Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Fun

We had a wonderful Christmas, just us this year. It's good to be starting our own little traditions and strengthening our family at home. For Christmas Eve, we had a nice candlelit ham dinner...
 ...complete with Paul's amazing new creation, dauphinois, or gratin potatoes.
 After dinner, we all got in our costumes to reenact the nativity. Most of it we only got on video, but we did get this one picture of Nora in her angel costume.
I shortened down the nativity from 17-ish minutes to 1 1/2. Peter was Joseph, I was Mary, Benjamin was a wiseman, and Paul was the narrator/filmer. 
After our nativity, we opened one gift- matching pajamas for the kids. They were excited, and danced around together for a while before settling down for the night.
 Christmas morning came very early. Benjamin started "coughing" around 4:30. Paul suggested he go back to sleep for a while, but everyone was up by about 6:30 anyways. Which was just as well, since we had to get ready for 9:00 church. We opened a few presents before breakfast- Santa presents plus one or two more.
 Nora was delighted to open her Yo Gabba Gabba dolls.
Benjamin seemed pleased about Santa's present this year. 
 Benjamin was thrilled to give Peter the gift he got for him this year- an Angry Birds game.
 Peter may have been a little more excited about the roller skates that he got when we got back from church though...
And Nora enjoyed her ice cream set from Peter.
 Benjamin was excited about his new two-wheeler! Although he's anxious to get off those pesky training wheels.
 My sister surprised us with boxing gloves for the boys.
Peter quickly figured out how to duck out of an overly intense game- play dead. 
 It was an unusually warm Christmas day, so we got to enjoy our new ride-ons. Nora made sure to bring along her new pretty purse as she rode around on her wheely bug.
 Peter enjoyed getting around on his new scooter, and Benjamin enjoyed "racing" him on his bike.
I'm especially grateful that we get to have Paul home all week. It's been nice, especially since we've all been under the weather for the past few days. We did our best, despite feeling horrid, to celebrate Paul's birthday yesterday. He's 31! We are so grateful for the kindness and generosity of our family and friends far and near, and for the ability to Skype or call them whenever we want. It's hard to believe the end of the year is in just a few more days. This has been a really wonderful year, and we feel so blessed. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! We had a wonderful, relaxing day, and the weather couldn't have been better. I just wanted to show you all the stockings I finished, just in time for Santa's rounds. 
 I'm such a procrastinator. This idea was conceived shortly after Christmas last year. I bought a bunch of wool sweaters at a thrift store back in January, but they sat in my basement until recently, when I finally boiled them and put them in the dryer to shrink them. They still have a little stretch, but I kind of like it that way; it works better for stuffing them. I bought a couple of wool felt squares in green and yellow to brighten them up, and used cream wool yarn for the stitching.
 I kind of like the idea of non-matching stockings so they can easily be added to in the future.
This was a really fun project for me, and I'm a little sad that they're all done. I'm going to have to start making something else with all the scraps I have leftover....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Winter

Some recent happenings...
We're finally moving forward on our basement! We're gutting it first- removing the built-ins and creating a more open floor plan. The new flooring (NOT carpet) is being put in next month. Hooray! The next step of course will be to reframe around all the water damaged areas and drywall. Can't tell you how anxious I am to have a functioning basement again. 
Annual Gingerbread House Making with our friends and their kids.
Peter was really serious about his this year.
The two kindergarteners' houses. :) 
Meeting Santa at the Magic House! 
Nora didn't want to sit on his lap this year. 
So he came down to her and got out some little wind up toys.  It was really sweet.
These are the wool felt stockings I've been working on this Christmas. HOPEFULLY I'll have them done in time, but if not, they'll be ready to go next year! 

So have I mentioned yet that my youngest sister Michelle was called to serve an LDS mission ? Well...she reported to the MTC today, and will be coming to OUR MISSION...HERE...WHERE WE LIVE....on January 10th. Crazy, huh? I know her mission president and his wife pretty well, so we might have to arrange a little get together soon!

And here's a little something extra for you, Liz. You mentioned you wanted to see Paul in a skirt? Well, here he is, wearing his kilt for his 1999 Prom. 
Incidentally, I later knew his date, Brooke in college before I even met Paul. Small world!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Seven Years!

