Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I just noticed it has been since late February that I last wrote.
Sorry, I know that you must be dying for some new pictures of the kids and an update on our lives.
We are in our new home (read more below). I really got to get some pictures of it for ya. I will try and work on that.
I am actually writing from the parking lot of Jefferson point, a large shopping area in Fort Wayne. It is zoo week for my children. They start looking forward to it from the day we get up early to register them in early February. For 5 days we get on the road at 7:30 am and do not return till 4pm. It is worth every minute though, they learn so much and talk about it for weeks afterwards.
It is a bit of a drive for me so I stay in the city for the day. One can only do so much shopping so now I have taken to making my van into a very comfy haven and read and take naps and find free WI-FI for the lap top, oh and I always park close to the restrooms (very important when one drinks so much sweet tea!!!).
Enjoy reading, hopefully I will not take as long to write again. I finally put all the photo's on my lap top.
In our new home, I have a counter space right off the kitchen that is so handy for my laptop to sit on. I keep facebook on most of the day now, and glance at it now and again!!!
Did I mention I am loving the new home!!! I hate to leave it most days, becoming like a hermit, just ask my friends!!! The front porch is my favorites in the morning, and Jack's TV altar is where you will find me in the evenings just knitting away!!! The school room is fabulous right off the kitchen and laundry area, I can teach and get a few things done.
OH and the master bedroom, so spacious and with three windows the cross breezes are amazing. So is the walk in closet.
Yep I feel extremely blessed!!!!
Read on and enjoy!!!
Our latest Project
We finally moved into our Reno. home in early April. We moved the weekend of the anniversary of mom's passing, I thought it was fitting considering her generous gift to our family enabled us to take on and succeed at the project.
There are still very little minor, things to be finished up in each room, but that I think is pretty normal and we will get to those when the weather turns.
For now we are attacking the back yard. At first we were going to leave it unfenced until we finished renovating our old home, but within days of living at the new place we discovered that there are a lot of BIG stray dogs in the area, did I mention they are really BIG. And so to keep them out of our yard and to proctect us from them, we decided to build the fence now.
We also want to enlarge the back deck and give it a covering from the sun, since we took out the tree due to it being too close to the house, it is a shade free yard, and too hot to hang out in, a covered deck will help matters greatly.
As I write I assume Jack is hard at work on it (It is zoo camp week, so I am up in Fort Wayne for the day waiting on the kids, otherwise I would be helping in some way).

t Courtney reminds me a lot of me at my age. She would much rather be outside helping her daddy with a project then doing inside chores (future son-in-laws, please note your home will not be spotless, but your Honey do list will recieve much help from her). She insisted on helping us dig up the wood chips from the stump, and then leveling the rocks for the alley parking spots.
Ah brings back memories, of wood chopping and stacking, and concrete stirring with my own daddy. He may have not been a perfect dad (is there really such a thing) but he did include me in his projects and I can still see him smiling as I insisted I was strong enough to lift large sacks of chicken feed and to his amazement and delight, I did all the way to the the chicken Coop. Yep some girls get cute knick names from their dad's like "peanut" mine was "little miss independant one", more like an indian name really than a nickname, but he always smiled as he said it.

The Birthday Party
First let me appologize that the pictures are backwards, I am kind of rusty at blogging, too many months off!!!!
Any ways, this year Courtney and Aiden both wanted a pool party. Due to the expense of it we told them we would do it if they were willing to have a shared party. They agreed with less than a second of thought.
We hosted it at our local YMCA. It started first with a pool hour and then an hour in the game room where we served pizza, pop, and cake.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I must say a definate benifit was no clean up at home!!!

Aiden surrounded by his friends opening his gifts, lots of lego, some hot wheels and his favorite, CASH!!!
Courtney and her barbies, I think she got 3 new ones, but she needed them, her old ones were getting very ratty, she is not the most lady like with them. Ken never has his head on, causing me much worry, how will I ever marry her off if she keeps bitting off mens heads!!! (LOL) The girl barbies are always being sent into flight by their hair (poor things) But she does also spend alot of time playing with them and dressing and re-dressing them. I got her a load of barbie clothes at a yard-sale and she does little chores around the house for me to earn each new ziplock bag full. I think her barbies now have more clothes than she does!!!

