Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Great Grandma Woodward in Franklin

After a nice Sunday with baby blessings, we headed up to Franklin, Idaho to spend a night with Grandma Dixie's mom! This is the famed location of the Woodward Thanksgivings that we hear so much about... also this area was the inspiration for that Napoleon Dynamite movie.  Between the bedrooms in the main house and the next door guest house we had PLENTY of bedrooms for us all.  GG Woodward hooked us up with some delicious meals for breakfast lunch and dinner: Turkey, potato casserole, bacon, eggs and pancakes, creamy tomato soup etc.   We divided our time between playing games (kids) and talking (adults) inside and sledding outside.  Then we stopped by the new cage-free chicken coops on the way out of town and saw a new flock of baby chicks! Uncle Dave showed us the coops and gave us some info: 40,000 chicks in this coop. These babies had just been hatched and trucked in just a few hours before we got there. So fun! He even brought a baby chick out and let us hold it. Freddy dropped it and then almost fell on it.. but luckily the chick managed to survive.  We had such a great time learning about the family history behind the chicken farm, the house, the settling of Franklin. We loved looking through old pictures and hearing stories. Really amazing to see all that can come from one man and one woman getting married and having kids. 

The one thing that was missing from this trip was Jess and Ryan. I really really enjoyed talking with Jess during the Christmas break. She is such an awesome person and they are both so fun to be around. I wish we could have seen more of them!



Charlie did AWESOME on this snow board thing. He had no fear and kept trying it over and over again. He just looked like a natural by his second run....knees bent, arms hovering out. Pretty impressive! They also had an adult-sized snowboard that Chris and I tried out. It was harder than I remembered but still fun enough that I wish I knew how to do it better.  



Some of the kids got to go down this SUPER long double hill just over the fence. I pulled Freddy up so I could go down with Alec and he fell asleep by the time we got to the top of the hill! (that was a pretty good workout!). 



This was a cool (copy of a) painting that was gifted to Cecil and his wife at their wedding from a famous artist that had been good friends with the bride's family. Oh man, I remembered so many more details about this story on the day that I read it in that family history book, but now I can't remember. Darn. 



Family pictures in front of the big barn before we left: 




We stopped by our other Great Grandma Archibald's in Ogden on our way down to Provo from Idaho for just a few minutes. In fact, the older kids were throwing tantrums of one kind of another and refused to come in so just Freddy Chris and I got to chat for a bit and drink her Delicious home made sugar free grape juice. 



Sunday, December 27, 2015

Alec's birthday

Alec is the opposite of a greedy, picky birthday boy. He always seems so pleased and happy with even the smallest gestures. I really love seeing him so content with life. We made him french toast with frozen peaches and cream, eggnog and hot wassail.  There are definitely some perks to have a birthday after Christmas and delicious options for drinks for your birthday breakfast is one of them!


Big thanks to Grandma Dixie for helping me think up decorations last minute the night before. 


We had a big party with all of our Archibald AND Betteridge cousins at a fun foam-pit, rock wall, rope swing, trampoline, slack line, ninja warrior, trapeze ...kind of gym place. Alec was in heaven! A perfect spot for our big 9 year old who is a great mix of natural talent, caution, and physical interest. Also, it was a good place to let a bunch (like 22) kids jump, run, and swing around in the middle of winter. 



We all enjoyed watching Mary show us her skills on the silks:


Chris went to get pizza, water bottles and hand sanitizer. Our car battery had been acting up a bunch over the break. We even had a scary moment in the middle of our long drive out to Utah when the car wouldn't start after a bathroom break in the middle of no where New Mexico. As luck would have it, the battery gave out again while Chris was buying the pizza and he was stranded for a bit a few miles away during the party. My trusty brother, Jordan went with jumper cables to save the day. 


Early that morning (but not early enough!) I set out to make Alec's cake and realized we didn't have enough eggs! So I mixed the other ingredients together and sent Chris to the store. I didn't have time to bake the cake before needing to meet people at the gym at 10:00am, so helpful Dixie offered to stay home late and finish the cake. He only requested a vanilla frosted chocolate cake. I did our good ol' Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake recipe and was planning on doing crushed Oreos in the whipped cream frosting, but something went VERY WRONG and the cake didn't rise at all. Like, at all. But it still tasted decent, and just had the texture kind of like brownies. It all got eaten, so I guess no complaints? Alec didn't seem to notice or care ... like I said before. He's such a sweet birthday boy.  


