T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Gauntlet Part VII - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...

Lyrics from one of my most beloved Christmas songs:

It's not the glow you feel
When snow appears
It's not the Christmas card
You've sent for years
Not the joyful sound
When sleigh bells ring
Or the merry songs
Children sing

The little gift you send
On Christmas day
Will not bring back the friend
You've turned away
So may I suggest, the secret of Christmas
It's not the things you do
At Christmas time but the Christmas things you do
All year through

My greatest 2015 resolution will be to achieve a true spirit of Christmas the whole year through so that come December 24th and 25th I will not feel guilty about taking that for my little family to be with them - not feeling the pressure to be anywhere or do anything. I want to have the option of baking cookies that day should that be our desire. I want to spend as little or as much time on the Nativity story and have time to act out a Nativity play. I want to be able to sit through the entire viewing of Charlie Brown Christmas. I want to be together with my family. I will not feel pressured or patronized for choosing this over other activities because I will have given my time, talents, and gifts throughout the whole year. It is not because I am a Grinch or Scrooge, it is because I want to focus on what I consider to be the true meaning of Christmas and that is the birth of Jesus and what he did for me. And no, I'm not shunning Santa or giving up on him. We enjoy the spirit of St. Nicholas and I am familiar with his story and origin and I think giving generously in secret is a great tradition and one I will always believe in. I don't think it detracts from true Christmas spirit until the emphasis becomes all about Santa visits, Santa gifts, and stressful secular traditions. I believe it is possible to achieve that true Christmas spirit and I am challenging myself now that 2015 will be the year to achieve it.
Below are photos from our Christmas. We did not have time to bake cookies but we did have time to make some reindeer food. That was extent of our baking this year. The kids did enjoy our brief Nativity reading and enactment. Hubby managed to sneak in a quick photo that makes me smile when I see it. Santa did visit. BB is still learning to unwrap gifts. The girls and I all had matching PJs - I love matching PJs - we do this all year but these were gingerbread ones so I could not resist using them for Christmas. T received some refurbished toys from the North Pole - Star Wars toys from the 90's. He is so happy with them. S has so many Barbie things she is not sure what to do. Actually, she put some away for opening at a later time. Hubby and I both received sonic screwdrivers of our favorite Doctors from Doctor Who. We got a good laugh out of that. BB's favorite gift was a silver box that some earrings for me arrived in. The fairy wings she received were also a big hit.. The older kids each gave a treasured item of their own and "wrapped it". It was a special surprise for us. Our little 4 foot tree was adorable and off the ground so our resident toddler would not bother it. The 100 year old angel has survived to see another Christmas. Santa's elves did raid my yarn stash and craft some items for T's beloved stuff animals. This is becoming a trend the past several years - wondering if that is going to continue. Oh, and it was a white Christmas. 

The Gauntlet - Part VI - Winter Garden A Glow...

Tradition that we go every year. The first year I can recall was 7 years ago while in labor with T - I was trying to get that stubborn little one out. Since then, we never miss a year. I really wanted to take Ms. M this year. It was the one outing I insisted we do while she was here.

It was a bonus she took some photos of us so we could use them on our Christmas card. This year, we stayed longer than we ever have - 2 1/2 hours. Usually after an hour we are done. The time went so quickly. We learned that next year we need to bring our own sugar cookies for Baby and T - they like to eat their way through the garden and we cannot keep donating to get cookies!

It was also unusually warm this year. Last year we went after the first snow of the year. This year it was closer to 45 degrees. We still bundled up but did not need snow boots or suits. This was BB's second year - last year she kept me warm when I carried her in the Ergo. She, like the other kids, loved the trains. So glad they come back each year.

Photos from our longest trip ever to the winter garden...

The Gauntlet - Part V - Gingerbread House...

We we in a bit of a time crunch when we did this so I skipped the drama of trying to put it together with frosting and took lead from my sister in years past and pulled out the hot glue gun. Flawless.Worked better than a charm. Plus, plenty more frosting for decorating.

Ms. M and the kids decorated the house. It looked wonderful. Less than an hour project. Probably closer to 30 minutes from start to finish. Yes, as in years past, S stuffed herself with more candy that she should have but lots of protein was eaten later that day to make up for it. I loved the finished product. 

The Gauntlet - Part IV - Ms. M's Visit...

Ms. M, my dearest childhood friend, came to visit for Thanksgiving. We kept our activities fairly quiet so we would have plenty of time to visit. The kids seemed to dominate most of our awake times and our evenings we were hooked into watching Downton Abbey. Still, we were able to catch up and just enjoy each others' company.

Ironically, in the past year, completely unknowingly, we both went straight with our hair - this after decades of curly hair for both us of. When we met at the airport, we both exclaimed to each other about it!

One request I had was for her to play Christmas music on the piano. She is an K-8th music teacher. She even helped me put together the music for the program I was going to have the kids do on Christmas Eve eve. Sadly, we were not able to get the kids from both the N family and our N family together to do the program due to illness. My heart was pretty sad about that. But, it was still fun collaborating with my dear friend to incorporate music. The kids loved her tunes and danced most of the time. She and I used to both be piano accompanist at our high school.

We also did a visit to the Winter Garden and made a gingerbread house. I learned from my sister last year - hot glue holds gingerbread together far better than frosting. Worked like a charm! We made soap. Every year I like to make soap. It's kind of my new tradition instead of baking. It certainly is labor intensive and always helpful to have an extra adult helper. My past and present met up while we were making soap - Iron Woman stopped by to meet Ms. M - that was a special moment for me.

We are already scheming Ms. M's next visit. I hope I don't have to wait another year but if I do, it is always worth it!

Last photo is our Christmas gift to her - a special book for her to create memories with her family. Remember, I am all about creating memories together. I am sensing this as a theme for 2015. 

The Gauntlet - Part III - Thanksgiving...

We hosted Thanksgiving at our place this year. Actually, I had to do very little of the cooking - only a few pies and some whipped cream as well as the rolls. Everyone else brought everything. I just had to host. I thought that sounded like the perfect plan and it was actually the preferred but once it came time for clean up - yeash!!! It took hours. Thanksfully, I had my dear friend Ms. M who came to town and she entertained the kiddos while hubby and I clean up.

We had his folks, my family, and a couple of folks from Italy who had came to our dinner a couple years ago. One of them used to work with Hubby and still works with my sister. They had no place to be so they joined us. It was a fun crowd. We, of course, played Bingo after the dinner. The kids had lots of snuggles from their family. Overall, a nice time. Plenty of left-overs, too. That's the plus of hosting, too!

Oh, and T had just completed his first ever power point presentation. Bless him, he chose "Crocheting" as his topic. Love that kid! He entertained us all with his presentation. He's going to be a great public speaker some day!

At the end are the turkeys the kids made for decoration. Lil Sister's is the one with tape. She is actually quite an artist and gets tired of standard drawing and painting items and will often use other items to "paint with". In this case - blue tape and gum wrappers. She's extremely creative that little one. I just love the photos of my mom with BB. She's so good with babies, especially my babies. They adore her. (Shortly after Thanksgiving she and my sister developed Influenza A - both were really sick but my mom was in recovery for about 3 weeks. It was scary but she is back to full speed again. So glad.)