Friday, December 26, 2014

Picture of the Week - 12/26/2014

Oops!  I totally forgot about the POTW yesterday.  Totally!  And that NEVER happens.  Oops!!

I suppose it's a good sign that I forgot.  I had so much fun yesterday with my family I didn't even think about writing an update email.  Forgive me???

We had a blast.  Seriously!  An awesome time from pre-dawn to post-dark.  What a great day!  I hope you all had a blast too!

I'll share a couple of my favorite pictures just in case you aren't on Facebook.  If you are, sorry again - these are all repeats.  Also, in case you missed it, I wrote an extra post about our trip on the Polar Express this week too.  It's up on the blog if you want to check it out.  There are some GREAT selfies of Berber with the boys up there!

I hope you all had a fantastically, magical Christmas.  And have a safe and happy New Year's Eve - I'll catch ya in 2015!!

If you need us the rest of this week, we will be busy digging out of mounds of new toys and clothes and boxes.  Seriously, mounds...  it's like our family is loved or something.  :)

The view from my chair is pretty awesome!

Matching Christmas Jammies Family Selfie on Christmas Eve - LOVE 

Our traditional Santa Hat picture of the boys.  I love these guys SO much!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Men (almost) in time for Merry Christmas

I really wanted to wait until this was totally done before I made a blog post about it, but I didn't make it time for Christmas Eve.  And then I saw Bonnie Hunter's Holiday link up and I decided I would bite the bullet and put this up early.  Who knows...  maybe I'll actually finish the binding tonight just in time for Santa to be impressed.

I made these fun little ghosts (Boo Brothers) back at Halloween time and my husband suggested that I make some for Christmas.  I'm SO glad I did!  I love these guys!!

Here's my design for the Merry Men... 

I picked out golds and greens to match my dining room.  :)

Sorry for the terrible picture - table runners are kind of hard to photograph!

After a LONG hiatus (through Thanksgiving and Christmas prep) I finally pulled these guys back out to get them finished up.

Here's my favorite tree getting basted and ready for quilting.
I decided to go SUPER easy and do a very simple quilt design on these guys.  It went really fast, but now I am absolutely kicking myself for not finding some metallic thread to use for the quilting.  Oh well... 

I'm not quite done with this yet.  The binding needs to get finished, but that may have to wait until Christmas festivities settle down a bit.  I've got a houseful of little boys and a whole bunch of traditions to enjoy!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Polar Express 2014

Way back in 2006 we heard about this Polar Express train ride through the mountains.  As relatively new parents of 2 and 4 year old boys, deep in the spirit of Christmas, we thought it would be a great opportunity!  So we bought tickets, grabbed my parents, piled into the manvan and headed north into the Great Smokey Mountains. 

And it WAS a great day!  We enjoyed a drive through the mountains, did some shopping, and had a great time on the train.  We drank hot chocolate from paper cups and took home small jingle bells on tiny pieces of red ribbon.  We had Christmas fun!

Spencer and Quinn - 2006

Even if the actual train ride was a little bit of a letdown*.

*It's hard to be overly impressed with events like this after you have been to Disney World.  I'm not knocking this or any other low budget production.  It's just a fact.  Disney has spoiled us all to expect not only a fun time, but nothing short of immersion into a fantasy.  The Polar Express ride with the Disney touch applied would have had the entire route along the train tracks rid of garbage and undesirable views.  We would not have seen the low income housing units.  We would have been shielded from anything undecorated or unclean.  There would have been fake snow and Christmas lights for miles.  The destination, the North Pole, would have been spectacularly laid out and designed with every detail perfectly in place.  Santa would have a sea of elves and the Christmas cheer would be non-stop from start to finish. 

But one thing would be the same - the people we rode with and the fun we had.  Even the magic of Disney can't top spending a day with the people I love most in this world. 

We decided after that first trip that it was a nice time, but not something we were in a hurry to repeat.

And then we had another set of boys.  And we got to start the whole process over again.  I've written many times about how blessed I feel to be able to relive - quite literally - some of the best parts of being a parent.  (Also the bad stuff...  but it's easy to get through that stuff when you know it's just a passing phase.) 

Sharing Christmas with kids is right up there with one of the best things God could have ever given us as thanks for raising a family.

At 3 and 5 our little boys are smack in the middle of the Christmas sweet spot.  They delight in everything they see.  Driving around looking at lights with them is enough BY ITSELF to renew your Christmas spirit.  They believe - REALLY BELIEVE - in the Christmas magic.  And looking through their eyes it's easy to get swept along in the true magic of the season. 

