Monthly Archives: December 2006

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christmas at home

christmas was really fun this year. after our trip home from Ohio on Christmas eve, we got the kids in their pj’s, put out some cookies and milk for Santa (and carrots for all the reindeer), and Daddy took the kids online to Norad to track Santa. We saw him fly through Paris at the Eiffel Tower and at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Then off to bed to wait for Santa to leave presents under the tree. :)

It was so much fun watching the kids open their gifts in the morning. They opened some “Zach and Chloe” gifts first – some games and things Santa got for both of them to play with. Then it was on to their own gifts. Zach flipped out over one of the first gifts he opened and the rest were nothing compared to it — his Lego Star Wars Jabba’s Sail Barge. So cool. We (I mean Santa) ordered it a month ago because we knew all the Star Wars Lego stuff would be totally wiped out once Christmas arrived. We were so right. The shelves were bare last week when we went looking for some little stocking stuffers. So glad we thought ahead this year. His other big gift was a Nintendo DS. We got a good deal on it because it belonged to Jake’s mom, but she rarely used it and asked if we wanted to buy it from her. He loves it already. And all his cousins got Gameboys so they can all sit around together playing their video games. haha! Chloe squeeled with delight at her gifts. It was hilarious hearing her. She was so excited. Her big gift was a Polly Pocket Cruise Ship and a little pink acoustic guitar, not a toy … a real one just like mommy’s. She looks so cute playing it. She also got Bella Dancerella Swan Lake and I love watching her try to do the dances. So adorable. She puts on her little tutu and sings along with Bella. Love that she’s so girly. It’s so sweet.

After the gift opening, the kids played for a while and we lounged around and took our time getting ready, which was so very nice. We spent the afternoon and evening at my parents house and had our Christmas with them. My mom went crazy with gifts for the kids. They got so much great stuff and loved every minute of it.

It was a really great night. My big gift from my mom was an Epson Perfection V100 scanner. I’ve been wanting a new scanner for a long time, one that has the capability of scanning old film negatives. I was so excited to try out this feature. I pulled out some old negatives from youth group and scanned them. It was so fun. Check out the awesome 80’s hair. These were taken in fall of 1990. :) Some of my best friends. Check out my rolled pants in the last picture (me sitting on the couch).



I’m gonna have fun with this thing! My mom was really excited, too, because she has a whole box full of old negatives that she got when my grandma died that will be so cool to go through and scan.

So … in keeping with the emotions of the whole Christmas weekend in Ohio, my mom had an announcement to make. Through tears, she told us that she was concerned for all of us and our health since every member of our family has put on weight over the last few years. So she has decided to put on a “Biggest Loser” contest for our family with cash prizes for first and second place. A nice incentive to help us all get the weight off. And one of the stipulations is that we do some form of exercise every day. So beginning on January 1st, we will have our weigh in and get on the road to better health. It’s kind of exciting. The money will just be an extra bonus for the person who loses the most weight. :)

Jake and I got to spend the day together yesterday with no kids. His sister took all the nieces and nephews for the day and they played while we went and spent our Best Buy gift cards. :) We had lunch together, browsed the book store, bought some movies and had some coffee. Then I took a nap until my mom came to pick me up and take me to see “The Nativity Story”. Really good movie. So awesome to think of this young girl carrying the Son of God. I absolutely loved the actor who portrayed Joseph. He did such an awesome job of showing the emotion that Joseph might have felt to find his wife pregnant, to take on the role of father to Jesus, to be looked at differently because of it by people he thought were his friends, to feel so frightened and unsure that he would be able to teach his “son” anything. I loved it.

Tonight and tomorrow are our last family Christmases. It’s hard to believe we’re only a couple days away from the new year. Crazy. This year has flown by. More later ….

our ohio christmas


christmas lights • 12.23.06

This Christmas was filled with a lot of emotions. Some happy, some sad. On Saturday morning, we traveled to Ohio, where all of the family gathers for Christmas. My grandparents (on dad’s side) live there and all of my mom’s family have lived there for their entire lives.

