Saturday, December 23, 2006

December 23, 2006

Today, we've been doing last minute preparations for Christmas. However, it has been a very relaxing and enjoyable day.

We visited with our neighbor and took her a Christmas arrangement. She is a wonderful neighbor and we are so lucky to have her!!

Paul went to the movies with a couple of my cousins while I cooked my dish for Christmas Eve. I signed up for Keilbasa and Kraut and it is an all day process. Alot of work, but soooooo worth it!!

Aidan and I also made cookies for Santa. He thought Monster Cookies would be Santa's favorite this year. They are good, but I really don't think Santa was on his mind when they chose the delicious cookies with peanut butter, M&M's and butterscotch chips. Aidan is a sucker for M&M's with or without Santa!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

December 22, 2006

In an effort to make Christmas Eve a little less chaotic, I've created a plan. Whether it works or not will be a fate determined in a few short days.

As part of my plan, I'm trying to prepare Aidan. Tonight, during dinner, the following conversation took place:

Jenny: "Aidan, on Christmas Eve the adults are going to play a couple of games and the kids are going to work on a craft project. THEN we will open gifts."

Aidan: "Is it Christmas Eve today?!"

Jenny: "No, not for a couple of more days, but I just wanted to let you know that we are not opening gifts until after dinner and after the games. I don't want you to keep asking when we are going to open presents. OK?"

Aidan: "OK mom."

after a few minutes later.

Aidan: "Mom?"

Jenny: "Yes, Aidan?"

Aidan: "When are the games gonna be over?"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

December 21, 2006

Tonight is another "Family" night for us. After dinner, we played games and are currently watching (it is a commericial break and this will be a quick entry) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Aidan has been really into dancing lately. Whenever a song comes on he starts dancing up a storm. One of his favorite dance songs righ now is "Shake Your Tail Feathers" by Ray Charles. He thinks he is Donald Duck. It is too are some pics. Enjoy. I'm going to get back to my family night....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

December 20, 2006

I have been so giddy at work the last couple of days in the anticipation of Christmas. I'm starting to get on my co-workers nerves. One of my co-workers asked, "This is the most excited that I have seen an adult about Christmas ever, what do you love about it? Not that I don't love it, but the magic is usually gone by the time you are an adult." Well, I have thought alot about her question. The thing that I really love about Christmas is Christmas Eve. I love to gather with my extended family on Christmas Eve. I love everything about it. I love what it means to our family, I love how excited the kids are, I love playing games and I love just being with everyone on that night. My cousin, Kandi, commented on a previous blog entry regarding a night with my cousins. In her comment she said, "We truly have a wonderful family!" I couldn't agree with her more! I don't know why this comment stuck in my head, but I haven't stopped thinking about it all day. Sure, we have our differences (and sometimes alot of them.), but that doesn't matter. In the end, we make it all work. Since it has been on my mind all day, I thought I should write about some things that I think make our family truly wonderful:

We like to laugh. No matter what we are doing, someone is always laughing. I could insert a story about my cousin and crabs, but I'll spare him tonight. Although, I'm sure he's expecting the story to appear on my blog somewhere, sometime....because it is one of my favorite stories about him. I'll consider it my Christmas gift to him and spare him for now. Laughing is part of who we are. I especially love it when my dad or any of his brothers laugh. Their laughter just takes over their entire body.

We are extremely close. The majority of us live within a 15 minute radius of each other. We see each other and do things with each other often. For instance, I get together to scrapbook with my aunt and cousin, just because. When I was little, I can remember loading our bikes in the car and driving over to the street where my grandparents and 3 of my cousins lived, just to ride our bikes and sit on the driveway and visit. Our two biggest celebrations of the year are Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. There are approximately 30 of us who gather at my uncle's house each year on these holidays. It is complete and utter chaos....but it is home and I wouldn't spend those holidays any other way.

We help each other out. It doesn't matter what differences we may have, if one of us needs help all we have to do is ask. When my moms brother died unexpectedly she was frantic about getting everything done. She was helping my aunt plan the funeral, helping her get her affairs in order, not to mention, her emotions. All she had to do was make one call to my dads brother and say, "can you handle the funeral luncheon?" was done. None of us knew any details, we just went back home after the funeral and everything was handled. There was enough food to feed an army and everyone was there. It is nice that they do things like this, but the fact that we KNOW we can count of them is even nicer.

