12 Days of Christmas – Sweet Memories

We took down our Christmas tree today.  I didn’t realize until today that it lasted all 12 days of Christmas.

Our real Fraser Fir was nick named Mr. FFR (fluffy, Fraser) by my kids, and yes, we name our trees.  It’s a thing…maybe just our thing? Anyway, Mr. FFR really lasted a long time.  Sure the needles were falling, but he really looked full and beautiful adorned with lights and ornaments until the very end.

Just look:

mr ffr 2018

Our tree in 2018

Every Christmas Tree Tells a Story

I couldn’t help but feel a little sentimental taking down the tree with so many stories behind the decorations on our tree year after year.  Our grandparents and parents gave us so many beautiful ornaments from little on, and some of them have become our daughter’s favorites. My dad handmade wooden sled ornaments years ago.  My mom made both the angel that tops our tree and the tree skirt at the bottom.

cat-by-christmas-tree

Big Sumo Kitty loves sitting on the tree skirt my mom made.

Ornaments remind me of places we’ve lived or traveled – two more recent ones from the Grand Canyon and South Dakota.

There’s ornaments from Germany and Austria to remember my high school foreign exchange program and my semester abroad in Vienna. There’s a hang gliding Santa that my best friend gave me because I went paragliding in Switzerland.

One plastic orb holds freeze dried flowers from my wedding bouquet.

Another high heel ornament reminds me of our favorite girls’ nights with my sister, cousin and aunt.

Each one of us have ornaments from the year we were born – mine and Daddy O’s looking a little more well-loved than our kids’ numerous baby ornaments.

This tree is our life as a family.  It’s adorned with a whole lot of love through many years.

And then there’s  the ornaments and gifts that our kids have made.  Each year more ornament crafts make their way from backpacks and onto our tree.  Today, I have to confess, that some of the ones in bad shape (sticker, foam type) went in the garbage! Many, however, are part of our annual holiday decor.

christmas crafts from kids go mama o

Most recent craft – top left: hand print trees, reindeer painting (2018, Little Brother), reindeer flower pot (2017 Big Sister), hand print tree (Little Brother), ribbon tree (2017 Big Sister).

While most of these projects were made at school, I remember Big Sister making the reindeer flower pot craft in our basement inside of a patio furniture box that transformed into a “workshop / fort” for our her.  She had glue, paint, pipe cleaners and the flower pots all assembled in her work station down there.  In the end, she gave me, Daddy O. and her brother each a reindeer flower pot.  They turned out adorable, and we were proud of her for putting so much effort into these gifts.

The hand prints are getting bigger through the years, and I can’t help but wonder when they’ll stop doing these hand print crafts.  At seven and nine, my kiddos are growing up for sure, but still firmly believe in the magic of Christmas.  Big Sister wrote a letter to Santa for our elf Fred to deliver to him. Elf on the Shelf proved to be an amazing way to motivate the kids to get out of bed in the month of December. It was really fun and very sweet.

Here was a new event that Big Sister created at grandma and grandpa’s house this year:

jingle bell sing along

Big Sister’s first concert for family

What will next year hold for our family? How much longer will these sweet traditions last?  I can’t predict for sure.

And while some traditions fade away (and I may will be a little sad), I hope we’ll find a way to make new family traditions. Until that day comes, I’m just going to soak up and savor all of the sweetness and joy that this parenting gig can hold.

This is what I found on the back of Little Brother’s hand print craft:

thank you for being my mama

A sweet note just for me

 

 

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Fly on the Wall: C’est la Vie

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 5 bloggers are inviting you to catch a Fly on the Wall Postglimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from in my house:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 9
  • Little Brother, age 7

Since I have been writing these blog posts since 2014, I have my own Fly Post Page.  Check it out if you want to hear more craziness from my house.

Mixed up Lyrics

One night at dinner, my kids were changing the words to “I like to Move it, Move it” song.

Mom, your song should be, “I like to talk it, talk it. I like to talk it, talk it.  I like to …. talk it!”

Dad, your song should be, “I like to snooze it, snooze it. I like to snooze it, snooze it. I like to … snooze it!”

Big sister’s is, “I like to read it, read it. I like to read it, read it. I like to … read it!”

Little brother’s is simply the song, being an active little boy that he is!

