Sunday, December 27, 2009

In sickness and in health...

Our new biennial family tradition: making each other sick. Thirteen family members who spent a few hours together at Grandma's house Christmas evening have gotten the stomach flu since Christmas. <> Gramma H. says eighteen family members got it this year!

Thankfully, it was a quick bug and only seven hours after getting ill the Sunday after Christmas, I was feeling better. I was the only one in our nuclear family that got it, thankfully. I've come to view it as a biennial* cleansing/detox. I even got a much needed break and got to stay in bed all afternoon.

See here for the head count of our last family epidemic in 2008! And to update that post, yes, my step-mother-in-law, Amy did catch it and it made for quite a memorable honeymoon.

Hope your family has a happy and healthy New Year!!!

*Thanks to Ben for clarifying that biennial is every two years and bi-annual is twice a year. I thought that bi-annual sounded fishy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Parson Brown

First thing this morning I started laundry and rolled Buckeyes (formerly known as peanut butter balls to my pre-Ohioan self). I was determined to get it right today. Yesterday, the snow was calling to us and we drowned it out with TV and Christmas music. I was overwhelmed at the thought of getting the kids snow ready. How could I take the time when the house was such a mess? I ended up being grumpy all day, frustrated with myself and the messy world around me. Mommy guilt haunted me.

As soon as the kids were fed and dressed today, we got started. It took an hour. First I needed long johns. I thought I'd get myself mostly ready, then work on the kids. With snow pants, Ben's flannel and my heavy coat on, I started in on Juju. Got her purple leggings on, pants back on, extra shirt, then the snow pants and matching pooh bear coat. Took Ben's suggestion and put big socks (mine) over her little snow booties (dug those out of the car where she had pulled them off last), since they weren't real snow boots. That should keep them on, I thought. I was starting to get hot. Buddy's turn. Socks, snow pants, coat, gloves, no....that doesn't work...coat off, gloves on, now the coat. Hat. By this time, Juju found she could stand or lie flat but nothing else. There was no sitting. I'd stand her up, she'd fall flat if she tried to move. She was a helpless puffalump on the floor with flailing arms and legs. Sometimes she'd find something to entertain herself on the floor, most times she just cried. It was funny in a pathetic sort of way. Pick up the Puffalump, dress the boy. I checked the clock. It had been a half hour.

Juju started pulling at her gloves, then Buddy. She was getting hot. He wanted the use of his hands. I started putting Vaseline on their cheeks and getting a little testy. I decided to pamper myself and put some Vaseline on my cheeks too. Magically, all my wrinkles went away. At least in my mind they did. We looked all over the house for the bag of buttons that came with the snow man kit. Juju had walked off with them this morning and we couldn't find them in our hot snow suits. "Found them, Mommy!" shouts Z from the kitchen after I'd looked in the closet twice. Hats on, again. Get the camera out of the car, open the garage door and after an hour of preparation we step out into the snowy wonderland as though we are astronauts walking out onto the moon for the first time.

It's not so bad out here, I thought. I'm not even cold. Probably all the layers. Juju had been fussing from being hot, but stopped at the new environment. We lug the snowman dressings to the perfect spot. I set Juju down, threw a snow ball at Z and started making a snowman. Juju still couldn't sit. Unhappy laying in the snow, she wanted held. Wiping noses and consoling her intermittently, I set to making the snow man. Z was happy sitting in the snow. More crying from the puffalump. I know, I'll get her a rocking chair from the front porch so she can sit more easily. No, she just wanted mommy. Her boot was hanging from her snow suit thanks to my now snow covered giant sock. The snow was perfect for rolling giant balls, so Z and I worked quickly. The neighbors watching thanks to the crying puffalump. OK, I can hold a baby while we decorate the snowman. Man, it's getting hot! Let's take a few pictures for posterity. Our snow man now decorated with our fancy snow man decoration kit only needed arms. "OK, Buddy, let's go up the hill and find some arms," I heard myself say. Carrying Juju, up the snowy hill we went. If I could have done it four more times I would have had my cardio in for the day. Once will have to do. All of our hats and gloves were off by this point from being so hot. Arms on, ok, let's go in! Both were happy to come inside. I check the clock. We were outside for a half hour.

In less than two minutes all the remaining layers were shed. The thermometer said 45 degrees. Might have helped to know that before we got dressed to go out. Only because all the books and movies say we should, we sat down for some hot cocoa then had lunch. We read four Dr. Suess books, jumped on the bed for a while thanks to the cocoa caffeine, had a quick puppet show with our puppet friend Louis, then it was Louis' nap time. We found Waldo and both kids fell asleep. I'm pretty sure mommy did too for a few minutes. Now it's time to dip some Buckeyes in chocolate before they wake up, right after I hang our snow clothes up to dry, so we can do it all again tonight when Daddy gets home.

