Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I love Christmas decorations. The tackier the better, imo. Usually I like to play the elegant, tasteful, sophisticated card, but not for Christmas. Christmas, especially when you have kids, is time for the kitschy and cute. And so I have a fiber optic snowman, LED stars, a Packers Santa flag, and a stuffed moose with jingle bells on his antlers, amongst lots of other junktastic stuff. My rationalization is that I've got a boatload of kids, so they can each take a few of their favorites (which, by that point, will have sentimental value to outdo the cheese factor) with them as they start their own houses. I put out my Christmas china in the hutch, and lit that - I usually forget to put lights in my hutch, but because of all the glass and mirrors it's actually super pretty. Hero set up my Christmas in the City village (and this year, I'm the one that broke a piece) on the piano - she's been promised that when I'm old just because she puts in all the work of setting it up. The artificial tree is in the living room and is loaded to the gills with assorted ornaments and gold garland. My Caribbean-themed tree is in the living room. This year we opted for a Grand Fir instead of a Noble, just because I fell in love with this particular tree on the lot. It's not as tall as we usually go for, but it is so incredibly full and gorgeously shaped. We lasted all of three days watering it, so now it's officially on the look-but-don't-touch list. The outdoor lighting/decorating is still a work in progress, but the final touches (cords and grapevine deer) should be up and running tonight.

Monday, December 5, 2011

To the Thanksgiving Snobs

I'm one of "those" people. I decorate my house for Christmas, at least partially, before Thanksgiving. It doesn't mean I'm an ingrate. It doesn't mean I don't like simple, non-consumerist holidays. It's a matter of logistics., I don't have Thanksgiving at my house, ever. That holiday is the sole province of the in-laws. Which is totally fine by me. Until I have a bigger kitchen and double ovens, I have no desire to juggle the Thanksgiving feast. But, because it's never been my thing, I have no Thanksgiving decorations. So, when it's time to put away the Halloween stuff, out comes the Christmas stuff. It's a long process, and I try to split it up a few bins at a time. The Christmas trees went up the weekend after Thanksgiving, so at least that's something for you early-Christmas haters ;-P. The kids "help" with the decorations, but the end result is highly suspect, as you can see by the first picture.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Thanksgiving to (Not) Remember

I have zero pictures from Thanksgiving. Mainly because I was too busy disinfecting our home from the vicious stomach bug that wiped us out, one or two at a time, the week of Thanksgiving. It started with Colin on Sunday night, progressed through James, then the baby girls got it on Monday, the older three came down with it on Tuesday night, with Allegra still being down and out over actual Thanksgiving, and then I wrapped it up by getting violently sick on Friday night. Thank god for small favors at least - I made it through Black Friday shopping LOL. It was icky, icky, icky. We're all fully recovered by now, but we lost an area rug that we just cannot get the smell out of, yuck! I *think* it was a lovely Thanksgiving dinner by James' family, but honestly I don't remember too much. We had turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, yams, gorgonzola and pomegranate salad, bread, cranberry-marshmallow salad, cranberry sauce, scallopped corn, frog's-eye salad, waldorf salad, parsley biscuits, cheese-stuffed and proscuitto-wrapped dates, whoopie pies, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and sangria. We ate just fine - those of us that could stomach it anyways!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Toy Heaven

My kids love Christmas for the toys before they even get to open a single present. We've accumulated a small collection of Christmas toys, and rather than wrangle them all year round, I put them away with the Christmas decorations and the unveiling of the Christmas toys becomes a huge deal every year. This was Elle's first year to really get into it, and boy is she ever. She loves the books, Little People sets, nativities, wooden train set, and stuffed animals. Unfortunately she's not so good with keeping the "no-Christmas-toys-outside-the-living-room" commandment, so we'll have to see how many pieces we're down by the end of the month.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dress Up Stage

