Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Week

Monday: We drove down to Anchorage and went downtown to pick Kenny up from work. But first we parked and went in to see his office. He introduced us to a couple people and gave all the kids some yummy foaming hot chocolate which they thought was the coolest thing ever. Then we drove over to the Sponseller's (it took forever and reminded me how much I hate Anchorage traffic, especially during rush hour. It's not just the freeway or whatever, it's the whole city just goes into grid-lock and it's so dumb. Anyway.) Sam and Carmin have a tradition where every year they invite several families over and all the kids re-enact the nativity story, and we play Christmas songs on the bells and eat lots of delicious food. It's a favorite evening of mine. We had a really great time and I totally forgot to take any pictures, darn it. The only downside was that I left my phone there and didn't realize it until we were already back home! That's a good hour drive, and Kenny takes the bus so I was worried about how to get it back without going in to town again. Thankfully Carmin was so sweet and drove downtown to meet Kenny at his work and gave it to him so he could bring it back to me the next day. She's the nicest person ever.

Wednesday: Kenny had no work! For the rest of the week! It's been lovely. Andy and Shalee came out here in the morning. We met them at our church and played in the gym! I'm so grateful for the church gym during the winter time haha. It's a great way for everyone to let out some energy without destroying the house. Then they came home with us and we made gingerbread houses (except they were made out of graham crackers). After lunch we let them all open their presents from Grandpa and Grandma Weston. The idea was to Skype them while they opened them, but they were out to lunch so we just recorded them instead. They were busy playing with their new things the rest of the day. They also did the 100 piece puzzle a couple times. I thought it would be a good size, not too big to be intimidating. But apparently it was way too easy for the older kids. Maybe next year we'll do a 500 piece to keep them busy longer ;). We had dinner together and then they drove back home. It's always fun to hang out with them and the kids LOVE having cousins to play with.

Thursday was Christmas Eve! Kenny stayed home with Briggs, while I took the other 4 to the movie theater to see The Good Dinosaur. It was cute, but I think I was expecting it to be really awesome. There were some super weird parts and characters in there. But overall they liked it so that's good. That night Kenny insisted that we go eat at The Panda Express because it just barely opened up here in Wasilla. I wanted to save that for New Years Eve because that's when we eat Chinese food. And I cringed at the thought of going out to eat on Christmas Eve. But somehow we ended up there anyway. It did make for a nice quick clean up, I suppose. We did the nativity story yet again! Then opened Christmas pajamas and had hot chocolate and candy canes. They set out some cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer and all slept in the same room. (Except for Briggs.) They were all SO excited and giddy and anxious for the next morning. It was really cute and it's my favorite part about the holidays with kids. It's just so magical for them and that makes it special for us.

CHRISTMAS MORNING was just as great as it could have been. Except that Bryn got up at 5:15 to go potty and woke everyone else up. We made them wait until 6:00, but none of us slept. Finally at 6 on the dot we all went down to see their presents. It was great. After Santa gifts we take a break and I made some crepes for breakfast while everyone's still very fascinated with all their stuff. We had a fabulous breakfast. Crepes with nutella, freshly whipped cream, a homemade berry sauce, or just butter and syrup. Oh, and bacon. Ya gotta have bacon. Yum yum. Then we did all the presents under the tree. My talented sister Camille made us a beautiful, colorful blanket and hats for every one of my kids. She's amazing! They all look so stinkin cute in their new hats. My favorite thing is that they keep all their little ears warm! I knew what she was doing as she asked me about colors and stuff, and I was so excited about her gift. The rest of the day was just what Christmas is. Hanging out in pajamas and playing together. That night I made everyone get dressed so we could do our nice Christmas dinner. I made ham and cheesy au gratin potatoes with peas/corn and garlic bread. After dinner we went to the church gym (yes, again!) to play around. Bryn got new rollerblades (and a scooter) and wanted to try them out in a bigger space than our house, and Madison had a plasma car that was just begging for more room. It was good to get out of the house for a bit. But everyone was very tired (5 a.m. remember?) so we came home and went straight to bed. We have so much to be grateful for. Christmas is a wonderful time of year and I'm always a little sad when it's over. Here's something that's both ironic and lame. We live in Alaska and didn't even get a White Christmas! I was so bummed. We had been praying for snow, but we got nothin.

