Archive | December, 2011

Wonder where we are?

28 Dec

You should go back and read this.  Oh, and we’re having a great time.  A REALLY, GREAT, LOUD TIME. 🙂 lol


From Our Families to Yours

25 Dec

A Bag Full of Christmas Cheer

24 Dec

It is Christmas Eve!

In celebration I grabbed two of my favorite elvish groupies for today’s grab bag.

Get it?

I grabbed them.

See? It’s funny.

Because today is GRAB Bag Special Saturday.

Yes? Yes.

So, take a cue from me and grab some of your favorites elfin companions (appropriately, of course) and give them a Christmas Eve Cuddle.


For You and Your Kin

23 Dec

Earlier this afternoon our family exchanged gifts, and now I want to share a little of that giving and receiving mood with you, our readers.  That’s right, it’s time for our first ever Giveaway!  Okay, so we’ve given away virtual certificates, used turtlenecks, and bragging rights before, but this is for real.  An actual object, to a random commenter.

What will it be, you ask?

Don’t worry Abe, it’s not your hand-me-down Christmas socks.  Remember, we already tried rewarding people with used apparel, it wasn’t a huge success.

How about our boys’ favorite stocking stuffer . . .

three-packs of invisible tape.  It would be my favorite stocking stuffer too, if it were actually invisible.

No?  Well, how about Cindy Lou Who from When the Grinch Stole Christmas?

Sorry, we’re keeping our girl and her curl.  We might be willing to part with our new vegetable serving dish.

Pete’s always giving us an ear full.  Of peas.

It is Friday, after all, so I suppose it would be most fitting to give away a book.  And, I know just the one:

The Very First Christmas  by Paul Maier is a standard around these parts.  My sister even mentioned it earlier.

Look, it won a pretty sticker for excellence in Evangelical Christian Literature.

In addition to being a professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and one of the Vice Presidents of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, Dr. Maier was Jerry’s Pastor when he was in college.  He’s written several entertaining, and informative books aimed at adults, but in this children’s book he puts to rest some of the myths of the Christmas story and gives an historically accurate rendering of the story.

The illustrations are quite lovely, and just learned that the artist, Francisco Ordaz also worked on E.T. and Return of the Jedi.  So, there’s that.

And how does one win this glorious book?

Well, here at the blog we’re kind of selfish, so we want to something in return.  We want to pick your brain.  That’s right, in order to be entered in this giveaway you need to leave one (1) comment with the answer to the following question:

What is your favorite Christmas Book?

Old or new, for young or aged, based in fact or fiction.  We’re not picky.  And if you don’t have a favorite seasonal tale just name any ol’ book that floats your boat.  And if there are no books that you enjoy, then you might want to rethink your interest in this giveaway, but I’ll leave that up to you.

Since we’re going to be living life unplugged for the next week-plus, this giveaway is open until 2012.  That’s right, you have until December 31, 2011 at 11:59 to get in the game.  We won’t announce the winner until next year.  But don’t worry.  It will still be Christmas.


For Us and Our Kin

22 Dec

Things I (We) Love:  Time on the Interwebs


Things I (We) Love:  Time with our Family

Something’s gotta give.

Therefore,  during the 12 Days of Christmas (please recall my earlier rant explaining the proper dates,) or for at least the Octave of Christmas (the week between Christmas and New Years’ Day) we intend to err on the side of familial festivities.  Instead of digitizing our every memory, we plan to make a few.  We will replace emoticons with actual smiles, lol’s with audible joy, and the all caps of our children’s voices with ear-splitting excitement.

Santa, did I mention that earplugs are inexpensive and would totally fit in my stocking?

But we do have a few more treats for you to pop out of this virtual Advent calendar.  Tomorrow will be our first ever book giveaway.  Saturday, Stacy has something up her sleeve (at least I’ve bossed her around and told her to do so.)  And if you’ve been nice this year, there might even be a special Christmas morning surprise for you.

After that, we join generations of elementary students in skipping out of the classroom on a Christmas party sugar high and hollering the most clever of all second grade adieus:

“See you next year!”


Can we say cheese?

21 Dec

My children learned everything they know about posing for pictures from Stacy’s children.

At last, something that can’t be blamed on me.


