Sunday, November 25, 2012
A few years ago, Courtney and I decided that to celebrate our August birthdays, we would take a weekend trip. Last year we ended up spending our August and September in the hospital, so we decided that this year was cause for a definite celebration! Late September the two of us headed to Park City to spend a few days together. We had a perfect weekend!
On Saturday, we decided to go to the Olympic park to ride the zip lines. We noticed they had a new high adventure course, and at the last minute decided to give it a try. It was so high, and I'm not so big on heights. At first, I stared down at the ground, held on for dear life, and wondered what in the heck I was thinking. As we got going, though, I loved it! We had such a fun time. It's been quite a year, and after everything my body has gone through this past year, it felt so great to push myself again.
By the last few obstacles, my legs were completely shot! We both had to laugh when I looked at Courtney as I was hanging there and told him "They are done! My legs are done!" I didn't know what to do except laugh! For a minute, I thought someone was going to have to come rescue me! With one last push, I was able to get enough momentum to pull myself to the last obstacle, and we made it back down to the ground safe and sound!
We definitely want to bring the girls up there next summer to spend the day.
I'm so thankful to have this guy in my life.
After a super fun Thanksgiving at Uncle Caleb and Aunt Haylee's house, it was time to venture into the woods for our annual Christmas Tree Hunt! The kids were so excited (See! Look at Emmy- doesn't she look excited? And oh, by the way- Claire lost a tooth!). We were already in Idaho, heading up into the hills when I decided to call our pediatrician to take a look at Sam (Look! Doesn't he look sick?). Turns out, he only had one appointment left and so I left my poor little family in the woods (not alone, of course!) whilst I took him to the doctor. Courtney was quite worried about picking out a tree without me, and even Aunt Kelsey wondered if it could be done without me there listening for angels (I can always hear angels singing when we spot "the" tree). Alas, they made do without me and came home with a tree.
Here's the report: Emmy complained that it was boring, there was no snow this year, and her foot hurt. Claire didn't like the pizza we took for lunch, it was cold. Ryenne thought it took an awful lot of hiking, and she had to do my job since I wasn't there, but it was a whole lot quicker without me because I always take sooo long. Courtney was quite apprehensive about the final choice, but said it was the best there was considering our height requirements (we don't have a lot to work with), and figured if nothing else, we could put the tree in question on our front porch and pick out another one at the tree lot.
I'm sure by now you can see why this is such a successful tradition at our house. Everyone loves it. Really! (I'm beginning to realize just really how traditions work. At the time, it sometimes feels chaotic and maybe not so much fun, but then the we all look back with fond memories and say, "Remember when we. . .? That was so much fun!" or "Remember how such and such was a complete disaster? That was hilarious!" In fact, sometimes the worse it feels when it is actually happening, the better the memories. Kind of funny, eh?)
Well, when it was all said and done we decided the tree was a keeper! It even got decorated that very night, which was a rather smooth process all things considered. We listened (and the girls danced, of course) to Christmas music, took turns hanging ornaments, and dad even stayed sane the entire time. Perfect! We wrapped up the night with the traditional slumber party around the Christmas tree and wondered what Samuel would do when he saw the magic for the first time the next morning.
Hooray! It's the most wonderful time of the year!
We had a terrific Halloween this year! Each of the girls was thrilled with their costume (although Emmy changed her mind a few times at the last minute). Kate was so excited because she and a few friends decided to be Santa Clause, Mrs. Clause, and an elf (I don't have pictures of the elf yet). Their little duo won their class costume contest!
Emmy, who decided on Raggedy Ann for her final costume choice also won her classroom prize, although she was a little disappointed because no one knew who Raggedy Ann was (except the adults, of course)!
Ryenne and her friends wore their alien costumes, although a few of them chickened out when it came time to wear them to school. I was proud of Ryenne for hanging in there. That morning, I could tell she was a little nervous and asked me if I'd drive her so she didn't have to ride the bus. Remembering my own 7th grade worries, I drove her and had to laugh when she told me on the way, "I'm just a little bit nervous that I'll get there and it won't really be costume day"! I assured her it was, but then added that if she ever found herself in that situation, the trick is to just "own it" and act like you are having the time of your life! (Although I don't think I was ever too good at that.)
