Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bring On December!

The tree has been trimmed:

The "25 Days of Christmas" list has been framed:

(click to enlarge to see what our "25 Days of Christmas" activities are)

25 Christmas books have been wrapped:

(we unwrap one each night)

The Advent calendar from my grandma, Nano, has been hung:

Stuart is in his first hiding place:

The empty manger (and a bag of straw) are waiting all of the kind acts we are going to do, as a gift to Jesus:

Our Christmas countdown book (with a song/scripture/story for each day of December), is ready in it's place under the tree:

This December is going to be c-r-a-z-y.

I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be... bring on December!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

North Pole Breakfast

Stuart, our Elf on the Shelf, flew down from the North Pole today, ready to report to Santa on all of the good things that Adam, Grace, and Josh are doing.

(I don't like the whole you-better-be-good-or-Santa-won't-come idea. It seems to work better if I focus on the good things they do.)

We had a little North Pole breakfast this morning to greet him! Complete with white powdered donuts, white milk, and clementines.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas from Phoenix

We got a really fun package in the mail today from Grandma and Grandpa W*.

It had the kids' Christmas bags in it (which included the special ornament that Grandma W* makes each year for each of them-a mouse this year), some treats, and a toy.

It also had our Jesse tree ornaments in it. I was so excited to see them... exchanging Jesse tree ornaments is one of my favorite traditions.

(It really is one of my favorite traditions. Even if I'm a slacker and still haven't mailed mine down there. I'm sorry!)

We love getting fun mail... especially at this super-fun time of year!

Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa W*!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Rest of Thanksgiving Break...

... included eating leftovers for days.

Though, truthfully, I really only care about the stuffing/cranberry salad, and Adam really only cares about mashed potatoes.

The rest of the family had a fairly-balanced Thanksgiving diet.


... included the traditional breaking of the wishbone by Adam and Grace.

Grace won.

She wished to be able to "touch Stuart."

Stuart is our "Elf on the Shelf", and if he is touched, his magic leaves.


... included busting our Christmas decorations out of storage and getting our house all Christmas-y.

There may have also been some Black Friday shopping (done by Mike... because he rocks!) thrown in there, too.

It was such a fun family weekend!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We had the most perfect Thanksgiving this year!

(The only way it could have been better, is that if we had been able to be with extended family. Missed you all!)

The day started with watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, looking at the newspaper ads, and snuggling in our pajamas. We also caught a bit of the dog show afterward, and Josh went crazy... that boy LOVES dogs!

Then Mike and I got cooking, and alternately entertained the kids with:

... a puzzle

... a craft

... and a game.

Finally everything was done around 3:00. We had Mike's turkey, my Nano's stuffing, my mom's cranberry marshmallow salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and rolls. It was all sooooooo good!

We also had root beer (a Rice family tradition).

(Don't think that I left Mike's family traditions out... he wouldn't cooperate with my desire to "merge" our families traditions into one, and wouldn't share any. Rude! :) )

After dinner, we went to the park and played some football.

Adam and I (the Cowboys) versus Mike and Grace (the Saints).

Mike and Grace won. By 30 points.

We played on the playground until the kids couldn't feel their hands.

It's how we roll around here.

Then headed home for pumpkin pie and to watch a movie we hadn't seen yet (but that the kids had been dying to see): Cars 2.

For scriptures, we read about being grateful for everything (the good and the bad), and had a good family discussion about it. A perfect end to a perfect day.

We are so, so, so blessed! I am so grateful for a day to focus on all of the things that Heavenly Father has given us.

And now, we get to enjoy the best part of having Thanksgiving on your own: ALL of the leftovers!

Which means I don't have to cook for like, a week.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall at the Bellagio

Tonight, as a special kick-off to our Thanksgiving weekend, we took the kids down to the Bellagio to see the fall display of the conservatory.

It was the only "season" display we haven't seen there, and it was awesome.

The Bellagio conservatory always amazes me. The fall display featured HUGE pumpkins (the largest was 935 pounds!), apples and pumpkins made entirely of flowers, and glass-blown huge leaves. It's so beautiful!

We watched a few fountain shows afterward, before heading home.

Fun family night!

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast

All 4 kindergarten classes (2 half-day classes, 2 full day classes) combined for a HUGE kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast today!

Mike had the day off of work (and go watch Josh), so I got to go down and help! It was sooo fun!

