Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2013 in a nutshell. . . our christmas letter

 Merry Christmas!  it’s that time of year again- the one where I think, “I shouldn’t do a Christmas letter this year because maybe they are kind of silly?”  But then I read through all of our old ones (and realize that yes, they are silly), and get carried away by the Ghost of Christmas’ past, who reminds me of all of those little things that I’d have forgotten IF it hadn’t been documented in our good ‘ol Christmas letter.  So I guess you are stuck with us for at least another year.  Plus, there is nothing I like better during the month of December than visiting the mailbox every day and finding your pictures and Christmas letters (hint, hint).  I’m afraid that I sort of send my letters in hopes that I get one from you in return.  So alas, here goes the 2013 version. . .

2013.  This year flew by, just like all the other ones.  We are currently in the last stages of yet another remodel (because who doesn’t love living up to their ankles in dust?)  This adds one more to the number of major remodels Courtney and I have done together.  This time we added about seven feet to the back of the dining room (yeah, whatever you are thinking right now I‘ve probably already heard it), changed the location of the dining room door, fixed/repainted the siding. Replaced the windows along the back of the house, tore out the old unusable chimney and put in a 1916 wood burning cook stove (it’s as cool as it sounds), and are finally finishing the utility room- complete with cabinets for all of our junk.  YEAH!   However crazy you think we are, we are happy with the results and feel like it will make our home work better for us.  We love living in my Grandma and Grandpa’s house and like to think that they sometimes look down at us and are happy with what we’ve accomplished.  I’m sure they get a few good chuckles out of our efforts.  For those of you who didn’t know, my Grandma never saw the inside of the house again after she left, but I was thinking about her the other day and felt as though she was happy we are here.  I know we are!

Courtney and I are keeping busy doing whatever we do.  I’m not sure what it is that I do all the time, but it feels pretty busy!  Courtney and Grandma and Grandpa Jones have gotten the girls involved in the whole show lambs project, which is something I know mostly nothing about (the girls are quick to remind me of that!).  The past few years the girls showed lambs at the state fair along with our local county fair, and have had a lot of fun.  It is fun to watch Courtney get in there with the girls- I have to say that I kind of saw the writing on the wall, but we are the proud owners of a (very) small sheep operation.  Our little four legged friends currently reside at Grandma and Grandpa’s house but the goal is to get them here sometime very soon.   I guess we need a fence?   I told Courtney we should call it “Neverwood Farms”- because I said I ‘never would’ do it.  Yeah, I know.  I’ll just go ahead and add that to my list with all of the other things I said I’d never do.    (Along with the ever popular “My kids will never act like that” and  “My car/car seats will never look like that”.  Been there, done that.)  Now I’ll go ahead and add owning sheep/taking pictures of sheep behinds/taking sheep vacations to the list.  Awesome.

So, lets see. . . life with five children.  I was doing some reading the other day and was informed that being fourteen and female is a disorder that is actually recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.  Physical symptoms of the “fourteen and female syndrome” are said to include slumping in chairs, rolling the eyes, and standing with arms folded across the chest.  Behavioral symptoms include crying, trying on lip gloss, crying, trying on clothes, and crying.  After reading the in’s and out’s of this serious condition, I’m afraid we are seeing some of the early signs in several (four?) of our children.  We remain hopeful that we can get through the next ten (!!!!!) years as pain free as possible.  My research explained that some professors spend whole days talking about this condition in their Introduction to Psychiatry classes, so it is obviously very serious in nature.   Wish us luck please.  Prayers in our behalf are always appreciated.  We are considering the possibility of obtaining honorary doctorates of Psychiatry when we are through.  Heaven knows we will have earned it.

 Ryenne is thirteen, turning 14 in April.  Ryenne has a great sense of humor and can be a lot of fun!  She is still doing ballet, and is on pointe and loves it.  She used to play the flute, but is now playing the piccolo.   ( I think- I’ve never heard her play it because we are really awesome at practicing instruments around here).  She has suddenly gotten very tall and grown up looking.  Eeek!  She has pretty much passed me up in the height department but is convinced she is done growing.  She has suddenly gotten quite interested in friends and members of the opposite-you-know-what.  Darn it.  She had Courtney and I laughing pretty hard in church today after we asked her to switch me places so I could sit by her dad.  She said no because she didn’t want to us to “cuddle in front of everyone”.  When we teased her that if she didn’t move we’d just have to flirt across her lap, she might have rolled her eyes and questioned our understanding of what flirting ‘even is‘.  I guess we’ll have to sign up for lessons, because apparently we have a few things to learn.  (I’ll go ahead and add another thing to my “I’ll never do that” list.  We’ve officially become those parents.  You know, the embarrassing ones.)   

