Thursday, December 31, 2009

Funeral March for Rotten Ideas

I was given a flyer for an Insurrection Mass being put on by a few of the members of Bread and Puppet Theatre on New Years' Eve, but had completely forgotten about it until I was in Coventry running errands and saw the group marching by to go up to the Peace Park. I quickly got on the horn to get Aleks to come with me, drove to pick him up and met the group up at the park. Natty met us there on her way back from the bank.

We missed all the talking and performances noting the rotten ideas of 2009 and didn't really know what was going on. The only part we heard was, "We are all in the same boat." Then everyone got in the boat together (a round piece of painted canvas held up in boat-shape with others in the center holding a large painted mast). So we got in too and marched with them back to the UU church. People banged drums and a guy played the tuba.

Aleks asked what was going on and I explained that we were all in it together and that we were marching to mourn for the bad ideas of 2009 (which I'm guessing has something to do with bailouts, job losses, and a lack of adequate health care, as well as the continued wars and the troop surge). We got on board, at any rate.

People all along the street (crowded as folks got ready for NYE) stopped, stared, and took photos.

Monday, December 28, 2009

White Winter

After Christmas, we left the cranes at Grandma Cat's house accidentally and our enthusiasm for the project waned. Of the remaining items on the list, we substituted the following:
26th. Go for a walk at Aulwood. - played with chickens with Piddy Peddy at Grandma's house
27th. Have a tea party. - sat in pjs all day, ate chocolate
28th. Is the sky clear? Get out the telescope for some star gazing, if not, go for a nighttime walk with homemade lanterns. - went sledding and to the library
29th. Family Game Night! - had friends over
30th. Make dragon eggs. - kids were babysat by Natty, watched movies
31st. It's New Year's Eve! Make a list of plans for the New Year. - Funeral March for Rotten Ideas, watched movies, drank sparkling items made of fruit
We were content to enjoy all the post-holiday snow back at home...Song is Blue Turning Gray by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day!

Somehow I got out of taking photos while visiting the grandparents. Bastian and Aleks received appropriate numbers of gifts, to my relief.

Aleks very much liked his knight costume, which I bartered for with a couple of local mamas. Bastian ate mountains of chocolate.
Lilly liked the hat I knit for her and the tote bag Aleks and I made (which, thanks to my moronic blogging, she already suspected). We also made bath bombs, though, and she wasn't expecting those. Ha!
Grandma Cat got Lilly, Natty, and I all Christmas jammies too, so we got to put those on Christmas Eve while putting out gifts and trying to assemble the ridiculously huge trampoline.

Jon got up early and made bacon and rosemary homefries for everyone. He and the boys stayed at the house while the rest of us took Jim's Aunt Lucy to a Christmas Day lunch. Then we all went to our friend Jeri's house for Christmas dinner where our usual exchange game devolved into nonsense. The boys played with their goodies and enjoyed the wonder of childhood.

To me, it felt not quite Christmas-like. Maybe it's stress, maybe I did too much, maybe the countdown over-did it for me (though the length of it this year did seem to keep them from getting as amped up about Christmas as they did last year) - I don't know... Something was different for me though. Maybe I'm just finally an adult. Will have to do something about that next year...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Countdown - Day Twenty-Eight - December 24

On Christmas Eve, we do the same thing every year.
24th. Christmas Eve: Unwrap one present after dinner (Mama & Papa get to pick which one).
Before that, however, we go to Grandma Cathy's house to visit with the rest of the family, who we don't see too often.

To clarify this family thing, Grandma Cathy is my step-mother, who was married to my dad, Papa Logan. Cathy is mother to my two step-siblings, Uncle Matthew and Aunt Laura. Aunt Laura is my only sibling who has children, Aleks and Bastian's four cousins. Grandma Cat is my mother and Grandpa Jim is my step-father. Their two daughters, Aunt Natty and Aunt Lilly, are my younger half-siblings. All very complicated...

This is Laura and I with the only daughter amongst us, Emmalynn.
Jon, Papa Logan, and Uncle Burke in Grandma's kitchen.
Uncle Matthew and Grandma Cathy.
Grandma Cathy got the boys this awesome LeapFrog (whose products I normally loath) globe thing, much like one that lives at her house which belonged to Mark. The kids have played with it for years and now we have one all our own. That night, the boys used it to learn about the varying places that NORAD was reporting Santa to be in on his way around the world.

Big family.
Back at Grandma Cat's house, I dipped pretzels in chocolate, then covered them in crushed Skor bars, then the boys opened their Christmas Eve gifts, which is the same thing every year, Hanna Andersson Holiday pajamas. Aleks is getting tired of this gift, but they're so cute in them!!! We all watched It's a Wonderful Life on television.
Aleks wrote Santa this cute little note to show where the cookies were.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Countdown - Day Twenty-Seven - December 23

I know that Kate was really jealous of us doing this one, but I'll tell you what - don't be because we didn't.
23rd. Go see the lights at Clifton Mill.
We spent the day at Grandma Cat's in our pajamas, watching television (since we don't have one at our house, we always get sucked in at Grandma's), decorating the Christmas tree, hanging stockings, having fun with Aunt Lilly...

We let our tour the night before of the "Festival of Lights" in Baba's hometown of Archbold suffice for light-seeing instead. Besides, the roads were bad on the 23rd.

