Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Skirt for Annabelle

I actually have something to show for my labors today. Three cheers for an hour of free time. The boys wanted me to make marble bags for them (they got marbles in their stockings last week, and have not been able to contain them ever since). So I drug out the sewing machine (I so wish I had a studio - someday) and a box of cotton quilting scraps. Anna pulled this scrap out of my fabric stash and said: "Skirt!" I found some ribbon in my mess of a sewing drawer, and a skirt for Anna was born.

Here she is swishing around in her latest delight. Did I mention I love having a girl?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

The Homeschooling Life (on a good day)

After two long weeks of snow and festivities, everyone was ready to jump back into school. That is somewhat remarkable considering the groaning that often pours forth from my off-springs' mouths when the word "school" is mentioned. Since a lot of you have asked me about homeschool, I thought I would take this chance to give you a little snapshot of our day. Keep in mind this is a good day - the kids and I were all excited to get back into the swing of things.

Erik (who is enrolled in kindergarten at our local elementary school) decided he wanted to do homeschool with Djeryd today. He worked on patterning with a calendar and stringing beads. Anna like the idea of beading as well, and sat down with her string and the remaining basket of beads. We use big painted wooden ones.

While Erik busied himself with patterning, Djeryd did copy work (he has terrible handwriting), read a book about weather (he then "showered" me with interesting facts for the rest of the day), wrote about Christmas in his journal, and perused a book on ancient Egypt.

Anna amused herself with a tea party for herself and Tinkerbell until succumbing to the temptation of Erik's beading efforts.

After that she decided she wanted to write a few thoughts down on pink (of course) paper.

Around lunch time the kids were tiring of their studies and I needed to make some bread for dinner tonight. Erik and Anna pulled their little red chairs up to the counter and gazed, enthralled, at the wheat grinder for a solid five minutes while the heaping pile of wheat kernels dwindled slowly down an invisible chute. After the dough rose, Anna "helped" shape rolls (I don't think any of her dough actually made it to the baking pan - it all ended up in her tummy - thankfully it was a very small amount).

Even though today will seem ideal and magical to the casual observer, it was filled with the usual fatigue and frustration of any other day around here. The house is a mess, despite my having cleaned it all day long. I fret about my kids getting the very best education they can, and the fine line between flexibility and follow-through. I love homeschooling. Although it seems like every day consists of climbing a mountain blind-folded, it is more rewarding than virtually anything I have done as a mother (aside from giving birth, etc.). I feel like I'm changing the world by helping to build these wonderful little people in a tremendously personal way. It's taxing, but I wouldn't trade it for anything (most of the time). ;>

Princess by Day, Princess by Night

What can I say? My darling Annaliese knows exactly who she is. She often wears her crown during the day, but I have never seen her wear it to bed and actually fall asleep with it on. She is definitely our little princess (a title I swore I would never attach to one of my children). She rules the roost by day and reminds she has every right to do it by wearing her royalty on her forehead at night.
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Friday, December 26, 2008

We Did it Again

How did it happen again? How did we manage it? More importantly, how can we make sure it doesn't happen again?

After a full 25 days in December, each of which should be honoring the memory of the birth of our dear Savior, we managed to arrive at Christmas day almost completely oblivious to the true celebration that is Christmas. It hit me like a slap in the face this year as the constant chorus from my children was: "Aren't there anymore presents?" Now mind you, my kids have three Christmases; one with my family, one with our family, and one with Sean's family. They get tons of presents, too many, if you ask me. It broke my heart to hear them say: "Is that it?" in disgust after each party. Like Scrooge talking to the Ghost of Christmas Past, I do not want to dwell on that scene any longer.

So, I have been thinking. How can I ensure that we do not have a repeat of this year? I think my deepest concern is not only that my children do not realize how lucky they are (think of all of the children without food and heat this Christmas), but that Christ was not at the core of our celebrations. In that vane, here are the resolutions I am considering for Christmas 2009:

:: A completely homemade Christmas - all gifts will be created by hand - starting in January so as to be finished by November, causing my children to actually think about what they are giving.

:: A deep and serious research project of sacred Christmas traditions to be enjoyed throughout the entire month of December.

:: Create an advent calendar with a scripture/story related to the Nativity to be read each day leading up to Christmas.

:: Having my older child/ren (Djeryd and maybe Erik) participate in serving the needy - face-to-face, hands-on.

:: Concentrating on some REALLY good lessons for Family Night (ours are usually thrown together 5 minutes before we need to start) for the month of December (the whole year, actually, but this is not my New year's Resolution List - but I digress).

We will give that a try and see what comes of it. As a closing thought, I have an Easter to share. A couple of years ago, we spent the week preceding Easter discussing the events of Christ's life for the week leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection. It was simple with a new picture hung on the wall each day. We did this at dinner time every day. The spirit in our home that week was incredible. I don't think we have experienced anything like that since. I was lazy last Easter and neglected our new tradition. Easter felt empty. That was the word that kept going through my head yesterday: Christmas feels empty. We missed it - the whole point of the whole season was lost on me and my family because we did not take the time to celebrate and embrace and remember the reason we have Christmas - our Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope we don't miss it again.

