Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Favorite Moment of Christmas Morning


What do you think? If you are reading this in a reader, come click over and check out the new look. Deb was here for close to four hours last night. I loved watching the process and I think I gained quite a bit more knowledge about html and the how it all works. Of course, I could never do it by myself.

Feel free to let me know what you think. But, please do not mention it in facebook. My in-laws are still in the dark about the blog and I need to keep it that way.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Warning: Construction in Progress...:

You may notice my blog looking a little funky at the moment. Over a year ago, Shannon at Gabi's World was wonderful in making me a new layout for my blog. I have loved it!

However, I need a change. Deb at Mom of 3 Girls is here in my freezing kitchen and we're working on a new look, in celebration of my 2 year blogiversary next week.


... if you are visiting me and things look a little goofy, please come back soon and check out the new look.

Thanks again Shannon and Deb :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

It was a strange day and night on Christmas eve this year. Usually, we are struggling to get everything done to get to church by 4:30 for the 5:00 service, since the kids are usually somehow involved in the service.

This year, we were planning to visit a church for Christmas service since we are no longer attending our church home of ten years, but we finally decided to just have a year of being at home and doing our own "worship" of sorts and next year when we find a new church, we'll have a home to in which to worship again.

The day started out with two little boys extremely antsy and I definitely wondered how we would get through the next 12 hours. I knew we needed to make cookies for Santa, since we hadn't, so that became our first task.

One thing that passed the time throughout the day was checking the NORAD website and tracking where Santa was at any given moment. This website was so cool. Not only did it show where in the world Santa had already been, it also had little minute long videos about different landmarks at different places around the world. The boys loved watching the movies and I think I learned a few things too.

In the last few years, we have only gone out to a "real" restaurant once or twice a year, so we decided to keep our Christmas Eve tradition of eating out, and headed out early (due to a winter storm working its way in) to a yummy Mexican restaurant that we like. But not before getting a Christmas Eve pose in front of the tree.

We had to stop for gas, where Steve decided to don the elf hat that Noah had worn for his Christmas program at school, and continue wearing it for the rest of the evening.

The boys did a great job in the restaurant, ordering their food with fries. The funny thing was when it came time to eat, both boys didn't want anything to do with their fries and ended up begging me for all of the rice on my plate. I guess next year they get rice for their side.

After making our way through the freezing rain that was coming down, we were ready for setting out cookies for Santa

and then on to opening presents. Unfortunately, two little boys decided to tell each other what they had gotten for each other, so a bit of the element of surprise was gone. But nevertheless, they were still excited to open their gifts for their brother.

Since we hadn't gone to church, it was still pretty early so we decided to settle in to watch the movie "Veggie Tales Tale of St. Nicholas". We really enjoyed that movie this season and it was kind of neat to see how "Santa Claus" fits into the Christmas story.

Afterward, we turned the TV off, read the Christmas Story from the boys' Bible (even Aaron took a turn reading this year) and then sang some carols together. Our local Christian radio station played a lot of traditional hymns sung by contemporary artists, so the boys actually learned the words to the real Christmas songs this year. So the four of us sat on the couch and sang as many carols as we could before it was time to turn in.

Side Note: The night itself leading into Christmas was a little bit more challenging, as Noah decided to wake up at 3:00 and never go back to sleep, keeping me awake, and sometimes Steve as well. We were all a little grumpy the next day, but I am trying to put that part of Christmas 2009 behind us.

Steve and I have both commented that not going to church on Christmas Eve definitely took away a lot of the special feeling of Christmas, and I really hope that we can find a church soon after the start of the new year so we never have to feel this lost again. But we made the most of it and I think n the boys will still have some nice memories of Christmas Eve this year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Anniversary Da Honey!

Not sure how "Da Honey" started, but it's been our pet name for as long as I can remember. I know. Silly, huh? But so are we.

13 years ago today I was lucky enough to marry my best friend. We have overcome the odds so far and I still thank God every day that he still loves me. I had hoped to post some pictures from the beginning, but I don't have a scanner, so you'll have to trust me when I say we sure do look A LOT older than we did 13 years ago. I see it in my wrinkles, Steve sees it in his hairline.

This weekend the boys spent an overnight with my in-laws so we had a chance to go out for dinner just the two of us. I think that is one of the nicest thing about having a Christmas anniversary is that we have one night during the busy holidays to just be together.