The trip down was a bit frustrating actually. We left around 8 for a four hour drive to get there in time for a noon lunch. Well, that didn’t happen. The kids kept saying they had to go to the bathroom so we ended up stopping twice after already leaving late. We finally got there just as everyone was starting to eat. We made it. And it was a lot of fun. We caught up a little and reminisced a little about the grandparents (both have been gone since the 80’s) and the crazy skits we would put on when we were kids. One year we played out the story of Jesus’ birth – I think I was Mary and my cousin, Traci, was Joseph. Another year, we lined up chairs in the living room and put on our own lip-synced version of “We Are the World”. We were crazy kids.

It was so much fun watching our kids play together like we did when we were their age. So full of joy. The girls were especially cute. Poor Zach. He’s the only boy so far. Here’s Chloe running with Emerson and smiling with Kyleigh and one of Bill spinning some of the girls. They loved that.

Before heading over to my grandparents house to spend the night, we drove over to one of the local parks to see the Christmas lights. Every year, they make awesome displays all along the drive that wraps around the edge of the park and the little pond in the middle. We went for the first time last year and loved it. So we had to check it out again. It was awesome! Except for the lack of snow. Just didn’t feel like Christmas without the snow.

(the picture at the top of this post is from the park, too)

On Christmas eve day, we had Christmas at my grandparents’ house. The family all arrived for a delicious meal around noon. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn … lotsa carbs. yum. then my grandpa, who used to be a pastor, directed a little message at us grandkids, encouraging us to have faith in our lives and have a relationship with God and enjoy the journey.

After the message, he said he wanted to play us an audio tape of my Grandma singing because some of the younger cousins (my youngest cousin is 11) may not remember how much she used to sing. My grandma, who is in her 70’s, has been on a very steady decline in her health for about 10 years. Especially in the last few years, she has lost the ability to take care of herself, lost a ton of weight, become very feeble, doesn’t speak any more. When it first began, we thought it was the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, but I think the Dr’s said it is dementia. She would forget things that just happened, but remember things from long ago. Only a couple years ago, she was still talking and walking around slowly by herself. Now she only sits in her wheelchair. We talk sometimes about how she would play the piano and sing or get out her accordion and sing us a song. She loved music so much and it was always a part of our visits with them. So, when the audio tape began and we all heard grandma singing one of her very favorite songs in church, many of us began to cry. Even my grandpa and my dad. This is a family of very strong men, who rarely show this kind of emotion. A family of all boys. Tough, hard working, in control. To see them break down was hard. I think they all realize that Grandma may not be around much longer. I stood to the side of the room since I had been taking some pictures, tears stained my cheeks and I watched my grandma as the song played. Her lips were moving to the words. She is still in there. Somewhere in the deep parts of her brain, grandma is still there. And she cried, too.

So when the song ended and the tears were dried, we let all the younger kids open their gifts and the room was full of smiles and laughter again. We hung around for a while after that. All us girls played a crazy card game called Nutsy. I totally lost and I was getting so frustrated. Everyone was getting at least 10 points at the end when you tally up your cards and I kept getting in the negatives. By the end, people had scores of like 170 and I was -33. I couldn’t figure out why they were all doing so well. I was so mad. The game is similar to solitaire in that you each play a game of solitaire but all the aces go in the middle and you watch the middle the whole time to see if you can play on any of the piles. Lots of stuff is going on all at once and you also have this little pile of 10 cards that you need to get rid of first or you get -2 points for every card you have left in that pile. Well, I could not seem to get rid of those cards, which is what was causing me to be in then negatives. My mom watched me play the final hand and she saw me lay one of my cards in the middle on an ace and said, “You only have 4 in front of you. You’re supposed to have 5 at all times.” My mouth dropped and I was like, “Are you kidding me?” The whole time, I was playing as if it was solitaire. If you move one of your piles, you usually have to wait until you have a king to fill in that space. I didn’t know you could take from your pile of 10 to fill the empty space. Nobody explained that to me when we started. Most of them had played before. I was the newbie. So, at 4th of July, I’m totally gonna kick all their butts. haha!

I will tell some more about our Christmas here at home and at my mom’s later and share some pictures from that. :)

Hope everyone had a great Christmas.

to all my blog friends

Merry Christmas

Hold those you love close
Laugh and have fun with family and friends
Enjoy the food and start your diet on january 1st
Be safe in your travels
Spread Christmas cheer
and don’t forget the real reason for this season
the birth of JESUS CHRIST

Merry Christmas, everyone!

i love

Last week was Zach’s gym night at school. They’ve been working on gymnastics and they always have a night where the parents can come and see all the things they’re learning. It’s fun to watch.

