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12.26.2009

 
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Family Time

Well, hello again everyone and Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day to you (today) and Happy New Year! We have been having a wonderful time with family, specifically my (Jenny's) family here in St. Louis. I guess we've been here for 2 weeks on and off. We've taken several "Christmas Lights" tours about town and even checked out the zoo lights and Botanical gardens displays, even got to catch up with old friends and their growing families and reconnect with folks from the past.

Attended mass with mom and dad last sunday at St. Stanislaus, which was followed by a bigos dinner accompanied by wine and screwdrivers (the drink, not the tool.) Ahh..the catholic church. What is bigos? A traditional polish stew made with meat and cabbage (of course) in a tomato-y broth. Very yummy. Sometime during my post meal stupor I agreed to help create scenery and props for their upcoming Christmas pagent of sorts. Luckily, we only had to construct two lambs. Unfortunately, Uncle Frank had to do much of the constructing as I spent my time tearing up boxes, creating a mess of paint with the boys and covered, well, mostly ourselves in glue and cottonballs. It was a lot of fun, but the sheep the boys and I created looked more like a puffy white cloud than an animal, so thank goodness for Uncle Frank to the rescue! As Frank repaired our damaged the boys got to work running around and being silly, and I made 70 or so pierogis for the upcoming Polish Christmas Dinner at mom's house. Before we knew it, it was Christmas eve, with lots of cleaning, cooking, preparing and excitement about Santa. Henry set out the cookies for santa and made sure to include a note for santa stating that the cookies and carrots were in the kitchen so Tillie ( my parents' dog) didn't eat them for him.

We all attempted to attend midnight (this really means 10 p.m.) mass on Christmas eve, despite the time and the yucky rain, but the boys fell asleep on the way, so Bryce dropped me off to attend church with my parents and Frank. I sat down in the pew only to realize a minute later that I had the key to the Czyzewski abode. Oops! I removed myself from the sanctuary and desperately tried to reach Bryce to warn him to turn around, but alas, his phone was trapped in the house. I tried telepathy for a few minutes, with no results and finally, Dad volunteered to drive back home to let them in, where he found them asleep in the blue VW sleigh. Dad then returned to church to join us in time to turn around and walk back out. Thanks dad! morale of the story : If you marry a forgetful spouse, be prepared to sleep in the driveway.

Christmas morning came too quickly and was everything that children and parents want it to be...full of joyful surprises of all sorts. Wynne was so overwhelmed with the display that it wasn't until he tripped over his gift, that he realized what was happening. He simply declared, " A loop-de-loop track - hey,I wanted that!" It took a minute for it all to sink in. The boys even surprised me with gifts they saved for, and dad took them out to buy. A box of chocolate truffles from Henry, and the movie "Tale of Desperaux" from Wynne because, as he says,"mom, you are princess and I am desperaux, a brave little mouse." It was too sweet and thoughtful. We all had a great time opening gifts and all until we had to prepare for the onslaught of visitors for lunch.

Christmas dinner was successful with all sorts of polish fixins and wonderful company until late into the night. I could go on, but we have more christmas tomorrow...if we can make it, as we are headed to Adrian and the Oates side of the family, which is covered in a frosty white blanket as we speak.

12.14.2009

candy cane crash and burn

Its been a week or so since I've updated in my journal entry-like way and its been a holiday-mania of sorts, much of which involves kind-hearted folks pumping my kids full of sugary snacks. Santa even gave away full sized candy bars, cans of coca-cola (Coke, seriously?!) and, of course, candy canes. How exactly are these kids supposed to behave after ingesting all this crap? (And yes, I know its my job to monitor the intake, but 3 parades, 2 visits with santa and several other holiday gatherings with family...I can only do so much here people.) I am beginning to think that Santa is always watching just as a psychological and physiological experiment to study the effects of sugar on these little folks. Last year we called Henry and Wynne the sugar-high, super-fly, candy guys. This year they are truly living up to the name. I only hope to survive to 2010 myself with these two clowns.

Since my last lecture, my parents came to visit us in VanBuren, giving Bryce and me a bit of a break from the munchkins in the evenings so we could enjoy some local culture. Our choices in the culture category are drinking at the bar, drinking at home, or drinking on the river while spotlighting deer. We did have a drink at the bar, but decided to save the cash and go pass out at the cabin under 14 blankets to keep warm.

We spent most of Saturday going to parades - the cowboy christmas parade in VanBuren, then visited Alley Spring and Mill, snooped around Emminence, consumed some fried fare and waited in the cold for the Emminence Christmas Lights Parade. As we waited, we watched the bank sign featuring the temperature drop from 32 down to 29. This parade did not disappoint. Not sure where these folks came from, but I felt like I was transported to the Disney Lights parade in Orlando. Wynne jumped and cheered when he saw the best of all...Santa's sleigh pulled by 8 very cool ( and loud) Harleys (motorcycles, peeps) all lit up and on the back of a tractor trailer with no less than 30,000 lights adorning the float. If the coke from Santa, the huge bag of candy from the parade didn't put him in bliss, that did it. He is still talking about it. Tough to come down from a high like that, for these guys, anyway.

The rest of the week was more of the boring, same old, same old stuff; bald eagles, herons, discovering caves, racing giant icicles down the river, making driftwood boats, fishing hats out of the river, attempting gravity defying bike tricks, gluing parade candy onto the gingerbread house, being crazy. The usual. As the week ended, we sadly realized we have only a few days left here.

