Saturday, December 28, 2013

What do you do in the wintertime, when it's 60 degrees outside?

I guess our trip didn't start out being 60 degrees.  We had to drive through Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.  The kids had a great first day in the car.  When there is nothing else to do, you can always resort to cannibalism. . . or eating your own foot.  The day was pretty uneventful.  The dog whined for the first three or four hours, but she got used to being in the car after a while.    
 We met Grandma Jill in Tremonton to give her her gift and say hello.  It was a short visit, but it was great to get to see her.

 We spent the night in Ogden at my Uncle Paul's house.  The second day in the car was a lot longer.  There was a car accident between St. George, Utah, and Mesquite, Nevada that had traffic nearly stopped for a long while.  The kids got really antsy, and needed a break from the car when there wasn't any place to stop for a real stop.  We survived, though, and ended up getting to Tucson at 11:30 with some really tired, but not asleep yet children.
Tucson is lovely.  We had some time to pass before Christmas, so we went to the park.
 B does not want to be held anymore.  He wants to walk, holding two adult hands.  This is what he does when we pick him up.
 We can't be at the park all of the time, so we played outside with cousins.  We stayed at Colette and Jacob's house for the first five days of our trip so that we could enjoy nonstop cousin time.
 Colette's tomato plants are producing like crazy right now, so the kids loved climbing up in her garden to look for ripe tomatoes.
 At Grandma and Grandpa's house, the trampoline is very popular.
 We took one evening to go see Christmas lights at Winterhaven.  All of my pictures turned out terrible.  The kids loved the soap machine that was making "snow."  My favorite moment was when Marie smelled some tobacco smoke and started discoursing loudly about how people should be more considerate than to smoke when there are children around, since second hand smoke is incredibly bad for kids.  As she was ranting, she walked Jared, whose hand she was holding, smack into a mailbox! He was more startled than hurt.  I'm still laughing at the timing of it.
 There were a couple of cold days, and it even rained off and on all day one day, so the kids had to entertain themselves inside.  Dress up was a new concept for my kids.  They loved it.
 Little princess was continually returning to the kitchen to make dinner.
 This giant ornament decoration played several Christmas carols, but the kids wanted to hear "Noel" over and over and over again.
 When the rain stopped, we went for a hike.  This landscape looks like it is painted.
 We stopped for a snack.  The older two kids went ahead with Todd while the small ones sat down to eat.  Eating and walking is way too complicated for the three and under set.
 We played outside in the yard some more when we got back.  Ryan likes to ham it up for the camera.
 That evening we went to Bud and Karen's house to meet their nine month old baby, Emily, and to catch up with Dan, Katie, Landon, and Cade.  We wish these friends did not live so far away.  If we could take all of our Tucson friends and family, and transplant them in Washington, our lives would be absolutely perfect.  We love Washington, but we really miss our Arizona friends.
 More outside time. . .
 . . . some video watching. . .
 . . . a lot of time staring at the fish (B says "Pis!"). . .
 . . . and then the weather warmed up, so we went back to the park.  That is a lot of cousins crawling in the sand.  I helped Grandma watch all of the kids one day while Todd and Justin went to Colette's house to help set up the new wooden play set in their back yard.  We had to keep the kids out of the way for two days while it was set up so that it would be a surprise on Christmas morning.
 B's favorite word is "Shadow," which seems to apply to all animals, and outdoors.  "Dadow! Dadow! Doh! Doh!"
 The kids cut out some gluten free sugar cookies for a while before they got distracted by the trampoline.  Little Ryan has Celiac disease.  His weight gain has improved dramatically since he went gluten free.  He caught up with Benjamin, and is officially back on the weight charts after his doctor's appointment during our visit.
Rachel and Jared carefully cut out their cookies.
 Annie, Peyton, and McKenzie were more interested in eating the dough.  When Eloise woke up, she cut out the last few cookies. She is an experienced cookie cutter, though, and doesn't eat very much dough when I am looking.
 It was still two days until Christmas, which meant plenty of time to play outside.  We do not get to see enough of these cute girls.