I made a huge pan (12 pounds!) of sweet potatoes for the event!

They all came in cute pilgrim hats that they had made in class. They sat down, colored Thanksgiving placemats, and we served them with food. Grace got a little sad (she was the very last one to get served food, for some reason), and was worried that she would be forgotten, poor thing!

After dessert, they made 2 more crafts, before going out to the playground (a rare treat for half-day kindergarten!), while I helped clean up.

I love being able to help out and be with my kids at school. It's the best! I'm so thankful for the wonderful school that they both go to and for the fun teachers who work hard to make learning fun!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

End of Wrestling/Gymnastics + Pack Meeting

Adam and Grace have been doing wrestling and gymnastics for about 6 months now. They've learned a lot, and had a lot of fun, but we were talking, and decided that it's time for something else. I want to expose them to a lot of different things, so that they can figure out their strengths and talents (but only 1 at a time!).

Today was the last day.

Adam is really great at wrestling, and has learned a lot of moves. He's also become more confident and "tougher" when he does get hurt.

Grace learned a lot in gymnastics, and has mastered the splits and backbends.

And since it was the last day, we went ahead and let Josh have his way with the foam pit. He jumped in it over and over and over, laughing like crazy each time.

Next up: Grace is thinking about trying soccer, and Adam wants to try rugby.


After their sports, we had pack meeting.

They learned about the first Thanksgiving, and ate these darling turkey cupcakes. Too, too cute!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Doughnuts with Dad

Today Adam and Grace's school had an early-morning Doughnuts with Dad breakfast.

Mike switched his schedule around so that he could go, and they had a blast having breakfast with him!

After breakfast they looked through the book fair and bought some books with the money we had given them in exchange for their Halloween candy.

(I feel so super-smart right now. Getting my kids to read and preventing cavities? Amazing.)


I'm so glad that Mike as able to go and that they all had such a fun time together!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday (To Me)

Today I turned 30.

Something that I dreaded the entire year I was 29.

I woke up, though, and thought, "I'm 30. It's the start of a new decade. I can be a new person. It's going to be great."

I decided then and there to change some things.

And I was pretty excited about it all, until I went to get Josh out of his crib, and saw that he had been sick.

I thought it was the 2% milk that we had been trying him on (he seems to have outgrown his milk protein allergy, but we're taking it slow), but his sickness remained all day.

Through 22 diaper changes, to be exact.

Which meant I had to cancel on my sweet friend, Jessica, who had offered to take the kids so that Mike and I could go out on a date for my birthday.

(He ended up having Rotavirus, and it lasted for the next 4 days... we went through almost 100 diapers. Poor Josh!!!)

Adam and Grace fought all day, talked back, and I cleaned and cleaned and changed and changed Josh.

I was pretty much in tears, by the end of the day.

Then Mike came home from work with some beautiful flowers and a handwritten letter to me.

He told me to go out and take a break.

I went to Wal-Mart and bought a hair straightener with my birthday money.

And came home to some homemade key lime pie:

It turned out pretty good after all.

AND, I figure with a day like that, my 30s are all uphill from here!


I'm so blessed with such a wonderful family and wonderful friends!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Playdate

We had a fun Thanksgiving-themed playdate today with Danielle and her kiddos today!

We played "Don't Eat Tom!" (a Thanksgiving version of "Don't Eat Pete!"), played turkey hide-and-seek, made cookie pilgrim hats, and had a Thanksgiving-themed lunch.

It was a really fun day!

I love playdates, because not only do my kids have fun, I have fun being with friends and talking.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chilly Park Day

Adam and Grace have a 4-day weekend for Veteran's day going on right now (yay!), and Mike is in the middle of a 6-day work week, and has to work late tonight (boo!).

So, after a morning of chores, the four of us headed out to the park for a picnic lunch and fun! We were in desperate need of grocery shopping, so we made do with some $1.99 happy meals. :)

It was a really chilly day, in the 50s, windy, and cloudy. It kept sprinkling on us, but the kids kept on playing!

Across from the playground, a popsicle stand was having a party, giving away popsicles and playing music, to drum up some business.

It wasn't exactly the right day for popsicles, and they didn't have many takers (there was hardly anyone at the park).

So, when they asked us to take a box, we happily obliged.

Shivering and all.

I love, love, love when we get to do stuff as a family.

But, being out with my three kiddos, and getting them all to myself, is pretty great, too.