Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!


We had a mini family reunion last night at our house. I say "mini" because a) our extended family is quite small and b) three of the cousins were not present. Anyway, I had not seen my cousins since our grandmother died in 2001 so it was great to see everyone and my kids had a blast meeting the McCarthy Family. We'll have to plan another reunion again soon!

I created a slide show of the Best Langan Pics of 2007. I cannot seem to get the slide show to import to the blog so if you'd like to see it, you can click HERE.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best & Worst of 2007

I really don’t like New Year’s. For one thing, I am scared to death of getting hit by a drunk driver. Therefore, I try to not drive anywhere on New Year’s Eve. Secondly, I really dislike all the resolution-making. I hate resolutions. If I want and/or need to do something in my life, I am just going to do it without waiting for January 1 to roll around. So my only resolution is to not make any resolutions.

Anyway, since I have only been blogging for a couple months, some of you have missed out on some important Langan Moments over the past year. Thus, this posting will be a “Best & Worst of 2007”. I’m going to post the items in chronological order, not in the order of the Best or Worst. There are a couple items that fit under both Best and Worst but I’ll let you figure out which is which.

Best & Worst of 2007

FEBRUARY
Rachael Ray Show
I got to go to NYC to be a part of the studio audience for a taping of The Rachael Ray Show. Very cool and exciting. My friend, Michele got us tickets through her brother, who is a TV anchor in Lancaster (thanks, Ben!) Unfortunately we did not get to see anyone famous because they were taping 3 different segments on the day we were there, none of which involved a celebrity, darn! However, I was on TV a couple times so that was my 6 seconds of fame.

MARCH
The Piano

I purchased a piano from eBay for less than $150. It is beautiful and I love it. My oldest daughter is taking lessons and my younger daughter will start lessons sometime during 2008.

JULY
Ireland

We went to Ireland for 2 weeks to visit my husband’s family. Traveling with 4 children, 2 car seats, 2 booster seats and 8 suitcases is no easy feat.

We had a great time and stayed with Grannie & Grandad in Galway. We got to see our cousins from England as well as our cousins from Dublin and many of our extended family members who live in Ireland.

This trip was not so great for me, however. I was sick and on antibiotics right before we left for Ireland and as soon as I finished taking the antibiotics in Ireland I ended up with strep throat. And then my oldest daughter came down with strep the day before we flew back home. Fortunately we were able to get to see a doctor (they weren’t too interested in taking us as patients, thanks to socialized medicine but agreed to see us as a favor to my mother-in-law) and got some more antibiotics before flying home.

Scotland

My husband and I got to spend 2 nights in Edinbugh, Scotland WITHOUT KIDS! This was supposed to be the highlight of my summer: 2 nights in a nice hotel and sight-seeing without a stroller. Except that I started getting a fever (precursor to the strep) and ended up spending most of the trip in bed while my husband went sight-seeing on his own. Still, it was luxury to be sick and be able to LAY DOWN without having to still cook, change diapers, pack lunches, help with homework, take care of kids, etc.

AUGUST
Kelly comes to visit!
Right after we got back from Ireland/Scotland, my best friend from college, Kelly and her family drove down from New Hampshire to spend a few days in PA. It was so great to see her!!!! We had such a good time just talking and eating ice cream together, it was just like old times. And our girls became good friends too.


Anniversary
We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in August. Yay!

Gardening

Before & After
My friend, Michele (not the same Michele as the one from The Rachael Ray Show) taught me how to garden. For those of you who have seen my yard, you can attest that it was a terrible mess. Michele looked at it and said, “You know, your yard is a diamond in the rough.” She inspired me to get started, showed me how to dig flower beds and mix soil, took me to the nursery to help me buy plants and encouraged me every step of the way. Who knew gardening could be so rewarding and so addictive???

Before & After

SEPTEMBER
We are swimming!
I mean this metaphorically, of course.

My oldest daughter has always struggled developmentally and academically. I have been on a quest (since she was 2 years old) to find out what was going on with her and to get her the help she needed. I felt like she was a puzzle and that I had to not only find all the pieces, but I had to figure out how to put them all together. After many years and doctor appointments (ear tubes, speech therapy, developmental pediatrician, audiologist, language therapy, diagnostic tests, diagnosis of multiple learning disabilities, needing glasses, reading support, learning support, nutritional counseling, etc., etc.) we finally have all the pieces in place.

Thanks to her amazing teachers who cared about her not only academically but also about her well-being, she is finally getting the help she needs. She is finally keeping pace with other 3rd graders. She still has to work hard but it feels great to be swimming instead of sinking!

