Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! We had such a great day and hope everyone else did as well. We started the morning with quite the load from Santa!

Bulldozer is nice, but did you see this toothbrush?!? Dad?


Isaac scored with a much desired mountain bike.

Carter asked us, "Are you going to get me my electric spark scooter or do I need to ask Santa for it?" There was no thought that he may not get it. He just needed to know how to go about it. Lucky Santa had compassion on him!

Ashlyn was a bit easier. She just wanted a hula hoop!

The morning was so nice and relaxing. Everyone enjoyed their stockings and Santa gifts, we ate a quick breakfast, and then it was on to church.

We didn't have time to set up for a family picture, so we divided into guys with guys and gals with gals.

Pretty handsome, if I do say so myself!

After a really nice Sacrament Meeting we rushed back home for presents. We told the kids they'd have to wait until after Ian's nap to open them. How well do you think that went? Luckily we were kidding and opening presents by 10.

I waited in line for this Jeep at 2am at Walmart on Black Friday when I was pregnant with Ian. Glad I finally got my "must have" out of the box! :)

We had another spoiled Christmas with lots of fun stuff. The kids loved the day, Eric and I loved the day - everyone was happy and we had a house full of love. Thank goodness Santa got my letter. It was exactly what I asked for!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

More of the Season

Eric had the week before Christmas off and it was WONDERFUL!

We went to Winterhaven with some friends to look at the lights.

Love that Monty always has the double stroller to throw Ian in with Kase. It came in handy at Halloween, too... :)

The kids begged and BEGGED and begged to make gingerbread houses this year with real gingerbread. I finally caved and these were their beautiful creations.

The frosting was thick and too hard for them to squeeze, so I did not get any pictures of the process. I went from house to house to house squeezing, squeezing, squeezing - trying my best to follow instructions. My hand hurt so bad by the end of it, but I loved how they turned out and the kids had a great time.

Isaac and Ashlyn left theirs for Santa to eat, but Carter preserved his for just a little while longer.

The last few days before Christmas we went to Thatcher to play with Grandma and Grandpa. Eric and the kids raked up a big pile of leaves in Grandma Pearl's yard and they had a blast jumping in them.

Even Grandma Cindy got in on the action!

Cody, Emily, and Jackson also came down for a few days.

Pretty cute boys!

Ian LOVED the fudge!

Christmas Eve we had a family program with piano and violin playing, song singing, hat wearing, and of course....

...a visit from Santa!

He was so good to come and deliver the kids' pajamas from Grandma and Grandpa on such a busy night!

Ian didn't cry, but he sure wasn't going to smile. All of our Christmas Eve pictures were taken on Eric's iphone and most didn't turn out well. I need to get pictures from everyone else! I was sad that Ian's turned out the very worst.

All jammied up!

After Santa came we acted out the Nativity, but I don't have any pictures. If you ever want to come over for home movies... :) Ashlyn made a beautiful Mary, especially riding in on Cody the donkey. Eric was Joseph, Isaac and Carter were wisemen, Jackson and Ian were supposed to be shepherds, Grandma was the angel, and Grandpa was the narrator. The only time Ian really participated was when he was trying to kidnap baby Jesus.

After a great time with family, we loaded up in the van and went back home to Tucson to wait for the big man to come. It was perfect!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent Candles

A new tradition that we started this year is the Advent Candles. It's something Eric did every Christmas growing up and I have often admired my mother-in-law's candle holder. As a surprise this year, we received our very own in the mail right before the first Sunday of December. I love it!

Each Sunday we light a candle, read some scriptures, sing a song, and eat treats.

The first week we lit the Anticipation candle. We talked about the anticipation of the Christ Child, the prophecies that foretold his birth, and the excitement we feel as Christmas draws closer. Each week when we ask what the first candle is, Ashlyn always excitedly raises her hand. "It's the recipator", "It's the ancipatey", etc. She'll get it right one of these times! However she says it, she always knows what it means.

