Friday, December 28, 2007

Our first Christmas on our own

I was a little nervous about how Christmas would turn out this year since it would be our first Christmas without having other extended family around. So I made lists of activities and different traditions that we wanted to start with our family and had a plan ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that I wouldn't have much time to think about how I was missing being with other family. Our Christmas turned out wonderfully, we were all so happy to have lots of time to spend with one another doing fun things and remembering our Savior's birth. Christmas Eve (day) we made lots of treats and prepared plates to give out to our neighbors. Elisabeth and I made the deliveries and then our friends the Arkell's came by for a little while to play. After they left we had dinner and then did our live nativity; we had been leading up to the story of Jesus birth all week by retelling the story of Zacharias and Elisabeth and the angel coming to see Mary and Joseph. (Below are a couple of really short clips, mostly to show the costumes and the kids...we tried to edit ourselves out as much as we could so as not to disturb you viewers :))

video video

The kids loved dressing up, Charles as a shepard and Elisabeth as an angel, and in fact we had a bit of a struggle later on that night trying to convince Elisabeth to change out of her angel costume and into pajamas...she would much rather have slept in her beautiful angel dress. Christmas night both the kids slept fine but Scott kept waking up because he was anxious about his big surprise for me...my elliptical machine! It was a TOTAL surprise(a complete blessing/miracle) and there's a long story behind that so I might try and post a blog about that later. The kids got up around 7am, I put the monkey buns in the oven, we opened our stockings and then got started on the gifts. We had a hard time getting Charles to open his gifts because the kids got a basketball hoop from Santa that was just sitting out and Charles just wanted to be left alone to play with it. But we got through all the unwrapping and then just relaxed in our pj's for hours and played with our new toys and watched Joy to the World. Later that afternoon we got dressed and Scott and I made some authentic enchiladas and refried beans and brought them over to our neighbors who had invited us over for a Mexican feast....we already had all the makings for mexican food because we'd been planning on doing that for Christmas dinner for awhile so when they invited us over and told us what they'd be serving we decided we'd just add to what they had. We had such a nice time with their family, they had 2 of their daughters there, one brought her fiance, and their parents came over as well (they were probably in their 80's, and I felt so at home and comfortable with them, I love the elderly and maybe part of that is due to the fact that my dad is 81). We got to talk with our families over the phone and of course we would have loved to be with them, but even on our own, Christmas was wonderful!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Josh Groban with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Activities Continued...

Last week we made some reindeer bell necklaces. The kids love wearing them, I'm glad Scott remembered this idea from his childhood. We bought some lofthouse cookies (my favorite store bought cookie, I know that lots of you can't stand these but I think they're great!) and I'm proud to say that it took us 3 days to finish the box of 10...I didn't know if I could control myself, but I think I did pretty good :). The kids LOVED these too (probably because they're loaded with icing, that's why I like them too)! Thursday night I drove down to my Aunt and Uncles in Orem during the middle of an awful snowstorm. We said lots of prayers and thankfully made it there safely, though it took 3 times as long as it usually does because the snow was falling down so thick and the wind was blowing so hard that no one could see out of their driver side windows(which meant no lane changing and there were only three made up lanes instead of the normal 5). While on the freeway everyone was driving from about 5-35mph, we never went faster. Scott took a bus from SLC and met us there about an hour later and then we started our family Christmas party. We had a lot of fun, ate pizza and treats, decorated a gingerbread house and did a white elephant gift exchange. Since the travel time was so much longer, we didn't get started until quite a bit later which meant we didn't get home until quite a bit later. Charles was pretty pooped by the end. Here he is waiting so patiently on the couch while we get Elisabeth ready for bed: Yesterday we had some old friends from Wymount over for a little Christmas party. It was so good to see everyone, and we missed the ones that couldn't make it out, we'll have to do it again sometime. If anyone reads this that was with us in Wymount and lives around here but that I didn't talk to about the party, let me know and next time we do something I'll be sure to include you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Elisa wanted me to share this post from my blog

http://bigbabbo.blogspot.com/2007/12/ben-stein-on-christmas.html

Charles in Charge

Charles likes to do everything that the 'big people' are doing and more. He's nearly two, he talks and understands so much and feels like a very independent being. Most of the time I encourage him with his independence, for example he loves to help unload the dishwasher, but I don't want him helping with the breakable plates and bowls and glasses etc. so I pull out the silverware tray and let him put all those away while I quickly try and put everything else away so that we'll hopefully finish about the same time. When Daddy gets home from work, and opens the silverware drawer before dinner, he can always tell when I've had some help :).

