Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Brightening up others day for Christmas

Christmas is over and back to work.  Another long weekend starts this weekend.  I want to share some of our Christmas - mostly to document it for me.

Friday - We visited Charlie's grandparents at their nursing home.  His grandma has severe dementia and didn't know who we were.  That was tough.  But his grandpa was very happy we were there.  Laci sang for him.  The memory unit has a pet dog and Calvin was pretty happy playing with her.  The highlight was getting rides on his walker down the hall.  I'm so glad that we are able to visit them and bring joy to him. 
That evening, we went to visit his dad at rehab. It was a quick visit but I am glad we went.  Laci loved seeing Grandpa and Grandpa loved seeing the kids.

Saturday - Christmas 1.  We woke up at Charlie's mom's house and had Christmas morning with his mom and aunt.  After their traditional Christmas breakfast, it was present time!  That afternoon, Charlie's cousin and their kids came to visit for lunch.  Their daughter is Laci's age.  After a few moments getting to know each other, the girls were fast friends.  Lunch was snacks and appetizers and I grazed all day.  I had planned to get Chick-fil-a or make dinner for a "special Christmas Eve" dinner tradition but I was so full from snacking, we all ended up eating cereal and peanut butter sandwiches.  It was a special dinner alright.  :)  It was important to me to take the kids to Christmas Eve Church service but the 7:00 service was a little late for them and we spent most of the hour walking Calvin or entertaining Laci.  But it is still an important tradition to me.  My favorite line after we put Laci to bed was when she walked back to our room to ask a question.  "Is it going to snow tonight?"  It broke our hearts to have to say no.  She insisted that it had to snow for Christmas!  
Getting ready to open presents at Grandma's
He loved his new hoop

Sunday - Christmas morning was awesome.  I was in heaven sitting there as wrapping paper was flying through the room and toys were opened.  Some of the highlights:
- Laci saying O-M-G after opening every present.
- Laci tossing aside her new Leap Pad (her "big" gift) to play with her new $5 Ariel doll.
- Laci thanked me and hugged me after every single present she opened.
- The fact that Laci mentioned her new Princess underwear to every relative that called that day.  Who knew the underwear would be such a hit! 
- I loved that the first thing Laci did when we came downstairs that morning was not look at everything she got but she made Calvin open the gift she gave him.  He loved it Rockin' Mickey Mouse.
- Having to take a break of opening presents to give Calvin a banana.  
- Christmas breakfast - everyone got their favorite "exotic" fruit that they don't normally get in winter - Blueberries for Calvin, Pineapple for Charlie and Pears for Laci.  
- Taking a family walk while Laci tried out her new bike.
- Charlie spent over an hour assembling the new rocking horse for Calvin and another half an hour putting training wheels on Laci's new bike.  The joy on their faces made it all worth it!
- After the excitement of the presents, Laci chose Christmas dinner as the perfect time to throw a enormous tantrum!  Charlie, Calvin and I enjoyed turkey, broccoli, mashed potatoes and homemade strawberry applesauce on the good china with sparkling cider in our wine glasses.  Laci screamed and threw things under the table.  At least it was memorable. 
Laci is under the table screaming.  Charlie looks nice. :)

Monday - Christmas 3.  We drove to my sister's house for Christmas with my family.  More cousins.  Lots more gifts and presents.  Laci had a big sleepover with her cousins that night.  She loved it.  We came home yesterday through snow.  I freaked out a bit but we all made it home fine.  Laci loved playing in the 1" of snow.  The next task on my list - finding places for all the new toys and putting away new clothes. 
I am really looking forward to the 4 day weekend coming up.  I love that we have no where to go and no where to be but just to have fun and be together.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sunday Nights

I've written about Sunday mornings.  I've written about Sunday afternoons.  This week, I had a great Sunday night.  Sunday really is my favorite day of the week.  Right now, it's a family day.  We do our errands on Saturday.  On Sunday morning, I review the schedule with Laci - after church, Mom and Dad's responsibility is to clean.  Calvin's job is to nap.  Laci's job is to play.  I love that she has an afternoon just to play.  She doesn't have many of those open times to do that.  If the weather is nice, we try to take a family walk too.  This week, it was.  Dinners are usually simple on Sundays.  Last night we had ramen noodles, soup, hot dogs and applesauce.  The applesauce ended up all over Calvin's head, floor and clothes.  Off to the bath they both went. 

