Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Program

We were able to dress the boys in their "weddings suits" with the aid of a Mickey Mouse Christmas video and little drama last Wednesday night.  I'd been dreading it all day, but perhaps the hints I'd dropped for a week and laying out the suits and new shoes on the bed that afternoon helped?

It didn't help them fit, though!  Since they only had to wear them for 2 hours I wasn't going to buy new outfits, and as long as they stood still (haha, right) the pants and sleeves were juuuust long enough.  At least we got a good second wearing out of them before they are retired! 

The program was absolutely adorable and I've never, NEVER seen St. Joseph's church packed out like that in my whole life!  I'm pretty sure my own Christmas programs were not so well attended as a child, but there was no preschool there at the time.

Let's face it, people only REALLY want to see the preschoolers;)

(As a side note, it's both comforting and a bit unsettling to realize you're sitting in the same church watching the same Christmas program that you actually performed in 25+ years ago.)  

My three handsome sons, all dressed up and ready to go!

Here we all are, dressed up and unfocused (sounds about right)
 The Christmas story was told by all the animals in the stable the night Jesus was born.  The preschoolers were the mice.
N first, M next, in the mouse line up

In line with their classmates, wating...

M gets tired of waiting here...

There they are doing the motions to the song.
 There is actually a little girl standing between my sons, you can just see her nose and plaid skirt.  She kept stepping backward, and at one point during the program, M reached back and pulled her forward! 
Great smile from N the mouse

 Above, you see Hubs, who had to wear a tie to convince N to wear his, and me holding C.  We had to stand along the sides to even SEE the preschoolers when they sang - because they were so short and we of course, didn't know you had to be there an hour early to get a good seat :/. So while the K-5th grade animals sang their parts, our family was entertaining C in the pews.  Here's where I should have known he was getting an ear infection - see him sticking his finger in there? Yeah, he and I wound up at the doctor Thursday afternoon for anitibiotics.  Poor fella.  But it's Christmas, and it wouldn't be Christmas unless someone was sick, right?!
Hi Dad, watch me!  I've got one more trick!

Digging for your gift!
 Merry Christmas to my family, friends and faithful readers!  Enjoy this week with your loved ones and remember Jesus IS the reason for the season. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This morning I wrapped a few gifts while the big brothers were at school. C helped by unwrapping his own. Then he said, "cheese!" 
Ok it wasn't wordless...but it's pretty funny he's testing out his own gifts before Christmas! 

Also, tonight is the twins' Christmas preschool program. Their hairs are cut and their new shoes and wedding suits are laying out for them. 

This will be the quietest moment of my day until they fall asleep...because dressing N in a "button shirt" is like dressing the Tasmanian Devil. At least it was last time. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snowy Weekend

There's something magical about the first real snow accumulation of the's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We received about 4" snow Friday night, so we stayed in and baked Christmas cookies.  So I dedicate this post to Dr. F., a dear friend who taught me that baking Christmas cut-out cookies is always worth the effort, and who would be my new optometrist if I still lived in MN.

Cookie night:
Everything in my house looks like it was decorated by a 4 year old...

Because it was!
 I skipped the frosting part and just let the boys sprinkle, that is, dump, the colored sugars right onto the cookies before baking.  They are quite tasty!  But we are not quite ready to open up our new family bakery.  Perhaps because this is what the littlest helper was doing while the "big" ones were working...can you see the red and green sugars all over his face and hands?  He was eating the raw cookie dough right off the pan! 

We probably wouldn't pass health inspection standards...
Also, there are my new specs, Dr. F!  I made it to age 36 before my first pair of corrective lenses, so that's not too bad, I guess.  I had no idea I wasn't seeing well, thanks to a left diplopia (I think that's what he called left eye is slow to focus causing double vision until it does). And, his office is at Sam's Club.  Pretty convenient, eh?

Moving on to Saturday morning, when we had to clean up our driveway.  You have no idea how large your driveway is until there are 4" of snow on it!

Daddy and his three helpers about to get started

C rides in the "no bo!"
 Saturday morning I spent an hour searching for snowpants to fit C.  Over and over, I said, "I KNOW we had snowpants for the boys that year!  Where are they?"  I never found them (the size 24 months - one was a girls' and someone made me get rid of them and I think the others' claps were always broken) but I did find a pair of 3T's, so that's what he's wearing!  They are safety pinned at the shoulders and cuffed up to his knees!  Way too big but he stayed dry and warm...and only cried when I took him inside. Also, I unearthed a whole box of size 2T winter clothes that I put into the rotation.  I just love opening the box and dressing C in all of his big brothers' things!  It's like having them little again (but not)!
Cutie N is happy to pull

little c in the "snow boat"

Look how helpful they are!  The shoveling lasted one is under N's sled and the other behind S.

