Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. I've always felt like I didn't really have any goals that needed to be dragged out over an entire year. But I think my feelings on the subject have changed. I'd like to make a few goals to keep up for an entire year. I feel like in my life with these wonderful little kids, it's too easy to just let time pass. To just be thankful that I made it alive through that one day and then wake up and do it again the next day. I should be working on more than just living life. I should be working on living life better.

I've seen on some blogs that they choose a "Word of the Year" or something like that. A theme for the year, basically, summed up into one word. So I've decided to keep my individual New Year's Resolutions to myself, but to share with you my Word of the Year.

Increase

Pretty vague, I know. But the idea is that that one word will remind me of all my individual resolutions in all their different areas - to increase my spirituality, physical strengths, mothering skills, wifely duties, and cleanliness.

So welcome to my Year of Increase! Let the increase begin!

*As "bonus reading", this talk may help you understand what I am thinking when I say "increase".

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Silhouettes with my new Cricut

Richard and I have been having so much fun playing with our new Cricut. To use the Cricut you have to have special cartridges that are kinda like memory cards with certain images on each one. If you want some new image, you have to buy a new cartridge - which cost somewhere in the $80 each department. So rather than invest all kinds of money into cartridges, my computer-savvy hubby bought me a computer software that can turn any image into a basic shape that the Cricut can cut out. So now we never have to buy the expensive cartridges!

One of my first thoughts when Richard explained how the software works was "silhouettes!". I've wanted silhouettes of the kids for a long time. I even know where I'll hang them. But it's a lot of work to do it all by hand. Yesterday for Family Home Evening we took profile pics of the kids and then as soon as those kids were in bed, we got to work. It turned out that the software (which, by the way, is called Sure Cuts Alot 2) couldn't quite handle all the work by itself. So it turned into a collaborative effort between Richard on his computer using Photoshop and me on my computer using Sure Cuts Alot. In the end it worked!!!! It took so long that we only got one done last night, but look!

That's my little Asher's silhouette! Look at his cute little nose and chin. I just love it! I can't wait to do the other kids' and get them framed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day

Naomi with her fancy new doll.
Isaiah playing golf with his new baseball bat from Uncle Josh
Me displaying part of my take - including a Cricut!
And, since this blog is all about me, check out my favoritest present of all! New speakers for my MP3 player or laptop. I told Richard I wanted a tiny speaker that could sit on the kitchen counter and make just enough sound for me to hear it while I cook or clean.... He got me apples. That's right. Those two apples in the fruit bowl? They're speakers! Isn't that awesome! It's perfect!
Elefun!
Naomi and Isaiah playing with Asher's present that he has no interest in whatsoever - a car mat.
Naomi beats Daddy at Guess Who with Asher watches.
It was a great day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Magic of Snow

It started snowing last Friday. We stayed in/near our house all of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday we only made one quick trip out each day. Usually under those circumstances the kids would be going absolutely insane - and me with them. But the magic of the snow really did it's thing. The kids played together so well! They actually played together. I mean TOGETHER - not just near each other or in the same room or fighting. They played together. All three of them would disappear upstairs for an hour or so at a time. It was seriously magical. I just keep saying the same thing over and over because I don't think you guys are quite comprehending how magical it was. In fact, I got swept up in the magic, too. I played with the kids and did crafts with them and lay around watching movies with them, and baked fun treats for them. I didn't wrap presents or worry about the house being too clean or plan this or that. So, because I was swept up in the magic too, I have a lot to do today. Not tons or anything, but enough to keep me busy until tonight when we head to Richard's parent's house for the evening festivities.

But the problem is, that the magic seems to have worn off the kids finally. They are fighting and bickering and taking toys away from each other in endless circles today. And it's hard to make pies and dip chocolates and plan Nativity costumes when I have to stop every three seconds to break up a fight or mediate some dispute.

But I suppose I should just be thankful for the five days of magic that I got. And that tomorrow they'll all have new toys to keep them busy and happy.

Wishing You


Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Killing Time

How to keep the kids happy when you're unexpectedly kept at home for the entire weekend?

