Monday, December 29, 2008

The Toy Society

This is a great idea. I would love to see this spread through the states!

Maybe I'll have to start this around my town.... hmmm.....

One more week of vacation. I'm loving it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas morning

The agonizing wait at the top of the stairs. We had to institute the 6:00 a.m. rule a few years ago to keep Big Al in bed until a reasonable hour.
Cheesie and her felt food, with the kitchen set behind her. She also received a much wanted bitty baby, and unexpected bitty twins from grandma, books, and movies.

T-Rex and the reversible tote bag I made her. She also received a bunch of American Girl clothes, and Kaya's teepee, plus a table and chairs for them. She also asked for jewelry and books - so easy to shop for.

Big Al searching for all of the tiny little presents we worried would get recycled with the wrapping paper. Big Al got a keyboard (to go with her drums), movies, and DS games.

Blondie asked Santa for, and received a DS game (can use the stylus for some games and not her version of playing with one hand), bitty twins, DS games, and movies.
More pictures tonight. Merry Christmas.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve brought the six of us together. Brian was able to stop work at noon, so we left after that and went to see Santa. Now, all of our santa pictures are in little frames that we attach to our bannister so that it starts from Big Al as a baby, up to present times. I guess in a couple of years we'll have to double them up so we have room. After Santa we went to lunch, and Brian went out on his own to buy some last minute things.

While Brian was gone, the girls and I delivered homemade fudge to the neighbors, and dropped off a couple of gifts for the girls' friends.

Brian grilled out and we sat down to watch Santa Clause 2 (we had watched The Santa Clause the night before). The goal was to then watch A Christmas Story, but all of us were sort of dragging (although Big Al was trying to be as tired as possible because she is the only one of ours that can't sleep on Christmas Eve). During the movie, Cheesie and Blondie kept running to the computer to see where Norad placed Santa. They wanted to make sure they were in bed long before he hit our state.

While Brian, Blondie and T-Rex watched a Christmas Story, I took Cheesie to bed. Big Al and I then wrapped last minute presents, and I finished up the felt food on the sewing machine. Although I didn't finish my whole "food to-do" list, I did plenty for them to get excited about - I hope. At least they can have some input as to what we make next.

Around 10 o'clock, everyone else was in bed waiting for Santa.

Quick story about the stockings - 6 years ago I had 3 children and decided they needed matching stockings, so I bought them. Two weeks later I discovered I was pregnant with number 4 - I ran out to buy the fourth one, but they were gone. So since then I haven't bought any more because we had a couple extra, and I didn't think anyone really cared. We lined them up by age (Brian, Kelly, Big Al, T-Rex, Blondie, and Cheesie). Cheesie decided that her snowman stocking was too small, and she wanted one of the ones her sister had - except none of them would trade with her. So she came crying to me, and I of course offered her my MUCH longer stocking. She was happy, and then gloated to her sisters that hers was the biggest. Then I came down to look at them, and she had rearranged the order too. Our stocking holders spell Santa with Brian's stocking being held up by a Santa holder. Mine was on the S, Big Al's was on the A, T-Rex's was on the T, and Blondie (whose real name starts with A) was on the last A. Cheesie's was on the N. I asked her why and she said that her (real) name has an N in it, so that's how it's supposed to be. That child is a SERIOUS organizer.

The background on Christmas presents

I read a blog a few months ago where the lady made little felt donuts for her daughter's kitchen set. T-Rex and I decided to make those donuts for Cheesie because she was going to get a kitchen set for Christmas. Lo and behold when I did a google search (and an etsy search) I found that these food items weren't limited to just donuts. I guess because of the whole China/lead in toys controversy... a lot of moms are making their children's toys. So I looked at pictures online and made some eggs, and some french bread, then I became addicted. I eventully bought two patterns from Jeanette Lim (etsy shop here) because I wanted to buy healthy examples of food (fruit), and then I caved and bought the popcorn/m&m pattern too. Now I'm a quilter, and a knitter, but I don't really sew beyond joining quilt blocks together.

