Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Joy!

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the more meaningful Christmas Eve lesson, but a plethora of the more superficial present opening on Christmas morning! But, Christmas Eve mom and dad were doing a very energetic song and dance to try to keep the troops on the same page and the mood spiritual and Christ-centered.

During a pre-Christmas FHE we had played a giving game, where you put anything into a gift bag and then the giver has to remember to do three things - 1. Say thank you, 2. Say something they like about the present (even if it is dog food or something you really don't want!), and 3. Give them a hug. We reminded them of this on Christmas morning and execution was far from complete, but it helped.
Christmas morning, as always Luke woke up first a little before 7, then we all sat around waiting for Nathan and Carter to wake up. They finally came down and we made them wait a little until everything was all ready.

Here are the boys in present anticipation, enduring a picture in front of the tree:

We had them exchange gifts to each other first, since they were only from the Dollar Store and knew they would be overshadowed by the bigger gifts. One of the sweetest moments was this brotherly "thank you" hug. It may not happen much in later years, but I sure love it now!

Carter was adorable when he not only helped Luke open his gift from him, but then proceeded to try to sell him on how great it really was. Maybe a future salesman in that one...!

The presents were purposely minimal, but the boys had a great time. I loved it when the boys got their last presents and wondered how Santa "knew" what they wanted for Christmas, when they had changed their minds since they told him on his lap. Christmas magic!

Here the boys are "helping" Luke open his presents. Luke really wasn't too interested in opening them himself, so this worked out just fine.
Luke trying to figure out how all this works:

Hello? Oh, not only does this phone talk, but in three languages. Nathan was very excited it talked in spanish - as he just learned how to count to 10 in Spanish. Matt was excited it speaks French. Luke just liked that it barked like a dog!

Nathan's world - building (legos and k'nex), projects (art), and books.

The joy of Carter's morning - a microphone "that works". He had one that died, the battery connections rusted. So, I searched high and low for this microphone and it was well worth it! He got such joy out of it. His favorite feature? A voice recorder that he could record and then play back his own voice.

The rest of the day was probably the most relaxing day Matt and I had have had all year long. We literally stayed in our PJs all day long, and put aside all the computer stuff, projects, cleaning, everything and just sat in the same room and played and enjoyed being a family. We had bought a used Wii from Matt's sister earlier in the year and it has been a really fun source of family play time. Here is Carter just jumping and punching his little heart out in the boxing game:

It was really wonderful. Dinner was simple, but very appreciated - Nathan said, "Mom this is the best dinner ever!", followed by, "Mom, this is the best day ever!"

So well put. Hope yours was filled with smiles and simple joys!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December - The Cliff Notes Version

I finally loaded my new camera's software onto the computer to be able to FINALLY blog about the last month. But, since it's the holidays and I also had a new camera to play with I had over a hundred pictures to sort through and try to minimize into one blog. So, I am going to keep it conscise and make this the "cliff notes" or "readers digest" version of the last couple of weeks, before Christmas hits tomorrow and I have tons more to blog about!

First, the non Christmas, funny life happenings. Luke is turning into such a little ham. He keeps us laughing, even in our most frustrating moments and we love him for that. We were having leftover birthday cake for FHE one night and he didn't even wait for the fork I was getting - he just dived right in! I miss the youthful lack of inhibitions!

However, he also keeps us hopping as he has been our best climber yet. His latest trick is to use props to help him climb to new heights. He loves finding any kind of box, turning it over and putting it next to the sink to be able to play with our spraying water faucet. Or, to climb up to the top bunkbed in his brothers room - defeating the whole purpose of Matt and I chosing not to use a ladder (to discourage little ones from climbing up high). Crazy kid!

