Wednesday, January 30, 2013

mele kalikimaka

We had a great Christmas this year.  The girls were so excited, and I love watching them plan little surprises for each other.  This year, the girls drew names for each other and instead of buying gifts, they made something for one another.  They did a great job and it was so fun to see the effort they put into their gifts.  Ryenne made a cute sign for Claire with her name that she can hang in her room.  Kate asked her Daddy to help her make two little wooden pistols for Sam.  She worked so hard to sand them and paint them so they would be nice, and was soooo excited to give them to her little brother.  Emmy made a bracelet for Ryenne.  As for Sam and Claire's gifts, that might have been my responsibility to help them, and I might have failed miserably.  Enough said.

Christmas morning was exciting as usual.  Sam wasn't too interested in his presents, but he thought all of the chocolate in the stockings was great!  I had to laugh when I saw this picture of him sitting in Grandma's lap with a chocolate Santa in his hand.  Two of his favorites! . . .Heaven!

Claire had asked for an American Girl doll "with hair" and has taken such good care of her new doll.  She had also asked for a Woody and Jessie doll, and we had to chuckle when later than night she mentioned to Courtney that Santa hadn't come through on that part.  Of course, he explained that Santa had given her doll with hair and wasn't that exciting?  She gave him a serious look and then said, "So, Santa's a nice guy but he doesn't bring you what he wants?"  We had a good chuckle about that.

After the kids had opened their presents from Santa, Courtney and I had a fun surprise for them.  We played a game show where they had to guess a letter.  Each time they guessed a correct letter, they earned a gift.  After all the letters were guessed, they still weren't quite sure what it meant.  "Mele Kalikimaka"!  As clues, they had a few gifts to open.  A sundress, rash guards, and snorkeling gear.  Oh, and we can't forget the homemade snow globes.  (One of those "great ideas" of mine that may or may not have been a disaster of sorts). 
Courtney and I have been saving flight miles for over five years and finally saved up enough to get flights for our family to go to Hawaii.  We are so excited to show the kids where I went to school and let them play in the ocean.  We found a house right on the beach and close to BYU-H where we are going to stay.  After making it through a few rough years as a family, we can't wait for our fun adventure. 



christmas eve and ugly sweaters

One of our favorite traditions is our Christmas Eve party with the Croney bunch.  Last year, we started wearing "ugly sweaters" which amped up the fun even more.  There were some pretty awesome sweaters this year!  I couldn't help but laugh every time we were in the middle of a somewhat serious conversation and I would look up and see one of the guys in their awesome sweater.  Classic!
I was pretty proud of our creation, if I must say so myself.  We traced each of our hand prints and made them into part of our reindeer antlers on our shirt.  Each hand print had the kids names in glitter.  I was hoping to add "Our family lights our way" in glitter, but ran out of time.  The shame!

After dinner, the adults always exchange gag gifts, which is always a highlight of the evening.  AJ and Jodi were pretty excited about the new hats they won, and can't wait to wear them to the boy's ballgames.  (The best part is that Kerri and Matt found those in the back of a certain Grandma and Grandpa's car when they bought it.  The only part that made me sad is that I never saw them walking around Las Vegas in those babies.)

We always have a rousing game of "spoons" to determine which present you get, and you might say it ended in a bit of a wrestling match.  Uncle Matt cheats.  Enough said.

Grandpa retired his role for the donkey in the nativity pageant, and thankfully KY took over.  We loved Ryenne, Cole, and Carson's version of the wise men, after which our family always has to sing Grandpa's "WE THREE KINGS" in our best voices.  I don't remember a Christmas without it.
We three kings of orient are,
tried to smoke a rubber cigar.
It was loaded and exploded
knocked us to a yondering star. 
(Had to record that for posterity sake).

