Saturday, December 31, 2011

And One More Christmas

 One more Christmas. I believe we drug out our Christmas celebration as long as we could! We took the long way home from Jeremy's parents house and went to Pennsylvania for Freed Christmas. During the slightly more than 3 hour drive I was very much wondering if the extra effort for this trip was worth it. Of course, it was.

Jeremy's Grandpa now resides in a nursing home. We had a nice room to hold our celebration. We had our meal and then it is the tradition for Pop-pop to read the Christmas story and speak briefly. This year he started reading and then stopped and said that he would no longer be able to read--someone else would need to do the reading next year. It was a heart wrenching moment to watch the patriarch of the family "pass the baton." Karen stepped in and finished reading the passage from Matthew through tears. I think even the children could sense it was a holy moment. All 3 of my children were appropriately quiet and still. We sang some songs and that helped to lighten the mood.

 On Darryl's lap in one of Collin and Josiah's favorite places to be.  Collin and Josiah played the whole evening. Josiah is a very friendly little guy. There were hugs and tears when it was time to say good bye.

I thought and thought about what I could give Pop-pop for Christmas. I finally had the idea to make a picture calendar for him.
 This is another family situation where Aliza does not have a natural peer group. The other girls are quite a bit older and the children closest to her are Collin and Josiah. She received some My Little Ponies and she sat at the table and made up songs while she played with them. She was quite entertaining!

Anna was utterly exhausted, but she still wandered around the room making friends with most everyone. She kept wandering back to Uncle Buzz. She would reach up to get up on his lap, he would give her a bite of chocolate cake and then she would slide back down. One other moment that touched me: I borrowed a portable high chair for Anna to use. It did not have straps to attach it to the chair that I could find. I didn't realize that it wasn't attached to the chair until Anna leaned forward and just about fell on her face. Buzz saw what happened. I was looking around for straps and he just stood up, took off his belt, wrapped it around the the seat, buckled it and that secured Anna. 

We spent the night with Jeremy's aunt and uncle and drove home today. We got home at 4:30....unloaded the car, unpacked the suitcases, ate supper and then left for church at 5:40. I am incredibly tired. Is it really New Year's Eve? I think I'm skipping that this year!!! Just wait until you see what we are up to tomorrow!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

More Christmas Fun

 There was more Christmas fun waiting for us in West Virginia. We got a late start to our trip so the children didn't have to wait long to open presents!

Josiah couldn't tear his eyes off of the pictures of other tractors on the back of the box.

This LaLaLoopsy coloring book provided hours of entertainment.

Another year of scrapbooking ahead!
We've had a lot of fun visiting with Grandma and Grandpa and Joel and Brandi. This trip is longer than our usual weekend trip. Josiah and Aliza helped Grandpa set up a train. I'm sortof missing Anna because there are so many other people to hold her! She walks around the house and goes from lap to lap. Everyone is off schedule and out of routine--I think that must be part of the fun of going to Grandma's house. There is lots of good food to eat and I've taken just about every spare minute to read. I've gotten pretty caught up in Steve Job's biography.

One more Christmas tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Experiences are Priceless

 Tonight Aliza and I went shopping. The purpose of the trip was for her to buy Christmas presents for her family and Grandparents. This is the first year that she bought presents. We went to Dollar General so, for the most part, she could pick out anything. I carried the basket and she led the way. Thankfully, we had made a list or she would have picked something out for every aunt, uncle and cousin she has! She tried to anyway.

She started at the top of her list...
Anna: grabbed the first stuffed animal she saw and called it perfect
Josiah: another easy one...found the toy aisle and picked a tractor
(looked at all the things she liked for herself)
Mommy: wandered in to a Christmas aisle and got a most satisfied expression on her face and picked out a tall Christmas mug
Daddy: walked through the whole store trying to think of what Daddy would like. I said, well, Daddy likes penguins. We walked back to the Christmas aisle and she picked a pad of penguin note paper.
Grandma: she thought long and hard about what Grandma likes and we walked the store again (stopping a the toy aisle every time to look at things that caught her eye) she ended up in a hair care aisle and picked out some sparkly hair clips for Grandma. (Grandma does, in fact, wear clips in her hair!)
Grandad: immediately--Grandad likes fishing! There was not a thing fishing related in the store. We were back in an aisle with some small toys. I said, Grandad likes bowling too and pointed out a finger bowling game. She thought that was just right.
Great Gramma: "Great Gramma is pretty old. She needs something quiet and happy to do. Like a book!" We went to the books which were too high for her to see. I read some titles and then read one that struck Aliza as perfect "365 Ways to Be Happy"
Great Grandad: "He is old too." We talked about how Great Grandad likes to work in his shop. Aliza said, "He needs something warm and relaxing." We walked the store. (Stopped at the toys again.) I guided her to the bedding area and she spotted the fleece blankets. She immediately chose a bright blue one with snowflakes because it was Christmassy.
Grandma Karen: her first thought was Grandma is an expert knitter. (good thinking, girl!) But before another thought entered she spotted a sticker display that she couldn't pass up. Princess and fish stickers for Grandma.
Grandpa: We walked around for a while thinking about Grandpa. Then...I could get him a toothbrush. That's what we did! A 4 pack so he has a different one for every day.

