Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All the Earth Celebrates His Birth

Look what just came out!
(Click HERE for my Christmas article)
Today the lights are going up, the cards have been sent, and our holiday books have been wrapped to count down the nights until Christmas!  I love getting the rush out of the way in the days leading up to December, using this month to focus instead on the traditions that bind us together as a family and point the light toward Jesus' birth. 
I was thrilled when I was asked to write the Christmas traditions article for "KC Parent's" December issue (for those who aren't familiar with my love of all things Christmas, I once skipped high school to buy a tree, lug it home, and trim it--true story).  Researching the origins of our melting pot traditions opened my eyes to a beauty beyond the twinkling lights and berry speckled holly wreaths.  I'd love to share what I've learned with you, and hope that you will pass on the deeper meaning behind our holiday celebrations.
You can check out the article on KC Parent's website: http://www.kcparent.com/KCParent/10-12-01/Christmas_Traditions.aspx
God bless us everyone, and Happy Christmas!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Celebrating our Heritage, with Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving morning, we inflated Mr. Gobbles in our front yard, then hit the road to Cousin Shelby's home in Eastborough/Wichita, Kansas.
 The kids were fabulous the whole day, three hour car ride and all.  At Shelby's house, they seated themselves strategically beside the munchies. 
 Gobble gobble Gryffin!
 We sat around the island as our small family.  The kids ate well.
 Aunt Laurie's trying to convince Lorelei to like the sweet potatoes she made.  Lorelei tried them, and they went over pretty well (lots of marshmallows).
 Our family of four.  We have so many things to be grateful for--our faith, our beautiful kids and family, our health, our country, our courageous ancestors whose quest for freedom we celebrate today... and we are mindful of our blessings each and every day!
 Gryffy sitting on Cousin Maura's toys.
 Mommy was assigned the kids' craft.  Here are Gryffy and Maura coloring their Mayflowers.
 Lorelei and Maura showing off their crafts.  Our ancestors' names, beginning with William Brewster, form a paper chain of 16 generations (direct pilgram descendants highlighted)...
William Brewster & Mary (spiritual leader of the pilgrims, both on the Mayflower Voyage)
Jonathan Brewster & Lucretia Oldham (traveled later on the ship, Fortune)
Benjamin Brewster & Anne Dart
William Brewster II & Patience ?
William Brewster III & Metchel Ables
Constant Crandall (1721-1762) & Hannah (Brewster) Crandall
James Redmond (1747-?) & Anna Crandall (1747-?)
James Redmond (1760) & Hepsibah ?
Richmond Crandall Redmond (1800-1840) & Poley Borden (1806-1863)
Richmond Cadwell Redmond (1836-1891) & Mary Ann Sherman (1837-1892)
Albert Redmond (1864-1934) & Rubie Griswold (1865-1957)
Rollo Shorthill & Olive Redmond (L & G's great-great grandparents)
Donald Luksa &  Marilyn (Shorthill) Luksa Witham (great grandparents)
John Garrett & Debra (Luksa) Garrett Bieker (grandparents)
Mark Connelly & Wendy (Garrett) Connelly
Lorelei Connelly, Gryffin Connelly
 Pretty in polka-dots.

 Watching the game (not really).
 Gryffy's digging the cars--good thing, because Santa's stocked up on HotWheels this year.
 Our Grammy, Marilyn, celebrating her 80th bday! (The day before Thanksgiving, the actual day, we had a brunch for her too.)
 Cousins Wendy, Daphne, Shelby, and Lindsy.
 Happy Thanksgiving!
Every Saturday following Thanksgiving, from the time I was a little girl, the women in the Shorthill family (and there are loads of us) have the annual Cousin Party.  This year's was at Aunt Jennie's house.

 Before our white elephant, Lorelei and the other kids open their presents.  Grammy got Lorelei some books and jewelry, which she loved.
 The Birthday Girl, our Grammy, enjoyed a third celebration of number 8-0. It was bittersweet because her sister, Auntie Jean, passed away this year. We missed her, but felt her presence.
 Such a proud Great-Grandma!
 And that night, I celebrated with another birthday girl, Sonia.  I met Sonia on one of her speaking engagements (she survived the holocaust and several concentration camps), and we became friends.  Tonight, her kids, family, and 35 of her friends threw her a wonderful 85th birthday bash.
 I wonder what she might have wished for.
 And Mr. Gobbles came down, replaced by the holy family and wise men.  The kids love our new nativity scene, and Lorelei begs to go outside to play with the animals! 
 She carries the figures around, rearranges them, and cares especially for the baby Jesus inside the house, before he is added to the scene on Christmas Day.
 And now, let the true Christmas season begin!
11/28 UPDATE: Someone stole the animals from our creche.  Our four year old is heart broken.  Bah Humbug.  (Good thing Baby Jesus is safely swaddled indoors until Christmas Day!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our New Home

