Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Force Awakens

Even Buddy is excited about the Force awakening tomorrow:

We will be finishing re-watching Episode 6 tonight. That is all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Life List

We have been so busy living life that I haven't made time to write. I've been mentally making a list of all the wonderful I want to capture, though, so a life list:

1. We had friends over to celebrate Christmas Friday. Brad and Mom are doing turducken for Christmas, and we attempted just the ducken part. We learned that the tur is really critical for holding it all together! Issa captured this video:

I love how we laugh in our home, and I love having friends that are family.

2. Issa had her Company Christmas party Sunday. This year, the girls made headbands and chemo bags to donate in their teachers' names as their gifts. The girls worked so hard on the projects, and I loved listening to them chatter over lunch.

3. I'm crafting Christmas gifts life there is no tomorrow. I love it!

4. In a bizarro world twist, I'm headed to a work retreat today while Brad chaperones Issa's field trip. I really don't know who is more excited.

5. I volunteered in first grade yesterday afternoon. It's the week before Christmas. There are no words.

6. I had one of those absurdly proud moments last night. Issa asked to skip knitting. We have been go go going, and she decided she really just wanted to spend some time snuggled up as a family. I wish I had learned at 9 that sometimes it's okay to just stay home and say no thank you to something. It was lovely.

7. I have been stoning dance costumes. A gross and a half on one costume. That's over 200 stones for those of you playing along at home.

8. My family has been texting like no tomorrow. Planning for Christmas celebrations. Counting down to being together. It makes me smile.

9.  We are counting down to Star Wars and the Nutcracker. We are giddy.

10. The laundry is piling up and I just can't bring myself to care.

11. In the midst of all of this, I'm happy. I love this time of year. I love the magic and the laughter. I love seeing the kids' faces when they find Buddy. I love the music and the excuse to snuggle up with cocoa. And I love that our family chooses to celebrate this way.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Doing Life

I almost didn't post today. Nothing noteworthy happened yesterday. The kids had good days at school. Brad and I crossed a lot off our respective to do lists at work. I stoned some dance costumes and addressed Christmas cards. Brad cooked dinner and took Evan to the dojo. It was a pretty typical Wednesday. Nothing momentous to write about.

But in the light of all the headlines and Facebook rants and countless memes about being stressed, maybe a typical Wednesday is something to write about. It's easy to get caught up in all the chaos. The doom and gloom. But I'm refusing. There is still so much good. So much normal.

I keep saying, "Not my circus; not my monkeys," about a lot these days; I'm really trying to focus on what matters and truly practicing what I preach. After all, I have some not so little eyes watching. Issa and I just had a conversation this morning about staying in your own lane, which is sometimes a little wider than at other times. Fighting your battles. Practicing kindness and speaking out when it matters--with kindness and conviction--because sometimes they are our monkeys. Maybe, just maybe, if we could all focus on the monkeys that really matter as we are doing this life the world would be a better place.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Love Him

Last night, Brad and I snuggled up to binge watch a very non-Christmas-y series we're in the middle of, although we did accompany said watching with eggnog. This was after he listened to me vent about a grant project that could very well be the end of me and took me out for a date lunch between commitments at school. It wasn't an extraordinary day, but it was so lovely.

After more than half of our lifetimes together, I love that we still truly love being together. I love that he can see me throw a tantrum and just tell me I need to eat. I love that he makes sure I don't get too caught up in making Christmas magic that I get exhausted.

In short, I love him.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Very Holly Jolly Weekend

This weekend was lovely. Friday night, we had a much needed cocoa and cuddles night. Daddy had been gone all week, and we had been going at warp speed. We turned down a few invitations and snuggled in to eat spaghetti, watch a Christmas movie, and sip cocoa all cuddled up on the couch.

Saturday morning, Issa had a crazy dance rehearsal and then a birthday party. Late afternoon, though, we all headed out for the town's Christmas parade. This was the first year Issa was big enough to dance in the parade instead of riding, and it was really odd for me to drop her off and not get on the float with her. It was also a very big day for our girl: she got to change her earrings for the first time!
It was so fun to see the parade from the other side. I love small town parades with the marching bands, church floats, and random people riding on the back of cars. Issa had so much fun dancing the route, too.

Sunday, I had intentionally blocked the entire day on the calendar. We decorated our tree, watched too many Christmas movies, and took high quality naps. We are going in to this week happy and rested and ready to keep celebrating.

Friday, December 4, 2015

And So It Continues

I think my family has a little bit of North Pole Elf blood in our veins. We all love all things Christmas, and that seems to have been passed down. This is how Issa went to school today:
I love it. I love her!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Buddy is Back!

