Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009


Merry Christmas to all!

We've had a crazy but blessed year. We were blessed with a "for sure" job opportunity falling through, a car biting the dust and a shocking surprise of a pregnancy, plus a few other "blessings", but nothing that we couldn't handle. I never thought I'd be grateful for some of the trials that we have had, but I think I'm getting there. Despite our worries, we have been able to pay our bills every month, we have a safe and warm roof over our heads, and we've been blessed with good health. For that, I am truly grateful.

I have to start with a quick shout out to all the Santa's out there. I was worried about this holiday season disappointing the kids because I knew we couldn't add gifts to our budget. Through the help of many, many Santa's, we were blessed with an abundance! One of the biggest blessings came in the form of boxes of clothes for our new little girl, from a couple different sources. I mentioned this pregnancy was a surprise, well, it was so much of a surprise that we had gotten rid of all of our baby girl clothes a LONG time ago, and baby boy clothes right up until I found out I was pregnant. Buying new clothes is not exactly part of our budget right now either, but now I have clothes to outfit my baby for at least the first year!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the Santa's out there, those who helped us knowingly and those who hardly know us at all, and yet were still extremely generous. Words just don't seem like enough.

One of our years highlights included visiting St. Louis for Benson's parents 50th wedding anniversary in June. We were blessed to see the majority of Benson's family at that event and it was a good time for everyone. It may not have been a tropical getaway, but we were glad to be able to take a few days to remember how awesome it is to have good family surrounding us. I sort of wish we had some other vacations or events to brag about, but most of our year has been spent at home.

Well, on to the more traditional Christmas letter bragging updates on the kids.

Goose is doing just amazing in school. He is in fourth grade this year. This past month he seems to have gotten into the schedule of school and is doing great keeping up with the workload and getting a little bit better organized. He still loves his legos, Star Wars, a computer game called Wizard 101 and reading. He has been a huge help to me lately with his little brother Twister. He will play games on the computer with him, build towers for him to knock down or just sit with him, and Twister couldn't be happier about the attention. :)

Sweetie is in second grade this year. She is also very smart and doing great in school. Her true loves lie in arts and crafts. She always seems to be making a card, or project for someone. She has a talent for it, and I love to do crafts with her by my side. She and her sister have a very close relationship and I love watching the two of them play together.

Tank is in preschool, and ready to turn 5 and start Kindergarten next year. She talks about it quite often. She is very social and loves to hold a conversation with anyone who will listen to her. She is very loving and super sweet with her little brother, but still insists on picking him up and moving him where she thinks he wants to go... thus still earning her nickname Tank. :) She is super girly and loves her skirts, dresses, and purses.

Twister is growing up much too quickly. He is now 20 months old and his language is suddenly exploding. Some of his favorite words include "andy" for candy, "at" for cat, and "up" for cup/milk... he also loves his family. He has words to name everyone including "Mommy", "Addy" for Daddy, "Tin" for Goose, "Aa" for Sweetie, "Ette" for Tank, "Papa", and "Nana". We love to quiz him on these names because they just sound so darn sweet coming out of his mouth. :) Some of his favorite things to do are knock down towers, read books, and watch "Ora" aka Dora.

Our April 3 Expected beauty seems to be growing well. She is slowing me down greatly, but I'm not too uncomfortable yet. We look forward to meeting her in a few months.

Benson is still working awful hours at Buffalo Wild Wings, but we are grateful for the income. He is trying to fit a job search into his schedule, which has proven difficult. Hopefully it won't be too long before something he finds actually comes through. Thank you for all the prayers we know are being given in this search!

As for me, most of the time I'd say I'm doing well. The house isn't clean, and dinner is often frozen pizza, but we always seem to have enough entertainment, enough toilet paper, enough food, and enough love... so I'd say we're doing well. I was able to make a bunch of the Christmas gifts that we gave this year, which was a lot of work, but so much more rewarding to me than going out to the stores. The gifts included a family memory game (using family photos), a block photo puzzle, rice bag Monster Warmers, pretend make-up and a photo slideshow DVD. Here's a small sampling of the DVD for your enjoyment:





I love receiving all of your Christmas cards, so I really would love to send one too... However for this year, consider this your official "card" from us... perhaps next year we will have the energy and resources to get out a snail mail card.

Again, Merry Christmas to all of you, and a happy new year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

White Elephant gift. . . .

