Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas and more

Christmas is always a busy time and this year was no exception. I compare it to planning a wedding. You spend the entire month ( except in the case of a wedding it's usually longer) before preparing for the big day. Every spare minute you have revolves around the buying and wrapping of presents, the planning of meals, baking, decorating, sending cards, etc.... And then it's here and gone in the blink of an eye. Every year I say it's going to be different and every year it comes and goes just like the year before.

We were fortunate enough this year to have my mom and dad and my grandmother join us for Christmas. Usually on Christmas Eve, we go to church and then come home and have lots of appetizers and then open presents. This year we did something a little different. We had a nice sit down dinner and then let the kids open two presents. Our intention was for them to open one present but it turned into a battle so we relented and let them open an extra one. Instead of going to the Christmas Eve service on Christmas Eve, we actually went on Sunday since our church had the same service for both days. Then we all gathered around the Christmas tree and my dad read the Christmas story out of the Bible. Haley then read Twas the Night Before Christmas.

The kids all slept together in Haley's room. When we put them to bed Christmas Eve we told them they were not to come and wake us up before 7 a.m. Of course we should have been more specific and told them not to wake anyone up because they went in and woke my dad up at 6. Anyhow, after checking to make sure Santa actually brought them some stuff, we let them go downstairs.

The big hit of the day was the Wii that Santa left. The kids (and their father) have enjoyed it tremendously. The kids also got a lot of other nice things such as a camera, Lego's, remote control cars, etc.

Harrison got a disposable camera in his stocking and he was taking pictures with it indiscriminately. My dad looked at the camera and told Harrison he needed to save some pictures for later because he already had taken 26 pictures. Harrison's reply was to take another picture and say "27", then he took another and said "28". At least we know he can count.

We had a large breakfast and a late Christmas dinner. My sister-in-law and her son and grandkids joined us for dinner. They stayed for a while and then my brother-in-law, his wife and kids came over and played some on the Wii. At one point, there were 15 of us in my house.

I feel very fortunate that my family is close enough to join us for this special holiday. All in all it was a very nice Christmas but I think that next year, I will try to do less and enjoy it more. As my mother said, we should all savor the moments because it will never be exactly this way again. This was the only Christmas that my kids would be 5, 8 and 11. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the quest for the perfect Christmas that we forget it isn't about all the stuff, it's about spending time with each other and celebrating the greatest gift ever, the gift of God's love and forgiveness expressed in the birth of his son, Jesus Christ.

May all your Christmas' be merry and bright........................

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Visit with Ol' Saint Nick

We took the kids up to the local mall Wednesday night to see Santa. Haley and Holden were game but Harrison was reluctant to sit on the Big Guy's lap. After some coaxing we were able to get Harrison to sit beside Haley.

Of course, Santa had a warped sense of humor because he told the kids he didn't take care of his teeth when he was little and they all fell out. Then he proceeded to show them his dentures by sticking them out of his mouth with his tongue. Now that is a memory I want for my child. Harrison just stared at him like he had lost his mind but he fortunately stayed put and we were able to get this cute picture.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Finally, we have some colder weather. For a week or so there I felt like I was living in Hawaii. The temperatures were in the high 70's to low 80's every day. Thankfully, Old Jack Frost blew some arctic air in our direction. I can only hope it holds out for Christmas. It's a little difficult to get into the Christmas spirit wearing shorts and running the air conditioner. Of course there are many people who disagree with me and love having the warm weather.

This past weekend we went to my Grandmother's house to celebrate our family Christmas. We exchanged presents with my Aunt and Uncle and my grandmother on Saturday. Haley got a lot of art supplies and an easel, Holden got some camping stuff, The Dangerous Book for Boys, and some Gameboy games and Harrison got a cowboy outfit and a Power Rangers Megazord.
Then on Sunday, our extended family got together for Christmas dinner at my grandmother's house. As usual there was no shortage of food.
Monday was Harrison's Christmas party. They had lunch provided by the parent's and then exchanged presents with their "secret Santa". Amazingly enough, they all kept who they had a secret. Harrison got a Hot Wheels car launcher which was right up his alley.
On Monday, Holden and his class had pajama day and watched The Polar Express. Tuesday was Holden's Christmas party at school. I volunteered to bring cookies so I asked Holden what he wanted. He didn't ask for chocolate chip or peanut butter or sugar cookies. He wanted Gingerbread cookies. So I spent several hours Monday night baking and decorating them for him. I was quite pleased with how they turned out. So much in fact that I think I will be making a batch for our family and some of the neighbors.
Here are the links for the recipes I used in case you are interested. The only thing I did differently was substitute a 1/4 tsp. ground cloves for part of the ginger. You will also want to flour your surface generously before rolling out the dough as it is pretty sticky. And they rise a lot so be sure to leave plenty of room between them.

Gingerbread People
Royal Icing

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Christmas program at Harrison's school was great. The kids did a good job at retelling the Christmas story in their own words. Harrison had several lines and he not only remembered them but delivered them quite well for a five year old. He even had to say gold, frankincense and myrrh. Here is his class doing the Living Nativity. Harrison is the one with the staff. And no, he didn't hit anyone with it.

