Monday, December 24, 2007

I Need To Get To The North Pole, Daddy

Christmas with children is such a magical time. Baking together, playing even more games than usual together, taking time to create things together, and of course plotting together enhances their memories for years to come. In fact, many of the things I do with my children were things my parents did with me. We also enjoy making new memories and doing things that we've never done before. And this morning, Laura ventured in to new territory for all of us.

After getting Laura out of bed, I brought her in to rest a bit more with Daddy and I. We were still tired from the cleaning frenzy we'd engineered the night before and we needed a bit more rest. As Laura laid there with us, I assumed she was just waking up and enjoying the time sandwiched between her two favorite people in the whole wide world. I was mistaken. She was busy, very busy. Busy creating! All of the sudden she says "I need to get to the North Pole, Daddy." Uhhh... okay. Sure. We'll go along with that. "Oh? What do you want to do there?" That was a nice, open ended parental response, don't you think? Well Laura didn't think so.

With much determination, and as she climbs out of her sleep sack, she says "Daddy, I need a boxed. A big boxed. I wan to paint the bottom of it lellow and the top I'll paint red." Then as she slipped off the end of the bed she says "Come on guys! Let's get to worked!". Daddy looks over at me and rolls his eyes closed. Hmmmm... doesn't seem like he's up for 'getting to worked'.

Laura noticed. She goes over to his side of the bed and continues to talk about the North Pole and her need to get a big box. Then she says "I don think I wan to paint the top red. I think I'll paint it pinked!" I let her know I approve of her choice while she pokes Daddy a few times and says with as much enthusiasm "Come on guys! We need to get to worked! I'm going to the North Pole!"

Thankfully, Jonathan chose that moment to come in to the room. He went along with her creative thinking for awhile and then helped detour her to another topic. Slowly, Daddy got out of bed and gathered himself for the day ahead. I think he was so relieved he wasn't required to build a 'lellow and pink' sleigh out of a cardboard box, complete with a door that he almost danced with glee. I, on the other hand, quietly thanked the Lord for Jonathan one more time and headed down the stairs to make breakfast.

Yes, Christmas with children is a wonderful thing! More stories to follow, I assure you!

Frosty and Frostbite In The Tub

What do you do when it is too cold outside to play for very long and yet the snow makes it all so inviting??? Why you ask your Daddy to haul some snow to the bathtub for you!!! Four buckets full seemed to work well for our first foray in to bathtub building, but next time I think we'll con, er, ask him to bring up a bit more.

The first creations - Frosty and Frostbite, his dog. Note the creativity in finding something to use for Frosty's face. Can't beat hairbands I guess!

And the very proud creators, Jonathan and Laura.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Capturing The Family At Christmas...

Every Christmas it seems Mothers everywhere gather their families together, force them to dress in something they might not choose for themselves, at least not at the same time someone else in the family is wearing nearly the same thing, prop them up in a festive setting and cajole a smile or two from them while flashing lights pop when they least expect it. Yes, it is holiday picture taking time. And it would be fair to say that my children do not think of this as a part of the most wonderful time of the year. However, they eventually cooperate and my need is fulfilled for another year.

Here are some the pictures we took today. Some, like those represented here, will find their way under the tree for family members. Others won't ever see the light of day again. :) Ah, the power of digital photos!

Our family

Our wonderfully photogenic children

Here's one of my favorites! I just know Jonathan will love this one some day, too.

My Mom and Dad look great, don't they?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

You Don't Do That A Peoples!

When you as a parent are enjoying the peace and quiet on a Saturday morning, it is nice to kick back and be thankful for just how wonderful your life is, how much of a blessing your husband is, and how great your kids are. You can relax knowing that the Lord has provided so much for you, just you, and all is right with the world. And then...


Kinda brings you right back to reality, doesn't it?

Yes, my children were, emphasis on were mind you, playing quite nicely together. They were even including Laura in their fun. I was lulled in to a sense of peace befitting the season we are celebrating. Until reality came crashing in. Apparently, Jonathan and Matthew were very busy breaking one of the staunch house rules - NO PILLOW THROWING - when Laura happened to walk between the two of them. Yes, you guessed it. Smack. Right on the ol' noggin. Instead of taking the victim role, one she normally relishes with tremendous dramatic flair, she opted instead to take a more verbal role, choosing to put the boys in their place and play Mommy instead. I would have opted for a more calm approach where the pillow was snatched out from between them before they saw it coming closely followed by some question meant to help them determine that if they didn't change their activities pronto, life would be meeting them quite quickly square in their seat of learning followed by some personal quiet time, but Laura saw fit to do it her way. I can see why. She's not nearly as good at interceptions as I am but I'm sure she'll learn.

