Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas!

We’ve had a wonderful one so far.

On Saturday, 12/20 my family came here for Christmas. We had 11 here for a non-traditional Christmas dinner- Hawaiian steak shish-ke-bobs, marinated vegetable shish-ke-bobs, mahatma rice, a yellow squash, zucchini and onion stirfry, salad and homemade breadsticks.   For dessert we had all kinds of stuff.   After opening presents the kidlets were sent off to bed while the adults stayed up playing games.   Fun night!   The adults draw names and no one buys for the kids except grandparents.    I got a large frame that holds three vertical 5×7 pictures.  I wanted one so I could frame my three favorite pictures from the photography session in August.  I’ll post a picture of it when I’ve got the pictures in and the frame hung.  Oh, also I got a subscription to Readers Digest which I love.    I’ve been getting RD since I was in college.    My Mom gave Mary the Melissa and Doug IceCream set, Nathan a rocket ship set with astronauts and Savvy a set of the three little pigs- it’s three nesting houses and the three pigs and the wolf.  All very cute and the children were thrilled.

On Wednesday, 12/24 we celebrated Christmas Eve and Kip’s 46th Birthday! My sister and nephew came an hour earlier than everyone else so that we could carry on our family tradition of reading “Twas’ The Night Before Christmas”- my parents always read us the version that was illustrated by Tasha Tudor.   It’s out of print now but through some nefarious dealings I was able to obtain a copy for myself.  So, we set the grandkids up on the couch and read the story just like when we were kids.  Then the kids each got to open their present from PapPap (my Dad).   Mary got the most awesome mail set, Nathan got a Dominoe set and Savvy got the sweetest little dolly you ever saw.  Just right for her size.

Not the best picture of Savvy- she was tired and hungry and we were trying to  hold her off with crackers.  But you can see her clutching her sweet baby doll.

Everyone else arrived a few minutes later.   We had 15 for dinner that night- our family, Sarah, Bob and Alec, Mel and Carolyn, Billy (Carolyn’s son), Cheryl and their kids- Caitlyn, William and Chelsea.    We had seven kids that night- 10,10,7,5,4,3,1.   It was wild.  For Kip’s birthday dinner we had lasagne, butterhorn rolls and salad.  There was dessert craziness here. I made: German Chocolate Cake, Lemon Pie, Coconut Cream pie, cut out sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles and peanut butter fudge.   My sister brought a delicious banana-sour cream bread.   We had spiced pecans from my Mother, homemade peaunut brittle from a neighbor and Carolyn brought Chocolate Walnut Fudge.  And let’s not forget the Scotcheroos that I made Kip for his birthday.

After much eating and opening of presents all the kids went outside and spread the “reindeer food” that the kids and I had made earlier in the day (a combination of oatmeal, glitter and Craisins).    Then we went in and followed the Norad Tracks Santa website.   The kids and I had been watching all day as Santa traveled from China, Australia, Russia, through Europe.   When we saw he was out over the Atlantic, Billy and Cheryl left with their kids and we hurried ours into their pj’s and on to bed.   Santa was almost here!

Christmas morning was SUCH fun!

We usually limit the gifts to three from us and three from Santa + one big gift.   This year we did a little more.  We saved a lot of money by shopping at Toys and Co.’s 20% off  October sale and then Gifted Imaginations ran a 25% your entire order + free shipping sale so we had money left over and used it for extas.

Each child got a stack of three books and each child got a different set of blocks to add to our every growing collection (can you really ever have enough blocks?).  Mary and Nathan also each got a puzzle, a game  and a baseball glove and ball set.

The Big Gift for all the kids was a new kitchen set, refrigerator and wooden food.   There was also an Indian set with 4 teepees, 6 indians, 4 horses, 2 buffalo, 3 totem poles, camp fires, etc.   set out for the kids as a group gift.

Then each kid got their own separate gifts- Nathan got a REAL tool box with tools from For Small Hands- it had a hammer, saw, drill, sanding block, head lamp, measuring tape, safety glasses, etc.   He also got some pirate stuff, the space base set that goes with the rocket ship he got for his birthday last year and this fishing game which all the kids have loved and had fun with.   Mary got a princess dress, some more of the Snap N’ Style dolls, a changing table for her dollys, a set of audio books that included Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and Little Women.  Savvy got the Haba Sticki Blocks which are perfect for her size.   A cute little mushroom house with some figures, etc. in it, a Snap N’ Style doll and pounding toy.  Her two favorite gifts were a toy telephone and a little wool ball from Little John Lane.

