Monday, December 31, 2007

Party Time

I'm taking a poll.

How many of you used to bang pots and pans on the front porch as kids to ring in the New Year? My husband and my in-laws had never heard of such a thing. However, my neighbor here in NJ grew up doing the same thing as we did in Michigan...and I've done some googling to discover the tradition is well known. However, I haven't heard too many accounts of this activity anywhere in the south, so maybe it's something known just "north of the Mason Dixon Line" as my husband thinks.

Regardless...it's a fun (and cheap) tradition that the girls loved!
"2008" glasses imported straight from Time Square!
Baileigh banged her pot so hard she broke the wooden spoon!
We finished off the night (at 8:30) with a quick video and some peanut butter popcorn!
New Year's Eve kisses. Happy New Year to all!

Happy New Year 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Anniverary

The 27th was our 10th Wedding Anniversary. We're officially celebrating on the 30th. Brad's parents are in town and our going to keep the girls while we take the train to NYC and see the Lion King on Broadway and spend the night in the city. We've been in the city a lot lately but not ever as the two of us without much of an agenda! We're excited about our trip...well at least I am, and Brad is wise enough after 10 years to not voice his opinion if he is feeling otherwise.

Happy Anniversary Honey!

Back Online

We woke up on the 27th to discover that our cable, phones and computer were all not working. We assumed the problem would be fixed soon and we headed out for the day. We didn't get home until about 4:00pm and learned it was still not working. We called about our service...apparently we were the only one's in our area. We had plans to be in NYC on the 28th all day with Brad's parents so that means we had to wait until this morning to get the problem fixed. Apparently Verizon accidentally cut our Comcast line when they were doing some work. Right now we have temporary cables running across our yard and into our neighbor's yard until they can fix it permanently.

We found it hard to get ready for a day in NYC without being able to get online. Every time we thought of doing something it revolved around the computer or phone. And Brad's been missing all the college bowl games! So today our life can resume to normal now that all our creature comforts have returned.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Lonely Night

Tonight the girls are at a sleepover. They have had a few in the past that were out of necessity because we were out of town, moving, or giving birth.
But this is the first true sleepover just for fun.

I miss them.

Usually they would just be asleep upstairs right now...but knowing that I can't go up there and kiss them tonight makes me sad.

I'm still a little nervous that I might get a phone call telling me that one of the girls wants to go home...but it's 10:13 and no phone calls, yet.

When did they get old enough to sleep at a friend's house? Don't they miss their Mommy?

Christmas Day Recap

We had a great Christmas day. Lazy and relaxed. Pj's for 24 hours! Perfect.

The girls were a blast. So much fun at this age. They each got little couches...I've always seen these but thought they were a little old for them, but my niece had one and they loved them.
Brooke got an inflatable ball pit that she loved...especially when her sisters weren't crowding her out of it and actually gave her the chance to play.
Baileigh's highlight of the day was an American Girl doll, GT22 to be exact...she had been asking for this specific doll for awhile and was really surprised because I had told her that she was going to have to wait.
Brooke spent her day vacuuming! Too bad it doesn't really work, my house would actually be clean, well...cleaner.
Mckenna asked Santa for Moon Sand. The verdict is still out as to whether or not I hate the stuff...I've already established the rule that it can not be used within 48 hours after Mommy has mopped and only during Brooke's nap time.
Baileigh asked Santa for skates, and since I had on good word that he was going to deliver we also got Mckenna some skates. We're heading to a roller rink tomorrow morning...skating at this age is supposed to help a lot with skiing, which we hope to expose the girls to next year.
Everyone in the family got Nerf guns. We know friends who have nightly Nerf gun wars and we liked the idea....especially Daddy! The girls developed a target practice game. We worked on our aim by using our Christmas cards as targets...so if you were really loved you were lucky enough to be a part of our game.
Despite not doing anything all day we were all pretty tired by bed time. Mckenna's final question of the night was "Mommy, when will we it be Christmas again?"


Aren't You Glad Holiday Shopping Is Over!

This video clip will help you appreciate that the insane holiday shopping season is over...unless you're one of those people that does the post holiday sales. Perhaps this video will help you reconsider! (Pause my playlist on the right hand side before you start the video).

