Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December Dizziness....

My hope was to finish getting December blogged before the month (and year) ended. Looks like I'm just making it! I wanted to record some of our Christmas memories now that the madness has calmed down and I can actually look back at the pictures and smile and think...maybe I can do this again next year. I know these things mean a lot to my children, so that makes it all worthwhile for Steve and I.

A family in our ward invited us to go on a caroling hayride with them for Family Home Evening a couple of weeks ago. It was a chilly evening -- raining somewhat, but hard to tell until we would shake off the umbrella and see all of this water come off of it. But since we have no snow here, it made it feel all the more festive.

Another Sunday prior to Christmas was spent decorating gingerbread houses....one for the girls, one for the boys. We also had fun decorating some gingerbread people also. I think Josh had the most fun - mainly eating all of that candy.

Now look at these 2 matching smiles....see why we call him "chompers"?

Painting Christmas cookies is another tradition my family WILL NOT allow us to do without. Steve's mom did this activity with he and his siblings growing up, so now my kids are sharing the same kind of fun. This is so smart -- you put egg yokes in individual bowls and then add food coloring...this is the paint used to paint the sugar cookies once they are cut out. We also use sprinkles for extra embellishment. Then bake and DONE! Each child then picks out their most beautiful painted cookie to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Steve's sister, Terri, and her family hold an annual Christmas Eve Party that my family looks forward to attending every year. We all bring a favorite appetizer to share for dinner and then we break a pinata - the Christmas Eve pinata tradition was started by Steve when he was in H.S. Then we proceed to the all-so-popular white elephant present game. And finish the evening with a reading of the Christmas story in Luke and cherry cheese pie. Most of the time, we're done by 8pm so we can get the kiddies home and ready for bed before Santa arrives.

Terri was tired of the pinatas breaking so quickly so she decided to make her own this year. Her pride and joy!

Waiting for the white elephant game to begin!

Actually, on Christmas Eve, we had a slumber party at my house consisting of my sister, Katie, and my newlywed brother Bryce and new bride, Heidi. None of them wanted to make the early drive in the morning (my brother lives in Maricopa) - wanting to be up to see my kids first wake up. My parents are also snow birds in Mesa and drove over early in the morning to arrive before the kids were up (this is their 10th year with us). So this made 12 of us Christmas morning -- let me tell you, that's ALOT of stockings for poor Santa to fill. We love the large group, even though it takes up a couple of hours to open presents. And a larger living room or family room would be nice to accommodate this crowd, but we made due! The more the merrier!

The kids all have to come down together Christmas morning....

I would say the theme this year would be bikes and ripstiks...

Then on to opening stockings and then a breakfast of Christmas breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, and hot chocolate.

Steve loved his new BON JOVI shirt and hat.....

And Joseph LOVED his ORANGE bike. Actually, all of the kids were happy with what Santa gave them.

So then, I guess it's Merry Christmas to all....and to all a good night! Until next year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Well, Christmas cards just did not go out this year -- for the first time in .... I don't know... a LONG time. Truth be told, I'm just not feeling it this year -- but hopefully most of those near and dear to my hear read my blog....hopefully. This month has just flown by so quickly -- and I've been having a hard time feeling that "Christmas Spirit"...but it's my own fault -- more service is on the list for next year, that always helps. That and a reminder to myself to START EARLIER AND DO LESS. I seem to forget that every year. So to all of our friends and family members, we wish you great peace and comfort in the message of this season of Christmas and thank all of you for your love and friendship.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Season Finally Over!

Well, after spending the past few months coaching Jeff's basketball team, Steve gets his life back again. Their last game was Saturday night -- we don't want to talk about how many games they won or LOST for that matter....do we? Believe me, we don't want to go there. Steve says the important thing is that the boys had fun and continued to learn the fundamentals of the game. Jeff had a great season and we saw a lot of progress - okay, so Steve saw alot of progress, I'd have an opinion if I actually went to more than one game. But who feels like chasing around 4 other kids. Way to go guys!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ward Christmas Party...

I know, I'm quick. We just returned home from our Ward Christmas Party where the theme was a Country-Western Christmas. My kids are finally in bed, and I've never uploaded a video before, so I was anxious to give it a try.

