Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

I love New Year's Eve.
Amateur's Night? and Entertainer's Dream Evening! or Something in Between.

I have many found memories of New Year's Eve long gone.
There was my childhood. I remember one year at my cousin Brad's house with a bevy of cousins. I have no idea who was babysitting us. My mom and dad traditionally went out with friends to the Legion or Sheep Shed, or something or another. My mom got all dolled up....always with lip stick.

Fast forward to college, and stumbling back to our apartments from the Rox... kissing my friends, male and female alike.

Then there were the years then Amy Detviler (and the man now long gone) house sat for the 3M executive in their lavish home outside of Stillwater. There was formal attire, Rediel stemware and plenty of wine, a sit down dinner, games and a Karaoke contest... and kissing my friends, male and female. One of those years I threw up the next morning in the Jack and Jill bathroom we shared with Joan and Wade. Wade threw up too.

One of those years, I wore a long, red Ann Taylor silk dress. That was the year each guest went around the dinner tables and everyone gave a resolution. Mark's resolution to ALL in attendance was that he would, "propose to Andrea in the year ahead." This caused quite stir since we were so often on again, and off again. True to word, we got engaged that March.

After that came the infamous party at our now sold house in Hector. That party will go down in history as one of the best New Year's Eve parties EVER of all who attended. Me and some key party planner attendees arrived in the country that afternoon. We set up heaters in the garage. We cleared the family room of furniture. We set up tables to accommodate seating for everyone at dinner. We set up aerobeds and mattresses in the furnace room and office to provide comfortable accommodations for ALL, since no one was leaving. We made lasagna, salad, and got the bread ready. We set all the tables with blue table clothes and decorated the rooms in silver, with candles everywhere. The now toasty garage was set up as a full bar. I put red bows on the County Road sign off 212 to alert all the city guests where to turn, in the middle of the very dark country.

...and the party began. Mark, Gretchen, Dan, Sam, Jenny, Brett, Rachel, Mara, Dawn, Angie, Heidi, Jess, Molly and Peter were set up for the night. I invited my cousins in the country, but the flu kept them away, they had small children, or other plans. They missed one hell of a party. Once on site, everyone dressed up for the festivities ahead. We started with the kitchen island filled with appetizers, and moved on to a sit down candle light dinner. We ate. We drank. We danced. We sang. At the stroke of midnight, we had a champagne toast. The flutes were filled with back-step chilled bubbly on a white clothed banquet table in the garage. I kissed my friends, male and female alike. The rest of the night shall remain a blur. Morning dawned with egg bake for all those who could stomach it... and a bit of a mess.

All these years later, I think my Dad is STILL mad about the state he found the house in when he arrived several days later. (My dad spent most of his time at his apartment in the cities.) In my defense, everything was back in place, but I thought the cleaning lady would arrive BEFORE my dad. So...why scrub and vacuum the floor???

One year we hosted friends in our tiny town home. That year we cleaned out the garage, strung Christmas lights, got a giant piece of carpet remnant and heaters from Menards to create a party headquarters. We returned the heaters and carpet a week later. (I swear the carpet remnant didn't get dirty!)

Fast forward to the year my belly was LARGE with the expectance of Marly and Dean. Mark and I dined at POPS! in NE Mpls. I wore a beautiful steel grey blouse with a square neck line and grand sleeved. We came home, watched a movie, and toasted midnight snuggled in bed with sparkling grape juice in Waterford Crystal flutes.

After that there was the year at Jenny and Jeremy's condo in Minneapolis. We brought two ten month old babies with jammies, a breast pump, and pack-n-plays. We were home by 12:30.

The next year was spent at the H-we House, were kids crawled or ran, and I had a dance party with the toddlers. Gretch created a delicious meal (tortellini soup with sausage) which we ate after the kids went to bed.

And then, and then...

...there have been three generally quiet years here in Brooklyn Park. The first year on Riverview Heidi and little Cale came. It was tame...and I dare say a wee bit boring. I decorated and got out the china and crystal, but the evening just didn't shine like it does with a house full. Cale didn't like my stroganagne either. Last year the four of us went to Mavericks. Both years we had a basement dance party and an 8 pm countdown.

And here we are tonight, at the close of 2012.

I am sitting at my kitchen table right now. We have yet to download any photos. This year the four of us decided to try fondue. The kids liked the beanie weanies best. No... that is NOT fondue. We have had sundaes for dessert. We have already cashed out two cans of silly string, and the kids and Mark just finished a movie... and it's 8:00 pm. Dean helped me decorate this afternoon with silver garland and Marly helped make the sundaes in wine glasses with whip cream. Soon we will toast with Kristian Regale, and put the kids to bed. After that, we may sneak across the street to the neighbor's for midnight fireworks on the river (weather permitting).

