Sunday, March 9, 2014

Another attempt at catching up....

We FINALLY built a snowman.  With no grass in our yard, we couldn't just go in the backyard to do it (too much mud), so we had to drive to a park.  SHould have been that big of a deal, but it felt like it so I kept putting it off.  I had four very excited kids when I finally said "Let's do it!"

 They wanted a really BIG snowman, so I rolled the bottom of it until I couldn't push it anymore.  The boys rolled the middle....and it took both of them eventually:
 And Sam rolled the head.  Poor girl just couldn't get it to stick together.   This was the result of about 20 minutes of work from her.  I had her stand next to the bottom to show just how well this head would have fit on our BIG snowman.  (-:

The boys and I added a bit to Samantha's head and then it took all four of us (Hannah just watched the whole time) to get the middle up onto the bottom.  I seriously didn't think we'd be able to for a bit.  It was so heavy and cold!  But we were successful!

After a Costco trip, the girls insisted they could help me carry stuff down to the storage room.  Here is everything they carried and their "We are so strong" poses:

 These girls adore their Dad!

Hannah is almost always the first one up and loves to come cuddle in bed with us.  But I actually think this picture was taken during the day cause I'm dressed.....?  

I found the girls sneaking chips in the pantry:

We've started doing "dates" with the kids again and I love love LOVE it.  There is nothing better than one on one time with your kids to really remind you why you love being a Mom.  Sadly, from the last month, I only have pictures from Hannah's date.  We went to Chili's and she LOVED it...loved the attention, the cuddles, placing her own order with the waiter.  I don't think she stopped talking the entire time and I'm pretty sure she said "Mom, I just LOVE you." about a million times.

 She thought this ice cream and cookie was INCREDIBLE.  I asked her to "show me your 'that is so cool' face" adn this is what I got:
Not all the dates cost money.  Sometimes, we just go for a walk or to the park or grocery shopping etc.  But they always get an hour or two of Mom or Dad's time alone with no other kids  We rotate and do them on Saturdays.  So, each kid goes about once a month (when we are on top of things) and they alternate between Mom and Dad.

The girls are SO into painting...especially Samantha.

I'm still taking the girls to "story time" most every Monday.  It kinda makes me sad that the boys are now too old.  There were nearly three years where I took all four of them and it has always been something we've all really enjoyed.  But I still love seeing my girls get into it and get all excited.  Since the boys are no longer there, they have both gotten a lot "braver" and are willing to do most everything:

The kids LOVE this pile of rocks in our front yard.  They often climb it and they say "Mom, take a picture of me!"  So, here are a couple of those pictures:

Cory took the boys to a BYU volleyball game recently, so I decided to take the girls out as well.  We went to Chik-fil-A for dinner:

And then Yogurt Bliss for dessert:

Samantha is quite the little artist.  She asks if she can "cut and color" every. single. day.  Without fail.  Every day, almost all day.  Well, art is NOT my talent.  In fact, it is about the furthest thing from a talent for me.  But it is for her.  Not only does she love it, but she is really good at it.  She is the youngest person in her preschool class by 7 or 8 months and yet her teacher says she is the most diligent little colorer and the best at staying in the lines. 

She has been acting out a bit more than normal lately, and I finally figured out that I think it is b/c k I've been undervaluing her talent.  While I let her color most anytime she asks, I rarely say yes to the whole maybe just once a week.  She wants scissors and glue and pencils and pens and construction paper and tape.  She will make airplanes and hats and gloves out of paper.  She "writes" books and then colors wrapping paper for them, wraps them and then gives them away.  She draws amazingly intricate pictures and has amazing stories to go along with them.  And it just felt like too much to me.  Getting all of that out and letting her go through SO MUCH paper and tape and glue was frustrating me.  But I stopped to imagine that if I was regularly told "no" when I wanted to pursue / practice something I loved, I'd be heartbroken and frustrated.  No wonder she's been acting out.

So.....we went to the store and got her all her own stuff for an "art" station which we set up in the space under her loft bed:

She has LOVED it.  Her and Hannah spent nearly 3 hours in there today just coloring away and she came out with over 20 creations.  (-:  Yes, it used a lot of paper and tape, but goodness, I spend far more money than that on dance or piano lessons or soccer or baseball!  And this is what she LOVES and is good at.  I'm actually now really enjoying seeing her practice and use her talent:

Valentines Day

We've always been pretty anti-valentines day around here.  Luckily it isn't one sided....Cory and I both feel the same way....We should say / show "I love you" every day, not just cause some holiday tells us to.  So, we don't typcially do much special on V day.  But funny thing...this year, we both ended up doing something for each other.  Cory bought me flowers:

 and I wrote him "I love you because" notes on post its and put them on teh bathroom mirror.  So, it was fun.

