Thursday, December 30, 2010

better late than never

Although Christmas seems like a million years ago, I did want to document that we actually celebrated it around here. With days and days of festivities.
We started out Christmas Eve eve (doesn't everyone start their celebrations two days in advance?!) with a sleep over. It was mentioned in a previous blog, but here are the super sweet pics.

Looking at these pictures makes me want to sleep all in one room all the time, and then I remembered that we did that for three nights in a row at Grandma and Papa's house and it makes me reconsider.
By the way... I'm pretty sure the pose in this picture by Olivia is nature NOT nurture.

We decided to shake up Christmas Eve a bit this year. And although I'm not exactly flexible, I am proud of myself for allowing a few traditions to bend this year. For example, we traditionally have appetizers for dinner but with our schedule and trying to get out the door for Church we had appetizers for lunch.
I know, radical wasn't it?!

We traditionally have a birthday cake for Jesus. I usually buy a birthday cake for Jesus from my favorite bakery. This year I thought it would be fun to bake and decorate cup cakes for the birthday cake. We also had a *contest* and whoever had the best got to have the candle in it Christmas morning. Yep, that was a colossal mistake. We ended up needing 3 candles. Thus the benefit of having an only child.

Another deviation from the norm, gifts on Christmas Eve. I had an internal battle for nearly a week (I KNOW! Its a wonder I have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome... stress much?) about if I could actually enjoy Christmas if we opened gifts NOT on Christmas.
And guess what? It was great fun!
After gifts we hopped in the car and headed to church. Steve was part of the program this year. Fun stuff.

The next add on to the plan was to stop and grab dinner after church.
Guess what? NOTHING is open around here after 4pm on Christmas Eve. Except a Dayton favorite, Marion's Pizza. It was packed full of families enjoying Christmas festivities. And we ran into several families from church who recognized Steve from the program. He got a real kick out of it.

We had to rush home to put out cookies and milk for Santa. We even checked in with the Nordac Santa tracker. O was relieved to find that Santa was only covering Europe when she headed to bed.
We also needed to leave Santa a note letting him know which stocking was whose. Mental note: get stockings monogrammed before next year!

Santa gifts and Jesus' birthday cake early the next morning.
This was the year of the bike. Yippee.

Thanks to the note, Santa was able to identify whose stocking was whose.
He left cool shades.

And even a reindeer who poops candy. I guess Santa went with the potty humor that runs rampant around here. There were also cups of Flarp in the stockings. In case you don't know about Flarp... its like play dough that toots.
Santa's got a good philosophy... if you can't beat 'em... join 'em.

Turner on a bike: a natural.

Quinn on a bike: reluctant

Olivia on a bike (with Barbie on the handle bars) : a diva
Once Santa gifts were opened and clothes were changed, we hopped into the van and headed over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house.
Where I proceeded to hibernate for the next three days. No camera. No blog. No email.
Merry Christmas to me.
Now... it's time to pick up the pieces and usher in 2011. Oey vey.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

Last night we had a *sleep over* in front of the Christmas tree. I say we, but Steve bailed on us. Opting instead for a comfy night's sleep in bed. I say he loses. We had fun with out him.
Today is jam packed full of Christmas fun. Zumba this morning. A special appetizers lunch. Family gifts this afternoon. Baking and decorating Jesus' birthday cupcakes for our Christmas breakfast tomorrow. Then it's off to church tonight for Christmas Eve service.
Tomorrow, Santa will have arrived with a couple of gifts and full stockings. We'll eat our cupcakes, enjoy the Christmas story, pray and then hop in the car and head over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and I'll be back with pictures next week. In the meantime, join us in giving thanks for a baby born in a manger with a mission to exit on a cross to rescue the kids he loves. What a reason to celebrate. And eat cupcakes for breakfast. Amen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa baby

As we rolled into Toledo to do Christmas with my dad (we alternate years and this year is a Koproski Christmas) I got a touch nervous.

I just didn't know what to expect as we celebrated with out my mom this year. She always made Christmas super special and was very much into *tradition*. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

But once we walked through the doors, I realized my dad had gone out of his way to make this first Christmas without her really special. He had decorated the outside of his little apartment (and I think my mom would have actually approved.) The inside had some special touches as well. he had put up all the decorations my mom had recently used. And he had his own little touch. This cute little candy dish that had 3 of each kind of candy. The kids obviously loved this!

He had painstakingly chosen candy they would love.

