Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Party

We had a grand old time last night at our house. I had my grandma, 14 of my 15 cousins and their families, my parents, and my aunts and uncles over to celebrate the holidays. Good times were had by all. It was nice to talk with everyone, especially since this is the only time I may see some of them this year.

We even had a visit from the Sheriff (that hasn't happened at a party that I hosted for a GOOD long time, let me tell you...at least it wasn't for rowdiness!!) One of the guests parked on the street, which made travel down our snow packed, dumb one lane roads tricky, so one of our more friendly neighbors called the sheriff's office. Didn't even bother to come talk to us first!! I may or may not have told the sheriff that this wouldn't have been a problem if the streets were plowed a bit better. *cough*

I made this pie:



And it was delicious, if I do say so myself!

My handsome brother Creighton, and his lovely lady Lindsey were there. I love this girl. I hope Creighton makes her an official member of the family very soon. That was just a subtle suggestion, dear brother.



This is me with my mother (in red) and my Grandma Rose (in black-I am named after her!). God gave all of us the exact same face, so I am relatively sure of how I will look at 57 and 88.



And this is Grandma Rose with 14 of her 15 grandchildren. Of the 15, only 3 of us are girls. There are WAY TOO MANY BOYS at our family gatherings. Also? All of those boys are VERY VERY TALL. Just look at them...



Too bad the three tallest are seated. They are all over 6 foot 6. No kidding!

This is me with my best cousin pal growing up, Jeremy. He and I are the oldest grandkids, and we kept everyone in line when we were younger. Which is a nice way to say, we were very very bossy. And of course, I am not bossy anymore. Oh no! (Jeff is laughing because he knows the truth!)



We had lots of good food, including a monster 14 pound ham I baked. Somehow, we planned the food very well, and there was plenty, but not gobs of leftovers. Which is nice for my waistline.



The only downside to having a party in December in Nebraska is this:



A pile of shoes at the door, all of which are coated with a thick layer of sand and ice melt. Makes for fun cleaning times in the morning!! But it was worth every grain of sand. I wish Christmas came more than once a year so that we could see more of these wonderful people.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Blizzard 2009

Christmas was a wild ride around here, due to the 15 inches of snow we received from Christmas Eve through Saturday night. Jeff's family Christmas celebration was canceled entirely, and the one I am hosting has been rescheduled to tomorrow. In preparing for the 40 people who will show up at my door tomorrow needing a place to park, I called the Douglas County engineer, and begged them to plow more than one lane through each street in our neighborhood. They did come and plow for quite awhile this afternoon, and I think it is the best it can get, but there is just so much snow and nowhere to put it. Parking will still be dicey. We have received 22 inches of snow in December here in Omaha, and it is all still on the ground. To illustrate:



This is the back of our neighbor's house. As you can see their back door is almost completely covered with snow.

I feel that we have been transported to Alaska.

I would like to go home now.

Normally, I enjoy winter and a good snow. Now? I AM SO.SO.SO.SICK OF IT!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas in Pictures


Evan teaching his brothers how to use their new Leapsters on Christmas morning. (This is by FAR Charlie's favorite gift!!)


My big boy Evan on Christmas morning, enjoying one of his many new DS games.


Charlie next to his haul from Santa.


Sammy got this football uniform and helmet from my Mom on Christmas Eve. He loved it so much he wore it to bed that night, and insisted on opening most of his presents Christmas morning with his helmet on.


Our tree after Santa arrived.


Evan's big present this year...a new bike!! He was thrilled! Too bad he can't ride it in all this snow.


Sam in his new uniform on Christmas Eve. I will never forget his excited gasp as he opened his present. He had to put it on RIGHT.AWAY.


Jeff and my Dad


The table at my Mom's house-delicious lasagne!!!


My handsome three dressed up for Christmas Eve services!


Have you heard of The Elf on the Shelf? (If not check it out at Amazon-great tradition to start with your kids!) We started this this year at the suggestion of my sister. The kids named ours Santa Elf. We were sad to send him back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Once again, I am up before the rest of my family this Christmas morning. Not sure why this is an annual occurrence, but I think it has something to do with how much I enjoy creating a wonderful Christmas morning for my kids.

