Thursday, December 27, 2007

Joy and family and a couple extra pounds....

What a wonderful couple of days. Our Christmas always starts on Christmas Eve as Kev's family celebrate in the German (?) tradition of opening all the presents etc after dinner on Christmas eve. It's pretty magical.

Super Sister-in-law (I think that may be her new name) came through with the most amazing dinner! She wins hands down as the cook of the season!

Yes, even the dogs joined in the celebration. See we're "those" dog people now!

We mostly watched her work her magic (I think Amelia took this one)
and hung out getting Christmas cuddles from our last baby. (Can I still call her a baby once she's four?)...

At the kids table, crazy mayhem ensued...
So it was pretty much business as usual:)
We have a tradition where Papa reads the Christmas story from a huge old coloring book that my hubby and sister-in-law colored as kids. It was touching and precious this year to have the four older boys each take a turn with Papa in reading. I remember when they were tiny boys and could barely sit still long enough to read through even a page and here they are, on the cusp of becoming young men... amazing!


And then came the crazy, exciting present bit! They were all pretty excited. We don't go overboard on presents but they all loved everything so much it was fun to watch!

Here's the, "oh, I can't believe how much I love it!" face...

followed by the, "waaaaaa-whoooooo. You rock! You totally rock" dance and song....

Wonderful, magical evening.

The second half of our Christmas tradition started when we came home to fill the stockings with my mom and dad and brother.


"And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care...."


In the morning, we got up too early and had a wonderful day of more gifts and more food.
My dad took the pictures so hopefully I'll have them later!

It was a great couple of days filled with love and family.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I just finished my 4 pies and am going to start on a cake and maybe venture onto these. If you don't hear back from me it's because my bum is suddenly much too big to get into my computer chair:) From the sounds of it, it will be well worth it. Seriously check that blogger out! I may have to try everything she chronicles but I plan to pace myself because it don't wish the diabetes and heart disease on my nearest and dearest.

We have tried, just like every year, to make this season less about "stuff" and more about our faith. As usually I am failing miserably. I wonder if everyone feels this way or is it just me? I am failing to pass on the importance of Christs birth to my precious, sugar filled offspring. Will they even know why we race around like crazy people for a month, buying, buying, buying? Can they feel that underneath it all should be a deep sense of peace, joy and mostly love? That we give gifts because the greatest gift of all was given to us? I'm not sure but I hope so.

I hope this Christmas is filled with love and joy for you and yours. I pray Gods peace and blessing for those who I know are grieving this season. May you be able to rest in God's great love.

Over here we will be celebrating our savior's birth in the fashion we've grown accustomed too. It mostly involves a revolving door of family and tons of food. I can't wait! My poor sister-in-law has taken on the unenviable task of Cooking The Turkey. Yes, she may need psychiatric help at the end.

"Merry Christmas from our family to yours!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Trying this again....

So I was going to tell you about our day of Christmas performances. I wish I had pictures of the younger kids doing theirs but it's hard to capture it anyway. I think there might be video but seeing how fast we get on that stuff, it could be next year before that makes it's way OFF the video recorder! It's probably less painful for you this way anyway. Their my kids so it's my job to sit through all this and love it but not so much for anyone else.

My middle two have been practicing and working on a Christmas production "The Mystery of the Manger" since October. The big unveiling was on Sunday. Son #2 had a dancing role and choir duty while daughter #1 sang in the choir. Although wonderful, Isaac's dance was so quick that most of our guests missed it (I didn't and thought he was amazing) but no one missed the larger than life blond girl singing in the front row. I'm not sure if the choir director told her to sing loud AND smile but whoa nelly! She was like one of those badly dubbed martial arts movies from the 80's. So cute and hilarious. I had quite a few people come up to me after and tell me they loved watching her. She's a born performer that one!

It was like every Christmas production you've imagined. Poor singing by the soloists, the sound was terrible, you could hardly hear many of the kids talk BUT it was wonderful! Because it was my precious kids and for me, they were wonderful.
The extended family was somewhat underwhelmed, I think, but...I thought my kids shone like stars because...that's my job:)

I was surprised actually by how much Isaac enjoyed it. He is the kind of kid that you have to make do things because he hates them and doesn't want to but once you get him into it, he enjoys himself so much and does a great job. It's exhausting for me at the beginning but worth it in the end.

Oh and the littlest girlie even had a part. The 3 and 4 year olds went on before the bigger kids and knocked everyone's socks off with their incredible cuteness. They had a little poem to recite which Amelia knew at home but I noticed as I watched she didn't say on stage. AND a song. I think they stole the show! SO CUTE!

