It's Time For Elf on the Shelf (Or Not!)

It's Time For Elf on the Shelf (Or Not!)

Any day now my Facebook news feed will be inundated with pictures of the cute and clever things my friends have done with their Elf on the Shelfs (Elves on the Shelves?), links to lists of cute and clever things to do with an Elf on the Shelf and posts from friends lamenting their lame, last minute efforts to do something with their Elf on the Shelf before their kiddos notice that he hasn't moved in a few days (quick, fling him down the stairs!).

We don't own an Elf on the Shelf for a number of highly significant reasons that are similar to the reasons we don't "do" Santa or the Easter Bunny at our house. That's not what the season is about, I don't like to try to convince my kids to believe things that aren't true because I want them to trust me, blah, blah, blah. If you choose to do the Elf on the Shelf, Santa, the Easter Bunny, leprechauns, fairies and unicorns etc. with your kids rest assured that I AM NOT JUDGING YOU. I've just chosen  to do things differently with my kids, for all the significant reasons I allude to above but also, and most importantly, because I am HORRIBLE at those kind of things.

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My Ten Step Family Reunion Survival Guide

Family is a complicated thing. I love my parents and brothers and sisters and I think we're a much closer than a lot of families. (When you grow up sharing one bathroom between eleven people, a bedroom with anywhere from one to eight siblings and occasionally a bed with one or more siblings, that tends to happen.) Sometimes there's drama or hurt feelings, but for the most part we enjoy spending time together and get along when we do. There are definitely issues that have carried over from childhood and plenty of personality conflicts but (from my perspective at least) they don't generally stand in the way of us feeling like a family. In fact, for many of us, our family members are our best friends and the only people we truly feel free to be ourselves with.

Extended family is a little different. Maybe it's because we have such a large family that we didn't feel the need for exceptionally close relationships with extended family growing up, maybe because we lived farther away from the rest of our extended family than they did from each other, maybe because many of us are introverted and/or shy and don't find it easy to talk to people we don't know well or maybe it involves interpersonal dynamics between my parents and their parents and siblings that I never understood as a child and still don't really grasp today...Whatever the reason, I don't feel particularly close to or comfortable with most of my extended family. This makes family reunions awkward, to say the least.

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Throwback Thursday: Update

Throwback Thursday: Update

I recently reviewed all the blog posts I've ever written for myself, starting in 2002! Some Thursdays I'll be reposting from my archives just for fun. The post below was originally published September 16th, 2002. Note my super-creative title. :) It's funny - Jordan looks so much older now, but Justin and I haven't aged a day (although we've definitely attained some wisdom along the way). Haven't witnessed a bar fight or any antler stealing in ages! ;)

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Missing Micah

Missing Micah

Yesterday my youngest brother left - he's moving to Montana. I'm so proud of him for making the leap and I'm really happy for him because I believe it will be a great change for him, but oh, how we'll miss him! He's such a ray of sunshine in all of our lives - silly, sweet, smart, strong (and smelly, I feel compelled to add, since he's our favorite sibling to pick on - lucky him!).

As the oldest of nine kids, I can't really imagine how it feels to be the youngest but I'm guessing it's hard to fully come into your own as an adult when you're surrounded by people who think of you as the babiest baby of the family. Micah's always been very much himself and he's certainly grown up into a wonderful and independent young man but I imagine living over a thousand miles away from most of his family will prove a truly defining experience in his life.

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Back To School Already?

I can't believe the second week of school is almost over (the third week for Karlye). This summer just flew by in a blur. Most of the things that make summer feel like summer to me didn't happen nearly as much or at all this year. I started a second job in December, so I worked more this summer than any in recent memory. That meant more chores for the kids, less get togethers with friends and less day trips to do fun stuff. Until last year we had a whole gang of neighbor kids hanging out and playing almost every day, but a couple families on our block moved and it's been really quiet around here ever since. Overall the weather was pretty cool, so we didn't hit up the beach much and we only went to the pool once. No family camping trip and no family vacation. We had the "fun" and expensive task of rebuilding our increasingly precarious deck instead. On the plus side, we now have a safe and gorgeous deck over twice the size of our previous one with stairs leading down to the back yard. Hooray for that!