This felt food addiction led to the idea where each of my girls should receive something homemade. So Cheesie and Blondie were getting felt food, Cheesie also got a knitted doll blanket, and T-Rex got a tote bag and an unfinished blanket (I PROMISE it will be done) and Big Al also got a UFO (unfinished object) afghan.

Big Al decided to make the little girls homemade playdoh (VERY easy) and way better colors, and then Cheesie decided on making her pot holders (although she is two short - I guess we all have projects to finish this week). Blondie tried her hand at painting ornaments, and T-Rex started to make little jewelry boxes for the little girls, but got sidetracked with the scarf she is knitting. So, I guess I'm not only passing on my love of handmade things, but also my inability to meet deadlines (2 unfinished afghans). BUT.... I can continue my addiction to felt food because I know Cheesie likes to imagine her kitchen set and all of the possibilities.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The shopping is finished

Thank goodness. I usually start looking for things the kids might like for Christmas in August, and this year was no different. My goal though was to pay cash, and except for 2 things I think we did!!! I still have a few things to finish making, but will be working on those right up until the night before. NO stress though -if they don't get done they will be completed soon after - and I know they won't mind. Now it's time to get the house in order. Tomorrow is baking and goodies for neighbors - with Monday being a thorough purging of the girls' rooms. May have to run to the grocery store, but I'm not counting that as shopping. I will post the homemade projects after Christmas and when they are being thoroughly enjoyed so we don't give away any hints.
** The picture above is from the zoo, but the official Santa picture still needs to be taken because Cheesie CANNOT keep from blinking in pictures now - just like her Dad!**

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tis the Season ... visit the zoo lights. Our local zoo dresses up the trees, and exhibits with Christmas lights, and since we're members - off we went. It was a lot of fun, and somehow after living here for 6 years, we realized that Brian had never been to our zoo..... Never.... Ever. Apparently, I always take the girls, so we showed him the few exhibits that were open, and hopefully we will all return soon to see it with him during the day.

We sat on different statues throughout the place trying to get 4 kids to all smile without blinking... or sliding off the orangatan

We rode the merry-go-round....

And chuckled at the the southern kids who were trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues, except they weren't snowflakes, they were soap bubbles....

We finally got tired, and came home - because there is still 1 more day of school this week.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Catching up

On Sunday we went over to my mom's house and helped her put up her tree. She cooked dinner, and T-Rex and Cheesie really got into decorating grandma's tree after Brian set it up. A very enjoyable evening - we always like hanging out with family.

Big Al had a band concert today during school hours, and I couldn't attend. Thankfully my mom was able to go and get a few pictures of her demonstration. She is quite excited that she has been moved to snare drum (the boys are still on bells). Mom said Big Al kept the beat quite well and grandma was suitably impressed. Mom sat through plenty of my brother and sister's performances so she has the ear and knows her music.

Today I took pictures of Blondie's OT appointment to offer insight as to what we are doing.

She started with core tummy work - I could probably use that exercise too.... The goal is to hang off the side without flipping over, and then if she does lose it then she needs to use her tummy muscles to pull back up into position. Then of course, there is the ballerina pose. She isn't being pulled into that position, she can do it by herself, Tonya works her arm into the position, but Blondie is definitely holding herself up.
Then she worked on picking up pegs with lefty, and then waited to release them. We have concerns right now because her fingers are SO flexible that the Saebo we want to use may be ineffective because it will hold her fingers in an unnatural position. So we try to instruct her to open the palm of her hand not flexing open her fingers to open up. In the last video she is doing her toe touches where she tries to consistantly touch the top of the ball (yes she knows the spanish word for 10, she was just being goofy). Enjoy.

Friday, December 12, 2008


After school today I put my Brownies and my Juniors into different cars, shipped them over to my house (where they met up with my cadets - 24 kids) and ate hotdogs and hot chocolate. The idea initially was to let the girls grill them on the fire pit, but it was WAY to windy - my neighbors (my co-leader) didn't want their house burned down (imagine that). So we cooked them on the regular grill, and then traipsed around the neighborhood singing Christmas Carols. That hasn't happened the whole time I've lived here, but I think we spread some Christmas cheer. We said MERRY CHRISTMAS (not happy holidays) and sang a mix of Church favorites and kid favorites. We were able to swing by their former chorus teacher's house, and made her cry (truly a GREAT teacher). The kids were absolutely wiped out when we got home, but had fun because it wasn't something they had done before. Here's Cheesie finding a place to sleep on the floor with the dog - who really wants a piece of that pillow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Charlie Brown

Of all the Charlie Browns, my dad was NOT the Charlie Browniest.

