Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Christmas Traditions, Old and New

Below is a list of things we have done on or around Christmas this year. These are things we may have also done in years past, or we may want to do them again in the future. Thus, the title: Christmas Traditions, Old and New.

Before Christmas:

I get my kids all dressed up sometime in November and attempt to take a family picture. Sometimes the girls all have matching dresses. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes the final family picture is worth blowing up into an 8x10, framing and putting it on the wall. Sometimes the picture is duplicated several times and sent out with Christmas cards and then, later I think...."why did I do that?"

We bake cookies!

We make donuts on or around Christmas day. I think I'll be making them tomorrow (Dec. 27th). We first started this tradition several years ago when we lived overseas and buying donuts was never an option. Having homemade donuts was even more special there.

Christmas Eve:

This is when we have our "special" meal. This year Shane made Shrimp Gumbo and I'm pretty sure we will make this our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. The 3 littlest ate mac and cheese and they were happy with that. All of the rest of us were happy too, cuz that meant more shrimp for the rest of us!

Shane and I let the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve. This Christmas Eve we had my mom and Shane's dad with us so we let the kids open up their gift from Grandma. Then, I caved in a bit and let them also open one gift from their stockings. Then, later I caved again and had Isabel open a DVD simply because I wanted to let the kids watch it so the house would quiet down a bit.

We play cards during Christmas break. This Christmas we actually played on Christmas Eve, Christmas day and now as I type this Shane and I are playing Rummy with our 3 oldest. This year Shane taught me, Christian and Aubrey how to play Hearts. We also played some Uno since that is a bit easier for the younger kids. At one point on Christmas Eve Shane's dad was playing with some of the kids at the dinner table and my mom was playing with 2 of our youngers in the living room.

We watch the movie: The Nativity Story. Oh, how I love that movie. I really appreciate how well they stick to the real Christmas story as told in the Bible.

Christmas Morning:

On Christmas morning we do NOT get up early. The kids wake up around the same time that they normally do and Shane and I sleep as long as we feel like it. :) Then, Shane reads the Christmas story. This year Aubrey read from the book of Luke and Shane read from the book of Revelations.

Then, we open presents! We do the -everyone gets a gift and then we all take turns opening one present at a time- method at our house. It's a little slow with 8 people, but that's okay.

Update: I am now playing Hearts with Shane and the two oldest girls. Since I just recently learned this game I just did something really wrong, but thought i was doing something really smart and I acted all cool about it only to be reminded that I couldn't do it....and was thoroughly embarrassed.

The evening of the 25th:

We go to our friend's, the Clarks, house. Zoe is the oldest child in the family and her birthday is December 25th. So, every year, since we do not travel for Christmas and because Aubrey is one of Zoe's best friends, we go to their house to help celebrate. We have done this for 5 years now. My, how time flies!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lazy Sunday

We did not go to church this morning. Nor did we go to the Sunday night meeting that we normally go to.
It has been a long, somewhat lazy Sunday and it's been nice.
Okay, for a mother of six children, including a few smallish ones, I am using the word "lazy" very loosely.
I still had to bathe little ones and brush through a very crazy head of hair. I did dishes and laundry and changed diapers. But, I think that's all the chores I did.
I didn't cook. Well, except a couple of boxes of mac and cheese. Oh, yeah, I guess I did make Shane a real dinner but that was just stir fried vegetables and rice. Easy peasey.
Okay, back to the lazy part...
I slept in a little, I had coffee. Twice. I read the book of Joel. I read a couple of chapters of the book of Joel from another version of the Bible. (got interrupted) I took a nap. Got to read a bit of a magazine. (Anyone else like Real Simple?)
Later on in the evening I made sugar cookie dough with my 3 "big" girls.
Then, I read Lucy several books. Her new favorite is Huggly's Snow Day by Tedd Arnold. I love the little comments that she makes sometimes while we are reading books. While reading that book she explained to me how the boy in the book could get some more snow and not be sad anymore. She's adorable, that girl.
And lastly, I got on the computer to look at Pioneer Woman's blog while I also picked up a knitting project that I've been working on for about 3 yrs. No, it's not a complicated project. But, yes, it's taking me forever to finish it. Probably because I just don't take time to be lazy.
Maybe I'll finish it during the kids' Christmas break. That would be lovely.
*sigh of content*

