Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ned, the Elf

We started a new tradition this year by getting the Elf on the Shelf. We named ours Ned. It was pretty fun to find new places for him. I think we only forgot to move him once. That's better stats than the tooth fairy has in our house. Here are some of the places he ended up.

Ned hid on the Christmas tree on this one. When Erin and Alex saw him, they moved all the balls on the tree to cover the elf so that the other kids wouldn't find him.
 Oh, and we could not keep the balls on the tree. Not sure why we even decorated the tree with them because they were all over the house. Like here...
 ...and here
... and here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

More Christmas Fun

I've been wanting to make an advent calendar for a while, but never found one I really liked until I saw one in Better Homes and Gardens. I had the materials, so I set about sewing. I used my silhouette for the numbers (painted on), got some sticks from my friend's felled tree and then filled the bags with chocolates.
Then I decided to add an activity that we could do every day. Good idea, right? Here's how it went down:

Dec. 1 - Watch Mr. Krueger's Christmas. Easy enough. The only snag was Jared having to watch it twice this season due to the annual Krueger fest every year at work. One of many perks working for the church.

Dec. 2 - Make popcorn strings. Aside from an injury sustained by Marissa (as seen in the photo, but one that I can't at all remember), it was a success. The kids ate all the popcorn they could reach off the tree in the next few days. Also, not sure what's up with the outfits. Probably playing gymnastics?
The lovely popcorn on the tree

Dec. 3 - Make a Christmas craft. We made hand print reindeer and I mod podged them onto some blocks of wood for a decoration. Hallie's little had is so cute. It was hard to even get it open and flat on the paper. (So far, so good)

Dec. 4 - Watch "Joy to the World". This is kind of where things started to fall apart. It was a really busy day and I knew we wouldn't have much time. It's only like 4 minutes long and it was playing when I left for girls' night out, but the word is that the kids were running around like a bunch of crazies and didn't pay attention to the movie.

Dec. 5 -Play a Christmas game. Cheryl gave me the suggestion to play "Don't Eat Pete" at girls' night (good thing I went, eh?) This was a huge hit. The kids made a board with a bunch of Christmas pictures, then we added Cheerios, picked which picture was Pete while someone was out of the room and yelled "Don't Eat Pete!" as soon as the person attempted to eat him. Anyway, fun game. I have no idea why Connor has no shirt on. (Success! We're back on track.)

Dec. 6 - Read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" with a flashlight. Another busy night, I don't remember why, but I know we didn't do anything this day. (Failure!) But we did do this and another activity the next night. (Redemption) This one was pretty easy and you know, magical, because of the lighting and all.

Dec. 7 - Make Wassail. This was easy and tasty. I like the easy ones. My mom and sister came down to watch Marissa's dance dress rehearsal so they got to have some too.

Dec. 8 - Read or watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Watching movies is always easy. We thought it was going to be the cartoon, but it ended up being the Jim Carrey version. Still good, but I like the other one better. (Still doing okay here)

Dec. 9 - Sing all the Christmas hymns. So this doesn't sound too hard, right? A little something to bring the Christmas spirit. Hahaha... First off, neither Jared nor I are really good enough to sit down and just play all the Christmas hymns, so we decided to each play a hand. A little comical, but it worked out. All except for the fact that we couldn't watch the kids. Connor was screaming the songs, which made Erin really mad. She kept trying to move away from him, which made Alex mad because he couldn't see the book. I know there was something with Marissa getting pushed off something and some fight, but I can't tell you the details due to the fact that I was busy butchering the songs. Oh, can't forget about the baby crying in the other room almost the entire time. But we made it through all of them (for some reason). Now we know, singing hymns=family fight. (Disaster)

Dec. 10 -Make Rice Crispy ornaments, or if you are Connor it would be Rice Cris-beans. Other than the recipe being a little dry and half of it sticking to the pan, I'd say this went okay. Wait, we also couldn't string the Twizzlers through the marshmallows like the magazine said to--they make it seem sooo easy. Uh, ours look nothing like theirs either. (I'll give this one a 7 out of 10, maybe 6.5)

