Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Solstice Walk

 Saturday, Dec. 21st was winter solstice. The sun rose at 10:14 a.m. and set at 3:42 p.m. The good news, however, is that from here on out we will continue to gain more light every day until we are at the other extreme of only a couple hours of darkness in the summer! haha. I don't know if I'll ever get used to this crazy place we live in. But anyway, I was dying to get out of the house and just be out in nature a little bit. I really need that every so often, and thank goodness Alaska has a lot to offer in the outdoors department. It was finally not in the negative temps so we bundled up and went down the road to take a walk on the Campbell Park trail. It was a nice low-key family outing and we had fun playing with our new camera. :) Our other camera died on us in July, so we've been waiting to get a nice one again. It was supposed to be for Christmas, but my husband has the patience of a 1 year old when it comes to gifts :). I'm SO glad to not just have lousy phone pictures to document our lives. Hopefully it'll make this ol' blog a little more pleasant to look at.
Kelsey was being pulled in this cool sled type seat. It has a buckle and everything. The girls actually took turns riding in it, sometimes two at a time as you will see later.

Cute little munchkin Madison

Yes, the snow was that deep off the trail :) cute cheeser face

The Boys

Not the same day, but a cute shot of Bryn playing out in the snow this week. We certainly never have a shortage of snow!

A Lesson on Honesty

A couple weeks ago I went to the grocery store with the kids. It was nearing dinner time, and we were rushing trying to get home as soon as we could, to get dinner going. But I did need to get a few things, so we had to make a quick trip. The kids were excited by all the Christmas stuff displayed and couldn't resist picking up lots of things and begging and pleading to buy them. I was getting annoyed at their whining and persistence, when I just wanted to get what was on the list and go home. Brynlee, in particular, was having a rough time. After scolding them for their behavior and probably threatening something super scary like taking toys away, they stopped asking for things and we got out of the store.

It wasn't until a little while after we got home that I saw Brynlee trying to hide something from me in her hand. I looked again before she could hide it and recognized it as one of the reindeer pens she really wanted at the store. The one I told her "No, we will not buy that, put it back!"

There it was, in our house, and I knew I didn't pay for it. Shame and guilt took over Brynlee (and probably fear, too) and she took off running to her room. I followed her up there, grateful for a chance to talk away from the other kids. I tried to help her understand that she had just stolen this from the store, and why that was so bad.

When daddy came home that night, Brynlee and I went back to the store together with her piggy bank. The plan was for her to explain what she had done all by herself, apologize, and then make it right. All part of the repentance process. But her face flushed so red when it came time for her to say it, and I knew she was about to cry. Not wanting to hold up the line for too long, I helped her explain what had happened. She did say she was sorry all on her own and that she wouldn't do it again. We then paid for the reindeer pen and came back home, hopefully a little wiser and cleaner in spirit than when we were before. :)

Brynlee seems to struggle with being sneaky and dishonest more than any of the other kids, so hopefully this was a good lesson that will stick with her.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful..."

We got seriously dumped on this past weekend. About a foot and a half of snow. Which means more fun!! It looks beautiful and is fun to play in, we just really wish it would warm up just a little so we could enjoy it even more.

 Sledding on Saturday, before the ward Christmas party

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Madison's 3rd Birthday!!

On Thursday, December 5th, Madison Lynn turned 3 years old!! I'm not quite sure how, so very quickly, she went from this:

to this:

We were still in Texas for the big day, which means we really missed Daddy on this day. But we still managed to celebrate what a great girl she is. I told her about when she was born and how she just came out screaming and didn't stop for a long time. See, here she was getting weighed and was still just so mad! haha. She has brought it up several times since and loves to talk about how she was born in Illinois and was screaming in my tummy :). Something like that.

We started off the morning with a bubble bath. She loves playing in the bath tub with her sisters :).

Then we went to the Lufkin zoo! Grandpa was even nice enough to leave work for a little while and join us. We had a lot of fun, even though it was pretty chilly!
 Except they got a little nervous (especially Tyler) when they saw this sign about how real live alligators live in the lake where you have to park your car!

I don't have any pictures of her opening presents, because I was recording it, but she got a few fun things and was especially happy about the double stroller from Grandma. She has always been the most nurturing little mother to all her "babies" and I'm sure the stroller will get a lot of use at our house!
That night we had pizza, then cake and ice cream. The only thing she cared about was that everything was PINK! Pink balloons, pink frosting, pink wrapping paper, etc. Then we went to aunt Sarah's Christmas concert that night at the high school.

