December 29, 2010

Christmas Vacation

We are having way too much fun during this week with Ted off work and Rhonda with us.  On Monday Charis, Rhonda, and I did some shopping...Charis wanted to use the Michael's gift card that Grandma J had given her for Christmas, and I had a J.C. Penney's gift card from Grandma Shirley for my birthday that I wanted to try to use, since I never go to the mall as a general rule!  Charis found much to her liking at Michael's and happily returned with a bag full of new items to craft with, and I scored a big griddle for our family's pancake mornings (among other uses, LOL)!  It was on sale for $30, regularly $50, and with my gift card and tax, I ended up paying a whopping $6.94.  Woohoo!  We hope to talk Ted into making pancakes tomorrow morning so we don't have to wait until Sunday to see how it works!

Yesterday Ted and I escaped went out for a much-needed date!  The last one we had was in October when my parents were here.  We were hoping to go out for my birthday around Thanksgiving time, but our sitter had company that week and ended up not being able to get away to help us out.  So we were thrilled when Rhonda said she wanted to babysit so we could go out.  FINALLY we enjoyed seeing the new Harry Potter movie, which was very well done.  Though it's been over a year since I last read the book, it seemed like they did a very good job of sticking to the major plot points and staying true to the characters and themes.  We can't wait for the next one to come out!  After the movie (which was an early matinee), we went out for a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and returned home to find Lucan napping and everyone else watching the end of the Polar Express.

Today pretty much everyone played Wii this morning (as they have a LOT this week, LOL) while I escaped to my stamp room to work on some projects.  Now it's afternoon nap time, and I'm uploading some pictures to Facebook and getting ready to head back downstairs to work some more.  Leadership is in just a couple of weeks, and I don't want to leave my swaps to the last minute!

Tonight we're eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see the new Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, another Christmas gift from Rhonda.  We have a sitter for Kenna and Lucan and are pumping Kenna up for her fun night with Miss Rachel!  The older kids are beside themselves with am I!  Hurry up, evening, and come!!

As much as we are trying to be relaxed and laid back, the week still seems to be flying by already.  Sigh.  Guess we'll try to enjoy this break from reality while it lasts!

December 27, 2010

Lovable Lucan

Lucan has been doing some cute things in this phase of his life, so I wanted to record them before we forget and he moves on to other cute things!

He LOVES animals, dogs in particular.  In fact, most animals, in his mind, ARE dogs.  And his word for a canine is a combination of the animal and the sound:  Dah-oof!  He would go into fits of excitement every time I carried him downstairs and he saw our string of Snoopy Christmas lights on the stairs, pointing and saying "Dah-oof!  Dah-oof!" over and over until I let him touch each one.  Then he started pulling off the plastic Snoopy light covers, and finally Mom got tired of finding them on the floor, so Snoopy is gone.  But no worries--Lucan got a big stuffed dog from my parents for Christmas, and the other kids have various stuffed dogs, so there are lots of critters to hug and exclaim over.

Lucan definitely has more words than the last time I blogged; we had politely turned down the offer of some early intervention services that we could have gotten from the referral from the pediatrician, and I'm glad.  Though he still isn't as verbal as other kids his age might be, and though his pronunciation of his few words still lacks perfection, he is doing pretty well at communicating.  Newer words include:
  • milk
  • off
  • hat
  • doof (we're not sure what this means, but he says it a LOT!)
  • those/this 
  • church
  • eye
  • ear
  • head
  • mouth
And of course he chatters to himself frequently in his own little language.  He looks so cute, nodding his head and saying what sounds to us like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah," as if he is participating in actual conversations with us--and I'm sure in his mind, he is!

Lucan loves his daddy and frequently exclaims, "Daddyyyyy!!!!!!"  He does this every time he hears the garage door open, thinking that Dad is home from work, but he also says this while pointing to my dad's picture on the wall...he spent a few days calling Grandpa "Daddy" while I was in Salt Lake City!  And sometimes I am "Daddy," too.  Sigh.  He has been heard saying "Mama," but as usual, Mom gets the shaft, LOL!

His other consistent word is "Ewww," said at appropriate times like diaper changes and when pointing to the trash.

