Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

This year we kept Christmas Eve quiet around here, and it was nice!  We had our almost a tradition (3rd year?) potato soup, and we had some traditional appetizer fare in the form of hot dog crescent rolls.  I think Jake ate 4 of those (and each had half of a hot dog in it - ikes!).  Isn't the table pretty with our Fiesta ware?  :)

We left Santa some sugar cookies with trees on them that Pillsbury helped make.  Refreshingly easy, and Santa said they were delicious.  A win win!

We opened presents, the kids with great glee.  One of the best things about their age is the anticipation.  They would check under the tree every day before Christmas to survey for newly wrapped presents.  Bentley would count them up so he could compare tallies.  :)  He would compare box size too.  Silly kid!  They would check how many days left until Christmas and Santa finally arrived!  I love how excited they were.

I tried to distract (with only some success I'll admit) from a focus on receiving with some charitable activity this year.  Matt and I let the kids each pick an animal from the Heifer group that they wanted to donate, and then we took care of it for them.  We had at least a few minutes of good conversation with the kids about how blessed we are and how we can try to help others... it's a first step, right?!  Bentley picked a water buffalo, Jake picked goats, and Viva picked a flock of chicks!

On Christmas Day we lounged around in the morning (edit: we almost ALL lounged - I made the mistake of thinking apple dumplings would be an easy breakfast.  I did this last year too... next year I think I need to find something less time intensive).  We headed up to Grandpa Tim & Grandma Karen's in the early afternoon, where the kids had the fun of opening up a whole second set of presents.  We did Christmas dinner with family up there, as normal, and enjoyed a fun evening of games and shows.

To sum it up, here's a picture of all 5 of us in our Christmas finery.  Not as cute as the three stair steps in a row kidlet Christmas picture, but we're not bad!

We are so blessed and had a great Christmas season.  The kids are already asking how soon Christmas will come again.  Although it's fun it's a good thing it's only once a year - it's exhausting!

Bentley's Name!

The snowman is nice too.  But I thought this was a particularly nice rendition of his name.  Sometimes it is spelled with one lower case e and one capital E, but in this case he decided to go with both lower case.

Very nice!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas

We have three wonderful reason to be merry at our home. We hope your holidays are as blessed as ours.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Busy at Work

I told you about some of the Christmas crafts the children did and I showed you the finished projects, and now--finally!--I'll add some photos of the young crafters at work. They are adorable!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Dad and Christmas Gifts

What is Matt's favorite part of Christmas? I can't say for sure what his most favorite part is, but I know from observation that he really likes buying gifts for others. He takes each of the children out shopping to find small gifts for each other. He works hard at finding gifts to give them himself. (Kara chooses and buys gifts for them, but Matt insists on choosing and buying some himself.) He buys Christmas gifts to donate to the underprivileged. He donates to every food drive he hears about at this time of year. He's a good example to Bentley, Jake, and Viva and me, too!

We don't have any photos of him out shopping with the children. (That would definitely be stalker behavior!) We do have a photo of him working with Bentley to wrap the gifts they purchased.

P.S. I think Bentley takes after his father in the gift giving department. He asked Opa to take him shopping for gifts for Jake and Viva even though he'd already gone shopping with his dad for gifts for them. When I was at Target with Bentley and Viva the other day I found myself purchasing Christmas gifts for Rameses at his request. I don't know that I ever did that for Nefer or Pharaoh.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ornaments Part 4: Snowmen Snowflakes

Okay, I didn't realize it before, but I definitely have a snowflake ornament theme going on this year. Fortunately the end products all look so different, you'd never notice they are all snowflakes.

This was another Oriental Trading Company kit. All the supplies came in a little bag and the kids put them together using glue dots (not supplied in the kit, but they should be!). Viva and Bentley were eager to make one and Jake refused. Sometimes he wants to do a craft with us and other times he refuses. That's okay; I have two willing partners.

I was surprised how easily Bentley could follow the drawing showing how to put the snowman's face and hat together. He explained it to Viva without any help from me. He eschewed the silver sequins provided in the kit. It's cool that he likes individualizing his crafts. Viva individualized hers, too, but I don't know that she did it on purpose. After I punched the nose out for her, she put the waste foam back on the nose, so he has a rectangular blob of a nose rather than a carrot shaped nose.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ornaments Part 3: Christmas Trees

I placed an order with Oriental Trading Company last month. That's where I got my wonderful glue dots from. Awesome! At that time I also purchased some of their Christmas ornament kits. I was quite pleased with the quality of some of them and not so impressed with others. That's how online ordering goes!