Oh we sure love this sweet girl. She is so beautiful inside and out and we couldn't imagine our family without her. Happy happy birthday Madi cakes!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanksgiving in Lufkin

The kids and I left on Monday the 25th, and flew to Seattle. We spent the night there in a hotel, and went back the next morning for another 4 hour flight to Houston. My mom picked us up and we were so happy to see her!! We had missed all the family festivities for Mon. and Tues., but we got there that night and we were overjoyed to be with everyone. We had a spectacular time. I threw a little slideshow together of some of my favorite pictures HERE, and my awesome SIL Kerri made a movie of all the video recordings she was so good at capturing while we were together. HERE. Here's a few highlights that I want to remember about this trip:

Hardly seeing my kids because they were so busy playing and having a blast with their cousins
Singing together around the piano--always a favorite tradition when we're together
The Thanksgiving program we did at the nursing home (my dad is the Director there at Southland, so we pretty much do some kind of program any time we're home :) ). Tyler played a piano solo for his first time ever in front of a group of people and played it perfectly. The grandkids all recited the poem, "Good morning Mr. Turkey" and it was so cute.
Staying up late every night talking and playing games with all the adults
The oven pooping out on us on Thanksgiving day--BEFORE we baked the 4 big pans of rolls my mom made. We tried to make them over the fire (some of us tried outside, some tried inside) and it was so funny. We finally used store-bought french bread and called it good. 
Having pie and ice cream around the fire that night and talking about what we were grateful for
Lots of fires! 
Seeing my cousin Charlotte and her adorable family! It was so fun to be with them
Sunshine and warm weather (most of the time)
Seeing my dad wrestle and play with my kids. I hope they know what a great Grandpa they have.
Just being together and nurturing those important family relationships

We really, really missed Kenny. I also swore that was the last time I'd travel by myself. But it's hard because if we're going to spend so much money on plane tickets to go see everyone, we want it to be long enough to make it worth it. Of course Kenny could never take off enough work to do that, so I'm sure it'll happen again. But I hate it every time. This time, coming home was a nightmare. We had heard there would be freezing rain in Dallas, so we made sure to check our flight status twice that morning, including RIGHT before we left. But with a 4 hour drive there, it must have changed from on time, to cancelled. By the time we got to the airport, the kids had already had it. They had been sitting in a car for 4 hours, no potty breaks or anything. But I didn't realize how long the line would be, so we got in line just to print off our boarding passes...over an hour later they were going crazy, we ALL needed to pee really bad, and we had only moved a few feet. Literally. Then, as a very direct answer to prayer, this random lady came up to me and asked if she could stand there by our luggage, so I could take my kids to the bathroom without losing our spot in line. I wanted to cry. I told her she was a saint and thanked her. Then we ran clear across the airport to find the bathrooms. I found the TVs and figured out my flight was cancelled, called Kenny, and he rescheduled our flight. I called my mom, dying from embarrassment that she had to turn around come back for us. It was dark now, the roads were really icy, and we still had a long night ahead of us. So we waited another hour + for her to turn around and come back for us. We got home around midnight and went straight to bed. The next day my dad drove us down to Houston (no ice there) so we could fly home. We had two long 4 hour flights, with a layover in between. Kelsey did not sleep AT ALL the whole second flight...which was the middle of the night. We landed at 12:30, but 3:30 to us since we were still on TX time. I had restless leg syndrome really bad, and Tyler got a bloody nose because he always does whenever it's dry. But of course we all survived. We didn't go to church the next morning, but we did sleep a lot. We were all so exhausted. It was good to be home and back as a family under one roof. Real life always sets in very quickly, but it's still good to be back to our normal, daily grind.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sister Love

Sunday, November 17th: I was making dinner and Kelsey kept asking me to read her books. I did stop several times to read, but then I said that I couldn't, or dinner would never get done. Madison walks in the kitchen and says, "Here Kels, I'll read it to ya! Sit on my lap". So they sat right there on the kitchen floor, with Madison's arms wrapped around Kelsey, barely able to reach to turn the pages. It was the sweetest thing. This happened to be one of the books she has memorized (not very many words) and it was so tender. I just love sibling relationships...when they're kind like this :).