Kate is eleven and is in the sixth grade this year.  She likes the intermediate school and has been playing the clarinet in the band.  She has also been loving soccer.  Last spring, there was not a girls team her age and so she opted to play with the boys.  She played with them again this fall, even though she had been invited to play with a girls team because the boys make her ‘run faster’.   We had to laugh when a boy on an opposing team tried to intimidate her with an “Aren’t you supposed to be playing with the girls?”  and Kate said she almost replied, “I thought I was!”  She did opt to start playing with the girls in the spring and is really excited for soccer to start again.  Kate loves school and reading.  The other day she was tied up in knots because she needed me to edit a report “right now!”  After some questioning, I found out it wasn’t due ‘til the middle of January.  That’s how Kate rolls.  

Emmy turned nine in August and is in the third grade.  She loves her teacher this year and still hopes to be a teacher herself someday.  I can almost always find Emmy ‘teaching school’ somewhere.  She is trying to train Claire and Sam to be model students!  Her little school is complete with recess, reward systems, and high expectations!  Emmy loves anything that sparkles, and LOVES new clothes!  We are often summoned to the garage to get down “the box” of hand-me-downs to find something new to her.  She likes to look just right, and heaven help us all if she doesn’t.  (We can’t wait til prom night!)  Emmy is still taking ballet and I love to watch her leap and twirl around the house.  

Claire.  Oh, Claire.  This girl keeps us on our toes.  Claire turned five in August and because of her late birthday we decided not to send her to kindergarten.  She is a mentor student at the special needs preschool in our county and loves riding the bus to school three times a week.  She gets quite perturbed about her “days off”.  The other day she asked me why she couldn’t go to school every day.  I suggested that the teachers probably thought that she might like to stay home and have fun with her cool mom some days.  She was quiet for a minute and then piped up with, “I do like spending time with you mom, but maybe I could do that after school!”  Claire is somewhat famous for the funny things she comes up with.  Someone at school just informed me that she had been coaxed into doing her “Lord of the Rings/Gollum” impression for all the teachers.  Oh boy.  We never know what is going to come out of her mouth.  Claire started ballet this year, and LOVES it!  She is so excited for us to come watch her in her December review this week and has been counting down the “sleeps” ‘til her big performance.  Claire met with Santa Claus last night and had a serious discussion about getting her very own elf for Christmas.- complete with “pointy ears, please”.

I can’t believe it but Sam is almost 2 ½!  He is so much fun!  Although he can frequently be sighted in his favorite uniform of a pink dress, camouflage pants, and high heels- he is ALL boy!   He is obsessed with tools, and we have to keep an eye out when he finds a hammer.  He received his own little tool set for his birthday and can usually be found next to his daddy with a measuring tape or little drill in hand.  That makes his dad pretty happy!  This fall Courtney was up on the roof shingling and looked up to see Sam walking across the roof to him, blanket in one hand and a snack in the other.  It took three times of getting him off the roof that day before his dad realized he better not leave the ladder up.  (Can I just mention that I was not home that day and kind of had a mini-heart attack when I heard the story.  But yes, I’ll just go ahead and tack that onto my list of things our kids would “never do“.)  All’s well that ends well, right?  Samuel doesn’t say much but has a large repertoire of grunts that he uses to communicate.  He started speech therapy last month, and is starting to verbalize a bit more.  He is very busy, but a happy-go-lucky kid and we love having a little man around the house.

And so, another year has passed and the kids inform me it is only nine “sleeps” ‘til Christmas.  We have yet to put up our tree (that’s on the list tonight!) and as usual, things are not quite how we had planned.  Nevertheless, we are happy and have everything we need.  We can still laugh at all of our imperfections and “I-never-thought-I’d-do-that” moments.    And to top it all off, Courtney wanted me to mention that he looks smokin’ hot in our picture this year.  What more could we want?  We hope this coming year brings peace, love, and laughter your way.  We wish you the very merriest of moments this Christmas season!

