Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Traditions

Change is hard, but change is inevitable. Change is good! Trying to keep traditions from childhood alive, but also creating new traditions for new, young families can be challenging.

This year, Joe and I discussed how we would like to create traditions for our children, especially around the holidays. One thing that we threw around was that we will try to have our children wake up at our house on Christmas morning, if possible, so that they can open their presents and stockings by our Christmas tree. We did that this year for the first time, and it was really special to watch Ella and her excitement (about getting an umbrella, but whatever.) Nathan slept in and missed the fun, but he wont remember it anyways! On Christmas Eve, we all went to our church, Community United Methodist Church, for the "family service" which was intended for families with children. We decided to have Ella sit with us during the service rather than go to the nursery with Nathan. I guess I had this vision of all of us sitting together as a family, listening to the story about Jesus's birth, and then singing "Silent Night" by candlelight. Well, Ella usually goes to Sunday School during the service, so she is not used to sitting quietly for an hour. And quite frankly, a 3 year old doesn't have the development to do so. So, needless to say, it was a bit stressful, and not at all the vision that I had created in my head. Maybe she'll do better next year. Going to our church on Christmas Eve is also a tradition we would like to try and continue, if it works out that way.

After opening presents and having breakfast together, we piled into the van and drove to Stevens Point to spend a few days at Joe's parent's house. Joe's siblings and their families were there as well, so all of the cousins were together and had a blast! I got to spend some time with my 10 month old nephew, Harry, who we don't see nearly enough! He and Nathan play along side each other quite well. We received many nice gifts and Ella got a Big Wheel! Ella is still at Joe's parent's until tomorrow, when she will come back with her Aunt Liz and her cousins, Dylan and Henry. We got a much appreciated gas card and I got a beautiful new blanket and glass serving dish.

Next year will be different and new for us as well, since my parents will hopefully be living in Wisconsin at that point! Their house is on the market in Michigan and they've had several showings and a few offers, but nothing has come through as of yet. Next Christmas Day will be spent with my parents, but since they will be in the area, we wont have to travel, which will be nice. No more 7 hour car-rides! So maybe we'll go over to their new house, or they'll come over to ours. Maybe we can spend Christmas Eve with Joe's parents, so we can see both sets of parents over Christmas next year. New traditions and old traditions coming together, making the holidays exciting and special. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What We've Been Up To

It's been a while since I've updated the blog, so I thought it was about time. If I waited any longer, I'd have to include Christmas, and that will probably be a whole post in and of itself! But, here it goes! This post will mostly consist of pictures with explanations. I'll begin with two weekends ago

Joe's parents were in town on Saturday and we all went to see a concert given by The Midwest Vocal Express, an all men's choir. They sang all holiday songs and sounded amazing. The night, Joe and I drove to Madison to celebrate our friend Scott's 30th birthday. I got to catch up with his wife, my friend, Jenn, and got to cuddle with their daughter, Talia. Don't you just want to pinch those cheeks?


We took the kids to a Newcomer's Kidsclub Christmas Party where Ella enjoyed decorating cookies and Nathan enjoyed sitting on Santa's lap.


My parents arrived on Thursday to celebrate Christmas early, since we will be with Joe's parents this year. My mom gave us our stockings, which is always the highlight for me! We got gift cards for Kohl's and Target, which I am excited to use. I got a nice sweater and Joe got a shirt, and of course, we have our beautiful new stove sitting in our kitchen! Ella got a cash register, some books, and some adorable PJs (although she could've cared less about the PJs). She also got a cute outfit, which again, she was not thrilled about. I, on the other hand, am always thrilled to get clothes for the kids! Nathan also got some clothes and some books, a generous contribution to his college fund, and a really neat toy consisting of gears, lights, and music. We made cut-out cookies and decorated them...Ella made the best creation I think, don't you?

We made a delicious Christmas dinner and enjoyed sitting at our dining room table, eating off of my Grandma's Christmas china an using her silverware. It was a wonderful Christmas celebration.

