Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Almost Christmas!

It was that time of year again. Lights were twinkling, bells were jingling, anticipation was in the heart of every child. It was time to go to the dentist.  Eloise had a mega cavity, which she had go back to have filled after Christmas. Jared went a second time in December with Eloise to have his chipped tooth reconstructed.  They repaired it with the stuff they use for fillings, so it's pretty fragile, and he can't bite into apples anymore.  
 Sammy wanted to do some experiments, so we made rainbow water, and did a few other messy things.  It's fun to discover together. 
 Since September I had been resenting the cooler weather.  While I love having the kids in school, I also miss all of the fun we used to have when it was warm out.  I decided that we should embrace winter, starting with a trip to the ice skating rink.  Apparently everyone else in Kirkland had the same idea, and the ice was kind of mobbed.
 Jared was pretty good.  Eloise was slow, but independent.  B clung to us like a drowning man clings to a rope.  Sammy didn't really have any fun at all until some other kids abandoned this walker.  Then he started to get the hang of ice, just when the rest of the kids were getting tired. 
 This was a really fun family activity.  We will definitely be doing this again. 
 Eloise was the star student in her class.  She got to fill out a poster about herself.  She worked really hard on it, only to find that her younger brothers had "helped" her with it in the night the day before it was due. We patched over their doodles with scrapbook paper and stickers.  Eloise is a superstar!
 B had a brilliant idea that we should paint the walls in our house to look like the outdoors, walking in a forest.  I told him he was welcome to practice in the laundry room.  Sammy also wanted to paint.  I think he painted a rainbow maker. 
 B is always creating things.  He built this giant paper jet to hang on his wall as part of a large airport mural made of paper. 
 Jared had his first band concert.  Todd and Eloise were elected to go support him while I had to stay home and put the little bros in bed. 
 I'm sure it was great. I know Jared is getting really good on the trumpet.  I was surprised how quickly he picked it up.  He can transpose in his head already.  It took me until high school to transpose in my head. 
 They had crazy hair and hat day at Jared's school.  He broke out the wig we got for B a few months ago.  It's a little worse for wear, but it was definitely crazy. 
 B and Sammy practiced letters using wheat berries in a 9 x 13 pan.  They are both very tactile learners.  While these younger kids have gotten less overt instruction than the older kids got, their brains are sponges, and they learn very quickly. 
 We had a Blackwelder party with the kids while Sherrie and Ethan went on a date.  While the boys played Monopoly Deal,
 The girls drew pictures using YouTube tutorials.  Eloise's favorite channel is Kids Art Hub.  They go step by step through line drawing.  Isabella really enjoyed it.  B, our resident artist, also likes it a lot. 
 When you see a bunch of kids smooshed together in the woods, it can only mean one thing: they are catching Pokemon.  Our Sunday afternoon walk/ Pokemon hunt is a tradition in all weather. 
 All of a sudden it was Christmas Eve!  These children have long memories, so they woke up on Christmas Eve morning demanding Santa pancakes.  Fortunately I had all of the necessary ingredients. 
 We rolled, cut, baked, and decorated about a million gingerbread cookies (for Santa, you know?).  I thought that I would be left with enormous numbers of cookies to decorate after the kids each did one or two, but Eloise caught the decorating bug.  Her cookies looked fantastic.  In the future, I aspire to actually getting the cookies rolled, cut, baked, decorated, and delivered to neighbors, but this was a good start. 
 We had a family concert for Christmas Eve.  I got my white lights hung in the sun room to make it a twinkly and festive stage. 
 Each of the kids is developing their talents.  This was a fun way to display what they have learned. 
 We tried a group version of "The Friendly Beasts," but it wasn't well rehearsed, since I mostly forgot we were planning to do it. 
 We acted out the Nativity, and watched the Bible Video depiction of the birth of Jesus
 The stockings were laid by the chimney with care, and then, a miracle!  Eloise let me pull one of her loose teeth!  Loose teeth make Eloise nervous.  The first one she lost got so loose, without any encouragement from her, that it fell out when B hugged her suddenly.  She doesn't want to talk about a loose tooth even if I can see the roots, and it is hanging sideways out of her mouth. 
The tooth fairy and Santa were going to have to fight for supremacy in our house.  We didn't know if we would get money in the stockings and presents under our pillows.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, March 18, 2019

