Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Such a Wonderful Time!

I have so much to post that there is no way to fit it all in one post, so I will have to divide it into multiple posts!  I tried to login and post on Friday but I couldn't get a good connection and just wasn't able to do it for some reason. 
Anyway, let's start with Christmas Eve.  We started the day with a trip to the Way Off Broadway Breakfast with Santa.  What a great way to start the day.  The show was so full of energy and so much fun, it was just such a treat to watch the delight in Isabella's eyes as she watched the elves  and Mrs. Clause frolic and play on stage.  Then when Santa joined in on the fun-well, the crowd really got excited.  It was such a great morning of fun, too bad the food is so lacking.  (It really is terrible!) 
Bella and Mrs. Clause
Doing the limbo-how low can you go?
Bella with Jingle the Elf
Catching some of that Santa Magic!

I think all the excitement got to her because when we got home she asked if she could just go take a rest in bed.  Rest she did waking nearly 2.5 hours later!   While she napped, Jim and I ran up to the hospital to visit our nephew Justin who was hospitalized for complications following an appendectomy.  (Justin has since been released and is doing well, thank God!)
Then it was time to get ready for church services.  We were going to go to the 5:00 service as Bella was going to sing and ring the bells as part of worship.  The 5:00 service is the children's service or as our pastor refers to it as 'Controlled Chaos'.  That it is!  It is fun to see all the little ones all dressed up in the Christmas clothes and see the excitement in their eyes and hear it in their voices.  The children all did a great job singing and ringing and the service was very special.

Our serious one!

Then it was out for dinner and then on to home for our one present.  New pajamas of course!
Gotta look good for those Christmas photos. 

Snow Belle!

Next, we sprinkled the reindeer food, milk and cookies for Santa followed by a story before bed and then it was into bed for this little one!  Off to dreamland. 
Let sweet visions fill your head!

Post more on about our Christmas tomorrow!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shop, Wrap, Rest & Repeat

That has pretty much been my last few days in a nutshell!  Well, if you have to add in 9-10 hour work days on top of it all.  No wonder I was a bit grumpy last night. 
We were supposed to have company for the weekend, but due to circumstances beyond anyones control, that did not happen.  We were sad that we were not able to visit with our friends, but we certainly understood.  I had not been feeling at the top of my game anyway-just down with a cold and rotten sore throat so it was probably for the best anyway.  So I went home from work early on Friday and just rested.  I slept and did a little laundry (love the smell of clean linens when I don't feel well!) and rested some more. 
But then on Saturday it was time to pay the piper.  I had been promising Isabella that we would make a gingerbread house and she does not forget a thing, so I finally gave in.  Let me tell you, I hate making those silly things.  Even with a kit, I can't seem to do them.  They are a sticky, sloppy, gooey mess and I just have no talent whatsoever with gingerbread anything!  The walls fall in, the candy slidesoff, the icing drips down.  UGH!  At one point Bella said she thought it looked more like a haunted house than a gingerbread house.  Ha!  I want to be that kind of Grandmother, the one that wears aprons and cooks and bakes and is you know, all Martha-e with her grandchlildren, but its just not me.  Can't do it!  I try, really I do.  But it just doesn't work.  This is what happens:
A colossal mess!
The candies on the top were sinking into the house.  The windows-yeah, they slid off the house!
Bella said, "Well GaGa, the wreath looks nice!" Great, the wreath came in one piece hard to mess that one up.  So much for our gingerbread house making adventure.
I did manage to get loads of gifts wrapped!  And wrapped, and wrapped.  I finished my shopping, finally.  Christmas and birthday shopping are done.  Even the birthday gifts are wrapped for the most part.  For those of you who don't know, Michelle's birthday is Dec. 31 and Jim's is Jan. 1st., poor planning on my part I know but what are you gonna do?!  The only thing left to wrap are the few miscellaneous gifts that are trickeling in via UPS or Reg. Mail., other than that I am done, baby!  Boy does that feel good to say!
We went to church on Sunday for a service of Lessns and Carols.  The children's choir, of which Bella is a part, sang Little Drummer Boy and boy did they have the Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum down pat on that one.  Bella loves to sing and on the way to church she asked Michelle if she could be in the choir again next year and Michelle told her of course she could and Bella said "Yes!" and pumped her fist.  It was so cute.  She also said that she didn't remember that 'her concert' was that day and that she liked to sing on stage.  I reminded her that it was the alter and she said she knew but it was a stage when she was singing.  Can we say DIVA?  
Why does this happen?  I thought this was a nice picture of my girls, wanted to post it and it goes sideways like this.  Can't for the life of me figure it out or make it go the right way!
Anyway,  one more picture for the day.  Thought this was a fun one.  Shawn was over on Sunday and the girls were in their Steelers wear and he was in his Ravens jersey.  He and Michelle were sitting together and he had his arm around Michelle and was rubbing her arm and Bella complained that she had noone to rub her!  Shawn just called her up to him and she jumped into his other arm!

