...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Girls Night Out

Last night, Aubs and I had the chance to head out for the evening together.  A Mommy/ Daughter date is always a great way to spend and evening.  We had a couple of tickets to the ballet, so we decided to make a day of it.

First, we headed to Kohl's.  Every aspiring Snow Queen needs a beautiful gown to wear on a special occasion (besides, she needed a new Sunday dress and we happened to have a gift card).  We found a bunch of beautiful Christmas dresses on clearance and she really felt like royalty as she tried them all and debated back and forth which she liked best.  She finally settled on a favorite, and off we went.

That evening, we both dressed up (one of us a little less than the other) and one excited little girl and her mother tumbled into the car.  We stopped for a quick dinner at Wendy's, then drove downtown.  Aubs helped me navigate and we managed to park without incident.  I didn't even have to drive around a single block because of a wrong turn (I think that is a first for me, I can be directionally challenged). 

It was a chilly walk to the Capitol Theatre, but it was so worthy it.  My princess plopped down on her padded booster seat and bobbed up and down excitedly, frequently asking me how much longer until it started.

Finally, the orchestra started and "The Nutty Nutcracker" was on.  It was FABULOUS!  I HIGHLY recommend it.  You take the beauty and grace of the choreography of the Nutcracker and marry it with absurd costumes and whimsical moments and you get something absolutely, indescribably entertaining.

The theater was full of little girls in frilly dresses, and all of them were entranced. 

The toymaker was Dracula, the Nutrcracker Prince was Luke Skywalker, the Sugar Plum Fairy was escorted by Jame's Bond and her attendants -- Lady Gaga (a bubble clad male dancer), Cher, Beyonce, Brittany Spears, and Madonna. 

Other appearances included Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein, Marilyn Monroe, Darth Vader Mouse, vermin Jaws, Jackie Chan, the Marx Brothers, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Father Time, Baby New Year and Gene Kelly.  I'm sure I have forgotten a few others as well, but it was really fun. 

After the show, Aubs was exhausted.  We stumbled back to the car and she snoozed while I drove home.  It was a wonderful evening, one that I expect we will remember for an awful long time.  
Christopher Anderson.  Photo by Jesse Coss.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas to be Thankful For...

I have a wonderful Christmas story to tell you.  I love a good story about kind people who reach out and help others and make the world a more beautiful place.  I love this story even more because this year the story is mine. 

I have mentioned before how humbled Josh and I feel because of the generosity of the people around us, but we feel like we really need to give a gigantic thank you to those who have made us feel so blessed this year, so here goes.

Josh is a school teacher and I am a stay-at-home mom.  We are not rolling in dough, but we are rolling in happiness.  We are very frugal and we feel very grateful that we have always been able to take care of our family.

We knew that Christmas would be a concern this year and so during the summer I spent several Saturday mornings at yard sales in Draper (man the deals you can find!!).  I also made regular trips to DI just keeping an eye out.  We even had a sweet family in our ward pass on some toys their kids no longer used that were in FABULOUS shape so we saved those.

By the time December rolled around we felt pretty good about the cache of items we had gathered.  We felt very thankful that Heavenly Father had helped us find a way to have a few really fun things for our kids for Christmas.

Then, the week after Thanksgiving we received an envelope in the mail with no return address.  Inside we found $500.  We were shocked, but incredibly grateful.  This money showed up two weeks after the disappearance of our family camera.  I had scoured the house searching for it, but it was just plain gone.  This allowed us to purchase a camera before Christmas so that we could capture the magic of the entire season.  A week later we also had a problem develop with our furnace and it cost $300 to repair.  Without the generosity of this person we would not have had the money to pay for the repair.  To me, this was an absolute miracle.

A little way into December (back when there used to be snow) Santa Claus showed up at our door.  He kindly talked to our excited children and gave them each a treat.  Then he gave Josh an envelope that held a variety of gifts cards inside (Smiths, Walmart, Kohls).  We felt so very blessed.  It always surprises me when people decide that they want to bless the lives of someone around them our family comes to mind.  How humbling, in the most warm your heart way imaginable. 

