Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning was perfect.  Looking back, Christmas morning was perfect.  In the middle of it, everything was going wrong. 

We had spent the two days before Christmas at Charlie's parents house.  His mom had been sick for days with that horrible stomach flu that was going around.  I just prayed no one in our house would get it.  At about 5 pm that night, Laci was on the couch and clearly didn't feel well.  After discussing not going to church, she said she felt well enough to go.  She had her new doll dressed up for church and needed to go show her off.  At about 1:30 a.m., Laci cried out for me and got sick.  I felt so bad as she was brushing her teeth after throwing up saying "I don't want to be sick on Christmas!!!"  It broke my heart.  As any mother does, I jumped in bed to sleep with her and make her feel better.  She didn't sleep well the rest of the night and constantly cried out for me.  At 7, I heard Calvin and got up.

As I walked out of her room, I noticed it was pretty cold.  I checked the themostat and it said it was 60 degrees.  Our furnace was broken!  On Christmas morning.  Charlie and I are not good at these situations and started freaking out.  We both stood next to the furnace without any idea of what we should do.  We called the furnace company and they said they would call us back but they could come look at it today.  We smelled gas but assumed that it was from the broken furnace.  But I am scared of gas and after the explosions at Richmond Hill, I wasn't taking any chances.  We called the gas company and they said they would send someone out and we should leave the house.  So now it is Christmas morning, Laci is sleeping and sick, Calvin is happy watching Dora, we have no heat and were told to leave the house.  We went to the neighborhood clubhouse so Charlie could get his run in (1486 days and counting!).  It was the saddest thing ever to wake your child up on Christmas morning and walk right by their presents from Santa to leave the house. 

Sidenote - I mentioned before doing things differently from the way I did it growing up - My Santa didn't wrap his gifts and we always played with our Santa toys and stocking gifts before our parents woke up.  My kids Santa wraps his gifts and we all go down together to open presents. 

The gas company came within 20 minutes and the kids and I left to go let him in.  He was very nice and gave the house the All Clear.  Whew... one problem solved.  He also looked at the furnace and said that it was probably just a broken ignitor, an easy fix.  We turned on the gas fireplace. 

Charlie came home and we had our Christmas morning... a little later than planned but it was still only 8:30.  The excitement of the morning kept Laci going.  We played with the stocking toys, Santa's gifts and opened all the presents.  Calvin actually skipped 4 of his gifts but eventually found them later that afternoon.  But by 10:30, she was sick again.  She threw up and was back on the couch.  It was so sad to see her pile of new toys and see her stuck on the couch.  Fortunately, Santa came through and she could watch her new DVD of Annie. 

At 11:30, the furnace repairman came and it was an easy fix.  I am so thankful for people who volunteer to work on Christmas Day.  He lived  nearby so we were the first service call.  We had heat again.  Two problems solved.

I planned a supereasy Christmas dinner - all from Omaha Steaks.  This is breaking tradition and is not the turkey dinner I grew up with.  It was awesome.  I just had to pop the twice baked potatoes and steak in the oven.  I cooked carrots.  I got out the pineapple and blueberries (one of our new traditions is that everyone gets their favorite out of season fruit for Christmas.  Calvin's is blueberries, Charlie's is pineapple.)  Bam Christmas dinner was done.  After the crazy morning, I didn't bother with getting out the good china like I planned.  Laci didn't eat anything.  Calvin had chicken nuggets.  It was a great Christmas dinner. 

By 2:00 Laci was feeling better and back to her regular self.  Third problem solved.

Did I mention a blizzard was predicted for Wednesday.  The day we were planning to drive to my sister's to celebrate with my family?  Since the heat was back on and Laci was feeling better, we decided to go to her house on Tuesday night and miss the storm and come home Thursday as originally planned.  The storm didn't turn out to be as bad as predicted and we got home fine on Thursday.  Whew.... fourth problem solved.  Christmas really was a perfect day!

Christmas Eve

I had really high hopes for Christmas Eve church service and all of our "traditions".  I love Christmas traditions and I love making them up as I go.  I am a pretty stuck in my ways and not-flexible on so many things that I have really surprised myself in how we do Christmas.  I thought I would do Christmas like I did when I was a kid. But I do very little of those traditions.  I love our traditions now and the way we do them. 

The week before Christmas, I started listening to Christmas music.  Silent Night is one of my favorites. Christmas Eve church service is one of my favorite times of year.  The candles and Silent Night at amazing.  I had dreams of sitting in the church pew with Calvin on my lap and Laci sitting beside me reading along in her Bible the Christmas story as they read the Scriptures.  We would sing together.  We would hold our candles high together.  What dream world am I living in?!?   Christmas Eve was nothing like that.

