Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas (and dreams do come true)

This Christmas was definitely one we will all remember. After 30 years, Scott finally got his whiteChristmas (which means the rest of us did too :). Both of us having grown up in the South, had never experienced a white Christmas... but this year was different (more to come on that later).

Each year Christmas planning seems to be the most difficult thing... how can we see everyone over the course of two days, enjoy ourselves, and not wear out the kids? Well this year was definitely the easiest year to do that. I feel like we managed to see our parents and each of the kids grandparents without putting too much on our plate-ok, the theoretical plate, the actual plate probably got filled way too many times making it very easy to decide our New Years' less, exercise more- but I digress...

Shortly after opening gifts we headed home so we could get the kids into bed before Santa came. Before heading inside, we were sure to sprinkle our reindeer food that Santa gave us so they could find our house. Our Christmas Eve tradition is that they can each open one present on Christmas Eve (secretly selected by mom or dad). Each child got a new pair of PJ's so they could get ready for a good night's sleep before Christmas morning. You can see in the pics that Ella still wasn't feeling great. She just looks miserable in her Christmas PJ's doing her nebulizer treatment. Aunt Ruth decided she would stay with us so she could see the kids open up gifts on Christmas morning. I think when she decided that she didn't really mean LITERALLY stay with the kids, but that's what happened. I told the kids they could have a sleepover (I meant in Harbin's room) and they thought that sounded good... they all piled into the trundle bed in Catherine's room and poor Aunt Ruth slept (or didn't sleep) on the daybed in there with them.

Christmas morning came early (well, at least to me 6:30 is early), but the kids were excited. Lydia seemed a little grumpy at first and Ella still wasn't feeling well, but once we got into the living room to see all the things Santa had left, they seemed better.

Santa brought Harbin a Criss Cross Crash Track (something to use with his Hotwheels). Catherine got a new art table with paper and a box of art supplies. Lydia got the "pink car with 2 cup holders" she'd been asking for and Ella got some Weeble People. In their stockings, Santa brought them chapstick (or chopsticks as Lydia says it), toothbrushes (even Ella got one for her one little tooth), and Lydia got a special surprise of big girl undies. Funny story actually....everything she opened she was very possessive over (and she opened each item inside her cozy coupe pink car). Everything was "this is mine"- not mean, just matter-of-fact. Then she opened up some Minnie Mouse big girl undies and said, "these aren't mine- these are Catherine's." We couldn't help but laugh!!

We didn't wake up to snow on Christmas morning, but the weather reports were saying we should get it before the day ended. Since we were heading even further north to Chattanooga, we decided to get on the road and head up there before the weather got bad. We packed, loaded, said our goodbye's to Aunt Ruth as my mom came to pick her up and then started out towards Scott's family's house. About halfway there the snow just started to fall. The roads got covered, the trees were dusted and it was just beautiful. Once we arrived at Scott's parents house, we quicky decided we wouldn't make it up their long, steep driveway. Instead we unloaded our stuff onto sleds and Scott's brothers helped us all get up to the house. Since Ella was still not feeing well, we decided it was best to keep her bundled in her infant carrier. So, we loaded her on the sled and Alex pulled her up the hill! You can see the cute pic of her infant carrier just going right up the driveway.

The kids played in the snow for just a bit before we headed in to celebrate Christmas with the Tinney Family. They handed out more of the Christmas ornaments they had made and enjoyed opening the presents that everyone had gotten them. We ate some lunch and spent the rest of the day relaxing and playing with the new toys everyone had gotten.

On Sunday (the day after Christmas) we headed to Ma and Da's house for our Christmas celebration there. We were fortunate this year that everyone's schedules allowed us ALL to be there, spouses, kids, EVERYONE! Lunch was wonderful and then we did "Dirty Santa", "Chinese Gift Exchange", "Greedy Grab", or whatever you call it game. We swapped some presents around and then let the kids start on opening some of their gifts. Ma and Da got the 3 older kids bean bag chairs and they just loved them. As you can see, Ella enjoyed sitting on them too!! By this day she seemed to be feeling a bit better and even smiled for all of us a few times. She didn't nap as often and enjoyed eating... I mean opening a few presents.
Well, that's a recap of our Christmas. The kids seemed to do ok throughout it, although Harbin, Catherine and Lydia ended up still having fevers at the days end and we returned home to more doctors visits and medicine. Ella finally seemed to recover about New Years Day. We didn't go out for New Years and just had a few friends over to watch the ball drop, so no post or pics to come on that.
I have added a link to the right labeled Christmas2010 for those of you who want to see ALL of our Christmas pictures.
The mom.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth (or maybe just one)

...Ella's Christmas wish came true and a few days before she turned 5 months old and about a week before Christmas she got her first tooth! This is the earliest any of our children have gotten teeth, so we were surprised, but she seems to have handled it well (since I didn't even know she was getting one).