My sister-in-law Kerri made the cutest video of all the grandkids on the Andersen side. It was a gift for my parents. You can see it HERE if you're interested.

Saturday we basically recovered from the week haha. We cleaned A LOT. Took a big load of cardboard boxes to the recycling center and Kenny washed cars. Reality's going to hit hard tomorrow when he goes back to work. Thankfully it's only a 4 day work week because of New Year's Day. More partying! Woohoo! :) There's been a couple of moose that have made our backyard part of their daily path. Well on Saturday they hung out for over an hour in our next door neighbor's yard and it was fun for the kids to just sit there and watch them eat for a long time.

Funny quotes from Christmas:
On Christmas Eve Kenny asked the kids what were the 3 gifts the wise men brought. Madison said "Gold!" Tyler said "Myrrh!" And Brynlee yells out "And Common Sense!"
Also on Christmas Eve, Kelsey came up to me with the most worried look on her face and says, "I hope the Grinch doesn't come tonight and steal Christmas!"
After opening presents Brynlee tried on her new outfit and was so pleased with how she looked she said, "Now I'm not a girl anymore, I'm a woman."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Do I have to put a title??

Tyler had been asking for his own sketch book for a long time, and a couple weeks ago I finally remembered to pick one up for him at the store. He spends probably hours a day drawing and it's fun to flip through the pages. 98% of his drawings are either super-villains or super-heroes. Someday he plans to turn it all into a big comic book, similar to The Avengers. For now he's just getting good drawing practice and some great ideas.

 On Thursday we had a CC "Mom's gathering" but of course kids came too. There were lots of yummy treats for all and it was fun to get together with those great families. Us moms did a white elephant ornament exchange and shared different Christmas traditions. We really needed to get out of the house so it was a good activity. I've been having a hard time this week. It always happens in the winter. I may or may  not call Kenny up sometimes and say "Why the H do we live in Alaska" and other such things. :) But he came home from work the other day and surprised me with 2 beautiful bouquets. He first handed me the yellow ones and said, "These are to brighten your days". And then handed me the roses and said, "And these are to tell you I love you". He doesn't often do things like that so I really loved it. It's always nice to have some flowers in the kitchen.

 Here's something random. You see in the picture above how you can very clearly see the kids' reflections in the sliding back door? Well since our sun rises at 10:30 and sets at 3:30, it's always pitch black when we eat breakfast and dinner, so they can always see their reflections. They call it "Copy Cousins" and it cracks me up. They'll say "copy cousins, why are you saying the same things as me? Look! They're doing the same things as me!" etc. haha my kids are so weird, but also entertaining.

This weekend I got on a big freezer-meal kick. I made 2 chicken pot pies, nachitoches meat pies, chili, chicken taquitos, and baked chicken penne. I love knowing I have a few meals I can pull out on days I don't feel like cooking. Kelsey likes to hang around while I'm cooking, but especially if there's dough of any kind involved. She is constantly snitching pie dough.

Saturday morning we went over to the church and ran around and played in the gym as a family. It was a good start to the day. We came home and distributed Saturday chores and got to work. We're all getting very excited for Christmas this next week! We got a picture of all the kids in their new Christmas church clothes this morning. Only Brynlee's looks more like an Easter dress. But it's the only one she would agree to wear. She's becoming quite particular with her clothes so I just decided to not fight it. And those boots that Madison continues to wear with that dress even though they don't match...whatever. I plan to give my tree some attention before the actual Christmas day, but I just don't seem to care too much. haha. The kids put up the ornaments that are on there and I keep meaning to adjust them all and add some more to make it look good. Just haven't done it yet.

8 more weeks until this little turkey can go into nursery and we cannot wait!! I'm a little bit nervous he's going to be a big bully in nursery, but I guess I'll let the nursery leaders deal with that haha. This is one of his favorite places to play is in the cupboards. He knocks all the dishes all over the place, and a lot on the floor. He also likes trash cans, toilets, taking baths and destroying whatever he can. He plays ball all the time and hates when they roll under the couches.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Last Week's Missed Post

 We had a few fun activities last week.
On Thursday night Brynlee got to play her violin at our local grocery store, Fred Meyer. Her teacher has all the students play together. Bryn just started taking lessons a couple months ago, so she and a handful of other kids could only play twinkle twinkle little star (a few variations of it) so they weren't playing the whole time. But Brynlee sure stood up there with pride and was loving being part of the group.
 She was especially happy to wear that Santa hat to perform. She bought it with her own money :).

