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


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.