My dad could barely wait to open gifts. He has been working on getting *just the right stuff* since Thanksgiving. (Secretly, I think it has given him a project to work on and he enjoyed getting it just right.)

He did not disappoint. Turner was in love with his Transformer.

The boys also got remote control trucks and Olivia got a bag full of art stuff. All three kids were occupied the whole time we were there.
Later that evening my dad took us out for a steak dinner. It was delicious and the kids behaved and it actually felt like Christmas.

But perhaps the BEST part of our Christmas celebration was my gift. (Because let's face it, I'm still an only child at heart!) As I mentioned before, this is the first year without a stocking. I'm not going to lie, its been a bit tough to swallow.

And at the risk of making Santa sound like white trash, one of the staples in my stocking since I was about 10 has been an Ohio Lottery scratch off. Over the years I have won about the total sum of twenty bucks.

Tucked inside my gift box of Gap gift cards was an Ohio Lottery scratch off. Which shows how thoughtful my dad had been. The sight of that alone nearly made me fall into a heap and cry as I thought of how happy my mom would be that the tradition continues.

Then I began to scratch. I won $25 off the bat. I was like, "All right, I just won twenty five dollars!" Then I scratched some more. "Woah, I just won another $25!" then it was, "Oh man, I just got another fifty bucks!" Then I got positively giddy. I revealed $100. When all was said and done I declared myself a $450 winner! The whole time Steve kept saying things like, "Are you sure you're doing it right?" He's such a buzz kill. Finally my dad said, "Let me see that!"

They all think I'm a moron.

Which apparently I am. Because after further inspection, we found I had actually won FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS! At which point I had to excuse myself from the room because I nearly tinkled in my pants. So think what you like about Santa being shady by providing lottery tickets in a stocking, today I'm thinking he's the bomb!

And PS... I'm currently hiding the five hundred dollars in a very safe spot so it doesn't go to paying bills. Because I know that's the way my mom would have wanted it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Apparently, I have *issues*

You may have noticed a brief bloggy break over the past few days. That was due to the fact that early Saturday morning, we loaded up the van and headed up to Kalamazoo, MI with a follow up stop at my dad's on the way home.
We are lucky the only thing that got hung that trip was the toy elf next to Turner.
Let's just say I've been working hard on my stress management when it comes to road trips. I've done quite well, recently, if I do say so myself. But this trip didn't start off too well. I'd like to blame it on the fact that it's a Christmas trip. You know, to celebrate the Prince of Peace and all. And with all that Peace celebrating comes loads and loads of gifts, food, over night stuff, etc.
I might have raised my voice a little as we were getting into the car and were waiting on Steve to bring the dog (which only makes life more stressful. We normally have to make a stop at the kennel on our way to wherever we are going.)
After I got done yelling, I apologized and asked the kids to forgive me. To which Quinn replied,
"Mom, are you having ISSUES?"
Why yes, Quinn, I am. Thanks for noticing. The rest was smooth sailing for the next five hours.
Once we got to Kalamazoo we had fun reuniting with our relatives. Cousin Katie (now a freshman in college) was a big hit!

Especially when after a few hours of being there she asked if she and Olivia could go out on an adventure. I wasn't convinced O would go by herself since we don't really see Katie but once a year.
But to my delight, she hopped in the car and away they went to the nail salon and got Olivia's first ever manicure. She was delighted!
She has just heightened her diva status that's for sure.

Of course Aunt Debbie is also a huge hit! These two share a common love of all things pink and that makes Aunt Debbie pretty special around here.

The main attraction up in Kalamazoo is Great Grandma. Steve's grandma is 88 and is the only remaining Great Grandparent on either side.
She lives in Tampa but *winters* in Michigan. The kids got spoiled rotten on cookies and kielbasa for two days straight.

It is so nice to see Great Grandma and we wished she lived closer so that we could see her more often, but we sure are glad that we get to see her once a year!

Monday morning when Kalamazoo could take us no longer, we packed up the van and headed to Toledo to my dad's. More on that later.
On our way there we stopped at Whole Foods for a fun lunch. The kids got a kick out of eating at the counter in the window. They also loved picking out their food from the buffet and carrying it to the check out like big kids.
Our Christmas miracle this year was that no one spilled any of their mac n cheese (their $8 mac n cheese, thank you Whole Foods) along the way.
Trust me, if they had, I would have had ISSUES!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Keep your money, just send fiber

Christmas came early around here yesterday. I got a special little unexpected *gift*. But instead of just spilling the beans, I suppose I owe you a bit of the back drop. (Because why say in three words what I could say in 1,200?)

