Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alec turned 4!

Alec's birthday can get lost in the hooplah of Christmas, but I had big plans to make it super special for him. Then I got a wee bit sick. I was practically back to normal the next day, but still... it made for a low key birthday. Luckily, my parents swooped in and helped give Alec the only he thing he asked for: a vanilla-rainbow -and-our-family-standing-under-the-rainbow cake. (He also wanted strawberries on top, but we didn't have any.) Alec had a big grin on his face and chuckled all cute and low whenever anyone said, "Happy Birthday!" to him. He didn't seem to care or notice that there weren't any birthday games or decorations.

Our camera ran out of batteries before we could get any picture of Alec's sweet 4 year old face. (more evidence that I was basically out of commission). But we did get 1 picture. Hopefully I can get more from my parents. I hope to throw a little party for Alec and his friends once everything gets back to normal.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Day

The kids slept in on Christmas morning! We finally had to call to Charlie to wake up around 7:30. We lined the stairs waiting to hear Grandma and Grandpa say goodbye to Santa. Grandpa started having a conversation with Santa only he got mixed up and gave himself the funny voice.

Grandma and Grandpa get up earlier than us all to make us a nice Christmas Breakfast: bacon, German pancakes, hot chocolate, eggnog, and fruit. Yummy!

Then its back downstairs to open and give presents to everyone.

There were many wonderful presents given and lots of smiles and hugs. We wanted our boys to experience the warm feelings of giving so we had them pick out a small gift for everyone that would be with us Christmas morning and if there is one thing my family does super well to over the top, its reactions! They gave the best reactions for my boys and Alec kept saying, "I think they like it."

There was one present I was especially excited for my kids to open and that was the car track quilt I've been dreaming about for a year, and working off and on for the past 6 months. I can hardly believe that its actually finished! My wonderful grandma helped me brainstorm how to finish it and my cousins came over one night to help me tie it. Anyway, I'm REALLY happy with it and I think the boys are too.

One of the best times of Christmas morning was talking over a group skype call with Chris' brother Edward on his mission in Mexico! He sounds so good and happy and I loved seeing Chris' face just beaming as he listened to Edward and all his family.

Grandpa put our boys to bed and Grandma listened to Gwendolyn so Chris and I could go with my siblings and cousins to see a movie! Chris' 2nd or 3rd time at a movie theater this year. We saw the newest Narnia movie. Then we started a 1000 piece puzzle and enjoyed lots of treats and family time. Such a wonderful day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve

We started the day finishing up the decorating! Alec really liked helping Grandma put all the old school ornaments on the tree.

Then, after skyping with my siblings to watch our kids open up their cousin exchange gifts, we got together with my next door cousins and my grandma for Christmas Eve traditions. Starting with matching pj pictures:

Whole group pictures, topped off with the never-missed cousin pyramid.

Reenacting the Christmas Story, complete with costumes.

Finishing off with singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and the little cousins blowing out his candle for him.

Then it was off to bed for the kids, and off to the store for mom and dad to get the last stocking stuffers and a fun puzzle to do together.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tree, teeth and ear infections

We cut down our Christmas tree yesterday! It was really muddy and a bit cold, but Alec really seemed enjoy it. He asked me, "can we bring it inside? in this house?" It was dark (not necessarily late) when we got home and so the kids went to bed almost immediately. Before going to downstairs to sleep, Alec left me with instructions to "put lights all around the tree so when I see it in the morning its all pretty." My brother Jordan and my sister, Sarah helped fulfill that request and Alec's face in the morning was worth all the effort it took to watch them decorate!
Seems like Gwendolyn is almost an entirely different baby, here in Washington. I'll blame it all on teething. She's been way more interested in food recently so we decided to try out solid foods last week. She did so well! She went super crazy for each bite and even started to cry in between spoonfuls of rice cereal. On her second chance of eating a few days later, she did equally as good and finished the entire bowl. Her third attempt was less successful, since she just wanted to blow raspberries after each spoonful, spraying me and anything nearby with rice cereal.

Here she is doing a raspberry:

Still, she smiles whenever she's not eating, sleeping or crying and wins the heart of anyone who is the recipient of her huge grins. I can hardly believe she's 5 months, going on 6!