And I love that he goes to the same school I went to and has the same gym teacher I had when I was a kid. I love that the gym he plays in used to be my middle school gym before they renovated and changed it to an elementary. I love sitting in the bleachers watching him run around on the same floor I used to run around on. …

I remember walking on the balance beams and tumbling and wishing I was Nadia Comaneci. :) It’s cool to see him go through the same things I went through and have some of the same teachers still there today. His gym teacher is awesome and he was one of my favorites when I was in elementary school. And how he remembers the kids names so well is beyond me. He even remembered me when I saw him last year when Zach started kindergarten and remembered that my brother’s name is Tim. It amazes me that he remembers us, his students from 25 years ago. Wow … that’s weird to say … am I old or what? :D

by the way, I cracked up when I saw the pic of Zach jumping in the air with his arms spread and in the background on the wall is Tweety Bird with arms spread, too. :)

this is fun!

more random photos
these were actually taken in 2004
when I first started shooting
with a digital SLR (Canon Digital Rebel):

It’s so fun to see these and remember how little the kids were.

I love this picture of Chloe with her chocolate face. I have it in black and white in a collage frame in my living room. The funny look on her face makes me smile every time I see it.

Zach with Big Dog, that I mentioned recently.

This is so cute. I was so happy when I found this. I love how they are looking at each other.

another favorite that I had printed. Chloe peeking out our front window.

random pics

looking through pictures from the past year
so many that I want to print and play with
here are a few random ones

an unexpected loss

My heart is sad today. Yesterday, we heard that the daughter of the owner of State Grounds, our favorite coffee shop here in town, passed away. She was only 22. So young. My sweet friends, Lindsey and Kevin, whose wedding I photographed in October, are close with the family and it’s a very sad time for everyone right now. I sat and looked through their pictures yesterday and came across a few of Laura. What a beautiful young girl. I didn’t personally know her, only from the wedding, but Jake saw her often down at the coffee shop and talked to her sometimes. I’m sad.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Dickinsons and Gerlingers and everyone else who knew and loved Laura.

one more week … yikes!

did the title of my post freak anyone out? LOL. :D

Jake and the kids made this for me last week. :) It’s so cute. They cut out all the shapes and pieced them together to make me this sweet little snowman.

Zach was so proud of all the parts he cut out and had to tell me each and every one he was responsible for. They even made the broom have fringe. I love it.

The party last weekend (Jake’s mom’s side of the familly) went really well and there was a nice turnout. The kids especially loved the indoor pool and spent most of the day in there. Here are some random kid pics from the day:

Had a fun girls day yesterday. Lunch with my friend Kelle, who is visiting this weekend from Louisville, and her sis-in-law, Rhonda. Then Kell and I did a little Christmas shopping and headed out to a movie, The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black). I loved it. Funny and touching and a happy ending. Kate was so sincere and charming in her first romantic comedy role (she’s been a favorite of mine for a long time – even before Titanic – and I love that she chose this one), Cameron was her usual beautiful and quirky self, Jude was H-O-T but also really sweet in this part, and Jack Black was so funny, even playing down his normally crazy and comedic self. All around, a great movie with some moments that brought tears to my eyes.

Still need to find a dentist for Zach. The woman we hoped to take him to doesn’t take our insurance. Bummer. So, we have to find someone and soon. I just want to get this taken care of so the infection doesn’t come back and get worse. :(

Can’t believe it’s only a week until Christmas. The kids are getting really excited. I am, too. Excited to see their sweet little faces when they open their gifts. Jake and I pretty much already got each other things so we aren’t really exchanging presents this year. My mom and I put money in and got him a new Sony Handycam so he got that as an early gift and will use it to video all the family Christmas parties.

