Friday, December 30, 2011

Back Home

We are home! It is so good to be home, but it was so difficult to leave Ohio. We had such a good time celebrating with family. We started our trip with Daddy's side of the family. There were gingerbread houses to decorate:

And a Grandpa to play Santa:

And nieces and nephews to spend time with: This girl and I had such a wonderful time. I have no idea how she got to be 13, but I can't wait to see where she goes. We stayed up way too late talking, and she has such a good head on her shoulders--even in the middle of adolescent drama. Love her.

There were so many things I didn't capture on the camera there. My favorite: we took the kids to see a drive through light display--8 million lights strong--with Papa Don and Grandma Nancy. It was so fun to see the kids eyes light up brighter than the lights. I love seeing the magic through their eyes.

Eventually, we headed North to Nana and Papa's house. Her tree needed decorating, and I had a little girl that was all too happy to help:

And of course, just like on Daddy's side, there were gifts. Some of them, though, were a little extra special--a demo CD from an older cousin:

I love that my little musician has such an awesome role model in Kaitlin. I have no delusions that we will be cutting our own demo someday, but I love that Issa can see an example of how to dream big, practice hard, and stay so grounded at the same time. I'm telling you, someday we are going to be able to say we knew this girl when...

My boys in their hoodies:

Of course, we had to get ready for Santa and his reindeer. Tree cakes, carrots, and reindeer food (oatmeal, glitter, and sprinkles):

The snack was well enjoyed. I bet you didn't know yellow sprinkles are Rudolph's favorite:

A picture with the Santa gifts--three each, just like the Magi brought Jesus:

The angels were even willing to pose with Mom and Aunt Shannon on Christmas morning:

Santa brought Issa the much anticipated ear muffs:

And Evan received his motorcycle:

Unfortunately, the motor cycle had to be sent back to the North Pole. We decided Buddy the elf built it (ten points for the movie reference), and Evan went with it. I was so proud of him.'s back and good as new!

The Luzny side gathered for Christmas morning in our coordinating pajamas, keeping with tradition. It's hard to believe that this group of cousins:

Turned into this big extended family:

It was loud and crazy, but there were still quiet moments for siblings:

And wild moments for little cousins:

Give some kids some beanbags and a couple of uncles, and you will have a tower:

Before lunch, we all settled into Christmas clothes. Our little family:

Three women that could take on the world together:

The whole family (minus some early departures and nappers):

And then a week of enjoying. I found myself teary often, grateful for the time. Time to be with extended family, like Tyler the Huge:

How many high school boys would let two little cousins climb all over him every day--even bringing his girl friend over to make cookies. And his older sister who arranged her life around lunch with my kids. I love hearing little voices whine, "Mo-om, Evan isn't sharing Tyler."

Time to create crafts, make messes, read stories, and just play. Time to catch snowflakes on tongues:

Time to throw snow patties in half an inch of snow--a blizzard to my Southern babies:

Time to throw poppers and pop party poppers because, well, why not? Uncle Jeff might just be the King of Good Ideas after all:

And time to laugh:

What kid wouldn't love to find this waiting in their bed? I love hearing my kids belly laugh, and I loved watching my family laugh with them. It was those moments that leave me a little homesick right now, but above all I am feeling so very, very blessed.

And to unpack and organize, remembering each moment as we tuck toys away and share a few more snuggles before reality returns.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Christmas

The weekend before Christmas is traditionally when we celebrate our little family Christmas. It's a fun blend of traditions, and this year it was extra special because it started with Issa's school program yesterday.

We were assigned the fruit tray, and I assembled this:
Her school is very big on the no sugar, all reusable containers thing, so I thought I was golden. I may have over-done. The cookie mom brought two bags of Oreos and ripped the top open. Everything else was still in the store's disposable containers, so our fruit tray was a bit over the top. Issa was thrilled, and that's all that matters.

Look at our little angel ready to sing:

They sang "Jingle Bells" and then played jingle bells to another song--very cute. The whole thing lasted about five minutes. Then we ate the fruit tray and Oreos and said goodbye for two weeks. Sweet vacation. There will be no lunch packing negotiations, and life is good.

Last night, we kept Daddy's Christmas Eve tradition: summer sausage, cheeses, and fruit. We decided to add Christmas biscuits:

We used every cookie cutter! They were very festive. The meal:

This morning, the kids were thrilled by an early visit from Santa. He left a note reminding them he was coming to Nana and Papa's house, but the reindeer needed some practice landing and since they had been so good he chose their house. The stockings were filled and treats were left for all the fuzzy pets:

Somehow Santa knew both kids wanted a mini pillow pet to match their big ones. Their was much rejoicing.

Then the kids opened their gift from Mom and Dad--Trunkies and a trip to Great Wolf!

If anyone is looking for a great suitcase for kids, a Trunki is absolutely the way to go. It's part suitcase, part ride on, and all fun. The kids had a blast playing with them all day.

For lunch, we made my traditional Christmas Eve meal, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn (plus left over biscuits):

The rest of the day was spent in pajamas, playing and being together. Being entertained by the cat:

Having tea parties with Daddy:

Enjoying Christmas movies, music, and fireplaces. It was wonderful. A very, very merry Christmas to all...and to all a good night...

