Advent

Each year after the turkey has been consumed, Christmas goes up in our house. It felt appropriate that we put it up on the first day of advent this year.

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Our advent calendar is from Naptime Diaries.

Today I taught my 2nd and 3rd grade Children in Worship class about Advent and what the people in the Bible were waiting for. They didn’t know they were waiting for Jesus; they just knew they were waiting for someone to show them the way…someone to save them.

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I really, really love this time of year. Most of the year I consider my faith and understanding of it shaky at best. It’s so hard for me to believe because I am so very afraid. But that is maybe a different post. This time of year is all about hope.

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Hope for a better world and better people and better choices. Hope that it’s all true and that Jesus came and will come again.

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I don’t know where factual truth ends and where symbolic allegory begins. I don’t know what is historic or scientific. This time of year reminds me what faith is all about. Believing even though you can’t see with your eyes.

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The waiting time of Advent slows it all down. It forces me to reflect each day on what it must have felt like to wait and wait for a Messiah, because really, we are waiting for that now.

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I watch the news and see this world. I have felt loss and witnessed despair. But as we enter Advent, I remember that this is not it. This is not how it’s going to be forever.

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I am glad for this time of reflection and peace and tradition. I love to take this time to teach the kids about how love will always win.

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Plus this is our first Christmas as a complete family.

And that is pretty cool too.

stupid halloween

So I hate Halloween.

Yup. There it is.

Oh, I have tried to love it.  I have.

As  kid, it was fun to dress up for the Halloween party that we had in school.  In my memory we took half the day just getting our costumes on and asking our teachers to zip, snap, and attach necessary parts to our costumes that our moms had sent along in a plastic bag. Those poor teachers also had the duty of smearing on the make up our moms sent and spraying the color in our hair that we brought in an aerosol can.

We had fun games, dunked our made up faces in a bucket of water in hopes of getting an apple that other people’s face had been on, and then marched around the school for everyone to see our costumes.

After about 3rd grade, the fun wasn’t as fun anymore.

We didn’t have the money for fancy store-bought costumes and because we started discussing costume ideas about three days before Halloween, our costumes usually involved jeans and my dad’s hunting camo make-up stuff (I was a witch for many, many years in a row).

Even in college I never really cared about dressing up for Halloween parties.  It was too much work to be too uncomfortable.  And if a normal Sunday morning was somewhat “rough”, the day after a Halloween party was horrible because it usually involved doing laundry to get fake blood, hair color,  sweat, and beer out of your pillow case.

Just not worth it.

As a full-fledged adult living on my own, I thought Halloween was cute for exactly one year.  The first year I lived in our current house and was able to hand out trick or treat candy.  Growing up, we lived out where there were just no trick or treaters (we went to my cousin’s neighborhood to trick or treat).  The next year I realized that giving out candy is not all that awesome since I am not really a fan of grabby children.

I thought maybe my attitude would change once we had kids.

Eddie’s first Halloween was sort of nice. We dressed him up, took him to see his Grandmas, and then came home.  We successfully missed the trick or treaters and we didn’t have to actually go out trick or treating.

Eddie’s second Halloween was Ok too since there was no real trick or treating.  He did two houses and then was done.  And again, I sort of ignored trick or treaters.

Eddie’s third Halloween had all the signs of Halloween going bad. He was excited up until the actual day. Then he hated his costume, didn’t want to say trick or treat, was scared of everything…it ended in tears.

This year was the culmination of all the yuck about this “holiday”.

First, we picked our pumpkins out at the last minute, I didn’t bring my big camera to the “patch”, and Eddie was the pits during the carving so everything went so fast there was no time for action shots…or finished product shots.

even Charlie was angry about it all.

he wanted to actually carve so badly, but, well…he’s 3. knives were not happening. but tantrums were.

And then there was the actual day.  Halloween was on a work night so Cort had to rush to daycare to pick up the boys early, and I had to rush home from helping students after school (did I mention this week is the end of the first quarter? SO BUSY WITH ALL THE THINGS). Then we flew through dinner so quickly I am not even sure any of us tasted it.

In a blur of Cort cleaning up dinner and my getting the boys in their costumes we were out the door by 5:45pm to hit up the grandma’s houses to show off the boys and for them to collect their treat bags.