Took the kids to see Santa on Thursday night. They loved it. Chloe even sat on Santa’s lap and leaned back against him, which she’s never done. I’ve always had to sit up there with them. They did great this year. Zach even had a conversation with him about Star Wars Legos that he wants … which he’s getting, by the way! He’ll be so excited.

what’s up wednesday

Zach update: Jake took him to the dentist on Tuesday, where they were told that the tooth would have to be taken out. Zach wasn’t too sure about that and was scared so the dentist said we should talk to him about it and make a decision. He did say that it needs to be taken care of as soon as possible, though. So we are looking into finding a child friendly dentist for Zach. We think he needs someone who specializes in helping kids rather than a general family dentist. And the only way our dentist will see him again is if we pay money as a deposit that we will get back if Zach goes through with the appointment and if not then we forfeit the deposit. I understand time is money and for every appointment Zach chickens out, the dentist loses money. I just want to find someone that he will be comfortable with. We think we’ve found someone. She is out of GR and we learned that this is the same dentist Jake’s friend he used to work with takes her kids to and I guess she’s really great with kids and that’s exactly what we need! So I’m praying this works out and the appointment is a positive experience for him. I want him to grow up knowing that the dentist is there to help keep his mouth healthy and not feel sick every time he has to go like I always did when I was young. I want us to be good parents and make good decisions for our kids. It’s hard being a parent. I always feel like I’m failing.

OK … enough of that.

As promised, here are some pictures of our Christmas card. The before:

and after:

I designed the front of my card using Photoshop and some digital scrapbook kits (wish I would have written down which ones I used, but I can’t remember any except the flourish at the bottom of the card was from the DDE Doodle Collection from last year I think). Then I ordered 5×5 prints, cut a square piece of cardstock slightly larger than that, printed out my letter on regular white paper, trimmed that to 5″ high, attached it to the back of my picture and to the square of cardstock (made sure to fold it and line everything up so it was centered on the cardstock first), added a punched circle as a tab to open the card and a strip of patterned paper inside since the letter was only 8.5 wide and I needed to fill the extra space. :) It was a bit of a process, but I’m glad I handmade them this year. It was a fun project! :) Wish I could have sent one out to every one of you. I love sending and receiving letters and cards. Email is great, but there’s just something about getting mail the old fashioned way that makes me happy. :)

Christmas shopping is nearly done … a few more family exchange gifts to buy and I think we’re done. Woohoooo! Did a bunch of shopping for the kids on Tuesday and it was awesome to get that out of the way.

a long week

I’m so glad this week has finally come to an end. It has been really long with one little thing after another making me increasingly frustrated and emotional.

The postage thing really bothered me, but everyone has been really understanding about that and I’m thankful for all my great family and friends. You guys are all awesome. Thanks for making me feel better about that whole thing. And actually, some people have said that their card wasn’t stamped for the extra postage, so thanks to the postal workers who were nice and in the holiday spirit and let this one slide. :)

Saturday, we were supposed to go to Jake’s mom’s for a family get together at 1 pm. We ended up at our Dr’s office at that time (luckily, he was in for the day doing paperwork and agreed to see us) because Zach’s right cheek was all swollen up. We noticed one of his molars looks like it has a cavity and it has infected his gums and cheek all around that. Dr. gave us some antibiotics to deal with the infection and we have to get Zach in to the dentist as soon as we can to get this taken care of. Please pray that it won’t be a terrible experience for Zach. I had some bad times at the dentist when I was young and it pretty much made me terrified of the dentist for most of my life. I don’t want Zach to have that fear, too. Our new dentist is really nice and pretty gentle so I’m praying Zach will be OK.

We did make it to the family party about an hour late. I was glad the swollen cheek didn’t keep Zach from swimming in the pool and having fun. The kids had a blast! And Mom also asked me to take pictures throughout the day because it’s been a long time since all of that side of the family got together. It was something special for her and I really wanted to be able to take pictures. So I’m glad we made it.

anyway … this has just been one of those weeks … I just haven’t been feeling like myself lately and all these little things, which are in reality so trivial, seem to stack up and feel overwhelming. With Christmas only a couple weeks away and not many of the gifts bought, it’s feeling a little more stressful than I’d like it to. I’m trying to take it one day at a time.

Like one of my favorite quotes from Anne of Green Gables … “Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it.” :)

Oh by the way, this picture is Chloe’s “doll face”. This is what she says all her doll’s faces look like. :)

next post … our christmas card :)

AJAXed with AWP