After a brief period of everyone shouting something to the other two, I heard howls of laughter coming from the room. Laura, dealing with the problem in her own way, had inadvertently come up with a way to defuse the situation and send everyone back to being the good kids that they are without breaking their spirits, or any lamps for that matter. I can't wait to see how she handles the next difficulty. Hey, if she's got the parenting thing figured out at 3 years of age, we've got a long road ahead of us! Then again, she'll make a great Mom someday, won't she? :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Making Merry in the 12 Days of Christmas

Lisa sent this to me and I just love it so I thought I'd share it with you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Plot Thickens

I have shared often of Laura's ability to plot. She learned it well. Yes, I said learned. Her abilities have been passed down from her Great Grandma "Nana", to her Grandpa "Poppy" (and let us not forget her Grandma "Honey"), through her Mommy and on to her brothers to get her her. Her Daddy doesn't hurt the process, either. He's a plotter from way back. So she has learned well. And her plotting brings much amusement to us every time she uses it as she has failed to learn subtleties yet. I'm sure that will come. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy the process.

Around here, plotting has become an art around the holidays. I learned this talent very well from two of the best plotters in the business - my parents. I fondly remember the year they purchased a 'new to us' console television. I was to be delivered so it was no use searching the house for it. And to extend the agony, my parents chose to give us clues. And of course we could ask questions as much as we wanted. But we learned early on to expect vague, cryptic answers. For instance, in wanting to know how the present would be delivered we came up with every direct question known to man regarding transportation - or so we thought. We asked if it was going to be delivered by truck, car, van, delivery van, and so on, and even threw in bicycle and wagon for good measure. But each time we were met with "No, that's not it" and a sly smile on my Mom's face. When it finally arrived, it came by STATION WAGON. And I began to learn just how to plot and plan for wonderful surprises. They pulled it off again the year they got us kittens, and I fondly remember them bringing home our first artificial tree AFTER Christmas as they'd gotten it on clearance, fully decorated with Disney ornaments and sparkling lights. We were told to wait upstairs while they brought in a family surprise. Oh the waiting! They knew how to build anticipation, didn't they? I recall waiting until the following Christmas with tremendous anticipation as well. Yes, they were pros. And I realize as time goes on that I learned well.

I usually begin plotting and planning in earnest as the summer comes to a close, and have things well in had by the time Black Friday has come and gone. I remember fondly the time I plotted, with Matthew mind you, to purchase a guitar 'for Krista' who just might want to learn to play someday. Asking him things like "what kid of guitar do you think Michelle should consider?" and "Do you think she'd like this color" or "How about this pick set" really helped assure that he had exactly what he wanted. Or there was the year we got the boys a gamecube... that was a lot of fun and kept them guessing for months. But this year will probably last in Jonathan's memory for a very long time.

Jonathan rarely asks for anything. Since I have a "I will not buy any more Lego's or bionicles" rule - they have far too many as it is - he really is just content using what he has to be creative, drawing, playing video games and playing the games we've collected since I was a child. His needs are not great and his tender heart falls in love with anything you get him. Sometimes I strive very hard to get him things he'd like and we decided this year would be a year for 'science' stuff since he's always interested in rocks and what not. And we have a few things for him, but not a lot. After asking him over and over again for what he wants, he finally settled on two things - a Wii (not going to happen this year) or an ipod. Hmmm... Let the plotting begin!!!

When The Holidays Turn In To The Holidaze

I am always amazed at how quickly children learn things that aren't necessarily those you long for them to achieve. For instance, Jonathan has a wonderful knack for remembering what you said five months ago regarding what might happen during the holiday season and is holding on to that promise for all he's worth. Or there's Matthew who remembers what happened five years ago at Christmas that he just loved and wants it to happen again this year 'for old times sake'. And then there's Laura...

