Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Card

There's a story behind our Christmas card this year. It mainly involves a windy, snowy, 30 degree day, a very whiny little boy, and a kid tackle resulting in inconsolable wailing by whiny little boy thus cutting short our photo session. I can't even think about it without cringing. And, so I'm going to skip the long-detailed account of it. Suffice it to say, I was certain that we weren't going to have a Christmas card this year at all.

Despite all of this (and thanks to the talents of Amber Gallimore), we were still able to get some great shots.

These were the 2 we used on our Christmas card this year.

We hope all of you had a very merry Christmas and send best wishes for a wonderful new year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Cracker Box Christmas

Christmas for us is generally spent up in Ohio with our extended families. Because we travel nearly every year, I am tempted to just forgo decorating for Christmas at our house. Because who loves coming home to a tree so dry it could impale you? No one. That's who.

But, decorating for Christmas is probably as much fun for my kids as is Christmas morning. There's no way we could not do it around here. So, since our families never get to see our house at Christmas time, I thought I would post some pictures here.

I'm also linking to The Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes.

Though, I have to say I'm a little nervous about that since most of those homes and pictures look like they've been done by professional stylists.

Our home? Well, there's no rhyme, no reason for what we put out for Christmas. We put it up because we have in the past, and the kids wouldn't be happy if we didn't do it again. It's sorta like Santa threw up in the living room. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

My dreams of a perfectly coordinated decorating scheme will have to wait.

So, here we go.

I don't know if it's an indication of my mood today, but this little guy is my favorite decoration right now.

What's even better is that if you push on his back, he does this:
I ran out of brown-colored jelly beans. Lucky you!

Here's the living room.
See that wreath against the window? That's actually what I was trying to capture in this horribly dark photo.

A close-up of the wreath I made. Yes. I did. Glue gun and all.

Our every color, crazy, hectic, ornaments-jumbled-too-close-together tree.

I love it. Can't help myself.

Into the kitchen. Please pardon my wrapping paper and boxes in the corner!

We started this tradition a few years ago. Each day, the kids open a door on the advent calendar and find a candy treat and a small ornament. They then hang them on this little tree. It's the first thing they do when they wake up every morning.

Hideously old-school, but I love this thing for some reason.

Some of those things I would have kept in boxes, but the kids had to have them out.

Every home with young children should have this toy. It's a hit every year I bring it out.

Our "Elf on the Shelf," Elfie decided to ride the reindeer this morning.

This was always out at my house during the Christmas season while I was growing up, and it doesn't seem right not to include it now.

And finally, some of my favorite ornaments:
My girl. Ugh! Was she ever so small?

Geesh... we were infants!

The kids love this one. Pooh and Piglet's sleigh moves around the circle when you pull the string on the bottom.

And, last, but not least . . .
Guess who!
Thanks for visiting our Cracker Box Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

And a Sheep Shall Lead Them

Another article I wrote for our MOPS group:

I think as moms we would all love for the holiday season to be a special time with our families when we come together to relax and enjoy each other while celebrating the birth of our savior, Jesus. We want it to be perfect. The perfect Christmas picture, the perfect gifts, the perfect memories.

However, the reality is often very different.

There's the Christmas shopping, party planning, cookie baking, program attending, card addressing, present wrapping, travel going, lack of sleeping, children whining, and a partridge in a pear tree.

The perfect Christmas often gets lost in the shuffle, or we're simply too worn out to enjoy it. Do you know what I mean?

This year, I'm trying (and not always succeeding) to remind myself and my kids to slow down, to enjoy the season, and to concentrate on our blessings rather than our wants. It's a constant battle. That's for sure.

The fact remains, however, that no matter how we do spend our holidays, the memories made during this time will stay with our children for years to come.

And now, just because it always makes me laugh to recall it, I would like to share one of my favorite Christmas memories.

It involves one of my 3 younger brothers (please, feel sorry for me, I deserve it). Seth is the middle brother and has been stubborn since the day he was born. This stubbornness made itself known in a particular way one year during our church's children's program.

