Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cold Cadavers and Process Analysis Papers

My Advanced Placement Language and Composition students finished reading a few  process analysis pieces out of our trusty Bedford Reader.  The upcoming writing assignment is to trace the selection of their top three most desirable universities for post-secondary education.  I feel that the assignment is relevant to them on a personal level and will probably be quite a bit of fun as well.

On the first night, I asked them to select three different areas of study that may interest them as career choices.

On the second night, I asked them to select an area of the country or a demographic that would be appealing to them.

On the third night, I asked them locate and decide upon a few "intangibles" or the aspects of the college or college life that may not be as easy to find in a written report about an institution.

Here is the highlight of our period 8 class conversation:

Alex:  "OK.  I need three things.  These three things are very important to me and I must have them."

Me:  "Well, this sounds interesting.  Go."

Alex:  "One. I have to have a single room.  I don't want to live with anyone else."

Me:  "sounds fair"

Alex:  "Two.  My room has to have air conditioning.  I can't live without air conditioning."

Me:  "Aren't most dorms air conditioned?"

**The class chimed in and we briefly discussed many different student experiences that did not involve air conditioning.** 


Alex:  "The school I go to MUST have a cadaver lab."

Me:  SUPER ENORMOUS GRIN, LAUGHTER, LOOK OF AMAZEMENT

Alex:  "What?"

Annie:  "Ew, I hate naked people."

**Again, intense laughter...**


Me:  "Let me get this straight.  You want a single room, air conditioning and a cadaver lab on campus?"

Alex:  "Yes."

Me:  "Are you a future serial killer?  Or do you just like to keep dead people in your dorm room?"

**Again, intense laughter...**


Ahhhh...the funny things teenagers say.

A True Winter Wedding

Bob's brother got married on Saturday.  Bob was the best man.  Walnut was the ring bearer.  I was the chaser of Peanut.  And, it was in the single digits temperature wise.

I packed snacks, toys, books and pajamas.  It didn't matter in the long run because as soon as Peanut saw that he wasn't at the front of the church with his father and big brother, I knew I was in trouble.  We spent the remainder of the wedding ceremony in an elevator riding it UP and DOWN with my sister-in-law and nephew.  The boys had fun and somehow we convinced them that the elevator was broken.  They sat for a few milliseconds and ran around to expend some toddler energy.  Luckily, the ceremony was only about twenty-five minutes long.  We took some formal family photos and headed off to the reception site.

Overall, the reception allowed us to create great family memories.  We ate, danced, drank, played cars, wondered if people brought paid escorts (inside joke) and laughed.  Here are some photos from the wedding:
Peanut LOVED his bow tie and suit.

Kocanuts and Thomas the Tank Engine

Walnut, Ring Bearer for Hire
2 out of 3 ain't bad

This should have been a Cars themed wedding.

The Steelers Nation


My cousin, Adam, thought that Walnut was imitating Woodley.

If you're from Western Pennsylvania being an avid Steelers fan is a requirement for residency.  We cheered on our Steelers to a victory over the New York Jets for this season's AFC Championship title.

Bring on the CHEESE!!!!

Super Bowl XLV here we come!!!

Adventures in K: He's Half Way There

half of Walnut's first report card
I can't help but hum Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" as I write this post.

It's official.  We are half way through Kindergarten.  Walnut has been in school for over ninety days and we are thrilled with his progress.  He loves school-all aspects.  Last night I overheard him teaching Peanut his colors in Spanish.  It was mucho adorable!  Peanut repeated every single word that his big brother chanted to him.  So far, life as a Kindergartener has been great for our five year old.  He scored all +s in assessed categories.  Perhaps we'll buy a "My Kindergartener is smarter than your politician" bumper sticker for our minivan.

Stay tuned for the next ninety days of Kindergarten fun!

Sorry, Kelly Preston

I am not a celebaholic.  I don't read US Weekly or People.  I follow the top social stories via the New York Times.  That sums up my celebrity stalking...BUT...

