Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas come and gone

Wow, it sure does go fast, doesn't it.

Here are a few highlights of the past few days around here.

1. Christmas family festivites started on the 23rd at John and Christine's for the Braun gathering and turkey dinner. A great evening of visiting, eating, BINGO and some pool. A smaller crowd of only 17 this year as one entire family was missing.

2. The 24th was a busy Symonds day. Started out with breakfast in bed for Nana (happy birthday).

3. Mary, Nik and the kids arrived around lunch time and we enjoyed chinese food for lunch to celebrate Mum's birthday together and then shortly thereafter things shifted from birthday to Christmas.

4. The house starts to smell like turkey while the kids open their stockings from Nana. An afternoon of playing, snacking and puzzles.

5. Family + Food = Happiness. See above photo. Our yummy dinner was followed by present opening and just generally hanging out, laughing and enjoying eachother's company.

6. Christmas morning was just right. Just the 6 of us doing our thing. The kids all opened their stockings in one big whirlwind and then we put on a pot of tea and then opened our presents one at a time.

7. The kids stayed in their jammies all day long and they couldn't have been happier. We played games, built Lego, got crafty with Reagan's new stuff, ate, ate and ate. The day went by so very fast and I couldn't believe it was all over. It was warm and cozy and just right.

Here are a few more highlights in picture form:
The gang

Hudson working some magic on Aunty Mary

New binoculars from Santa

A lot of Guitar Hero - present to Tony from the kids

Cooper finally got skene it - Coop, the C is silent, for the 100th time

I have to mention one more thing. The story behind this picture. This is my Christmas cracker. I have been making the Christmas crackers for the Symonds dinner for a few years now and Tony always fills mine. The past few years he has gone a little overboard with the presents he puts in mine, never sticking to the idea that it is supposed to be just a little silly gift. This year I thought he had finally gone back to the origianl plan because in my cracker was a little toy camera with silly cartoon pictures inside. Knowing how much I like to take pictures I thought it was cute. But he comes up behind me with another gift all wrapped up that he says is my actual cracker gift. I feel my heart start to race a little, thinking about what he could have possibly done. Inside the box is my dream camera - Nikon D40X. I think it is the first time I have ever really gotten emotional over a gift he has given me. I was so overwhelmed and shocked - really never thinking that he was going to buy me such an expensive gift. Anyways, tears were shed and all eyes at the table were on me and the whole thing was lovely. So, so excited to have this great new camera to play with and figure out. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tony. I won't forget this one for a long time. How will you top this cracker gift next year?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chirstmas crafts

There are times when I wish that I had one of those trees that you see in the magazines - all beautifully decorated in a coordinated theme. But that it is not our tree. Our tree is a family tree in the best meaning of the term. There are a few 'store-bought decorations on there (Tony and I buy a new one every year to mark that year) but mostly they are popsicle stick snowmen, glitter covered pinecones, and beaded candy canes. And eventhough I have those moments where I think that our tree doesn't meet the standard, mostly I look at it and smile. We don't live in a magazine - we are a real (crazy) family with a real family tree.

And lately it is beginning to fill up with even more Christmas crafty things brought home from school.

And then of course there are the annual milk carton, graham cracker gingerbread houses. The first one of our collection came home today. Taggart and I made this one at his preschool Christmas party this morning (for him the eating was much better than the making). Reagan and Cooper are looking forward to making theirs tomorrow. (Cooper's class are the 'big buddies' to Reagan's class and so they are doing this activity together) Hudson was a little shocked to learn that he wasn't doing one at school so we said we would save him some candy and he could make one at home. Oh the joy of the little gingerbread houses - if only I know what to do with them all once they were done.

Here is the little video I tried to upload the other night with no luck. My computer and I made up. It is good for a little laugh I think. (You'll have to go down to the bottom of the page and pause my little music player so that it doesn't interfere with the audio of the video clip - sorry)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This is a test...

I really have not forgotten that I am a blogger but I just can't fit in everything I need to do in a day right now.

Actually the truth is that I am a little mad at my computer. The other night I must have spent at least an hour and a half trying to upload pictures, a video and then finally just words with no luck. I don't know what was wrong but by the end of it all I was so mad and frustrated that I couldn't even sleep. It was about midnight so that is way past my bedtime. Anyways, I have since been a little hesitant to go through that waste of time again.

