Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Wrap Up!

We're in the last couple of hours of January and I feel like I should say a big "WHEW"-- I made it! I don't know why January is such a hard month for me-- after all, several of my very favorite people were BORN in this very month-- but every year I find myself trudging through it. This year, though, one of my resolutions was to change my attitude about the month of January and I think I did pretty darn well. Not that I'm sad to see it end!

So, the end of the month and a few more pictures to share!

January 23rd-- Date Night!

Since prior to January, Neil needed me to coddle and care for him nearly every second, Chris and I only used my family babysitters on a very emergency basis. For some reason, weening Neil has made him much more friendly to people other than me, so we were able to leave all three boys with my parents and go out with some friends. I love the opportunity to get a little bit dressed up and have some adult conversation! And I love our great friends! I think I may have to make another resolution not to wear out my welcome, so to speak, with the babysitting though!

Earlier that day...

Remember when I mentioned that much of our activity in an Idaho winter centers around playing in the snow? It does. Luckily, snow play can get pretty fun, especially when you include a nice gradual slope, cousins, and some slick sleds. Gordon is not a huge fan of sledding, but he likes to race on foot. I think he was mad at me because I said it was time to go home, but Tom and Dal sure look happy!

Speaking of winter play, I really want to try snowshoeing. In my head, it seems like the perfect winter sport-- kind of like hiking in the snow, right? I want to try it before this winter ends and see if it's something I could get into!

January 27th-- Pinewood Derby

Thomas (with the help of Chris) entered his first Pinewood Derby this year. Here's something I didn't know about the Pinewood Derby: they give you a box wherein lies a block of wood and some wheels. The rest is up to you (and your dad). We're not really tool people, so it was interesting to see Chris get creative on helping with this baby! Thomas drew the design, Chris cut it out and sanded it, Tom pushed the button on the spray paint, Chris finished spray painting and attached the wheels, Tom drew the smiley face, and some guy in the ward added some graphite. Oh, and I taped about $1.50 worth of coins on the bottom when the car weighed in at a mere 2 ounces.

The outcome: Tom's car, named "Tommy", won 4 races and lost 1, ending up somewhere in the middle. Perfect!

On the way home, we figured out that with the spacing of our boys, we'll be attending Pinewood Derbies for the next eleven years without a break! I think we're going to get pretty good at this!

January 28th-- Story Time

Gordon and I have been going to pre-school story time at the library on Thursday mornings faithfully since we moved here. It's a fun-filled half hour of stories, songs, and a craft, then we go to the children's section and pick out our books for the week. This month, my dear friend, Sherrie, who recently moved to IF (yay!) has joined us with her daughters. Now, most of Gordon's friends are boys, so it's been very fun to watch him interact with a very girly girl. He's a much softer version of himself, even though I still have to loudly whisper not to run and to use inside voices in the library. Cute little devil.

January 29th-- Big Judd's

Speaking of friends, a large group of friends from our ward went to Archer to the famous "Big Judd's" last night. It was so fun to hang out with some new families and eat really bad-for-us food. Later, Chris and I both felt a bit sick. I didn't take a lot of pictures, but I capture this moler shot of Gord and one of his new buddies.

Wrapping up, I have to say that this January has been one of my favorites in memory. We're loving Idaho, our friends and family, the crystal clear air, even the snow. I think I could even love January! Who knew?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thoughts on a Monday

I've decided that what I really need is an extra 4 or 5 hours in my day. Today, for example, I actually got a lot done-- I went visiting teaching, light grocery shopping (where I actually used a coupon-- perhaps I'll get on that couponing kick one of these days!), back and forth to schools, plus I washed, folded and put away two loads of laundry! Anyone who knows me well knows that I battle with laundry, so I'm chalking that one up to a major personal victory. Despite these accomplishments, I'm still feeling the pressure of the huge list of things I didn't get done today.

And now it's nearly 11 PM and I'm tired and ready to cash in for the day. Sigh. Maybe tomorrow I'll be Wonder Woman. For tonight, I just have to be satisfied with clean laundry.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Neil is the star of the show!

