Monday, December 29, 2008

Five Christmases

Have you seen the movie "Four Christmases"? If you have not, I highly recommend seeing it for many great laughs. I mention this movie because my life at Christmastime is very similar. Only thankfully, I do not have to do all of the family gatherings in one day. I am blessed be able to spread it through the week of Christmas. Sometimes it is over a span of two weeks, depending on every one's schedules. As stressful as it can be trying to remember the days, times, what to bring, gifts, etc, I love it. Love getting a chance to have the family together. Love the great food (my waistline does not!). Love playing with my nieces and nephews. Love watching my kids play with their cousins. Love catching up with family members.
Due to the high volume of Christmas gatherings, this post will be long. I will try my best to whittle down as much as possible the pictures.

Gray Family

This is with my mother-in-law's side of the family. For many reasons, this year was much smaller. But we all still had a great time and the kids played and played. So much that I felt like my kids were not even there! This picture does not show Joshua....he just was not in the mood to have his picture taken. I'll just leave it at that. I love my 2 year old! :)

Cantrell Family

The next family gathering was with my father-in-law's side of the family. Julie (my sister-in-law) and her family could not make it down from VA this year, so it was just my two kids. It was so strange not having 6 kids running around the house. But Jason's cousins Amber and Troy made up for that and played so much with them. Thank you both for doing that!

Sammi and Josh with their great-grandfather (Poppie)

Troy (Jason's cousin), Haley (Troy's fiance, Amber (Jason's cousin), Jason, and me. After seeing this picture, I am never wearing that unflattering sweater again!

Mauk Family

Every Christmas Eve, we spend the evening at my mother-in-law's house. Again, without Julie and her family, it was strange just having my two kids there instead of 6. In the past we always wore our pj's, but the past couple of years not everyone did. But I kept my kids in them. It makes it much easier to take them straight to bed after a long night.

TJ (Jason's step-brother), Kelsey (TJ's girlfriend), and Travis (Jason's step-brother)

Joshua giving his Grandmommy (Jason's mom) a kiss.
Great-Grandmommy (Jason's grandmother), me, and Jason. I love his Grandmother! She is an amazing woman that makes me feel like her own granddaughter.

Jones/Rodriguez Family

First, I have to say how lucky I am that my parents, who are divorced, get along so well! We combined my dad and mom's Christmas gatherings and spent the day at my dad's house. It was so nice and as always, the cousins played and played.

I love this picture! My mom gave the kids these huge stockings filled with everything they love. She has always been great when it comes to filling stockings with great things for each person.
Ahhh, my second favorite picture. You can't have a day go by without a 2 year old crying because he didn't get his way. A constant in my house right now, but I love looking at this picture. It makes me laugh! You can see Jason on the side trying to get him to stop. Ha!

The cousins with their reindeer hats. Notice someone missing? That seems to be a trend doesn't it?

Granddad (my dad) with his grandkids.

Our Christmas

Sammi putting out Santa's milk and cookies. She put out reindeer food (oats and glitter) in the backyard.
I love this picture of Sammi. It is exactly the reaction we had hoped for when she saw her very own Barbie Dreamhouse. After staying up until 2 am that morning putting it together, I had visions of what my poor parents went through when I was a kid. Thanks mom and dad!

All Joshua asked Santa for was Mack from the movie Cars. He barely stopped playing with it to open more presents.
Joshua also got from Santa a tool workbench. I think I saw Jason shed a tear watching him play with all of the tools. :)

What a mess!

Whew! I am tired from typing so much and messing with all of the pictures. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas filled with joy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Feel Good Day

I had a moment of clarity today that I just had to write about.
A few weeks ago I decided that I should start going through my kids toys to make room for what was to come at Christmas. It's amazing to see what all is buried at the bottom of their toy box or stuffed in their closet. So many toys not being used. Some good enough to resell on Craig's List. So I got several big items, cleaned them up, and posted them on Craig's List. A few bites, but no one serious to come and pick it up. Annoying since I marked them cheap! I re posted them again and was griping to Jason about how I don't know why they aren't selling, excellent condition, good price, blah blah blah.
Last night Jason was up at the American Legion (location for military peeps to hang out) to help with something when one of the members was telling him about how they adopted a family this year and no one was giving anything for the family. She goes to explain that it is actually one large family with 3 families combined. Several kids under the age of 3, disabled parents, etc. They were not going to be getting anything for Christmas. That just isn't right and breaks my heart to hear that. Jason came home to tell me about their situation and how we should give to them what I have been trying to sell. Ding ding! What a great idea! I talked to Samantha about what it means to give and how some children aren't as fortunate as she is and might not have any toys for them on Christmas. I teared up just telling her about it. She then went back to her room to get more toys she thought we should give them.
This afternoon I got everything together, went through their toys again and loaded up Jason's truck to deliver all of the toys. They mentioned that clothes were needed too and I have friends that I normally give the hand me downs to. Not this time, I took the bags of clothes as well and we drove it to the Legion after we had Santa pictures tonight. When we came in with all of the bags of toys and clothes, the people there were astonished at how much we brought. Many thank yous were given.
That was the best feeling ever, knowing that we will help make several children smile on Christmas.
Oh, I sold Samantha's play kitchen a few weeks ago and accidentally under priced it. But it was too late, I couldn't go back and delete it or lie to the people that were wanting to purchase it. I mean, I under priced it BIG TIME, by at least $35 less than what I should have asked. I don't know what I was thinking when I typed in the asking price. When the man came to pick it up, I asked if it was going to be used for a Christmas present. He said that his brother lost his wife to cancer a few months ago and they had adopted 6 young foster kids before she was diagnosed last year and how he doesn't have enough money to give all 6 kids a really good gift, but now one 3 year old was. Uh, that sealed it right there. I did the right thing and it doesn't always have to be about money.
I hope all of you get the chance to know what it feels like to help someone else in need. It is a wonderful feeling!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Doughnuts With Santa

Sammi's school PTA hosted Doughnuts With Santa this year. We went over a week ago and yes, I am just now getting around to posting it. While Jason finished putting more Christmas lights on the house, I took the princess and Tasmanian Devil. Just what TD needed, more sugar! I was going to be so good and not give into the sweet temptation of the sugary goodness and just sit there with the kids while they ate theirs. Well, after the first doughnut that Joshua just ate the top off of, I took a bite of his. That was the beginning of my downward spiral. I ate two AND chocolate milk. It has been over a week and I still feel horrible about giving in too easily. Where is my willpower?
Joshua eats just the top, so after eating the top of 4, I would think that equated to 1 full doughnut. Dontcha think? A mom and her kids from Sammi's class sat with us and I told her that Joshua hardly eats anything, but he managed to eat 4, thinking I would get a laugh out of that. No. Not even a chuckle. Then her daughter asked her if she could have another doughnut (this would top it to a whopping 2 for her), to which her mom quickly and sternly replied "no, you do not need so much sugar". So here I sat quietly, after telling her my son ate 4 (I should have told her not the entire thing!) feeling like a horrible mother for allowing my son to eat ALL of that sugar when Mrs. Perfect-Mother-Who-monitors-Her-Children's-Sugar-Intake would only allow 1. I know, I am really hard on myself, but I felt awful! I could just feel her glaring at Joshua who had icing all over his face. He he, I kind of laugh now thinking of what could have been going through her head.
Who couldn't tell their son who eats next to nothing "no" when he is devouring his doughnut like this? Clearly not me!
While waiting in a really long line to get their picture taken with Santa, they took a break. I couldn't pass up a photo-op of my son sitting still!
I have no idea why this picture uploaded so small. Joshua chickened out when it came down to sitting on Santa's lap. But who can blame on the picture to enlarge it and look at Santa's face. Where are the glasses? And could he please try to look happy to be there and have a beautiful girl posing for a picture with him? He just flat out looks like a very unhappy Santa with a bad attitude.
Snooty mom and attitude-filled Santa aside, we had fun!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

So Tired....

I was nicely kicked out of my house last night to make room for a guys-only poker night. I packed the kids and headed to my friend Jennifer's house. Her son is between Sammi and Josh in age and they play together amazingly...minus the scuffles over a toy that someone is not ready to share. It is usually my son that is the instigator. :) Anyways, us girls watched some movies while the kids played. I took us all home around 11. Sammi left to go to another room much earlier to go to sleep. I love that in her. When she is ready to go to sleep, she just does it. I'm the same way. She could be watching her favorite movie and when she is tired, she will just close her eyes and drift off to slumber-land.

Anyways, when I got home, 6 guys were left still playing poker. I was pleased to find out that my honey won! I got my second wind and ended up staying up with them until past 2 am! I don't know the first thing about playing poker, but I had fun watching. I wound up being the official cutter of the deck. Hey, it gave me some way to be involved in the game.

My early bird was up at 6:00 am! What the??? That kid did not go to sleep until 11:30 last night and he was the reason why I left Jennifer's house so that he would go to sleep. He never sleeps at their house. He and her son Aidan will play and play. So I managed to eek in about 4 hours of sleep (at best), then we headed to church. First time I almost fell asleep there. We get home and I am seriously a walking zombie. I had flashbacks of how it was having a newborn baby and functioning on very little sleep. You know you are super tired when you give your kids a horrible, thrown together lunch that did not have all major food groups. It was bad. I don't even want to put in writing what I gave them! All I could think about was going to take a nap when Joshua does. I even didn't want to get up off the couch when Sammi asked so nicely for me to get her some strawberries. Pathetic!

So please, dear friends, comment to this post and help make me feel better by telling me you have been in this position: so tired you just don't want to be mommy or anything other than sleeping!

And yes, I am blogging right now instead of napping. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Fun

I must start this post by saying that Blogger is frustrating me!! The picture upload is not working, so I could not put up all of the pictures. Did I just hear someone cheer and say "Yea!!". How dare you. :) Never you fret, I will keep trying and put them up on another post....they are from Sammi's school event, Doughnuts With Santa.
Last Friday night we headed up to Keller's Holly Days. It was freaking cold and we almost didn't make it. That and the parking was awful! But we got there in the nick of time to see the parade and the kids loved it. Their favorite was not Santa, but the horses with lights on them. A few pooped in front of us and made mine and other kids around us laugh and constantly point at it. Why do kids find poop and talking about it so funny?
Like Jason's gloves? He could not find them and was forced to wear his Craftsman gloves that are meant to wear when working on an engine. But hey, they kept his hands more warm than not wearing anything at all! That reminds me, I should get him some for Christmas.
The kids waving at Santa.

Other than fighting with Joshua to keep his mittens on his hands, it was fun! Sammi pouted on the way back to the car because she did not get to see Santa and tell him what she wanted for Christmas. That and she didn't get to go down the snow hill. The lines were incredibly long and it was way too cold to wait that long. Sorry sweetie!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day at the Christmas Tree Farm

My most favorite Christmas tradition is by far going to a tree farm and cutting down our own Christmas tree. I grew up doing this every year, the day after Thanksgiving. Some years other families came with us, some years it was just us. I loved the hunt of it all. Walking and walking until we found just the right tree. The right height. The right girth. When I was young, I made up games to play with other kids that came with us. After my parents divorced, my mom still took my sister and I to get a tree. That was mainly my dad's tradition, but it spoke volumes to us that my mom still continued it for us. My mom has probably over 15 years worth of pictures of the family standing in front of the tree we picked, or of just me and Meredith. I love looking back and looking at the clothes that were in style at the time, my horrible make up and hair that I thought looked good. You know, laughing at ourselves.

When Jason and I were dating and I had my own apartment, even he got into my tradition and went with me to find a tree. Since then we have continued carrying on that beloved tradition.
This is the first year when Sammi was 1 1/2 months old. Gosh, I look really tired and I didn't even do my, I don't miss the days of having a newborn!
This is my most favorite picture of Jason with Sammi. She was 2 then.

Ah, here I am HUGE and pregnant with Joshua. I still had 2 months before having him and look how big I was! Sheesh! I love Sammi with pigtails. She was 3.

The next year with Sammi (4) and Joshua (10 months). It must have been warm from the looks of what we were wearing.

