Merriest Christmas

From all of us, to all of you!

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It’s been quite a year, and quite a holiday.  I’m still working on cards and still trying to get the baking done this year! Happy 2nd Day of Christmas!

“Bright Eyes,” the littlest of the family, is peeking out on Rascal’s lap. You will hear more about her soon.

 

At Year’s End

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Merry Christmas!

(I can still say that; it’s the 6th day of Christmas)

and Happy New Year soon!

I know 2016 has gotten a bad reputation lately. Ok, it’s been blamed for everything from the weather, to celebrity deaths, to the presidential election.  As if a calendar is really responsible for circumstances, or specifically, how we humans deal with circumstances. Admittedly, back during our long drought and heat wave I was looking forward to 2017 but that’s because we get Winter here from January-early March. 😉

I also realize I was pretty quiet here on the blog. I suppose most of it was the plain busy-ness of our life. I suppose also because it seemed that everything online was about politics. I felt like chiming in, but then I didn’t.  There was so much shouting, so much disrespect, so much MUCHNESS about it all, and the idea of adding anything to it did not appeal. But in abstaining from blogging I forgot the reason I do so….

It’s to share a little of our light with you.

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And if we all snuffed our light because we were afraid of being scorched by others, how can we hope to bring some joy into a world that has had quite enough of all that isn’t?

My aim with this blog is to share the joys and realities of our crazy cosy chaotic family, and to make you laugh while doing so. If I succeed, I am content.

So, without further ado, here’s the sum of 2016 and what you can expect from 2017 here at the Haus.

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Princess Rosebud would like you to know that she has to endure six more of these photo shoots.

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There will be LEGO

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There will be Star Wars (and SW jokes)

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There will be homeschooling! (You got to love fine motor practice. Meanwhile, they balk at the end of Christmas break fast approaching. If you listen hard tomorrow night you’ll probably hear the collective groan).

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There will be knitting! Especially since I’m about 3″ into that second slipper sock!

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There will be books! My sister and I made up a reading challenge together based on one at the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy site.  Stay tuned for more on that.

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There will be boats.  There will be fun.  There will be a vacation.

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There will be laughter.

There will also be a time when I can keep that workstation cleared off!

Maybe.

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So in this coming “month of hope and new beginnings,” I wish you again a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 See you in January, 2o17, dear readers.

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Oh, what, you didn’t know Tupperware was the latest fashion trend? Well, around here, according to Little Bit, is definitely is.  She raids my Tupperware drawer and keeps clapping one on her head and passing others out to whomever is near.  Yes, she expects you to wear them. One night I was clearing up dinner and suddenly up she pops with a tupperware container.  It happened to be precisely what I needed at the moment so with an absent “Thank you” I began schlopping the soup into container.  Schlopping is a very descriptive word.  Anyway, my attention is grabbed by a heartbroken “Awwwww!” and I turned to see her shuffling off with her tupperware hat on, head bowed, looking for all the world like a pouting Ewok. Ewoks pout, I’m sure.  So, I make a point to wear the hat when it’s offered.

And yes, I do wash them after wearing. 😉

Goodbye 2015!

YARN ALONG! I can’t seem to get the tag to link up, so I’m just linking in ye old-fashioned way.

Well, it’s been months since I posted on my knitting because frankly, it didn’t seem to change much from week to week.  Some weeks I had only managed a row or two on the way to Mass on Sunday, but I’m happy to say this Christmas break I’ve been able to seriously step up the knitting progress.  The day after Christmas I was able to bind off the body of the sweater, and have been working down the first sleeve ever since. Will I finish it for him during the 12 days of Christmas? To be honest, I have no idea. I want to be done by January 18th, though, as that was the date I cast this sweater on the needles.  Also, I signed on to participate in the Evelyn knit-a-long, this time for something for me, and it starts sometime next month.

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Altogether, though, I’m very pleased with the Armas project.  It took a good deal longer than I thought it would, but that wasn’t the design’s issue but rather my everlasting struggle with time management. 😉

A little light reading this week.  I’m kind of on an Astrid Lindgren kick, having scored Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, as well as Happy Times in Noisy Village on Thrift Books this month. I am not above reading the books I buy for my children, nor do I think anyone should ever be.

