Monday, December 31, 2007

The Last Day of 2007

Tubby developed croup last night as the final touch to such an already *grand* day yesterday.....equalling very minimal sleep for the both of us. Once awake this morning, he quickly spiralled downhill over the course of an hour, seemingly trying to suck in the air that he needed to breathe, leading me to begin preparations to visit the ER. Bob prescribed some of Laura's leftover steroids, and out of desperation, I tried a neb with him, not expecting it to work against croup. He must also have a touch of Laura's wheezing illness, because 15 minutes after the neb, he was actually breathing without difficulty as long as he remained calm. Whew! I have a feeling this is going to be a LONG day.
Oh...I forgot to mention that what started out as a joke, turned into a neighborhood party at our house tonight for New Year's Eve, kids and all.....not so sure that is going to fly tonight under the present circumstances.....but the kids are madly cleaning the house today just in case, and I have already shined my sink!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Complain, Complain

Blah, blah, blah......that's the kind of day you get when all of your young children have been up way too late the night before. Between all the bickering, whining, complaining, crying, hitting, screaming, instigating, and retaliating, we were ready to call it a day before it even began. Throw in 3 hockey events, a sick baby, and an obstinate girl who is hyper-cranky from 4 days of oral steroids, and you've got one real winner of a day.

On the up-side, Lyle is still alive(for a brief time this morning, we feared he was on the side of the road somewhere from the late night before), and Laura is finally breathing well. She has only taken preventative nebs today, and made it to and back from a cold hockey arena without being thrown into breathing difficulties. Hooray! For some reason, she was looking forward to church all day, and was very happy to finally go with Grandma this afternoon. Crispy learned how to skate backwards today! It is pretty cool, especially since he just barely learned how to skate forwards! Michael had another hockey scrimmage this evening, and they played very well...it was fun to watch...still no fights, though. Jonny got to read over 2 hours to finish his new book, and made dinner for all of his younger siblings that he babysat tonight. Now it is off to bed early tonight to try to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pucks and Poker

During the two weeks surrounding Christmas, we get to enjoy family and visits with friends in abundance. So much so, it seems so odd that this only happens once per year. If we are able to squeeze in extra visits and fun during the hands-down-busiest-time of the entire year, why are we not able to manage these events during the rest of the year? We seem to always find ourselves saying we are too busy for things all year long...usually because of kid's activities, and school events. But somehow, in the magic of the Christmas season, we ARE actually able to make plans. Very interesting......

As weekends always go, this was another one dedicated to hockey. Crispy had a practice 30 minutes north in Mound, which ended at the same time Michael's scrimmage was beginning 30 minutes south, in Chaska. Being the die-hard hockey parent that I now am, Crispy and I boogied it to Michael's game immediately upon his own practice completion. As an alternative, we could have just gone 20 minutes farther north, and made it on time to Uncle Billy's house in Maple Grove for poker, but no, we sacrificed that to support Michael instead. Even Alex was there (having no choice along the way)!

The scrimmage was good, as the teams were well matched. Thomas was bouncing and cheering much of the time. To Alex's dismay, Michael did not prove good on his promise to get into a fight, but one of our other players almost did. It really was a pretty clean game, just good hockey playing without the nasties that can sometimes emerge. It was fun.

We then made our 45 minute trek to our poker destination. Grandma & Lyle had thankfully brought the girls and Jonny ahead of time, sparing them 3 hours of hockey. Bob & I caravanned up with the rest of the crew, making a short pit stop in Plymouth to view one of Bob's online creative Christmas lighting display friends' home set to music as ours is. It was a very nice display, but not as intricate or as involved as my husband's. It was really cool seeing someone else using the same technology though!

Poker was fun, and Sharon's homemade lasagna was even better! Yummy dinner that they had saved for us latecomers!! Lyle was brand new to poker, but was doing remarkably well. He was beating the pants off of all of us at our table, but as time passed, he was sent into the other room. Like a sheep led to slaughter (sorry about the metaphor, but it really does fit well here!), he had gone from leader in our room, to out of the game in one round playing with the ruthless serious folk. Poor Lyle!

Bob ended up winning the game (which is never much of a surprise). Jonny and Michael each held in there as the rest of us fell, one by one. Finally, down came Michael, quickly followed by Jonny as the blinds reached levels impossible to pay. Good job, guys! Then back to home and finally to bed at 1am. *yawn* Maybe not the wisest choice with New Year's just one day away....now we are pre-tired out!

Friday, December 28, 2007

So Long, R2D2

Today is my favorite day (normally on Thursdays)of the week.....garbage day! It's kind of like mini-dumpster day once a week as I run through the house, picking up as much garbage as I can in every room, and throw it out on the curb to get the maximum use out of our monthly Waste Management bill. Extra bonus today because it is also recycling day. Bob still has 1/2 garage filled with empty boxes from 25,000 Christmas lights and an uncountable number of cords. Guess who gets to break those down? I have already completed this project twice this season, and just have not quite had the motivation to tackle it a third time. Today, I had an excuse not to since all of the Christmas gift boxes for the kids were enough on their own to fill up our canister and 2 extra large boxes worth of recyclables. Triple bonus today was Courage Center coming to pick up 2 boxes of donatable clothing and bedding. My house is beginning to feel a bit lighter!

Quadruple bonus today was the ridding and returning of my oxygen tanks. Nothing has made me feel older this year than being in the hospital with a PE, and then following up at home with oxygen therapy for the remainder of the summer. Something about being hooked up by your nose to that massive noisy machine that is supplying your body with the vital oxygen it needs to survive just makes one feel a little bit wimpy and vulnerable...not quite so strong. To quote Melissa today as she said, "I'm too young to be old!"


The huge metal tank, we affectionately referred to as R2D2, contained the liquid oxygen necessary to fill the little portable tank with an eight hour supply when travelling. It went places with me like to my brother-in-law's wedding in May and visits to friends and relatives in June. The medium sized gray contraption provided my nighttime oxygen in my room. Pulling the oxygen directly out of the room air and through filters in the machine, it made very loud humming sounds and sounded like a breathing ventilator machine that even though hidden in a closet to mute it's sound, was still very disturbing to wake up and hear in the middle of the night....sounded like being back in an ICU room. It did, however, serve its purpose well, and most certainly made breathing easier in those recovery months. It was especially comforting to me when I was lucky enough to get Shingles at the end of May along the same nerve line that my PE and lung pain had been. All 60 pounds of the bulky machine even accompanied me to Colorado when Pam and I took our spontaneous vacation in July with the kids. In and out of hotel rooms every night, I'll admit I was happy to have it along being at nearly an elevation of 10,000 feet where the oxygen level is reduced to begin with!


