Tuesday, January 31, 2012

32 Things for turning 32.

To my two strong, funny, brilliant boys,
Today is my birthday.  I love birthdays.  Mostly because the day is all about me.  You can call me selfish, but I think everyone should have an all-about-them day at least once a year, and to be honest you've really been eating them up lately.
I wanted to make a list of 32 things about me in order to commemorate turning 32. 
But I was afraid you would find that boring.
And you would talk about how boring it was.
And wonder why your mom chose such a boring topic on such an important all-about-me day.
So I'm presenting you with a gift.  It is still a list 32 spaces long.  But it is a list of people I admire/am inspired by/and love.  With each person is just one thing I admire about them...a way they have enriched my life.  It was a hard list to make.  One that took me days, because I have more than 32 people that I find irresistible.  It's a list that you should pay attention to.  These are people you should pay attention to.  These are the people I want you to surround your lives with, and love, and soak in their greatness.
My list.
  1. Your Cece...my mother.  She taught me to love the sometimes unloved.
  2. Your Grandpa...my dad.  He taught me how to be generous with the resources I have.
  3. Your Dad.  He teaches me ever day how to love another entirely.  And then he reteaches me the next day.
  4. Your Nana....my mother-in-law.  She taught me the importance of love language.  You're very lucky, because her's is gift-giving.
  5. Your Papa....my father-in-law.  He taught me to use the gift of time for others.
  6. My friend Dawn D.  Who showed me the power of strength and selflessness.
  7. My college professor.  Who taught me that I could be an artist.
  8. My friend Stephanie.  Who taught me how to teach with my heart....how to do most things with my heart.
  9. The volunteer Kathleen.  Who laughs openly and freely.
  10. Your Auntie Audra.  Who will dance if there is music.
  11. Your great-aunts Brenda and Rita.  Who fought cancer...and won.
  12. Your Uncle Isaac.  Who is level-headed and so smart. Always ask him for financial and professional advice.
  13. My new friend Emily.  Who shows me how to openly give love to others that surround me.
  14. Your Auntie Heidi.  Who has turned a passion into a career.
  15. My oldest friend, Tiffani.  Who is fostering children as we speak.  Some that she knows she can't keep, but gives so much love to just the same.
  16. Miles' foster mother.  Who loved him before I could...unconditionally, and with no reward in the end.
  17. Your Uncle Collin.  Who taught me what it meant to truly respect and show respect to another..
  18. My friend Courtney.  Who shows me what it is to love mothering, and to also love leaving the kids behind for drinks with the girls.
  19. Your great-aunt Marsha.  Who taught me how to laugh at myself.
  20. Miles' birth mother.  Who had the strength to make the hardest decision of her life for the sake of a tiny little baby.
  21. My dear friend Becky R. Who shows me what it is like to be humble and kind.
  22. Your Aunt Carrie.  Who has a genuinely kind heart, and is never malicious.
  23. My old principal.  Who was a "yes" person, and taught me the importance of having a "yes" person in control.
  24. Your four great-grandparents.  Who taught me that serving others is worth doing.
  25. Your Aunt Amy.  Who showed me how to raise boys.
  26. My friend Becky B.  Who taught me how to relax and let kids be kids.
  27. My friend Rachel M. Who taught me how to find humor in just about anything.
  28. Your auntie Penner.  Who shows me what common sensibility looks like.
  29. Your auntie Kimbo.  Who sends out the best and most thoughtful homemade cards.
  30.  My friend Dawn C.  Who taught me the importance of a loyal friend.
  31. Your brother Liam.  Who finds the humor in absolutely every situation.  I hope you find a way to use this to your advantage as you grow and love.  I hope you use it to build others up instead of tearing them down.  This skill can lead you to do great things.  And I hope you use it to the best of your ability.
  32. Your brother Miles.  Who has the strongest will I know.  I hope you know the strength of it, and use it to do great things.  Things that change the world.  I hope you don't accept no from the "no" people you meet, and I hope you become a "yes" person.  Because you can do anything.
I love you boys.  These people...this knowledge....are the most important and precious things I have.  I hope you embrace them to the fullest.

