Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas Day was pretty laid back for us. Roman and I got to bed at a fairly decent hour the night before which is good because we had Braeden jumping up and down in our bed starting at 5. I am all for getting up that early on Christmas, but convincing my other two that it's a reasonable waking hour is an entirely different story. We let Braeden go out and check to see if Santa had come and open a couple of his presents while we, not so quietly, waited for the other two to stir. He did a pretty good job of occupying himself, but it's really hard to wait when you can see everything right there in front of you!

We let him give Daddy the gift he had gotten him because he could hardly contain himself any longer. Braeden was totally into the spirit of giving this year. It was wonderful to see him delight in making other people happy. 

While we waited for Evan and Maggie, he and Daddy played Daddy's new gift, Battleship.

By six o'clock we could wait no more and went to wake up the others. Even Evan who does NOT appreciate being awoken before he is ready, willingly got up to see that Santa had visited during the night. 

They were excited, but a bit groggy still.. 

And then the fun began. Even Maggie was all about opening her own gifts this year. She's not as fast as the boys because, well she's 1, but she held her own. 

Then it was on to my parent's house to open presents with them and my brother's family. 

 These are the birdseed birdhouses that the kids made for my mom. They turned out awesome and are super easy to do!

It was a wonderful Christmas. We celebrated with friends over the weekend and then spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family. I think the kids had a great time without being overwhelmed. I was able to relax and enjoy it all which was fantastic. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Christmas Eve 2012

As the kids get older, Christmas is becoming as fun as I remember it as a child. All of the anticipation, excitement and pure joy of childhood is contagious and really brings the magic out for all of us. While we certainly do talk about the fact that we are celebrating Jesus' birthday, it's hard to not find ourselves mainly focused on the gifts and the imminent arrival of Santa. Between the shopping and the cookie making and all of the wrapping and exchanging of presents, it's hard to breathe for a few weeks, but when it all comes together beautifully and the giggles and shrieks break out, I always know I wouldn't want it any other way.

We are fortunate in that we don't have to travel for the holiday. My in-laws are non-practicing Jewish so we don't have to try and juggle both families for holidays. We actually still do exactly what I did as a kid on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It's worked for 35 years, why change now right? Roman and I have often discussed staying home on Christmas Eve, but even though it's hard to feed our kids at the traditional meal that my grandmother is in charge of (it's all white except for the jello my mom brings), we keep going back because it's tradition. We always attend Mass with my parents and then proceed to one of my mom's siblings houses for dinner.
Braeden and Maggie after my Aunt's cat

Evan and Aunt Stacy

My Grandmother blessing each person 

My Mom and her Mom

Mag's first pierogi

Boys being silly in front of my Aunt's tree

Santa Grampa

Maggie's new book

Jason and Roman

Me and my Mom

After we have dinner and exchange a few gifts with my mom's family, we stop at my dad's parents house on the way home for dessert. My grandmother always makes peppermint pie with hot fudge on Christmas Eve especially for me (so she says anyway). When we had little babies we sometimes skipped dessert, but now our kids can all handle staying up later and being off schedule so we fill our bellies with sweets and then head home to quickly get ready for Santa's arrival and head off to bed. We made cookies with our friends a couple of nights before so we left those out with some eggnog, read a few books and headed to dreamland to envision sugarplums dancing in our heads. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

A very merry Christmas was had by all in our house. I hope that you all enjoyed yourselves and over indulged in family, love, and the true spirit of the holiday.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kitchen Project Complete (Well Almost)

The months have ticked by and slowly we have accomplished a kitchen makeover that I am very happy with.  The knobs and drawer pulls just went on this week and now we're as close as we can be until the floor goes down. I know that it's not everybody's taste (read: my Grandmother really liked the knotty pine), but it's pretty close to what I envisioned when I thought about the kitchen that I wanted in this house that would really complete the feeling of making it our home. To this point, in the six years that we've lived here, we had redone almost every other space, including the basement, but never been willing to undertake the kitchen. Little did I know that when I said yes I would be creating a whole new style living space for us. Now the kitchen and the living room flow as one. Very exciting, especially when you have little kids who like to run in circles! It's just in time for Christmas too. We didn't do all of our typical decorating this year because I didn't have it in me to work around the construction, painting, etc., but next year I'll be able to come up with a whole new style of decorating too!

I haven't put much up on the walls yet (and the outlet covers are still off waiting for a final coat of paint), but I love it. The one thing I couldn't wait to do was get my babies up on the wall in our new entryway area. I love, love, love how it turned out. 

I have a little bit of shopping left to do, lots of wrapping and then I'm ready to celebrate the holiday. And since the world didn't end today, I guess I better get on that!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Do We Do Next?

In the wake of such tragedy our minds head to the obvious question: what do we do next? Yes there are obvious answers. You hug your children a little longer. Exert a bit more patience in situations when you realize you are so fortunate to have a child to be frustrated with. Pray for the families of the victims as well as the survivors who are forever changed due to one unfathomable act of violence. Or many acts depending on how you look at it.