I have not used any of these machines for more than 3 months now, yet they have remained in my daily pathway as a constant reminder of the most frightening event of 2007. With the discontinuation of Coumadin in November, I would be lying to say I am not nervous about another event occurring. Unfortunately, there is no way at this point to predict it, and also no real reason to expect it, yet there is also no surprise in repeating it. I guess this will be another area in my life to just take the jump with faith and trust God's will to lead me through whatever it might be, good or bad....just as we have seemingly frequently done so in the most recent years. So as of today, I am moving on.....So long, R2D2! Goodbye, at least for now!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is Some Air to Breathe

Poor Laura....she has been struggling for air since Christmas eve morning, and it is not getting better. Nebs are now being given as frequently as every 2 hours, with not much of a change in symptoms. It just breaks my heart to see her so miserable and unable to control the constricting coughs. Last year, we had barely needed to use the neb machine....I had optimistically hoped Laura was growing out of this. But this winter has been another story. I feel like we have taken several steps backwards in time with her.

Having Bob as a Pediatrician for a husband certainly has its perks. I was able to text page him for some oral steroids for Laura, and 10 minues later, it was all set up for me to pick up at the pharmacy. This is such nasty tasting stuff...bitter and gross despite supposed "great-tasting flavor" added. It is always such a struggle to get down, but it is so worth it as usually like clockwork, Laura turns the corner 24 hours after beginning the medication. This time, we are trying a chewable instead of the disgusting icky sticky liquid. It was quite easy for her to chew and swallow down with a chocolate milk chaser, but not before she tried to push all the mush back out with her tongue......apparently it still tastes awful.

My mom and I went back to the photography studio today to view the family photos. It was amazing how nice of a picture was prepared of 20 people, 12 of whom were children......with just a few head switches, it was quite a good photo! You gotta love the technology of digital photography! I am very excited to see the final product in frame and all. It will also be nice to have a new family photo hanging above our mantel...one that includes cute little Tubbers with the rest of us.

Sounds like Laura needs yet another neb....please pray that things will turn around for her soon! And also, that her cousin Abi, who had her tonsils removed today, will have a very speedy and pain-free recovery!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Outside or Bust

Today was the perfect outside winter day.....mild temps hovering around 30 degrees, virtually no wind (a VERY rare thing here on our point), and a blanket of fresh snow from yesterday. Despite a wheezing 3-year old, and my own stuffy head, I promised myself and my kids that we were going to play outside today no matter what. So finally, at about 4:15, we donned our outdoor apparel....Bob even let me borrow his coveted snowsuit which I was drowning in, but at least it kept me warm!....and ventured out our back door into the great outdoors.

Sledding was slick through the snow....to quote Michael, "It is perfect out here!" And it really was. Our tumbling was cushioned by the new snow, and the ice layer below kept our sleds moving, propelling us down the hill, over the sidewalk, through the wetlands, and more times than I care to recount, smack into a tree that decided to pop up there this year. Laura was not too thrilled with the fresh snow flying into her face during each descent, so after 3 runs, she gave up her sled for the swingset instead. Michael was getting quite agile on his snowboard by the end of our session, and Crispy was giving it a try too...in fact, he was making it 3/4 of the way down the hill before tipping over! Jonny got to experience sliding down the hill on his bare belly during an unfortunate mishap involving a run-in with my oncoming sled. Funny, he didn't really want to try that again. After a "broken leg", a "broken hand", a "broken foot", and a "broken back", we decided to call it a night....it was also getting dark, and the snowmobilers were getting precariously closer to us as they zoomed through the wetlands, out to the lake.

Crispy and I climbed the hill to the front yard and sat on a snowbank across the street to watch the light show....it was a rare opportunity to have the cul-de-sac alone without a variety of onlooking vehicles. We could not hear the music from our location, but we know these songs so well that we surprised ourselves by being able to sing along with the light show....pretty cool, for us! Being now very dark, our cheeks were pretty cold, so we headed inside to get orders for Chinese food from our favorite in-town restaurant. Now THIS was a good vacation day!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas Day

It's Christmas Morning! Has Santa arrived??? The kids have been awake since who knows how long, but they have had strict instructions that they may not go into the living room or wake anyone else up until 7am. To their credit, it was around 8am before we were all gathered, nebs were given, and coffee in hand, when we entered the room laden with gifts from Santa (and a few from us under the tree).


Santa did well this year....everyone seemed to get what they asked for, without all the usual array of token gifts that once opened, never seem to be seen or played with again. Among our favorites this year was a Zune for Jonny, a paintball gun for Michael (though it seemed to be a little on the violent side for Santa), Dora's Superbabies for Laura, the American Girl Doll~Julie,for Melissa, a Baby You're a Star music toy for Thomas, and Best Buy gift cards for Alex. Crispy got a cool Spy Car with a video feed that all of us took turns spying on each other with today....toys today have become very cool and high tech! I got a new video camera(mine just broke this past week), and a nice digital frame for the hundreds of pictures I take each month but never print off of the computer. And Bob and I must have been on the same wavelength as I gave him a golfing trip to Arizona this winter, and he announced plans for us to go to Disneyworld again this fall! Hooray!

It was nice to just hang out at home with the kids today, lounging in our jammies, and eating chex mix , cheese and crackers, and Christmas cookies. The big lazy snowflakes falling outside our window looked so pretty, helping to paint a lovely Christmas scene. Bob took the boys to the new movie, National Treasure, and according to their report, it was great! Laura, Alex, and I spent the day laying around on the couch and in our beds, since our colds had finally gotten the better of us today. Melissa was glued to the computer, waiting for the servers to clear up enough to let her onto the WEBKINZ site with her first two pets. It was a very nice and relaxing day. . . I think we found another new favorite holiday tradition! Merry Merry Christmas to all!!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Chistmas Eve

It is Christmas eve morning at 4am, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for a ......oh, my gosh! What in the world is that sound? It's like a dinosaur, or something hideous from the depths of a horror movie! Wait! I can almost pick out human words.....what's that?....."Mom.......I........need....a.....nebbie". Poor Laura......in respiratory crisis, she was able to make it to my bedside to ask for help. And thus, our holiday began.


