Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas morning w/ Mabel
We have been all a flutter with holiday preparations and holiday celebrations!  We have been blessed with a wonderful holiday season - time spent together as a family, time spent with friends, another Christmas with Great Grandma, a roof over our heads, food on the table, and warm beds to sleep in.  This year was extra special because we welcomed a new addition to our family -- on Christmas morning we surprised the girls with a puppy!  It has been a long time coming (years since we last had a dog, forever since we had a pet that showed any interest in the girls) and my husband and I have been keeping the secret (along with a select few) since before Thanksgiving -- it was tough, believe me!  On Christmas Eve, my husband drove 3 hours round trip to pick up our new puppy from a Mennonite dairy farm!  The woman had lost her husband this past year and this was her last time breeding puppies - she has a lot on her plate handing the farm on her own.  Our new puppy is a black and white Boston Terrier and we named her Mabel Rose!  She is very sweet, particularly when she is sleeping - which is frequently! - and right now she has a wild, puppy "bite-y" side...  We're working on that.  That and potty-training.  It's like having a toddler in the house again!  But we all love her and we're excited to have her join our family!  I was thinking the other day that when my husband and I got married we were a couple, when we had our first daughter we had started a family, when our second daughter came along our family was complete.  And now, adding Mabel to the mix, our family is "enhanced!"

Wishing you and your family Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Should We Say to Our Children About Tragic Events?

Following the tragic event in Connecticut on Friday, which sadly, has been the most recent in a long line of tragic, unthinkable events, I know of so many parents, including myself, who are seeking the right words to say to our children.  In our house, we have tried to avoid the news when the kids are around, although on Friday afternoon I saw that one of my 11-year-old's friends had sent her an e-mail breaking the news to my daughter.  Fortunately, I saw it first and was able to tell her about it myself.  I saw later that she had an exchange with this and a couple of other friends on e-mail.  We talked about it again this morning during and after church.  I was prepared for some discussion about it in church, but was unprepared for the depth of details the deacon went into about the event in CT as well as detailing many other events - 9/11, Columbine, the movie theater shooting, etc.  As soon as he started speaking I lifted my 6-year-old onto my lap and drew my 11-year-old closer to me.  My husband and I had spoken very briefly and vaguely to our 6-year-old on Saturday, so I knew that she knew a little about it, but not so many details.  Friends and family have been on Facebook this weekend discussing what happened and what we should do and how could this happen and looking for answers where sadly, there are none.  But it was also a nice forum to exchange ideas for talking to our children.  A friend of my sister-in-law's posted this information and I also received a link to it from my 6-year-old's school, in a reassuring e-mail from her principal.  Here is a link to the National Association of School Psychologists' Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers.  

My heart breaks for the families in Connecticut who lost so much on Friday, for the children who survived but who had to go through something that no child should have to experience, for the staff who put the children's welfare first, and to the whole community of Newtown, CT.  And my heart breaks for all of the children across the country who may be walking into school tomorrow feeling that school is not as safe as they once believed.  And my heart breaks that we even need to have these talks with our children - that there are people in the world that have no respect for human life, that have no compassion for innocent children, that have no fear of or respect for or faith in God, and who are so deeply troubled that they can see no light at the end of the tunnel.  I hug and kiss my children each and every day and I tell them that I love them each and every day, but I, like other parents, am hugging them a little tighter these days. 

May we all find peace and love and hope this holiday season, and each and every day.  God bless!

Outtakes from the Christmas Card Photo Shoot

Nothing like waiting until the last minute...  Thank heavens for 1-hour photo printing!  We have received so many lovely holiday cards from friends and relatives, but I haven't had the time to take any photos -- or an idea for a card!  After church today, I had the girls put on their Christmas dresses and I took 87 pictures of them with my digital camera.  I ended up getting a 6-picture "collage" card online at Walmart, which says "Counting Our Blessings" -- that seemed appropriate this year.  Here are a few of the outtakes from the photo shoot -- I'm sure you parents can relate!!

