Friday, January 23, 2015

Hooray For Weekends!

Quit Growing Up Already!
Sarah took the PSAT's in the Fall and apparently did really well on them!  All of a sudden, she is being inundated by college letters!  What the what?!?  I am NOT, repeat,  N.O.T., ready for this!  It's bad enough I have to let the boys get older, now Sarah, too!  This whole growing up process is soooo not easy on the parents!

Quick Trip
Jay took most of the high school youth group, including Sarah, Jon and Andrew, with a group from our parish to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. this week.  Everything went well but I don't have many details because they got home at 1am!

Luke asked why they were going to Washington.  Trying to think of an age appropriate answer he would understand, I came up with, "They are going to Washington to help remind people that babies are very important and need to be protected."  That satisfied "Mr. Questions"....he is curious about everything!

Quiet Time
While they were gone, I stayed behind with the younger half of our family.  Kate was running a low grade fever so we just hunkered down for 2 days snuggling, watching cartoons, and playing with princesses. (Honestly, it was kind of nice to be lazy!)  It felt SO quiet..and a little lonely...with only 5 people in the house!  Who knew?!?

All Things Star Wars
  Luke is obsessed with all things Lego Star Wars right now.  He got a snow speeder Lego for Christmas and now it's all he talks about!  He builds his own Star Wars ships, too.

At lunch yesterday:
Luke:(sounding so grown up!)  So, Mom, what do you want to talk about?
Me:  I don't know....what would you like to talk about?
Luke:  Um....Star Wars?(with a giant grin on his face)

Yep....he is officially obsessed!

Horsey Rides
We were at my nephew's 5th birthday party last weekend.  While there, Jay did what he does best:  get suckered into playing games with the littles!
Jay with my niece, Mya, and Kate

He would have had more takers, but a couple of the little boys were eating ice cream cones and decided they didn't want to risk parting with them to get a ride!

Brothers From Another Mother
My friend, Colleen, and her husband, Phil are some of our "couple friends".  We have a lot in common....especially our husbands!  Jay and Phil are both tall and thin and very laid back.  They both dress very casually in very "quiet" colors.  They are both awesome husbands and dads...very involved and always willing to pitch in even after they have done "their part".  They both love to talk religion and sports and kids...and ways to keep their wives happy!  It turns out that they both listen to faith talks when they exercise...Jay listens for the youth group and Phil bc he's the Department Head in Theology at Sarah's high school.  They even have the same ring tone on their phone!

Colleen and I have laughed about this for several weeks now and Jay always brushed it off.  Well, Jay gave a couple of talks on the bus while traveling to the March For Life in D.C.  Even though he put them together for the teens, the entire bus ended up listening to him.  After one of the talks, a parishioner he had never met came up to him and asked if he was going to do any more of the adult ed talks at the parish like he did last year.  Jay told her he had never done any talks at the parish before.  The woman insisted that "Yes, last year, I know your demeanor and voice, etc."  Jay asked if the class was on suffering.  She said, "Yes, that was you!"  Jay said, "No, that was Phil Martin."  She said, "No, I could swear it was you." 

So now Jay believes us...he has a "brother from another mother"!  

He Said
I have a bunch of funny things the kids said on I figured I would start sharing!:)

Walking from the pool area of our hotel back to our room(less than a 10 minute walk, but Luke was really tired that day!):
Luke:  Something's not right....someone's gonna need to carry me.
Jay:(after 3/4 of the distance):  I feel like I'm running the spartan race and I just can't do it anymore! Andrew:(who was carrying ice cream for Sarah that was melting all over his arm) I'll trade!
.......about 20 steps later
Andrew:  I've made a terrible mistake!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Day to Reflect

“America you are beautiful…and blessed…. 
The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless.
If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.”
-Pope John Paul II 

I have been blessed to carry 9 children within me.  I didn't always feel that way with each pregnancy.  I was more prepared emotionally for some pregnancies more than others.  

I have nothing but compassion for the women who find themselves feeling trapped and devastated by an unplanned pregnancy.  That emotional turmoil is incredibly hard to work through.  I thank God all the time that He gave us the grace to choose life when we were unmarried, 18, and our first pregnancy derailed the direction we thought our lives were going in.  The new path was not like we had planned....but it has been blessed with many little, (and now not so little), people that He had planned all along.  

This little guy....

and now not so little guy...
...started our parenting journey.

