Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lots of Christmas

Our past few days have been FULL of Christmas fun.

It started Saturday night at Grandma and Grandpa's: lots of music, laughing, cousins, and noise. Of course there was also a wonderful turkey dinner and--the best Christmas dessert ever invented--eggnog trifle.


Even though we act out the nativity story every year, we never manage to plan ahead with costumes, parts, etc. So . . . this year's costumes were a little . . . unconventional.

(Amanda was an angel and Ben was a wise man.)


We also had two Marys, because one little person just wouldn't back down.


Later, Santa arrived, wearing a red disco jacket and a . . . bib?


It's always so much fun to see what the kids come up with :)

Grandma sent us home with presents,


which we opened before bed. Christmas Eve with new PJ's . . . there is nothing like it!


Alaina woke up early the next morning, and we got the others out of bed to see that Santa really had come.


And after that it was toys,






and--yes--more toys.


We had a great time building, playing, reading, and--my favorite--introducing the new Ariel Barbie to the other princess Barbies :)


After church, we headed out to Grandma and Grandpa J's house for another delicious turkey dinner, another cousin, and more toys.

Ben and his cousin Jack both got very realistic light sabers, and Grandpa was adventurous enough to take them outside in the dark to play with them.

From the living room window, it seemed as though I was actually watching a scene from Star Wars. The boys were pretty happy. (Don't worry, Janae and Alaina had a turn with them later!).


With all that Christmas, you might think we've had enough . . . but you know, we can't wait to do it all again next year :)

And Alaina does keep saying, "Only two more days 'till Christmas!!!!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Tradition "More Honored in the Breach"

Our family has a few traditions. We like to make waffles on Sunday mornings and go to the library on Thursdays for story time. We make a chocolate ghost pie every Halloween and always visit the pumpkin patch at the first sign of fall.

When it gets closer to Christmas, we have even more traditions. We decorate cookies and make other treats,


drive around to look at lights,


and watch favorite shows like The Muppet Christmas Carol, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

We have pictures with Santa,


and . . . you’ve heard about the elf.

These are fun family traditions.

Some traditions, though, are "more honored in the breach than the observance," as Hamlet would say--or, simply put, "better broken than kept."

(Ben and Janae trading PJs, for example . . . we just can't have that happen again!)


Anyway, I must confess that I have a little Christmas tradition of my own that does nothing to enhance the holidays.

It always starts early in the season. . . .

My children write their Christmas lists and I can’t help but buy some of the items. I find them on sale or see that there are only a couple left at the store, and I think it would be wise to “pick one up” before the opportunity is lost.

As the weeks pass, my closet becomes packed with gifts, and I feel happy with what I have accomplished. I think about how close I am to being finished my Christmas shopping and about how much time I will be able to spend just enjoying the holidays and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.

This sounds like a great tradition—and you might be thinking I am a smart, well-organized mom.

But no.

More time passes, and my children start to mention—as children do—other items they would like to receive on Christmas morning. We visit Santa, and I happen to overhear my children whisper quite different lists than the ones I’d seen . . . and made come true.


I start to wonder about those toys hidden away in the closet. Should I take them back? Should I buy more? Am I being too thrifty? Am I being too extravagant? Will they be excited to see these gifts? Will this Christmas have enough magic?

I lie awake at night, thinking about each child and what he or she wants or needs. I get another this or that from the store and then wonder if I’ve bought too many gifts . . . or not enough.


Today is the 23rd, and even though I thought I was pretty much ready for Christmas on December 1, I found myself slipping out to get something I felt we NEEDED to have sticking out from the tops of the stockings (because Janae and Ben were talking about how much fun it was to see last year!).


As I was driving home, I realized that the problem is this: as long as I have time, I will think and re-think about the Christmas presents, and I will not be done until it is impossible to make any changes.

I feel like the student who is adding one last comma to my assignment, even as I am walking up to hand it in to the teacher.