We recently adopted two new pets - two guinea pigs. Matt and I both agree that we wouldn't have bought this type of pet on our own, but his boss was getting rid of them, complete with all the cages and food/supplies. So, within hours we said, "Why not?" and now own two guniea pigs. Boys, of course, because we don't seem to do girls in this household. I like them because they live in a cage and don't smell too much and the boys like them because they are a lot more interactive than fish. But, I would have to say Luke wins hands down for absolute fascination with them.

The boys and I have had to change our daily dynamic as winter has settled in and playing outside isn't as much as an option. I treasure the mornings when the boys (Nathan and Carter) play great by themselves. One such morning, I found them like this, reading to their stuffed animal "pets". I will miss this sweet innocence!

Carter has taken a big liking to helping in the kitchen, picking his favorite counter spot to help add ingredients.

Carter is also apparently preparing for a life of fame, already practicing on creative ways to dodge the papparazzi. Lately, when I try to take a picture of him, I often get this:

Finally, Christmas. We set up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. And since ours is an oh-so-natural tree from a box, the boys got to have fun helping dad "assemble" the tree. Of course, then they just had fun with the box (I do have lots of boxes in my garage - can I just use those for Christmas presents?)!

We had a great ward Christmas party, with everything from a full nice dinner to a play/program, to wandering carolers, to a kids craft, and a gingerbread contest. Everyone did well with Santa this year, though Carter started crying as we left - apparently he had gotten so excited about his upcoming treat bag he forgot to tell santa what he wanted. We had to excuse ourselves as he ran back to make sure he got that in.

The boys one morning pulled out the sleigh and Carter was "Santa" and Nathan was the reindeer. You can't see it in the pictures, but Nathan even made Carter take his belt off to use as a "whip" to make Nathan "go". After we had fun making one of many Christmas projects - a fun one that uses the child's foot for the reindeer face and hands for the horns. It will be fun to keep these for when their hands are much much bigger!

We have other undocumented Christmas activities that have added to the holiday season. We did our annual Christmas caroling and treat drop off early in the month. Two of the three kids even sang this year! Then we made a great gingerbread house in a box while dad was out of town, but I pulled a trick my mom used and hid it in the oven the next morning when candy was all Luke wanted for breakfast...and, you guessed it, forgot it was in there and later melted it onto the bottom of my oven. Fire alarm number 2 for the holiday season! Not improving my reputation any time soon...

Finally, here are just some plain old, "Aren't my kids so cute?" pictures.

Hope your holidays are merry and bright!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Own Turkey Day

For the first time since Matt and I started dating in 2001, we had a Thanksgiving in our own home, without traveling to family. Though we love seeing our families and enjoy spending the holidays with them, we were also excited to try out some of our own family traditions this year in our first ever at-home Thanksgiving.

The morning started out with the fire alarm blaring. Not an auspicious start, but not totally my fault! I had a friend recommend a turkey recipe and then they also told me they always cooked their turkey in an oven bag. So, I prepped the turkey, bagged it, and put it in the oven. Didn't realize that the oven bag wasn't supposed to be under temperatures over 400 degrees, which my recipe called for. It started burning and smoked up the whole downstairs. I really hoped that no neighbors would walk by and stare as we aired out our thanksgiving cooking mistake! I almost cried, so anxious to have a successful dinner, but we made it though okay once I ditched the oven bag.

Despite the rocky start, we had a good morning. As good Americans, we introduced our kids to the Macy's parade and this was probably the first time they had any interest in it, recognizing characters in the parade. Then they had fun with a variety of Thanksgiving crafts ("projects" are definitely Nathan's current fetish!), including these fun little toilet paper roll pilgram and indians. Gotta love for continual supply of craft ideas!

Then dad took the kids outside to get some energy out on bikes while we had a special guest come over for a visit. After a little "preparation" I rushed outside and told the kids they had just missed a special guest - Terry the turkey! He had brought surprises for them but got so scared when he saw the turkey in the oven that I had to chase him all over the house for them before he disappeared. Good thing he left a trail of feathers for us to follow to find where he left their surprises (wink wink ; ). So, we went on a turkey treasure hunt. Matt laughed when he realized that I purposely alternated hiding the clues between upstairs and downstairs. Hey got to get their energy out somehow! They loved it and I think it will be a tradition for years to come.