She's apparently learned, in one quick decision I made last Saturday morning that didn't even effect her in any way, shape or form, that the holidays are a time when some standards are a tad bit more lax that usual. It seems that Matthew's ability to share in an ice cold can of caffeine for breakfast on Saturday met with consternation from the younger quarters. In order to keep the peace I happened to say with tremendous flippancy "I allowed it this morning in honor of the holidays". Yes, you saw that coming didn't you?

Laura not only saw it coming, she remembered it with the same tenacity that she remembers dolls, shoes and purses she saw once, too. Yesterday afternoon she was getting hungry and didn't want to wait for dinner to be served. Even when I told her we'd be having mashed potatoes and gravy. After the second time she asked for 'princess snacks' and I turned her down she got quiet for a moment. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her contemplating her next move. Suddenly her face lit up, she pasted a wonderful smile on her face, took her hand and pulled my face toward hers and said "But Mommy! It's the hol-days!" It took all I could muster to say no again without busting out in laughter, let alone keep the smile hidden from her eyes.

I think, after all was said and done, that she insisted it was the "hol-days" at least 10 or 12 times. I'm sure she thought she could break down my resolve as I love the Christmas season. But my desire to be a good parent is a much bigger resolve so it won out.

I wonder how many more times she'll try to get something in the next week or so just because "It's the hol-days!", don't you?

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Stand Amazed...

Well, laid amazed, perhaps. Last night was a new, all time effort on Laura's part. She went above and beyond what anyone would ever expect, or imagine. No, not in her development or her mental capacity. No, we know those are just dandy. In fact, last night she proved it. And she proved that her persistence and tenacity are much stronger forces in her than anyone previously imagined. Yes, she reached a new level of stubbornness, er, determination. And I have the dark circles to prove it.

She went to bed later than normal. Lately, we've gotten her to bed as close to 8 as we could and it has worked out well for all of us. This gives the boys another hour before their bed deadline, and Don and I have time to do what we need to do before we settle down, too. And frankly, she needs the sleep. But as I was saying, last night she didn't get to bed until after 9. In my mind I'd already computed the logical outcomes of having an extra 30 to 60 minutes in the morning before she got up and began distracting the boys from their schoolwork. And I smiled to myself thinking of all the math Jonathan and I could get done alone. I think I smiled too big. The blinding light must have been too bright for such a late hour. Laura must have seen it...

At 4 AM the crying started. Don and I waited a few minutes just to be sure she was awake and then he trudged down the hallway to help her get cuddled in under her too small blanket once again. Peace reigned. For a whole minute. Then she started in on a new angle. I think she must have had to weigh and evaluate in her mind what might be the most effective after she'd used 'the blanket ploy'. She settled on 'my foot hurts'.

I think you need to know, as I needed to reassure myself in those wee hours, that her feet are fine. We've overcome the pressure sore issue with her FAB and have figured out just how much padding we need to use with the sheep skin so all is well. They did NOT need adjusting. After 8 to 10 minutes of fussing, I went down the hall to let her know I knew she was full of it. I also told her that I wouldn't be returning. She was fine, her room was fine, her bed was fine, her blanket was fine, life was fine. Well, except for the early hour. But that didn't seem to phase her much. After she realized I meant it, she laid down and I helped tuck her back in once again.

I made it down the hall and in bed before she started fussing again. I think she used the time to plot a new course. This time she had a bad dream. I laughed and said to no one in particular "When? Yesterday at nap???" Don laughed, too. When that brought no one after several moments of fussing, she paused, plotted some more and went on to a new complaint. Over the course of the next hour or so she complained that her feet hurt umpteen times, that she needed help with her blankets, that she was having a bad dream, that she was having a nightmare, that she wanted fuzzy bunny, and that she was hungry. She even stopped crying periodically and, in a very pleasant voice, said "Mom. I awaked. I ready to get up now." :) Yes, she tried it all, several times each. She even threw a few temper tantrums in all of that. She really tried hard. And she was very persistent. Very. But Daddy and I held firm.

Eventually she calmed down. Note I never said she went back to sleep. Because she didn't. She got up at 4 and she's still up. And she took each and every member of the household with her. After all, with all of that fussing, the boys woke up, too. *sigh* We're all a bit bleary-eyed and tired, and Daddy probably had to have the bus driver wake him up at his stop. But through it all I just kept smiling. In fact, I was actually rejoicing. Actually praising the Lord. Why? Because not once, not ever in all of her fussing did she ever say "My tummy hurts." It is so far removed from her experience that she didn't even remember to pull it out of the hat with all of her other efforts. It isn't an issue any longer. After three and a half years, she's finally got a normal tummy. God is good, isn't he? :):):)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pop! Goes The Caramel Corn!