I always found those students slightly annoying, even when I was one of them.

But this seems to be my life’s tradition.

Do you think it can be broken?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Elves on the Shelf


As many of you know, an elf arrived at our house this year, early in the Christmas season.

This little guy--my kids named him James--is the topic of A LOT of conversation amongst my children and their friends and cousins, and he is also now pretty much the central figure in our household.

When the kids wake up in the morning, the first thing they do is look for the elf (who moves at nighttime). If people come to visit, they are led to wherever James is sitting.

Ben, Janae, and Alaina show the elf their toys and tell him what they want for Christmas. Benjamin even gave James his Christmas list, trusting the elf--rather than the postal system--to get it to Santa.


This morning Janae asked me to "look for the elf." Since I knew he was on the counter, I made my way into the kitchen--only to find two more elves also sitting very still on the (very messy) shelf.


I think Janae might have a future in this industry.

Anyway, I guess all we can do now is wait and see what kind of report James makes for these three . . .


naughty or nice?

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Few Dollars Later

I took Janae and Alaina to a hairdresser this morning to see if we could do anything about yesterday's "incident" (see previous post).

Janae's cut turned out pretty cute.


They couldn't do much for Alaina, though.


Some of the pieces were just too short. She does look a bit pixie-ish, though. And you can't really go wrong with those big blue eyes, right?


Still, every time I look at her I can't help thinking of the girl in The Parent Trap who cuts off all of her hair--Alaina's do has a similar shape (maybe it's something about having your hair cut by your sister).

Anyway, a trip to the mall later we at least came up with this. It is nice to know there are some things money can buy.

And, clearly, I only have one son :)

It would take more than a haircut to take the girly out of these girls!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Fun with Scissors . . . Leads to Monday Morning Hair Appointments

I have two beautiful daughters, both of whom have hair that I can't help but envy. Janae's is so long and thick,


and Alaina's is so fair, with ringlets at the back.


Of course, their hair is difficult to comb, and Alaina's particularly is difficult to keep smooth--but I would never dream of getting either of their hair cut.

Janae, on the other hand, had big dreams in this department.

This afternoon I was enjoying a rare moment of peace.

Suddenly I heard Alaina crying for me--not an unusual occurrence.

I followed the sound of her voice to the bathroom, where I could hear a scuffle occurring at the door.

Finally Alaina came out. She looked different--almost as though she had a ponytail in her hair, but with shorter bangs.


Then I realized, Janae had CUT HER HAIR. It took a minute to register--she hadn't just cut the front, but ALL OF THE BACK, TOO.


I went into a bit of a hysterical laugh/cry . . . then thought maybe I could salvage some of the ringlets for Alaina's baby book.

So I asked Janae, "Where did you put the hair?"

"In the garbage," she stated.

I went to the garbage, where I saw a pile of white-blond hair . . . and then a bit of straighter, longer, and darker hair underneath.

"Janae," I said, "Did you cut your own hair, too?"

"Yes," Janae said.

Yes, indeed.


These unexpected haircuts are--as you can see--hideous and possibly beyond repair.


Once again, though, Janae has big dreams. After I'd explained that first thing tomorrow morning we were going to have to find a hairdresser who could help, Janae told Jason, "When you see me tomorrow, you are going to think I am SO cute!"

I guess at this point we can only hope.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So Many Mirrors . . . So Much Opportunity for Reflection

Our new place has a lot of mirrors; in fact, pretty much every room has some type of large reflective surface, whether it is a closet door (all mirrors), a full-length mirror in the hallway, or simply a large window.


Mirrors are great for making a room look bigger, or for checking to make sure your shirt is tucked in properly (or that your princess dress twirls around in just the right way)--and windows are wonderful for letting in sunlight or allowing one to enjoy the scenery.

However, there are a few draw-backs to so much glass in the house.

