Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas dresses

I told Elizabeth to go sit by the tree, and she sat practically in the tree.  Silly girl.
With Christmas being on Sunday this year, after we opened presents we hurried to get dressed up so we could go to church.  Maddie insisted on wearing her new crown for the picture.  Those are some happy girls.  They must have had a fun morning.

Christmas Eve

We got home from our trip in time for a super quick dinner of freezer waffles.  I know, I know, it's what everyone dreams of for their Christmas Eve dinner.  Or not....  The rest of the evening was spent unpacking, watching a church movie about the Nativity, reading Christmas stories and getting ready for Santa to visit.
 Cookies and milk for Santa on the special plate I made this year at Super Saturday.

The Week Before Christmas

(These are just a bunch of random photos from our trip.)

We went to go visit family before Christmas.  We left Thursday morning and stopped by my grandma's house for a quick visit.  
(Yep, this was the best one out of several pictures.  My children are against all looking at the camera at the same time.)
 Ryan needed to take a nap Friday after lunch.  About an hour into it, Maddie decided she needed a nap too. 
Elizabeth helped Aunt Brynne with some very important chocolate confections.
Then on Christmas eve morning, we opened presents with Ryan's family.  The kids were very excited to be able to open presents before Christmas!

On our way home, we stopped by my aunt and uncle's house and saw a bunch of my cousins that I haven't seen in a long time.  The kids all had a great time.  They made up a couple of puppet shows and ran around like children really, very excited for the Christmas holiday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And what to my wondering eyes should appear...

This morning I got a text from Ryan asking me to bring him something after I dropped the kids off at school.  So I dropped Emma and Elizabeth off at school, ran by the post office, took two books back to the library and headed over to the high school.  I called Ryan to let him know we had arrived (I'm not going in wearing my fleece pj pants), and Ryan came to the car looking like this:
He's threatened to wear a Christmas sweater to school for the last couple of years.  He actually went through with it this year. 

And I was worried about being seen in my pjs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Car Trouble

Several weeks ago I left the twins unattended in the car while I unloaded groceries.  I had unbuckled their seat belts, but instead of calmly exiting the vehicle, they ran giggling away from me.  I figured I had the keys- how much trouble could they get into?

Well, I found out.  Our little change drawer in the car was empty, and the next time I wanted to play a CD I couldn't get the CD player to keep the disc in.  Apparently Annie and Maddie are predisposed to become slot machine fiends. 

Ryan took the dash of the van apart was able to shake out about 13 cents.  Unfortunately he couldn't get all the change out, and the damage had been done.  Our radio worked, but we lost the next CD I put in.

I won a $100 VISA gift card a couple of months ago, and I've been thinking it would be nice to have a CD player that works.  So tonight we went for a drive to go find ourselves a new one.  And about halfway there, one of our headlights died.

10 miles later, flashing lights signaled our need to pull over. 

We got a friendly warning that we needed to fix that headlight.  Ryan apparently didn't have any warrants out for his arrest, and our vehicle hasn't been reported as stolen, so we were free to go again.  (I assume that's what they are checking.)

We picked out a new car stereo, ate dinner, ran by Costco and started home.  And the flashing lights greeted us again.  We were laughing when the state patrolman came up to Ryan's window.  He wanted us to know that our headlight was out, and we told him that he wasn't the first to tell us.  And he let us go without running Ryan's license information.

The kids were placing bets on if Daddy would get pulled over a 3rd time tonight.  We were going to sing Jingle Bells to the next guy.  They were really excited about it.  They told Ryan to drive faster so he could get pulled over so they could sing to the policeman.  Ryan considered driving around town until he did get pulled over.

They didn't get the chance to sing. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Concert

Emma had her 3rd grade Christmas holiday concert this week.  They learned a Hanukkah song, a Kwanzaa song, a Christmas song in Spanish and Christmas songs.  The kids also showed off their art projects they've been working on in Art class.

Emma and her teacher at the end of the program.  (The jumping blur in the background is Elizabeth.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Miss Austen

Today is Miss Jane Austen's 236th birthday celebration.  To celebrate, I wanted to share a link with you.  Several "Austen-esque" authors collaborated to write a story of how all Miss Austen's heroes, and a couple of the "villains," got together to discuss what to get their esteemed author for her birthday. 