Paul and I have been married for seven years ago today. I still feel like we're just a couple of young kids, which is silly since now we have three of our own. I can't express how lucky I feel to be married to Paul. He is my best friend.
Paul and I are both pretty relaxed people. We used to joke that neither of us really "wears the pants" in our relationship. We both wear skirts. For the most part, our mutual comfort is great, except when it comes to doing cool stuff together. We still don't have a real babysitter here (besides Abby and Patrick- our sister- and brother-in-law, who have a baby of their own), and don't go out that much. We've always made early bedtimes a priority with our kids, so we do have evenings to ourselves most of the time, which is nice.
But this year, I was determined to do something special for our anniversary- especially since we don't currently have a nursing baby. We had our friends (whose kids we watched a few months ago) watch our kids overnight, and booked a local hotel. We went to eat at a fancy steak place downtown (I was way underdressed, but I still really enjoyed it), then we went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. The hotel was great, sleeping in was even better, and the breakfast there was fantastic. We took our time getting over to the City Museum, which we'd both heard great things about, but had never seen. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! It was like a giant playground for adults, in and around a tall gutted out, industrial-feeling building. There was a ten-story slide with tunnels and winding metal staircases all the way to the top. There were holes in the walls and the ground everywhere, with slides leading to who-knows-where. There were tons of cave-like passageways, where we uncomfortably wedged ourselves through small passages, hoping we could make it to whatever lay on the other side. Outside, we climbed through wire cage tunnels, ten stories up in the air from one suspended airplane to another. It was terrifying, but so exhilarating. Besides feeling a little tired and dizzy, we thoroughly enjoyed feeling like kids again.
We didn't have a real camera on us, and Paul's phone was being kind of schizophrenic, so we only got a handful of dark, fuzzy pictures. I think Paul's by the entrance to the caverns here.
The whole thing was way cooler in person. It's hard to really capture it in a picture!
I'll admit, I'm the type of person who tries not to worry about the kids, but I couldn't completely get my mind off of them. I was mostly worried about how Nora was doing, since I'd never left her overnight with anyone before. When we got back though, our friends told us she hadn't cried once. Well, actually the only time she did cry was when Peter kicked her. I think Peter was probably the one I should have been worried about. :) It was very encouraging though, to know that we can get away- even if for just a night! 
Paul brought me lots of gifts for our anniversary when he got home from work.  He knows me well- a fragrant, fresh pine, chocolate covered pretzels, sparkling grapefruit soda, and lots of chocolates. Yum.
Aren't they beautiful? I was afraid to touch them, let alone eat them! 
I'm a lucky girl, especially since I get to look forward to many more wonderful years and the rest of eternity with my best friend by my side. Love you, Paul.

Gloria's Day-O

 This week, we celebrated our little niece, Gloria's birthday. 
Was it really one whole year ago that this sweet baby was born?
 It's so fun to have Abby and Patrick and Gloria near by. Gloria and Nora are becoming better friends these days as the developmental gap narrows.
 For the party, Abby had the ingenious idea of making snow globes. They were a hit!
 Here's my little craft foam Christmas tree. I like the way all the tiny shelves catch the glitter. 
We're soaking up all the time we can with these guys! We're going to miss them like crazy whenever they have to move.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Five and a Half

Benjamin is now five and a half. He's the very youngest in his kindergarten class, but you wouldn't know it. He's bright, average height, and socially on target. 
Here's his picture day shot after I grilled him all morning about smiling for the photographer. Cute, but obviously insecure. 
So I casually asked him if he wanted to go back on re-take day. He consented, and I'm so glad he did. This is the Benjamin I know and love.
Benjamin is a very good boy. Yes, he's possessive. He's also crazy competitive and wants things his own way a lot of the time, but he really wants to do the right thing, and I can see that more and more these days. Last month, he wrote this letter all by himself to Santa. (post edit: I did open up the Target website for him to copy out the toys he wanted- he does not know how to spell "Samurai" correctly on his own!) My favorite part was the line "I sinc I bin good," pronouncing the "th" in "think" the way he does out loud. It was just such an honest line. He obviously knew he'd made a lot of mistakes this year, but was deep down really trying to be good. 
This week, we've had packages from aunts and uncles and Grandmas and Grandpas piling in, overwhelming the tiny circumference of our fake Christmas tree. Benjamin has kept careful count each day, and finally decided to write an amended letter to Santa. Honestly, this is what he wrote:

We really have too many presents. Please don't bring any presents.
Love, Benjamin

Melt. Yes, you may have whatever you most wanted on that Christmas list! It is sort of ironic how just last week I was writing how infuriating the boys were being, and how Santa shouldn't come...It must have been his obsession with the straws, since I haven't had to use the toy time-out box at all since then.
So lastly I thought it would be fun to do a little questionnaire with him again. Here it is with his responses.