We (I should clarify by 'we', I mean "I") spent a leisurely morning wrapping presents in our already clean kitchen, then getting seven kids in and out of the tub so that they would be smelling pretty for all of the hugs they would be getting later. We then began our Christmas festivities with our newest favorite tradition....starting it all off by going to church. It is such a wonderful way to begin the holiday, and really places our perspective in the right place...putting our focus on the birth of Jesus, the best Christmas gift of all. Despite 6 Christmas Eve services, about 2000 chairs, and the taking of RSVPs for each, the place was PACKED. People were standing and sitting on the floor in the aisles when we finally made it there after dropping the kids off downstairs. I don't know how they did it(maybe with really big sticks), but Grandma & Lyle had somehow warded off hundreds of people to save us the last 6 seats in the building. Thank you!...you guys win the Christmas prize today!


Back at our house, we had a really great, relaxing time. Everything just seemed to come easily together. Great food, great family, great games, great conversation, and the most awesome Christmas lighting show outside our window. We were all so happy to see Grandpa Z arrive, who had conquered the icy Minnesota roads all the way from Duluth. The kids had taught Grandpa C how to play cribbage last weekend, so he and Auntie Erin were new additions to the tournament this year. My dad(Grandpa C) and I were paired up for the first round. After a brutal game, he beat me by one point (OR did I let him win????), and went on to play Uncle Alan, the Great Cribbage Master(GCM). Michael ended up winning the tournament, as he finally kept the lead against the GCM after playing a full 3 rounds. Congrats, Michael!


By the glow of the advent wreathe, we enjoyed a beautiful reading of the Christmas story read by Michael, Jonny, and Melissa. It was followed by a round of Christmas carols sung at the piano, and many good-bye hugs as our loved ones ventured out into the cold (and the crowd of onlookers parked in the cul-de-sac with their lights off watching the show). With the Grandparents still with us, we completed the evening with the always popular Dice Game.....though the kids really like it, it is somewhat controversial as the game ends with a "stealing round". This always leaves the potential for things to get ugly, and seems to be the opposite of what Christmas is about. Oh well.....we made it through with smiles on everyone's faces, and I think we are all still friends.


Laura made it fairly well throughout the day, needing nebs only every 3 or 4 hours. She was not quite as rambunctious as normal, but she seemed to enjoy herself with all of the relatives, and her twin cousins. She finally curled up on the couch at about 9pm, with her new Max & Ruby dolls clutched tightly to her chest. Thomas did great, keeping smiley and happy all night long(all the extra attention probably helped)...he even kept that adorable Santa hat on the entire time! At 10:30pm, all the kids headed off to bed, and it was back to ending the day the way it had started.....wrapping presents....this time til 3am!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Special Sunday Visitor

I don't know which my kids get excited about more....a visit from Santa, or a visit from Papa Don. From the time we met him seven years ago, our kids immediately fell in love with him. And not just one or two of them, but ALL of them. Papa Don has this unique way of being something to every one of us. He wrestles with the little ones, and plays silly little kid games like "Jail", and "Hide and Seek", making them all giggle til they nearly pee their pants. He plays smartsy games with the older kids, spending hours playing chess, Star Wars miniatures, or an online computer game with them. He has even been known to make a model with them over a weekend. To us adults, he is also great as a friend! As a bonus, he can even cook too! and well!!
He and Laura have a special relationship....he is her Godfather. Since she was an itty bitty baby, he has been able to calm her fiery-ness and make her smile regardless of mood. He adores her, and she adores him. Today, she was in heaven as we got to spend a few hours with him to celebrate Christmas. In anticipation, she talked about this upcoming visit all week. Everyday, she would wake up and ask me if we were going to church. After my answer, she would eagerly state, "Papa Don is coming to our house after church." Honestly, we heard more about Papa Don coming this week than we did of the upcoming present-opening extravaganza!

Despite snow and ice, and 50 MPH winds, Papa Don came to visit sweet Laura and the rest of us. We met at Crispy's hockey practice in Mound, where Crispy was thrilled to get the extra attention. Then we spent a short while at our house....Papa Don energetically playing all of the little games the kids have grown fond of. Our visit was cut short due to the bad weather, and we were all sad to see him go. We look forward to another great visit soon....after all, he still needs to see the awesome light display!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hockey Post~#14

My son keeps telling me I need to write more blogs about hockey. "Hockey, hockey, hockey...", he says. The problem is, hockey is one of those things that is much better experienced in person than that which words can describe on paper (or in cyberspace). One can not possibly get the full effect of a good checking move against the boards unless one is there to hear the slicing sound of blades scraping on ice as the solid thud against the wooden boards reverberates in harmony with the muted clashing of helmet to helmet, and stick to stick. Not only that, but one must be watching the progression of the player(s)/team over time to appreciate what is happening in the present.

Hockey seems to consume our lives during the six month period beginning September through early March. It is not at all unusual for Michael to have a practice everyday of the week, or to have a scrimmage later in the day after having an early morning practice. In addition to an hour long (or more) practice, one needs to also account for driving time (up to an hour or more round trip), dressing and undressing time (30 minutes plus), and needing to arrive between 30-60 minutes before the scheduled event. All totalled, each event ranges from 3-4 hours of a time commitment. That is a huge chunk of time for any family....if each of our kids were that involved, we would need 4 extra hours added to a typical 24 hour day, and that would not include any sleeping time!

The commitment in this case, is worth it. This is something Michael was devoted to from the beginning, and it really is the glue that keeps the rest of us devoted too. When we are watching him play, doing something that he truly enjoys doing, it makes all the sacrifices of time melt away. When we are watching him play, and play well (as he always does), it makes our hearts happy to know that he is reaping the benefits of hard work and dedication. When we hear other parents cheer and compliment our son, it is hard not to glow with pride for all he has accomplished. From unsteady legs that struggled to stand just 3 years ago, to arguably the best skater, and certainly the best checker on his team, Michael is making his mark on Waconia hockey. We look forward to the completion of our own arena this spring which will bring drives down to 5 minutes roundtrip, and will eliminate most 10pm practices. Until then, we will continue to press on and enjoy this (sometimes tiring) ride with Michael.