As I perused the net the other day, I stumbled upon an article and video clip about Kelly Preston.  Most people, including me, have no idea as to what Scientology actually promotes yet I heard about the concept of the "silent birth" after Katie Holmes delivered Suri Cruise.  I do have a certain amount of respect for John Travolta and Kelly Preston:  they lost their first born child, dealt with criminals trying to commit extortion against them and became parents for a third time in their late 50s and 40s, respectively.

I clicked.  I watched.  I laughed.  SILENT BIRTH?  You have got to be kidding me?

I began reminiscing about the labor and delivery of Walnut and Peanut.

With Walnut, I was in labor for twenty-seven hours.  They were long, frustratingly slow hours of waiting and hoping.  We walked the halls of the hospital for hours.  And, when it was finally time to push--I was exhausted and in pain.  Silent?  hell no.  However, Walnut is a very methodical and analytical child.

With Peanut, we barely made it to the hospital in time to deliver.  It was a fast and furious ALL natural delivery.  no pain medication.  no epidural.  no nothing.  Silent?  hell no.  However, Peanut is highly energetic and very high maintenance.

So, when I heard Kelly Preston speak of her silent birth as the reasoning behind the calm demeanor of her children, I thought, 'Is this really the Scientologist's explanation for the personalities of children?'  Again, I chuckled.

I am not necessarily ridiculing the "religion" of Scientology.  I just can't seem to wrap my brain around the faulty logic that because the delivering mother says no words during the actual birth the result is a calm and happy baby.  Do you remember the actual experience of birth?  I can't remember anything before the age of three.  So, what does that say about my personality? hmmmm...I will have to conference with L. Ron Hubbard for the answers to my questions.

Sorry, Kelly Preston, I don't buy what you're selling.  You can keep believing that your silent birth constitutes the behavior of your children and I will keep on laughing.

No Boots, No Bibs, No Problems


Side Note:  My Uncle David and I traded a car for a piano.  Bob got a new company car and my first thoughts were to give our old car to my cousins so that they could use it.  To our benefit, my Uncle David had a piano in great condition that he wanted to remove from his foyer.  Let's make a deal?  Yep.  I want the boys to learn how to play the piano.  In fact, Walnut will take piano lessons this summer.  

My uncle came to retrieve the car on one of the coldest days in January.  The snowfall was pretty significant, at least in our little world, and the boys desperately yearned to sled ride or to make a snowman or to shovel the driveway.  Problem?  Yes.  I completely forgot to buy winter boots and snow bibs for Walnut and Peanut.  Rest assured, they did have brand new winter coats, gloves/mittens, hats and scarves.  But, being mother of the year isn't easy.  

So, my children wore tennis shoes as they made a break for the fluffy white stuff after we went to the notary public to switch over the car title with my uncle.  And, I just let them go.  Their contagious laughter filled up our neighborhood.  They took turns sledding down our front hill onto the asphalt after the "jump" from shoveling.  Don't worry.  We caught them coming down.  I didn't have any bread bags to put on their feet inside of their shoes either.  Again, I am not gaining any votes for mother of the year on this issue.

Next day:  Snow bibs and boots for Walnut purchased.  Peanut's winter boots found in a box of hand-me-downs from his big brother.  Sled riding and hot chocolate were an integral part of our day.  Another Winter 2011 memory has been made.

Let There Be Peace...In Our House

I was born in the early 70s.  My twin sisters were born in the late 80s.  There is a thirteen year age gap between my sisters and me.  So, as an only child for almost fourteen years I have never known or understood the constant bickering, wrestling, name calling and fighting of siblings.  Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge in the arguing department proves to be detrimental in dealing with two young boys, their toys, their emotions, their drama.

For the most part, until very recently, Walnut and Peanut play VERY well together.  Walnut protects and watches over his little brother on a daily basis.  However, Peanut's taste in toys somehow transformed overnight; he transitioned into the world of BIG boy toys.  AND, Peanut does not want to share.  He started with, "MINEEEEE" a few weeks ago.  The sound of Peanut's screaming rips through our house like nails down a chalkboard.  His high pitched banshee-like scream provides Bob and I with an instant source of irritation.  Normally, he reaches for Walnut's toys and begins his screaming session. You can figure out the rest I'm sure, especially if you have more than one child.