Lucan loves music and will start bobbing his head side to side when he hears any, and if he's up and moving, he may very well dance as well.  He is loving the excitement that has come from our family getting a Wii, and he points the remote and dances on the pad just like the big kids.  In fact, he mimics a LOT of actions that he sees the big kids doing!  Yesterday he threw his hands up in the air and said, "Yes, yes, yes!" just after Arden was cheering over a touchdown he saw on TV!  And he pours a mean cup of tea and passes out "desserts" just like he has seen Kenna do with her new tea set.

He's still my little cuddle bear, loving to be held and snuggled.  His sweet, laid-back personality is a wonderful complement to the other kids' personalities, and I thank God SO much for blessing our family with our little Lucan Thaniel!

December 25, 2010

Celebrating Jesus

After a lovely Christmas Eve service at our church last night, we managed to get the kids tucked in bed and QUIET before too long.  We had unsuccessfully tried for a last-minute Kroger run, having run out of tape for wrapping presents, but unfortunately, everything was closed up for the night.  (What, no one else runs out of tape the night before Christmas?!)  Actually, I'm more prepared than that, just not, apparently, that organized.  I had purchased an 8-pack of refills for my tape dispenser, and we had just finished the first roll.  But I can NOT, for the life of me, find where the other 7 refills are.  Sigh.  On the plus side, the school desk in my room is now spic and span...

Anyway.  After the kids were in bed, dreaming of sugar plums fudge, Ted and I made our way to the play room to set up a plethora of Playmobile toys, which I had gotten for a mere $50 from a homeschool family who was selling a collection worth hundreds of dollars.  I honestly had no idea what all we were getting; it just sounded like something Kenna and Lucan might like for Christmas.  I made the purchase probably two months ago, and when the lady came by the house to drop off the sets and collect her money, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of STUFF that came into our garage!  The lady was so generous to sell all that to us for such a low price!  I was so excited when I saw everything.  We haven't really purchased anything like it for the kids, although one of the boys got a pirate set a few years ago for a birthday.  Ted and I hid the items in one of the basement storage areas that the kids never go into, and when we set everything out in the play room, it took up a respectable amount of space!  This was the year for used gifts, apparently, as we also purchased a used Wii system (see previous post!). 

Ted and I woke at 5:30 to make sure we had everything in place.  Lucan and the girls were up before Tobin and Arden, amazingly!  I couldn't believe we had to wake them at 8:00!  I had homemade frosted cinnamon rolls ready, and we also had fresh kiwi and scrambled eggs with sausage.  We had a wonderful breakfast, letting the kids open their stockings at the same time.  Then we put candles in the cinnamon rolls and sang happy birthday to Jesus, because I just ran out of time to make Jesus' birthday cake (which was supposed to be a cowboy cake at the kids' request).

After breakfast was cleaned up, we read through our Advent book and prayed, and then the kids passed out gifts from our extended family members.  So, we opened the presents from my parents, Joel and Sarah, and Clint and Ski.  Then we told the kids there was a surprise from us in the basement, and they all trooped down and were duly surprised and delighted with what they found in the play room.  Among the Playmobile sets we purchased were a Roman arena/coliseum, pirate ship, airport and airplane (complete with baggage carousel!), Noah's ark, a jungle/zoo, log cabin...and too many animals and people and accessories to count!!  ALL the kids were overjoyed, and even Ted got lost in the mechanics of all the things!  What I love is that there is something for ALL the kids, from 21-month-old Lucan to 10-year-old Charis!  (And 34-year-old Ted, LOL.)

During the ruckus, I slipped away and went to my stamp room to spend a happy 2 hours listening to RadioU's Christmas program on my laptop and playing with some new stamps and accessories from the upcoming Occasions Mini-Catalog.  I designed a new card and then made a dozen thank-you cards...seems I'm always needing those!

Then it was time to put Lucan down for a nap.  We fed him a light lunch (most of his meals have been light this week--I think he's popping another tooth or two) and put him down for a nap.  Then we had cheese and crackers and grapes while watching The Sign of the Beaver, a movie picked by the kids.  Tobin found it when we were at the library last week, and as we had recently finished the book as part of our history studies, we thought it would be fun to watch it come to life.  The kids chose that over Polar Express, which we had borrowed from friends, which was fine with us.  The movie was very well done; a few changes from the book, but they were true to the spirit of the novel and the characters, and I thought the changes emphasized the themes nicely.