Sunday evenings are special too.  Part of our bedtime routine is play time in our bedroom.  Rarely do all four of us get to play.  Calvin loves playing on our bed - mainly jumping up and down.  When he gets tired, he jumps less and he just lays there on the bed with his head down.  Then we read a few books with him.  Last night, we played Fashion Show.  Laci loves to do this.  She goes in my closet and puts shoes, belts, bags, hats on.  When she walks out, I clap and describe what she is wearing.  If I have ever wondered why I bought so many shoes that I never wear, I now know that the answer is so Laci can play Fashion Show.  My high heels that I have never worn are her favorite.  She calls them the TaDa shoes - as in, she poses and says "TaDa!".  Last night, Calvin played with her.  He had no idea what she was doing.  But he would come out of the closet carrying the same bag.  I would clap for him and he would walk back into the closet.  It was so cute and fun.  Charlie was reading the paper but he clapped at the appropriate time too.  It was so nice to just be together and play.  I had to pause a moment to take it all in.  These are my memories.  

Laci doesn't take a nap Sunday afternoons so she is pretty tired by bedtime.  Therefore, Sunday bedtimes are much more pleasant and she goes to sleep a little earlier.  It's nice to have a little time to myself to unwind and watch TV before passing out asleep like I do most nights!

This time of year must remind me a lot of my childhood.  Last night, I was remembering a game I used to play with my brothers occasionally on Sunday evenings.  My younger brother and I would sit on our bed and turn off the lights.  Our older brother would come in and try to get us in the dark.  The bed was "safe".  I remember the feeling of terror of getting caught so I would just sit on the bed.  My younger brother was braver and would venture off the bed and run around the room as our older was the "monster" chasing him.  So simple but so memorable.  Sometimes I remember these memories and times as a kid and I am reminded that my children are building these memories right now.  I wonder what silly games my kids will play that they will remember as adults.  

If Calvin wakes up from his nap on time, he loves cleaning too! 
The broom is his favorite.  I hope he doesn't outgrow this!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Peanut Brittle

I got my dad some Peanut Brittle for Christmas.  He loves Peanut Brittle.  Whenever I see Peanut Brittle, I think of him and Christmas growing up.  I often got him peanut brittle for Christmas.  Now as a parent, I am wondering if he likes peanut brittle at all.  

A few weeks ago, I was shopping with my niece.  I asked her what I should get her mom.  Her answer was "Lotion, my mom loves lotion.  I always get her lotion because she told me that she loves it when I get it for her."  I thought that was the sweetest thing I ever heard.  Because I know that my sister does not like lots of lotion.  For her daughter to honestly believe that her mom loves the lotion she gets for her tells me that my sister is doing something right.  It's not the lotion my sister loves.  It's that the lotion came from her daughter.  

Maybe my dad hates peanut brittle.  Maybe he loves it.  But I know he will love it that I got it for him...  even if I am all grown up now.  I really know what it means now.  Sometimes I feel more like his little child as a grown up than I did as a little child who couldn't wait to grow up.  Just like Laci and Calvin will always be my little children.. even when they are all grown up.  This is why I know Charlie will love the pliers and bright yellow stocking cap that Laci picked out for him for Christmas.  He will run every morning wearing that hat with pride.   

Hmmm, now I wonder how my dad feels about the Pineapple Upside Down cake we made him every year for his birthday.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Vocabulary and Behavior Milestones

The kids are both hitting milestones in vocabulary.  Calvin's is increasing every day.  Ball was his first word, followed by Hi and Uh-Oh.  Uh-oh has a long pause between the two words, usually when he drops something.  He has gotten good at Bye Bye (complete with a wave) and has a special word for Balloon (B'oon) too.  He is definitely working on more words and more importantly, copying our inflections.  He's trying.  Banana and Apple are big ones that he is working on too.  Right now, he is very into music too.  He loves to turn on music toys and dance to them, much more than Laci ever did at that age.  His favorite toys are also from the musical instrument box, mostly the recorder, tin can and bean tambourine.  He understands us very well and it is so nice that we can give him direction and he can follow.  