Dec. 11 - Go see Santa. This is one of those that you know is going to be kind of a pain, but still sounds like a good idea in theory. Kids should get to sit on his lap every year. Let me try to paint the picture. Santa was only at Thanksgiving Point on Tuesdays from 6-8 pm. We left just after 6:00 because I had to be back by 7:30 for a meeting. Surely it wouldn't take that long. Surely it did. It took longer in fact. It was hot, the kids were restless and loud and screaming ring -around-the-rosies and knocking things over--did I mention we also had our 6 and 4 year old neighbors with us? I was frazzled and antsy and never did make it to my meeting. Granted, Santa was probably the nicest Santa I have ever met. Real beard and all. He had to have been dying in that hot suit, and yet he had plety of time to ask our kids what they wanted. Still, I can't help but think that he was the reason the line took so long. So, nope, we will never see Santa at Thanksgiving Point again.
 This was at the beginning of the line (still somewhat manageable)

Dec. 12 - Go caroling to grandparents (like over the phone). Did not happen. Ever. Which is probably for the best looking back at the hymn fiasco. This was the start of everyone getting sick.

Dec. 13 - Deliver gifts to those in need. (Fail, fail, fail) My idea was to pick names off one of those giving trees, go shopping as a family and then drop the stuff off. We just plain didn't do it. Everyone was really sick by this point and nobody was leaving the house.

Dec. 14 - Go see the lights at Temple Square. Same as above. I sort of planned on going just after Christmas, but that never happened either. I'm sure they were great.

Dec. 15 - Watch a classic Christmas movie. Okay, finally one that sick people can do. I was imagining "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Charlie Brown's Christmas" but somehow those didn't make the cut. I can't for the life of me remember what we actually watched, but I'm sure it wasn't a classic. Probably some cheesy, low budget Christmas show. And knowing my kids, it was probably about a talking animal, making it that much worse.

Dec. 16 - Act out the nativity. Still sick. We did nothing this day. Let me rephrase that. My family did nothing this day. I got to go to church with just the baby. But, I figure that this activity still counted because they got to act it out twice at family Christmas parties. (Still failing, but bonus points for this one)

Dec. 17 - White elephant gifts. Everyone was STILL SICK!!! I really thought this one would be fun, so we did it a couple of days after Christmas. It was loved by all.  My kids liked passing them around as we read the left/right story, and the gifts were precious. Cotton balls, an old hook, a pair of underwear, some random left over stocking stuffers, and a rock. (At last, a good activity)

Dec. 18 - Make gingerbread houses. People were finally feeling better. Halleluiah! I bought a village kit with one house for each of them. So, it was a little high maintenance for the parents, a couple of walls caved in and some minor fights over candy broke out, but over all--not bad. Yeah, and just how disgusting was it that Marissa and Connor ate every bit of theirs over the next week? Whatever. (Back on track again)
  Don't be fooled, this kid didn't help at all with his
 Poor Hallie fell asleep in her bumbo while we were ignoring her decorating.

Dec. 19 - Watch a classic Christmas movie (again). This time, it was a classic:  "A Christmas Story". We had to watch it if for no other reason than that Jared had never seen it. Unbelievable! Everyone got a kick out of this one, even Jared. (We're almost done!)

Dec. 20 - Dance to Christmas music. This lasted for I think 3 songs. Always fun, but we'd been doing it a lot since Thanksgiving so there was no novelty in it.

Dec. 21 - Look at Christmas lights, not to be confused with the lights at Temple Square. We used to drive around and look at all the cool house lights in Florida. This time we basically went to one house not too far away which had over 100,000 choreographed lights set to music. It was a great show and we didn't have to drive to Salt Lake and battle the hoards of people. (Major bonus)

Dec. 22 - Make Christmas cookies. I think I intend to do this one every year because I always did it as a kid. But I can't actually recall a year when I have done it. In my defense, I did have a fever of 103 this day. And Jared and the kids got to go to a fun Christmas party with stuff that was just as good as Christmas cookies, I'm sure. (Can't feel bad about that)

