Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day

This Christmas we tried something new.  We were trying to have a more Christ-centered Christmas, and to help do this, we said each kid was going to get 3 gifts from us.  Just as Jesus Christ received 3 gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh, each of the kids will get 3 gifts (from us.)   I had heard of the 3-gift thing many times, but it wasn't until a friend (thanks Brittany) described each gift specifically, that we decided to try it.

Here's how she explained it:

Gold is "a gift of great value": One present the kids REALLY want. 
Frankincense represents "the presence of God": So for this I give them something they need, usually clothing of some sort. 
Myrrh was "used to anoint the body for burial": For this one I give something that they can share.

It worked out really well for us, and we're definitely going to continue it as a new tradition.  As we read Christmas stories for the month leading to the 25th, we also explained what we were going to do.  They still wrote out their Santa letters, and we decided what fit into each category.  Under their names on the tags, we also labeled them as "gold", "need", or "share."  They also received one gift from Santa, along with a few board games for the whole family, and one big family gift.

Christmas morning.  Never fails - we hear the kids running around like a herd of elephants above our head before the designated time to come down the stairs.  This year we said 7am, but heard them "whispering" to each other around 6:30.  Not bad though - we got up so as not to prolong their agony.

I manned the video camera, while Del snapped pics.  We take turns opening presents so everybody can see what everybody else gets, and to make the "big event" last longer.  Then when it's OUR turn to open gifts, the kids took turns (fight over) taking pictures and videoing.  Some snap pics better than others, but they ALL had to have a turn.

At the top of the stairs waiting for the OK to come down and pillage.

Rylee with her "Blue Sparkly Bear with Sparkly Clothes" that she asked Santa for.

Cupcake Maker for the girls to share.

Bug, Trav and Matt - video games to share.

Matt's new ipod (gold)

Bug's new iPod (gold)

Trav's new iPod (gold)

(Everybody else looks like DEATH to open presents too, right?)

Del bought me a charm bracelet for our anniversary a few weeks ago, and then took all the kids to pick out their own charms for me for Christmas.  I thought it was such a cool idea!   It was so fun to see what they all came up with:

Matt - a crown, because he wanted me to feel ROYAL.
Bug - a teardrop with a dove that says PEACE.
Trav - a heart with a bow for LOVE.
Sydney - a cupcake, because she liked that it opened.   (To hold something the size of a pea -what do people put in there anyway?)
Rylee - a cute little blue present with pink bow, because it's Christmas.

I also got a really nice scanner (gold) from my sweet husband - (Travis had the camera, and this picture cracks me up - half my face.  I'm ok with that though.)

Del- thrilled with his stock-pile of socks. (need)  (Not a word, KIM!)

With his handy little drill - we've already used it - so handy! (share)

Del's new garage radio - heavy duty construction radio with iPod hook-up.  (gold)  
Plus his own supply of mini pecan pies - his favorite.

Because a man isn't a man without tools.

For Christmas dinner it was just us - Turkey, home-made rolls (uh huh, I can make them if Kelsey's not around), mashed potatoes, stuffing etc. etc.  YUMMY!  We even used the fancy stuff - table cloth that doesn't fit, chargers, cloth napkins with rings, and goblets!  (Kids LOVED that.)  Matt is missing - I know.

Poor Matt was SICK all day for Christmas - throwing up and other stuff.  Poor guy couldn't keep anything down.  It started with Del, then moved to Rylee 2 days before, and then Matt.  We're wondering who's next...

BTW - finally got my Christmas cards mailed TODAY.  Better late than never.

Merry Christmas everybody - hope yours was as happy as ours.  (minus Matthew's.)

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve we have a tradition of opening one present. It's ALWAYS the same thing - new jammies. Every year they try to convince me to let THEM choose that one present, but being the OCD kind of person I am, I always choose, because I don't want to take pictures Christmas morning of the old beaten up jammies from the year before. Plus I'm the Mom, and I said so.

Old Navy jammies - our favorite.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Nutcracker

Last Friday we went to the Nutcracker at the Austin Ballet. It's the first time we've ever seen it, so it was a big treat for Sydney, Rylee and me.

Rylee knew exactly what was happening the whole time, and was explaining it to ME. Apparently in her music class at school, they reenacted it, so she knew the story well. I was very surprised she followed along so easily.

It was fun dressing up, and then going out to eat afterwards with our friends, Leslie and her two girls McKenely and Kaitlyn. We were pooped by the time we got home at 12:30 a.m.

I forgot my camera, so these were taken with my phone.

McKenely, Sydney, Rylee and Kaitlyn at the intermission.

Me and my girls.

Leslie and me.

After the ballet - a bunch of kids playing on the light show.