This journey has been no merry-go-round!  It is not all angels singing every moment of every day!  There have been lots of growing and stretching that I have gone through as a person, (Emotionally and spiritually even more than physically!  And I think that's impressive...9 babies have certainly provided me with quite the stretch marks!  I carry them proudly...they're my baby badges!)

Each of my children has a mission.  Even our fourth child, Therese, who was born with a genetic disorder that was "incompatible with life", had a mission.  Her mission was just much shorter than the rest of us...and her eternal life is much more powerful because she is perfect and innocent as she gazes on God every day of eternity interceding for her very imperfect family here on Earth!

Even Peter, who is severely affected by Autism, has a mission.  Even though in the world's eyes he will never, ever fit into society's mold for the "perfect" child, in God's eyes he will be more perfect than any of us because he will always live life with the heart of a child.

Maybe my adult life didn't start out the way that I had planned it, but God worked it all out so much better than I ever could have.

Today, my prayers and thoughts are for the millions of mothers and fathers that carry hurt from abortion.  I hope they find the healing they need.  I pray that love guides our actions to care for all the weakest and defenseless in our country and in our communities and in our own families.  While that includes all the unborn, it also includes those with special needs, the sick, and the elderly.  I hope we always find the care and compassion to help everyone placed in our paths.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Food Glorious Food!

One of the best parts of vacation is getting to eat out at restaurants and not have to worry about meal planning, grocery shopping, or washing dishes!  Disney has a ton of great places to eat!  Here were a few of our favorites!

#1:  Downtown Disney
We visited our second favorite restaurant on our first night in Disney.  Raglan Road in Downtown Disney is an Irish Pub that serves terrific food and has a really fun atmosphere.  During our meal, Irish step dancers performed intermittently.  The little kids especially loved it!  The young women that were dancing were wearing elf costumes.  We passed one of the dancers on the way to our table and Peter went as close as he could get and waved his hand and yelled, "Hiiiii" with an enormous smile on his face!  (Oh brother...he's definitely a teenager!)

It is super strange to have a son old enough to order beer!
 Also a favorite in Downtown Disney is the Rainforest Cafe.  The kids love the atmosphere....and the giant fish tanks are a good distraction while you wait for your meal!

The Earl of Sandwich has some really great choices!  Jay was disappointed we only got to eat there once!  T-Rex is a fun place if you have dinosaur lovers....we took Luke to "visit" the dinosaurs, but we didn't eat there this trip!

Arguably the best stop in Downtown Disney.....Ghiradelli's!  What could end a day better than a salted caramel and hot fudge sundae...or a dark chocolate espresso sundae...or a chocolate frappe...or a brownie sundae?  Yeah, we couldn't think of anything either!

#2:  Dinner At the Polynesian
Over the course of our trip, we ate at two different restaurants at the Polynesian Hotel.  The first was O'hana's, which is a family style restaurant that had awesome marinated steak, pork, and shrimp on a skewer.  They have delicious pineapple bread and these awesome dumplings and chicken wings!  Yum!
A "mostly smile" on Andrew!

My parents

It's a super family friendly restaurant and they have a couple of short kid activities:)
The other restaurant at the Polynesian, "Kona's Cafe", was really good, too!  They had small loafs of homemade sweet bread.  Most of us had steak that night and it was soooo good!  Kona's also had a lot of great allergy choices for people with gluten, dairy, and peanut allergies!  My dad, who is gluten free, had an incredible chocolate lava cake that he really loved.  All Disney restaurants are great about catering to people with food allergies, but Kona's is part of a pilot program that offers specific allergen free menus for all 3 meals.  If food allergies are a part of your family, I would highly recommend it!

 #3:  Poolside

While the food is certainly more of the sandwich, burger, chicken finger variety, eating lunch by the pool is always such a treat....especially in the middle of winter!

#4:  Prime-Time 50's Cafe
One of the restaurants in Hollywood Studios is the Prime-Time 50's Cafe.  It's a theme restaurant, and as you can see in the pics, all of the tables, chairs and decorations look like a 50's family dining room.  They play short snippets of famous 50's tv shows....which my mom enjoyed telling the kids about.  I really like the food here....especially the meatloaf.  The kids like the food...especially the milkshakes...but they don't love the restaurant.  I think that's because of the "family rules".....the servers call you brother, sister, mom and dad and if you have your elbows on the table or don't eat your vegetables you're likely to get scolded!  (On one trip many years ago, Jay had to stand in the corner!  My dad has that on video somewhere!)

