Saturday, December 28, 2013 stop moping about not being able to travel for the holidays...

...and take the kids snow tubing

In this winter wonderland that we are stuck in.


When in as the Romans.

Blazing the trails...

Audrey is bravely standing in her tube

Will and his friend kept trying to stand while they were tubing down the hill.

Some were tired...

But these two didn't want to leave...

They begged me to keep going until finally I was saved by the darkness (and the closure of the hill).

I never would have guessed we would do this activity for nearly 2 1/2 hours.  It was so much fun to get outside.  It wasn't very cold.  There were no lines.  The staff was very friendly.

I think the day was a perfect success.

Friday, December 27, 2013 stay or to leave

...making choices is so hard.

We are still here in upstate New York over the Christmas season.  Alone.

Stuck.  For many different reasons.

Ice First.  Illness and Snow second.  Unexpected snow and traffic issues were the final straw.

Then I gave up.  Going home for holidays was not what we were meant to do this holiday season.  I am not gonna lie, I have and do feel sorry for the kids for myself.  This was not our plan.

Our families are in Michigan.  Our Fort Drum friends are traveling.  And Mark is in Afghanistan.  And here were are in New York alone.  We weren't supposed to be here.

We enjoyed being Face Time guests at the Christmas parties we were supposed to attend.  The phone calls and texts we received were comforting.  The parties seemed festive and...the pictures were fun to see.

But we were supposed to have been part of all of that.  In person.

Sometimes, the stars don't align the way we think they are supposed to.

And other times we have to embrace the situation we are put in.

I am making the tough choice to embrace the quiet time the five of us have been given.  We'll watch movies, bake cookies and play in the snow.  I'll take the time to play video games with the big kids, color with the little girls, and perhaps we'll play board games as a family.

Sounds delightful.

I'll let you know how my Norman Rockwell vision of our 15 days of stranded-in-the-snow-togetherness-time goes.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 say Merry Christmas all of our family and friends...

From my cold CrowCrew here in the Great White North…

Christmas Day 2013

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 wish my beautiful daughter

...a very Happy 11th Birthday.

You are intelligent, dedicated, strong, thoughtful, creative, talented, funny, spontaneous, considerate, musical, and wise.

Your Dad and I are lucky to be your parents.

He wishes he were here to celebrate your day with you in person, but FaceTime is/was the next best thing.

Happy 11 years sweetheart.

We love you so.

Monday, December 23, 2013 finish packing

...and head out on our way

But alas...the travel Gods were still not in our favor.

While the forecast for today held only a 20% chance of rain we awoke to sleet, which then changed to flurries, which finally changed to two inches on snow on top of all the ice that we had been getting.

In addition to our weather woes, Abbey wasn't feeling any better.

As a family, we decided to forego our trip until after Christmas.

There were a lot of tears.

But the kids all comforted me and promised me we could leave for Michigan in a few days.

So...we did what we have done the past several days:  We made the best of being home and being together.

Our advent activities for the day were making homemade pretzels and working on a puzzle together.  I am not sure either of these activities received rave reviews from the peanut gallery but the point is that we were doing things together.

I found the recipe here.  The dough was surprisingly easy to work with and they were pretty delicious.

The puzzle project went pretty well.  Meaning I did a pretty good job on it.  Maybe we'll finished it tomorrow in time for Christmas?

While we did our best to not-feel-sorry-for-ourselves today two special deliveries were made to our home today that reinforced the notion of how loved we are.

I may have mentioned before that the mail to Afghanistan has been less-than-reliable.  In the first care package I sent Mark after he left, I sent him a recordable storybook.  That package took many, many weeks to get to him.  He returned it as quickly as he could and that returned package finally arrived this morning.

They couldn't wait for Daddy to read them the story of Rudolph.

And this afternoon while I was resting with Abbey a most-very-special-delivery was made.  It's special for so many reasons.... 