Starr and several girls her age in the ward are in a clogging class together -- they performed at the party tonight and did such a terrific job.

Steve played a duet with another ward member (Bro. Hulsoff). He also did a great a job playing "The Little Drummer Boy" so well and respectfully, even through we know the rocker in him wanted to just jam out.

And of course, no Christmas party is complete without a visit from Santa (again) --- Josh wanted NOTHING to do with him this time. No candy cane in the world was worth it in his opinion.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Visits with Santa

With an afternoon available on Saturday and beautiful warm weather - we decided to spend some family time at our Christmas HOA fair just a few blocks away from our house...and perfect for my budget since so much of it was FREE. An extra bonus was having pictures with Santa overwith...not that we don't enjoy it, but one less thing to have to worry about this season. My little ones were so excited....

Josh wasn't quite sure what to think. Actually, we're suprised he would even sit on Santa's lap. Don't ya just love that look on his face??

Sorry, no pictures of Jeff. He said we couldn't pay him enough money to pose with Santa.

They had a few drawings, and his is what we won. A Home Depot bucket full of an assortment of tools. Steve was thrilled. I kinda liked the wind-up flash light with built-in radio. My kids thought it was the
worst prize ever! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend in Review

It's been a fun 4 days....and seemed to go by so quickly.

On Thanksgiving day, my parents and sister came over for dinner. This is probably the smallest group I've hosted/or helped to host in a LONG TIME....but all the more fun. Notice my nice china....it's even green. Nothing but the good stuff for my guests. And this is the cute little "thankful tree" my kids were in charge of making. This is our 3rd year with this tradition and it gives the kids something to do while I finish up dinner. Everyone writes down on the paper leaves several things they are thankful for and then, after dinner, we read them and guess who wrote them. Pretty fun. Most of the good pictures are on my dad's camera....which I will download later.....I didn't get many since my battery was dead and my charger was MIA.

Also, right before dinner, Emaree fell down the stairs...the first set, anyway. We didn't think much of it until during dinner she kept whining about not being able to get up and get things....it wasn't until then that we finally looked at it and saw it was beginning to swell. I know....good parents....turns out it was a sprain and she stayed off of it the first day or two....and fortunately, we still had Starr's crutches from when Starr broke her foot last year on Christmas Eve, so she was using them the rest of the weekend. However, as of tonight....she seems as good as new...just in time to go back to school...hurray!

Hummm...other fun things we did this weekend... Terri (my sister-in-law) and I, of course, had to get up early, 5:00 am, Friday and do our Black Friday shopping. The crowds were minimal compared to what we were used to. And, for the first time ever, we were able to get everything on our list. My favorite find? At Macy's I found a regular priced $50 skirt - completely adorable- marked down to $5. Okay, not a gift..something for myself...hey, aren't I allowed to do that?

Family pictures were taken on Friday afternoon. Not really fun -- more nerve racking, and I'm so very glad to have it over with - I think I'd almost rather have a root canal.

Steve, Jeff along with 4 of both of their friends went to the ASU vs. UCLA football game Friday night (thanks again, Bert, for the tickets) -- Steve says one of the best games he's been to. They had such a great time! If it wasn't for the defense that scored the 4 touch downs, 2 from interceptions and the rest from fumbles, they wouldn't have won the game.

By Saturday, this head cold thing going around (and I think staying up until Midnight the night before screaming at ASU didn't help) caused Steve to feel horrible and he stayed down most of the day. He did find enough energy earlier in the day to help me move some furniture around and set up the Christmas tree. It's so nice to have most of Christmas set up. Next weekend, we'll work on the outside of the house.

We enjoyed our Sunday today -- we finished decorating our tree with the kids and had fun playing with them. Now on to the countdown to Christmas.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joseph's Big 6!!

It's so much more fun to write about happy occasions....especially when it entails a certain adorable blond haired little boy turning the big 6 years old today! This kid knew exactly what he wanted -- from the types of gifts to how he wanted to celebrate. I love a kid who can make a decision -- no wishy washy stuff going on here.

And since my young mother journal writing ambition has gone by the wayside, I need to take a moment to record the things I love so much about my little Joseph (these reminders are good to look back on...if ya know what I mean).

