Sunday, December 31, 2017

M is for Melton!

In October M came home and told us about the Christmas musical they were doing this year.  He told us he was going to try for every part.  A couple of weeks later he came home and told us the exciting news... he was cast as the leading part!  The school would be performing "Melton the Warm Hearted Snowman," and M was cast as Melton!  He had many lines to memorize and I think we were all a little nervous.  

The high school auditorium is a very busy venue in December. The play was held on Thursday, November 30th, just one week after Thanksgiving.  

Finally the big day came and M had a horrible tummy ache.  We all prayed like crazy that it was just nerves.  After school he was feeling better.  Grandma Judy and Grandpa Tom arrived before dinner.  The kids were thrilled that they were going to be staying with us Thursday-Monday!  They couldn't believe that we had just been with one set of grandparents and now we got to be with the other set!

By showtime almost every chair was full!

M at the start of the play before he is made into a snowman.

M: This is when I was given my warm heart!

I was so proud of M and couldn't stop smiling.  T took many pictures with her play camera.

The whole group of 1st and 2nd graders. 

Saying their lines!

M started to melt (because of his warm heart... get it?)

M gave his heart to someone with a cold heart!

Everyone did such a great job.  We were very proud of M.  As it turns out, his tummy ache was just nerves.  He came home feeling much much better!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

We're Getting Ready For Christmas!

We got home from our Thanksgiving travels on Sunday night and spent most of the day and evening Monday decorating for Christmas.  It was so much fun to set things up with Brandon during the day.  After school both of the kids went with Brandon to T's last gymnastics class.  When they got home we ate a quick dinner and then decorated the tree as a family.  There was a bit of sabotage, but overall it was a pretty good event!  I love sitting by the glow of the Christmas lights once the kids are in bed!  

We have a table in our front room which contains special Christmas decorations from many women who are now with Jesus.  The tree in the middle is from Brandon's paternal grandmother.  The Santa is from Brandon's maternal grandma.  The church and angels are from my maternal grandmother.  The music box the church is on is from my paternal great-great aunt.  It is so special have these decorations from such special women. 

A great spot to rest my eyes!

Finally dinner was over and it was time to decorate! First we have to survey ornaments and talk about special ones.

M: Oh, the airplane one.  I love this one!

M: I am really going to spread them out this year!

T:  I am planning to go with a clump again this year!

Our tree is decorated! 

Sometimes they really get along!

M: I need you to take a picture of this Santa!

T: Can you see me hiding under the tree? 

We are not really sure why the Santa figures are front and center at the nativity?!

T: I couldn't wait to set this all up!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Thanksgiving Roadtrip 2017

In our community, kids get a BIG Thanksgiving break.  Our kids had half a day on Tuesday and then the rest of the week off!  We try to maximize the break by taking an extended trip to visit my family from Wednesday until Sunday.  It is nice to be able to be there for a few days and not have the kids miss any school.  I am sitting down to work on this post on December 21st.  I am not sure when it will post as there are many posts ahead of this one.  I am also not sure how long it will take me to write it.  This is quite a busy time of year at our house, but writing a bit before bed is good for me!  

*Update: It is now December 28th.  I have worked on this post at least a little bit each day and hope to have it finished up today.  

Wednesday, November 22nd:
We got packed up and on the road around 10:00 if I remember correctly.  Organizing snacks took a lot more work with M's new diet restrictions.  I was chopping up lots of fruit and trying to prepare as much as possible.  M needs to drink some aloe juice each morning and to take camouflage the taste he gets to have it with apple juice.  He also takes many meds and vitamins with water each morning.  Brandon and I were busy packing and didn't really realize that he hadn't taken things straightaway.  Well, you might be guessing where I am going here... We made A LOT of stops on the journey to my parents house.  I can't remember if it was 6 or 8, but it was A LOT!!!  We also hit a metro area right at rush hour the day before Thanksgiving.  So.much.traffic.  My phone told us to go straight through the City and then on a crazy alternate route.  We decided to follow it, but my stress level was high because of the amount of traffic and being on roads I had never been on before.  Amazingly we made it through everything very well and were able to make almost the entire journey during daylight which is what I prefer!  