The obvious one is the amount of Windex we are now using (or--more accurately--should be using) to clean all of these mirrors and windows. It seems impossible for me to keep up the polishing when there are at least three sets of sticky fingers opening and closing the doors at all times.


But this problem is minor compared to the self-image issues that have arisen.

As I stand and polish the glass, or--more commonly--as I open and close the mirrored closet doors to put away laundry or toys, I can't help but notice that I need to eat less, exercise more . . . and acquire a whole new wardrobe.

Of course such changes would be beneficial, but--clearly--they will be difficult to implement.


And whereas in our old place I was able to imagine that I still looked like I did in college, in our new place I am forced to confront the apparent reality that I actually look a little pudgy, wrinkled, and out-dated.

I have no more delusions.


This might sound like a good thing, but delusions can be kind of nice.

Trust me, it's the kind of thing you come to realize when you have so much opportunity for reflection. . . .

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sleepless Nights

I might have mentioned to some of you that I haven't slept through the night for the past 7.5 years or so.

Usually this makes me really cranky.

But last night when I went to bed I found my most recent night-waker beside my pillow, sleeping with her own pillow and baby.


I thought it was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen.

Maybe all those sleepless nights of teetering on the edge of the bed while Alaina takes up all the room are worth it . . .

at least somebody gets a good rest :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When Alaina Grows Up, She Wants to Be Just Like . . .

My two-year-old daughter Alaina has no shortage of older girls to look up to.

She has her sister, Janae,


as well as seven older girl cousins . . . not to mention quite a few aunties and all twelve dancing princesses.


She has been known to ask for Manda by name, compliment Jordan on her "eye-blouse," and follow any one of the older girls around when they are playing.

Recently, though, Alaina has been paying attention to one of her cousins in particular: Rebecca.


Or--more specifically--Rebecca's Halloween costume.


When Becca was here for Ben's annual party, she dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and carried her little dog stuffie, Toto. Whenever she put the dog down, Alaina picked it up and gave it to her.

We thought this was kind of cute--and could see that Alaina was really paying attention!


This morning, though, we saw how much Alaina was really noticing. I walked into Walmart with my girls, and couldn't help but be distracted by the racks of discounted Halloween costumes in the entryway.

As we started to look through them, Janae picked up a Cinderella dress and started begging me to buy it. I had no intention of doing so (maybe some of you have seen Janae's dress-up collection . . .).

I then saw a size 2 Show White dress which was identical to one Janae had at home and thought it would be so cute to get for Alaina. Half price, right?

Alaina, though, had her eye on something else. Even though the racks were PACKED, she had somehow spotted a Dorothy costume, which was also very little.

I tried to convince Alaina that the Snow White one would be fun for dress up, that she could have the same dress as Janae, and that she could have her very own princess costume.

But she came home with the dress like Becca's . . . and immediately found a dog to put into a basket.


She carried it around for as long as I would let her, and then I put the dress into the back of the closet in hopes that it would last until next Halloween (it is certainly not as well made as Becca's!).

Alaina--by the way--thought we were going to be trick-or-treating again tonight!


I thought it was so sweet that she wanted to dress up just like Becca :)

I guess the next thing she will be asking for is a pair of high-heeled ruby slippers. . . .

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Three Trick-Or-Treaters


When we set out for trick-or-treating last night, I had a prediction about how long each of my little ones would last. I thought Alaina would want to go home first, and that Ben would want to keep going the longest.

I only got it half right!


We started at 5:30, and Janae was done by 6.


She spent the rest of the evening watching Mermaidia on the couch (not even a Halloween show!) and helping me to pass out candy.


I tried to take Alaina home with me, too, but she wanted to keep trick-or-treating! Jason finally brought her home at 7; she had two buckets of candy, which was twice the amount Janae had collected.


Ben and Jason didn't come home until 8:00.


By that time, though, Benjamin was finally satisfied that this had been his best Halloween EVER.