OCTOBER
Lice
Good riddance. Enough said.

NOVEMBER
Molly
My heart is still sad as I am missing my dear little dog, Molly who died in November. Sometimes I think I hear her barking when I pull the car into the parking space behind the house. Or in the middle of the night I reach out to pet her at the foot of my bed. When I was decorating for Christmas, I carefully unpacked our advent calendar because it has bells on it and every year when I would unpack it, Molly would hear the bells and would start barking like crazy. But then I realized I didn’t need to keep it quiet anymore since she was not around to bark at it.

On the bright side, we were given a lovely book by our friends, the McKnights, called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. The text and pictures are lovely and it makes me smile to think of Molly eating squirrel-shaped dog biscuits in heaven.

No More Diaper Bag!
I have been carrying a diaper bag for the past 8.5 years but no longer need to carry one as my youngest is potty-trained during the day (he still needs a diaper at night). I cannot even believe that I can walk out of the house without a diaper bag and without a sippy cup! I never knew how liberating it would be to be finished with diapers! I am looking forward to the next milestone: no more car seats or booster seats. I’ll be waiting at least another 6 years for that though.

Have a happy, healthy, harmonious 2008!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Cacophony of Carols

We were treated to a "concert" on Christmas night, check it out on the video below. (Sorry about the shaky filming, my husband was laughing so hard that he couldn't keep the camera steady.)
video
The video is a little blurry but you can get a sense of the craziness nonetheless!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!



What an exciting day it has been so far! Our day started at 2:30AM when our middle children came into our room asking to open presents. Needless to say, we said NO but they persisted in waking us up numerous times until I told them that I didn't know if Santa had come yet, but if he hadn't, he wouldn't come as long as they were awake so they finally fell back to sleep, albeit, in our bed.

We came downstairs around 7:00 to open gifts. My mother headed down before anyone else . . . and ended up falling down the last 2 steps, landing on her shoulder. She is bruised and cut and sore, but ok otherwise, thankfully.

We usually open gifts one-at-a-time from youngest to oldest. However, my 4 year old son did not get to open his Christmas Eve presents because he was throwing a fit and was sent to bed without opening gifts. So we let him open the first present and he ended up throwing another fit and getting sent back to bed.

OK, you are probably thinking we are mean and awful parents to punish a child like this at Christmas. So I feel compelled to share the story with you so that you have all the facts before deciding that we are ogres. It all started with church on Christmas Eve. Our son did not want to go because he does not like to wear clothes. (My older children were also like this at age 4. I have concluded that I like other people's 4 year olds but that I really do not like my own children at this age.) Obviously, he has to wear clothes to church. (I should mention that he throws a fit EVERYDAY when I get him dressed.) He was very unhappy about having to go to church (even though he was in his "soft pants") but he really freaked out when we arrived at church and we made him wear his Christmas Sweater over his t-shirt. He was crying and shrieking and wiggling as if we put itching powder in his pants. This went on for about 15 minutes. I was participating in the service (reading a book to the children) so I was upstairs getting my microphone, etc. while my husband was downstairs handling Maniac Child. By the time church started, my husband had given in (numerous people at church said to just give up and take off the sweater, I guess they were tired of hearing him wail) so my son was NOT wearing the Dreaded Sweater when church started. I was not happy with this as I do NOT give in when temper tantrums are involved. (If my son had calmly asked to take it off, I may have considered but the Freaking Out makes me dig my heels in.) As a consequence, my husband told my son that he could not have any of Jesus' Birthday Cake at the end of the church service. Well, at the end of the service they called all the kids forward to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and then they passed out cupcakes and sent the kids back to their seats. He brought the cupcake to the pew and I said "Do not eat this" (meanwhile trying to keep the other 3 and their cupcakes from being eaten and/or dropped) and quickly closed my eyes for the closing prayer, which lasted 40 seconds or less. When I opened my eyes, Maniac Child was stuffing the last of the cupcake into his mouth and almost half of it was on the floor in crumbs. I was NOT HAPPY and told him that he made some poor choices (named the poor choices) and told him he was going to bed as soon as we got home. He said, "That is the meanest thing to say to somebody." (Meanwhile, the sermon on Sunday was about having Mercy at Christmas when your family members are getting on your nerves. Although you may think I was being merciless, I wasn't because what I really wanted to do was pack up all his gifts and send them to Toys for Tots so sending him to bed seemed merciful to me.)

