Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Day!

Our Christmas Day began in a relaxing manner. The kids woke up around 8. Instead of running to the tree, they chit chatted together like they always do, and sauntered down the hall. Mark had to announce Santa had come before they got really excited. I headed downstairs to retrieve our stockings from the mantel and then the hoopla began.

This is the combine for Dean's Playmobil Farm Set from Santa. He has played with it daily since Saturday.
Marly got a Playmobil Doll House.

At 4 pm the Thompson Family arrived to celebrate and enjoy ham dinner (courtesy of Kowalski's). This year, we took the time to do some family photos.
Thanks Pat for taking great pictures. This year I made Snapfish photo albums of the Thomberg's in 2010 for both sets of grandparents. Now I have pictures to start out the 2011 album.
Mark, sister Kelly, and brother Jeff.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Traditional Christmas Eve

Weather permitting, it is tradition to head to Hector, attend church at First Lutheran, and then have dinner with the Melberg's.

Per tradition, we light candles in church and sing Silent Night (or mumble if you are a Melberg).

Per tradition, we eat Swedish Meatballs and cheesy potatoes.

We were Aunt Carol's and Uncle Loren's this year and they were delicious. A newer tradition to our family - a visit from Santa.

Marly and Dean received Dr kits and personalized Dr white coats.

Here they are with their Nanny Dr. Chris, who helps the sick kids (for real)!

The best tradition of all - Gathering and spending time together with our cousins, aunts and uncles. Simply being a family, with many years of strong, stable history.

Mikayla, Wilson, Maria,
Jason holding Kaylee, Santa Jared, Sutton, Saxton.
Marly, Dean, Dylan, Aiden (and Sawyer somehow got cut-out...)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Celebrating with my family

As mentioned, we celebrated Christmas with my family last Thursday evening at Brett and Rachel's on Pierson Lake. The festivities began with water skiing around the kitchen. Brett is determined his niece and nephew WILL learn to ski this summer. He is investigating the best kids training skis to teach them on. For now, they learned about holding the rope!
After prime rib, it was time to open gifts.
We didn't do a very good job capturing the family this year at all.

Our little collegians. Chris's son Kevin studied theater in Oxford this summer.

Me opening a gift from Brett and Rachel.

Dean has been asking for a fire truck from Santa for weeks. He got both a fire truck and a fireman's costume.

**This photo is in memory of my dear Uncle Jon (who was the Fire Chief for many years in Hector), and in honor of my Cousin Dawn (Chief for the Bird Island Volunteer Fire Department).**

Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Twas 2 nights Before Christmas Eve, and so forth.

As I begin to blog about Christmas, it is Sunday evening. In the week ahead, I'll post about our lovely holiday, so I might as well "start out at the very beginning, a very good place to start..."

(**Can you tell I am watching the Sound of Music in the background!**)

Anyway... last Wednesday evening Mark and I began to put together Dean's Santa Gift - The Playmobil Mega Farm Set purchased from Costco. I had been warned by another Playmobil fan mom to plan for a long set up time. We started around 8:30. At 10:30 Mark gave in. I spent another hour before heading to bed, and decided the shed included could wait until Uncle Jeff came on Christmas Day. He is a DREAM with that kind of stuff. I told Dean Santa had left the shed in the garage because the elves got backed up. I suspect when he is 4 this lie won't work anymore.

Thursday the kids and I headed to Kowalski's on Lyndale in Minneapolis. It was time for the holidays to begin! We were picking up our complete ham dinner for Christmas with the Thompsons. Mark told me I would be much more 'pleasant' (Tolerable!!) if I didn't try and cook, on top of travelling about for the Christmas Eve. Mark is a smart man. Byerly's doesn't offer a ham meal. The first Kowalski's I called was sold out. Jackpot when I called the next location. Kowalski's is a good cook and a fair value. What the heck, add the cookie platter too please!

(I did make that Old Dutch Carmel Corn and Traditional Chex Mix. Does that count for cooking???)

Thursday evening we headed to Brett and Rachel's for our family gathering (including the usual - Prime Rib/Red Meat). We stayed over. Brett, Rachel, the kids and I went sledding, while Mark worked. We all headed to First Lutheran in Hector and dinner at Aunt Carol's for Christmas Eve. We drove back late. After enjoying our gifts together at home, we had the Thompson Family over at 4 pm on Christmas Day.