Charles also likes to climb in our cupboards with a couple of small toys and play with them in a mostly dark area (he also closes the cupboard most of the way). I usually have to intervene fairly quickly because his favorite cupboard to play in is the one just under the sink and he loves to mess with the pipes, I know, not good. And if you look in the picture below you'll notice that the expression on his face doesn't say, 'oh no, I've been caught again doing something I know is naughty, I feel so bad.' but is actually one of happiness . Oh well, what can you do? Take a picture :), because it makes you feel better (well at least it makes me feel better, kind of lightens the mood)Another place he likes to just stand for awhile very quietly is in our fridge. He'll climb up on the first little ledge and then have the door close on him as far as it can get (which is almost completely shut) so when I'm looking for him in the house it's not a very noticeable spot and sometimes I have to search every room a couple of times before I remember this little trick of his.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nativity

We have a play mobile nativity set that we put together just after Thanksgiving and the kids LOVE it! And so of course I love it too because it keeps them busy for a good amount of time every day. Elisabeth will take all of the animals and people around the house with her and create different activities for them to do. For example she'll place them all out strategically and then call on someone to say the prayer for Family Home Evening, or she'll have them all go to tumbling class and she tells baby Jesus to be extra careful while doing his somersaults, or they'll go to the temple with her and so on. I always try and listen and slyly look over, though I can't be caught actually watching her play because then she gets a little bit shy and stops until I've busied myself with something else. In this picture she has out her Friend magazine as well and she's having all of the figurines sing carols that go along with the pictures in the Friend.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday Activities


Last weekend we attended our ward Christmas party and dinner. The kids loved hitting the pinata; unfortunately I didn't get a picture of them actually hitting it.

Yesterday I finally got to try making these candied pecans:
Scott's mom makes them during the Christmas season and we LOVE them, they're addicting! And what makes them even better is that there are only two ingredients(so it's super easy), pecans and pure maple syrup, and so there is no added sugar either.

Last night we made gingerbread houses with a couple of other families at the Wilcox's. The kids did great and ate a lot of candy :)...well Charles ate a lot of candy, and Elisabeth enjoyed helping me decorate and playing with the babies.And here are all of the final products:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I love being a mom!

The other morning while I was loading our dishwasher after breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen, Elisabeth, who had gone downstairs to get dressed, came upstairs looking like this:
I love this girl!

And here are a couple of pictures of the kids. The first I took of them stretching and the second picture they're doing yoga with my video:

You may notice that Charles and Elisabeth are doing different yoga poses in this picture. That's because Elisabeth follows the video and Charles only does his favorite pose, which is this one. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Book Reviews

Our ward has started a book club, I haven't actually been able to attend yet because I've had time conflicts, but I'm reading the books they've assigned and hopefully next month I'll be able to participate in the discussion. The first book was The Secret Life of Bees. A lot of people like this book, I'm just not one of them. There was too much bad language and meanness in the book, and I know that's how people talk and how things really were back in that time, but I'd rather fill my mind with something else. (Does anyone know of a website where I can check out the content of a book before I read it....for movies I check screenit.com, and I'm hoping that there's something like that out there for books)

Right now we're reading The Gift. It's Richard Paul Evans newest fiction novel and I really liked it. There's a little bit of romance but mostly it's a nice story about a sweet boy who was given a special gift of healing and the way he chooses to use that gift is admirable.