Love, The Wood Family
Courtney, Kelly, Ryenne, Kate, Emmy, Claire, and Samuel
(“Wow!  That’s  a lot of kids!”)

Monday, February 24, 2014

just one more reason why i like having this guy around

I came into the dining room one Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago and found this guy of mine sewing a ribbon on a pointe shoe.  The exact same thing I try to get out of by having Ryenne take her shoes to Grandma when they need fixing :).  

Also, Miss Claire has been after me for a while now, wanting me to give her a sewing lesson.  (I think it is actually a "teach me to sew right now so I can whip up a quilt or a dress" kind of request, and I have been putting it off because I think she might be a little disappointed at our progress?)

Not Dad.  She asked him to help her make a "satchel", so they made a satchel.  She was quite proud of it, and when we saw Aunt Nan at the library the next day, gave it away to Nan to use in her music lessons.  

 My favorite part of these pictures is Sam crying and hanging on Courtney's arm while he is trying to help Claire.  Such a part of our days at this stage of life. . .it always seems like everyone needs our attention right now!

Thank goodness we've got dad around so we can get something done around here.  (I just need to get him excited about my to-do list now!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

that one time when the tooth fairy got kidnapped by pirates

We've had a rash of missing teeth the past six months or so.  Missing out of mouths, that is- not from underneath the pillow.  Hence the problem.  The girls were losing teeth left and right, but when they'd leave them underneath the pillow?  Nothing!  Zip, zilch, nada.

Understandably, the girls were a little frustrated.  I'm sure they felt like they were getting the short end of the stick.  I mean, they did their job, right?  Growing teeth ain't easy.  And that's not even taking into account the losin' 'em part.

One day I even overheard one of the girls tell one of the younger girls that she was just going to throw her tooth away and not even bother putting it under her pillow.  I was alarmed (on my children's behalf).  What is the world coming too when you can't even count on the Tooth Fairy?

Luckily, we soon found out what this whole absentee business has been about.  A few weeks ago, Claire happened to lose yet another tooth.  Apparently she was still holding out a little faith in the Tooth Fairy.  That next morning, the several of the girls woke shimmering with fairy glitter and a fistful of gold dollars underneath their pillow.  Along with the loot, they found this note:

Dear Girls,   
I offer you my sincere apologies for the neglect of my Tooth Fairy duties the past while.  It was not without good reason, however I am ashamed nonetheless.  You see, I was detained in North Africa by a sizable number of pirates.  Pirates!  Yes, it was quite the adventure.  They were, at first, very fierce and frightening, but in due course became much more friendly toward me.  It seems even pirates need the Tooth Fairy!  Once I explained that I would be happy to render my services freely, (kidnapping me was not necessary!), we were able to come to friendlier terms and arrange for my release.  Don't worry, I was not harmed during my adventure- but let me assure you, it was an adventure in the greatest sense of the word!  Thank you for your exceeding patience during my absence.  I do hope you are well and assure you I have been most anxious to attend to your teeth.   
Best Wishes, The Tooth Fairy  
 PS.  Thank you for taking such good care of your teeth.  After dealing with pirate teeth, I have become most grateful for those of you who know what a tooth brush is and take care to use it!  I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing more ghastly than the tooth of a pirate! 

I guess we'll forgive her after all.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Sam has a little cousin named Gray.  He's pretty darn cute and we're expecting the two them will become quite the buddies before long.  Whenever Sam grows out of any clothes or shoes, he will bring them to me and say "Gray?"  If I stop to see Uncle Shawn at the car lot about something, he asks, "Gray?"  And he (and any of the girls for that matter) think it is a super big bonus if we stop in at Grandma's house and find Gray there.

Courtney and I were laying in bed the night of Mr. Gray's first birthday and laughed right out loud when we got the following text.  (Also, we had all just spent the weekend at our family winter reunion with a WHOLE bunch of teenagers with electronic devices.  We may heard more than once about how picked on some of our kids are because anybody who is anybody has an iphone, snapchat, instagram, twitter, vine, etc.  And we may have made fun of them a few times about saying "SICK" when something is cool - I mean, isn't "sweet" still the code word for that?  Or how there is some sort of rule that says every text has to say "haha" in it at least once.  And we may have wanted to throw every one of those said devices out of the window by the end of the weekend.  :)  So anyway, it was a little late and we thought we were extra funny.)

