Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Hodge Podge Christmas Tree of Memories

I sometimes feel a bit envious when I see photographs of Christmas trees where everything matches perfectly or fits some sort of cute theme.  But every year when I decorate my own Christmas tree, I fall in love with it all over again. 

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Almost every ornament on our tree has a memory attached to it.  A story that goes with it.  This is probably why decorating the tree can take me quite a while.  I like to take my time with my memories.

We have first Christmases…

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…and a first Christmas as a married couple.

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We also try to pick up ornaments when we go sightseeing.

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Jarrod and I picked this next one up on our second date.

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The next ornament is our favorite find while out sightseeing.

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So where did we find this cute Aggie ornament?  Well, not in College Station, Texas.  No, we found this jewel at a cloisonné factory on our trip to China!  Talk about a diamond in the rough!

Jarrod and I loved our time living on Guam.  We’ll be able to show our kids exactly where we lived thanks to this ornament.

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We also have ornaments from both of the sea commands Jarrod has been attached to.

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When my brother and I were younger, my mom used to make us ornaments every year.  This is one of my favorites of the ones that she made me.

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Jarrod is a wee bit of a Star Wars nerd, and to most of his childhood friends, he is still known as “Chewy.” 

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I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with these ornaments. 

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Holy moly do these things shed glitter!  Once I finish putting up the 10 or so snow babies that I have, I’ve got glitter all over the floor, on my hands, in my hair….  But they’re so darn cute!  And I have the wonderful memory of painting these with my Aunt Carol’s help nearly 15 years ago.

I laugh every time I pull this one out of the box.  I’m not quite sure how the ornament has survived as long as it has without getting tossed in the trash (by my parents when it hung on their tree or by me now that it hangs on our tree). 

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I may be sixty years old and still have a third grade honor roll ornament on my tree! 

And, of course, there is always the reason for the season.

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So in putting this post together, I realized that our Christmas tree does have a theme to it – a memories theme!

This post is linked to: Christmas Tree Linky Party @ Thrifty Décor Chick

Monday, November 28, 2011

Introducing Snickers the Elf

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The Elf on the Shelf made his debut in our house today.  I DVR’d the Elf on the Shelf movie that aired on TV last Friday.  The kids had already watched it a couple of times, and Trenton knew exactly what this little guy was (and that if he touches him, he will lose his magic).  After reading the book, we worked on picking out a name.  Trenton and Charlotte both wanted to name him Cookie, but we have friends that named their elf Cookie and we didn’t want Santa to get confused.  Trenton then suggested Snickerdoodle since that is our elf’s favorite cookie.  Since Charlotte can’t say Snickerdoodle, we decided on a shorter version of the name – Snickers! 

Snickers will fly back to the North Pole each night to give Santa a report on how Charlotte and Trenton behaved that day.  Then he will fly back to our house and find a new spot to hang out for the day.  I can’t wait to see where Snickers favorite spots are!  And I’m also hoping that having Snickers around will help convince my kids to share and to listen to Mommy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Turkey Day

Our Thanksgiving didn’t go quite as planned (both kids were sick), but we were still able to make the most of it while giving thanks for all of our blessings.

Before sickness set in, I made these cute little turkey treats for Trenton’s preschool class.

Turkey Treats

- Body – Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treat
- Tail Feathers – Candy Corn
- Head – Whopper
- Beak – Orange Twizzler
- Snood – Red Twizzler
- Eyes – Chocolate Icing mixed with black icing color
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Then Charlotte got a double ear infection and Trenton got a nasty cold.  We stayed in and were unable to go to a friend’s house as planned on Thanksgiving, but we had fun watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and eating turkey and stuffing roll ups (well, I did – the kids didn’t have much of an appetite).  The annual Aggie/Longhorn game was supposed to be on my list of fun things for the day, but watching the game wasn’t a whole lot of fun for this A&M grad.

The kids both woke up fever free yesterday.  They still had gross noses, but hopefully they are on the mend.  Jarrod’s cousin and her husband who live about 45 minutes away from us were having their Thanksgiving last night, and they invited us over.  The food was excellent, the company was wonderful, and it was great to get out of the house!

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A certain little boy wasn’t too keen on taking pictures, so we didn’t get any good ones of him.

We hope all of you had a very happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Coliseum Central Holiday Parade

We met up with some friends last weekend to watch our first Christmas parade of the season.  The weather has been unseasonable warm here, but on the morning of the parade, temps dipped down into the 30s making it feel a little more like Christmas.  Lucky for my cold-natured self, the sun was out making it feel a lot warmer than it actually was.  The kids loved the parade.  Trenton was of course most excited about the police cars and fire truck.  Charlotte was all about the balloons.  Both kids were pretty excited about seeing Santa Claus too.  We’ll see if that excitement carries over to sitting on the jolly old fellow’s lap!

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This next picture is from while we were waiting on the parade to get started.  Charlotte kept wanting to run off and visit all of the people sitting around us.  She was about to run off once again, and I told her that she needed to stay with us.  She stopped, looked back at me, gave me this look, and turned back around and ran off!

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I can only imagine what this one is going to be like in her teenage years!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ready for Daddies to Come Home

You may remember the paper chain that we made last year while Jarrod was in Afghanistan.  We put it up a little over a month before Jarrod got home, and it was mostly for me since the kids were really too young to understand.

