Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How did she know?

Yesterday was Monday.  As I've mentioned before, Monday is Family Home Evening at our house.  Last night, however, we weren't at home.  First, the entire family accompanied me to the doctor's office.  I'm going to live!  (Not that there was ever any question of that.)  No, seriously, I'm doing great.  Even though I'm still sore and slow.  Then, we made a trip to McDonald's for ice cream.  Before we returned home, our plan was to deliver Christmas goodies to some of our friends.  So, we made a bathroom stop before we began our deliveries.

This may not sound like the traditional Family Home Evening, but the point is that we were spending time together and there was ice cream involved.

Speaking of points, I'm not getting to the one I intended to fast enough.  My intended point is the following story:

As we approached the large, heavy, public restroom door, I considered my physical state.  I considered the door.  I was tired and achey.  I listened to Endeavor, who was trying to convince me that since she had no need for a restroom break, she should be allowed to stand outside and wait for her father and brothers (being male, they had probably already finished their business in the restrooms before we girls had even entered).  I considered the door again, and the possibility that there may be another heavy door beyond this one.  "No, Endeavor," I said, my decision made on all counts.  "I need you to join Superkid and I in the restrooms.  Because you can't wait outside by yourself, and because your mother is afraid she can't open this door by herself."

Endeavor grudgingly obliged, saying as she pushed open the restroom door, "Fine, Mom, I'll come and open doors for you. "

At this, Superkid looked up at her older sister and said seriously, "Mommy's superpowers have been weakened.  We have to do what we can to help her."

She's so on to me.  What was it that gave it away?  My lightening reflexes?  My laser vision?  Perhaps my ability to talk on the phone and measure out the ingredients for cookies simultaneously.  Whatever it was that tipped her off, I'll have to be more careful in the future.

And, speaking of SUPER.......

Best wishes to all of my fellow supermoms as you prepare your homes for Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Go to Bed!

My children are out of school all this week.  I am being completely honest when I say that I love it when they are home from school on a good, long, break.  I love summer vacation, too.  I'm not the most structured person, so there is something really appealing to me about the absolute freedom from schedules and the rush of getting everyone off to school and other activities.  I get a natural high from the power of being able to say things like, "Kids, we're going to spend the whole day in our jammies and we are going to read all the books we want.  We're having a readathon!" 

Doesn't that sound marvelous to you?  Mmmm, me too!  Let's do it today!  After we do all the things we need to to get ready for Christmas.....

Anyway, there are some things you just can't do with your children when school's in session.  Like staying up late.  Children really, really need their rest when school is in session.  The fact of the matter is, they need their rest when school isn't in session, as well.  Which brings me to the point of today's post:  I like it when my children go to bed

I like it when my children go to bed and it is just the Bionic Man and I.  I treasure the time we spend together after the children are in bed, tucked safely away for the night.  I have worked really hard to train my children that bedtime is bedtime--whether they are sleepy or not--and once I tell them goodnight, they are on their own.  (So to speak.)  Justone and Endeavor have totally got the hang of this.  Superkid is still trying to test our boundaries, but she is learning. 

It's not just about couple time, either.  Giving your children adequate rest is practically the foundation of preventative discipline.  They are just so much easier to handle when they are well rested.  I don't think any mother could argue with me on that point.

There is only one problem.  The Bionic Man loves it when school is out, too.  Only he's not home during the day to enjoy the special freedoms of school being out.  He has to enjoy them in the evenings.  Which means he likes to let the children stay up late.

He, obviously, is not the one spending the next day with tired children.

Does anyone else have this problem?  How do you deal with it?  I mean, besides putting your foot down and telling your husband that late night fun with the children is totally out of the question.  (Because I totally get where he is coming from.)Do you have a way to get older children to take naps?  Do you have a way to get younger children to sleep in?  I'd love some input.....Christmas break is just beginning.

And now, I unveil to you the driving force behind this post.  My Fair Lady!  

I love this musical so much that it inspired Endeavor's real name.  I think it is hilarious when people comment on her name, "Oh, is that a family name?'  Because it isn't!  But it could be....if our last name was Doolittle.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Apologies and Well Wishes

Yes, it has been some time since my last post.  Hence, my apologies.  I do have a really good excuse.  I've been wayyyyy under the weather.  Don't ask for any more details than that; you should appreciate that I'm not offering more.  But I'm recovering!  Since--as of today--I can now focus on the computer screen without crossing my eyes or falling asleep, I'm commemorating this momentous occasion with a blog post.  Fair warning, it will not contain any deep thoughts, because I'm not yet at the deep thinking point in my recovery.

