Monday, January 28, 2013

Oh, January

Oh, January.  You are my least favorite month of the entire year.  After such a busy, fun and magical month that precedes you in December, you are such a let down.  You come in with your coldness (unusually cold here this year- 20 degree weather is cold for Seattle), and boringness- there is nothing to look forward to.  Spring and Summer seem years away and your cold, rain and fog are zero fun without the festivities of Christmas to help distract. There are no fun events in your month, or in any month soon to follow.  I would think I would be glad for a low key month after the craziness that is December, but you are too long, sullen and dreary for me.  And unfortunately, I feel the same about your brother February. 

Bah-humbug, right?  I've always felt that way about January.  Fortunately, we've made the best of a long month.  Mitch's new thing is to ask me everyday, "Mom, what are we going to do that's fun today?"  My answer is usually "Be together as a family."  We've done lots of that this month and loved it.

Here is the every day doings of our (long) month of January.

Chloe loves playing school and recently has found 2 new willing students.  I often hear her excitedly shouting, "Blue!  Say Blue!"  "L- say L!  E- say E!  A- say A!  H- say H!  Leah!"  The twins will pretty much do whatever she asks.

It's pretty cute.

We've had lots of yucky fog this month.  After a week straight of thick, dense fog, I decided I'd rather have rain (that's saying a lot for me).  It made the days even darker than rain and dangerous to drive in.  I carpooled home from a meeting with some friends one night during the fog and we could hardly see a thing.

Our mailbox at the new house is down the street.  It's not really that far away, but much, much farther away than at our old house.  Far away enough that I don't like getting the mail anymore and will ask the kids to go to get it instead.  They love their new job.  I Spy Mitch in this foggy picture, on his way back from getting the mail- can you?

Chloe was just behind him with the twins.  I was able to stand on our back deck and take these photos. 

Later that evening, the kids helped Ben plant some fruit trees we received as a gift from his boss at work.  One is plums and the other is assorted apples.  In 2-3 years, we will be enjoying some delicious fruit right in our own front yard!

The kids were thrilled to help, but during down times would jump on bikes and toys and ride around in the dark.

Neither of our 2 neighbors has small kids at home- I'm sure they must LOVE us and our loud, crazy ways.

My sweet boy Mitch.  When did he get so old looking?

Ben's back has been acting up again, but he was a trooper and, amidst the pain of all the bending over, squatting and shoveling, he still got those trees planted.

Chloe and Mitch took their job of watering the trees very, very seriously.

While Chloe is at school, the little girls will often get into her stuff.  Leah found Chloe's dark pink lip gloss one day and painted her lips up nice and pretty.  Apparently she was going for the "full lips" look.

On Mitch's days off from school, these 3 become best pals.  Their favorite thing to do is watch movies together.  They are a cute trio when they are playing nicely together.

In the middle of the month, I took the twins to get their hair cut.  It has been almost a full year since they last got it cut.  They were both in great need.

Lexi sat perfectly still.

Leah needed one the most.  Her long, wispy hair was not so stylish anymore.  As scraggly as it was getting, I was still a little sad to see it get cut off.  These are no babies I have anymore.

She did a great job at sitting still too.

I was bummed when I looked back through my pictures and found that I didn't get any after shots!

The next Sunday, I curled their hair for church.  Lexi was so excited about it.  Leah, if you can tell from her face, was not very excited.  She forced this smile for me and then said, "I do NOT want my hair like this!"

I thought it was adorable.

Oh, my sweet Lexi girl.  Sometimes I think I could have 12 more just like her.

The man of our house got a robe for Christmas.  He feels pretty darn cool in this thing.  (Does anyone else think Hugh Hefner?  No, just me?) 

I was in charge of finding volunteers this month for a blood drive at church.  The volunteers needed to run the nursery and hand out snacks to those who gave blood.  We were short on volunteers, so I took a shift in the nursery.  I had the twins and Mitch with me and they were all troopers for coming with me and spending 2 hours in a small room with just coloring books.  (And sharing an iPad 3 ways).

Ben got our Wii hooked up in the basement one Saturday morning and became the most popular person in the state.

The kids have had a blast playing on it together.

One of Mitch's favorite things to do is make himself sandwiches.  And he takes great care and time to make a good one.  If we have all of the supplies, his Super Sandwich includes lunch meat, cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes.  Minus cutting the tomatoes, he can make the entire sandwich by himself.  And his favorite part is eating the whole thing!

On MLK Jr. Day, with no school, we celebrated and opened our first jar of canned peaches from this summer.  I was hesitant to open one because I don't want to see them disappear- we put in lots of hard work and long hours!  But they were delicious, and they are meant to be eaten.

