Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and he lived alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
And to see just who in this home did live.
As I looked all about, a strange sight did I see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone
Curled up on the floor of his one bedroom home.
He seemed so gentle, his face so serene -
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.

Was this the hero, of whom I'd just read?
Curled up on his poncho, a floor for his bed?
His head was clean shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
Owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas Day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year
Because of Marines like this one lying here.
I couldn't help but wonder how many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.

Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.
He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

With that he rolled over and drifted off into sleep.
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I didn't want to leave him so alone in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But as he rolled over, in a voice clean and pure,
said, "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day, all is secure."
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friends, Semper Fi and goodnight.
(I did not write this, and I am not sure who did. I give credit to an author unknown)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Santa Experience

We took the kids to see Santa yesterday. Let me just tell you, things have really changed since I was a kid. We used to stand in line, sometimes for a little while, see the man in the red suit, tell him what you wanted for Christmas and then we got a little candy cane or something. No more. Now what you have is called the "Santa Experience."

We arrived at the mall around 9 to make our appointment with Santa. Thats right, no more lines. Now he takes appointments only. And since we arrived not too long after the mall opened, I wasn't expecting a super long wait to see Santa. Wrong again. The next available appointment was at 1:17. Apparently some families arrived at 7 to make their appointment, a full 2 hours before the mall even opened. 

So, now we had a few hours to kill before we were announced to see Santa. We spent much of that time in Build a Bear, where the girls each picked out a new outfit for their bears. Grace even had her Papa fixed (he had a hole in his back). The nice bear surgeon even offered to give Papa a new nose since his had been lost long ago, but Grace decided that no nose suited Papa just fine. 

We then spent some time getting some shoes for Michael. I made a very valuable discovery when we got him measured. The boy has trailer park feet - as in double wide. This explained why he would NEVER keep shoes on and why it was so hard to find shoes that fit. Once properly fitted he was so happy, he didn't try and take them off once. 

By this time, a few Michael meltdown and some lunch later, we were just about ready for our appointment. We headed back to Santa's castle to wait our turn, and I started to realized my kids seemed to be very under dressed. All the kids were dressed in their best clothes - party dresses for the girls and nice sweaters and even ties for the boys. There were even an unfortunate few who has been made to dress up in elf costumes. Seriously. 

No matter, we were so excited to finally be announced. Michael was still not exactly thrilled, but the girls eagerly awaited to be introduced to Santa. Once announced, Grace jumped right up on his lap. Annabelle suddenly decided she didn't want to be anywhere near Santa, so we had to settle for her sitting on a reindeer in front of him. Luckily, Michael was so confused he didn't have time to have a fit. 

We opted against paying $60 or so for a photo package from the professional photographer that was on hand. I used my own camera and took pictures of my tired, under-dressed and, in Annabelle's case, completely uninterested kids. Add in some vomit and a leaky diaper or two and it would have been almost as fun as the 16 hour car ride to Michigan. This was our Santa experience.   

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Wonderland

After much anticipation, the girls were finally able to play in the snow. We were lucky to arrive in Michigan when we did, because we were followed by a huge snow storm. It wasn't good packing snow, so no making a snowman, but they still had a blast. Although, they are definitely not used to the cold weather because they sure didn't last too long outside.  Here are a few highlights...

Friday, December 12, 2008

This Blog is Rockin'

You will notice that the music is back. If you can't hear it, turn on your speakers. If you don't like it, turn your speakers off ; ) 

Or if you would like a different song from the playlist, scroll down to the bright green playlist on the right side of the blog and change it up. 

Feel free to tap your toes or sing along. 

Baby Einstein to the Rescue

Ridiculously high fevers, more tissues than I care to count, and an overall yuck and blah have fallen upon our house once again.  Miserable kids are one of my least favorite things, and when it happens I begin to look for things to make them even a little bit less miserable. 

Recently I received a package filled with Baby Einstein products. And originally I was going to tell you about how much fun these products are in general, because long before the kids got sick they were certainly enjoying watching the Baby Mozart DVD and dancing up a storm to the CD of Lullaby Classics. These products are ones that I enjoy with the kids, so many an hour has been clocked watching Miss Grace choreograph routines for Annabelle and her to perform. They love it, even though Michael is determined to get right in the middle of it all. 

But while searching for something to engage and soothe, I discovered that Baby Einstein is up to the challenge of entertaining my miserable, sick children. The music and images from the books, CDs and DVDs are entertaining, for Michael at 16 months and even for Bellie and Grace and 3 and 5. Even when nothing seemed to make them feel better, some how the soothing sounds of Lullaby Classics and Baby Mozart made things a little better, if even for a little while. 

When the kids are well, the CD provides the backdrop for some pretty fantastic dance routines in the living room.  But while under the weather, Lullaby Classics has helped calm them, and I have been playing it upstair when they go to bed. 

There is a huge assortment of Baby Einstein products available these day, ten years after it all began. I have never been disappointed with anything I have given the kids and now that I know how helpful Baby Einstein when the kids are under the weather, I am even more excited about their products. 

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mike's Farm - Take Two

This is Grace's class at Mike's Farm. This is the second time Michael and I have been there this fall. The first, loyal readers will remember, was with Annabelle when the farm featured pumpkins. Fast forward from Halloween to the Christmas season and now it is magically transformed into a Christmas tree farm.  Halloween decorations turned into Christmas lights, jack-o-lanterns into snowmen. Everything else - hayride, apple cider presentation, Granny, and Cowboy Earl - was EXACTLY the same. Although to be fair,  Cowboy Earl did add a Christmas song to his show. 
It was a nice time, but it was freezing and threatening rain all morning. We were lucky to be done before the rain finally came down.  Grace, Michael and I thawed out pretty quickly, but everyone had a very quiet afternoon. Michael napped for a whopping 5 hours. Yay naps.

Thursday, December 04, 2008