1. What is your favorite color?  Blue.
2. What is your favorite toy?    Legos. I mean, Iron Man stuff.
3. What is your favorite fruit?    Oranges.
4. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?    Rings and meatballs.
5. What is your favorite outfit?    My fuzzy pants and my Lego Star Wars shirt.
6. What is your favorite game?, Angry Birds!
7. What is your favorite snack?     Nutella and pretzels.
8. What is your favorite animal?    Polar bear.
9. What is your favorite song?    Joy to the World.
10. What is your favorite book?    My Lego Ninjago book and Iron Man and Spiderman.
11. Who is your best friend?     I play with Timmy at school, so I like Timmy.
12. What is your favorite drink?     Orange juice.
13. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?     I like sleeping with my cuddles (his blanket) and my monkey and my Santa hat.
14. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Crepes. 
15. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? I want to go to McDonalds.
16. What do you want to be when you grow up?  I don’t know yet. Maybe go to [Daddy's company] or maybe I’ll grow up to be a Baseball player. 

I sure love this little guy. Even if (and perhaps, in part because) he isn't quite so little anymore.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Baby's First Haircut

 It's always a bittersweet moment for me when it comes time to give my babies their first haircuts. It's one of those last things that make them babies and not little people. 
Nora's hair has been getting straggly and wispy for a while now, so I knew it was time to take action.
And here's the final result. I guess I felt the need to add that bow when she ended up looking a lot like Peter. It's still a little sad when I look at her and those sweet red curls are gone. 
I'm not too jazzed about it yet. It kind of reminds me of my little sister's pageboy haircut, circa 1991 (remember that, Miriam? You're lucky I couldn't find a copy to put up!). She may have to be my first child to have professional haircuts. My boys have never had that privilege! 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Naughty or Nice

These past few weeks...where do I begin? It's been a little rough around here. Benjamin and Peter have been especially awful, and I've tried about everything; taking away privileges, time outs, taking them aside for one-on-one time, lessons about kindness and Christlike behavior...oh, and maybe also some threats about Santa not coming this year. But it seems like every time I'd turn around, they were fighting about who got the blue bowl, who got to sit where, who got to turn on the Christmas lights, who had the toy first, who gets to use the sink first, and on and on and on!! I believe they're good kids who know how to choose the right. I know this is a phase and it will pass. And I know I'm not alone in this at all - right? Right?!?

So yesterday, I remembered this pin I saw (it was actually about kids leaving their things on the floor, but I tailored it to fit my needs), and decided to try it out.

I explained to the boys that if they fought over a toy, it would have to go to the "Time Out Box," and that they couldn't see it again until they had done something to earn it back. So far, it seems to be working. They haven't attempted to earn anything back yet, but I can see them working things out before they explode at each other. Progress!

The other thing we've been doing is adding "straws" to "Jesus' manger" whenever we do something nice for someone else this month. The goal is to make baby Jesus' manger soft before He comes on Christmas. This was a tradition I had growing up that I wanted to pass on, and so far, Benjamin has been the most excited about it.

Honestly, a lot of it has to do with Peter. He is a sensitive little guy, and is at an especially volatile stage right now. He can be so sweet and cooperative one moment, then a complete terror the next. This past Sunday, we went to our monthly fast and testimony church meeting, and he really wanted to go up to the microphone. Since I was wrestling with all three kids at that moment, I asked Paul to take him up there. He did, and Peter told everyone about how he likes to read the scriptures every day and that he knows that Jesus loves him. It's moments like these that I live for! Of course, by nursery, he was kicking and screaming because he wanted a particular chair that another boy was sitting in. Primary is just a few weeks away. :)

Thursday, December 01, 2011


How is it already December, I'd like to know? Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now we're going into Christmas full force. We drove up to Indianapolis for the break to see Paul's cousins. We had a wonderful time, but managed to come away with only two pictures, both foggy and unappetizing. I love Thanksgiving. I love getting together with friends and family, and I love good food. We had so much to be thankful for this year. 
As I was digging through Benjamin's backpack this morning, I found this Thankful Book he made. I had a good chuckle. You think he's trying to tell me something?
I am thankful for my mom making cake.
I am thankful for food.
I am thankful for cake.
I am thankful for cookies.
We may have to make lots of cake and cookies this Christmas season. :) We have our tree up, most of our decorations out, and are getting gifts ready. It's a busy time, but I really love this season. And I love it even more, seeing it through my children's eyes each new year.