Today was spent in our jammies, watching movies, cleaning up, playing with toys, eating waffles made with Mark's gift, and enjoying Thai take out for supper.

More photos to come. For now, we send our Christmas Love to each of you. I hope your holiday has been as blessed as ours.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making a List

The holiday's generate so many lists, one has to actually think and concentrate on enjoying the season at hand, and taking time to honor the real reason for the season (which for me is the gift of Jesus)...

And then - back to those lists, and checking it twice. This season, my list gives a lot of insight about ME.


  • Get Christmas Tree and Decorate - (The tree farm we went to was a great experience for the the whole family)

  • Outdoor Lights - Mark hung them around Thanksgiving.

  • Secure the kids Christmas attire - Purchased on line, unlike past years outfits from Gymboree. (I wanted a dress someone sewed for Marly. My mom sewed for me. I will never have the time to learn the skill to sew like my mom did. Marlys can only watch from heaven, and can't do it for me. I know she would if she could!)

  • Outdoor Holiday Decor - The is wreath up, and pots out front adorned with fresh evergreen cuts (free from the tree farm) & ribbon to match the wreath. (Because I want the neighbors to think I have it all together. And, I THINK IT LOOKS LOVELY when I arrive home from work and truly enjoy it!)
  • Shop for Gifts - I already mentioned I did most of my shopping on line. The last two gifts created for the Grandparents should arrive today or tomorrow. I am missing one gift for Chris yet. (I am happy this year I think my dad is going to love his gift! He doesn't need/want anything, and I typically donate to charity in his name. This year, he will really enjoy his item, which can actually be wrapped. It's still not here though)

  • Wrapping - Most wrapping is complete... but you can't wrap things that haven't arrived. (This year, most gifts have a Dayton's seamless wrap and hand made bows, but the paper is all mix and match, unlike the Andrea of year's past.)

  • Decorating Indoor - Mostly complete. I am sure I will find something to put up, or out right before guests arrive on Christmas afternoon. (My kitchen/living display shelves and buffet are festive and follow a red/white theme with touches of silver and green this year.)

  • Stockings - The stockings finally got hung on the mantle Sunday night. (I needed more Command hooks.) I have the items for inside. (Wait... there is nothing for Mark's...)

  • Christmas Cards - Ordered/shipped! Every year I spend countless evenings trolling various Internet sites for the perfect card for our photos. This year I spent 5 days searching for the right lay out for our church photos, then ditched my photo choice. Eventually I ordered this design from Tiny Prints. I am not sure WHY I spend to much time on the card. (Okay - I do...Somehow I want our lives to look picture perfect on paper, when in reality, it is far from perfect. We are blessed, but surely we are just who we are and nothing more. That is acceptable.)

  • Christmas Cards Mailed/Post Office Drop - I addressed them last Thursday and they were in the mail Friday after work before 5 pm. I have no idea why I don't create an Excel list and print labels. (Okay- Again... I do! Somehow I find pleasure in buying a new red and green pen each season at Archivers, so I can hand address them in my kindergarten style text.)

  • Holidazzle Parade - We hit the streets Saturday night.
  • Volunteer - This morning I helped serve breakfast at our church. We are a host church for homeless families for one week through Family Promise of Anoka County. (I wanted an opportunity to actually SERVE those less fortunate then me. Selfishly, doing this is a reminder of the abundant blessings in my own life.)


  • Pack to go to Brett and Rachel's where we will spend Thursday night before Christmas Eve.

  • Come up with a food item to bring to Rachel's. (May NOT actually accomplish that. She will understand!)

  • Grocery Shop - I am hosting the Thompson Family for Christmas Dinner. Yes.. we are staying over night at Brett and Rachel's on Thursday. We won't be home until around midnight Friday Christmas Eve. Yes - This does sound a little crazy. (Okay... only wine, cheese, Christmas Breakfast items, and fun additions needed. See below.)

  • Cook the Christmas Meal (Nevermind - I took the less stress/less wine required route. This morning I ordered the complete ham dinner from Kowalski's. The kids and I will head to at Minneapolis location to pick it up tomorrow. The first Kowalski's I called was SOLD OUT.)

  • Pick up wine - I am going to need wine as I rush around to create a lovely holiday for family on Christmas Day! (Oh wait, I can just enjoy a glass when I am heating up my delicious pre-made meal, setting a lovely table, and ENJOYING the family guests.)

