Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Little Packages, Big Smiles

Each one of these smiles was from a different package in the stocking. Santa did well with what he had, and made a certain little boy VERY happy.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Noah's Christmas Poem

Noah was so excited to have gotten an art kit for Christmas ($2.99 at Michael's) and sat down that afternoon to write a Christmas poem.

I wondered a little at the spelling of the word "just"

And I loved the picture of us all holding hands.

I am not quite sure why Noah has three arms though.

You can tell who I am...the only one with hair.

Weekend Top Five 12/29/08

I guess, after a crazy week with a major holiday, the weekend was destined for a bit of a "let down", but it really didn't happen. Even though Steve had to to return to work on Friday, the boys and I had a really good day anyway, followed by a great and low stress weekend. Just what I like, especially with another sub-holiday coming up this week.

5. Friday PlayWorld and Shopping

After the craziness of the holiday, Deb and I set off to PlayWorld for a few hours to let the kids run off some steam. And run they did! Noah spent the time trying to take pictures with the little digital camera he got for Christmas ($10 at Walgreens). The quality of pictures is horrid (see left) but he loves taking the pictures and seeing them right away.

I'm actually bummed that it was so would have been the best picture of Aaron and me that I have ever seen. We may have to spring for the real thing for him sometime in the near future.

That night, Deb and I resumed our Friday night shopping trips, this time to return all of the things that didn't fit/didn't work as well as a few clearance Christmas sales. The best part of the night though was sitting with Deb in Wendy's, drinking water and eating ice cream, getting a chance to just talk about the week and our kids.

4. Saturday Children's Museum

After being motivated to start the un-decorating process just a little, we headed to the ever popular children's museum for a few hours of fun. Steve had the most fun in the penguin exhibit this week, making friends with a puppet.

3. Sunday Church

Somewhat uneventful, except that our quartet sang for both services, and we got a chance to see our friend Chris and his adorable daughter, Juliana, for the first time in quite a while.

2. Sunday at the in-Laws

Since the family Christmas had gotten cancelled, we hadn't had a chance to celebrate Christmas with Steve's parents yet, so we headed up for the day after church. It is only about an hour drive, and the quietest we have ever had, now that both boys have Leapsters and Noah also had his new mp3 player.

It was a pretty good visit, although Aaron had an out-of-character accident (he's four) and had to wear my MIL's panties and sweatshirt for the bulk of the day.

The boys both got some Disney Dollars to spend when we go in March, which they were so excited about and I got some bubble bath.

1. Me

I guess the best thing about this weekend was how I was feeling. For some reason, I have been feeling more at peace the last few days. Our financial situation is still a mess, but I think I have been letting it affect my mood to the kids too much, and I didn't let it this weekend. We were all so much calmer, no major temper tantrums, raising of voices, or anger. For most people, this would be the norm, but for me, as I battle my demons, a weekend like this one reassures me that we're all going to be okay, that I'm an okay mom, my children feel loved and secure, and we will make it together, no matter what.

I hope you all had a great weekend too. Today, it's off to haircuts for the boys and planning for a kid-sized New Years' Eve Party in our basement.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After...

When I was little, my mom had a Harry Simeone Christmas record with a choral arrangement of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" She played it over and over and later when my sister was in high school, her choir sang it. I then purchased the CD for myself when I got older and it became one of Steve's and my favorite songs to sing along with in the car.

The last verse was running through my head all night last night expresses the sentiment of the day...

"Twas the night AFTER Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
The presents are scattered and broken I fear
And St. Nicholas won't come again for a year"

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

An Impossible Task made Simpler

After a very busy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and over 100 pictures on the camera, it is quite impossible to share all of the pictures in one post. So I thought I would condense my Christmas Day summary into a Top Five, similar to my weekend top five. It should be much easier to manage.

5. Christmas Eve 5:00 Service

My parents were supposed to come but with the weather looking iffy, I called them earlier in the day and suggested that maybe it would not be such a good idea.

There were three momentous events surrounding this service

A. Our family lit the advent candles for the service, which included Noah doing a reading and even Aaron speaking "Hope, Faith, Joy, Love" into the microphone. I was so proud of both of them.

B. While all of the kids of the church were up front looking at Baby Jesus during "Silent Night" the front candle stick toppled forward toward the crown on stage, shattering on the floor in front of the front pew sending glass everywhere. I stood up on the front step blocking kids from walking down while about five other parents crawled around on the floor picking up glass, while the singing continued on. At the end of the service, our pastor stood up and said "No one can say that we didn't bring down the house at our Christmas Eve Service!"