When the movie was over, Ted woke Lucan up and took him, Kenna, and Arden to the airport to meet Grandma J!  Tobin and Charis stayed home and helped me clean up our mess from the morning and finish setting the table and preparing our big meal, which we ate nearly as soon as Rhonda walked in the door, as she had had a direct flight all the way from Denver!  We enjoyed a yummy ham, which I heated in the crock pot, and pineapple sauce to go with it; plus cheesy hashbrown potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, and garlic carrots.  After our meal was cleaned up, we did the gift exchange with our own gifts plus Grandma J's, saving the Wii surprise until the very end.  Kenna was happy to play with her new kitchen set, which Charis scored for $5 at a garage sale this summer!  It has a refrigerator, stove, and sink/dishwasher, in three separate pieces, plus a (brand new) tea set.  So while the older folks were busy with the Wii, Kenna was happily making and serving tea and dessert over and over to anyone who would take them!

So the rest of our Christmas evening has been full of silliness, laughing, desserts, and fun.  The kids are now being herded to bed, and I can actually see my family room floor again, LOL. 

I love Christmas, and I love the chaos that comes with sharing it with children!  (Although I did love the quiet moments I was able to share with Ted before anyone else was awake!)  I loved watching Lucan wander around in utter delight, squeezing his new stuffed animals and playing with whatever he saw that caught his fancy.  I loved watching Kenna find her surprise in the "Harry Potter closet" in the basement.  I loved Tobin's look of combined disbelief and utter joy when he realized he was holding a Wii remote.  I loved hearing Charis jump around in excitement when she read my note about ordering her own "Hand Stamped by" stamp.  I loved Arden's big bear hugs and heartfelt "THANKS, MOM!" 

Tomorrow I will love bundling everyone up and going to church to celebrate again the birth of our Savior with our church family, and then I will love coming home to leftover potato chowder (from our Christmas Eve dinner), a nap, and playing the Wii.  I love that my husband is HOME with our family this year, and I don't take that for granted anymore...not when we could very well be on opposite sides of the world in 364 days!  I love that the kids were almost more excited to see us adults open the gifts from the kids than they were to open their gifts from us.  (Of course, it helped that my sweet children gave me the movie Despicable Me!) 

Most of all, I love the fact that God, in His infinite mercy and grace, left the splendor of heaven to come to earth, arriving in the most humble environment amidst extraordinary fanfare.  I'll never get tired of the Advent story, and I'll never tire of waiting for my Savior to return again--this time as a King!

Wii Wish You a Merry Christmas!

I sit down to write after a thrilling game of bowling, in which I scored the highest I ever have in my life and thoroughly trounced the competition--Charis, Tobin, and Arden.  No, we didn't go out to a bowling alley on Christmas day; we're playing our new Wii!

Ted and I had been discussing for awhile the pros and cons of getting a Wii for the family in lieu of Christmas gifts.  On the one hand, we are strangely averse to screen time at our house in general.  (And by "we" I mean "we parents," of course.)  I much prefer to see my kids reading or doing some creative play than sitting in front of a computer or television screen.  But on the other hand, a Wii is so interactive!  We've been jumping and running all over the place the last couple of hours!  And the whole family (minus Lucan, who was very much ready for bed) is talking and laughing together.  This is no ordinary computer game, as I'm sure many other families have already discovered!  I must confess that the possibility of Ted being deployed for a year also factored HEAVILY into this decision, as I am well aware of my limitations and the need we will all have for some space!

So anyway, when I saw a post on our homeschool message board that a family was selling a Wii system along with a few games, I jumped at the offer.  Since she had posted at 1:30 a.m. and I was up at 5:30 a.m., I happened to be the first to respond.  We got the system plus the original Wii Sports, Outdoor Adventure plus the pad that goes with it, and Fitness Coach (which I am looking forward to trying out in an effort to lose all this holiday fudge-pudge).  We did have to locate another remote, but Ted did some Amazon magic and got what we needed.  All in all, we spent less on everything than if we had simply bought the system new, minus any games or pads, so we feel pretty good about our purchase.

We saved the Wii surprise for the very end of the day.  (I'll blog about our whole Christmas day in the next post.)  We gave the stockings back to the kids with various components inside each stocking.  On the count of three, we had them pull out what was inside.  They looked a little puzzled at first, and then we said something like, "Do you think maybe we need something to make all these things work?"  The look on their faces when they realized what was going on was priceless!!  There was much jumping and dancing around, quite a few "Woohoos!", and lots of hugs and "Thank you, Mom and Dad!"