Even though the disagreements are unnerving and exasperating, they are not horrible in the sense that we can't handle them.  Yet, I am not accustomed to the incessant sound of crocodile tears coupled with either low moaning "moMMMMMMMs" or high squealed "MINEEEEEs" on the hour.

Resolution:  Walnut decided to move on to bigger and better things, too.  We'll have a bit of peace in our house for the next few weeks.  But, when Peanut decides that he's over Lightning McQueen and co....we're in TROUBLE.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Paper Is the Root of the Problem

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."  ~Confucius

Indecision has gotten the best of me on more than one occasion.  With mail and homework and permission slips and catalogs and magazines and newspapers and articles and manuals and coupons and a myriad of other papers I can't make a decision to save.my.life.  I want to dispose of papers properly as soon as I get them BUT that is sometimes difficult.  I have internal monologue each and every day, 'Should I keep this? Will I need this?' remains a daily struggle in my own mind.  The problem became monumental at the beginning of Walnut's educational career.  We have papers on the kitchen island, on top of the charging station in the mudroom area, on the dining room table, on the desk in the home office, on Walnut's desk, on the table in the playroom, etc.  You get the picture, right?


Why do we have so much paper?  The answer is---I don't really know.  But, each and every day we are faced with at least twenty sheets of something.  We are a relatively "green" family.  I get many of my periodicals online. We do online bill paying and such.  We use online calendars and documents for important issues.  Hell, the kids even play games online.  Yet, we always seem to have an overabundance of tree products in our house.  


So, this weekend while my in-laws were visiting I took the opportunity to "talk and pitch".  I spent time talking to my in-laws while I was cleaning up the paper mounds.  It was a cleansing experience and it was nice to see the top of the kitchen island without a shred of paper on it.  We bought a paper recycling bin for the downstairs mudroom area so that when papers come in to the house they are there for a significant purpose.  We have made a wall solely devoted to organization for each of the household members.  We're fighting our paper infiltration fully armed!  Wish us luck!


Shhhh...Don't Tell Me

People tell me superficial crap all of the time.  I teach over 150 teenagers and work with over 100 colleagues.  I hear daily pleasantries multiple times a day.  With that,  I always thought that my mother was a terrible listener.  She never looked at me when I talked to her.  Sometimes, she never even picked up her head from what she was reading.  Truth is I was wrong.  She always heard every word I was saying to her but she was always busy doing something else.  I acquire more selective listening/hearing capabilities daily.  Bob can talk to me while I am helping Walnut with homework, holding Peanut and making dinner and I will still hear every word that he says.  He'll say, "You're not listening."  I proceed to repeat back, verbatim, our entire conversation.  How do I do that?  You may have that skill, too.  But here's my problem:  I get pissed when people don't tell me IMPORTANT things.

My sisters recently moved to New York City and Los Angeles, within days of each other.  During one of our phone conversations, my sister informed me that my father has some health issues that I deem rather serious.  Of course, my immediate reaction was, "When did you find out about this?"  The dialogue continued and here's what ran through my mind:  'Remember when Dad had surgery on his knee right before my sorority parents' weekend and never mentioned it until they arrived at school?  And what about the time that he went to the ER and I found out weeks later.'  WHY?  WHY do people not tell me IMPORTANT things?

The more that I look at my father, the more I see my grandmother.  The family would not have known that she had advanced breast cancer had she not had a brain aneurysm!  Unnerved after my conversation with my sister I went to talk to Bob.  While explaining the situation I thought it might be a good idea to call my mother-in-law to touch base.  Bob and I continued our conversation about my father and his health conditions, the facade of secrecy and my irritation with the omission of IMPORTANT issues or circumstances.

I called my mother-in-law and towards the end of the conversation she mentioned that Bob's only paternal uncle had a stroke and was in the Intensive Care Unit.  'Hello?'


