Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Daily December 31: Happy New Year's Eve!

Wow,  I didn't really know if I was going to be able to make it the whole month of December with daily blogging, but I did.  Yeah!  Thank heavens for the option to schedule your posts ahead of time :)  I think December is kind of a crazy month to do that, but there is also lots to share.  I hope you have enjoyed it.  We are getting ready for our New Year's Eve get together with some friends tonight.  It has sort of become a tradition that we have Chinese food for dinner, which I love!

One of my contributions is egg rolls.  I make my mom's recipe which she got from some friends when I was about 8 who are from Africa.  I know Africa and egg rolls don't really go together, but my African friend's egg rolls are the best!  They are a process to make, but it makes tons and are so worth it.  So, we are egg roll wrapping today so we can devour them tonight and ring in the New Year! 

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and here's to more blogging next year!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Daily December 30: Fun new games

We love games at our house.  We got some fun new ones for Christmas that I wanted to share.
*Ratuki is a fun, fast paced card game that Miss A got.  Very quick to play and very addicting. 
*LeftCenterRight is a dice game with chips that we played last year at a school family game night, and we loved it.  I didn't know where to find it, but then Wal-mart had it advertised right before Christmas, so I ran out and got one for Miss E.  It is really fun and simple. 
*The Scrambled States of American Game is a fun US geography type card game based on the book by Laurie Keller. 
*Rory's Story Cubes is an awesome imagination game.  Anyone can come up with a cool story, no right or wrong answers, just roll the dice and think of a story.

New Year's Eve/Day is always a big game playing time at our house.  We will be playing these and others.  Hope you have fun playing games at your house too!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Daily December 29: House lights

I thought I better post this before we take these down this weekend.  Ben is our lights extraordinaire expert.  I can't make it beyond the second rung of a ladder.  I direct from the ground.

He put these up before Thanksgiving.  Great job on the lights sweetie!  Now you get to take them down :)  Until next year. . .

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daily December 28: My gift to Ben

Today my sweetie and I are celebrating our sweet 16.  16 years of marriage.  16 years of love, fun, sweat, tears, laughter, and everything in between.  They have been the 16 best years of my life, and I wouldn't exchange them for anything.  I am looking forward to another 50 plus to come :)  Sure love you sweetie!

For Christmas I wanted to do something extra special for Ben.  My dad is a professional artist and a retired college art professor.  He does private commissions all the time, but he has never done my kids, so for Christmas this year I commissioned my Dad to draw my kids as my Christmas present for Ben.  I loved the way they turned out!  I cried when I saw them.  They are amazing!!!  The below pictures do not do them justice.  I just took them before they were matted and framed with my point and shoot, but you get the general idea and can see how good they are.

Mr J

Miss O

Miss E--love how she has her head cocked

Miss A

My Dad took pictures of the kids and then drew from the pictures he took.  He only works off his own photos that he takes.  My dad is amazing.  Needless to say Ben loved them.  We are excited to hang and display them at home.  Of my 16 years of wedded bliss, these 4 kids are my greatest treasures.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Day 2011

Christmas Day in the morning (like 6:30 in the morning :)
Stockings are always first at our house
It isn't Christmas without some kind of train for Mr J
Who would think you could get so excited about a book?  Love it :)
Or pens and stationary?  Miss A is a writer.
HP Legos are definitely something to get excited about.
I was super excited about my gifts--Project Life Cobalt edition for 2011--yeah!!
All ready for Church.  Miss A played a piano solo and did wonderful, and Miss E's snap watch matches her dress so well, but it was a present from her sister, so what can you do? :)  love it
After church we went to my parents for lunch and more presents.  We all loved our new BYU shirts that Ben's parents gave us.  They know us really well.

Hope you all had a blessed and wonderful Christmas!!

Christmas Eve 2011

Mr J played 5 Christmas songs that we sang to.  I was impressed.   He did a great job.  Miss A, Miss O, and Miss E also all played Christmas songs that we sang to.  We sing a lot on Christmas Eve :)
Miss O and my brother-in-law played guitars while we sang.

Then we do our Nativity re-enactment.  Miss E was Mary.  The 3 wise men are visiting the baby here. (yes, the baby was a teddy bear, can you believe we have no baby dolls in my house?  The kids looked and looked.  Not a one could be found.  Where did they all go?  Kind of made me sad.
The kids always open one present on Christmas Eve---new pajamas.

This year they got a bonus present to open Christmas Eve, and I think it was their favorite of all.  Ben's dad always makes the kids some cool thing for Christmas.  He is very creative.  This year he made them all real wood, fancy, individualized (with their name and different designs and jewels) Harry Potter wands in boxes with labels from Olivander's in Hogsmeade and with labels that said, "This wand picked you, Mr J"  The kids were so excited about their wands!  Thank you Grandpa and Grandma!  The spells are flying around my house!  Huge HP fans here!

Daily December 27: Blue Jeans Week 49

What a week, what a week--you prepare and prepare for this time of year and it goes so quickly, but we enjoyed it.  I hope you did too.
Sunday:  Before Church we had a little bit of quiet time, and Mr J read to Miss E.  Yes, my kids fight like cats and dogs, but every once in a while they get a long, and we have some nice peace.  I try to get pictures of those moments so I can remember them amidst the cat and dog fights :)
Monday:  Christmas goodie plates--got them ready and delivered

Tuesday:  School Christmas program.  Miss E is in the middle black and white dress playing the alto recorder.  I am so grateful that my kids go to a public school and they can sing "Silent Night," "Away in a manger," and talk about the real meaning of Christmas-- their classrooms have a nativity set in them.  I count that a blessing of living in a small town.

Wednesday:  We made big, soft gingerbread men cookies tonight--a favorite Christmas tradition

Thursday:   Around Christmas we always like to go up to the big city for a night to see the lights and spend a night in a hotel with an indoor pool--another fun Christmas tradition
Friday:  Miss A's birthday and her cake.  It is a tradition at our house that the birthday kid gets to decorate their own cake.  My kids love doing that.  They get to do it with their Dad.
Friday picture #2: Another Christmas tradition is the kids always get to sleep by the Christmas tree the night of the 23rd.

Separate posts for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day--how can you possibly have only one picture for those days? :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Daily December 26

Pizza Hut Pizza is on my menu tonight, how about yours?

Santa found us, and we had a wonderful day.  We are trying to dig out from the piles of boxes and wrapping paper.  Hopefully we can clear a path and make it out of the house sometime today--at least in time to pick up the pizza for dinner :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Daily December 25: Merry Christmas

From our home to yours
Merry Christmas
And God bless us, every one.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Daily December 24: Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve at our house is all about lots of yummy food.  The kids each get to pick one food to have--their favorite of anything--shrimp, cheesecake, bean dip and chips, etc.  It is an interesting meal, and then we have lots and lots of music and singing.
We sing and play the hand bells.

We sing and Miss O plays the guitar. 

We sing and each of the kids takes turns playing Christmas songs on the piano.  This will be the first year that all 4 of them will be able to play.  Mr J is really excited about that.

And then after all that singing we re-enact the Nativity story using lots of bathrobes, towels, and ties.  Everyone loves it.

And then we end the night with the kids opening one present--new pajamas, then they are ready for bed, and we all say good-night and try to go to sleep so Santa will come.  Sleep well!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Daily December 23

This little one-year-old angel isn't so little anymore. (thanks for the picture Whitney B!)

She is now 14!!!  And still an angel :)

Sure love you Miss A!  Happy Birthday this week!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Daily December 22

So many things happening this week before the biggest thing that happens--Christmas!  Where has the year gone?  I remember 2 years ago my neighbor saying she took her tree down right after Christmas.  I commented that it always made me sort of sad to do that, but she said, "Oh, don't worry in just a minute you will put it back up again."  It does seem like that--just a minute ago I took it down last year, now a minute later I am putting it back up.

So the kids have been super busy.  Miss O got to go to the big city for a field trip for kids who got good grades.  They got to go ice skating--first time ever for Miss O, go to a cool science museum, and see a film at the IMAX.  Awesome day.  Then she had a major English assignment due and math test.

Miss A has a test every day this week.  I didn't think that was a very nice Christmas present from her teachers.  She also started driving lessons with Grandpa because she will be 14 this week and can get her learner's driving permit!!!! Ah!  My daughter is learning to drive.  I definitely feel old.

Mr J had his school Christmas program and got to go on the Polar Express today at school--with hot chocolate and a candy cane to stir it while they watched the movie.  Love it.  He has his class Christmas party and gift exchange which he is totally excited about.

Miss E also had her Christmas program.  She got to play the alto recorder and was so excited about it.  Her class sang "Do you hear what I hear" which is one of my favorite Christmas carols.  She is super ready for Christmas. 

The kids are always doing something fun.  Hope your next few days are really fun!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Daily December 21: A long Winter's nap

You know the line in The Night Before Christmas where it says, "had just settled down for a long winter's nap"?  That is so me right now.  By the way, Mary Engelbreit's version of that is my favorite.  I love her stuff.  So, back to the long winter's nap.  I wrapped presents for 3 full hours!!!  3 hours!  Normally Ben and I do this together, but time was getting away from us, and we did not want to be up until midnight Christmas Eve, so I did it--all by myself.  I so deserve a long winter's nap for that!  Then I did 7 loads of laundry, including all the sheets--that so definitely deserves a longer winter's nap, and then we made it through the preparations and hoop jumping of a school Christmas program, and that must constitute the longest winter's nap.  This was all in the same day.  Not that I am complaining.  I love this season.  I love the activities, sights, sounds and colors, and especially the treats, but it really does make me tired :)  This in no way suggests that I am getting old-er, it can't, because I'm not.  That just doesn't happen. 

