Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our Charlie Brown Tree

I insist on getting a live Christmas tree. I couldn't imagine Christmas without the smell of real pine wafting through my house. We always had a live tree growing up and I want my kids to have the same experience. So, every year, I make our family bundle up, go to the nearest tree lot and peruse the aisles of trees for the perfect conifer. This year, we knew we'd be spending Christmas in Arizona so we opted for a smaller one. Ava and Jax had the final say on which tree we'd take home.

I had big plans for decorating. However, as soon as I opened the box of decorations, the kids dove in. Soon enough, garland was tangled, Sesame Street character ornaments were headless and Jax, who has the attention span of a fruit fly, ditched the decorating, opting for monster trucks instead. Although, he did let me help him put up ONE ornament.

Andy's not big on decorating either, so it came down to Ava and me. She delegated me the official detangler and hook putter-onner. So, really. The tree is Ava's creation and boy is it PURTY!
This is Ava's favorite ornament! We got it the year she was born (her birthday is St. Patrick's Day)
She definitely preferred one side of the tree to any others and tended to clump all her ornaments on that one side which, by the way, was not the front. It took all my willpower not to go over and evenly distribute the ornaments, but I had to remind myself that it didn't matter, what mattered was that she enjoyed herself. And she did. She was so proud of her creation when all was said and done. A few days later, we watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (my favorite) and Ava said to me, "Charlie Brown's tree looks like our Christmas tree." If you've seen the show (and if you haven't, well, then you're un-American!) you know that good ol' Chuck chooses a sad little tree, causing all his friends to call him "Blockhead" and the like. However, in the end, after Linus' retelling of the birth of Christ, the kids get in the spirit and decorate the tree for CB (which always amazed me, I'd like to know how they got it to look so full). THAT'S thre tree Ava was talking about... the one at the end, not the frumpy looking guy.

Anyway, we love our tree. Every morning when Jax and I come downstairs he points to the tree and says, "light... on." So, I turn the tree lights on and that's the way the stay the entire day.

The Results Are In...

We've been waiting for this day for close to two months. In late October Andy took the grueling eight-hour Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. It's a national exam that ALL engineers have to take; it's basically the first major hurdle on the way to becoming a professional engineer and a mandatory requirement for graduation.

To say the least, Andy was nervous about it. He didn't feel great about the test after taking it, despite his countless hours and weeks of preparation. To make things worse, results would take 10-weeks. I, playing the role of supportive wife, had full confidence in my husband. He is incredibly intelligent, disciplined and studious, not to mention he's been blessed with the gift of being an amazing tes-taker. Still, I recognized Andy's concern and felt a few butterflies in my stomach for him.

So, this morning, the e-mail came in. Andy's test results were ready. After a login/password issue, we were finally able to download the letter stating whether he had passed or failed (no percentages, just PASS/FAIL).

The stress that floated out of Andy's body was almost tangible. I'm sure he felt a sense of relief, but pride (the good kind) too. His hard work has paid off and he is one step closer to graduation and beginning work as a civil engineer.
I'm so proud of Andy! He is never satisfied with anything less than his very best. He does not take for granted the opportunity he has been given to go back to school and receive his Masters; as a result, he works incredibly hard to ensure every homework assignment, paper, project, presentation and test reflect not only his passion for engineering, but education in general. He's pretty amazing!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where Did She Learn That?

Tonight as I answered a few e-mails from customers, Ava (who was supposed to be in bed) played on our desktop computer (which was turned off) and began typing her name. She, of course, typed A-V-A and then asked me what came after the G and R in her middle name. After I helped her with that, I asked if she needed help with our last name. "No, I can do it." And she did. She spelled it out. I had no idea she knew how to spell our last name, I've never taught it to her. I'm sure she's heard me spell it so many times over the phone or in other situations that she memorized it. On a side note, I am shocked by how hard our last name is for people. To me, it's just common sense. Maybe because I speak a little German (our last name is German) or maybe because I'm just anal about spelling. Anyway, back to Ava... she apparently also knows our phone number and address. I'm so impressed by her memorization skills, but this also shows me that she is ALWAYS listening, even when I don't think she is. Better be careful what I say around her... wouldn't want her spilling all my secrets :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Recital

Ava's dance class performed at her dance studio's Christmas party. She, of course, counted down the days to the performance and could hardly contain herself all day Friday. We think she's pretty darn cute!