Then we had to double check the list. That meant laying everything out on the floor in list order. There was no second guessing. She was quite satisfied and spent $20.85.

I was proud of her. We got a snack at TCBY, had some Mommy/Daughter talk time and headed home.

A few days later I took Josiah to do his shopping at the Dollar Tree. I was not at all sure about taking a 3 year old shopping for gifts. He saw a sippy cup right away that he picked up for Anna. Then he saw a few things that he absolutely had to have for himself. I let him pick one. After that when something really caught his eye we figured out who he could give it to. One memorable moment was when he saw a bow and ribbon set that he absolutely had to have to wrap presents. He picked a porcelain piece for each of his Grandma's. Gum for his Daddy. Josiah has had a recent obsession with wanting his Daddy to bring gum home for him so it was quite exciting for him to give gum, in fact, that was the only secret that he did not keep!

When it came time to wrap gifts Josiah remembered who each gift was for. He did not buy gifts for Grandad, Great Gramma or Great Grandad so he picked one of his toys for each of them.

These are some of my most cherished Christmas memories this year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Big Day

 All of the baking, shopping, wrapping, waiting, and anticipation all culminated in one brief morning. Honestly, by the time the presents were opened and brunch was served and cleaned up I was utterly exhausted. I had to let everything settle in my mind before I could think about what I really wanted to remember from our Christmas celebration.

My most cherished memory of Christmas this year is the giving...specifically Aliza and Josiah giving. Aliza volunteered to GIVE her gifts first. We took turns opening her gifts. It was fun to watch her be excited about Josiah opening the tractor she gave him.

 Then Josiah GAVE his gifts. He picked out this fluffy bird pen for Aliza and a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book. She was happy. (Now Josiah is 3 and he was pretty anxious to get to open his big present!)

 Josiah had a very green Christmas. His shirt says A Little Dirt Never Hurt with a John Deere tractor on it. He got a great big loader that he promptly took to the sandbox.
 Aliza wanted an American Girl doll. I was quite thankful when a friend told me about Target's version of the American Girl doll that literally sells for a quarter of the price. Aliza was pleased. Today Aliza and her doll, Jenny, were superheroes saving the world and, later, I heard her introducing her doll to every room of the house.

 Anna could not have cared less about opening presents! This is a fun little toy for her. It can be stationary and she can bounce on the ball or sit and move it with her legs. And those shoes she has on? Those are Skidders from One Step Ahead. They are sock material on top and go on easy like socks. The bottoms are rubber with rubber treads so there is no slipping. Very awesome. Thanks Mom!
 Two more Christmas celebrations to go....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Starting Christmas Week

 My heart is already full with so many memories and treasured moments. We celebrated Christmas with my family yesterday. Josiah got to take a trip to the John Deere store with Grandad to pick out his Christmas present the day before. Thankfully it worked out that he got to pick 2 tractors. He could bring one home and there was still one for Grandma to wrap up.

When we got to Grandma and Grandad's house Josiah could hardly wait to open his tractors. We sang a few songs while we waited for everyone to gather. Josiah requested Jesus Loves Me. He sang every single word at the top of his lungs.
 As has been the Sheats tradition for the last 6 years, there was a new baby for Christmas! Lydia sat up in her new Bumbo chair and she discovered her feet while the adults exchanged gifts.
 Aliza and Josiah gave gifts for the first time this year. What a special memory to watch them give gifts to their grandparents.

 I hosted the traditional Christmas Eve dinner tonight. Most of the family was out of town. Jeff and Janell and the girls got to stop in on their way to Jeff's family. We missed everyone who wasn't there, but we had a super special time together. Laura and Aliza did a craft. Josiah and Grandad played with tractors on the floor...and on the table when Grandad was ready for coffee. Anna was just happy.

