Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Memories

This is us on Christmas Day. I have taken a picture of our family in front of my parents' Christmas tree every year since Eric and I were married. It is fun to compare the pictures from each year and watch our family grow. I know this isn't the best picture of our family- my eyes are half closed and Suzie is looking away. But I promised my kids-including my biggest kid, i.e. my husband- that if they would take one picture in front of Grandma's tree then I wouldn't bug them about pictures the rest of the evening. So this is that one picture and consider myself lucky. Here are the top ten memories of the Christmas Eve and Day- in no particular order- that I don't want to forget.
10. Eating all kinds of yummy food- from breakfast at Village Inn to celebrate Matt's birthday on Christmas Eve to wontons and shrimp on Christmas Eve to Christmas Morning quiches.
9. Eric betting Curtis $5 to eat said shrimp and watching him heave in disgust.
8. Natalie and J.J. getting engaged- "The duck flies between 4 and 5pm."
7. Singing Christmas carols at Uncle David's and quietly waiting for Santa to deliver presents. When Santa did finally come my nephew Taylor observed that, "Santa walks like an old grandma." Hmmm- where was Grandma Shauna during Santa's visit?!?
6. Finn waking up at 5 am on Christmas morning but lying in bed and staring at the ceiling until 7 am because he didn't think he should get out of bed until then. Mind you he did this on his own accord. We didn't tell him he needed to do this!
5. Suzie biting into the Christmas stocking oranges and eating right down to the center without batting an eye. As Eric said, "Now we know how little baby monkeys eat oranges."
4. Eric getting a Diamond record on Karaoke revolution with "Dust in the Wind."
3. Staying in our pjs until 3:30pm.
2. Katie dancing in front of the T.V. for 2 hours with her new "Bella Dancerella" DVD, dance mat and wand. Santa definitely got that one right.
1. Watching "Hairspray" with Annie. This was her first time seeing it and she was enthralled. Another high-five for Santa if I do say so myself!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ski Bunnies

This week my sister Natalie invited me to go skiing with her. It was incredibly uncharacteristic of me to go given it is the week before Christmas and the fact that I haven't been skiing for 11 years. I took skiing lessons when I was in college and actually got quite good, especially since I was raised in the South where they shut down the city if it snowed a quarter of an inch. But the last time I went downhill skiing was on my honeymoon in Grand Targhee. Eric and I rented skis and started down the mountain. In true Eric form, he zoomed off ahead of me. As I started down I noticed that it seemed an awful lot harder than when I had skiied in college. Even going down the hills I had to work hard to get my skis to move. When I finally reached the bottom of the hill I was red-faced and out of breath. Eric wondered what in the world had taken me so long and why I was so out of shape. After telling him how hard it was for me he concluded that there wasn't any wax on my skiis. So we took them back to the rental shop and after seeing my crimson face they immediately exchanged them. But I digress- that was 11 years ago and even with nicely waxed skis I was very nervous to try skiing again. I kept hoping it was like riding a bike- once you learned it would come back to you no matter how long it has been since the last time. My sister Natalie is better at about everything than me and skiing is no different. When I first got on the mountain I felt like a baby deer learning to walk- all wobbly and unsure of myself. I stuck with the green runs although I really wanted to try "Bassackwards" just for the name alone. I mean how cool is it to say, "Yeah, I skiied Bassackwards today." But that was a bit outside my comfort zone and skill level for the day. I did master "Big Emma" though. It is amazing how familiarity breeds confidence. The first time I went down I fell about 10 times. The second time I only fell once. The third time I felt like a freakin' rockstar and the fourth time -"Hey, is there Olympic skiing for women over 30!" Needless to say it was just the diversion from my life that I needed. So thank you to Nanny for a fun time and for being patient with me and thank you to my mom for watching my "Oh, yeahs."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Charlie Brown Gingerbread House