I love the "Turrget" lady...it's one of the best SNL skits they have these days...Justin Timberlake is a funny addition!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

We spent most of our Christmas Eve day at church as Baileigh was singing with the kid's choir at the 1:00 and 3:00 services and had to arrive at 11:30 for rehearsal. But is there really a better place to be on Christmas Eve? We had a fairly relaxing day and just enjoyed the time together as a family.

Brooke isn't too cooperative for photos. I don't ever remember either of the other two girls being this bad about standing still for a picture or looking at the camera. Perhaps I took more pictures of them and they were more conditioned...maybe #3 is suffering from photo neglect. This photo was as good as it got, and it required a food bribe.
These two will stand and smile for photos all day. Brooke did stand still to admire the height of the huge Christmas tree in the center of the church lobby...too bad I couldn't see her face!

Brooke sat in the service for the first fifteen minutes so she could hear the music and watch Baileigh sing. She loves music and it's fun to watch her dance and sing along.


video

On the way home the girls were having a funny discussion in the car. They were talking about "What God Wants For Christmas" which is an interactive nativity set that has you open 7 small presents. The small boxes contain Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Wise Man, Angel, Shepard etc...there is a book that you read that coincides with the box you open. The seventh and final box has a small mirror inside...God wants "You" for Christmas

Baileigh remembers doing this last year but agreed to keep the contents of box 7 a surprise. She was hinting to Mckenna what was in box 7. Mckenna offered "I think Jesus wants a DONKEY!" This idea made all of us laugh. Then Baileigh said, "Mckenna, what God wants for Christmas starts with a "Y". I was impressed she was using her new spelling skills to give a clue. Mckenna thought for a minute and then yelled, "God wants WISMEN!"



Sunday, December 23, 2007

Anticipation!

The girl's excitement and enthusiasm for Christmas day is amazing! It has been a fun month of celebrations but the anticipation for the big day is almost out of control! I guess it's just their age because I don't feel like we've done much different this year to build it up in their minds. Regardless, their belief in Santa is concrete, however their understanding that Christmas is truly about baby Jesus being born and is a celebration of his birth is evident in their singing of Away in a Manger 1,000 times a day!

One of the best thing has been their excitement about the gifts around the tree. The reason I say this is because there are currently only 5 boxes under the tree...one for each member of the family with their Christmas eve pj's in them. There is another stack of presents that the girls have helped Daddy wrap for Mommy and then a gift for each girl that came in the mail from Nana. But otherwise, all the presents are hidden in the basement. Last year we slowly put the gifts out throughout the month as they were wrapped and on Christmas morning there were the gifts from Santa and a few other new ones, but most were out in advanced. I didn't really plan on doing it differently this year but I just started wrapping this week. When I saw how excited the kids were about getting 2 gifts I was so elated with their anticipation of 2 presents instead of disappointed at the lack of gifts that I just decided to knock their socks of Christmas morning with all their other presents. Every day they discuss their presents under the tree and what may be inside the boxes.

It makes me proud that they can be that happy with the thought of 2 presents. We're such a spoiled nation that it's really sad that we don't celebrate a few gifts but usually expect more. I know my kids perspective will evolve over the years, but I pray that we can instill in them an attitude of gratitude in spite of presents and a continued focus on "Christ" in "Christmas."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Santa in the Hood

Today Santa came through our neighborhood with our local fire department. The girls excitedly waved to Santa with other neighborhood kids.
The topic of discussion afterwards was their concern that Santa won't return to the North Pole in time to get all his presents and be ready for Christmas Eve!
We spent the mild day raking leaves for pick up...
and doing a little playing! It's 3 days until Christmas, shouldn't we be shoveling snow and not playing in the leaves!

video







Friday, December 21, 2007

A Tangled Mess!

I use a curling brush.

Is this embarrassing to admit? I'm not sure. I just know I'm in the minority. I've used one since...not sure when. I just know that in Jr.high or whenever I started curling my hair that my Mom gave me a curling brush instead of a curling iron. I think she thought it reduced the odds of burning myself, and she was probably right. As a result, I cannot properly use a curling iron to this day. I always get those little kink marks at the end regardless of my efforts and the advice of others.

