Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Recap

The Holidays are officially winding down.  So sad.  To relive that biggest of happy days I'm including LOTS of pictures.  I could do slides - but I plan to print this someday and slides don't print so well in a book.

We woke the kids up with Maddie's new "tradition" request...we blare the Christmas music in the house and wait for everyone to get out of bed.  After one second of music playing Maddie jumped out of her room...she'd already been up, gotten dressed for church and tried to cover it up with her robe.  So much for traditions...

We headed downstairs where we opened stockings.  The dog was not to be left out!

We got back from church and took some quick pictures.  I really need a self-timer so we can take a family shot!

Good looking kids!

Mike and Jake had special ties for Christmas.

And of girls couldn't be left out!

We flew upstairs to change into clothes (though Jake tried to convince us to skip that and just open gifts all dolled up...).  We flew back downstairs to rip into the goodies!

I absolutely love all the expressions that come with Christmas gift opening...

There's the frustrated...this was great because we refused to help her and she was kept occupied for quite awhile!

The surprised...

The relieved...

And we have our traditions of reusing bows...we're so green!

We all have to save our "big" gifts for last to open.  This year Mike got me a Nook Reader!

I gave Mike a Roku this year.  It streams something for the t.v.  Of course, the day after I bought this for him he told me, "Should anyone be buying me a Roku, they might also consider looking at the Blu-Ray from Sam's Club.  I can't decide which I like better."  I decided for him and kept the Roku I'd already gotten on sale.

I was very excited for each of the kids' gifts this year.

First up was Jake.  We generally use some pretty weird boxes to wrap gifts.  Most are leftover from other packages and a lot are leftover from electronic stuff Mike has delivered here.  Hence, we never can trust what is actually on the outside of the box.

Jake proceeded to start opening his gift and said, "Oh look - I got a camera just like Maddie got."

Then he opened the box..."Wait a minute..."

It was all charged up and ready to go!

Here's another face I love at Christmas...anticipation!

I think she was pretty shocked at what she found...

This year she got a phone for Christmas.  I believe her exact words were, "This is SO. DANG. COOL!"

After our house we headed to my parents' to celebrate the day with my family.  We started with our traditional family picture.

This took three takes and each one had some flaws, but that's how we are right now.  Lots of little kids means you just never know what you are going to get!

As bribery Tracy had told everyone that when the good picture was taken we could take a silly picture with stuffed animals...

That could be my new favorite picture!

Then it was all hands on deck as stockings and presents were passed out.  Some of us were more excited than others...

Gifts were opened one at a time so we could actually see what everyone got which is always nice!

I'll speak for myself, but I'm always wondering if my mom is really going to like her gift.  But every year she's as excited to get an iron (from my brother this year) as she is to get the massage pillow (my sister).  Seriously - equally ecstatic over each (they both had three stars on her Christmas list!).  And whoever got her the coffee...well, we know my parents are addicted to coffee...

We had general onlookers amidst the paper tossing...

Tracy and Rob got a special gift this year...the tree skirt they have been waiting multiple years for.

Even with our fairly organized way of gift's a mess afterward!

After gift opening came to a close we hung out and played...

We drank...

(That's not a thermos.  It's an actual cocktail mixer.  It holds about a gallon of booze.  We managed to not waste any.)

My nieces had gotten "Just Dance 3" for Christmas and there were several dance-offs!

Then the adults actually let the kids play...

And that took up the majority of our day.  We played games, we ate a lot of food, we visited and we laughed a lot.  A really great day spent with some of my favorite people!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Hands!

Today is Jake's birthday!  Happy 10th!  Two hands - and, as he informed us - we are all now "two digits".

Last night when prompted what he wanted for breakfast he told us that if we wanted we could get him donuts.  And then bring them up to his room.  But not before 8am.  DO NOT wake him up before 8am.

This morning Mike headed to the donut shop.  We brought a tray up to Jake and sang happy birthday to him.  He said, "What time is it??"  Mike said, "Per your instructions it is after 8am...8:50."

Jake enjoyed his donut and orange juice...

(no he isn't old enough to drink coffee...)

And then he got to open his gifts.  I can't imagine that his Nerf Gun collection isn't completed yet...

He spent most of the day in his pajamas.  We finally got him dressed when we told him he could go spend his gift cards, and he and Mike have been watching their new favorite show, "Top Shot".

We are off to Chipotle, per his request...hopefully it's been a special day because he's a special kid!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

We're Ready!

We are FINALLY ready for Christmas! The last few presents (actually...all of them) were wrapped about 30 minutes ago!  Whew!  Can we meet a deadline or what?