I am however, in the reading and reflection point of my recovery.  (AKA: lying down on the couch with a pile of books.)  Since I am spending plenty of time reflecting upon how I can better care for my body in the future, I've been reading this book:

Which is hilarious.  But don't take my word for it, because I'm taking painkillers.  Everything seems a little bit funny to me, right now.  Even global warming.  (Don't tell Al Gore.)  No, it actually is pretty funny because the writer has a great sense of humor.  (At least, I think she does.  Again, the painkillers.)

Okay, let's just forget the above paragraph ever happened, and go with, "This book interests me because it points out something I noticed when I, myself, lived in Europe."  And that is, you can eat yummier food and not gain weight when you live on the other side of the Atlantic.  It is a concept I've been thinking about quite a bit, as I contemplate making some changes in my life to improve my health and weight.  I'll tell you more when I'm not on painkillers, because, as I said, I'm not yet to the deep-thinking point of recovery.  Pretty sure I'll be off the painkillers before I get to that stage.

Until I'm back to my [deep-thinking] self, enjoy some of the fun things I found in the blogosphere today as I enjoyed being able to look at a computer screen without falling asleep.  This is what kept me awake:

Tea Towel Apron Tutorial from Skip to My Lou.  The finished product looks like this.

I discovered this tutorial when I was visiting one of the first blogs I ever met, Li'l Red Cottage.  Go back in the archives to last December, and you'll find some of the best gift ideas known to man.  Or woman, for that matter, since we seem to have to come up with most of the gifts for Christmas distribution.  Like all the gifts for children's teachers.....so take a look at some of these, and check out their 12 Days of Christmas Gift Ideas.

This is the idea that my friend, Nicole, and I used for teacher gifts this year.  She found the soap bottles, I found the cute Christmas handtowels to go with the soap.  Took us about an hour to make 10.  (Truthfully, it took Nicole about an hour to make 10.  Remember, I was on painkillers at the time.)

My next idea comes from Cassandra Design, who I discovered while I was visiting the Li'l Red Cottage.  You've gotta love the way her kitchen looks during Christmas (love the alphabet!) and the cool benches she makes out of old headboards.  I dare you not to want one of these benches, or the chair made from old ties.  Really.  Go see.

Oh, there are so many fun things out there to be found!  But we simply don't have time for them all, especially if we are learning to cook like the French women who don't get fat.  On the other hand, if you need some ideas for budget and family-friendly meal ideas, go check out Six Sisters' Sustenance.  I love their recipe for Classic Fettucini Alfredo.  Super easy, everyone in the family loves it.  The other day, when Justone was helping to put away the groceries, but forgot to put away the cooked, frozen, jumbo shrimp I had bought to use on Christmas Eve......I added the thawed shrimp to the Alfredo Sauce before I tossed in the noodles, and it was a HUGE success.  
BTW, you just have to use the fresh parsley on this one.

And now for my Well Wishes.....Happy Birthday, Bionic Man!  This one is for you.

Actually, that was more for me. I'm mushy like that. This one really is
for my Bionic Man. Especially the parts in Italian.

P.S. No more funny musical videos after December. Just for the holidays and fun!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas and Cards and Someone's Having a Giveaway!

Well, I just finished digging through one of my closets, looking for Christmas cards.  The turned out to be on the sewing table, right behind the sewing machine.  

Some of my readers may be wondering why I have been searching high and low for Christmas cards.  Some of you might be thinking that I am about to present you with a tutorial  for extremely crafty cards made from junk I've stored in closets and behind sewing machines all year--some way to have a leaner, greener Christmas.

Sorry to disappoint.  If you want Christmas cards like the ones I'm sending out this year, you have to follow these directions, listed below in Ten Easy Steps:

1.  Find a family picture taken at some point in the past year, in which everyone is wearing a smile and there is a child or a Disney character (or both) in front of your stomach.  
2.  Download it onto a site like Shutterfly, Walmart Photo, Snapfish,  Sam's Club, etc.
3.  Pick a card template to go with your family picture.  Add a cute Christmas greeting for your card recipients.  DO NOT indicate what year it is anywhere in this message.  (You will thank me for this later.)
4.  Order the appropriate number of cards you will need for your list.  Pay for them, and have them delivered to your house.  Or, if you want to do it exactly as I would, at this point you would send your husband across town to pick them up.
5.  Next, sit down and spend the next three days trying to compose a family newsletter.  Write at least 15 drafts.  
6.  Become discouraged.  Acknowledge that there is no way you can encapsulate the past year into a neat, one page, perky package along the lines of, "Well, 200_ has been quite a year for our family!  A lot has happened!"
7.  Cry a little bit.  
8.  Decide that you just don't want to send out a Christmas card this year.  
9.  Guiltily pack the cards up and stick them in a closet.  Again, if you want to do this exactly as I would, it should be the closet where you store clothing that is out of season or waiting to be passed on to the next child.  This way, several times a year when you need to get things out of said closet, the Christmas cards can fall onto your head or scatter themselves all over the floor of said closet.  Doing so will allow you to feel guilty about not sending Christmas cards out at random times throughout the year.  You will have the opportunity to pick up or move the cards during these times, and they should eventually end up behind your sewing machine sometime next December.  (This is the most complicated of the ten steps.  Just remember, you have an entire year to complete this one.)
10.  Next year, early in December, remember that you have Christmas cards already printed out.....somewhere......you know they dropped on your head this fall when you were getting out jackets......they might work for this year as long as they don't have a year on them.  Find them behind your sewing machine--sans year!--and voila!  Your Christmas cards are done!

Here is the picture I used last year.  Still good!  Notice how Justone and Mickey are carefully posed to hide my stomach.  I told you it was easy!

Obviously, it wasn't my intention last year to do things this way.  It was the whole family newsletter thing.  I know they aren't necessary, but I have to use my English degree somehow.  I spend a lot of time composing our family newsletter.  More time than anyone spends reading it, but at least I feel as I have put my degree to good use by the time I've dropped the cards and accompanying newsliterature into the mailbox.  

But like I said, 2008 was a tough year for newsletters.  After all, we'd been through a lot.  Li'l Angel had spent many days in the hospital last year, and died in August.  In October, we found out that it was time for Superkid to have heart surgery again.  The surgery was scheduled for December, and the Make-a-Wish foundation sent us to Disney World in November.  We definitely had news.....but how exactly was I supposed to share it?  After all, the majority of the people on our card list had been there and done that right along with us.  The minority didn't have any idea, since we only correspond via Christmas cards, and how, exactly, is one supposed to tell them?  

Merry Christmas!  2008 has been a busy year for our family.  Bet you would never guess that all in one year our neighborhood flooded, our baby died, we went to Disney World, and Superkid is recovering from open heart surgery!

See what I mean?  It's really a recipe for writer's block.  

I am determined, however, that this year we shall send out Christmas cards.  With or without a newsletter.  

For those of you who have not yet thought about your Christmas cards this year, you are in luck!  Jen, over at Tatertots and Jello, is hosting a Christmas card giveaway!  She has discovered a great little Etsy shop called Dimple Prints.  Dimple Prints has such darling custom digital card designs.  You tell them what you want, and they send you a file with your own cute design that you can then print out anywhere!  (I reiterate, if you want to do things the way I would, don't include what year it is anywhere on your design.  Print them out at Sam's Club and send your husband out to get them.)  Go enjoy Jen's blog, leave her a comment about this giveaway, and you could win a free custom card design from Dimple Prints!  

You could have something like this

or this

or--my personal favorite--this.

Just remember, I do not advocate sticking a date on your cards.  So limiting.  I do however, recommend printing out next  year's Christmas cards this year.  It certainly has been nice to already have something crossed off my list, this year!  Go ahead, visit Dimple Prints and think about next Christmas (you won't have to complete step #3 if you do it this way--what a timesaver!).....but you don't necessarily have to store your cute cards in a place where they will potentially hit you on the head.  Unless, of course, you want to be just like me.  For you naysayers who are saying, "But, if I print out pictures this Christmas, they'll be out of date by next Christmas," my reply is, "Pshaw.  The children may be a little shorter in the picture than they are currently, but I had fewer wrinkles last year than I do this year."  

Now, go have yourself a merry little Christmas.  Possibly in a red velvet gown.  

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas in.....


I think I might have mentioned already that we spent a few years in Connecticut.  In fact, Connecticut was where the Bionic Man and I spent our first Christmas as a married couple.  We discovered this movie at the video store one night that first year, and thought it was so hilarious that there was a movie about us.  We tried to convince our families back in Utah that they needed to watch it.

