Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas Recap 3

We get to extend our Christmas celebrations by going to Jeremy's parents house for a few days. I had a cold so I pretty much was on the couch as much as possible!

Opening Christmas gifts includes video calls with the Texas Heslop family. They watch while we open the gifts from them.

I introduced the girls to modge podge. We sat around the table doing our crafts and being together. It was fun. The guys watched a movie.
Jeremy and Josiah spent evenings (nights?) at Joel's house streaming games. Let's just say Josiah took a very long nap on the way home.
This one just makes me smile.
When anyone asked Anna before Christmas what she was most excited about she said, "Family!" She's right. That really is the best part of Christmas traditions.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmas Recap 2

This year I had every ready for Christmas morning before Christmas Eve so I was very relaxed going into the day. My children are early risers and Jeremy prefers to be an even later riser so I had time to mix up dough for cinnamon squares before the excitement of opening presents went off the charts. I was very unsure of how this dough was going to do. I was very sticky and didn't rise as much as I thought it should. When I rolled it out, though, it looked pretty good and it tasted even better.

Josiah gave Aliza a card that said, "Huggie Party!" It was exactly what she asked for and she loved her hugs. Josiah told her it has unlimited use and doesn't expire. So sweet.
Uncle Joel confirmed from past photos that Anna has made this face since she was 2. I really should find one from every year and line them up. Anna was the one who received the present that she didn't think we would buy and she cried.
I got a puzzle from Floret Flower farms and I guess I was in the mood for a puzzle. We put it together in one evening. Aliza and Anna stuck with it for quite a while. My Dad and Grandad came for supper and Dad put some pieces in too.
I was exhausted by the end of the day! Maybe it was because I was starting to get a cold. That night I was thinking that I'm glad I have a whole year to forget how exhausting Christmas is so that I'm ready to do it again! So many emotions, excitement, traditions and food preparation!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas Recap 1

My family was thankful to be together. The children enjoy being together and the adults do too. There was that moment when Jeff was asleep with headphones in...ha. But if someone really dreads being with the family, they do a good job covering it up! I instigated a picture of the siblings with Mom and Dad.
And a picture of all the grandchildren. For whatever reasons, I have looked at these pictures a lot over the past few days.

Grandad was with us. Grandad is 91 so every Christmas he's with us is an extra special gift.

It's always fun to see how gingerbread men decorating grows with each child. Isaiah had buttons and eyes on his men this year.
Aliza brought me this gingerbread man and I did a double take! We've been watching holiday baking shows and she put some techniques into practice!
Anna was beyond excited to get hair chalk in the cousin gift exchange. It washes out really easily which is perfect for her because she loves to try out different colors and patterns multiple times a day. Maybe she will be a hair stylist when she grows up. ;)

Saturday, December 22, 2018

This Day

I'd like this break in "real life" to last for another 3 weeks! It has just been so lovely for all of us to do things that we enjoy doing. Today, for example. 

Anna was really loud this morning so Jeremy decided not to sleep in (that does not count for the "things we enjoy doing") and went to Caleb's soccer game with the kids and me. Everything is just better when Daddy comes along. 

When we got home, I finished wrapping gifts.
And then I read (a few chapter of) the new Julie Klassen book that I've been looking forward to. I also took a nap because that is always part of the perfect day!

Then I heard FedEx drive in and knew it was what Jeremy has been waiting for. A new gaming monitor! He's a happy man!
 So he played for a little while and I scrapbooked!
 Meanwhile, Isaiah and Anna were making space ships out of boxes.

 Anna was super proud of her ramp door. She spent some time watching youtube videos laying in her space ship.
It was soup for supper and Aliza and I watched the Holiday Baking Championship---with just the Christmas tree lights on. Baking shows are our favorite on winter evenings.

(As I'm writing Josiah is getting his chance to try out the big screen for gaming. It might not be how I imagined it, but playing on this screen is going to be a big FUN memory for him. Kinda liked shooting that big buck and catching that huge fish. It makes him feel all grown up like his Daddy.)

Sunday, December 16, 2018


How is time moving so quickly? I'm trying to enjoy the season, but what I really want is for everything to stop so I can sit on the couch and just savor some time.

