"The real winners in life are people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better." - Barbara Pletcher

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Morning Magic

Santa came early to the Sallinger house this year.  He only comes early for kids who have been extra well behaved, and it's so rare that kids aren't allowed to tell their friends when it happens.  He doesn't want other kids to get their feelings hurt, and he doesn't want to let it out that he actually can't get all those packages delivered in one night.  We know all of this because Santa sent a little elf to deliver us a letter he wrote, explaining the whole secret system.  Unfortunately, Santa misspelled his own name in the letter.  It's Claus, not Clause.  Wow, Santa.  Good thing you're not a teacher. 

Before now, I hadn't been convinced that we needed another cheesy, non-Jesus addition to our holiday season.  I have to admit, we have had a blast with Tinsel (nicknamed Twinkle).  We skipped the book, didn't add any rules (we are allowed to touch our elf but the kids' friends from Sunday school said they CAN'T touch theirs!!!), and didn't spend more than a couple minutes every night moving him around.  We even forgot a few times and everyone seemed cool with assuming he was just too tired to move that night!

He got into some mischief...
Nothing to see here, just giving Reise's doll a new 'do. 
 Took the kids forever to find him that morning!
It's been fun.  Now that Santa has been here already, the elf is taking a break from his nighttime escapades.  I'm not sure when he will leave for good.  Maybe he will leave a little something for the kids as a parting gift on the 25th and hitch a ride back to the North Pole with Santa while he's passing through?  We've got some time to develop that idea ;)
I hate to be a Debby Downer so I will spare you the details about how I nearly let having to reschedule Christmas get me bent out of shape.  So glad I was able to pull it together, so I didn't miss the good stuff.  At the end of the (holi)day it is much more important to me that our family celebrates together than on the actual day.  Between Maeson's schedule and DJ Steele's gigs, we definitely had to be creative to make a Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning thing happen.  Add the stomach flu and things got downright crazy this year, ya know? :)

I am not going to let the date on the calendar determine how legit our "Christmas" morning was in 2012.  The kids were so excited the night before that they couldn't fall asleep.  We stayed up late wrapping presents and stuffing stockings, listening to them chatter in their beds.  They woke up at the crack of dawn but didn't budge until their dad said they could get up.  They raced down the stairs and ran shrieking toward their stockings.  It was Christmas morning, if I ever saw one. 

I love traditions, and for a brief moment I let myself believe we couldn't keep those going if we didn't do them on. the. right. days.  Baloney.  Monkey bread tastes the same on the 15th as it does on the 25th.  Crack of dawn feels the same any day of the week.  New toys are fun no matter when they are opened.  I will not be a scrooge.  I will not get bitter.  I will be creative and make it work.  This is what moms do.  Even moms who occasionally come unhinged over schedule issues.

I dare say the kids' favorite part this year was watching their siblings open the gifts they had picked out and wrapped themselves.  They were shockingly good at keeping their gifts a secret.  We had them draw names amongst themselves this year, since Ryleigh was insisting on spending her own money.  I am sure she would have drained her entire bank account on dollar store treasures ;)  This worked out well for everyone.

Last minute, we decided to let Santa bring the kids a Wii, which brings us up from being a good 4-5 years behind ;)  I hate buying crap.  These kids need nothing.  We sat in our basement one night last week looking at their gifts and acknowledged that Reise and the little boys had literally nothing to open from us.  I gave away all the "good" ideas I had for them to the grandmas, and couldn't bring myself to add more junk to our toy bins when I knew they'd be getting so much from other family.  Ryleigh and Rugger finally outgrew their Heelys and asked for new pairs, otherwise they wouldn't have had anything either ;) 

Who asks for a globe???  You get one guess.

We are still counting down the days until Jesus' birthday.  Maybe it will actually feel nice to have Santa out of the way so we can focus on the real reason for the season?  (I may have just cringed a little at my own cheesiness.)  For real though, Santa isn't our main focus anyway, so I'm uncomfortable with how easily I allowed myself to get caught up in the madness.

The minute I start feeling guilty for letting Santa win a little, my kids spontaneously put on a live Nativity scene in the living room with costumes, animals, and an uncooperative baby Jesus.  The narrator read the story straight out of the Bible and there was even a lighting situation happening.  This is Christmas.  There is real magic to be had all season.  They know what it's all about.  No guilt needed from the lone audience member!

It's officially a SNOW DAY today, and we've got a boy turning EIGHT on Saturday, so I've got things to do ;)  Stay warm, friends!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Cabin.

After an entire year of waiting, finally, our Christmas with my family at the cabin!  Our kids have such fun memories already from past years and there are certain expectations going in.  They know they will stay up late, bunk up with their cousins, eat whatever and whenever they want, open presents, and play Wii.  WE know they will all be crying from exhaustion, hunger, and lack of routine by the time we leave but we won't care because we'll be delirious from laughing so hard. 

It's perfection!