Meanwhile we had a very Merry Christmas here at the Haus.  My parents came down for the main holiday, and on Boxing Day we had a big dinner for them, my in-laws, some friends, and our parish priest. What fun!  We aren’t doing a big dinner tomorrow for New Years, but we are expecting more friends to stop over for the night on their travels back home.  It promises to be a fun beginning to a new year.

My resolutions for 2016 seem to be trending toward keeping things running smoothly.  Yesterday I sat down and pencilled out a menu plan for the entire month of January.  Today I began to work on the lesson plans for the month, knowing that I would not want to do that while having our friends over.  My workstation in is the foyer, where I can have a central space to keep track of things. It consists of an old dresser from my grandmother’s house, that keeps our binders, maps, mailing materials, and lesson plans out of sight.  A shelf on the wall above–from my great-grandmother–is the year-round place where I keep the books I’m reading, stationary (if I ever get around to hand-writing an actual letter or sending a real card!), a letter holder for bills, a plant, a picture of Jacob, and a favorite icon. This year I’m trying something new and have Susan Branch’s desk calendar on the wall between shelf and dresser.  My menu plan is to the left of that (with chore rules above), and to the right are favorite drawings from my resident artists.

Now, I would love to say having this workstation means that everything stays neat and tidy, but my husband will be the first to tell you that is not the case, if he were inclined to do so. 😉  And it’s a constant struggle not to let the workstation become the dumpstation. However, at the moment it is looking nice and tidy, which is more than I can say about it’s appearance an hour or so ago:

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And that’s another struggle constant in the household: keeping things running smoothly while raising toddlers!

Here’s farewell to 2015 and a blessed 2016 to all of you with love from all of us!

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Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Christmas Eve Edition

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Advent is winding down!  Oh, there seems like so much still to do.  Isn’t that how it always is?  Still, I wanted to pop on and wish all of you a Merry Christmas.

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The stockings are hung by the chimney with care!  We did misplace one of the girls’ stockings, and fortunately they aren’t personalized so I whipped out my own personal First Christmas stocking for Littlest to use.  She won’t even notice, this year, at least.

No, the star does not fit above the tree.  The tree was just too tall!

And no fire in the woodstove this year.  It is far too unseasonably warm. 😦

The prints above the mantel are from “glorydesigns” on Etsy.

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Upstairs we have our Jesse Tree and the IKEA stars that Haus Meister brought home for me last month.  When lit, they are very cheerful and may just be one of my favorite decorations this year.

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I do love decorating with candles. Last year, also from Etsy, I purchased a set of vinyl Nativity cutouts to go on glass jars for a handmade candle holder effect. However, it was one of those things I didn’t get around to until this year.

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This jolly St. Nick is one of the few decorations to have survived through our entire marriage.  He’s been at every Christmas in every place we’ve lived.  Even if he has to hide in a bathroom for survival…

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And everyone was happy to get our big tree downstairs!

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Everything is one toddler away from destruction.  (Actually, they’re surviving okay)

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As Advent ends and Christmas proper begins, I’m going to share with you some of our favorite carols.  Frohliche Weihnachten!

O Come O Come Emmanuel (this version has been a favorite in the Haus this Advent)

Mitt Hjerte Alle Vanker

Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker

Mitt hjerte alltid vanker i Jesu føderom
Der samles mine tanker som i sin hovedsum
Der er min lengsel hjemme, der har min tro sin skatt
Jeg kan deg aldri glemme velsignet julenatt

Akk, kom jeg opp vil lukke mitt hjerte og mitt sinn
Og full av lengsel sukke, kom Jesus dog her inn
Det er ei fremmed bolig, du har jo selv den jo kjøpt
Så skal jeg blive trolig, her i mitt hjerte svøpt

Jeg gjerne palmegrene vil om din krybbe strø
For deg, for deg alene jeg leve vil og dø
Kom la min sjel deg finne sin rette gledesstund
At du ble født her inne i hjertets dype grunn

My Heart Always Lingers

My heart always lingers in the birthplace of Jesus
My thoughts gather there as their main sum
There my longing has its home, my faith its treasure
I can never forget you, blessed Christmas night

Oh come, I will open my heart and my mind
and sigh with longing, yet come in Jesus
It is not a strange home, you have bought it yourself
So I will remain faithful, wrapped here in my heart

I will gladly spread palm branches around your manger
for you, for you alone I will live and die
Come, let my soul find its right moment of joy for you
that you were born here in the deep of the heart

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Wrapping up Christmas

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January 9th? What?! I have to catch up on Christmas before we launch into next week, the Birthday Week.  This year we are celebrating three days in a row.  Dino and Sunshine share a birthday but we learned last year that it isn’t always a good idea for them to share a birthday party.  In fact, it still rankles apparently because Dino has been reminding me all week that Sunshine has a tendency to open everyone’s presents (meaning his).  So, he gets his birthday, she gets the next day, and my birthday rounds out the three (very low key. And probably low sugar by that point just by default).