The boys played the Wii while I put the finishing touches on dinner and then we had our feast! It consisted of our scrumptious turkey, mom's amazing crescent rolls, stuffing (stovetop - nothing but the box stuff for my honey), mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. We couldn't wait and everything couldn't have turned out more tasty! I was very nervous about cooking my first large piece of meat EVER, but thanks to a great brine recipe from local friends it was the most amazing turkey I have ever had. It even pulled a "wow" out of Matt, who is not a turkey eater.

We followed stuffing ourselves with a family movie (Spiderwick Chronicles - if your kids aren't scared by realistic goblins and mythical types, it's very well done!) and then called it a successful family day. Hope you all had great turkey days!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are you due any day now?

Yes, it's true. I, at week 21 of my 40 week pregnancy, was asked by my first unsuspecting person if my due date was on the near horizon. The funny thing is they always ask with such confidence, as if I just have to be at my size of belly. I didn't even feel like shaming the poor guy with the knowledge that this is only half way through! So, no, not any day now. People have been asking for a belly shot, which I have forgotten to take for a lot of my pregnancies, so I will try to do one a month for this guy. Here is me at month five:

Now, come on folks, do I really look like I am due any day now? I do get pretty big (sticking out like a watermelon shape wise) towards the end, but don't have any pictures to know if this is as big as normal. My YW told me I look like I have an alien belly sometimes (from the mouth of babes, right?), which I just attribute to my lovely umbillical hernia that came with baby no. 1. No, not dangerous or painful (and no aliens either!), just gives my belly a strange pointed shape.

Among other random Michaelis happenings - Matt was volunteering at a recycling roundup the other weekend and came home with a slide. No, we don't have a back yard. No, we don't even have the wooden or plastic steps leading up the the slide. Just the 6+ feet of plastic slide. I of course was not excited, but Matt saw the potential and the boys love using it to get their energy out in the house when the weather is bad. Here is a video clip of Lukie doing a more ambitious stunt on it:

The boys love to dress up, as I said before. One day Carter wore this hat all day long. I thought he just looked handsome in it and made him pose for some pictures.

Thanks Grandma Heidi for the fun hat additions to our dress-up collection!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lost and Found

It's been a rough week, to say the least. I have lost some things that were emotionally very hard for me to lose, though in an effort to not be ungrateful or selfish, I am going to counter balance my whining with a does of gratitude. A spoonful of sugar right?

LOST: We will start backwards. Two days ago, I lost my wedding ring diamond. Yup, my solitare is totally gone. Three of the prongs totally broke off in an unknown event and at one point I was playing with my ring (which I do throughout the day subconsciously) and noticed it felt very different. That's because there was a big HOLE where the diamond should be. Now any of you who have seen my ring will know that this is not the size of diamond that would be easily noticed on the ground, it's definitely modest, possibly mistaken for a large piece of lint. I have been looking on the carpet and in the car, but no luck. I never wanted to ever change my wedding ring, never wanted to "upgrade" in my older years - I always wanted it to be the exact ring that we started out with in our humble beginnings. Not quite sure what we will do with this one...For now I am ringless, but I am sure the three kids and big belly are enough to assure anyone I am "taken"!

FOUND: My love for my husband is unmeasureable by any ring or token. He always teases me about movie stars or guys that pass by, asking if I think they are cute. I can honestly say I am not even tempted. Ever. Never had a crush on a movie star. I have the hottest, greatest man already. My looking is done!