Could she be any cuter?!

Ava and her good friend, A.J.

Friday, December 11, 2009

When it Snows it Dumps

Being from Arizona, snow is a novelty. When I was a kid, our family made special trips "up North" to go play in the snow. It was fun, it was exciting, it wasn't permanent. After our romp in the snow, we would just drive back down to Phoenix, put on our short-sleeved shirts and enjoy the sunny winter day.

Here, it's a little different. We got our first big snow of the winter. And more is expected. Here's Snow Day 1:

The view outside our front door

Ava and I played out in the snow for awhile while Jax napped. She is not at all phased by the freezing temperatures. She just wanted to play in the snow and was sorely disappointed when it was time to go in. Thank goodness for hot cocoa, it made coming inside a little more worthwhile.

I got a good workout pulling her around in the sled.


We got several more inches overnight. Jax seemed to like the snow, however, he HATES the cold. He just kept saying, "Cold, Cold, Cold. Brrrr."


I've lost track of when it actually snowed. This just happens to be our third day playing out in the snow.

Making her sneaky face, as she attempts to construct a snowball. Lucky for me, the snow was too powdery.

Both the kids loved it, until Jax's gloves came off when he fell in the snow. The freezing sensation on his hand freaked him out, as evidenced in this video.

So, inside we went to thaw out.

I just checked our 10-day forecast. More snow is expected through Monday. I just ordered the kids some snowboots online, because it looks like this winter, we'll be needing them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jax's Gift to Baby Jesus

The kids have been eating lunch and dinner at makeshift table in the living room these day. Our kitchen table is currently covered in orders I'm in the process of filling, so the living room it is.

Today, while the kids ate their lunch of turkey sandwiches, I walked into the living room to find this:

Some bring frankincense, some bring myrrh, Jax brings turkey slices. I guess since food is Jax's favorite thing, it really is a valuable gift.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Countdown to Arizona

Ava was extra bored this morning. You can only play princesses so many times before you need to move on. Despite all my suggestions for other types of play, she just wasn't having it. It's been one of those mornings. So, I came up with the ingenious idea (okay, I didn't, my friend Jess did) to make a Countdown to Arizona chain. Jessica does it every year with her boys in anticipation for their Christmas trip to California. So, I thought, "let's give it a try." I have A LOT of Christmas scrapbook paper left over from some of the products up in my shop, so Ava got to sort through and choose which she wanted in her chain. It's so funny the way a child's mind works. Had I been in charge of the paper-picking-out, I would have ensured each chain link complimented the others. Ava, on the other hand, cared only if they had sparkles, pink or an identifiable Christmas symbol on them (trees, Santa, etc.).

We cut, assembled and VOILA! our Countdown to Arizona chain.

I can't believe it's just 14 days until we leave! We're so excited to spend the holidays with our families this year because next year we'll be celebrating a Very Merry Mississippi Christmas!

(she wanted to type her name)

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Helping" Daddy Work

We're supposed to be getting snow all next week. I'll admit, I'm a little excited. But, I'm sure that'll wear off as soon as I a) slip on ice (which is inevitable), b) scrape snow and ice from my windshield, c) have to get my kids bundled just to get them to the car and then unbundle them so I can get them in their carseats and then rebundle them when it's time to get out.

Anyway, in preparation for the pending white stuff, Andy went into the backyard this afternoon, armed with a rake, with the intention of piling up and bagging all the leaves in our backyard. Of course, as soon as he headed for the back door Jax began pleadingly yelling , "Owside, owside?" and Ava joined in with a chorus of, "Can I come, Daddy? I wanna come." So, I pulled their newly cleaned coats out of the dryer, zipped them up and sent them out back with a reluctant Daddy. I had to run an order over to a customer, which only took about 15 minutes. I certainly didn't expect the entire job to be done, but here's what I found when I came home:

Ava under a "leaf blanket"

And Jax driving a dumptruck through the leaves (what else would he be doing?). He had absolutely no interest in jumping in them himself, nope, they just provided a good obstacle for his truck.

Andy had put the rake off to the side and resigned himself to the fact that his mission had been foiled but two little people who, stacked on top of each other, probably aren't as tall as his rake. So, instead, our family spent time outside playing chase and running through the leaves. We had so much fun I don't think Andy really minds having to do all that work again. Okay, maybe he does... but we still had fun!