The cake, a close second to ice-cream sandwich cake for these two is their grandma Gina's recipe for chocolate wacky cake, topped off with my recipe for chocolate truffle icing. I am not much of a icing writer so I always us M&M's and our birthday sign to top the cakes. And of course the are not 97 years old but 9 and 7.

Aiden and his friends playing on the splash pad.

Courtney and her friends hamming it up for the camera!!!!

Birthday week!!!!
As most of you know 3 out of 5 of the people in our family have birthdays all in one week its starts June 22 w ith Courtney's and ends June 28th with Aiden's and Jack's is sandwiched in the middle on the 25th. It is a busy week but a fun week!!! I make a homemade cake for each of them, and we go out for lunch or dinner on their day, and we always do some fun event on their day, and they get their family gifts on their day and friends gifts at their parties. I try to make the birthday child or adult, feel as special as possible!!!
Aiden's birthday was actually last in birthday week, but I always forget that the blog prints opposite to what you put in, so first is last and last is first!!! To complicated for my computer simple mind!!
He of course enjoyed the favorite Ice-cream sandwich cake. I almost have the recipe memorized now I have made it three summers in a row, twice in one week for both he and his sister. Good thing it is simple to make but messy!!! I was still scrubbing chocolate fingers off the cupboards a week later, and i will admit most of them were mine!!!
Jack' s birthday is sandwiched between both the kiddo's, He of course had to have his cherry cheese cake. We went out for breakfast just the two of us at his favorite breakfast spot "9th street cafe" and then had lunch with the kiddo's at wendy's and dinner was steak and potato salad and bread. A Carb lovers delight and believe me my husband is known for his love of carbs!!! I bought him new sun glasses for his day and the kids made him cards. Thomas actually wrote him a letter which is HUGE, Thomas barely writes a thing unless he absolutely has too!!!
Courtney always kicks off birthday week. My baby is now 7. She is going to use her birthday money to finally get that "American Girl" doll. which means if we are to do it right, a trip to chicago, a bit daunting for my small town husband. I think we will park outside the city and do that train thing!!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Howdie everyone!!!
Hope you had a great week.
Just a short post this week. Wanted to give the relatives a look at the birthday boy, and share my thrifty tip of the week.
We went from spring like weather, back to winter this week, but I am maintaining a positive attitude, it is still warmer than it was, and spring is officially Just a few weeks away. Already I am back to doing my long runs outside again with my running buddy Jami, and that really make me happy!!! Treadmill running is great for speed training, but it sucks for long runs!!! It gets so boring, when the scenery never changes.

My First Teenager!!!!
Well Jack and I have been parent's of a teenager for just over a week now.
Thomas however was kind to his mom. When I asked him what type of cake he wanted, he said, well a heart shape one mom like you always make BUT please mom no more pink icing, I want green!!!! so green he got, with green and blue candies to top it that he picked out.

This was the first year that instead of cashing the money from the relatives and getting him a gift with it to wrap and give from that relative, for the big day along with the rest of the cash, we gave him all the cash, and just a gift from us (a Tintin comic, and the Madagascar 2 movie). After several days of hard thinking he spent a bit of the money on lego and decided to put the rest of his money is his car account "sixteen is only three years away you know!!!!" (ugg I don't want to think of that)
No party this year, he spent his day, watching movies, eating mom's homemade pizza for dinner ,and we took him to his favorite buffet restuarant for lunch (Ryan's) where he ate more than his Dad!!!!
This week he got his first taste of teenage hood by going to the YMCA with his dad to get his student card, so he can now use all the big machines, and workout along side his dad. Thomas touched us both by thanking God for the YMCA outing that evening during prayers before dinner. Which lead Jack and I to agreeing to trying to get him and Jack there on a regular basis together. Who knows perhaps we will have another runner in the family!!!