Claire was all set on being The Little Mermaid, which I didn't think sounded that hard until I massacred the hand-me-down costume Aunt Kerri had given us as I tried to make it fit Claire. A few hours before she needed to wear it, Courtney gave her costume a look and then told me, "You'd better call your mom". (She's a costume hero!) She salvaged it as much as she could and Claire was happy with the results- which is all that matters, right? Win some, lose some- that's what I say!
After school, we ended up with quite the trick-or-treating crew! We have told Ryenne and her friends that we will take them trick-or-treating as long as they would like to come with us (we're big fans of letting them stay young). It got bigger and bigger until we needed two cars to haul our crew around- thanks to our second mom, Amanda it worked out great! These kids were so much fun! We made the rounds to our traditional stops (Courtney says we are "social trick-or-treaters") and had a great time. After, we brought everyone back to our house for a bonfire, scary stories by Courtney, including the Pink-Whiskered-Wowser (the scariest of them all), donuts, and hot chocolate. It turned out to be a late night, but one of my favorite Halloween nights yet! Next year, we decided we need to rent an RV!
October rolled around, and along with it that magical night when our family holds it's annual Ditch The Pumpkin Walk Party. I had to laugh when the girls brought home the elementary school calender and Emmy said, "What night is the pumpkin walk?" When we found the date, she said, "Yay! That means we get to skip it!"
'Cuz that's the way we do things around here.
This year we decided to carve pumpkins for our party, as we didn't get that done last year and it was definitely on the Halloween bucket list this year. We had lots of fun, a big mess, and a few tears (over designs gone wrong) by the time we were done. All in all, a raging success!
Ryenne, our resident artist, had envisioned a mummy pumpkin, but later found out that. . .well, that just didn't go all that well. Instead, I (yeah, I saved the freaking day, that's what) had the idea to turn over the pumpkin and carve something that I knew she would love.
And yes, she loved it.
Kate went with a classic witch theme, which turned out very well.
And Miss Emmy made a cute little face with freckles. . .just like hers!
Claire (who is currently enamored with Pirates of the Caribbean) was set on a pirate pumpkin. Ever made one of those before? We concocted something like a patch over it's eye and she was satisfied. Here, she makes her best pirate face.
Another great pumpkin-walk-ditching party hits the books!
The girls were so excited for their Daddy Daughter Date. It was Emmy's first, and what made it even better is that they got to dress up in costume! Kate was Mrs. Santa Clause this year and Emmy decided on a witch costume for her big date. They had a great time of course, which I knew they would. I mean, look at that cute guy that took them on their first hot date! You snatch a guy like that and it's a guaranteed success!
Last spring, I followed a link to an incredible blog titled Carefree Timelessness, written by a mom whom I've never met but have come to admire as I've read about her and her husbands efforts to teach their children the value of service. If you take the time to read about what they have done as a family, I'm sure you will be inspired as I was. One post that I especially liked was one in where she talked of organizing a service club for her teenage son. I was so inspired by her idea, and like her, also had been wanting to help Ryenne establish lasting friendships with girls who were good and kind- that I talked to a few other moms and we decided to help the girls do a club of their own.
These cute girls have had a lot of fun together. My talented friend Valerie even helped design t-shirts for them with their motto, "I WILL"! We can't wait to keep it going. . .
In October the girls helped our friend Meagan organize a 5k race for special needs in our area, specifically for retina research. Her daughter (and Claire's buddy) Reese has an eye disease which is causing her to go blind. We love Reese and the girls had a lot of fun helping get ready for the race. Since it was the week before Halloween, it was titled, "Fright for Sight". The girls couldn't wait to make costumes to wear to it, and so the night before the race, they all got together to make "alien" costumes. It was quite the scene but they had a ball! Even though a few of them couldn't make it to the race, the girls had a great time. We were so thankful that Meagan let them be a part of what turned out to be a fantastic opportunity!