**He plays sooo well with ALL of my kids -- from Jeff down to Josh. He just gets along with everyone!

**I really was disappointed when I found they had FULL day kindergarten --- he's so much fun to have at home -- not to mention great entertainment for Josh, but really --- I miss him!

**Soooo loving -- loves to give me TONS of hugs and kisses. Big time "mommy's boy" and I love it!
**No kid loves monkeys and the color orange more than this one, which makes him so unique -- not just a passing phase....it's been a couple of years now.
We love you, Joseph...you light up our lives....happy birthday, buddy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Feeling Blue....

I've dreaded this day for sometime now....

I really do okay the other 364 days, but not this one. I'm entitled to one day to feel sorry for myself, aren't I? I need at least one day to REALLY miss her, have a good cry, and even be selfishly angry. Amanda would turn 16 today. Steve and I should be taking her to get her drivers license soon, worrying about her starting to date, and dealing with the difficulties and joys of having a teenage girl, but instead we get to just grieve today. I couldn't sleep tonight --- so I came downstairs to read through her very short journal I kept for her and look through her pictures. I thought I'd share a couple of journal entries....

November 18, 1995

Amanda's 3rd birthday was on Thursday. She was up at the crack of dawn (6:30am) ready to celebrate. Grammie and grandpa made her french toast, then we got her ready for school -- mom was going with her to work at her preschool (she loves it when mom goes to school with her!) Daddy stayed home and watched baby Jeffrey. She had a great time at school - her teacher, Mrs. Green, made her a birthday crown and her class sang "Happy Birthday" to her. Then she and mom did some errands wearing her birthday crown everywhere she went so that everyone would know it was her birthday. She was thrilled about the Barney balloon at Wal-Mart I bought for her. Amanda fell asleep on the way home and dad carried her into the house and she slept for 3 hours -- very unusual for her to even take a nap. But it worked out great, I was able to decorate the dining room and bake her cake. Later Katrina came over and babysat while her dad, grandpa and I went to a ward adult dinner. She had a great time with Katrina -- as soon as we all got home around 7:30, we let her have cake, ice cream and presents. She received a lot of Lion King presents and just loved her birthday. She's been wanting to have another birthday everyday since then.

There's been such a big change in Amanda lately -- she's just acting more grown up and she plays by herself so much better. She's just talking different. Today, we were driving in the car and she told me she wanted me happy and she wanted to see me smile. What a cutie! She's just about fully pottie trained -- I'm so proud of her! She loves going to school and playing with her friends. She's so quiet at school, but at home she's just a little chatter box. She still loves her trips to the library and reading her books every night until we take them back and check her out more. She's constantly making up songs with her daddy and is developing quite the sense of humor. She talks so clearly and adores her 13 week old brother. She's the best little helper a mom could have.

Okay, I have to add one more entry...this one made me smile...

October 1, 1996 (Almost 4)

Amanda bore her testimony in Sacrament meeting yesterday for the first time. Halfway through the meeting she kept bugging her mom and dad to take her up the podium to have her turn. Her persistence paid off, and towards the end of the meeting her dad took her up to the stand to bear her testimony. She spent the first 3 minutes (literally) saying "What dad?" repeatedly every time he whispered something to her to say. She finally blurted out "I'm thankful for my primary teachers." After which, was followed by about 2 more minutes of "What dad?" She then managed to say "I'm thankful for Jeffrey." This was again followed by a couple more "What dad?" Then "I'm thankful for mommy and Jeffrey." Then you could hear Steve whisper something about being thankful for a Prophet, after which she looked at him puzzled and replied VERY LOUDLY... "I AM NOT!" She ended there. She did great for the first time! Her parents are very proud.

Sorry I have to grieve so publicly today -- but actually, I'm feeling better now. I'll spend time with my kids today talking about Amanda, and fortunately there's church and scout meetings and then dinner with my parents and siblings at my house tonight. Enough to make this day go by quickly - which is really what I need. Thank heaven for Forever Families!! I'd be a billion times worse today without that knowledge. Tonight I'll say a prayer of gratitude for the 5 wonderful years we were blessed to have her in our lives -- we miss her dearly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Starr's New Look!