This Weeks Thrifty Tip
Md's is one of my children's favorite places to eat (isn't that true of most children?). One of the best ways I have found to save money and enjoy a thrifty treat, is to buy the coupon packs that they print at ,Halloween, Christmas, valentine's and springtime, and sometimes even during the back to school time of the year. Each Pack has 12 coupons and cost just a $1 and are good for children 12 and under (Thomas was so upset that he can't use them anymore, and so was I).
For those of you that live in the area, these packs are available at the kokomo's Md's across from Menard's, or the one in the Kokomo Walmart. You can also get them at the Fort Wayne location just off 24 and 69, at the Jefferson point exit, and the Md's near the Fort Wayne Zoo also has them.
The treats for the Valentine's packs included, hamburgers, apple dippers or fries, milk or juice, ice-cream cones. These are great for snacks on the run, or to reduce the cost of a take out meal.
For instance running home from church today , I fed our entire family at Md's for $10.25. How did I do it? Well first, we did not pig out, and we took the meal home to round out and finish off with fruit! I got Aiden and Courtney to use a hamburger coupon each, Thomas and I split a 2 cheeseburger meal and I larged the fries and drink, Jack had a big Mac meal and I larged the fries and drink. We brought it all out and shared the fries between us, and the kids shared a can of coke, (Jack and I kept the drinks that came with the meals, I am still sipping the sweat tea two hours later) and as I said if they were still hungry I pointed them towards the fruit drawer in the fridge.
Do we do this all the time. No we do allow the children to sometimes pick whatever they want to eat, and there is no sharing of fries those days. But generally that is saved for vacations, birthdays and other celebrations. Seriously what mom needs another happy meal toy to trip on anyhow!!!! And do any of us need that many fries on our hips!!!! ( I once saw a visual demonstration on just how much fat and salt are in those fries believe me it made a huge impact on me!!! yuck talk about artery compacting) By sharing meals we fill our craving, but keep within our budget.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It has been a fun week, and a reflective week. Jack and I can hardly believe our journey into parenthood began over 13 years ago.
I hope you enjoy the pictures of our winter get-a-way and all the thrifty hints.
Me loosing to Aiden at the "lily pad" race
Mommy hood at its best
One thing I thank God for a lot is the fact that I am fit enough to really play with my children. I can bike with them, run with them, and even do Lily Pad races with them.
I love weeks like the one we just spent, where I am reminded over and over that I am blessed to be a mom. To share in the giggles, and the fun, to be hugged by them and to be loved by them.

Aiden hitting the waves in the wave pool with waves of up to 6 feet high
Me and Courtney doing water races!!!

Aiden getting ready to do the Lilly Pad race with his mama and win!!!!

Thomas doing the "lily pad" race

Me finishing the races!!!!
A few things I have learned about water parks
1. No matter how fit you are, expect to feel muscles ache that you never knew you had the next day
2. Getting water up your nose is 100% guaranteed
3. Children have no fear, but strangely you now do, so expect to scream, while you children laugh at you!!!
4. Swimming makes the whole crowd hungry so pack lots of food.
5. Swimming does strange things to blond hair that it never does to brunette, BUT brunette mother's out there with blond headed children do not fear, deep conditioner left on for an hour will save the day!!!

Enjoying the use of the "Hut" that Daddy surprised us by renting it for our full day at the Resort
Courtney Hitting the waves!!!

Aiden and Thomas heading out to seek adventure on one of the many water slides

The Hut we had for one day!!! Living the life of Luxury

Jack reading his book!!! I think he finished it all by the end of the day
Our Annual Winter Get A Way
For the past two winters our entire family has enjoyed two nights and three days at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky Ohio. The year before that I sent Jack and the 2 boys there as a surprise vacation for just the boys. They loved it so much they begged for a return visit with Courtney and I, and so our annual trek, to Kalahari was born.
If you book early at you can get some excellent rates, especially mid-week in deep winter (that is the one of the joys of homeschooling you can organize your school year to vacation at off-season rates).
We had a great time, it was very relaxing, and the place is huge (see pictures of it on the website) and the kids are of course begging to go again next year.