 Jeremy had shown me a Christmas carol flash mob video right before everyone came and we decided to share it after dinner. The video gives me chills and it set the mood to rewatch the Hallelujah Chorus flash mob video and some other videos. Which then led to singing Christmas carols...which led to singing Rooftops (while Aliza sat on my lap and sang every word with me)...which led to more videos and singing. It was just lovely. I didn't want it to end.

It is hard to put into words special family times. I hope these inadequate words help me remember the happiness, contentment and love that I feel tonight.

Now it is time to put some presents under the tree! My heart may burst yet!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A New Scrapper

 I was waiting for just the right time to let Aliza do her first scrapbook layout. The opportunity came yesterday. Josiah had an outing to the John Deere store with Grandad and Anna was sleeping. Aliza had pictures of her with The Nutcracker cast waiting on my desk for a long time. I bought a scrapbook for her that both her and I can put layouts in.

Aliza was beyond excited. She laid out the pictures. I helped her adhere them. Then she dictated the journaling for me to write. She stuck with every step and did a great job. Then came the stickers. She saw where I keep my stash of stickers and was absolutely enthralled.

The fun began. I gave her free reign of her project and she worked for just about an hour and a half. She created imaginary stories (that she told out loud) about the characters on her layout. There are stickers all over the pictures. She got out camping stickers because they went camping and pizza stickers because they ate pizza etc. etc. Then she got out pens and drew on the pictures. And then she got out more stickers. Obviously she won't be able to do too many layouts because I won't be able to support her habit! =)
I told her that her layout looked amazing. She beamed with pride.

My sister asked me if it is gratifying that my daughter shows interest in my hobby. I hadn't really thought about it. It does feel good that she wants to do something that I enjoy. Maybe that she wants to be like me. It would be fun if scrapbooking is something we can do together. Who knows. Right now it is just work to keep her on the paper and satisfied with the stickers available to her! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Little Baker

 Josiah was with me for every baking endeavor this month. He was quite the helper! Sometimes he took over and did it by himself--and I cleaned up the mess afterwards!

Cut out sugar cookies

Kneading pizza dough. Then he rolls it out.

Pretzel treats

Gingersnaps. This is one that he took over. He scooped the dough, rolled it in a ball, dipped it in sugar and put it on the tray.

Peanut blossoms. Another one to roll in balls and dip in sugar!

Crushing Oreos for Cool Mint Oreo Cookie Balls. 

It's been (mostly) fun to have such a dedicated helper!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Graduating Sisters

I had the privilege of attending Linda's college graduation today. She received a Bachelor's degree in Theater. It was the usual long and boring ceremony, but it didn't take much for me to get caught up in the excitement of a celebration. Linda had a super busy semester. She was the stage manager for the fall production. She had rehearsal 7 nights a week for many weeks. She also became engaged during the semester. I know she is ready for some rest and relaxation and she deserves it!

I must say her dress was gorgeous.

And Phil graduates tomorrow.

Sisters. =)
 Janell also graduated today with a Master's degree in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution. Janell and Jeff made an agreement not to walk for their Master's degree and she wasn't completely sure was going to graduate this semester. So she attended Linda's graduation that was also her own! I got to sit with her and Lydia.

I really have no idea how Janell completed this program except that she is an exceptionally talented writer and has a unique giftedness in conflict resolution. Just after she started the program she found out she was expecting Renee. Then just before this semester started she had Lydia and throughout the semester she had the stress of Lydia's health concerns. I think Janell enjoyed just relaxing during the ceremony while cuddling her healthy baby!

Janell's name was in the program!

This is just about the moment when Janell would have walked. I made pretzel treats for her to enjoy during her graduation.

Dad surprised her with flowers.

 This is a professor who has always thought a lot of Janell. He was walking out in the recessional and I called his name and pointed to Janell. He cut out of line and came up to congratulate Janell.

Janell holds the first Master's degree in the Sheats family.

I'm sure proud of Linda and Janell today! We had a fun celebration together this evening.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Surprises in My Camera

 When it has been a few days between camera dumps, there are always some surprises. Our week has been pretty quiet as far as outings, but there is no lack of activity here on the home front.
Aliza learned about elephants the other day. While we were doing this project I realized that I will be "doing" kindergarten again in 2 years. That made my heart beat a little harder.

When Anna has her little blanket she is oh so snuggly. She only sucks her fingers when she has her blanket...which reminds me that I really need a picture of that!

Apparently something needed repair behind the tree!?

And then the table needed repair. Good thing I have a live-in builder!