Everyone migrated over to our house where we had lunch and the older boys did something that involved this:
and a bit of this:
I think Amelia (the three year old) took these.

....and then it was off to cousin #1's Christmas production. In this one the small kids were safely used as sheep with, I noticed, no lines and everything went without a hitch. Can you still say a fourteen year old is cute? Cuz he is! I was so proud!


I'm pretty sure he was a shepherd.

But look at the audience...

Yes this is what we're dealing with folks! They managed to sit the whole time AND listen ( I think) but I'm pretty sure they have enough sugar coursing through their veins to cause diabetes is weaker souls:)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Of cake and architects etc...

I'm a binge blogger. I do so great and then...nothing.

I'm a binge eater too. My mil made a cake for the lunch I hosted yesterday. She was totally sweet about leaving it for me so today...I ate it. ALL! Well, everything that was left anyway. I didn't eat much real food. Just cake.


Oh and I DID NOT run:( So for those of you impressed by my wonderfulness (not a word but I can use it if I want!) don't be.

It was worth every bite. Seriously mil makes the best cake ever!

Oh, we had an architect to our house today to do a consult on what we can do with the "crazy" house, as we affectionately call our home. The first meeting is just an brainstorming thing where we tell him what we want to do and our hopes, dreams,crazy insane ideas,wishes and he (kindly) tells us we're insane he then drew out some concept stuff that blew our socks off. Since I'm NOT the money person in our relationship. I turned to hubby after he left and said, "I so want them to help us do this". And he said, "Do you understand how much money they cost?"

Of course I don't. He's been married to me for 13 year this should NOT be a surprise to him!

Anyway, he blew our complicated little plan away with his equally complicated but much more logical ideas and then when we are convinced he understands and loves us breaks it too us that he costs a boat load of money to manage our renovation. Hubby figures between himself and my brilliant bil (who runs a Commercial construction company and actually knows what he's doing) they can go solo on it.
No huge coin to architect dude for pretty booklet of ideas which will later turn into more large dollars for detailed drawings etc. and I get to live through yet another renovation. I did willing choose it this time though so I have no one to blame but myself.
I can imagine how amazing our beautiful little acre of trees and lawn will look in the end though so...that does help.

On other fronts And because I'm being to panic....

Who else is not done their Christmas shopping? I was doing so well but I am down to the last few and I seem to have stalled out. HELP!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I think I'm loosing it a bit. My groove. My drive to run. I'm still running but not as far. I only ran 6 k instead of 10 on Monday and for 45 mins on my tread mill Thursday instead of my hour outside. I think this would all be fine if I wasn't eating so much but I just helped eldest son to polish off a bag of M & M's. Have you tried those new dark one??? YUMMY!! Worth every bite! YUM.

So I want to stay in shape but I also want to enjoy my holiday and the food is a big part of that. Is this just going to be a constant tension in my life? I don't think I'm quite ready to give up chocolate, wine or the odd cookie.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm trying to find some balance. A way to be fine with the way I feel and look while NOT sending the wrong messages to my kids, especially my daughters. I want to be able to enjoy a great meal with my friends and family without talking about how I have been "bad" or shouldn't be eating it. I also want to be able to turn off my craving for sweets when the season is over.

Mostly I'd like to do more of this:

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This is from our family walk last weekend. We just put aside the baking and the house cleaning and went outside.
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Maybe that's my answer. Just get outside and stop worrying so much about the whole food thing.

Tomorrow's going to be a crazy busy day BUT it will start with a nice long 11 km run followed by our tradition of a coffee and muffin. I can't wait!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

sorry for the rant....

The meeting with my teacher went great! Kids are all good and the war hammer table was a HUGE hit! YAY kids!

You should have seen us in there! We're such a gong show AND we brought the dog. Lucky for me our teacher is amazing. She's flexible and fun and loves the kids (and dog)!

Maddy (my six year old) is not really reading yet which gives me a bit of worry. There's nothing wrong with her brain and she's very bright but oh so stubborn. I think she doesn't like being told what to do? (who do I know like that?) and she wants to be able to do thing well, first try (also... no idea who she gets that from!) The boys also didn't read well until at least grade two and now are both voracious readers, so I do know it will come. It's just hard to wait for it to come and frustrating fighting with her to practice:)

So onto my new rant.

Christmas shopping!

Which actually, I like doing. I love finding the perfect gift for someone, buying it and then watching them open it! I LOVE that! I don't like having a budget but then who loves that at Christmas time but I seem to always find something great for almost everyone.

What I HATE and I mean dislike so much it makes me want throw things and then drives me to drink?
Are you ready?