Jane Started It- A hero's guide to gift giving

I found it laugh out loud funny, but perhaps you need to be familiar with all of Miss Austen's works (and maybe a few of the "sequels") to really appreciate it. 

Happy Birthday Jane.  Thank you for giving us your wonderful stories, and your wit and wisdom.  I have spent many a happy hour lost in your written world.

Then there is the matter of your movie adaptations.  Thank you for this:

 And this:
 And this one too:
(I don't own this one.  Maybe someday. --added later-- I won this movie from one of the giveaways.  It arrived yesterday and I watched it today. 1-4-2012  yay!)

I think I will celebrate by watching one of these movies this afternoon instead of doing something productive.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Newletter 2010

Dear family and friends,
Season’s Greetings!  It’s been a busy year (just like every other), and I am scrambling trying to figure out a few things to share with everyone in the form of the infamous Christmas newsletter and put them through a test:  Does it qualify as interesting (my kids’ uncanny ability to hide sippy cups so they won’t be found for a week…)?  Is it bragging too much (I’ve taught my kids to kill their own spiders on occasion)?

Emma (now in 2nd grade) has been in various states of toothless-ness throughout the year.  She started piano lessons this year, so she’s been entertaining us with the noise beautiful music of a budding pianist.  Emma is often found totally absorbed in a book.  (“Oh, it’s dinner time?  I didn’t hear you call me those 20 times.”)  In fact, she read the first Harry Potter book not long ago, and was rewarded by getting to watch the first HP movie.  Emma is very fashion-forward, and encourages Elizabeth to help find the greatest outfits with new combinations of colors, textures and patterns.  Like plaid baby blanket sarongs and hot pink snow boots.
Elizabeth started all day kindergarten this year.  It took her about a week and a half at the beginning of the school year to overcome her extreme fear of her school’s self-flushing toilets.  That was a fun time.  She has begun to attend 4-H with her big sister, doing cooking and craft classes.  Elizabeth is the self-appointed Official Taste Tester whenever her mom cooks, and is not shy about making “suggestions” on what her mom should cook.  (Cookies for dinner, anyone?)
Annie and Maddie are obsessed with trains and babies.  They love The Polar Express movie and Dinosaur Train show on PBS.  They are also developing their talent for the destruction of an entire room in under 5 seconds.  Annie and Maddie are practicing for their careers as strippers (I assume, since they never leave their clothes on).  Either that or shoe connoisseurs/thieves, since they often have on a pair of their mom, dad or older sisters’ shoes.  They are embracing their Terrible Twos stage, and can throw quite a loud tantrum (Annie especially- she’s good at smacking her head on the floor to make herself cry even louder). 

Ryan has traded-in his classroom for a backpack and a laptop, and become an itinerant teacher.  Not by choice, but as his classroom isn’t inhabitable at the moment, he’s making due by teaching in other’s classrooms- a different one each period.  He’s been told his new classroom will be ready at the beginning of the next school year, but he’s not holding his breath, since the remodel of the high school has already hit a major snag.  Ryan is teaching the 16-18 year olds class of Sunday School at church these days, so the lucky guy is always surrounded by teenagers.  In his spare time, Ryan mows the lawn.

Danae is the disaster-control unit for the twins by day and family historian (aka blogger) by night.  Ok, more like early evening, since I’m a wee bit exhausted by the end of the day to be up very late.  I like to pretend I have free time and escape into the pages of a book.  (At least we know where Emma gets it.)  And I teach the 4-5 year-olds class in Primary on Sundays.

Ryan and I got to escape for a week (third year in a row, thanks to Grandpa Camp!  Big, big thank you to the in-laws!) to Florida courtesy of our friends, James and Tiffany, who let us tag along to their time-share in Orlando.  Ryan and I visited Epcot and Magic Kingdom at Disney World for the first time.  We also played in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean and thoroughly burnt our Pacific Northwest skin.  Apparently spf 50 isn’t enough for the likes of us.

We piled all the kids and as much stuff as our minivan could hold, and took the family on a road trip to California this summer to visit some of Ryan’s relatives.  We went to the Monterey Aquarium, played at the beach, visited the old San Juan Bautista Mission and got to be the circus at Ryan’s grandma’s 80th birthday party. 

So, that’s us and our year in a nutshell.  Our blog is updated fairly frequently, so feel free to drop by: {old blog address}.  We hope that this missive finds everyone well.  Have a very Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year!