Setting up the "Miis" was an adventure in and of itself, and we laughed ourselves silly picturing Arden with a beard and Grandma J bald.  We've all had some turns, and although some kids have been miffed now and then with what they felt was an unfair decision as to whose turn it was to do what, for the most part the kids have been good sports and are having a ball.

I think Wii made the right decision. :-)

December 19, 2010

More Random Stuff

Yay!  Another busy weekend is OVER!  It was way fun, with a lot of very different but great activities, but I have to confess that I am happy to put the bustle behind me and truly concentrate on getting our home and family ready for Christmas Day.

Friday morning I hosted 6 of my local downline members for a holiday brunch.  It was a potluck, and I made cheesy hashbrown potatoes and a kale fritatta.  We brainstormed ways to improve our stamp camps, having had our last one in November and learning the hard way that our projects were WAY overboard!  I'm excited about the changes we've come up with, and I'm actually looking forward to planning another one for March--not something you would have heard me say a month ago!  After our business planning, we did a handmade gift exchange, played some games, and just enjoyed one another's company.

Friday evening our family hosted our once-a-month family community.  We shared pizza and lots of Christmas goodies and had the biggest white elephant gift exchange I think I have ever been a part of!  There were 28 gifts, and only a couple were stolen--Arden's holey socks were not one of those, LOL.  Another fun gathering.

Saturday morning we all herded over to church for Kids' Street Live rehearsal.  Ted and I just love being a part of this ministry and are excited that this will be happening monthly starting in February rather than every other month.  We have a blast with the team involved--it's so fun that we almost feel guilty calling it ministry!

After we were finished, I took off on my own to grab some lunch and do our grocery shopping for the next 2 1/2 weeks or so.  I did make a little side trip to get one more Christmas present for my hubby, but he'll have to wait to find out what it is, LOL!  In the evening Charis and I went to the cast & crew party from her play, which finished last weekend.  I actually enjoyed it, though I hardly knew anyone there.  The kids involved in the production are fantastic, and they all adored Charis.  (Well, the girls...I can't speak for the boys, LOL.)  They all gave her hugs and told her how cute she looked, etc.  I enjoyed getting to know them a little better, and it makes me excited for the relationship we can have with our own kids and their friends as they get older and start to do these "hang out" kinds of things.  (Boy, do I feel old even saying that!!)  We only stayed about half of the time (it was a 4-hour time slot), as we had planned to have a movie night as a family.

So, back at home, we all piled on the couch (minus Lucan, of course, who was in bed) and watched Legend of the Guardians, the movie based on the book series we have been reading.  It was pretty well done; we all enjoyed it, and we agreed that they kept the flavor of the storyline, even though there were some major changes.  (There had to be--they crammed 3 of the 15 books into one movie!)

Today we were at church all morning to rehearse and then run the Kids' Street Live program, then stayed for the second service.  Ted and I decided we deserved a break, and we surprised the kids and took them to Red Robin for lunch.  It has been a LONG time since we went out to eat as a family!  (Chick-Fil-A doesn't count, LOL!)  Lucan was very well behaved and had a ball just looking around at everything.  Kenna made two potty trips during our meal, but other than that, there were no weird incidents--just a nice family outing.  Whew!

We had about 2 hours at home, and then I hosted 5 ladies for a hostess appreciation party.  We made a fun project and chatted together, a nice way to finish my 2010 business year.

Aaaaaaand now, all my events are OVER!!!  We have Grandma J's visit to look forward to--she'll fly in on Christmas Day and stay a week.  Now it's time to cuddle up with my hubby, enjoy some snacks, and watch the Survivor finale and reunion!!

December 11, 2010


Oh. My. GOODNESS!  Where is time going?!  I knew this would be one of our busiest holiday seasons to date, but good grief!  My online time has been limited to work for my business with only brief moments to hop on and see something on Facebook.  I haven't read anyone else's blog, and I obviously haven't updated ours, either.  This post may simply serve as a reminder to myself of why I didn't journal anything in the last two weeks, as I'm sure any readers I may have have given up on me, LOL!

