Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Matt

I am at my in-laws for the holidays and don't have access to my pictures for updates on our holiday festivities, so I decided to steal Callie's blog idea about her husband, since few of you know him nearly as well as me (guys just don't get to sit around and chat for hours during the day during playgroups like us lucky moms! Course they don't have to break up nearly as many kid fights, clean up as many messes...I think it balances out = ).

FIVE THINGS HE LOVES (excluding me and the kids and any gospel references - those are an understood and not very telling):
  1. Music - In the past year or so you would think the guy breathes it, he always has some melody going through his head, often one he is creating (see previous blog about his music). I am wowed with his ability to pick things apart and hear all the different pieces of a song, everything from instruments to chord structures
  2. Animals - He loves watching the nature channel with the boys and you should the meticulous and caring way in which he takes care of our pets - and they are only hermit crabs!
  3. Sports & Exercise
  4. Americas Funniest Home Videos (or any other like show that just make you laugh out loud at spoofs)
  5. Making a difference - that's why he became a government employee (yes, big shock - it wasn't for the money...)

5 Things on His To Do List

  1. Finish updating our home video collection
  2. Clean the house (this one is sweet - the kids and I left in a whirlwind, as trips always go, and Matt is slowly trying to put that whirlwind back together)
  3. Get some actually restful sleep (with me and the kids gone, that's his only chance, as with 3 young kids, we hardly every get to sleep uninterupted through the night!)
  4. Build our family music collection
  5. Watch the movies I said were too boring and didn't want to watch with him

5 Foods He Enjoys

  1. He would say anything "Autumn makes" - I love that he is the number one fan of my cooking
  2. Broccoli - Matt is my hero - he's the only person I know who often eats based on how the food makes him feel, and thus loves good broccoli
  3. Mexican food
  4. Cereal
  5. More cereal!

5 Things You May Not Know About Him

  1. He is so funny. He does a great job of trying to get me to laugh more and loosen up about life.
  2. He's a thinker.
  3. He is not quiet. Because he is a thinker he is fabulous at not saying things without thinking about them (unlike his wife...I have gotten better though!), but mistaking his pensiveness for having nothing to say is his number 1 pet peeve! He won't add to a conversation just to make himself look good.
  4. He is a work horse. He even got the "workhorse" award in his masters program from his peers because he knows how to discipline himself.
  5. He can do one impressive turkey gobble.

5 Places He Has Lived

  1. King City, CA
  2. Provo, UT
  3. Belgium and France (his mission)
  4. San Dimas, CA
  5. Cape Coral, FL

5 Quirky Things About Him

  1. He is a nazi on dental care (he accredits it to his dental merit badge - like if he eats something sweet, he has to eat something to get it off his teeth)
  2. I don't think he has ever gone more than 3 days without working out (okay, that's just impressive, not so quirky...)
  3. He does the socks and sandals scene
  4. He is a total homebody.
  5. He doesn't like the tangy taste of most berries (I was raised on them and LOVE them, but him, not so much)

There it is. He is the love of my life and I sure am missing him right now, as his new job is keeping us apart for the holidays this year. I love you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2nd Annual Michaelis Gingerbread House FHE

Okay, I tried to make it sound official, but really we are just excited to have two Christmas traditions (makes me feel like I am racking up the mommy brownie points and leaving some kind of legacy for my children!).

The first tradition is Christmas caroling (combined with our treat deliveries) - which we already did this year. We listen to a kids Christmas carols CD constantly in the car, so the kids were well versed in their carols and then we sing just one song at each doorstep (because who really knows what to do when being caroled to? Hold open the door and smile? Invite them in? Sing along?). It started two years ago with Nathan just shaking jingle bells while mom and dad sang, but this year the kids really did sing (and shake bells, just because it's fun). Very fun, underdone tradition.

The second tradition is gingerbread house making. I wish I had some of the pictures to show you, but I remember making these with my family growing up, however it wasn't just houses - castles, teepees, you name it. They were grand creations. Last year was the first year we tried it in our family. *Warning - there is potentially a learning curve with this tradition! We use real homemade gingerbread (an alternative is graham crackers - sturdier and of more consistent size) and homemade frosting. Last year the gingerbread didn't turn out so great. This year, we got good tasting gingerbread, but had issues with the frosting. I put them in frosting tubes, so the kids could squirt it out easier, but their hot little hands made the frosting goopy. I also blundered by using margarine in the frosting. Crazy health nut - some things just need butter!!