Warming up with homemade hot chocolate and cookies afterward
 Hubs and I also had a wonderful date night watching Les Mis at the Bay City Players while the boys had a sleepover at Grandma K's...seriously nothing better than that!

Feeling much more Christmas-y and a little less stressed after a very snowy family weekend....and ordering the missing gifts on Amazon. 

P.S. Two things that warmed my heart: A faithful blog reader offered to pick up a green Lego base for me way over on the west side of MI!  And I'm receiving Christmas cards from my MN friends, so happy to see all their smiling faces and show the kids their old friends! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

More Shopping Stress

Does it ever end?

In case you were worried, Santa took her smallest Elf and dragged him in and out of 3 different stores this morning in an attempt to meet the bigger elves' requests.

I missed a very important phone call from the pediatrician and the opportunity to purchase tickets for Les Miserables. Good news is the twins are getting in to their new doc next week (instead of today, like would have happened if I hadn't been on a wild goose chase) and now Hubs is putting the kids to bed so I can try to purchase tickets  in person at the box office tonight. GAH!  I'm a day late and a dollar short today!

Anyhow, I looked at hundreds of Lego building sets but did anyone have the one I needed? NOOOO.....only the one I already have hiding!  And guess what?  No one has a GREEN lego base square...only blue, only Toys R Us.  Seriously?  No green?! 

I did find a reasonable tow truck for a reasonable price (Tonka!) but I do not think it goes "GRRRRR."  Hope that's not a problem. So the littlest elf got a dump truck because they were buy one get one half off.  He wanted a "tac-tor!" but I thought it looked cheap and decided he'd get over it.  (Oh my goodness am I really that bad?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!!)

And I finally decided that C would like the Little People Nativity set....does anyone have that?  Of course not.  That's so 5 years ago.  Now it's all Santa People.  I get that Santa is Christmas but if you're ever going to sell a Little People Nativity scene wouldn't it be December 13?!  Wouldn't it?!  It's not completely Godless out there, though, because there was a Noah's Ark set that I almost bought as a substitute.

So I raced home to hide the two Tonka trucks and one lego plate and order the rest of the stuff online so that we can (please God PLEASE) get them before Christmas.

I think I'm done.

But I just remembered I'm out of tape.

Monday, December 9, 2013

On Being Santa

The first 4 years of being Santa for the kids were easy because as smart as they are, they just weren't that with it.

It's starting to get tricky now.  They're smart, and curious, and really beginning to grasp abstract concepts.

We teach them that we believe in Jesus as the Son of God and our savior. The seem to understand that He lives both in Heaven and in our hearts even though we can't see him with our eyes.

And now we have Santa...who is NOT real, but can be seen everywhere.  It's easy to explain the "real" Santa we saw in Bronner's last weekend, but how do I explain the guy dressed in a costume waving a sale sign outside of the tire store?  And they ask how does he get in since we don't have a fireplace like we did in our old house?

And how in the WORLD am I going to explain to them someday that Jesus IS real, even though you can't see him, and Santa IS NOT real, even though you see him everywhere?  How long do you keep this up? 

Then the practical things like, WHERE do I hide the gifts?  These guys notice everything - where did the new cardboard box come from?  What's in that brown bag in your closet?  Hubs took some stuff out to the garage to keep it from little eyes but now not even I can find it...not that I'm going out there in this snow! But I'll have to wrap them soon...And WHEN will I find time to do that? I literally cannot even go to the bathroom without an audience, or at least a "Mom!! Where are you going?!"   And in a different "Santa" wrap?  Good grief!  Ain't nobody got time for that!  No lie I've spent time every night at 9:00 doing Christmas stuff....because it's not like I can wrap other people's presents in front of them, either.  Secrets are not secrets if they know.

The last time Scout was updated Dec 2012
I spent ALL MORNING opening up the Leapster Explorer GS's, installing batteries, installing the applications to my computer and uploading the games onto them.  Thank goodness C can't talk well enough to tell his brothers what was going on while they were at preschool. It took so long that I was caught in the act of updating C's Scout toy (because I might as well since now I have a new USB cord that works for it because who KNOWS where the original one went?!) when they came  home.  And that is just TWO toys!

Not to mention we still have to rectify the whole incident where the twins told Santa the things they wanted (Lego City Police Station and a "medium sized tow truck that goes grrrr").  It's been a week and they are not giving up.  Those are the only things they are asking for.   Looks like we'll be making a trip to Toys R Us after all to figure out appropriate responses to those requests.
Dec 2012...Santa was easy to explain at age 3

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Online Shopping

Two weeks ago I mused I might do my Christmas shopping online this year. 

Those who know me well know how I feel about shopping, but I do it because it is just not economically wise (in my humble opinion) to pay SHIPPING for something that adds significantly to the cost...and I don't like to pay full price for anything.  (Except Spatz bread.  It doesn't go on sale and one just CANNOT make overnight baked french toast well without it!)