When we arrived my mom had dinner waiting.  As usual the kids wanted to check out everything and do many things as soon as possible.  Brandon was doing some deep pressure with T after the long car ride.  She loved it!  

T: Can you find me?  I am under Daddy!
T was very eager to read to Grandma Kathy.  She has read Hop on Pop before, but it takes quite a while.  Grandma Kathy was a very patient listener.

T: Three fish in a tree!  How can that be? 
T: I wanted to read it to Grandma Kathy like a librarian does!

M found an activity book and became obsessed with the grid drawings.  He was proud to show Grandpa Daryl his work.

M: Those boxes really help me draw better. 

T: Reading upside down is hard work!

Soon it was time for bed, but M was not interested in sleeping.  He wanted so badly to cuddle with Grandpa Daryl. It creates quite a battle.  Eventually he gave in and went to sleep.  I was fine just sitting in his room reading.  I read quite a bit throughout the weekend.  I had been in line for a book about a woman (Rachel Jeffs, the daughter of Warren) who escaped the FLDS.  It was quite a fascinating read and made the long bedtime routines more bearable.

Thursday, November 23rd Happy Thanksgiving!

My mom and I were busy prepping food, and T was busy getting table decorations ready.  She made a special fan and name card for each person.  She loves details and really took her time to create master pieces!  The kitchen work went so smoothly because my mom is a great planner and was able to prep so much of the food before the big day!  I mainly made the gluten free stuffing.  I have figured out a recipe that tastes pretty much exactly the way I remember stuffing tasting!  Yum!

T:  Every line is unique.  
T: Now I am going to fold this into a fan!
While the girls were inside, the guys were out in Grandpa's shop.  M was VERY excited to practice lighting matches each day!

M: First you slide it across the side of the box.

M: Then you toss it into the wood burning stove.

M: Then the fire starts.  Can you believe I did that? 

T also joined them for a bit.

T: I liked chopping wood with the "baby ax."

T: You have to be pretty strong. 

M: I got an exercise while T wrested the stuffed animal.  We were getting hungry. 

Finally all the food was ready and it was time to eat.  My mom got a fun center piece with candles and real flowers.  My Grandma Flom was known for doing this and it was fun to see my mom carry on that tradition.  We took a "Happy Thanksgiving" video and sent it to three uncles, one aunt and several cousins.  They also sent one to us.  It was sort of fun to feel like we were all together.  Another aunt emailed a photo of her crew.

Ready to dig in!!

The food was all so tasty.  My mom is a cooking genius and was able to modify the potatoes, turkey and gravy so that M could eat them.  He loved all three and was quite a happy camper!

The kids were thrilled that they were able to watch a screen after lunch.  Time for football! Go Vikings!

T: I am so excited!!!

And a few minutes later the cozy warm sun (sun glasses essential) started shining and she got sleepy.

T: I took a little rest. 

M: I was getting pretty tired too!

M:... but not as tired as Daddy and Uncle Bret!

The game helped occupy the kids so that we could chat and clean up.

It was such a blessing to spend the day with my favorite 86 year old!!!  

The kids were getting pretty screen weary so they did some playing outside towards the end of the game.  Once the game was over we all went over to Bret's house to say "hi" to the chickens and check out his new ice fishing house which can also be used for a camper.

M: I called for them to come to me and they just ran away. 

T:  Come here chickens!

T: We loved the camper!  The bed up high could go up and down by itself. 

After Bret's tour we went back to my parents and invented ways to keep crabby kids happy!

M: Can you believe how strong I am??

Instead of taking the table cloth off right after dinner we let the kids decorate it.  T was very impressed!

T: I got to draw right on the table!

After dinner the kids decided they needed to do some grandparent hair styling.