And we did fun stuff like this:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Countdown - Day Twenty-Six - December 22

I planned this all out very carefully. Thus, on the 22nd, our scroll read:
22nd. Visit Baba.
The plan was to visit Jon's Baba (Ukranian for "Grandmother"), which is in the Northwestern part of the state, then leave from there to go to my parent's house where we spend every Christmas. And that's what we did.
Aleks made this video while we were there...

Baba tried to show me how to knit holes in order to create the same effect shown on the afghan behind us.The boys pulled out the only real toys there, an ancient tub of Lego.
We made a mess, worked on all our creative endeavors (we can't not, it would seem, no matter where we go), ate some sausage, cheese, and bread, then hugged and kissed goodbye til next year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Countdown - Day Twenty-Five - December 21

The scroll was lost, but it read,
21st. Buy a gift for a family in need via Heifer International.
Alas, we did not. It was our every intention to buy honeybees (Aleks' suggestion), but since we were set to leave town on the 22nd, there was lots and lots to be done, which required running about all over the city.

As it turned out, we had several families headed by single mothers who needed some simple, but meaningful errands run for them, thus we replaced the helping a faraway, invisible family by purchasing honeybees with helping real-life families we know. One recently widowed mother of four needed some light holiday movies to help distract her and her children. Jon burned several and I took them over with some of the cookies the boys baked as well as some items she ordered from another area mother (who I also brought cookies to).

Then it was zipping up to the coffee shop where another single mama friend works to drop off a present she requested I purchase on behalf of her son for his surrogate dad since she'd run out of time between parenting alone and working all the time.

Also on the menu was a box of hand-me-down toys and clothes for yet another single mama friend's two-year-old son.

I managed, in all that, to pack for the entire family, finish all our holiday shopping, pick up the house, and get kielbasa for Jon's grandmother. Afterward, I stopped by a bar where a friend was having a karaoke birthday party to say hello. My sister turned up and we signed up to sing REO Speedwagon, but the karaoke closed up before we got the chance. Half of the people I know in the city were in attendance, however, and we were treated to many excellent and ironic renditions of hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

The children stayed home watching holiday movies and eating too much chocolate. Surely that suffices as enough for the holiday countdown.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Countdown - Day Twenty-Three - December 19

The boys handled this pretty much on their own as I was busy cleaning the entire house to rid it of any possible trace of pinworm egg (for the second year in a row, Sebastian seems to have brought worms home for all of us at Christmas - I call B.S.). The whole house kept falling down due to the weight of it, I guess, and eventually Papa remedied the situation with wood glue, which was pretty amusing. The kids ate all the gumdrops off rather rapidly and it looked like a mass of white frosting in the end.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Woodland Elves

I originally intended to fit this activity in wherever I could, ideally when we put the winter table together. We took it with us on a visit to Mari's Open House one Friday, but did not get to it. Mari, upon hearing of it, however, made a sad face about having missed it, so we brought it back the next week after breakfast with Santa and Snowdrop's Adventure game.

We made the acorn gnomes back in the fall and I saw Woodland Elves at Ordinary Life Magic, so it seemed the logical next step. We used many of the materials we'd gathered on our walk earlier in the countdown.

In large part, elves were constructed by myself and Mari. Bastian made the one on the left, however. He chose the pieces and their locations while I hot-glued.

Then we hung them on the tree.

Holiday Countdown - Day Fourteen - December 10 - Revisited, or, er, Vistied

As previously noted, we didn't manage to do Day Fourteen's activity on Day Fourteen, we did it on Day Twenty-Two because we were out that way for breakfast with Santa and it's a 45 minute drive. Also, I'm updating all of this rather late as the holidays induced an insane urge to do absolutely nothing in me for awhile there. More on that later. The room looked neat, but the game didn't have the same draw for us as did Candyland. I believe Donna at Purple Kappa said that part of the attraction of Candyland was in seeing something small made huge. I think she's right.
The ice cave was pretty fascinating.
My mood was waning after having gotten up early to rush to breakfast with Santa and the place was packed, so we didn't stay too long. The boys were glad to have made it though.

Holiday Countdown - Day Twenty-Two - December 18

Day 22 included more breakfast.

When Santa arrived and started making his way around the tables, Bastian watched in feverish anticipation.

After breakfast, was time for the staged photo and detailing of lists (both wish and naughty/nice b.s.). The kids look ever-so-thrilled.
Then they got down to brass tacks. Aleks requested a microscope and Bastian asked for all things Dora and Diego.
Then I tried for one last shot. Ahem.
Then it was off to the workshop to build a toy. We went through an ice cave first. Bastian liked the Grinch. He's been sleeping with a plush version since Thanksgiving when his Aunt Teresa brought him one for the holidays. Every night, he cuddles up in his Hanna Andersson Christmas PJs and matching slippers and holds his Grinch doll. It's very very cute.
The place was all sorts of decked out. It was ridiculous.

I had wondered about the wood toy business beforehand. It was way more involved than I could have expected. The boys got to use power tools. Aleks made a shark and Bastian made a castle. They're actually fairly well crafted. I'm not sure how much use the shark will be. I tried to talk him into doing the pirate ship. I guess since we already have three wooden pirate ships, that idea wasn't terribly appealing.

Afterward, we went to explore the farmpark. We pet the cows, one of whom headbutted Bastian when he climbed up to reach her. She didn't want him in the way of her eating lunch, I guess.
Then it was pony rides!

And these little piggies...
And a little lamb...
Afterward, we headed to Snowdrop's Adventure Game and then to our friend Mari's, where we made elven things out of nature bits.