The Bionic Man carried this enormous Christmas tree home on the top of his tiny Geo Metro.  
I'm not sure how he did it. That's why is he the Bionic Man. Some other time I'll tell you about
the telephone pole he carried home in a minivan.

The tree dwarfed our tiny apartment.  We had no ornaments.....and not much money for buying ornaments.....so we had to make do with a few lights and approximately six ornaments that were given to us for our post-Christmas wedding the year before.  Hmmm, looks like we got a humidifier for Christmas. 

Living in the Land of Martha (Stewart, that is) inspired me to cook this delicious holiday dinner.  Wow!
Note the shrimp cocktail in goblets and the artfully arranged veggie tray.  I'm totally impressed with myself.  Also note the very unflattering sweater and--I can't believe this, it is completely shameful--stirrup pants!!!!!!!!!  I was actually pregnant with Endeavor in this picture, but I'm pretty sure I really didn't need maternity clothes.  And no woman--pregnant or not--needs stirrup pants!  (Seriously, though, they made a brief return to the market in Fall 1998.  Don't as me why I felt compelled to buy them, much less wear them.  Pregnancy is so hard on the brain.)  Speaking of maternity clothes, for some reason I was so anxious to wear them during my first pregnancy.  By my fourth, I held off for as long as possible.   I managed to wear the same favorite pair of jeans I'd worn pre-pregnancy until the day I delivered.  Ahem, not every day.  But I wore them to the hospital on the day I had the baby.  I'm still scratching my head over how that worked.  (Old Navy, Flirt style, stretch, for anyone who is pregnant and wondering.)

Back to Connecticut.  The weather in Connecticut positively guarantees that you will have a white Christmas.  We always had piles of snow by Christmas.  We had a couple of children by the time we purchased our first home, so finding one with a good sledding hill was absolutely necessary.  After all, Christmas isn't the only time there is snow in Connecticut.  It is there at least 7 months of every year.  You better love snow if you move to Connecticut.  I'm sure Martha does.

By now I'm feeling very nostalgic.  I can't find any snowy pictures of our sledding hill, so I'll show you one taken in the summertime.

What a hill that was! One of the reasons Bionic Man is so Bionic is because 
he had to mow that. And what a view we had from our little Connecticut cottage.  
Below, the view from my front porch.

Do you want to see inside?  The Bionic Man and I worked soooo hard on our little cottage, I might as well show it off while we are on the subject of Connecticut.  These are the pictures we took to market it. It sold in 13 days.  By owner.  Sigh.

This was our sweet little kitchen. It didn't look anything like this when we 
bought the house. Originally, the only cabinetry in the kitchen was flanking the sink.  
There was no dishwasher, and 4 total linear feet of counter space. The Bionic Man 
and I plotted for days. Then we bravely knocked down one wall and put up another.  
We found counterspace.

Lots of counterspace.  I loved designing my own kitchen.  It took us a long time to do this reno, but it was sooooo worth it.  I thought through everything very carefully, and was able to place everything just where I needed it.  This kitchen was about 9x15 feet, and it was far more efficient than my current 15x27 feet kitchen space.

This was the side of the kitchen that had the original, only cabinet and countertop space.  We tore out the cruddy lower cabinets, but left the original upper cabinets because they were just too darn charming to toss.  We took the doors off and covered them in nine coats of white paint.  I loved having the open shelves in my kitchen.  The wall color was Valspar's "Star Lily" and the counters were Formica's "Fresh Paint."  Still love those colors today.  The cabinetry is Kraftmaid.  Cost of the entire kitchenreno was under $4K.  (It helped that the only new appliance we had to purchase was the fridge.  The others we found in the paper or bought from friends who were updating.)

This was the other side of the kitchen.  The doorway to the right is the one that we put in.  The Bionic Man made sure it was arched, like the other doorways in the house.  I love arched doorways.  When we weren't taking pictures to sell the house, the pegs over the bench were full of coats and jackets.  No one ever came to our front door.....they always came to the backdoor.....at least, they did until the Bionic Man dug flagstone out of our backyard and made this pretty little path to the front door.

He fit those pieces together, almost singlehandedly.  I helped by planting my very pregnant self on the front porch and overseeing the placement of the stones.  It was like a giant puzzle.  Can you believe those rocks were all from our yard?

If you came in through the front, you would have seen our Red Room.   With its arched doorway.

