holiday

(All of) Christmas 2013

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” —Norman Vincent Peale

Happy Thanksgiving!

I found this in Sophie’s backpack.

my BUVRZ = my brothers
JAZ = James
ON = Owen

“Thanksgiving is the holiday that encompasses all others. All of them … are in one way or another about being thankful.” —Jonathan Safran Foer

Christmas!

Finding the perfect tree at Burlington Tree Farm.

Decorating the tree.

Sophie’s handmade Christmas present to us, from preschool (she couldn’t wait until Christmas to give it to us).

A late night writing Christmas postcards.

Christmas at Great Grandma Gebhart’s house + handmade train whistles from my uncle Skip.

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Pop Pop’s lap overflowing with grandkids.

James and Owen with their new cars from Great Grandma.

Autumn and Amanda

Opening presents.

James’s new Jake the Pirate set from my aunt Ellen and uncle Skip (he loved it).

my grandma

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Aunt Katy and sleepy Colleen

Uncle Kyle and (Great) Uncle Skip

Autumn and her mom, Lisa

Sophie getting some puzzle help from Autumn.

Andy and my uncle Roger in the kitchen.

Aunt Ellen

Christmas at my grandma’s farm, a tradition I’ve long loved.

Nini making pomegranate cosmopolitans.

Nini, Katy and me!

(They were delicious.)

Nini reading Eve Bunting’s Night Tree to the grandkids.

A Christmas gift for the birds—bagels covered in peanut butter and bird seed.

Hanging our gifts on the pine tree.

Mom and Dad (Nini and Pop Pop)

Writing letters to Santa.

Christmas around the house.

Sophie’s preschool Christmas gift to us.

The decorated mantel—Sophie wasn’t pleased with it so she added the ribbon and, if you look close, handmade snowmen hanging from it (of course, I left it).

A Christmas Eve viewing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Andy reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

James and Owen, clearly ready for bed.

More Christmas around the house.

Letters, cookies, milk for Santa, and lots of carrots for the reindeer.

Christmas Eve, right before bed = joy.

He came!

The walk down the stairs.

Christmas morning.

Christmas day at my parents’ house.

Colleen and Sophie

Uncle Kyle

Opening gifts.

Colleen

Colleen’s handmade hand-print wreath (with the help of Nini) to Uncle Tom and Aunt Katy.

Uncle Kyle and Sophie

family

My mom made beautiful teddy bears for each of the grandkids. They loved them.

Kids’ table.

Grown-up table.

The BonBonerie Christmas cookies.

Sophie trying out her new skates …

in my parents completely reorganized, repainted basement.

Christmas around my parents’ house.

Christmas dinner and paper crowns.

James, Owen, Sophie and Colleen

The teddy bears my mom made …

(they’re comfy).

Bliss.

Day-after-Christmas snow.

Gear. So. much. gear. (But of course, no boots. We hadn’t bought them yet.)

The kids’ first snowfall of the season—and their first snowman!

Making the traditional Uhl Family Christmas Cookies with Grandma and Paw Paw.

Owen taking a TV break from making cookies.

So good.

Christmas Eve w/ Grandma and Paw Paw.

Christmas morning—again!

Sophie opening her very special craft box, which Grandma put together.

Paw Paw and Grandma

Early morning sun.

Grandma made a craft box for all three kids—it’s huge and organized and labeled and filled with so many wonderful things—all three children play with it daily (thank you).

Thomas the Train tracks = love.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: The presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” —Burton Hillis

Thanksgiving Holiday Visitors

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The day after Thanksgiving we invited Katy, Tom, Colleen, Kyle and my parents over for dinner. How I wish we all lived closer and could do this routinely, monthly, even. But instead I will be grateful for evenings like these, even though rare.

“When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.” —Joyce Brothers

A Holiday Bazaar

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Early November my mom, Sophie, Owen and James drove up to Lewisburg, OH to attend the annual holiday bazaar at Trinity Lutheran Church.

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My grandma (on the right) is very active in the church and did a lot of work for this event, as she does every year. Like most small-town church holiday bazaars, the homemade food was delicious and inexpensive (when you checked out there was a bowl of free apples, which I’m sure was from someone’s backyard). You could buy everything from candles and homemade fudge to doll clothes and jewelry at the bazaar. I came home with a small, handmade wooden stool for the children to use in our upstairs bathroom and a handmade wooden bench, which is perfect as a coffee table in our living room. The man who made it built a wooden cross for the church, in memory of my grandpa. And I think of that every time I prop my feet up on our new coffee table.

