Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Little Helper

The Baby has learned to get Mama's attention whenever and wherever he can. Lately, he's been helping me with the laundry.

He likes to climb up on the dryer door and get the dry clothes out for me. Sometimes he crawls right in the dryer!

Don't I have the cutest help?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

School Days in the Nutty Forest

School has started here at the Nutty Forest Academy. If I haven't mentioned it before, I homeschool. Some days it's the proudest thing I do for my children. Everyday, it's the road less traveled. There isn't much support for homeschoolers. People think you're weird. But that's ok with me. I've been the weird one all my life. Why stop now?

We school around our farming schedule. Now is the best time to do school because the trees are resting up for the year. Dormant. Hibernating. So while they conserve energy, here in the house, we expend it like no body's business!

Homeschooling really fits our family. We get to sleep in. Take things at a slower pace. Enjoy each other more. When the Nutty Papa comes home from work, we aren't in a hurry to do anything but spend time with him.

My oldest two boys are really good friends because of this choice. They play together really well. And now, they are helping each other with school work. It makes me feel good to see them foster this friendship. After all, shouldn't you be best friends with your siblings?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Guilty Pleasure

I love Christmas cards! I send out my share of them too. Every year I look forward to filling up my Christmas card wreath. I almost run to the mailbox! And when I have to take it down, I feel a little sadness. Today's the day. But before I do, I thought I'd share with you some of the fun... relive it again.

This is my Christmas card wreath. My good friend Amy bought it for me when we were living in Alaska. We were shopping at Santa's House in the North Pole and I saw it. Later that day, she gave it to me as a house warming gift. And it warms my heart and home to this day.

In fact, hers is one of the Christmas cards I enjoy getting the most. She always sends two: one serious and one fun. That's the kind of gal she is. I imagine she'd rather just send the fun one but doesn't want to offend the serious readers she gets. So she humors everyone. (Here she's bragging about their recent move to Hawaii... pfft!)

Sometimes I get cards from friends telling me they've moved. And if I'm lucky, I get to see a picture of the family on their new porch!

Other times, I get pictures of my friend's kids and its a surprise. "They had another one?!? How exciting!"

Maybe I'll get a card from someone who shared our Santa. Remember my friendly cotton pickin' neighbor's muddy day? They clean up well!

This is a busy time of our lives... those of us with small children. And so we don't get to see each other too often. I love getting the cards that remind me so much of my girlfriend... "Man does she ever look like her Mom!"

Don't get me wrong. I love the non-picture cards too. They are often breath takingly beautiful with a great message of the season.

And I love people's creativity. I loved this one! It made me laugh. These friends are always so creative with their card too!

And once in a while I get a card from someone I haven't heard from in years and years and years. Those cards where I look and think, "Who IS that?" And when I realize it's a friend from high school, what a thrill! Especially to see how happy they are!

My favorite this year was from my sister. She dropped everything in her life to pursue a life long dream... working at Disney World. (or is it land... I can never remember.) Anyway, she gave up her teaching in Washington state and headed south. I think that's a great story! Knowing what you want from life and going after it! She's happily working at Disney and living her dream.
I love getting Christmas cards and updates! It's like the final chapter of a good book. I love ending my year with friends.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wishing You All Blessings for 2009

I didn't get any pictures taken for the New Year. We didn't do much. The boys played video games until midnight. We had some dear friends over for tacos and Wii. And then we all went to bed. It's a bummer being under a burn ban. I miss the fireworks.

But I couldn't continue, post one more blog entry, without wishing you all a Happy and Blessed 2009. I am often surprised when I hear someone mention they read one of my blog entries. It's an honor to have you as my friend to share this with. Thank you for all the support and laughs this year! I'm looking forward to seeing what new adventures 2009 brings for the Nutty Family and all of you!

Now, since this is officially the first day of school here at the Nutty Forest Academy, I'm off to educate the masses... or at least my little tribe. God Bless you!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Losing Control

Like I said before, my family likes to take their time opening gifts. That's how I remember Christmas. I don't have many memories of Christmas' with toys. And since I was the only one opening the gifts, I guess it seems like we took turns. In reality, My Mom probably sat back and let me tear into everything while she watched. So I guess I did know what everyone got, since it was only me. This year, I really wanted to enjoy watching my kids open their gifts. I wanted to see everything they got and enjoy it with them. When Chojuk was the only child, he would open a gift and want to play with it. So we had to take it out of the box and he'd sit there and play with his new toy for a while. When he finished playing with it, we'd show him another. He'd open it and want to play with that one too. It took forever. But as you add children to the mix, they don't want to wait for the other to open gifts. They just want to see what they got.

Needless to say, I lost control this year. The first gift was about everyone watching. But I soon noticed that the kids weren't watching their brothers or sister open a gift... they were searching under the tree for their next one! Notice the baby there... he just wanted to open everything! It was sheer chaos! But only for me. The Nutty Papa is used to that... and the kids enjoyed it too.

Let Chaos reign!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas with the Cows

We spent Christmas with my in-laws... The Nutty Papa's folks. They are great people. If I haven't already told you, the Nutty Papa is one of nine. Yep, 9. I'll pause briefly for you to make all the mental jokes and jabs you need to...