Charlie volunteered to usher that night.  I had to sit in the church pew with both kids by myself.  My kids don't normally go to church services and are not used to it.  Laci went to church with us the day before and she is just now at the point where she can sit quietly and color or listen for an hour.  Calvin is not there at all.  Laci wanted to sit in the second row down front.  I hate sitting that close. But the church was filling up so everyone was sitting down front.  We ended up being crowded in a pew with a couple for our small group and their parents.  Calvin was on my lap.  He did okay for the first 20 minutes coloring in his new books.  Not coloring books but coloring quietly in his regular books. I emphasize quietly so I allowed it.  But after about 20 minutes, he wanted to run up and down the aisles.  I gave up and took him to the back.  Charlie was nice enough to take him from me so I could sit back with Laci.

Laci can't read the Bible yet so of course she was not following along in the Bible as they read the Scriptures as she did in my dream.  But she did sit there very quietly and stood to sing with us at the right time.  At the end of the service, as they were getting ready to light the candles, I went back to get Calvin again so Charlie could help light the candles.  I went back to my seat, held my baby (I mean, big boy), hugged my little girl and we held candles high and sang Silent Night.  At least I had that moment.  That moment was enough to salvage my perfect Christmas Eve. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I have mentioned before that I am not Martha Stewart.  There are very few domestic bones in my body.  I can't cook, decorate or bake.  But for one day a year, I try.  Saturday was my attempt.  Laci and I made Christmas cookies!  We didn't make dozens and dozens like some families do or 4 or 5 different kinds.  We made 2 dozen cut out cookies and frosted them.  We were worn out with that small amount.  We used my MIL's recipe.  We didn't even make our own frosting.  We did color it but I only had yellow and red food coloring.  We had sprinkles.  We had fun.

We did this last year too.  It was fun because Laci remembered doing it last year.  And she wanted to do it like we did last year.  Yeah - a tradition was born!  She wore my apron.  She helped me roll out the dough.  She ate lots of dough.  She cut out the cookies and could even transfer them to the cookie sheet herself.  She frosted the cookies and put sprinkles on them. 
After we made the cookies, we did chocolate dipping.  We made chocolate covered pretzel rods and chocolate covered oreos.  I dipped.  She sprinkled.  We made a giant mess.  The goodies look ridiculous but taste good.  But we talked about all the people that are important to her that she is making the goodies for - Calvin's teachers and her YMCA before and after school care workers.  We made a huge mess.  We had a great time.  
Right after I got the mess cleaned up and sat down to catch my breath, Calvin was crying from his nap.  Next year, I get to have twice the fun and twice the memories because he will get to join in.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My life on ... a Christmas Tree?

I love the Christmas tree and all the ornaments.  As I sat on the floor today looking at all the ornaments, I realized my life is in my ornaments.  There are ornaments from vacation, the year we were married, our first house, our current house, pictures of the kids as babies, etc.  There is even a picture of me as a kindergartner.  Every ornament has a story.  When I got that ornament, who gave me that ornament, why I got that ornament, etc.  There are several L and C ornaments on the tree that used to stand for Charlie and me. Now they are Laci and Calvin's ornaments.  We have ornaments from my childhood and ornaments from Charlie's.  Now the kids are starting to make ornaments at school and they love showing them off.  My Survivor ornament that plays the theme song is their favorite.  Their pictures are plastered over the tree too and they have their favorite ornaments that they can pull out every year.  The tree is their life too.

Last year several people on facebook shared an ornament a day.  I loved that.  I loved seeing everyone's life in ornaments and what is special to them.  I love that my life is saved and displayed on a Christmas tree and every year I can reminisce about those special moments.

Will I remember it all?

My children are growing up too fast.  I know it is cliche but it is true.  I feel like we are already onto the "next phase".  With about 10 more phases to go.  We are done with the baby stuff and transitioning out of diapers, cribs, etc. It's not an overnight process but it will be so strange to not be buying diapers, pull ups and wipes.  It will be so strange not to have a crib in the house. 