Elle is now solidly in the dress up stage. Not yet the fairy princess and ballerina one, just the "if I see a piece of clothing on the floor I'm going to put it on" one. So, we are always finding her with daddy socks on her feet, big kid hats on her head, and bras around her neck. It's a cute stage and I know to enjoy it while it lasts - as it is too short lived. Cecily will still put on my shoes and maybe a hat, but that's about it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Prize

We've been competing in the big annual Sonatina festival (it always happens in early November) for a few years now. It's very competitive - children compete in one of 15 different levels, all playing the same piece, and a judge selects a few for honorable mention, and the top two, who go onto a recital (on the Steinway in the Morrison Center Recital Hall, yay) that night where they play again, in front of a large audience and more judges and are awarded either first or second place. Hero won first place, once, several years ago, and has gotten honorable mention twice. It's always a stressful thing that they spend months preparing for, and some years it's went better than others. By and large, this year, it was a great one. Allegra really challenged herself by choosing a difficult piece and received an Honorable Mention (usually I wouldn't be overly enthused with that, but her level was tough AND she squeezed a full Nutcracker rehearsal in as soon as she finished playing) and Ian, aka the smirky one (hence the chipmunk teeth - I swear they aren't that "bucky" in real life LOL), earned a trip to the Honors Recital, where he nailed his piece and took home the First Place trophy. He was insufferable (just ask his big sisters) for several days afterwards, but, hey, I guess he earned it. It was great for him to get to step out of the shadow of his big sisters for once.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Halloween found us down one kid, as Hero is now too cool to trick or treat with her siblings, and instead went with some of her friends in the subdivision. Luckily they wore their costumes for the piano recital a week prior, so at least I have a picture of her. She was a Mad Hatter, Allegra was a Peacock, Ian was Luke Skywalker, Colin was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Cecily was Alice in Wonderland, and Elle was, of course, a duck. We took the big double stroller, and Cec treated it like her own personal taxi - she refused to walk from one house to the other, no matter how many few steps it was in between the driveway. It was a pretty mild night, and we trick or treated for about an hour before Elle got too cold (since she can't walk yet, she was confined to the stroller and was being bribed to be good with Smarties).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Carving Time

Hero lost interest after two pumpkins this year, and James was working, so I was left with most of the pumpking carving duty. Luckily, Allegra, Ian, and Colin were totally into cleaning out the pumpkins this year. The boys stripped down to their skivvies and I got some good blackmail pictures (((insert evil cackle here))). Don't worry about the questionable hygiene, though, you won't be served any pumpkin pies from the kids' jack o'lanterns this year as I was too lazy LOL.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Patch

Not the birth control or smoking kind - the pumpkin variety! We had a marathon pumpkin patch visit this fall - the only Saturday we could sneak it in into the schedule we had Hymn Festival in the morning, and Nutcracker rehearsal in the early afternoon. The kids were literally doing clothing changes in the car, and we each made a mad dash for the first acceptable pumpkin we could find as soon as we disembarked from the hay ride. But we made it and the kids had fun. I think it was one of our smoothest pumpkin patch trips yet (and it didn't involve any inappropriate peeing - as you can see, the bar is set pretty low in our house LOL).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hair Firsts

That's a funny title - let me explain what I mean. While the "fun" of doing girls' hair fades quickly (Allegra begs me to do hers but it doesn't happen too frequently), I always get a kick out of first ponytails and pigtails. Cec has super fine hair, but it grew quickly and is quite long. She's been wearing ponytails since before she was one, but in September I gave her her first pigtails. She was adorable. Elle, on the other hand, is a different story. Her blond hair is super fine and has grown very slowly. Most of the time it just does its own crazy mohawk thing. I did manage her first wispy little pony last month, straight on the top of her head, and I don't think she was impressed. We'll be sticking with soft headbands for her for a while still.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Go Team(s)!

