Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Have I mentioned before how much I love this time of year?! We had an absolutely lovely Thanksgiving with my brothers and my dad's family, eating and drinking late into the afternoon until the mere thought of another bite was almost too much. Feeling sated and sleepy, surrounded by my sweeties, and snug in the comfort of my cozy home, I nearly cried tears of joy when work called on my out the door that night to ask if I wanted to stay home available. YES!!! I never did get called in (holidays are typically pretty slow at the hospital), so I was bright eyed and bushy tailed the next morning when I went to pick up my brother at oh-dark-thirty.

The icy air was delightfully invigorating, and the sound of old familiar Christmas tunes playing in the van put a smile on my face. Our first stop was the new Kohl's that just opened here two weeks ago, and our sister-in-law had agreed to meet up with us after (hopefully) securing her family's big ticket purchase of this year at a different store (she didn't get it!). We all met for breakfast at Village Inn (where I indulged in the most delicious stuffed french toast and rich hot cocoa. Mmmm!) and then headed over to Target. Between the two stores, I got a really great start on my Christmas shopping, but even more, I just really enjoyed the fun time out with my brother and sister-in-law. As a mother who seldom leaves home without her children (with the exception of work, but what fun is that?), this was a rare and special treat!

When I returned home Friday morning, Darren had done an amazing job of cleaning up the house, the kids were all dressed, the Christmas tree was strung with lights, and everyone was eagerly awaiting the placement of ornaments! It was the perfect time to bring in our three enormous storage boxes filled with ornaments from the garage, and this year, instead of closely monitoring every single move, I sat back, unpacking each box, and let the kids carefully hang them wherever they wanted. They did a really great job! (With a little help from Daddy.)

My brothers came over that night for a fancy dinner prepared by Darren, and my kids had so much fun playing with their cousins. It was getting really cold by the time everyone left, and on Saturday morning, we woke up to snow flurries! It was mostly just enough to tease us--not at all enough to play in--but it was still fun to see. For the remainder of the weekend we just stayed close to home, lighting fires in the fireplace, munching cookies, and sipping eggnog. We watched "Home Alone", which for me is a holiday must-see. I loved that movie when I was younger, as did my brothers, and now, too, it will forever remind me of Meghan's birth. It had just begun on TV in my hospital room when I was admitted in labor, and ended just before she was born, so Darren and I were able to enjoy the entire movie together (it was the first time he had seen it from start to finish).

This week I've mostly been trying to finish cleaning and decorating the rest of our house. It's been so nice, with the children eager to help, the scent of hot soups simmering on the stove, skies dark and gray but candles glowing warmly indoors. I just love this, all of it! Even my blog has undergone a Christmas make-over (which would be complete if I could just get Blogger to cooperate with the placement of my header photo. Why won't it let me place it "instead of title" as opposed to "behind title"?! The title is already in my photo...I don't want it placed behind Blogger's title! So for now I've changed my title to a simple ".", which is small enough to remain disguised in my banner until I figure out how to fix the whole thing. Argh!)

I'm eager for December to begin. Meghan's birthday is not far off, our anniversary will closely follow, and my mom will be home for nearly two weeks! Dylan and I are working on finishing up a few of his workbooks and lessons, and then during Advent, I'd like to mostly focus on reading (and re-reading!) the books I've got listed in my side bar, making ornaments for our Jesse tree and reading the appropriate bible passages to go along with them, doing crafts, and baking. (And Jill, how can you know me so well?! Thank you so much, dear friend, for thinking of me. What a sweet surprise to find in my mail yesterday!) I welcome and embrace this slow paced season of waiting. And to that end, I'm off to enjoy a nice hot cup of decaf and the best thing that ever happened to coffee. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gobble, Gobble!