Excuses. (And pouting, too)

20 Dec

Today’s real reality is that I don’t have the time or energy to post because I was up too late watching the finale of my favorite false reality on Hulu. Another season of Survivor in the books. Nothing better to get one in the Christmas spirit, right? Sure.

And also, I don’t know about any of you, but my Christmas to-do list is unreasonably long. Yours?

Also, I forgot.

So that’s it. It doesn’t get any realer than this, friends.

SO, as an apology I’ll post some sort of really great picture. Hold on a sec while I search my hard drive for just the right thing. I’ll be right back……..Alright, here it is, and I feel as though it is particularly appropriate because it is also slowing me down. Or rather, its opposite is what has me dragging my festive feet. I am super bummed about the lack of snow in our Christmas forecast. I think I’ll just sit and pout about it and do nothing else.



Santa Claus is coming. Or is he?

19 Dec

Is that Santa we see in the reflection of the pendulum?

It could be.  Santa always came to our house in the early evening hours of December 24.  When we left for the Sunday School Christmas Program our stockings were hung by the doorframes with care in hopes that, well, I’m not exactly sure what our hopes were.  Santa was sort of an enigma.  Sometimes we believed in him.  Most of the time we were ‘too smart’ for that.  Here’s what we did know about the Jolly St. Nick:

Santa was not our Pastor.
Santa was our Pastor.
He did dress as Santa.  We knew he wasn’t.  Well, we knew that Santa SOUNDED just like Pastor. We also knew that our Pastor had the only supply of spirit gum in the three county area. Two and two, you know. Regardless, his appearance at our door one pleasant December afternoon led to an epic screaming fit by the younger of us. It’s a bit of a shocker when That Guy shows up on unsuspecting, training-pants clad toddlers.

Santa only brought small, inexpensive gifts that fit inside a stocking.
Santa brought large, expensive gifts left under the tree.
At our house there was gum, candy, mints.  At our classmates’ house there was a VCR.  In 1983, a VCR.  Yeah, Santa didn’t know much about fairness.   The elder of us possibly even reprimanded a Santa once when he suggested that a doll might be a good thing for which to ask.  Obviously That Man never peaked in to see what his elves were making.

Santa’s red blinking blip on the local news weather map showed his sleigh still in northern Canada just a few minutes before we left the house.
Santa arrived in the midwest before 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve.
Mom always forgot something before we left for church and had to run back into the house while we sat in the chilly car waiting. On some random Christmases she had urgent business in our home to which she HAD to attend before Dad unloaded our sugar-laden, sleep-heavy bodies from the floor and benchseat of the family Suburban AFTER church and our family’s Christmas Eve celebration at Gramma and Grappa’s. That may have been a run-on sentence. What it meant was, “Sometimes Mom forgot.”

Santa visited vacant town halls to talk with children on stage about their greatest Christmas desires.
Santa lived in “department stores” and “parades”, whatever those were.
We can vaguely remember trepidatiously taking the backstage stairs in our town’s town hall (that was used for prom and middle school girls’ basketball practice, like most good town halls are) to terrifyingly speak to the Big Guy. We didn’t really know what to say. Duh. We were THOSE kids.

So, that’s it. Way to go, Mom. Nice work, Dad. Seriously. Or, sarcastically. You choose.


By Both of Us

Sugar and Spice

17 Dec

I’m all about stretching themes these days.  So, I’ll just be really honest and admit that today’s Grab Bag Special picture is not even close to a random pull from an old photo album.  Nope, I knew exactly what digital file I was hunting for to grab this photo.  Here it is straight from the Twin’s First Month Archives:

That is just over 5 lbs. of baby girl in her very first dress.  I remember that moment like it was yesterday.  That is a horrible simile – yesterday is pretty foggy, but you know what I’m getting at.  The emotions connected to that article of clothing are quick to surface when I see the picture.

I didn’t even realize it was a dress before that morning.  The little preemie sized outfit was so tiny that the “skirt” looked like an unsuspecting ruffle.  I was new to this whole line of apparel, and so until the final three snaps gave audible closure it hadn’t hit me that my daughter was wearing a dress.

Big moment.

Fast forward fifteen months, and although our boys have finally learned to use female pronouns, and I don’t stumble every time I try to say “sister” I was once again struck with that same “Officially Female” kind of feeling.  Check this out:

A bow.  A curl.  A girl.