Happy Anniversary, Da Honey. I love you!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Readying The Countdown

(The glue stick didn't work so mommy broke out her trusty glue gun)

9 Days to Go!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A New Day

Today is indeed a new day. After writing that post yesterday, it seemed as if this huge weight was lifted off of my shoulder. Steve was amazed when he came home from work yesterday and saw me smiling. He was actually shocked. He said he couldn't believe the difference in how I looked versus the past week. All of a sudden, I started thinking about things in a more clear manner and I am free to start enjoying the holidays.

Last Saturday we had our family Christmas with my parents. These gatherings are always so much fun because the cousins really do adore each other. All of them. They are so lucky to have so many cousins all within the same age range and I love that they are friends, not "just cousins".

When we got there, I wanted to make sure to get a picture off all 12 of the cousins together with my parents and I was so happy that everyone was willing to help we wrangle it together. Of course when you try to get 12 kids, ages one month to 17 years old in one picture, there are going to be challenges getting everyone to look forward, smile, and (as in the case of some goofy boys, Noah included) some less than ideal facial expressions. But I think the final one turned out pretty good.

After Aaron's birthdayy party when all of the cousins had fun jumping in the bean bag chair he had gotten, my parents decided to get bean bags for the rest of the kids who didn't have them. On the way there, Steve and I had wondered where they were going to hide all of those bean bags. We didn't have to wonder too long. I laughed when I saw them all stuffed high in the bath tub waiting for the appropriate time.

When it came time for gifts, the kids got so excited when my dad started bringing out the bean bags one at a time for them. They looked so cute all sitting in them together. Immediately after, the kids started picking up their bags and carrying them to different rooms in the house. Noah took his downstairs to watch a movie. He has loved it all week long as well and I think it was definitely the perfect gift for him.

This year was also "The Year Of the Lego". Every boy got at last one set of legos and they were eager to begin to build right away.

Noah found a corner and set to work right away. He needed a little bit of help finding pieces, but in general, he is really good at reading the directions and putting them together. He played with his fire engine the rest of the day and every day since he has wanted to show me all of its special features.

Aaron and my nephew are a little bit younger and wanted to play with their legos, but aren't quite as adept at putting them together yet. That's where the moms come in. My SIL and I got to work on the sets for those boys. I have to admit, I actually like putting them together when there's a plan. I am just not a creative person to come up with ideas on my own.

After they had played, eaten lots of yummy food and treats it was bath time. The favorite time of day when visiting Grandma's House. Aaron and my niece started out the party followed by almost every kid in turn afterward. My parents always get the kids pajamas so I had to take a picture of the cousins all snuggly warm in their new pjs before the fun day ended. Half of them were watching a movie at the time so it was kind of hard to get them to look at the camera, but I still thought they looked cute with their arms around each other.

It really was a great Christmas celebration and I left feeling as if we really had celebrated Christmas Day. I woke up Sunday morning with the usual let down I feel when Christmas is over, only to realize that we still had two more weeks before the real day. It feels like one more little gift...a longer Christmas season in a way.

This week is a little crazy with last minute preparations as well as a whole bunch of extra activities to make up for the three snow days the boys had last week. I am looking out my window at a very light dusting of snow coming down and it is beautiful. It's gonna be a great day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

So Many Questions

That's what I have.

Things aren't as simple as just walking away from ten years of my life and not looking back. The relationships formed cannot all just be severed. Nor does one REALLY want them to be. I wasn't sure which I would have preferred. Tons of good byes and tears, or just to not be noticed and fade into oblivion. I'm still not sure which is best because we seem to be caught somewhere in between.

The day I told the bells that I wouldn't be back, the youth members were a bawling mess and the adults just smiled and said, "See ya". I was so hurt because it made me open my eyes and question what kind of relationships these really were. Were these people my friends? Did they care an inkling about the work I had put into to creating this program and teaching them? Were they just in shock, as was suggested to me by a couple of people? The woman that started this entire mess joined right back into the bell choir the week after I left, making it very clear that she was just waiting for me to get out of her way so she could stake her claim again. I seem to be bubbling over in resentment, even though I don't want to be. How is it that after all I have done, I have to walk away with my tail between my legs and she gets to come out on top as a superstar? Should I really care or should I just be relieved that we are free to take our family somewhere where our children are accepted. And what about the calls and emails we are getting from the other members of the church whom we have shared so much love and who have loved us for the last ten years? What do we say to them? What was the right way to handle this if this wasn't it?

Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I have been desperately trying to pray for her and the other clique members who drove us away. But I'm not sure I have done so with my whole heart. I keep thinking that why should I pray for her when she was the one who came out smelling like roses and is free to stay at the church and hurt others again. I almost feel like I am being punished by my faith since I feel like I have to pray for her but who's praying for me?

If you have never face these type of questions, then you are probably thinking I am the worst person in the world. But if you are, please let me know. It would be nice to know that I am not alone in this struggle.

I am also very tired of the wallowing. I want to move on. I NEED to move on. So many people have REAL problems and this seems so petty. As a matter of fact, WE have REAL problems that need to be dealt with and I have been ignoring them because I have been so busy wasting all of my energy on being hurt and angry. Pretty dumb, huh?

Every time I think I have officially let go, we get one more email or one more phone call from someone and it's just making it more and more drawn out. Two of my piano students are members of the bell choir so there really is no way to completely sever ties. It is very hard to not ask, "How are things going?"

The kids have started asking when we are going to start looking for another church. I don't know how to answer. I can't imagine starting over again. Walking into a church where everyone knows everyone else and feeling like the outsider trying to fit in. And also the fear of becoming one of a new church body, only to be hurt again. Have I learned enough from this experience yet for it to make me a better person? What went wrong to make me so screwed up? What can I do to help my boys escape the same fate?

So, enough of this wallowing post that most of you have already stopped reading. This is one of those self-reflective, just get it out in words so it's not swimming around in my head posts anyway.

I do have some fun posts for the week, I promise. I have pictures to share from my family Christmas this weekend and also quite a few crafts that we've made over the last couple of weeks. Hope you are having a great Monday.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Very Best Day

As I sit here contemplating life and how it brings waves that carry us through the ups and downs, I started thinking about some of the ups of 2009. I asked Steve and the boys the other night what their favorite day of 2009 was, and all three of them responded with the same day I would have chosen...Friday, March 20th. Our last day on vacation in Florida. We woke up at the crack of dawn and waited at the entry to Walt Disney World and stayed until close. It was the most exhausting and awesome day ever. So many great memories.

Some of the moments that we will keep in our minds of that great day:

The excitement of watching the train arrive for the opening show before the gates opened for the day. It also included Daddy being silly to pass the time since we were all getting a bit antsy.

Riding the Aladdin ride four times in a row without getting off because no one else had made their way to that side of the park yet. We also got to ride the Thunder Mountain ride twice in a row since we had gotten a fastpass before the crowds had made their way to the back of the park yet

Riding the Toy Story ride and trying to beat daddy's score, which proved impossible even after two tries

Riding the Dumbo ride and being able to see across all of Fantasy land

Resting on the "people mover" after we had been going strong for MANY hours. It was nice to sit and look at the park while riding through

Watching the stage show right out in front of the magic castle

Watching Aaron "drive" the boat on the Jungle Cruise, and even receiving a "pilot's license" when it was over

Meeting the whole family for fireworks after a long day of playing. I am so happy these cousins got to spend some time together on our vacation.

Watching the castle "change colors" as the sun went down.

Being thankful that we brought a stroller for Noah, even though he was six years old. Walking that much made it hard for his legs too, and we were even more thankful when after the fireworks, BOTH of them fell asleep in strollers on the way back to the monorail.

Character Lunch at Crystal Palace with my parents and brother's family. Noah remembers getting ice cream with sprinkles with Grandpa and Aaron remembers getting to hug all of the characters.

Marveling at the fact that Noah is so good at hula hooping and being thankful to all of the Disney people who come along with entertainment for kids who are standing along the street waiting for the daytime parade to start

There are so many more things that we did that day that I don't have pictures for, but I will still remember them in my mind. It was just such a great day and I hope the boys will remember it too. Aaron has asked every day to go back ever since and I hope we can make it happen for them again someday.

Anyone else want to post about their favorite day of 2009 and come back and let me know? It would be a fun theme to read on people's blogs.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Nativity...Aaron Style

Last year I did an entire post about all of the different nativity sets in our home. It has always been a special thing to see the kids not just look at the Nativity sets, but actually interact with them, even paying with the Baby Jesus. I think it makes a great opportunity for dialogue about the story and I love that the kids enjoy it as well.