I've used a curling brush so long I can use it with my eyes closed. In my sleep. But, apparently not while reading.

Yesterday I was curling my hair after my shower while reading. There had been a newspaper sitting on the floor that Brad had been reading, in his "library", and the article caught my eye while I was drying my hair so I began reading. I continued reading while curling my hair.

I got my hair stuck.

Caught.

Tangled.

Severely.

This has happened on occasion before. Within 30 seconds the problem is usually resolved. This was not a 30 second resolution situation.

Did I mention my hair was stuck. Caught. Tangled. Severely! I unplugged the curling brush so it would begin to cool down and started to attempt to pull out my hair. Nothing. I think I was still fairly calm at this point. But 5 minutes later, when I wasn't much farther then I was 5 minutes prior, I began to panic.

I began to think of solutions. Pulling. Cutting...I've been wanting shorter hair but one clump on the back left hand side of my head was never my vision. I debated eliciting the help of my four year old. That is when I knew I was desperate.

I ran to check the clock, with curling iron brush attached to my head. Baileigh was due off the school bus in fifteen minutes. Yes, that means that I'm getting my morning shower at 3:20. It had been a busy day with two sick kids and a lot of laundry and housecleaning. So a 3:20 shower was an accomplishment.

I had 15 minutes to resolve this situation. I needed help. My arms were getting numb from holding them up over my head. My scalp was hurting from the pulling. The hair that I had managed to free was nappy and looked like a cheap toy baby doll's hair after many brushings by a two year old. That was the part that was already free...I could only imagine what the hair still caught was going to look like.

I debated going out to the bus stop and asking my neighbor to help. But it's usually the Dad. With 3 sons. I didn't think he would be much help. Also, did I ever mention that I'm naked at this point...so that would mean maneuvering clothes over my head with one hand and pulling a cord through sleeves, neck, etc. I debated throwing on a robe and driving to my friend who has helped in other crisis situations (and this was turning into a crisis!) but that would mean loading up my napping child with one arm. Not happening.

At this point the curling brush had completely cooled off and so I was better able to maneuver the brush around and pull hair out, strand by strand. Twenty minutes after this entire thing started I was free. Minus a lot of hair on the back left side of my head and with a throbbing head ache and exhausted arms. But free.

My hair looked like a large birds nest. I wet the damaged area and combed it flat and dried it quickly. Put it up. Dressed. Ran to the bus.

Maybe I should start wearing my hair completely straight. Or stop reading.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Countdown

The finale is less the two hours away! I was rooting for Neil, but since he was eliminated last week I'm now hoping that a girl wins. Bill is okay, but it would be nice to see a female winner.
I've been very unmotivated at the gym, maybe tonight will inspire me. Without a doubt this is the best reality show on television...perhaps tied with Extreme Home Makeover, which I love in theory, but despite his good looks, Ty's yelling is getting old and I can't take it much longer! It's just nice to see a show that is making serious life long changes in people and not just giving them cosmetic makeovers or focused on who is hooking up with who.

Happy Birthday Ayanna!

Tody my niece turns 5! Hope you have a great birthday, Aya!

Just Chillin With Her Buddy


Living Nativity

On Saturday night we went to a Living Nativity at a local church. They did an incredible job! It was really cold and windy, but the girls still enjoyed themselves. I was impressed with things like the "multitude of angels in the heavens singing"...they had a cherry picker with people on it that were raised up over a hedge of pine trees to look like they were floating. The girls eyes were huge when they suddenly appeared out of the dark night.
This was in Bethlehem...we really just passed through this area on the way to the stable with Mary and Joseph...but they had people dressed in elaborate costumes and busy in the market place area of town.
The final scene has Jesus ascending into heaven. This church has actually built a lift on the side of the church and Jesus can ascend up the side of the building and disappears behind the clouds.
Afterwards you go inside the church to warm up with cocoa and cookies. They average about 1,000 people a night attending! We arrived 30 minutes before it started and we were still in "Group B". By the time they left "Group Q" was forming. There are a lot of places were you find crowds and have to wait this time of year...this was finally one worth the chaos.

