Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Break?!?

No such thing as a break around here! We have been having so much fun with Nathan & the kids out of school. The kids had a big list of fun things they wanted to do- so we did the best we could to squeeze them in.
Who doesn't love bowling shoes?? We all strapped them on and let the good times roll. Jaleigh even fit into an "authentic" pair of bowling shoes this time. Oh- she was so pleased with herself!
Saroya was winning for most of the game. She kept getting spares and the points kept racking up.

Nathan looked like he was going to take flight in his starts. The ball would hit the pins soo hard, the ones in the front would go flying and the ones in the third row would stand completely still. It was so funny to watch.

As you can see by the final score- we are not anywhere near professional.. but we had a really fun time. (But yes- that is the winning score next to H. for HOLLY!!! )
If you have the patience to watch the ball s...l..o..w...l...y make it down the lane- you will see exactly what Jaleigh did every time... Hilarious!

Another day we took the new Rollerblades Saroya got for Christmas, out for a spin. She did soo good! I was super mad that I forgot the camera this time. Grrr. Jaleigh insisted on having Saroya help her skate around the rink, and it would have been the cutest picture seeing the two girls hold hands while skating... Luckily we went on a Thursday afternoon- so there was barely anyone there. Jaleigh even skated all by herself several times. Ethan is so good- he really gets down and swings his arms to go faster and faster. It made me remember my old skating days when they used to have skating races. I bet he could win... especially with the crowd we had there that day! Nathan and I shared a slow skate and it made me laugh. How cool it was back in the day though! :) Funny...Skating really made me anxious for the spring and rollerblading the bike trail. Maybe Jaleigh will be able to do it for longer this year! :)

We went to see a movie once, and Nathan even let me shop (for myself! :) one day for as long as I wanted. He didn't even call me to find out when I would be home! He just stayed home and played with the kids and their new toys until I came home. We haven't even eaten at home much because we have been on the go. Bt the end of the week we had run ourselves ragged so we stayed home. There had been a pretty good snowfall so Nathan & Ethan took the 4 wheelers out and pulled the girls around. This is how Jaleigh got herself ready for the outdoors...

But I didn't let her outside until she was adequately covered up....

because I know my husband and I knew they would come back looking just the way they did...

They had a lot of fun though.
So what do you do after you have been pelted with freshly fallen snow, and you are freezing? You take a warm bath (have your hair put in "curlies" if you are Jaleigh) and make snow cones with your new "Snoopy Snow Cone Machine", of course!

Finally it was a night that we were home early and boy did the kids crash. I am not looking forward to the kids going back to school, but we sure have made the most of this "break."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

This morning the kids let us sleep until 8:30a! YEA! Then we actually held them off until 9am so we had about a half an hour just to lay in bed and talk before getting started. That hasn't happened in a long time. It was so nice. Nathan doesn't remember many experiences from his childhood, so it was so sweet when he shared a Christmas memory he had as a child. He remembered one year he and his 3 brothers stayed up ALL night long listening to music, waiting for Christmas morning. He remembers it taking sooo long for morning to come, but that they were so excited. He said that he didn't remember what he got for Christmas that year, but the feeling of excitement he felt was still vivid. I can just see him in my minds eye. Cute!

After we finally got up, this is what I saw in the door of Saroya & Jaleigh's room... (yes those are tights Jaleigh insisted on sleeping in...) They were so excited! I made everyone stop for a picture before we got started with the presents. You know you don't have enough family pictures when you like the picture that was taken as soon as everyone got out of bed and didn't prepare at all. I've got to us the timer more on my camera!! Yes- we had to switch a few presents after they were opened because they were labeled to the wrong person, but it mostly went off without a hitch. Since Nathan knew everything he was getting, I decided to surprise him by making his mom's recipe for granola when he was at work on Sunday. I can't believe I kept it secret until today!! :) He loved it!
As Jaleigh ripped through her presents she would yell out with all the passion she could muster "This is the BEST present I never, never, never want!!" or "This is almost 'zactly what I wanted!" Some times she would just hug it and say, "I love you! I love you!!" It was so funny because she was just trying to come up with new words she thought would REALLY express how excited she was. She didn't realize it was doing the opposite. :)
Most sentimental gift of the year award goes to my brilliant sister Sunny and her Tech-Savvy husband for giving each family a copy of a CD they recorded from a tape of my Grandma Nellie (who died almost 8 years ago?) reading Mr. Fussy, and a book to go along with it. It is really incredible. My kids have randomly asked questions about her so I am so happy to have them connect with her in this way. Thanks so much you guys!!