So....... This story starts many decades ago with my grandparents.  I believe it was in the 1970's that my grandfather was called to serve as the mission president in the Phillipines.  The people there were very generous and loving and gave my grandparents many gifts when it was time for them to come home.  Several of the gifts were handcarved wood sculptures of amazing quality.  My dad has a really cool water buffalo in his house, and there were others including some little pigs and other miscellaneous things.  There was also one, somewhat disturbing sculpture.  The sculpture was about 2 feet tall, and was of a naked warrior.  He wore a loin cloth, that was actually cloth.  I don't think I ever looked underneath but I assume it was carved underneath the fabric too...  The most disturbing part of this naked warrior was that he had a a head hanging off of his waist and another head in his other hand.   I remember this guy being in my grandpa's office, and thinking it was, well, scary!  LOL!  As I mentioned, my dad has several beautiful philippine sculptures, but this guy was kept in the basement.  :)  Well, several years ago, we went to a Christmas party with a white elephant gift exchange.  I was at my Dad's house telling him I didn't know what we were going to bring, and he suggested that the sculpture might be quite the hit.  Since I had no better ideas, the sculpture was wrapped up and brought along.  The poor couple who got it were such good sports, but really, the sculpture is somewhat hideous... what would you do with it??? (The ribbon was to "dress him up" from the last exchange)





Well, that was at least 2-3 years ago, maybe more.  I had lost track of him the moment he was in someone else's possession.  I was nearly in tears today when I found out that our bishops wife has ended up with the infamous sculpture in another white elephant gift exchange.  Apparantly the little man has been around the block a few times.  It has even begun to collect signatures from those lucky enough to inherit him.  Who knew what we were starting?  :)
I did a little research and found that in years past, in the Philippines, headhunting was considered noble, and now symbolizes bravery among men.  Nice symbol of bravery, right?  Who's brave enough to display this guy until the next gift exchange?  

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shhh!!!! It's a secret!

I'm dying to share these cute little guys... but they are for a secret santa gift exchange, so if you know any of my kids cousins MUM'S THE WORD. 


In my searches for fun, creative, handmade but not "HAND" made (as in yuck) gifts, I found *this link* to make rice pillows...  I thought they were a good idea, but I was looking for gifts for the under 8 years old crowd, so I almost dismissed them.  Then I had an epiphany.  :)  If they were cute and cuddly, maybe they could be exciting and functional.  So, I began scrounging through my fabric scraps to see what I could come up with.   For this project, Sweetie was my right hand girl... she "designed" a perfect little monster warm hugger. 




Sweetie was ready to carry it around as her own little baby so I thought that was a good indicator that it might be cute enough.  Now for the functional test.  I put our little hugger into the microwave for a minute and pulled her out.  The reactions were priceless.  :)  Sweetie didn't want to stop hugging it, and when I suggested that it could keep feet warm in a cold bed, she thought that would be awesome.  :)   That was good enough for me, so I started on the next one...



I let Goose and Twister check this guy out.  After it was warmed up, I let Goose check it out first... he immediately asked if he could have one too!  He said he needed one for after he comes in from playing in the snow.  Good idea buddy!!  Need to add that to my instructions card.  :)   Twister gave it a big hug and walked off with it, so I think he liked it too.  I just hope the actual recipients are as excited about them as my kids are.  I'm hoping that since my kids have helped design and have tested them out, that they will share their excitement with the cousins they are giving to...  :)   Now I have to see if I have enough rice to make 4 more for my kids too!!  LOL!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa

Twister didn't even cry at Santa this year! Progress, right?




We had a good time at our ward's Christmas breakfast this year.  Good food, good company and good times.


So far, I've got about 4 1/2 gifts ready.  Still more to go.  I'm really hoping what my kids remember is the time, thought and effort we've put into gift giving this year.  And obviously that time and effort is not at the stores. I've been trying to spend time *with* the kids making the gifts for others so that they are involved and creating memories.  In this commercial world, that is a challenge, but I know it will be worth it. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crafty websites

So, I'm doing my own Christmas presents this year.  Making them that is.  I've been scouring the web for ideas and came across some awesome blogs/websites that have totally inspired me.  I thought I would share some of these websites (and record them all in one place for myself).