If any of you have ideas or suggestions I would love to hear them.

Merry Christmas,
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Playing Dress-up

This is why I am up so late tonight. I (Sean helped, too) have just finished assembling Christmas presents for three of my nieces. I think they turned out so cute. They are little fairy "paper-dolls" made out of craft foam. I got the idea from a great book called Fairy Crafts by Heidi Boyd. It evolved into quite a project, but I think they are adorable. The picture on the cover of the book is of my niece, Emma, when she was the poster child for Flash! Digital Portraits.
Here is a fairy all dressed up and ready to hit the town (or pansies, or mushroom glens, or wherever they go (I will have to check with Laila, my fairy-aficionado niece)).

And here is a selection of her wardrobe options.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Snowman

I am sure you are all sick of hearing about the snow, but it is so incredible. A friend told me today that the last time it snowed like this in Portland was 1968!! It is crazy! The kids made a snow fort today that is actually quite large and completely covered in snow (it snowed almost all day, again). There is a layer of ice about 10 inches down. The kids broke off pieces of ice and walked around eating them. Djeryd insisted it was his food storage supply of pizza. He stashed the chunks in the "freezer" in his snow fort.

Sean said he was "popping a major wheelie" in this picture. The level of the yard is so high that I am getting views of my culdesac I have never seen.

And last, but not least, our dear shrinking snowman. He is drowning in snow and I am beginning to fear for his little, cold life. As you can see he has lost all of his gumdrop teeth. I believe quality of life sharply declines without proper dental care. I suppose if the suffocating snow does not do him in, then surely his poor oral health will.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nine Whopping Inches . . . and Counting

We were snowed in, yet again, today. One more week without church. It feels very weird to not be at church. We finally got around to making ornaments today. I printed them sometime last week as I was feeling guilty for not encouraging holiday crafting traditions (I am horrible about traditions). I think they turned out really cute.

We woke up to a one inch glaze of ice over our 6 inches of snow this morning. We then got more freezing rain and more snow. We are up to nine total inches of snow on the ground right now. I wish I would have charted the snow fall with Djeryd each day for a math/science project. I have lived in Oregon City for virtually 19 years and I have NEVER seen this much snow! It is crazy, and so much fun to witness. Though I don't think we'll be heading up to Mt. Hood for our annual snow day - we are getting pretty snowed out.

Our snow-drowned vegetable garden.

The backyard is beautiful with all of the light reflecting off the snow.

The snowman the boys built yesterday is slowly being absorbed by the freezing rain, sleet, and snow. (One-third of his 30-hour-old body has melded into the accumulating snow.)

I hope you are all warm and safe and cozy.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Images I Just Had to Share

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Once There Was a Snowman

It is officially day six of our snowstorm, with a few more days to go. Thankfully we get a break of rain here and there to clear up the roads and get that last minute Christmas shopping done.

Today brought the fortune of snow, and Daddy having time to play outside, together into one great snowman-building morning. Hope you enjoy the shots.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Disneyland - Summer in the Snow

In the midst of more continuous snow than I have seen since my college days in Idaho, I thought I would bring you all (and myself) a little taste of summer. Here is the much anticipated Disneyland blog. Sean took most of these pictures (as you will be able to tell, since I am actually in the pictures and not him). I hope you will be able to feel the aching feet and sweaty shirts. Smell the churros sold on every corner. Taste the frozen lemonades. Hear the ubiquitous Disney movie music. And here are the sights to go along with all of those wonderful sensations.

Our gorgeous hotel, The Grand Californian.

Annaliese and cousin Brookie.

Cousins in Goofy's Kitchen.

Waiting for the parades was one of my favorite times of the day. We all had a chance to relax and talk and just be together instead of rushing around to rides and sights.

A very rare shot of my brother smiling (he's the one with the camera around his neck (ha,ha)).

Not so good eats, but an incredible atmosphere at The Rainforest Cafe`.

Three cheers for my Cousin Timmy, who got us in the gates every single day!!!

Outside Indiana Jones (fantastic ride, when it's working). Look at the detail in the design elements like the manufactured concrete behind us that looks like ancient stone. Amazing!

The biggest disappointment I have in looking back through all of these pictures is how much we missed capturing on film (digital film, that is). Not only places, like New Orleans Square, but people. No matter how many times I comb through these photos I can't seem to find any more pictures of my kids smiling faces. We don't even have a single group shot of our entire entourage. I wish we had a picture of the train of parents and empty strollers and slow-poke little kids we made as we wound our way around the park.

In all honesty, not a week has gone by since arriving home that I have not had an actual dream about Disneyland. It was fun and pleasant and exciting and completely magical. Our hotel was on park grounds so a couple of days we actually went back to our rooms for naps or a swim in the middle of the day. Does life get any better than that?

I know some people who criticize Disneyland because it seems so small and boring compared to more fantastic versions of itself. But as a former Southern Californian, Disneyland suites me just fine. It is a perfect mix of childhood loves and memories mixed with the newness of reinvented classics (the new Peter Pan ride is beautiful). I love that I can share a piece of my childhood with my children. And I love that they love it. I am wishing my family many happy returns.
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