#5:  Snacking

I know there's nothing super special about them, but I love those Mickey ice cream bars!  I may have shared a few with Kate while we waited for everyone else to get off a "big kid" ride!  (And it wasn't always after lunch;)

Andrew joined in sometimes, too!

Some people were a little addicted to the frozen coffees......
 #6:  Sampling From Around the World
Epcot is a favorite park for Jay and my older kids.  (My favorite is the Magic Kingdom:).  We spent multiple days in Epcot during our trip, and for lunch one of the days and dinner of our last day, we just ate our way around World Showcase.  We shared and sampled...and indulged in some desserts!    
The littles wanted hot dogs and fries in the U.S.

Peter, too!

There were stops in Germany for Bratwurst, apple strudel and a beer for Jay and Mike.


Not pictured are stops in England for fish & chips, China for honey sesame chicken, nachos from Mexico, and a Japanese beer just to round things off a bit!  On our last night, we got gelato and tiramisu from was soooooo good!

 #7:  Via Napoli

Our absolute favorite restaurant was Via Napoli in Italy.  It has incredible food!  Their pizzas are incredibly good!  We also shared some chicken parm, fried risotta balls, and spaghetti and meatballs!  Even their salad was awesome!  It was, by far, everyone's favorite meal!  It think we all overindulged a little at that meal...but it was our last day in Disney so we didn't feel too badly about it!  It was unanimously decided that on our next Disney trip, we need to eat there at least twice!

Everyone was so excited to eat at Via Napoli that it inspired some silliness!

Look at the size of that pizza!

Andrew and Kate sharing a dessert!
It was one of the few restaurants that we shared desserts after the meal!

 Hungry, yet?!?

If you're planning a Disney trip, make sure that you make your dining reservations 180 days in advance.  It's even hard to get into some restaurants making them the day you are able to!  We tried to get into Belle's castle and couldn't get a reservation!  Of course, we are a party of 14 so that's an extra challenge!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Melting Hearts with Some "Frozen" Songs

I finally downloaded our vacation photos.  I took a few...or 636, but who's counting?

Actually...I took even more than that because a bunch of pics are on my phone that I still have to upload onto my computer!  Yikes!

I don't want to miss any of the great memories....special family time doesn't happen every day!

I'm so behind on blogging, that I'm honestly not sure where to even start!

I think that a vacation through a mother's eye is probably a lot different than the way my kids perceive things.  After all, they spend a lot more time just enjoying the moment....(I have tried to learn from them!)  Of course, they don't have to worry about packing everything that everyone needs during the day, (i.e. sunscreen, Advil, snacks, changes of clothes for the littles, diapers, wipes, etc., etc.!), or worry about anyone getting lost, or pay attention to the quieter signals that it's time to go back to the hotel and give everyone a swim break and time to recharge so meltdowns can be avoided and the optimum amount of fun can be had!

So while my perfectionist self would like to chronologically go through the vaca from start to end, I'm just going to jump right in!  My friend, Kim, asked me what my favorite memory was when I spoke to her shortly after our vacation ended.  It didn't take more than a few seconds to come up with this:

On the Friday of our trip we spent the day in Hollywood Studios.  It was a really fun day that I will share more about soon, but one of the shows we got to see will always hold a special memory.  With Mike's help, we were able to get a Fast Pass to the Frozen Sing-Along Show.  Frozen is pretty popular in our house among the girls...and Luke is pretty fond of it, too!  The older boys opted out of the show and went looking for snacks....(shocking that hundreds of girls singing "Let It Go" held no appeal!;)

The theater was filled to the brim with Frozen fans.  The show itself is narrated by the two newly appointed historians of Arendelle...who were hysterical.  They told the story of Queen Elsa and there were lots of special appearances from many of the Frozen characters.

So, other than a very entertaining show, what made it special was the reactions of a few of my family members.  First, there were the older girls.  They were absolutely giddy sitting in their seats waiting for the show to start.  Sarah begged Kate to come sit in her lap to watch the show because she wanted so much to have this Frozen experience together as sisters!  They huddled together as the excitement crackled between them, (and the hundreds of other girls(and boys)),  as we waited for everyone to find a seat.

Ellie and Sarah stayed huddled together and Kate climbed on Sarah's lap moments after the picture was taken...and that was her seat for the whole performance!  The love they have for each other was just oozing out all over!  I felt so grateful that God blessed us with these three beautiful girls and that they love each other so much!  To see 3 sisters, separated by over 12 years from the oldest to the youngest, be so excited about one thing was just incredibly touching! 