Each grade level was assigned a part in the re-enactment of the Bethlehem story. The kids in my class (third grade?) were the angels. We totally rocked our pillow case dresses and cardboard wing ensembles, trust me. :-)

The oldest brother's class (kindergartners?) were the shepherds, and Jesse (the oldest of the 3 boys) was totally thrilled to wear my dad's bathrobe and walk down the center aisle herding the "sheep." The "sheep" were the preschoolers - Seth's class. And their costumes were adorable. Each child came dressed in footed sleeper pjs and were given woolly ears and a woolly tail to wear pinned to their bums. Their whole part in the program was simply to crawl down the aisle "baaing" while the shepherds walked with them toward the manger scene at the front of the church.

But Seth was totally NOT cool with his big brother being a shepherd while he had to be a lowly sheep with the other little ones. He pouted, he fussed, he threw a tantrum. But, my parents were determined not to give in to his antics, and he came to church that night in his sheep costume ready to go.

Or so we thought.

As I stood on stage singing "Silent Night" with the other angels, watching the cute little shepherds herding their sheep down the aisle, I started to hear some people laughing.

I looked and saw the shepherds, their adorable little sheep crawling and "baaing" as they went. And then. THEN. I spied one adorable, vaguely smug, stubborn-as-all-get-out sheep standing up and walking as upright as he could muster - with his nose in the air all the way down the aisle. Seth was dressed a sheep alright, but he was determined to walk with the shepherds no matter the cost.

While that program certainly didn't go according to plan, and my parents were probably mortified, that story has provided our family with many laughs for many years. I certainly can't tell you what I got for Christmas that year or really anything else about that Christmas, but my whole family remembers the moment when Seth the sheep was determined to be Seth the Shepherd. It's a family classic.

So, when all your perfectly laid Christmas plan don't happen exactly as you would hope, don't worry. Chances are that the memories made during all the mishaps will still be invaluable.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hello, snow

So what if he woke up with a horrible cough and a touch of a fever? He didn't care. When those first few flakes began to fall, all that mattered was getting outside to experience them.

Because, to a kid, watching it fall through the window simply isn't good enough. Have you forgotten that?

So, he broke out the winter hat. The BEST winter hat.

And went to revel in the first snow of the season. That magical occurrence when everything gets better, prettier, quieter, and more awesome.

Pure bliss.

Pure exaltation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A JibJab Disco Christmas

Because it's snowing outside, and I'm feeling particulary Christmasy today, I thought I'd share this little gem with you.

Oh, who am I kidding.

It just makes me laugh.

Hope you like it too! Click on the link and enjoy!

The Black Family Disco Christmas

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Thanksgiving just might be my favorite holiday. Sure it's crazy getting all that food together, but oh the rewards of eating it!

I've been a little disgusted at how Thanksgiving seems to get overlooked more and more each year. It seems as though once Halloween is over, the Christmas season begins, and Thanksgiving just gets lost in the shuffle. Sadly, Black Friday gets more attention.

But, we were determined to get the most out of this holiday because, truly, we have much for which to be thankful.

It totally helped that these special people came to celebrate with us:

We took the opportunity of having a few extra hands around to get a family shot. Not often these happen.

Grandma also came, and it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving at our house without her.

My dad took this one of me and my girl.

The Little Man led us in a Thanksgiving prayer that will go down in the history books for sure. If I can figure out a way to get a sound recording on the blog, I will post it for you here. There's just nothing sweeter than hearing a little voice:

Come Lawd Jesus,
Awr guest to beee,
And bwess deez gifs bestowed by dee.

Bwess awr loved ones evwewhere,
And keep us in yawr loving keeair.

We clapped and cheered like Ohio State had just scored a touchdown or something.

He grinned like he had scored that touchdown.
We had good food (including a seriously juicy, yummy turkey and 2 desserts!) and a good time with family.

Truly, what could be better than that?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Girl Has a Birthday (which also means she grows up. Boo!).

So, something happened the other day.

And, I'm not really thrilled about it.

Someone else, on the hand, couldn't wait for it.

Apparently, she's dead set on growing up.

Little stinker refuses to listen to every argument I present encouraging her to stay little enough for me to snuggle forever. And she absolutely refuses to turn back into a little baby so I can sniff the top of her head and gnaw on her cheeks.

Why is this, I wonder? I mean, my arguments make perfect sense to me!

Seven candles, people! 7!!

