Friday, December 31, 2010

It's the end of another year

We took the kids bowling the other day and I'd forgotten how much I love it.

I bowled until I was fifteen and I even won first place in a city tournament that year.

It made me realize something. That it is time I start revisiting things I love to do, especially things that became impractical when the boys were still little.

They are not little anymore. In fact, now they are these interesting people we actually have fun with!

When I contemplated the year, I will admit that I was initially negative. I thought about all the promises and resolutions broken. I've gained weight. I went on a year long spending spree.

For some reason I forgot all the really cool things: we took the boys to Disney, I wrote a novel, we took the boys on a five mile hike once this summer, Ken and I learned to ballroom dance, we visited my grandpa for the first time in forever---I could go on. It really was a great year!

It's funny how we can choose how we "keep score" in life. How we view things is totally in our own hands.

Looking forward to New Year's Eve at home with our friends. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter walk

We were feeling a bit of cabin fever this week, and ended up taking the boys on a very brisk walk. 24 degrees brisk, it turned out.

We are so lucky to have a little parcel of greenspace right behind our house. Hard to come by in Suburbia. Or in this case, white space?

I completely needed the fresh air and exercise.

It's a good thing Daddy brought a thermos of cocoa for the halfway point.

Children need to be outdoors. And no, they won't be bored. They will always find a million ways to entertain themselves outside in nature.

The winds picked up while we were out there...we discussed, through chattering teeth, what it must have been like for early settlers and indigenous people to survive.

We all need a bit of yonder to rest our eyes on.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Finally got this to work!

Loving my camera. I am finally able to handle low light pictures, like the Christmas tree in the evening. Our Christmas was great, and I have a free week ahead of me. For now, I'm going to stare at the tree, and be glad the work is past!

Friday, December 24, 2010

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

From my crazy family to yours, wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It doesn't need to be perfect

I encouraged Nathan to make this diorama the other day, and surprisingly he got really into it, finding all the materials for a winter scene. I was fighting the temptation to encourage a more artful arrangement (read: change it all around from the way he wanted it) but let him do it his own way instead. This morning I'm pausing to allow my children to be themselves and enjoy things their own way!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting it all wrapped up...

Did a little home made gift wrap with the boys for the luminaries we made the other day. Zack painted some impressionistic trees, and then we used old wine corks to stamp colored ornaments on them. Nathan wanted to do his own thing, as usual. I loved the final result. I also love showing the boys that we can be thoughtful without spending a lot of money, and of course using materials we already have. Today we wrap!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In the bleak midwinter...

Each year, having passed the longest night, I make a point to trek outside and check out my little backyard garden.

I contemplate our ancestors, how this time of year must have been fraught with perils---the cold, the lack of light, and the waning foodstuffs. I give thanks for our abundance, I pray for a rich and fertile new year for my patch of earth, and I rest my mind knowing that the days will already lengthen and spring will certainly come again.

(Then I get myself back's cold out there!)

Happy Solstice!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New traditions

One thing we've begun just this year is to have a special Sunday dinner in the dining room each week and light an Advent wreath. I felt a little silly at first, wondering if the boys would go for it, but they did in a big way. They like having something special to look forward to, and they like to talk about the different aspects of the Christmas story while we are sitting in the darkened dining room, lit only by candles. Incidentally, they also were more open minded to new foods in this surrounding. We lit the 4th candle last night, as we knew we would be out today. I believe this is something we will continue to do each year.

Last year we attended my Mother in Law's German choral concert, and decided that it was something we need to do every year. The music is mostly in German, which gives the boys a taste of their Austrian roots. And afterwards, we had dinner at Schmidt's, which is amazing.

Getting the opportunity to hear 5 Alpenhorns and a pair of yodelers was really something special, as was the finale---we were all welcomed to join in a rendition of Stille Nacht ("Silent Night") a capella, of course. It was really very moving.

Ah, and who can forget the ages old tradition of texting in church? Actually this was before the concert, but I wanted to mention that I love that I can bring the boys to enjoy something like this. They got a little bored after a full hour, but wow, they were so well behaved!

We'll cap the evening with readings of some favorite Christmas themed books:
The Christmas Story from the book of Luke
A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Moore
Bear Stays up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Nutcracker (a Little Golden Book)

Some new titles we enjoyed from the library this year were:
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer
Dewey's Christmas at the Library by Vicki Myron, Bret Witter, and Steve James
It's Christmas David by David Shannon

I'm really enjoying these activities, and thus far not terribly overwhelmed this holiday season. Let's hope we can keep it up.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best. Husband. Ever.

He wakes up at 11am this morning, and I was okay with that because I'm an early riser. Nathan and I wrote a story together, while Zack did some drawings. Then, the husband asks the boys "do you want to go to the Air Force Museum today and give Mom some time to do her personal projects?" I am still flabbergasted that I have at least 5 more hours of the house completely to myself!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Keeping busy on a sick day

What a beautiful snowy day we're having here.

Except that this guy, he's not happy. He came home from school barfing yesterday. Today he's home with us, feasting on Jello and 7-Up, and missing his classroom's winter party.

He did cheer himself with a bit of drumming while little brother played airplanes.

I pulled together some recycled materials...tissue paper and old glass vases.

Nathan demonstrating this craft idea from Nina and Star on Sprout.

