Monday, December 9, 2013

Haul out the Holly… (December Daily Day 1)

I swear, every year I get more and more disgusted when I see Christmas decorations filling the aisles of my local stores before Halloween, and hear Christmas music booming from their speakers weeks before Thanksgiving. Seriously?! I'm sorry, but I cannot even think about Christmas, much less get into the mood of the holiday, until after I've had my big family dinner giving my thanks for the year.  And don't get me started on the pre Black Friday deals. Christmas has become so commercialized these days that it is now taking over our other holidays just so we can be the first to get the latest and greatest gizmo, toy, blah blah blah for the so called "greatest deal of the century!" Ugh. I can't stand it. But enough about how much I hate the commercialization of my favorite holiday.

Every year I strive to have the decorations at least drug out of storage, if not all put up, by the first week of December. This is probably the first year we have ever had the tree up, ornaments on, and the majority of the inside of our house decorated for the holidays on the very first day of December. I really can't take credit for being totally on the ball though. Let's just say I had some motivation. In the days after Thanksgiving, and leading up to December, this was the conversation.

Mason: "Mom can we put the tree on Sunday."
Me: "Sure Mason."
Mason: "Yes! I can't wait."

Come Sunday morning the conversation went a bit more like this:

6am, Mason: "Can we put up the tree yet?"
Me (grumpy and sleepy, mumbling into my pillow): "Not yet mason, it's still early."
7am, Mason: "Can we put up the tree now?"
7:30am, Mason: "Get out of the bed! I want to put up the tree!"
Me: "Mason, go downstairs. I will get up when I get up! We can put up the tree after I've had my coffee and breakfast."
7:45am, Mason (in his best whining tone): "Mom, you promised we could put up the tree today."
7:50am, Mason: "MOM! Come on, GET OUT OF BED! Please! Seriously, can we put up the tree now? MOM!"
8:00am, Mason: "Mom…"
Me and Fred: "MASON!" 

Actually, this is how a typical weekend morning sounds. The kids getting up way too early and then bugging us every 10 seconds to get out of bed and get them breakfast, or play with them, or whatever nonsense they start begging for starting at the but crack of dawn. I don't know about you, but this Mama is so not a morning person. Not a good combination, young kids and an anti-morning persona. Especially with Mason, who needs constant stimulation as he tends to have the attention span of a gnat. It's exhausting. Probably another reason I need to have my cup of coffee in the morning before I can function. Trust me, you do not want to encounter me on a day I have not had my morning cup o' joe. It's like that Tempur-Pedic commercial, which is all too funny (mostly because it's true).

Seriously though, we got the tree up and all it's ornaments on in record time. Usually I am still decorating while dinner is cooking in the background. This year we were all done by the afternoon. It is unfortunate that our tree is having a bit of a short out with a strand or too, so we have some dark patches on our tree when it's lit. I suppose it is the perfectionist in me that is having the most problem with that. I swear I start to twitch each time I look at these pictures and walk by the tree at night. But I am learning to let it go. This is the new me, fresh off my breakdown, and being easy breezy. (Hahahaha. I'm sure Fred is reading this right now and screaming, "liar!) OK, so I might not be all easy breezy but I'm getting better at it. Take for example the ornaments. Usually I am very particular about spreading them out and making sure it all looks even. This I just let the kids go for it. I handed them ornaments (the non-breakable ones) and they put them on the tree. It was a big cluster of beauty from about the middle of the tree down. The top, totally empty. I had to stifle a giggle when I turned around. Lucky I had all those breakable ones to fill in the top and even it all out. They did a great job though.
That evening I found them sitting in the front of the tree looking at all the ornaments, admiring what a great job they had done and pointing out which ones they had made. It was too cute of a moment to pass up. I'm always on the lookout for a good photo op. Once they caught me taking pictures though, they had to pose in from of the tree and even at one point shouted, "did you get that shot of us with our arms around each other?" Such posers these too. But I suppose that just comes with the territory when your Mom is a photographer.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm still here, I swear

So I trust that all of you out there in the blogosphere had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was spent with my immediate family enjoying a short, but intimate dinner. We managed to get ourselves well enough to break some bread between episodes of the Modern Family marathon and whatever football game was being played. Fred made some deliciously good chili, and fruit salad. I tried to make some homemade rolls, but we had issues with our yeast and I ended up buying them last minute at the store. Mason and Sophie got a peak of how I spent a lot of my childhood by playing some really old board games like; Fun City, Clue, and Rack-O with Grandma and Aunt Jenni. My dad and I talked (I love just talking with my dad) about t.v. shows, health, and what we've been up to lately. It was all very last minute and though it wasn't the big family dinner of turkey, stuffing, ham, etc. that we have become accustom to, thanks to Grandma Veda, I am thankful we got to see family at all.