Traditional new pj's picture!  Complete with new puppies and lots of cute, excited kids.  It's almost Christmas and they can't wait!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

buddy and jordan

My sister Jodi and I had been planning a service day for our kids for months, probably even a half year or more.  You see, we talk on the phone almost every day, and as we talk, we share our concerns for our children.  To be sure, we also share their successes and make sure the other knows what great kids we think she's got, but naturally, we talk about our worries and hopes for what they will become.  One thing that comes up often is our hope for them to see outside of themselves.  We know how fortunate both our families are, and because of our blessings, our kids don't experience real need.  Both of us want them to understand their blessings, gain a perspective of what a "need" really is, and to experience the peace and self-awareness that comes as they truly learn to serve others. 

Together, we have thrown around the idea of taking them to a foreign country, somewhere where we can spend some times and have an intense service experience.  We'd love to, but with each of us still raising babies, it doesn't seem reasonable right now.  As we talked, we discussed that while it would be an incredible experience for them to take a trip like that, we want them to learn to recognise and serve those in need around them every day. 

Through our discussions, we came to a plan.  We wanted to provided days for our children where our focus would be simply going about our day and watching for people we could serve.  We wanted our families to learn that in any circumstance we find ourselves in, there are those around us who are in need of love, kindness, and a helping hand.  For our first day, we planned the weekend before Christmas.  In the months leading up to Christmas, we talked to the kids about our plans and asked them to pray that they would be guided to those they could serve and know what they could do to help.  We were all excited.

As it turned out, the week before Christmas, Claire ended up in the hospital with pneumonia.  Next thing we knew, Sam was sick too.  Disappointed, Jodi and I talked and decided we'd have to put our day on hold and let her family do it on their own.

Then, a few days before Christmas, on the afternoon before the "service day" was to take place, our Buddy died.  I was at home and let him out to go to the bathroom.  Claire and I were working on her gingerbread house when I got a call from Courtney telling me that our friend had found him on the road in front of our house, having been hit by a car (that never even stopped- but don't get me going on that).  Fortunately, Courtney and our friend, Jim were able to get him off the road before the bus came home and the girls found him. 

I was surprised at how sad I felt.  I don't think of myself as an animal lover.  In fact, I never dreamed we'd have a dog in the house (even more, I swore I wouldn't!)  I guess Buddy changed us, because Courtney and I were broken hearted to lose him.  (And so was everyone else- neighbors, friends, and family.  Everyone loved Buddy!)  The girls cried and cried, and talked of getting a new dog "just like Buddy" right away.  Courtney and I started looking on KSL that night, which made my sister Kelsey laugh.  "Guess what.  If you are already looking for a new dog to take his place, you are animal people!"  I thought Ryenne was wise when she didn't want a dog 'just like Buddy'.  "It will never be the same," she told us.

Well, when the five Stosich boys found out we wouldn't be coming for our weekend service day and that Buddy had been killed, they were pretty sad.  Courtney and I were so touched when the next morning we got a call from Jodi and AJ asking us what we would think if they got us a new dog.  They told us that the boys had gotten together, pooled their own money with the intention of buying their cousins a new puppy, and wanted to do it for their "service day".  When Jodi and AJ protested, the boys countered with "But  you told us to pray for someone we could help, and this is what we want to do for our service!"  What made it even more touching to me is that these are five boys who have never had a puppy of their own, want one soooo bad, but never asked for their own.  Their hearts were set on serving our girls. 

How could we turn them down?

We were all so excited to surprise the girls on Christmas Eve.  They were able to find the perfect dog they wanted for us, a goldendoodle, in just the same color as Buddy!  Since Buddy was a toy poodle, this dog will be about ten times his size, but the boys grandma has a goldendoodle and they all said that is what they would get if they were getting one for themselves.  (As it turned out, Jodi and AJ watched the boys with the puppies as they were picking ours out and couldn't resist getting one of their own!  Now we have brother/sister dogs!  But the best part is, the dog they picked for our girls was their favorite, and we couldn't talk them into keeping it for themselves.  They wanted it to go to the girls!)