But, that aside, we had a great time trying and snacking as we tried (*2nd Warning - this is not a low sugar activity for kids!). We invited some friends over (Spencer, Luke, and Benny + parental figures) to increase the housemaking fun. Matt and our friends' oldest child Spencer (with the help of his dad, big Spencer) got the only two standing houses. The rest of us opted for the just as comfortable, but with less complicated engineering, gingerbread teepees.
Carter with his gingerbread "teepee", complete with marshmallow snowman. I told him to smile, this is what I got! Notice the gobs of frosting all over his teepee - he was going to town until we noticed what he was up to!
Benny must have been taking notes on the fake smiles from Carter:
The group hard at work (no, the hubbies aren't doing ALL the work - I was taking pictures so you could see this, and Kristi was helping Luke make his teepee - but she conveniently sidestepped when I pulled out the camera (yes, I saw that!) - all you can see of her hard work is her finger showing Luke where to put stuff)

Luke with his great looking finished product. His is definitely a born engineer and took his building very seriously (and was understandably frustrated with the goopy frosting!) I love the look on Luke's face in this pic - doesn't he look just like little baby sis Lila?

Spencer with the best looking house of the bunch!

Nathan's teepee...notice that he has the most candy per square foot!!

Matt's house. He only stole a few minutes of time away from helping the kids to throw this together, which is a shame because if you have ever seen this guy build with legos you would know he would have been capable of a gingerbread mansion! Next year...

So, lessons learned and we had a blast. Thanks Kristi and Spencer for sharing our tradition with us. Next year we will have to find a bigger place to have you all over for a gingerbread building party!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let it S-N-O-W!

We have spent the last two years of our family life in sunny Florida, where they claim 350ish days of sunshine a year. The beach was literally down the street and, during the summer, we went twice or more times a week. Once you accepted the fact that sand would just be in every crevice of your body, car, house, and your children, it was fabulous.

However, variety is definitely meant to be a part of life and a wonderful cold front came in this weekend and snow with it. We were bummed we didn't have any snow on the ground by Sunday, but the boys thought it was magical Sunday morning when we showed them the flakes of snow coming down and insisted on throwing jackets and shoes on on top of pjs and going outside "in the snow". All they could figure to do with it was catch the snowflakes. Well, Nathan did - Carter just thought it was fun to run around with his tongue out!

We were thrilled this morning when we woke up to find an exciting two inches of snow on the ground. Carter has never seen it and Nathan only knows he has seen it before from videos of him playing in it at age two (see pic below), but doesn't remember it.

So, once we dug deep into our "haven't-used-it-since-living-in-Utah" winter clothes box for all the necessary coverage, we went out into the snow. These boys obviously had gained some sense of what to do in the snow because, as soon as I stepped out (they were in the backyard and had gone ahead of me) they grinned at each other, counted to three and then chucked two snowballs at me! Little stinkers! We used pretty much all the snow behind our town home to make our snowman. I have to tell you though - we never could get a good snowman going in Utah, but for some reason it was super easy here, just roll the little ball along and it picked up tons of snow and voila - a snowman! We were sad we didn't get to go sledding with daddy, as the snow melted very quickly, but maybe next time.

(Nathan was very upset we only had baby carrots for the nose and told me we needed to keep the big carrots around just in case! Still, I think our 10 minute snow man turned out pretty cute!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Impressions of ZUMBA: A Dumb Jock's Point of View

This is Matt writing. This is my first entry on this blog. Since Autumn has created this blog, nothing noteworthy enough to feel the urge to write about it has happened with me. Until tonight. If you don’t know already, Autumn teaches fitness classes part time at the YMCA. She specializes in ZUMBA – a high energy Latin dance fitness class. I finally had the chance to participate in her class tonight. She’s been on board about two months now, and I knew she was passionate about it, but I had no idea she was as good as she is! But before I get to how much I liked the class, not to mention her as a teacher, here are some initial impressions of ZUMBA:

- First of all, I love the music. Catchy rhythms, rich chords, and intricate piano cadences…just the type of stuff you want to get up and dance to! I especially liked the improvisational vibe solos, and the jazzy scales they were based on.
- Second, the foundation of how one moves in ZUMBA is similar to the foundation of one moves in basketball, which is something that I am much more familiar and comfortable with. This may be difficult to believe for some of you, but check this out. Both require a high degree of agility, or the ability to stay light on your feet. Both require the ability to know how to pivot, or moving up to a 360 degree circle without lifting up the foot in the radius of the circle. Both require the ability to squat down for extended periods of time, and shuffle the feet (i.e. playing defense in basketball). I honestly believe that ZUMBA is more similar to basketball than any other type of aerobics/dance/fitness class.
- ZUMBA is very low-impact. Great for the joints! That means you can prolong not having to drink nasty collagen lubricant when you get older! (I once taste-tested that stuff at Costco, and it tastes like motor oil!!!)
- ZUMBA is a great workout. It works all the muscle groups, and it is a great balance between cardiovascular consistency and intervallic muscle toning. The only muscle I didn’t work was my obliques, and according to the teacher, the only way you can work those well is if you really know how to shake your hips. Not my forte…yet. So you combine this with the fact that ZUMBA is fun, the time really flies and before you know it you have a cute little sweat ring on your shirt.

