Thursday, January 21, 2016

Christmas 2016

Christmas was here!  Benjamin keeps asking to go on a trip to Christmas, since it is no longer here.  I think that is a sign of a successful holiday.  James and Ryan were together nonstop from the time Ryan arrived.  
 We got to talk to our missionary.  It was hard to hear, and a zillion people were talking at once, but he will be home in five months!
 The children decorated sugar cookies for Santa.
 They ate a few, for quality testing purposes.  We don't want to scare Santa off with less than premium quality cookies.
 The children acted out the nativity.  This was less chaotic than I expected it to be.  After the performance, the performers all watched a video depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ, which can be seen here.
 After that we had our traditional Christmas Eve present opening, just to make the anticipation of Christmas morning nearly unbearable, and the children each left a stocking for Santa to fill.


 The children were tucked up all snug in their beds, and just like that it was Christmas!
We got lots of great gifts from our family and friends this year.

 I don't think anyone had a particular favorite gift (they were all so good!) except for B.  Jared got him a little stuffed hippo at the thrift store, and B has hardly gone anywhere without it since Christmas. It is his baby.  Sammy didn't really understand all of the fuss.  He didn't even want to play with wrapping paper, like I thought he might.  He just sat and watched it all unfold.
 Here he is doing his trick (standing up) with new shoes on (Thanks Faith! They make his socks stay on!).
 Eloise modeled her new clothes from Grandma and Grandpa Knight.  B seems to be tackling Ryan in the background.
 Later we took some of the cookies that Santa couldn't eat to the fire station, and the kids sang a Christmas carol.  While we were there, they got a call, and we got to watch the aid unit roll out with lights ablaze and sirens blaring.
 This is the last picture of these two adorable ones, I'm afraid.  The Jensens had to go home the day after Christmas.  Santa brought these girls matching superhero shirts.

 This is our attempt to get a picture of all of the kids with Grandma.  This is probably the most successful picture I got.  At least all of their heads are in it, and no one is terribly blurry.  My standards are low.
 My girls, saying goodbye.
 I wish I could say that James was sad to leave.  He was probably just looking grumpy at the prospect of spending the day traveling.
We were certainly sad to see them go.  We miss you!  The end of Christmas is sad enough without the sorrow of parting.  Merry Christmas!

Winter Adventuring

We took a day off after our drive across Washington, but sick babies make mamas stir crazy, so we had to get out of the house.  Unfortunately for our visitors from milder climes, all of our favorite activities involve the outdoors, and there was a harsh winter chill in the air.  
On the plus side, we had the whole farm to ourselves.  This sheep found the children very interesting.  
 Sammy was snug and warm.

 James napped in the baby carrier most of the time.  We basically stayed until he woke up so that he could enjoy the animals for a few minutes, and then we fled to the warm car.
We stopped at Chick-fil-a for lunch.  It was quite an experience.  The Chick-fil-a in downtown Bellevue had its own traffic cop during the lunch rush.  We had to park at the hotel next door.  Fortunately the outdoor area where we were forced to sit was walled in to shield us from the wind, and each table had a heater.  Service was really fast, too, which was important to our hungry brood.  Eloise and Maren both fell fast asleep on the way home.
Ryan came on Saturday!  We were all glad to see him, especially Annika.  It wasn't actually warm enough or dry enough to play on the trampoline, but sometimes you just have to jump.
Sammy loves to be included in pandemonium.
After baths, Anni braided the girls' hair so that they could have matching wavy hair in the morning.

Grandma Jill came that night, after the kids were in bed.  

On the Monday before Christmas, we went to Pike Place Market.  The gum wall was recently cleaned, but fear of public outcry caused the cleaners to leave a section of wall as disgusting as ever.  We came equipped with our own gum to add to the nasty wall.  We couldn't get Ryan to go near enough to be caught in a picture with the wall.

The boys got tired of wandering the market before the girls did, so they went back to the car.  When the boys are away, the girls eat enormous doughnuts.  We brought some back to the fellas, too.
B napped so well while his cousins were here.  I miss those days.
I wonder if I got enough pictures of these girls being adorable together?  They broke out the princess dresses.
Then Grandma Jill painted their nails.  James was a huge fan of this activity.  B usually asks me to paint his nails, but then he is done after one gets painted.  James sat still for for one and a half hands.
Hot, Anni, hot.  
Once again, my apologies to our out of town relatives that all of the things we like to do are outdoors.  My memories of our outing to the locks make me want to wrap up in a warm blanket and get a mug of hot chocolate.  It is pouring freezing rain outside as I recount this, so that is probably contributing to my chill.
Ryan looks like he just arrived from 80 degree Texas. . . oh, wait. . .

