Saturday, December 26, 2009

How does one forget...

such significant details from such a wonderful Christmas? Somehow, in my Christmas recount, I missed some details.

#1 Christmas morning, after presents were opened and while we were working on our Lincoln Log nativities, my visiting teaching companion dropped by with a bag full of warm scones that she had just made. They were wonderful!!! Imagine, soft warm pillows of pastry filled with dried cherries, orange zest and white chocolate chips. YES!!! they were delicious. Did I mention my friend is a trained pastry chef :)

#2 Connor stayed up for a few minutes after the girls went to be on Christmas eve. All he wanted to do was turn off all the overhead lights and read by the light of the Christmas tree. It was very cool to see him lounging on the glider with his book just reading away. Our camera kept using the flash since it was so dark so this picture does not really show the scene we saw.

#3 Al was helping the girls put batteries into their new My Little Pony remote control bikes when he posed for a fun picture taken by his sister, Emily. Normally, Al would say something like, "And this better not find its way onto your blog!" But he didn't say that this time so I think that means he won't mind it being here. SHHHHHHH Don't laugh too loud or he might hear you and ask (read: demand) I take it down.

#4 Here is a picture of the general Christmas chaos that happens each year when the gift opening begins. I was trying to hold Chase, because he obviously couldn't be on the floor in all this mess, help the girls get their presents into their gift bag and get through all the crazy packaging they put on toys these days. Chaos, I tell you!

For Mamaw and Papaw

This is mostly for my parents as we weren't able to be with them for Christmas.

Isaberl and her princess castle

Lillee and her new Barbie Rapunzel and Three Musketeer Prince (we think his name is Louis).

Connor opening his new remote control helicopter...he was so excited!

Chase and his new ball popper....this was actually a hit for everyone.

Thanks for the fun presents, Mamaw & Papaw. You chose well!

Christmas eve in front of the tree

Last year we had a new baby and I remember being so sick and tired on Christmas eve and grateful that the house was finally quiet after all the family activity. We dressed the kids for bed and snagged a quick picture in front of the tree. We were so pleased seeing all 4 kids together in such a nice picture (you can see that picture here).

Here is our picture from this year:

Excuse the demonic eyes until I can figure out how to fix them (I have a new laptop and I don't have all my normal software loaded).

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Really Awesome Christmas

We had such a nice Christmas this year. Even being in the lean years we were blessed with gifts that were just right for the kids and for our budget!
Here are some of the highlights:

Connor was the first one up, which NEVER happens. He was up at 5:30am, which NEVER, EVER happens. First thing he did was organize all the presents into piles by name. He was ready to begin and no one was out of bed yet.

Lillee had gotten sick at midnight on Christmas Eve. She ended up in the shower in the middle of the night and this was the result of going to bed with wet hair.

She was pleased with all she received.

Isabel received a castle which transforms its decorations from casual comfy to fancy dinner with the switch of a button. The rug flips up and becomes a table set with a fine feast. So as the girls were pretend playing on Christmas morning, Isabel was explaining that this table is where we say our prayers. Both girls knelt, bowed heads and Lillee said a prayer. Al and I were so happy to hear the girls praying as part of their play!

Isabel was overjoyed with everything she received. She had been asking for a big girl bike and was beyond happy when she got it. The only sad part was she was not able to go out and ride due to the weather. She tried to ride around the house, but that proved difficult with so many people around.

At one point when we had 12 kids and 9 adults in the house, everyone broke out in laughter---I can't even remember what we were laughing about---but Connor chimed in, "And the crowd goes wild." He then grinned and waited for someone to mention his funny comment.

After presents were open and the kids had played for awhile they were bored. So I pulled out the Lincoln Logs and the wooden train boxes and we made nativity scenes. They turned out soooo cute! I was really proud of the kids. After so much discussion about Jesus' birth, I was pleased to see how much detail the kids remembered.

Mine is on the left, Lillee is in the middle, and Connor on the right. Lillee added a Christmas tree and star that she colored and cut out. Connor used Lincoln logs to make his star (on top of the chimney) and 3 lincoln logs inside to represent Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

Here is the inside of Lillee's, there is a baby Jesus that she drew and a train person as Mary.

Then we waited for the cousins to arrive...and waited...and waited. The kids felt like they were waiting a lifetime when in fact it was only about 1.5 hours.

Lillee was beside herself with happiness as her favorite people were all at her house. She loves playing with Max and Alice and to have both playing with her at the same time was perfect.

