Friday, December 26, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Tubing

I'm still playing catch up so this is just going to be another photo dump with a little narration.

The day after Christmas we headed to a ski place that also has tubing lanes.  Unfortunately we didn't get the white Christmas we were expecting, but the place makes snow so there were still a few lanes open.  We had a great time and hope next year it actually snows so we can go again and try the bigger hills!

Sarah was obsessed with making snow angels and kept trying.  It doesn't really work with ice.

Cody tried too.

They tried to have a snow ball fight.

But ice balls hurt to get hit with.

The group, with Nina their foreign exchange student.

Waiting to go down the hill.

So, when we got there to buy our tickets, I was wearing Charlie.  The lady glared at me and told me it was one person per tube.  I told her I wasn't going to wear Charlie and we were planning on take turns.  But then we got outside and saw the crazy lines and I thought, what the heck I'll give it a try.  So I wore him up the top of the mountain and waited in line.  When it was our turn I plopped down in my tube like it was totally fine and the girl sent us down the hill. 

Then after our first trip down the hill, when we got back to the top the girl that let me go switched out with a different guy.  I plopped down and he looked at me funny.  I said, "it's cool, he likes it."  The guy made some joke about how he's sure he's supposed to stop us because it's only one person per tube but in that carrier Charlie and I were basically one he pushed us down the hill.  So from that point on we just waited in that guys line instead of trying to convince someone else it was ok.  

By the end the kid said, "you know it doesn't even look strange to me now."  And he took a group shot of us before our last time down.

It was a lot of fun.  Sarah and Cody really enjoyed it.  Hopefully next time there will be real snow and the super lanes will be open when you can link more than 5 tubes together.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Christmas 2014

It was a Smith year for Christmas.  And even though my folks are in Thailand it was important that we all got together.  Thankfully, Pete and Elizabeth offered to host.  They always do a great job with Thanksgiving.

It was nice spending the holiday together.  But I definitely missed my parents.

Anyway, I'm back dating this post so I'm basically just going to dump pictures real quick.

Cody is not a morning person so there are NO pictures of him smiling opening presents.  This is about as good as it got.

Sarah on the other hand, IS a morning person and was over joyed with each gift.

Another Cody "smile"

After presents and breakfast it was time to FaceTime the folks.  They had to stay up late so that we could open presents first.  Everyone took a turn in front of the lap top chatting for a bit.

Then we just enjoyed the rest of the day playing and hanging out.  Pete and Elizabeth got Spheros which was rather entertaining to watch Charlie chase around.
He was pleased when he'd catch it.

I'm pretty impressed with this picture.  I found it on my camera and I didn't take it. So that means that they set up my camera without a tripod and put the self timer on to take this and many other.  But it's a great shot.

Thanks for a great Smith family Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Christmas Crafts

I really didn't do so well at the 12 Days this year.  So I'm just going to do a photo dump and call it good.  Sorry folks.

We did 3 Christmas crafts this year.  The traditional cotton ball snowmen.

Seriously, this was the best shot.

We also took them to Hobby Lobby to pick out a couple of craft kits because I knew I was phoning it in this year.  They picked these little winter figures to color.

And we also bought a little kit of ornament decorating to put on our tiny tree we borrowed from Ma and Pa Schwartz.

And that was all the Christmas crafts we did this year.  I must admit, I missed having the back door decorated with all the different crafts we've done the past two years.  I'll have to do better next year.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Christmas Concert (Day 6)

Our friend Susan is a middle school band director.  It's always tons of fun to go to her concerts.  One of my favorite memories was one year Cam and I sat behind the photographer and when they were doing their official band pictures we were waving and acting like idiots.  And Susan and Dr. Wood's couldn't tell it was us and they were laughing at the "embarrassing parent".  Ha!

Anyway, this year for our 12 days we took the kids to hear Susan's band.  It was very exciting.  My kids looked forward to it all day.  They kept asking if Aunt Susan was going to let them play the drum and the cymbals.  

Of course, she did!

Cody and Steffanie playing the cymbal.

Sarah and Cody both love Christmas music so they enjoyed the concert.  Sarah would sing along with the songs she knew.  

