Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A season of smiles

So yet another Christmas has come and gone, and it was my favorite, by far.  I'm finding as the boys get older, everything we do with them is just so much fun.  They can tell us funny stories and things that happened to them, and we had so much fun with the Santa stories this year.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get them to do anything now, since Santa was the enforcer in our house for a long time...

But most fun of all was watching all of the smiles. 

 First, I must show you the Gingerbread house we made.  The pictures actually make it look a LOT better than it was.  Holy cow, it slide apart and candy fell off and I just referred to it as the "Gingerbread House of Horrors" until the boys ate all the candy off of it.

 And then we have Christmas.  Actually, this was Christmas Eve day since we head out of town on Christmas day.  The boys got their presents from Santa on the 24th, and judging by the look on Connor's face, I'm not sure he could be more excited. 

 Connor was VERY excited to get shoes.  Heck, when you're 3 years old, it's not necessarily the gift you get, but the fact that it is so exciting just opening something - even if it is stuff you would need anyway.  Good thinking, Santa!

One of the coolest things, in my opinion, were the huge suckers Santa brought the boys.  Santa picked these up at the airport in Amsterdam.  They were awesome, it was actually a plastic container with 12 smaller suckers inside.  I just thought they were especially cute, and they reminded me of something that would come from the North Pole. 

 One of the only gifts Tyler asked for was his Nintendo DS.  I'm thinking this face says "SCORE"! 

 And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we had the most beautiful snow outside.  I also had to snap a picture of the decal of the "big guy" I have on our back door.  It was definitely a White Christmas for us.

 Christmas Eve we had over to the Stanfield house.  This year, all the kids (young and old) played Bingo.  It was a blast, and for the first time EVER, all the kids sat at the table and were enthralled as Grandpa Larry called out the Bingo numbers.

Fast forward to the next day at Grandpa Breuer's house.  Another first... 3 kids laying on the floor on a blanket, all playing with their DS' (and Connor has his Leapster).  Too cute.

 Another super fun toy was the Paper Jamz guitar that Connor got.  You know it's a fun toy when you find yourself, as a parent, even playing with it when your child isn't home.  It is awesome, and sounds just like you are a professional guitar player. 

This year was so much different than the others, and I can only see it getting better.  The boys were not only excited for themselves, but for each other.  Tyler loved to help show Connor how to play his games and just how everything works.  Very cute.

It was such a great Christmas with all of our family, and it ended too fast, as it usually does.  We'll soon have to take down the Christmas tree and all the decorations until next year.  I did find this quote though that really made an impression on me:

"My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.  Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?"  - Bob Hope


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just some memories...

As Christmas closes in...I have spent a lot of time trying to think of ways to make Christmas memorable for my boys.  Trying to find ways that I can make Christmas more of an event for my boys, than just toys.  The toys.  The toys are driving me crazy.  I know they want them, but as I'm getting older old now, I try to remember back to what I remember about Christmas, and I can hardly remember one, single, toy.

I do remember the Christmas where Dad must've got a bonus.  It was nice.  There was a cardboard toy house, and my sister got a Ronald McDonald doll.  I don't even remember what I got that day, but I remember her joy as she picked up the Ronald McDonald (she must've been around 5 or so) and just hugged and hugged him.  That was so cute.  But toys for me, I don't really remember.

What I do remember was what came along with every Christmas (bonus or not), and that was Grandma's house.  Both Grandma's.  At the time I didn't realize it, but it was just awesome.

To this day, I remember the smell when I walked into Grandma Breuer's house - and I can recreate it in my own home by just putting a ham in the oven.  The beautiful smell of ham and potatoes and cookies and just... Christmas.  That is the only way I can describe it, because that is what it was for me. 

I remember trying to fit six cousins on one piano bench while we let her player piano play "White Christmas", while my oldest cousin, Tim, sang at the top of his lungs.  (Being the oldest, he got the solo gig).

