Sunday, November 29, 2015

The first Sunday of Advent

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
 (John 1:5) 

The Castro home is all a-glitter nowadays. Lights sparkling in every room, trees of all sizes in every room, dripping with handprint santas and painted glass balls. The music station has long since been turned to the coos of Mercy Me and John Denver delivering the background for the happiest time of year, and cookies and pies in the oven are on a regular name basis with the bellies of the household. It's Christmastime!
The countdown has begun, and November's tail is almost out of sight as December arrives.
(Not that you can really tell, since for some reason I decided to leave my camera's ISO at like a bajillion for the last few weeks...)

My Grantie Sakaye's cookie recipe has found it's way to the mixer and there are POUNDS of dough now in the freezer, awaiting its chance to be made into a batch of the yummiest yummies ever there were. 
Oh, and rainbow cocoa for the WIN!!

Our tree.
Every year there are less glass ornament balls, and a few more pictures, a few more yearly ornaments, and always a new pair of wings for Eli.
It's not beautiful and coordinated. It's never going to be in a magazine of show homes or be pinned a bazillion times on pinterest, but it's the only one like it, and it's the only one that has our family's photos since our family began. The only one that has ornaments from Emma's first Christmas at Disneyland and Evan's first ride on the Christmas Train. The only one that has the sweet ornament from Eli's memorial service, always hung on the highest bough.
The only one that has memories that warm my soul like a hot cuppa coffee on a snowy day.
Our tree.

The big coats have made their arrivals, and last years have made their way to the ever-growing donation boxes for someone else to snuggle inside of this winter.

Every year, I spend many hours sitting by our tree, reflecting on Christmases past, and writing out a new advent plan for the year. I take bits and pieces of advents from the past, and add some new. I love the way my kids grow in faith each year, and this is the one time during the year that I can really ensure that among the Santas and cookies and flying reindeer, there really is one reason for Christmas, and it has nothing to do with elves on shelves and how many presents are under the tree. 

So tonight, on the first Sunday of advent, we began to fill our souls with the story of Christmas.
They each had verses to look up and read...

...and the first candle was lit. The candle of HOPE. We talked about things we hope for and what people back then may have hoped for.

During dinner, Daddy read us a story that somewhat followed our verses of the evening, in a simpler way.
And then we began our advent project.
I gave the kids strips of paper and a marker. On each one, they wrote the name of a person or family that we love, or admire, or think of often, or a combination of them all.

And then, we stapled them all together in a chain.

The chain hangs over our dining nook, and every night until Christmas, we will say a special prayer at our dinner blessing for the name on the chain link of the day.

It was a countdown chain.
With a bigger purpose.

And so, advent has officially begun.

Have a happy week!
Our verses + songs for Sunday #1:
Luke 2:1-5 Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
Luke 2:6-7 Away in a Manger


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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dear Santa,

I have everything I ever need, everything I've ever wanted for.
All wrapped up in family, with a big red bow.

The kids, however...


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It's Ornament Time!!

I hope your Thanksgiving went well! As usual, ours started off before the sun rose, driving to the city for the annual Turkey Tracks run. 

Evan placed 2nd in his age division, John took 4th, and Emma 6th. Me? Oh, well...I did okay (cough cough) 28th (cough cough). ;)

The winter storm held off just long enough for us to race home and take warm showers and learn that the meal was at 12 and not 2 like I had made up in my head for some reason. But we all arrived in time and the day was perfect!
Enough food to break the seams on my jeggings and fill the fridge for turkey day leftovers for a week!
I made sure to clear my phone pics off so that I could properly capture the day in all its glory, but it stayed there, hooked to the computer the entire night at home, 20 minutes away from my dad's cabin, where we feasted. 
You'll just have to believe me that the food was beautiful, the table was aglow with candles, and my best friend from middle school on gave me the joy of joining us for the feast. 

Black Friday was an utter failure this year. We were 7 minutes late in the door, and the LEGO sets I had my heart on were already gone. While passing a couple rushing out with 3 of the bright colored boxes, I totally understood the pillaging and grabbing and trampling of people. I mean, did you really need those? Can I just (GRAB AND RUUUUUUNNNNN!!!)
But I didn't. I was well behaved and just settled with tearing up in the middle of the ladies thongs/hot dog cooker machine display like a little girl who was lost. It was magical. 