The next week,we received another card in the mail.  This time there was no name, but a p.o. box return address (thank you card is on the way) and a gift card for $300 to Walmart.  We will be using this for groceries after the holidays.  That is nearly 3 weeks grocery budget for our family.  What a blessing.
Next, one night last week a lady showed up at the door.  She handed Josh an envelope and said it was from our "Secret Santa."  Inside was another $200.  We deposited the bulk of this in savings but also took the kids to Toys-R-Us to let them purchase a gift for one sibling (after drawing names).  I feel very grateful that our children had the chance to do that, I love it when they have the opportunity to think of someone other than themselves.  They really got into it and worked hard to find the PERFECT gift for their chosen sibling.  I was so impressed with the concern and care that showed in their gift giving.  These little people are amazing, the world is better just because they walk it's paths.

Because we have had very sick children this past couple of weeks (flu and croup followed by a quartet of ear infections) we have also had a lot of doctors visits and the extra money in savings has made it possible for us to pay the required co pays without wondering where the cash will be coming from.  It was such a blessing to head straight to the doctor when the kids weren't feeling well instead of debating if we could just handle it on our own because we just didn't have the funds.  Someone else's kindness brought peace to this mother's heart.

Christmas Eve our Sweet neighbor came over to see us.  She brought an ornament and note for each of our kids (she treats them like bonus grand kids, they adore her).  She also gave Josh and I a card, which included $100.  We were dumbfounded.  We love her, what an example of kindness and love she shares.

Finally, Christmas Eve night we were up until a little after 2:00 am assembling an amazing Playmobil castle that I picked up at a garage sale that had loads of pieces but not so many instructions.  Still for $1.50 it was so worth it especially because also in the box we discovered 12 Lego guys as well as all the Playmobil stuff. 

Anyway, as we went outside to throw away the boxes and papers from our escapades we found on our porch several garbage bags full of stuff.  I don't know who brought it, but they were inspired because the bags were loaded with things our family really needed.  There were all kinds of dish cleaning supplies, a gigantic kitchen skillet (we REALLY needed one), games, sheet cake pans, a gallon of eggnog, towels for everyone...it felt like a miracle.  I didn't expect to be in tears at 2:00 Christmas morning, but I was and Josh's eyes leaked a bit too. 

I don't know what possessed people to reach out in such charity and kindness to our family this year.  There is no way a person could earn or deserve this sort of support and love.  All I can say is that I am thankful.  In a year where I though we would be scrimping to fill the stockings of our little angels we are instead overflowing with Christmas cheer.

I don't really know how to thank those that have sacrificed so freely to bless my life and the lives of the people I love  most, but I hope that I can find ways to show my gratitude.  The Savior said "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these...you have done it unto me," and I believe that is the path I will have to take.  I cannot hope to repay these kind gestures, but I hope that in reaching out and doing what I can to bless the lives of others I will be able to help them see how thankful I really am.

I hope that everyone can feel as loved and as humbly grateful this holiday as I do.  Life is such a blessing and being in the family of God makes each day a joy.  Thanks to all who make my life so beautiful.  Whether you give friendship or smiles or anything else, know that I am grateful for you. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some Christmas Stuff

Christmas is seriously just around the corner and I have been thinking about some of my very favorite Christmas things.

I really love Christmas Trees.  They are fabulous.  What other holiday prompts everyone to rearrange their living room and carefully display a seven foot decoration in their front window (or wherever else).

I really love to see people's Christmas trees and the way they choose to decorate them.  There are some really gorgeous ones out there with matching ornaments and ribbons and all the trimmings.

Our tree is not like that.  None of our ornaments really match.  Lots of them are home made and many are very old, and even ugly.  But I wouldn't change it for anything.  I love the day we get out the box of ornaments and start hanging them on the branches one by one.  It seems like every one holds a fabulous memory that we get to smile about.  Some are funny and some are sweet, but it is really fun to just remember.  My oldest ornaments sprout from a sweet old lady that hand painted them for me when I was three years old. 

Our tree is a little bit eclectic (to say the least...not to mention it is naked from the waist down thanks one year old!) but we really do love it and I wouldn't trade it.

As an additional note, my sweet mother-in-law found a lady in Magna who sells home made Barbie clothes out of her house and she sent me on an errand to check them out.  I cannot say enough good about this lady.  Her clothes are cute and REALLY well made and she is the sweetest little old lady  you can imagine.  She also sells baby doll clothes and they looked cute too.  I have stuck some pictures on of what we bought.  She does dresses, leather jackets, swimsuits, we even bought an awesome cape...each outfit costs $1.  I was pretty impressed. 