The big behavior milestone that he has hit is Tantrums!  The last few nights when we get home (the witching hour) have been bad.  He just launches into these crazy screaming, roll around on the floor fits that last for 20 - 25 minutes.  I just walk away until he is done.  He tries to hide in the pantry (it's a closet, not a walk in pantry) and will hide in the corner or roll all over the kitchen.  Little things just set him off.  I talked to one of his teachers and she said he's been doing it at school too.  I talked to his afternoon teacher and she suggested giving him a time out when he does that.  She said he hates time outs.  I have never been very successful with time outs, especially when Laci was that age.  But last night, when he started his fit, I put him in the corner for a minute.  He cried the entire time, walked away once (Laci was supervising him) but when the minute was up, he was fine.  I couldn't believe it worked.  I hope it continues to work until he is through this little phase.  He's really been struggling the last couple of weeks with his molars coming in.  So I am blaming the teeth right now.  After he calms down from his tantrums, we have a little dance from his music bus. 

Sorry for the upsidedownness - he's not floating
but he is trying to get into the pantry!

Laci's vocabulary is also increasing.  She is learning bigger words and now asks about their meaning.  She recently asked what "Jealous" means.  Sometimes she uses it correctly, sometimes she doesn't.  Last night she told me that she is jealous of all the presents Daddy has under the tree.  She doesn't have any yet because I haven't wrapped them yet.  But she also told Charlie that she is jealous of a friend of hers at school because he brings a toy every day which is odd because she also brings a stuffed animal to school everyday.  She asked me what "embarrassed" means yesterday.  I struggled with a definition for a 4 year old so I settled with "ask your dad".  

Reading and spelling are our next challenge.  Laci is trying so hard to read and spell.  She is good at the words "red", "bug" and "log".  Charlie's dad asked why she wrote the words "red" and "bug" on his Get Well Soon card and the simple answer is because those are the only words she can spell by herself.  That was a week ago and the number of words she can spell seems to increase every day.  She is constantly asking me how to spell things so she can write them down.  But the English language is so tricky that it is hard sometimes to explain it to her.  Why does "one" start with a O instead of a W (won).  Why does "know" start with a K.  Why does  "light" have a G in it.  She is getting better at sounding out words, especially when she is trying to spell a word.  Sometimes when we are reading books, I pause and point to a word and ask her to try to sound it out.  Once I asked her if she was reading it or just remembered it from the last time we read it.  She just giggled.  So far she seems to be an audio learner and can spell and sound things out by talking.  I am a terrible audio learner and can only comprehend things if I can see it.  If someone reads a book or passage to me, I can't understand what they are saying.  I need to visually see the words.  I am curious what kind of learners they will turn out to be. 

At school, they are learning about hygiene.  She has demonstrated to me the proper way to wash her hands.  She also explained that after they use the restroom, when they come out and give a friend a high five, they are spreading germs.  I laughed at the image of the kids coming of the restroom and high five-ing.  I am trying to work on learning humility with her too.  She seems to have lots of confidence right now (good) but sometimes is too bold about it (bad).  They get stars on the board if they do something good.  Each day, the child with the most stars get a treat from the surprise box.  More often than not, she wins the treat.  I'm glad that she wants to achieve but she needs to learn some humility too and to encourage each other.  I praise her for doing well and make sure that we praise her friends for doing well also.  I remind her that when she does something well, she doesn't need to tell everyone about it all the time.  Bragging about her is her mother's job. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to start traditions

I love traditions.  Holiday traditions, daily traditions, all of it.  I love watching the traditions in my little family evolve.  I love taking a little bit of Charlie's traditions and a little bit of my traditions and making our own.  This time of year I find myself struggling because I want the "perfect" traditions for my little family.  Patience.  I need patience to watch my family grow.  I realized a few years ago that we do have our own holiday traditions.  We used to celebrate our Christmas on Christmas Eve Eve before we went to Charlie's parents for Christmas eve/day.  We celebrate my family on Dec. 26.  We always went to the same pizza place on Dec. 23.  We decorate cookies in December.  Weather permitting, we go to the Christmas parade Thanksgiving weekend.  We spend an evening driving around looking at Christmas lights. 