So up to bed he went, wailing and crying. Meanwhile, his siblings got to open a few presents, one of which was matching jammies for all the kids. After listening to about 20 minutes of wailing I started to feel sorry for him so I went upstairs and we talked about what choices he could have made that were better choices. He still wanted to come downstairs so I made a deal with him. I said he could come downstairs and see the gifts that his siblings opened but he could not open any AND he had to wear the Dreaded Sweater. He agreed, put it on and went downstairs and was pleasant and the Dreaded Sweater did not seem to bother him one bit! Shortly thereafter we put all the kiddies to bed.

OK, so back to this morning. We allowed Maniac Child to open his matching jammies before anyone else opened their gifts since he did not get to open them last night and so he could put them on and match his siblings. I even made a point to buy him Stripey Pajamas because the kid will only wear jammies with stripes on them. (Did I mention that 4 year olds are difficult?) When my husband tried to put the Christmas Jammies on him, he freaked out (I guess he did not learn anything from the Dreaded Sweater incident) and he was sent back up to bed while his siblings opened gifts. (This time I only let him wail for about 5 minutes before going up and talking him through it. He quickly agreed to wear the Dreaded Jammies and has been wearing them for the past 5 hours without complaint.)

Here are photos of some of our favorite gifts:
Electric Guitars & Microphone


American Girl Biddy Baby Twins & Stroller & Baby Alive
(she pees and poops, just like a real baby, thought I was done with all that!)


American Girl Doll, Much Wanted cool sweater, Christmas Jammies & Winter Crocs


Other favorites? A cool new car (top of post) and a "teacher kit" for playing school:


And of course, the Ever Popular, Much Anticipated, Sugared Cereal!

(I don't let my kids eat sugar-cereal throughout the year except for Christmas and the week we are on vacation in the summertime. The cereal is one of their favorite gifts. They love it and I love that it makes them so happy and costs so little. Oh, and you may wonder why there are only 3 cereal boxes instead of 4. That is because I have one child who does not like sugared-cereal. Hard to believe, I know. She gets a loaf of challah bread instead. She will eat the entire loaf today, guaranteed. That is, if the dog doesn't get to it first. Last year our dog, Lady, swiped it off the counter and gulped it down before my daughter could have any!)

Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Joy to the World!

I love this song, I think it is so powerful, putting into words all the hope and joy that was promised to us so long ago by the prophet Isiah:

Isiah 9:6
To us a child born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

May the joy and peace and blessings of Christmas be with you all. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cookies & Cake


We are baking almost every day in preparation for Christmas. Yesterday we made the oh-so-fun, much anticipated Sugar Cookies! In addition to green and white icing, I let the kids use Gel Icing that you squirt out of little tubes. Big Mistake!! They had no concept of "enough" and when you use too much gel icing, you end up with black blobs which are hideous and very unappetizing. (The ones in the photo below don't look too bad because I used paper towels to wipe off the black blobs. Very messy, my hands were bluish-purple by the time I finished.)


Of course they LOVE to load the cookies up with as much icing and sprinkles as possible - yuck. Not only did the kids enjoy decorating the cookies, one child in particular ate all the ones he decorated.


As stated in a previous post, my husband recently celebrated his birthday. We got him a cool ice cream cake that looks like a gingerbread house. My daughter took this picture of us with the cake, I think she did a good job for a 6 year old.


I've been baking for a couple weeks and am storing the cookies in the basement freezer. The ice cream cake is in the same freezer. We planned to have left-over ice cream cake for dessert last night but when I went to cut it, I discovered that it was nearly melted. That's because the freezer door was not shut tightly . . . apparently one or more of my children has been sneaking cookies from the freezer!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Birthday!

This is an exciting weekend for birthdays in our family. My Dad is celebrating his 70th birthday (sorry, Dad for telling everyone how old you are) and my nephew is celebrating his 1st birthday. (My husband is also celebrating this weekend, he and my father share the same birthday. My husband is turning 38, not such an exciting milestone).

My siblings and I took our parents out to Gilmore's for a birthday celebration on Friday night. Our sitter never showed up and by the time we realized that she was ditching us, it was too late to get another sitter. We had been looking forward to this evening for months and I was really annoyed with her for not showing up. My brother was driving in from Pittsburgh to join us for dinner and he arrived at our house just as we realized that the sitter was not going to show. I asked my brother to babysit and he graciously agreed. We were so grateful to him for his willingness to give up such a yummy meal to take care of 5 kids (my four plus my nephew). My brother's name is Dan and we have nicknamed him Danny the Manny (you know, like Nanny but since he is a man we call him Manny). Dinner was amazing and we brought home a spectacular dessert for Dan and then took him out the following night as a thank you.

We celebrated my nephew's 1st Birthday today.

Here is a picture of nephew, Liam, just after he was born.