(I have to post her info for anyone interested.  Her name is June and her # is 801-250-2585)

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pass me some cheese to go with my whine...

Yesterday was not the best day of my life.  Of course, how many days really are the best day of your life...I guess really just one so it is not too surprising when you run across another one that isn't the best. 

We have had sick kids for a couple of days.  But it isn't the days that are so bad, it is the nights. 

Two nights in a row my slumber was interrupted by small people who were hacking and crying and who just needed their mommies.  Poor things.  My bed has been surrounded by make-shift sleep spaces to accommodate little ones.  The three youngest boys tag teamed all night sleeping and waking.  Unfortunately, Josh was feeling sick as well so he was stationed on the downstairs couch so as to be near the available bathroom (the upstairs bathroom was dedicated to PJ who had a really nasty congested cough and needed the hot shower to steam up the air and loosen the gunk). 

So after two relatively sleepless nights, I trumped to the doctor with the kids yesterday morning.  Logan seemed to be getting better so we just had appointments for G and PJ.  When we got to the office, Ellie started coughing and had a rattling in her chest.  Ugh!

Once in our fabulous doctor's office (he really is incredible, we LOVE him...that's why we drive clear across the valley to 2300 East to see him), he checked out the two boys.  He diagnosed G with the flu, and said it was at it's peak so he should be getting better in the next day or two...hooray!.  PJ has a severe case of croup so he gave me some samples (so we wouldn't have to pay for the Rx) of stuff to help him, as well as a little extra in case anyone else picked it up.

Then he checked out Logan, also the flu, and listened to Ellie's chest (all for no additional copay...thanks Dr. VanDenBerghe).  He opted to give her a nebulizer treatment (she had RSV last year and is prone to respiratory problems).  She didn't love the nebulizer.  She screamed the entire ten minutes she had it on.  However, when you are screaming you have to breathe deeply so it was all good.

We all came home and took a nap.  We ALL needed it.

That afternoon, I decided I was bored so I picked up Josh's nausea.  I worshiped at the porcelain alter a couple of times, just for fun.  Thankfully, six pregnancies with a couple of months worth of morning sickness each time have made nausea much less incapacitating than it used to be.  I guess that is one good thing.  Josh and I trudged through the extremely necessary grocery shopping that evening and even made it home alive!  Nice. 

It would have been a total flop of a day if it weren't for the incredible people in my life.  I had several people drop by or call or email to wish me a great day and I could not have been more grateful.  It is so true that God has a way of helping us through our struggles, and it is almost always through the amazing people around us that He does it.  Thanks so much everybody, I am really really grateful!

Thankfully, the fam is on the mend -- not fine, but better.  Maybe Christmas will turn out to be fabulous, and illness free, after all.  Have a great week everyone.

P.S. Last night no one got up...it was HEAVEN!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Humbled S'more

Last night, our family got a surprise visit from Santa Claus.  The jolly red fellow showed up at our door just after bedtime so we called all the kids back upstairs and they LOVED being able to visit with the big guy for a few minutes before heading back to bed. 

Santa also gave an envelope to Josh with some gift cards that will be a big blessing to our family.  The kindness of this unknown benefactor is greatly appreciated.  We feel so very blessed.

That said, also feel incredibly humbled, and rightly so.  Let's face it, Josh and I are a proud lot, and not in the best sense of the word.  We would honestly do just about anything to help anyone, but we have no interest in being helped ourselves. 

This past few years, since Josh has started teaching school, we have been faced with some unrequested (although not unappreciated) opportunities to receive rather than give, and if I am truly honest, it is hard for us.  Obviously, this is an area we could really use some work...but we don't want to improve, because we don't want to experience the practice so we are sort of in a Catch 22.

Josh was asked to give a talk later this month on "humility"...sounds like a hint to me.  We both need it, but maybe he can rub off on me. 

Mostly, we just feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded by amazing people who care so much about our little family, even if we are too stubborn to ask for caring.  We would thank you if we knew who you were, but then we also might not open the door either so I guess that really wouldn't work out.  :)!!