I remember the Crayola Caddy I would receive every Christmas.  And although I'm not sure she knew the value to me, I would cherish it every day of the next coming year.  I wish I could tell her that to this day.

I remember Christmas at her house like it was yesterday, because with my Grandma, you followed a strict routine.  After dinner, the adults would sit at the table and possible enjoy a bottle of wine, while the kids went to the basement to ride on the big wheels and tricycles that lined her unfinished basement.  The six of us would go around and around and around, and usually know when we pushed the limits with the noise we were making when Grandma herself, would open the door and take about two or three steps down the stairway into the basement, her heels making big "clacking" noises on the stairs.  That's when we knew we really needed to be quiet (instead of the 10 times our own parents stuck their head through the door.)

We always spent time at one Grandma's house, and soon as that Christmas was closing, we headed over to the next Grandma's house.  I'm sure the day was busy and stressful for my parents, but for me, it was awesome.  When we got to the "next Grandma's" house, we had leftovers from her dinner, played her piano, and my sister and I usually retreated to her spare bedroom for some peace and quiet, which was much welcomed after the busy day we had already had.  We were usually spent, but always happy to be at Grandma's house, because she was Grandma. 

I could ramble on and on about my memories of Christmas, and what made them so special for me, but it would be so hard to summarize those because it was just about everything.  It was everything that happened in the day that made it so special.

So I am so careful with my boys know.  In my effort to make the day "perfect", I don't want to ruin the opportunity for the day to happen as it was supposed to.  I find myself really, really trying to find the things that they will remember.  I know it won't be the toys, and it won't be the clothes.  It could be the smallest things like, what we had for dinner, or, what did the cousins do together after dinner?

This holiday season, think to yourself, what really make the holidays special for you?  And what do you really want the day to end... feeling like?  What is your perfect Christmas day?

Monday, December 6, 2010


This weekend was, for lack of any better words...incredible.  Sometimes it seemed as if I was living the life of my imagination years ago, where we would sit on the living room and play Uno, and sit in front of the fire and just cuddle, and bundle up and play in the new fallen snow, and bake Christmas cookies while listening to Christmas music.... because we did ALL of these.  It was beautiful.

But the Queen-Mother of the weekend, was when we took a ride on the "North Pole Express".  It's a train in a town south of us that is used for all sorts of different events, but at Christmas, they turn it into a re-creation of "The Polar Express". 

The inside of the train was even decorated with garland and lights, and on the speakers in the train played the story of "The Polar Express".  The train "drove" to the North Pole (I found out it actually went around in some circles, the windows were covered with a clear contact paper so you couldn't see clearly out of them), and then finally arrived (at a large warehouse where the train was parked inside).  It was then when it got even more awesome...

There was hot chocolate and cookies for everyone, and Santa had his own traincar.  It was just, magical. 

The boys each got to sit on Santa's lap, which was a miracle in itself.  We have not been able to get Tyler within a mile of any Santa his entire life.  He has been terrified of him since he was a baby.  Connor loved it, was ready to pose, and then actually turned into Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" when Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas.  He got all embarrassed, and needed a little coaching.  I could just see him with the thoughts in his head like Ralphie did... "What did I want?  Why can't I remember?  A football, yes, a football.."

Again, I was totally amazed when Tyler sat on Santa's lap.  For the first couple of seconds he did look like he was going to have a brief anxiety attack, and then calmed down and was actually able to tell Santa what he wanted. 

The boys had a great time.  They ate lots of cookies, drank lots of hot chocolate, played with trains, Connor made a craft (Tyler wanted to play more with the real train sets they had there), and then we boarded the train again for them to take us "back to Iowa".  It was just amazing watching the boys faces to see how they took everything in. 

Then Sunday brought another cold, cold day, so we found things in the house to keep us busy.  We made Christmas cookies in the afternoon, which was fun, and even more special was watching to see how the boys decorated them.