I did this little craft with my kids today and we all really enjoyed it. I thought I'd share it here in case any of you would like to try it, too. I think we spent maybe an hour on all three turkeys, and although I did do most of the work, the kids still really enjoyed picking out their own individual pieces and helping me put them all together! I was first inspired to make some of our own turkeys after seeing the beauties that Kristen put together with her girls. (Aren't they just precious?!) But, as I had none of the necessary supplies readily available, I improvised and just used what we had...which was a sack full of pine cones, lots and lots of card stock, some chenille stems, assorted pom poms, different sized googly eyes, and a hot glue gun. We assembled the bodies first, and then I traced each child's hands on orange, red, and yellow card stock to make the tail feathers for their own turkey. I wrote their name and the year on the back of each turkey and I'd love to make a new set each year. What a fun way to record their growth! Meghan's little hand prints, for example, look so small and sweet compared to Dylan's big boy ones! It's hard to believe that one day, hers will be as big as his are now! (And I don't even want to think about how big his will be then!) Our finished products ended up being nothing at all like Kristen's, but I'm so happy to have these little cuties gracing our fireplace mantel. They make me smile every time I walk through the living room!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thoughts on a Monday afternoon

I'm ashamed of how infrequently I've been posting here. I just looked at my archives and I had thirty-one entries last November. We're more than half way through this month and how many posts do I have? Three! Well, four if you count this one. I just can't seem to get back on track with this blog. Every day there are new stories I'd love to relate, but I just put it off and the next thing I know, I'm dragging my weary body to bed at the end of another long, exhausting day. It's not that there's really so much going on around here, I just used to be so much better at recording all the little things that make me so happy to look back on now.

I am excited about the fun week ahead of us. Darren and I have been busy getting our house, yard, and garage in order and I can't tell you what peace that brings me. We're finishing up a few ongoing projects today so that tomorrow and Wednesday I can just focus on spending time with the kids, getting ready for Thanksgiving by doing little crafts, baking, and reading stories together. We did make a Thanksgiving wreath last week and I really love the way it turned out. I actually had all the supplies I needed in our craft closet, left over from last year. We simply cut a ring from the side of a cardboard box that I had out in the garage, wrapped it with ribbon, tied on a large bow, and then attached fall foam stickers on which Dylan had written things that we are thankful for.

My older brother and his family will be coming down on Thursday and staying through the weekend, and we're having our big dinner at my aunt's house this year with my dad's side of the family. I actually have to work Thanksgiving night until 1:00a.m., and I'm hoping to get at least a couple of hours of sleep after that before hitting the stores with my younger brother and my sister-in-law! I am sooo looking forward to that. It's become a tradition for my brother and me to brave the sales on the morning after Thanksgiving and then enjoy breakfast out together. (One year Darren asked me if I'd be taking newborn Caitlyn along with me and I told him he was crazy. Needless to say, she stayed home, tucked into the warmth of our bed with Darren! I don't think either of them were even awake until after I returned home!) I am so excited that my sister-in-law will be along with us this year!

I think we're going to put our Christmas tree up over the weekend. I can't wait! It's been really cold the past couple of days and so it's finally beginning to feel more like the holidays really are just right around the corner. I bought a few new scented candles a few days ago and I love, love, love the way my house smells right now! I think our homeschooling focus will shift to Advent and Christmas after Thanksgiving, and I'm eager to implement some changes that I plan to make to our curriculum at the start of the new year. I hate to detail them too much right now, as I'm still deciding on a few things, but I feel really good about where we might be headed. I was worried for a while that I might already be burned out with homeschooling, but when I really sat down and tried to figure out the source of my discontent, I realized that it was simply a matter of having already finished much of what I had planned for Dylan's kindergarten year. I realized that I need to present him with just a little more of a challenge in his school work, and that I need more structure than I had originally thought. So that's what we'll be trying. More structured, planned out lessons, at a level that's a bit more advanced. I think it will be better for both Dylan and me.

So that's where things are with me right now. I'm busy, tired, but happy. So very, very happy. And OH! Oh, my goodness! Darren just walked in the door, and showed me a few books he picked up at the bookstore. Included among them are two My First Little House Books: Winter Days in the Big Woods and Christmas in the Big Woods. They are beautiful! I love them! I had no idea this series even existed until about two seconds ago. Oh, yes. I am happy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Anyone care to come for coffee?

Mine would be decaf, of course.

But I seem to be having one of those days (or one of those weeks, rather) where I'd really love some chatty, warm, and companionable adult females around the house with me. I miss my mom. I can't wait to see my sister-in-law at Thanksgiving. It's been months since I've seen my best friend (through no fault of our own...she lives out of town). And I'm just really craving the company of some like minded ladies around here. To distract me, or maybe save me from myself. (Would you believe I spent all day yesterday rearranging our living room furniture?! By myself! What right minded pregnant woman does that?!)