But stepping back a moment….

Haus Meister took some of the kids out after Mass on the 4th Sunday of Advent to find a tree to be our formal Christmas tree in the basement family room.  This was a good thing this year since our real Jesse tree upstairs had probably been cut in mid-October since it was mostly dead (that is, slightly alive) by Christmas Day.  It was down before Epiphany.  Well, our intrepid explorers could not find a grand 8-10 ft tree to be had anywhere, so they came home with two trees from Lowes.  The taller one cost $7.50. The shorter, only $5.  I was cringing to think I’d paid full price for our dead Advent tree. 😉

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I loved the look of the trees next to the hearth.  I think we may be decorating like this every year now.  Rather pretty, no?  They are still lovely and I’m going to hate taking them down this weekend.

The gift theme this Christmas was books, costumes (since the kids love to play dress-up no matter what time of year) and by happy chance we were able to find a kitchen set for the girls, which has already seen many tea parties and “cake” or “cookie” baking.  Here, a happy Sunshine is modeling her “princess-dreams-come-true” dress (that’s what she calls it) and wielding a wooden knife, no doubt for the wooden pats-of-butter that are for some reason in the sink. 🙂

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Happy 

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My baby sitting in my new rocking chair, an early Christmas present from Haus Meister, when the reupholstery project on my armchair proved to be too big a project for us to start right now.  I regretted that for a while, until this chair arrived.  Oh my, it’s so niiiiiiice…..

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We “tag teamed” Christmas Masses this year.  As Rascal was serving at the Midnight Mass, and Haus Meister was taking him, I took Dino and Princess to the Children’s Mass.  There they were able to dress up as a Wise Man and an Angel and participate in the procession at the beginning of Mass where the Child Jesus statue is placed in the creche.  I am glad to have had a chance to snap a picture of them in their costumes…

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Because this is what the procession shots looked like:

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Funny 

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Posey was enamored of all the beautiful clearance items at Lowes! I find this funny because I could hardly drag her away. I’d hear her little voice chirping “Look!” “Look!” as she meandered around the displays.

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We were able to replace the camera stolen by the thieves in Indy on the day after Thanksgiving. So why are all my pictures the grainy cell phone ones?

Figuratively hitting my head on my desk right now.

Of course, Haus Meister has taken 98% of the pictures on the new camera, and I was in a hurry so I uploaded the ones from my phone. As always, filtering through 30 variations on this:

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or this:

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as the Mischief Squad attack.  But one day Miss M managed to actually get a picture of me holding Littlest, which was a pleasant surprise.

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Of course, it looks like I need more sleep.  And I do.  Signing off…. 😉

Merry Christmas

SONY DSCFrom all of us, to all of you,

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS

with the peace that comes from Christ and the wonders of His love, that He was born for us those centuries ago.

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Speaking of wonders, I’m wondering where I put the Fontanini Baby Jesus after Christmas last year! Luckily Dino remembered the spare Little People Jesus just in time.

 

The Advent Post

Last week on Facebook in our local mom’s group a friend asked what traditions we all had for Advent.  I immediately summed up a handful of our traditions in the longest comment I’d left on FB to date. Ironically, the question was asked after a linked article which suggested ideas to keep Advent holy without burning out by Christmas.  Since Advent and Christmas are our favorite holidays, we do a LOT in those four weeks plus twelve days.  Immediately after posting, I began to fret.  What if I unwittingly sparked a FB argument about allowing your children to believe in St. Nicholas/Santa Claus?  What if I made someone feel like they didn’t do enough simply because we plan a lot?  What if my comment causes someone else to burn out?!  And when no one else had time or inclination to post their traditions in the com box that afternoon, I chickened out and deleted it, only to have people respond more the next day and wonder where my post had gone.  Comparison is the thief of joy, someone smarter than me once said, and they are right.  And I was, after all, being silly and thinking way too hard about it.

