Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dear January, Where Have You Gone?

I know people usually hate January because the holidays are over and all that's left is a whole lot of nothing, except for the yucky cold.

My January has been anything but slow. In fact, I've barely had time to blog, which is why I'm sitting here blogging from my phone while I sit on the toilet.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" you say. Before you picture me doing some private business, I'll let you know that I'm sitting on the toilet with the lid closed while I watch M play in the bath. He's making quite the splashy mess, but don't worry about me. I have a towel over my head.

Anywho. Back to January. It's been busy and it has included the following:

-basketball practices and games for Jonah
-Girl Scout meetings and activities for both of the girls
-Daphne's 6th birthday
-My mom coming to visit (mom, come back!)
-Lots of primary calling stuff (I'm the primary secretary. It's exhausting)
-Doctor appts for sickies (I'm sure everyone's January includes that)
-Daphne's mermaid birthday party (which was today. I am Wiped. Out. Speaking of Wipeout, that show is on right now. I can hear my other kids downstairs laughing hysterically)

And it's not over yet. Monday morning, bright and early, we'll be heading to the hospital for a couple of surgeries. Jonah is getting his tonsils and adenoids taken out, while Magnus is having tubes put in his ears. In fact, I still need to go to the store tonight to stock up on provisions for next week while we're stuck at home. Gatorade, popsicles, jell-o, ice cream, and the like.

Crazy, busy month. I'm glad it's over soon. How's your January been?

Speaking of Magnus, he's eating soap. Silly kid. I better go! Check ya later...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blue Skies and Windchimes

Do you ever just pause for a minute and take it all in? Breathe deep, really open your eyes, and take a look around? I try to. I forget sometimes, and then I will have a little moment. A moment where peace envelopes me, and I feel true joy. Happiness, beyond measure.

A couple of weeks ago, it was 65*. In January. It was warm enough to be outside without even a jacket on. Bear asked me to jump on the tramp with him while Magnus was napping. Of course, I have to admit, I didn't want to do that. I almost came up with an excuse of 50 other things I had to do, rather than go jump up and down and try not to pee my pants. But looking at that eager, begging face, I agreed. We headed out in our short sleeve shirts and bare feet. We jumped and jumped and jumped. We played crack the egg, ghost in the graveyard, and jumped over different sizes of bouncy balls. It was really fun. I mean really fun.

After awhile Bear had to run inside to go potty, and so I layed down on the tramp and sat very still.

There was a soft breeze blowing.
The sky was the most beautiful shade of blue, with not even the trace of a cloud in sight.
I heard birds singing softly in the gently swaying trees.
The tinkling of a nearby windchime tickled my inner ear.
The sun bathed my face in a warm, happy light, and it was bright on the inside of my eyelids.
It was the perfect temperature and I felt completely content. Completely happy. I made a mental note to remember this moment.

I am truly blessed. I am truly happy. The earth is the most incredible place, and I am glad to be here.

And I think I need some windchimes of my own.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Week Gone By

How is it possible for a week to fly by so fast?! Unfortunately for me, my mom's trip is already over. She came to visit last week and I dropped her off at the airport today. I just can't explain what an amazing mom I have. She is truly a one-of-a-kind, step-above-the-rest. Here's a little sneak peek of her lovely visit. That last one makes me want to cry.... Again.

Come back soon mom! Pretty please :)

There she goes, back to her home...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Room Enough For All

I just love our couch. I also just love my family. I've had a rotten last few days, and last night we all snuggled up together, turned our fireplace on, and watched a movie. It was marvelous. Simply marvelous!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Christmas To Remember

This Christmas will definitely go down as one of the best, as well as the most memorable. This year, Andy and I had a plan to talk with our kids and let them know that Christmas would be a lot of homemade, rather than material, things. It would be small, because of our current financial situation. Even though that is just fine, and I knew our kids might be a little disappointed if they didn't get exactly what they had asked for from Santa, that's not really the way it turned out.