After the show, we went to the classroom to enjoy some refreshments. Here is our little star and his carpool buddy, Rob, who was a Wiseman.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas card nightmare

It all started on picture day a couple weeks back when I was frantically running around looking for my son's white shirt that never appeared. So we had to go and buy one on the way to the beach. But let me back up. I was taking the kids to the beach solo because David was helping over at the Sertoma tree stand (I should have known better than to attempt this by myself).

Well when we started out it was overcast and by the time we got on the way it started raining. We waited it out but by that time the sun was going down. Trying to get all three kids to look at the camera and smile (all together) was a lot of fun. After telling Harrison to stop squashing his neck into his shoulders a dozen times, I finally gave up. I still got some good pictures (or so I thought).

When I uploaded them and tried printing them out on my printer they were all fuzzy looking. So I took them to CVS quick print and when they printed out they were better but had a slight purple shadow. So I sent them over to Ritz and they turned out good enough to use. Not the best ever but, oh well.

So then I designed my own Christmas card in Photoshop in a 4 x 8 design because that is what size Ritz prints their Christmas cards. Well come to find out, Ritz only does the standard sizes (4x6, 5x7, etc.). So I had to redo the whole thing in a 5 x 7 format. Now this would not be a big task for someone very proficient in Photoshop. But for me, a beginner at best, it was a bit challenging. But, I did learn quite a bit about the program while doing this card.

So anyhow, I got the card all ready and I sent it over to Ritz to print. When I picked up the card, I decided the picture looked a little dark, so I lightened it up (meaning I had to redo the whole thing) and sent it over to print. This was Monday evening. Keep in mind that Ritz is suppose to be a one hour processing center. Midday Tuesday, I went over to Ritz to pick up my pictures. When I got there, I was told that my pictures were in the que to be printed when the machine broke. They thought it might be ready that afternoon but they would call me. So I went home and didn't hear from them. On Wednesday, I went to the store around noon and found out that my prints still were not done. The photo technician said if I wanted to print them in glossy (rather than matte), she could have them ready in 15 minutes. So rather than have to come back later, I agreed. I returned 45 minutes later to find out that they STILL had not been printed. By this point it was time to pick Harrison up from school so I told them that if I had to come back, I would prefer them to be printed in matte and just to call me when they were done.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening. I call the store and they tell me that my pictures are done. Keep in mind that this is the 4th time in two days that I have been to this store and stood in a very long line. I finally get my pictures and I am sure you have guessed it by now. They were printed wrong. On glossy paper and the prints were not even trimmed.
By this point I was pretty irritated about the whole situation and I guess the manager sensed that my boiling point was near. I wanted to have them reprinted in the matte finish but he said they were so far behind it would be another day and instead he gave me my money back and the prints.
So although the prints are not what I ordered and they doe not look as nice in the glossy finish as the matte finish, they were free. And they are on there way. So that is one less thing to do before Christmas. And that is a good thing.

So here is the infamous Christmas card.

Silent Night

Harrison's Christmas program is this morning. His class has been preparing for a couple of weeks now. There is fortunately one little girl in his class who is going to be Mary. Harrison has informed us that the Baby Jesus isn't real, it's just one of Bethany's dolls.

Last week we had to get Harrison's costume together for his role as a shepard. His teacher hasn't sent home any lines to memorize so we have no clue what he is going to say.

Last night, as David was putting him to bed, he asked him if he was sure he knew his lines to which Harrison replied, "I can't tell you, it's a surprise." David said "Okay, I was just checking." Then Harrison looks over at him and as serious as he can be says, "But I don't know them anyway."

Let's hope he was just kidding.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Who is that dude?

Harrison has always been the child who could make you laugh or smile with the things he says and does. He has an incredible imagination and a wonderful sense of humor. Of course on the other end, he can also be the child who makes you want to pull all of your hair out by all of his shenanigans.

Last night the kids were all upstairs playing while David and I were downstairs in the kitchen. Harrison came downstairs and walked through the kitchen without saying a word. When I looked up, I laughed out loud at his outfit. I wonder where he got his fashion sense?

When I asked him to pose for a picture, here's what he did.

Now that is one cool dude.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Don't put this on your list of things to buy

I don't know what I was thinking. Obviously I had a temporary lapse in judgement. But really I couldn't help myself. Here's the story.