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Hat

Yesterday, I had to go to the big city to drop Christian off at a party.
While I was in the big city I decided to spend the big money that I had just received in the mail from my dad and his wife for my birthday.
I rarely go to Target...I cannot even remember the last time I was there, but yesterday I went. Which makes it so coincidental that my friend Valerie was just telling me the other day that when she goes to Target she always buys her kids popcorn because it makes the shopping trip happier for everyone involved. So, that's what I did. And it worked for us, too. My 3 littlest girls that I had with me didn't even spill the popcorn all over the floor!
(See, I just answered your question: How do you go shopping with little children?)
One of the things I liked and was considering buying was a black hat. I tried it on and asked Anna(6) how it looked. Lucy (3) piped up instead and said, "You're lookin' GOOD!"
Needless to say, I bought the hat.
I also got a pair of pajama pants that I am still wearing now as I type...at 10:30 in the morning. Hooray for lazy Saturday mornings.
Now, please excuse me while I go make a cup of coffee.
Only after a little more lingering and a cup of coffee will I decide to face the world, my messy kitchen, my cluttered bedroom and the laundry.* I might go peek in on my baby who seems to be playing in the bathroom BEFORE the coffee though.*

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mama, check that backpack!

I have a 3 year old named Lucy. Lucy is out of the diaper bag stage and into the backpack stage...you know the backpack that carries an extra set of clothes, a jacket, a water bottle and a snack? The said backpack does not get regularly checked because Lucy doesn't often need all that stuff when she is out and about and she is rarely in childcare.

A few months ago she did go to childcare though and that particular morning (Monday?) she had an early start. Such an early start in fact, that I decided to send some scrambled eggs with her in a small pyrex container. I didn't want her to be hungry and crabby from a lack of "real" food. But, about 3 hours later, when I picked her up she was doing great even though she never had that breakfast. I popped it into the backpack and left.

You can see what's coming, can't you?

The week went on.

On Wednesday or Thursday I picked up my son from the bus stop and I noticed that the van really smelled bad. I told Christian, "The van didn't smell until you came in." (Yes, I'm really that nice of a mom.) When we got to our destination we checked the baby's diaper. We checked Lucy to see if she had an accident. Nothing...... but a stinky van.

On Friday night there was a swimming party that we were invited to. Once again, it was, "What IS that smell?"

After the party, I loaded up all the kids in the van and the whole way home I was trying to figure out what that smell was. Christian was helpful by saying, "It smells like that time I made that stink bomb." To which I may have something like, "We don't have any rotten eggs in the van."

When we got home I started sniffing around again and found my way to Lucy's backpack.....OH, MY.

In short, I had to throw away the clothes, the packpack, the lid to the pyrex and anything else that may have been in that bag. What a horrible smell. How could I NOT have realized that I had left the eggs in there? Especially after Anna said on day 3 of this, "Lucy has wet cheese in her backpack."?

You would think that I learned my lesson after that. But, I didn't.

Today I was getting something down from the kids' closet and by chance got a hold of Lucy's backpack (not the one that got thrown away) and it was a bit wet. Hmm, why is this bag wet? It hasn't been used for a while. I smelled it. Why, does it smell like vinegar? I investigated a little bit more and found clean clothes (non-stinky ones) and a bag of slime. What could that bag of slime be? Apple slices from 3 weeks ago.

Have you ever had an experience like this? If so, maybe you should tell me about it. (Just as long as you don't ask me to smell it.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Anna Noel

Six years ago today, our daughter Anna was born. She was born overseas on a Sunday. We didn't know ahead of time that the hospital we were going to normally "closes" on Sundays. We had arranged for our friend, Cindi to meet us at the hospital to help us translate if needed. (I didn't trust myself to actually remember any of my language skills in the middle of labor.) It turned out that it was indeed good to have Cindi meet us there. She made it to the hospital before we did and quickly realized that the gate at the entrance of the hospital was closed. Fortunately, she was able to convince the guards to open the gate for me since I was about to have a baby. (Kind of worthy of opening the gate for, don't you think?)
Meanwhile, our good friend Tina was at home with our 3 other children. We called her "Aunt Tina" because she was very close to our family. We found that when we lived overseas we tended to bond a little closer with our friends....something about the greater need that we felt for each other in a land where everything was so different from what we were used to.
Anna was born very quickly which was a very good thing for me. It meant less time for the hospital staff to do things that were normal for them....but not so normal for me. I'll be nice and polite and leave out the birth details.
I will mention though that neither my husband, Shane, nor Cindi were able to be in the delivery room with me. But, since Anna was my 4th baby it wasn't such a huge deal to me.
Anna weighed in at 7lb 9oz. I think. I could be making that up. I would have to go find her birth certificate and then translate from kilos to pounds. Not going to do that right now.
More importantly, Anna was born healthy and from the get go she brought joy to our lives. My nick name for her is Smiley. She is one of the smiley-est children I've ever met. She is not easily offended and is very kind hearted. She loves to give to others and is an encourager. She really enjoys digging in the dirt and "boy" toys such as monster trucks. She is a sensitive girl, but doesn't cry at the drop of a hat. She is learning to read and it's opening a whole new world to her. She is studious and adventurous.
I'm so glad to have her in my life!