Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Wrap Up 2016

It was a Christmas morning miracle to wake up with two healthy kids. Prior to this, Noah spent four days in bed and we all crossed our fingers that the rest of us wouldn't come down (or up) with it, too. We began the morning by sinking our teeth into Steve's homemade Cinnabon-copycat rolls and watching the kids tear through their gifts (though not before each read their annual Christmas letters). While neither child believes a jolly, old elf visited our house, Noah asked me if I would still continue to leave a letter for them to open.

I love that kid.

In the afternoon we headed over to my parent's house to visit with extended family, gorge ourselves on meaty, cheesy, fatty things and play our annual game of BINGO. We play for fun, silly prizes and bragging rights to take home the coveted moose -- a jelly bean-pooping trophy engraved with the name of each year's winner. Thanks to my mother-in-law - we've added a rider to the moose -- an elf to feature the face of the previous year's winner.

It was a fun day, made even more interesting when extended family dropped in to say hello or join in for an impromptu game of Bean-boozled. Though I barely made it out of the game without losing my lunch -- all in all a good day.





Noah super excited to receive tix to see Rogue One at the Omnimax
Orange marmalade...it was on her list.

Nat made a cute, snowman ornament made from a battery-operated tealight.
Ella was only mildly amused with her new cozy blanket
After 40+ years of marriage...Dad knows just how to make her happy.



BINGO Booty







Jack is the Winner!


Bean Boozled after BINGO


Grandma and Grandpa with half of their grandkids
love to John, Renee, Tanner, Olivia, Hayden and Griffin

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sometimes Believing Is Seeing

For the past month our home has not exactly been what you'd describe as merry. Noah has been struggling adjusting to middle school and life. Meltdowns have been a plenty and convincing him -- a child who nearly matches me in height and weight that 'you must go to school' has been a challenge. One day I arrived at work so frazzled - but oblivious (until a kind co-worker pointed it out) that my shirt was on inside out.

Inside out...that's what I felt like.

When asked, "Mom, what do you want for Christmas?" My response was often, "peace".

But, to myself realized I also was in need of some wonder.

During the holiday season I've had a bit of Facebook envy towards my friends as they've shared posts of elf shenanigans, train rides to the North Pole and their children's letters to Santa. While I know Jesus is the reason for the season -- I miss the wonder and joy my children expressed as they marveled at the magic...in believing in something they've never actually seen -- like flying reindeer, pointy-eared elves, fairies and such.

Sometimes the grind of parenting and life can be tempered when paired with some magic and wonder -- both of which can be in short supply when you are middle-aged and your future path seems more rigid than flexible and is filled with more obligations than choices.
...like getting real about your child's potential
...meeting with lawyers to discuss setting up a special needs trust

However, this afternoon, wonder knocked at our front door... dressed in full-Rudolph the Reindeer attire with a plastic bag full of wrapped gifts for our family.

Shocked. My brain was unable to make sense of  things and with my mouth hanging open, I silently watched as a bit of magic wished me a Merry Christmas and then turned and headed back towards the road.

The packages were addressed to us individually and each one signed from "your secret Santa".

While no one in our home thinks reindeer can fly or fairies live in our garden -- today's visitor reminded me that life is still full of surprises and wonder.

Sometimes believing is seeing.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Deep Thoughts From Noah #76

Me: So...what should we get your Dad for Christmas this year?
Noah: Oooh! I know -- how about a Browning badge or a pin?
Me: Hmmm...I don't think he needs something else to remind him about his work.
Natalie: What about another turkey call?
Me: Um, no. My ears are still recovering from the last one.
Noah: What about bag pipes!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Musings From Natalie #134

Tonight after putting in a full day at work, Steve set out to plant Nat's tree...a birthday gift from her grandparents. A tree was her #1 birthday wish.

Me: "Where do you want us to plant it?"
Natalie: "Somewhere that I can sit under it and read a book."
"I love it! Now we just need to have a tree-naming ceremony!"



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cupcake Wars - Tween Style

Last Sunday we celebrated Natalie's entry into tweendom with a Cupcake Wars-inspired party.  I absolutely love creating parties for my kids and Nat has tested me with her ideas. However, for the last couple of years, I've actually tried to talk her out of having a homemade party because I worried about how to be relevant to 9 and 10 year olds who spend their afternoons on Snapchat and producing music videos on their iPads whereas I don't even know how to program my own phone.

But Nat would not be persuaded.

"Mom, your parties are the best."

Buoyed by her confidence in me -- I pressed on.

I decided to build the party around two of Natalie's favorite things:
#1 Creating stuff
#2 Baking

As the girls arrived I divided them into three teams. Each group was given a "party kit" filled with team aprons, craft supplies and an assortment of toppings and fillings to use for their challenges. Their first challenge was to create their company's name, logo, message. Next, they were charged with decorating a "store-front" using a cardboard tri-fold. Once complete, they were to work together to create a yummy filling using at least three ingredients from the "inspiration table". They also had to frost and decorate their cupcakes for their client: Willy Wonka. I asked them to imagine Mr. Wonka was announcing a new candy and they were competing for the chance to have their cupcakes served at his candy-release party.  For their final challenge, each team had to decorate cupcakes for a particular client:
* St. Louis Zoo - for the grand opening of their new bear exhibit
* Missouri Botanical Gardens - for their 158th birthday party bash.
* St. Louis Aquarium - for their grand opening event

The girls took their challenges very seriously. The room was a buzz with creativity and concentration. It almost seemed as though a switch had been pulled.

I breathed a sigh...

After all challenges had been completed, each team set up their displays and took turns describing their creations to the judge -- Noah.

It was such a fun afternoon. My only regret is that I didn't book the room for the entire afternoon! I know my time with my girl...these girls is waning. I'm just so grateful I was given another opportunity.