I had the AMAZING privilege of attending his birth on December 16, 2006. He was absolutely perfect. He has turned into such a cutie and has developed a sparkling personality over the past year.

Here is a picture of him today, enjoying his birthday cake. It's hard to believe how many changes happen in the life of a baby in just one year!


Liam really enjoyed his cake and pretty soon it was all over him!


And pretty soon our dog, Lady, was more than willing to help clean him off!

They BOTH enjoyed the cake and I think Liam enjoyed feeding Lady as much as he enjoyed feeding himself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!


Our tree is decorated, the house is decorated, the gifts have been purchased (some of them are even wrapped), the Christmas cards have been mailed and I'm in the process of baking cookies. When I looked at the calendar the day after Halloween and realized that it was just 3 weeks until Thanksgiving, I started to panic! What I failed to realize (until after Thanksgiving) was that I have an EXTRA week to prepare for Christmas since Thanksgiving was so early this year. Thus, I am nearly finished with my Christmas preparations. And it feels REALLY good! I am usually stressed and anxious and doing too much on too little sleep. Not this year! I like that I am relaxed and enjoying the anticipation of Christmas. I am going to try to be this prepared EVERY year. (Check back next year to see how I'm doing.)

My 4 year old son wrote a letter to Santa the other day. He cannot write yet, except for the letters A, O, N, W so the entire page was covered in these letters. Nonetheless, he read his letter to me:

Dear Santa,

I want lots of toys for Christmas. Except I don't know what toys I want. But you probably know all the toys that are in the world so you will know what I would like. And I want lots of candy for my stocking.

It was fun to watch him "read". He kept stopping and pointing to his letter and asking, "Did I draw this letter right? Does this say the right thing?" and I would say, "It's perfect" and he would smile and continue "reading".

My kids love to help decorate the house (they are actually really helpful) and they love it when I unpack the Little People Nativity. I love the Little People Nativity too. Here's a picture of it after I've set it up.


And here is a picture of how it looks after my children get a hold of it:


They like to turn all the people and animals so that they are all peering into the manger. This used to frustrate me, so I would move them all back to the way I like it. After a couple days of this back-and-forth, my younger daughter said, "Mom! Why do you keep DOING that?! They want to see the baby Jesus and you keep moving them!" So now I don't interfere with the Little People Nativity. I let the kids set it up however they want. And I have a feeling that I'll use that nativity every year, turning all the Little People so they are peering into the manger, long after my children are grown.

Friday, December 7, 2007

School Pictures, Finally

My son's preschool picture just arrived.

What do you think? Does he look like me? My neighbor, who is 4 years old, asked to see a picture of me when I was a little kid. She thinks I look just like my 4 year old son.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Parade

I still haven't received any other photos from the parade so I guess I am going to have to post my own.



Our church built a Nativity float for the parade. My husband was a shepherd, my oldest daughter was a sheep and my 4 year old son was a cow. My son decided at the last minute that he wanted to be on the float. As soon as he saw the cow costume (or more specifically, the horns) he just HAD to wear it. He was so cute, he kept holding onto his horns and moo-ing. Once the parade started, he was waving to people, and according to my husband, got LOTS of attention. My husband said that people were laughing at how cute he was and said people were moo-ing and waving at him. Poor little guy. He thought people were laughing AT him and he started to withdraw and get sad and eventually stopped waving and started hiding his head against my husband's chest. By the time I saw the float go by, he was nearly in tears and had taken off his cow hat.

The parade was a huge success, in spite of the parade route changing and thus we were standing out in the cold for nearly 2 hours. We didn't even stay for the end of the parade because we were so cold. But the weather was dry and we had lots of fun in spite of the cold.

Here's a picture of the float.



Unfortunately, I am on the wrong side of the float so you can't really see the shepherd, sheep or cow. (Like I said, the parade route changed. I would have been on the right side if they had followed the printed route.)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stats

We had a great time on Friday night at the Old Fashioned Christmas Parade. 3 of us were actually participants in the parade! I'm waiting for some pics (the ones I took were not so great) so I'll post them as soon as I receive them.

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy some "stats" for our family for the month of November:

Number of loads of laundry washed, folded, put away: 58
Money spent on groceries: $951.94
Number of times a child vomited in my bed: 1
Number of times a vomited in their own bed: 1
Number of times a child vomited somewhere else (not a bed): 2
Number of trips made to NJ: 3
Number of date nights with my husband: 0
Number of diapers used: 30 (we are down to a diaper at night-time only!!!)
Number of doctor visits (kids): 3

Do you know that someone asked me yesterday, "So what do you do all day now that you are home?" I wish I would have had my laundry stats available to share with her!