Monday, December 31, 2012

All About Us

We had a very quick, smooth, and uneventful drive up to the Portland area, but not nearly so pleasant a drive home.  There was quite a bit of snow and slow speeds for the last 6 of 15 hours.  It was a bummer, but we were so happy to arrive home safely.  And our sweet neighbors who were taking care of our menagerie of animals left us a welcome home message.
Here is the chariot that brought us safely home.  My dream car-- a prison van.

Christmas is all about the children, right?  I'm good with that.  I mean, I bought myself a pencil sharpener and Abe bought himself a CD for Christmas.  We're easily satisfied. 
Well, if Christmas is for children, then the week after Christmas is all about the parents.
Thursday night Abe and I went to a fabulous Christmas party at the Flynn's home.  Many of our good friends were there and it was so enjoyable.  We left the children home to tend themselves.  They were all alive when we arrived home, but the house was in shambles.  Bad, bad, bad shape.
I was not amused and after a half an hour of playing Sergeant Mom things were put back together.  However, we told them that just to give them a chance to prove they could do a better job, we were going to go on a date the next night.
Friday night Abe and I went to go see Les Miserables.  The kids did a much better job and we thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Although we agreed that we would have enjoyed it more if they had just cast true Broadway singers throughout.

We had plans Saturday night to have our wonderful friends, the Taylors down to our home for dinner, but they had some sickness that we wanted no part of.  We postponed until Sunday in the hope that the gunkies would have passed by then.
Shortly after talking with Rebecca I got a call from my dear cousins who were in town visiting asking if we'd like to join them and their siblings for dinner-- their treat!  Sure, Abe and I had left the kids for the previous two evenings, but why should that stop us from leaving them again?  And with all of my cousins' little kids as well-- 8 additional children to be exact!
We had so much fun and I cannot say enough nice things about these cousins of mine.  They are so kind, funny, smart, genuine and uplifting.  I just love them!
 Was I feeling bad about leaving the children so much?
On some level I thought maybe I should have.  But no, I wasn't.
Sunday evening did work out for the Taylors to come over.  No one was sick and games were played and children and parents were happy and we were together. 

These are all great fun activities we've been up to, but there has been one big bummer in the mix.  
My dad went to the hospital early Sunday morning with some sort of blockage in his small intestine.  No fun at all.  As I write this he is likely already home, but I did get to spend some time with him at the hospital this afternoon.  
Here is a dramatic reenactment of the discomfort he was in.  It was very disconcerting to hear he was in the hospital because he's never been one to take things easy and very rarely been sick enough to slow down.  Bev said that she knew he was feeling better when he started talking politics again:)   And although it was unfortunate circumstances, it was very nice to have a couple of hours to just sit and talk with him this afternoon.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Morning 2012

We told the children they were NOT to disturb our slumber on Christmas morning until 6:00 a.m.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  And just to make sure I told Bethany that there would be a fifteen minute penalty for every minute they were early before 6:00.  You come in at 5:59 and we'll send you back to your room until 6:15.  This threat did buy us an extra 8 minutes of sleep.  They burst in at 6:08.
  Poor George.  It was unfortunate we had to wake George up so early because he was sicky-poo and did not have a happy Christmas morning.  Opening his airplanes was one of perhaps only two happy moments for the entire morning.
This was the other happy moment when we gave up trying and let him play on Matt and Misty's iPad.  Tell me again why we got him any presents?
Faith and Cannon both asked Santa for ukeleles.  Faith got a "real" one that will actually stay in tune so she can really learn to play it.  Cannon got a "decorative toy" ukelele that can double as a rock star guitar.  
Abe gave Cannon and Faith each a traditional remote control car.  Somebody in the family always gets a remote control car that is loads of fun and functional one day and then it breaks but nobody really cares and they just go play with another Christmas toy. Remarkably, they are both still working.  Another Christmas miracle!
Here we are as the morning festivities got underway.  I had the goal to cut back on Christmas this year and hoped that by going to visit Matt and Misty we would more easily downsize.  Upon going to bed on Christmas Eve I feared that perhaps I'd gone too far and children would be disappointed.
How silly of me to fear that.  From the kids perspective Christmas was a grand success-- "The best Christmas ever!!!!".  From my perspective I failed miserably at cutting back.
Oh, well.  Maybe next year.
Elinor was surprised by a guitar and so happy to get a pink and gold locket.
And a pink fuzzy jacket
Bethany and Elinor were so thrilled to receive their beautiful shawls from Matt and Misty.  The Christmas movies this year were Tangled, Brave and Soul Surfer.  Bethany loves Soul Surfer and has wanted it for a while so she was so excited and has watched it no less than six times in the last four days. 
Bethany also fell in love with this cute little bike for her doll.  She is excited to turn twelve and become a young woman and I know her doll days are numbered.  But I'm going to encourage her to be a girl as long as possible.  Boys and makeup can wait.
She also got the game Dominion.
Clark with his traditional Christmas Legos.
Not as exciting perhaps as the latest techno gadgets, but the kids were excited to receive more reading material from Rick Riordan, one of their favorite authors.
Uncle Matt hooked Clark up with a new watch, a nice hoodie, and some cologne (eeek!!).
And joy of joys!  Clark was shocked to get his own laptop computer.
Let me explain.  At this point in my parenting I am not a fan of allowing young people unlimited screen time and/or internet access.  Clark can earn computer game time each day but we're somewhat strict about how much and what games.  For Christmas he asked for a word processor (do they even still make those anymore?)  He just wanted something he could type on that wasn't password protected so that he could just write stuff.  He likes to write adventure stories and papers for school.  So although we have computers, with internet access (his does not) he wanted his own.  I resisted until Abe convinced me.  "Betsy... the 13-year old boy wants a computer to write on!  Give him a computer!"
So he is the proud new owner of an older, refurbished laptop.  Not exactly the kind you go bragging to friends about, but it's all his and he has unlimited access.
Abe opening a gift from Matt and Misty.  "Ooh, nice!"
Yes, very nice indeed!
I look GOOD!
Even though it was a gift for the little boys, all the kids have enjoyed playing with the castle and all the figures and toys to go with it.
I am not only stunning in this photo, but I'm showing off my brand-new, state-of-the-art pencil sharpener.  What more could a homeschooling mother wish for for Christmas!
Abe enjoying his British Fried Breakfast for the 17th year straight!  We don't call him the Tradition Czar for nothing!
He is wonderful!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