C. The service ran long and we were starving and ended up at at Friday's for dinner.

4. Christmas Eve at home

We got home somewhat late, but still had time for

setting out milk and cookies

and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, complete with blowing out a candle..

We had made reindeer food, but it was so bitter cold out, we decided that the reindeer would be okay this year.

3. Presents

We got started opening around 8:00 with stocking stuff, stopped for a breakfast casserole that Noah complained EXTREMELY vocally about, and then finished up around11:00. The favorites of the day were:
Noah's Bakugans

Noah's "Ipod" (really a somewhat cheap mp3 player but he was thrilled) and speakers

Aaron's drum

Steve got me some pajamas and slippers too.

2. Ah--Choo!!!

Somehow, everyone in our house has caught some sort of allergy and was sneezing, sniffling ALL DAY. We ran out of tissue buy mid morning and by the end, all of our noses were red and raw. It woke us all up early, and made for rough sleeping on the night before Christmas.

I finally took some benadryl to survive, which knocked me out completely for a little while, accompanied by the cats (and our stocking treats that Aaron kept sneaking into).

And even Noah gave himself some down time after awhile, surrounded by his favorite gifts.

I am praying that we all feel better tomorrow, but for sure we will be making a trip to the store to buy some tissue with lotion in it.

1. The PIE

Yup, after posting about never getting any pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, I took things into my own hands and bought my own apple pie to bake and have with ice cream when we got home from looking at Christmas lights.

Here we are looking at an amazing display called Christ Lights in Byron Center, complete with its own radio station and synchronized light show

But this is what was waiting at home. For no reason whatsoever, I took the pie out of the tin before I put it on the pan, and the pan and pie all ended up in the dumpster outside.

It was a fun and exhausting Christmas. Does anyone else feel the let down when it's over? I don't as much yet. Maybe because it was a good day, or maybe because I am ready to get our life back to some semblance of "normal".

I can tell you this much though. I have no intention of taking the tree down any time soon. It just may stay up until March.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Top Five 12/22/08

You would think I would have more to say for the weekend before Christmas, but weather and an out of commission vehicle helped to slow us down.

Any weekend is a good weekend though, right?

5. Snow Day

What do you do when school is cancelled and you have no car to leave the house all day?

Waste away in front of the TV?

Brave the elements outside?

Get caught eating the play dough and brush your teeth in the middle of the afternoon?

Or help mom clean the house?

4. Saturday practice

After being home all day on Friday for a snow day, it was good to head to church Saturday morning for dress rehearsal. Knowing we were going to be there for three hours, I let Aaron bring his new soccer ball to play with in fellowship hall and gave Noah a new leapster game that was supposed to go into his stocking. I still can't believe how well behave they were the entire time and the rehearsal certainly made me feel much better about the performance the next day.

3. Anniversary Dinner Out
Although we couldn't really do anything for our anniversary, we were able to take advantage of the babysitting that Deb's church was offering Saturday night and get out for dinner and a little bit of stocking shopping.

2. Sunday Performance
After six months of preparation, we finally had our music performance at church. We hired orchestra members from the Grand Rapids Symphony. Almost all of the orchestra
and most of the choir members made it to the church despite the blizzard conditions and over 300 church cancellations. We stayed open and actually had people in the congregation to listen. My bells did better than I expected and the performance for the most part went quite well. I had tons of coloring pages for my cherubs. Noah did great sitting through the entire service waiting for his choir's turn to sing.

1. Sunday at home
With sub-zero wind chills all day on Sunday, we settled in for snuggles and games. The boys are still excited about all of the Christmas decorations. I got a glass"present" with lights for a gift a couple of years ago from someone in church and Noah has had it in his room. Aaron has been sad that he doesn't have one. I was given another one from the pastor as a present after the church service Sunday and the boys were very excited to pose together now that they both had one.

What a fun week we have ahead. Steve is taking a vacation day on Monday and we are off to the public museum for a family fun day. Then a few days left until the Big Day. I am worried about building it up too much. I always feel so let down when it's over.

Happy Monday and please let me know if you posted your weekend.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Asked For It...

But I didn't prepare.

Yup, pretty much every school in West Michigan is closed, including Noah's. I admit I wanted it.

But did I prepare?

Of course not.

Our van has been in the shop since Wednesday, with no hopes for repair any time in the near future so we are home without a car.

Did I go shopping, knowing since Monday that this storm was on its way?


We have no milk, no jelly, no cereal. Pretty much the only things my kids will eat in the morning.

I have never craved milk so much.

It is about a three quarters mile walk to McDonald's but the wind chills are in the single digits and we are getting 1-2 inches of snow per hour, which means that the sidewalks won't be clear enough to walk.


Please tell me this is not going to be the way the entire Christmas Break goes.

