Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Around the World

My sister is on the International Folk Dance Team at BYU and they are absolutely amazing. They put on their big Christmas show this past weekend and I decided to take Annabelle to it. Since Sarah is still nursing, she had to come as well. I dropped Jillian off at a neighbor's house where she would stay until Michael got off work. She was very teary-eyed when I told her goodbye. Once we got to Provo, we met up with my sister and walked around campus. I haven't done that since I was there going to school 7 years ago. It was great.

The show was absolutely amazing, as it always is. Annabelle really enjoyed the show. It was very kid friendly. Way to go, Amber. You were AMAZING!

Here we are waiting for the how to start.

The beautiful Amber!

We had a great day. Then things got bad. We stayed at my aunt's house that night and about 3 in the morning, Annabelle started throwing up. She threw up the rest of the night and on the drive back home. I feel so bad for my aunt, my dad, and my grandma's husband, who all got sick as well, I think because of their being in contact with Annabelle. She got better about 12 hours after she first got sick.

Then early Monday morning, I was sick throwing up for about 12 hours, then felt better, and that night, Jillian was sick for about 12 hours. It was a miserable start to this week. Michael also got sick, but I think he had something closer to the flu. Fortunately, he's feeling better and we're hoping we're done with sickness for a while.

The Christmas trees

Last year as I was putting up the Christmas that Michael and I bought for our first Christmas together, I decided that it was the last year for this tree and I would take advantage of the sales after Christmas and buy a new one for the following year. My reasoning for doing this is that this first tree of ours is pretty dinky and small and it leans heavily to one side. I'll admit I was a little embarrassed to have it show through out front window. As planned, the day after Christmas last year, I bought a new 7.5 ft tree for 50% off. This tree is now our upstairs, nice tree and the smaller tree is downstairs for the kids to call their own.

On the day that I was putting up the kid's tree, Annabelle wanted to help decorate but a friend came over to see if she could play and she opted to do that instead of put up the tree. She said she'd help me with the upstairs tree. So Jillian and I were left to decorate the tree. She had a blast putting the ornaments all over the tree.

The next day, it was time for the nice tree. I was super excited to see how this on would turn out. Because it's much bigger and taller, it took more than twice as long to fluff out the branches. Annabelle again got invited to play with friends and I didn't let Jillian help me too much with this one, so it was just me. When Michael turned into our driveway after work that day and saw this magnificent tree peeking out through our front window, he thought he was at the wrong house. I am so glad that I got this new tree because I LOVE it!


We had a great Thanksgiving holiday. We visited Michael's parents. It was a little stressful for me because Sarah wouldn't let anyone hold her but me and Jillian was suddenly being very clingy as well. If I wasn't in the same room as Jillian, she would tart freaking out. It was quite frustrating at times.

Thanksgiving morning, I ran the Turkey Trot with Michael and his brother. Considering I hadn't been running in a week and a half, I did pretty well. And of course, Thanksgiving dinner was absolutely wonderful!

The rest of the time was spent visiting and playing. We also played pickleball, I saw the final Twilight movie with my mother-in-law, went for a Christmas stroll, played on the wii,, watched lots of football, and played board games. It was a fun trip. Thanks Robert and Cynthia for letting us visit.

Water park

We had a very interesting start to our Thanksgiving holiday this year. Instead of driving straight to Michael's parents' house (a 7 hour drive in good weather), we decided to drive 5 hours and stay at a hotel in Billings that had an indoor water park, including 2 three-story high water slides. We wanted to give our a kids a new experience and remind them that even though we don't let them buy ice cream from the ice cream truck or spend change on candy from a vending machine, we still love them and are pretty cool parents.

