Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Linger On the Sticky Places

This was our craft at MOPS today. A photograph modge-podged on a small block of wood and garnished with a ribbon. Simple, really. Yet so sentimental. An ornament you hang on the tree year after year. I knew this was our craft project, but the tears that threatened to fall when I saw that little block waiting for me were unexpected.
 Grief is tricky like that.
 Suddenly, I was a kid again, standing in the front hall of my grandparents' home and staring at their collection of "ornaments". Only theirs were not seasonal. Grammie had modge-podged a baby picture of each of her grandchildren on her wooden blocks and hung them on the wall. Other pictures in larger frames were added over time, but the baby pictures were always my favorite.
There hasn't been a lot of time to grieve the loss of our grandmothers. Like everything else in this crazy busy season of life, this, too, gets shoved aside. To be dealt with later. Yet it can't be rushed. And I'm always surprised when the tears show up.
The message of the day at MOPS was to linger. To savor the moments of the season, delight in our children, relish the memories we're making...and try not to micro-manage it. In theory, I want to linger. To stop the rush and the madness. But the truth is, sometimes I like this pace. It saves me from dealing with the messy and the sticky.
It's the first Christmas without both of our Grammies. And though I want to rush through and get past the hurt of missing them, I'm going to try and linger on the sweet memories of these two wonderful women and the joy they brought to our lives.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How Can It Be...The Little Mister Turns Three

 I can't hardly believe that our baby turned three. I'm acutely aware of how quickly time moves. Somebody at MOPS once told me, "the days are long but the years are short." So true. Here's Eli tackling the presents like a professional.
 We had two very special guests at the birthday celebration. Grandma and Papa made the long trek from the Northwest. Grandma and Eli share the same birthday so it was fun to have a combined party.
 We can always count on Andy to entertain us. He sang the most beautiful version of Happy Birthday. I was able to capture it on video but he is standing behind an oversized Mr. Potato Head and we can't see his face.  Such a sweet brother.
 As usual, it didn't take long for the older brother to abscond with the new toy. This spud family is a big hit.
Grandma and Eli blowing out the candles on the cake. 

It's Beginning To Look A lot Like Christmas

We are spending Christmas in North Carolina this year, which inspired the acquisition of a real tree. Luke loves his penguin ornament that he received from his 1st grade teacher. I love that my kiddos are sentimental. 
 Andy was beside himself with excitement about decorating the tree. He would have hung every ornament if I  had let him.
Eli was very curious about the whole process. He wanted to take the ornaments off the tree and put them back. It took some convincing that they belonged on the tree for now. 
 This is our third year in a row attending the Apex Christmas parade. I guess that makes it a tradition. This year had the best weather by far and quite possibly the largest crowd. Steve and I were out of patience long before the first float rolled by. It is so hard to wait for anything with three little boys. But we persevered and it was worth it.
 Eli was fascinated. He stood the whole time and waved faithfully to every single float, band and car that went by. He was totally freaked by the old cars honking their horns. Then when the race cars revved their engines, I thought he was going to spontaneously combust. The man next to us kept yelling "C'mon, rev it!" Eli would cling to my leg, eyes wide with terror and say, "reb it?" It took me awhile to figure out why he was afraid. Such a tender-hearted boy.
 Everybody but Eli thought this truck was pretty cool. He "rebbed it" and Eli was not impressed.
Andy asked us about every five seconds if we were going to see Santa. The Apex High School marching band proceeds Santa's float. I was never so relieved to see that band come into view. At last, the big guy in red made an appearance. The grand finale of one of our new favorite Christmas traditions.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

To Elf Or Not To Elf...That Is the Question

Every year about this time, a certain little fellow appears on the shelves at my Happy Place (hint: there's red. Lots and lots of red). I linger nearby, pretending to peruse the Legos while he watches me from his endcap. To tell you the truth, I find the whole concept a little freaky. An elf that spies and reports back to Santa? C'mon.
Then I see entire boards on Pinterest devoted to elf "placement". It's hysterical. And I start to wonder if maybe we aren't missing out on a fun tradition. The boys would love it. On the other hand,  I don't like to emphasize naughty versus nice during the Christmas season. We don't connect gift giving with good or bad behavior, because that's not the true meaning of Christmas.
I was surfing the internet for any further discussion about the wee little man when I found this article in the Sacramento newspaper. It seems I'm not the only one feeling conflicted. Sarah Cunningham, blogger, author and mother of two, has written a book that addresses this modern day dilemma. How to celebrate Jesus as the reason for the season in a way that builds excitement and establishes tradition, without getting caught up in the commercialism that blankets us this time of year. Based on her own experience as a child, Sarah Cunningham created The Donkey in the Living Room as a way for families to celebrate the advent season from a Christ-centered perspective. Incidentally, it is available as a 99 cent Kindle download through Friday if you would like to check it out.
I haven't made up my mind yet. Last year we tried something like this with an advent countdown. The boys took turns opening a tiny matchbox every night. When there wasn't a "gift" involved, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I nearly tore my hair out by the 21st of the month. It wasn't about the baby Jesus at all. We missed the mark entirely. I vow to be different this year.
What about you? How do you count down to the birth of our Savior? Are you pro or anti-elf?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Cure For Sibling Rivalry

 Steve took Andy and Luke camping last week. Funny how the silly bickering that can make a parent lose their mind completely dissipates in the great outdoors. 
 Who doesn't find a Pringle duck bill amusing? 
 Apparently they invented a game where one sat on the throne and the other had to serve them a plate of Pringles. {what?!} The concept of such servitude completely vanished when the car drove back in our driveway. It's mind boggling. 
 A beautiful day on Jordan Lake
Proud of Steve for investing his time and energy in another outdoor adventure. Excited that our boys love it as much as he does. 

