Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas 2012 (Part 1)

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted, but I also can't believe how crazy-busy it's been around here either.  So Mom, sorry this post is so long in coming.  This is for you!

This year the kids were very excited to get a Christmas tree (shocker)!  They didn't want to wait for their dad to get done with his finals on the 13th of Dec., before getting a tree (again, shocker)!

I thought it would break some long-held, deep, universal law of nature to get the tree without James.  I thought the earth might implode or the season vanish. To not go as a "family" was unheard of. 

Then a friend and neighbor, who's husband is also in school, but is all done with finals and boards and is just working in a clinic, told me that they had just gotten back from cutting down their tree.  She had taken her kids while her husband was at work!  

Whoa, wait a minute, you can do that!?!  The seeds were planted in my head.  The wheels in my brain came to a screeching halt and slowly started moving again, in reverse this time.  In the end, we looked at the weather forcast and during a break in the rain, I took the kids to a Christmas tree farm... without James! 

We wandered around for about 15 minutes.  We found a few we liked and finally picked one.  I started the sawing and Logan and Taylor each took a turn as well.  It was fun for them, until they got the saw stuck and couldn't budge it anymore.   Then it was, "Moooooom!  It won't move anymore!"

We chose a small tree (5 feet), which is good because I had to heft the thing back to our car.  We got it home and in a tree stand and almost straight, all without James.  Next year, we're going as a family again!

James brought the tree in the house for us and I strung the lights and the kids decorated it.  It was a real team effort.  

It was nice to just sit back and watch the kids decorate the tree.

 They did such a good job, I didn't even have to "rearrange" any of the ornaments when they weren't looking.

They studied the tree and discussed where to put certain ornaments.

 And thus, is the story of our Christmas tree this year. I don't think I have a picture of the finished product though.

The kids then made "gingerbread" houses a few days before Christmas.  

I really should have been doing something on my mile-long to-do list, but we did this instead.  And we all had so much fun.

 We just used graham crackers this year.  Wow, it's so much easier than making your own dough and all.  They turned out cute too!


 Logan's finished house, complete with fence around the property and smoke coming out of the chimney.

  Taylor's two-story house, complete with icicles hanging from the eves and a woodpile in the yard. 

On Christmas Eve we went to James' parents house.  We had a huge Christmas Eve Buffet, a Sharp family tradition.  There was enough food to feed an army.  Unfortunately there were only 6 adults, 4 of whom were counting their calories, 1 of which always eats like a bird and 1 who was training for a marathon.  There were also 6 children, all under the age of 10.  

We did our best though.  We gave it a valiant effort.  

James and I have always told our children the "truth" as we know it about Santa Claus.  We're not Santa experts or anything, but we've always answered honestly when they've asked about about "the big man."  James jokes that he doesn't want all the credit (and gratitude) for the gifts to go to someone else.  I have just felt that I want my children to know that if they ask me a question, I will always tell them the truth.  

So that's just how we've done it in our family.  I know everyone has their own Christmas traditions and Santa may or may not play a part in them.  I think whatever good things people choose to celebrate at Christmas is great and that traditions are wonderful.

Well this year, with the Polar Express book and movie being a favorite, the kids have talked more about Santa.  

     Taylor even left out cookies and milk for him.  

 We've never done this before...

 but we played along...

and it brought wonderment and joy to their faces.  As you can see, Logan's is the wonderment and Taylor's is the joy.  

I'm going to have to finish up this post later, but not too much later.  Promise.  But it's time to put the kids in bed and I want to post something tonight. 

So I will return again soon. 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you all are having a wonderful day and that you're surrounded by loved ones (and not too stressed about it either)!

In preparation for our Thanksgiving meal, I did something I haven't done in years.  I made a chocolate pie.  Not just any chocolate pie either, it's the kind of pie my grandmother and mom would make when I was growing up.  It's quite special.  

I'll share the family recipe with you all though.  First you make a traditional crust.  I use the recipe out of my Betty Crocker cookbook that my grandma gave me when I got married.  Then you cook the crust and let cool.

After that you take a box of Instant Jello Chocolate Pudding and mix it per instructions and pour it into the pie crust.   Ta-da!  There you have it, the chocolate pie of my youth.  Simple, but tasty.  