Even with a houseful of people, we had an enjoyable Christmas; all the kids got along, no one's new toy was broken, no permanent stains on anything and the food was good (thanks Emily)!
Isabel must have told me 100 times throughout the day that she loved me...that's how I really knew that it was a really awesome Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

It's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be snow
But have a cup of cheer...
...Oh by golly
Have a holly
Jolly Christmas
This year!

We've enjoyed baking and serving on these days leading up to Christmas and even though we missed a couple days of giving (like on Lillee's birthday) there were days we delivered to 4 families in a night. Our list is impressive---well to us it is impressive---and we're glad to have had the opportunity to serve others and have our list to remind us of all our good works.

We have also focused a lot on the birth of Jesus and the importance of the reason for the season. We've spent weeks reading and rereading Luke 2, talking about the nativity and what it must have really been like for Mary, Joseph, Jesus and all who became aware of his see an angel and hear be told not to fear but rejoice in the birth of the babe who can save us all from our sins. We've given much this month, but we have received so much more. Our home has been blessed, our hearts have been filled and we've had angels watching over us.

Our stockings are hung, we are waiting for Al's brother and family to arrive, I'm baking my last batch of cookies, we have a Christmas party to attend tonight then the kids go to bed for Santa to make his big appearance! Oh, before Santa arrives we still have to wrap our presents, we've not wrapped anything! This should be a fun and frantic remainder of a day. Fortunately, Chase and Bel are sleeping as I type!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let it snow-well, on second thought...

I think we've had enough! It snowed, and it snowed and it snowed---we hit 20 inches, officially. Which is a lot of snow for this area of the country. We had fun playing in it, we couldn't keep up with the shoveling at the speed it was coming down. Even though we spent hours clearing on Saturday, we still have a lot to shovel today.

This is the most snow I've ever seen. Growing up in NC we were lucky to have a few inches at a time. When Connor was a baby we had a 17 inch snowstorm but this one was a bit bigger.

Here are some pictures of our winter wonderland:

We're dog sitting for a Norwegian Elkhound puppy...this is his kind of weather!

The snow drifts were over 3 feet high. This is the side of our house and you can't distinguish any depth difference from the sidewalk to the fence.

Our street and front porch.

Here is my van across the street from our house. It's a good thing Al left the wiperblades up so we could find it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Boogie Woogie Chase

Here was a little fun time for the boys on a Sunday afternoon. Chase adores Connor and loves when Connor plays with him. I must say, Connor is an awesome big brother and truly enjoys being with Chase, too.

Making Music with Friends

Connor and I had a chance to go to a fun concert at the Kennedy Center called Making Music with Friends. This particular concert was with a string quartet so we learned a lot about the violin, viola and cello, listened to some fun classical music, helped compose a musical piece and even had a chance to play the instruments.

Connor found he really likes the cello.

Christmas decorating

We decided to get a Christmas tree on Lillee's birthday and after the birthday festivities we started decorating the Christmas tree. You can compare how the kids have grown by looking at my blog post about decorating the tree from last year

Lillee adds the first ornament, an angel.

Connor and Lillee worked hard on decorating the tree. Isabel enjoyed that Lillee was not playing with Strawberry Shortcake and decided it would be more fun to play with the new toy than to decorate the tree.

Isabel did come over to put the star on, though.

We had to give both girls a chance to put the star on so Bel went first then we took it off and repeated with Lillee.

Even Chase jumped in there....

Wait, he's not decorating that tree he's undecorating it!

These are the ornaments that Chase captured and scattered across the floor.

After we finished decorating Chase started undecorating, again.

And after the older kids went to bed, Chase raided the tree again and decided he was ready for bed. If you look close, there is a gingerbread boy at his foot and a candy cane in his hand. What a sweet way to fall asleep :)

Lillee's Birthday Pictures

Sorry it's taken me 4 days to get the pictures unloaded then uploaded. But here they are for your enjoyment!

This is cake #2. Cake #1 was from scratch using a recipe I'd used before, but for some reason it didn't work out this time. So Al charged off to the store and came back with funfetti cake and icing and sparkly pink sprinkles. He even baked the cake :)
Everyone enjoying the funfetti cake.

Connor and Isabel did a good job staying back and letting Lillee open her presents but you can see the intense interest they had in her opening them.

Grandma got her lots of activity, coloring and reading books. She kept shuffling them to the side to get at the next one.

I made this hat for Lillee, it turned out pretty cute.