Shopping with my three year old!

Don't get me wrong, I love my three year old, just not in Winners! 'nuff said!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The one where I actually talk about homeschooling...

I am a homeschooler. I know I mentioned it in my profile but if you're like me, you don't read it first thing. I usually remember after I've read a post or two. When I'm thinking, "now, how many kids does she have? Where did she say she's from?"

Anyway, I am.

I'm not one of those outwardly militant, jumper wearing homeschool mama's but that side lurks somewhere in me. (well maybe not the jumper part but I can get a bit militant on an off day). People usually tell me that my kids and my self don't seem like homeschoolers. I'm not sure this is quite the complement they mean it as. OR it could be a serious put down to other homeschoolers. What does that mean anyway?

When I start hearing things like, "Oh wow. You homeschool. I could never do that." Seriously, it's the craziest thing to say really. Like any of us feel we're equip for anything our adult lives have thrown at us. We usually just do the best for our individual families with what we have.

I usually say," I don't feel like I can do it most days either." I'm thinking all sorts of snarky, sarcastic things at them though cuz, that's just the way I roll. I'm not mad really. It's just fun to think up smart alec responses to stupid comments. Try it. It's so fun! I wish I was so quick in real life but then people would not think I'm so nice after all:)

We meet with a teacher once a semester. I guess the government has to check to make sure we aren't actually using our kids for manual labor on the sly or something. My meeting is tomorrow. I'm a bit stressed about it for a couple of reasons.

Number one: I have a ton to do tomorrow and don't really want to take the time to meet with said teacher. I want to run, help a friend celebrate a birthday, hubby is away and I just don't feel like it :)

Reason number two: For those of you who don't homeschool, this will make NOT sense to you but for those who do....

..... how to show what my kids have been learning. What I've found in my years at this gig is that real learning has very little to do with the stuff kids put down on paper. Why is this a problem you wonder? Well, the only way people, like myself who come from the institution of public education, have to measure learning is by the stuff kids write down on paper. Mostly fill in the blank, story writing type drivel that non of us remember anything about now that we're not in school but for some reason was crazy important to have studied and re-studied for years and years. Well we don't do a whole lot of that as you can imagine. Mostly because it's not fun and has very little long term value. I have to admit it does look cool though AND so fun to show people! My girls seem much more inclined in that direction so maybe I will have some "hard copy" to show people in years to come.

Here's an example of what the boys are up to:

The boys have created a panorama for their Warhammer game (It's okay I'm not sure what warhammer is either. It's about painting little figurines and war, no hammers are involved though so, not sure about the name.)
It's a massive thing created out of Styrofoam and paint. This took countless hours and is totally self directed. Cool eh?!
They started with this piece of styrofoam:

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painted and carved and glued:
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and viola! They still want to add to this but here it is so far...
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I think it's out of one of the final scenes from The Lord of the Rings. It's the black gate I believe.
Here's a better angle:
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Can you see how this is a tad hard to represent in a paper answer type form?

Lucky for me they both do well at math and we have bucket loads of that.

Do you think I can get girl #1 to read novels by tomorrow? No. Me either. I guess we'll just keep going along at our own merry pace then.

I love the lifestyle we get to lead as homeschoolers. The relaxed way the kids get to approach life and their relationship with one another and the joy they can take in exploring their world.

I don't like having to prove that they are learning and the second guessing that comes with all of that. There's a lot of faith involved in raising children, multiply that by 10 when you homeschool.

I know I need to spend more time in prayer....

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tree Day!

It was time! Time to get a tree. I was feeling so out of the Christmas spirit. I could have been my heavy heart (see last post) or just my feeling of being overwhelmed by all I have to do but whatever the reason, I needed a boost in the Christmas directions.

We headed out, in the dark (it gets dark so early here) to cut our own. I'd love to pretend we hiked deep into the snow filled woods to find our perfect tree but as someone who has actually done this as a child, it's highly overrated! We went to a tree farm about 5 mins from our house. Somewhat less romantic but way more practical.

Here is my troupe trying to decide what tree is the most desirable. Notice the flashlight in Hubby's hand. He's always thinking.
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I'm pretty sure the whole trip was all about this for son #1...
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How about this one mom??? Too small? Really? Cuz it seems just right to me!
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After tramping around in the pitch black, trying not to trip on the stumps of already cut trees....
WE FOUND IT!!! YAY! Gather everyone for a picture!
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And yes, we do everything is a group. We are quite the sight everywhere we go!

