December 26, 2013

Christmas Morning.

Christmas was beautiful here.
I have a lot of kids.
Today, I'm off to buy a fish for Leah's Christmas fish tank.
Then, I hope to pack all my Christmas decorations away.  (I think I'll keep my tree with just lights on it, until New Years.)
I know that sounds a bit Scroogey, but I'm so ready to clean up...

I'm taking a blog break for the next couple of weeks to do some concentrated parenting.
Merry Christmas friends!
See you in 2014.
Next year is going to be great!!!

December 20, 2013

T minus 5 days.

Yes I am.
Trying to find the peace... Again.
I hate to feel stressed.

7:22 this morning, my oldest and wisest child asks if he can bake brownies for school.  (They leave for school at 7:30.)
Um, no.
"Well then, what can I bring?"
I bought a few extra boxes of iced cookies for kids who didn't tell me by Wednesday what they needed to bring for parties...
He doesn't like those cookies.
And so, despite amazing, super-galactic planning ahead skills (on my part), I still have one unhappy child.
Until-- my second child (who supplied a list of nearly 10 items for me to buy him for school parties- before Wednesday's shopping trip), offered to give Jakob his case of assorted donuts.
Everyone is smiling again for a moment.

One can't find her coat- ever.
One can't find her Santa hat.  
Which Santa hat?  The one she made in Texas, three years ago. Um... Really?!
No one knows where the $40 cash went that was on the table.
Todd reminds me we have a date to go to the Syracuse game tonight.  So fun.  Fun right?  Sounds- fun.  Nothing at all I'd rather be doing...
One is reminding me over and over to call her friend for a play date- she's been bugging me to call everyday for a week.  Just call- today.  It's one little thing that I can do... While I'm getting ready for a basketball game.

This is all normal and good.
Just wish I was whistling a happy tune not feeling like my heart just might be two sizes too small this morning.

Can't wait to read and ponder and reconnect... Right now.  
After I push post and before I cook scrambled eggs to bring to the 6th grade party.
Actually, I think I'll listen to a talk while I clean up breakfast.

Maybe "You can do it now" by Elder Uchdorf.  That was my favorite yesterday.

Ready-- let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!

See, I'm smiling?
Seriously, taking a picture while crossing your eyes is hard.
I have skillz.
(Ha!  Finally a picture of me in the last two months where I'm not wearing my teal shirt.  And, in almost every picture I'm making a silly face.  Perhaps this Christmas has brought out my inner child?!)

Life is good.
I can do today.
When my heart is calm I can handle the pace... 
Today is going to be a great day.
I love basketball games. ;)

December 19, 2013

Buying Christmas For Many.

I'm not great at budgeting.
My heart is always bigger than my wallet.
But, I'm not stressed this year about Christmas for my kids... and this is why.

1. I separated Christmas morning from my never ending list of things my kids need.
2.  I focused on 4 gifts per kid. {Want, Need, Wear, Read} Plus Christmas pjs and stockings.
3. I did all my shopping online.  Amazon Prime (2 day shipping), JCPenny and Lands End.  (I got stocking stuffers at Target and wrapping paper at TJ Max.)
4.  I could take returns back to the stores.  Lands End can be returned to Sears and we have a Penny's nearby.  So, any clothes I bought online that weren't right could be easily returned to the store.
5.  I have a simple composition notebook where I wrote each kid- ideas and then actual purchases.  I keep a running to do, to return, and to buy list in the same notebook.  I also stuck all the receipts in it as the boxes arrived.

Our budget was about $100 per kid, plus $30 from Grandma and Grandpa.  The oldest boys ended up with a bit more than that.

Our Christmas budget was separate from our monthly money.  So, if kids needed new church pants or stuff for school, that came out of our regular money.  I just bought them what they needed and kept it separate from Christmas.  Or, I told them we could get it for them in January.(Usually I try to combine everything and it's overwhelming.)

