Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good Fortune

Friends.  This past year we have been blessed to develop deep friendships with some amazing families.  These are children you want to have hanging out with your children.  These are children you have to invite to stay for dinner because the play time is just not long enough.  
Last night Lilah had one of those friends over.  Give these girls free access to anything in the kitchen and wonder never ceases.  (to clarify....if the past if I have organic flour, this would not have been allowed and I did ask them not to use the organic eggs. But since this is plain old flour, they could go wild!)

Flour, baking powder, food coloring, water, sugar.  I’m sure there were a few more ingredients but I was not in the kitchen while they were concocting (other than to snap a photo or two..)

They made beautiful play dough.  
But before it turned into the doughy consistency, it was mostly bright red and liquid....the perfect color and consistency for fake blood. Remember, this is the girl who enjoyed making fake poo out of mud and leaving it around the sidewalk to fake out those passing by.  

She totally faked out her Dad and sister with a story about a fall off her pogo stick.  
After we all sat down to a lovely meal, we were treated to handmade “future fortune” cookies.  What a perfect way to end the day!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A New Game

Now that I have maps up in between our dining room and kitchen, the girls spend time marking the states we have visited and the countries we have covered in Story of the World.  
One evening Lilah was looking at the map and wondered what the traditional dress of Hawaii is.  The next thing I knew she ran upstairs and came down dressed like she was about to visit the beach in Waikiki.  

A game was created.  
We call it: 

Did you catch that?  This is how you play: 
Mom picks a country randomly.
Lilah and her friends look it up the traditional dress of said country on Google.

Lilah rummages through her closet, my closet and the attic until she recreates the look of the country.
She models it.



The only downside to this game is the mess that was created and left on the floor after the game was finished.  My silk vest that came from Shanghai may now be officially off limits!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

So Proud

Greg’s company is located in an office building that has at least 20 floors.  When we were visiting the day of the corporate holiday party, we noticed the building had a Toys For Tots bin set up in the lobby.  It was practically empty.
We have a soft spot for Toys For Tots. My brother is a Marine after all!  My girls were concerned that so few toys had been donated just days before Christmas.  I don’t know if the donations were scant, or if Toys For Tots had already arranged for a pick up and these toys were part of a second pick up.  Regardless, my girls wanted to do their part for both the Marines and children in need.

When we were running to Target to get some gifts for my nephew, Lilah asked if she could have her dog walking money.  Normally I would go into the typical Mom speech of “It is so close to Christmas....I don’t think you need to buy yourself something right now....don’t waste your money...blah...blah..blah.”  This time I just shut my mouth and handed her the $5.  
At Target she looked in the book section.  I assumed she was looking for the elusive last book in her Poison Apple Series.  She moved on.  She looked in the toy section.  Just as I was about to ask her what she was doing, she said she found what she was looking for -- a $5 Lego kit.  She informed me she was purchasing it so her Dad could bring it to work the next day and place it in the Toys For Tots bin.  Oh my, I was proud of my little girl.
She could not understand why I wanted to snap a picture commemorating this moment in her childhood, but I took it anyway!

She went home and told her sister what she had done.  Grace immediately went and got her money.  She chipped in $10 of her dog walking money.  Lilah took another $5 and they went with Greg after he got home from work to buy more.  
He brought the gifts and and sent the girls this message:

The drop off...
Dec 19 (9 days ago)
to me
Is done. So proud of you girls!
2 attachments —   

Proud is exactly what we are of them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

There are few things in life you can count on as absolutes.  Yet, every Christmas we know that there will be at least one child spending Christmas Eve in our bed, too excited to allow her tired body the rest is so needs.  I wonder when she is 16, will she still snuggle in with us? There will be cinnamon rolls for breakfast and coffee made before any presents are opened.  Our day will start at 6:30 and there is no need for an alarm.  The presents we give each other will always be the favorites.  These things I know for sure.

There will be joy on this child’s face.  This child loves holidays, with Christmas being her favorite.  This child prepares.  She spends the weeks leading up to Christmas making handmade cards, gift for her dolls, gifts for her friends and family.  She finds joy in lighting candles, wrapping presents, and watching other open the gifts she carefully selects.  Nothing makes me happier than watching this child enjoy Christmas.

