Thoughts on a Monday…

My brain seems to run at a much faster rate than my body can move – and my body moves at a consistently quick pace. So that just gives you a little idea of just how many thoughts are swirling around my head at any given moment! As I was cleaning up the kitchen this morning after sending kiddos out the door for school my head was racing – it was the first time in weeks that the house was quiet (two kids seem to play just fine together when the other three are at school). Here are a few random thoughts on my Monday.

Birthday Messages
My brother and his family are the very best at remembering birthdays and they never fail to call with a special happy birthday song. My birthday was over Christmas break and this family happened to be staying with us. The day came and went and celebrating was minimal – although we had a lot of fun. It wasn’t until they left to go home I realized I never got a birthday song from them. I always look forward to their birthday messages. We were talking with them last night and I called him out for skipping my birthday song while they were staying at my house. He started laughing, “Have you not checked your voicemail?!” My voicemail hadn’t been working since before they came to visit and I just got it working again and sure enough there was a message from him on my birthday. While we were separated by a single floor in our house they rocked the happy birthday song and it was awesome. We all had a good laugh. They make me want to be better about sending birthday messages.

 

Kids are back in school
The older kids all went back to school today and my morning has been awesome. I love schedules. I love routines. And I love that nobody was teasing. I was able to work faster than Briggs which meant I cleaned up messes faster than he could make them. I’ve been sick for the past couple days so I was behind in all areas of life. Christmas is down – but the naked tree still sits in the living room. I’m debating whether I take the whole thing apart and shove it back in the disintegrating box – or do I wrap it and tie it up and store it in the corner where the box was stored. The tree might be there a couple more days until I can decide what the best option is.

Video vs Photo
I take a lot of photos. I’m comfortable taking photos and my camera is never far from me. When I got a new camera two years back it had a nice video feature which was new to me. I’m not nearly as comfortable auto-focusing video especially when they’re moving targets but I’m trying to be better about using it in video mode. I decided for the month of January I would video something every day just for a few seconds to get a little more comfortable. I don’t want to forget Cannon’s sweet voice or the way Briggs is starting to formulate words. I want proof of the noise chaos for years to come when our home is quiet. I want see personalities come to life that just aren’t captured in a still photo. I’m on a mission to capture more video.

Why is healthcare so maddening??
Doctor’s are frustrating which is not new news. I’m still working through health issues which means I spend a lot of time on the phone with doctor’s offices or waiting for doctors. Today I was on hold for 12 minutes to make an appointment. Unfortunately, I’ve been trying to make an appt for almost two weeks with this particular doctor (a doctor specifically given to me by my neurologist). The office isn’t sure he’s the doctor I should be seeing so they wanted to pull my records before making the appointment and they would get back to me. I’ve called three times since then and they seem to be just as surprised that nobody has been in contact with me to make an appointment or suggest another doctor. They assure me someone will get back to me today. I’m not holding my breath. I’ll call again tomorrow.

My little blog journal
I might be one of the last people in the social media world that still uses a blog to document life – but I do. If I don’t write it here – I probably will never remember. I was talking with my mom today, who is doing some work for me, relinking 8,000 pictures for my blog (thanks to photobucket holding them hostage at an insane price!) I’ve been sick this last week and my mom commented that our family seems to get sick a lot between Christmas and New Years. I wanted to refute her claim, because that did not even sound accurate. But she’s been relinking all the pictures and has gone back a couple years in my posts already and has seen that we’ve been sick in years past at this time. This blog fills in all the gaps that I seem to forget over time. It’s been the only consistent journal I have had in my life.

Watercolors
For Christmas, Steve got me everything I need to get started in watercolor lettering. I am beyond excited and a little intimidated! He keeps asking why I haven’t pulled it out and started using it – I keep looking for the perfect moment – when I’m not sick, I don’t have little fingers that are going to be making a mess of it and the house is in decent condition that I don’t feel guilty sitting down for a while. I’m carving out time this week for it.

 

 

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Christmas Day 2017…

Christmas morning in all its matching pajama glory!!

I’m not sure what time the kids actually got up, but we heard them about 7:15 walking loudly upstairs (they had strict instructions not to come down until we came to get them) so jumping around was their best way of waking us up.

The only thing on Christmas morning that comes from Santa is their stocking, which they came down and opened immediately. They were entertained for a little bit until they were ready to move on to presents.