Michael had a lunch meeting and Annabelle had school on Tuesday, so we left early that afternoon. We didn't have great weather for driving and soon after we left, Sarah spit up quite a bit. Then 2 minutes before pulling up to the hotel, Jillian threw up pretty badly. She tends to have motion sickness. Not to mention it was way past all the kids bedtime. Needless to say, we were pretty exhausted when we got to the hotel. But as soon as Jillian got cleaned up, the kids were going crazy. They couldn't calm down. They were so excited to be at the hotel and go swimming in the morning. It took them forever to go to sleep and Annabelle was coughing all night due to a cold. Since we were all in the same room, nobody got a lot of sleep. The next morning, we ate some complimentary breakfast and got right to the pool. It was awesome!

Sarah wasn't quite sure what to make of it and Jillian had one tantrum, but overall, it was really fun. The slides were really cool. They wrapped around and twisted and even curved outside. Annabelle couldn't get enough of them. One of them was perfect for her. You rode a tube down the slide and you could go with 2 people or by yourself. Annabelle started by going with Michael, but was soon doing it by herself.

In addition to the slides, there was also a wave pool, hot tub, activity pool with a basketball hoop and lily pads to walk on, and a huge water park. I'm glad we decided to stop there. The 2 hour trip from Billings to my in-laws' house was great because everyone slept almost the whole time.

Sarah was crying because she was so tired when we got to the hotel that Michael put her in the corner. Don't worry, he only let her sit there long enough to get the picture.

Along the hallway as you walk from your hotel room to the pool, there was a video game with this gun and Michael decided we needed a picture of Annabelle holding the gun.

A view of the slides from the freeway.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When hitting is acceptable

Compensation for being home maker

You know the days where you you're struggling to make it from hour to hour or even minute to minute? If you have to fold even one more load of laundry, or break up one more argument between your kids, or change one more poopy diaper, or deal with one more temper tantrum, you'll explode? Well, today hasn't been one of those days for me, but the next time I'm struggling with the daily routine of a stay at home mom, I'm going to read this note that Annabelle left for me tonight while I was gone. It makes it all worth it.

Just so you know, the drawing is a picture of me doing Annabelle's laundry. The purple squares with the black circles are the washer and the dryer. Look at how happy I am to be doing laundry.

Cute Thanksgiving craft

Annabelle and Jillian wanted to make some sort of Thanksgiving craft so we made turkeys out their hand prints. It was a huge hit. What kid wouldn't love getting to paint with with hands?

A night in Russia

Sunday night, we hosted several youth and adults from church so Michael cold share some of his experiences as a missionary in Russia. There was a good turnout and it was fun to hear some of the stories and see pictures.

We wanted to give people a taste of Russia so Michael found some recipes and asked if I would make them. I agreed and ended up spending 6 1/2 straight hours in the kitchen making 3 or 4 batches of Russian black bread (which I hate to say was horrible. Not because of anything I did, but because of the ingredients. I followed the recipe to a tee.), pirozhki (kind of like a hot pocket filled with meat and eggs), and chocolate chip cookies (obviously not Russian. I just wanted to make something I knew how to make and something I knew would turn out delicious even if the other foods didn't). Both the bread and the priozhki were very difficult to make because the dough for each wasn't like any dough I was ever used to making. The pirozkhi dough was made out of flour, sour cream, and a little bit of butter and that's it. I had to keep adding more and more water to make it even remotely dough-like. It was all worth it though. Michael said the food was close to tasting like what it tasted like in Russia. But most importantly, I think it was an uplifting experience for everyone.


Beauty and the Beast

Annabelle and I attended the musical Beauty and the Beast put on by the high school. It was the absolute best high school I have ever seen. The cast was great. The girl who played Belle belongs on Broadway. The live orchestra was one of the best I've heard from a high school. The high school is brand new and the auditorium is huge and state of the art. It was a great experience. Annabelle absolutely loved it. Her favorite part of course was seeing Belle come out on stage in her yellow ball gown. And of course, she had to get a picture with her.

I bet I can make you smile...

Sunday, November 4, 2012


A few weeks ago, our ward had its primary program. Annabelle's assigned part was very long, so we cut out a few lines. But she memorized it and did great.