P is for pumpkins, pancakes (but not pajamas)

 A big thank you to our friends at Green Street Studios in Apex for sharing these pictures of Eli and his classmates at the pumpkin patch. He obviously had a good time on his first official field trip. {the patch is across the street from the preschool}.
 He couldn't live without these pumpkins once he brought them home. Then they took their rightful place on the mantel and he hasn't said a word about them.
 This little boy's parents are the photographers and they are well-aware of the boys' affection for one another. They attended the same mothers' morning out program last year and were lucky enough to be in the same preschool class this year. Every morning, Eli often starts the day with, "See Sutter?" Andy and Luke went with me to pick Eli up the other day just so they could see this boy they'd heard so much about. It's good to have a friend.
The preschool hosts an annual event known as the pancake brunch. The kids get to help "make" the pancakes and then the parents come and we share brunch together. 
Now Eli refused to wear his pajamas to school. I put them on, he took them off. I finally gave up and let him choose his outfit. He didn't want to make a necklace out of fruit loops, either. But he was all about his new place mat. 
And I think it's pretty safe to say he enjoyed his pancakes. What a hoot. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Big and Small Adventures

The boys and I enjoyed a grand adventure on Saturday. Our church organized lunch and a play date for families with young children at Pullen Park in Raleigh. The park was closed when we first moved here and then we never made the effort to visit once it re-opened. Let me tell you, it definitely lived up to the hype. There's a huge playground, a carousel (which I wasn't brave enough to try with three kids), a train...what a great way to spend a beautiful fall morning. My camera phone and I are not getting along so these aren't the best pictures, but Eli loved the boat ride. 
Andy is always up for something new. He had a great time, too. 
We also rode the train that circles the park. We had to wait patiently for the train to load and the boys were more than happy to pose. I was very proud of them. They listened well and didn't complain about the long walk to the parking lot. I think they would've stayed all day but Eli isn't quite ready for that, yet. We will definitely go back. 
Steve spent the weekend backpacking a portion of the Appalachian trail with his good friend, Jon. He has many wonderful pictures and great memories of a successful trip. It isn't often that he gets to spend time with his friend enjoying God's magnificent creation. I'm glad he went and we are happy to have him home. 
Stay tuned for more reports of our grand adventures. The boys are on a three week break from school, Steve is on sabbatical as he prepares to change jobs and the weather forecast is incredible. Can't wait to see what the rest of October brings for us. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Pumpkin Obsession

 Eli is fascinated with pumpkins. As soon as they started appearing in stores and on doorsteps, he openly declares his affections. "Punkin!" He shouts as soon as he spots one. His preschool teacher has a small stuffed one sitting on a table outside his classroom. He can't resist hugging it, squeezing, talking about it to all his friends. Last week his class walked across the street from his school to the pumpkin patch. He came home with two more pumpkins pictured here. I don't know what he's going to do when he realizes that his new little friends will eventually shrivel up. Eek.
 I would prefer to have his pumpkins with him at all times. I draw the line at putting pumpkins in his crib.
This is one happy little boy. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Zoo, A Boy in a Basket and Brotherly Love

Catchy title, I know. I have I mentioned I'm writing a novel? The title is the hardest part. I'm was on blogging hiatus for a few weeks. Not gonna lie, there's been some heartache in the hive. September was a bit rough. But October is off to a wonderful start. God is good. All the time.  
 Friends of ours invited us to the zoo last weekend. Andy and I stayed home to battle a stomach bug. Just keepin' it real. The others were not deterred by a little rain. (By the way, Seattle, you can have your weather back. We're all done here). This is Luke saving his friend from the wicked Bison.
 Eli loves dinosaurs so Steve couldn't resist a photo op in front of this giant poster. 
 I sent the camera with Steve and asked for photo documentation of Eli's first trip to the zoo. Perhaps I should've been more specific. On the other hand, you trap a kid in a stroller for half a day and you get what you get, right?
 The elephants. Apparently the giraffes couldn't come out and visit because it's too muddy and giraffes can't walk in the mud??? No one wanted to speculate about what happens to a giraffe that falls in the mud. 
 Eli has morphed in recent weeks from sweet, go with the flow toddler to opinionated almost three year old. He has a fetish with containers now, dragging a basket around and filling it with toys until it is too heavy for him to move. We introduced him to the laundry basket yesterday because it is a little more sturdy. 
 He is doing very well at pre-school and names all of his new friends in the car on the way to school. Very cute.
Moments like these are few and far between around here. Luke has a lot of homework these days and it's hard to keep the younger ones entertained and reasonably quiet while Luke moans and groans tries to finish before dark. Andy orchestrated a game of dress up this afternoon and they were more than happy to pose. Adorable.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Eli Goes Camping

My husband rocks! He loves to camp and wants to instill that love of the outdoors in our boys. Eli is at the age where he is completely aware of what everyone else is doing and doesn't want to miss out. But he's never slept in a tent or a sleeping bag and we weren't quite sure how to manage that. True confessions: I can't stand camping and after a difficult week, it was not even remotely on my list of ways to spend the weekend. So Steve loaded all the boys and all of the camping supplies into the SUV on Saturday afternoon and off they went. I, of course, savored every second of my 22 hours of free time. I almost didn't want to go to sleep, but decided that plan would backfire on Sunday. Great job, Steve! Proud of you. We are blessed to have you as a husband and a father.