Friday, December 29, 2006

Mind Games

Rush Hour Game

Have you played any of the Rush Hour games? My three older boys have enjoyed playing Rush Hour at their Grandma's house and so she got them each one for Christmas. They each received a different version that they had circled in a catalog. "Repeat" thought he would like the Junior version based on how it looked but "George" and "Pete" have more difficult versions where the recommended age is 8 to adult. It turns out that the Junior version is too easy for "Repeat" but is just right for ME!

I tried the Deluxe Rush Hour game last night and got stuck on one of the Beginner cards. I tried for quite awhile to solve the puzzle before "Repeat" said that he would help me. He came over, took a look at the board, got a knowing look on his face,  and started to move the pieces. "That was easy Mom!" Okay, now my almost 5-year old can solve a puzzle that his Mom is stumped on. Wow! I decided to try his Junior version that he has gone through all 30-some cards of already and declared "too easy!" I was able to go through most of them easily but the Expert cards were a little more of a challenge. But that is the game made more simple for the 6 - 8 year olds! I guess I need to work on challenging my mind a little more often!  The boys sure feel good about themselves though!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Memories of Christmas

Every year it seems Christmas comes and goes so much faster than the year before. But each year the small memories become more precious than ever. 


Saturday we went to the Mall to see my Grandpa L. sitting at the large Salvation Army kettle in his uniform handing out "War Crys" and greeting people with his friendly booming voice. I have watched him sit there for as long as I can remember and wanted my children to have that as a memory as well. The boys enjoyed seeing all of the money collected in the kettle and Grandpa was delighted at our visit and treated us all to lunch. What a special treat!

Me and "Blue Eyes" at Opa's house

Christmas Eve at my Grandpa E's house, while never the same as when my Grandma was alive, still just as special because of the love he has for his children. Not overwhelming displays of affection or a lot of words spoken but just quiet satisfaction of having his child, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around him. The presents aren’t elaborate but thought is put into each item even down to picking out girly outfits for my precious little one.

Opa E. with Missy Blue Eyes

A candle light service at church is always a highlight. While I wanted it to be so meaningful my memories were made in another way. As “O Holy Night” was being sung, suddenly two of my boys whispered “OUCH!” as hot wax dripped down their fingers. I grabbed the candles and blew them out as images of the carpet on fire flashed through my mind. But the light was so enticing and they relit their candles just to repeat the scenario. It was still beautiful to see all of the little flickers of light encircling the sanctuary. Remembering that the One TRUE Light came into this world as a tiny baby.


We followed that by a family gathering at the home of my Grandparents. That is always a special time where we have a short program with the children singing or saying their piece from the church Christmas program, a time of lifting our voices together in worship to our God. As silent night was sung I watched as tears are wiped away from those missing a loved one. The traditional meal of barbequed beef sandwiches was shared and gifts were opened. Precious times, sweet memories.

Oma and Opa's house

Oma and Opa with the Great-Grandchildren (my boys are in the hooded towels)


Christmas morning we enjoyed new traditions of searching for the baby Jesus. And this year we gave each child three gifts to represent the gifts that the magi brought to Jesus and so read the account of that visit and talked about what each gift represented. Myrrh was a gift of covering (clothing) as it was a perfume used in covering the body. Frankincense was incense and was used in worship so they received a book bag to take with them to church with pencils, activity books, bible covers, etc. The last gift was the Gold gift which is something that is worth the most to them which of course was a toy. My parents and Grandpa were with us to enjoy Christmas dinner followed by a fun time of being together playing and watching movies.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner with my parents


And yet Christmas continued on into the day after as we celebrated at my Mom and Dad’s house this time with my sister and her family. Eating, laughing, remembering things we did as children. A little bit of Chaos but the enjoyable kind! 

Dad and Sara getting ready to "POP!" on Frosty the Snowman

My Dad and my sister getting ready to make the "POP!" on the song "Frosty the Snowman" Something they have done for years! My Mom and I can't seem to figure out how to do it. :)


Christmas has flown by so quickly but the precious memories formed with family remain and they only continue...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cookies, cookies, and more cookies!

It is an unseasonably dreary rainy day here in the midwest but we had fun making snowman cookies. The older boys favorite thing to do this Christmas season is making cookies. We typically do not have many sweets around the house but have more cookies now than ever. "George" my creative child requested that we make our annual snowman cookies today. While not my favorite to eat they are quite easy and fun to make, although now that I have four boys helping out that doesn't leave many for me to decorate.  "Tank" did his own thing but being the fourth child that no longer bothers me. With the first child I wanted everything to look like the picture but have learned to lighten up a bit and enjoy the child-like fun. (I still have my moments though!)

The Older boys and their creations.

Tank's "snowman"?