Monday at the end of the day I wound up on the sofa rather incapacitated. I found that my stomach was a bit *bloated* (I know. You're wondering, "Is nothing too personal for the Internet?" The answer is no.) Since Weight Watchers has switched over to the new points plus system, I've been eating a few more veggies in my day (and yet, I still gain weight... and YES, I'm still on that rant, thankyouverymuch.) so I figured I was experiencing some lingering effects, shall we say. Steve proved himself a loving husband once again by braving the elements and venturing off to the drug store for some Mylanta at 10 pm.

The tablets seemed to help.

Until Wednesday night. I was giving Olivia a shower when that same tightness in my belly returned. And let's just say I don't usually refer to my belly in terms of *tight* on a normal day. I lifted my shirt and looked in the mirror and I most definitely resembled a 5 month pregnant lady. I hope you are reading *not pretty* here. At which point I started to get really worried. I was pretty sure it was some kind of tumor. I began thinking things like, "This is probably going to be my last Christmas with the kids" and "What if I'm hospitalized during the holidays, who will deliver all of those cookies I've been baking?"

You know. The important stuff.

Steve begged me to get up Thursday morning and make an appointment to see the doctor. But you see, I had plans to go to kickboxing, get my hair done and pass out those dang cookies. A visit to the doctor was not on the agenda. But when I woke up yesterday and was still bloated, I figured it was imperative. So after kickboxing and before my hair cut, I went to the doctor.

I no sooner got out the words stomach bloating before my doctor asked me if I was stressed. Well, Sherlock, I've got three little kids, it's Christmas time, I recently recovered from surgery and I lost my mom six months ago. Yes, I might be a touch stressed. He pushed around on my belly, listened to my bowels and declared me: OFFICIALLY AN OLD LADY.

Because now, in addition to a sciatic nerve that flares up and a repaired hernia, I now have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (IBS if you're in the *innner cirlce*!)


So now I get to drink even more water, keep exercising and take fiber pills. I have to say I was actually giddy over the diagnosis. Since the night before I had myself with a fatal tumor, IBS seemed like a huge upgrade!

Not exactly the gift I was hoping for this year, but I'll take it nonetheless. Merry Chirstmas to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

$31.99 Comin' atchya

Here we go with holiday baby steps.

First step: Santa photos upload.

This is the first year that we didn't have a child step within a 40 ft. radius of Santa and start screaming their fool head off. In fact, I would call this Santa success.

Here are the kids in their Christmas outfits. If you look closely you will see the Spider man light up boots on Turner. They are the peace de resistance! (or is it piece de resistance? And what does that mean anyway? It just seemed to fit there. Whatever.)

And because this one was the sweetest ever, we totally got suckered in to *adding on* to our $23 worth of Santa rip off.

But it's only fitting. When we go to the movies, Steve ALWAYS falls for the "For just a quarter more you can upgrade your enormous buttery popcorn for a size that no human should consume" line.

For only $7 more they threw in this pic. I was absolutely in love with the way all the kids were intently looking at Santa. And I LOVE the way Santa's looking at Turner and his eyes seem to say, "Hey, kid, I've got your number and I'm keeping my eye on you."

Well Santa, get in line!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Proof is in the pudding... or the fudge

I've been meaning to blog for days now. And honestly its the uploading the pictures that has kept me from posting. I get ready to do it and then I think about the cookies I need to bake (the tally is up to 5 batches and 2 batches of fudge w/ one batch of cookies in the oven.) Ummm... can we say excessive? Especially for someone who is in the throws of trying to figure out the new Weight Watchers Points Plus system. (Why they thought they would roll out a brand new system several weeks before Christmas is beyond me.) Here I was cruising along just fine (except for that *slight* panic month when I needed to step up my game) and they go changing the whole dang thing on me. If you're not into Weight Watchers, or your weight or what you eat, then you're probably bored right now. But trust me, change is never easy my friends. I gained 2 lbs the first week and I'm freaking out because *hello* 7 batches of cookies and 2 batches of fudge. whew.

Oh, right, so what I was saying is that I've been too busy (complaining and baking) to upload my pictures.

And oh there are pictures! We've been busy around here. Olivia had her last dance class that was held on stage. So, naturally, I had my camera and my video camera. And since I know you're DYING to see her, I felt like I could not blog until those were ready to go.