That was a fun trip down memory lane! I couldn't find 2003 and 2007. Hmmm....BUT, here is this year's trip. We go to a place in Lindale and just love it. This year they painted several bales of hay. The kids loved it, but Joshua was being his usual self (a toot!) and didn't want to be in the picture. As always, Sammi obliged.

My two favorite men, besides my dad, on the hayride. I love Jason's random "shout outs" to Nascar and his fraternity from over 10 years ago. Joshua was mad that he couldn't ride the big tractor that pulled us.

It was super windy that day. I think this picture was take 5 because my hair kept getting in my face.
A Sammi-sized tree. She really wanted this to put in her bedroom.
Kudos to Jason for volunteering to take pictures of me and the kids. He must have really listened a few months ago when I whined about never being in the pictures because I'm always the one taking them.
No, this is not the tree we bought. Can you imagine having a house big enough for this to fit in?
Now this is more like it. A perfect 10 foot tree, just for us! By the time we found this, the kids were whining about walking so much or getting stickers in their socks.
Jason showing off his master tree cutting skillz.

Dragging the tree to get picked up.

Waiting for the tractor to pick us and the tree up.

They had a small campfire set up. Joshua immediately took to his Alpha Male tendencies to poke at the fire with a stick.

This picture is showing Sammi not being happy that we were telling her it was time to go. Yep, she threw a mini-tantrum.

I hope everyone is enjoying the Holiday season!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Weekend Away From It All!

I know, this is a week late, but hey it has been a crazy week! The weekend before Thanksgiving, I went on a scrapbook retreat with my two favorite scrap booking buddies to an amazing place in Temple. We left at 1 on Thursday and didn't look back until we had to sadly leave on Sunday.

If you scrapbook, this is the way to do it: go to a place that caters to scrap booking with tables, lighting, food, and a great place to sleep. I go twice a year and it always comes at the most perfect time when I need a good break. This time around proved that theory well again.

My two friends that went already read all or most of the Twilight series books and we were there the day the movie Twilight opened. I have not read them but was game to go see a movie since that event is rare in my life. It was a really good movie! Since we were in Temple, we did not have a crowd to contend with on opening day. In fact, we thought we were stuck in Bizzar-o World because it was like we were sitting in the middle of a day care. There were so many small kids there! Really. One scene was scary for them so we had to deal with crying kids and hearing their parents huff off to take them outside. That was really annoying. But now I am ready to read those books!

I got a lot of pages done (over 35!), laughed a lot with my friends, relaxed, slept in, and ate a ton. All of our meals were cooked for us. I hate trying to figure out what to cook for lunch and dinner so I loved not having to think about that. And the food was good! There was also a goodie table, so we probably ate something once an hour. I got home and my favorite jeans were a tad snug. Ugh!

The bonus for me was coming home to happy kids and a happy husband. Jason had to deal with taking both kids to Sammi's soccer game, which I found out was the one event over the weekend where he thought "I really need Alli here". Hearing that made me smile and laugh inside. BUT, he managed to do laundry AND put them away (this chore seems to fall on my shoulders) and changed the oil in my car. I told him I am going to go away like that more often! I missed them, but I did not miss changing diapers, filling sippy cups, cooking, and cleaning for 3 1/2 days.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is It In The Water??

I have been sick in bed this afternoon and am so bored! So my mind wanders and thinks about random things. That is when it hit me: I have so many friends and family pregnant right now! Normally it comes in waves, but not now. I counted 2 family members and 6 friends that are currently pregnant. 3 of them I found out just these past 2 weeks. Exciting news! I know this really doesn't mean much to you, but it does to me and I just had to write about it. That means 8 babies I am now praying about, 8 mommies to check in on, and 8 baby gifts. I love it!
Congratulations to Casey, Jodi, Rebecca, Emily, Karris, Chelsea, Misty and Abby!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just Call Me Schneider

