December 24, 2010

hip, hip, hooray for Christmas Vacation!

I seriously love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation :) I never saw it as a kid/teenager but it was one of the Olson family faves so I now have it on my official "must-see Christmas movie" list. We all love it! Other movies on our must-see list:

* Elf
* A Christmas Story (another one we never watched as kids. I actually refused to watch it with Eric for a few years because I thought it looked so stupid. Now I love it! The kids love it too)
* Mickey's Christmas Carol
* The Santa Clause
* Bad Santa (for us... NOT the kids!)

We always watch more movies than that but these are the MUSTS in our family!

Anyway, tomorrow is Christmas and our family is hosting the big get-together at our house this year. This always makes me happy... and stressed! The stress is just part of who I am and I just deal with it and it's always worth it but for a few days before Christmas I feel on the brink of a break-down.

So what's been going on lately? Well, I have been baking up a storm and it seems that all my treats disappear far too quickly. I keep meaning to give some away but then they are all so good that we just keep eating until there are only a measly few left and not enough to gift away! I made a ton of fudge and little turtle pretzels last night that solved my dilemma and today got a few goodie trays and tins put together for gifting to friends and loved ones. I made plain chocolate, chocolate with toasted walnuts, toffee crunch, and mint.

Today I have been in the kitchen nearly the entire day and I see no end in sight over the next few days! I do enjoy being in the kitchen but it would be far more enjoyable if I didn't have kids hovering over everything I do! Love my kids but right now I need them to wander off and play somewhere else! On todays agenda was a yummy breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast, prepping the cinnamon roll dough and pans, chicken dumpling soup for supper, and some yummy homemade granola for my niece who will be here tomorrow!

Speaking of tomorrow, the plan is to do cinnamon rolls in the morning, leftover soup for lunch, and maybe homemade pizza for supper. We'll see about that last one. In between I need to prep dishes for Sunday's dinner which will be the big Christmas dinner since Saturday is a day of travel for our out of town visitors and we thought it would be best to do the big meal on Sunday.

Sunday's dinner will be cherry citrus glazed ham, creamy herb potatoes, gingersnap sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls, asparagus, and pumpkin pies. Yummm...

So tomorrow is Christmas and I am ready for the kids to get those presents open! I think I did a great job this year of not only getting great deals but making sure that those great deals were on things that the kids would actually enjoy. Most of the gifts are fun AND educational in nature. We only got one small item for each of the girls that were frivolous. I found lots of fun things for our homeschool and I'm excited to start using them!

Well, I better get going. I have so much more I want to write and pictures to post but I am just too tired and still have so much to do!

Make each day count!

December 19, 2010

The day when my daughter learned about her name.

For those who don't know, my kids names are Jenna, Marah, and Alexander. I love each of my children's names, of course, but one of my kids does not have a name that means something lovely or strong or, really, anything good at all.

Marah. It means bitter. It comes from a story in the Bible where Naomi asks to be called Mara because the Lord has "dealt bitterly" with her. We did not choose the name for its meaning, but because we thought it was a really pretty name.

So last night, we were sitting around the Christmas tree, singing Christmas songs and I had sung The First Noel and told Marah how Noel means Christmas and that Noelle is also Jenna's middle name (named for my best friend in high school). So then we started a coversation about our names and what they mean and it went something like this:

Me: So, Noelle means Christmas and you know your middle name is Sue and Sue means Lily. Lily is a beautiful white flower.

Marah: And what does Marah mean?

Me: Well, Marah means bitter.

Marah: What's bitter?

Me: It's like something that tastes bad.

Marah: Oh! And what does Jenna mean?

Me: Jenna means "little bird"

Jenna: Oh! Little bird! I'm like a little bird!

Marah: And I'm yucky!

And that is when I cracked up and could not stop laughing! Honestly, I thought Marah would be mad when I told her that her name didn't mean something pretty. I was surprised when she didn't seem upset by it. However, I was really surprised when she announced, with great joy, that she way yucky!

The girl never ceases to amaze and amuse me :)

p.s. of course I know that bitter can also be interpreted as being in a bad mood, being upset about something, etc. Bitter is a feeling as well as a type of taste, but it was the first thing that came to my mind, and really I don't think I need to give Marah any excuse to act bitter... she does that enough on her own already :P

December 14, 2010

The day when my brother came over.

