Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The rest of the 12 days of Christmas, rapid fire...

Day 8:  Nutcracker.  Jacob, Bryan and I went to see the Nutcracker (David was sick).  We had such a great time.  They were extremely suspicious when they saw the ballerina on the cover of the program.  There's some good boy action early on, though.  They loved the fight between the Nutcracker and the Rat King.  They were wary when the Nutcracker danced with the Sugar Plum Fairy - possible conspiracy to kiss on the lips.  They each sat on my lap for half the show.  How much longer is that going to last?  During one of the slower scenes, Bryan wanted to see if we could Eskimo kiss and watch the show at the same time.  Jacob loved the Russian dancing.  One of my favorite scenes took place during intermission, though.  Some girls were playing on the steps leading up to the stage.  Over the intercom, the director berated their parents for allowing such wild behavior.  It was glorious.  Here was wild and inappropriate behavior (at least in someone's version of the universe) in public, and none of my people were involved.  

Day 9:  Christmas cookies for ourselves and the neighbors.  I made way too many Christmas cookies last year, so I also made up a box for everyone in the household h.  Sadly, this was more to ensure that Chris and the boys got enough than for me to get enough.  It's now a tradition.  Each of us gets a box to work through at our own pace.  
 Day 10:  Christmas lights competition.  This was supposed to be gingerbread house day.  Note to 2012 me, do not plan on gingerbread houses after Christmas cookies.  Seriously, just the thought of making the icing made me want to hurl.  Thank goodness I remembered a friend's facebook post from a few years ago.  Her family drove around to look at lights and gave an award to their favorite house.  So we got a gift card from McDonald's and had so much fun deciding on a winner.  
Day 11:  Buffalo Grille and the park (with Nana, Papa and Gran - yea!).  I had something much more ambitious planned.  There was no way it was happening.  This was so much more fun.  
Day 12:  Emergency workers.  The church we're visiting suggested this activity.  Each of the boys made a Christmas card and  packed a bag of Christmas cookies to deliver to someone who had to work on Christmas Eve.  We dropped them off after the Christmas Eve service.  Jacob and Rand delivered theirs to the security guard and receptionist at the hospital.  David took his to the police station.  Bryan took his to the fire station.  The firemen may have won our Christmas Eve cookie business for the next several years.  They showed the boys around the station and let them climb on the trucks.

Overall, I really enjoyed doing this with Chris and the boys.  I think we'll try it again next year.  

Peace of the Lord with you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 days of christmas, day 7: the h2o ride...

For Day 7 we did a H2O ride.  I had planned on giving something to Living Water International.  I love their work.  While perusing their website for a good promotional video to show the boys,* I came across the H2O ride.  A group of cyclists rode 8840 miles - 1 mile for every 100,000 people without access to clean and safe drinking water.   So I decided to do a Brothers H H2O ride.  I set an age appropriate "lap" in our neighborhood for each boy.  Their parents and grandparents each sponsored them at $0.25 per lap.  I set some prizes for reaching three different goals.  For meeting various goals, they got a drink, then chips, then a candy bar from the gas station.  Rand and I worked the Sag Station at the end of our driveway. 

It was great.  I'm really glad we did it.  This is one of my favorite things we've done.  BUT, it so did not go down the way I imagined.
One my goals in doing these 12 days of Christmas is to figure out how to make helping those in need a part of our daily lives in the household h.  I feel like a preschooler in this area, and I'm learning that it's never going to look like this picture I've been carrying around in my mind for the last several years.  Sometimes, when I announce joyfully the amazing, selfless act I have planned for our family for the day, my little participants will be remarkably unenthused, and I will hear, "That doesn't sound like fun at all."  And sometimes, I will force everyone to soldier on through some activity and later find out that the kid who seemed unbelievably whiny and irritating and self-absorbed actually had the flu.  Sigh.  

In the morning, when they found the card on the mantle announcing the H2O ride, everyone was excited.  David made a chart so we could check off completed laps.  Then we had a rain delay.  After the rain delay, he started complaining that his head hurt and asked if he could do it later.  I was annoyed (seriously, he wasn't grasping the awesomeness of my idea) and told him this was the time we were doing the ride and he could choose to participate or not.  Several miles and an hour and a half or so later, David started shivering and said he didn't want the gas station snacks (undeniable sign of extreme illness).  By the time I checked his temperature he was at 102 and miserable.  Bless his heart.  I think he rode about 5 or 6 miles feeling like that.