Our kids are allowed to ask for one thing from Santa every year. I have always felt that Christmas is about Christ's birthday, and giving to and helping others. Of course, they get a few things from mom and dad (usually clothes.... boring!), and grandparents and such, but I don't feel like we go overboard for our kids on Christmas. That's what their birthdays are for :) Andy and I spoke to the kids the night they were writing their letters to Santa. We reminded them not to be greedy, and to only ask for the thing they wanted more than anything else. After getting their letters back, we had a little discussion about what we thought we could afford. Laylah wanted a bed for her American Girl doll. Jonah wanted a new game for his DS. Daphne, a bitty-baby doll by American Girl. And Bear.... play-doh. We thought it would be do-able, but the closer Christmas came, our finances just weren't working in our favor. Andy had only been working at his new job for a couple of weeks, and wasn't scheduled for his first paycheck until December 23rd. That means we would go nearly a month without un-employment pay or a paycheck. Yikes. We were a little worried.

And then the blessings started coming, one by one. It started off with a phone call from someone very special to me. She asked what my kids wanted from Santa, and I told her, but I also told her I wasn't sure how it would happen. She told me not to worry about it, not to argue, and that it would be taken care of. I cannot tell you the load that seemed to lift off of my shoulders. Here's the thing. Although I know my kids would be fine with whatever they received for Christmas, you always want to give your kids exactly what they want, right? You want them to be happy, to not ever have to experience any sort of disappointment. This is unrealistic, to think you can always shelter them through life this way, but it doesn't make me feel it any less so. A little later in the month, we received some gift cards from an annonymous giver. A few days after that, a couple of checks came in the mail. And then a large package with gifts for my children, as well as more gift cards. I cannot even explain how grateful and loved we felt. It was like these little miracles all month long, that just kept coming. As I sit here typing this, I can't keep the tears from coming. It just confirms what I know to be true, that our Heavenly Father knows each of us personally, knows our circumstances, knows what we need, loves us beyond measure, and works through others to help us. It was the most amazing Christmas, and I cannot wait until we can be on the other end again, giving, and donating, and helping.

So, that's why this Christmas was just so wonderful. Just about every gift was from someone's heart, and it made my children happy. It made me happy. And if it was anyone reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It meant everything to me, and I thank you.

Now, onto our fun celebrations! We spent Christmas Eve at Andy's cousin's house (his aunt and uncle were visiting as well) who has a tradition of a Christmas Eve Fiesta! The food was incredible. I brought homemade Brazilian lemonade and guacamole and chips. Meghan (mine and Andy's cousin-in-law. Dan, Andy's cousin, is deployed to Afghanistan right now. We missed him a lot!) made homemade Spanish rice, salsa, enchiladas, taquitos, and tamales. It was quite a feast, and we were all stuffed silly. The kids went to watch a Christmas movie afterwards, and the adults just chatted, grazed some more, and cleaned up.

We took the kids home after the movie and did our usual little traditions. We put out Santa's cookies and milk, opened one gift (jammies), and threw reindeer food out on our back lawn. We read Luke 2, checked online to see where Santa was delivering (Central America!), had hugs and kisses, and sent the kids off to bed to dream of sugar plums dancing, and all of that fun stuff.

Magnus didn't make it home awake. But we still made him open his new pj's.

Christmas is just so exciting!! I caught them doing this.... completely un-prompted :)

New jammies!!

We made this reindeer food as one of our advent activities. It was Laylah's idea to write "Do not use until December 24th!" because we sure didn't want those reindeer coming too early!

After the kids were off to bed, Santa came. And he was so good to us. He realized just how much the kids missed their trampoline (do you remember THIS post??) that he had gotten them about 4 or 5 Christmas' before, and had found a really great used one. So, he decided to set it up in our backyard. Only, it's really hard to do in the dark. And he kind of did it wrong, but couldn't figure out how. And it took a long time. And he was really worried the whole time that some neighbor kid would see him. Or, even worse, one of the Collette kids would hear him and peek out their windows and see him. And it ended up being really funny. So, in the end, he was really tired and just left a note saying that he thought that the kids' dad would be able to fix it in the morning. And guess what? He did :)
The kids came barreling into our room and jumped on our bed at about 6:45 AM. They were so excited. It made me so excited. I figured I had better really enjoy this year, because Laylah has been asking some questions lately, and although she still believed this year, I'm not sure how much longer that is going to last. So I took full advantage and made a big production out of everything. It was great.

The stockings were filled to the brim, the gifts from Santa were bright and white, and so pretty with their big red bows. We had explained to the children that they could open their stockings and Santa gifts, and then we would eat our breakfast feast. After that, we would have to get ready for church that started at 11. After we got home from church, we would be able to finish opening gifts.