I just downloaded a bunch of photos and Neil is the subject of a huge percentage of them. Yes, he's a darling boy, but I don't think it's his looks that make him the star of the show. With Thomas and Gordon at school and Chris at work, I can't help that this little sweet pea is my almost constant companion. He's growing up so fast, though, and I'm glad I'm capturing the last few bits of his babyhood.

January 11th-- Golden Boy

I like crafty stuff and I've managed to accumulate quite the collection of supplies over the years. Neil really loves to peruse the little portable drawers I keep by my desk-- most contain harmless things like stamps and ribbon. Unfortunately, on this day Neil discovered the drawer that keeps a bunch of shimmery powders used for embossing and adding shininess to paper crafts. Apparently he liked the gold one best.

Lest you think I am one of those "nothing-ever-bothers-me" kind of moms, I'll tell you that I was EXTREMELY irritated while cleaning up this mess. I took a picture just because gold lips are kind of funny. Little stinker.

January 13th-- Neil's last morning in Mom's bed

It's been a mildly tough week for Neil and me, as we (I) decided to do what I jokingly call "breaking up". Basically, Neil has become an independent toddler-- he eats normal food and he sleeps in his own bed all night long. I honestly thought he would be a little bit more upset about our breakup, but he seems to be just fine. I, on the other hand, am still enduring the physical discomfort of weening and the slight emotional sadness at losing my human teddy bear.

January 16th-- Window Seat

I think that living in Idaho in January automatically equals lots and lots of snow pictures, because there isn't much else to do. It is pretty fun to watch the kids play from my nice, cozy perch inside. Neil likes it, too.

January 18th-- Thomas

Hooray-- a non-Neil picture! I love this random picture of Thomas-- he is becoming such a handsome boy. I love that he has Chris's green eyes and those long eyelashes, and I love that he has my nose and lips.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Caitlan!!

Today my sister, Caitlan, is 21 years old! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Next month, Caitlan is leaving for her 18-month LDS mission to Honolulu, HI. While no one regrets the location she'll be serving in, I'll miss having her here in freezing cold Idaho. It's been fun to hang out with Caitlan, eat her tasty and adventurous cooking, let her take the boys to the store (she asks to take them!), and give her all of the unsolicited life advice I can think of. She'll be a great missionary and I'm excited that she gets to have this fun experience. If I write any more, I might start to bawl, so I'll just stop, say that I adore my younger sister, and go upstairs and make her a spice cake. Yum.

Every day has a story

A bunch of my digi friends are tackling the 365 challenge where you try to take a picture every day for an entire year. I think this is an excellent idea, in fact, I even designed a few 365-themed scrapbooking products. As for me, though, let's get real-- it is taking me forever to finish big projects these days, and frankly, committing to this particular one feels like admitting you're a failure before you even start.

So, rather than commit to taking a picture every day, I'm committing to trying to take more pictures of everyday life. I've skipped a few days here and there, but I've also taken a few pictures of moments I wouldn't necessarily have thought of. It's been kind of fun and here's what I've realized: every day is significant. I like that idea-- it helps me feel like my life is blessed and meaningful, rather than just a jumble of hours, days, weeks.

I'm also trying to become a better point and shoot photographer. I'm going to believe in photographic karma-- if I can show that I am willing to put time and effort into my inexpensive P&S, I believe that the universe will reward my efforts with a much more expensive SLR. One can dream, right?

Onto my first few photos of the year!

January 6, 2010-- Snow Angels

It's freezing outside-- I mean literally FREEZING-- but that doesn't stop the boys from donning their snow gear and playing until they can't feel their noses. In fact, I think the fact that they get to wear layers and layers of extra clothing makes outside play even more fun. And they seem to play together so well when they're outside (maybe because they know they might have to huddle together for warmth!), so I'm all for it.

I think this may be one of my favorite pictures-- it's blurry, but you can still see the pure joy in Gordon's face as he chucks a snowball at me. I told him he could throw it, and I think being given permission to do something you might normally get in trouble for is all the more exhilarating.

One of these days, hopefully this next week, I'm going to try to get a photograph of our sunrise when I go out to warm the car up before school. It is amazingly crisp and clear, and the colors have been stunning. I didn't think it was possible at this time last year, but I may actually be enjoying January.

