Monday, December 28, 2009


Dear Drew,

It's been five years since you came into this world, full of vim and vigor. I mean really, you were almost born without the doctor because you just couldn't wait to let everyone know you were here!

You are my little snuggle puppy. You proudly hold my hand, hug and kiss me and still want me to read to you. You love cars, trucks, construction vehicles, dogs, pirates, cats, hockey, Batman and books. Thank you for being so well rounded!

I hope you'll always remember to love your sisters, no matter how much they annoy you and wreck your block towers. I know it's hard to be the middle kid, surrounded by girls. They really do love you, even if they have a hard time showing it.

We love you so much and hope you have a wonderful 5th birthday.

Love, Mama and Daddy

December 28, 2004
December 28, 2005

December 28, 2006

December 28, 2007

December 28, 2008

(well, close enough. December 23, 2009)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I've lost that Christmas feeling

I've started to lose my Christmas cheer. Maybe it's because we've been listening to Christmas music since mid-November (yeah, not smart on my part at all). Maybe it's because the kids are bickering all damn day long and nothing I do gets them to stop. Maybe it's because to wrap Christmas presents I have to go into our frigid unfinished basement at night and quite frankly, I'm just too tired and I despise being cold. Maybe it's because Doug's Christmas vacation doesn't start until the 24th and I don't even get a vacation. Maybe it's because with all that we have to do, it stinks that Doug isn't home at all tonight as Meg has hockey and then HE has hockey and I've got kids by myself for 12 hours straight and no time to make Christmas cookies or wrap presents or even go pee without someone needing me.

But I'm going to suck it up and go about my business as I always do. There's laundry to be washed, dried and maybe even folded and possibly put away. There are snacks to be given, girls to potty train and little boys to kiss. There are books to read, a house to clean and Christmas cheer to be found. I think I'll start with some Christmas music.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Meme

I am totally stealing this from Swistle and Jess because my mind is mush from all the holiday cheer. Here goes.

Eggnog or hot chocolate? I love hot chocolate. And if I'm going to have eggnog, I have tiny little glasses of Hood Eggnog. I've never had it with the alcohol in it.

Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree? Santa wraps presents in special Santa paper, and some gifts end up in the stockings, and then the larger gifts are placed under the tree. For the last few years Santa used the same special wrap but started to believe that Meg was going to figure that one out so switched to new wrap this year.

Colored lights on a tree or white? Ok, this a sore spot for me. I grew up with colored lights, then my parents switched to white, which I much prefer. However, Doug only likes colored lights. So, I relented with one condition~I have white lights outside. The kids like the colored lights so I can deal with it.

Do you hang mistletoe? No.

When do you put your decorations up? It has all depended on my pregnancies (I mean, really, I was pregnant at Christmas in 2000, 2004 and 2006). This year we put up our tree early, so that we've been enjoying it for almost 3 weeks now.

What is your favorite holiday dish? I don't have a favorite dish. I love Christmas cookies.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We usually give the kids one gift to open on Christmas Eve (jammies) but that isn't happening this year as Meg and Drew still have their jammies from last year and quite frankly I'm behind the eight ball on this one.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? It's a mish mash of ornaments that belong to me, Doug and the kids. We have some of the ornaments the kids have made at school, ornaments they've received, plus others that we've gotten over the years. We have a Winter Warlock at the top of our tree (that's what he totally looks like too!).

Snow: love it or hate it? Yeah, I live in Maine. I either love it or move.

Can you ice skate? You'd think being the wife of a hockey player and coach and the mother of two hockey players that I could skate, but you'd be so wrong. I lack grace. Enough said.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? Besides Christmas cookies, my mother-in-law makes a great Christmas cake (and if you want the recipe email me because it's so darn easy!).

What is your favorite holiday tradition? We like to take the kids to look at the Christmas lights around the neighborhoods. There is one neighborhood in the next town over that the neighbors must be in cahoots to compete for the biggest, loudest and brightest displays, and the kids love it.

Candy canes: yum or yuck? Yum, but within reason.

Favorite Christmas show? Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch (original cartoon version).

So, what about you? Want to play along?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No, I haven't gotten into the eggnog

Christmas is just over a week away (eeek, ack, yikes!). I believe all my gifts are purchased. I haven't begun wrapping or baking. We do have our tree up and the house decorated inside and out, so kudos to us. I just started addressing my Christmas cards, which I usually have done and mailed at this point.