Wishing you and your kin a wondrous Christmas week!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On remembering...

Above is an attempt to recreate the oil painting, Virgin and Child, by Janet Driver. I was unable to locate any on-line images of her beautiful work, so you'll have to settle for my rough interpretation of it. I added the verse from Psalms, but the picture came from a Christmas card we received last year from Ben's great aunt Phyllis. I saved it all year knowing it would become a banner someday.

Below is another picture to give you an idea of how big the banner is. It's 8'x11'. An equally big thank you again to Ben, Dad, Mom, Holly, Sarah and Grace for all your help!
As usual, we are struggling again with how to transcend the commercialization of Christmas and make it a holiday that is significant to our faith. For the past three years we started getting each other only one present to symbolize the one, most important gift from God. This year we've abstained until now, two weeks before the big day, to do any decorating at all, mainly because we were reevaluating all of our traditions or lack thereof. I still wanted to encourage the Christmas spirit in our home somehow. I'm so excited that today, I had an idea...and Ben liked it!

Last year we got yet another inspiring Christmas card, this one from our friend Joey Weaver. It had a picture of himself on it and of Mary and baby Jesus. It said something to the effect of, "I give this gift to you because He gave this gift to us". It was genius in it's simplicity and poignancy. That gave me an idea.
As we all set it up, I explained to Z that Jesus is our present from God and the reason we celebrate Christmas. Because of his gift to us, we give gifts to each other, which we put below the nativity. I reviewed with him, "OK, where's the present on top of the table?" He scanned the table and gave me an apologetic look as if, "Sorry mom, but I don't see it." I pointed to Jesus, and he shouted, "JESUS!!!" He found the presents under the table much more easily.

We asked family to only get us one present each, if anything at all, to ramp up the materialism warfare. We found a great deal of inspiration on this website: It has a huge list of non-purchase gift items on it. FlyLady also has an excellent no clutter idea list for presents. We won't be doing cards this year, mainly out of frugality. Our apologies to those waiting feverishly for it! Feel free to cut us off your card list too, it'll save you a few pennies. However, if you decide to send us one anyways, we do appreciate it and are grateful for whatever inspiration that comes with it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smells like trouble

Last night I ran to the store while Ben stayed home and watched Curious George's Christmas special with the kids. When I came back I found them all in the bathroom with Z announcing that he's earned a present for pooping in the potty. Later that night Ben told me not to use that toilet because the toilet needs plunged now. First thing this morning Ben plunged the toilet and told me it was really stopped up and took a lot of plunging.

Ben's cell phone has been missing since last evening and we spent all morning looking for it. We were confused that it was going straight to voice mail when we'd call it when we knew it was fully charged. After checking the trash and the burnables, Ben had this sinking realization that it was possible that Juju had found his cell phone last night and put it in the toilet before Z went. We're going to give it a day to make sure before he buys a new cell phone, but we're pretty sure that people are calling our septic tank now. At least he can still check his messages. I took a video of Juju after lunch today so we could always remember how cute and happy she is after sending Daddy's cell phone into a smelly abyss.

These are her before nap giggles. What you can't tell from this video is that she smells like a hotdog. Maybe that's a good thing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A moment to share

When I was little, I remember going to kindergarten for half days in Monterey, California and coming home and finding a fun lunch all laid out for me by my mom. One time my lunch was a purple theme. Everything, including my milk, was purple. She's just fun like that. Much more recently, she had this idea of filling Z's choo choo train with all the trimmings for sugar cookies. Z loved it...a little too much - we nearly ran out of certain candies before the cookies were all decorated. I'm sure he had sweet dreams of trains, cookies and candies that night.
"Guess who this is!" she said. I didn't get it at first, but I'm still laughing, mom!
My parents left on Monday, I talked with them today and they're home safely. We had such a nice visit. Ben and I got to take a couple of hikes while we had live-in sitters. The most recent was out to this awesome oak tree just a field and a forest away from our house.

My Dad took this with my camera.

Here's another sneak peek at the banner I'm working on. I've had my parents, my husband, my cousin, Grace, and friends from the church all help me with this 8'x11' project. I'm so close to being finished I can almost taste it. I was excited to find this video of an abbreviated church service available on-line! You can hear our worship team and a special music song that Ben and I sang that Sunday they happened to video. {{Grandparents, it might take a bit of time to buffer, just let it sit for a while after you download it if it's choppy.}} Click here to hear the song we sang this past Sunday, only much less accompanied. We only had Ben's guitar and a drummer. Well, I need to get working on that banner!!!