The girls had their winter choir concert. They both did a great job. Anna was super confident standing next to one of her friends. Aliza's smile lit up the whole stage.
This picture was posted on facebook by the choir director and I asked Aliza about it. Before the concert both choirs stood in a circle, holding hands. They went around the circle and each offered a one word prayer for the evening. I asked Aliza what her prayer was. She said, "Enjoy. Because she just wanted to enjoy the concert and evening." I loved that!
One of the ladies in my Bible study group designed and prepared this Advent Tree for us to assemble together. The planning and work that she did so that we could all have something special to use each year really touched me. I love how it turned out. Isaiah is especially excited about it because 1) he can practice counting and 2) the Scripture for day 1 is from the book of Isaiah so his name is on the card.
I saw in a magazine the idea of making a hot chocolate bar and I thought it was just the greatest idea. I kept going back and forth over whether I was up for having friends over (refer to that idea of wanting to sit on the couch and savor time). I floated the idea to a friend and she thought it was a great idea so we picked a time and they came over last night. It was fun! I had hot chocolate, whipped cream, peanut butter chips, candy canes, caramel sprinkles, chocolate syrup and marshmallows. Then everyone could add whatever of those toppings they wanted to their hot chocolate. So easy and festive!
Our extra activities are winding down--only one dance class left. Just a few more days of school. We will all enjoy the break!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Dec. 1

Almost a week later and I think I've recovered enough to write about our tree decorating evening. Here is my Instagram worthy picture. The only reason it is idyllic is because no people are in the picture. I've described the evening as "chaotic misery."
We kicked off the evening's festivities with our first advent story. First off, Isaiah could not understand why he could not open every single door and completely decorate our "Jesse Tree" (see Unwrapping the Gift by Ann Voskamp). He begged and pleaded. I tried to explain. Aliza tried to explain. No luck. We moved on to the reading and it was completely unholy. Kids talking, complaining, moving around. There were parent's voices who were equally unholy telling to BE QUIET, SIT DOWN and HOLD STILL.
I was done before we even started on the tree. I washed dishes while Jeremy put the tree together and put on the lights. The lights seemed a little dull when I got to the living room and I asked Jeremy if we should put some more on. He told me in no uncertain terms that we had enough. I'm pretty sure he put headphones on at that point.

Four children were grabbing for decorations. Josiah was over tired from getting up early to go fishing and was crying by that point. Anna was super possessive over what decorations she wanted to put on the tree. She was accused of hoarding all the pretty decorations. Aliza was equal parts helpful and provoking. Isaiah was still fussing over the advent tree situation. And that pretty much continued with varying degrees of misery for the duration of tree decorating.
The last decoration was finally hung and I pushed the tree into the corner and turned off the ceiling light to admire it. The effect was less than satisfying. The lights had clearly dimmed from the time they were first plugged in. Jeremy did some research on LED lights and found that they dim as they burn out. Lucky for us my Dad had passed on a box of lights to me so we had plenty of replacement lights.

The next morning I UNdecorated the tree.
Jeremy hung new lights and I redecorated the tree. No one was very interested in decorating the tree the second time which was really alright with me.

This week I have allowed Isaiah to open the doors and look at the advent decorations without getting them out. That has satisfied him. He is starting to catch on to how this works. Last night Josiah asked to do our bedtime reading by the light of the tree. We did and it was fun and peaceful for the most part.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Joy Dare::November