Opening stockings! Stockings are truly one of my favorite things about Christmas. It's so exciting to see what wonderful treasures are hidden deep down in that sock. My kids' included movies, treats, little toys and games, books, webkinz, art supplies, and a few other odds and ends.

Andy's had this awesome beanie in it. I love a man with facial hair. And since my man refuses to grow any, this is the next best thing...

We had to wake Magnus, who just loved wandering around with his new lion hat, and his candy-filled plastic candy-cane.
Next, it was onto gifts from Santa! M received a fun little Weebles toy. It play music and cranks the Weebles to the top of the treehouse so they can slide down the treehouse slide. It was a huge hit.Bear loves the Imaginext brand. He got this fun castle, and simply loves it. (Oh, and don't worry. He also got the play-doh he had asked for. It came in his stocking :)

Next up, Daphne. She received the gift of her dreams that she's been talking about for 7 months, the bitty-baby doll! When she started opening it, as soon as she saw the American Girl label, she couldn't get that baby out of the box fast enough. She literally has not gone a day since, without playing with Bella Ella (what a name, right?)

Jonah received his beloved DS game, Mario VS. Donkey Kong! And even though it was Sunday, and we don't allow video games on Sunday, it was also Christmas. So he proceeded to play it the rest of the day :)

Laylah didn't quite receive what she had asked for. If you recall, she wanted a bed for her American Girl doll, but I had it on good authority that her great grandmother was getting that for her. So, Santa got her something he knew she'd been wanting for a long time. A real camera. And not just any camera. A real purple camera. She was thrilled. After everyone had opened their gifts from Santa, there was still one white wrapped gift with a red ribbon. Our family gift from Santa. Santa always gives our family a gift that will help bring us together, something we can do together and something that helps us have fun together.

It was a letter, telling us to look outside and also explaining that we needed to be careful with this one so as not to break it like we did our last one. The kids practically leaped off the couch to run onto the deck and see what it was. And I cannot even tell you how excited they were to have a trampoline again. Pure joy.
(This picture is not from Christmas, but the day after when Andy had fixed what silly Santa had done to the tramp. The kids spent all week and hours upon hours jumping outside on their new tramp during their winter break. Good thing the temps were in the 60's!)

After gifts, we had our breakfast feast of baked french toast, bacon, and eggs with sausage and cheese. Along with it, there was orange juice, hot cocoa with whipped cream, anf fresh fruit. Delish.

I allowed the kids to open one more gift before getting ready for church. It was their new Christmas church outfits (dresses for the girls, bowties for the boys), made by hand by the amazing Miranda. We swapped services, and I have to say that I got the better end of the deal, because she is just so incredibly talented. (Pictures of their new clothes are at the bottom of the post)

After we got ready, we headed off to church. Our sacrement service was so wonderful, and the music was so beautiful. I remember just sitting there and feeling so happy. It was such a wonderful day, thinking of the Savior and His birth. I remember thinking over and over again about how very blessed we are. It's so nice to recognize that.

After church, we headed home, and some of us changed our clothes. It was just a nice, lazy, relaxing rest of the day. I made a big turkey dinner with all of the trimmings, and after I got the turkey in the oven, we started opening gifts again. We would let each of the kids open one, and we would let them play with that for awhile, and then they would open another one. It took hours, but it was so relaxing, and enjoyable. I loved that we didn't have anywhere we had to be, we were just there together.
I made Andy a giftbox with my top 50 reasons why I love him. It was really fun to do, and once I got going, I could have gone on forever. Some of them are funny, some of them are physical (he seriously has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen), and some of them are my favorite memories. He was really surprised, and loved it.

We also gave the kids a date coupon. They each got a coupon to go out to dinner and a movie (their choice) with Andy and me. They can use it whenever they want, but only one kid per date. I am really excited to get to spend more one-on-one time with my kids this year.
Here's Sadie sporting some glow-in-the-dark glasses that the kids got from one of their grandma's. She loved it, can't you tell?

And me, sporting my gift from Andy. My new cut and color. I finally cut off all of my post-baby hair after hemming and hawing about it for months. It was nasty. And also, new clothes from my mom. Doesn't she have great taste? She always gives the best gifts. I felt completely spoiled by her, like usual.

