Friday, December 31, 2010

I'll just say it... this year sucked!

(Not my photo. Duh. Grabbed it on-line.)

I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood. ~Calvin (Bill Watterson)

I'm just going to let it all out right here and now. This year was awful. It followed directly on the heels of a pretty bad 2009. But, 2010 was looking promising. I mean, really... how much more could we handle?

I'd say that the elimination of Jason's job was the catalyst of the train-wreck, but I don't know that to be true. It just happens to fall at the beginning of the longest year! When we knew his job was ending, we prayed and planned and prayed some more. Neither of us were worried. We had a plan. He's capable & educated. Time off & a new career? Surely this was a disguised blessing.

If so, we're sick of being blessed. 6 months of unemployment to end up with a less than desirable job dropping new issues on our doorstep. Thousands spent on fixing up the house to sell, just to have it sit in this dormant market. Hundreds of resumes/ applications sent on both of our behalves with so little response, I'm beginning to wonder what pox has been visited upon us! An emergency fund and retirement account depleted just to survive. Here we are... more than 9 months later. It's bad. And, I just am no longer optimistic that my life will return to "normal."

Could it get worse? Oh, sure. I do know what other life-altering events could be just around our corner. How dare I question this year's trials when real sadnesses mark the days of last year for many of our friends. Complaining seems sinful: just one more thing I'm failing at these days.
Will it get better? Of course. It always does. But my conversations with God aren't so sure. I'm scared that the life I never took for granted will not be returned to me. I miss it so.
Is this my fault? This is what I struggle with most. Did I not take care of the gifts I've been given? Have I placed too much faith in my own abilities and my own plans? Have I not planned well enough?
Let me say, all of this stress has sandwiched a year full of joyful things. I could list happiness from each month with pure exuberance! My friends & family have had remarkable joys and we've had many as well. Nevertheless, I have neglected so much to give so much attention to the ongoing crisis at hand...
So, as the new year is arriving, I am not optimistic. Nor, am I pessimistic. I just am. We have 365 days until 2012. I wonder what they hold for us. I pray that this time next year, I'll be able to announce some great lesson learned. Stay tuned...

Christmas treasures...

Yes, this is Kirsten (from 1854) in her 2010 clothes! Grandma is gifted in many ways, but we really appreciate her seamstress abilities! This was Lou's most loved shirt from Carol, outgrown long ago... It was one of three that we just couldn't pass on... (and, really... who else has a Kjersten?!) Grandma reconstructed those three favorite shirts into heirloom clothing for Kjersten's American Girl dolls.

Lou's gorgeous bed created by Uncle Josh.

Beautiful bedding for the bed made by grandma!

(above photos courtesy of Kjersten- did you see the purple bed on the red carpet. Ack!)

You wouldn't believe how happy George is with this Real Wood Kit. He's been saving his money- he has $.16 in his jar. It would have been $.21 but I wouldn't let him retrieve the nickel he swallowed!

In any case, Auntie Michelle caught word that he wanted "just this one thing" and his life would be complete and felt compelled to retain coolest gift-giver status. Mission accomplished.

Have you met George? This kit kept him entertained for a full hour upon opening. It has occupied many more hours in the last week. It really is nifty and I've heard the "wood" pieces can be bought in bulk at Hobby Lobby. We're just waiting on one of those 40% off coupons!

Christmas Day

Following breakfast at home but alas no nap.... This is what we find waiting for us grandma & grandpa's!

Patiently waiting...

Gift in hand and still waiting...

Now, who thought this was a good gift for George?!

Uncle Josh teaching the boys how to arm wrestle. Guess who won?

Without a doubt, the highlight of Christmas day was the hay ride, being towed by Grandpa Paul's tractor! He went all out with lights and Christmas music. I'm really not sure who had more fun, grandpa or the rest of us!

Trying to fit all those kids on one trailer...

Uncle Josh with Thomas.

Christmas Morning

Our morning began far too early... Rhys & Kjersten set their alarms. In my sleepy, barely conscience state I heard them talking as they headed down the hall to wake the little guys. I couldn't stop them. I wanted to. I just couldn't move fast enough! So, with precious little sleep Christmas morning was upon us!

Cael loves his Legos. Cael loves everything.

Another awesome gift from Auntie Michelle!

Inspecting stocking stuffings...

I missed a picture of Kjersten with her American Girls Doll, Kirsten before she undid the braids. Period hair- gone. Period clothing- gone (immediately after this photo was taken)

Eventually the sun came up to join us!