Friday, December 16, 2011


When I opened this picture, it literally took my breath away. When did my baby become a little man? Emu and Poppop gave him a watch for Christmas, and he instinctively knew how to check the time. But look at that thin face--no more baby roundness. Look at that big boy haircut--no more soft fuzz. Look at how tall! He's big...and I love him...and he'll always be my baby.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Check Out Miss Thing

My little girl is growing up, and she jumped into her first major hair trend: a feather. Can you see the blue in her hair? Her hair is a bit of a mess after a full day of school.

She has been begging for one for weeks, and when we were getting our hair cuts this week she asked again. I'm personally not a huge fan of the feather, but it can't be worse than the horrible perm and five feet tall bangs I rocked once upon a time. So...we bought a feather. I decided it was a teachable moment about investing in quality accessories and having them placed professionally. It's a real rooster feather that has been professionally attached with a bead. It could be with us for four months. Issa is in love; I'm in like. And so it begins...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Little Elf

I have a little elf, and she rocks my world:
Every year, Issa and I make teacher gifts. In the past, that has meant we look through books and websites, pick the gift, go shopping for supplies, and then I make the gifts after she gets bored halfway through the first one. This year, she was excited to look through books and websites, and we sat down to list the teachers. Between the two schools and ballet, we needed fourteen teacher gifts. Fourteen. That is some crafting my friends.

We chose the craft and did the shopping. She decided on Santa bottles filled with our homemade granola, so the shopping was really easy. I took one for the team and drank all the frapaccinos we needed. (Score!) Outside of that, we just needed craft paper and glue. While Issa was at school yesterday, I made the granola. When I picked her up, I had everything waiting in the kitchen for our crafting. I firmly expected that she would help for fifteen minutes and then move on. Wrongo. (Ten points for anyone who gets that holly jolly reference.)

This sweet angel helped with every single gift. She did all of the filling, and she helped with a lot of the cutting. I did the glueing. And, my friends, hot glue is hot. The finished product:
I think they are pretty darn cute! Our little Santa army:

I think I'll keep the elf.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Little Focus and a lot of Latte

Wow! It's amazing what happens when my distractable self is confined to a coffee shop for the bulk of a day. Our van needed routine maintenance (fluid flushes, brake something, a new was all a foreign language), and although it was routine, it was going to take a while. So, I took it in and then walked next door to the coffee shop to work. Three lattes and five hours later, I had accomplished so much, but I was still a bundle of energy from sitting all day.

I have to capture what I accomplished because it will never happen again:

1. Put together a presentation I am giving at Issa's school tonight. (Long story.)

2. Revised an article I'm hoping to submit to a journal sooner rather than later.

3. Put together my syllabus and BlackBoard site for next semester. (That will make life easier in January!)

4. Worked on dissertation revisions (because they will not end!!!).

5. Cleaned up from our Christmas party (which did not take very long--stop feeling guilty Crystal. I know you read this).

6. Did three loads of laundry.

7. Wrapped the rest of the Christmas gifts that are ready to go with the kiddos' help. (Issa is actually getting to be really helpful. Evan taped himself to one of the packages--not so helpful.)

8. Got some great snuggles with the kiddos.

9. Worked on some gifts I'm making.

Life is good! The stars aligned, and I'm really hoping they stay that way! I have a lot to do this week!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Buche de Noel

We had some friends over for a little Christmas party last night, and I fulfilled my promise to Issa. Behold the Buche de Noel:
Yes...those are marzipan mushrooms. If you are going to do it, do it big! She and I had a lot of fun doing it, but I have no pictures of the process. It's not a difficult cake, but it is a fussy one, which is not super conducive to kindergarten help. Thankfully, it came out of the pan beautifully and everything went astoundingly well. It was a happy day...although Issa decided to eat more peas instead of cake for dessert. Sometimes I wonder about that kid.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Bit More Traditional

You may remember our reusable gingerbread house. was time to remove the turkeys and make a bit more traditional Christmas house yesterday. The clean up was far easier than expected, and the kids were super excited by the new candies.
It still just cracks me up to see Evan with a pastry bag:

I have fewer pictures because I did more decorating this time! I got a perfect do on the royal icing, and the kids wanted icicles just like the houses on Food Network. Evan did the rooftops, and Issa and I handled the rest. The results:

Please notice the little snowman with his black hat by the window.

Issa did this end completely by herself.

The hard candy stepping stones keep people from getting their feet all snowy:

And Evan thought of the wreath of fruit slices:

It was so fun, and I don't think we will ever get tired of making new designs, getting covered in icing, and laughing until we cry. The sugar crash I could do without, though.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Evan is back at school! Life is slowly returning to normal, and I'm ready for a lot more holly jolly. Issa took care of our back window this week:
It's Bethlehem. Can't you tell? Here is the city itself:

And the city is surrounded with Christmas trees, snowflakes, and angels:

(I don't know why the angel has so many polka dots. Sometimes it's better not to ask.) She did everything completely on her own--even the hanging. She was quite pleased with herself when it was finished.

Every Christmas brings something new with the kids. It's a whole new kind of Christmas. This year, Issa is in love with the music and the details of the music. She loves "Away in a Manger" and "The Friendly Beasts" most, but she asks me to sing all the carols. What I have found amusing is her attention to the details. While she was hanging her Bethlehem, I was dumbfounded when she asked, "How can Bethlehem be still if the cattle are lowing?" Hello "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Away in a Manger" mash-up. That is one smart little angel.