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.