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The Christmas Season is upon the Knucker Hatch household, and I do believe we are having the most memorable experiences to date. It has taken our family a good while to create our own traditions while striving to hold on to the old of family Christmas’ past. I remember in our first Christmas years as a new family, feeling frustrated that we hadn’t a single tradition of our own, and few to bring to the table from our own families. But this year, over a decade later, we have arrived.

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The fresh tree has yet to pass our threshold, and the storage boxes packed with the stockings and Christmas decorations have still not been pulled from the garage, but we are already knee deep in welcoming family traditions. The spirit of Christmas is finding its way into the kitchen, and on to the mantle, and into our hearts. Children are prancing around the house dancing to Christmas carols, determined to learn every song title by heart. While, little hands have been hard at work creating Christmas countdown paper chains, beaded pipe cleaner candy canes, felt holly wreath ornaments, and paper snowflakes. I’ve been inspired to do a family advent activity calendar, which keeps the children waking up happily with a “What’s the Christmas activity today, Mom?”.

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Tom Builder and I have spent and will spend many more nights perfecting his Grandma’s elusive fudge recipe. I think this year, we’ve almost cracked the fudge code (Grandma’s fudge was not creamy, but had a slight grainy hardness…in other words slightly off the mark, but what Tom Builder’s side of the family grew to know and love as Grandma’s treasured fudge). We will add to our new traditions of whipping up some killer addictive peanut brittle, and creating our famous Christmas cookie tree, with some new candies like peppermint bark to try this year. And tonight, the kitchen prepares for a gathering of friends tomorrow that will last all day and through the night – thousands of flavored biscotti will be baked, iced, and wrapped for company customers, as we assist with a lofty gift giving tradition started by the brave wife of Mr. Incredible’s business partner. Meanwhile, nine children will be weaving in and out of our baking with squeals of laughter and much hootin’ and hollerin’.

In the background, there are Christmas parties to attend and a company party to host (which scares me to death) and all of the Christmas shopping. But for some reason, this time, I’m not falling prey to the mad Christmas rush. To the dark bundles of stress, worry, and distraction that I so often carry around during December and almost seem to open my arms willingly to catch. This year, I am finding true joy in the season. Meaningfulness.

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Every December day. Shared with loved ones. Traditions treasured up and memories held close.

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Pink Power Up

The gig is up. In an odd series of events tonight, in which Tom Builder and I were syncing up our computers, he happened to glance over just as I was opening my computer which had been left on my mail. My mother, (bless you Mom), had written in giant bold pink letters “Girls Rule!!” in an e-mail, which just couldn’t be missed by roaming eyes. Contest over. Sheesh. At least it wasn’t my mouth that slipped up.

And now you all may know the truth: We are expecting ANOTHER baby girl! Can you believe it?? I joked with Mr. Incredible that this could only mean one thing: I’m kicking the bucket first, and God is lining the girls up for him to be well cared for.

I was absolute fine with the news as soon as I heard it. In fact, I laughed. More HIGH Maintenance. For a girl who never was party to the typical girl cliques of childhood and who rarely had more than one true girlfriend, what in the world am I doing with all of these girls???? Dare I say, I feel a little out of my league. Tom Builder, of course, has one more excuse to buy another shot gun. At least he gets more guns out of the pink equation.

A Peek In The Pot

I’m still in awe of our ultrasound yesterday. Everything went so very well, and Lil’ Fünf showed up with extreme clarity on the machine. I’ve grown to love the ultrasound tech who has sounded our last three children, and comes from a family of five children herself. She’s a source of encouragement when she does my ultrasounds, always saying that it gives her joy to see other families having large families.

So yesterday, she went through all of the details and measurements, while I tried to memorize every image…the shape of the nose, the placement of the chin. Double checking that I did want to know the gender of Fünf, she had the privilege of revealing the news (wouldn’t you like to know).

And then she threw sugar sprinkles on top as she said, “Since you’re such a good customer…”, and viola, before my very eyes, I went from seeing our dear child in 2D to 3D!! (Something one is supposed to plop down about $200 extra green backs to receive.)

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It’s hard to believe this little one is only half way through creation…every little detail has already been set in place. Suddenly, trying to envision the shape of the lips and nose became possible.

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I’m thinking future candidate for the Olympics in 2040??

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I WISH I could share with you the finer detail that I know all of you want to know, but Tom Builder has been stubborn as a cement block and is determined not to know…although he swears he could tell from my phone message to him after the ultrasound that based one “how” I spoke, it was a boy. The children have practically twisted into pretzels trying to get him to give in. So for now, I’ll let you all form your own guesses based on the ultrasound pictures.

Today is the blessed day. I’m really excited. This afternoon, I head into that small ultrasound room to have another close encounter with “The Fünf-Meister”. Tom Builder is having a meeting with the Department of Defense (so his absence is excused). Mr. Incredible is insisting that for right now, he doesn’t want to be privy to the notions of pink or blue, and wants it to remain a surprise. I, however, have no control in this arena, and MUST know for “planning purposes”. So in some ways this little visit with Fünf will be my little secret.