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In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Last night my Grandma Ingrid passed on from this life to the next. I haven't seen her much in recent years. She moved away, and somehow I never found the time to visit until this fall. Although she and I had a good relationship, she'd said and done things that hurt people I cared about and sometimes she made critical remarks that made me really uncomfortable. I sent her letters occasionally, cards on her birthday and gifts for Christmas, but I wish I would have gone to see her more often. I think it would have made her happy. Although she did have strong opinions about a lot of things, including how other people should live their lives, she was a very giving person. I have so many wonderful memories of the times I spent with her. I saw her just a week ago, and although she was frail and got a little confused, we had a really nice visit. We talked a lot about the times my brothers, sisters and I spent with her as children. I told her she had been such a blessing to our family, and it must of been a lot of work for her to take care of so many of us. But she said no not really, it had been a lot of fun. I know it was for us. I love her so much and I'll miss her.

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Finally, Fall Fun

Finally, Fall Fun

Normally I love fall, except for the fact that it precedes winter. This year though, I've been feeling kind of "meh" about the whole fall thing. All of a sudden I feel like I'm too busy, it's too cold and it's getting dark too soon. October flew past in a blur and I'm already stressing about Christmas. We hadn't picked apples, gone for any hikes, made any leaf piles, put up Halloween decorations or carved jack o' lanterns. Thankfully today ended up being just the kind of fall day I was looking for. We started off with two chilly windy soccer games. Sasha had her last soccer game of the fall season and scored several goals. She has a great team and loved every minute of the season.

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Your Daughter Is A Rock Star!

A few weeks ago Jordan informed me that he's in the highest reading group in his class. Last week he told me that he'd moved up to 6th grade spelling. And this week we received the following email from Sasha's teacher.

Your Daughter Is A Rock Star!

Hannah - I forgot to mention this to you when you were in our room today. I told Sasha I would email or call you both to let you know that she did a great job working on kidblog today. I took my whole class to the computer lab today to write about their favorite fall activities. Sasha ended up being my hero. She listened well to directions because getting to kid blog and logging on can be tough. She also started walking around and helping everyone who needed help. She did it in such a nice way and was really patient with everyone (when I was about ready to pull my hair out lol.)

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Changes

September is, increasingly for us, a month of changes. As the seasons shift from summer to fall, the days, and especially the nights, are cooler. It's getting dark earlier. The kids have gone back to school. Karlye's mom moved so Karlye is attending 6th grade at a new school, in a new city, in a new state. Jordan started 5th grade at the local intermediate school. Sasha's still at the elementary school here in town, but first grade brings a new classroom, new teacher and new classmates. So far the kids are enjoying school and coping with the early mornings and more structured schedule just fine. I'm not loving the whole "waking up to an alarm clock again" deal, but I guess I don't really have a choice.

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Firsts

Firsts

This month we had several firsts. Sasha lost her first two teeth. She actually pulled the first one out herself! Since she's starting first grade she got to put her school supplies in her very own desk for the first time ever. Jordan and Karlye got their first locker shelves and other assorted locker paraphernalia and got to arrange their lockers for the first time. Charlie had his first doggy play date with our friends' miniature pinscher Pagoda and lived to tell the tale. (He's normally terrified of small dogs.) And I did my first mud run! 

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So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Well, it's official...summer is almost over and I can't say I'm particularly thrilled about it. I absolutely love summer. First of all, I'm not a morning person. At all. So not having to set an alarm is one of my all time favorite things. Secondly, I love warm weather. Being able to leave the house without having to pile on layers of clothes makes me very very happy. Also I love swimming, beaches, reading/napping under a shady tree, lemonade, iced tea and basil. Tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers are my favorite vegetables. And honestly, I love having my kids around.