But we do have a few fun traditions for the kids on valentines.  I always write them a note using this program so it prints out in the shape of a heart (that is what is on the table above)

We have milk with hearts for breakfast:

And a fun valentine's lunch of some sort.

And this year we had chicken noodle soup with heart shaped carrots.

We did the simple / easy (store bought) valentines for school, but then I let the kids make 5 homemade valentines each and we drove around and delivered them to anyone they wanted to.  They each picked either their school teacher or primary teacher (or both) which was cute.  They picked random friends, Nanna, Grumpa and some cousins.  And then Noah picked this cute little girl in our ward name Jane.  He barely knows her, but was SUPER excited to give her a valentine.  It was so cute!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas 2013

We have had a wonderful December full of lots of traditions.  Like last year, I wanted to record them all to make next year a bit easier as well as simply to remember what we did.

Each Monday, we had an FHE that centered around two chapters from the book "A Christ Centered Christmas," and we'd add a piece or two to our nativity.

In year's past we have had an activity based (in order to avoid the candy) advent calendar where we did a different Christmas activity each day.  But it just ended up being stressful.  I'd have a crazy day and then they kids would want to do the activity and I"d be stressed and grumpy if we did it at all.  So this year I decided to tone it down a bit and change things up.

First, we only did an actual activity on Friday and Saturday nights when Cory was home and no one had to get up for school etc.  I put a piece of paper with each activity on it in a small (made for gift cards) box.  The kids took turns opening them.  We:

Went to watch a movie in the theater (Frozen)
Went to visit Grandma GiGi
Colored Christmas pictures as a family
Went to visit Nanna (the kids stayed for two nights so I could get some last minute Christmas stuff done during the day (I was trying to finish the girl's dollhouse)....wanna make that a tradition, Mom?
Had a Christmas movie marathon night with cousins, pizza, cookies and popcorn
Made gingerbread houses (this was a total flop b/c I have no skills....we are inviting Nanna next year)

For our daily activities, we read a different Christmas joke (just silly things, but the boys have really been into joke lately) each morning at breakfast.  The kids LOVED it. Then, each night we read a different Christ-centered Christmas book as a family.  12 days before Christmas, we switched to 12 Christmas stories that were given to us by my brother Devin and his wife Melissa.  Each story has an ornament to go with it.

In addition, we did a few other things that wouldn't quite fit into the weekends.

Typically, we have had our kids give away one toy for each that they get for Christmas.  But it ended up making Christmas morning a bit crazy.  So, this year, we had them each pick three toys to give to charity.   They did really well.  They started by picking a few "less loved" toys, but then Micah picked one of his very favorite books and said that he wanted to give it to a little boy who wasn't getting any Christmas gifts.  Then, Noah followed suit as did Samantha.  Hannah was just distraught that we were giving away all our stuff.  She didn't quite get it.  Then, we took everything to charity and then stopped to donate to the food bank and gave each of the kids a bit of money to give to the salvation army in front of the local Smith's.  I'm still looking for some sort of charitable activity that we can do with our young kids.  I want to find something meaningful, but something that they can actually participate in and that would be truly memorable to them.  I'm open to suggestions!

Each year as a child Cory made candy cane cookies with his Dad.  So each year, he does the same with our kids.  They had a blast!

Except for this one picture where Micah just couldn't quite get his dough to roll out right.  He was pretty frustrated.


Watching them bake:

The best new tradition was attending the neighborhood scone party.  As a neighborhood we decided to do this instead of neighbor gifts this year.  We all donated the money we would  have spent on neighbor gifts to charity and got together for a fun night together instead.

Samantha made some fun treats at preschool she was very proud of:

I sold Samantha's dollhouse b/c I knew she was getting another for Christmas.  But I didn't think through it logistically until a few hours before a 13 year old girl came to buy it for her 4 year old sister two weeks before Christmas.   I told Samantha that there was another little girl who really wanted it for Christmas.  I asked if she was okay giving it to her.  At first she yelled "No, Mommy no!" again and again in tears.  She loved that dollhouse.  She would play with it for hours and hours.  It was her vary favorite toy. 
I just let her go.  Twenty minutes later or so, she came up to me still a bit teary and said "Mommy, if that little girl really wants my dollhouse, she can have it.  I want to make her happy."  I felt like the worst and best mother all at the same time.  I felt so awful to have caused her such pain, but so grateful for her goodness and the opportunity she had to learn true selflessness.

