Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Red Bucket

Last night we took a family trip to Walmart. Mark's been gone so much with practice and games for the past couple of months, so the kids were really excited to go somewhere with him. Mark gave each of them a dollar and told them if we made it through the store with no whining or fighting (there's been a lot of bickering lately and I'm sure there are people out there who disagree with the bribing, but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!) they could buy something that they picked out themselves. At the end of our successful shopping, the kids picked out boxes of little Christmas tree cakes. With Mark, everything is fun and exciting, so he showed them how to do the self check-out lane and had them insert the money themselves and then of course came the excitement of seeing the change come out the little slot. Jake was excited to put his change in his Ohio State piggy bank at home, and of course Rory imitates and talkes about everything that Jake does so she got excited about her Dorothy and Toto bank. On the way out of the store, Mark asked if they wanted to put their money in the red bucket instead. We explained to Jake how that money would help buy something for another kid who didn't have very much. I have no clue how much of that he understood. Most likely they were just excited to drop coins into the swinging red bucket (very cool!), but as they did, Jake yelled out "Merry Christmas" to the friendly man ringing his bell. My eyes filled with tears that he gave his little treasure away so easily. It was a huge reminder to me that it's my responsibility to teach these two little people about loving people (which is a new concept for me in life since I did not grow up this way.) Just an unexpected kind of blessing during my favorite time of year.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Holiday Books

I love books! I love old books, I love new books, I love the smell of crisp pages, I love the sight of old book bindings sitting on a shelf. And most of all, I love the tradition books create in a family. I grew up with a great old pop-up version of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and of all the Christmas objects we unpacked out of bins every December, that was my favorite thing to see each year. My mom even has a video of me reading it to Trina and Wayne when I was about 8. And I still have that book. I think my mom understood that it was most meaningful to me, so I got to take it with me when I got married. It’s sitting on my shelf of Christmas books right now, waiting to be read this season. I actually bought a new Twas the Night Before Christmas book a few years ago from Hallmark because it was so pretty—it’s a Santa and Coke version and I love the illustrations.

Some of my best memories of being a kid are road trips and my mom reading out loud to us from the Bobbsey Twins and Little House books. We took lots of trips to visit cousins and we always read our favorite family books along the way. I’ve been collecting vintage Bobbsey Twins books for a few years now, and I still have the Little House set that was mine as a kid. And I have found some great versions of American classics like Pollanna, the Little Princess, Swiss Family Robinson and other stories I loved as a kid. And I have extremely vintage copies of The Wizard of Oz (my favorite story ever, well, tied with Little Women) and Charlotte’s Web (shout-out to Gretchen and her annual book report!). I have boxes and boxes of children’s books.

Now that I have my own family, I’m trying to create holiday traditions through some books with them too. I’m probably going a little overboard though. I found great books of little poems for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day by Jack Prelutsky. I also found Twas the Night Before Halloween, and other Twas books for Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, first day of Kindegarten, etc. by Natasha Wing. And I also bought a couple of other random books about the Pilgrims, Christmas and other things that just seemed so cute. I spend more online time on Amazon than anywhere else—books, movies, and music—my three favorite things on one great website.

People have told me I better hope and pray that Rory is a reader because I’ve been collecting classic books since before she was born. Well, so far, she IS! She’ll sit with books all day if she can. She loves being read to, she loves reading to herself, so far so good. =) And Jake is starting to come around too—the more he sees Rory with books, he seems more interested. Needless to say, we spend a TON of time reading together on the couch. Time will tell if they love their holiday books as much as I did.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tim Horton's

Okay, okay, I finally tried Tim Horton's coffee. My honest assessment is this: the coffee was just okay, but I appreciated the festiveness of their cheery winter cup. (I'm now bracing myself for the comments to come...)

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Well, we've had quite a Christmasy weekend. I've had the house decorated for a week or so now, but Saturday we went to get our tree and it was really fun because the kids actually knew what was going on. It was great watching their little faces in awe as the guy cut some off the bottom of our huge douglas fir and then netted it up and tied it to the top of our car. It feels so good to have a real tree again. Mark grew up with an artificial and thought that was the way we'd go in our own home. And those who know us know Mark is definitely the one who runs the show around here. But a real Christmas tree was not something I was willing to give on! It's in my blood. For over 70 years Christmas trees were our family business in Massachusetts, but this year is the first year it no longer exists. The business shut down last year and it's pretty sad to see it gone. But I digress. Anyway, last year was the only year we had a fake tree and that was because we lived in an apartment complex that didn't allow real trees. I'm so happy to have our huge real tree smelling all amazing in our living room.

After picking up our tree Mark and I set off on our afternoon adventure of putting up lights outside the house. We felt like the Griswolds. Mark was up on a ladder with staple gun in hand and I was fooling around with the extension cords and outlets trying to get everything to fit in somewhere and work. With all the icicle lights, the potted trees on our entry way, lights wrapped around bushes and a wreath in every window, it took us all afternoon. We had fun though--it's yet another memory of our first home.

Today I spent literally the entire day baking cookies. I haven't even chipped the iceberg yet--I am trying a bunch of new kinds this year, so I plan to bake a couple more days this week too. I've been stocking butter, flour, and sugar for two months now, so I'm extremely prepared. And I'm making double batches of our favorites, now that I have my new freezer in the garage. I've really missed cooking ahead with no extra freezer for the past couple of years.

When Mark got home from ball practice tonight we decorated the tree. It was pretty funny because the kids put every ornament I handed them in the same exact spot. There was a whole front bottom section of the tree laden down with ornaments and the rest of the tree was empty. Of course, my obsessive compulsive self had that fixed as soon as they went to bed, but it was fun watching them do it.

I was thinking back to last year's Christmas Movie Extravaganza (is that what we called it, Abby?) wishing I could do it again this year. But since we still don't really have a circle of friends to entertain yet, I'll have my own. I told Mark that the one good thing about him having late practices every night and me being home alone all the time is that I can watch Christmas movies any night I want to. And since we have Directv back, it's not hard to find one. Lydie and I have plans to go see The Holiday for a girls night out, so that will keep me in my tradition of seeing whatever Christmas movie is out every year.

So the holiday happenings are keeping us busy around here. Hope everyone else is having fun!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanksgiving Trip to Boston

Me and the kids goofing off with Christmas decorations.

The kids chased this rooster all over the tree farm we visited--it was hilarious!

Grammie took us to a Christmas shop for donuts and coffee.

Uncle Tommy and Jake sacked out watching a movie.

Auntie Treen and Rory--she's the spitting image of Trina as a little kid!

Grammie and the kids smelling the amazing New England Christmas trees.