It is a bona fide blizzard here in Omaha. It wasn't snowing yet yesterday when we decided to leave for Christmas Eve services. The weather people were initially calling for just a couple of inches to fall by 6 o'clock, so we thought we could make it to church and to my parent's house for our annual Christmas Eve celebration.

Church started at 4:00 (and I am, so , so glad we got to hear Evan's choir sing. They were beautiful!) but by the time we walked out at 5 we were stunned at the amount of snow that had already fallen and was drifting against the cars. We decided to head over to my Mom's anyway, and I am glad for all of us that we did. It was nice to be with family. It just doesn't seem like a holiday if you can't do the same traditions you have every year.

We left my Mom's house at 9:00, and I was really worried we might not get back. The snow was coming down hard, and the blowing and drifting was awful. We actually live outside the city and have to depend on county snow plows, which often seem to be MIA. The county streets were AWFUL. Completely snow packed. Thanks to the help of the good Lord, we got to our own driveway where we finally got stuck in about 8 inches of snow. I had to get out and shovel the tires out, and then push the van the rest of the way into the garage, but we made it!!!

Now I am eagerly awaiting my kids to wake up so I can have a cup of coffee and enjoy my family while the snow still swirls around us. (That's right! It's still blizzarding, and is not scheduled to stop until tomorrow morning!)

The only bad thing? I don't think Santa brought me that snow blower I asked for.

Merry Christmas everyone!!! Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 23rd

December 23rd is so bitter sweet.

So much excitement over the events of the next two days, but sad to see the season coming to a close. This is truly my favorite time of the year, especially with my boys, and I am so sad to see it coming to a close.

This is the year that Charlie and Sammy are 3 for Christmas, and everything is magic for them. They are anxiously awaiting Santa's arrival, services at church, and going to Grandma's house. I love watching everything through their eyes.

Evan, despite being 11, is just as excited. I love that he is helping me to pass traditions on to his little brothers.

We are forecast to get over a foot of snow Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, but I think we will at least be able to sneak in church and my mom's house on Christmas Eve before things get too bad. And then we will snuggle down in our warm winter beds and wait for reindeer hooves to sound overhead. I've bought steak for a special Christmas Day dinner, and we will celebrate snow bound with our own little family.

I hope all of you have a very blessed Christmas, and that you are safe, warm, loved, and surrounded by family.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stupid Snow and Other News

I am really disgusted with the weather report in these parts.

We are under a Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday night until Thursday evening. We are supposed to get up to 1/2 inch of ice first, and then heavy snows. At this point, it is not looking good for us to get to church on Christmas Eve for Evan's choir to sing, to be with my parents on Christmas Eve, or to drive up to Harlan on Christmas Day to be with Jeff's family. All the special events I have been looking forward to may be canceled. I am praying the storm misses us, but we will see. I am headed to the grocery store tomorrow to pick up some supplies for a Christmas dinner in case we are snow bound.

I am also disgusted with my body.

I went into the doctor today for my regular 6 month check up on my cholesterol, and I learned that while my HDL (good cholesterol) did increase into the normal range for the first time ever, my LDL (bad cholesterol) increased 55 points. To be at the highest end of normal I need it to go down 60 points. All this while on lots of medication, diet, exercise. I asked both my doctor and my Dad (who also has cholesterol problems) if they had any advice. They both said the same thing.

Get new parents.

Since it is too late for that, the doctor has added yet another medication to my repretoire. Thank God for health care reform because we will soon not be able to afford our pharmacy bill!

Evan was tested for both anemia and mono today to try and track down the cause of some strange symptoms he has been having lately including extreme thirst, exhaustion, and diarrhea. No results on his blood work yet, but I am hopeful we will get some answers.

I am trying to be positive today, but it was not a good start to our holiday week. Maybe some present wrapping tonight will help.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Stress

I am not usually a person who feels a lot of stress during the holidays. It is really and truly my favorite time of the year, especially after my children came along. I love the lights, the decorating, the baking, the events, and the shopping.

This year? Different story.

Remember that blizzard a couple of weeks ago? It was a lovely three days of being snow bound at home with my family. I loved snuggling on the couch and taking a break from life. But taking a break in December means that you are creating a pile up of chores to accomplish during an already very busy time.

Three days last week had me going, going, and going some more until 10:00 every night, hardly sitting down the entire time. So, last Wednesday, I took a personal day from work. I never do this. Usually I save my days and use them as sick days when I have to be caring for sick little ones. I am so glad I indulged myself this year with time. I finished my shopping. I ran errands. I went to the doctor. I wrapped gifts for three hours.