We spent most of our time jumping around that by the time we opened presents we only had like 2 minutes left before needing to be gone so we did them really fast. 


Alec is my good-hearted, sensitive, intelligent, strong-minded, independent, social-loving-but-shy, boy with such an infectious deep laugh. He's always the first to share his special treat with his younger siblings or anyone else. I love watching his sense of humor emerge and his quick mind is a joy to watch develop. He loves to tease his siblings, figure out how things work and build and invent things both physically and conceptually. He's progressing well on the piano and is a wonderful artist! He loves to read books, shoot basketballs, play with his brothers, play puzzler-type computer games and get good grades. Even though he won't admit it and doesn't show it, he still loves kisses from his mama. When I tuck him in bed at night its a wrestling match to give him a kiss on the cheek. Its literally a game he insists we play each time.  He's a natural early riser and the watch he got for Christmas is a definite help on monitoring his early morning waking... now we just need to work on not waking his siblings up! He's making some really good progress on dealing with the strong emotions he feels and I must say he is so brave to be born first. I can totally see him hanging up in Heaven with his siblings and volunteering to go first so the bulk of the mistakes we make as parents are placed on his willing and strong shoulders. He's definitely making Chris and I better people and I'm so grateful for him and we love him so much!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas

Christmas Eve we ate yummy homemade challah bread and clam chowder. The kids opened a present from Grandma that was matching Christmas PJ's! The kids changed and then we tried to take a few pictures before doing a cousin gift exchange. 

 

It was a little confusing for Freddy to be given a present to hold and then be expected to GIVE IT AWAY to someone. As the youngest in the exchange he was given a present first but he didn't want a new present, he wanted to open the one he was already holding. All confusion and tears were cast aside as soon as he did open the right gift, he LOVES the little wooden car transporter Mady gave him!


The kids were super antsy and the parents were anxious to put kids to bed but we felt like we should do something else, so we asked Great Grandma (GG) to recite for us the poem, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" She had come down from Ogden just that morning and we were so happy to have her there. Despite her wonderful poem, Freddy was too tired to actual sit still and be quiet and I didn't get to hear half of it because I was trying to calm down a screaming Freddy in the kitchen (He's starting to throw some doozy tantrums!) 


As the families dispersed to put their kids to bed, I was wanting to talk more about Christ on Christmas and have a nice spiritual moment with the kids, and so we gathered our children all on our bed in Thom's old room to try and talk about the meaning of Light at Christmas time and try and give everyone a turn to share a time when they felt the Light of Christ during the past year, and/or a time when they've reflected or shared His light. I had wanted to use candles, but improvised with a bedside lamp. It all sounded so good in my mind, but it was a COMPLETE BUST. Alec and Charlie were just mad that they were stuck in a room with siblings and parents when there were cousins to play with, Gwen was whining about something else... probably wanting to eat a treat or not wanting to go to bed, and Freddy was going crazy with the lamp and Mom and Dad were getting frustrated about being frustrated when we were aiming for calm and spiritual. *Sigh* Do we get points for trying? After explicit instructions for the kids regarding expectations about staying inside bedrooms until certain times, we put the kids to bed. 

We helped get the room ready for Santa and by the time that was done we had eaten our stomaches full of peanut and plain M&Ms, red licorice, and cinnamon bears and honestly I can't remember what we did next. Probably just went to bed. 


Christmas morning started at 6:30AM! By 7:00 we were lined up on the stairs and ready for fun!


Because both Thom and Brittany and us were traveling and trying to not spend very much, I think we did a great job with moderation on the presents. I think every child felt loved and spoiled, but I didn't feel anyone went over the top. We had worked all week on a special present for GG and we were all excited to see her open it. It was an "Open When.." box. We filled it with envelopes with instructions written on each one like "Open when You're Worried" or "Open When its Easter" etc.  I got the idea from my sister, Sarah and while it was a lot more work than I thought it would be, it was good to see the kids excited about making it and giving it to her. 


Freddy's exuberance did not disappoint!


Then Chris and I braved the newly fallen (and still falling) snow for a drive up to Herriman to visit with my siblings and parents. It was nice to see them and spend a few hours with them. I forgot to take pictures. Darn! But all too soon (I admit, I cried when it was time to leave) we headed back down to Provo for a scrumptious Christmas Dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, yams, jello, rolls, and trifle.  



It was so fun to be together and have so many fun gifts and eat such delicious food. I hope next year I can be better about really keeping Christ as the focus. Ideas anyone?