Here’s your math problem for the day: What comes next for the Knucker Hatch Family with the pattern of Girl, Boy, Girl, Girl?

Here’s my vote: I think it’s a boy. Here’s what you need to know: I have been wrong 75% of the time, but I was right, when it really WAS a boy.

About five months ago, you would have found my nose deeply buried in an appliance or cabinet brochure. Tom Builder and I had decided that it was time to officially “move over to the other side of the house.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with our housing situation, we bought a house almost two years ago that is two houses that have been built together. While we did move all of our bedrooms into the newer side of the house when we moved in, we prefer to spend most of our time on the older side of the house.

The older side of the house is where we homeschool, office, and live out our day. When we bought the house, it was our plan to use the kitchen as our homeschooling facility and storage. While we do school there, I also did all of my cooking there, like any other normal family. As a result of spending most of our time on the older side of the house, it is half way decorated and holds the most cheer. However, walk over to the new portion of the house and you will find empty rooms waiting for inspiration until you hit the bedrooms.

Why? All because I loathe the other kitchen. While it is larger, it’s cold. It’s modern with a horrible looking mach stainless steel tile backsplash, and cabinets that border on a pink glaze. They say the kitchen is the hub of a household, and that holds true for our family. I don’t do pinky kitchens. I just couldn’t imagine gathering around that pink steel kitchen and having a hot dinner together. I could go on and on, but it simply was the complete opposite of my kitchen happiness. So I worked in the smaller kitchen that spoke warmth. End of story.

But then Tom Builder opened up the door by suggesting that maybe it was time to rework the other kitchen, knowing that it would be a strong catalyst for “finishing” our move. And that was all I needed. Off to work I went locating Kitchen Design companies and looking at portfolios. In two months, we had the blueprints to a complete kitchen redesign that blew our budget by over 300%. The redesign was beautiful and involving a stack stone fireplace, windows facing the barn and fields, Alder wood cabinets, granite and all the fixings. The price was hair raising, but we were willing to bite the bullet.

I was minutes from handing the designer a check for the cabinets to be ordered, when Mr. Incredible The Cautious decided not to do anything until we saw an itemization of the demo work that was to be performed. A simple request that would take a weekend and a couple of days. A small delay. The check was never passed on. And that, my friends, is when the bottom of the market fell out. And then Obama was elected.

With the economy gutted, and a president elect who had announced he was going to tax the wahzoo out of small businesses (our livelihood) and a certain sector of the public, doing this kitchen suddenly became the most unwise decision we could make. We halted everything. Nada kitchen.

Falling Leaves

Fall in Georgia has brought the most spectacular changes in leaf colors that I can recall for years. It has truly been breathtaking to wake up every morning, look out across the fields and property and view a cascade of colors on the trees. This weekend, the children spent time doing what they can’t resist doing every fall…building giant leaf piles. They know now, after many seasons of leaf pile building, Mama brings out the camera. This year, they came to me excitedly saying, “Mom! Get the camera!”.

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I have to admit that because I was in the middle of something, I had done the “Not right now.” But guilt settled over me in seconds. These are the times to stop doing useless busy work and capture memories. I’m so glad I did.

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The economy may be tanking. And the world may feel like a snow globe that has just been shaken. But nothing, NOTHING, matters more than the smiles on the faces of my children. And the leaves from God’s playground put them there. A pile of dried up leaves…priceless.

Why? WHY? Why did I not fill out an absentee ballot this year for the election? (Banging head on laptop.) Our area has four days available for early voting, and only four precincts. The lines for early voting have been atrocious – anywhere from seven hour to two hour waits (if you’re lucky). Cars and bodies everywhere.

Both Tom Builder and I are dedicated and determined voters, so I knew it was bad when even Mr. Incredible turned right back around after attempting to vote on Monday. I thought things might be better off if I waited until today. So with all four kids in tow, I prayed for mercy and entered into the voting zone. It was a mad house. We never even made it out of the car. Questioning a lady who had clearly placed her vote, I was informed she had been waiting since 8:00 am. It was 11:00 am. Three hours was not going to cut it with lunch on the horizon. The line of people stretched out beyond the sea of cars. Beaten, I turned around too.

I don’t know if I should be elated at the voter participation or in fear of the task that looms ahead with four children in tow. Things are only predicted to get worse. The waits longer. I have visions of my family camping out all night in front of the voter precinct the night before election day, like some crazed teenagers trying to get tickets to their favorite band. I think this would be an excellent time to propose an HOV lane for voters with small children in tow. Can children really wait four hours in line without having to pee? For that matter can pregnant ladies???

Yes, Tom Builder and I could find a way to take turns sans children and vote. However, with what is being predicted for waits on election day, only one of us will probably have the opportunity to vote. Which is why early voting seemed like a golden ticket. However, I really wanted the older children to experience the voting booth again – they think it is exciting and interesting. And after hearing about an election for two whole years of their little lives, it is important for them to witness their parents finally getting to take part in the freedom to vote for the next President of the United States.

Here’s the problem, I wonder if after spending four to seven hours next to four children in the freezing cold voting line, I would turn every McCain voter to the left and right of me into an instant Obama supporter!