There are so many questions that arise after an event like yesterday's. Are my children safe in their school? Should I home school so that I know where they are at all times? How do I talk about safety with them without making them fearful? Why didn't the school have better security? Why don't we just ban guns in this country once and for all?

I have been crying on and off since I heard the news. I can't discuss it with anyone or even think about it without getting a huge lump in my throat and tears springing to my eyes. What if? What if? What if? I imagine those children doing their daily tasks in their school only to be attacked in the place they should feel safest next to their own homes. It is not a failure on the school's part contrary to what many people would like to believe. All schools have plans in place for unexpected and unusual events. They write the plans, practice the plans and memorize the plans just in case they ever need them. Clearly the teachers at Sandy Hook followed their protocols and locked down as soon as they became aware of the situation. By that point it was all they could do. And I believe that while too many lives were lost, many, many were also saved by the teachers bravery and willingness to act. But how do we prevent the perpetrator from getting in the school in the first place? There has to be stronger measures taken than asking the office staff to monitor who comes and goes. Unfortunately our world has come to needing more protection.I agree with much of what the police chief in this post says. He's right on a lot of levels.

I am the first to hole myself up in my house and keep my children snuggled in my arms. But even I know that that is not reality. I have chosen not to expose them to what is going on. No news in our house. They are young and deserve to stay innocent (as much as I can keep it that way). Along with that thinking, I have to be willing to let them carry on with their lives as they normally do. That means going to school every day and being with their friends and teachers. It's HARD to let go as  a parent and take the risk that something could happen to them on someone else's watch. But you know what? Something could happen on mine too. We can't plan for or predict something horrific happening so we have to go on with our lives and pray for safety for our families. We do need to be proactive and demand that our children's safety is always the utmost priority of whomever they are with, but I truly believe that the staff at my children's school are doing just that.

I know that all parents do things differently. We all have different styles dependent on our own experiences, beliefs and values. But I know that I will do everything I can to keep my children's positive sense of the world and innocence intact. I choose not to expose them to what I consider unnecessary for them to know. Bad things happen. People die. They know that. But to tell them children were killed senselessly? I don't think so. I prefer to make them understand that their job is to always do what they are told by the adult in whose care they are entrusted at the time. If your teacher says move quickly, then go! If you are told to go under a desk, do it! I don't think that they need to know why they might have to do that. If I've done my job then they will follow directions and be as safe as possible.

I'm still processing all of this as I'm sure everyone is. It's time some really look at why these events keep occurring  Prevention seems like a reasonable way to stop the violence.  Identify people with mental health issues and HELP them. Teach people to respect and use weapons responsibly. Model love and respect for our children. Teach them kindness and grace. It is with them that the change can start. We must show them that bullying is not okay. Violence is never the answer and love and understanding can go a long long way. Along with the rest of the world, I hugged my children extra tight last night. I might have even let them have an extra cookie and stay up a little later. They will always know love in this house and in the family and friends we choose to be around them. That is what I as a parent can do.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bright Sky on a Rainy Day

We live in a world made up of all types of people. Unfortunately that includes those disturbed enough to cause harm to the most innocent. My heart, along with those of so many others, breaks today for the families of the many victims in Connecticut. I used to live not far from there which makes it all the more real feeling. I hope that we can all lift the families up in prayer as they grieve and try to manage life as they now know it, without their most precious gifts given to them by God. 

To lighten things up I thought I'd share a few pictures of Maggie being silly today. 

She along with her brothers always provide me bright skies even on the cloudiest of days. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Fun

This year we've added lots of new activities to our Christmas countdown. It's made the season lots more fun and exciting for all of us. As soon as Braeden wakes up every morning, he's out of bed and looking for our elf, Martin. We've only had one Martin issue so far when Maggie and Evan both touched him. Thanks to a friend we knew that Santa could send a helper elf down from the North Pole to sprinkle more magic dust on Martin to give him his magic back. Thank goodness!! Now he only hides out in high places. Smart elf.

Evan's favorite part of every day is opening the book of the day. He always knows whose turn it is to open a book that day. As into the elf as Braeden is, Evan is equally as dedicated to the books. The best part is all the new books we've gotten to read. I had to read them Duck and Goose Christmas yesterday morning in bed because they just couldn't wait. It's a good thing it has big words so I could see them without my glasses!

We've also added a countdown tree this year. The boys are constantly asking me how long until Christmas so it seemed like a good investment to get the tree so they could visually see how many more times they needed to move the candy cane before we got to Christmas. It's a nice bright decoration too!

We haven't really baked any holiday goodies yet, but that's more for self preservation. The boys won't eat anything but chocolate chip cookies so any special candy or cookies end up being eaten by Roman and I and we really don't need them all. Maggie will eat some, but not enough to justify entire batches of anything. We did bake gingerbread ornaments the other day which they all enjoyed decorating for the tree. Brayden and Riley were here with us after school so we painted and added glitter glue and created a gingerbread person for each of the members of our families along with some other fun shapes. It was a blast and they smell good on your tree too. I can't believe we only have 2 weeks to go!!!