Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Cool New Year's Eve Night

Christmas presents that kept the boys occupied for days!

It's New Year's Eve around 6 p.m.  At this moment, I should be sitting at a cozy restaurant cuddling up to my husband and kids with good friends in tow.  Instead, I'm sitting at my computer bundled in about thirty layers.  The house is quiet and dark (and COLD).  Husband and kids went to the restaurant.  I am home alone.   

I'm sitting at the computer while a repairman fixes our heater.  Our heater went kaput (technical term) this afternoon, and left our home feeling like an igloo.  Even as I type, my fingers feel numb and my nose is dripping in the chill.  With temperatures predicted in the 10s, we thought heat might be important, and so we called for a repair.  And for those unfamiliar, repairman LOVE to come on New Year's Eve and certainly would NEVER think about charging a dime more than regular pay:)  

(Ok, that was a bit snarky.  As a wife of an ER doctor who works many a New Year's Eve...and other holidays, I realize how having a spouse working on a holiday really stinks.  Blessings to the wives, husbands, or families who were left alone this holiday night so we could have heat!)


The heating company gave us a 5 p.m. to midnight window for a repairman to show.  Since this isn't our first repairman rodeo, we expected our service call to arrive about, say 11:59 p.m. And so, we left dinner reservations in place.  And despite the chill, I pulled on skinny jeans and a sparkling top and readied myself for a delicious dinner with friends.

Right as we were pulling on winter coats and fastening gloves, the repairman called and announced he was on his way.  I instantly deemed this a history making service call.  And for the first time ever, I cursed the serviceman for his timely arrival.

What to do?

I sent my hubbie and kids off for an amazing dinner, and I bundled up and stayed put.  I invited myself to a personal pity party.  Reservation One.  My New Year's Eve plans were tattered.  Cue the sad violins.

The service man arrived on time.  Of course.  Currently, he's hacking away at our furnace.  He summed up the situation, and then offered advice like a doctor eyeing a patient inches away from death.

It looks bad, he murmured.

Furnaces your age don't have much more life, he sighed.  

Gradually, he prepared me for the mourning process.  Our furnace is elderly, and it may quite possibly have expired.  

Happy New Year's to us, I thought.

I wondered if a furnace death on New Year's Eve was akin to having rain on a wedding day.  Could it possibly be good luck to ring in the new year with a major expense or was this a sign (premonition of sorts) of bad things to come?

As I meditated on my (seemingly) bad luck, I jolted myself back to reality.  I thought about others who were experiencing a much more challenging New Year's Eve.  I thought about Kara Tippets, from the blog Mundane Faithfulness, a young mother who is currently in hospice dying from breast cancer.  I thought about my cousin's wife who is confined to a hospital room.  I thought about another one of my cousin's serving overseas in the military.

All of a sudden, the inner sad violin music shrieked to a halt.

I am truly blessed to have a New Year's Eve with loved ones (with whom I will join soon).

I am blessed to have heat (soon)...even at a cost.

I am blessed to have a terrific 2014 and the hope of a wonderful 2015.

Blessing to you as we embark on another year!

(Follow up: Furnace is dead.  RIP.  The repairman threw out a slew of technical jargon. What I understood was that our furnace was blazing hot and thanks to one little switch our house didn't burn down.  And so I will add, I am blessed to have a furnace with one little switch that prevented a house fire!)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Christmas morning is the highlight of the year and treasured by all.

The celebrating and eating continued on Christmas night with more family.

A few days before Christmas, we visited the big guy.  Some were more excited about the experience than others.

Santa train ride followed a visit with Santa.  I told the boys I rode this train as a child.  Cooper asked, "Did they have that technology back then?"

Three days before Christmas, neighbor kids joined the boys in cookie decorating.  Sugar was enjoyed by all.

A December family birthday/Christmas celebration in Cincinnati with more family.

Per our tradition, joined the Maxwell family for a Christmas Eve church service and dinner. 

