Monday, December 29, 2008

Just waiting for Santa . . .

The stockings are hung and the kids are in bed, excitedly waiting for Santa to come tonight! Joey and Michael even cleaned their room enthusiastically, when DH reminded them that Santa might check their rooms before leaving them gifts.

Oh, I know that at YOUR house, Christmas has come and gone, the presents opened, some no doubt broken already, the overflowing trash can taken to the curb (packaging drives me nuts!), and the battered tree holding on for just a few more days until you get the energy together to put it all away. But not here. We decided to celebrate Christmas Eve today and Christmas Day tomorrow. We emailed Santa and he was glad to have fewer houses to visit on December 25th, so here we are, waiting for Santa and the Christmas excitement to begin.

So why on earth would anyone delay Christmas? So they could hang out in sunny Arizona (ok, so half the time it was rainy Arizona, but still) and forget about the 11 inches of snow piling up back home:

DH's sister is in Sierra Vista for the next few months while her husband is in training at the Army base there. My in-laws decided to go there for Christmas, so we figured we'd take the chance to enjoy a warmer climate. We had an awesome time. Our kids earned junior ranger badges at four national parks or monuments:

The Petrified Forest,


Saguaro National Park,

Tumacocori,

and Montezuma's Castle.


We enjoyed the Painted Desert:


a mine tour in Bisbee,
and a hundred other things, including church and dinner with old friends, and Christmas Day with family. We stayed at a hotel while my oldest three spent two nights with my sister-in-law, Diane. They were there Christmas morning when her family of three (ages 4, 2, and 2 -- yep, she has twins too!) opened their presents. Diane said she felt like the bourgeois aunt who had invited the poor orphans over to watch her kids open presents. She may have felt that way, but my kids were still so excited and happy to open three presents -- one from us, one from her, and one from their grandparents. When we came over around 10 in the morning, all three came over so excited to show me their gifts! I was humbled to realize how simple Christmas can be and yet bring such joy. Lillian told me her favorite part of the day was watching her cousins get so excited over their presents.

So, in a way, my kids get to celebrate Christmas twice this year. We've never really traveled over Christmas before, and I don't know if we'll do it this way again, but it sure was fun!

And after all, what could say Christmas Eve more than watching a gunfight at the OK corral and eating lunch at a saloon in Tombstone?

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bright Spots in Dark Times

It's been an emotional, exhausting week for me. I spent Sunday through Friday in Boise, helping my parents through an experience that is beyond difficult. They are living in their worst nightmare as my dad struggles with a debilitating illness.

I took Harmony with me to Boise -- a nursing mother and her infant are not easily parted -- leaving the other six children in the very capable hands of their father, my mother-in-law, and a few neighbors and friends. DH scaled back his work schedule this week, my mother-in-law came for two days, and a few friends helped out here and there. In my preparations to leave, I was grateful to realize just how many friends I could call on, so many that I didn't even call half of them to help.

Harmony, by her very presence, helped in a small way to relieve the burden at my parent's house. She gave my dad something to smile at and my mom something fun to focus on. So it was more than significant, at least in my mind, that Harmony chose this week to learn a new skill:




No, not crawling, though she does scoot around in circles and move a few feet after toys. Nope, this little barely-four-month-old is up on her knees and rocking! Pretty amazing, and a good reminder that there are bright spots even in the darkest times.

For those who want to see more of my amazing little girl, here's a video of her new skill:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Visiting Santa (a.k.a. Who Knew?)

At our ward Christmas party last week, my kids were delighted to visit with Santa. After a few years of watching your kids interact with Santa, you learn a few things. Mostly, you learn that your kids are either hilariously unpredictable or hilariously predictable.

* Eliza was not impressed with Santa. Aren't we mean to make her visit him anyway?



* Sarah thought Santa's beard was just like a kitty and kept petting it. She wanted a My Little Pony for her room, even though Santa thought she wanted a big furry pony that you could ride. At the end, she turned her thoughts to the real reason we have Christmas and said want we all want to say but are too polite to say: "I want some candy."



* Allison wanted art supplies. She told me ten times in line that she wanted art supplies. By the time she sat on Santa's lap, however, all rational thought left her and all she could manage was "Skateboard." (Skateboard, skateboard, what's a skateboard?) Trust me, she doesn't want a skateboard.




* What can I say? I just hope Michael doesn't ever win a shopping spree. There he is, with Santa ready and anxious to grant all of his desires and all he can say is he wants a bouncy ball?