Inexplicably, the computer seems to have eaten the 2011 version of our newsletter.  Which is why the rest are going on-line to be saved.

Newsletter '09

Seasons greetings!

 What a year it has been at our house.  With 4 very active children, it is difficult to find a moment to gather a few things to share with you from our year.  Emma is 6, Elizabeth is 4, and Annie and Maddie turned 1 year old last month.  They all love each other very much, but it’s not uncommon to hear things like, “Annie is a spider and I’m squishing her.”  I also say many things that I never knew I would ever have to say, such as, “We don’t lock sisters in the cupboard.”  But when Annie and Maddie empty out the kitchen drawers and cupboards on a daily basis, cupboards present themselves as amazing forts.

Emma is in the dual language class in 1st grade.   She seems to be speaking with a pretty good accent (to me anyway), but Ryan is often as puzzled as I am at gathering what she’s trying to say.  She reads very well, and we will often find her asleep on the floor in front of her bedroom door, having tried to use the light under the door to read a book after she’s supposed to be in bed.

Elizabeth loves morning preschool and Primary at church.  She loves to yell sing and run around, and color and cut paper until it is in about 150 pieces on the floor.  She is good about sweeping them up and putting them in the garbage afterwards.  Most of the time.  Her teacher at school told me that when she refers to her big sister at school, Elizabeth always calls her, “My Emma.”  She is also the self-appointed official Taste Tester when I cook.

Annie and Maddie are learning to speak.  Between the two of them, I think they have 50+ words, 4 or 5 of which are recognizable English.  The other 45 are a cross of Chinese, German and some lost civilization’s language of clicks, grunts and shrieks.  Annie and Maddie travel as a unit, which they have found causes the most destruction in the smallest amount of time.  And they politely put up with their mom’s need to play dumb games like peek-a-boo, where’s the binky and kiss-y face.

Ryan wins Best Dad Award for changing roughly 5000 diapers this year (if you think that’s good, just think about how many I changed), and letting me escape periodically by watching all the kids.  He also wins Most Crazy for playing handyman and ripping out our old kitchen and putting in a new one.  Really, what were we thinking to be without a kitchen during the week of spring break?  That moment all your old cabinets and sink are in the backyard, and the big appliances and new cupboards are in the living room, you start to wonder what the heck you got yourself into.  But it turned out great; Ryan did an amazing job. 

Let’s see, some of the year’s other developments.  Ryan and I got away again this summer by ourselves.  (Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!)  We visited Ryan’s sister out in North Carolina.  We both visited DC and the Atlantic Ocean for the first time while we were out there.  It’s wonderful to spend time as a couple, even when you manage to still refer to each other as Mom and Dad when the kids aren’t around.  Our great accomplishment of the year was to singlehandedly keep the diaper and formula industry afloat.  We have recently switched away from formula and are now doing our part for the dairy industry. 

We’ve had some exciting moments as a family when we go out in public.  People think it’s amazing how we’ve defied the laws of probability and have four daughters.  It’s touching how strangers remark on that fact, and how their sympathy reaches out to Ryan with words of “hormones,” “bathrooms,” and “teenagers.”

Merry Christmas!

Christmas newsletter '08

I am adding my Christmas newsletters to this year's blog entries so I can print them off in my annual blog book printing.  Here is the version I sent out in 2008.

Hello family and friends!
Another year draws to a close and what a crazy year it has been.  It’s time to take a step back and just be amazed at the turns life takes. 

Several big events graced our lives this past year.  Ryan and I took a week long trip without any children to Maui with some friends of ours in July.  It was wonderful to do all sorts of activities without reference to questions like, “Does it interfere with nap/bed time?” “Will the kids behave?” “Are there child-friendly activities?”  We went snorkeling, drove the Road to Hana, made sand castles, went to the top of Haleakala, took in a luau and were out after 8 pm!  Perhaps after another 7 years of marriage, we’ll do something crazy like this again!

We traded in our car for a Kia minivan.  When you get the news that you are expecting twins, there are some big changes and adjustments you need to make.  That is, once the shock wears off in a month or two.  We had to shuffle all the stuff in our computer/craft/it-doesn’t-fit-anywhere-else room into other areas of the house to make a room for the babies, paint the room, and then accumulate enough stuff for two babies.  Two cribs, swings, bouncers, high chairs, diapers and more diapers and more diapers…  Our house, which we once thought was the perfect size for us, has begun to feel a little cramped at times. 