One Sunday after church, we went to a friend's house for games and treats.  As we were leaving to go home, one of our friends' little girls showed us her fun trick of getting up on a ledge above their doorway.  Mitch was super jealous of this and kept begging to get up with her.  We consented.  He loved it.

He was very nervous getting down.

Brynn's way of getting down looked much more fun (and scary)- she jumped right off into her dad's arms.  Too bad our dad has a bad back, and a mom that doesn't like watching scary things involving her kids. :)

Chloe recently started Activity Days at church (now that she is 8 years old) and last week was their Recognition Night.  Each girl was asked to do a report on an ancestor.  Chloe chose my maternal grandma, her great-grandma, Amanda Grace Taylor.  She joined the church when my mom was just a few years old.  She lived in the South where the church was very small and where her family as not supportive of her.  They thought Mormon's were very bad people.  But my grandma showed faith and courage by staying strong in the gospel and never wavering.  She is such a great example to me and my family.  She was the first member of the church on my mom's side and we are so grateful for her choice to be baptized.  It has been such a blessing for all of her posterity.

Chloe in front of the display table- she brought pictures of my grandma and also the pink blanket she crocheted for Chloe when she was born.

Chloe did such a great job reading her report on such a wonderful lady.  We love you Grandma!

The brownies and ice cream at the end were pretty great too.  She belongs to a great group with some truly fantastic girls.

When Mitch is at school, it is just the twins at home with me.  We watched some friends the other day and the twins were perfect little hostesses.  They immediately took the friends on a tour of the house.  I heard Leah say, as she dragged one of them upstairs, "This is my room, and this is Mitchell's room, OK?"

It was fun to see them interact and play so sweetly with their friends.  They loved showing them where all the kid board games were.

They must have gotten into 15 of them.  Most of them they didn't even know how to play, but making up your own rules is more fun anyway.

This past Saturday was Chloe's first basketball game.  We recently signed her up for her first year of basketball through a program in Auburn called "The Upwards Program."  It came highly recommended from many friends and I have been extremely pleased so far.  It is very well organized and the coaches are fantastic.  The skills the girls are learning are top notch.  They have been practicing for a few weeks.

Before the game started, they had the teams line up and the cheerleaders formed a line and they announced all the players' names and numbers as they ran out onto the court.  Very cool.

Both teams, coaches and refs met in the middle of the court and said a pre-game prayer.  (The program is run through a local church).

Leah was pretty cranky the whole game.  We never really could figure out why.

The game is split into 6 quarters.  Half the girls play each quarter.  Chloe sat out the first quarter, then played in quarters 2, 4 and 6.

The first half of the game was a learning time- learning how to play real defense and offense in a faster paced style than practice. 

She didn't even touch the ball during offense for the entire first half of the game.  At half time, Ben and I pulled her aside and told her how to get open and how to call for the ball.

It worked!  She got the ball and shot it several times in the second half.  None of them went in the basket, but we were very proud of her for being more assertive.

She was the official "out-of-bounds passer" the entire game.

It was a great first effort and we are excited to see her learn more and improve throughout the rest of the season!

Ok, January- just 4 more days of you!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter Break

We had a very enjoyable winter break.  Having Ben home with us full time for so many days was the best thing about it.

I had one quest I wanted to accomplish during the break- finding a bigger Christmas tree on the Christmas clearance shelves.  We've always wanted a bigger tree (ours is 6 ft) but our old house just didn't have the space for anything bigger.  Now with more room and higher ceilings in the new house, it was the perfect time for the tree we've always wanted!

We started looking at Sears!  Riding the "alligator" (as my little's call it) up to the Christmas section.

We started the quest (and boy was it a quest) the day after Christmas.  I wanted to find the best selection possible.  Unfortunately, most of the places we went only had 6 or 7.5 foot trees available.  We were looking for something a little big bigger.  We looked at 3-4 stores that day.  Finally at Walmart, we found a 9 foot tree.  Perfect!  It was 50% off- perfect!  We hauled that bad boy home.

We set the tree up after the kids were in bed.  It was a great tree and a great size.  Unfortunately, half of the lights on the tree didn't work.  I was so bummed!

So at 8:30 p.m., I hopped in the car and returned the tree and looked at a different Wal-mart.  No luck.  Back to the same Wal-mart that we found the 9 foot tree.  They had no other 9 footers, but they had lots of 12 foot trees.  I grabbed one of those (it came in two large boxes) and hauled it home.

at 10:00 p.m. that same night, Ben and I set up the 12 foot tree.  It was the mother of all Christmas trees.  It came in 5 different pieces.  The first and second section alone was taller than our old tree.

Old tree on the left, 12 foot on the right.  It was so big and so tall that it dwarfed our old one.  It was hilarious.  And we didn't even have the topper on the tree yet- it was still missing one section.