January 7, 2010-- Cupcakes

They're almost too pretty to eat-- almost. There is something about sprinkles and colorful frosting that make an ordinary Thursday afternoon just perfect.

January 7 (again)-- A light in the darkness

January 10, 2010-- Noodles

Neil is a very good, but very funny eater. He will eat nearly everything, but it must be on his terms-- sometimes he'll like something, then the very next day he won't even try a bite. I have yet to find anything consistent, except maybe macaroni and cheese and those mini clementine tangerines. On this particular day, he was happy to slurp spaghetti noodles, as long as Chris fed him like a little bird.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I'm so far behind in my blogging that the whole task is starting to haunt me. It's kind of depressing how often I think about blogging without actually doing it.

I wanted to give a recount of our Christmas adventures, but thought a chronological travel log would be a bit boring. So, I'm mixing it up and just sharing a few favorites by person. Here we go!

Neil is at that wonderful age where he really doesn't care what is going on, as long as I'm holding him. Actually, he's gotten better over the past couple of weeks-- he's walking! It's so cute, and I love the freedom his new skill is giving him (and me!).

Neil's favorite part of Christmas was the breakfast we had-- particularly the strawberries. He is becoming quite the independent eater.

What else to say about Neiler? He wasn't interested in the presents, although he did like to rip the paper. He grinned during the caroling, and loved eating the little mandarin oranges. Neil whined in the cold weather, but cheered up quickly when offered hot chocolate. He's a pretty easy-going little boy.

Gordon was disappointed to learn that despite the two pages of elf costumes in his favorite catalog (Oriental Trading Co.), we would not be dressing up for Christmas. He reminded me several times that his favorite holiday is Halloween and what he really wants is candy.

A couple of Gordonisms from the Christmas season:

When asked what he wants for Christmas: "Some fake smoke and some fake fire." On another occasion, "A dog I can stand on."

"We wish you a merry Neil-Na, we wish you a merry Neil-Na, and a Happy Neil-NA!"

When we went to see the lights in Salt Lake City, Gordon was beyond thrilled to ride on the Trax train. Just look at that smug satisfaction!

Actually, there was a little bit of dressing up for Gord-- he and his pre-school classmates got to wear reindeer antlers for their program. I love pre-school programs-- they are SO cute! Gord and his class acted out the Gingerbread Man story and Gordon was the gingerbread man himself! I think we have a little actor-in-training-- he sure loved being the center of attention!

Gordon enjoyed Christmas morning and probably liked the act of opening the presents even more than the presents themselves. He does love his camo-print jammies.

Overall, I think Gordon was pretty satisfied with his gifts, especially the candy in his stocking. Maybe next year I'll honor his wishes and let him dress up like an elf and go knock on peoples' doors. They'd probably get a kick out of it.

Thomas had a really fun month. He spent nearly every free minute playing with friends and cousins, eating the treats people brought over, and begging me for a Nintendo DS. My answer was, "nope," every time, but as you will see, I'm a pushover.

Tom is still young enough to gladly accept his role as "Joseph" in our nativity reenactment, but too old to smile like a happy little kid when asked. I'm already saving money for braces.

Another cute Christmas jammies picture... at least I think it's cute...

Ah, Christmas morning. Well, we didn't just present him the DS right away, which I think was very smart. After all of the other presents were opened, Chris told Tom to look behind the chair for one more present "we forgot about." He was so thrilled to open the DS-- and I definitely appreciated the very sincere thanks. It turned out to be the gift of the year as he has been pretty much glued to it ever since. Don't worry-- I'm not just letting him sit and vegitate-- he has to have all sorts of chores and practicing done before he can play!

Elise-- don't worry, I'm not going to talk about myself in the 3rd person.

I love Christmastime. I love the decoration, the food, the merry-making. It's such a fun time of year. This year was a little bit hard for me, mostly because I'm not in my own space. I didn't get my own ornaments out, and only some of my own decorations. Don't get me wrong-- my mom has really cute stuff, and much more than I have. But I missed my little things and the traditions that I've started with my own nuclear family, and I'm excited to get back to those next year.