OH, Dominick.  It's the clothing version of a mullet.  Business up top, party on bottom.  The vest puts me over the edge.

Christmas socks and loveseat time with my handsome husband.

One of the more precious things I saw this weekend: my grandpa hunched over carefully assembling Reise's baby highchair.  "Adorable" doesn't even begin to cover it.  Absolutely love that my grandparents are such a fun part of my kids' lives. 

Holiday cheer ;)

Big score in the stockings for all the kids!  Night walks will never be the same.

My mom, getting some pointers from the Wii bowling champion, himself.  Ryleigh was really happy to keep the winner in the Sallinger family.  

Yes, that's a lot of boy going on there :)

Another fun weekend of celebrating, in the books.  Thanks for being awesome, family.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Some of the best parts of the year, right here!

Holiday bake-a-thon with my sister and my mom over the weekend.  My bigs were finishing up the last of the Christmas programs, and Rowen graced us with his presence now and then when he wasn't tearing up the house with his cousins. 

I love that my kids will look back on these memories and associate them with Christmas.  "Remember when your dad made us dinner and we ate it on top of a Rubbermaid tote because the entire kitchen table was full of cookies?"  :) :) :)

On the way to Walmart last night (because I hate myself, that's why we went to Walmart two weeks before Christmas!) the girls said this was their favorite part of Christmas.  Shopping?  Yes!!  Shopping with just girls with our own money.  I can't WAIT for Maeson to see what I picked him...  Rowen is going to LOVE his movie...  This is where I die of happiness just a tiny bit. 

Bigs doing afternoon school while Rowen and I dip stuff.  The best.

Spending our evenings filling totes full of goodies for the cabin.  Then putting the totes in the garage so we don't eat them all before we leave for the cabin.  Then, sneaking into the garage so many times over the course of six days that we have nothing left to take to the cabin... 

I finally got smart and taped the red sprinkle container lid to about 20%.  Still, those babies are loaded.

I love the paper (disposable) Nativity, because we can make a new scene every year.  I got this year's set here.  (Thanks, Jenn!)

Christmas lights with kids in jammies, driving around eating popcorn balls.  I know we did this as a family when I was little.  We could have done it every single year or maybe we only did it once, I honestly can't remember.  Aren't memories weird?  I'm sure my kids will not remember things the way I think/hope they will ;)  My version: "Remember when we would drive around for hours listening to Christmas music, eating our popcorn balls, and everyone was so sweet and snugly in their pajamas?"  Their version: "Remember the year Rugger sat in the back seat and wouldn't stop making farting noises until mom threatened to make dad pull the van over so she could crawl back and beat him?"

We find ourselves saying allllll the time these days, "it keeps getting easier!"  "It" meaning life, I guess.  The kids are getting more and more independent and needing less and less manual labor by us to stay alive.  It's noticeable at times like this when we actually sit back and realize no one spilled their drink, no one fell asleep with popcorn ball stuck to their face/hair/seatbelt, we only had to stop for one restroom emergency... :)

It's bittersweet, for sure.

We're hoping to make this a new tradition; hanging out with Lao and Pao for lunch and then doing a few chores.  It is so kind of them to let us "help" them out :) 

To everyone on my grandparents' mailing list: No, Marylyn hasn't lost all fine motor control.  The little kids handled the return address labels and stamps this year, so if they look completely cockeyed, blame the preschooler! :)

Love how Reise is just lounging on the exercise ball while Ryleigh toils away vacuuming the steps :)

Tomorrow starts the "Twelve Days of Christmas" tradition we've done for several years now.  We have about a dozen countdowns going right now, and it's getting hard to keep track.  Ryleigh made a chart to keep us all straight (because of course she did!). 1 day until the Twelve Days, 3 days until Santa comes to our house (early!), 4 days until the cabin, 10 days until Rugger's birthday, 13 days until Jesus's birthday...um, pardon me...26 days until MY birthday :) OK so my birthday isn't on the list. 

So much to love this time of year (happy birthday, Jesus!)...so thankful for my fun family to share it all with!

Monday, December 10, 2012

For the Birds.

If we had to rate our love for my cousin Joseph on a scale of 1-10 we'd be hovering somewhere between a million and infinity-ish.  He's so fun!!!  Lucky us.

Pretty please notice and die with me that Rowen's fingers are in his mouth the entire morning.  He ate more birdseed than he put on the pine cones, I promise.

The kids had a blast.  As for me, don't mind me if I continue working on my little Christmas craft project over here with my coffee and the "special" creamer.  Heaven!!!!!

This was also the day the chickens became more free range than cooped.  Oh my stars, heaven help me, for the love of the land!  I'm so nervous.  I would make a terrrrrrrible farmer.  So far the gals seem to really be enjoying themselves in the yard and haven't fallen prey to any neighborhood cats or dogs. 

