Friday, January 18, 2019

St Nicholas and Santa Claus

The biggest challenge having the girls in school (and sports) is trying to squeeze in our family traditions that fall on week nights, like this one.  We had to do our stocking on St. Nicholas Day in between school and the first basketball game of the season.

Judah got this in his stocking and he's been reading me the knock knock jokes.  So cute to see this face behind a joke book over the counter while I cook.
We don't do Santa gifts since we do St. Nicholas Day gifts and it keeps the focus on Christmas Day a little closer on Jesus' birth.  However, we do recognize that the idea and legend of Santa came from St. Nicholas.  In our neighborhood, we have a man that sets up an area to greet children as Santa each year.  He's growing that beard year round.  The girls scoffed at the idea, but all the boys were game for going to take a picture with him.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A New Cousin is Born

My sister, who lives only five minute from us, had a baby girl on December 2nd.  Her name is Savanna Reese and she weighed only 7 lbs 1 oz.  She's so tiny!  Even now, as I write this over a month later she is not as heavy as even one of my boys.  My nephew was a proud big brother.  He asked the nurse, "How did you make her?!"  It was pretty adorable.

Our family dinner was interrupted by this little dumpling and we had to wait what seemed like forever to hold her!  By the time I got my hands on her I was dying to hold this sweet thing.  

My Happy Place

Genevieve and Isaac feel the same as I do!  They ask to hold her all the time!

Mimi got a little "smile."
Such a blessing!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Christmas Market in Texas?

In New Braunfels, not too far from us there was a German Christmas Market.  They had a few food items that were tested and found to be fairly authentic by our family.  It was a fun little family adventure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tree of Death: Nickname for Christmas Tree of 2018

Our trees have naturally had nicknames since the first year we Christmas'd in Germany in 2015.  That year, we barely moved in and received our household goods by Christmas and we just bought a tree on post from the Boy Scouts.  It was purchased late in the season, when the pickin's were slim and was a pitiful excuse for a tree so we called it the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.

In 2016, we found a place to chop down our own tree like we had been accustomed to in Maryland.  Hannah was in a "mood" and wanted to get a huge tree.  Since we had really high ceilings, we agreed to find a big one this year.  It was about 20 feet long, just a tad longer than our van and touched the ceiling.  We dubbed it the Griswald Family Christmas Tree.

In 2017, we were very late in the season again because of all our trips.  We went to the closest place that you could cut your own tree and it was hard to find a good one.  We ended up with a super spiky one that we actually had to use gloves to put on the ornaments.  That tree was Spike.

This year, being in Texas, I wasn't even sure if you could cut your own tree, but Brian found two places.  We were pretty late in the season again which may have caused some of the problems, but the real issue was the fact that the type of trees were just not right.  These trees had fewer branches, and were not even close to the Christmas tree triangular shape.  Plus, they were tiny...

Genevieve, who'd been just itching to get our tree like we always do, jumped out of the van and took off running through the trees to find the perfect one.  She was already sad that Isaac wasn't going to be able to play their annual game of hide and seek and tag in the trees because he was recovering from his surgery and could barely walk.  She pretty quickly came running back to her daddy  in tears because the trees were so terrible.  

We ended up settling on one, but while looking around, Brian showed the kids a bug that he warned them was very dangerous, called an Assassin Bug.  It can kill you.  He had told me about this bug previously in a dinner conversation whereupon I told him to stop frightening everyone with his crazy death bug stories.  

It's even hard to distinguish our tree from the dead things in the background, right?  You have to really look for it here.

Nanna had come down to spend the day with us and accompanied us for this tradition.

We were a little amused by this point at the stark contrast between our Griswald family tree that Brian and I had to lug up three stories of stairs huffing and puffing and this one that he cut down in less than a few seconds and he could press it with one hand and not break a sweat.
 On the drive home it whistled all the way home (the air going through the tree played a melody) and so we considered the nickname "Whistling Tree."
We also got a kick out of how tiny it looked on top of our van.  See this post for the Griswald tree on our van.
 They shook the tree, we drove home with it on the roof for 45 minutes, and well into decorating it that night with our traditional cups of hot cocoa in hand, Genna spotted an Assassin bug on the tree.  I mean really!  After all that it was still hanging on tight.  Brian killed it, Hannah refused to continue to hang ornaments, and I was worrying that it was infested with the killer bugs.  We checked it over multiple times with a flash light and Brian was pretty sure it was all clear.