Christmas Day 2017

Our present opening is a little crazy – but not chaotic. We open gifts one at a time, usually starting with the younger ones and working our way up. (Aside from Briggs, I make sure there is the same number of gifts, although the value may greatly differ). They each grab gifts from under the tree and wait until they get the okay that it’s their turn.

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

This year after the kids had opened two presents, we let them play while we got breakfast in the oven – sausage egg casserole prepped the night before and our traditional monkey bread. By the time we made it back to the living room my parents were on Skype and the kids opened their present from them. That Skype call was interrupted by Steve’s parents calling from Africa – with the time change and unpredictable internet we were glad to get a chance to see them on the computer.

The kids were not aware of this – but the money Steve’s parents would of spent on Christmas for the family this year (and also our gift to them), was actually donated to provide scholarships for a couple kids to attend school in Ghana. Steve’s parents explained this to our kids and told a story of how they came to know these kids while serving there. They are truly an example of service and love.

Christmas Day 2017

By the time we got done with the Skype call our breakfast was just coming out of the oven so we assembled back in the kitchen to fill some bellies.

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

By the time we made it back to the presents, it was after 10:30 and there wasn’t a single complaint. In fact, Hallie mentioned that she loved we were spreading our Christmas presents out over a longer period of time. We had no where to go so we enjoyed the moments.

Christmas Day 2017

Hallie was a little jealous of Cannon’s new blanket and she looked at me and said, “Are you sure you wrapped that in the right paper.” (We wrap all the kids presents in a single wrapping paper – it’s not until Christmas morning they learn what wrapping paper is theirs!) Hunter also had a are-you-sure-you-wrapped-that-in-the-right-paper moment when he saw Bennett opening a watch which is exactly what he had asked for. He looked a little sheepish when he found a similar small box under the tree with a watch just his size!

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Perhaps Bennett’s most favorite gift from Christmas – a wolf Beanie Boo that he was so excited about when he opened it he rolled all around the carpet squealing with delight. Who knew $5 could buy such happiness!

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Or the excitement of a box of Mr. Sketch smelly markers. He made a new lego box to take them to school and put them on his desk!

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Our boys are to the stage that they had very similar gifts this year. I knew getting something for one of them and not the other was  not going end well. They both got a watch, Mr. Sketch markers and these cool little robots. They were the hit Christmas day as they raced them around the house and Hunter started coding his. They really are cool and I did so much research on code-able robots – I’ve got you covered if you have any questions. If you’re wondering – these were one of the very, very few that can work with a kindle as opposed to an apple or android device.

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

I would say in no time it was over – but that wasn’t the case. This mess was created over the course of several hours and it was so much fun. No crying or pouting and I know our kids are young so the bar is low – but we nailed it!! I love that they’re all so easy to please. I’m not looking forward to the teenage years when their expectations exceed budgets!

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

Christmas Day 2017

And yes – Hallie ended up with her own super soft and snuggly blanket so she didn’t have to steal Cannons!

Christmas Day 2017

This picture kills me – first of all he got that lego set done while we were prepping for breakfast and eating breakfast. Secondly, he doesn’t typically wear his hat backwards but for some reason he looks so old when he wears it like this! Every year I give him another Lego set I wonder – is this the last year he’s going to be interested Legos. Not the case this year!

Christmas Day 2017

It was a very merry Christmas!

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Christmas Eve…

It always takes me some time after Christmas to finally upload pictures and go through them. Not only did I have a blogging hiatus over Christmas, I also didn’t sit at my computer. But I’m back and I’ve got pictures to prove that Christmas indeed took  place. First off: Christmas Eve.

Our faith doesn’t typically hold church services on Christmas or Christmas eve unless that day happens to fall on a Sunday which was the case this year. We were able to listen to touching music, testifying of our Savior’s birth. My favorite musical number happened to be instrumental and involved the most beautiful cello and piano arrangement. I love music and Christmas music can’t be beat!

After church pictures: Getting kids to look at the camera and smile is always a challenge!

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas eve is interesting for us. For many years – we were on our own in Milwaukee and we were surrounded by the most amazing friends we luckily call family. When we moved back we had family to celebrate with which was great. But a part of us liked our own little family together on Christmas eve with our own traditions. So often we gather as a extended family and we don’t see our children until we’re gathering them up to head home. But we wanted to be closer with them on Christmas eve, so a few years back we started doing our own thing as our little family unit. We often look for opportunities to invite others to join us that may be lonely or not have any family around. This year was no exception although our night was divided into three distinction sections.