This is our second year of doing Christmas Eve and Day at our house.  I want everything to be "perfect".  I pride myself that my "perfect" is imperfection. A little kooky.  Right now, we have 4 totally different stockings on the mantle.  One really nice one for Calvin that my MIL made.  The one I had as a baby that was replaced when my brother was born so we could have matching ones.  One I randomly found for Charlie.  And a cheap 97 cent one for Laci that I bought her first Christmas with the plans to replace it when a sibling came to match.  Laci was concerned the other day that Daddy's and her stocking's don't have their names on it.  How will Santa know which is which?  So she wrote her name with a gold pen on the stocking.  I love the imperfect unmatching stockings.  My MIL made us all matching ones over the years that I could probably ask for but I would rather keep the kooky ones.  

I decided at the store the other day that I am going to have the kids pick out one new Christmas Cookie Cutter every year.  Last year, I borrowed a friends cookie cutter and the only ones I have is a Christmas tree and a Gingerbread Man.  Laci picked out a Gingerbread House cookie cutter this year.  The cookie cutter tradition may be in lieu of the new ornaments that some people pick out each year.  

The part that I am struggling with now is the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners.  Growing up, our tradition was KFC before going to church Christmas eve.  We always got to open one present before church.  We spent days picking out the perfect gift to open.  But we usually had to check with our mom because she often wanted us to open a new skirt or tie to wear to church that night.  The kids all slept in one room Christmas night and then woke up super early to presents from Santa.  They were never wrapped and we could start playing right away.  Then we all started helping with the big Christmas meal - Turkey, broccoli corn bake, crescent rolls, relish tray, lemonade, jello salad, etc.  Later that night, we watched a movie, played and ate turkey sandwiches.  Charlie's family has Chicken Velvet soup for Christmas Eve dinner.  Lately, we have had it when we got home from church.  Christmas morning, they opened stockings, then had a nice Christmas breakfast of egg/sausage casserole and winter fruit compote before exchanging gifts.  Their big Christmas meal was later in the day - beef tenderloin, asparagus, salad and always ending with peppermint ice cream pie.  I am not sure how they did it as children but that is Christmas since I have been a part of the family.

Last year, we had Christmas with his family on Christmas Eve.  We celebrated "Christmas" that morning and exchanged gifts.  Then his cousin and his family came over along with Charlie's grandparents for a nice Christmas Eve lunch.  We had done this with them the last several years.  We left by 3 in time to get home to start our own thing, not knowing what our own thing will be.  We ended up with Chick-Fil-A for dinner.  Hmm, maybe that could be our Christmas Eve dinner.  KFC was good enough for me growing up.  :)  Or should we do something fancier like Chicken Velvet soup?   We had a nice lunch and then frozen pizza for dinner.  I loved the simplicity and ordinariness of frozen pizza after a fancy Christmas dinner.  We haven't been to church for the last several Christmas Eves due to weather, tiny children, etc.  I never though in a million years I would ever not attend a Christmas Eve church service but life happens.  I hope we can get back to that this year.  

This year, our Christmas Eve plans are supposed to be the same with Charlie's cousin and aunt.  His grandparents aren't doing well so we were hoping to all visit them in their nursing home Christmas Eve Eve.  But things change in an instant.  Last week, my FIL had a really bad accident and hurt his leg.  He has been in and out of the hospital this past week and they aren't sure how he will be by next week.  The family Christmas plans are on hold.  I want to make it my mission to save Christmas for my MIL.  She loves "perfection".  She loves things to match, to be formal, to just be "perfect".  It is the complete opposite of me.  I told Charlie that I will do whatever I can to make sure she had her "perfect" Christmas and that my FIL is feeling better.  