Christmas Cookies

I would like to blame the lack of recent posts on the fact that I've been preoccupied with making Christmas cookies. I have to admit that this isn't a tradition I'm extremely fond of with the girls this age. I should be. I struggle with my analness and what a messy project cookies can become. The older two aren't bad, but of course Brooke wants to participate and either eat all the dough, feed it to the dogs, smash it, or throw it.

You may notice, by the clothing changes, that we made cookies over several days...and that Brooke was less and less involved as I decided it was a good activity to do during her nap time.
Watching the cookies bake. She actually sat there the entire 12 minutes and waited.
My friend mentioned that her wreaths became holly bushes...I thought that was great idea and we skipped even attempting wreathes.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A New Tradition

Recently I read on a few of my friend's blogs about their Christmas book tradition. I loved the idea and decided it would be a great tradition for our family. Frequently being on the move with the military makes it difficult to find traditions that work regardless of our location, so this concept appealed to me.

Tonight the girls each opened a Christmas themed book. I have a few other books for them to open in the next few weeks. I wrote a note in the cover of each book and after the holidays I'll pack them up with our decorations and next year we'll enjoy rediscovering our Christmas books and add to the collection.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

I had a feeling that Brooke wouldn't be too fond of Santa this year. She is 21 months old and that age can be tough. She thought he was great to look at and say hi and blow kisses to from about 20 feet away...but I still have nail marks in my arm from the death grip she gave me when I tried to hand her over to Santa. My friend posted a funny picture of her kids with Santa, so I thought I would share our funny photo. I didn't plan on being part of this picture, but I thought it may be comical to look back at some day. I only get these photos to put in the scrapbook...despite the fact that they rob you for a picture, I couldn't pass on this classic group shot. Notice both hands around her torso...I'm seriously holding with all my strength to keep her on my lap.

The older girls were totally into Santa this year. Ironically we've hardly said a word about Santa but the girls interest and belief seems to have doubled since last Christmas.

Baileigh asked Santa for roller skates and Mckenna asked for Moon Sand and a jump rope. She asked for a jump rope last year, too. This Santa was awesome. He had a gentle manner and a great voice. He said really sweet things to the girls and encouraged them to be kind to one another and others. At the end he said God Bless you girls and have a Merry Christmas.


Tonight when I was saying prayers with Baileigh she said she was "sad and a little upset." When I asked why she said she had something important that she forgot to tell Santa. She was hesitant to tell me but eventually she confided in me that she had wanted to ask Santa if every boy and girl in the world could please get at least one present this Christmas. Moment, please. Getting a little choked up. Yes, I'm bragging about the big heart of my six year old. We decided to pray about it because God would be able to let Santa know what she had wanted to say but forgot.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Thanksmas!

Thanksmas, you ask?

Yep, an annual tradition with our mini-church. Thanksmas. A festive joint celebration of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season marked with a 4,000 calorie meal!

This year Thanksmas was celebrated with a progressive dinner, of which I hosted the the main dinner at our house. I say "I" because Brad's Monday trip moved to Sunday afternoon and he was on the road headed to Norfolk while I had a house full for dinner! Our friends made it easy on me though and contributed greatly to dinner and did a major portion of the after meal clean up!


A Few Pictures

I'm sorry, but if you like to take photographs, it's impossible to go to NYC and not take a ton of photos. That said, I'm going to share our day with you in pictures...and lots of words!

