now, a day later, we are facing sub-zero temperatures and even worse wind chills. It was clear and sunny today, blindingly bright. I hope it warms up a bit soon because I'd like to go out and play in this snow, but I am NOT a sub-zero kind of girl!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Miracle on Iowa Street

Saturday was the annual downtown Christmas celebration. The day is filled with events for families. We began the day at home with a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage. With our bodies full of warm, satisfying food, we set out to do a bit of shopping. The United Methodist Church hosts Santa's Secret Shop each year. It is a fantastic service to the community. You're invited to drop your kids off for an hour to do independent shopping. We take them inside and sign them in with the head elf who gives them a name tag and a number. She then turns each child over to their own personal shopping assistant elf who asks them exactly how many people they need to shop for (you can send them with a list!). They take them downstairs to the shop and help them choose, purchase and wrap their gifts. Gifts are priced $1-10. When shopping is completed, they are escorted to a room where they watch Christmas movies and partake of cookies and hot cocoa until their parents return to pick them up. We gave each of the kids $10 to spend on the sibling whose name they drew this year. When we picked them up they had $18 in change and had purchased a couple things for Lincoln and me as well. We were a little concerned that perhaps they just got junk, but we shall see. I remember thinking the same thing last year and being pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning. They love being able to do this, though. It means so much more to them to go in without Mom and Dad breathing down their necks making suggestions. Plus, Lincoln and I get an hour to do some of our own shopping. (We kept Jesse with us, but he's still totally unaware as we put things in the cart while he's looking the other way.)
After shopping, we came home and had some lunch, then Jesse and Lincoln napped while I took the other kids ice skating. This was a first for everyone but Kennedy.

Let me tell you, I was having some regrets when we first got there. Renie cried from the time I started getting her ready at home, right straight on through the first 45 minutes of skating. Let me back up and say that I was not planning on bringing her at all. She threw a fit about being left behind, so I let her come along. Then she threw a fit about everything she could think of for the next solid hour. Neither she nor Devon could even stand on their skates on the ice at first, so I was dragging them both around, trying to help them get a feel for it. There were little walker things for little kids to use to help them stand, but we couldn't get our hands on one for quite some time. More than once I spotted an abandoned one and sent Kennedy after it and this one little kid kept zipping across the ice and grabbing them right before Kennedy got there--and then used it for herself! I was ready to trip her. Here I am, I haven't been on skates myself in years, and I'm dragging two non-skaters around and can't get to one of those things before the incredibly annoying and obnoxious child. And where is the kid's parent anyway? Another 8 or 9 year old girl was sitting on the ice, not skating, but had 3 adults guarding her claimed apparatus. Kennedy asked for it for us and they wouldn't give it to her. Sometimes I really despise people. My faith in humanity was restored later when this sweet little girl saw us struggling and brought us one. In fact, by the time we were done, 2 or 3 little kids did that.
Kids in a heap.

By the end, Devon was able to skate a bit on his own. He fell a lot, but he did it.

Renie did really well holding my hand, and skated independently a little tiny bit, (after she finally finished her fit.)
She refused to wear the mittens I brought for her, so she didn't like holding onto this cold metal thing. It sure made life easier for me, though!

Julia picked it up very quickly and was soon skating around like an old pro.

In the end, everyone had a great time and can't wait to go again. Everyone wants skates for Christmas now.
We took a Christmas movie break after skating and I made homemade pizza, carmelitas, and hot cocoa for later.
At 6:00 we went to the Christmas parade. We really enjoy this event every year. I'm not sure why, but we do.

Waiting for the parade to start.

Jesse watching up the street for a fire truck. They spaced everything out really far this year. I don't know if it was an attempt to make the parade last longer, but I'd like the powers to be to know that we're fine with a 15 minute winter parade. Really.

The best float was a nod to A Christmas Story.

Renie scored a bird's eye view.

Santa actually showed up in a one horse open sleigh this year.

After the parade we ate the yummys I had made earlier, finished the movie we had started, and played Ticket to Ride with the two big girls. Once the kids were in bed, Lincoln and i snuggled onto the couch with hot cocoa and watched another Christmas movie.

It was a perfect, fun-filled, Christmasy Saturday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Tree-Getting Time Again!

Unbelievable, but true. We went last Saturday to get not one, but two trees for our home. We debated when to go for the tree. We had gone back and forth and around and around. See, we really wanted to have snow for the outing. It just doesn't seem right to get a tree without trudging through snow. You would think after six years living in NC, this wouldn't be an issue for us anymore. However, it always bothered us then, though we accepted it and looked past it. But now that we live up north again, it just doesn't seem right. There is no snow here. I checked the extended forecast on Friday night and saw that there was a chance of snow the following Friday and Saturday. We decided to wait. Saturday morning, when other plans fell through, (I was supposed to go shopping with my cousin who at that point had been up barfing most of the night), we started thinking again about getting the tree. I checked the forecast again and already the chance of snow was gone. We determined there was certainly no guarantee there would be snow next weekend so we might as well go ahead and get it now.
In the early morning it had been quite chilly, temps in the low30s or upper 20s, so I put hats and gloves and big coats on everyone who would let me and we headed out. By the time we had arrived and started walking out into the trees, it was quite warm.