And then it was down to business...the cutting involved a lot of laying on the ground and hunching over with a flashlight.
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Mission complete! Back to our house for chili. And wine, don't forget that.
Christmas is officially ON!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

This is the one I've been wondering how to write....

It's been a month, a whole month and I've been wondering how and if to write this but I feel I need to honor Callum's short life with a post.

Behind the fun posts about dogs, kids, coffee and shopping is a deep sadness. A grief that is not my own but I feel it all the same. C. who should today be sending out emails of all the crazy sleepless nights and milky sheets that come with the celebration of a new baby is sending instead pictures of her beautiful stillborn son. I should be reading of her labor and thinking back to my own. I want this to be the news I'm getting. I want to go back and make this month all a bad dream for her. Instead we are supporting her in her grief and lose and celebration of a life that ended before it really started. All her hopes and dreams for Callum will never be realized in this life because on October 31st she got the news that every pregnant mother secretly dreads. Her unborn son, the one she agonized over having, the one she aches to hold, had no heartbeat. He was delivered on November 1st. You can read her story in her own words here. Please do. C. is and amazing writer and Callum was so loved and wanted.

I believe that God holds Callum in His arms. That His heart aches as well for C. and her husband and children. I pray they can feel His peace.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

yummy dinner. time with hubby. wonderful!

Well what a nice evening. Isn't it interesting that the planned events, birthdays, anniversary's, Valentine's Day (I hate V -day but that rant is for another time!) are some times forced and stilted? They're always nice enough but there's so much riding on them. Too many expectations and sometimes the timing is off.

My mom and dad are still in town after watching my kidlets for my girls weekend and they told Kev and I to have an evening out. It was so great! We went for the best dinner ever and had a wonderful chat. I forget sometimes why we fell in love. He's wonderful! So smart and fun. I can't imagine my life without him by my side! Love ya babe! I love that we can talk about nothing, our business, our kids and years into our future all in the same hour. We have so many fun years ahead of us.

We went to The Lamplighters in Fort Langley. My bil and sil told us how amazing it was and we'd tried unsuccessfully to get a table a couple of other times. It seems Tuesday evening on a cold dark rainy night is exactly the time to get a very popular restaurant all to yourself.
We had a lovely bottle of wine and an amazing meal! I had the seared Tuna and Kev had "the best steak of his life!" - YUMMY!

At the same time as we were out dining, boy number one went to his first ever formal Christmas banquet. We dropped him off and watched him go in. He's like me in so many ways but I see his confidence emerging and it that he's nothing at all like his mom. I'm so glad! His good friend couldn't make it so he went alone. He doesn't really know anyone else there very well AND he still had a great time! YAY Levi!

As we arrived our neighbor drove up to drop off his daughter. She's only a year older and is many feet taller but looks 18 while our son looks 10. I remember the days of towering over all the boys. I tell Levi just to give it time but I'm not sure he believes me.

Well, I'd best sign off. I finally get to see the end of The Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest. We went to the cheap theater in Vernon but they had some weird alarm go off just before the end. VERY strange that!

Monday, December 3, 2007

So good to be home....

It was a fun, crazy weekend away. We shopped like mad women and ate almost nothing and drove through a snow storm but we made it! The wallets are many many dollars lighter and hopefully the kids will love their Christmas presents.

It was funny (as in funny interesting) to watch us on this trip. Two of us were on a mission. We had lists in our head, things to buy, people to cloth and stockings to fill, while two of us were on a girls weekend away, filled with trying random things on, coffee breaks, having their make-up done and leisurely shopping for cool stuff. We would laugh amongst ourselves about this when we met up in food fairs or accidentally in random stores.

Can you guess which category I fell into? I'll give you a hint, I stood for over and hour in Build-a-Bear.

One thing none of us did much of was...enjoy our food. The food was terrible! I'm not much of a foody and mostly it just needs to keep me going but...woah there are some BAD places to eat in Arlington, WA. We had some great chocolate though which (almost) made up for it.

Before last year, I had never taken a trip away with friends. I think it's a wonderful refreshing thing for moms to do. I feel ready to tackle what the rest of the month has to offer.

When I came home and started to read some of my close friend's blogs I realized how trite and sort of flaky my little notes are so, consider this your cookie break for the day. In-between reading of the sorrow and pain and deep considerations going on in other women's brains come to my little place and have a coffee. I am thinking those things, I'm just not sure how to share them in this format.

I also realized, when I got home, that I'd hardly taken time to think, or to pray. I'm not completely done my Christmas shopping but I hope I'm almost there so that I can take the rest of the month to treasure my family and do the things that really matter:) Enjoy the snow! We got some more here and it's lovely.