How December Started

I swear I don't do this on purpose, but December always seems to be our "see how much we can cram into one month" month.  This year actually felt a little slower because the kids were in school for more than half the month. Brace yourselves.  
We started with decorating our Christmas tree.  I voted for white lights on the tree, but, as happens every year, I was outvoted.  
Shadow did not approve of us going to Tucson and leaving her, so she tore apart our decrepit back fence, escaping from the yard six times while we were gone.  That was stressful.  As soon as we came home she had to have a good bath and get moved indoors.  She loves being inside with the kids, but she is a pest whenever I sit on the couch because she thinks that I am always waiting to play with her.  She drops a toy in my lap every single time I sit down. 
 There isn't a lot of daylight left when we go to meet Jared in the park after school, so reflective gear was essential for December and January.  I guess this day was a bit much for Sammy. 
 When we hosted preschool, we made gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and frosting. 
 When the older kids came home (I picked B up after lunch until the end of the year), they wanted to make gingerbread houses, too.  This was a good way to get rid of a lot of Halloween candy. 
 The task got more challenging by the time the oldest kids got home, since the frosting was getting pretty dry, but they managed.  In the end it's about eating the candy, right? 
 I found lots of awesome Eloise self portraits.  I promise her bedroom is not actually warm enough for her to sleep in tank tops, but she does not believe that fact. 
 For the first Thursday of the month we met Rebecca and our friend Eliza at the Nordic Heritage Museum for story time and free museum day.  They just opened in their new location, which is beautiful, but parking is more complicated (and less free).  Sammy and I parked on the street and walked, since I'm too cheap to pay for parking in Ballard.  The new location is only three blocks away from the locks and botanical gardens. 
 This is how we love each other in our house. 
 B and Sammy do get along pretty well.  The afternoons were much more lively with B coming home early. 
 We had a church Christmas party.  Santa made an appearance.  It would have been very efficient of me to get a picture of all of my kids with Santa at the same time, but no such luck, so bear with me. 
Jared asked Santa for Heelys, which are sneakers with wheels in the heels.  A lot of his fellow cub scouts have them, and he does not want to be left behind. 
 B asked for new Christmas socks, since he has gone through about five shoe sizes since he got Christmas socks last year.  And Heelys. 
 Eloise wanted heelys and a flippy shirt, with sequins that change colors when you rub them. 
 Sammy wanted only one thing: Doctor toys.  He saw a play doctor kit at his friend Katie's house, and he decided that he needs to be a doctor when he grows up, and he needs to start now by practicing with doctor toys.  He was not interested in a candy cane, and he did not want to sit on Santa's lap, but he did want to make sure that Santa got the message. 
 We went to the Bellevue Festival of the Nativity.  The kids had a great time doing to scavenger hunt and visiting all of the rooms while Todd went to the temple next door. 
 Sammy had Megan's name for Christmas, and he was adamant that what she wanted was a rainbow.  As time went on, it became clear that the person with the rainbow obsession is not Megan, but Sammy, but Todd cut out some rainbow pieces for Sammy to paint for Megan. 
Here is how it turned out on one side.  The colors were different on the other side. 
 I spread out a bunch of art supplies on the table and told B to do whatever he wanted for Rachel.  This is what he came up with.  The only help I gave was with the glue gun.  He's a pretty impressive little creator. 
Jared was inspired by B's work to make this sort of steam punk variation for McKenzie.  I think it's pretty cool.  
 Eloise went with a gift that was a little less work, getting a stuffed lion and a book for Ryan. 
Since Christmas was coming, B decided to make sure he was wearing all of the Christmas colors for church. 
I think the striped bow tie with the plaid shirt makes a pretty bold statement.  Don't you agree?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Arizona Thanksgiving II

Since we were on vacation while the other kids were back in school, we had our first miniature golf adventure at Golf 'n' Stuff.  When we went to buy tickets, we found out about a groupon that allowed us to golf a round and ride one of the rides for almost the same price as just golfing.  The ride was just for four of us, but since B and Sammy had to ride with a grown up, and there wasn't exactly a line for rides in the middle of a school day, they let us all ride the bumper boats.  
Golfing was fun, for a while.  We did ten holes. 
Family activities are fun.  The kids loved all the knight themed stuff in the Golf 'n' Stuff castle. 
We left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa while we got together with our friends.  Dan and Katie and Bud and Karen are in the same ward, so they see each other all the time.  We might be a little jealous. 
After school on Wednesday, everyone met up at the Flandrau Science Center at the U of A.  The kids played in the gift shop while we waited for Justin and Marie to get there.  This was pretty cool.  We weren't there for a planetarium show, but there were a lot of fun brain challenging puzzles. 
Eloise was in the midst of a rocks and minerals unit at school, so she was delighted with the lower level mineral displays. 
Thursday was our last day in Tucson.  We were watching Megan for the morning, so we went to the zoo. 

This is such a perfect depiction of all of the personalities here.  Megan sits on the crocodile's mouth, because she's the boss here. Sammy approaches from the rear, ready to tame the best.  B sits in the middle looking cool, and Jared and Eloise run for their lives. 
We love the Reid Park Zoo elephants.  We have missed having elephants in Seattle since they went away. 
All too soon (but very late in the day) it was time to go home.  We amused ourselves in the airport by taking selfies. 
Possibly the boys would have fallen asleep on the plane without movies keeping them up, but most likely they wouldn't have. 
We got home nice and late (after midnight), and the kids still had school on Friday.  They were only slightly exhausted.  All in all they held up better than I expected. 
Thanksgiving was over, and so was November, so Sammy, B, and I stopped at the thrift store for new to us Christmas jammies while we were out in the rain to get groceries on Friday. They had to be worn immediately. 
Hurrah for Christmas!  We were excited to start the festivities.