Monday, December 26, 2016

Alec's birthday

Alec has hit the double digits!! Our first baby is now 10 years old.  Wow. He's turning into such a fine young man. There are so many qualities about him that I love. He is SO good with younger kids.  He can share his toys really well, and is often the only kid who will share his special treat with another kid who doesn't have any. At school, he trades stuff with his friends if he has something they want. He has such focus and determination to finish projects he's in the middle of. He's SUPER creative, always coming up with fun games to play either by himself or with his siblings. He's a wonderful artist and can sketch an X wing in less than 30 seconds. He's physically coordinated and has really developed in soccer this year with his twice a week 90 minute practices. His ball control, aggressiveness, passing ability, confidence and defensive awareness have all improved.  He has a wonderful sense of humor and has that kind of deep belly laugh that brings Chris to tears when they both get going.  He has an insatiable appetite for knowledge and has a great need to fully understand things. He loves to read interesting fact books and remembers random bits of trivia fairly well.  His favorite books recently are the Percy Jackson series. He read the first book in like 4 days or something.  He likes to do silly dances and sing really loud when he's feeling extra happy. Though, he won't admit it, I believe he also loves physical touch. He can hardly contain himself to not touch people when he walks by them (especially if he's angry and then its a swipe at the arm or a brushing of the shoulders), he likes to play the game where he tries to not let me kiss him goodnight... a full scale wrestling match where he's laughing and giggling the entire time. I always win and manage to give him a quick peck on the cheek or forehead.  Sometime he puts up such a good fight that I'll try to give up but then he'll get sad and ask me to keep trying.  Whew... I'm really going to be out of my league both physically and mentally when this kid really hits the teenage years. Heaven help me. 




(I love this picture because I caught Alec smelling his new book...a thing he got from me. I LOVE the smell of crisp new glossy pages. I'm sure its some toxic chemical but to me, its the smell of a beautiful new story)

Grandma and Grandpa Dixie got him this sweet microscope! He loves it.





Alec also takes after me and loves cookies n' cream. This year he requested an ice cream cake. Yellow cake, with a cookies in cream ice cream later and Chris' chocolate whipped cream frosting with crushed oreos. It was SOOO good. I made the layers and Chris assembled it. He did a great job.


We spent most of the day hanging out around home, playing with toys, working on puzzles and around lunch time we did presents and cake and then started packing up to leave for Texas. We got Alec's favorite take out: Taco Bell for dinner a few hours into the drive.  We love our Alec boy!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas

Christmas Eve we made Challah bread and went around to our neighbors and caroled. We made Chris' family's traditional clam chowder for dinner and unwrapped our Christmas jammies (my family's tradition). This year to save money for Disneyland, we recycled previous years jammies and I found some new Christmas socks for everyone for a few dollars.  We managed to put the camera on a mini tripod thing and take some traditional pictures: tallest to shortest, pyramid, and family shots.  Because our kids would need to come through the room where Santa will put his presents to get to our room, we decided to have a family sleep over in our bedroom so we could all be together in the morning. We all cuddled in our big bed while Chris read a book that depicted the nativity and matched Christmas hymns with each part of the story so we all sang along too. Then we tried to get the kids to fall asleep on the bed together, listening to stories being read on my phone from the Friend magazine. It didn't really work. We had to separate some and moved them to a big memory foam pad on the floor in the corner we brought in just for that reason.  (Plus, I can't sleep well with little ones kicking me, so the plan was to move them all onto the floor after they fell asleep). Chris and I still had some work to do to get ready for Christmas: clean up, make jello, assemble overnight sticky buns, and omelet muffins and some other things... :) 

Surprisingly they fell asleep pretty well after moving some off the bed, and Chris and I had done a good job getting ready during the previous week that we had time to cuddle on the couch and watch a movie before going to bed. 






Christmas morning the kids woke up around 6:30 and I popped out of bed for a second to get the eggs and sticky buns in the oven. Then we lined the kids up on the stairs to the family room... youngest to oldest - per tradition. The next hour and a half was a happy morning of opening Santa's gifts, playing with them and eating a yummy breakfast. Alec and Charlie loved the 25 foot BlueTrak race track, Freddy sorta liked the Magnadoodle (but he really loved all the candy in his stocking) and I think Gwen was pleased with her huge doll house and dolls. We just need to make some furniture for it. We paused the merriment at 7:30 so we could get ready for church and still get there 30 minutes early to make sure everything was in order. It was very fun to drive to church WITH Chris, for once.







