Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  Easter is a close second, but Christmas gets the top spot.  I think alot of it is because it is the one holiday that my extended family gets together and you can count on most everyone being there.  When I first met Collin one thing I was worried about was having to divide our Christmas time.  I couldn't bear the thought of doing an every other year thing with only one family.  Thankfully, that has never been an issue.  While my family has always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day, Collin's family always has their big celebration on Christmas Eve.  Add this to the fact that we live closer to his family and therefore we can be at our own house Christmas morning and it doesn't get more perfect.  We get to celebrate with both families, every year.  I realize just how lucky we are. 

We had four wonderful celebrations.  The pictures pretty much speak for themselves, but I've also added a few notes on things I don't want to forget from our 2010 Christmases.

Christmas Eve
Favorite site: Watching the boys lay by the tree watching Papa's Lionel Line train go 'round and 'round.
Delicious meal: Dumpling soup and mouth watering steak.
Christmas book: Santa, which was personalized with Keaton's name.  Collin was the narrator.
Present opening: Keaton running to Uncle Ben after opening each gift asking him to take it out of the packaging.
Funniest moment: When Keaton laid Baby Jesus in the manger and then snorted like a pig.  Apparently Baby Jesus snores.

Christmas Morning
Favorite site: Seeing Keaton's face after Collin told him someone had been here.  He was so tired after our Christmas Eve celebration that he didn't go as nuts as we expected when he saw his train set.  But, when Papa & Uncle Ben walked in the door a couple hours later he took them by the hand to come see his new toy.
Piggy Banks: The boys each got a new piggy bank, which is divided into 4 sections: spend, save, donate, invest.  We gave Keaton money to put into both his and Hutts.  He put all of his money into the "spend" bucket and put all of Hutt's into "Save". Hmmm....
Breakfast: Waffles.
Funniest Moment: After Keats got done looking at his train I said, What's over here? What did Hutton get? A toy box? And Keaton slapped his hand on it, looked up at me and announced "Dada!" (Apparently someone was downstairs during construction.)

Christmas Day
Favorite site: Watching Keaton and Jack run around the house chasing each other at the end of the night. 
Favorite sound: Hutton's giggle as he played with MaLinda and Emma.
Delicious meal: Lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and my Uncle Bryan's famous gumbo.
Present opening: Oh wow.  With seven great grand kids now it was a little insane.  Fun but insane.
Baby Jesus cake: Instead of our traditional birthday cake we had a decorate your own cupcake table.
The cuteness: The H bombs dressed up in their red Christmas sleepers (Kira and I did not plan this, but it was pretty great.)

Christmas the Day After
Since we celebrate with my extended family on Christmas Day, we celebrated with my immediate family the next morning.
The Christmas Spirit: Anyone that has been to my mom's house around a holiday knows how she goes all out with her decorations.  On Sunday morning I told her that her house was like a Winter Wonderland.  In every room you are surrounded by Christmas, which sounds like it could be gaudy, but I just find it homey.  You can't help but feel the Christmas spirit.
Favorite site: The boys playing together.
Breakfast: Our traditional egg casserole and cheese potatoes. 
Funniest moment: When mom came to the table and asked if anyone wanted anymore juice and Jack, from his highchair, bellowed JUUUUUUUICE!

Here's hoping all of your Christmases were merry!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


December 30, 2008

December 30, 2009

Today, on your 2nd Birthday (cheeeese!)

We're too busy celebrating for me to write a proper post, but that will be coming.  For now, Happy 2nd Birthday, Keaters! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back to Reality

We've had a really nice Christmas break.  Four straight days of celebrating with our families.  Four straight days of putting everything else aside and just spending time together.  It was needed.  But today, it was back to reality.  I headed back to work this morning and thankfully was able to stay focused the whole day (I never know what that first day back after vacation is going to be like.)

Around 4:00 I got an email from Collin with the subject line "shit" - he was asking me to come home.  He had come down with the stomach flu.  Of course he had already spent the day with the boys, so it's any one's guess as to who is going to get this next.  When I got home he went straight to bed and I wrangled children the rest of the night.  I forget how much help Collin is until he's not there.  Dinner was interesting, I fed Hutt his rice cereal while Keaton sat on my lap and ate the bowl of random stuff I could find around the house.  Grocery shopping should go to the top of the to-do list this week.

Other things on the to-do list, fix the headlight that went out on my car at 11pm on Christmas Eve.  Laundry.  Organize the Christmas gifts - this house looks like a tornado went through.  Laundry.  Start taking down Christmas decorations.  Laundry.  Start cleaning the house in prep for Keaton's birthday party the weekend after next.  Laundry.

I'm hoping to get a Christmas post up this week with pictures from our various celebrations.  Maybe tomorrow night?  I'm also hoping that everyone gets/stays healthy so we can celebrate Keaton's birthday on Thursday.  We were planning on a day at Chucky Cheese.  In two days my little boy is going to be two years old. 

Time goes by to fast.  I need to spend more time putting everything aside and less time doing laundry.  Just as soon as this house is clean...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Stress and Christmas Songs

So, the stress of this time of year has caught up with me.  I've been all nonchalant all week thinking, oh, it will all get done.  But guess what??  Tomorrow we have Collin's family coming over for dinner, the house is still dirty, I still have gifts to pick up....crap, I still have a gift to BUY, my last card is sitting in front of me (finally addressed), there are two more batches of peppermint bark to be made, and a grocery list to be written and purchased. 

I'm stressing out.

Since I can't think straight and surely can't form the thoughts I wanted to write about tonight (not to mention it's after midnight and I need to go to bed already!) let's talk Christmas songs instead. I love, love, love listening to Christmas music.  It goes on immediately following Thanksgiving and plays pretty much nonstop around here until Christmas is over.  My favorite Christmas CDs are actually from Victoria's Secret - which sounds weird, I know, but they are an awesome mix of songs.  Some of my other favorites....

...favorite funny Christmas song, which seems to always lighten my mood, is the parody of  The 12 Days of Christmas. With my favorite part being about the Christmas lights.  "One light goes out they ALL go out!" "Fine, you think you're so smart? YOU rig up the lights!"

...favorite "real" Christmas song is Do You Hear What I Hear?

...favorite song with Collin is Baby, It's Cold Outside.  It's like 'our song' you know, like when you were in high school. Are we the only weirdos with a Christmas song?  Wait...don't answer that. 

Okay, go.  I want to hear your favoriest Christmas songs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Show me your Christmas

Jayesel had this awesome idea to do a "show me your Christmas" - I love it because the sad part about this time of year is that we are so busy that we rarely entertain.  And if no one comes over, than no one sees our Christmas decorations.  And although Keaton's birthday is right after Christmas and his birthday party is shortly thereafter we'll likely always take the tree down before the party to make room for extra tables and general birthday party decor. 

So, here's a little peek at our Christmas!

I feel a tad bit guilty admitting this but I'm not too fond of decorating the tree. Wait. Let me back up.  I like decorating the tree AFTER the lights and garland are on.  Which means, basically, I like to hang ornaments.  Thankfully Collin doesn't mind doing the lights and garland so that is his task.  This year was fun because Keaton actually got into decorating with us.

You'll notice the finished product (prior to gifts making their way under there) is a little light on lights/garland/ornaments on the bottom half.  This has less to do with the kid and more to do with the cat.  Although she has never climbed it (thank God!) she does like to bat at anything and everything she can reach.  She also likes to ball up my tree skirt and send it skidding half way across the room.  

The ornaments are by far my favorite part.  Each one tells a story and I love reminiscing as they are unwrapped and find their home nestled in the branches.

This table is in the opposite corner of our Christmas tree in the dining room.

Moving into the living room is our entertainment center which displays all of my Pipka Santas.  My mom and I found Pipka on a trip to Door County, Wisconsin and I fell in love with her work. 

On that same trip my mom bought me this large Swedish Father Christmas.  I had to wait six months to actually receive it, but it was worth the wait.  It has since been discontinued and my mom is kicking herself for not buying one for her house.

She has also gotten me the smaller Swedish and Polish Santas.  I love pulling these out of the boxes and reading about the different Christmas traditions from our heritage (Me: Sweden, Collin: Poland).  On my Pipka wish list is a small German Santa and a large Polish Santa, which has also been discontinued. 

While we were pulling out Christmas decorations we decided to also pull out this grapevine tree.  My mom made it for me many many years ago. Actually, grapevine trees have become kind of a trademark in my family; my mom has mad them for a number of different people.  Ours needs a little help in the decorating department but I think it has found a permanent home next to the fireplace.

This is the Advent calendar we've been using with Keaton.  Though I admit it is pretty ugly it's the one that hung in our house growing up, so it has sentimental value.  Keaton LOVES to move the mouse and every time we tell him a "little elf has come to visit" (leaving candy, of course) he drops everything and runs to the mouse.

I also added a little holiday cheer to our mud room.  Can anyone tell me where I got these trees? 

I think my favorite Christmas decoration is our nativity set.  Keaton helped me put it up but knows that this is something we do not touch.  The other day I heard him fiddling around with it and I yelled from the kitchen "Keaton Bruske" and he came flying around the corner, hands in the air, as if to say, I didn't do it.  I hope that when my kids are old and grown just seeing this nativity will bring back fond memories of Christmas.

Our newest decoration this year (which I am so freaking excited about!!) are the boys stockings.  Mine and Collin's are still in progress and will be ready for next year - the boys were the ones I was most concerned about.  My mom made these and I think she did a terrific job. 

My original plan was to buy us all stocking this year.  We purposely waited last year because we knew we were pregnant and didn't want to buy something without knowing if it was a boy or a girl.  So when I asked Collin a couple of months ago what kind of stockings he'd like he said, why don't you make them?  After contemplating it I decided it was a good idea and asked my mom for help.  I got the idea to do our initials rather than names from SouleMama on this post. Unfortunately, like many things I asked my mom for help with we spent all of our time sorting through buttons and ran out of time to actually sew the stockings over Thanksgiving, so she took the project home with her.

Although she had to purchase the pattern and the material for the cuff the rest came from her stash.  The gray body of the stockings was an old wool skirt and the toe/heels were an old pair of wool pants.  The buttons were ones she had accumulated over the years and the lace detail was my Great Grandma's.  I could not be happier with the way they turned out and with all the family history that is sewn in them.

After mine and Collin's my mom said she has enough to do one more stocking.  When I heard this I started freaking out a little.  You mean I can only have one more kid?  She assured me we could make a fourth child a "different one." To which I told her No.  You can't make one child have a different stocking! My contingency plan is to convert mine and Collin's to kid stockings if need be and make new ones for ourselves.  Whew.  Huge sigh of relief. So apparently 5 is my ultimate max.  Beyond that there is not enough stocking material.  Nothing like family planning based on your Christmas decorations.

So! That's our Christmas.  I wish I could show you the outside but we're having some technical difficulties with the trees that are in front of our garage, they blew over in the snowstorm and fell out of their pots and well, they aren't really working right now.  And our front entryway hasn't been shoveled and heck if I'm tromping out there for pictures.  Maybe next year.  Hope you enjoyed.

Show me your Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Celebrating St. Lucia

It is four days before Christmas and like every other year I have yet to finish the shopping, wrapping, baking, and card sending.  I feel like I'm doing better than previous years, but I'm still not quite there.  In addition to those items I also have a number of posts that I planned to write before the big day.  So my goal this week is to write one a night.  Now, if someone would tell my children that eight o'clock is a nice bedtime (rather than 9 or 9:30!) that would be awesome!

Item #31 on my Life List is to incorporate traditions from our Polish, Swedish, and German heritages into our family life.  One of the traditions I've always wanted to celebrate (it was also on my winter Soul Season list last year - I'm to lazy to find the link, but trust me, it was there) is St. Lucia Day.  My mom is nearly 100% Swedish so I grew up knowing of the Tomte, and we had a couple of decorative Dala Horses, and every Christmas my American Girl Doll would be dressed up as St. Lucia.

In my Sweden: the culture book that Amanda gave me it says that in the Swedish culture the Christmas festivities last a month, beginning on December 13, St. Lucia Day.
"Saint Lucia, whose name means "light," was a saint born in Italy around 283 A.D. According to legend, Saint Lucia brought food to Swedish villagers who had nothing to eat on one of the darkest nights of the year. To help her find her way through the darkness, she wore a crown topped with candles.  To honor Saint Lucia, the eldest daughters in Swedish families wake up early in the morning on Saint Lucia Day, and dress in white gowns with red sashes and crowns ringed with seven candles. Then the girls walk through their dark homes and wake their families with songs about Saint Lucia."

My mom and her friend go to a St. Lucia breakfast every year so she helped me with the food planning for our first St. Lucia celebration and Keaton helped me with the food preparation.

We could not have a Swedish breakfast in this house without having Egg Casserole.  This also happens to be the breakfast we have on Christmas morning (or the day we celebrate) at my parents. It's also the breakfast we request every time we are going down to my Mom & Dad's.  We love this breakfast. Have you ever visited my parents for brunch?  If so, I'm sure you've had the egg casserole.

Keaton and I also made Scandinavian Almond Cake (OMG, SO GOOD!)

And gingersnaps.

I woke up early on Monday morning to finalize the preparations and finally got everyone up around 7 for breakfast.  We left the lights off and dined by candle light and I told the boys the story of St. Lucia.

Keaton was intrigued by her story, nodded his head in agreement and then asked, Ho, Ho, Ho? ::sigh::

But he learned how to dunk his cookie so all-in-all, it was a successful breakfast.

I look forward to making this an annual tradition.  To having the kids help me prepare our breakfast of goodies and sitting down and talking about the people and customs of our heritage.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dear Hutton: 5 Months

Dear Hutton,

You recently turned five months old. I remember when your brother was right around this age, 5-6 months, when someone told me that this was their favorite age. You are beyond the colicky infant stage and old enough that your personality shines with smiles and coos and giggles, yet you’re still young enough that you aren’t yet mobile and getting into things every two seconds. And at this moment your (almost two year old) brother is walking around the house screaming DADA! At the top of his lungs and so I’m going to add yelling to that list as well. I remember as she was telling me this I nodded my head in agreement.  I love all of these baby stages, but I have to admit this one, 5-6 months, is really great.

That personality of yours, it is really shining these days. The other day someone asked me if you and your brother have different personalities. Ha! I laughed, yes. And I told them, my oldest has my personality, Type A to the extreme, and the youngest? Well, sometimes we think he is smoking something he is so happy all the time. You have the biggest gummy smiles ever and people don’t need to give you much in order to get one, just a simple Hi and you smile and squeal. Sometimes your daddy and I joke with you and say “the snozberries taste like snozberries!” You won’t understand that now, but someday (when you are much, much older) we’ll show you Super Troopers and you’ll get it. Suffice it to say, you are a happy, happy boy. I’m so grateful for your differing personalities, while your brother keeps me grounded you keep me light hearted. It’s a nice balance.

You are not mobile yet; you really have no interest in rolling over. During tummy time you pop your head up and laugh at us and when you’re tired you lie down and suck on your fingers. And when you’re really really tired of it, you shoot your arms out to the sides and belly surf while you scream. However, you do have a new pastime. The exersaucer. We weren’t sure you were quite ready for it but you didn’t care for the swing or the bouncer so we gave it a shot this month. And it was a good idea. Just like your brother this is one thing that will hold your attention. Usually Keaton sits with you and plays and you stare so intently at him. It is so obvious that you are going to look up to him and want to do everything he does in a few shorts months. Your daddy and I are thankful for this discovery because it gives us a few minutes to change a load of laundry or make breakfast and get food on the table.

All-in-all I don’t mind your growing up and getting older. Each stage is new and fun and exciting; but there is one thing that I’m having a hard time with. This month we took a step backwards in the sleep department. At four months old you seemed to be getting closer to making it through the night and were only waking once or twice. It was right around the first of the month that things started to change. It happened to coincide with the time change and I thought that might have something to do with it; suddenly you were waking up more frequently and were harder to soothe in the middle of the night. We’ve had a few nights of scream fests, which really, you haven’t ever had so this was all a little strange. I’m not sure when it first crossed my mind that maybe you were growing out of co-sleeping, but I do know that I instantly pushed that thought from my head. It wasn’t until one morning when I was too exhausted to struggle with you that I handed you to your daddy and you didn’t stop fussing for him either when I said, okay, I’m just going to try it. I took you from him, laid you back down in your bed and just like that you were out. Since then when you wake in the middle of the night and stir/fuss I lay you down and almost every time it is exactly what you were looking for. I know you are getting older, I know this is the first of many times you will state your independence but buddy, I don’t necessarily like it.

At five months we have basically stopped giving you a nuk, you either spit it out or act as if it is choking you so we soothe now by rocking or bouncing or walking around. You are still drinking strictly breast milk but by the way you smack your lips when you see food I’m pretty sure rice cereal is in your near future. You have the heartiest laugh that sometimes I mistake you for your brother. You chew on your hands and love looking in mirrors. You have started to purposely grab things and have a killer grip, especially when you have my hair or neck. Yes, you like to grab people’s necks. You have deep blue eyes that twinkle when you smile and you are so ticklish, especially on the bottom of your feet.

You fill my heart with joy, Baby Boy.
I love you,