Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bringing Gifts to the Naughty List

...since 2003

Merry Christmas from our sleigh to yours!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Tradition, 2011 Edition

This morning we finally got to participate in what has become my favorite thing we do as a family at Christmas time: Heifer International shopping. We started this last year with our kids as a way to involve them in giving to others, and to help them understand that since Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, one of the ways we can do that is to help others and give to others. How do we decide how much to give? Simple- we match dollar for dollar what Santa spends on our family. This also helps Santa to be more wise and thoughtful about each gift that is given to our children, and helps him to avoid spontaneous and unplanned purchases. Santa sometimes needs this reminder of what the Christmas season is all about. It’s very easy to get distracted, and sometimes Santa needs a little reality check. (And we get to buy things like water buffalos!)

Like we did last year, we all sat at the table this morning with a stack of $1 and $5 bills, and a Heifer International catalog.

The kids loved learning about what different animals can do for a family in a different part of the world. The debated, did a little math, and made deals with each other, and finally settled on what they were going to buy.

Harper used her portion to get bunnies for a family.

Three bunnies apparently have “fertilization” purposes for certain crops, and multiply like, well, rabbits. She was pretty excited about it, and probably thinks she’s getting bunnies for Christmas.

Emerson wanted a cow, so she bought a share of a cow, and a share of a sheep.

The cows provide plenty of milk and cheese for a family, with plenty left over to sell. The sheep provide wool and milk as well.

Dane was all about the budgeting. He spread his portion out to get a share of a water buffalo, a share of a sheep, some baby chicks, and plant seedlings.

Water buffalos are used for sowing fields and also for milk. The chicks are given as a lot (10-50), and should provide lots of protein in the form of eggs and, well, chicken.

Aidan’s shopping theme was “things that can fly”, and he picked out geese, chicks, and bees.

Geese are used on small farms for their eggs, and the bees help pollinate crops and provide honey to sell to others.

We love sitting together and doing this every year, and we hope it's teaching our children to think of ways they can celebrate Jesus by help others.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December Pre-Christmas Miscellany

(Blogger HATES me. I have been trying to post this for the past three days, and I have had trouble loading the pictures, then blogger converted this entire post into HTML code. Because that's easy to read. Mad props to my brother John for fixing my sad, broken blog.)

I loaded a bunch of pictures from my camera onto the computer from this month, and I wanted to get 'em on the blog before Christmas comes and I have another 2000 pictures to cull through.

We've had a fun month. The boys both finished up their flag football season. They LOVE football right now. Every day when they get off the bus, they head straight to the backdoor for "training" in the backyard with their football and cleats. (I looked out the window yesterday to see that Aidan was training in only his new pair of boxer-briefs. He's pretty sure they're shorts.)

These pictures are from his football game a few weeks ago when Aidan was perfecting the art of falling face-first into the dirt on every play, even on the plays where he never came into contact with another human being.

He's a bit moody. These pictures were taken in about a 30 second time span.

I love this kid. So much.

After the last game, we headed over to our subdivision's brand-spankin' new clubhouse for a Grand Opening/Open House thing. Our previous clubhouse was destroyed in Hurricane Ike, and now, 3+ years later, it has been rebuilt. They must have used our contractor. We enjoyed eating dinner, meeting a bunch of our neighbors for the first time, and feeding inappropriate amounts of sugar cookies to the kids. We saw the new pool, work out facility, and the kiddos bounced around in a Moonwalk that had been rented for the event.

In hindsight, it should have occurred to us to maybe not stick our kids in a Moonwalk right after stuffing themselves with bright red sugar cookies, at a party where we really didn't know anyone. Sure enough, after a few minutes of bouncing, Harper climbed out of the Moonwalk and into my arms. I think she was actually hugging my neck when she vomited red sugar cookies all over my arm. I realized at that moment that vomit from the fourth child is less "Oh no, my poor baby is sick! We must call the pediatrician for an emergency visit!" and more "Did any of it get on my shoes?" I cleaned myself off, wiped her down with a couple of baby wipes, and commenced with the party. We pulled our kids out of the Moonwalk, and met a few more neighbors.

We talked schools and churches and jobs, and things neighbors discuss when no one knows each other very well. About an hour later, after helping clean up the party and break down tables, we loaded up in the van to head home. That's when I realized I still had a few chunks of red sugar cookie vomit on my jeans. Of course. Just the first impression I had hoped to make with neighbors. "Hi, I'm Mandy. Yes, I have four children. Yes, in fact, I do have my hands full and it is never a dull moment. Oh, and that? Just some vomit chunks from my youngest daughter that I decided to leave on my pants for a while. No, she's not sick. Just jumped around a little too much after eating half of that box of red santa sugar cookies. Hey, weren't we supposed to bring homemade cookies to this thing? Oh, you brought the store-bought santa sugar cookies? My daughter thought they were delicious.

My facebook friends already know about this, but Aidan made a cute little handprint ornament at school last week. It was made of some sort of soft squishy clay/playdoh substance, and Brandon came in the room to find Harper EATING the ornament. Like, she took more than just one bite out of it. My daughter ate a Christmas ornament. What. On. Earth.