Guess who's sick again? Nathan. I had to take him to the doctor yesterday morning since he had been coughing for a few days, spiked a fever, and had started wheezing. When we got there, his oxygen saturation (how much O2 is in his blood) was on 93%, which isn't horrible, but still a little low. His respiratory rate was double what it should be and his heart rate was elevated. The doctor determined that he had a double ear infection, after looking in both ears. The doctor then started him on a breathing treatment, which was quite comical. Imagine trying to hold a face mask over a 14 month old's face for 5 minutes. Yeah...Nate wasn't having that. He didn't sound much better after the treatment, so we got sent down the road for a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. Luckily, the x-ray came back showing no pneumonia, thank God! We returned to the pediatrician's office where they checked his vitals again, which hadn't changed much, so Nate got another breathing treatment. This one went even worse than the first one! But, something worked, because his O2 sats came back up to 95%. We were sent home with an antibiotic for the ear infections and an inhaler for the coughing and wheezing. Poor kid...it just never ends! Surprisingly, Nathan has been sleeping great! My parents were supposed to leave this morning, but offered to stay so Nathan could stay home from Ms. Linda's, and then Joe and I didn't have to call into work. They plan on leaving this afternoon after Joe gets home from work.

Like everyone else, the rest of the week is busy busy! My friend Gretchen and her husband Mike are coming over for dinner tonight, and then Joe's friend Eric and his girlfriend Stephanie are coming over for dinner tomorrow night. Both are from out-of-town, so we're really excited that they were able to fit us in for a visit! Joe and I both work on Thursday, Christmas Eve, so our babysitter Alex is coming over to watch the kids all day. We plan on going to the Family Service at Church at 5:00pm which is also a candlelight service, my favorite. Joe sings at the 10:00pm service, but the kids and I will stay home for that one. We'll all probably be in bed actually! Then on Christmas morning, we will wake up at the crack of dawn, I'm sure, take our time having breakfast and opening presents (or the other way around), and then drive to Stevens Point to celebrate Christmas Day with Joe's family. We'll stay there until Sunday (with 8 adults and 5 children all in one house) and then drive back home. Ella is going to stay at her Grandma and Grandpa's a few extra days, as well as her cousins.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday! Please travel safe!




Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Lumberjack and the Angel

I was thrilled to learn that there is a tree farm right here in New Berlin! So yesterday afternoon, after attending "A Birthday Party for Jesus" at our church, we all bundled up and headed out to find the perfect Christmas tree. We walked up and down the many aisles until we found the tree we wanted to cut down. We drove home with the end sticking out of the back of the van, and then got it inside. Only then did I realize that the tree we had picked out was HUGE! And quite uneven, no matter how we adjusted it! During nap times, I was able to string all of the lights. Later that afternoon, Ella attempted to help me hang ornaments. After putting up a few, she said, "I'm done doing this." I put the project on hold until all little fingers were safely in their beds! I was determined to have all of my decorating complete by last night, so I got to work hanging ornaments as soon as both kids were asleep. As I walked over to the piano to take a sip of my hot cocoa (with a little Bailey's for an extra treat) I heard a strange rustling sound, and turned around just in time to see our enormous tree falling right towards me! I moved out of the way and then heard the CRASH! What a mess...bulbs had shattered, water was everywhere, and all of the lights were no longer on the tree. After all of that work! Joe came to the rescue and we got the tree upright again. This time, Joe bolted it to the wall with some wire. He then helped me re-hang all of the ornaments. And this is how it all turned out...

Even thought it's a bit crooked, I love it. I hated it last night, but today I love it.

Our church put on a pageant this morning during the second service. Ella dressed up as an angel and sang two songs right at the beginning, before heading back to Sunday School. The older kids participated in the whole service. It was seriously the cutest thing ever! I am so excited to see Ella participate in more activities that I can video tape and then watch again later with tears in my eyes!

video

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods...