Happy December 21!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daily December 20: Blue Jeans Week 48

Busy, busy week.  I am sure yours has been too.  Here is what we have been up to. . .

Sunday:  Mr J and his friend he has known since she was born.  Her older brother and I decided we would blow it up to an 8x10 at their wedding reception in 20 years :)  They are so cute together

Monday:  Miss A, Mr J and Miss E making gingerbread houses at Nana's.  Mr J has his plan all ready for what he wants to do colored next to him.

Tuesday:  One of our favorite Christmas traditions--our Christmas countdown candle that Ben's dad makes for us each year.  Thanks Dad!

Wednesday:  Before bed Jesse will read one of his library books to either Ben or I.  Tonight we read by the Christmas tree.
Thursday:  Went shopping and out to lunch with some dear girlfriends today.  Don't know why the color is funny with this?  Had a great time and so love my girlfriends!

Friday:  Miss A had a Christmas Ball at school tonight.  She looked so pretty in her dress that her Dad picked out for her.  He does have good taste, he married me :)

Saturday:  Christmas treat baking day.  Ben helped me make some batches of an almond joy type candy.  It was nice to have his help.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and hope your next week is a wonderful one!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Daily December 19: Being grateful

In one of our Church magazines it talked about how we should focus on giving and not getting this season and on how God has given us so much.  We have so much to be grateful for.  It suggested taking a "Gratitude Challenge."   Each member of my family has decided to do this, and I wanted to share.  It said to write 100 things you are thankful for.  To help you is suggested these. . .

1.  Write 10 physical abilities you are grateful for
2.  Write 10 material possessions you are grateful for
3.  Write 10 living people you are grateful for
4.  Write 10 deceased people you are grateful for
5.  Write 10 things about nature you are grateful for
6.  Write 10 tings about today you are grateful for
7.  Write 10 places on earth you are grateful for
8.  Write 10 modern inventions you are grateful for
9.  Write 10 foods you are grateful for
10. Write 10 things about the gospel you are grateful for

And as we write this we realize this barely touches all that we have to be grateful for.  You can read the article here.  Take the Gratitude Challenge!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Daily December 18: The Christmas Candle

One Christmas tradition we have from Ben's family is our Christmas Candle.  Ben's dad made these every year Ben was growing up, and now he makes them every year for each family.  He buys big white candles, melts red and green crayons, and then uses a toothpick to draw on the lines and dates.  We burn the Christmas candle at dinner each night to countdown to Christmas.  It is a wonderful, treasured family tradition.  Thanks Dad!  We love you!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Daily December 17: Making gingerbread houses

My mom is the queen of gingerbread houses.  Another family tradition that we had growing up is we would always make a gingerbread house to decorate--one for us and one to give to someone else.  Over the years I have made my own gingerbread houses with my kids.  We even did gingerbread trains a few years ago, but most recently my mom and I have discovered the ease and wonder of graham cracker gingerbread houses.  No baking involved--way less time, so much easier!  Love it!  So we went with some friends to my parents for our annual (graham cracker) gingerbread decorating party.  One for us and one to give away.

Miss A, Mr J and Miss E get ready to start their houses.  Do you see the colored picture by Mr J?  He made that and planned out exactly what he wanted his gingerbread house to look like weeks before we did this.  That kid is a planner, let me tell ya :)

Miss O and her friends work on their house.  Never a shortage of candy or help around here.

Miss E was getting into the spirit and sampling some of the decorations with her Santa hat on.  Sweet stuff!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Daily December 16: Seeing Santa

Our small town does the nicest Christmas things.  They have a Santa house on the square where Santa comes once a week to see the kids.  They have train and trolley rides to see the lights, and it is all free.  So fun!  So we all went to see Santa, ride the trolley, train, and walk around the square to see the window displays with gingerbread houses in them.  I love my small town.
What do you want Mr J?  An orange bike, cars, and train legos

Have you been good Miss E?  Yes, I want a mountain bike and Ranger's Apprentice books.

What about you Miss O?  Well. . . . let me think. . .Big Nate books, Harry Potter Legos, and a nerf gun.

And how about you Miss A?  Have you been good?  Yeah, and I don't really need anything (I wanted to get that written down in writing :)

How about you all?  Have you been good too?