The second week is the Concern for Others candle. We talked about how we can serve and care for other people like the Savior did. I loved the ideas the kids came up with for ways that they can better love their fellowmen, especially at school. They're good kids.

The third week is the Light of the World candle or the Joy candle. We are so thankful for the light that Christ brings into our lives!

This week, the fourth week, was the Gifts for Christ candle. We talked about what gifts were given to the baby Jesus by everyone, not just the wisemen and what gifts we can give to Jesus now. It's a really great thing to ponder. Ashlyn was very quick to offer up our home.

Ian never lit a candle, but he did spend quite a bit of time trying to blow them out. He deserved a nose to the wall several times, but finally landed it when he pushed over my little tree. He's a stinker!

I'm thankful for the extra opportunities to talk about and ponder the birth and life of our Savior, and especially to teach my children of Him. What a wonderful season!

Ian's Sandboxes

The weather has been so COLD this winter! We've already had a few freezes, which is not the norm. I've been waiting for winter so that we could go on bike rides and picnics and play at the park, but that has not been the case. Our first freeze we picked all our oranges, covered our trees and bushes and brought in my potted rose bush. There is ALWAYS a reason why it is so quiet, although I'm usually enjoying it so much that I don't realize it's been so quiet before it's too late. Ian really enjoyed my rose bush the few days it was in. DVD's make really great shovels.

I was making biscuits the other morning and walked away for a minute (always a mistake), only to return to a boy who had pushed over a chair, climbed into the drawer, and was shoveling flour.

I picked out the perfect spot for a sandbox months ago and it is mostly cleared. Guess I need to just get it done. This boy needs a place to dig!

Trimming the Tree

Picking out our Christmas tree is one of our most favorite traditions. We've gone from the sad little lot where Eric and I got our first (almost their last) tree, to cutting it in the forest, to tree farms, to Walmart, to tree lots, etc., etc.. Every year we feel our tree is the most perfect and the most best. The last few years we've started picking a bound tree and looking forward to the grand unveiling when we cut the cords at home. We still have requirements - heighth, shape (you can still tell a lot when it's bound), health, etc. This year after rejecting Walmart and Costco we ended up at Lowe's for our perfect tree hunt. Let the games begin!

Carter is never one to pass up a higher vantage point. I think it definitely helped. :)

Eric and I found several good ones, but apparently height was the kids' main objective this year. We gave them a certain price range and then they hunted for the tallest one. Finally we found a winner.

Ashlyn and Ian were thrilled. It was freezing and raining. We know how to pick a good tree finding night.

Isaac left his sweatshirt at a football game and his jacket at school. "Better remember to bring it home next time! I'm taking Ian and Ashlyn inside. Guard the tree!" - Like anyone else was out there looking for one....

"Look happy about it!"

We finally got it home to begin our three day process. First night - set up. Second night - lights. Third night - ornaments. We like to drag things out as long as humanly possible.

Ta-dah and SCORE! A whole foot taller than it was marked. Nice find, boys!

Carter was the lucky star placer this year.

Let the ornament placing begin!

Don't be fooled. Those ornaments are not going on the tree. In fact the whole bottom third of our tree is devoid of beads and ornaments.

Yes, that is a broom swinging into my picture. Weilded by non other than Ian. He has been a joy with our Christmas decorations!

A few years back Walmart taught us that if you put in a can of lemon lime soda, a cap of bleach, and then fill the rest of your stand with water that it extends the life of your tree. It works like a charm. Unfortunately, it took us after our three days of decorating to realize that our carpet was soggy and that our tree stand was leaking. Thanks to a super awesome friend who volunteered her stand and her husband, we were able to successful switch out stands on a fully decorated Christmas tree without mishap. Miracle! My carpet, however, was not as lucky as our tree. The bleach was a double edged sword. No mold, but I have a nice bleach stain on my rug now. Guess I'll just have to go buy something to put on it once our tree is gone...;)

When we were finished with it all, I stepped back and looked at the single branch with 50 ornaments, the bare bottom third of our tree, and our crooked star and thought once again, "Our tree is the most perfect and the most best."