Next month we'll be reading Twilight which of course I've blogged about before because I LOVE that book, and I know that many of you love that book as well. I've also recently read a cute romantic comedy novel titled, Austenland. I'm pretty sure that one was written by a young LDS woman, and it's a fun fast read. I'm currently reading Emma by Jane Austen but it's taking me awhile, partly because, so far, Emma is portrayed as very materialistic and vain and it's kind of irritating to read. I'm hoping that characteristic will die down as I get further into the book, otherwise it may take me a very long time to finish.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Mommy, I love learning!"

I haven't put Elisabeth in preschool yet(she's almost 3 and a half), and I'm not sure if I ever will, but I want her to be somewhat prepared for kindergarten so we work on things here and there, though we don't have a scheduled time, we just kind of incorporate learning things with our play and try and make it fun. She knows her numbers through 20 pretty well and in fact every day she likes to arrange all of her fruit snacks by fruit type, then she counts how many each type has, and then she counts them all together as a whole and as she eats them she'll recount them and see how many she has left. She knows her shapes and colors and lots of songs and rhymes. She knows her alphabet and all her sounds and can sound out some words, she's in the beginning stages of reading I suppose, and can read on her own lots of books that have a few words on each page. Just this last week I bought a little dry erase book that teaches you how to write your letters (thanks for the idea Gina). She was so excited when I pulled it out and showed her how to do it and while she was practicing her letters she kept saying, "Mommy, I'm learning to write my letters! I love learning Mommy!" It was so cute and of course I was pleased to hear her say something like that, hopefully she'll retain that love of learning throughout the years.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Tree

Here are a couple of pictures of our Christmas tree. One was taken about a week and a half ago, the other just this morning. Notice anything different between the two?



















The one above and to the left is evenly decorated with ornaments covering the entire tree. But after each child broke a glass ball(Charles broke one in his hand! It took me awhile to figure out what exactly happened because he didn't even whine or fuss about it even though he acquired a few cuts in the process) we decided to move all of the breakable ornaments up high and leave the others to cover the bottom half of the tree. Well if you couldn't tell from the picture on the right, most of the 'other ornaments' are gone because the kids love to take them all off and put them in different spots in the house: in cupboards, in the entertainment center, in strollers and in our closets. Charles also likes to put his own creative ornaments on the tree; in the picture to the right you might notice a piece of paper that he's colored on and stuffed inside the tree, or a pink necklace draped along the branches :). I kinda like it, it makes our tree look very family friendly :). Though I have to admit, at night once they're in bed I go around the house, gather the ornaments up and put them back on the tree...I think this makes it a little more fun for the kids too because they've got something to do once they wake up :).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

30 weeks

Today I had my glucose screening test and normal checkup so we were at the doctor's office for just over an hour. The kids did really good, they colored, and ate fishy crackers and fruit snacks. After our appointment we went to the post office to mail off a package and I gave them each lollipops to suck on while we waited in line (they're SO busy this time of year, no matter what time of day!) and so of course they did really well there too. Overall, we've had a pleasant morning despite all of the boring and long errands/appointments.

I'm feeling great, no aches or pains, though I am getting huge(which I know is normal but I still don't like it) so I've been trying to eat better and keep up my exercise; I always feel guilty for eating so much junk after Thanksgiving...and I'm sure I will again after Christmas :). It's freezing cold outside but I'm still forcing myself to exercise(beyond chasing 2 kiddos around) at least 4-5 times a week...though of course I'm exercising inside. I have three work out videos that I've been rotating and I've put another one on hold at the library(a prenatal yoga video) so hopefully that will come in soon because I need something a little different. One of my three videos is advanced Tae Bo with Billy Blanks which is pretty hard to do with a huge 7 month belly like mine, though I have modified several exercises from that video but I still don't know if I'm being completely safe. Another is a 30 minute pregnancy workout with Denise Austen(this one doesn't even get my heart rate up a little bit), and the last is a normal yoga video which is good but again, there are a lot of positions that I have to modify and I'm not completely sure that all the other things I'm doing are quite safe. I've been reading reviews of prenatal workout videos on Amazon.com and there's one that I'd really like to try because it's supposed to be fairly challenging even for those who exercise regularly and vigorously. If any of you are curious the name of the lady who does these videos is Erin O'brien. For those of you who continue to exercise during pregnancy, please feel free share some of the things you do. Ten more weeks to go!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Too Much Snow!