And so, there is my history of New Years.

Although the last few have been quiet and uneventful, I still do NOT consider it Amateur's Night.
I know there will be shining 'Eves sometime in the years ahead, with a bit more pomp and circumstance then the last few.

Alternatively, I consider it the night for each of us to do what is "shining" for you! Be it a night in your jammies playing games with family, or an evening with a house full of friends, or hitting the town - Happy New Year's to All!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure

I am 'blessed beyond measure'
(This is also a CD by Miss Minnesota 2010!)

I am grateful for all that I have. This season the richness of my life flows all around me. Saturday was a day spilling over with blessings.

Mark needed to work. He was behind on everything, and stress was crowding him. Just the same, we are blessed with jobs that provide for us and our kids. We have a warm home. We eat plenty, and we have so much more.

While Mark worked, I took the kids home to the farm for Sutton and Saxton's birthday party. I picked up my dad, as I commonly do for events like this. We had an easy, pleasant drive to the farm, filled with good conversation (interrupted often my eager Twinners wondering how much farther we had to go). The miles passed as quality time with my parent - my Dad, my mentor, the man I look up to above all others.

At the party the kids played. I am blessed. My children love spending time with their second cousins. They love playing with the three "S"s. We only need to get our shoes off at the door and they are off.....

At the party I got to spent time with my aunt's and cousin's. I even got the pleasure of being showered with affection by Shylah's family too.

When it was time to go home, we drove through Hutch. Instead of taking the quickest route, both Dad and I wanted to drive down Main Street. We were curious to see if the holiday decor and lights still arch over the street block after block. They do NOT, but the deer park on the river I remember from my childhood still exists. My kids found delight in the animals the same way I did at their age, when my mom and dad took us (in our white Caprice Classic with the baby blue top).

We carried forth eastward on Highway 7. By now it was dark. It was VERY important to Dean that both mommy and Papa keep their eyes "PEELED" for lights. Dean piped up from the back the ENTIRE way home every time he saw ANY lights. There was nary a moment of silence. He also asked about every three miles, "What road are we on?" Dad and I took turns exclaiming, "It is STILL Highway Seven!"

My dad offered to fill my tank with gas. He always does. I am blessed in so many ways. This time I had filled up in advance, because this one time, I wanted to be able to decline his always generous and appreciated offer.

At St. Boni, we could have continued on our path, but why cut short this most pleasant adventure? We decided to go through Mound, and around Lake Minnetonka to enjoy more holiday lights. Grandpa directed us by beautiful, enchanting, breathe-taking homes near Wayzata. Indeed, I saw the two most magnificent, huge pine trees adorned with the most elaborate lights I have ever encountered. They were amazing.

The kids loved all the lights. The houses were grand. Just the same, Dean eventually commented, "Can we go home? ...Home to our house in Brooklyn Park?" God bless my child. To him, the size or grandeur of a home are not of note, but only the love inside the four walls.

Of course by this time, at least one small child needed to go potty. The golden arches came into view. If you are going to stop to go potty, you might as well have a Happy Meal with Grandpa too, right?

And, so...after french fries we finally dropped Dad off at his door. We completed the blessed trip home with plenty to tell Daddy about our day.

Once at home, I sat at the kitchen table in solitude, with the glow of the Christmas tree lights on me.

I hand addressed our Christmas cards in red pen, like I do every year... with my heart filled with 'blessings beyond measure'.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Christmas Card

Sunday we assembled the Christmas cards, with much delight. I had two new super duper helpers this year. In the afternoon I stuffed the addressed envelopes while Mark placed the stamps. Soon Mark was able to turn over his post to a VERY eager Dean, and Marly (sort of eager... although traditionally less so then her helper happy bro).

Dean then helped me lick and seal. When the labels were ready, both kids helped me place the return address. My heart swelled with love and joy watching the Twinners participate in my yearly ritual. We dropped the lot in the mail at the post office in the evening on our way home from the Lights in the Park in east St. Paul.

Take a look at this years creation. Heading to mailboxes Monday...

Stationery card

View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Tis the Season

Chanhassen Lion's Breakfast with Santa coordinated by Rachel, one week ago.
Not pictured - The Twinners with BABY CHARLIE and Santa at breakfast! (and Nana and Papa too). Dean in Land's End holiday attire sitting in the pew at the Step by Step Montessori School Holiday Program on Friday night.

Marly in Land's End holiday attire at the Peace Lutheran Church Children's Christmas Program on Sunday evening.

"It's a Marshmellow World in the Winter Time" being performed by Children's House One at the Step by Step Program.

Not pictured - The grandparents who attended with us.

Sing and Smile!

Our feeble attempt at holiday cookies this past Saturday.

