Thursday, December 31, 2009

The "Quick Christmas Summary" Continued

Christmas Day- We woke up to our traditional breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and/or apple butter and fruit. When we finished, Dad read the Christmas story aloud before we opened our gifts. We have to keep our priorities straight, you know. Once again, last minute gifts needed to be wrapped{please someone tell me we’re not the only people who do this}but finallyeveryone was ready in the livingroom. Everyone but Daniel, that is. His not being there{he was with Erika’s family}was the only other sad part of our Christmas. There was a Daniel-sized spot left on the couch but it was too sad to look at so we covered it with blankets and pillows.

Dad always hands out the gifts one at a time so we can all see and discuss it. It was discovered this year that certain people{ahem, Elizabeth}have an aversion to using to/from labels which resulted in people calling out ‘oh, thats my gift to so-and-so’ whenever Dad held up an unlabeled gift. It reminded me of some sort of auction.

One of my very favorite gift this year was from Andrew. He gave me a black hangable jewelry box with four spots for pictures on the front. As soon as I had the wrapping paper off he started telling me to take it out of its box and when I did I almost started to cry. Ok, I did cry but only a little. He had put four black and white pictures of the two of us in every spot. I was so touched! It means so much to me because I’ve always been the closest to him of all my siblings, and he knew how much I would love something like that. My other favorite gifts were what I blogged about here, and the beautiful You are My Sunshine print from Pretty Smitten. Grandpa used to sing that song to me so its very special.

Once again, all the good pictures are on Andrews camera so these will have to do until he gets home and I can post them.

Dad is one of those super hard to buy for types, but I found this very unique plant in watering gel with those little glass rocks you put in fish tanks suspended in it at a garden shop and thought it was perfect{if slightly weird{that was also a weird sentence}}.

I just realized those are the only presentable pictures I have from Christmas morning so I’m putting this one of Elizabeth and Daniel from the night before just ‘cause its really sweet.


For our traditional Christmas dinner we went to Auntie Carol’s. Our menu was, and always is, antipasto{the real kind, not that fake stuff they sell in stores},chicken soup, then ravioli and meatballs, followed lastly by roast beef with potatoes and carrots. I love Christmas dinner; its so nice seeing everyone dressed up and just enjoying being together.

We never have anything specific we do after Christmas dinner; we mostly just talk and play with the kids new toys{this is always best at Molly and Zach’s house because they get the BEST toys}.Molly entertained us by singing songs about bears,princesses, and numbers into her new microphone; and the boys wrested on the floor{was that their way of showing Christmas love and cheer?}; and the aunts sat around the table to discuss next Christmas dinner{because thats just what Italians do-talk about a meal 364 days from now}. Let it be said here and now: I love my family!
When we got home, we opened our stockings. This is the stocking situation in our family: Dads is the biggest, Moms is the longest and always has the most gifts inside, Daniels is the fuzziest, Andrews has little beads sewn around the top edge, mine is, hands-down, the cutest, and the twins stockings match. They are after all, twins. After that, we all cozied up on the couch in our new pajamas and robes for a movie marathon. We watched a movie about the origins of Christmas in others countries, Mr Hobbs Goes on Vacation, starring James Stewart{why,why couldn’t I have been old enough to marry him?}and three episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show{he would also have been totally fine to marry had we been the same age}. And so we finished our Christmas celebrations by going to bed on December 26th.

It was a wonderful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A "Quck Summary" of Christmas Celebrations

full of laughter
a little bit of sadness

Those words just about sum up our Christmas. To describe everything would take many, many posts, so instead I’ll try to give a quick summary.{“Quick summary”? Since when have you ever given a quick summary? You haven't even finished blogging about Daniel's wedding yet.}


Christmas Eve- Daniel, Erika, and Wesley arrived around 3 o’clock Christmas Eve laden with gifts, food, and the excitement and expectation of, for Erika and Wesley, experiencing for the first time our large, loud, Italian Christmas. We didn’t have to make the long and arduous trek all the way across the yard to my aunt and uncles until 5 o’clock, so we used the time to do what we always do on Christmas Eve: finishing projects and wrapping gifts. Well, some of us did finishing and wrapping. The other some played the piano, drank tea, ate cheese and crackers, and basically just watched us work. But really, it was nice to have the CCE(Cutest Couple Ever)and Wesley to visit with while we were finishing.