(and there was a pie incident the week before...that should go untold...but let's just say if the workers were going to help locate a box of legos, it wouldn't be for the lady that caused piegate 2015 last week...just sayin'...)

So we settled on a box of pyrex and headed home in the cold rain. 

A couple weeks ago, I decided that we were going to paint some more canvases- for the living room, this time. And this time, they were gonna be Christmas. And they were adorable. 

They hung perfectly with a couple other pieces of Christmas art from years past. It's going to be sad to put back that big splatter painting once the holidays are over...

Oh, Christmas Tree...

Our ornaments for the year have made their arrival!

for John - In remembrance of our trip to New York. Even though we never made to see Ms. Liberty, she was the first thing we saw on the plane descent into LaGuardia, a constant sight our drivers pointed out while driving around the boroughs, and the last view of the island as we flew home. A symbol of his knowing what was good for me, even when I didn't. A reminder that we can do things out of our comfort zones, as long as we have each other. 

for Emma - A mouth full of medal! She has wanted braces, glasses, and crutches for years now, and with our genetics, she'll probably end up with all three ;)  Here's to a new smile for 2016!

for Evan - A foam finger #1, the same number he chose for his first year of football. For 4 nights/days a week of footballing, for overcoming timidness, becoming stronger, and being part of a team. 

And, for me, a cute yellow taxi. The only thing I liked about New York besides the "chicken on rice" cart. (Not that I could ever ride in one after our trip to Chicago - my first and last taxi ride ever!) 
(Remember that, Barbara?!?)

Christmastime is here!
It is! It is!

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Brace Face!

Our kiddos are fortunate enough to get some great genetics from the hubby and I. Unfortunately, they also got a few not so great ones, one of which is our overbites. 
As a child who was teased growing up for looking like one of the Simpsons (and with the bad perms, probably Marge), I was fully in support of laying down a car payment every month for a couple years to get Emma's fixed. 

The day we went in, she was supposed to get her spacers. But, as the teeth Gods would have it, she hadn't grown in her adult teeth just yet, so he was able to just put them on a week early. An excited little girl was willing to forego the ceremonial last suppers of steak, gummy worms, popcorn, and gum in return for an early brace face, and so it was. 

Since the teeth themselves are pretty darn perfect, the top ones won't need to go on until much later. She has bottom braces and little tooth necklaces on a couple upper teeth that springs will eventually hook onto for jaw moving. Yikes. 
We're moving skull parts, here, people. 

But isn't she adorable?
Love you, little brace face.
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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Words of the week

A giggling teacher sent me this photo of Evan's sight word list for the week:

Perhaps we need to work on the word "sight" first....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
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Monday, November 16, 2015


Remember that frost that I was so anxious for? Well, you guys must have been praying with me, because it came pretty quick. BUT, I guess we should've asked for a freeze, because that frost didn't quite do the trick. Evan has been feeling better, though. He hasn't been in Darth Vader mode with his nebulizer machine for a few days, so we're gonna go ahead and chalk that up to a big Hallelujah!! 

We don't go watch a lot of movies, but when we do, it's usually opening day and we arrive an hour early and loiter around just to be sure we get good seats all together. I suppose it could be leftover from our life in Cali, when it happened more often than not that we were sitting on the dirty steps of the theater just to be together. (And that was still after arriving uber early!) 
The Peanuts movie was adorable. 
Now, not to let you down, your crybag blogger DID in fact tear up several times. I can't help it. When you're a little bit of a Charlie Brown, you sympathize with the Charlie Browniest and all the things that go along with it. 

This was the first Veteran's Day that my big brother couldn't make it to the assembly at school. Evan was pretty upset about it, so I decided to stay and watch with him anyway. 
One of the student teachers actually performed "An American Soldier" while playing his guitar and it had me tearing up like a crazy person. I'm pretty sure the people that didn't know me thought I must have lost a husband to the war or something. Embarassing. Geez. 
This year there were more military members up on the stage, but I also noticed that there were a couple that have been there every year that weren't anymore. :(
Either way, Evan wanted to take his annual photo by the flag, bearing his uncles' names. 
Happy Veteran's Day to all the military men, women, and families; but especially to the einsteins' uncles:
Joey - Army
Kurt - Air Force
Levi - Air Force

We salute you!