We've seen all kinds of birds out there since the new feeders went up.  It turns out, this seems to be a busy time for all kinds of birds.  Our pond is nearly overrun right now with ducks and geese.  My little science nerds constantly have their field book out trying to figure out who is who out there.  It's way too adorable, I'm sorry to say it. Today it was frozen over almost completely and the geese were just strutting across the ice!  Why aren't you flying south, geese?  Isn't that your M.O.???

I love fun on a random Thursday.  Thanks, cousin!!!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Letters

It's Christmas program time at Capitol City, this year's program is called Christmas Letters (set in a post office).  The kids are doing 13 (THIRTEEN!) performances in less than 2 weeks.  This basically means I am in the middle of doing lots of driving and sitting and waiting and rushing and waiting and driving some more, OH and sitting in pews grinning my face off.  This also means that my children are exhausted; by the 5pm show on Sunday (show 7/13) I watched as several kids stifled yawns on the stage (some of them are better at stifling than others, oh my worrrrrrd those kids are funnnnny!!!!).

Monday night last week the kids had rehearsal at 7pm.  Trying to be efficient and kill several birds with one stone (and one trip across town!!!): I left the house at 6pm with the three bigs in tow, dropped Ryleigh off for a haircut at 6:15, ran to pick up an item I had purchased off Linconsign, ran back to pick up Ryleigh, dropped all three performers off at rehearsal at 6:55 (early! thankyouverymuch), went back to get my own hair cut and colored...and let Mitch pick them up from practice at 8:30pm after he was done taking the little boys swimming at the YMCA.  Follow that?  It doesn't really matter if you got lost.  My point is, I had crammed lots of stuff into one tiny little evening, which is necessary when you know the next several weeks are going to be chaotic and so that is my excuse for my kids being the only ones not in their costume clothes.  (Dear kids, I'm super duper sorry you looked foolish in your street clothes.  It really is my fault this time for not paying close enough attention to the papers you brought home that clearly stated it was a dress rehearsal.  Maybe next time you should tell me you think you're supposed to bring your costumes clothes.  Oh, wait.  You did.  Oopsie daisy!!  You have to love me anyway because I'm your mother.  Love, Mom :) :) :))

Seriously, they sure stuck out like sore thumbs.  Thanks to Peggy for taking pictures of it :) 

But seriously, thanks to Peggy for taking pictures!!

The girls and I went shopping for Christmas dresses so they could wear them during the shows, which was so dang funny I should have videoed the entire trip.  It absolutely slays me how different my kids are, especially the girls.  It's:

*GASP* *SQUEEL* *CLUTCH HEART* "Are those high heeeeeeeels for meeeeeee???!!!!! This is my dream come truuuuuue!!!!!"


"uhhhhhh, that looks super scratchy....why can't I wear pants?"

Ryleigh is very serious and professional. 

Reise is very animated.

Rugger really is enjoying himself, even if you can't tell from his complete lack of facial expression!

This video of Ryleigh doing her solo is from the dress rehearsal that I actually knew about and sent clothes for ;)  You will have to excuse the video quality and laugh with me at all the kids milling around in the background unsure of where to go.  Also, I think the light guy was trying out different settings on the spotlight.  All very entertaining, but Ryleigh did great!

The extra special parts (angels, king's entourage, snake holder) are given to different kids each night, and are used as rewards for good behavior.  I think it's a great system, and there are enough parts that all the kids can rotate around and do different things each night.  It definitely helps break up the waiting they do in between songs.

Reise is at the far right looking extra angelic!

Mitch is going back to see the program later this week, just to watch Reise.  He had a bad seat when we went over the weekend, and he really missed out.  She holds nothing back.  It is hysterical!

We also noticed how tiny she looked up on stage with all those kids.  She looks huge at our house compared to the little boys and the daycare kids we have running around here daily.  We both said, "she's just a baby up there!"

Rugger got asked to be an angel one night along with Reise, and he was pumped to do it. He didn't care that he had to wear tights. What's not to love?! He is so dang fun. 

Rugger says the best part about being an angel is, he gets to watch baby Jesus the whole song.  He's such a sweet boy.

Here's Reise taking a turn carrying the gold.

It appears in this picture that Reise is off somehow, but by golly she does it with so much confidence no one cares.  Hahaha!  She is a riot up there!

This is how the yahoo's spend their evenings and weekend afternoons while the kids are performing.  They're pretty easily entertained in mom's office with sticky notes and pbskids.org. :) 

This will be the last year they get to hang in "mom's office" at the church during Christmas performances.   After over seven years as a ministry coordinator, I put in my resignation and I will be done after this week.  I'm having such mixed feelings about it.   By mixed I may or may not mean that I have completely unstable feelings about it.  I know the extra evening at home every week will feel super luxurious, and we're at a point with school where I really need to be home every day all day to get everything done.  Still.  I will absolutely miss working, which I half-jokingly refer to as my "break".  It will be an interesting adjustment, and I will be on the lookout for new reasons to get dressed and out of the house at least a few times a week ;)
Happy weekending out there!