So, the H2O ride was another practical lesson in the reality that focusing the household h outward is not going to look like a Hallmark commercial starring me but that there will be some good and real stuff there, even some holy moments.  David, who would normally have been all over that bike ride and trying to both raise money and ride more laps than anyone else,** was having a hard time doing his share.  He had to ask Jacob to do some of his laps for him.  Jacob will probably still be feeling like a rock star three months from now.  He took a lot of David's laps for him.  On the morning we worked at The Houston Food Bank, someone really did say, "That doesn't sound like fun at all."  So, I spent some time explaining why we were doing all this stuff.  I told them what Christmas used to be like at our house - a lot of fun, but stressful and mainly about buying stuff.  I try to say that kind of stuff to them when I can, and I think they hear me about 5% of the time.  This was one of those times when they heard.  It was one of those holy moments. 

So, when I started this Christmas adventure, I think I planned on about 90% holy moments, and in reality, it's nothing near that.  But I think that's just how this goes.  Partly, there's a learning curve in figuring out how to live more missionally.  Partly, it's just part of living in a fallen world.  You get snapshots of glory. 

** He asked to do extra housework to add to his Compassion International bank but asked to be paid in nickels so his would weigh a lot more than his brothers' banks.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Call my cell-ery*...

This morning I found out that all my normal color polish congealed in the move.  So this, the only survivor, is what I'm wearing on my toes to Chris' work party tonight, implying that
  1. This is the first time I've painted my toenails in six months.
  2. At some point I decided that sparkly green was a reasonable color for an adult woman.** 
  3. Going to the drug store to buy a normal color is not an option because I am, in fact, too lazy to care that much.
In more encouraging news, though tempted, I passed on the adult women's tutus for sale at lululemon.***

*That's the OPI name of this color.  In another life I'd like to be their polish namer.
**Actually, I think my sister-in-law, Amy, was with me when I bought it and didn't intervene, so she bears some responsibility here.  By the way, some of you can pull off this color, but the math majors of the world tend to not be in that group.
***Amy wasn't with me last night, so maybe she's the real problem.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Changing the sheets, a week long process...

I have a few housekeeping posts in mind for the next few weeks.  If you're easily intimidated, you should really skip my blog for a few weeks.  I don't want to dishearten anyone.

One of my least favorite chores is changing sheets on top bunks.  I hate it.  It's awkward.  It annoys me that it takes twice as long as the other beds.  A few days ago, one of our top bunkers came downstairs to announce he'd had an accident.  When I went up to assess the damage (at a more reasonable hour), I found that the wet spot was pretty small.  My first thought:

Seriously, do I really have to change the sheets?  That's a pretty small spot.

So, as any adept and responsible mother would do, I posted a question on facebook to check the official facebook consensus and found that it really pays to have slacker facebook friends, or at least friends who encourage you down the road of slackerhood (that's a word, right?).*  There are a lot of reasons not to change slightly peed on sheets.  Apparently, if the offense is not dead center on the bed, you're clear.  If you've washed the sheets recently, it's really best not to stress them by overwashing.  You can turn on the ceiling fan and just let it dry up.  And my favorite - it depends on whose bed was defiled.  That's a great point.  If it's my bed, this discussion is unnecessary. 

So, thanks to the influence of my slacker internet friends, 36 hours later the bed is still in the process of being changed.  Here's the process so far.

Morning of offense:  Sheets stripped and washed but forgot (possibly on purpose) to make bed.
Night after offense:  Put culprit to sleep in sleeping bag 
2nd morning after offense:  Culprit wakes at 6:00 because his blanket is not cozy.  Translation - he can't figure out how to get back into his sleeping bag
2nd night after offense:  Mother has forgotten to put clean sheets on again but does remember the 6:00 a.m. sleeping bag debacle of the previous night and puts culprit to bed on bare mattress with a blanket on top.  Mother prays he doesn't have an accident as scrubbing a mattress sucks worse than changing a top bunk.

I may hold out until my mom gets here for Christmas.  In my experience, grandmothers tend to care more than mothers about whether their little people sleep on sheets.