The week after Thanksgiving my parents came out to help watch the kids while I flew to Salt Lake City for a quick business-related trip.  The kids AND the grandparents had a ball, and it was such a blessing for them to be together.  Ted was crazy busy at work, and I would not have been able to go if Mom and Dad hadn't taken the time to drive out.  Another bonus of them coming when they did was that they got to attend the opening night of Charis's play (A Christmas Carol) that Friday.  I stayed home with Kenna and Lucan and spent some quality girl time with Kenna after we put Lucan to bed.  The boys and the grands enjoyed the performance, and Charis had a blast.  I was able to see the show on Sunday afternoon when I volunteered to usher.

The day after I returned home I had a Stampin' Up! home workshop, the first in a month.  Though we had a major snowstorm which prevented a number of people from showing up (they were going to be driving in from a considerable distance), there were STILL eight people there!!  And 4 of them booked their own workshops!  Such a blessing.  All the ladies are Christians, too, so it was just a wonderful time of fellowship and a big encouragement to me with my business.

This past week we continued to do school but took Thursday afternoon and Friday off.  Thursday evening was the annual homeschool craft sale for the kids, and though Charis couldn't be there because of her play schedule, the boys and I went to sell some cookies and gift sacks they had made, plus the items Charis had made for our dismal craft event back in November.  Charis did much better at the homeschool sale without even being there!  She earned nearly $30, and the boys got a total of $15, which they promptly spent at other tables, LOL. 

Yesterday Ted took a day of leave to go with us on our field trips to Columbus.  We toured a chocolate factory--very interesting!  We got a free "Buckeye" at the end (better known as a peanut-butter ball in my family!), so the kids thought that tour was definitely worthwhile!  After that we went a little ways away to the only American whistle factory and had a very enjoyable tour given by the president/owner of the company.  It was a much smaller (and noisier!) place, but fun to hear about an American business.  I never really thought about how whistles are made!  And now we all have our own whistle with lanyard and safety guard.  We each picked different colors and mostly kept our self-control during the looong drive home afterward.  (But who taught Lucan to blow a whistle, anyway?!)  Reading our Sonlight read-aloud (The Witch of Blackbird Pond) and the fifth book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series helped the drive go much faster.  We had to hustle once we got home to get Charis to the theater on time, and then I helped at the table selling flowers and raffle tickets.

This morning we left early to go to a "free" chiropractic appointment--we donated canned goods for the food pantry in exchange for a free adjustment.  Woohoo!  Two bags worth of groceries was a lot less than our usual bill, LOL.  Then we met Ted at church to swap vehicles, and Charis and I stayed at church to set up for our Kitchen Kindness ministry team brunch, which was a wonderful success.  There were about 20-22 people there, just about half of our team, and it was such a blessing to visit with everyone and share stories.  We played some games (that I totally stole from the KK brunches from Las Vegas!) and laughed a lot and of course ate yummy food. 

Now we have a few hours with NOTHING SCHEDULED!!!  What's that like?!  Charis has another performance tonight and one last one tomorrow afternoon, after which we strike the stage and have the cast party.  And THEN things will slow down...until next weekend, when I host a downline Christmas party Friday morning, take the kids to the homeschool skate/gingerbread house decorating party Friday afternoon, and host our family community Christmas party Friday evening...followed by Kids' Street Live rehearsal Saturday morning, grocery shopping Saturday afternoon, KSL performance Sunday, and hostess appreciation party Sunday evening!!!  (WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!) we all know why I haven't blogged, LOL!  Two weeks 'til Christmas, and I'm so far behind it just doesn't even matter!  We read our Advent book and do the Advent calendar whenever we have a few moments...we swap the numbers on our Christmas countdown calendar when we remember...and we know our families love us even if their packages arrive after Christmas day, heh!  (Although I am patting myself on the back for getting Mom and Dad's gifts to them when they were here last week!  Woohoo!)  Despite the busyness of our schedule, we're trying to keep things in perspective...if the house is messy before we rush out the door to an activity, so be it.  If dinner is leftovers, oh well!  The kids are excited and are enjoying the decorations, the music, and the snow that comes and goes, and I'm praying that they'll remember the joy of the season and not how stressed their parents were over silly details that don't matter in the scheme of eternity.  With being so busy this year, I am all too aware that my tendency would be to get upset and let the stress overtake me--but God has been so gracious to give us good family time together, and we've worked well as a team to balance our various responsibilities.