Thursday, December 22, 2005

T'was the night before Christmas Eve Eve...

...and all through the house, many creatures were stirring, much bigger than a mouse! (My apologies to Clement Clark Moore)
Tomorrow we will be celebrating Christmas Eve Eve. It seems odd, to pretend tomorrow is Christmas, but it is easier than carting lots of presents to Grandma's house. We will wake up before dawn, go see what Santa's elves brought (yes, my children do believe that FedEx and UPS are Santa's elves!), and then have a merry Christmas breakfast including pancakes in the shape of Christmas trees.
I remember when I was younger, the night before Christmas was pure agony. I would get into bed with no hope of falling asleep anytime soon. Since I was on the top of a bunk bed, I would stare out my window for quite a long time until falling my eyes got droopy. Then, at 4am, I would wake up and gather some siblings, so we could sneak out and see what Santa had brought us. We would quietly tiptoe out to the family room, look at what big gifts hadn't been wrapped, and then take our stockings back into our bedroom to see what loot they contained.
Santa didn't usually disappoint, even when finances were tight. At least one of us would usually get a new bike. One year Santa brought a basket ball hoop for Dad to install in our backyard. In sixth grade Santa brought me a boombox, which was quite exciting.
It is so easy to go overboard for Christmas. I always end up spending more on the kids than I think I will. This year I thought I would get my shopping done early, but then I would be out and see other things I knew the kids would love. At a certain point you just have to tell yourself that if the kids have too many toys, there won't be a need for their imaginations anymore.
Sometimes it is tough to find presents that the child will love and that will also stimulate them. Andrew was easy... the budding entemologist is getting a microscope. Ethan was a little harder, but hopefully the wild animal encyclopedia he is getting will get him out of his Godzilla phase, at least occasionally!
Emma has been the easiest to shop for, because we don't have many girl toys. For her birthday she got a kitchen, for Christmas she is getting a broom and vacuum. Hopefully now she won't steal mine on the rare occasions I use them!
Happy Christmas and a very Merry New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

...Guess I'll eat some worms...

Andrew is our resident entemologist. Behind him, in the terrarium, is his pet cockroach, Hisser. Hisser is not just any cockroach, he is a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. Before you recoil in horror, you should know that cockroaches are the easiest pets in the world. They stay in the terrarium, need water and a new carrot or apple slice every few days, and their habitat only has to be cleaned out once a month! Cleaning the habitat consists of throwing out the old "sand" in the terrarium, and putting in new... easy as pie!
Andrew adores bugs, but he is particularly attracted to arachnids. His main desire in life is to own a scorpion. Elliott has his doubts, but I have actually considered getting him one... when he is a wee bit older. Scorpions require live food, like crickets, and I want Andrew to be able to handle that all on his own.
Andrew is a very easy going kid. He is well liked by all his peers, in spite of the fact that he believes himself to be Godzilla! He constantly has bugs on the brain, and has written several stories about them. Sometimes I will be in the middle of telling him something, I think he is paying attention, and all of a sudden he will make some random comment about bugs. Let's just say he has read every bug encyclopedia our library has available, and the list isn't short!
Of course, when he becomes a true, certified entemologist, I expect a bug to be named after me!

Monday, December 19, 2005

I got you Babe!

This is my wonderful hubby--- we are celebrating 8 amazing years together today. He is the most wonderful, kind, honest, warm, intelligent and loving man around! Elliott is so dedicated to our family, and has worked hard and made many sacrifices for us.
He is an amazing artist, a fabulous cook, a patient father and husband, and the love of my life.
I wish every woman could be as lucky as I am!
I love you Babe! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sew, a needle pulling thread...

