Friday, December 23, 2016

Shepherd's night 2017

ha ha ha....I can't get over how excited Megan looks to be sleeping on the floor. Maybe her Shepherd's Nights are numbered?

On the bright side, we got Mathew back this year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Clarke Musical Christmas!

The Clarke's organized their 3rd Annual Musical Christmas.

Mom was happy to attend, especially since it didn't involve standing outside in freezing weather in the wee hours of the morn. I concur.

Mari and Martin did a rockin recorder duet! I have recorded it for posterity and possible future blackmail needs....he is the bishop, after all, and I am terrified of being called as the choir director. I need insurance.

Then Charles got up and sang a very charming old-timey song about Grandma's feather bed. It was adorable and I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach.

Fred and Dylan made us all laugh. They were funny. And very prepared.

Why do I forget to prepare something every year? This isn't a sing along! What is wrong with my memory? Everyone showed up with a well thought out musical number and I figured I'd just join in with a little harmony on Silent Night....


Even sweet Megan knocked it out of the park with her "O Holy Night". It really was fantastic. She doesn't seem to have inherited my performance anxiety.

Next year! Next year I'll remember. Maybe I schedule my phone to give me a reminder in 11 1/2 months.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Candlelight Tatertots

It's our candlelight tradition! This is one of my favorites...because even if you are having sloppy joes and tater tots, if you eat them by candlelight, you can count it!

I just want to say again how much I love having my mom here. Even candlelight tatertots seem awesome when she's around.

Gingerbread freestyle...with Pizelles! And Grandma!

Well, I'll tell you. 

I'm plum out of original ideas for the Gingerbread houses/forest/train/village. 

So this year we bought loads of not-so-delicious graham crackers from Aldi, made a double batch of royal icing and let the kids loose. 

Although, this year we did spot some very cute pizelles at the store and they made adorable accents for our structures. 

Mom took her time and built an adorable classic gingerbread house, complete with little wheat chex shingles. (And isn't her shirt cute?? It really POPS!)

Everly won the Tallest Gingerbread Tower award. Also, pizelles are pretty tasty. They kind of remind me of a flattened sugar cone.

Laney was wise and patterned her house after Grandma's.

Megan's reminded me of a movie theater. I just know they are showing a chick-flick in there.

The boys all popped in at the last minute. Just in time to put something together for our group photo and make fun of my gingerbread pagoda.

Gingerbread houses! 2017

Ice Skating takes the plunge

It's Ice Skating party time. And it's still at 9 pm...ugh. 9 pm is too late for everything. Except for maybe my kids to be asleep and me to be up watching multiple episodes of Parks and Rec. 

But this year I am going. Grandma Kathleen isn't going (lucky!) and so she was able to keep an eye on the little ones while Mark and I took the three oldest downtown. As the official "swing kid", Laney had the choice to come with us or stay home with the littles....she is a smart girl and decided a super-duper-push-the-beds-together-drown-in-stuffed-animals-slumber-party was the way to go.

Megan has been waiting for 364 days to step out onto that ice again. She may have been a world-class figure skater in another life. We'll never know because she's already taking piano lessons and we can only handle one thing at a time around here.

Ethan and his best buddy, Reuben, getting their skates on.

Megan was whippin around the rink in no time.

Ethan and Reuben found a prime spot to scoot around....near the girls.

Mark went in for some hot cocoa while I clutched desperately to the side of the rink. All I could think about was that time we went ice skating in Young Womens and AnnaLisa Clark took one step onto the ice and broke her wrist 3 seconds later.

No thank you. I fiercely guard my ability to feed myself these days.

But! I will say that it was fun, I am super glad I have warm coat, next time I'll bring a blanket to sit on, and I think the little girls could handle it.

Next year we'll bring the whole family!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

She's here!!! Let's make bread.

Mom arrived yesterday and we quickly inducted her into our advent rotation. Finally, I can give her that box of mint shortbread cookies that I have eaten three times and had to drive back to the store to replace. I need help!

I've noticed that I've let a lot of our old traditions fall by the wayside this year. I think it's because what I really want to do is just hang out with my mom! Why run to the plaza to battle the traffic and look at the same old lights when I can have the expert teach the kids (and me) how to make braided bread the REAL way. 

We discovered that a teenage man-child is key in developing the necessary elasticity for awesome bread.

He can really SLAM it!

I love having her here and I am relishing the opportunity to relive some of the traditions she started for us when we were kids and that have become a part of my own children's childhoods.