Christmas with kids is MAGICAL!

We decided it was time to make another trip to the North Pole via the Polar Express.  So we bought tickets, grabbed my parents, and headed north into the Great Smokey Mountains. 

And it was a GREAT day!

We got to town early and had coffee at a quaint little shop.  We wondered around cute little antique stores and had a quick lunch before boarding our train. 

We were delighted in the upgraded insulated cups - with lids - and the addition of a chocolate chip cookie snack.  We laughed and cuddled and thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas music along the way.  We even got to hear the whole Polar Express story before Santa got on board. 

All the boys had a chance to talk to Santa briefly and they all got their bells.  These bells are a significant improvement over the bells of 8 years ago.  These ones are stamped with "The Polar Express" and are Christmas tree ornament worthy.

Beck really enjoyed his hot chocolate!
It was a great trip!  Maybe one we will never do again, but I will cherish the memories we made along the way. 

This really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Picture of the Week - 12/18/2014

One week until Christmas!!! 

We have hit our holiday stride in the Bovenizer house!  And it's awesome!!

We are quickly nearing the end of school for the year and work for a while.  We have all presents wrapped up and ready to go.  And I'm kind of giddy with excitement about getting to watch everyone open up their goodies.  There are some I'm looking forward to more than others.  And I know just what shape they are and what wrapping paper I used so I can focus attention at the right time.  I can't wait!!

Here's another thing I'm DYING for...  matching Christmas Eve jammies.  I'm sending up a silent plea that I can get a second of cooperation from the boys to grab a picture in their matching PJs.  Because - cuteness overload!!!  (Also, PLEASE let Spencer's top be big enough... cause it looks iffy...)

Speaking of matching...  check out this picture of the little boys.  It makes me smile a bunch and cry a little.  Bob picked out these sweaters for them to wear to their Holiday celebrations at Goddard on Tuesday.  They were SO cute.  It's pretty darn adorable to watch a bunch of little kids sing carols while wearing reindeer antlers.  These happen to be sweaters that my big boys wore when they were little - which is both heartwarming and heart wrenching! 


In fact, Spencer and Quinn wore these sweaters when we went on the Polar Express many years ago.  Check them out!

We are getting ready for another Polar Express trip this Saturday.  The boys are SO excited - especially Zane.  He has big plans for his trip to the North Pole!  I can't wait to watch that excited little jump/dance thing he does when he's super duper happy.  It should be an awesome day!

I will end with a picture of our little reindeer family.  I don't know if I've ever shared a picture of our happy little Christmas lawn family.  :)  And they are some of my favorite things!  (PS - notice the new OSU gnome in the corner???  How cute is that!?!?!  Thanks Grandpa Bob)

Have a great week everyone.  This time next week I fully expect to be filled to the brim with Holiday cheer and Monkey Balls while wading through a sea of used wrapping paper and listening to the Pentatonix Christmas album.  Cheers!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Picture of the Week - 12/11/2014

First of all I owe many of you a big thank you for putting up with my whining last week!  I got back many words of encouragement and appreciated every single one of them!  I'm in a MUCH better frame of mind this week!

Developments since last Thursday include:
  1. We only had to drive to Stockbridge one time.  While it was sad that Spencer's team lost and his little league football career is officially over, it is also a relief that we didn't have to juggle that schedule last week!
  2. Quinn's lacrosse team went 0-4 in their tournament last weekend.  Not super fun to lose, but it IS super fun to watch Quinn play!  More on that in a minute...
  3. My baking is DONE and DELIVERED!
  4. My hives are gone and the allergist confirmed yesterday that I am NOT allergic to any foods.  I'm officially diagnosed as idiopathic chronic hives and have instructions on what to do if I have another episode.  All in all, while an awful experience, it could have been MUCH worse.
  5. We were able to get a visit to Santa done last Saturday.  I make it sound like a chore...  and it kind of is.  I have 3 believers and one of them wouldn't go near the jolly elf.  On the bright side, Zane made sure Santa knows what Beckett would like under the tree. 
  6. And in related news...  my shopping list is down to the last few things.  (I freaking LOVE Amazon!!!) 
  7. I am down to 6 days of work left this year. 
  8. We have another lacrosse tournament this weekend, but now that we've done one, we know what to expect which makes things somehow much easier.

I still have some stuff on my "must" do list, but I'm not sweating it.  I will attempt to get some traditional photos taken this week.  It will make me very sad if I can't convince them all to put on a santa hat in front of the tree again this year.  But with a 3 year old in the house...  everything is iffy.