Thrifty Tip of the Week!!!
How to Save $$$ at Target
Okay I know people with Super Targets near them can do far better than I can at taking advantage of all Target's deals. However the two closest to me are not Super Targets, but still I do pretty okay with finding great deals. Now a wiser and older woman, many years ago opened my eyes to Target's potential (Shannon you are older than me right???) anyways, she took this Target Virgin through the ropes one evening away from the hectic life of toddler and babyhood. I have been using her hints ever since and saving $$$. First get a cart, then go down the end of each of the aisle looking for clearance caps, also spy down the aisle itself for red clearance tabs. It really does not take a lot of time to do the store, I would say 15 minutes top, if you really get up a good pushing cart speed, (work those legs gals!!!!)
What is there to find??? Well this week, I got a over the toilet cabinet for the new house regular $60 got it for $15, and then a 5x7 rug for the boys new room regular price $90 I paid $50, later that week I was in a town with a Target again with my hubby when he spied a steal of a deal (yep Jack does target with me occasionally) we got two black leather parish chairs for the new desk in the home school room regular price $120 each we paid $34 each.
In the past I have also gotten sheet sets, toys, clothes, stationary, gifts, all for extremely low prices.
So next time you are at Target, grab a cart and stay on target and race the aisles!!! You won't regret it!!!!
This Weeks CVS steals
I just got back from CVS and all this cost me a grand total of $2.35. Thats about what you would pay for the toothpaste at walmart. And no I do not do the energy shots they were free with cash backs and I needed their total to use my $5 of $30 coupon and get the maximum ECB back, so that my out of pocket was as low as it could go!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2 Weeks in a row!!!
This has not happened in a while. I managed to blog two weeks in a row. I was just dying to get up the new pictures of the kitchen. It is looking amazing. Enjoy the read, and have a great week. Think of me, by the next time I write I will be a mom of a teenager!!!! That went fast. It feels like just last week I brought that colicky bundle of love home!!!
Our kitchen is pretty much complete, and I have never been a bigger fan of my husband than now. It is totally the kitchen I had in my head all these years. I cannot wait to get over there and cook him a big pot or batch of something in it!!!
Jack applying the grout to the kitchen counters. We got this granite tile for a steal of a deal, before we were even finished taking the plaster off the walls, almost 2 years ago, it feels so good to see it where we have always wanted it.

Our little kitchen bar area. Just big enough for three stools one for each of our "little animals". The room you see beyond it is our homeschooling room that has the couch in it from the other pictures. Still got to paint that window yet!!! The trim will be white like the cabinets. Oh and the bar chairs are from Big Lots (read today's thrifty tip feature)

Lots Got Done, Lots to do

Jack had a really good two to three weeks of successes at the renovation home. He got project after project done with no hang ups. However late this week, he hit a very frustrating day that ended with two more walls for me to repaint, after he repairs them. Since that day, he has done only little things, wanting a stress break!!!
OH well we still got a lot more done, than what we created to repair.
Every time I go over to paint now, I get giddy with excitement. I completed the painting on the master bedroom except for 3 tiny pieces of trim work, Jack had overlooked and put in once I noticed they were missing.
I have just one more coat on the bottom trim around the floors of the other rooms upstairs and those few tiny pieces of missed trim and then I can head downstairs to the downstairs trim.
I am leaving the biggest project to last. The staircase, as I am painting the old stairs and the banister and figure, if I wait till Jack is all done his work, there will be less dust and no one will need to go up the stairs while they are drying.
We will need to repaint a few walls due to accidents from Jack, or from me, I think we are 50/50 for those now. But that should not take long, I think I will just wait till everything else is done, then invite a few gal friends over for a night of chatting and touch ups.

Look at the transformation!!!

If you go way back into my blog history you will find a picture of a ugly claw foot tub that had the biggest most hideous flowers painted on it in thick paint. We went back and forth several times over whether to save the tub or get a new one. Finally I went into Lowe's and discovered just how much tub, I could afford and said "I got to at least try". So I took the wisdom of a helpful older man and sprayed the thing down with oven cleaner, yep you read right oven cleaner. Then I took a scraper to it and scraped off layers upon layers of bad paint jobs.

Then Jack stepped in and sanded it with sand paper made for metal. Then he primed and painted it with Auto spray paint. He did the inside with a special enamel paint and then we got the fixtures off of eBay for a fraction of the cost of those at the hardware store.