I look at their little faces and pray that as they grow, I remember all of these moments.  I take pictures.  I keep a family journal of what we do every month.  I scrapbook.  But is it enough?  Will I remember the sayings, the moments, the faces?  The other night I was tucking Laci into bed and watched her arrange all 25 of her stuffed animals.  It's quite a process.  She knows where each ones goes and cries out if she can't find them.  She is their shepherd.  Will I remember these days when she is a teenager and there aren't any stuffed animals left?  Last night, Calvin was so proud of himself for putting his coat on by himself - only to have it on upside down with the hood on his bottom.  These are the moments I love.  Right now they both fit in my lap.  That won't last for long.  But I will keep them on my lap as long as I can.  There will always be room for them both. 

It all goes so fast.  I can't wait for each new phase and I love watching them grow into the people they are meant to be.  But I just want to keep them small and remember each moment forever.

I've got the joy wiggles

Lately, I have been pretty wiggly.  I don't know if it is the coffee or the Christmas season.  But I am wiggly.  At work I'm wiggly.  I just want to dance around the office.  Skip down the hallway.  How goofy is that.  It's totally not work related.  I am in the middle of a very stressful time at work.  I don't remember the last time I was so overwhelmed and stressed at work.  But I can't stop dancing.  Maybe it really is the coffee and Diet Coke.  Or maybe it's just in the afternoon and I have the afternoon wiggles.  I have to confess that a couple of times I have snuck off to the bathroom to do a little dance.  Others can not see the little dance.  They wouldn't understand.

But I know what the real reason is.  It's joy.  Not happiness... Joy.  I always read about the "secret of happiness" or the "search for happiness".  I am not looking to be happy.  I want joy.  Real joy.  Joy that lives in my heart.  Joy that overcomes external circumstances.  Joy is real and unconditional.  To me, happiness is external and can be conditional.  Joy is the Holy Spirit living in my heart.  My wish for all is joy.  I am so thankful to be filled with joy. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Story

As Laci is getting older, I am reminded how difficult it is to teach the true meaning of Christmas in the middle of Santa, lights, music, etc.  Even I have trouble focusing on it.  I realized we need to work harder teacher Laci when one day she asked where Santa was in the Bible Christmas Story and pointed out that the only thing not Christmas-y at the Reynold's light display was the church.

But she is 5 and the Christmas magic and fun activites are still important.  I like to try to do something a little Christmas-y every weekend in December.  This weekend was Charlie's company Christmas party.  Let me remind you that he works with his parents so their Christmas party is more of a family outing.  We went to a museum downtown to see a train exhibit.  Then we went to a nice lunch. 

Saturday night we went to a Night in Bethlehem.  I was so impressed.  You entered the church and took a tour of Bethlehem.  First we registered for the census.  Everyone was dressed appropriate for the time period and we met Shepherds, tax collectors, even Roman Soldiers.  We were told about a rumor of a baby being born.  The first stop was the marketplace.  All the kids got coins and could go shopping at the marketplace.  There were about 15 booths and Laci made a bookmark, sheep ornament, got a wood craft to do at home, made a pottery bowl, kneaded bread, etc.  I was really impressed.  We had to stay out of the tax collectors way or he would take all your money.  There was even a begger woman at the well.  After we were done with the marketplace, we headed off to meet the king.  We had to give the rest of our money to the king for taxes.  Then we were denied room at the inn but met Shepherds that told us of a star, an angel and a baby being born in the manger.  In the sanctuary the kids learned the story of the Candy cane and were led by the Wise man to the stable.  It was funn because they had two teenagers as Mary and Joseph with a doll baby but there were real sheep for the kids to pet. 

I thought it was really well done.  A little bit cheesy but good for the kids.  Charlie and I talked the next day about what we hoped Laci got out of it.  I don't know yet but we hope that every year she "gets" just a little bit more.  Calvin boycotted his nap and therefore fell asleep on the 3 mile drive there.  He slept for the entire time.  Next year he may get more out of it - if he can stay awake.

The next morning our church had their cantata.  It was exactly what I needed to feel the spirit again.  Every Sunday at the start of church, the tears just flow, especially this week.  I think it is just the stress of the week building up and finally being in a safe place that the worry and stress can drain away.  I felt ready to continue on with Christmas after church.

Of course, what did we do Sunday afternoon?  Visit Santa!  So it is still a balancing act between Santa and the story of Jesus.  We'll get there.  We do the Advent Candle at dinner every night and I would like to find a family advent devotional for next year. 