This morning we woke up to a ton of snow! We shoveled the driveway and sidewalks and by the time we were finished they were covered again and within an hour or so you could barely tell that we'd even been out there! Scott and the kids made a snowman which is something the kids have been wanting to do for some time now but our previous snows this year weren't quite enough to make a snowman. While they were putting him together Elisabeth kept asking if he was going to talk :)(we own Frosty the Snowman, so I think that's where that idea came from). We all had fun, though Charles kept falling down in it and after awhile he got pretty wet and cold and didn't want to be out in it any longer.

In my adult opinion, I think it's fun to have snow for a day or so if it's on a weekend and you don't have to go out, but I hate driving in snow, it's so scary especially when you have little ones in the car. Last year when we were living in Washington it started snowing and I decided me and the kids would drive out to my parents house (30 minute drive). The drive started out fine because we had hardly any snow where I lived but once we got within about 5 minutes of my parents house there was a lot more snow and it was slippery(they don't really clear the roads there) and Seattle has tons of hills everywhere and I had to drive up this HUGE hill and I got stuck on it for awhile and the kids were in the back and Elisabeth started crying because she was scared since we couldn't move. That was a nightmare. We ended up staying at my parents house for several days because I refused to drive in it until most everything had melted. Snow used to be so much fun when I was a kid: school was always canceled, even if we only got an inch, so we'd go sledding, build snow forts and when we got so cold that we couldn't stand it anymore we'd go home, and mom would have a fire all stoked and ready and hot chocolate to drink. Oh, the good ole' days :).

Friday, November 30, 2007

Toddler Going Down Stairs

I took a couple of short videos of Charles going down the stairs because it's pretty funny. He always goes down the same way: his right leg is straight and his left leg is bent and moves from side to side, and he gets going really fast so it looks funny. One of the videos I took from the top of the stairs and the other I'm filming from the bottom so that you can get both views... it looks even funnier in person :)

video video

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving afternoon, Scott and the kids went out to the airport (while I stayed home and worked on the feast) and picked up Grandma, Grandpa and Kelley Smith! We have had so much fun with them! It's so nice to have more family around, especially over the Holidays. Thursday we ate A LOT of food (all the food was good, & here's a pic. of the turkey cupcakes we made:), Friday I did some Christmas shopping, the men put up the Christmas lights outside and we put up our Christmas tree. Saturday and Monday and Tuesday the guys were working on other home projects like repairing the hole in the wall that Elisabeth made a couple of months ago, fixing some insulation problems and fixing a broken tile and putting in a wood strip to divide the carpet from the tile. We played LOTS of games, mostly Settlers of Catan and Boggle, the ladies did some more shopping, we were invited to my aunt and uncle's on Saturday to watch the BYU and U of U football game and eat some pizza and snacks, we attended a tree lighting and got to participate in some fun craft activities and eat free food (which is always a bonus), and we went to the mall so the kids could ride the carousel (since Elisabeth has been dry at night for almost a month!!!! yay!) and see Santa....though again this year, they didn't want to get too close to him. We're sad that Grandma and Grandpa have to leave tomorrow and Kelley on Thursday, but we're so thankful that we got to spend some time together! (all these pix were taken over our Holiday weekend even though some seem kind of random :))

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tagged!

I've been tagged and now I'm supposed to write 6 things that I don't think many people know about me:

1. I've been biting my nails since I was in the first grade. I started because one of my best friends did it and I thought she was really cool so I copied her (sad story of one following the crowd huh?). Right now I'm trying to quit. I haven't done it in probably a couple of weeks now! I have a very strong motivation though; Scott says if I can make it all the way to Christmas then he'll get me an elliptical machine (a used one of course b/c we don't have that kind of money :)), which is something I've been wanting for awhile.

