Thursday, December 22, 2016

O Christmas Tree 2016


We like to get our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. But, Cam was working Friday and Sat. 
We did make it out on Sunday. We went straight from church to hunt for the perfect....I mean a tree that is acceptable. 

We walked around in our church clothes dodging mud puddles...and mud bogs...and lakes of rainwater. 

The children on Santa's (meaning me) good list brought a hoodie/coat and boots to wear at the tree farm. Those on Santa's naughty list got their church shoes all mucky. 



On to the just right tree. Over the years I care less and less about the perfect tree. I let the kids look and pick...and I only give a few yah/nahs. I mean c'mon...a tree with all brown needles isn't going to work for me. It's a fire hazard after all.


Oh my cute people. I love them! 


Oh look...it's a teenager and he's smiling AND got his photo with his Mama. 


Mr. Hottie Dad carried our chosen tree. And he was really happy because the amount of time it takes us (me) to approve a tree has decreased over the years from about an hour to 10 min. That's something to celebrate. 

Every Christmas is busy. Besides the holiday festivities we have REGULAR LIFE too. It's just the worst to me that on top of all the REGULAR LIFE I now have a mountain of holiday things to add. Eeeeks! 

I've tried a bunch of different strategies to calm my nerves and get things done (i.e. enjoy the holidays). We start early to pace ourselves. We've eliminated things that we used to do. We don't add anything extra. 



This year's strategy is minimize, minimize, minimize. I was craving a house that isn't too cluttered. We decided to go minimalist on the Christmas decor. 

After getting our tree we had a basketball game to attend and then bed. The next day was back to school and Cam to work so our tree sat undecorated for a bit. 

I was dreading getting out ALL THE ORNAMENTS. I have A LOT! And then I came up with a plan. I went to the basement and pulled out the box of ornaments. I called each kid one or two at a time and had them pick from the top of the bin. They each picked about 20 or so ornaments and then carried them on a tray to the tree and put them on. 

I told them to tell me when the tree looked full. And then we stopped. I put the lid back on the tub and slid it back into storage. Nobody got sad or obsessed about not putting certain ornaments on the tree since they never saw them. Yeah!

And...I didn't spend the time telling the kids where to put the ornaments. They happily put them on. And then when they were at school the next day I rearranged a few. Meaning: I took ornaments off the ends of branches that contained so many they were bowed to the ground.

The tree looks simply beautiful. 


Rocket agrees. It's his new fave spot to lay. Sneaky dog isn't suppose to be on the chair. (pic was taken before ornaments went up)



Then in my bedroom I put up a little fake tree. Instead of the ornaments I usually put on I opted for a couple boxes of gold and glittery balls. The skirt was made by my MIL for her mother and I love it. It's really fun to have this tree in our room. 

The rest of our decor consists of an advent calendar...actually two. But man does it save me from answering, "how many days until Christmas?". We opted for lights and candles to sparkle up the mantel and living room and dining rooms. I put my Ethiopian nativity in my china hutch.

Cam was a SAINT and did the lights in our yard. Tuba loves them so much and I have an injured arm so couldn't do them this year. I came home from work one day and he had them all up. Yahoooo! 

So that's it for decor simplified. And enjoying the season!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

I adore Thanksgiving! It's one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy all the cooking and prep for hosting. And...it only lasts a day. Well, maybe two days if you include all the prep work the day before. The best kind of holiday. 

I usually have my turkey cut up into quarters and then I roast it in pans in the oven. It cooks much quicker and is easier to handle. This year I brined the bird over night. The kids about died and gagged when they saw me taking the bird parts out of the brine. I told them you must dance with your turkey before you cook it. They think I'm nuts. 


We have favorite things we like to make each year for Thanksgiving dinner and Parker House rolls is at the top of the list. The kids really don't care if we have turkey...just rolls and jello. 

Sis helped me with the rolls. She is a good helper and has a natural knack for cooking and baking. 


Besides the yummy food the holiday is a fun time to enjoy my loved ones.


My mom and Bill came for dinner along with one of my sisters and my niece and nephew. My in-laws came for dessert. 

We had the yummiest drinks! It was Limoncello and Prosecco. Delicious! 


It didn't snap too many photos since I was busy cooking but I love this one of George pouring cider for his cousin. So sweet. 


It's the holiday to reflect on what we are thankful for....and I am thankful for so much. This year I think the thing I'm most thankful for is for kids...my own and ll the kids I see while teaching. Kids are  so honest. I love how kids just tell it like it is. They say what comes to their mind and what is in their heart. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Milestone

Sis has asked me several times over the years about getting her ears pierced. I have always told her that she can get it done whenever she is ready. He next question has always been, "does it hurt". I'm all about telling the truth so I've told her it does hurt for a second...kind of like a shot. At that point she would always decide to wait a bit longer. 

During soccer season she announced she was ready to have it done. But....since the ears have to heal and you cannot wear earrings in games we had to wait a bit longer. She was a good sport and waited until the season was over. 

Finally the day came. Sis was nervous and quiet but steadfast. A rock. Seriously brave.


She didn't even flinch and of course no tears! 


She loves them and cannot wait for them to heal so she can change earrings.  Oh my....what a beauty. 