It was one of those 'living in the moment' times when you just watch in awe at the gifts God has blessed you with...when you soak in their faces with your eyes and their voices with your ears and you just want to absorb every little possible detail and never forget it because you know it's extra special!

Jay chose to come with us to the Frozen show....and he was very glad he did!  Seeing our girls so excited to share the experience together really touched him...and although I did not get a picture, there was a tear, (or two), glistening in his eyes!  Afterwards, he said he was so glad that he got to see the reaction of our girls.  Hearing the reaction of the crowd amazed him, was an incredible moment when the lights went down and a single note begins and an entire theater bursts into song at the same time!  Simply amazing! I should have written down exactly what he said at the moment, but the gist was that seeing the way the theater full of females reacted to this one movie was beautiful and nothing that he really understands.  It was visual proof of the concept of Feminine Genius...(Jay always loves to work JPII into a conversation!)

Towards the end of the show, our girls were totally into it, belting out "Let It Go" with gusto!  Although the lighting was poor and I had a bad angle, I had to catch a little of it on video!  I've never tried adding a video in a blog post before so hopefully it works!


Kate sang Frozen songs all.the.time for the rest of our trip!  I documented one such moment!(again, hopefully it works!)

After the show, Disney made Wandering Oaken's Trading Post.  Along with a gift shop(shocking), there was a play area with snow...which was more like ice shavings....but kids got to dig in it and build snow castles.  Such a super cute idea!

Note the "Anna" braids the girls are sporting!

digging fun!

Our "Frozen" experience at Disney melted our hearts with the love we have for our daughters!  It was without a doubt one of our most special memories from our vacation!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I know that I'm a little late!  I hope that 2015 has been kind to everyone so far!  

I have been very neglectful of my Normal Chaos blog space!  I did warn everyone about my post Christmas hiatus.....but now I'm back!  

I mentioned some special family time....and that was what we had!  Ten whole days in sunny, warm Florida!  It was wonderful having that glorious sunshine and daylight that lasted past 4 o'clock!  There were lots of special memories made!  I may have caught just a few of those memories on my camera!;)

Stay tuned over the next week for lots of pictures and tales about our time away!

We got back on Tuesday night to a house still overrun by Christmas decorations and gifts that have yet to find a home!  I spent yesterday trying to conquer Mount Laundry!  Today, I took down the Christmas tree and that has helped with the clutter!  I'm hoping that after tomorrow and Saturday, I will have the house in some kind of order!  

Going on vacation was so surreal!  The trip has been planned for about a year....but it always seemed so far away!  Since it followed so close to Christmas, all my focus was on celebrating that very special holiday and all of the packing was saved until the two days after Christmas before we left!  

I don't know about you, but when we go away for more than a couple of days, I lose track of time and feel like I'm in a whole different world!  It was VERY strange seeing all the decorations and listening to Christmas music while we were wearing shorts or swimming in a pool!  (But oh so nice!)

I will leave you with a picture of Luke with my parents on our trip. My parents are very generous Disney lovers...(my Mom is a fanatic!)...who love to share that Disney love with their children and grandchildren!  We spent those beautiful 10 days as their guests and we are all very, very grateful for all of the memories!

Stay tuned for lots more pics (and Christmas catch-up) soon!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Somehow Or Other...It Came Just The Same....

To say that our Christmas celebration was one big moment of bliss would be a lie.  My nephew's run- in with the flu forced a 'Plan B' for Christmas Eve since my sil usually hosts.  Then, when I started feeling ill myself on Christmas Eve afternoon, Plan C was put into place.  Basically...we quarantined ourselves.  That was a big disappointment to Jay and the kids.  We tried to make the best of it, but it was certainly not the same!

Earlier on Christmas Eve, when we heard about my nephew's fever and plans changed but I was still feeling ok(a.k.a. still on Plan B), I was working in the kitchen as Sarah walked by singing "Christmas Like a Child" by Third Day.  The line from the song that stuck in my head was, "I want to see Christmas like a Child".(If you don't know the song, take a minute to listen to the youtube link!)

That got me thinking...what do my children think about Christmas?  I think it's about all the wonder and excitement!  I know that in lots of ways Christmas is too commercialized.  We try to keep a balance in our house but we certainly aren't perfect.  What I do love is that, no matter what my kids receive, they are thrilled playing with what they have and, at least so far, their focus has never been on what they didn't get!