2. I'm glad that the Hollywood writers are on strike. You see I have this Smallville addiction but since the writers have gone on strike I've decided to end my weekly tradition of watching Smallville. I've been wanting to quit for awhile and I'd always say the day after we watched a new episode that, 'that was the last one' but then when the next week would roll around I found myself turning on the tv Thursday night to check what it would be about and then I was glued! And that's the only time we pretty much ever watch tv, so it'll be good to be tv free at last because man, there is SO much trash in so many programs and commercials, from swearing to immodesty in dress, to violence (which is what Smallville was getting more and more of), to immorality and bad crude jokes, I just won't take it anymore.

3. I LOVE children! Kids and babies, they're just so sweet and innocent and they make me laugh so hard and I am completely comfortable around them even if they're strangers.

4. I don't eat chocolate. I haven't eaten chocolate for the last 5 years. I do have a reason for stopping, well two reasons. 1.) I was addicted to it; when I had a little bit it made me want even more! and 2.) ever since I was little when I would eat chocolate I'd get a bit dramatic and emotional. My mom says, one minute I'd be happy as can be running around the house and the next minute I'd be on the floor crying for no good reason. Of course when I got older I learned to control my moods more, but I could still notice a difference when I ate chocolate; it was kind of a comfort food and it'd make me feel good for a little while but then I'd feel myself get emotional or in my mind some silly issue that was once a molehill would all of a sudden seem more like a mountain, I know I'm a crazy girl who can't take any caffeine in her system :)

5. I have a fear of water. Not drinking water, in fact I LOVE drinking water and carry around my nalgene water bottle with me everywhere. I don't like lakes and oceans. I'm afraid of what's inside (and I've been stung by a sting ray which was one of the worse experiences of my life...and on my honeymoon!), and I'm afraid of drowning. I also don't really like swimming pools very much for the same drowning reason and when we do go swimming I'm very sure to stay far away from the drains just in case it sucks me in :), and I'm extremely cautious with my kids around water too. We took them on a ferry once and I almost died of apprehension! And so of course I won't be taking them on smaller boats :). (I know that this is silly of me, I'm trying to work on it, I've just had a couple of really bad/scary experiences with water).

6. I get all ready for bed around 9pm, even when I'm not pregnant. I like to put on my pajamas and get into my bed and then read, pray, write in my journal and have some time to talk with Scott before it gets too late and before we get too tired. This is something I really look forward to at the end of the day.

Now I'm going to tag Gina, Maren, Mary and anyone else that'd like to do this

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Preparations

Well, I really shouldn't be sitting down to write a blog right now because I have SO much to do, but I am :). We get to have Scott's parents and sister out to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday and we're so excited! Elisabeth is especially excited about having Grandma and Grandpa sleep downstairs in the room right next to hers since she's normally down there all by herself. They will be flying in from North Carolina Thanksgiving afternoon, as long as there are no delays or problems (we'll keep our fingers crossed, holiday travel can be crazy sometimes).

Last weekend we did most of the food shopping, and yesterday I bought the turkey which was a new experience for me, in fact practically all of the Thanksgiving food preparations will be new to us. Scott and I have been frequenters of the website allrecipes.com over the last couple of weeks. That website is so cool! They have pictures and video instructions on how to roast/brine a turkey, how to cut it, and how to make anything else that you could possibly imagine. And the recipes are rated from 1-5 stars by people who've tried them out and they always have lots of comments from others who've tried out the recipe and will tell you what they did differently or what they liked or didn't like about it. Last night I made some freezer sweet rolls and Scott got started on his caramel apple pie. Tomorrow we'll be baking bread and cupcakes (the kids aren't pie eaters and Elisabeth made a special request for cupcakes so I thought that'd be a nice thing to have for them...and me :)) and preparing the veggies and turkey and then of course Thursday our oven will be occupied from sun up until the late afternoon cooking the turkey and yams and rolls and whatever else. I'm a little embarrassed to admit this but I've never made real mashed potatoes before. We always use the boxed flake kind that you just add milk and butter to. I'm familiar with how to make real mashed potatoes because I've seen it done loads of times while growing up and I've read a lot about how to do it and lots of friends and neighbors have given me little helpful tips so I think it'll all turn out well. If not, well, we've got some boxed potato flakes in our cupboard that we can whip up real fast :). We actually really like mashed potatoes made from the flakes, but I'm just kidding, we won't really use those (I hope I didn't just worry my in-laws too much by giving all this information :)) . Just 2 more days!!! Hooray!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