At least they are cute!

When we got back just before 7pm, I had barely turned the porch light on and the trick or treaters descended upon our house like moths to a flame. Cort took Eddie out into the neighborhood.  I should mention that Eddie whined the entire car ride from my mom’s house to my mother-in-law’s house about eating candy. And then whined from my mother-in-law’s house all the way to our house.  And then whined when we made him go potty before trick-or-treating. It was awesome.

Oh wait. no. It was not.

tiny tiger with a big growl…er…cry. every time he was forced into a car seat.

Eddie caught on to the trick or treating thing like a boss according to Cort.  Not surprising since he would do just about anything for a bite of chocolate. Including giving away his baby brother (which is why Charlie stayed home with me).

he wasn’t a fan of the stick on mustache, so I drew him one…apparently he was “creeper” mario.

When Eddie got back from trick or treating, he handed out candy to a few kids that came by before we turned off the porch light so we could do bedtime.  His costume was a huge hit with all the older kids.

After the Mario costume came off? All that whining he had been doing suddenly seemed like angelic singing compared to the all out devil tantrums he started throwing at bedtime.

That child didn’t finally stay in his bed without tears or fits until close to 10pm.

And mommy had to take an extra anxiety pill so she wouldn’t explode all over the house with ugliness.

Stupid Halloween.

Oh, and then to make it all just right?  Eddie puked at daycare this morning.  After having him home for the rest of the day, it has been determined that the puke was due to over-tired, over-excited, over-sugared.

Stupid Halloween.

The cuteness almost makes it all worth it. almost.

I’m chalking this year’s ugliness up to Eddie’s age and trying to cram too much in.

Next year, we may have to skip the grandmas and just do some trick or treating.  Because I just can’t handle it all.

I am not the mom who is awesome at Halloween.

I can accept that.  Hopefully my kids can too and they make friends with the kid whose mom is.

Reflections on 33

You may have noticed that my birthday is kind of special to me.

I love it.

And Cort always makes sure my birthday is special.

There were three birthdays in a row (29, 30, and 31) that I was pregnant.

When I turned 29, I was pregnant, but no one knew.  And it didn’t stay.

When I tured 30, I was pregnant again, and again no one knew.  We didn’t tell.  Cort made the day very special for me, even though I ended up losing the baby less than a month later.

When I turned 31, I was again pregnant.  This time, VERY pregnant with a little bun named Eddie.

Last year, when I turned 32, my wonderful husband and my best friend decided I deserved a huge celebration to make up for the past three birthdays of laying low. And last year Cort and my parents bought me the best gift ever.

This year there were no trips or expensive dinners.

There were no huge surprises or massively extravagant gifts.

This year was a year of friends, family, and my little boy bringing me a small gift.

I got to have dinner with my best friend, Erin and my wonderful husband.

I drank something called a “Flirtini”.  It had champagne in it.

I was able to have game night with friends who may as well be our family.  Who we consider our family.

this game? is so much awesome.

They jumped out and yelled surprise at us when we walked through their door.  Ben cooked one of the best dinners ever.  Trisha made the yummiest cuppie cakes.  Their boys played with my boy.

three candles because 33? is too many.

and we laughed…and we ate…but mostly we laughed.

Even if Ed wasn’t thrilled to go to bed there at first.

On my actual birthday…

I slept in.

I woke up to:

“Let’s go find Mommy.  No…wait…Ed…not yet!”  <insert paper ripping noise here>

<insert spazzing toddler here>

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOMMY!!!

Two happy boys in PJs…

A venti starbucks latte…

An apple charm for my bracelet…

And a pile of snuggles and kisses and hugs.

I had dinner with my whole family around me:

Mom, Dad, Chris, Sarah, Jack, Henry, Mike, Ashley, Cort, and Eddie.

My favorite meal: Homemade chicken salad and blue berry muffins

The homemade ice cream cake I have ever year…

And a little bit of help from a little boy with my presents…

and with my candles…

I am pretty sure that 33 is going to be the best year ever.

Matching double digits.

Two Three’s.

33.

Lucky 33.

It’s going to be good.