Christmas has always had a little bit of sadness since Grandpa died but I’m so thankful its getting a little easier. Of course, I DO wish he was still here, and I DO wish that Erika and Wesley could have known him but I know that he would be happy that we continue to celebrate Christmas the same way we always have. The way we did with him. I also know that he would have LOVED Erika!

We always have tons of delicious food on Christmas Eve but this year just may have topped all the others. If I described it all any last possibility of this being a summary post would go out the window{if it hasn’t already}. I always make fudge and this year I made the winner of The 2009 Search for the Latest and Greatest Christmas Recipe, Oreo Balls. Pure yumminess.

After we ate, we all went into Grandmas part of the house for our Christmas carol sing. Since we had Wesley with us this year, he played and our singing never sounded better. It was so beautiful. Have I mentioned that he’s a very well-known organist in the organist world and I could listen to him playing the piano for the rest of my life and never tire of it? It was the general consensus that he should become our permanent pianist. Our family specialty song is We Three Kings; we always stretch out “oh,Star of Wonder” to “oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....” in honor of Auntie Evelyn{Grandpas sister}who started it.My favorite Christmas carols are
Away in a Manger and Oh Holy Night but I love so many more!

Aaron and Wesley discussing the songs. When Wesley is a very well-know organist to people outside the organist world{the world that I live in}, remember that you first heard about him here.

Grandma and Andrew singing away. I'm pretty sure this was when we were singing The Little Drummer Boy. Or "the rump-a-tum-tum song", as my uncle calls it.

Skip ahead about half an hour and you’ll find us opening gifts. Almost all the good pictures are on Andrew’s camera which is with him in NJ, but we did get a couple on my camera.

Zachary was so excited about the hat and scarf Mom made him. He kept saying "look Mommy! A scarf! I really wanted a scarf! Look at it, Mommy!" It was really cute.

Alyssa wearing her new hat and scarf. My favorite part? The little button on the visor.
When we got home, we did our gifts to/from Daniel and Erika since they spent Christmas day with her family. They gave me a really pretty beaded white and yellow necklace that I wore to church on Sunday. Its nice because its not like any necklace I already had in either style or color. They also gave us an 81/2 by 11 print of the picture we used for our Christmas cards. I love it! And yes, she did really like the earrings I made her!

Examining the sweatshirt that must have been terribly exciting, judging by the way they're all looking at it! :)

This picture was actually taken Christmas morning, but its the only good one from my camera of Elizabeth wearing the earrings the CCE gave her. They also gave her a matching necklace she wasn't wearing at the time. Aaron gave her the letter Rubiks cube game.

Christmas day will be up tomorrow when I'm done making oreo balls at 12:52AM. And when I've had about 62 more hours sleep. And when I finish the post{but thats sort of a given}.

Friday, December 25, 2009

From My Family to Yours

ps This is,without a doubt, our best Christmas card ever.
Card designed by MKL Designs

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It 'Tis the Night of the Dear Saviors Birth

ps I love when Josh(we're on a first-name basis)sings this song. It is just so beautiful.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

All I Want for Christmas... to give a dozen chicks to a needy family in a developing country,

and the gift of clean water to a poor African village.

Because giving is better than receiving.

Pre-Christmas Weekend

A slight disappointment came my way yesterday afternoon: the twins mom emailed telling me she hurt her back so she didn't need me to babysit after all. After I recovered, I spent the afternoon writing cards, licking envelopes, and arguing with myself about going out now to feed the rabbits instead of waiting til later when it would be much colder. I waited "til later" and seriously regretted it.

After an early supper, Elizabeth and I went to the friends' Christmas performance at our homeschool group. It made my homeschool graduate heart proud to see how well the kids did. When the A Cappella group comes out with a cd I will be the first one at the store waiting to buy it.