This was the scene for the next 3 days; the kids really liked the Strawberry Shortcake Berry Cafe. There was a lot of whining from Isabel in the beginning, she wanted to play but Lillee just wanted to explore it herself.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Have you ever...

taken a 6 year old boy to The Nutcracker? Let me make a suggestion.


Jane took 5 of her grand kids and I to see The Nutcracker at a local theatre. Now keep in mind, this is not the New York City Ballet by any means...far, far, FAR from it. The adult male performers were well into their senior years with the exception of one man who had a young family so probably in his 30's.

The first Act wasn't so bad, it went quick, the kids were still fresh and after the 1st act there was a 20 minute intermission so we were able to go to the foyer to get snacks. This entertained the kids enough to get us into the 2nd act. However, by the end of the 2nd act, Connor was disappointed to learn that the entire show was ballet...the entire show! He was miserable. We did not go out for the 2nd intermission so for 20 minutes we listened to Connor moan and groan about how much he hated ballet, how miserable he was. 20 minutes, I tell you! Not one second short of 20 minutes!

At the end of the 3rd act I suggested that we had one more intermission and one more act and was he ready for more ballet. He screwed up his faced, then raised his eyes and screamed, "WHAT?" We all got a good chuckle at Connor's expense and exited the theatre with him in a somewhat better mood.

Isabel did a good job sitting still and enjoying the show. She would get excited and call from her seat, "Look, look!" Lillee loved it and being a normal 5 year old girl, talked through the entire thing.

The day was pretty hectic as Al was suppose to watch the baby so I could go with the 3 older kids but he had a call to work. Which was a blessing as work has been slow this time of year so he had to take it. But that left me with less than 24 hours to find a babysitter on Saturday afternoon. As a last resort, Jane offered Ron the option to take my ticket or watch the baby and he responded, "That's an easy decision, I'll watch the baby." HA! I think Ron and Connor have similar feelings about ballet.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Beanie!

Lillee bean turned 5 today, WOW! That was a hard oen for me...well, not hard, but interesting. Yet another reminder that the days are passing faster and I'm getting older.

Lillee had a great birthday, she was patient all day as she waited for me to bake and decorate her cake and for Grandma and Grampy to get home to open presents. She was awesome! I love 5 year olds....this was a great age for Connor, as well.

I do have some great pictures but haven't uploaded them yet. I'll post them as soon as I can.

We decided it was a good day to put up a Christmas tree, too. It was a very busy night at our house, but lots of fun!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why is it....

that a child can find a pair of safety scissors and find a way to cut their hair with the dullest blades around, but when you're a parent wanting to cut your child's hair you can't find a pair of scissors that will do the job?

Isabel recently butchered her hair with safety scissors and this picture doesn't show it so well, but she has some really short patches there on the left.

Yesterday I tried cutting Chase's hair with a large pair of the sharpest scissors we own and I couldn't get them to cut his super-fine, soft locks. Eventually I gave him a decent cut that could still use some shaping, but he would not sit still any longer and I've not felt the need to try again. He looks older now.

Here are some pictures of Chase and Connor

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Service with a smile, Part II

(OK our cookies weren't this cute, but I needed a visual!)

Our 1st day of service went well. We actually delivered sugar cookies to two people!

Connor was actually listening in sacrament a few weeks ago when one of the young men gave a talk. I don't know what struck Connor, but since that talk he's been very impressed with the boy. Connor sort of follows him around at church. Fortunately, the kid is really nice and tolerates the adoration well. When I asked Connor who he wanted to do a service for his first response was, "Anthony." So we packaged up some cookies and drove out to Anthony's house to deliver them.

Connor was so stinkin' cute! In complete Tigger style, he bounced to the front door with cookies and a handmade card and rang the doorbell. I could see his face beaming from excitement. Anthony answered the door and Connor presented his gift. He chatted with Anthony for a minute and then said goodbye. He nearly ran into the bushes when he bolted back to the car with the biggest grin!

I think Connor gets it! He felt the true joy in doing something nice for someone else without having a reason for doing. Our scripture study last night was about the Good Samaritan and how we should be good to our neighbors, even when we feel busy or feel we have nothing to offer.

Today we're baking cinnamon rolls!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Service with a smile

I'm trying to teach the kids about service. Especially serving one another in our own home to try to cut back on some of the arguing. I feel like I spend the entire day stopping arguments, yelling for them to stop bickering and just getting frustrated and arguing myself. Everyone being sick for so long hasn't helped...I have less patience and understanding when I'm not feeling well and tired all the time. So anyway, we decided that December would be a month of service.