I've blogged about my Dad here before, but yesterday was yet another day to remember him. It was his birthday - the first since he passed away from a brutal fight with cancer. My mom received this email from his dear friend Dave Franz (one of my favorite people from living in Germany) and I was so glad to receive a copy of it.

Greetings to Cathy, and to all of you....
I received this truly awesome email from Cathy Brown. I was born at Ft Myer, VA, just outside of Arlington National Cemetery. I first met Charlie Brown around October 1979, and then met Cathy very shortly thereafter. I had transferred from Korea to Germany, where my Army wife was stationed. I was a Lieutenant and Charlie was the Captain (my boss). He and I became close friends then, and maintained that friendship over all these years. Kristi (sp?), Kelli, and Natalie.... I knew all three of you in Germany. I never had the pleasure to meet Colin, though I always heard about you from Charlie (especially when he and I worked at AK Steel) and your Mom. I am writing this because I want you to know what Charlie meant to me. If you were his friend, he would do anything for you. Just suffice it to say that you did not want to be on his Bad List.... Charlie was funny and happy! He was also serious and no-nonsense! He was my mentor. I learned so much from him.... his leadership style is one of the best examples... he truly cared about his subordinates and took care of them. If you worked for Charlie, you kind of felt there was a protective shield around you, as he would be there to defend you if you were in the right. And he was still beside you if you had slipped up. He never turned his back on you either way. Charlie was a people-person. He knew how to inspire and lead. I know I met some officers during my 20 years in the Army who had some influence on me... but, Charlie was the one who stood out. He was not intimidated. He voiced his opinion if he felt it was the correct one. He could be trusted and he was definitely respected. And he took care of his troops. That is what I learned from Charlie Brown. Cathy already knows all of this. Charlie and I loved each other as only soldiers can. And we told each other that. We were prepared to die on the battlefield together, side by side. That was the respect and love that this soldier and I had for each other. Charlie Brown was a soldier. And a beautiful person. My Mother (deceased) met him in Germany, and she never forgot him and his kindness. My youngest sister still knows his name when I mention it. He lives on. I miss my dear friend. Charlie Brown was probably my very best friend....

David Franz

Thanks Dave. This will be cherished. We miss him everyday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Great Friends

I don't think blog entries should really be posted without pictures, but I don't have one tonight, so here is Blondie on Thanksgiving with either Jessie or Brandon's mitt. I felt rather crummy today (still) and forgot the camera for therapy (which was okay because she rode her bike to the ice cream shop anyway) and then in OT they worked on core (tummy) strength - which I really need to show because it is amazing how she can hang on with lefty if she has too. OH, and she informed me that she was jumping rope yesterday during the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser at school (verified by PE teacher) - so DEFINITELY need to post that. Yes Cris, she can jump - stick your daughter on a trampoline and see the difference in strength in sides - it becomes VERY noticeable - but it becomes manageable after awhile.

But tonight is really about great friends. I joined a neighborhood bunko group a few years ago - really just an excuse for me to make time for myself to be Kelly, not mom, or Ms. Dawson. It is a great group of women with diverse interests. Initially the fact that we all had kids (in a range of ages) brought us together, but as the kids have grown we have found other topics of conversation (imagine that). So cheers ladies - I enjoy your company.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I found one more video of Big Al's party that I thought I'd share. Notice Blondie in the middle of the tween mosh pit? Since she dances like that anyway, she fit right in. That kid is afraid of NOTHING.

On Saturday I wasn't feeling well, but as you know moms can never feel crummy. The cadet girl scouts had committed to a neighborhood craft show, and had worked on making their own jewelry for a badge they wanted to do. So the other leaders and I got them set up, and I had to duck out to take the junior girl scouts to ice skating across town. The girls (T-Rex included) were excited, but nervous, because here in the south we aren't born with ice skates on our feet. Once they got there they decided it was just like roller skating except harder when you fall, and MUCH colder. One girl asked me why they couldn't just turn on the heat and make it more enjoyable - I pointed out that was called swimming not ice skating. T-Rex had a lot of fun and figured it out eventually. We ate pizza at the rink, and then came home.