I'll love you forever,
Your mom.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mrs. Pember

When I was growing up I had the safest and strictest bus driver in the whole school.  Mrs. Pember was notorious for making kids sit down and shut up (the nerve) and she played no favorites. If you so much as raised your voice above a whisper, you were allocated to the front seat right behind her.  She listened to country music before country music was cool, and one couldn't even consider asking her to change the station.  One time I remember her scolding my older brother and I because the day before our younger brother had fallen asleep on the bus, and we just left him.  In our defense, he didn't go to kindergarten everyday and I didn't realize it was my job to keep track of his precious 5 year old schedule.
It's funny about your elementary school bus driver - I don't think I would recognize her unless I asked her to peer up at me angrily from the rear-view mirror above her driving throne at the front of the bus.  But I'd be too scared to ask her to do that, so I could easily pass her everyday here in Ireland and never know it. My brothers and I were the first ones on the bus every morning and the last ones off, so we got an extra lot of Mrs. Pember time.  Nearly 2 hours a day of bouncing around country roads while Mrs. Pember cranked up "Have Mercy" by the Judds and glared at us from behind her tinted brown sunglasses.
But the endearing things about Mrs. Pember were so much more powerful than the semi-scary and intimidating ones.  If a child got on the bus crying she hugged them comfortingly.   Every Christmas when I would hand her the box of fancy chocolates my mom bought for her, I received a giant hug and kiss on the cheek.  And when my parents continuously had to chase our bus down with the homework, lunch, or book bag we forgot....she almost always stopped.
But yesterday as I was on my daily morning walk along the coast...on a cliff along the coast...I thought of Mrs Pember.
Let me step back a second.
We had horses on our farm and every winter we would fence them in to a 50-acre area in the fields around our house.   There they could roam through the woods and fields by day.
Mrs. Pember loved those horses.  She loved beautiful things.  She loved nature.  Every time we saw the horses out in the snow-covered field, Mrs. Pember would throw caution and general driving safety to the wind in order the stop the bus and stare at them.  She would shout at all of us to get up and look at how amazingly beautiful this particular scene was....the early morning light with the fresh snow, and the grazing horses on the hillside.  We all obliged, but couldn't figure out what the big deal was.  Every time we came across deer, which was often in our mostly country drive to school, the bus would stop and all 20-40 of us would be ordered up to look across the fields at the deer, or wolf, or other beautiful creature that was probably scared out of its mind and praying that we wouldn't shoot it. By the time I was in 4th grade we all started shouting out to Mrs. Pember when we would see something beautiful out our window.  And she always stopped.  She made us be quiet, and look.  She made us see the beauty in these everyday surroundings that we had grown so used to.
I wish Mrs. Pember could come and see Northern Ireland.  Maybe she has.  But I know that she would find the beauty in things that I've grown used to.  She would make me stop and breath it in when I was too consumed with parenting, or too arrogant to see it.  She would force me to be reminded of the amazing place I am in.  And she would make me appreciate it even more than I already do.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Long lost documentation

I finally found Dustin's ipod and all of the pictures on it (remember the dreaded trash-stache from the last post), so I thought I would actually upload a few to show what has been documented via terrible-quality-ipod-camera since we've been here. 

Liam sneaking a sip of Dustin's coffee.  For real.

Too cool for school.

My first Guinness...upon arrival.

Making Xmas Cookies

"Maybe a snowman?" - Miles

Front yard rainbow.

The sea.

Looking at trains.

Dustin getting a hot-towel shave for Christmas.

Drawing and waiting for some delicious hamburgers.

Edinburgh Castle

"I hiding!" -Liam

Friday, January 27, 2012

Me vs. Movember.

Have I told you about the most dreadful month? 
That is not a convicted felon below...
it's my husband.

 I had to live through Movember this year.  Despite my protests and snide remarks, the dear husband decided to go through with this ridiculous, and at times terrifying ritual.  He had support...too much support from the volunteers.  Something about raising awareness for prostate cancer.  I told him I was well aware of prostate cancer.
It didn't matter.  I thought I would just have it as a distant memory, and then earlier this week I came across his ipod.  Apparently he had been documenting his "progress" the whole month.  Lucky me. I thought about deleting them, but being the supportive and loving wife I am, I decided to publish them on my blog so that he will look back at them next "movember" and realize how foolish it all was.
I mean seriously.
I kissed that.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Making a recycled magazine bowl

After reading this book I decided that I needed to figure out something to do that would make me excited.  People keep bringing up ideas of things for me to do with the volunteers that are out of my comfort zone, or sound like things that make me want to crawl into a hole, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Because I want to be awesome at my job.  And I want to be awesome for them.  And I knew I needed something that I could get excited about in order to do both.  
So I started "Art Hour"
Every Thursday for an hour I invite the volunteers to join me in the dining room with nice music and lighting while we create something artistic that has been on my list of "things to try" for a long time now while eating snacks and drinking red wine.  Not everyone joins in the "creating", but it is surprising how many people just come to enjoy the good snacks, conversation and atmosphere.  I get to do all of these things in a designated space with people I love spending time with.  