Perplexed.  In a nutshell, that's how I feel on so many different levels.  Discussing the weather or the Steelers or the Penguins or work remains safe and relatively easy topics.  However, what about the IMPORTANT stuff?  I get the "we don't want you to worry" attitude BUT why can't we make that DECISION?

Gingerbread in January



Because we were sick in December, we decided to construct gingerbread houses in January.  Believe it or not, I have never actually made a gingerbread house until today.  Truthfully, even today I didn't actually make it.  Over the course of the last few years, I purchased a few kits but we "never got around to it" during the holidays.  Into the trash they went until this year.  And, although the value of the gingerbread house to many people's memories is at the top of the list, we never made it a high priority.

I asked Walnut this morning, "Do you want to go to the Science Center today?"

"YES!"

"Or do you want to make a gingerbread house?"

"GINGERBREAD HOUSE!"

'Really?'  I couldn't believe it.

Fortunately, Walnut and Peanut did the best that they could do with the mother that they have.  They joyfully decorated using icing and gumdrops and little balls of candy and coconut and candy canes and gelatinous little Santas and snowmen.  One of the roof tops shattered on the floor.  But, they had so much fun.  Even little Peanut at only 2.5 years had a blast.  They worked together to color coordinate and alternate building materials.  They laughed.  They beamed with pride as they placed the finishing touches on their masterpiece.

And it fell apart!  I mean completely fell apart.  I tried desperately to get the walls to stand horizontally.  I failed BUT they had so.much.fun.

I won't be putting the gingerbread houses on our high priority list for the month of December this year.  However, we'll give it another try next January.  I love lessons in mediocrity.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lenny and the Carnegie Science Center Must Like Us

with Lenny @ the CSC
We love the Carnegie Science Center.  We (using this pronoun loosely here) love trains, especially Lionel Trains.  CSC + Lionel Train Days = Required Kocanuts Event.  We spent hours at the Science Center and with the beloved trains, too.  By the end of the day I was exhausted BUT so were the boys.  The Science Center NEVER disappoints.

Interesting Fact:  Moments before we were ready to leave after long day of playing, I noticed that the Science Center was sponsoring a Lionel Train giveaway.  They conducted a scavenger hunt throughout the building and the prize was a Polar Express G-gauge train set.  I thought to myself, 'We need another train like we need a hole in our heads.'  However, we quickly ran through and completed an entry form each for Walnut and Peanut.  The entry form box was jammed with paper.  I never thought that we had a chance BUT...WE WON!  And, so, Santa brought the Polar Express for the boys.  Peanut loves the train because he can operate it via the remote control.  A big Christmas thanks to the Carnegie Science Center for making the Kocanuts holiday a little brighter!





Thursday, January 13, 2011

Santa and the Slovaks

When I was a little girl people in my hometown belonged to such organizations as the Polish Falcons and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.  My grandfather, great uncles, uncles and father all belonged to the F. O. E. or affectionately referred to as the Eagles.  And, each year the Eagles had a really exciting Christmas party for the children of the members; I still remember them fondly. 

My parents belong to an organization dedicated to the Slovak culture.  They really wanted the boys to attend and to visit with Santa and receive a special treat from the Claus.  We were happy to oblige and were thankful for the invitation.  Both boys liked playing with other the kids, singing Christmas carols via the karaoke machine, eating a kid friendly lunch and, of course, unwrapping their very cool gifts.  It really did remind me of my childhood days celebrating with the Eagles.


These organizations are dying off in this country and that makes me somewhat sad.  Although I have no real solution nor do I want to be an agent of change as an integral part of the direction of these groups, it does force me to consider how much our culture has morphed in just my three decades of life.  Needless to say, we cherish our day with the Slovaks. 


Christmas With the Kocanuts

This room is always so peaceful on Christmas Eve.  
Our normal bout with an inopportune Christmastime illness hit the house exactly one week before the holiday.  Poor Peanut came down with the stomach bug and the, like clockwork, I got it the week of Christmas.  The bug must have been lonely because if visited, even if briefly, everyone in the house.  I looked back at my calendars for the past five years and we have been stricken with "it" for the last FIVE years!  We declared December 25, 2010 a stay at home holiday as we didn't want any of our loved ones to get the gift of nausea and fever, etc.  Nevertheless, it was a wonderful Christmas.