Then I discovered that Kohl's has FREE SHIPPING!  Yes, there are conditions, but when you've got a list a mile long they are easy to meet.  And, I discovered that we had a LOT of credit card perks to use up so last month I redeemed some in the form of gift cards.

NEXT, I discovered Kohl's Black Friday sales started Tuesday night online...

WHAT?!  You mean I can use these gift cards I just got in the mail to buy stuff online and then you mail it to me for free?  And I can get the black Friday deals too?  Without actually going into the store? 

Eureka, that's my kind of shopping!

So that's what I did. Then I earned a bunch of Kohl's cash that could also be used online during "cyber week" which also had free shipping, so I bought more stuff...things that we need but not badly enough for me to actually arrange for childcare to go out and search for...with Kohl's cash...real money that can only be redeemed at Kohl's.  So sort of like Monopoly money.  I got:

a fitted waterproof mattress pad cover for one of my twins

flannel sheets for the twins' beds this winter

exchange gifts for the family Christmas gift exchange

and a bunch of other stuff I can't really tell you about.

But there is more...

You see, the first shipment, ordered the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (Black Tuesday?  Fat Tuesday?) arrived a few days ago.  In two relatively large boxes.

The best thing in the world to give a couple of bored preschoolers in the weeks before Christmas is a big box, markers, and stickers.

I just cut a "window" in the side of each one......and voila!! Play houses!

The fun lasted for hours, literally. 

I hardly have the words to tell you how much I love doing my Christmas shopping online.  I love Kohl's.  (As long as I get the rest of the stuff!!)  If shipping were always free...I might never step foot in a store again.

Which brings me to tell you that I also love Sam's Club.  I've mentioned it to you before, and I like to joke with my MIL that I love things in bulk...including kids!  Her theory is that the membership keeps out the "riff raff" which is likely true because I've never had a creeper experience there like my poor bloggy friend recently did at her local Wal Mart.  So if you come over to my house and see that I have 2 gallons of handsoap and a dozen paper towels stashed away, just know it's for two reasons:
I have a lot of messy kids
I hate shopping

Hence, my love for buying stuff online and buying stuff in bulk.  So...instead of fighting the crowds shopping for gifts this chilly gloomy Sunday afternoon, I am baking massive amounts Chex Mix (yes, I bought the ingredients at Sam's Club) which makes the house smell AWESOME, hanging with my football watching fellas and writing to you.  Win-win. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

O Tannenbaum

M and N have been begging to set up the tree since Halloween, so the day after Thanksgiving, we did, after sleeping in.  To nearly 8:00!  That's some kind of record here.  And NO, I did not go shopping on Black Friday.  There will likely be another blog post where I tell all about how I love online shopping (You are all pros at it but I'm light years behind the times - I just figured out how to work Spotify on the desktop dino so I can listen to Christmas music....instead of cleaning off the old CD's and changing them every 45 minutes!)

So setting up the tree went like this: get the Christmas music going (on Spotify of course) and Hubs lugs in all the boxes from the garage. The kids start going bananas unwrapping everything while he's setting it up and getting the darn pre-lit lights to actually light and I'm trying to keep them away from the fragile box and get them interested in the shatterproof ornaments box.

Once I found it, AAAGGGHHH!!!! Mater's broken!  So we had to stop everything and Gorilla Glue Flying Mater's parts back on...they were "in the shop" for the rest of the night drying.

C dives in for more decorations
M hangs something as high as he can to keep it from baby brother
N helps me with the garland
N reaches for the top
C got closest - I bet because he's the lightest!
When I was packing to move last January, I boxed up almost all of our fancy glass ornaments (except the most special ones) and donated them to a local charity.  We hadn't hung them in years, so they were just accidents waiting to happen and taking up precious moving truck space.  When we opened the boxes, I was surprised to see I'd done a pretty good job of only keeping shatterproof decorations.  Of course, that means our tree looks like plastic balls, a bunch of yarn and handmade decorations made in my  '80's Girl Scout troop, and the cute little Hallmark ornaments my mom gets for the kids every year.  And enough plastic garland for the top half. And now our new Bronner's owls and snowmen ornaments from last Sunday.  And a bunch of bows from my sister's wedding decorations.

Occasionally, I'll dream about having a "beautiful" tree - one that looks like it could stand in a Macy's display, but since I don't get out much or look at Pinterest anymore, I don't think about it. In fact, my mostly-lit, colorful, mismatched tree is more beautiful to me now than ever before.  With the exception of the plastic balls, every ornament is a memory of our lives, some even from 1977!  And now that I think of it, the plastic balls were purchased by my newlywed husband and I one year from Lowe's Christmas clearance...a memory of when we used to shop together...awe.