Friday, December 21, 2007

'Tis the Season

The Christmas festivities continued in full swing today. Jonny and Melissa each had their Christmas parties (political correctness in the school labelled them as "Holiday Parties"). After dropping them off at school at 8am, it was back home for me to grab a quick shower before joining Jonny at 9am to make gingerbread houses. His class became quite involved in their decorating, and actually used all of the allotted 2 hours of party time for this activity! Grandma made a surprise visit to the school, so I took the opportunity to join Melissa for a short while at her party after I snatched up Crispy from his kindergarten classroom. Melissa's class was busy playing cute snowman games. My favorite was throwing snowballs (cotton balls dipped in water) at a snowman target (drawn on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom). The snowballs stuck so well to the wall! It looked like fun, and all the kids were giggling like crazy, especially when an errant snowball ended up on the ceiling. I'll definitely be trying this at home with the kids one day when boredom strikes....and when Daddy is not home to see the mess!

In the afternoon, the elementary kids (Jonny, Melissa, & Crispy) had their Christmas performance. It is always quite an impressive show. 300+ students all singing and grooving together. They must put in a lot of music hours each year for this 50 minute show. Even though the gym was packed (many people even had to stand to watch), all 3 of our kids found us in the crowd....it is fun to see them beam when eye contact is made. Jonny had a few extra parts in the performance: being a part of the musical recorder/flute group, and the honors choir group, as well as a small speaking part. Daddy and both Grandmas were also able to make it, which made the show all the more special for the kids. Unfortunately, Michael had a band performance during this same time at Mall of America. Sometimes it would really be nice to have a clone(or 2 or 3)!

This evening, we had our second set of holiday visitors....our great friends from Rochester. Before they moved down south for residency, we would get together(usually on Survivor nights) no less than once per week. Back in those younger days, we would stay up until 2am, laughing, and simply enjoying our time together. As we are all doctors and nurses, we are fortunate to be able to understand each other, and can appreciate some of the same sick humor. We can also empathize with each other about the stresses involved in being part of the health care field. Since they moved, we have still been going through some serious withdrawal, so it was an absolute treat to see them tonight. Our Thomases are only 21 hours apart in age...it was so blasted cute watching them interact with each other. Our Thomas was even inspired by their scooting Thomas to get his own butt up in the air and try to move forward himself. Thank you so much for visiting....we miss you already!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Some Visits are Good

Today I did something I have not done in 10 years...I visited the dentist. I am not quite sure why it has been so long. Being busy? Bad experiences as a kid? Pain? The gross fluoride treatments? the disgusting paste they use to clean your teeth that makes me gag? I do not like going....can you tell?


I have always chosen dentists for my kids very carefully so that they will develop good habits. They have always loved going to the dentist. Really...they actually get excited about it. When we moved, I chose one here that had won Minneapolis Magazine top doc of the year. He's great. I finally got up the nerve the last time my kids were in to see him to make an appointment myself. After all, if all 5 of them go in and come out smiling each visit, it can't be that bad, right?


So this morning, I went in feeling like a pouty little 3 year old...."I don't want to be here", "I don't like it,"'I just want to go home." The dentist and his assistant were very patient and kind. They actually took the time beforehand to sit in a pleasant sitting room with me and offered Christmas cookies and coffee while we talked about things first. The checkup went well, and they were impressed that things were in such good shape. They joked that apparently I did only need to come in once every ten years...they should not have said that, because now I may do just that.



We had a REALLY great group of visitors this evening. Our wonderful friends from Vining, Minnesota came to visit. Though they are always so busy with a myriad of family engagements when they come to the cities, they somehow find time to squeeze us in....for that we are so thankful! It is one of the things we look forward to each Christmas. We enjoyed playing games and sitting around chatting, watching the kids play. It is always so nice to get together...like getting together with family. Thank you for visiting us, Hauck family! We are already looking forward to our annual summer visit with them in the country for Watermelon Day in August. Lisa is so amazing: all the home cooked food, plus homeschooling their kids, tending a large garden, and sewing many of their clothes....she could open up her own bed and breakfast, restaurant, and store in one. Nick takes the kids on awesome "tours" through the country at night, looking for bears with giant spotlights. They are always such hospitable hosts...someday I hope to be as good as that to them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's a Date!

Bob and I rarely go out. And I really mean RARELY. When we had gone out to dinner on our anniversary in May, we realized as we were driving that it had been exactly one year since our last real date. Sure, we have had alone time a lot in the past year....but it is not fair to count ER trips, and hospital stays as "dates". A real date...Once per year. That's not very often.


Tonight, we went to a lovely German restaurant in Hutchinson. Pam had given us a gift certificate last Christmas, and came over tonight to babysit to make sure that we used it. It was fabulous! It felt like we were welcomed into someone's German home, and treated to fantastic home cooked German food. So much more quaint than the restaurants in the cities. It was so relaxing just being there with my husband, not worried about the kids, enjoying the wonderful aromas, sipping on Apfel spiced wine, looking at all the pictures....I almost felt like I was back there again. The hospitality was excellent....felt like we were visiting relatives for the holidays. Sigh...perhaps someday I WILL be able to go back to Germany...Christmastime would be ultra-fabulous!


Here is an updated picture of our house. It was so beautiful today with all of the frost on the trees. It added a whole new dimension to the light show. Isn't it pretty? As Max from Max & Ruby would say, "Gorgeous!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wow...what a Great Day!

Today we drove into the cities again...this time to view the Macy's 8th Floor display of The Nutcracker. With some fancy finagling with various adults to transport my 3 older boys to and from their various afternoon and evening activities, the 4 little ones and I were able to enjoy a wonderful, stress-free day in the cities.

I picked up Melissa and Crispy from school (Melissa was kind of excited to skip half of a day!), dropped Michael off back at the house after band, threw dinner in the crockpot, grabbed a handful of snacks for the car ride, and we were off! Again, via cell phone, my mom helped me find a place to park. I really don't know where this fear of downtown came from, but I can't get past the mind mush that comes over me while driving in it. We waited on the roof level of the ramp for Grandma & Grandpa & our cousins to arrive....there. All better....now we are not alone!

We had planned on eating lunch first, but couldn't resist getting off the elevator on the 8th floor when we saw there was NO LINE for the display! We got to enjoy every scene for as long as we wanted, without strangers pushing at us from all angles and without tripping over little kids who had lost their parents in the crowd. The story of the Nutcracker was new to all of the kids, but every one of them seemed to enjoy watching it unfold scene by scene. Even the babies liked the animations and lit up displays. At the end, we got to visit privately with Santa...what a patient man he was as we spent 10 minutes getting that perfect photo with him and all 7 little people together!