Instead of being on top of the whole Christmas thing, I'm in the throes of potty training. THE TWINS. Let me say that out loud again. I am potty training the twins. At Christmastime. No, I haven't gotten into the eggnog, although that sounds like a lovely thing at this point. I attempted potty training over the summer, but the girls just weren't feeling it. I decided to just let it slide instead of pushing them, because that worked out quite well with Drew. This past Saturday Doug offered them the opportunity to sit on the toilet instead of their little potties and they jumped at it. For the most part, they've done quite well with it all. I've been surprised at it all and quite proud of them.

But can I just say how absolutely exhausting it is to potty train two? It's like when I nursed them both as infants; I had to handle one first and then work with the second one. Back then, they didn't care who got fed first, but now it's sometimes a fight over who gets to pee first! While we happen to have several bathrooms in our home, it's not at all convenient to have them in separate bathrooms, so they have to learn to wait and be patient. Thank goodness for Dora Pull Ups and the fact that they girls can definitely take off their clothes by themselves!

For now we're rewarding them with stickers on a sticker chart (well, we were until I ran out of the stickers we purchased at Sesame Place over the summer. Oops.) and they LOVE that. I think as they get more adept at reading their bodies' cues, I can rely a little more on M&Ms here and there to help them out, but considering how often they're going now, I don't want little sugar junkies bouncing off the ceilings!

Oh and for good measure we picked up a second toddler bed through Craigslist last night for $10 and hopefully over Christmas break we'll be transitioning them to toddler beds. WHAT AM I THINKING? Send chocolate, rum and a padded room.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great Holiday Bloggy Card Exchange

Meghan at AMomTwoBoys is hosting the Great Holiday Bloggy Card Exchange and it sounded like fun, so I'm joining. CAVEAT~this is my ACTUAL holiday card, so it might look familiar to those of you who know you'll be getting one. If you want to participate, head on over to see Meghan and add your blog to Mr. Linky.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go

(Alternate title to this post: Alzheimer's sucks~a visit to see my grandmother)

Yesterday we packed up the kids and took them to the nursing home to visit my grandmother. This may seem unremarkable to some, except that it's been TWO YEARS since I've seen my grandmother. The last time I saw her was here at my home on Thanksgiving, two years ago. On that day, her mind wasn't terribly sharp, and she repeated the same questions over and over, but she walked into my house of her own accord and had a lovely time watching the kids play and enjoying family. After that Thanksgiving, she fell and broke her hip and for awhile, we thought she'd never recover. But recover she did, and while her mind continued to fail her, her body healed.

My grandmother is the only grandmother I've ever known. We rarely saw eye to eye, but I know that she loved me and I loved her. She lacked what we would call a "filter"; she'd say things like "if you only lost a little weight, you'd be such a pretty girl" and while she meant well, those kind of words hurt. Eventually though, I learned to just take what she said with a grain of salt.

Several years ago Alzheimer's came calling. Alzheimer's is an awful disease. Alzheimer's takes the person you know and love and replaces them with someone who doesn't have any idea who you are. For a long time, she'd have moments of real clarity and be able to carry on a conversation. Now, she doesn't always know my dad (her son), rarely knows my mother and speaks in a jumbled sort of way. But let's give her credit~she will be 91 next month!

So yesterday I thought we should go visit. I arranged with my parents to have them meet us there. I had very low expectations of how the visit would go. We had prepared the kids that she's in a wheelchair now and that she might not say too much to us. I think I was preparing myself as well; I wasn't expecting her to remember me at all. But G.G.(short for grammy-great) surprised us all. She called my mother by her full name, something my mom says she never does. And when my father mentioned my name to her, she repeated it back to him with a flicker of recognition. You can better believe that I cried, a lot. She was more animated than usual, according to my parents, because of the kids being there. It was a visit that was so much more than I had hoped for and I am so glad that we went.

As we were getting back into our cars yesterday, my mom said something to me that was so true that I wished it had been said to me sooner. She told me that while she may not be the grammy (or mother) that we once knew, she is the grammy that we have. She may not know me the next time we go, but we certainly aren't going to wait so long to go visit again. I was proud of how well the kids did while we were there (of course having a 5 foot singing Santa in the lobby helped as well!), considering that only Megan remembers her G.G. at all.

Do I wish I'd gone to visit her sooner? Of course I do. It's not like I was sitting around doing nothing the last two years; taking care of four kids takes the majority of my time. That's not an excuse, just reality. I will also fully admit that a part of me, a big part, misses the old grammy and that I find it hard to see her the way she is now. That part of me wants to remember how she was the last time she was here because it reminds me of how she used to be. I wanted the kids, especially Megan, to remember her from that last visit. But yesterday's visit was good for us all. I think I did a little healing and can only hope that she knows me again the next time we go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Grownup Christmas List

My family has always been a Christmas list making family. We had no family nearby when I was growing up, so lists were the way to help out my grandparents and aunt. Lists helped them know us a little better since we didn't see them often enough during the year.