I thought I would share some pictures of Quinn from the tournament last weekend.  He had a couple of OK games and one REALLY great one.  He scored 7 goals in total and 4 in one game.  

This is Quinn waiting to go into the game.  Yes, that is a yeti with a lacrosse stick on his sock.

Action shot!  Quinn has the ball and is jetting across the field!

Having a big brother is often helpful!  In one of the games, Quinn was matched up with this giant kid.  He showed no fear and had no issue dropping a hip into the dude going after a ground ball. 

And this last picture I just had to share because it cracks me up.  Rooster has taken to LOVING on Ozzie pretty regularly.  When he's in the mood, he will rub all over Ozzie's legs.  It's pretty hilarious because Oz always looks embarrassed about the whole thing.  LOLOL

I hope you all have a great week!  Hard to believe that Christmas is already just 2 weeks away!  I'm feeling more and more Christmas spirit every day.  This is another benefit of having the little boys around.  It's kind of impossible not to get caught up in all the fun, festive holiday stuff with them.  Yesterday Zane came home from school with 8 decorated paper candy canes.  They were all different.  Some had words on them, some pictures of trees or stars, and some were just colored.  Zane insisted on taping them all over the house.  There was a time that may have bothered me, but right now I love it! 

Go color a paper candy cane and tape it to your door!  Bet it will make you smile too!

PS - Wish Bob a Happy Birthday tomorrow.  We will be celebrating this weekend with another trip to the speed and agility camp Friday night and another lacrosse tournament Saturday/Sunday.  Good thing he loves his boys!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Picture of the Week - 12/4/2014

I'm feeling conflicted!  It's not really good to be conflicted this time of year.  It's better to be calm and relaxed and able to focus on fun family things. 

Instead I'm conflicted.  I have all sorts of stuff I'm conflicted about. 

Let's start with what I know is your favorite topic for me to write about - youth sports.  I spend tons of keystrokes sharing youth sports information and thoughts with you guys.  I know you are probably all VERY sick of reading about it.  But I can't really help it.  These activities take up a huge percentage of our time, our planning, our attention, our energy, and our money.  And for the most part it's all pretty enjoyable.  But I'm ready for things to be over.  And I'm conflicted that they aren't.

This weekend is the Born To Compete youth football tournament.  This is where they pull together all the top teams from all the travel leagues in the area to compete against each other.  We got an invite to the tournament despite losing in our league championship game.  Blessing...  or curse.  This championship is being played in Stockbridge.  If you are looking at Atlanta on a map and overlaid a clock with the center on the downtown, we live at about 12:00.  Stockbridge is about 5.  And they are FAR apart - easily an hour and a half without traffic.  But there WILL be traffic...  the first game is scheduled for tonight (just on the other side of rush hour) and we will have to drag our butts down there every day until they lose.  Spencer will have to get pulled out of school early to make it to the game in time (CRAZY) and I don't expect them home until near midnight.  Then we get to do it again tomorrow if they win.  Sound fun?

I mean conflict is normal right?  I want the team to do well.  I want Spencer to get to play.  They have moved him into a situation where he gets lots and lots of key playing time.  In the championship game a couple weeks ago he played almost every down (both offense and defense) in the first half and most of the defensive snaps in the second half.  Quite the difference from last year where he got to go in for only the last 3 plays of the game.  So yes...  I'm glad Spencer will have a chance to play some more with this team.  It continues to be one of the best experiences I could have hoped for him to have.  But UGH - Stockbridge - on a weeknight - BLAH!

I'm conflicted.

Then there's lacrosse.  We have been SO blessed to have landed Quinn on a team with such a great head coach.  He has nurtured Quinn and believed in him when I don't think many others would have.  Coach Jim's patience has been rewarded lately as all the sudden Q has found some confidence - and a wicked shot on goal.  He's a scoring machine the last few weeks.  And he's having a BLAST with this core group of kids who has decided to stick together.  They all signed up together to play winter indoor lacrosse.  (So much for basketball...)  Then they all decided they wanted to join a couple of winter tournaments - just for fun.  These tournaments seemed like a great idea when they were in the discussion phase.  Now that we are on the eve of the first one, I'm conflicted.

The Reindeer Games (adorable, right???) start Saturday morning.  Our first (of 3) game of the day starts at 9.  It's supposed to rain.  And the location is in Emerson, GA.  Remember that clock - well Emerson is at about 10:00 - but kind of off the clock and halfway up the wall.  We're thinking an hour from our house - probably nearly 3 hours from the football location.  (Jealous yet?)  We will finish up on Saturday with our 3rd game around lunchtime.  Probably just in time for a 3 year old meltdown.  And if we happen to have won football games on Thursday and Friday we will haul ourselves clear across Atlanta to go watch some more football. 