Oh why, cyber friends, are you all so far flung? I miss you, and I've never even met you. Does that make me crazy? Or is it maybe just some more of those pesky hormones acting up? :)

Hope you're all having a splendid day. I'd invite you over in an instant if I could!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


For my lunch yesterday I prepared a delicate bed of salad greens, tossed a few cubes of cheddar on for good measure, drizzled the whole thing with fat free Blue Cheese Dressing, and then topped it all with a couple of chopped up, crispy Tyson chicken patties (sprinkled first with a verrrry liberal dose of Tabasco sauce. Mmmm!) It was, I think, one of the best lunches I've ever had. I loved it. I couldn't wait to have it again today. So once again, come lunch time, I prepared everything exactly as before, sat down at the dining room table in giddy anticipation of that first taste...

...and nearly gagged on my first bite.

Why, oh why, Crazy Pregnancy Hormones, must you do this to me?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Hello again!

Has it really been nearly two weeks since I last posted here? I just don't see how that can be. I do know, however, that rather than getting better after I last wrote, we all actually took a turn for the worse and spent most of the next week sick! And I remember losing our internet connection for a few unfortunate days after that, and then being busy with work and Halloween preparations...and somehow, time has just gotten away from me!

So what else have we been doing, besides recuperating? Well, let's see. We did make it out to the Pumpkin Patch on it's last open weekend, which was a LOT of fun but which, due to my absentmindedness, I have no pictures of. (Actually, I have the pictures, I'm just unable to transfer them from my camera! My dang USB cable has been highly uncooperative as of late, but rather than special ordering a new one, we opted instead a few weeks ago to just buy a card reader to transfer our pictures to the computer. This works just dandy, when you actually remember to put the card back into the camera when you're done transferring images! Otherwise, all the photos you take the next time will be stored on your camera's internal memory, and there they will stay, until you finally have to special order a new cord, anyway! Sigh.)

Halloween was great fun this year. We opted to keep our own party very low key, in favor of attending a festival at Gym Magic that night. I was really glad we went, because I'm still sometimes plagued by that guilty feeling of depriving my children of the typical school experiences I loved as a child...such as Halloween festivals! We stayed for about an hour before coming home to go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, which was so much fun! The trick-or-treat containers I had helped the kids make earlier in the day were filled by the time we got home!

On Saturday Dylan and Caitlyn attended their final gymnastics and ballet classes for this term. It was really sweet, and parents were invited to sit in to watch the classes and to see the kids receive certificates. I'm a little sad that it's over, but we've decided to take this next term off to have our weekends free over the holidays, and then we'll re-enroll them in the Spring. Caitlyn says she wants to try gymnastics next time, and Dylan's looking forward to the swimming classes. I'm sure they'll have fun no matter what they choose!

After their classes, we headed over to the park for our annual Renaissance Faire, which we'd been looking forward to for months! This was the first year that Dylan and Caitlyn wore costumes; these clothes from their costume trunk were just so perfect that I couldn't resist dressing them up! We spent the next four hours eating, watching performances, strolling the grounds, and--another first for us--taking a canoe ride on the lake! Dylan really, really wanted to take a ride with Caitlyn, but she wouldn't go unless I went, the three of us hopped on board and enjoyed being paddled around the lake by two friendly Boy Scouts! I love how excited my kids look in these pictures. And I especially love the one of Dylan hugging my (already ridiculously large) bump. Too sweet!

Yesterday, with much help from Darren, I tried to get the house (and the school room in particular) back into order. These past several weeks have just been too unorganized, and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. With early pregnancy exhaustion and sickness behind me (for the most part) now, I feel like I'm finally ready to get back into some sort of more structured rhythm again. I think the time change will help. We (the kids and I) were all up before seven this morning! I want to work my way back to getting up at 5:30 with Darren like I used to, and I really need to get better about planning our lessons. I know that we are learning every day, but I felt so much more confident and secure when I had actual lessons planned out for each day. I think we're getting there again. I'm considering today a brand new start!