Every year for the past umpteen years, my Mom and I make a lot of something to give to our neighbors, friends and our employees. This number used to run towards 80 and even 90 or 100 some years. However, my 'retirement' to raise my family knocked some of that number down, and my Mom's responsibilities have grown smaller, too. So we're down to making 50 to perhaps 60 of something.

Each year we talk for months about what we can do with what we've got, or what scripture we want to emphasize this year or what we can actually accomplish without giving up too much time with our families, but we rarely get to it until the deadline approaches. This year was no different. And this year we had the extra time consuming stress of doing the St. Louis drive bys so we opted for easy. Or relatively so, anyway. We opted to make Baked Caramel Corn.

Baked Caramel Corn is a old family-type recipe. We've used it for years, ever since I was a teenager. And we won't go in to how long ago that was. Anyway, Mom and I hatched a plan to bake for two solid days. We'd turn out enough to fill her 40 large tins for her staff as well as gallons for friends, neighbors, carry in parties and our own Christmas celebrations, of course. And we did it. Two days, and about 22 double batches later, approximately 88 gallons of caramel corn worked its way from the Stir Crazy, to the coating bowls, to the oven, and then the counter to cool. Then we packaged it according to how it was to be given and we're good to go. Many of our presents were taken care of and the stress of production is relieved.

However, the best part of the whole thing doesn't have anything to do with Christmas at all. It was just spending time with my family at my Mom's, enjoying everyone as we baked. The boys built a stick pile last week as they helped Poppy finish up the yard work for the year. Yesterday evening they lit it and made some s'mores. Tomorrow they will relight it to enjoy the rest of the pile before it becomes snow covered once again. Laura played with her babies, her dollhouses and wrote her 'wetter to Sanna' while watching her favorite PBS Christmas movies. And Don joined us when he got home from work. Yes, that was my absolute favorite part. Time with my family. After all, isn't sharing the love with them what Christmas is really part of celebrating Christmas? :)

Here is our tried and true Baked Caramel Corn recipe. I strongly recommend you not double it in the same pot but make two pots at the same time, pouring them over the corn individually before combining them on your trays. I've found over the years that I prefer a bit more popcorn than the 6 qts the recipe recommends and therefore make a bit more per each coating recipe. I've also found that if you double the recipe, you can bake it on three large trays instead of four. Just remember to stir it every 15 minutes or so! And enjoy!

Baked Caramel Corn


1 C butter or margarine
2 C firmly packed brown sugar
½ C light corn syrup
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
6 quarts popped popcorn

Melt butter; stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly,. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in soda and vanilla. Gradually pour over popped corn, mixing well. Turn on to 2 large shallow baking pans. Bake in 250F oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely. Break apart. Makes about 5 quarts Caramel Corn.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Don't They Always Prove You Wrong???

Just this weekend I ventured in to Target to purchase yet another case of Pampers. Yes, I said case. As in lots of diapers. Seventy-two to be exact. Given Laura's stubborn desire to NOT grow up in all areas of her life, I figured it probably wasn't the last case I'd be buying. Apparently Laura, with an ability that all children have now and then, heard my brain as it wrapped around that thought and decided to prove me wrong. Really wrong. But this time I guess I can't complain.

As I type, Laura is on her third round through the little girls room today. She's proudly wearing Princess pull ups and she's managed to keep their flowers alive and well for half a day! Yes, half a day. That has to be some kind of record for her. Previously, Dora and the Princesses flower gardens would be watered without fail just moments after beginning to wear them. And sometimes, in some vague hope of disguising the fact that the flowers were now dead, gone, done in for good, she'd attempt to add a little extra fertilizer to see if that might help. Alas, this usually just caused the flowers to disappear in to oblivion never to be seen again. But today is different.

Today marks the beginning of a new era. Today, Laura has done her business in the little girls room three times. All three times she told us it was time for her to use the facilities. And all three times she hurried to get there, maintaining her composure while yelling for her bathroom buddy, Jonathan, to come and help her. I think my little girl is finally choosing to grow up in yet another way.

And I think I should have purchased a case of pull ups instead of diapers. Do they even come in cases? *sigh*