This week we made recycled paper bowls.  It was time consuming - the finished product took me about 3 hours (with a lot of breaks in there).  The most time consuming part was picking out the sheets of magazine to put in our bowls to create good mojo.  For instance...
NOT good mojo.  Scary - and not in my bowl.

Good mojo.  Horatia from CSI Miama is the bomb diggity.  Def in my bowl.

Try to use all sheets from the same size magazine so that your folds are consistent. 

First, fold the sheet in half.

Then unfold it and fold each edge into the center.

This ensures that the folds are consistent on every sheet.

Keep folding into the center.

And again.

I folded in until I couldn't fold anymore, although I encouraged the volunteers to stop one step before me because it looked just as good, and was easier to manage. 

Then glue and fold your folds together.

Next, your going to add glue to the entire length (it gets messy) and the roll it around like a cinnamon roll.  Keep going out until you have the width of the bottom you want.  Once you have that, then gradually start going up the side of the bowl, and little bit higher every time. 
Like this.

Then keep going until your finished.  Once done I slathered mine in glue overnight.  I also used clothespins to hold a lot of things in place, and I recommend them.  The next day you could actually varnish it, which would be nice and give it a finished look. 
Tonight we're making block-printed scarves and fabric.  Should be fun. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year

Every Monday evening there are no groups on site, so someone from the group cooks dinner for the entire group in the volunteer house.  We love this time, and the fellowship that comes along with it.  And Dustin and I have both participated.
But last night we got adventurous everyone.
Because we decided we were going to cook a traditional Korean dinner for the entire group (that's 30 people) in order to celebrate the lunar new year, which lasts for three days in Korea.  Let me clarify....we were going to cook an entire dinner for 30 people from recipes that only one of us had ever before glanced at, in a kitchen that was too small with not enough burner or counter space, using tools and pans we were not familiar with.
It was a test of our marriage y'all.
And in the heat of the moment, with five burners going, and 30 hungry people waiting for food that was supposed to be done 15 minutes ago, I know at least one of us passed.
And it probably wasn't me.
But in the end everyone said the wait was worth it and the fellowship was divine.  And it was pretty awesome teaching people from so many different countries about some traditions that are unique and special to our family. 
Overall it was beautiful.  
(even if the Japchae wasn't)
Here, let me show you...
Korean Egg Rolls - after I finally found a truly nonstick pan.

Bee Bim Bop to share.

'Korean salad; that I'm certain isn't actually Korean (because I got it out of the Mennonite cookbook.)

Countries being represented at this table alone: Canada, US, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Ireland, and The Netherlands.

I slaved away Saturday making these cute little dragon decorations since it's the year of the dragon and all.  And then today Miles came home from his Irish school with a much cooler version...
Show off.

새해 복 많이 보내세요 from the Wyse-Fishers
(this literally translates to: To send many new year blessings)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ten Things I Know to Be True on Tuesday

  1. The rule "rain before 7, gone by 11" does not apply to Northern Ireland.
  2. Reese's Peanut Butter cups taste even better when they're shipped over an ocean and enjoyed in a new place with friends that have never heard of them before.  And the ones that are shaped like bells really look like nipples, as one volunteer so proudly pointed out to me.
  3. This is officially the longest amount of time I have ever been out of the United States.
  4. When it is your husband's turn to get up in the morning with your early-rising kids, they will sleep in until well past 7 am.
  5. When Liam wants you to laugh at something he's laughing at he'll shout "That's silly!" in your face.  Then you have to laugh.
  6. When I'm on the computer my kids will always do something naughty, like dump glue all over the carpet or flush things down the toilet.  
  7. Although it should, this does not make me use my computer less.  It just makes me totally exasperated, placing all of the blame on their ill-mannered actions that could obviously be controlled with more television.
  8. There is no Target in Northern Ireland.  I know, I'm shocked too...and just getting over my mourning phase. 
  9. The midwest is truly beautiful.  I just didn't realize it before because I was too busy wondering what I was doing there.  There is something really cool about being able to see a mile away, and about lit-up farm houses dotting the distance at night.  I miss it.
  10. I have eaten more white potatoes this week than I did all of last year.  If you are on the South Beach, Zone, or Atkins Diets....don't even bother coming over here, because you wouldn't have anything to eat.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Last week was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S.  Not surprisingly, we here in Northern Ireland don't get the day off school or work to celebrate his life and legacy.  But, what we do at a place such as this, in the heart of a country that has spent the last 10+ years trying to heal from the violence that took over the lives of its citizens for over 30 years prior, is talk about Dr. King.  At a peace center nestled in the heart of a country that has dealt, and still deals with its own prejudices and forms of racism...that has had its share of civil rights marches that have ended in violence and even death, we analyze Dr. King's tactics.  We talk about his life.  We talk about his peaceful approach.  We talk about how out-of-reach it seems to so many people in so many countries.  We try to decide objectively if it truly was effective. 

