Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Past and Christmas Future ..... (also titled: It's a.....!!!)

The very first Christmas card we ever sent as a married couple featured a picture of Santa Claus covered in some unknown, brown, spotty substance. The inside of the card said something about remembering to add more fiber to the reindeer's diet next year. yeah. Guess who picked out that card, had to have it, LOVED it? And, well, being the diplomatic wife that I am (was?) I agreed. However, since that year (or maybe BECAUSE of that year), I have taken full charge of selecting and sending the holiday greetings! As the years continue, I find such joy looking back at the photos sent to say "Merry Christmas". Four short holiday seasons captured on film.

Yesterday we had the ultrasound. IT'S A BOY! How happy we ALL are. I just keep staring and staring at the photos of Christmas past and can't help but imagine what 2009's card will look like...a welcome addition of bouncing, excited boy, similar in age to the little guy in the first photo.
My first pregnancy was so new and exciting. And maybe that, coupled with the fact that I was busy, busy teaching, made it seem to fly by. My second pregnancy was tiring. Mostly because I had an 11 month old and was busy, busy with a church calling. This pregnancy is different. Although home life is fast paced, outside demands are slower. I find myself really THINKING about the miracle of being pregnant. I am cherishing this time a little more. And always in the back of my mind I wonder just how many more times I will experience this wonder that is pregnancy. David and I have never had "a number" in mind. It is always up for reevaluation after each babe! :) So here we are, surrounded by the number 4. Fourth Christmas with children. Four people in our little family, looking forward to the new one in only four short months.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One of these faces is not like the others

I think that reality TV producers have missed an idea. The HOLIDAY PHOTO SHOOT. The concept is cleans up, attempts Christmas photo, disaster ensues. Typecasting wouldn't be an issue because family dynamics usually take care of that.
All I know is that last weekend, out of equal parts desperation and delusion, we grabbed our tripod and camera, set the timer, and hoped for the best. Once again, our Christmas card may deceive you, but 41/42 pictures taken involved 3 happy campers and 1 frowning, crying, or just up and left the picture, Lily. Bless her heart. Oh, there was the large dog off his leash that attacked the children and ran off with our bag as his owner screamed and chased him down, and there was the occasional hiker that showed up in the background of our pictures. The children had their own idea of what would make a good Christmas card, it involved climbing a large dirt hill and jumping off. There was ONE picture where Lily appears amused. (see below)
But it didn't make the final cut because during THIS photo, a strange lady walking by decided that we needed some help and came to "entertain" the children while the camera timer ticked away. Kids are laughing at the crazy lady, but mom and dad have a look on their face that reads a little more, "what the heck..."

fun times.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Fun

Making the bird feeders was a HUGE hit.

This is the poor little tree (bush?) they inflicted their bird feeding enthusiasm on... I love how all the bird feeders found their home about 8 inches off the ground. so sweet. They check these feeders each time we walk by.

Play-Doh snowmen.
Created (left to right) by Zach (who informed me that "snowmen need feet too!"), me, and Lily (who enjoyed poking eyes, and mouth and buttons into her snowman)

Finally, David is really taking great pride in his job of "relocating" our Elf (named Essa, by the kids) each night. This morning we found Essa hanging from a dismantled smoke detector. Never a dull moment around here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Laundry Day

Have I mentioned that there isn't a washer and dryer in these apartments? It's another one of those things we had to leave behind when we moved from KC. So far, each place we've stayed provided one. And really, it's a matter of laziness more than anything. Find something cheap on craigslist, use it for a couple months and then try to get rid of them again before we move at the end of Feb. urgh. I guess I haven't been inconvenienced enough to motivate myself into action.

Forgoing the comfort of our own home, we use the laundry facility on site. All we need are snacks, and my camera. The kids LOVE the sports feature where you can take something like 6.5 shots per second. So they jump off things, jump like frogs and run in straight lines, while I hold the shutter button. We took a ridiculous amount of pictures. And other than the two dudes that walked off the set of a rap video (and flashed some strange looks toward my "pregnant sprawled on the lawn to get the shot self") we were all alone. Or so we thought.
After each race, they demanded to see the photos on the viewfinder. They wanted to see themselves "run backward", "run forward", "do it fast", "make us run slow". And satisfied....they want to shoot a new set. Finally, when we were done, we headed back inside to check on the clothes. We heard a woman's voice, "Ma'am!?" (i know, I know, once you have two kids and are pregnant, you graduate to Ma'am, instead of Miss) I turned to look but didn't see anyone. She called again, and from the second floor balcony I saw a woman stand up from her chair.
"May I just say, that was precious. The whole thing. It was so sweet. You guys really made my day!" And then, I'm pretty sure she even clapped a little bit.
And I am pretty sure I said thanks, or something like it. And actually, what she said kind of made my day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Traditions

We're mostly moved in, and feeling rather festive. Yesterday Dave went to the garage to get the box with the advent calendar and the kids went wild jumping on couches and yelling from the front door. I was so happy to see that they remembered this tradition. As soon as the calendar came out of the box, they spent the next 10 minutes taking all the lids off and putting them back on. You can bet this morning it was the first thing they asked about. I even found Lily sitting by the calendar, not daring to touch it, at 7am. Each day is stocked with a little treat and a fun holiday experience. This year it looks like this:
1. FHE: Buy gifts for our adopted family
2. Make Hot Chocolate
3. Make Play-Doh snowmen
4. Collect pine cones at the park
5. Make pine cone bird feeders
6. Go to Ward Christmas Party
7. Write letters to Santa
8. Christ's birth FHE packet
9. Have dinner by candlelight
10. Make paper snowflakes
11. Deliver Christmas goodies to friends
12. Take an eggnog break
13. Make/deliver holiday cards to retirement home
14. Take a moonlit walk to look at winter stars
15. Tell Nativity Story using velcro pictures
16. Bake cookies and give them away
17. Make breakfast for dinner
18. Dance party to Christmas music
19.Put on PJ's and take car to look at Christmas lights
20. Go HOME to Kansas City!
Another tradition that we are trying out this year is a book advent of sorts. I wrapped up our Christmas/Winter Holiday books, and because our collection isn't quite up to 20 books, we checked the rest out from the library. Each night before bedtime, they choose a book (mine are numbered because we have to get the library books back in time! :) to unwrap and read. I know they'll love this because a) they are unwrapping something and b) they love books. I'm super excited because there are some fabulous books I can't wait to share.

Last year David's grandparents sent us the Elf on the Shelf package. Cutest thing. It comes with a book (that rhymes the whole way through) explaining that Santa has sent an elf to the Painter household. This year we have to name our elf and welcome him to our home. There is even a place to write in the book what year your elf comes to you and what you decide to name him. The book explains that each day the elf will appear somewhere in the house (he's got bendable arms and legs so he can chill in the funniest from light fixtures and shower curtains) to watch over the kids and make sure they are on their best behavior. Each night he flys back to the North Pole to report to Santa the doings of the day. Then, each morning he finds a different spot in the house and the kids have a ball searching for him when they wake up. Fun stuff.
Like I said...feeling festive. Last year and this year we are traveling "home" for Christmas, so we don't have any Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning traditions yet. But even so, these activities make it feel special all month long. I think it will be fun to look back and see how we chose to celebrate, because I am sure as the years go by things will evolve. I am always inspired by family traditions, they have the ability to create the most magical and wonderful memories.