T: Grandpa did a great job at my hair salon. 
M: I got to brush Grandma Kathy's hair. 

The kids were weary and fell asleep quickly! 

Friday, November 24th:

Our family was not up early with any crazy Black Friday shopping.  In fact, I don't think any of us went to any stores on Black Friday.  Brandon might have made an online purchase, but that is it.  I did make up for it with Cyber Monday deals, but that is a different story.

My mom called the local museum to see if they were open and indeed they were.  Mom was the only one that had been there before, so it was a new experience for most of us.  Our children have been to many Children's museums, but historical/art museums were something new and one of our children was not too thrilled with the idea.  This child let his feelings be known.  Fortunately we didn't get kicked out and his mood changed throughout the time at the museum.  By the end he was enjoying it too.  My parents live is a relatively small town, but the museum was quite impressive. 

T: Take a picture of me by this big lady!
T: This is how we felt about the museum!

T: Hey Grandpa Tom and Aunt Adrienne... I am checking out an old dentist office.  

T:  She is so fancy!!!

M: At least I brought something to play with. 

Sometimes this is as good as it gets!
Then we went to the bank area and things started turning around.  Brandon got M interested in an old fashioned coin sorter.
M: Banks really used to sort coins with this thing. 
M: Dad, do you have some coins we could sort? 
T:  I think I would have liked this computer thing. 

M and T:  We were looking at a yoke for oxen.  It was really cool. 

M and T: They had a school like Little House on the Prairie.  

One of the coolest parts of the museum was a VERY (like 1000 years) old canoe used by Native Americans.  It was found in the bottom of an area lake.  The kids were both pretty interested in it.

M: Maybe this place isn't so bad after all. 

T: I would like this one and this one and this one and this one.  

M: This came from a real animal. 

I just asked T if she remembered what she was saying in the photo below and she did... and now I remember why I needed to take the picture.  She was shaking hands with the deer hooves saying the below...

T: "Goodbye Brother, Goodbye Sister, Goodbye Mother, Goodbye Father. "

After our time at the museum we went to a local park.  The weather was very warm for late November.  We heard it was even warmer at home.

T: A spinning thing... I love it!

M:  I am getting quite a work out. 

T: This is pretty heavy. 

T: Thanks for helping Grandpa Daryl.  It was up a little high. 

T: I look just like Mommy doing Pilates!

T: Sometimes it just feels good to swing and think. 

After the museum and park we had a pretty low key day.  M spent a lot of time working on an old Rubik's Cube.  He enjoyed it so much that Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Daryl got him one for Christmas.

M:  I got almost the entire side. 

That afternoon my mom and I went for a big walk and the guys entertained the kids.  One of them started talking about the chicken dance so they looked it up on youtube and the kids started dancing.

M: I really had to teach T. 

T: Can we do this again... and again. 

They also went outside and fed the squirrels corn cobs.

M and T: We love the big backyard!

M took a nap that afternoon. We don't have any photos from the rest of the day, but I know that we played lots of Outburst Jr. and T put on some plays in her room.  She was putting on plays/playing school.  She would give us each scripts with lines that we had to memorize.  She was a very strict teacher, pretty intense. 

M's nap led to a pretty brutal bedtime routine, but I did manage to read the rest of the book which was an impressive accomplishment for me.

Saturday, November 25th: 

Saturday was a very good day.  Both kids did quite well overall throughout the entire day.  The day started with breakfast with Grandpa.  Hot cereal for M and dry toast for T!  

T and M: We like to get up early so we can have breakfast with Grandpa. 

After getting dressed and starting a fire in the shed they played an epic game of War.  I was taking a shower, but at one point I think there were 5 people playing.  Eventually M and Grandpa measured stacks and declared a winner so we could get ready to head to my Grandma's house for lunch.

M: This game is long!

T: I have the best seat in the house!

