Wednesday, December 31, 2008

the missing Christmas letter

For those of you who usually receive our Christmas letter, you may have noticed that it hasn't arrived yet. The truth is, it hasn't gone out yet!

While it's accurate to say that this year December truly kicked my butt, this isn't all my fault. It is, of course, partially my fault. But I must point out that the letter was all ready to go out Monday the 22nd...aside from the recipient list, the stamps, and the labels. You may recall that it was during that time that our fair city was hit with the Arctic Blast '08. And I'm not blaming the postal service, because as far as I know the mail trucks kept on trucking. The problem wasn't the mail carrier at all, it was...

Electricity. We simply could not access our list, or print our labels...and, to tell you the truth, I had much bigger fish to fry than to peer through my address book and write them all out by hand. Do I feel guilty? Yes. Will I apologize? Yes. I do apologize. But I also contend that aside from my tardiness, there was no way those letters were going anywhere last Monday.

And Tuesday we headed to Idaho, where we couldn't proceed with printing anyway. Since we've gotten back it's been scurry, scurry, scurry...dealing with mountains of laundry, suitcases, boxes of Christmas gifts, re-stocking the refrigerator and pantry... all that sort of thing.

Still! I have hopes that the letter may make its way into the mailbox soon. Fear not! Though it still sits, unlabelled, unstamped, and shall make its tardy way to your doorstep (assuming you are on the recipient list) one day soon. And what better way to reminisce about Christmas than to read a letter which assumes it hasn't come yet?

Besides, there's a really cute photo in there that should make the wait worthwhile!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

our Christmas

We had a happy Christmas at my parents' house in Idaho. We took our time getting down to business; breakfast first, showers for those that wanted them, and then on to the fun.

Jeff reading the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke (with a little help from Ben)
Owen's first Christmas!
A sword fight in the name of peace on earth
Benjamin got a guitar this year! He was so excited. For the rest of our visit, when his neck wasn't hurting too badly, he could be found in the bedroom, strumming along with a CD the boys were given. Practice for when he's a moody teen, I guess.

Ben & Kyle going at it, boxing with the Wii. It's very strange to hear myself say "Hit him, Kyle!" and "Get him, Ben!"

It was a lovely time, and we are so thankful for the hospitality we were shown. Thanks for a great time, Mama & Dad. We love you!

p.s. Daddy, there never seem to be any pictures of you. We'll have to work harder at that on our next visit...

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to grandmother's house we go

Whew! We arrived home late yesterday evening, following a 12+ hour drive. And of course here I am in the midst of the chaos that is my home, blogging! But I'm sure that inquiring minds want a taste of what our visit was like...right?

Here is the lovely Christmas tree
We brought our gingerbread house stuff with us, so that Jeff and the boys could enjoy their annual construction & decoration. Benjamin got bored and wandered off, but Kyle had so much fun decorating it with his dad. They worked hard. I love this tradition of ours; this is the third year.
Owen's first visit to Grandma & Grandpa's house had to include the quintessential bath-in-the-kitchen-sink. Excuse the weird lighting...I must've had the flash on or something...
My mom and Ben making Christmas cookies. Ben is holding his neck because after he hurt it, he truly walked around like that for 3 days. But thankfully it didn't mean he couldn't help make these sweet treats.

Jeff, my dad, Ben & Kyle got out to play on the last morning we were there. They built a snow fort and had a great snowball fight. I'm not sure which team I was rooting I'm glad they ALL had fun!
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Saturday, December 27, 2008


1) Ben, an hour into the drive to Idaho, "I really really really wish we were at Grandma's house already. It's so... warm there."

2) Kyle, editing a Mii while using the Wii, "Gwandma, do you want to be skinny?"

3) Kyle, editing a Mii while using the Wii, "Dad, do you want to be skinny?"

4) Singing about Gary the Grandpa (it is supposed to be "Gary the Groundhog"), who lives underground...

Friday, December 26, 2008

belated Merry Christmas from a winter wonderland

We made it!

On Tuesday morning the highway was suddenly re-opened, and we decided to make a break for it. The suitcases were already packed, but Jeff and I fairly flew around all morning, tending to a million small details that needed attention before we could leave. It was a long trip, 13 hours. As anticipated, it was not an entirely peaceful drive. And our arrival was rough: after 1:00 AM, rousing sleeping children and then getting them back to sleep a while later. But still, so worth it!

We have had a nice visit so far, and we're only about halfway through our time here. If I can figure out how to post pictures on my dad's computer, I will. Otherwise I'll have a quite a lot of blogging to do after we get home next week.

For now, we are enjoying the company of my parents, the warm of their wood stove, and the beauty of the scenery where they live. If you thought we had snow at home, you should see it here: there is a good 36 inches of snow! Happily, we brought our snowshoes. Mom, Benjamin, Kyle and I had a nice tramp around in the snow this morning (the boys were on a sled; what a workout for the arms that is!) and it was just breathtaking. I must take some photos tomorrow...

