The Day After Christmas

The day after Christmas.

He was born, and brought home in a small red Christmas stocking. I don't have any pictures of this, because his baby pictures are still in his mother's home. I am told he was a cranky baby who cried a lot and had skinny "bird legs". Maybe he had an impatient streak even then. The legs have filled out nicely.

The day after Christmas.
A hard day for a birthday. Everyone gets presents, not just you. Everyone is sick of sweets, so the birthday cake doesn't seem so grand. But he never seems to mind. It is still a special day.

We met in the summer. We were 17. It's okay, you can laugh at my big, permed 80's hair. Isn't HE cute, though? Check out that ready smile and those twinkly eyes. Oh, and don't forget the ARMS! Yes, I am a sucker for strong arms, and I tell you what, I am still in love with those arms. They turn me to jello.

It was the day after Christmas, we were still dating, and he asked me to the movies. As we went through the ticket line, I noticed his ex-girlfriend was the one to give us our tickets. This made my stomach turn a little, but it was nothing compared to how I felt when she looked up at him with obvious adoration, completely ignoring my hand in his and said, "Happy Birthday Trevor!"
Uhhhh. Birthday? I didn't know. Or...I forgot. All I remember is feeling foolish and guilty, it should have been ME to wish him a happy birthday! Ugh. Double Ugh.

Fast forward a few years, the day after Christmas. We were driving around running errands. After my incessant whining, he turns to me and says, "Let's just drive to the hospital and see if we can get a room". I'm game. And what do you know, they gave us a room! Five hours later, he turns to me and says, "This is the best birthday present I have EVER received". He is holding our new daughter in his arms, and I can tell he is more than thrilled to share his special day with someone else. His own little girl. Now we have two "day after Christmas" birthdays to celebrate in our family.This year we decided to get a jump on the birthday festivities. It is not yet the day after Christmas, but we got the chance to gather with friends for dinner. We had such a wonderful time. Thank you Benoits, Despains, Halversons, Hickmans, Heidens, Lees, & Madsens for helping us celebrate! He enjoyed himself so much, we both did. It couldn't have been a better gift.

The day after Christmas we will celebrate again with family, and I can't wait.

He is certainly and most definitely something to celebrate!

Merry Christmas AND Happy Birthday Trevor! You are loved!


busy little hands

My little girls excitedly asked Trev & I if they could get a little tree for their room this year. They had such big plans on how to decorate it themselves.

We took them to the store where they picked out a small but lovely white tree with white lights. Perfect for a little girls room.

We brought the small tree home, where they carefully helped me assemble it, moving the laundry basket to make room for "their" tree. Oh were they delighted.
And then they disappeared.

Where did they go? They were busy for hours.
They spent the time cutting, pasting and giggling. They made round paper ornaments, Spongebob ornaments, "I love you" ornaments to name a few. And Skylar made quite a few origami candycanes, stockings, stars and even a cute little Santa-in-a-Chimney ornament (she loves origami). Oh, and I can't forget the yellow construction paper star for the top.Result? Here's the cutest tree I have ever seen. Ever.


The Michaels Man

What do you get when you cross a sombrero, a harmonica and The Salvation Army?
I found out a couple of days ago as I was entering our local Michael's craft store.
I made it a goal this year to put some money into every Salvation Army persons bucket this year, even if it was just small change. You see them at EVERY store now. So far I have been given a mumbled thank you, and maybe a small smile. No problem, doesn't discourage me in any way.
BUT...what a breath of fresh air the Michael's man was! As I approached Michael's from the parking lot, I started to hear music. Not really a tune I could put my finger on, but a pleasant sound, nonetheless. After putting my keys in my purse, I looked up to see a short, hispanic man wearing a huge colorful sombrero. He was smiling the biggest smile I have ever seen as I approached the Salvation Army bucket. He was wearing the red apron, but was not ringing the traditional bell. I put my money in, and he looked me right in the eye (I am a short white person) and said in broken English, "God bless you! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" He then lifted a harmonica to his lips, and started to play a random tune as he walked back and forth in front of the store.
I was caught off guard! I was smiling from ear to ear! How wonderful! Everyone around me was smiling as well, and he offered a "God Bless You", or "Merry Christmas" to everyone who came within a few feet of him.
I don't know about you, but I rarely hear those words from people outside my circle of friends and family. Perhaps they think they will offend me in some way. I was not offended. I was made cheerful.
And that is what you get when you cross a sombrero, a harmonica, and The Salvation Army.