I can't think of anything better.

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's a gift

I am strangely proud of my ability to guess the precise number of paper bags it will take to pack up my cart of groceries. 

I almost never buy too many. 

I think I deserve a raise.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


This weather is perfect for fuzzy socks, mugs of cocoa and space heaters. 

And for big sisters that are willing to help the little ones suit up and experience the wonders of winter.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Watching Maybe

Our friends, the Flynns are out of town for a couple weeks and we are taking care of their pets. 

They have:
  • one chill, friendly bunny
  • one bunny that is destined for a garage sale in the near future
  • 2 gerbils
  • a cat named Malcolm
  • and a dog named Maybe...all she needs in life is to have food, go to the potty and have someone scratch her hind end...around the clock.  

She missed her family and we did our best to show her lots of love, but the butt scratching was sub-par. She needs a LIVE IN butt scratcher.

Hang in there, Maybe....they'll be home before Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Super Fun night...Christmas edition

I haven't figured out a lot of the parenting things. 

For one, how do you get your kids to care about giving gifts to each other? Do you bring it up? Do you ask them to make something homemade? Do you give them money and drive them to the store and make suggestions so they don't end up wasting money on some weird thing that they would like more than their sibling? Or do you just forget it and let it happen naturally. 

I really don't have the answers to these questions. 

But this year, in an effort to have them invest a bit more into the gifts that they get for their "person", we held one of our Super Fun Movie Nights to help them earn the money for their Christmas shopping. 

We watched the Good Dinosaur and set up several different play stations: 

Ice Cream Shop:

Train Depot:

Puzzles pajamas:

Medieval Castle:

Need a break from the crazy:

and Sugar Cookie Redemption:

Everyone survived and we made enough for each kid to spend about $15 dollars on their person. I like it!

Now we just have to find some way to get them all to the store without taking 6 separate trips and without giving away any surprises.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rogue One. we don't need no social graces!

It happened again! Some company that wants to continue doing business with Mark's company paid for their clients and families to see the new Star Wars movie the night before it was officially released. We took the oldest three and gave Laney the choice....she's a swing kid! She felt like staying home and playing with McKenzie sounded like more fun. 

Mathew and Ethan couldn't resist a light saber battle.

Mathew won the battle, killed off his brother and confiscated his weapon.

They did not inherit my embarrassment gene.

Meg and I were happy to smile and enjoy our free treats.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The year of felt

This year I decided to make felt ornaments as gifts for the kids advent calendar surprises as well as one for each of my family members.  I love looking for good designs and coming up with a pattern I think each person would like. 

So fun! 

Here are the completed projects...

Top: a pincushion for Lara
2nd row: holly for Heidi, a cat for Everly, a snowbird for Kaira, winter trees for Joe and Jean, Pusheen for Bri, a fox for Jordan, a chickadee for mom
3rd row: cubs logo for Mark, flag for Ethan, scared gingerbread man for Mathew, snowflake for Megan, grey wolf for Laney and deer for Anna.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dear Neighbors, it's okay to spit it out.

No procrastinating the sugar cookies this year! We need a treat to deliver to the neighbors(the advent calender said so), a treat for Family Home Evening and an activity....for Family Home Evening. Sugar cookies qualify for all three.
See how I'm getting smarter every year? I used to put multiple activities in each pocket. Now I make one activity satisfy multiple expectations.

The little girls and I did the cutting and baking early in the day. It's better this way. You know what they say about cooks in the kitchen. 

Later, everyone was able to decorate their allotted cookies. We've learned our lesson about an ounce of organization saving you from a pound of fights.

They turned out pretty cute! Simple and tasty. Or maybe just simple. After dropping them off to 6 or 7 of the families that we live by every day, we bit into our own cookies and I realized (with horror) that they were TERRIBLE. Possible the nastiest cookies I've ever had. And I've snarfed up my share of sub-par cookies in my life.

Maybe we should start a new tradition of ding dong ditching our neighbor gifts. Deniability is the key here.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent 2017 - Carol play along at the Johnsons

Marie Johnson hosted a Christmas carol play along for any musical kids that were interested. Megan brought her snare drum on the first day and really held her own! She didn't have any music or direction, but she just played along, making it up and trying to match the style of each piece. It was very cool. 

The second week, Ethan joined in. Mathew forgot to bring his trombone home from school. Like ever.

I love this! And how brave is Marie?