Looking out from the theater at the Austin skyline. It was beautiful - the picture doesn't do it justice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where do you hide YOUR presents?

Our kids are at the age where they SNOOP.  Shocking, I know, we never did that.

 We thought about the attic, but it's upstairs by the kids' rooms and they're very light sleepers.  There's no way we'd be able to pack them in and out without them noticing the ruckus.

At first we had them in the back of our old van (it's been sitting in our garage for the last 3 months) with a blanket over the loot and the doors locked, keys hidden.  But after Del got the van registered in Texas and a new battery installed, he finally put it on Craig's List last Friday morning.  It sold that same day by 2:00pm!  Wooo Hooo - but there goes our hiding place.  While the kids were at school, Del brought in all the gifts and dumped them in our bedroom.  I had clients in my chair until the kids got home from school, and forgot about them completely.  

That morning, Matt had one of his "I don't want to go to school this morning, because I'm a hormonal, grouchy teenager" episodes, and by the time he walked in the door after school, he was feeling bad for ruining everyone's morning - AGAIN.  (BTW- we fixed that problem - if he ruins any more mornings, he's grounded for that day.  He's been MUCH happier now - LOL.)  Because he was feeling bad about the morning drama, he offered to clean my bedroom to make amends.  Isn't that SWEET of him?  I forgot the presents were laying around my room though, so I told him to wait a few minutes while I took care of something - I hastily went in my room and locked the door.  I thought about shoving them in my closet, but there's no lock, and there's not enough space under the bed either!

"I've got it!!"  

My kids gross-out at the thought of ANYTHING smelly, dirty, or clogged in the bathroom.  They'll NEVER on their life risk going into a bathroom if the toilet is clogged.  My toilet room!  It has a lock on it!  It really sucks in the middle of the night, or this weekend when Del wasn't feeling so good, and had to yack 7 times.  I had a client that day, and he didn't want to throw up in the guest bathroom while the client was sitting a few feet away, so he did it in HIS bathroom sink!  BLECHK!  Sorry, honey.  TMI?

He asked if we were going to move the presents, but we really don't know WHERE to move them, so that's where they're staying until the big day.  Ingenious, I know.

The kids still haven't caught on. 

So where is YOUR stash?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Little Aimee

I just received an email from my friend Aimee who lives in England.  She just had a baby last month, and I can't tell you how excited I am for her, so I thought I'd share her good news.

To make a long story short - she had a baby many years ago, but because of complications, he only lived for a very short time. Not long after that, they adopted Paddy - who is the cutest little boy you'll ever meet - especially with his English accent.   And now - 7 years later, she just had another baby, Alfred.  Adorable!

Aimee lives in England, and a few years ago when Del and I took a trip there, I had a chance to hang out with Aimee sight-seeing in London for a day while Del had to work. I also got to go stay at her house and explore Canterbury, which is close to where she lives. It was SOOOO much fun. I can't wait to do it again.

For her birthday that year, her sweet husband Phil got her Keith Urban tickets, but since he had no clue who the man was, he offered to let me go in his stead. (Yes PLEASE!) It was THE best concert I've ever been to - we were within arms' reach of Keith. We sat on the inside of the baracade that separates the stage from the audience. (Security guard felt bad that she'd have to stare at the other concert-goers backsides all night, as it was standing room only in front of the stage.) It helps to hang out with a little person - they get all the perks. We look like a freak-show hanging out together, as I'm 6'0" and she's MAYBE 4'0". It's fun to watch people's reaction as we walk by. Good times, good times.

Here are a bunch of pics of us hanging out that week in England.

Aimee's House

Buckingham Palace

On top of the famous red Tour Bus.  A rare sunshiny day in London.

Keith Urban Concert

Up-close-and-personal with our good friend Keith.  Yes, we felt the drops of sweat fly - LOL, we didn't care.

Phil, Aimee and Paddy.  They call themselves "The Littles."

Walking around Canterbury, I had to take MICRO baby steps with these two.  Paddy was 4 years old at the time, but had the stride of an 18-month old.  As it started to rain, I picked him up so we could move faster.  When I lifted him, he was sooo excited he yelled, "Mummy, I'm BIGGER!"  (I LOVE his English accent.)

With a bunch of freaks hanging out by Big Ben.  We asked if we could get a picture with them.  They said it would cost us $1.  The guy with his hand over my shoulder thought it would be fun to flip-off the camera, but I gave him what-for and said my kids will see this picture!  I convinced him that if there were any obscene gestures, he wouldn't get paid.  They happily complied.

To check out Aimee's cute pics of her cute new Alfred - click her link to the right under Arizona - she's The Little Yankee living in England.

Monday, December 15, 2008

This year's Christmas Card.....

