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!