Spontaneous Joy

Sometimes I sit down and decide to post on my blog. I have no idea what I am going to say. Other times, I have thought of something I want to share and know exactly which pictures I'm going to use.

Today I just sat down and hit the post button without a single idea in mind. Let's see what I come up with.

Okay, first of all, last week our computer crashed and all our photo files were gone. I am talking photos from the past3 years. Luckily Trev was able to retrieve most of them, but some are missing and some are messed up. I noticed while looking through what had been recovered that many of last month's Halloween party picts are gone. Thank goodness I posted a blog entry with photos of each family. Thank goodness for my blog!

Last night we decided to stop in to visit my parents. They live only about 10 miles away, but funny how often we DON'T stop by. Well, I'm so glad we did because it was just what this soul needed. What is it about HOME? What is it about the open arms of people who love you. We sat around and talked, the kids with huge grins on their faces eating up the attention of doting grandparents. We played games and sipped homemade hot cocoa. Thanks mom and dad for the warmth and welcoming. I feel lifted and loved.

I'm definitely ready to get the rest of our Christmas decorations up, and the tree decorated this weekend. I love the spirit of Christmas time. I love the feelings of peace, hope and love at this time of year. After many years, I finally bought a nativity scene, and I am SO excited about it! I really felt the need to get a "real" one this year. With all the turmoil in the world right now, that scene of Jesus and his birth and the importance of it all grounds me and makes me feel happy. I plan to make it the center of many conversations with our kids this season.

Good place to end my post. I hope this Christmas season brings much joy to the world and to you! Until next time...


My Swinging Monkeys

If you keep up with my blog, you should know that I love to play tennis. I really, very much love to play. (Iknow, you're probably sick of hearing about it...)

But did I ever mention that my monkeys play too?

They do. And they love it.

No, it's not me just loving that they love it, they really do love it! And of course, I do love that they do. Follow me?

I followed them around during their lessons yesterday with my camera.

Trev had his team practice right after the kids had their lessons. I thought of taking some pictures of him too, but didn't think he would have liked me following him around while he hit with all the guys.

Anyway, I admit I do have hopes that they will keep up with this sport. They can play it forever if they want to!

I'm really not prejudiced, I KNOW they all have great potential!!

Keep swinging my sweet monkeys!!!!


"If I can do it, anyone can" - me

The phone rings.
"Hello?", I ask.
"Hello, May I speak to Mrs. L please?"
"This is Mrs. L."
"Hi, this is so and so from the Herald. I am doing a piece for the paper on kayaking, and was wondering if I might be able to interview you."
"Um, me?" I stutter.
"Yes, I got your name from.....blah blah blah, and would really like to make an appointment to meet you, and ask you some questions."
"Ha ha ha ha." I laugh out loud. I wonder...is this one of my husband's pranks. He likes those, so I almost ask.
But instead I say, "Oh, I think you want to talk to my husband, he is the kayaker. I have only been a couple of times."
"Oh no", she says. "I would love to interview you. It's good to get a beginners perspective. Do you mind if I come to your home and bring my photographer also?"
I manage to mumble "um, okay", and proceed to exchange info and set up the date.