I'm sure you've heard of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, well my kids created the Charlie Brown gingerbread house at our neighborhood Christmas Party this weekend. While other kids were carefully placing candies in evenly spaced rows of red and green, my kids were throwing mints at the sides of the house to see if they would stick. While other kids were creating sidewalks with licorice rope, my kids were whipping their licorice ropes around their heads and then dangling them from the roof of the gingerbread house- which I can only assume was their "interpretation" of icicles. To say the least it is modge-podge of candy and icing, but they had a good time and that is what counts. I'm not the kind of mom who tries to micro-manage their fun. I know you are dying to know what the finished product looks like. Here it is

And here are the little artists making their masterpiece. After looking at this picture I have come to 3 conclusions-1) I am an expert at picking just the right moment to take a picture. 2) They don't look like they are having that much fun and 3) I don't micro-manage Annie's clothing choices. Doesn't mint green and orange say "Merry Christmas."

Also I have to include a funny conversation I had with Annie today.

Annie:"How do you spell was?"

Mom: "W-a-s"

Annie: "It's not w-u-s."

Mom: "No, its w-a-s."

Annie: "Oooohhh! Well that explains a lot."

Glad I could help!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Tag

I'm a sucker for these things. . .

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, but after recently unpacking all my wrapping paraphenalia- I never need to buy another gift bag.

2. Real or artificial tree? Artificial. Going out and getting a real one sounds a lot like having children- it sounds great but it honestly is a lot of work.

3. When do you put up the Christmas tree? Well my children wanted to put it up right after all of our Thanksgiving guests left the house, but their Ebenezer Scrooge mother made them wait until the next day.

4. When do you take the tree down? Usually during the first week of January

5. Do you like eggnog?- Does it have syrup in it? Then YES!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?- Hands down my red moped. Actually I had to share it with my sister, but it was extremely uncharacteristic for my parents to have gotten this for us.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, 3- all given to me or made by my mother.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad, its not that he has everything- its just that he wants for nothing!

9. Easiest person to buy for? My kids- its not that they have everything- they just want for everything!

10. Mail or email Christmas- Mail- come on now- email cards for Christmas are lame- no offense Quinton- (Only my family will get that comment!)

11.Favorite Christmas Movie- as has already been quoted above- "Elf", but "A Christmas Story" is a very close contender.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I start thinking about it in September, but I don't do any hardcore shopping until after Thanksgiving.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?- Uh.. yeah! Although you are not privy to the details like who and what!

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas time? Thing, thing! How about things- plural, my man- plural! I like it all- especially those little small appetizers like stuffed mushrooms or shrimp cocktail that you can eat without feeling like you are eating a lot.

15. Clear or colored lights on the tree?- I'm a purist- clear!

16. Favorite Christmas Song?- Handel's "Messiah"- I conduct a mean symphony- just ask my sister.

17. Travel or stay at home? Everyone we love the most lives within 15 miles- so we like to travel- just kidding- stay at home of course!

18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes

19. Angel or star on the top of the tree?- Actually star hanging right above it.

20.Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? We open one on Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas morning

21.Most annoying thing about this time of year? Listening to Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand sing Christmas songs. They're both Jewish and its not about faith- its just about the all-mighty dollar!

22. What I love most about Christmas? It is hard to put that all into one sentence. I love it all, but mostly the spirit of giving and love and family- the spirit charity- the spirit of Christ.

23. Does Santa wrap or leave gifts unwrapped for the kids? All wrapped of course. How can Santa work herself into her Christmas morning headahce haze if all the gifts aren't wrapped?!?