The doorway wasn't there when we moved in, because this was a bedroom.  We turned it into a Red Room using Valspar's "Cabin Red."  I love "Cabin Red."  I have vowed to have a Red Room in every house I ever live in, thanks to "Cabin Red."  It is the perfect red.  See that very New-Englandy and oh-so-colonial couch set?  My dear friend Kelly (shout out to Kelly!) picked it up from the curb and let us have it.  We'd already painted the room, it matched like we'd found the furniture first!  I should mention that Kelly didn't find it on some random curb, it was in front of another friend's house and hadn't been there long.  So no funny smells or stains.  Our other friend was just tired of it.  It is very comfortable for short people like me.  I'll never put it on the curb.  But I will reupholster it someday.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me today.  Lucky for you, I can't find any more pictures of our little Connecticut Cottage.  But I can find Bing Crosby, singing about a white Christmas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Superkid's Favorite Songs

So, in my last post I mentioned my former life as a theater geek.  And my present life as choir director.  It should come as no surprise to you that my favorite kind of music is.......

Anything I can sing along with that doesn't contain naughty words.  (I hate it when someone ruins a perfectly good song by throwing in a naughty word.  Hate it.) 

If you are planning to give me a CD for Christmas, your options are WIDE open.  Lots of country music fits into my favorite genre (love to belt it out with Reba, Martina, and Carrie), ABBA's Greatest Hits are all very singable, thanks Bionic Man for introducing me to Coldplay and Viva La Vida, and I can't complete this list without mentioning a little ditty known as Handel's Messiah.  See?  I'm musically very well rounded. 

I have passed this trait onto my children.  We appreciate a good mini-van sing-along.  (Although Endeavor appreciates it more when I keep the windows rolled up.   Ten year olds embarrass so easily.)  Superkid especially loves to sing loudly along with any song she hears that even mildly appeals to her.  Unlike her older sister, Superkid does not embarrass easily, which is why I've had the opportunity to push a shopping cart through a grocery store to the musical accompaniment of four-year-old Superkid singing "We Will Rock You."  It is also why each and every time we walk outside and feel a few raindrops, Superkid bursts into a joyful rendition of "Singin' in the Rain."  She's taught it to her entire kindergarten class.  They all sing it on rainy days as they wait outside at parent-pickup.  I'm not kidding!

I appreciate Superkids ability to sing in the rain, literally and figuratively.  Being able to sing in the rain is the ultimate glass-half-full attitude.  "Come what may and love it."  The heavens open and pour upon your head and you dance in the deluge.  That's Superkid.

Yesterday we had appointments at our local children's hospital.  Superkid was seeing her metabolic specialist and was getting an echocardiogram.  The echo was ordered mostly to soothe the nerves of her slightly-paranoid mother and extremely supportive pediatrician.  Paranoid as I am, I really didn't think they would find anything to be concerned about.  Which was why I was a little surprised when Dr. E, Superkid's cardiologist, came to find us as we waited for the metabolic appointment.  There was a bit of an arrhythmia that showed up during the echo, and Dr. E thought Superkid should wear a recording monitor for 24 hours so they could investigate that arrhythmia a little further. 

More rain.

I haven't done arrhythmia before.  This is a new one for me.  It might turn out to be nothing, but I hate wondering.

After the metabolic appointment, in which we heard some good news, some bad news, and not much news that shed light on anything, we went back to diagnostic cardiology to get the monitor.  Superkid chatted away with the technician as she hooked her up.  Soon we were out the door with a portable recording device that will track Superkid's every heartbeat for the next 24 hours.

It was such a little thing, but as I walked to the parking garage with Superkid, now carrying her monitor over one shoulder like it was a purse, I felt like crying.  Six year olds shouldn't have to worry about how they are going to play at recess while they wear a heart monitor.

It's really coming down out there.

Superkid skipped alongside me, as I blinked rapidly and clenched my jaw.  "I was afraid this monitor would be like the one after heart surgery," Superkid informed me.  "I thought it might be too heavy to carry.  But this monitor is very nice!  It is very small, and I can put it in my pocket!"  I nodded.  "I love this place!"  Superkid said fondly, throwing her arms wide, as if to hug the hospital building.  "Lots of people know me here and they all noticed that I had grown bigger!  And they have toys for me when I come.  And Dr. E is my favorite doctor and he loves me back.  I wish all kids had a hospital like my hospital because kids need hospitals that make them better when they are sick and that have people in them that like kids.  Isn't this the best place, Mommy?"

She's singing in the rain.