This post is somewhat a test. If it goes through then maybe you'll see more tomorrow.
Reagan built this train track for Taggart today. aaaaawwww
I'm not sure he was as moved as I was though. His comment: "Reagan, the train only goes on the heart."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy Friday

Enjoyed a really nice day in Fort Langley with friend today. We left after dropping the kids off at school and Tag went to go spend a little time with Opa and Oma. I picked up some great little stocking stuffers, had some yummy soup for lunch and enjoyed a Starbucks on the way home. Love, love the white chocolate peppermint mocha.

Afterschool, the kids and I did a Christmas craft - something I picked up at the $1 store a while back and then an easy dinner of leftovers.

A trip down the street tonight to get my hair done and the day is complete.
Just trying to decide if I should sit down and finish up my Christmas cards or flop down on the couch for the rest of the night. Tough call.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Warning! Long post.

Oh my goodness - where do I start? I feel that a lot has happened since I last blogged.
Friday was a day was a day off school and since Tony had spent the last two days in Toronto for work he took the day off as well. He spent the morning catching up on some missed sleep while the kids and I went and got groceries, got haircuts, and visited Opa. Opa has taken on the role of Christmas cookie baker this year. Since he is the main Christmas cookie eater we think this is more than fair. He seemed to be doing a great job while we were there - can't wait to try them. I'm sure this role is not an easy one for Oma to give up but in all of our hearts they will still always be 'Oma cookies'.
Also had a very nice visit with Pat and Henry who came for dinner Friday night. Had not seen them for a very long time and I enjoyed catching up very much.

The advent wreaths got done and hung late on the night of the 30th. I cannot take all the credit though, as Tony was there helping me get it done.
Saturday morning they were all kind enough to go downstairs and watch some TV letting Tony and I sleep a little longer. But at some point I heard someone (Reagan, I think) say "hey, look at these!!" That's when I pulled myself out of bed to go down and be with them as they opened their first little box.
In it was a chocolate and a little note to say that today they would all get their own little Christmas tree to decorate for their rooms.
I asked them if they were happy with these and not disappointed that they didn't get the ones they usually got and they all answered with a resounding YES. Made me happy.
We also woke up to snow falling from the sky which cancelled soccer. We still ventured out though, to take Taggart to his very first birthday party (first that he gets to go to alone). He had a great time and when I went to pick him up he was happy and in a new set of clothes. Apparently his juice ended up all down the front of him but he didn't let it affect his fun at all.

This morning we woke up to more snow that came down all day long. The plan for the day was to go get our Christmas tree in the morning and then to decorate gingerbread houses at Nana's. This is an annual event that Mary and the kids also take part in with us. Unfortunately, the snowy weather prevented them from joining us. We did still go out to the Christmas tree farm but the gingerbread houses will have to wait until another day. (We missed you guys today, especially Cooper was so disappointed you didn't come - see you on the 16th)
Our Christmas tree hunt was very succesful. It took a little longer to get there and back because of the snow but the snow is what made it so lovely while we were there. I had prepared and reminded everyone of the process of the Christmas tree search. They have all gotten used to the fact that eventhough they all might try to point out the perfect tree, I am not usually satisfied until we have hiked to the back of the field to determine that there is nothing 'better'. This year I found 'the' tree much sooner than ever before, and eventhough they didn't say it I think they were all a little dissppointed(relieved) that we didn't go for the usual long hunt until everyone is grouchy. I was messing with tradition after all.

After a little rest in the barn cafe for hot chocolate and popcorn to warm up and dry off , we set off back home. (Mary, you would be glad you didn't venture out because the roads were not great)

The rest of the day was filled with naps, dinner at Nana's and of course decorating the tree. Now, as any couple knows that has ever set up a tree together, it can often be a slight time of tension. Every year, in the name of tradition, Tony crawls under the tree and I tell him when it's straight. Every year, in the name of tradition, his left is my right, forward is backward, and by the time it's straight all Christmas spirit has gone out the window.
But not this year! We got ourselves one of those fancy tree stands where all you have to do is push a button and it's straight. (not quite, but close) Anyways, I'm thinking tradition is not always the way to go.
December is off to great start.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Weekend highlights

I had a very stay-at-home weekend. I didn't get in the car at all. Lots of sitting around, watching Little House on the Prairie episodes with the kids (we finally got season one from the library), and some decorating the house for Christmas.

