Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tree Trimming



We are a family of traditions and one of the first traditions we started (with my Mom and my sister) was our tree trimming dinner.  We have made the exact same dish every year since 1994.  We gather together to trim the tree, exchange this year's ornaments and enjoy the start of the Christmas season.  This year was a lot of fun and our tree is the most beautiful tree we've ever had (we say that every year, don't you?).  

While I cooked dinner and Bryce strung the lights on the tree the children decorated tree shaped cookies with my Mom.  

  In addition to the ornaments we gave the children, they each got an ornament from Gran and Grandpa and from Grandma.  Grace got two lovely fairies and Harris got a pirate and an owl with moving wings.  Those were the first ornaments to go on the tree!

Our traditional dinner of Pasta with Ginger Prawns.  


Putting up the tree was a little more difficult than normal.  Our stand and the hole that was drilled in the tree weren't compatible and so our tree wouldn't stand up straight.  It was a family effort to try various things (one of which involved me running into a rubber mallet with my nose!) to get it to stand straight and tall.  When none of our methods worked I had to go out in the rain (why couldn't it be snow?) to purchase a new stand from the lot where we bought our tree.    


Ornaments 2008



For as long as I can remember, my Mom has given us Christmas ornaments at the beginning of the Christmas season.  My favorite ones were the ones that were symbolic of the past year.  Every year as we unload the ornaments for our tree trimming we take a walk down memory lane.  I love our tree because not only is it beautiful but it's a symbol of our life and family.

When we got married, Bryce and I continued the tradition by giving each other ornaments and always seeking out ornaments when we went on vacation or did something special.  As the children were born we did the same for them.  I suspect that by the time each of the children have a home of their own they will have amassed quite a collection of Christmas ornaments for their own tree.  

This year we got a tooth for Grace because she lost her first tooth back in July.  Harris got a pirate ship because he and Bryce built the ship playhouse and he is all about playing pirates.

We also added several other ornaments to our collection.  We bought one from Shelbourne Farms, where we went on vacation, and one from our trip to Colorado.  I was thrilled to discover that Grace's grammar school was also offering one that is a pewter replica of the school.  

Our tree trimming is tonight and I'm excited to revisit fond memories and put new ones on the tree.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful

I have so many things to be so very thankful for.  

I have a wonderful family that includes my Mom and Bryce's parents, our sisters Delita, Jeni, Jackie and Leah, and Ben, Bryce's brother.  

I have a partner in life whom I love and look forward to many more Thanksgivings with.  

I have two children who are the light of my life.

I have incredible friends with whom I get to share my life with.

I have a home in which our family stays cozy and dry, nurtured with wonderful food and time spent together and with family and friends.

 
On this particular day I'm also thankful that we have a pediatrician that is so attentive.  Grace woke up at 2 am with a horrible earache (yes, Harris just had one and no, they are not contagious!) and was in tremendous pain for much of the night.  When I called our doctor to see what I could do for her, she kindly offered to meet us at her office....on Thanksgiving morning.  Grace had a double ear infection and getting a prescription to help with the pain and to jump start the healing process was a true blessing.  
Grace slept most of the day and didn't even eat our Thanksgiving feast with us, but we are so thankful that this illness is a temporary one and we all have great health.

P.S.  I'm super excited that the holiday season has officially begun!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Day Before Thanksgiving....



We had a great day as we got ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow. We made turkey cupcakes-or rather cupcakes that resemble turkeys. The children helped to decorate and assemble and somehow kept "accidentally" getting icing on their fingers. Of course the only way to get it off is to lick it!


We read great books about Thanksgiving. These three books all have beautiful illustrations and they cover everything that is important about Thanksgiving.



We also decorated pinecone turkeys to use as our place cards tomorrow at dinner. We had to drive all over our town just to find a few pinecones! Where did all the pinecones go?


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gobbled up Turkey

When Grace was very little I found this Thanksgiving breakfast in a magazine and have been making it ever since.  It's super easy to throw together and the children really enjoy it.  

Gobbled up turkey
For each turkey you will need 4 toasted round mini waffles.  Place 1 waffle in the center of the plate for the turkey's body.  Cut 2 waffles in half, and use for the tail feathers.  Cut the remaining waffle in half, and place one half on top of the body for a wing.  Trim the other half for the turkey's neck, face and legs.  Use a blueberry for the eye and a trimmed pice of strawberry for the turkey's wattle.  

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grace's Room


Every year before the holidays the children have to clean out their rooms and select toys they no longer play with to give away.  We went through Grace's room this weekend and she is giving away a good many things.  Some of them made me a bit sad to see them go (Angelina Ballerina, I never thought she'd outgrow her!) and others I was ready to see go.