We have a warm fuzzy jar that the kids try to fill each day. This is to get them thinking of ways to help and be kind to others. They did great job the first couple of weeks. Then my sister-in-law and her family moved in for 2 weeks and her 1 year old loved to eat the warm fuzzies so we put them away, then we were out of town for Thanksgiving and we've just had a hard time getting back on track. So basically, each kid has a certain color of warm fuzzy and when you they do something nice (share a toy, say 'yes' instead of 'no' to a sibling's request, let the dog out, play with the baby, put away laundry) then they can put a warm fuzzy in the jar. At the end of the day if the jar is full then they get to do something they all can agree on (so far, they've requested to go to 7-11 to get candy nearly every night). We tally the daily warm fuzzies and whoever has the most at the end of the week gets a special prize (one week it was a really cool Lego flat bed truck and trailer).

Another thing we're doing is a service for someone outside of our house each day. Today was our planning day. We made a list of people we want to do things for and some special little decorations to add to a plate of cookies or a loaf of bread. We had to have this preparation day because I can usually only handle one project a day. So if we make a loaf of bread then there is no cutesie decoration going with it, just plain bread. We cut Christmas shapes out of felt and added jewels and furry stuff to dress them up a bit.

Today we're going to make sugar cookies for a person on our list.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Life in Portrait

We took a field trip to The National Portrait Gallery on Tuesday for a homeschool event. The day started out rushed, of course. I had to get everyone up, fed, dressed, then go to the grocery before I could pack lunch before we could get on the metro at 9:30am. When I returned from the grocery the kids were playing outside, enjoying the fall leaves and cool weather.

Around 9:30 when we were scheduled to leave, Lillee informed me her tummy hurt. I thought it was about snack time and she was just hungry or needed to go potty. So I sent her to the restroom, grabbed our snacks and lunch and headed out the door for the metro. Her tummy did not get to feeling better. Once we were on the metro she was moaning, rolling around and looking quite pale.

We had to hop off the train and wait for the next train to come along just to give her tummy a little break. She was such a trooper. We arrived at the portrait gallery, had our picnic lunch and waited for the doors to open. Lillee was still feeling bad. She did enjoy seeing some other kids waiting to get in and being Lillee, decided to go over and make friends with some older girls. When the girls' mother wanted to take a picture of them Lillee wouldn't move out of the shot. She just sat there with a long face and tried to blend into the group. 5 years from now they'll look at their picture and wonder, "Who was that young girl?"

We saw some fascinating portraits, sculptures, daguerreotypes and even the Preamble of the US Constitution in license plate short hand. We were able to make corn husk dolls thanks to the homeschooling event the gallery was hosting and self-guide ourselves through parts that were interesting to 3, 4 and 6 year old children. Since we're studying the Presidents of the US this semester, this was a great place to see the presidents of the past and even read a bit of their history.

We also found it fascinating that in the exhibit Faces of the Frontier: Photographic Portraits from the American West, 1845-1924 there was a wall labeled Discord and on this wall was a daguerreotype of Brigham Young. And in the center aisle of hallway there was a large poster of Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young's 19th wife, and her role in speaking out against polygamy and Mormonism. It is always interesting seeing an outsiders view of being Mormon.

By the time we finished our corn husk dolls, Lillee was certain she had had it. I carried her out of the gallery, back to the metro where she eventually fell asleep on the ride home. As soon as we came out of the tunnels I was on the phone to the pediatrician trying to secure an appointment. They had only one left for the day and we took it!

She fell asleep in the car on the way to the Pediatrician and I carried her again and held her all through the appointment. If you don't know my Lillee that well then these statements mean nothing. At the age of 4, she is fiercely independent - at 18 months she stopped napping, completely...I think she was afraid she would miss out on something if she slept.

The Dr checked her ear, which she had been complaining about, and sure enough there was an infection. He performed a flu test which fortunately came back negative. They gave her a popsicle when she felt nauseated and that seemed to perk her up a bit, which was the liveliest she had been all day. We left with a prescription for an antibiotic and headed off to McDonald's to get her some chicken nuggets and a Sprite, the only food she had requested all day. She never ate a bite of her nuggets before she fell asleep in the car, again.

We did survive the evening, was able to get her fever down and some medicine in her. She headed off to bed feeling much better and woke again in the morning as if nothing had happened.

This might be the first fall I've not enjoyed, well there was last fall when I was on bed rest...that stunk, too. It is my favorite time of year...and I've missed it, again. Winter better be really good to make up for this crumby couple of months.