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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Memories of a Tree Lot

One of my favorite memories from my childhood is going to the tree lot to pick out a Christmas Tree. I don't know why this memory resonates so much more than others, but it just...does. There was something about picking out the right shape, the right height, the right smell and just knowing that soon after, there would be the decorating festivities. I even remember fondly tossing the tree (well, not me, I was just a child, for Pete's Sake) into the back of the car and then pulling it out once we got home, leaving behind a whole mess of needles. Then we'd leave the tree for a few hours "just to rest and let it fall." Yep. It's all part of the memory. 

I recall the teamwork it took to place the tree into its stand, with one person (my mom or dad) likely on his or her belly beneath the tree, ready to screw the bolts into the trunk while the other person (my dad or mom) held the tree while heeding the advice of my sister or me as to which direction to lean it..."A little more to the left, little more, little bit, --nope! Too far. Go back a little bit, almost, yep, yep. Right there!" 

 Fast forward to my grown up years and my marriage to an "artificial tree" kinda guy and here we are trying to recreate these memories for our own kids in a different kind of way. No, I haven't converted the hubster to having a real tree yet, so instead, we just go along with whomever happens to be getting a real tree that year. In this case, it was my Mom & Al and Mary. 

Not my mom and dad, but my mom and Al--another reminder that  part of growing up is accepting that though my "family" is no longer the same unit it once was, we are all still family. Traditions my parents created for us when we were little, continue. Each of them have independently worked hard to maintain all the little details of what we remember growing up. 
And we've woven some really great new people into our traditions and even started some new ones. 

Sometimes, what we thought would never be the same, is somehow better. 
And I'm just grateful for all my families.  :)

And it's all good. 

 I am grateful for the effort my parents put forth when I was young, because it has shaped the way Brian and I are raising our babies and our mutual agreement on the importance of creating THEIR memories. 

And going to the tree lot? Yeah, it'll be one of 'em. 

So we went to the same tree lot we've been going to since I can remember and were first greeted with a 'surprise in a can' which Al had brought for the kids....

No surprise, Ethan the fearless took right to it. If we'd had a piece of string and a collar, he would've made it a leash and taken it home to raise. 
Hunter wasn't AS open to the idea of this critter crawling all over her, but she warmed up to it a heck of a lot quicker than Colton. 
But he got there in his own time. 
Even my little niece, Brinley got in on the action. 
Grasshopper away, let's get a tree! (Me and my trademark Chai Tea Latte in hand)

"Picking out a tree is hard work. Can someone please hold my purse?"

Look at these sweet little tree huggers of mine...

"Oh I hope, I hope, I hope, we get a BIG tree!"
Grammy carried Hunter in and out of the rows of trees. (Cuz you know, sometimes it's dark and scary in there)

Auntie Ami making raspberries at Brinley! (For the record, she was totally cracking up!) 

And then there's Al and Ethan.  :) 

Kisses for my little niece! 
Aunt Mary and Brinley

This little boy...THIS little boy. 
A little ball of sweet-huggable-Dennis-the-Menace-kinda-trouble-making-raspy-voice-wrap-you-round-his-little-finger-giggling-kissing-kinda boy. 
Seriously. When did they grow up?

I've often wondered how many times babies get kissed in their lifetimes. 
Too many to count. 

Me and my mini-me

This adventure found us at McDonald's afterward! Yahoo for happy meals!(don't know what happened to all the other pictures from our lunch...

Luckily, we DID catch the kids tasting the falling rain.

I wanna be (almost) 3 again! 

To borrow my blog friend and fellow triplet mama, Stacey's Christmas Card Quote, 
"Merry Everything, Happy Always!" to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Perhaps it's a Christmas miracle. I blogged.

Stop reading everyone else's, and go do your own damn blog!

There. I said it for you. (I read minds, you know.)

There is so much life I'm loving right now and it's not that I've missed it, but I've missed recording it and sharing it and enjoying it over and over again.