Just to add to the fun...

Noah was snooping under our bed and found "TOYS!"

Luckily, it was the wrapped ones that I was going to give them in case there was a snow day. Everything else is wrapped in a pile of three tubs, sitting about 18 inches away from them, covered by a blanket and dirty clothes.

I'm SOOOO hungry!

And I think I hear the first squabble beginning in the living room.

Happy Snow Day Everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Photo Story Friday: Santa Comes To Preschool

Aaron's preschool class had their Christmas party yesterday.

Pretty much you typical Christmas party;

BINGO, a craft,


and a cute little program in which none of the kids really sang but still looked cute.

The funniest part was when there was a knock on the door and Santa came in to visit.

Keeping in true Aaron personality, while the rest of the kids looked at him in wonder, Aaron ran up to him with open arms (all the while getting scolded by the teacher to stay in his place....I was with him...go give the big guy a hug!)

But then, while all the rest of the kids were waiting at their tables for the candy canes that Santa was distributing, MY SON was at the window.

Why? You may ask

He was searching for the sleigh. He was absolutely convinced that the sleigh just HAD to be outside somewhere.

So then he went up to Santa to ask him and Santa pointed up to tell him that the sleigh was on the roof with the reindeer.

And this:

is how I found my son took for the rest of the time that Santa was visiting his class.

This week was full of some major stresses of which I have kept out of the blog this week, but I hope next week will be better and the problems we are facing become less daunting than they feel at the moment.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday Thirteen: Twelfth Anniversary

This Sunday, my hubby and I will be celebrating our 12th anniversary. It's been an adventure. We began as buddies, then stopped talking for awhile, and then became best friends. I always joke that I fell in love with his singing voice long before I fell in love with him. I thought I would do my Thursday Thirteen about a milestone from each year of our married life together.

I only hope I can remember...

1. 1996
We got married on December 21st, a week after college graduation. Your typical white trash wedding. Cold cuts and homemade decorations. My in-laws were appalled, but it was all we could afford...still is.

2. 1997
We picked up and moved to Wisconsin, three states away from all of our family. We still believe to this day that it may have been the best thing for us as we started our married life.

3. 1998
After a year and a half later, we moved back to Michigan so we could start our family near our own family and friends. We settled in the Grand Rapids area since it was within an hour of both our families...just the right distance

4. 1999
Moved out of the ghetto house in which we were living into a "real" apartment.

5. 2000
Started my first full time teaching job. Steve worked for a utility locating company.

6. 2001
We take our first and only vacation as a childless married couple to Disney World with my brother and his girlfriend (now wife) and my parents. Wonderful trip and we look forward to our trip with the boys this March, the exact same week as in 2001.

7. 2002
We bought our first (and current) house and had our first child, a beautiful baby boy named Noah.

8. 2003
How sad is this? I can't think of a single memorable event in this year. We were busy struggling, learning how to be parents and dealing with the guilt of having a child in full time day care.

9. 2004
We added a second son to our household, a sweet baby named Aaron.

10. 2005
Steve loses his job, throwing us into the world of unemployment and panic.

11. 2006
Steve falls of a ladder at his new job (after being unemployed for seven months), suffering severe injuries to his ankle and giving us our biggest challenge as of yet. We made it through with prayer, friendships, and Mike's Hard lemonade.

12. 2007
Steve returns to work as a warehouse employee. I began teaching piano at a music store as an employee, versus self employment.

13. 2008
A year of major ups and downs, but with two people who still love each other and are happy to see each other at the end of the night and when they wake up in the morning.

Happy Anniversary Steve. I Love You!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Old School Punishment

In keeping with my policy, I will not give details. I will just say that the emails between myself one of my children's teacher were a-flyin' yesterday. Yelling and punishments don't work. So I thought I would try the "old school" way.

(update: just got an email from teacher...much better day so far today)

I guess we'll see what happens today...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Looking Ahead

I just have to blog about my worries. I often read the blog of our local weatherman Bill Steffen when a big storm is expected. We're in the little circle of red in Michigan. And Guess what I just read?

They even had a 10% chance of 12″+ north of GRR for the Thurs. night storm. Click to see the 120-hour total snowfall from the GFS model and the 84-hour total snowfall from the NAM model (note because the NAM is only 84-hours, it will have less snow than the GFS, which goes out 36 more hours). Here’s a wider view of expected snow. Get the plows and shovels ready…and get set for some possible school closings on Friday!

Is he serious? Will the last day before Christmas vacation be cancelled? No parties, presents, etc? Will the kids be bummed or thrilled? Will I? Already this year, they have predicted storms that have not developed. Should be an interesting week.

Stay tuned...