Bake cookies
Decorate cookies

Eat cookies

Decorate paper Christmas trees


Make pretzel wreaths

Play in the snow

Watch Christmas shows from TV
Dig toys out of the basement
Fold laundry
Dip pretzels in chocolate
Eat chocolate dipped pretzels
Have friends over for dinner since they don't live too far away
Have a head stand contest
Chase your siblings in never-ending circles while yelling (oh wait, that's just for Asher to do)
Dress up your brothers in Princess outfits (oh wait, that's just for Naomi to do)
Play quietly while your siblings play outside (Oh wait, that's just for Isaiah to do)

The kids have really done amazingly well the last couple days considering that they've been stuck at home. Tomorrow we may brave the roads for a playdate with church friends. I made a trip out to Costco today for milk and such and the main roads were clear, and the parking lots were clear - but all the little roads inbetween main roads and parking lots were complete disasters. It's a miracle I didn't get stuck. My wheels were spinning and griding in several places and I really thought I was stuck for a few minutes - but luckily I made it out. I never heard an official total of how much snow we got, but I'd guess something like 14 inches.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowy Weekend



No snow-play is complete without coming in to hot cocoa!
(These pictures were taken at 10 this morning -it hasn't stopped since.)
It's a serious blizzard here. But, like a good blizzard, it didn't start until everyone was snug in their houses Friday night. But since it started that evening it hasn't let up one bit. The back door has a snow drift several feet deep. Our cars have vanished. In fact, it's so bad that they already canceled school for this coming Monday and Tuesday! That means our winter break from school has already started!

Luckily, we really didn't have any big plans today. Just some playing and baking. The snow will put a serious damper on the delivering of all the treats I had planned to bake, so I scaled way back. I'm kinda wishing I could let the kids open a present early or something to keep them busy, but I think opening that can of worms wouldn't work out well in the end. Bad precedent, ya know?

On an unrelated note, look at these adorable scarves that I made for each member of the family. They were waiting for the kids in their stockings this morning. They're just fleece leftover from a no-sew blanket that I made for Isaiah for Christmas. Then I stitched a fleece monogram onto each one just using a quick-and-dirty stitch. The big plan was to wear them to the ward Christmas party tonight, but that's since been canceled.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Spirit



My Mommy was in town this past weekend. We made a gingerbread house, drove around D.C., Christmas shopped, lunched, sat and talked, drove around endlessly, saw the lights and sights, heard beautiful music praising our Lord, etc. It was a wonderful weekend that truly felt holiday-ey.

And now that it's over and my house is all clean, and my presents are all bought, and my stress is all over, I can focus on the true spirit of Christmas. Giving of time and talents and special feelings of love to friends and family. Tonight our Young Women's and Young Men's groups have a big joint service project that I'm helping out with. I just bought supplies to fill gift boxes for our troops overseas. I baked dozens of cookies - only a dozen or so of which I am keeping. And I did it all with my Pandora station "Country Christmas" playing in the background. I am feeling the love.

I am so glad that this is how my Christmas season has worked out. I dislike it when Christmas gets so busy that there's no time for the really important stuff. Or even when I make the time, but it's hard to remember that I want to do these things because it's stressful. Between all the traditions and fun and commitments and even spiritual things, sometimes there just isn't much time left to follow my heart in the direction it wants to go to honor the wonderful gift that is the birth of my Savior.

I am thankful that this year I have the time to breathe and ponder and follow my heart. I am thankful that I have the means and strength and desire to serve my fellow man.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quote Of The Day

The quote of the day today comes from 3 year old Asher. Just after waking up this morning he said:

"There are people marching inside my arm and they're trying to get out!"