Remember Schneider from "One Day At A Time" who was the general fix-it handy man? Well I have been feeling like him a lot lately. I have a list of things I have wanted to do around the house. The sizes of the project range from big (put in french doors and wood flooring) to small (touch up painting here and there, replace some fixtures). Since I have been home, I really want to take full advantage of being home and knock off some items on the list. I have lived in this house for almost 7 years and it frustrates me that some things have taken me this long to do. But my weekends consisted of laundry, cleaning, and playing with the kids. Home improvement was not a priority, yet I would gripe and whine about some of the things anyways. :)
Several things have been knocked off the list or in the process, but I am really proud of this small one. Because I did it ALL BY MYSELF! I was determined to replace the kids bathroom sink faucet myself instead of normally turning it over to Jason. Jason is super-duper handy and it just annoys me sometimes at how he can just tackle something he has never done before and make it seem easy and flawless. Now don't get me wrong, there have been many things he has done that took a lot longer than it should and probably cost more than having a pro do it, but he did it anyways and was proud. Me too.
I read and re-read the instructions on this darn faucet just bound and determined to do it myself. At first while reading it, it seemed really simple. I took everything out from under the sink, knowing I would be crammed under trying to work on it. One thing the instructions left out: how to take out the existing faucet. Yea. It took me a long time, but I did it. Now I won't lie, I did consult Jason once about the freaking drain. What a pain in my rear! I had no clue how all of that was originally connected, sealed, etc. He showed me and then I was good to go. The hardest part was connecting the lever to the drain that raised and lowered it. But I did it and I feel so good about it!
This is the faucet before. Everything else I replaced in their bathroom is brushed nickel. I did that when Sammi is a baby, if that says how long the bathroom sat with a brass faucet.

And here is the new faucet! I found an amazing builders surplus store near us and got this for a steal. I was curious to find out just how good their prices really were. So I went to Home Depot to price the exact faucet. Home Depot price: $100. Builder Surplus price: $50. I'm not kidding. I was floored and the huge price difference!

So there you have it, my sole home improvement project! My kitchen counters are almost done (thank goodness!), which I will post when that happens.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sammi & Mommy's Day Of Fun

While Sammi was home all day on her birthday this year, I was at the hospital while my dad underwent 11 hour back & spine surgery. Jason stayed home with the kids and Sammi's birthday fell on a day off from school. My plan was to get home by dinner so that we could at least have a birthday dinner and cake. Didn't happen. My dad didn't get out until after 10 pm from surgery and Jason eased my mind by telling me to stay at the hospital until he was out. My brother in law came up that night from Austin with Sammi's cousins Nic, Will, and Kate. At least she would have fun playing with them that night. I just felt so bad not being home with her on her actual birthday. It must be a woman/mommy thing to wreck ourselves with guilt. But I knew I would feel bad not being at the hospital with my sister and two aunts while my dad underwent the long surgery.
My sister Meredith had a great idea for me to have a day where it was just Sammi and I and do fun things together to make up for not being with her on her birthday. Loved the idea!
So off we went the following Monday for Sammi & Mommy's Day of Fun! I kept calling it that the day before and day of. Sammi loved it. I picked her up from school and we went to Chili's for lunch. One of her favorite places to eat. As you can see, she is drinking some blue slushy drink and giving blue smile. As we were eating she said "I like it just being the two of us" and said that several times throughout the day. It brought tears to my eyes! I realized that we do not do enough alone things with her like she needs.

After lunch we went to Wal Mart to return a duplicate birthday gift as well as cash in a couple of gift cards she got. Those are the best gifts! Letting her pick out her own toys was so much fun to watch. Below she is showing off her new toys....Baby Dr. Barbie, some little poodle in a carrier, and a new dog for her Lil' Luvables. She is really into dogs and their own little carriers. This makes 5 of all different sizes she has.
After shopping we headed to Sweet n' Sassy in Southlake for a manicure. She is a tom boy like I was, but she still loves her girly things. This was her first professional manicure and was hooked! They were so nice to her and treated her like a queen. I really had to help guide her on the nail polish color. She wanted everything from neon green to Big Bird yellow. She settled on a coral color with a flower on her middle finger nail. Not the best finger to put that on. The rest of the day and week when she showed others the flower, she was flipping them off to show it. Yikes!

They gave her glittery purple stars on her cheek... to pick out a lollipop and then let her walk down the runway. That is usually used for birthday parties but we were the only ones in there and let her strut her stuff.

It was as much of a fun day for Mommy as it was for Sammi! I need to do this more often!