 I don't remember which day but we went to the lake to play on the ice. Unfortunately Tyler and Brynlee have both misplaced their gloves so they took my two pairs of gloves, so I had none. And Brigham can't keep his on to save his little LIFE (don't ever ask me about babies/toddlers and gloves. It makes my blood boil) so we were in the car most of the time because it was excessively windy and far too cold to be out unprotected. See that glimpse of sun in the picture below? Barely poking through the bottom of the clouds? Yeah. That's about as much of the sun as I've seen in what feels like a year, but is probably only a week or two.

 Briggs loves putting on hats. Probably because of the reaction he gets from all of us.

 Friday night we had our ward Christmas party. Every auxiliary had to get up on stage and sing a Christmas song. This is our primary singing Jingle Bells.

 And here's our combined Elders Quorum and High Priests singing Silent Night. Kenny's on the right (end) in the striped shirt.

Saturday was a long day of BIRTHDAY PARTIES. They literally sucked up the whole day and I only got one bathroom cleaned and that's about it. But oh well, the kids had fun. The first one was for a little girl Kasila in nursery with Kelsey. Kelsey thought it was the best thing ever that she got to go to a birthday party all by herself (except that I had to stay the whole time too :). ) Her mom is a teacher at a elementary school and had permission to use the gym and all their P.E. equipment. So it made for lots of fun play stuff.
Then I ran her home and stuffed a sandwich in my mouth while driving all the kids back for the next birthday party for Connor. He wanted to invite whole families, not just the kids his age. It was at the same place. Kenny stayed home with Briggs so he could take a nice, long nap. Briggs did the napping, not Kenny. Just to clarify. :) Af

Sunday we had church nice and early. We had a big lunch, then I took a lovely nap! We made sugar cookies and that evening went to Palmer to see the Nativity Display. Hundreds of nativities from all around the world and always a gorgeous and different set up in every room. I love that tradition they do. They have a fun scavenger hunt to keep the kids focused and looking intently at the nativities. Of course it's pretty much the worst place in the world to take a 1 year old. So Kenny mostly wrestled Briggs the whole time and tried to keep him from breaking everything in there. We drove around afterwards and looked at lots of pretty Christmas lights, while singing Christmas songs together as a family. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Madison's Birthday (and a Dance Recital)

My beautiful Madison had her golden birthday yesterday. She turned 5 years old on December 5th. We tried to stick with the "golden" theme. (We had to use yellow to improvise though...) It was somewhat of a busy day as all the girls had a dance recital, two different times. In the morning they came downstairs so happy and surprised to find a couple dozen balloons floating on the ceiling. It was the first time we've ever  used helium in our birthday balloons and it was lots of fun! She requested crepes (with strawberries, nutella, and whipped cream) for breakfast. Tyler tried to dissuade her because that's our Christmas morning breakfast and he wanted to keep it special. But I told him that whatever meal you request on your birthday, you get. Then we got all ready for their dance recital. They've been taking classes at Sonja's Dance Studio, and this was their Christmas "Candy Cane Lane" performance. It was a first experience for all three of these girls and they were very excited to be up on a big stage. Madison and Kelsey's show was at 11:00. I'm trying to get the videos loaded somehow because all that cuteness needs to be shared with the world. We'll see if I can get it to work. I had no idea what to expect out of them. It's pretty impossible to watch them during their classes, so I didn't know how much of a dance they actually did, or if they'd get too nervous and not move at all, or what. But we were all pleasantly surprised that they did awesome. Kelsey kept waving at the audience and they were just adorable up there. We had fun watching all the other dancers, too. We stopped and got McDonald's for her birthday lunch on the way home.
Kenny had to leave to go help somebody move. When he got back, Brynlee and I left for her recital. We didn't want to get tickets for everyone again because it's $10 a seat! So I promised her I'd record it and show the family when we got home. She was okay with that. Brynlee did an awesome job and looked like she was having the time of her life up there. She was just beaming. She told me afterwards, "I was smiling because I was embarrassed!" But she did great. That night we had sweet and sour chicken and rice for dinner (her favorite meal) and then strawberry cheesecake and ice cream for dessert. She had a nice present from both grandmas, and a few from us, all nicely wrapped in gold paper. She got some clothes and more DOLL STUFF. Surprise, surprise :). We haven't seen much of her the rest of the weekend as she and her sisters have been totally absorbed in playing dolls with their new outfits. Oh these girls. 
While we were eating cheesecake, we went around the table and all said something we love about Madison. Right when we were done, she immediately started going around and saying something she loved about everyone of us. That's just the kind of girl Madi is. A heart of gold, a peacemaker, a gentle nurturer, a truly beautiful soul. We love this sweet middle child and are so grateful she's a part of our family. We're so blessed to have her. 