Christmas Eve- all ready for the kids in the morning…

Christmas Morning…

We still have Christmas with Kip’s family this coming Sunday and then Nathan’s 4th Birthday next Saturday (1/3) so more parties to come- after that we’ll have a four week break until Mary’s 5th Birthday.  I’m always partied out by February!

Most Meaningful Gift

Rocks in my Dryer asked about the most meaningful gift we are giving someone this year.

Here’s mine:

Kip was adopted when he was 7 months old.    After his Mom died last year, I inherited some of her jewelry and her jewelry box (to pass down to our girls when they are older).  In her jewelry box I found a newspaper announcement for Kip’s adoption.  Now, he was adopted in July, 1963 when adoptions were usually kept a secret.  You just did not announce that you were adopting- it was a very hush, hush thing back then.

But not Judy.   She took out a newspaper announcement.  “Mr. and Mrs. Melton Jewell are proud to announce the adoption of a son, Kiplyn Reeves, 7 months old.   Mrs.  Melton Jewell is the former Judy Jenkins of Buena Vista, Va.”   She was just so PROUD to have this beautiful baby boy and she wanted everyone to know it.

So, for Kip’s birthday (which is Christmas Eve), I got out a picture of Kip on his gotcha day (the day his parents got him for the first time) and took the picture and the newspaper announcement to a local framing shop and had them framed together in one frame.  The picture on top and the announcement beneath it.    Also, every year his mother made him “scotcheroos”- they are kind of like rice krispy treats with butterscotch on them.   So I am making those tomorrow and will pack them in a tin to give him along with the picture on his birthday.

ADOPTION SERIES ON HALLMARK WEBSITE

This is a series on different adoptions.   I thought of Kip’s birthmother when I watched the “Neumann/Jolly” episode.  I think of her this time of year, knowing that she must be thinking of Kip and wondering where he is, how his life turned out, if he is alright.

I loved the episode on the London family.   In the last episode on them when the kids take off running in the airport to their new family I literally burst into tears at my computer.   What a beautiful sight.


Updates

We hosted my family Christmas on Saturday night.  None of the pictures came out well except this one of Nathan opening his present from Mema.

After the kidlets went to bed the adults stayed up late playing games.  Kip did these orange clove balls for me while everyone played since he wasn’t in the mood for games.

Mary and Nathan this morning (Tuesday, 12/23) getting ready to go outside and play.  So cute!

Lots of Links

Here’s some really excellent reading…

Hail to the Chief is the most excellent thing I’ve read in ages.  It so perfectly describes how I often feel.


The Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Metallic Silver…. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.   Short but oh-so-funny.

Saying No: the essential gesture of stewardship A powerful reminder to me not to get to caught up in the “busyness” of life.

When You Call Yourself Names Simply beautiful.

Engraved Uniques LOVE this!  What a great gift.   I’m bookmarking it to order one for us at a later date and I think it’d make a great gift for someone down the road.

39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 “Don’ts” for Parenting There is a lot of meat in this list.   I’ve printed it out to look through and ponder of the next few weeks.


Putting A Little Peace in Your Christmas I love the concept of creating “space” for our children- space between events, toys, etc.

When we never seldom deny ourselves our children the things we merely want (not need), we create jaded appetites. If we want to foster a sense of contentment with what we have, a sense of appreciation for the extras in life rather than a sense of entitlement to them, we’ll give ourselves and our children the gift of space.

Create space in your lives, space between events. Give yourselves time to appreciate what you are doing now, time to reminisce, and time for hopeful anticipation. Create the space that helps develop a habit of contentment.

You Should Get Out of the House More is such a great read.

Let’s be willing to say it like it is: as moms of young children, the best place for us to be is at home.

That’s just the truth. One can find all sorts of arguments about having the right to be elsewhere, exceptions (a widowed or abused single mom) and more, but the overarching, general truth is – and we all know it — children are happiest and best raised when mom is home with them and engaged in their daily lives.

But what kind of world is it, really, where women are encouraged to feel negatively about being home with the very people who need them most? Where women are encouraged to get away from moments that bring great joy and delight? Where women are made to feel that their minds are only fully used outside the home? Where women are made to feel guilty when they choose to use their intellect and passion to infuse the minds of the next generation with a strong moral foundation, good common sense, and a broad, wise understanding of the world around them?

Working Title: SAHM or Housewife? Does it matter?

