Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye to 2008

Well, it's almost here, 2009. As I look back I see so much growth in all of us, especially the children.

Analiese has flourished in kindergarten, the decision to move Matthew back to first grade has turned out to be the best thing we could have done for him, Gracie's teacher, who was our "second choice", has turned out to be the best choice and Sarah has shown all of us that she can and will rise to the occasion!

Our year has been a good year. We've weathered the financial crisis' and have taken the opportunity to teach the kids important lessons. There really is positive in everything! We've celebrated talents in Grace and in Sarah and had to ponder the "what ifs". We eagerly anticipate what 2009 will bring for these girls.

The twins, Thomas and William, seemed to have found themselves! William has let his hair grow (including a goatee, like Shaggy!) and joined a fraternity, while Thomas has focused his energies into studying. James meanwhile, is looking at going to a military academy instead of a traditional college.

Dave and I are so grateful that we end this year in good health and with stable jobs. We are so very blessed to be parents to 7 wonderful children. We've made some new friends this year and feel so excited to get to know these people better!

Overall, 2008 was a good year for us! I am so proud of my kids and feel so blessed to be their mom (or stepmom!). I so remember, years ago, wishing and wishing that I'd become a Mom in the coming year. Now that I am a mom my wish is to be the best mom I can children deserve only the best! Happy 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Preparing for Santa

Making cookies for Santa

I can't wait to see what I got!

What can it be?

Oh look, Jammies!

Oh, what a surprise, jammies for me!

Our first gift of Christmas

Making Gram's Cake

A cup of butter

Sift the flour

Cookies and Milk

Oh what a wonderful Christmas Eve! We started with baking and decorating cookies; only the best will be put out for Santa. Then Sarah, Grace and I went to the church to see the children's pageant--always a treat. After dinner Grace, Matthew and Analiese went out and spread the reindeer food on the lawn. Sure hope there's enough for ALL of the reindeer!

Sarah, Grace and I baked a cake that my Gram used to make every year. It was the BEST cake in the world! I finally thought to ask my mom for the recipe and she sent it. So, the girls and I followed the recipe to a T and I hope that it tastes as good as what I remember. Thanks Gram, I sure miss you!

The kids got to open their one gift---of course new pajamas! It's a tradition that the kids get to open one gift on Christmas Eve. When Sarah was very little it was a special gift from me to her--jewelry or a keepsake. When Grace came along it continued to be a special gift, maybe an ornament for the tree. But since Analiese came home, it's been special pajamas. It's funny, the kids still get really excited to open that first gift!

We called NORAD and Analiese (YEAH!) got to ask where Santa was. She forgot by the time she hung up the phone but boy did she smile from ear-to-ear when she heard the news!

Bedtime finally arrived and the kids chose the BEST cookies for Santa and filled up his milk glass. They are trying hard to beat that 9:00 PM deadline he gave them when we road the Polar Express last week. Matthew, of course, went right to sleep. Grace and Analiese are just too excited. I sure hope they get to bed soon...

Oh, on a silly side note, I bought a "catnip gumball" to put in the cats' stocking. I had it in a bag, in ANOTHER separate bag, in my closet with other gifts. Those silly cats chewed through the bags and stole that gum ball! I had to go back to PETSMART and replace that gift. They were out of "catnip gumballs" but did have some "catnip Mice". I'm alittle afraid to put them in their stockings for fear of what I'll find in the morning. Even the silly cats can't wait for Santa to get here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Polar Express

Arrival at the Train Station

The North Pole City

Mom and Dad

Grace and Sarah

Analiese and Matthew

Look Santa!

Gather around and listen

Tell me again what you want...

Ballet Pointe shoes...

I love you, Santa!

We took a ride on the Polar Express courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Railroad. The drive up there wasn't very long but it rained the entire way--not very Christmassy! The kids didn't care, they chatted all about the adventure and told Matthew what to expect.

We got there just as the train was loading and jumped aboard. No sooner did we begin and the snacks were served. Unfortunately, and to the kids disappointment, we didn't get hot chocolate but Yoohoo chocolate drink--Yuck, Yuck and double Yuck! The gingerbread cookie was tasty but I didn't attempt the drink.

The magic tunnel took us very quickly to the North Pole where Santa and his elves were busy loading the storage cars with all of the toys that were going to be loaded onto the sleigh. Santa boarded the train and spent time with each child.

I must say, this Santa was awesome. He immediately put Analiese on his lap and pulled the other kids around him. The kids all told him what they wanted and when I told Santa that Matthew was having a hard time following the rules at home, Santa had a WONDERFUL answer. He gathered the children close to him and told them that if they followed 3 basic rules; never say or do anything that could hurt another's feelings, never lie and always listen to the adults (parents, teachers and other important people), they would find all that they wanted under the Christmas tree. BUT, each time they broke one of those rules they would lose one item. And the item that went first was the item they wanted the MOST! I was really impressed and have reminded the children several times of what Santa said!

The remainder of the trip we sang songs and the kids did a small parade when Mrs. Claus boarded the train. Overall this trip was not as magical or as fun as was the one in Bryson, North Carolina. But, the kids enjoyed themselves and that's all that really matters. Sadly, I think this might be our last journey to the North Pole.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Enjoying the Nutcracker and Cast Party

As promised, some photos of our visit to the Nutcracker and the cast party. Unfortunately we could not take photos of the production. Enjoy!

Sarah enjoying her "break-a-leg" gifts!

One proud Papa!

Gracie and Analiese dancing away!

Matthew all dressed up

Beautiful Gracie!

Analiese enjoying the music

Sarah and her friend Emily

Swing your partner!

In the Fox Theatre lobby

Go away, I'm eating!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sweet Baby Sarah

Sarah as Skitter the Mouse

Flowers from Mom-Mom

Sarah's first performance in the Nutcracker was magical! She was, of course, very nervous, but also extremely excited. Driving to the theatre she wanted me to hold her hand. When it was time to drop her off at the stage door you could see the anxiety in her face.

But, as usual, Sarah was graceful and poised in her performance! My eyes were glued to her for the entire 2 minutes she was on stage (was it that long????). It really was a magical moment!

Grace and Analiese were dressed in their fancy dresses and Matthew was all spiffed out in sweater and cords (very handsome! Photos to come!). They were mesmerized by the theatre and the atmosphere only increased their excitement! During Act I they sat, eyes glued to the stage. Matthew did ask questions throughout, trying to make sense of it all. It was during Act II that Analiese fell asleep and Matthew became restless. All in all the kids enjoyed the show!

Sarah had some great support! The administration from our elementary school attended as did the secretary and her family, as well a numerous teachers! The PE coaches, unable to attend the performance, gave Sarah a bouquet of flowers on Friday! They all really helped to make the experience a memorable one for her!

The cast party was crazy, but lots of fun. Of course there was lots of dancing, food and running around. Sarah tells me she just can't wait to perform next year. Next year? She still has three performances left THIS year!