This child feels.  She feels the joy in the season and she is aware of the sadness.  She understands that she is blessed and feels for others who may not have the same opportunities as she.  She looks at her new things and is willing to part with her old things so that they may be rehomed, given away to others who need them more.  This is the child that along with her sister, spent her own money to help fill the Toys For Tots bin at her father’s office building.  This is the child who asks how we can help.  This child will grow up and use that character trait for great things.  I just know it.

This is the Dad that we adore.  He is our rock.  He sacrifices for his girls.  He is away from us for many hours at a time.  But when he walks through the door, he is all ours.  He never brings his work home with him.  His office issues stay at the office and he devotes 100% of himself to his girls.  He is the kind of Dad that plays.  Uno, Clue, Legos, Wii, he hardly ever says no.  He has given the girls countess memories of quality time spent with their Dad.

I am the Mom who tries her best to pull it all together.  I am the one who makes sure their clothes are clean for Christmas Eve mass and beams with pride at her daughter on the alter.  I am the Mom who sits back and takes it all in, this family of mine, as we celebrate a very special birth.  I hold onto the joy and the love and the peace and the harmony.  I hold it very deep within my heart.   We are blessed.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Christmas in New York is magical.  The city truly does have a palpable energy, and Christmastime is New York’s moment to shine.  The Salvation Army collectors ring their bells while dancing and handing out free cds to those, like my Grace, who gave their own pocket change.  The crowds seem more pleasant.  The pace slightly slower.  

Grand Central Station

This was our second trip in as many weeks.  Greg scored another point for getting tickets for us to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!  Having a Dad that works in Manhattan has some advantages....  It has to, in order to offset the major disadvantages (mainly that he is never home!).  

Our seats...

The show is nothing short of spectacular.  My girls were enthralled.  Flash photography was not allowed, but I was able to catch some of the main acts with my flash-free setting.

The Reindeer opened the show.

A visit to the North Pole.

There was 3-D incorporated into the show.  I did not like this.  Not only do I dislike 3-D movies, this scene was meant to be a video game being played at the North Pole.  The point of the video game was to spread Christmas cheer.  I felt this update took away from the nostalgia of an old-fashioned Christmas show.

My favorite....Christmas in New York.

Nutcracker Suite!

The closing....the live Nativity Scene.  Breathtaking.

Fortunately for us, due to a misprint or miscalculation on the part of Radio City, our tickets were assigned for the 21st rather than the 22nd.  This meant we were going the very same day as some of our favorite people!  They saw the 2:00 show and we saw the 5:00 show, but our paths were able to cross at Rockefeller Center for some hot cocoa and a bit of holiday merriment.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cookie Day!

As children grow and mature it can be harder to hold on to the traditions that began when they were just infants.  This has been especially true this year.  My nieces who were once flower girls at my wedding are now in college.   My nephews play winter sports.  Finding the time to get together on a weekend is pretty close to impossible.  But we try.  Before my girls were born, my sister-in-law began a tradition of cookie day.  
Cookie Day became something my girls look forward to every year.  Peanut Butter balls dipped in melted chocolate, Gram’s famous butter cookies, and fruit cups are what my girls chose to bake this year.  Thankfully both my girls and their Aunt were willing to roll with the changes that growing up can bring.  It was a much smaller event this year.  Their 9 year old cousin came over to bake and ended up spending the night.  Our traditional cookie day of 9 kids has been reduced to just 3 but the holiday spirit of this day has not changed.

My girls no longer need much guidance in the kitchen.  They learn that if they make a nut cup too large it will not cook right.  They know if they roll the butter dough too thin, it will burn.  They have learned this through trial and error over the years.  

The result of their efforts are cookies for us to eat and share.  A platter was hand delivered to our neighbors next door who kindly look upon my girls as their surrogate great grandchildren.  Another platter was brought to dinner at their Grandmother’s house.  Some went home with their cousin.  My girls are like little mice.  Every time I open the refrigerator door, I notice one more peanut butter ball has disappeared.  The mice.  It must be the mice.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...