In other Ella news, she is now 5 months old an is still a super easy baby. We haven't started her on cereal or baby foods yet, but we have let her suck on toast sticks and pizza crust. She really enjoys getting to be a "big girl" and always reaches for our food. The other day I was at a cookie swap and I was talking while holding a cookie in my hand. I guess she got tired of me waving it in front of her because she just grabbed my arm, pulled it down and grabbed at the cookie. I pulled it away and she started to cry and I felt so bad, but I just didn't think her little tummy was ready for all that sugar!

She's still not crawling, but she can move anywhere she wants. She often wears herself out playing on the floor as you can see from the pic I like to title "Falling Asleep to a Good Book". She still enjoys her exersaucer and is learning to like the Tigger Doorway Jumper. She can't quite figure out how to jump in it, but the kids often swing her as they go by.

Her new favorite thing to do is look at me grab my cheeks (she can pinch very hard) and pull my face to hers. Then she opens her mouth really wide and gives me very wet slobbery kisses. She thinks this is hilarious! I don't mind the smooches so much either!

Stay tuned next month for an update on how much she's grown!

The mom.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Deck the Halls (especially those halls in the Tinney house)

Here's a recap of the many crafts we've done this year. We managed to get into the Christmas spirit early this year and decorate just after Thanksgiving. This gave us almost a whole month to have some fun making Christmas crafts and making presents.

A few weeks ago, I took Catherine on a mommy/daughter outing. We went to Masterpiece Mixers to paint. This is a local painting studio that has daily "classes". Each day they have a painting that the teacher is going to show you how to paint. Catherine has really begun to show her artistic interest and talent and I thought this would be a fun thing for us to do. I picked a day that they were painting a simple Christmas picture and she did so awesome! You can see the picture above- I only helped her outline the large ornament and 2 of the smaller dots. I also did the black ornament hook and helped with the white swirlies...other than that, she painted it all on her own!! I think it's highly impressive for a 3 year old!

Harbin got to spend some time with my mom one weekend that he had choir rehearsal and they made a beautiful Gingerbread House. Harbin was determined he would wait until January 1st to eat it, but decided a few days later that the candy looked so good, he and his sisters would share it now instead of waiting for it to get stale.

The kids spent over a week of school making Christmas cards this year. The girls worked on their crafting skills- cutting, gluing and drawing, while Harbin's focus was a bit more intense including handwriting, spelling, mirror images (that's how we cut out such perfect Christmas trees) and of course, the spirit of giving.

After making Christmas cards, we worked on painting some ornaments. Last year I learned this neat way to drip paint into a glass ornament and then swirl the paint around by shaking the ornament. This craft taught us tons of cool things like colors, mixing colors and even that Daddy doesn't sin....yep you heard me right, Scott is perfect!!! Haha, no really, in the middle of making this craft I needed to break and nurse Ella. Well to avoid the inevitable shattering of ornaments and paint splatters that would result in unattended children, I decided we would all take a break and do storytime in the family room. We were talking about why we celebrate Christmas. We discussed the fact that "Jesus was born on Christmas, to live a perfect life, and die on the cross for our sins, so we can live forever with Him (the kids memorized the blanks and this became our house motto for the Christmas season). In discussing Jesus' birth we also began discussing why we need a Savior. We talked about sin and I asked the children to name some things they had done that are sinful- Lydia said she had never sinned or gotten a spanking...Harbin pointed out that she had just lied which is a sin :) Anyways, we moved on from that and I asked them to name times that mommy has sinned. They were able to come up with a few, so I asked them what Daddy had done and they said (and I quote)..."He doesn't sin." I felt no need to discuss that no man is without sin and instead let them just keep thinking their daddy is perfect. However, I did make sure that they understood, only Jesus can live a completely perfect life, void of all sin!

