Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists...

Today I am feeling a bit...overwhelmed.

Balancing work, home, parties, social calendars, classes, things we actually want to do, things we have to do.  It's all there.  Sometimes it is just time to sit down and breathe in and out and gain perspective on priorities...on purpose...and on importance.  That is my mission for tonight.  Perspective...and getting Ben to bail me out.  That is what marriage is all about (or at least partially, right??)  He has already promised to help...and I plan to take him up on it.

In the meantime, listing all of my loves for the day will help.  Perspective, remember?  Again, I am reminded that this blog is therapeutic.  Writing helps me remember what is important, what matters, and how lucky I am for the blessings I have been given.

Love List...

  • This text when I was basically hyperventilating today... "Just take a deep breath and relax.  We're here to help each other.  I'm sorry about work and that is kinda out of my hands, but let's be a team about the stuff at home."  Thank goodness.
  • After struggles with Jillian not wanting to go to preschool lately, she wanted to stay longer when I went to pick her up.  Love it.  
  • Myles came home with pottery that he made at school.  The first of many, I'm sure.  Get the display case ready!
  • Lots of awesome events, parties, celebrations, and fun planned in the upcoming month.  Opportunities for new memories, traditions, and just plain old fun.
  • Myles referred to Jillian as, "You sweetie pie girl" today.  I love that they love each other (most of the time).
  • When I got home today, I ran upstairs and changed out of my work dress and into pajamas.  Myles and Jillian followed suit within five minutes of seeing me in mine.

I'm Better Off Without List...

  • We blew six internal fuses in our Christmas tree lights.  They are a pain in the butt to change.  When you look back at your tree to rejoice in its beauty, you don't want half of the tree to blink out...ever.  Tip:  You can not connect 1600 lights to each other...  You have to split up the stacks.
  • Last night there was someone brushing their teeth on TV.  Goose-bump.  Every time.  Not the good kind either.
  • That feeling that you are standing and people are pulling your arms and legs in every direction.  I can only stretch so far.  Unfortunately, that won't prevent me from taking on more.  Remember this post?  Saying no has never been my strong suit.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Deck the Halls

It's been a while...  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  We spent the entire time with friends and family.  Exactly my kind of holiday weekend.  It was wonderful.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving every year, we pick out our Christmas tree and officially deck the halls for the season.  I love it.  Peppermint tea, hot cocoa, Christmas carols, leftover turkey pot pie, tree decorating, reminiscing, creating new it all.

Here are some pictures from our lately...

Myles and Santa at the tree farm.  I'm going to be totally honest on this one...this Santa kind of creeps me out.  Not in a pedophile kind of way, but a weird guy that isn't all that good with kids despite the Santa suit kind of way.  If he's your uncle...sorry.

My kids are used to him after several years of awkwardness.

Self portrait with my kiddies on a moving horse drawn wagon ride to the trees.  Not the best...but good enough for me.

The kids pretending to cut down trees with sticks.

Myles taking credit for this enormous tree that my brother-in-law cut down.  It took quite a while to cut through the nine inch trunk.  It also took 110 pounds of free weights to counter weigh the tree stand.  Seriously...the big hoss.  It is now at home in my in-laws living room.

We didn't get a family picture...this is as close as we got.  At least it proves we were all there.

Time to head back to the barn for cider and popcorn.

On to decorating.  The kids take such pride and care in each and every ornament.  This year Jillian "remembered" every single ornament that she came across.

Seriously, love her.

You can't tell here, but she was quite nervous on the ladder.

Jillian's year to hang the angel.  Remember the nervous on the ladder deal?  Yeah, well Dad on a ladder, holding her while reaching for the top of a 10 foot tree...not happening.

Myles tried.  Myles screamed.

My sweet boy.

With the tree, our Elfie returned.

Want a quick tour around a few of our Christmas decorations for the year?
Myles made a masterpiece of art as a gift for Santa.  He has also requested to leave Santa a turkey sandwich, instead of cookies.  He told me he thought Santa should have something healthy from us.

Our living room mantle.

Fishing line + bulbs hanging from a chandelier.  My kids love it.

I love to have seasonal frames that I only bring out once a year.  This little gem is from two years ago.

After we get our tree up, I always go a little crazy with the leftover branches.  Why not?

I love this little pocket vase for my front door.  Each season I can change out the magnets and it is ready to greet our friends and family.

Christmas begins with the nativity scene front and center in our family room.  Yes, branches there too.  The kids take turns putting in baby Jesus the night of Christmas Eve each year.  The most important job of all in the Christmas season...sometimes we put him in twice...once for each kid.

This morning Elfie was in our tree.

Tomorrow...riding on a pirate ship with Sleeping Beauty and Anakin Skywalker.  Yes, Anakin is posing Titanic style.  They are going to love it.

What holiday traditions start Thanksgiving weekend for you?  Did you make any new ones?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday's Love and I'm Thankful For Lists...

A special Thankful Edition this week.

Love List...