Dec. 23 - Take family pictures. I was still sick and didn't go to church, but I managed to shower, get dressed and try to look like a healthy person before I plunked back on the couch for the rest of the day. I guess it worked. One of these ended up on our family Christmas card this year. Oh, and yes, I am one of those moms that makes my kids dress alike. I think because I always loved doing it when I was a kid. We didn't actually have real matching outfits too much, but I remember always trying to come up with something that matched. I'm probably a weirdo. Anyway, the boys love matching, and Marissa still does too. Erin, not so much. She does it because I sort of make her, but she is so annoyed that Marissa likes to match her. This may be the last year for them. Sad.
And... guess whose idea it was to have them stand in order. But seriously, who can resist? Girl, boy, girl, boy girl? All two years apart? It's perfect.
 I like this one because it shows their personalities. And Hallie trying to soothe herself with her thumb.
 I love this sweet baby Hallie! I love her little dress too.

Dec. 24 - Open one present. My kids thought it was open one present as a family, but I wanted them to each open a present--their Christmas pajamas. (Can't go wrong with presents)

Dec. 25 - Open presents! I think I can safely say that this day was a success. Over all, I'm glad we did it and I will definitely do it again next year--without getting sick next time!

Okay, one more tradition. This is our 2012 ornament with our newest addition. Our family is getting big!

Christmas 2012

Here are the bullet points of Christmas 2012.
-Opening cute Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve. The girls currently only like nightgowns, so here you go. And me being so cheesy to make them stand in order. Seriously, my poor kids.

-Making new stockings for the girls, but still not finding the right material for the boys, hence the old, cheap stockings again. Next year I say.

-The whole family, except me, getting sick two weeks before Christmas for a full week. Even the baby. Then me being sick the whole weekend before Christmas. I missed a party and the kids singing in church. Boo!

-Connor saying, "Ho Ho Ho, Mewy Chwitmas" in a low voice (only he can say it right--and it makes us all laugh)

-Erin stayed up till 11:00 because she was so excited about Christmas

-Marissa wrote a note to Santa which read, "Dear Santa, Sorry for crying. I will be good. Marissa"

-Hallie getting the exact same caterpillar in her stocking that Marissa got for her birthday (because Hallie doesn't need anything-but it would have been lame to have nothing in her stocking), and Marissa saying, "Hey, I have one just like that. Now we have two."

-Alex opening his "How to Play the Ukelele" book before opening his ukelele. He was a bit baffled.

-Jared and me wrapping until midnight, and me almost dying because I felt so sick. I told him this was the longest Christmas Eve prep ever and he told me this was the easiest ever. Being sick had a lot to do with that!

-Playing Qwirkle. Such a fun game! And now I finally have kids old enough to play and enjoy games with me, since Jared (come to find out) doesn't.

-Last year Jared and I both got potato mashers in our stockings. This year we both got an ice cream scooper since ours broke a while back. Turns out, we kept the one Jared bought both times.

-Alex working on his activity book. I briefly explained sudoku to him and came back three minutes later to find him almost done with one. I was so impressed, until I realized he was copying the answers from the back. The little cheater!
-Erin's Christmas card to us which read:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I hope you have a very merry Christmas! and also a happy new year. Still I can't believe it's going to be 2013! When it is, can you make a goal to be nicer to the kids? It's just a suggestion. Well I guess I better go. Well merry Christmas and a happy new year! Ho! Ho! Ho! Mewy Chwistmas. Yeah, I was pretending to be Connor. Well bye!
Love, Erin
P.S. Hope you didn't die of laughter.

-Jared wearing an "adult-themed" sweater to my family Christmas Eve party (for an ugly sweater contest).  Yes, I said family party. He borrowed it from our neighbor and it was so funny! He got the Rudolph award. The people giving awards didn't even notice until after the award ceremony. He should have gotten a different award.
I borrowed one too, but it wasn't nearly as ugly.