Translation: His arm was asleep.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wii fun

Things to know before watching the video:

The game is cow racing - you hold the Wii-mote sideways and tilt it to steer your cow around the curves, move the Wii-mote up suddenly to jump over obstacles, and purposefully hit other things for points

Naomi's cow is on the top half of the screen, Asher's cow is on the bottom half

Isaiah thinks he's playing, but he's not

Watch the bottom of the screen to see that Asher is making his cow just jump, jump, jump. Not a good strategy if you're trying to win the cow race, but very good if you think it's hysterical to see a cow jump repeatedly.


video

Self Realization

Lately I've been thinking about myself a lot. Not in a selfish way, but in a self-exploring way. I've realized that I worry quite a bit about other peoples thoughts and feelings. I go out of my way to make things easier for other people. I'm always willing to fill in or help out or do extra when I can. Maybe "worry" isn't the right word. It's not like I'm loosing sleep over other people's feelings - I just am always aware of others and how whatever is effecting them.

I know that to most people this trait of mine looks pretty good. I come across as a caring, thoughtful person. But I think the problem is when I sometimes expect others to be thinking like I am. I expect Richard to (hypothetically) see the garbage cans outside and think, "I'll take those into the garage now because I know that will make Nancy happy." But really he's thinking about work or what he's going to do when he walks inside or, heck, I don't know, humming his favorite song to himself. And that's OK! He doesn't need to be thinking about how to please me at that moment. But sometimes when I (hypothetically) see him walk past the garbage cans without even giving them a second glance, I think to myself, "Ugh! How can he just walk right past those garbage cans without even thinking about taking care of them!" Or I think, "How could that person at church just leave when we're all cleaning up?" Or, "Why did that man just walk right in front of my cart loaded down with three kids and 100 pounds of groceries? He should know that it's nearly impossible for me to stop!" Poor guy. There's no way he could know how hard it is for me to stop my cart. He's never pushed a cart with 100+ pounds of kids plus groceries.

My expectations are too high. That's where the selfishness comes in - in my expectations of reciprocation.

Also, this traits of mine turns into micro-managing sometimes. Because I feel like I see what needs to be done better or clearer than others.

So I think that the conclusion to this self realization is that I need to keep up the thoughtfulness for others, but stop expecting people to give it back in exactly the same manner. I need to see that eventually Richard does take the garbage cans in (hypothetically), and the person at church has a nursing infant that she's running home to(hypothetically), and the guy in the grocery store did say "excuse me" and I'm sure he felt bad for walking in front of me and maybe he won't do it next time (not hypothetically). I need to see that just because nobody was thinking of me and how something-er-other would effect me, doesn't mean that nobody loves me. It doesn't mean that there was any maliciousness in that act of omission.

I'm not sure this is really coming across right in writing. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, or knock myself down or get compliments. I'm just noticing something about myself. And now that I've noticed it I am figuring out whats good about it and whats bad about it. So that I can continue to become a better person like Heavenly Father has asked me to.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

And Since There's No Place To Go

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!!!
And snowing it is. A lot. The weather forecast said it wasn't going to start until after 1pm today and that it wouldn't be that big. Boy were they wrong! We had to postpone our planned 10am Christmas tree getting trip because the roads were already covered. Instead we went sledding!

The kids had so much fun! Naomi and Asher are both old enough this year to haul their sleds back up the hill all by themselves so that's a lot of fun. Isaiah can't quite drag the sled behind him on the way back up, but at least he can walk up the hill unassisted. (Last year Richard or I had to drag Asher and Isaiah up and down the hill)

So that's what we're up to today. Playing, watching Frosty the Snowman, drinking cocoa, and later Richard and I are going to his fancy work party. Below is Naomi and Isaiah doing a picture search/Where's Santa type thingy. What a fun Saturday!

What are you up to today?

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Elmo All Over Again

Think back a few years to when Tickle Me Elmo was new and everybody wanted it for Christmas. It was before I had kids, so I wasn't a part of the rush at all, but I heard about it plenty. It was chaos! It's a pop-culture reference now! I imagine that toy makers have been trying for that kind of a release ever since then.

And I think maybe I came across it. But the trouble is, that I didn't know it was Tickle Me Elmo all over again until after I had passed the toy up several times.