We then had lunch (again with no line) on the 12th floor, where I learned that it takes 15 minutes to make a PB & J sandwich. While eating, Laura became very distressed because she forgot to tell Santa about some other things she REALLY wanted for Christmas and was begging to go back to talk to him. I tried to explain we could write an email to him when we got home. She was not too sold on this idea, and remained distressed about her plight for the rest of the day. After their main meal, the kids all munched on yummy gingerbread men cookies that Tia Lisa had purchased at the Nutcracker display. We then were on our way out of Macy's.


My dad graciously rode in my truck with me and my now crying baby as we drove through unfamiliar (to me) streets to see the frozen Minnehaha Falls. I hadn't been there since about high school! It was pretty cool to see the frozen cascading waters suspended in time....if you looked very closely, you could see water still rushing under the frozen layers of ice under one part of the falls.


We took a leisurely scenic drive along the Mississippi back to my parents' house, passing our childhood homes and schools, and looking at Christmas lights (none compared to our own at home!). After a nice little dinner and more playtime with the cousins, we reluctantly said our good-byes and got ready to leave. As we walked out to the truck, we heard Christmas carols playing from Santa's firetruck down the street. We quickly walked down the road to the next corner to catch another glimpse of Santa. He waved as he passed us, while his firemen helpers passed out candycanes. As Santa drove away, Laura yelled out that she wanted Max & Ruby DVDs for Christmas....he seemed to reply "Ho ho ho!" She turned back around with a look of satisfaction and relief that she finally got to finish telling Santa her Christmas list wishes. What a nice end to such a wonderful day!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hollidazzilicious

Today was one of those awful days that the barometer was quite high and must have been falling quite quickly. Both Alex and I had headaches painful enough that they were messing a bit with our minds. In church today, pastor was giving a very good sermon, but it was so convoluted to my headache polluted mind, I could barely keep up. When we then were asked to supply interactive responses to what we had learned, I felt like an idiot....it did not even seem like he had been speaking English! But I guess he had been, because the rest of the congregation was able to provide each response quickly and enthusiastically.Oh well, I will have to listen online in a few days. While I am very sad for my son to be forced to endure such agony, it takes a bit of the edge off (I think for both of us) to have someone actually understand the magnitude of the misery. When I ask Alex if he will run my head over with the truck to relieve the pain, he knows exactly the position I am in, and likewise, I can empathize with him.

While I wasted my day on the couch with my eyes closed, under the umbrella of mercy (see, I was able to listen a little bit at church!), the girls were at Grandma's house baking Christmas cookies. Daddy took Michael to his hockey game. Alex was visiting his girlfriend. My mom kept us informed throughout the day of the goings on with the Miami cousins in case my headache went away and we could meet them somewhere. In a surprise move, I motivated myself with mind power off of the couch, took my remaining children into the truck, picked up Grandma Z and the girls, and met everyone downtown (!!!!!!!!!) for the Hollidazzle parade.

We found parking in a ramp that had obviously been built before SUV's came around. My truck brushed the clearance sign as we pulled in, but there were too many cars behind me in the crowded downtown streets for me to back up and get out. We held our breaths and drove about 7 MPH, careful not to hit any bumps along the way that would cause us to "jump" a bit into the ceiling. We managed to find a spot, and were on our way to meet everyone at their skyway seats. My mom kept us informed via cell phone, and did her best giving me directions to where they were. Unfortunately for me and the rest of my crew, my brain, even under normal circumstances, seems to freeze over when I am faced with being downtown and trying to find my way around. It is like a weird panic attack felt only in my brain (the same thing happens if someone talks to me about computers or chemistry). Once outside, we ended up walking the wrong way, but my brother thankfully had spotted us from their skyway perch, and ran down to rescue and lead us safely inside. On the up-side, I think that our little lost jaunt in the cold evening air helped my headache quite a bit, and allowed me to enjoy the last part of my Sunday.

The kids were very excited to be with their cousins again, and to watch the parade. From the giant Cub Foods shopping cart, to nursery rhymes in lights, with Santa and his reindeer at the very end, we all happily and comfortably watched through the windows of the skyway. Thomas cheered as he sat at the window watching the pretty lights go by. Laura seemed more interested in the snacks that Grandma had smartly brought along, but at least she was being well behaved. We all agreed it was even better than last year. I think Grandma Z was happy to finally see what the Hollidazzle parade was all about, and she definitely enjoyed seeing the Miami family again. Jonny & I hope to view it from outside next year to experience the sounds with the sights....as long as it is warm enough!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cheese, Please!

Today we attempted (and most importantly, succeeded!)what seemed to be the impossible. We had the Connelly Family Picture taken. 20 people, 7 of them being age 3 and younger. Besides a big group session, we also split into 4 families for separate pictures also. The whole session lasted 1-1/2 hours. What was really impressive was how generally well everyone did! Here it was, at 10 am, in the middle of nap time for the babies and snack time for the other kids, and everyone held it together so well! Except Laura, of course. She was very stubborn because she was being directed what to do: where to stand, how to smile, what to do with her hands, etc. This did not fly well with her. She became just more obstinate and ended up having a huge tantrum. She hasn't had one of those in about a year! It was a hideous thing with her screaming like a crazy person at the top of her lungs, and looking like a kid way out of control. Daddy did great with her and didn't cave in to her in the least. So the episode eventually passed, but I am not certain she learned anything from it....she did it again later that afternoon at our house. She is just so dang stubborn!

We had a great day visiting with our whole family together. We ate lunch at Pizza Ranch (thank you Grandma & Grandpa!), then came back to our house to just hang out, play , go sledding(my brothers and I each taking our fair share of tumbles down the hill...that hurts a lot more than I remember as a child!), and sip hot cocoa with Christmas marshmallows. It seems so odd that it has been a whole year since we have seen the Miami family...it feels like we have just blinked and a year has gone by already. Thanks to the wonderful world of internet and all the pictures we have been able to share back and forth over the course of the year, the miles separating us do not seem as long and severe.

All the girls looked especially cute together...5 in all, roughly the same age, with Melissa as big sister. It is so much fun to watch them giggling and doing girlie things. Outside, they looked like pretty little pink and purple puff balls against the white snow. Lucas took an instant liking to Crispy, and followed him everywhere...I think Crispy was thrilled to feel so important! Thomas copied everything that Lucas said(and most was in Spanish)...he said sounds we have never heard before. The older boys learned to play a Grecian game with Uncle Cally, and taught Grandpa some cribbage. Grandma enjoyed sitting in the rocking chair holding sweet babies. With the twins and Abi, Laura & Melissa were simply thrilled. What a great day!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our Cousins are Coming!