So I decided to come over here and wax eloquent about our Advent traditions, because here I can be verbose and often am! 🙂 Those of you who have been following this blog over the last 5 years can probably take a snooze because you’ve seen it all before, and will most likely see it again.  So without further ado….

The Sunday before the First Sunday of Advent:

I make the Christmas pudding, keeping up an English tradition. Whether we actually eat the pudding, any or all of it, depends on the year, but I make it anyway. There was one year we forgot to eat it on Christmas. There was last year when we were sick and didn’t eat it until later. Still, the smells of the pudding steaming are quite delightful and it’s a great Advent treat because you have to let it sit for the interim between “Stir-Up Sunday” and Christmas Day.  This dessert is obviously not for everyone–it is made with brandy–but it smells good, looks Dickens-ey, and my husband gets to light it on fire. Win-win.

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First Sunday of Advent

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We get out our Advent wreath, which depending on the year may be the lovely wooden German one I bought several years ago, or the felt toddler one. This year it is going to be both, but the German one will be kept out of reach. We bring out the Advent calendars and I go to Wal-mart and get a small real tree for our Jesse tree.  Some years that has doubled as our real Christmas tree–like the year we went to Indiana for Christmas and we put the tree in the van between the two front seats. When it got dark we plugged the lights in and gave everyone some Christmas cheer. Lots of people appreciated it as we passed. It was fun! But I digress. Anyway, the ornaments for our Jesse tree have varied from year to year from ones I’ve drawn myself to ones that I’ve printed from the computer. This year we’re doing these.

A perennial favorite are these sticker calendars. I’ve been using them with the kids every year since Trooper was probably 3 or 4. I like these because the kids get to put the figures anywhere they want, which leads to quite interesting and individual presentations. 🙂  I generally change up some of the numbers so the Holy Family are the last to go in.

"Sorry Mom, I gotta put Baby Jesus up here." "Why is that, son?" "There's no room for Him on the floor."
“Sorry Mom, I gotta put Baby Jesus up here.” “Why is that, son?” “There’s no room for Him on the floor.”

We also do a color-a-day calendar of an English Christmas village.I bought the downloaded file from here and just print off a copy for each interested child.  I allow them to tape the village to the walls of their room and thus add some seasonal decor of their own styling.

Then the Advent tree my father-in-law made for Trooper’s first birthday goes up as well. I usually put little notes in each door with an activity/prayer request/suggestion for the day to help the kids keep a “giving” mindset.

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(Picture taken while we still had wallpaper in the foyer. SO glad that’s gone!)

And then there’s The Goat.  In Gavle, Sweden, a 3-ton straw goat is erected every year for the Christmas festivities. A webcam allows you to see the goat in all it’s sometimes snow covered glory for ostensibly from the first Sunday of Advent through New Year’s, but I have only once seen it last remotely that far. This has been going on for 50 years (though not the webcam), and it’s an unofficial tradition for someone to burn the goat down at some point. Why the Goat-watch has become part of my Advent I can’t tell you for sure. I guess chalk it up to my love of the random.

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Finally our creche goes out–but not the Holy Family and their donkey. Despite my best efforts to have the kings travel up from the basement from Advent through Epiphany, they usually appear in Bethlehem pretty quickly. More on that in a minute.

Over the years, being a bookworm, I’ve amassed quite the collection of Christmas books for the children.  Generally I find we don’t read all of them, so this year I’m doing what I’ve seen other families do and wrap each book so that a child unwraps a book a day, then we read it together.

The Eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 5th.

By this time our Jesse tree readings bring us to Abraham and the promise God made to him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. So on this day we put lights on the Jesse tree.

We also put our window candles in the window to light the way for St. Nicholas. Our shoes go out either next to the Jesse tree or on our kitchen table (it used to be on the floor in the hall until the corgis arrived), and the children’s letters to St. Nicholas are left out for him instead of being mailed. My parents would practice this tradition for my sister and I (the shoes, at least), and even when I went to college I still received a St. Nicholas package. At college I’d put the contents of that package in my slippers and Mom always put some in for my roommates as well. One year I played St. Nicholas and left a treat outside everyone’s door on our wing of top floor St. Catherine’s.  Only one year can I remember not putting out my shoes for St. Nicholas day–and that was the year Trooper was born.