By the way - Laci only asked Santa for one thing - the movie Annie!   But I was not prepared for Santa questions when she asked me if we were seeing the real Santa or not.  I was truthful and said that he was not the real Santa but a helper.  She was content with the response that he is an elf.  Whatever works!
We visit the same Santa each year and I love that I have the same picture
of them growing up each year.  Sitting in his sled after is a highlight!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


The night before Thanksgiving, we had a "girls night out" with my nieces and sisters.  We all went to see the musical Annie.  I love musicals and I was so excited to share it with my daughter.  My only concern was the late time.  Laci is usually asleep by 9 and can barely stay awake until 10 on a weekend.  We were on central time and everything was an hour later.  The play didn't start until 7:30 / 8:30.  But I knew she would be fine and I didn't want to be a fuddy duddy because of bed time.

It was so fun to get all dressed up with the girls and go to the theatre.  Laci loves her older cousins and considers herself a "big girl" with them.  Our seats were slightly spread out in a small section.  Laci cried when she realized she wasn't sitting with the girls but we figured out a way for the 4 of them to sit together and three moms to sit right in front of them.  Laci did great for the first half but got tired and wigglying towards the end.  At intermission, the girls walked around looking at the theatre again.  I had her sit on my lap for the second half and she fell asleep after a few minutes.  We didn't leave the theatre until 11 eastern time and she didn't get into bed until almost midnight.  But she had such a great time.

She is now obsessed with Annie.  She has sung Tomorrow for 3 days straight and is begging for the movie for Christmas.  She told Charlie that she is in love with Annie.  So he came home tonight just to take her to the library to rent the movie because she just can't wait until Christmas!  So right now we are watching Annie.  I am sure the first of many many times!   

Turkey Trot 2012

More on running...

About 10+ years ago, I did a Thanksgiving Turkey trot with my dad.  And the next year.  Soon other family members started to join me.  Now it is an annual event and everyone participates.  My brother, the mega runner, is so passionate about running.  With my brothers, sister, in laws, nieces, nephews and kids, there are 17 of us now. So my brother organized his own Turkey Trot 5k.  It was pretty cool.  He found a course, got us matching shirts (sponsored by our companies) and provided snacks at the end.  Because of my busy schedule and lack of running in November and October, I hadn't decided if I was going to walk or run it.  My mom isn't able to walk that far so the original plan was to have Calvin stay at the park with her and Laci was going to walk with my sister, niece and nephew and I was going to run.

The morning turned out perfect.  The weather was perfect.  Everyone showed up with our shirts.  Calvin was so excited.  He ran around saying "We're going running!!!"  He stretched with everyone and went to the start line.  The course was a lap around a little pond two times.  I decided to walk a lap with him and my sister and the little ones. We all got to the start line and with a "go", every one took off.  As Calvin started running, his smile turned to big tears and he started crying "Wait for me, guys, wait for me!"  It was the saddest, sweetest and cutest thing ever.  I felt so bad for him.  And we started our walk.  I ended up carrying him for most of the mile and a half.  I don't carry him very much anymore and my arms were sore for a week after.  But we walked picking up the rear and I could see my whole family running together.  It was the most special run / walk I ever did.  I love my big extended family and doing anything like that together.  Occasionally we caught up with my sister and the other little ones. I wish I had my camera and could capture the moment of the four of them holding hands and walking together.  We were lapped by the fast ones and finished our one lap after my brother and nephew finished two laps.  But we cheered everyone in.  A few years ago, was the first time my nieces and nephews ran with us and I ran most of the run with my niece.  It was awesome. I love sharing one of my loves with all of my loves.

I did it!

I need to get caught up on blogging... 

This should have been written a few weeks ago.  But I did it! I finished my running goal.  My goal for this year was 400 miles.  I was on a really good pace to finish in October.  Then October hit.  Work got super busy and it looked like I wasn't going to be able to finish.  I know I had to the end of the year but the closer I got, the more I wanted to finish early.  By October 15, I looked at my schedule and if everything worked out perfectly and no meetings came up, I would finish on October 31!  Nothing ever works out that perfectly.  On October 31, I had 6 miles left.  Then I thought I could finish November 1... 3... 7... November 15 I finally got that final run in!  I finished my 400 miles. 

I only ran one time after that so my year is finishing at 405 miles.  I'm happy with that.  Now I can spend December running errands, working through lunch and what I am now calling "Free Style December".  That just means I can do whatever I want if I do make it to the gym.  Last week I did the elliptical machine.  I hate the elliptical machine.  It seems like a dumb machine.  But Free Style December it doesn't matter and I can try all the dumb machine.  This week I might try the stepper... or the bike.  It doesn't matter because it's Free Style December. 

I'm just glad I accomplished my goal.  Next year my goal is 400 miles again.  But maybe I can actually finish the 400 miles in October.