Monday, December 31, 2012


New Year's Eve blew in with a flurry in our front yard. We are blessed by the seasons here in the Midwest, and this was a day of cotton-ball snow.
 I loved watching all the kids work together to build snowmen.  This was their idea.  I just supplied the carrot we forgot to leave for Rudolph.
 My little snow angel.
 I made some hot mac 'n cheese soup for lunch.  It's one of the kids' favorite meals (they eat the veggies first!) and it's so easy to make.
 We also were blessed with a reunion of old friends from Totley Crew.  These kids were babies together.  Swati and Rushil flew out to visit from California, Brenda and her three kids drove up from Wichita, and the rest of us met at Carrie's beautiful new home.  What a great bunch!
 There's something so tranquil about a snowfall, like blessings sifting gently down from heaven.
 A perfect way to spend New Year's Eve, all huddled at home.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

10th Wedding Anniversary

Mark made this special video for our tenth anniversary.  It's our journey and highlights all that God, in his divine plan, did to bring our lives together.  It begins 4 years and 4,423 miles apart, with Mark's birth in St. John's, Newfoundland and my birth in Los Angeles, California.  It continues to the SS Norway, where we met on deck in the middle of the Caribbean Sea on Mark's 18th birthday, and became pen-pals.  Then Florida, where Mark spent a year of college as an "exchange student" from Canada while I lived in Orlando (we dated at EPCOT each weekend, seeing the world together), and finally Kansas, where I finished out high school and Mark got in to graduate school at KU (after first being told he hadn't gotten in--nail-biter, that one).
We spent the eve of our tenth anniversary in Lawrence, Kansas, attending Mass at Corpus Christi Church, where we were married on December 30, 2002.  And we stayed at the same hotel where we spent our wedding night.
I am blessed beyond measure to be Mark's wife.  There has always been great peace in our home--we rarely ever fight and don't exchange harsh words, and we've never once gone to bed angry.  He has such a humble and generous, serving spirit.  And while I'm more of the dreamer, he complements me: he keeps me grounded; I help him fly.  We give each other freedom and time to pursue our individual interests and dreams, but put our family and God first.  Life together is filled with purpose, joy and love.
And I'm so grateful for him.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

The kids, especially Lorelei, asked about a dozen times from 5pm onward on Christmas Eve: "Is it time for bed yet?"  It truly was one of those magic years when the kids are at just the right ages to soak in all the magic of Christmas.
We let them go to bed a little early, after much begging.  But first, we left out the eggnog and fresh cookies we had just baked for Santa.
 The house grew quiet.  Not a peep was heard upstairs.
 And sometime in the magic hour, Santa arrived down our chimney.  I hope his pants were flame-resistant.
 But Santa's not the main attraction on Christmas.
Baby Jesus is.
And until that manger is cradling the little God-child come to earth, the kids await his coming with carols, beckoning him near.
 Lorelei rushed down the stairs so quickly the camera only caught a blur.
 And the unwrapping begins...

 Lorelei wrapped up some Legos for Gryffy in a little styrofoam bowl, since he loves building with Legos.  She was so excited for him to unwrap them.

The kids collected so many from both sets of grandparents and us that we had to transform our train table into LegoLand. 
The neighbor kids are over playing legos with the kids downstairs AS I TYPE ;o) 
Here are some from The Hobbit Mines of Moria from Grandma & Grandpa Connelly:
 Hogwarts from Grammy & Bpop.

 Some Legos Meaghan passed to them, including the Weasley's home, The Burrow; Hagrid's Hut and the Knight Bus.
 And from Santa, Gryffy's big gift: Helm's Deep

Lorelei and I began a new tradition of a "Mommy & Me Journal."
She writes the most darling things, but I can't tell you about them...
it's a Mommy/Daughter secret :)
 Arnold Lobel books, our favorite author right now.  Lorelei's a fantastic reader and loves these books--they're just slightly beneath her reading level so they don't challenge her too much, but they really help with her fluency and use of fun voices to mimic the characters. Gryffy himself has memorized "Shivers" from the Frog and Toad book.  We also got them the rest of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, which is rather spooky but gets Lorelei reading!  Those ones have a few challenging words and are right at her level.  Sometimes we sneak off into the woods at night with headlamps and read those scary stories!  
 Kids found assorted gifts in their stockings: lip balm, bubble gum, Star Wars pens, nerf bullets...
 ... and the ball Lorelei so desperately desired.  She asked for a "rubber band ball" and we searched high and low, but couldn't find a rubber ball with rubber bands inside (how she described it).  Fortunately, she seemed pretty excited about the one she got.

 Gryffy's and Daddy's favorite gift: Bow and arrow.
He's a natural Robinhood with his aim.
 And Lorelei's favorite gift: A new scooter.
 She rides it all around the cul de sac with the neighbors, who also have Razor Scooters.  And just as soon as I saw that helmet for my girl who adores purple and cats, I knew it was hers.
 She didn't take it off.
I got Mark some Scandinavian games (Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries, Kubb (like Bocce Ball meets chess), and a 1,000 piece puzzle we're working on now) and a Duke shirt, and he got me two PhotoShop classes.  His gifts are always thoughtful.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Elves on the Shelves

Our elves come in a pair every year and wreak a bit of havoc as they spy on the kids.  I think there's some inverse relationship between the children's behavior and the elves... the nicer the kids, the naughtier the elves.

 The elves brought Christmas pj's at the beginning of December.

 They didn't move around too much.  Lazy elves.  But the kids indulged their laziness with a day at the spa.  Here are the elves, soaking in the hot tub.
Maybe they'll get their act together and do some zip lines and such next year.
A couple of random photos unrelated to elves:
1) Gryffin has been doing a lot more art lately.  This is Frodo, clinging to a cliff.  I think his art is darling, and up until fairly recently, Gryffy was so intimidated by projects and drawing that he flat refused to do it.  I'm so glad he's been gaining more confidence and creating little treasures out of his imagination.
 2) I just captured this sweet moment of the kids waking up to Mr. Tubbins' snuggles on the couch.  During non-school nights (all of Winter Break), they always have slumber parties on the couch downstairs near the Christmas tree.  Precious moments.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Party & Snow Day

Gryffin's class got to celebrate their holiday party a day before Lorelei's, and it was a lucky thing too.
 See that snowball in Gryffy's hand?  It was an omen of things to come.
 Gryffy's getting into the game.  He's "frozen" and came up with this cool pose.
 All the other kids copied when his turn was over.
 Gryffy has the most amazing group of teachers this year, and I wanted to do something extra special for them (and for Lulu's teacher, Mrs. Brahl) to thank them.  I gathered recipes from all the kids in Gryffy's class since I was in charge of the class gifts, and made special tabs to fill these pretty binders.  It was a great way to include everyone, and I think the teachers loved them.

 But poor first graders, their party was canceled.  So I got a call the morning of the big snow, and Stacy and friends were gathering with the already-made party supplies to throw our own Snow Day party.  It was a hit.
Gryffy took a few hits that day, too :o(
 Snow what fun it turned out to be!
 And who doesn't love an extra day of Winter Break?  More time with these darlings all to myself.