Merry Christmas
from our homely family to yours!

This is the family you walk by and say to yourself, "bless their little hearts."

(It helps to click on the picture to enlarge and get the whole affect.)

I laughed hard when my brother-in-law sent this back to me with some editing.  He is very gifted with photo manipulation.   

I'm torn which picture looks best for our Christmas Card now.

OK, here's the real one -

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Lights and decorations...

This was the first year I helped Del hang Christmas lights outside.  I was up on the roof straddling the peaks, white-knuckling the edge while holding the string of lights and sticking the little clips under the shingles.  Getting down is the scariest part.  Del was holding the ladder and tossing up clips and lights, and testing them.  It's definitely easier as a team.

Thank goodness it's done.  We also finished up the tree yesterday.  Now all we have to do is wait for Santa to show up and deliver the goods!

Oooo - and Saturday Del made the frames for the canvas prints that Ruthy brought with her at Thanksgiving.   I stretched and stapled them yesterday and Del helped me hang them up last night.  Here's the finished look.

Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Our 16th Anniversary...

Yesterday we celebrated 16 years together.  Holy Moly, can you believe it?  We can't - LOL.

We went to the Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie - Australia.  It was good, but really LONG.  I hate it when a movie has so much hype, that you're expecting an EPIC blah blah blah.  It was just good - not "epic." IMHO.

Del also brought home a bouquet of 16 roses, one for each year, and a charm bracelet from Brighton.  Love it.

We've almost been together half of my life.  We grew up together - I was 20, and he was 22 when we got married.  It's a Christmas-Miracle that we made it through that first year of pure hell.   OK, there were SOME good times, but I mostly remember NOT getting along.   If we went a WHOLE day without fighting, we thought it was an accomplishment.  I wouldn't change a thing though - makes me appreciate how sweet our relationship is NOW.

Everyday we were engaged, he asked me, "Are you sure about this?"  

My reply was always the same - "Yep, I'm sure."

We look sooooo young. It was hard to imagine at the time where we might be 16 years later:
  • 11 moves
  • 5 States
  • 5 awesome kids
  • A dog
  • Bachelor's, Master's, Beauty School
  • Multiple Employers
  • Multiple church callings
  • Additional pounds
  • Multiple shades of hair / Hair loss
  • Nieces, Nephews and In-Laws.
  • Soooo many GREAT friends.

I love you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bug's Christmas Present...

We've been promising Bug for YEARS that as soon as we have a house that has a big enough backyard, we'd get him the dog he's always wanted. He's had his heart set on a yellow lab FOREVER. He has been studying  books and magazines on how to train and take care of them for awhile now.

We finally found one that didn't cost an arm and a leg.  She's stinkin' cute, but man, does she make messes and smell!  (Remember, I have a super bionic nose!)

My family grew up with NO pets. OK, we had a dog "Speckles" once that wouldn't stop barking at the birds in the trees, so he lasted a whole month - possibly 2, but definitely not longer than that. I have no experience with animals - no LOVE for animals, and my kids think I'm the meanest mom alive because I don't want the dog IN THE HOUSE chewing up everything, peeing, and pooping anywhere she pleases. ACK!  I promise, I'm trying to love her.  Today was the first day I was home with her by myself.  I fed her and played with her a little in the backyard.  I was very pleased with myself.

So without further ado - here is Sarah. (Kill me now.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My JOY...

Yesterday was one of those days where I just couldn't get it together. Felt like I accomplished nothing. Not even a shower or got dressed.

Started out fighting with the kids, trying to hurry them along with the morning routine; find clothes to wear, find shoes, eat breakfast, don't forget to brush your teeth, sign daily folders, wear your jacket so you don't get cold, can't find a jacket? -
"Wear mine, I promise it's a men's jacket, because girl jackets don't fit me!" "I swear - nobody will laugh at you or think you're a girl, just because you wear a light-blue jacket!"

whine, whine, whine whine, whine.

"Fine, here's a green jacket - how about it?"

Big sigh, another whine, yelling, tears, silence.

Sheesh! Morning from hell over a jacket!? FIRST teenager, and only 13. Does not bode well for the rest of them and for how many years?

By the time the kids got home from school, I had made cookies to help erase the memory of morning. They were all happy again eating cookie dough.

I walked in my bedroom with Rylee trailing behind me, and she asked if she could lay in bed with me and snuggle under the covers. (Yes, please) She wanted to play with my phone (fun games on the iPhone) so I said sure. We played under the covers, tickling for a while when she asked if we could take pictures. 

Rylee is my joy. I love playing with her, tickling her, snuggling her, hearing her say "I love you" for no reason whatsoever. I don't want her to grow up.

"I know - take one of me as a bunny!"