I still don't have a Christmas dinner menu in mind for my family.  But I want one thing - to eat on our good china. You know, the dishes that sits in the china cabinet all year and are never used.  The menu may be very simple and ordinary.  I have small, picky children.  I am a simple cook.  It might be beef tenderloin.  It might be turkey.  It might be a pot roast.  I would love to hear other people's traditions when it comes to dinners.  But by golly, we are having a nice Christmas Day Dinner on our good china, wine glasses with candles!  With frozen pizza for supper.

Questioning Calvin's Parentage

The other day, I couldn't help but question Calvie's parentage.  He can actually self-regulate himself on cookies!  I offered him a cookie when we got home from school.  He rejected the cookie and gobbled up raisins!  I have never rejected a cookie in my entire life.  Yesterday, I gave him a banana and he rejected it.  Then I offered him some brownie.  He ate a few bites and started dancing!  I thought, "Yeah, he is mine!"  Then he stopped eating the brownie and went back and ate the entire the banana.  I have no will power or self control.  He must get that from his father.  
This is a step stool I made many years ago. 
Calvie has claimed it as his snack table. 
No one else is allowed to use it. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Joy of Giving

I love this time of year.  Laci is at such a great age for Christmas.  I love doing the Christmas-y stuff with her - decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, etc.  I was always given tons and tons of toys and gifts at Christmas.  Looking back, it was too much.  I am working so hard to not spoil her too much.  But it is so hard to not get too much when there is so much great stuff out there to get.  It's hard to determine what is too much.  

Laci told me last night that Christmas is about giving.  She learned that at school.  I am glad she knows that.  I want to teach my kids all aspects of Christmas besides the gifts and Santa - Jesus, Giving, Traditions, Family, etc.  Every year I get an angel from the church tree.  I want Laci to participate in shopping and giving for others but she hasn't shown much interest yet.  We do Advent Candles every night at dinner.  I would like to get a small devotional for families / children to do with them, maybe next year.  So we just say a prayer.  She loves lighting the candles and every night begs to light the pink one.  It's hard to remind her to wait until this Sunday!  This has actually gotten her to eat dinner at the table with us, something I have struggled with lately.  I might keep candles at the table year round.  One of our family traditions was to always the light the advent candle at church on the second week.  This year we have a new pastor and families are not lighting the Advent candles.  I don't have an issue with change and I like what he has done.  But he killed our family Christmas tradition!  I laughed because this year on the second Sunday he lit the Advent candles with the 4 year old class.  So at least one Hart got to participate.  I wish I had better pictures but I just gotten a new phone and didn't know how to zoom.  Fortunately, an older lady at McDonald's was able to teach me later that afternoon. 

We also have the Little People Nativity Set.  The kids love it.  Calvin is just starting to like Little People and Laci loves any kind of small playsets.  I am having the most fun with the set and I love adding everyone to visit Baby Jesus - Sleeping Beauty, Dora, fairies, pigs, etc.  

I also want to teach the kids to give to each other.  This weekend, I told Laci that she can pick something out for Calvin and Calvin will pick something out for her.  She told me that she will shop in the baby section and Calvin should go to the Princess / Barbie section.  I will also have her pick something out for Charlie.  This morning, Charlie asked her what she wanted to get me for Christmas.  She has an idea that he said he is discouraging or "tweaking".  He didn't tell me what it is.  He did say that she is continuing to beg him to get me a fish for my birthday.  My birthday is in May and she has been asking to give me a fish for my birthday since before my last birthday.  He was hoping she would forget.  She doesn't forget anything.  I told him to go ahead and get me a small fish tank and fish for my birthday.  We aren't pet people but I think we can handle a fish.  

To me Christmas is about the entire month of December and all the activities to get ready for it and not just the day.  I love watching our families traditions evolve and new ones continue or start every year.  I am sure I will have more as the month continues.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The McDonald's Drive Thru Window - Would you like a Laci with that?

