Christmas Tree Skirt – handprints

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is one that is fairly unique to my family. I’m sure other people do these, but I haven’t seen any.

Back in 2000, when Kieran was 1 year old we bought a cheap tree skirt. I say cheap because it was literally the cheapest one we could find, and even then it was a stretch for our meager budget to purchase it. I wanted to make it look nicer and thought if we put our hand prints on it it might spruce it up. So we took some fabric paint and did just that. My only regret is that the original skirt is cheap felt. It wasn’t the best fabric for what would become my family treasure.

That first year it was just Jason, me, and little Kieran. So Jason and I did our hand prints too. By the second year Katarina had joined us. We did her feet prints because she was only a few weeks old. Every year we have added our children’s handprints (except when they are too little then it’s foot prints – even Karyssa who joined us on Dec 26 at 12:15am has her foot prints).

I added another layer a few years ago when we ran out of room. And I see that this year we filled up that extra layer. So, sometime after Christmas I will sew a new layer to the bottom so it’s ready for next year.

This is a silly idea I had many, many years ago. But it has turned into literally one of my greatest treasures. I absolutely LOVE being able to look at all my kids’ hand prints and how they’ve grown! And they love comparing their hands to their siblings and seeing how much they’ve grown each year. This tree skirt ranks right up there with my photo albums in terms of significance to me.

tree-skirt

I will keep this treasure, and use it every Christmas until I die! And who knows, but one day I may be privileged to be able to add my grandkids hand prints to this tree skirt…

Random Acts of Kindness – Pre Day 1

The Komar Klan starts our 25 days of Random Acts of Kindness officially tomorrow. However, we have been planning and discussing it all week.

I took 4 of my kids with me on a “quick” costco run. Of course they are all about the samples. I really strongly “encourage” them to say “thank you” when they get a sample. Being a Saturday the place is especially busy and the sample people just can’t keep up.

My middle daughter took a sample and immediately said “thank you”. The lady pulled her aside after she asked to take samples to her little brother and sister in the cart, and she said “Did you know you are the first person to say “thank you” all day.” It was 1:45pm. I was shocked.

My daughter, not to be outdone, then said “Well then Merry Christmas and Happy New year too!”. Then we moved on to another sample station. You see our shopping trip is dictated by two things in Costco. The first is my list and the second is the sample stations the kids spy. As we stopped at the cheesecake station the lady was an older lady who had some serious hand trembling. It made it extremely difficult for her to serve at any speed. My daughter saw her hand trembling and kindly offered to help her. Of course she couldn’t allow her to, but she was clearly touched. I told her we weren’t in any hurry. And since I had 4 of my kids with me, we stood at the front of the line chatting with her while she was able to refill her tray. She explained that she had previously been on extreme medications for her tremors and unable to work. But by working here as a sample lady she had been able to gain some control and stop her medications. She said that her tremors were bad now when she was anxious or nervous. As she told me this I saw a line forming for the samples, and I guided my children to stand so as to block anyone grabbing from her tray as she refilled it. When she was done we took our samples and left. She thanked me for listening and waiting.

My daughter then ran to the next sample station. Here one of the previous gals had moved. My daughter asked her if she got to eat samples too. When she said not usually, because you couldn’t just leave your station to get a different sample I could see her brain thinking. She looked at me and asked me if she could go get a cheesecake sample for this sample lady. I told her to ask her if she wanted one and if so yes. So off my daughter went.

This turned into a mad run from station to station taking orders and delivering them. I was so proud of her and her big brother. They did such a little thing and made about 12 sample employees smile.

Finally we were in line. My daughter asked the lady in front of us if she could please help her unload her shopping cart. The lady was unsure of what to say or do. Then she graciously said “sure”. She showed my daughter how she was keeping her frozen, refrigerated, and other items a bit sorted. So my daughter followed suit. She thanked my daughter, which just made her smile and want to help even more.

When she finished paying I noticed she had 2 carts full. I offered to help her by pushing one of her carts. I handed my child money for a pizza in the front and told another child to take the cart and find a table. Keilan and I pushed her cart to her vehicle. She was blown away. It was such a simple thing. But it clearly made a difference to her. She thanked me for raising such good kids. (I was just glad they were being good at that moment! LOL!)

Nothing that we did cost us any money, but it definitely made a number of people smile, and maybe even helped them to have a better day.

My hope is that by the end of our 25 day “challenge”, which starts tomorrow, this will have become a habit of kindness that will far extend past Christmas day!

Katarina’s Party

For her birthday party Katarina wanted a sleep over. And she wanted rock climbing and swimming. We finally settled on 4 girls sleeping over and another 4 invited the next evening to Cardel Place for 3 hours divided between the library, swimming, and wall climbing.

For her sleep over they watched a DVD and then just did girl stuff. We ordered pizza for dinner. They stayed up being silly until 2:30 am.