Ok, so you are probably sitting there all, "Woah Rachel! You've been silent for the last eight months and just suddenly pop up with, this is how our Thanksgiving was, and that's it?" LOL. Well, no. I do owe an explanation as to my absence since much has happened since April and here it is.

I have spent the last few, ok has it really been eight months, noting stories and events from our lives in my many notebooks strewn throughout the house and I have about 7-8 drafts in my post section that I just never got around to finishing. I have the best intentions, but lack the followthrough. I always figured once the kids got older I would have more time to do the things I want, despite the warnings this was most likely not to be the case. Still, all summer, I anxiously awaited the beginning of the school year. Why? you ask. Well, 2013 marked the beginning of ALL DAY SCHOOL, for at least one child.

Yes, Mason is now in first grade. FIRST GRADE! Gulp. Sophie is in her last year of preschool, sniff sniff, and I have 5 mornings a week with no kids. NO KIDS! (Insert happy dance, fists pumping in the air.) I will have three whole hours to myself to get some scrapbooking done and to actually sit down and write a blog post, I told myself. In my ideal world, I would spend those three hours being able to read, check email, write on my blog, make some cards, finish a few scrapbooks, and still have time to clean the house, do a load of laundry, run errands, get groceries, and take a shower. How productive I would be with my newly established kid free time. Snap back to reality, and three hours is really not as long as you would expect. I maybe have enough time to get a few things done before that alarm on my phone goes off, indicating it's time to leave and pick up Sophie. Most days this means I only get the grocery shopping done, and maybe a few minutes to send out an email or two; or I have just enough time to get in a run and take a shower; and on Wednesdays its spent volunteering in the classroom or shelving books in the school library. All that free time I had open for endless possibilities, I managed to fill with new opportunities and obligations. Leaving my clearly over-achievable goals of productivity to plummet, along with my hopes of finishing all the things I've been putting off creatively.

In essence, this was a very lingual way of saying, I've been busy and my blog failed to earn a space on the top of my priority list. I really have no excuses. I should make the time to write down the stories of our lives, especially for those family and friends who actually read this blog and live so far away. I know I've said it before, but I am really going to make a conscious effort to re-prioritize my time and make sure that telling our life stories is, once again, high on that list.

Not sure how well this will go, I do tend to have a little bit of an attention deficit problem when it comes to being on my computer. I mean all those alluring craft projects, recipes, and home decor ideas waiting to be "liked," or "repined" over on Pinterest; not to mention the status updates of my friends, (oh they are so distracting), because honestly who doesn't want to be all up in everyone else's lives. Seriously, it's only because our own is so overly mundane.  Or maybe that's just me. Either way, if you are still reading, or if you are new (Yay! and Welcome.) stay tuned for some catch up posts on what we have been up to lately. Also, it's December already. Aye! IT'S DECEMBER ALREADY!!!! So that means the return of December Daily, a sneak into our lives during the holiday season. I just love this project. You know why? Because as I was decorating yesterday, I pulled out my album from 2009 and started to look through it and really loved seeing how we spent the holiday, how the house was decorated, how young the kids were, and what we did on a daily basis. So much fun.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We got spirit, yes we do. We got spirit, how about you?

The end of the school year is approaching with lightning speed and I realize I have yet to write anything the kids have done in school so far this year. Epic fail on my part. No excuses, It's really just a lack of prioritizing blogging into my daily schedule. I'm working on it though. I have re organized my office, bought a planner in order to keep track of events and daily happenings that I want to blog about, and am going through my daily routine to determine the appropriate time to set aside for writing. I won't promise that I will start writing every day, but I will do my best to write more often than I do now.