Thank you friends and family for making my life such a joy to live.  I am grateful every day to wake up to another opportunity to learn from people that I love so very much.  Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks again. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Echoes of Christmas

Last night Josh and I took the kids to a live musical nativity presented at Liberty Park for Christmas.  It was fabulous!  We all loved it.  It was a bit chilly, but there were fire pits and heaters to ward off the chill, it really was a great experience.  There were seven stations at which actors sang their part of the Christmas story.  There were live animals (sheep, donkeys, and even a camel) and the kids LOVED it.  It only took about 30 minutes total and you were constantly moving and changing scenes so no one lost interest.  I was really pleased with this fabulous chance to be reminded of what Christmas should focus on in a creative and enjoyable way.  I am really glad we went and I imagine we will make this part of our yearly holiday tradition.  I would recommend it to anyone.  Follow this link for more information about "Echoes of Christmas."

While we were there, everyone needed to use the bathroom (never mind that we went just before we left the house...it never fails).  Josh was in the bathroom helping G (it isn't so easy to pee when you are buffered by a huge coat and gloves and everything else).  G was annoyed that he couldn't be out with everyone else so he stood there peeing and talking directly to his penis..."COME ON!!!  HURRY UP!!!  LETS GO!!!"  Josh was awfully entertained.  I got a chuckle out of it myself.

Oh Kids!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lego my Birthday

Well, Parker is about to turn seven.   His birthday is so close to Christmas that we have to celebrate a little bit early or no one can come to a party.  He decided on a Lego themed party.  I was a little nervous about the Lego idea, but we decided to give it a try.  Here's how it turned out.
 Our house looked all festive with Christmas stuff mixed with birthday streamers and balloons. 

As the kids arrived we broke into teams.  We played a bunch of Lego related games.  We had the boys carry Lego's under their chins to drop in a jar.  it was pretty funny to watch and the kids had a good time with it.

 Next we built Lego buildings out of Duplo blocks and then each team tried to knock the other team's building down by throwing wadded socks at them (the socks were clean).  The tallest tower after all the throwing was the winner.  They would have played this one all afternoon if I would have let them.  It was a great game.

 We each took at guess at how many Legos were in this jar and the closest guess won a prize.  We played a couple of other games but I didn't get pictures of everything because Josh wasn't there so I was doing all of the organizing and photography.  Also, I am scatterbrained on my best day so I feel pretty good that we got as much as we did on film.
Finally it was time for our pinata.  That didn't quite go the way we had planned.  It was raining and hailing outside and the wind was blowing all the water onto our carport so we couldn't really take the kids outside.  So, instead, we put the Lego pinata on the floor (one of the easiest pinatas I have ever made...square shaped things are so simple!).  We rolled a dice that had  0,1,2 and 3 on it and that told the kids how many times they could hit the pinata with the plastic bat we had.  It was sure funny to see them frown when they rolled a 0, they pouted so adorably (everyone got 0 at least once, but not too often). 

Then we had cake.  Ok, I am no Angela Daley or Tara Turpin, but for me this was pretty good (lets just pretend the gel writing stuff didn't get all runny near the end...I don't know how to use this stuff). 

Parker blew out his candles and everyone ate and was happy.  All in all it was a success.  Parker was really pleased with how things went and that is all that really matters.   
Also, Ellie was a tease the whole time.  I had hired Aubrey to watch the two littlest kids downstairs so they wouldn't be in the way, but she sort of got absorbed in a movie and my tiniest sprites wandered up to be involved in the party.  They were actually really good so it worked out anyway. 
It really was a good day...but mostly I am glad it is over.  I love trying to help my kids have a good time with birthday parties, even if they are simple little celebrations, but I am also glad to have all the work over with.  I am grateful to have these people in my life so that I always have something wonderful to celebrate. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tree Trimming...but not the holiday kind

Ok, so a couple of weeks ago it snowed here...a lot.  I think I already mentioned that.  We lost power at our house for 18 hours.  Josh and I were at a movie (Hooray Harry Potter!!!) when the power went out so our poor, sweet babysitter was stuck in a dark, cold house that she wasn't used to.  Poor kid.  At least our children were snuggled in bed with visions of sugarplums...nope, I doubt that, maybe candy bars...dancing in their heads.

Anyway, the point is, in that storm we lost the aspen tree at the front of our house.  Several major limbs broke and there was no way to salvage the tree.  Josh was not sad, he has hated that tree since we moved in.  I am pretty sure he hates almost every tree, but that is a post for another day.

So, we spent a couple hours meticulously cutting the tree down and piling the downed limbs in our side yard until the family truck is available to help us get rid of them.  It was a big job.