#1 Opps, I craft my pants  

#2  Someday Crafts

#3  Blog party link for christmas craft ideas

#4  Somewhat Simple

#5  Not so idle hands



I'd share what I'm making, but some of you awesome people may be recipients of my stolen creativity, so you'll just have to wait.  :)  In the mean time, here are a few crafts I've done recently to decorate my house with...

This next one is an advent calendar.  I made 25 different magnets for each day.  They store on the back of the cookie sheet.  
 
By Christmas our calendar should look like this!





And a few close ups of the magnets just for fun. 

 

Lots more crafting to go, and less than a month to get it all done!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ultrasound results

You'll have to forgive me for being a day late.  Goose has been sick with an ear infection and I was absolutely exhausted last night.  So much so that I fell asleep at 8pm!  Then this morning I went to get the pictures to scan them and Benson had taken them to work with him.  So... no pics for now.  They were really fuzzy anyway, but its always fun to try  to make things out. 

Anyway, the ultrasound went well.  I felt like the tech was going really fast, but I suppose he does these a lot.   He kept saying the baby was really active and moving a lot, but staying face down which made getting a view for gender difficult.  There was actually one point where we could see the baby opening and closing the mouth, then moving the hand up by the face.  The baby actually even had enough room in there to stretch its legs out straight!  I guess that's the advantage of being the fifth...  the womb has been well stretched out by now.  Anyway, the tech of course can't tell us much of anything, but he said he didn't see anything that he thought was concerning.  The peanut is right on target for size... the heart was beating away like crazy, and as I mentioned, there was good movement.  The doctor should call early next week with official results. 

I wasn't sure the peanut was going to let the tech get any view at all to tell us the gender, but in the end, the tech won the battle. 





























Its a girl!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A glimpse at the crazy lady

So, I finally went and got a haircut.  The last time I had a haircut was in January.  Since then, I've just trimmed it myself, and I was beyond hating it by now.  I'm loving the new cut, but wondering if I should've gone a little shorter... especially with my tendency to wait too long between cuts.  What do you think?


Next up... the big ultrasound is coming up.  I'm 19 weeks today, and my ultrasound is next Friday.  I'm sort of hoping for a particular gender, but more out of rational convenience than really wishing for one or the other.  :)  I'll let you know. 

Last up, just a fun photo I created in photoshop today.  The very front picture was me at 8 weeks.  I felt like I was showing at that point (well bloating, but still, I was beginning to LOOK different).  The final bit of belly you see is my belly today.  Baby seems to be getting big, and I'm finally beginning to feel little kicks. 





I'm trying to enjoy the flutters and the relative easiness of the second trimester... especially since I intend for this to be our last pregnancy.  LOL.  Its nice to have a bit of energy back, but I wish there was a break from the insane pregnancy hormones too!  I still feel like I'm struggling a bit much with those.  For example, my birthday was about a week ago.  We had family in town and they surprised me with a new closet shelving system for my workspace.  Benson spent most of the day installing it, then we all went out to dinner at a restaurant.  Overall, it was really a good day.  I had even gone on a date with Benson earlier in the month  to a "They Might Be Giants" concert.  So, I really had no reason to complain.  However, ON my birthday, there was no birthday cake, and no singing.  I thought I was totally fine with it...  until 2 days later.  I totally bawled like a baby to my husband about poor me and my lack of cake.  My good husband caught my ridiculous pregnant "hint" and bought a cake and sang to me with the kids the next night.  What a good man.  :)  I instantly felt a hundred times better.  If it isn't obvious, I tend to just blow everything out of proportion lately.  A birthday cake was an easy fix, but worrying about the future is a whole different ball game.  I won't go there today... then you'd see what a real nutcase of a pregnant lady I can be!  Just enjoy your little laugh at my expense, and I'll hopefully be back on Friday with some news!  (Pray for uncrossed legs!  LOL!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For a little giggle...

So... last night my mom invited me and the kids over for dinner.  She made sour cream enchiladas (YUMMM!!!!).  With the leftover tortillas she decided to put some cheese on them and melt them and let the kids have those too.  Well, the tortillas my mom bought were fat free, omega 3 enriched tortillas.  Great in theory, however, when those quesidillas came out of the microwave, all my kids were asking "WHAT is that SMELL!!??"  After sniffing around and trying to figure it out, our best guess was that the omega 3 in the tortillas didn't agree with the microwave.  Anyway, they tasted just fine if you plugged your nose.   LOL!  The enchiladas came out of the oven and tasted amazing (as always).  As dinner was wrapping up, I think it was Tank who asked "Where did that awful smell go?" 

