Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Suddenly, it's Christmas

Can you believe it is the middle of December?  I remember when the month of December seemed to last forever.  Alas, time just keeps speeding up.

Sorry for the disappearing act over the past weeks.  As many of you know, my father died right before Thanksgiving and I was in North Dakota for a couple of weeks.  He had been declining in health for the last few years as a result of pulmonary fibrosis, so no one was shocked.  My time at home was really nice, despite the sadness we all felt.  I got to see my niece and her husband and both of my nephews.  It was really helpful to be with my family.  I actually had fun. 

My dad was such a good person.  He was a sweet, sensitive, funny, friendly, helpful, gracious, wonderful guy.  We heard so many lovely things about him from friends and family.   We all miss him a lot.  It is weird when someone whose presence you take for granted dies.  Even though I knew it was imminent, I didn't and couldn't really understand what it would be like.  My friend Josephine, whose dad died several years ago, told me that the finality was the hardest part and I agree.  I can't really believe I won't be seeing him again.  I'm really happy I got to have him as my dad. 

When I got back, life was happening full bore.  I took a few days to really get back into the swing of things.  But I can say I'm almost done with the Christmas shopping, I've baked some cookies with my kids (which really entails telling them to not put things in the bowl and to stop eating the dough while they watch me) and done some decorating.  I finished an "advent calendar" (of sorts) project I was working on before our trip, but had to shorten it to 16 days rather than the usual 24.  I got the idea from Craftastica via Crafty Crow.  (For those of you who don't know Crafty Crow, it is a site where they post the best of crafts for kids found on blogs.  It is like one stop shopping.)  If you click on the link, you can see why I was attracted to it.  Paper, magazines, recycling!  Here's mine:
I cut my bag in 1/2 because I had to use it inside out and I had fewer pockets.

The little pockets hold (mostly) paper ornaments or ornament projects for the kids to do that coordinate with Christmas books.  We pull the ornament out, then read the book.  We've been hanging the ornaments on a cord over the fireplace.

The kids made these fingerprint snowmen.
So far we've read: The Little Christmas Tree, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Too Many Mittens, Snowmen at Night, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, and Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight?  We have several more to go.  I love Christmas books.  I think I buy them for me as much as for the kids.

Last weekend, Nick and I took the kids to Breakfast with Santa, which I have renamed Breakfast Adjacent to Santa, because Santa spends the whole time in the next room with kids on his lap.  The Circle K group at Westfield State puts it on and it is very popular.  You get breakfast, crafts, clowns and the accompanying balloon things (you know, it's not just animals anymore) and face painting. 
Here are some scenes:
Look what we made!

I love Santa's boots.

Life is good with a balloon sword.

As many of you know, Willa loves getting her face painted.  She, my rarely patient child, will wait for a long, indefinite amount of time to get this done.  Here's the results on Saturday.  It was a long wait, but worth it to her!
"RARR!" to quote herself.  I was going to take pictures for the Christmas card that day, but didn't think about it until after the masterpiece was complete.  It was a beautiful day and would have been great for photography.  I thought, "I'll just do it tomorrow." 

Sunday was rainy and bleak.  But we tried anyway.  Tried, and failed.  Here are a few choice shots from the session:

Nick and I laughed out loud at this one.  It looks like she took his head off and is holding up for everyone to see.

This is the best one from the day:
It is a little odd.  Nick thinks it doesn't look like our kids.  I think Willa looks angry. Needless to say, we didn't use any of these in the card.  Our card has a whole autumn theme going on.  That's a little odd too, but I don't really care at this point.  I think a tiger would've been even worse.

We had a fun weekend, but missed you though.