Sure, Christmas is still a crazy, busy time.  I still wish I could play Santa to many more people than I actually have the funds to support.  I'm really excited for Christmas morning.  

(Today I want to wrap!! Wish me luck.)

I love Christmas with a large family!
This is a great time of the year.
Ho Ho Ho!

December 18, 2013

5 Pipers Piping.

I know there is music in heaven.
I've heard it.

Our Christmas is musical.
From band and choir concerts, to church and town Christmas programs, my children are constantly singing or playing Christmas music.
I love it!

This year is the first year I've noticed kids naturally singing parts when we sing Christmas songs together.  

We have a volunteer accompanist on almost every song we sing.  My kids are still slow and stumble a bit with two hands, but they almost good enough to really play while we sing.

Last night I sat on the couch of our new piano teacher as she coached three eighth grade boys.  Drew is singing a solo in the town's messiah sing along.  (I was so excited and surprised that he agreed to do it.)  He was practicing with two other boys.  They were adorable.  

Seriously, my eyes filled with tears listening to them practice.  In this day and age of harshness, there is something beautiful in teenage boys singing the Messiah.  

I feel so blessed that my children have musical opportunities.

They start band here in 3rd grade.  The elemen"tarry" band teacher is a saint!
The kids sounded great.  

This year we have 5 piano players, 2 trumpets, 1 French-horn, 1clarinet and a partridge in a pear tree.

Anna and Ellie sang in a select choir for elemen"tarry" school.  The select choir sang with a group of teachers.  It was really fun to listen to.  

I think music was one of the reasons we moved to Tully.  I'm grateful for the opportunities my kids have.  

Music is beautiful and eternal.
I know it.

In other news...
Todd and I are officially New Yorkers.
Check out our DMV pictures-

December 17, 2013


Love these girls.
Ps- it is really hard to take a picture of yourself going cross-eyed.

December 16, 2013

Beautiful wedding, beautiful family.

Walking back from the reception my Ellie said to me, "Your family sure likes to party."

Yes.  Yes we do.

My cousin Carissa's wedding was charming, up in the mountains of Vermont.

The wedding was a perfect celebration of Carissa- it was fancy, cozy, sentimental, full of friends and family, good food, and so much fun.

The groom, Brian, was sobbing as he waited for Cari to walk down the aisle.  I think we all fell in love with him then.  (Or maybe it was when he stripped off his shirt at the reception?). He's a sweetie.  

During the ceremony, they had a moment of silence to remember loved ones that had passed on but were most certainly there in spirit.  I couldn't help but thank heaven that I was there, celebrating.  Not just there for the moment of silence.  

It is funny how often the past year echoes in my mind.  I really, really could have missed all this.  I love my family so much.  (And even though I'm the crazy Mormon cousin with 20 kids, they love me too!)  It was so good to see everyone- and so important to enjoy these moments together while we can!  

It was fun to have my mom and my girls with me.  I wish I had brought Todd and the older boys.  I wish all my siblings and cousins could have come.  They were missed.

My take home... Love, love, love my family.  My family is very easy to love.  We all love children, love to laugh, and cry like babies at weddings, funerals, and commercials.  

Love my life.  Love my eight.  Love my husband.  Mine is not a life a bling and bags.  I wouldn't trade my mountain of kid shoes for one pair of fancier shoes.  But, I think you can have bling and a still have a heart of gold.  My family is proof.  They are good, good beautiful people.

And, we seriously need to DANCE more.  I want Todd to dress me up and take me dancing more.  (You don't have to drink to have fun!  We need to have more fun!). Life is meant to be enjoyed.

I kept laughing whenever anyone told me how great I look.  They would say things like, "She has eight kids, doesn't she look great?"  Or, "I can't believe how great you look considering all you've been through."  The key to looking great is- keep the expectations low.  Ha!!  
Wishing these cute kids a VERY MERRY happily ever after!!
I have a feeling they will have a lot of fun together.

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