Life happens fast. So fast. Lately, the concept of 'time' seems to be very "in your face." Students I taught 10 years ago reappearing to say "Merry Christmas Miss Daniels, err, Mrs. Bunch" remind me that those itty bitty kindergarteners whom I SWEAR I taught just yesterday are in high school now which means my own itty bitty babies' bums will soon be filling the chairs of my kindergarten class.  {Triple Gulp}

2012 is practically knocking down the door, which immediately reminds me that with it will be among other things, my 3 babies' 3rd birthdays, 3 years till my 20th HS reunion. (HOLY CRAP! Didn't I JUST sneak out the window and walk down to the Circle K with my friend Heather like all cool middle schoolers do?)

And there are the adorable "Christmas countdown blocks" that one of my student's moms made me. The fact that the numbers 0 and 6 (as in 06 not 60) are staring back at me is kinda freakin' me out.

And then there's the whole "I could really use another 2 hours in the day phenomenon." Okay, who am I kidding? I could really use another 6 hours. I haven't been to bed before midnight or 1 am in the longest time. Which would be fine if not for the 5 a.m. alarm that yells in my ear  5 days a week. Luckily, I am on vacation right now so that alarm clock is kindly hibernating and in return, my alarm now goes off at about 8:30 each morning to the tune of 3 little faces peering out into my room over their gate, "Mommy! Good morning Mommy!" Oodles more pleasant...

The cycle never ends. Entertain the kids, clean up their messes, make dinner, clean up that mess while entertaining the kids. Do your report cards, make an ornament or two, clean up that mess while distracting 3 kids, play with the kids again, clean the fish bowl, do lesson plans, cut 165 snowman arms, 86 pieces of orange felt noses, clean up that mess, laminate your students ornaments, field a call from hubby saying he won't be home tonight and will be leaving the state for a day, take kids with you to Target because you have no one home to watch them now, do more report cards, drink "Mommy Juice", jammy up and diaper 3 kids, put them to bed, listen to them jump on beds for the next hour, go up and remind them to go to sleep at least 2 times during that hour, check FB, read blogs, start a new post on your own blog. Fall asleep drooling over the laptop leaving blog unfinished. Again. This is my life.

I have tried. I really, really have tried to keep up my blog lately, but 1 a.m. comes so darn quickly and though it's not much, I really DO need those 4 hours of sleep.

Luckily, I don't require much sleep to function and still be a pleasant person, so I've not missed the life that has been happening before my eyes. Here's the bits and pieces of what I'm lovin' right now.

I. Love. To. Shop. I especially love to shop for others at holiday times. And I EVEN love to shop with my kids. I prefer to have another adult come along, but let's be honest, that is not always an option. So I've learned to shop alone with my trio quite successfully. Yes, I have had moments of deep regret while strolling through Target with cranky, cranky kids, but for the most part, they are good shoppers. The one thing I learned early on is that if you don't just get out and do it, you'll never be comfortable to go out in public with triplets. Young, rascally, funny triplets. So I pretty much like to think I'm a pro now. The key is to play out every possible scenario before you get there...what will you do if you have to park far away? What if there are no carts? Who will hold hands with whom? Are we shopping leisurely or do we have an item in mind? Etc. Etc. (So yeah, I might still be crazy, but I've got this thing bagged!) We've been to Michael's several times this month and I caught this photo of us the other day in the shopping cart on our way into the store. It was so cute, but unfortunately at the last moment, Ethan ducked and so the 3rd kid head is kind of missing. I was seriously bummed. Nerd, I know.

We put our tree up a few days after Thanksgiving and I proceeded to decorate it late one night, using caution to place all fragile ornaments on the upper 2/3 of the tree, leaving the kids' ornaments down low. I had no idea how interested they would be. It makes me all giddy inside to see the kids standing around the tree, pointing to all the ornaments and discussing them with one another. "Look Honter, dhere's mommy and dhere's daddy." They absolutely love finding the ornaments that have their photos on them and they promptly take them off the tree and carry them around the house for the next hour. At 8 months old, I made Santa Hand ornaments using their little itty bitty handprints and they think it's so neat to place their almost 3 year old hands on top of their baby handprints and say, "I so big now."  :) {Insert tug at heartstrings here}. "Yes babies, you are so big now."