Luckily Trev got a good lunch break, so he made it for the interview. It was MUCH better with him there, because he had all the "real" info. I got written in for my positive attitude and beginner's experiences. Ha. Monkey A was even quoted in the article since she had just kayaked in Montana and absolutely loved it.
I must say though after all the hype, I felt a little like a hypocrite. I didn't get a chance to go again after that, and probably won't until next year. And because I don't want to be a hypocrite, I'll need to taste the dangers of a little white water and see if I like it. I will also need to go more often with my husband, and make sure MA gets her time on the water as well. Yes, as the article quotes us, this can be a family thing! Here's to next summer!
I did feel a bit silly posing in a kayak in my garage. It's a lot more fun on the water.


5th Annual Monster Mash!

Here we go! Pictures from our annual family Halloween party. Thanks everyone for the frighteningly fun night! We enjoyed Italian sodas (the Ginger Spice, Vanilla Bean & Peach were most popular). We had fun playing Halloween pictionary going from a timer of 1 minute down to 5 seconds. The kids played a candycorn toss and we all enjoyed looking at the costumes and eating awesome finger foods. The chocolate covered bacon was a first for me, but was surprisingly tasty.
Here you go, enjoy the pictures!!!

Your are invited...

Sarah Palin & John McCain made it to our party!!! (Mom & Dad Anglesey)

Eileen & Steve...Wow, what a hot devil!

Jeff, Kelli & Alex
Master Chief, the beautiful wench & giraffe

Shelli, Monkey D, B, C, A, & Trev.
Velma, the witch, the skater dude, the evil empress, the biker chick & the scotsman. MMMM, I love the kilt, but I really think it should have been a bit shorter to show off those hot legs.)

Darren...or is that Fred Flinstone?

Kiersten, Ezra, Ty & Josh
The farmer girl, pumpkin, Wolverine & the hippie

Mike, Mikey, Jenn, Avery & Alexis
The pirate AAARGH, Piglet, hippie chick, Daisy Duck & the pretty princess

Amy as Lady Guinevere...the pregnant Lady Guinevere

Marsha, Deanne, Maggie, Chloe & Patrick
The cavewoman, witch, Ariel, cute octopus & Dude

Mom & Dad Larson going fishing with the toilet paper

MB's loving Jeff's costume.

And the winners of the Best Overall Costume Contest are...3rd place - Fred Flinstone. It was a tie for 1st & 2nd place - Master Chief & Palin/McCain. GREAT costumes!!!

Okay, and for those of you who left earlier, you might have missed the hit of the party. His name is Ezra, and he came as a cute little pumpkin. But as the party began to wind down, and wigs started coming off, this little guy was a GREAT sport. First someone put the "James Brown" wig on him. With Darren in the background imitating James Brown & Ezra smiling for all to see, we all laughed till we cried.

His smile continued as we continued with the wigs. He didn't even try to pull them off and we got some great pictures. Oh did we laugh. Thanks for being such a great sport Ezie!!!


Our Googly Girl

Two nights ago we had popcorn. I think because my husband finds popcorn disgusting, we really don't have it very often. But, he was gone, and the little girls wanted some, so I set them up with a movie and a large bowl of it.
As they were finishing the bowl, I looked up from my laundry-folding to see Monkey D carefully picking at the kernels in the bottom of the bowl. She was very focused on what she was doing.
I went back to folding, but a couple of minutes later, she came up to me gently cupping a handful of unpopped kernels. She said, "Mom, I think you might want to put these somewhere special". I took them from her and thanked her with a big smile. She gave me a look of satisfaction and walked away.
What was she thinking? Did she think we could use them again? Did she think maybe I could plant popcorn? I'm not sure, I didn't ask her, but I thought it was such a sweet little gesture. I have them in a baggie on my dresser right now.

