Thursday, December 28, 2006

Oh, dear, I closed my eyes!

Christmas 2006

Christmas has come and gone for another year. It's hard after the holiday is passed to remember all the moments---glad, sad or downright hectic---that herald the big day. I thought I'd try to add a few pictures and short memories. The first photo is Trouble, sitting where she isn't allowed on the fireplace mantel. She's taken a shine to Miah's folk art Santa from the Merry Money store at the library.

Later in the week, Mom, the boys and I went to our local Kroger store to hear some Christmas music. Del and Gwen Clark gave us a lovely holiday break with their musical talents on the keyboard and spoons. Gwen writes a column in the Times Gazette, Clark Bar Devotions, and has been a tremendous help to us in beginning our
Cookies and Milk page.

These two wonderful senior citizens have never let age slow them down. They take their music, their bright smiles and cheerful faces into nursing homes every week. I hope someday to aspire to be just like them!

As one of the last people to buy our Christmas tree---a bare week before Christmas Eve, we got a great half price deal at Lowe's. The boys had a super time decorating it. Miah found the cutest garland--it has different colored stockings along it. Hanging among the tree branches it looks like a bunch of little elves have hung their stockings from the limbs. As the nutcracker fan in the family, Miah also found a set of nutcracker ornaments. Jarrod found a set of Star Wars to give it a futuristic touch. We also had ornaments from years past--the tree Jarrod painted as a four year old, Heather's clay finger print, the origami angels all the children made from doilies at the library and several that have been saved from my own childhood. One, a spun sugar looking covered wagon, can't be hung anymore but graced the mantel.

My only regret about this year's Christmas tree is that I haven't been able to find my special Christmas tree skirt. Several years ago, I took a bunch of old family photos from Christmas' past, scanned them onto iron on transfers and put them on a square of white muslin. I sewed a backing of red and green plaid, added a lacy ruffle and a space for the tree stand. With all the babies we've added the last few years, it's outdated. Thankfully, I can always add pictures in the white spaces.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The long week, the conclusion

By now, I'm pretty tired of thinking about the LONG WEEK. Friday turned out to be another hectic, holiday day. The boys had school at Leaves so while they were there, I managed to do several loads of wash. Thankfully, the laundromat was quiet and empty of patrons so I spent a pleasant couple of hours reading and writing. The clothes swished and dryed.

Only one minor glitch marred the otherwise calm setting. One washer set up a crazy dance in place, frenzied by the amount of wash inside. Or so it seemed. Had the same trouble last week with the same trouble. Still laugh at the expression on one older man's face as he noted the washer, looked at me as if to ask, "what are you doing to that POOR machine," and kept darting glances as if I should DO SOMETHING.

After the clothes were clean, I sat in the car and dashed out 1500 words in longhand on a WIP. It was a good feeling. The boys got out of school and we dashed into phase two of the day. Since it was a holy day and we were going to Mass, we had to wait to meet my sister so we could all ride together. The boys and I whiled away the time going to the library and the Dollar Store. We sat in the car, listening to Christmas songs on the radio, until we got our ride.

Going to church at night is always a pleasant ending to the day. We light by candlelight and it's lovely to have the glow shining out the stained glass windows, welcoming us inside.

Saturday started out as another fast paced day. I actually got to WRITE for an hour or so. Then we raced off to a program at the library--making gingerbread houses. We've been doing this for about five years and it never loses it fascination. The library staff spends a week gluing graham crackers into a house shape. The children each get icing and a bag of assorted candies to add to the tiny house. As an early Christmas present to myself, I paid off my library fine and we loaded up on videos and books. Emma waited for us at home with Grandma and we spent a happy evening watching Garfield cartoons. The boys had never seen Garfield's tv show, except for the Christmas special which they know by heart.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The long week---Part Two

Wednesday. Because all the children(remember there were six in the house) put out their shoes for St. Nick the night before, we woke at the bright hour of 6:45. Mostly to the shrieks of the child who did NOT get a mini skateboarder in his shoe. I managed to drag myself downstairs at 7:30 to semi-silence. The two year old had hidden himself in a corner with ALL the mini skateboarders. New gloves and toboggan hats were scattered all over the floor, as were broken pieces of candy cane. There is something truly indecent about stepping on a crunchy candy cane before 8 AM.

With the promise of a wonderful homeschool field trip ahead, we manged to get everyone to eat cereal, find pairs to the new gloves and get dressed warmly. The weather promised us 40 degrees and it did turn out to be a nice day. We were headed for the BEACH. Since Ohio weather prevents actual swimming during December, we were going to enjoy their Holiday Fest. For a reasonable group rate, we were able to ice skate (and yup, I went around twice without falling), a tractor driven hayride (the horses reserved for the paying customers at night,) a merry go round, paddle boat rides and the toboggan slide. Yes, that's me in the picture. I didn't realize until later that my hat was pulled up in a goofy point. None of the children pointed this out to me at the time--so I went around all day looking like something the elves kicked out of the North Pole. (No wonder the guy in the ticket booth said, no, I'll remember you, when I asked if I could go out to the car.)
We had a super good time, it stayed warm and I rushed home in time to go to the singing Christmas tree with a friend.
Thursday---Our guests were gone so we looked forward to a nice, relaxing day of schoolwork. (Some of us more than others.) We got a freak snowstorm so the boys were primed to work fast. The fact that the sun came out, melting some provided further motivation. They managed a skimpy snowman when they stopped to help Grandpa put Christmas lights on the porches.
This brings us to the annual "Lost Christmas Light Fiasco." Never, as long as I can remember have we EVER found the lights before Christmas without a search. Sometimes a long search. Sister #1 had hoped to avoid the annual repetition by buying news lights. Still, those lights were somewhere and by gum, the men in the family were going to find them. They tore up the basement going through about 50 plastic bins. The coat hall was next, then the search moved out to their domain--the garage and paper room.
We call it the paper room because about 20 years ago we use to roll newspapers in it. Now, it's crammed with everything from a piano, old bikes, bins and various cans of nails and rusty screws deemed too valuable to toss away. You can imagine their delight when one bin of Christmas lights marked "summer toys" was unearthed. The fact that only two stands of twenty worked did not diminish their pleasure. THEY WERE RIGHT and we had HIDDEN the lights.
I'm sure it's childish but I shall have my revenge. I KNOW where all the Christmas tree ornaments are!
The long week, Part 3 tomorrow. . . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A VERY Long Week--Part One

Last week turned into a very long, hectic, holidayish week. To give it full justice, now that I'm semi-recovered, I thought I'd divide it into parts.