(Remember this?!)

Lincoln just had on a sweater and the kids had started stripping off layers. The sun was shining brightly- and warmly. We wandered around, inspecting trees, walking a circle around them, judging their size and fullness.

We decided on a lovely, thick tree for the family room, and a smaller, narrower tree for the living room.

Lincoln cut them down easily, this year laying in dirt and mud to do it instead of snow,

and we dragged them back to the barn for binding.

The kids and I went inside for free hot cocoa and Lincoln secured the trees to the top of the car.

As I was standing in line waiting to pay, I struck up a conversation with the lady next to me. We talked a bit about the weather and I expressed to her that we had thought about waiting until next weekend. She said, "Oh no! This weekend is perfect!" Obviously she missed my point that we LIKE to have snow for tree-getting. I will admit, however, that it was easy. No dragging a bundled up toddler through knee-high (to him) snow. No biting wind whipping across the hills. No frozen fingers. No mittens lost in the rows of trees. BUT, there also were no rosy cheeks, no snowball fights, no trail through the snow from the dragging tree, no marshmallow world, no mist of snow blown off the tree in the shaker, no sled rides, and honestly the hot cocoa just seemed superfluous.

I still haven't really gotten a picture of the trees put up. The big tree fell over yesterday and has yet to be properly redecorated.

Snow is in the forecast again for next week. I'm ready for it. I need a little boost to my Christmas Spirit.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and considering all the sickness we've had around here, it went pretty well.
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Renie threw up. Again. After having the barfs a week and a half previous. I was so discouraged! It had been through everyone (but me) and I was convinced we would all be on the mend for Thanksgiving. I still had a glimmer of hope, however. I mean, how likely was it that everyone would go through the whole thing again? On Wednesday, my cousin Karen called me to see how everyone was doing and whether they should still come or not. I told her that Renie had thrown up the day before but would have a full 24 hours to recover before the holiday. She told me she would call in the morning before they came to make sure all was well.
At about 10:00 that night, Devon threw up. That's when I threw in the towel. I quit my preparations for the next day figuring it didn't matter what time things were done because it would just be us anyway. I crawled into bed and read for a while.
I got up Thanksgiving morning and put the turkey in the oven at 7:00. Around 7:30 I called Karen and broke the news to her. We talked things over a bit, trying to convince ourselves that it would be OK for them to come. In the end she said she would talk to her husband and call me back. Ten minutes later she called and said they were coming- on one condition that I had to agree to: If her kids were sick the week that Jamie was gone, I had to help take care of them.
Of course I agreed and my spirits lifted. The Thanksgiving celebration would proceed as planned.
I immediately busied myself with preparations and thanks in great part to my previous planning, organizing and preparing, things went quite smoothly. I was ready on time and the food was mostly still warm.

This year's menu:
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Sauteed garlic and sesame seed green beans
Spicy teriyaki mushrooms
Brown bread and squash stuffing
Lavender and honey butternut squash
(And the Knouses' contributions)
Sweet potatoes with marshmallows
Traditional stuffing
Another turkey

Of course we had a pickle tray (homemade pickles, some really tasty ones and some that none of us were brave enough to try.)
Green and black olives
Black olives in a marinade
Jellied cranberry sauce

We had almost enough pies/cheesecakes for each of us to have our own. 13 people, 9 desserts. Oh, and a loaf of banana bread.

Jamie made a plain cheesecake, a marbled cheesecake(plain and pumpkin- delectable), two pumpkin pies, and the banana bread.

I made a chocolate peanut butter pie, apple cranberry pie, Pumpkin tart with walnut shortbread crust (with a cranberry coulis for the top which was fantastic on the marbled cheesecake, by the way), and a layered pumpkin pie.

We visited and played a game in the evening and then the Knouses headed home early, since Karen had to work the next day.

By Friday night, Karen and Orion were throwing up.
Surely they must have had it in their systems before Thursday, though. It certainly wouldn't have them sick that fast. Right? So we'll see if I have sick kids to watch next week.

I am so thankful to have family nearby to celebrate with.

For many years Karen and I have wished we lived closer to each other. What a blessing to finally have that be a reality. I'm so glad that our kids will have memories of holidays together-

and that we can do the everyday things together as well.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Regurgitation- just had to get that one in...

