Merry Christmas – 2020 style!

Merry Christmas! We did it. Christmas in a pandemic, divorce, foster care lifestyle. For the most part, everyone had fun!  The pictures are a bit limited (due to the third item above), but here are a few.

Make your own pizzas for Christmas Eve dinner.

The kids got creative with stuffed crust pizza!

This cutie wanted pizza too! 

Santa made it! With help from family and friends, we had a well stocked Christmas with gifts that wrapped around the tree.

Merry Christmas, Eve. :)

Lex, trying to figure out his dad’s present labels.

We had a great time with these beautiful wooden puzzles from Mema.

Some of the pieces are animal shaped. That was a fun discovery.

I made the traditional Christmas lasagna with a side of veggies. Eve made her now-traditional holiday frog bread. I got out the fancy table cloth and napkins….

… The kids ate nothing but frog bread! A nice balance to the candy they (we) ate all day. :)

It was different this year, for sure, and I missed the Collier family like crazy, but with the extra kids around we all did ok. :)

Here’s to a happy, healthy, family-filled 2021!!

What’s Making Me Happy

Christmas this year will be very different, for many reasons, but I’m determined to make it a great Christmas anyway. I am basking in the love I feel all around me, and the love I am able to share. Here are a few holiday memories we are making.

Can you guess what audio book we were listening to while making gingerbread cookies last week?

We have been playing a lot of board games lately! Although I’m not very competitive, I do ok sometimes. :)

We couldn’t have a holiday party at school this year, but our “Sunshine Committee” put together a safe, festive, inviting holiday Hot Cocoa Bar. It warmed my heart and my stomach!

Every last detail was thought of, right down to the to-go mugs for those of us who were on the go!

The super adorable preschooler on our street has been offering free snowballs all week. Sometimes people leave him little thank you gifts in exchange. 💖

Not exactly Christmas related, but we got a lot of snow last week and there are a lot of big boots in my mudroom! I tried to organize them. Jasmine “helped” in her own special way. :)

 

A few of our musical neighbors organized a socially-distanced holiday caroling event. It was mostly fun. :) The teenagers were not interested at all and I’m a terrible singer, but it was a lovely idea and reminded me once again how awesome my new neighborhood is.

Speaking of neighbors, there has been a lot of porch deliveries all week, with candy and trail mix and fun ornaments going around. :)

Eve and I took a little Christmas Eve drive with a loaded sleigh. She is my favorite co-pilot in the world and quick with the camera when we see cool things — like this blue driftwood horse.

A quick, masked, in-state, out-doors holiday gift swap. So many rules this year, but we snuck in a few hugs. I can’t wait to spend unmasked time with these amazing people again, in post-covid times!

The house is warm and filled with goodies. The children are happy. The Alan is here for the day. The Tessa is at peace. This Christmas will be different, but it will be ok.

🎄 Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for a happy (Covid-free) 2021. 💖💖

Friends

I have the nicest friends in the world. In case anyone was wondering. I have been mostly out of school this whole week, going in just a little bit some days (foster care reasons) and each time I go in I find a new little note on my desk. ❤❤ Here are just a few of the sweet, supportive notes:

And a few funny ones too. :)

This afternoon another friend brought over a fully constructed gingerbread house, frosting to decorate, and homemade lemon curd. And a bag of “extras” for nibbling on!

She said she might so Eve and I bought candy last week — just in case. :) Today she did and we had so much fun decorating it!

I have the best friends. Have I mentioned that already? :)

We are starting to feel a little Christmasy here.

Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas! This was somewhat a usual Christmas, but also felt somewhat unique as the kids are growing up and I realized I have more pictures of the pets than of the kids this year.

Santa came!

Christmas Eve in the dark.

This year the kids each bought each other presents. Lex bought Eve a laptop so she could play Minecraft with him more easily. Previously she had been playing on my computer, which isn’t exactly a gaming machine. Now she’s got an awesome computer and they have been having fun playing together.

First things first, presents from each other.

Eve got Lex a Settles of Catan expansion pack, and the promise to play the board game with him! :)  I love that both presents involved playing with each other.

Lex was excited to watch Eve open her present.

This year I was the first one awake (not counting Mema and Tom because no one can beat them!) and when the kids woke up I had to remind them about opening stockings! They were weirdly not eagerly awaiting present opening.  Or they were, but they are now more mature about it and not jumping on the be at 6am in pure excitement. In fact, they laughed at me because I was the one eagerly bouncing with excitement while waiting for the whole family to arrive in the morning. :)

This about sums up Eve these days.

But don’t you worry, we opened those presents!

Silly girl.

We also had phone calls with family from one coast to the other, and we did some Facetiming with Barney and Lorie.

Facetiming with the CA crew.

The present theme this year turned out to be cozy clothes and board games. We all enjoyed several (hours long!) games of Catan, and many more (minutes long) games of Otrio! I’m eager to play Prime Climb soon too. We have a NYE game night planned and the kids are already picking out the games. I think all three of those games are on the agenda, along with Apples to Apples and Hearts.