We all had a great time at my Grandma's house.  She is one of the most healthy an vibrant 86 year olds I know!  She continues to live on her farm with her cats and dog and big garden and large yard she mows herself.  She took M's huge food limitations in stride and made her famous incredibly tender roast with potatoes and gravy.  M, who usually rejects roast, eagerly ate. My mom made a second pumpkin pie for M and me and we enjoyed it quite a bit. 

Great Grandpa's electronic chair continues to be a thrill for all three of this great grandchildren.

8, 5, and 3!

These two became fast buddies!

We worked quite hard to get a shot with everyone looking at the camera.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Great Grandma with her littles!

Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Daryl!

I love this one!
Grandma's Girls!

A loves a good tickle!

So does T!
M and T love wrestling with Uncle Bret.  A loves to join in and things get pretty wild!

A: We've got you now Daddy!
M: Come on guys, we have to keep Uncle Bret down!

After all the wresting and playing Grandma B had some fun plans!  She wasn't able to celebrate Christmas with us in person this year, so she decided to surprise us with gifts a whole month early.  The kids were very very surprised and excited!  First she gave each kid a big/special gift!  While my grandpa was still alive they decided that a sling shot my grandpa made would go to M one day.  He was over the moon thrilled by this gift and kept saying, "My mom and dad would never let me have this and now I have it."  M was also given a fishing pole that my grandpa used.

M:  I didn't know we were getting gifts!

M: A real sling shot!

M:  This can really work!

M: Thanks so much Great Grandma!

T was given a very special jewelry/treasure box that my Great-Great Aunt Marvel once owned.  It has a traditional Chinese design.  Marvel and T were a lot alike.  They both really really like crafting and collecting and gifting, and shopping.  Marvel lived a long full life, but sometimes I am sad that she didn't get to know T more.  I know they would have been great friends.

T: I LOVE IT!!!!

T: Thank you Great Grandma!

Next Grandma passed out packages with necessities and treats.  We got toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, nuts, fruit, chocolate, notepads and pens, and candy.   T immediately used some of the paper to write a special note to Great Grandma.

T: I made Great Grandma a note because she didn't get any presents. 
T: Great Grandma liked the note I made!

After that M said something like, "It would be nice to have a card."  Grandma smiled very big and passed out cards to everyone.  T asked if there were dollars inside!  As it turns out a really large bill was in each card!  The kids were THRILLED!
T: YES!!!  I can't believe it!!!!!!!!

A's special gift was a little desk that Grandma, my dad, and Bret and I played with when we were young.  What a special gift!
T: Wow A, this is a special gift!
A also got a Birthday card and it featured meowing cats!  It was quite a hit with all the kids!
M and T: We hope we get cards like this for our Birthdays!

The kids spent some time before and after the meal playing outside.  I just combined all the outdoor photos.

M and T: Uncle Bret gives good Gator rides!
My grandma has a dog named Ginger.  The kids both love her!  She is so great with kids.  She lays down and loves to have her belly rubbed.

T: Ginger is just a happy dog!

M: She is softer than you would think!

M: I got in lots of good casting practice!

After playing outside the kids came in and put on lots of plays.  They were having so much fun together.  I knew it was getting close to dark and we should head home, but they were just so very precious!  I am glad they were putting on the plays at Grandma's because then she also got to see the fun. 

Once we got back to my parent's house T needed to switch into clothes that matched A!  They were truly twinning!
T: Can you tell who is who? 


While my mom and I prepped an amazing Mexican dish using leftover turkey (yum, yum, yum) the kids prepared for another play in my parents room.  Once they were ready to perform they called us in and we all laughed and laughed. T was the kid and she was trying to wake up her parents.  A tried to put in ear plugs.  We couldn't stop laughing!

T: WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Giggle, Giggle, Giggle!!!!!  
We got up on Sunday and packed and headed home.  The trip went very quickly.  T cried through most of the Santa Paws movie declaring that it was "way too scary."  We were all happy to be home and ready to jump into the Christmas season.  We made very many special memories over break and were so thankful for good times with our family!