I just made the twins pose in front of the finished product so you can kind of see what I'm talking about. Here's the best of 3 takes:
So there you have it! Our eclectic, vintage, shatterproof, homemade, unique, owly, mostly lit Christmas Tree. It gets more beautiful every year.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Old St. Nick

We had a special family day on Sunday afternoon with the extended A family.  Grandpa A treated us all to Zehnder's!  If you are not from around here, just know that it's a pretty awesome little German tourist town right here in Michigan, and Zehnder's serves out of this world traditional chicken dinners. 

I didn't take any pictures of the meal because no one likes to look at pictures of people eating and because we were busy trying to feed the fellas.  But it was SO delicious and fun!

Then most of us bundled up and headed to Bronner's, which is also located in the fun town of Frankenmuth.  Bronner's is the LARGEST Christmas store in the world - if it's a Christmas decoration, it can be found there.  (It's sort of like the Walt Disney World of Christmas stores.) 

And SANTA was there!  Hubs and I decided, we're here, let's do it!  Because is there ever a good time for it?  (No, the answer is no.)  Best part was that we were allowed to take our own photos!  Sweet! 

So we registered and were assigned to the "present" group - we were to go shopping and listen for our group to be called to see Santa.

(Skip the part where I tell you it took forever and the whole place is filled with a ZILLION MILLION BILLION glass ornaments.)  We found an adorable (plastic) owl family ornament with two owl parents and 3 owlets and there was no charge for personalization, so we did that, too..because how could we go there and not buy ANYTHING?  And who doesn't love owl ornaments?  It will fit right in on our tree...stay tuned for that update!

Finally, FINALLY, FINALLY the "present" group was called and we raced, well, shuffled, pushed and fidgeted in line for awhile we are waiting in line:

I LOVE Santa!

Aunt L's hair is a great plaything when you're out of snacks
Then it was our turn!!!!  WOOOO HOOOO!  C was all smiles till he actually met Ol St. Nick! He clammed right up when he saw him, but did not cry, thank goodness!  M cooperated, he really got what was going on...and told Santa he wants the Lego City Police station.  Thank goodness he's a great Santa and asked the boys if they like surprises, too...because the real Santa is all like, um, NOT going to be building that...she's going to give them each a big box of Lego pieces and SURPRISE!  you get to build it yourself! (Lego City Police station is one of the most expensive kits I see online, by the way.) Then N told him he wants "another" tow truck...huh?  He's got a little toy truck that's about 5 inches long, but he wants a "medium" truck...that "lights up and goes  grrrrrrrrrr" 
 So who has one of those trucks?  Where have you seen one?  "I don't know,"
 Do you play with one at school?  At church? "No," Um....okay.  Santa will have to look into that.  Does this item exist in real life? 
So here's the whole owly family visiting Santa!  It went crying or running away!
 Here Santa gives them each a snowman ornament, which was so cute.  I wrote their names in Sharpie on the back and they hung them up as soon as we got home.

Hugs!  He was a pretty awesome Santa.

There are some things you just do because you're always glad you did it.
I guess it's part of being a good parent.
Thanks, mom, for always making Christmas awesome. 
I had no idea how much work it was!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gingerbread House Contest

Remember awhile back I said I was organizing a gingerbread house decorating contest?  It happened!  Once the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes (which my brother-in-law approved, whew!), sweet potatoes, gravy, corn casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, applesauce and the kitchen sink! were finished, the game was (almost) over, cards were being played, I was given the okay to make the announcement:

First Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest to Commence!

(Full Disclosure: I borrowed all my ideas straight from this really cute blog: Six Sisters Stuff.)

I divided the 7 little boys (aged 5 and under) and the 22 adults into 7 teams by randomly drawing the adults' names out of a bag.  Sadly, we lost a few contestants to work, shopping, and a boyfriend's family Thanksgiving, so we condensed to 6.

I set the timer for 20 minutes and the teams went to work!

N's team created a church

C's team created a freestyle structure

V and M's team created a winter wonderland

L's team created...a house with a chimney

A's team created a manger scene

M's team lost two members to a boyfriend's family Thanksgiving dinner, then suffered a collapse at the 15 minute mark, so we are just proud that the finished product was standing when the bell rang!

Here are the rest of the close-ups:


Our church, hands down the best.  Just sayin"

Winning Winter Wonderland

The chimney
One thing I may have overlooked was the voting process....there may have been some shady undertakings happening there....because the winner just so happened to be the combined team, who had Uncle T on it (and he's not exactly known for playing fair:)

But it all worked out - it was also D's 18th birthday, so he accepted the prize: a bottle of sparkling apple cider.  Although his little nephews may have run off with it in the end.

Happy Thanksgiving!  More holiday weekend antics to come later!

Congratulations and Happy Birthday, D!