The afternoon of Christmas Eve was spent in food preparation.  Lots and lots of food preparation and it was well worth the effort.  Matt makes the best turkey and even better gravy.  The missionaries joined us for dinner and the after meal program.
Aliyah as the Angel Gabriel.  She was in a hurry to go do other things so she just shouted "Jesus" and was off.  But she sure looked cute.
Faith landed the role of Mary this year and took her role seriously as she pondered these things in her heart.
Here is Cannon as the pirate Joseph dreaming.
 They were so proud to move into the starring roles this year.  They're really moving up in the world.
And the angel appeared to the shepherds and they were sore afraid.  You can see just how sore afraid Elinor is and what lovely ballet arms the angel has.  And why am I looking at them like I am watching true art?
Then the wise men from the East came to offer their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (or in this case a wrapped ukelele, Little People, and Fancy Nancy books).
Is there anything that screams TRADITION like Christmas Eve pajamas?  I love them.  Grandma and Grandpa Cannon gave Faith, Cannon, George and Aliyah their jammies and Abe and I gave to the older kids.  Everyone was happy.  Faith was especially happy with her purple warm-up suit/PJs.  She has been wanting a warm up suit to wear to gymnastics.
Abe and Clark got matching pajama pants but I like this picture because it looks like they just got one humongous pair of pants to share.  Hee hee.
Matt did the honors of reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  My dad always read us this poem from the same book just before going to bed every Christmas Eve.  Matt did a great job because he made the same little jokes at just the right places that our dad used to do.  For example, Matt read "He turned like a jerk" instead of  "He turned with a jerk."  Also instead of saying "Laying a finger aside of his nose " he read, "Laying a finger inside of his nose."  Ha, ha ha!  It just never gets old!
Our most bizarre Christmas Eve tradition is the reading of The Cajun Night Before Christmas.  Grandma Fox gave us this book back before we even had any children and I'm not quite sure why we read it.  We aren't from the south, we don't have any French ancestry, we can't really relate culturally to it, and I don't think we understand half of what it's talking about.  But it is funny to listen to Abe read it as it is written in a heavy cajun dialect.
Still, it's weird.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Day 2012

Christmas Eve started off dark and early with the Jingle Bell Fun Run 5k.  Abe was the best sport of the whole group because he walked a shorter route with Clark, Elinor, Faith, Cannon and George.  Meanwhile, Bethany, Matt, Misty, Aliyah and I ran most of the way.  This was a very necessary start to the day because Matt and Misty are seriously good cooks and it's Christmas.  Nuff said.
After the run we gathered up all our snow gear as quickly as we could and piled into the big 15-passenger van (we rented for this Christmas trip) and headed up to Mt. Hood for sledding.
It was an hour and a half drive and it involved some snowy mountain roads, which is super stressful for me, but it was so worth it.  What a grand time we had!
 Elinor screamed her head off on every run.
This was the first time down the hill for Faith and I.  We weren't so brave at first.
Clark and Cannon hoped to catch some big air on this run.
They did catch some air and a face full of snow as well.
Abe was Mr. Enthusiasm!-- not only cheering for our people but everyone around us as well.
George wasn't so happy when he got seriously whitewashed with snow on a run with Daddy.
The kids usually have a terrible time falling asleep on Christmas Eve, but I don't think it will be a problem tonight.  After the 5K and sledding and an afternoon of Christmas movies, I think they will conk out pretty quickly tonight.  Especially after the glorious Christmas Eve dinner we are about to partake of!!!!  Oh, it smells so good!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let the Festivities Begin

We enjoyed a delightfully uneventful drive up to Matt and Misty's house and were very warmly welcomed.
The girls cannot get enough of their cute little cousin, Aliyah.  Even though she is six months younger than George, she's talking circles around him, already potty trained, has impeccable manners, and is probably fluent in Chinese as well as English.  She's adorable and we love her.
We got to say family prayer in her perfect princess room.  I thought such places only existed in the Pottery Barn catalog.  It is so nice you can imagine how much we are enjoying making ourselves at home!
Misty and I went to do an aerobics class this morning and Abe and Elinor had a daddy-daughter walking date.
Not only does my brother live in the area but Abe's just-older brother lives nearby as well.  We spent today hanging out and visiting with Stuart and Tiffany's family.  It was wonderful.
Cannon loved playing with cousin James although I cannot say what it is they played all day.  Abe and I were too busy talking with Stu and Tiff.
Bethany and Elinor love, love, love their twin cousins Lindsey and Lauryn.
Clark and Adam were nowhere to be seen.
I do come to the Northwest to mostly visit my family.  But a very close second is to dine at Burgerville.   To some Burgerville is just another burger joint, but to me it is so much more.
It's a really, really good burger joint.
We are so happy to be here.  Merry Christmas, everyone!