Monday, October 21, 2013

An update on my life

Hello, friends. What a wonderful and busy year we have had; I can scarcely believe it is fall already. I won't bore you with all the details, but among the highlights:

Nathan started Kindergarten this fall. Here his is, waiting for the school bus with his brother and sister:

We bought our first home:

8 Kerrie Ct, Gales Ferry, CT 06335

Jared and I took an overnight trip to New York City to see Wicked. It was so much fun:

In the midst of all these adventures, I have been focusing my free time on helping others learn to take charge of their health, particularly by using essential oils. I am becoming much more active on my Facebook page, sharing health tips and recipes. I invite you to "like" my page if you haven't already, and enter the giveaway that I am doing right now!

I hope all of you are well. I am excited for the upcoming holiday season!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Days 10-21: A Brief Recap of our Christmas Countdown Activities

I admit it, I fell off the blogging bandwagon after Day 9 of our Christmas Countdown! For the most part, we still did our daily Christmas activities, but I found myself putting off blogging until the evening, and evening is my running time and time with my husband. So the blog took a back burner, and that's okay!

Here is a brief recap of some of the Christmas activities we did:

We made Christmas Crack and delivered goody bags to a few friends. I'm pretty sure we endeared ourselves a little more to them, or at least made them Christmas Crack addicts!

We practiced Christmas carols and planned to go caroling. It hasn't happened yet...

Despite the wise warning from my friend Hanna, we made hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles and let the kids drink it while watching Elf. Miraculously we (and our furniture) survived!

We hosted the most awesome preschool Christmas party ever for 11 of our mommy friends and 16 children (counting mine). It was crazy, but oh so much fun! The kids decorated Christmas trees and wreaths made from Rice Krispie treats and green food coloring, and we had a delicious spread of food including Cranberry Lime Salsa Dip, Chex Party Mix, homemade chili (my MIL's awesome recipe), butter rolls, and an assortment of cookies that our guests brought. For party favors, I ordered adorable snowmen cake pops from my friend Kristen at J&R Cakes for the kids, and for the mommies I made these delicious Chocolate Peppermint Cakes in a Jar.

Hosting a party is a lot of work, and although I felt bad that most of our Christmas Countdown activities last week consisted of party prep (like shopping for supplies, making treats, and cleaning the house while listening to Christmas music, see how I "Christmased" that up hehe?) I think it was good for my kids to see how much went into our fun party, instead of taking it for granted.

We danced around to Christmas music. No, I wasn't short on time and ideas, why do you ask?

We taped up the paper and retied the ribbons on the gifts under the tree that Sweet Baby Ray has tried to unwrap. Okay, not a Christmas Countdown activity, but we have spent a significant amount of time on this, even though we know it's a lost cause.

Speaking of Sweet Baby Ray, I wanted to note that he took his first steps on his own yesterday. He was standing holding onto a wrapped large gift box (ironically containing a walking toy for him) and I was sitting a couple of feet away, and he randomly let go without any urging from me and walked stumbled the few steps over to me. He was very proud of himself and even game to repeat his trick when his dad got home later. So fun!

Tomorrow we will be visiting an elderly lady who loves kids and lives in a nursing home. We plan to bring her one of our favorites: Ritz Tagalongs. I won't be blogging more in depth on this to protect her privacy, but I am looking forward to spreading some Christmas cheer and hoping my kids cooperate.

In addition to the sacred favorites like Silent Night and Joy to the World, I've taught my kids some goofy children's Christmas classics. Hannah loves "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" and requests it before every nap (we do silly songs before naptime and lullabies before bed every night). And Wednesday night, after tucking Nathan and Hannah in bed, we could hear them singing "I'm Gettin' Nuthin' For Christmas."

This is not a complete list, but it will have to do for now. Baby Ray needs some love!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 9 - Making Snowflakes


On Day 9 of our Christmas Countdown, the kids and I had a blast making snowflakes and decorating our glass patio doors. Since the last time we had used their scissors, Nathan cut right through his shirt (some safety scissors, huh?) this time we used our art smocks that my dear friend Jeni gave us.

Meanwhile, Ray made trouble over by the bookshelf...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 8 - Giving to Others Part 2

On Day 8 of our Christmas Countdown, we finished up some Christmas shopping and the kids helped me prepare a package to ship to some of our family back in Montana. Nathan in particular was very excited to send everyone's presents, and even insisted that his Uncle Chris' present be wrapped in his special Cars wrapping paper. Considering his reluctance to give the day before, I was pretty pleased at his great attitude and happily obliged. Hopefully Chris (my sister Heidi's husband) doesn't mind!

This is a short post, but as you can see, our Day 8 activity was pretty simple!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 7 - Giving to Others

On Day 7, the kids found three tags in our Christmas Countdown stocking with the age and gender of a child in need this year, along with that child's specific gift request. I tried to pick tags that had gift requests that each of my kids could relate to. For example, a boy requesting an Operation Game, a little girl who wanted a toy shopping stroller, and a toddler requesting a Little People toy.