Monday--I love Mondays. Usually. It's a chance to begin again, a new start to fix everything that went wrong the week before. That being said, it doesn't always work out that Monday is the best day of the week or the easiest. We began with school, moving along quite well. Things fizzled out of control very quickly when I had to stop to rush on errands in town. This is never good. Rushed to town, rushed home and got the boys moving. They go to the Knights club on Monday afternoon so we needed to leave. We technically had plenty of time to get there on time until we encountered an accident. Okay. We can be patient. We wait. And wait. And wait. Finally we are allowed to proceed on our way. Five minutes later, at another intersection we find another accident. Patience ebbs fast. We wait and wait and wait. We are now in the teeth grinding, we better get there on time or else, mode.

I make it five minutes before Fr. S. arrives. The boys jump out, eager to play games in the freezing cold. I rush to meet my cousin who needs me to pick up her boys. They jump in the car, we rush back to the park, they get out and I wait until I'm sure they have caught up with the group. Rush back to my cousin and we proceed to the Library where I sometimes volunteer with the Girls' group. My cousin and her daughter follow me.

In the interest of scouting up people to enter the December, "Cookies and Milk" contest, I ask if anyone wants a copy of our latest contest. They do. Run into the library from the meeting room and find the copier---the only copier--is OUT OF ORDER. And gee, everything was going so well up to that point!

The girls make Christmas cards. It's a relaxing activity after so much rushing. Later, I pick up the boys and my cousin decides to follow us home. Houseguests! Two of the boys ride with me and we listen to the Christmas music channel on the way home.

TUESDAY---All six children wake up early. Very early. Jarrod and Miah are ecstatic. Company to play with. No school work and a free day. I spend the day visiting, picking up, washing dishes and planning for a field trip the next day. My sanity ebbs fast. In the afternoon, my dear friend, Erica, calls and I'm able to make it through the rest of the night. THANKS! You'll never know how much I appreciated talking to someone over twelve, not crying, yelling or spilling toys.

Tuesday evening was the first night of the Merry Money store at our local library. This year the library decided to "pay" children for every 30 minutes they read during the holiday season. The fake bills--$1 for every 30 minutes--could be spent only on three dates at the library. Until we got there and saw the amount of merchandise, I had no idea it would be so well planned and such a blessing. The idea was for the children to purchase gifts for Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Teachers and siblings. Jarrod and Greg (his cousin), found several teacher gifts for their joint teachers at Leaves of Learning. (Despite several hints that I was his teacher 3 days a week, I don't think any of the nice mugs or sewing kits I pointed out made it into his shopping bag.)

Miah decided to get a nice tiara for Gemma (his cousin) because she hadn't signed up fo the program. He found a folk art Santa made from thread spools he couldn't resist for himself.

My Tuesday ended by going to the laundromat so we'd have warm clothes for our field trip the next day. Which brings me to the end of this post---conclusion in Part Two.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Found this quiz on the Ramblin' Writer blog and had to do it!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate and lots of whipped cream!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Under the tree in lovely, towering piles. Family gifts we wrap.

3. Colored or white lights on tree/house?
Whatever lasted from last year--but I love colored best.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
With all these kids and cats---no way!

5. When do you put up your decorations?
Outside early in Dec. The tree the week before Christmas since we use a live one.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Cole slaw.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, Dad would decorate the outside of our house with Christmas lights. My sister and I would go to bed early so we could watch the lights outside the window and sing Christmas carols.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I think I was around 11 when I stopped believing completely. Until then I really wanted there to be something truly magical in life and Santa fit the bill.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We use to go to my aunt's house and open one gift on Christmas Eve--usually new pjs. Now we go to church and open everything in the morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
I don't. I pass out the ornaments and let my nieces and nephews do the job. We take the Saturday before Christmas and go to a tree farm to cut it down. Bring it home and sometimes we play holiday music and drink hot chocolate.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? It's pretty to look at and now that I don't work outside in the winter--I may be able to enjoy it.

12. Can you ice skate?
My grandma bought me ice skates one year after I saw the Ice Capades. I wobbled all over creation. As a teen, I took my little sisters to a rink and found out I could skate if my skates were very tight. This Wednesday I'll find out if I still know how. Or not.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
A doll from the Sears catalog. I named her Elizabeth. She had a pink, silky dress, a red velvet coat and I got a white wooden doll cradle with it. It's the only thing I ever wanted so much I slept with the picture under my pillow.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Being with family, hearing from friends.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Anything--but I love chocolate covered cherries.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I love it all, but my favorites would be going to cut down the tree, taking the kids to the library to make gingerbread houses, watching Christmas movies and hearing the giggles on Christmas morning when the kids see the tree.

17. What tops your tree? A funny oblong star shape my Dad bought in a Dollar store and insists on buying repeats whenever the old one wears out.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. It's more fun to surprise other people.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
"Have Yourself a Merry, Little Christmas," even though it makes me cry and religious, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."

20. Candy Canes?