A few other things from our week. I had to hurry and snap a picture of our thankful tree before taking it down. I love this tradition.

Wednesday night Tyler had pack meeting, then they did a fun activity afterwards of Nerf war! They had set up tables (laid on their sides) as barricades and divided the boys up into teams. They had a great time playing Nerf war.
Thursday night I went to a Relief Society progressive dinner. There's a couple ladies in our ward with very nice, large homes and it was a super enjoyable evening. I love eating yummy food and socializing with lovely women. Not only that, but a guy in our ward is a limo driver, and he was kind enough to offer his services for us. So we had a huge limo waiting for us outside each home to take us to our next stop. We felt like celebrities! :)
Friday, Tyler's friend from CC, Micah, was here for pretty much the whole day. His mom needed to be in Anchorage for stuff and he didn't want to go so he played here. It's always fun to shake things up and have a friend over. He's a really good kid, too.

Today, Sunday has been a little eventful. First of all, our church time changed to 8:30 a.m.!!! I don't actually mind, because it means no one's nap or lunch is interrupted. And those things are a big deal for little ones. We did have to wake all the girls up though, which is never fun.

This was one of Madison's birthday gifts. She's been drooling over the American Girl Doll magazine for weeks and was just crazy about the matching girl-doll outfits. She absolutely loved it and she looked so adorable. She also wore her new boots from Grandma, even though they weren't meant for church boots, nor did they really match her outfit. She was pretty insistent so I let it go.

Kenny taught EQ and I did sharing time in Primary. Right after church, and I do mean right after, Brigham had walked out before I had locked things up. The other kids followed him, then ran back to me and said "Briggs just fell down!" I could hear him crying, but Briggs falls down like a hundred times a day. I walked out to get him and Tyler and I both look at his sweater and he says, "I don't know where all this blood is coming from." I kept looking in Briggs' mouth to figure out if he bit his tongue or something. Then I pull my hand off and realize my hand is now covered in blood, so it's obviously on the side of his head that's away from me. I rush into the kitchen and tell Tyler to go find Kenny and let him know where I am. I am trying to stop/slow down the bleeding. Kenny takes one look at him and goes back out into the hall to find Bro. Cook, a doctor in our ward. he comes and looks at his head. He told us that we could take him in and they'd probably put a staple in his head, or super glue it, or we could super glue it ourselves at home. So that's what we did. We got home and cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide. Then Kenny held him while I super glued it. We gave him some Tylenol and a bottle and he slept for about 3+ hours. Poor little guy.

The girls set themselves up a nice little "tea party" with their babies. They had toast, yogurt, strawberries, and hot chocolate. They kept saying "Nothing and No one is better than a tea party!" It's the little things that make them so happy. :)

Kelsey and I took a little nap together. When I nap it's about 30 minutes, tops. When Kenny naps it's 2 hours, easy. It's amazing. We watched the Christmas Devotional online, ate dinner, and then I took the older three back to the church for a fabulous performance of Handel's Messiah. It was awesome. The girls got pretty tired of sitting after the first hour, but they hung in there and were glad to have cookies and lemonade at the end. When we all stood for the Hallelujah Chorus, Tyler immediately started joining in at the top of his lungs. A few people looked at him, so he stopped and looked around and said, "Why can't we sing?!" haha. Bryn asked the same thing. I'm glad they love it so much and were very familiar with at least 3 of the songs.

Last is this cute note Tyler handed me earlier this week. He's such a funny boy and writes me notes quite often. But this one was too good not to share...
I will write it here in case it's too hard to read (but I've fixed the spelling).
"Dear Mom I love you. With holidays coming happiness is in the air and we're doing better than ever. We do chores and have a really good day. Thanks for making everything fun. I wish this can last all of 2016 and longer. You're a pioneer. Keep moving mom."