We had our traditional Christmas Breakfast with all the fixings after presents & stockings. This tradition was started originally by my grandpa's sister Ruth a LONG time ago, but she has since passed, and we have continued the tradition in our own home. The things I remember the most about Christmas morning breakfast at Aunt Ruth's house are:

*She always had a Christmas ornament in her tree that was a singing bird. Every year I would search the tree until I could find it.

*She had the most magical golden silverware, and she always set it at the kids table. She must have known how much we loved it.

*Immediately following breakfast she would pass around the most beautiful petits fours from Swiss Colony,

and a Whitman's Sampler without the "messenger boy" chocolate because my uncle Randy got to it first. I think this was the only time we got to eat dessert right after breakfast!

*We always got books from her for Christmas. (She was a principal at a local school and loved books.)

*She had a very small house, but it's funny because I never remember feeling like we didn't have enough room for everyone.

Sorry for the digression, but you know this is a personal history for me too, so when the history comes out, I gotta let it flow...

Back to this year.

We spent the rest of the day putting things together, reading directions, inserting batteries and trying out new things. We ate terrible, but didn't worry too much about it. Nathan had to go to work, so we just relaxed. Tonight before bed, the kids and I watched "The Christmas Story".

It was a long day, but it was relaxing. I loved watching the kids delight in their new things, and play happily all day long. We talked with family everywhere and it felt like we weren't far away for a little while. As I went to check on them tonight after midnight, I realized their radios were again playing "regular" music. I got a tinge of sadness knowing that it is really over. I turned on the TV and noticed that QVC was still showing Christmas stories and music and watched for a little bit. (Sad when you watch QVC for "enjoyment"...) I love every holiday and look forward to New Years Eve, but before I leave it for good this year, just one last quote I love by Charles Dickens.

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!"

Monday, December 24, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods...

Every Christmas Eve we have the same tradition and I love it! We always start at my parents house and it was no different this year. I think Nathan was the most excited about being there...Just kidding. He really was. He worked last night and didn't get much sleep so he decided to make use of the 15 minutes we had before everyone got there. I think he actually slept for a while once everyone was there too... (I love his red sweater and green socks! He is so festive!)

Anyway, once we gather, we usually talk to relatives that can't be with us from Arizona, Texas, Montana, New York & Utah. Sometimes it's through the web cam, so we sit and wave at the computer. "Hi, we miss you!"Hopefully before too long we gather and eat some dinner. In the past we have had soups or sandwiches, but this year we had a meal with a Mexican flair. We even listened to a Ricky Martin on a Christmas CD... (Ok, I am laughing too. And yes, I did know all the words...)

After we are too full to sit any longer, we pile into cars and go Christmas caroling. This is probably my favorite part of Christmas Eve.

We have some "regulars" that we always carol to, but we definitely have sung to a lot of empty houses. At least we think they are empty! Anyway- it just gives us more practice, so we don't mind.

I love caroling at all the houses we go to, but when we go to one of our long time friends house, they are always having a family gathering. More and more come to the door as we sing and they seem genuinely excited to have us. By the time we are done they are usually bursting out the door and in windows- some dressed like Shepard's, Mary, Joseph and others from the First Christmas. It seems like this is always our last stop. Maybe that's so we end on a high note? I loved that this year the kids were begging to go to "just one more house".

Once we get home, we get all the desserts out while someone reads the Christmas story from the scriptures. In this picture the girls are being "stars" over the manger as we read. (Side note- this is a manger that we all played with extensively as kids. It all fits into the manger as a puzzle. Someday I hope someone that is retired will make one for my family... :) (Sorry- I had to add this picture of Nathan's famous "spoon fudge" which was previously a fudge ball as opposed to a cheese ball. If you were there, you would laugh...)"Grandma Old Ears" started a tradition several years ago that we have an empty manger with some hay on the side. Every time someone does something nice anonymously, they can put a piece of hay in the manger. After we get done reading the Christmas story, we place baby Jesus on a manger made soft by all the good deeds done during the season.