In October, after a year and a half of research, I let DH know that all I wanted for Christmas was a Janome 6600 sewing machine, and dropped major hint after hint. You can imagine my disappointment when he told me, a few weeks ago, that he had called several dealers and the 6600 was just too expensive for us right now. Hope springs eternal though, and I wondered in the back of my mind if he was just trying to put me off his trail. The next day I called my mom and told her the disappointing news. A few days after that I was chatting with my mom on the phone, and mentioned the Janome, and how I was still hoping to get it. She said she had talked to my DH and offered to help pay for it as part of my birthday and Christmas gifts. But he had declined, saying it was just too expensive.Well, my birthday was a couple of days ago. DH made a birthday cake, and then mysteriously told the kids he had some instructions for them before I opened my present. My son had wrapped up a small present with my husband earlier, and then came and shook it in front of me. It sounded like marbles, and when I opened it that evening, sure enough it was marbles... along with a note that said, "The marbles are just to confuse you. Find your real present in the basement." Then my little two year old said, "your hot!" The kids proceeded to play the "hot, cold" game with me, until I got to my sewing room in the basement. At this point, you can imagine I was giddy with excitement! I ran into my sewing room.... only to see my old Brother sitting on the sewing table. I was thoroughly confused! I looked around and could not see any present, but then one of my boys shut the door, and there, sitting behind the door, was a big wrapped box. I tore it open and inside was my new 6600! I was ecstatic to say the least, only dampened by the fact that I had to leave 15 minutes after opening the box to go do some stocking stuffing for a church group. Yesterday I didn't have time to sew either, but today I am hoping to get the machine threaded. Dh told me the woman at the dealership said they didn't like the sell the machine this way, with out having me sit down at the shop, and to make sure I came in for some training. I won't be able to do that until Thursday, when DH is going to come home a wee bit early so I can go sans kids (I am a SAHM with a 6yr old, 4 yr old, and 2 yr old... don't think I want to take them with me!) Anyway, I am happy to finally be joining the ranks of Janome owner after a year and half of drooling! I love piecing quilt tops, but it really was a chore on my old machine. I am definitely looking forward to using the accu-feed foot when piecing those masses of seams that one gets with many blocks. I also look forward to being able to machine quilt smaller quilts. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The hills are alive with the sound of Godzilla

One day Ethan couldn't stop singing. He sang at the breakfast table, he sang all morning, he hummed through lunch, and kept it going right until dinner.
While we were sitting at the table, Ethan sang, "Can I have some milk please?" So I sang back to him, "Yes, you can!" Elliott's comment was, "I feel like I'm living in an opera!" We all had a good laugh, but sometime it does feel like we are living in an opera.
Ethan could hold a perfect tune at the age of 20 months... before he could talk! The first songs we recognized were from the Primary CD. He soon was singing music from movies, and seemed particularly fixated on the Star Wars soundtrack. He would ask us if we could guess whose theme song he was singing. We had no clue, of course, but it was funny to see all the different tunes he knew.
Just when I thought I couldn't take any more Star Wars, Ethan found a new love... Godzilla Movie soundtracks. How I long for the days of Star Wars! I never knew there were so many monsters that Godzilla went against. Ethan can sing all the moster themes and some parts of the soundtracks that aren't even themes, like the intro to Godzilla versus Mothra. He is also obsessed with drawing Godzilla. Elliott has taken to bringing home the scrap paper from his office to keep our growing paper tab from outreaching our grocery bill! Godzilla has been drawn fighting many different monsters-- King Kong, Santa Claus, a giant sewing machine (that one was for me!) and countless other objects and things.
Ethan does occasionally take a break from singing Godzilla music... only to replace it with music he is learning at school for various programs his class puts on. Right now they are getting ready for Christmas, so we hear renditions of Silent Night, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and Away in the Manger, to name a few.
Although the endless humming does try our patience at times (we had to institute a no-singing rule at the table) I know we will be sad when Ethan no longer sings for us. It is just his personality, and one I am looking forward to seeing grow. Maybe he has a future in... opera?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Emma Sandwich

Merry Christmas from Indiana!
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As Sisters in Zion