I was by no means done with my holiday chores when the day was done, but I felt so much more in control. I may make this an annual tradition. Sometimes Moms just need time to do some uninterrupted work.

On Thursday, I did something else I have never ever indulged in.

A cleaning lady.

I have always felt that the cleaning is something that I can easily and cheaply do myself. And most of the time? It is. I also feel like it is part of my duty as wife and mom to my family; to make our home a clean and organized space. Maybe it sounds silly, but it is truly something I think God wants me to do to minister to my family. But since I was drowning in chores and jobs this month, I thought...just this once.

Heaven is coming home after working all day to a house that smells fresh and clean. Every surface was shining, the appliances were gleaming, the beds were all made, and it was so beautiful I almost felt like we were in someone else's house. (Which perhaps says something about my cleaning abilities). Evan walked into his room and breathed a reverent "Wow Mom! This is AWESOME." The only downside? It was so clean, I didn't want the children to move or touch anything. Ever again.

I have had such a great weekend as a result. Since everything is clean, I have been able to get to other chores that have long been residing on my to do list. I feel energized by having a fresh start. So while I can't justify it being a regular occurrence, maybe I was wrong about the just this once part.

I am feeling better about Christmas being in 5 days. And I am over feeling guilty for helping myself out. I guess I'm not Super Mom after all, but that's okay.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This Isn't Funny Anymore!

My muscles are SCREAMING! Yesterday, after my last post, we got around 6-7 more inches of snow, and then the blizzard force winds took over during most of the night. When we awoke, we found a waist high drift blocking our front door, 18 inch high drifts over most of the driveway, and a HUGE 4 foot drift blocking the garage.

The bad news?

We don't own a snow blower.

Jeff and I worked our butts off for two hours this afternoon, once the winds finally stopped blowing. Have you ever exercised so much you felt sick? I felt that way after the first time I worked out with my personal trainer. And then again today. We didn't even start on the sidewalks or the front stoop/door, and still when I came in I felt nauseous and achy. Thank the Lord our neighbor let us borrow their snow blower for the drifts by the garage, but even then we had to shovel off the top layer of snow because it was too deep for the blower to handle. Our neighborhood still hasn't been plowed, so we are stuck. Cabin fever is starting to set in along with the muscle aches.

We have another snow day tomorrow (3 in a row is unheard of!) and so the upside of this whole thing is that all of my laundry is ahead of schedule.

Some holiday panic is starting to set in...I was supposed to have a personal day on Tuesday to get some holiday shopping done. As a result, I have only about 1/4 of my holiday shopping done! We're cutting it down to the wire this year...EEK! Hopefully my muscles will be able to move again by the weekend, so I can get some of this DONE!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Blizzard!

In the wee early hours of Monday morning, it snowed 2.5 inches here. It was just enough to make everything look festive, and to make driving a bit tricky. We still had school on Monday though, and the kids were full of snow excitement.

Monday night, the snow started coming down thicker and faster. By the time we woke this morning, our driveway had a fresh 3 inches on it, and school had been cancelled. So, we spent the day snuggling on the couch and watching movies.



Even the cat.

We went outside to shovel and play around 11 o'clock. The driveway was now covered with about 6 inches, so I put a shovel in everyone's hands. Evan is getting to be pretty good, but lets just say Charlie and Sammy were *not* very helpful. The boys had a great time zooming down the slide in the backyard to land in the huge pile of soft, new fallen snow underneath. We were very chilly when we came back in, but it was nothing a good hot bowl of mac 'n cheese couldn't handle.

After lunch we all got down to the business of napping under our electric blankets, and when we awoke, this is what it looked like outside:



Snow, snow, and more snow-still falling quickly in thick, busy flakes. And this is my driveway, only 3 hours after I shoveled it:



Can't even tell we were out there, can you? And even though it is only 4:00 in the afternoon, school has already been canceled for tomorrow as a result of the blizzard warning which will take effect at 9 PM. That's right-the snow is expected to start falling in even heavier amounts. I may give up on the whole shoveling thing until this is over.

Thank the Lord Jeff was able to work from home today, so I didn't have to spend any of my delicious day worrying over his safety.