Sweetie answered:   "We ate it."

Oh the simple wisdom of children.  I haven't laughed that hard in weeks.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trunk or Treat 2009


We had a COLD but fun Halloween around here.  We did a trunk or treat with the members of our ward at church.  The kids had a great time and were loaded up with TONS of candy as usual.  I let them pick out 20 pieces to eat whenever they felt the need and the rest were put into a community pot.  :)  They will be our dessert for lunches etc for a good long time.  The kids were disappointed that we didn't take them around the neighborhood this year.  I guess I don't blame them, but we were freezing!!  They tried to be happy with handing out candy to the handful of people who came to our house and eating some of the candy they got. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A few more pictures

I decided to skip school pictures.  Of course I sent them to school on picture day dressed nicely so that the class photos will hopefully have a good remembrance of my kids.  However, as far as buying them ourselves, the cost just seemed too outrageous  for this year.  SO!  Today I took their annual fall photos. I don't have the traditional blue watery looking background, but I kind of like how the black turned out. 





Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why I'm wiped out today.




I hope that means the kids are wiped out too and they will sleep soundly tonight.  :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Update

So.... we are well into the swing of fall here.  School is in full routine, homework is a daily (might I add awful) battle and the days are getting crisp and beautiful.


Goose is doing great in school.  My only complaint is the aforementioned homework battle.  He often forgets to bring things home that are required for his homework.   He has 3 different teachers through the day because of his gifted classes and I am beginning to feel like they don't coordinate homework very well.  There are nights when he has social studies, spelling, reading and math.  Those nights he can easily spend from the time he gets home until 7pm (with a break for dinner) doing only homework.  Then he need to usually read for 20 minutes as well, which he does at bedtime.   After spending ALL day doing school work, it seems like it shouldn't take sooo long for homework.  Part of his problem is that he doesn't focus and just get it done, but still!!!

Ok, that rant is over.  didn't mean for it to come out like that, but tonight was another battle, and hes' still not done at 6:30pm.  I guess I should be grateful that I haven't had any calls from his teachers.  I can only assume he is working acceptably in class...


Sweetie is also succeeding in second grade.  Homework is much more manageable.  Usually just one worksheet and reading for 20 minutes.  She is very neat and exact about getting her homework done.  Her latest accomplishment is keeping her room clean for the past 2 weeks!  I've been very proud of her diligence in keeping it up.  The special treats from Nana haven't hurt her willingness either.  :)


Tank... in preschool and ready for high school.  She loves the attention she gets in class and craves it that much more from me the moment she gets home.  She's made some beautiful projects already and we are excited to see what new creativity she brings home next.


Twister is gaining more personality every day.  He makes me laugh ALL the time.  Its not usually what he's doing that is funny, so much as its the way he looks at me as he's doing it.  For example, today he was eating his lunch and climbed down off his chair.  I was watching him do this, so he continued walking all the way around the table, without taking his eyes off me.  It was like he was just waiting for me to pounce on him and put him back in his chair.  It was all I could do to laugh at him.  He's such a character, I love this age for that.  I don't so much love the enormous messes he is capable of making, but that is a post for another day.  :)


The Peanut is growing well I'm told.  I'm nearly 15 weeks now and had my doctor's appointment today.  The doctor actually really scared me by not finding the heartbeat for several minutes, however once the little peanut stopped moving around, the heartbeat was strong at 150 beats per minute.  I feel like I may have FINALLY *really* gotten out of the first trimester yuckies.  I hope.  Last time I posted that I was feeling better and taking control of the house... then my headaches came back to haunt me full force.  NO FUN.  They were not typical migraines for me, but they were very  persisitant and still painful.  Anyway, I've had 2 days headache free, so I'm really hoping I'm on to better days.  In general, I do have more energy.  My only bad times seem to be around 5pm when I'm trying to juggle making dinner, really needing to eat, and kids that haven't finished their homework yet.  ugh!

Benson and I are going on a REAL date this weekend.   I can hardly wait!  Its been a long time.  Between his horrible schedule and not having extra moola for going out, its been months at least since we've been out on a date.  We're going to a "They Might Be Giants" Flood Concert.  Its somewhat sentimental for us because we went to one of their concerts when we were first dating.  :)  It will be fun.

