Sunday, December 30, 2012

Simple Mommy's Daybook

I've used this format a couple times on my other blog. A nice way to share some thoughts without having a major anything in mind when beginning.

Today, December 30, 2012

I am thinking . . . about my new calling as a Relief Society teacher, released from the nursery today (still in Webelos and scout committee chair).  When I asked what week I teach I was told that they rotate, so I'm looking forward to seeing the schedule so I can start reading up.  The conference talks are always great to discuss, and I read up on Lorenzo Snow when I first got the call and it would be exciting to share his words too.  I'll miss those littles in nursery, though, and I'm wondering how Madeleine will do with me not there.  She did great before, but now she's used to me being there.

I am hoping . . . Adam works into his new calling well, on the stake youth dance committee.  A pretty ironic calling for someone that has no desire to go to them.  He's only been to one, when a bunch of his homeschool friends were going to one in a different stake.  Adam has also been officially hired again to work at Camp Bartlett this summer.  No need to ease into that one.

In the kitchen . . . Melanie has been cooking up a storm.  She got a cookbook for Christmas, and she's already tried out several recipes.  Today she made some almond poppyseed bread - yum!  Fun to see her working on that talent.  I love that she's only 11 and I can send her to the kitchen to make us something for dinner.  I know I couldn't do that when I was her age.

I am reading . . . mainly the scriptures lately, trying to keep up with the part of the scripture challenge that I committed with myself to do.  After a long wait at the temple yesterday, I'm caught up again with where I'm supposed to be.  I'm also working on "In His Steps," a perfect read for December.  At the library the other day I picked up a few final Christmas picture books that finally got to us on the holds list.  We already read a  bunch, and found some new favorites this year.

I am looking forward to . . . I know the snow just arrived, but it would be nice if we could have a snow break so Erin could enjoy the bike she got for Christmas.  She took it for its first spin today and ended up slipping on some ice.  Hard to compare needing the moisture with your sweet little girl dying to ride her bike!

Around the house . . . the Christmas tree came down two days after Christmas.  The front room was pretty cramped, so it's nice to enjoy that extra space again.  We seem to have a lot more yarn hanging around the house since Christmas.  The three older girls wanted yarn and yarn and yarn to practice their new crocheting talents.  It ended up being whole family fun getting their skeins rolled into balls, so they'll run into fewer knots while they are in the middle of some project.

Carolyn (or half of her), Marni, and Adam rolling up yarn

I am creating . . . some fun crochet bags for the girls (not made with crochet, made with fabric, for their crochet stuff).  I made one for a friend, then Melanie and Carolyn both wanted their own.  Melanie wanted to give one to Carolyn for Christmas so she picked all the fabric, then I surprised her with one of her own.  I still need to finish them before they are ready to use, but very, very cute, even if I do say so myself.

Fun from last week . . . Friday evening we went to Zoo Lights and then to Temple Square.  The lights at the zoo were a lot of fun, but it was cool seeing the zoo at night and discovering who was awake and who wasn't.  True to pretty much every other zoo trip, we got to see something new - a snake shedding its skin.  It only took a few minutes, so it was perfect timing to catch it.  It was cooooolllld!  Thankfully the zoo had heaters here and there to stop and warm up at, and we warmed up with chocolate milk between the zoo and temple square.

"Oh great heater!  Give us your warmth!"

Warming up by dragon fire

The snake post shedding.

For a little adventure . . . a new Panda Express opened up in our area, and they had their grand opening yesterday, giving away free food all day.  The three oldest and I headed over and got in line just before 9pm., and left with our food at about 9:45.  Fun hanging out with my bigs.

Adam does his best to avoid pictures lately.  Had to be sneaky to get him.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . besides celebrating the new year tomorrow evening, I really need to look at what's happening when for January and get my calendar updated.