The Yelling Contest

Five people around one table.

A meat, a veggie, a starch, and a fruit.

No utensils in the dishes…no passing…fend for yourself.

brothers on one side, me and mom on the other, dad at the head.

The kitchen is warm–so warm that the large front windows behind my brothers are foggy with steam.

There is the usual grumbling of what we each see that we are not a fan of.

There is the usual reassurance by my mom that we do, indeed, like those things.

“How was school?  What did you do? How was your math test?”

grumble grumble grumble grumble.

Discussion becomes just between Mom and Dad.  Work.  Boring.

Bored siblings start in on each other.

“Did you wear that shirt again?”

“Yeah, what’s it to you?”

“It’s stretched out.”

“So is your face.”

giggles.  “So is your MOM’S face.”

milk out of someone’s nose.

“you’re so stupid.”

“you are.  loser.”

“kids…that is not nice.  That is NOT how we talk to each other.”

“But mom, he wears that shirt every. single. day.  And he wipes his nose on it.”

“I’ll wipe my nose on YOU!” He flares his nostrils of doom at me.

“THAT’S IT!  YOU KIDS WILL EAT YOUR DINNERS AND QUIT BEING SO MEAN TO EACH OTHER!”

“Gross dad, food came out of your mouth.”

“I MEAN IT.”

Everything is quiet except for the scraping of silverware on plates.

“I need the butter.”

“your MOM needs the butter.”

giggles.

“oh guess what!  We did chair tryouts today and I moved up to 6th trumpet…from 10th, but I’ll probably still sit at 9th because Holly is still 10th”

“that is dumb”

“you’re dumb”

“that is great, honey”

And suddenly everyone is talking.  One louder than the other.  Competing for their space and recognition.

At the time?  I hated being forced to sit down five nights a week at five o’clock in the evening with no TV for dinner with my annoying family.

Now as adults?  My brothers and I beg my mom to have family dinners.  We miss the times together.

Are we any different than we were 20 years ago?  Not at all.  The same tired insults and come-backs fly from our mouths.

We still laugh at the ridiculousness of each other.

We still pick on each other.

My brother still makes jabs about how my mom makes a salad (but he eats it anyway…and I suspect she keeps making it that way because otherwise what would he bitch about?)

My mom jokes that it is hard for her to believe that we are all adults because dinner time?  Has not changed at all.

Dinner with my parents and my brothers make me happy in a way no one can really understand.

To an outsider–we are yelling and hating on each other.  Just ask Cort about the first time he sat down for dinner with my family.

But now when my brothers bug him about cutting up all his meat into little, bite-sized pieces before eating?  He slings the mud right back at them.

And we all laugh.

I hope to give this to my children.

I hope family dinner time is something we can keep up.

Because sitting face to face with your family and knowing what is going on in each other’s lives builds something.  It builds family.  It builds trust.  It builds togetherness.

Even when you’re busy picking on your brother’s weird nostril flare.

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’twas the night before christmas

We were never first, but we were never last either.

As soon as we arrived, my brothers and I would join the cousins in ooo-ing and ah-ing at the Christmas tree and at our stockings that “somehow” ended up at Grandma’s house.

We would dance back into the kitchen where the chairs had been taken from the table so that we could access the feast of delicious from all sides.  There was always crab dip (auntie Barbie made that) and shrimp cocktail (thank to auntie Lois) and lots of yummy treats (auntie Sandy spent loads of time baking) and then there was a giant cheese ball (my mom is famous for it). And so much more.

On the counter one of the uncles (or all of them) would be carving the turkey.  I can still hear the electric knife sawing away at the bird.  Like a good Dutch family we had buns that someone had cut to put our turkey on.  Further on the counter near the door was a selection of boozes and of course, homemade whiskey slush.

It was so loud in that tiny kitchen as we waited for the last of our cousins to arrive.  Whenever someone new came through the door shouts of “heeeyyyy!!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!”  would ring through the house and hugs and presents and winter coats and wet boots would fly around my short head.

It was unavoidable that our stocking feet would step in a puddle of melted snow from the boots of our dads and uncles who were bringing in piles of gifts to be added under the tree.

At this point we were under all the adults feet yelling, “now? now?  NOW?!!!???”