Uncle Cally (my brother) and Tia Lisa will be flying in from Miami tonight with our cousins Abi (years old), Lucas (1-1/2), and baby Matthew (4months). It has been one year already since we saw them last. Jonny, was lucky enough to go to Miami this summer with Grandma & Grandpa to visit them....he had a great time: Kayaking in the Florida Keys, airboat ride through the Everglades searching for alligators, lots of good Cuban food, and watching the fireworks over the ocean from a ritzy hotel in Miami Beach. He enjoyed the time with his cousins in their own home. He also got to spend great one on one time with Grandma & Grandpa which is also a very special luxury!!


When the Miami cousins came last year at Christmas, there was not much snow on the ground. This year we have plenty! We are so excited to share the Minnesota winter with them and play in the snow. I wonder if my brother misses this stuff at all? We are also looking forward to meeting the new little one. They are not flying in until 11pm tonight, but my kids keep asking about it all day. Even though they are so young, I am always surprised by how well they count down the days and remember time already. Crispy and Melissa have been counting down the days until their cousins arrive for about 10 days now. It really was impressive. I guess they are just so excited!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winter Wonderland

This morning was one of those mornings you walk outside and the beauty of the day takes your breath away. Every branch on every tree, every rooftop, every long wetland reed was wrapped in sparkly thick layers of frost. It was like a scene out of an expensive Hollywood movie, or a Dayton's 8th floor Christmas display. Not a cloud in the sky as the watermelon-orange sun rose slowly over the hill welcoming us to a new and beautiful day. It was so gorgeous...unable to capture on film...without the right words to describe it....like a hug from God. One of those perfect mornings that makes winter here so worth it despite the cold.

It has been so nice to have the snow this year...it is like the winters I remember as a child. The kids have enjoyed playing outside on the few days warm enough to keep their skin safe: sledding into the wetlands, snowshoeing in the backyard, using the snowball makers, and making a few snow angels. The past few years, we haven't had much snow for them to enjoy these childhood pleasures. Last year, it was New Year's Eve when we finally got enough snow to play in! Despite the bitter cold wind and bedrest at the time, we all bundled up in the dark and went sledding in our backyard, just so we wouldn't miss what might be our only chance to finally play in the snow that season.

Now, my front entryway is a disasterous mess with snowpants, wet mittens, boots, and puddles all over the floor. Rarely do these things seem to be on the rugs or in the bins where they belong. It has been a frustration to me over the past few weeks until today when I realized once again just how beautiful and wonderous winter is. We are lucky to be here. It really is only in a few select places on this earth that we get to experience this rare beauty and outdoor fun. Sunshine and green trees abound over our planet. But a usable, enjoyable winter wonderland? That is something unique and special to behold.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Minnesota Not-so-Nice

We have all heard the stories of over-pumped hockey parents getting into fights over calls made at KID's games. Thankfully, we have been lucky enough to avoid those situations thus far. It is something that I can not comprehend. I guess we are just not competitive enough, because to us, we believe that sports at the kids' level should still be fun. Isn't that why they call match-ups between two teams a 'game'? Just like Candyland, or checkers.....it is a GAME. These are KIDS. We are all suppose to be having a good time.

Tonight, Michael's hockey team had a late night scrimmage against a team from another city. A scrimmage is even more relaxed than a game because it does not count on district rankings. It is basically a fun practice session, except with referees present...the kids really enjoy scrimmages, but they do play as hard as if it were a real game. Towards the very end of the game, one of our guys had quite a bad run-in with an opposing players hockey stick. The handle jammed hard into his stomach and knocked him flat onto the ice, clearly in much pain. Barely a minute passed when some dad from the other team started obnoxiously yelling, "Oh, come on! He's just faking! He's not hurt! Let's go!" After several minutes of this, my husband, natural advocate for children, had had enough. Bob calmly walked over to the guy and said,"Hey, that is really poor form," and politely asked him to stop heckling our injured player, who is just a child after all. Naturally, this did not sit well with Mr.Heckler. He tried intimidating us for the last 2 minutes of the game using threatening stares and body language. He stood at the top of our aisle, as if daring us to walk by. His pride had somehow been injured by my husband's request even though acting like a donkey's behind was apparently perfectly acceptable to him. As we waited for our son to come out of the locker room, his eyes threw daggers at us continuously. I don't know how Bob felt, he stood out of this guy's view path, but I was REALLY nervous. I was sure this crazy, angry-for-nothing man would be waiting for us and our baby in the parking lot with a knife, or gun, or something. The tension in the air felt heavy. This all seemed so ridiculous......I don't get it! Are things like this really so important to get so worked up over? Aren't we adults? What in the world is going on?

Lucky for us, our son is always last out of the locker room. We watched as one by one, our comrades left the building, soon to be leaving us to fend for ourselves alone, 45 minutes away from home, in the middle of nowhere, where no one will hear us scream. Even though Heckler Jr had come out of the locker room 10 minutes prior, Heckler Sr continued to glare at us and wait. We'd never been in a fight before...were we going to make it out alive? Our son continued taking his sweet time, and finally after almost 20 minutes, Mr.Heckler left(maybe because now it was 10:30pm and he had to drive 40 minutes home also). I was still expecting a dangerous meeting outside. But when we finally emerged from the building, the guy was not there. Whew!

I guess we can only be in charge of ourselves and what we do or say. People who are irrational and mentally unstable are going to make decisions in like manner leading to very unpredictable outcomes. It is unfortunate that we have to fear for our own safety in what should be a regular encounter with a fellow human being. But that is the world we presently live in....we are not immune to this, even here in Minnesota.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Minnesota Nice

Christmas is getting closer. And while I had started shopping in September, which is entirely unlike me, I now find myself panicking with all the gifts I have left to buy. Despite a barometer headache and my back still thrown out from my baby sleeping on me Saturday night, I NEEDED to leave the house and do some shopping. So, after picking up Crispy at the bus stop, and Michael from band, we headed to the cities. A quick *nutritious* stop at Taco Bell, and we were ready for some power shopping before the other kids came home at 3 o'clock.

We made it through the toy store, and electronics store buying only presents for people on our list. Not a single cave-in "present" for my little helpers today even though they squealed with excitement at each new aisle laden to the brim with toys. They did a really great job picking out things for others and resigning to adding things they wanted to their Christmas list. Even Laura made it without being crabby and difficult!