Perhaps some of you don't know about The Troubles and why we're here.  Maybe you don't know what a peace center like Corrymeela had to survive and work through in a country that was in so much pain.  I'm still trying to figure it out.  I'm still trying to understand what the volunteers mean when they talk of a childhood where they were forced out of neighborhoods depending on who their parents talked to, or associated with.  I'm still trying to comprehend why this ever happened.  I'm slowly learning why this still happens.

One staff member last week asked the question...."I wonder how The Troubles would have been different if we had a Martin Luther King Jr. to preach a message of peaceful resistance."
It took me coming all of the way over here to pause and think about that.  How the civil rights movement could have gone much differently.  Yes, it was violent and sometimes bloody.  And I know Martin Luther King Jr. was human and not perfect.  But there was someone telling people to resist peacefully.  Not to do nothing.  Not to take it.  But to peacefully resist.
That Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knows his stuff.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Liam's Two-Year Photos

I almost didn't do it....take these pictures that is.  I think a mixture of feeling slightly burnt-out on portraiture, combined with the pressure of taking these milestone pictures in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, was just too much for my little photographer self to handle.  I'm glad I did though.  We traipsed down to the beach on Sunday morning before worship and  did a quick shoot to document this coming-of-age for my little blondie.  
And when I say "quick", I really mean quick.  I wish I could say these are my three favorites....but the truth is that they are my only three.  So enjoy. :)

Happy 2 years on earth little boy. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So after my super-cynical and post-traumatic vacation post here  I rethought how I would go about this whole new year/new me sort of stuff that everyone else buys into.  I'm not one for New Years Resolutions, and have never really made any.  However, the more I thought about it, the more a desire grew to articulate all of the things I wanted to accomplish this year...this month...tomorrow.  
Because when else in my life am I going to have the time?  I mean, here I am...volunteering in a low-stress, 30ish hours a week job that doesn't bind me to a classroom or office.  I don't exactly have a bustling social life chalk-full of engagements to attend to.  How can I not do amazing things for myself and therefore my family this month?  
So I gathered up a bunch of volunteers and drug them all out to the arts and crafts building and hosted an "art hour" where some of us made a pretty little list of "plans" to go to sleep and wake up looking at.  We ate through two bags of Doritos while I introduced their ears to Guster and The Avett Brothers. We created goals, wrote college-entry essays, and made birthday cards for mothers.

I was inspired to do this after my Mother-in-law gave me the book Nice Girls Don't Change the World  by Lynne Hybels.  In this book she talks about giving up her passions in her early adulthood in order to do things the way she thought they were supposed to be done.  To be the wife, mother, and pastor's wife she thought she was supposed to be.  Apparently nobody won.  She wasn't happy even though she thought she was.  She was bitter and unsettled.  She was uneasy and uncomfortable.  
I don't want that to be me.  I don't want to even get close.
In order to be the best person and support for everyone around me, I need to be the best me.  This is my first step in doing that.  I'm young.  I'm able-bodied.  And I'm ready to be great.  
So I made plans.