And they would give in and we would tear into our stockings.

Lifesaver books, pens, crayons, jammies, large plastic candy canes filled with green and red m&ms, small dolls, and matchbox cars.  And always, ALWAYS an orange in the toe.

We would fill up our brown paper bags with our names on them comparing with each other as our parents shoo-ed us into the TV room to stash our things until after dinner.

Dinner was a plate of snacks and some turkey and a soda.  The only time it quieted down was when someone would say Grace.  And even then there was usually a fussy toddler in the background.

After dinner it was time for the Christmas tree.  Every single one of us would cram into Grandma’s small formal living room.  There was barely enough room for us let alone the multitude of gifts flowing out from around the tree.

The grandkids went first:  oldest to youngest which meant I was always third.  I was third after my cousin, Jenise.  Whatever she got, I hoped I would get something similar.  She was the epitome of cool to me.  And more than likely?  She and I would get the same thing from my Grandma and we would talk about it and tease our younger cousins for the rest of the night.

It was magical.

We always brought our  jammies to Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve because it was loooong past our bedtime when we left.

It was the perfect start to Christmas.

Grandma isn’t around anymore.  She has been gone for almost a decade.

My family has kept the Christmas Eve tradition alive in our own way, but since getting married, I have had to split that time between them and my new family.

This year will be the first year we only go to Cort’s mom’s house.  This is important to me.

I want Eddie to have the wonderful memories of racing into his Granny’s house on Christmas Eve, being surrounded by his aunts and uncles and cousins (someday…hopefully next year!) and bursting with excitement for the joy of Christmas and the magic it brings.

I will surely miss my extended family on Christmas Eve, but we will be building lasting traditions and magic of the season for Eddie.

Sigh…

Merry Christmas to you all.  And to all a good night.

What She Wants

It seems, in my mind, that it was always cold and slushy and snowy.  My brother and I would pile on our winter coats, hats, scarves, mittens, and boots and let our dad buckle us into his car.

I don’t remember when this started nor can I remember when it ended.  I can’t ever remember my littlest brother going with us, so by the time there were 3 of us, dad must have decided that taking us individually was a better idea.

Anyway, there was a time when Chris and I always went with dad to choose our Christmas gifts for our mom.

Like I said, it seems that we were always traveling through driving snow and sloshing our boots through the wet slush as we traipsed through the parking lot and sidewalks.

One year in particular I can vividly remember being downtown in our small town with my dad wandering from shop to shop.   We eventually ended up in a tiny store, which isn’t there anymore, that was filled with knickknacks and paddywacks galore.  If you wanted a frame or a sconce or a glass lion to set on your end table?  This was your store.

I can still remember feeling the warmth as we walked in as the bell on the door jangled.  The smell of cinnamon and potpourri filled my small nose and head.

In my memory my brother has already found his gift for our mom.  It was all up to me.  My lack of decision-making abilities was what was between us and home.  But this is where I would find mom’s gift.  It was so lovely in here.

I remember looking everything over, and asking my dad what he thought.

In typical dad-style, he turned the question back on me, “but what do YOU think?”

I would pick up a trinket and he would unconvincingly shrug and say, “If you think that is what she would want…”

It drove me crazy even at that age.  I just wanted an opinion.  He wasn’t trying to be difficult; he wanted me to pick for myself.

Finally I walked up to a small artificial Christmas tree that had lots of ornaments on it.  I looked each over carefully and came up on this:

In my young mind this was the perfect gift for my mom.  She would be delighted as she pulled it from the box on Christmas morning and held it up for all to see by the thin, gold loop.  She would place it high on the tree.

“What do you think, dad? Isn’t this perfect?”

“I don’t know, Kate.  Is there another one?  This one has a broken wheel and the glue is showing all over the place.”

I searched the tree.  Many of the ornaments had twins and triplets scattered about, but not the little bear.  He was one of a kind.

“This is the only one.”

“Why don’t you pick a different one.  One that is a little nicer.”

“No, dad.  This is what I am getting mom.”

I brought the small trinket up to the counter, and my dad said, “well if you think she’ll like it,” as he pulled out the crisp dollar bills from his soft wallet.

