Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's the holiday season

I really don't know how anyone manages to blog during the month of December. I feel so swamped with...everything, involved in preparing for Christmas.

It is all great, it really is. I LOVE this time of year, but there is just so much to do. I'd love to document all of it, but I just can't fit that in right now--I think it's more important that I just live it. And that's probably okay because most of the happenings are about the same as they are every year--lots of good stuff, but not really new stuff.

But I do love having a record of this life that I'm living, so I'll just jot down a few tidbits:

1. Today we did a ton of baking all at once, to try to create enough goods for goodie plates to deliver this evening. And my kids (well, the older kids) were a huge help! Is the day finally here when my kids contribute to, more than they are a detriment to, a project? So cool. I didn't touch the rolling pin or cookie cutters, and yet pan after pan of beautiful sugar cookies came out of the oven. Thanks, Tyler and Tessa. They helped with lots of things, and were even quite handy at maneuvering and twisting the candy cane cookie dough this year. Amazing. It made the whole process happen much more quickly, and the kids loved being so involved. They felt important being an integral part of the "cookie factory."

And I loved hearing, "Hey, Mom, do you like the face I frosted on this snowman?" So sweet innocent...this from my 10-year-old son, who was either too cool or too grumpy to sing the hymns in church today. But he was certainly engaged in our family kitchen endeavors, and that was encouraging. It was a happy and productive afternoon. (of course it didn't hurt that my darling, treat-tasting two-year-old was taking a nap for most of the baking party; and I didn't even attempt the really delicate baking items...but still, this isn't bad for an afternoon's work)

2. Autumn decor doesn't always have to be thrown out when the evergreenery moves in. I liked the gnarly shapes of the gourds in my front porch pots through the fall and didn't want to part with them yet. So I painted them red and white a few weeks ago, which gave them permission to stay and blend with the winter decor.

3. If you want to make sure you slow down and enjoy the Christmas Spirit during the season, sing about it. I joined my church (Stake) choir that was formed to learn & perform songs just for the Christmas concert, and it was great to be a part of. I loved spending 1.5 hours each Sunday evening singing tender songs about our Savior. When it came time to perform, I was so touched by the song we sang about making room for the Christ child in our hearts, that I could hardly get through it. I am grateful I had this opportunity.

I do love Christmas. I hope I can survive all the fun.

Merry, merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a great holiday--time off work and school, lots of good food and family, no worries about gift-giving...yet it opens the door for the magical Christmas season.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week. My sister Melayna came to visit and my kids hardly left her alone from sun up to sun down. She cares about them so much, and they love her back for it.

We did a few fun things with her in downtown Des Moines--the Festival of Trees, the Botanical Center, and "Disney on Ice," which was a special treat for the girls (Tyler graciously bowed out of that princessy event).

...a funny picture, but a fun memory.

The rest of the time we really just hung out at home. Luckily Tessa helped liven things with a Talent Show she concocted. We learned about it for weeks before with signs plastered around the house announcing try-outs, etc.

Sadly, Melayna and I did not make it into the final four--I guess my rendition of the Macarena just didn't "wow" the judge. Ansley's dance moves probably were more entertaining and original. But I can't understand why Melayna's expert piano performance of Christmas songs didn't make the cut. Anyway, it was fun for all...

The other thing that makes Thanksgiving great is the element of tradition. There is something special about repeating holiday festivities year after year. I felt a sense of satisfaction as Tyler went crazy over the cranberry-apple pie we made, more this year than before. That pie was a holiday must when I was growing up, and it feels good to have my kids adopt those same favorites. Tom hasn't taken as well to the tartness of it...yet, so it was fun to have Tyler love it as much as I do. He had like 3 slices!

I have so much to be thankful for. I need holidays like this to force me to remember just how blessed I am. I'm forgetful like that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One last look at Fall

A few of the fall-ish things we did this year:

Pumpkin patch with hayride, corn box, pedal cars and pumpkin cannon...

Pumpkins carved and apples bobbed for...

Pumpkin harvesting--about 10 of the small pie variety; then came ripping out their vines...those sprawling monsters will take over a flower bed.

And then it felt like Fall came abruptly to an end this week as we woke to 5 inches of snow one morning. I am okay with it--first snow in mid-November seems reasonable. But my kids were ecstatic. Still in my bed at 7am I heard, "Mom, where are my snow pants?" And soon after Tyler, Tessa, and Eden were fully bundled and out boarding and sledding down the backyard hill. I couldn't believe they were so anxious that they had to get in a few runs before school. I always appreciate and envy the zest for life that kids have.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Halloween

Here's the bunch this year...

If you want to hear how their guises came about, read on. If not, just scroll through the pictures--the best part!

Tessa is into the Harry Potter books these days, and wanted to be Hermione. I was happy to oblige because these kids love playing "Harry Potter" and I knew they would use these costumes a lot for dress-up play. So once again I dreamed of doing the whole-family-costume-theme thing-- Tom could be Dumbledore, Ansley was going to be Hedwig (I saw a cute, simplish owl costume tutorial online), Eden could be someone's cat, etc, etc.

But as much as Tyler adores everything Harry Potter, he has already been there, dressed up like that. So he didn't want to do it this year. Fair enough, I don't want to force it on anyone.

Then I made the mistake of telling Eden her hair looked a lot like Hermione's after we had braided it one time. She was sold, and we couldn't talk her out of it.