The kids all seem to be just getting over something or just getting something. Nothing too serious, but enough to warrant a lot of lying around.

Tony got the Christmas lights on the house yesterday. He added some to the second peak this year which meant he had to get up on the roof. Hudson got very nervous watching him thinking that Dad might fall off. All was good and the lights look great. I just have to work him up to getting up to the third peak for next year.
Also worked on my crazy advent project. One down - three to go. I have until Saturday to get them done so it may be a week of late nights. Wiring all those boxes on to the wreath takes longer than you would think. I like the end result but think the boxes need a little extra decoration. That may have to wait until next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What have I done?

Here are the 84 little boxes that I painted last night after the kids (and Tony) went to bed. I still have 12 left to do and then they all need a clear coat. Tony thought that we had retired this idea but secretly I never let it go. And then when I went to Bellingham last week the little boxes were just sitting in the store waiting to be purchased - by me. I am excited for this project and for what I am going to fill them with. The plan is to not always fill them with 'things' but rather things that we can do together. A little note to say "today we will string popcorn for the tree together" or "tonight we will watch a Christmas movie and make hot chocolate". I think they will really go for this. I do have a small fear that when they don't get their usual $.99 calendar that they will be disappointed. I am breaking from tradition after all - but I am trying to start a new one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Brave or insane...

I guess I was feeling brave tonight (or just ready for some holiday festivities) so the kids and I headed to downtown Abbotsford for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting. I have lived here all my life and never once have I been down there to see it. Tony is not home (hope you're enjoying Whistler) so I had to fly solo.

Anyways, I warned the kids that I had no idea what we should expect and if it wasn't any fun we would just come home.

There wasn't a whole lot there except a whole lot of people. I felt myself just constantly counting their little heads making sure I still had them all. They got some free hot chocolate, cookies and balloons and we watched Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in an old antique fire truck. Taggart quite liked that but soon after that he crashed in the stroller while we waited for the big event - the tree lighting, of course. Cooper had his eye on some light-up Rudolph noses that some kids were walking around with but when we finally figured out where they came from they were sold out (thank goodness). The kids got bored and a little whiny and started to use their balloons as weapons on eachother so that's when I threatened leaving. We made it to the end and participated in the big countdown and watched the tree light up. Immediately after that Hudson and Reagan both lost their balloons into the sky which wasn't handled very well by either of them. Warning them repeatedly that if you don't keep them tied to your wrist they will float away apparently did no good. So now before we head to the car we need to fight our way back through the crowd to get two new balloons. But they don't have any more balloons so now I am sure it is really time to go home. Taggart, who slept through all of this is now starting to wake up and is not too happy that he isn't anywhere near his bed. A quick stop for one more cup of free hot chocolate and we head to the car.

As I am loading all of us into the van I am thinking "was that worth it?". Getting everyone ready to go, the worry of losing one of them, the tears over lost balloons and the countless times I heard "this is boring, when are they going to light this tree?" But as we drove home they all said, one by one, "thanks Mom - thanks for taking us - a little boring but still really fun". So the answer is "yes", it was worth it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The holiday mood

I recently got a request for "more blog, please" so here it is. Love you, Leni.
Don't really feel like I have anything interesting to say about the daily goings-on of life right now. I am out of my funk from last week which is a good thing. Enjoyed a lovely dinner out with friends on the weekend. Had another lazy Sunday and tried to 'execute' a few a my 100+ Christmas projects floating around in my head. The box advent calendar idea has been vetoed by Tony but of course I can't leave that alone so I have come up with another one which is just as much work but not as much $. The problem with this one is that I can't find the items that I need - so of course I am now on the hunt.
Tomorrow my sweet neighbor is taking Reagan and Tag for the day so I can make a trip to my not so local scrapbook store in Bellingham. Looking forward to the time to myself to browse, be inspired and of course come up with yet another armload of projects. (Tony, I'll try to restrain myself, I promise.)
I am really feeling the Christmas spirit this year so much earlier than usual and I plan to pull my decorations out this weekend. Tony firmly believes that shouldn't make an appearance until December 1st but he won't be home - so there!
I'll share one of my projects from the weekend just because it was so much harder than it looks. I have seen kits for these stars online and thought to myself 'I can do that'. So Sunday this was my mission. I asked Tony for his help but he started talking about geometry, trigonometry and cosign so I asked him to go make dinner instead. (Which he did, I might add.)