So there it is - out there - for all of you to read, analyze, and hold me accountable.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

10 Things I Know to Be True on Tuesday

1.  I know I bought stylish new rain boots of the industrial caliber just 7 days ago, and for the first time since we've been here, nary a drop has fallen from the sky.  In fact, I believe yesterday was the first time I've seen dry pavement since we've been here.
2.  I know there are a million shades of green, and all of them are my favorite.
3.  I know that when you live far away from the ones you love, their lives suddenly seem fragile.
4.  I know that I miss Mexican food.  Real, cheesy, leave-the-place-with-your-coat-smelling-like-a-burrito-Mexican food.
5.  I know that when I think about living my life from this point on without my children or husband, my lungs jump up into my throat, I can't breath, and I can't focus my eyes on anything.
6.  I know that Marky Mark Wahlberg is about the hottest thing alive this week (besides my permanent roommate/baby daddy).
7.  I know that it only takes 3.6 seconds for a toddler to shift from an angel to a very angry barbarianistic Tasmanian devil.   It takes a little more time for them to make the switch back.
8. I know that last night when Liam was sobbing and I wrapped him in a blanket to comfort him, I realized I had no rocking chair.  Then the realization that he may outgrow being rocked before I ever get the chance to rock him again was too much for me to handle.  My chest tightened and soon I was the one sobbing.
          a.  I know that as I recall that moment and write it here, I, pathetically, am once again crying.
9.  I know that I would never make a good super hero.
10.  I know there is a place here where I can sit from 1:30-2:00.  In this place my back is flooded with sunlight and the ocean opens up at my feet.  I know that I will see Scotland on my right and Ballycastle on my left.  I know that when I sit there everything is exactly right in the world.

Last night one of the volunteers shared this TedTalks video during worship and I've been thinking about it ever since.  This is where I got the idea of listing 10 things I know to be true.  I think I will make it my weekly Tuesday post... "Ten Truths for Tuesday" If you have 18 minutes....prepare to be inspired by this spoken-word poet and her magic words.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stand in the place where you work...

There are R.E.M. lyrics for just about everything, aren't there?

Today I wanted to show an updated photo of our office.  I know that's lame.  And you wonder if I'm actually doing work here, or just sweetening up the spaces that I have to sit in for designated moments of the day.
I'm doing both I tell ya.
This is the closest thing I've ever had to an office job even though my job actually requires that I spend maybe fifteen hours a week in an actual office.  And this room is the office in which I sit and pretend to work in.  Just kidding.  I work.  I swear it.
My mom is laughing at this because we just had a conversation about my transformation into an "office" person.  She, like me is a teacher.  At my last job my life was divided into 52 minute increments with 4 minutes inbetween, which were to be used for going to the restroom, grabbing a soda/coffee, checking my staff mailbox, and making photocopies.  If you are really fast and wear good shoes and elastic pants, there are many things you can do in four measly minutes.
Now, I have OFFICE HOURS.  I never knew what I was missing.  I have a question?  I can leave my office and go find the answer from someone anytime during the day.  I want a cup of tea?  Sure.  I have time to get myself, and the person in the office next to me one.   The only problem I do have, is that I'm still getting used to organizing my time efficiently.  Maybe I'll set up a timer with a bell in my office and separate each time period into "subjects" that I'll tackle.
9:00-9:52 - Solve world peace
9:52-9:56 - bathroom break/tea break
9:56-10:46 - Talk to God
10:46-10:50 - Grab a snack
10:50-11:42 - Decide which super hero power would best suit me.
and so on.... you get the idea.

I'm not so delusional to think that everyone's office job is so plush and awesome, but I'd like to think that maybe there is an aspect to the workforce I've been missing out on all this time.

Well, back to the subject of our office.  Dustin and I share this space, and we wanted it to be inviting because we have been doing a lot of pastoral care in this space, but it is also where the volunteers find us to talk, ask questions, or grab some advice about a group coming in.
Above is our office when we first got here.  It was actually just used as a hot seat for people wanting to use a free computer, and for the copy machine.  We had to make it more inviting using no money, because we're part of a non-profit and that's how we roll.  So basically we just went around to other parts of the center and stole borrowed items we could use to spruce the place up.

This is our office now.  We had shelves from some unused closet put in so we could bring all of the hard-copy resources out of a hidden-away closet, and have them more accessible to the volunteers.  A big part of my time here so far has been organizing these resources so that they are more useable.  I made a few posters to put up with favorite quotes, and we hung up a bunch of pictures of loved ones far away, and of the volunteers.  The rug area in the back has a bin full of toys and old laptops for the boys to play with and "check their email" when they come to the office with us. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ways to Be a Better Wife....And Still Be Me.