In keeping with my Day 6 post, Day 7 did not go exactly as I had envisioned either. I thought my children would be very touched to learn of kids whose parents did not have the money to purchase gifts this year. I had hoped they would be excited to be able to help get gifts for these kids, but the concept was a little too abstract for Nathan's literal mind. He has a kind heart, but his general attitude at first was that he didn't know these alleged children, and besides, he would rather we save our money for presents for him!

It took him awhile to warm up to the idea, but instead of getting frustrated and scolding him for being selfish, I decided to take a few minutes to teach him about giving. I explained that we are trying to be more like Jesus, and sat down and shared with him a couple of stories from the children's version of the New Testament that we own.

First, we read the story of the loaves and the fishes. I explained to Nathan that the little boy only had a small amount of food. When he brought it to Jesus, the Savior could have taken it all for Himself and His close friends, but instead He shared it with over 5000 others. I told Nathan that because they had shared the food, there was enough to go around. Likewise, if we share our blessings with others, God will bless us and we will have what we need.

Then we read about the Good Samaritan, which was a story that Nathan was already familiar with somewhat. We talked about how the Samaritan did not even know the Jew who was injured, but he helped him anyway.

After our short lesson, we went out shopping. Nathan seemed to be a little more enthusiastic about shopping for the other children, even making an effort to help me locate the toys we were searching for while only minimally distracted by toys that he was interested in for himself. For most kids his age, I would say that's a great start!

For a much more inspiring post about a little boy just about Nathan's age who radically changed how his family does Christmas with a couple of thoughtful and unselfish questions, click here. You will love it.

How do you teach your children to give to others? Or how did your parents teach you?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 6 - Decorating the Tree and Candid Mom Confessions


Last night, on Day 6 of our Christmas Countdown, we decorated our Christmas tree.

Can I be candid with you today? When envisioning this blog post, I thought I would dress the children in matching or at least coordinating clothes, and the tree would be perfectly decorated and I would write eloquently about the magic of Christmas as seen through a child's eyes.

Instead, Hannah wore her Halloween costume and the ornaments were placed fairly haphazardly (but all above the top third of the tree so Ray can't reach them). The kids were sweet and enjoyed it, but it was all a bit chaotic and to be perfectly honest, after the tree was decorated and the kids put to bed, I came back downstairs and cried my eyes out.

Why did I cry? A million silly reasons, really.

I cried because no matter how hard I try, our house is always a mess and I can never seem to stay on top of the cleaning, the clutter, the laundry (ohhh, the laundry).

I cried because when I had FaceTimed with my family earlier that night (wishing my mom a happy birthday and visiting with my sister whom I haven't seen in person in almost a year), the kids would not stop running around and screaming long enough for me to have even the shortest conversation. And I miss my family. The realization that they will all be together at Christmas except for me is starting to sink in.

I cried because Nathan told me I was the best mom ever last night. And I know I'm not the best mom ever. I make so many many mistakes every day that all come screaming back to me when he tells me this.

I cried because Ray still isn't sleeping through the night, and the only thing that seems to be working is letting him cry on his first waking of the night. Which goes against everything I believe in as a parent.

I cried because when I'm cooking dinner in the evenings, I have to send my kids upstairs because I just can't stand the noise and the chasing each other around the circle and the screaming one more minute. And I don't want to be like that. I want to love the noise. I want to love the chaos. And most of the time I do. Dinnertime is my nemesis right now.

And I cried because sometimes, just sometimes, Mom needs to have a good cry. And when she does, Dad needs to rub her back and tell her it's okay. He needs to tell her that she's wonderful, that the kids are happy, that she holds the family together. That he will help in any way she needs. And that tomorrow is a new day.

I'm thankful for this new day, for the beautiful life I lead, and for my amazing husband, who has made all my dreams come true and always knows just what to say.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 5 - Christmas Stroll


On Day 5 of our Christmas Countdown, we decided it would be fun to participate in the Westerly, RI downtown Christmas Stroll. Westerly is a small town not far from our house, and it has all kinds of cool downtown shops.

Although the stroll wasn't quite all that had been promised in the write-ups online (I never saw the horse-drawn hay ride or live music, and the luminaries had mostly been blown out by the wind), it was still a fun evening. After strolling around and mostly window shopping, as we had three pairs of hands that would have just loved to touch all the cool breakables in the stores, we decided to visit Santa at Mel's Downtown Creamery.

After meeting Santa, the kids decided they had warmed up enough for ice cream, so we decided to have a little treat before heading home.

The girl loves pink!
Everyone says Ray looks just like his dad, do you see it?
See the fun mural on the wall behind us?

Do you like ice cream in the winter, or do you think of it as purely a summertime treat?