Anyways it took me a good long time but I figured it out and I like the end result. I plan to make a few more and put them on the wall in a collage beside our Christmas tree.

No - we don't have our tree up yet but the date is marked on the calendar and Hudson informed me that it's only 16 days away. We really look forward to our annual trip to Murphy's Tree Farm.
Oh, and one more thing we did this weekend. I bought two large pomegranites which I painstakingly took all the seeds out of and then let the kids enjoy. I really love pomegranites and they feel very Christmasy to me. Opening one up to discover all the little hidden "jewels" inside always makes me happy. I have to say though, the process of uncovering all those little gems and getting them out of the peel takes about 5 times as long as it does for the kids to devour them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Saturday

We got through another Soccer Saturday and eventhough the weather man said it was going to rain it didn't. Both boys win their games and that was a very good thing since we haven't had a win in a very long time.
Tony is spending the afternoon cleaning up the garden and the kids are outside enjoying the sun.
I have been spending some time on the internet trying to find an idea for a home made advent calendar. I have seen a couple that I quite like, but since I have four to make I'm not sure if I can invest the time or the money. But the problem is that once I get an idea in my head about a project like this I rarely let it go. I tend to obsess about it a little until I have decided what I will do. So tomorrow might call for a trip down south to my favorite scrapbook store to retrieve the items I will need for my plan. I have been inspired, as always, by my favorite blog and this cool idea. Tony, of course, thinks I'm crazy to want to paint 100 little boxes, hang 100 little boxes, and then fill 100 little boxes. But I might have to do it anyway.
Tonight I get to do what I rarely get to do - go for dinner with friends. Very excited to go to an adult restaurant (one with no kid's menu) and have adult converstion. Thanks, Mum, for babysitting.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I've been in a real funk since Monday and can't seem to shake it. One of those weeks that you just can't wait to see the end of. I've been blaming it on the time change last weekend but I don't really know if that's the cause. Kids have been getting up way too early and as a result are pretty grouchy. Tomorrow is a Pro-D so I'm considering this my Friday and I've decided that today is the last day of this nonsense.

On the upside, I am really looking forward to the holiday season. Usually I am one of those who doesn't pull out any Christams stuff until December 1st but I'm itching to get it out already. So I have been creating and this got finished and put up this weekend.

Trying to figure out what to get the kids for Christmas. Really don't want to buy too many toys because they already have so many and don't need any more. So I am trying to think out of the box a bit and come up with something a little more original. Would love to take them to some kind of show or something but the timing needs to be right.
Hudson has already sent his letter to Santa. Yesterday afterschool he got busy drawing a picture and neatly printing his request on the top. (sorry, no photo). He still believes so firmly in Santa and it's really sweet. He's getting to the age when it can become a question. Cooper tried to blow it for him a few times last year but deep down I know he still really wants to believe too. I think he's torn, but so far this year he's kept quiet about it.
Will get ready now to head to the school for the Remebrance Day assembly. Hudson is in the choir this year and really wanted me to come watch. Really wish it wasn't raining - that could be contributing to the lousy mood this weekend. Needing a week on the beach somewhere. HA,ha - that's funny.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Last night we carved pumpkins after dinner. Really Tony and I carve pumpkins and the kids keep busy doing thier own thing because it's not as if we can hand each of them a knife and say go at it. So Tony and I carved pumpkins. Nana joined us and helped Tag with his little pumpkin - cutting out the top and scooping out the guts. Reagan watched as Tony carved hers and then kept busy with collecting all the seeds out of the guts for roasting. Cooper and Hudson wanted to carve their own but realized it's harder than it looks so left it to us and went off to read comics.

In the end, fun was had by all and the pumpkins looked great.

Of course my mind was whirling with all I still needed to do to get everyone out of the house this morning. But we did it and it was a lot easier than I thought. They were all so excited and they looked great. Coop's hobo costume turned out way better than I thought thanks to Tony spending an hour on the driveway last night grinding all the clothes into shreds.

We all walked to school this morning on time and happy. The snacks were all wrapped up and ready to go. They have a costume parade at school so Tag and I stayed to watch. It's a big school and it took a long time for all the kids to file by and Tag was so patient. I think he was pretty fascinated with all the crazy costumes.
So now I am feeling a hundred times better than last night. Big sigh of relief when all those costumes finally came together in the end. And it's really so worth it as you watch the excitement in their little faces.

