Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Shnuggo, Shnuggo"

Just one of those things I don't want to forget....

Lately Lauren has been saying what sounds like "Shnuggo, Shnuggo" when she wants to snuggle. She'll climb up into your lap and say this as she's giving you a tight little squeeze around your neck or snuggling up onto your chest. Her sweet little voice melts our hearts every time she says it. I'm so grateful that she's such a snugly little girl.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Memories

"Children sleeping, snow is softly falling
Dreams are calling... like bells in the distance
We were dreamers, not so long ago
But one by one.... we all had to grow up
When it seems the magic's slipped away
We find it all again on Christmas day

Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe......."

-Josh Groban from Believe (Polar Express Soundtrack)

I love this song. It reminds me of the magic of Christmas that we all felt when we were little children. This year as I listened to this song I realized that the years in which ALL of our children "Believe" (if you know what I mean) are becoming numbered. Jacob still believes but now that he is 7 I guess I'm starting to realize that with each year that passes it could be his last. And with his last the rest will soon follow, year after year each one leaving behind the innocence and wonder of their early childhood days. Years from now all we will have are the memories we make today and when our children are grown and gone I want to know that I cherished every one.

In recent years I've found myself becoming increasingly protective of Christmas. It's hard sometimes to balance between seeing family over the holidays and having your own families traditions at home with your children. Over the last few years we've found a happy medium by spending Christmas Eve (day) at the Grandparents house and then coming home in the early evening so we can have our own families Christmas Eve and Christmas morning traditions. In the late afternoon we usually have friends or family over for a nice Christmas dinner. I've noticed though that the larger our own family has become the harder it's been to do this and still enjoy the day. Entertaining takes a lot of preparation and work and frankly adds a lot of stress to the entire household with everyone scrambling to clean up the house from the Christmas morning storm.

So this year I decided to take a break from entertaining and really enjoy Christmas. The result was a stress free day spent primarily in our Christmas pajamas, lounging around at home watching the kids play with their new toys and enjoying the day. We had our fancy Christmas dinner, did our traditional live nativity with the kids dressing up and Aaron reading from Luke 2. Then we all watched "The Nativity Story" with the kids that night. (this movie is amazing by the way-if you haven't seen it it's a very special movie). Overall it was a great day.

It was so wonderful to relax all day with the kids and enjoy every moment and memory without any outside stresses or distractions. This was the first year that we did this and I feel pretty sure that we'll be doing it again next year too. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.

Here are some pictures to share........

Visiting Santa

After waiting in line for nearly 2 hours they finally had their turn to sit on Santa's lap. This Santa visits our mall every year and he is so wonderful!

Getting our Tree
Bacons Christmas Tree Farm in Belfair

Every year we go to the same place -Bacon's Christmas Tree Farm in Belfair. I love this place! It has over 300 acres of rolling hills covered in Christmas trees. In a word it's magical and after 6 years of coming here it has become one of our favorite family traditions.

We pick our tree, cut it down and haul it in the trailer up to the checkout where they serve free apple cider and hot cocoa. The last couple of years the boys have been able to sit in the back of the trailer with me bumping along on the dirt road singing Christmas songs at the top our lungs. It is so much fun! I love that the boys are getting older now and that they can help Daddy carry the tree. I can be terribly sentimental sometimes about our family traditions and I can't help but look at my sweet little sons holding up one end of the tree and imagine how years from now they will be 3 young men probably cutting down the tree and carrying it themselves while Aaron and I watch. After we found our tree the boys had fun running around exploring, and climbing up to the top of some of the hills. In the picture on the top right of the collage Joseph and Lauren are smiling because they are tickling "plumber" Aaron's back (or maybe something a little lower) while he was leaning over to cut down the tree.

Decorating the Tree
I realized after looking for pictures of the kids decorating the tree that there weren't any because I was enjoying decorating the tree so much that I completely forgot to take pictures. And since my darling husband does not have the mind of a photographer he happily watched us decorate the entire tree without even thinking to snap a picture. Oh well. I didn't even think of it until Joseph was chosen to put the angel on top. Oops! I did manage to get a couple of Aaron stringing the lights.

Christmas Eve at Papa and Grandma's House

I love our tradition of going to Papa and Grandma's house and spending the day on Christmas Eve. This year we actually came over the day before Christmas Eve and spent the night so the kids got a full day at their house. This year there was so much snow Aaron and his Dad spent over an hour just shoveling out their driveway so that when the rest of the family came they could get through. The kids had fun playing Foosball and doing puzzles with Papa. The prime rib dinner was delicious as always and the kids were showered with gifts from their sweet grandparents.

Christmas Morning
This year was a STAR WARS Christmas for the boys. Santa brought them each a light & sound Light Saber and they had fun playing with their Star Wars action figures and spaceships. All day they were playing "Big STAR WARS" (where they battled each other with their light sabers and pretended they were various characters from the movies). Then they would play "Little STAR WARS" (where they would play with their spaceships and action figures). Lauren got her first Baby set with a stroller, bassinet, diaper bag etc. and a jewelry box full of beaded necklaces and bracelets that I had made. I also made her a Christmas dress. All day she was pushing her little stroller around the house wearing various necklace combination's from her box and trying to steer clear of her brothers light saber battles. She was so darling.

Another thing that was really special about Christmas this year was the gifts that the kids made/gave to us. I have to admit that one of my favorite things about them reading and writing now is to see how they express themselves when they make things for us. We had about a half a dozen cards from the boys with pictures that they had drawn and written sweet messages on. They had sealed them up with tape and placed them under the tree weeks before Christmas. We also received a homemade calendar from Jacob and a clay Santa ornament from Joseph that they had made at school. They were so excited for us to open them.