Little Brother’s Funny Sayings

Mom, can you do a rainbow load of laundry?

This sounded so sweet. I wash a lot of the bright colors together, but never thought of it as a rainbow load.  It almost makes doing laundry sound like fun…almost.

Mom: Hey, can you help me make breakfast?

Little Brother: No, I’m in Legoland.

in Lego land

Busy building away

Little Brother refers to his comforter on his bed as a confronter.

A few weeks ago I bought a chewable vitamin.  They were an unwelcome change from the gummy vitamins they replaced.

Kids' Multivitamin Bottle

The horror – chewable vitamins.

Little brother’s reaction: I have to eat 150 of them.

And later –

“The world is against me.”

Wow…just wow.

Serious Readers

My kids really enjoy reading.  Sometimes bookmarks can’t be found.  As in this case:

quality reading material

Sometimes you just use a tissue for a bookmark

This is an example of the quality material they read.

These Kids

During dinner Big Sister said, “C’est la Vie.”

Little Brother responded: La Vie

Yes…it does sound like, “Say la vie.”

Big, Big Sister

My little girl turned 9 this month. Daddy O. recently commented to me that our daughter is now halfway to 18.

YIKES!!

When I think about it that way, this parenting gig is going by way too fast!

Here’s a picture of her at her friend birthday party (they made unicorn crafts at Michael’s Craft Store).

Big Sister Unicorn

Big sister and her unicorn sleeping mask

She even wears more grown-up clothing.  I want to borrow these boots of hers.

boots

Are these girls boots available in my size?

Me and Daddy O.

One woman from church said to me, “My friend and I saw you and your family in church, and we think you look like teenagers.”

Hmm…well, we are well past that phase.  Daddy O. is almost 40.

Here’s a recent picture of our youthful selves.

Mama O and Daddy O Sept 2018

Now go check out these other Fly on the Wall Posts:

Baking in a Tornado

Menopausal Mother 

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Spatulas on Parade

 

Fly on the Wall: ___ There it is!

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 6 bloggers are inviting you to catch a Fly on the Wall Postglimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado 

Menopausal Mother

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Spatulas on Parade

My Brand of Crazy  

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from in my house:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 8
  • Little Brother, age 6

Since I have been writing these blog posts since 2014, I have my own Fly Post Page.  Check it out if you want to hear more craziness from my house.

Happy Dad

Mama O. to Daddy O. on a Friday afternoon: Have you been drinking?

Daddy O.: No, why?

Mama O.: You just seem extra funny.  I guess you’re happier on half days of work.  (His company has summer hours, so he works 9 hour days and enjoys a half day most Fridays.  It has been really nice – we’ve all been happier on Fridays!)

Our Kids

We had some extra quiet time around the house as our kids went with their grandparents for a mini-vacation this summer.  During that time, Daddy O. remarked, “I guess we can’t get rid of all of our children” (referring to our fur baby, Sumo Kitty sat at the breakfast table with us).

Sumo Kitty

Sumo Kitty – this is her typical annoyed expression

We were talking about face recognition capabilities.  For my laptop, I explained that the camera scans for my face and then logs me in.  Little Brother said, “Since Big Sister is a miniature version of Mom, I bet she could login to your computer.”

We tried it, and it didn’t work….yet.

Here is a picture of us together.

Mama O and Big Sister in the North Woods

Mama O. and her mini-me.

This summer we’ve been watching baking shows.  Nailed It was definitely a favorite in our house.  I think that’s why our kids are getting more adventurous.  Case in point: Big Sister added bacon to her cereal.  Who wouldn’t want bacon flavored Cheerios?

Bacon cereal

Anything is better with Bacon!

Historic Action Figures

Daddy O.: What are these?

Mama O.: They are Play Mobil figures my parents gave to the kids from their trip to Germany.

Duerer and Martin Luther

Playmobil figures from Germany. The writing in the book is in German, translates to Book of the Old Testament. The New Testament translated by Doctor Martin Luther.

Big Sister: My guy looks nothing like Martin Luther King Jr.

Mama O.: No, it’s Martin Luther, a famous German who translated the Bible from Latin (just keeping it high level).

Daddy O.: Who’s the other guy?

Mama O.:  I think it’s Albrecht Duerer, a German painter.

Daddy O.: What?! I didn’t know they made historic, German action figures?