So this year when I started getting them out, Aaron was SO excited. I put our main adult one and the main kids one both on the same table, on different shelves. Our Baby Jesus stays away until Christmas morning, but all the other pieces are up for grabs (figuratively). Aaron set right to work setting them up in different formations. Every morning I find them in different arrangements.

But my heart melted completely when I came in the other day and found the nativity sets like this:

Aaron had both of the sets arranged so that all of the pieces were crowded around to "see the special Baby"

I often marvel at the way my youngest son thinks. I love his mind and the heart that is behind everything he does.

FYI, I am not changing them. I think he's got it right.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Christmas Tree Adventures

I know most people think of the Christmas tree as just one more ornament to decorate one's house at Christmas. And I do too to a certain extent.

But last year, when we were struggling to make it through the holidays, the final straw for me was our Christmas tree. It was an artificial tree that was well beyond its prime and no matter how much "fluffing" I did, it just looked awful. I spent the entire season sad every time I came into the room when I saw it, rather than excited. I was so disgusted by it that I took it down on Christmas night, when I usually leave the tree up as long as possible...at least until after New Year's.

So when I put it away last year, I vowed that we would finally get a REAL tree this year. When I was in college, my friend Deb and I would go to the tree lots and pick out a Christmas tree when we were roommates ( in two different places). The trees were always brittle by Christmas and dropped tons of needles.

I decided that it would be fun to start a new tradition and actually take the boys out and chop down our own tree this year. I actually thought Steve would protest this idea, but he was pretty excited about it too. So after asking around, we found a tree farm just north of here.

Steve grabbed a saw and we jumped on a wagon for a ride out to the field. We were asked what kind of tree we wanted so they knew where to drop us off. I looked around and saw one that I liked that someone else had and pointed to it. "I want one one like that" I said and then knew that we were off to search for the perfect scotch pine.

Apparently scotch pine trees are less popular because we were the only ones who got off the wagon at that area while the rest of the people moved on.

The trees were all on an angle of a pretty steep hill. Almost immediately after Steve and I started searching for the "perfect" tree, the boys were off rolling down the big hill.

After a bit of searching and dusting the snow off the trees to get a better look, we found IT. The Wheelz Family 2009 Christmas Tree. It looked kind of small to me but I had been warned by a facebook friend that they always look bigger inside so I didn't want to take a chance.

Steve went right to work sawing it down. Noah was thrilled to get right down there and watch the progress.

After I got on the other side and pulled to help the process along, our tree was ready to fall. And Noah wanted to be under it when it fell. Don't ask me why...he's a silly boy.

So after loading up the wagon, riding back, having it drilled baled and paid for, we were off to take our tree home. Doesn't my Honey look so cute?

After spending some time getting tit straight in the stand and moving it around in the living room several times, we finally found a place for it to rest. And Princess Minnie settled underneath it within the first two minutes of it being set up.

I know we were supposed to wait the obligatory 24 hours before decorating, to wait for the branches to drop, but I just couldn't wait. After the last few weeks have been so stressful, I just needed to be doing something that made me excited. So after fighting (yes, I DO mean fighting) with the lights, I put a few ornaments on. The boys caught on and started putting THEIR ornaments on, which included a ton of plastic hallmark character ones that they have received from my in-laws over the years.

After all the work to get the "prefect" tree, I was working hard to not cringe as I was watching all of the odds and ends ornaments being hung by the kids. That's when I got my next big idea. What if they had THEIR OWN TREE to put all of the ornaments of theirs on?

Noah and I ran to Target and got a tiny 3 foot artificial tree for the boys to decorate, complete with a star on top at Noah's request. They were so excited and got right to work.

Here is the beautiful tree complete with two proud little boys who got to do it all themselves.

Although I think the real tree needs a few finishing touches, I will share with you a picture of this year's offering right next to last year's, and you'll see why I spent the entire evening staring at our tree:

2008 2009

Big difference, huh? Especially with the new color on the walls, our living room really looks amazing and I love turning out the lights and just sitting in there and relaxing.

I'm not sure how healthy the tree actually is. After only twenty four hours, the water from the tree was almost completely gone. I really hope it make it until New Year's. The whole time we were having this adventure, different scenes from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation kept flying through my head. (If you haven't seen the movie, don't let this holiday go by with it...it's a must see)

So that's my Christmas tree story. Now I need to go into the living room and stare at it some more. Have a great Monday.