5911. A warm morning for running
5912. An afternoon visit
5913. So excited to see Texas cousins
5914. Driving protection in the rain
5915. Taking over Joel & Brandi's house for a relaxing morning
5916. All those PA market desserts
5917. All of Jeremy's aunts and uncles together (I claim them as mine too!)
5918. Memorable coffee time with Sarah
5919. Hours of visiting
5920. How all 4 children children handled themselves all weekend
5921. Anna waited until the last night to get sick
5922. Laughing so hard over the cow that wandered the yard
5923. Anna slept all night and no one else woke up sick
5924. Colorful leaves
5925. Morning light
5926. Meghan to the rescue--pedialite, gatorade, popsicles--and doughnut holes
5927. Anna finally feeling better this evening (3 days later)
5928. Back in routine
5929. Window shopping, chai, conversation
5930. Potential new clients
5931. Anna's confidence in choir
5932. Aliza getting some friend time
5933. (Window) shopping dates with my girls
5934. Curtains
5935. Family evening
5936. Baptisms
5937. Brothers talking together
5938. When everyone is outside, I get the house tidied
5939. Praying friend
5940. They fight and then are friends
5941. When the show is not predictable
5942. Birthday preparations
5943. Fall diffuser blends
5944. Feels like extra time
5945. Marigold seeds harvested, dahlias dug
5946. Anna coaching Aliza
5947. Leading singing
5948. Birthday hugs for Great Grandad
5949. Studying and learning
5950. Nice enough for the park during choir
5951. Grandad is 91! Birthday shoo fly pie
5952. Birthday party swimming
5953. Josiah so excited to go fishing
5954. Doing life with Janell
5955. Magi Concert with Aliza
5956. Laughing with Aliza
5957. Quiet day
5958. My cheesecake looks good from the top!
5959. Family time
5960. An arm of stickers from the dentist
5961. The sense to say no
5962. Taking care of Sean for the afternoon
5963. Feeling like a holiday is coming
5964. Dancing with the Stars Finale
5965. Anna loving her birthday
5966. Thanksgiving table
5967. Really enjoyable afternoon of conversation
5968. Finding some Christmas deals
5969. Panera lunch with Matt and Chrissy
5970. Aliza loves hugs
5971. Fun Christmas shopping with Karen and Aliza
5972. Good family time
5973. Watched a movie with the girls
5974. No one really wanted the weekend to end
5975. Relaxed trip home--3 kids slept
5976. Pretty nice temperature for the parade
5977. Pocketfuls and hands full of candy
5978. Giving Great Grandad candy canes
5979. Sorting toys
5980. Jeremy was home to start supper
5981. Being in Isaiah's class this evening
5982. Teaching life lessons
5983. Forgiving and asking to be forgiven
5984. Isaiah sitting on my lap during the Nutcracker Ballet
5985. A really thoughtful phone call
5986. Lunch out with the children
5987. Seeing Linda
5988. "Onesie" jammies on Isaiah

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Christmas Parade

Our plans shifted a couple times during the day, but, in the end, Josiah did not want to go to the parade at all and Anna was crying because she wanted to go so badly. I took Aliza, Anna and Isaiah to the Christmas Parade and Jeremy stayed home with Josiah.

This is not something I was particularly excited about doing as a solo parent. I went for it anyway hoping the good memories would outweigh the bad! They did!

We didn't arrive very early so we parked and walked very quickly past all of the lined up floats to sit at the beginning of the parade route. I don't know how many blocks it was, but it was quite a walk.

The temperature was pretty comfortable for the first hour. It got a bit windy towards the end and then it was chilly.
We had the best "parade neighbor" as the kids called her. She encouraged them to step forward to be seen for candy. (She liked getting candy too!) There was SO much candy! It was fun to see a couple people that we knew including a couple friends of the girls and Uncle Jeff with his school's band.
By the end my pockets were full and both of Isaiah's hands were full of just HIS candy. He loved it. People were walking beside the floats handing out candy. I found out later the city has an ordinance against throwing candy so people figured out that they could still pass out candy by hand.

Then we had to walk allll the way back to the car! Isaiah was such a trooper. He was cold, but kept right on walking. And just when I was telling him how proud I was of him, he tripped and fell flat on his stomach. His hand had a little cut that was bleeding which I know hurt because his hands were freezing. There were tears and I carried him the rest of the way.

That was quickly forgotten when we got to Grandma and Grandad's house to warm up. And when I emptied my pockets and showed him how much candy he got. Each of them took a candy cane over to Great Grandad and then we headed home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Celebrating Anna...and Thanksgiving

Anna's birthday celebrations lasted all week. Her "party" was Saturday, Wednesday we had her birthday supper and dessert/candles at our house, Thursday we gave her a present from us in the morning...
...then after Thanksgiving dinner she had her birthday with my family...
...Friday we went to WV and there was ice cream cake and presents from Grandma and Grandpa...
...and Saturday Anna got to go on her Target birthday shopping trip with Aunt Brandi. Anna adores this tradition. Saturday night Anna did not want to go to bed and had a complete meltdown. Her birthday was officially over. (Finally. lol.)
We had really good time with both of our families. With my family living close together we often see each other in passing, but having a day set aside to visit and be together is really nice.

The weekend in WV was relaxing. No big events or expectations. For the kids, the memory will be playing Fortnite with Uncle Joel for the first time. It was actually their first time playing Fortnite. Joel has a special bond with his nieces and nephews--all of them.