Happy, silly, sleepy boy.

The following video shows Cael excitement at getting his own Build-a-Bear! I thought he'd enjoy taking it to the mall to get its stuffing and such. Yeah, not so much. As you can see from the picture, he still put "teddy" into his Buzz costume. It's much more fun now that we've been to the mall & teddy has some girth!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Poor frosty

Cael was trying to build Frosty (think felt board) and apparently it was too much for him! Now, he's sleeping on Frosty!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas at the Zoo!

We didn't go to the zoo to see Santa. We went to see... penguins and camels and Frosty! After a lovely drive through the light displays, listening to Christmas carols punctuated with Cael's enthusiastic commentary, we were told Santa was inside the gift shop/classroom area. Not being a family to pass up the chance to look at Madagascar hissing cockroaches or snakes while waiting to see Santa, we trekked right in!

The line was long and fraught with issues. Cael. Potty issues and anxiety over that "Santa guy". Think those issues might be related?! In any event, we decided to stick it out and gage his mood when we were "next". Surprisingly, he perked right up and said he wanted to sit "by" Santa on Rhys' lap. Ummmm... okay! So, here's what we got. Rhys had to be encouraged (or is that, threatened?). Kjersten would only go with her brothers. Y'all know Cael's deal.

George, however, was horrified to discover that it was to be a group picture. Seems he wanted some one on one time with that "ho ho ho guy". Request approved.

Side note: There's a reason his coat is ON and zipped up to his chin! He let Cael pick out his clothing for that night's outings (the zoo and a Christmas party). Well... let's just say, he DID have on purple & gold Vikings sweats with the black shirt with a white skeleton (makes him look like an x-ray). I insisted that one or the other had to go. Not knowing we would be having a photo op, I think I lucked out that he chose to keep the shirt and change into (hole in the knees) jeans. The coat wouldn't have helped with purple pants!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A star is... voted down.

This crew "helped" us set up the tree. They also decided that the big red star behind the tree was sufficient. So, no tree-topper for us this year. It's just not necessary when we put the tree in the middle of the room!

A little bit of this and that...

What happens when Cael is not closely supervised. Argh!

What happens when the mama reads the kiddos a story before bed.

What happens when you don't knock down big nasty spiderwebs before it freezes outside!

George made a maze for Rhys. As confusing as it was, Rhys "did" the maze and made his little brother's day!

Making our own snow. Flakes, that is...

Another advent activity that was met with great enthusiasm by all. Who knew how entertaining some coffee filters and scissors would be...

More snow, please!

Moment of impact!

It's such a long walk when your legs are so short!


I don't know why my child love to lie around in the snow or why Rhys can't be outside without a shovel in his hands! Whatever keeps them busy!

Less gingerbread, more candy!

I caved. Sort of.

I have never done gingerbread houses. Despite years of being asked, begged, pleaded with... I have never bought one of those kits from Costco. For several reasons, I am not a fan. Cheap candy, mess, constant arguments over who is eating the gumdrops off the roof... Who needs it!?

We do. It seems that this year, it was time. My concessions? With Amy's help, we got each child a prebuilt house (graham crackers + small milk carton + hot glue). This approach allows for artistic freedom. I bought less nasty candy and canned frosting for the mama's convenience.
Finally, I plugged gingerbread houses into the advent calendar on a day that there was little else on the schedule. A certain recipe for success!

And it was.

"Dirty icing" the houses, as George (and Cake Boss) would call it. I call it a crumb coat, but they don't care.

Some building materials...

Hard at work. Believe it or not, precious little candy was consumed during construction.

I didn't help Cael at all! I'm still impressed with what an age-appropriate activity it was for ALL my kiddos!

Somehow, I don't think these are going to last long!

Lou really wanted to show off her 'K'

And the front of her house.

George's house includes a water supply line and a flag.

Done completely by himself...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Born to coach?!

With our 1st soccer season behind us, we've come to some conclusions:

1. These little fields are not big enough for George.
2. Fall soccer is lovely. A few games warranted coats, but NO snow!
3. George would rather coach his teammates than watch the ball.

Leading the pack down-field!

Ready to send that ball flying...

Chasing after a ball OR skipping toward the sideline for snack?!

I can't believe I didn't get a good picture of George instructing his teammates on how to "make a wall" or who to throw the ball to... He spent significant time doing both! Instead, here's Cael making his presence known!