Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alec is 5!

Even though we've been excited and anticipating Alec's birthday for a while, especially Alec, it still is SO HARD to believe that he is 5. That is so big! Am I really the mother of a 5 year old?

Alec, obediently, stayed in bed on his birthday and gave Chris and I some time to make a breakfast for him. He LOVED getting breakfast in bed, beaming his way through his pancakes and yet either he was too excited or it was too early to be eating since he said he was full before even finishing 2 pancakes! Usually, this kid can down at least 6 and sometimes 8.

Birthday Balloon Parade:
Grandma and Grandpa had to leave in the morning to drive back home to Provo, so we opened presents with them before they left. Alec's cousin, Jackson, is turning 2 this week and so we also celebrated Jackson's birthday!

Alec requested a superman cake and specifically mentioned "like Charlie had Buzz Lightyear on his cake." We don't have any duplo supermen, so Chris and I ran out to the store to see about finding a small superman action figure but were disappointed and came home empty handed. Then Chris had the brilliant idea to make a little superman outfit for a duplo person. So we tried to do that and Alec seemed to appreciate our efforts, even if it wasn't quite what he had in mind.

We decided we needed to get out of the house and so we all piled in our van and drove to this pretty park near the University where we hiked for a bit down to the frozen river. I was pretty sure there had been a bit of beach before the water started and so I walked down with the kids on it, but Chris was pretty convinced based on the landscape (there were these big sheets of ice that had been jammed up on top of each other, like they were deposited there by a current) that we were probably standing over the water.

Either way it was fun and we decided to stay super close to the parts of land we could tell were snow covered sand/rocks. We saw a bunch of people ice skating over this huge pond we visited with my parents. It is a man-made pond and there were LOTS of people skating on it so we figured it was shallow and fairly safe so we walked on the ice for a bit. By then, we were all cold and decided to head home. I'm glad we got out and I could tell Alec thought it was fun, he said, "I didn't think of doing this fun thing on my birthday!"

Well, Alec, you're 5. You know the alphabet, and can write all the letters, and even can sound out short words. You can count up to thirty and even to 100 with small amounts of help, but usually forget the number 13. You can add and even sometimes subtract and love to do "tricky" things. You make AMAZING mazes for us to do and love to figure out difficult mazes. You can throw, kick, jump, swing a club or bat with amazing accuracy, surpassing many 8 year old boys. You are very sweet with Gwen and Jackson and other little kids and babies. You love to play with Charlie and come up with fun games all the time. You love to read books and play computer games and wii. You have the first 3.5 Articles of Faith memorized and can sing many songs all by yourself, and mostly get the right notes! You have recently gotten into coloring and stay in the lines well, and use appropriate-to-real-life colors. You draw with detail and imagination and can focus on this for a long time.

We are so lucky to be your parents and appreciate your patience as we try our our parenting on you and your ability to cope well with the many "oldest-child" burdens we sometimes unintentionally place on your shoulders. I couldn't ask for a better first born, and we love you dearly. Happy Birthday, Alec!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Sweet Christmas

For an entire week we have been eating yummy food until our stomach's are stuffed and then going back for seconds. M&Ms, Steak, Clam Chowder, Challah bread, Cinnamon Rolls, Turkey Dinner with all the works: amazing stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade rolls, Raspberry Trifel with GG's raspberries, GG's peaches and cream, Delicious Eggnog, Oatmeal Cake, Sunshine Pancakes, Sugar Cookies, Overnight Challah Bread French Toast and homemade Baklava.

And I'm pretty sure I'm missing some things.

This Christmas was sweet in another big way: we're lucky enough to have Chris' parents here and Chris' brother and his family. Just today, while Chris was getting his Chemo treatment, we talked about how having them here has really helped us forget about Chris' illness and made life feel almost normal, like old times. What a blessing that little Christmas break from our current troubles and stress has been.

We opened matching pj's on Christmas Eve, and I tried to orchestrate family traditions like reading and acting out the Nativity and taking cousin photos by lining up tallest to shortest and doing a pyramid. Both were utter failures. I don't think I realized how crucial older kids are to keeping Christmas Traditions alive. These little tykes basically ran around like crazy people throughout the entire evening. They were so excited.