Later that evening, I was driving home from cub scouts with Jonny, and stopped to fill up gas in Daddy's car as a nice surprise for him. As I reached for my credit card to pay at the pump, I could find it no where. Being that it was my bank card with direct access to our checking account, I became immediately distraught. I remembered that the last place I used it was Taco Bell (I had to use a big-guns card at Toy R Us)....why was it not in my purse? At home, I called Taco Bell, hoping they had forgotten to give me back my card, while my none-too-pleased husband stood by waiting to cancel our account. After 5 minutes of looking, TB came up with nothing. Rats....where was it? I now remembered grabbing it from the TB guy, but not putting it in my purse. Why was that? I ALWAYS put it right away. I began thinking I had thrown it away with the TB bag in the toy store parking lot...I must have been loopier than I thought on headache meds and muscle relaxers. I guess that would be better than being in the hands of someone else. I called the toy store anyway to ease my mind. Luckily, a woman had turned it in earlier that day...around 2pm when I was there....she had found it lying in the parking lot. What a relief! ALL of our money is in that account, and anyone could have picked it up and gone on quite a wild shopping spree. I am so thankful to that woman who found it immediately after I lost it, and who did the right thing even though it could have been so easy to ignore it or worse. I am thankful for living in this state of ours, and for all the people in it who prove that we live up to our namesake of "Minnesota Nice."...even the people who live in the big city.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

One more Cheerleader

Baby Thomas is my buddy. He goes with me everywhere and rarely complains. One of his favorite places to go is to the ice arena. That's a good thing, because that is where I feel I most often find myself...especially on the weekends. Sometimes even 3 times in one day! He seems to like the colder air, and watching the kids zip back and forth on the ice. When we are at games, he enjoys all the attention he gets from fellow hockey moms, and thinks we are all funny and sometimes crazy as we cheer and get all worked up about goals and bad referee calls.

For the past few games, I have been working on clapping with Thomas. We will cheer as I help him clap his hands together. He just smiles from ear to ear and thinks it is a lot of fun. He never replicated it, but often by the end of games, he would be making noises as we cheered.

Today, I left with Michael for 30 minutes to take care of our neighbor's dog. When we got home, Daddy was sitting on the floor playing catch with a ball with Thomas. Each time Thomas "caught" the ball, my baby cheered "Awahaw!" and clapped his hands together! He was not only catching a ball, but clapping and cheering all on his own! Now how did that happen? I only left him for 30 minutes and Daddy taught him a new trick. Thomas was so proud of himself. Maybe Daddy should be the one homeschooling Michael too.....Michael could be done with high school by next Saturday at that rate!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Mystery of the Manger

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season also comes the respite of the kids' many Christmas programs and concerts. Alex started it off on Thursday night with a high school and band concert....what was so neat, is that in our PUBLIC school, most of the selections played were traditional Christian carols: "Away in a Manger", "What child is This?", etc. This happens time and time again in our school district. Just yesterday, the kids brought home a letter from the elementary school asking for prayers for a teacher who just lost her husband. Honestly, sometimes this public school district seems more like a private Christian school than did the private school we were sending our kids to in the cities! We love our school district!

Today, Jonny, Melissa, and Crispy participated in the children's Christmas program at our church. There were more than 200 kids in the show....it was quite an impressive turnout. These kids have been practicing every Sunday since September, with extra rehearsals last week (sometimes 3 hours long!)and the result was fabulous. Jonny and Crispy each had a small speaking part, and Melissa was part of a dance routine. It is such a great way to start the season's festivities and to keep the meaning of Christmas in perspective. Listening to the children sing about the gospels and reciting verses into the microphone was truly priceless. I sometimes felt as if we were in the middle of a Charlie Brown Christmas special with how sweet their voices sounded. Our church takes ministry very seriously and the gifted people who volunteer their time to make it happen dedicate countless hours to the cause. The result is always fantastic, accurate, worshipful, and moving. Even with the memorized songs of the Christmas program still floating in their heads, the kids are already so excited to start up practicing for the Easter program after the beginning of the new year. We love our church!

After the program, we had dinner and poker at our house with everyone who trudged all the way out in the cold. Thank you Grandma & Grandpa, Grandma & Lyle, Uncle Billy & Aunt Sharon, and Dave, Carly, & Ryan!! The kids were so excited to share their story with you....it meant so much to them to have you there. And we had such a fun night hanging out with everyone in the glow of the fireplace amongst the din of "Check, bet, or fold" and "All in!". We love our family!!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Lights, Music, Action!!!

After many painstaking weeks in the bitter cold, Bob's Christmas Light show was unveiled this evening. We have had people driving by since Thanksgiving, hoping to catch glimpses of the best lighting display in Waconia since 2004. During the weekends, our neighbors (who have a view of the cul-de-sac out their front window) have told us there are sometimes 50-100 cars who stop by on any given night to watch the show. Bob finally had to put a scrolling LED sign in our front yard detailing the delay and anticipated start date. He has spent every available moment outside when he was home for the past 2 weeks. He has been bundled in his now quite familiar snowsuit, with hot cocoa in hand, working in snow, wind, sleet, and subzero temperatures. Nothing has held him back as he has worked on his show. He has endured great physical suffering as well, as his elbows have ached from plugging in more than 400 extension cords into frozen sockets, and his shins have been battered and bruised from moving the gigantic ladder around the yard. What does he have to show for all of his effort? A fantastic Christmas Light Show! He has around 25,000 lights strung in our little front yard and a few on the house. He currently has 2 songs programmed to choreograph the yard which can be listened to in the warmth of your car on FM 107.3, and is working on a third. The addition of colored spotlights and theater stage lights on the house and landscaping has led to more broad lighting options. He even has some cool strobe lights in the big trees that add a special sparkle at select times. Every year is bigger and better than the year before. I am not sure if you can see the lights from outer space yet, but I would put money on that for next year!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Warm Fuzzies

It is so beautiful with all the snow covering the ground. Everything looks so crisp and clean and new. The sun is shining and the snow is as a sparkling blanket covering our neighborhood. I hope it will look just as pretty tomorrow as I look out the window from the spot on my couch I will be bedridden on from all this shovelling over the last few days. OWIE! I think every joint in my body is jammed from the insults thanks to the compacted snow hiding under the shiny fluffy white stuff.

