December to Remember – finale

Christmas Eve was *our* Christmas Day, as my kids were going to their Dad’s late Christmas Eve night and would be with him through the New Year. We were all excited to celebrate together a day early!

This year, I decided to put symbols on each gift tag, rather than names. There were three symbols — a star, a Christmas tree, and a snowman — and each corresponded to one of my three kids. They didn’t know which symbol they were, so they had no idea which wrapped gifts under the tree would belong to them. It was a fun little game. They each got a card in their stocking telling them which symbol they were:

And then the opening commenced!

Claire probably had the very best reaction to her big present…an iPhone!

Wes was excited about his too (just not as dramatic a reaction as Claire’s)!

And Sadie got her very own, non-toy, *real* camera!

She also got a scooter which she later tried out on our street:

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After we had our own little Christmas celebration, my parents and sister’s family came over for breakfast and gift-giving:

Last year, my mom began a fun new tradition we all lovingly refer to as “THE CHRISTMAS DAY CHALLENGE.” Any grandkid of hers who is brave enough to jump in the pool (her pool last year, mine this year) at Christmas, earns $10! Wes wisely decided not to, since he was sick, but the other four did and it was freezing and hilarious! Check out my Instagram for the video!

After everyone else went home, Wes, who had thrown up the night before and was likely fevered, went back to bed. He stayed in bed the entire day. We couldn’t tell if he’d gotten the same stomach bug that Sadie had or if he was reacting to the antibiotics (he googled it, and learned that every symptom he had was a potential reaction to this antibiotic). He felt horrible all day, so while the rest of us went down the street to my uncle’s house for another family gathering, he stayed in bed. He was sick all over again when I came back home, but seemed to feel a little better by the time his dad came to pick them all up later that night.

It was a really nice Christmas with my kids and family. My favorite gift was given to me by my parents:12-24-16_8604

We had one of these growing up. It was put out in our foyer every Christmas that I can remember as a child. It has a very distinct, almost clean kind of smell to it. When I remember and think back on my childhood Christmases, this is a major part of those memories. My mom went on Ebay and found replicas of the original one, and gave them to my sister and me for Christmas. I absolutely love it!

Christmas morning greeted me with a horrible migraine. After getting up and realizing how bad my head felt, I took some meds and went back to bed. I woke up in the early afternoon with my head still hurting and took more meds that didn’t work. Early evening, before going to my parents’ for Christmas dinner, I took more meds and also some sinus medication. My head finally mostly felt better, but of course, the rest of me felt ‘off’ because of all the medicine I had taken. But Christmas Day ended well and I was happy to spend it with those I love the most (minus my three kiddos).

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December to Remember – 5

Before I talk about last night’s December to Remember activity, I want to rewind a little to two weekends ago. On the day we went to two parades, the kids also decorated Christmas cookies. Claire colored and mixed up the icing, and they all had fun creating the perfectly iced, sprinkled and decorated cookie.

(I realized Wes is a bit out of focus, but his cookie is not!)

Alright, back to now…

We continue our D2R activities last night by going to a musical production at our local Civic Center. I even had us all dress up for the occasion!

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We enjoyed the performance, even though it made for a late night and we were all so tired!

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Well, today we are heading out of town (not far away at all) to continue our December to Remember activities…hope you’ll check back in to see what we’ve been up to!

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December to Remember – 1

My kids weren’t with me all that much (read: enough) last year during the month of December due to vacations with their Dad and scheduling, etc., so we weren’t able to do some of the activities/new traditions I wanted to. They are with me quite a bit more this year, and I could not be more excited!

Once I realized they would be with me so much, I started planning…I want to make this month, this Christmas season, fun and memorable. So I have affectionately and kid-eye-roll-producing-ly started calling this our “December to Remember!”

When they came back to me last Friday, December 2nd, our December to Remember commenced! We took an after-school trip to Chick Fil A for peppermint mocha milkshakes, although only 2 out of 4 of us had them (the other 2 had other flavors).