2:30 a.m.:  Walnut came into our bedroom. 
"Mom, what time can we get up to see if Santa came?"
"It's 2:30."
"So, can we get up?"
"No.  We can get up when the clock says six, ohw, ohw."
"Can I just stay in here with you?"
"Yes."

Bob was now in Peanut's room because he was awakened by the conversation between Walnut and me.  I could see Walnut out of the corner of my eye looking out the window, searching for Santa.  Surely it will be one of my fondest memories of Christmas.  His innocence warmed my heart and, if I would have been even slightly awake, could have made me cry.

2:38 a.m.:  Walnut begins to question me again.
"Can we get up now, MOM?"
"We can't get up until it is six o'clock."
"Why?"
"Because Santa needs to finish his job and we definitely need to get some sleep."

Again, I could see him looking out of the window.  These pockets of dialogue continued for the next few hours.  Until, FINALLY, it was six.

We got up, went downstairs and began our rituals:  Walnut opened a gift and then Peanut opened a gift.  This continued for an hour with their largest gifts being the last one to be opened by each of them.  Bob unwrapped his presents and then me.  Stockings are always last in our house.  The boys were so very excited with all of their gifts and special treats from Mom and Dad and especially Santa Claus.
brotherly and Christmas hugs

soccer

train addict


We certainly enjoyed our low key day.  And, although we missed our family, I will always treasure the day  we stayed in our jammies and celebrated Christmas.  The boys and I made a Happy Birthday, Jesus birthday cake and all four of us sang to Jesus near our Nativity.
I did the best I could do with what we had.   
cake for the Savior
We ended up visiting family on December 26th as we were feeling much better.  Our stay at home Christmas seemed have given a new life to the Twelve Days of Christmas.  We did our visiting and eating and laughing and remembering over a period of several days.  The Christmas season lasted longer than one day this year and we truly loved every minute of it.
take 6 or 7 with GrandJay, Granny B and Aunt Carly
@ Nanny & Pap's
cousins









Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm So @ Home @ Phipps

Bob and I love, Love, LOVE Phipps Conservatory.  We've been members for several years and our boys really enjoy their time when we visit.  Sometimes I wonder if Walnut and Peanut feel a little too comfortable amid the visitors and the flowers.  And, how could this family go wrong when we can see trains and flowers?  Bob and I usually take the boys on New Year's Day evening because the entire building is lowly lit and the ambiance exudes peace and serenity. 
Peanut was totally over the camera.




love.hydrangeas.

This arrangement is GORGEOUS.

Why is he smiling?  He's operating the Garden Railroad...

so handsome

Pap & Trolley Conductor

In October we surprised Pap Kocanuts with a befitting birthday gift.  He loves trains and often tags along with us when we go to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum for a ride or stroll down memory lane.  Two years ago, I surprised Bob with a birthday gift of being "Operator for an Hour" at the museum.  My father-in-law was a little jealous.  So when his big day rolled around, we decided to gift the same session to him from Walnut and Peanut.  He was super excited and thoroughly enjoyed being the man in charge of the trolley.
 

Christmas Photos

We literally had these taken on Christmas Eve morning.  We had been sick and we weren't sure how we would feel.  There are a few that make me laugh.  Enjoy!


He's eating Pez.  

HMP: PEENUT


We started potty training this week.  We decided to go straight to underwear because the training pants of today are ultra absorbent.

On day one, Peanut had two accidents but would not relinquish the pee to his throne.  Bob and I didn't fret.  We figured that he would go eventually and all would be good in the world.  On day two of potty training, Peanut had NO accidents in his underpants.  However, Peanut is precocious.  He recognized that at nap time he would wear a diaper.  He held out and went in the diaper.  On day three of potty training (today), Peanut had one accident, went in the diaper at nap time and wore underpants after nap. 