Now I just need to put together a chicken stew for dinner and wait until tonight when we head out to trick-or-treat. I am trying to prep Tag for what tonight holds for him and he is excited but I really don't think he has any idea. As the two of us walked home from school today he asked me "Where is Halloween?" Like it is a place that we are going to go.

So cute but so clued-out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Costumes and soccer

We are knee deep in Halloween preparations. Or should I say, I am knee deep. I do this every year. I think I have so much time to get their costumes ready and then the last day I am scrambling.

Halloween is really not my favorite time of year. I don't like all the ghoulish things that go along with it but of course we do it - because the kids love it.

Today I managed to get Reagan's and Hudson's costumes done (Minnie Mouse and Frankenstein) and they turned out really well. Taggart is going to be a lion, the one from the Wizard of Oz specifically, because that is his very favorite movie right now. Thankfully that costume was lent to us and I had to do nothing.

Cooper, on the other hand, is another story. He wanted to be an 'army man'. Has wanted to for months now. When I said okay to that I wasn't really thinking about the fact that army men carry guns. (I think this costume thing might have been a plan all along for me to finally buy him a play gun). I have always said that I will not buy a gun. So I guess lately we have sort of been avoiding the whole issue of the gun.

Tony says "He can't be an army guy without one."

So I say "So, what then, should I buy him one?"

He says "I never would have agreed to him dressing up as an army guy"

I say "Thanks for your help." (as if you wouldn't have)

So I basically caved to him having a gun. Yet, after scouring endless dollar stores, Cooper could not find the gun he wanted. Oh, darn.

Yesterday, a kind friend of his (now my favorite) suggested he be a hobo.

A hobo - no weapons. Yay!

Tomorrow I am off to Value Village for hobo clothes.


Tomorrow I have to bring snack for Tag's whole preschool class (a fact which escaped me until 8:30 this evening).

Tomorrow I have to bake witch finger and eyeball cookies for 3 class Halloween parties.

Tomorrow I have to buy a pumpkin for our carving planned for after dinner because some lovely teenagers decided to steal one off our porch and smash it on the road.

Tomorrow might be a pizza night.

Switching gears now to soccer - which seems to be taking over our lives lately.

Reagan had her big wind-up tonight. She has really enjoyed soccer this season (her first) and she has also done really well. Unfortunately, Tony and I feel very 'soccered out'. It's too bad that all the administrative red tape and things that have nothing to do with the kids enjoying the game has sort of taken over this year.

But tonight watching her and the happiness on her face when she received her little trophy and stuff makes me remember why we do it and why Tony puts so much time into volunteering.

Still, a little relieved that her season is over. This means we are now down to only two games every Saturday and that's plenty.

Can't wait until all four of them are playing.

Saturday has definitely turned into Soccerday and will stay that way for some time I think.

Off to bed. Tomorrow is a big day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

In a jam

I left Hudson, Reagan and Tag downstairs (Tony and Cooper went to soccer) to go have my shower Saturday morning. As a came out of the bathroom only 15 minutes later this is what I saw.

"Mom, I ate some jam" I think I just stood there and stared at him for a minute, trying, in my head, to imagine what I might find as I go down the stairs and into the kitchen.

This jar was almost full before he got to it. He had quite a feast. And there were little trails of it everywhere. I should mention that Reagan and Hudson were there the whole time - but the TV was on - enough said.

Of course I got annoyed with him and told him he was very naughty, but I also went for my camera. And I thought later how scrapbooking is so much more than a hobby for me but a way of life. I have heard other scrapbookers talk about it this way, and to those who don't "get it" I'm sure it sounds so over the top. But if I wasn't a scrapbooker, so interested in capturing our everyday, would I have stopped to take photos? Probably not and then I wouldn't have given myself those moments to see the silliness in the situation. Maybe I would have gotten mad, mad at him and mad at the mess I now needed to deal with. So thankful for what this hobby has done for me and how it has let me grow as a person and as a Mom.

As I sat him on the table to get the photos of his little jammy self, Reagan and Hudson finally noticed that something was going on. "What did he do?" asked Reagan. "He ate some jam" I answered. Taggart: "It was sooooo good."

The trail of evidence.