Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

We always do something fun as a family for New Year's Eve, but don't have any traditions, per se.

I wanted that to change this year.

So, I hunted around and found some new ideas for New Year's... that are the beginning of traditions!

First off, when the kids went to sleep Friday night, I un-decorated the tree.  The rest of the house was already un-decorated from Christmas and put away; I just needed to finish the tree.

After all of the ornaments were off and organized, I re-decorated it with a fun idea I saw on Our Best Bites.

This is our first ever New Year's Tree:

It looks pretty fun, up close.

Sparklers, horns, glasses, and silver balloons that were filled with fortunes hung on it.

However, when you back up, you see that it looks kinda ugly and top-heavy:

Just what you gotta do with a 2-year-old... couldn't let him get ahold of those balloons and sparklers.

The kids were SO excited when they woke up and saw the tree!  Luckily, I left a few balloons on the ground for Josh, or he probably would have knocked that tree over to get to them.  ;)

We got the house super-duper clean while Mike was at work.  When he came home, we went out for one last meal.

I saw a fun idea to go out to a buffet on New Year's Eve; sort of a last meal before diets and resolutions begin.  But, we decided that buffets in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve were not a good idea.  So, we went to Chili's.

It's a little extra-significant, because we made the decision to not eat out at all this next year, so we can get outta debt and get a house.

Which means:

Not a burger on the way to school, when we run out of bread and Grace needs lunch.

Not a McDonald's ice cream cone in the summer.

Not a $5 pizza when the kids are sick all day, and I haven't made dinner.

Not Cafe Rio.

And not the sodas from convenience stores, that Mike is sooo addicted to.


For reals.

So, we ate one last meal out, and said 'good-bye'.

Then we came home, got the kids ready for bed, and partied!

We blew horns:

Popped the balloons and laughed at our "fortunes" for 2012:

(I think the favorites were "You will eat broccoli for breakfast" and "You will pass gas unexpectedly".)

Then we lit some sparklers:

This picture below is really funny.  Adam has been reading Harry Potter since... well, since I told him that his (slightly younger) cousin was finished with the second book, and he got jealous.  ;)  So, maybe a few months?  Anyways, he has been reading Harry Potter like crazy, and has been putting spells on us ever since he began reading.  Josh must have picked up on it, because he took his sparkler and chased Adam, yelling: "Leviosa!  Leviosa!"

(As in "wingardium leviosa")

We all died laughing.

We counted down at 9:37 (who says you have to countdown at a certain time?) and put the kids to bed.

This is the first year ever that we all haven't stayed up until midnight, but we had early church in the morning, and I did not want grumpy kids.  ;)

Mike and I stayed up to watch the awesome Las Vegas fireworks (on tv) and take down the tree.

I am LOVING the beginning of our new New Year's Eve traditions, and LOVED our fun family night together!!!

Happy New Year's, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Warm Winter Days

Today was a too-warm-for-winter kinda day.

So, the kiddos and I headed down to the park to take advantage of the weather.

It was a new park for us, and was pretty fun!

Hello Expensive Day!

Adam and Grace outgrew their shoes approximately 2.5 seconds after we bought them in August.

Good grief, right?

And I even bought them a size bigger, thinking that we'd get a little extra time out of them.  I begged them to hold off until winter break, and then we would get some new ones.

(That sounds mean.  I mean, if they were really, really bad, I would've bought them new ones sooner.  But, they were just snug).

By winter break, though, they were pretty tight.

So, today being payday, we went and bought some new ones.

No, rainboots were not bought.  Though Grace always tries to convince me to buy her a pair.

Buying 2 pairs of quality shoes for kids is expensive enough.

Today, though, I happened to need a refill of this baby:

This is a Symbicort inhaler.  The only thing that remotely helps my asthma.

And it costs me $102 to refill it.

(I am thankful for insurance, though, because without insurance it would cost over $200).

It was an expensive day, for sure.


Paydays in my single days used to mean fun things like a new outfit or new makeup, or going an seeing a movie.

Not anymore.

But, I will take being a grown-up and being a mom to these three cuties, over new clothes, anyday.

Our 2011 Nighttime Reading Books

At the end of last year (2010), I was reading something (helpful, eh?) about President Gordon B. Hinckley.  In this something that I was reading, he talked about sitting with his family, reading books to each other.

It was something that I wanted to start; we read lots of picture books each day, but I wanted to start the tradition of reading a chapter (or more) each night to my kiddos, of a longer book... a classic book.

We began in January.

This past year, we read:

Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
By the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
My Father's Dragon (Ruth Stiles)
Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
Stuart Little (E.B. White)
The Littles (John Peterson)
The Chalk Box Kid (Clyde Robert Bulla)

We generally read a few picture books, while they finish getting ready for bed (a little incentive to get them get ready quicker), then do a song, scripture reading, prayer.  And then, we read a chapter from our book.

It's not always easy.

Especially when I'm exhausted/want to strangle one of my children.

But, it's become one of my favorite parts of the day.

Because, even if they were a total punk all day, something magical happens when I begin reading.  They all cuddle in close, I get to breathe in their freshly washed hair, and we go into a different world together, as I read.

I fall in love with them again in that moment, while we are all cuddled together.

It's magical.

I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true.

This next year, we are going to read the books by Roahl Dahl, starting with Matilda.

Then C.S. Lewis.

And, I hope that when it's all said and done, that maybe they will look back with fondness like President Hinckley did, at our nights together, cuddled, and reading.