I want to place a disclaimer here for the next part: I am not a fan of people doing good deeds and then bragging about them online. Just seems to make the whole act less genuine, like they were only doing it to be able to brag about it online. That is not my intent with this. I am simply describing our December to Remember and feel this is a really important part of it. Alright, back to it…

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After leaving Chick Fil A we went to Walmart and picked out 3 children (1 for each of mine) from the Salvation Army’s Christmas Angel Tree. We then spent a good amount of time hunting for the gifts around Walmart. Wes chose an 8-yr old boy, Claire chose a 7-yr old girl, and Sadie chose a baby girl (we think less than a year old). It was really fun seeing them choose the gifts for their angel child. I tried to explain to them the significance of helping others in need rather than only thinking about ourselves.

In a season in which it is way too easy (and understandably so, with all of the commercialization of it all) for kids to default to “I want…”, I thought it was really important to start this season out with them (and our “December to Remember”) by thinking of and giving to others.

I’ll continue posting our December to Remember activities throughout the month, so check back often if you’re interested in the activities we’re doing!

What kinds of activities or Christmas traditions are you doing with your family this year?

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Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze

It seems these types of photos are past the trend, at this point, on social media, but I never shared mine, so here it is!

My sweet family (myself, my kiddos and my parents) took a short road trip to a nearby pumpkin patch and corn maze a couple of weekends ago. The kids and myself have done it the past two years, and last year, we started asking my parents to come along. It’s been a fun (newer) tradition for us, and this time was a good one as well. It was a beautiful day and we had a really nice time together!

My Dad doesn’t get around as well as he used to because of back and knee problems, so he opted to used a powered chair to get through the corn maze. It was a fabulous idea…except that it died in the middle of the maze when we still had no idea how to get out! Thankfully, some really sweet people helped pick the whole thing up and carried it straight through all the corn stalks and out to the road. We honestly might still be in there if they hadn’t helped, so they were so very helpful and we were so very grateful!

Here are a few (okay, a lot of) pictures from our day…

Wow!

So I was all excited to show you these great pictures from Halloween…

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Napoleon Dynamite

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Hippie

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Queen of Hearts (“Off with their heads!”)

 

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Mouse…duh!

I was totally going to post all this on Wednesday and then this happened…

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In case you don’t know what you’re looking at, it is a whole other level of hell they call the Science Fair project. We were consumed with this project (Stirling Engine, if you’re interested) for at least 24 hours straight, I’d say.

Maybe you can tell just by reading this blog, but I am much more a creative, a thinker, a reader and writer and musician, than a scientist. I hated the Science Fair when I had to do it as a kid and I will just tell you that it is quite possibly 3476 times worse as a parent because your child might pick a project that requires building a freaking engine and you are very limited by your non-sciencey brain in helping and you can’t fix it when it’s not going as planned. Anyway, we finished up and got it done and I have vowed to make him start on next year’s project like next week.

So, Science Fair Hell happened, and I won’t mention how late we were up finishing it, but we very nearly saw the sun. I took the kids (and the damn Science Fair project) to school and then came home and this happened…

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Yes, you might recognize this as a Science Fair hangover. It’s a thing. Really.

And then I woke up about 4 hours later and was basically incapable of accomplishing anything else the entire day, including working out, which I had sooo planned to do. And then to make that worse, this happened…

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I KNOW!

So, forgive the later update than I had planned. I am just now returning to the land of the living.

Come back tomorrow and I will let you in on the best new show I found to binge on (yes, you are correct in assuming that is what I was doing while consuming what you see in the picture above). Have a great day!

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I have a TEENAGER!!!

9-24-16_8473-copyOMG — how in the world am I old enough to have a teenager?!?!?

In spite of my feelings of not being old enough to have a teenager, I am just so stinkin’ proud of this guy!

9-29-16_4142Wes is such a unique kid. (Warning: it’s about to get a little braggy in here, and it is not intended in that spirit, but I think a Mom can brag on her kid on his bday, right?) He is off-the-charts smart, way smarter than me, and he is only 13. His favorite conversations are usually with his Papa (my dad) and include topics like politics, history, complex mathematics or physics. He is analytical and detailed, a bit of a perfectionist. He makes his bed every day, never being told to do so. He likes traditions and loves his family big.

I could not have asked for a better son. I love you, Wesley! Happy 13th Birthday!

(Wes asked for Chess Cake for his birthday cake. It is not a traditional birthday cake at all, but is his favorite. Come back tomorrow for that recipe!)

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