  • Myles playing his little alarm clock radio in his room to his "dance music" so loud that the bass crackles.
  • Coming into the office with three meetings find two have been cancelled!  I was able to get that much more done!
  • An amazing amount of generous donations for our adopt-a-family holiday project at work.  I've got some serious shopping to do for these families.  Don't you think there should be special Black Friday pins that you can wear to cut in line if you are shopping for a cause?
  • My babies are home from school for the rest of the week!
  • Mashed potatoes.  'Tis the season for potatoes of the mashed variety...a reason for celebration in itself.

I'm Thankful For List...

  • Awesome and amazing family near and far that are such cool would have thought I picked them myself.
  • My husband.  So glad he "gets" me and my quirkiness.  Sometimes a little too much - I wonder how the heck he is able to read my mind so often.
  • The two little people that call me momma.  They are my sunshine.
  • The ability to find joy in the little things that can keep a smile on my face each and every day.
  • Friends.  My friends.  Ben's friends.  My kiddies' friends.  My new bloggy friends.  Friendship is priceless and each relationship brings something special to our lives.
  • Warm and cuddly blankets, jammies, and slippers on a night like tonight.  
  • The fact that if I truly listed everything I was thankful for, this blog would be pages and pages long.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Official Start to the Holiday Season!

Every year we go to Chicago for the kick-off of the holiday season.  It has become one of those holiday traditions that my kids have come to expect.  I love that.  The weekend before Thanksgiving every year, Chicago hosts the Disney Lighting Parade.  We love it.  We tend to fill the weekend with a visit with Santa, yummy food, shopping, and fun family times.  Could you ask for a better way to kick off the holidays?  I don't think so!

Here are some pictures of a few of the highlights...
This year, we ventured on the train on the way to Chicago.  The kids love pulling their own bags.  Myles got quite a bit of attention at Millennium station.  His McQueen car suitcase was quite the hit...and he was quite proud.  Jillian was sure to confirm that they also saw her princess suitcase.
Jillian with our tickets.  The train ride was fun for them...for the first twenty minutes, anyway.  We had pizza and grandparents waiting for us in Chicago...definitely worth it!
The next day we went to Macy's on State Street to visit Santa.  He must be the real one, since he is in Chicago at the biggest department store in the Midwest, right?  Well, this year, we shopped for Christmas attire at Macy's and changed into their new clothes right at the store.  We needed to look our best for Santa!
This is Jillian and I waiting our "25 minute" wait to see the big man with the beard.  The wait was more like an hour and a half.  It felt a bit like a holiday movie.  Kids crying, runny noses, whining, irritated parents carrying their kids sideways out of the line...the whole bit.  Luckily, our kids were patient. (Definitely more so than the adults!)
Ben and Dad watching MSU vs. Northwestern on his phone.  Can you see his enthusiasm?
Jillian posing by the scenery that you were not allowed to stand on.  Oh-well.  What else are we supposed to do trapped in a labyrinth of Santa drenched aisles leading to the chubby jolly guy in the red suit?
Myles chose to play on Papa's phone.
Getting closer...but STILL in line.
Photo credit: Jillian Kate.
We could actually see the door at this point!
Better take a picture to commemorate.
Myles and Jillian got these awesome jingle bells in holiday gift bags awaiting our arrival at the condo (from their Nana and Papa).  They were the official sound of our trip.  Jingle, jingle.
Time to finally meet the big guy.
I specifically remember he was telling the kids that they have been so good and they should try their best to be very good every day.
Last week, Jillian made this Santa artwork to take to Chicago with us.  She carefully packed it in her bag and reminded everyone that she needed to take it with us when we left for Macy's.  We never told her that the first "A" in SANTA fell off in line and we re-attached it with my mother-in-law's gum.  Santa loved it nevertheless and thanked "Joann" profusely.  Jillian didn't seem to notice that he misnamed her.  Star-struck?

So happy and excited!
Time for the parade!  The long day had exhausted Jillian. 
Myles posing with the elves from the parade.  We minimize our exposure to the million (literally) people that turn out for it by watching the parade from the street that the floats go down to arrive at Michigan Avenue....Oak Street.  That's an awesome insider trick I just gave you!  So, while the elves prepared for the parade to start, we got a quick pic!  
Benjamin and I.
My wonderful in-laws.
Ben and half-awake Jillian.
She eventually perked right up.
Parade watchers.
All of my lovies.

Not pictured in this weekend of photos...our dinner and game night at Dave and Buster's.  Let's just say it doesn't qualify as a "highlight".  Don't get me wrong...the food was decent...the games were fun.  It was just those stinkin' prizes.  We waited about 45 minutes to get our crappy trinkets.  The people in front of me (who cut) had a kid puke right in line.  They stayed the course for their junky plastic mini-frisbees and bubbles anyway.  Awesome.  Our kids still had the time of their life.  Worth it.  Good thing it will be another year before we might "need" to go there again.

Amazing weekend and perfect way to start the holiday tradition.