Then, we sat on Santa's lap this weekend. And we are truly suckers (or idiots?) because we spent $30 to get pictures with him. What happened to the good 'ole days (better known as the '70's) when they'd toss a Polaroid at you for a buck? Well my friends, those days are dead. Killed by digital photos and scam artists, apparently. And by the fact that we, as well as from what I could tell in line, 50 other families plopped down the cash.

But like I told Steve, what price are memories? He figured about $31.95 for the cheap package.

I've been meaning to scan those in so that you can see them, but every time I think about it the boys are in their naps and we've *brilliantly* moved the printer/scanner right outside of their rooms. Foiled again.

There was snow and more hot chocolate and driving around looking at Christmas lights. There were trains made out of Rice Krispies decorated by my three kids (who apparently will be headed straight to a Weight Watchers meeting with me just as soon as Christmas Cookie Extravaganza '10 is over!) And the fact that all those stories come to you without picture proof is a small personal failure. But I'm hoping the fact that I've now just gone and done it with out the picture proof will get me over the hump and I'll be back on track to posting.

Until then, I'm going to go and try and figure out where those two extra pounds came from?! Because SURELY it wasn't from the fudge!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A fun tradition

On Wednesday we bundled up and headed out to what has become one of my favorite traditions around here.

It's called Christmas on Campus. This was the 47th year that students at the University of Dayton have held the event which hosts students from some of the inner city public schools for an evening of fun.

The college students *adopt* one of the 1st through 3rd graders. They buy them a gift and escort their child around campus which is set up like a winter wonderland. There are tons of crafts, snacks, games, entertainment and fun things for the kids to do. Santa's even there.

Back before we had kids, the group I work with would volunteer to ride the buses with the kids to and from their school.

Basically it was the crappiest job there is. You get the kids as they are absolutely BONKERS with excitement. Inevitably, we would ride a bus that arrived 45 minutes early and would have to entertain the kids as they waited for the college students to come and get them.

Then we would ride the buses back to school with them as they were EQUALLY bonkers from all of the cookies, candy and hot chocolate that their college student had given them. Of course, the college students NEVER took their kids to the bathroom so each year there would be at least one kid who would have a tinkle accident on the bus. One year we got a barfer. Totally gross.

We gave that job up right about the time I had Olivia. (In fact, I'm pretty sure I rode a bus pregnant with her. Nightmare.) I remember all those years thinking how excited I was to have kids of my own and take them to Christmas on Campus. I took Olivia last year, but this year the kids were old enough to really enjoy it.

And one of the very best parts was having our very own college friends to escort our kids.

Kari is on the UD women's basketball team. She has babysat and Olivia L.O.V.E.S. her. It was so fun to see Olivia and Kari holding hands as the walked around.

Another friend of ours, Melissa, is one of Quinn's crushes currently. They held hands and he even managed to get her to carry him around for awhile.

One of the highlights of the night was the game booth worked by the UD cheerleaders. They were so sweet to Olivia, who is enamoured by them.
They thought she was so cute that this cheerleader even gave O her pom poms that she uses in the game. To say O was excited is the understatement of the year.
She is going to take them with her the next time we go to one of Kari's games.

All in all, the night was magical. My kids had a blast and it was so fun to have them interacting with the great students we work with.
I really hope Christmas on Campus is something my kids have fond memories of for a lifetime.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I love the holidays. I guess most people do.

This year I've buried my head in the sand at the prospect of having a rough holiday season.

But you see, when the "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" song comes along and they sing, "In a year our troubles will be out of a year our troubles will be miles away...i know in a year we all will be together, if the *fates* allow..." makes me realize that a year ago I never would have imagined spending my first Christmas without my mom.

So far, I've done pretty well. There was a rough patch involving some sentimental ornaments that went up on my tree a few weeks ago. Then there's the idea of my dad being alone this year. But for the most part I've been able to keep my eyes focused on Christ and the true meaning and have gotten less hung up on trappings. I imagine my mom celebrating her *first Christmas* with Jesus himself (perhaps everyday is Christmas in heaven?)

And true to form as it has been for the past 6 months, it is me I'm feeling sorry for. And I'm going to risk sounding like the only child spoiled brat that I probably am, but I have had a sad time realizing no more stockings for me- and YES, I realize I'm 38 and was still getting stockings up until last year. My mom did an insanely/obscenely good job of filling a stocking (much to Steve's horror upon getting married.)

Yesterday my friend, Jenny, stopped by and dropped off this amazing basket of advent treats for me. Jenny is one of those friends that I have known for years. We met at church and over the years we have always had great intentions of spending more time together. But with kids and adoptions and busy lives, we go in spurts. Jenny showed tremendous amounts of love to me by preparing this basket full of treats and Bible verses because she thought of me and how hard it might be for me to go through this season. Honestly, I think Jenny realized it more than I did.