In Cincinnati, spent time with my brother and his family at their church's fun night.  The kids (and grownups) had a blast in the photo booth. 

Chris pegged this Christmas as his favorite.

I was surprised by his declaration.  This Christmas, although fun, was a bit mundane.  There was no "wow" presents under the tree.  We didn't ring in the holiday with some grand celebration.

On Christmas morning, we opened presents under the tree, and then we gathered around the kitchen table and devoured a Christmas egg casserole and pastry (plus the Jesus Birthday cake!).  

The rest of the day, the boys retreated to the recesses of our house.  Rules, schmules on Christmas.  And so they indulged in extra screen time and devoured sugary treats while still in their pajamas.

As for Chris and I, we did as we pleased.  I thought, This is what it's like to let your children do anything they want.  I'm sure it leads to harmful effects, but the short-term living is pretty divine.     

Chris called this Christmas relaxing.

I agreed.

Sometimes the most memorable Christmases are the ones with the least amount of action.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy 12th Birthday

It seems blogging has taken a backseat to birthdays; we celebrated three in the span of a week!

Caleb bypassed a home cooked meal in favor of a birthday burger out.

 As an added perk, the restaurant staff sang to (and embarrassed) our 12-year-old birthday boy.

 We were still digesting Caleb's birthday cake when Connor's birthday rolled around the next day.

Per our family's tradition, birthday breakfast is best paired with presents.  (Thanks Grandma Wood for the Legos!)

Then the adults enjoyed a night out at the Counting Crows concerts with friends.

The whole gang moments before the concert started.

What to do when two sons have a birthday a day apart?!? This year we celebrated together.  This is Caleb's sixth grade bunch of friends.

Connor's fourth grade pals!

The sixth and fourth graders segregated themselves for dining purposes.  Sixth graders claimed the kitchen table.

A livelier fourth grade bunch snagged the dining room table.

Thanks to Costco for making a cake big enough to feed a group.  Boys weren't thrilled with the rainbow, but I assured them icing taste the same whether shaped into a rainbow or a superhero.

A few days later, the birthday merriment continued.  Chris is last in our string of celebrating.  I had the boys go around the group and tell their dad why they loved him.  Cooper said, "Because he's gone through puberty and wears deodrant."  It's the little things, right?

Sometimes these are the best photos I can snap!

 Chris celebrated his birthday at the kids' Christmas concert.  Cooper appears to be taking his vocal performance seriously.

At one point, he even moseyed up to the front of the stage and added his instrumental skills to the performance.

Connor belted out Christmas hymns with his fourth grade class.  (Unfortunately, we didn't snap any pictures of Caleb and Collin in action.)

My oldest celebrated his 12th birthday last week.  I was hit with the realization that I'm on the cusp of having a teenager.

This isn't news to me.

For months, I've seen little signs.  He's exhibited outward symptoms that he's shedding layers of his youth and inching closer to adolescence.  For example:

He wears men-sized shoes.  He no longer wears light-up sneakers with action figures smeared along the sides.  Velcro is a distant memory.  His footwear is practical, solid colors.  His last pair of loafers, purchased for a band performance, made him appear as if he could shoot off to the office with a briefcase in hand and a Starbucks in the other.

He orders off the adult menu.  He's vocal about his graduation to the adult menu, and he is deeply offended if you hand him the children's menu.  He feels his dignity is intact when ordering an adult entree, even if he selects the same exact chicken fingers featured on the children's menu.

His voice has deepened.  We're officially in the Peter Brady stage of voice transformation.  He ping pongs between a more youthful and mature sound, but he's gravitating  towards the voice of a man.  Sometimes, he'll answer the phone, and I'll pause for the moment and assume I dialed the wrong number.  His voice is unrecognizable at times; I still expect him to unleash the chirpy sounds of a boy.