(And maybe, just maybe, they will forgive for me for the times I said, "I'm going to strangle you.")


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Temple Nativity

Today was a crazy, pull-my-hair-out, fish-multiple-toys-outta-the-toilet, scrub-shampoo-off-the-couch kinda day.

Mike came home, and took one look at me, and told me to go to the temple.

Honestly, my recommend expired a month ago, and Mike keeps working late on the days of the stake interviews, so I haven't renewed it yet.

But, I did grab the Ensign, and went down there, thinking I could read and think.

It was soooo nice.  Really, really nice.

Something that I need to do much more often.

As I was leaving, I decided to walk around, and noticed this nativity.  The Las Vegas temple doesn't do the beautiful Christmas lights, like the Mesa Arizona temple does, but they have this sweet nativity, that I just love.

It was the most perfect way to finish up the Christmas season.

Kids' Christmas Pictures

Each year, we get the kids' pictures taken, and give them as gifts to family for Christmas.

(Super creative, I know.  But, my kids are so cute, so how can they not want a picture of them?)


This year my friend, Raylyce, took their pictures and she did such a great job!  She wanted to play around with a Christmas background that she saw here on Pinterest, and they turned out so fun.  I love them!

How can someone so innocent and cute be soooo much trouble?  Agh!  I die I am so in love with him.

It's partially selfish, I know, but I love that I'm guaranteed to get a picture of them each December.


Thanks again, Raylyce!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Scripture Reading 2012

I am terrible at remembering to floss my kids' teeth, folding laundry, and getting them to school on time.

However, we read scriptures every single night as a family, no matter what.

(So, they may have bad teeth, wrinkled clothes, and tardies a mile long.  They are spiritually fed at least, right?).


For the past few years, we have been following the scripture reading plan outlined in the 2008 Friend.  In it, you read certain verses from a different book a month; you basically hit all of the "stories" throughout the Book of Mormon.  The kids get to glue a stone for each book read, so it makes it fun for them, too.

We read 5 verses a night, and call it good.  It's been really good for our family, and has helped us develop a habit of daily study.

I saw a new version in the January 2011 Friend called "Book of Mormon Feast", and I am SO excited!

Adam actually noticed it and ran it to me, and asked if we could do it this year.

It goes week by week, and has verses and a corresponding picture to color in.  We begin on Sunday, and are excited about a new year of family scripture reading, and a new way to keep track of what we read!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Grammy Day 2011

We had our annual Grammy Day with my family today!

Grammy Day has been around since Adam was 6 months old.  We always have food that begins with the letter "G" and decorate gingerbread houses!  My cute mom works really hard at collecting and packaging candy all year so we can have a fun day!

In the past, we have done Grammy Day celebrating at night.  This year, we did it in the morning, giving the kids ALL DAY to work off their sugar high.  We had gingerbread waffles, gingerbread pancakes, grapes, goldfish, gummy bears (someone snuck that one in!), grape juice (and apple juice, too) for breakfast.  

Then we got down to decorating!

Nate and Jess assembled the houses for everyone:

Then Papa (my dad) helped Grace with her vision of candy all over the house:

I helped train Josh in the proper placement of gingerbread house candy:

(Next year, my mom has promised me that I get my own graham cracker house, so I will leave my kids' houses alone.)

All done:

They all turned out soooooo cute!  I love helping/decorating the houses!

Afterward, we went outside to play and burn off that candy!

Adam had pack meeting tonight, and received 3 belt loops.  It was so fun that it worked out so that family was in town for it!

They are leaving tomorrow, and we will miss them like crazy!  But, we are so glad for the fun that we had with them and the time we got to spend together!  Being with family just makes the holidays so special, and I'm grateful that we don't live too far away from family.

Thanks for coming up, braving the crazy Las Vegas Strip (and my living room carpet), and spending such a fun time with us, R* family!  We sure love you all!

Monday, December 26, 2011

R* Family Christmas Visit

My parents, my brother, Nate, and his girlfriend, Jessica, were able able to come up from Phoenix for a day-after Christmas visit!

I love stretching holidays into multiple days of fun.  ;)

Last year, I sent my Dad an email after seeing some beautiful handmade, wooden toys on a blog, and told him I wanted one of each for Christmas for the kids.  I know that makes me sound like a mean daughter.  But, my dad is seriously talented and I knew that it would be sooo special for the kids to get a homemade gift.

He worked really, really hard and spoiled me (and the kids) with some beautiful handmade toys!

He made Josh a rocking snail:

Pictures don't do it justice.  It is so darling!

He made Adam a Pinewood Derby box.  Which is perfect because Adam has talked about little else for weeks, since getting his Pinewood Derby car earlier this month:

He made Grace a bunkbed for her dolls (and my mom made the bedding), which was just a perfect place for Hannah to sleep:

Uncle Nate also gave each of the kids a gift.  He is leaving on his LDS church mission to Korea in February, so this is the last Christmas we will have with him for 2 years.  It was so sweet of him to spend some of his hard-earned plumbing money on them!

We also opened up stocking from my parents.  My mom works all year to do a stocking for everyone; stockings were always my favorite gifts at Christmas growing up and I love that she kept up the tradition!

After gifts, we had leftover R* family Christmas Eve (pulled pork, beans, stuffing, veggies, salad, olives) food.  It was so yummy!

After dinner we convinced them to come see the Bellagio Christmas display/fountains with us.

It was such a fun and special day!  I'm soooo glad that they were able to come up for a special after-Christmas visit!