Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year...Szczesliwego Nowego Roku!

Szczesliwego Nowego Roku!

Love this little Polish girl!  Just like my little Polish girl!

OR...Happy New Year!

Found this cute "Happy New Year" post card from The Graphics Fairy. 
I think that the first phrase (starting with the letter "Z") actually means "faithfully" or "sincerely yours".

I love that it is wishing you a Happy New Year in Polish (being that I am 100% Polish-American)!

I have been blessed beyond what I could have ever imagined for myself this past year.  God has been so good to my family and me.  So on behalf of  Mary, Benjamin, & Luke...

These little ones remind me of Mary, Luke and Benjamin!

Hugs, kisses, and New Year's Blessings!

Christmas Eve 2010

Christmas Eve started out early for Mary Catherine and me. We got dressed in our Christmas finest around 11 AM to attend The Nutcracker.  We had so much fun dressing up and driving downtown to The Music Hall to see the Kansas City Ballet's performance.

It was beautiful.  But not even as beautiful as seeing my daughter's eyes light up as the curtain rose and Act 1 began.

We sat in Row K, Seats 1 & 2, Orchestra Center.  We were so close to the stage and the musicians, which made our experience all the more breathtaking.

We made special memories that day for sure and look forward to this becoming an annual Mother/Daughter tradition.

Fortunately, you can't see my unfashionable foot cast.

I love this little snowflake purse my mom bought her last year.
The performance was over at 3 PM and we rushed home to get ready for Christmas Eve Mass.

Daddy with Luke before Mass.
After 5 PM Mass, where our family volunteered to bring up the Offertory Gifts, we took pictures on the Altar and at the Nativity.

Mary Catherine at the Creche.

Back at home we posed for a few quick pictures next to the tree.  While Daddy prepared some Christmas Eve finger foods, the kiddos got to open up their Christmas Eve jammies.  My hope is that next year I find some actual "Christmas themed" pajamas, but they look cute in their Disney-themed jammies too.

Mary, Luke, Ben (Christmas Eve 2010)
Buzz Light Year
And last, but not least, Mary and Daddy had to put out the Reindeer food for Santa's four-legged friends.

It was a wonderful Christmas Eve for this family of five!  Tonight we are celebrating a quiet New Year's Eve and will celebrate Christmas on New Year's Day with Chris' family.

A Christmas Play Date

The first Monday off for Winter Break, found us enjoying a special holiday "play date" with good neighborhood friends.

Although there are normally just a few kiddos of preschool age, this group was much larger because it included school-age siblings. I know that Mary Catherine was very excited to attend as she seems to feel left out of Benjamin's Monday play dates (even though she's having a ball at school!).

Two moms really went to town organizing a couple of food craft activities. The first treat was ice cream snowmen. Quite an appropriate activity as this is the closest our kiddos have come to seeing snow in these here parts! While the rest of the country has been blanketed with the white stuff, even pounded with blizzards, we've missed every single storm. Two date, KCI Airport (the official recording site for snowfall and temperatures) has recorded 2.5" for the metro...all Fall/Winter. bleh!  I say if it's gonna be cold, let it snow!

Mary, M, & T.  These three are in the same kindergarten homeroom and all have younger siblings.

Mary at work on her snowman.
This activity was a challenge for my kiddo who hates to get his hands dirty.
Ben's finished product.
To create ice cream snowman:
Step 1:  Take 3 individual scoops of ice cream and mold into "snow balls" with hands.
Step 2:  Roll snow balls in shredded coconut...or not if you're not a fan!
Step 3:  Using a piece of Hershey's Chocolate Bar and a marshmallow, fashion a top hat.
Step 4:  Add mini chocolate chips for eyes.  Mini pretzel sticks may be added for arms.
Step 5:  Green or red sprinkles, nonpareils, etc. may be used for decorating Frosty.

Sugar Concoction #2...The Sugar Cone Christmas Tree

I think Ben ate more icing than he used to decorate his cone!
One of the finished products.  Can you say, "sugar high?"
Sugar Cone Christmas Trees
Step 1:  Give each child a ready-made sugar cone.
Step 2:  Apply a liberal amount of green frosting/icing.
Step 3:  Provide red and green M&Ms for the ornaments.

I can only imagine how creative and decorative a crafty-type person could make these, but this was a wonderfully-simple craft to do with toddlers and preschoolers. 

Got Wine...and Santa?

As you can see, I have been working hard on making up for lost time with regard to blogging!  I feel like I lost about two weeks of life due to the stomach bug making its round at our house, as well as struggling to find a rhythm with blogging and having a new baby around.  But, I think I have found a solution that evidenced by my more numerous posts!

Anyway, one event that I did get to attend this holiday season was my parish's annual St. Theresa Christmas party.  (St. Theresa is our ladies group)  Every year, St. Theresa's holds a dinner and auction to raise money to support various parish activities.

I have never gone in the past.  Honestly, because I thought that it might just be seniors with nobody even close to my age, but I couldn't be more wrong.  And, after I learned through my Catholic women's Bible study that women of all ages/generations attend the Christmas Party, I got really excited about attending and even reached out to a couple of neighborhood girlfriends to see if they were interested in attending.  They were!

And they did.
Left to Right...Annette, me, Erin.  These gals are close friends and neighbors.
We had so much fun enjoying dinner with new parish friends while being served our meal by husband-volunteers and our pastor, Father Pat.  After dinner, our new, WRAPPED gifts were auctioned off to the highest bidder.  It's a bit scary bidding on something you can't see.  But, isn't that what FAITH is all about?  Believing in our Heavenly Father whom we can't see?!