Amy knew I was so sad about not being able to go home.  So sad about being alone.  And so sad about not having a tree.  And Donnie, well, he must have known just who to call because just an hour or two after our conversation, this beauty was standing in my living room courtesy of very kind man named, SGT Grady.

I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

It was such a kind gesture.

The kids loved decorating it.  Just the way they wanted.  Fiesta lights and all!

It's the most favorite tree I have ever had.

"Now Santa will really know where to find us," said Audrey.

He sure will honey.

He sure will.

Sunday, December 22, 2013 go to Michigan

...but Mother Nature has had other plans for our family...

The weather is awful.  The freezing rain and ice have continued all weekend.

We have inches of ice in our driveway that the shovels and ice melt didn't even put a dent in this afternoon.

see my neighbor across the street...she worked on that mess for hours and barely put a dent in that glacier!

We have tried to make the best of our situation.

The kids have watched many movies and we have seen Home Alone more times than I can count.

We have read stories and played Little People.

We played outside and have slipped on the ice...

 jumped on the ice...

lugged the ice...

Can you tell how thick that ice is?
and eaten the ice...

We've made hot chocolate and taken naps.

Most importantly we have stayed warm and cozy and safe indoors.

I wish we could be home with our families celebrating the holidays...

And I hope that tomorrow is the day we are able to travel.

But if we can't, we'll continue enjoying our time here together.

Friday, December 20, 2013 be home for Christmas.

...but (sigh) we aren't.

The weather all the way from Michigan to here in New York is terrible.  Rain, ice, freezing rain.  The temperatures are hovering at 32 degrees.

I wanted to go.  I wanted to get there for our annual family gathering (that we haven't been able to attend in years).  But I made the right decision.

At the very least, the drive would have been awful.

My poor, poor kids.

Not only did they think they were traveling home this morning to begin their two-week pahr-tay and gift-a-palooza however, I surprised them with a trip to...<gulp> school.

Promptly...three hours later they were sent home due to the terrible weather we were having.  Thus, confirming my decision for us to stay put here in New York.

Frankly, the afternoon turned out to be delightful.  Movies, video games, coloring, and reading stories by the fire.

In the late afternoon I remembered I had left my van outside in the drive and decided to go out and move it into the garage.

I couldn't.

Look closely at the picture: 

Notice my van at the end of the drive?  Notice how it is extremely crooked in the driveway?  Yup.  It's stuck there.  There's about an inch of ice on our drive.  That baby isn't moving.

So...instead of being upset about the situation I went and got the kids...

and we went skating in  the driveway.




The forecast isn't looking too great for us to travel for another two days or so, and while the kids are very sad about that, their next question was, "Well, can we slip and slide in our driveway again in the morning then?"

Monday, December 16, 2013 attend the little girls' recital

So sweet they were...

They were so excited to get all fancied up!

Abbey seemed a bit nervous as she watched the big girls dance...

Audrey loved watching the big girls dance!

And we arrived just in time to watch this beautiful young lady dance her routines!

These handsome boys came to the event to support my girls...

And Paddy gave Audrey flowers when she finished dancing.  This sweet gesture made me cry...

The dancing was also sweet...

And to top off their evening they even got to see Santa and Mrs. Claus.  Sweet...

Such a sweet evening...watching the girls together.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 attend the kids

...annual Christmas concert

Because they got all dressed up in the holiday finery I decided it would be fun to do a quick photo shoot before we left...

Isabella and her classmates started off the festivities with two songs...

Will had a small speaking part...

And Abigail was so proud to be part of the show...

Here is a very short video of one of the last songs...

(Don't fault the videographer.  The camera had a hard time focusing from so far away.)

After the concert, the moment we got into the van this evening Audrey said (very loudly), "What was our family Advent activity today?  It surely wasn't that concert was it!?!"

I'm afraid so sweetie.

Apparently sitting through an evening of song and dance isn't a four-year-old's idea of fun.