And finally, the story of my sick kids... This week before Christmas we returned from Chattanooga to take Lydia to the doctor. She had been running a fever all weekend and we decided to make that Monday appointment since she didn't seem to be getting better. The doctor diagnosed her with strep throat (an all too common thing around our house) and sent her on her way with a prescription for an antiobiotic and lots of sleep. Well, Tuesday morning (our anniversary), I woke up to 3 children with fevers, a baby who was wheezing, and my very own stomach bug!!! I quickly called Scott home from his run (thankfully he was off work this week), cancelled our previously scheduled massage for our anniversary and tried to schedule a doc appointment. No appointments were available so the kids waited until walk in hours began at 5. I stayed in bed all day and Scott manned the house, the kids and the constant dosing of medicine. He then loaded everyone but Lydia up and took them for the 3 hour long doc appointment where we learned that Harbin and Catherine also had strep and Ella had a double ear infection and brochialitis. So that trip brought us home with 3 more antiobiotics, a steriod and a nebulizer!! We decided to cancel our plans to head to mom's for decorating cookies and just stick around the house. I felt great the next day, but none of the kids did. Scott and I managed to alternate who went out for errands like grocery shopping and Christmas shopping and we made it through. The kids were well enough on Thursday for my mom to come over and bring some cookies and frosting she saved so the kids could still decorate.

Let's just say this story is to be continued and since I am writing this post "after" Christmas, I know that there is much more to tell!

Hope everyone else is staying well!

The mom.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (I'm for real, our town, next door at the barn)

We kind of lucked out this year and Santa came to visit next door to our house. The church a few doors down hosted an Evening with Santa in their barn located on the property next to ours. The barn used to be a kind of Horsey Hilton and has huge stalls and tons of space and the church turned each area into a different event- movie, visit with Santa, snacks, and stories.

It was a super cold night, in fact, it snowed, but regardless of the weather we walked our way down the driveway next door to let Santa's Little Helpers visit with him. I dressed the kids in their Elf costumes and they were too cute talking to Santa. No one cried this year, which I must say is quite an accomplishment, although Lydia and Ella just kind of stared. Catherine and Harbin got to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas and then we headed out on a hayride (the coldest hayride of my life)!! We finished up and took our marshmallows to go, roasting them over the fire Daddy started in the fireplace.

Our backyard has been home to many animals including turtles, bunnies, geese and now deer... Santa's reindeer the kids have decided. When we saw Santa next door I asked the kids if they thought the 3 deer we've been seeing in the yard might be Santa's reindeer. They weren't too sure, but a few days after visiting Santa, Catherine was convinced. We were looking at the deer in the yard and Catherine said, "Mommy, I think those are Santa's reindeer." I asked her why she thought that and she replied, "I think they are eating a snack and then they will go back to the barn to put their antlers on." I laughed so hard and told her I thought she was probably right!!!

Anyways, on that note please continue to pray that our old house sells. We love living next door to Santa's reindeer and need our old house to sell so we can stop paying a mortgage and a rent each month!!

I hope everyone else has the same believing heart as Catherine this Christmas!!

The mom.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer (or a bad teenage driver going to Young Life)

The kids and I decked out in homemade Elf costumes this year for Young Life's annual Christmas Club with the high schoolers. Each year we decorate the Young Life "Farm" with loads of Christmas lights and tacky decorations and the kids come dressed in their Christmas attire which can range from old Christmas sweaters to pajamas to all out costumes!

Two of the other leaders and I decided to dress as elves and while making our costumes, I thought "why not just make 3 more for the kids? (ummm....maybe because you are a super busy mom of 4). Well, I did it anyhow (in fact I made their costumes first and then scurried to get ours done the day of Christmas Club!!!!). I think they came out great and the kids loved being elves. They also loved getting decorated like a Christmas tree!

Enjoy the silly pics (the group pic is all of the North Gwinnett YL Leaders).

The mom.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland (and also through Suwanee Town Center)

The week following the Choir Concert our church put on Christmas in the Park. This is the second year the church has done this and it's so amazing to see how everyone comes together to make it happen. Monday morning, Scott and many other men from church went and set up Dicken's Village style building facades in Suwanee's Town Center. Throughout the week, people continued setting up tents and booths, activities and crafts and by Friday night the event was ready. It was scheduled to be Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, but Sunday ended up getting cancelled due to the snow (yes, you heard me right, GA... before Christmas).