Mama O.: Pretty awesome, right?! LOL

My German major and one German Art of the Middle Ages class IS being put to good use.

Tip for the Outdoors

While camping and hiking, we remind kids of the saying for poison ivy, “Leaves of three, let it be.” The kid’s aunt chimed in, “Leaves of four, eat some more!”

Remembering Past Summers

Last summer we took an amazing family vacation to South Dakota.  My scrapbooking hobby always runs behind, so I have been putting together some pages from last year.  Since he saw some pictures from our trip, Little Brother asked me, “How long did we drive to South Dakota?”

I responded, “About 7 hours was the longest we were in the car.”  And then he said, “That was painful.”

This is more of the summer grumpiness we experience with Little Brother every year.  Last year, he said, “Adults almost always ruin my mood – especially you Mom.”  I’m not going to lie, I can’t wait for back to school time!!

Lyrics from Another Time

Does anyone remember the song “Whoomp, there is is!”?

Our kids heard it and immediately thought that they were saying, “Poop, there it is!”  Sigh…you have to love potty humor.

It’s no surprise that this is what Little Brother painted when we took some time to paint at our local pottery shop.

Summer painted creations

Poop Emoji bank (Little Brother), Pony (Big Sister), and Soap Dish (Mama O.)

Okay, that’s all for me and my crazy crew.  Now be sure to check out those other fun Fly on the Wall blog posts!

 

Summer Trip to the North Woods

Hi!! I recently saw my blog’s renewal come through, and I realized it’s been forever since I’ve written (so says bloggers everywhere at some point during their blogging life).

I decided to share some beautiful photos and a few highlights from our camping trip in Wisconsin’s pristine north woods.  We ventured to Northern Highland – American Legion State Forest – the largest state forest in Wisconsin, spanning three counties and over 200,000 acres.  Our campsite was near Crystal Lake, north of Minocqua and Woodruff.

Just look at these huge trees around the site.

tall trees Northern Highland American Legion forest

My crew looked very happy before leaving on our hike. You can just see the hammock and our tent in the background.  We had to walk a bit from our car to access our campsite.

Happy hikers Go Mama O

Here’s a view of from our hike around Fallison Lake.  Simply Gorgeous.  Needless to say after 2.5 miles, my crew was not as eager to finish hiking.  Fortunately, we hiked with a bigger group of extended family, so the kids kept each other going, while the adults spaced out to accommodate different speeds.

Fallison Lake

View from the trail around Fallison Lake

After our hike, the kids enjoyed swimming in Crystal Lake, a small, peaceful lake without the noise of boat motors whirring across it.  Daddy O. and I borrowed kayaks from a family member and had fun paddling around.

In St. Germain, a short jaunt from our campsite, we spent time with a big group of family, enjoying numerous pot luck dinners and time to catch up.  On our way back from one such gathering, Daddy O. and the kids fished on a small pier.  We were the only people on the lake!

Fishing near St. Germain

Sunset view on a small lake near St. Germain

I read my book and took in the solitude of the evening.  We all watched a few mama ducks cross the lake with their babies in a long line behind them.  One baby duck let out loud squawks, upon being left behind, so mama duck and her babies circled back to rescue the lost baby.  The duck siblings seemed to celebrate his or her return to the line-up – a sweet scene. Fishing wise, there wasn’t much luck: only Big Sister caught one small fish.

We ended up spending some time in the city of Minocqua, eating at Minocqua Brewing Company and Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty.  The shanty was kitschy with red and white checked table cloths, up-north cabin decor, and all-you-can-eat family, style, hearty breakfast food.

Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty

Giant Paul Bunyan outside of the cook shanty.  You can’t miss it! 

One morning we grabbed some coffee at a place in Woodruff.  We sat outside on their back patio, savoring the view.

View from coffee shop northwoods

Another lake in the North Woods

All in all the camping trip and family reunion up in the north woods was a huge hit. While tent-camping for three nights IS a lot of prep and work, our family really has a lot of quality time together on these kinds of trips.  As our kids grow older, it may be more difficult to get away between sports and activities, which makes this time together even more special – just look at me and my sweet girl!

Mama O and Big Sister in the North Woods

Mama O. and Big Sister in the north woods

Cheers to summer, family-time and exploring together!