A favorite quote for the today . . . "Little did I know that in the days and years ahead on this campus, I would make decisions that would define the rest of my life" (Rosemary Wixom, "Coming to Know").  To explain, Jamie was listening to this talk yesterday in his car, then I took his car for a bit and finished the talk, then started it over at the beginning and didn't quite get to where I had started.  Shortly after I started listening she said something that got me thinking about some of my personal sacred places, then when I started it from the beginning I realized that that was a big part of what her talk was about.  It's wonderful to think about places that stand out as especially important in my life.  One specific was my family moving to Twin Falls when I was in high school.  The quote above continues with the following, and I feel exactly the same about my time there.  "It was here that I discovered I had my own beliefs, and I was faced with defending my faith.  I made lifelong friends.  My prayers became more sincere.  My testimony began to grow.  I learned it was a personal choice to stand up for my standards and stretch myself academically and spiritually."  A good talk.  You should read/listen to it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve is seafood night at my in-laws.  Crab, scallops, shrimp, salmon, oh my!  I hadn't eaten much seafood until I married Jamie, but since he grew up near Portland and San Francisco, his family are definite seafood fans.  Probably my favorite dish of the night is this clam chowder.  Delicious!

While we are there, we open pajamas from Jamie's parents.  We all look forward to our new jammies.

After we're back home, the Christmas stockings that Santa fills get hung on the couch.  I still have my stocking my mom made when I was little, and when we got married mom made Jamie one.  As each of the kids have come along I made theirs, although I was super surprised Christmas Eve when they were pulled out and Madeleine didn't have one that I had made.  She used the old standby Winnie-the-Pooh one we have for their first Christmas or two, and I'll have to get her official one made sooner than later (so I don't get surprised again next year!).

After kids are all in bed, besides all the final Christmas preparation, we have to set a few booby traps.  This tradition goes back to my dad.  To keep us from peeking during the night, my dad would set booby traps.  His most elaborate included some super bright lights attached to a motion sensor.  After tiptoeing upstairs from the basement, we turned into the kitchen and SHAZAM!  It usually involved stacks of cans and such, though.  At our house I've used bubble wrap down the hallway, a bell hanging on their doorknob, and a new one this year that I quickly took down when they never hit it so I can use it in the future (mwa-ha-ha!).  I'm sure my dad didn't sleep much, waiting more for the booby traps to go off than because of any Christmas excitement.  At my mom's family's Christmas party this year, her siblings shared their own Christmas morning present peeking stealth tactics, including checking months ahead for squeaky spots in the hallway, and crawling through their laundry chute.  My boys were listening closely, so I thought I would be in for big trouble this year.  Several of the kids got up for the bathroom, and I kept listening for someone to venture down the hallway and hit the other booby trap, but no one ever did.  Maybe next year!

Christmas morning begins with a glass of orange juice.  This tradition began with my dad's family. The intent is to get something good in their stomach before they hit their stockings.  We didn't have any trouble this year, but in the past we've had someone suddenly decide they don't like orange juice, someone that says it's too cold, or someone that sips and sips slowly, but the show just cannot go on until everyone has had their cup of orange juice.

Our tree isn't one of those "perfect" trees, all matchy matchy.  Every year my mom's side of the family has an ornament exchange so we all get new ornaments from that, and we usually add one or two each from other venues (my mom, sometimes me if I'm on top of it) each year too.  I wrote this 5 years ago about our tree, but we have several other favorites now, like 2 flamingos from my brother's family in Florida, some Ravens (because of Jamie's and my Wood Badge critter), and hand print Christmas balls my mom made for each of the kids.

Mom passes out the presents, sibling presents to each other first.  I've gone more and more simple every year, and I think this year has been the best so far.  Not a lot of crazy excess.  Useful gifts that help further the kids' talents.  Between us and the grandmas, the girls have a mountain of yarn.  Love it!

After we enjoy things here at home for a while, we head off to each of the grandparents' homes for a while.  We hit both just right this year, and were there while our siblings were also at each of the grandparents' houses.  We love being around them all, but Sundays have been ultra busy this year (and I imagine with late church next year it will be even harder), so we haven't seen them as much as we like.

When we're done making the rounds, it's lovely to head back home and create a little order out of the chaos.

We all feel extremely blessed.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Big Bath Bubbles

I don't remember who figured this out, but one of my kiddos' favorite bath time activities is making big bubbles with their arms.  I would post actual pictures, but . . . you know.  I've been looking through some pictures from the year (many of which would be fun to add for the stories to tell about them), and I saw these pictures that I took once so I could share the fun.

Here's how it works.

Step 1:  Get your arms, underarms, and chest nice a soapy.  Make sure it's a wet soapy, because if it's not wet enough it doesn't work well.

Step 2:  Hold your arms closely at your sides and wrapped together close in the front (see picture #1).