We got an early start, picking everyone up at 8:15 and making the 9:20 train. The excited girls...(l to r) Allison, Baileigh, Hailey, Emma and Maddie.
The Mommies, Jul, Me, Lisa, Katie and Melissa.
Hanging out in Time Square.
We ate lunch at Carmine's in Time Square. It was great! The best part was we had a reservation and we were seated within 5 minutes, unlike the crowd standing around waiting for almost two hours for a table! While we were eating about 200 Santa's walked by the restaurant! After some research by Katie we learned that this was an annual gathering...Santacon. It's a colorful group of people wearing cheap Santa suits that gather for annual conventions...and essentially to party, apparently Santa style.
Apparently there were over 500 of them that gathered in NY on Saturday...here is one photo (I didn't take it) at Grand Central.
Also in Time Square we came across the Naked Cowboy. If you're not familiar with him you can read about him on Wilkepedia...he is quite the narcissistic personality but an icon in the heart of NYC.
Don't worry, he isn't really naked!
Our girls, from blond to brown...this wasn't even planned.
After a yummy lunch in Time Square and some shopping at the Toys R Us it was finally show time!
Since I had to turn my flash off I couldn't get any really clear pictures, but this one turned out okay and gives you an idea of one of the sets. I meant to take more but I was to enthralled in the show. This was the first Broadway show that I've seen based upon an animated film. Initially I think Baileigh was a little disappointed and confused as to how different it was from the movie...but once she let go of the idea of the movie in her mind she really started to enjoy the show. It was fun to watch her expressions and see her singing quietly to songs like "Kiss the Girl". She really got into it and began applauding after each scene and whispering to me her thoughts about the scenery and actors.
The lights throughout the city were beautiful.
Our gang across the street from Radio City Music Hall.
My date...days like this make me realize how quickly Baileigh is growing up! She is still my little girl, but frequently I'm having more and more moments when I look at her and see a teenager, or a mommy with her own girls. She kept up with my city pace and never complained. She was still wide awake on the drive home, despite the 8 and 10 year old girls asleep on her shoulder in the back seat!
We spent a few minutes in Rockefeller Center to see the tree. IT. WAS. A. ZOO! Unfortunately I never got a great shot of the tree despite playing with my flash. It was beautiful and my picture doesn't do it justice.

Less then a block from Rockefeller I got caught in a mob. Literally. We were heading to The American Girl store to do some shopping when the crowd came to a stop. People were backed up from everyone stopping around the tree to take pictures, but in addition there was a light and music show on the side of a building that was going and everyone had stopped to watch. Below is a picture of the street I'm trying to walk down. I took this while just standing. Stuck. In a sea of people. Everyone was friendly, and thankfully Baileigh went with one of my girlfriends to The American Girl Store another way...but I kept thinking that if anyone gets mad or starts pushing that this could really get scary! I don't mind crowds, but this was a little claustrophobic even for me.
Once we finally made it to American Girl we searched the entire store for GT 22, which was Baileigh's favorite girl. I've steered Baileigh to the less expensive Target version of these dolls, but she still asks for an American Girl doll and likes to look. I was never big on dolls or barbies, but now that Baileigh is 6 and I see so many toys that are geared towards her that I find too mature, or focus on technology or just plain don't like (Braatz dolls, yuck!) I'm extremely supportive of these kinds of dolls! They are innocent, require imagination, don't prematurely advance her growing up and I don't mind her younger sisters playing with them either. So if that means an occasional overpriced doll to accompany her less expensive Target dolls in order to surprise her at Christmas, then it's worth the cost. The marketing of these dolls is insane. That is probably my complaint. Over commercialization. It sells though...matching outfits, restaurant for you and your doll, a theater, hospital, professional photos...yes, you can do all of these things at the store! The idea is to come into the store with your matching doll, buy matching outfits for you and your doll (another $125!) and then whatever else you can think of...including this handy little holder in the bathroom so your doll won't have to be set on the floor!
Flat Stanley joined us for the day in NYC. Baileigh's cousin in NC is doing a Flat Stanley book report so we did our best to add to his adventures!
Three mommies who, by the looks of their bags, spent too much money! Actually, I believe one of these bags belongs to me, but we helped each other out with the shopping (too bad not the buying!) in order to keep our secrets!
Flat Stanley on the NYC subway. Brave little man.
The end of our long day...still enough energy to wrestle with Allison on the train ride home. It's good to be 6!
We had a great day! We sat by an aspiring actress on the train ride home who looked like Ariel and told us that was the show she had wanted to audition for...she was in NYC getting her head shots taken and celebrating her 22nd birthday with her parents. She told us that the first Broadway show she saw was when she was 6 years old and it was her dream to be on Broadway ever since then...I don't know if Baileigh will ever have aspirations to be on Broadway...but I hope she'll remember fondly her first show when she was six years old.