Hope you're all ready for Christmas! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Own Mr. Christmas

I have noticed that in my  posts I don't often talk about my husband.  That is about to change.  I don't intentionally leave him out of my posts, but it is by his choice that I not blog about him.  Sometimes though, he can't always get his wish.  This is one of those times.  You see, I am married to a wonderful man who chooses for some unknown reason, to keep his many wonderful qualities quiet if at all possible.  Often though, they slip out-intentional or otherwise.  So let me brag on him a bit if I may.
Christmas can be an extremely stressful time of year for many, women especially.  Often women are the ones who burden the sole responsibility of Christmas; buying and wrapping the presents, decorating, baking, shopping, we do it all. I guess that I get to be counted among the lucky few.  My husband loves Christmas and he helps in many ways.
Beginning the day after Thanksgiving Jim starts getting all of our Christmas decorations out, and trust me when I tell you, that is no small task!  He puts all the exterior lights up, a candle in every window and a wreath on each window.  The exterior decorations can take him days to complete, but he doesn't mind and each year  he tries to improve the display.  He doesn't stop with the exterior of our home either, he help me in any way that he can to decorate the inside of our home too.  This year we have 6 Christmas trees inside our house, all of them are decorated.  We usually have more but because of the room re-arrangement, we were not able to put one up as planned. (Next year!) 
We do a lot of the shopping together and Jim always knows what we are giving to each person.  When our children were younger, we used to get a babysitter and go out to dinner and then to Toys R Us and do most of the shopping for the kids in one fell swoop.  We made a night of it and always looked forward to it.  Now that the kids are older, Jim likes to still have a hand in each gift that we give the kids.  And everyone else on our gft list for that matter.
Yesterday I got home from work to an empty house.  Michelle was working late and Jim had picked up Isabella from school and the two of them had gone off together.  Shopping.  He took her to pick out a few gifts to give to her Mom of her choosing.  She had some ideas and he let her go with them, some were successful and others well, not so much.  But they got the job done and on Christmas morning Isabella will have a few gifts that she can give to her Mom. They also had gone out to dinner, just the two of them.  She was so excited when they got home and couldn't wait to show me what they had gotten!  Tonight I will help her wrap her special gifts. 
My Mr. Christmas, Santa, Bella and our friend Andy
It makes the holidays a whole lot more fun when I know that I can count on my partner to actually be a partner in the whole holiday experience with me.  Truth be told, he is way worse than me! 
He doesn't know when to quit.  But, I love his enthusiasm and I  love his childlike nature about the holidays and I love that he wants to make everyone that he loves feel so loved.  It is a rare and special gift. 
I am truly grateful for one of the best gifts that I have ever been given, my husband Jim.
Merry Christmas, honey!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hersheypark Happy!

We are all on a chocolate high, but it was well worth it.  Everywhere we went we were handed chocolate and, not wishing to appear rude I ate it.  Yum!  We had a great weekend, once we got there.  Let me start at the beginning. 
Friday, I was to leave work early so that we could get up to Hershey nice and early and maybe get to the park after we checked in or go to the pool or something.  I left work shortly after 12 and headed home and at that time of day the ride should have taken no more than 20 minutes.  But, a small snow squall had blown through the area dropping maybe a quarter of an inch of snow on the ground.  (Let me stress the maybe!)  There were no less than six accidents on the roads and my ride took me an hour and a half!  I was lucky because shortly after I got home I heard that both routes home were then closed due to accidents.  Anyway, we finally did make it to the Lodge and got checked in with just enough time for me to take a rest before we had to make our way to the "Red Room" for our 'Christmas in Chocolate Town' musical review dinner theatre.  The food was good and the review was cute, it wasn't great but we weren't expecting great.  It was too long.  There were a lot of children in the audience and the way it worked was they served dinner first and then put on the show.  With dinner starting at 6:30 the show didn't start until almost 8:00 and lasted until 9:00 and by that time there was a lot of whining and crying and the kids were getting restless too!
The next morning we went to the park for Breakfast with Santa.  That was great!  Bella just loved it.  They had characters there and juggling elves and a strolling music man.  The kids all wore name tags and the music man had a great way of incorporating their names into his songs and they loved that.
Bella was picked to help the music man strum his guitar and help him with a song.  She thought that was pretty special.