In fact, I have tried to simplify more in the last several years.  I find that I am the one that gets caught up in buying too much, doing too much, baking too much....and that "too much" does not equal "more meaningful"!

This year, I tried really hard to have more pray more and only do what "felt right"... To be aware within myself when the thought of buying something, baking something, or committing to something felt like "too much" and to not buy, bake, or commit!  I wanted to live more in the moment and actually enjoy the moment rather than just try to get everything done!

If I have learned anything this year it's this, I.have.limits.  (and when I try to push past those limits, things get ugly!)  I mean, in reality, things always get ugly when we push past limits.  There have been many past moments over my 22 years of marriage of falling into "too much" and ending up stressed to the max, melting down, yelling at everyone that

But this year!  Well, this year has been a doozy!  Now that I'm, ahem, a tad older...I mean, seriously, I get to just shy of 40 and all hell breaks loose, (God was sooo gracious in showing me that I am certainly not invincible).....and months of stomach bugs, strep throat, fifth's disease, hand-foot-and mouth disease, a couple of horrible migraines(for me), bronchitis(again me:), walking pneumonia, and probably other things I've forgotten.....seriously, if it was out there, someone in our house got it(!)...I have been FORCED to work on simplifying and learning to let go of the "too much" or face the ugly consequences.  It's one thing to have a meltdown and quite another to be incapacitated by a migraine for days!

So, simplify is a lesson that God is not allowing me to ignore!  I know that is a blessing, but it's still a huge challenge, especially when it comes to Christmas and all that entails!  As moms, there are lots of super busy moments in the Advent Season!  Being so aware of my physical limits was key this year...avoiding the "too much", knowing when to say when...(I promised myself that I would bake only 2 cheesecakes and 4 types of cookies!)...and using what's in front of me that God provides.  Even when God providing means sending....GASP! bought cupcakes leftover from the family party to Ellie's class Christmas party!  (I know, the "dessert snob" strikes again!)

To get back to my thoughts about "seeing Christmas as a child"....
I thought of the Grinch quote
 But this... this sound wasn't sad. Why... this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without *any* presents at all! He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming, it *came*! Somehow or other... it came just the same.

I was thinking how Christmas comes whether I baked everything I want,
cross out everything on my list, or not,
clean every nook and cranny, or not,
whether everyone is healthy, or not.....
you get the idea! do you make Christmas special, especially when you're on Plan C?!?  Oh, and we also had the joy of some family tension erupting at one point...but, what's a holiday without drama, right?!?  I was thinking  in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve that everything might crumble and we would all end up going to bed in foul moods...either angry or discouraged!  I mean, if it wasn't CHRISTMAS EVE, I would have just suggested that we just give up and try again next week!

Thankfully, we were able to pull it together(for the most part) and end the night on a more positive note. We did it for the kids...well, most of the kids, not the one we were aggravated with!  Oops...did I say that out loud?!?....

I have all the details of our day....lots of pictures....some warm, fuzzy moments and a few moments we would have liked to do without(!), to share......

I still have the pictures from Kate's birthday party from last weekend, that I haven't even uploaded, to share.....

I still haven't written out bills or attempted to balanced the checkbook......

Our house looks like a complete and utter train wreck as the little kids have gone from room to room playing with their new toys and making messes as they go......

I'm still functioning at 65%....(but that's better than not functioning!)....

And we have a little over a day to get ready for some very special family time that I have just barely
begun preparing for......

But, you know what, that's ok!  It won't be perfect...because nothing ever really is!(Especially in a family with a whole bunch of kids with some special needs sprinkled in!  I gave up on perfection years and years ago!!!)

Our Bishop recently came to celebrate Mass at our Parish.  One of the things he said stuck with me.  He talked about each of us having a mission.  Not mind-blowing....but it really touched my heart that day! (Plus, he said it a lot more eloquently than that, but I'm a sleep-deprived mama with limited brain cells after all those pregnancies!)

My mission is my family....and all that matters is that I get to be a part of it and try and create, with God's grace, the symphony we were meant to be!  It's loud and noisy, (and often off-key!), but it's all mine!