Since the beginning of December, Grandma has been saying she wanted to bring us to her friends home so we could see their Christmas display. We finally went today and were completely floored by it. It was so good! They{mostly the husband}set up just over 200 miniature houses,churches, stores, restaurants, etc. along with over 300 accessories (people, lampposts,animals)in their cellar. They had a hunting lodge, Winter Castle, and even a little Starbucks store. You could spend an hour there and still not see everything.

I finished the earrings for Erika today and believe it or not{I'm still in the " I can't believe it" stage}, I love them. Being completely satisfied with a finished product is something to rejoice about when you're a perfectionist! Once I cut out all unnecessary beads, they were as easy as pie to do. I think she'll like them. : )

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Shopping Experiences

The Great Christmas Shopping of 2009 has officially begun.

Grandma and I braved the chilly wind yesterday afternoon for our somewhat annual shopping trip together. On a scale of 1-10, it would have rated only about a 6 for level of success, but up in the high 9's for eventfulness. We stopped at Joann's first where I only spent about 12 minutes deciding which beads to buy. I think it ranks up there as the shortest time I've ever spent in that aisle. Way back in early November I bought a beautiful silver pendant to put on a handmade necklace for Erika's gift. It was going to be THE gift of the year. So good that I had no desire to think up a Plan B because there would be NO NEED. No need except when the whole gift failed and I had no Plan B to fall back on. To make a long and tragic story short, I returned to the drawing board{aka the craft store}, and returned victorious with an even better idea: I would make her dangly earrings instead. I am praying{seriously, I really am}that they will come out well as its almost Christmas and, once again, I haven't made other plans if this gift fails too. I guess I don't learn from previous mistakes very well. *

As we were preparing to head to the next store, we discovered that Grandma's car wouldn't start. What could have been a tragic 5 o'clock news story of two Christmas shoppers stranded in a parking lot in the freezing cold with NOTHING TO EAT{the news people like to over-dramatize}, made us burst into fits of laughter over the whole thing. We called my uncle for advice{her car is a fancy Hybrid so I just was just about no help at all}and five minutes after we asked him to rescue us, the car started when Grandma pushed the unlock{of all things}button on her remote. That made us start laughing again{I don't really know why},and we were barely got back to our dignified selves before going into the next store. All in all it was a very entertaining afternoon.

Tomorrow I'm babysitting the twins and their big sister Keegan. I'm so happy because I haven't seen them in forever and ever over a month and I know they are going to have grown so much...maybe even rolling over, laughing and pulling hair! It will be the first time I watch all three of them but I'm excited about it. The more the merrier!
As a side note, I've been wanting baby carrier/sling lately to use with the twins and OH LOOK! theres a giveaway!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Christmas Home

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Welcome to our Christmas home!

This is the first year we've used this lantern as a Christmas decoration and I love the way it looks. It was so easy to set it on cotton and wrap pine and fresh holly around the bottom. I think it looks very elegant too.
After the tragedy if having to leave real trees behind for fake{translation: not real at all}a few years ago, the tree and I have come to terms and decided to be friends. Not best friends, just friends. Real or fake, its always exciting to see how beautiful and different the tree will be every year when all the lights and decorations are on.

If you know me at all, you know that I love 1) stars 2) silver and 3) anything sparkly. That pretty much sums up my feelings about our tree topper.

This is my Baby's First Christmas horse; my very favorite of all our tree decorations and the one I put on first every year. As much as I love it, I don't know if I'll be able to take it with me for my own tree when I have my own house because the tree "at home" wouldn't seem the same without it!

We take our mantle decorating very seriously. We've had many different, shall we say, ideas and themes that have shown up over the years, but we alw
ays have up the church, house, and little tiny people. One year Aaron put up his little green Army men at strategic battle locations throughout the landscape which was really a strech , but I allowed* them only in honor of our friends serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The snowmen in the back have been given as gifts over the years and we usually try to buy atlest one new figurine a year.
* The "I allowed" is used in the sense of 'the amount of power the big sister who is the chief Christmas decorator' yields.