And so, a belated Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope you've had a blessed time celebrating our Savior's birth. I am so grateful for my family, for health, for Jeff's job, for my sweet boys. And most of all, I am thankful for that gift of baby Jesus: the greatest gift of all.

Now, a couple of prayer requests:

1) Ben hurt his neck yesterday and is in a lot of pain. As near as we can tell, it's a pinched nerve or something of the sort. The pain sort of ebbs & flows, and like a dork I had packed infant Tylenol, Tylenol Cold, Hylands' Teething Tablets, and Sesame Street Band-Aids, but NOT regular old Tylenol (or Advil) for my sweet 6-year-old. It's not serious, but it hurts to see him like this, and it definitely puts a damper on his time at grandma & grandpa's house. Would you pray that he would feel better soon?

2) If it's possible, Kyle is sleeping even worse here than he had been during the autumn at home. Only now the five of us are in a room together, so everyone's sleep is disturbed. Would you pray that his sleep would be sweet, and that our family would be able to to enjoy some decent rest while we're here? Thank you so much.

On the upside, we enjoyed Owen's first Christmas, our happy day yesterday, and being with my parents for Christmas, after all. Now if only I could get over my lack-of-high-speed-Internet withdrawal symptoms!

Have a wonderful, magical week!

Monday, December 22, 2008

the arctic blast

Our power supply has been pretty spotty today, but for the moment we're good. I thought I'd share a few pictures from today. Jeff was out shoveling the driveway again, and the boys joined him for some fun times in the white stuff.

Here is Jeff's car:

Kyle requested that I take a picture of him eating some "hard snow."

the cheerful crew

And here is another look at what our yard looks like right now. Fun...and crazy!

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socked in

You'd never know it to read my blog (thanks to Blogger's faithfully posting scheduled entries!) but the past few days have been quite an adventure around here. The snow has been steadily increasing since Friday. I would be surprised if anyone in the city had church on Sunday. It's astounding to look out the window; I have never seen such snow here.

And to top things off, yesterday afternoon we lost power. It's been quite an adventure since then. Thankfully we have a gas fireplace, so we do have a source of heat even when the electricity is on the fritz. But staying warm has still been a challenge. And we've been scrambling to try and use up the perishable food.

We were without power for 22 hours. It came back for 1 hr 20 minutes this afternoon, and then was gone again for another hour and a half or so. During our brief respite this afternoon Jeff and I scrambled around like crazy people: cooking, making popcorn, running the dishwasher and the clothes dryer.

Obviously I am taking advantage of having power on again to do a little blogging. I just wanted to share what's been going on, but also to ask for prayer. We cannot be confident that the power will remain on, and we could be in for an interesting night. It's already been a struggle: morale, preparing food, keeping everyone warm. Also, we were supposed to be heading to visit my parents in north Idaho for Christmas. It is looking as though that will likely not happen. This is a really sad thing all around (Kyle was in tears last night because he wanted to go to Idaho just then). We were really eager to be with them for Christmas. But... the highways are all closed, the weather outside is frightful, and, to top it off, our part of the city has been declared to be in a state of emergency.

Somehow I doubt we'll be getting out of town any time soon.

"Not me!" Monday

Can I just take this moment to say that I love reading stuff from MckMama. She makes me want to be a better blogger. Ok... Hold onto your hats, people; here we go!

So, to start us off: I definitely don't start thinking about my "Not Me"s up to six days prior to Monday. Certainly not. I have much better things to occupy my thoughts. Jiminy, it's a small wonder that I am just now getting my Christmas letters sent out...

I for sure didn't choke back tears not once, not twice, but at least three times whilst reading Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" on my firstborn's sixth birthday. Nope, not me. I would never be so sentimental. Certainly not about a Dr. Seuss book. Not ever. What's that? You recall my mentioning something about crying while reading "Horton Hatches the Egg"? I don't remember that at all.

I definitely am not loving this license to go wild with italics. Certainly not me! I am, if nothing else, a model of restraint. I haven't historically struggled with being too free with the passive voice, either. Not this girl. Just don't ask my English teachers. Or my dad.

And I certainly am not being kicked in the butt by the month of December this year! Never. Wait, what? You haven't received your Christmas letter in the mail yet?! Must be those poor overworked postal carriers...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

tell me honestly

Home made teething buscuits: Oat 'n Naner Drops. (I claim no association with this cutesy name!)

What will Owen think?

He's decided to try one...

I think we have a winner!
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Owen's new trick

We are snowbound here, so I have a little extra time this morning. I thought I'd show you Owen's newest trick. He loves to do it, and loves the way we laugh when he does!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

a poem I read today...

Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

snowy weather

We are having a snowy week here, and loving it! We got more snow this morning, but unfortunately it was starting to melt already by the time the boys made it outside. Still, they had fun!

Here is Kyle playing with an empty wrapping paper tube:
And Ben, learning to shovel snow already!
Kyle discovered that he could "wash" the window by rubbing a snowball on it; he worked at this for a long time. Owen thought it was fascinating.
Here are my three boys: two outside and one inside. All having fun, though!
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Benjamin is 6 years old!

My first baby turns 6 years old today! How time flies. I still vividly remember his birth (you can read the birth story here) seems like yesterday in so many ways. Yet how our lives have changed in the last six years! What an adventure it's been, and continues to be.

This morning we celebrated at breakfast with blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs. Tonight after Jeff gets home we'll give him his present and head to the pizza parlor (where his party was held) for dinner. And maybe we'll play even some games in the arcade while we're there!

Happy Birthday to my Ben, who is so sweet and such a bright light in our lives. You're getting so big! Daddy and I love you and are so proud of you.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


1) Kyle: Hey, I have a sand ball in my ear.
Daddy: Um, actually, that's earwax.

2) "Look, Dad! It's a Christmas elk!"

3) When I was up at 4am feeding Owen, Kyle crying to his dad about having lost a cupcake in his bed. What??

4) Ben, after coming in from playing in the snow: "You know what I want to do now? I want to sit by the fireplace, watch 'Bob the Builder,' and drink hot chocolate." (blissful sigh)

5) Kyle: "Ben, Ben! Calm down!!!"

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Not me!" Monday

Here is another Monday, and as always, my "Not Mes" are inspired by the lovely and charming MckMama.

On Saturday, we did not come home from Benjamin's birthday party to spend the afternoon unwrapping and playing with birthday gifts. Because there was quite a bit of laundry to be done, so I definitely would have done it. No piles of dirty clothes in my house, ever!

And our family did not have two consecutive family movie (dinner) nights over the weekend. And if we had, the first one would certainly not have been a meal of pizza leftover from earlier in the day. Because while pizza is utterly delicious, we definitely would never eat it for two out of three meals a day... And so of course, we wouldn't have spent dinnertime watching movies two nights in a row. Because how can you have a meaningful conversation while watching movies?

I certainly have started writing our family's Christmas letter this year, because I have not been a bit overwhelmed, somehow, by the cooking, cleaning, washing, birthday preparations, etc. in our house lately. And I definitely wouldn't spend any potential letter-writing time blogging, would I? That wouldn't be nearly as productive...

Furthermore, I have most definitely started wrapping Christmas presents. Because it's ten days until Christmas, for crying out loud!!!

Speaking of the Christmas season, I have absolutely not fallen off the "no sugar" wagon in the past two months or so. Because I am not at all tempted by sweets, and although I believe that sugar is a bigger health problem than most people think, I have certainly not succumbed on a number of occasions including Thanksgiving, a Pampered Chef party which featured chocolate, and Benjamin's birthday party. And also this morning, just because it was Monday. Definitely not.

Also? I have certainly not gained back 5 lbs since re-introducing sugar to my diet. What? I have more self-control than that, no matter what the scale might say...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

it's a pirate party

Today we celebrated Ben's birthday (which is coming up in a few days) with a pirate party! It was a lot of fun.

For the first time we had a lunchtime birthday party away from home; it was at a local pizza place, which was really great. No pre-party cleaning, minimal post-party cleaning, a lot more space...and they have a video arcade, which was a big hit.

Here is a photo of the cake, a treasure chest:
Me two scurvy dogs!
Grandpa enjoying some time with his two younger grandsons.
Ben blew out all six candles in one puff!
My boys do enjoy their cake! Here is Pirate Kyle:

And Ben walking the plank:

Inspecting the loot!
We had a great time, it worked out really well. And we had all afternoon at home to figure out how to open all of those toy packages...

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Friday, December 12, 2008

baby's first Christmas

It's always fun to choose a special ornament whenever we have a child experiencing his first Christmas. We've chosen to buy ornaments that have a similar "look" and to have the child's name engraved. This year we got Owen's name, and also his birthdate.

Here is Owen's special ornament. The engraving is on the bottom of the ornament, so unless you visit our home at Christmastime, I guess you're out of luck.

This one is Kyle's. It's a Mother Goose book that opens and has a place for a small photograph inside. His name is engraved on the spine.

And here is our firstborn, Benjamin's, ornament. His birthday is very near Christmas, and I vividly remember being stuck in the mall parking lot in horrible traffic on Christmas Eve, after we picked it up from the engraving place. We were determined that our 7 day old baby have his ornament for Christmas, though! Ah, new parenthood...

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