Church was sweet. It was very fitting to partake of the Sacrament on Christmas Day. We sang a bunch of hymns and had a short speaker. It only lasted about an hour. It was fun to see some fellow branch members and wish them a Merry Christmas, ON Christmas. Then we headed home to change back into our pajamas and unwrap the presents under the tree. We had prepped the kids that there wouldn't be very many since we had all agreed to not buy any presents for each other this year to save money for Disneyland.  So when the kids saw all the presents that there actually was from Grandparents, and cousins and Great Grandparents etc, they were pleasantly surprised. It was cute to see the presents they had wrapped to make for each other (mostly drawings by Charlie, but Alec folded a hand towel in the shape of a Teddy Bear for Gwen). Chris introduced the boys to risk and everyone put together their legos. We found out at church that a single guy from our Branch didn't have any plans for Christmas dinner, so we invited him over to join us.  One benefit to having someone over is that it really forces me to tidy up (which I REALLY enjoy having had done)..although in the true spirit of a typical Christmas I left the present and toy tornado stay in the family room and play room and just focused on tidying the kitchen. We had a mini Thanksgiving with a turkey (just the breasts), stuffing, cranberry sauce, jello, challah bread, peas, mashed potatoes, and gravy. It was all delicious...although it was a little more work than I had realized when we decided to do it. :) 


Chris and I ended the day with starting a crazy hard puzzle. (that we finished a week later)



Saturday, December 24, 2016

pregnant?

So we went in for our second IUI on Dec 2nd. Chris was busy with stuff at work and so I left Frederick with a friend and drove out to Birmingham by myself. They told me that since Chris signed the right, 'consent to thaw' paperwork before it wouldn't be a problem this time. But...someone ended up caring and I had to call Chris and let him give verbal consent to one of the nurses over the phone. Whatever. Whew. I'm just glad the IUI was able to happen. Its a quick and fairly painless procedure in a regular exam room, much like a pap smear.  I get so excited every time and the thought, "Maybe I'm pregnant!" goes through my mind about a million times a day from that moment on.  I would try and read into my body's signs and for the first week go back and forth between, "I think I'm pregnant!" to "I don't feel pregnant.. :( " sometimes multiple times a day.  But by the second week I was feeling more and more like I was growing another Archibald inside. I felt a little nauseous in the evenings, sensitive in some areas and had really clear skin.  I stopped trying to push myself to my limits at the gym and on runs in case all the jarring would cause another miscarriage like I sorta believed happen 4 years ago. (although the logical part of my brain knows that's not to blame).  Then 3 days before I was supposed to take a pregnancy test, I felt REALLY crampy, and other pre-period symptoms.. and my hopes dropped. I couldn't wait any longer and I took a test the next day... it was:



slightly postive! Chris kept telling me, there is no slight about it. Its positive.. just believe it! But I wasn't ready to let myself start dreaming. We waited another two days and took another test... positive! I called the doctors in Birmingham and they told me to get some blood work done at the lab in Starkville to confirm. The week before Christmas I went in and got a positive blood test! The doctors called me to confirm the pregnancy.  I let myself start dreaming and I was on cloud 9. Due date, August 21!! 3 days before Christmas I had to do another set of bloodwork to compare the levels and the next day got a call from the doctors that the numbers were low and going down... so I would probably miscarry sometime the next week.   I stayed calm on the phone and asked all the questions I wanted (such a nice nurse/doctor) but then broke down and cried pretty much for the next day and a half.  It was such a tender mercy that I my period came the next day so I wouldn't be on pins and needs for very long and I was able to get the heaviest day out of the way before Christmas.  But I was still. SO. SAD. Merry Christmas? No, it wasn't a Merry Christmas. But quickly after thinking that, I would tell myself, No... it IS a Merry Christmas. Christ was born to help us through our trials. He lived a perfect life and suffered unfathomable pain just so he would know how to comfort us in our sorrows. I had a sweet spiritual moment the day before I took the very first pregnancy test that whatever happened, Christ would be waiting for me to either cry with me if it didn't work out, or rejoice with me if it did.  As it happened... he was waiting and ready to cry with me. I have my Savior, I have my loving husband, and 4 bright children. It is a Merry Christmas. I just have to remind myself of that every time my sadness swells to the surface.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Getting Ready for Christmas


The weather finally cooperated and stopped raining long enough for us to go pick a tree out at a little farm in the next town over. I felt a little bit like I was trespassing since the farm was just run on somebody's personal property. The pickings were really slim and still a bit pricey and they didn't have the kinds of trees that I think of as normal Christmas trees... the needles grew flat. But I tried hard not to be disappointed and just be grateful for a live tree. By the time we got it all decorated, I was surprised how much it looked like a regular Christmas tree. yipee! We stood it on some food storage cans to give it a little bit more height so it would look a little more fitting in our vaulted ceilings.