We somehow thought that rebelling against home and men would lead us to our true identity as women, but what it left us was playing concierge to a legion of demanding, entitlement-mentality brats.

But the media pulls the wool over our eyes- encouraging us to continue to pour our resources into children who statistically have become little more than mass consumers (can you imagine 100 years ago, the very idea that a child was a consumer?) and to disdain the husbands and fathers. Prime Time TV in particular likes to subject fathers to foibles and leave them the butt of all jokes. Print ads and tabloids train us through careful marketing to push along this path… leading to where? Families are generally miserable.

We need to be WITH our kids

In what Christian’s world does it seem logical that the Lord would, in His divine providence, bless us with a child, give us the awesome responsibility to raise, nurture, and train said child, then find it acceptable for us to hand that child over to a stranger at 6 or 12 weeks of age to be taught who knows what in some childcare facility for 8 to 10 hours a day without good reason for doing so? I realize that for some there are indeed circumstances that demand these hard choices, but please believe me when I say that this post is not an attempt to judge those of you who have had to make that choice. On the contrary, this is a self-involved reflection of the dilemma I face as a mom trying to grow godly women in an ungodly world. (underlining is my emphasis)

The Soul Mate Myth

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a soul mate, and we set ourselves up for either a lifetime of loneliness or disappointment when we buy into what is in essence, a Hollywood created fantasy.

Like-Minded vs. Exclusive

Sometimes in our craving for community, we are drawing tinier and tinier circles, and they are exclusive and ostracizing rather than welcoming and inclusive.

The things most people who are fond of that ‘inclusive’ label believe somehow ‘prove’ how inclusive a person or group might be are externals. But genuine inclusiveness isn’t a thing of externals. It’s a matter of the heart.

Screwtape has a clue! Such a great commentary on schools.  As a former schoolteacher, I heartily agree with much of what is written.  I thought the quote below is so true- schools do this regularly.

The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be ‘undemocratic’. These differences between the pupils–for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences–must be disguised.


Sexy Sunday

Love this post.  It’s the one topic I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon preached on.   When did this become acceptable?

All of us are confronted by status and sexuality in the world all week. Shouldn’t church be a rest from all that? Why are we trying specifically to look extra attractive when we know we are going to be interacting with a whole lot of women who are continually trashed by the world’s obsession with appearance, and a whole lot men who are beaten up everywhere else they go by ungodly women trying to provoke them to lust? What if we tried to be clean and neat at church, but extra modest, even simpler and safer than usual…


Wednesday, 12/17- Friday, 12/19 2008

Well.  I feel like a crappy Mom today.

Savvy has been sick on and off for the last two weeks.   Last Monday (12/8) and Tuesday she was sick.  I thought it was probably a little cold that would go away on it’s own.   She had a fever (102) and was Queen Crank.  I planned to take her to the doctor but then she was better on Wednesday and Thursday.   Then sick again Friday and Saturday.  Seemed better Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but then by Wednesday afternoon she was definitely sick again.   Then on Thursday, Mary came down from her nap complaining that her throat hurt, she was cold and her “body hurt”.   So I decided that enough was enough, they were both sick, I’d take them all in to the pediatrician today.   Savvy has an ear infection and her throat is “nasty” in the words of the nurse.   Mary also has a “nasty” throat and Nathan has the beginnings of one.   It doesn’t appear to be strep, just some other random throat infection  unhappiness.    All this time I thought it was just a mild head cold and would take care of itself with a little time.   I feel terrible that I didn’t realize she was really sick.  humph.   Poor babies.


Wednesday

We had a bunch to do that day.  My cousin came for a visit with her oh-so-cute little boy.   They left around 3:30 and we were out the door a few minutes later.   We stopped by the peds office to get a weight check on Savvy.  (more on that in a minute).   By the time we left the office she was clearly not feeling well so I ran into Rite Aid and bought some infant tylenol, a little single-serve jug of milk and some crackers.    We fixed her up, went into Stride Rite to get her some new shoes because she had outgrown hers and they were having a 50% off sale.  Next we went to the Tae Kwon Do studio and signed all the paperwork and got the kids their uniforms.   They gave them their little bittiest uniforms and they are still a bit big on the kids but man, do they look cute.   Then it was off to PawPaw’s to have pizza and show off our uniforms.