Our First Christmas: Handprint Santas

2nd Christmas: Handprint Trees

3rd Christmas: Handprint Reindeer

I said I wasn't gonna do it this year, but I caved. I wanted the memories and I wanted to add another element of holiday fun to our family. It's the beginning of a new tradition. I'm talking about the 'Elf on the Shelf". I contributed my $30.00 to the the geniuses that are making millions off a plastic doll whose sole purpose in life is to "watch kids and report his findings to Santa." Yeah, we did it. And I'm sure glad we did.

He doesn't get his magic until you give him a name. So to help aid the process, Brian and I  offered some suggestions for the kids to choose from. (Had we left it their devices, his name would've been either Buzz, Woody, Mickey, Goofy or Minnie.) Cute now, but later in life, I think there would have been some regret. (On my part- not theirs, I'm sure.) Or maybe I'm just too controlling and really wanted our elf to have an 'elfish' name (whatever that is.) So we brainstormed and then offered the kids theses choices: 'Randall' or 'Bernard.' They took turns saying both names and then each was asked the question, "Do you like Randall or Bernard?" And well, I'd like to introduce you to Randall Bunch, house elf.

Randall is pretty much a celebrity in the house right now. The kids wake up and we immediately start looking for Randall's hiding spot for the day. This is usually followed by 3 squeaky voices excitedly questioning "Wandall, what you doin in my tree?" or "Hey Wandall, why you upsy down?" Hilarious. No one goes to bed without proper elf g'nites. "Good night Wandall. I love you Wandall. See you soon Wandall."

Reading the Story the first night...

(If memory serves, we were *poofing* Randall to give him his powers)

The rules say you can't touch the elves, so Dad is giving them their first close up look at Randall

Clever little elf, he is. Check out just a few of his 'hang out' spots.
In the tree

Hanging from the air vents

Hanging from the blinds

Sitting on the wreath

Hanging on the freezer

Not only that, when we return from any outing and approach the entrance to our subdivision, Hunter ALWAYS exclaims, "Paper's home!" (meaning Piper, our dog.) Seriously, it never fails. But now, as soon as our car reaches that magical point in the neighborhood, she exclaims, "Paper's home! Randall's home! Jag's home! Gracie's home! Nemo's home!" Apparently, he is family now.

But do they get it? Do they get why Randall's really here? Um, not entirely, but enough. We've noticed it in their language. Lately, when someone gets into trouble, someone can be heard saying, "Don't be naughty. Randall doesn't like that. Brian even overheard Hunter talking to Colton in their bedroom saying, "Don't tell Randall, okay Buddy? Don't tell Randall." Hunter knows more than the boys that Randall reports what he sees to 'Santa Laws." I love it.

It's not that the only time of year to do crafts is in December, but for some reason, they just FEEL more fun when they are done in preparation for the holidays...So I'm loving it. I love the messes but only because I love what comes from the mess. Little kids, big projects....

Salt Dough Ornaments

Painting her ornament now that it's cooked!

Painting his ornament. (Ethan was too busy playing)

Snowman Coloring Pages

And of course, crafting with the girls. This was our 5th? 6th? annual Cookie/Craft Get Together! We have such a great time every year and it's always interesting how the crafts have changed, the conversations have changed, the whole dynamic has changed. When we started doing this, I don't think any of us had kids....now, there are 9 kids between us. HOLY CRAP! We leave the kids at home (or at Grammy's house, in my case) so that we can have one leisurely night to hang out. I look forward to this event every year! Thanks for the laughs, girls. 
Mary, Sarah, Me, Anabelle, Nicole

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. So much more to write about, but I really don't want to delay any further! I feel like if I don't hit publish in the next 5 minutes, it'll be a week from now that I finally do! 
So happy holidays to you.

Be extra nice today. 
And don't eat too much chocolate. 

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