 Of course Sam HAD to reply. . .

Ootw?  Courtney and I were cracking up when we figured out it probably means "out of this world"?  

Once we got going, we just couldn't help ourselves.  I can really see how teenagers get addicted to this texting thing.  LOL.  Haha.  #mykidsparentsarecoolerthanyours  


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

. . .and the devil's still making me do it

So apparently I'm doing a bang-up job teaching Claire about the pitfalls of swearing.

The other night Courtney was building a fire in the stove when Claire came out to watch.  Upon which she asked him, "What the *@#! are you doing?"

Uh, yeah.  They had a little chat.

And yesterday, I was making a sandwich for Claire and Sam.  I had taken the lunch meat out of the freezer the night before, and it was still a little bit frozen.  I was having a hard time getting some for their sandwich, and Claire, seeing my difficulty, asked me if she could help.  As she grabbed for the meat, she exclaimed, "That is *@!# cold!"

Upon which I asked, "What did you just say?"

She repeated her exclamation in a perfectly matter-of-fact voice.  You would have thought we were discussing the weather.

Soooo, we had a little chat.  I explained that she has got to stop swearing.  (I don't know, something inside me just tells me it's just not a good habit for a five year old?)  Then she suggested that I should talk to her teacher and tell her that she needs to teach Claire to not swear.

"That's what Dad and I are doing!  That's our job!"  I tried to explain.

In what must have been a logical thought process for her, she then concluded, "Ok!  So it's okay for me to swear everywhere but home?"

My parents used to say that they didn't know whether my free-spirited little brother was making them old or keeping them young.

I think I know how they feel.

Monday, February 10, 2014

the devil made me do it

The other day I was home with the youngest two and found Samuel running around with a sucker.  As is often the case (shhhh, don't tell) he had snuck into his sister's candy stash and helped himself.  I gave him my usual spill about not taking things that aren't his and blah, blah, blah.  

Not too long after, I happened to find Claire running around with the previously mentioned sucker.  So.  I relaunched my little speech about why we can't eat the sucker because it's not ours.  

To which Claire replied, "I know!  But I can't help it!  It tastes too good!"

Well.  I found myself with a teaching opportunity and so I pounced.  I explained that she could help it.  In fact, I taught- that is one of the reasons we came to Earth- so that we could learn to control our desires.

Perfectly age appropriate terms and everything.

Of course, she wanted to know what in the heck a "desire" was.  I decided to give it another go, explaining that a desire was something we wanted really, really bad.  But sometimes the things we desire are not good for us, or they might be against the rules.  Sometimes, what we really want (like eating a sucker that isn't ours) is dishonest.  But Heavenly Father knows that we can have control over our desires and so we need to practice choosing the right even when it is hard.

I was feeling quite pleased with my parenting efforts when she astounded me with this, "Oh, I get it.  Like I want to swear really, really bad all the time.  But I shouldn't do it, because the devil wants me to!  Huh, mom!"

(As a side note, this girl has popped off with some pretty big *#@*! words a few times.  Silly me, I always thought it was doing chores with Grandpa that led her to it, but now I realize it was the devil the whole time :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

sam the student

One of the younger girls favorite thing to do is play school.  Emmy loves teaching her siblings, and comes up with fun activities, reward systems, and even uses a "clip chart" to keep track of her student's behavior.  Sam is typically not invited (for obvious reasons), but wants to go to school so badly.  The other day I finally talked the girls into letting him attend.

Upon dismissal of the class, I was given this note:

Dear, Parents,Your son Samuel Wood was very bad today.  He got to Paerent contact! on the clip chart.  please sign and bring back.__________love, miss Wood   (sign)
His homwork is to work on talking

Obviously, we need to work on his classroom etiquette.   I especially liked his homework assignment.  I have since conversed with his teacher and together, we are working on a few goals for this very problem.