I did make my traditional caramels, though, and they were fabulous. Mmm, I wish I had some right now.

I love being close enough to Salt Lake City to visit and see the lights on Temple Square. It was freezing, but there is nothing like lots and lots of little lights to get you in the spirit of Christmas.

My in-laws, Gary and Marilyn had Chris and me as their give-to couple this year. When Marilyn asked what we wanted, a thought immediately came to mind: a Nativity. We did have a teeny (as in less than 1" high) Nativity that we bought our first year of marriage, but it didn't survive our last move and I have been ready for my own large one for a while now. Marilyn asked what kind I wanted and my only specification was something unique.

The Nativity that showed up at our house (beautifully wrapped, of course) is absolutely perfect-- in fact, I don't think I could have picked a better one myself. My very favorite thing about this beautiful scene is the faces on the people-- so sweet, so pure... they remind me of my favorite Christmas hymn, O Come, All Ye Faithful. Don't they look adoring?

I love my sweet little scene and I know I'll love getting it out every year.

Speaking of in-laws, while visiting them in the early part of the month, Marilyn and I made these sweet felty trees she saw in a Garnet Hill catalog. Hers turned out pretty darn amazing, while mine is a bit Dr. Seuss-y, but I love it. Even more, I love that we crafted together-- it was so fun and festive. And now I have a cute new decoration!

Christmas itself was all sorts of fun this year. We ate tasty foods, drank hot chocolate, and enjoyed being with my whole family. Kristie made me some pretty bracelets-- aren't we cute?

I complained a while ago that I always stuff everyone else's stocking but no one ever stuffs mine, so Chris made up for his earlier lacking tenfold. Not only was my stocking full of my favorite things, he also had a half gallon of hand-packed Baskin Robbins' Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream sitting on the front porch just for me. Heaven.

My very favorite part of the holiday season was getting to spend time with my fun family. The kids always have such a great time together and we all enjoyed games and food and just being together.

Chris had a lovely holiday month, due in great part to the fact that for the first time in five years, he was able to take Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years day off. I have to say, I really don't miss the newspaper business! Chris also had a great time in December because he got to hang out a lot with my dad, my brother, his dad and his brother. He's a guys' guy, what can I say?

On a snowy Saturday in early December, Chris and my dad drove up to the Island Park area and picked out a lovely tree right out of the forest. The height limit was something like 12 feet... oops. After some adjustment, they put the tree in the living room, where it was just perfect. It's still there, actually, and still as green as can be.

It was just before Christmas when the Utes won their bowl game (Hooray!), but Chris was rooting for them long before that. He even made sure our gingerbread house was decorated for the right team.

On Christmas Eve, Chris spent a good hour putting Neil's little push toy together. I really do appreciate that he did it instead of me-- little plastic parts tend to frustrate me. Luckily, on Christmas morning, all of the boys were thrilled with their gifts and Chris was able to relax and joke around with Jake.

A few years ago, I bought Chris an atomic clock for his bedside. The boys thought it was pretty great and, after quite a bit of roughhousing, the LED nightlight stopped working. This year, I bought a new atomic clock and it's pretty cool. I like the fact that this one tells the inside and outside temperature, but the coolest feature is the projection of the time onto our wall or ceiling. Right now, Chris has the time positioned between us on the ceiling, and I love just opening my eyes for a minute to see it in the middle of the night.

Chris deals with a lot of confidential information with his job, so when he is done with it, he is supposed to shred it. Well, he doesn't shred-- he goes out to the fire pit and burns (insert Beavis giggle here). After all of the presents were opened on Christmas day, rather than fill the garbage can, Chris shared his burning habit with the brothers. Another Beavis giggle. Heh heh heh... Fire.

Here is the story of why I don't have any awesome photos from New Year's weekend at the Hansen's: the kids were in the car and Chris was anxious to get going to Salt Lake City on New Year's Eve. I was frantically looking for my camera-- I have a bad habit of putting it in strange places. Chris, finder that he is, finally located it and hooray! we were off. Ten minutes later, when we were on the freeway, my sister called to say that I had left the camera on the couch. "I thought you had it!" Hence, no pictures, but luckily, some very, very fun memories!