My handsome big brother!
 Hubby + I attended an 80's murder mystery party this past weekend. 
It was so much fun, and we really enjoyed it, even though we were pretty clueless to the murder. 

Are you laughing out loud?!?
I bought that dress off ebay. It's seams were ripped and the sleeves elastic had gone out sometime in the past three decades, but it was close to my size, and cheap enough. I had pinned it like a pro! I mean, when you run enough races, you have about 237695 safety pins all over the house, and I'm pretty sure I used just about all of them on this dress!
As I was telling my neighbor about it, she tisk-tisked at me and lovingly sewed it all back together again. 
And it fit like a glove. 
(Thank you, Ms Jana!!)
We rented John's suit coat at the local costume shop - it matched perfectly! Slap on a wig and a frilly shirt front, and we were ready to go!

Totally random event here, but yesterday, Evan was going to add a dash of pepper to the dinner simmering in the crock pot for me.
He had Emmett Lego help him out.
 He's adorable, if I do say so myself. 

I was filming a Christmas segment last week, which meant holiday decor was coming out early, much to hubby's dismay. (Meanwhile, I did the happy Snoopy dance)

So the house at 22 LEGObrick Drive changed from this... this...

Seasons change fast in the Lego world. 
And, speaking of which, I have already begun construction on the 2015 Christmas villages. Get ready!


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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Adios, October!

I'm a little sad, but kinda relieved October has come and gone. It's my favorite, but it's also the beginning of the uber fast paced end-of-the-year slide that we ride out until January. And October is that first bump that makes you get all wobbly in the belly, but once you've conquered that bump, the rest of them aren't so scary and you can slide down a-bumpin' and a screamin' and it's all good, ya know?
The kids put on their 2nd? 3rd? I lost track of costumes. But they were headed out to the chili cookoff & harvest carnival this night.  
 There's nothing like a god chili cook-off to get you ready for fall. I mean, seriously. We ate so much chili, they began to all become a blur and we voted for the ones we *thought* were the best, but who knows. I think one of us voted for the one with the cutest blonde, another one of us for the cornbread muffins that came with the sample, and by the time the two of us were chili'd out, Em & Dad were still wandering looking for the one they liked. (Was it that one? With the crockpot? Uhhhh...that's ALL of them....)
After our bellies were full, we wandered into the carnival and the kids played games and raked in the candy like leaves!

The next night was the night we paint the street that our football team walks to the stadium on. We were totally in a flash flood watch that evening, but it's Oklahoma, so who knew if it was really coming. Either way, we painted that street for a good hour or so! 

Can you guess what Em's favorite movie is? Totally my fault, I know. 
But still. 
Thursday morning was the start of fall break for my kiddos and we began the morning with breakfast outside! Footies unite!!

It was a big day, because this was the day we were heading a couple hours north to pick up two of the cousins for the homecoming weekend! They don't have school on Fridays where they live, so it worked out perfectly.
(And, NO FAIR! We want no school on Fridays, too!)

In typical Heidi form, we arrived really early. Like, a couple HOURS early.
So we drove around to a couple neighboring towns to see what we could see. 
And there wasn't much, but there were a lot of amazing abandoned buildings that were really cool! Unfortunately, the einsteins refused to let me go explore, so I was stuck with just photos. 

We got back home around dinner time, and the flash flood rains had began, but we ventured out anyway, because it was homecoming week!!
 We took the boys to Eskimo Joe's to eat. NOT my favorite food, but when in Rome...

 On our way home, we drove by Theta pond to preview the lights that we'd see later on. 
 Have you ever been to our homecoming walkaround? It's one of the biggest in the nation, and it's amazing and now that I don't have to ever pomp another piece of tissue paper in my life again, it's even more amazing!

The library fountain was orange, and the boys were amazed. 

 And then they realized that there were wide open spaces available and their boy genes came out, and I just sat at a safe distance. 
The faces in these photos.
That is all. 

 Heading back towards the car, we walked through Theta Pond and saw the ducks and lights. 