* Concerning slacking off on chores, it does not pay to have an excessively tidy father as your Facebook friend.  
** I do understand that it took me five times as long to write this post as it would have to change the sheets. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 days of Christmas day 6...

And felt gnomes

Honestly, the brothers were not feeling these crafts so much.  I think they prefer playing Angry Birds and making weapons.  So, for next year, I'll have to come up with something a little fiercer.

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 days of Christmas, day 5...

Jacob and Bryan washed windows to earn money for Compassion International.

Chris, David and I packed boxes of food at the Houston Food Bank.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

12 days of Christmas, day 4...

Christmas party at the Children's museum

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Monday, December 5, 2011

12 days of Christmas day 3...

Ornament reveal
Each of the boys got a new Christmas ornament.  David got a golden snitch because he listened to the Harry Potter books this year.  Jacob got a cowboy boot because he loves his boots.  Bryan got a Lego Star Wars ship because he's obsessed with both.  Rand got a little red car because he loves driving around in his little car.  I got the ornaments from Etsy.

12 days of Christmas day 2...

Paper snowflakes and hot chocolate

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I came across this Hawk Nelson version of Joy to the World.  The preview sounded a little rowdy, so I bought it, thinking it would appeal to my motley crew.  I played it for the first time while we were decorating the tree and it ... exceeded my expectations.  It's sung a capella.  About halfway through the song, a man yelling in the background becomes progressively louder until he literally screams the last verse, solo.  We all had a good laugh the first time we listened, but after hearing it, say 10-15 times a day since, I began to wonder why I find the song endearing.  Seriously, how do you scream "Joy to the world, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her KING!!!" without being obnoxious and offensive  Okay, it really is obnoxious, but, oddly, is not offensive.  Then I realized why the song makes me smile.  It's the musical embodiment of the love of a boy too young to try to be sophisticated but too old to kiss his mother without being manipulated.  You know that age when a boy is just as goofy as he was at five but not quite as cute.  When he's too big to jump on your back without injuring you but is even more compelled to do it.*  Physically grating.  Unseemly and inappropriate.  Too much.  But unfiltered and unbridled.  Without pretense.  Like King David dancing in his underwear.  I love this song.

* Seriously, I think our money would be better spent if we passed on team sports and just hired someone to come over once a week and beat on the boys.

** Sometime around the 40th playing, the song further entrenched itself as the household h Christmas song of choice, when we deciphered someone yelling "Expecto patronum" in the background.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas in household h...

Sometime after we had David, I realized that our Christmas was a celebration of consumerism, with a little Jesus on the side. Seriously, it was the time of year I was least likely to be sensitive to the things of God. The Lent season was about recovering spiritually from Christmas. The issue is far from completely resolved, but we've made some changes each year and have come a long way, baby.

Here are a few
1. Complete Christmas gift purchases by Thanksgiving (mostly). 
2. Finish family movie and photo calendar by Thanksgiving (Christmas gifts to the grandparents h from now to the end of time). 
3. Make a gift plan for the kids. When I don't do this, I buy way too much. Right now ours is:
  • Stocking with small gift from Santa (or alternatively, inconvenient to wrap gift since Santa doesn't wrap gifts at household h)
  • 1 fiction, 1 non fiction book
  • Large toy
  • Small toy
  • Gift of presence (last year Chris took David and Jacob skiing and I took the little guys on separate dates)
4. Celebrate advent at home. We have a great weekly family devotional for the advent season. We light the appropriate candles and sing the week's carol before meals. 
5. Decorate only the parts of your house you feel like decorating. Do not guilt yourself (or anyone you may have married) into decorating anything.
This year we're celebrating the 12 days of Christmas as well. My good friend (who I miss terribly) Diane gave me this idea. I've picked 12 random days before Christmas. On these days, we'll do something fun together or do something for someone else. The boys know to look on the mantle each morning and see if there's a card announcing the day's activity. I'm going to try to blog these.
Day 1 was Tuesday. My parents gave each of the boys some money to pick out animals from Heifer.  The animals go to help provide food and money for needy families.

All that, and I've still had my first Christmas freak out. We couldn't find a good place to get a Christmas tree Sunday night. I almost started hyperventilating. The Christmas plan included decorating the tree MONDAY. Any later date was entirely unacceptable. Work in progress.

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