As I received this tangible act of love and kindness from Jenny, I also realized it was a tangible act of love and kindness from God. In some ways it feels like a Christmas stocking that my mom would have put together for me. And Jenny didn't even know that! That token of friendship from a friend that I don't even see all that often makes me want to be a better friend to people. Thank you, Jenny!! You have no idea how much it meant to me.

And as I explained to Olivia about the basket and why Jenny brought it for me (and that, yes, something does occasionally enter this house that is for ME and not THEM) I saw her wheels turning.

She came home from school today and had made me this picture. If you look to the far right there are two people. They are laying in bed and to the right of them is a red circle. That is a TV.

She drew a picture of herself and my mom (Bebe) laying in bed watching TV together. And to the left are *hearts*. You see for about the last year of my mom's life, when we would go and visit, there would be a lot of times when my mom wasn't feeling good enough to get out of bed. So their big thing to do was have O climb in bed and they would watch TV together. It was special for my mom and now I'm seeing maybe it was for O too.

Olivia said she drew me the picture because she knew I was missing Bebe and she wanted me to have something to remind me of her. Oh. My. Word. What a gift from my daughter. And she thought of that while at school. You can only imagine the tears. It might be the best present I get this Christmas. With a close second coming from Jenny. And it's only December 7th for crying out loud.

She also came home yesterday having drawn a family portrait. She even included Baxter in the far right corner (he's yellow with brown spots... artistic license I guess.)

I appreciate how thin she made me. Seriously, stop with the gifts already. A mama's heart can barely take it!

I love the detail, though. Turner has yellow hair, Quinn has black hair and she and I are wearing skirts.
Today my heart overflows with thankfulness sprinkled with some sadness. I guess that's just what life looks like these days.

Monday, December 6, 2010

In like a lion

It must be March, because I am officially done with winter! (Didn't take me long, did it?) I became *officially done* this morning when on my way to the Y, the DJ on our local All-Christmas-all-the-time channel announced that it was 12 degrees outside. Yep, stick a fork in me, I'm done!

Our weekend adventures didn't help in the "Yay, I'm so excited it's winter" department. This is the first year my kids are excited about the snow. Last year, I bought all three of them $30 boots and not one single one of them would even put them on their feet. This year? They ONLY want to wear their boots. (It helps when the boots are Spiderman boots that LIGHT UP. Oh I know, I can't even begin to describe the ugly, but hey, whatever works, right?)

They insisted on getting the sled out. You'll notice that Olivia had to pull the boys through gravel because there wasn't even snow covering the ground. Ugh.

We live about 100 steps from the park. Where at least there was a bit more snow. The boys had been begging to build a Frosty the snowman.

As you can see, the snow afforded only a Frosty the little person.

Despite the 1,000 things that are lousy about a 3 year old, getting excited about dumb stuff is not one of them. They could have cared less about how big the Frosty was, only that there was one!

How they even know about snow angels is beyond me. Turner thought he'd try his hand in the mulch angel department.

Olivia got the hang of it. And now that she is equipped with snow pants I was all for the laying down and rolling around in the freezing cold.
Just don't make me do it!

The finished product.
In case you're wondering, snow angels are much lovelier than mulch angels.

And to round out our perfectly pathetic homemade winter adventure, the kids went sledding down the *hill.*
You might not be able to see it from this angle, but trust me, the ground DOES make a slight if not gradual incline. Enough to get an enthusiastic "Wee" from Turner.
I know, it really is pathetic, isn't it?

But it's all good when you come back home, take off the 20 soaking wet and freezing cold layers, throw them in the middle of the floor for your mother to pick up, and drink some yummy hot chocolate (hold the marshmallows but make it a double on the whipped cream.)
Only about another 100 of these to go.
Come on little lamb, bring me into April, baby!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Right on cue

As if the weather knew that the calender flipped to December today, we woke up to flurries.

Small and delicate flurries. But snow nonetheless.

Olivia came home from school declaring she had made snowballs at recess.
I'm not sure what kind of snow balls she made from this stuff, but I've got some excited kids that's for sure.
The first snow is so magical.
Snow in March... not so much. Remind me in about four months of my early excitement as I'm cursing this stuff and threatening to move to Florida.
As for today, I'm sitting in my toasty home, listening to Christmas music and dreaming of a White Christmas. Loving every minute of it.