The Nutty Papa grew up in the country. I guess that's why pecan farming hasn't been so hard for him. Hard work is something he grew up with.

Christmas has always been his favorite time if the year. It's full of tradition for him. And when it's over, he has withdrawals. He loves being home. Being with his family. Doing what he's done every Christmas for as long as he can remember.

The best surprise of the season was his niece, Alicia. She's a Peace Corps worker and she came all the way back from Africa. She was trying to surprise everyone. But it's really hard to keep a secret in a family this big. But they kept it from us. When we walked in the door, there she was sitting at the table with Grandma and Grandpa. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. At first, I thought, "Hey! Alicia beat us down here." And then I went, "Wait a minute... she's living in Africa! What's she doing here?!?" It was a GREAT surprise. I loved staying up and listening to her stories and philosophies. She's one smart cookie and an amazing human being. She has a blog too. You can read it here.

Anyway, here she is participating in the first of the family traditions: The Christmas Ball. Everyone has a ball with their name on it. When you arrive, you hang your name on the tree. She's making a ball for our Baby. It was his first Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa.

The Nutty Papa is proud of his Christmas ball. His is the pink one. He likes that it stands out. I think someone recently added another pink name ball, but that's OK with him. His was the first.

My favorite part of Grandma's tree is her angel. It's handmade. Her Mother made it for her. See the red? It's from the bridesmaids dresses from Grandma's wedding. Isn't that creative! People don't take time to make things like this anymore. I wish I still had some fabric from one of my bridesmaids dresses. I might try and make me one.

One of the newer traditions is the cousin party. There are older cousins and younger cousins. The Nutty Papa's oldest 5 siblings' kids celebrate together as the "older cousins" and the kids from the last 4 siblings celebrate together as the "younger" cousins. The younger cousins got together this year to make crafts. Here is Aunt Deborah helping little Bayley with a craft. Aunt Deborah is good that way.

Chojuk painted a snowman. It's one of those stained glass things that hangs in the window. I remember making those... but they didn't have paint. They had teeny tiny little pieces of pre-melted plastic that you had to very carefully put in just the right place. I loved making them... but I remember being very frustrated when I'd put a color in the wrong place. This way is much less frustrating.

When Aunt Nancy and I hit the outlet mall at midnight on Black Friday, we found this cute little cardboard house. She set it up in her living room for the kids to color. They had so much fun with it! We imagined the boys would do their best to tear it down while the girls played around them. We weren't too far off.

The Snugglebug, however, completely enjoyed coloring it. He might have sat there all day and worked on that door... if people would have quit coming in and out of it. He sat there very patiently for about 20 minutes. He'd color, and then let someone in. And color, and let someone out. In and out. Back and forth. Finally, I think he realized that it was more fun to go in and out than to color and he gave up.

The Doodlebug was one of the main culprits going in and out. She and her littlest cousin, Naomi, just kept going in and out. They each had a window to stick their heads out. They'd open the window and yell, "Hello!" And then hide back in the house. It was a loud party.

At around 5pm, we all gathered in the converted carport. It was converted for Christmas to accommodate all the family members. The family has just outgrown the house. It makes a nice gathering room though.
Here is our resident heart throb, cousin Mark. All the girl cousins enjoyed having him there. I'm not sure he ever had a moments peace the whole evening. He left early the next day. I wonder why?

We gather at 5pm to read the story of Christmas and say the rosary. The bigger cousins read the story and the littler ones lead the rosary. They did a great job. Grandpa asked who wanted to lead and Chojuk shot his hand up in the air like someone was giving away free Wiis. He enjoyed using the beads to say his prayer. We haven't said the rosary too often but I can see it appeals to him. We'll have to work that into our school time.

After the Christmas story, the rosary, and a BIG family picture (which Aunt Nancy has... I'll share that later), we eat! Grandma is a great meal planner. She really knows how to feed an army of people. And it was good food!

The favorite tradition on Christmas Eve is the fireworks. See when you live out in the country, apparently you are worried about Santa not seeing your house. So they traditionally popped fireworks so Santa could find them. Funny thing is, he brings the gifst while they are popping fireworks. He's a sneaky dude. He gets in the house without being hit or seen by a firework! He's not as quick coming out though. Someone usually hears his bells ringing and all the kids go stampeding into the house to see what he brought.

This is where the chaos begins. In my little family of 3-6, we take time to open presents one at a time. We enjoy seeing what everyone gets and Oh-ing and Ah-ing at everything. It's nice. It really stretches the process out. We have been known to take 3 or 4 hours opening presents.

But when you have 42 all wanting to open gifts, there is no waiting. Everyone starts tearing into their gifts and you hear, "Thanks Aunt Carole!", "Thanks Aunt Beaty!", "Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!", "Thanks Aunt Suzanne!" And before you can catch your breath, it's over. I barely get any pictures. If I did, I imagine it would be of paper flying!

And when it's over, everyone walks around to see what everyone else got. The Snugglebug got a great gift from his Mama: an organized notebook of Pokemon cards. He was in heaven!

And the girl cousins sat right down and started to play. This is the last picture I took of the evening... we were all worn out! Another amazing Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa!