Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Love

Of the Christmas presents I received, this is one of my favorite. Several weeks ago I put my over 10 year old Nalgene water bottle in the dishwasher. The top part fell down onto the heating element and melted. I wasn't worried about getting another bottle anytime soon. But when Porter and Doug were out shopping for Christmas presents for me, Porter told his dad he wanted to get me a new water bottle. So they went to the sporting goods store and picked out one for me in my favorite color. I was so touched by Porter's thoughtfulness. It made me feel so loved! I guess it's just an example of how it's not the size or expense of the gift, it's the thought and the love behind it that makes it so special.

Mom, Your Belly's Getting Bigger

We are excited to announce:

I'm going to be a big brother.... again! I'm going to be a big sister... finally!

Three in the tub will be so much more fun!


I sent this photo announcement to my parents a couple of weeks ago, and I've wanted to make this post for a long time now, I but waited until now because I didn't want Doug's family to hear our news via my blog.

My due date is the end of May or beginning of June. We are excited and nervous. Excited because babies are just exciting, nervous because we will be outnumbered... I already feel stretched between two children... and well, having three kids sounds so grown up!

We wanted to tell Doug's parents in person, so we waited to tell them when they came to visit for Christmas. Our plan kind of backfired. Doug was hoping his parents would be able to tell just by looking at me that I was pregnant. I am showing, but I guess not enough to be so obvious at first glance. Oh well, it was still fun to tell them in person and to see their reactions. We then made phone calls to Doug's sister and aunts. It's fun to have the news officially out!
When I was about 14 weeks along, Porter looked at my tummy and said "Mom, your belly's getting bigger, there must be a baby in there!" I laughed and said, "Porter, you must be right!" Nothing gets by him. Sophia is excited too, she will point to my tummy and random times and say "Baby!"

Christmas Day

Okay, so I failed at my job of photo documenting Christmas! I have two terrible pictures of the kids... that's it!!! In the video department, we have each kid coming down the stairs to see what Santa brought... that's it!!!

In our Christmas preparations, we tried to exercise caution and not spoil our kids too much... I don't know how successful we were. I felt like by the time they opened presents from Santa, mom and dad, siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles, that they came away with quite a bit! Before Christmas we took the kids to donate some presents, and we talked to them about giving. We had several family home evenings on the true meaning of Christmas, but I still felt like the actual Christmas day wasn't too Christ centered. It was fun, and it brought me joy to see my kids excited with their toys, but I know that there should be more to Christmas than that.

I've heard of some suggestions on how to limit the materialism of Christmas. To one family we know, Santa only brings one present per child. Another family whose children are older lets her kids ask for three things, and relates the categories to the gifts from the wise men. I can't remember the symbolism behind the links, but the gold gift is something purely worldly, the Muir gift is something educational and the frankincense is something spiritual.

The Ensign told of a family who took their kids shopping for another family, explaining they would still get presents for Christmas, but they wouldn't get as much. One of the primary lessons I recently taught told of a family who heard of another family who didn't have anything for Christmas, so on Christmas morning, the father told his children to pick their most prized gift received to give to this family who had none. The family went together to deliver their Christmas dinner and gifts, then they floated (filled with the true Christmas spirit) home and ate the best tasting beans and bread they had ever eaten. Do you have ideas or things you've heard about or done; things I can file away for next year?

As I've mentioned before, this was our first Christmas at home, and we didn't do everything perfectly. We learned a few practical things about a successful Santa visit, and will remember those lessons next year! For example, tired kids on Christmas morning make for cranky kids! With our Christmas Eve program and dinner they went to bed later than normal, and woke up terribly cranky. They are too young to let their excitement overcome their fatigue. The other big lesson we learned: Santa needs to put toys together on Christmas Eve. We kind of figured that's what Christmas Day was for, putting things together and playing with them. But Porter could have cared less about his race track in a box. He didn't seem excited at all, but we finally got around to putting it together that afternoon, and he thought it was the coolest toy in the world. We missed out on some elated squeals of joy because toys were still in boxes awaiting assembly!

I didn't even feel homesick until I talked to my family on the phone, and they all told me how Christmas wasn't the same without me there. Sigh... Despite that and my paranoia of trying to make the day perfect, we did have a wonderful day full of quality family time. Happy memories!


Sophie is as miserable as she looks, she didn't appreciate the assistance in unwrapping her present that Porter was trying to render.

Near the end of present unwrapping, Sophia collapsed in a fit of frustrated tears. She thought all of the presents should be hers. Doug commented in a line similar to the Bernstein Bears book, Too Much Birthday, "Sophia's had too much Christmas!" She cheered up when directed to some breakfast and some play time.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fun with Grandma

Doug's mom left today after a week long visit. We had a wonderful time. I even sat her down to read my blog in it's entirety! She's such a good sport! In the past I've really worried about entertaining her and needing to stay busy the whole time. This time I relaxed about that. I didn't worry that we weren't out sightseeing the whole time. When she was playing with the kids, I would slip away and do my own thing... it was so nice. The kids were both so excited for her to come, and they enjoyed spending quality and quantity time with her.


The day after Grandma arrived the kids sat her down for a showing of Sophia's favorite, Dora the Explorer.


We finally found the perfect time to play at Chuck E. Cheese's... A Thursday morning at opening time. The place was practically deserted. No waiting in line for rides, no panic induced searching for a missing child through the dense crowds... It was actually a pleasant experience.

Sophia's favorite exhibit was this Barney train. She used at least 10 tokens to be able to sit next to the purple dinosaur.


Porter rode the helicopter bike up to the ceiling, and wanted to give Sophia a ride. Thankfully with her on his lap, he couldn't reach the pedals, so they settled for a picture instead of a ride up.

Porter spent most of his time carousing the ticket producing games, but he couldn't resist a chance to ride with Bob. Can he fix it? Yes he can!



Next stop: The Zoo! Doug went into work late so he could join us for a few animal exhibits.

Grandma spoiled the kids with snow cones, unfortunately both kids dropped their respective treats within a few minutes. Porter set a good example by not throwing a fit; Sophia took the disappointment more to heart. Fortunately we were waiting in line for a train ride, another treat from grandma. I feel like we've ridden quite a few little trains, but I realized as I watched Sophia intently watching the passing landscape, that she probably doesn't remember any of them. It was fun to watch her experience, according to her memory, her first train ride. She didn't squeal in delight, she just watched in fascination.

We let Porter pick our seats. Thus the beware of fumes and high heat seats! It was worth a little smoke to see humor his enthusiasm!

The Children's Zoo. Porter chose to eat his lunch atop this rock. Sophia joined him later.

The Petting Zoo


Doug captured these cool pictures of Sophia exploring the tunnel in the Natural Wonders exhibit.

Notice Sophia's warm clothes. The day started out so chilly, but it took a lot of convincing to con her into donning something heavier than her preferred shorts and tank top. Thanks goodness dad was home to undertake the difficult task of persuading our strong willed two year old.

A group photo in front of the tigers. It was a great day to go, being there early with chilly weather, the animals were very active.

We had a nice visit with Barb and hope that she'll return soon! Sophia keeps asking where her grandma is. When I tell her that she went back home on an airplane, Sophia keeps saying, "Have to go get her. Have to bring her back." She is missed.

Christmas Memories

To date, I haven't accumulated very many Christmas decorations. But one of my favorites is my tree. Although it is still a work in progress, I loved having, for the first time in my married life, a large tree. This is the first Christmas where we have stayed home for the holidays, and what is Christmas morning without a tree?

I tried to create the beginnings of my ideal tree with complementary ornaments, but I didn't take into account the fact that Porter would bring home from preschool and primary, cute ornaments with his picture plastered to them. So... onto my color coordinated tree they went! My kids did pretty well with leaving the ornaments where I had placed them. My friends kids didn't do so well. Maybe next year I will have two trees, one for me and one for the kids!

I originally wanted an angel to top the tree, that's what I grew up with. But Porter was insistent that we have a star. I decided that if it was that important to him, then our tree could be topped with a star. However, by the time we started looking for one, we couldn't find one that I liked. I guess that will be a priority for next Christmas season.

So, here's a picture of our tree, it may not be perfect, but it and all of the memories associated with it are mine and I love them!


Another one of my favorite Christmas decorations is my Willow Tree Nativity. I used to work at an antique store during my college summer and Christmas vacations. Last summer I visited my old boss, and noticed some willow tree figures in her curio cabinet. A long time ago she had told me that I could always come back and buy things at cost. I don't know if she remembered her promise, but when I asked if she could get willow tree figures through her store, she agreed to order it for me set at cost plus shipping. I was so excited!

This is the second Christmas I've been able to set it up, and I just love it! I love how Mary is holding baby Jesus, I love the simplicity in the carvings, and I love that the expressions on their faces are left to the viewers imagination. I love how the set invites the spirit of Christ into Christmas.


Christmas Eve

Our Christmas season this year was one of creating our own traditions together. This was the first time we've ever stayed home for the holidays. With the ages of our children I felt a great responsibility in teaching them true meaning of Christmas and in making Christmas memorable and special for them. I don't know if we were entirely successful, but we gave it a good effort and learned some things to do (and not to do) next year!

Because Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, church was obviously a part of our Christmas Eve activities. Our ward organized a fabulous program full of Christmas music. It was beautiful and I truly felt the spirit of Christ as we celebrated the birth of our Savior.

After church Doug's dad flew in, so the crew went to fetch him from the airport. I stayed home to start our evening preparations. For Christmas Eve my mom always had a nice dinner and a little program. I wanted to do the same thing. I didn't want to spend my Christmas day cooking, so having a nice Christmas Eve dinner sounded like the perfect alternative.

Our program included singing Christmas carols until the kids wandered into the other room. We gathered them around again for a reenactment of the Nativity story. Doug read from the bible, and the kids acted it out. Sophia was so excited to be Mary and Porter eagerly agreed to be Joseph. They were so cute! Next year I will dress up the adults so we can participate too. We needed an angel and some Shepards.

While this may sound funny, I think one reason they were such willing participants is because of the Wiggles Christmas video. Sophia recently became aware of the Wiggles, and she loves them! It's been viewed regularly as a part of our holiday preparations. There's a scene in the Christmas video where the kids dress up and reenact the Nativity, one of the Wiggles talks to each child about his or her part in the play. I noticed Porter (Joseph) putting his hand on Sophia (Mary's) shoulder, just like he does in the video. And Sophia knew exactly what to do as Mary. There is some good, besides ten seconds of peace, that comes out of viewing kids shows!

After our nativity show, we played a game that originates from Doug's family. Every year since I've know them they get together with extended family for a holiday meal and a white elephant game. Doug's mom usually provides the gifts, we took on her role this year. The gifts are wrapped, and the first person selects one and opens it. The second person can take the first person's gift, or select an unwrapped one of his own. We start oldest to youngest, and go through the group. There are always lots of laughs as the presents are unveiled and the gifts are "stolen."





Joseph and Mary

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Cards

I love the idea of posting Christmas cards, past and present on my blog, but for lack of time, I am going to leave the project for next Christmas! For the time being I just want to blog about how much I love Christmas cards!

Over the course of my life, so many people have left an impression upon my heart. There are so many people that I love and admire from: my childhood, my pre-mission college days, my mission, my post-mission college days, my first teaching job, my early married days in two towns, and my time in Texas. I want to know what my old friends are doing, and how things are going in their life, but I find it too difficult to connect with everyone on a regular basis; there are just not enough hours in the day (which is one reason I am loving this blogging thing, and wish that everyone would start one!)

I have found that Christmastime is the perfect time to reconnect with old friends; people who I still love and miss and care about. I look forward to getting the mail, and seeing the pictures and reading the letters. I love hearing about what every one's kids are doing. I love knowing how things are going, for better or for worse. Christmas cards are certainly one of my very favorite Christmas traditions, and one that I look most forward to! I incorporate all the cards I receive in a scrapbook, so I can look back and see the change and growth in every one's families. Thanks to all who have send me cards, and updated me on your lives, whether it was via email or USPS, they have brightened my Christmas season!

For those of you who are wondering, if you love Christmas cards so much, why haven't I received one from you this year? You are not alone, I am resorting to an e-card for the second year in a row, I was unable to pull it together to prepare and send one by snail mail, but I am grateful for the technology that allows me to connect with friends at this Christmas season. Perhaps next year I will be able to pull off traditional Christmas cards again!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Santa



My kids are both anti-Santa, but they want him to bring them some presents. They have written him letters detailing their Christmas wishes. They will not go near him in a store. I am sure Sophia's phobia stems from Porter's... It's hard on my dad, who has a beautiful Santa suit, and who loves to dress up in it at Christmas. It's not very much fun when the kids that you're trying to entertain scream and run the other way... But I don't feel the need to force them to like Santa, or sit on his lap if they don't want to. I guess I've read too many books on sexual predators, and keeping your kids safe. One hint is to not force them to go near people with whom they feel uncomfortable. Regardless of the holiday or relationship.

Nevertheless, Sophia did agree to sit on my lap at the ward Christmas party for a photo. She wouldn't go near him by herself, which was fine. Notice her cute "Santa" dress my parents sent her!

I thought it would be fun to copy my kid's Santa Letters....

Dear Santa Claus:

For Christmas I would like:
  • a remote control car
  • a spiderman bullet shooter (like the one I saw at Primary)
  • a remote control boat
  • a remote control buzz lightyear
  • candy

Thank you!

Porter

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

addendum

Dear Santa:

  • I really want to have a new real light saver so I can fight (remember real, not pretend)
  • and maybe a dog
  • and a wishing box
  • and a spiderman coloring book and hammer

Porter

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Santa

For Christmas I would like:

  • an Elmo doll
  • a baby doll bed
  • a doll house
  • a new coloring book

Thank you!

Sophia

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay, so I wrote Sophia's for her, but she agreed to everything on the list. She's been asking for a doll house for the past two months. And everytime she does, I say maybe Santa will bring you one, so now when someone asks her what she wants from Santa, she says, "A Doll House." Santa picked one up over a month ago, just to make sure little Sophia wouldn't be disappointed Christmas morning!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mother's Intuition

It's been a few days since my last post due to sick children and major Christmas preparations. Doug's mom is flying in on Tuesday, and while my huge to do list before Barbara arrives has been modified several times we made one last push on Saturday to get a few more things checked off the list before we abandoned the list entirely. But we are excited to have family here!

I carpool with another mom in the neighborhood for pre-school. The other mom brought Porter home on Thursday afternoon. Porter seemed happy and healthy, begging to have his classmate stay and play, but immediately after walking in the door, he headed to the couch, laid down and said he didn't feel well. He was running a fever and complaining that his stomach hurt. He slept for a while, in the meantime a napless Sophia was melting down tugging at her ears. I thought, oh great, she's sick too! But after a nap she seemed happy and healthy again. After the Motrin kicked in Porter seemed to be doing better too, although he had lost his appetite.

I thought maybe he could kick what ever but he had, until after his Friday afternoon nap. He woke up crying, holding his throat, and very feverish. My mother's intuition told me, take this child to the doctor, I bet he has strep throat. I am so grateful that my doctor's office was willing to squeeze me in at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. They told me to come right on over.

The doctor confirmed my suspicions, gave Porter a big old shot in his bottom...OUCH! Making me feel terribly guilty, because before going I promised him they wouldn't be giving him a shot, I assumed he would have an oral antibiotic. The nurse told me it was a nasty shot. The receptionist let Porter take three stickers instead of one, because it was a particularly painful shot... a three sticker shot! I asked if they would give Sophia a prescription over the phone, if she came down with the symptoms. They said, no, they would have to do a culture, but they could do a culture on her right then. I happily agreed to that, her test came back negative, but her ears showed that she did indeed have an ear infection... so that shot didn't spare us a 10 day run of antibiotics after all! But at least, if she does come down with strep, the antibiotic they gave me covers both things.

I am grateful for the mother's intuition that says to me, this kid is sick, take him in! I feel like I still have a long ways to go in totally discerning it. Sometimes I hesitate or question it, but the more illnesses I see, the better I think I am becoming at distinguishing between which ones need professional care and which ones will take care of themselves. I hate it when my kids are sick, it worries me so much. I often think, why didn't I got into nursing! Or why can't I talk one of my brothers into going into medicine. It's so hard to learn the world of medicine through trial and error! But at least we have the spirit to help guide us in the nursing of our sick children! I always worry about the germs, especially at this time of hear, that are found in the doctor's office. I feel I have to weigh the risk/benefit of taking a sick child in to a potentially sicker environment. This time, we made the right choice... and both kids are feeling much better!

Perhaps this should have been my first clue that Porter was coming down with something. He fell asleep at the table at 6pm while waiting for me to finish dinner!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book Blog

As proof that I truly have caught the blogging fever, and have no idea when I will recover, I have started another blog.

I invite you all to check it out at: http://world-through-these-eyes.blogspot.com/

This blog is devoted entirely to the books that I have read. I often think, I should keep a list of the books that I am reading, with a note about what I thought about the book, and what I learned from it. With the world of blogging this will be easy and fun to do. Better yet I can share my thoughts with my friends and family too! Because I am always looking for new titles, I hope that you'll share your thoughts and favorite books in the comments!

Monday, December 11, 2006

seeking the perfect christmas card photo

October 2006

Thank you Audra for taking these awesome pictures of my family right before you moved! I wanted to share some of my favorites. I posted them in three blog entries, based on the themes of the photos. Every year we quest after the perfect Christmas card photos, and I am finding that it's getting more difficult as we have more children and as those children get older. The following are my favorites...










sophia

October 2006

Despite Sophia's unwillingness to smile, Audra captured some precious facial expressions in her mini photo shoot of Sophia and with persistence captured some smiles!













Sophia loves her daddy!

Note the expression on Sophia's face as she watches Tanner dig in!

Mud Buddies

October 2006

Best Buddies


I think everyone loves the C* boys and Porter is no exception. Their move has been especially hard on Porter, who still gets a little teary eyed each time their departure comes up. He continues to ask when we will be visiting them. When I was five I don't think I had ever had a friend move, but Porter has seen almost

all of his good friends move. I feel bad for him, because I know how much it hurts my heart when my good friends move, and how lonely I feel ...Audra I am still mourning your departure too! I am grateful for modern technology, for free long distance, for blogging and emails-- they make keeping in touch so much easier!
The C* family stayed with us the night before they moved, and Audra graciously took so many fun pictures of her boys and of our family. I wanted to post them, because she successfully captured the magic (and mud) the boys create when they are together. They are all boy, they play the same way, and they have so much fun in the process! Audra finally just started bringing a change of clothes for her boys each time she came to visit, because it was impossible to keep the boys out of the water and the mud... Here's the proof...



Mud Buddies

Tough Guys

Yum!





Cleaning Up

On your mark, get set, go!


High Five's



Little Monkeys


Popcorn and Movie Time--
Right before this picture was taken, Jordan said to me "Angela you're making this the best place on earth!" It made me feel good he was having such a good time!


Fall Fun


In control of the hose

I love the expression Audra captured in Porter's face... pure delight