Autumn was spectacular. She is at the point where she is good enough to do the moves and add her spunky personality to them. Her enthusiasm for ZUMBA is very contagious. She interacts with people and cracks jokes, and she is the center of attention. When you walk in to a classroom full of people, and she’s teaching ZUMBA, you feel an immediate sense of energy and enthusiasm. How therapeutic is that! I think the main thing that influences all this, though, is the fact that she is smokin’ hot.

I wonder how my baller buddies would feel about me hanging up the bball shoes and converting to ZUMBA…

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time for a Sweet Tooth Extraction!

My dad is one of my heros. I would LOVE to inherit a lot of his attributes - his amazing patience, his ability to keep his cool (I can count on one hand the number of times I have heard him yell, and both times it involved me sassing my mom as a teenager), his abilty to be friendly to anyone with a heartbeat...However, though I will probably be striving for those attributes into the eternities, the one thing I inherited from my dad that is already well developed is a sweet tooth.

Now, I don't know how bad it is for my dad, but as far as my sweet tooth you need to know what I am talking about. Most of you who know my love for fitness might not even know or suspect this about me. But I don't have just a "having a hankering for sweets on the every few days" type sweet tooth. No, I mean that "I would literally be happy having sweets for every meal of the day as well as my two snacks" type sweet tooth. I love them. They hypnotize me into wanting them constantly, and of course not just one bite.

So, I am declairing war! I am afraid Nathan has inherited my sweet tooth gene and has become an unfortunate mini-me, wanting something sweet all day long. I know these types of resolutions don't usually come mid December, but it is something that is already over due. Carpe Diem - the time is now!

I have seen enough dieting to know that absolute removal of any one food group or making a food "forbidden" (da-da-don!) is not wise and can often lead to over indulgence. So, the new Michaelis family standard is that we will have sweets once a week (typically on Monday night for FHE treats), and on birthdays and holidays. Matt and Carter probably won't notice any difference, but if you see Nathan and I looking a little shaky or seeing just down right cranky, you will know it's just from chocolate withdrawls.

There is something suspiciously wrong with food that does nothing to satiate your hunger (as food is for), but only whets your appetite for MORE. So, for most of the week, I am boycotting it! And if goodies come our way, no problem - we will just freeze them until next FHE treat (my mom was the QUEEN of freezing - you can freeze almost anything). But, don't be offended if I turn sweets down or ask for them to go.

I am going public with this so I have to do it. Feel free to bug me about it, stare at me as I go through an appetizer/dessert line. Please do so I know YOU know of my resolve and our resolve as a family.

Now the real question is...is there a tooth fairy for extracted sweet tooths?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

They do like each other!

I don't know if this is just my lot in life as a mom, but I feel like all day long I am telling my kids to not fight with each other. Of course, I remember having a "contention chart" growing up to try to stop me and my siblings from fighting with each other (okay, mostly ME and my sister from fighting with each other). We all turned out okay and now I am closer to my sister than anyone in my family. But, how to manage the madness from here (the squabbiling all day) to there (when they grow up and realize mom was right and they ARE each other's best friend)? I would love any ideas and tips you guys have on how to manage the fighting madness. Until then, I am posting these pictures of the two boys being oh-so-cute and, for a brief moment, are the best of friends.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Unfamily Family Day

As some of you know, this Thanksgiving was both fun and sad as the boys and I got to head home for my annual family gathering, but at the tough cost of leaving Matt here. Matt can't use his vacation for the first 6 months, so in order to make an appearance and see my family, we had to go without him. I know, my husband is on his way to sainthood for spending the holidays alone (however, he was well taken care of here - thanks Kari!). But, we always take family pictures over the Thanksgiving break, so I thought I would introduce those of you who haven't meet them to my fam! My sister is standing next to me (holding Luke), and then my two brothers are on the ends with their wives and daughters. As you can tell, Nathan and all his boy cousins on the front row and thrilled about this picture taking process! It was great to spend time with my family and Nathan loved having fellow star wars jedi to play with him. Thanks again Mom and Dad!

A Belated Oregon Fall

I know we are well on our way into winter, but I snoozed on my blogging lately and missed sharing this great shot of our Oregon Fall. Who doesn't love fall with all it's beautiful colors and just cool enough weather? We hadn't seen one in two years (palm trees don't change color...), so we were extra excited for this one. This is a more aerial view of where we live from a road just up the street. Just gorgeous!