O Holy Night

This is one of my absolute favorite songs and and when J.Gro sings it, it's just amazing! The video below is live from a couple of years back. I know, it's a little early, but I couldn't help myself....I never can. Some of my favorite music and movies are Christmas ones and it just doesn't seem fair that I can only listen/watch them one month out of the entire year! But my husband adamantly disagrees with me :), and that's okay, it kinda makes married life a little more fun, you know, gives us something very innocent to quarrel about :). I have compromised a little with our Christmas traditions and have agreed not to put up most of the Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. Though today we had a Super Saturday activity with some women in my church and we painted these really cool looking wooden wise men on their camels that I had to display...and I also put together our Christmas wreath today(I just buy all the pieces at Michael's, including a plain wreath for $3, and then put them together, it's amazing how much cheaper it is to do it that way and in my opinion they look just as good as the $50 ones), oh and I put a couple of our children's Christmas picture books out on display, so I guess that would have to count as Christmas decorations too. But other than that, I'm waiting to put up the others until after Thanksgiving. So here you go, enjoy it!

Baby Names


This is a picture of Elisabeth holding her two favorite babies. The cabbage patch baby came with a birth certificate that had her name already on it which is Evelyn. The other baby is one that her great Aunt LuAnn gave to her a couple of years ago but wasn't given an actual name until about a month or two ago, that name is Sikiyaka (sick-EE-yaw-kah). Elisabeth picked the name all on her own, and I'm not really sure how she came up with it but I thought it was cute. :) She did have some good friends back in Washington that were from Japan so I'm wondering if there is a Japanese origin to this name...or maybe not, who knows?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I love cake :)

I love cake. I love to bake cakes, I love to decorate cakes and I love to eat cake, and especially the icing, well but not just any icing, I really like my icing. That makes me sound kind of conceited, I know, but I'm not going to lie, it is just so so yummy to me. Unfortunately, because of my love for cake, two somewhat negative things have already happened: 1.) I'm sure I've gained some extra unnecessary warm thick love around my waist, thighs etcetera and 2.) I'm afraid that this love of cake and especially icing has already passed on to our two very young children. Both Elisabeth and Charles (and I) require large amounts of icing on our slice of cake and especially like to have a giant icing rose on top. Here is a picture of a cake that I baked this morning for a funeral tomorrow. It was a little difficult coming up with an idea for a cake for a funeral, but in the end I decided that I wanted it to be completely white, so here's what I came up with:















And I made some extra white roses for the kids and I to share :) (I know, sick, we're basically eating sugary lard, but what can I say, I love it!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Internet Filters

The other day we accidently mistyped the name of a website and we were surprised to find a very inappropriate website instead. This prompted us to look for a filter, since the one that we had obviously wasn't working. I found a filter from www.icra.org. It works so far, but it blocks lds.org. Has anyone found anything else? I must say I am uninformed on the subject.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mail

Every day, probably about 3 times a day, Elisabeth and Charles like to go out by themselves and check the mail. If I try and follow, Charles usually asks me to 'go away,' probably because I always intervene when he tries to check our neighbors mail as well :). Elisabeth checks the mailbox first and once she's done Charles climbs up on the cement slab next to the mailbox and then opens and shuts it several times, each time peering inside and saying, "nope, mail all gone." When they actually find mail inside they are just thrilled and I can always tell when we've received a package because Elisabeth just goes wild with enthusiasm!