LOST: In October we were very excited to take our first family professional pictures out in a gorgeous nearby park. The kids were a handful, but the photographer was great and the fall leaves were stunning. I adore pictures, decorate my house with them and could not WAIT until I got my pictures. Finally, 5 weeks after the shoot I got my package from the photographer only to find out that her harddrive crashed and she lost all but three of my pictures. I cried (granted I am hormonal with pregnancy, but it was sad nonetheless). She did everything right to make amends, but this is one lost thing that will not be coming back.

FOUND: Three heathly handsome boys that are just too cute for words, and apparently someone's harddrive!

LOST: My dreams of having this baby finally be a girl baby. Yup, we had our ultrasound on Tuesday and we are now expecting boy number four. I sulked for slightly longer than the last time and am still occasionally trying to get over myself. My mom asked if they were "sure" about it being a boy. Well, I didn't think it appropriate to post the "flagpole" (as the technician called it) picture, but, yes, we are pretty darn sure.

FOUND: A wiggly, healthy wonderful little spirit whose body is growing inside of me. Babies are still amazing miracles and we are grateful for this little guy. We might have to think a little harder for another great boy name, but we are still thankful, especially for his apparent health. He was actually the wiggliest baby the technician had ever seen - she was chasing him all over the place and we even have to go back again to try to get a few things he wouldn't hold still for. Sounds like he will give his brothers a run for their money!

Hope you are all finding joy and things to be thankful for in this holiday season as well!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Missing Link

So my brother questioned Matt's choice as a ewok (who are traditionally the size of my children) for halloween, versus a wookie (who are at least 6 feet, which Matt is). That thought had occured to us too. Truthfully, he started out as a wookie, then we just had the hillarious thought (or funny to us at least) that it would be funny to have Matt be an obviously oversized ewok. I guess not everyone got the joke.

However, one of Matt's friends posted this comment on his facebook page that makes the connection for us all:

"That's freakin hilarious, you're like the missing link between ewoks and wookies: ewooks or something."

So, really, Matt was a ewook for halloween.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Madness!

WARNING: It's been a busy week - long post to ensue!
I am always just tingling with excitement when October finally hits and I can start putting some of my creative and mom energy into holiday celebration. We picked our costumes at the beginning of the month and figured I had plenty of time to put them all together.

Well, lets just say a week before Halloween, those store bought costumes (though seemingly outrageously overpriced in my book) were looking very appealing. I LOVE doing family themes, and will continue to do so as long as my kids let me (which will probably only be a few more years). Nathan was all set early, I had religiously hit craigslist and we had scored a great $5 darth vador costume. Check. Carter we started out with me making a jedi costume, but I had a hard time finding a good pattern, ended up winging it on making the costume, patternless (which I do often), but only ending up frustrated. So, we both happily settled on the less impressive, but less complicated storm trooper costume from the DI. Downloaded, printed, and laminated a mask for him and he was done.

That left Luke, Matt and myself. Luke was the one I was tempted to buy - a yoda costume. But, I finally dove in the morning of a good friend's kid halloween party (realizing at 8 a.m. that this was probably a COSTUME party! Ha!), and had that done in a few hours. It needed some adjustments between the party and Halloween, but in the end I was glad I put my scraps to work and didn't buy the store bought. I thought mine was cuter!

Here are some pictures from the fun party our local party queen Kari put on for the kiddos:

Nathan, his friend Spencer (aka Indiana Jones), and Luke doing a craft
We've all probably done the "use toilet paper to turn someone into a mummy" game, but I have never seen kids do it, and it was so great! Here is my cute little mummy. Plus, as a bonus, the kids loved playing in the toilet paper afterwards, dancing with it to halloween music.

I finally figured out how to do video clips! Yay! Here is the mummy game in live action:

On with the Halloween madness! Thursday I took Carter and Luke to meet up with Nathan at his first field trip - to the pumpkin patch! It was our local one, just up the street, which we hadn't been to yet, so it was fun. The kids loved the hayride, getting to pick out not just a pumpkin but a gourd, feeding the animals (who definitely had Luke captivated), and playing in the playground and haunted maze.