When we returned from Thanksgiving, Buddy was waiting. Here is why I love our elf:
He keeps us focused on what is really important: the real reason for Christmas, family, friends, and finding joy. Admittedly, he had a bit of a lame arrival, simply perching in fruit bowl with a sign saying he was back.

Monday morning, though, he drew on the mirror so the kids looked like Rudolph when they brushed their teeth. Tuesday morning, he left us elf meal passes, so we had fruit pie and cocoa for dinner--it was very joyful. Wednesday, he left us empty treat boxes so we could bake cookies for all of our wonderful neighbors, and the kids had great fun delivering all 8 dozen cookies yesterday! (We were baking fools on our early release.) This morning, he left us a new book to keep us focused--and it is even told with Lego characters.

We do love this little elf, and I'm awfully glad Daddy finally told Santa we could have one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Things Aren't Things

This summer, we went through a major house purge. We got rid of a lot of "things." If we didn't use it, if it wasn't functional, or if it didn't bring us joy, it went. "It's just things" became our mantra. Since, we have been trying to be really intentional about what we bring into our home. Less really is more.

Except, sometimes things aren't just things. When we were in Napoleon, Mom offered to let us go through some of the Christmas things that had belonged to Grandma. Grandma loved Christmas, and I have to believe that in her corner of Heaven she gets to decorate a tree every day. She also loved Christmas singing toys, and I seem to have caught the bug. Before we even started looking, I mentioned that the one toy I would really like was a Santa riding Rudolph. It is probably one of the oldest, and it's not even that exciting, but for some reason it's always the one that comes to mind first. When Aunt Carol walked in with it the next day, I burst into tears. It wasn't about the things; it was about the memories. The memories of decorating with her. The memories of playing the toys over and over and over and never once being told to stop. It was the joy.

Before we came home, we sorted through some boxes and the kids helped me choose some pieces to bring home. Grandma always put up a teddy bear tree, so we were sure to bring home plenty of bears--and toys. The kids picked some that were their favorites; I chose some that I had strong memories of. And Brad, because he is the kindest husband, announced we just became a two tree family:
The kiddos helped me put this up Monday night. We named the angel bear on top Julia, after Grandma, and it brings me such joy every time I walk past. I love seeing the kids playing with the toys, and I loved watching their tiny hands tuck teddy bears into branches. I could almost see Grandma sitting by in one of her Christmas sweaters just beaming.

We work really, really hard to make sure our December is filled with joy. There is no Christmas kabobble. We say no to as many events as we say yes to. We make time to read books and watch movies and drink cocoa. It's the way I remember Christmas as a child, and I want the same for my kids. Someday, I want these things to be so much more than things to them...because they certainly are for me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


We have so very much to be thankful for--including seeing family in Ohio last week. 

I'm very thankful for a sister who takes pictures! The weather was ridiculously gorgeous for an Ohio November, which gave us the opportunity to take a fabulous family photo outside:
 And even Evan was quite happy to take pictures in his awesome bear sweater from Aunt Shannon:
Siblings are just the best:
 And even Nana agreed to one photo:
Part of the reason Evan was actually happy to take pictures was because he negotiated this picture:
The kids love riding that four-wheeler, and it will be a sad day indeed when they outgrow it.

Daddy carved the turkey:
 But most of the day was spent talking about the Turducken he and Mom are going to do for Christmas. They have joked about it for years, and this year it is actually happening!

 Issa loved her cranberry ice:

 And Evan has decided there is nothing better than a turkey leg:
When else can you eat like a pirate at a holiday meal and not get in trouble?

We were also able to see Granddaddy while we were in Ohio! It was such a good visit, and he is now a published author! His memoirs are now officially in book form, and we were given our own autographed copy. Evan spent the rest of the visit finding his name in the book; he remembered it was there and was way too excited when he found--and he has found it many times since.

We had a great time with the cousins in Tiffin, too. Of course I took no pictures, but we loved spending time with kids who are growing up way too fast. We went to see Lileigh cheer in one of her senior season games. Alec was so excited to show us his new car (with a ridiculous sound system) since he turns 16 this week. Regan and Brad talked about so many books. Hadley turned nine months and is such a fun, happy baby. Having time to just spend with them was incredible. I'm already bracing for Christmas when the older ones want to play with Cards Against Humanity.

We drove home Sunday, and the best Daddy ever stopped on the way for a tree:
The Fire Department never disappoints! And this year's tree came complete with a pine cone. Life doesn't get any better.

We are in full holly, jolly mode, and I couldn't be happier. Let the celebrating continue!