I am losing one of my visiting teachers this month. Not only is she my visiting teacher, but she is also a good friend. Both of my visiting teachers are wonderful women, and I like to think they each have a role. Janet is my "mental needs" VT... she makes sure my sanity is intact. Tami is my "spiritual needs" VT... she always gets me thinking about what I need to improve on. Together they are an amazing team! They both set a great example for me and give me lots to think about.
Yesterday they brought me a message about the Savior. In our discussion, Tami mentioned that it used to be the first person she would go to with good or bad news was her mom or her sister. Then one day, it occured to her that the first person she should be going to was Heavenly Father. He knows our heart and wants us to share our joy and heartaches with him. Of course, I have never had any problem going to him in time of trial, but I am less good about going to him first in time of joy. I really need to work on that.
The women in our ward are all so wonderful. They are great examples of hard work, charity and faith. I am grateful that Elliott and I were led to a life in Indiana, and that I can learn so much from all the wonderful sisters here.
Tami- I love you! Thank you for your wonderful example and all that you have done for me. You will be missed!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

All I want for Christmas is better baking skills!

Tis the season to be jolly... and very domestic! Look out Martha, here I come! I have already made and delivered my first batch of peanut brittle, fudge, and spice muffins to the neighbors, but it seems our circle of friends is quite large this year, so I will be spending a bit more time in the kitchen.
This has brought to mind my days of early baking, Mother trying her best to get our attempts at cookies and assorted other treats to turn out. Butter is the key to great cookies, and mine certainly had that in abundance. However, cookies should have an adequate amount of flour in them too, and for some reason my early cookies were always a little flat and crispy!
My most memorable baking event (probably for the whole family) was the time I decided to suprise my Dad with lemon bars. Mom's recipe is the ultimate lemon bar recipe... the right amount of tartness, offset by a little sweetness. Things were going along just swell. The crust baked up just right, the custard mixed together perfectly and came out the perfect shade of yellow once done cooking. I couldn't wait for the bars to cool off so I could cut into them and present one to Dad.
I watched him as he took the first bite. I could see the pride swelling in his eyes... what a great cook his daughter was... a little smile that broadened, followed by a little laugh, followed by a little choking? What? What was wrong? I quickly took a bite of the piece on my plate only to spit it out and rush for a glass of water. A few tears later, it was determined that I must have put salt in the custard instead of sugar.
Well, we definitely laugh about that now... but I still haven't learned my lesson. This morning I made fudge... Not quite the salt story, but not following the recipe either. Let's just say that I must not have been paying attention in grade school when they taught addition!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mary Poppins never had to run errands!

Meet Emma--- my adorable two-year old. Emma is an absolute doll. I know this, because the first two years of her life I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without at least 2 people coming up to me and telling me what a doll she was, or how I needed to get her into commercials. Round cheeks, blue eyes with long lashes, and those lucious pink lips... definitely a doll!
Of course, these days she still gets lots of looks when we go out, but usually they come from a twenty-something with no kids who doesn't understand why I can't control mine!
Today I had to go to the grocery store... couldn't put it off because we were out of the staples... milk, OJ and bread. Emma managed to stay belted in the cart until we got to the dairy aisle (did I mention that is the first aisle we go to?) As usual, she wriggled out of the belt and stood up precariously in the front of the cart. Not wanting her to fall out and crack her head open (lest I get more looks for being an awful parent... plus who wants to spend time at the ER?) I put her into the back of the cart. She promptly started climbing out of there too, so I gave in and took her out of her cart altogether. This new freedom kept her occupied for exactly 30 seconds, then she was off to pull all the Yoplait yogurt off the shelf and throw it in our cart!
Half an hour later, I had finally managed to get most of our groceries, and needed to find new socks for the boys. To get to the boy department, one has to pass through the baby department. Emma was in heaven, and I thought I would be a nice mom and let her look at the toys for a minute or two. That was a big mistake (Hmm... actually, the big mistake was taking Emma shopping!). Since she wouldn't leave of her own accord, I picked her up and carried her over to the socks. She started kicking and screaming as if I was torturing her, which was quite disturbing to the young children who were nearby. I finally found the socks in the correct size, and attempted to push the cart to the register while still carrying Emma, who was still having her tantrum. All the wriggling she was doing allowed her to get out of my arms, so I grabbed her by the hand and started dragging her to the register.
Once in line, I distracted her from screaming by pointing out the kitty on the front of a magazine. That was right next to the candy display, which Emma decided she had to have, and then it was back to... you guessed it... kicking and screaming!
The good news is, the store has a couple of pink ponies that are available for children to ride for a penny. One happened to be right in front of our register, so Emma ran over to it and tried to climb up until I was done paying for our groceries.
She got her ride and we went out to the car where I attempted to put her in her seat. Yes, you can guess what happened, can't you? Of course, I tried to let her get in the seat herself, but she preferred the driver's seat. She is such a little grown up!
After another round of kicking and screaming all the way home, she was tired out. She is now napping quietly and life is sweet. I am sure when she finishes her nap she will do something competely adorable, like say please and thank you without being prompted, or bring me a big pile of books she wants read to her and throw them in my lap with an impish grin. Maybe she will make me an egg to eat in her little magic kitchen. She is so hard to resist.
A couple we know waited several years to have children, but after their first was born the husband wondered why they had waited so long. Having children is a joy, even through the small trials. Besides, how can anyone stay upset when "smoochable" is around? Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fiddler on the Roof