In the afternoon, we went to a neighbor’s house to decorate cookies. They don’t have any little kids around and they don’t have family – they’ve built relationships with our kids and it was fun to be in their house for the afternoon. The award for most cookies decorated goes to Hunter. He never left the table – most the other kids decorated a few and then just wanted to eat the cookies!

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

From there, we went to our good friends’ house for dinner. A third family who is new to our neighborhood (and they don’t have family in town) also joined. The parents were both born and raised in Taiwan (they moved here from the bay area) and their life stories are fascinating, the more I learn of them and their family the more impressed I am. The hope is that we didn’t overwhelm them on Christmas eve with our 5 kids and our friend’s 6 kids! They did join us for a hayride around the neighborhood to enjoy the luminaries that everyone lights – I think it was a first for them and I think they really enjoyed it.

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

After the hayride, we made it back to our house for our traditional Christmas eve program. We invited a couple from our congregation who don’t have any grandchildren that live close. It was special to have them in our home with us. We opened Christmas jammies, acted out the nativity and then shared thoughts on our Savior and Christmas traditions. It was just long enough to be impactful and memorable.

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Steve closed out the evening with Twas the night before Christmas – a book his father read to him every Christmas eve.

Christmas Eve 2017

The kids went to bed later than usual, but they fell asleep quickly. And then it was quiet. We didn’t have much we needed to do which was amazing. It gave me time to enjoy the moment just a little bit longer.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

 

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Time of appreciation and reflection…

Last night, just after midnight as I was brushing my teeth and going to bed, I was scrolling through my instagram feed. I saw beautiful homes, I saw cute Christmas pictures and then I saw the video announcing the prophet of our church, President Monson had passed away. I was the first view on the video only posted a minute before I saw it. I quickly showed Steve who was just getting out of bed after having trouble sleeping. Which was of course not the best timing because then we were up even longer talking about President Monson and Steve had even more trouble sleeping which means he was up extra late reading some of Monson’s most recent talks and watching a few videos.

Just last night I was sitting on Hallie’s bed and we were talking about the importance of prophets. We have prophets of old and modern day prophets and their counsel is valuable.

For those that don’t share my faith and may not know Monson – he was a man who lived a life of service to others. He lived a life dedicated to God and the church. His stories were entertaining and sentimental. His messages were inspiring. He was loved and will be missed. The passing of a prophet is always a time of appreciation and reflection and today has been just that.

Today my lettering practice was based on his words – his list of amazing quotes is endless.

Thomas S Monson Quote

Thomas S Monson Quote

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Sleeping under the tree…

Isn’t it every kid’s dream to sleep under the tree on Christmas eve?! I’m pretty sure my kids ask every year, and not once have I caved. They wake up early enough as it is without being right next to their stockings and all the presents not to mention they would never fall asleep. Nope. Not going to happen! But they’re getting older and it won’t be long before they stop asking to sleep by the tree – so my friend offered a suggestion: Let them sleep under the tree the night before Christmas eve. Almost as exciting and as magical but way easier on us!

We offered two surprises that night. They could open their sibling gifts (the gifts they purchased for each other) and they could sleep under the tree (which we later amended and said they could fall asleep by the tree but when we went to bed we would move them each to their own beds!) They were ecstatic. I mean parents-of-the-year-material ecstatic!

They each purchased a gift for the sibling just younger than them or in Briggs’ case his oldest sibling. They weren’t much, but they were perfect and everyone was perfectly happy with their little gift; a car, a memory game, a squishy, socks and letters for a letter board.

We read some Christmas stories with a fireplace burning on our TV screen. (That’s the only fire we were having in a fireplace in Arizona!) And the kids slowly drifted off to sleep, much faster than anticipated, some even clutching their gifts from earlier in the evening. It was quiet, the fireplace was crackling and the lights were mesmerizing. No wonder the kids ask to fall asleep by the tree. It is magical – so magical even I dozed off as I was watching the kids from the couch.

Its hard to tell from the picture but he’s got his beanie boo lion tucked under his arm, his new squishy is tucked under his chin and his stuffed snake is wrapped around his hand.

It’s safe to say our trial run sleeping under the tree was a success. Perhaps next year we will be even nicer parents and let them stay there the whole night! 🙂

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