Lessons from Christmas

Christmas is over. The tree is down. The lights are packed away and we’ve finally found a normal schedule again. I think.

But as I reflect on the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve decided that this Christmas season has taught me a few lessons.

1. When you give your brother-in-law an elf hat for Christmas and he puts it on with his new safety glasses and then he grabs a tape measure and pretends to be one of Santa’s elves making toys – you immediately take a picture and put it on your blog.

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Because you can.

And it’s hilarious and he will never see it anyway.

I hope.

2.  Changing all the light bulbs in the house on Christmas Eve day to LED might make sense economically – but will create bad lighting for selfies and other photo ops and drive your camera loving daughter crazy.

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And certainly don’t help my photography skills. Or lack thereof.

But aren’t those kids cute! (just missing a son-in-law who was on duty Christmas Eve!)

3. After 26 years of attempting a beautiful ice cream log for Christmas – I have finally accepted the fact that it will never look good and will quite possibly always look like something less than attractive.

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And well – less than appetizing.

Which is why we shall always eat by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

3. The stomach flu is always nasty – but it’s extremely unwelcome when it attacks on Christmas Day.

No pictures. You’re welcome.

4. Having a house full of family can wipe out a stocked refrigerator quickly. I took three grocery runs the week between Christmas and New Years – mostly for coffee and vegetables.

The coffee I expected but the veggies were a new and surprising development.

5. Speaking of surprising developments – I have lots of Christmas goodies now hidden in the freezer. While my children pigged out over Christmas weekend, by New Year’s they had decided to eat healthy.

Go figure.

At their current rate of consumption, Jan and Buddy should have them gone by Easter. I hope.

6. I love playing games with the family at Christmas. Really, really love it.

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Especially new games like this one – Ticket to Ride.  Which is my new obsession.

I even won a few times – at least until my new son-in-law arrived. Hmmm…somebody should tell that guy it’s not good manners to beat your Mother-in-law at her favorite new game, at her house on Christmas. Good thing I like the guy.

7. Actually – I love them all – the whole crazy bunch! And carving out time together with crazy schedules to be together is the best Christmas memory of all!

Hope your holidays were special!

 

The Force was with Them

What could be more exciting than watching the much anticipated new Star Wars movie over Christmas break?

Unless it was watching it with cousins.

 

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Especially cousins in costumes.

A whole slew of cousins in epic costumes!
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Everything from Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker to R2-D2.

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Chewbacca and some Ewoks.

886368_10205378770646287_509271128307715090_oAnd Porkins and Biggs – two X-wing fighter pilots, just to name a few!

 

This wasn’t just a movie viewing – it was an epic event!

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And yes – the force was with them!

The Orange Chair Adventure

Three generations of women.

One grandma. Four aunts. A slew of cousins.

One day of adventure.

One amazing niece who hosted and made the arrangements.

Many miles traveled to enjoy a day of memory making.

EmporiumA flea market. Antique stores.  Curiosity Shops. The Emporium.

Giggles. Laughs. Secret purchases.

Crazy driving.

El BashasA Mediterranean lunch.

Discovering gyros, schwarma, and garlic sauce.

orange chair paradeFinding the perfect orange chair and recruiting cousins to help carry it out of the store, across the busy street, and down two blocks.

Then watching two amazing aunts figure out how to get it in the back of the mini van already packed with bodies and purchases.

cousin photo shootSeizing photo ops to remember the day.

A snapshot in time.

Precious people.

Precious memories.

mom and her girlsAnd of the course – the big orange chair.

Priceless.

Dead End Adventure

Just when you think all is normal – things take a turn!

We had spent a long weekend with my family at our annual Camping Trip at Dolliver State Park.

1011159_10200136474912170_384301849_nLots of food.

Lots of fun.

Lots of silliness.

Lots of bug bites! 🙂

Jan left early – on Sunday night – to check the livestock and go to work on Monday. But the rest of us stayed one more night.

That’s when things took a turn to the unusual.

We were in the middle of packing up in the morning when a sudden rainstorm hit. Talk about a torrential down pour!

Then the electricity went out leaving us sitting in the dark dining hall eating sandwiches while mini lakes were forming all around us.

Now that’s a memory we won’t soon forget!

But that was just the beginning of the day’s adventures!

We got the van packed up and Pedro started the 3-1/2 hour drive home through intermittent heavy rain and strong winds. We were about halfway home when the transmission went out.

Boom. Just like that.

We pulled off on a side road and waited for rescue to come.

DSC_0005There we were – sitting on a dead end.

Four hungry, tired kiddos and me – in a over-packed mini van that smelled strongly of wet tennis shoes.

We called Jan – who was at work at the time. He had driven the Geo that morning, which wasn’t very helpful since it will only hold four people if 2 of them don’t breath.

He had to drove home (the opposite direction), get the mighty Suburban, then drive up to get us, picking up a car dolly at U-Haul on the way.

Poor guy.

This was going to take a while.

We watched Duck Dynasty on Pedro’s laptop, read all the magazines we threw in the car at the last minute and took naps.
Then we finished off the chips and made a big dent on the scotcheroos. Pedro would have eaten the left-over corn but we couldn’t find a spoon.
And we waited.
We didn’t drink any of the pop or water we brought because several of us needed a bathroom badly, and the corn in the fields wasn’t high enough to cover us and there was probably poison ivy and ticks in the ditches.
Still we waited.
Three and half hours we waited.
Finally help arrived and the old 1996 Suburban pulled that fancy pants mini van all the way home.
I guess you just never know what a day will bring.
So always go to the bathroom before you get in the car.
And never leave home without chocolate.

Eating Out

bonfireWe ate out last night.

I mean really out.

Like – outside out.

Like – out in the pasture out.

Yes, I know it’s January.  Yes, I live in Iowa.

But it was a balmy 60 degrees yesterday and the kids had spent all afternoon cleaning out some fence lines. When Jan came home they hauled the wood and started a fire – a big fire.

Since they were already out there – and they already had a fire – we decided to pack up some  hot dogs and make it an adventure!

So – by the light of an almost full moon – we pulled up some stumps, roasted our hotdogs and made a memory.

After eating way more s’mores than we should have, the kids packed things up and went home.

But Jan and I sat on our stumps holding hands while we watched the fire turn to embers.

It was so peaceful sitting there in the light of the flames,  talking and listening to the coyotes howl – a real “country-style” date.

It was one of those sweet moments that can’t be planned, they must just be enjoyed!