I think tomorrow I am going to lay in another batch of sugar cookies and make the boys help me decorate. One of the best parts of being a teacher? SNOW DAYS!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cookies Galore

It's been a sugar filled weekend around here. My Mom, sister Sarah, Aunt Connie, and I all got together on Saturday and baked, and baked, and baked. For 9 1/2 hours we baked. Until cookies were coming out of our eyes and ears! We made sugar cookies, peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies, a candy we call Ella balls, peppermint cookies, turtles, and chocolate peanut clusters. And now our freezers are stuffed with Christmas goodies for our families and our children's teachers, and our Christmas guests.

It is soooo much work, and my feet and hips hurt today, but it is lovely to see everyone, drink coffee, and munch a broken cookie here and there. To be truthful, it is a task that tries my patience. I don't mind making one batch at a time. I really do love to bake. But I do like tasks that take a small amount of time and then are done, so I feel a sense of accomplishment. Being with the women in my family makes up for the never ending work though. As you know, I don't have nearly enough estrogen in my life, so a big dose like this is great.

We were sad that this year my Aunt Julie and Grandma weren't able to join us though. Grandma went back into the hospital for the third time in less than a month, and Julie toughed out the whole day with her, getting her seen in the ER and eventually admitted. To top off her bad day, Julie's car wouldn't start when she finally went to leave the hospital for the day. I hope the huge pile of cookies waiting for her at home made up for it a little bit. We missed both of them bunches.

My kids also got to play with their cousins while we baked. Some of my favorite memories as a child are of playing with my cousins, especially during the holidays. I love seeing my own kids develop that same relationship with their cousins. Although wan't it just yesterday that I was their age?!

I hope that all of you have a chance to do some of your favorite holiday traditions this year!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Seeing God in the Little Things

Today Rachel Anne over at Home Sanctuary asked the Company Girls:
How is God working in YOUR life? Do you sometimes miss the quiet presence of our amazing God in the hustle and bustle of life?

(I have been reading her blog for a long while now...I love her inspiration and advice, and the motivation to get things done around my home-but this is the first time I have participated in the monthly point challenge and the weekly company coffee!! I'm very excited!)

The thing I am really loving about this holiday season is that I have had the chance to see and feel God through my children. We have made time this week to pick out a holiday movie or book every day after bathtime, and then we all pile onto the couch (even the cat!), turn out all the lights except the Christmas tree, and snuggle in together. While my children enjoy Rudolph and the Grinch, I have loved having time to just stare at their beautiful faces, full of holiday wonder. I have had the chance to kiss their sweet cheeks and smell their freshly washed hair. I have been so thankful for God giving me the honor of raising these children, and the joy of being the mother in this family. I love where I am in my life, especially with my family, and I am SO thankful that the holiday season has provided me with the chance to stop and really experience that joy.

I hope that all of you have the chance this holiday season to love on your family, and to reflect on the blessings on your life. It's one of the best gifts of all.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Boys!

My preschoolers kept their teachers on their toes today.

This morning, after only 30 minutes at school, Sammy tripped while running in the gym and split his chin open. We were sure he was going to need stitches, as it was a pretty long cut, so my Mom (who works at the daycare at my school) headed off to the ER with Sammy in tow. Sammy was really impressed to be presented with a mask that made him look just like a doctor, to be asked to sit and watch Disney channel cartoons for an hour, and to be given some markers to color with. Luckily the doctor decided glue would be good enough to seal the cut, so no stitches were needed. On the way back to school Sammy asked my Mom if he was ever going to get to eat breakfast, since he had been whisked off to the hospital before breakfast was served at school. To top off his fun morning, Grandma took him to breakfast at Burger King. He was thoroughly impressed with his royal treatment. This was another one of those times when I thank my lucky stars that my mom works at the same school I do.

Charlie is lucky to be in one piece this evening. His class was on a walk to the nursing home across the street from school this morning when he dashed across the street-RIGHT in front of an oncoming car. He teacher reported it was the scariest thing she has seen in 20 years of teaching preschool. I wanted to yell at him and smother him in kisses all at the same time. He spent some time in his room tonight while the rest of us watched our nightly Christmas movie, and we said a BIG prayer of thanks to his guardian angel.

Needless to say, my boys will all be getting crash helmets for Christmas.

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