We played Catan for hours!

Eve got a stuffy puppy to match our puppy stuffy.

Stuffy and puppy

Christmas dinner was lasagna, salad, and bread. I the first proper meal I’ve cooked in a long time. My friend and her boys came to join us again and brought a delicious chocolate cake with a drawing of Huxley on it. :)

Christmas dinner. I think Alan has a better picture on his phone.

A family picture. We’ll try this again next year when (hopefully) Eve will smile for the camera and I won’t be as huge. :/

The rest of my pictures are of Huxley.  Imagine if this cool portrait mode setting had existed when my kids were babies.  Sigh.  At least I still have one kid who will smile, an adorable dog, and two beautiful sisters.

Lex and Huxley

Rosy and Huxley

Huxley and the aunties

Post-party pup

Huxley and his lovie

The true purpose of vacation! <3

Merry Christmas to all of you.  We have a lovely two week vacation from school this year, and we are enjoying every day of it. We went to an awesome theater yesterday to watch the latest Star Wars movie. It was a fun family outing. Today Alan ran some errands, but the rest of us snuggled in and avoided the winter storm.  Tomorrow is NYE and we are excited to play games and eat Cheetos.  Yep, that’s our family tradition.  Bring in the new year!

PS. Hi Greg!!

Christmas is in the air.

We got our Christmas tree today. It is lovely.

Looking for the perfect tree… and avoiding the camera.

We need cathedral ceilings for the Christmas trees I always want!

A family photo around the tree. Someday Eve will join us for family pictures again.

Ack! There’s a wild beast in the Christmas trees!

The mandatory He-Man picture. I’d like to edit that other family right out! :)

Eve decided she wanted to carry the tree. Or at least help carry the tree!

When you drive a Tesla in Vermont, you do what you gotta do at Christmas time. :)

We were all a little nervous about the tree on the roof. Except Alan, he’s not nervous about anything! The rest of us kept a close eye on it.

Waiting for Eve to wrangle the cat. The kids wanted a tree picture with the pets this year.

Next time I think one of my long-armed children are going to have to take the selfie!

In hindsight I should have gotten a picture with just the two of them and the pets. Maybe I can talk them into that tomorrow night. :)

My Swedish tomtes.

Lovely tree.

Christmas at night.

Merry Christmas!

The 2018 Christmas is officially on the books and a good time was had by all.  This year Joyce was able to join us too!  We did the usual: meals and presents and hanging out.  It was great.  Here are a few pictures.  All of mine can be found in this Photos album.

On Christmas Eve we went out shopping and ended up hanging out with these hysterical alpaca llamas.

Silly llamas!

Christmas Eve dinner was tacos a la Joyce and Tom.

Thanks Joyce!

Santa came right on time.

Lights on

Lights off. I can’t decide which picture I like better.

On Christmas morning the kids woke us up at a very reasonable hour (a sure sign they’re growing up!).  The Makey-Makey bedroom present was so good we had to drag Lex downstairs to open stockings!  Then we all waited patiently while Mema and Tom went to church and Katie, Rosy, and Joyce got here.

Love

Finally it was time for presents!!

So happy to have this smiling face with us this year!

And this one!!!

Presents kept us busy for awhile. Lots of Legos and Harry Potter stuff and books and candy and so much more.

Looking good, Grandpa Tom!

Still going….

Bodhi got all worn out. There were a lot of presents to and from doggies this year.

Mema wins the cute picture prize this year!!

I love this one. I want to do some editing to make the colors pop, but she was so sweet reading under the tree. <3

Superman!

For Christmas dinner we invited my friend and her two boys over.  We all enjoyed lasagna, salad, and garlic bread.  Yum!

It’s hard to get a good picture with everyone looking, smiling, and not blinking!

My camera took a few selfies on its way down the table.

Sistas!

The girl on my other side wanted nothing to do with selfies, but the boy was happy to smile with me. He’s always happy to smile with me. Lucky me!

Now we settle into the driftless middle days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  I’m loving every second of it!  I’m on book five, with a substantial stack waiting in the wings.  I’m eating all the candy (maybe that’s not so good) and just relaxing.  Today we fed the fish at school (all still alive!), spent our Books-A-Million gift cards (add to that reading pile!) and Eve bought herself a few new fish.  Tomorrow, we go back to doing nothing.  Life is good.  :)

The holidays around here

We have nothing monumental going on these days, but lots of little holiday activities.

Alan and I went to his company party. It was fun to check out the fancy new hotel and to hang with his goofy buddies. I even thought to have someone take a picture of us!

We maybe got a little silly.

We’re doing lots of cookie baking.  I keep trying to entice the kids with new cookie ideas, but they always want to original tried and true!

Peanut butter blossoms. Yum!

Pretzel treats. We learned what happens when you cook the kisses too long. Its not a pretty site! These are the properly baked ones. The others we will eat quickly before anyone sees them!

Gingerbread cookies and decorating with friends.

Cookie decorating with teens and preteens gets a little interesting. Here we have two puppies in love.