One of the kits I only liked so-so was a kit with foam Christmas trees in it. It came with foam decorations to go on the trees. I also purchased some cool Christmas stick-on earrings at Michaels. They worked great on the foam trees, too.

Another kit contained glitter pom-poms and cute, little, wooden, Christmas trees painted green. The larger glue dots worked great for attaching the pom-poms to the trees. The twins happily used all the pom-poms in their kit to complete their trees. Bentley only wanted to use the pink, yellow, and red pom-poms leaving out the blue and white ones. I tried to talk the twins into trading with him, but they said "No!". I finally ripped open a spare kit and stole from it the desired pom-poms. Someone else is going to have to make a blue and white pom-pom tree.

The third Christmas tree we made was a fancy-cut, layered, felt tree that came with red rhinestones to decorate it. I pulled out my own package of multi-colored rhinestones. B & I made a tree together because the rhinestones are small so it's hard to center them on the glue dots. B started out only used bluish-green rhinestones. Finally he added purple ones and lastly a few gold ones. We sent this tree to his urompa in Florida.

Lastly Viva and I worked on a similar rhinestone tree for Grandma Vicki. Viva used all the different colors of rhinestones. She was quite adept with the rhinestones and glue dots. It was beautiful!

Glittery Foam Snowmen

I bought the kids a box of glittery foam Snowmen at Walmart. It was only $5 and we've used it three times already. What is it with foam art pieces--when you open the box they start multiplying and no matter how hard you work at using them all up, there are always more. They take over your art closet.

The snowman foam art pieces include snowmen (!), scarves, mittens, and hats. At least that's how I saw the pieces. Turns out they are much more versatile than that. The scarves double as boots. The mittens can be used as...well, let your imagination take wing. I'm not going to put in print or photo how our young foam artist used them. He gifted those art pieces away.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Church at 9AM

I don't think we've mentioned that in September our church time changed from 11AM to 9AM. This is not a good thing for a family that does not regularly get up that early. Some Sundays start out very rough.

Jake is not a fan of the Sunday-go-to-church regimen. He thoroughly dislikes nursery. He dislikes getting dressed in the morning as he's a big fan of sleepers. He hates cords, which are standard Sunday-go-to-church wear. Yup, it's a lot fun getting Jake into his Sunday clothes and out the door. One morning it took three adults. Another day Matt coaxed him into being civil through the entire affair. That was a fluke. Today it was a two adult job.

Viva is usually good about getting ready although she hates being woken up before she's ready to get up. She gets that from her mother. Today was not a good morning for Viva. She tried her hardest to ignore us and sleep on. Then she tried tears. Even at her worst though it usually only takes one adult to get her dressed.

Bentley is usually a good sport about getting ready for church since his mom purchased him a rattlesnake sweater. It's a beautiful sweater and Bentley wears it every Sunday. We adults had a discussion about whether a snake was appropriate for Sunday wear. We decided that there was a snake in the Garden of Eden, so it could be considered a Bible themed sweater. Certainly more so than teddy bears or trains which you commonly see on young boys' Sunday sweaters.

Anyway, back to the topic...Sundays are brutal around here. If our tribe gets out the door late and arrives at the church after sacrament has started then the chances of finding seating for seven together is slim. This, of course, upsets the children.

Nine more months to go until we change back to 11AM church.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nefer Departs

Nefer died last night. She was born June 1, 1996, so she was 14 years old which is fairly old for a cat. She was blind for the last couple of years and wasn't interested in doing much of anything other than sleeping, so she lived in our master bathroom. (It's a very large bathroom with two big windows, so it was a nice place for her.)

Bentley, Jake and Viva did not interact with Nefer very much. She was too old to be playful and too fragile to be picked up by the children.

Nefer was a fun cat in her prime. We had a bird feeder at our old home that was mounted to the window and she loved stalking the birds. Of course, she never got one because of the window was between her and the birds, but she enjoyed trying and she did a great job chirping at them. (I'd never heard a cat chirp before Nefer.)