One of Emmy's favorite things to do is teach school. She has done this for years, and is always setting up a classroom of sorts, whether it be to teach music at "primary", preschool to Claire, or to teach her pretend students. She is really good at it too! She loves to plan family home evenings (I wish I could say we were one of those organised families who assign the children to teach lessons, but we are way to informal for that). She will come up with an idea, complete with a lesson, craft, and game and ask if she can be in charge. She also comes up with great art activities to teach Claire. At any given time you come to our house, you will probably find a school set up in our front entry or family room (or both!). She usually has centers organised with different activities, a schedule posted, and her lessons planned out for the day. I've been trying to convince her that the playhouse make the most perfect classroom, but am not always successful! One thing is for sure, if Emmy decides to be a teacher one day, she will have had lots of practice!
Emmy makes a pretty good student, too! Despite having had a hard time wanting to go to school for a while this year, we received this kind note from her teacher:
Courtney and Kelly,
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy having Emmy in my class. She is such a sweet girl. She is so smart, kind and hard working. Thanks for all you do for her, she is great.
Thank goodness for terrific teachers!
During the October General Conference, we had the opportunity to have Grandma Great spend the day with us. The kids loved having her at our house, and I was so happy to see these pictures we have of her and Sam. This year, we didn't go anywhere for the day. Instead, we decided to stay in our p.j.'s and watch conference at our house. Hip-Hip-Hooray for pajama days and prophets!
This summer, I started walking with a friend three or four mornings a week. I love our visits, and it was great to be able to leave Ryenne in charge while I went out for a walk. Since school started, that isn't an option and so I sometimes take Claire with Sam and I on the days she doesn't have preschool. When it was warmer, she would ask to ride her bike or her scooter, which worked pretty well. What she really doesn't like is when she has to ride in the stroller for the entire five miles! Our visits are generally replaced by stories, creative positive reinforcement, and yes, I'll admit it- bribery. That usually gets us through the first two miles or so.
A few weeks ago, I told Courtney that when Claire comes with us on our walks, I am tired before we even get started!
Mister Samuel, we can't believe you are already one year old! We're sure glad you are here with us though! At one year old, you are sweet, cuddly, and definitely the favorite brother around this place (a role you come by easily, although you earn every bit of it)! You love to give hugs, and often walk up and give them to people you don't even know. They aren't just pretend hugs either, your hugs are the real deal- a tight squeeze around the neck that often lasts several minutes. We all love the way you lay your head on our shoulders while you give us a hug. Whether at church, family gatherings, or even the doctor you are quick to smile at everyone and have a way of making everyone feel like they are your favorite. Lots of people talk about Sam's "contagious smile"!
You love your daddy and especially like to wear his hats! If you can find one, you put it one and strut around with a big grin on your face. You giggle and squeal when you realize Dad is awake or home from work, which makes him pretty happy too. It makes me so happy to see my two boys together. I sure love you two!
Your sisters make you laugh an awful lot. You love to follow them around and they are getting pretty smart about keeping their doors shut so you don't get in and cause a ruckus. If we want to wake them up without making them grouchy, we take you with us and lay you next to them. They can't be too grouchy with you around!
You are happy but busy and spend your time getting into any cupboard or drawer that you can manage to open! You don't require entertaining, but I have to be careful when it's too quiet! That usually means you are into something! You are a great sleeper and still take at least two naps a day. I think you need the extra sleep because you need a rest from all the chaos around here! You love your swaddling blankets, and it's a good thing we have six of them, because you drag them from room to room. If you leave one in a room and can't find it, you just pull out another. At any given time, our house usually has one of your blankets in almost every room! You love to suck you thumb and have a knack at inspecting your blanket until you find that just right corner, which you hold under your finger on the crook of your nose- just like your sister Ryenne used to do!
We sure love you Sam, so glad that you came to make our family complete!
Along with being some of the best friends we could ask for, the John family grows some great pumpkins! The past few years they have been super generous and have offered to let us go to their pumpkin field to pick our pumpkins. It seems we never make it in the daylight, so it makes it even more fun. The girls think it's quite the adventure.
This time was the first time we've had Dad along, which was great fun. Apparently, Ryenne's job was to pester the younger girls by telling them creepy, scary stories, and Dad's job was to threaten her if she didn't stop by informing her she would be sleeping with all them that night when they had nightmares. Ahhhhh, the fun.
Oh. And don't forget his other job. Telling us, "Okay, that's enough" each time the girls brought another load of pumpkins to the pile into the car. He apparently wasn't firm enough, because we ended up with a gazillion pumpkins by the time we got home!