 . .  . and more park time.
I heard that Seattle had real snowfall while we were away.  It has been really nice to enjoy the beautiful Arizona weather as we prepared for Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Counting Down to Christmas 2013

After we got home from Georgia, our first order of business was catching the stomach bug that Cheyenne had on the day we left.  Actually, it took us five days to get it, and then only Todd, Jared, and I got it.  B caught it a week later.  Needless to say, with Thanksgiving and sickness behind us, the kids are ecstatic about impending Christmas.  Jared got my phone and took some selfies while I was making Christmas cookies one day.  Eloise butted in to get her picture taken, too.  
 Jared does a pretty good impression of Uncle Jorge's smolder, too.
 B has the best silly faces.
 Our real first order of business was getting our Christmas tree up.  90% of our decorations are on the bottom third of the tree.  I pointed this out to Jared, so he took a dozen round ornaments and relocated them to just above his head in a line across the tree.  He spent a lot of time in the week before we left for Arizona under the tree examining and reexamining the presents that were starting to pile up there.  
 Eloise discovered many uses for Christmas stockings, to her great delight.

 We reintroduced bubble baths.  Baths have gotten significantly less popular in our house since the weather has gotten so cold.  Benjamin doesn't mind.  He still does his best to dive into the tub as it fills with water, but Jared and Eloise don't like to be damp and cold.  Eloise was excited about bubbles in the tub, but she was thrilled to discover that bubbles can be made into a great Santa beard!
 Christmas means cookies.  We baked a bunch to take to friends and neighbors, but most of them ended up being devoured by the youth in our stake when a youth activity had a cookie shortage.  We made a few more cookies, but they never ended up with the neighbors, since we were so busy getting ready for our trip.  Oh, well.  If we have to eat the cookies ourselves, we will bear that burden stoically.  
 One day there was a little snow flurry.  It was so brief that Jared and Eloise barely made it to the window in time to exclaim in wonder and plan out their snowman before the snow stopped.
 That didn't stop them from breaking out the snow suits to see if they fit.  We thought of packing them for our trip, as we considered having an extended stop in Utah or Idaho on the way down.  I didn't end up packing the snow things, but don't tell Jared and Eloise.
 Our church had a Christmas party and variety show.  Jared tried to tell every single person "Merry Christmas!"  B was also very social.
 Jared was the only person to sit on Santa's lap.  Santa was played by the husband of Jared's Sunbeam teacher, but Jared is so anxious to believe in Santa this year that he didn't even notice the familiar face.
 I didn't get any pictures of Eloise at the party because she spent most of the time running in circles.  She sat down in a circle with some older children who were getting ready to play "Duck, duck, goose," but when she discovered that it was a running game, she popped up and ran circles around the game until the other children stopped playing.  Then she started running different directions.
After that we had Sunday, and then a two day drive to Arizona, and now only six more days until Christmas!  I can't wait.  

Family Photos

One important order of business with most of the family in one place was getting a current family photo. Here is what we came up with:

 The whole group:
 The kids:

 Jared's glamor shot:
B eating grass: 

 The sibs:
The sibs portrayed more accurately:
 We tried to get nice pictures of each of our families, but first Anni. . .
. . . Then Ryan photobombed us.  There are actually nice photos of each of our families sans Jensen-bomb, but these crack me up.
 Of course their picture turned out great.
 Eloise and I photograph well together.
 Jorge never smiles in pictures.  I always assumed that he was trying to make Faith and her huge grin look out of place, but I finally figured out the truth.  Jorge is trying to smolder.  Faith did a pretty good impression of it.
 Sibs and families:
 Grandpa with the babies (before we shifted B into Grandpa's lap, and Eloise started attacking him):
 Annika and Seth sharing a moment.
It was a chilly morning for photos, but they turned out pretty great.  Thanks to Uncle Philip for taking the time to take our pictures.  These are treasures.