Soon after that the kids are drawn to the windows in search of Santa's sleigh. They listen intently for the jingle of his bells. (This is one of my most vivid memories of Christmas Eve as a child, except it was at my Uncle Dick & Aunt Barb's house. It was so magical.) After a couple of minutes, there he is! He only stays for a few minutes but he always brings a few presents that we get to open that night... PAJAMAS!! We exchange a few family presents and then pack up and head home. The kids always fall asleep just the same way I did as a child, on the way home with Christmas music playing softly in the background. I am so thankful to share the same traditions with my children that made Christmas so special to me. Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We Stink at Christmas

Well- I guess I shouldn't say that we stink at Christmas, just the commercial aspect of it. Three weeks ago, Ethan found all his presents, then Jaleigh found hers, and just last week, Nathan discovered what he was getting. That leaves Saroya and I being the only ones who will be surprised come Christmas morning. However, Saroya told Santa last week that she couldn't think of anything she wanted for Christmas, and I don't know what I am getting because I don't think Nathan hasn't gotten it yet...

A couple of days ago Nathan offered to wrap the Christmas presents. I thought, "OH GREAT! Maybe we won't have to stay up all night long on Christmas eve!" Before he went downstairs he said, "There is a Barbie magnetic play set downstairs... who is that present for?" Then comes a holler from Jaleigh in the next room- "That's for me Dad! That's my present!" Um... she's right... I thought she would forget.
The next night I went down to help him finish wrapping and discovered a few more reasons we stink. First, the presents that he did wrap before, were all in the storage room in plain sight of the kids who frequent that very room. Second and perhaps the most unfortunate, is that he did not put a tag on anything. Nothing. "I'll remember what it was..." We spent the rest of the night shaking, feeling and peeking in the wrapped presents. I will say it made me laugh. It is really funny to see him wrap presents anyway. Just stick the box in the middle and roll the paper around it. Too much paper at the sides? No such thing. Just bunch it up and tape it down. He makes me laugh. "Um, honey?.. Did you take the price tags off?..."

Here is just a little note to myself along those lines.... When the dollar store is going out of business and they have everything for 25 cents... don't buy Christmas wrapping paper. The great deal may just distort your idea of what cute paper is and in December you realize that even if they were giving it away for free- it wouldn't be worth it.

The girls wanted me to do their hair in rollers for Christmas Sunday tomorrow. I wasn't sure about how it would look, and I have tried with Saroya's hair before and it comes out pin straight (Avery trait??) but they wanted to try so I did. They looked so stinkin' cute I just had to post a picture.
Also a picture that I think is adorable of Ethan even though he is still mad at me for cutting his hair "too short" and said he wasn't going to leave the house until it grows back. I know, I stink...

Here is something that we are good at though... having fun in the snow! Who needs a snowmobile??

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

...And the Prettiest Sight You'll See

YEA!! Our Holly bush finally made berries!!!! :)

This is another season I love. Actually, there isn't a season I don't love. I love driving around and seeing everything everywhere is white. Ya know that one house that is always trashed and stuff scattered everywhere around the yard? Even that yard looks beautiful. Almost meticulous, the way the snow is perched on everything. Breathtaking. And today, it looks as though we live in a snow globe because the flakes are soo big and have fallen all day.

Since there are so many things I love about this time of year, I wanted to hi-light some of them. Today I am going to share a few of my favorite decorations and what they mean to me. This is mostly for posterity, but maybe it might spark you to do the same sometime. I think it is worthwhile.

I guess I should give you a little background first. Every year while I was growing up, it had been our tradition to go to Fruit Basket Flowerland and each child got to pick out a new ornament for the Christmas tree. We SO looked forward to this outing as kids. It's funny because when I look at the ornaments I picked out all those years ago, some are really odd and not Christmas like at all. But I still remember how much I loved it and how excited I was when I put it on the tree. We have continued this tradition with our own kids and it is fun to see what they choose. I know they remember too, because every year they get so excited to remember what they had picked in years past. I know people like "pretty" trees with matching ornaments and ribbon, but my favorite tree is the one that tells stories, has history and not one ornament matches....