Speaking of food, you will never walk away hungry in our family and you are always, ALWAYS welcome. Paul remembers, one of his first gatherings with our family. Someone made the comment to him, "if you walk away hungry, it is your own fault." Likewise, it is not uncommon for a strange face to appear at Thanksgiving dinner or the Christmas Eve party and be told the same thing. When they do, no one bats an eye. We welcome anyone to join our family, no matter the reason. Hey, if you can handle us for the evening, you deserve to stuff your face!

Food Funny: It was one of the first years that my cousin Kandi's boyfriend (now husband) Chuck, ate Thanksgiving dinner with us. That evening, they went back to Kandi's mom and dads house. My uncle Keith starting pulling leftovers out of the refrigerator.

Uncle Keith: "Chuck, do you want to eat some leftovers."
Chuck: "Oh, no thanks. I'm not the least bit hungry."
Uncle Keith: (looking baffled and fully intending on eating no matter what Chucks response is) "Well, neither am I?"

I just had to tell that story because it makes me laugh so hard EVERY time I think of it...I can just picture the look on my uncles face as he says these words.

I know alot of people who don't have this kind of relationship in their family or that do not WANT this kind of relationship in their family. I know we are lucky to live so close to each other and that is part of what makes it work. In fact, the same co-worker that I mention in the beginning of this entry just shook her head as I told her about our cousins weekend. She stood there staring at me and said, "man, I just can't imagine seeing that many of my family at one time. It would be so stressful for me and I would definitely not look forward to any holiday like that." It makes me sad that she feels that way. I love my family and I don't know what I would do withouth them....I can't wait to see them all on Christmas Eve!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

December 19, 2006

Last night was THE most relaxing advent evening we’ve had yet!! What did we do? NOTHING!!!!

After dinner, because Aidan had made some very good choices that day (see previous posts), I told him that he could open the packages that came in the mail from our cousins, Bruce and Therese, a couple of weeks ago. (Secretly, I knew they were ornaments and I knew he would be thrilled to hang them on the tree.) Along with the ornaments came the game, Hi-Ho! Cherry –O!

We made hot chocolate, turned on the Christmas music and played 20+ games of Hi-Ho! Cherry-O! After the games, we read several Christmas books, including the newest book that his teacher bought him for Christmas. It has been the first time in a long time that we didn’t have the television on.

Paul and I were talking after Aidan went to sleep about how nice it was to do absolutely nothing and spend quality time together, just the three of us. I can’t wait to do the same thing tonight! I’m also planning it, so that we can have a couple more of those nights this week. I can’t think of a more perfect way to spend our final nights of Advent!

Monday, December 18, 2006

December 18, 2006

We spent yesterday afternoon celebrating Christmas with my moms sister and 2 of my cousins (and their families). It was a very relaxing afternoon. My aunt had lunch for us and then we sat around chit-chatting. After the kids opened their gifts, we played with some of their board games. It was great fun!

Aunt Sally helping Kaylee work with her new knitting kit.

Aidan and Kaylee doing gymnastics in the very spacious basement!

And here is the Christmas Miracle!! Uncle Jim and Aunt Sally bought Aidan a UofM football. This is amazing because Uncle Jim is the biggest State fan that I know! What a true gift of the heart!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 17, 2006

Last night was "Christmas with the Cousins." It has been the first time that, that many of us have been together in a very long time. We had a blast!! Most of us met up at my cousins, Chrissy and Scotts house. From there, we drove to the Whirlyball courts. The courts were about 45 minutes away and we laughed the entire trip....mostly at my expense and lack of knowledge of how a diesel engine works!!

Whirlyball was a hoot! I have played one other time, but everyone else was considered Whirlyball Virgins. It is a game played from electric bumber cars, where you try and toss a whiffle ball into a basketball type hoop with a plastic scoop. Because we had an even number, we played guys against girls. The girls got skunked, but we had an unbelievable time and made memories to last a life time.

After Whirlyball, we all went out to dinner and enjoyed an evening of good food, good drinks and even better company. It was our first "Christmas with the Cousins" outing and I hope it becomes an annual tradition.

Thanks to all of you for making this such a special night out!! By the way, I hope Todd and Lori remembered to plug their car in so they could make their 4 hour trek home this morning!! :-)