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween fell on a Monday. Seriously?! That has to be the worst day for Halloween. I'd support an initiative to move Halloween to the last Saturday of October. 

But, regardless....we dressed up and had fun! Cam worked so I was a one woman show.

In past years I've required the kids to stay under a $10 costume budget. This year I felt generous so I upped it to $20. Sis immediately found this gorgeous dress on sale. She was so excited! 

She looked gorgeous! Elsa from Frozen!!




George had the two costume Halloween. He wore the Army suit to school. He loves this outfit and accessories it with Cam's Army days items....hat and compass. 


My mom made me a costume! How fun is that?! I love my Dorothy dress...and SHOES!
I attended all three of the elementary kids' parties. 



After school we regroup and head to our neighborhood party. King Tuba went to Grandma's house to have dinner and help her and Grandpa pass out candy. He had a blast!


I love this kid! He found this "biker" kit when shopping for costumes. It cracks me up! He ROCKED the look!


This is George's scary costume that he wore for Trick or Treating. 


Mr. P had basketball tryouts after school and didn't join us until after dinner. He quickly changed into his costume. How handsome is he? I love it that he still wanted to dress up. 


We went out trick or treating for about an hour and then headed home to get out of costumes and into bed by 8:00. Phew! It was a long and fun and SUGARY day.
How much candy would you guess we collected? 4 kids going door to door for just under an hour. 

Guessing.....

40 lbs.! Yikes!! The kids are VERY mad that we took it all away after letting them take a small piece in their lunch each day for the rest of the school week. 

Oh well, it's my job. I keep it tied up in a bag and put it up on a high shelf. I bring it out for movie nights or other treats. Or when I need a pick me up. Shhhh....don't tell!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pumpkin Patch 2016

This year we were so busy with soccer and activities that we kept putting off our annual trek to get pumpkins. Truthfully I didn't mind if we skipped carving pumpkins but Cam said it was his favorite part of Halloween....so at the last minute we headed out. 

Literally, the day before Halloween....

I always like to get great photos of the kids. The bright orange color looks so striking. 






The farm wasn't muddy or crowded or cold. Okay...we went to the grocery store! It was awesome!!! Cheaper and quick! 


Then the fun begins. Moses was very serious with his planning. 


The rest of the kids just dig in. 


The kids are getting big! This year almost all the cutting was done on their own. 





Tuba was so happy with his pumpkin. 




This cracked me up! After all of that scooping to get his pumpkin clean this was the extent of the face he made. 


All finished and looking spooky!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Stinkfume



I cannot stand perfume (stinkfume)...or cologne...or any scented thing for that matter. I do not like dryer sheets, or scented candles, or air freshener. 

When I was an early teen I liked perfume but I noticed even back then that strong scents made me feel sick. I would get a headache and even feel woozy. 

I wore perfume until I was in my early twenties. I became more sensitive to fragrance and eventually couldn't wear it any more without feeling sick. 

That was 20 years ago and It's only gotten worse. Much worse! I get physically ill from lots of scents or fragrances....artificial scents that is.

My 13 year old wants to wear cologne but I can't let him. He's not happy and suggests that he can just wear it at school. Ummm...no. 

He was at a friends house this summer and his friend sprayed him with Fabreze just to joke around. When he got home I could instantly smell him and asked what the smell was. Within about 10 minutes I began feeling sick...headache, nausea, generally woozy. I had to change his clothes and put the stinky ones in the wash. Nope, not good enough. He had to shower the smell off of him. It took about 3-4 hours for me to feel well again. 

I have had several instances like this. I've been hugged by people wearing perfume/cologne and I have to change my clothes and shower. I cannot go to the mall. Wow, it reeks like perfume in the whole place! That candle store is the worst! Stinks so bad. Makes me gag. I've even had kids in classrooms wearing perfume to school that made me feel so awful. Seriously, why would you spray perfume on your child?! I wish that my kids' school was a strict fragrance free zone. Some of the local schools have taken this step. 

And you know how I love magazines. But, the perfume ads are TERRIBLE! I rip them out and throw them into the trash (the outside can) but then my hands stink even after washing several times. This week I was trying to red O Magazine but the perfume ad smell lingered so strongly that my eyes were red and itchy and I felt sick. By chance I looked it up and you can order a fragrance free magazine. Yeah! I am so thrilled! I'm switching all of my subscriptions. 

I clean with natural cleaners that smell like lemon or grapefruit, burn unscented candles, use fragrance free laundry soap, bathe and shampoo with natural products or scent free, and I love Fabreze UNSCENTED. It's genius...it removes odor and leaves NO smell behind. 


Things I love the smell of...

Newborn babies

Freshly ground coffee

Bread baking

Toast 

My kids' hair after playing outside

The ocean

Fresh clean sheets...with unscented soap....just the clean smell

Cast Off


And the cast is off! Yippee! Mr. P is very glad to be done with it. His arm is really skinny and doesn't extend all the way. He is going to PT twice a week to regain range of motion and get ready for basketball. 


It was really fun to watch the saw cutting the cast off. It's a mini skill saw that only goes so deep. It was kinda freaky!


Arm free! I think Mr. P grew at least an inch during the month he was in the cast. He is looking long and LEAN! Time to head back to running, and sports and beef up with lots of delicious food.


And look at this amazing plant! I'm in love with it. 



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