It's almost hard to write this post after this last weekend in college football. But I'm not a fairweather fan, so I'm sucking it up and still showing my alma mater Broncos some love. We got the little girls all decked out to support both of our teams this year (Elle has a matching Packer dress, but for some reason I never got a pic of her). At least the Packers are doing awesome! I want a do-over on a Super Bowl party, so here's hoping!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I think this is hilarious. If that makes me immature, so be it. James was so proud of his homegrown mutant tomato. We ate it, too. Ah, the joys of gardening. Once James started his new job he got too busy to keep up with it and we have some zucchinis still sitting on the patio that are the size of a human thigh. Luckily my freezer is already packed full of grated zucchini, so I don't feel too badly about throwing them out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

School Year 2011-2012

The new school year thing has been getting passe lately, but this year we got to experience a first: we sent our first kid to Junior High! Wow, that is still weird, two months later. Hero is a 7th grader at West, and she's doing great (although I'm still having to adjust to the thought of her going to dances and wearing mascara). It's been an adjustment to get used to the uniform thing but it's worked out fine (except for the fact that she changes the moment she gets home, so I'm now having to do more laundry, grr). Allegra started 4th grade at Maple Grove and it's going swimmingly. At parent-teacher conferences her teacher told us that she's extremely capable and he sees her being able to do anything she sets her mind to, as an adult. Ian is in 2nd grade and he has Hero's 2nd grade teacher, whom we love. He's really taken off academically, and although he's a bit quiet in class, his teacher says that all his classmates adore him. Colin in is his second year of preschool and it's so funny to watch him become a quieter, more well-mannered child the moment we step through those doors. Hopefully it stays that way. It's hard to believe that Cecily will start preschool herself next year!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grown Up Time

So, the fair was all about the kids. But that same weekend, James and I got a little grown-up time - we redeemed a gift certificate to the Anniversary Inn. It's SO much fun and a fantastic getaway in town. We enjoyed dinner, some wine, and a quiet evening in our Palace Suite. I can't wait to get back there again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Entire Month!

I can't believe I missed an entire month! James has a new job, which is a HUGE blessing, but it's been a bit of an adjustment, and we're still working on it. I think that, combined with the increasingly busy school and extracurricular schedule really has thrown me for a loop. I'm so horribly behind, but I'll try to catch up quickly. Back to August, where I left off, the last big end-of-summer hurrah for us is the fair. This year was easier than last year (trying to deal with a newborn and new walker) but it was still a challenge. I remind myself that it's going to get easier with every passing year. We lost (not literally LOL) the big girls for most of the afternoon as they did their own thing riding all the big rides. It's hard to believe that the two of them were the ones riding the little tiny kid rides with us and now here we are doing it again with Colin and Cecily. Ian is in the in-between stage, which is frustrating for him (too big for the "kiddie" rides, but not tall enough for the bigger rides). It was hot, hot, hot too. Ice cream does wonders to keep kids happy, as long as I can ignore the mess.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer Vaca? You be the Judge

Ah, the big camping post. Now that we are more than a month out from our camping trip, I can look back at the pictures and smile. Isn't that always how it goes with camping? Obviously I have a love/hate relationship with nature, always have. In early August we headed up to what has become our go-to camping spot (only about a 2.5 hour drive, easy access, not too cold at night) near Cascade. It was a family affair with us, Nana and Papa, Aunt Jennifer, and Oriana. We stayed for two nights and then headed home with Cecily, Colin, and Elle while everyone else stayed for an additional night. It was a glorious exercise in lax hygiene, let me tell you. It felt like the dirt/bug spray smell might never come off. We enjoyed the staples of camping - big egg, bacon, blueberry pancake breakfasts, smores, hard cider, burning stuff (that never gets old), instant coffee that manages to taste like heaven at 7am after sleeping on rocks, and pit toilets. There was some fishing that happened too - none successful on our part (although it was fun to take the semi-functional raft out that left my backside ensconced in it's own personal little pool the entire time - at least it was hot, right?) although Papa and the kids did catch some. Several of us (myself included) managed to fall in a creek - fun times. Nothing like getting your shoes wet halfway through your camping trip. But I'm making it sound worse than it was. Obviously it can't have been too rough, as we have promised at least TWO camping trips next summer. Camping as a family builds character and togetherness. Please tell me that I'm right. ;-P