Thursday

We made Christmas sugar cookies on Thursday.   The kids helped roll out the door, cut them with cookie cutters (Nathan kept calling it “stamping” as in “Mom, It’s my turn to stamp the cookies!”)  and then after they were baked I frosted them while the kids did sprinkles.  Much fun was had by all.   Our most beloved babysitter and her husband came for dinner that night- we had a lovely time.   Parmesean Chicken with spaghetti, garlic bread and salad.  Of course, cookies for dessert.   They very generously gave us a family pass to the Children’s Museum- I can’t wait to use it soon!  Ignore my VERY messy kitchen in the picture below!

Updates on Kids

Savvy has gained weight! She is up from 19lbs. 6oz. at our November appointment to 20lbs. 2oz. today!  WOOHOO!  That’s 12oz.  I was so pleased.

Last year when we had Mary and Nathan’s yearly phsyicals they weighed about the same- Mary weighed 33.5 lbs. and Nathan weighed 33.3 lbs.   Today Nathan weighed 41.5lbs and Mary weighed 35.5 lbs!   He outweighs her by 5 lbs. now!

Monday: December 15, 2008

Do you know what we did today?

NOTHING. And it was fabulous.

Last week it rained Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.   Kids were inside.  Friday and Saturday the yard was still a soaked and muddy mess.  Sunday,  Kip and the kids got all the leaves out of the backyard but it was still pretty wet and yucky.    But by today?  It was getting dry.  And it was beautiful out today- warm with a little breeze.

By 9am I had Savvy down for her morning nap and the big kids were dressed and outside.   They played outside until noonish.  They came in, had lunch, went down for their naps.  By 3:30 or so everyone was up and back outside riding bikes in the driveway.   We went for a walk.   I pulled some of Great Gramma’s Molasses Cookies from the freezer and we had some of those.   I pushed them on the horse tire swing.  We visited with neighbors.   I swept the front porch and the sidewalk.   We ate tacos and cornbread for dinner.   The kids had baths.   Kip and I wrapped a few presents for my family dinner/gift exchange on Saturday.

Here’s some pics of the big kids today. Sorry that there are none of sweet Savvy today.  Maybe tomorrow.   She is still sick so not so much in the mood for taking pictures.   :(  Poor Puddin’.

A nice, clean backyard.   No leaves in sight.

Updates…

FIRST, I apologize for the light posting this week.  I have been sick with a head cold and Savannah has been sick with a fever (102 on Monday and Tuesday) so I have NOT been taking pictures much this week or doing anything fun.    I’m starting to feel better so hopefully will have some pictures up soon.

It’s been a yucky, rainy, wet week.  I mean, seriously, there is something wrong when it is HUMID in December!   The kids have watched to many movies this week.   We’ve played with a lot of duplos and Mary’s spent hours at her art table and with her doll house.  Nathan is, of course, playing with his pirate ship or rocket ship.   I’m hoping for a sunny, dry weekend so we can get outdoors.

FUN STUFF:

Look what PawPaw and Mimi are getting Mary for Christmas! She is going to FLIP.OUT.   She’s been looking at it in the catalog but it was way out of our Christmas budget.    She’s going to be so surprised.  It came in the mail yesterday and it really is very beautifully made.  HERE IS A BETTER PICTURE AT BLUEBERRY FOREST.

SECONDLY, as you may remember, we’ve been having some problems with Savannah.

The Physical Therapist called on Tuesday and is coming out TODAY to start the paperwork!

Also- on Tuesday night we were upstairs getting the kids ready for bed.   Savvy was standing up on the changing table and holding onto my shirt and she LET GO! She stood there for maybe only one second before she fell.  But she pulled up and let go about 8 more times and by the end she was standing for maybe 3 seconds.    I know it’s not a big deal to most but I thought it was very encouraging!

THIRD, we are taking the kids to sign up for Tae Kwon Do on Wednesday night.  Can you even imagine how cute they are going to be in their little white uniforms???   ohmyword.   This is the first time they have ever participated in any kind of class/activity.  We decided on Tae Kwon Do for several reasons-

#1: Nathan continues to be *very* uncoordinated and clumsy.  He is always falling and tripping.  He still has trouble undressing himself.   We really think that this will help him improve.   I thought that once the backyard was fenced in and they were playing outside regularly that he would get better but it’s been over a  year now and he is still the clumsiest kid.

#2:  Nathan is really having a hard time about “winning” lately.   (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before).  On the one hand, he certainly does need to have a better attitude about not winning.  But, I do think it is important for him to feel like he’s good at something.  And I’m not liking what I see- he feels like he can never win, no matter how hard he tries.   Mary is faster and quicker and more coordinated than he is.  He will likely catch up in a few years but that doesn’t help us NOW.    I think TKD will be good for him.  Hopefully his gross motor skills will improve.   And I think it will be good to be doing it as a GROUP without the emphasis on winning.     Mary and Nathan will be in the same class but I am going to try to keep them somewhat seperated.