The next morning while doing some school work in front of the tree, Isaac and Bobby were standing in front of it talking about the ornaments.  Bob said the tree poked him, and Isaac told him to step back a step.  Then Bobby began screaming.  He indicated some how that his neck was the problem and so I am frantically looking on his neck, totally convinced their is an Assassin bug biting him on the neck, when I see a big bug crawling out from between his two shirts on the collar.  At first all I could see were legs and antennae and I start trying to flick it off of him.  He's completely panicked now and then I feel the sting as well.  Suddenly I see the culprit in his hair now.  It's a wasp.  I hit it to the floor and step on it.  I let it lie there for a while because I just wanted proof it wasn't an Assassin bug.  I called Brian and he looks more info up about the Assassin bugs and realizes the ones we saw were relatives of the bug that gives you Chagras.  Phew, that made me feel better, but I still have nicknamed this tree the "Tree of Death" because Wow! 

We only were able to fit half our ornaments on the tree and that was with putting three or four ornaments on each branch sturdy enough to hold them.  We may have to take a hiatus from cutting our own tree next year (although Brian is adamantly against a fake tree.)  I heard a story that a friend of a friend in Texas cut their own tree only to find it was infested with cockroaches after they got it home.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Our "New" (Rental) Home for a While

I finally took some pictures of the house now that we have all our stuff situated after our last storage shipment arrived a month ago.  I didn't get picture of the bedrooms though because they always look sloppy.  The master bedroom is just not even set up yet, because it is so big and we've been putting our Christmas stuff in there because it was coming just so quickly and it seemed silly to haul it up to the attic just to pull it back down in less than a month from then.

Dining Room and Bar Area
Another View and Time of Day for the Dining Room
We don't let the kids play in the dining room/area.  It has our nice furniture from Europe in it, it's right off the front door, and it has carpet.  But we do eat in there every night since we are too big for our corner kitchen table.  The worst part of this house is that the dining room is not next to the kitchen.  Who designed this?  Not someone who actually planned to use their dining room.

Living Room
I love the living room as it turns out.  It is plenty big for the kids to wrestle and play, but we have been able to keep toys out of it for the most part.

Entryway and Piano Space

 I love the openness of the kitchen, since I spend so much time in it.  Although there is something to be said for being able to shut the kitchen door and block out the noise, I prefer the open kitchen with the big island.  I love when the kids can sit and work on something while chatting with me as I cook.

Kitchen Looking into the Big Pantry/Laundry Room

Our School Room/Library (Downstairs, off the Living Room)
 The school room is small, but we really use it, and we make it work.  I love that there's a bathroom right off of it, the piano is close by for our Latin song practice, and the living room and kitchen are just a hop away.

Game Room, Upstairs

Dart Board, Foosball Table, Lego Tables
 All our toys are in either the game room or the school room with the exception of our dress up chest and our weapons chest (I like to call it the armory).  So the boys' bedrooms are freed up to have only beds and bookshelves.  For the most part I even fit their dressers into the closets.

The girls' room has their beds, a bookshelf, and their desks.  They have a huge closet and so their dressers and clothes all fit very easily in their closet.

The girls' have two doors to their room, and this is one of them.  Both come off of the game room.  This couch is used for story time for the little guys at bedtime.  I put our Jesse Tree up there and set up a 1000 piece puzzle for during Advent on one of the extra Lego tables.

That's all for now!

"Mom Stuff"

We cut out early on school one morning, the week before Christmas, to do last minute shopping.  I was looking at something in a department store, and we were near the underwear section.  Bob says, "That's a mom."  And I turned to see who he was talking about.  It was a manikin with just a bra and underwear on.

I asked him, "How do you know that's a mom?"

"She has mom stuff."

His brothers and I shared a good laugh over that reasoning and the term.  Oh, the mind of a three year old boy!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Who needs toys? Really!

Our toys get so little use until I try to get rid of them.  I am always caught and then the toys are their favorites.  I pulled out the Little People and bagged them up to send to my mom's because her toys were mostly ruined by a leak from the attic.  Sure enough, even Drew was playing with them the whole day when the bag was discovered.

No really, most days, it's playing with cardboard boxes, balloons, or some other crafty thing they discover.  Most recently, Isaac read about how to make your own window clings with nothing but puff paint and wax paper.  We happened to have both and I let him go to town.  Several days later and all the boys (sans Bobby) were making clings for the sliding glass door.  This took up so much of their time and helped to use up an old craft supply.  It wasn't too messy and I didn't run this craft at all.  So win-win for me!

You have to really look to be able to see them in the photo.  

I was trying to figure out how I could get everyone to just buy the kids craft supplies or books and not get us anymore toys for Christmas!