Two weeks ago, Sophie's school had spirit week. I could never get Mason to participate in any of the themes while he was attending and really hoped Sophie would let me convince her to take part in at least a day or two. Surprisingly she participated in each day. She wore her Redskins jersey on Monday, mismatched her socks on Tuesday, and donned her school colors of yellow and blue on Wednesday. My favorite was Crazy Hair day on Thursday.
Sophie picked the outfit out herself, but she let me do up her hair however I wanted. I put two ponytails on top with her frilly hair ties and then braided the bottom in four different braids. It was a bit harder since her hair is shorter now than it used to be, but I think it came out good. She added the tiara, but then decided to leave it at home before heading out the door. I had walked her in that morning so I got to see all the teachers and her classmates equally crazy hair dos. Some had pony tails sticking straight up, one teacher had Mr. Potato Head stuck in her hair, and a boy in her class came in wearing a tin foil hat. There was lots of giggling, pointing, and showing each other their crazy hair. I was surprised to see her hair still in its crazy do when I picked her up, as she usually tends to take out her braids or pony tails by the time I roll into car line. I believe Friday was her favorite day because she got to wear pajamas to school again. It was really fun to see all the school spirit throughout the week. I'm thinking next year I just might participate too.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Simple Things Sunday: through the eyes of a child

Last night while I was doing an emergency load of laundry, Sophie decided to stay in the mudroom and watch as her beloved ladybug blankie got washed. You see, it's the end of the world when her blankie gets dirty, and then I have to listen to her scream at bedtime when she doesn't have it. I try to pick my battles and this is not one of them, for I dearly appreciate sleep. Especially when my kids are doing it.

Fred was working on some code for his GPS's and I returned to coloring Wizard 101 characters at the table with Mason. We happened upon a section of their website that has a sampling of their characters to print out and color. Mason has been on a coloring binge ever since. I haven't really minded because coloring was a favorite past time in my childhood and something I still enjoy to this day. Coloring is probably one of the few activities that I can do with my kids for hours. After a few moments Sophie started to yell out to me, "Mommy! Mommy I need you." I half sarcastically replied, "When do you not need me?" She didn't get my humor and was only more persistent that I come and see this RIGHT NOW. As much as I knew it wasn't anything serious, the excitement in her voice had me curious.

I was just finishing up coloring a section, so I could see what she wanted, when I heard her yell, "Mommy come look! Come look, Mommy! The clothes are having so much fun!"
And that folks, is the wonderful mind of a three year old. When you can take something as simple as a load of laundry spinning round and round in the washing machine and turn it into something exciting, there is something special in that. I hate laundry, but I'm starting to wonder, if I tried to approach it like a three year old, would it be more enjoyable?
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

I'm not usually one to pray but...

It's already March and I am starting to think we may never get that one big snowfall I have been praying for. It's been cold enough on more than one occasion, yet the most significant snowfall we've had was only a dusting that barely covered the grass. Such a disappointment, as I hoped we would get the chance to make at least one snowman and take a few trips down the small hill on the side of our house in the sled. I mean really, the northeast has gotten buried among 2-3 feet of snow, Utah is having record snowfall, Texas had a blizzard, and Arizona, did you hear that, even Arizona got snowfall. But each storm has managed to just miss us here in Virginia. Where's the love?

There are reports of a snow storm making its way to the east by Wednesday, but as the many snow storms before it, the prediction is that it will just miss our area by a hair. I heard on WTOP the other day that the last significant snow we had in March was 1999. I suppose it is time to admit that this may be my only chance to post any pictures of the kids having fun in the snow this year.
January 24th, I was awoken by a phone call from the Public Information Officer stating that school was on a two hour delay. This is a new concept that I haven't quite gotten used to yet this year; getting a phone call from the county letting you know when the school is delayed or closed due to inclement weather. How far we have come from the days when I was in school. The kids were biting at my heals to get outside, jumping up and down, and screaming that it snowed.
Above, Sophia is making her best snow angel out of what little snow there was. After much testing, it was decided the driveway was the best spot.
They loved chasing each other around the yard, and up and down the hill. It was the most insignificant snowfall but you couldn't tell that to these two. You would have thought they found Heaven on Earth. Although it could have cabin fever that caused their eagerness to get their snowsuits on and be outside- to play, jump, slide, throw, roll, run, and laugh in the glorious white landscape.