So to Tessa's chagrin, we ended up with two Hermiones. Tessa told some people who asked that she was Ginny Weasley...but ultimately she wanted to be the more well-known heroine. Whatever, they were cute in their matching Gryffindor uniforms. (although their photo together turned out extra blurry)

I am actually pretty proud of myself for making the robes. They turned out well, if I do say so myself. They weren't hard, but I am such an amateur seamstress...that the nice results surprised me.

So I told myself I would work on those 2 robes first, and then I would focus the remainder of my time on Ansley's owl costume. Well, sewing projects always take me longer than they should, so of course there was next to no time left before Halloween parties began, so Ansley was happy to wear something we already had.

For our ward Trunk or Treat party, she was a dog. I love this costume...I wish I had a good picture of it. I bought it for Tyler to wear the Halloween he was 2, but of course he refused to put it on when the time came. Not sure if it's ever been used for Halloween, but it's been worn a lot at home.

For subsequent parties and trick-or-treating, Ansley deferred back to the ever popular "princess" costume. And now that I think about it, I am glad I didn't work hard on an owl costume, only to have her turn her nose up at it and choose something from the dress-up box.

(here she is hiding in the corner with her loot)

Now for Tyler...he saw a fake M-16 and army helmet at a costume shop and convinced me to buy them. It seemed an easy costume to throw together, and he is all about war history and military strategy these days, so I thought it was fitting for him. I also like that this form of "violence" is patriotic and noble and brave. I like it when Halloween kids are armed with pretend weapons to be heroes, not villains. So Tyler became a camouflaged Army soldier.

This was the easiest face-paint job I've ever done.

Here he is with one of his best friends from church and his Primary teacher/buddy.

So that's how it all went down. Fun, fun holiday...but I am always a bit exhausted afterwards from the costume-building, school parties, church parties, and now the candy wars.

And now, it's November! How does that happen so fast?!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Double Digits

Big news! I have a child with a two-digit age! 10 years old. That's big. But it's really not too hard for me to believe. Tyler is definitely maturing and gradually becoming wiser than I.

He actually does seem like a 10-year-old to me, when he acts his age.

We haven't had a true "friend party" for his birthday for a few years, so when he requested it this year, we had to go for it.

I am so grateful for brilliant people who come up with great ideas, so I don't have to. Thank you, creators of "Minute to Win It." Our family room got a little crazy with several 10-year-old boys swinging tennis balls attached to strings tied around their waists, stacking and collapsing cups, blowing ping pong balls through a straw around an obstacle course, shaking balls out of a box affixed to their backs, and on and on.

It was fun for the whole family.

The coolest part was that Tom's parents decided to drive here from Idaho for the weekend, so they were there for the festivities. It is always a blast to have them around.

So the chaos of the party games I anticipated, but I didn't expect the complete pulverization of the pinata in the backyard afterwards. They didn't just knock the thing out of the air and bust a hole in it so the candy could fall not. No. They took turns continuing to beat the poor donkey until he was reduced to many many pieces. Wish I had some pictures. Boys, gotta love them.

Pizza and root beer floats rounded out the evening, and I think everyone had a good time.

My first born; my only son; my imaginative, book-loving, high-intesity, deep-thinking, enigmatic, decade-old child.

I truly am grateful for him in my life, antics and all. Tyler challenges me, he tells me jokes, he thinks I am the best chef (except when I cook with mushrooms), he surprises me, he doesn't want me to interfere with his homework, but he wants me to tuck him in at night. He makes me laugh, and he makes me cry...because I love him so much.

Halloween... kind of a bizarre holiday.

I wonder what little children are thinking as they take in all that holiday has to offer.

Oh it's a fun time...but still a bit bizarre.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My little big girl

I love this face.

Eden is crossing over from one of my "little kids"--the ones that are attached to me and basically shadow me all day, the ones that stay home with mom for a nap while dad takes older ones somewhere one of my "big kids"--the ones that leave and do lots of things without me!, ones who pick up on everything I say (even when I spell it) and ones who are really starting to take care of themselves. Sniffle and hooray.

It started last Spring when she was on her first real soccer team.

Then she seemed old as she wore a cardstock cap and graduated from home preschool/Joy School in May.

And last month she started a "real" preschool where she is away for 3 hours, four days a week. She loves it. I think she feels very official and independent. (didn't realize until now she wore the same outfit on her last day of home preschool, and her first day of real preschool--huh, must be one of those "big day" outfits for her)

Then she started her first formal ballet/tap class a few weeks ago.

I guess her time has come. And she is soaking up all this big kid stuff.

Then to top it all off, Eden turned 5 last week! FIVE just sounds so much older than FOUR.

Here were some of the highlights of the day:

hanging out at the mall...

...with quarters to spend as she wished (I never sacrifice money to those enticing, greedy machines on regular days:).

To preschool with rag-curled hair, because it also happened to be picture day...

Then a park play date with friends and cupcakes.

(speaking of shadows, can you tell Ansley is never far behind her big sis?)

Dinner at (Des Moines') NYC Pizza which we all gave a thumb's up. Because it tasted so authentic, we even folded our slices in half to eat them.

And then home for silly party games, presents, and cake.

It's fun for me to watch her grow and take part in new things, but I am trying my best not to throw her out into the world too soon! I am grateful to still have Eden shadow and accompany me for a good part of my day right now.