Peanut butter blossoms from scratch and sugar cookies from the store.

And SMILE! (even if the cookies were hard as a rock!)

Enjoy the tree.

'Tis the season!

(at our house and yours too!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The List

  • Decorate the tree - Done upstairs and down.

  • Decorate our home - Mostly done, but the boxes need to be put away. I am SURE I am still missing one box of decor items and I think there are items inside I would enjoy using.

  • Lights - Mark and the kids put the outside lights up weeks ago. Rachel gave me some white outdoor lights I planned to put on three small lilac shrubs in the back yard, but I don't think we will get to that. The lights were live on Thanksgiving evening, like many neighbors in the 'hood.

  • Wreath - Gifted to me at the Mickman Brother's open house last Friday, jazzed up, and in place on the front of the house. Additional fake wreath jazzed up by the patio door outside.

  • Additional outdoor front door decor - The galvanized tubs and pot holder were decorated last Saturdaywith evergreen free from tree farm, red and green bulbs, red accent twigs and bows to match the wreath.

  • Decorate Ikea kitchen/living shelves and floating wall shelf - All set for the holiday's

  • Christmas Card holder - In place with three cards received so far

  • Christmas cards - Ordered from Shutterfly on Sunday night with family photos taken in October!

  • Visit with Santa - We saw him at the tree farm AND at a Breakfast with Santa in Chanhassen last Sunday with the Charlie, Nana and Papa, Brett and Rachel.

  • Christmas Outfits for the kids - They will actually wear last year's attire to there Step by Step Christmas program. I am unsure about the Sunday School Program on Sunday and Christmas Eve.

  • Gift Shopping - Seven items purchased or in the works on Etsy. More online shopping to ensue. Gift cards needed for teachers.

  • Parties - We had our neighborhood progressive happy hour last Friday, Dad and Chris's open house on Saturday, and the Pizza Party last week.

  • Christmas Programs - Coming up on Friday and Sunday for school and church. Grandparents, etc invited, with supper to be served on Sunday.

  • Holidazzle Parade on Nicollet Mall - Not yet.. but hopefully.

  • Macy's 8th floor holiday display - Why bother, they haven't changed it for three years! So not worth the lines or build up.

  • Christmas Carol at the Guthrie - My dream for the year's ahead, to go with Gretchen or a romantic evening with Mark some day... some day....And a few year's down the road to create magical memories with the kids.

  • Time with dear family and friends - Happening regularly and scheduled in the weeks ahead. The most important part of the season!

  • New Year's Eve - Unknown, usually until the last minute. Dean has already requested to go back to the zoo during the day, like we did last year.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pinestead Tree Farm 2011

We enjoyed the Pinestead Tree Farm so much last year, we headed back this year. It capped off our Thanksgiving Holiday weekend festivities after church last Sunday.
The kids checked out the goats and llamas, we took a wagon ride around the farm, then snagged our photo op with the jolly man in red.

We hopped in the Pacifica and cruised to our area of interest.

After some negotiating, pouty lips, and some crocodile tears, we decided on this one. I wanted a white pine with long needles this year, but I wasn't the one crying (or pouting) when I was over ruled!

Complete silliness ensued.

Silly is fun!

Silly is the making of happy memories.

Now heave ho!

Let's take this beautiful Frazer Fur home (after we pay $43, have it shook in the machine, wrapped, and attached to the roof of the Pacifica by those kind and polite high school boys who work at the farm during the Christmas season!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pizza Party 2011

My Dad and Chris hosted the Annual Pizza Party this Saturday after Thanksgiving.
If my calculations are correct, this is the 23 annual event.
Of course the party has evolved in a bitter-sweet way.
You see, my mom started the party at our new home the day after Thanksgiving in 1988. She wanted to see the Melberg Cousins who were home from NDSU and Moorehead State, and we always had Thanksgiving Day with the Toren side.
As the years went on, it was expanded to any and all relatives and friends too.
When my mom died, my dad wanted to continue the annual event. I think he said, "I don't have to cook anything, so I think this is the one holiday event I can contribute."
When my dad married Chris and moved to S.L.P, the pizza party moved too.
Here we are more then twenty years later with a hodge podge of guests.
To those who attend, their presence is treasured.
Baby Charlie was the big hit at the party this year.

The chocolate fountain has become another must have at the party, before the pizza ever arrives. I personally enjoy the champagne with "fluff" (not pictured).

Didn't I say it was a pizza party?

The delivery arrived around 6 pm!

There is no shortage to eat or drink for those who traveled from near and far to attend.

Smile, chat, catch up, and kick off the holiday season.

And when the party is over, and your second cousins are drifting off on their car ride back to the country, eat MORE chocolate covered strawberries!


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