Since we weren't traveling home for Christmas, I dreamed up the idea of it being a good year to finish projects! As hard as it will be to not see family or be around family for any of the Christmas traditions, I could look forward to relaxing days at home, reading books, doing puzzles, getting projects accomplished. Chris was even going to be home a week before the kids were out of school. How fun, right?! Somehow my days got filled up with stuff (chris had to go into work for a day and a half, kids' classroom parties, a postponed shopping trip with a friend, morning gym, piano lessons, babysitting for a friend, etc... that Chris and I actually felt like we barely got to see each other that week! We did manage to do one day of projects together...helping Santa out.


We've never had real stockings yet for our little family. We've used dollar store traditional red with white fur trim for the past few years to be stand-ins while I was on the hunt for just the right set of fabric so I could make ours.  This year, I just found some online that I liked and ordered them! I was able to personalize them just how I like with trimming back the top white trim and embroidering our names on them. I love them.  Also I finished a Christmas wreath for our front door and also two more projects for decorations that I've had to materials for for at least 5 years.




Chris finished burning our stump outside our bedroom window after the burn ban was lifted with all the rain we got at the beginning of December. The boys loved being 'firemen' and spraying water around the edge of it every time the surrounding grass caught on fire. 


We had some mild days with beautiful weather and gorgeous sunsets.


Then the kids got out of school a whole week before Christmas! We went to the skating rink one day and met friends at a park on another. We worked on Christmas cards and stayed in our pajamas until late afternoon. I only ran once. I was worried that Chris and the kids would take this vacation from work and school to heart and just leave messes for me to pick up everywhere... since I reach my messy limit faster than they do. But I let Chris know of my concerns in advance and he did a REALLY REALLY good job taking a fair share of getting meals started, and table cleared and kept the dishwasher busy etc.  







The kids earned lots of screen time (the PC Minecraft version we bought a year or so ago finally works on our new computer!!), doing their jobs and practicing the piano. They LOVED playing the Christmas songs.. especially the ones from the easy books. They each would just sit and play through the easy songs a couple of times a day just for the fun of it.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Freddy's birthday

Our darling Frederick turned 3! We started the day like normal with breakfast in bed: (gotta love frozen left over pancakes)

Then we finished making the frosting for his cake.



Even though we were not buying presents this year to save for Disneyland next month, we knew Frederick would have a hard time understanding that. We wrapped up an old (but new to him) soccer jersey that Alec and Charlie loved when they were his age, and also wrapped up some homemade gifts from his siblings and gifts from grandparents. It was perfect! We let him open the soccer jersey present early. This kid LIVES in soccer uniforms, complete with cleats... but now he has real soccer socks to go with them. He was pretty much smiling all day.





We opened the rest of the presents after lunch with cake and ice cream. He borrowed an batman cape and mask from a friend a few months ago and wore it every day for the week that we had it. So I helped my mom pick out a cape and mask set to give him for his birthday and made a batman cake for him. Chris decorated it. 





Gwen had a birthday party for a friend at Chick-fil-et that night and the rest of our family joined us there for Freddy's brithday dinner. Frederick didn't really want to part with any of his presents at bedtime so we spread them out on his floor. 



Frederick is CONSTANTLY moving: running, jumping, hopping on one foot, somersaulting, throwing, kicking, diving, rolling, sliding...whatever. I get random strangers asking me every now and then, "Is he always like this?" Yes, yes he is. But he also is almost always happy and smiling. He loves to cuddle and will pause for a few seconds laying his head on your shoulder with his arms wrapped tight around your neck (sometimes half of a minute if he's tired or just woke up).  In fact just yesterday he woke up from a nap and Charlie was getting him excited to watch screen time and kept saying, "Freddy come here! screen time!" but Freddy just stayed where he was (on my lap giving me the type of hug I just described) and said, "I'm hugging mommy."  He has the sweetest little voice when he says prayers and often reminds me at his bedtime or a meal "but we din-nent say pay-ohs yet."  He loves playing with his siblings or parents: catch, games, pretending house, or just 'being' stuffed animals. He loves to make a "foh-tress" with pillows and blankets and he loves to be read to. That is the only way to get him to stay still...or watching screen time. His favorite shows are Chuggington, Daniel Tiger, and Rescue Bots. He likes any time of pretend play where he gets to "save the day." The other day, Chris asked him to help him do something (I don't remember what.. maybe pick up toys, or bring Chris something from across the room) and Freddy replied, "No, I ah-weddy saved the day".  He also loves to sing and has most of his favorite show songs memorized. During Christmas I was so surprised at how quickly he picked up phrases in lots of the Christmas songs.  He really is such a joy in our lives, to all of us...even random strangers as he waves to them in his batman mask and cape over his soccer uniform.