I bid on an interestingly-wrapped package and ended up with a really cute stackable snowman from Home Interiors.  The snowman is created out of nesting containers, each container making part of his body/head.  But the funniest part of the evening was when my good friend, Annette, outbid me on another gift because she had been so busy talking that she didn't know I was already bidding!  Such a stinker. She outbid me at the last minute and then felt so bad about it!  That's what happens when a bunch of Catholic women get together and wine is involved!

Speaking of wine, the gift that I lost out on was this:

I've got Santa and he's got the wine!
But, Annette is such a great friend. She had been over earlier that week and commented on my Santa collection and surprised me by gifting the Santa to me after she paid for it.  What a wonderful friend!
My newest addition to my Santa collection.

And yes, I do have a Santa that met an unfortunate accident...involving a pint-sized decorating helper.  (Ben felt so bad about it ironic to anyone else that he broke the FIREMAN Santa?!)  Must get boot glued on before packing away for next year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

School's Out for Winter Break!

To celebrate the start of Winter Break, Mary Catherine had a friend over to play.

This school year has really been the start of friendships and play dates for Mary. Since I worked full-time when she was a baby/toddler, I didn't do "mommy & me" groups or activities. Frankly, I didn't want to give up my limited time with her! Truth be told...I still don't.  Besides, I find play dates for toddlers/early preschoolers, highly overrated.

Now that she is a kindergartner, Mary is more into making friends. Mary also loves any reason to make treats or "have a party". :) So, we invited a new classmate who started at Mary's school and was placed in Mary's homeroom (the Monday after Thanksgiving), over to play. Coincidentally, "D" lives in our subdivision...and even better...two houses up the street from us. As all of our neighbors are either of retirement age or parents to teenagers, this is a big deal for us!

The girls had a wonderful time together.

The only problem that arose was that "D" wanted to shut out Benjamin from Mary's room. This is a no-no at our house. Our bedroom doors are left open and we must be kind to each other. That being said, I did provide the girls with some "alone" time from baby brother, which I think is only fair.  I did gracefully explain to "D" that at our house we sometimes have to allow little brothers to be part of the games and that slamming bedroom doors and locking them out was not allowed. I think she was fine with this. As she only has a baby sister, the "brother-thing" is completely new to her!

The girls and Benjamin helped to make rice crispy treats. We then cut out with star or tree-shaped cookie cutters and decorated with icing and red/green M&Ms. Easy peasy, but fun for the little ones.

Mary's new friend and classmate!  She is a cutie.
New friends.
When we walked D home, I provided her parents with this cute snapshot of the girls...a little souvenir of their first play date.  We are so glad to have D and her family as new neighbors and welcome them to our subdivision.  We look forward to getting to know them better and for the girls to become good friends.

Look Who's 5-Months Old!

Bright-eyed and Bushy-tailed in the morning.

Later that same day...not in as good of a mood!

Precious baby feet!
Blooper #1
Blooper #2...Not all our photo sessions go as planned!

A Firehouse Christmas

Another Christmas event that we attended this year was at my husband's fire station.

Each year, Station 1 or "Headquarters" hosts it's annual Christmas luncheon for staff and their families. Since Daddy was on-duty this year, he thought it might be fun for me to bring the kids up. Chief R was grilling gourmet hamburgers and each family that was in attendance was asked to provide a side dish or desert. Since we were just coming off of the flu, this mama thought the polite thing to do would be to hold-off on providing a homemade dish and bring store-prepared instead.

But, I felt odd about it. Odd that I wasn't contributing homemade, and odd in having to explain our stomach flu contagion. So, I nonchalantly put a container of deli-served baked beans on the table and scooted away quickly hoping that nobody saw me!

All of the fire trucks were parked outside of the bay and round tables and chairs were set up for eating. Santa made his debut and little ones got to tour the new Educational trailer that the Department recently purchased. It has a kitchen to teach about stove top fires, hot coils, ovens, etc. as well as a fire place, doors that heat up, smoke machine for stop, drop and roll, etc. Benjamin loved the trailer and couldn't get enough of it!

I just realized my daughter is flinging a yo-yo around!

Ben loves the BIG trucks!
The new Education Trailer (schools, neighborhoods, community events, etc.) and a chair for Santa.

Luke with Fire Fighter Danny. 
My kiddos with the Fire Dept. Santa.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Me and My Muff

The weekend after Mary missed two days of school because of stomach flu, she had a mini ballet recital to participate in.  Nothing formal or fancy at all, just a simple program to celebrate the holiday season.

I felt bad for Mary because I could tell that she still did not feel 100%.  Not to mention that upon arrival at the ballet studio, she tells me that she has lost a slipper.

Not even kidding.  It is not in her dance bag.  Not in the minivan.  Not in the parking lot.  Fortunately, Miss Tauna has extra ballet slippers for just an occasion like this.  :)  Needless to say, I will now check her dance bag each Tuesday afternoon before departing for ballet.  By the way...we found the her closet.  *sigh*

Mary and a couple of other little girls performed a routine to "My Muff and I." It was a cute performance and I wish I had better pictures to share with you, but after the slipper fiasco, I was late finding a seat.  There really weren't enough folding chairs for everybody (this was held at the studio instead of a performance venue) and I had to squeeze into the very last row.  I was busy wrangling a feisty four-year old and 4-month infant NOT happy with staying in his car seat.  Not to mention, I was achy and chilled...about to come down with the flu myself!  Aaaah, life!  This is the stuff that memories are made of!