Just as the flakes are sparkling outside my window, my children's accomplishments seem to be sparkling this week as well. Today, report cards came home. I am pleased to say that all of the kids are doing wonderfully....We've got "A's" aplenty for EVERYONE! Melissa is making great progress on meeting her team goals in school as well. At conferences, I enjoyed the gushing comments over my children from their teachers: "Melissa is so sweet, and so determined. She is just a joy." "Jonny is such a leader in the classroom. All the boys want to pick him as a partner for assignments." "Christopher is so bright and kind...he does not have a problem with anyone or anything." "Alex is an amazing kid...I like his passion for things." "Michael is such a great student and role model..I will miss him in our classroom." And the comments went on and on. As icing on the cake, Michael was also named as one of the hockey captains this evening for his team!

I take no credit for these things....my kids' accomplishments are their own doings. They are projections of the usage of their God-given gifts and talents. It pleases my soul to see them utilize their abilities and to let themselves shine. Each year, actually each conference I attend, it seems harder to fight back the tears of joy and pride (good kind of pride) in my children. It is such a fantastic thing to watch them blossom over the years....not only academically, but socially and spiritually as well. Looking at my baby, I can see each of my other children as they were as infants. It boggles my mind to compare them from their tiny little starts to the big things they are doing now. God has certainly blessed us greatly...for that I will be forever thankful...even on days when things seem impossible. My children ROCK!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Carbon Copies - Tubby's Cowsuit - Which One Is Thomas?

Will the real Thomas please stand up?
Recently I came across this photo of Christopher that was taken at roughly the same age. We have always thought that Thomas has been almost an identical copy of Crispy, and it seems to continue to be shown as such. It is almost uncanny! It should come as no surprise then, that even their personalities are nearly identical...both so laid back, happy, sweet, easy, sad little cries that are rarely heard, smiles that light up a room, and big, beautiful blue eyes. It is though they are identical twins born five years apart (I wonder if that may be possible??). Very fitting that Thomas' name often is referred to as meaning "twin" !!


Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday Madness

Every year, there seems to be one day during the week that is always crazy busy. In the past, that title was nearly always reserved for Thursdays. This year, it has been Mondays. Not only is it busy during the day as I try to recover the house from the invasion of all the kids over the weekend, but evening activities seem to be never ending. Throw in a couple of dental appointments, an ortho visit, an eyeglass appointment or two, a spontaneous haircut, math league, beginning homeschooling, and two hours of shovelling...whew! Was I even inside my house today?? At 5pm, I was rummaging through the kitchen for dinner ideas when I found a large bowl overflowing with bread dough I had placed to rise in the oven earlier that morning at 8:30 am! Intent on tossing it, I decided to bake it up anyway, and though a bit deflated, it was a great treat for us all...we are all fresh breaders...yum, yum! After inhaling dinner and attending to Laura's lacerated punture wounds on her head due to a surprise encounter with her neb machine, Jonny & I were off with the baby to an extended cub scout meeting. Let me tell you, you have not experienced terror until you have been in a room full of 10 year old boys (some with obvious ADHD)mixed with real saws and power drills...I was awake til 2am just trying to mentally recover from that experience. We did manage to unwind and watch Chuck when Michael came home from hockey at 9:30 pm. Oh my, has it been a busy day!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

All in the Spirit of the Game

As I highlighted during Thanksgiving week, Michael has come such a long way in such a short time regarding his hockey skills. It has been so much fun to go to his practices and games and watch him master this sport before our very eyes. Today was was of those sometimes speechless moments as we watched his game. Michael just owned that ice today...he was out there on fire, checking kids cleanly and forcefully, meaning very successfully, knocking them down like flies. He was a force to be reckoned with today...at times I could scarcely recognize this once timid skater as my son. It was sometimes comical watching the players on the other team as they visibly panicked as Michael closed in on them...they knew they were going nowhere but down. One of the great things about Michael is that he is such a leader and example to his teammates this year. His actions had a positive effect on the other kids, so soon after the first half of the first period, our whole team was like one big checking machine. They did not win the game, but they played such excellent hockey today. To clarify, I am not one for violence, and our kids were playing cleanly and by the book...they were playing hockey at it's best despite bad refs. It was fun to see them come together as a team, and so encouraging for Michael to see that his stepping up made huge differences for the entire team. To top off the experience, Michael was given the game puck today and recognized for his efforts. Go Michael! Go Wildcats!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Visit with Santa

Even though the first snowstorm raged outside, I found myself leaving the house five times today as is typical on our busy Saturdays. The highlight today for the kids was twofold: first, the beautiful white snow..enough to cover the ground and play in. Secondly, going to visit Santa! Living in our little town has provided us with so many nice quaint opportunities to experience some of the sweetness in life without pairing it with big city hassles. Our visit with Santa was nearly a private appointment. Each kid got several minutes of one-on-one time with Santa, plus a 10 minute photo session (I as photographer), and were sent home with one of Byerly's way-too-awesome apple pies that can feed the whole neighborhood. The kids also got to hang out with Santa in the cookie room and ask many intriguing questions like ,"How do reindeer fly?", "How many elves do you have?", "How do you make all the toys for all the kids?". Santa was able to give answers convincing enough for everyone. They also got to meet a real reindeer in training named Jingles...what a beautiful animal! With the snow falling all around, it was such a beautiful day...almost seemed like Christmas was just around the corner....Ack! It is!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Trimming the Tree

After way too many days of the kids asking, and the honest intentions of doing it, the kids and I finally put up the Christmas Tree today. All of my little helpers brought the branches up from the basement one by one, then carefully opened up each branch and placed it in it's correctly colored rung on the towering trunk. They all waited (not so) patiently, as it took me about 4 hours to hang the lights...between the very very sad and crying baby, and finding the mystery lights that actually lit up when plugged into the wall. They were so eager and cute as they ripped open the ornament boxes and hung them all on the tree....it was like Christmas morning as they opened things they had forgotten even existed, and lovingly placed them each precisely on the most perfect branch. Everyone was very proud of the end result. As they worked on the tree, Melissa and I made "Happy Hockey Pucks" and frosted mint brownies for her Girl Scout Holiday Boutique the next morning. Christmas music played continuously in the background, and hot chocolate was always ready. If it were not for the screaming baby in the background and the pile of his poopy clothes in the corner, the day would have nearly been picturesque.


As a reward for our busy day, Jonny and I got to spend the evening at the Timberwolves game with his cub scout troop. It was nice to get away and enjoy some time with boy #3 (Grandma stayed at home with Thomas). The game was really good and exciting for the boys. We were actually ahead most of the time until the last period. Oh well, it is not about winning or losing, and we had a lot of fun.