* The glass vase filled with the pretty red and gold ornaments started out as an ornament wreath about two weeks ago. After repeated tries and failures, I decided to simply put the ornaments into the vase thereby making just about the easiest possible decoration ever.
* I made wreath in the top right using Christmas tags from gifts Daniel and Erika gave us last year. They were to pretty to throw away so I hot glue-gunned them to a wreath form of some sort{thats just the type of concrete fact I'm known for}I bought at Michaels. I really like it because its different from any of the Christmas decor we already had.
* The bobble head baseball player standing on the rooftop is Luis Gonzalez, coming to you straight from the Cheerios box about eight years ago. He really has served no purpose in our household at all but we've had him for so long now we wouldn't know what to do without him. Feel free to snicker about that last sentence. And so he generally resides on the piano, the mantle, or where ever else he
is in the way likes. Someone thought he'd look good up on the roof and while I took him off to take a good picture of the mantle, I thought we should have atlest one picture of him to pass on to future generations. After all, Christmas is made of memories like that.

Thanks so much for stopping by; I hope you've enjoyed our Christmas home! I hope your Christmas will be a happy, beautiful, joyful time filled with all the people and things you love, and with the memory of why we really celebrate Christmas!

And I even hope it will be filled with stars, silver and sparkly things too. ♥

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...
~Norman Wesley Brooks, "Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Garrett and Gabby

And so the weddings continue. Friday night Andrew, Marissa, Joanna and I headed to the city for the weddng of our friends Garrett and Gabby. Garrett is the first in our group to get married and, I'm not going to lie, it was slightly sad. *Pardon me while I get my tissues* Sad because we're all growing up and just a little sad for other reasons that don't need to be published for all to see. Unfortunately, neither of our cameras were working properly so I don't have any pictures of the ceremony or the couple together, but I do have a plethora{I have been waiting to use that word}from the reception.

"Wait, is your brother really playing with fire at the table during dinner at a fancy hotel? Doesn't he know he could burn the whole place down?" Yes, he was playing with fire and no,he didn't burn the whole place down. Just think how that would have embarrassed me...not to mention put a damper on the wedding AND the whole Christmas holiday. Our waiter was so impressed with the forks-balancing-on-the-edge-of-a-glass-held-up-only-by-a-flaming-match trick that he called over two more waiters so they could enjoy the show too. If interested, Andrew will perform the trick free of charge at all your major functions.

Marissa and Joanna
The two beautiful girls and I that Andrew was beyond thrilled to have the pleasure of escorting that evening.

Garrett and I*

When I was thinking about it later that night, I realized that Garrett is one of my very oldest friends. We've been friends even longer then Katie and I have. When I was younger, I always thought that I would marry Garrett and Myles{I didn't know at the time that you can only be married to
one person}and we would all live together in a cute little house. I love{slight understatement}the military so just think how much more I would have loved that idea if I had only known then that both Myles and Garrett would be in the military when we were all growed up!
*I'm a
big fan of this picture

Autumn~the maid of honor. She looked lovely and averted catastrophe by realizing that she didn't have the ring before the ceremony began. The bridesmaids actually wore the same dresses we wore for Daniel and Erika's wedding only in silver and without the jackets. We were so excited when we realized we would have the same dress!

In the top right picture I'm with my supposed-to-be husband from our younger days, Myles. The middle picture is Myles and Garrett doing some sort of dance together. Because thats just what dignified military men do.

You know, maybe I should have let Myles and Garrett in on our my wedding plans!

Friday, December 11, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Erika sent this to us in a one word email: "funny".

I would describe it in a different word: talent.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day of the Smallest Tree

Its been one extreme or the other when it comes to Christmas trees around here. Thanksgiving marked that day I decorated the largest tree ever, and Tuesday will go down in history as the Day of the Smallest Tree(mark your calenders, it was December 8th). Mrs Becker and I spent the afternoon together and created more memories and stories that will be passed down to the next generations. We also created this lovely Christmas tree:

When I got home and told Dad we decorated her tree, he said "I saw it and you could probably only fit about six ornaments on it". That may be the case for regular decorators, but not for the originators, creators, and founders of the Day of the Smallest Tree.

Mrs Becker didn't have a star or angel for the top, so I used this little Hummingbird instead. It was really very appropriate for her because she and her husband(our pastor who died in April)love birds.