Today, this little Spanish guy came to my door.  He said he was taking down a broken tree in the neighborhood and wanted to know if I wanted him to take the limbs from our tree.  Now, I am not stupid enough to think that my new friend was going to do this for free so I asked how much he wanted for the job.

He thought for a minute then said, $75.  



We already cut down the tree one limb at a time.  We already took down the bulk of the trunk.  We already piled all the limbs and branches in one semi-tidy pile.  Is there really $75 worth of work in moving our pile from our side yard to the back of his truck?

Not to me there isn't.  I must have looked flabbergasted.  He sort of back pedaled and said, "Ok, how about $50."  I just said no thanks and shut the door.  Maybe I need to go into the tree removal business.  The pay seems pretty posh.  Of course I didn't pay it, and maybe other people won't either, so maybe the job isn't so posh after all.   

Monday, December 6, 2010

All I need are colored tights and a cape

Today I gave Super Mom a run for her money.  Ok, not really because Super Mom would have actually styled her hair, not slopped it into a ponytail and called it good and Super Mom would have noticed that there was oatmeal wedged in Ellie's ear before she headed out the door...but lets overlook that.

Today's Excitement...
1. Get kids to do their morning chores...you would think after doing the same chores day after day for years they could manage it without me following them around, but no.

2. Send the kids out the door on time for school.

3. Make younger children look presentable and shovel them into the Suburban by 8:15 for a well child check at 8:50 across town...if only our Doctor wasn't so fabulous, we could find someone closer.

4. Dr visit.  Very exciting.  Ellie screamed so much the doctor couldn't hear her heartbeat at first.  I had to restrain her flailing limbs for him to check her ears.  What fun.

5. Pile everyone back in the Suburban -- all happily toting new stickers and fancy tongue depressors, the favorite prize of doctor visits -- and drop Gavin off at preschool.  Just pretend that he wasn't a half hour late by the time we got there.

6. Go grocery shopping and pick up Ellie's precription for her inflamed airway (thanks last years RSV). 

7. What do you mean Walmart is out of Singulair?  Can that really happen, I thought you were a pharmacy.   Like, a real pharmacy.  Grrrrr.  I guess we head back tomorrow too.

8. Put all the groceries away.  Try not to step on Ellie who is following me everywhere I go.  I love that little girl.

9. Pick up Gavin from pre-school.

10.  Serve lunch.  Yogurt, bananas, bread and the piece de resistance, diced hot dogs skewered by little cocktail swords.  That's right...Super Mom eat your heart out!

11. Put kids down for naps.

12.  Breathe for a minute.

13.  Finish up article on toy safety for Christmas and submit it before it comes due.

14.  Clean toothpaste off bathroom counter, mirror, sink, faucet, floor and toilet (what?  come on guys).

15. Make fruity Pebble rice crispy treats for after school snack.  This is getting long...help kids w/ homework, give three oldest piano lessons and toss in a load of laundry for good measure.

16. Make sandwiches for early dinner, gather library books that will tarnish my credit if I don't return them today, DON'T STEP ON ELLIE!!!

17.  Coats, shoes, everyone potty.  Into the Suburban.  Books to library on time -- take that grumpy librarian! -- and cruise to Cyprus High school for elementary singing festival.

18.  Deposit Aubs and PJ with teachers and truck everyone else to the very back row (so we won't obscure anyone's view when we stand and run around which WILL happen) to watch the concert.

that look pretty much sums up her whole day
19.  Entertain Logan and Ellie with my crazy, though quiet, antics.  Appreciate Gavin and Bryce quietly coloring.  Clap.

20.  Herd the kidlets back to the car (why did I think parking a block away was a good idea). 

21. Bedtime routine -- light candles, sing songs, read scriptures, read story, say prayer, family cheer and scoot the children to bed.

22. Say prayers with kids (how old are they when they finally don't need me there when they say prayers?), turn on Monday night football.  Wait for Josh to come home.

23.  Tell Josh to bring me food on his way home, I am waaaaaay too exhausted to cook anything now.  Wait, I didn't do that yet, can I put it on the list? ...........It's my blog, I can do what I want!

Thankfully, God has a way of blessing us to be able to manage the things that must be done.  We aren't perfect, at least I'm not, but we get through it.  I didn't even yell at anyone today.  I think that's pretty good.  Yup, hand me a cape, I may just be able to fly.
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