To Grandmother's (and Grandfather's) house we...went! We survived the trip. On the way there, our usual 6 hour drive turned into an 8 hour drive due to accidents in the Kalamazoo area. Our drive back was uneventful, hitting traffic in the Chicago area only. Surprise, surprise! The kids did a great job! Ella enjoyed watching several DVDs that we rented from the library and Nathan enjoyed, well, eating and sleeping. He's not quite old enough to "play" with toys in the car. He mostly would handle a toy for a few minutes, and the chuck it onto the floor. We did have a nice visit at my parent's house...possibly the last visit to that house, since it went on the market TODAY! Joe seems to think it's going to sell fast...I'm not so sure. The economy is even worse in Michigan, if you can believe it.


Thanksgiving was spent at my Auntie Anne and Uncle Bob's house. We were able to visit with my Uncle Rick and Aunt Nancy, and my cousins Ben and Matt. It was a fairly quiet Thanksgiving (except for my children, of course) and it made me realize how old I'm getting! I remember how excited I used to get for holidays when I was little. It probably had to do with the fact that I was very close with my cousins and we always had a blast, playing games, making up skits, and just laughing. Sometimes I miss those days. I hope my kids will be able to have that sort of relationship with their cousins, and do some of the same things that we did in years past.


While we were in Michigan, I was able to get together with an old friend from high school. I hadn't seen Eric in over 10 years so it was really nice to catch up. I also saw one of my best friends, Kari. My mom's Aunt Janet, Aunt Ruth, and Uncle George came over for a quick visit. We hadn't seen them since last Christmas, so it was nice for them to see how much the kids had grown. Nathan was in a much better mood than he was a year ago, that's for sure! We celebrated Joe's 30th birthday and my mom's birthday. I attempted to make a red velvet cake, which was disastrous. The cake turned out okay, but the frosting was another story. Oh well, I tried. The days went by too quickly, like they always do, and it was a bit emotional leaving, knowing that it may have been the last time in that house. It's a very strange feeling. I think it helped that my parents had made several changes to the house since I went off to college and moved out. My old room didn't really feel like MY room anymore, it felt like the guest room. The basement and kitchen have change drastically, as well as the family room. We now have the piano in our house, the one that used to sit in the great room, the one that I sat at for hours to practice. It's a great house, and whoever ends up buying it is very lucky. I have so many wonderful memories in that house and I will miss it. But, I would much rather have my parents closer!



I've been thinking a lot lately about holidays and how things change as we get older. Now that Joe and I have kids, and we are now a family of 4, we'd like to start some of our own traditions. Once my parents move to Wisconsin, it will be easier to divide our time between my family and Joe's family for Christmas. Maybe one year we will spend Christmas Eve with my parents and Christmas Day with Joe's parents...and then the next year we can switch it up. One thing we would like to start doing is spending Christmas morning at our own house with our kids, opening presents and stockings, and having breakfast together, before heading out for a larger family gathering later in the day. There comes a point when extended families start spending holidays with more immediate family, and when each individual family starts taking on hosting responsibilities. I'd like to take on a Thanksgiving or a Christmas and start a rotation in the future. It seems to be the natural course of things. When I was very small, I remember having Christmas Eve at my Grandma's sister's house, with all of my mom's aunts, uncles, and cousins. Eventually, it evolved into having Christmas Eve at our house or at one of my mom's sister's houses, and then Christmas Day was always spent at one of my dad's siblings' houses. Things change. Nobody likes it. I don't like it. But it's the way things progress, and then they stay the same for several years, until our kids are grown, and the cycle starts all over again. Either way, I still love the holidays and enjoy beginning new traditions.

This week I plan on digging out all of the Christmas decorations from the basement and getting to work! My parents are coming to visit the weekend before Christmas to celebrate early. We will have our own little celebration so they can give Ella and Nathan their presents (and the awesome stockings my mother always creates!). We'll have a traditional Christmas dinner...and then do it all again a week later with Joe's family! This year, Joe will be singing in the choir during the Christmas Eve service. I am very excited to be able to attend our own church on Christmas Eve and hear Joe sing. I'm excited to be spending Christmas Eve at our own house and waking up on Christmas morning, watching my children opening their presents under our own tree. The vision almost brings tears to my eyes.

Later this week, I will remember my Grandma. Charlotte. I still can picture her and hear her voice so clearly. I still miss her terribly. It makes me sad that she didn't get to meet my children. She would have been a wonderful Great-grandma.