The total cost to renovate the tub was 3 days of labour and $250 in fixtures and supplies. I think it was worth it, cause I could have barley been able to soak my big toe, in the tub I could have gotten for that price, and now I can soak my whole self!!! Bring on the bubbles, and the smelly candles!!! This momma is indulging in a good well deserved soak when we finally move in.!!!

This Weeks Thrifty Tip!!!
I love saving money, and I know some of you like hearing about it; others, well you can tell that you have gone to your happy place, some where deep inside. So I thought instead of chatting your ear off, I will leave a tip a week on my blog, and those of you that are interested can read about it. Those of you that aren't can scroll on by!!! This does not guarantee I won't talk about it, but it will give you a place to find the websites, that I told you about.
Today's thrifty tip is Big Lots!!! Its a great store in our area, that sells closeout groceries, to toys to clothes to furniture.
The prices for some things are not really all that cheap, but others are amazing. Our family goes there for all our socks and most of our underwear (yep, I just printed where I get my families undies ).
I also get a lot of educational computer software there for our kids homeschooling. Up till about grade three, my children finish off their school day with some time on the computer playing educational software and about 1/2 of it comes from Big Lots.
For our reno. home we have bought our drop clothes, paintbrushes, rollers and trays at Big lots for significantly less than the hardware stores (small word of advice though, don't use their painters tape, it takes the paint with it!!! I learned the hard way with that)
I have also found great deals on clothes, curtains, cleaning supplies and toys.
To save yourself even more money make sure you sign up for their Buzz Club, on line at , when you do you will get a 20% coupon of your next entire purchase, sent to your inbox. And you will get more of these 20% coupons randomly throughout the year. Jack and I just got one a few weeks ago, and we used it to buy our curtains (also a great deal even without the coupon) and lamps for the new home (ours here are on their last legs, our kids are hard on lamps) , snacks for our upcoming trip, a few small tools he needed, and a few things for the kitchen, and we saved ourselves almost $50 off our purchase.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I know I missed a Sunday an now it has been a month since I have written. We have been working hard on our Renovation home, and Jack has found someone who takes half his Saturday shift at the Hospital for him, so we can work a bit more on the Renovation home. It is really helping us get it done, but that means more time for me away from our current home, which means I got a little bit too behind on our currents homes needs to sit down and type. Its caught up again though, Courtney finally had a big learning growth spurt and can do a lot more of her school work independantly so that freed up some of my time to catch up laundry and such!!! She just sits near by for me to answer questions.
The TV alter all painted (Courtney insisted on hanging the Christmas stocking on it at Christmas time, even though we ended up dragging them to our current home, it was just too dusty over there to celebrate the big day)
My Very black and white kitchen. People think I am crazy with this much white in the kitchen. But I know myself, I don't tend to see dirt like other people so if something is white I see the dirt and therefore I clean the dirt more often!!! Plus whenever I look at home design mags. its always the white kitchens I salivate over!!! (guess what I got counter tops this week and a back splash Yeah!!!!)

Our study, we dragged over a couch and rug to make an area of the kids to sit and watch video's while we work. This room is just off the kitchen and will be our main school area, it now has a coffee table. Jack blew me away, we were at Big Lots one day and I showed him a table I liked and asked if he could make one like it for cheaper and with a shelf. Afterwards I was upstairs at the reno. painting when he calls me down and says hey, what size do you want that table?? in a little under 24 hours I had the coffee table I wanted!!! Thanks Honey Your the Best!!! I like it even better than the roses you picked up just because this week (and I love those a lot ) !!!
Our Reno!!
I know you are all asking, when!!! Or you are more like me and are casting a sarcastic comment my way whenever the word Renovation, comes up ( I love you sarcastic friends, you are like kinship to me). Well I can't say when cause I give up estimating, I apparently suck at it cause my first estimate was well over a year ago. But, I think we are now close to the end, Jack has about 3 larger projects and 3 smaller projects to do, and then he is going to help me finish up the painting, should be just the basement to paint with sealer paint, and a bit of trim and the stairs left on my list by then. Then wow, I can hardly even type the words WE WILL FINALLY MOVE IN.
I am so looking forward to it, we slept over there one night during the cold snap and could not believe what a difference new windows and good insulation make to a home, we were all finally cozy!!! The boys are totally looking forward to a dishwasher again, they are tired of hand washing. And I am looking forward to a bathroom door that locks (ours both broke) and to kitchen doors that stay shut, and a coat closet, and shoe cubbies, big open front porch, and lots of closet space, and a bathtub that is not about to fall thru. the ceiling, and no holes in the wall, and floors that don't give my children and I slivers and,................................ I could go on and on, what a blessing this has been to us.