See that GIANT present (big wall of blue on the left?)  Both kids were anxious to find out who it was for.  Jake won...we tried to tell them that size isn't always the greatest indicator!

Proud Mom Moment: As I was driving the kids around the other day Maddie said, "I'm SO excited to give my gifts this year!  I mean...I'm excited to get them, but I'm SOOO excited to give them!"  Jake chimed in that he could hardly wait for everyone to see his gifts too. Just maybe we are doing something right...

Anyway - the tree looks lovely...if you are a foot tall.  If you are taller than that it's a little more sad...

The strings started going out approximately one week after we put the tree up.  This is no end of frustration for Mike who sits in his office all day looking at it.

Every year Mike buys an ornament for our tree representing something from the previous year.  I asked him if maybe this year instead of him picking it out, if we all should go along.  So, on Thursday we braved The Mall of America (Mike's only destination for ornaments each year).  We each found a few we liked, but nothing we all loved.  There was a Willow 2011 ornament we liked, but the store had sold out of them.  Guess who did have one?  Shakopee's Halllmark store.

Yesterday Mike and I headed to the Shakopee Hallmark to buy it.  Then we saw it and it just didn't feel like the right ornament, but one of the other figures was perfect.  We decided we would purchase that instead,  and Mike would turn it into an ornament...

As you have probably guessed this represents Mike's parents reuniting after 18 years.  It's absolutely perfect.  We intended for everyone to take part in picking it out so I was a little nervous showing the kids.  But, when Mike pulled it out everyone was quiet and Maddie said, "I love it."

With that, we are officially ready for Christmas.  And to be honest, while we are all excited to give our gifts - we are DEFINITELY excited to get our gifts from each other too.  Present opening can't come soon enough!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bring It!

This fall has been incredible in terms of snowfall - or rather the lack thereof.  Mike began researching snow blowers in the fall because we were determined that THIS was the year we were going to get one of these bad boys.  Last winter did us in and the only saving grace was our neighbors' generosity in letting us borrow their's.

With every week that has passed with little to no snow, Mike has been thinking we've been sitting on a time bomb and he's just waiting for the sky to dump feet of the white stuff on us.  Research became more intense, especially when he finally decided on the model he wanted only to find out it was sent to the east coast when they got all the snow.  More research ensued and I was learning far more about snow blowers than I needed or wanted.

Enter tonight: Mike had made his decision and Home Depot had it in stock.  The heavens opened up and we heard angels sing.

Mike went to pick it up this evening and this 28", turn-on-a-dime machine is now happily residing in our garage in the spare spot he'd made room for weeks ago...

Mike said when he went to load it in the truck "Santa" was there to help.  He said the man was a dead ringer for Santa Claus and Mike had all he could do not to hug him and say, "Thank you!  Merry Christmas!" but he didn't think it would be appreciated.

Tonight at dinner Mike said - and I quote: "I actually hope we get two feet of snow."

Mark this day - Mike has NEVER wished for snow.  It's usually accompanied by cold and he's not a fan of either.  But, we are ready!

We also realize that because of this purchase we have virtually guaranteed no snow for the rest of winter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Share and Share Alike

Tonight Mike and I got home from a work party for him and Mike mentioned how hungry he was.  Maddie said she was hungry too and this was their conversation:

Mike:  Mom's going to regret having introduced me to the lefse.  It's good stuff!
Maddie:  I know!  It's not fair you get didn't even make any of it.
Mike:  How much of this house have you paid for?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lefse 2011

This past Saturday was lefse making day at my mom's house.  Yum.  For those that are not of Norwegian descent, it's pronounced "Lef-sa".  It's spelled D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.

We've been making these batches for a few years now and we've slowly gotten better.  A couple years ago Maddie joined in and this year Jake was added to the group.

It's a messy business, let me tell you.  Tracy and I both realized NOT to wear black this year (as opposed to previous years).

So we all had our jobs.  Mom kneads and cuts the dough she prepared the night before.  Tracy and I roll it out (Which we rocked on this year!  Whoo-hoo for progress!)  Jake and Maddie were in charge of the griddles.  These cookers are hot!  I know we had them turned on to 500 degrees when we started - I'm not sure what they ended up at, but I would guess around 400.

At one point Jake said, "Yikes!  I just burned my arm!"  That was it though.  No tears, no screams, no wails.  So, I thought it was small and no one said anything.  A little while later he mentioned how his arm still really hurt.  Tracy looked at it and told him to go put it under water...

We told him it was initiation into Lefse making.  We've all got our lefse scars.