Probably any mother who has walked through the toy aisle at Target with a son in the last few months knows what I'm talking about. There's this huge dinosaur on display that walks and roars and rears up on his hind legs. I think he's like 3 feet tall. And he costs more than $100. The dino I'm after is that big guys "little brother". Spike Jr. I've passed Spike Jr in the toy aisle multiple times, each time thinking "I am definitely getting that for Asher for Christmas."

So yesterday I started my Christmas shopping on Amazon. There was Spike Jr for $19.99. Great! Even cheaper than in the stores! So I put it in my "cart" and kept shopping. I went back after naptime to actually buy the stuff in my cart - and Spike Jr had jumped in price to $39.99!!! That's friggin' double! Well, fine, I thought. I'll get it somewhere else. Wal-Mart had it listed as $18.99 online. But they were out. Target had it listed for $21.99, but they were out. Grrrrr!

So today I went to Target and Wal-Mart in person to see if they have it. Nope.

So I came home in shame and hung my head while I ordered stupid Spike Jr. from Amazon for $39.99. Because obviously it's in low supply after such a great sale. *sigh*

He better friggin' LOVE that dinosaur. He better play with it until he's like 25. It better be the best Christmas present he ever gets!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Advent Calendar

I made this last year, but I didn't get it finished until after Christmas. So this is actually our first year using it. It's an advent calendar made out of a mini-muffin tin! How clever is that! (I can say that since it wasn't my original idea.)

This morning the kids were so excited to get to peak into square one and see what was inside. Today was candy, but we'll also do bigger prizes like coloring books or making cookies with Mom. For those ones I plan on putting a piece of paper into the muffin tin that will either describe the activity or tell them where to find the hidden prize.

Each muffin space has a piece of magnet over it. The kind you can buy in a big sheet (like 8 1/2 x 11 maybe) that rolls up and it's sticky on one side. I cut the magnet sheet into the right size squares. Then cut scrapbook paper squares the same size. After that it's as easy as embellishing each one. Scrapbook paper, embellishments, stickers, jewels, etc. When you're done embellishing, you peel the paper backing off the magnetic square and put your paper on. Number them 1 through 24. I didn't use any pattern, but some of the ladies I did this with did and it looked very cute that way, too. (I hope this explanation makes sense.... I tend to babble.)



This picture below seems kinda lame, but it's a shot of the back of one of my squares. So you can see that the entire back of each square is magnet.



I am not a perfectionist. This becomes especially clear when I do crafts like this. Each of my squares is not precisely the same size. I think it would look better if they were. They would all line up better. But this works. And I still think it looks great.

It's important to recognize that kind of thing in yourself I think. I'm not a perfectionist. But I'm OK. Nobody died because I didn't do this perfectly.

I'm adding this to Today's Creative Blog's Get Your Craft On Tuesday. I love Tuesday's!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Tree

I've always wanted to do a huge "Thanksgiving Tree" like this, but I just never get around to it. Until this year! I found a big roll of brown paper at the craft store and away I went! After Thanksgiving I plan to take down the leaves and put all our Christmas cards on the tree for display. The pictures from the cards will make it kind of like a family tree!

Here's Naomi adding a family of squirrels to our tree:
And here's the kids helping to add the leaves after we had written things we're thankful for on each leaf. (The hardest part of this project was cutting out all the leaves. Man do I wish I had a Cricut!)
Here's a close up on some of Naomi's squirrels.
We are very, very thankful this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, Ya'll!
For more about our actual Thanksgiving Day activities, check out my SIL Chelsea's blog. We spent a lovely four days with them at their house near Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanks for Isaiah

I think of Isaiah as my baby still. I want to cuddle him and squeeze him and rock him. I want to protect him from everything. I want him to lay around making sweet noises and playing with his toes. And sometimes he obliges me since he's such a sweetheart, but really he is so grown up (the whole not talking thing throws other people off, too).

He is starting to role-play with his toys. It's especially fun since all he can really have them say is, "Mama? Dada. Uh uh uh. No! Mama." over and over in new combinations. It actually really throws me off. I'm constantly answering, "What?" to his "Mama" in his play. But it also makes my heart skip a beat in sadness to be reminded that he should be speaking so much more than he is. And in joy to be reminded how far he's come in the past few months.