Bella and the Reese's Bar

Bella and the Big Man!
Bella asked Santa for a Unicorn Pillow Pet.  Santa told her that he thought that the elves had one back at the workshop for her and he would work real  hard to bring it for her.  She was very happy to hear that as that has been her number one request for months!  On our way out, the children got to sit with Santa and Mrs. Clause and have their picture taken with them.
Bella remembered one more thing that she wished to tell him.  She told Santa that she had a Hershey Hooded sweatshirt that she had gotten last year but that she had grown out of it and if it wasn't too much trouble, could she get another one.  He said that he would try to remember that and Mrs. Clause asked her for her size and Bella gave her her size and her mom's size too. 
Even Big kids like Santa!
After that we made it into the park and even made it onto some rides. 
Well, nobody said it was going to be warm!  These two could hardly walk when they got off this ride, they were COLD, but not complaining!
We shopped, rode rides, went to chocolate world, saw the house made of candy, visited the gardens and the museum and even had a chocolate martini.  Yummm!  It was a jam packed, fun-filled week-end and we were all glad to get home.  Bella said that she wished she could stay for more days, but she crashed in the car and slept almost the whole way home and went to bed nice and early that night.  Yesterday she shared some of the magic with her classmates by bringing in some Hershey Kisses to school to share with the class. 
And now, it is a mere 11 days until Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finally Friday!

I am so excited to get started on the weekend, I feel like a little kid!  We have big plans for this weekend and we are packed and about ready to head out.  Just a little matter of work and school for some of us, but then we will be on our way.  Where are we going?  Well, I thought  you would never ask!  We are heading to the sweetest place on earth! 
Hershey, Pa. for Christmas!
Not really for Christmas, but close enough.  It is a great way to really get the holiday season kicked off into high gear.  The park is all decorated for Christmas with more than 1,000,000. lights, decorations, Christmas characters, live reindeer, rides and of course the whole experience is accompanied by the sweet smell of  chocolate.  Mmmm!  How sweet it is.  We have taken our kids since they were little and now we are lucky enough to take Bella.  Life is good!
Although we are expecting a COLD weekend, we have packed gloves, scarves and lots of layers to keep warm.  Hopefully it will work.  There have been times when we have been there when it has been truly freezing and bitter cold, but when it gets to be too much we go inside to see a show or to go through Chocolate World.  Sometimes just a steaming cup of Hershey's hot chocolate is enough to warm us.  Diet be darned!?  Maybe all the walking that we will be doing will balance things out a bit.  Ha!  Likely story!
Anyway, that's what we will be doing.  I'll check back in on Monday.
'Till then, Candy Cane Wishes and Sugar Plum Dreams!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bella's Night to Shine

Tuesday night was Bella's night to shine in her Holiday Concert at school.  The children have been working so hard with their music teachers to prepare several songs for a 40 minute concert to be presented to family and friends.  The first grade classes sang several songs all together and then each individual class sang one or two songs by themselves.  Bella was choosen from her class to give the introduction to one of the songs and she went right up to the microphone and said her lines without any hesitation.  Wonder where she gets that from?  Ha!  As my Mom likes to tell me, that gene must skip a generation as it seems to have been passed right down to Isabella from her Grandmother. 
Anyway, her class sang "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth".  How appropriate for Bella!
Our Girl!
Two Front Teeth!
It was a very cute program and we had one sleepy little girl when it was over!  She had been so excited about it and her part in it, the poor thing was just done when it was over.

In other news, progress continues on the bedroom move in our house.  Jim has been working hard at clearing out his 'den' to move everything to the finished basement and give up that space to allow for Bella to have a larger room.  She has really just grown out of her small room thanks in large part to all the stuff that we and others like to spoil her with.  Ha!
Anyway, the room is about empty now save for his desk, TV and the futon.  So whenever I have some spare time (read: after Christmas) I can begin the process of painting.   But in the meantime, all of my craft room stuff and all of Jim's den stuff are in the basement together.  It is crammed! 