And here we have a beheaded snowman with his head reattached, a sad gingerbread boy, and a gingerbread girl with a stake in her heart. Ya know, the usual cookie fare.

Lex had his winter concert earlier this week and impressed us all with not only his drumming skills, but also his ability to problem solve on the fly and keep cool under pressure (like when his amp isn’t working and then when it’s working TOO LOUD!)  He was a problem solver and handled it like a pro!

We have two more days of school and we are all looking forward to vacation!!

Oh, Christmas Tree

We got our tree this weekend and it’s PERFECT.  It was a great field.  Lots of perfect trees, so it took us just moments to find our perfect one.

An almost perfect family photo. The photographer had no interest in being in the picture. :(

This handsome boy loves being in pictures with me. Or at least he humors me and smiles for the camera. :)

Eve finally agreed to take a selfie with me. Um… thanks?

Alan and Lex took care of cutting and wrapping.

These tall kiddos want to put up all the high ornaments. I guess I’m in charge of the lower part of the tree these days!

In the evening Alan and I went to my DBS holiday party.  I was apprehensive, because I’m lame like that, but it was nice and we only stayed for an hour anyway because we had tickets to see Matilda!  We left the party, picked up the kids, and headed to the theater.  Like the fancy family we are! LOL!

I love this crazy bunch.

 

Hi

Hi all! It’s December!  I’m sitting at drum lessons, listening to Lex practice his Jazz Band piece.  It’s pretty cool.  On Monday he auditioned for a District Band program, which is basically just a weekend of middle school kids jamming together.  It’s pretty selective, but he’s good and he auditioned on three different instruments (timpani, snare drum, and bells), so he’s feeling pretty good about things.  We’re hoping to hear the results soon.  Not that we really need more things to fill our days.

We are wrapping up the final week of Lego League, and (hopefully) our final year with it.  Lex ages out of it next year and I’ve already made the announcement that I won’t be coaching if he’s not participating.  I’ve basically taken over the program though (I have a bad habit of doing that!), so I’m hoping I can slip out without too much disruption.

The usual holiday parties have set in, plus field trips, concerts, and plays (that we’ll be in the audience for), but whenever I start to feel too stressed, I just remind myself of last fall and feel grateful for all I’m NOT doing this year!

I put up the advent boxes again, but this year the cat is taking them down for me every night.  Not helpful!  Eve has been putting them all back up each morning.

My favorite reindeer.

The advent boxes are looking a little worn. Number one is even missing a top. This might be their last appearance… though when I mentioned that to Lex, he got sad.

Eve is helpful.  She’s growing right up, but still a very silly, Harry Potter series obsessed child.  She has a crush on Draco Malfoy and wants to own all of the Harry Potter merchandise that exists in this world.  She might be a little materialistic.  :)

A friend asked the other day if we are hosting a cookie party again this year.  I said, “uhh…., honestly, it hasn’t even crossed my mind.”  :/  It would be fun, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I haven’t even made any cookies yet!  We put up some decorations last weekend, and we’ll get a tree this weekend. Maybe that will kick start the holiday spirit. :)  In the meantime, I’m enjoying my own little drummer boy right here.

Christmas 2017

We had a great Christmas in the new house this year! Calm, crazy, and cozy. <3 The weather made for difficult travel on the 23rd, so Mandy, Mema, Tom, and Rosy all came up on Christmas Eve. It felt like a traditional Christmas Eve with last minute cleaning and eager children waiting for relatives to arrive. :)

Rosy and Dad made a delicious Christmas Eve vegetable soup and we all settled in for Santa and snow for Christmas.

Christmas morning came with eager children, rowdy doggies, and lots and LOTS of snow!  Unfortunately that meant Aunt Katie couldn’t join us for presents Christmas morning.  It certainly made for a beautiful day though.

We enjoyed stockings and breakfast and presents and brunch and naps and cookies and all the love and family and fun.  Some crazy people (and pups) even chose to brave the elements and go out side, briefly.

I was not one of those people!

I chose to stay in the cozy warm house with hot tea and new games.

For Christmas dinner was had the most informal lasagna and salad possible.  My friend Eirene came over with her two boys and we had a nice cozy evening.

On Wednesday morning (the 26th), Katie came over for another round of Christmas.  The temperature had dropped significantly, but the sun was shining and the roads were clear-ish.

Wednesday afternoon brought swimming (at Rosy’s hotel), napping, and lots more cookie consumption.  Hmm… actually maybe I’m missing a day.  I think Tuesday was swimming and tater tot casserole for dinner.  Wednesday was… who can remember!  Wednesday evening we used our Christmas tickets from Greg and Kathy and went to the Lebanon Opera House to enjoy an awesome concert/comedy show.

Thanks Greg and Kathy!!!  It was fun and funny and loud!  :)

After the Christmas Day snow storm the temperatures dropped fast and we spent the week feeling very grateful for the cozy house.  The dogs went out to play a few times, but even they didn’t want to be outside for long.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas and peaceful end to 2017.