Tuesday, December 10, 2013

11th Annual Ornament Decorating Party

From what we can remember, this tradition of ours was started back in 2002.  That makes this year our 11th Annual Ornament Decorating Party with our good friends, The Ziegelmeier's.  As I look back on my blog at some of these parties of years past, it is unbelievable to me that all this time has gone by.

Here is a photo from our 4th party in 2005:

And one from this year:  

Since we've begun, Maia and Brianna were born - Diondra grew up and went off to college and Haley, Keira and Jake are teenagers or are almost there.

Our families have endured wonderful times and sorrows.  We've lost grandparents, endured Sandy Hook, changed jobs and Kristin has battled and beat cancer.

We've lost two cats and gained a dog.  Ate many dinners together and leaned on each other for advice and strength.

Each year Kristin and I go shopping together after researching ideas for homemade ornaments.  I think the shopping and planning is one of the best parts.

We have never missed a year but this year breast cancer threatened to take this tradition away from us...

But we're too strong for that.  So, instead, Kristin kicked cancer's ass and came back stronger than ever and shared a delicious drink to celebrate.
We look forward to another 11 years and many more together and will have trees FULL of decorations to remind us of of this wonderful gift of life we've shared.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thankfully Simple

This year we were invited to this really wonderful event that friends put together.  It is a complete Outdoor Thanksgiving celebration.  Everyone brings something and they enjoy a true Thanksgiving meal together outdoors.  We had every kind of food and drink you could imagine and, of course, turkey.
The kids really enjoyed hiking and playing in the woods.  A friend of ours brought the girls all the way to the top of the mountain which was a pretty big adventure and they loved it.
It was FREEZING outside... not as cold as it could have been but enough to make it uncomfortable unless you were next to the fire so everyone gathered there to warm up when needed.
Of course, we also had our regular Thanksgiving celebration at home as well.  Dee came home and brought an international friend from college so he didn't have to be alone for Thanksgiving.  He's from Costa Rica and I was blown away to see my girl and him carrying on conversations fluently in Spanish. She has studied Spanish since high school and has decided to make it her Minor but I had not realized how good she was until this visit home.
I am thankful that my girls love each other like this.  I love it when they are all home with me and cherish each moment.  They were so happy to have their sister home for Thanksgiving.


I cooked the traditional turkey and sides.  Brianna and Maia helped me in the kitchen and Keira helped me set the table and get the house ready.  We only had my mom and aunt this year in addition to our family and it was nice and relaxed.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to enjoy the simple pleasures of warmth, home, food, family and friends.  xoxo

Monday, November 11, 2013

Native American Field Trip and Martinmas Lanterns

Today was a good, full day.  The girls are usually off from school on Election Day but our town has recently changed that and the schools were open this year.  When I heard a local homeschool group was going to do the Native American Program at New Pond Farm this day, I decided it would be fine for the girls to play a little hookie.  We've done this field trip before and it is so wonderful.  It's also educational so I have no problem with them doing things like this once in awhile to supplement their learning.  

Once again, we learned about the Woodland Indians that used to occupy the woods of where we live.  It is amazing to learn how they survived the very cold winters and conditions that this area can bring.  We realized that they had no choice but to utilize animal skins and furs to keep warm and eat.

Their homes may not seem to be sturdy from these photos but they were not moved by Hurricane Sandy last year - not one bit of damage.  

The children really enjoyed going inside the Wigwam.  It was interesting to them how close the people slept next to each other and how they kept an indoor fire to keep warm in the center.  

We learned how the Woodland Indians cooked their food, warmed their maple syrup and invented cornbread.  This was the part of the trip the girls were looking forward to the most.  They love eating the cornbread next to the fire.  It was good!

 Today is also Martinmas or The Feast of St. Martin.  St. Martinwas said to be a man of peace and generosity.  He did not want to fight but obeyed the law and served in the military as he was required to.  He took the earnings he made as a solider and gave it to needy families.  One story tells of how he cut his own cloak in half to warm a homeless beggar on the street who was Christ in disguise.  Martin of Tours is the patron saint of soldiers so it is a fitting day to share with Veterans.  
One of my former daycare children came to visit with us tonight.  Her family is moving to Maine and her parents used the evening to get some packing done.  Boy do I miss working with children like this.  We made special lanterns to celebrate Martinmas, ate dinner together and the kids played together so nicely.  She is like family from so many years growing up in my home and I will be so sad to see her family leave as they've become good friends too.  Bittersweet feelings tonight have left me feeling a bit emotional.  A lot of thoughts on my mind.
So my girls are in bed, I've lit our little lanterns, made some tea and I'm allowing myself to sulk a little while before I go to sleep.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Halloween Came and Went...


This year Halloween was not CANCELED as it had been the last two years in our town due to storms!  As a result, our regular seasonal traditions took place :)
The girls all worked together to cut and clean out our pumpkins.  Brianna's face is the best!  She seemed so grossed out by the slimy mess yet it didn't stop her from playing with it and getting her hands all in it! 

Keira is old enough now to do much of the carving like Dee used to.  We miss having her home when we do things like this together.  It's hard when your baby leaves for college.  

The girls love helping me get the seeds out so we can roast them.  I learned years ago that the only way to get the seeds the way we like them is to boil them first with some salt and then roast them in the oven until they are just right.   
For years and years, I've wanted to grow our own pumpkins to carve for Halloween.  I've tried and tried but my garden has not always turned out the way I wanted... but this year I did it!!!  One large enough carving pumpkin made it through the season - can you guess which one it is????  
Keira had the wonderful idea to save our own pumpkin seeds this year so that we can plant them in our garden again for next year.  I can't explain how cool it feels to save your own seeds.  One step towards self-sufficiency, right?  Now if we could only live off of pumpkins!  :)