Update tomorrow on our weekend plans.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekend Review

Oh, how I love the weekends!  After putting so much time and effort into work all week long, it sure is nice to have a couple of days to unwind and catch up on some fun! 
Friday night I went cropping-I know.  I haven't been in so long I know that Tootie was shocked to see me.  I was so glad to go though.  I even got some cropping done, though I can't show it on the blog right now as it is a work in progress and is a planned gift.  But oh, it felt so good to be able to be creative!  We had fun catching up too.  I really wish that I could go every Friday  night, but there is just no way that I am up to it any more.  It is really hard for me to admit that, but it is the truth and it is time that I face the facts.  But, I'll take once in a while!
Saturday was a great day.  Jim has really been working on cleaning out his den and it is now about ready for me to begin painting.  (If I can only find the time!)  He has gotten the large majority of stuff out of there and though the basement is immovable, it is out of the den.  So that was really good.  Score one for Jim!
He and I had planned on going on the Candlelight House Tour and we left earlier than planned and walked a bit around downtown and stopped in at a new restuarant for dinner.  It was only a little after 4 and we didn't have reservations so we were able to get in, but we were the last ones to get in without a reservation.  The food was excellent and we had a wonderful time.  The streets were just bustling with people shopping, carolers singing, horse drawn carriages, it really was like a picture!  Just a beautiful night.  Then we went to the house tour, which is a self guided tour of 7 homes that have been beautifully decorated for the season and opened for visitors.  The homes this year were in an historic district and were mainly from the 1920's with the exception of one home which was built in 2001, but was in the same neighborhood.  I just love to look at homes, especially older homes and see how they are decorated.  It is such a treat for me!  They were very busy this year too, lots of people wanted to see inside these homes!  There is a small skate house by the lake that was open and used as a reception center where you could get cookies and warm cider and hot chocolate.  Jim had never been inside that building so it was a nice opportunity for him to see inside it.  (t is not used much anymore.)   Unfortunatly, I fell at one of the homes and went down pretty hard and it kind of put a blight on the evening for me, but overall it was still a wonderfull evening for us. 
Sunday Jim had to work and after church, I laid on the couch for most of the day.  The fall the night before had brought about a lot of soreness and a wicked migraine, so my day was pretty much shot.   But it was nice to lie on the couch because Michelle was baking Christmas cookies and listening to carols and Bella was playing about, so if I had to feel lousy that was the way to do it. 
Later in the evening, Jim andMichelle took Bella to a Night in Bethlehem at our church.  It is meant to give the childen an idea as to what it would have been like in Bethlehem in the days of Jesus' birth.  They made bread and crafts and even had live animals. 
Making Bread

Outside with the lambs and goats.

Making a pot from clay.

I am so thankful for our church and the family that we have there.  They are such a wonderful resource and a place of welcome and love.  We are truly blessed to be part of such a community!
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Scents and Sweets

Last night Jim, Isabella and I went to the Scentsand Sweets Competition in Downtown Frederick.  The competition is for wreath, floral arrangements ad gingerbread structures and they have both amature and professional categories.  I had not been before, but Jim had gone with the girls last year and were quite impressed with all that they had to offer.  You could vote for your faorite wreath or put a bid in to buy one or several if you like!  All were creative and beautiful, some were traditional, some modern, others were playful while others still were just plain out there.  My favorite wreath was this one:

Made with red roses, rolled sheet music, a golden horn-it was just beautiful!  The bidding was going up and up on this one!
Jim was really fond of this one:
Let it Snow!
Bella was intrigued by this one:

Her favorite one though I failed to get a picture of, it was done by a local elementary school and was made of crayons!  Very cute. 
The money made on the sale of the wreaths all went to charity too, so it was a win, win situation.

Then there were the gingerbread structures.  Wow!  I am in awe of those.  Mostly because I am completely inept at that kind of thing.  One of the categories is Under 12 and some of theirs are WAY better than anything that I could do! 
There was one young lady there who was standing by her project and she was in the 13-18 Category.  Bella told her that she had made one last year for fun and the girl told her how much fun she had making hers and that she should try it again.  She then went on to explain a little of how she made hers, she was very sweet.  Here's a picture of her structure:

An Igloo!  Isn't that dear!  She even had it decorated inside the igloo and had a litte snowman and a few penguins around. 
Here is another one from the same category:
Amazing, right?!

Now for a professional one, are you ready?

Isn't that amazing?
I just love these so much!  I can't even imagine the work that goes into this.  It even has windows!  Just beautiful.
That was our night. 
Now I know Bella is going to want to make one and I'll wind up with icing all over me, and very little on the gingerbread.  Sprinkles and candy on the floor and in our hair, dripping off the house, it will look nothing like these, but we'll have fun doing it! 
And have lots of clean up afterwards!