#3: Mary is little Ms. Social and I think she will LOVE doing this.   We are mostly doing TKD because we think Nathan NEEDS it but it will be so fun for Mary and that is a plus for us.

#4: As a former Marine, I really like the emphasis that the martial arts have on discipline.   Not discipline in the punitive sense but “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Merriam Webster Dictionary).

#5: The TKD studio we chose is a Christian studio so there will be no praying to the Eastern religions or any such foolishness.  Also, they are joining the homeschool class so there will be a variety of ages of kids in it.   This studio allows the parents to stay and observe.  The other studio we were initially looking at only allowed the parents to stay for the first class of the month.  I do not drop my kids off with strange men that I don’t know.  Period.

FOURTH, we are hoping to start piano this winter as well.    We would really like for all the kids to learn to play piano.   I’ve got a lead on a piano teacher who does lessons for $10 an hour (as opposed to $20 everywhere else!) that I’m going to follow up on.   Costco has some decent keyboards that we are going to look into after Christmas.

Coasters


Coasters

I was poking around looking at pictures in my old photobucket account when I came across these coasters I made in September, 2007.   My fabulous OBGYN whom I LOVED was moving to NY to be with her husband.  She delivered all three of my kids and was a wonderful lady.   I gave her this set of coasters, all tied up with a pretty ribbon. I wish I would have taken a picture of that because it did look really nice.

(Savannah was only 5 or 6 weeks old when I made these- too little to do a handprint as she was still keeping her hand in a fist position.  That’s why she has a footprint.)

Here they are:

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Pleasant Garden Christmas Parade

We look forward to this parade all year long!  It’s usually such a fun, small-town parade.  The main street is packed with townspeople, there are usually lots of floats and they throw a ton of candy to the kids.

But this year?  Um, not so much.   I’m thinking that with the economy so bad that many businesses didn’t have the extra funds to do a float this year.   There were FAR fewer floats this year than last and a lot more vintage cars (to many, I thought.)   Also, in years past we would always stand down by the firestation.   This year we decided to stand near the judges table and this was not a wise decision.   The judges table was near the end so most of the floats and vintage cars were out of candy by the time they got to us.   There was a huge pack of upper elementary kids standing about 5 feet down from us.   It seemed like most of the floats threw the last of their candy to those kids.   Then here is four little preschool kids- my two plus two others who were standing with us and they got almost NOTHING.   Nathan started crying and you know, I did feel bad.   From his point of view, he saw the floats throwing a ton of candy to the kids next to him and then NONE to him.  So he’s standing there watching all the other kids get candy and no one is throwing any to him.      Which really kind of stunk.  We’ll be back down at the fire station next year.

We still had a good time though- it’s always nice to be out and doing something as a family.   We ran into some people we knew, which was fun.

It was COLD out that day!

Savannah was SO tired!   We’ve thought for a while that she was in the beginning stages of transitioning from two naps a day to one nap.   Friday was her first day of one nap and she very well.    By Saturday morning though, the lack of sleep had caught up with her and she sacked out in Kip’s arms during the parade.  Isn’t she cute?

The fire station did have a new and awesome float.

Tanglewood Festival of Lights

Every year we do the PG Christmas Parade in the morning, come home and give the kids lunch, put them down for a nap and then get them up at 3pm and head for the Tanglewood Festival of Lights.   We were out the door a few minutes after three and at the Winston-Salem Olive  Garden by 3:45ish.   We ate an early dinner and were in line at Tanglewood by a few minutes after 5pm.   Gates opened at 5:30pm so we didn’t have to wait long.   The lights were great and as usual we stopped at the Big Red Barn and meandered through the gift shop and  then went out to the bonfire and did toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate.

Look at this tired Puddin’.

Overall, we had a fun day and I look forward to this every year!   This is one of my favorite family traditions.

Next weekend we are going to repeat something we did last year.   We’ll have an early dinner, put the kids in the PJ’s and head out to see all the Christmas lights in Greensboro.  We’ll drive over to Jefferson Woods and to that street with all the Christmas Balls and a few other places.  Then we’ll take them to Krispy Kreme for snowman doughnuts.   Maybe we’ll swing by and see if we can convince PawPaw and Mimi to come along.