For Harrison's birthday back in August, the only thing he asked for was Moon Sand. He was so cute repeating the television commercial saying that it would never dry out, it came with it's own carrying case and it was a lot of fun. So of course I had to get him some. Or rather I had my mother give him some.
Here's Harrison playing with his moon sand. He is interested in it long enough to create a huge mess. Oh say, five minutes. Then he loses interest and leaves me to clean up.
Just let me tell you that as much as I hate a playdoh mess, I hate a moon sand mess a million times over. What the commercial fails to tell you is that it will scatter all over your floor and since moon sand sticks to everything including clothing, if I don't catch him, he will walk through the house leaving a trail of sand. I am sure it never dries out because having been scattered everywhere, it is all gone by the time it would have dried out.
Here's what a child looks like when he has been told to clean up moon sand off of the table and chair. See, even he isn't happy about it.
So let this be fair warning to all parents who have this on their to buy lists for their children - DO NOT DO IT! You will regret it. And like me you will look for every excuse possible to avoid pulling it out of the closet. I don't even bother trying to put the excess back in the containers. I just sweep it up and deposit it in the garbage all the while mumbling under my breath "I can't wait until it's gone".
Of course I am sure that as soon as it's gone, there will be some other item that he sees on television and just has to have. Only maybe next time he won't be so cute when he asks and I can say no.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What's next?

When my kids were infants and then toddlers, I spent many hours checking out toys to see if they had a part that could come off and get lodged in their throats. I checked recall lists to make sure that a toy we owned wasn't on any of them.

I removed all strings from jackets so that it cold not strangle them. And all my blinds had the cords tied up so that they couldn't get near them and hang themselves.

As they got older, I began to relax a little. Until now.

Earlier this year, I discovered that the Mag Stick Magnetic toy had been recalled. We had a set of these and normally I wouldn't worry because my children are past the mouthing stage. But I have caught both of my boys at one time or another with some small toy in their mouths. It terrifies me that not only could they choke on one of these magnet balls but, if more than one magnet is swallowed, it could cause intestinal perforation.

Then the whole lead scare started. In June, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued the single biggest recall of toys containing lead paint. The culprit- Thomas and Friends wooden railway toys. In August, Fisher Price recalled 83 types of toys including including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters -- because their paint contains excessive amounts of lead. And then in September, Mattel, the parent company of Fisher Price, recalled 675,000 Barbie accessory toys for the same reason.

And it looks like there is no end to the toys that are being recalled. Aqua Dots has now been discovered to be covered with a chemical that metabolizes the same as the date rape drug.

As if it wasn't already hard enough to find toys with some educational value to them, now as a parent we are forced to consider if the toys we buy are secretly a ticking time bomb slowly poisoning our children.

As I was Christmas shopping this year, I had to really think about the toys that I was sticking in my cart. Normally, if I saw a toy in the dollar section at Target, I would have thrown it in the cart without a second thought. This year though, I was reading labels to see if it contained those taboo words "Made in China". It's a scary thing that nothing seems to be safe anymore.

Now that the lead issue has been bradcast by the media and people have become more aware, youwould think that the numbers of dangerous products would be diminishing from store shelves. But a Michigan based environmental group has found otherwise. They test 1,200 toys and found that 17 percent had lead levels that exceed the federal recall standard of 600 parts per million.

If you are like me, you will want to check out the list of toys that are not made in China published by Toys R' Us. While you still have to be careful about what you buy, this list can provide you with a starting point. Another good website that lists toys by brand or type along with a listing of any chemicals found in them is

If you want to see if any toys you already own have been recalled, go to They have a list of recent recalls as well as links to the government website that has toy recalls as far back as 1974. Another great reference site is

If you feel so compelled, check out to sign a petition to stop the manufacturing and distribution of toxic children's products.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Pictures?

I recently purchased a Canon Rebel XTi. It only took me 3 months to make the decision as to what camera to buy. I had to do a lot of research and price shopping before I felt ready to make the leap.
I took the kids down to the beach the other evening to get our Christmas pictures. We were delayed by the rain but it turned out we got to see a beautiful sunset. The pictures turned out pretty good in theory. When I actually printed them out, they were a little "spotty". Not sure what caused that but I guess I have some things to learn about the camera.
Here are a few of the pictures I took. Maybe with a little Photoshop help, I can make at least some of them printable so that I can use them for my Christmas pictures. I sure don't want to have to go through the whole photo shoot process again.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The pressure's killing me...........

It happens every year. I run myself ragged trying to get all of my holiday stuff done by December 1st. Then December 1st arrives and every year, I disappoint myself by not having it all together. You would think that by now, I would come to the realization that no way am I going to have my shopping done, my Christmas pictures taken (much less the cards mailed) and my tree and house decorated by the first of the month. Every year I get close. This year was no exception. As of Friday, I only had 3 Christmas presents left to buy. Pretty good, right? My Christmas pictures are taken (never mind that I just now figured how to get them off of the camera).

But here lies the BIG problem. We started a huge redecorating project in our family room that has taken way longer than anticipated. So not only do I not have my tree up, my furniture isn't even in the right places and the walls are only half painted. Well actually the tree is up. It's in a bucket of water on our back porch. But it's not in the house and decorated.

So why don't I stop giving myself this deadline? Or why don't I move it back a week or so? I don't know. Maybe it's the type A personality that makes me want to be in control of it all. Whatever it is, it is driving me mad. So maybe this year as my New Year's resolution I will make a commitment to myself to let it go next Christmas. No deadlines, no pressure. Just have fun.

Let's face it though, the chances of that happening are about as good as us having a white Christmas. So maybe instead I will just start my shopping January 1. That way I stand a better chance of having it all done by December 1.