After getting it home and wrapped and pushed under my bed, I worried.  What if mom didn’t like it?  What if dad was right?

Christmas morning came.  Mom opened her gifts.  She ooo-ed and ahh-ed at my little choice.  I was so pleased.

My dad announced that I had chosen it all on my own.  Mom was impressed.

At some point my brother stopped coming along to shop for my mom for Christmas.  But I always went with my dad.  Even when I was in college, he and I would climb into his truck and head out to pick the perfect gifts for my mother.

Each item that I would find he would say, “if you think that is what she will like.”  I would assure him it is on the list, and that yes, she will love it.

Each time we would find our way to the register and he would remove his soft wallet from his back pocket and finger the crisp dollar bills he got from the bank being sure not to give the cashier two that were stuck together.

He would gather up the bags and we would head to our next stop.

Last year my dad didn’t ask me to help him shop for my mom.  Admittedly I would put up a stink about it each year and give him some grief for not being able to shop for his wife on his own, but I would always go.

When I asked him last year when he wanted to go, he responded, “I’m done.  I already went.”

“Why didn’t you ask me to come along?”

“You always say I need to do it myself.  Besides, you have your own family now.”

I was taken aback, and sort of sad that our father-daughter tradition had ended.  Just like that.

This past weekend I asked my dad if he had his shopping done yet.  He laughed and said he hadn’t started.

“Well, I have next week off you know, dad.  If you need any help.”

“Really?  I’ll keep that in mind,” he said.

I hope he does.

Top Ten Tuesdays: Holiday Food

Family, friends, decorations, peace on earth, blah , blah, BLAH!

We all know that from Thanksgiving through New Year’s it’s really all about FOOD!  I really don’t want to know how much sugar, butter, chocolate, and cream cheese I got through in that month’s time.  It’s pretty obscene.  And it makes it VERY clear why most people throw their diet out the window this time of the year.  I mean, who can say no to these yummies?

That is why this week Sluiter Nation is counting down our Top Ten favorite holiday foods.

#10 Homemade Caramel Corn

Oh my…YUM!  This is the most buttery, yummy caramel corn I have ever had in my life!  Each year my mom would make at LEAST two batches of this treat for us.  And now that I have my own little house and family, I make it too…and boy is it a hit!

And just because I love you all so much, here is the recipe:

2 cups (or a little less) of popcorn (not microwave)

pop the popcorn and set aside in large bowls for later.

In a saucepan on the stove bring the following ingredients to a boil:

2 cups of brown sugar

1 cup of butter (or margarine)

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

1 teaspoon of salt

boil for 5 minutes while continuously stirring.

After five minutes remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

mix until fluffy

pour mixture over popcorn and mix

spread mixed popcorn on REALLY greased pans and bake for one hour at 250 degrees.  Stir every 15 minutes

cool on waxed paper and then enjoy!

#9 Christmas Cookies

I already told you guys about our Christmas cookie making extravaganza here.  It’s a great tradition we have.

#8 Banket

First of all?  I don’t like almond-flavored things, but Cort LOVES it.  Banket is a Dutch treat that my Grandmas both used to make.  In fact, I have to use my Dutch cookbook.   Mine never turns out very pretty, but Cort always says it’s yum.

#7 Peanut Butter Balls

This one is another fan favorite at our house.  Every year I hand roll the peanut butter balls and then hand dip them in chocolate and then hand shove them into my mouth.  Nom nom nom.

#6 Puppy Chow

I make about three batches of this every holiday season.  People LOVE it.  My sister-in-law could live on it, and I have seen my friend Trisha eat it until she felt sick.  It’s that delicious.  For anyone who has never had this?  I feel VERY sorry for you.  It’s yum.

#5 Tortilla Roll-ups

This one isn’t a sweet treat and I don’t have a picture since I am making them Friday for a holiday party, but they make a yummy little appetizer plus?  they are the easiest thing EVER to make.  All you do is spread a mixture of veggie cream cheese and relish on a tortilla, add dry beef, roll it up, slice it so they look like little pinwheels and stick a tooth pick in for easy eat-ability.  Yum on a stick.

