Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Recommended For...Someone

We love around our house.  Especially at Christmas time.  The more shopping I can do without actually leaving my house the better.

If you are a user of amazon, you're probably familiar with how they keep track of your purchases and then give you recommendations based on those.  However, because most of my purchases this time of year are for people other than myself, the recommendations aren't always things I, personally, would be interested in.

Today, for example, I logged on and found that amazon was suggesting I purchase the following four items:

Lego Road Construction Set.  This item makes sense because Santa brings us a new Lego set every year.  And it's actually pretty cool and something the girls would probably enjoy.

Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales (Library of America).  I also understand where this one came from.  Chris has become obsessed with this publishing company and his fondest dream may possibly be to one day own every volume.  I bought him a volume of Mark Twain's writings for Christmas, but he'd love the Poe.

Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids By Keeping Your Cool.  I'm a little worried about this one.  Why does amazon think I need to learn the art of Screamfree Parenting?  I haven't purchased a parenting book from them (or reviewed one) in at least five years.  It sounds like a good idea, but this recommendation is actually kinda freaking me out, Big Brother style.

Radio Control Giant Tarantula.  I have absolutely no idea where they got the idea that I'd ever, in a million years, want one of these.

But if I had one, I could see where the Screamfree Parenting could come in handy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Just You Wait

Our family of five got a total of four new cameras for Christmas.

Santa brought the girls each a digital camera (this is what, ahem, Santa was doing at Best Buy at 5:00 in the morning on Black Friday), and Chris's parents gave us a video camera.

Ellie has at least 400 shots of random blurry shapes.

Lexi has at least 400 shots of all her new toys, from every conceivable angle.

Vicki has at least 350 shots of various family members doing various things, and 50 shots of her grandpa's bald spot (which he doesn't believe exists - she's trying to prove it to him.)  She's trying to talk me into letting her have her own blog.

We have all kinds of Christmas morning present-opening video footage, as well as a rousing game of Guesstures with my family.  In addition to all the still pictures Chris and I have on both our cameras of all three girls skiing on Christmas Eve, playing in the snow at Grandma Y.'s house, and opening their presents.

And when we get home to our own computer, I'll be sharing them with you.  Probably not all of them, but probably a lot of them.

I bet you can hardly wait!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

It's Christmas Eve!  I can't wait for tomorrow - Chris and I may be more excited than the girls.  Although we weren't the ones counting our presents under the tree this morning.

We learned the hard way today that it's not a good idea to ski on an empty stomach.  Or without drinking any water.  Vicki's feeling much better now, but it's a good thing we keep garbage bags in the glove compartment.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas.

If you tell a kid they're going to have a great time doing something kind of scary, they will.  Ah, the power of suggestion.

Mittens are a good idea.

I can't think of anything else to say, so...

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods

Pictures added!!!

This year's drive to Utah was significantly less eventful than last year's.  Of course, it's hard to top a violent snowstorm combined with not-quite-as-violent stomach flu.  This year the roads were (mostly) clear, and no one was throwing up.  Such has become my criteria for a good drive to Utah.

We pulled out at the unholy hour of half past three in the morning.  I don't know if there is any hour that is truly holy, but if there is, 3:30am is definitely not it.  The main reason we leave so early is because, in theory, the girls go right back to sleep in the car and we have a peaceful four or five hours at the start of the trip.

I say "in theory", because in reality what happens every. single. year is that they get excited about the prospect of going to Grandma's house and bounce around in their seats for an hour before we finally lose it and announce that the next person who makes a noise will spend the first three hours at Grandma's house in car in the driveway.  At which point they get the message and fall asleep for about an hour.

I was drifting in and out of consciousness (fortunately, Chris was driving) when I heard Ellie's overexcited voice shout out from the backseat, "Hey, I know where we're going to!  Grandma and Grandpa's house!"  After laughing at the obviousness of the statement, we realized that the stretch of road we were on looked like the road up Parley's Canyon to Grandma and Grandpa Y.'s house.  I can't believe that, after a year, she can remember what that drive looks like, but apparently so.  And with that, everyone was awake and the fun began.

When I was little my family took road trips from Oklahoma to California.  To break up the monotony, my parents came up with the idea of 100-mile treats.  We always thought that we got a treat every 100 miles, although I learned that my Dad's idea of 100 miles didn't always agree with the odometer.  The tradition has continued.  Over the course of the nearly 800-mile drive the girls got 4 treats.  Vicki, ever the stickler for precision, has caught on, but the other two are, fortunately, still in the dark.  When I was little, the treats were always edible and usually candy, but in the interest of dental hygiene, the treats this time consisted of coloring books and crayons, a new movie, fruit snacks, and mini Oreos.  Just enough to keep them quiet for 10 minutes before the Are we there yets and the Has it been 100 miles yets kicked back in.

Normally Chris and I trade off driving, but over the coarse of the trips Chris has come to realize that the lack of leg room in the passenger seat far outweighs the boredom of driving, so he volunteered to drive the whole way this year. 

And I got squished.

The girls did nap, briefly, at around the 11-hour mark. 

I have to give them props here, because while I may complain about the lack of leg room in the front seat, the three of them were crammed together in the back of a Subaru wagon for 12 hours with backpacks, dolls, blankets, pillows, and bags of food.  We had a talk before we left about being understanding of the fact that your sister has just as little room as you do, and for the most part they handled it well.  Elbows seem to be our biggest issue, so we're thinking of just strapping their arms to their sides for the drive home.

But we made it.

We saw lots of livestock (the girls stopped shouting, "Look! Cows!" after the 10th farm), fluffy snowflakes, a french fry factory, falcons perched on road signs, highway evangelism, and an overturned semi truck, spilling onions from the overpass to the freeway below.  And finally...Grandma's house!!!

It was by far not the worst 12 hours I've ever spent in a car, but I'm thankful it's over and we can enjoy the next two weeks with family and old friends.

And I'm extremely thankful that it will be two weeks before I have to do it again.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

Today is a run-around-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cut-off kind of day.

And yet here I am at the computer.

My sister-in-law did a post on her blog not long ago where she posted pictures of the inside of several of her closets. If I did that, you’d see that the girls’ closet is knee-deep in clothes (I am not exaggerating in the slightest) because Ellie couldn’t find her “ballerina princess dress” and tried to take matters into her own hands. Not the best timing on her part.

Today I sent my middle daughter to school with a ponytail holder sporting a small dog on a platform in her hair. It’s huge and hideous, but she loves it.

Of course, I wore hot pink bike shorts to school and thought they looked good, so who am I to judge?

I wonder if anyone ever describes my family to other people as “...interesting” or “...different.”

I like that Russell won on SYTYCD last night. I’ve liked him from the beginning. And Lexi thinks he’s cute (heaven help us – she’s attracted to dreadlocks?)

Why does it always seem like no matter how well I plan, I’m packing for vacation the day before?

I hate laundry, that’s why.

Next Random Thoughts Thursday will be Christmas Eve! Holy cow, how did that happen?

I canNOT forget to take my camera to Utah.

My little two-year-old babysitting buddy just walked in the room and said, “Ni-hao.” Okay, I know she’s smart, but now she speaks Chinese?

I need a good book.

Okay, time to get to work.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Potato, Potahto

We’re a bit obsessed with reading around here.

You may not have noticed.

But it’s true.

So it’s only natural that Ellie would want to learn to read, just like the rest of the family.

We bought a set of Bob Books (side note: until I searched for the site so I could link to it, I had no idea that these books originated in Portland.  How cool is that?) when Vicki was about three and we were gung-ho my-kid-will-be-reading-War and Peace-by-kindergarten parents. They’re cute, simple, and fun. She and Lexi both loved learning to read with them, and Chris got them back out a few weeks ago when Ellie came to him with a chapter book and announced, “Daddy, today you’re going to teach me how to read!” He figured it was better to start small. Smart man.

Ellie knows all the letters and the majority of their sounds. So putting the sounds together is the logical next step, and she’s quite proud of her newfound abilities.

She’s also incredibly stubborn and just overly self-confident enough to believe that one reading lesson is enough. She’s convinced she should now be moving on to the Harry Potter books like everyone else in the family.

The other day she sat down beside me with a Bob Book and said, “Sit back, Mommy.  I’m gonna to read to you!”

She opened to the first page. “See, Mom, the letters are M-A-T. They say Mmmmm...Aaaaaa...Tuh!!”

When I told  Chris this story, he informed me that the first night they read them, Ellie kept trying to pronounce the "o" sound in the word "Bob" as "oo".  So she kept saying "Buh-oo-buh...B-oo-b...Boob!" and poor Daddy almost cracked a rib holding in the laughter.

Clearly, we have our work cut out for us.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Most Real Things in the World

This is the year it finally happened. I’ve been dreading it for a while now. I even thought it was over a year and a half ago, but that particular incident seems to have been forgotten.

This year, though, Vicki and her friends held a conference. They sat around their table at school and discussed Santa Claus. Was he real? Was he just their parents? Should they still believe in something that seemed so impossible?

When she came to me and demanded, “Tell me the truth”, I knew the game was over.

She’s 9 years old and in the 4th grade. She’s been asking about the Tooth Fairy for a while. I should have seen it coming. We’ve even had THE TALK with her, so it's not like I'm not aware that she's growing up.

But I wasn’t ready for this one!