She was being a monkey...  Literally.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Midnight Wake Up Call

So last night, I had a dream that my 6-year-old had climbed into bed with us in the middle of the night.  I groggily got up and went to the bathroom at about 3:30am and when I climbed back into bed, I found that it was not a dream, and there she was, all cozy in the middle of the bed!  As I was settling back in she said to me, "Mama, we never said the pledge at our Girl Scout meeting last week!"  (We got distracted with painting our hand-print ornaments as soon as the girls arrived, so that they would dry in time to use the Sharpies to decorate!)  So I said, "I know, Sweetie, we'll do it at next week's meeting."  And she said, "TWICE!"  Ok!  I guess she told me!  Apparently we are raising one super patriotic kid who wakes up in the middle of the night to scold me about the pledge!  Gotta love her enthusiasm, if not her timing!  ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Very "Pinterest" Holiday Season

I know I am late to the party, but I have been on Pinterest for about a month or so -- LOVE IT!!  I have been finding all sorts of wonderful ideas on there, and I have actually used some of them this holiday season (I drive my husband crazy when I buy cookbook after cookbook and never try any recipes...  But Pinterest is free and I've actually been putting it to good use!)  Here's what I've tried:

Waffle Cone Cornucopia
 These were great -- you take a waffle cone, dip the tip in water for 20 seconds, microwave for 20 seconds, and then carefully twist the tip to curl it.  We filled them with candy and nuts and out of foam paper, I cut acorns and leaves and we used them as place cards too!  This will be a new twist on my Nana's traditional candy & nut cups -- we'll definitely do this again!

Hand-print Snowmen Ornaments
 I did this one with my Daisy Girl Scout troop -- we had a production line and it worked out great!  My co-leader painted one of the girls' hands, then placed a blue ornament on the open palm, had the girl close her hand around the ornament for a few seconds, and then she took the ornament and voila -- 5 little finger-shaped snowmen!  We placed them hook-side down into an empty ornament box (could also use an empty egg carton).  We had written the girls' names on the ornament box so that we could keep track of whose hand-print was whose...  When they were dry, we had the girls write their first name and the year on the bottom (palm print) and then with Sharpie markers they decorated their snowmen.  Everyone loved this craft!  The kids had fun making it, the parents who were there loved the idea - a few (including me) and planning to do this for presents - and we sent the girls home with their dried ornaments wrapped in tissue and placed carefully into gift bags -- already to give to Mom and Dad for Christmas!

Toilet Paper Roll Snow People
 While the Daisies were working on the hand-print snowmen ornaments, we kept the other girls busy working on toilet paper snow people.  We collected empty toilet paper rolls and wrapped them with a wide strip of white paper (we used glue sticks to adhere it, you could also use tape).  Then we used other pieces of construction paper to "dress" our snow people -- I used black with the bottom folded over to look like a top hat.  My 6 year old made a little yellow tiara - as all snow princesses wear!  We also used construction paper to make scarves -- one girl in the troop came up with the idea of cutting the edges for fringe.  Another girl came up with the idea of cutting stick arms out of brown construction paper.  Honestly -- give a child an empty toilet paper roll, some glue, paper, scissors & markers and they will take it from there! 

I have to say, doing those two crafts REALLY kept the girls busy and entertained!  That was the quietest I've heard them so far this year!

Holiday Stove Top Potpourri Mix
 I head a committee at work that meets once a month and there are 6 of us, all women, who are in a conference room from 9:00am - 4:00pm meeting with individuals with developmental disabilities who are in need of services.  We have lunch together, we take breaks together, we chat, we bond -- it's a great group!  We had our holiday lunch this past Thursday, in between meetings, and on a whim I thought I'd whip up bags of this Holiday Stove Top Potpourri Mix.  It was so easy, it smelled great, and everyone loved it!  I'm definitely putting some of this on my stove (or in a crock pot on low!) this holiday season, and this is going to be my go-to hostess gift! 

 I may have another Pinterest trick up my sleeve for someone as a holiday gift -- I'll have to keep that under my hat for now!  If you haven't been on Pinterest, check it out!!

Update to Cell Phone Wish List...

So, I'm kicking myself that I didn't buy that Doc McStuffins doll set the day I took that picture -- my girlie wants it for Christmas and now it appears to be sold out!!  :(  I promised her we'll come up with something she'll love just as much, if not more!  (That wasn't the only thing on her list, thank goodness!!)