They spent friday hanging out, decorating cupcakes and painting ornaments.

Then we picked up a child, and shoes for rock climbing from another child’s home. Finally we arrived at Cardel Place. The girls then met up with 3 others girls. Bringing our number to 7 plus my other 3 kids and Katarina.

At Cardel my family has passes, and they only charged me $26 for 7 girls. The girls spent an hour at the library, an hour at the climbing wall and bouldering wall, and an hour swimming. With 2 cupcake breaks. This is SO not how I would have scheduled it, but they loved it this way!

It was a VERY long party with the sleep over attached. However, it was SO easy. The girls entertained themselves and I had no planning or anything. Katarina handled the entire thing.

Some girls arrived home from school at 4pm Thurs and the final girl was dropped at her home at 9:25pm Friday. Part of that was I got talking to 2 mom’s I had just met. We had a great chat. What lovely ladies!

As the kids get older their parties are getting cheaper, simpler, and easier for me! They are planning more, and I am planning less. Just the way I like it! And just the way they like it!

This party was WAY under budget, but the girls all had a good time! So, I had a good time too! And for the first time ever I didn’t do goody bags. Only one of MY children even asked about them!

The interesting thing was every girl brought their own money to pay to swim. I thought that was weird, but apparently sometimes they’ve gone to parties where they had to pay their own way to swim. I still find that odd. So, they were so happy when I paid, they used their money to buy Jugo Juice afterwards!

It was a good party and Katarina planned it well and invited some terrific young ladies. She really has wonderful friends!

Christmas Traditions – helping remind us of the True meaning of Christmas

I have spent every Christmas season teaching my children what I have learned is the reason behind our traditional decorations and “stuff”.

Did you know that candy canes were a special christmas treat in the shape of a shepherd’s staff to remind children that Jesus is our shepherd. It was also the shape of a “J” for Jesus. And the white and red stripes were no mistake, they were to remind us of the purity of Jesus and the blood (His life) he sacrificed by dieing on the cross.

Christmas Trees came from a pagan tradition in Germany worshiping the god Thor. St Benedict used this symbol to turn it into a reminder that Jesus brings us eternal life (evergreen trees are always green), and they are an arrow pointing us to look at heaven. He even used the triangle of the shape of the tree to teach the people about the trinity. (They hung their trees upside down from their rafters)

Candles in the tree was a way to remind people of the star that led the wise men to Jesus.

Colored lights on the tree reminded people of different things for different colors. Purple – Jesus was a king; red – he died for us; green – his death gave us new life; white – is for purity, and yellow – is for Jesus is king or the star of bethlehem, and so on. The best part is I let my kids tell me what each color reminds them of in the christmas story. It changes all the time, but it makes them look at christmas lights from a christ birth way.

The star on the tree top is easy. It reminds us of the star that guided the wise men to Jesus.

The angel on the tree top reminds us of the angels who announced the birth of the christ child.

Christmas gifts are also easy. They remind us of the 3 gifts the wise men brought Jesus.

Just look at the decorations around you and use the moment to lead the conversation back to the birth of Jesus.

Katarina

My little girl, well she just isn’t little anymore. Today she turns 12. It is so hard to believe that she was born on this Thanksgiving day 12 years ago. I am happy that her birthday once again falls on Thanksgiving. I am indeed incredibly thankful for her.

She is a brilliant young lady. She got her report card the other day and all but 3 marks were in the 90%’s. And one of those 3 was PE. The other 2 were in the 80%’s. She may be bright, but she also has a sweet and caring disposition. She is a fantastic teacher. She is very patient, far more patient than I am.

Of course she has her faults and the things she is working on, but she is the apple of my eye and I am incredibly proud of her! She is a self starter and when she wants something she just goes for it! She can do anything she puts her heart and mind to.

I do not often sing her praises and brag her up on here. I don’t like it when people compare other people and everyone is valuable regardless of their set of gifts. I never want to praise one person at the expense of another.

However, she is pretty spectacular! She is a phenomenal pianist. She just has a gift. She can hear a piece of music and then figure out how to play it. She has started playing drums this year in band and her teacher says she’s great. And she doesn’t even give me a headache with her practicing.

I am so glad that she is my daughter. She teaches me new things all the time!

My Dear Sweet Katarina,
Today is your day, so I will openly praise you! And I won’t even worry about it going to your pretty head!

You know I always tell you that I’m more concerned with attitude and heart than marks. But frankly sweetie you have both! I’m so incredibly proud of the well rounded young lady you are growing into! Keep looking for ways to help others, and to be kind. Those are life skills that will serve you well your entire life. Keep dreaming big and reach for the stars! You can do anything you put your heart and mind to! One day I believe I will have the immense pleasure of reading a book you have written. You are smart enough, gifted enough, and I believe you have the heart to do it!

Whatever you do, wherever you go, I will always be here. I will be cheering you on and supporting you in your dreams!

I love you!

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!