Just look at those smiles. Wouldn't you wish for an inch or two just to experience the rush of adrenaline and pure excitement that is the ultimate snow day? Ah, to relive my childhood; to feel alive and enjoy the day without trepidation. If I could get just one day of that, it will have been worth all the headache of stock piling essentials while dodging the masses at our local supermarket, enduring the boredom of missing school, and the labor intensive task of cleaning off cars and shoveling the driveway. Snow Gods, if you are out there, please hear my prayer and send us some snow.
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Monday, February 18, 2013

I {heart} Valentines

Valentines Day didn't go exactly as expected. Not that I ever really expect much. I mean, to be honest, the day of "love" has always been that day I secretly anticipate, yet equally loath all at the same time.
In my younger years, I never really cared too much for the day as my coupledom status hardly ever seemed to fall on this commercially enhanced holiday. And when it did, the guy never remembered.

Looking back, my most fond memories of Valentines Day are not about some guy I had a crush on and skipped 5th period math just to watch as my singing valentine was delivered to his lunch table. No, I fondly recall my father sneaking into my bedroom before heading out to work at the ungodly hour of 5am. I'd lay there in bed, eyes closed, pretending to be asleep as we would leave me a gift on my night table. Usually I'd wait until I heard his car engine start and then fade, as he drove down the street, before turning on my light and searching for what he left.

It was usually a bag of candy hearts or a box of chocolates, something Valentine related, and an envelope with my name on it. You know guys are not usually the mushy, talk about your feelings type. My Dad is different. I could always go to him with anything that was on my mind. It is a unique trait that I have always cherished in my relationship with him. Still, sometimes you just can't get out what you want to say, so a perfectly picked card would do the trick. And my dad always was the best at picking out cards that touched the heart. I suppose this is where I got my habit for giving cards and little gifts to those I love.

But I digress.

Valentines 2013 was a morning when I hit the snooze button longer than I should, foiling my plans to get up before the kids and have some spectacular Valentine breakfast waiting for them to devour before school. Instead, it was the same old routine of struggling to get Sophie dressed and down the stairs. Breakfast wasn't anything more than cream cheese on a bagel, orange juice, and gummy vitamins.  Then I hurriedly threw together the day's snack while my much needed cup of joe was brewing.
The day before, I spent all afternoon in the kitchen baking (and all evening decorating) heart shaped cookies for a bunch of Kindergartners. You see, I felt I was neglecting Mason's school year by not having signed up to be a room parent in his classroom as well. So I wanted to do my part and felt cookies were innocent enough. I made a cream cheese sugar cookie recipe I found online. Next time I think I will stick to the timeless sugar cookie recipe, as I had to improvise on this one just to get it to be dough like, and the cream cheese added a little too much tartness for my taste. But in a taste test with the kids, they got a thumbs up.
Don't they look yummy? After all my hard work, I was anxious to get them to the party but at the moment, my only thought was to devour my hot, delicious cup of coffee, so I could stay awake long enough to make it till the afternoon. 

It was just before the first alarm, letting me know that Sophie had 5 minutes to scarf down whatever food was left and get ready for carpool, that Mason mentioned he didn't feel so well. He said he was dizzy and I could tell he was a bit pale as I approached him. His skin was on fire and I told him to sit on the couch as I went to the medicine cabinet for the thermometer. 101. I checked two more times for good measure, but as much as I wished it to, the number on the LCD didn't change.

Woo. Hoo. Taking care of a sick child wasn't exactly how I wanted to spend my Valentines Day, yet oddly, it was enough. Fred had a meeting in Winchester, so the kids and I spent the afternoon watching Disney Junior, decorating our Valentine mailboxes, and attempting to rest. The process of getting my children to sit still and rest when they have a fever is a bit like telling a dog not to bark. Still, I managed to get them both down for a nap and had a few quiet moments to handcraft some Valentine cards.