Charlie has an ear infection (I think). He's had a lowish fever since we got here and is super duper fussy, hardly has an appetite, and asks to go to bed for naps and bedtime. I wish my family could see what the real Charlie is like but hopefully he'll get well soon and be back to his normal self. At least, Chris and I get to cuddle with him a lot more. I love to hold him on my lap and have him lean back on me while we watch a movie or read a book. I also think its cute the way he says, "I need my daddy." I do wish he'd say that for me sometimes but I can't blame him since "I need my Chris" too.

Here he is ignoring my requests to smile at the camera because he wasn't feeling well. Poor kid. I really hope he feels better soon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Far Far Away..

We drove far far away to Washington for Christmas! I love being home, especially at Christmas time. The drive went really well, there was no snow on the ground at all, even at the pass. The boys were a little disappointed but at least the dense fog gave them something to ask questions about.

On our drive we saw the most amazing rainbow in the middle of Oregon. It was a full arch and incredibly vibrant. The pictures don't do it any justice. [coming soon... as soon as gwenyrs wakes up from her nap and I can grab the camera] - ok days later, I know, but here they are:

Also, about 30 minutes from getting to Grandma and Grandpa's house, I'm singing songs to Gwen trying to keep her happy and while she chews on my finger I feel something sharp! She has a tooth! Check that, she has two. Crazy. Although it starts to make the recent extra feedings and constant she-seems-hungry behavior of the past few weeks make sense. You would think after 3 kids, I would recognize the signs of emerging teeth better, but it surprises me every time.

I love the Puget Sound, rain and all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas traditions

It struck me this week how much my boys still have to learn about the world. Like all the traditional Christmas songs, for one thing. We've watched some youtube clips and Alec wanted to play some of them he heard on the piano. Contact paper, some colored paper and markers helped us work it all out. Here he is playing the chorus to "Jingle Bells." He never ceases to amaze me.

Also, we had our ward Christmas party last weekend and the boys sat on Santa's lap! It took watching practically EVERY other kid in our ward do it, before they wanted to.. but it happened! Mostly it was because Charlie was brave enough to go anywhere as long as Alec was right behind him1` and Alec has to be brave enough to do anything Charlie does. I think Alec's words were, "Charlie wants to sit on his lap, and I will hold his hand." Its great they can help each other out like that. There was also a yummy pork dinner and a funny little program, which I participated in. It was fun to do and people at least laughed a little so I think it worked out ok. Alec stood on the stage with his fingers in his mouth (a recent habit!) while the rest of the primary children sang some songs. Oh, I love Christmas time!

Monday, December 6, 2010

grabbing toes

Gwendolyn found her toes a while ago and loves to hold them. She also loves to suck on blankets or clothes and almost always has her right pointer finger in her mouth. She's doing a great job sitting up in small spurts, and if we get the position just right, she can sit for a few minutes!

Alec LOVES to entertain her at any time during the day but especially during his "quiet time." If Gwen is awake he'll pile toy after toy in front of her or just lay next to her playing peek-a-boo with a blanket. Charlie also loves to give Gwenyrs attention and often asks to hold her. When he's finally got her on his lap he'll use a special baby voice and say, "I uhv oo, den."

Chris and I were worried that our younger kids would feel the lack of parental attention, but are happy to know that they'll still have fun interactions with their siblings. She even seems to prefer Alec's antics! Alec got her to all out laugh weeks ago and I still get just barely a chuckle with my most silliest efforts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving and a hike

We had a yummy feast with our good friends and neighbors. We were particularly trying to make enough for leftovers for both families. In short, we made enough for 5 families to have leftovers too. We hardly even dented the mashed potatoes and had rolls coming out of our ears. No, these aren't complaints. I LOVE that we had so much food leftover, my stomach has been loving it all this past week. The only thing that made me sad was that with all the preparations for this 1 meal, it was all over in 10 minutes. But fun things always go by too fast. We had a few more families over for pie after dinner.

For Black Friday we went on this really awesome hike, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge at Mt. Tamalpais. We hiked 4.2 miles from the ranger station to Stinson Beach. It was BEAUTIFUL! My friend, Amy recommended it and I can see why she says it "has it all." We walked past lots of waterfalls, crossed lots of bridges, climbed over/under lots of huge redwoods and then walked through rolling/tree-less hills down to 6 foot high beach scrub and finally arrived at the sandy beach.

Eating leftover turkey sandwiches!

We left later than we planned and took longer to find parking and meet up with friends. We missed the first bus/shuttle back to our cars and ended up stranded at the beach in the dark with no way to get back to our cars. I guess the buses were running on their "Holiday Schedule" even though online they said it was normal. We did catch a bus, going the wrong way an hour after we thought we could and rode it all the way around to get to our cars; crossing our fingers the whole way that the parking lot, posted as "closed at sunset," didn't lock in any cars still there after dark.