Going on Book Tour

16 Dec

I’m supposed to talk to you about a book today, judge it by its cover, and give you the whole entertaining scoop.  But, things are very messy around here, and I can’t seem to focus on a book.

Okay, let’s be honest, I can’t seem to focus on much of anything.

So instead, let’s start off Christmas Vacation with a tour of everyone’s favorite death tourist trap, our house.  We’ll even make this fit our Friday theme and make it a Bibliotechnic Tour.

Shall we begin?  Please watch your step.  No seriously, don’t stub your toe on the potato bin the Twins rolled into the living room or pierce your foot on that Imaginext guy’s sword.

Our first stop is the dining room.  Here, underneath our table is our collection of Christmas books.

Some people may prefer to keep their seasonal books under the tree, but then again, they don’t display them in such a classy box, either.  Many of the Christmas books aren’t in here.  In fact, let me thumb through these quickly . . . yes, just as I thought:  These are the ones we haven’t actually read yet, which means that there are approximately 37 other Christmas/Snow/Winter/Santa/Arctic Animal books elsewhere in the house.  Please try not to slip and fall when you step on one.

Next let’s head towards our school area.  Yikes!  Please avert your eyes as we walk past the dining room table.  It looks like the babies have been at it again.

Ah, here’s our eldest, Simeon.  He has one final math review to finish before officially enjoying Christmas Break.

Don’t worry,  “phone a friend” is not an acceptable method of math tutoring at our house.  Talking through your math problems on a toy cell phone in an imaginary conversation with your cousin Owen and good friend Daniel is, however.

And see these?

These are worth three cheers.  Ready?  Hip, Hip, Hooray!  Really, that’s all the better cheer I can get out of a virtual tour group?  Lame.  Well, let me tell you their significance, and maybe I can hear some all caps out of you yet.  In August when I sat down to do long term lesson planning for the year it was my goal to finish these math, astronomy, and ancient history texts by Christmas.  We made it!!!  Can I get a HIP, HIP . . .

Oh, well.  On to my desk.

This stack of books has been edited by some clever elves who wish to keep Christmas presents a surprise.  So now, aren’t you wondering if you are one of the nuts to whom these books will be gifted?

The kitchen is home to many recipe-free books at our house.  Here’s a smattering of what we have on our counters.  First, a hymnal.

I had a bit of work to do this morning, so it’s hanging out here by the computer.  You can tell by the dirty spots on the second page that this hymnal is no stranger to close encounters of the kitchen kind.

While we’re here, please note that we begin observing The Great “O” Antiphons tomorrow.  It’s a great way to count down to the Holy Day.  Also, and get ready because this is a little soap box I like to stand on, the Twelve Days of Christmas actually start on December 25 and carry on until January 5.  We are not in them right now.  That is all.  Rant off.

Under the hymnal is another tome that is rarely out of arm’s reach for me this December.

I’m nearing the end, see?

Will I make it in time to enjoy Christmas Present?

Then there’s the back side of this little work.

I tend to agree with the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. But, I might be speaking out of turn about ASUE, I only read one volume, and that was nearly eight years ago when I was operating on a touch of baby blues, and only a pinch of sleep.  Maybe they aren’t as dismal as I remember them.

Nah.  They’re bad.  But, on his Aunt’s advice, I will be allowing my son to try them on for his own dismay.

Let’s see, where to next?  How about we wrap up our little tour in the living room.  Did you ever wonder where the books go when you put them in the book drop?  Apparently, right here:

See that book about Petunia.  She wants a pet skunk.  It’s funny stuff.

If you look immediately behind you, our half decorated Christmas tree would be happy to illuminate the room, except, well, we can’t keep it plugged in while the babies are awake.

Our final stop on today’s tour is a book on top of the piano.  This is where, in the context of singing our morning prayers, we read the actual, real life, straight from scripture, Incarnation of Christ, Christmas story.  It’s a Must Hear.

This is a page from the wonderfully helpful resource called Bible Stories for Daily Prayer by Karl Fabrizius.  If you’re looking for a great question/answer/devotional format to read through the Bible with your family, and have Christ illuminated through all of scripture, you should definitely check it out.

So here, in our messy house littered with pages and pages of words, and in our even messier sin-littered hearts, comes The Word to dwell and leave us clean in His forgiveness.

This concludes our tour.  Please stop by the gift shop, and wrap a few items for me while you’re there.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation.  We plan on doing the same.