After dinner tonight I put Peanut on the potty.  I wasn't expecting much but was surprised after  Peanut's potty chair's sensor unleashed a musical extravaganza.  Much to my excitement I heard the song, "You Did It!"  The Peanut PEED!

We are ecstatic!!!

We're almost out of diapers, right?

Stay tuned.

Foiled by Blokus



In September, Walnut's teacher told me that he LOVES the game Blokus.  She explained that he plays with it every day during free play time.  I registered this in the back of my mind and decided the board game would be one of Walnut's Christmas gifts.  During one of my shopping excursions I spotted the coveted game, purchased it, took it home and I "thought" I strategically hid it in the laundry room.  Christmas wrapping had not begun at that point.

About two weeks before Christmas, Walnut was in the playroom, near the laundry room, assembling race car tracks.  We keep extra track in a box near the washer and dryer.  As I tended to dirty clothes, Walnut approached me to retrieve his track.

And, then it happened...he saw the Blokus box through the thin white plastic bag.

"Why do you have Blokus in here?'

"We are going to donate it to Toys For Tots."

"Why?  I like Blokus."

"I know that you like Blokus, buddy, but don't you want the under privileged kids to have toys for Christmas?"

"No."

My heart sank.  Sadly, I addressed him in a somber voice, "Many kids in the world do not have the things that you have.  Are you being selfish?"

"NO"  he said sternly.

"We are giving Blokus to Toys For Tots."

"That's not fair.  I like Blokus."

"I know.  I bet if Santa Claus sees that you're donating Blokus to children who need presents for Christmas he'll bring you a Blokus, too."

silence


I could tell that he was pondering the outcome of the situation; weighing the pros and cons in true Walnut analytical style.

"OK.  Mom, I want to help people but I really like Blokus."

"You're a good boy.  We all know that you're a good boy.  And, Santa Claus knows that you're a good boy."

"Thanks.  When will we take it to donate?"

Life Lesson:  Teaching children to be kind, generous and charitable helps me to have faith in our future.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Adventures in K: First Choral Concert

Walnut is the Santa in the plaid shirt right in the middle of the action.
The night before Walnut's Christmas Concert, I felt like the worst mother EVER.  I had NO idea that he was even participating in the event nor was I aware that it was an EVENT.  He asked  me the night before the concert, "You're coming to my Christmas Concert tomorrow, right?"  After a few investigative phone calls, I found out that the Christmas Concert at his school truly IS a BIG deal.  Thankfully Bob and and I both attended.  The Kindergarteners sang "Mary Had a Baby" and "Jingle Bells" together.  For the finale, the entire school sang "Our God Is An Awesome God."  The entire performance warmed my heart, made me laugh and provided holiday spirit for all involved.  Walnut beamed with pride--as did his parents.
 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

HMP: Opening Day of Potty Training

Look at that little butt!

We potty trained Walnut over the Christmas break of '07.  It took two days.  We ask Peanut every single day, "Do you want to go on the potty?"  He vehemently responds, "NOOOoooo."  And so, we backed off.  I didn't even consider training him over break because he had the stomach flu twice and an ear infection.  We wanted our healthy boy back before we upset his proverbial toddler apple cart.

Today while I was picking Peanut up from daycare I asked J, the owner of the daycare, if she thought Peanut was ready to be potty trained.  Her immediate and emphatic response was, "Yes!  He's been ready.  He's too smart for his own good."

I began my barrage of questions.  And, much to my dismay I learned that Peanut's precocious personality has allowed him to sucker his parents into believing that he's not ready to give up the diapers.  J proceeded to tell me that Peanut informs the staff, and the ladies confirmed her explanation,  when he needs changed as well as when he goes to the bathroom.  Needless to say, the little guy NEVER does this at home. 

When we arrived home at 3:45 p.m.,  I immediately allowed him to select his under pants for the remainder of the evening.  He, of course, picked Thomas and ran around for the next four hours in nothing but his underwear and a sweatshirt.  He sat on the potty several times and placed smiley faced stickers on his Thomas the Tank Engine Potty Training sticker chart.  I am grateful that that the potty training process seems to be going well so far.