I have a huge, heart stopping, lock myself in the house, phobia of winter weather.  Snow and Ice.  I know this sounds ridiculous from someone that grew up in Chicago.  It snows there.  It snows a lot.  We didn't have 2 hour delays.  We didn't have school closings.  We drove in the snow.  Sometimes to calm my fears, I think back to the day my junior year where it snowed 6" while we were at school.  We all cleared our cars off together, almost having a little party.  We all got home safe.  

I live further south now.  I learned that means one thing - ICE!  The temperatures here hover too close to 30 - 32 degrees.  ICELAND!  I have had two scary days driving that haunt me.  One is when Laci was 15 months old.  It was the day before Christmas eve.  It started to ice while I was at work.  The drive home was one of the scariest days I have ever had.  We live in a neighborhood that is just outside of town.  It is a lot of county roads.  I took a county road thinking it would be more cleared off than the neighborhoods.  I was wrong.  That is before I learned about drifting snow and open roads.  It was a sheet of ice.  It was terrifying.  But we made it home.  We cancelled our usual Christmas Eve Eve dinner at a local pizza place for Papa John delivery that night.  To class it up for Christmas, we ate on our good china with candles.  

Scary day two - the scariest day ever.   Three days later, Dec. 26.  We were driving from my in-laws to my sister's to celebrate Christmas.  It is only an hour drive.  My sister has a son Laci's age so I didn't need snacks, toys, etc.  The weather was 32 and misty that morning but the high was to be 40 that day.  We started off and skidded after a few miles.  But it was supposed to warm up so we continued on.  That was a mistake.  We got on the highway and it continued to get worse and worse.  We were barely idling at this point.  Charlie didn't want to pull over because he was afraid we would be a sitting duck for other people to slide into.  Every half mile we passed someone in the ditch.  I was terrified.  Finally they closed the highway.  We were stuck.  We sat on the highway for 2 hours.  I was stuck in a car with a 15 month old, no snacks, no toys and no idea how long we would be there.  She slept for a little bit.  I started pulling out Christmas gifts to entertain her.  Finally they opened the highway.  We went two miles and got off at the next exit and stopped by McDonald's to eat and breathe.  But our adventure wasn't over yet.  The parking lot was a sheet of glass, too!  I scooted my way to the door and used the building to balance.  Charlie had Laci and couldn't get to the building to hold on.  I suddenly saw Laci go into the Drive Thru Window!  I ran inside to see her sitting at the counter.  The drive thru attendant had offered to bring her in safely.  I waited for Charlie because I wanted them to hand her off to him because that is who gave them to.  It was crazy there but the place had a community feel.  Everyone was sharing stories about their horrid trip - where they were going, where they came from, how long they waited on the highway.  Those last 25 miles took another hour.

I have since learned the "good" roads to drive on bad weather.  I know the county roads that have trees near them to block the blowing snow.  I have learned that neighborhoods are better for me to drive through because you can drive slower and people have carved out a path.  But my fears are not relived.  I feel ridiculous because some people love the winter weather so much.  We drove to Delaware at New Years a few years ago and we struggled driving through the mountains in a little snow.  Cars were flying by us and we were terrified!  Right now, with the exception of work, I do NOT go anywhere when there is weather.  I used to not be like this and I remember driving in many snow storms and survived.  The one car accident I have ever had was on an icy day on the highway.  Right now I have a count down of days left until April 1, my safety day.  I am glued to the radar when there is any chance of snow.  I am a ball of knots going to sleep not knowing what I will wake up to.  I am going to have to learn to get past this.  Someday the kids are going to have places to go.  I can't have them say to their coaches "Sorry I missed practice last night.  My mom is crazy and locks herself in the house when it snows." 