After the girl scouts were picked up I took Big Al and her friend Big I, and T-Rex and her friend "S" and we went Christmas shopping. Later, Brian and I started wrapping presents while the girls made cookies. Pretty much a Hallmark kind of day.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What was I thinking?

Since Big Al was born on Thanksgiving day, it really cuts into the "friend pool" when we are planning birthday parties. It has become our tradition to celebrate the day with family, then have a party with friends later. This year was a difficult one because she is in a new middle school and has a bunch of new friends - not to mention the boy - still. So she agonized over asking a few friends to spend the night, or ask more friends for a couple of hours. She took the latter, but a couple of hours actually ended up being four.... what was I thinking?

While they waited for everyone to show up they hung out outside playing soccer, or raking up my leaves to jump into piles - or bury the boy. Thankfully a few were going to a soccer tournament so we were down to about 12 kids.

After awhile they came in and Brian started grilling hotdogs and hamburgers, and Big Al opened presents. They did a pretty nice job, but I'll be vaccuuming chips out of the carpet for a couple of weeks.

After dinner we went outside and ate smore's and they ran around in the dark. We managed to avoid severe burns, and no one's eye was poked out with a burning pitchfork, so I guess that was successful.

When they came back in they cranked up the music and the evening got louder - now keep in mind that 6th graders as a group don't have a "low volume" they only communicate in shrieks (I know, I've taught them). The radio was booming, and the girls were jumping and "singing" lyrics. So my living room looked
way to small for this many kids. At one point the Christmas tree and the tuner in the cabinet were shaking with all of the vibrations of jumping.

Dancing looked like this:

Then they danced like this

Eventually half sat on the couch and judged a dance contest until parents mercifully picked up their progeny. Bless them.

Whoever made up that rule of inviting as many kids as their age is crazy. The number should ALWAYS be 5..... or 3..... or maybe 1 VERY quiet child - who likes to read books.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recap for the week.

Remember when I said we are always on the go? I find myself reading my favorite blogs where people seem to be at peace. I think, sometimes, I would like to find myself sitting in a rocking chair staring at the snow, but the reality is that I would probably go crazy after awhile. I'm really not one of those women who have to "do it all," but with four kids you tend to find yourself very busy - and doing a whole bunch of "it." Somehow I still find peace in the action, and I do really make time for myself and find some stillness in this house.

Sunday night we decorated the tree. We bought an artificial tree a few years ago (I swore I never would - but I had babies and worried about fire) and it is around 9 feet tall. With small children we definitely experience the phenomenon of all the ornaments gathered in one spot on the tree (about waist high and below). I gave up spreading them out last year because Cheesie remembers where EVERYTHING was placed and points out everything she put somewhere that has been moved. So our tree looked like the picture above.

Monday I expected to come home and work on Big Al's costume for her Latin/Greek mythology monologue that all students in her program are required to present. Now, let me admit, that I am the world's biggest procrastinator, and we've known about this project since August, AND they even extended the deadline BUT, Monday night I thought that I had two more nights to finish her costume and planned on tacking leaves on the front, but she announced that she volunteered to go a day early, so now we all had to do it in one night. So T-Rex, Big Al and I tacked on a ton of silk leaves so that Mother Earth would be ready to present. Brian was able to watch her perform. So she has at least one parent to cheer her on. ** Yes mom, I know, red eye. Go ahead fix it.** They had to write their monologues in more modern language to explain a part of their character, and she chose when Mother Earth tricked somebody into eating a rock baby so that Zeus would be the new king.

Tonight, after Blondie's OT, we attended to T-Rex's chorus concert. VERY CUTE! The kids were rocking with "Elfis" and really did an excellent job. I was worried because I helped wrangle kids during the rehearsal, but they pulled it all together, remembered their lines, and stayed quiet in-between songs. All-in-all a very successful program.

Yes, we're busy..... but happy.