Isaiah loves dogs. I mean he really, really, really loves dogs. Stuffed ones, TV ones, or real ones. He's not afraid of them in person. He'll walk right up and pet them and let them lick him with no qualms at all. He loves to play at his friends house who has a dog.

And, yes, we still call him Poochy. I think we'll call him that until he can ask us to stop ... Too bad for him that his speech is delayed so that time might be a ways off.
Isaiah has a sweet, loving soul. He has compassion. He melts hearts wherever he goes. When his toddler-hood gets the best of him and he does something naughty like hit or throw, he's always quick to apologize and give hugs and kisses. He lets me squeeze him in a long hug. He only giggles and then squirms a little when I kiss him repeatedly - he never tries to escape. He still lets me cuddle him for a good 10 minutes after naptime most days. If I need a hug at some random point in the day, all I have to do is squat down and open my arms and Isaiah will come zooming into my arms for a big bear hug.

My baby still actually naps at naptime. He's 2 1/2 so I know that can't last much longer, but for now I'm soaking up every minute of that peace. And he still hasn't tried to climb out of his crib.

Isaiah's speech therapy is going really well. He comes out of each appointment more vocal than he went in. He has added "wo mo" to his vocabulary (that's "one more" for all you non-Poochy-speakers). Now we're working diligently on "up". He can say "uh" easily, and he can say "pa" easily, but we can't get him to combine the two sounds to say "up". But he tries so hard! It's so amazing to see how much more world is opened up to him each time he learns a new word or phrase.

Isaiah's laugh is unbelievable. It's explosive. It's free and loud. And sometimes unstoppable. I love it so much.

Isaiah is the perfect middle ground between Naomi and Asher. He wants to be obedient like Naomi, but he has a sneaky little naughty streak like Asher. Basically, he's a typical two year old.

And we wouldn't want him any other way. We love him just the way he is.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanks for Naomi

Naomi is all girl. Girly, girl, girl. We recently got to know Fancy Nancy (the children's book series) and we think Naomi and Fancy Nancy are kindred spirits. She loves to be dressed up and fancy and pretty (but not "cute", she hates being called "cute"). She sits like a lady. She eats like a lady. She draws ladies. She dances. She sings. She IS a princess. And a very fancy one, at that.
She is affectionate in a non-physical way. She'll tell you you're beautiful and stand near you or beg to sit near you, but she won't really hug you. She likes to lay in bed with me, but she doesn't want my arm around her like the boys do. She does not like to be tickled. When she talks non-stop to me is when I know we're really best friends.
Naomi is a great big sister. She is happy to help when asked. She loves to start games and activities for her brothers. She is the leader of the gang that runs around our house all day. Sometimes when she's at school, Asher says, "Where's Naomi? I miss her." And Naomi misses Asher and Isaiah, too.
Naomi has a notebook in her hand for much of each day. She draws while she watches TV. She draws during naptime. She draws after dinner. Did I mention she really loves to draw? She draws for other people all the time. I get a "card" at least once a day from her. When she sees some new thing - an animal or shape or ...thing - she starts drawing it over and over until she has mastered it. She often sings while she draws. Sometimes it's an actual song and sometimes it's just more like humming but with la-la-laaaaa's. She reminds me of a Disney Princess when she does that. I can just picture the birds and squirrels gathering around her and joining in on the song. ... Which would make perfect sense since Naomi loves little animals.

Naomi loves school. I've mentioned before that I think that is because her teacher is fabulous. But also, the girl just soaks up new information. And she thrives in a social environment. Whatever situation she's in, she's soon traveling in a pack of friends. She may not know their names, but they're her friends. She often invites kids over for playdates and then doesn't understand why I say they can't (uh, because I haven't talked to the other kids parents and don't even have their phone number?).