We had a slight accident right before bathtime but we were very pleased with his determination to stay dry.  Fortunately he did not like being wet.  We're going to use that to our advantage.  Tomorrow is another day and J will be equipped with many changes of clothes as well as clean pairs of underwear.  Wish us luck!  We'd like to have him potty trained by the time he's ready for Kindergarten.

Peanut's throne

Just Friends

Normally when we entertain for different holidays we only invite family.  There have been rare occasions when we've included "outsiders", such a negative connotation, to our festivities.  However, there have been several issues/instances in 2010 that focused my energy and thinking towards friends. 'How are we, Bob and I, modeling sustaining relationships with friends for Walnut and Peanut?'  For the most part, Bob and I are pretty guarded people. We let very few in--keeping most out.  Perhaps that marks the lot of this first-born couple.  All in all, I think that I am personable to acquaintances.  I have never been one to have many friends; this rings true for Bob as well.  He has been in a communicative business since he graduated from college.  He talks to customers and clients, reps and employees on a daily basis.  I speak to over 100 students a day for ten months out of the year.  However, we live a world of semi-seclusion; a comfort zone.

Two of my friends, some of my friends' parents and one of our neighbors passed away this year.  I struggled emotionally.  My friends struggled.  My neighbors struggled.  What I have realized is this:  I am getting older and that age when the chapter pages of life turn is quickly approaching.  So, Bob and I made a decision to have a Christmas Open House where we would only invite friends.  We invited people from work, neighbors, childhood and teenage friends and some newer recruits to the world of friendship as well.

We had cookies, cocktails and appetizers.  It was great--truly.  The kids played together wonderfully the entire night.  People from different walks of life engaged in conversation.  We laughed about silly things, pondered perplexing issues and enjoyed each other's company.  Our Open House taught me so very much about myself and what I treasure in this life.

Life is short.

Who is up for a pot luck dinner in January?

A Letter From an Imperfect Mother

Dear Walnut and Peanut,  (to be read many, many years from now)

Please forgive me for I am an imperfect mother.  As I was wrapping your gifts for Christmas, I realized that we didn't buy you enough "stuff" this Christmas.  You only got three DVDs a piece.  You won't be unwrapping any sort of electronic gadgets this year nor will you receive any sort of  battery powered mini vehicle.  Your stockings will not contain ear buds or pounds of candy or gift cards.  However, I can tell you for certain that you will love each and every gift that you open on Christmas morning because Mommy and Daddy selected the gifts for each of you based on your interests, your personalities and what you mean to your mother and father.  Opening gifts will not take us hours, but we will enjoy every minute of Christmas Morning 2010.

Here are a few of the things that we want you to remember about the Christmas 2010 Season:

  • singing Christmas carols together
  • reading books about Jesus and Advent and Santa Claus
  • reciting our prayers while lighting the Advent wreath
  • snuggling near the fire and watching Polar Express
  • decorating our family Christmas trees
  • decorating your own Christmas trees
  • seeing Santa Claus at the Santa Trolley
  • visiting the trains
  • making cookies and treats
  • tearing links off of the Advent chain
  • changing the Advent calendar
  • celebrating St. Nicholas Day
  • wearing snuggly Christmas pajamas and drinking hot cocoa
  • making Jesus a birthday cake and cracking the eggs
  • singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus
  • your school holiday parties
  • our Open House for friends
  • ice skating
  • going to see a hockey game
  • setting up our train display
  • writing our lists for Santa Claus
  • sprinkling magic reindeer food
  • setting out cookies and milk for Santa Claus
  • taking Christmas photos
  • Christmas shopping
  • making Christmas shirts
  • making art projects
  • sleeping in 
  • special breakfasts
  • spending time with family
  • going to Phipps
  • visiting family
  • playing with your new toys
  • watching the Christmas classics
  • seeing the first snow of the year
So, when you look back on your childhood know that Mommy and Daddy didn't buy enough "stuff".  We instead showered you with meaningful memories, love and cherished little moments.  Merry Christmas!

I Love You, 
Mommy

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