I'm always so impressed with Susan's concerts.  I'd say Steffanie's too, but I've yet to make it to one of those.  (Ooops)  Everything down to her warming up her band and getting them in tune impresses me.  Any fool can learn how to teach kids math.  But I think it takes real talent to be able to hear and recognize different pitches and if this is right and exactly what instrument is off and how they need to change it.  And just keeping up with all the various melodies and rhythms.  I mean.  I am especially impressed now that I faux do music at church.  Gee whiz I have some talented and impressive band director friends.

But as much as my kids enjoyed the concert, I think they enjoyed playing on the interments afterwards.

Sarah also pretended to conduct her band.

Oh the way home, I was hungry and the kids were so good that we popped into Chili's to get a little dessert.  I picked the chocolate lava cake thing, Chris picked the skillet cookie.  Before the deserts came Sarah was sitting across from me and Cody across from Chris.  But when the food came out my little mini me yelled, "I want the chocolate cake" so he switched with Sarah.  Because Cody and I have the same chocolate cravings.  

Afterwards as he was walking out he announced to the waitress and consequently because he was so loud, the whole restaurant, "I ate the whole volcano!  It was chocolate!  Chocolate is FANTASTIC!" 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Going Postal

There seems to be a new holiday trend in my Facebook newsfeed.  And it's making me sad.  And then a little grumpy because I seem to be having a grumpy holiday season.  Sorry folks, Grinchville, population: Me!  Seriously, I didn't even decorate this year.

Yep, that's all this year folks.  A tiny borrowed Christmas tree with no ornaments.

But I digress.  There seems to be a trend of glorified ba-humbuging the traditional Christmas card.  Many people have proclaimed through status updates, "Hey everyone we've decided not to send out Christmas cards this year.  Sorry!"  and then a lovely family picture is included in the post.

And that's pretty lame folks.

But the one that is seriously making me go postal is what I am calling the holier than thou Christmas Card post.  It goes something like this, "Hi everyone, we've decided not to do Christmas cards this year.  It's just gotten too expensive so we'd rather use that money to give to charity and make the world a better place."  This one I find particularly annoying because they are missing the charity that is the Christmas card.  I can write a check to charity any day.  In fact, I write 10% of my income to charity.  So does my husband.  Happily and without fail we write those checks.  But in a way that's just faceless giving.

I'm handing over some money to an organization and saying, here you take care of this and find someone who needs it.

But when I send a Christmas card I'm giving more than just handing someone else some money to deal with.  I am giving that family I send my Christmas card to a greater gift.  I am giving them my love.  I am showing them whether we keep in touch on Facebook or not that at this holiday season I have personally thought of them.  Maybe I included a handwritten note, maybe I didn't.  But I did write their name on an envelop and send them a little piece of my heart and good will this holiday season.

And today, someone one upped that annoying post by including this lovely link with an "Amen".
I am not sending you a Christmas card this year.

So Kate, and all you other glorified-holier-than-thou-Christmas-card-ba-humbugers, here are 3 reasons why I AM sending you a Christmas card this holiday season.

1.  Cost.  I keep my Christmas cards simple.  It's the thought and the sentiment that counts.  So I ordered 50 photo cards from Costco, ($14.99) and some stamps, ($0.49 x 50 = $24.50), for a grand total of $39.49.  So for $0.79/card I am able to show my love and spread holiday cheer to 50 people.  For $0.79/card, 50 people will go to their mail boxes this holiday season and have at least one piece of mail that day that is NOT A BILL.  For $0.79/card, 50 people will know that I am thinking about them.  When the holidays are busy and everyone is running around, for a least a few moments, their family was the only thing I was thinking about.  And that's gotta make them feel good.  So, yeah, I think I can spare about 40 bucks this year to help 50 families in my lives feel my love for them.

2.  Time IS precious  Part of the Christmas card is the gift of my time.  As I previously mentioned in that moment when I sat there and happily addressed those envelopes with my festive red pen, I'd scrawl their name and address on the envelop and think of their family.  My mind would drift to memories of good times we've shared.  Or of how their influence has blessed my life.  I would think of their kids and last pictures they posted on Facebook.  What a precious time I have thinking of my dear friends, all 50 of them that make the cut this year, even if it is only for a few moments on each name as I address the envelop.  It's funny, this time is so precious it actually goes by pretty fast.  I got all my cards addressed last night in 20 minutes.  Yep, that even included having to send out a few Facebook messages to get updated addresses.  Still, only 20 minutes.  So, let's check that again, I spared 20 minutes of my time to spread joy to 50 families.  Yep.  I think that's worth it.