24.What do you find in your stocking each year? An orange, those tubes of candy like m&m's, socks, batteries and usually a small toy

25. What is your tradition on Christmas eve? We usually have dinner with Eric's family with all kinds of yummy food. Then we go to my Aunt and Uncles house and sing Christmas Carols. Then we turn off the lights except for a few candles and quietly wait for Santa to come. He comes in and leaves presents for all the kids. But if you make a noise Santa gets scared and quickly leaves. But he's not heartless and usually comes back to finish the job. Then when he is done it is a free-for-all. There are a lot of great-grandkids now so there is a lot of unwrapping all at once. It is a magical night- my favorite of the year!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Testimony of Vicks Vapor Rub

I'm not sure if anyone else will appreciate this story as much as me and my family, but I just has to get it written down so I won't forget it. I have had several friends tell me about the idea of rubbing Vick's Vapor rub on your kids' feet at night then covering them with socks to help calm a child's cough. Last week Finn came up late at night coughing so hard he was almost to the brink of throwing up. I had a package of chewable cough suppresants- but those supposedly don't work well for kids. He wanted one anyway so as I was giving him one I spied the Vicks and remembered the suggestion. I thought it wouldn't hurt him and who knows- it may work. At the very least he will have soft, fresh-smelling feet in the morning. We did it and he didn't wake up the rest of the night. Now I don't know if it was just the placebo effect or not, either way Finn is a believer. Eric saw him putting it on his feet one night and asked him what he was doing. Finn told him and Eric rolled his eyes and gave me that look-like "You are crazy woman." I get this look a lot. But its okay -its part of our "dance."
Anyway- moving along with the story. On Thursday night Eric and I were at a work dinner and the kids had a babysitter. During the dinner- while the new members of the Appraisal Institute Board were being announced- Eric gets a call on his phone. Its Finn.
Finn: "Uh Dad, Suzie keeps waking herself up because she has a cough. I keep trying to put Vick's Vapor Rub on her feet but she won't let me. What should I do?"
Eric-giving me the "look":"Finn, just put her pajamas back on and put her in bed."
Finn: "But she keeps crying and won't hold still."
Eric: "Its okay. Just put her in bed. She'll fall asleep."
Finn: "Okay."
Eric gets off the phone and says to me, "You're creating a monster." Well at least he is a homeopathic monster!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Odd, but Handsome Man Out

This is our 2007 picture with Santa. I am including this picture with this post because 1) It is cute and 2) It demonstrates my story. Today Finn, my oldest and only boy, asked what color I thought Suzie's hair would be when it finally grows in. I said it could be either red or brown. Finn said, "I hope it is brown." I asked why and he responded, "Because everyone always goes on and on about Annie and Katie's hair being so cute and brown is good too." And he's right. People do always comment on my girl's hair, but I never thought it affected him. I mean he's Eric's son- he's not suppose to care about what people think of him! Finn is an incredibe brother of 3 high-maintenance sisters. This is either preparing him for a high- maintenance wife or he will seek out a calm, low maintenance one. He is such a good boy. Here is another conversation just from today that proves my point. Finn was looking through the ads we get in the mail and found two presents he wanted to get Eric and I for Christmas. He has some allowance money saved, but he realized he needed $3 more to buy them both. So he asked me if he could do any chores around the house for money. I was making dinner so I asked him to take care of Suzie. Now he would have gladly done this anyway without any monetary incentive, but today I indulged him with 50 cents for it. Annie of course always wants to get in on the action and tried to take over watching Suzie so she could earn money too. Finn said she would have to do something else, but she probably better save her money to buy Christmas presents for mom and dad. Then he adds, "And you better look for some coupons too so you can get something nice."
Ok now- let's really look at what he's doing-
a)He's watching the baby for me to earn money to buy a present for ME!
b)He's encouraging Annie to do the same.
c)He's trying to get her save money in the process.
I would call this the trifecta of perfection. Now, I normally would try and take credit for this behavior and for the first two years of his life I tried. Before I had my other children, I thought people who had problems with their kids just didn't teach them the right things- honestly- that's how naive I was! But then I had Annie and like the frog at the end of the story of the Wide-Mouthed Frog I was left saying, "Oh, I see!" (And if you don't know the story of the Wide-Mouthed Frog then you either aren't related to or don't know my mother and you are in for a treat the next time you see me!) But really Finn just came out of the womb that way. And in about 15 to 20 years he's going to make some girl very lucky. But that's just his mother speaking and I'm not biased!:)