There was no nostalgia for my girl. She was all about celebrating her birthday with some of her special friends . . .

her dad, her brother, and . . . and a horse (of course!)

at the place that all little kid's call "heaven" and all parents call . . . well, you know.

That's right.

It was . . .

Chuck E. Cheese's!

"Where a kid can be a kid . . . and some freaky, large-headed mouse makes you wear a silly blow-up crown in front of all your best friends!"


She had a blast though, and so did all of her friends.

Her little brother and her dad did too.

I forgot to ask the horse.

Meanwhile, I'm doing my best to reconcile myself with this getting older business. Apparently, she's going to do it, no matter what I say.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful with Attitude

My girl turned 7 last week.

I'm still reeling from the shock of it all, but I am working on getting a birthday post up someday soon (hopefully before she turns 8 which, at this rate, will be, like, tomorrow. THEY GROW UP SO FAST!).

Okay, I'm over it.

Anyway, I wrote this for our MOPS newsletter and thought I would post it here too. Sorry if you're reading it twice. :-)

One of my mom's favorite "punishments" for her 4 whiny children was to order us to: "name ten things you are thankful for." (really, she probably only made us do it a few times, but to a kid that's a lot!). Sounds like she let us off easy, doesn't it? Seriously, when my 2 start the whine fest, all I want to do is send them somewhere AWAY from me. I have a very low whine tolerance. It's the truth.

As kids, we were usually disgruntled and mad that we didn't get our way, and our typical first few "thankful for's" included things like, "the air," "my pants," "boogers," and other such sarcastic drivel.

But, what eventually happened, what always happened, and what my wise mother knew would happen (or at least she hoped!) is that by number 4 or 5, we really started to name those things that truly mattered, those things for which we were truly grateful - our family, our home, our health, etc. And, low and behold, the earlier gripes were forgotten, and our moods were lightened (usually, anyway!).

As a kid, I used to HATE doing this, and swore that I would NEVER make MY kids do this.

Well, never say never.

While I haven't yet employed the "thankful list" as a punishment per se, I have started to make an effort at encouraging my children to appreciate those blessings around them that they take for granted every day, and as Thanksgiving nears, we have begun a tradition in our home to help us be thankful more than just one day every year.

Two balls of Styrofoam, a pair of googly eyes, and a wattle and beak made from construction paper make up our very own Tom the Thankful Turkey. Every November he arrives in our home, and as each day passes, we fill out Tom's tail with construction paper feathers filled with "thankful for's" as we count down the days until Thanksgiving.

The kids LOVE doing this each night, and the contributions are always entertaining. Ben's "thankful for's" are always my favorite: "homework, the sun, Big Doggy, apple crisp, Popsicles."

My "thankful for's" of course always include my family, my friends, my home, but I also include things like "coffee," "chocolate," and this past week, I included "antibiotics" too. :-)

What are you thankful for, and how do you remind yourself and your family to be thankful every day?

There are many days the whiny little kid of so many years ago still shows her face in my mirror, and I'm always surprised at just how easy it is to forget everything for which I have to be grateful. Hopefully, with a little practice, we can all remember to be thankful for all our blessings without it having to be a punishment.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Guess what we were for Halloween 2010

Can you guess?

She's not a princess (it's a Halloween miracle!).

She's not sparkly or glittery.

There are no wings, wands, tiaras, or plastic shoes involved.

Can you guess?

Whoa... what's up with the brown hair??

She's Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, complete with Toto and the requisite red sparkling shoes (okay so there was a little sparkle involved. But, if you were to ask her, she would be quick to tell you that in actuality, Dorothy's shoes in the original story were silver! That's my girl!). Click those heels together, Dorothy! There's no place like home. There's no place like home!

She got lots of oohs and ahs from people admiring her costume all night long. And though she didn't intend to, she totally freaked out her little brother.

Mommy, I don't like Clairey in that costume.

Why not, buddy?

Because it doesn't look like she's my sister anymore.

And the little man?

No masks, no fur, no Iron Man in sight (though it was a close call there!)

The fake head/microphone was the clincher on the costume choice for this guy.

Ka-chow! Hello Lightening McQueen Pit Crew Chief!

Bring on the candy!