On Christmas Eve, the boys told the girls that they were coming and had a special game they had created for them.  The girls could hardly wait for them to arrive.  The "game" was a scavenger hunt, complete with a poem written by the boys.  Amazing boys!

We started on Friday night thinking of you.
We were really all sad that you all had the flu.
So we thought of some fun in a scavenger hunt.
Now please go somewhere you may hear a grunt.
(The bathroom!  As Jodi said, you can tell this was written by 5 boys!)
Now that you have made it to the place where you hear a grunt,
We hope that around the toilet you will not need to hunt.

Now you will run three circles around Kadin,
All though you do not have to be his fair maiden.
Poke him and prod him. . .just like you do
And hopefully there, he'll give you the next clue.
"Hello! My fair ladies, How do you do?
Would you like your next clue?"

Jump up and down 'til you feel you may pee.
Then go to the place, where you play the Wii.
With dresses galore, shoes, purses, and more
Go search that room and make sure to close the door.
Up in the loft there was a shatter,
We looked in the closet and there arose a clatter.
Don't be too rash
but think of where Grandma and Grandpa store the trash.
Hopefully there you will find a nice surprise
Because it is from all of us guys!

The boys named our dog "Jordan" (after Michael Jordan, of course!)  And you know what?  We love our dog!  He's already a whole lot bigger than Buddy, but super playful and the kids are having a great time (except Sam- he and  Jordan have a love/hate relationship on account that Jordan thinks Sam is a toy!)  Thank you Stosich boys- that might have been the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for us!  Thank you for teaching us about service, after all!

Friday, January 18, 2013

a few things that made me laugh lately. . .

1.  Last week I was changing Kate's sheets and found a note to the tooth fairy, (who is crappy at her job, by the way).  Really, that note had been there for weeks.  Weeks!  You just can't find good help these days.  Anyway, when Kate lost her tooth, she promptly misplaced it (which happens frequently around here) and so she wrote a note to give the good fairy a heads up.  "Dear Tooth Fairy,  I literally lost my tooth.  Love, Kate." 

I love that girl times one hundred million.

2.  Yesterday Sam started crying, which sometimes happens.  And when it does, it usually involves his sister.  The four year old kind.  And then we have a conversation that goes something like this.  "Claire.  If Sam is crying, do you remember what that means?  It means, HE DOES NOT LIKE IT.  Crying is his way of telling you."  Well.  Yesterday we were home and Sam's crying tipped his Dad off to a "Claire alert".   Courtney came into the dining room to find Sam in his high chair and Claire high-tailing it to her bedroom.  He didn't have to do much detective work, on account of her yelling, "Sorry Dad.  I gave him a knuckle sandwich" on her way to a self-imposed time-out.  A knuckle sandwich?  Poor Sam, that's what I say.

3.  Yesterday afternoon I accompanied Kate to her fifth grade maturation.  I guess I'm still ten years old at heart, because that whole thing makes me giggle.  In Kate's words, those pictures showed "way too much".  Only two more to go ('cuz the mister will be attending with Sam.)  Case closed.

Oh.  And this didn't really make me laugh, but I have been thinking about something.  Courtney and I have been watching Downton Abbey again.  Yesterday I was changing Sam's clothes and I said to myself, "Why, I am Mr. Samuel's Valet!"   After he was ready, I headed to Claire's room to get her dressed and thought, "Yes, and I'm most certainly Claire's Ladies Maid". 

Pretty soon I found myself driving the kids home and thought, "I do make a fine chauffeur".  As my day went on, so did my list of talents.  Head cook?  Check.  Assistant cook?  Yes, that too.  Chamber maid?  Why, I think so.  Butler?  I answer the door with distinction.  Footman?  First and second, thank you very much.  Lady of the house?  INDEED! 