I love family traditions.
When I was younger, I looked forward to decorating our Christmas tree on my birthday, which falls about a week before Christmas. In fact, Christmas has always been my favorite time of year probably because of all the tradition it brings. Growing up, there were so many fun things we did each year... making Christmas goodies to take to friends, composing a Christmas wish list for our parents, and spending the first Monday night of the new year reading the previous year's resolutions, and creating new ones.
One of my favorite traditions was at the beginning of each December, when my parents would take us to a local craft store, Stats, where we each got to choose an ornament or Christmas decoration. I remember walking through the aisles trying to find the perfect thing... one year it was a silver tinsel garland I got to hang on the mirror in my room, another year I was set on finding the perfect candle.
Now that I have my own family, it is fun to see what turns into a tradition. Two traditions we had growing up have carried over. The first, going for an ice cream cone around the time of each child's birthday, is easy. Many ice cream shops have a Kids Club, which sends out a certificate for a free scoop within 30 days of the child's birthday. Growing up it was Baskin Robbins, now it is Marble Slab.
The second tradition is one that may seem a little odd to some people, but it is one I grew up with. After we get home from church, we change out of our dress clothes and put on something a little more comfy. Then, we pop a big bowl of air-popped popcorn, smother it with melted butter, and sit around the table eating. Growing up, we would read the newspaper while we ate... my favorites were the funnies and ads (I know, I know!), and then when I was home for the summer from college, I switched to the Sunday Crossword puzzle. This tradition is going strong in our current house... it gives the kids a little something to tide them over until Dad gets home from his meetings.
So, what traditions have we come up with all on our own? Elliott has added to the Sunday night tradition - making pancakes for our Sunday dinner. These are not just any pancakes... Elliott is a pancake-artist extraordinaire! The boys yell out shapes, and Elliott cooks them up. We have gone as easy as a sun (round circle) to Godzilla, a truck, and a dragonfly, to name a few. Now that Emma can express her opinion easily, Elliott has added "Dahyees" to his repertoire (that's doggies for those of you who don't speak two-year-old!)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Let it snow!

Two nights ago we got about 8" of snow overnight... the nice powdery kind! School was cancelled, so it was a fun day to play. After Elliott got home, the kids suited up in their snow clothes, and went out to build a snowman. They got a little sidetracked when Elliott discovered the driveway was covered in a 1/4 inch thick sheet of ice. He built a snow ramp at the beginning of the driveway and helped the boys slide down. They slid around just like a hockey puck, and had a great time! There may have even been a collision or two...
It is supposed to snow on and off all of next week, so it should be gorgeous around here for a while. If it is going to be cold, it might as well snow and be beautiful! Posted by Picasa