Speaking of McDonald's, Laci and I had a "girl's date" Saturday to get their $1 hot chocolates and to celebrate setting up the Christmas Tree.  While she was waiting for hers to cool, she asked if she could go by herself to get apples because we still had some coupons from Halloween.  Of course, I followed along because I don't completely let her do things herself.  I only let her think she is by herself.  I snapped this picture because she looked cute, tiny and grown up at the same time.  If you notice, she is wearing another Christmas jumper, with a white long sleeve shirt.  This is what she picked out to wear when I said we were going grocery shopping that morning.  I always think it is funny when I am running errands in jeans and a t-shirt while my daughter is all dressed up.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting Dressed and Following Directions

Sometimes Laci is so sweet, innocent and adorable I want to just eat her up.  Tonight was one of those nights.  We had a Christmas party after work so we came home quickly to change.  I told her she had to go upstairs and put a dress on.  I could only remember the two new jumpers she had that she refused to wear a shirt under.  so I told her that she had to wear a white shirt under her dress.  It's too cold out tonight to be without anything on her arms.  When we got upstairs, she went to her room, shut the door and told me she didn't need my help.  I was wondering what she would put on.  Some of her choices are pretty original.  She came out with a dress and legging set that I had forgotten my mother had got her.  The best part of her outfit is that she had a long sleeve white shirt under it!  I looked in her room and her drawer was wide open and she had flung all of her clothes everywhere to find a white shirt - like I had asked her too!  She had also pushed her rocking chair over to the closet to reach her new dresses.  I couldn't believe she followed my directions.  She complained that the dress was a little tight over the shirt and I said she didn't need to wear the shirt.  She reminded me that I told her she needed a white shirt.  I was so impressed and tickled pink that she listened and dressed herself - in a dress and legging set that matched! 

We went downstairs to leave and she had to run back up to get something.  The second time she came downstairs wearing a paper crown we had made for her birthday party.  She noticed that it wasn't the one she made so she made one more trip upstairs and came down with her Princess tiara on.  Princess Laci would be attending this party.  I loved her creativity and let her wear the tiara to the party.  She was adorable and I was so proud!

The Annual Christmas Letter - My gift to My Children

On my wedding day, my mom gave me a binder filled with laminated copies of all of the family Christmas letters going back to 1968 - their first Christmas together.  I read all of the letters and realized that these letters are a journal of our family's life together.  I love pulling out the binder and rereading them.  My favorites are the year I was born, the year I was married, the years my children joined our big family.  I soon realized that documenting my family is going to be very important to me and the biggest gift I am going to give my children.  I wanted to follow the tradition my mother started and I also started writing a Christmas letter the first year.  The first few years may have been a little boring to others.  The purpose of my Christmas letter is to document my family's year.  Filling in all of our friends and families on our activities is just a bonus.  

I don't know why I can't turn this but here is the page for 2010.
I keep a Family Journal of what we do each year.  It's nothing fancy, just a small dimestore (love that word!) notebook.  About once a month, I write down things we did that month.  I also add the kids milestones, birthday gifts given and received, etc.  I also love scrapbooking.  I mentioned earlier the family scrapbook with one page for each year.  I love this book and I love watching the kids grow in one location and not having to thumb through lots of albums.  The reason I started the Family Journal was so I could easily update the Family Album each September (our anniversary).  I also keep a shoebox under my bed for ticket stubs, programs, etc. to add to the family album page.  Each child has a really nice First Year Scrapbook.  Laci has three now for her first three years.  Then Calvin was born.  After his first year album, I am a little burned out on scrapbooking.  I hope I get back to it.  I still print out the pictures periodically and file them in envelopes.  The extra church offering envelopes are great for this purpose.  I can write the activities and stories on the envelope and back of the pictures.  Later, I can easily go back and put the pictures in scrapbooks.  I have thought about digital scrapbooking but I am not quite there yet for the kids.  I have made several digital scrapbooks for other occasions.  I like to use the kids artwork and crafts as the backgrounds for the scrapbook.  I keep several pictures and date them so I can add them to the appropriate pages.  Maybe when the kids get older, I will go to the digital albums. :)

I still don't know why I can't turn it.
This is the first year I did.  Not a lot of detail yet.

I really like this page of Laci's.  It has both her crafts
and all of the valentines she got that year in school.

One of the greatest gifts I can give to our children is memories and time spent together.  Unfortunately, memories fade.  So my mission is to capture them and keep them forever.  I look forward to presenting our family history to our children on their wedding days - the day their own families begin.