I often wish I was a better wife.  Not because I think it's my life goal to serve my husband, and not because I think it's important, and not even because I really want to be.
It's about guilt people.
You see, I think my husband deserves a better wife.  Not because he's manly, or the head of the household (guffaw), and definitely not because he's a "man."
But because I think he deserves it.
The man has spent years working his way to becoming the perfect husband.  Don't worry, he's not completely there yet.  I still find things about him that I find fault in....and I do my best to remind him of these things, often without thinking or even giving him time to notice them himself.  I never hesitate to say "I told you so" when I'm right....which, let's face it, is a lot.  And I still roll my eyes at him when he corrects my speech or spelling, which is more often than necessary, if you ask me.
So he's not perfect.
But I do know one thing....that he deserves someone better than me.  Because even though I'm right 99% of the time, have an uncanny sense of direction, and know a lot about a lot...there are other things (what?!?!) that maybe matter just a teensy tiny bit more. 
Like affection.
And taking turns.
And sharing the duvet.
And making him coffee.
And date night.
And taking my turn at giving the boys a bath.
And at least pretending to laugh at his jokes.
And (cough) sharing my milkshake.
And holding his hand.
I hope I never forget how to do these things.
And I need ideas.  How do you make sure the "Hunka Hunka" in your life know that you appreciate him and think he's awesome?
Because mine's awesome.  And I could tell him all day.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that actions speak louder than words. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

10 Things I WILL Remember the Next Time I Vacay

  1. I will not call it a "vacay."
  2. Booking a flight early in the morning doesn't mean you'll get to "do more cool things all day" when you get there.  Instead, it means "you will have really grumpy kids all day" when you get there.
  3. Booking hotels in the city center is essential, because naptime is essential and bathroom emergencies are unavoidable.
  4. Snacks...lots and lots of snacks.
  5. Don't assume that a 35 minute flight will be easy-breezy.  Because the one time you let your guard down and come unprepared....they can smell it.  "They" meaning your children that have the ability to change from angels to demons in two breaths.  "They" meaning the two boys who didn't make a peep on the jet-lagging 8 hour flight over to the UK, but are completely disillusioned at having to sit in a seat with a seat-belt for the five minutes it takes to land a plane at the end of a flight that lasted no more than THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES.
  6. Milkshakes make everyone happy, and are magic bad-mood eliminators.
  7. Nobody needs to be hungry at any moment throughout the trip.  That's just crazy talk.
  8. My husband likes museums and castles more than I do.
  9. When they nap, you nap.  When they nap, you nap.  When they nap, you nap.
  10. If you want to truly relax....don't take your kids.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Is it January 7th already?!

So I bet you're wondering if we actually celebrated Christmas this year, or whether we just packed it in and headed to the equally cold and rainy country directly across from us.  Or maybe you're not so much wondering, as just reading this and realizing that I haven't yet littered this blog with pictures of my kids opening tons of gifts.  Or maybe you don't care.  I'll pretend like that's not true.
Never fear...Christmas pictures are here...
Here we're reading the story of Jesus' birth using the new picture Bible that Nana and Papa gave the boys.

Okay, I realize that is a lot of blog-world space used for one five minute reading, but if you had my kids, and they were sitting so nice, then you too would want it documented.

Liam with his tool bench set.

One really popular gift was the PlayDoh sets that they got from my parents.  Here they are making their favorite food...pizza!

Liam takes his culinary experiences seriously.

We were really lucky to have Dustin's parents here with us to celebrate and to make the holidays even more cheerful.  It gave us a good excuse to act as tourists around here, and the boys were in grandparent heaven.

Liam practicing his handyman skills.  (Yes, he did just get out of his jammies and it is definitely almost dark out.  Back off dudes....it was Christmas.)

Miles got a cool new racetrack that has been very popular.
We decided to get the boys each one gift because we knew they'd be spoiled by their grandparents and aunts and uncles....and they were.  We also decided that because these gifts would likely stay here when we leave, we wanted to buy them used.  So for all of those who know me, and know of my former love affair with Craigslist.com......don't worry - the UK equivalent has been found, used, and conquered.

Eating our "shepherds' supper" - a Fisher family tradition.

Many years ago, before I had kids I made two of my nephews superhero capes with their initials on them for Christmas.  This year my sister-in-law returned the favor with these super cool capes that the boys LOVE.  I am thankful for this on many levels...one being that I am much lazier now that I have my own children, and without her doing this, my own kids would never have gotten such cool capes.  

So there you have it.  We had an awesome Christmas celebration here, and are infinitely grateful to Dustin's parents who traveled all this way to help us celebrate the birth of Jesus.