Christmas Morning, I get woken up by Alec at 2:30 am.

"Mom! Santa came! My stocking has stuff in it and there's a kitchen!"

Doesn't he know he's supposed to wait? I not only think that to my self, I also whisper it to him as I tuck him back in bed. I guess he didn't understand me because Chris and I were turning in bed waiting to hear noises from the kids that they are waking up when Alec and Charlie suddenly burst into the room, holding their stockings...

"Mom! Dad! Santa really did come! I see a kitchen and my stocking has toys in it, see?!"

Gwen really enjoyed her Christmas morning. Her eyes got so big when she saw the Kitchen set and ran right over and started playing with it. She also loved her doll stroller and pushed it around the house. In fact, she was quite content with some of the things she was given she even left a stack of presents unopened.

Chris and I gave the kids a big huge, bean bag we made for them. We cut up lots of free scrap foam we got from a local store across 5 nights. It was SO MUCH cutting. And I actually think we might need a bit more. :) It was more work than I anticipated, but the kids love it, I'm glad we finished it. We finished opening presents by 9:30 and then ate the yummy Challah Bread French Toast casserole and played until it was time to get ready for Church at 1:00. It was only an hour long Sacrament Meeting. Throughout the morning my kids (and myself a bit b/c of their behavior) were a bit ornery and Alec even refused to sing with the Primary children. Oh well.

Our last sweet Christmas experience was getting to talk to Chris' brother, Edward, on his mission in Mexico. He has such an accent and didn't seem to understand some of the English words we used! He's had native companions for his last couple of transfers and his Spanish sounds downright awesome. He's so positive and happy and mature-sounding. It was really great to hear from him. We're lucky to read his emails once a week.

And now back to the normal 'my-husband-has-cancer' grind. Well, not quite. Thom and Brittany are still here for the whole week! They've already been great and helped out a ton with meals, laundry, cleaning and babysitting. I hope they still feel like they're on vacation. Lets see how much fun we can have while they're here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas

We had a fun ward party last week and Chris was asked to put together the slide show for it. Our Bishop asked everyone to do some service as a family as the Christmas season approached and to record thoughts about how our testimonies grew. It was a fun challenge in many ways. One, it really did bring a sweet spirit into our home as we planned and carried out our service idea involving widows and other elderly. Two, I think a few of the families in our ward chose to serve our family! Maybe I'm too selfish or something, but I loved being thought of and I loved the help. One family brought us ice cream one Monday Night and told us they wanted to babysit our kids, once a week, for free, for Chris and I to go on Dates. And the awesome-est thing is that they actually kept calling to schedule it! The weeks Chris has chemo he hasn't really felt like going out, but the other weeks we've gone out to dinner, the temple and I even got to go out alone to do some Christmas shopping. Another girl in the ward has come over twice to help tend the kids and fold laundry while I did some deep cleaning. Another Mother and daughter team has brought over many frozen meals, sewed my kids Halloween costumes and make an effort to sit by me in Relief Society to help with Gwen and even took her out for the entire class one day when she was being particularly squirrel-y.

Maybe all these people are simply just nice amazing people and we weren't their Christmas Service project. Either way, service has been a fun thing this Christmas season and its made a difference in the way I feel closer to my Savior during this special time.

Thom and Brittany let us help out with a little card for Edward (Chris and Thom's brother on a mission in Mexico). Each family spelled out a different word. I think it was a great idea and it turned out great.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Classic holiday cheer

Eggnog mustaches. The smell of Christmas. Holiday cookies. Advent chocolates.

First pigtails

She's not totally happy about them but I love it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

my little sidekick

Our little Gweny is SO super darn cute, seriously. And I'm not at all biased...well I AM biased but I'm not wrong. Every Sunday she charms practically everyone we sit around at church, almost to the point of distraction.

Even her "no" is cute. At least her quiet "no." She has a loud whiney yelly "no" too and that one is not so cute. But I like the one where she slightly tilts her head down, looks up at me and while doing short jerky shakes with her head, quietly chirps: "No... no..."