Nathan proudly showing off his "perfect" pumpkin:

Nathan on the hayride with two of his best buds, Mia and Aiden.
Carter loved this horse-shaped tire swing!

Nathan bravely feeding the goats

I thought this pumpkin snowman was awesome. No, Carter doesn't too...he just got a piece of candy and is doing a happy candy dance = ).
Friday I helped out at Nathan's classroom Halloween party and then watched the kids do their little Halloween parade. I had to laugh as at least half of all the boys were star wars themed - I had no idea it was the "thing" to be! Nathan just wanted to be Darth since last year, and we followed suit as a family.

The rest of Friday was spent madly getting Matt and I's costumes ready. I made both of them that day. Maybe procrastination exasterbated the halloween "madness" just a little! Let's just say I used my sewing machine more this week than the whole rest of the year...and am very happy to put it away, maybe until next halloween!

Here's our couple pic and let's see if you can guess who we are (again, think Star Wars):

Here is who we are modeled after (Queen Amidala - Luke and Leahs mother, and an ewok)

In the end, I had a lot of fun with my costume. I think all the girliness in my combined and enjoyed this princess costume. And, man, was I the envy of the 8 year old girls out trick or treating = ). They seemed to appreciate the costume the most, complete with "ooh"'s and "wow!"s. Though, I did have a man tell me that I was the best adult costume he had seen that year, which I appreciated. So, in the end the creative process was fun and worth it (though my husband might still be recovering...).

Finally, here are some pictures from our ward trunk or treat and the whole star wars gang together. Hope you had just as happy of a halloween as we did!

I love my little Yoda! Of course, he was the only one without a mask...masks sure do hide cute kiddos faces!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Manna From Heaven!

Amazing but true, just when I was threatening to buy a new camera this week, the video camera turned on and gave me back my pumpkin patch pictures. Again, the quality isn't the best, hence still probably the need for a new photo camera soon, but I will take what I can get and am glad I get to share these with you!

One thing I LOVE about the holiday season that it's so easy to do fun family activities (and hence take cute family photos!)

Two weeks ago we headed to the pumpkin patch, one in the nearby city of Talent. They have the pumpkins, a huge giant hay pile to play in, a big and small corn maze, a kids craft, and then some things you can pay to do (pony rides, pumkin launching, etc.). We went last year and loved it and had to hit it again.

We started by hitting the pumkin patch and picking out our jack-o-laterns to be. (Last year we tried to save this for an end climax to the pumpkin patch and only met with anxious "Is it time to get our pumkins yet?" the whole time. So we learned and hit that first!). Each kid got to pick out their own, though Carter and Nathan helped Luke, as Luke was only interested in driving the wheelbarrow. Here are the boys with their selections (and Lukie with the wheelbarrow...):

Then they had fun doing the kids craft. I love how, no matter how simple, kids love a "project". This one was just a piece of paper with eyes and a mouth, white streamers and a few stickers = voila! a ghost wind sock. These ghosts are proudly hanging on our front porch now.
Next it was time to play with the hay. This is always a highlight for the kids, though we have to police them from throwing hay at each other too much (or, worse, unsuspecting unknown kids who want nothing to do with this hay fight). Luke especially got the giggles out of this hay mess, though he always seems to crack himself up. The little boy with our boys in these pictures is a friend Isaac, whom Nathan and Carter boy love to play with and whom we met up with at the pumpkin patch.

There are times in life when you realize how sadly sheltered your suburbia children are, and this Saturday was one of those when Luke would not be pulled from the chickens (they were the first live ones he had ever seen) and then the boys were just amazed by a REAL sunflower that was as big as their heads!

Finally the boys played in the little photo area where I snapped this cute shot of the two brothers (well, the two brothers that will hold still for a picture!) and then the boys got to play on the real tractor, which we had to DRAG Carter away from! But, of course, my camera had died by then...