Well, water wasn't good enough and we thought Jake should get it covered up to no flour or miscellaneous junk got in it.  Grandma covered it with some gauze and tried to get everything to stay in place with band-aids.  Then she got a phone call.  Jake bent his arm and his "bandage" fell off.  Tracy and I were covered in flour so I told him to find grandpa and have him help Jake.

Grandpa's emergency kit includes electrical tape:

Pretty soon Jake was rolling the dough, then getting it on the lefse stick, then transferring it to the griddle where Maddie took over.  Read: Kerry's out of a job.  Boredom.  A bit later Tracy left her "station" to do something and I stepped in and didn't give her job back.  Eventually Jake got bored and we were all back at our original jobs and we one mean assembly machine!

This year's accomplishments: most pieces were a consistent size.  AND...most pieces were actually round!!  I think we ended up with about 150 full sized pieces which we split up.

When I got home I broke into a bag - or two.  Smaker godt! ("Tastes good!" Yes...I had to look that up, but I can sing the first line of "I am so Glad on Christmas Eve" in Norwegian).

Anyway - I think it was our best batch yet and Tracy has suggested we start making it quarterly because these bags aren't going to last very long!

Monday, December 12, 2011

December Recap Thus Far

I went to pull out pictures for what we've accomplished in December.  There's a whopping three pictures - and two of those aren't even things we so much accomplished, as just plain old pictures.

We did see Santa.  We went to an open house a neighbor was having through his office and we got in the kids' yearly photo.  It is probably the worst photo I've taken Santa-wise (totally my fault) but I'm pretty sure the kids would mutiny if I suggested another visit to a local mall.  So, this is it...

Then there is the "Picture of the Day" project.  I'm DETERMINED that December will be the month that I actually take a picture every day.  I've had a lot of fillers every month.  December would be the only month I've taken an actual picture every. single. day.  I'll post more about this project after I check it off my list, but it's much harder than I originally anticipated.

Now, I actually did accomplish one thing I've been dreaming of.  I saw this scarf on the 'net and posted it to Pinterest.  (Can I just say - I love Pinterest!  Whereas I used to copy/paste ideas in a word document, this actually lets me "pin" a picture, then has a direct link back to it saving a lot of hassle on my part when I want to accomplish a project!)  

I digress...this is the scarf:

She actually made her scarf (one of those big loop things) from her friend's old flannel pants!  Gah!  After rummaged through our pile of flannel pants and finding nothing I liked, I went to Joann's and bought a yard of flannel I did like.  $4.56

Then I headed to my mom's to help her with a project.  Then I interrupted her project to insert my own because while there was a tutorial regarding this scarf, I wasn't sure I understood it.  My mom can sew anything and read/interpret and often times rewrite a pattern better so the Average Josephine can actually follow along.  

Then she just sewed it for me while I watched.  (Which I informed my dad was my secret plan all you, mom!)

It resulted in this:

I love it and it dressed up this super cheap, plain t-shirt just enough.  Next time I think I'd make it a little wider and shorter.  I also wouldn't iron the seams because it removed some fluff.  But, for a first effort I love it and plan to make a few more.

I would love to accomplish another project - Christmas related - before Christmas actually arrives.  Next week begins my vacation and I plan to get it done!  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Rest of November

It's killing me not to be caught up with November and December.  So, this post will serve as what happened the rest of November.  The next post will be so far in December and wa-la!  We are to current time and I will have nothing to post about.

We had our first snowfall.  It was very late compared to last year, but the kids couldn't wait to get outside and start shoveling.

Doesn't this next picture look like a definite "brother" picture?  Don't worry - the sister half was equally prepared to fling a shovel-ful of snow his way!

Frankly, only a minor amount of shoveling actually happened.  The poor dog barely had a path to crawl through to do her doody duty.

In a related story: Mike has narrowed down the snow-blower model he would like to purchase - twice.  He's moved the bikes to hang from the ceiling and we are all ready for it's delivery - right after "we" figure out which one model wins out (all depending on when they arrive in stock).

Jake started basketball.  He's lucky #13 this year.  He has basketball once per week and most Saturday mornings.

He's enjoying himself and the games are fun to watch, but I think those gyms are colder than if they were playing outside!

We were serenaded one night with an impromptu duet.  There was no blood shed over this.

They both love to play my keyboard and fiddle with the sounds.  The down-side?  The other day I went to do some legitimate work on it and I couldn't figure out how the heck to get the normal sound back.  What makes matters worse is this is a very simple keyboard.  Read: minimal buttons.  I ended up turning the whole thing off and back on.  This took five minutes to find the power button.

And that is the rest of November.  We are only on Day 10 of December, but I'll be thrilled to be "caught-up" so I won't feel so bad when I get behind again.