-Acting out the Nativity twice:  once at the Daniels family party (which Hallie and I missed) and once at the Evans family Christmas Eve party. Erin loved being an angel both times. The first time Connor was a sheep, Alex was Joseph, Marissa was Mary and Jared was the donkey that she got to ride on. I don't know how accurate her laughing would have been, but they had fun. The second time Alex was a wise man (he loved his hat), Marissa was an angel, Connor was a horse/donkey? and Hallie was baby Jesus. And no crying did she make.
 I was about to crop this picture until I noticed the winning ugly sweater in the picture--the skin tight turquoise number with horses on the sleeves. So funny!

-Me still recovering from being sick and hardly taking any pictures of Christmas. Ugh. I felt so yucky. But here's the mess.
I love Alex's face in this one

-Me trying to do the pogo stick. Works way better with shoes on. Also, Jared is way better than me. I wanted one that adults could use, so we got one really heavy duty one and one for the kids. Fun! What are we going to do when our basement is finished?

-Hallie got a new high chair (because our old one was scratching the wood floor), a pillow pet, a bunch of new clothes, a doll and a caterpillar that I found in the play room and a box of diapers. Santa sure knew what she needed.

-Connor got a basketball hoop, basketballs, a play guitar, a circus tent, a tie and easy steppers. Favorite present: probably his guitar. He also loves going in the basement to play with his "hoop basketball", as he calls it.

-Marissa got a Princess and the Pop-star castle with two little "Barbies", a cash register, a shopping cart with new food (so she could play store), easy steppers, some clothes, a box set of Hello Kitty books and a Hello Kitty bank that she carries around like a doll. I'm just waiting for the moment when it breaks because she takes it everywhere.
 Marissa wasn't too excited about the shopping cart at first, but she did say she wanted it one day and I thought it would go with her cash register. And the younger kids will use it if she doesn't.

-All Alex asked for was a spy watch, which he got. But it was $10 so we had to get him something else. A while back he looked through a toy catalog and circled the spy watch, a pogo stick and a ukelele. He got those things, the game perfection, a tie that matches Connors (because they love to dress alike to church), roller skates (that he uses with Erin in the basement) and a really cool magic trick book. He has some pretty good tricks that have wowed his friends. 
Yes, this was the best picture of him

-All Erin wanted was art stuff. She got an art easel with a chalkboard, a white board and a roll of paper, a big thing of art supplies, a pottery wheel, a spy watch (to be spies with Alex), a make your own glow in the dark bracelet set and a gross make-up set (one that you can make scars, fake blood, bruises, etc.) Her favorite gift is most definitely the art easel. She has it set up in her room and has been using it every day. She loves art!
Happy Erin--she was so grateful for everything she got this year
Using the pottery wheel

-I got a miter saw. I don't know why, but I just got it in my head one day that that is what I wanted (probably because I'm slightly scared of severing something with our table saw). The guy Jared bought it from looked confused when he told him it was for his wife. No matter. This week I'm going to get started on building a bed for Marissa. So excited! I also got socks, new measuring spoons, some new undershirts (called shores) and of course the ice cream scoop. Jared's good at remembering what I want and getting exacting what I ask for. Thanks Santa!

-Jared got a new lunch bag (after leaving his old one on the bus), some new white shirts, a new jacket, some fresh racquetballs and an ice cream scoop. And lets not forget the belt I bought and couldn't find once I got home. I'm pretty sure it got left at the store the day I was shopping with a fever and about to pass out. Annoying! I also ordered him a book that never came. One of those things I didn't even realize I hadn't gotten until Christmas. Oh well.
-Overall, a great Christmas. The kids were happy and excited, which always makes Christmas fun for everyone. We are so blessed to have so much and live where we do. We are so blessed especially for Christ and what he did for us. A very Merry Christmas!

Finally, the highlight of New Year's Eve:

-Bribing our kids with a pack of gum each if they stayed in bed that night so that we could go across the street for a New Year's Party. We tried to find a babysitter, but couldn't. Instead we used a baby monitor and the bribe. It worked like a charm--no one got up even once, and it was a lot cheaper than a babysitter. The baby was with us but she even slept the whole time. Nice!