Sunday, December 26, 2010

What a fun Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and day after we have had.  Such a contrast to last year on Christmas Eve when we received devastating news that my Grandma had stage 4 lung cancer, and 3 months left.  She had been in the hospital and had lung biopsies around Thanksgiving, so to receive news like that on Christmas Eve took our breath away and we drove Christmas Day 2 hours to see her and spend our last Christmas with her.  It was heartbreaking, she was so sick and in pain that having a holiday around that was the least of our consideration.

This year was a quiet and much needed calm Christmas.  The kids opened presents and we had our traditional casserole and cinnamon rolls, napped and the kids played.  We went to my sister's house for an easy and delicious chicken cordon bleu, twice baked potatoes, green bean almondine, salad and roll dinner followed by some games and much fun doing the cousin gift exchange, and gifts from Grandma.  The kids were surprised, happy and appreciative for all they received.  I always worry about greedy, spoiled kids but so far I *think* I have kids that aren't those things.

It was surprising to see what gifts the kids were the most excited about.  Hannah LOVED the easy bake oven and Zhu Zhu pet.  Taylor loves the Lego universe computer game and his Nerf guns.  I got Mike a Kindle!  He was so surprised and had been carrying it around.  It is so much fun to surprise him with a bigger gift.  He ALWAYS gets me too much.  Every year we say only items to go in our stockings and he fills up my stocking AND I have gifts under the tree.  I never expect it and feel so spoiled.

Today we have lounged, eaten, napped, played Apples to Apples that Hannah got from her Grandpa, and eaten some more.  Gotta love the holidays.

I made goodie tins to give away to about 8 friends and neighbors & family.  Inside was almond toffee crunch, peppermint bark, chocolate covered pretzels and our favorite cookies-Kiflins (almond cookies)

Christmas Eve sugar cookie making

Before our decorating
...and after.

The traditional gingerbread house
Santa's treats on Christmas Eve

Our stockings hung with care..

The tree was ready!
Taylor with his Santa gift, the last one read below

Santa wrote Taylor a letter explaining he was growing up and since he was almost 11, this year would be his last.  But he wrote what a sweet, smart and wonderful boy he has grown up to be.  I don't think Taylor liked it much.
Hannah baking away!
Mike lovin' the Kindle.

Me planning my shopping with my gift card!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I really love surprises, but it is soooo hard to hold them in.  Mike's parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve and were leaving on a cruise to Hawaii on Friday.  His sister thought it would be fun to throw a surprise Luau party before they left. So quietly the last three weeks we have been working undercover.  I was in charge of most of the food-imagine that! I made lots of coconut bread, sweet and sour meatballs, cheese balls and tons of fruit kabobs-we had to keep the theme Hawaiian.  Laura made delicious pork sliders.  We drove down Saturday for the party on Sunday with our Hawaiian attire, and all the food.  They didn't even know it was coming!!  They were so surprised and happy to see friends and family that are important to them.  We had to leave Hannah behind since she had been working on a gymnastics program with a friend for the last couple months and Saturday was her big day.  It was a lot of driving but really worth it. Carol and Charlie are the best in-laws I could ask for.  They really love their family and have helped us and been there for us over our 11 years of marriage. Here are some pictures:

Now, onto surprise #2!!
My brother announced last month he was getting married in Hawaii on Valentine's Day! How exciting! I wanted to go so bad, but really couldn't afford an undertaking like that with Christmas and two kids birthday's crunched in-between.  But sometimes things have ways of working out with the help of others :-)  We surprised my Mom on her birthday (Monday) with the trip as well.
So I will be able to go and see my oldest brother get married.  Mike is staying home with kids and my Mom and I are traveling together.  We get 5 days in Hawaii and I am SO EXCITED!  My brother Sean, in Japan, will be there was well.  It will be so much fun!

What fun!

Now I have so much work to do before I can completely enjoy Christmas~

Monday, December 6, 2010

Before I start talking about lying...let me tell you what we did this weekend, I really enjoyed it.

First, I took the kids to our first live Nativity Scene put on by a church a little ways away.  I really can't stand the commerical-ness of Christmas and am trying to slowly wean away from all it's trappings so I can focus on what Christmas is really about, and share that with my kids.  So the church had tents set up outside to resemble what life was like in Bethleham the night after Jesus was born.  There was a large camel at the city "gate", we had to pay our "taxes", and then we got to eat hummus, see thread spinning and baskets.  Everyone was in costume and character, the funniest guy was the InnKeeper getting very irritated at us all since he had NO ROOM.  He sent us on to the shepards who re-counted what had happened the night before, complete with real animals.  The kids loved it and asked to go back the next night.  We also go to go to enjoy a concert of Christmas songs, and some crafting.  The next day we put up the tree and decorations (of which I am losing much intiative to do), went to a night light parade in our little town that evening and then watched "The Santa Claus".  Good times with the fam.

Okay what was I talking about?  Right. Lying. Really, I am the worst liar ever.  And that is not a bad thing.  So when my kids start asking certain QUESTIONS about certain holiday events around CHRISTMAS...I swear to tell the whole truth and only the truth.  GET THE KIDS OUT OF HERE if you want to continue reading.

Flashback to April....and the Easter Bunny.

Hannah asks if it's just me and Dad that stuff her stocking full of goodies, instead of Santa.  I am just not going to lie and neither is Mike, so since I had to deal with the Easter Bunny, I sent him in to answer her questions.  Now she didn't ask about Santa, just the stockings.  Mike said, yes, we fill them and we enjoy doing it.  She didn't ask anymore questions and was okay with it.  Now Taylor is riding the Santa sleigh a little long, he will be 11 in February.  So Santa is sweetly writing him a letter this year in his Stocking that says, nicely, he has to save the gifts for the younger ones.  I know some people probably think I am a little overboard, and frankly I don't care.  This parenting thing is an individual gig and everyone is up to do their own thing based on their beliefs and values.
I just want to keep it a little real.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We celebrated the first day of December with a whole bunch of snow resulting in the kids not going to school.  Taylor shoveled the sidewalk and Hannah and I made a snowman.  Later him and his friend had a snow ball fight and went sledding.  So much fun to get a day off when you are a kid.  I LOVE THE SNOW!

Onto other random and outdated news, here are some pics from some treats we made during the fall. My love of pumpkin cannot just be contained to pumpkin pie, so we made pumpkin bread, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon frosting and then a fall treat-caramel apples.  SOoooo good.
I'd like to add, Hannah helped me "style" our cupcakes for their photo shoot. 
And finally we finished the guest room.  It transformed from green to cream and although the room is really small and only fits the's still nice to have a room just for guests.  We had many years of blowing up the air mattress (I think my brother Sean "enjoyed" many nights on it visiting us) in our previous apartment and small house, so I appreciate the room just for guests.
Hannah really wanted to help Dad paint-they both had the whole week off for Thanksgiving.  She did a pretty good job (and Mike did an even better job cleaning up after her :-) )