St. Nicholas Day, December 6th

So what do we find in our shoes come St. Nicholas day in the morning? Generally an apple, an orange (or clementine), and some form of sweetie. Mom used to give us peppermint nougats and a walnut, but somewhere along the line I gave my kids the Little Debbie Christmas tree cake. It’s the only day of the year I buy those things. A small gift is left behind for the kids as well.

Upon reading about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s childhood Christmas traditions one year, and how he mentioned a new figure would appear in the family nativity set each year, we began to add to our set as well so each St. Nicholas Day a new person or animal will show up.  I plan to have a pretty epic set by the time we have grandchildren.

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And some years the kids “add” their own animals from their barnyard set.

St. Nicholas day is also Trooper’s birthday so we celebrate big on this day.

St. Lucia Day–December 13th

In the evening we serve hot cocoa and saffron buns (if I’ve been industrious) or refrigerated cinnamon rolls (if I haven’t).  One of the girls will be our Lucia Queen. This year I might find a wreath that will stay on the older girl’s heads.  Hmmmm…..

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

By now our calendars are in full swing and we have made a lot of homemade cookies and lots of kid-colored decorations.

Generally if we are going to get a larger-than-tabletop tree we do it this day of the year, unless Christmas Eve coincides with this day. On those years we get the tree on the 3rd Sunday. We hold off decorating as long as we can, but it’s usually before Christmas Eve. (sheepish grin) And I will confess, we listen to Christmas music from the First Sunday of Advent through Epiphany (and sometimes earlier, but always until at least Epiphany).

On Christmas Eve the Holy Family appears in the creche scene.

But I think that covers Advent, and if I write any more,  I’ll be going into Christmas. 😉

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{pretty, happy, funny, real} Family Photo Session!

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Originally I’d planned to do our family photos over Thanksgiving, but when an e-mail coupon for Shutterfly coincided with one of their holiday cards deals, I decided It Was Time. Monday became Family/School Photo Day and my father-in-law gallantly came over to take the pictures over Haus Meister’s lunch break.

With the promise of Hallowe’en candy, the kids dressed up in their Church clothes/ Christmas dresses and got giddily hyper. Always the proper mentality before getting photographed for posterity.

Alas, Dino fans, he did NOT wear a hat this year.  He was even marginally more cooperative.  One might think he’s growing up.  Or one might think the candy bribe was pretty powerful.

In any event, here’s a bunch of Pretty, Happy, Funny, and oh so Real!

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This remains one of my favorites, even if it didn’t fit in the card we chose. I love Princess’ exuberance (although I had NO idea she was doing that at the time), Sunshine’s sweet smile, Dino’s coy look, Trooper’s goofy look (because he was laughing), and the corgi photobomb.

That was picture #4.  My father-in-law wisely just kept snapping in hopes that one picture would come out with us all looking in one direction.

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Picture #24. Miss M: “Oh! Look! I see the plane! Do YOU see the plane, [Posey]? Mama, a plane!”  Posey Pie: “Whoooooa.”

Sunshine is ready to move on.  I only wish I HAD known Princess was doing that. The boys look fine. Corgi still photobombing. Time for a change of scene….

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LEAF PILE!  YAAAAAAA!

I wanted one of us all in the leaves, and one of me with our girls, and Haus Meister with our strapping lads. Too much to ask?

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Four out of five girlies. Not so bad. Come on, Sunshine!

But the fun of prancing in the leaves in full dress was just too much. Daddy had to sit in just so SHE would sit down.  And shout “CHEEEEESE!”

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I love that Sunshine girl.  She puts her heart into it.  Meanwhile, no clue why Princess is jumping up.  Miss M is still looking for planes, Posey is about over it, and Littlest is still along for the ride.

Littlest isn’t so little, if you notice.  There’s only about 4lbs difference between Posey and herself. She also just turned six months old. I am in denial that it’s already been half of a year since her quick entrance into our life.

Anyway, back to the photos.  The boys didn’t fare much better.  A truck lumbered down our street and completely distracted Trooper while it was in sight.  The other two young miscreants had no such excuse. Not one picture had all three of my little men looking at the camera.

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But I am pleased as punch that after cropping out our neighbor’s air conditioner unit, we have Family Photo 2014!

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Trooper had just yanked me backward into the leaves. What a stinker! Posey’s two-finger habit now captured, Miss M looking 75% more dainty than she normally appears, and we are all, generally, facing forward.

For us, SUCCESS! 😉