Naomi always wants to be good. I almost never have to punish her because one withering you-know-that-was-wrong look and she's mortified and apologetic. The most upset I've ever seen her is when she's upset that she made a wrong choice - not upset that she's being punished, but upset that she made a wrong choice. The girl just doesn't make wrong choices very often so she has no coping skills for when she does.

Naomi brings me so much joy. I'm so glad I've got my girly girl to balance out the boy-ness of Asher and Isaiah. She's just a great person. She is such an important part of our family. We just wouldn't be whole without her.

Thanks for Asher

I've been thinking about doing a generic "What I'm Thankful For" post. But I've decided to go a slightly different route. I'm thankful for my kids. A lot. Every day. Most minutes of every day. So I think I will focus my thankfulness on them by telling you all about them. I'll start with Asher. (Why start with Asher, my middle child? Because I just snuggled with him so I am feeling particularly thankful for him.)

Asher is crazy. Wild. Rambunctious. And not that obedient. Or rational.

But he is also so sweet and loving. He often proclaims things "beautiful" or "adorable". He is a lover of dinosaurs and worms. When he plays with his cars, pretending they are alive and talking to each other, they often ask each other "Do you want to crash?", "Yes!", and they politely and violently crash into each other. Repeatedly.

Asher loves soft things. He is particularly attached to a blue baby blanket with polka dots on it. He calls it "blankety". He curls it into a ball and cuddles in his "nest". He loves to pretend to sleep. And he loves to have me tell him a story before he pretend sleeps. He always chooses the names for the characters in these stories. He picks two random syllables and makes that the name. Poo-ku, Ka-nee, Wa-tee, etc. (I really love it when he does that because when Naomi was in that phase is when she re-named Isaiah to Poochy.)

During "naptime" Asher doesn't sleep. He plays wildly in his room. Every time I take him up to his room for naptime I have to open his blinds - so he can watch the cars and trucks zoom past, bring him a sippy cup of milk, and set up a train track to his exact specifications. He zooms cars, talks to his stuffed animals, hides under Isaiah's crib, yells just for fun, throws things, tries to trick Naomi into talking to him through the wall (which he knows will get them into trouble), occasionally falls asleep, and reads his "magazines" (catalogs usually containing toys).

Asher loves breakfast. His favorite breakfast is "Fruity O's", a generic Fruit Loop. He eats them on and off again until about 9:30 or 10:00 when it's snack time. Asher likes lunch alright, too. He eats his sandwiches kind of like a watermelon - leaving a thin trail of crust on his plate and a huge smear of jelly on his face. Asher usually skips dinner. He comes to the table when told, looks things over, then usually proclaims he's not hungry and walks away. I refuse to fight him on it.

Asher has reached the "talking non-stop" phase of childhood. His constant babble in the car gets me into trouble sometimes because I readily agree to things when I'm not really listening and then he tries to hold me to it later in the day.

Asher loves to play with Naomi. They play secret spies or hide n seek or race cars together. Sometimes they let Isaiah join in too. But Asher does not play with Isaiah when it's just the two of them. They just play near each other or torture each other. Asher and Isaiah even manage to have arguments, despite the fact that Isaiah doesn't speak! I sometimes wake up to the two of them yelling at each other. "Yes!" yells Asher. "No!" yells Isaiah. And back and forth and back and forth. When I go in there I find that Asher has made up some reason why they originally started fighting which usually involves Isaiah having insulted Asher in some not-possible-since-he-doesn't-speak kind of way.

Asher is a Mama's boy. It has to be Mom who helps him with his PJ's and puts him to bed. It has to be Mom who washes his hands or zips his coat. But when Mom is gone, then Dad will do.

Asher is a little hard to parent. He tries my patience more than anybody else. But I love him so much. He's so sweet and soft, even when he's sour and prickly. He just wants to be loved, just like everybody else in the world. I can always love the grumps right out of him. He loves to be violently tackled and hugged. He loves it even more when I sneak up behind him then tackle him, hug him and kiss him. He's such a great kid.

(I feel a little bit like I just wrote some kind of ad trying to sell my Asher. That is NOT the case. You can't have him! He's not for sale! He's mine!)