Our science text book and the children's representation of the surface of the planet, mercury
My students working hard on their planet illustrations

Our exploding volcano from the planet Venus!!!
Science class at Huizinga Homeschool
This year I decided to try something different and do an all ages inclusive science curriculum and I must say it has been a hit with this mom and her three students. I myself am relearning all sorts of things about the planets I had forgotten and I am learning all sorts of new things too like the "Exploded Planet Hypothesis", very interesting.
Each lesson starts off with review questions, then I read to them about the new days planet, and the book is actually interesting, not boring and full of jargon even their mom couldn't understand. Then we have review questions about the reading, and then we do an experiment, followed by book work that is done according to their age, for instance Courtney being six does an illustration of the planet and an oral report to me that I help her write on her page, while Thomas 12 does a paragraph on the planet.
The series is by "Exploring Creation" and you can find it at each book is under $30 and is full of about a half years worth of work if you did science one morning a week, or a whole year of you do it ever other like we are (they have co-op science with other homeschoolers the other week).
My crew likes it so much I am thinking of doing a summer session of it, and doing a lesson each weekday morning. Summer weather would make it perfect for outside messy experiments!!!

Thomas does the Lobster Dance!!
Courtney had a blast with this PVC pipe, we were at this center for over half an hour.

My favorite, the blown glass exhibit, I see something new every time.

Aiden spends a lot of time each visit at this center playing with the plasitic pieces made to represent the diffrent pieces found in the blown glass sculpture that stands the three stores of the museum.

This picture below is of Courtney being a Mama to her dino eggs!!
The Price of Free!!!
About 2 weeks ago on Martin Luther King day, Jack and I took the kids to the Indianapolis Children's museum, one of their favorite places to spend a day. Jack actually dropped us off first and went off to find the Body Exhibit, in downtown Indianapolis that he really wanted to see while I went into the children's museum with the kids(he met up with us later). Now the great thing about the Indianapolis children museum is that it has free days , three times a year and one afternoon a month it is free as well. Usually free days are busy, but enjoyable, and our morning was, but I must say the afternoon was just chaotic even for this mom, who has a great talent of tuning out high volume children noise.
Still however, I will go back for more free days!! Cause they are bringing in a Lego exhibit, I know all three of my children will love. They all build Lego every day. Courtney of course makes cakes and designs shopping malls (what a girl!!!) while the boys make spaceships and weapons and robots.