Our snowman cookies


Thursday, December 21, 2006


I turned on a local radio station today  to hear more variety of Christmas songs instead of my normal Christmas CD's. My least favorite song of all came on -- "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas". I usually try plug my ears and turn it off before it gets in my head but missed this time. So I guess I'll be singing that dumb song all night long. Why is it that the children enjoy it so? My brother-in-law knows it too so he likes to get me by singing the song and having the children keep it up. I guess it is back to my CDs and the traditional Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, and a few instrumentals too.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Our Christmas Card

After wanting to send out a Christmas card picture with our whole family I gave up on that idea as unfortunately it just does not turn out well. Last week the weather was so mild so I got the children dressed in coordinating outfits and found the perfect location by one of our large pine trees that still had some snow on it. They were happy to be outside so all moods were good. Amazingly enough I only took 4 shots and got my "perfect" picture!! I was thrilled with how well that went! It is so rare that they are all looking AND smiling at the same time.Our "Perfect" Christmas Card pictureOur "Perfect" Christmas card picture

Friday, December 15, 2006

Seasoned with Salt

I was shopping with the older boys last night. I don't know what got into "Pete" but he was acting like a two-year old again. He was taking his sweet time following me to the point where "Repeat" would have to go back to make sure he knew what aisle we turned into. Then while we were looking at clothes for them he decided to crawl on the floor under a display of shirts where I could see dust flying out!  I told him to get up right away and of course he went into "grump-mode" which he stayed in the rest of the time. On the way home "George" and "Repeat" were talking about the grump and said that "Pete" was grumpy because "Mommy talked mean to him". At that point I knew that I had spoken in a tone that was not so sweet. I asked them to give me an example of how my speech should be. They responded with a sweet, sing-songy "Pete, would you please get off the floor." Ah yes, I will keep that in mind for next time. In the meantime, I owed "Pete" and apology for yelling. It is no wonder the boys yell at each other or respond to me in a less than pleasant voice -- they are only a reflection of me.

Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech always be with grace (as though) seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person"

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Picture Perfect -- Not Close!

Sometimes I like to orchestrate events to go just so. To make and keep traditions and have them turn out picture perfect. What lessons I have to learn!

I want to send out a family picture along with our Christmas newsletter and have always wanted a picture in the snow. This year we have had plenty already so I thought it would work out perfectly. Sunday afternoon we headed to an area Bavarian house where they have a gingerbread house display and a high school group dressed in Dickens costumes singing Christmas carols. This would be a fun outing and also the perfect backdrop for my snowy Christmas picture. Of course the weather was so cold and in spite of being dressed warmly the children did not want to be outside (no, I didn’t want jackets on the picture). My Mom was taking the pictures for us while my Dad attempted to get the children all looking and smiling. The arctic air was nipping at our backsides and needless to say the picture didn’t look anything as I envisioned. Maybe we’ll make another attempt when it warms up a bit.

We also wanted to get a Christmas tree this weekend and traditionally trek out into the woods (on a tree farm) and after much thought and input from the kids cut down the perfect tree. Since the weather was not cooperating we could not bring ourselves to walk through the snow and cold for a tree. So we decided to go back to the tree lot we bought our tree from when we were first married. It took a little bit of convincing to get "George" to agree to this. At 7 he is already set in his ways. So I had high hopes setting out for our tree and had my camera ready for the picture-perfect moment. Little did I realize how much my son is like his mother wanting the perfect tree. 

We typically get a tall and very full Balsam but this year wanted a Frazier which has stronger branches to hold the ornaments and more spacing between branches. We found the last one on the lot and while it wasn’t perfect I liked it. George however, had found the perfect Balsam that he liked and tried very hard to convince us of this. I struggled with it wanting him to be able to pick a tree but also wanting him to realize that he can’t always get his way. We got the Frazier and had a very unhappy boy. So much for a Kodak moment. We have lights on the tree now and thankfully George agrees that our tree does look better.

Monday we were celebrated my Mom’s birthday and I baked the Green Angel cake that she selected. It smelled wonderful and had cooled all morning. The children and I headed into town early to help get things ready so I had the older boys start packing up the van. "Repeat" carried the cake for me and put it on my seat in the van. Unfortunately I took a little too long getting myself down to the van and upon my arrival find a chunk missing from the cake! AHH! Who did this?!? (Every eye is on Tank). Of course it could only be one person and he looked like he had enjoyed every bit of that cake. After some discipline he was very remorseful and apologized right away. When arriving at Grandma's house he was very sad and couldn’t look at her. He almost started to cry but his Grandma was forgiving and made him feel better.

All of these stories from this past week only help me to realize yet again that with children things cannot ever go perfectly according to my plan.

First Christmas Card picture attempt

Our first attempt at a Christmas card picture
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