  • Head to Hector, First Lutheran, and Aunt Carol and Uncle Loren's for Christmas Eve as tradition. (Church at First Lutheran with all my family is one of my favorite things about Christmas. Due to weather, we were unable to attend last year. See note above about staying at Brett and Rachel's)

  • ENJOY my wonderful family.

All this being stated, I am thankful and feel blessed this holiday season.

My blessings to you all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holidazzle 2010!

Saturday we headed downtown for Holidazzle. We missed the holiday parade last year, but were bundled and back in 2010. (CLICK HERE for the 2008 post.)First we had supper at Key's, then we headed into the cold, got hot chocolate on the street from Dunn Brothers, and waited for the festivities to begin.

Mark was fridged before it even started. The kids really didn't complain at all.
Dean would crane around the crowd, look up the street, jump back, and exclaim, "There's ANOTHER ONE coming!!! There's another one!"

Marly's favorite float was the Wizard of Oz (not pictured).

Dean liked the Pirate Ship float AND the Wizard of OZ.

YES! We are having fun, even though we have lost feeling in our cheeks.

After, we attempted to go to Macy's 8th floor to see the holiday display, but so did everyone else. When Mark saw the line he said, "I don't think so!" We had to drag Marly and Dean away bawling, with a promise to return later.

Let's hope the weather cooperates on Monday after work....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday School Program

I remember my childhood church Christmas programs at Trinity Lutheran, far out on a gravel road in the country. It was always on Christmas Eve. I always wore a dress with lots of ruffle that my mom sewed in red or green Christmas cotton. We always sang 'Away in a Manager.' My aunts and uncles and cousins always paused our family gathering to come. Both kids and guests always left with a brown paper lunch bag filled with peanuts, a chocolate treat, one orange & one red apple.

Sunday night the kids had their first Sunday School Program at Peace Lutheran in Coon Rapids. I did not make Marly's dress, but a Mommy on Etsy did! Dean's tie was also made by an Esty Mom, and is made of the same green damask. (Red sweaters from Land's End. All items purchased on line.)

Here they are all decked out in their finery before leaving for church. You have to look very close to notice Dean's little tie!

Mark was also video taping, and couldn't get a shot of them in front singing their 3 songs with cute pre-school actions. Dean lead the troop of 3-4 year olds to the front, and Marly was animated with her gestures when performing. Here I am leading them from the front. I was also helping with my first grade class.

Brett, Rachel, Grandpa David and Kevin came to see the Twinner's in action.

I won't lie. I was one proud mommy! (Above is one very proud Papa too.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


We have been walloped by a massive winter storm here in Minnesota - a good old blizzard. The kind that closes roads and businesses, cancels parties, and truly slows the world down for a day or two.

Naturally, this kind of weather makes for a great day to sip hot chocolate, snuggle under a blanket, and watch Christmas themed movies as a house bound family. Instead, I shoveled. Mark shoveled. Then we shoveled some more.

Unfortunately, last week our snow blower was sent off to the repair shop. Mark asked if there was any chance we would have it back before the anticipated snowfall.... Not A Chance!

So, we began our battle against the elements this morning with our own brute force. Honestly, after we got the ENTIRE drive shovelled the first time, I felt accomplished. We did it!

The feeling wanned. I knew what would happen next - the plow would come by. When the plow comes around the corner it leaves a huge drift in its wake. Today, the carnage was waist deep and about 6 feet wide. Plus, there was no sign the snow was stopping.

And so I shoveled, I slipped, and I shoveled more. I lifted. I threw. I repeated. I have no idea how much time past. I no longer felt any glory in accomplishment. To motivate and inspire me on, I imagined what it must have been like to be Laura on 'Little House on the Prairie'. Instead of battling a snow plow, those pioneers battled to survive. As I picked up the shovel again and again, I tried to be thankful I for shelter, heat, water, and a snow blower at the REPAIR SHOP!

This is after the first clearing. See... I am still smiling!

This is Mark shoveling AFTER I shoveled the second time or third time.
*Disclaimer - Mark has a bad back. He can only shovel so much, or it will give out and he will end up flat on his back*

This is our front sidewalk. Basically, we have run out of places to put the snow.