Sunday morning we will play at least one more lacrosse game - regardless of their record on Saturday - and could be lucky enough to play up to 3 more.  And then there's the possibility of trekking back across the state of Georgia for more football. 

Is it wrong of me to hope (even just a little) for some early losses?  Soooo conflicted.

And then there's the conflict going on in the upstairs of my house.  It involves moving lots of stuff from one place to another.  You see...  all 4 boys are moving rooms.  And it's more than a little chaotic!

This all started when Beck moved out of his crib and into a big boy bed.  And then quickly out of his room and onto the bottom bunk in Zane's room.  Our upstairs has 4 bedrooms.  One of them is the master and no boys allowed in there!  Spencer and Quinn have been sharing the biggest of the rooms almost the entire time we've lived in the house.  Zane was in our old spare bedroom and Beck had the strangely shaped nursery.  Our plan was to leave S and Q where they were, bunk Z and B together and turn the little room into a "boys' lounge" with comfy chairs and a TV and stuff. 

It was a good plan.

Then Spencer started asking for his own room.  At first I was like "No! No!  No!"  And it wasn't because I didn't want the work of moving them or whatever.  I really was keeping them together because I thought (and maybe still do) that it was the best thing for them. 

Sharing a room forced them - sometimes literally - to communicate with each other, compromise regularly, and share just about everything.  Did it occasionally cause conflict - sure.  But show me a pair of siblings in different rooms who never have conflict.  Sharing a room was also, whether they will ever admit it or not, comforting.  Neither of the big boys (but especially the biggest) likes the dark very much.  Having your brother right next to you is a reassurance that you aren't going to get in your own room.  So I said "No" and changed the topic.

But I was conflicted.

Spencer kept asking.  And while I did/do have some good reasons for resisting, it was also pretty apparent that maybe the boys needed some privacy as they got a bit older.  We had the room and maybe we should use it.  It was when I sat down to do a little math and realized that when Zane is the age Spence is now, Spencer will be gone to college.  (GASP!)  So maybe that move to middle school was kind of a right of passage and should come with a solo bedroom.

(I'm still conflicted...)

But we started the plans.  We repainted the nursery - which was to be Quinn's new bedroom - and started moving all kinds of clothes from one end of the house to the other.  We are short a dresser and a couple of bookshelves.  We still have stuff stacked on the floor and in laundry baskets.  Zane's clothes are still split across 2 different rooms.  It's a chaotic mess.  BUT - in the end, I think it's going to be good.  The big boys are thrilled.  The little boys have more room in the "big room" than they did before.  I guess I just need to get past my conflict.  I need to just enjoy the fact that this chaos is making 4 little dudes happy.

I am trying hard not to be conflicted about the season.  It's all a little overwhelming.  In addition to all the regular stuff (work, laundry, cooking, cleaning, kids) and the extras piled on with these tournaments, there's holiday shopping and baking and wrapping.  I went into this year without a good "wish list" of stuff to buy.  So there has been lots of head scratching and brainstorming.  I'm still not done shopping - which probably doesn't sound like a big deal to most people, but all 3 of our weekends between now and Christmas are already spoken for.  Yikes.  The crunch is on.

And then we layer on some illness.  Why not!  I've got 2 kids who have head colds - one barfed at school yesterday so he's home.  (Wave to Zane.)  And a 3rd who is starting a cough.  Thank goodness for Quinn...  he's somehow immune to 95% of the junk in the house.  I am also struggling with a very weird allergic reaction that sprung up last Saturday and won't go away.  Think persistent, wake-you-in-the-night, rashes and swelling and general YUCK.  I'm on prednisone - which is making me mean - and antihistamines - which are making me tired.  I'm SO conflicted because I want to be bright and cheery and holiday in spirit, but really all I feel like doing is laying down.

I'm sure my conflict go away.  We will survive this weekend and everyone will start to feel better.  We will replace some of the "have to" stuff on the calendar with some "want to" stuff - and where we can't we will strive to find some "want to" in even the most mundane "have tos". 

But this week...  really hasn't been a good one.  I'm conflicted.  But I know this too shall pass.  And next week is another chance to get into the spirit of Christmas and enjoy these little dudes of ours.

Until then...  try to find some holiday cheer on our behalf!  And don't forget to wish Berber a Happy Birthday tomorrow!  We'd love to celebrate with her, but it might have to wait until January!!