She was an indoor kitty, but once in a while we'd take her outside. She did not like the outdoors. She had a typical Siamese meow, which is not a pleasant sound.

When we brought Nefer home, we had another cat, Pharaoh. He was four when Nefer joined our home. Nefer loved to curl up next to Pharaoh. Pharaoh had a gorgeous, thick coat of fur and was always a good source of heat. Nefer's coat of fur was quite sparse for a Siamese. She had beautiful blue eyes--true blue Siamese!

We're grateful for the years we had with Nefer.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The iPad

The iPad continues to be a big hit with the children. They use mine much more than I do. Mark, Kara, and Matt use their iPads regularly, so I'm the odd man out in this regard. Whatever. I have better things to do with my time. I have three young children to play with! Who needs electronic toys when you have real, live, preschoolers to entertain you!?

Unfortunately there's three of them and only one of me, so they still feel the need to seek out more entertainment and the iPad is a favorite toy of theirs. Mark regularly downloads new games for the trio to try out. Bentley is very good at figuring out games, although he does usually get a little help at the start from his opa.

Bentley then teaches Jake and Viva the games. Jake and Viva don't always want his help, but usually they are willing to have a short lesson.

Kara continues to lecture us (Mark and I) on the iPad's potential for rotting the children's fine, young brains. We are supposed to time the children when they use the iPad so we can report back to her. We are negligent in this area. Perhaps we are even in collusion with the grandchildren.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ornaments Part 2: Fancy Snowflakes

Even though I own lots of Christmas ornament making supplies and kits, I'm always on the lookout for new stuff. I was at Michaels and I found a kit with ten thick, white, cardboard snowflakes. The kit came with markers, but we didn't use those.

Bentley and I started working on the snowflakes while the twins were napping. B painted four of ornaments. Then we tried glue and glitter. Next it was time to add embellishments--rhinestones, tri-beads, buttons, and sequins.

This is where we ran into a problem. Every ornament B had helped me base coat was now HIS ornament and he was against letting his siblings help finish them. He said they wouldn't do a good job! When I finally talked him into letting Viva do one of "his" ornaments, he gave her exact directions on how to finish it.

When we started the project I should have told him we were painting them so Jake and Viva could help add other stuff. If he knows ahead of time, he's usually willing to share, but if he doesn't then he wants to keep and safeguard his art from others.

Bentley and I worked on most of the ornaments together and Viva helped out with two of them. Jake wasn't interested in working with us on this project.

We put the finished snowflakes on the French doors going into the library. They look great. The only problem is that Rameses likes to attack them and rip off the tri-beads and rhinestones. Kittens! (It turns out that glue dots don’t stick so well to glitter. Duh!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Babes in Toyland

Matt and I took the kids to a local theater group's production of Babes in Toyland for some Christmas fun.  It was nice and short, which is perfect for small toddlers.  There was plenty of singing and not TOO much plot.

Viva and Bentley were golden for the entire performance.  Jake started asking, part way into the second act, "Will it be over soon?!".  Nonetheless he hung in there!

We've enjoyed these productions from Alaska's TBA Theater, we're looking forward to more this coming year!

Picture Hunt Books

Bentley enjoys doing picture hunt books. A picture hunt book "features busy, colorful scenes packed with multiple images and objects to seek and find". (The "I Spy" series of books and games are picture hunt activities.) Last Christmas I bought a picture hunt book in the bargain bin at Borders. It had 30+ oversized pages. B loved doing it. We did at least one page every day before nap time. Last month I found another picture hunt book at Costco. It was while cousin John was visiting and Bentley had John help him search for items. On the side of the page are pictures so nonreaders can do some searching on their own, but there is also a written list of other items to search for.

The new book only took Bentley a couple of weeks to finish off. The twins did a couple of pages, but they aren't yet really interested. I pulled out the Christmas book from last year and Bentley has worked on it a little. We've been pretty busy with other Christmas activities. So much to do, so little time.

Ornaments Part 1: Button Snowflakes

Even more than decorating the Christmas tree, I love Christmas ornaments. I have hundreds--close to 700 in my personal collection. I have a log that I maintain of where each individual ornament came from. Vacation purchase? Gift from a friend? Purchased at a Christmas bazaar? Handmade by me or others? I also list the date and who gave it me, if it was a gift.