I am not smiling anymore. In fact, I am getting stiff and sore. I think I may CRY when the snowplow comes around the corner again tomorrow.

In the mean time, I will try and savor the peaceful evening created by weather, enjoy the crackling fire Mark built, cuddle under Marlys's green quilt, and watch the latest Twilight movie I picke up from Red Box.

(Oh... the kids did watch some cheesy holiday movie about a dog that saved Christmas while we shovelled the FIRST time! Mark put the film in as I began shoveling. It was over when I came back inside!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fed Ex ROCKS the Holidays!

The last couple of years I have listened to my friend Molly profess the glories of on line holiday shopping, nary to set foot in a mall. Last year I meant to do it, but mostly missed the bandwagon.

This year I dove in the deep end, and went all the way!

I have yet to venture into a retail parking lot, the mall, not even Target (yet) for a single gift! I have not purused the racks at Gymoborie for the Twinners holiday attire. I have not entered Macy's clutching coupons. Instead, I have sat in bed, watched cable TV, and surfed Creative Kidstuff, Etsy, Amazon, Land's End, Costco and more, with my discount codes.

Monday commenced our front door deliveries, with less spent in shipping then I would have spent on gas. Rachel's gift arrived, along with Marly's hand made, avocado green damask dress; red sweaters for the kids & Marly's fresh,white tights; crafted dolly accessories; and a the BIG box from Costco containing thrills from Santa for Christmas morning...

Marly and Dean were excited about all the packages in the entry. They were giddy with their holiday wear, while the other items were tucked away to discourage further curiosity.

CYBER SHOPPING is the bomb! Several of my selections will even arrived gift wrapped (for free).

These days, whenever I get out the camera, Marly and Dean insist on being captured by the lens. They have no idea what kind of fun is inside the box under their buns!

What's for Supper

It is Monday night, and I know Tuesday is going to be a tremendous day. Oh yes... I am sure of it.

You know why? I already know 'what's for supper?'

White Chicken Chili! I was reminded of the recipe when visiting the 4Tunate blog. I was inspired to make it over the weekend, secured the necessary ingredients, and already had a rotisserie chicken from Costco in the fringe. I got around to completing the task this Monday evening. I indended to have it tonight...but it just didn't happen. Finally at 9:48 pm, the red dutch oven is cooling on the stovetop.

Like basically all working moms, the evening meal is a challenge...but not tomorrow!

Oh happy day tomorrow when I arrive home from work, reheat, and ENJOY!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Tree Farm

Our Thanksgiving Weekend wouldn't be complete until we had our Christmas Tree. Last Sunday we headed to the Pinestead Tree Farm in Isanti to cut our own. First stop when we arrived - A visit with Santa. Both Twinners agreed to sit on the jolly man's lamp. Marly asked for a doll house. Dean requested a fire truck. There were no tears like last year.
Next we were off to the field in search of a balsam fir. It was a bright, balmy day of 40 degrees. A perfect day in Minnesota.
It didn't take long for Mark and Dean to spot the perfect one.

And it was down in no time at all.

Pull - You can do it!

Not bad, hu!

The kid's have their suckers from Santa in their mouth in every photo...

Back at home it was time to take a nap (or not, if you are Dean), then put up the lights.

We wrapping up the afternoon with hot cocoa with fresh whipped cream.

Oh wait...there is no photo of the decorated tree! I'm saving it for a "jazzing it up" post for the holiday. At the moment, our home is a chaos of Christmas decor, scattered across two levels, and not in place yet!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Review

I know, I know.... The feast is loooonggggg over.
Just the same, here is our Thanksgiving pictorial recap.

I "jazzed up" the place for Thanksgiving. Above is the new Ikea shelf noted on my to do list from my time off. It is decorated for the season now departed. Below is our buffet. I made the leaves with Mod Podge and spray paint. The unique gold vase is from the "lemons & leftovers" department at Bachman's.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at Pat and Kelly's.

After a delicious meal, the pies were loaded into the car and we headed to visit Pauline where she was staying for rehab care for her broken (repaired) knee cap.

Friday we took the kids to see Disney's 'Tangled', and Saturday we headed to Dad and Chris's for the Annual Pizza Party.
There is always a LOT more to eat then pizza.

There were plenty of friends and relatives to catch up with.

'Tis the season. We have parties, events, programs, and concert to enjoy now until Christmas. God bless you all this holiday season.


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