You know what?  I AM the big house.

ps.  If you're not watching Downton Abbey, you should be.  (Everyone is doing it.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

butter lover

Next to chocolate, Sam's favorite thing to eat just might be butter.  A few days before Christmas, I was set to do some baking and had two sticks of butter softening on the cupboard.  But before I could get started, Sam did. 
He had made quick work of a half pound of butter, and was pretty pleased with himself.  We've caught him several times since with the same idea in mind. 
At least he has good taste.  Kid's going to be my number one cookie tester one day.


A week before Christmas, Claire got sick, sick, sick.  It started out with throwing up, and we just couldn't get it stopped.  When I started seeing her lose her spunk, I knew things were serious!  I took her to see her favorite Dr. Brown ("my dr. brown," she calls him).  I was surprised when he suspected pneumonia.  Sure enough, it was pneumonia, and before we knew it, she was headed upstairs in a wheelchair to be admitted to the hospital.  She was so dehydrated they had a hard time getting her IV in and she was super brave with all the pokes (or super sick, not sure which). 

She was sure glad to see Dad when he arrived from work, and they spent the afternoon cuddled on her bed watching movies and coloring in one of her new coloring books.  Being the only pediatric patient for the day, she made a haul. 

It's already been a rough winter.  Lots of sick kids!  Poor Sam got pneumonia too, and the two of them spent the next week hanging out at home together!   The only thing I like about sick kids is getting to cuddle an extra bunch.  So glad to have them feeling better!

christmas dresses

For the first time, I (deep breath) didn't get the girls matching Christmas dresses. 
It's killing me.

Courtney has been teasing me about matching dresses and jammies for years, because "don't you think they get bored of wearing the same dress for ten years?"  It's true, every time they outgrow one, there is another waiting in the hand-me-down box.  What's funny is that they don't seem to care, but I do get a little bit sick of them! 
But, the picture! Matching dresses, four girls!  It makes for one of those pictures- you know, the kind mothers dream of.
But alas, my Ryenne is growing up.  Finding the same dress for an almost teenager as her four year old sister gets a bit challenging.  So as much as it killed me, I dropped my tradition of matching everything this Christmas.  Plus, I didn't get any decent pictures at all, just crappy phone pictures.  I don't even have one picture of all of them together, in fact!
Fact is, I'm sitting here staring at these pictures of my girls and wondering what I've done.  Just yesterday, they were twirling in circles in matching red, ruffled dresses.  (Okay maybe it was five years ago?)  Next thing you know, they're gonna want to move out.

My whole world just  fell apart.  All because of four mismatched dresses.

mr. and mrs. claus and their favorite elves

When Kate and her friends came to school as Mr. and Mrs. Clause and this elves for Halloween, their music teacher asked them if they'd wear their costumes again for their fifth grade Christmas program.  Cute girls!

obviously, his sisters dressed him for this one

my girl and her gingerbread house

A few Sundays before Christmas, the girls and I decorated gingerbread houses.  It's a favorite tradition, but for some reason I only have a picture of Ryenne.  She decided to take hers to a friend, and so she's all bundled up in her winter clothes (over her p.j.'s- jammies are mandatory wear on Sunday's around here). 

our little candy snitch

Sam is a chocoholic.  I'm not sure who he gets that from?

We spent New Years with the Hurd Family in Island Park, and we laughed every time Sam arrived with a new stash of chocolate.  He has a definite knack for finding it just about anywhere.  He was so pleased with himself when he figured out how to open their fridge, and guess what the first thing he grabbed was?  A big bottle of Hershey's syrup!  That's my boy!

One of the girls favorite Christmas traditions is a little advent box that our friends gave us years ago.  For each day, I put a little note with a fun activity and a little chocolate treat for each of the kids.  One morning I came into the dining room to find Mr. Sam on top of the table with his hands full of chocolate kisses.  (Well, wrappers anyway!)  He couldn't get the wrappers off by himself, but he had figured out that if he put the candy in his mouth, he could suck out the chocolate and then spit out the wrappers. 

I'm pretty sure I'm raising a genius.   His chocolate IQ is amaaaazingly high.