Ryan is on his 5th year teaching at Sunnyside High School.  He still does FFA and detention and all other Ag teacher activities.  He also is still the 2nd counselor in the bishopric, which has given us the opportunity to get to know more people in the ward.  In fact, we’ve been more or less adopted into a couple families, which has been a real lifesaver lately.  Ryan was the garden master this year, responsible for the great garden produce we enjoyed.  We had more tomatoes and zucchini than we knew what to do with, as well as beets, cantaloupe, corn, and two kinds of beans.  He even started a remodeling project in our house that will hopefully be finished sometime next year.  Ever the joker, he keeps things lively and interesting at our house.

Danae keeps busy with all the usual mom-type jobs and activities.  She perhaps should have been grateful for the periods of enforced rest (meaning bed rest), but it actually drove her crazy.  Aside from those times, she goes to a book club, play group, story time at the library and likes to hang out with her mom friends.  She also enjoys blogging, (is way behind in) scrapbooking, baking, taking walks, reading and laughing at episodes of the Bachelor with friends.

Emma started full-day kindergarten this year.  Her teacher says she is a wonderful and smart student (which of course we knew already).  She is learning how to read and has an amazing memory.  She is in the dual language program, and dazzles us with her budding Spanish skills daily.  She loves her Primary class. 

Elizabeth is one very active 3-year-old.  She literally talks all day long and loves to be the center of attention.  She discovered dress up this year, and will layer many different items over one another for some very unique looks.  She is attending a preschool class one day a week.  Elizabeth was potty trained earlier this year, and we enjoyed a few diaper-free months.

Anne and Madeline joined our family November 3rd at 8:45 pm and 8:54 pm respectively.  It was the easiest labor and delivery a mother of twins could ever hope for.  They were beautiful and healthy and weighing in at 5 and ½ lbs each.  The last 6 weeks have been a rough journey in balancing and newborn care, all the while being sleep-deprived and blurry-eyed, but we are surviving.  We look forward to 5 or 6, or even (gasp) 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep someday.  I hear that’s normal for some people.

 We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Monday, December 12, 2011


You know when you are a brand new parent of your first child, you do everything as "right" as possible.  You wash the binkies when they fall on the floor.  You water down juice.  You avoid all sugary foods for the first 364 days of their life.  (But they get a lovely, sugar-filled cupcake with frosting for their 1st birthday.)  Your child is full clothed with onsie, shirt, pants, coat, socks, boots, hat and gloves when you go out during the winter.  And an extra blanket.  You latch the car seat in the middle of the backseat because the all-knowing safety people say that's the safest spot in the car.

So tonight we went caroling with 3 other families, plus one of the family's mother and father-in-law.  We had the most and oldest kids out of the bunch.  Our kids were the ones who take off their boots and socks, so we just threw the boots back on and left the socks (Annie and Maddie).  No one had gloves on.

Once we loaded all our kids into the van, and we were waiting on others to finish up, we were reminiscing about having fewer children and all of those "right" things we used to do.  That's when Ryan realized that we have 4 children, all in different seats in the minivan and not one of them was in that "safe" spot in the backseat.  Not one.


But then, who would get to sit there?  Our favorite child?  How do you choose that?  I mean, often it depends on the day.  Or the hour.  Then we'd have to shuffle the car seats around, and really, that would be a pain.

So I guess we are equal-opportunity.  They are all equally at-risk in the case of a car crash.

Good thing we have the big, heavy minivan with side curtain airbags.

Gingerbread Houses

Yesterday after church, once the twins were down for their nap, Emma and Elizabeth got out the craft foam "gingerbread house" kits from their grandparents.  Instead of sitting down nicely at the table to make them, they spread out over the whole kitchen floor.
 My mad building skills were needed for the assembly of the houses.  After that, I was more of a support person- which pieces belonged to each house after a slight mix-up.  I also was in charge of the glue gun.  It isn't a proper craft project if the glue gun isn't used. :)
L-Elizabeth, R-Emma

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Yesterday Ryan and I took Emma and Elizabeth to see the Nutcracker ballet.  We had really nice seats- only 5 rows from the front.

