Sunday, December 10, 2017


Continuing our "see everyone's houses decorated for Christmas" adventure, today we went to my sister Jill's house for dinner and then to my brother Jim's house for dessert.

Sundays are always just really busy on the weeks when we go to family. We go to church and then directly to dinner with the family, and then the kids and i head back to church for Fifty6/the.element/Anthem. And by the time we get home, it's 8:30 and everyone is starving because lunch was hours ago, and then they have to get to bed before long because there's school tomorrow. And i love our church and i love our family and i even really love the girls in my group at the.element, but i don't necessarily love Sundays sometimes. They're fun sometimes, but they're not exactly "restful."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The 8th and 9th

Last night we camped out under the Christmas tree, which, now that the kids are older, mostly means that we watch Christmas movies until late into the night, until they're tired enough that they go to their beds to sleep. All except for Zane, who actually DID fall asleep on the floor and slept there all night.

This night is one of our family's favorite traditions, and I usually try to introduce at least one movie that the kids haven't seen on this night. So last night we watched The Polar Express, Frosty the Snowman, and The Grinch (the original), which they've all seen many times before. And then we watched Love Actually - Because i love this movie and really wanted to watch it with the kids, I edited out the two really inappropriate story lines completely and the bedroom scene in one of the other story lines, and the end result was a ... mostly age-appropriately appropriate movie - and Snow Globe Christmas (an absolutely ridiculous Hallmark-channel-type movie). Zane fell asleep during Love Actually. Houston went to bed half an hour into Snow Globe Christmas, and i fell asleep within 20 minutes of his leaving. Juanito and Katrina both made it to the end, though.

Tonight we went to a live nativity at a church we've never been to, and it was fun. They did the whole "walk through Bethlehem and buy something with this coin we give you," and then we went outside to have a guided tour through the Christmas story from Isaiah through to the cross. It was really cold, but otherwise was well done and sometimes amusing, and we all enjoyed it.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

8th grade band concert

Today was the 8th grade band concert (with 4 6th graders - including Zane - thrown in because they needed more trombones). They're a pretty small band, but they were so good. They were especially good considering where they were a year and a half ago, before they got their new band director. (And also considering that there were at least 2 members of the band completely not playing. The trumpeter sitting on the end was barely even faking it - he'd kind of halfheartedly hold the trumpet up near his mouth and then kind of randomly push valves. It was most amusing to watch.) Katrina practices diligently, and she just loves playing the flute. And she loved it even when she had the terrible director, but she loves it So! Much! More! now.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas concert and also ornaments

Tonight was the 6th and 7th grade band concert. And it was ... i mean, it was 6th and 7th graders, so it wasn't awesome, but Zane was totally happy to be playing, and it was fun to get to see his band play. My mom and Beth both came to see him too, which was super nice and made him feel all special.

So that was mostly our advent activity tonight. "Mostly," because i also told them that there's a pickle hiding on the tree (per German tradition, which the kids always love when we go see the trees at Meijer Gardens), so they got to find that too. I've been sort of planning to make a pickle ornament for a few years now, and i finally did it this year.

And while i'm posting pictures of ornaments, here are just a few of our many, many, mostly homemade ornaments that i love.

The wreath with the cardinal belonged to my Grandma (my dad's mom). The red star hung on our tree when i was growing up, and the weird green yarn guy is an ornament my mom made for us when we were little - it used to pull apart and get a roll of Lifesavers for a body, i think. The sloth, owl, and Dumbledore were made by Beth. The sheep comes from Scotland. The carousel spins and makes me happy. (It was from my parents.)

I think that one of the things i love about our Christmas trees is that i can tell you where every ornament came from and the story behind it. We don't have any room for basic store-bought Christmas balls or whatever, and i am not sad about that at all.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent, the first post

It's December, which means that here in our house, we're fully embracing the Christmas season.