I love the church holiday bazaar, no matter the town. I love that everyone knows everyone and that it can take 20 minutes to walk 20 feet from all the “hellos” and “look how much they’ve grown!” and that by buying these goods, most handmade from neighbors (or, in this case, my grandma’s neighbors), you’re supporting those who surround you, in every sense of the word.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” —Herman Melville

Lollipops for Father’s Day

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Sophie helped me make muffins and wrap the two presents she chose for Andy—yogurt melts and lollipops. I talked and talked and talked to her about the meaning of Father’s Day and the very idea of presents (something the recipient would want, not something the giver would want) and still, after a very long and trying shopping trip, that’s what we ended up with. Upon giving him the gifts she quietly asked if maybe he would share … (He also got two video games, though, to make up for this.)

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She did make a lovely card.

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Sophie then insisted on a tea party with her real tea set. Again, I tried to persuade her to do activities Andy would rather do, but the meaning of the holiday was lost on her this year. Maybe next year. (And thanks, my love, for being so happy and willing and generally wonderful, regardless.)

“Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.” —Bill Cosby

Happy Easter!

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The Easter Bunny hid Sophie’s basket under the dining room table, which, coincidentally, is Sophie’s favorite hiding spot.

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The boys’ baskets were hidden behind throw pillows. Sophie was very eager to help find them.

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Grandma and Paw Paw mailed a package filled with Easter cards and goodies, which the children loved.

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Owen and James enjoying their plastic eggs filled with Puffs and new mirrors while waiting for Dad to make …

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homemade pancakes!

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It was a first for Owen and James—they loved them.

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Here are the beautiful Easter outfits Great Aunt Susie made for the children. Check out her other lovely items here!

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dyeing Easter eggs, belatedly.

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sweet Owen

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attempting an Easter photo shoot

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Pop Pop, Owen, Sophie, James and Nini

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family portrait

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Sophie enjoying a chocolate treat from her basket with Dad

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indoor (everything outside is rain soaked) Easter egg hunt, which Sophie loved

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Nini and James

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James, Pop Pop and Owen

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Later that afternoon everyone was pretty cranky so Andy suggested we all go outside and spend some time on the porch, despite the rain—it turned out to be a fantastic idea. The boys loved swinging on the porch swing and Sophie loved jumping in the rain puddles.

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post-Easter crash

“I think of the garden after the rain;
And hope to my heart comes singing,
At morn the cherry-blooms will be white,
And the Easter bells be ringing!” —Edna Dean Proctor

Christmas—A Pictorial Essay

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“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” ~Charles Dickens

Visiting Santa

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James, clearly very excited

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Owen, too sleepy to care

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The view from the line.

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First up, Sophie. She so desperately wanted to tell Santa what she wanted—a butterfly net. And up until we got to the front of the line, she was determined, and excited, to sit on his lap. But when the time came, she froze. So I carried her up there. Although a little fuzzy, I love this picture. In it, she’s talking to Santa. She’s telling him what she wanted—a butterfly net. But her body language proves just how terrified she was to be up close and personal with the man in red.

Still, this is a (small) improvement from 2008. And 2009.

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The boys handled the experience surprisingly well.

“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus! … There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.” —Francis P. Church

Christmas Around Our House

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Last year Sophie made this beautiful painted wreath with Nini as a surprise Christmas present for Andy and me. This year my mom transferred a picture of her making it onto fabric and sewed it on the back. We used a tension rod to hang it across the middle window behind our window seat. I love it.

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I needed to turn our dining room centerpiece (Japanese Lantern Stems in a Profile Vase, both from Crate and Barrel) into something more fitting for winter. So I ordered some Iced Birch Branches from Nettleton Hollow, which, I think, did the trick.

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Finally, we have an advent calendar. Sophie enjoyed moving the marker (when we would remember).

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This year I used velvet ribbon from Sundance to wrap presents—upon its arrival I thought it looked so pretty I put it in a handmade wooden bowl and used that as a centerpiece on our kitchen table.

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My mom has made stockings for all of us and this year she had two more to make—one for Owen (top) and one for James (bottom). She continued the tree theme (and each stocking has a small, heart-shaped button near the root of a tree). James got stars out of respect for his middle name—Orion. They’re perfect.

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lighted snowflakes in the window

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Andy’s mom ordered handmade Christmas outfits from her sister, Susan. The kids looked so cute in them and they served as nice bedroom decorations while waiting to be worn.

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Sophie and I spent a particularly cold morning making a Christmas paper chain out of red and green construction paper for her art area—the boys watched the process from a blanket on the floor nearby.

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Christmas cards

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backyard snow

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” —Norman Vincent Peale