What a crazy sight we were: 2 moms, 6 little kids sitting by the highway, alone on a bench in the middle of the freezing mountains after dark. I'm actually surprised no one stopped to see if we needed any help, I know I would've if I were driving past.

Luckily, the dads ran super fast from where the bus dropped us off to the parking lot 1/2 mile up and found our cars ticketed $48.50 but not locked in! Whew! 2.5 hours later the kids were asleep in bed and I was warm and cozy eating left over pie on the couch. Talk about thanks-giving. We were so grateful to have it all end so well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Home for the Holiday

We're staying home this year for Thanksgiving. Chris and I asked each other every night for about 3 weeks, "So, what are we doing for Thanksgiving?" We kept asking it right up until Monday morning when we stayed mainly because we didn't plan to go and because of the scary snowy drive we would've had.

It was mainly my wish to stay. My life is crazy enough right now, adjusting to life away from home, living out of suitcases and a pack n' play sounded difficult. Life at home with Chris around more and fun hikes and outings sounded nice. The weather hasn't cooperated 100% but its doing a decent job. We've found fun things to do despite the rain and below freezing temperatures. Our goal was one fun thing a day and relaxing (as much as the kids let us) the rest of the time.

Monday - Bus ride to the train station, train ride to a nearby town and a walk Target to pick out Christmas presents for the cousin exchanges. Reverse it.

Tuesday - Chris to the golf course and the kids and I to visit friends and make home-made, soft, pretzels.

Wednesday - Walk to the post office to mail cousin gifts.

Thursday - Run 10K, Give thanks and EAT.

Friday - 3 mile hike north of the Bay.

Saturday - Take the family to the football game and set up the Christmas tree.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Bed Saga

Once upon a time we ordered a bunk bed. Not just any old bunk bed. A super awesome, custom made, space saving, solidly built, GREAT price, toddler-sized bunk bed. We found it on, listed by a cute husband/wife furniture-making team. That was in January of 2010.

Then disaster struck this cute little team. Again, and again and again. We're talking shop fires, broken saws, broken vans, more broken vans, a move to living out a trailer with their 3(?) kids while they build a house in their spare time.

At least that is what they told us every time I wrote them a "hows it coming?" email. I updated them on our two moves, and Gwendolyn's arrival... hoping these milestones would give them a finish date to shoot for. Nope.

Then in August, I get an email from them out of the blue saying, "We're putting your bed together this week! We just need to confirm the color of the stain and allow a week to cure and then a week to ship."

As you can image, we were ecstatic. Charlie is just too big/strong/rough in the crib; he's just tearing it apart and climbing out, climbing up, climbing all over it like a jungle gym. He is SO ready to move to a big bed, and I'm SO ready to get Gwen out of the bassinet in our room to the crib in the kids room. We've been putting on hold making any new bedtime routine changes (and boy, do we need to!) until we get the bunk beds but we've been saying this for over 6 months! I could go on and on.

Now its the middle of November and we still haven't gotten the bed. I'm emailing them more often (once or twice a week) and finding out about more "disasters" like that crazy mid-east wind storm sweeping away their paint shop. The good news is they emailed us a picture of our stained headboards. So, I'm fairly confident we're not getting swindled (yes, we already paid for it). I like to support small family businesses, but this is getting ridiculous.

Hopefully in a week or two, I'll be doing another post of our totally awesome bunk beds all set up in the kids' room with a report on how wonderful our new bedtime routine is working and how Gwen sleeps through the whole night! AND, (while I'm dreaming) that Chris' adviser told him he could graduate in December without doing any more work and BYU offered us a job starting in the fall after we take a 3 month family vacation in Hawaii. Oh, and did I mention BYU's starting salary? $200,000 ... every 2 weeks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two things

Besides the fact that its obvious he fell asleep in mere seconds, there are two other things I like about this picture:

His shirt is on backwards. He wears it this way EVERY TIME. He says its because he likes the see the number. Like on a sport jersey? Maybe.

The books stranded around him. I love how much our kids love to read. They are usually very well entertained with a pile of books. The downside is we really wear out our books. Sometimes they're used as tunnels, projectiles or even skates. I try to teach how to respect them, but I also want them to be familiar and loved and have decided to not fight them every time with this. But then sometimes it gets really out of hand. I'm still learning the balance of book love I guess.