So... that's our life in a nutshell.  :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

The difference between the first and the fifth pregnancy.

Right around 3 months with Goose and the peanut.   You'll never guess which is which.  LOL! 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More of the same

BORING!  Ever feel that way?  I just don't feel like I have much to contribute to the lovely world of blogging lately.  Life hasn't changed much except for the big things I showed you pictures of.  I guess I *could* elaborate a little on those.

First up... our little peanut.  A happy little surprise (or massively big shock, whatever wording works for you.)  LOL.  Despite the surprise, we are really excited.  Sometimes the best things in life are not planned and I'm completely anticipating that to be the case for us.  I'm about 3 months along.  I calculated my due date to be at the end of March, but an early ultrasound put the peanut a week and a half behind where I thought I was.  So, the due date is April 3rd.  I really tried to convince the doctor to stick with my first due date so that it can "look" like I go further along, but he said no.  :P  (My longest pregnancy was 38 weeks in case you didn't remember, the shortest was 34.) We are praying that Benson is able to get back into a finance job before this little one arrives.

A few funny stories related to the pregnancy.  During the week before I found out, I happened to be at the grocery store.  As I walked down the aisle, I saw pickles.  I like pickles, but I never buy them because Benson and the kids don't touch them.  However, on this particular day, I decided I didn't care if they didn't eat them, I wanted them!  They looked good!  So, I put them in the cart.  A few aisles down, ice cream called my name.  I usually try to avoid buying sweets, so this was also unusal.  Here I was pregnant, not knowing it, not even remotely suspecting it, and buying pickles and ice cream.

Another quick story, I was about 6-7 weeks along and really surprised at how bloated I was.  My pants were already not fitting!  Anyway, Sweetie came up to me and asked me if I had a baby in my tummy!  I was not ready to tell the kids, so I simply asked her why she would ask me that.  Her response was just that she really wanted another brother or sister.  Although, she WAS looking at my stomach the whole time she said it.  LOL.  She asked me about 6 various times before I finally spilled the beans to her and the other kids.  When she asked that final time, I responded the same way I had before, "Why are you asking that?"  This time she said because it looks like I have a baby in there.  Well, I couldn't tell her I was just getting fat could I?  So I called in the other kids and told them all.  Immediately I had "I want a boy" and "I want a girl" being blurted out.  Love kids.  So glad I don't have any control over that!

I think that's it on the prego front.  I'm finally starting to get over the morning sickness.  I've even started to get a handle on the inside of my house again.  Its hard anyway when you have 4 kids and your husband is gone 60-65 hours every week.  Add feeling completely exhausted and nauseous to the mix and its easy to let the house slide out of control.  One room at a time, I'm taking back control!

The second topic of interest, the house project!  It has been a LOOOONNNNG time coming as you know.  The project is officially finished.  The only thing left is for the contractor to pick up his tools and us to clean out the garage so that we can start parking in there again.  Its only been 11 months since we've been able to do that!!!   So glad to have that over with, but SO happy with the results.  We've planted grass seed and are hoping for a beautiful green lawn in the spring. 

School is going well for the kids.  Tank started preschool on Wednesday, so I actually have a couple hours in the morning with just Twister and me.  He doesn't let me get much done during that time, but we enjoy playing. Tank is usually better about letting me get a few things accomplished when Twister is taking his nap, so it all works out. 

Well, I think that is it!   Until next time....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Excuses. . .

for my lack of blogging. 

Excuse #1:  Work has begun on the house again.  We're pushing a year since we started, but the end is in sight!  Most recently, WE GOT NEW WINDOWS!!!  Finally!  Siding, gutters, and a bit of landscaping, and we'll be done!



Excuse #2:  Preparing for the inevitable



 
The kids started school again on Tuesday.  I feel blessed that they were excited to go.  Tank would've jumped right on that bus if I would let her, but she has one more year of preschool.
Excuse #3:  Troub, I mean Twister!


Love that smile.  :)  But he is getting into a lot of mischief and making lots of messes.  Always keeping me on my toes. 
So, those are my excuses for today.  I have more, but I'm afraid I'll sound really lame if I just keep going.  Just know that I am thinking of all you, my blogging buddies) and hope to get into some kind of routine sooner rather than later.