*Joey, at eight years old, believes whole-heartedly in Santa. He made a list a month ago of what he wanted for Christmas and we made sure Santa chose just the right present for him. All I can say now is, it wasn't a microscope. This particular Santa, however, must not have remembered that, because as he said, "Oh, I think we can get you one of those," I realized I'm in trouble. Anyone know where I can get a cheap microscope? By the way, the next day, when Joey was acting rotten and his dad told him he'd better be good so Santa will bring him presents, he protested, "Well, Santa already said I'm on his good list!"



*Lillian helped Santa leave out his presents for everyone last year, but she was a good sport about playing along anyway.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dear Santa, do you take requests?

I took a load to D.I. today but made the mistake of taking some of the kids along. Just as the workers were dumping the bin of toys out, Sarah spotted “my brush! OH, MY BRUSSSSHHHHH!” I searched through the mess and found two pony brushes, neither of which was the one she wanted.
She cried harder -- "No it's pink with sparklies!"

She cried and cried, but I got back in the car and drove home. I told her that maybe some little girl who didn’t have many toys would be so happy to get that brush. She considered that.

Michael patted her on the shoulder, “It’s okay, Sarah. Mommy did the same thing to me. She gave away a bike I really liked to D.I.”

I told her maybe Santa could bring her a new brush. "Yes," she said, "that very same pink sparkly brush from D.I." (Uh oh; we're in trouble, I thought). I told her maybe Santa could bring her an even better brush. By the time we got home,
I thought Sarah was feeling okay about the whole situation, but then I overheard her conversation with Allison.

Sarah: “Mommy gave my special brush to D.I. My pretty PINK one!”

Allison: “Oh, I will go find your special brush right now.”

Sarah:“You can’t! It's gone FOREVER!" Sniff, Sniff.

So, Santa, it it's not too much trouble, it would sure help me get on Sarah's good list if you could find a small beat-up pony brush for her stocking. Make it pink. With sparklies. Perhaps you could check at your local D.I.?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Second Photoshop Gift

Wendy sent me these two pictures of her cute family at her sister's wedding. I swapped one head, took out the archway in the background and ended up with two fun photos for her!



Sepia:

Color:

First Photoshop Gift

Here's my first Photoshop "Pay it Forward" gift for Chalice, my talented friend and amazing photographer!

Original:

Photoshopped:Original:

Photoshopped:

I still need two more sign-ups. Come on. I know you've got some pictures you want fixed!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Photoshop Services Gift

Brandy had a great idea for a fun holiday "Pay it Forward" exchange.

"Here's the challenge. I will send a handmade gift (Photoshop services, in my case) to the first three people to leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay it Forward Exchange. You will receive your gift within a month of leaving your comment. The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same comment on your blog within a day or two."

Since I'm not crafty, I'm offering up free Photoshop services for the first three who comment and want to play along. Be sure and sign with your email so I can contact you and you can email me your photo projects. Want me to swap some heads? Turn a blah photo into a dreamy masterpiece? Collage several family photos together? Make a custom Christmas card? Sign in and let me know. I'll get right to work and return it to you by the 17th of December.

You can pay it forward by offering whatever gift your own talents can manage on your own blog.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Free Christmas Cookies

Scrapbook-Elements has a treat in store for everyone! From now until Christmas, log in each day to download a special treat -- Christmas cookies! Be sure you're logged in and visit the Cookie Jar Forum to download your treat. Inside is a cookie as well as a recipe and a coupon!


My contribution is this great cookie alpha, which has been split into three sections and will be available on three random days only. Be sure to unzip your files because each cookie includes a coupon code good this month only at SBE!


I also included a 4x6 recipe card with my favorite rolo cookie recipe!

Monday, December 01, 2008

So I have this problem . . .

I try to treat my twins equally, especially when it comes to their representation in the family books, scrapbooks, and blog. But here's my problem: I try to save just the best photos of each girl. Sarah is easy to get great shots of -- she smiles and poses perfectly every time she sees a camera:
Even when she's striking a silly pose, she knows instinctively how to look cute:

Allison, on the other hand, is harder to capture, leaving me with images such as these:





I'll ask her to smile and get something like this:


So while I try hard to have a good mix of pictures of both girls in our family scrapbook, I've noticed that for 2008, I have a whole lot more pictures of Sarah. And they're adorable photos, so I'm using them. But I feel a small twinge of guilt, knowing that someday Allison might look through and notice the difference. Of course, I'm using pictures of her as well, just not as many and not nearly so cute. So you see my problem. I love them both to pieces and think they are both adorable, but the family scrapbook, at least for this year, seems a bit biased. I realize the fate of the world does not rest on me capturing better photos of Allison, but I sure wish I could do it.

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