Both Annabelle and Jillian love to sing. As soon as one starts singing (it doesn't have to necessarily be a song they know. A lot of times, they just make up the words and the tune as they go), the other one has to start singing as well. Neither one can be out sung by the other, so they just get louder and louder. It's quite funny for the first few minutes, but after that, you're ready to tape their mouths shut.


It was such a beautiful day on Friday that I decided to take the kids to the park. My kids are huge fans of swings. Sometimes, we'll be at the park for 30 minutes and almost the whole time, all they want to do is swing. I end up running back and forth between the giving Annabelle an underdog on the big swings and pushing Jillian in the baby swings. This was the case last week, although the kids did take a swinging break to play in the leaves, which made for some cute pictures. Sarah was most especially interested in the leaves. I couldn't get her to keep them out of her mouth!


Halloween Fun

Halloween day was filled with lots of fun activities. It started with a Halloween parade at school. All the kids in school paraded around the halls for the parents and siblings to see their costumes. Of course, I had to get Jillian and Sarah dressed up in their costumes as well. One of the faculty members had a great giraffe costume and Jillian was obsessed with it.

Sorry for the video being sideways.

Later that afternoon, we went trick-or-treating to an assisted living home where I volunteer to play the piano every month. The residents were sitting in big circles with bowls of candy and they would just hold out their bowl and let the kids grab handfuls of treats. Some of them didn't remember which kids had already gone around the circle. I was busy talking to someone before I realized that Annabelle and Jillian were halfway through the circle a second time. Needless to say, by the time we got home, they had so much candy that I almost didn't see any point in going trick-or-treating around our neighborhood.

I took the kids out trick-or-treating and Michael stayed home to hand out candy. The kids did great and got a good amount of candy. One of Annabelle's favorite things she received was this set of vampire teeth.

Actual Halloween Costumes

We had a great Halloween this year. Part of what made it so special was that I decided to hand make the girls' costumes. Please note that I HAVE NO SEWING MACHINE! Yet, I did it anyway. I asked Annabelle and Jillian what they wanted to be and their responses were a mermaid and a peacock, respectively. I chose Sarah's costume for her - an octopus. I was most concerned about making a mermaid tail. I planned on making up my own pattern and would be hand sewing everything. I should have taken pictures during the process. It was quite a difficult feat.

I started with Jillian's because I was most excited about it. I bought a teal colored headband and tied different colored tulle to it to make the tutu. Then I cut out pieces of felt to make the feathers.With her peacock feather headband, teal shirt and black pants, she made one of the cutest peacocks I've ever seen.


Sarah's cosutme was next. It was super easy. I just stuffed 6 pairs of socks and glued them to a ribbon to tie around her waist. Her own two legs served as the additional 2 legs. Annabelle and Jillian had a blast stuffing the socks with me and helping me glue the buttons on.

 I purposely put off Annabelle's costume because I had no idea what I was doing. After Annabelle picked out the color of material she wanted, I started by sewing the waistband. I had to redo this twice, but finally got it so it would stretch around Annabelle's legs and sit comfortably around her waist. I took 2 wire hangers and shaped them like the 2 sides of the fin and sewed the fabric around them to keep the shape. Then I sewed down the back of the tail. It looked better than I expected it would, but Annabelle couldn't walk very well in it, so she held it up off the ground the whole time she wore it and you couldn't even tell it was a mermaid tail. Oh well. She loved it and that's all I could have asked for. We added jewels to her shirt and headband and the mermaid outfit was complete.

I love with how her hair turned out with the headband. She looked amazing and so grown up!

And here they are all together. What a bunch of cute girls!

I was very please with how all 3 costumes turned out and considering that Annabelle and Jillian have worn theirs several times since Halloween, I think they liked them as well. However, it was a lot of work and took a lot of time, so I think I'll take the next few years off and buy them their Halloween costumes.