(Pardon my less than stellar photos- it was low light and only my cell phone camera.)

We arrived just as they started letting people go in the theater, so aside from the long walk from our parking space, we were able to just walk right in.  Then the half hour waiting game began.  (How many exit signs are there?  etc.)

At intermission, they gave us free hot cider that took us about 10 minutes to drink.  It took us that long to cool it off enough to taste it.

Emma totally got into it.  Her eyes were pretty glued to the stage and dancers.  Elizabeth enjoyed about the first hour, before becoming a wiggle worm.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Choo Choo

We were invited over to a friend's house to make candy trains.  I've made a couple of gingerbread houses in my day, but the trains were new to me.  But it didn't involve praying that the royal icing would hold the walls and roof together and then breaking out the hot glue, and I had an excuse to buy 4 candy bars, so we were excited.

I think technically we were supposed to use each candy bar to make a train car for one long train.  But my children are the kind who elbow each other and snatch the last 4 pieces of candy as another is reaching for that particular kind, so we opted for separate and unattached train cars.
Mmm.... frosting.... Lots and lots of frosting.
We try hard to be creative. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Emma's Trip

If you have been paying attention, Emma was conspicuously absent in the last couple of posts.  Here's why:

As mentioned before, Ryan's brother and his wife were expecting a baby.  As that due date drew closer, Ryan's parents asked if they could take Emma with them to go see the new baby when he made his appearance.  So last Tuesday (my birthday) we got word that Blair's water had broken and Rick and Kim would pick Emma up bright and early Wednesday morning.

They arrived on our doorstep at 4:30 Wednesday morning after a 3 hour drive from their house.  I don't even consider that officially morning yet.  But they had 10 more hours to go, and I wasn't driving, so who am I to complain?

After all that driving, they barely missed the arrival of baby Simon (9 lbs 12 oz- holy moly) by about 15 minutes.  Blair, you are my hero.  I can't even imagine birthing a baby that big by natural means, let alone as a 1st baby.
 Grandma with the oldest and youngest grandchildren.  7 grandchildren in 8 1/2 years.  This is the first grandson though.
Michael, Blair and baby Simon.

They came home on Sunday.  I'm glad to have my Emma home again.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lighted Farm Implement Parade

This year I wanted to do something different.  In past years, I wrangle my children on the side of the parade route and point out Daddy for the minute he's in view for the girls to yell and wave at the FFA float.  We arrived early and hauled the camp chairs, winter clothing, snacks, blankets and hand warmers from our parking space down to the parade route and to freeze our little bums off.  Two of the years Ryan's parents came down to sit with us, and one year Ryan took off (his FFA kids weren't terribly interested and the twins were just born and well...  I may have not exactly been a supportive wife at that point in time; I was just tired.) and the year Elizabeth learned to walk we just didn't go.  That girl ran away from me every chance she got and I figured the headline, "Little Girl Maimed/Trampled/Lost During Parade" would be a festive mood-killer.   So this year, I thought it would be cool to hang out with Ryan and be in the parade.  (I could also cross off the "Be in a parade" entry on my Things To Do Before I Die list.)

About 45 minutes before the parade started, we met up with Ryan at his float.
Then we walked around to see most of the floats before being stuck in the truck for the next 85 minutes.
 It really is such a cool parade, and that's why 1000s of people come to watch it in our little town.
All piled in the school truck.  The high schoolers sat on the "float" in back, and the school Grizzly mascot walked around high-five-ing parade watchers.  And one of Ryan's students tied a camp chair to the top of the truck and rode up there with a fake white felt Santa beard and hat.   Thankfully, he didn't fall off.
Our view of the parade. :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Cookies

We took the kids to decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus at the Darigold factory yesterday.  It's a tradition for the first Saturday of December here in town that the kids look forward to.  Upon arrival some or other of the local "royalty" (aka Miss S- court, Miss Cinco de Mayo court, Dairy Ambassador) gave the kids aprons and boxes with two sugar cookies.  Then we searched for an open spot at one of the tables so the kids can smear colored frosting on themselves the cookies.  And then the cram as many M&Ms, Skittles, sprinkles, gummy bears and whatever else they can get their sugar-happy fingers on.

But look at those happy smiles.
Afterwards, we got in line to see Santa. 
It's officially Christmas time!