Meredith thought it was funny that I labeled the last post with "Barf Fest". She naively asked me if I thought there was a likelihood I would be using that label again. Obviously she wasn't reading this blog back when Barf Fest 2008 took place. Or when we discovered that Barf Fest 2008 was a week-long event. Somehow she must have missed LAST Thanksgiving when we made the trip home to NY and the kids decided to have a Holiday Barf Fest.
And as I was searching my blog for barf posts, (it would have been SOOOO much easier if I had started using the Barf Fest label sooner), I discovered that all in one post I used the terms barf, puke, vomit, and throw up. Wow. That's impressive.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Barf Fest 2009 Thanksgiving Edition

If you don't follow my daily, sometimes hourly, updates on Facebook or talk to me frequently on the phone, you may not be aware that we've been fighting the barfs here since two Saturdays ago when Renie threw up after her dance recital. She threw up once, slept for several hours, then was fine. We kept her home from church on Sunday as a precaution, then went back to normal on Monday. On Wednesday, Jesse threw up. On Thursday morning he had horrible diarrhea, but acted fine. Friday he did great most of the day, his usual happy self. Then Friday night he threw up again. Saturday he was fine, except the lingering diarrhea. Sunday we all went to church. Sunday afternoon, Julia threw up. She threw up repeatedly into the evening. At bedtime Devon threw up. They both stayed home on Monday. Devon ate heartily by Monday afternoon. Monday night at bedtime, Kennedy threw up. Sometime in the night, Lincoln started throwing up. Tuesday morning, Devon insisted on going to school for fear of missing too much work ( he's in kindergarten). I sent Renie to school as well. Lincoln, Julia, and Kennedy all stayed home. Convinced that everyone was now done throwing up, except, of course, me (please let it miss me. please), I bleached the entire bathroom. Tuesday afternoon, Renie started throwing up. (*Please refer back to where this started. WHAT? WHY IS SHE PUKING AGAIN!!!???)

*Just in case you forgot, Thanksgiving is in 2 DAYS! Ugh!

*A little humor in the situation. Devon went to the bathroom this afternoon. When he came out I asked him if he had diarrhea. (I'm trying to keep close tabs on what everyone is doing in the bathroom).
Devon: No. Why?
Me: I just thought it sounded like you had diarrhea in there. But you didn't?
Devon, raising his eyebrows and kind of shrugging like, "No crazy, woman, I don't know why you'd ask": Nope. Just water-poop.

*Lincoln told Kennedy she would get a prize if she managed to be the only child to not barf on the floor.

*Kennedy will not be receiving a prize.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dance Recitals

Saturday was the last day of dance in this session for Julia and Irene. They have both very much enjoyed their classes and have done well in them. Julia seems to really have a knack for dance, she is graceful and coordinated. Renie's "recital" was really more of a demonstration of the skills they have learned. She did very well with her leaps and ballet positions.

(Is that a cute little mug, or what?)

Julia's class performed a dance to "Thriller". It was really good and Julia was fantastic. I'm so frustrated that I had no way to videotape it. But here are a million pictures.

(I'm sorry, is it just me, or is my daughter incredibly beautiful?)

Kennedy's Veteran's Day Program

The school district always does a nice Veteran's Day program. I attended the one at Kennedy's school because she was selected, after trying out, to sing the harmony part in the songs they performed. Four kids from each class were chosen. She was very excited to be selected, and I'm proud of her for trying out for it.

This is the entire student body, K-4. 5th graders are half the school and were in another spot.

A local Veteran guest speaker.

Jesse found the speaker a little dull.

I know this is blurry and Kennedy's eyes are closed, but it was pretty crowded in there and this was the best shot I got.

More local veterans, the guests of honor.
My cousin Karen and her family moved to the area back in August. Thrilled to live near each other for the first time in our adult lives, we have tried to get together a couple Sundays a month after church, in addition to any other time we can hang out. Generally, we swap whose house we go to, we combine resources for a dinner, and we play a game or go for a walk or just sit and visit. Last Sunday, the Knouses came to our house and we went for a walk.

Along the way we passed a corn field. Karen told Orion (her 12 year old) that this was his chance to run through a corn field. He looked at her uncertainly. She said, "Go ahead!" He still didn't believe he could really do it, so I took off running into the corn like a maniac. When I stopped to turn around, I could hear lots of crashing footsteps and rustling corn behind me. I moved over a row and started running back. When I got back out I tried to get pictures of everyone as they came out.

There is something about running wild through a corn field that just makes me feel youthful. Once in while I do something like that, something I haven't done in years. Something I have forgotten about or grown out of or haven't had the opportunity to do. Immediately I return to my childhood, to corn fields, to haymows, to horseback riding, to playing in the brook, to rivers, to ice skating on a frozen pond. I am so very grateful for the way of life I experienced growing up. I am grateful for a simple time and a simple place and for a secure, loving family. I've said before that I wish my kids could experience more of the simple joys that I got to as a child, but I am glad that they too are part of a secure, loving family, and that they are experiencing simple joys of their own.