I would love to have jewelry fashioned after this ornament. Maybe someday when I have my own jewelry making business, or am married to a really rich man who will special order it for me, I will. I'll be sure to keep you updated if when that day arrives. : )

Monday, December 7, 2009

Its Almost Begining to Seem Like Christmas

I feel so behind with everything Christmas.

I've been working so hard(translation--getting to bed after 1:00 just about every night)at my school the last two weeks with the goal of finishing it all by last Friday so I would have three full weeks to prepare for and enjoy Christmas. Very sadly, I didn't quite reach that goal so I've been a little discouraged. I had *big* plans for all the projects and the decorating I would be starting today so its hard to put it off just a little longer. I've been so tempted to just start everything RIGHT NOW, but I know I'll never get back to the school if I do that. I LOVE this time of year and I hate feeling like I'm losing any of this precious time. On the upside, I only have a little bit left so I'm hopeful I'll be completely finished by the end of this week at the latest and all the Christmas wonderfulness can begin!! (Unless of course, those essays decided to be difficult which is
totally possible based on past experience.)

I have been able to do a few things that made me feel better and more Christmasy:
* decorated the mantle
* watched the original, aka the BEST, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
* began making an ornament wreath with Dad
* went to the Messiah on Saturday

Daniel and Erika meet us at the Messiah and who do you think they had with them?! Dani! I was so excited to see her; it was almost like a Christmas present. She graduated from the music department there so she know
a couple people just about everyone that walked by which made her "very, very excited!".

Is anyone else doing this?
Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

I think I will be. Hopefully we'll have all our decorations up by then and since I'm guaranteed to be to photographing them anyways, and almost guaranteed to be be posting them, I think it would be fun. Even if I don't, I can get lots of ideas from seeing others decorations!

Tomorrow I'll hopefully be helping Mrs Becker, a friend from church, decorate her adorable little itty bity
Christmas tree. Every little Christmas thing that I am able to do gives me a little more motivation to NOT give up on my school, and to remember everything that makes this time of year so wonderful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Less Words Wednesday

Aaron and Paris

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

I've been so busy with school that I haven't even had the chance to do a Thanksgiving day post. My OCDness is somewhat stressing me out because its already December and I HAVEN'T FINISHED WITH NOVEMBER YET. But onto Thanksgiving.

Mom wrote a Fruit of the Spirit on each Clementine we had in our centerpiece and Elizabeth promptly decided that "goodness is my middle name". Apparently humility is not.

By far the biggest excitement of the day was going over to Daniel and Erika's for our first holiday celebration with them as a married couple. To make a long story short(which by the way, my family thinks I'm incapable of doing),Daniel and Erika bought her parents house from them as they're moving to SC in January. Daniel moved in after the wedding so currently all four of them, plus Gramma H, are living at the house(Wesley's out at college). So not only was it Daniel and
Erika's first holiday in that house, it was her parents last. It was so nice to be there for both of those, but even nicer that we could all be together as a new family. Just us with no one else
around so we could all really visit with each other.

They did a beautiful job with the table and made us all cute little place cards. Daniel insisted that we turn our place card around so that "everyone else at the table will know who we are". Apparently he forgot that we all know each other very well, and just possibly 6 of the 11 other people at the table lived with him for 20 some odd years. The illogical thoughts that sometimes come from the mouth of a biomedical engineer are truly staggering.

Before dinner we helped decorate The Christmas Tree. Apparently there are very specific methods to decorating at 12ft.{fake}Christmas tree: colored lights and red-and-white striped candy lights go on first; shiny colored balls are then strategically placed deep inside the tree in spots that will catch the most light; only then can you move onto putting up the "real" decorations. I don't thinks its an exaggeration to say that that tree has about 500 decorations hanging on it. It was so much fun looking at all their decorations. We spent half the time saying to each other "look at this one!!".

The completed tree in all this glory.

After the younger generation play Pictionary while the older talked politics in the living room, we joined forces to play our traditional Thanksgiving game of Trivial Pursuit. I feel it should be stated that the boys team had much easier questions then the girls: "what is the largest sea animal?", "what animal lays the largest egg?" We got questions like "who was the mayor of Chicago in 1935?" We then finished off the day by watching a slide show of the wedding pictures. A lovely end to a lovely day.

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." ~Edward Sandford Martin