Yesterday, I decided the floor needed mopping. My poor husband bought me one of those awesome scrubber/suction/squeegie machines to clean wood floors, yet I still find myself doing it the old fashioned way. So with bowl of vinegar/water and cloth, I got to work on hands and knees and went to work. I'm so glad I was on my hands and knees, because I found something precious way down there at floor-level.
About a year or so ago, MD starting drawing. She learned the first initial of her name, "G", and would point to it wherever she saw it. She also loved to draw it. Once as I was walking in the hallway to my bedroom, I noticed about 15 handwritten G's penciled on the walls and baseboard. There were also about 15 tiny smiley faces. I thought it was cute that she had done that, but gave her the little lecture on not drawing on the walls, and scrubbed them all off.
But guess what I found as I was scrubbing my floors! I had missed a little G and a little smiley face from way back then. I was so happy! A year ago, I cared too much about my "newer" home and wanted those walls and baseboards clean, clean, clean. But after finding those precious little drawings on the baseboard yesterday, I was happy to leave them, and know that they will stay there as long as we are in this house.

Yesterday I looked over and saw this. I grabbed my camera and thought about how only a child would be perfectly confident and happy eating a bowl of ice cream with reindeer antlers on.


Hot talent

Wow! I decided to post this, because I love it! I love that he is 10 years old. I love that he has numerous boxes of yo-yo's in his room. I love the look of concentration on his face. Yo-Yo's! This reminds of me my childhood, and how at one time my brothers and sister and I would try to do stuff like this with our yo-yo's. We didn't even come close. But this is just hot, don't you think?
(The song "Stronger" automatically plays with this video. If you don't want to hear it, just click on the sound icon at the bottom of the video screen, and turn it down or off. I watched this video while listening to one of my playlist songs, and I thought it was a better fit. Click on Jeepers Creepers by Frank Sinatra :).


It's not like Archie

My daughter is an artist.
She picked up a crayon as a toddler and has never put it down!! She went through the usual phases of drawing. Starting with pictures of herself, sketching the big circle head, and long stick legs. She always filled in the empty spaces around herself with clouds, sunshine, birds, trees, etc. Her style is fearless, confident and bold with uninhibited strokes that always make for an eye-popping picture.
She went through her "horse phase" of drawing nothing but those powerful,
beautiful creatures. She loves horses, and occasionally she will revert to her earlier subjects. Occasionally.
But right now, in this stage of her 13 year old life, her subject matter has turned to something else. Something that annoyed her parents at first. Something that made me wonder if she was wasting her talents. BUT...she has become VERY good at it, and we are proud o
f her creativity and talent in trying to perfect this style of art. What is it? Manga. Yep, manga.

The picture on the left is an example of some Manga books.
Here is a definition I found online:

Manga are Japanese comic books. Manga is often made into Japanese cartoons, or Anime. The art in Manga has a very definite look to it and is often referred to as “Manga Style.” Recently, Manga has become popular in America. It has been a very successful new medium that has become very popular with young people. Manga, and the Anime that it has inspired, has been seen on T.V., in movies, and has even influenced the art styles of certain American artists like Ed McGuinness, Brian Wood, and Frank Miller.

My kids actually like Archie comics, Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, and the Far Side. Manga is not what I think of when I think "comics", but I guess I need to keep up with the times.

Anyway, here is her latest drawing. She is going to enter it in a contest at her school for the Anime club. Pretty good, don't you think?

It is a picture of the characters from a series called "DN Angel". Dark is the name of the black haired "phantom thief". Satoshi is the bespectacled teen devoted to capturing Dark. Daisuke is the boy with "Wiz" the bunny-like creature on his shoulder. Wiz becomes Dark's wings when he needs them. Okay...sound a little confusing? My older kids love to read Manga, and they know all these stories and characters, and it is a whole other world for them. Just thought I would share some of it with you too.

I'll let you know how her drawing does in the contest. Oh, and she does not trace, or copy pictures, she just familiarizes herself from reading, and knows what they look like, and transfers that to her pictures. I'm proud. Good luck Jo Bugs!


Body and Mind

Last week I played a lot of tennis. I think I played too much tennis. I know...how can I play TOO much tennis, there is really no such thing. But 3 hours on Monday, 2 hours on Tuesday, 4 hours on Thursday, and 3 on Friday really made me exhausted by Friday night. I decided to switch gears. No, I NEEDED to switch gears.