Christmas Day
After Aaron finished assembling toys we just hung out together enjoying the day. The boys were very eager to help me make juice with my new juicer. Aaron's turkey turned out so moist and delicious, and the kids were cute as ever in their live nativity. It was a wonderful day and a very enjoyable Christmas. The only thing that didn't go as planned was that the kids Christmas pajamas (even though they were ordered 3 weeks before Christmas) didn't arrive until a week after Christmas thanks to all the beautiful snow that kept the mail and deliveries from arriving on time. That was kind of a bummer but luckily their Christmas pajamas from last year still fit so they wore those instead. Here is a picture of them (a week later) sporting their pajamas after the new year. (It took me weeks to finish this darn post!)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Here are some more pictures from our winter wonderland here in Washington.....

The icicles hanging off of the house are over 2 feet long and the snow is so deep we made a whole family of snowmen and still didn't hit the ground. I've never in my life seen this much snow!

Lauren & Jacob sledding down the hill (I love this picture), Aaron and the boys making snowmen (we each made our own and Jacob made Lauren's), Ben & Aaron warming up by the fire and Jacob making a snow angel.

Poor Lauren. The ride started out fine but she slid off the front of the sled half way down the hill and snowplowed her face for a couple of feet. I felt terrible! I ran to brush the snow off her face but HAD to snap this picture first! Joseph standing proudly next to the snowman he made.

Proof that kids aren't the only ones who like to eat snow...... (:

Our little munchkins all bundled up and enjoying the snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Oh, what fun it is to ride..."

I don't know about you but we're all snowed in with no place to go. Our driveway is a sheet of ice under 6 inches of snow! After getting our cars out of the ditch, there was nothing else to do but go outside and play. Here is a clip of Aaron and Jacob sledding down the hill. Those of you who have been out here know how far it is from the top of the hill (you can see the swing set) down to the pond at the bottom. I was too chicken to do it (I bailed out before I hit the jump) but Aaron and Jacob went all the way down...

Hope you're all staying safe and enjoying the snow too. Here are some more pictures from today......

Notice anything different about Aaron's smile?
After nearly 2 years his braces came off yesterday!

Jacob taking a break from sledding.....

Benjamin riding down the hill.

Joseph headed back up the hill for another ride.

The boys down at the pond, after a day of sledding

The pond frozen over, not strong enough to ice skate on, yet......

Jacob taking Lauren for a ride down the hill, she loved it!

Jacob's Christmas Concert

Playing the xylophone

Jacob's school had their Christmas concert tonight. His class had been practicing several songs and had learned sign language to a few of them too. Their biggest performance however was a song his class played on the xylophone. It actually sounded really good for a bunch of first graders. It was so cute to see him concentrating as he played. His eyes were glued to that xylophone. At the end of the song he stood up crossed his arms in front of his chest and did a bow (so did all the other kids but it was just so dang cute!).

Jacob had a speaking part in the concert. He had memorized it and so from time to time throughout the week I'd quiz him on it . Driving him home from school that afternoon I asked him if he was going to be nervous getting up in front of all the kids and their parents. This was the dialogue that followed.

MOM: "Jacob are you nervous about saying your part?"

JACOB: "No, I don't get scared." (said very matter-of-factly)

MOM: "Wow, that's really good, most people get scared when they have to talk in front of a lot of people. "

JACOB: "I know, because today (at the dress rehearsal) there was this girl who had to say her part and she got so scared she didn't say anything for a really long time...."

MOM: "Uh oh. Did she forget her part?"

JACOB: No, she had it on the paper right in front of her!

MOM: "Wow, she must have been really nervous."

JACOB: Yeah, when I go up there I just pretend like there's nobody there. Or I just pretend that they're all babies because babies don't care what you do."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tokens of Love...

I've been meaning to post this for weeks now.....

In addition to bringing me flowers, (when they are in season that is) Joseph frequently leaves little love notes on my pillow, bed or nightstand. I usually find them when I come upstairs to go to bed at night or when I'm in my room cleaning. They are completely random and he does them in secret so I'm never expecting them when I find them but it never fails to melt my heart.

(Found on my bed-he used my necklace from my jewelry box to shape a heart)

Now that Lauren is getting older he has started doing the same types of things for her. When Joseph started Kindergarten this September he started bringing home what I call little tokens of his love. In his class they have "choice time" where you can do/ or play anything you want for about 20-30 minutes. During this time he will frequently be over at the "recycled art" station where he cuts out hearts and writes "Mom" or "Lauren" on them. I volunteer in his class so I see him over there quietly working on his "projects" and it is the sweetest thing. He also makes these little "bracelets" out of paper strips that he decorates with stickers. On the inside he writes a little love message. The first time he brought them home he was so excited to show Lauren. He would pull them out of his backpack and lovingly slip them on to her wrist. I had to take a picture of these bracelets and some of the other "tokens of love" that I've caught on camera as I've found them over the past few months- I don't ever want to forget this.

(One of the many bracelets he has made and brought home)

(A little love note to me with very carefully drawn hearts)

( A "card" he made at choice time taped together with a message inside)

( I was not as thrilled about finding this one. He drew it on the sheet on my side of the bed-Oh well, at least it's washable marker)

Taped to the front door so that when I came downstairs it would be the first thing I saw in the have to click on it to see the note he wrote)

Joseph has been probably the most challenging to raise of all the kids. But, although his forgetfulness, inability to focus, and silly, goofy antics frequently push me to the edge (and sometimes over it) I am grateful for his little tokens of love and his sweet nature that frequently soften my heart and give me the strength to get through the more challenging times as his mother.