Thank goodness for great educators.

my little helpers

These two always beg me to do the dishes, and I always resist.  The other day I gave in, and they had a great time, although the rug was wet for several days!  Why is it that doing the dishes at this age is so exciting, and when they actually become big enough to help they act like I am asking them to climb Mt. Everest when I mention this job?  :)

(I love Sam's stool, an upside down mixing bowl.  We are all about sanitation around here.)

cute as a button

A few weeks ago, I was getting Claire ready for school and she requested curls.  Of course, I complied.  When we were all done and she was sufficiently pleased with herself, she ran to find her dad and exclaimed, "Dad, I bet you can't stop looking at me."

Being the buddies that they are, he assured her that indeed, he could not stop looking at her!

Shortly after preschool, I found her sound asleep in the chair.  It must be quite exhausting to look so cute!

"dude, there's an elf in my stocking!"

When Claire saw Santa at grandma's cookie party this year, I was surprised to hear her request.  

She asked for an elf.

"A real one please.  Red and green, with pointy ears."

When it came time for her to write her letter to the Big Guy, she repeated her request (along with the cutest elf picture I ever did see).  

She happened to see Santa at school once again, who happened to mention that a real elf might not be a good idea, on account of Santa needing lots of helpers and also he might get sick when warm weather rolls around.  Elves are accustomed to the North Pole, after all.  Brrrrrr.

Well, did she get her elf, you wonder?

My favorite part of Christmas morning was this:  Courtney and I were snuggled tight in our bed, when Claire came running in and hopped in next to her daddy.  In the most excited little voice, she whispered, "Dad, I just sneaked into the family room.  Dude.  There's an elf my stocking!"

I love five year olds.

a few christmas pictures

Big sister helping write letters to Santa.

 Christmas dresses (except Sam didn't wear a dress, don't worry)

 The kids opening their presents to each other on Christmas Eve.

 Ryenne was mad that Courtney saw what she got him for Christmas (beef jerky), so she gave him dog food instead to punish him for peeking.  

Annual Christmas Eve ugly sweater party

Quite possibly one of my favorite Christmas pictures ever.  
These days are disappearing way too fast.

Ryenne playing with a favorite family Christmas present- Kapla blocks.  Love these!

little things I want to remember

These two are quite the buddies lately.  And I love it.

The girls had little December reviews in each of their ballet classes.  I took mostly video, but saw this picture of Claire.  It's a little blurry, but made me smile because she was so proud of herself!  

Smoothie mustaches!

  I smile every time I see this picture.  I'm pretty sure it captured Sam's first snowball fight!  I'm thinking Claire will probably be involved with most of his "firsts"!  He has loved being outside this winter, and sometimes brings me his boots and snow clothes before the sun is even up.  

Someone found his sister's fingernail polish.  For some reason, he has a thing with painting his forehead.  Every time he gets into paint or markers, he goes for his forehead.  
I'm just thankful it hasn't been the couch (yet)!

The girls have spent a lot of time working with their dad this winter, chopping and hauling wood for the stove.  I don't know how much chopping they actually do, but it's pretty cute to watch them out there with him.  He even rigged up a little ax for Sam and Claire to use :)  Then, they fill the sled with wood and haul it to the house where they can stack it.  They'll thank us someday, right?  

Claire and Sam have been spending a lot of tub time this January.  It's a great way to keep them busy and happy!  They like to wear their swimsuits and goggles when they go "swimming" and I love to hear them giggle.

I was sitting on the couch in the dining room the other day and looked over to see Emmy with her arm around Sam.  It made my heart smile.  Those sisters sure do love this little guy.

Sam has loved the swaddling blankets we bought when he was a newborn (so have I, where were these when I had my first four babies?)  In fact, he has used them all so much they are starting to fall apart.  I found Claire the other day with a needle and thread, sewing the tear in his blankie.  Good thing I have this girl.  (Sam calls all of his blankies "Blue".  Before naps or when he is sad, we all go on a hunt for Blue.  I'm thinking I better invest in a few new ones!)

Emmy's class has been studying cultures, and the kids were asked to bring a visitor who could teach their class about a different culture.  She was so excited that uncle Shawn agreed to come and talk to her class about Korea.  Kate chose Korea for her World's Fair project also, so he's been our go-to man the past few weeks!  Emmy couldn't have been more proud of her special visitor!

Sneaked in for good night kisses the other night and found this sweet girl.  Part (ok, most) of me wishes she'd never grow up!