Monday, December 27, 2010

Walking in a Frozen Farmland

Christmas at home

We opened gifts together as a family this year a few nights before we headed off to Crookston. The agenda for the evening was 1. Open Gifts, 2. Eat Christmas dinner, and 3. Watch the movie The Nativity Story.

This year, gift opening was a very rewarding experience. Satisfying for the kids and affirming for the parents. You know it is NOT always this way, so we savoured the experience :).

We gave Esther and Hope a wooden dollhouse, and Esther opened the matching dolls with Eva's expert assistance.

Eva had a very specific list of desires for Christmas this year, including jewelry, make-up, and an American Girl doll. From us, she received a pretty little necklace and her American Girl doll, Josephina. The doll has been on her wish list for several years, but we always said she had to wait until she was five years old. It is sort of a rite of passage, one that she has been dreaming about for a long time! She actually saved her money since last summer when we told her that she would be able to get her doll this Christmas. I paid her one penny for each weed she pulled from our yard, garden, and flower beds. After the summer of weeding and a few other odd jobs, she ended up with $24.70. That is a lot of weeds!!!

Her response to opening the doll was a crazy arms flailing, high-knees dance with lots of screaming and overall elation. (makes parents feel falsely affirmed...good parents buy their children expensive dolls :) So far, she has done a good job caring for her and protecting her from Hope and Esther.

The necklace was also well received, and well protected in a musical jewelry box that came as a gift from Grandma Patenaude.Esther-P totally lived it up during the gift opening. She loves tearing through the paper, with plenty of high pitched squeals and laughter!
Hope was overjoyed by the dollhouse gift, which she demonstrated by hugging and kissing the box over and over again. I am also in love with the doll house (I've wanted to buy one since Eva was a baby), and I'm sure it will be one toy purchase I won't regret. Grandma and Grandpa Patenaude gifted Esther and Hope with much of the furniture for the house when we got up to Crookston, so hours of fun will be coming our way!
We snapped one family picture in front of the tree before all the craziness began, and for once everyone looked at the picture. Not all smiling, but pretty good for us!
Merry Christmas from our little family!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Feliz Navidad a Todos

Many Memories Tree Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Surprising Friday Afternoon Discovery

***my apologies to all of you who have heard this story already since we've been jabbering about it so much.***

So, here's a little story for you. About three years ago, Eric and I (and Baby Hope) took a road trip to Montana. Eva stayed with Grandma Patenaude in Crookston. It was nearly Eva's birthday, so Grandma took her shopping at Wal-Mart. Eva picked out a little doll. Later, Grandma apologized to me for buying the doll since it is the annoying variety that talks and moves. We sometimes joked that it was the "possessed" doll because even when it was turned off sometimes it would spout out baby gibberish.

Well, the doll hasn't been much of an issue until today... My friend Sarah was picking up her two girls who had playing at our house and she heard the doll "talking". She immediately picked it up and listened again. "Do you hear that???" She made me listen to the doll a few times, then she said, "It's saying 'Islam is the light!' ". Sure enough, after I listened to it again I heard it... hidden between the "mama" and other gibberish. My personality would be to ignore it, especially since we've had the doll for three years and never noticed, but this time my curiosity was aroused.

Later, I googled "Fisher Price doll says Islam is the light" and came up with tons of links! Eeeek!!!!! Of course there are the super conservative fundamentalist crazies who ranted about One World Order and how Obama is the Antichrist, but mostly a lot of people just felt cheated and deceived by a company hawking a seemingly harmless baby doll. Targeted at two year olds.

As my mom commented, we must be "Wise as serpents, and gentle as doves", and I guess that applies to even the ubiquitous stash of plastic that fills our kids' shelves.

Entertaining certainly. Disturbing probably. Enraging maybe. Annoying for sure.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzard Adendum

Well, we got a lot of snow over the weekend (around 20 inches at our house). As I mentioned, we stayed the weekend with our friends in nearby Minneapolis, only blocks from our friend Hannah. Dear Hannah had a humdinger of a weekend! While she was struggling against the weather, Aaron, Bethany, and I decided to walk 6 blocks to Walgreen's. Our walk was anything but ordinary, trudging through snow that was at times as high as our hips. Though the temperatures were frigid, all the hard work of walking kept us dripping with sweat! Anyway, as we walked, we repeatedly encountered people in sketchy situations trying to drive somewhere or just park their cars. On every block we had the opportunity to help dig out or push some body's vehicle. It was madness and chaos! So, I won't write out the whole long tale of our walk, but if you check out Hannah's story you'll get an idea what an afternoon stroll in blizzardy Minneapolis looks like. Thankfully, we had headed out "just for the fun of it" and weren't actually fighting with the storm or it's inconvenience!