Step 3:  While keeping everything tight against your body, move shoulders and arms up and down a few times.

Step 4:  Very slowly and carefully pull your arms away from your body (see picture #2).  You can tell really quick if you've got a bubble or not.  If not, try again.  If you do, congratulations!

From here, it's play time.  Move your arms up and down to make your bubble go up and down, blow on it, poke soapy fingers through it but try not to pop it at the same time, or see if you can make your circle with just fingertips touching.  Of course there are always those times when someone has been having a bad bubble day, they've worked really hard to get one, and someone pops it.  But we have to do this almost every time someone is in the bath.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Week in a Minute (or Two!)

Our lovely piano teacher/choir teacher/girls group leader had another wonderful day of cookie making and crocheting at her house Tuesday.  She is such a sweet and gentle woman, and I love my girls being around her.  There is a peacefulness in her home, even when I walk in at the end of their fun and it looks like this.  (Sadly, they had cleaned up a lot of their yarn mess before I got there.  A picture the week before would have been mucho better.)

Wednesday a little friend from the neighborhood was over playing with Madeleine.  They had played very quietly most of the time so I didn't think much about not seeing them for a while.  Suddenly I heard Erin say, "Madeleine!" with that certain pitch in it (I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about).  I found them quickly - Madeleine had decorated herself a bit, but she had decorated her friend in black marker almost head to toe (they were both mid-wardrobe change).  Can't tell you the relief I felt when I noticed it was dry erase marker, and flashed immediately to a friend writing about how they had used dry erase markers to draw on each other's faces because it is so easy to get off. After Madeleine's little experiment, I'm very happy to say that was.  Whew!

Wednesday is also my Webelos day, and this week we went on a super amazing field trip to my eye doctor's office.  We've been working on the Scientist activity badge, and part if it involved going to a place a scientist works and talking to them about how they use science.  Dr. Judkins was amazing with the boys.  I think he planned on just showing a few here and there things he does, like give a quick exam to one boy, and take a picture of one of the boys' eye, but they were so into everything that he ended up doing those on all the boys.  They LOVED it.  I would post pictures, but kiddo privacy and all that.

Adam and Sammy both interviewed to work at Camp Bartlett on Friday.  Adam was excited and confident.  Sam was on the nervous side.  We're supposed to hear sometime before Christmas.  We love going to the scout office, because we love visiting with the great people that work there.  It always reiterates to me what a great organization scouting is.

On our way home we pass an Arctic Circle, and it's hard to pass up 59 cent ice cream cones (and I get off easy being the hero mom!).  Before handing Madeleine's back I always give it a few good licks to get it started, but when we got on our way I was watching the road and not Madeleine, and apparently neither was anyone else.  When we finally did it was already a mess, so I tried to help at red lights (even slowing way down so we would hopefully hit them), but at one point the cone was just mush and she had a wad of ice cream in her hand.  Note to self - pay more attention to her ice cream next time.

Friday evening the kids had a choir performance with the Light Side Choir, full of homeschoolers ranging in ages from 5 to 16.  The kids did a wonderful job.  Carolyn and Erin sang beautiful solos, Adam was part of a little dancing choreography during one song, and Melanie sang in smaller groups a couple of times.  Sammy does his best to not have to be seen too much.  Madeleine played with her little marker friend and they both helped lead the music from their chairs once in a while.  Thanks again to our amazing piano teacher/choir teacher/girls group leader! 

Sunday (today) our kids sang "Heavenly Choirs," one of their choir songs, in sacrament meeting with the kids in another family also in the ward and choir.  They did a beautiful job, with Melanie singing a solo for the first part and the others all joining her on the second.  Melanie, Carolyn, and Erin sang the same song at the Barker family Christmas party tonight, with my cousin, Stephanie, accompanying.  I knew this song somehow before they sang it with the choir, but I still haven't been able to figure out how.  The words are "Heavenly choirs must have had children singing along when they came to the earth.  Jesus, I know, loves little children, so I imagine they sang at his birth.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Had I been there I would have sung.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Praise to the Lord, praise to His son.  Praise to the Lord, praise to His son."  Beautiful.