After the locks, Ryan really wanted to check out the Nordic Heritage Museum.  Sammy and B fell asleep on the ten minute drive from the locks to the museum, so this was my view of the museum.
They had a nice, long nap, waking up just in time for everyone else to be done looking at exhibits.  The nice museum workers let us into the museum for free just to use the bathroom and meet up with our group, and then we headed home.
There was so much left to be done to get ready for Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grand Coulee with the Jensens

Anni came first, with Maren and James.  We Knights had been having cousin withdrawals since we left Tucson.  You can imagine how we felt about our visitors.  Serious play commenced immediately.  Maren's favorite game, probably inspired by Sammy, was playing "grown up."  This involved one child being the baby and the other child being the mom.  The baby had to sit in the baby rocker or the crib while the mom sang to them and fed them a bottle.  Eloise loved it.  
 Grandpa Michael really wanted us to come and visit him in Grand Coulee.  Anni and I weren't terribly excited at the prospect of making that long trip with the kids, especially in the winter, and especially right after they had spent the day traveling on a plane from Houston, but my dad really wanted us to come, so we worked it out.  Originally, our plan had been to wait until the end of the week to go.  Anni arrived on the 14th, and Grandpa was leaving on the 19th to make his holiday trip to Utah.  We were going to go out on Wednesday or Thursday.  We were foiled by the weather.  A huge storm was predicted for Wednesday evening (12+ inches of snowfall), so we were forced to move our trip up to Tuesday or face the prospect of getting stranded somewhere.  What is worse than taking seven children in a car on a day long road trip?  Getting stranded somewhere and turning it into a multiple day road trip.
Of we went, jet lagged, runny nosed, and all.  I got this terrible picture of James's first time seeing snow.  My expectations for the drive were low, so everyone did quite well.
 We got to dry falls around 12:30.  Note for future reference: do not take toddlers to the dry falls lookout.  The guard "rails" protecting the public from falling over this sheer cliff are loosely strung chains that children can easily duck under.  Anni was in a panic with James.  We were able to move a couple of the carseats into Grandpa's car here, so it got a little less cramped.
 Grandpa was excited to show us where he works.  The kids were excited to make a copy of their hand on the copy machine.  I remember loving to do this in Dad's office when I was a kid, too.
 Grandpa took us on a little driving tour of some of the landmarks in the area.  We stopped so he could introduce us to his postmaster friend, and then we drove to the Grand Coulee Dam visitor's center which was deserted on this frigid evening.  The museum was fun, and very interactive for the kids.  They all enjoyed trying out the reduced power jackhammer, and putting their heads in the diving suit from the 1930s.
Next we went to Grandpa's house, where he had prepared dinner.  I'm so glad we got to see him this Christmas season!  I think showing us all the life he has made for himself meant a lot to him.  Cheyenne pointed out to me later that this may be the first time any of us has paid him a visit in almost 20 years.  Usually he comes to see us, or we meet somewhere.
 B is a hugger.
 By the time we took our parting photo, the kids were completely done, and we had stayed an hour too long.  I tried to warn Annika that Sammy does not like driving at night, but we were all happy to not be in the car, so it was hard to be motivated to go back out into the cold night.
 We had a hotel reservation in Ellensburg, which is just over two hours away from Grandpa's house in tiny Grand Coulee.  Sammy cried all of the way from Electric City (five minutes out of Grand Coulee) to George (15 minutes away from Ellensburg), keeping most of the other kids awake, too.  When we arrived at our hotel, all of the kids woke up.  Maren was crying that Washington made her nervous, Grandpa Michael made her nervous, and she wanted to go home to Texas.  B fell asleep quickly, but woke up multiple times in the night because he had a fever.  This was one of those rare occasions when the cousins come together with lots of sickness and disease and leave perfectly healthy.  Maren and James both had fevers over the course of the next week, and there was some vomiting, and lots of coughing, but most of it had cleared up by Christmas.  Sammy was restless, James was restless, and no one slept well in the hotel.  I shared a bed with Jared and Sammy, which means I had about six inches of sleeping space, which didn't really matter, since I spent a lot of the night on the floor with B.   Did I mention that my expectations were very low?  The night in the hotel met expectations.
In the morning, everyone was alert and chipper with the prospect of swimming in the hotel pool.  The water was a little cool, but not too bad.   It is a little unnerving to swim with snow and ice outside the windows.   The Texans complained of the cold first.

This is the best picture of the trip.  What a cute bunch of kids!
 We stopped for a little snow play at a parking lot off of I-90 near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass.  James and Sammy had fallen asleep, so Anni took the other kids out of the parking lot to play while I stayed with the babies.
Brrrrrrr!  We were happy to be home safe and sound before the storm started.  This was quite an adventure.

December

And then, suddenly, without any warning, it was time to board a plane for home, reality, and Christmas preparations in earnest.  

 We found home just as damp, cool, and dark as we left it.  Pacific northwesterners might be part earthworm.  You can't beat the puddles, though.
 We spent the next week and a half recovering from our traveling disease.
 It may have been longer. Time slows down when babies are sick.
Sammy smiles like B,
 but he has his daddy's shifty eyes.
 We had about a million Christmas crafts to complete and wrap.
 During one of our trips to the fabric store, B picked up this remnant and wouldn't put it down, so I paid the twenty five cents so he could keep it.  He spent so much time loving on his fish fabric that I decided to turn it into something.  It didn't quite reach the end of his pillow, but I already had the matching green fabric.  I think he likes it.
 At our church Christmas celebration, Jared was excited to see Santa ("Even though I know it is really Brother Phillips helping Santa"), but mostly he just wanted a candy cane.
 Eloise was the queen of last minute impossible gift requests this year.  She waited until the week of Christmas and asked for a play kitchen, "Like other kids have." She also asked for a kitten.  I'm fairly certain that Santa only brings live animals to children who can do all of their care by themselves.
 I asked B if he was going to ask Santa for a present, and he said, "No, I'm just going to give him a hug." He said he wasn't going to sit on his lap.  He was just going to give him a hug.  Brother Phillips/Santa did talk him onto his lap, but only because it was an easier position to hug from.  As you can see, B was looking for an exit mid-hug.
When the crafts were almost done, the presents were almost wrapped, and we were almost all over the cold, December 14th arrived with cousins!