Yeah, I know some of you are tired of my CVS adventures, but when I have a day like this I cannot help sharing!!! Thanks to a few suggestions at I was able to take away all this just shortly ago for less than the price of the Bounty paper towel at Wal-mart. I must admit it took me about 4 weeks to get the CVS thing down, but since doing so, we have been able to trim our grocery budget substantially, and even share the fruits of my labour with others. It only takes me 20 minutes of coupon clipping a week and another 10 minutes to look up the deals and perhaps max. of 15 to 20 in the actually store, so for under an hour each week I estimate I save my family well over a$100 a month, and I get the great joy of helping other families as well.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Advice
Hey, If I were you I would scroll down all the way to the picture of the tree and read it's attached message and then work your way up till the top again. That way you can read about our Christmas day step by step. Of course, if you are like me you are very independent minded and now that I made that suggestion you will be just too darn stubborn to do it that way!!! But that is okay, I understand, still if you are a chronological order person today's writings will be hard for you to bear unless you start at the bottom and work to the top. Or if you are like me who reads magazines from back to front, that won't matter, but if it does, well you know I have already said it twice.... but who can resist saying it once more.... start reading from the tree picture and its attached message today and work your way up, you won't regret it, I promise!!!! Oh and to do so you have to click on Older Posts first (found at the very bottom right hand corner) cause I wrote a lot today, so it took up more than one page!!! Enjoy!!!
Christmas Dinner with "Christmas Crackers" of Course"
(and yes that is laundry in the background, if you read further you will discover I had a few hours to kill before the kiddos got up on the big day, so I did a bit of laundry, but it got so busy after the kids got up, that it did not get away, not surprising in this house I know)
Jack and his Stuffing
(if only I had a picture of the look on his face when the whole bottle of poultry seasoning ended up dumping out at once, oh well it was still good!!!)
The Big Meal
Now normally here at Huzinga Zoo, we have our big dinner the day before Christmas before Jack goes to work at 3pm. But we wanted to fit in a bit of painting at the Reno house, so we decided we would move the big meal to the big day. The other children were fine with it but Aiden told me over and over on the day before Christmas, "when are we having our big meal mom" and "why again are we having it tomorrow", needless to say I think for Aiden's sake we consider switching it back to the day before again.
For us the big meal is Ham, green bean casserole, and stuffing. We keep it simple cause truly it is just Jack and I who eat it. The kids will all eat Ham, but they all hate stuffing and they all hate green bean casserole, so it is usually a five minute dinner with the kids and then us two sit quietly enjoying our meal, while the kids go off to fill themselves up on the candy Santa brought them!!!! I figure for one day, what can it hurt them, and heck that's more Christmas fixings for Jack and I.

The search for the Famous Christmas Pickle!!!
Who knew that this would be such a hit. But, every year when we get out the Christmas boxes, at least one of the children will scream, Mom (or mama if its Courtney, cause she calls me Mama) "don't forget the Christmas pickle" so out it comes and it gets placed in its box, by the Christmas tree where it remains till I hide it amongst the branches of the tree for it to be found right after the stockings and Santa gifts are done. This year the gift was books on CD to listen to in the car during long drives. The children and I love listening to stories as we drive. This year Thomas tried his best to hide his tears over Beth's death in "Little Women" while Aiden's eyes grew huge over the events in the "Lemony Snicket" series. Right now we are enjoying the "Secret Garden".

Stocking Time
If you read below, you will see that my children all awoke at different times on Christmas morning, but yet all of them hours after their mama. I treasure it though even though I do think it is kind of weird they wake after me, but because I wake up earlier I get the joy of watching the excitement of each child as they walk down the stairs and see the presents awaiting them. I see their hands shaking with anticipation as they rip open their first gift in their stocking (I am one of those moms who would wraps every little thing for the big day). I love seeing their eyes light up as they see that item they have been waiting for.
Oh and if you are looking at the pictures of the stockings and wondering what is on the toe of each sock, that would be a name label. You see this mama had great intentions of getting some fabric paint and writing each child's name on the new socks that I bought on clearance last year, but it never happened (I forgot about it, till Christmas Eve, too late to fix matters then). So out of desperation I got Courtney to put each child's name on a label and press it on the sock for me!!! Hey it worked!!!

What do you do waiting for the Kiddo's to wake up!!!
I am sure I am not the only mom who wakes up on Christmas morning, waiting for the Kids to get up. I know in most households it is the other way around but here at Huizinga Zoo, I am up first. This time I tossed a turned till 3:50 am, and then gave up. I got up, looked up the christmas story in the bible and read it, prayed, showered, made myself breakfast. Then still no one was up, so I went on line, looked up a recipes for cinnimon buns at my favorite site (go to it you will not regret it) I got out the ingredients, cooked the buns, washed up the dishes, and waited, oh and did I mention this whole time I was also doing several loads of laundry) . Finally at 6:30 Thomas awoke, and he and I waited yet another hour till Courtney and Aiden decided to wake up, by then Jack was already also showered and dressed.
So I am asking other mother's out there!!! Are my kids abnormal or what?? At their age I remember hardly sleeping a wink!!! And still now in My 30's I still don't!!!