While I usually can smile at this next antic of hers, it also can bug me quite a bit if my mood is just right, or maybe I should say, wrong. She follows me everywhere.

If I am doing the dishes, she'll pull up her stool, sit down, and "help" by taking out dirty dishes or putting in clean ones. (Actually today, she really was a help putting away the clean silverware in the right spot saying, " 'poon" "fohk")

If I sit down to play the piano, she'll run over, demand to sit next to me on the bench, not on my lap, and proceeds to pound on the keys. I found if I put her up by the high keys it's not as ruinous to my attempt at a song.

If I'm making dinner she'll pull a stool (or lately its been a kitchen chair!) to watch and grab at then eat whatever food is within her reach...the entire block of cheese, if she's lucky. Can you spy her sneaky little hand? In the second picture, I believe she is holding a bag of frozen peas eating them one by one (funny thing is she usually hates peas and refuses to eat them).

If I'm at the computer she'll bring her stool over and stand up looking at the screen trying to reach for the mouse or keyboard keys.

If I'm folding laundry she'll pull a chair over and sit by me; handing me items of clothing and saying, "ee-uh" ("here") faster than I can fold them.

If I run upstairs to turn on the oven or run downstairs to switch a batch of laundry she notices I'm gone within seconds and if she's tired she'll start crying for me sadly making her way in my direction. If she's not tired she'll call after me and/or just start following. Most of the time it's kinda fun to have a side kick.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Getting Out

Its intimidating to take the three kids out by myself to some place new but Chris could really use a quiet house in his post-chemo days. So while Tiffany was here, we capitalized on an adult's set of hands and exploring companion and had a lot of fun vising new parts of Edmonton.

First off, we got our hair cut! Tiff and I have petitioned Chris for admittance into his Hall of Baldness. (He's trying to get out one post a day and its a little backed up at the moment... we had NO IDEA we'd get such an awesome turnout. It practically brings him to tears with every new inductee) I don't have a good picture of our final cuts, yet. It was dumb of me not to get one on the first day, since my friend who cut my hair got it to look better than I ever will be able to replicate.

Another day we checked out their (indoor) Botanical Gardens at the Muttart Conservatory. Very pretty and it was nice to have a change of scene/climate for a few minutes in each of the glass pyramids. The boys favorite was the Tropical Pyramid. The "Seasonal" one was full of blue and white poinsettias...really cool.

We also went to the West Edmonton Mall, rumored to be the biggest mall in the world. It has a casino, hotel, ice skating rink, water park, amusement park, pirate ship, sea lion show, miniature golf, climbing wall, restaurant alley, food court, and of course lots and lots of stores....all under one roof.

Throughout the week we explored the local craft options and found a cool/cheap fabric store. I'm making a big bean bag for the boys for Christmas. I hope I finish it and that it turns out OK... I'm not so sure those will both happen.

We also kicked off the Christmas Season by getting a REAL tree from IKEA for $20! They're all wrapped up so you don't really know what it'll look like but I'm quite pleased with ours! Chris had to cut a bit off to fit it in the house.

Also there is something here called the Festival of Trees and with Tiffany, I was brave enough to drive downtown and try and see it with the kids. So many trees donated and decorated by various organizations and then you can buy them and proceeds go to charity or something. There were lots of elementary school musical groups performing while we were there and the kids decorated gingerbread men, visited a make-believe hospital and sat on Santa's lap! I didn't know he'd be there and we've not had good success in the past getting the boys to sit on his lap, but this year they did great. It was Gwen who wasn't too sure about the whole situation.

Gwen loved her cookie so much she wouldn't let go of the bag. Even to eat her cookies, one in each hand, like usual. She has got such a sweet tooth. I don't know where she gets it...oh wait, I do, its from me.

Tiffany made us yummy food: baked egg rolls, Chinese chicken salad, white bean turkey chili, and lime/cilantro burritos, and arrived bearing gifts from her, others and Mom and Dad: shirts, candy, Christmas music, banana bread, spiced nuts, someone's old iphone for Chris! We really had such a fun time, fit a lot in, and as it typically turns out with Tiffany and I, still didn't do all we planned to do. :)