He's done with Disney, Matchbox Cars, and Trains (at least while I'm watching).  He'll scoff at suggestions to watch a Disney movie or dig out his old Matchbox cars.  He's quick to mention his age, and the fact he's graduated to more mature entertainment.  But every once in awhile, I'll catch him clutching a car, or I'll watch him engrossed in a movie appropriate for his five-year-old brother.  I'll realize at those moments, he feels the tug too.  He's teetering between two worlds: childhood and adulthood.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Mouse Still in the House

The boys engaged in our Thanksgiving tradition of making turkey cookies.  They placed one M&M on each cookie per three M&Ms that landed in their mouths!

The brainchild of kind Uncles and mischievous kids!

A holiday tradition:  We show up in matching outfits without any prior coordination.  It makes me feel like I'm still young and hip if I can look even a tad similar to my younger, fashionista sister-in-law.

The kid table.  

The food was left largely untouched, and the conversations bordered on the hysterical.

If a picture was worth a thousand words.....

It was one of the those moments where it just seemed like the thing to do. 

Over Thanksgiving dinner, the conversation landed on a ladybug issue we have in our house.  These pesky (yet cute) critters have set up residence in the top corner of our two-story entry way, making it difficult to remove.  Someone had the idea of getting out the leaf blower and trying to "blow" the bugs away.  As a surprise to no one, the bugs didn't budge with the breeze.  We, however, found the whole thing pretty amusing.

Cuddles with uncles are the best!

During the mouth of November, the boys wrote done things they are thankful for.  The items ranged from cheese puffs to God's grace.  Love it!

My friend Suzanne and I savored our championship moment as co-female winners of the Squanto Scamper, Thanksgiving 5 miler race.

Smiling on the outside, freezing on the inside.

And the winners got...a pumpkin pie!  Suzanne, being the sportswoman that she is, forfeited the pie to me.

It's been over a week since I touched my blog.  In the span of those days, life has happened and left little leisure cyber time.  

Thanksgiving seems like ages ago.  Memories of pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes are eclipsed with the onslaught of Christmas frenzy.  I was still digesting the sweet potatoes while scattering garland around the Christmas tree.

I debated on what to write.  I could recount our Thanksgiving meal, discuss the highlights of our long holiday weekend, or expand on our festive Christmas decorating. 

But those things aren't weighing on my heart.

I'm singularly focused, as of late.  A four letter word is occupying my every thought: mice.

In my last post, I discussed our little mouse problem.  Mouse being the key word.  Since that post, the mouse met his demise at the hands of a well-placed trap.

The kids were a bit disappointed with our method of mouse removal. They had other ideas.  

Caleb suggested we get a snake to slither around the house and scoop up any fury critters.  (Because a hungry pet snake sliding around the kitchen will completely put my mind at ease!) 

Cooper, on the other hand, found mouse traps to be so commonplace.  He had more unconventional ideas.  Cooper decided to smear Vasoline all over his bathroom floor in the hopes of getting a mouse stuck in the gooey mess.  And for those unfamiliar, Vasoline actually has the opposite effect and turns a floor into a skating rink.  For days, we took one foot in his bathroom and sailed straight into the shower.

As hinted in my last blog, I had high hopes that that mouse was a loner, a bachelor.

No such luck.

Within the last few days, we've discovered remnants of his friends/family.  Yesterday, I found a Crisco stick  in our pantry with a gaping, gnaw-shaped hole.  I concluded a couple of things about our mouse.

This mouse is not the least bit health conscious.  I prayed that this mouse would succumb to a heart attack from the effects of digesting a mass quantity of lard.

This mouse is a tricky.  Maybe this mouse used the Crisco for other purposes.  Perhaps he smeared it over his body so as to squeeze into tight places.  We've seen evidence that he's landed in places that only a Houdini mouse could reach.

This mouse has no problem inflicting terror upon our household.  I can't even wash dishes without being ravaged with fear (and because of that fact, I told my husband I don't think I can wash dishes anymore:)).

Nonetheless, we're back to square one.  Traps are set and the Vasoline is in hiding.