For those who do not know, I have an amazing brother. Here are some little facts about my life with my brother.

- My brother is younger than me. I am the oldest of four siblings but I spent my entire childhood growing up with only one brother because my younger sisters were adopted after I turned 18.

- My brother and I were best friends when we were really little.

- We then spent the next... I don't know, 10 years, hating each other (but loving each other at the same time. You know how it goes?)

- One time my brother was gone for a week at Bible camp. I was so bored and lonely that when he came home I was super excited and went crazy finding photos of him to tape to the front door to greet him when he came home.

- The next day I hated him again. :P

- My brother became my best friend again once he started attending the high school with me. We would fight all morning while getting ready for school but as soon as we sat in the car together (with me behind the wheel, of course), we were best friends and all the drama of the morning was forgotten.

- Seriously, like, the car was magical or something.

- I helped my brother get his first job. It was at Golfland, a mini golf and arcade, it also was where I worked for three years.

- My brother is hilarious.

- My brother is one of those easy-to-like-right-away guys because he is just so personable and he knows how to talk to people. Is that the same thing? Well, whatever!

- He was not always this way! Growing up he was super shy, and introverted. He surprised our whole family when he announced that he was going to be in the school musical and then surprised us even further when we discovered that he was really good! I went all big sister and got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I watched him perform.

Yeah, I love my brother. The last time I had seen Ryan was a couple of weeks after Alex was born. In 2008. Yeah. So I was so very excited when he told me that he was planning a road trip with his girlfriend, Ai, to introduce her to the sights of the USA (Ai is from Japan and this was her first trip to America), and would be coming up this way for a quick visit! I was hesitant to get my hopes up because you know... the best laid plans and all, but the day finally came and before I knew it, I was opening my door up to see my brother standing there with a full on (well, we can use that term loosely) beard and a goofy look on his face that I can't even begin to explain except to just call it the "Ryan face" and I hugged him and started crying. It was a happy moment. I'm tearing up again just thinking about it!

We spent the evening doing the home tour, getting to know Ai-chan, and just being all happy together in my home. I don't get to have my family in my home very often so I was just beside myself a bit. Here are a few photos from that first night and next morning:

The next day I took Marah to school and the rest of us just sat around talking, eating (Ai-chan ate her first bowl of cocoa puffs), drawing, and relaxing. At 11 we all headed over to visit Marah for lunch and Ai-chan got to visit an American school for the first time. Marah was so proud to have so many visitors :)

That night we played Rock Band, made pumpkin muffins and went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

The next day we went to Cabela's and followed that with a trip out to my sister-in-law's house where her hunting fanatic husband, Fred, showed Ai-chan how to shoot a gun. It was hilarious! Unfortunately no one caught a picture of her being knocked down from the power of the rifle (don't ask me what these guns were all called, I just know that it was the black one). Ryan was a natural with the gun and had no trouble shooting clays with the big boys ;)

On Sunday we went to church before the two headed out for Seattle and I was left a sobbing mess with Marah patting my leg and rubbing my back and Eric offering me Ativan, which I declined :P

I hope it won't be another 2 years before I see my brother again, but it is more likely than not that it will be. It's the hard, cold (literally) truth of living in rural Minnesota when my family lives in San Diego. I miss them but that's just the way things are for now.

In the meantime I just thank God for these moments, few and far between as they may be, and enjoy them as best I can.

Make each day count!

December 10, 2010

A Year of Facebook

I know this is incredibly long. I'm really posting it for myself but you can certainly read it if you'd like. I love this application on Facebook! It's a great way to remember your year. I post far more frequently to Facebook than to my blog AND I can remember so many wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) moments over the past year in a short little journal of sorts. Isn't the internet wonderful? :)
If you want to create your Year in Status on Facebook just go to and choose the status updates that mean the most to you. Have fun reminiscing about your year!


You stay classy San Diego!

The Christmas/ holiday season has found me in a bit of a downer spirit. I'm trying to snap out of it but not seeming to have much success. Tonight we will be putting the kids to bed early then surprising them with a warm car and hot cocoa to go for a Christmas lights drive about 5-10 minutes later. Maybe this will be what I need to perk me up and get me in the right spirit.

Well, that and a house cleaning fairy. If you know of one can you send him/her my way? I'd be much obliged. :)

Make each day count (even when you don't feel like it)!