We had to use our step ladder (which after the 3rd section was useless) to assemble the tree.  To get the topper on, we had to lay "the beast" down on its side on the floor, attach the last piece, then hoist it back up.  If you can tell from the picture, it is scraping the ceiling and bent because it is TOO TALL!  The tree should have fit, but the stand it came with was a good foot or foot and a half tall. 

It was a beautiful tree, but a little too much for that room.  I was so bummed!

Over the course of the next week, I must have went to 5 or more different stores in search of a tree.  Every store only had 6 or 7.5 foot ones. 

So my quest was a big fat fail.  I guess I will have to buy a 9 foot tree next year before Christmas at FULL PRICE.  Bummer.

On the 27th, we went to The Museum of Flight in Seattle, which was free to Boeing Employees that day.

They have a great kid section with lots of airplanes and toys to touch and sit in.

The twins co-piloted and flew a helicopter.

Mitch tried his hand at hang gliding.  Not his best sport...

They all loved the astronaut cut out.

Friday the 28th we headed up to Cabela's- Ben's favorite store, pretty much.

The kids love feeding the fish.  We gave them each a quarter and they threw their food into the water and watched the fish gobble up the food.

Saturday the 29th we drove up to Ensign Ranch.  It's just over an hour drive from our house.  We met Ben's family there to go sledding.  Boy were our kids excited!  We don't get the chance to sled very much in Seattle and when we do, it's nothing this fun.

Aunt Beth and baby Preston.  Aren't little kids so cute in snow gear?

Chloe and Stella must have taken 50+ rides together.

The twins have never been sledding.  I had no idea how they would handle it.  They did awesome! Lexi really amazed me.  She had absolutely no fear.  After a few rides with a buddy, she grabbed a sled and rode down all by herself.

I think the adults had the most fun, though.  Daring and challenging each other to go off the jumps.  It was hilarious.

Rhiannon had the best jump and landing of the day.  She didn't even know she was going to do a big jump- Ben offered to push her and at the last second turned her sled towards the bump. She got lots of air and made a very graceful landing, I must say.  You rock Rhiannon!

The only bad thing about sledding is walking back up the hill (especially with a 3 year old). 

Nana wasn't so sure about going down the hill at all.  But we convinced her, and Johnny hopped a ride with her.

This is how Papa took 2 little boys down with him.

There they go!

If Lexi got tired of waiting for a sled, she just sat down on her bum, lifted her legs up and just went down sled-less.  It was so cute.

This is Leah's "Please don't take my picture Mom" face.
Seriously Mom. 

I was seriously amazed at how fearless my kids were.  So cute (and funny) to watch their little bodies fly down an icy hill.  They wrecked and crashed and were flown from the sleds and it hardly bothered them a bit.

Meredith was the designated chair sitter.  She was just 4 weeks away from being due with baby #4 and sat out on the sledding.  Probably best, after some of the landings we saw and experienced that day. :)

We had such a great time.

Nana and Papa got creative on how to go down the hill together....

The whole group of us- 23 in all! 

We sledded for just over 3 hours, then headed up the road to a Burger King and ate dinner and let the kids run around at the play land.  Such a fun afternoon outing.

2 days later, on New Year's Eve, we had our friends the Casperson's over for Ben's famous ribs. 

Between the 2 families, there is 10 kids.  All 10 of them squeezed around our table.

The kids played games periodically throughout the night.  Mitch was happy to share his Hungry Hungry Hippos game with one of his favorite people, Brynne.  Isn't she adorable?  (He does NOT like to be teased about Brynne).

After dinner, we put on a movie for the kids in the theater room.

The adults started a game upstairs while the kids were occupied.  Unfortunately, home court advantage did not help either of the Andros' to win.

Later, Ben turned off the lights in the theater room and pulled out his strobe lights for the kids.

They danced and ran around.  They loved it.  I snapped a few quick pictures, then closed my eyes.  Strobe lights do not do my head (and migraines) any favors.

Back upstairs to put on a dance video for the kids.  It was good entertainment.

Then Ben challenged 5 year old Brynne to a hand stand contest.

Our friends left around 9:30.  The twins had both crashed earlier and had been in bed for a few hours by this time. 

We opened some bubbly and celebrated the New Year with the two oldest- then promptly sent them off to bed.

We had so much fun with the Casperson's that they came back over the next night for pizza, treats and more games and movies.

New Year's Day was gorgeous.  This is the view from my bedroom window.  I don't think I will ever get tired of that view.

At night, you can see all the city lights beyond the trees.  It's beautiful.  Love it!

Happy New Year!  We are looking forward to a bright and prosperous New Year full of new adventures.