We went to my aunt and uncle's house for Thanksgiving, along with 3 of my siblings and their families and my parents and my cousins. It was a full house, and it was totally fun. And then, as per tradition, we went to get our Christmas tree the next day. Yay! We've always gotten the tree and set it up and decorated on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. A few years ago, we ordered a pizza and got it delivered, and the next year, the kids were all, "Are we going to get a pizza again? Brought to us in a car?!"  And with that, a new tradition of getting pizza delivered while we're decorating was begun.

We had to do all of the decorating quickly this year, because on Sunday, my entire family came to our house for dinner, and then we went to my sister Jackie's house for dessert. Next week we'll go to another sister's and my brother's houses, and then on Christmas Eve we'll celebrate at my parents' house. So by then we'll have seen all of the houses nearby.

And then December hit, which means that we got to start the Advent Calendars! Yay! I love Advent Calendars. This year we have, um...four. Two of them i made - one has an activity to do every day, and this year the other one has random facts about Christmas history and Christmas around the world. We got a Lego Advent Calendar this year (so fun!), and we have one that's online, where you open one new thing every day, and you can design snowflakes and decorate trees and do all kinds of other fun stuff. And this way the kids and i all get to open something every day.

Today's the fifth. So on the first, we started all of the calendars. On the second, we went to a craft fair. On the third, we (Katrina and i, because the boys both wanted to take naps) went to an open house at the Ford Museum, where there were trees that groups had decorated and beautiful Christmas quilts that people had made and cookies and carolers.

Yesterday we started doing Secret Santa. And today, Sinterklaas Day, the kids all put out their shoes for Sinterklaas. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017


So hey! I just got glasses for the first time in my life. They're not a strong prescription: -.75 in one eye and -1.00 in the other (Wait. IS that a strong prescription? I know exactly nothing about glasses, and the people at "America's Best Eyeglasses" were friendly but not overly communicative about anything.). Basically, i'm getting old, and my far-away vision is starting to get a little bit blurry, so it's harder to read small print across the room. So! Glasses!

Y'know what nobody ever told me about glasses? They completely suck. At least so far they do. I mean, i guess they work, but i have spent the day completely nauseated and dizzy and feeling like the floor is in entirely the wrong place. Also, they make far away things all clear, but they make close up things really blurry, which is awesome for my job, where i am going back and forth between far away and close all the time. (I could get bifocals, but i feel like that would be even WORSE, dizzy-wise.)

ANYHOW. I'm sure that i'll get used to them in a few days and they'll be awesome. But right now? Bleh.

Besides getting new glasses (Yay!), i've just been working on making Christmas presents and getting the house a little bit ready for the switch-over to Christmas decorations.

Well, that and also i've been spending most nights this week forcing Zane to focus on doing all of the math homework that he "didn't have" and therefore didn't do. So that's been fun. But he's finished now, and there is much rejoicing. Woo!!!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

In which i am dumb.

I just did something that i never, ever thought i'd be stupid enough to do.

But let me back up.

So tonight the kids asked (as they do almost every night), "Can we have ice cream?" and i said, "Sure." And so Katrina and Zane ran to the kitchen and got cups of ice cream mixed with milk and came back to the front room, and we started reading "Fahrenheit 451," and then i sent them to bed. And a little while later, i thought, "I would like some ice cream too!

And so i went into the kitchen and grabbed a bowl and got out the ice cream and looked around for the scooper, but it was nowhere to be found. I eventually found it in the ice cream bucket, where one of the kids had finished getting their ice cream, put the metal scooper into the bucket, put the lid on, and thrown the whole thing back into the freezer.

I rolled my eyes and went to tell Juanito that our kids! They are sometimes not the smartest! And then i went back to the kitchen, pried the freezing cold metal scooper out of the bucket, and went to run it under hot water.

But there was some ice cream stuck to it. And it seemed like a waste to just wash all of that perfectly good ice cream down the sink. So i started to lick it off.....

And, as anyone who has ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story" knows, when you touch your tongue to metal, it sticks. Luckily, i only touched the very tip of my tongue to the metal and pulled it off instantly, but now the tip of my tongue is all raw feeling. Sigh. I am dumb.