Since we were already cleaning out her room we decided to move a few things around.  Now that she has homework on a regular basis I wanted her bookshelf near her desk/vanity.  We cleared off the vanity and added a canister for pencils.  We still need to add a lamp by the desk. 

We kept her little table in her room because she still uses it for doing crafts and it's convenient when she has a friend over because they can work together.  

One of my favorite things in Grace's room is the medallion that is over her chandelier.  It says, Dance, Sing, Laugh and Play.  I love that as she lays in bed in the morning that is the message she sees.  That is how children's lives should be lived.

My mother-in-law, Marilyn, made Grace's amazing quilt.  She made little dresses (each one different) all over the quilt.  It is so beautiful and so special to Grace and me.  My mom made the curtains in her room so it was truly a family affair!  Grace loves her room.

Harris is sick

Harris is suffering from what seems to be a very painful ear infection.  As long as we keep up with the Motrin all is well, but he is a bit pathetic as the medicine wears off.  It came on very suddenly in the middle of the night.  Why is it that things seem so much more dramatic and horrible when it is dark outside?  

One of the things (besides ibuprofen) that I'm thankful for is our hot water bottle.  It has seemed to give him comfort physically and mentally.  I must confess that I love hot water bottles so much that we have two.  One is a sheep and the other is a frog.  After all, you never know when both children will be sick at the same time.  

P.S.  As cold as it has been here, I'm also thinking that we might have to take to sleeping with them at the foot of our bed as they did in the old days!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Jar

In an effort to help our children understand the concept of giving to others, we have started a giving jar. We decided as a family which organization to donate to. We asked the children what they would like to do to help others. Harris wanted to give people food and Grace wanted to help people who didn't have much money. Our local food kitchen fits that bill perfectly. I think that this will be a good fit for us because the children can understand giving food to others and it will help other people who live in our community.
I know that it will take a long time to fill the jar but hopefully the children will enjoy the anticipation of it getting fuller and fuller. I thought we would just use spare change but Grace got some of her dollars from her piggy bank and put them in. That's the spirit!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Artwork

Harris painted this picture yesterday. He really spent some time on it.


This is a quick sketch Grace drew of Harris for something she did at school. I LOVE that she gave him big, curly hair smack on top of his head.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wrapping Station


In anticipation of the holidays and all the wrapping that has to be done, I've been working on making a wrapping station in our office.  We have fit so much into this little space that I can't believe that we had room to add anything but all we needed was the back of a door.  I got this idea from an old Martha magazine, and I love how it puts everything I need in one out-of-the-way place.  I left a good bit of space because I'm sure that over time I will be adding things to it. 
 
I put up a calendar so that I can do better about birthdays (sorry Bill, happy belated birthday...I added your birthday first!).  

I got this craft table when Martha's catalogue went out of business.  It has many uses and when I need to wrap a gift I can just set up one side.  


Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Sacks

We are really trying hard to do our part in the "going green" movement. I'm really scared for our children and their children and what our earth is going to be like for them. Will they experience life as we do or will it be dramatically different?

I've had lots of people ask me about the sandwich and snack bags that I send in the children's lunch boxes. They are called Happy-sacks, and I cannot recommend them enough. They are cloth on the outside and a wipeable nylon on the inside. They come in a variety of sizes and are machine washable. We usually just wipe them out. They save on waste and money (you don't have to buy bags anymore!). In short, we love them!

Obviously there is much more we can do in our family to positively impact the earth, but I feel like these bags are a step in the right direction.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

House Rules

We skipped church this morning.  We had good intentions when we got up but the windy, gray skies and cold temps deterred.  Bryce and Grace suggested that we have church at home.  Grace ended up leading the "service" and she started us out with music from Vacation Bible School and then read us a chapter from her children's Bible.  It was about the Ten Commandments and we went through and discussed the meaning of each one.

We had a great discussion and I have to admit that I think I got more out of our service at home than I might have at church.  What Grace picked was very timely for our family.  Bryce and I have been a bit frustrated lately because we don't feel like the children have been behaving as we think they should.  Also, we have not been reacting to this in a very constructive way.  We've gotten a little lax about enforcing our house rules and it has started to show.  Reading and discussing the Commandments (which were simplified for children) helped me to realize that we don't need elaborate rules because they have already been written for us.  We revisited our house rules and made a new commitment  to try to live our life as God would want us to.

P.S.  We decided that if we all followed rule #4 we wouldn't have to worry about the first three!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mercy Watson


Grace and I are big fans of the Mercy Watson series by Kate Dicamillo. It's a great fit for Grace because it's a chapter book, which she wants to be able to read, but it's also on her level. The words are spaced nicely and in a relatively large font, there are fun colorful illustrations on almost every page and most importantly, the story is really good! (I'm not a big fan of early readers where every word rhythms with cat and mat and doesn't actually tell a story).
When Grace came home and had been assigned to do her first "unconventional book report" we knew just what book to read. Fortunately our library had one that we had not read.
She had fun making her hand puppet and it turned out really cute.