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Finally, A "Boring" Day!

When Jordan was younger, he used to think that any day in which no one came over and we didn't go anywhere was boring. I tried and tried to explain the concept of nice normal days in which we could hang around the house, get things done and relax. He just wasn't buying it. Fast forward a few years and he seems to like nice normal stay at home "boring" days even more than I do.

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Praying for Polie

Every night when we say our night time prayers, we end with "And please bless Daddy and Mommy and Karlye and Jordan and Sasha and all our family and friends." Since we've gotten a dog, Sasha has insisted on adding Charlie to that list. Lately she's gotten very attached to Polie, the stuffed polar bear we bought her when I was pregnant with her. For the last couple of weeks, she's also insisted on adding Polie to the line up. Tonight, she asked God to help Polie's cold get better. He doesn't have a cold, as far as I know. I do, but I guess that doesn't rate with Miss Sasha. Half an hour later, I was saying night time prayers with Jordan. We got to "and all our family and friends" and Sasha yelled from her room, "AND POLIE!!!"

Easter 2011

Easter 2011

We had a wonderful Easter this year. Saturday we got together with Justin's Dad's side of the family. Jordan and Sasha had lots of fun playing with the other kids inside and out while Justin and I got to eat, relax and hang out with adults. Sunday I made sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches, which never happens and the kids hunted for and found their Easter baskets.

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Being Four Changes Everything

Being Four Changes Everything

The big day is finally here! Sasha has been talking about her golden birthday for months on end. She planned her guest list for her party about four months ago - her friends Mae & Violet, of course, and all the little neighbor girls. She planned the color of her gifts around the same time - some gold (for her golden birthday) and some "not gold". And she's been counting down the days until her birthday for at least a week (and making sure to tell everyone she saw how many days were left). When she got up this morning I was on the computer and she came and stood right by me, stood up as straight and tall as she could, and said, "Mom, Mom, look how big I am now!"

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N or M

Some of my favorite "Sasha-isms" are "naybe" instead of "maybe"and "grow-mup" instead of "grown-up". These are often used together in sentences that start out, "Naybe, when I'm a grow-mup..." The poor little girl tries so hard to keep up with her big brother and sister. When they're here she follows them around trying to play with them, talking and talking at them and trying to get their attention. When they're not here she spends a lot of time talking about what she'll do when she's as old as they are and imitating all the annoying things they do that I'd like a break from while they're gone. 

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"When I Grow Up"

"When I Grow Up"

About a week ago Jordan brought this picture home from school. It's a picture of him working in our basement (which we are currently finishing). I love how he even drew the step stool and the fan that Justin's been using down there. His goal for quite a while has been to be an artist when he grows up, so when I saw this I asked him about it. He said he guesses he'll be two things - an artist and a handyman. I thought that sounded like a pretty complementary combination. 

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Easter Weekend

Easter Weekend

We had a wonderful Easter weekend. Fairly relaxing, everyone was pretty healthy, the kids were happy, the weather was decent, and we made it to church with time to spare. On Good Friday we went to church in the evening. Saturday afternoon we spent at Justin's grandparents house, had lunch and the kids did an Easter egg hunt. This morning we went to church with my sister, brother-in-law and nephews. Then we went to their house for lunch with some of my family. Here's some of my favorite pictures from the weekend.

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Sasha's Third Birthday

Sasha's Third Birthday

The best thing about warm Novembers is going to the park for Sasha's birthday (this was our second year in a row). I felt bad because "the big day" was none too fun. Sasha was recovering from a fever (meaning mommy wouldn't let her have any sugar) and both Justin and I had to work, so the only time we were together was at breakfast. We did sing Happy Birthday before Jordan left for school, and I managed to dig up a gold party hat and three yellow balloons (the last ones in the party box). We didn't even have her present because we decided to get her a sled and Target (the only store we'd had time to look at) didn't have them in stock yet.

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