Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015 Wrap-Up

Jesus is the reason for the season and this Christmas was no exception.  I feel blessed to have my family together...healthy and thriving. Noah has found a tribe of good friends at Miriam School and is making great progress.  Natalie enjoys school and finds simple pleasure in reading and making up stories. Steve continues to do "whatever it takes" to keep our family afloat...whether that means working a second job, doing side work or working weekends.  He's determined to give us all he thinks we deserve and then some.  His loyalty, love and commitment knows no bounds.

While the kids no longer believe in Santa Claus, they continue to enjoy keeping the Christmas spirit alive.

"Mom, how many cookies should we put out for Santa?" asked Noah

"I hope Santa doesn't forget to write us Christmas letters," shared Natalie.

God Bless Us Everyone

Christmas Day with cousins
Nat and Grandpa Dick
His birthday is sandwiched between Christmas and New Years.
This year's gift - Bacon Jam
Since my brother's family were unable to join us
for BINGO on Thanksgiving - we played again on Christmas Day

Brian puts on his game face.

Snooki ornament reappears...circa BINGO 2011

The gang! (minus Renee's kids)
Because who doesn't like a pie in the face?
Wyatt's expression is priceless!

Monday, December 28, 2015

An Unexpected Good Time

I'm a planner -- through and through. However, my parents are decidedly fans of "playing things by ear" and I married into a family of impromptu folks.  Over the years I've learned to embrace the unexpected because more times than not -- good things come from it.  Like earlier this month, my mother-in-law was in town (or should I say "near our town") in Ft. Leonard Wood to watch her granddaughter's husband graduate from boot camp. Steve took the opportunity to drive two hours to snatch her and take her home to us for 36 hours before her flight home to Ohio.  Our impromptu visit turned out to be one filled with many endearing moments.  My mother-in-law had the opportunity to enjoy an uninterrupted conversation with her son, my children made some of their Grandma Connie's favorite holiday cookie recipes and I gave myself permission to stop and soak it in.  Since she lives nearly 600 miles away and we see Steve's family so infrequently - I often feel compelled to cram in as many sights and adventures as possible. This time was different. We stayed home. We baked. We talked. We made some really great memories. 

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year because it's steeped in traditions -- some old like serving my Grandma Marie's sour cherry pie while others are relatively new like playing cut-throat  BINGO for a chance to have your name engraved on a wooden moose that poops jelly beans. Three years ago my sister and her family moved to Colorado, but they always make a point to visit us on Thanksgiving. Now that we see each other but once a year I feel my niece and nephews are growing at warp speed. Her oldest is as tall as me! How did that happen? Her middle child is now interested in helping out in the kitchen. Say what? And her youngest has found his voice and become a bit of a comedian. I could waste my time focused on the time I don't have with them but instead I choose to focus on the fun memories we shared with the precious time we've been given.
Highs to remember:
* Olivia sharing her budding culinary skills with us.
* Seeing Natalie follow Olivia around like an adoring puppy.
* Sharing in some competitive fun with Hayden while playing washers.
* Watching Noah and Griffin engaged in a friendly Nerf war
* Griffin happy to be Noah's "assistant" while the two put together several LEGO sets.

Dig in!
Natalie, Grandma Mary and Hayden
The Gang (minus my brother and his family)

LEGO partners in crime.

This year's winner!

We started a new tradition of doing crafts together. This year the girls made boxes of elf donuts