She came up with the idea to use the milk lid for the pigs snout, I knew there was a reason I was saving all these crazy "craft" things!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vintage Toys

I've been making my Christmas lists and going over what to buy the children.  In doing so I've been thinking about the quality of toys that we buy for our children.  

Over the summer while we were were visiting Bryce's parents in Colorado I discovered that they had kept a lot of Bryce's old toys.  My mom had done the same thing and the children are still playing with them.  They seem to have multiple uses instead of just one set way to play.  It makes me wonder why many toy manufactures have veered away from the timeless and classic toys to toys that are plastic and don't require much creative thinking and play.  Many of todays toys are loud, tell you how to play and don't have very good design.  

Of course there are many good toys out there but you have to hunt for them.  We are lucky that we have a terrific toy store here in our town.  They carry toys that require imaginative play and that can be adaptable to different circumstances.  Looking at the toys that Bryce used and that my sister and I played with has helped me to look around at the toys we own and that we might purchase and question whether in 30 years they will be just as useful as they are now.  I guess that is what makes a classic a classic.




P.S.  The record player is my favorite!  I think it would look great in our attic playroom, then we could listen to all the old records that my mom kept such as Puff the Magic Dragon.  (I know that is a shameless plug but I couldn't help it!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Looking Ahead...

We have had a very busy couple of weeks!  As much fun as we have had, I'm glad to take a breather.  I'm starting to look ahead to the holidays.  I love Christmas!!  I'm excited about it this year and want to be able to really enjoy the magic that is Christmas.  Kathleen and I set a goal together to get most of our shopping done by Thanksgiving.  I believe that she is doing much better than I.  Therefore, I must get on the ball.  I have ordered the children's Christmas pajamas and I'm in love with them.  They feed into my classic fantasy of the children running down the stairs on Christmas morning full of delight and enthusiasm.  I got them here.



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pirate Party!



Today was the big day for Captain Curly! The weather did not cooperate with us which was a big disappointment but we had a great time anyway!

My dear husband worked really hard to get the pirate ship seaworthy (or at least kidworthy!) and it was a huge hit with the children--for the five minutes they had to play on it before the rain started coming down! We had to move the party indoors!

As the children came in we gave them an eyepatch and drew moustaches on those that wanted one. We started off by reading a book about how to talk like a pirate. Bryce read it in his very best pirate voice! Then it was time for a treasure hunt! We had chosen clues that could be used indoors as well as out (most of them). We followed the clues, found the map and then found the treasure! A treasure chest held all the favors - they were individual treasure chests filled with pirate coins, bubblegum coins, chocalate coins, and a spyglass.




After the treasure hunt we played Pin the Parrot on the Pirate. This was not a game we had planned (although if I had seen it I would have, it's really cute) but a really thoughtful idea of our neighbor, John. He showed up a few minutes into the party with this adorable party game. He had helped Bryce move the pirate ship before the party and knew that we had planned on being outside and thought this would give us something else to do inside. We are so glad that they are our neighbors! Thanks John!

After we played the games, it was time for lunch. Harris has been announcing for weeks that pirates don't use manners so we just let the children sit on the floor and eat! They had seaweed and an octopus (spinach pasta and a cut hotdog) and pirate booty. Harris tried to convince me to serve rum since that is what pirates drink, but I had to draw the line somewhere! Instead they drank Root Beer (non-caffeinated). Then it was time for the cake! I think the cake turned out really cute and Harris really liked it. We also had apples and gummi's to take home.



My Mom made all three of the children's costumes. They loved wearing them! Aarrghh....

Surprise!

I got quite the surprise yesterday.  I was getting ready for Harris' birthday party and my Mom called to say that she was bringing over something for the children.  When she got here my sister, Delita, got out of the car!  Now Delita doesn't live anywhere near us so for her to be here was a big deal.  She and Brendon came up for the weekend to spend time with Grandma, cousins and attend Harris' birthday party.  We are really glad they did!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Birthday!


This morning we celebrated Harris' birthday with cakes...pancakes that is!  My Mom joined us and we ate together and then opened gifts.  He loved everything he got and truth be told so did Grace!  We spent the rest of the day (I didn't get out of my pajamas until noon) lounging about the house playing with his new loot.  We had a great birthday!

Harris and his Grandma

Opening gifts and very excited!

We strung up this banner in the dining room and lined the stairs with balloons!  
 
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