So, while I immerse myself in all kinds of family moments for the next 12 days, I will probably be neglecting my little place in the blogosphere!  Since I've written such a loooong post today....(kind of like when our priest has 3 separate sermons rolled into one on the day our kids are the most wiggly and you don't hear much of what he is saying because all you can think is, "Please, God, let him finish", because the pew has become a torture chamber!)....maybe this will make up for it!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your families!  I hope your memories were mostly good....and that you will be able to laugh at the "not so good ones" very, very soon!

I will leave you with a funny pic from Kate's birthday.  Someone in our house, who shall remain nameless, blew out Kate's candles before she got a chance to......

Sometimes.....things don't go as planned!  At least sometimes, all it takes is Dad re-lighting the candles to make it all better!  

I hope that we all have eyes to see those "re-lights the candle" moments that God gives us in 2015!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Guess Who's Three!!!

Happy last Friday of Advent everyone!  There's certainly lots of excitement this time of year and ours ramps up starting today!  Here's some goings on of our family of late and to come!

#1: Happy Birthday!!!
Today is a most important day in the Hamel house!  Kate turns 3! 

I have no idea where these 3 years went!  I cannot believe that my baby girl is 3!  It's exciting and bittersweet all at the same time!  Kate is a sweet and sassy, pinkalicious princess!

Birthday breakfast of french toast and her favorite juice, orange mango tango:)

Present time
We got her more princesses for her princess castle and the Cinderella Coach.
She loved it.
Luke's thoughts:  "These presents are boring, Mommy!"
(He's such a boy!)

Birthday dance...spinning around chanting "I'm three!"

I love this sweet little face!

#2:  The Return
...and I don't mean gifts!  

Andrew and Mike arrived home this week!  They are officially done with their semester.(Jon, too!)  Mike sweated it out with lots of work and stress over maintaining a certain GPA so he can student teach next semester.  He did it....Thank you, God!  It took lots of blood, sweat, and tears...and that was only on our part!  Let me just say that parenting young adults is not for the faint of heart!

#3:  Reaching Vacation
All the kids are starting their Christmas vacations on different days!  That makes the baking for teacher gifts a little confusing!  Today is Peter's last day.  He has 3 teachers, a bus driver and aide, plus some therapists, so the last day of school for him is quite labor intensive!  I did manage to get it all together! down and 3 to go!

#4:  Family Christmas Get-Together
Tomorrow, my Dad's side of the family will be getting together at our house to celebrate Christmas.  That means that today my older boys may regret that their classes are done because they will be my cleaning minions!  The to-do list is on the island just waiting for their sleepy eyes to adjust!  Actually, Mike's still asleep so once I'm done writing this I will be dragging him out of bed!  I need all hands on deck....and I'm hoping they are in "helpful moods" today!  I will be cleaning and baking:  2 apple crisps, cookie dough brownies, and crusts for Sarah's lemon meringue pies!  I will be prepping some cookie dough, too, since we need to bake Saturday night for some friends we will see at Mass Saturday morning!  Busy, busy, busy!

#5:  Birthday Party
Ellie has a Christmas concert at school tonight, so we are having Kate's birthday party on Sunday!  Party weekend at our house!  Kate's favorite is lasagna so that's what we're having for lunch!  So, sometime after Saturday's get-together and 11 am on Sunday morning I need to make homemade spaghetti sauce for the lasagna!  At least the house will be clean from Saturday's party!

#6:  School Christmas Parties
Ellie's Christmas party is on Monday, so we have to do some baking on Sunday night for that!  Luke's Christmas party is on Tuesday and that's also a half day for Sarah and Ellie.  Then, everyone will be home for Christmas break!  The girls can't wait!  Sarah is especially jealous that all of her brothers are home relaxing all day while her teachers are cramming in everything they can by Monday!

#7:  Christmas Week!
And then the real excitement begins!  There will be more baking and cleaning to get ready!  Christmas Eve is at my sil, Jackie's, and Christmas Day is here with a smaller crowd!  What's on my dessert menu?  Reese's peanut butter cheesecake, caramel cheesecake, apple pie, and more cookies!:)
(I have to get everyone's favorites in!;)  

At some point I have to finish up the last of my wrapping and fill the stockings to make sure I didn't forget anything!  That will probably happen on Monday during the day....the bonus of having my older boys home so I can lock myself in my room with some Christmas music and wrap away!(and then run out to grab anything I need!)

That pretty much sums it all up!  I have to say I am not at all least not yet!  My goal is to do enough to make things special for everyone but not so much that I become a Grinch! 

Enjoy the weekend!