The next morning came early and we headed downtown to the homecoming parade. 

 Some favorite parade entries included the new BOB (Big orange bus) with Pistol pete's mustache...
 Polka dot ponies...
 The cars that look like Mr. Gary's...
 This hummer with the giant gun on top...
(remember, we had lots of boys...)
 The push-up squad...
 ...and this guy's sign. 
 After the parade (and the accident heard round the world), we tried to lighten the mood at the tailgate with some paddling.
and lots and lots of food.  
 The "Walk" was held silently this time, in honor of the injured and deceased that were still being tended to just blocks away. The flash floods had faded the paintings quite a bit, but we still saw all our notes there in front of the tailgate. :)

 It was strange to be at the most rowdy part of game day and it be so quiet and somber. 

We headed off to the stadium to get our faces painted and play some games. 

And then it was time to head in for the game of the year!

 The cousins took Emma & my tickets, because boys need to all be together when free food and candy is available, obviously, so a friend offered us their tickets, which worked out well! We had a perfect view of the flag that had just been lowered to half mast.
 And when the planes flew overhead, they went RIGHT over OUR heads. Like, almost peed in my pants close.
It was a good game, and we won!
And the next morning, the cousins headed back home.
(Can you tell they're related?!)

The next week was Halloween week! This is my favorite week of the fall and I make Halloween lunches for the einsteins every day, which was a little more challenging since I was teaching that week, too, but it just made for reallllllly early mornings!

 Our city has a downtown Halloweenfest, and we pulled out our wrestling costumes for the big night!
Seth Rollins (who doesn't smile, because he's totally tough)

Daniel Bryan
(yes! yes! yes!)
 Becky Lynch
 ...and Daniel Bryan's wife, Brie Bella. 
 More lunch...
 Our Halloween porch...can you tell we have a tree-lined driveway?

 Friday was class party day - Evan's was at 9:00AM. I have NO idea who thought that was a good idea, but I bet it wasn't the teachers who had sugared up kids all day! ;)

We were the "fresh fruit" family
 It was also "dress as a book character day", so of course Evan went as my favorite little wizard. I was Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games. 

 And after school was the Halloween party at hubby's office. The kiddos each get to bring a friend. 

 And right after the overload of candy there, we headed to Grandad's cabin for the annual Halloween Grandparent party!
I think I had sticky whatnot all over my iphone lens, so you'll have to bear with the fuzzy pics :(

 This Halloween was a bit different than the years past. It was a Saturday, which was AWESOME, but we had a football game in Broken Arrow that morning.
 We put together costumes for the evening...
 Even Buckbeak was dressed up as a turtlesaurus.
(Look at that roar!)

 But Emma wasn't going to be with us this year. She was going to a party instead, which was sad for Evan...and the neighbor kids. 
 So, we headed out to the middle of nowhere to a friend's casino that was putting on a HUGE halloween carnival. They had a mini train driving people from the parking lot to the carnival, where we got free t-shirts and headed in. 
The awesome photo of the train ride in.
 It was actually pretty amazing. Free rides, free dinner, free games & prizes, free cotton candy & snocones...

 We played laser tag, bungee jumped, and they even had a zipline! All free! It was amazing! I kept asking them "Is this really free?" 
Casinos rock. 

 The funniest thing was when we saw Seth Rollins' instagram page and noticed he had also dressed as Mario for Halloween, just like his (little) biggest fan. 
LOVE it. 
 (Who wore it better??)

The day after Halloween, the formal dining table moved out and construction began on the 2015 Lego Christmas world. It's so funny, I think there are some of you out there that look forward to this more than my own kids!

And we celebrated an Americanized version of Dia de los Muertos

Emma's cookies

Momma's cookies

The whole collection
Eli got a special cookie this year. <3 p="">

Monday was the 50th day of school, and the kiddos were supposed to dress in 50's clothes. 
"Danny" & his teacher, "Sandy"
 And then there's yesterday, which began the albuterol treatments :(
 Buckbeak seemed to feel the same way. 
 Which leads us up to today, with little man home.
And just like I said, we went out for drive thru lunch, and picnicked at daddy's office. 
Pajamas, no makeup or brushed hair, Dobby in tow. 
We're awesome. 

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