Now, in all fairness, because I actually do love doing handwritten correspondence, about 18 of those 50 people also got a handwritten note slipped in the envelop.  I don't do that most years but this year I had some extra time.  That took me about an hour.  Still not bad.  And if you're one of those 18 people you should feel *extra* loved.

3.  "You Already Know What We've Been Doing This Year" Dear friends who follow me on Facebook, even you Annie who only lives 3 miles from my house, yet you are all on my Christmas card list.  Isn't it wonderful that you mean so much to my life that when it comes to celebrating Christmas, even on a grumpy year for me, I can't bear the thought of not sending you a little joy in the form of a Christmas card.  You've probably already seen the picture I put on the card.  That's ok.  I hope you enjoy having it in your hands.  There's just something so different and special about holding a printed picture isn't there?  It's why even though digital media is so popular there is still nothing better than a scrapbook to flip through.  I hope you keep this card, and do you know why, because I keep yours.  Especially my dear friends who I have known since college or the early years of marriage.  I get your card each year and I treasure it.  I lovingly tape it to my door frame and smile at it as I look at how your kids have grown.  There are a select few of you whose cards I actually keep all year on my pantry door.  I love getting your new card and seeing the changes in your family.  I know we follow each other on Facebook and I think that's what makes it even more special that at this time of the year I wanted to personally reach out to you.  Because I love you.

So folks, I hope you too find the time and joy in sending Christmas cards.  You never know how much that card may mean to the person that receives it.  Plus I've already proven it takes about $40 and 20 minutes so get off that high horse and address some envelops.

Merry Christmas!
Here's mine, ready to be stamped and dropped in the mail tomorrow.

The Schwartz's vs 12 Days of Christmas 2014 (Day 5)

The Elf came to Schwartzville.

We got an elf 2 years ago when it was new and all the rage.  We went out and got one and Sarah was far to young to understand it.  Then last year, we just flat out could not find it up in the attic.  It was missing.  Ha!

This year, even though we are minimally doing stuff, when Chris was up in the attic looking for something, I honestly can't remember what, he found the Elf on the Shelf.  So he brought it down and read it to the kids.

So since today is Sunday, or fun Christmas activity was reading the Elf on the Shelf to the kids.  They got to name him, and introduced themselves to him.  His name is Red.  He's not going to be a fun Elf because I'm just not that into it.  So we're simply going to let him fly around the house from one location to another.  That's good enough for me.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Schwartz's vs the Fireman Breakfast 2014 (Day 4)

This is by far Chris's FAVORITE activity we do during the 12 days.  For a couple reasons, 1) man food. They usually have more bacon, sausage, and biscuits with gravy then it should seem humanly possible.  And they encourage seconds, thirds, and don't look down at you when you ask for just a plate of bacon.  2) Ego stoking.  Every fireman there is asking Chris if he wants to join (it's put on by the volunteer firefighters).  He always walks away full of bacon and himself.

This year Santa brought the kids little presents and passed them out.  Sarah got a pop up coloring princess castle thing.  She, of course loved it because it hit the main high lights of her life, it was pink, it was princess, and it was a present.  Cody got a cool Arctic Batman thing.  And because he doesn't quite get it, he was a little annoyed.  He looked at it and then looked at me, "I asked for planes!"  I had to explain to him that he could go give that back to Santa and get nothing if he wanted and that Santa doesn't bring the special gift he asked for until Christmas.  This was a bonus present.  This seemed to make sense for him so he appreciated it after that.  I know shouldn't have laughed but it was just a classic Cody face of "get it right Santa, geeze man, last night pjs and now some batman toy?  I said, P-L-A-N-E-S".  Sometimes it's hard to be mad at him when he shoots me looks I know I give people.

This was our 3rd year doing this and the first year it wasn't raining or freezing cold.  So after a great breakfast the kids actually got to play on the fire truck. And they were in heaven.

Cody even got to blow the horn.

Fireman Breakfast 2014