#4 Buffalo Chicken Dip

Again, I don’t have a picture of this, but it’s such a great dip to bring along to your holiday parties this year.  Not only is it addictive (which means you won’t have to take leftovers home), but it makes people want to drink…um…refreshments (which means the party will be super fun and entertaining).  And yes, it has cream cheese in it.  Duh.

#3 Cream Puffs

This one was my father-in-law’s favorite treat.  I used to make them for our holiday get together with him every year upon his request.  After he passed, I didn’t make them for a couple year because I just couldn’t bring myself too.  But last year, my sis-in-law and bro-in-law requested I bring back the tradition.  So again, I busted out the Dutch cookbook and made some yummy cream puffs.

#2 Crab Dip

This one is hot demand whenever we are invited to a holiday party too.  I got this recipe from my almost-sister-in-law’s mom about six years ago.  It melts faces it’s so good.  Seriously.  It’s a warm dip (and does NOT have cream cheese in it…ok, yes it does.)  It is served with crackers and usually I don’t get any of it because it goes so fast.  Yum.

#1 My dad’s fudge

my confession here is that I have never made this correctly (clearly, by the picture of fudge poo you can tell this fact).  I have tried EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR to make this, but I always rush it and it either turns out like a nasty syrup, or it is all crumbly and crystallized and disgusting.  But my dad?  mmmm.  he makes the BEST fudge.  It is the messiest process I have ever seen, but it’s so tasty.  It just melts in your mouth.  So yes, I will be trying again this year.  Stay tuned.  I might vlog it…if you’re lucky.

Want any of the recipes I talked about here?  Let me know in the comments and maybe I will put them up on the blog if there is enough interest.

What are your favorite foods during the holiday season?  Have a Top Ten?  Link up!

ps.  all pictures were taken last year…when we could put presents and decorations on a lower level.  This can’t happen anymore.  you know, because of the toddler.

pssst.  I have also linked MY link up with my girl, Lish over at A Beautiful Mess.  Since today IS Tasty Tuesday and these treats are all quite tasty.  Click over to see more food!!!


and this is why I can’t do mcfatty until after the holidays

Yesterday I posted about the tradition of putting up our Christmas tree filled with ornaments that mean something to us.

Today I have another tradition to share with you.

When my brothers and cousins were little, we used to have Sunday after church dinner at my Grandma Jo’s house every single week.

One special Sunday in December was when she hauled out all of her Christmas ornaments and let us decorate her tree while she and the aunts baked Christmas cookies for us to decorate.

Decorating Grandma’s tree was so special because she kept each ornament (no matter how ridiculous) wrapped up in a piece of paper towel tucked in one of many boxes.  Even though we were all bound to unwrap some syrofoam cup made into a bell, we all handled each paper toweled package as if we were unwrapping an irreplaceable treasure.

And really we were.

My grandma has been gone for almost a decade.  I don’t know what happened to many of those treasures, probably thrown away with everything else that wasn’t deemed worth auctioning off or that none of us had “claimed” when we quickly went through her disheveled rooms looking for something to remember her by.

When she no longer lived at her house or decorated a tree or celebrated Christmas in this world with us, my brothers and I were still unwilling to give up the tradition of tree and cookie decorating.

So for the past few years…at least since I can remember…we have been gathering at my mom and dad’s house to have our kids decorate their tree.  This is the first year that Eddie could sort of help.  Jack will be six this year and has been helping grandma for as long as he can remember.

My mom doesn’t wrap everything in paper towel (despite our pleadings), but she does keep everything.  If we made it in grade school?  She still has it.  So when she takes the old boxes down, it’s fun to remember what sorts of treasures grandma has in there.

She has some really, really old ornaments that I am sure are not really worth much, but are most definitely….old.

Many of the ornaments on my parents’ tree are handmade…not just by us kids, but by my mom.  When she and my dad were first married, she made all sorts of decorations.

Chris found the traditional Christmas turtle (yeah, we don’t know.  but you better bet it went on the tree).

Chris and my mom grandma show Jack and Eddie how it’s done.

oh look!  something I made!  Put it on the tree!

Oh yeah, and don’t forget…part 2 of the tradition is decorating Christmas cookies.

my mom bakes somewhere around a million cookies the day before.