Friday, we rode to Doniphan for a visit with Nancy Smith where she spoiled us with a delicious dinner. Nancy and Bryce flew off to a meeting while we settled down to Snow White. The boys were sleeping in no time. When Nancy and Bryce returned, we talked into the wee hours, followed by a morning of croquet fun with a beautiful view of the river.

St. Louis was invaded late Saturday after a disappointing visit to the Dinosaur exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. If you're thinking of taking the kids to this over priced "dinosaur experience"...put it out of your mind now. Go get a book about dinos at your local bookstore. You'll learn more, and still be able to treat the family to ice cream. The boys liked it, but what do they know?

Zoolights sunday night was delightful with Henry's moping and Wynne's demands that the train re-open for his personal enjoyment. After some hot chocolate, all was well and spirits were lifted. Thanks dad. The fun continued as we drove through the city and even to "candy cane lane" to check out outrageous lights displays. Frosty the snowman seems to be the most popular lawn ornament this year. Wynne was quite fond of any candy cane decoration. Hmmm...a pattern?

While its been lots of fun here, we get to move on to see friends tomorrow in Columbia, so we can't wait.

12.13.2009

 
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12.05.2009

thankful thanksgiving

Hello all! We are back here on the web after quite a thanksgiving break. We spent the week of Thanksgiving in St. Louis with Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Marian's house with Tillie their dog. On the way, we stopped at the Elephant Rocks State Park and enjoyed a day of climbing and hide and seek in the amazing granite boulder playground. (Pictures to follow soon.)

Our time in St. Louis was full of fun and family with lots of time to play with cousin Anna from Dallas and Aunt Chris and Uncle Ted too. We also had lots of fun at the Magic House and the Museum of Transport where we enjoyed climbing all over the old trains, especially the Union Pacific Big Boy Locomotive," that had 9 wheels in front all bigger than mom!" I am not really quite sure how to take that, does this mean I am tall or round? I'll let it go.

Thanksgiving dinner at mom's house was the tastiest I can remember with turkey by Bryce, Uncle Jerry's sweet potatoes, dressing and gravy and all other delicious fixins. What a treat! After supper Anna, Henry and Wynne disappeared to the basement to design and build a zoo, town, railway system and playground.

We had a fun but it was time to move on. On to Kansas City and quick visit and scooter tour of my friend Katie's neighborhood, where the boys left me to spend the night as they went on to Adrian to see Grandma Janet and Grandpa Scott.

Katie and I shopped and dined ourselves silly before retiring to Katie's house where I got to sleep in a bed all by myself! I think Jasper, her dog would've liked to have joined me, but was kind enough to let me have the bed for the night. I know this doesn't seem like a big deal, but I assure you, for me, this was a HUGE deal! I have not slept in a bed all by myself for YEARS. Ahhh,,,the restorative power of sleep. After chocolates and coffee for breakfast, Katie, Andy and I checked out some gingerbread houses in the Crestwood shops and had lunch at Cafe Europa before heading to Belton to meet up with Janet, where Katie and I planned our next adventure.

On Saturday, Grandma Janet, Aunt Rachel, Liam, Henry, Wynne and I went to the Christmas Train with Santa in Adrian's Antique Village, while Eric and Bryce drank themselves silly while watching the MU/ KU game on t.v. (MU won...making Sunday morning much more enjoyable thank if otherwise had been the case.) The train was lots of fun, but I got moved to a different rail car as the engineer stated to me,"we might just derail if you sit there miss." Apparently, I had eaten a bit too much pumpkin pie in the last few days. The train was fun and the weather was perfect so were all happy. This was Liam's first train ride and he was a champ. I don't think he stopped smiling until he saw Santa where he held up his palm to Santa and said,"NO NO." Wynne and Henry however were not afraid to share with the white bearded stranger exactly what it is that they want. We were lucky enough to catch up with Linda, Aunt Allison, Aubrie, Oliver and Alisa while waiting in line, getting a sugar high from the cookies Grandma Mary baked (along with all the 'Antique Ladies') for all the kids in the town. It was a great time with great treats. Now where to find Earth heroes and a loop-de-loop, sideways superfast racetrack with a racecar with a spoiler on it?)

Sunday was full of fun getting ready for Thanksgiving Dos at Grandma Janet's. Scott and Wynne disappeared early to do "chores" while Janet,Bryce, Henry and I tried to help out with setting up. At noon, the festivities commenced with lots of delicious food and lots of family. Unfortunately, Henry had enough of all of it and was under the covers with a fever - until dessert was served. Hmmmm....?

We headed back here to VanBuren and our sweet, very cold, cabin on Sunday evening. We're back to our old tricks; biking, hiking, crafting, and so on.
We have 3 bald eagles camped out across from our cabin. Bald eagles!!! This is great fun to watch when the boys aren't being crazy scaring the hell out of them making the poor birds fly away. We've also discovered "frost flowers" which have been great fun to talk with the rangers about. We're also pretty sure the deer have figured out this is a nature sanctuary, since there is a nightly dinner party of at least 50 in the open field down from the cabin. Well, I am sure if you aren't sleeping now, you should be. Its the same old stuff here. Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Marian are visiting this weekend and we just finished eating all the candy they threw at us at the Cowboy Christmas Parade, so I should probably give up on mooching any more of the hotel's internet connection out here. I'll try to catch ya'll up again soon.