And finally, my darlings in their new Christmas church outfits. So adorable and so dapper. I can't even tell you how many compliments they received.

Family of {seven} ready for church

The rest of the day was spent playing, reading, napping, eating and watching movies. We had our yummy Christmas dinner and we were able to skype with both mine and Andy's families. It was wonderful.
And no Christmas would be complete without new pajamma pants from Grandma Collette. It's tradition!

The rest of our Christmas break was spent jumping on the tramp for hours upon hours, and playing. It was a much needed break from real life, and I was sad when it was over and work and school had to resume as normal. December was a month of miracles for our family, and I'm so happy that I had the experience and pleasure of sharing it.

Merry Merry to you!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday Thoughts By Yours Truly (2nd EDN.)

It's been awhile since we had a Thursday Thoughts post. Lots of thoughts roll around in my head on a daily basis. Shall I share? Here we go...

-Magnus has dual personalities. Sweet Angel Baby and Child of the Devil Baby. Seriously. We've got a lot of crying/shrieking and temper tantrum throwing up in here. It's brutal. Plus, he is into everything. Everything. That picture above is him, with his socked foot in the dog's water dish. You can see by his face what he thought about having his pants and foot all sogged up. Plus, I had literally gotten him dressed 2 minutes before he did it. This kid sure is giving me a run for my money. Good thing he's #5.... and I'm (sort of) patient now.

-Speaking of the dog... I am sick of her. She bugs me. I think ever since I've had Magnus, I've referred to her like this: "It's like having another kid I have to take care of, but one that I don't even like". And I think she can tell I don't really care for her anymore. She gets into my bathroom trash can and makes a mess. Grrrrr...

-Daphne's birthday is tomorrow. She will be 6 years old! I can still remember, 6 years ago on this day, I was working at AA Alpine Storage, running the office. I took the deposit to the bank that night, and the teller working said to me, "Aren't you having that baby soon?" And I was so excited to tell him that, YES! I AM HAVING THE BABY TOMORROW! I AM GETTING INDUCED IN 13 HOURS! (I probably really was shouting, because I was so excited to not be pregnant anymore.) We hadn't found out what sex the baby was, and it was so exciting to have that baby girl placed into my arms. Born on 1/13 at 1:13. Pretty crazy, am I right?

-My mommy is coming to visit in a week! A week I tell you. And I will have her all to myself. Well, I guess I'll have to share her with my kids, but just a little bit. I have big plans for when she's here. Big plans (you know, like having her help me deep clean my kitchen.... aren't you excited Mom??)

-I got a ticket a few days ago. I didn't realize what the speed limit was, and I was going way over (I was alone, FYI. I never speed with my kids in the car. Unless I'm late. So actually, yeah, I pretty much always speed). When I saw the cop, I slammed on my brakes, but yeah right. I was too late, and I knew it. I thought, "Okay, I can get out of this, I'll just flirt a little..." as I switched my wedding ring to my right hand.... (just kidding, I didn't really do that, but it did cross my mind). I glanced in my side mirror, and of course, a woman got out of the cruiser (I don't know if I could have flirted anyway. Those skills are a little rusty...) She was really nice anyway, and only gave me a ticket for "failure to obey a traffic sign." If she had given me the ticket for speeding, I would have also been charged with reckless driving. Yikes.

I think that's enough of my thoughts for one day. Anyone else care to share? A penny for your thoughts (but not really, I'm not going to use a $.48 stamp just to mail you a penny.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas, Christmas Time Is Here.... Time For Joy and Time For Cheer!

Our December festivites were so much fun this year. As I look back through the pictures and through my calender, it makes me tired all over again. But I loved it. December always flies by too fast, so this year I tried to be very organzied and really tried to not be my usual procrastinating self. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I did. I can hardly believe all of the fun things we squeezed and squished into December. Our total Christmas party count included:

-my Relief Society Christmas Party
-Andrew's work holiday party
-some friend's Christmas party for couples
-Laylah's Girl Scouts holiday party
-Daphne's Girl Scouts holiday party
-our ward Christmas party
-Laylah's Activity Day's Christmas party
-Laylah, Jonah, Daphne and Baron's school and playgroup holiday parties

Lots and lots of fun parties.