Neat stained glass luminaries/vases/pencil holders for the family, made from materials we had around the house. Brilliant! Now I just hope they are not reading this....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday things

We had two events over the past couple days that were so fun. First was on Sunday, my extended family's Christmas party at Valley Dale Ballroom. It was so fun, although a lot of folks were stuck home by the snow, it gave those of us there the opportunity to really spend a little more time than usual. I have a huge family, and often you barely have enough time for meeting, greeting and hugging every cousin before it's time to go!

One note: this year Mrs. Claus came because Santa was sick. We've had the same Santa at the family party for so long, they knew the kids would know if they sent a different Santa, so they asked for a Mrs. Claus instead. She was very personable and funny, and the children enjoyed her a lot.

Second was Nathan's preschool Christmas program. It was so sweet---they wore these little angel headdresses! (Of course I didn't get any great still shots, but I did get good video!) They sang J-I-N-G-L-E Bells, and it was so adorable! It is our last preschool program, and I did what I could not to sniffle too loud! Afterwards we did a craft, and had snack, then we took him to lunch, which for the baby of the family is pretty special.

I am grateful that after Friday, we are on vacation until the new year! Zack gets a three week break from drum lessons, and we all get a rest. We will be attending a German Christmas concert next week, a date night Friday, and doing the food shopping next week sometime, but that seems fairly reasonable. Hopefully there will be plenty of time for tinkering, snuggling and puttering over the next few weeks. :-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The view from my window...

Nathan and I kept seeing a huge shadow outside. It was coming from this guy, who decided to stop for a rest on the tree by our deck. Wow! I think it is some kind of hawk, but I am totally not sure. Feel free to chime in if you know what kind of bird this is!

This is what we see today! Pity we now have to hop into the truck and drive to the big family gathering, but still looking forward to it!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oh Shiny Brite, Oh Shiny Brite...

The other day, I was pulling out my small collection of Shiny Brites and decided to use my husband's old "bachelor tree" to do a special little tree in the dining room.

If I can ever find a second hand white tree, I'd love to have one, but for now I use what I have.

A new Goodwill opened in my neighborhood this week, and lo and behold I found a dozen mini Shiny Brites marked at 29 cents a piece! Hurray! The only downside of the new Goodwill is that it is right across the street from the preschool. Hmm, that means I will drive by it at minimum four times per week. That could be trouble ;-)

My shiny and bright little boy, home sick for the second day, but being a trooper.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Salad

In a strange turn of weather, we found ourselves with a super late crop of lettuce this fall. In a stroke of good luck, I harvested it just before the temperature really dropped.

It feels a little bizarre to be eating garden lettuce when the temperature is 19 degrees outside, and all the blogs I'm reading today feature hot mugs of cocoa and knitting. We have enough for 3-4 more portions, then that is it until probably late march, so we will savor it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December First Musing

The many crafty blogs and magazine emails are pouring into my inbox with titles like "Ten Easy-to-Make Ornaments" and the like. However I also notice a number of the bloggers I read are feeling what I'm feeling: I have enough ornaments and decorations, thanks. No one in my family wants anything handmade, so they're getting gift cards this year. The kids don't need another toy, and I don't feel like shopping either. (Yeah yeah, I've actually done the shopping and they're getting a couple of toys. I'm just sayin'.) Unlike previous years, I have no creative feelings this year. I wonder if I spent all of my creativity on the novel last month? I don't feel like canning, baking, crafting or otherwise making any sort of gifts, not even the tags.

(Our "unplugged" angel... her lightbulbs burnt out, and I couldn't find replacements, so I removed all of her wires. She's kind of a symbol for our holidays.)

However, far from being a humbug, this is my list of things I do want to do this holiday season:

Have a tree trimming party (did this last weekend!)

Take the boys to the Channel 6 building Saturday to deliver some goodies for Toys for Tots.

Watch Christmas themed movies, everything from "Polar Express" to "It's a Wonderful Life."

Sip cocoa, hot tea and/or holiday blends of coffee.

Read Christmas stories to the kids, including the book of St. Luke, King James edition, of course.

Do some puttering with the sewing machine that is not gift related.

Catch up on the scrapbooking.

Meet up with the family for the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo.

Eat lots of warm stew or baked lasagna with fresh bread.

Read the piled up stack of library books.

Sing holiday songs with Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra.

Indulge in spiced wine or Bailey's.

Paint, draw, do play doh, etc. with the kids.

Stare out the window at the falling snow, of which we have our first today!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I wrote a novel this month :-)

I participated in National Novel Writing Month, and I did it! I wrote a 50971 page novel. It's probably not very good, but I did it!! I thank my husband, for encouraging this self indulgent behavior. I am also thankful to someone from the past, who popped out of oblivion and became the muse of my story. Now to go reacquaint myself with my kids. And the dishes....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Savoring Fall

I was able to get out to the thrifts last week, and had a really fun morning. Found quite a few cool bits and bobs. Am hoping to get my Etsy shop revamped in time for Cyber Monday, but first I have to make my goal for NaNoWriMo. So far I have just over 39,000 words. That means I have a mere 3700 words a day for the next three days, which is about ten pages a day, give or take. This is a total milestone for me, so that gets number 1 priority! However we will be trimming the tree tomorrow, which will take a chunk of time too. And in the midst, I find myself hoping to hang on and savor the last of fall before the Christmas chaos ensues.