She was disciplined, and the ornament was returned to the tree, out of Harper's reach this time. The next morning, we awoke to find her eating the ornament again. I promise we feed her real food, that we are not starving our precious children. This one just eats weird stuff.

Speaking of Harper, Brandon sent me this picture the other day while I was at work.
He had gotten the girls ready for school, and Harper had requested "special hair". I think Hot Brandon is getting pretty good at fixing little girl hair. :)

The girls had a Christmas program at their preschool earlier this month. In hindsight, I have no idea what they did. I'm sure it involved some sort of singing/hand motions set to Christmas music. I do remember afterwards, seeing Emerson goof around with a couple of her sweet school buddies who go to church with us:

Brandon and Emerson had a date on Monday, and they went out for Chinese food for lunch.
Brandon told me later that when they put the food on the table, Emerson immediately grabbed the chopsticks and popped a pork dumpling in her mouth! Somewhere in her brain, she remembers how to use chopsticks. (Brandon had painted her face like a bunny at the Children's Museum before lunch.) Emerson made him take this picture of her outside of the Children's Museum:

I have a few "Dane stories" too, but I will try to post about his birthday weekend at some point, if Blogger lets me!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Nine Greats

Yes, it is almost Christmas and I am STILL posting pictures from our Thanksgiving weekend.

Betty, along with my aunt Betsy, and cousins Carrie and Lindsey, and Lindsey's 2 little cuties came over for a post-Thanksgiving, non-turkey dinner on Saturday night. We had the brilliant idea to try and get a picture with Betty and her nine great-grandchildren.
It went about as well as you can imagine.
And these are some of my favorite pictures in existence.
Lindsey's oldest, Mr. M, is Harper's age, and little Miss M is baby Nora's age.
It was not a quiet house that Saturday night.
It's quite possible that Betty is not laughing at the children, but rather the half dozen ridiculous adults behind the camera(s), trying to coax their respective children/grandchildren to smile at the camera. Or even look at the camera.
Or just sit on the couch without your little bright red tights-clad chubby legs flung into the air. I'm really not picky.
Those of us not in the picture were guilty of making all kinds of screeching and other high pitched, animal-like noises in an effort of getting the kids to all look up at the same time for that perfect, once in a lifetime frame-able picture.
But these pictures are once in a lifetime, all right.
And you better believe one of them will be in a frame in my house.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Almost 8

My almost-8 year old Dane and I spent an afternoon just the two of us this past weekend, and we had some...informative conversations on the way home.

Mom: (singing)Oh, bring us some figgy pudding, oh bring us some figgy pudding. Dane, what do you think figgy pudding tastes like?

Dane: I don’t know. I bet it’s pretty good. It probably tastes kinda like chocolate pudding. (pause) But if it actually had little pieces of pigs in them, it would be disgusting!

Mom: Little pieces of pigs? (insert confused face here). Um, Dane, you know it’s figgy pudding, not piggy pudding, right?

Dane: It is? (pause) Than I bet it tastes like fig newtons. Nathan had fig newtons one time at lunch and he let me try one. They were brown inside, but they did not taste like chocolate.

Mom, I don’t think Mrs. W. knows how old she is. She’s really old. She has 6 children and 12 grandchildren. But on a worksheet she was showing us, where it asked for her age, she wrote 33 with a question mark! Mom, there’s no WAY she’s 33. She has to be a lot older than that, because you’re 33, and I’m only 7. Do you think she forgot how old she is?

In 20 years I bet Betty will be a great-great grandmother (this was part of a conversation where we were discussing the ages of my grandparents). Because in 20 years, I will be 27, and I’m sure I will have a child by then. Because you have to be married first, and I’m sure I’ll be married. Then it takes, I guess about 3 years to have a baby. Then pregnancy lasts about 9 months or so, then you have a baby. So I’ll probably get married when I’m 22 or 23.

(Go ahead and say a little prayer for Dane's future wife. Pray that she loves Jesus and is very easy-going and laid back and can go-with-the-flow. Because my boy? HE'S A BIT OF A PLANNER.)

Dane: Hey, Mom, can you spell I Cup? (I fell right into that one.)

Me: I-C-U-P. Where’d you learn that one?

Dane: My friend ‘M’ made it up, it is so funny!

Me: He didn’t make it up. We were doing that when I was in elementary school. It’s as old as the hills.

Dane: Yeah, but the only person I actually see pee is Aidan. He pees in the shower, and you can’t not watch that.

(Must tell Aidan to STOP PEEING IN MY SHOWER).

Dane-o, I cannot believe you are about to turn 8. It seems like not that long ago that you looked like this.

And your circa 2004 mommy dressed you in holiday onesies with rick-rack on them. Because nothing is manlier than a little 4th of July rick-rack.

And now you are this bonafide big kid with big plans and big dreams. To say we are unspeakably proud of you is an understatement. Happy birthday, Dane Christopher.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Family Picture Day

What would a holiday with my family be...

without a couple thousand pictures taken?
Throw three professional photographers
In with a couple of amature ones
and 7 little cousins,
the seven year old
the six year old
the four year old and the three year old

the two year old
and the one year old

and little baby Nora

and lots, and lots of attitude
and eventually you will get
1800 pictures that look something like this
and maybe one that looks like this