We all have our jobs.  Cort and my mom are in charge of frosting all those naked cookies.

Jack is our master decorator.

but we all do pretty well.

And since Eddie is to young to understand decorating?  He just eats.

I watched as we were all able to come out despite busy schedules and sniffling colds and other lazy Sunday plans.  Grandma Jo was definitely there too…smiling on us and telling us not to lick our fingers.

Oh and ps…this cookie extravaganza?  This is just the tip of the iceberg of why I cannot do McFatty during the holidays.  Stay tuned in January when I decide to kick my butt in gear…just like the rest of America.

It’s the hap happiest season of all…

Before you read this post?  Check out our new sponsor over there on the right ——->  It’s Peggy Ann Design!  She is awesome!  Think awesome as in “OMG!  BEST PRESENT EVER” kind of awesome.  If you get my hint.
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Christmas is a time of some pretty major traditions for our family.  While we have been learning to let go or change some Thanksgiving traditions, we have worked very hard to foster and cling to our Christmas traditions.

I love Christmas.  All of it.  I really do. The family traditions are always my favorite part.  I think I just love the feeling of happiness and security that doing the same things and seeing the same things over and over each year create.

Yesterday we got Eddie all bundled up to go pick out our Christmas tree.  Every year of my childhood, my parents took us out to get a tree.  To be honest, I hated it.  I hated having to trudge through the muddy, cold fields arguing over which tree would be best in our house.  Then standing their while dad cut it down.  And of course then?  We had to drag it back to the truck, get it secured in the trailer, and get home.

And none of that meant that dad was going to hurry up and get the tree in the stand.  And even if he did?  It usually had to sit there and “dry” before mom would allow it in the house.

All of this was excruciatingly slow to us, and after awhile, my dad just went out and got one on a Saturday morning by himself.  One that was already cut.

But…we NEVER had a fake tree.  Ever.

And we still don’t.

Saturday morning we bundled Eddie up and took him with us to Bosch’s in Holland to pick a lovely pre-cut, REAL Christmas tree. It took us maybe 5 minutes to pick out this colorfur (I think that is how it’s spelled).  By the way, this place smelled WONDERFUL!  I wish you could scratch and sniff your computer screen because each time they sawed off the end of someone’s stump it smelled like pine heaven.

Anyway, after getting our stump trimmed, and some ooo-ing and ahhh-ing by Eddie at the giant inflatable snowman, we loaded our treasure up.

psst.  by the way?  that super duper cute hat Eddie is wearing?  Is from Baby Butterfly Boutique. Super awesomely cute baby stuff and ridiculously awesome customer service!

Ahem.  Anyway…

We took our tree home.

I am pretty sure this is our best-fitting tree we have ever gotten.  And the needles are so soft i could almost cuddle them.

Eddie did a pretty good job helping with the lights.  Until he found our ‘step’ button for turning them on and off.  Then we had to remove him from the situation.

(also, please ignore my dumpy-looking socks in this picture.  they are too big and out of control).

I don’t go with the themed-tree or the color-coded tree or anything that elegant.  The ornaments on our tree don’t cost much money.  We don’t get the little white lights that twinkling in the pretty dark room.

Nope.  Our tree is what we call a “family tree” or as my actual family calls it a “tacky tree”.

When we were kids, my mom and my grandma put the huge colorful lights on the tree and filled it with ornaments that were handmade and told a story.  That is what I always wanted my tree to be too.  It tells the story of our family.

newlywed ornaments

first ornament made in daycare by our firstborn

first Christmas as a married couple

ornaments that reflect hobbies

ornaments that reflect careers

personalized ornaments (a new one each year!)

good luck ornaments

and those to remind us that some of those we love are celebrating in heaven

all put together to make the perfect Sluiter Family Christmas tree.

Some may say our tree is tacky or gaudy or just weird.  People might laugh at our choices of ornaments or decorations.  But to us, this tree is the story of our family.  And we will put new ornaments on it each year to reflect what new parts of our lives.

Decorating the tree is one of my most favorite traditions of the season.  what is one of yours?

Stay tuned for Top Ten Tuesdays:  Things I would like to Do/Change about our House.  Join me, won’t you?

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