I never put all the ornaments on the tree at one time. Some of them are quite ugly, but because of sentimental value I keep them. Also, I have purchased ugly ornaments at bazaars so I could use them as a general pattern--improving upon the original design.

It's a big Christmas tradition of mine to make ornaments. I'm excited that my grandchildren are old enough to embrace this tradition with enthusiasm. We've been making ornaments together for a couple of years now, but this year for the first time they are all old enough to full engage in the activity.

My first ornament project of the season with them was button snowflakes. I saw one online. Glue three popsicle sticks together in a snowflake shape and then glue on buttons.

I showed this idea to Bentley and Viva. They helped me make the first ornament. I had never used glue dots before and they were wonderful. Jake, Viva and Bentley could easily use them! I could easily use them! They hold well on most surfaces.

Viva made a button snowflake ornament on her own.

Bentley made an airplane. Airplane?! It was his idea. He made four or more popsicle stick airplanes. He painted them. He added a couple of rhinestones to one of them. He made a popsicle stick fish. It was quite large and beautiful. He did not make any snowflakes for me.

After the snowflake Viva made a couple of triangle shaped ornaments for me. Then she started doing free form designs like her big brother. She made a mouse and then a helicopter and finally a pteranodon (Seriously, that's what she called it!) Her art was a little harder to interpret than Bentley's, but she told me what it was, so I'm taking her word for it. (They are shown in the order listed above in case you are baffled. I like the pteranodon most!)

Jake was a great fan of my snowflakes and triangles and he made four or more in short order. He was not interested in free form popsicle stick artwork. Maybe another day.

This project was a big hit and the grandchildren asked to do it again the next day. In two days we burned through an entire package of 432 glue dots. I have to find a local, cheap, steady source for these.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trimming the Tree

I love Christmas. I like to put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. I prefer real trees, but since moving in with Kara and Matt I have acceded to using their fake tree as the household's Christmas tree. Someday I'm going to put up a second (real!) tree--maybe even a third.

Anyway, I finally have some excited assistants to help with trimming the tree. Bentley, Viva, and Jake were thrilled to see the tree put together. They really liked putting on ornaments. We put some on the day after the tree went up and then more the next day and more the day after. I think we spread the ornaments out over four days. We still have lots more ornaments, but the kitty is a menace so I'm not putting out many glass ornaments this year.

Next year I'm going to put the tree up November 1st. I have no doubt I can get the necessary votes to do so now that Jake, Viva, and Bentley are on my team. !!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Turkey with a Glass of Milk

By Bentley.

Isn't it clever?!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

When I grow up...

Viva told me a few weeks ago:

"When I grow up I want to be someone who makes yummy food for people to eat."

And yesterday she told me:

"When I grow up I want to be someone who writes books!"

I say go for it.  She can probably be both when she grows up.  Or even sooner!

My Dress Princess

This was the favorite dress of September and October.  It has since been replaced as most beloved by a sparkly red one (the one I made) but for a couple months it was the first choice every time the closet was opened!  Isn't the cute?

I love having a little girl that likes to dress up.

Yesterday we let her dress herself.  A sparkly maroon dress, bold striped tights, 10 bracelets and necklaces (or so) of all colors and styles, and a sparkly tiara.

And she wore it out of the house to the church Christmas party.  I'm told she was correctly identified as a princess.

Hurray for me for trying to be the type of parent that lets the kids show some individuality on occasion.  Even if it's slightly scary looking to see.  In a cute way.  :-)

Maybe I can get her to recreate the look so I can add a picture.

Mexico: Sleeping Children & Spouse

It's about time for some Mexico pictures. I figure I'll do a picture story, with pictures in posts by theme. Since rest and sleeping are an important part of all vacations that seems like a great place to start.

2 am on a plane.  I may have had no place to put my arms, but that's okay - I'd rather two sleeping toddlers than two awake and cranky ones!

Nap time!  And both asleep.  Craziness.

Two asleep again!  Call  me weird, I just love pictures of sleeping kids.  :-)

He looks so peaceful!

They look so tired!

P.S.  No sleeping pictures of Bentley.  That kid just doesn't sleep often enough for him to catch him at it.  :-)