This is my Christmas Spider. I think I love it so much because I made it in preschool and has survived the longest with me. Sure it has lost a few legs, but even the sequin eyes are still there! When we first got married, my parents sent me on my way with all the ornaments I had collected over the years. When Nathan saw this he said, "We don't put spiders on trees!!" I had never thought of it as odd at all. Of course I informed him that we do and went on with it. It wasn't until last year when I was relating this story to Saroya's kindergarten teacher, that I found out why I always have a spider on my tree. She told me it was an old German folk story. I was thrilled! Not that it mattered anyway, but now it makes sense. :)

Now comes "Peanut Man". This guy has had a dedicated hook that spins around because we love him so much. Nathan made this for me when he was working at the BLM fighting wild land fires when we had just married. I think he is so creative! All Nathan had was a lighter, peanuts, and a string. The whole family loves this little peanut dude. It still makes me smile thinking about him making a decoration for our first tree...

This ornament is relatively new to me, but it definitely has history. My Grandma Nellie had these frames on her tree with a picture a grandkid in each one. I was given this a few years ago after she died and my grandpa moved. I can remember running to find where I was on the tree each year. I always knew we were important to my grandma, and the tree always looked so beautiful. I am so thankful to have it, even if I do have a bouffant.

I love this Santa because I gave it to my sister and she made it for me. All I gave her was this wooden cut out and a picture. No lines, guides or anything. I was stunned to see how she even did it! Lots of detail in this guy that you can't see in this picture. If you are ever at my house, have a look! :) And who can't relate to his sentiments?

The Christmas Village is something that Nathan & I have decided to do since we got married. Nathan has pretty much taken over putting it up every year, but I love watching his creativity. Every year there is a different story to go along with the scene. He collects things from around the house and outside to go it all. It has become pretty elaborate. Each piece represents something important in our lives. For instance... When Nathan was growing up, his parents owned a motel. So this "Bed & Breakfast" represents his childhood and home at Christmastime.

Our first Christmas together, I was working at a Credit Union and did until we moved to Michigan. I loved working there, and it helped to provide us with a stable living while we were young and when we had Ethan. So this piece represents that time in our lives. I should mention that my Grandma bought the first village pieces for us and I am so thankful. She wanted them to be meaningful and they are. The past few years, Nathan has gone to her house and set up a village for her to enjoy too. It's never the same, and I love it!

This last thing is not one of my decorations, but I couldn't help adding it. We were leaving Gymnastics last night and as I was running for the van, I turned to see where Jaleigh was....

Take time and enjoy this season before it is over. There is magic found everywhere, even in huge plastic nativity displays.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My Birthday Girl!

It's hard to believe it was 7 years ago we had our first little girl. I remember looking into the washer full of pink baby clothes before you were born and thinking, this is so bizarre! I was so shocked that I was having a girl first of all. I was POSITIVE I was having a boy. I was never a girly girl growing up, in fact my favorite color in kindergarten was black... I was scared to have a girl. What would I do with a girl?

But then you came...
And even though I tried to dress you "neutral", you looked so darn cute in pink! That smile would get me every time. From the very minute I laid eyes on you, I was in love.

As you grew, I was still a little concerned. I don't ever do much with my own hair, how would I know what to do with yours? And then you showed me. If you felt like having your hair done, you would do it yourself. You would do it right before we left for school so everyone could see.
You didn't ever care if your hair was long or short, up or down. And if it happened to get in your eyes, you didn't worry about that either. You just cut it off... Yup, right down to the scalp.

You love your brother and look up to him soo much.

You take such good care of your little sister. I am so glad she has you.

I love that you are so brave and are usually the first one to try something scary. Even Ethan is amazed at how brave you are.

You are the only kid I ever knew that lost your tooth without noticing, and then a couple days later, lost another one while eating cereal!You are a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field.
You don't let people define you... you are yourself, and I LOVE that about you. Stay that way.

So to my beautiful, sweet, tough, crazy, inquisitive, smart, funny, goofy, self-confident, tender-hearted girl- we are so blessed to have you. Stay just how you are. I love you!