Each kid filled out fun forms for all their grandparents.  I'm hoping to do this each year.  I think it would be a fun traditional gift to give them each year and go back and compare what they write as they grow.

We were SO excited to take the kids to see the light at Temple Square this year.  We decided to combine it with a "Polar Express" activity.   We turned the clocks ahead an hour, had an early dinner and asked them to get in bed.  They each found new PJs and a ticket for the "Minivan Express."

We all piled in the van where there was popcorn, hot chocolate and nougat candies, and we listened to fun Christmas music on our way to temple square. 

About half way there we switched to a couple more spiritual songs like Away in a Manger and the First Noel.  Then we turned the music off and talked about Jesus and how he is the Light of the World.  We told them we were going to see His temple and His lights.  We talked about how all Christmas lights should remind us of Christ.  Everything was quiet for a bit and then we heard Micah, in his best dramatic singing voice (he was really getting into it) "The-uh, First-urst No-oh-ell" and then under his breath "I'm going to be on the radio some day."  It was so awesome.

Unfortunately, we picked an awful night to go.  It took us 45 minutes to get to the freeway exit (normal) but then and hour and a half to get to the parking lot.   And then we took a wrong turn.  It would have taken us another hour and a half to go around the block again.  We didn't realize it was the Tabernacle Choir concert that night. In addition there was a BYU basketball game and a Jazz game.  so we  just went home.

All four kids bawled (hard) for about 15-20 minutes.  I wanted to myself I was so sad.  We ended up just watching the Polar Express at home that night.  We are going to try to get to temple square again tomorrow.  But we are all 5 feeling a bit sick, so we will see.

The kid's made fun personalized clocks for their teachers at school.  I wish we had taken a picture.  )-:

Cory got some crazy chocolates from work.  I've never seen anything like them.

The boys did lots and lot of this in the week's before Christmas.  But it didn't snow Christmas even or Christmas day.

And we went to the ward Christmas party.  Cory got some cute pictures of the kids.  I will upload them when I get his phone. Samantha made sure to tell him she wanted a new dollhouse.

So that is everything that happened before Christmas week.  I will try to get to Joseph Smith's b-day, Christmas Eve and Christmas next week!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Samantha!

Samantha, your birthday was WAY back in July and I'm just now getting around to posting about it.  But it was a fantastic day.  I think you felt really loved!  We decorated in pink:

And kept the table setting tradition we have around here:

The week of your birthday you attended a little "dance camp" that a couple of YW were putting on.  You loved it and to make things even better, you had a dance recital on your birthday!  Here you are all ready to go:
 You are SO stinkin adorable!

Your sweet teachers had you come up before the recital so everyone could sing happy birthday to you.  You look a bit nervous, but it really made you so proud and happy!

I just loved watching you perform.  So did Nanna and Grumpa.  Daddy had to work, but we taped it for him and he loved watching you later.  You took it so seriously and really tried to do exactly what your teachers said:
 Look at those cute toes!  And in the next one that cute little ribbon tail!
 Your good friend Maddie was in the recital with you.  She also came to lunch with you afterward.
You chose McDonalds for lunch and we took Maddie.
 Nanna and Grumpa were there too!

Looking Good!

You got a lot of presents and had all your cousins over (which I think was the best present of all!)
 And I think  you really liked your new princess dress!
 You are so ADORABLE!  This is you as I walk over with your cake.  You really wanted a pink carousel cake.  Luckily, Barbara had just the "topper" to a make that happen:

Samantha,  I love and adore you.  I cannot believe you are already 4 years old.  It still seems like you should be that sweet little baby with the HUGE, beautiful blue eyes staring up at me so innocently in the hospital as I gently blocked the light so you could open them for the first time. 

Well, you still have the beautiful blue eyes, but you have become an amazing little girl.  You have a fiesty personality and stand up for what you want.  I love that about you.  I am amazed at your creativity and passion for creating things.  I think you make me a new card, picture etc at least a daily if not a few times a day.  I love that you love to give.  You not only make things for me, but for your Dad, siblings, cousins, grandparents and each one of your teachers and friends.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.

I love your imagination.  One of my very favorite things to do is to secretly stand in the next room and just listen to you and Hannah play "house."  It is so fun to hear the things you come up with and to hear you imitate me (usually in good ways, but not always!  haha).

I love the relationship you have with your little sister.  You love her deeply and the two of you have so much fun together.  I love how you watch out for her and protect her even though you are only 18 months older.

You amaze me everyday with your kindness and you make me feel loved every day with your sweet hugs and that amazing smile.  I am so blessed to be your mother!  I love you sweet Sam!  I sure hope you know that.