Soon Fred arrived home with a gift from the kids.
Truly the most unique roses I have ever received. Mason has always been the best at picking flowers, in fact he gets super upset if Fred buys me flowers without him. Clearly the phone call they shared earlier was regarding which roses to get me, and Mason made the perfect choice again.

Fred also bought me another beautiful Orchid.
Purple of course. Isn't it beautiful? Having flowers in my house, and longer than the average two days or so that roses tend to last (a green thumb I am not), really brightens up the place. I smile every time I walk into the kitchen.

For dinner, I had planned to make a lovely roasted chicken with homemade rolls but with Mason under the weather we enjoyed tacos and red wine instead. After an early bedtime, Fred and I settled down for another viewing of the West Wing series. Every few months or so, we watch the entire series of West Wing because really it is that good.

It might not have been the traditional, overly romantic evening that hollywood has us dreaming about, but as each year passes, I find it doesn't matter what we do: spending a quiet evening at home curled up on the couch with popcorn, Twizzlers, and maybe a beer or a glass of wine, watching Big Bang Theory, or having a nice dinner out at Ruth's Chris--together is always enough.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Celebrating 90 years

Fred's Grandfather, Grandad Briggs as we call him, turned 90 years old this month.
We celebrated with a small get together of family and friends. What an amazing thing to have lived for 90 years. The things he has experienced, lived through, and accomplished are truly fascinating. I love hearing all the stories and feel so honored that me and my family get to be a part of his current and future stories.
After a delicious lunch of Grandma Vedas famous chicken chalupas, we enjoyed some cake made by Lisa, their neighbor. They are a lovely family whose two boys are allergic to peanuts as well. (An interesting tidbit, out of the five kids at the party, four have a peanut allergy.) It's been nice to able to get together, where there is a delicious home cooked meal, and not have to worry about the food causing a reaction. Equally, it has been nice to chat with a fellow allergy Mom, whose kids are older, sharing stories, giving support, and exchanging tips we've learned along the way. 

After catching up with everyone and playing a few rounds of table tennis, (the boys always have to battle, and as of this trip, Uncle Keith had yet to be beaten in a game. That was until Chris, the neighbor, dethroned the champion to a chorus of applause), it was present and picture time. 

Recently the microwave in Grandad's workshop, where he heats up his coffee, broke. Needless to say his favorite gift was a brand new microwave. 
We joked that our future relatives will look at this picture and wonder why in the world Grandad was posing with a microwave?
Here is the man of the hour with his wife, Grandma Veda. Aren't they just so cute? I look at them and think, this is where I want to be at their age. So incredibly happy and content with life. They are the model of marriage, love, and friendship.
Here they are with their kids and their spouses. 
Unfortunately this one is blurry, but here is the Briggs clan. Four Generations. 
And the entire gang. Here we are, all of us: me and my family, including my mom, dad, and sister; Uncle Keith and his wife, Janie; Aunt Janet, Uncle Eric, and Amanda; My father-in-law, his wife, Heather, and their son, Aiden; Heather's parents, Grandma and Grandad; and the neighbors, Chris and Lisa, and their two sons. 

I feel so blessed to have so much family living this close that we can have moments like this, celebrating milestones in each others lives, and being in the company of those we love. 

Happy 90th Grandad!!
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Monday, January 14, 2013

January 2013

2013 was rung in with our good friends, the Butlers. They hosted a small get together at their home. It is always a treat spending time with them, as Mason and Sophie get along so well with their girls, she has three. Her youngest, about 7 months at the time, is such a happy baby. She would scream with excitement, to which Sophie would cover her ears and Mason would laugh. Veronica was truly entertaining.

The kids brought over their LeapPads, and lets just say that was the BEST IDEA EVER! Mason, Sophie, Genevieve, and Aubrey disappeared almost immediately and non-stop played with the LeapPads all night. I think Shelly and Gabe have a new purchase to make.

The adults spent the night drinking, laughing, and reminiscing till it was time to count down. Poor Aubrey and Mason were passed out by 10pm, while Sophie and Genevieve were still rockin'. I totally thought Sophie would make it till midnight. Then at 11:50pm we looked over and there she was looking so cute fast asleep on the couch. 10 minutes, she had only ten minutes left! Oh well, there is always next year.

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