"A Bulwark Never Failing"

Name that tune! If you're a hymnal buff or attend a Reformed church, you probably know it. Yes, the hymn writer is talking about God. Today, however, I will be primarily talking about our home. The phrase preceding "a bulwark" is "A mighty FORTRESS is our God." Truly, He is a mighty fortress and a bulwark never failing (can I get an amen?!?). And our house? I suppose you could say it is an allegory pointing to God....

I'll let the pictures explain- See, this is our front curb. Do you notice the wall of snow (it's not really obvious or anything :) ? Let's take a look at some of the other houses in our neighborhood.

Lots and lots of snow, but no bulwark.
Quite a lot of snow, almost a bulwark, but not quite like this: If you haven't heard, we were blasted with a pretty good snowstorm this past weekend. Epic, really :). Halfway through the day on Saturday the plows were pulled off the road, the buses sent to the garage, the airport closed (first time since the Halloween Blizzard of 1991), and the Metrodome roof collapsed. As one twitter fan commented, "proof that God really does hate the Vikings." Ha!

We were silly enough to think the storm would quickly pass, so we spent snowy Friday night at the Darling's house. Really, we should've hightailed it home while we had a chance. By Saturday morning it was pointless to try. We ended up staying until Sunday afternoon. When we finally got home, our yard was peacefully hibernating under a three foot thick blanket of snow. Sitting in the van, I was eye-level with the top of the drift. The girls and I cruised the neighborhood for an hour while Eric worked to make a path to the door.

After a quick dinner of leftovers, Eric headed back outside to continue his quest to conquer nature. When he finally came inside at 10:00 pm, I had to laugh. He had stacked the frozen blocks of snow around the perimeter of our sidewalk and the curb to create an incredible castle wall. You can imagine our little "princesses" are thrilled! We're calling the snow wall our "fortress", and although it is a little embarrassing to see all the passing cars slow to a crawl to observe the spectacle, it was a lot cheaper than an extravagant display of Christmas lights! When I asked Eric "WHY?", he gave lots of reasons. I think the real motivating factor though was the remains of a boyish fascination with Legos. Who wouldn't want to spend 6 hours in sub- zero temps building with large blocks of snow??? He slept really well last night.

This year will be a snowy one, I think it's fair to say. Our poor short-legged daughters will have a hard time playing in the white fluff, but they will have fun navigating the corridors of our fortress. Even the connecting mailman paths make for a nice meander.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Gumball Girls (and their parents)

I've wanted to post some photos that my sister took of our family last summer for a long time, but just haven't gotten around to it. Now that I'm actively thinking about Christmas cards again, I'm thinking of these pictures too. Hindsight is always 20/20 right? So, for the next time we take family photos, I am going to avoid the gumball effect (my sister calls these "my little pony" colors), and probably not allow the little bows (that was NOT my idea). In my golden years I'll cherish their little faces, no matter what color they were wearing!

That's why we called her "Pebbles" :).

Thanks Sis for taking these pictures and puting up with the Crazies! And you know they were crazy!!!

I'm having CARDiac arrest!

So, there is a big fat awesome deal available to anyone out there with a blog. is offering 50 free holiday photo cards to any blogger who blogs about their amazing products. I have in fact used Shutterfly a few times to print photos, and I have been perfectly pleased with the quality, timeliness, and price. I would use them again! And now, because of this super deal, I will for sure be using them again. Here are some of the cards I'm considering...
because we just might get a great photo of each of the girls AND the whole family unit...
because we probably won't end up with a photo of all 5 of us that is worth sending out, but the girls are always cute...
because these two girls are so stinkin' cute it doesn't matter that a picture of us wouldn't have the same effect...because I love this font and the retro feel.

So, now you see some of the Christmas card options at Shutterfly, and actually there were 803 choices. You're sure to find something that fits your fancy.

I am also considering two other orders from Shutterfly this year. First, the photo calendars. I used to scrapbook these cute little calendars for my mom each Christmas. I think I had a solid run of three years in a row, which is pretty good for me! Then, last year I was bored with scrap booking. Also, I was busy. Also, I was uninspired. Also, it takes many steps to complete the whole thing. So, I gave my dad a calendar of vintage tractors instead (true story), which hangs on the wall in the sacred grandkids-calendar spot now. I am pretty sure that was a let down under the tree :). Perhaps it will be a Shutterfly calendar this year!

Second, the canvas wall art photos. Doesn't that sound like a cute way to decorate, especially a kid's room or a space that might get a lot of traffic??? No frame and glass to get bumped and fall to the floor and break (as happened in the girls' room last week), no deliberation over which frame and the time spent framing a photo. I like it.

Now, Shutterfly isn't paying me to jabber on about their great products, but they are offering 50 free photo cards. Pretty much worth it, I'd say! And like I said, I have been utterly satisfied with everything I've ordered in the past.

If you have a blog and would like to participate in this promotion, click here.