After a day and a half of neither admitting nor denying anything, I finally worked up the nerve to fill her in. I told her the story of the little girl named Virginia O'Hanlon who wrote to a newspaper with the very same question.  Over the course of the conversation (the first response to which was an exultant, "I KNEW it!!!"  Sigh.) a lot of her questions were answered (for example, “Why does Target advertise stuff as a ‘great stocking stuffer’? Does Santa really shop at Target?”) and we had a really good mother-oldest daughter conversation.

She’s concluded that while she doesn’t believe in Santa as an actual person anymore, she still wants to believe in him as an idea, which I encourage. I pointed out that we don’t believe in the wizarding world of Harry Potter as a real world that co-exists with ours, but we still believe in the magic of the idea. Santa’s the same.

The most important part of our conversation centered around a comment she made when I told her Santa was the spirit of Christmas. She said, “But I thought Jesus was the spirit of Christmas.” I explained that Jesus is the Reason for Christmas – it’s a celebration of His birth and without Him there would be no need for Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is giving, and Santa is a representation and personification of that. The Savior gave us the Ultimate Gift, and when we give to others, it’s a way of remembering Him.

In the words of newspaper reporter Francis Pharcellus Church, who wrote the reply to Virginia in 1897, “The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see....Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”

I'm relieved that Vicki will always believe in Santa Claus, even if she knows now who really leaves the presents.  At the end of the tooth fairy post I linked to above, I wrote, "I think Vicki will love being in on all the secrets, whenever that time comes, just as much as she loves believing right now."  This appears to be true.

Additionally, I do have to say: I still believe in Santa Claus!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

Chris and I discovered our new favorite store last night. HomeGoods. It’s like Ross for household stuff. If you need a white elephant gift, I highly recommend looking there. My favorite find: a 4-foot-tall wooden pepper grinder. For $96.

I’ve been having panic attacks all morning because I realized just how little time is left before we leave for Utah for Christmas!

But my shopping is done! (except for my brother. He’s hard to shop for.)

I wish the Chex Muddy Buddies I made last week had lasted longer than a day. I need a fix.

It looks like such a gorgeous day outside. Too bad it’s still below freezing.

Why do crayons smell so yucky in large quantities? Or is that just me? I also can’t stand the smell of balloons once they’ve started losing their air. Yeah, maybe it’s just me.

I have the song “Mele Kalikimaka” going through my head. So very, very annoying.

I’m ticked off that I paid $20 for something on amazon as a pre-order, and the day after it arrived at my door they had it on sale for $10.

What part of “don’t play in Mom & Dad’s room” do my children not understand? Seriously!

I can’t find Cherry Cordial Hershey Kisses anywhere! Help! Christmas isn’t complete without them!

I am the slowest texter on the planet.

I’m getting kind of whiny and negative, aren’t I?

Okay, here’s positive: I loved hearing Vicki and the rest of the school choir sing at the Grotto on Tuesday! And I can’t wait to hear them sing again on Saturday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Lord Will Provide

Luke 1:26-34, according to Lexi:

Once there was a lady called Mary. An angel came to her one day and told her that she was going to have a baby. Mary said, “But how can I have a baby? I don’t even know a man!”

And the angel said, “Don’t worry. God will find you a man!”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Random Thoughts Thursday

I love Christmas music.

I wish I knew where the socks were disappearing to.  My box of mismatched socks is overflowing.

Today would be a good day for cocoa and a good chick flick.  Baby, it's cold outside.

What?  Only one more episode of Glee?  What will I do while I fold laundry on Wednesday nights?

Apparently Belle the Disney Princess is all-powerful.  At least that's what Ellie says.  Sort of like Superman in a ball gown, I guess.

I just bought a new Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas CD.  And another generic Christmas CD.  Walmart has won another sucker.

I think I have two more Christmas presents to buy and I'm DONE!!!  (thank you!  One stop shopping indeed.)

Why do kids love hot dogs so much?

I remember when I was a kid and Christmas seemed SO FAR away.  And birthdays.  Now I feel like the time goes so fast, but I'm glad I have my kids to help remind me that it's not that way for everyone.

Why won't the house stay clean?

It's a bit belated, but if you haven't read the infamous Thanksgiving Letter on Awkward Family Photos, you really must.  I'm so glad no one in my family is like this.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shameless Plugging

I'm on the mailing list for the Imago Theatre here in Portland, and though we rarely ever go to shows there, we still think it's a great little theatre company.  This morning I got an email with a link to a YouTube video of clips from their show Biglittlethings.  Two years ago we took the older girls to see it, and it was amazing.  They put it on this time each year, and I highly recommend it.  So if anyone in the Portland area is looking for some great holiday family fun, this is a fantastic idea.


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