Hey, this is Starr! Guess what? I got glasses! I can't believe the world looks like this! I can't believe everyone around me looks and sees the world like this. The world looks so pretty now that I can really see it! I first realized I needed glasses at the beginning of the school year. I haven't been answering many questions at school and I could not see the board. So now that I have glasses I can start doing better in school.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who Doesn't Love a Parade??

I know it already....my kids have been deprived. They have spent their whole entire short lives without ever going to a parade. Yes, even a Disney parade. I guess that's what happens when you live in a large city --- we hate to deal with the crowds and fight the traffic, so we watch on them TV. This ended today when Steve (who is serving as Assist. Scout Master) took his troop to participate in Mesa's Veteran's Day Parade -- they had the honor of marching in a group of around 185 scouts holding the picture and story of a fallen soldier from Arizona. Steve said it was so wonderful to hear the hush go across the crowd as they would pass and most would stand up to show respect.

These are the boys in our Troop 217 - what a great experience for these boys. Jeff is the one wearing blue basketball shorts -- when they told the boys they only needed to wear their scout shirts, he took it seriously. Nothing like comfort -- I'll catch that one next time.

My girls were making themselves comfortable. The weather was gorgeous...can't beat those 70's! And they were especially impressed with all the candy that was thrown. They all did pretty well for a 2 hour - lots of marching - type of parade. What a great way to spend Veteran's Day -- honoring those military persons who serve us and those who have served us so well!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bread anyone?

Okay, since my gloomy mood was continuing this morning, I dusted off my mixer after our long hot summer and decided it was the perfect day to bake some bread....thinking that perhaps it would cheer me up. The bread turned out so pretty and fluffy, and for once I didn't underbake it or overbake it...but after biting into a warm slice, I realized I FORGOT to add salt. GREAT --- so this shows how rusty my baking skills are --- what in the world am I suppose to do with all this UNSALTED bread....besides smothering it with a big slab of salted butter? Maybe my kids won't notice.....
Any ideas?

And on a cheery note --- I'm so relieved all of the marriage amendments in Arizona, California and Florida have passed. Maybe now California won't fall off into the ocean-- really, my little sister lives there and that would not be good. **snicker**

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Anyone else depressed out there? I gave my kids an extra long hug tonight as I was tucking them in to bed....

This quote was on Glen Beck today as he was talking with Senator Orrin Hatch....

"President Benson from the 1960s said Kruschev told him that Americans are so naive, we'll spoon socialism down their throat, you know, and over the years; before you know it, you'll raise the red flag. And here we are. We're at a point to where our country and our Constitution is slipping through our fingers."

Guess I'd better go work on my food storage.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Fun

We made it through another exciting fun-filled Halloween. The evening was spent at our ward trunk-or-treat where the bishopric barbecued hot dogs for dinner. This ended early enough to allow the kids to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood also --- since you can't ever get ENOUGH candy!

Jeff dressed as a princess, Starr was a pirate, Joseph loved dressing as Spiderman, and Emi was an adorable black cat. Josh was another story....I tried 3 costumes on him, and each time he would kick and scream and try to pull it off. He then proceeded to pull me upstairs to Joseph's closet and pointed out to me a tropical theme Sponge Bob shirt he wanted to wear. OF COURSE! Needless to say, the 2 year old won!

We're never quite sure what costume Steve's going to throw on until right before we leave. And when the kids walk by to get their candy, he enjoys taking to them with a strange accent --- many of the small kids will avoid our trunk all together -- a little scared of him, I believe.

Joseph with is best friend, Reese.

Josh wasn't sure about this whole idea -- but soon "sweetened" up after the first couple of cars!

Steve, again! You put a wig on the guy and he really comes out of his shell! :)

And Steve's sister, Terri --- she and her daughter Jessica joined us for the fun!

The 2 "girls" .... actually Jeff and his good friend Jake.

The Newlyweds....Heidi and Bryce, aka....ASU fans....joined us also!

The best part, dumping out all the candy at home --- Josh thought he was in was HEAVEN!
Heidi and Bryce told the kids they were "quality control" to inspect the candy ...he he... having first pick of their own goodies....
...and the sugar high continues!!!!!