And hooray - snow!  In December it just feels like there should be snow, and it starts to get worrisome when there isn't any.  Jamie and I enjoyed watching our cute little girls playing in the backyard.  Madeleine started throwing snow at Carolyn and Erin, and they were so sweet to just take it, even when it went down coat collars.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Atomic Chutes and Ladders, Cousins, Drowning

Carolyn pulled out Chutes and Ladders tonight and wanted to play with me.  Game play was fast - she grabbed a 20 sided dice for some reason.  With 100 squares on the board, most of the dice options really make it move.  Jamie termed it Atomic Chutes and Ladders.

Sam and Melanie joined us for a game, and though there are 4 little people included in the game, Mel used one of Madeleine's rocks for hers.  She was one fast rock.  Got to the big long ladder and left the rest of us in her dust.

One game was enough for Sam, but Melanie stuck around and Adam jumped in.  At one point those two were rolling on the ground laughing.  The kid pulling the kitty's tail square is 20 squares away from the bottom of that slide (kid getting scratched by kitty).  Melanie hit the top of the slide and had to go down, went enough squares to land her exactly on the middle of the slide, then enough to be right back on the top.  Back down to the bottom.  Then she rolled a 20.  Awesome.

We got to take cousin Ben with us to church today.  Mommy not feeling well, so we offered to help out.  He enjoyed nursery with Madeleine and I, and was great through sacrament meeting.  Funny thing - Melanie and I walked out of ward choir a few hours later and there was Ben and his family arriving for tithing settlement.  They had woken Ben up to go so he wasn't happy, so Melanie took the boys to the nursery again and played for a while.  It's good to serve, especially when we love them so much.

Yesterday afternoon Madeleine and Carolyn had a bath.  Erin has taught Madeleine that if you get water in your eyes you should keep your eyes closed and cry, and only stop when you get a towel to dry your eyes off (Carolyn is trying to teach her it's FUN! but she hasn't learned yet).  In a bath, water is inevitably going to get in the eyes, especially if she doesn't obey the "look up while I'm rinsing you off so the water runs back!" rule.  So of course the inevitable happened and Madeleine started the necessary cry.  It was better than normal.  "I need a towel!" (as I'm still rinsing, knowing she's perfectly fine) "I need a big towel!" (then raises her hand way up high, with eyes still closed and still crying) "I need a towel this big!"  Must have been a loooot of water in those eyes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Mommy, there's a rock in my nose."

Reason #127 to have lots of children - there are more of them to try all the fun things the others didn't do.

What seemed like a pretty calm day took a turn when Miss M walked in to the kitchen and told me, "Mommy, there's a rock in my nose."

This girl gathers rocks everywhere we go.  Packs them around, sleeps with them, you name it.  She climbed in bed with us a couple nights ago, and the next night when we were headed for bed we found five rocks under our pillows and blankets.  A rock made it in her nose a few months ago, but it came out pretty easily so I had totally forgotten about it.  This one wasn't so easy.

After trying to pull it out or have her sniff it out, we attempted tweasers (another nope) and going over and behind it with a little screwdriver (another nope).  A pediatrician friend of mine had posted on facebook about something called the "mother's kiss" method, where mom covers the childs mouth with her mouth, plugs the unobstructed nostril, and blows.  Apparently sometimes this works really well.  Sometimes.  I tried it a few times before we left, on the way, and after we got there.  The rock came down closer (we could always see it), but it still just wouldn't come out.  We got right in with a pediatrician since our regular doc was leaving the office soon, and after one failed try with a tweezery thing, he used something normally used for ears, reached in behind it, and was able to get it out (kind of like what I was attempting with the screwdriver).

Miss M was great, holding really still for the doctor.  She had fallen asleep on the way to the doctor's office and was still asleep when he first tried, but even the minor movement in her nose was waking her up (can you blame her?), so I woke her up, talked to her for a moment, and she let him do his job.

Funny, when we were at home trying different methods she got a bit fussy at one point.  I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "I want to play with my rock!"

Asleep before the doc came in.  Look to the right.

The famous rock

Welcome to Our Home

I have this amazing friend, that though she homeschools, just gave birth to her 10th child, and with her husband moved their entire family to Hungary while almost 8 months pregnant, she still has time to write fun jottings about her family goings on.  I'm far better at journaling than I think I've ever been, but keeping track of family greatness, not-so-greatness, humor, sadness, highlights, excitement, adventure, and fun is sorely lacking.

Not for the weak-hearted, these are our Hall ways.