About 2 weeks before Christmas, I felt compeltely ready for Christmas. So, I made a to-do list for the things that I still needed to complete. The list included: divide up toffee (that was my neighbor gift this year. yum yum) and deliver to friends and neighbors, finish up homemade gifts (wrap, package, and mail to family), write Christmas letter and print out photos (mail along with cards), finish wrapping gifts, finish up any last minute shopping, finish putting up decorations.

Um, yes. I completed that list a week before Christmas and I was able to just sit-back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the season. This is definitely the most organized Christmas we've ever had. It was wonderful. I'll have to make it a yearly tradition!

Now, onto some pictures...
I love love my giant cinnamon candle.... sitting next to my potted paper white (that never grew).

My packaged family gifts, ready to be mailed to Utah. Now that Christmas is over, I can brag about how crafty I was! I made 2 scarves and 4 necklaces (well, not the necklaces, but the hand-stamped charms that went onto the necklaces. Okay, honestly? I sat and watched and pretended to help while my crafty sister did it for me). Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of them, but oh well. I remember just how darn cute they are!

Bags and bags and bags of wrapped up, homemade caramels and toffee, ready to be delivered.

These next several pictures are from a super fun activity(s) our family did this season. We have a wooden advent house with little doors that open and we fill it up with treats so that every day in December, the kids get a treat before bedtime. This year, along with the candy, I filled it up with a scripture and an activity we could do together as a family. I found the scripture idea HERE (and I loved being able to read, with my kids, all about Christ's life, and the events leading up to His birth)and I got the activity ideas from my sister (who did this last year with much success) and also, a few ideas HERE. It was fanatastic and it made me happy to hear the kids ask eagerly what our activity would be that evening. Be it simple or more complex, they always responded with excitement. They loved it. I loved it. It was fabulous.

We spent a few quiet eveings at home, creating art projects to put on display...

We had fun making the kids' teacher's gifts (chocolate dipped marshmellows, which we wrapped ever so cutely and tied up with a couple of packets of hot cocoa. So cute... the idea was found HERE)

Another of our activites was to go caroling with some friends, and luckily, we just so happened to be invited to go by some neighbors in our ward. There was a huge group of us, and it was such a blast. I had never been caroling, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was the perfect night to go, not too cold, but just the right amount of Christmas crisp in the air.

We ended the night with hot cocoa (with peppermint marshmellows, yum!), donuts, and great conversation. Such a fun night, I think it will have to become a yearly tradition.

Another of our activities was to head up to the temple to see the lights, see the visitors center, along with all of the wonderful videos, concerts, displays, and music it has to offer. Let's just say that it didn't turn out at ALL as planned. It was quite a nightmare. I won't go into all of the nitty-gritty details. All I will say is that the night involved hour long bathroom waits, keys getting locked into cars, cranky, hungry kids who didn't get dinner until 8:30 (because of the keys being locked in the car), not even being able to walk into the visitors center because there were probably five times as many people in there that could ever fit comfortably, and the list goes on and on. I was nearly in a frustrated rage by the time we left, which doesn't go well with the temple setting. Next time, I will definitely have to remember not to go on a Sunday, a week before Christmas. Serious nightmare. We didn't even get a picture with our group of friends we went with because I just didn't care about anything by the end of the night. I'm glad Andy made me take the few pictures that I did.

Oh well, at least the lights were pretty.

This poor baby boy was SO tired by the time we got home, that when Andy took his clothes and diaper off to change him, he rolled over, curled up, and fell fast asleep on his changing table. This picture is a good representation of the whole night: Exhausting.

Next up: our ward did an incredible job on the First Annual Celebration of Christ for our entire community. They built sets, and basically did 5 live dioramas to depict Christ's birth. There were actors (Andy was a sheperd), live music, and narration. Afterwards, inside the church, there were hundreds of nativity's on display. It was a very wonderful, spiritual night. It was a fabulous success in our little town, and we hope that it continues to grow every year.

So, that was our wonderful Christmas season, in a nutshell. Fun, festive, fabulous, frustrating, and filled with the spirit of Christ. It truly was wonderful, and I'm still sad it's over. My house seems a little bare and empty without all of our cheery Christmas decor...

Oh well, I'm sure next year will come fast enough. It does tend to do that the older I get... :)