Last night, when I called my parents to give them our hospital report, my mother reminded me that it was exactly one year ago when Superkid was in surgery, getting her new heart valve.  That helped put things into perspective.  We are so blessed.  I am so grateful that Superkid just keeps trying and never forgets that it might be raining, but she can still sing.

Someone gave us a Josh Groban CD last year.  I know not everyone appreciates Josh Groban, but Superkid does.  This is her favorite song.  She told me, after listening to it a few times, that she's pretty sure it is a song for kids who need heart surgery.  "You can hear the heart monitor," she explained to me once.  True: when you play this song on your car stereo and crank up the bass a bit, there is this steady, underlying beat.  Kind of hard to hear in this YouTube version, but listen anyway in honor of Superkid and all the other kids out there who are singing--and dancing--in their own rainstorms.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I was in two productions of Fiddler on the Roof in eighteen months.  
The first time was during my senior year of high school, 
in my high school's production.  
The second time was during my freshman year of college, 
when I was in my university's production.  

In both productions, I got to be one of Tevye's daughters.....
just not the same one each time, 
so I had to learn new songs and lines.  
In the high school production, I played Chava, 
the middle daughter who marries a Gentile and is disowned.  
Very dramatic.  
In the university production, I played Hodel, 
the daughter who follows her husband to Siberia 
and has that very touching scene at the train station with her father.  
Also dramatic.  
Loved singing that song.  
Loved, loved, loved, LOVED 
every single moment of being in those two shows.

Bet you had no idea that I was a theater geek.  

That's how great my acting skills are.

But I digress. The point is: Fiddler on the Roof is my musical.  

So, whenever I think of the word "tradition", I think of it this way:

{sorry, there was a video here. Unfortunately, it had to be removed.}
Ahh, I love that song! I'm doing the dance, right now. Tradition!
Since the Bionic Man and I were married almost 12 years ago, 
we've only spent one Christmas back at home with our families.  
Not that we don't love them, 
but distance and life have often prevented us from making the holiday trek.  
For the first couple of years this was depressing for me.
Actually, I take that back.  
For the first year, that was depressing to me.  
The second year, we were living in Munich, Germany.  
We're talking the place to spend Christmas.

We got to shop here:
Translation: Munich's Christchild Market
See this:

And taste these:



Dampfnudel.  It is what everyone eats while shopping at the outdoor Christmas markets.  They defy description.  Oh vanilla sauce, how I love thee!

We began some of our family Christmas traditions while we were living in Munich.  We made more during the following years, when the pregnancies and heart surgeries and mortgages and little things like that made it difficult for us to fly home for Christmas.  

These are some of my favorites:

1.  Decorating the Christmas Tree.  We use the tiny wooden toy ornaments that we were given by a family we met in Munich.  We began with hundreds, but they break easily.  I think that calls for another trip to Munich.

2.  Letting the children decorate little trees for their bedrooms.  They mostly make their own ornaments, but over the years have collected a few that suit their personal tastes.

3.  Bethlehem Dinner.  On Christmas Eve, I make a buffet of foods that may (or may not) have been available in biblical Bethlehem.  Our selection of food is certainly not accurate....but it is very different from our normal fare.  And there is no ham--that at least is authentic.  We push the table against the wall, and eat on blankets that we spread on the floor.  While we eat, we talk about the story of Jesus' birth, and what it must have been like to live then.

4.  Christmas Pajamas.  We always have new pajamas to wear, so that we'll look spiffy in the Christmas morning videos.

5.  Christmas Eve gifts.  After our Bethlehem dinner, we let the children open the gifts that came from their extended family members.  We feel they are able to express more appreciation and enjoyment of these gifts when they aren't lost in the paper frenzy of Christmas morning.

Four years ago, the stars and planets were aligned in such a way, that we could actually make the trip to Utah for Christmas.  We were glad we did.  Our children, however, have since informed us that they would prefer to spend Christmas at home, but they are more than happy to go see their cousins and do some skiing in Utah after Christmas.  


So, I'm curious.  What are some of the traditions you keep to celebrate Christmas?  What are some of your favorites?  Do you have any traditions that are unique to your family?  What have you done to blend traditions from your extended familes?

Since I've been talking about living far away from my family and my former days as a stage diva (I'm totally kidding.  I was anti-diva.) I feel it is only fitting to leave you with these parting thoughts, in song.  

{again, another video that had to be removed. sorry.}
"Yet, there with my love.....I'm home!"