Scott and I were supposed to work a booth Sunday night, so we all decided to go Saturday night and enjoy the event as a family. The kids started out with the Winter Race which is an obstacle course where they had to throw a hula hoop over a yard decoration, put together a snowman, decorate a Christmas tree and a few other tasks. Harbin and Catherine raced Daddy and Lydia who ended up winning. Ella and I was can see in the pic, Ella didn't want to put anything but her eyes out in this cold weather!

The kids also enjoyed getting to walk through a tent full of Santa stuff. A lady from our church displays everything "Santa" that she has collected for many years now and the kids enjoyed seeing how many different Santa things there are out there from Santa ornaments to clocks to calendars and anything else you can imagine.

We finished off the evening with some hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit to the Candy Shop where we picked up a craft-to-go (aka: a-craft-to-do-somewhere-much-warmer-than-out-here). Scott and the kids had their pic taken with some of the "chimney sweeps" who were many of the costumed characters walking around. Finally we headed to Five Guys for some burgers and fries and to warm up before heading home.

The mom.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hark the Herald Angels Sing (and so does Harbin)

Ok, so my blogging sebatical was not intentional but was instead due to some much needed time off in order to take care of sick babies- more to come on that in another post. So in order to catch up, be prepared for MANY posts this week hopefully with some added creativity and style!

This year Harbin and the rest of the Ultimate Adventure Choir have been rehearsing diligently each Wednesday night for the "Glory in the Highest" Christmas Musical. His practice CD was given to him months ago and we have been listening to the Christmas music in the car since just after Labor Day (take that all you people who complain about Christmas music playing right after Halloween :)

Anyways, I volunteered to make the top part of the angel costumes and many late nights later, I finished the 30 angel costumes. The kids looked awesome in all their costumes and their singing was wonderful.
Harbin, along with the other boys, kindergarten through 5th grade, were shephards and the girls were all angels (with the exception of Mary and Joseph). The musical incorporated acting and singing and I was impressed with everyone's ability to remember the words. I was also HIGHLY impressed with my son's ability to sing and stand still- an ability not possessed by many of the other kindergarten and first grade boys who were often sitting, spinning, or looking aimlessly around the room. He was incredible and I know that he has loved choir this year. His choir teachers are awesome and along with practicing for the rehearsal he has learned some basic music skills like high and low notes, how to cut off with a conductor's cue and a cute song about the books of the Bible.
That's all for now, but stay tuned this week for these posts...
-Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland (and also through Suwanee Town Center)
-Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer (or a bad teenage driver going to Young Life)
-Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (I'm for real, our town, next door at the barn)
-Deck the Halls (especially those halls in the Tinney house)
-All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth (or maybe just one)
-I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas (and dreams do come true)
The mom.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kickin' off Christmas

This year we are all really excited about Christmas. I guess last year we were so focused on moving and getting the house ready for our tenants, we didn't really decorate or do much before Christmas.
We started the Christmas season this year by taking advantage of a free coupon to the light show at the Fairgrounds. We drove around and watched the dancing lights that were synchronized to the music on the radio. After driving around, we got out and roaster HUGE marshmallows by the fire, took a quick peek at Santa and then jumped back in the warm car.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving we got out all the Christmas decorations and trimmed the tree. Ella enjoyed looking at the ornaments and the lights and posed so nicely for her pictures. Ok, so funny story... that morning at church I was discussing with some ladies that I didn't think we could put real candy canes on the tree this year because of Lydia's "candy addiction" (she LOVES candy). When we got home, the first ornaments I got out to put on the tree were these orange and white striped Tennessee candy canes. I handed Lydia one to put on the tree and instantly I heard "crack"- she bit right into it-----problem is, they're plastic!!!! We all laughed hysterically and Lydia looked confused. I took the plastic out of her mouth and handed her another plastic candy cane. She quickly said, "I won't eat this one...I'll put it on the tree." She is sometimes TOO CUTE!
All the kids did an excellent job decorating the tree. It seems like the more kids we have the better the tree looks because even though they only put them in one spot, they each have their own one spot and it is starting to cover the bottom of the tree. Then I follow up by putting the breakable ornaments on the top half and it looks complete!

Well off to bed. More posts and pics soon!
The mom.