The Thanksgiving Chocolate pie (and a mini apple pie for James).
I told the kids I'd make us the chocolate pie and then showed Taylor the finished product in the fridge last night.  It was bedtime, so as I walked her upstairs to her room, I told her all about how her great-grandma and nana used to make that same pie for me when I was her age.  

"Really!?!" she said, "Can I get the recipe?"

"Sure, I think I handle that,"  I answered.

"Then I can make it for my kids someday!"  she finished.
This morning the kids have been working on their Thankful Lists.   
Here are some of the things Logan is thankful for
(in no particular order)
Jesus, Nexus, boots, books, toys, money, cups, food, scissors, Taylor, myself, H2O, paper, electricity, pens, Daddy, Mommy, cars, Legos, birds, house, bed, USA, the human body, cords, pencils and ears.  
Taylor's list, (in no particular order):
Heavenly Father, Jesus, family, toilet paper, boots, Mom, Dad, books, toys, cars, Nexus, scissors, tape, butterflies, rainbows, US flag, pencils, clipboards, skeletal system and eyeballs.

I think they're off to a great start.  I'm thankful to have made it on their lists.  It's always nice to know someone is grateful for you!

Logan's is very interested in birds lately.  It started out as a Cub Scout thing, but he wants to continue to learn more.  We've checked out lots of books from the library and we've sprinkled bird seed in our backyard to attract birds.  

Logan uses some binoculars to do some birdwatching out our back window.  A few days after we put out bird seed we noticed lots of small birds out there.  Logan looked them up in his bird fieldguide and decided they are Oregon Race Sparrows.  He also observed that, "birds move a lot, that's why they're so hard to investigate!"

Well, I need to get back to our holiday festivities. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

By the way, I'm thankful for you!!! 




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Camping With Papa

 Papa That's what my kids call my father.  And they adore him. You'll soon see why.

We recently went camping with him.  Well, he was hunting and we joined him for a couple of days. 

The kids loved it.  They got to sleep in a tent.  They got to have a campfire and roast marshmallows and decide that they like them better not roasted.  They got Pop Tarts (a little camping tradition I can't get rid of). 

With James in school all summer, this was the first time we'd gone camping in months.  In fact, James wasn't able to come with us because he was... in school.  

 My dad taught them to fish.  Logan was so excited about that.
(I remember Dad teaching me to fish when I was a kid.  I remember those very same tackle boxes.  I remember Blue Gill and Large Mouth Bass.  I remember having fun on the lake with my dad).  

 Now here we are, my dad teaching my children to fish.  All eager to learn. 

Taylor even held the pole for about two minutes.

Then she was off to walk around and see how close she could get to the water before I got after her.  She looked in the water and discovered dozens of tiny fish.  Then she and I went on a walk and let the serious fishermen carry on.

Logan loved fishing and didn't want to stop.  We saw a fish jump to the left of the dock and then felt it jump under the dock.  Logan was determined to catch a fish because he knew there was at least one out there.

 He was getting pretty good at casting by the time we left. 

 Then Papa taught Logan to shoot a bow and arrow.  Logan thought it was the best thing ever.  That's all he wanted to do, the rest of the time we were camping. 

 We went over some safety rules for both shooting the bow and for fishing.  After that Logan kept saying he couldn't shoot the bow and arrow without "safety vision.  You know when a grown-up has to be with me."   (Supervision)

 We all learned to shoot the bow and we all practiced enough to get pretty decent too. 

 Logan, the Archer.  He kept asking if we could "do archery."

 It was beautiful weather while we were camping.  Cold though, partly due to the fact that we didn't really pack well for cold weather camping.  Snow was forcasted for that night or next day.  So we decided, much to the kids' disappointment, to cut the camping short by a day.  

 This is what camp looked like the next day or so.  Glad we missed it. 

 It's beautiful though.

Anyway, you can see why the kids love spending time with Papa.  He's always busying doing something and usually it's something really cool, like camping or chopping wood or fixing some broken thing or another.  

They also love him to read stories to them and sit on his lap or just talk to him.  They love him to show them how things work, such as one of his clocks.   

Thanks for being the best Papa in the whole wide world! We all love you more than anything!  

Love you Dad!!!