My sister and I had just had a conversation, and she mentioned the movie, The Lake House. Oh yeah, despite my love of Keanu Reeves, I had never seen it, and from what I knew of it thought it was some spooky, heartbreak of a movie. But because all I wanted to do was chill out and rest my tired body, I decided to put in the movie that my mom lent me about 5 months ago, and watch it.

Needless to say, this seemed to start some sort of mental marathon to see how many thought-provoking and love-filled stories I could fit into my weekend. I didn't mean for it to happen, it was just kind of like a snowball effect, and I found myself enjoying the switch from physical stimulation to mental. Just so you know, I'm not a big movie person andI don't like crying. I do love books though, and I always want happy endings.

I started with The Lake House. Loved it. Loved it. Did I say that I loved it? I don't know why. I was so irritated by the end that I cried and clapped and shouted with joy at the final scene. Then watched the dancing scene once more the following morning. I admit it, I really did.

Because of The Lake House, I went on to the lovely writings of Jane Austen. Now I have to admit something, and many of you will shake your heads with shame. I have never read Jane Austen. WHAT? True, cross my heart. I have seen Sense & Sensibility, Emma, and Pride & Prejudice, but...never read J.A. My dear sweet romantic of a sister gave me the complete works of Jane Austen as a gift a few years ago, and I have meant so many times to start, but never did (sorry, Kris). SO...I opened up to page 931 of my book, and read Persuasion.
I have not much to say, but FEEL...well... how about this. The letter from Captain Wentworth?...It rocks.
"I can listen no longer in silence, I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you..."
Oh, but you must read Persuasion to get the rest. I do not fancy myself a romantic, but alas....I melted when I read that letter.

Then as a family we watched October Sky. This movie is from 1999, but worth seeing if you have not. It's a true story about a boy and his friends that live in a small mining town, but aspire to be more... rocket scientists. It's a keeper. AND, the bonus is that watching Jake Gyllenhall as a young boy reminded us so much of our son, we got a kick out of it. The soulful eyes, and full mouth, and his expressions were so similar. He could do worse than being compared to Jake. Anyhoo, a great feel-good movie!

Then, while putting away Jane Austen, I noticed a small book my sister-in-law loaned me about 2 years ago. (I'm so on it, aren't I? TWO YEARS!) The Notebook. Okay, time for another...WHAT? You haven't read OR seen The Notebook? Nope. For some weird reason I cannot explain, I don't always want to love what everyone else is loving. So I don't. Until it is old and past, and I can enjoy it without the hype. I know, I told you...weird. Also, romance with crying scares me, so I will avoid it if I can, and I heard that people cried when reading this book. So, anyhow, I gave in, picked up this little gem of a novel and read.
Well, I cried but I smiled and I thought it very sweet without mush. That was one darn good story about love, and it made me kiss the heck out of my man and vow to appreciate him that much more every day.

I ended this little mental fest with one of my favorite movies. One of our home movies, this one a video from 2003 when my kids looked like this picture you see here. Five years ago. They were all little and cute with sweet voices and loving arms. Trev and I looked at each other a few times with that "this won't last much longer, will it?" look and again I vowed to myself to appreciate.
I didn't want to cry, but almost did. After all the other stimulus this weekend, I was done with crying. I don't like crying, it gives me a headache. And I think by Sunday night, I was mentally done.

So I welcomed Monday morning with dry eyes and a rejuvenated body and spirit. It felt great to hit those fuzzy green balls and think of nothing but the game.
However, I am anxious to read more Austen. I am wondering if the movie version of Notebook is worth watching. I am wanting to watch more Keanu - A Walk in the Clouds maybe - I like that one.
It's easy to become too focused on one thing sometimes. After last week and weekend, I think I'm going to work on mixing it up a little more. More good stuff for body AND mind.
Just hold off on the tear-jerkers for a while though. I can only handle a little of that at a time.