I'm at the point in my life that if someone asks me what I'd like for Christmas, I don't have a good answer. Don't get me wrong; there are things that I'd like to have. Some things just can't be purchased and some I need to acquire on my own. So here's my Grownup Christmas List.

1. Patience. See, can't really shop for patience. With four children, my supply of patience is rather limited. But I want more patience. I want to be able to tolerate the noise level of my house without feeling like the Grinch ("oh the noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE!"). I want to be able to tie that knot at the end of my frazzled rope instead of falling to the ground, defeated by my own lack of patience.

2. Time for myself. I've never been good at taking time for myself and really enjoying it. There has always been that nagging in the back of my mind that I'm taking time away from my family. In all honesty, that is pretty dumb on my part since everything I do every day is for my family and I spent 99.5% of my time with them. So I'd like to do things for myself without the guilt.

3. A vacation with my husband. Doug and I haven't been alone together for more than one night in over 6 years. I don't even think we've had 24 hours alone together in over 6 years. Marriages, especially ones that include children, need TLC. We've been a part of each others lives for almost 20 years, but in the last 9, we've mostly been parents and not much of Doug and Kristin. Eventually our kids will grow up and move out and start their own lives, and it would be nice if he and I remembered why we fell in love in the first place so that we can enjoy our lives together. I don't want to wake up one day in the future and find out that the only thing we had going for us was our kids.

4. Financial stability. That pretty much speaks for itself. I think everyone I know would wish for this, especially in these unsure times. Enough said.

So there you have it. My Grownup Christmas List. What's yours?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's the Holiday Season!

While I was feeling under the weather, December arrived! I knew it was coming, since we'd been listening to Christmas music on the Music Choice channel on tv since mid-November, but STILL, it's December!

I love Christmas. I love putting up the lights outside (ok, I love for Doug to put up the lights because a) I don't like ladders and b) it's too damn cold for me to deal with), getting out the window clings for the kids to plaster all over the windows and doors, putting up and decorating the tree. I love to look at all the ornaments that are special to me, like my angel-in-an-egg that I made in 2nd grade, or my very special Santa who plays a white flute covered with holly that Auntie Nettie got for me many years ago. I love putting ornaments that Meg and now Drew have made at school, mostly because I remember doing that as a kid and being so proud of seeing my handiwork on our tree. I love the feel of Christmas. There is something quiet and lovely, especially at night with just the tree lights on, that is calming (our tree is not up yet so can you tell I'm yearning for the calm?).

The holiday season also brings our annual trek to see Maine State Ballet's Nutcracker. Doug and I have gone every year since 2000, but this is our last year attending. You see, we've always gone because our niece and nephew have been dancers in the Nutcracker since 2000, but Cindy graduated from high school in June and no longer performs with MSB and Nick is graduating this year, so we're heading Saturday to see his final show. This year we're bringing Drew for the first time (Meg always attends with us). It's quite the end of a era for us all, as we love getting dressed up and enjoying the gorgeous scenery, the beautiful music and of course our wonderful dancers.

And of course the holiday season brings about another change for us~the kids' birthdays. Poor Drew gets the shaft with a birthday 3 days after Christmas. Annie's and Izzie's birthday follows 2 weeks later, and then Meg's birthday is two week after the twins' birthday. I can't believe that by the end of January I'll have a 9 year old, a 5 year old and two 3 year olds. Someone hold me.

This past weekend, before I was felled by this strep throat that has me quite incapacitated, Doug and I went Christmas shopping with my parents. They needed ideas for what to get the younger kids, and we needed to shop, so it worked out quite well and we had lots of fun. We had our Christmas idea sheet (done up in Excel by my totally geeky husband) which made walking the aisles at Toys R Us so much easier. My parents got ideas for the kids, we got what we needed and we picked up gifts for my in-laws to give the kids. Other than a couple of other items, we are done Christmas shopping. It's a strange feeling to be done so early in the holiday season, but I rather enjoy it knowing that I have time to wrap the gifts this year.

I'm hoping that we stay healthy for the rest of this month (you know, after Meg and I get over strep. The kids already had the flu; what else is there? Don't answer that.) and can enjoy cookie making, tree decorating and maybe a visit with Santa just like last year. I want to revel in the fact that my eldest still believes in Santa and try to savor these little bits of childhood that go by so quickly.

Do you like the holiday season or does it stress you out? Do you like to listen to Christmas music ad nauseum like we do or does it make you crazy?