Fast forward to this year, and Jarrod is deployed again – this time on an aircraft carrier.  Jarrod was in Texas for my brother’s wedding, and then flew back here to Virginia to deploy with the ship.  The kids and I stayed in Texas for a little while with my parents, but when we got back here, we immediately got to work on a new countdown chain.

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And it was three and a half loops around the shelf. 

Charlotte is still a little young to understand, but I explained to Trenton that we would take a link off of the chain each night before bed.  When all of the links were gone, Daddy would come home.

He looked up at the shelf one morning last week while he was eating breakfast and exclaimed, “There almost no more links.  Daddy be home soon!”

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Yes, we are getting closer.  Trenton is so ready for his Daddy to be home.  On Sunday as we were parking the car at church he told me, “When all the links gone, Daddy come home and come to church with us.  He drive and you sit right here.”  He was pointing to the passenger seat.  He also wants Daddy to take him to preschool, the museum, and on the “big ship.”

Charlotte misses Daddy too, but she doesn’t understand the concept of time or that we are getting closer to him coming home.  That doesn’t stop her from walking around the house showing me every picture of Daddy that she can find!

It’s amazing to see a deployment through a child’s eyes.  It is hard to see a child miss their parent, but it also gives you strength to see how hopeful and excited they are that their parent will return. 

Our friend Jacob has been in Afghanistan since the spring and is currently on his way home.  His wife Beth wrote this yesterday. 

Silly Me

For the first time in eight months, I broke down today and cried.

You would think dropping Jacob off at the airport would have started the water-works, but I drove home dry eyed that day in March. At little William's delivery? I was all smiles (at least after the epidural!). For months now, every time Sarah Noelle would wave to the planes passing overhead, yelling "I love you Dada!", I would simply wave, too.

How do you convey so abstract a concept as time to a two year old child? I told her, "Daddy will be home a little while after Halloween, before Christmas."

I'm not sure how much that meant to her, but she listened, and the first time she spoke with Jacob via web- cam, she said, "Christmas Tree?"

As the weeks quickly added into months, her speech improved, and she would tell me, "Daddy will come home when it's Christmas, and he will get me a Christmas Tree!"

With the typical relentless obsessiveness of a child her age, she clung to this idea, and whenever we mentioned her father's home-coming, she would bring up the Christmas Tree.

November has finally arrived! TODAY Jacob's plane departs the Middle East, headed for the United States of America!!! Needless to say, I have a lot of preparations to make, so this morning I went to the store with the children for supplies; I even had a list.

As I was staring down at the list in my hand, Sarah Noelle started asking excitedly, "Mommy, I can go over there?"

I told her okay, and she ran across the aisle as I watched. Off of the shelf she grabbed a two-foot tall, wire Christmas Tree, all covered in sparkly gold glitter.

"Mommy, Mommy, LOOK!" she yelled. "It is Christmas now! Dada can come home!"

And that is when I started to cry. The sight of Sarah Noelle clutching that tree, grinning up at me, shedding golden glitter all over the floor; the knowledge that Jacob IS finally on his way home really hit me, and almost took my breath away.

"Mommy, you hurt?" she asked me.

I tried to explain that sometimes people cry when they are happy.

She tilted her head, and mirrored back one of my own expressions, the one that asks if someone has lost their mind. Shaking her head, she told me, "Mommy, you so silly!"

Perhaps I am silly. I am also excited, giddy, and ridiculously happy. Jacob will be home soon! And guess what? This one year, we are going to put up our Christmas Tree early.

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We are so glad that this family will soon be reunited and that Jacob will get to meet his son! 

I am looking forward to taking that last link off the chain with Trenton.  And at that point, when I can say “Daddy is coming home today," I’m sure Charlotte will understand too and be just as excited as her big brother – and their mommy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kiddo Photos

While we were back in Texas last month, I scheduled a portrait session for the kids with Eilts Photography.  This was the first time I had used Jon, but I had seen his work, and I was really excited to have him snap some photos of the kiddos.

The plan was to do the photo session on my birthday.  Right as we were walking out of Mom and Dad’s house, Charlotte threw up.  I thought it was just a fluke, and we went on to the farm where we were taking pictures.  Charlotte threw up most of the way there, and was still throwing up when we got there.  Ugh. 

Thankfully Jon had another opening a couple days later.  Charlotte was feeling better, and Jon was able to get some great pictures.  Below are some of my favorites.  There were so many good ones, that it was hard to pick just a few.

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I love how they turned out! 

And what do you think about their clothes?  I got them picked out kind of last minute.  A few days before flying to Texas, I was hanging up clothes.  I was putting the $10 Target shirt that Trenton wore his first day of preschool on a hanger, and I remembered that I had some fabric in my stash that I thought might match the shirt.  I pulled the fabric out, and sure enough, it matched perfectly!  Once I had the fabric, I knew exactly what to do with it.  I had been eyeing the tutorial to this top on Pinterest for a while, and now was the perfect opportunity to make it!  I knocked out most of the sewing before we left for Texas, and since my mom has a sewing machine (who do you think taught me how to sew?), I was able to get the finishing touches done there.  Gathering all of the ruffles was pretty tedious business, but the shirt turned out adorable.  I’m already planning to make Charlotte a few more for next summer.

I can’t wait to get some of these pictures up on my walls!