The snowman below was one of the better looking guys of the bunch.  Tyler made him all by himself.  Pretty cute, if I must say...

And then the boys ate many of the cookies they were decorating.  You can tell what happens to Connor when he eats too much sugar.  Yes, it's like a crack addict when that kid gets into it.  He had only had a couple cookies in this picture.  It got MUCH much crazier as the afternoon went on...

Tyler wanted me to take a picture of the bell that Santa gave him.  Again, it was so neat.  Just like the movie.  He will be talking about this for years, and has already give us instructions (multiple times) about cleaning out the fireplace the night before Christmas, and we even have an ornament on our tree that is a "key" for Santa, in case he can't fit down the chimney, he sends an elf down to get it and bring it up to unlock the door.  (Tyler made that story up himself.) 

Tyler then went over and placed it on the small Christmas tree we have in the kitchen (yes, we have two trees - I would have more if I could!).  It was just an incredible weekend, and every year when others are just wishing it would hurry up and get over with, I am trying to suck every last minute out of Christmas that I can.  Every song, every tree, every decoration, and every special moment that is a memory that we will keep with us forever.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Sunrise

This is the beautiful sunrise I woke up to yesterday morning.  I hate to say it, but the sunrise I woke up to this morning was even more beautiful, but I couldn't take pictures, because the sun was so bright.  All I had was my cell phone, and it's pictures are poor, at best.

After taking these pictures, I felt as if I needed to share them with someone.  Mostly, my family.  I e-mailed them and then to all that would care, I texted them, and even posted them on Facebook to the rest.

Then tonight I had the chance to go to dinner with a young lady just a couple years younger than me.  As we were eating and sharing stories of our kids and our husbands and our insanity, she asked me...

"So, do you like traveling like you do?".   She knows my crazy travel schedule, and has just as equal hard time leaving her home with two young boys. 

The first response out of my mouth wanted to be "yes!", because I do love to travel.  I love sitting in airports watching people, and finally getting to whatever destination it is that I'm headed to and just enjoying whatever it is.  It may be the crisp of the mountains in Colorado, or the humidity of Florida or the trees of the Northeast or the heat of Phoenix.  I usually love walking out of an airport to "wherever I am" and just enjoying the fact that I'm there.  Then getting in the car an exploring whatever new destination it is I have arrived to.

But then I come back.

As much as I love travel and love the job that I'm doing, I'm realizing more and more that it's just not possible with my boys at their ages.  They need their parents.  They need the love and the comfort and the softness that mom brings, as well as the love, and the security and the "manliness" (for lack of a better word) that dad brings.  But more importantly, I need them.  And their dad.  I need my family to ground me, to keep me real, to keep me who I am, and keep me going in the direction that I should be going in life.  Without them for a few days, it feels as if I'm a top that has begun to spin off track, and I'm going in a direction that doesn't even make sense, for me, or for anything.

I do notice a change when I leave.  It's almost as if the boys grow an "awnry streak" while I'm gone, and the longer and longer I'm gone, the worse it gets.  They get crazy, and bad, and loud.  They drive Kyle crazy, and then when I get home, are just totally out of control until they feel a "balance" in their world.  It takes a few days, for all of us, to get our worlds grounded back together.  And these are the same children that I tried for years to conceive because I wanted nothing more than to have a family. 

They are like bees without the honey, and sun without the sunny when we aren't together.  It's almost as if they need to wear the pair of shoes, and one isn't there.  I even forget sometimes what our lives together look like, and get so caught up in my own crazy, insane world of selfishness and chaos, to remember the boys that need me at home. 

I've met up with too many people in the last couple months that are caught up in their jobs, and are on the road more than they are at home, and they are sad, and sometimes divorced, and then to hear them talk about their kids like they know them, but you can tell they really can't, and probably haven't seen their children in weeks.

So, I'm not sure where to end this, but all I know, is that it's no where near the end.  I planned my life so much different..... With the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but with people to share them with.