We had a handyman out to look at a bit of dry rot beneath a window, and learned the problem was, well, a bit worse than we had imagined--we were told to re-side the entire, rotten house.  Oh yes.  So you know, why not repaint it, too?  And now I'm sharing the results, which cost us a pretty penny.  But first, our new Who-Ville Tree (as the kids named it):
 Here's the BEFORE:
 And the AFTER:
 We kept our "Garden Grove" teal door (Mommy's favorite color), and had the house painted "Burlap" with "Thatch Brown" trim.  It's fun to custom pick paint colors--makes it feel even more like our home (with a new Who-Ville Tree to boot)!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lorelei's Splendiferous Christmas Tea

It was high noon on the last day of preschool before Thanksgiving Break, the very same day, one year ago, that Lorelei hosted her first Christmas tea party for all the girls in class. Our house was overflowing with feathers and frills, and we ran out of room at the dining room table!
Mommy and Lorelei had set the table nicely, when...
 ... somebody decided to help himself to the cookies.
 Lorelei is the hostess with the mostess!  Her apron (matching Mommy's) reads "Hostess-in-Training", and is the same one she wore to last year's party.
 When Santa came to the window to surprise the girls, manic screams filled the house and drowned out the Glee Christmas CD.  Santa proceeded indoors, and read "Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas." The girls loved it!

 Santa brought over presents, and asked each girl what she wanted for Christmas.  Lorelei was not too demanding, which made Mommy quite happy!
 Look at those ruby slippers.  She's so fancy! 
 Gryffy visits with Santa, too.  He didn't tell him he'd been naughty, getting into the girls' Christmas tree sandwiches, cookies, and tea.
 Look at Gryffy, twiddling his thumbs.
My poor little man was sorely outnumbered. He and Gavin (another little brother) had to hang close, and narrowly missed having their nails painted purple with the girls (who broke into the nail polish without asking permission--fortunately, the carpet survived!)

A cuppa Christmas cheer to all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Week in the Life...

Here's a very random collection of photos from our week...
 The kids made wreath ornaments from puzzle pieces, paint, and glitter, then added their photos and decked the tree.
 Gryffy did a great job mixing colors and glitter.
 Lorelei accessorized, as usual.
 The kids made a massive tower, but I couldn't catch it before it toppled.  Jenga!
 Lorelei brought Cocoa Bear home from preschool.
 And Dumbledore hopped around the living room as we put up our Christmas tree.
 Cute little bunny--he's staying with us the whole of Thanksgiving Break.  The kids are thrilled!  (Dumbledore, however, might very much prefer a quiet, kid-free holiday. Sorry, bunny.)
 We broke out a game of Candy Land with Lorelei. Gryffy just climbed all over Daddy the whole time.

 This is what Gryffy thinks of game night...
 Candy Land tortures Mark--he's colorblind, but finds it a very good excuse to skip over a color or two.  Red & green... what's the difference?
 Mommy and Daddy raised the tree, and the kids helped with the ornaments.
 Gryffy puts up the pirate ornament from Mommy's family tree.

 In case Daddy's back wasn't sufficiently broken after dragging up the tree...
 But it was worth it, right?
Poor Daddy.
 After trimming the tree, we went down to the basement to watch Disney's "A Christmas Carol" on our movie screen.  Here's L in the basement, pointing out world landmarks. 
 She loves the Eiffel Tower.
 Gryffy making noise.
 Don't judge me, but I found the first 20 episodes of Shera on DVD, and HAD to get it!  Early stocking stuffer for Mommy (Daddy secretly likes it too--he used to play Shera with the neighbor girl he had a crush on as a kid and loved it when she'd attack him. Lol.)
 But we do more than watch TV.  Here's the Gryffster with his Tag Reader and Toy Story 3 book.
 And what are Christmas candles for but to stack?
 Gryffy's counting Lorelei's tower.
 Lorelei's drawing our family. The other night I was putting her to bed, and she said, "I just love our family. That's why I always draw it."  Aww.
 Hashbrown Sausage Casserole for dinner.  Gryffy bypassed his bowl and went straight for the dish.
And we had an impromptu Beach Party in the living room with the Disney Sing-Along Beach Party DVD. I made the kids fruity drinks (with umbrellas) and set out some towels. The kids got into it and put their swimsuits over their clothes.
 A bit of imagination, and we're back in Mexico!

 The kids danced along with pirates and Mickey Mouse.

 It's cold outside, but we're feelin' hot-hot-hot!
And finally, kickin' it in the family room!